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Sunday, January 31, 2016

#DLMChallenge: January Update

At the top of 2016, I think I may have mentioned that I wasn't going to share any of my 'new year resolutions' on the blog, because if I did, I probably wouldn't 'do' any of them.  That remains mostly true, but I thought I would share with you my most arbitrary resolution, a project/challenge I've decided to take on that will neither benefit myself in any tangible, meaningful way or society at large.  That's right, I've decided to watch movies.  Lots of them.  366 of them, to be exact.  And all of them before the stroke of 12:01 AM, January 1, 2017.

It's called the DLM (as in Doug Loves Movies, as in the podcast in which stand-up comedian Doug Benson discusses films and plays movie-related games with his funny friends) Challenge, and it is a commitment--like staying sober or Christianity--to watching 366 movies in 2016.  I thought I'd track my progress on GEP.  You'll notice I'm way behind, and that's because I started late.  But I'll make up the time.  It's not like it's one of those Movie-A-Day commitments.  Those people are crazy!  A movie a day?!?  Who has the time?!?  I'd rather just use the weekend to lock myself in a room, ignoring both my family and the gnawing hunger for food, and watch a buttload of movies back-to-back, sanity be damned.

Of course, I'm not doing it that way (I'm not a liberty to tell you here, in a public forum, how I intend to pull this off, so don't even ask!!!), but I will be trying my hardest to make Doug Benson--who will most likely never know I'm doing this--proud.

Anyway, here's what I've watched so far.  OH!  Almost forgot.  Please recommend movies to me, either by writing to the e-mail above or sending me a note on Facebook (not on Twitter anymore--don't want to talk about it).  A lot of the movies on the list right now we're recommended by a friend, and he's been killing it, so try to keep up.  Also, I'm mostly trying to watch movies I've never seen, however, that won't always be the case (for example, I've seen #4 on this list A LOT, and even more since my daughter was born).  And if you can think of a way I can help a charity or something with this, let me know.  I can't stress how pointless this endeavor truly is.

1. Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens
That's right, nerds, I waited until MLK Day to see it for the first time, and I've only seen it once!  Whoa.  I just felt a great disturbance in the Force.  Like millions of dorks gripping their chests in shocked disgust.  (In all seriousness, I loved it, and plan to see it again.  And again even)

2. Slow Learners
An indie trifle, but I enjoyed it from beginning to end.  Very funny.  Sarah Burns and Adam Pally are hilarious.  I don't know if it's required viewing, but if you like funny people saying hilarious things and/or indie rom-coms that are both witty and entertaining, you might want to check it out.  I guess you could call it "required viewing."

3. The Overnight
Considering the subject matter, The Overnight is an extremely charming movie.  Another indie trifle, but another amazingly funny cast.  And, yes, those are paintings of buttholes.  

4. Alice in Wonderland (1951) 
No matter how sophisticated Disney animated features become, Alice in Wonderland will always be my favorite.  After we got back from our family trip to Walt Disney World earlier this month, I wanted to binge on Disney flicks.  So far, Alice in Wonderland is all we've had time for.  This was Quinn and I's third time watching it together.  We kept alerting each other when our favorite parts happened or when they were about to happen.  Sometimes Q would look at me and say, "You love this part, Dad," and I'd do the same with her.  Watching Alice in Wonderland will definitely go down as one of the defining moments in my relationship with my daughter.  Excuse me for a moment.  I seem to have gotten something in my eye.

5. The Weather Man
1 hour and 41 minutes of rich white people problems.  Ugh.  Plus, who would want Nicolas Cage as their local weatherman?  He's such a sad sack creep, and it is only amplified by his fakey weatherman banter.  He does call someone a "pork fuck" though.  That was a first for me.

6. Spanish Lake
I think the poster says it all.  A pretty good doc.  I've never seen people so proud to be from a specific neighborhood.  That was a little weird.

7. We Need To Talk About Kevin
I feel like this movie appears on a lot of 10 Movies You Only Need to See Once In Your Life lists that pop up on pop culture blogs every once in awhile.  I hate those lists.  Requiem for a Dream is always on those lists, and I love that movie.  Sure, it's a brutal watch, but there's beauty in its brutality.  It makes you feel, forces you to feel.  Same with We Need To Talk About Kevin.  This is some brutal stuff, man.  But I can't imagine going my whole life never immersing myself in Tilda Swinton's performance again.  She's amazing in this thing.  (Full disclosure: I've been sitting here trying to come up with a better word than amazing.  Transcendent?  That works.)  I think the titular Kevin is played a little overly quippy, and while it's fun to see John C Riley as Kevin's dad, he's more of a distraction than anything else.  The film belong to Tilda Swinton though, and and she kills it.

8. Meet the Patels
An endlessly charming documentary!  I adored it.

9. The Brothers Solomon
So, OK, Richard Roeper famously walked out of a screening of The Brothers Solomon, presumably because it is so awful.  I read that before my viewing of the film, and although I like everybody involved in the film, I kept my eyes peeled for the moment, be it a scene or a performance or a single joke, that pushed Roeper over the edge.  I couldn't see it.  The Brothers Solomon is way dumb, but I don't think it is striving for anything more.  I laughed a lot.  It kind of reminds me of films like Hot Rod or MacGruber--largely ignored little comedies that have a culty fan base of weirdos that love it.  I'm one of those weirdos for Hot Rod.  I'm not going to be the one who spearheads this Brothers Solomon cult, because, frankly, I like those other two films I mentioned better, but I'm in support of it.

10. The Monster Squad
It is my understanding that people love The Monster Squad.  I thought it sucked.

11. Kids for Cash
Another great doc I watched this month.  This one is about a corrupt judge who ruined a bunch of teenagers' lives in Pennsylvania.  I think that lady's face says it all. (In all seriousness, her story is one of the saddest that appears in the film.)

12. The Revenant 

With The Revenant, Leonardo DiCaprio has finally grunted and crawled his way to Oscar gold.  I liked The Revenant a lot, and I actually have a bunch to say about it, but I'll save that for a future post.  For now I'll say it is beautifully shot, features some stunning one-take scenes (there are some multiple-take scenes that are pretty stunning as well), and feels every bit it's 2 hour and 36 minute running time (i.e. it's looooooooooong).

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

100 Songs I Hate (47)

47. "The Motown Song" (Rod Stewart)

If you are right now roughly my age (let's call it "late-30's"), you probably remember this:

If you don't remember Rod Stewart's video for "The Motown Song," you probably didn't have cable growing up, which means you probably didn't--well, because you couldn't--obsessively  watch Mtv, because if you had had a direct portal to the musical landscape of 1991, like I did, you would've seen this thing, roughly, 33,000 times a day.  Just so we're clear: I'm not making fun of you if you didn't have cable; you are the winner in this situation.

But why, you might be asking, is "The Motown Song (one of the laziest song titles in the history of music) in my head this fine, snowed-in Sunday morning?  Well, it all started with a conversation I had at work last week.  A colleague used the word "waiting," like you do, in an instant message to me, and being the office cut-up I'm known to be, I thought it would be funny to reference the Tom Petty song about how waiting is difficult, but then comically mix up Petty with the recently deceased Glenn Frey, you know, for laughs.  So, I think I wrote something like, "Well, it's like my good friend Glenn Frey always said, waiting is the hardest part."  Hilarious.  

(Real quick.  I know the above is not funny.  It did happen though.  Look, I don't know if comparing the songs of Tom Petty and Glenn Frey even makes sense.  You could put a gun to my head and demand that I name 5 Glenn Frey songs, and I'd be nothing but splattered brains on the wall within milliseconds.  I don't know Glenn Frey or the even the Eagles, you guys, OK, and I'm fine with that.  I'm just building a bridge.)

Anyway, this led to a discussion of people's reactions to Frey on Facebook (my colleague is not a FB user), specifically if people were displaying the same over-the-top declarations of sadness, love and devotion they had to David Bowie a week or two before, and then the question of Rod Stewart's continued existence.

Just seeing Rod Stewart's name in print flipped a forgotten, cobwebby switch in the deepest reaches of my brain, and then, from out of my mouth, without warning, came the following:

"Bring over some of your old Motown records.  Put the speakers in the hmmm-hmmmm-mmm-mmm-mmmmmmm."

"The Motown Song" was back, baby, summoned from the dimmest lit corner of my 90's Vault of Memories.  I've been sing/humming those lines ever since, to the chagrin of my wife, who has many times threatened to hurt me physically if I don't stop.

How does one exorcise a demonic entity of such strength?  I think revisiting the song and griping about it, and more importantly its video, on my blog is the best hope for ridding my home of this ancient evil.  So, let's do it.  Let's take a look at this bitch.

The nicest thing I can say about "The Motown Song" is that it's got a helluva chorus, in fact, that's the only thing it's got going for it.  The verses are about as interesting as the song title itself, something about a "soul in the city" that is "watching over" everybody.  What is he talking about it?  Is it a reference to soul music?  I think so, probably, but it seems more ominous.  Or Christian.  It seems both ominous and vaguely religious at the same time, although, I find most things related to religion to be a bit ominous, so maybe it's the same thing.  Whatever it is, it sucks.  That chorus though.  It's as catchy as The Stand's super flu. That's probably why it continues to survive in my memories, like a pulsing tumor of terrible that even the most sophisticated drug treatments can't eradicate.  

I'm more interested in talking about the video, specifically Rod Stewart's animated canine companion.  What's his deal?  To some, he may simply be the video's comic relief.  But he could just as easily symbolize the video director's, or, say it ain't so, Rod Stewart's view of his contemporaries.  If the latter is true, well, I'm not sure "The Motown Song" or "The Motown Song" video was the giant killer Rod thinks it is.

Elton John gets off easy--he just kinda looks weird.  But Madonna, Sinead O'Connor, Vanilla Ice and The King Of Pop don't fare so well.

First, Stewart's dog pummels/drowns Vanilla Ice in an avalanche of ice cubes.  For you millennials who aren't familiar with Vanilla, a musical artist who in at least one song discussed the joys of having sexual intercourse in an inner tube, imagine instead that the dog has opened the back of a Salvation Army truck and smothered Macklemore in a mountain of faux fur coats.  It's the same thing: two Caucasian rappers murdered by a cartoon dog using the very items they are famous for popularizing: ice and thrift store clothes, respectively.

The dog also spooks Sinead O'Connor while she's shaving her head. leading to a domeful of cuts and Band-Aids, and slams Madonna's coat in a limo door (oooooh, scandalous), but I want to get to the Michael Jackson part.  There's no way Cartoon Michael Jackson makes it out of this video alive, right?  I mean, he moonwalks into an open sewer hole, opened, I should add, by Rod Stewart's homicidal pooch.  What is Stewart getting at here?  Is he really taking on Michael Jackson in the video for "The Motown Song?"  Does Rod Stewart really think "The Motown Song" comes anywhere close to toppling even the worst of Michael Jackson's oeuvre from the pantheon of pop songs?  True, "The Motown Song" went #1 on the Canadian Billboard charts, but c'mon!  (To be fair, it was a top 10 hit in the US too, I just find it more amusing to poke fun at Canada.  I do it out of love.).  And I'm fully willing to accept that Rod Stewart has some good songs--I don't know of any off the top of my head because I've listened to as much of them as I have of Glenn Frey's--but Jackson is an institution.  A creepy, weirdo institution.

So, thats "The Motown Song," a phantom from my childhood that still haunts the darkest reaches of my brain.  I'll be honest, I don't know if "hate" is the right word here.  "The Motown Song" certainly fits conveniently under the 100 Songs I Hate banner, as my feelings toward it mostly resemble hate.  But the Bible says hating something is akin to wanting it to die or wanting to kill it with your bare hands, and I don't want to murder "The Motown Song."  It's a fun reference.  It's a quick and easy way to annoy my wife when I'm in one of those Time-To-Annoy-The-Wife kinda moods.  But I'm also OK with forgetting about "The Motown Song" for awhile, filing it back in the memory drawer I rarely visit anymore, to unlock only when the next beloved musician I have no working knowledge of passes away.  Or when, God forbid, Rod Stewart kicks it.  Until then though, why doesn't everybody just keep your old Motown records at home and keep your speakers pointed inside, OK?  Thanks.  There are people trying to sleep in here.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Food Newz: The First New Feature of 2016!!!

Welcome to Giant Electric Penguin's newest feature Food Newz, your source for all the latest news and views on or relating to food.


Have you seen the latest Nature Valley commercial?
"We get it," the perky narrator intones following scene after scene of fed up young people whacking Nature Valley-brand granola bars with sticks, golf clubs, bowling balls and even their own foreheads, in a vain attempt to soften said bar enough to choke down their gullets.  "The crunchy bar was too hard."  The new Nature Valley Crunchy Bar though, while still crunchy, is now "easier to bite into."  Thanks, Nature Valley...only...hang on a second...

Unless your teeth were made of spun sugar or construction paper, I'm not sure there were a lot of people having trouble taking a bite out of the Nature Valley granola bars of old (i.e. 2015).  Maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe scores of Americans were contacting the Nature Valley call center, griping through mouthfuls of broken teeth, their jaws bruised and throbbing, their gums bleeding profusely from gaping puncture wounds caused by razor-sharp granola shards, begging through hot, salty tears for a softer product.  "There's got to be a better way," the Nature Valley PR team cried, and, so, easier to chew granola bars.

In my opinion, Nature Valley granola bars are the best bars in the game, and any change to them is totally unwelcome.  If you've reached a point in your life where your teeth are too soft and pliable to chew up a granola bar, maybe it's time to graduate to a softer snack-time alternative, like apple sauce or a washrag soaked in lemonade.  I'll hold off making my final judgment until I try one of these new-recipe crunchy bars for myself, but for now, I'm giving Nature Valley a thumbs down accompanied by a hilarious fart noise.


I don't know if you heard this shocking news story yet, but apparently there is a video online that shows Pizza Hut employees smoking weed at work!!!  The horror!!!

Maybe it's just me, but I assumed this was going on all the time already anyway.  In fact, if you are right this very minute finding yourself shocked by this totally non-shocking story, you probably don't get out very much.  Or maybe you don't patronize eating establishments like Pizza Hut because you find the crust too hard for your eggshell teeth.

I'm fairly certain every time I visit my local Taco Bell--be it 4:21 in the afternoon or 10:30 AM--at least 95% of the staff is high out of their gourds.  And I wouldn't want it any other way.  Who better understands shitty fast food than the pot enthusiast?  If you said, "probably only fat guys," you're right.  Wasted fast food employees and fast food feasting fat guys (i.e. me and my heavy-breathing brethren) are a match made in greasy Heaven.  You probably shouldn't post videos online of yourself taking hits from a bong at work, especially if you plan to pursue different varieties of employment later in life, but go ahead and get high if you find yourself in your mid-20's sweating your balls off next to a Pizza Hut pizza oven.  I mean, why not, right?


...this is gross.  Or is it delicious?  I can't decide.  The first bite is reminiscent of shoving crispy, horseradish-dusted vomit into your mouth...I mean, probably...I've never actually done that...heh, heh.  Then, as you continue to shovel it into your mouth as if it's the cure for baldness, something clicks and you actually start enjoying the flavor.  You can't find the steak really, but the hint of horseradish is nice.  But then you start to question yourself: Do I really like this or am I just in berserker snack mode?  Is this small, 30-cent bag my wife purchased for me on a whim enough or do I need a bigger bag, an economy-sized bag from, say, BJ's or some such place?  Is this the worst flavored popcorn I've ever had or is this the only popcorn I ever want to eat from now on?  I just don't know.  Stay tuned for further updates.

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Sunday, January 3, 2016

The first post of 2016!!!

Happy New Year, GEP readers!  Can you believe it's 2016 already?  Boy, did 2015 just fly by or what?  It feels like only yesterday I was hastily throwing together a list of "new year resolutions" for 2015, and now, here I sit--fatter, novel-less, still not a trained pilot--ready to compile a new list of soon-to-be-broken promises to myself.  Wow!

First post of 2016.  Let's make this good.  This is the post that's gonna win everybody back/pull in a whole bunch of new readers.  Hmmmmmmmm.  What to write, what to write.  Oh, hashtags!  People love hashtags!  Gotta do some good ones though, ones that'll bring people to the site in droves.  Here we go:  #StarWars #TrumpSux #CancelTheDuggarsAgain #MysteryDinersIsStillFake #AngerBirdsMovie #tbt #mcm #DudeFood.  That should work.

Let's talk resolutions real quick.  I'm not making any "official" resolutions this year.  Why?  Well, when I acknowledge something, say a story idea I think I might enjoy writing down for people who do not possess the ability to read my mind to read or new year resolutions, by physically writing them down or sharing them with friends, family and co-workers, I tend not to follow through on them.  So, I'm keeping the handful of resolutions I've made, to use a common cliche I don't understand, close to the vest this year.  I will share one though, because I've already achieved it.  IN 2016, I RESOLVE TO RETURN MY LIBRARY BOOKS TO THE LIBRARY ON TIME, EVERY TIME.  At the conclusion of 2015, I (i.e. my wife) paid off all of my late fees, or, rather, the ten dollars required to wipe the actual total debt amount (in my case a whopping fifty dollars...yep, I suck) out of existence forever.  I have no desire to build up that kind of debt at the library ever again, so in 2016, my books are going back on time.  You hear that, librarians?  I'm not the problem anymore.
One happy librarian!
I should start wrapping this up, but, geez, is it boring.  How am I going to bring in new readers with this?  Maybe I could reveal a deep, dark family secret or describe a sex dream I had about a certain television actress we all know and love that I had last night.  Oh, I could recount my last visit to the dentist!  That always gets tons of hits!  You know what?  I'm going to solve a mystery.  That's what I'm going to do all right: find a mystery and solve it, right here, right now.

OK.  A mystery.  Hmm.  A mystery.  Let's see...  Loch Ness?  No, that's been done.  A mystery, a mystery...building a mystery.  Oh, Jack the Ripper maybe.  Nah.  I need to eat breakfast.  Breakfast mysteries...are there any breakfast mysteries...?  Oh, I've got it!

My placemat has this on it:
If you find yourself unable to read the above headline, it says: Katrina Lee sues over 'sucked mango.' Now I think we can all agree that this is a strange thing to print on a placement.  The full placemat features the names of several large cities around the world, cities that one could comfortably describe as tourist destinations as well as centers of industry and influence.  Peppered amongst these names and old-timey photos of iconic buildings, are headlines from around the world, including this one about a woman suing, presumably, another person, over a 'sucked mango.'  I've always wondered, while eating my breakfast/lunch/pre-dinner snack/dinner/after dinner snack/4th meal/post-4th meal snack-a-palooza, "What the hell does this mean?"  Did Ms. Lee buy a mango from her local grocery mart, take it home, prepare to eat it for her breakfast/lunch/pre-dinner snack/dinner/after dinner snack/4th meal/etc., and find that it had been sucked dry.  And how did she know it had been sucked on?  Were there teeth marks?  Was this a Bunnicula situation only with a vampiric pet who prefers fruits to veggies?  A vampiric baby chimp perhaps?

Turns out, it has nothing to do with vampire animals at all!  I know, disappointing.  It's actually a story out of Sydney, Australia, about a TV newswoman, named Katrina Lee, who sued a radio station for comparing her appearance to a "half-sucked mango" during a gossip segment.  Radio announcer, Peter Rudder, also claimed in the offending segment that he had seen "a little cockroach crawl up her face from her nostril into her hair," thus completing the picture of what a completely disgusting piece of garbage Ms. Lee is. 

So, there you have it.  Mystery solved!  I guess there is still the mystery of why the hell someone would choose this particular headline for a line of placemats, but I've written enough for now, and, like I said, I haven't had breakfast yet.  2016 is going to be great here at Giant Electric Penguin...don't let this first post fool you.  Last year I posted a total of 21 times.  That is unacceptable, and quite frankly, insulting to the handful of people who continue to support this endeavor, whatever the hell it is.  2016 will have double the amount of posts!  Guaranteed!

OK.  I'm done.  Happy New Year.

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