Thursday, September 29, 2011

Stomach Bug

An omphalophobic is a person with a fear of belly buttons. People who have this fear grapple with all kinds of irrational issues involving their navels. This is a stupid thing to be. I am an omphalophobic.
Belly buttons are creepy. Think about it. Have you ever seen an umbilical cord? It’s a wet tube of flesh that, while in utero, connects your stomach to that of your mother and delivers the nutrients needed for you to develop into a fully formed human being. As soon as you are born your umbilical cord is snipped off, leaving a small section (a stump) of it behind, which withers (rots) and falls off ten to twenty-one days later. What’s left behind is your belly button. Some of us are left with innies: frightening, cavernous lint traps, while others are left with outies: nasty little mounds of knotty flesh. Sometimes there can be complications. I read an account of one unfortunate woman in Southern California who gave birth to a healthy baby girl and took her home. The woman cared for her daughter’s umbilical stump for eight days, wiping it down with alcohol as the doctor had instructed. On the ninth day the woman discovered that the stump had fallen off prematurely. A syrupy substance oozed from her beautiful infant’s wound. It looked like pea soup.
I am at work, at a Mexican restaurant in a small New England city by the sea, bending over to clean off a table when a sharp pain shoots through my belly button. I begin to think that maybe my belly button is finally coming undone and my viscera is about to spill onto the floor. I know, logically, that this is a ridiculous and impossible scenario, but in order for me to be absolutely certain I need to go into the men’s room so that I can use the mirror.
What I see in the mirror certainly explains my discomfort, but doesn’t make any sense and does little to comfort my increasing anxiety: there appears to be a large seed stuck in my belly button. I haven’t eaten any seeds lately. Even if I had, I can’t imagine any situation that would lead to one somehow becoming lodged in my navel, but that doesn’t change what I see. I have never been comfortable putting my fingers into my belly button, so I take a couple of deep breaths to try and gain some composure before beginning to use my index finger and thumb to dig this mystery seed of pain from my navel. My fingers are too thick to fit in my belly button and grab the object, so I try using my pinky to scrape it out—to no avail. Now my heart is racing. There’s something lodged in my disgusting belly button, and I have no idea what it is or how it could have possibly gotten there. The only thought in my head is that I need to get it out of me. I start trying to flush it out with water—splashing water into my navel and pushing on my lower abdomen—I am screaming silently to myself now, mostly asking incoherent and disjointed one word questions: How? Why? What? Seed? The water proves no more effective than my fingers. At this point I am overwhelmed with frustration so I go into the kitchen, grab a couple of toothpicks out of the box on the counter and head back into the bathroom. It does not take long after I begin digging and scraping with the toothpicks that I catch a glimpse of something puzzling. There appear to be several short, thick black hairs in my belly button along with the seed, is the seed tangled in these hairs? The thought disgusts me, and is quickly pushed from my mind because the hairs do not actually seem to be holding the seed to me. Were I thinking rationally at that moment, perhaps I would have been able to process the reality of what I was looking at, not that it would have done me much good, but knowing the truth, perhaps I would have been able to calm down a bit.
This is when an epiphany hits me. I’m standing in the men’s bathroom, shirtless and digging through my belly button with toothpicks, and I realize that whatever is in my belly button is not a seed: it is either a growth of some sort, or something that belongs inside of me has somehow started to push its way out. Either way, trying to remove this object from my navel with toothpicks was only going to make things worse. I needed to see a doctor, and it was already ten o’clock at night, which meant that the emergency room was my only option.
Before picking me up from work, my wife Lola had gone on Web MD and learned that one of the more likely causes of my current state was an umbilical hernia: an outward bulging (protrusion) of the abdominal lining, or part of the abdominal organ(s), through the area of or around the belly button. We’re on our way to the hospital and I am trying to remain as calm and composed as possible.
“It’s a quick operation and then they send you home with a big bottle of Vicodin,” Lola tells me from the driver’s seat.
“How big?” I ask,
“Really big”, she assures me.
The triage nurse is having a bad night despite the relative emptiness of the ER waiting room. Initially the nurse lets me know that the only time she’s ever heard of a situation like mine was “in that Sigourney Weaver movie with the alien.” When I tell the nurse that I think I have an umbilical hernia because of what my wife found on Web MD she begins a tirade that opens with the proclamation that, “Web MD is the scourge of ER’s nationwide.” However, once she has finished venting her frustrations, she ultimately confesses that my problem may in fact be the beginning of a hernia, and not an alien. Then, without even asking me to lift up my shirt, the nurse declares that she is sure that I will be fine and orders me to take a seat in the waiting room.
Two hours later I am stretched out on a hospital bed, wearing a johnny and waiting for the physician to walk in. At this point I have resigned myself to my fate. I just want to get my surgery over with so that I can get whatever’s sticking out of me removed (or pushed back in) so that I can get home with Lola(who is reading patiently in the corner) and my Vicodin and put this whole horrific experience behind me.
After another hour of waiting the doctor pulls back the curtain around my bed and walks in.
“Hello”, says Doctor Wong, a genuinely happy smile on his face, “So you have something coming from your belly button?”
He speaks with a slight accent of indeterminate far Eastern origin.
“Yeah,” I reply to the doctor’s question, “I think it’s a hernia. Let me show you,” and I lift up the front of my johnny.
“You have a dog?” he immediately asks me.
“No.” Because he seems interested in my pets I respond with, “I have two cats.” Then he comes out with it.
“It look like a tick. I think you have a big dog tick.”
Doctor Wong then starts poking in my belly button with a piece of a tongue depressor, a satisfied and oddly delighted expression on his face.
“Oh yeah. Definitely a tick, you want to see?” he asks Lola, oblivious to the fact that her skin has gone pale. “Look, you see its legs move?”
 “I have to find something to get underneath its head with. I’ll be back.”
Five minutes later the doctor comes back into the room with a pair of surgical tweezers. He removes them from their sterile packaging; I feel great relief to see that they are fairly dull. Doctor Wong then takes a close look at the tweezers in his hand.
“I got the wrong ones.”
He then exits through the curtain and returns a few minutes later armed with tweezers that look like they can gauge elephant hide.
“Much better.” He says.
“Is this going to hurt?”
“No. I don’t think so.”
I tilt my head back, close my eyes and focus on breathing. I’m attempting to practice basic relaxation techniques and all the while I can feel Doctor Wong digging a huge tick out of my belly button with a pair of needle nose tweezers. It stings, but not a lot.
“Okay, you want to see?” The doctor asks, and drops the tick, now lifeless, into my hand.
“Thank you.” I say exhaustedly and start to sit up.
“Hold on. I have to make sure I get the whole head.”
I lie back down and close my eyes again. This time I can really feel him digging, and pulling with the tweezers. I try not to think about the beautiful baby girl in California whose belly button oozed pea soup. I have a quick vision in which the doctor pushes too hard on the tweezers and my guts start spewing out uncontrollably as technicians rush in screaming medical clich├ęs.
And then he is done. I look down at my belly and see that I am still intact. There’s no pea soup. No bile or intestines are seeping out of my belly button; just the slightest trickle of deep crimson blood.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Things I've Learned From Porn, Part 2

            It did not take long for me to grow bored with the October 1988 issue of Playboy. Every curve of a breast, every thatch of pubic hair, every smooth, airbrushed buttock became as familiar to me as the location of the warp zones in Super Mario Bros. I began craving variety. I continued the methodical search of my parents’ bedroom whenever I could, and I discovered another half dozen or so issues of Playboy in my Dad’s closet; I committed each and every pictorial to memory. By the time I was finished I had become an expert on breasts. Previously, I had never imagined that they came in so many varieties. Nipples too. There were large round breasts, small droopy breasts, tennis ball breasts and banana shaped breasts. The nipples on these breasts had circumferences ranging from the size of a dime to that of a coke can; length wise they ran the gamut from a half-gnawed pencil eraser to a drinking straw. After a while though I began to develop breast-ennui and Playboy just didn’t titillate me the way that it once had.
            It was about a year later that I made my next great discovery.
            Like many of the greatest discoveries, this one was an accident. I was downstairs in the computer room, playing California Games on the Apple IIc, when, because I kept wiping out so quickly during the surfing challenges, I decided to try and find the instruction manual. I began looking through the cabinets above the computer desk; they were filled with instruction manuals and software packaging, along with many of my father’s business publications and Army magazines.
            I was shuffling through the manuals when a magazine fell on the desk. “Penthouse” it said on the cover. Up to this point I had been under the impression that the hierarchy of adult reading material went as follows: Sears catalog, Victoria’s Secret catalog, Playboy. It had never crossed my mind that it got any better than that. Penthouse, I would soon learn, makes Playboy look like Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
            I randomly opened the Penthouse to a page in the middle and was filled with profound confusion about what I was looking at. In front of me was a full-page image of some type of exotic blossom, or maybe it was the mouth of a starfish. It looked fleshy, frightening—perhaps alien. Half disgusted, I studied the photograph for quite some time, trying to understand why I also found it so enticing. I turned the page and saw a photo of a woman sitting on a beach with her legs spread wide apart, and suddenly everything made sense. The missing link in my anatomical knowledge had been uncovered.
            In addition to inspiring young men everywhere to pursue degrees in gynecology, another way in which Penthouse differed from Playboy was its articles. Whereas Playboy publishes mostly pseudo-highbrow articles on cigars, muscle cars and home-brewing techniques, Penthouse magazine has a section called “Penthouse Forum.” This is comprised of letters allegedly written by readers of the magazine, though underneath every letter is written the message “name and address withheld by request.” These letters presented a world in which movie theater employees were having sex with patrons in the projector booths, college students were having sex with their professors after class, men and women would meet each other at the supermarket and duck into the public bathroom together, for sex, without even learning each other’s names, and women were constantly having sex with anyone who showed up at their door with any kind of a package. Each of these letters began roughly the same way, with some variation of the phrase, “you’ll never believe what happened to me, but…” Well, as a young man undergoing a sexual awakening, I chose to believe every word printed on those pages. I found them inspiring, and I looked forward to the day that I would be able to write my own letter to Penthouse, and I wouldn’t request that my name and address be withheld either.
            As I progressed through middle school I learned that the hierarchy of pornographic magazines did not end with Penthouse. If Penthouse makes Playboy look like Dr. Seuss then Hustler magazine makes Penthouse look like Shel Silverstein. Hustler is among the most obscene mainstream adult publications available on the newsstand. It shows photos of men and women engaged in all types of sex acts, and regularly features a ‘human oddities’ section featuring photos of women with labias that hang down to their knees, and other women whose vaginas are stretched so wide that they can fit their entire forearm inside. It’s difficult to imagine anyone being courageous enough to purchase an issue of Hustler magazine from the gas station or pharmacy without fear of being judged as some sort of sexual deviant. None of my peers would have dared to keep a Hustler hidden in their houses. This is why there were several issues of Hustler buried at various locations in the woods, and on the old train tracks, throughout my town. Nobody knew who buried them, or why. Whether they were hidden outside out of fear over them being discovered, or it was some sort of a gift passed down from an older generation will never be known. There were a few of my friends who knew where one of them was buried, and passed the information on to me.
            At this point in my life I was obsessed with sex, and hormonally driven to possess as much smut as I could get my hands on. I decided to do something that, to the best of my knowledge had never been done before: dig up one of the Hustler magazines and bring it home. The magazine was buried beneath two or three inches of dirt. It was half worm-eaten and there were maggots in it. At least three quarters of the pages were so filthy and weather worn that there was nothing recognizable on them. I brought the entire magazine home and spent the afternoon with a tub of water and a blow dryer, cleaning and drying every salvageable page. I stapled them together and hid them on the top shelf of my closet. At the time I considered this to be one of the great accomplishments of my life.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Partial List of Things I Want but Can't Have that Make Me Sad Because I Can't Have Them

Yoshi (black)
Attack velociraptor
Yoshi (red)
Liger (a magical one)
X-Wing Fighter 
Lightsaber (double sided)
Car that folds into itself and becomes a briefcase
The ability to metamorph
World peace
Trampoline floors
Super strength
Eternal life
Money tree

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Greatest Gift of All

               When Lola and I lived in our first apartment, on Derby St. in Salem, MA, we had despicable downstairs neighbors who would fight and call the police on each other atleast three times a week. These horrible people had a really cool cat that they neglected, and because Lola and I were so nice to it he would always bring us gifts. One time he brought us a squirrel with it's entire head ripped off. This is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Things I've Learned From Porn, Part One

I couldn’t have been older than eight or nine the first time that I saw a naked woman in a playboy magazine. My friend Paul had a copy of the magazine under his mattress, and he allowed me to look at it one afternoon after we rode our bikes back to his house from the park down the street, where we had been playing catch. I have no idea where he got it from, nor did I really care; I was being allowed to see a naked woman, and despite the fact that I was still years away from sprouting my first pubic hair, I knew that this was a profound moment in my life; one that would influence and guide my aspirations for many years to come.
Seeing a naked woman can be both an enlightening and confusing experience for a pre-pubescent, overly imaginative child. My knowledge of human anatomy was extremely limited. I was an expert on the anatomy of Voltron: Defender of the Universe, a massive, humanoid robot comprised of five smaller lion-shaped robots that transformed to form his various limbs. I knew that the black lion was in the center and transformed into the body and head, the red and green lions formed the arms, and the blue and yellow lions formed the legs, but when it came to humans I was at a bit of a loss. All I had were my Masters of the Universe action figures, and both He-Man and Teela looked like eunuchs from the waist down. Being a boy, I had at least some understanding of my own genitalia and how it functioned, but when it came to girls I was limited by what knowledge I had picked up on the playground.
According to the boys on the playground girls were born without penises; instead, they were born with some sort of an opening called a “vagina.” It was generally assumed that this is where they peed from, and I was relatively certain that the vagina was located in the center of a girl’s stomach, either just above, or just below their belly button. I was also aware that there was something called “sex,” and that sex had something to do with where babies come from. From what I was able to gather, the act of sex involved a man sticking his penis into either the belly button or the vagina of a woman and holding it there for a while. I also learned about something called a “blowjob.” For a while I thought that a blowjob was something that grown-ups did to their cars when they weren’t working correctly. As it turned out, a blowjob was an unfathomable, and seemingly pointless act where a woman would take a man’s penis into her mouth and blow on it until it turned white and peed sour milk; I found this to be beyond comprehension, and I doubted its scientific validity. I knew absolutely nothing about anatomy, but I knew that men were not cows, and that milk could not come out of their penises no matter how hard anyone blew on them.
My first experience studying the photographs concealed within the Playboy in Paul’s room proved to be both informative and confusing. The vagina, Paul knowledgably pointed out, is not a hole located in the center of a girl’s stomach, but rather a large patch of hair between her legs. This was the late nineteen eighties, and the Brazilian wax was not yet en vogue; nor was Playboy magazine allowed to show a photograph of a woman with her legs spread. Therefore, I was now convinced that the vagina was nothing more than a bundle of well coiffed hair between a woman’s thighs. This made me somewhat confused about everything that I thought I already knew about sex, but Paul assured me that I had the basics down, and that the woman just holds the man’s penis between her legs, and that it is very warm, and that is how grown-ups like to sleep.
Seeing these photographs at Paul’s house awakened something in me. The very thought of them gave me an overall ‘warm’ feeling. It was pre-sexual and almost impossible to describe, but there was an inexplicable rightness to it. I was hooked. It became my new goal in life to look at pictures of naked women as frequently as possible. Unfortunately, such pictures were not readily accessible to me. A few of my friends had older brothers who would let us look at their Playboys from time to time, but not nearly as often as I would have liked. Anytime I would see a magazine lying face down on a table at a doctor’s office, or on a coffee table in one of my friend’s living rooms, I would eagerly turn it over, silently wishing that someone had accidently left a Playboy around in plain sight. I was always disappointed when the magazine’s cover read Better Homes and Gardens or Golfer’s Digest.
It was 1989 and I was in the fourth grade when someone, probably one of the wise, pre-pubescent playground gurus who had taught me everything about sex, gave me the idea that all grown men had copies of Playboy magazine hidden somewhere in their homes. Since I understood that my father was a grown man, I concluded that this meant that even he must have some of these precious magazines hidden somewhere in our house.
Searching the house wound up being more difficult than I had imagined.
It was impossible to search for any extended period of time because my mother would become nosy and ask what I was looking for. “I thought my baseball glove might be in the cabinet above the refrigerator,” I’d say, or, “I think I left some comic books under the sofa cushions in the living room.”
Over a period of a few weeks I had concluded an exhaustive search of the living room, family room, kitchen, dining room, computer room, garage, attic, and all three-hallway closets, without discovering so much as an underwear catalog. I had even searched my own bedroom, and that of my younger brother Alex, age six, top to bottom, just incase my father had tried to throw me off the scent by stowing his treasures directly under my nose. The only room left unsearched was my parents’ bedroom.
One evening, when my mother was downstairs cooking dinner and speaking on the telephone, I gathered enough courage to creep into their bedroom. My parents’ room had an enormous closet, two dressers, and two nightstands; one on my dad’s side of the king size bed, and one on my mom’s. I devised a strategy where I would search a single piece of furniture, then retreat until another safe opportunity presented itself, upon which time I would return and search another item of furniture. I would continue until every inch of the room had been examined.
Ninja-like I crept over to my father’s nightstand. I pulled the cabinet open quietly and peered inside. In my head I could hear trumpets blowing the 20th Century Fox fanfare as my eyes settled on the magazine laying face down on the shelf. I grabbed a hold of it and flipped it over. When I saw the cover I suppressed the urge to leap in the air and let out a victory “whoop.”
The word “PLAYBOY” was printed across the top of the magazine in large, blocky letters, the tagline “ENTERTAINMENT FOR MEN” directly beneath. I scanned every detail of the cover. The publication date of the issue was October 1988 and the price was $4.00. “Special College Issue” the headline read, “Girls, Football, Fashion, Prize Fiction, Beer.” There was a photo of a blonde co-ed in a suede baseball jacket with bunnies on the sleeves; she was in leg warmers and cowboy boots. One of her feet was up on a stack of textbooks and she was bent over as if to pull up her boot.
I leafed through the pages thoroughly, yet quickly, my ears honed on the sound of my mother in the kitchen cooking dinner, prepared to dart from the room like Rickey Henderson stealing second base if I thought I heard her heading for the stairs. I dared not risk being caught, lest the magazine be moved to another hiding spot, so, far from satisfied, I took one more look at the centerfold and placed the magazine back on the shelf, face down as I had found it, closed the cabinet door and crept from the room.
That night I lay in bed thinking of my discovery. I drifted off to sleep knowing that a wondrous new chapter of my life had begun.

Check out PART TWO!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Title: Schmitle

A couple of years ago I started this blog for two reasons, the first of which was to have a venue where I could freely express my opinions/frustrations over various movies and television shows. The second reason was, of course, to eventually be discovered by a film website or magazine. My dream was to quit waiting tables and get super fat and rich just sitting around all day writing about media. Like most projects that I commit myself to, I dove into this blog headfirst and for a couple of months updated it on a daily basis. I wrote critiques not only of films and television episodes, but also of everything from trailers, to posters, to gossip about the future film career of Gizmo. I developed a small following of readers who enjoyed my weekly Lost recaps and overuse of the word awesome, but it didn't take long for me to become discouraged. There are at the very least twenty seven million film review websites on the internet. That's not an exaggeration; I just spent the last 6 months counting them. The market is completely saturated. Other than a pretty badass Van Damme avatar and the occasionally mind-blowing dissertation on the age-old feud between Batman and Superman, there wasn't a hell of a lot that my blog had to offer that couldn't be found elsewhere.

Writing reviews got really boring for me after the first month or so. After a few short weeks I had completely abandoned the primary euphoric reason why I had started this blog, and was forcing myself to keep going because I knew that eventually Filmthreat or Aintitcool would come a knockin'. Once I started looking at things pragmatically there was absolutely no reason to keep Awesomtown open at all and so I just let it die. 

I have decided to reopen Awesometown in an entirely new direction. In place of film reviews there will be essays about a young boy (me) whose discovery and obsession with pornography at a young age led to an unhealthy masturbation addiction and fear of intimacy. In lieu of a trailer synopsis you can expect to read a nauseating true story about a parasite and the cavalier emergency room doctor who removed it. This is just the beginning folks. Come in, kick off your shoes and make yourselves uncomfortably at home.

Welcome to Awesometown, enjoy it while it lasts.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Internet's 9,327,923rd Review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 or, Awesometown Confessions Vol. 1!!

I know what you're thinking, there are already an infinite amount of Harry Potter reviews floating throughout the internets, and if you consider yourself a Potterite, or Potterphile (?) you've already had your fill. Why should I read your review? What can you possibly have to add to a discussion about the epic conclusion to the series that defined my childhood and adolescence?

The answer is this: nothing. I have nothing new or insightful to add about the conclusion of this boy wizard's journey to manhood, or his inevitable triumph over the forces of pale-faced, nose-less wizardry. To be perfectly honest with you all, and myself, I'm just glad that the journey is finally over, but probably not for the reasons you're thinking.

It's time for full disclosure. I was born in 1979. I'm too old to have grown-up with this magical boy and his merry band of wizardlings, and I'm too young to have children that have been raised on his adventures. I read the first book eleven or twelve years ago, and I liked it quite a bit. Not enough, apparently, to read any of the other books (despite the nearly endless nagging and disbelieving stares) but enough to see every movie, from the second one forward, opening weekend.

I'm a sucker for what Joseph Campbell calls "The Hero's Journey," the ancient template upon which all great mythologies and adventures, from Homer to Star Wars and Harry Potter, are set against. Kurt Vonnegut once summed up this template thus: "The hero gets into trouble, the hero gets out of trouble." Awesome. Anyway, the chances that I wouldn't at least TRY to get into a multi-part story about a young man accepting and fulfilling his destiny while riding on dragons and casting magic spells was impossible. I eat that shit up, always have and always will, but the problem with the Harry Potter series is that I never quite felt like I was getting past the "trying to like this" phase in our relationship.

I've tried, truly I have, for more than ten years, and the conclusion that I've reached is that the Harry Potter films are probably excellent (or at least adequate) companion pieces to the books upon which they are based, but as a cinematic entity, taken by itself, it just really doesn't do it for me. I have seen each film in the Star Wars trilogy (the real trilogy) at least 10,000 times, I've sat delightedly through day long LOTR Extended Edition trilogy marathons on more than one occasion, I've seen both of Christopher Nolan's batman films a half dozen times each. If there's an adventure that I connect with, that's what I do, try and live it over and over again until it is burned into the back of my eyeballs.

I have seen each of the Harry Potter films once.

Because I have only seen each film once, something unfortunate has always happened to me during the gap between release dates. I forget nearly everything and everyone from the previous movie. I sit in the theater enjoying the moments of adventure and spending the rest of the film scratching my head, trying to remember what role that familiar looking British actor or actress has played in the series, what their significance is to the story as a whole, and trying to piece together exactly what the hell is going on between Harry and the pale red headed girl, or the Asian girl, or isn't he supposed to end up with Hermione? I then walk out of the theater and listen to my Potterphile friends discuss the book's transition to the screen while I ask them annoying questions like, "If Slitherin is just a class full of evil wizards, why are they allowed at the school?"

Well, no more!

Tonight I went to the 11:50 pm showing at the Alamo South and dined on delicious fried cheese, spinach and artichoke dip, spicy mac n' cheese and the best Philly Cheesesteak in Austin (I am aware that eating that much food after 10:00 pm, or any time of day, is not a good idea.)  I don't understand much of what unfolded on the screen: some old British man that I don't recall having seen before lectures the gang about magic wands, they go to a bank and steal a sword, ride a dragon who promptly disappears, Dumbledore has a brother whose name is Apple Fart (I'm almost certain) who tries to tell some story about Dumbledore that probably would have been interesting, but Harry doesn't want to hear it so I guess we'll never know. Then the gang goes to Hogwarts where the autistic girl tells them where to find the next Horcrux and the hidden library/storage room from Raiders of the Lost Ark burns down. A lot of other things happen, some of which are very exciting, none of which I fully understand. Lots of characters who I vaguely remember from earlier in the series die unceremoniously off screen. At least the series' most interesting character, Severus Snape, played by the always more-awesome-than-anyone-else-in-the-movie Alan Rickman goes out with a pretty great send off.

Is Snape Harry's father? I was really expecting that to be revealed during the flashbacks, and maybe it was, or maybe I'm COMPLETELY off base here, that is extremely possible.

I know many of you take your Harry Potter very seriously, and may feel like I am trashing this series, which is so far from the truth. I love what this saga has done for our society, it has turned millions and millions of people into raving fanboys and girls, and that in itself is a magical thing to behold, and it got Americans reading, which is always wonderful.

Perhaps the day will come when I'm ready to pick up these books and dive in, then I can re-watch the films and see everything that I missed the first time through. In the meantime, I just feel relieved that it's over, that I don't have to feel like I'm in the dark once every eighteen months anymore.  I know that this has been quite an emotional weekend for a lot you kiddos (of all ages) out there, and I hope that you found this to be the satisfying conclusion that all of you deserved.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Awesomest Man Alive: My review of '127 Hours'!

After seeing Danny Boyle's (one of the most interesting and exciting filmmakers working today) masterful new bio-pic of "real-life superhero" Aron Ralston, I have been struck by the very real fact that no matter what I do in my life, no matter what greatness I've yet to achieve, I will never be a fraction as awesome as Mr. Ralston.

He is better than I am. He is better than you are too. All that any of us can aspire to be in life is no more than a boil on the anus of this Man.

It's impossible for me to discuss this film without going into spoiler territory, so if you are somehow unaware of Ralston's ordeal and wish to remain completely ignorant before you sprint to whatever theater nearest you is showing this film, and you should be sprinting, then stop reading now.

 127 Hours begins with Ralston (James Franco) mountain biking, alone, through the rocky, barren Utah wilderness. He encounters a couple of young ladies, has a quick adventure that shows them, and the audience, how awesome and carefree he is. Then, roughly fifteen minutes into the film, Ralston falls into a crevice and gets his arm pinned under a bolder. This is where the majority of the film's remaining ninety or so minutes take place.

Damn near everyone in the audience knows how this story is going to end. Ralston, with his grapefruit-sized testicles and inhuman tenacity, uses a dull pocket knife, about two inches long, to sever his own arm off at the elbow in order to climb out of the crevice and hike several miles before being rescued. The beauty of this film is the way that Boyle is able to ratchet up the tension virtually non-stop until we get there, the photography is gorgeous and the sound editing is brilliant and haunting. The idea of severing his arm off occurs to Ralston almost immediately, and is foreshadowed constantly, but during the 5 days that he is pinned beneath the bolder, starving and hallucinating due to dehydration, he exhausts all his other options before finally accepting his fate.

This is being heralded as one of those "triumph of the human spirit" stories. And it is, it certainly makes you contemplate on the value of life, and the refusal of the human heart to accept defeat and all that happy Hallmark bullshit. But at no point during the soon to be infamous "severing scene" did I think to myself "yes! I am capable of this level of will power and determination!" Fuck that. I would have died underneath that rock, and most of you would have too. And let's say that you DID find it in yourself to sever through muscle, tendon and nerve endings with a dull blade, would you then have it in you to climb up one cliff, down another and hike 8,000 (roughly) miles? Maybe you would. What the hell do I know? (You wouldn't)

By the end of this movie my nose was sniffling and my eyes were watering because I feel like the world is somehow a greater place for having at least ONE dude as dudely as Aron Ralston in it. Maybe if I'm ever stuck at the bottom of a crevice he will find me and (after heavily sedating me) use his bionic arm powers to rescue me. Because if he doesn't, I'm screwed.

Amazing film. Outstanding performance by James Franco. See it.

                                James Franco as Aron Ralston

                             The Real Ralston (Before)

                             And after.....

Friday, June 18, 2010

Jonah Hex

Jonah Hex, based on a comic book that I've never heard of, is a movie about a Confederate soldier (I think, he may have actually been a Union soldier working as a spy, not really sure) played by Josh Brolin who, in a vaguely told back-story, betrays and shoots his best friend. Then his friend's father, John Malkovich, kills Jonah's whole family as retribution and brands his initials on Jonah's face. Jonah doesn't like having his enemy's initials branded on his face, so he burns them off and is left hilariously disfigured.

All of this is just back-story though, told through confusing and bizarrely edited flashbacks. The main chunk of this movie's 75 minute running time, that's right, SEVENTY-FIVE minutes, is spent on watching Jonah hunt down Evil John Malkovich to exact his vengeance and prevent him from using the most utterly absurd, impractical and nonsensical doomsday weapon ever conceived to destroy the United States.

Seriously, let's discuss this weapon for a minute. It was apparently designed by Eli Whitney and it involves launching a whole bunch of giant glowing orbs at a target, then launching another, different colored orb into the vicinity of the previous orbs, which ignites the initial orbs causing mass explosions. Also, the weapon requires a giant ship to house it. Ridiculous.

Anyway, if you're looking for a (very) quick mindless and disposable entertainment fix, I can think of far worse ways to spend your afternoon. This is 75 minutes of horses with Gatling guns, dynamite launching crossbows and Meghan Fox (whose talent is as non-existent as her waist) in a corset.

It is what it is, and I was entertained. 

Monday, May 31, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Trailer 2!!

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.


1,000,000 / 5 on the Anticipation Meter