Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dear Easter Bunny

You are not an acceptable holiday mascot.  In fact, there have only been two acceptable holiday mascots- Santa Claus, and the murderous leprechaun from the movie of the same name.  Why are they legit and not you?  You are even scarier than good ol' Lep in the Hood, and if you believe his rap, he's out to do no good. 

Why did malls decide it would be a good idea to have some minimum wage schlub dressed up as you?  The Santa thing works because Santa is not a over proportioned monster.  There has never been a horror movie about a giant Santa murdering people.  They are always regular sized Santas murdering people in movies.  Meanwhile, there have been three movies about giant mind freak rabbits.  Night of the Lepus, Harvey, and Donnie Darko.  Night of the Lepus and Donnie Darko don't end well for anyone, and poor Jimmy Stewart actually talked normally before he was in Harvey.

I saw one of these costumed atrocities firsthand.  There was only one child being forced to sit with what I can only assume was the true form of Satan in a bow tie and vest.  Despite the best efforts of the parents and the cameraman, and the apathetic efforts of a man whose life choices have led to him being dressed as a Bunny in public, the child would have none of it.  When placed on the Bunny's lap, the child let out the shrill cry of the damned, then went boneless and slid to the floor.  We could learn much from this child. 

How did Easter get to this point?  It. started as a solemn religious holiday observing a man dying for the sins of the world, then supposedly resurrecting days later.  Now, it has been co-opted by the Furry community and rewritten by the lovechild of H.P. Lovecraft and H.R. Puffinstuff.  Seriously, let's really look at this.  When and how exactly do you go from a grisly Biblical execution to people sporting pastel colors hiding candy filled eggs, and a man/rabbit/demon harboring a fixation on children?  Where is the rabbit getting all of these eggs from?  Who thought pastels were ever a good idea?  You might as well have Chtulu dressed in paisley and handing out pumpkins to the elderly. 

There is no reason that you should be associated with anything other than bad science fiction, or with dark, dank basements late at night. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Dear Era of Gritty Movies

You might call it "The Dark Knight" syndrome.  That movie didn't start the trend, but it certainly exemplifies it.  I frequent a website,, to get news on upcoming movies that are in development.  The writers for the site, at this point, mock every announced production that promises with the words "dark", "gritty", or the ever present "dark and gritty reboot".  It seems that anymore, a movie can't get into development if it is not a harsher, more criminal version of something that came before it.  This is how the movie "Battleship" was sold last year.  Remember that movie?  No, because you weren't one of the six people that went to see it just to check out Taylor Kitsch with short hair.

This sales tactic works for some properties. I understand that.  Batman had to get darker, almost literally.  The neon death glow of the last two Joel Schumaker films had to be extinguished for the franchise to have any chance.  Ben Affleck has reinvented himself as a fine director of very gritty movies after doing fluff movies like Surviving Christmas and Jersey Girl.  It has gotten to the point, however, that I am waiting for Hollywood to announce a remake of ET where the alien probes the kids and "Reece's Pieces" is a code name for some drug that makes ET trip.  In 2015 there very well may be a Fraggle Rock movie where the diggers are hired to hide a body.  Even most of the so called "kids" movies that come out anymore are rife with innuendo and jokes that only the adults are going to get. 

This may sound out of place, coming from this purveyor of anger and bitter candor, but Hollywood, give us some hope.  Have you look outside lately?  Things aren't great out there.  The job market sucks.  The economy is terrible.  TV keeps cancelling my favorite shows.  Why can't we have a movie that doesn't leave us feeling dirty?

Look at what happened to M. Night Shyamalan.  He made two excellent films in The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable to start his career.  Neither of those were what someone would call a "feel good" movie.  He gets a little more optimistic with Signs, a movie that preaches hope and purpose, and he starts to get panned.  Then he makes The Village darker, and people still aren't happy with him, so he finally tells us all to go to hell, and he makes the movie he wants to: Lady in the Water.  Say what you want to about that movie, whether you like it or not, it was more inventive and took more risks than anything he had done since Sixth Sense.  And, for the love of it, it was pure in its intentions.  That movie is all about hope and the knowledge that we can make things better if we even just gave a little bit of a damn.  We buried M. Night for it.  He is still one of my favorite directors, regardless of any bad movie he puts out, because of the good ones that he has given me.  I guarantee you that one of you reading this did the Robot Chicken "What a twist!" when you read his name here, and that honestly upsets me, because he is so much more than a one trick joke written by an awful actor that still plays with action figures. 

Let me take another track.  Sure, I loved The Dark Knight.  I have seen it one time, all the way through, since I saw it in the theaters.  I liked The Dark Knight Rises too, but I don't have any plans to see that again anytime soon.  However, I can sit back and watch Groundhog Day any day of the week, all the way through.  Same goes for the movie The Sandlot, and that's a kid's movie.  Why can I watch them any time?  They make me happy, and I need something to make me happy most days.  Some people will call Groundhog Day a comedy, and those people aren't watching close enough.  It is a very funny movie, but it deals with some very dark subjects, and never stoops to slapstick or low brow measures.  It is much harder to define than just "comedy".  This also brings up another valid point.

Where are the comedies in all of this?  While we are getting pushed into the much with these dramas, quality comedies have disappeared.  Has there been a good one since Wayne's World and Tommy Boy?  The Wayans Brothers and their reference humor are what pass for genuine comedies now.  There are no joke, just a reference to something that might have been funny.  Or, we get "quirkedies" like Napoleon Dynamite, that just strive to make people laugh by forcing awkwardness at them like the chess club captain trying to get a date to the prom. 

All I am saying is, let's all just feel good for once, and not feel bad about feeling good. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dear Texters

Is it that you have something very important to say?  Or maybe you are very excited to tell me something?  It can't be that you have a well thought out and precisely worded admission, question, or plea that you need me to read.  How about we all just sit back, cool out, and compose out thoughts before we whip out that cell phone.

Here's the thing: I get text messages everyday, and I am not a popular person.  I am not even that likeable most days.  Most people that have my phone number know that, for the most part, I prefer to be reached through a phone call.  I don't like taking the time it takes to write out a text message with my giant thumbs on a tiny keyboard.  In half that time, I could have said exactly what I needed to say.  Perhaps this marks me as outdated, in a world that values quick text messages over actual interaction. 

Text messages are helpful in situations.  I know this.  My problem is the way that people act in the milieu.  The most obvious complaint I have is the the war crimes against the English language that occur in the name of texting.  "R U coming 2 nite? Gr8!  K! Luv U!"  If I get a text like that, chances are I will throw holy water in your awful face next time I see you to try to drive out whatever Enochian hellbeast has slutted up your conversation skills.  No one is so busy that they have to abbreviate that much.  This is born from laziness, arrogance, and a sheer lack of respect for the person you are sending the message to.

Emoticons are terrible as well.  If you think that it is so imperative for me to know the mood you are trying to convey when you wrote "Miss you, LOL! :)" then you should have called me.  Emoticons are only sent so one reason: to try to be cute.  Here is a helpful tip: if you are trying to be cute, you have already failed.  Here is a list of the only things that are acceptably "cute":
1) Kittens and puppies
2) Women in sun dresses
3) The fact the the Pittsburgh Pirates are still allowed to be a Major League Baseball team.

Emoticons are obnoxious, and are born from an assumption that the person you are sending a message to is too stupid to ascertain your intent.  You might as well just hit someone in the knee with a tack hammer after speaking to them.  It would be less offensive, and only slightly more overt.

My biggest gripe is the rapid texter. This is the person who sends one line of text at a time, as fast as possible, operation under the assumption that I don't already have a twitch every time I hear my text sound.  When I get this:
-What're you up to?
-Wanna get dinner?
-Maybe get some drinks?

All of these things are sent in under twenty seconds, with no time in between for someone to respond.  Would it not make more sense to instead send this:
- Hey, wanna get some dinner or drinks if you are free?

Look at that.  One unobtrusive sentence.  No violent bombardment of ringtones.  No mounting frustration as you try to type an answer while more and more questions roll in individually.  No anxiety, no building resent, and no eventual shattered friendship because I threaten to seduce your mother in retaliation for your utter lack of decorum.

Do you really want our friendship to be over because you can't take your time and use your phone right?  Remember, some drums, and some moms, can't be unbanged.   

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dear Burlington Coat Factory

The Neverending Story.  Pinocchio.  Richard Nixon.  Stephen Glass.  Peter the Apostle.  And now, Burlington Coat Factory.  Are you enjoying your entry into the greatest liars in the history of mankind?

This weekend was not the first time you've done me harm.  When I was two, my mother took my sister and me to the original Burlington Coat Factory in Burlington, NJ.  Back then, you were a clothier known mainly for your selections in outerwear, even though you did dabble in other garments.  This particular trip was made to get my sister an Easter dress.  Either my mother felt I did not deserve some springtime finery, or she was rightly worried that whatever nice thing I was given would either be ripped off while I screamed "IT'S TOO HOT!" or it would be inexplicably covered in maple syrup within minutes.  Seriously, this is how she dressed me when I was little:

My mother obviously didn't want grandchildren, at least not through me.  My sister could have nice dresses. I got short shorts and halter tops.  It's like were were both playing Julia Roberts in Pretty Women, but I got the early parts of the movie, where she was just an unwashed whore. 

Regardless, I was forced to endure my sister prancing like a princess around while I was given nothing but a baggie of cheerios and a new-found understanding that the world loved my sister more than it loved me.  As I tried to climb onto a bench to eat my cheerios and sulk, the bench proved to be just too high.  I slipped, but luckily I stopped the descent with my face, splitting the skin next to my eye and marring my beauty for life.  Your poorly proportioned changing rooms caused a head injury that most likely has been the only thing that has kept me from being an internationally recognized genius and sex symbol.  To make matters worse, when the doctor gave me a lollipop after I got stitches, he also gave my sister one.  Little Greg saw how cruel the world was that day.

Yesterday, almost twenty seven years to that bleak day, I drove to the Burlington Coat Factory in Annapolis, Maryland, hoping to get a new leather jacket.  My current jacket was purchased back during a brief period called my early and mid twenties, when I had what doctors refer to as a "horrific problem with overeating".  The theory was that it may have been based off of a traumatic head injury early in life.  Now, this jacket is much too large, and I have been looking for a nice replacement.  Having had no luck near my town, I decided that your store would be my best bet, seeing as how the word "Coat" is in your name, and coat is the Polynesian word for jacket. 

I entered the cavernous warehouse of a store, and quickly located the hanging sign for Men's section, and the other for "Big and Tall".  After checking every aisle, it became clear that the only things for sale were shirts and pants.  Nary a jacket, coat, cape or cloak was to be found.  Also puzzling was that your "Big and Tall" section consisted only of shirts 4X and larger.  Big was out in full force, but it seemed that Tall had left town for fear of being eaten.  Even though the store has roughly 111,947 square feet of floor space, the only people actually working at the store were located at the two register, which were clear across the store from the Big and Obese section.  They pointed me to a set of escalators even further away, telling me that the coats were all located on the second floor.

No bad day was ever made worse by a ride on an escalator, especially not one as tall as this one.  You are very clever to have such a wondrously long escalator ride to the coats, because had I not gotten that giddy ride, things would have deteriorated much quicker than they eventually did.

The escalator dropped me off in the midst of a rabble of cribs, strollers and children's things.  Next to that were haphazard aisles of bedding, rows of cheap toys, and odds and ends for a kitchen.  It looked like TJ Maxx and Marshall's dumped all of the things that were too awful for even them to sell.  Most disconcerting was an aisle of umbrellas that looked like Mary Poppin's arsenal.  Finally, I was able to find a sign that said "Women's Coats".  There was a modest selection, spread over a few aisles, and past those, I finally found the men's coats.

I may be prone to exaggeration, but if you had more than ten racks of coats, I will eat one of the several piles of discarded popcorn and pretzels I saw littering the floors of you store.  Every coat was black, or grey, and there were only three coats that were sized XXL, none of which were leather, and none of them were tall.  When I tried one of them on, mostly because I refused to admit total defeat, my arms were stuck in what was clearly only a size large jacket, labeled as 2xl.  Traditional methods of extraction were proving fruitless, and I began to frantically struggle to free myself.

Apparently, your workers only make themselves known when a large man in an undersized jacket is making high pitched sounds and thrashing about your barren Men's Coat section.  Not one, but two workers that were nowhere to be seen previously showed up and asked me if everything was alright.  I assured them that no, things were not alright, and that I feared that things would never be alright again.  They gingerly freed me from my gabardine tomb, and stepped aside as I regained my dignity, and took a less enjoyable ride on the down escalator and out of your awful store.

If you are marketing yourself as a "Coat Factory", perhaps you should have more than thirty coats on hand.  The coat per capita of your store is probably small enough to be a fraction.  This is false advertising.  Either get more coats, or change the name of the store to "Burlington Factory of Cheaply Made Shirts, Ugly Pants, Knockoff Cologne, Broken Household Items, Dirty Floors, and a few Small Jackets."  It is your choice, I don't care which.  Look at it this way: do I call myself Greg "Waffle Baron" Fisher, simply because I make delicious waffles about once a month?  Was I referred to as The King of No Pants because I took my pants off one time at a party?  No, I did that a bunch of times to earn that moniker.

Being a Coat Retailer is not like being a felon.  You are not marked by something because you did it one time. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dear Harrington Casino

I am no stranger to your fine gambling establishment.  I've had a player's card with you since I turned 21, my family ran race horses at your track, and I have dinner at your steakhouse about once a month with the food comps you give me. When I graduated college, the summer of 2005, my friends Spike, Karl Spackler, and I would spend one glorious afternoon a week driving out to Delaware in my Explorer, with nothing but Flogging Molly's Within a Mile From Home stuck in the player all summer, just to bet on some horse races and play some slots.  Karl and I were there the night you reopened with table games for the first time.  Needless to say, we've got a history. So, a few weeks ago, when Karl and Spike and my high school friend Jose and I decided to get some gambling in, you were the logical choice.

After a couple of hours, slots had been played, cigars had been smoked, and good times had been had.  Having lost Jose to the abyss of the blackjack table, I began wandering, trying to find where the others had gotten off to.  Lo and behold, Karl was perched on the last stool of a Rapid Roulette game, with Spike a few chairs down.  I pulled out some money, and took a stool.

Rapid Roulette is kind of a funny game.  There is still a croupier to spin the ball, but the table is all computerized so the only time chips enter the equation is when you are being cashed out.

 Unfortunately, that one concession to a human element would be our downfall that night.

Our croupier was most likely a human.  Her name may have been Tina, but I feel that, from appearance alone, it was changed from "Rumple Fugly" in the recent past.  Obviously fresh off of a job skulking under bridges where she ate goats and posed riddles to weary travelers, she did not seem quite adept at this new indoor job.  Several games in, I placed my bet on the computer in front of me, then looked up to watch the ball spin.  Rumple released the ball, but was not quick enough to pull her paw away.  The ball hit her knuckle, and unceremoniously clunked directly into Red 3.  This was not the first time I have seen this happen.  Standard protocol is to declare the game dead, and to respin the ball.  Rumple Fugly stared at her hand, then at the ball, and in a voice that contained all the certainty of a child wandering in on mommy and daddy making love, said "Uh, winner...3."

Immediately, I called foul.  To be fair, I most likely did something more akin to this:

Spike had left the game a few spins previously, and now Karl wished that he had as well.  A seasoned veteran of my public meltdowns, Karl, in the soothing, placating tone of a man dealing with a bear armed with nail gun, instantly began reminding me that your's is a place that we like, and a banning would be a bad thing.  I persevered in the face of reason, proclaiming general malarky to be afoot.  My shrill tones and large words stunned and frightened Rumple.  She looked panicked, and immediately repeated "Nuh uh" to my accusations, that being the classiest way to let someone know you are so far out of your element that you might wet yourself.  She then was quick to get the next game moving.

In any other casino, when I raised my voice to say, "No, I want a Pit Boss", at least security would have come over, but here at Harrington Raceway and Casino, home of the Tic Tac Toe Playing Chicken, I was ignored.  Tina/Rumple successfully spun the new game, with new bets.  I cashed out, found a pit boss, and told them exactly what I saw.  They tried to placate me and told me they were calling the camera operators to review the tape. Obviously, you find the best approach to complaints is to ignore the complainer until he goes away.  Eventually, I proved you right, and went off to sulk.

There were 10 cameras on the table alone, and you refused to make things right.  I did not care about the bet.  It was $1.50.  So what?  I tend to take gambling seriously, and this affair called your integrity severely into question.

Luckily for you, another of your employees came along later to make my night through the most glorious display of unapologetic laziness I have witnessed.  As I sat at a broken slot machine, I watched Spike win back every cent I had lost.  From behind me, the voice of an angel wafted to my ears.

"Do you care if you play that game?"

I turned to find an attractive, twentysomething slot attendant smiling sweetly.  I looked to the broken machine, back to her, and with every ounce of suavity and charisma at my disposal I blurted out, "Nope!"  She dialed up her smile, and chirped cheerfully, "Good!  Then neither do I.  I'll fix it later" which is the best possible way of saying, "Please, don't get up, or else I will have to work."  She then flew off into the clouds like a Valkyrie. That last part may have been wrong, but that is how I remember it.

Anyway, the moral of the story, Harrington, is that through my diseased logic, laziness is fine, but ineptitude is inexcusable.  Most importantly, what you do has no repercussions as long as you are pretty and flirty.

Ok, so the real moral of the story is I am not a good person, so you can keep my money, and I will continue my patronage of your establishment.