Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

IT WAS NINE YEARS AGO, to the day, that I moved to California from Kansas City. I flew to Los Angeles and stayed at my friends' house for three weeks while I ostensibly searched for a job and an apartment. I ended up only finding the apartment in that time. After the allotted three weeks, I flew back, packed my belongings and my cat Myrna into a Ryder truck and drove out. (The story of that trip can be found here.)

What I remember most about flying to Los Angeles nine years ago is the very last part of the flight, because it seemed so portentous. As we made our descent, approaching Los Angeles from the east, what we first saw was fire. The hills were on fire. Los Angeles, it appeared, was on fire. Because there were wildfires in the hills outside of L.A. at that time that were burning out of control.

And so, as I looked out the window at the city that was to become my new home, I saw acres and acres of fire and tall plumes of smoke. I had left the safety of the Midwest, of Kansas City, where I had spent all of my life up until then, and it was as if I was descending into hell. Or at least into chaos.

I had to laugh, because the imagery was so obvious and heavy-handed. It seemed to scream, "You're making a mistake! Turn back!"

But I knew I was making the right choice. And when I finally arrived in the city with my truck full of crap and my cat, and when I had unpacked all my boxes into my new studio apartment, I was certain. I had made the right decision.

So every year now, as Labor Day approaches and I see the billboards for the Chabad Telethon, I am reminded that it has been another year. And I think about that fire that welcomed me.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Interwebs Are Just Like the Phones!

YESTERDAY MORNING, DURING THE NEWS, those braniacs on the local news programs once again proved themselves to be totally hip to technology. Our local NBC affiliate was talking about John McCain's VP choice, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, and how little was known about her. So they brought on their political expert Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, who is a senior scholar at USC, and has taught at Claremont Graduate University, Loyola Marymount University and Pitzer College. She's also a contributing editor for The Los Angeles Times. So she knows a little bit about politics.

She does not, sadly, know much about the Interwebs, as she proved with her opening remarks. She was asked if she knew anything about Gov. Palin, "I went on the web," she said. Already, I was nervous just at the way she said "the web." She said it like I say "fo' shizzle" or "off the heezy." In short, it didn't sound natural.

She continued: "It was very interesting this morning, when it was said to be a possibility, I tried to Google Sarah Palin -- you couldn’t get in. Obviously, everybody in the world was trying to Google Sarah Palin."

You couldn't get in? To Google? Or to the Interwebs?

Either way, I don't really understand what you mean, Ms. Jeffe. Are you sure your computer was attached to the Interwebs? Was it actually a computer? It might have just been a typewriter sitting next to a TV. Which would explain why you couldn't "get in" to the Googles.

As a side note, I had no trouble getting in to the Googles that very same morning.

But maybe my Googles are fancier than her Googles.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Box Office Fizzle

IT FEELS GOOD TO COME BACK from such a poor showing in one week with a decent showing the next. While I was far too generous (a recurring theme this summer) with The Longshots, over-estimating its numbers by half, I hit the bulls-eye with Death Race, and landed a solid C with my House Bunny prediction. While 75.8% may not seem like much, it is Numberwang!

Death Race
My prediction: $13 million
Actual opening weekend: $12.6 million
Accuracy: 96.9%

The House Bunny
My prediction: $11 million
Actual opening weekend: $14.5 million
Accuracy: 75.8%

The Longshots
My prediction: $6 million
Actual opening weekend: $4 million
Accuracy: 66.7%

Babylon A.D.
And with the release of the latest Vin Diesel movie, the summer has official drawn to a close. Sorry, Vin Diesel, the days when your movie could be included in summer blockbusters has passed. Now, you have to release your movies just outside the summer and peeking in. Like you're a hungry moppet pressing your face against the bakery window, staring at those delicious cinnamon rolls. Why do other people get to have those rolls, Vin, and you do not? It doesn't seem fair, does it? Remember the good old days when you were the voice of a lovable robot from outer space? Now you just act like one. Wow! That was a snap. I totally snapped The Pacifier!
Opening weekend: $13 million
Total take: $40 million

Disaster Movie
What can you say about this sub-genre of movies? Can you call them funny? Can you call them clever? Can you call them necessary? No, they are none of these things. But they are filled with D-list actors doing impersonations of famous people. And that's gotta count for something right? I mean, it's hilarious if you see someone who looks almost nothing like Flava-Flav, but is dressed like him and says "boy-eeee" like him, that's almost like a joke right? Who needs actual jokes when you can replace them with references to famous people? And, failing that, have Tony Cox play Indiana Jones.
Opening weekend: $11 million
Total take: $39 million

Man, I sure hope all the jokes in the movie are as homophobic as the jokes in every trailer.
Opening weekend: $5 million
Total take: $21 million

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mommy, What Are the Animals Doing?

WATCH AND BE DISTURBED. You might think it's a short film about how animals love orgies and orange drink. But it's actually a French ad for Orangina. Whatever the case, you should watch it and then try to describe it to someone else. It's harder than you think.

Thank you, Videogum, for giving me nightmares for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mashed Circus

FOR FANS OF THE F.C. MASH, here's a couple new ones. Lately, it really seems like Billy and Dolly have it out for mom and dad. First, they're unexpectedly bitchy toward mom.

Then, I'm pretty sure they plan to do dad in.

Oh, kids! They say the darnedest things!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Spam Forty: Pour It on the Curb

CAN WE PLEASE STOP TALKING ABOUT BRITNEY’S VAGINA! If I am to believe my spam (and why wouldn’t I?) the world was a-buzz with news about Britney Spears’ magical lady-place. Here’s a small sampling of the Britney vagina-related emails I got during this record-setting week (over 1,900 spams).
Britney’s vagina to attend AA on its own
Britney sues vagina for divorce
Britney vagina transplant to erase fools’ memory syndrome
Britney Spears admits "My vagina made me shave my head bald"

Even sans vagina, Britney was up to no good.
Britney steals Jamie Lynn’s fetus
Britney Spears applies for Barack Obama masseuse job
Britney Spears confession: “I’m the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s Baby!”

In other news, I still receive one (and only one) email a week addressed to “Hey, cat dick!” You know what that means...

Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together…Chart hysteria!

1,923 emails
BMS = 30% (down 4%)

((1/1)) -- 584 Boner Medication (155 VPXL, 82 Viagra/Cialis, 27 Penis Patch, 19 MaxGain, 19 Megadik, 14 WonderCum, 13 LNH Maxdik, 8 PowerEnlarge, 4 Erectifix)
((2/2)) -- 403 Canadian/Online Pharmacy
((3/3)) -- 323 Luxury Replica Watches/Purses
((4/4)) -- 178 Get Out Of Debt/Loan Approval
((5/7)) -- 101 Some Celebrity Sex Related Link or Zip File (39 Paris, 33 Britney, 18 Angelina, 3 Lohan)
((6/10)) -- 48 Online Casino
((7/8)) -- 38 Weight Loss (Anatrim/Hoodia)
((8/5)) -- 36 Inspecific “Look at this!”
((8/9)) -- 36 Pheromones
((10/12)) -- 29 OEM Software
((11/11)) -- 28 Human Growth Hormone
((12/15)) -- 19 Stop Smoking
((13/20)) -- 13 Foreign Gibberish
((14/19)) -- 12 Validate Your Identity (8 SunTrust)
((15/13)) -- 11 Improve Your Health
((16/22)) -- 10 Earn Your Degree
((16/--)) -- 10 Please Watch This Non-Celebrity Sex Video
((18/23)) -- 8 Job Offer/Employee Search
((19/--)) -- 7 Buy Designer Footwear
((19/--)) -- 7 Why Not Open This Mysterious Zip File?
((21/14)) -- 6 Olympic Themed Spam
((21/17)) -- 6 Online Dating Site
((23/--)) -- 4 Pain Relief
((24/--)) -- 2 You Won a Suspicious Foreign Lottery!
((25/20)) -- 1 Free Dowloadable Porn DVDs
((25/23)) -- 1 Hong Kong Bank Scam
((25/--)) -- 1 Electronic Products Wholesale
((25/--)) -- 1 Bigger or Better Boobs

BMS = Boner Medication Saturation
((this week's rank/last week's rank))
-- = new to the chart this week

Monday, August 25, 2008

Are You Hungry For Entertainment?

MY NEPHEW AND I JUST INVENTED A NEW TV SHOW. During a conversation on the instant messenger. It's kind of like the new competitive eating series the Food Network is developing, called Eat The Clock. (That is a real show, by the way.) The idea we came up with is like that show crossed with another popular game show.

Here's how the conversation went down. I told my nephew I was now the boss of him, a charge which he denied. And he typed in "holy crap mean." Which I think was supposed to be "holy crap, man," but I read it as "holy crab meat." My nephew said he would totally eat that sandwich.
Me: Are you trying to be on that hot new game show? EAT THAT SANDWICH!

My nephew: I would be like Let's Make a Deal where nobody actually wins the grand prize.

Me: Nope....they just eat a sandwich. As America watches.

My nephew: Hmmmmmmm. Could it be like Eat That Sandwich Better Than a 5th Grader?

Me: Ha. That's even better.

My nephew: I'd go to try-outs.

So there it is. Get ready for the debut of Can You Eat a Sandwich Better Than a 5th Grader? Trust me. Whether my nephew and I make the show or not, it's going to happen.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Box Office Boo-Boo

MY MENTAL POWERS ARE COMPLETELY UNRELIABLE. That's what this recurring entry has always been about. And it is what drives the wife so crazy. I would have been better off with my Tropic Thunder prediction had I simply copied the actual weekend box office numbers for Pineapple Express and called them my prediction. As for The Clone Wars, I guess the excitement of the kids did not outweigh the apathy of the adults. My 44.2% accuracy on Clone is pretty much in line with the wife's estimation of my mental powers. And when I first saw the box office numbers for the weekend, I thought my other predictions would be in about the same neighborhood of accuracy -- barely over 50% for each of the films. Once I crunched the numbers, though, it didn't look so bad. Don't get me wrong, it was bad. Just not as bad as I had thought. Take a look.

Tropic Thunder
My prediction: $35 million ($55 million)
Actual opening weekend: $25.8 million ($36.8 million)
Accuracy: 73.7% (66.9%)

Star Wars: The Clone Wars
My prediction: $33 million
Actual opening weekend: $14.6 million
Accuracy: 44.2%

My prediction: $9 million
Actual opening weekend: $11.1 million
Accuracy: 81%

Death Race
The opening of Death Race signals the end of the blockbuster portion of the summer. Unlike the original which was directed by oddball moviemaker Paul Bartel (most notably of Eating Raoul fame), this Race comes from Resident Evil trilogy director Paul W.S. Anderson. If the Resident Evil films were his Lord of the Rings, then this movie is certainly his King Kong. Oh snap! No, I didn't! Yes, I did! Wait! What do I mean by that? Do I have to mean anything? Isn't it enough that I just made a clever comparison? I thought that's what film criticism was all about. That and hilarious puns and wordplay. Like saying "Tropic Thunder is a lightning fast comedy." or "Mamma Mia! has the ability to transform even the grumpiest non-musical fan into a 'Dancing Queen.'” See? It's fun! Now, what was I talking about? Death Race? Really? Hmm. Oh, okay. "I don't think that many people will 'race' to the theater, as this film officially marks the 'death' of the summer blockbuster season." Zing! Try coming back from that one, Death Race!
Opening weekend: $13 million
Total take: $60 million

The House Bunny
The fact that industry insiders are talking about how The House Bunny and Death Race will duke it out for the top spot at the box office this weekend, and that they're predicting about $15 million for the winner, shows you how low the box office draw actually is for both films. Whereas Death Race has the reclusive Jason Statham, who only appears in about 13 films a year, Bunny has Anna Faris, who only appears as a ditzy female lead in about a dozen films a year. If the ads for a film are any indication of a film's overall quality, then The House Bunny is in trouble. The "jokes" in the trailers aren't really jokes. Or at least they don't produce laughs. But maybe they're the kind of jokes you're not supposed to laugh about. Maybe the movie is a thinking man's comedy. The kind where you just grin and nod and then feel good about yourself as you walk out of the theater. And then, a day later, you completely forget you've even seen the movie. Sadly, I think that last sentence might be accurate about this film. In fact, I've already forgotten the film, and I haven't even seen it. Or did I?
Opening weekend: $11 million
Total take: $41 million

The Longshots
Hard-core rapper Ice-T and fantastic douchebag Fred Durst (of Limp Bizkit fame) combine for a gritty, gripping psychological look at...a girl who plays football for a high school team? Wha? Well, if there's anyone who knows how to reach our hearts with his light sentimental touch, it's gotta be Durst, right? Because this time he's not doing it all for the nookie, so there's no need to take the cookie and shove it in your ass. There really isn't. Please put the cookie down. This is a family film. 
Opening weekend: $6 million
Total take: $32 million

(NOTE: I somehow missed that The Rocker had a Wednesday opening. So I don't think it's fair of me to put a prediction down for the film now, especially since I already know that it pulled in just over $500,000 in it's first day. Had I predicted anything though, I would have predicted only about $10 million for its weekend release. But I didn't predict anything, now, did I? No. No, I did not. These aren't the predictions you're looking for...move along.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Heroic Mullet

I GOT SEVERAL NICE EMAILS in response to my mugging entry. You remember, it was the blog entry I wrote that mugged you as you read it? Sorry about that. I just love mugging people.

My mother responded to news of my mugging by saying, "Does that mean I'm not getting a birthday present?" Whereas my friend Lindsay was glad that I didn't "have to buy a new wallet." David recommended that I stayed away from Mugger's Corner, offering, "come to my house instead. Drop your wallet in my mailbox. Someone will return it the next day." And a reader from Bangalore appreciated my ability to "make a monkey into a chicken," which I'm guessing is idiomatic in India for "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade." I sort of wish it was just "when life gives you monkey, make monkey-ade" but we can't have everything. Especially not monkey AIDS.

My friend Robert had my favorite response, though, saying, "If you were truly brave, you would post the picture of you in The Answer with that heroic mullet." He's referencing a band I was in back in the '80s, in Lawrence, Kansas. We were called The Answer and we were awesome. We truly saw a million faces, and yes...we rocked them all. And during that time, I had really long hair. Long, permed hair. Long, permed, highlighted hair. With the sides shaved. It was once described as magnificent plumage.

So, to prove my bravery. Here is my "heroic mullet" -- circa 1987. I'm the guy on the left.

You're welcome.

For more even more fantastically heroic mullets, please click here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Family Circus Mash-up

AS I MENTIONED IN A PREVIOUS POST, this one, I have found a way that I can enjoy the Family Circus cartoon. That it's way more entertaining if you swap the punch line out with one from a neighboring single-panel cartoon, like Marmaduke, for instance.

It uproots Family Circus from its wholesome neighborhood and relocates it into a slightly more absurd area.

A place where grandparents are something of a nuisance...

Where fathers may have a darker agenda...

A dark neighborhood, where the accepted social mores no longer apply...

Sometimes, though, the cartoon is improved simply by removing the punch line. Like this:

I like to imagine that Dolly's mom doesn't respond simply because she doesn't have the heart to tell Dolly that, chances are, she will never get married. Or maybe Thel (the mom) is thinking, "That's a good question. How will she ever get married if she remains seven years old forever?"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Spam Thirty-Nine: Steps

JUST A REMINDER, this Internets (the same one that you are reading right now) is filled with all kinds of useful stuff. If you are smart, you can “get your medicaments online.” Yes, medicaments are readily available! Also available: a wide variety of boner info.

Do you, for instance, want to “give your partner new feelings while you have a sex”? Or are you happy with the same old feeling while you have a sex? Because if you “wanna have a strong royal python, not a weak worm” this Internets has plenty of answers for you, like helping you “touch her heart with your new babymaker.”

That would be a new feeling while you have a sex, huh? I’m not sure it would be all that pleasurable for either person involved, but it does fall under the category of new feelings. Disturbing new feelings. Using your new deadly babymaker.

Now, hold onto your shit! We set a record in the spam-o-verse this week by 20 whole emails. Just three shy of 1,600. For some reason, I’m really excited about topping that plateau.

I have problems.

Somebody has to go back and get a shitload of Charts!

1,597 emails
BMS = 34% (unchanged)

((1/1)) -- 542 Boner Medication (169 VPXL, 57 Viagra/Cialis, 33 Megadik, 27 Penis Patch, 13 WonderCum, 13 LNH Maxdik, 10 MaxGain, 5 PowerEnlarge, 5 Erectifix)
((2/2)) -- 340 Canadian/Online Pharmacy
((3/4)) -- 207 Luxury Replica Watches/Purses
((4/3)) -- 134 Get Out Of Debt/Loan Approval
((5/5)) -- 52 Inspecific “Look at this!”
((6/6)) -- 49 Fake Email News Alerts (25, 9 CNN)
((7/7)) -- 45 Some Celebrity Sex Related Link or Zip File (10 Angelina)
((8/8)) -- 37 Weight Loss (Anatrim/Hoodia)
((9/10)) -- 30 Pheromones
((10/12)) -- 29 Online Casino
((11/12)) -- 26 Human Growth Hormone
((12/9)) -- 24 OEM Software
((13/16)) -- 17 Improve Your Health
((14/11)) -- 15 Olympic Themed Spam
((15/17)) -- 11 Stop Smoking
((16/22)) -- 8 View Your Suspicious Ecard Online
((17/20)) -- 7 Online Dating Site
((18/15)) -- 6 Stock News
((19/20)) -- 5 Validate Your Identity (2 Lloyd’s TSB, Chase, 2 Google AdWords)
((20/12)) -- 3 Foreign Gibberish
((20/--)) -- 3 Free Dowloadable Porn DVDs
((22/17)) -- 2 Earn Your Degree
((23/24)) -- 1 Job Offer/Employee Search
((23/22)) -- 1 Hong Kong Bank Scam
((23/--)) -- 1 Do Not Visit This Illegal Websites!
((23/--)) -- 1 Electronic Products Wholesale
((23/--)) -- 1 Trackstick GPS

BMS = Boner Medication Saturation
((this week's rank/last week's rank))
-- = new to the chart this week

Monday, August 18, 2008

Things I Learned About Being Mugged

SO, LAST NIGHT, I WAS MUGGED. It's okay. I was not injured. Even though the guy had a gun, he was polite enough not to point it at me (that would have been rude). And my wallet was returned this morning (sans cash, naturally) by a neighbor. In the last 14 hours I've reflected on my experience and I've learned a couple of things. Mostly what I learned was that I am a terrible witness, especially when I am the victim of a crime. While I clearly saw the man jog toward me (from across the street) with a gun, once he was close by, I sorta kinda blacked out. I have no recollection of seeing his face at all. Below is an artist's rendition of the perp, based on my description.

Although, the gun might not have been that big or that blue. But that is what his face looked like from what I recall. I could lie and say, "I didn't really see his face clearly because it was dark," since it was 9:40 p.m. when I got robbed. But that wasn't the case. I think what happened was I decided not to engage him. The presence of the gun was enough to convince me that he had the upper hand in the situation. My focus from that point on was on not getting shot. I'm selfish like that. So I chose a spot in the air roughly between us to focus on. Not very helpful when one is trying to describe a criminal to the authorities, but it seemed to work okay in the keeping alive department.

Since the mugging, I have replayed the scenario a couple of times, with some embellishment.

Fictional Scenario #1:
After getting mugged on the previous day, I find myself walking the same route home at night on the following evening. At exactly the same intersection, the mugger jogs out from his hiding place behind the hedge and says, "Give me your wallet." Just as he had done on the night previous.

"Okay," I say. Just as I had done on the night previous.

He gestures up the street with his gun and says, "Now run up the street. Run that way." Just as he had done on the night previous.

"Okay," I say just like I did before.

The next morning, my wallet is returned by a neighbor. That evening, for some reason, I am walking that same route around the same time. At the intersection, the same mugger approaches me.

"Fancy meeting you here," I say, while pulling my wallet from my back pocket.

"Yeah," he chuckles, "small world, right?" He gestures with the gun. "You know the drill."

"Yes, I do," I say. And I run up the street away from him.

Again, my wallet is returned the next morning. And again, that next evening, for reasons that continue to escape me, I am alone on the street at 9:40 p.m. And again, I am mugged by the same mugger. Before he can say anything, I hand him my wallet. "We've gotta stop meeting like this," I joke. "People will start to talk."

He doesn't find this funny. I run up the street before he even tells me to.

The next morning, my wallet is back. That evening, I am walking after dark. There is obviously something soothing about this new ritual. Even though it involves a gun and a crime. It's predictable. Like Groundhog Day, only I'm not learning from it. I reach "Mugger's Corner", as I now call it in my head, but this time: no mugger.

I wait for ten minutes, then tell myself, "I'll give him ten more minutes, but that's it."

After six minutes, I walk back home, a little dejected.

The next two nights, I wait alone at Mugger's Corner and then return home, disappointed. The break in ritual has left an emptiness inside me. Even though, I feel like I'm setting myself up for another disappointment, I walk up to Mugger's Corner at 9:40 the following night. I wait a little bit and then the mugger walks out of the shadows. I notice he has no gun in his hand.

"Hey, where've you been?" I say, trying to sound casual. "I was starting to worry."

I make a move for my wallet, but he stops me. "That's all right. I don't need your wallet," he says, not looking at me.

"What? What are you talking about?"

"I don't want your wallet, okay?"

It dawns on me what's going on. "You're mugging someone else, aren't you?"

He doesn't answer.

"Oh my god, you are!"

We don't speak for a long, uncomfortable moment. He breaks the silence. "I guess I could take your wallet, if you wanted me to."

I am offended. "I don't need your pity." 

I walk off. I think I hear him say "I'm sorry" behind me. But I'm too busy fighting back the tears to know for sure.

Fictional Scenario #2:
I am home when my wallet is returned. The man who returns the wallet appears to be a little shy. I ask him what is wrong. After a little hemming and hawing, he looks me in the eye and says, "I'm the mugger. I'm sorry I mugged you."

"Wow," I say, "this is surprising." He looks nothing like the picture of the mugger I have inside my head. That is to say, his face has eyes and a nose and a mouth. It is not a featureless disk. Which is reassuring.

"I just wanted to apologize," says the mouth below his nose on his face. "I only did it because I wanted your money."

"That makes sense."

"I don't have much money, you see, but I do have a gun. And I have found that simply having a gun is sometimes enough to get me money. It's almost better than having a job."

"Well, I will not argue with your logic, since I know you have a gun."

"Yes, I do."

"But if I could offer some constructive criticism...?"

"Oh certainly. I am always looking for ways to improve myself."

"First of all, I will say that your lurking skills are pretty good. Overall, you are strong in the lurking department."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome. Also, you were very polite. You demanded my wallet without demanding it, if you know what I mean?"

"I let the gun do the talking."

"Exactly. Without even pointing it at me. Which, did I mention, I really appreciate."

"You did not, but you're welcome."

"So, those are the good points. Where I think you can improve is in your basic thinking."

"I'm not sure I follow."

"This thinking that having a gun is better than having a job."

"Ah, I see where this is going. So far, it has worked out pretty well for me."

"Which I do not doubt. I'm just saying, and it's just a suggestion, 'just a pitch' as we say in the writing biz: there may come a day when you run into someone bigger and tougher or with a bigger gun. If that happens, things might not turn out well."

"I see what you're saying and I appreciate the note. But I'm going to stick with the gun for now."

"That's fair. It was just a thought."

"No, thanks. Really. I do appreciate it."

"And I appreciate you bringing my wallet back."

"It was the least I could do."

"I don't suppose you were also going to give me back my money."

"Heavens no. I spent that far as you know."

"I figured. Thought I'd ask anyway."

"Right. So..."

"Yeah...awkward, huh?"

"A little bit."

We stare at each other for a short while, then he adds, "'re a writer?"

"Yes, I am."

"Would you be willing to read my screenplay and give me notes?"

"Do you still have a gun?"

"Yes I do."

"Then of course I will."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Congratulations, Spain!

YOU JUST TOOK THE GOLD AND SILVER in the Cultural Sensitivity Olympics! It's a proud day for your country! Your basketball team took the gold.

And your tennis team took the silver.

I guess I'm speaking for everyone in the world when I say I'm a little disappointed that no one in your country stepped up to take the bronze.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Box Office Yo-Yo

NOT GREAT, BUT NOT TERRIBLE. I really thought I had screwed the pooch after I saw that Pineapple Express did over $12 million in its Wednesday bow alone, but business for the film cooled off considerably, dropping my predictions down into solid C territory. Not realizing that Sisterhood was also opening on Wednesday (I am a smart guy like that), I offered no 5-day prediction. Despite that, I was still pretty close with my weekend estimate. Which helped me rebound from my horrible showing last week. Here's the math:

Pineapple Express
My prediction: $32 million ($52 million for five-day opening)
Actual opening weekend: $23.2 million ($41.3 million)
Accuracy: 72.5% (79.4%)

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
My prediction: $12 million
Actual opening weekend: $10.6 million
Accuracy: 88.3%

Tropic Thunder
The more they show of this movie, the funnier it looks. And if so many people are getting offended by it before it even hits the theaters, I've gotta think it's going to kill at the box office. Controversy sells tickets! All of this has, in my estimation, raised the profile of this flick from over-hyped potential blockbuster to authentic blockbuster. It really feels like people are excited about seeing this film, and the film looks like it's a better pedigree of comedy from Ben Stiller, who kinda needs some box office redemption after The Heartbreak Kid, and maybe a little comedy street cred infusion after Night at the Museum. But, hey, what the hell do I know about movies? If you ask the wife, she'll say "not much." Who am I to say she's wrong?
Opening weekend: $35 million
Five-day take: $55 million
Total take: $105 million

Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Man, is this one a puzzler! Initially I thought that this addition to the franchise would end up better than any of the last three crappy Star Wars films. I even added the caveat that "it may even suck, but even so will be a better movie than all three of those horrible films put together." But now I'm hearing some very lukewarm feedback about the flick (and a suspicious lack of buzz). Granted, Warner Bros. has a review embargo in effect until the Friday release, but even geeky Star Wars friends of mine seem borderline bored about it. That said, I think they'll all go see it. Also, since when does word that a Star Wars movie sucks keep people out of the theaters? Attack of the Clones did over $300 million, the only slightly less crappy Sith one did $380. Not that this movie's gonna approach those numbers. But still, time and time again, people prove that they're willing to hand over sacks and sacks of money to George Lucas in return for a handful of non-magical beans. It's not even like he tells us the beans are magical. We just hope they are. Because there was a time that they seemed magical. We are stupid.
Opening weekend: $33 million
Total take: $100 million

Bonus Prediction: Mirrors
It looks stupid. Isn't that enough? Um...I sure hope so.
Opening weekend: $9 million
Total take: $31 million

I'm Worried About Archie & Jughead

AND NOT JUST BECAUSE THEIR RELEVANCE IS QUESTIONABLE. Mostly I'm worried because I don't think that Archie knows how Jughead really feels about him.

It's a little hard to read, but Archie is saying, "Jug, where did you say those knockout girls were?" You see, Jughead has distracted Archie's attention so that he can "gobble his cone." I know Freud has said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." But I think we all know that an ice cream cone is NEVER just an ice cream cone. For instance, is Carmen Electra just innocently trying to enjoy a cool summer treat here?

No, I don't think she is. The imagery is the same, and the message is clear.

Oh, poor Jughead. He can never be honest about his true feelings. He's stuck in Riverdale, a town that remains locked in the '50s. So he displaces his romantic feelings for Archie onto food. According to Wikipedia (the most accurate source of information on the planet), Jughead "demonstrates very little interest in girls, claiming to like food better."

Later in that same Wikipedia entry (and why would the Internet lie?), Jughead is quoted. "No girl is going to make me happy!" Jughead declares. "I'll never eat again!"

And yet he continues to eat. In fact, he gorges himself constantly. Why? Because there's an emptiness inside that can never be filled. An unrequited love. For his redheaded best friend.

It's sad really. It's like Brokeback Mountain. Only with cartoon characters.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Spam Thirty-Eight: Gay-Ass Astronauts

“PERFECT MAKING LOVE IS NOT A JOKE!” I’m serious, people! This is important news I have received in my emails this week. I also learned that the “Catholic Church condemns metrosexuality.” And it’s about time they did. All of that grooming can’t be good for the soul. In related news, “school board adopts gay-ass uniform policy.” From the subject line alone, I could not tell whether this was good news or bad news for students.

Also, did you hear about the astronauts? It was all over the spams: “astronauts pose with the U.S. Snoopy.” At least they didn’t pose with the Russian Snoopy, he’s totally in the mob.

And now a poem created from spam subject lines:
Naked angels seen walking in downtown.
Woman gets humped by bears.
Can you confirm it?
Got hot! So easy!
Gay marriage could be profitable

Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a Chart, you say YES!

1,492 emails
BMS = 34% (up 3%)

((1/1)) -- 506 Boner Medication (176 VPXL, 76 PowerEnlarge, 34 Viagra/Cialis, 18 Megadik, 15 Penis Patch, 10 WonderCum, 9 LNH Maxdik, 5 MaxGain, 4 Erectifix)
((2/2)) -- 340 Canadian/Online Pharmacy
((3/3)) -- 201 Get Out Of Debt/Loan Approval
((4/5)) -- 92 Luxury Replica Watches/Purses
((5/4)) -- 57 Inspecific “Look at this!”
((6/21)) -- 48 CNN Email Alerts (12 Daily Top 10)
((7/7)) -- 39 Some Celebrity Sex Related Link or Zip File (3 Angelina)
((8/9)) -- 35 Weight Loss (Anatrim/Hoodia)
((9/6)) -- 29 OEM Software
((10/11)) -- 20 Pheromones
((11/12)) -- 18 Olympic Themed Spam
((12/8)) -- 14 Online Casino
((12/14)) -- 14 Foreign Gibberish
((12/15)) -- 14 Human Growth Hormone
((15/10)) -- 12 Stock News
((16/18)) -- 11 Improve Your Health
((17/13)) -- 9 Earn Your Degree
((17/16)) -- 9 Stop Smoking
((19/19)) -- 6 Buy Designer Footwear
((20/16)) -- 5 Validate Your Identity (4 Google AdWords, Colonial Bank)
((20/21)) -- 5 Online Dating Site
((22/--)) -- 3 View Your Suspicious Ecard Online
((22/--)) -- 3 Hong Kong Bank Scam
((24/23)) -- 1 Job Offer/Employee Search
((24/--)) -- 1 National Lottery

BMS = Boner Medication Saturation
((this week's rank/last week's rank))
-- = new to the chart this week

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Ultimate!

SOMEHOW, THE WIFE AND I ENDED UP with two more cats. It's unclear how it happened. It was some shelter-induced kitten madness. But we ended up with two more cats and that's just the reality of our situation now. So, in order to appease our new roomies, we had to get another litter box. Now, ordinary people would just get an ordinary litter box. And that's just what I was prepared to do, as I am an ordinary person. But then I saw this:

Holy shit! The Ultimate Litter Box? I didn't even know such a thing existed! Certainly our new cats deserved the ULTIMATE experience while they were defecating! This magnificent advancement in litter box technology even promised that our cats would LOVE the litter box. While I didn't exactly believe that statement, I believed it considerably more than the promise listed below on the label. This one:

Really? The shape of this litter box is soooooo modern that it goes with any decor? Is that really a consideration when purchasing a box for your cats to poop in? Do people really think, "Oh sure, I'd love to buy this litter box, but its Prairie Style design will really clash with my Danish Modern decor."

So, you may be asking yourself, what does this Ultimate Litter Box look like? What is the "shape" that is so modern it compliments any decor? It looks exactly like this:

Trust me, that shape works great with your decor, even if everything in the room is Victorian! Even if you live in a log cabin!

Do you find that hard to believe? You're not alone. That cat doesn't look convinced either.

Of course I bought it anyway. Why wouldn't I?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Box Office Rebound!

THE RACE FOR #1 AT THE BOX OFFICE last weekend was pretty close, but no cigar for a certain Mummy, which missed the top spot by just over $2.2 million. (People still love that Batman guy, despite the weird voice.) Pretty much in the ballpark of the "not much more than $3.5 million" I predicted. I would've had both predictions in the same ballpark had I not decided to give Kevin Costner the benefit of the doubt. Still, a much better showing than the last week. It even earned kudos from the wife. And you know she couldn't have been too happy about that.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
My prediction: $42 million
Actual opening weekend: $40.5 million
Accuracy: 96.4%

Swing Vote
My prediction: $8 million
Actual opening weekend: $6.2 million
Accuracy: 77.5%

Pineapple Express

Seth Rogen + Judd Apatow + gigantic bags of weed = box office success. If Superbad and 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up are any indication, and they probably should be, the Express should do pretty well at the box office. The redband trailer was one of the funniest things on the Internet in the last couple months and all the subsequent trailers and scenes shown on the talk shows haven't made the movie look any less awesome. Look, stoners love comedies and they love shit that blows up. I can't believe no one has combined the two in such a genius way before. C'mon, people! James Franco in a dumpster? He doesn't want to get out of the dumpster, because he's already in it! Damn. I guess it loses something in the translation. Maybe I didn't tell it right.
Opening weekend: $32 million
Five-day take: $52 million
Total take: $89 million

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 there's these pants, right? And they travel. For a second time. And some people, mostly young girls will go see it.
Opening weekend: $12 million
Total take: $44 million

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Spam Thirty-Seven: Celebrity Skin

THERE WAS A LOT OF CELEBRITY NEWS this week that could not be confirmed. But since the source was my spam email folder, I think it’s pretty safe to say the stories were true. Did you know, for instance, that “actress Sienna Miller has had her Brazilian-style hair permed for her upcoming Hippie movie?” Or that “Obama is anorexic over-exerciser?” Or that “Britney Spears [is] pregnant with Antichrist?” All three stories are shockingly true...according to my sources.

Nude celebrities were also popular this week, as evidenced by the Celebrity Sex Related Link or Zip File emails cracking the top 10. Not only was Jennifer Lopez “extremly naked!!!” (yes, three exclamation points), but the Naked Angelina emails continued to flow, despite “bodyguards positioned outside Jolie’s vagina.”

And let me apologize for writing a sentence that included the words “flow” and “vagina.”

That Chart really tied the room together.

1,279 emails
BMS = 31% (down 2%)

((1/1)) -- 394 Boner Medication (86 VPXL, 27 PowerEnlarge, 20 WonderCum, 19 Viagra/Cialis, 17 The Penis Patch, 13 MaxGain, 12 Megadik, 11 LNH Maxdik, 7 Erectifix)
((2/2)) -- 236 Canadian/Online Pharmacy
((3/5)) -- 157 Get Out Of Debt/Payday Loans
((4/4)) -- 107 Inspecific “Look at this!”
((5/3)) -- 106 Luxury Replica Watches/Purses
((6/7)) -- 47 OEM Software
((7/6)) -- 47 Some Celebrity Sex Related Link or Zip File (12 Angelina)
((8/8)) -- 31 Online Casino
((9/10)) -- 30 Weight Loss (Anatrim/Hoodia)
((10/15)) -- 29 Stock News
((11/12)) -- 24 Pheromones
((12/--)) -- 13 Olympic Themed Spam
((13/9)) -- 11 Earn Your Degree
((14/11)) -- 8 Foreign Gibberish
((15/18)) -- 7 Human Growth Hormone
((16/14)) -- 6 Validate Your Identity (3 CitiBank, 2 eBay)
((16/16)) -- 6 Stop Smoking
((18/13)) -- 5 Improve Your Health
((19/16)) -- 4 Buy Designer Footwear
((19/--)) -- 4 The FBI is Watching Us Through Facebook
((21/20)) -- 2 Online Dating Site
((21/--)) -- 2 CNN Daily Top 10
((23/--)) -- 1 Job Offer/Employee Search
((23/--)) -- 1 Weekly Sweepstakes Winner!
((23/--)) -- 1 You Are Living in the Worst City

BMS = Boner Medication Saturation
((this week's rank/last week's rank))
-- = new to the chart this week

Friday, August 1, 2008

Box Office Washout

I TOOK IT IN THE SHORTS LAST WEEK. There's no two ways about it. I predicted moderate disappointment for both X-Files and Step Brothers. When, in fact, it was gigantic disappointment and a strong showing, respectively -- leaving me at 45% and 77% accuracy. Frankly, that's just embarrassing. Here's the numbers.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe
My prediction: $22 million
Actual opening weekend: $10 million
Accuracy: 45%

Step Brothers
My prediction: $24 million
Actual opening weekend: $30.9 million
Accuracy: 77%

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
In a shocking development, the wife and I have a huge disagreement on this film. She says it's gonna do between $70 and $80 million. I say, no way. Right now, the film has a 10% rating on, making it one of the worst-reviewed films of the year. Also, Brendan Fraser's box office appeal may be on the wane, considering the box office take of his other summer release, Journey to the Center of the Earth (just over $60 million in three weeks). Considering the fact that Journey is still in the theaters, I'm not so sure America wants that much more of Brendan in their lives right now. Also, The Mummy franchise feels a little bit like yesterday's news -- or more specifically, news from seven years ago. Ultimately, and even though The Dark Knight is in its third weekend, I think The Mummy will have a tough time besting Batman for the top spot. It'll be a close one, I think, with the #1 and #2 spots separated by not much more than $3.5 million.
Opening weekend: $42 million
Total take: $101 million

Swing Vote
Um...what? Really? So, lemme get this straight. The presidential election comes down to one vote. And that deciding vote belongs to Kevin Costner, who is a drunk boob with a precocious kid. So the two candidates try to woo his vote, and in the end democracy wins? While it sounds adorable and pithy and cute and enchanting and like it will make me want to "stand up and cheer" (something I've never done nor witnessed at a theater, yet something critics claim is a regular and normal reaction to seeing a movie), I can't help but take a look at Costner's track record. I know we all consider him to be a MOVIE STAR. But since 1992's The Bodyguard, Costner hasn't broken the $100 million mark even once. The closest he came was $88.2 million with 1995's Waterworld, which isn't exactly considered a box office success. After that, nothing, not one movie, that grossed over $60 million. Also, since 2000, Costner has released eight movies and averaged $35.5 million per movie. Not on opening box office. If we're talking opening weekends, those same eight movies have averaged $7.86 million. So, I'll give Costner the benefit of the doubt and give him a little more than his current average.
Opening weekend: $8 million
Total take: $35.7 million