Sunday, September 26, 2010

You Can't Win a Pissing Contest with a Skunk...

I don't watch NASCAR anymore. My fascination was a phase that I wandered through several years back, when I supervised a crew at Goodwill. It was a fascination that grew something out of minor necessity: If I was going to communicate with a couple of the guys who worked for me at all, I'd have to have at least a nodding acquaintance with the the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.

See, Goodwill employed a lot of disabled and "disadvantaged" folks. There is part of me that is Republican enough to think that the only disadvantage a lot of these folks had was a laziness that seemed ingrained. Hereditary Laziness. Mitochondrial Laziness. That, or these were people that didn't have the first idea how to associate with people in any manner. At all.

But they all loved NASCAR. That's what I found out, eventually. I'd always mocked it, to be honest. Like most, I didn't understand the appeal of watching anything that involved cars going around in a circle for four hours (though I myself have watched clothes drying in a dryer as a form of meditation for years...). I mocked, and I loved the shit out of reading a headline in a local paper that somebody had blamed losing a race on Dick Trickle. I blame many of my life's woes on Dick Trickle, to this day.

Being in that position, though, with the people who were damn near religious with their NASCAR, I started paying attention. I started learning names, and and car numbers. I learned tracks. Restrictor Plate races were revered among those I worked with, and they featured spectacular crashes, but were often long and tremendously boring to me--I tended to lean toward short track races like Bristol, which was still cool in the eyes of many I worked with. I shared their belief that road tracks were ridiculous, though i figured I'd appreciate them more if there were more than 2 on the schedule.

Toward Bristol racing, I still enjoy the matter-of-factness with which these people would use the phrase "rubbing is racing." I am 33, and I cannot write that phrase without a smirk that comes straight out of sixth grade crossing my face.

I learned why it was right on the verge of blasphemy to mention anybody's name in the same breath as Earnhardt. And what it meant when somebody was coming into the Pit for a trackbar adjustment.

All so that I could have at least one common frame of reference when I'd work with some of them.

And truth be told, I started liking it.

I worked a lot of Sundays, and here's something that surprised me, and still surprises. NASCAR on the radio has a shitload of energy to it. They constantly switch announcers, because we're dealing with mile, or 2-mile, or 2.5 mile ovals, so announcers are strategically placed around the track. No one announcer, as a result, is given too much time to lapse into anything but describing the action. (I listened to a CBS football announcer during today's Titans' game, by comparison, spend 2 minutes talking about the time his wife threw her keys onto the roof of their house. No fucking joke.) And the announcers are always loud! I don't know if it's training, or simply conditions of having to talk over high-horsepower stock cars. I suspect it's a combination of the two.

But that's a minor digression.

Over a couple year period, I started to learn names, personalities. At the time, everybody hated Rusty Wallace. HATED Rusty Wallace. No joke. In 2000, if Hitler, Stalin and Rusty Wallace were in a room with you, and you had a pistol with two bullets, you'd shoot Rusty twice. (I put that year there, because since September 2001, I'd say they'd probably shoot Osama bin Laden twice, but then beat Rusty Wallace to death with the empty gun).

As an aside, and I think I've probably written it here before: Do you know why they call him Rusty? Because you can't say Shitty Wallace on Sunday Afternoon TV.

Toward those personalities? Even some six or seven years after the fact, I will swear to the fact that Kevin Harvick is a turd in a fireproof racing suit. I have no recollection of the genesis of this idea, but it's there, sure as shooting, in my head. It's as strong a belief as any I have, up to knowing my middle name or that the sky is blue.

It's been a while since I've followed regularly. More than half a decade. So, there are some names, that if I should happen across the NASCAR section of the interweb, I don't recognize well enough to assign a personality. But, when I read this story this afternoon, in which the team of Richard Childress Racing took issue with Denny Hamlin's comments, it gave me a moment's pause, for my aforementioned dislike of the despicable Kevin Harvick.

Utlimately, I've decided I don't have a dog in the hunt to judge one way or the other. I doubt I could name half the drivers in a field, right now, and I'm just not up to date enough on the soap opera to take a side in the issue.

I guess I'm going to finish by disputing the phrase "you can't win a pissing contest with a skunk," as states Richard Childress.

I put it to you that you probably can win a pissing contest with a skunk, as unpleasant as that could be. Honestly. How big could a skunk's bladder be? It's an animal not much bigger than a breadbox, with a bladder proportional to its size. Me? I can hold as many as four tall Yuenglings in my bladder with ease, as of last night. Before breaking the seal, mind you. After that, I have the bladder of a skunk.

I posit this. Prior to breaking the seal, under the right conditions, you can win a pissing contest with a skunk.

It's the part where he starts spraying his skunkenly foulness at you, and you find yourself in that particular stinkfight woefully under- or unarmed, depending on just how big a cabbage fan you are.

I hesitate to call that a fart fight, but only because I know not everybody will find that phrase as funny as I do.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hi. Ate us. No?

Your old pal Tommy's been doing some shit. Writing. Working. Trying to have a life that doesn't involve a grocery store or sitting in front of a computer. With minor success, I suppose.

Is it weird to say I've kinda been wandering through an introspective phase, as well? Even more than the usual navel-gazing. And for a guy who's not exactly the most outgoing cuss in the world, it might be indistinguishable from a normal walkabout day. It's been for longer than normal, this slight funk. And I'll say that. A slight funk about it. Tell George Clinton I said No.

2010's gotten to be one where I'm ill at ease with where I am in this crazy world. Truth be told, I've had a couple things thrown in to sharper relief, lately. About how much I work. About how much I'm actually getting out of that work. About how little I seem to get out, period. About what it is I've accomplished. About how weird it is that family is starting family.

Dunno. Just kinda thinking about a few things. I'm still around. Got a nice e-mail today wondering. So, thanks. I'm fine. Slight funk, maybe. Not out of it, by any stretch of the imagination. Doing a lot of writing, a lot of work. Holler if you want to grab a beer.

I have no good way to close this minor epistle, so I'll share my favorite Ethiopian joke, which was told to me by a real-life Ethiopian:

What do you call an Ethiopian taking a shit?

A Showoff.


Saturday, September 04, 2010

Labor Day Movie Quiz

Brain Break. Film Quiz via Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule.

1) Classic film you most want to experience that has so far eluded you.

So is this a flick that I want to see? Or am I wanting to get sucked into a tornado to be deposited into the Land of Oz?

We live in a world where if I want to see something, I can usually see it within a day or two, given those fine folks at Netflix, and sometimes instantly.

Now, I would love to have some fine folk in this neck of the woods decide to show Seven Samurai on the big screen, or perhaps Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid....

2) Greatest Criterion DVD/Blu-ray release ever

I really dig the big Brazil collection I used up all my trade credit on at McKay's.

Though, when they went half-price back in August, I picked up Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and got to watch it on a decent television. I dug it a lot....

3) The Big Sleep or The Maltese Falcon?

Maltese Falcon.

4) Jason Bateman or Paul Rudd?

Basing it solely on film work, I'll say Paul Rudd. He just seems to have a better presence on the big screen.

If you count in Arrested Development?

Or the prestige that is The Hogan Family?

5) Best mother/child (male or female) movie star combo

The only one that's popping to mind is Judy Garland and Liza Minelli. Though, I think I'll call them best at imbibing intoxicants....

6) Who are the Robert Mitchums and Ida Lupinos among working movie actors? Do modern parallels to such masculine and no-nonsense feminine stars even exist? If not, why not?

There are possible parallels, but I just don't know if we have roles like that anymore. I guess the question that comes to the front of my mind is: Has society (and movies by extension) changed so that the Mitchum ideal of Manliness is shoved to the fringe? For Robert Mitchum, the guy that came to mind as the embodiment of the ideal and spirit (and possible sheer craziness), if not the starring or even supporting roles, is Danny Trejo. Two others that popped into my head were Daniel Craig and Eric Bana, though both lapse something into pretty-boy status. This one made me think.

Is the guy who embodies that so outside the norm nowadays? Or is it my perception?

For the Ida Lupino? I dunno. The two names that popped into my head as tonal compatriots, if not parallel embodiments were Chloe Sevigny or Michelle Rodriguez. Again, similar problems. Or, maybe I'm just not watching those type flicks.

7) Favorite Preston Sturges movie

I've actually only seen a couple. My film geek pants ain't long enough.

8) Odette Yustman or Mary Elizabeth Winstead?

Odette Yustman. Mainly as apology for thinking she's Megan Fox in every role she's in, and saying "Wow, maybe Megan Fox can act."

9) Is there a movie that if you found out a partner or love interest loved (or didn't love) would qualify as a Relationship Deal Breaker?

No, though there'd be a serious conversation if she was OK with Greedo shooting first, or the guns being taken out of E.T.

10) Favorite DVD commentary

Kevin Smith's and Scott Mosier's commentary on a special edition of Road House is comic gold.

And, the Strange Brew fan in me like's the Rutt & Tuke's commentary on Brother Bear.

For actual film making? Beyond the fartsy, I like Joe Dante's commentary on Gremlins, and Weird Al's commentary on UHF, just for the nuts and bolts of putting their movies together....

11) Movies most recently seen on DVD, Blu-ray and theatrically

I just watched Away We Go this morning, and I'll be didn't hold my attention. Can't say why. I might be on Jon Krasinski burnout.

And Friday, I went to see The Expendables. Problem is, I reversed times in my head from what I'd read, so I arrived 50 minutes early. The theater I went to is in Bumfuck, and it was too hot to sit outside and read, so I ended up going to see The Last Exorcism instead.

The first 70 minutes are actually not a bad movie, and does a fair enough, though not great, job making you wonder whether there really is a case of demonic possession going on in rural Louisiana. The last 12 minutes, the movie goes flying off the rails in a fashion I have a hard time relating. You know, it's the coolest thing in the world when a movie throws a curveball that I don't see coming, but this one blindsided me with a Wrecking Ball of Craziness the likes of which you rarely see.

12) Dirk Bogarde or Alan Bates?

I'll take the physical challenge.

13) Favorite DVD extra

First thing that pops to mind is the black & white version of The Mist...

14) Brian De Palma’s Scarface— yes or no?

No, and just stop. I've never been so worn out on a crappy movie getting so much attention outside of Rocky Horror Picture Show.

15) Best comic moment from a horror film that is not a horror comedy (Young Frankenstein, Love At First Bite, et al.)

I may think of a better answer later, as I don't think Cabin Fever is a horror. Rather, it is the best black comedy to wander down the pike in a few decades. Still, the nonsensical "Pancakes/Karate Demo" is beautiful.

16) Jane Birkin or Edwige Fenech?

Edwige Fenech. And I'm proud to say so.

17) Favorite Wong Kar-wai movie

I do not have one.

18) Best horrific moment from a comedy that is not a horror comedy

OK. Robin Williams' son dying while masturbating actually turned me around on Bobcat Goldthwait's World's Greatest Dad. It's a tremendous bleak, black comedy, and I wish Bobcat would make more movies. It may not be the greatest, but it's what popped to mind.

19) From 2010, a specific example of what movies are doing right…

I just want to point to Winter's Bone, for making being poor from the south (Missouri is still the south, right?) integral to the story, without making it a story about being poor from the south. For making it neither comic nor tragic in and of itself. Just making it what it is.

20) Ryan Reynolds or Chris Evans?

Can I say neither? Do I have to choose? This is truly the lesser of two evils. I choose Chris Evans, though I warn that the Captain America movie looks like it just keeps getting worse and worse....

21) Speculate about the future of online film writing. What’s next?


22) Roger Livesey or David Farrar?


23) Best father/child (male or female) movie star combo

How about old Donald and Kiefer Sutherland? I almost with Ron Howard acted more, so I could say Ron & Bryce Dallas...

24) Favorite Freddie Francis movie (as Director)

They Came From Beyond Space.

25) Bringing Up Baby or The Awful Truth?

The Awful Truth.

26) Tina Fey or Kristen Wiig?

Tina Fey, by a country mile. And I don't mean that as a slap at Kristen Wiig, who I do find funny, if overexposed. Tina Fey is a comic genius, and one of the funniest people on the planet.

27) Name a stylistically important director and the best film that would have never been made without his/her influence.

Kurosawa...Hidden Fortress...Star Wars.

28) Movie you’d most enjoy seeing remade and transplanted to a different culture (i.e. Yimou Zhang’s A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop.)

The recent Micmacs is excellent, and I'd be loathe to ask anybody to remake it. But for some reason, I kept thinking of Tim Burton's Big Fish, and of Jody Hill's Eastbound and Down/Foot Fist Way, and how well the Micmacs would fit in a southern, small-town setting with Flannery O'Connor-type inhabitants, my previous comments about Winter's Bone notwithstanding....

29) Link to a picture/frame grab of a movie image that for you best illustrates bliss. Elaborate.

Can't find a decent one, but the moment Willie Hayes slides across home, and Harry Doyle goes insane "The Indians win it! The Indians Win it! Oh My God! The Indians Win it!"

As a guy who's never had his team win it all, in any sport, ever, I can relate very, very easily.

30) With a tip of that hat to Glenn Kenny, think of a just-slightly-inadequate alternate title for a famous movie. (Examples from GK: Fan Fiction; Boudu Relieved From Cramping; The Mild Imprecation of the Cat People)

All I got this morning:

Ralphie Gets a Gun: a Story Honoring the Birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ