Tuesday, April 25, 2017

NK's Secret Plan for Conquering U.S. - Revealed!

Our aim at World O' Crap has always been entertainment, not education, and yet -- as humanity seems to teeter on the edge of a precipice -- it is useful to recall that George Bernard Shaw believed great art not only could, but indeed must, be didactic. Which brings me to Red Dawn. Not, not that one, the other one. 
When Sheri and I wrote Better Living Through Bad Movies, we climaxed the whole thing with a chapter on Red Dawn, that 1984 paean to Reagan-era priapism, in which an armada of Russians, Cubans, and Nicaraguans subdue the United States.  The vaunted U.S. military proves useless, undoubtedly due to budget cuts, leaving the task of repulsing the invaders to a rag-tag band of American teenagers. But even they are woefully ill-equipped, and for much of the movie can only respond to Russian artillery fire with nocturnal emissions.
When it came time to release the audiobook version, we added some bonus features, including a review of the 2012 remake of Red Dawn, because it operated from an even more ludicrous premise:  that the United States gets bullied and geo-politically pants'd by North Korea.
I don't know, it seemed hilarious last year. But since satire has now become current events, we better prepare by taking this peek at Kim Jong-un's battle plan.
First, however, a bit of background:
In 2009 MGM remade Red Dawn, replacing Patrick Swayze with Chris Hemsworth, and the defunct Soviet Union with the People’s Republic of China. But the studio had financial problems, and then a change of heart about offending the world’s second largest market for movies, so the picture sat on the shelf for three years. Eventually they used dubbing and digital effects to change the villain, and now instead of China, the United States gets invaded and conquered by…North Korea. Which has an interesting effect on the narrative; I mean Red Dawn has always been a David and Goliath story, but in this version, we’re the guy who gets hit in the head with a rock.
Red Dawn (2012)
Director by Dan Bradley
Written by Carl Ellsworth and Jeremy Passmore, based on the 1984 screenplay by John Milius and Kevin Reynolds

Global tensions are high; the American military is deployed to hot spots all over the world, leaving the homeland undefended; and North Korean is threatening to destroy our entire country. Granted, that feels a bit like getting the hem of your Wranglers gnawed on by a teacup Chihuahua, but as various panicky cable news anchors remind us, North Korea is the fourth largest army in the world, behind the Peoples Liberation Army of China, the U.S. Army, the KISS Army, and Armie Hammer.

We're watching a high school football game in Spokane, where Chris Hemsworth, a marine on leave from Iraq, has come to watch his brother, Josh Peck, lead the Wolverines to defeat. Later, Chris goes to a bar, where he gets hit on by Adrianne Palicki (from – oddly enough – Friday Night Lights) whose idea of a saucy pick-up line is to remind Chris that he used to babysit her, and that he has a dead mom. And while we can’t see his crotch in this shot, Chris’s eyes tell us that with her clumsy attempt at flirtation, Adrianne has just committed an act of premeditated bonercide.

There's a blackout, and everybody goes home. The next day, Chris and Josh awaken to see the sky filled with computer generated North Koreans. They jump in their Dodge truck and run into a bunch of stuff, until they literally run into their Dad, who's a cop. He repeatedly orders them to "get to the cabin!", which I like to think is the movie's subtle way of telling us, "if you have to see a Chris Hemsworth film, why don't you go watch Cabin in the Woods instead?"

You know what? I think the movie’s right. What do you say we turn this crap off right now and head for Redbox. Who's with me?!

No one?  Fine...

You know, sometimes I think you people want me to suffer.

Josh insists they pick up his hot blonde girlfriend, but when they get to her house they find the Korean invaders are rounding up all the cheerleaders. So they drive off in a screaming panic, in the process collecting a convoy of soon-to-be-recognizable actors (that other Josh from Hunger Games), already forgotten legacy-celebrities (Connor Cruise, adopted son of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman), a trigger-happy, argumentative dick named Pete who -- I'm calling it now -- will betray our heroes to the North Koreans before long; plus Adrianne, some male models for cannon fodder, and a pretty Latina named Julie, because even though it's wartime there are still labor laws, and somebody will eventually have to spell Adrianne on the vagina shift.

The next day, Chris and Josh go look at the town while their voices – dubbed in post production when the studio decided they couldn’t make the bad guys Chinese -- assure us the thought of North Korea conquering the west coast is crazy! But so crazy it just might work! Then they go back to the cabin and find that Pete has stolen all their breakfast cereal and betrayed them to the Koreans. Even worse, our designated villain, Captain Cho, has captured Connor Cruise's dad, the mayor, and Chris and Josh's dad, the cop. The mayor takes a bullhorn and tries to lure the boys out of the woods, but Cop Dad, who's playing the Harry Dean Stanton role, points at Cho and commands the boys to "go to war with this piece for shit!"

Cho looks at one of his soldiers with an expression that seems to say, "Did this bitch really just call me a piece of shit?"  The soldier gives him a nod that says "you know it, girlfriend", and Cho pulls his pistol and recreates that famous photo of the Saigon police chief shooting a Vietcong in the head. So I guess it takes being invaded by North Koreans to make North Americans empathize with the North Vietnamese.

The next day, Chris's truck is bogged down in a creek bed. All the characters get out and push, but the wheels just spin uselessly in the mud, which is a pretty good visual metaphor for the plot. Since nobody's going anywhere they decide to kill time with an argument. Hunger Games wants to go home to his parents until Adrianne says, Oh. Hey. I forgot to tell you, they're dead. Chris gives a speech about how they're going to fight and become fleas; and while they may only be larvae now, if they work hard they will soon pupate and become parasites who will make the big dog that is North Korea feel itchy. Which is all well and good, but I kind of liked it in the first film when they cried "Wolverines!", and I'm not sure it'll have the same effect when they thrust their AR-15s skyward and shout "Fleas!"

Ready for a training montage? Wait, there's more: ready for the World's Dullest Training Montage? Okay then, let's join the Fleas as they take shorthand, learn to parallel park, and roll around in leaf mold. After thirty-four seconds of boot camp, they start ambushing Korean soldiers and stealing their lunch money. But Hunger Games pukes while corpse-robbing, so Chris and Josh make him shoot a deer and drink its blood, because when remaking even a stupid movie, filmmakers should try to honor its legacy and its fans by including the stupidest part. But they do update the moment for a modern audience, because this time the sacred act of communion between hunter and prey turns out to be a frat-style prank. I'm surprised they didn't hand him a Sharpie and make him draw a dick on the dead deer's forehead.

The Fleas go on the offensive, bombing the Koreans with explosive skateboards and commandeering sliced turkey from Subway. But Josh can't stop lurking around Cheerleader Concentration Camp to peep on his imprisoned girlfriend. Chris tells him he’s endangering the Fleas, but Josh has an idea for how to end the war, and it’s a plan that does the impossible: it’s vague and incredibly complicated at the same time.

But the Fleas seem to know what they're doing, and what they're doing is failing, because in the middle of it Josh spots his girlfriend and runs off to save her. The one Latino flea doesn’t get any lines but he does get killed, and Chris sustains a wound that requires him to take off his shirt and get stitched up without anesthetic, because he got his Patrick Swayze movies mixed up and thought he was in a remake of ROAD HOUSE.

Girlfriend tells them a Russian spetznaz unit has been brought in to handle the Fleas, because that's what happened in the first movie. Then a North Korean general arrives to shout at Captain Cho, but because the characters were originally Chinese and the dialogue has been dubbed into Korean, everyone is subtitled and still out of sync. It may be the best thing in the movie, and after the General storms out, Cho and his aide exchange fraught looks that seem to say, "Did you understand a word he just said?" "No, I don't even understand what I’m saying."

Three Marines show up, led by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who's pulled the Power Boothe shift, and explains the plot: the North Koreans destroyed our electrical grid and communications with an EMP, which allowed them to conquer the entire West Coast, because our morale plummeted without access to Internet porn and Pokemon Go. But Captain Cho keeps a radio-telephone in a suitcase, and if the Fleas can steal it, they’ll win the war. Which seems stupid, but I assume everyone agreed to the rules before they started, so whatever.

They sneak into the Police Department, steal the radio, and Chris shoots Cho in the face. They go back to the hideout to celebrate, but the Koreans interrupt Miller Time by shooting Chris in the back. Seeing his brother's brains spattered all over the six pack changes Josh, and he immediately turns into the greatest guerrilla general since Ho Chi Minh. He leads the Fleas to safety in a Country Squire station wagon, then goes on a grand tour of occupied America, making speeches and recruiting Scabies, Crotch Crabs, Deer Ticks -- a whole army of patriotic parasites. The End.

So what is this version of Red Dawn trying to tell us? Well, we think it offers an important lesson about bullying. Suppose a classmate was intimidating your child on the playground. You could complain to the school, give your kid a few self-defense pointers, or do what we’d do and show them Red Dawn, which demonstrates that while anyone can be bullied, anyone can also be a bully.

Even America, the world’s richest nation, can be successfully beaten up by one of the world’s poorest. So the moral of the story is, if you see a poor person, punch them hard, then run away. And by teaching this lesson to children, it also teaches us, as adults, that it’s probably a good thing we don’t have children.

Additionally, Red Dawn illustrates the rule that casting a hunky but unknown Australian in your movie won’t help get it released; but if you let him ripen on the shelf for three years, he’ll turn into Thor. Or he’ll get black and squishy like an avocado, in which case you should just put your film in a Cuisinart and make guacamole (serves 6 to 8 persons, bores 10 to 12).

Perhaps the biggest difference between the Red Dawns is that the 1984 film was very concerned about guns, and the temperature of the hands that held them. But that’s a quaint artifact from a less heavily armed period in America’s history, when sweet old granny’s still kept cut-glass dishes full of ribbon candy on their coffee tables instead of bowls of bullets.

In the 2012 Red Dawn, guns are abundant, but patriots freak the hell out because the North Koreans turned off their wifi. And unlike Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen, who spent much of their movie hijacking ammo and AK-47s and fighting a guerilla war against the Soviets, Chris and the Fleas lay down their lives to get the one working electronic device that will finally allow them to check in on Grindr.

This reflects an important change not only in social values, but military tactics, and if this trend continues, the next war will dispense with tanks, aircraft, and infantry, and be fought virtually, and by proxy. So start training up those Pokémon now.

For me, though, the main lesson we can take from the Red Dawn remake is that Yes, It Can Happen Here. If Kim Jong-un precedes his invasion by knocking out Twitter, Trump will be effectively muzzled, unable to communicate with his generals, or tweet excuses to his followers about how this whole invasion thing is the Democrats fault, and have you tried the chocolate cake?

So get used to being run by Poppin Fresh with a flattop, America.
(Sure, he may kill you, but if you press his belly, he giggles!)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

My Face is My Fortune Cookie

When Vice President (really - just check his jacket) Mike Pence paid a visit to the DMZ Scenic Overlook, he arrived while the wait staff was still setting up for the Early Bird Special, so he decided to wander outside (even though this was contraindicated by the people assigned to shoo him away from landmines, snipers, and unaccompanied woman who might swoon over his snow-capped pate and musky cloud of Hai Karate).

Being a natural tough guy, VP Pence manfully crossed his arms, hunched his shoulders so his epaulets made little McDonalds-like arches, and immediately picked a staring contest with the Orient:

“I thought it was important that we went outside,” he said. “I thought it was important that people on the other side of the DMZ see our resolve in my face.”

NORTH KOREA: Oh, hey, you got a little...Yeah, on your face - little lower...No, it's still there...Corner of your mouth...It's like a little smear of resolve, or a blob of staunchness or something...Look, just use your napkin...

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

O'Really, O'Reilly?

On this day of mingled mourning and celebration, depending on whether you have a penis or not, and if you do, whether you keep it in your underpants or your nightstand, I think it's important that we remember the good things Bill O'Reilly did during his tenure at Fox News. And by "good", I mean "not legally actionable" or "liable to result in plaintiff receiving a record-setting multi-million dollar award for compensatory and punitive damages".

In other words, let's spare a moment to remember that Bill didn't sexually harass every women he ever met or worked with. To wit: this interview from September, 2003 with Condoleezza Rice, who was at that time National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush, but would one day grow up to be Secretary of State, and a footwear fancier whose shoe lust would earn her the nicknames "Jimmy Choo-Choo Charley" and (in Doghouse Riley's famous formulation) "the Fabulous Condimelda".

So let's wave farewell to Bill's long and extinguished career by revisiting this piece written by Sheri in the glistening, dew-flecked dawn of World O' Crap:

[Originally posted September 25, 2003]

I DO Believe in WMDs, I Do, I Do, I DO!

National Security Advisor Condoleezza was on Bill O'Reilly's show tonight, advising him on the steps the nation is taking to keep him safe from vicious NY Times terrorists.

No, actually, the White House remembered that Bill had said, "If the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clear he had nothing [WMDs-wise], I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush administration again." And just like Santa Claus going to Macy's to restore little Natalie Wood's faith in miracles, or Clarance coming down from heaven to renew Jimmy Stewart's faith in the FDIC, they sent Condi to restore Bill's faith in the Bush administration.
While I didn't see the show (my house is a "Yes-Spin Zone"), I did read the Fox News online transcripts (Condi Saves Christmas). Sadly, it appears that the transcriber for the show has been arrested for espionage and the janitor is filling in, since we got a lot of this kind of thing:
O'REILLY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the USA (UNINTELLIGIBLE) send a couple of divisions up there, in conjunction with American Special Forces, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? 
RICE: We have very good cooperation with the Pakistanis. That's why we are being so optimistic (ph)...
O'REILLY: I don't mean to sound (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 
RICE: Probably not the right word (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 
Um, I theorize that O'Reilly and Condi were cussing up a storm, and in deference to her position, Fox is pretending they couldn't make out that part of the conversation. But why the need to indicate that the optimimism is just phonetic?

Anyway, despite all the garbles, the transcript does give us the White House Yes-Spin on lots of stuff. For example, that while we haven't actually found any WMDs in Iraq, Bill does not have to apologize to the nation and can continue to trust the Bush administration because:
RICE: We went to war -- the president has led (ph) the people to war because this is a dangerous tyrant who had used weapons of mass destruction before. 
So, Saddam USED to have weapons that posed a threat to us, so we sent our troops in now, to prevent him from destroying our past. Something like that.

But unstoppable truth-teller O'Reilly was unsatisfied:
O'REILLY: All right. But on March 30, 2003, Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense, said this, he said, "We know where the WMDs are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad." That turned out to be a mistake. 
RICE: Well, they're still searching. The areas around Tikrit and Baghdad happens to be one of the most difficult areas, of course. It's in the Sunni triangle 
So, the WMDs are really there, but in the Sunni Triangle, which, like the Bermuda Triangle, sometimes lets things slip into another dimension. But we'll find them, all right! We have Leonard Nimoy on the case!

Okay, the subject of WMDs dealt with, and Saddam and Osama located (Saddam has slipped through the Sunni Triangle, and Osama is in "Afghanistan, Pakistan, someplace in that area"), we can move on to more important topics, like invading France.
O'REILLY: Why don't you send a couple of American divisions over to get Jacques Chirac? Can we do that? And... 
RICE: We're always going to have our differences with the French. [snip] 
O'REILLY: Jacques Chirac and France have hurt this country and put our servicemen in jeopardy. Am I wrong? 
RICE: Well, I think that the French position is not one that we would have taken. We think that... 
O'REILLY: But they put our service people in jeopardy. 
RICE: And we think, Bill -- and I think this is what Americans are reacting to -- after all that was done to liberate France in World War II -- that we could have expected better cooperation. But that's behind us now. 
O'REILLY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) American servicemen. 
RICE: No, I don't... 
Since Condi undoubtedly had Secret Service protection during this visit to the Fox News Planet, Bill couldn't cut off her oxygen for refusing to agree with him that France endangered our servicemen by sneering at them. But I bet he called her a bitch behind her back.

So, let's move on to the next threat to our National Security: Kennedys!
O'REILLY: All right. How about a couple of divisions to get Ted Kennedy up in Hyannis (ph)? Can we do that? American divisions? [snip] Look, I'm not a partisan guy. I mean I'd vote (ph) for anybody. But I think Kennedy is saying that President Bush -- and you work with him very closely -- contrived the war in Texas for political gain. 
And anybody saying something like that is putting our service men in danger, and that's treason! Am I wrong? AM I WRONG? But Condi just called it "a very unfortunate comment," and took Ted to task for bad manners in war time.
RICE: I would just ask everybody to be civil. Everybody should be pulling together now to deal with the situation that we have in Iraq. This is a historic and important moment for American security, and certainly we can get past our differences and support the policy. 
See, this is the President's Big Day, and so we should just support his policy, even if we think that it's killing American servicemen for no good reason. But after this is all over and the policy either suceeded or failed miserably, THAT will be the time to talk about it.
 O'REILLY: All right. You know there are some people actually rooting against the Bush administration for political purposes. They want to see chaos in Iraq. They want you to fail so that the president won't be reelected and somebody else will. What do you think? Is that un-American to carry that point of view? 
RICE: Bill, I think we can have debates about anything. About policy, about how we've handled it, how it's going to turn out. I think that's perfectly American, and it's a good thing to do. Let's just keep it civil and let's keep it at the level of debate... 
O'REILLY: All right. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), right? Maybe I would. No, I wouldn't. 
I think Bill's garbled last remark was:

"All right. Be civil to people who have opposing viewpoints and not accuse them of treason. Novel idea. Hmm, that's something I could start doing right here, to make the world a better place! Maybe I would. No, I wouldn't".

Then our dynamic duo talks about Iran for a while, and Bill is bitterly disappointed to hear that the administration is going to use cooperation, diplomacy, and the UN to deal with them, instead of A-bombs.
O'REILLY: But don't you understand -- I mean, I'm sure you do, and I know you have to be diplomatic -- there's not this sense of urgency on the part of many countries in the world to help the United States. We're at risk here. We're target number one. In Belgium, they don't care. 
They just don't care, the bastards! Our President is calling on them to send us troops and money, and then they get all pissy when we tell them if they don't do things our way, we're taking their ball and going home. Here we are, fighting a war that they didn't agree to, but will they bail us out? NOOO! And now we're in remote personal danger in our own country, just like people who aren't priviledged to be Americans, and they couldn't give a damn! I say we nuke the Belgians too.

But wait, a hero approaches to unite the world in dealing with Iran, Texas-style! It's George Bush, international sex symbol.
RICE: Can I tell you something, Bill? This president, because he's strong and steadfast and speaks the truth, is making more progress on getting international pressure on Iran than was made in the last...
O'REILLY: I read "The New York Times" today. And "The New York Times" said that President Bush is a total buffoon and nobody likes him and he's not making any progress. 
And Billy said that Sally said that The NY Times said that George Bush is icky and smelly and that nobody wants him on their kickball team 'cause he's got cooties. So we should invade them too, don't you agree? Well, DON'T YOU?!?

 But she doesn't, and neither will she agree with Bill that we should have deadly electric fences around our borders to keep out terroristic Mexican migrant workers and Canadian news anchors. She says the Prez has a better plan, which apparently involves a "Mission Impossible"-style plot to make Mexicans think that they're already in the U.S. through the strategic use of false Walmart storefronts and California recall rhetoric. Bill indicated that he can't get down with that, nor with her Bart-killing policy, but he does like her Selma-killing policy.
RICE: OK. Well, one out of three isn't bad. 
O'REILLY: No. Listen, the mail is going to say, although you're an idiot, we love Dr. Rice. I know what the mail is going to say. Last question for you. President has dropped 21 points in the favorability polls since last spring -- 21 points. Why?
RICE: The president? 
RICE: Because this president is dealing with America's problems. And he's a president who is in touch with Americans. 
LOL. Yes, and I love his plan to inspire the nation to lose confidence in him by keeping in touch with the citizens. If his advisors are smart, they'll keep him incommunicado before his approval ratings drop any lower.
O'REILLY: But why would he fall 21 percent? 
RICE: The president -- first of all, I think one has to look at polls. And he was at astronomically high levels. But see, when you go out there and you talk to Americans, they trust this president. They know that this president is doing everything that he can on the war on terror. 
And that's why he's dropping in the polls--we know he's doing everything he can, and we see what a mess he's making of things. And then we think, "Well, if this is the best he can do, maybe it's time we let Gary Coleman have a shot at the job."
RICE: They know that the economy is starting to recover. They trust this president. 
Um, no and no. Sorry Condi, but thanks for playing Spin Zone with us. You get a case of Rice-a-Roni, plus a copy of Bill's new book, Who's Picking Out a Thermos For You?

Now, let's review what we've learned:

First, our nation's enemies, in descending order of how much we hate them, are:

1. Iraq
2. France
3. Kennedys
4. North Korea
5. Terrorist Illegal Aliens
6. The NY Times
7. Iran

Second, the WMDs and Saddam have fallen through the Sunni Triangle, and so will either reapear in the middle of a WWII sea battle, or will get eaten by a giant turtle.

And third, the President is strong and steadfast and tells the truth, and so the nations of the world want to do our bidding. But he is in touch with the American people, and so his approval ratings are going down. Hope this helped.

Scott here again, pulling you out of the war-torn past and back to the pre-war present thanks to the advanced Time Tunnel technology I picked up at Irwin Allen's yard sale in 1991.

So...there you go. Bill got through an entire interview with a black woman without calling her "hot chocolate", demanding she refill his motherFing ice tea, or suggesting she get a couple of wines in her and loofa his falafel.

Credit where credit is due.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Crisis on Infinite Slumgullions!

WORLD'S COLLIDE in this massive, CW-style crossover clip show between The Slumgullion and the Writer's Block podcasts!

Jeff and smutty author Indy McDaniel discuss geeky stuff!

Jeff and Mary pull out their hankies and wave a tearful farewell to the TV series Bones! (I don't know, but they seem to care...)

Scott talks Kong: Skull Island and Ghost in the Shell with one third of the New Movie Crew!

Scott and Jeff squeeze their geek glands all over the new Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Star Wars!

[cross-posted from The Slumgullion]

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Beauty and The Be-EEEK!

By Bill S.

Sure, that enchanted castle in Beauty and the Beast where everything talks, sings, and dances, might seem like a fun place to live...until the first time you need to use the bathroom.

 "And every time I walk into the room, this dry erase board magically writes, 'Shave your ballsack!'"

I haven't yet seen the new version of Beauty and the Beast, but I fondly remember the animated version from 1991, and still have the soundtrack with all those memorable musical numbers. One of the best loved is "Be Our Guest", sung by Jerry Orbach as Lumiere the Candlestick. But you may be surprised to learn the song was meant for a different character that was dropped from the film. Fortunately I have the original script.

After greeting the strange variety of talking household objects, Belle, needing to compose herself, enters the the powder room..

 "Uh...Do you have a magazine?"

MONSIEUR TOILETTE: Good evening, Mademoiselle!

Belle gasps in surprise. The music swells..

Poop in me, poop in me
Or perhaps you need to pee
When you do your daily business there's a certain guarantee
I'll be here-please don't blush
Any time you need to, flush!
To assist the Master's Beauty
Is my willing, honored duty
And when you're wiping off
I won't giggle, joke or scoff
It will be just as discreet as it can be
You've got a lifetime pass
So go and park your ass
And poop in me, poop in me, poop in me!

But they decided to go a different way with the song. I have no idea why.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April Fool's Day...In Your Ear!

Ah, April Fool's Day, the Johnny Knoxville of holidays. Between the pukin' and the pinchin' of St. Patrick's Day, and the punkin' of April 1st, this is traditionally the most annoying time of year, and I'm not taking it lying down. Which is why the upcoming sequel to Better Living Through Bad Movies has a chapter (who knows, maybe two or three chapters! I'm way more easily annoyed than I used to be) about dumb holiday movies.

We got some nice responses to our previous audio previews of the new book (Happy Valentine's Day! I Got You Some Lesbians! and It's A Wonderful Life), so I asked the brilliantly funny John Szura and Blanche Ramirez -- who narrate the audiobook of Better Living -- if they'd work their magic on this individually wrapped slice of mid-Eighties cheese.