Monday, February 28, 2011

This Week In Non-House Hugh Laurie: The Man In The Iron Mask

It's quite the coincidence that the Oscars were on last night, because today's clip comes from a movie that didn't even come close to winning one. The Man In The Iron Mask was quite the turd. I'm not sure if director Randall Wallace was going for anything artistically satisfying, but take a look at this montage featuring Laurie as the King's Advisor and see if you can tell what's wrong with this picture.

Can someone tell me why it is that a story based on a French novel about the French monarchy doesn't really seem to feature any French people? The obvious target here is DiCaprio, who seems about as regal as King Ralph. But it's not like anyone else is making much of an effort either, including Mr. Laurie. He can do a hell of an American accent, but I guess French was beyond his grasp.

Now I realize that MITIM isn't the only movie guilty of giving up on making everyone's accent sound authentic. I doubt that ancient Romans, for example, sounded anything like Russell Crowe. But you'll notice that the accents in Gladiator at least seemed to stay consistent within each nationality. In MITIM, however, you have what seems to be an American King of France being consulted by an Englishmen, with an American, a Brit, an Irishman, and just one Frenchman as the highlighted members of his royal guard. I hope Alexander Dumas enjoyed his swift kick to the nuts.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tales From The Outdoors Show Part III: South Carolina

Here's a big surprise. I'm late with another post. Actually I've been going back and forth in my mind about whether or not I wanted to actually talk about this last trip. It involves my first and only foray into hunting, and I'm guessing that going into detail about the time I stabbed an animal to death will be frowned upon by the average reader. My only rebuttal is that I did use the meat from said animal (a boar) and if anyone rail on me for hunting while having no problem with buying any old animal slaughtered and shipped to the supermarket from the store can kindly go to hell. And as for any vegetarians who might be reading...well, you may just want to skip this particular story.

The idea for this trip actually came from a guy my dad used to work with. As a side job he ran a kennel that raised and sold American bulldogs. If you're wondering what an American bulldog looks like, think about Chance from "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey." If you haven't seen that particular film, you obviously were not a child or a parent during the mid 90s, and you can just take a look at this fellow.

Aside from being the kind of guard dog that will make an intruder's testicles jump out of his mouth in horror, American bulldogs are also used as catch dogs in boar hunting. You see, boar hunting is nothing like more traditional deer or turkey hunting. Rather than sit in one place for 4 or 5 hours waiting for an animal to pass by, boar hunting involves using hound dogs to track a target, and then, once they have it cornered, an American bulldog is loosed on it to hold it in place while the hunter comes in and kills it with a knife.

Now, to be honest, I have conflicting emotions about the whole concept as I look back on it. I have to admit that it doesn't seem terribly sportsmanlike to have a pack of dogs do most of the work for you in tracking and cornering the boar. But at the same time, once it's time to actually kill the thing I think it takes some pretty big nerve to walk right up to a 250-pound animal with 4 inch tusks and stab it to death. Again, people who aren't really down with hunting would probably find the whole thing pretty awful, but I would hope that those folks stopped reading by this point.

Anyway, putting my current thoughts on the subject aside, I can't help but find it a bit funny that my dad, a man who had never hunted anything in his life, thought this would be a fitting debut for he and his 12-year-old son. So he made the arrangements and we made our way down to Blackstock, South Carolina, home of Dorsey's Trophy Hunters Lodge. The owner/operator, Jay Dorsey, is pretty much the epitome of good ole boy. He's the kind of guy that I picture Jack Daniels probably looked like.

The lodge was great. Jay owns a huge chunk of land, so we had what felt like an entire forest all to ourselves. Well, that's not entirely true. The lodge was also playing host to some old fart from Alabama and his equally old and farty wife. I can't remember his name, but I remember he liked it when Jay called him the Alabama Redneck. He claims to have, and I quote, killed "3 boars, 7 deer with spears, a lion, and an alligator." His knife was a machete that he had carved down into a knife. Of course, everyone pretty much hated this man.

The Alabama Redneck showed us this picture of something that he totally did just last week.

Needless to say, as we approached the time to actually take part in this hunt, I was getting more and more nervous thinking about how I'm going out into the woods with my dad and two retards from Alabama to put the trust of my well-being into an animal I'd just watched eat his own crap earlier that day. And of course I'm hearing all of the horror stories about the guys who made a wrong move and wound up getting his leg gouged open by a boar tusk. So when they asked who wanted to go first I was more than happy to let Dad take the first crack at it.

Now when you go out on a boar hunt, half the fun/terror is in actually getting to the boar. We roamed the woods in the back of truck while Jay drove, waiting to hear from the guides with the hound dogs via walkie-talkie. Suddenly, we heard screams of "We got one!" coming through the radio, and before you could say "poor traction" we were barreling through muddy roads in a truck that hasn't had brake work done on it since Elvis died.

Miraculously, we got to the boar without losing anyone off the back, and we rushed out to let Dad do his thing. Once the hunter is ready, they call for the American bulldogs to be unleashed, and these dogs do not fuck around. They grabbed the boar by the ear and there didn't seem to be much chance in hell of the boar getting loose. At this point the whole thing was academic, as Dad managed to put the boar down within 10 or 15 seconds.

So now it was my turn, and to be honest most of the next sequence of events is a blur for me. The drive was pretty much the same, except Jay miscalculated the distance it would take to come to a complete stop when we tried to pull in behind the other truck and we got into a nice fender bender. But I get the feeling these trucks have seen more fender benders than a bumper car so it was no big deal. Just like Dad's turn, the bulldogs took the boar down, and I went in for the final kill, which to be honest took me a bit longer because as you may have guessed this was the first time I ever tried to kill anything with a knife so it took a little while to get the positioning.

The next thing I knew, I was standing in a dry river bed with a dead boar at my feet. Jay had his video camera trained on me and was shouting "What you say, boy?" Basically, he was looking for a good quote to include in his advertising, but I wasn't exactly in the state of mind to be eloquent. So I just tried to ignore him, but he wasn't having it. He repeated, much louder, "What you say!?" What came out of my mouth next is something that I think my dad will probably laugh about on his deathbed. I meant to convey speechlessness with a quick grunt and a shrug of the shoulders, but the sound I made can only be described as the type of noise someone would make as they peed and crapped themselves at the same time.

But as goofy as I may have looked and sounded, I was a grizzled mountain man compared to our pal the Alabama Redneck. This was a guy using a goddamn converted machete as a knife, and he couldn't have done any more damage than a flesh wound with the amount of force he put into stabbing this boar. He actually did more damage to one of the dogs that he nicked on the nose while putting on this shameful display. He then proceeded to put the machete in his mouth and holler and scream like he just tackled the boar and broke its neck with his bare hands. Meanwhile the thing was still half alive behind him with one of the guides trying to put it out of its misery. Great white hunter, indeed.

All in all, I have to admit I'm glad I went on this trip. If nothing else, we had boar meat to last us through a better part of the next year. I haven't been on a hunting trip since then, but that may be because I really don't think I have enough money to be a hunter. Between buying the guns, the gear, and the access to good hunting land I feel like I'd need to sell my car just to have enough funds to get started. So I think I'll probably stick to fishing, something I'm a lot better at anyway. Besides, I don't want to steal the thunder from the Alabama Redneck, who is probably killing a very intimidating squirrel with an M16 even as we speak.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me

I've officially made it to my 27th year and made my old blog address obsolete. I've decided to celebrate in the only way I know how....letting someone much smarter and funnier than me do his thing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

This Week In Non-House Hugh Laurie: Spice World

Oh, Hugh. You've gotta be kidding me. What in God's name possessed you to say yes to Spice World? Granted, he's only doing a minute-long cameo as a parody of the classic detective Poirot in some bizarre daydream sequence. But really....why?

Actually, I've got some theories about how he wound up in this cameo. In fact, I've got ten of them. So I thought what better way to tell you about them than with some special guests.

David Letterman: Well, well. This may be a new low. Now I'm stuck doing guest spots on some lame blogger's website. Oh well, it still beats NBC.

Paul Shaffer: Ha HAAAAA! That's too good Dave!

David Letterman: Thank you, sir. Now, what have we got here...ah yes, "The Top 10 Reasons That Hugh Laurie Did Spice World."

Paul Shaffer: Hoo boy, this should be great!

*plays a few obnoxious sounding lines on the piano*

Letterman: So here we go.

Number 10...He needed money to cover the $400,000 in back taxes that the IRS claims he owed,ignoring the fact that he lived and worked in England.

Number 9... Famed Poirot actor David Suchet told him about a "really unique opportunity" to play a new take on the character.

Number 8...Posh Spice agreed to have sex with him.

Number 7...Sporty Spice agreed to not have sex with him.

Shaffer: Hey now, I'd totally do Sporty Spice.

*plays a few sleazy sounding lines on the piano*

Letterman: Yeah well you'd be willing to do anyone willing to have sex with someone who looks like a walking penis with dwarfism. What's next?

Number 6...He found out that Stephen Fry was doing a cameo, and he couldn't bear to let him ruin his career alone.

Number 5... He was performing some kind of a delayed hazing ritual for alma mater Cambridge University.

Number 4...On the set of A Bit of Fry and Laurie, he accidentally slammed his balls in a car door and claimed to director Bob Spiers that there was no more painful an experience to be found on Earth. After a mere 2 years, Spiers found a way to prove him wrong.

Number 3...He was told that this would be his gateway to a role in a big budget US movie. Unfortunately, that film was Stuart Little.

Number 2...He wanted to give loser blog writers something to bust his balls about.

Shaffer: Just like this blog right? Ha HAAAAAAA!

*tries to play a few intelligent sounding lines on piano, but they just wind up sounding obnoxious and sleazy*

Letterman: Yeah, Paul. That's swell. Just put your head down on the piano would ya? And now, the number one reason why Hugh Laurie agreed to be in Spice World....

I dunno, maybe he's just a fan of the Spice Girls.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tales From The Outdoors Show Part II: West Virginia

Here we are at the second installment of my outdoors show series. Last time I talked about some beautiful, tranquil land up in the land of hockey and maple syrup. This time, we're traveling south to an area that's also beautiful, but not quite so tranquil. Said area is Fayette County, West Virginia, home of the New River and the Gauley River. Now, in all fairness, these locations may very well be tranquil for a lot of people. It was not, however, incredibly calming for those of us who were going to intentionally going to ride inflatable rafts through some of the ugliest parts of each river.

The first time I went whitewater rafting I was probably about 11 or 12 years old. Dad found them at the outdoors show (of course) using the ever-thorough research technique known as "Oh hey a whitewater rafting outfitter. And, wow, a discount coupon!" That's pretty much all he needed to hear. So that spring about 6 of us headed down to God's country to an outfitter called Rivers, and set up in our deluxe accommodations, a.k.a. a tool shed with wooden shelves that doubled as beds. Apparently most of Rivers' capital went into the mansion-sized drinking lodge they had built.

Alright, guys. Enjoy your stay. What's that? Heat? Well, it looks like the walls are flammable if you want to light them on fire.

Fortunately, the rafting itself made up for the "room and board." Being novices, we only did a trip on the New River on this trip. What we didn't know until we got there, however, was that some heavy rain had raised the river about 10 feet above its banks. This meant good news and bad news for us. The good news was that with less rocks jutting out of the water, there was more room to maneuver the rafts. The bad news was that if we fell in we had a few extra million gallons of water pushing us God-knows-where. But that's just the kind of news that keeps you good and motivated, so we managed to get through the trip with little to no bodily harm

As great of a trip as we had, we figured we could do slightly better from our next outfitter than living in a shanty town, so this time Pops put a bit more time into finding a group called Ace Adventure Resort. We really hit the jackpot this time around. Instead of a shed, we slept in a chalet, and I don't think I need to explain that any accommodation with a French name is going to be pretty awesome. It was essentially a fully furnished apartment in the middle of the woods, complete with an outdoor hot tub. For those who say that this is not exactly the best way to commune with nature, I say you try sleeping on a wooden slat with no heat and then come on back and give your thoughts on what you'd pick for future living arrangements.

Posh living conditions aside, the best part of riding with Ace Whitewater, by far, was Fred. Fred is known by rafters in the area as the "Gauley Lama." He knows more about the New and Gauley Rivers than you or I will ever know about anything. During any lulls in the action he'd even give us some stories about each river's history.

Take, for example, the small mining town of Brooklyn, West Virginia. You may recognize that it shares a name with a slightly more well-known town in New York. This connection didn't slip the attention of coal company owners in West Virginia during the turn of the century. They came up with quite a sharp little plan wherein they'd set up a train near the docks in New York City where immigrants would be getting fresh off the boat. This train would be labeled "Brooklyn." Wanna guess which Brooklyn it was going to?

So, um, is that the Statue of Liberty?

Unfortunately for the immigrants who got on this train, they'd be on a non-stop trip to West Virginia before they realized their mistake. Now, the tickets to Brooklyn were very cheap. Getting back from Brooklyn, of course, would be much more costly. And how could they pay for those return tickets? Well, it just so happened that there were plenty of mining jobs they could take. That my friends, is American ethics and ingenuity at their best.

Now, stories like that are more than just entertaining. They are actually comforting coming from a man whose job it is to know the river well enough to keep you from dying in it. Fred knew every inch of both the New and the Gauley rivers, and we really needed that experience with the dumb shit we were doing on these trips.

You see, we were set up for a two day trip, first on the New and then on the Gauley. The thing is, on the day we were supposed to raft the Gauley, we didn't have enough paying customers to fill a boat. So they decided to take us on a trip with the guides-in-training who needed to get some more experience navigating through the Gauley. That meants, of course, that they needed to take the hardest, most dangerous course through each set of rapids so that they'd know what to do should it happen with paying customers. As a paying customer, I found some fault in this logic, but I was too proud to really say anything except for one time.

Fred actually had us land the raft on a rock so that he could show us our options. Option A was to go left and get through basically without much chance of incident. Option B was a bit more complex. Fred explained that there was a 90% chance that we'd fall out, and that there was a 50% chance that once we fell out we would get pulled by the current under a rock and we'd have to hold our breath for as long as a minute until we were pulled back up......Option A! Option A! A thousand times Option A! I have no shame about that either. I'll gladly be a wuss as I sit hear breathing all of this air.

It goes without saying that we did in fact live through all of our subsequent trips, all of which were with Fred. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to go since high school. Hopefully, I'll be able to talk the Mrs. into taking a trip in the near future. I hear that Fred has since retired from Ace, but that he's still spending most days on the river. Maybe I'll just hang out on the shoreline and ask if I can hop on with him.

OK, we're almost done. Check out the finale, where I do my best to avoid the business end of a 250-pound wild boar. Read part three to find out if I've got a tusk-shaped scar on my ass.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tales From The Outdoors Show Part I: Northern Ontario

So I've spent the last couple of days trying to decide which of the three tales to share first. I think a good place to start is my trip up to Lost Lake Lodge, as it pretty well sums up my Dad's obsession with fishing: we celebrated my graduation from high school with the trip to Canada that he had always dreamed about. But I really can't complain too much about my father taking me up to some of the most beautiful country in North America. Don't cry for me, Argentina.

Anyway, the major drawback of vacationing in the middle of nowhere is that you have to drive all the way to the middle of no where. If I remember correctly, it took about 14 hours to get there. And that was with Dad ignoring speed limit signs (both miles per hour and kilometers per hour) as well as my claims that I was ready to piss on him and eat his arm. But once we reached our location, The Lost Lake Lodge, we immediately knew the drive was going to be worth it. Lost Lake is the type of pristine landscape that you put on a postcard.

But the best part was that we knew that no where beyond the tranquil shorelines were we ever going to find an RV park or a bunch of screaming white trash kids shooting pellet guns at one an other. The only thing beyond the lake...were more lakes. And we would access to all of them to fish for small-mouth bass, northern pike, and even trout.

So, Dad's addiction being what it is, I believe we were in a boat fishing on the lake within two to three minutes of checking into the lodge. And within another two to three minutes, something became very clear. Green flies in Northern Ontario are like one of the ten fucking plagues. These little bastards were all over both of us immediately as we got out on the water. By the end of the trip Dad and I had sprayed so much bug repellent on ourselves that it literally oozed out of my pores. If you ever take a trip up north during the summer, I recommend you bring a bee suit.

Speaking of Canada in the summer, did you know that it does indeed get extremely hot? Somehow, this fact had eluded both my father and me, because we did not plan for the amount of sun that we were going to get. Why? Well, we aren't very bright. For some reason, we expected that being so far north would put us into milder temperatures, but as it turns out it's still pretty much summer up there, and when you go out without proper sun protection you get to look forward to this feeling by midweek.

One day I actually had to sleep off the sun stroke, so I left Dad to go out on his own. Which means, of course, I missed the best trip of the week. Not only did he catch the biggest fish of the week, but on his way back to the lodge he spotted a wolf on the shoreline. A FUCKING WOLF! We talked to Ed, the owner of the lodge, and he told us that through a couple of decades running the place, that's only happened about 3 times. Meanwhile, I'm back at the cabin trying to avoid setting the couch on fire with my skin.

But I can't act like this was a bad trip. One day we went on a hike to get to a lake with no road access. We had to walk for approximately 30 minutes through woods that maybe a handful of people get to see each year. Everything was ancient and untouched. Except for one strange anomaly...even though there were no roads within miles of this trail, there was the shell of a car that looked like it had been there since the 40s or 50s. To this day I can't think of how that son of a bitch got there. But it looked pretty damn cool. Which is good because when we got to the lake we didn't catch a damn thing.

Not to say that the fishing wasn't great elsewhere. Lost Lake is actually the first place that I ever caught myself a northern pike. The best way I can describe catching a northern pike is to hook onto something that feels like you've caught a rock at the bottom of the water, only the rock starts fighting back. And when you finally pull the rock up out of the water, it looks like this.

Needless to say, it was a hell of a dude's trip. We fished a lot, ate too much, and as previously mentioned did very little to protect our bodies from the elements. And I need to take a moment to give a tip of the cap to Ed, the owner/operator of Lost Lake Lodge. Not only did he treat us like family while we were at the lodge, but I swear to God when we saw him this year at the outdoors show he recognized both of us, which is quite a feat after almost a decade.

Anyway, that's my tale from Northern Ontario. Hope you enjoyed it, because there's plenty more like it to come. Next, I think we'll talk about the 27 separate times I almost shit my pants while whitewater rafting in West Virginia. Stay tuned to find out how!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Life As Molded By The Eastern Sports And Outdoors Show

An odd thing about me is that even though I spend most of my time indoors, usually in front of an electrical device of some kind, I really do enjoy the outdoors. Though, to be honest, sometimes I like the idea of the outdoors more than I like the allergies, sunburn, and fat kid-like sweating that comes along with actually going outdoors. I think that's why I get such a kick out of going with my dad to the Eastern Sports and Outdoors show. I get to enjoy the outdoors without actually being outdoors. God, it's kind of sad when I think of it like that.

Anyway, this event is probably every bit the hillbilly extravaganza that you're picturing right now. Basically, hunting and fishing outfitters from all over the world get together to advertise their wares, drawing the creme de la creme that central Pennsylvania has to offer. One gentleman that I spotted wandering around the event, for example, looked like the love child of Ned Beatty's character in Deliverance and the guy who raped Ned Beatty's character in Deliverance.

But even though I was likely one of the few people in the building that day who actually believes Obama is an American citizen, somehow I feel at home when I'm at the outdoors show. And looking back, I think it's because a lot of my childhood can be linked there in some way. My dad is an avid fisherman, so every year when I was a kid I remember getting dragged out to this thing and waiting impatiently while he would drool over the fishing equipment and trips to Alaska that he'd never be able to afford. I, meanwhile, would bitch and moan until he would take me to one of the knife vendors, so that I could talk him into buying me a really cool knife that I would stick in a drawer and never look at again.

This year, though, I realized that I've had some pretty wild adventures because of the outfitters at the outdoors show. It's even got me waxing nostalgic to the point where I'd like to spin you a few yarns. I was going to spit them out in one sitting, but I realized that would be one of those really long posts that seems like a good idea at the time, but that drags on so long you actually start resenting the writer for not knowing how to get to the damn point.

Therefore, I'm going to split them up into three separate stories. Now, I'd like to say I'm going to break out these stories over the next three days, but this is me talking here. So let's be realistic and say that over the course of the week I'll rehash some of the goofy shit that Dad and I have gotten into while in the great outdoors.

Until then, I can't in good conscience talk about things involving the outdoors without giving a nod to The Great Outdoors.

Monday, February 14, 2011

This Week In Non-House Hugh Laurie: 101 Dalmatians

I came pretty close to not bothering with a post this week. Between getting sick and having work take over my weekend I really wasn't feeling it. But I've really been slacking with this thing so I figured I can at least take a few minutes to show some mindless Hugh Laurie slapstick.

Said slapstick comes from the live-action version of 101 Dalmatians, a movie that I quite frankly didn't even know had Hugh Laurie in it. But the wife has been looking forward to this post for a while. She wanted me to start with this one, actually, but my strict work ethic demanded that I stick to posting clips based on chronological order. Except for the couple of times that I didn't feel like it. Anyway, here's a montage of Hugh Laurie's turn as Jasper.

So, I realize this is an odd thing to think when watching clips from a movie for children, but Hugh Laurie doesn't look well. His eyes have dark circles. His hair is disheveled. His teeth are dirty and crooked. And I know what your thinking. Of course he looks unwell...he's English. But I think it goes beyond that. I strongly believe that Jasper was a heroin addict.

Here me out here. Let's look at the facts. Jasper is often irritable, even violent with his associate. This is surely the attitude of a man who badly needs a fix. Which is why he's willing to work for a woman who kills cuddly puppies just to make a coat. He's even comfortable with accosting an "old bird" if it means he can finally catch that dragon. For those who need visual evidence, I've produced a couple of pictures for comparison.

One of these men seems to be doing everything he can to look like a crazed drug addict. The other one is Leonardo DiCaprio.

So next time you think you're just watching some harmless fluff about cute puppy dogs, keep in mind that you are really watching a study on a man whose habit has taken total control of his life. It's tragic, but it's important for children and parents to watch it together so that they can talk candidly about the pitfalls of drug addiction. I would like to thank the creators of 101 Dalmatians for being so bold when they could have just made Hugh Laurie into a silly, one-note buffoon.

Monday, February 7, 2011

This Week In Non-House Hugh Laurie: Letting The House Super Bowl Ad Slip In

Greetings from the exotic land of Virginia, where I'm currently staying for a few days for a work training. I haven't seen any lovers yet. Just a few couples who looked like they were wishing for a quick, painless death for themselves or a slow, brutal death for their significant other. Perhaps it's time for a license plate change, Virginia.

As you know, last night was the Super Bowl, the magical time of year that the biggest ad minds get together to market products that, quite frankly, don't need to be marketed anymore. I mean, honestly, did anyone rush out for that bag of Doritos they had forgotten because they watched a guy suck cheese powder off another guy's finger?

To be honest, most of the commercials were pretty weak sauce this year. In fact, the only thing that gave me a real belly laugh was the Mean Joe Green parody they used to promote House. Now I know that the whole point of this segment is to explore Hugh Laurie's other characters, but I couldn't just ignore this gem.

Say what you will about how this is an unoriginal parody that's been done a million times before. Or that it was just kind of a stupid throw away promo that no one really gave much thought to. Or even that the show itself has become kind of stale after 6 seasons. I won't argue any of that. But you seem to be forgetting something very important...a small child gets hit in the face with a cane!

I could watch a small child get hit in the face with a cane every day for the rest of the year and it wouldn't get old. Now I have something to dream about to keep me sane when it takes me an hour and a half to get out of the grocery store because the aisle is blocked by a fat kid arguing with his mother about why he can't get the family size bag of Double-Stuff Oreos. Dammit, now I want Oreos. But before I go, I leave any remaining doubters with Exhibit A on the cultural importance of physical comedy.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Verbal Bitch Slaps From William Shakespeare

It's been a little while since I've visited my calendar of Shakespeare's zingers. We've definitely got some good ones this week. Enjoy, you whores and whoresons. God I love that.

"Rash, inconsiderate, fiery voluntaries,
With ladies' faces and fierce dragons' spleens."
--The Life and Death of King John 2.1.67-68.
Wait a minute, something is wrong here. This is Chatillion, a French ambassador, describing the English army. Have I wandered into some bizzaro world, where the French make fun of other armies for being effeminate?

"Thou wert best set thy lower part where thy
nose stands."
--All's Well That Ends Well 2.3.246-247
Ok, so correct me if I'm wrong here....but is Lord Lafew telling Parolles to go sniff his own crotch?

"Your hose...ungartered, your bonnet
unbanded, your sleeve unbuttoned, your
shoe untied, and everything about you
demonstrating a careless desolation."
--As You Like It 3.2.357-360
The calendar explains that Rosalind is explaining to Orlando that this is how a person should look when they're really in love. It actually sounds more like she's describing someone taking the walk of shame.

"If she be less than an honest woman, she is indeed more than I took her for."
--The Merchant of Venice 3.5.37-38
Ha! This is pretty straight-forward but I still think it's hilarious.

"You rise to play, and go to bed to work"
--Othello, the Moor of Venice 2.1.115
Seriously, Iago, go fuck yourself. To find this kind of enlightened thinking on the role of wives nowadays, you'll want to find yourself a nice redneck bar and find the guy who has been divorced 3 times and has at least two restraining orders against him. I really don't think I've ever wanted to kick a fictional character in the balls so badly in my life.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Grumpy Review: The King's Speech

My biggest fear going to see The King's Speech was that I was going to see it as a good movie just because everyone else says that it's a good movie. Sometimes I'll find myself buying into the hype of a movie and not taking it at face value. But then again, I'm also the type of asshole who winds up hating something precisely because everyone else thinks it's great. Glee, for example, is an extended gimmick that has officially run it's course.. There Will Be Blood is about as entertaining as a dental appointment. And Arrested Development was canceled because even though every cooler than thou TV connoisseur can't stop singing its praises, nobody seemed to actually watch the fucking show.

The King's Speech, however, is a case of a movie being heavily touted simply because it's a fantastic movie that deserves to be recognized. There is nothing terribly complex or sophisticated about the plot. Colin Firth plays King George VI, a member of the royal family who finds himself thrust into England's most prominent role while dealing with a lifelong stammering problem. Geoffrey Rush plays Lionel Logue, the speech therapist who tries to help him overcome his disability. If absolutely everything else about this movie was terrible, it would still be worth watching it for the performances by Firth and Rush.

Firth sets the tone of the movie in an opening scene that is, at least for me, excruciating to watch. Bertie, as he's called by his family, is asked to give a speech to a large crowd of his countrymen. As the crowd grows quiet, Bertie tries to get started, but stammers so badly that he can't even get a single word out. As someone who is terrified of public speaking, I almost couldn't watch.

Rush starts the movie in almost the exact opposite scenario. As a speech therapist and amateur thespian, Lionel has a way with words, but no one really cares to watch him speak. His biggest audience when he recites Shakespeare is usually his two kids. But he's confident with himself and he's happy. So, when Bertie reluctantly visits Lionel at the behest of his wife, there is an immediate clash of personality.

The evolution of the movie is based on the evolution of their relationship. Lionel constantly tests Bertie, believing that many of Bertie's speech problems stems from psychological scars rather than physical impairments. Some of the best scenes in the movie come from their back and forth, whether it be in the form of some funny banter, or in some heart-wrenching discussions about Bertie's fucked-up family life, especially his relationship with his father, George V (Michael Gambon), and his brother, Edward VIII (Guy Pearce). Both of these men have their own role to play in Bertie's speech impediment, and we learn this in little pieces throughout the movie.

Pearce stands out as playing a selfish prick quite well. He's supposed to be the one to take over the monarchy, but he refuses in order to marry his commoner wife who the Church of England won't allow to be royalty because she's been divorced twice. This would be a very romantic sentiment, if not for the fact that we see that Edward is essentially henpecked by this woman, and they have nothing of the loving, healthy relationship that we see between Bertie and his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter, taking a break from playing psychotic nut jobs in order to give a great, low-key performance).

By the end of the movie, Bertie is saddled with a responsibility that he is not sure he can handle, but when he finds himself in front of a microphone once again, this time as the King of England, watching him give his first radio address almost has you shouting words of encouragement at the screen.

Grade: A

Happy Groundhog Day From Phil Connors