Monday, February 25, 2013

Dear Birds at My Work

I am not certain what I have done to anger you, or what malevolent spirit has taken you over and used you as a warning that terrible things are afoot, but I am asking you kindly to please put an end to this madness.

This all began about a week ago.  Normally, during the busy season at my job, I will sit in my office in the back and get paperwork done.  In the winter, when business is slower and I am covering shifts normally staffed by my employees, I sit behind a reception desk.  I have a nice stool that I situate with a view of glass doors.  Beyond those glass doors, about fifty feet away, is the Chesapeake Bay.  Last Monday, I sat there, enjoying what was most certainly a thought provoking novel, and most definitely not erotica, while I waited for the phones to ring.  My deep pondering over the novel was rudely shattered with a loud THWAP!  Startled, I looked up, expecting a coworker had sneaked up to the desk and tried to scare me.  With no one in sight, I returned to my reading, only to hear THWAP! again a few minutes later. 

My attention was piqued.  A hard target search of the lobby revealed no one.  About to start putting stock into the ghost rumors my coworkers had been floating, I turned to walk back to the desk and spied something outside the door.  Two birds were on the cement.  Without going into an unnecessary, albeit hilarious Monty Python routine, these birds were dead.  To be fair, I had cleaned up several dead animal bodies at work over the years, the worst being a rotting stingray that had washed ashore, so two birds were no big deal.  I put on some rubber gloves, picked them up, then realized I couldn't walk them to the dumpster and still hear the phones if they rang.  On cue, the phone's shrill mating call erupted.  I don't want to say I panicked, per se, but without thinking, I reeled back and chucked both birds as hard as I could out into the Bay.  I stared for a minute as the little bodies were swallowed by the murky abyss, then ran inside away from accusatory eyes.  Little thought was given to it for the rest of the day.

Through the next few days, more and more birds would fly into the windows, killing themselves for what I could only think was a closer vie of me before the died.  Each time, I would don my gloves, and each time, I took my cue from earlier and flung them to Davy Jones.  Since last week, I have given over a dozen birds burial at sea, including three today. We have put fake cutouts of hawks on the windows to try to scare the birds before the hit the windows.  This seemed to have worked for a few days, but now the killing have intensified.

If you want a sacrifice, avian overlords, only tell me who I should smite, and they shall be smote.  Just stop this kamikaze crap, because I am not relishing the explanation I will have to give when someone finally catches me chucking a dead bird into the Chesapeake Bay, making my own little Goldfinch Ganges River. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dear Franchise Filmmakers

A Guest Contribution by Zoinks Teabiscuit


          Gather round and listen, children, while I tell you the tale of RoboCop VII: The Hurtening. You’ll recall, from yesterday’s tale, that Peter Weller, having been reborn as the immortal RoboCop and doing all that stuff he did in the first five installments, successfully destroyed the reanimated corpse of Kim Jong-Il by crashing his base into the moon. The people of New Detroit rejoiced at this, but their joy was not to last, for the moon was knocked out of orbit by a few degrees, plunging the earth into a terrible ice age from which, it seemed, it would never again emerge. It was at this time that the alien cyborg army emerged from its long hiding in the moon’s core, and probably at some point the Predators showed up, and OBVIOUSLY Lance Henriksen was in there doing something—eating babies or, you know, whatever. The whole thing, dollars to donuts, was directed by Michael Bay, and following the stunning climax—a tremendous and moving scene that ranks with Willem Dafoe’s death in Platoon and also Willem Dafoe’s “There was a firefight!” scene in Boondock Saints and also Willem Dafoe’s monster-soliloquy in Spider-Man—the people of earth were treated to a montage of explosions and barely-concealed breasts the likes of which they had never seen that entire weekend.
            Alas, the festivities were not to last. Seven installments of alienborgs and boobsplosions proved too much for the delicate ecosystem that is American film audiences. When, the following weekend, the rocking sequel to The Hurtening released to disappointing opening sales of $400 billion, creators of popular entertainment knew they had a crisis on their hands. The stage was set for the invasion of Honey Boo-Boos, bafflingly exploitative mental disorder reality shows, and charmingly ridiculous minorities doing things white people find hilarious. At last, amidst the wreckage, one desperate thought emerged among the shattered communities of the learned: the answer to the age-old question, “How many boobs is too many?” Apparently, Mr. Bay, seven. Seven is too many.
            Or fourteen, I guess. I don’t know, there’s no time to math with all these damned boobsplosions.
Of course I’m being facetious. Mammary-related detonations are the least-offensive tip of the industry-sinking iceberg that is franchise filmmaking. I have nothing against franchises per se. I understand that film is a business, etc. etc. I’m not criticizing you from an anti-capitalist perspective. I am criticizing you from the perspective that you are stupid and your cynical attempts to manipulate viewers are embarrassingly transparent.
Take The Exorcist. Maybe you’re not a horror movie fan, but that is an intense, well-crafted film. Then take a look at the sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic. That is a steaming pile of crap that is not saved—surprisingly—by a half-naked racial stereotype played by James Earl Jones giving us the fodder for everybody’s favorite Futurama bit some twenty-five years later.
The Exorcist films are actually great examples of the stupid decisions made by inept producers and studios who think they know what audiences want, but are in fact hindered in their higher thought-processes by the fact that their bodies are made entirely out of teeth stolen from under children’s pillows. The third film in the series was actually good, but was apparently butchered by the production company. Then there’s the embarrassing fact of the two prequel films, starring roughly the same cast (and not coincidentally produced by the same company). The studio wanted more violence, so they cobbled together something new out of the scraps of the first version. When their Frankenstein film proved to be a bust, they ended up releasing the original version anyway, which also sucked.
Too niche for you? Well okay, Mr. Cinematic Everyman, Esquire—the recent Hobbit film also stands as a perfect example of Hollywood nonsense invading a perfectly sound, tellable story and literally filling it with poo. Wizard poo, to be precise.
Not, like, the poo from a wizard. More like, poo in the possession of a wizard. I guess.
Lest you cry foul here, I’ll qualify this by noting that I’m not a major Middle-Earth geek. Film adaptations of novels are fine, and sometimes they’re great (see, again, The Exorcist). I’m not angry because nobody should mess with my books, dammit. But I did reread The Hobbit in preparation for the film, and good god, the monstrosity that ended up on screen is not even remotely close. But that could be totally forgivable, if it didn’t suck as a film in every conceivable way, regardless of its relation to the novels.
Radagast the Brown? Haha! It’s funny because of all the POOP on his FACE! There’s POOP! On a WIZARD! Not only did Jackson decide to take Radagast out of his brief appearance in Fellowship (the book, not the film), and insert him into a montage of stupid scenes that were invented to liven up the joint; he felt that his creative addition would not be complete until he literally covered it in feces. Bravo, sir. You have at long last surpassed Dead Alive.
I’m a big Transformers fan, and I’ll admit that I liked the first Michael Bay movie when it first came out. But in retrospect, he made Bumblebee pee on a guy. What the hell was he thinking? What were any of us thinking?!
Maybe we just weren’t. As I was writing this a friend pointed out that people pay to see this stuff, and that’s why it keeps getting made. They address this in a recent episode of South Park, and as usual, Trey and Matt hit the nail on the head. Maybe we could make it stop.
There’s probably a lesson to be learned here, but it’s probably got math in it, and I suck at that. Because of all the boobsplosions.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dear Valentine's Day

Bet you think this letter is going to be me bitching about how Valentine's Day persecutes those that are single.  How it is an exclusionary holiday, made to kick you when you are down.  Well guess what?  I don't care.  Let the couples have their holiday.  Crying about being single on Valentine's Day is for ugly hookers and Taylor Swift.  My gripe with Valentine's Day goes deeper.

Just as it is easier to judge a book by how cool the cover is, or how good a movie is based on whether Sarah Jessica Parker is horsefacing it to death, I find it expedient to rate the holidays by the deliciousness of the food associated with them.  You, by far, are the worst.  Disagree?  Let's go to the big board:

New Years- Pork and black eyed peas.  I eat kielbasa every year on January 1, which is why I am immune to all nonlethal weapons, and why I once was able to speak Sanskrit, even if it was only for thirty seconds.

Easter- Ham and deviled eggs, probably because the Catholics said, "Oh, hey Jews, you don't believe in Jesus?  Guess what everyone will eat today."

Fourth of July and Memorial Day- Copious amounts of every meat imaginable, and every salad available, as long as it contains mayonnaise.  Just thinking about it brings a tear of rapturous joy to my eyes, or maybe that is just the meat sweats dripping down my forehead.

Halloween- Candy.  Or as Garfield puts it:


 Thanksgiving- Turkey and stuffing.  I am indifferent to most Thanksgiving foods, until the next day when they are piled all together between two slices of bread.  Suddenly, like the mighty Voltron, they combine into something so much more powerful than they could be alone.

Christmas- This is usually up to individual interpretation, which might be the biggest win of them all.  My family does lasagna.  My mother's lasagna may be able to cure cancer, but good luck getting any leftovers to test the theory.

So, what do you have, Valentine's Day?  Guess what, Russell Stover candies don't count, because they have become a Christmas thing too.  Do you have a decadent meat dish?  No?  I guess maybe people eat flowers then?

No, you have these:


You know when you have a flashlight you leave in the car, or the garage in the summer?  Sooner or later, the heat will make the batteries explode, and a chalky, alkaline crust forms all over the inside of the flashlight.  I am certain that is what these candy hearts are made of, along with whale's tears and dandruff collected from New York subway floors.  These shouldn't be given to your enemies, let alone someone you even care about. 

To put this in perspective, I once went to a New Year's party at my friend Furious T's house.  We bought a keg of beer, listened to some great music, and generally had a wonderful time.  The next morning, several of us were smoking on the deck.  T wandered out of the house in a wifebeater and boxers, holding a cigarette in one hand, and a machete in the other.  He sauntered up to his sister's boyfriend, got close enough to kiss him, and said so softly, so sweetly, "If you ever stop loving me, I will kill you."

That was infinitely more romantic than throwing these chalky demons to your girlfriend.  You might as well tell her she's too fat for chocolates, so you got her disappointment in the form of a heart instead. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Dear Greeting Card Companies

People like to say that one of the prime differences between human being and every other creature that we love to hunt down and eat is that in the end, we are smarter.  That is how we are able to build tools, strategize, and conquer those "inferior" beings that swim, fly, or run through the forest and turn them into delicious snacks and handsome throw rugs.  What they refuse to acknowledge is the fact that the thing that will break our species and serve us up to our woodland overlords on a platter is our compliance with the Greeting Card industry. 

Really think about it.  We have conditioned ourselves to buy into a system where it is socially acceptable, nay, expected that we shell out anywhere from $3 to $7 on every single special event in order to buy a cheap piece of card stock that has been printed with something trite, treacly, or idiotic.  Worse, if we do not receive said card, we look down upon those that failed to buy our affection.  What classifies a "special event" is even more ridiculous.  Sure, birthdays, Christmas, weddings, and funerals are understandable.  Father's Day and Mother's day, Valentine's, ok, I won't fight that.  But there are cards for every conceivable holiday.  I do not need to send anyone a Thanksgiving card.  No one needs a "Happy Easter" from me. 

Worst, there are "Thinking of You" cards.  I like to think that I am good with words.  I don't need to go out and pay $5 for a 30 cent piece of paper with something so hokey I would be embarrassed if I came up with it.  If I am thinking of someone, I will send them an email, or a message on Facebook.  I will send them a text, or god forbid give them a phonecall.  One time, I wanted to say hi to my friend Jefe.  Did I send him a Hallmark?  No.  Of course not.  This is what I sent him:
"Ok. I am sorry if the phone conversation got a little heated. I did not mean to sound so judgmental. It is that I simply cannot understand how anyone in this day and age can get scurvy. I mean, Jefe, you could probably eat out of your neighbor's garbage and get enough vitamins to not have scurvy. I just don't understand how you let this happen to yourself."

He had not called, and at that time, he did not have scurvy.  I just took some time, and made his day a little better by making people think he had scurvy.  Another time, I was feeling a little more longwinded, and sent him this:

"Sorry I missed your call last night. I was at work. To answer some of the questions you left in the voicemail, with timestamps for easy reference:
1) I am doing well, and it was good to hear from you. (30 seconds into call)
2) I miss you too. (32 seconds into call)
3) I hope the tornados didn't do any damage around you (1 min, 3 seconds into call)
4) No, I haven't seen the show "Cougartown", but I am sure it is every bit as good as you said it was. (1 min, 23 seconds through 4 minutes, 52 seconds)
5) Yes, I am aware that the band is called "Hall and Oates" and is two people, not called "Holland Oates" and just one person. (5 minutes, 2 seconds through 9 minutes 47 seconds)
                                                                                                                              6) I am not sure why your all male Pat Benitar acapella group is not doing as well as you hoped, but I can't move out there and join the group. Mostly because I don't want to be in an all male Pat Benitar acapella group, no matter how "bitchin'" their cover of "Heartbreaker" is. I am sure you did track down the same gloves she wore in the "Love is a Battlefield" video, and no, I am not surprised they fit you perfectly. I have always said you had girly hands. (10 minutes through 17 minutes 13 seconds)
7) While I am sure you have your reasons, I do not understand and am frankly shocked and concerned at the vehement and not so subtly racist comments you made about the Muppet Babies. (17 minutes 44 seconds through 42 minutes).

I will call soon and we will catch up."
 This is a little better than a greeting card with a pre printed blurb that I barely take the time to sign.  This shows that I care enough to besmirch your good name to everyone on you friends list and mine.  Hallmark, your "serious" cards are so saccharine that they make my diabetes hurt, and your "funny" cards are barely a step up from bumper sticker slogans.  The internet is running you out of business, and frankly, it may be for the best.  Your refusal to make your product better, or even remotely price appropriate, will be your downfall.  My rapier wit shall forever overshadow whatever you try to put out there.

Also, if anyone is interested, my poor friend Jefe has a thing going on at http://angryscholar.wordpress.com/ where he reviews horror movies and rates the things he has licked for money.