Monday, September 18, 2017

GrITs!


Finally, The Slumgullion Returns! With Mrs. C! Scott's Tales of Southern Gothic Cuisine! Star WarsFirefly! Running Gags! Two non-Stephen King fans talking about a Stephen King movie!

Please click below and enjoy.


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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Happy Birthday, Sheri!

Astronaut/Supermodel/Spy S.Z. wearing the pelts of the cats who have wronged her.

I kid. Sheri has saved more cats' lives than cats have lives. Dogs too. And she's also visited the orphans and widows in their affliction, and kept herself unstained from the world with the aid of a good bleach pen.

In short, she's the best, most humane, and yet somehow also the funniest person I've ever known. She's like St. Francis of Assisi if he was female and also had a killer stand-up act. And today's her birthday!...which I'm not going to forget the way I forgot the 14th anniversary of World O' Crap (which she herself birthed) on August 20. (Okay, I didn't actually forget, but I was stuck standing around a truck stop in rural Alabama watching a very eccentric performance, which caused Sheri to decide that the movie I was working on is entitled Alabama Truck Stop [which to my ear sounds like a rollicking Harry Novack-style hillbilly sex romp from 1973], and offer up an image that I wish was our actual poster...

...because that would mean my life is a Peter Bogdanovich movie of a Larry McMurtry novel, instead of whatever weird-ass hullaballoo it's turned into).

However...this isn't about me. Or my problems with eccentric actors and sodium. We've come to praise Sheri, founder of Wo'C, afflicter of the comfortable, and that rare, genuine comforter of the afflicted. And while I do have a two-minute song prepared, I didn't come dressed to move, so instead, I'm going to turn her name over to an aggressive psychic who gives online astrology readings and fills up your emailbox with spam.

No, of course I'm not, because that would be cruel (and something she's already done to me), so instead, let's all tell her fortune as a fun group activity.
The zodiac sign for September 12 is Virgo. 
 Astrological symbol: Maiden.
Iron Maiden.
The sign of the Maiden influences people born between August 23 and September 22, when in tropical astrology the Sun is considered to be in Virgo.
Tropical Astrology was my favorite quick tanning foam when I was a teenager, but it could streak if you perspired, and often produced tan lines that resembled crabs and bulls.
It refers to the intelligence and clear behavior of these individuals.
People without intelligence and with unclear behavior ignore the Maiden and tend to be more influenced by the Trump.
The Virgo Constellation is one of the twelve constellations of the zodiac.
Collect all twelve!
 It is the second largest, spread on an area of 1294 square degrees.
So it's got plenty of closet space, and a livable basement.
The name Virgo is the Latin name defining Virgin, the September 12 zodiac sign in French it is Vierge and in Greek it is Arista.
In English it is Ben Shapiro.
 Modality: Mobile.
Virgos are gifted with the strange ability to move from place to place, utilizing ocean currents and their muscular abdomen.
Ruling house:
Uh...Harkonnen, I think.
 Element: Earth.
Which sadly never had a hit as a solo artist after it split from Wind & Fire.

But here's the key thing:
Lucky day: Wednesday. 
Which is tomorrow, so there's still time to buy a lottery ticket (if Sheri hadn't already spent all her disposable income on the upkeep of rescued animals, which she probably has). This is exactly the kind of timely, up-to-the-minute reporting that people expect from World O' Crap!

So please join me in wishing Sheri a birthday at least half as wonderful as she is, and please enjoy this geographically pertinent...

Sexy Birthday Lizard!

Lastly, if you've got an urge to do something nice for someone who does nothing but nice for others, click here and drop a few bucks in the pay pal bucket of Four Paws, the "non-profit, volunteer-run organization...dedicated to helping homeless dogs and cats" that Sheri works with.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Okay, But I Wasn't JUST Whistling "Dixie"...


I barely escaped Alabama alive. 

Not that I was a fugitive from a chain gang.

And not that I'd transgressed the local customs and left one step ahead of an angry mob toting buckets of hot tar and sacks of goose down. Quite the contrary; so many people offered me so many unsolicited greetings in so many unexpected venues -- in the grocery store, on the street, in the Mens Room -- that I was in a constant state of politesse-induced panic.

It wasn't even the workload, which after the first week was manageable enough that I had time to walk around, gawk at things, and perspire like a Yellow Fever patient.


It was the food that was killing me. It was the delicious, delightful, deadly food. 

Now I'm no expert on the cuisine of southern Alabama, and for all I know there were a multitude of hippie communes selling sustainable kale wraps out of roadside stands woven from hemp stems. I just know that every edible thing I found in the downtown area was salty, fatty, fried, and fatal. Which was also my experience the first time I came to Alabama back in 2003 to write Frankenfish, and I found myself asking the same question:

How is anybody alive in this state?

The way they eat, you'd expect to drive across the border and see nothing but bloated corpses bracketing the highway, the landscape permeated by an eerie silence broken only occasionally by the angry caw of two crows fighting over a length of intestine. 

I'm not saying the barbecue isn't tasty, because it is, and if you sit inside at a place like Moe's, or Dreamland, your clothes will smell like smoked meat for a week afterwards, so it's like they're sending you home with a doggie bag for your nose.  But everything's fried, and vegetables are surprisingly hard to come by as a side dish, except for grits, which I suppose is technically a vegetable, since it's made from corn. And butter. Actually, I'm pretty sure the Four Food Groups in Alabama are corn, butter, pork, and frying medium. 

I got so desperate for roughage that I actually ordered that classic Power Lunch of the Mid-80s Woman Executive, the chicken Caesar salad, even though I wasn't wearing one of those silk blouses with a pussy bow. But after one or two bites I dropped my fork, because it was too salty. It was, in fact, the saltiest salad I'd ever had. I daresay deers who live for a nice big salt lick would have taken a single taste of this Caesar salad and gone, "Ehhhh...No. My blood pressure..."


But aside from retaining water, I had an enjoyable time in Mobile, writing dialogue for a gifted and famously eccentric actor, even though I packed a small bag thinking I'd be there only three days, and wound up staying for three weeks. Me and the old ladies at the coin laundry next to the Whattaburger got to be quite chummy.

Unfortunately, the Unwritten Rules of the Rewriter prevent me from saying much about the experience, although I do delve into a little more detail in the upcoming podcast, because those aren't susceptible to Google searches.

Anyway, I'm back, and apologize for the blog blackout. And to make up for it, here are candid shots of the cats' excited, adoring faces when I walked through the door after my long absence...



Saturday, August 12, 2017

Travel Day


Getting out of the apartment for the first time in a couple of months and flying cross-country today. That usually goes smoothly, right?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rants In Your Pants!

New Slumgullion!

Scott and Jeff are joined by Mary for some Star Wars and Star Trek news (by which I mean complaints), before chatting about the pilot for the Joss Whedon series Firefly, because life is a brief candle, all too soon burnt out, so you should find as many new and exciting ways to waste it as possible.

Then The Dark Tower sets Jeff's tongue on fire, and it runs around his mouth for a good ten minutes, completely forgetting to stop, drop, and roll. Finally, the Unknown Movie Challenge this episode is Atomic Blonde, and features a UMC first: a completely spoiler-free review! If you don't count Scott's overly detailed exegesis of James McAvoy's elevator shoes.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Happy International Cat Day!

The Two Stages of Cat:


On the right, a Cat who is chill and carefree and doesn't have a Twitter account.  On the left, a Cat who possesses the feral vigilance and keen senses of her jungle ancestors, and also a vague uneasiness about the President's policy on the first use of nuclear weapons.


MOONDOGGIE: Great. Now I can't sleep, either.

SHADOW:  Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer.

MOONDOGGIE: I mean, what if North Korea succeeds in miniaturizing their nuclear warheads and mounting one on an ICBM capable of hitting the Whiskas Temptations plant in McLean, Virginia?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Farewell John Heard


John Heard turned in a multitude of fine performances over the years (as witnessed by the fact that Sheri and I only wrote about one movie in which he appeared, and he wasn't even the star), and I always thought it was too bad his career didn't start earlier in the 1970s, when mainstream movies were riskier and more indie-like, and better equipped to take full advantage of an actor I like to think of as the WASPy Richard Dreyfuss.

Anyway, please take your seats; the service is about to begin...

Ahem! Our reading today comes from the book of Better Living Through Bad Movies. Chapter 6: Chick Flicks vs. Ick Flicks...

Beaches (1988)
Directed by Garry Marshall
Written by Iris Rainer Dart (novel) and Mary Agnes Donoghue

Bette Midler is rehearsing for her big concert at the Hollywood Bowl when she gets a message that causes her to abandon the gig and head to San Francisco. As she drives and cries, we flash back twenty or thirty years (depending on how old we are supposed to believe Bette Midler is); voila, we’re at Atlantic City, and Bette is TV’s Blossom. Back then she was a foul-mouthed, histrionic, whiny show business brat—and a much more interesting performer. She’s smoking under the boardwalk when she meets a lost little rich wuss named Hillary. Blossom forces Hillary to watch her bump ’n grind version of “Glory of Love” before she’ll take her back to her hotel. Hillary likes Blossom’s singing. Blossom likes it that Hillary likes her singing. So, the two girls become friends for life.

They are the best of pen pals until they’re 21, when Hillary turns into Barbara Hershey and comes to New York to escape her sheltered life. Bette invites Barb to share her squalid apartment, and it’s a festival of sisterhood as the two women dye their hair together, sing Christmas carols, do each other’s laundry, and synchronize their menstrual cycles.

To pay the rent, Bette dresses up like a killer rabbit from Night of the Lepus and delivers singing telegrams to John Heard. He is so impressed that he invites her to audition for the play he’s directing. Despite the fact that John’s production is so off-Broadway it’s actually in the Hudson River, Bette falls in love with him. But he only has eyes for Barb (actually, his character seems kinda light in the loafers, but the movie claims he’s smitten by Barbara). Following Bette’s triumphant debut in John’s weird musical about evil mimes, Barbara helps John celebrate by sleeping with him. Bette shouts at Barbara, “So much for you and your feminist principles!” and tells Gloria Steinem to revoke Barbara’s NOW membership on account of hussiness. Barbara explains that she couldn’t help herself, since John Heard was “the most attractive man I’ve met in my life.” It seems she really did live a sheltered existence.

Barbara returns to San Francisco, so, it’s back to letters and over-dubbed narration to let us know what’s happening in their lives. Bette becomes a Broadway star. (It seems surprisingly easy—one day she just is one. I don’t know why more people don’t do it). Barbara becomes a socialite and marries a jerk. Bette counters by marrying John Heard.

Barbara visits New York to see Bette’s musical about the invention of undergarments, and to be bitchy. John Heard is still attracted to Barbara, which infuriates Bette, but since he is also suffering from “A Star is Born Syndrome,” we already know this marriage is doomed. The two women have a shouting match in a department store, and the friendship is over.

Life goes on. Bette goes home to mother because John wasn’t paying attention to her. Mother tells her that everybody is tired of paying attention to her, and she should just get used to it. (No, this doesn’t mean the filmmakers realized that the audience is bored and ended the movie—it just means that you have Bette’s mother’s permission not to pay attention to Bette anymore.)

Bette’s career goes down in flames when she punches a director who says she has a fat ass, and she’s reduced to singing at a boarded-up disco. Barb finds her and apologizes; she explains that she was just jealous because she can’t yodel. (Really.) Bette’s still mad until Barb confesses that her husband left her and she’s pregnant. So, with Barbara’s life officially worse than Bette’s, Bette forgives her and the two have a baby-prep montage.

But when Bette’s agent finds a role for her, she’s outta there! The two women scream at each other, but a diva’s gotta do what a diva’s gotta do and Bette returns to New York. She learns that the job is in John Heard’s new production, and he gave it to her out of pity. So, now she is James Mason and he is Judy Garland! But then Barb has her baby, which makes everything okay for everybody. (Remember, babies solve all problems—have one today!)

Barbara’s daughter, Victoria, is now about six. Bette is a Broadway star again (as demonstrated by doormen congratulating her on her Tony wins). Barb is a noble lawyer (as demonstrated by other lawyers chiding her for high morals). Everything is going great when Barb gets dizzy and has trouble with drinking fountains…

Yes, she has a fatal disease. Bette volunteers to accompany Barb to the beach for her last summer (she just didn’t know how long this summer was going to be). Bette and Victoria don’t get along at first, because they’re both bossy, self-involved drama queens, and they’re both six. But Bette teaches Victoria how to smoke, cuss, and sing in bath houses, and the two bond, leaving Barbara feeling left out and unloved. Barb tries to get back at them by looking pale and sickly, but they don’t notice. So, she escalates her aggressive dying by refusing to speak, move, or bathe. She and Bette have another fight, which causes Barbara to snap out of it (the moping, I mean—not the dying), and they braid each other’s hair, play cards, and do other girly stuff for the rest of the summer. Bette even agrees to not sue Barbara for failing to die as scheduled, and goes back to being Bette Midler, Super Star.

She is preparing for her Hollywood Bowl concert when Barbara finally starts to get somewhere with the dying (this is where we came in). When Bette gets to the hospital, Barbara tells her that she wants to die at the beach in order to make the whole movie so gosh-darned poignant that nobody will be able to stand it. So, Bette sings “Wind Beneath My Wings,” we see some lovely sunset ’n surf images from a K-Tel commercial, and Barbara finally bites the sand.

The film seems to heave a sigh and wipe a tear as it treats us to a final flashback of the 11-year-old girls vowing eternal friendship while Bette belts out another musical tribute to aerodynamics.