the art of choking

It’s everyone’s favorite time of the year: when America’s favorite bandwagon team, the Green Bay Packers, makes the playoffs and gets promptly bounced out by a lesser team.

To celebrate this event, during the 49ers game, I decided to choke on viagra pills. I collapsed on the floor and my wife stuck her fingers down my throat like a little baby and I threw up all over the carpet. My wife, god bless her, called 911. When the paramedics and firefighters showed up, they laughed in my face for wasting taxpayer money. But it worked because minutes later, Robbie Gould nailed a 45 yard field goal, sending San Francisco to the NFC championship.

This actually happened btw

So in solidarity with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, I too decided to choke during the 4th quarter.

It’s a playoff miracle.

roboCop 2: greatest sequel ever made

First off, thank you to those who continually read this blog. I love all of you like a bastard child I never knew I had. But if we did have a child together, then I don’t know you and please don’t reach out to me.

Now on to the subject at hand:

RoboCop 2

The first RoboCop is one of my favorite movies. Paul Verhoeven really knows how to tell a story from the perspective of the film’s ideology while simultaneously letting you in on the joke.

It’s a tough act to follow, and most claim that RoboCop 2 failed to live up to its predecessor. But I disagree. The reviews on IMDB are all over the place. Many say that it’s not a great movie, but there’s no consensus on why it’s not a great movie.

Yes, certain plot details go nowhere. This is probably the result of studio interference, which is typical for highly anticipated sequels. But my question is: who gives a shit? RoboCop 2 was made in the same vein as another infamous sequel released a week earlier: Gremlins 2: The New Batch and it should be viewed in that light.

Is it a GREAT film? Lol, no. It’s not supposed to be. When you make a sequel, you have two options: do something entirely different or double up on the same shit that was done before. The filmmakers chose the latter (which was the right choice).

Now Verhoeven definitely handled the gratuitous violence much more effectively in the first film, but that’s his specialty. At its heart, RoboCop is a satire on consumerism and corporate culture. The horrific violence and sci-fi aspects, which most people remember it for, was just the vessel to tell the story. RoboCop 2 threw up its arms and said “fuck it, we’re just gonna be satire”.

The villains are much more over-the-top, the commercials are much less subtle, and even RoboCop himself is more exaggerated. Many praised RoboCop for its self-awareness, well the same is true for RoboCop 2. In fact, it’s straight up mocking itself.

I’d say that RoboCop 2, along with Gremlins 2, might be the two most self-aware films ever made.

Does it deserve the 5.8 rating it currently has on IMDB? No.

A 6.8 seems more fitting.

“Layer Cake”: Britain’s finest hour

Before his James Bond got blown to shit on some rooftop on a Japanese island in No Time To Die (sPoIlEr AlErT!), Daniel Craig was in what is perhaps the greatest British film ever made: Layer Cake.

While every actor (except Tom Hardy) acts their ass off and every line of dialogue is an absolute banger, the film is perhaps best known as a turning point in film history: introducing the world to Daniel Craig’s god-like body.

Daniel Craig was blessed with being able to make whatever he’s wearing look like it was tailored specifically for him. He spends much of the film wearing the same plain gray raglan t-shirt with Levi’s…an outfit that probably costs $50 total, but it looks like he’s modeling Brioni.

I couldn’t pull off that look. I tried.

Another thing Craig succeeds at is showing his “sex” gaze:

Sorry, this is the best screenshot I could find.

Not to toot my own horn, but I’m happily married now because I mastered that gaze. Now personally, I like to use the Sean Connery method of tilting my head forward, arching an eyebrow, and smiling with my eyes. But every man has to master the “sex” gaze, to knock em dead with one look, if they want to be successful with the ladies (or the fellas).

That haircut is pretty good too. It’s definitely a 60’s style throwback, echoing the aforementioned Sean Connery and his toupee during his James Bond tenure. Unfortunately I’m a balding man, have been since I was 13, so I was never able to pull off that style. But because I’m balding, I’m sort of an expert at spotting hair plugs. And Craig, in my humble opinion, probably has hair plugs. That being said, I’d pay good money to find out who his specialist is.

Another thing on Craig’s style is that pimpin purplish/maroon jacket he wears to start the film:

I’m just gonna go ahead and say it: no man has ever looked as good on film as Daniel Craig did in Layer Cake.

“We get it, you’re in love with Daniel Craig. But what about the film?”

Oh yeah, the film’s good too.

Another shot at the title (part I)

“Get the fuck out of my house,” I told Pablo.

“At least read the script!” he replied.

“Pablo, I have everything I want. I’m happily married to a Vietnamese hooker I met in Van Nuys. I’ve got a son and a house in the hills. I’ve got more money than god thanks to This Taste Like Ass. I’m done with Hollywood. Fuck Kathleen, fuck the studios. I’m retired.”

Pablo shook his head and looked down at his beer. “You know what they say about you?” he asked. “They say you’re a one-hit wonder. That you got lucky with This Tastes Like Ass, and lightening doesn’t strike twice.”

“And they’re right!” I replied.

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this,” Pablo said. “I remember when I first read your script years ago. I said ‘this guy is going places’ and I thought it was a privilege to represent you.”

He stood up and looked at my three Oscars mounted proudly behind a glass case. “When we first met, you told me that the worst fate someone could have in this town is to have a career like Michael Cimino,” Pablo continued. Then he turned around and looked me in the eye. “Do what Cimino couldn’t do. Prove Hollywood wrong: make another great film.”

I looked away. “Like I said: I’m retired,” I replied.

Pablo stood up straight and laid the script down on the coffee table. “I’ll leave this here with you,” he said then showed himself out the door.

I picked up the script.

Like a Fart in a Windstorm by Dallas Austin Antonio,” it read.

***

Later that night, my son put on a film streaming on Amazonian Prime. I don’t remember what it was called. “Big Gay Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” or something. I was too drunk to care.

But my blood began to boil during the sex scenes. The action was not much better. Finally I had enough and in a drunken rage, I slammed my foot into the TV.

“What the fuck is this shit?!” I yelled.

“Dad you’re drunk! Go to bed!” my son, Slick Rick, said.

“Fuck you asshole! My creativity built this house! I own Hollywood! Back in my day, we showed rock hard cock, full frontal nudity, and absurdly graphic violence! Not this pussy shit! No tits, no penis? Why is there a plot? We never cared about that crap! What happened to kids these days!?Hollywood just ain’t the same anymore Slick Rick, I’m tellin ya.”

“Dad, you need to get a hobby,” he replied.

I sat down next to Rick and patted him on the knee. “You’re a good son,” I said. “Now go help your mother.”

I then wrapped my bottle of Evan Williams in a paper bag and began wondering the streets Laurel Canyon.

The next morning, when I woke up in my neighbor’s backyard, I began to ponder Pablo’s words. I took out my cellphone and called him up.

“James, where the hell have you been?” he said. “Your wife’s been frantically calling me, wondering if I knew where you were!”

“Nevermind that,” I replied. “Get me a meeting with Kathleen Kennedy (not THAT Kathleen Kennedy, the other one).”

“So you read the script?” Pablo asked.

“Yes, I took your advice. We’re back in business.”

TO BE CONTINUED

leadership

As you know, I have nothing but regrets.

I’m reaching that age where some of my superiors are younger than me. I don’t begrudge them. They all deserves their spots. Some older guys I work with don’t appreciate that they got passed over, but I think it’s our responsibility…as the “elders”…to bestow upon the younger generation what wisdom we have learned (in my case, what little wisdoms I have learned).

I don’t know if this is a regret I have, it’s more like a big “what if”. I spent some time in the military. Even did three years of ROTC in college. It’s laughable to think I could have been an officer now, but it almost happened (before I realized that I loved drinking WAY more than I loved the military). Despite the abysmal failure of that endeavor, a few lessons stuck with me.

“Just make a decision,” I’d always hear, “don’t worry about if it’s the correct one.” I thought that was stupid advice at the time, especially in a military situation where people’s lives might depend on it. But it seems to make a little more sense now.

Who are the three greatest military commanders of all time? It’s obvious: Captain Kirk, Captain Picard, and Captain Sisko.

The three guys in the middle

“But they aren’t real,” you might say.

So? Real life isn’t real.

I remember Mike Stoklasa praising Bill Shatner’s acting capabilities (in a video discussing Shatner’s hatred of Mike Stoklasa). You can laugh all you want, but it’s true: Shatner is an extraordinarily effective actor. And, for better or worse, Captain Kirk is Bill Shatner and Bill Shatner is Captain Kirk.

Kirk understands that he is playing a part as Captain of the Enterprise. He has to project confidence as its leader because the survival of his ship might depend on it. Shatner, I think, understands that Kirk himself is playing a part, which might explain some of the strange speech patterns he exhibits throughout the series and films.

That’s why I think it’s great that the handlers of Star Trek (at least back then) cast classically trained thespians for the role of the Captain. Just the ability to “play the role” is necessary for the crew to rally behind, even when the leader isn’t completely confident in his (or her) decisions.

Obviously Picard is the superior Captain. No disrespect to Shatner, but Patrick Stewart knows when to dial up the acting and when to hold back (even if, in my belief, Stewart didn’t completely understand the appeal of his character or Star Trek). But what Picard does better than anyone is embrace his mission: “explore strange new worlds”. He seeks out moral quandaries and mysteries because he understands that these hold the secrets of the universe. He’s an explorer but not in the usual sense of the term.

I think to be a leader, one has to be open to that sort of exploration.

Of course, Sisko was far more grounded than either Kirk or Picard. He had a life outside of Starfleet and his job was to navigate the political complexities of a particular section of the galaxy. While Kirk and Picard were explorers, Sisko’s mission was different: he was an ambassador attempting to bring together warring factions. But just like everyone else, he had to “play the part.”

“But those were actors that had scripts,” you might say. “Real life doesn’t have a script.”

True that, but if you understand the more technical aspects of your work, in a sense you kinda already do have a script. You can’t just willy nilly your way through a job, you are confined and in many aspects you have direction. It’s just making the best decision with the options you have.

So I think it’s interesting that the three best Captains in Star Trek history each explore the three most important aspects of leadership: confidence (or the projection of), eagerness to accept challenges, and being the middle man between conflicting parties. But most importantly, “just play the part.”

hire me plz

I’ve always said that my dream job is to be a television writer for some dumb, formulaic show on basic cable.

This is because I’m not only lazy, but I’m also intrigued by entertainment that wants to have it both ways: it wants to display violence in a gritty, realistic manner while simultaneously ignoring the consequences. An example is SEAL Team and SWAT.

I find these shows delightful: many people die, friends get killed or mangled, yet every episode ends with the cast laughing over drinks or in despair over a romantic relationship. It’s completely hypocritical, it wants to show real violence while also numbing us from the true horror of it all.

It’s hilarious.

But all of these programs have identical story beats: the team (SEAL or SWAT) causes disruption, a male lead is banging a female superior, the superior’s superior rips into her, the team is given an imperative to fix the issue, moral quandary ensues, some people die, the day is saved, the team slaps each other on the back, the female superior informs the male lead that their relationship can’t continue, male lead is sad, executive producer credit is shown. (Sometimes there’s a “B” story featuring a secondary character, but no one gives a shit)

These stories can be written sitting on the toilet. And I spend A LOT of time on the toilet.

So CBS, give me a call.