Monday, February 25, 2008

Long John Silver's Versus Las Vegas

Back when I lived in the Midwest, I used to get a hankering for Long John Silver’s about once every six months. Now that I live four hours away from Las Vegas, I seem to get a yearning for trips to Vegas every five months. This week both cycles meet in a kind of craving total-eclipse. But if I eat Long John Silver’s in Las Vegas the universe will collapse on itself, so I’ve decided that I must choose between the two. Some pros and cons:

Long John Silver’s offers crumblies. I can’t think of anywhere else in the world that serves deep fried breading as a side. That’s pure grease! You could just drink liquefied fat, but that wouldn’t be crunchy would it? I think that it’s genius that they actually designed a food where there is not one iota of pretense that the food contains even a trace amount of nutritional value.

Vegas is good for two days. After that I’m broke, hung over, and ready to go home. Long John Silver’s is only good for maybe ten minutes. Once the grease congeals, forget it. I once tried to reheat a fish plank in the microwave, and soon after, Martin Sheen agreed to star in the television movie Project Alf.

You can’t tell anybody you’re going to Vegas because whenever you do, they act like a Vegas expert and give you the most asinine advice: “I’ve got this great little out-of-the-way place to stay. It’s called the Luxor. It looks like a giant pyramid and has a large, blinding light shooting out of the top. But don’t tell anybody else. I don’t want my secret spot to become trendy.”

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. What happens in Long John Silver’s makes you stay in the bathroom all morning.

Long John Silver’s has cheaper food. Remember when Vegas was known for cheap food? This was before I was even old enough to be allowed inside city limits, but I remember tales of 99 cent shrimp cocktails and nickel lobsters. Now it’s all about the $75 buffets that offer everything from enchiladas to seared miso kitten drizzled with boysenberry purée accented with a foie gras pudding.

Las Vegas is a great place to catch herpes. Long John Silver's offers a wide variety of Hepatitis.

There are more shows about Las Vegas on the Travel Channel. In fact, the Travel Channel now shows Vegas specials 24/7. Okay, we get it; there are lots of cameras in the casino and a high-end security system. What? Las Vegas uses a lot of water, you say? And it’s in the desert? Hey, did you know Las Vegas is Spanish for “The Vegas?”

In Vegas men on the street pass out hooker cards. Long John Silver's is where street hookers pass out.

Both Vegas and Long John Silver’s leave you feeling soulless.

So, after taking a long and hard look at my list, I’ve decided in favor of Las Vegas. I’m going to stay at Treasure Island. After all, that’s where Long John Silver comes from.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Summer Movie Preview

Butter your popcorn and cheese your nachos, the summer movie season is almost here! Below I preview some notable releases.

IRON MAN: A film about world-famous professional triathlete Tim DeBoom.

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS: If the sequel is called Stays in Vegas, I’ll be almost as annoyed as if this makes enough money to warrant a sequel.

THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN: We have these in Los Angeles, except they are called the afternoon meat vans. I recommend the chicken tacos.

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL: Indy, who now resides at a nursing home, must recover an ancient Mayan artifact, which will then be raffled off at the next bingo mixer to pay for a new water aerobics instructor.

SEX AND THE CITY, THE MOVIE: Do they really need to call it “the movie?” Isn’t it obvious that when you’re sitting in a movie theater watching a movie that it is, in fact, a movie?

THE HAPPENING: Everybody’s going to be there, man. Come on, you have to go. Just tell your mom you’re going to my place to study. Don’t be lame.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK: Not a sequel, but a do-over. Next summer-- Superman Returns!

WALL E: Why don’t they just get it over with and name a movie "Wal-Mart"?

HANCOCK: This was originally called Tonight He Comes. Good thing they came up with a less sexually suggestive title.

KITT KITRIDGE, AN AMERICAN GIRL: Should do really well among the registered-sex-offender demographic.

SPACE CHIMPS: I’ve never heard of this movie before. It may or may not star Matthew Broderick, but it’s my early favorite to capture the box office title this summer.

HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU: Especially after you make him see this movie.

THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS 2: The Sisterhood has been broken. Tibby and Lena continue alone to Mordor to destroy the one ring as Sauron’s forces continue to grow more powerful. Meanwhile, Carmen and Bridget befriend the Rohan and must defend the city of Gondor. And Effie discovers that the two towers between Mordor and Isengard, Barad-dúr and Orthanc, have united in an evil pact to destroy Middle-Earth.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Great Snipe Hunt

A snipe hunt is something that adults do to children about three days into a camping trip when it becomes painfully evident that there is no television around to keep said kids occupied. The adults tell the kids that there are “snipes” in the woods, and the only way to catch the elusive snipe is to run around making clucking noises for a couple of hours. Of course, there are no such things as snipes in the woods, and the adults get a good chuckle over their children needlessly running around the woods while they get to kick back, drink some beer, and vaguely worry that it may be deer hunting season.

These same kids grow up to be the “reliable eyewitnesses” on shows like The History Channel’s Monster Quest. “I’ve lived in these woods all my life, and I can tell you, that was no bear,” they say referring to some blurry monkey-like creature spotted in the Wisconsin forest after a good night’s whiskey binge. This incident is the most exciting moment of their lives, second only to being interviewed for basic-cable filler.

If you watch one episode of Monster Quest, you’ve seen them all. Each episode starts with a reenactment of a run-in with a giant bird/bigfoot/lake monster/yeti/vampire possum. Then we meet a group of “scientists” ready to set out on an “expedition” to prove such a creature does indeed exist. This is followed by more eyewitness accounts, a quick interview with a skeptic who offers a reasonable explanation for the sighting, and even more scientists that believe the creature may really walk among us. “I see no reason why a vampire possum couldn’t exist” they tell us with a straight face, their correspondence degree in cryptozoology hung prominently over their shoulder.

The last half of each episode features the snipe hunt where the small group of scientists heads off into the woods looking for the creature. But instead of making clucking noises to attract whatever creature they are intent on catching, they douse the ground with monkey urine and string a banana to a tree. The scientists set up motion-capture cameras around their trap, camp for a few days, and find some random tufts of hair that are immediately sent to a lab for DNA testing. Right before the commercial one of the scientists reviews the pictures from the motion-capture camera and says something like, “Oh, my gosh!”

After the commercial we learn that the motion-capture camera took seven pictures of a raccoon eating the banana, and the “Oh, my gosh!” was just the scientist remembering that he left his toaster oven on. The DNA sample turns out to be deer hair. But could it be a half-man/ half-deer hybrid? I see no reason why a deer man couldn’t exist.

If anything proves the futility of these programs, it’s the shows themselves. A recent episode of Monster Quest, titled “Creatures from the 4th Dimension,” is about strange, flying torpedo-like creatures called “rods.” The creatures look like squiggles and can’t be seen by the naked eye, but show up on film. Sure enough, there are plenty of examples caught on video camera, none actually seen by the witnesses who all believe they caught something extraordinary with their camcorders. Then come the theories as to what these things actually could be-- creatures from another dimension, an undiscovered species, or military weapons (look out Iran; we have squiggles!). Some college students even reconstruct the figures in a wind tunnel to see if they can get homemade rods to fly.

So after an hour of theories, experiments, and evidence, the crew of Monster Quest sets up a camera and a light, shakes a nearby bush, and, sure enough, captures a rod on camera. It turns out that rods are nothing more than flying bugs being distorted on film. (Oh, sorry.... Spoiler Alert!)

And therein lies the nature of the snipe hunt. It’s a diversion, a waste of time-- the perfect product for television. So while it’s probably better to be outside getting some exercise by searching for creatures that don’t exist, I’ll continue to perform my weekly snipe hunting session via television. They have to eventually find something, right?

(Incidentally, the snipe really does exist. It’s a slender-billed bird found in Europe and Asia known for an erratic flight pattern and effective camouflage thus making it difficult to hunt. It’s where we get the word “sniper” from. And it tastes like duck.)

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Nathan Jordan School of Acting

Ever want to be cast in a BIG BUDGET HOLLYWOOD MOVIE? Ever dream of being RICH AND FAMOUS? Ever want to read an advertisement that OVERUSES CAPITAL LETTERS?

The Nathan Jordan School of Acting has the class for you! Established in 2005, the Nathan Jordan School of Acting caters to actors who want to fill a specific niche in the film industry or performers who need to strengthen certain aspects of their acting repertoire.

Classes available this spring:

INTERRUPTING AT AN INAPPROPRIATE TIME 101: What fun would a romantic comedy be if the hero and heroine actually got to kiss on their first attempt? Learn how to play the wacky stranger that interrupts right before lips touch, delaying the first kiss and keeping the audience in seat-edge anticipation.

WHY DOESN’T THIS CELL PHONE WORK? WORKSHOP: Want to be cast in a horror movie or thriller? Well you had better be prepared for that crucial scene where cell phones become disabled at the most inopportune time. In Why Doesn’t This Cell Phone Work? Workshop, learn to look at your cell, shrug, and say things like, “I can’t believe our car broke down in the middle of the Texas wilderness, and I forgot to charge my cell phone.” Sharpen your skills at holding up the phone and proclaiming, “I’m not getting any reception in the back of this trunk.” Or learn to sigh in a way that says, “Wouldn’t you know it? I forgot to pay my cell phone on the same day the earth is being invaded by aliens.”

BEGINNING BACKGROUND DANCING: While our main characters are professing their love for each other on the prom dance floor, you’ll have a chance to show off your dancing skills in the background. Don’t have dance skills? No problem! You’ll be out of focus and surrounded by others. Learn classic moves like the back and forth sway, the head bob, and the foot shuffle.

ADVANCED BACKGROUND DANCING: Like Beginning Background Dancing, but harder.

SCARY WHISPERING FOR CHILDREN: Will your child be the next Haley Joel Osment? Think your kid has what it takes to play the devil’s hell-spawn? Not if they can’t learn to eerily whisper every single one of their lines. In Scary Whispering for Children they will also learn how to squint while delivering their whispered lines, how to vacantly stare off into space, and how to have conversations with unseen “spirits” in the television set. A must for all child actors!

Act Now! Classes are filing up fast!