The 'I' in your 'team'

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tiny Dancer

I went to Coachella this weekend, and for those of you unfamiliar, it's an annual 2 day art & music festival held in the middle of the desert. Seeing as how the lineup is pretty eclectic & eccentric (although less so this year with the inclusion of Kanye West & Madonna. Eclectic, sure, but appealing to a more accessible fan base), the festival goers can be somewhat out-there, falling just short of Burning Man in terms of widespread weirdness. But in a place where everyone is vying to be individual, some going to desperate lengths, there is little to be found at Coachella that's really all that shocking. You find yourself walking around mentally ticking off items on the standard peculiarities checklist.

Even with all the off-beat sculptures, interactive displays & Goths eating corn on the cob, nothing could have prepared me for what would prove to be the most surreal sighting of the weekend.

Standing just in front of me on the periphery of the dance tent was none other than Danny Devito.

Did I say 'standing'? No, Devito was full-on undulating to the incessant beat of techno.

Who knew that Louie De Palma had dreams of breaking out of that cage, leaving the deadbeats at the Sunshine Cab Company behind to lose himself in the music?
"Taxi" will never be the same.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

One Man's Trash . . .

From the I-Shit-You-Not-It's-Actually-Real Department:

Once in a lifetime there comes a film . . . a film that captures the voice of a generation . . . OK, a film that must be seen to be believed, a story that boggles the mind, making one wonder how it ever was greenlit . . . or at the very least, a movie that rouses your humble blogger from his current state of existential angst. No, I'm not talking about Love Actually (I'll never figure out the appeal of that one, but I digress). Yesterday while killing time*, I came across the following masterpiece:

Oh, it's real alright. Not just a clever photograph. In fact, you can rent it from both Netflix & Blockbuster, or if that isn't enough, throw this tour de force on your Amazon wishlist. IMDB offered no plot summary, so I did a little digging & found a nice description over at Dumpster Baby's parent company, Troma films, but it was the synopsis put together by DVDtalk that captured my heart:

Two crack whores are getting high when the overweight addict suddenly realizes she's giving birth. She has to get rid of the child or her drug dealer boyfriend will kill her. She gives the fetus to her friend, who tries to get rid of it. A local gang member rejects her offer, and she ends up placing the infant in a dumpster. From there, it finds its way into several differing hands, including a college student, a mentally retarded groundskeeper, a group of addle adolescents and a young girl who anguishes over a recent abortion. All the while, a black-hatted figure in a flowing cape is tracking the child, attempting to abduct it for unknown purposes. Eventually, a pair of teen paramours runs afoul of the infant's fate, and it's not long before the police - and a cannibal - are involved. All the while, our unseen infant is carried and cuddled, a catalyst for some, a curse for others. Eventually, the baby finds its way onto a desolate beach, where a bum provides a soliloquy to aging. And still, the man in the hat and cape keeps coming...

Now come on, how could you
not want to see it? Crack whores, overweight addicts, gangs, students, the handi-capable, cannibals . . . there's something for everyone. And with such a diverse array of characters, I've begun to imagine this film as Crash told through the eyes of an abandoned crack baby. I wonder if these characters are as stereotypical as the inhabitants of Paul Haggis' Los Angeles® . . .

So I'm still laughing about this find going on 24 hours later, but what nearly pushed my bladder to the breaking point was the following review by a hapless customer on Netflix's page (see above link):

What more could I possibly say about the movie? It is horrible! I popped the dvd in and it started off with some stupid stuff, then it just got even worse, it said it was not rated, so I figured it was safe for my 7 year old son to watch. WRONG! Their (sic) was a woman being raped, and when she was raped, they showed her full body, she then jumped off a bridge butt naked, they showed everything, they couldn't rate it because it was so horrible it shouldn't have even made it on the market I personally think! I think this should stop being sent to customers!

I would like to point out that titles aren't just "being sent to customers." Netflix doesn't decide, "Hey, you know what? There's a lot of buzz around this
Dumpster Baby movie, let's randomly send it to customers as a special treat!" God, I'd love it if things worked that way. Here's poor Kristin Wright of Anytown, USA, checking her mail when she comes across the usual red envelope. "What's this? Dumpster Baby, eh? I don't remember physically adding that to my queue. Gee, that was awful kind of 'em. Sounds like a good companion piece to Baby's Day Out for my impressionable 7 year old. In fact, I won't even bother to read the synopsis on the DVD sleeve before I pop it in the player for my unattended boy while I'm off mixing up a fresh batch of meth in the bathtub."

The DVDtalk review makes it sound like an honest-to-God, not-so-terrible movie. But, I have to admit, it's the angry parent's review that makes me
have to see this movie. Off to the top of my queue you go.

*I found this item on Defamer, which then directed me to the You Can't Make It Up blog, so I'm not blazing any new territory here, but then again, I never claim to be.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Every Shoulder Needs One

How's this for job-related braggadocio?

A couple of days ago, a quick jaunt to the office kitchen to replenish my coffee lead to a chance encounter w/ one of the bigwigs, who paid me what may have been the greatest compliment to my efforts here at work. What follows is a near-verbatim account:

Producer: "So I hear you may be training to do some work on the weekend show."
Me: "Yeah, after sweeps I going to shadow a couple of people."
P: "That's great. Are you excited?"
M (fairly ass-kissy): "Yeah, I'm excited to learn anything new around here."
P: "Yeah, your job is kinda the Armpit around here."

M (stirring coffee): " . . . "
P: "I mean, with the logging & monotony & whatnot"

And with that, the Coworker exited the kitchen leaving me staring into the empty abyss of my coffee mug.

Now, in Coworker's defense, I know it wasn't intended to be an insult, but I'd like to know how one is expected to react when you're told your position amounts to a swampy, undesirable body part. Seriously, I'd like to know; feel free to comment. Is that how we're perceived by the higher-ups? Is this their true color? "Give it to the armpits, they'll do anything." And I'd like to point out that I was promoted recently . . . prior to this casual conference. If I'm the Armpit now, what the hell was I 2 months ago?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Good night, Bluths

Tonight FOX airs the last four episodes of Arrested Development. If Showtime doesn't pick up the series, tonight marks the end of a great comedy.

I'd like to take a moment to express my grief:

Fuck you, FOX.

Friday, January 13, 2006

I'm a Grabowski

If the name 'Grabowski' conjures images of Antoni Grabowski, Polish chemical engineer & Esperanto activist, Ditka's gonna school you on the finer points of being a 'Grabowski'.

Click now & 'Get off yer bottom, reach for the top, keep on shufflin' & never stop.
Thanks, Mike.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Lesson Learned

Lesson learned on my Annual Holiday Visit Home:

It’s been said you can return home, but never truly return to the home of your youth. I have photographic evidence.

Keith, Age 5


. . .wait for it . . . .

Keith, 25 years later

Hair-raising indeed. That’s just plain disturbing.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

"Take my arm! Take my leg!!"

I think I’m going to have to figuratively add Becky, Queen of Carpets; the Schweig-Engel Posse; & Art Haack to my family.

Every time I return home for the holidays, one truth becomes more & more evident: America is homogenizing to a standardized strip mall. No matter what city/town/state you visit, you’ll come across the Westfield Boilerplate Mall or the typical Target/Best Buy/Wal-Mart combo strip mall, inset from Applebee’s/TGIF’s/Ruby Tuesday’s or other eatery arrangement, sometimes all three, only distinctive in their choice of wall-mounted bric-a-brac (though scarcely so, I couldn’t tell you which had the old-timey bicycle or which had the old-timey weather vane). However, some small businesses strive to stay alive in the face of the Wal-Martization of the country, carving out their slice of local celebrity. And the only weapon in their arsenal: The Local Commercial. In a world with an ever-converging suburban design, I find comfort in the late-night, basic cable local commercials as the last remaining signs of regionalism. When the customary family squabbles, inevitable depression & Midwest isolation aren’t enough to make me feel at home, I can always turn on the TV late at night & before too long, I’m welcomed by some old familiar faces:

• First off is Becky, Queen of Carpets, current proprietor of Becky’s Carpet & Tile Superstore, formally Becky & Wanda’s Carpet Superstore. There’s a bit of mystery surrounding the disappearance of Wanda, Princess of Tile: For years, Becky & Wanda flew tandem on a carpet in front of the St. Louis Arch, Becky rotund & jolly, Wanda getting up there in years, but cheerfully overseeing her carpet kingdom, seemingly happy in their royal hierarchy . . . until one of my trips home I discovered Wanda no longer held her place on the carpet & there was no explanation for her departure. But there was Becky, bigger than ever (clearly the flooring aristocracy had been good to her in Wanda’s absence), smiling & flying solo in front of the Arch. Most surmise that Becky’s imperial tastes grew so rapacious, Wanda was actually consumed by Becky; her growing girth would certainly corroborate that claim. I like to think that there was some political upheaval, w/ Wanda (so obvious as Becky’s elder) holding an actual seat on the throne & Becky just a figurehead, but the insurgency actually got to Becky & convinced her to usurp Wanda of her throne. Wanda may be wrapped in remnants in the bottom of the Mississippi River. We may never know the truth behind the scandal. The only thing we can definitely deduct is that I’ve had far too much time in my annual visits to contemplate Wanda’s whereabouts.
In the past couple of years, I’ve noticed Becky’s weight dropping rapidly, & my brother tells me she’s been on local talk shows invalidating claims that gastro-intestinal bypass is the cause, but rather diet & exercise. I don’t know, though, how can we believe Becky, whose kingdom is built on lies & betrayal?

Still, it wouldn’t be home without Becky.

• The newest addition is the Dirt Cheap Cigarettes & Beer mascot (sadly, not anywhere to be found in a Google search) is a bird that looks a little like the San Diego Chicken with a terminal case of mange or some other avian mite infestation, definitely not the sort of mascot you’d encourage your kids to run up & hug.

The bird, we’ll call him “Cheep,” dances in place pointing at cigarette cartons & booze calling out, “Cheap! Cheap!” while the owner wisely imparts, “The more she drinks, the better you’ll look.” Elaboration on why I love this is not necessary, I think.

• And the last two are from the “Gone, But Never Forgotten” files: This lasted only a couple of years after I left, but the appropriately named animated spots for Art Haack Buick were so damned catchy & annoying that they’re burned into my head for a lifetime. No amount of information displacement will ever clear its mesmeric jingle, “Come down South / To Art Haack Buick / Come down South & get the lowest price / Come down South / To Art Haack Buick / Come down South & get the ART HAACK price!” Reading doesn’t do it justice. As a kid, I was always bothered by the shoddy animation; the Art Haack (I’ll never get sick of the unintended meaning of “Art Haack”) commercial made South Park look like Fantasia’s “Night on Bald Mountain.” What really used to give me the fits about the spot was the way every character on screen blinked simultaneously, like those damn Shop ‘N Save bags.

It’s a good thing they had that shitty jingle.

• Finally, though I never quite knew what they were selling, you were guaranteed a treat whenever a Schweig-Engel commercial aired. A little recent research clarifies their business: Schweig-Engle was a Rent-a-Center specializing in furniture, appliances, electronics & well, everything. They parodied Ghostbusters (Price-busters!), John Wayne, nothing was too sacred to promote their wares. My personal favorite is the S-E ad where a hapless customer gets his bill from some other establishment & breaks down exclaiming, “Here, take my arm! Take my leg!” as he places inaccurately colored limbs on the counter.

Who knows, maybe someday, long after I’ve left Los Angeles, I’ll return & catch a Crazy Gideon spot; or the “We The People” jingle (“bringing JUSTICE to all!”); or L&S Carpet; or another poorly dubbed Leeds Mattress ad (“I WON’T be beat!”); or of course, Sit ‘n Sleep, where they’ll “beat any advertised price or your mattress is FREEEEEEEE!!!” Maybe the exclamation, “You’re killing me, Larry!” will someday make me homesick.