Most of you are probably already aware, but a few of you may not remember that June 15th is Jim Varney's birthday. Or would have been, had he not died already.
I think that Jim Varney has made at least as valuable a contribution to the world as all those other famous dead guys whose birthdays we honor, so I'd like to ask you to take a few minutes to remember Jim fondly.
I Am Legend was actually pretty darn good, despite all-but abandoning the very core -- dare I say 'point' -- of the story. In its place they wedged a peculiar new type of 'Legend:' namely the Bob Marley album of the same name. Perplexing and stupid. Still it was pretty awesome despite this and the many MANY things I found to complain about. (Seriously, why would he hunt from a Mustang GT? How would he haul the carcass home?) Lots of funny little "future" tidbits like the Batman vs. Superman movie billboard in Times Square. Bottom line: even taking into account the major deviations from the much-loved source, I really liked it.
Sweeney Todd: I need to preface my review with this: as a rule, I dislike Broadway musicals on principle; that goes double for Hollywoodified Broadway musicals. That said, I couldn't have loved Sweeney Todd any more than I did. Simply put: the story is great, the film is visually great, Depp, Rickmann, and Bonham-Carter are great, many of the songs are great -- and, most awesomely, the quantities of blood are VERY great. I don't have much knowledge of the source material, so I can't vouch for its faithfulness (all I knew about the musical I learned from Jersey Girl) but I can say that it was very engaging, and very enjoyable. This is my surprise hit of the year. Oh: this time around Depp apparently decided to pick David Bowie for his character inspiration. What's his deal with rock stars? My biggest complaint with the film? The titular character is a barber who is very handy with a straight-razor, but throughout the film he bangs and scrapes his various razors on the ground and objects, throws them around, etc. As one who actually shaves with a straight-razor, I know that they're very sensitive, fragile things, and that a true master shaver would NEVER treat his instruments even remotely as badly as Todd does.
Alien vs Predator: Colonated Title: The first AvP was so ludicrously bad, both in performance and in critical/internet review, that the mere emergence of a sequel suggested to me that someone had come up with a brilliant-enough concept to sell the fickle studio heads on it and get it green-lit. I was wrong. From the look of things they got 5 different writers to come up with ingenious-yet-different concepts, then smooshed all 5 together into one script. And then removed the ingenious altogether. What was left was a mish-mash of potential heroes, all with hinted-at complicated back-stories and demons for each to overcome. None of these ever goes anywhere. This movie sucked all manner of ass, but not in an even remotely good way.
Juno: I really, really, liked this movie. It has been touted as "this year's Little Miss Sunshine," and I have to say the comparison is somewhat apt. If I had to describe it, I'd say it's like Knocked Up with all of the Superbad sucked out of it. You know, in a good way. With characters out of a funnier, makes-sensier version of Garden State. A really refreshing and interesting look at teenage pregnancy and how it sometimes can go "right."
I just realized that I'm a few weeks late for something I was going to do. Better late then never, I guess.
June 15th was Jim Varney's birthday, and I ask that you take 2 minutes and 59 seconds to observe it with me by watching the following clip. (Regular readers may notice that the following YouTube clip is painfully improperly aspected. You know that I think a clip is important when I link to it despite of this.)
[video moved to bottom so that livejournal doesn't choke on it.]
Does anyone know what the process for getting a national holiday recognized involves? I for one feel that Jim has impacted my life far more than any of those stuffy old dead Presidents this country honors by getting the day off work. A quick scan through the YouTube comments on the above-linked video suggests to me that I am not alone in feeling this way. I honestly did not realize that there are that many people who share my love for this man, and seeing all those comments makes me feel just the tiniest bit better about losing him.
So: any objections to June 15th as National (International?) Jim Varney Day?
Shawn P. from Ohio dropped me a line yesterday, letting me know that some "wacky radio deejays (boing!)" in Columbus are implementing my Toys for Tatas idea:
It's put on by a local radio station, and from my understanding you drive into this heated tent and give the girls a gift (for needy families) and then they all show you their - ahem - "tatas", because you can say that on the air.
Apparently this chain of strip clubs called Rick's Cabaret does something by the same name.
It is unclear at this time whether they came about this idea legitimately, or blatantly stole it from me. I don't think I need to tell you which I think it is.
Hopefully next year I'll remember the idea so I can get a jump on trying to set something up before the hustle and bustle of crazy peoplereally crazy people completely saps my desire to expend any kind of effort.
I only have a minute, so I'll just lay out the basis for my idea so that you might give me some input to help form the rest of it.
My idea is..... Toys for Tits.
Iwant to try talking some of the fancier "gentlemen's clubs" in the Portland, OR area into doing some kind of toy drive for needy kids this holiday season. Perhaps offering discounted admission or lap dances in exchange for gift donations or something. Like I said, I haven't really... fleshed... out the idea yet -- basically I got to "Toys for Tits" and then began to think about tits... you know how it is.
I was also thinking "Toys for TaTas", since that name could actually be said on the evening news...
Anyway: thoughts? Has some other genius already come up with this and I just don't know about it due to not frequenting that sort of establishment (more than a couple times a month anway. OK -- fine. A week.)?
On this December 26th, I want to wish all of you and yours a Merry Christmas!
"But wait," you say, "surely the made-up1 birthday of Jesus is on December 25th, not December 26th?"
Well, as anyone who has eagerly run out to check the mailbox for the first issue of Some Funnily Embarrassing Magazine I Got Given A Subscription Of For Christmas can tell you, the mail is not being delivered today. A quick check of The USPS Calendar will tell you that this year, Christmas Day is on December 26th, so your Christmas subscription will have to wait another day2.
1) As I have been told my entire life that there is "historical evidence" which corroborates the Bibles already historically accurate opinion that Jesus Christ was an actual person, it seems one could simply look up the actual date of Christ's birth, thus doing away with this whole President's Day style made-up holiday3.
2) Imagine my surprise to learn that magazine subscriptions take 4-6 weeks of processing before delivery of the first issue. I guess that's understandable, but the extra day the USPS is tacking on is ridiculous.
3) If anyone were to ask me, which they never do, I would tell them that I think Christmas might work better as a "floating holiday", one which, for example, might always take place on the last Sunday in December4. Since everyone agrees that the actual date is a made-up one anyway, this would make a lot more sense than just letting Church-and-State-separated government bodies who wish to celebrate this particular religious holiday anyway go changing the date willy-nilly5.
4) Of course, this would be counter to the efforts early Christians made to "embrace and extend" the holiday that was observed prior to the acceptance of Christianity, and thus "Anti-Christian", so I don't see that happening any time soon.
5) Did you know that "willy-nilly" doesn't mean what you think it means? Look it up to see whether I've used it correctly or not6.
6) Boy do I love a good nested footnote. I think this is a new record for footnote nesting on my part, getting me one step closer to the convoluted footnoting in the excellent book House of Leaves, which is amazing in the level of twisty writing Mark Z. Danielewski7 employed during its writing.
Like many people, I am not a very big fan of Christmas. It isn't actually Christmas that is the problem, it is the extreme over commercialization of the entire Holiday Season that has caused me to hate. Stores are too busy, traffic is nearly impossible to deal with, and most confusingly, people become more self-centered and selfish the closer you get to Christmas. This amuses me to no end, because really the point of them flocking to retail centers in droves is to buy things for other people, yet they are doing it in completely selfish assholish ways: fighting with each other for the last copy of The Oblivion Society, sitting in a parking area waiting 10 minutes for the elderly couple in the Buick LeSabre to exit the "perfect parking spot" (stopping all traffic in the entire lot in the process), being rude when people who need to get by them in stores ask them nicely to move, etc. In short, this season turns people into assholes.
As you can probably guess, this has caused me to rethink my Holiday Season shopping strategy somewhat. The past few years I've decided that the majority of my Christmas shopping was going to be devoted to people that actually appreciate and deserve the time and money I'm spending. Am I talking about my family and friends? Nope. Sure, my family and friends probably would enjoy the somewhat inane material goods I would buy for them, but would they really appreciate it? I know from personal experience that most of the gifts I've been given weren't as appreciated by me as they would have been by someone else, someone who can't afford to just go out and buy those inane things for themselves. I'm talking about people who are in bad situations and possibly might not have an enjoyable Christmas without my efforts.
There are quite a number of factors that can cause children to not get Christmas presents on Christmas, some which are the fault of their shitty parents, some because their good parents have been down on their luck. Some don't even have parents to get them presents. As none of these factors can be controlled in any way by the children forced to live in such a situation, I feel it is important that they get to have a good Christmas anyway (while they are still young enough to not be overcome with the wanton over commercialization of it all.) Since I have decided to reshift the focus of my gift giving towards these less fortunate children, almost all the budget that has in past years been allotted to getting my parents the perfect restaurant gift certificate is now going to make sure there are at least a few bright-eyed smiles on Christmas morning.
Since I am quite possibly the laziest person in the world, I've opted to use the "Giving Tree" method of gift dispersal. If you are unfamiliar with the Giving Tree, it is essentially a Christmas tree decorated with tags instead of ornaments, and you can find them in any mall, fire station, church, Salvation Army, and a multitude of other places. Each tag has information about a specific gift that a specific needy child would like to have, specifying the age and sex of the child, along with whatever will make them happy come Christmas morning. All one has to do is grab a tag off the tree, buy the gift, and take both the tag and the gift to a drop off location where volunteers will wrap it and make sure it gets to the proper home come Christmas. In the case of malls where the tree is located, you can simply drop the tag and gift off at the Gift Wrapping Center in the mall. This is the easiest Christmas shopping you will ever do. Also, if you are concerned with such things, the drop off point can give you a receipt for deducting these gifts from your taxes.
I would like to encourage each and every person to go find a Giving Tree, and at the very least read some of the tags. What I always find striking is just how realistic these children are in what they ask for. I'm sure having crappy Christmases in the past have helped this realism, but it is still refreshing to see kids wanting things that aren't ponies, xboxes, cars etc. There is a tag for every budget; most items aren't expensive at all, they're things like a CD or a sweater, which you can go above and beyond by getting 2 sweaters, or a gift card for multiple CDs. Even the most budget-strapped Christmas shopper can afford to take at least one name off the tree, maybe two if they buy dad the imitation leather wallet instead of the leather one they buy him every year. When you explain to your friends and family that you've spent most of your Christmas money on needy children instead of them, they will be so amazed by what a great human being you are that they won't mind a bit. Maybe some of them might do the same thing next year...
This year, why don't you make your time spent shopping among the selfish assholes worthwhile by helping to provide a nice Christmas to some people who might not have one. It will make you feel good, it will make them feel good, and it will make (Jesus/Santa/Jewey McJewerston/Kwanzaa Karl) feel good too.