Sunday, March 30, 2014

Post-Friday Beast Blogging: The Rules of Attraction Edition

RILEY: All right, this is just the sort of presumptuous invasion of personal space up with which I will not put!

RILEY:  I can't even tell whose tail is whose anymore -- Begone!

MOONDOGGIE: You sure about that?

RILEY:  Don't be impertinent. Of course I'm--

MOONDOGGIE:  Smell my foot...

RILEY:  What?  I...No, I'm not going to smell your--


MOONDOGGIE:  That's right, I just walked all over the dirty laundry. My feet are pure funk and pheromones...

RILEY: (SIGH)  I wish I could quit you.

MOONDOGGIE: As long as you've got a nose to smell with, and I've got feet to stink with, we'll always be together.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Happy Birthday, MaryC! By Bill S!

Today marks the birthday of World O'Crap's own MaryC. According to the Internet Movie Database, she shares her birthday with such luminaries as Tennessee Williams, Leonard Nimoy, Diana Ross, Jennifer Grey, Steven Tyler, Vicki Lawrence, James Caan, Teddy Pendergrass, Bob Elliott and Martin Short. But this year, the IMDb's top-ranking celebrity with a March 26th birthday is hunky actor-singer Jonathan Groff.
Groff's high ranking is no doubt the result of his role in the hit animated feature Frozen, which, according to Pastor Kevin Swanson, was produced by Satan to turn children gay.  Kevin swears he's not a "tin foil hat conspiratorialist," and I think he's telling the truth. The twisted logic required to make that leap makes him more of a conspiratortionist (I know that's not a real word, but it sounds like it should be one, doesn't it?)

As always, finding that special gift for a special lady (and a very exciting girl) isn't easy, so once again, I turn to the ever reliable Carol Wright Gifts. (And by "reliable," I mean it offers items that no one else would ever imagine as suitable gift ideas. Unless you feel like saying "I love you" by giving someone a product for treating toenail fungus.) What can I get her this year?

AIR CURLER "As seen on TV" ($14.99): "Create a head full of soft curls and dry your hair in seconds with the Air Curler. This easy-to-use styling tool twirls perfect tangle-free curls with most hair dryers. Simply attach it to your hair dryer's nozzle, place a section of hair into the Air Curler and blow dry."
One Girl, One Cup

Yes, I'm sure setting a clump of wet hair into a plastic cup dangling below the nozzle of a hair dryer will curl your hair perfectly in a matter of seconds. 

HANDY TOILET TISSUE HOLDER Holds Up To Five Rolls (Why pay $19.99? Ours only $9.99): "Keep toilet tissue at hand and out of sight with this discreet toilet tissue caddy. With a beautifully embossed, long-stem rose motif, it provides convenient sanitary storage for up to five standard-size rolls. A tight-fitting lid keeps toilet tissue dry and dust free."
Because what's more handy when doing your business than wrestling a lid off a plastic tube? But it really becomes handy when you get to roll #5 and get your arm stuck in the damn thing.

DIGGING PUPPY ($7.99): "Add a touch of whimsy to your yard or garden. This realistic-looking, water-resistant polyresin puppy looks like it's burrowing for bones. This adorable decoration is sure to make your friends and neighbors smile."
"Honey, remember the year you got me that plastic ass for my birthday? They had to rush me to Urgent Care with dangerously high blood whimsy levels."

And if you're in a really whimsical mood, put it in your neighbor's garden, smack in the middle of her prize petunias.

SECURITY CAMERA (only $9.99): "Fake security camera with flashing red light and mounting hardware moves from side to side when anyone passes by. Uses 3 AA batteries (not included)"
A fake security camera will provide excellent protection from imaginary burglars.

NECK GENIE ELITE (Why pay $21.99? Ours only $9.99): "New and improved! World's first resistance toning system for your neckline! This new and improved version of the Neck Genie has a built-in adjustable tension control that helps firm, lift and smooth your neckline and reduce double chin and neck folds."
Beauty treatment, or suicide attempt? To quote Crow T. Robot, "Look out! She's got a Lady Hemingway!"

I'm sure it works, I'm just not sure how to explain why I'm walking around holding a the thing under my neck all evening.

TELESCOPING BUG ZAPPER (Why pay $25.73? Ours only $12.99): "Get rid of bugs without harmful chemicals, expensive bug traps or ineffective fly swatters! Instantly zap them dead with this telescoping bug zapper. It extends from 23" to 37"L to deliver a fatal shock to bees, mosquitoes, hornets, roaches, flies, spiders, gnats and more."
And since, from the looks of the thing, it's an electrified tennis racket, those dead bugs will slip through and land in your hair. Hope you didn't spend the morning using that air curler.

VALLEY LANE SCRUNCH BOOTS (only $29.99): They're go-go boots, only, really, really wrinkled. 
I think we have a winner!

Happy Birthday, MaryC!

-Bill S.

[From Scott: Thanks, Bill.  We now end our broadcasting day with the traditional:
Sexy Birthday Lizard!]

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Post-Friday Beast Blogging: The "Mystery of the Take-Out Box" Edition

RILEY: What...?  Your tuna tataki is missing?

RILEY:  That's weird. Can't imagine what could have happened to it...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Happy Birthday to Bill S! and The Minx!

...not quite Pinky and The Brain, but I'd still watch their weekly attempts to conquer the world, however quixotic, because I can't help but feel we'd be better off with them calling the shots and pontificating on the Sunday shows, even though I suspect Bill would replace our current system of due process with a summary Trial by SongPop, in which alleged felons would have to compete against him for their freedom and/or very lives (white collar defendants would get relatively easy categories like "New Wave" or "Break Up Songs," while suspected terrorists would be subjected to enhanced interrogation via "One Hit Wonders" or "TV Themes").  The Minx, who likes to accentuate the positive, would probably put less stress on punishment when reforming our judicial system, and more on rehabilitation, asking prisoners what they're grateful for, and rewarding time off for those who provide a life-affirming answer such as, "Today I'm thankful that our bank fraud laws are essentially toothless, and that even if convicted I'll never see the inside of a prison cell and can probably get my fine reduced on appeal. Can I go now?" or, "I'm thankful that I'm not living under the draconian bootheel of Bill S!, because right about now I'd be struggling to identify even one non-Motown mid-Sixties girl group."

And on a programming note, remember when I said the other day that my project was over and I was back on blogging duty? Well, I was, but my harddrive decided -- after nearly seven years of faithful service -- to commit suicide, taking with it all my cat photos, cat videos, and sexy birthday lizards. Fortunately, this didn't happen before I'd turned in the script and gotten paid, because I was able to hire the local Mac guys to install a new drive, one that's smaller but faster, and most important, completely free of Doug Giles glamour shots and The Collected Spam Emails of Reince Preibus. I'm back. And just in time for the big Double Birthday Bash!  Usually Bill emails me in advance of the day with a suggested beefcake tasting menu, but this year he's left me to my own devices. So I'm going to default to a previous model, Hawaii Five-O's Scott Caan, because last year's image of Sonny Corleone fils sucking on a stogie in a bathtub continues to generate page views.
Movie and television star Scott Caan advises you to air-dry your armpits at least twice a week to avoid chapping.

For The Minx, I thought we'd go with a variation on the traditional Sexy Birthday Lizard -- still sexy, still lizardly, but now with taut womanly tummy added, absolutely free!
Please join me in wishing Bill and The Minx -- two of our favorite crappers -- a very happy birthday.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Revenge of the Male Amazons!

Annnnnnnd...we're back. The script I've been working on has been delivered, and in three or four years might eventually become an animated film that will probably only be seen on pirated DVDs in Asia. The sense of accomplishment is almost too pungent.

Anyway, getting back to our usual bailiwick...With same-sex marriage bans toppling all over the country, the folks who are weirdly obsessed by this subject even though it can't possibly affect them, since they are not themselves gay, need a new wrinkle. And veteran wingnut Kelly Bartlett is here to supply the rhetorical crowsfeet: Gay marriage is segregation, so ladies, you better not let the sun go down on you in West Hollywood (stick to lesbians, they have more experience).
Gender, Discrimination, and Marriage
My daughter was catching up on her college homework. Chapter Ten in her psychology textbook is titled “Sex and Gender.” It covers topics such as gender differences, similarities, and stereotypes. The chapter wends its way from transgender issues to sexual harassment to the glass ceiling, the invisible but real boundary in the workplace beyond which women are not welcome. The book defines sexism as “differential treatment of an individual on the basis of his or her sex.”
Wait a second...Just to be clear: you're helping your daughter with her college homework?  I think even Ward Cleaver would have drawn the line somewhere north of that point: "Yes, yes, Beaver, I appreciate your diligence, but I'd really prefer to settle in with the evening edition than hear about your 'Women's Studies' class. All I know about that bushwa is that your mother read The Feminine Mystique, and now she's off banging some hairy fakir in an ashram in Oregon. Get up, you're sitting on the Sports Page..."
As the text points out, more than half of all women in the United States now work outside the home. They are breaking through the glass ceiling and garnering high-profile positions in private industry, government, and politics. There is one domain, however, in which women are increasingly discriminated against and excluded: families.
It's true. Females comprise only 50% of this family, and that's counting the cats.
Ironically, same-sex marriage laws do this in the name of equality. We open our hearts and minds and definition of marriage to include two men, and in doing so we close the door to a wife in the living room, a mom in the nursery, and a feminine lover in the bedroom.
Well, we're not all Mormon fundamentalists. Plus, not everyone can afford a separate mom for living room, nursery, and bedroom, not to mention individual wives for the laundry, bonus room, and gazebo. I mean, if you're not careful, they start to breed, and then you have to call in an exterminator, or at least set up some of those Have-A-Heart Live Wife Traps, and then you've got to drive way out into the country to release them, otherwise they just come back and start nursing your children and folding your underpants again.
 We create a crass ceiling.
I agree that the principle danger of permitting women to freely pursue their dreams and ambitions in the work force is that some of them will just make shitty puns.  But is it really so different with men?  After all, some are Shakespeare, and some just sit in the Break Room making armpit farts.
It’s one thing for two guys to love each other; it’s altogether different for society to endorse this union by granting these two men the status of marriage.
Once they're married, the whole idea of two guys loving each other becomes a lot less hot.
A male marriage might not look overtly sexist, but what about the long-term effects? Redefining marriage grants men the legal right to deprive children of a relationship with their mother simply because she's female. Because she’s “born that way.” What if this gender discrimination continues?
Um, there's a few rather glaring logic flaws in that paragraph. I'm beginning to wonder why Kelly's daughter would even come to her for help with her college homework in the first place. Let's check the senior Bartlett's bio at MercatorNet, an ostensibly nonpartisan webzine on bioethics where she periodically spray-paints the walls with outrage over gays and abortion:
Say, this doesn't look like the face of a woman who would spend her days laboring to thwart gay marriage. This looks like the warm, friendly, welcoming face of a woman who'd really like you to try the rich taste of mountain grown Folger's coffee.
Kelly Bartlett has been practicing life, love, and marriage for decades, hoping to improve her game. She writes from a house nestled in a meadow off a dirt road in Vermont, surrounded by family and friends, music and mountains.
Her monograph, "On Squealing Like a Pig" has been successfully set to a lively banjo tune.
She has taught religious education using the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and is certified by the safe environment program, VIRTUS: Protecting God’s Children.
VIRTUS is a program brought to you by "The National Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc," which sounds like an insurance company for priests that got tired of forking out for sex abuse settlements.
After seventeen years of homeschooling her kids, she gives herself an A for effort and graduates summa cum laughter. 
Ha!'s like Erma Bombeck after a closed-head injury.
 She enjoys handing out A’s 
Well, I think we now know how her daughter got into college. And by "college" I mean "The University of Mom's Breakfast Nook".
and would be delighted to give you one also if you “Like” MercatorNet on Facebook.

Go on.  I dare ya.
Obviously, two men cannot reproduce with each other, but in tandem with marriage comes the right to adopt. If a male couple’s adopted son meets and marries a like-minded guy whose dads commissioned him from a surrogate mother, then we would see an extended family bereft of not only mothers but also grandmothers. On both sides. Under current law in many states, this chauvinism can continue for generations.
Which would mean an incalculable amount of men who never had the experience of being offered a hard candy by an elderly woman who keeps it rolled up in a Kleenex in her purse.
Decades from now, young Marvin can trace his family tree and compare it with that of his pal Leroy.
While studying genealogy, Leroy and Marvin might pause to wonder why they both sound like characters from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.
The latter has one mom and one dad, two grandmothers and two grandfathers, four great-grandmothers and four great-grandfathers. Leroy’s family tree is gender-integrated and balanced.
Sounds like one of those liberal, affirmative action quota systems to me. Surely Clarence Thomas won't stand for this!
Meanwhile, Marvin lists two dads, four grandpas, and eight great-grandfathers.
Sounds like a call sheet for Duck Dynasty.
 His family has fourteen men and zero women; it’s gender-segregated and devoid of wives, mothers, grandmothers, and their feminine love.
As a result, the greeting card industry has become a husk of its once robust self.
Of course, we know that babies can’t actually be nurtured for nine months in a test tube using IVF, no matter how many thousands of dollars we thrust at researchers...Marvin had to have a mom or he wouldn’t be here.
I remember when I was a kid, "fags" were presumed to be mama's boys who never cut the apron strings and imprinted on a strong father figure. You'd think after three generations of nothing but male role models, Marvin would be the butchest dude on the planet!
And his parents had to have mothers as well. It’s not that Marvin doesn’t have a mom or grandmothers in his ancestry. These women are invisible to Marvin, but they are real. They were intentionally excluded from his family precisely because of their sex. This man-made barricade is more harmful than the glass ceiling at work since it prevents children from accessing their own mothers.
Is this really a problem, Kelly?  Is same sex marriage (which apparently doesn't include lesbians) really going to result in legions of gay men genetically engineering their own posterior-loving posterity?  And even if so, do we really want our young men "accessing their own mothers"?  That sounds less like sound social policy, and more like a Please Don't Eat the Daisies fan fic.
Man caves are fun. Man family trees . . . not so much.
So men, let your manly pals have fun in your cave, but don't be afraid to let the ladies climb your man tree.
If two guys fall in love, they can choose to keep their relationship private or make it public. They can even make it official by announcing it on Facebook. 
I guess Facebook posts are now legally binding.  So if you clicked "Like" on a friend's blurry smartphone pic of a schooner full of green-dyed St. Paddy's Day beer, you're now married to them, even if you're both boys.  So start laying in a supply of blue baby booties and foam rubber footballs for your multitude of strangely male-only descendants.
It’s their choice. But requesting a marriage license is different.
For one thing, you usually have to shout at the clerk through that bulletproof glass.
Marriage is the bond that seals a family together and plants the roots of our culture.
It bonds! It seals! It plants and tends roots! Marriage is the most amazing Ronco product you've ever seen, and it's not available in any store!
 Families are the living cells of the great organism of life. Typically, marriage creates new micro-societies: mom, dad, and their children. Marriage is social by nature; therefore, weddings require witnesses.
So do crimes.
It is important to note that de-gendered families exclude females not by accident, but by design.
Even lesbians refuse to admit women into their gay marriages, even though gay men are much more likely to make catty remarks about the bride's plaid flannel wedding gown.  One question, though, Kelly: How does this "de-gendering" process gay men go through when they wed actually work? Is it anything like getting your dog neutered, because if so, I'm gonna need a bigger pet taxi.
Same-sex marriage constitutes sex discrimination and segregation. 
It's the "Coloreds Only" drinking fountain of legal pair bonding.
But I have spent too many years interacting with mothers and children to support the idea of excluding moms from families because of their sex.
Can we exclude them from the family because of their habit of snooping in your sock drawer looking for porn? Because I'd totally be down with that.
 I love and respect my own mother and grandmothers far too much to fall for the notion that contracting them out of our marriage laws constitutes “equality.”
So if two men love each other and wish to wed, the state should require that the happy couple enter into a plural marriage with a grandmother, because it's only fair.
 And even if I didn’t have the firsthand experience of knowing so many women exhibiting their feminine genius, I would disagree with gender discrimination in principle.
Then wouldn't you agree that you yourself are discriminating against women by not bringing one into your marriage bed and licking the alphabet?  And where's this exhibit of feminine genius being held, because I could really use some at the moment.
After all, if gender is not important in marriage, when on earth is it important? 
Not many places that I've ever seen. Gender is kind of like algebra -- the teacher swears you're going to need it later in life, but I've successfully avoided it for decades. 
Will the same progressives clamoring for male marriage now seek gender quotas in the years to come? Will future feminists fight for the right of children to know their mothers?
That's a good question, but I believe Zager and Evans already answered it in the summer of 1969:

In the year 6565
Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube
Gender segregation belongs in public restrooms, not families.
Men just naturally have a wider stance than women, and should be free to express it in the toilet stall of their choice. Especially if they're a Republican senator and have a gender inclusive beard waiting at home.
Let’s keep our ancestry honest and inclusive; let’s keep our families intact and thriving.
And let's keep our wingnuts frothy and frenzied and whipped into stiff peaks.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Second Annual SKELLY Awards!

By World O' Crap's Own "Man in the Closet," Bill S.

With the Academy Awards airing tonight, there's just enough time for me to hand out one more pre-Oscar honor, the "Skeleton In the Closet" award, bestowed upon the current Oscar nominee with the most embarrassing prior role, or "Skelly" for short. (I didn't have a name for it last year because I wasn't sure this was even going to be an annual thing.) The winner last year was Denzel Washington, who can take comfort in knowing that, even though he didn't get to take home a third Oscar, at least he'll never again make another movie as bad as Carbon Copy.
Winners enjoy Hollywood's Most Glamorous Night at the exclusive after-party at SkyBar.

After looking at this years twenty nominees in the four acting categories (Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress), I've narrowed the winner down to 10 finalists. Some didn't make the cut at all because they were either very lucky or very smart, or in the case of Dame Judi Dench, both.

10th place: SALLY HAWKINS.  I have to confess that, prior to Blue Jasmine, the only other film I'd seen her in was the quirky comedy Happy Go Lucky, in which she plays a woman who tries to find a positive outlook in every situation (she's like Chris Treager on Parks & Recreation). So I had to look through her credits, and stumbled up something called Happy Ever Afters, a small budget, indie comedy that manages to be as formulaic and predictable as the rom-coms Hollywood churns out by the dozen every year.

If I tell you that the plot centers around two wedding receptions that wind up being doubled-booked at the same hotel, I'll bet every single one of you can predict exactly what happens next. That said, I did laugh out loud twice, and costars Hawkins and Tim Riley display a flair for slapstick comedy that might, in a better movie, prove to be of use to them. Which is why she's just in 10th place. They only get dumber from here.

9th place: JONAH HILL. If you think I'm going after one of his Judd Apatow comedies or their imitators, guess again. I thought Superbad  was pretty damn funny. It's when Jonah tried to get all edgy on us that he let us down, with a short-lived animated series that aired on FOX called Allen Gregory, centering around the most pretentious 7 year old ever. The show seemed to have been made by a pretentious 7 year old too. I'd supply a clip, but that would mean I'd have to watch it again.

8th place: JULIA ROBERTS.  She's been a star so long and became one at such an early age that it's easy to forget that, once upon a time, she was only known as "Eric Roberts' baby sister". That'd be around the time she made her very first movie:

Whoops, wrong trailer. That's the one NBC used to promote the movie when it aired on TV after Julia became one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Here's the original theatrical trailer:
Hmmm...looks like she's barely in it, and in any case wasn't the star. It was actually an ill-fated attempt to launch Mallory Keaton into the motion picture firmament. Every generation gets the Crossroads it deserves, and this was mine. (Wait a sec, lemme see that trailer again...was that Liam Neeson? Liam Fucking Neeson was in this damn thing? Excuse me, I need to lay down for like, five minutes or a couple hours, before I can continue.) 

7th place: JARED LETO. Jared first got our attention playing teen dreamboat Jordan Catalano on My So-Called Life. When that showed bowed out, he steered clear of standard teen idol fare (Requiem For A Dream is about as far away from that as you could get) and took a break for a bit to focus on his music career, as a member of the band 30 Seconds to Mars. But before doing that, he found time to take a road to nowhere...
Set in 1994, Highway is about a pair of teens who take off on a road trip after one of them gets caught in a compromising position with the wife of a very dangerous man. (Although it was made 8 years after My So-Called Life, Jared can still pass for 19. His costar, Jake Gyllenhaal, isn't as lucky -- he looks about 12.) Along the way, they pick up Selma Blair as a shoe-stealing prostitute and John C. McGinley as a zonked-out, dreadlocked, possibly bisexual stoner named Johnny the Fox. The trip ends in Seattle, just in time for them to attend a candlelight vigil for Kurt Cobain. I'm sure Kurt would be delighted to learn his suicide was being used as a plot point for a crappy movie that seems to be a very calculated attempt to manufacture a cult following out of nothing. Throw in enough sex, drugs and rock & roll, and fake slang (Johnny refers to women as "gowns") and maybe kids seeking something edgy won't notice there's nothing there. It's the kind of movie Val, as in Val would produce.

6th place: LEONARDO DICAPRIO. Everybody probably knows that Leo's early roles as a teen were less than stellar -- he was on Growing Pains , and also starred in the first TV adaptation of Parenthood , which aired for one season in 1990. (He had the role that was played in the movie by Joaquin Phoenix -- probably the only time they'd ever be considered for the same character.) I like to say his first feature film was his star-making turn in This Boy's Life , but, unfortunately, it was two years before that.

To be fair, he was still a minor when he made Critters 3 so maybe had more to learn about managing his career. His next film was Poison Ivy , but it's such a brief role that the only way you'll be able to spot him is if you watch it with your eyelids taped open like Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange. (Which is probably the only way a person could sit through all the way through that.)

5th place: CHRISTIAN BALE. He made his movie debut at the age of 13 in Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun, giving the finest performance of the decade by a child actor. (And by "decade", I mean any 10 year period that includes 1987.) After such a great start, anything might be a comedown, but the biggest slip-up was another movie set around the same period...

Swing Kids was inspired by the real-life stories of teens in Nazi Germany who listened to banned American music by black and Jewish musicians, resisting the social pressure to join the Hitler Youth movement. It centers around two childhood friends,Thomas (Bale) and Peter (Robert Sean Leonard), who spend time partying and dancing to forbidden music, until a stupid prank leads to them both getting arrested. They wind up being forced to join the Hitlerjugend. While Peter struggles to maintain his identity as a Swing Kid, Thomas eventually buys into the Nazi propaganda and turns his own father in to the Gestapo. Bale and Leonard are good actors -- damn good -- and they try to make this misguided mess work, but they're defeated by a glaring flaw: you know how sometimes, if an actor's too young for a part, they seem to be playing dress-up? Well, Swing Kids is an entire movie that's playing dress-up. We never, ever for a minute feel like we've been transported to Nazi Germany, because all the kids look and sound American. It's the baddies who sound German, like main villain Kenneth Branagh (WTF is he doing in this?). And when Peter's mother (Barbara Hershey, why?) begins dating Branagh and switches sides, she actually starts talking in a German accent. That's the kind of movie this is. The worst moments are the ones intended to have the greatest emotional impact, including the final scene, which had me laughing my ass off. And since that involved a kid being dragged off to a labor camp, this movie failed in a big way.

"It don't mean a thing if.." uh, you know, we can leave it at that.

4th place: SANDRA BULLOCK. She had to slog through an awful lot of junk before becoming a star, including a short-lived sitcom version of the movie Working Girl, and a truly awful American remake of The Vanishing. But the biggest misstep was a film based on a great Leiber-Stoller song.

The movie centers around a nerdy biochemist (Tate Donovan) who harbors a crush on a fellow scientist, played by Bullock. Because, y'know, when people look at Sandra Bullock, the first phrase that pops into their heads is "Geeky Biochemist". They're both clueless and awkward when it come to romance, until they stumble onto a formula that, when which spritzed in the mouth like Primatene Mist, will render them irresistible to any member of the opposite sex, even if the person is gay. All they have to do is speak. So hopefully, they never get a phone call from their parents, or encounter any children. There's a convoluted "scientific" explanation for this, but I'll spare you that. The effect wears off after four hours, which is about three hours and fifty minutes longer than our love for the movie lasts.

3rd place: MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY. I could just phone it in and point out that one of his early roles was in My Boyfriend's Back, the movie the put the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman on the list last year. Or I could point to his most notorious role, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, in which he plays a psychotic, bionic redneck killer named Vilmer Sawyer (which, now that I think of it, actually sounds awesome,especially if McConaughey plays him). But they both have to take a step aside for one film:

Surfer, Dude is an aimless series of vignettes about a laid-back, dim-witted surfer. To call it "dopey" would be apt: at times, it looks like the actors wandered onto the set completely baked and began improvising. Or maybe I'd just rather believe that than think they were working from a finished script, which, according to the credits, took four people to write.

Now, I'm sure that somebody, somewhere, ran across the DVD of this movie in the $5.00 bin and, sensing it'd be 85 minutes of Matthew wearing nothing but a pair of shorts, snapped it up immediately without any genuine interest in the "plot". I'm not saying I know anybody who'd do such a thing, only that such a person possibly--okay, PROBABLY exists.

2nd place: BRUCE DERN. At 77, Bruce is not only one of this year's oldest Oscar nominees, but among the men, he's the only one over the age of 45. He began acting in movies a full decade before the second oldest guy was even born. With a career spanning that many years, he was bound to have more than a few lows, but his most subterranean moment came with a Grade Z horror flick from the '70's.
[Warning, Film is Rated GP!]
Believe it or not, The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant  wasn't the only movie out at that time about two-headed monsters -- there was also one called The Thing With Two Heads starring Ray Milland and Rosey Grier, both of whom deserved better. (It's a shame that trend wasn't around when Bruce made Hush...Hush Sweet Charlotte. Think what a classic could have been made of a picture where Bruce and Bette Davis had to play a two-headed creature)  I don't think I can do a better describing this movie than the plot summary found in the IMDb:

"Dr. Richard Girard is a rich scientist conducting experiments on head transplantation. His caretaker has a son, Danny, who, although fully grown, has the mind of a child. One day an escaped psycho-killer invades Girard's home, killing Danny's father before being gunned down himself. With the maniac dying and Danny deeply unsettled by his father's death, Dr. Girard decides to take the final step and transplant the killer's head onto Danny's body. Of course, things go horribly wrong and the two-headed creature escapes to terrorize the countryside."

Um...okay, that made perfect sense. But Bruce only hit Number 2 on our Billbored Chart, which brings us to this year's winner of the not-so coveted SKELLY. And it's someone who's no stranger to winning awards:


She's one of my all-time favorite actresses, and I'm sure she's on a lot of other peoples' lists as well. Right out of the gate, her first movie was Julia (only a minute or two on screen, but even Jane Fonda knew she was working with a powerhouse), received her first Oscar nomination the following year for The Deer Hunter, won for the first time the year after that for Kramer Vs. Kramer,  and this year, scores a record-breaking 18th nomination for August: Osage County. When I was writing this column, I wasn't sure she'd even make this list at all. Still of the Night and Falling In Love were merely disappointing, and for me anyway, Mamma Mia! was a guilty pleasure (though I'll admit my guilt is eased somewhat by the fact that it gave Debbie Schlussel gas, which she expelled into a poutrageously stupid column I made fun of a few years back). Could there be any movie in Meryl's (mostly) illustrious canon that qualifies as a true, "What the hell was that?" embarrassment?

And then, I remembered, there's one. Just one. And it's a doozy.

Directed by the once-promising Susan (Smithereens) Seidelman, She-Devil is a black comedy about a housewife, Ruth (Roseanne Barr) who exacts revenge on her cheating husband Robert (Ed Begley, Jr.) and his mistress, Mary Fisher (Streep), a self-absorbed, pretentious author of trashy romance novels, based on a combination of Danielle Steel and Jackie Collins. Critics in New York who'd seen Meryl Streep on stage were always quick to point out she was at her best in comedy roles, but after more than a decade in films, this was her very first all out comedy lead. It should have been a career milestone, her "Garbo laughs!" moment. So what went wrong? So much. So very, very much:  [Click Here for Illuminating Sample At Your Own Risk]

To quote Meryl's maid in the movie: "Up with this bullshit I will not put!"

It's shocking just how shrill and unfunny this picture is, how awkward Streep looks, and how little in the way of anything more than stock sitcom devices the plot offers. (Hell, even the trivia page from the IMDb is boring, unless you think learning that Robert's nickname is "Bob" fascinates you) There had already been a previous TV adaptation of Fay Weldon's book, a four hour miniseries starring Julie T. Wallace as Ruth and Patricia Hodge as Mary. Perhaps that length helped give the characters more depth, and perhaps the more British tone of humor helped make the material work better. As it is, this version is crass, tiresome, dead in the water. And Meryl Streep has never been more uncertain of how to play a role. She has exactly one funny moment, and it lasts about a few seconds: when Doris Baleck, as her agent, places her hands on Mary's cheeks while consoling her, Streep's  annoyed facial expression in that moment is priceless. It's the only laugh in the entire movie.

Thankfully, every subsequent comedy she's done has been better. (In fact, the next one she made, Postcards From the Edge, is among my favorite of her roles, which is saying quite a bit.) But She-Devil remains the one film where she completely dropped the ball, proving that even the best of them can sometimes fumble. 

"Now, a warning..."
Bill S.