Monday, December 30, 2013

Swing Your Balls. Because It's Tradition.

Baby New Year got an early start.

     When I initially sat down to write this post, I was going to offer up some personal reflections from 2013, along with my hopes and desires for the coming new year. Because that's what you do at the end of the year. The problem is, it's late, and I'm tired. And sober. (Don't act so fucking shocked.) Plus, I just spent the last hour or so looking at New Year's traditions from around the world, and I have to share them, because they are funny and weird and awesome. I intend to practice every single one of these traditions by January 1st, because I am a person who believes in covering his bases. And by "covering his bases" I mean "covering his ass." Let's start with the good ol' USA:

     The tradition of eating black-eyed peas at the new year originated in the South around the time of the Civil War, which very likely explains why they lost. It's super hard to run around and shoot a musket when you're so gassy. Nowadays eating black-eyed peas is supposed to bring luck, though probably not the kind that gets you laid on New Year's Day, Mister Farty McSkidmarks.

     Ah, the Motherland. Tradition holds in Ireland that banging loaves of bread against the walls of your home will drive out evil spirits for the new year. This custom tells you two immediate things about my people: 1) Never eat Irish bread, because that shit is hard enough to bang against a wall and scare demons; and 2) Every drunk Irishman joke you ever heard is probably true.

     I love Spain. Truly. They have great soccer and possibly the most awesome food on the planet. They also have a ridiculous custom whereby on New Year's Eve, at the stroke of midnight, everyone has twelve grapes in their hand. When the bells toll, the idea is to eat all twelve grapes before the bells finish, ensuring good luck for the coming twelve months. Which is completely ass-backward, when the same feat could be accomplished with a glass of wine, which Spain has in abundance, WHICH IS MADE FROM GRAPES, Spaniards. For God's sake, think it through.


     In Scotland, they parade through the streets on New Year's Eve, swinging enormous balls of fire over their heads. Probably while drunk. So if you're a guy and you're holding your little sparkler in the driveway tonight, remember something very important. You are a giant pussy.

     It's always important to start the new year off with a clean slate. In certain villages in Peru, they accomplish this on New Year's Day by having a "punch up." Basically, anybody with a grievance against anybody else calls them out, and while bands play and children run around with streamers, they take turns beating the shit out of each other. This is also a tradition in Ireland, except over there it's called "Most Nights at the Pub."

     Finally, in Thailand the new year is celebrated with the Songkran Water festival. The dousing of someone with water is supposed to be a blessing for the coming year. I don't know if that works, but what I do know is that Thailand has managed to turn a New Year's tradition into the biggest wet t-shirt contest in the history of the world. Well played, Thailand.

     Whatever traditions you have, I hope 2014 is good to you. If you need me, I'll be right here, making shit up. Somebody hand me a loaf of bread. I got some demons to scare. 

     Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Famous People Like Christmas Specials, Too.

   And THAT got us just excited as shit, didn't it, kids?

     Ah, holiday television. And holiday movies. And that crazy CBS bumper that told us we were about to see something SPECIAL. I think maybe the first boner I ever got was the first time that particular animation rolled across the family television screen. (But that might also have happened because one of my cute girl cousins was over. I'll never know for sure, but it was an exciting time.)

     But it seems it's not enough these days for us simple folk to reminisce about our favorite holiday shows and movies from childhood, or even adulthood. Because what's really important is what holiday shows and movies do FAMOUS people enjoy?  That's what we need to know: which specials are most watched by the paparazzi-hounded, misunderstood, oh-they're-just-like-us-except-for-their-money-and-fame-and-plastic-surgery crowd. Well, who am I to get in the way of what the culture demands? If you want to know what the famous are eating, or wearing, or watching, or screwing, it's your right as an American to have that information. I'm pretty sure it's in the Constitution, wedged in between your right to bear arms, and your right to publicly say the most dumbass things you can imagine, that have no basis in fact or truth or reason. 

     My issue with the celebrities that are being interviewed for these articles is that they are too accessible. They all have Facebook pages and Twitter and Instagram accounts, and they give you their opinions, anyway. Not for you, my faithful readers. I have gone out of my way to track down the hard-to-reach, never-grants-an-interview celebrities, the ones that are truly famous. These people are noteworthy for deeds, not words, but I got an exclusive quote from each one of them for this post. And it's all 100 percent true BECAUSE IT'S ON THE INTERNET. Here then, are some of history's most cherished icons, sharing with you the holiday movies and tv shows that make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside:

"When I was a kid, nothing could beat 'Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!' I actually learned to dance by imitating the scene in which all the characters are practicing for the Christmas play, while Schroeder plays his little toy piano. And the sight of Charlie Brown picking that lonely little tree to take home and decorate still brings a tear to my eye. I mean, it would. If  I were still alive." - Abraham Lincoln

"Definitely 'The Sound of Music.' And no, not because it's a Jewish thing. Julie Andrews was hot. Hell, even in Mary Poppins she was hot. Am I right?" - Albert Einstein

"I was a huge fan of all the Rankin-Bass produced claymation specials. 'Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,' 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town,' and my favorite had to be 'The Year Without a Santa Claus.' I know every word and note to the 'Snow Miser / Heat Miser Song.' In fact, I used to open all my speeches with it, just to loosen the crowds up. Those were good times. - Mahatma Gandhi

"Well, I'm a bit sentimental, so I suppose 'It's A Wonderful Life.' A lot of people assume I would be fond of  'The Stars Wars Christmas Special' from 1978. But to be quite frank, that was the worst piece of shit anybody ever had the balls to put on television. I felt like we owed the galaxy an apology after that." - Obi Wan Kenobi

"Polar Express, bitches!!!" - Marie Antoinette

"ELF. Because brightly colored tights are awesome, comfortable, and completely not gay." - The Justice League of America

          And there you have it. The last word on holiday specials from some of the greatest people the world has ever known, living, or dead, or completely made up. And all completely true, because you read it ONLINE. 

     Post your favorite holiday show or film in the Comments section. And Merry Christmas, y'all.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Seriously, I Almost Died (But Not Really).

     Yes. I know. It's been a week since my last post. Some of you were no doubt thinking that I'd gotten bored of the whole blog thing, or maybe I just got distracted, or possibly I was kidnapped by a cult, except when they found out I was broke AND on anti-depressants they dumped me on the side of the road, and I just this minute got to a computer so I could tell you that I'm late this week because I was kidnapped by a cult. Except I wasn't. It's worse than that.

     I got the flu.

Actual photo of me with the flu.

     At least, thats what the doctor says. Personally I think it's the Plague. I mean, I'm not breaking out in boils or anything, but I have a fever, chills, cough, and it feels like somebody worked me over with a brick bat. I blinked my eyes this morning, and it hurt. I have discovered the secret to six-pack abs at 47; you cough your way to a flat stomach. And that whole burning-up-one-minute-and-freezing-your-ass-off-the-next thing is just super. 

     I'm not asking for pity, or even sympathy. It's just that I rarely get sick, and when I do I don't handle it very well. I don't have enough experience. If I had gotten black-out drunk and woke up naked in a church during a funeral service... yeah, okay. I have experience with that. But the flu? 

     So this is going to be a short post, because I have to get up and hit the Alka Seltzer Cold and Cough again, which I am able to choke down only by pretending it's a fizzy cocktail. (Actually, I do kind of wonder what would happen if I dropped those tablets into some Scotch. Later, you guys. I'm about to try something that could make me very rich. Or kill me.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Commercials, Cars, and Pissing Off Walmart

     You know what's awesome about being awake at 4:30 in the morning? Nothing. At all. Even the quiet sucks at 4:30 in the morning.

     On the other hand, do you know what's great about eating breakfast at 5:30 in the morning? Yeah. Still nothing.

     Our shooting day started at 6:30AM. This was my view for most of the day:

I get to spend all day with a group of people staring at me through a windshield and judging me. And that big-ass light sunburned the right side of my face. It's as glamorous as you thought.

     At least I was inside the car. They had it mounted on a trailer, and the truck was towing us around to make it look like we were actually driving. (They won't let me drive for real, because the 1st Assistant Director is a friend of mine, and he knows better.) The temperature was below freezing when we started this morning. But these guys were thoughtful enough to actually start the car, and just let it idle on the trailer while we were shooting. For legal reasons, I'm not supposed to tell you what kind of car we were filming in, but its initials are FORD FUSION. With seat-warmers, y'all. Which may be the greatest automotive invention since ever. Those poor guys were freezing their butts off, and within an hour I had a profound case of swamp-ass. 

See the guy with the overgrown pubic hair on his head? That's our director, Murray. He's wearing that shit PROUDLY, you guys.

     Anyway, when you're doing a shot of this kind, you need to block off a pretty good stretch of road to film on. Which means you need police escorts to block off both ends of the road. I'm pretty sure we had every cop on in Sealy (3) on set today. It kind of made me feel important; like the president, except not being black and everybody hating my guts. (If you don't laugh at that, you're probably racist.) So we find this long stretch of a Farm-To-Market road, and we start shooting, and after a little bit I realize that we're right in front of a Walmart Distribution Center, and they have rigs trying to get on that road every three seconds or so, and they are just happy as hell to have us out there, shooting our commercial and blocking everything off like we're making the next Jason Bourne film, the one where Bourne is middle-aged and clinically depressed and has to wear reading glasses. 

     At one point I tried to be friendly to a passing trucker. I didn't do the universal honk-your-air-horn move, because that is uncool. Instead, as he whizzed by us, I yelled out the window, "I Heart Walmart!" Except with the wind and the road noise I'm pretty sure it came out sounding like "I FART BALL TART!" Based on the look he gave me, I'm almost certain that's what he heard.

     I don't even know what a ball tart is.

    Tomorrow we're shooting at the actual gas station, which should be fun. Because the only thing harder than keeping Walmart trucks out of your shot is people.

     Stay tuned...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Suck It, Icepocalypse. I'm Going To... Sealy?

     In case you didn't know (or don't have a radio, or a television, or an internet, or a chatty neighbor), North Texas (where I live) is in the grip of a freak ice storm. And by "freak ice storm" I mean "this is normal weather for more than half the United States this time of year, but we're Texans and ice freaks us the shit out." I have literally been holed up for the last three days, not daring to venture out for fear that the ice is alive, and angry, and wants to eat me. Zombie Cannibal Ice; that's the kind of shit we're dealing with here, you guys.

     But tomorrow, come hell or high water or Zombie Cannibal Ice, I'm getting in the car and driving south. I'm shooting a commercial for an unnamed gas station chain.

Unnamed gas station chain.

     Now when I initially booked this spot, my agent told me it would be shooting in San Antonio, and I was all over that, because San Antonio kicks ass. Then I got a call from the production manager, and she told me that we weren't going to be shooting in San Antonio so much as we were going to be shooting in Sealy, Texas. And also that we weren't actually going to be anywhere near San Antonio. I suppose it's possible that my agent misunderstood, and actually thought the commercial would be shot in San Antonio. Except for the whole part where Sealy sounds NOTHING AT ALL like San Antonio. So the more likely explanation is that my agent lied to me. And, frankly, after I finally found Sealy on a map, I can't blame her. 

     The only thing I can tell you about Sealy, Texas, is that it's where the Sealy Mattress Company was started in 1881, back when they made mattresses out of cotton and Presbyterians. The census in 2010 was a little over 6,000, and I'm pretty sure all of those people are unaware they are allowed to leave, if they want to.

     So I'm packing the laptop and headed for Mattressville. I'll be reporting from location, so check back soon. And if you live in the Houston area, and you see a flare go up in the sky to the west, COME AND GET MY ASS, because things will have gone horribly wrong in Sealy, and I'll need an extraction. It's not like I'm asking you to bail me out of a Mexican jail.

     I totally might ask you to bail me out of a Mexican jail.

     Later, guys.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dear Jeff Bezos: Where's My Fu*king Flying Car?

WELL, Jeff? I'm waiting.

     If you never heard of Jeff Bezos before last week, I bet you know his name now. On Sunday, the CEO of unveiled his version of the Brave New World: little unmanned drones that will deliver five pounds or less of purchases from Amazon to your doorstep in thirty minutes. Now, the more cynical types in the blogosphere accused 60 Minutes, who broke the story, of playing right into the hands of the Amazon marketing geniuses, especially since Bezos admitted that the drones are actually years away from flying, AND the story aired on the eve of Cyber Monday. Those cynical types say that this was nothing more than a brilliantly executed PR stunt to boost Amazon's sales. And those cynical people, who have marketing and journalism degrees, and facial hair, are probably right. But they are missing the point:

     Jeff Bezos is actually GEORGE JETSON. He has come from the future in a flying car. And I want one.

     Okay, Jeff/George. Your secret is out. We're onto you. Thank you for coming back from the future. You've given us technology and gadgetry that make our lives way more interesting and fun, with the possible exception of Candy Crush Saga, which I think we all could have done without. But you're holding out on us, and this crazy idea of delivery drones is the smoking gun. 

     First of all, Jeff/George, allow me to briefly explain why hundreds of buzzing little delivery drones is a horrible idea. I shall confine my argument to my home state of Texas, where we have a vigorous belief in the Second Amendment. Almost everybody here is packing heat, and not everybody with a gun has the time or opportunity to get to the gun range or the skeet field on a regular basis. Now, with your wacko idea, they won't have to. All they'll have to do is order a $5.99 paperback book on Amazon, walk outside their front door, lock and load, and wait for your drone. They'll get a nice book AND a moving target, and then they will stuff your little drone and mount it over the fire place.

     Sounds crazy? Jeff/George, I have actual friends who are, at this very moment, counting the days to drone delivery. Because they have already created a drinking game called Drunk Drone Tag. The way it's played is, a group of friends begins drinking at three in the afternoon. About 5pm, they begin ordering stuff from Amazon every thirty minutes or so. With the firearm of their choice, they wait for the drones to approach. Whoever drops the drone first wins, and everybody else has to drink. (The winner drinks, too, because he or she is the winner, and should be allowed to drink if they want to. I didn't say it was a well-thought out game. But you see my point, yes?)

     Think of the carnage, Jeff/George: an American landscape littered with the metallic remains of thousands of flying drones. It'll be just like The Terminator, except hopefully without all the human skulls and giant, people-murdering robots. (Please tell me that's not the next technological innovation from Amazon; even I know it's not good business to murder your consumer.) And it's all so unnecessary, especially since it's obvious that the technology for these things is based on the flying car you arrived here in, THAT YOU ARE SELFISHLY KEEPING FROM THE REST OF US, JEFF/GEORGE. Instead of delivering to the American consumer that which we have been promised since the 1960s - a real, actual flying car, that makes that cool, futuristic motoring noise - you tease us with the 21st century equivalent of the Flying Monkey, which we are just going to shoot out of the sky anyway, because we are drunk and angry about no flying cars.

     Maybe you think we're not ready for flying cars, Jeff/George. Maybe you envision teenagers playing "Chicken" with their flying cars, or people who drink too much (not me, of course, but I'm told some people do that) crawling into their flying car after an evening bender. Maybe you have visions of "Air Rage," with angry flying car drivers literally trying to ground each other permanently. Perhaps all you can see in your mind's eye when you think about a world of flying cars is nothing but a perpetual rain of hot, twisted metal falling out of the sky. And you may very well be right.

     But this is America, Jeff/George. We live in a country where a man is free to write a blog post suggesting that the CEO of a Fortune 500 company is actually a futuristic cartoon character from an animated series that aired in the 1960s. And we live in a country where some guy with internet access and no common sense might read that blog and go, Hey, you know what? This guy may be on to something. In short, Jeff/George, we live in a country where the bullshit I have been writing is PLAUSIBLE. Yes, we're crazy. But we want our goddamned flying cars. So you can give us what we want, OR...

     Who's up for an afternoon of Drunk Drone Tag?