Sunday, January 16, 2011

It's My 100th Post!

I noticed this weekend that after about 10 months of posting, I'll finally be hitting the triple digits. And I can think of no better way to celebrate my hundredth blog post than by ending my blog! Yaaaaay!

OK, so I'm not giving it up, but I never really liked the name of the blog. I mean really, I'd like to think I can do better than ripping off the title of a Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau movie. Not to mention the fact that I managed to come up with a web address that will be irrelevant in about a month when I turn 27.

That's why I'm shifting everything over to my new blog site, Looks Like Taylor Hicks. If you give a rat's ass, you're welcome to come visit over at If not, quite frankly, I don't blame you.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Verbal Bitch Slaps From William Shakespeare

As you may have noticed, I tend to lean towards immaturity when making a point about something that bothers me. I don't believe there is any point that can't be made better by adding a "shitbreath" or a "cockbag" here and there (double negatives are great too). But I do admit that sometimes I find it difficult to mix up the vocabulary. I mean, there are only so many variations that one can make to the word "dickhead."

That's why I've decided to get a little assistance from The Bard. My mother in law took a trip to England and came back with a desk calendar for me devoted to insults written into the works of William Shakespeare. Every Friday I'm going to share some of my favorites with you. So, let's see how one of history's greatest playwrights calls someone a poopyface.

"Thou whoreson mandrake, though art fitter to be
worn in my cap than to wait at my heels."
--The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth 1.2.14-15
I'm finding out pretty quickly that the best thing about Shakespearean insults is that you know you're being insulted without quite knowing how. To be honest, I have no idea what the hell this is supposed to mean. But I do think whoreson may be my new favorite word.

"No mates for you
Unless you were of gentler, milder mold."
--The Taming of the Shrew 1.1.59-60, Hortensio to Kate
Now this one I definitely get. Apparently Hortensio thinks Kate would get laid a lot more if she weren't such a See You Next Tuesday.

"You have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm, and cloudiness."
--Much Ado About Nothing 5.4.41-42.
Now, this seems like a commentary on a person's face being weighed down with a dark, sullen temperament. But I prefer to think of it as "U! G! L! Y! You ain't got no alibi! You ugly! Yeah, yeah! You ugly!"

"Thou art an O without a figure. I am better than
thou art now. I am a fool, thou art nothing."
--King Lear 1.4.183-185, The Fool to King Lear
The insult here isn't nearly as awesome as the context. It's sort of like a bum walking up to Bernie Madoff, laughing in his face, and calling him a douche bag.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

This Week In Non-House Hugh Laurie: A Pin For The Butterfly

I'm not sure if this is a sign of the film-making style of the mid 90s, or if Hugh Laurie was just taking whatever roles he could get as a means of branching out from his usual goofball schtick, but these last few clips have been really fucking weird. Last week, we get a mostly naked Laurie practicing Thai Chi as a way to cope with his life as a con artist collapsing around him (thanks for the explanation from clat, by the way). This week, we get something that makes naked Thai Chi seem perfectly reasonable.

It comes from a 1994 movie called A Pin for the Butterfly. In it, Laurie plays an uncle to Marushka, a little girl who wants to escape the clutches of Stalinist Communism in Czechoslovakia and travel to America. This was an entry at Cannes, so you know you're in for some melodrama. But there is no real way to prepare you for what happens starting at around the 1:50 mark.

What the hell was that? Did we really just watch Hugh Laurie kill himself via electrified fence? Either this is a dream sequence, or Laurie was captured by the Communists and imprisoned in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Even if it was a dream sequence, I can't help but think the emotional impact of the scene was blunted by the fact that it's one of the more unintentionally hilarious moments in recent memory. First, we have the stock communist march playing in the background while the prisoners trudge their way to...well, who knows where the hell they're going. Then we get the vulture screech, which I can only imagine is the director's attempt at subtly telling the viewer that this camp is a hopeless place where people go to die. Either that, or he just thought a vulture would sound totally bitchin'.

Then there's the piece de resistance: Hugh Laurie declares his freedom with all of the flare and emotion of a high school student reading out of a Social Studies textbook. He sprints off, apparently leaving his fellow prisoner catatonic from his brazen act. He then takes a swan dive into a fence so powerful that it instantly vaporizes his skin and leaves only a perfectly white skeleton. Oh, and then cut to his skull perched on the fencepost.

I'm surprised that Cannes even bothered showing other movies at the festival in 1994. No way anything was going to top that.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Grumpy Movie Review: True Grit

I must admit that when I first read that the Coen Brothers were remaking the 1969 John Wayne western True Grit, I was less than thrilled. My main concern was that on the artistic ladder, remakes often fall somewhere between America's Funniest Home Videos and watching a dog eat its own crap. So when the Coen Brothers decided to dabble in remake territory, I felt a little bit let down. But I couldn't help but get at least a little excited when I saw this TV spot.

"I mean to kill ya!" That's just grizzled badassery right there. And that seems to pretty much be the theme of the movie. When Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) hires drunken Federal Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to find Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) for killing her father, they cross paths with LaBeouf (Matt Damon), a Texas Ranger who has been tracking Chaney for a murder he committed in the Lonestar State.

From this point on the movie turns into an extended pissing contest between Cogburn, LaBeouf, and even Ross. Both men believe they are the ones to catch Chaney for their own reasons, and Ross believes her need for revenge means that things should be handled according to her direction. So they're constantly bickering and posturing while trailing Chaney, and it makes for some entertaining dialog. More importantly, all three characters are forced to stop talking a good game and actually follow through in some great gunfights that crescendo in a four-on-one shootout between Cogburn and a gang of ne'er-do-wells.

In fact, of all the characters in the movie, the one who proves to be the least tough is the murderer they are after, Tom Chaney. I went into the movie thinking that Chaney was going to be a Lee Marvin-type killer, both cold and threatening. But Chaney wound up being closer to a scrawny version of Mongo from Blazing Saddles. He stupidly mopes his way through most of his ten minutes of screen time. Kind of a let down considering the build up.

Other than Brolin's impression of the Looney Tunes abominable snowman, True Grit is a worthy addition to the Coen Brothers' catalog. As always, the cinematography is dark yet beautiful, as Joel and Ethan get some great shots in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Texas. And even though the movie pulled off a PG-13 rating, there is still the blunt violence you come to expect from a self-respecting Coen Brothers' movie.

But again, the real reason you go to watch this movie is for some great performances, especially by Jeff Bridges. I haven't seen the original version, but I'm still going to go ahead and say that Bridges is a better Rooster Cogburn than John Wayne. Acting for John Wayne, after all, tends to involve little more than putting on a costume and then continuing to act like John Wayne. Overrated, I say! Jeff Bridges, meanwhile, is probably most famous for playing a shiftless hippie several decades after it was culturally acceptable to be a shiftless hippie. Yet even though he's just a shade under 60, I would not want to fuck with him as Rooster Cogburn. That's called "range," children.

So I must officially retract my stance on remakes as being automatically awful. When done right, they can add something to cinema canon. And the Coen Brothers did just that with True Grit. It's a fine western, and made for a good way to cap off 2010 at the movies.

Grade: B+

Monday, January 3, 2011

This Week In Non-House Hugh Laurie: All Or Nothing At All

Something that I didn't realize blogging is that it's very similar to working out. If you don't keep it up on a consistent basis, you tend to lose the motivation to keep doing it at all. I can't believe I've breezed through two weeks without one little complaint. I've got to get the blood flowing again. I'd make a New Year's resolution but by now we all know that's pretty much the only sure-fire way of guaranteeing that a person won't do something.

So instead I'll just get back into the swing of things with this week's Non-House Hugh Laurie. This time we find Hugh Laurie taking a darker tone in the mini-series All or Nothing at All. He plays a con man named Leo Hopkins whose addiction to the game starts taking its toll on him. It actually sounds like an interesting little tale, and if you're feeling bored it appears that you can actually watch the program in its entirety on YouTube.

What I'd like to show you, however, is an experiment in your powers of prediction. Begin watching the following clip from the 0:16 mark through the 0:30 mark. Then, take some time and predict where the story will have taken you by the 1:30 mark. Got a guess? OK go ahead and play the clip from that point.

Ha! Bet you didn't know the train was getting of at this station! The funny thing is that even with the context of the connecting 60 seconds, I'm still not exactly sure how we get from glib Hugh Laurie to crazy 80's B-movie villain Hugh Laurie. I will say that I'm more intrigued to give All or Nothing at All a chance just to make some sense of it. Or, if anyone has already seen it, you're welcome to just tell me.

Monday, December 20, 2010

This Week In Non-House Hugh Laurie: Merry Fucking Christmas

OK, I realize that if this were a normal week House would have started already, and I said I'd post the non-House clips in the hour leading up to a new episode. But, thank Jesus, it's a Christmas miracle. House is on hiatus so tonight is just a rerun. So nuts to you. It's not like your reading this anyway.

To celebrate the season, I'm fast-forwarding this week's post to the year 2008 for Laurie's hosting of Saturday Night Live. But I must warn you, if you're anything like me then you will want to skip the cold opening by Gilly, a character so bad that it makes me long for the days of "It's Pat." Actually, scratch that. "It's Pat" still sucks ass. Anyway, skip to 0:15 to avoid the colon tumor that is Gilly.

I have to admit, this skit really shouldn't be funny. It's one of those one-note skits that SNL is infamous for (I love Keenan Thompson, but "What Up With That" is NOT FUNNY!). But I think I like it because it would be fun to have a Christmas dinner like that. Granted, I'm sure plenty of families do have a Christmas dinner like that and they would probably say it's not a good time. But what if you just planned a dinner where the whole point was to yell at each other and treat each other like shit. Then after about an hour you can go back to at least pretending to being nice to one another. I don't know, am I the only one who thinks that would be a blast?

Well, with Christmas coming up this will most likely be my last post until next week so have a fantastic Christhanukwaanza, and I'll leave you with a bonus clip: some unexplainable montage of Hugh Laurie pictures set to a piano instrumental of "Silent Night."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Take The Edge Off With The Greatest Kick To The Head I've Ever Seen

While I don't talk about it much on here, I'm pretty much addicted to mixed martial arts. I suppose that makes sense, since I use this blog as a forum to bitch about the things I don't like. But I saw a clip this week that I feel should be seen by as many people as possible. Therefore, I'm dusting off the "Take The Edge Off" post so that I can share this with anyone who may not be familiar with MMA and have not seen it. And if you are one of those people who still think that MMA is nothing more than "human cockfighting," well you are just wrong and I'm not in the mood to try and explain why.

First, you should know that the following clip comes from the final airing of a company known as World Extreme Cagefighting. Lame titles aside, it's been known as one of the few organizations to make the guys over at Ultimate Fighting Championships turn their heads. In fact, the owners of the UFC bought WEC, and used it as a forum for the smaller weight classes to show their stuff. The UFC recently decided to merge those weight classes into its own organization, so the fighters will have a home but there will no longer be a WEC.

Well, the final fight that the WEC broadcast this past Thursday is making waves as a potential fight of the year. Lightweight fighters Ben Henderson and Anthony Pettis put together a 25 minute epic fight, probably because they both knew that a win meant better job security going into the merger. I do have to admit, because the fight aired on Versus and I'm too poor to buy that TV package, I didn't get to see the whole fight. But we can all take a look at the move that probably earned Pettis a decision victory over Henderson.

I'm pretty sure I could watch that kick five times a day for the rest of my life and it would never, ever get old. It's just got everything. It's flashy. It's unexpected. It snaps Henderson's head back like a whip. The only thing I can't believe is that Henderson wasn't knocked out by that kick. That man must be a cyborg, because I'm fairly certain a kick like that would have made me cry. Not just tears in my eyes, either. I'm talking full-blown wailing in the middle of the cage. I wouldn't have cared who saw me.

I'd say the only disappointing thing about the kick is that Pettis gave it the rather weak name of the "Showtime Kick." I mean, I guess it's not a terrible name, but that kick deserves better than "not terrible." I'm thinking something along the lines of "The Deathfoot" or "The Decapitanator." Something with a capitalized "The" in front of it. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. If not, watch it again because you must be doing it wrong.