Celebrity Halloween – 2015 Academy Awards

NOTE: Click pics to embiggen.

Keira Knightley as…

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…your binder in the 90’s, where the lyrics of Sixpence None The Richer’s “Kiss Me” intertwined with doodles, hastily figured math problems, and a single drop of spilled Boone’s Farm from a sleepover at Becky’s.

Meryl Streep as…

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…that moment right after Mom has downed her fourth glass of Moscato, when she loudly proclaims that she’s going to start dressing classy again, like she did in the 70’s, when it was still shocking in certain circles to wear a pantsuit, but goddammit… sorry, don’t tell your father she swore, but GODDAMMIT… she looked GOOD in a pantsuit. Mr. Brodecker in Accounts Receivable certainly noticed. He’s passed away now, god bless him. There’s more wine right? Ah, we’re having fun…. it’s good to have you kids in the house again…

Channing Tatum as…

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…the inevitable path from prep schools, to a decent Midwestern university with a healthy fraternity scene, to a job at Dad’s investment banking concern, to twenty years later, when you find yourself on the boards of museums and hospitals, forced to attend gala functions, and wishing you had gotten serious about starting that Dave Matthews cover band, because, who knows, that really could have lead to something BIG.

Naomi Watts as…

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…a Pilates instructor whose idea of dressing for a night on the town is to literally dress LIKE the town, specifically the recently-refurbished cobblestone streets in the arts district.

Chrissy Teigen as…

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…the star of the USA Up All Night classic, Undercover Boner Cops.

Jared Leto as…

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…the guy you took to prom during your “reading and not really understanding a lot of philosophy books” phase, who you learned years later died in a fire at a head shop.

Dakota Johnson as…

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…a young actress who just wanted to be in the movies like Mom and Dad, but is now in waaaay over her head and is thinking very seriously about moving out to the desert or something where it’s less likely that people will ask her direct questions about spankings and ball gags.

Ansel Elgort as…

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…the main audience for the USA Up All Night classic, Undercover Boner Cops.

Marion Cotillard as…

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…one of those really nice pasta strainers from IKEA that you really can’t afford, but… you know… it’s just so European and neat looking!

Will.i.am as…

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…a forgotten character from Thomas the Tank Engine who was cut due to the lack of opportunities wherein the concepts of scientific hip hop could be worked into the adventures of assorted anthropomorphic trains.

Uninformed Oscar Picks

Golden Statuette

Up front, I will tell you that I have not seen any of the movies that are nominated for the Academy Awards this year. Well… I did see ONE, but… eh. It counts, but it doesn’t count. More on that later.

Now… this begs the question… why am I writing a post about the Oscars if I haven’t seen any of the movies, and am essentially flying blind with my picks? The simple answer is this: The Oscars are silly, and matter very little in the grand scheme of things, so… really… who cares?

On to my picks! 100% Accuracy guaranteed, in the sense that all of the names of movies and people are all spelled correctly.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into The Woods

I was originally going to say “you couldn’t pay me to see Into The Woods,” but that’s really not true. I’d see that for money. Not for like $20 or anything… probably not even for $50. But if you gave me a crisp, $100 bill… yeah, okay… I would sit through a bunch of celebrities pretending to be singing fairy tale jerks. Or whatever. But seriously though, Hollywood… I think we’ve done all we can do with big budget musicals. Les Miserables was kind of the top of that mountain. We all saw it, we all dreamed a collective dream… mostly involving Anne Hathaway’s whole, sad face chewing up emotions and spitting them out as songs… and it was fine. But we’re good now. Actually, personally, I would have been good if we stopped making musical movies after Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, but that’s me. Dolly Parton… if you’re reading this… you are my light… you are my life.

Anyway, my pick is… Emma Stone, maybe? People seem to like her. Let’s go with that.

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

I guess I need to get on that Whiplash tip, huh? The previews gave me a real Finding Forrester vibe, but apparently that’s not even close to being the case. Apparently it’s fantastic. I even read one article that said it was the best horror movie of the year, purely in terms of psychological torture. WHA HUH? So… I’m interested. Plus, I like J.K. Simmons anyway from the several thousand character roles he’s had over the years. He’s definitely due some sweet, sweet awards lovin’.

So I’ll say Simmons is going to win. Or Ed Norton. Maybe neither? Maybe there will be a surprise Best Supporting Actor coup. Insurgents will storm the stage, wrestling the trophy from the hands of the presenters, and they will lay it at the feet of Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. To be fair, he WAS the best teenage, mutant, ninja turtle on the big screen this year. So green and youthful and kicky.

YES, I know he’s technically not real. Neither is Mark Ruffalo. You thought The Hulk was the CGI part of his performance in The Avengers? Don’t be naive. Ruffalo is just ones and zeros. We’re through the looking glass, people.

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory Of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Man… two of these ladies, I can’t even picture their faces in my head when I read their names. That’s not a great sign. Rosamund Pike, who are you? And you… Felicity Jones… what’s your deal? I guess they’re both good at acting. Are they the BEST at acting from this year? To be determined.

My money’s on Reese Witherspoon, though. She’s spunky. Remember that movie Freeway? That movie was fucking crazy. Also, she was in Cruel Intentions, which I maintain is the best movie that 1999 had to offer. What won best picture that year? American Beauty? Yeah, ok, good movie, but what would you really rather watch in the long term…? Kevin Spacey getting boners over Mena Suvari, of all people (remember when she was like a thing… weird), or the sexy love triangle of Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Phillipe, and Sarah Michelle Geller?

Not even a contest. So… in conclusion… Cruel Intentions is going to win Best Picture at the Oscars!

Wait, that’s not right…

Best Actor
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory Of Everything

I would first like to state, for the record, that I do not care about Benedict Cumberbatch. At all. Haven’t seen Sherlock. Haven’t seen anything else he’s been in. I think he has a weird face. Very squinty. Kind of looks like he’s a third of the way through a wasting disease at all times. I just don’t see the appeal. But again, I’ve never actually seen him act. So I’m going on some pretty specious, shallow info here. Still though. He looks like an uptight peeled banana.

Moving on… It’s weird to see Steve Carell being serious. I mean, I assume it would be. Like I mentioned, I haven’t seen any of these movies. What am I even doing here??? Hahaha, I could be donating this time to charity. But I’m not going to because I don’t care about anyone or anything. I’m a monster, basically. A monster with a computer. #america

Anyway, my pick for Best Actor is the guy who was Sidney Bristow’s lame reporter friend on Alias, but is now somehow really famous.

Best Director
Alexandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Here’s a thing you probably don’t know about me: For about six months in 2000-2001, I worked as an intern for Richard Linklater’s production company, Detour Filmproduction. Specifically, I worked in the casting office. Doing… stuff. I think I was mostly tasked with going through head shots and making phone calls and… you know… stuff. I was overseen by two people… a man and woman… both of whose names I’ve forgotten… but they were both extremely nice to me, despite the fact that I was pretty terrible at being an intern. Like, I couldn’t even remember to get a receipt when I went on coffee runs. EVER. Not once did I remember to get a receipt. And they were SO cool about it.

I did get to meet Linklater a couple of times. Both times, he smelled the most like weed of any person I had up until that point smelled. Again, very nice. But really dank. And remember… this is in AUSTIN. To be the most weed-smelly person in Austin is a fucking accomplishment.

After about six months, I was told… in a Baskin-Robbins, if my memory serves me correctly… that my services would no longer be needed, and that my internship had come to an end. I kind of shrugged and went back to my full-time job of secretly consuming all of the alcohol that existed and, multitasking, also stockpiling breath mints so my friends wouldn’t know that I was constantly drunk. Ah, to be a man on the cusp of his 20’s! SO ALIVE. SO MUCH WASTED POTENTIAL. WASTED, SO MUCH.

Oh, and Linklater should definitely win Best Director. He has a good handshake. Also, he filmed Boyhood for over a decade. That’s pretty amazing commitment for a guy who’s brain is most assuredly 50% bong resin.

Best Picture
American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory Of Everything
Whiplash

The one nominee… for anything… that I saw this year was The Grand Budapest Hotel. It was cute. Very precious. I mean, I liked it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to defend it or anything. I definitely feel like there were other movies out there that were of a higher quality. Personally, I thought Guardians of the Galaxy was better. Or at least it was more FUN. But that’s not nominated, so it’s really kind of a moot point. So I guess me having seen The Grand Budapest Hotel counts, but it also doesn’t count because I really could care less if it wins, doesn’t win, has all its available prints put in a rocket and blasted at the moon. Whatever.

I guess let’s go with Boyhood. It’s got the nifty gimmick, plus it’s really “emotional” and “moving,” which are things that people look for in movies. It’s no Cruel Intentions, but hey, they can’t all be golden examples of cinematic perfection.

2014: My Year In Lists (Part Two)

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Music! It’s that stuff that pours into your earholes from out of your radio (hahaha, remember RADIOS) digital music computer doodad… that contraption you’ve got clipped to your fashionable, like, satchel thing… whatever… you know what I’m talking about. Or maybe all your music is in a cloud somewhere. Music chip implanted in your brain? I don’t understand how anything works.

Look, we’re going to talk about the music that I experienced in 2014. And we’ll be doing so via a bunch of mini-lists, because the thought of combining everything into a big Top 10 or Top 20 list makes me very, very tired. And I’m tired enough already, you guys.  My iVinyl songtunes app won’t synch up with my sonic Bluetooth cochlear graft!!! I can’t even!!! That’s a thing kids say, right? RIGHT??? I’M GOING TO HASHTAG EVERYTHING JUST TO BE SURE.

To the lists…

5 Absolutely Perfect Pop Songs from 2014

“Team” by Lorde – This song is like getting drunk on a weird Thursday at 2am with a bunch of really cool people that you’ve only known for a couple of weeks, so they’re still exciting. “Team” manages to whip up almost a mystical feel, but super-modern; I imagine this is the kind of thing that Stevie Nix would turn out if she was currently 17 and into synthesizers.

“Pompeii” by Bastille – If I had to sum of this song in a single word, that word would be, “Triumphant.” Listening to “Pompeii” makes me want to triumph over something. I don’t know WHAT, specifically, I would like to triumph over, but still… this song makes me long for a non-specific triumph, where I’d thrust my clenched fists into the air right at the “but when you close your eeeyees” part. I feel like that would be really satisfying.

“All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor – If you could use a wizard’s spell to turn a wad of strawberry Hubba Bubba into a song, this is what you would get. Now, I will grant you that the marrying of a sort of old timey-ish voice with modern pop isn’t a new idea.. nor is this the best ever example of that trend (Amy Winehouse would be the queen of that particular retro castle). However, “All About That Bass” is fun as shit, so whatever. Plus, when you see the song title written out, it’s mildly entertaining to pretend she’s talking about her love for a certain kind of fish.

“Fancy” by Iggy Azalea & Charli XCX – There’s some kind of iffy racial stuff with this song… she’s essentially doing “black voice,” which is not cool… but, you know, the video was a whole, awesome Clueless homage. So… we’re going to say it’s okay to like this song…? Because it JAMS? Look, I’m not sure where I’m supposed to stand on Iggy Azalea, so I have to listen to my heart. My heart is telling me that this song makes my pants want to get up and dance. So there’s that.

“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift – When Taylor Swift is president in like 2045, we’ll look back at the release of “Shake It Off” as the moment when everyone in America suddenly realized… hey… Taylor Swift is actually pretty great. Those first stirrings of goodwill will snowball until, eventually, we the people decide that it would probably be in all of our best interests if she just ran everything for a while. I feel like her Vice President will be her cat.

3 Terrible Songs from 2014

“Fireball” by Pitbull – I do not get why Pitbull is popular. He looks like a Miami dad, and he exclusively puts out songs that sound like they were specifically designed to be shitty ringtones.  And yet he’s super famous, and I work in a deli. The world, once again, fails to make sense. Anyway, I would rather be killed by an actual fireball, Backdraft-style, than ever hear this song again.

“Animals” by Maroon 5 – Everything about Adam Levine is gross… I imagine that he always smells like American Spirits, some kind of hair wax, and cheap lube… but this song, which is LITERALLY about hunting and killing women, is really just too much. Listening to “Animals” makes me want to apologize to everybody on behalf of my gender.

“Battleships” by Daughtry – The whole song is an extended, tortured metaphor about how a relationship is like two battleships fighting. That sounds stupid enough on its own, but then there’s the part in the song’s chorus when he goes “boom BOOM boom… boom BOOM boom.” HE’S BEING THE CANNONS ON THE BATTLESHIP. Sometimes, the onamonapias work in your favor, and sometimes they’re the hill upon which you die. Ugh, I can’t believe I phone-voted for you when you were on American Idol, Chris Daughtry. How the… not mighty, exactly… how the mediocre have fallen.

1 Song from 2014 That Sounds Like Time Travel

“Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson – You could tell me this was a track that was accidentally cut from Prince’s “Dirty Mind” album due to a grievous production error, and I’d totally believe it. By the way,  I do an excellent car dance to this song that really impresses the other drivers and lets them know I’m a cool guy who is very hip to the popular musics of today. My car dance has shoulder wiggles AND head bobs. It’s pretty awesome. This song is more awesome, though.

2 Songs from 2014 That I Hated At First, Then Totally Loved

“The Man” by Aloe Blacc – I hated it because it was in every MLB promo for every baseball game that existed in 2014, and that kind of repetition is just brutal. But then baseball season ended, and I heard it context-free on the radio, and it made think… you know what… maybe this song is about how I’M the man, I’m the man, I’m the man. So I love it now. Because I’m THE MAN.

“Chandelier by Sia” – This is song is gorgeous and inspires within in me soaring emotions, and… for some reason, I hated it the first time I heard it. Some things are just too beautiful to be appreciated at first glance. Anyway, “Chandelier” makes me want to survive some kind of huge ordeal, then describe the experience via the medium of interpretive dance.

3 Artists/Bands That I Rediscovered in 2014

Carole King – That lady sure could beat the shit out of a piano. Listen to “Tapestry,” if you’re okay with taking the time to glue your heart back together afterwards.

Crooked Fingers -They’re kind of the postscript to the band Archers of Loaf, who weren’t even a really huge deal back when they had some hipster, record store cache. So this is the small band that came from a slightly larger small band. And man… they’re just weird and great and like the soundtrack to my life, if I were a little bit cooler. Listen to this song, then go listen to the entire album that it’s from.

Paul Simon – That I ever forgot about Paul Simon is shameful. Thankfully, the movie Obvious Child came along and reminded me of what a bad, Paul Simon-shunning person I had become. Mandatory Paul Simon listenings should be written into The Constitution. I’ll have to get a petition going that calls for said change; something that I can present to President Swift at a Town Hall meeting or some such.

16 Bands from 2014 That I Totally Made Up

Condescending Turtles

The Beefpants Trio

El Boring Boringson & The Dulls

Mama Jokes

Crucified Judas

Elbowsnatch

Virginia Hummelsmith & The Best Band That Could Be Assembled Via Craigslist

Goodbye Horses (a Q Lazzarus cover band)

Dads in Garages

The Dirtbag Dandies

Professor Emanuel’s Sweet & Sour Lemon Drops (sorry, that’s a brand of lozenge that I invented)

Cud Punch

Prolapsed Soul

2Scary4School

Wet Jeans

and, of course…

Ed Sheeren (but not the one you’re thinking of)

2014: My Year In Lists (Part One)

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Holy shit, 2014 is almost over! HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? It just started! It was literally January 1st, 2014, like twelve minutes ago. Calenders and clocks are liars, time is the enemy, and I am so scared of getting older that I refuse to look in the mirror anymore because the rapidly aging adult that I see in there makes my soul frown.

But we’re not here to talk about how I am terrified of death! NO! We are here to talk about lists. Specifically, lists of thing that I enjoyed in 2014. Because I have a website and I enjoy making lists! So… over the next few days, I’m going to do just that until I’m finished or get bored with the project. Hopefully it won’t be the latter!

PLEASE NOTE: Not everything in these lists will bear a release date of 2014! As much as I would LIKE to see every movie, and listen to every album, and watch every TV show immediately upon their release, and process them, and rank them accordingly… well, there just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to accomplish all of that. Plus there’s my real job, and also I have to carve out time to be a decent husband, a so-so friend, and a middling-to-lousy family member. I’m only one man! So these lists are going to consist of things that I enjoyed during the calender year of 2014, regardless of when they were actually released, produced, aired, etc. If it makes you feel better, you can think of it as a free-form art project that serves as a commentary on society’s need to rank and categorize everything.

Or just read the damn things and marvel at my excellent taste. Or horrible taste, if you disagree with me. It’s all good! At the end of the day, aren’t we all just looking to be loved and, to a slightly lesser degree, to be presented with a really nice sandwich?

To the first list!

Top Ten TV Things of 2014

Cutthroat Kitchen – It’s fun to watch sweaty, stressed people try to make ravioli with spatulas duct taped to their hands. The secret joy of this show is that its winners usually only have like $80 left after bidding on stupid things to fuck with their fellow contestants. “You won Cutthroat Kitchen; here’s a sack of nickels for your trouble… also, you came across as mean-spirited and desperate on national TV!!! GOOD LUCK SEEKING FUTURE EMPLOYMENT.”

New Girl – The ensemble cast on New Girl is as flawless an entity as you’re going to find on network TV. Collectively, they are a humming engine of jokes, laughs, and timing, all of it in service of actual characters instead of just character types. Particular props to Jake Johnson, who is a shambling slacker comedy ninja, and to Lamorne Morris, who has, over a couple of seasons, turned his character (Winston Bishop) into one of the strangest, sweetest comic creations of 2014.

Buying Alaska – I cannot get enough of this fucking show, mainly because it is like watching people trying to buy real estate on Mars. This show has taught me many things… how people who live in Alaska do NOT care about what they look like on TV, that there are electric toilets that burn up your poop for sanitary and gross reasons, and that Alaskans are INSANE… but mainly, it has reinforced in my mind the fact that I never, ever want to live in Alaska. I like everything not being awful way too much.

American Horror Story: Freak Show – The whole American Horror Story franchise is, by and large, kind of a mixed bag. There is some AMAZING stuff in there, like Kathy Bates’ Emmy-winning turn in AHS: Coven, the big twist about 2/3rds into AHS: Murder House, and the cathartic thrill of watching Adam Levine get murdered in AHS: Asylum. However, with the good, there’s also some massive whiffs… the last two or three episodes of AHS: Coven, where everything just fizzled out into nothingness, being the most notable example. This year’s installment, AHS: Freak Show, while not perfect, has mostly been American Horror Story at it’s best… legitimately scary, darkly funny, and unafraid to swing wildly for the fences (modern songs sung by characters in the 1950’s… WHY THE FUCK NOT). Plus, it features not one but TWO of the most frightening villains ever to grace the small screen; John Carroll Lynch’s psychotic yet misunderstood Twisty the Clown, and Finn Witrock’s just plain psychotic Dandy Mott.

Billy on the Street – Billy Eichner is my screaming, gay spirit animal. If you haven’t basted yourself in the glory of his Taylor Swift-inspired music video, “Glitter & Ribs,” do so now.  You will come back forever changed.

Late Night with Seth Meyers – Jimmy Fallon is a little too enthusiastically giggly, Conan O’Brien has flashes of brilliance but always seems like he’s trying too hard, Letterman checked out years ago (though he will always be my One True Talk Show Host), and Kimmel is… you know… fine. Where it’s at for me, talk show-wise, is Seth Meyers and his comedy nerd heart. Now that the nerves have settled and he’s worked himself into a nice groove, Meyer’s show is my go-to spot for breezy interviews and funny bits.

Bob’s Burgers – There will never be another Simpsons, but… if you put a gun to my head and demand that I choose a show to be its successor… then it has to be Bob’s Burgers. There’s really no other choice. Warm, yet biting. Hysterical, but with an honest emotional core. It presents a broadly funny family who genuinely care about each other, and, more importantly, LIKE each other. It’s that pervasive, familial, “we’re all in this together” spirit that sets Bob’s Burgers apart from every other animated show on TV, including the current incarnation of the big daddy itself, the aforementioned Simpsons. Boasting a murderer’s row of voice talents… everyone from H. Jon Benjamin to Kristin Schall to Bill Hader to even Jon Freakin’ Hamm… doesn’t hurt things, either.

Broad City – The funniest show on TV. Hands down. In lieu of trying to explain to you why that is… because trying to explain why something is funny is pointless and painful for everyone involved… I present you with this clip that was recently released by Broad City for the Holidays and, indirectly, as a teaser for their new season. Either you’ll pick up what they’re putting down, or you won’t. (P.S. we saw Broad City live last month and it was better than anything has ever been ever… just FYI)

Fargo – I certainly didn’t see this one coming, and I don’t think anyone else did either. A “spiritual successor” to the Coen Brothers’ movie of the same name, but not related to the movie (at least not totally). And also it’s a mini-series. Featuring Billy Bob Thornton for some reason. There is no reason that this should have worked. And yet… here we are. Fargo was one of the best things on TV this year, precisely because, in the face of all logic, creator Noah Hawley found a way to make all of these disparate parts cohere into a showcase for his own crackerjack storytelling, but also for a whole slew of award-worthy performances. Thornton, newcomer Allison Tolman, and Martin Freeman (marvelously playing against type) are all just fucking fantastic. Plus, it’s violent as all hell, which is always fun.

TransparentTransparent is a show that stars Jeffery Tambor as the patriarch of a dysfunctional family who, late in life, decides to come out as a transgender woman. Also, it’s only available to people with Amazon Prime, via their streaming service. Those two sentences are the sum total of the information that I had about Transparent before I started watching it. And, I should point out, I only started watching it because my wife wanted me to. I doubt I would have otherwise. What I discovered was, in a word, art. Transparent is a thing of true beauty… an intensely personal work that will feel somehow totally familiar to everyone, despite its highly specific narrative. Achieving that sort of universality in a freshman show is a feat in and of itself; doing so with seemingly little effort, and with a light touch and a wicked sense of humor, to boot, make Transparent an easy lay-up for the best thing I watched on TV in 2014.

BONUS LIST: Top Three TV Things of 2014 I Haven’t Watched

Game of ThronesI have no plans to actually ever watch this… mostly because I tend to dislike anything that falls into the “wizards and shit” category of genre storytelling… but I gather that people are pretty enthusiastic about it. Good for them.

Orange is the New Black – My wife watched it, but I wasn’t involved. I just kind of can’t get myself to the point where I’m like, “Okay, let’s do this.” Which is no reflection on the show itself. It’s me, not you, OitNB.

True Detective – I’m going to watch True Detective, I swear! GET OFF MY ASS ABOUT IT, EVERYBODY!!!

Winter Movie Spotlight 2014

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Winter is just around the corner. Or, if you live in the North like some kind of sucker, then maybe it’s already here. For YOU. Not for me. I live at the edge of the great American Southwest, where winter is like, “whatever, I’ll put on a jacket for a week, NBD.” Hahaha… you fucking people with your snow and your regret! It’s wonderful here! IT’S WONDERFUL!!! [cut to: A month from now, when Texas is buried under a freak snowstorm that makes the end of The Day After Tomorrow look like the location scouting reel from Tremors]

The point is, with the arrival of the winter months, the nation’s movie theaters begin to make transitions of their own. Gone are the days of exciting blockbusters that people actually WANT to see. Now is the time for important movies… PRESTIGE movies… movies that grasp for Oscars like a child reaching for a favorite toy that you are holding high above its head because you are a terrible parent.

Here, now, a look at the upcoming slate of winter movies that you have no real interest in seeing, because life is hard enough already without spending two hours of it watching people be miserable, but you will watch anyway because if you don’t, you will feel like a racist:

The Remembering Time – Rated PG

Several elderly people in a nursing home think back on their lives, remembering stuff from when they were young, and full of life, and music didn’t have so many swears in it. Everything is shot in sepia tones, because that’s how the audience knows it takes place in the past. Black and white film might also get used; the filmmakers haven’t decided yet. Anyway, everyone gets really bummed out and then somebody’s nephew shows up to play the violin, which makes everything worse because they can tell that he really doesn’t want to be there. The movie ends when all the main characters die. It’s just awful .

Rose’s Antique Handbag – Rated R (for explicit historical fucking)

Rose (played by Kate Winslet, though the character is not THAT Rose), embarks on a sweeping journey across Europe, Africa, and, budget permitting, Asia, to reclaim her antique handbag that once belonged to her inspirational and also empowering grandmother, also named, confusingly, Rose. High drama ensues when Rose discovers that the antique handbag has fallen into the hands of the Nazis, which is strange, as the movie takes place in 1997. Score by Academy Award winner Hans Zimmer. Cinematography by Academy Award winner Janusz Kaminski. Nazi uniforms provided by that one closet at Warner Bros. Studios that’s full of Nazi uniforms.

It’s Horseshit That Gary Oldman Has Never Won An Oscar – Rated G(ary)

Gary Oldman, one of the finest actors of our generation, has NEVER won an Oscar. Isn’t that just totally horseshit??? What’s worse, he’s only been nominated for ONE GODDAMN MOVIE. That Tinker Tailor Solider Spy movie, which, okay, I’m sure it was FINE, but c’mon. Espionage in England or something? Whooooo caaaaaares??? But, of course, THAT’S the performance upon which the Academy finally decides to bestow their oh so fucking hallowed graces. Whatever. What fucking ever. Anyway, IHTGOHNWAO is just one 90 minute shot of Gary Oldman reading a menu from Applebee’s over and over in several different accents, and with varying degrees of intensity. It will break your fucking heart.

My Friend B.S. – Rated NC-17

One man’s crippling addiction to bath salts is explored via gritty, lo-fi film-making techniques, and also some unconventional casting choices. The main part of Terry…  the man struggling with his crippling need for terrifying drugs… is played by John Cryer, in a role that will surprise you. The part of his girlfriend, Joanne… the woman who selflessly helps Terry work through his addiction and get into rehab… is played by Tabitha from Tabitha’s Salon Takeovers, in a role that will surprise you. The bath salts are voiced, dramatically, by repurposed dialogue from a DVD of Beetlejuice that was laying around the editing suite. It’s mostly Michael Keaton stuff, in a roll that will surprise you. And him, too, probably, as he was not paid for his unwitting participation.

Mars – Rated PG-13

This is a movie that takes the viewer to the planet Mars, and shows what it would actually be like to live there. The first half is kind of hypnotically dull, as the Mars pioneers go about doing, you know, regular pioneer shit but with spacesuits. But then the last half is horrifying because a bunch of Martians show up and start disemboweling everybody. Tastefully, of course. The disemboweling is mostly implied. Mostly. What’s important is that the filmmakers invented a new kind of camera for this movie and it makes everything look like it’s actually taking place in outer fucking space. Technical wizardry, bitches. Gravity can suck our 70mm IMAX 3D dongs.

The Cuteness – Rated A Heretofore Undiscovered Rating That is Milder Than G

Carefully composed scenes of brilliant, troubled people doing twee, fussy things are all strung together to the music of Juice Newton, who is an artist we haven’t heard from in a long time, but is being brought back by the filmmakers because it’s cool to do that sort of thing, as long as it’s clear they’re being ironic. Everything looks perfect, and you get that it’s supposed to be funny, but you’re really only laughing because everyone else is. That guy a few seats down is PARTICULARLY into it. He has a neatly trimmed beard and some sort of tweed jacket thing going on. He looks smart. Yeah… this movie is SO smart.

Moshe Blumenthal: A Holocaust Survivor’s Story – Unrated

You may think that it is, at best, crass to sensationalize a real-life victim of the Holocaust’s story for the purpose of winning essentially meaningless awards, but… clearly… you’re unfamiliar with how bitching an Oscar looks on a small shelf above one’s cigar humidor. Yep… things are going pretty well. Thinking about optioning the rights to Anne Frank’s diary and tweaking it into like a Bourne Identity thing where she’s secretly an assassin or something. Pretty sure it’ll be the big summer hit of 2016. Iggy Azalea would make a totally badass, sexy Anne Frank, right???

Ghoul Drink Drunk

Ghoul Drink Drunk is a regular column that features your host, an adult male zombie who prefers bourbon and beer, exploring the sugary, sweet world of “ghoul-y drinks” for your edification and entertainment. He promises not to barf on you or eat your brains. Enjoy.

When I was a kid, my list of Top 5 Favorite Holidays looked like this:

1) Christmas – Obviously. TOYS. As an only child with typically indulgent grandparents, Christmases at my house made the gift suite at an Oscars after-party look like a miserly old maid begrudgingly sharing her Tic-Tacs. I was spoiled rotten (and am somewhat of a broken person now because of it, but THAT’S not what we’re here to talk about) and I loved every minute of it.

2) Thanksgiving – Feeling like a grown-ass adult, watching football with my uncles, furtively stealing sips of their Coors Light when they went to empty their dip cups. AND THE FOOD. Holy shit. For a fatty-in-training, Thanksgiving was like the Food Olympics. “Well, Bob Costas, I’ve trained all year for this and, yes, I think I’ll probably be able to eat so much green bean casserole that my mother has to take me aside and explain to me the concept of sharing AGAIN, and also remind me that this how rumors about thyroid problems get started. USA USA USA!!!”

3) 4th of July The sky is exploding! THE SKY IS EXPLODING!!!! Why yes, I WILL have another hot dog.

4) Valentine’s Day – Everyone I know wants to give me a card that quantifies the love they feel for me, and ALSO there are chocolates for me to jam into my maw? Everything about this day is tinted with magic in various shades of red and pink.

5) Halloween – GIVE ME CANDY, I’M DRESSED LIKE A GO-BOT.

Ah… youth.

Back in August, I turned 34 years old. This makes me adult as fuck. And, as someone who is adult as fuck, I have finally figured out a few things that I believe to be absolutely true. Things such as:

-Eating a fiber-rich diet will greatly improve your day-to-day existence for various poop-related reasons.

-It is satisfying to pay bills in a timely manner, and parenthetically, it is also pretty cool to not have the electric company shut your power off all the time.

-Holidays, as an adult, thoroughly blow.

Now.. granted… my wife and I do not have children. As I understand it, getting to experience the holidays through your own child’s eyes is a magical thing, like seeing a Leprechaun make out with a Sasquatch. Wouldn’t know. Don’t care to find out, actually, as kids are little punks that suck out your life force and replace it with crippling debt, things they’ve shit on, and also sometimes they become serial killers. That’s just a fact.

At any rate, holidays now are terrible. They’re expensive, they require being places at certain times… usually looking nice, which is in and of itself a whole thing (“which one of these Big Johnson t-shirts would you say is the CLEANEST?)… and they tend to highlight everything that’s not going right in your life at that very moment. Also, does anyone still celebrate the 4th of July anymore? I literally cannot remember the last time I did anything for that holiday. I think I’m usually at work, assuming all the ruckus outside is the citizenry of Dallas exercising their right to bear arms.

ANYWAY, all of this is roundabout way of saying that, while MOST holidays suck gravy, there is one exception… one holiday still holding steady on my list… and that exception is, emphatically, HALLOWEEN. Halloween just fucking rules so hard, it’s spooOOooOOooky.

There are horror movies on all the time, people go fucking nuts with giving out candy, if you’re lucky you’ll hear “Thriller” on the radio… the WHOLE song, with the awesome Vincent Price rap and everything… and, just generally, it’s the one time of year where the entire country embraces the creepy, the weird, and the scary. I fucking love it… I do. Which is mostly fine. There is ONE kind of iffy side effect, and that is the fact that I cannot be in a Target or a Wal-Mart unsupervised. If that happens, I end up buying totally unnecessary, though, yes, TOTALLY BAD ASS, garbage like this:

The Ghoul Drink:

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Hahaha, motherfucking Ghoul-Aid???  SCARY BLACKBERRY??? If that isn’t a fucking graveyard smash, I don’t know what is. GOD DAMN, do I love this holiday! And since I’ve got like an entire box of this stuff in my fridge now, I figured it would probably be in everyone’s best interest for me to mix it with alcohol and then write about it on the internet. Everybody on board? Yes? Wolfman? Dracula and his son? Good! Let’s get to it.

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Oh, so first though… I drank one of these by itself, so I could fully understand it as an ingredient and, thus, better incorporate it into my mixology. Also, it’s fun to drink things out of Mylar pouches. Feels like right after tee-ball practice. Anyway, the Scary Blackberry Ghoul-Aid (fuck, that’s just so wonderful) was pretty damn good! Tart, like an actual blackberry, yet still retaining that fake-juice flavor that Kool-Aid long ago locked down tight. Gotta say, kids drinks have definitely improved since my day. They taste richer now. More fruity, and less “frooty.” Just superior in every way.

Obligatory Nostalgic Counterpoint: YEAH, BUT THEY’RE SURE NO ECTO-COOLER. Those sumbitches had Slimer on them.

Moving on…

The Official Ghoul-Aid Scary Blackberry Cocktail Guide

As you probably gathered from the picture above, I mixed the Ghoul-Aids with three different liquors: Some Deep Eddy Vodka, which I let get all frosty cold in the freezer, some Sauza Tequila, because the evening might as well end with me calling a bouncer a pantywaist (…aren’t you drinking these at home…), and Loopy Vodka, which you may remember from a previous post. Believe it or not, we’ve still got some of that left over.

OH, and I feel like it’s important I mention that all the cocktails were mixed with the aid of this incredibly spooktacular shot glass:

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BECAUSE HALLOWEEN, BITCHES. Hard in the paint.

To the drinks!

Ghoul-Aid Scary Blackberry with Vodka

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Yes, it’s a pretty unappealing color… kind of like a deep bruise with hints of toxic waste… but that’s just what beverages are going to look like when you’re dealing with BOO JUICE. Also, please note that this cocktail is being hand-modeled by my wife, who is sporting a seasonally appropriate blood-splatter manicure. You are correct: my wife is awesome.

The cocktail tasted… you know… fine. Mostly it just tasted really cold. The vodka kind of thinned out the tartness of the blackberry, which left behind a bland sweetness that wasn’t by any means undrinkable… it just wasn’t terribly exciting. There is the possibility that I muffed up the vodka-to-Ghoul-Aid ratio; I went closer to half-and-half, where I think the whole thing would have benefited from a one part vodka, four parts Ghoul Aid recipe. Still though, what seemed like a really bold, vibrant flavor when sucked from a pouch via an adorable, yellow straw, really weakened and buckled when paired with a spirit. I USED THE WORD SPIRIT THERE BECAUSE SPIRIT MEANS GHOSTS.

Ahem…

Ghoul-Aid Scary Blackberry and Tequila

So… all the cocktails looked the same. Remember the picture from a few paragraphs ago? This one was exactly that, visually-speaking. Scroll up if you need a refresher.

Whereas the vodka in the previous cocktail neutralized the Scary Blackberry flavor, the tequila in THIS cocktail simply overwhelmed it. Using the same (admittedly kind of stout) ratio as before, all I could taste was the Sauza, with maybe a faint note of sugar on the back end. Essentially it was like drinking purple tequila, which I’m surprised is a thing that doesn’t already exist. The kids these days… they like the bright colors. For their… raves…? Is that still a thing…? Probably. Probably still is. HAHA, I ain’t old!

Ghoul-Aid Scary Blackberry and Loopy Vodka

I assume you’ve heard the phrase “unholy matrimony” before? The dude that thought that up was thinking about this cocktail when he had his “a-ha!” moment. While the Ghoul-Aid is tasty on its own, and the Loopy Vodka by itself is… well, not tasty exactly, but a fair representation of the weird-flavored vodka trend… when they’re mixed together, they are like the sugar sludge pouring forth from whatever freshly-killed monster up until very recently stalked Candyland’s Candy Cane Forest.

So SWEET. So sticky on the lips. And god, the Ghoul-Aid really brings out the Lemon Pledge notes that were previously examined in the Loopy Vodka. The whole thing was a car crash in a glass, and if you ever end up drinking Ghoul-Aid Scary Blackberry and Loopy Vodka mixed together, it’s because you are being tricked, not treated.

Drink the other two cocktails. They’re fine. Don’t drink this one. DON’T. That way madness lies.

Conclusion:

While most holidays are busy dry-humping your wallet and messing with your schedule, Halloween exists only to facilitate your having of fun times. PROOF: products like Ghoul-Aid Scary Blackberry exist, and are awesome. And you can mix them with booze! It’s not the most successful venture in the world, but it WILL get you drunk.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, YOU DEMONS!!!

7 Little-Seen Horror Movies You Should Watch, Because Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching, which means that you really should be watching some horror movies in the next couple of weeks. ‘TIS THE SEASON, DAMMIT. If you’re not watching horror movies in October, you’re basically the acting mayor of No-Funnsylvania  (the elected mayor of No-Funnsylvania was impeached after the local newspaper discovered that he is actually, in fact, way, way fun).

“But C-dog, you’re so handsome, and also, what horror movies should we watch? THERE ARE TOO MANY CHOICES.”

First off, thank you for noticing my handsomeness. I have upped my candy corn intake as of late, and I think the resulting, constant sugar high has really given my skin a nice dewy glow. Regarding your second point: I know… BELIEVE ME… I know. There are SO many horror movies out there, and a lot of them, frankly, suck out loud. It can be intimidating, wading through that sticky swamp of eye-grabby titles and lurid cover art, which can lead to frustration, hopelessness, and, eventually, you just end up watching I Know What You Did Last Summer for the twentieth time because whatever, who cares, take me away, Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Fortunately, I am here to help. See, I like horror movies. A LOT. It’s my “thing,” which I will admit is kind of sad and even a little creepy 11 months out of the year. BUT NOT IN OCTOBER, BABY. The Halloween-adjacent weeks are my time to shine.

So, to that end, please allow me to jam some horror movie recommendations into your eye holes. Some LESSER KNOWN horror movies, mind you. No Nightmare on Elm Streets or Halloweens here. The following movies are ones you may not have seen, but really SHOULD see. While they might have flown a little under the radar, they are all varying degrees of greatness.

And if you HAVE seen all of these, well then… do you want to be best friends?

To the movies!

NOTE: All of these titles are available on Netflix. If you DON’T have Netflix, then… what… do you like read a lot or something? Do you hike? YOU’RE NOT BETTER THAN ME.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown

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PLOT IN TEN WORDS OR LESS: 1940’s, small-town serial killer baffles cops; terrorizes locals

If you were to take a vicious, hooded serial killer and drop him into an episode of The Andy Griffith Show, the resulting Mayberry bloodbath would look a whole lot like The Town That Dreaded Sundown. The movie is almost a horror sub-genere all its own; call it, “Slice of Life Horror.” Just small-town folks, goin’ ’bout their lives… having some laughs, some love, some joy, and some sorrow…  and every now and again, a couple of them get murdered by a psychopath. Tonally, this movie is all over the place; there are icy chills, and there are moments that can only be categorized as slapstick. To me, though, that makes TTTDS even MORE realistic, because life isn’t really just one tone all the time. Maybe it has something to do with this being based on true story? Or maybe the filmmakers were just kind of not great at their job. Either way, it works.

Also, the killer… dubbed “The Phantom” by the locals… is straight-up terrifying. His hood thing, seen in the posters, is simple, yet very effective as a part of his whole slasher ensemble. Plus, he murders somebody with a trombone. It’s weird. The whole movie is kind of weird, actually. It’s all just a little off-center. Which is nice.

Here Comes The Devil

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PLOT IN TEN WORDS OR LESS: Siblings disappear. Parents worry. Siblings reappear, but changed. MAGIC CAVE!!!

If you like your horror films slightly inscrutable and also full-to-bursting with weird, sexual energy and vaginal imagery, then, boy, you have really specific taste in horror films. Also, Here Comes the Devil is THE movie you’ve been looking for!

Now… I will admit up front that I did not totally understand what was happening in Here Comes the Devil. The ending, especially, is a bit of a head-scratcher. But that’s okay! Sometimes ambiguity is a horror movie’s best friend! Besides, I’m not very smart; it is ENTIRELY possible that this movie makes PERFECT sense, and it simply sailed over my head like a low-flying, very obvious condor.

Regardless, it’s worth a look, because there is a LOT of atmospheric, creepy ghost-style shit going on in HCTD. Oh, and it’s in Spanish, by the way. If you’re scared of subtitles, you are a weenie.

Antiviral

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PLOT IN TEN WORDS OR LESS: Celebrities infect fans with their viruses. Also, Lab-grown flesh!

Antiviral is a Cronenberg movie, but not THAT Cronenberg. This is a work by Brandon Cronenberg, who is the SON of David Cronenberg. Although, to be fair, the film-making apple did not fall very far from the auteur tree. Much like his father, Young Cronenberg traffics in body horror and ideas about “the new flesh,” all wrapped up in some rather pointed social commentary. Junior’s take is a little more arch and winking than his dad’s, but that fits well with his celebrity-culture focused plot line.

Now, I will grant you that Antiviral is technically a little more science fiction-y than it is straight horror. Here’s the thing though: Don’t worry about it. At the end of the movie, you’re going to feel pretty gross, and you’re going to really not feel excellent about life, in general, either. If that isn’t horrific, I don’t know what is.

Pontypool

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PLOT IN TEN WORDS OR LESS: Zombie virus that spreads via non-traditional methods.

We’ve all seen a million zombie movies by now, but this one… well… Pontypool is different. Giving away the twist would be, and SHOULD be, punishable by death. Your viewing experience is well-served by going in as blind as possible. So let me just say this, as a way of teasing your interest: The majority of this movie takes place in a radio station, and that setting is not an accident nor a casually tossed-off detail.

There isn’t just a ton of action in Pontypool, but it is absolutely riveting all the same. To that end, it is worth noting that this is the only movie on the list that you could stage as a theatrical production while making almost no changes to the script. That should give you a pretty good idea of what you’re in for. If that’s your kind of horror jam, you will dig the absolute pants off of Pontypool.

The House of the Devil

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PLOT IN TEN WORDS OR LESS: 80’s babysitter versus Satanic cult.

A very pleasing throwback to the Satan-crazed 1980’s, The House of the Devil feels like the kind of movie you’d find occupying some real estate on the Horror shelf of your local video store, back when those were still a thing.

It should be noted that THOTD is paced a little slower than most horror flicks. It is not, as the kids say, balls to the wall (until the final 15 minutes or so). It’s the sort of movie that you kind of just have to sink into, like a hot tub. A HOT TUB FULL OF SATAN!!! Ahem, but yes, its pacing is a little on the leisurely side. Do not get discouraged! The payoff is exceptionally disturbing.

Also, there’s a thing that happens about halfway through the movie that made me jump clean out of my skin, forcing me to stop the movie until I could find some replacement skin to wear while my own skin was at the tailors, getting the hems re-sewn. It also caused me to spill my beer. So many tragedies caused by The House of the Devil

Let The Right One In

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PLOT IN TEN WORDS OR LESS: Swedish vampire befriends child. Shit gets ugly.

Ugh, you guys, I love this movie so much. There is some shocking, violent shit in Let The Right One In, unquestionably, but also it will just absolutely break your heart. A few times, actually.

Let the Right One In is cold, sad, gory, and amazing. Watch it. DO NOT WATCH THE AMERICAN REMAKE. It is okay, but it’s NOT the original. If you watch the remake first, an orphaned child gets his favorite toys taken away from him, which sets him on the path to becoming a serial killer. DON’T MAKE US HAVE TO DEAL WITH ANOTHER SERIAL KILLER. Watch the original, deal with having to read while you watch (it’s in Swedish), and just… you know… be a better person. This movie is worth it, you turkeys!

Grave Encounters

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PLOT IN TEN WORDS OR LESS: Douchey TV ghost hunters get exactly what they ask for.

This movie is a what-if regarding those countless “ghost hunter” TV shows, and what would happen if they stumbled upon an actually, really for real, haunted location. The filmmakers… the pretentiously-named The Vicious Brothers…are almost TOO good at recreating the smarmy, self-important aura that the casts of this breed of bottom-feeding shows put off. There are almost zero likeable characters in Grave Encounters.

But that’s fine! More chum for the waters, as it were. Terrible analogy, this movie does not take place on a boat, nor is it about sharks.

ANYWAY, Grave Encounters is mostly shot in the “found footage” style. This is important to note, because a lot of people find that style of movie-making to be the cinematic personification of laziness. I don’t necessarily disagree, but in this instance, it really works within the overall conceit.

Out of all the movies on this list, Grave Encounters would benefit the most from a few stiff cocktails and having all the lights in the house turned out. Doing those things will really ramp up your enjoyment of its somewhat cheesy, yet still pretty scary, offerings.

Everything I Ate At The State Fair of Texas, or, “Save My Soul, Deep Fried Jesus”

My State Fair is better than your state fair.

I mean, sure, they might be KIND OF similar: Wonderful/horrible foodstuffs that are worse for you than rubbing raw uranium on your face, crowds of people that represent everything that’s awful about interacting with humans, parking lots, etc. However, MY Sate Fair has something that YOUR State Fair definitely does not:

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Yep. A giant robot cowboy who sometimes bursts into flames. We call him Big Tex, and he is the best. What DOES your State Fair have? JACK and also SQUAT, that’s what. Tex-as, Tex-as, TEX-AS, TEX-AS [adjusts comically over-sized belt-buckle; tosses ten-gallon Stetson into the air; eats a fistful of Bluebonnets while defending the Alamo]!!! SUCK A BUTT, OHIO AND ALSO EVERY OTHER STATE.

Ahem… sorry. See, I just got back from a day at the State Fair of Texas, which is held every year in the city I call home, and… well… this native Texan is a little jacked up on sugar, grease, and Lone Star Pride. DID I MENTION THE SUGAR??? Wow, sorry again… I’m just… everything is all shimmery and I feel like someone just shot me in the back of the head with a t-shirt cannon full of deep-fried meats.

ANYWAY, I’m not here to get all United States of Texas on your asses. What I AM here to do is talk about every single thing that I consumed at the State Fair of Texas, in order of consumption, because the State Fair is DEFINITELY the most important thing that is happening in Dallas right now. Hahahaha ha haha ha [gargles with Purell].

First up, three notes:

-All of the foodstuffs in the following pictures were split between me and my wife. Two reasons: If I had eaten everything that you see in this post by myself, my stomach would have fallen out of my butt, and also, sharing is caring. Also thrifty, as State Fair dining is EXPENSIVE. I remember when a hamburger sandwich cost a quarter! And so forth.

-The pictures you see below were taken quickly, and in crappy, overcast natural light, in an effort to get their images recorded before they cooled off and congealed into horrifying wads of sorrow. I assume you’re not coming to low-traffic internet way-stations such as Zombie Fights Shark for Diane Arbus-level photographic glory, but still… forgive the cruddy quality on some of these. Dammit, the boy is TRYING!

-We also consumed two or three bottles of water during this adventure to prevent us from turning into Biblical-style salt statues, but water is boring, so we won’t be discussing it any further.

ONWARD!!!

Everything I Ate at the State Fair of Texas, or, “Save My Soul, Deep Fried Jesus”

Funnel Cake Beer

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Community Beer Company, who are big, smelly deals here in the Dallas craft beer octagon, made this beer specifically for the State Fair, aiming to create a drinking experience that was both reminiscent of eating a funnel cake, but was also… you know… a beer that doesn’t suck.  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. The State Fair Brew was pretty goddamn tasty… sweet, pastry-like notes on the front end gave way to a sharp, hoppy finish which was mellowed out by the genius move to rim the glass in powdered fucking sugar. Actually, the cup I got could have used a little MORE powdered sugar… it REALLY sold the whole funnel cake angle…  but that’s neither here nor there.

If you’re going to start your day off, like we did, drinking beers in a room full of 2015’s hottest cars, you could do a whole hell of a lot worse than Community’s State Fair Brew.

Deep Fried Shrimp Boil

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This thing won, essentially, the Best In Show ribbon out of all the eligible foods served at this year’s State Fair. While it wasn’t my number one favorite thing that I ate, it WAS kind of a blow-your-hair-back experience. SO MUCH FLAVOR. Look at the guts of this sumbitch…

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Various sizes of shrimp, potatoes, some corn, a little lemon, and an assload of spices, all coated in… I don’t know… magical Cajun swamp batter or whatever… and deep fried until it becomes the best hushpuppy ever crapped out of a gator-wrassler’s filthy dream. And there’s a spicy/tangy/sexy dipping sauce! Goddamn. Plop a regulation-sized football helmet full of these in front me during a Cowboys game, and I could WITHOUT HYPERBOLE eat them until my stomach exploded like that one guy in Se7en.

Chicken-Fried Meatloaf

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Pretty straightforward, really… it’s two slabs of dense, well-seasoned meatloaf that have been deep-fried in that sort of crumbly, almost corn-flakey batter that is so specifically tied to chicken fried steak. They were tasty… because they’re deep-fried meatloaf, and not, say, deep-fried your-high-school-janitor’s-underwear… but they were also a tad on the dry side, screaming out for the accompanying dipping sauces. One was like a spicy ketchup kind of thing (meant to mimic the glaze one finds on a well-conjured meatloaf), and the other was cream gravy (meant to be poured directly down your throat, because cream gravy is as essential to human life as oxygen, water, and sunlight).

My wife preferred the ketchup. I preferred the cream gravy. We side-eyed each other suspiciously for the remainder of the day. I feel that this disagreement has started us down a path that will one day end with us battling each other for some sort of dipping sauce-based supremacy in an American Gladiators-style arena. Only time will tell.

FOOD BREAK

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Look at all the pleasing rows of canned veggies, fruits, jams, jellies, and butters. They’ve all been tasted and ranked and awarded ribbons. The display seemed to go on for miles, and I could have gazed upon it for a fortnight. If this picture doesn’t satisfy the part of your brain where the OCD Demon lives, then you are a sentient wooden puppet who has somehow gained access to the internet, and I hope you cry yourself to sleep tonight wishing you were a real boy. OR GIRL, whatever. Pinocchio-looking motherfucker.

Kona Iced Coffee

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The wife wanted an iced coffee, so we got an iced coffee. Nothing particularly memorable about this beverage… it wasn’t dunked in hot oil and transformed into some kind of spongy, whipped cream-covered mass that will forever haunt my arteries… but you know, it was a nice example of the iced coffee form. Plus, they put a little cocktail umbrella on it, which is pretty fucking cute. Everything at the State Fair is just better, you guys.

Deep-Fried Potato Guts

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These are supposedly twice-baked potato guts, formed into a shape that TOTALLY ISN’T TURD-ESQUE, then deep-fried in the standard fashion. They weren’t bad at all… good even… but they also weren’t terribly exciting. Basically, they were mashed potatoes with a crust. My wife described them as “deep-fried clouds,” texturally-speaking, and I can’t really do any better than that in the description department.

Any forward-thinking sports bar owner would be delighted to have these taking up valuable real estate on their appetizer menu.

Sausage on a Stick

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It’s a spicy, foot-long smoked sausage on a stick. Simple, elegant, and very much like eating the BBQ version of a command performance by the Joffery Ballet. Or at the very least, Riverdance.

Demerits are given, however, due to a structurally unsound foil wrapping job that lead to barbeque sauce being dripped on my nicest Hawaiian, big-fat-party-guy shirt. Fat guys HATE shirt stains. They’re our “scarlet letters.”

FOOD BREAK

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While at the State Fair, we attended some pig races. Like ya do. Those little pink blurs in the center of the photograph? Pigs. Racing pigs. The prize for winning the race was an Oreo cookie. It was all very adorable, though the experience was brought down a little bit by an unrelenting typhoon of pig puns, all spoken by an MC/fake farm girl who had the worst case of “children’s theater superstar voice” I’ve ever heard. Also, there was a Forrest Gump reference in the script, which I’m sure killed in the late-90’s, but c’mon pig race banter writers! It’s 2014! We need that modern jazz, man.

Deep-Fried Brisket

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I’m going to try to get through this one without crying, but no promises. You guys… this is a hunk of moist, fatty brisket that is deep fried, then covered in a thick BBQ sauce and sprinkled with some spicy dry rub. Look at it! LOOK AT IT, GODDAMNIT:

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This was so fucking good, I thought about shutting down the whole “touring the State Fair” thing and just bellying up to their operation, ordering round after round of deep-fried brisket, until my grunts of pleasure got so pornographic that the State Fair security had to come remove me by force. I WOULD NOT GO PEACEFULLY.

Seriously, the deep-fried brisket was THE number one best thing I ate at the State Fair, and it is also quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever eaten ever. Caviar, foie gras, lobster butts… all of that expensive junk can go straight to hell. Pure, undiluted happiness can be bought for a measly 15 tickets at a booth next to a guy selling airbrushed face tattoos. THIS is luxury. THIS is living. CHRIST, I’m hungry for these again. As will I ever be, forever.

Funnel Cake

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I mean… it’s a funnel cake. It’s going to be good, because it is hot dough and powdered sugar. Oh, and by the way, if you’re one of those people that globs on a bunch of strawberries or blueberries or whatever-the-fuckberries on top of your funnel cake, then you are so unbelievably basic that you’re practically yoga pants. Why dilute greatness with unnecessary toppings? Sometimes, the simplest path is where it’s at. Not everything has to be OMG 3D HD all the time, you dummies. JUST EAT IT LIKE JESUS WOULD HAVE.

Anyway, it was good, but it also came after the deep-fried brisket, so it definitely lacked a little in the impressiveness department. It’s kind of like how Shaq looks like a goofy younger sibling when standing next to Yao Ming. Same thing, but with fried foods.

Fletcher’s Corn Dog

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Sorry that this isn’t a pretty, pre-chomp picture of a beautiful, unbroken corn dog. Actually, NOT SORRY. I want you to see where my gross mouth just was. I want you to be able to see each individual tooth-print. The above crime scene is a CELEBRATION of delicious glory. It is a testament to the corn dog… the FLETCHER’S Corn Dog, mind you… accept no substitutions.

Fletcher’s Corn Dogs… often imitated, never replicated… were invented at the State Fair of Texas, like, several million years ago (Fletcher was a Stegosaurus). THAT’S RIGHT… my State Fair invented a thing that has become a CLASSIC FOOD. What did YOUR State Fair invent? Some kind of weird fish horseshit, Minnesota? GO SIT AT THE KIDS TABLE; THE ADULTS ARE TALKING ABOUT SEX.

Gah… sorry, sorry… I just get so worked up about Fletcher’s Corn Dogs (and corn dogs in general, because who are we kidding, brand loyalty doesn’t mean a whole lot when you’re hammered at 4am with a fridge full of knock-off slop cornys chilling in your freezer, wanting only for the gentle kiss of your microwave so that they can take your hangover and crumple it into a ball and point at it, saying, “leave this place”).

Corn dogs are just the best, and Fletcher’s Corn Dogs, in particular, should win every award ever created at least once. Even the Heisman.

FOOD BREAK

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This is a painting of Con Air-era Nicholas Cage that was slapped on the side of some sort of Tilt-A-Whirl contraption on the midway. I do not know what it has to do with carney rides, but I DO know that it looks goddamn majestic when framed by a stormy sky and a flapping Texas flag.

Deep-Fried Snickers

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When you deep-fry a Snickers bar, what you’re left with is a somewhat dense enclosure of quickly-soggifying dough that is holding back a flood of molten-hot Snickers components that have been lava-fied because heat and melting and so on. It is a tricky proposition, eating one of these, because the chances of it burning your skin and muscle and attractively-trimmed, fashionable beard clean off down to the exposed skull that lies beneath are very, very real. However, it is also a whole lot of chocolate, nougat, peanuts and fried dough, and who can resist that? Some things are just worth the years of painful skin grafts and accompanying hospital bills.

Deep-Fried PB&J w/Banana and Bacon

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This was the last thing we ate at the State Fair, and by the time it rolled around, we were both kind of settling into the walking coma phase of our evening. It’s a shame, because this was kind of the secret star of the day. I mean, it’s no deep-fried brisket, but what is? NOTHING, EVER AGAIN, WILL BE DEEP FRIED BRISKET.

But still, this was damn tasty. The fattiness of the peanut butter and the general fried-ness was spectacularly cut by the glorps of grape jelly, and the banana added a nice fruitiness as well. I didn’t really taste the bacon, though. Like… at all. I think we may have actually been given a baconless fried sandwich, which, yes, IS a felony offense in the State of Texas. I’m a benevolent, kind C-dog, however, and am not pressing charges. Frankly, that would require effort, and after eating all of this, it’s all I can do to keep breathing normally sans gasping.

IN CONCLUSION

The State Fair of Texas is wonderful, and you should go there and eat a bunch of stuff. If you’re NOT in the great state of Texas, I guess you could go to your own State Fair, but… you know… keep in mind that you’re living a goddamn lie.

Now, I’m going to go eat small, dry salads for a week, but before I go, I want to leave you with one more picture:

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This is from the State Fair of Texas’ butter sculpture exhibit. The subject this year was galloping stallions, and what you see above is an artist so focused on detail and accuracy that they spent at least a little bit of their day fashioning a horse’s butthole out of butter. That is amazing. The State Fair of Texas is amazing. EVERYTHING IS AMAZING.

Except for your State Fair, which, as previously mentioned, sucks nards.

Posterized

Posterized is a column where we (me) make snap judgements about upcoming releases using their movie posters as a guide. Enjoy.

Intersteller

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[gulps whiskey, stares meanly out into the middle distance, chokes back a sob]

I don’t want what I’m about to say to be true. Please… believe me… I want to be wrong. So very, very wrong. I want, a year from now, one of you internet rapscallions to hold this post under my nose and burst my eardrums, shouting, “Smell your failure, bloggerman! SMELL IT.”

But… I have to say it… I have to make this prediction because I believe it to be true. I believe… god help my wretched soul… that Intersteller is going to be Christopher Nolan’s first creative and financial fiasco. Now… okay… calm down, everybody… just let me… hey, there’s no need to throw beer bottles… GODDAMNIT, LET ME SPEAK. I can see that several of you are wrapping lengths of chain around your fists, and that a few others are hammering thick nails through Louisville Sluggers… please, before you beat me into something resembling a dropped pizza… hear me out.  Christopher Nolan has had one of the hottest streaks in cinematic history; he literally, to date, has not made a bad movie. Some of you might point to his 2002 film Insomnia, shruggingly, saying, “That one wasn’t so hot.” NO. WRONG. Watch it AGAIN. Insomnia is an underrated little thriller that makes Alaska seem like a frozen hellscape. Granted, the real estate show Buying Alaska does that much more efficiently, and sans a budget-busting Al Pacino, but still (people get so excited when there’s a toilet IN THE HOUSE; it’s super sad).

ANYWAY, Nolan has produced nothing but quality. He’s due for a lead balloon, and, from what I’ve gathered, Intersteller might be it. Details on the plot and whatnot are fuzzy, but it appears that what we have here is a three hour movie about space agriculture. That does not sound promising. What that sounds like, to me, is a simple idea that a committed auteur will follow all the way up his or her own butthole, slapping on layers and layers of astounding visuals until everything looks like a video game and we’re all bored out of our goddamned minds. Does anyone remember Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain? It was a movie about the Fountain of Youth that doubled as an excellent example of why it’s sometimes not always the best call for a director to have complete creative control. There was so much going on in The Fountain… so many IDEAS… that it came out as a shambling, incomprehensible mess. Intersteller feels like Christopher Nolan’s own personal The Fountain. “Yes, we’re starting with an idea about agriculture in space, but we’re also going to be exploring the human spirit, and what it means to be a hero, and also what it means to be a father, and also how we define what is noble, and also mlmop mphhpll mplsblbhm [his words are muffled because he has breached the anus].”

Again… for the record… I DO NOT WANT TO BE RIGHT ABOUT THIS. I just feel like all signs are pointing to Intersteller being completely insufferable. I hate that I feel this way, but nobody ever said writing about movies on a website was going to be easy. Sometimes you have to make the tough calls. Keep this one on your FlopWatch radar until further notice.

Sex Ed

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Hey! It’s freaking Haley Joel Osment! Man… and I say this totally without irony or snark or malicious internet bile… it’s good to see that little fucker back on the big screen. Did he do some jail time for, like, drunk driving or something? I think that’s right. I don’t feel like looking it up, mainly because Googling, “Haley Joel Osment arrested” just seems like such a bummer and I don’t need that in my browser history. Besides, we’re celebrating here! That kid from the ghost movie is doing some stuff again. Less adorably so than from back in the day… he’s like a person now, and that person seems to have swelled up a bit… but it’s all good.

Whatever this movie is that he’s in looks kind of like garbage, but, you know… at least he’s working. Remember when he was nominated for an OSCAR? The early 2000’s were a crazy time.

Dracula Untold

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You know, just Dracula, pooping some bats. Or he’s made ENTIRELY of bats now? I feel like this movie is going to be playing fast and loose with the Dracula mythology. Kind of like how, as the Superman movies kept churning out, they started giving Superman powers in service of the plot instead of staying within the established cannon. Can Superman turn his “S” logo into a big plastic tarp and use it to subdue bad guys? Sure, why not? Pass the cocaine. THAT AMOUNT OF COCAINE IS TOO SMALL FOR THE CREATORS OF THE SUPERMAN FILM FRANCHISE.

Here is a list of the powers that I imagine Dracula has been granted by the creators of Dracula Untold:

-Dracula can poop bat swarms (jeez, poster… Spoiler Alert!!!)

-Dracula can fly, which IS cannon, but this time around he does it with the sleek, stylish Drac-Jet 3000, which is heavily emblazoned with the Red Bull logo

-Nothing says a modern Dracula like laser-beam eyes!

-He knows all sorts of like Kung Fu and Krav Maga shit, and also he can run up trees like in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

-Supersonic yodel.

-Dracula can turn wooden stakes into TALKING wooden stakes that are sassy, as we need something off of which to base a line of toys. Christmas is coming!

-Breathes fire, stomps buildings flat, is Godzilla.

-He can make quarters disappear, then reappear behind the female lead’s ear.

-Dracula can turn the “D” logo on his chest into a big plastic tarp that he can use to subdue bad guys.

-He can do the “Batdance.”