Friday, November 25, 2011

The World Series Of Poker 001: Flush

So this was my World Series experience.

I made the Rio at about 10:30 PST, and two things became clear the moment I gave my name to the casino desk clerk. First, she definitely saw that I had a room reserved. Second, that room was definitely no longer available. She made a face that I would describe as "Yikes." I'm going to have to put you in a bigger suite, she said. "But it is maybe smoking and maybe not, so maybe it smells like smoke and maybe not. Is that OK?"

It was OK, and when I arrived I found that I was happily on the "maybe not" side of the smoke equation. It was (spoilers) also the only serious piece of luck I'd have. I didn't know that yet, so maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. My suite was in the Masquerade Tower, past an enormous Carnivale jester head suspended from the ceiling between the dancer rail and the Burger King bar, where you can apparently build your own burger. The suite was in the corner, and opened on a wraparound window with a full view of the strip at night. The living room opened on a bedroom, which opened on a bathroom, and each of these rooms by themselves represented the largest hotel room I've ever occupied.

I unpacked -- my possessions sat in the room like a shy boy in the corner of his first party -- and texted CMitch. Mitch was playing cash at the Amazon ballroom. Before you get to hall leading to the ballroom, though, you have to walk past 17 posters advertising Penn & Teller (a spectacular show that I'd seen two years before on my previous Vegas trip) and 230 blanging flashing slots and pokies making droid orgy noises, and the Penn & Teller theater itself. This November, this theater became the site of the biggest show in poker, the final table of the Main Event WSOP, but now it is simply the site of the big Rio magic show, whose performers have lent the theater its name. As it happened, I passed the theater just as the show was letting out, which means I caught a glimpse of Penn Jillette, hair down to his shoulders, posing for pictures with the tourists who had just watched him shoot himself in the neck with a nailgun. Pay your price, get your ticket, make sure you get your souvenir, a little chunk of reflected greatness.

You pass down the hall to the Amazon ballroom, past banners of giants. Daniel Negraneu. Allen Cunningham. Jeff Madsen. Tom Schneider. Erik Lindgren. Previous winners of the WSOP Player of the Year. Who will it be this year? Why...it might be you!! But it won't be me. I'm here for just one event, not nearly enough to rack up the points needed to get into Ben Lamb territory. That's as OK with me as if it were a larger suite of rooms at the casino. I started playing poker regularly in 2005 when I bought in for $50 at True Poker, and all I've really wanted was a shot at a WSOP tournament -- any WSOP tournament. A little chunk of reflected greatness? Maybe it's just that silly. Here's me, just another tourist.

True Poker led to Pacific Poker, which led to Poker Stars and Full Tilt poker, and that's where I stayed until a month ago. That was when both of those sites -- really the only sites left in the US market that mattered -- had been raided by the feds, their funds seized, their U.S.-facing players locked out. Poker was dead in the country that had seen its modern development and birthed it's boom. Poker, against the law in the USA? You may as well deport the Statue of Liberty, that French immigrant, while you're at it. But the death of poker had meant the forced cashout of my funds. I had money on those sites, grown slowly over the years from gradually increasing skill and good bankroll management. I hadn't been able to get my money off Tilt yet -- and, though it was concerning the way they were dragging their heels and not really getting information about the holdup out to players, surely that was a temporary situation. On the happy side I'd had enough on Stars to cover me for trip, hotel, and buyin in one of the smaller tournaments, and Stars paid off quickly and easily, and the check cleared with no problems.

And now, I was going to take my good bankroll management money and blow it all on one shot at glory. By the summer of 2011 I'd played in perhaps thousands of tournaments, so I had few illusions about my chances, even if the level of the play were as bad as I hoped. In order to win a tournament with thousands of runners, you first have to play very well, and then you have to get really really lucky, and you have to keep playing very very well while all the while hoping that you continue to get really really lucky. It's just a fact of tournament poker. I'll put it to you like this: Imagine you get a change to take a bet for all your chips getting a 90% chance to win. You'd take it, right? The answer is 'Yes.' This isn't a trick question. But think of this, now. To take that bet is to lose one time in ten. And to play a tournament with more than a thousand runners is to take that bet more than ten times. Oh and also? You're not going to be getting 90% every time. Not even if you're really good. Sometimes it will be correct to take 40%. 30%. Um...so, yeah, get lucky. That's tournament poker. Be really good, then get lucky. If you're not really good, you don't even get the chance to be lucky. Unless you're Darvin Moon.

Poker players are different than non-poker players in many ways, but in this way particularly: Poker players are far, far warier of the one-in-one-thousand chance at disaster. Us poker players, we've seen thousands of one-in-one-thousand disasters. They're more common than you'd imagine. I think medical professionals probably understand what I'm talking about. My point is that I was flushing my money. But more than that, I knew I was probably flushing the money. I'd explained this to my wife. She and I both decided to let me do something insane anyway.

I walked into what I thought at the time was the Amazon (it was actually the adjacent Convention Hall), and stopped for a second. In a bad novel, I'd inhale sharply at this point. This wasn't a bad novel, so I simply met a madness for which my senses were unprepared while attempting nonchalance. The Rio Convention Hall during the WSOP is full of an Escheresque tablescape of felt and chairs to what feels like the horizonline. If heaven (or hell) were a cardroom, it would be a cardroom with this sort of insane telescopic dreamscape scope. Thousands of tables? Maybe. Probably. Millions of them? Probably not, but with the proper medication you could convince me of it. The first thing I thought was, "This looks like an illusion." And here's the thing: I didn't even realize that this wasn't the only room. The tables are split into sections by color: Yellow, white, black, red, green, tan. Each color split into banks of poker tables, each with its own number suspended above it; 12, 127 289.  Thousands of tables? Yes.

One side of the room was devoted to an ongoing tournament, but the other was given to cash games, poor stuck bastards trying to win their lost buyin back and bored tournament jockeys whiling the time away until the next events. Somewhere in that sea of chittering chips and plastic squares sat a friend I'd never met. CMitch, poker blogger and BBT (RIP)regular, who would be playing in my event.

I'm here, I texted. Mitch texted back his coordinates, and I walked there.

"Red shirt, glasses. And I'm behind you." I texted Mitch, then waited for him to check his phone, which he shortly did, and then look behind him, which he did immediately thereafter.

It's spiritually vertiginous to me whenever I meet a blogger. You need to understand this, these are people I actually know. I've met their minds, the selves they've presented to the world, but I've never met them physically. Now here we are, in real life, and now we two, so accustomed to virtual interaction, must content with the physical actuality of one another. Already friends, but also meeting for the first time. This is what technology has made of us. If I ever make a WPBT, parts of my wiring will likely short-circuit permanently from the existential tango. Much like a first encounter with the vast pokeresquitude of the Amazon room, I try to approach this madness for which my senses are unprepared with seeming nonchalance. I have no idea to what extent I was successful. Mitch was the third blogger I've ever met (to answer the question you're likely asking, 1. Hoy and 2. Pauly), and it was odd, the oddness alleviated significantly by the fact that Mitch is about the most laid back and friendly sort of person you could ever hope to meet. Obviously a person comfortable in his own skin, obviously somebody who knew their way around The Poker. I was me. You'll have to ask Mitch what that's all about. Probably I'm not quite the same as the person I am on the page. Perhaps I'm not at all the same, I don't know. I try to act all cool and shit here on the page. In real life, I'm much more stammer-y and awkward.

Mitch bought me a beer from one of the stands out in the hallway, and showed me around. We went to the actual Amazon ballroom (where I saw my first real live Poker Pro Celebrity: Eskimo Clarke) and took me up into the stands of the main stage (colloquially known as the Mother Ship), the sort of neon fever dream that Regis Philbin must have had after eating unrefrigerated taquitos and pulling a 20 hr. shift on the set of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Who wants to be a millionare? Friggin everybody in this whole town. Specifically anybody in this particular room. We'd all come from around the country, around the world, from other dimensions (I'm thinking now primarly of Phil Laak) for precisely that purpose. Mitch and I watched part of the final table. I recognized Elky. He didn't recognize me. A row of studious sorts typed furiously at their laptops. I knew by the odds that at least one of them was probably a friend of mine, but I had no idea which ones. Pauly I'd have known, but I didn't see Pauly. If I had seen him, I would no more have approached him than I'd have tried to take a steak from a Laplander's food dish. These people were focused.

It was time to buy in. Event 48. We walked to the...what was it? Not the cage. Or at least, not a traditional cage. I laid down 13 crisp one hundred dollar bills and two that were kind of folded up and mangy-looking. I'd prepared myself for this moment. An act of insanity. A flushing of fifteen hundred. I could afford it -- but why would I afford it?

I had wondered that to myself, in the months leading up to that moment, as it all came into focus and became real to me.

I've wondered it many times in the months thereafter.

The best answer I can devise is this:

Because.

Because I guess I am a poker player of some kind. And because if you're a poker player of any kind, eventually you come here, to this place. Hopefully with your eyes open. I think mine were. As I laid down the bills. I knew my chances, even if I were much more skilled than the field. Not good. And yet, for whatever reason, this is what I felt compelled to do. Even though I knew it was likely that the money was gone -- even though in fact I had already considered it gone in my financial thinking over a month prior -- I still felt good about it. I still do.

I am Julius_Goat. I've played in the World Series of Poker.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Breaking Of The Fellowship

I'll stay a week or two/I'll stay the summer through/But I am telling you/I must be going
-Groucho Marx

_________

Andy Rooney outlived poker blogs.  Sad, but true.

"Don't worry. You can still follow me at
@OuchMyLungsggglllrrrrgghle.twitter.com"
I frequently survive on limited sleep. It's the way I'm wired. This comes in handy when you like to write but you have many daytime responsibilities, but it also opens you up to any number of interesting anthropological environments. By way of example, let me suggest to you a sight well-known to the collegiate amnesiac; the party after the party has fallen apart. Four AM after a rage reveals a grotesquery of detritus and incriminating evidence; floors sticky from cheap beer spillage, empty cases torn open and sodden in the corner, new stains on the carpeting, a half-passed out unfortunate on the couch with clown features and obscenities Sharpied onto his face. It'll be fun for him when he wakes up and runs to his scheduled meeting with his girlfriend's parents, failing to realize that he's been festively festooned.

That's us, now, poker bloggery poking around the leavings of the party, ever since the fuzz showed up on tax day, two thousand eleven, and cut the head right off of online poker in the United States. The fun was here, but now all that's left is carnage.  It's OK. Parties have to end. But it's always a shame when they end because the cops came to break it up. It's even worse when what the cops find is worse than what you'd thought.

What's become of us, anyway?  Remember blogging? Remember when everybody was writing long-form pieces and commenting and starting blogger drama and all the whatnot with the whadyacallit? Sure, I know that we still have Pai Gow and slots and pokies at the WPBT gatherings in winter, but come on. This was always a virtual group, especially for those of us who don't get over Vegas way that much. And sure, we're still out there in the tubes, in one form or another, but our linchpin was the ability to play cards together, and that's gone, baby, gone. We're all drifting our own ways, and one by one, many of us are slipping off unnoticed. Nowadays, on the increasingly infrequent times I fire up Blogger to make it happen I feel like the guy picking through the beer cans and taking the cap off the Sharpie.

"Um, yeeeah. I'd love to read your novel. Um, I just, um...hey,
what's that behind you?"
I'm writing a lot, these days. At this pace, I'll have a novel in a year or so, and I am quite happy with the quality of what I've pulled out of me so far. This is very exciting news to me, if to nobody else. It's easy to write in these morning hours after the party has passed, but I still miss the revel that preceded it. I think of some of the things that I posted in this space as the best I've yet done, and I think of the support and encouragement that I found here as the main reason that I continued on. And so, as I look forward to what this blog will become, I find that today I come to bury and praise Caesar, to remember what was.


Remember a whole week full of blogger tournaments? MATH followed by Skillz followed by the Mookie/Dank followed by something or other followed by the Donkament?  Remember? Remember when we could play online games in a reputable online casino? A whole night's fun for a lousy ten bucks and all the chat you could type? Remember Waffles, or Maniac35784 as he liked to be known? Remember tilting him and then jawing for hours about it? Remember calling all-in with the JackAce just in hopes that Hoy would expend 10,567 words on your idiocy the next morning?

Let's remember all of the blogs that have gone dark, or at least gray. If I forget you here, don't feel bad, which you won't. You don't read blogs anymore anyway. So few outside established media writers are left and still putting out regular posts. If I am still in touch with a blogger regularly these days, it is doubtless through Twitter or perhaps Facebook. Nothing against that platform, but man. What happened to the other one? Did we have to offshore everything to the social media circus?

Remember Fuel? Iakaris? JJOK? Katitude? Jecmiid? SNGMachine? Kajagugu? Raisin' Cayne? GCox? Riggstad? Skiddoo? Miami Don? Bayne? Up For Poker? Al Can't Freaking Hang?

Hey, if you're on that list and you want me to link you, just hit me up in the chat and I'll oh yeah nobody really cares if they get linked to their blog anymore.

Hey guys, remember Uberposts? Come back to the five and dime, Blogfather, Blogfather.On second thought, don't. There's no poker to discuss, anyway.  Let's just chill on Twitter. I'll retweet your back if you'll retweet mine.

"Co-mingling player funds? That's as frightening
as one of Gimli's mutton farts."
Remember when Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer and Rafe Furst were unquestionably stand-up guys? Remember Full Tilt? I miss Full Tilt. I miss thinking it was what I thought it was. I bet I'm not alone on that. Now I don't even get to remember it the way I remembered it. Did that make sense? If not, no matter. I'm insane half the time now anyway.

So the question becomes, what happens next?  I am pretty sure I owe you months of awesome and crazy. I think it's probably time for Retroactive Oscars of the 80s. I even have some rather unusual ideas about this book I'm writing.  Look, I've been in this space for five years as of New Year's Day 2012. I've got no intention of stopping just because I've got nothing left to say about poker.

Nothing? Well, not entirely nothing. I guess I'd better start by belatedly telling you about my WSOP.  Stay tuned, and stick around.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Blink

For the first time ever, I have re-watched the footage.  I told myself that this would be the day I’d do it.  I think this was it for me.  I don’t need to see that again.

I was sitting at my desk, working in the same historical-district house I work in today; working on the beginnings of a project that still consumes chunks of my days, in fact.  The difference is that then I the new guy. I hadn’t been there for slightly more than a decade.  I’d been there for three whole weeks. 

The house is one of those old large-frame Victorian numbers that were built to hold a family back when a family was fourteen kids, and grandma, too.  We were scattered throughout it, and I was in what must once have been the living room.  People had lived their lives right where I sat, listening to music and editing a series of dry documents. Occasionally, the flash of an IM window from a co-worker in another part of the house.  The chatter of the day.  Blink. Blink. Blink.

Did you transfer the regs file?
Yeah.
Check this link out. Funny stuff.

People had lived their lives, right where I sat.  Gone now.  I wasn’t thinking of that.  I was thinking of deadlines.  The light blinked, an instant message.

Somebody flew a plane into the World Trade Center.

I typed back:

Drunk?

Of course I knew about the attempt on the towers back in 1993.  The one that failed; of course it had failed.  The idea, to take down the twin towers, was laughable.  I wasn’t even thinking of that. I was thinking a one-engine plane with a drunk or suicidal pilot.  I was thinking minor damage. 

I went back to work.

About a half hour, another blink.

The tower is on fire. It's spreading.
Out of control?
Yeah. They can’t get people out.  People are jumping.

How much damage can a little plane do? I thought.  Unnerved, but with nothing else to do, I went back to work.  Happy for the distraction.  Five minutes later, blink:

Another plane hit the other tower.
What?


My headphones were still on. At that moment, I heard the words that still make me feel cold:

Can’t stop what’s coming. Can’t stop what is already here.

That’s when I quit work for the day.  It was around 10:00 AM.


I watched the towers go down with my new co-workers, still strangers to me. We watched from a small television that my new boss had kept in an empty room we were using for storage.   We watched hundreds of firemen running in. A hundred times we saw the plane hitting the second tower. The towers lit up like candles, like torches. Any hope that this may have been some grotesque accident was lost as we heard that the Pentagon had been hit.  Everybody thought, but nobody said, Just how many commercial aircraft are in the air at any given time, anyway?  There was speculation that perhaps, probably not, but perhaps, the towers might collapse if the fires weren’t put out. It seemed silly. The damage was immense, but once the fire was put out…

Then, blink, blink, one and then the other of the towers came down in a waterfall of smoke, and everything shifted.  In that moment, we left one world and entered into the reality in which we now find ourselves.

In a previous life, my boss had been a Customs broker, hustling for business in those towers.  “There was literally nowhere in the world like it,” he’d tell me, later.  “You could go there for four hours and have twenty meetings. You could leave with your next year’s clients.”  When the first tower went down he made a sound unlike any I’ve heard anybody else make before.  The sort of sound you make, perhaps, when your father is shot in front of you, or when you see a child hit by a mortar shell.  The sound of atrocity beyond words.  The sound you make when something impossibly bad occurs, when the floorboards of reality turn to quicksand. 

In way, I feel as though he groaned for us all in that moment, as something foundational happened to the collective ‘us’. I felt a quiet numbness go over me. Nobody knew anything, and I knew even less than they did.  If this could happen, then anything could happen.  This could be it, I remember thinking.  This could actually be it. If this happened today, what might happen tomorrow?

Before, we couldn’t conceive of such a thing happening, and that was our weakness. Sometimes you can’t stop what is coming. 

Now, we can conceive of little else, and that is our weakness. All we want, quite understandably, is Not That Again, and at times it appears that no price will be too high for even a hint of a promise of a chance at Not That Again. Sometimes, you can’t stop what is already here.



I don’t remember driving home, but since I eventually found myself home, I suppose I must have.  I sat on the couch and waited for my wife to wake up.  A nurse, she worked the night shift.

She woke up and came out of our room into the living room.  Me, sitting on the couch, in a different universe. 

“Hey,” she said. “How was your day?”

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Greatest Movie Character of 1990-1999 004: Round 1, Heat 4

Clarice Starling Division - Round 1, Heat 4


______________________________________________



Eric Draven, The Crow

You're killed by a group of thugs after watching them rape and murder the love of your life the night before your wedding. What does one do? They come back from the dead with preternatural powers and one of the most iconic makeup jobs of moviedom and take revenge, obviously.

The Crow was an instant cult hit. It hurled "goth" into the mainstream (again), launched a hit for the Stone Temple Pilots, and made Brandon Lee a legend. Yes, his tragic death on-set contributed largely to both his status and the film's success, but Eric Draven could have well launched him out of bad B-movie action and into the mainstream. The character was SO successful that it was brought back for 3 sequels and an upcoming remake, even though the actor who portrayed the protagonist was long gone.

Crow masks were everywhere, t-shirts were sold like mad, WCW ripped the character right off when it remade Sting in his image. The black-and-white harlequin that was a reborn Eric Draven was inescapable. Here was the ultimate anti-hero on a mission of righteous vengeance - unstoppable, superpowered, and tortured.

Let's face it, if Micky Knox had killed Shelly, Draven would have made short of work of him. 17 years later, that face is still cool, and people still know what it means - sometimes, good people come back to get the justice denied them in life.

- Astin


Mickey Knox
, Natural Born Killers

(Note: Riggstad is busy campaigning for Barack Obama 2012. . If  he gets a spare moment, he'll give us his take on Mickey Knox.  In the meantime, we'll just point out that Mickey Knox is a well-acted character in an iconic movie, not some drippy emo Robert Smith from The Cure wannabe who can't even take a single bullet. Vote accordingly.)

______________________________________________


Tommy DeVito, Goodfellas

"Are you kidding me?  Are you f***ng kidding me? Who is this crewcut retard they're sending out here to whack me? To whack me?  With his little f***ng golf clubs and his little f***ng opera man voice, listen to him, sounds like he's gonna cry, get outta here ya little f***ng ****kn***gler*** of a gl****blerch**** before I wrap that mothercr***ng golf club around your ugly little Caddyshack pl***unking head for you, you f***ng cry***ler****gle. I'll show you a hole in one, you fu*k*ng larchbl****ck, call ya mother and I'll show her a hole in one and my f**king hat trick, too. Now go home to Bob Barker and cry into your pillow for a week."



Happy Gilmore, Happy Gilmore

"The price is WRONG bitch!"

I LOVE this matchup. Tommy DeVito, the foul-mouthed nutjob gangster of Goodfellas vs Happy Gilmore, the foul-mouthed nutjob golfer of, well, Happy Gilmore. Two psychos facing off, only one victor. Let's do this.

Happy Gilmore quotes:

Shooter McGavin: Just stay out of my way... or you'll pay! LISTEN to what I say!
Happy Gilmore: Hey, why don't I just go eat some hay, make things out of clay, lay by the bay? I just may! What'd ya say?

Shooter McGavin: You're in big trouble though, pal. I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast!
Happy Gilmore: You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?
Shooter McGavin: ... No!

Terry: All you ever talk about is becoming a pro hockey player, but there's a problem: you're not any good.
Happy Gilmore: I am good. You know what, you're a lousy kindergarten teacher. I've seen those finger-paintings you bring home and they SUCK.

"You little son of a bitch ball! Why you don't you just go HOME? That's your HOME! Are you too good for your HOME? ANSWER ME! SUCK MY WHITE ASS, BALL!"

"Golf requires goofy pants and a fat ass."

"Hey, if I saw myself in clothes like that, I'd have to kick my own ass."

And of course the one at the top, spoken to one Bob Barker.


Tommy DeVito Quotes:

"Fuck you in the fucking fuck fuck fuckity fuck fuck. Clown."

"I am somehow amusing like a painted-face harlequin one would find in a circus or carnival environment? I commend you on your pointed compliment sir."

Or something like that.

Both are loose cannons, ready to explode at any provocation, real or imagined. But Happy IS funny and turns what seems like a truly idiotic movie into a classic piece of comedy. This is the movie that made Adam Sandler's post-SNL career. Pesci was already known by the time Goodfellas came around, and let's face it - Pesci, De Niro, Liotta in a gangster movie directed by Scorsese? That's hard to screw up.

It's not easy to knock Tommy, so I'll go for the one area that he lacks - growth. Happy Gilmore goes from hockey playing thug who has no direction and beats up everyone into a zen master of golfing. He endures personal tragedy and comes out the other side with an acceptance and maturity that seemed unachievable at first. What? This was the template for every Sandler character? Yah, but Happy did it early, and better than his predecessor, Billy Madison. By the end of the film, Happy is still Happy, but the rough edges have smoothed a bit.

Tommy? By the end of the movie he's *SPOILER ALERT* dead. Why? Because he refused to change. He showed no capacity for growth as a person and paid the price for his hubris. This isn't a tragic death, nor a hero's death. This is the inevitable end for a violent psychopath in an environment of violence. If only he'd discovered golf.



______________________________________________




Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story

Malcolm X was one of the most fascinating figures in the last century of U.S. history.  As a movie character . . . eh, not so much.

Buzz Lightyear, on the other hand, is the sparkplug that juices one of the most successful and influential movie franchises of all times. Buzz is the heart. Buzz is the soul.  Buzz is the nutball who doesn't know he's a toy, until he embraces his destiny entirely.  He's the perfect toy, because he's so totally committed to the game, he doesn't always even know it is a game.  Also, on Spanish setting, he's a hell of a flamenco dancer.

Vote for Buzz over Malcom, citizen.  No one man should have all that power.

- Julius_Goat


Malcolm X
, Malcolm X


(Note: Riggstad is on assignment with the Peace Corp, helping to save the baby seals from corporate interests. Don't judge him; he can kill you with a magazine. If  he gets a spare moment, he'll give us his take on Brother Malcolm.  In the meantime, we'll just say that if you can't vote for one of the most electrifying performances of the decade and one of the most amazing and uniquely American individuals of all time, instead of a cartoon toy, well, brother, you can't see the clear glass of water in front of you.)

______________________________________________



Phil Connors, Groundhog Day

My favorite movie of all time, with my favorite character of all time. 

The "process of living" often gets in the way of the actual living of life.  The alarm clock rings, we shovel some food in our mouth and rush off to work for 8 hours a day.  Drive home, eat again, clean up.  Take a shower. Maybe you squeeze a workout in there or a tv show.  Head on the pillow, and the alarm clocks rings again.  Shovel some more food in, off to work again.

Life can become an infinite loop of the same boring activities if you let it.

Phil: What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered? 
Ralph: That about sums it up for me. 

Like Phil Connors, we're all stuck in the same place every day.  Most of us have to wake up at the same time every day, go to the same job, see the same people, and sit in the same meetings.  So how do we escape this sameness?  How do we embrace the routine and make our life worth living?  

Like Phil, we fight.  We fight against the sameness, we fight against accepting that our life consists of a routine that can imprison us.  We fight for freedom and for dignity.  We fight against death.

Phil Connors is a fighter, and Groundhog Day takes us through the 5 stages of accepting his own mortality.

Stage 1: Denial — "I feel fine."; "This can't be happening, not to me."
Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of possessions and individuals that will be left behind after death.

Yeah, Sport,I know there's a blizzard. 
                   
When are the long-distance lines gonna be repaired?
                   
What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today.
                   
Hello?

Stage 2: Anger — "Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"; '"Who is to blame?"
Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy.

I was in the Virgin Islands once. I met a girl. We ate lobster, drank piƱa coladas. At sunset, we made love like sea otters.
*That* was a pretty good day. Why couldn't I get *that* day over, and over, and over... 

Stage 3: Bargaining — "Just let me live to see my children graduate."; "I'll do anything for a few more years."; "I will give my life savings if..."
The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the individual is saying, "I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time..."

What I wanted to say was...
              
I think you're the kindest, sweetest, prettiest person...

I've ever met in my life.
I've never seen anyone... that's nicer to people than you are.
The first time I saw you... something happened to me.
                   
I never told you, but... I knew that I wanted to hold you as hard as I could.

I don't deserve someone like you.
But if I ever could...
I swear I would love you...

for the rest of my life.

Stage 4: Depression — "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "I'm going to die... What's the point?"; "I miss my loved one, why go on?"
During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.

This is pitiful.          
A thousand people freezing their butts off, waiting to worship a rat.           
What a hype. Groundhog Day used to mean something in this town.               
They used to pull the hog out and eat it!
You're hypocrites, all of you!
You got a problem with what I'm saying?
Untie your tongue, and you come out here and talk.
Am I upsetting you, Princess?
You want a prediction about the weather, you're asking the wrong Phil. 
I'll give you a winter prediction.
It's gonna be cold...
it's gonna be gray...
and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life.

Stage 5: Acceptance — "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it."
In this last stage, the individual begins to come to terms with her/his mortality or that of a loved one.

When Chekhov saw the long winter...he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope.         
Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life.          
But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney... and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts...
I couldn't imagine a better fate...than a long and lustrous winter.
From Punxsutawney, it's Phil Connors.       
So long.

***
The fact that Bill Murray can take us through the five stages of grief, while making us laugh really hard, is what makes his character so memorable.

-HDouble


Donald "Sully" Sullivan, Nobody's Fool

This is Paul Newman in his last great role, and it's one of his very best.  More believable than Cool Hand Luke, more relateable than Fast Eddie Felson, more likable than Hud, Newman settles into the skin of perennial loser and hereditary bad father Sully like a pair of broken-in work boots, and, because he's Paul Newman, he's also the coolest guy in town (and Bruce Willis is in town).  Sully lives in an old town in upstate New York that's just like him -- hard working, but everybody knows nothing will ever come of it.

Sully walked out on his wife and kids. He's got a bum knee. He doesn't have more than a couple of twenties to rub together. He let the family house rot to pieces out of spite for his old man.  He'll punch a policeman rather than stop driving on the sidewalk. But he's the only guy who can coax the demented old lady off the snowy road, and he does it by charming her. He'll even help the old lady's daughter by taking over at the local diner while she tends to her mother's feet.

Here's the thing about Sully. He's a total screwup. He's about the best guy you'll ever meet.

I expect that Phil will beat Sully in this matchup.  Groundhog Day is by far the more popular movie, and Murray is admittedly great in it. But if you're one of the lucky handful that has seen Nobody's Fool, I bet you are voting for Sully.

- Julius_Goat



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Your Weekly Dose of Crazy

So here's a supposedly insane thing that I'll never do in the first place.



This is perfectly safe except for literally everything.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Doodle 008

This is Plato. Plato is a superhero. He can make any part of his body whatever size he wants it. He uses this innate skill to fight the forces of evil, whenever he can find it. It's not easy to find the forces of evil.  You try it, sometime, and see how you like it.

Still, he's got real powers. Mass control. The only problem with this is the Law of Conservation of Mass, which Plato must follow. This means that, if he wants to make one part of his body big, he needs to make other parts of his body correspondingly small, and vice versa.

So, as you can see here, he's sporting some big ol' arms. But he had to shrink his legs down to get them.

That's how it goes when you are a superhero bound by the basic laws of physics.

I'm still pretty bad at hands. That's how it goes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Dangerous Book For Boys

Another serious Formspring question that I think needs to be replicated here as a public service, what with all the witch and wizard worship in our popular culture nowadays.

_______________

My son wants to read Harry Potter, and yet I don't want him to become demon possessed. What should I do?



First of all, I really must, in all good conscience, strongly discourage you from taking this dangerous course. As everybody knows, the Harry Potter books are drenched in demons and can turn a child from a Precious Moments figurine into a latter-day Charlie Sheen within pages.

However, if you will not be persuaded, I will tell you how you might 'clean' a Harry Potter book that you get from your nearest devil-mall. (I trust you are not foolish enough to keep these books in your house!) You are going to need to perform a demonic extraction, for which you require the following items:

(1) a hydraulic vice with computerized pressure controls and digital readout

(2) an autographed picture of either Barbara Bush or Sarah Palin [1]

(3) a King James Bible

(4) first hardcover printings of the entire "Left Behind" series

(5) a vial of Glenn Beck's tears [2]

(6) a very sharp Exacto knife

(7) heavy-duty rubber gloves and respirator

(8) a welder's helmet

INSTRUCTIONS

First put on the gloves and respirator.

Next, you will want to use Glenn Beck's tears to consecrate the vise. Instructions for this can be found by inspecting the first two words of every 7th page of each of Beck's scholarly books (not the novels) in reverse order by publication date.

Next, use the knife to carefully cut out each page of your demonic Harry Potter book. Discard the cover, which is where most of the demons are found (most scientists [3] agree that there can be as many as 30, 50 or even 100 times as many demons in a cover as in a single page).

Perform the following steps for each page of each book:

Place the book between the autographed picture and the King James Bible. Place the entire grouping into the vise and tighten to exactly 77.7 psi for 7.7 hours. Put the page in between the pages of the Left Behind series, which will provide a sterile environment for the pages [4].

The pages are now almost entirely demon free! [5] Since you have no regard whatsoever for your child's soul, they may now put on the welder's helmet and read the devil-loving liberal Satan book with minimal risk of infection. (for extra safety, play some lite Christian pop music while reading).

WARNING: IT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you have your child read the pages within one day of this procedure! The pages WILL re-accrue demons by their very nature. BE SURE TO DESTROY THE PAGES WITH FLAMES IMMEDIATELY AFTER THEY ARE READ. The ashes will still be highly dangerous. Scatter them in California, because let's face it, what's the difference?

_______________________

FOOTNOTES

[1] Photos of other members of the Palin household, such as Willow, Trig, Bristol, Scratch, Fudge, and Big Country, can be used, but we recommend doubling the application time. DO NOT use a photograph of Levi Johnson.

[2] I know what you are thinking. You're thinking, "Wouldn't Ronald Reagan's tears be more effective?" The answer is, of course, yes. Ronald Reagan's tears obviously would be much more effective, but if you think allowing your brats to read an Evil Book is a good use of our country's greatest treasure, then you go march over to the Heritage Foundation and tell them why you want to stop making the country safe from Muslim vampires. That's what I thought.

[3] We mean of course real scientists, not common charlatans and voodoo doctors. For purposes of clarity, we define 'real scientists' as 'scientists who consulted on the Creationist Museum.'

[4] Remember to throw away the Left Behind books after this process. Though sterile, they will have absorbed trace quantities of demonic influence and thus may now contain watermarked images of Barack Obama.

[5] According to FDA regulations which allow up to 3 parts per 10 million of demon in printed materials. If that's good enough for you, then by all means let your child expose themselves to JK Rowling's Instruction Manual For Little Satanists.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The South Also Rises

Note: I didn't include this Q&A from my latest Formspring round-up for a few reasons. First, it's really really long, and that post was long enough already. Secondly, it's totally different in tone from the typical sardonic smart-assery and I figured it would be jarring. But finally, I really am curious what people think about this issue, and in particular I want to be educated about what Southerners think about the Civil War today. So have at it, Southerners.

Are you still doing political-type questions? Because i have one. On NPR today a guy said, Violence was the only way to end slavery, because pacifism wasn't going to work." As a pacifist, i want to disagree. Opinions?

Before getting to the meat of the question, there are a few points that need to be made for clarification.

First, we have sadly been learning more and more about how alive slavery is today, so it very unfortunately can't be said that slavery has been ended in the world. I presume the caller was referring to the violence of the Civil War, and the ending of legally recognized institutionalized slavery in the United States.

It should also be pointed out that the Civil War was not technically fought over slavery -- it was fought over the secession of the Confederate states, and the federal government's unwillingness to allow them to do it. Of course, the trigger for secession itself was the abolition of slavery represented by the Emancipation Proclamation, so clearly slavery was involved, but it is a point worth making that the war itself was not directly fought over slavery.

However, it is clear that it took the Civil War to stop secession, bring the seceding slave-holding states back into the Union (some slave-holding states did not secede), and end slavery at that particular moment in time. So I think it needs to be conceded even by staunch pacifists that it took violence to end institutionalized slavery in the United States at that particular time.

What would have happened without violence? It's pretty much impossible to say, but I think we can make a few fairly safe assumptons.

First, slavery would have continued in the Confederate States of America for a period of time following secession. How long is a total guess, but I would have to think, given how violently civil rights was contested in the United States (and particularly in the South) up until the 1960s, that it would have been many decades, maybe even a century.

Secondly, it seems almost unfathomable that slavery would not have ended in the Confederacy at some point. Even by the early 1800s, many European nations were outlawing slavery. Britain in particular was entering into dozens (I think) of pacts with various countries to end or curtail the slave trade. By the 1860s, the world mood was generally one of abolition, with the United States one of several notable holdouts. So imagine if you will the level of animosity, sanction, and pressure leveled by the international political and economic community against a nation in (let's say) 1971 that still believed in buying and selling human beings as though they were livestock, which is essentially what they were under the law. Imagine South African circa 1980, but worse. It's hard to imagine a country not caving in to this pressure eventually, via comparatively more peaceful means, as South Africa did. And of course, then would begin the long and tumultuous process of Jim Crow laws and segregation and institutionalized racism and disenfranchisement -- but five or seven or fifteen decades behind schedule, and with all that extra corrosive water under the bridge, to boot.

(Incidentally, if any of my Southern friends would like to educate me on the true causes and motivations behind the War of Northern Aggression, and why they think -- if they do think this -- that the South being allowed to secede would have been a long-term good thing for the South, I am quite sincerely all ears. It seems like it would have been a total friggin' disaster for the Confederacy.)

So, I don't think that I would agree with that NPR caller that violence was necessary to end legal institutionally recognized slavery in the United States. Justice will win in the end. It's sort of a tortoise and the hare thing. Violence was 'merely' necessary to end it right at that moment in history. But the ramifications of letting that string play out would have been momentous, and logically it seems unlikely that the effects would have been positive. Ask a descendant of slavery if they think it would have been favorable to keep that institution around for another 70 years or so. Be careful how you word the question, though.

But more than that, it's possible that the world that we now inhabit, so hostile to slavery, might not exist in the same form today that it now does. To give just one obvious example, during the amazing upheavals of the two World Wars, the United States as it was composed would not exist. We would have been two countries -- one industrialized, urban, and perhaps like the United States as we understand it to have been at that time, but certainly greatly diminished by its loss, and the other agrarian, slave-holding, and as a result almost certainly alienated from other European countries (such as France and particularly Britain), with whom we aligned ourselves in those conflicts, and perhaps, just maybe, more amenable to a doctrine of race purity. It's difficult to know what worlds may have turned upon the decision to go to war with the Confederacy over secession.

That is a lot of speculation, especially at the end. But I don't think I'm going too far afield with it. I think we pacifists may have to wrestle with the fact that sometimes a thing is so unjust that ending it immediately is the best outcome, even if violence is the tool used to arrive at that outcome.

Then again, without violence, perhaps something even better would have occurred. It just doesn't seem likely.

To answer your other question: Yes. I'm still answering political questions.


As always, your questions answered here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Your Weekly Dose of Awesome

OK, this guy is crazy. Either he wins the respect and admiration of a small group of competitive belly-flop aficionados, or he breaks his everything bone.

But the fact that this is even possible? Awesome. Damn, physics. You all right.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Your Weekly Dose of Crazy

(Infomercial + organ music/0.25 speed)glow effect = creeping dread.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Best of Formspring 003

Once again, actual questions by one or (maybe) more actual people.

Want to get your questions answered in a similarly glib or obsessive manner?

Just click here.

___________________


Bigger threat to humanity: 10 flesh-eating butterflies, or 100 metal-eating butterflies?

This is seriously an excellent question. However many of you are asking questions out there, realize that the bar has once again been set.

OK, let's delve into this. Here's what we need to figure out:

1) What are humans made of?

2) Is it good for humans to be eaten?

If humans are made of metal, or if being eaten is by and large good for humanity, then I'd be inclined to call the metal-eating butterflies the greatest threat. If the opposite turns out to be true, then I'd have to say flesh-eating.

But not so fast! There are other questions to consider!

1) How much flesh can a flesh-eating butterfly eat?

2) How much metal can a metal-eating butterfly eat?

3) How big is each type of butterfly?

4) How aggressive is each type of butterfly? Do they ONLY eat metal or flesh, respectively, or can they eat other things? How much do they want to eat metal or flesh, respectively.

We're going to need these answers before I make a definitive statement on this. I mean, normally a bunch of butterflies running around eating the flesh off our bones in a crazy flesh-eating swarm would seem to pose a much bigger threat than a bit of metal being eaten. ON THE OTHER HAND a flesh-eater that lands, munches a single dead skin cell, and then flies off would be nothing next to a monstrosity the size of a 747 eating the Golden Gate Bridge.

And may God have mercy on us all.


yo yo yo yo yo where me peeps at yo?

I am trying to figure out if you are a pirate or Flava Flav. Or is Flava Flav a pirate? Can we get a ruling on this?


What are you doing for the 4th?

I plead the 5th.


If James Madison (president in 1812) and William Howard Taft (president in 1912) were able to run in 2012 - who would win?

I'm pretty sure that William Howard Taft was never able to run. Have you seen a picture of that guy?


Would you rather take a personal check , or a check personal?

Listen, let me tell you something. If you can't spot the personal check within one hour of sitting down, you ARE the personal check.


Did you know you had a cult following in japan?

Is this like a Germany/Hasselhoff thing? Because if I find out I have one more thing in common with Hasselfhoff, I'm legally entitled to some of his "Knight Rider" residual checks.


Who writes your material?

All my material is lovingly calligraphied by Oompa Loompas.



Re donuts healthier than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick?

I think I am accidentally being CC'd on your memos to either the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man or Charlie Manson. Either way, I'd like off this Listserv.



Do unsalted pretzels go to the same heaven salted ones do?

Unsalted pretzels go to hell, as Jesus said, "Every one will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other."

Uh oh. I've gone crazy again.


What to you is the most erotic part of a lawnmower?

This is a fantastic question. The old "are you a blade man or are you a pull cord man?" Personally, I'm into every part of the lawnmower, but I really get turned on by the grass bag.



can you make us laugh? can you make us cry?

Yes. And I can do both with a hammer.



Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs. What's wrong with that?

Nothing, nothing at all. But let me ask you this, smart guy. When the world is full of these love songs, where will I put my shoes?



How was your uneventful trip to Pakistan?

You misheard me. I visited my UNCLE Stan. What's weird is that Osama bin Laden was there.



What do you think about "everybody draw Mohammed day" on Facebook? did you join the group yet?


I don't have a ton of thoughts about it. On the one hand, I think in a free society all free speech, even (especially) free speech that some find offensive, is and must be protected, and violent reactions, even to the most offensive of speech, are always inappropriate. On the other, I think it is wise, appropriate, and just plain good manners not to offend that which is sacred to others. I certainly support the "Everybody Draw Mohammad Day" Facebook page participant's right to take part, but I have no intention of doing so.



Do you believe in fairies?

You're not getting a gay joke out of me, fella.



What's your favorite nursery rhyme?

Baby Got Back



what if god was one of us?

Then he'd owe Joan Osbourne royalties. I think the more interesting question is: What if God were one of THEM?


Are you experienced?

No, I won't be experienced until I've finished becoming perienced. The periencing process is long and arduous, but at the end I will get a cherry 81 Chevette that has only been puked in one time!



How would you go about taking the measurement of a stick?


First, I'd get the stick and affix it firmly in a vice. Then, I'd get myself a good quality measuring tape. Then I'd get the fire ants. I'd glue the fire ants one by one in a long line, noticing how many fire ants made up a foot/inch/cm, and so forth. Then I'd have a sandwich. Then I'd hold the fire ant stick against the stick I was measuring, count the ants, and make the needed calculations.

Once I knew the answer, I'd probably tell the king, so he knew if his stick was long enough for the limbo contest. And then, I don't know, I guess I'd just go hang out with the court jester or something.



favorite Simpsons episodes?

That is like asking me which is my favorite child. In both cases, the answer is "Homer vs. Sexual Harassment."



If you were in the army, what rank do you think you could reach?

Rank Amateur.



If you were in the navy, what rank do you think you could reach?

Master Chief Blinky McGurk



Who's your favorite religious leader?

Cotton Mathers is a favorite, but I think we're sometimes a little hard on his son, Jerry.



How much will you pay for a handful of magic beans?

I will pay you up to $4 million, depending on the quality and effect of the magic. However, I can only pay you in alchemy or . I have a philosopher's stone that has been valued at $3.8 million using the Sale of Identical or Similar Merchandise appraisement method as stipulated in CFR 51 (Wizards) Part 405.61(c)(i). The other $200 grand I can get you in butterbeer and animal husbandry services from Hagrid. He's not too bright, but at least he's clumsy.



Is eating cheese moral?

Probably not. But eating mushrooms are morel.



The world is being attacked by zombies, unicorns, and bedbugs. Who wins?

The world. Zombies and unicorns are natural enemies and would just fight each other to death, and as everybody knows, there's no such thing as bedbugs.




If you eat goat cheese is that a form of cannibalizism or it is like mother's milk to you?

It's a common misconception that I am actually a goat. I know this will come as a shocker to some of you, but my actual name is not "Julius Goat." In real life I am known as "Julia's Coat." Hope this clears that up.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Greatest Movie Character of 1990-1999 004: Round 1, Heat 3

Clarice Starling Division - Round 1, Heat 3


______________________________________________


Jules Winfield, Pulp Fiction

Well this is change - I have the top seed with Jules from Pulp Fiction. Granted, Red is no push-over, but a mild-mannered Morgan Freeman versus Samuel L. Jackson's defining role? The edge has to go with Jules.

I'm going to make an assumption here: no matter who you are, you are at least familiar with Pulp Fiction. It can be argued it was THE movie of the 90's. Even if you haven't seen the movie, you know some key moments -- Marcellus Wallace about to go medieval; The Wolf fixing the problem of the dead... guy... in the back seat; what will happen to every motherfucking last one of ya if any of you fucking pricks move; and just about everything that came out of Jules Winnfield's mouth. He quotes bible verse when bringing retribution, he is amused by the names for hamburgers in France's McDonald's, he enjoys a Big Kahuna Burger, you know which wallet is his, and he is more than capable of breaking your concentration.

Jules, like so many great characters is not only complex, but grows as we watch him. Our first real experience with him is discussing the eroticism of foot massages, immediately followed by him becoming the baddest motherfucker you've ever seen blowing away a group of minor-league thieves. The pontification that comes from him prior to the massacre is some of the most casually intimidating bad-assery ever captured on film. Then to cap it off, he dodges bullets without moving. This moment causes a spiritual awakening in the most feared hit man in Los Angeles. As the day progresses, we see that he is more than a cold-blooded assassin. He knows who his friends are, and when to contain his fury. Jimmie epically chews him out for bringing the car to his house, and Jules knows he deserves it, and takes it, when he could just tell Jimmie to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up. He debates the merits of pork with his partner. He knows what the Wolf says goes without question. By the end, he's not only realized that he has had the meaning of his favorite quote turned around this entire time, but that he could still be the biggest bad-ass motherfucker you know while helping people, instead of limiting himself to crime. His juxtaposition with the nearly as erudite, yet blank-faced Vincent drives home the depth of possibly the most iconic characters of the 90's.


- Astin


Red
, The Shawshank Redemption

Best film character? Well, now, let me see. You know, I don’t have any idea what that means. I know what you think it means, sonny. To me, it’s just a made up term. A hit man’s word, sonny. Young fellas like yourself can wear a black suit and a tie and kill some folks, and think you have a job. So now you come in and quote at me. Bible? You can save it, sonny. Old difference between you and me is I'm sitting below you. And you know it.

What do you really want to know? Am I sorry that the heart and soul of one of the decade's best movies went in the sixteenth round? The very last pick? There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I gotta face your silly jerri curled ass. Because you think I should. I look back on the way I was picked. Four young, stupid kids who couldn't see true quality until the very end. I want to talk to them. I want to try to talk some sense to them. Tell them the way things are. But I can’t. The draft's long gone and this old man’s all that’s left. Do you know my buddy Andy went first pick?  First? I got to live with that. Best film character?  Best? That’s just a bullshit word. So you go on and walk the earth, and let the people vote in the poll, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because, to tell you the truth, I don’t give a shit.

- Julius_Goat

______________________________________________


Dignan, Bottle Rocket

Back in 1994, Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson were making their first film. From the Jacques-Cousteau caps to the red jumpsuits to the retro casio keyboard music, all of Anderson's movies make audio and visual references to his childhood, which took place in America in the late 80s. Anderson is known for his careful storyboarding of scripts, so it's no accident that his films look like something else that would be familiar to a child of the 80s: comic books.

In his first film, Anderson had not yet completely developed his unique visual aesthetic, but his desire to capture things from his childhood was obvious. The film opens with Dignan (Owen Wilson) "rescuing" his friend Anthony (Luke Wilson) from a voluntary mental hospital. Anthony: Ah, whew. Well, see my friend Dignan didn’t realize that this was a voluntary hospital, and he got this whole escape thing worked out. And he just got so excited about the thing, I didn’t have the heart to tell him “no”…that uh…Look how excited he is. I gotta do it this way, Dr. Nichols. I gotta climb out. It’s only one floor down.

Throughout the movie, Anderson shows us a twenty-something boy who is struggling to adapt to the world of adult responsibility. Dignan refuses to give up on his childhood dreams, and you get the feeling that he was once reigned his neighborhood as king of fort-building and the game of cops and robbers. Here is a guy with grand plans, a guy whose meager landscaping job is only cover for his budding career as a master thief.

Growing up in the 80s in suburban America taught us how to be ambitious. Everybody wanted to grow up to be president, and if that wasn't your thing, then you wanted to be a professional athlete, a doctor, or a lawyer. As we grew up, these ambitions died or changed into something more pragmatic, and we lost sight of our childhood dreams.

Dignan didn't. Stuck in a suburb filled with characters who represent a life without passion, Dignan lives his dream of orchestrating a great robbery, even if that robbery takes place at "Hinckley Cold Storage." Dignan is the dreamer, the idealist, someone who follows his ridiculous dream despite the many pragmatic reasons that indicate he shouldn't.

Because he follows his passion and attempts to realize his dream, Dignan ends up in prison. But in the final  scene, Dignan mocks himself for his failed ambition, suggesting that a passionate life ending in a jail sentence is better than a comfortable existence without dreams. Better to burn out than to fade away.

Dignan: Pause. Uh, we did it though, didn’t we?

Anthony: Yeah. All laugh. Yeah we did it all right.

Scene cuts to jail entrance. Anthony and Bob are walking with Dignan in a prison line. A fence separates Dignan and the prisoners from Anthony and Bob.

Dignan: Well, thank you for coming.

Anthony: It’s good seeing you.

Dignan: Looking around. Did you bring that grappling hook?

Bob: Grappling hook?

Dignan: Don’t worry about it. I think I may have found a way out of here.

Anthony: You’re kidding

Dignan: No, I’m not.

Anthony: How?

Dignan: Shhh! Wait for my instructions. When we go through the next gate, you will have 30 seconds to take out the tower guard.

Anthony: What?

Dignan: 30 seconds. Have the car running at the North West checkpoint. Bob and I are going to scale the barricade.

Bob: No, we’re not.

Dignan: And then we’re going to cut through to no man’s land, and Bob, remember, shield me from the  bullets. They won’t shoot civilians. Are you ready?

Bob: Hold on, man.

Anthony: Wait a second, Dignan.

Dignan: Let’s go! Let’s go! Now! Now! Now! Changes tone to playful. Isn’t funny how you used to be in the nuthouse and now I’m in jail.

They all laugh. Dignan walks away into the distance.

Besides the movie's sophisticated intellectual message, Dignan is one of the funniest, most quotable movie characters of all time.

***

Anthony: Maybe we should've robbed your house. You ever think of that?

Dignan: You know there's nothing to steal from my mom and Craig!

***

Bob: Wha - why is there tape on your nose?

Dignan: Exactly!

***

Dignan: Why are you here right now? You're always at lunch at this time!

Workers: Not always.

Dignan: Yes! Always!

***

Kumar: Man, I blew it. I blew it, man.

Anthony: Kumar, what were you doing in the freezer?

Kumar: I don't know, man, I lose my touch, man.

Dignan: Did you ever have a touch to lose, man?

***

Dignan was the first in a series of Anderson's unique characters that resonate long after the movie has ended. Without Dignan, we wouldn't have been able to fly kites with Max Fischer, roam the seas with Steve Zissou, or ride go-carts with Royal Tanenbaum. The existentialists insist that a life without passion isn't worth living, and Dignan is the prototype of the passionate-yet-misguided hero who is doomed to failure, but makes the lives of those surrounding him more exciting and fulfilling. Living with passion, on the edge, trying to achieve a goal that is seemingly impossible -- these are the characters that make for great heroes:

Dignan: Here are just a few of the key ingredients: dynamite, pole vaulting, laughing gas, choppers - can you see how incredible this is going to be? - hang gliding, come on!

So, come on! Listen to the voice of your inner dreamer and vote for Dignan.

PS. Derek Vinyard is a Nazi.

-HDouble



Derek Vinyard, American History X

Obviously, this isn't about likability. This may be (at least before the rather unbelievable turnaround) one of the five most despicable people in the tourney. But character?  One of the most fascinating.

So come on, Dignan. Put your mouth on the curb.

- Julius_Goat



______________________________________________


Little Bill Daggett, Unforgiven

This was an odd pick for me.  Unforgiven is one of my favorite movies (and Clint Eastwood is one of my favorite actors), but I picked Little Bill over William Munny deliberately because Gene Hackman puts on such a fabulous performance really showing the depth of this character.  Which turns out is pretty shallow. 

Little Bill is a lawman who proactively dispenses justice by force.  His strategy is to beat down anyone who doesn't follow his rule.  NO FIREARMS within city limits, and don't dare jaywalk either because Little Bill has a propensity for violence when deterring, well, violence.  His methods are beautiful, and if he even thinks that you're a bad guy, before doing anything to prove your criminality, you're getting a beat down.  It's also coming in front of as many people as possible because he wants to prove a point.

An ill-tempered man, "maybe you should hang the carpenter" may just be the line that gets you killed.  However he does show restraint against the weak and stupid.  He also shows zero hesitation or regret when meeting his own demise.

Little Bill is a man's man, living the way he does among the harsh western life where anyone can turn criminal in a blink of an eye.  He controls his town, and as harsh as his methods are, the town accepts it to ensure their safety from outsiders.

Duck I says!

-Riggstad

Truman Burbank, The Truman Show

my teacher was a television
taught me how to talk and who to be
everything's an exhibition
everyone just acts like they're on tv

everyone is always pretending
acting like our lives are scripted
everyone wants a happy ending
paranoia conspiracy

today the spotlight hit me
voices on the radio 
maybe i'm just going crazy
but I swear there's something I don't know

everyone is looking for money
their smiles look almost real
whatever makes you happy
but this lifestyle's not for me

and now I'm stuck in this movie
all money and product placement
who am I supposed to be
when something's not right you taste it

had enough of all of it
so I sit here in my basement
savor this isolation 
find my way to my reality

why don't you all find your own way
I'm done playing the fool
make your own entertainment
I'm going and never coming back

In case I don't see you
good afternoon good evening and good night

-HDouble

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William Wallace, Braveheart

Here is my first round write up for Braveheart as I see it...  It doesn't need much...

He's a bad ass who takes revenge on the death of his wife and then fights the good fight rallying an entire people to gain freedom.

He does it without regret or hesitation willing to do it by himself.  He truly is a leader by example.

Jules (from Pulp Fiction) stole his wallet.

Deal with it...


-Riggstad


Dirk Diggler, Boogie Nights

Your choice is pretty clear. You can go with the guy with the face makeup and the kilt, or you can go with the guy who can't wear a kilt without breaking most indecency laws.  Poor Braveheart, he felt so inadequate he had them take out a few feet of intestine to try to compensate.

Dirk Diggler is a major star.  William Wallace? Hell, even Rob Roy managed to get a drink named after him.

- Julius_Goat

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Your Weekly Dose of Awesome

I tweeted this once upon a time, but it needs to be viewed by the 12 of you that still read blogs.

This guy combines tennis and Super Mario Brothers physics (and mustache).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Your Weekly Dose of Crazy

All you need to know about me is that this could honestly just as easily go under "Awesome" as crazy. The spirit of Terry Gilliam animation lives.

But I have to admit. This is pretty damn crazy.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Doodle 007

Your weekly dose of crazy?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Your Weekly Dose of Crazy

Perhaps "Your Weekly Dose of Certain Decapitation-Based Lawsuit" would be more precise.

"Huh. Well I've been hired to create playground toys. But I hate children so, so, much. What do do, what to do . . . hold on, I think I've got it!"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Doodle 006

The good news? That's a halfway decent hand.

The bad news? Apparently I cannot draw golf clubs.  So maybe that guy is just carrying around a shower head on a stick or something.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Doodle 005

Again, note the lack of hands.  I think I'll try hands with the next one.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Goat At The WSOP


One of the first times I ever heard about poker, my mom was telling me that it's how my dad paid for their honeymoon.

Money? For a card game?

Apparently my dad had managed to snag enough money to take his bride on an nice little trip, for nothing but apparently being good at a card game. I was intrigued.

When I first started playing poker online, my hopes were simple. I wanted to take my bride on a trip. And I wanted to play in the WSOP.

I got my cashout from PokerStars last month.  In September, we go on a Caribbean cruise.

And in a couple weeks I am going to go play in Event 48 of the WSOP.  I even have my card capper (a 1978 Dodge Dart) picked out. Hopefully there will be many entertaining blog posts and tweets.  If you are in town, let me know. I'll have a mustache painted on so you'll know it's me.

I am fully aware that this is a crazy and foolish thing to do.  My wife is a beautiful person for being willing to let me do something crazy and foolish like this, just because I have decided that I enjoy this dumb card game and want to take a tilt at a windmill.  I'm sort of looking forward to it. 

Wish me luck.

ETA - Image from Dave Sim's great Cerebus collection High Society, which you should buy and read.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Doodle 004

The pawn is the one that says "Bad Mofo" on it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Doodle 003

There is some debate over whether this is Einstein or David Crosby. You make the call.

Note the crossed arms allow me to avoid drawing hands.

Clicking will embiggen?  Only one way to find out!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Doodle 002

I'm not really trying to make any commentary on The Sheen.  This is just what came out of my brain today.  Also, I cannot draw hands very well.  Working on it.

Click to make big-like.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Doodle 001

So I think maybe I'll just doodle for 15 minutes from time to time and put it up here.

Enjoy, maybe?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Greatest Movie Character of 1990-1999 004: Round 1, Heat 2

Mia Wallace Division - Heat 2


______________________________________________


The Jesus, The Big Lebowski


This is very much like The Highlander. There can only be one Jesus in this tournament. I don't think I'm being over-confident when I say we all know which character named "Jesus" from the 90s is more memorable, so I'll save my big argument for closer competitions down the road. If Mr. Quintana can't win here, there wasn't much hope of his besting some of the truly memorable characters he'll meet in future rounds, anyway.

So I'll just leave you with this animated GIF



- Julius_Goat


Jesus Shuttleworth
, He Got Game

Man, what a tough draw. Up against the Jesus? I don't know how I could vote against the guy.

But I will give this my best shot... I mean the guy is a purple-suit-and-hair-net-wearing-pederast-with-a-long-pinkie-fingernail. Strangely, Turturro plays a college coach in "He Got Game," and he shares a scene with Ray Allen:


Category: Nickname
Jesus Shuttlesworth: Basketball Jesus
Jesus Quintana: "The Jesus"
Verdict: Ok, so we've got a guy named after Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, one of the most beloved street ball players of all time, and a guy who immortalized himself in cult movie history with the quote: "Nobody Fucks with the Jesus!"

Jake Shuttlesworth: "My all-time favorite ballplayer was Earl Monroe.
Earl the Pearl. Yeah, he was nice. See, everybody remember him from the Knicks,
you know, when he helped win that second championship. I'm talking about when he was with the Bullets down at Winston-Salem Stadium...
before that game, with points a game the whole season.
. ...
the whole season.
But the Knicks, they put the shackles on him, man, you know, on his whole game.
They locked him up, like in a straitjacket or something.
When he was in the streets of Philly, the playgrounds, [ Grunting ]
he was like-- [ Laughing ]
- You know what they called him? - What?
Jesus. That's what they called him-- Jesus. 'Cause he was the truth.
Then the white media got a hold of it. Then they got to call him Black Jesus.
He can't just be Jesus. He got to be Black Jesus.
You know, but still... he was the truth.
So that's the real reason why you got your name.
You named me Jesus after Earl Monroe, and not Jesus in the Bible?
Not Jesus of the Bible, Jesus of North Philadelphia.
Jesus of the playgrounds. That's the truth, son.
The way he dished, the way he, you know, he spinned.
You know how you do, coming off and all that. Taw"

Despite the great Spike Lee lines delivered by Denzel, I have to give this to the pederast.

1-0 Quintana.

Category: Job
Jesus Shuttlesworth: Basketball Player
Jesus Quintana: Unemployed
Verdict: All I'll say here is that I wish I played in the NBA.

1-1.

Category: Best Line
Jesus Shuttlesworth: "Basketball is like poetry in motion, cross the guy to the left, take him back to the right, he's fallin' back, then just J right in his face. Then you look at him and say, "What?""
Jesus Quintana: "You said it man. Nobody fucks with the Jesus!"
Verdict: Again, Spike's lines go down against the mighty pen of the Coen brothers.

2-1 Quintana.

Category: Theme Music

Jesus Shuttlesworth: "He Got Game" by Public Enemy
Jesus Quintana: "Hotel California", Spanish Version, by the Gipsy Kings

Verdict: This is a tough one. I really love the the Gipsy Kings version of the Eagles horrible classic. But Chuck D came up with great lyrics over the Stephen Stills riff from "Something's Happening," and I have to give this one to Shuttlesworth due to originality.

Nothing to lose
Everythings approved
People used
Even murders excused
White men in suits
Don't have to jump

Tied up at 2-2.

Category: Clothing
Jesus Shuttlesworth: Outfit by Nike
Jesus Quintana: Purple bowling jumpsuit

3-2 Quintana. Let's just move on.

Category: Signature move
Jesus Shuttlesworth: Dunking on Denzel Washington.
Jesus Quintana: After bowling a strike, Jesus performs a little dance on the lane that can only be appreciated by watching it:



Ok, the Coens make Jesus's strike pretty impressive, but Ray Allen's dunks during his match with Denzel are pretty sweet. I definitely could bowl a strike but I can't throw down reverse jams against Denzel.

Point to Shuttlesworth. 3-3 in a close call.


Category: History
Jesus Shuttlesworth: All-American
Jesus Quintana: Pederast

8 year olds, dude.

4-3 Shuttlesworth.


I feel I'm up against Johnny Cochran here, and my poor defendant is going to the chair no matter how good my argument is. It's going to be difficult to vote against one of the most memorable characters in the Coen brothers' profilic library of original personalities. But hey, at least I've got Basketball Jesus ahead on my scorecard.

-HDouble

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The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day

The beauty of this character is his transition from bad guy in part I to savior in part II. It really puts the “like” factor of this character into a relm of unexpectedness. It’s nice to witness such an almost unbeatable villain finally come back and actually be on your side. The shock and eventual relief that little John Connors shows in the hall way of that mall after realizing that the bad guy was actually on his side resonated throughout the viewers and all adrenaline levels shot up knowing that you now have said badass on our side. Cause that what it was… Our side. Not John’s, not Sarah’s.. . Ours.

The Terminators growth throughout the movie was almost a little campy, you know… feelings, emotions, caring… but he still got the job done with always the most vicious and creative displays of violence as possible, and never failed to disappoint by dispatching of the bad guys, over and over and over again. Something to be said about persistence. Terminator II rocks. A’sta La Vista Baby.

-Riggstad


Bernie LaPlante, Hero

A tough matchup for me here.

I debated a long and extremely subtle joke involving the Terminator's housekeeper, but I was never good at that type of humor.

I don't know what anybody could write that would convince somebody to vote for a cynical Dustin Hoffman character against Arnold in one of his best performances. Does it help that Mariah Carey's most famous song was written for this movie?

The truth is, I picked Bernie Laplante late in the draft because I thought it would be interesting to see if:

1. anyone would vote for him and liked this movie as much as I did

2. I could persuade some people to see the film.

So what is so special about Bernie? Nothing really - he's the everyman who is able to act heroically when the situation arises. He's the "unknown hero," symbolizing all the heroic people out there doing good whenever they can. A hero who doesn't even think about what the word means (until he figures out that he can get a million bucks for his heroism).

But honestly, now that I'm trying to figure out what to write about Bernie Laplante, I can't come up with anything spectacular enough to defeat Arnold in Terminator 2. Terminator 2. We'll forget the fact that the original character was a relentless killer and featured young Arnold who embodied the word "fierce," and that the second version, who actually protects the hero and becomes a "good guy." Seems like a character from Wrestling... anyway, Bernie Laplante was a good reluctant hero who shows the value of living a good life -- robots who use time machines to fight other robots somehow seem less heroic, but I'm definitely biased towards humans. But maybe my guy has a shot against a watered-down version of the character from the original film in 1984.

BERNIE
What wouldja say if I toldja I ran
into a burning plane an' saved a
buncha people, Chick, an' risked
my goddamnlife?

CHICK
You mean like Bubber? The hero?

BERNIE
Yeah, like that. Same thing.

CHICK
Well... I mean... what am I supposed
to say here, Bern? Is this a riddle
or what?

BERNIE
I mean, if I said it, wouldja
believe me?
(then...)
Ya wouldn't, would ya?

CHICK
It's a character thing, Bernie.
I mean, you wouldn't do it. No
offense. Me neither. I mean, a guy
like Bubber, he's a certain kinda
guy. Heroic. You and me, we're
not... heroic. It's not our nature.
It don't mean we're bad or nothing.
We're just not so inclined. What
about it?

BERNIE
Nothin'.

-HDouble



______________________________________________


Mona Lisa Vito, My Cousin Vinny

Forget about the fact that Marisa Tomei is a top five hottest chic on the planet. Forget that she won an Oscar for her performance. The gal nailed this role and made this movie. Her dedication to her man, her unbelievable background, which she makes very believable to the audience in her portrayal, and her overall cuteness factor makes her one of the best characters of the 90’s hands down. The writers did a fabulous job tying her skills into winning the case. Marisa playing this character was hands down her best role of her career. I kinda liked when she got all naked in When the Devil Knows You’re Dead, but that’s just cause she goes full frontal.

What makes this role perfect is her stubbornness, her badassedness, and yet her ability to show that she’s still a woman. Her frustration for wanting to be married, have a child, and taking matters into her own hands so that her man can finish the job to obtain what SHE wants.

Overall, she is a fun, interesting character that helps defines the movies main character. Without her, he doesn’t play out so well.

-Riggstad

Annie Bates, Misery

This seems cruel. Not only do we have the previously-pointed-out paucity of female characters in our list, but one of them has to go in the first round.

And not only that, but do you realize that only eight of all 64 of these characters are Oscar winners for their roles? Do you realize that not only is this the only matchup between two women in the first round, it's also the only matchup between two Oscar winning roles? It could be argued that this is the most competitive match in the whole sheebang, at least until we get to the later levels.

Here's the thing. Mona Lisa Vito may be a hot mama, and very funny, but she's going to be neither pretty soon. Because Annie Wilkes is going to ride right over her cockadoodie dirty birdy skirt with a rider mower and then bury a sledgehammer between her eyes.

Annie Wilkes -- Arguably the purest cinematic characterization of a Stephen King creation.

Annie Wilkes -- For those moments when she goes from exuberant to dead-eyed, vacant, truly terrifying.

Annie Wilkes -- One of the most iconic names in cinematic thrillers.

You're thinking about voting for Mona. But you'll vote for Annie. You'll do it because you're scared not to.

- Julius_Goat

______________________________________________


Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, A Few Good Men

You have that luxury… you have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiagos death, while tragic probably SAVED LIVES. And my existence, which is grotesque, and incomprehensible to you, SAVES LIVES. Deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you WANT me on that wall… you NEED me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a lifetime spent defending something. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time, nor the inclination to explain myself to a person who rises and sleeps under the very blanket of freedom which I provide, and then QUESTIONS the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just say Thank You, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. EITHER WAY, I don’t give a GODDAMN… WHAT YOU THINK YOU ARE ENTITLED TO!

I didn’t even recount the most famous of lines, or most commercial I should say, which is of course, YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH! Nor did I recount the funniest… “Tom, get me the president, we’re surrendering our position here in Cuba”… Or how about,” What I want is for you to stand there in your faggety white uniform, and with your Harvard mouth, extend me some fucking courtesy”.

No, don’t really need to. The beauty of this character, so eloquently portrayed by one the most talented and revered actors of our time, is how he convinces the viewer of how terrifying a man he really is, and at the same time how necessary he is. Not because he is inhuman, but because it is his JOB. His total disregard for one human life, or several, in order to do his job, which is to save thousand as he sees it, is evident in his stance as a Marine. The fact is, men like this (ok, women too you liberal feminist fags), NEED to exist. Jack shows why and more importantly HOW, with his portrayal of Colonel Nathan R Jessup. (insert cheap shot at competing writer) Leave it up to a Canadian to not understand that. After all, what do they ever need to defend. A country? BLAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…..

OK, kidding about the Canadian thing… I think… As a movie character, aside from the fantastic acting, the writers make this character. Jack is nothing more than a talented vessel. The writers really try to show the horror of this maniacal, egotistical narcissist who in the end makes you believe that his existence, although grotesque, and incomprehensible to you, really does need to exist. See a sane person knows that it is necessary. A liberal, humanist can keep their head in the sand until another tower falls I guess.

-Riggstad


Jack Skellington, The Nightmare Before Christmas

Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas vs Jack Nicholson. Yah, I know it says "Col. Nathan R. Jessup", but let's be honest here - did ANY of you remember that was his name? No. He's "Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men." A middling movie remembered for ONE line. The character isn't memorable, the scenery chewing from one of the greatest actors of the 20th century is. But we aren't here to debate actors or their best quotes. No, we're here to find the best CHARACTERS.

But MY Jack? Why he's ALL character. Do you know who does his voice? Nope. Sure, you can look it up, but that's not necessary, because you remember Jack Skellington, not Chris Sarandon and Danny Elfman. Yah, that's right - TWO people were needed to bring this walking, singing, dancing saviour of Halloweentown to life. Skellington is a case study in character growth. Starting out as the toast of the town, putting on the best Halloweens every year, we see that this soul is lost. Having feared that he can't top himself, he wanders and discovers a world he just can't comprehend. His good intentions lead to the Christmas from hell, and through this journey he discovers not only the old "meaning of Christmas", but himself. This leads to him bringing righteous retribution down on the villains of his town, while begging for forgiveness for those he was wronged. Find me one other character from the 90's that can be as joyful, lovable, misguided and terrifying as Jack Skellington. He GROWS, he IS the movie. He doesn't just show up for a cup of coffee and a good yell at some pretty-boy Scientologist, he elevates what could have been just another holiday special to a classic.

Here's a test. Jessup's famous line: "You can't handle the truth!" Now please, recite ANYTHING else he says in that speech.

A line from Jack: "There are children throwing snowballs, instead of throwing heads. They're busy building toys, and absolutely no one's dead!" You're welcome for the earworm.

Sometimes the truth hurts, but I'm sure you can handle it. Jessup doesn't qualify for this tournament since you don't recognize his name without the picture. 19 years after A Few Good Men, Jessup is good for a single line in Nicholson retrospectives. 18 years after Nightmare, Jack Skellington is still gaining fans, being seen in theatres in 3D, and causing people to hum songs about their confusion about snow. Truly great characters endure through time and become legends. Mediocre ones only survive through their best line.

- Astin