Send us an e-mail please:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Internet Wants You To Hate Me

The internet won’t be happy until it turns everyone against me.  That might sound paranoid to you, but recent trends support this theory.  First, there was the How Much Do You Like Cats? quiz, which exposed me as the cat hater I am not.  Now there’s this guy.  I’m not delighted by this guy, and it appears I’m wrong.

For you anti-link-clickers in our viewing audience, allow me to provide a brief summary.  It’s a tale as old as time really, in fact, it is probably an old story, but I only just become aware of it because someone posted a link to it on Facebook.  16-year-old Rain asked his father, Dale, to kindly stop waving good-bye to him as the school bus pulled away because he felt slightly embarrassed by this.  Instead of ceasing all waving immediately, the boy’s father continued to bid his son farewell, now donning a variety of costumes, a large number of them dresses, for some reason.

Admittedly, this one isn't so bad.

Saucy Raggedy Ann being eaten by a fish?

Too far.

It appears I spoke to soon.

This is one of those click bait stories that pop up on Facebook from time to time—in fact, as I mentioned earlier, that’s how I found it—and everybody inexplicably finds it charming.  They commend the dad for his, I don’t know, failure to cut his child some slack, revel in his lust for life and penchant for fun, because apparently waving good-bye to your teenage son from the front yard dressed in an ill-fitting Wonder Woman costume is a super sweet dad move.  People who post comments on this sort of stuff will usually leave comments like, “I love this,” or “Way to go, dad!” or “Someday this kid will get it!”  What’s to get?  This guys an asshole.  Yeah, that’s right.  I’m a cat-hater who thinks fun dads suck.  I’m the worst.

Why is embarrassing your kid in front of his/her peers commendable?   Why does the online community at large embrace characters like this, hold them aloft on their metaphorical shoulders as if they are cultural heroes?  Sometimes it seems that to be considered a good dad, by internet standards anyway, you have to be a larger-than-life weirdo with a wardrobe stocked full of silly costumes and funny signs.  Seriously.  Here are some actual comments people have left (comments in parentheses clearly my own):

"amazing Father" (why?)

"Thats one heck of a dad...♡" (Why??)

"Super Duper Dad. He pays attention to his kids. So many so called Dads don't even acknowlege their kids. Thumbs up Dad!" (He doesn't pay attention to his kids!  His kid asked him to stop!)

And they go on.

One of my favorite pastimes is, and has always been, irritating the people I love.  I don’t do it constantly, but sometimes I’ll find myself in the mood to annoy my loved ones and I’ll go for it.  With my wife, I play this character we call Dumb Guy.  Dumb Guy pretends he doesn’t know something that everybody on the planet knows.  I used to be able to drive my wife crazy with this guy, now she mostly ignores me.  I don’t break Dumb Guy out very much anymore, but my affection for him will never die.   I also do Shocked By The Bill Guy, who is shocked by the check at every restaurant he eats at.  That one isn’t as annoying, in fact, I believe my wife looks upon him with a glimmer of admiration, but his schtick is fairly tired and one note, a fact that is not lost on me.

Speaking of restaurants, before the birth of my daughter, I explained my elaborate plan to terrify her one day to my wife.  She’d have to be, like, 7 or 8-years-old for the best effect, but the plan is we go to a restaurant and at the end of the meal, Shocked By The Bill Guy is, naturally, shocked by the bill, and explains to everyone at the table in hushed tones that he doesn’t have enough money to pay. “We’re going to have to wash dishes , I think.”  Then I’d look at my daughter and say, “Maybe you’d better head back to the kitchen and start scrubbing pots.”  In my original plan, I would push this until my daughter actually got out of her chair and started walking glumly to the kitchen.  I would then stop her and give her hug while tears of relief/hatred rolled down her cheeks.  Having made my currently 3-year-old daughter tear up with the lamest of annoyances, I now reject this idea as cruel and unusual punishment for a little girl who doesn’t deserve it. 

Shocked By The Bill Guy doing what he does best!

Look, I can admit that the above plan to upset my daughter with an undeniably lame “dad joke”—is there anything more dad jokey than a “washing the dishes because we can’t pay our bill” bit?—is unnecessarily mean and embarrassing, but it is also contained.  No one is privy to the deception aside from me, my wife and my daughter who I’ve traumatized for the afternoon.  The bit doesn’t involve me standing on a chair and announcing to our fellow restaurant patrons that we don’t have the money to pay our check or even explaining to our server that my daughter would be happy to wash some pans to pay for her chicken fingers.  It’s a tight, self-contained, personal annoyance.  Clean.  No one gets hurt.  Much.

I don’t feel the need to embarrass my daughter on a grand scale in order to earn the praise of faceless internet back-patters, people whose celebration of oddball parenting tactics is sick and strange, psychotic in its fervency.  I don’t feel the need to embarrass my daughter on a grand scale in order to prove some larger point to her.  In fact, I’m not sure what the point of all this cross-dressing and waving was exactly.  What’s to get from a steady routine of costumes and adieu-bidding?  That being an adult is boring?  That adulthood numbs a person so much that they have to don weird disguises and inspire unending embarrassment for and invite unrelenting bullying upon the offspring they profess to love to feel anything anymore?  Dumb.

***UPDATE*** If the preceding paragraphs didn’t make you hate me with a fiery, irrational passion, this might push you over the edge.  While reading up on Costume Dad, I saw a link to a “related” story about a veterinarian in Australia who performed a brain tumor-removal operation on a 10-year-old goldfish and the fish’s owner who paid $200 to have this procedure performed. 

Look, I know a lot of you are going to take issue with me referring to George the goldfish’s owner as his owner.  You’d rather me use “friend” or “protector” or “advocate” or “roommate.”  Well, the article used owner, so owner it shall be.  Also, it’s a fish, and a geriatric one at that.  10-years-old?!? I never had a goldfish live past 3 months, and I wasn’t abusing them or neglecting their dietary needs or letting their bowl get dirty.  They’re goldfish!  They are bred to be starter pets and fun fair prizes. They are not long for this cruel world and most of us have accepted this fact.  If you want to be a fish’s friend, go ahead.  I’m not going to stop you.  This isn’t about that.  This is about a person paying 200 Australia bucks (?) to an animal doctor to remove a brain tumor from a fish.  Is this heartwarming?  I feel like fans of Costume Dad and online cat quizzes think it is. 

A selfie of the author

Am I too Grinchy?  I’ve never been a fan of Dr. Seuss’s Grinch, but maybe it’s because I see too much of myself in him.  As a general rule, I try not to senselessly hate things or dislike something just because it has captured the imagination of society at large.  For instance, I didn’t hate the Twilight books and movies simply because teenage girls and their moms embraced them so readily.  I put my head down, and I did the research.  I read the first two books and watched the first movie, and, as will naturally happen when one has consumed poison or pumpkin-spiced coffee drinks, my body rejected it.  

I’m also never touched by the videos people post from Britain’s Got Talent.  You know the ones: some awkward kid lumbers onto stage, eyes glued to the floor, barely answering Simon Cowell’s questions and then he starts singing opera or break dancing or something.  The audience rejoices, and the Facebook community follows suit.  I hate those videos.  The kid can sing opera.  Big whoop.  Opera is boring.  That opera-singing boy you like so much, yeah, his career isn’t going to go much farther than your Twitter feed.  Or maybe it will, and good for him.  It isn’t inspiring to me though.  Why do I have to act like it is to fit in?  I refuse to participate.  I’m just going to sit up here on my mountain and tie antlers to my dog’s head.  Wait.  That sounds like somebody.

As always, like what you like.  But don’t expect me to go along with you "just because."  And that shouldn’t make you not like me or not enjoy my blog or not subscribe to my monthly fan-fic newsletter, What If Buffy and Willow Hooked Up Monthly (ask me about it offline).  Different things touch and inspire different people.  You might have found inspiration in the Ice Bucket Challenge trend a month and a half ago, and that’s great.  That inspiration led to a lot of donations to a worthy cause.  And maybe the story of a costumed man embarrassing his teenage son at the bus stop every morning or a man who loves a pet fish so much he’s willing to pay $200 to have a tumor removed from its fish flake-sized brain brings you to tears.  That’s fine.  But maybe I’m more inspired by something else, something that isn’t furry or costumed or singing opera, and that’s fine too.  I guess what I’m saying is that I’m not a Grinch, but maybe I’m more discerning…?  That’s probably insulting isn’t it?  I’m not trying to be.  Sigh.   Darn you, Internet!!!

Read the rest of this article.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Last 3 Movies: Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil/God Bless America/John Dies At The End

I'm back from my latest unfortunate hiatus.  Can everybody please agree to stop dying for awhile?!?  As always, thanks to everyone who has called or visited or sent texts or brought us meat during the crazy bummer that has been the last two months.  I don't think Late Summer 2014 can ever possibly be dethroned as the King of Shitty Summers, but light is finally hazily visible at the end of the sadness tunnel and we're just going to hold each other close and blast toward it Rocketeer-style.  But seriously, to any of our close personal friends that check in from time to time on this ridiculous endeavor of mine, thank you for all of the support you've shown for my wife and our family.  We couldn't do it without you guys.

Most of you, I think, just drift onto this here blog accidental-like, so please do not read the preceding paragraph.  It is not for you.  Don't misunderstand: I love everyone who reads Giant Electric Penguin, from the bots advertising Viagra to the angry Hemlock Grove fans who think I'm an idiot.  If this is your first time to the blog--or the one-thousandth time!--I'm glad you're here.  Welcome.  Now please open your hymnal to page 301.

I thought I'd bring back an old feature that, like so many others, I let fade away because of, um, let's just call it laziness.  However, I'm ready to bring it back because, quite frankly, I've been watching a lot of movies lately--thank you Netflix on my iPhone--and they've all been pretty good.  So, here we go:

Welcome to Last 3 Movies, GEP's new returning feature in which I reflect on the last three movies I watched.  That's basically it.  Enjoy.

Title: Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)

Why did I watch this?:  My friend Gabe--who wrote this book that you should totally buy and read right after you finish reading this dumb thing, and Gabe, if you are by any chance seeing this, I plan to purchase and read your book in the coming weeks--recommended it to me an embarrassingly long time ago, and as I am wont to do, I filed said recommendation in the swampy part of my brain where recommendations from friends go to drown and die, and I forgot about it.

The viewing experience: I want to like "horror comedies," because it seems like a genre that would be right up my alley or in my wheelhouse or, as my wife says, "up [my] cornhole."  Unfortunately, I'm not particularly a fan of comedy mixed in with my horror.  I'm the same way about sex.  Now this doesn't mean I enjoy relentlessly dark and demoralizing horror (or sex), I don't, I just don't need a bunch of silly chocolate mixed in with my serious peanut butter.  That doesn't mean I dislike all "horror comedy," heavens no!  Evil Dead 2 is one of the finest horror comedies ever made, and Dead Alive, An American Werewolf in London, Slither (which I saw at the $1 theater with Gabe...ah, memories), Re-Animator and Gremlins are films I love.

You can just go ahead and add Tucker & Dale to that list if you don't mind.  It's clever, genuinely funny and gloriously gory, and the leads, Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine, are fantastic!  

Advice to Hollywood:  I've said it before and I'll keep saying it until I can't say it no more: Put. Tyler. Labine. In. Everything.

Point of Interest: Tucker & Dale features a better wood chipper moment than Fargo.  Yeah.  I said it.

Behind the Scenes at GEP: Above when I decided to include the titles of a few horror-comedies that I genuinely enjoy, my mind went utterly blank after Dead Alive, so, I turned to Wikipedia for assistance, typing "list of horror comedies" into the search bar.  Here are a few of the films listed that I had never heard of but must see ASAP: Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967); I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle (1990); Killer Condom (1997); Hey, Stop Stabbing Me! (2003); SARS Wars (2004); Netherbeast Incorporated (2007); and of course Zombie Ass (2011).

Title: God Bless America (2011)

Why did I watch this?: I am a fan of director Bobcat Goldthwait's 2009 film, World's Greatest Dad, starring Robin Williams in probably my favorite performance of his, and I hadn't processed Williams' death yet and I'd never seen this and, I don't know, something about Robin Williams, who, by the way, is not in this, though his name is mentioned in conjunction with Sasquatch.

Fact, Neither Fun, Truthful or About the Film God Bless America: Following the tragic death of Robin Williams, I actually moved up on the official Hairiest Man on the Planet list.  I'm now at #2, just behind the aforementioned Sasquatch.  I'm kind of a big deal.

The viewing experience: My guess is that when Goldthwait sat down to write the script for God Bless America, he set up a solid base of soap boxes on which to place his writing desk, then using a stack of three soap boxes instead of a chair, commenced writing.

That being said, I enjoyed God Bless America on some levels.  Goldthwait, via Joel Murray as Frank, is not wrong: most, if not all, of the young ladies who appeared on Mtv's My Super Sweet Sixteen deserve our nation's unending scorn; people who talk or use their cell phones in a movie theater deserve nothing good in their lives; and people who can't simply be kind and courteous to their fellow man are complete wastes of space, air and precious, precious resources.  But he's preaching to the choir, and, hey, sometimes, as a choir member, I appreciate that, but I guess I'd rather just listen to Bobcat talk about this stuff in his next stand-up special.  

Title: John Dies at the End (2013)

Why did I watch this?: I've been meaning to watch this for a long time.

The viewing experience: It was awesome.  I mean, I wish I could say more.  This movie is right up my cornhole, I mean, right there in the creamy center of my warm, supple cornhole.  And, I guess, it's kind of a horror-comedy, so, maybe I'm a little more into them than I thought.  Oh, well.  It wouldn't be me if I wasn't constantly contradicting myself.

Short Plot Synopsis: Ho, boy!  This is gonna be tough.  I can do this, I can do this.  Let's see what the synopsis wizards over at Netflix came up with:

"Promising a trip that transcends time and space, a drug called Soy Sauce is sweeping the landscape -- and quietly robbing users of their humanity."

Hmmm.  I mean, I guess.  You should probably just watch it.  I'll say this, I'm 100% in if Coscarelli wants to make countless sequels with these two characters.  They are a delight.  Oh, maybe a TV series!  

Recommendation: I watched a movie right before deciding to bring Last 3 Movies back called Odd Thomas that I liked a lot.  It kind of reminds me of a more mainstream version John Dies at the End mixed with a dash of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and a sprinkle of Constantine.  Also worth checking out.

Read the rest of this article.