Wednesday, February 25, 2015

And The Oscar Goes To...Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Recently I have been suffering from a crisis of conscience. In my desire to create, I have become less and less interested in “deconstructing” other people’s work. Meaning, I no longer feel like “talking shit” on McG (among others).  I just no longer enjoy criticizing. So much so, that I have put a temporary distance between myself and the hate platform known as Social Media.

Facebook, the racism “metal detector.” (ß Okay, apparently I don’t mind criticizing Mark Zuckerberg’s work).

I used to LOVE to watch events such as award shows and Tweet pretty much everything that comes to my mind (grammar be damned and spelling errors aplenty). It was like being in a writer’s room with the potential of 1000s of other writers. The thing is, that writer’s room is getting more and more crowded all the time. It seems everyone has decided to add Live Tweeting to their resume in the past couple of years.

After Tweeting the Grammy’s I felt rather empty (fill in “terrible state of music joke” and then make sure to tell the neighborhood kids to get off your lawn). I also realized I wasted almost 4 hours of my life watching something I knew I had predisposed myself to hating, which of course fueled my vitriolic Tweets.

Since the Grammy’s left me feeling so low, I decided to watch the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary broadcast while barely glancing at my phone. I found I enjoyed it because I wasn't hunting and pecking all of the flaws I saw during a 3 and a half hour live event (how could there NOT be a few?)

Then, a couple of days before the Oscars I started to think, “Should I even watch them this year?”

I wasn't nominated for anything (again). So what was the draw for me?

“Don’t you love movies?”

Of course I do. I loved movies SOOOO much, that I wasted tens of thousands of my parent dollars going to film school (I finally work in the field – THANKS Mom & Dad). But what do the Oscars have to do with movies? Wouldn't it make MORE sense to actually go SEE a movie during the Oscars?

So I watched the opening number to the Oscars. I thought it was very nice. Then I decided to turn off the TV and go see a movie.

What to see?

I had seen a lot of the nominated films already throughout the year. I wasn't looking for anything super deep, just something to sit and be entertained. Perhaps a comedy? I looked to see what was playing nearby.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2. Of course! Why not? I LOVED the first Hot Tub Time Machine. And I equally love Adam Scott. This is a home run, right?

editor’s note:  it wasn't. More like a broken bat single into right field during Spring Training without any runners on base…but hey, it’s in the ball park

Another editor’s note:  I realize the previous editor’s note is in complete conflict to the argument above, however it was written AFTER the rest of the piece…SPOILERS!
  
But alas, this story isn't about HTTM2. It’s about the experience of trying to GET there.



Over the past month, the East Coast is been bombarded at night with subfreezing temperatures. So much so, that the city of Boston has all but put out a hit on a weather predicting rodent who resides in Pennsylvania, and South Carolina has incarcerated one of Disney’s newest and “coolest”characters.

The temperatures during the day, rise high enough to melt the endless barrage of snow that has been piling up, and then freeze all over the roads at night. So my usual 10 minute drive to the movie theater took about 20 minutes, and included as much sliding as pleading with Isaac Newton to keep my car from staying in motion through red lights.

I finally got to the theater and parked.

I had NO idea what kind of crowds the theaters would draw during the Oscars. Would it be like the movies at Christmas in 2014? Everybodypiles into the car to swamp the theaters. Or would it be like the movies at Christmas in 1994? A secret kept by the few who knew how easy it was to get in and out with plenty of arm room.

I walked in to the AMC Theater and a heavier Man in a cardigan, who doesn't look like he passes up a lot of cookies, and a young Woman on a headset were behind the counter. The Woman was having a conversation with someone on the headset. The Man was looking at her as I approached them.

The Man, never taking his eyes off of the Woman said, “Can I help you?”

I waited a beat, wondering, “Is he talking to her or me?” The beat went on too long so I asked, “Excuse me?”

He finally turns his gaze towards me and repeated, this time in a less than sincere tone, “Can I help you?”

“Oh. Yes, I’d like 1 ticket to Hot Tub Time Machine 2, please.”

“Sold out.”

“Really?”

“Yes. In fact everything is sold out.”

“Oh, Wow!” I guess the Oscars has become the new Christmas.

I was very surprised. I thanked them and walked out the door.
Towards the parking lot.
Where my car was parked.
In the amazingly…
unfilled…
parking lot.

Carpooling perhaps?

Something seemed “off.” So I pulled out my phone. I went to Fandango. I typed in the movie and theater. This particular theater (AMC Painters 9 Unit 0598 as listed on my eventual ticket), is one of those new fandangled “Dine-in” theaters. Which means you can pick your actual seat when you purchase your ticket online. So I opened the seating chart and realized the parking lot wasn't the only thing that was empty.

When this Man said “sold out,” was he commenting on ME for NOT watching the Oscars?

I bought my ticket from Fandango and got this message:


So far, the automated computer response had been kinder to me than 2 actual people.

I turned around and went back in the theater. I was in full view of Man and Woman the entire time I stood outside. When I turned around, they must have realized what I had done.

“Oh, we just had a returned ticket.” Said Woman.

“That’s convenient, ‘cause I just bought one.” Said Me.

“They shouldn’t be selling any more tickets! They need to update the system.” Said Man. To Woman. While looking at Me.

Okay…it’s now occurred to me, he might have been a faulty robot who enjoys cardigans and cookies.
They ripped my ticket and I was on my way.

Those are some sexy nails, am I right ladies?
I walked into the theater half expecting it to be packed with patrons having to sit on the floor because of a computer error that continued to sell tickets to a sold out show. Instead, 1 minute before the previews were to begin, I asked the ONLY other person in the theater if he too was told the show was “Sold Out.” He said, “No, but the 7pm was.” Having this info means this guy either came to the 7 and was turned away, or attempted to buy tickets online for the 7pm and had to do the 9pm instead. From this I deducted he also bypassed the purchasing from Man-o-bot and WomanLady.

I took a picture of the empty theater.

Having taken a photo in the theater, I'm sure I'm on an F.B.I. watch list for pirating movies now.
It should be noted that during the previews another couple came in and sat a few rows behind me. I’ll wager a guess that they too bought their tickets from Fandango before coming.

This would be an excellent time to tell you that according to Box Office Mojo, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 made $5,963,324 in its opening weekend. That is NOT a good number. And yet, it could have been higher, had the 100+ seat theater I was sitting in, not been “sold out.”

I don’t tend to complain. I worked in retail for 15 years, and I get that things happen. But the Man’s unprompted rudeness and the Woman’s lie pissed me off. A LOT! MY CRITICIZING BONE HAS BEEN HEALED!!!

Did the woman think I was so dumb that I wouldn't realize there was only one other person in the theater?

I complained. To the writer’s room.
AKA - I used Twitter to contact AMC Theaters:





I also added the photo I posted above. (Hence the F.B.I. watch list)

Then, the next day, they contacted me...or at least Brien did:


And now we wait…


Well that didn't take long. Hmmm…I can’t help but notice there seems to be no apology of any kind in this response. Perhaps they’ll send it with some free movie tickets or a fruit basket…





See I'm reasonable...


Okay. Not THAT reasonable, I guess...


“Bad info.” So they are simply saying, “Sorry you were lied too, asshole. However, that’s our company policy. It’s just most people don’t actually complain. And why the fuck aren’t you at home watching the Oscars? – Brien”

Also, no fruit basket.


I seem pissed...but I still singled out the service from the wait staff as being excellent. 


Will-fucking-do? Pretty casual Brien.

So, no apology.
No offer of free tickets implying, “We’ll do better next time.”
No fruit basket.
Not even a couple cookie crumbs off RobotDick’s over stretched cardigan.


Sunday night, I realized a few things:

1. I should have stayed in and watched the Oscars
2. I won't be going back to that movie theater  
3. I’m a critical mother fucker! (for example, see review of Hot Tub Time Machine 2 above)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Kim Jong Un: The Next Augustus Gloop


Kim Jong UN gets a new haircut and waxes his eyebrows in preparation for his meeting with Willy Wonka. He's looking more and more like Augustus Gloop every day!

The entire Kim family has been known to rule using Pure Imagination.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Even Gods Die (Whatever The Hell That Means)

When I was a senior in high school, I did the musical Godspell. I filmed everything. And, Oh yeah, I also stole a lawn ornament.

I’m sure the statute of limitation for stealing a statue has worn off by now, right? Just in case, I won’t give you too many details other than to say, I was a bored teenager.

A handful of us were out one night and saw a statue (AKA lawn ornament) in someone’s garden. We felt it would be perfect, NOT in their garden anymore. It would be wrong to rat out my accomplices at this time. But if you really need to know, Steve Berger & Mike Dionne could shed some light on that for you.

We were dicks and we absconded with the concrete kid under the cover of night.

The statue, depending on who you asked, was a little boy or a little girl decked out in a bathing suit, as well as a pair of swimmers goggles on top of a swimmers cap. It was probably bought as a gift for the home of a young championship swimmer who has since gone on to compete at an Olympic level. I still feel bad about that (the theft, not the Olympics).

We had named the statue “Bob,” and “given” him to my buddy Jim. Jim was going away to the Naval Academy, while to rest of us would be loafing around the summer before entering college.  These are out Outsiders days (minus any of us saving a kid from a fire, though I wouldn't put that one past Dionne). Since openly displaying stolen contraband is frowned upon by the US Navy, it was decided that Bob would remain at my parent’s house while Jim was away.

The rest of the summer, Bob sat silently on a bulkhead overlooking my parent’s pool. I’m sure the temptation to dive in was at the forefront of his concrete mind. However, his embedding dive would not result in meeting water. Instead, a strong gust of wind would knock him off the bulkhead, sending him plummeting about 5 feet to the cement pool deck. The impact destroyed Bob’s legs and much of his torso.  This was most unfortunate, as we had recently concocted the plan of sending photos of Bob having fun throughout the summer to his rightful owners, with the intention of returning him once the Summer ended. Now it seemed that behavior would be cold and callous.

So there was only one thing we could do…get rid of the evidence in a Vikingesque Funeral.

We waited until Jim was able to take a break from the military Academy to properly eulogize Bob. That date would come sometime in the late Fall or early Winter of 1995 at the beach…where the water was FREEZING COLD! And of course for good measure, I filmed it.

What follows is a video entitled “Even Gods Die.”

I have no earthly memory of why we felt we needed to bestow the power of a god on this sedentary monument. Perhaps out of the same teenage boredom that saw us nab him in the first place or, as previously mentioned, because we were dicks.


But alas, this deity is no more…unless you happen to end up with a chunk of rock in your foot while down the Jersey shore. IN which case, please address all lawsuits to Jim McCabe.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Saturday Night Live (40 Years And Counting...)



Saturday Night Live debuted about 3 weeks before I was born.

My first recollection of the show was on March 12, 1983 when Buckwheat was shot. I was a little more than 7 years old and didn’t yet grasp the concept of parody. The now famous sketch aired almost 2 years to the day after President Ronald Reagan was shot in similar fashion.

I wouldn’t start watching Saturday Night Live more religiously until around the time NBC aired the miniseries AD (March 31-April 4, 1985) and SNL did a running gag throughout the episode. “Caesar does not bring me this glove himself?” WHACK WHACK!

But it would be the cast of the 12th season that would seal the deal for me. Dana Carvey, Nora Dunn, Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Victoria Jackson, Lon Lovitz as well as holdover from season 11, Dennis Miller collectively worked together to bring me back week after week. A. Whitney Brown and Kevin Nealon were merely featured players at that time.

My parents bought a video camera in 1987 just in time for Christmas.

I would film my own sketches with my brothers Brian and Erick, which were mostly shittier versions of the sketches SNL did the week before. My buddy Jim would spend many Saturday nights, which might explain why to this day, our conversations still invoke Steve Amadbenbrassier (from the “Iran’s Most Wanted” sketch).

By the time 1994 rolled around, I was convinced I would someday be a writer on Saturday Night Live. I wasn't brazen enough to think I’d be a cast member. After all, I had terrible stage fright.

Fast forward to 2015. Though, I obviously have never written for Saturday Night Live, I have done an awful lot with live comedy.  I still think of that kid from 1994, and his stage fright, every time I step on stage and I wonder if he could fathom what he’s done.

So this past Sunday, NBC  aired a live broadcast celebrating 40 years of SNL. I admit, my love for the show has faded over the past decade and a half. Perhaps I’m too old to truly be a member of its fan base, don’t trustanyone over 30 and such. But all the same I was very excited to see all of my comic heroes on one stage.

Neither the kid with stage fright, nor the slightly graying/heavily balding performer, was disappointed with the outcome.


Sure there were some missed cues, but all in all I enjoyed the show. I watched for about an hour and a half before I picked up my phone to see what Facebook and Twitter had to say. I was kind of surprised by how much vitriol and anger I was seeing. Then I remembered, it’s the internet. Did these voices also dream long ago that they’d now be writing for SNL? I decided to close my phone and just enjoy the rest of the show.

I loved all of the inside jokes. Many of them I know from years of reading about what goes on behind the show.

I loved seeing all of the Not Ready For Primetime Playersfrom the original cast. At least all of them that are still alive.

I loved seeing so many SUPER stars who got their starts in studio 8H including Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey.

I loved seeing how humble Chevy Chase, a man who doesn’t usually know that word, was.

I loved seeing the return of Eddie Murphy, no matter how brief.

I even loved seeing Miley Cyrus sing a very restrained version of Paul Simon's  50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, realizing she’s NOT bigger than SNL (something that Kanye West didn’t seem to get).


It’s weird to see a show that is the exact same age as you, grow old. It makes me wonder how many jokes either of us has left. Will SNL go on until Lorne Michaels breathes his last breath? Will it continue even after he’s gone, as an institution to not just television, but comedy? Will I out live it? Is it still waiting around for that kid from 1994?

No matter what the future holds for you, me, Lorne Michaels, angry tweeters or SNL, there’s is one thing that will always remain true:




Saturday, February 14, 2015

Ground Zero...er...not THAT Ground Zero

My senior year of High School, a couple of buddies and I (including my brother, Erick) started what we thought was a sketch show called "Ground Zero." In reality, it was more of an improv to sketch since nothing was written. The problem was...I hadn't heard of Improv yet, and wouldn't for almost 12 years.

We would get together whenever we could, come up with a plot ("Hey, let's dress as cops") and pull out a camera.

Because I loved the Fishbone song, "Party at Ground Zero," we decided to name the show "Ground Zero." This was 1994. 7 years before a bunch of assholes would board some american plans and forever change the New York skyscape, giving a whole new meaning to the name "Ground Zero."

We had long since abandoned the "show" as well.

Somewhere around 2006ish, I wanted to resurrect it. This time I actually wrote about 20 sketches. However, nothing ever came of it, so those sketches just live on a hard drive, never to see the light of day. All things considered, that's probably NOT a bad thing.

One of the running bits that Jim McCabe and I would do was the:

"From the makers of Howard's End..."

Our immaturity should have gotten a writing credit.

Over the years, I have attempted to convert some of these old videos to a digital format and upload them to Al Gore's Internet Extravaganza! I have gone through about 6 VCRs, none of which have worked. EFF you...old ass technology!

For Christmas this year (about 5 days before Christmas), I told Julie, I only wanted a VCR.
She got me one.
Tonight, I finally got around to hooking it up.

So, for my Facebook friends, I apologize in advance for the #TBT that will be coming your way weekly. I won't pretend this stuff is ground breaking or anything of the sort. But I was 18 years old. So deal with it...


video

Friday, February 13, 2015

Abraham Lincoln - Photos Before & After The Civil War


This photo comparison shows up on Reddit every once in a while. It depicts President Abraham Lincoln both before and after navigating the country through the tumultuous period of The Civil War. But I'm not certain the photos are THAT different.

I am not attempting to mitigate the effects war has on a person. It obviously takes it's toll both mentally & physically. One could even argue spiritually, as some people find faith in a higher power while at war, while others lose it completely. I am just curious if these 2 photos can truly represent, what is intended when posting it.

We have all seen photo comparisons of a President before and after taking office. There is usually a huge difference. Most of these photos span an 8 year period, or two terms. Keeping in mind that the minimum age of a President must be 35, meaning the latter photo is taken, at minimum, when the subject is 43 years old. And that's just in theory since our youngest President, Theodore Roosevelt, was 42 when he took office after the assassination of William McKinley. Roosevelt would serve almost all 4 years of McKinley's term and then go on to win his own election, tapping out at 8 years. He was 50 when he left office. Whether President or not, there's is a markedly difference in one's looks between 42 & 50. If you have not yet hit those milestones, look at photos of your parents. The aging process seems to speed up as one gets older. Dammit.

That's not to say, MANY sleepless nights aren't heavy contributing factors to how one looks in 1901 vs 1909.

ALL that said, back to this photo of honest Abe:

The first photo was taken by photographer (obviously), Matthew Brady on February 27, 1860. It was the day Lincoln delivered a campaign speech at the Cooper Union in New York. A speech that is believed to have helped him capture the White House in the upcoming election. 

The second photo is the last portrait of the living Lincoln, ever to be taken. It was taken on April 10, 1865, a mere week before his assassination. The photo is known to be one of the few portraits that shows Lincoln grinning, which is important in regards to why I don't think the photos are drastically different.

This would be a good time for me to mention, that I am NOT a professional photographer. I defer to all of my photo friends and colleagues as I am merely an amateur with a point & shoot.

The first thing I'd take into account based on these photos differences is the lighting. Lights and their positioning could be a contributing factor to a lot of the darkness and shadow on Lincoln in the second photo . The lights used would have been very different between a photographer in NYC in 1860 vs one in Washington D.C. in 1865. Also, there's no indication in regards to whether natural light was incorporated into either shoot. There's a story of Lincoln "strolling up Broadway" in NYC on the same day the photo was taken in 1860, but no report on whether it was overcast or not. Surely the light in February is wildly different than that of April (says the guy freezing his butt off while he writes this in February).

Then there's the positioning of the subject, himself. In Brady's portrait, Lincoln's collar sits lower than the latter. According to Jeremy Losak 

"Brady instructs Lincoln to draw up his collar to hide his imposing neck and show off his appearance as a whole. Brady’s goal was to make use of Lincoln’s height and make him look like less of a rough westerner and more like a proper statesman."

Whether such instruction was given to Lincoln in 1865 is unknown.
We already know that the second photo is "one of the few portraits that shows Lincoln grinning." 

Go ahead and look in a mirror. Now grin. What changed? Perhaps not a lot if you're 26, but what if you're 56? Do your cheekbones change? Do your eyes appear to sink back a bit? Does your forehead crinkle up? These are all possibilities when one smiles...especially at 56 years old. I'll admit that Lincoln isn't exactly saying "Cheese!" in the photo. But a slight change in the emotionality (<-- NOT A REAL WORD) of the face, at such a close distance for the exposure time needed in 1865 could result in a vastly different look on a person's face.

Finally the suit, beard and haircut are all different. Though, with the exception of the beard, similar. Similar enough to make them seems comparable. But alas, that's a bit misleading. The darkness in the suit in the "after" photo brings out a darkness that is missing from the "before" photo.


In the end, the man had changed profoundly from before he was elected, to after one of the worst periods in the history of our country. He had also buried his 12 year old son Willie in 1862. After which, it is well documented, a sadness fell over Lincoln that would remain for the rest of his short life. I'm just not sure that two photographs, though iconic, are that different on the surface.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

You Can't Have Your Cake & Eat It Too

I LOVE WEDDINGS!

LOVE them!


Since meeting my wife and starting to date in 1999, we have been to over 50 weddings together! That's a lot of cake I have eaten over the past 16 years. BUT, even more impressive, is that of those 50+ weddings, only 3 have ended in divorce. And two of those couples are still very friendly. Those are Hall of Fame like stats. You're welcome romance!


I am 100% pro marriage equality. I honestly can't see why anyone would stand in opposition to it. If you're a fan of the "free market" it would open up job opportunities for wedding planners, florists, cake makers, limo drivers, photographers, videographers, catering staff, dress makers, seamstresses, tux rental outlets, bartenders...the list goes on and on.


"I don't want to make a gay cake."




Is it because of the 6 different layers? If you're not up to the challenge, perhaps you recommend cupcakes to the happy couple, instead. 


"I don't recognize 'same sex marriage'."
This always puzzles me. How do you not recognize it? Is "same sex marriage" always dressed in disguise. 


As I write this, Alabama has become the 37th state to recognize same sex marriage. Even though Chief Justice Roy S. Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court has ordered judges NOT to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.


This guy fucking HATES gay cupcakes. Maybe he's a diabetic with minimal self control.

After all, that's what this issue seems to boil down to. The fear of gorging yourself on gay wedding cake or lezzie cupcakes? YOU might be tempted, so everyone else suffers. We all know that old adage, "A moment on the lips, a lifetime having gay sex."

So all of you lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people who's marriages are being blocked, you really brought this on yourselves, by having such tasty and delicious desserts. 

For now, we'll just keep the traditional marriage between a man and a woman...who wants to exploit the man (who happens to be a psychopathic murderer and cult leader) by marrying him with the intention of displaying his dead body for profit once he's finally "kicked it."






(EDITOR: You guys totally got that Chief Justice Roy S. Moore wants to eat cock, right?)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

CAAN!!!

First a Tweet:


Then a text: 


Finally...

Don't let the smile fool you...this was NOT a fun weekend. Course it does kind of look like he's giving me a handjob.

Story (sans any handjobs) to follow...