Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Greatest Movie Synopsis You Will Read Today

Courtesy of IMDb and a dedicated plot summary writer. Yes, the movie seems batshit in its own right, but you really have to appreciate that the writer decided that the best possible way to summarize this film was to include his own critiques and asides. Also, I have no clue what last-act plot twist is being described in the final two sentences — nor why the he felt it necessary to give away the last act in what should ideally be a three-sentence tease.
Got problems? Need a shrink? Call an alcoholic reporter instead. Janet Ames is a war widow who deeply resents the five buddies of her husband, whom he died to save, although she only knows their names. She is approaching a cafe where the first of the five men, whose names are on a list in her hand, is employed. Her plan, whatever it was, becomes somewhat secondary when she is ran over by a truck and is taken to the hospital unconsciousness. There, in one fell swoop of an amazing coincidence, she is identified by Smithfield Cobb, a reporter addicted to drink — probably because of his name — who also happens to be the fifth man on her list. She regains consciousness but is unable to walk, although the best medical minds in the building say she has no personal injury that prevents her from walking. Smithfield sees right off that her problem is mental, and he decides he will cure her by using psycho-analysis and suggestion — the man came equipped — to wipe away her perception that the five men whose lives her husband saved at the cost of his own were not worthy of the sacrifice. He describes to her each of the other four men and makes them all seem to be worthy and successful men and prime candidates for induction into the Jaycees. He lies of course, but all in a good cause. He gets around to himself and tells her he is quite a distinguished journalist — with a capital J — and the next thing anyone knows, Janet is dancing around the room and fully cured of her boiled-up resentment, or whatever. But, wait... It isn't over. Smithfield is ashamed of telling her all these lies, and he flees for the nearest bar and is working on becoming a complete basket-case. Janet follows and she then proceeds to overcome by psychoanalysis and suggestion — can't overlook that one — a cure for him.
Rosalind Russell’s expression on the poster, by the way, makes it look like a taut thriller. I really don’t know what to think.


The Guilt of Janet Ames. I can’t think of a less enticing title for a movie.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Halloween in March! (Or — Attack of the Sinister Spiders)

I hope everyone else finds the animal life in my backyard as interesting as I do.

A few days ago, I found that one of my pumpkins had gone soft. No biggie, really — I placed the thing out for Thanksgiving, and it's been sitting out ever since, holidays be damned. I decided to give it an honorable send off by chucking it into the wall in the back wall. And there it sat, a cracked Humpty Dumpty waiting for the birds to pick out its unborn children from its body cavity.

Today, I noticed that it had attracted visitors: orange-bodied, black-legged spiders that looked like a cross between your typical house arachnid and fire ants. They were swarming. It’s like they were having a party.


Can anyone tell me what these are? I’ve lived in California all my life and never noticed one of these, to say nothing of a sinister cluster of them. They’re not fire ants. I got a very close interaction with those when I moved in the backyard. And they don’t seem to be coming from a hole in the ground. In fact, it kind of looks like they came from inside the pumpkin.

Oh look, I have video too. They’re stars now, these little nightmares.


The backyard beat, previously:

Friday, March 27, 2015

How to Remove a Wasp’s Nest — the Drew Mackie Way!

(Inspired by actual events.)
  1. Head out to the garage. See that a wasp is building a nest in the door frame.
  2. Use the Lord’s name in vain.
  3. Stand there watching it, in hopes that it will reveal its secret weakness.
  4. Return inside. Google “how to remove a wasp nest.” Quickly tire of this.
  5. Emboldened by boredom, decide that you can swat it down. After all, you killed that fly on your own.
  6. Go to the utility closet and find the long-handled tool you least care about being infected with wasp evil. Decide on the Swiffer that came with the house, as you no longer have any Swiffer strips anyway.
  7. Return outside, Swiffer in hand, to find that the wasp is lying in wait for you. 
  8. Decide to simply take out the wasp.
  9. Swing. 
  10. Miss.
  11. Drop the Swiffer and run inside.
  12. Lock the door for some reason.
  13. Watch some TV, occasionally peering out the back door to see if the wasp is still mad.
  14. Have some wine, then turn in for the night.
  15. Head out to the garage in the morning, find the Swiffer lying in the dirt.
  16. “Goddammit, Glen, why is the Swiffer out here on the — oh, wait, never mind.”
  17. Not seeing the wasp, you decide to take another swipe at the nest. It falls to the ground without incident. Nothing appears to be inside. You think about that Calvin & Hobbes with the dead bird for a second.
  18. Note that there are other wasp nests along the garage overhang, just none others specifically near where you need to enter.
  19. Decide that the wasps can just have the garage in the same manner in which you ceded the toolshed to the spiders.
  20. Stay inside forever.

This, by the way, is the thematic sequel to my other instructional post, “How to Actually Fold a Fitted Sheet.”

The backyard beat, previously:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Horror in Broad Daylight

Here is the third in what I’d like to make a series on this blog: Drew recommends horror movie scenes that happen in the daylight.

See, It Follows has stuck with me. (And yeah, insert your joke here.) One of the many things it does that other horror movies don’t do often enough is stage scary scenes during the daytime. It feels like a violation of a horror rule, but it isn’t. We’re just so used to seeing our fodder protagonists running though the dark that it’s all the more jarring when they get attacked during the day.

In 1983’s Curtains, a group of actresses vying for a role spend a weekend with the director in a secluded cabin. One by one, they get picked off my a mystery killer wearing a hag mask. And one of the first to encounter this hag is Christie (Lesleh Donaldson), who makes the mistake of stepping out one morning to go ice skating. That seems like a safe decision in a horror movie. It isn’t. And the scene works, in spite of the fact that it’s happening in full daylight, in spite of the fact that ice skates have never otherwise seemed scary.



The rest of Curtains also gets my recommendation, by the way. It has to be noted: Isn’t Curtains the perfect name for a slasher movie about actors?



The full movie is available on YouTube, in case you don’t mind subtitles.

Previous horror movie scenes that happen during the day:

Sunday, March 22, 2015

With “It” Being Hilariously Outdated Streetwalker Garb

This week, I had to watch Pretty Woman. I realize that I grew up in a generation of kids who watched this movie willingly and repeatedly, but I wasn’t allowed to, I’m guessing because my parents wanted to leave explanations about prostitution to the Bible. As a result of not having grown up with it, I kind of hate Pretty Woman. I think if you see it when you’re a kid, you just accept it as good. If you see it as a grown-up who has the slightest inkling about what a prostitute’s life might be like, you can’t get past its phoniness. In fact, the only part about Pretty Woman I really enjoy is Laura San Giacomo, and that probably puts me in a super-minority.

In watching it in order to write even the dinkiest listicle about it, I realized that my fashion vocabulary completely failed me regarding Julia Roberts’ first costume in the film. You know the one: the most streetwalkery, the least hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold. It’s hooker with an aluminum spleen at best. But while I didn’t know how to describe it beyond “What the fuck is she supposed to be wearing?” and thereabouts, I could liken it to another pop cultural woman of the night.


In the original Final Fight, you encounter a female enemy, Poison, who’d later go on to become playable in the Street Fighter games. She’s never stated to be a prostitute, but she is a streetwalker in the literal sense: She trots up to you as you scroll down the street and attempts to kick your ass, just like every male enemy does. Poison lacks Vivian’s thigh-highs and the smoking jacket, but the two characters are baring similar amounts of skin beneath their tank tops. And then there’s that hat. The Pretty Woman hat is either a pageboy cap or a Greek fishing hat, according to my panel of experts. And while most probably assume Poison is wearing a cop hat, reappropriated punk-style, I think it’s actually a Greek fishing hat.

Were Greek fishing hats in style for a certain class of woman in the early 90s? I have no idea. Was the Pretty Woman outfit representative of something a prostitute would have actually worn? Or would she have looked odd and out-of-place even in the skantastic fashion netherworld that was Hollywood Boulevard in 1990? Again, not having been in the market for prostitutes when I was seven, I can’t say.

And in case you’re thinking that Poison’s outfit might have been a tip of the hat — that is, the 90s prostitute hat — to the most famous hooker of the era, it’s not. Pretty Woman hit theaters on March 23, 1990, and FInal Fight first hit arcades in December 1989. Poison technically debuted first, so the two designs probably originated separately, though I’d be interested to know if they were both inspired by a real-life look, hookery or not.

Who Wore It Better? — previously:

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Names to Give Dogs So the Dogs Can Say Their Names

Note: Some of these names may be difficult to say for certain dogs. If your dog cannot pronounce any of these names, please get a new dog at once.

Earl

Ralph

Alf

Art

Bob

Bart

Burt

Boof 1

Bao

Howe

Waugh

Garth

Garr

Rue

Woo

Earp 2

Eartha

Her

Ruffles 3

Wolf 4

  1. Is a family name. It is too, dammit.
  2. This will work better if your name is Wyatt. If your name is not Wyatt, this may be confusing for you and the dog.
  3. The second syllable is silent.
  4. Is maybe a little too obvious, though, don’t you think?
(image modified from 1960 james flora illustration found here.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

“Come, Tilda. Come.”

I am dogsitting. The following photograph accurately summarizes this experience. 


Matilda wanted to go on a walk. She bounced excitedly as I clipped on her leash. But within a block of my house — a location Matilda shouldn’t have any particular attachment to, really — she refused to walk farther. The boundless potential of another walk had once again  ended in her stubbornly pulling back, the leash taut and me saying in gradually increasing volume, “Tilda? Tilda? TILDA?

But this is not a post about dog behavior. Matilda likes the idea of walks but not the experience of them. I have made peace with her cognitive dissonance. This is a post about that damned hot pink leash.

I would like to think that I am secure enough with my masculinity and sexuality and penility that I can be comfortable walking a dog on a hot pink leash. However, the combination of that leash, me loudly addressing her as Tilda — yes, as in Swinton but not because of Swinton but why wouldn’t people assume Swinton? — and the fact that I’m having a public spat with her because she is refusing to do the thing I want her to do? This may be too much. I can see how it might look to someone passing by — the leash at a tight angle, Matilda throwing the little dingo baby version of a hissy fit and me attempting to regain control with “Tilda, this is not what we do. This is now how we take walks. This is no. No, Tilda. No.”

Did I mention that my fingernails are also stained purple? They are. There was an incident yesterday that involved some black dye that turned out to be somewhere more between eggplant and plum. Here is how my hands looked yesterday.


And here is how they look today, post-scrubbing. I think they look like I just emerged from a goth phase. It is probably not especially noticeable, but I sure keep noticing it.


So purplefingers and “This is no, Tilda” were pretty much setting the scene when my next-door neighbor walked by. He said, “Drew, you got a dog!” and he seemed genuinely happy for me. Me: “Oh, she’s not my dog. I’m just watching her. She belongs to my friend. My friend Katherine.” Yes, I specified the gender of the dog-owner, which is basically a half-step away from “THIS ISN’T MY LEASH MY LEASH WOULD BE BLUE AND MAKE OF NAILS.”

So while I would like to think that I am secure enough with my masculinity and sexuality and penility that I can comfortably walk a dog on a hot pink leash, I apparently have a ways to go.

Matilda’s leash, it must be said, perfectly matches the blooming bougainvillea. She seems comfortable with that.


This I can get behind no problem. BTW, should it interest you, there is a previous Matilda adventure.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Potential Names for the Monster From It Follows

We’re well past the weekend, but my mind is still on that movie, still wondering about answers to questions that probably don’t have answers. In talking about It Follows, I realize we don’t know what to call the thing that relentlessly, anonymously follows its victims. While I would like to call it an It Follows in the same way that I like to call the thing from Cloverfield a Cloverfield, I feel we can do better.

Here are options to referring to it.

The Plodder

The Clomper

The Lumberer

The One Who Moseys

Pacey

Dr. Trots

Alice Walker

The Shambling Terror

Walky McSexmonster

“Mom, What Are You Doing Here?”

Death Pedestrian

Death Pedestrian is also a good band name, of course.