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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

I Got the Hell Out of Bed This Morning for This?!

Where we believe that no good tangent should go unpublished.

Well, this never goes well, but…

I don’t really have a topic today. I tried to think of something particularly juicy for you folks, but there’s really nothing much going on here today. Except the weather, maybe, if you can call drippy, soaked, and unnaturally sticky ‘juicy’. I mean, I know that porno directors can, but I’m not sure whether you can. Maybe you can; I don’t know. That’s all I’m saying.

So, anyway, my life was rather mundane today, in a time-slows-to-a-frickin’-crawl kind of way. I did some laundry. I poked around on the computer. An electrician came by to look at some work we might have done. Ho-diddly-hum. This is not your father’s High Life, boys and girls. About the most exciting thing I did today was to check, for the very firstest time, what the TiVo had taped for us overnight.

On the other hand, what it had taped were four exercise shows for my wife and an episode of the Simpsons that I’d already seen. So even that was kind of a downer. (Which is not to say that I didn’t watch the Simpsons episode, of course. You can never get enough of that shit.) And I fiddled with my new toy TiVo some more, and should soon have all sorts of goodness, both animated (Simpsons, South Park, Family Guy, Powerpuff Girls… no, really, it’s cool. Fine, you want something manlier? How about the new Ren and Stimpy on SpikeTV? Good enough fer ya, Mr. Spootypants?) and otherwise (Comedy Central Presents, Faking It, Comic Remix, Third Rock from the Sun, Drew Carey, and more).

Yes, folks, it’s all about the hilarity here at Chez Charlie.

Well, hilarity and a muscle-bound steroid monkey fondling two scantily-clad boob models in the name of fitness, if the overnight tapings are any indication. Man, pimply pubescent teenage boys never had it so good. There’s pictures of hot naked chicks slathered all over the ‘net, eighty-three movie channels pumping out ‘brief nudity’ faster than you can slam your thumb on the pause button, and the ‘exercise’ shows these days? Soft frickin’ porn. That’s all they are. They’re skin flicks, with better plots and (marginally) fewer money shots. Man, where the hell was this shit when I was sixteen? We had Richard ‘I’ve Got Kneepads and I Know How to Use Them’ Simmons leading wrinkly old people through the motions when I was growing up. Where’s the love in that? If I wanted some action, I had to do that cross-eyes stereogram stare at the scrambled Playboy channel, and just pray that I could catch sight of a grainy, distorted nipple before my dad came in to watch golf, or Hart to Hart.

(Okay, my dad was actually more of a Columbo fan. I’m trying to spice the post up a little, all right?)

So, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah, the TiVo. As usual.

Despite my disappointment this morning — it was like waking up on Christmas and getting socks from every damned loser in your family, by the way… just so we understand each other here — my new little friend has already enriched my life. It found me a showing of one of my favorite movies, The Fifth Element. Well, actually, it found me three showings, but mercifully didn’t tape them all. On the other hand, I caught parts of all three showings — did I mention that there was precious little to do around here today? Or at least, that I got precious little done? I did? Good.

So, anyway, the movie’s a few years old, so I won’t bore you with describing it or reviewing it or talking about the dental floss that they made Milla Jovovich wear through most of the film.

(I may think about it, just a little, while I write, but I won’t actually mention it again, ‘k? Mmmmm… dental floss…)

Um, moving on — I presume that if you were ever interested in seeing the movie, then you’ve already done so. I was so inclined myself, and I’ve seen it more than a couple of times. It’s a big HBO favorite, apparently. But if I’m not going to bore you with details of the movie, then what, pray tell, am I going to bore you with? Well, I’m glad you asked.

You see, there’s just one thing that bugs me about The Fifth Element, and I can’t seem to get over it. I hate to be picky about movies, but it seems to have crept into my brain in my old age. (I fully expect to get the hair-growing-out-of-the-ears thing soon; I think that’s the next step.) Anyway, I just can’t seem to enjoy a movie if there’s any logical flaw or glaring issue of any kind. I’ll give you a recent example: Minority Report.

Okay, so I should mention that I don’t actually go to a lot of movies. You know, out there, in the theater. Something about I’m not supposed to mingle with ‘normal’ people, and my face scaring children away. Or something. Who the hell knows? Anyway, I don’t end up going to the theater very often. So when I say that Minority Report is a ‘recent example’, I really mean it. I saw it last week for the first time. So if it was made before you were friggin’ born, just bear with me, all right? I’m doin’ the best I can over here.

So, anyway, to make a short example nearly infinitely longer, I saw the movie. And, as with the other one, it was on HBO. I’m like a freakin’ HBO commercial tonight. I should get a guest spot on the Sopranos for this. I’ll be Charlie Bag o’ Donuts. It’ll be fun. No, really. I could get caught in a crossfire and hurl myself through a plate-glass window to die. It’ll be neat. All the cool kids are doing it.

All right, let’s try that again… Minority Report. Watched it. Thought I enjoyed it. Thought. For about an hour, when it hit me — ‘Hey, that chick he was dragging around with him for the last half hour of the movie was in that wading pool thingy for, like, seven years. And then she’s walking within a few minutes of being out?

As the ancient Sumerians were fond of saying, ‘Phhhfffttt.‘ I don’t think so. I’m willing to give in on all the futuristical-type mumbo-jumbo — the precogs, and the highways fashioned after Slip ‘N’ Slides, and the outpatient backroom eye transplants, and all of that. Fine. You can have all of that. Just give me some reason — some miracle injection or 25th century magic potion, I don’t care — as to why, and even better, how, this chick could even hold her head upright after all that time, much less cavort around trying to solve a mystery. Really, please. I’m begging you. Give me something to work with, because the movie’s just ruined to me without it.

There are plenty of other examples of sloppy, shoddy screenplay out there. Otherwise perfectly good, entertaining films with that one damned loose end or physical impossibility that needles you like a poke in the ribs until you never, ever want to see the movie ever again. Or at least the offending scene. You want more? Oh, I’ll give you more:

Die Hard: I like this movie, actually. I think it’s one of those cases where the original is still the best, though the sequels haven’t been quite as coma-inducingly awful as with something like, say, Fletch. Or Caddyshack. But that’s going even further back in time, so I’ll stick to this example for now. (Don’t want any of you young whippersnappers to wander off in the middle of a rant, now, do I?)

Anyway, the biggest problem I had with Die Hard was not the hero’s series of narrow but oh-so-unlikely escapes. No, I’m down with that. It’s an action movie; of course he’s going to get away and save the day. But right at the very end, with a cadre of trigger-happy cops standing around all jittery after hours of bullets and explosions and fire and every damned thing but locusts raining down on their heads, do you really think that limo is just going to careen out of the parking garage and get all the way to Bruce, so he can say, ‘It’s okay. He’s with me.’? Really, now, tell me. Don’t hold back. They’ve gotten all worked up because the Twinkie Man just killed a terrorist-in-disguise, and then they’re gonna let a tinted-windowed limo cruise on out of there? Um, no. That car would be holier than Pope Peter the Particularly Pious before it got up the ramp. Think about it.

Major League: Great movie. (And another series of shitty, shitty sequels. How the hell does that happen?)

I’m a huge baseball fan, and a comedy buff, so I love this movie. Well… almost. Two of the most climactic scenes are ruined for me, because they don’t make any damned sense, when they so easily could have. First, when Cerrano hits his big home run after Jobu fails him, he carries hit bat with him around the bases. No doubt the decision was made based on its cinematic flair, but it’s completely against the rules. He’d have been called out before he stepped on first base. Couldn’t he have just dropped the bat and showboated around the bases like an oversized Carribbean Deion Sanders? Wouldn’t that have been enough, folks?

Secondly, on the last play at the end of the movie, Willie Mays Hayes takes off from second with the pitch, and scores on Taylor’s bunt. That’s fine — it’s a great, gutsy play that no real manager would have the balls to call, but fine — I’m willing to roll with it. But the thing is, the play was called on the pitch before, when Jake gets brushed back and knocked down in the batters’ box. Now, if we’re to believe that the same play was on — and it was, from everything you see onscreen — then Hayes should have been off like a shot on that pitch, too. Except he wasn’t. And it just doesn’t make any damned sense. Bah.

There are dozens more, but I’m getting sleepy. (How’s that for truth in journalism, kiddies?) There’s always something, or so it seems, that pops up to ruin an otherwise entertaining experience. Like a zit on prom night, or Gilbert Gottfried on a comedy special. Maybe that’s why I generally like movies where I’m asked to depend on excruciatingly little of the laws and rules in the ‘real world’ to still hold. Like The Matrix, or Heathers, or The Princess Bride, or — I would have thought — The Fifth Element. And actually, I’m fine with the plot. It ain’t Shakespeare, but who am I to talk? As far as I can tell, the action makes sense for the world they came up with, so I’m happy enough there.

No, for me in this movie, it’s the President that bugs the shit out of me. Look, the rest of the acting isn’t perfect or anything. It’s a little hammy, and sort of over-the-top, as any tongue-in-cheek action sci-fi adventure should be. But the President — man, that guy sucked. Or he was going for some sort of wooden, emotionless, emulating-reading-from-a-cue-card angle for his character that I just didn’t get. Because the scenes with him are absolutely distracting in their annoyingness.

(Annoyitude? Annoyitatiousness? Whatever. You get it.)

Christ, Pinocchio could have delivered those lines more believably, and I’m talking about Pinocchio before the miracle, and without Geppetto’s hand up his ass to make his lips move. Truly. The guy just sucked. I can only guess that he has naked pictures of Luc Besson doing something really embarrassing, or they’d have thrown him off the set and replaced him with another actor. Or a couch, or lamppost, or something. Man, I get worked up just thinking about it. Ugh.

So, I think that’s about enough. You’ve been a trooper; really, you have. I don’t know quite what the hell got accomplished here, but all the excitement will help me sleep, I think. Maybe I’ll dream of a perfect world, where movies are always exciting and innovative, with coherent plots and no loose ends. And where the lines pour forth from the players’ mouths like sweet, sweet music. And then, of course, Mr. President of the Galaxy dude will show up and deadpan through some stupid monologue to ruin it. Or patients in traction will hop up from their beds and do Irish jigs and tumble cartwheels down the hallway. It’s always friggin’ something, people. Even in my dreams, they can’t get it right. Movie-ruining bastards!

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