Girls, Guns and G-Strings: Return to Savage Beach

I do not like how speculatively she’s looking at that gun.

Here we are! The final installment of the Girls, Guns, and G-Strings collection! Just as a side note here, the series has been awful glib about that Oxford comma, and I’ve probably been inconsistent about applying it as well. The only reason I bring this up is because I liked to pretend this series was about Girls on one hand, and then Guns wearing G-Strings on the other.

Cast: This one is a lot more direct than previous installments, as it’s more or less a direct sequel of both Savage Beach and Day of the Warrior.

Julie Strain, Julie K. Smith, Shae Marks, Marcus Bagwell, Cristian Letelier, and Gerald Okamura are all back as the same characters they played in Day of the Warrior. Rodrigo Obregon plays Rodrigo Martinez (remember how bad Sidaris is with names), the same villainous filipino officer from Savage Beach. Ava Cadell is back in her first appearance since Fit to Kill, playing sexologist and spy radio personality Ava. Carolyn Liu is back as Silk, although she has fuck all to do here.

The role of Doc Austin is now played by Paul Logan, and there’s barely a difference in the actor’s sub-porn level acting ability.

Non-Actor Quotient: Other than previous mentions Strain, Smith, Marks, and Bagwell, Miss September 1993 Carrie Westcott plays Sofia. Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and at the time husband of Julie Strain, plays Ava’s engineer Harry the Cat. Supposedly he’s in the last one, but I didn’t see him.

IMDB Plot Keywords: treasure, softcore, sexploitation, glamorized spy film, spy film

IMDB User Lists Appearing On: Semi-Legit Films with Porn Stars, THE BEST MOVIES WITH LOVE MAKING EROTIC SEX SCENES, Anarkrite’s movies, Series – Lethal Ladies, *beep*

Synopsis: This is the last of the L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies series, and it feels like Sidaris was running on fumes. Paint fumes, specifically. He makes a half-assed effort to tie everything together, but judging by the way Return to Savage Beach plods along — like a fat tourist running to the buffet seconds before it switches from breakfast to lunch — he barely cared.

The Legion to Ensure Total Harmony And Law is tracking a group of terrorists outside of Dallas. This entire series takes place within a short drive of two houses: probably Andy Sidaris in Molokai and Drew Sidaris in Dallas. Tiger and Tyler put a stop to that, muttering their dialogue like they’re trying to hear Little Bill stage whisper it from offscreen.

A woman we later learn to be Sofia dons some red leather and rollerblades (like you do), and sneaks into L.E.T.H.A.L. headquarters pretending to be a pizza delivery person giving out free samples. This totally works, because there are only three people in the building who, due to cutbacks, are forced to share two brain cells between them. Sofia steals a map to the titular Savage Beach, which for some reason still has the gold from the Philippines the Japanese stole in WWII. We get a flashback recap, and it explicitly states that Donna Hamilton and Taryn Kendall (this is the first time she gets a last name!) were L.E.T.H.A.L.’s first agents. All this does is make me miss the relatively solid acting chops of Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton. Rodrigo Martinez, the leader of the bandits (who was blown up by Taryn), was close with Tyler’s dad for some reason. Martinez fell to the Dark Side of the Force, but first gave Tyler a medallion that would be destined to block a bullet. They don’t say that, but that’s literally the only reason you give a medallion to a character.

Meanwhile, Martinez is in his headquarters wearing a Phantom of the Opera mask. Yeah, it’s weird, but Sidaris isn’t done fucking with us. At this point, he’s just interpreting Rorschach blots through the medium of film. Martinez explains that bandits used Savage Beach for years, but for some reason never dug up the fucking gold? Maybe it’s because of that weird Japanese guy, Warrior? Remember him? Well, the movie doesn’t, because he’s not mentioned. Anyway, Martinez and Sofia have this weird love scene where he dresses up like a cross between Zorro, the Phantom of the Opera, with just a smidgeon of Spanish-language Buzz Lightyear, and she’s in some lingerie so complicated you’d need Hans Gruber’s entire gang to get into it.

For no real reason, Willow Black brings in the Warrior from the last movie (not the Warrior from the original Savage Beach — remember, Sidaris is not good with names) who is a good guy now. They at least remember he used to be evil, so that’s more than all the other roles that switched. They even retcon that federal agent Warrior wrestled to death (he was trying to create the most ‘90s scene ever, in hopes to finally unhorse that one Saved by the Bell where Jessie takes trucker uppers) into a serial killer. Yep, a serial killer. And apparently L.E.T.H.A.L. hired Warrior to do it. They didn’t mention it in the last movie because fuck you, you should be masturbating right now. The only upside is Warrior has a pencil-thin goatee, a greasy Caesar cut, and some solid late ‘90s douchebag wear. He’s really in this movie only so Willow can bang someone. The resulting sex unironically references Showgirls’s infamous Dolphin Sex scene, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the series.

Tiger and Cobra are going to fly to Savage Beach ahead of Martinez because this is an homage to the earlier (and better) Sidaris movies. Meanwhile, Doc, Tyler, and Willow will sail there. Fu and Warrior will stay behind to guard… something. It doesn’t matter. Ninjas, led by Sofia, attack Tyler and Doc and kidnap Tyler. Doc does karate like he’s worried his mom will show up in the middle of his yellow belt test.

The heroes reconnect on Savage Beach (although Tyler has to repeatedly kick an overweight ninja to escape, and yes, it’s as funny as it sounds), with Doc wearing a Bruce-inspired ensemble of a leather vest and light jeans, and Willow dressed like a slutty gladiator. Sofia reveals herself to be an agent of Interpol and she busts out an accent that has to be the least convincing French thing I’ve seen since the croissanwich.

“With this cache of black leather vests, I can rule the world!”

The heroes get the treasure back to Molokai, and set up a sting on Martinez. The sting consists of characters explaining the plot of the movie we’ve just watched, then throwing in their origin stories. Long story short: the guy we thought was Martinez was actually his nephew Carlos (seriously), who murdered Rodrigo and impersonated him. Nope, there’s a final reveal where it turns out Rodrigo is fine after all and he’s a good guy now too. The end.

Yakmala? The best Andy Sidaris movies feel like they were written by a fourteen year old on the inside of his Trapper Keeper who was making explosion noises with his mouth the whole time. This has moments of that breathless inanity, but for the most part, it’s a slog of commuting and parking. It even commits the worst sin: making you pine for better movies, and it’s not like they were all that great to begin with.

Posted in Projected Pixels and Emulsion | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wild World of Video for 8/27/14

There was a time when we wanted the future to come and it looked something like this:

We’ll excuse the snowy whiteness of the whole endeavor for the moment because there’s something else going on that I find fascinating. In fact, I’ve been fascinated by Monsanto’s House of the Future since I first learned of its existence in an episode the old Disneyland show from 1958 called “An Adventure in the Magic Kingdom.” The park had a few updates and Uncle Walt needed no excuses to use his program to advertise new offerings there. To a young boy, brought up on reruns of fifties sitcoms and the like, this looked like the future we were promised — again, excusing that the future tended to be whites only — and most likely contributed to my love of that mid-century modernist aesthetic later in life.

But my, did Monsanto believe in its plastics. Looking at it today, all I can see is how easily those “modern conveniences” could go wrong. Chief amongst the maintenance issues I see would be all those mechanized appliances breaking down from use. The counter-tops getting littered as the drop-down shelving falls from failed gears. The inability to get at the irradiated food when that shelf refuses to open. Oh, to say nothing of the whooping junior and sister will get when their horseplay breaks the motors in the lavatory.

Crow T. Robot set it best in Mystery Science Theater 3000’s takedown of GM’s similar “Design for Dreaming” short when he said, “Just because it’s futuristic doesn’t mean it’s practical.”

Fifty years later, all we can see are the seams, cracks and inevitable flaws because we now understand that no one is capable of accomplishing anything anymore. And yet, that clean “it just works” aesthetic continues to be so appealing.

In some ways, it’s sad that we’ve lost the optimism American industry offered in the 1950s, back when the country was monolithic. Granted, it refused to acknowledge certain problem that would fracture it to its core, but there’s something charming about that hope of a shiny tomorrow.

And let’s face it, as the country only further fractures and faces the inevitable truth that it is no longer a single nation, it’s comforting to look at that fantasy future where we all had sturdy homes made entirely — from the floors, walls and furnishings — from plastics.

Well, okay, by everyone, I mean the certain folk welcome in that future.

Posted in Armchair Philosophy, Projected Pixels and Emulsion, Rides & Attractions | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Lifetime Theater: The Craigslist Killer

Late in my critically acknowledged novel Mr Blank, our hero is asked how he got his job of working for every conspiracy, secret society, and cult on the planet. His answer? Craigslist.

If you know an easier way to contact Satanists, tell me.

Craigslist has become shorthand for sleazy rendezvous between desperate people for the same reason I can no longer dress up like a clown and play on any swingsets: because perverts ruin everything. This week’s entry into Lifetime Theater, The Craigslist Killer, is about one such pervert, whose exploits are presented as a big reason why you can no longer use Craigslist to book those massage appointments where you explain how you carry all your tension in your penis. The titular Craigslist Killer showed up to the party, and just like that, it’s over. He’s sort of the Andy Dick of Craigslist, which is weird to say, in that I had always assumed Andy Dick was the Andy Dick of Craigslist.

The film opens in another ‘90s teen movie, appropriate since it’s helmed by Stephen Kay, who gave us the transcendently bizarre Blue-Eyed Butcher. Once again, it begins with a photogenic couple ready to jump into an ill-advised relationship that will only end in murder. This time, it’s straight-A medical student, outgoing party guy, and Young Republican (he mentions this when coming onto our heroine) Philip Markoff, and naive nursing school student Megan McAllister (Agnes Bruckner, who would later play Anna Nicole Smith). Both Philip and Megan work at a teaching hospital in New England, but the set is the very Californian one used in Scrubs, down to the very prominent palm trees visible on the horizon. Philip isn’t just the perfect doctor, he’s damn near the messiah. His Dr. Cox figure (played by the great Sam McMurray), waxes rhapsodical about Philip whenever he can. Philip is basically Jeff Wright, although instead of a penchant for visiting loud nightclubs where women dance in colorful and concealing lingerie, Phil likes to prowl the darker corners of Craigslist. And instead of being in the nebulous world of “business,” he’s got medical training. You’d think that would be mined for creepiness, but no.

The romance is a whirlwind, going from their first date to living together in six months. Philip wins over Megan’s parents with a charm offensive, but remains closed-mouthed about his own folks. This would seem to set up a third act reveal where we see the brackish Freudian muck from which his murderous desires were born, but nope. His mom pops up at the engagement party, and it’s pretty clear he doesn’t want here there, but that’s it. Nothing else. She never appears again.

While Megan plans the wedding, a clearly stressed out Philip decides to work off some steam by booking massages and attacking the women who show up. Like you do. Now, I don’t want to second guess the guy, but when a movie is called The Craigslist Killer, I’m expecting some Craigslist Killings. Philip is the most incompetent moron ever to stumble his way into serial murder, and despite what TV tells you, most killers are not brain surgeons. This chucklehead mostly robs his victims, threatens them a little, and steals their panties (which he keeps under the mattress tied up in socks because… actually I have no fucking clue.) His first victim is played by Banshee’s Trieste Dunn, so while he’s threatening her, I couldn’t figure out why Deputy Siobhan Kelly wasn’t beating his ass like Batman touring a mental hospital. She later tells the cops, one of whom is played by William Baldwin who has apparently learned the secrets of Bowl of Chili acting from his brother, that it’s clear that her attacker has done this before.

And there’s the problem right there. Of the three attacks shown, one is more of a robbery (with a panty-theft thrown in), one is a robbery gone wrong in which a desperate Philip shoots the masseuse, and the last has the woman’s boyfriend/pimp come in and get in a knockdown drag-out brawl. In these three scenarios, Philip manages to kill exactly one person. Jesus Christ, I hope Megan bought safety scissors for the house, or this fucking idiot is going to put out his own eyes. This isn’t even Philip’s job. Craigslist Killing is his hobby. There’s no excuse for not doing it well. So it’s no small wonder that Billy Baldwin, even though he’s clearly suffering after having eaten all that chili before every scene, catches Philip without too much trouble.

Initially, Megan doesn’t want to believe that her perfect man could be murdering women he solicited on Craigslist. It’s worth noting that at this point in the movie, I turned to my wife and asked her if she would believe I was a killer. She responded, without missing a beat, “If there was a crawlspace involved, definitely.” Anyway, Megan continues to deny, deny, deny, even as Billy Baldwin (and his roiling gutful of chili) bring Philip’s online presence to her attention. He posts on a sex addict site, there’s a naked selfie on some profile, and earlier in the movie he appears to take a dick pic. We don’t see it, because, you know, Lifetime. This is the same reason it abruptly gets homo- and transphobic. Apparently, despite the audience never seeing it, Philip was also posting about hooking up with men and specifically transmen. This is the final straw for Meg. Murdering women is one thing, I mean, that’s practically a national pastime! But being bisexual? She confronts him about it while he’s cooling his heels in jail, and when he refuses to deny it, she takes off the ring. This prompts Philips second (and this one successful) suicide attempt.

If there’s one thing I learned from The Craigslist Killer it’s that maybe, just maybe, you should know someone for more than six months before agreeing to marry them. And on the other side of the coin, if you’re going to be a Craigslist Killer, show some respect for yourself. Have a plan. Practice. Really scout your victims. Don’t just jump in and hope for the best. You’re going to end up as a laughingstock.

Posted in Projected Pixels and Emulsion | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Everything You Wanted to Know About Sulfites But Still Won’t Believe Anyway

Hey kids! In light of the ongoing misinformation regarding the issue of sulfites in wine, I thought I’d repost this classic bit of TSS/HuffPost wisdom.

You’re not allergic to sulfites.

Well, probably not.

For some reason the sulfite question has popped up in the wine world a lot recently. I think it’s a combination of an increased interest in organic products in general coupled with an insurgent popularity of so-called “natural wine” amongst the vino cognoscenti. Despite copious writings (including by me) on the virtually non-existent health risks of sulfites, a large chunk of the population either: still doesn’t know about it; doesn’t believe it; or chooses to remain willfully ignorant out of some misguided organic fervor.

Here are the facts:

  1. Various forms of sulfur have been used as a preservative and stabilizer in wine making, as well as in other foods, including most dried fruits, for a very long time. It’s also sometimes used in the vineyard, orchard and garden as a natural pest deterrent and fungicide.
  2. Sulfites have been deliberately used as a preservative in wine making for something like 1000 years and were inadvertently used at least as far back as Ancient Rome. Romans noticed that wine stored in amphorae that had been dried with lamps or fires between uses spoiled less often.
  3. Generally speaking, an entire bottle of wine has fewer sulfites than a two ounce serving of dried apricots.
  4. Although a sulfite allergy exists, it is a very rare and specific anaphylactic allergy resulting in breathing difficulty, swelling and hives–not headaches or nausea.
  5. Generally speaking, white wine has more sulfites than red wine since red wine has additional natural preservatives–such as tannins from the grape skins–so less sulfur needs to be added.
  6. Sulfites are a natural part of the wine making process. Even if you add no additional sulfites, they will still be present in measurable quantities in wine. During fermentation, yeasts convert the natural sulfur in wine (in the form of sulfates) into sulfites. This is also why it is virtually impossible to have a USDA Organic wine even without adding a single drop of sulfites to a wine. Except by random fluke, all wines will have more than 10 parts per million (ppm) sulfites, which is the upper threshold allowed for organic wines.
  7. The human body produces ten times more sulfites in a day than are found in one liter of a typical wine.

In my past experiences as a waiter and wine retailer and in my current career as a wholesaler I’ve encountered exactly one person with a legitimate sulfite allergy. White wines and lighter red wines gave him hives. He still drank more tannic red wines. I have, however, encountered numerous people who claimed to have a sulfite allergy but failed the basic Lemon test, because:

  1. Headache was the primary or sole symptom they mentioned.
  2. Invariably, symptoms were worse with red wine than with white wine.
  3. They were uncompromisingly certain that sulfites were the issue and would not consider any other sources.

There are innumerable things in wine that cause headache including, of course, alcohol. Red wine contains numerous histamines and there is a general consensus that there is something in many red wines that causes headache in certain individuals, but there is no clear idea what that is yet or even if it is native to red wine or to human DNA. Oak barrels also impart histamines and other compounds that add to the cocktail of chemicals in wine that produces adverse reactions.

Cheap, factory-farmed wine has a lot more stuff in it than small production “farm” wine or “natural” wine. It could have citric acid, oak chips, concentrated grape juice and chemical preservatives above and beyond sulfur. There are nights where I consume an entire bottle (or more) of responsibly-produced wine and feel fine in the morning and other instances where I’ll have a glass or two of factory-farmed wine and get a splitting headache.

Unfortunately, there were exaggerated assertions from anti-sulfur activists published on the Huffington Post in the past, and that doesn’t help. If most wines had naturally occurring sulfites of 0-5 ppm, there would be a lot more organic wine out there and more responsible grape growers could trade on the organic name. But the no sulfite-added wines that I’ve worked with generally have around 15-30 ppm and it is inconsistent year to year since small growers don’t have the resources to control and combat free floating sulfur that could blow in from neighboring vineyards.

I believe there is a definitive advantage, in terms of feeling crappy post-drinking, to sipping sustainably farmed, small-production wine that is as natural as it needs to be. But that advantage has nothing to do with the presence or absence of sulfites. Good attentive wine makers use only as much sulfur as necessary to achieve consistency and prevent spoilage, that’s it. And again, except for those with an allergy, sulfites are completely safe by every scientific measure I’ve read.

As a commenter on a past post of mine astutely pointed out, with all this pointed discussion about a simple, natural and safe preservative like sulfur it’s funny that we seem to forget that, of all the chemicals in wine to be wary of, the most dangerous by far is that potent poison, alcohol.

(Please note, I’m not a scientist but merely a curious individual. I did, however, consult a scientist: Dr. Tom Mansell, PhD candidate in chemistry at Cornell University and publisher of the wine and science journal Ithacork. I also consulted the excellent article “Sulfites in Wine” by UC Davis Professor Andrew Waterhouse.)

Posted in Dispatches From Academia, Wine & Cheese | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

New Satellite Show Episode 16: Not About Judy

As the Panel does their best to not talk about Judy, they encounter more trouble at Warner Bros. Justin offers a few sage words about publishing and then learns about his extra hour in the DashCon ballpit. Rob attempts to get confirmation about Jaxxon’s return to the Star Wars Galaxy and Erik reveals a new hatred of Orcs. This month’s Yakmala film is “Quigley,” featuring Gary Busey as a Pomeranian. Yes, you read that right. Host: Erik. Panel: Dante, Rob, Clint, Justin.

Click here or subscribe on iTunes.

Posted in Transmissions | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Now Fear This: Drop Dead Gorgeous

It’s like, a pun or whatever.

Any gathering with old friends inevitably includes this moment: I make a joke about something horrifying and everyone laughs even though you can tell by the pained looks on their faces they kind of hate the part of them that finds it funny. Then one of them says some variation of, “That’s why we keep Justin around.” Like a lot of people who deal in humor, I see the ins and outs of jokes before they happen, and since laughter is fundamentally based on surprise, I laugh at odd things. Consequently, my humor can get a little… dark. I’m not trying to shock anything, I’m just saying something that makes me laugh and maybe it will for someone else. Besides, I’ve learned that the way to deal with darkness is either to laugh or cry, and laughing is way more fun. I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t invite me to funerals.

Back in 1999, my mother told me I had to see this movie, Drop Dead Gorgeous, for one specific scene. That scene is the talent portion of a local beauty pageant in which Stepford Sexbot Becky Leeman (Denise Richards) breathily talk-sings the Frankie Valli classic “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” while dancing with a giant crucified Jesus doll. It’s a brilliant scene that pretty much hits every corner of my sense of humor. It’s the perfect display of that kind of tawdry piety that would become increasingly popular in the following decade, so in addition to being absolutely hilarious, it’s possibly the work of a sorcerer. The film had already won me over by the time that scene rolled around with its odd combination of Midwest grotesquerie, earnest charm, and offbeat humor.

The movie itself is a shaggy dog, concerning itself with the pageant and a few of the characters beyond it, offering a mockumentary evisceration on pageant culture, the boundless rage behind the exaggerated niceness of Minnesota, and pretty much anything else the creators chose to throw in. Those creators are writer Lona Williams, who drew from her actual experience as a pageant contestant in Minnesota, and appears as the third, non-speaking judge, and Michael Patrick Jann who you remember in a few non-speaking roles on MTV’s The State and possibly your nightmares. In a strange way, the world was primed for a story like this. Drop Dead Gorgeous feels like the spiritual heir of two other movies from 1996: the mockumentary structure, absurdist humor, and obsession with small-town minutiae owes a debt to Christopher Guest’s fantastic Waiting for Guffman, while the Minnesota accents and pervasive darkness comes directly from the Coen masterpiece Fargo.

The story opens in 1995 (making this a period piece of a sort), for the 50th Anniversary of the Sarah Rose Cosmetics American Teen Princess Pageant. A documentary crew (predominantly voiced by State ace Thomas Lennon) has arrived in Mount Rose, Minnesota, population 5,076, to witness the city-wide pageant. The winner will go to state, and from there to the big show in Lincoln, Alabama. The exposition is done in a promotional film, which features Adam West lampooning his image a year before Family Guy would call on him to do the same (and prompt TV tropes to turn his name into a participle). The video instantly undercuts the glamor of the pageant by having the host, a former winner, nonchalantly reveal she works at a pork packing plant. The film’s sharpest running gag features characters talking up the importance of the pageant, and then contrast it with some horrible side effect. The most effective features last year’s winner Mary Johanson (Alexandra Holden), a sweet space cadet currently hospitalized with anorexia. Her “triumphant” return to the pageant is too funny to spoil.

The pageant is run by local bigwig and former winner Gladys Leeman (Kirstie Alley, ripping into that accent like no one’s business), and mother of the aforementioned Becky. This should create some kind of conflict of interest, but the entire town accepts that nepotism will carry the day with a sense of grim fatalism. The Leemans are the richest people in their tiny corner of Minnesota, so of course they’re going to come out ahead. This year, there appears to be a serious threat to Becky’s winning: Amber Atkins (Kirsten Dunst) a bubbly trailer park resident who practices her tapdancing while at her after-school job, which is doing hair and makeup for corpses at the local mortuary. The other serious threat, star athlete and president of the local Lutheran girls’ gun club, is shortly murdered on her tractor.

That’s the kind of story we’re dealing with. Someone — and through most of the story it’s heavily hinted that it’s monstrous Becky — is knocking off her competition and really anyone who gets in the way. Her archnemesis is Amber, who through sheer luck dodges several attempts that lay waste to everyone in her general vicinity. There is a ton of darkness in the story, but it’s ultimately the funny kind, as the killers are mostly harmless and everything is through the lens of fundamentally good-hearted Amber. It helps that the movie is damn funny, with many of the jokes, in true mockumentary fashion being muttered asides and actions that directly contradict the story the actors are trying to tell.

The cast is absolutely stuffed with ringers. Dunst is great as Amber, proving that between this, Dick, and The Cat’s Meow, she’s got some seriously good comedic chops. Ellen Barkin gets some good moments as Amber’s mom, balancing her performance between that of a boozy trailer park curmudgeon and genuinely loving mother who wants her daughter to achieve all her dreams. Richards doesn’t even attempt the regional accent here, but she’s not called upon to do much other than act archly, polish a gun, and sing an inappropriate love song to a doll. Kirstie Alley seems to be channeling Sarah Palin in her performance, which is impressive considering the film came out nine years before McCain broke the final seal and unleashed Palin upon the unsuspecting world. Sam McMurray, Allison Janney, and Mindy Sterling all play parts as locals, and these three are basically national treasures who elevate already good material to lofty heights. The contestants feature a few recognizable faces, including Brittany Murphy as giggly Lisa Swenson, reminding us why we loved her, and Amy Adams in her movie debut as dimwitted Leslie Miller. They’re all wonderful, and pretty much any interview with any one of them produces the best laughs of the movie.

As much as I love the film, it does have flaws. The structure doesn’t quite work, as the entire movie is the build up to the pageant followed by the pageant itself… and then another half hour of movie. That’s not to say that the tail end is laugh free — it definitely has its solid moments — but after the pageant, the movie runs out of a lot of the steam its built up. It doesn’t help that the villains are all dead or incarcerated, and all of the non-Amber contestants abruptly vanish from the narrative. The film ends with a “Where Are They Now” that only includes Amber, one of the three judges, and Leslie, which is just an egregious oversight. I bonded with Lisa, Tess, Michelle, and all the others, and a last moment with them should have been required. At least tell me that obvious sex criminal John Dough, one of the judges, had something awful happen to him. That’s all I need.

Drop Dead Gorgeous came back into my consciousness with a piece Buzzfeed ran on it. The movie was a failure at the time, but has picked up a richly-deserved cult audience in the last fifteen years. Considering how terrifyingly prescient it is, we might want to look at it as some kind of lipstick-smeared oracle.

Posted in Projected Pixels and Emulsion | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Some Thoughts on the Week that Was

So the last 7 days or so have been eventful and largely tragic. So, without any particular direction, here are some thoughts….

Ferguson, Missouri. Yet another unarmed young black man shot and killed, this time by a law enforcement officer. It’s frustrating that despite living in a time that is empirically one of the safest in American history, the readiness, willingness, and even eagerness with which a certain segment of the population resorts to homicide despite an absence of a grave and immediate threat of the same to their own person is immensely distressing. Ending a life is a permanent decision and one that impacts hundreds or even thousands of people.

I also firmly hold the belief that law enforcement officers should be held to an even higher standard for the use of lethal force than stand-your-ground redneck nutjobs because their career choice does come with the presumed threat of harm daily and they are more than fairly compensated for the risk. They are trained and equipped with numerous alternatives to lethal force to neutralize a threat. If a peace officer kills a civilian and that civilian is not in possession of any deadly weapons or was not actively using extreme physical force against an officer, that should be a crime. This is happening too often.

Robin Williams. A tragedy, and a particularly poignant one because I think many of us who were familiar with him, his life, and his recent struggles, although shocked by the suddenness of his death, were not wholly surprised he took his own life. Whenever something like that happens, when a known depressive who was so public with his struggle still decides to commit suicide, we’re confronted with two troubling thoughts. The first is that, could we (or SOMEBODY) have done something to help him? The second is a more somber and painful realization that sometimes certain people are beyond help; that there are people for whom life is too much, too painful, and too sad.

The morning of Williams’ death I was met with the news that a friend’s mother had also ended her life in a manner and at an age very similar to Williams. Signs of depression had been there, significant outreach efforts had been made to help her, but short of forced institutionalization, there isn’t anything that can be done to stop someone for whom life has become truly unbearable. Not all suicide attempts are cries for help.

There is something of an epidemic of suicide amongst older Baby Boomers, which researchers are attributing to a number of reasons, especially the social isolation and financial difficulties that come as retirement approaches. The social clubs and fraternal organizations that kept communities together and helped maintain friendships and connections through retirement and into old age, staples of my grandparents’ generation, are fewer and fewer. Community-supported clubs and programs have been eschewed in favor of an “I’ve got mine” attitude hidden behind the rhetoric of lower taxes and smaller government.

I’m not saying community will end suicide–and in Robin Williams’ case he was not want for friends–but knowing that there are people you count on out there and people who count on you won’t hurt.

The most fitting tribute to Williams is the number of people who posted candid photos of themselves with the man. I don’t know a single person more than one degree removed from a personal interaction with Robin Williams. Hell, even my brother met him when he was a child extra in Jack. He gave himself to the world with a compulsive generosity that perhaps ultimately was his undoing, but he had the power to feel like a friend even to those of us who never met him because he gave himself so wholly until there wasn’t anything left to give.

Posted in I'm Just Sayin, Week in Rage | Leave a comment