Are You Snarky or Just a Bitch?

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I tend to get along with most personality types, but I’m realizing more and more there’s a fine line between snarky and bitchy–and this doesn’t just relate to women. I’ve met some bitchy, judgmental men too. Today I found myself annoyed by a snarky attitude that crossed the line into “bitchy mean.”  Instead of a clever, witty reply to a comment I made that maybe would have added to the humor, the reaction was mocking and seemed to miss the point of the jokey atmosphere. This person was not the only one involved and the joking regarding the resemblance of a certain food item to a certain anatomical part started much earlier in the day before this person was even aware of the intended humor. My comment was simply to include them which is what I do with all people I like to hang out with. However, they seemed to be the only one who found the joking immature and lashed out with fake, sarcastic laughter aimed to demean me for having a smile on my face. And it’s not because they were offended by such humor; they have inconsistently laughed at inappropriate jokes some of the time and other times made value judgments on such jokes (“You’re so immature. You’re such a perv”).

Have you ever been in a familiar crowd where you assume it’s safe to use innuendo or tell an off color joke because it’s been used before time and time again? And then someone who’s not always there calls you out on it by rolling their eyes, acting like you’re the only pervert in the room and exclaiming, “Oh good one! You must be real proud of yourself.” It makes you feel like an idiot and it’s a huge mood killer. I do my best to only use innuendo or wink-wink, nudge-nudge comments with friends–people I like and trust–who use the same humor. I know risque humor makes some people feel uncomfortable and I try to avoid that for the sake of sensitivity at work or places where there may be families, etc. Unfortunately, I misjudged this person’s ability to joke around and this wasn’t the first miscalculation as it has happened before. They’re off my list! In the future I will avoid any further comments in their presence as their snarky, borderline bitchy response was uncalled for.

Maybe I’m overreacting, but I grew up in a conservative, repressively religious household where such humor was frowned upon. Considering I had an attraction to humor and cartooning, it was the worst sort of atmosphere to deal with: always having to watch my tongue or keep jokes to myself or not get caught watching movies or TV shows that made any references to sexual humor. Maybe that’s why I feel if you can’t handle adult jokes about sex, you’re the immature one. It means everyone has to treat you like you’re the kid in the room who is only allowed to hear G-rated material. So when someone snarks back at me that I’m immature for laughing at adult humor I really just want to say, “Grow the fuck up.”

And if you’re reputation is to be snarky, at least be good at it. A snarky attitude fails if you don’t have the wit to back it up. Otherwise, you just come off as a mean bitch.

All in all, the way to enjoy humor is to roll with it and not be uptight.

 

John Denver Clone

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My parents recently went to see this guy, a John Denver tribute artist. I don’t know, are we really going to try to resurrect all our favorite musicians and actors from the past with lookalikes? It’s popular in Vegas–I get it–but Vegas is about cheesy acts, drinking and losing your money. The John Denver artist, whose real name is Ted Vigil, sells an album of him singing John Denver songs…? Why wouldn’t I buy the original albums? After all, if I’m a fan of John Denver I want to listen to John Denver.

The same thing with a concert tribute. It’s one thing if you had a Beatles tribute band or a Kiss tribute band because it is a stage performance and they’re often trying to capture an era (like the Beatles in the sixties). But John Denver was not what I would call a stage performer with costumes and glitz, etc. He sat down and sang to you. I know this because, my Dad the fan, took me as a kid to see John Denver. And the original man was entertaining enough because he simply talked between songs and then sang his hits. For a tribute, someone who is acting like John Denver? I don’t get it? I’m sure Ted Vigil is a talented singer and if I looked like someone famous and could pull off their voice to make money I understand doing it. It’s no slight against him. What I don’t understand from a music fan perspective is why would I invest time and money into a faked version of the original? At best, I could see him singing some new songs in John Denver’s voice which might cause some interest.

A friend and I got into a debate on this one–yes, a very pointless one–and I said what if this was done with movie remakes? Not only would the movie be remade, it would be remade with an actor that looked exactly like the original actor. The example I gave was what if an Al Pacino look-a-like redid Serpico? And she said, why not? Well, what’s the point of doing that? An Al Pacino clone may be able to redo the movie and make you think he’s Al Pacino, but if I have any sort of brain in my head I would go back and watch the original movie with the original actor.

So the same is true of John Denver. I would want to listen to his original music. If I want to see him in concert there is plenty of footage and specials. But to go see a look-a-like/sound-a-like  in concert?

In the future, we will see digital clones of deceased actors doing new movies. I believe that makes sense. I think cover bands make sense for the bar scene. John Denver clones? I guess we can expect more of the same as there is a niche for everything and judging by the comments under his CD people seem to love a knock-off. As for me, I’ll listen to the original John Denver, which is odd to begin with as I was and still am into heavy metal, and to listen to JD you have to get into a sickly sweet sentimental mood. Maybe Ted could reboot the Oh God movie series?

The Critics are Making Me Want to See ‘Tammy’ the Movie

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I hadn’t even considered seeing Melissa McCarthy’s “Tammy” movie until I heard Michael Medved’s bashing of it on the radio. If you don’t know who Michael Medved is he’s a conservative talk show host and movie reviewer. When Medved played a sound clip of the movie for the fast food robbery scene after droning on how unfunny it was I found myself laughing at the clip. Next day I saw another reviewer on our local news bash the film and play a clip about eating chips and I laughed.

So maybe these clips are the best scenes for the film, but I’m starting to become skeptical of the critics’ reactions. I keep hearing things like: “Why is she making so many fat jokes?” Why isn’t the film smarter?” “Why so much toilet humor?” “Why such dark material?”

News flash to reviewers: these are not good reasons to bash a film. Basically, what you’re saying is you don’t know why the film is bad. Lowbrow humor is lowbrow humor, it may not have been meant for you.

In the shit economy we’ve been dealing with since 2008 with unemployment and an obesity epidemic why would you not expect someone to exploit it for laughs and even sympathy. As far as dark material, that’s obvious too and humor doesn’t have to be optimistic or overly “ha-ha.” We’ve been through some dark times and the forecast for the middle class on down never seems to be good. I like clever humor too, but I’ll embrace toilet humor if it makes me laugh and appeals to my cynical mood. Maybe the film was aimed towards people who are not happy with how life has been treating them?

I guess now I’m going to have to see the film as I don’t trust these critics. If it sucks so be it, but it sounds like it’s no worse than a cheezy eighties film with a cast from SNL or screwball comedies like Porky’s. Those flicks were hit or miss on the laughs and yet overall they still made us want to watch. Did critics at the time of release like those films? Probably not, because they made their livings as movie critics–which isn’t a real job! Professional critics don’t live in the real world, I’m sorry to say, and these days there are so many wannabe Eberts that they often try too hard to be a “critic.” What the hell is so important about one person’s opinion on a movie versus another? This is why I tend to read audience comments versus critic reviews to get a feel for how the movie did on release. 

After all, some films become minor comedy classics like Tommy Boy. I wonder how much we would have laughed if Chris Farley didn’t encourage humor about his weight or intellect?

‘Winged Migration,’ Faked Scenes for the Sake of a Good Story?

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Winged Migration is a “documentary” from 2001 which I finally saw after actually giving the DVD as a present to a bird lover almost 6 or so years ago. I put “documentary” in quotes because this is actually a nature tale and it doesn’t appear the filmmakers would disagree though they didn’t dispute the documentary title and they didn’t refuse the Best Documentary Oscar nomination. “Nature Tale” is putting it lightly. It doesn’t fall into a fictional story so much as a reenactment.

The debate on the line between reality shows and faked shows has inevitably left me jaded about any reality show and documentary films are no different. I realize a documentary can have a spin–an editiorial viewpoint–based on the editing and narration. Michael Moore is a good example, and his movies become disappointing once you realize how much spin he used to the point where the audience is misled as certain events never happened or they were filmed out of order and reassembled into Moore’s storyline. A nature documentary doesn’t really need a spin unless you’re advocating to stop man-made climate change or some other cause involving social responsibility or politics. Winged Migration doesn’t have a cause, but it is scripted and has what I would call the equivalent of ad-libbed scenes. I don’t think it counts as a documentary. It may be light on plot–migration happens every year and can be treacherous–but it’s still a planned story.

Here’s some of the many reasons why: 1. A large percentage of the birds were raised and imprinted so that the camera crews could get close enough with a variety of vehicles. In other words, they were filming pets. They even brought birds over from one location to another in order to initiate a migration or film in certain locations. 2. The crew intervened on certain shots where nature would usually take it’s course. The main example is the scene of a sea bird with a broken wing hopping around as it is chased by crabs. The end shot of the crabs eating the bird never happened. They rescued the bird and threw the crabs a fish (which is what we see). Nice for the bird, but a trick played on the audience. 3. Planned sequences such as a grouse about to be run over by combine harvesters (which most likely never happened) or the staged shot of a goose stuck in oil (which apparently wasn’t oil but a mix of vegetable oil and milk) or possible blue screen shots to add backgrounds or place one scene over another.  I’m also certain that the parrot escape from an exotic trapper on the Amazon river was faked (a scene too good to be true). 4. Added on top of everything is the claim made in the film that no special effects were used–to make us think everything we see is real–and it’s a bit disingenuous, especially when we see migrations over obvious CGI backgrounds (the distant shots of the earth). What they mean is no special effects were used to create the flying birds and as such should have been more specific.

Documentaryfilms.net has more information on the trickery used. Some of it is speculative, but a lot has been verified.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the film–as a story and for the amazing film shots! And I’m sure there was a lot of hard work that went into it including wild scenes that were not planned (what I call the ad-libbed ones). But I would contend that we should avoid calling it a documentary. Disney used tricks back in the Fifties/Sixties with True-Life Adventures, only they really did concentrate more on plot with their narrations. This is the same thing and I don’t think you can excuse it as educational or that birds aren’t really trained actors, etc. It’s not real, at best it’s a reenactment with an assortment of pets, staged scenes, editing and some genuine wildlife moments. It’s not the same as an entrenched film crew hanging out with several flocks for 5 years to capture wild migrations as they happen.

SIDENOTE:  Snopes verified that Disney faked a lemmings suicide where they actually drove lemmings off a cliff in one horrible example. Their documentary helped perpetuate a myth that lemmings are suicidal when they don’t normally run off cliffs in the sea. They may have accidental deaths when migrating but it’s not a herd mentality of “let’s kill ourselves!” When I learn about such incidents and faked scenes in wildlife documentaries it becomes frustrating for those of us who like to be exposed to reality and not an interpretation of reality. I suppose it may be better for us to get off our asses and go traveling.

‘Coonskin’ is a Strange Blaxploitation Film

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Ralph Bakshi is a mixed bag when it comes to his animated films, and usually they are not full animation but a mix of live action, rotoscoping and scenes that cheat the viewer out of animation time (because of a limited budget). Coonskin, made in 1975 is no exception, but it is still compelling. I can’t figure out if it’s racist or making fun of racism? Considering that it was in cooperation with known stars Barry White and Scat Man Crothers  and there are numerous jabs at white people and a nude “very white” Ms. America, I don’t see how you can call it racist. A better way to put it is Coonskin is racial and the elements in it are not “black and white.”

The story is pretty much a blaxploitation plot: Randy and Pappy are busting out of prison and waiting on their buddies to come stormin’ in with their vehicle so they can get away from the watchtower guard. To pass the time, Pappy tells a story about a black rabbit (with nods to Brer Rabbit) and his friend Brother Bear and Preacher Fox. The animated characters go to Harlem where they punch, shoot, kill and cheat their way to the top, including taking on a corrupt cop and the mafia.

Where’s the redeeming value? Well, that’s where the lack of black and white comes in. I’m not sure? I can say there is definitely some biting satire on America in the form of a strutting Ms. America, a nude woman with a painted on flag. She’s seen denying a black man any pleasure and when she does open her legs he gets killed by “the clap.” On the other hand, what’s with all the drawn stereotypes? And why are the mafia henchmen mainly “queer”? Or is it to show homophobia among Italians because only the straight son was chosen to kill the black rabbit?

What kept me watching the film was the sheer ugliness of the characters. The mafia godfather is disgusting and many of the character designs are questionably drawn with stereotypical black lips and faces so dark they blend in with the backgrounds. And what the hell was up with the Italian mother being shot and turning into a white moth or was it meant to be a butterfly? Somebody was smoking something.

Okay, obviously, Bakshi was inspired somehow. According to Wiki, part of his Jewish childhood was spent in a black neighborhood. His friends were black, his dad did business with black people, he watched black movies and he even tried to attend a segregated school with black kids but was removed by police to a white school (to apparently avoid riots by white people). It only makes sense with the blaxploitation craze of the seventies that an alternative artist like Bakshi would attempt such a film. He even hired black animators which were not widely used at the time. Another thing to note is that “Coonskin” was not his title. Bakshi wanted to call the film “Harlem Days.” It was the producer who insisted on such an inflammatory title.

As for all the stereotypes, Bakshi didn’t want to go the safe route. He wanted to exaggerate the stereotypes to such an extent that they were no longer racist but a reflection of what once was now being stomped on. He treats the Italians so bad due to the mafia worship that came from the movie The Godfather.

So Coonskin is either genius or bullshit. Probably, it’s a bit of both.

If You Can’t Put a Grocery Cart Away, You’re a Lazy Dick

Am I being too harsh in calling people who leave their grocery carts in parking spots “dickheads”? I just don’t understand how hard it is to push the cart a couple of feet and put it in the return section for carts? Takes me less than a minute. I’ll even take a cart back into the grocery store if there is no section in the outside lot for them. While it makes sense for the store to provide them so we pile in the food, I still consider a grocery cart to be a courtesy provided by the business.  And I hate trying to find a good parking spot only for it to be blocked by an abandoned grocery cart.

What’s worse is this photo I took of–not one–but three grocery carts left in a handicapped spot.

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Who does that? Was it three different handicapped drivers who did not have enough mobility to push the carts into the section for them? Or was it some lazy ass, inconsiderate shoppers who are perfectly capable of putting their carts back? It’s no wonder obesity is up if we can’t even take the time to put a grocery cart away.

Conversations with My Cat–Not a Hero

I was just told about a cat who saved a child from a vicious dog attack, see the video below:

Then I look down at our family cat, named Sinclair, and shake my head. All he does is beg for food and I literally will engage him in conversation:

“Meoowrrr!”
“I just fed you.”
“Mew?”
“Yes, I did. An hour ago. You remember?”
“Mew? Mew?”
“Don’t play me. You already ate.”
Pause…
“MEOWRR!”
“Shut the fuck up!”

Then my wife comes in and tells me not to swear. It is pretty amazing that a cat can pick up on your language enough to interact with you. …But it’s all an act to trick you into thinking he’s providing very good reasons for food. All of the responses mean the same thing though, so to translate:

“Feed me!”
“I just fed you.”
“Feed me?”
“Yes, I did. An hour ago. You remember?”
“Feed me? Feed me?”
“Don’t play me. You already ate.”
Pause…
“FEED ME!”
“Shut the fuck up!”

Later on, after we’ve settled our differences, I get purring, which of course means: “Massage my entire body even though I haven’t done jack shit all day long.”

I will give Sinclair kudos for killing a spider once (he ate it). However, waking me up at 4 AM before I have to leave for work every day has eliminated those kudos a hundred times over.

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HBO’s New Show with John Oliver featured a Literal Dick

[SPOILER ALERT] I’ve watched John Oliver three times now on his new HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and it is hilarious; biting satire that you can only do on a premium cable show where no one is worried about the FCC. I was extremely amused at last Sunday’s show where our good host showed two different attack ad parodies, one of them aimed at Mitch McConnell. The reason being is that my significant other next to me was flashed an old man’s shriveled up dick. In fact it happened several times in relation to Mitch’s supposed member. Finally she said, “Enough already!”

This clip on climate change is from the same episode, no dicks involved, but if you get a chance to see the full episode 3 you will be squeamish with laughter.

 

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Change.org, Sometimes a Petition Makes You Question the Blame Game

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Before I go too far on this, since it is a touchy subject, I don’t blame any one for suicide–and that’s kind of my point with the latest Change.org petition I was emailed. There have also been suicidal issues within my family as well and I would never fault anyone for reacting strongly after a suicide occurs or even telling me to eff off  after reading further. I’m not saying the barrier shouldn’t be built, but I have to question it.

The latest Change petition is: “My son jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge.” The mother is asking that the Golden Gate put up a suicide prevention barrier (which would be at taxpayer cost, of course, so it is a community decision) due to her son’s death and the number of suicides that occur each year on the Golden Gate Bridge. I don’t think it’s a completely unreasonable request to look into, but then the blame seems to be shifted to management of Golden Gate instead of what may have been really going on with her son. It just seems too simple of a fix–put up a barrier! She refers to it as a “life saving suicide prevention.”

If we’re willing to assume that someone suicidal would not look to alternate means besides going to the Golden Gate Bridge then maybe it would be “life saving” and yet she doesn’t acknowledge the tragedy lies with the individual. Obviously, her son had depression or a mental illness and either no one recognized it (which I would say is hard to do with moody teenagers) or it was ignored or it was a family issue. I’m not blaming anyone in the family for the suicide–I don’t know! But I can say that inquiry should not be off the table. Nor should it be off the table that this was mental illness and the only fix was medication which would render this petition pointless in regards to this suicide.

A bridge barrier isn’t going to stop someone intent on killing themselves as there would be no danger of it happening at that location. Why would a suicidal person attempt suicide at a place with a suicide prevention barrier, unless they are just that stupid? Apparently, people kill themselves on impulse which is what barriers stop. I’ve had plenty of down moments in my life, but never an impulse “to jump.” If you’re going to tell me that impulse is not premeditated by some other thought process or experience, I’m finding that hard to believe. It also takes some effort to travel to the bridge and find the spot to jump. Reasons for suicide vary from bullying, drugs, rejected gay lifestyle, break up with a girlfriend/boyfriend, chemicals in the brain, etc. Do people happen to just visit Golden Gate and then figure, oh, good place to jump without prior issues?

Here’s where I think the disconnect is when this mother states:  There’s a common misconception that people who attempt suicide once will just try again — that’s not true. In fact, one study showed that 94% of people who were talked down from the Golden Gate Bridge did not go on to kill themselves. If a barrier had been in place, my son could have been among that 94%.

Yes, those that were talked down got help, but if the barrier was there they wouldn’t be there in the first place, would they?  They would have gone to another location with access to ultimate death or used another method. And in my experience, the person I knew attempted more than once. Methods of suicide may also show whether a person is willing to attempt multiple times or if it is a cry for help; for instance, people who take pills and then eventually tell a friend or call 911 or wrist slashers who expect to be found. Jumping off a bridge? They’ve pretty much decided and it’s less impulsive than staying home and using pills or a razor.

Another part of the argument is that the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building have a barrier. The sad fact of that is that they were not put up as a “life saving suicide prevention” so much as it is both bad for tourism and dangerous to have people jumping off your tower onto cement below and potentially crowds below. For the Golden Gate Bridge, I would say unless a ship is passing by, which the jumpee would avoid, there’s nothing but water. If Golden Gate does decide to put up funds to make the barriers, most likely it would be for these same reasons. If this mother can get her community to agree with her, great! I’m not saying she shouldn’t try, I’m mainly questioning the reasoning and if it would really drop local suicide rates?

I know, I’m being horrible. I guess what bothers me about some of these Change.org petitions, and this is not the best example, is how the blame is shifted to something that should not be blamed–the Golden Gate Bridge. I understand asking for a barrier or prevention of jumping much like any safety measure or just a plain inquiry on the benefits and downside of such a barrier, but obviously there was something else going on when this mother talks about her son: Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Kyle. He was just starting his senior year in high school, captain of the basketball team, planning on college. He had just gotten his passport for a trip to Australia after graduation. My son had excitements and hope in his life, and where does that go now? I still can’t believe he’s gone.

The kid killed himself! He was not fucking happy! I don’t care if his suicide note says so either (“I’m happy. I thought this was a good place to end.”). And to say he had hope in his life? It seems disingenuous and somehow a denial of what may have been the truth of the unfortunate circumstances.

Also this statement is false: It is appalling for California and America that the Golden Gate Bridge has more suicides than any landmark in the world. According to Wikipedia, it is second (nitpicky on my part, I know, but apparently Chinese don’t count as the Nanjing Yangtzee River Bridge is first) and we also may not have all of the statistics required because some countries will not report high suicide rates or even keep track. And again, if you take Golden Gate away as an option to commit suicide, you don’t take away the will for someone to kill themselves (or even the impulse, as “impulse” seems to be stressed here)–you simply create a new location for the highest amount of suicides or possibly you disperse the action to a couple of locations.

Want to know what Wiki lists as the fourth (sometimes disputed as second) most popular place to commit suicide? A forest in Japan. “As of 2011, the most common means of suicide in the forest were hanging and drug overdoses. …In recent years, the local government has stopped publicizing the numbers in an attempt to downplay Aokigahara’s association with suicide.” So what is Japan supposed to do? Restrict access to a forest? I guess they don’t have a bridge to add barriers to?

Yes, yes, I know, again, I am horrible for even writing this article. I guess my point is both annoyance at targeting Golden Gate and that we’re putting effort in the wrong area and this petition does nothing to really address the problem. I’d rather have San Francisco spend money on  a treatment center and real preventative methods for teens then bridge barriers. I question whether physical barriers are the prevention needed and I hate the idea that for any magnificent structure we build we have to ugly it up with suicide prevention add-ons.