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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also authored several short stories such as "The Devil's Comedian", "The Devil v. George W. Bush", and most recently "Wait Until Tomorrow". He resides in New Jersey. Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: michaelreyes72@hotmail.com

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Trip Nickels of 2008 – 5 Things I’ve Been Griping About, 5 Things I’ve Been Thankful for This Year, and 5 Things to Watch Out for in 2009.

2008 has been an interesting year. We’ve seen the improbable become probable, the stupid become even stupider, and we’ve seen hope and joy supplant fear and torture. It’s been a mixed bag, and really there’s no better way for me to sum it up than this.

5 Things I’ve Been Griping About the Loudest

5. – Movies Studios Are Continuing to Suck!

Between Fox’s Watchmen cock-up and Warner Brothers’ pushing Harry Potter back until next year, movie studios have had it rough this year. Actually, no…they haven’t. Fox set Christmas Day box office records with The Two Bitches and their Puppy; and Warner Brothers gave us The Dark Knight, while leaving Speed Racer to die on DVD, and thinking that Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 was a sequel everyone clamored for. Not to mention Paramount thought they’d slip one past the audience by making them think Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was an actual Indiana Jones movie. Oh, and Universal did the STUPIDEST thing they EVER could have done by releasing Hellboy II: The Golden Army a week before Dark Knight. Oh…and they allowed Mamma Mia to get Green-lit. Yeah…Hollywood giveth and Hollywood taketh away…and we’re supposed to believe the writers deserved more money.

4. – I Don’t Care About Your Kids, Or Their Tastes!

Miley Montana and the Jonas Surprise Gays have made their mark on popular culture, and it’s all because of the shrilling, yelping, harping, crying, and bitching tween market we’ve allowed to dominate a good chunk of our culture. We should be returning power back to the adults…you know, the ones that spend their hard earned money on their children’s shitty obsessions. Yes, I was a huge Britney Spears fan when I was a kid, but I didn’t bankrupt my parents because of it. Hell, I could have gone to meet her when she did an appearance at Macy’s back in 1999. Why wasn’t I allowed? Because I would have had to skipped school, gone to the city, and wait in an ungodly line. That doesn’t mean they didn’t get me anything and everything involved with her that they thought I’d like. My parents fed my habit, but knew when to lay down the law. Parents today…fat chance if the kids would let them order them to go to bed or do homework. The kid collective has drown out the adult voice of reason, and this market that used to be harmless to society is making its way to becoming a big threat to the world. Members of their generation are already superstars who are so spoiled that semi nude pictures of them can’t even ruin their careers…imagine kids like these as diplomats, heads of state, and decision makers. They get away with murder, and we’re supposed to allow it? No. Keep your little shits on their leashes, parent their asses, and keep their goddamn pop pap off of my Internet/Television/Email/MySpace account. While you’re at it, keep them in line in public too. I can’t stand teenagers who can’t shut the fuck up at the movies/at the mall/in bookstores and other public places. I can drive, I pay taxes, and I don’t want to be hassled when I’m trying to watch Quantum of Solace because you couldn’t be bother to tell your significant other to wrap it up or pull out. They’re your kids, your responsibility, so your judgment is called into question when I can’t hear the explosions because your brat is snickering at a text message. Speaking of bookstores, why don’t they sit and fucking read any of the books in the stores? I’m not talking about this Twilight or Gossip Girl bullshit, I’m talking seriously reading adult reading level books. Pick up a Crichton, or a Grisham, or dare I even say a Stephen King book…at least their genre material is more sophisticated on most levels.

3. – George Lucas Needs to Be Put Down!

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull sucked, and I do not blame Steven Spielberg one bit! (He still has to answer for botching Munich, but not by much.) It was Lucas who insisted on the Aliens, it was Lucas who ruined his own franchise and had to wreck his own best friend’s Lego set, and it was Lucas who kept rejecting script after script. (How do you reject a Frank Darabont script? HOW?!) Also, he allowed Star Wars: The Clone Wars to exist. While the trailers looked kinda cool, once the nostalgia (or what was left of it) faded, it looked like a pocket full of Fail! George Lucas, GTFO Hollywood!

2. – “It’s a Girl Thing” is Not An Excuse!

I’m lucky to be dating a really smart woman right now, and I hope to keep dating her after publishing these thoughts. That having been said, through the eyes of a heterosexual male, this has not been a good year for complex women. 27 Dresses, Sex and the City, Sarah Palin, Mamma Mia, and The House Bunny are ALL examples of how labeling something as a “girl thing” does not excuse their entertainment/political value. They are all examples of a product pitched towards women based on a set of criteria that dictates they’ll more than likely enjoy it. (I.E. “They have a vagina, they’ll LOVE this.) 27 Dresses and The House Bunny had very shallow and underdeveloped stories, Sex and the City and Mamma Mia were basically the same movie (except for different ratings, levels of sexual content, and running times), Juno was nothing more than a penis bashing celebration of single motherhood while blaming men for everything and ultimately offering no substance whatsoever, and Sarah Palin somehow combined all of these things along with a “George W. Bush in a Skirt” image/mentality. Yes, men have silly entertainments as well…but that doesn’t excuse their shitty nature either. (I HATED Shoot ‘Em Up, and I shut xXx off after the first 20 minutes.) Maybe I just expect more out of entertainment, but even when my brain is turned off I still expect the most basic of all expectations…to be amused and entertained.

1. – The Writer’s Strike Was Bullshit!

You want more money?! Fine…then retroactively repeal the royalties of the most heinous film releases of 2008, and do all in your power to make sure no only are they erased from the public record, but that YOU PAY THE PUBLIC for having to endure advertising, talk show appearances, and any related media involved in the promotion, production, and distribution of some of the most horrible films EVER. I made a list, but I realized I don’t need to remind everyone of the atrocities you committed on the Silver Screen, and even on the Small Screen. You want to get paid better? WORK AT IT! Don’t beg for money, prove you’re worth it. Write something that’s worth seeing, and toss the bullshit out the window. Make the system your bitch by only producing quality product, and shunning everything else. That’ll make for less overall product, and a hopefully bigger push for quality product. Prove you’re worth the money in ’09, and maybe I’ll retract this. (Note: The Writer’s probably WON’T prove they’re worth the money in ’09, so I should be safe here.)

5 Things I’ve Been Most Thankful for This Year (besides Friends, Family, and Love)

5. – The Dark Knight Kicked Massive Ass and Kung Fu Panda Surprised the Hell Out of Me!

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Dark Knight kicked all sorts of unholy ass; we all know this. I’m actually more surprised that Kung Fu Panda kicked the Hell out of my expectations. I saw the commercials, saw the trailers, even saw the annoying Cell Phone PSA’s at AMC Theatres…and I thought I was predisposed to hate this film. Then the reviews poured in…then the DVD came out, and finally I just said, “Why not? It’s a rental”. I am so sorry I missed this movie in IMAX, because even on a regular definition television it is gorgeous. It’s heavily influenced in Asian myth and filmmaking, plus it can serve as almost a backdoor way into teaching kids about Zen philosophy. Whatever you say about it, it’s still a really, really good movie that isn’t half as annoying as the commercials let on.

4. – Dr. Gregory House, and all of his associates at Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital!

I finally got myself caught up with all four seasons of House, M.D. on DVD; and it’s safe to say that while it’s a procedural, it’s never completely boring or formula driven. While the cases might shake out in very limited variances, the personal stories of the characters are what drives the show home. Most of all, the story of the evolving friendship between Dr. Gregory House and his best friend Dr. James Wilson is one of the best plot points the show has always had to offer. It’s a consistently good show, even more consistently good than 24, and I will be sticking with it until the end. (Or until they massively jump the shark.)

3. – Pajiba Allows Me To Be A (Half) Serious Asshole!

In case no one has noticed, I have an ego. Quite a big one, actually; and as we all know it’s fun to sometimes let our ego out of the cage for a little and just go crazy. ESPECIALLY when we have a very strongly held opinion on something. Pajiba is one of the best places to let ones’ ego hang out, and what’s even cooler is there are other, huger egos to spar with. That is not a bad thing, though some might be a little more abrasive than others. Just suck it up and enjoy…90% of the people there are 110% above the rest of the populace. Go for the reviews, stay for the personalities.

2. – The Cannonball Read, FTW!

Brian Prisco’s literary version of the 1980’s version of It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World has been up and running since September 1st, and it’s a fun event that promotes literacy, as well as flips the bird at Ms. Alabama Pink’s Cancer. The goal is to see who gets to 100 books in a year the fastest, and I am proud to be part of something so fun, so ambitious, and so cutthroat.

1. – America Got It Right!

We voted Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, we gave him a mandate, and so far he looks poised to nobly begin his quest towards fulfilling said mandate. Also, if the current results are any indication, Al Franken will be the next senator of Minnesota; which just goes to show that sometimes smart, funny people can get elected into office. (Particularly when the country is sick and tired of the stupid ones reigning supreme.) Here’s to a return to intellectualism, and may all of the newly elected/re-elected office holders help us become the country we deserve to be in the 21st Century.

5 Things to Watch Out for in 2009

5. – GAH! Now I HAVE to Read “Twilight”!

I bought my girlfriend the first book in the Twilight series because she “wanted to see what the fuss was all about.” The last time she ever checked something out for that very reason was when we went to see Cloverfield (which I raved about constantly), and she wasn’t a big fan. I was kinda hoping history would repeat itself. Not only did she read it in a day (she’s normally a fast reader, much faster than me) but she liked it. She was pleasantly impressed and that it’s a close race between Twilight and Harry Potter as to which one is better. This pretty much seals the fate I consigned myself to earlier…I’m going to have to read the series I’ve been genetically predisposed to hate. I too want to see what the fuss is all about. However, I have a feeling that once Twilight falls, I’ll be looking for a New Moon to Eclipse me as I start Breaking Dawn…right in the fireplace.

4. – Will “Watchmen” Be Any Good?

20th Century Fox is officially the worst studio of 2008. First, they couldn’t produce a worthwhile film if their lives depended on it, and 2009 looks like it’s shaping up to be the same forecast. (They made me suffer through Juno and 27 Dresses (or as I affectionately refer to it as, Heiglfield.), now I’m going to have to slog it through Bride Wars.) Now they’re attempting to delay the release of Watchmen, which looks like the first really good movie of ’09. All because they sat on the rights for 20-some odd years and did NOTHING with them. Warner Bros. got off their assed and picked this one up in turnaround, and I don’t care what the Judge ruled on Christmas Eve…if Fox had a problem, they should have contested it in the beginning. They didn’t, the film is pretty much finished, and in any case it should be too late for Fox to stop this movie. I don’t care about the altered ending; I want the movie in March as promised. As for Fox, you can kiss ANY chance of me seeing XMen Origins: Wolverine goodbye. It looked lame to begin with.

3. – 24 Season Seven HAS to Be Good!

Plain and simple. It’s been almost two years since a full season, and Redemption was ok. It wasn’t perfect, but it was ok. (If anything, it’s shown just how wrong it would be to make a 24 movie at this time. They don’t completely have the hang of the mechanics of a 24 story exclusively within the confines of a full length picture.) It was still a good start towards Season 7, and the trailers for the next season look even better now than they did a year ago. Doubts still linger though, especially with the collective “Meh” uttered by fans after Season 6’s rollercoaster of quality. Good or Bad, it’ll be awesome to see Jack Bauer back on a regular, weekly basis.

2. – Will “The Devil v. George W. Bush” Ever See The Light of Published Day?

I’ve already started revisions and additions to The Devil V. George W. Bush in hopes that I’ll have an “Inauguration Day Edition” finished sometime this year. (Obviously, I’d like to have it done by January 20th, but I’ll probably just write a foreword dealing with the obvious issue of “Hey, this already happened!”. In any event, I’d love to shop this around to publishers sometime in ’09, so that I may be able to publish and sell this piece of work I’m very proud of. Most of all I thank you, the readers, for enjoying the story and for just being there. I hope you like the work you’re seeing here.

1. – Can the Obama Presidency Succeed?

Short of walking on water, the Obama presidency has high hopes pinned on the backs of its officials. This is going to be a big test, seeing as the nation is expecting big things, and some of these demands are admittedly daunting. The American Public needs to keep a couple things in mind. We’re not going to leave Iraq in the snap of a finger, we’re not going to fix the Economy magically, and in short miracles will probably not be worked. What the public should expect from the Obama presidency is a step towards a United States with more integrity in the Oval Office, as well as the beginnings of the great work ahead. Like it or not…November 5th was Day One, and so far we seem to be doing ok. Not perfect, but not abysmal. Also, keep in mind it’s going to take at least most (if not all) of the hopefully first term of Obama’s presidency to wash away all of the stains from 43’s eight years. Overall, keep your expectations muted, learn to steer more towards the middle road, and you might be surprised with what actually gets done.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Curse of the No Repeat Work Week, or “Light FM Stations Can Go to Hell!”

Before we begin, I’d like to welcome my readers back from their holiday breaks. I hope they were as restful and as fulfilling as mine was. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to get back to business.

Today I add something new to the list of shit I can’t stand…“Light FM Stations”. Now, being from Central Jersey, there’s two BIG perpetrators in this heinous market of airwave programming: 106.7 FM, “The Breeze” as it’s more commonly known; and 94.3, “The Point”. Fitting names considering a “Breeze” is just what will kill you once someone nukes the goddamn station, and a “Point” is what you’ll use to gouge out your eyes when you’ve heard that same goddamn Bryan Adams song for the fifteenth goddamn time this year! Listening to a Bryan Adams song ONCE is enough to make me fucking wretch, fifteen times makes me stabby. If there’s anything more absurd than the music that’s played on these stations, it’s the ridiculous listening gimmicks they’ll stoop to.

For instance, “The Breeze” has proclaimed itself as the “Home of the No Repeat Work Week”. What does that mean? It means that the songs they play won’t be repeated at all within a space of one work week. However, this does not exclude the weekends or any other week. Like it or not, you can ask my best friend Snorb about how almost once a week I’ll text him because that Beach Boys song we both like always plays ONCE A WEEK! (That song is “Sloop John B”.) Sure, the Breeze won’t repeat the same songs in the same work week, or through the weekend, but outside of those confines you’re still hearing the same old sterile, repetitive, and earworm pop songs! I don’t want to hear the same damn songs over and over again! I know that the faithful listeners of the Breeze enjoy the repetition of the songs they were once young and free to dance to, but c’mon! If you’re going to limit your airplay to songs between the 60’s and the 90’s, there’s plenty of material to work with. Worse than the Breeze’s “60’s through 90’s Blinders” playlist is The Point’s “80’s through 90’s Aviator Sunglasses” playlist. That’s right, the 60’s and the 70’s have been taken right the fuck out, and left in are all the songs of the 80’s and 90’s that you either know all the words to through osmosis, or didn’t really care for while your parents had them on 45 RPM and converted them to mix tapes once the media took off!

Not to mention, that whole song repetition ruins any emotional meaning of the song you’re listening to. You don’t need to keep playing Faith Hill’s particular brand of mush every goddamn week, it slowly turns into the ramblings of some Hick Chick who realizes she done married the tallest stud in the county! It’s ANNOYING! What’s more, do you know how fucking sad the song “Daniel” is? I love Elton John music, but when I hear the story of a long missed friend/lover being spotted in the clouds EVERY SINGLE WEEK I start to hope that Daniel moved on with some other hot piece of ass or just plain up and died. It’s not tragic anymore, it’s annoying. It’s like reciting Romeo and Juliet everyday for twenty years, you like it at first and wish the ending was different, but by time year Fifteen comes you’re just wishing Romeo would wise up and think about how Juliet is a smart enough woman to fake her own death for him. When this fails to happen, you just find yourself muttering “Drink up, you dumb fuck” when he finally bites the big one.

Perhaps the worst part of stations like this are the DJ’s and Morning Show hosts. You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones who always sound like sunshine is just pouring out of their asses. These people are just like the perky, highly caffeinated, “Gee Golly Gosh, Ain’t Our Boss the Swellest?” mouthbreathers you have to deal with ON A DAILY BASIS within the bowels of your own personal hell, aka “The Workplace”! What makes them think you want to fucking hear them ON THE WEEKEND, IN YOUR CAR, AND IN YOUR OFFICE! In the specific case of “The Point”, they own the insufferable duo of “Lew and Liz in the Morning”, whose highlights are played in commercial form in the evening. You know, so their slavish fanbase doesn’t hurt themselves, thinking that their beloved twosome of talk radio hasn’t left them alone in the world with no one to tell them what to think. After all, they have the auditory equivalent of the lack of object permanence newborn infants have. If Lew and Liz aren’t right in front of them, bantering in a form of torture previously only known to Gitmo detainees, then they tend to be upset that “their voice” has been silenced. Even at this moment, as I write this piece, a man who obviously belongs to the B-Team of “The Breeze’s Finest DJ’s” hacked his way through introducing Paul McCartney’s “Jet”. “Let’s pack up, let’s get on that jet and fly away”, he said as I sat here, dumbfounded that this man knew how to toggle on and off the “Talk” button of the mic. Wow…you hop on that flight, buddy boy! I’ll sit here and watch you Buddy Holly the profession of the disc jockey.

These two stations are also two of the easiest to pick up on your radio while driving through Jersey, and I highly maintain the opinion that they are two reasons why everyone jokes about Jersey! If you were forced to listen to Billy Joel, Elton John, and Terrance Trent Darby multiple times in one week, you'd probably never come back...no matter how much you liked those songs before. Light FM radio needs to die, because if I really wanted to listen to elevator music, I’d hole up in an elevator in my spare time and sing along. Until then, there's always one of my favorite stations in my Jersey existence...105.7 - The Hawk. Why? Because they have "Nights with Alice Cooper", and nothing is more awesome than Alice Cooper spinning the platters and telling you stories and jokes about the good old days. I dare you to try and prove me wrong!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Holiday Survival Guide: Part VIII - Emergency Plans for Outlandishly Impossible Scenarios

I've been inspired to create yet another project. Whether it will be included in a book with "The Devil v. George W. Bush", or given its own book to roam free within, depends on how far I develope it. For now, here's your Christmas/Holiday present dear readers. Happy Holidays to you all, and see you next week!

The following scenarios are fully detailed, and presented in the order of increasing severity. Read closely, these might just save your life:

- “If the turkey burns…”
You’re just going to have to get another one. Run to the local supermarket and get one. But wait…parking’s a disaster. Shit, well then just park out in the outer reaches of the parking lot. It’s ok, desperate times and all that. Ouch! You just fell flat on your ass in the ice. It’s ok, just walk it off. A little pain motivates, so a lot of pain should make you focused as a blade. Wait?! Did that little old just scratch your paint with the door to her Hummer?! What the fuck is that little old biddy doing driving a Hum…you know what, just keep walking. Ok, you’re in the store…DAMN! It looks like there’s no more turkeys left. God-damn it to hell! Wait, there’s one…last…turkey. It is yours, claim it! Quick, before that Soccer Mom who’s been eyeing it intently gets to it. She’s picking up speed. She’s going to get there before you. Wait, what that over there?! SOCK! Sorry…that shopping cart came out of nowhere. You should have been watching where you were going, Soccer Mom/lady/ma’am/bitch! Finally, that turkey is yours! Oh, but wait…you have hardly any money left from buying everyone presents. (It’s not your fault the little brats wanted Bratz dolls, and somehow in the holiday spirit you decided to buy one for them. Though it is unfair, because it’s not like they spared the horses on your kids gifts. I mean they got them mitten socks, for Christ’s sake. MITTEN SOCKS! Meanwhile there little girl is tarting it up with her “Bratz Whorz” doll, and pretending to meet a Japanese businessman from out of town. AND YOUR KIDS GET GODDAMN MITTEN SOCKS?! Where’s the justice in THAT?!) It’s ok, the turkey’s free because you bought over $1000 worth of food already. You would have gotten six free turkeys actually, but you were in such a rush that you missed the fresh batch of turkeys they JUST PUT OUT! The Soccer Cunt is laughing at you, laughing like a villain. Grab the turkey and get the Hell out of there. Mind the ice…yeah, that old bitch scratched up your car with her door. Proceed to slash her front, right tire and piss on the gaping hole.

- “If the turkey burns the dog…” What was the dog doing in the oven in the first place?! Launch a full inquiry into the matter, coming to the final conclusion that your uncle placed him in there to keep him quiet about the affair he was having with a local cheerleader. (The dog saw everything, and he wasn’t going to chance that the pooch might squeal. So it was time for Fido to sleep with an electric blanket in the roasthouse.) Proceed to chase your uncle down the darkened alley next to the house, and bring him to justice.

- “If the turkey is poisioned with cyanide…” There’s always fruitcake. If you like that sort of thing.

- “If the fruitcake is poisoned with cyanide…” No one likes fruitcake anyway, order take out.

- “If your overly religious cousin/sister/aunt/best friend/cat decides to lecture everyone on the importance of the season, with their usual holier than thou attitude…” Ask them why the Hell they didn’t offer to do Christmas at their place, seeing as the “spirit of Christ” is so fucking powerful with them. Throw a glass against the wall, offer them some turkey with a side of fruitcake, and a grin that’ll confuse the authorities as they cart you away to the Morningvale Sanitarium. Or at the very least, it’ll cause her to leave before she even tastes the turkey or fruitcake. If the latter case presents itself, don’t forget to follow up with a phone call, preferably with 30 seconds of heavy breathing, before shouting “MERRRRRY CHRISTMASSS!?!” in your most insane/menacing voice.

- “If a Cloverfield monster should interrupt the fun…” Look and see if Santa Claus is riding it. If he is, then you’re probably tripping from the “mushrooms” your nephew saw fit to cook the turkey with, “just to loosen everyone up”. Just sit, breathe deeply, and the feeling should pass. However, if there is an actual Cloverfield monster…HOLY FUCK, RUN! Or if running is not an option, prepare the rocket launcher your parents/in-laws bought and saved because, “The day the Russkies come to town, I’m not going to get caught with MY pants down.”

- “If my parents actually make it through the holidays genuinely smiling at each other, and NOT getting into a tempestuous debacle over who named the dog…” Again, make sure that smartass nephew of yours didn’t sneak some shrooms into the family dinner. If it’s not a drug induced trip, you can do either one of two things:
o A.) Enjoy the peace and love your parents are exuding. (Though, this also might be indicative of shrooms.)
o B.) Mention the fact that your mother is a drama queen, and your father is a fascist. Get the old folks going good and firey, and sit back with your girlfriend/fiancée and a bowl of popcorn. You just bought yourself some time (until New Year’s Day, tops) before having to tell them she’s pregnant/you’re engaged/she’s not really a she.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Intent and Approach for The Cannonball Read

I’ve always been a reader. As such, I keep buying books that I find to be interesting. I also receive a lot of books as gifts, borrow books, check books out from the library, read books upon recommendations, and I’ve always dreamed of publishing a book. So when I came across The Cannonball Read competition, I couldn’t help but join. You see, I’m approaching this as not only an effort of ending procrastination and increasing my bookworming muscles, I’m also looking at this as an experiment.

I have drafted a list of the 100 books that I am intending on reading. I say intending only because some might get bumped off the list by something else, some might not pan out, and some might just hurt. Either way, here are my intents of the Cannonball Read:

1. I’m trying to read books that I’ve bought but never read.
2. I’m trying to read books I’ve been putting off reading because something came up.
3. I’m trying to read some new types of literature, ones I wouldn’t normally read.
4. I support Alabama Pink and her fight against the scourge known as Leukemia.
5. This is an excuse to check out and buy books I’ve been looking for excuses to check out or buy for a while now.

So, with those intentions laid out, here is…The Cannonball Read List O’ Doom (In No Particular Order)

(Please Note: The first three books are already read, and the fourth is in process. After that, it's carte blanche. I culled this list from my own personal stock, recommendations, desires to read books before their film adaptations are seen, and looking at the Author's other mentioned works on Amazon.com. Series are grouped together, and multiple works by the same author will be grouped together as well. Also, suggestions of any sort are welcome. )

Promises to Keep by Joe Biden

A Promise to Ourselves by Alec Baldwin

The Way You Wear Your Hat by Bill Zehme

Why We Suck by Denis Leary

Blood Memory by Greg Iles

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli

Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman
The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Life, The Universe, and Everything
So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish
Mostly Harmless

Spoiled Rotten America by Larry Miller

Next by Michael Crichton

Oscar Season by Mary McNamera

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
New Moon
Breaking Dawn

Dreams of My Father by Barack Obama
The Audacity of Hope
Change We Can Believe In

Just After Sunset by Stephen King

A Hand to Guide Me by Denzel Washington

Walt Disney: An American Original by Bob Thomas

Charlie Wilson’s War by George Crile

Sex, Money, Kiss by Gene Simmons

When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss
Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero

Dewey by Vicky Myron

Revenge by Stephen Fry

The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie

Ordinary Men by Christpoher R. Browning

A Death in Venice by Daniel Silva

In Harm’s Way by Douglas Stanton

The Pythons by Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Diaries 1969 – 1979: The Python Years by Michael Palin

Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin

Hey Nostradamus by Douglas Coupland

Dead Star Twilight by Chez Pazienza

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

The Good Guy by Dean Koontz
The Darkest Evening of the Year

Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard

Your Movie Sucks by Roger Ebert

Brave New World by Alodus Huxley
Brave New World Revisited

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

A Good Woman by Danielle Steel

Star by Pamela Anderson
Star Struck

How To Make Love Like A Porn Star by Jenna Jameson

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Snowball’s Chance by John Reed

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
The Bourne Supremacy
The Bourne Ultimatum

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
Live and Let Die
Diamonds Are Forever
From Russia With Love
Dr. No
The Spy Who Loved Me
On Her Magesty’s Secret Service
You Only Live Twice
The Man With The Golden Gun
Quantum of Solace (the short story collection)

Atonement by Ian McEwan

The Ruins by Scott Smith

Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke

Bush At War by Bob Woodward
Plan of Attack
State of Denial
The War Within

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
Self’s Punishment
Self’s Deception

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

The Nightmare of Black Island by Mike Tucker

The Art of Destruction by Stephen Cole

The Story of Martha by Dan Abnett
Border Princes

(If) I Did It by O.J. Simpson

Dope by Sarah Gran

My Gun is Quick by Mickey Spillane

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (?)

Good luck to all of the contestants, best wishes to Alabama Pink for recovery, and now...time to go promote literacy! As always, I'll urge you all to get involved by going to http://www.pajiba.com/cannonball-read.htm. Also as usual, I'd like to give a special thanks to Brian Prisco for allowing me, and all the others, to participate in this clusterfuck of literary wonderment. Sign up starts here: http://gospelaccordingtoprisco.wordpress.com/choose-your-weapon-the-combatants/) look familiar?

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Letter to Jennifer Aniston, or "Another Unsolicited Opinion"

Dear Jennifer Aniston,

Hi. We aren’t familiar with each other, but I have seen some of your work, and I’m here with a message for you: stop the preteen bullshit, and get the fuck over Brad Pitt. Ok, you got dumped…it sucks, it really does. Plus, to add insult to injury, you got dumped for Angelina Jolie, an insanely hot woman. That’s not to say you aren’t an attractive woman, but I’m sorry to say today’s youth isn’t exactly picturing you as “cannon fodder”. Angelina Jolie is not only hot, but she’s also been in many an action picture and fulfilled many a geek’s fantasies. (“Tomb Raider”, anyone?)

What have you done? You’ve done safe Rom-Coms (“Picture Perfect” and the upcoming “He’s Just Not That Into You”) or middle of the road event pictures (Bruce Almighty”, and the upcoming atrocity “Marley and Me”). What has Angelina Jolie done? She’s done everything from crappy Oscar Bait (“A Mighty Heart” and “Changeling”), to dumb fun action pictures (“Gone in 60 Seconds” and “Wanted”), to even movies you never thought she’d be a part of (“Shark Tale” and “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow”). There’s a big difference between your films and her films, just as there’s a big difference between her public persona and yours.

Angie is trying to make herself look like a modern day Mother Theresa, whereas you’re looking like a modern day “scorned ex”. Not to mention you’re dating John Mayer, the pussiest of all pussies (with the exception of his column praising Don Rickles…because he’s Don Fucking Rickles). To put it into stereotypical woman’s terms, you went from 5th Avenue to the Bargain Basement when it comes to the male company you keep. Naturally, people aren’t going to think much of you because you’re making bad choices. So here is a list of suggestions on how to better build your public image.

1. Dump John Mayer, or at the very least decrease his public visability. We’re tired of him, he can take his ball and go home. Besides, you outshine him anyway.

2. Pick up some decent scripts. Hollywood loved you when you did “The Good Girl”. Hell, I might even rent it because I heard it’s good. These are the types of movies you should be doing.

3. Distance yourself from your “Friends” image. Rachel is dead…long live Jennifer Aniston. Play a serial killer, a stalker, maybe a stalking serial killer. And if you really need to…cast Angelina Jolie as one of your victims/the target of your intentions. It might be therapeutic to cast a rival as an antagonist to your protagonist…just ask Orson Welles.

4.Lose the whine. Seriously, when you do that whiney thing with your voice…it’s a complete banana buzzkill. That's one of the reasons I'm not seeing Marley and Me. Your whine, combined with Owen Wilson's whine, makes for one movie I just can't listen to. Take voice lessons, dub your lines over in ADR, I don’t care how you have to do it, just tone it down a notch.

5. Do another South Park guest spot. You were HYSTERICAL in the last one. Better yet, return to 30 Rock every once and a while. You were pretty funny there too.

In the future, I’d like you to think of me as your unofficial publicist. If you have a really shitty script you’re thinking of doing to make the mortgage payment, call me! I’ll set you up with a Merchant Ivory or an indie picture faster than you can say “There Will Be Juno”™ (I’ve copyrighted that title, so don’t even think of stealing it for Plan B productions). You are an attractive woman…it’s just that all this PR nonsense is clogging up your career. Move on, and just keep moving. Once this is all behind you, I think you’ll find your career will open up like a flower in bloom.


Mr. C

P.S. Angie...call me back. I know it’s been a little while since we’ve played “Tomb Raider”, and I assure you all of my scars have healed. (My face even looks like it used to.) Then there was the time you accidentally adopted me, which was fun for a while but I really needed to get home. (By the way, how's "Truthiness", my pet tiger doing?) I’d like for us to be friends. Also, can Brad come out for lunch next Tuesday? George and I were wondering how he’s been handling his Benji Button phase of his career.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Cannonball Read: Entry 3 – “The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin’” by Bill Zehme

CANNONBALLENMAVENHOYYYYYA! It's that time again, kiddies! Entry 3 for the Cannonball Read is up, and it's a great one! Though I must say, I'd like to get a little variety into the list. (I'm even considering reading...*shudder* Twilight, just to see what the fuss is all about.) If anyone has suggestions, requests, or dedications, feel free to post them on the Comments Board. As always, for the uninitiated, here's where to go for all the background you need on this epic quest, http://www.pajiba.com/cannonball-read.htm . Special thanks to Brian Prisco for allowing me, and all the others, to participate in this clusterfuck of literary wonderment. What? You want to sign up? Start here: http://gospelaccordingtoprisco.wordpress.com/choose-your-weapon-the-combatants/ Who knows? You might just get your review published on Pajiba! (Hint hint, Prisco. =P)

It seems, for the most part, that manhood is dead. I don’t know what you call what the young mannequins on television, on the radio, and in the movies; but they’re not men. Pop culture has started to champion the neutered male, the guy who “always calls, takes care of himself, cares about how he looks, and he’s sooo sensitive”. Some call it “metrosexuality”, I call it by its proper name…horseshit. Why? Because Frank Sinatra did all of this shit long before any of these little bastards jumped out of their father’s nutsack, and he didn’t have to look borderline homosexual to do it.

“The Way You Wear Your Hat” began as the Esquire article, “And Then There Was One…” which was also written by the author, Bill Zehme, a senior editor for the magazine. Zehme’s impetus behind his quest: “Men had gone soft and needed help, needed a leader, needed Frank Sinatra. So I wrote to him and appealed on behalf of manhood and mankind.” The book is composed of questions and answers from said article, and is filled with anecdotes, pictures, and mentions of anyone and everyone the Chairman of the Board himself may have bumped up against. Don’t go thinking it’s all Pro Frank propaganda, because he owns up to a lot of stuff that doesn’t seem to make it into all of the portraits painted of him.
For instance, while he was indeed a womanizer and had trouble holding down a marriage, he always felt that he should indeed be a married man. Perhaps it was a product of the culture, or some sort of moral compass, but he enjoyed coming home to someone familiar at night. Everything from his thoughts on fatherhood (he gave Bing Crosby a dressing down on the set of “Robin and His 7 Hoods” about how he beat his children), to his thoughts on love (Ava Gardner was his one and only), to even his sense of style (always, ALWAYS dress formally, preferably in a tux, when doing a show) this book pretty much covers it all. Frank Sinatra was an intensely loyal friend, a person who loved to help others and was more modest than his legendary status would allow him. He also hated being alone, and was always there for his kids, even if he wasn’t always there in person. This book is an easy read, and it just generally makes you realize how much the world still needs the mythos and the facts of Frank Sinatra’s life.

Which brings me back to my initial point…manhood is dead. Manhood is doing all of that stuff that I mentioned in the beginning, but not having to label it or package it. In my humble opinion, a man does whatever the Hell he wants, provided that he doesn’t slight anyone, always plays fair, and always leaves the room a little nicer than when he found it. That means being polite while being fun, and always swing. I would even go so far as to say that in Hollywood today, not only are there few “men”, but there are even fewer (if any) stars. Sure, there’s a lot of “celebrities” but very few stars who shine and brighten up the craft they belong to. This book only further highlights that fact by pointing out that Sinatra hated giving himself praise. He was always the perfectionist, but he didn’t congratulate himself to excess, that was for amateurs. Whether the world will admit it or not, people like Frank Sinatra were popular for a reason. That reason is general likeability, as well as a strong work ethic. He gave so much to the world that he’s still a very part of its fabric to this day. He always will be too, because that old adage still holds true to this very day, “It’s Frank’s world, we just live in it.”

The Next Couple of Books I Intend to Read Are:
- "Oscar Season" by Mary McNamara.
- "Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Lazy, and Stupid" by Dr. Denis Leary
- "Blood Memory" by Greg Iles
- "Next" by Michael Crichton
- "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer (*shudder*)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mamma Mia Cliffs Notes

(Spoiler-rama, kiddies. Avoid if you like pain.)

- Blonde girl from Mean Girls doesn't know who her baby daddy is. She invites the three possible sperm donors to her wedding (which was impulsively proposed by her "boy") and a jet liner showers the title card with sparkley diamonds. Mamma Mia!

- Mommy's broke, the Inn needs fix'in, and she doesn't know who the father is either. On top of that, her cock crazy best friends show up for the wedding too. Mamma Mia!

- Daddy 1 is James Bond, Daddy 2 is Bootstrap Bill Turner, Daddy 3 is Colin Firth. Mommy is Sister Aloysius, Friend 1 is Mrs. Weasley, and Friend 2 is the Whore of Whoville. I wonder who ends up with who?! Mamma Mia!

- Songs are sung, my ears are bleeding, and by the end we find out that James Bond and Sister Aloysius are in lurve; Bootstrap Bill is being stalked by Mrs. Weasley, Colin Firth is a surprise gay and The Whore of Whoville rebuffs the advances of the young bartender whose behavior does not suggest he's straight in the least. (I smell a sequel...which probably identifies that odor coming from Christine Baranski's hoo-ha during the entire length of the picture.) Mamma Mi---*sound of profuse wretching*

- A bachelorette party is thrown, and it feels more like a cosmetic commercial than a musical number.

- Ms. Whoville engages in a musical number that looks like a feminine razor commercial.

- James Bond and Mommy Nun sing the only song in the film that I actually like in the film.

- Mommy and Blondie sing a song during a montage that illustrates their mother/daughter bond. I really can't slam this moment, it's actually kinda cute.

- Blondie and Dakin From The History Boys don't get married, Bond and the Nun do; everyone dances in soap as if it were a rave. Oh, and did I mention THEY NEVER TELL YOU WHO THE FUCKING FATHER IS?! Mamma Mia, the lost M. Night Shymalan masterpiece!

- The movie goes surprise gay itself and has everyone in tight fitting, ugly colored disco jumpsuits. Yes, even the men. Mamma...FUCKING...Mia, Assholes!

- Clovey, the Cloverfield Monster comes and eats them all; whilst I ride on top of its triumphant head and whoop and holler like Slim Pickens riding the A-Bomb.
- I wake up, pop The Dark Knight into the DVD player, and calm my jangled nerves.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Team “Me!”: How “looking out for #1” helps us all

I started this piece originally for submission to a publisher, in hopes of publishing a Mr. Controversy book. This was going to be an exclusive piece for said book, but I decided against it because somehow I just think this wouldn't work for the submission process. I might use it anyway, but I figured why not share anyway. Oddly enough, if anyone wants to suggest pieces that should go into an eventual book, feel free to email me your suggestions at mrcontroversyonline@yahoo.com.

“It is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out howthe strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better.The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face ismarred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs andcomes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the greatdevotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who, at the best, knowsin the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, at leastfails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with thosetimid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt(1858-1919, Twenty-sixth President of the USA)

Do not mistake the following as an excuse. I am not saying that one person’s needs are always ahead of everyone else’s. What this is meant to be is a justification of what a friend of mine would call “rational egoism”. (This friend is an Objectivist, so some of the credit does go to Ayn Rand, even if I haven’t read any of her books.) I would have to somewhat agree with this phenomenon though. Somewhere along the line in the culture we live in, it became a sin to care for yourself. The “common goal” has snuck into parts of our culture, particularly the workplace, and it’s changed the dynamics of business. What used to be a society of “go-getters”, “self starters”, and those who could “pull themselves up with their bootstraps” has now turned itself into codependents and “team players”.

Where does this leave the unscrupulous, or even the scrupulous that chose to stay on the path of self centeredness? It leaves them pretty far ahead of the curve, especially in office environments. Those that do not step forward and own their work are pushed aside so someone else can reap the benefits. In some workplace cultures, you can’t even take ownership in your work…even if it has your name on it! It’s such an insignificant part of the company’s operation that no one even bothers to equate its very output with a human action. A computer could do your job, and it would get the same praise you would…the only difference is the computer doesn’t have to pretend to give a shit about their job when performance evaluations come up. What’s more, if you’re in a workplace that’s heavy on nepotism, favoritism, and back door dealing…then what’s to say you’re going to get an equal share of the pie?

This team dynamic isn’t only felt in the workplace. Even in popular culture, the latest craze with teens is “Team This” or “Team That” t-shirts. Such an example would be the popular Young Adult reading sensation “Twilight”, which had its own merchandising push that labeled its readers in the camps of “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob”. This is merely the newest development in the market of being a Teen in this consumer’s market. Ultimately, this “team” thing connects back to the one thing Teens of any era have wanted…to be labeled as “cool”. They want to be noticed, and to do so they’ll blend into a crowd of like minded followers who are the team of self anointed “cool” kids, and proclaim that their team is their identity. They lose the idea of self, and all of their accomplishments go to the team. It’s so much easier in this fast paced world to just lump yourself into a group, but it’s hypocritical to say both “everyone’s special” and “everyone’s a unique snowflake”.

Let’s face it…there’s some people out there that just aren’t special. Sure, they can do special things once and a while; but not everyone is an Olympic athlete who can sing flawlessly in French, make a million dollars just by waking up, and stopping World Hunger with a glare of the eyes. It just isn’t possible, not everyone is that talented. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t work towards being special. All I’m saying is that not everyone is born special. Some people have to work harder than others to see things through in their lives, and thanks to the “team” phenomenon, everyone’s forgotten the most important team in their lives…”Team Me”. That’s right, in this world you shouldn’t be choosing sides, you should be aligning yourself with the sides that ultimately support your side. You are your own side in this skirmish, and you should be doing what’s best for you. To drag “Objectivism” into the mix again, one of the core tenets (from what I understand) is that to do good for others it must be intrinsically good for you as well. You don’t just do good because it is good, you do it because somehow it enriches your own wellbeing. That, of course, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do good things for others; really, you can rationalize around that one by saying that doing good for others makes you a better, well rounded individual. But whatever the case, doing good as a hollow, backdoor absolution for guilt isn’t right. You have to mean it when you do it, you have to actually mean the good will you’re bestowing upon someone else. Otherwise, it’s useless because it’s not doing anything right for you.

Imagine if you will a world with people that are a little less team oriented, and a little more self oriented. Not so much that they forget everyone else’s needs, but enough that they take a little better care of themselves, and strive to do something better in life. You would truly have an “everyone is special” dynamic in the world today if that were possible, because everyone would look better, would be thinking better, and quite possibly could be making the world better. We can move ourselves back to an idea fueled world, where you’re engaged in healthy competition with one another. Not competition that is bitter and totally self centered, but competition that makes you strive to be better while at the same time helps the field you’re competing in advance. The reason behind this being that while in the collective mindset of a “team”, we don’t work as hard. Everyone in the team puts in a little effort, to contribute to one big effort. The members of the team are not supposed to make their own big efforts, otherwise the leaders of the team would be upset and kick them out. Everyone is supposed to be special, everyone is supposed to work, and no one is supposed to take credit…except for the leader for leading so leader-like. But if the team fractures into smaller factions, everyone has to do a little more work. Everyone supplies that many more ideas, and then if you fracture that faction, you’ll have a fraction of people but a bigger quantity of ideas. The smaller the group is the harder working the members are, and the bigger the share of ownership in the result.

I’m not saying we should all be at each other’s throats in steel cages, fighting for Darwinian dominance. I’m only saying that we should be a little more mindful that while there are other people in this world it shouldn’t be looked upon as selfish to say, “You know what…there’s other people out there, but I’m still important too.” If we motivate ourselves out of the collective mindset, and push ourselves to working for that bigger tomorrow, then who knows what we can accomplish. In short, it would behoove this society to move towards a more “cooperative individual” state. You can keep your teams, but in the end don’t forget that a team is only as good as its members…and members are individual teams themselves.

Friday, December 12, 2008

93 Years...His Way

Happy 93rd birthday to one of my boyhood idols...The Chairman himself, Frank Sinatra. In honor of his memory, here's my top 5 Sinatra tunes of choice:

5. Me and My Shadow

This is the song you sing when you and your buddy plan to do some real damage to the town, and by damage I mean severe depletion of the alcoholic reserves in a local drinking establishment. Or, "Gettin' gassed", as they'd say in Frank's day. Interesting trivia: after being introduced to Jack Daniels by Jackie Gleason, he never left home without it. He always had reserves with him at all times. His preferred drinking method? Straight up, with lots of friends, and from sundown to sun up.

4. One for the Road

This song isn't typical "Sinatra". Gone is the swagger and the swing, and in its place is depression over a dame. This was his more sensitive side, the side that hated being alone. He loved a good party as much as the next guy, and he did have his womanizing ways to carry on...but when he fell, he fell hard. The hardest he ever fell? The day he fell for the lovely Ava Gardner. Ask anyone who knew him, and they'd tell you he never got back up.

3. Come Fly With Me

Picture this: it's a beautiful Spring day, where it's that perfect balance between a chill in the air and the warmth of the Sun. You're driving on a back road with fields, flowers, and beautiful countryside, and this happens to come on the radio. Tell me you wouldn't turn the volume up just a little louder than usual, and sing along with the words. This was back when travel was still new and exciting, where you didn't have to worry about being annoyed by your fellow passengers, and flying in a plane was still a thrill. This was nothing short of the anthem for the Jet Set era.

2. Summer Wind

Another Sinatra song that while it may not be up tempo like most of his other standards, it still swings in its own special way. I really don't have much to say about this one, except it's perfect all year round; particularly during the titular season.

1. Fly Me to The Moon

In my eyes, this is a legacy builder. It's got flowery romantic prose, an up tempo beat, and swing to spare. It's a song that's been used countless times, in countless movies, and countless situations; and it never gets old. The beat is so infectious, you can't help but want to dance to it yourself; and the lyrics so romantic you could easily sing them to the one you love and mean it. It's trademark Sinatra, and it's got all the reasons why we love the man and his music.

The trivia from this post comes from the book, "The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin'" by Bill Zehme; which I'm currently reading in support of the Cannonball Read. Speaking of which, I'm sure you're all wondering why I put a Frank Sinatra picture in all the Cannonball posts. Well, when I signed up for the CR, I told Prisco himself that I felt like I was the Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. of the bunch. Though, I revised my opinion after remembering that yes, Frank Sinatra was in Cannonball Run II with his pallies. Hence the inclusion of the Sinatra picture, taken from Cannonball Run II.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Cannonball Read: Entry 2 – “A Promise To Ourselves”, by Alec Baldwin, with Mark Tabb

I know I was supposed to read "The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin'", but I saw the following book on the library shelf and it intrigued me. For the uninitiated, here's all the background you need. http://www.pajiba.com/cannonball-read.htm Special thanks to Brian Prisco for allowing me, and all the others, to participate in this clusterfuck of literary wonderment. What? You want to sign up? Start here: http://gospelaccordingtoprisco.wordpress.com/choose-your-weapon-the-combatants/

Ask anyone what they thought of the infamous voicemail between Alec Baldwin and his daughter, Ireland; they’d probably tell you that he’s an asshole. Make no mistake, our modern media can be quite quick to judge celebrities and their divorces, leading to snap judgements from the rest of the world. (One woman actually yelled at him, “Why don’t you call your daughter, you asshole?!”, as he walked by a sidewalk café in New York.) I’ll admit, when I first heard the call I thought it was a sign of deficient character myself. It sounded like Alec Baldwin playing a good prick again, only this time it was for real. However, if the world knew what anyone who’s read “A Promise to Ourselves” knows, they’d be a little more forgiving. After all, if you were getting a divorce and the only contact you had with your kid was a phone call, you’d be pissed too if the system kept trying to screw you out of that phone call.

Right from the start of "A Promise to Ourselves", Alec Baldwin makes his intentions clear. The first line says it all, “I never wanted to write this book. Although my experiences with judges, lawyers, and court-ordered therapists during my own high-conflict proceedings left me outraged over the injustices I believe are endemic to the family law system in our society, I had no desire to revisit them." Indeed, it reads like a book he never wanted to write, and that is meant as a good thing. He doesn’t seem to take any particular pleasure in writing about how he came to fall in love with, and then become engaged in a nasty divorce with, Kim Bassinger. (He simply refers to her as “Kim” or “my ex wife” in the book.) He knows that the world has been filled in on the back story, he knows that everyone who’s anyone knows what happened, and he knows that his job in the book is merely to tell his side of the story. Later in the introduction, he further makes his intention clear: "What follows will disappoint those who hope to find a gossipy, salacious tale of a show business marriage gone wrong."

Instead of writing what was probably expected to be a “Hollywood” memoir, Mr. Baldwin has actually written what reads like part memoir, part “How To” book, and part clinical term paper. (Chapter 6 is a clinical breakdown of “Parental Alienation Syndrome”.) It sounds like a weird combination, but it works very well when it comes to recounting the blow by blow of one of the most troubled divorces of modern Pop Culture history. What might come as a surprise to some, Baldwin remains classy throughout the book. The only anguish he really goes into detail about, the only anguish he’s writing his cautionary tale about is that of his separation from his daughter. A separation that was caused by a legal system that is self preserving and impersonal by the descriptions it’s given in this book, and a separation that caused his career to suffer, thanks to his scheduled visits to therapists and his daughter. (There’s finally something to blame the failure of “The Cat in the Hat” on, besides Mike Meyers.)

By the end of the book, we've been privy to stories of how mediation is the best course of action for divorce; how divorce lawyers range from "scum of the Earth" to "guardian angels", and the very thin difference between the two. The California Family Law system is made out to be a funhouse, and Alec Baldwin is like Orson Welles at the end of "The Lady from Shanghai". (Which, oddly enough, starred Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth...another couple ended at the hands of bitter animosity.) Above all else, Baldwin reminds us that in the end this book isn't going to do anything to recover that time that he lost with his daughter. The best he can do is move on and hope that in time, she will understand the ugly, ugly situation she was put into.

Divorce is never easy to deal with, no matter how you approach it, and sometimes the material in this book is very dry reading. If you're a law student with a special interest in Family Law proceedings, this is perfect for research purposes because not only does it offer a full personal account of such proceedings, it also sites several good articles on the matters of divorce and in particular PAS. For the reading public, it’s certainly not a “beach read”. Again, this isn't a typical Hollywood memoir about how it is to work on the set of 30 Rock, or how his performance in Glengarry Glen Ross is now standard monologue fair for rising actors. This isn't a book about the craft, it's an intimate memoir that hopes to help others avoid the horrid state of affairs that were showcases in a years long divorce. If you want the other side of the Baldwin/Bassinger slug fest that was their divorce, and don't mind wading through a little legal and psychological research, then I would definitely recommend “A Promise to Ourselves”. It’s a relatively short book, and it encompasses a lot of life lessons that were learned during this horrific time in Mr. Baldwin’s life. Like him or not, this book is his way to try and help solve the problem of messy, bitter divorces; or at the very least reduce the number of them.

Next Book: [I swear] "The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin'”

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Letter to Andy Samberg

Dear Mr. Samberg,

It has come to my attention that you fancy yourself as a "comedian". I have come to rob you that assumption, for you are nothing nearing the stature or the praxis of a "comedian". For years now SNL has been on a decline, and much like our nation's economical decline, no one has had the knowledge or the courage to acknowledge it. They have lived in silence of these facts that menace our lives, because they are afraid of corrupting traditions that have lasted for several decades. But I say if we can get rid of MadTV after 14 years of tyranical stupidity, then we can sure as hell sink the S.S. SNL if you continue to ride upon its bow like a girlish waif.

Seriously man, between you and the sub par writing, SNL has sunk to levels unthought of after the infamous 1980's cast. We thought we were safe, we thought safeguards were in place, we even had a "Mission Accomplished" banner up in Studio 8H after Jimmy Fallon got canned. Then you came along, with your "Digital Shorts" full of shit, thinking you'd make a name for yourself. Somehow you did, and now we have to suffer through your shitty shitness all the live long day. Fred Armisen is funnier than you, and I honestly don't laugh at him too much. (Except for his Liberace during "Vincent Price's Halloween Special". That was priceless. Also, I enjoyed him in EuroTrip and Anchorman. Come to think of it, maybe the writers just don't know how to write for Fred Armisen, because he actually is funny.)

Real "comedians" make people laugh...you do not. "Lazy Sunday"? Rap has never been less entertaining, and keep in mind I've summered with Suge Knight and Flava Flav, and they both were quite entertaining. [Which reminds me: Flav, you gotta watch your hook shot. Keep practicing, and you'll be able to peg Diddy with a golf ball like a champ in no time.] "Space Olympics"? Are you trying to get us to see "Space Chimps"? (Yeah, you're not getting away easily with that travesty.) "Punching People In The Face Before Eating"? I wanted to punch you in the face before you cracked the bloody joke. Finally, "Dick In A Box"? Sounds like a movie about you sitting in your dressing room...either that, or a documentary about how you were fired from SNL faster than Jimmy Fallon on crack and went to working in a cube farm, like you deserve. I have your number, Samberg. Shape up, and ship out!


Mike R.

P.S. Say hi to your mother for me...because that's the only thing you've ever said that made me laugh, and even then I was laughing because I was pretending it was Mark Wahlberg saying it. And whadda ya know, he did that bit the week after and made me forget you ever laid your hands on it. Bill Hader should kick your ass, seeing as he's one of the only funny regular cast members. (The other two being Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen.)
P.P.S. Stop smirking in your photos...you haven't earned it yet.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Horrendous Pictures 2012 Movie Preview

First off, I'd like to thank you all for reading this blog of mine. It's much appreciated that here we are at 200 posts, and I still have an audience. Here's to 200 posts of dissent, whimsy, and dire political matters. It is on this 200th post that I present you all with my gift to the world, and it is thanks to the almighty Pajiba, and its disiples. As some of you might know, I have gotten into the habit of pitching films. Films that are a mockery of the current Hollywood system, films that play into the trends of today, films that I could probably get produced by Asylum Entertainment.

Alas, the phone grows more dormant by the second; and the only emails I get are newsletters and personal correspondence. So, instead of going all the way to the mountain, I've decided to create my own mountain. It is with this bold spirit of curiousity that I have decided I’m opening up my own production studio. A studio that’ll make, market, and sell the motion pictures I’ve been coming up with. A studio that will live up to its name...I give you Horrendous Pictures!

Our mission statement: Thanks to Hollywood's rampant greed, and its tendency to lower the expectations of the modern moviegoer, we must capitalize on the increasingly less discerning moviegoer. The time has come, and the world is clearly ready for…Horrendous Pictures! Our studio will specialize in mash-ups and unique interpretations 0f “bad” concepts. We will focus on the following markets:

- Teeny Boppers
- Blatant Prestige Pictures
- Remakes
- Board Game/Theme Park/Video Game movies
- Chick Lit Adaptations

Yes, this is pandering, but it's pandering to the highest degree of the lowest common denominator. Also, it reminds us why we're all in the business...MONEY, and boy, are we gonna make truckloads of it with these ideas! The New Hollywood Order starts now, and it’ll all start here at Horrendous Pictures “We put the ‘bust’ in “blockbuster’!”

Business Model: Using the Leopold Bloom method, we’re going to raise a bunch of startup capital for this studio from various movers and shakers in Hollywood, then produce our products that are of “desired levels of quality”. However, in our own improvement to the Leopold Bloom method, our first slate of pictures will be released in 2012, when the world is allegedly supposed to end. That way, if we fail in this undertaking and the public catches on, then we’ll all be gone anyway! No one will be the wiser! However, should the world survive the giant tidal waves that’ll wipe out the Himalayas, and Keanu Reeves’ newly discovered psychic mind thingy powers, then we will be able to keep producing…horrendous pictures. Our slate for 2012 is as follows:

- Winter Dump Picture: “Zoolander Too” – Scheduled for a January/February 2012 release (see previous press release, “Killing Two Birds With One Oversized Budget””)

- Summer Event Picture: “Monopoly” – Scheduled for a July 4th Weekend 2012 release (see previous press release, “What the Monopoly movie SHOULD be...”)

- Summer Dump Picture: “Code Name: Drain Snake” – Scheduled for an August 2012 release

As the war in Iraq rages on, and ineffectual politicians promise “change” and “hope”, one man fights the good fight here at home…Samuel Wurtzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber (himself). Armed with his plunger, a .45, and his bad assed physique, he’s gonna show the world that his colors don’t run.

When terrorists seize Washington D.C. as predicted by Sean Hannity (himself), Sean then starts “The Conservative Underground”. Armed to the teeth with faulty intel, their own staunchly conservative beliefs, and folksy downhome wisdom, they activate their best operative. Joe the Plumber, aka “Drain Snake”, sets off to Washington with his fellow gun toting, kick assed Republican sidekick…Sarah Palin (herself).

Together, they storm a capital overrun by terrorists and gays in an effort to rescue Senator John McCain (himself, courtesy of the Jim Henson Creature Shop) from brainwashed Hollywood celebrities, minorities, and other undesirables. Culminating in a showdown with President Barack Obama (Denzel Washington) at the top of the Washington Monument, Drain Snake is gonna share the wealth…OF PAIN!

(Please Note: Since the Obama Victory, we’ve been debating whether to dump this picture DTV or if we should just release it to “limited markets” comprised of Red States. This will be a point of order at the next staff meeting. Also, if reshoots are to be done in order to change the picture’s admittedly unrealistic ending, we’re going to need to give the Henson Creature Shop at least five weeks worth of prep time. The arms on the McCain animatronic aren’t working properly.)

- Fall Prestige Picture: “Cabin Passion” – Scheduled for a November 2012 release

Salvador Dali (Cedric Diggory) has a secret. The famed artist is unable to walk in the sunlight, simply because if he does, he'll go all warpy like his clock. So, confined to his cabin in the woods, and driven by madness, he sends for a stenographer...a young, rebellious woman with a sassy, punk rock lifestyle (Kristen Stewart) who truly understands his...abstract view on life. By day, he dictates his memoirs to her; by night, they sit by the fire and chat about life in general. But in that Twilight (Brand synergy folks, it worked for "Passage to Marseille".) Hour, they do it melty clock style™. That's right folks, she can't walk in the moonlight because she goes all "melty clock™" too.

Unable to go outside both during the day and at night, they are confined to the cabin together. And the only thing that can cure their cabin fever is each other's souls. Coming November 2012, the prestige picture/teeny bopper shit stain hybrid "Cabin Passion".

(Note: This film will eventually be re-named “Firelight”, and “Cabin Passion” will be the name in which we ship the film to the theatres under. You know, to ward off the rabid fans.)

Conclusion: We here at Horrendous Pictures are dedicated to a certain standard of motion picture…and that quality is “piss poor at best!” It’s a simple deal folks, we just want your money, the only difference is we’re up front about it and at the very least you can laugh at our bad movies. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, but if we could get a reimagining of “Plan 9 From Outer Space”, then we’d be in good shape! Hey, that’ll be the perfect Prestige Picture for 2013, and it’ll compliment our Summer Event Picture for that same year. Get ready for live action Family Guy movie starring Rush Limbaugh as Peter Griffin! To the future, my dear friends; and all of its Horrendous possibilities!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Killing Two Birds With One Oversized Budget

As we enter a Recession that'll probably cost us all a little bit of happiness in the world, those marvels at the Dream Factory known as Hollywood have done it again! Word on the street is there's a proposal out for not only a Zoolander 2, but also a Speed 3. You rememeber those movies, right? Didn't you feel like you were cheated out of these proposed sequels so many years ago when the lights came up and you thought to yourself, "Gee whize, what'll they think of next?" Well, you lucky lucky kids will now get your wish, and I'd like to think I could help them make this happen. Below is a summary for my Zoolander/Speed sequel hybrid, first submitted to the fine folks at Pajiba:

Five years from now...terror is increasing its grip on our Government, and all thanks to the nefariously evil Mugatu (Will Ferrell) and his like of designer gloves that kill you unless you move your hands at a certain speed. The world is in peril, after these gloves are "tested" by Mugatu at the Milan Fashion Show, causing the deaths of many conveniently cameoed celebrities. (Among them, David Bowie, Billy Zane, and Paris Hilton. Really, what are they doing with their careers anyway?)

Mugatu has planned the gloves for a Christmas release, along with a new plus sized model...Senior Amore (John C. Reilly). Senior Amore is a double agent for Spanish intelligence who's so undercover he's working for the bad guys. (This inner turmoil makes all the ladies look past his beer gut, which will be prominently featured for laughs, and stare into his soul, thus attracting them to him like flies to shit.)

There's only one man...NO, TWO men who can stop this menace. Derek (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson). The only problem is...the Government will have to find them. Derek has since retired to run the "The Derek Zoolander Institute for Kids Who Can't Read Good and Want to do Other Stuff Too", and Hansel has become a Scientologist who's gone on to spread the gospel amongst the world. Somehow though, they are called back into action and they'll be reintroduced to the way things are done int he Fashion World...really gayly and with minimal thought.

Together with their own plus sized model companions Sven and Bjorn (Jack Black and Jonah Hill), they'll form their own A-Team and take down Mugatu for good...but only if they can master their new "group look": "Attack Force Delta". A look so powerful, so piercing, that it has to be attempted with four men.

Note to any Studio Execs' assistants who read this: Zoolander Too (get it?!) will be THE blockbuster hit of the January to March timeframe of 2012. I would suggest fast tracking this idea, as well as pushing for a major promotional campaign on VH1, MTV, and any other culurally relevant means.

Note to any Studio Execs, with a grasp of basic math, who read this:
(Bourne Identity + Zoolander 1)/Epic,Date,Disaster Movie and Meet The Spartans = Zoolander Too!

Note to any Studio Execs, without a grasp of basic math, who read this:
Movie GOOD! Money GOOD! Give money to Mike R.! You make money! Money!
Preliminary Box Office Breakouts:
(Domestic) $25-50 million opening weekend in February, with a $10-15 million second and third weekend.
(International) $30-40 million openings starting in March, with $15-20 million second and third weekends.
Seriously Hollywood, you expect us to buy these crocks of shit?! You made us wait 16 years for shitty Star Wars prequels, you made us wait countless years for a really good Batman movie franchise, and you continue to put people like Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl in your movies, and expect us to believe they're LIKABLE! Unless there's a pit of fire, and some immolation action going on, I will NOT subject myself to a Katherine Heigl "romantic comedy" voluntarily. My girlfriend will have to drag me, like she did to 27 Dresses! BRING IT HOLLYWOOD, I'll massacre you!
That having been said, where's that Super Mario Bros. sequel we were promised?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Comeback is STILL a Subjective Term

Dear Britney Spears,

Congratulations! In your 27 years of life on this Earth, your life truly has been a “Circus”. (See what I did there? While I intend to tear you a new one, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t utilize my skills in marketing synergy, taught to me by my mentor/former Vice Presidential nominee Jack Donaghy.) Particularly in the last nine years, you’ve gone from Pop Princess to Sex Kitten, and then leapt straight through to Washed Up Celeb and World Weary Fag Hag in one fell swoop. You’ve out madonnaed Madonna, by going through the phases of her career in only these said nine years.

What do I mean by that? Allow me to explain. You started out as the “Pop Princess”, the unassuming girl who didn’t quite find her “sexy face” as some would put it. Sure, you had videos steaming with double entendre and suggestive dance moves, but you didn’t acknowledge the undertones outwardly. At least, not on the first two albums. By time “Britney” rolled around, you went to full blown harlot, sweating and shimmying into the bedrooms of these men’s heads. It was indeed a new day, and a new Britney…one that would seduce men, while knocking their heads into the wall after getting a little too excited.

It wasn’t until your second marriage (yes, your 55 hour quickie still counts) that you went to the “Washed Up” stage. You stopped making music, and started making babies; just like the big M did. But, in a particularly brilliant move on your part you rolled the “making babies” phase with the “marrying an unbearable prick who may or may not have more talent than you” phase. Only, instead of the unbearable prick having more talent than you, it turned out he had even LESS talent than you. (Funny story: A local Kmart store near me still has the ONLY copy of KFed’s album, “Playing with Fire”, it ever received…from its initial release back in 2006.) After divorce, you went “a little” crazy, lost “a little” hair, and dropped “a little” in the public spotlight; which wasn’t helped by the fact that your album “Blackout” sucked “a little”. (Read: all of those mentions of “a little” should read, “a lot”.)

Which leads us to now…here you are, ship shaped and ready to…OH! I almost forgot…The VMA’s. You know, where you performed “Gimme More” and made even 50 Cent roll his eyes? Yeah, that’s not easy…after all we’re talking about the man who made the movie “Get Rich or Die Tryin’” and expected people not only to make it a hit, but also to take it seriously. Strangely enough, even his expectations are not funnier than your “sexy dance”. You made the room feel as awkward as a room of lusty teenagers at a Christian High prom night…they want to leave so they can do something much more interesting, but they know that if they do they’ll get yelled at. In fact, I think…yes, I have a real time review lying around here from my old blog “Mike’s Monologues”. (For those of you interested, here’s part of the entry, from September 10th, 2007; entitled “Comeback is a Subjective Term”.)

“That is not what we got on the night of Sunday September 9th (or the morning of Monday September 10th if you were smart and just watched it online). No, from Britney Spears we got the Entertainment equivalent of a flaming bag of dog shit on our porch. Tonight, my friends, we shall stomp on that bag with our thick rubber boots, and scrap the remains on the grass. Now, for those of you who'd like to play along at home, load the following web link on you computer:


Watch it once if you'd like, just to drink in the absurdity, and then watch again with the following commentary, properly time coded against the video's clock... Enjoy!

00:01 – The nightmare begins, not hoping for much here.
00:05 – She rears her head. Fear already starts to take control.
00:07 – 00:12: “If you're looking for trouble...just look at my face.” Fuck...talk about truth in advertising. That pretty much sums up the tabloids for the last couple years there, Brit.
00:14 – 00:15: “It's Britney, bitch.” Goddamn, talk about setting the bar low. I'm expecting nothing, and so far I'm being paid off in spades!
00:17 – The audience applauds...probably because it doesn't know what it's getting itself into. Dancers are coming to the rescue...kind of like a SWAT team after the first twelve hostages are already capped.
00:30 – I didn't know you could lip sync a laugh...Jesus Christ, we're doomed.
00:32 – Rhianna realizes she is officially not going to be the most annoying performance of the evening with that goddamn “Umbrella” song.
00:39 – Britney begins to experiment with lesbianism, again...the crowd doesn't buy it, again.
00:49 – Ok, that “woman” that helps Brit up onto the podium looks like a Cher impersonator...a MALE Cher impersonator.
01:11 – The dancing silhouettes in the background...totally look like a riff on Jailhouse Rock. And people wonder why Elvis shot his televisions out with a .45. It's because of shit like this and those Viva Viagra commercials.
01:15 – Britney looks like she has to go really bad. Still doesn't explain the shitty “dancing” that consists of her walking and reaching down provocatively. You're Britney Spears, not Jessica Simpson! Motor skills were your thing back in the day! I guess Kevin did fuck her brains out.
01:29 – Britney does her Larry Craig impression. See guys, this is what happens when you're polite to Britney Spears...she gives you syphilis.
01:38 – When P. Diddy thinks your performance is lacking, you KNOW you have fucking problems.
02:00 – No wonder they keep zooming out for wide shots, even MTV is embarrassed this shit is being shown on their network. And they run fucking Jackass!
02:03 – More syphilis for EVERYONE!
02:17 – After “caressing” our diva, a male backup dancer is probably thinking, “I need a shower!”
02:35 – This is starting to look less like a Britney Spears performance and more like a “Britney's Jazzercise 4 Momz” video.
02:39 – Britney does the whole “squatting while opening and closing her legs” thing, or as I like to call it, “the baby cannon”. Yeah...I wouldn't be surprised if that were true.
02:49 – The silhouette thing is starting to look like a really cool James Bond title sequence gone horribly, and I mean HORRIBLY wrong.
02:53 – 50 Cent is not pleased! You can see it in the gap between his teeth, he's thinking, “Daaaamn, most of my videos aren't this retarded. And I let Beyonce cover one of my songs.”
03:05 – 03:07: “Danger, danger, danger” Wow, this borders on the stupid and the obvious. And once more, Rhianna looks pleased that when she sings “Eh..eh..eh...” no one will bat an eye after enduring “Gimme More”.
03:10 – 03:15: You have now seen some of the stupidest dancing this side of a political fundraiser.
03:24: “I just want more”. You know what they say...“less is more”.

To paraphrase another idol of mine, The Brain Gremlin from Gremlins 2: The New Batch, I know that wasn’t nice of me. Fun, but in no sense nice or polite of me to make fun of you like that. The truth is, you’re a freaking mess. Sure you dropped all the weight, and went back to somehow parenting your kids, which is good news on both counts; but the one thing you need to do is the very thing that made us pay attention to you in the first place…entertain us. Bring back the entertaining and catchy Britney Spears we all knew, and in some cases wanted to passionately date before mating with. Cut some songs that remind us of a simpler time, when Presidents weren’t idiots and entertainment wasn’t so lowest common denominator. That type of stuff is coming back into style you know!

In all seriousness, you look great, and I hope that you feel great and do what’s best for your kids. You’ve been able to wow ‘em in the past and here’s hoping you can rekindle that magic somehow. Don’t turn into poor Amy Winehouse, PLEASE!

Happy 27th birthday, Mr. C

P.S. “Womanizer”…really? This is the single you expect to come back with? I’m sorry, please try again. Whether you like it or not, “comeback” is STILL a subjective term and I don’t hear people yelling “come back” just yet.