OSCAR (AND HIS OTHER YOUNGER COUSIN ARNOLD)

I have a Facebook friend whose husband is a Hollywood screenwriter…for privacy reasons, I’m mentioning no names, but he has written several screenplays that were made into successful movies.

My friend (hereinafter to be known as Zelda) often accompanies her talented spouse on the set of the movies he’s working on, and of course meets many famous celebs, actors and Hollywood types. (It’s hard to avoid celebs in LaLaLand, otherwise known as Los Angeles…you pretty much trip all over them out there…I once spent 15 minutes talking to Mary Stuart Masterson in front of the Meat Department in a Whole Foods store.)

Anyway, Zelda tells me the story of the time she was backstage on a movie set and fell into conversation with the leading lady, a notoriously self-absorbed ego freak, in between takes. The actress launched into a detailed and highly complimentary depiction of her own acting in her most recent role. She was, according to Zelda, not reticent to express her pleasure with her work.

After about 10 minutes of blowing her own horn vigorously, the diva, grasping my friend’s arm, exclaimed, well, that’s enough about what I thought of my performance, what did YOU think of my performance?

Which I why I didn’t watch the Oscars last Sunday.

Believe me, I have nothing against movies and/or actors…I love movies. Between my own DVD collection, movies on YouTube (the free ones) and all the classics on TCM, I suspect I average watching 12-15 movies every month. That wouldn’t make me a died-in-the-wool, second coming of Gene Siskel, serious expert on films, but I’m a fan nonetheless.

But all these ubiquitous award shows, the Oscars, the Emmys, the Grammys, the People’s Choice, the Golden Globes, the Crappies or whatever they call them, the ESPYs, the Trotskys, the Church Keys, geez all ready, enough.

Gag me with a film canister and a microphone.

Because all these award shows are essentially the same exercise, over and over again. A bunch of preening, self-centered praise junkies get together and tell each other how much they like themselves, then give each other a pat on the back and a small statue.

I know that they’re not all weasels…as I said, in my 13 years living in L.A., I met a number of actors, most of whom were pretty much decent, average folks with a strange job. (Played guitar with Adrian Zmed’s kid once, and another time had a three-minute convo with Elliott Gould in a Border’s bookstore, just enough time for me to understand that he is a very strange dude.) Yeah, some of them are assholes, but can you name me any portion of our society that doesn’t have its share of undesirables, nuts and jerks? Why do you think there are so many proctologists?

But if I did put any credence in award shows, I would want to alter them somewhat, you know, create a new show that updates the categories for the awards and recognizes some of the up to now ignored segments of the performing arts.

Since we’re talking about movies/actors, my suggestions will be limited to that field of artistic expression…someday I’ll take on the music industry and the Hammys, er, Grammys.

My award show will be sanctioned by the American Society of Screen Hacks and Turkeys (ASSHAT) and my award statue will be a playful rendition of an Ebert©, which you will recall from my post of 1/24 (I’M NOT BEING CHASED, BUT I AM RUNNING) is a small, furry mammal of the Saskatchewanis ebertis genus that has rather prominent, flat ears, enormous genitalia and is indigenous to Canada.

Here are some examples of the new categories and potential winners you can look forward to from the ASSHAT’s The Eberts© Awards show…

Best Actor Playing the Same Role in Multiple Comedies

                The first such Ebert© award would go to Bill Murray, who played pretty much the same character in about 200 movies before he finally branched out to become Harold Ramis.

Or how about…?

Biggest Bunch of Untalented Hacks Raising A Stench In A Movie

                As an exemplar for this Ebert©, you need look no further than the old Star Trek mission…yeah, I was a fan but that didn’t render me blind, deaf or stupid; with the possible exception of James Doohan, the gentleman who played Engineer Scott, the rest of them were abysmal, William Shatner and DeForest Kelley in particular. Leonard Nimoy didn’t count…during the entire run of the show (and the subsequent movies), all he did was wear that same dopey expression on his face and make obscene Vulcan hand gestures.

Or…?

Worst Musical Score In An Otherwise Fabulous Movie

                If I ever get the ASSHAT Awards show off the ground, I might give this Ebert© to one of my most fave movies ever, Harper…if you’ve never seen it, it is an outstanding, 5-star flick. Based on uber-mystery writer Ross Macdonald’s award-winning novel The Moving Target (great, great book), the movie stars Paul Newman, Lauren Bacall, Janet Leigh, Arthur Hill, Robert Wagner, Shelley Winters, Strother Martin, Julie Harris and Robert Webber. The cinematography is excellent, the acting and direction first-rate, the screenplay beautifully written and the background music absolutely putrid.

How about…?

Most Atrocious Case Of Miscasting In A Drama

                Best example of this travesty would give the Ebert© to Alixe Gordin, the casting director for the movie The Boys From Brazil, in which he cast Gregory Peck to play the Third Reich’s Schutzstaffel Dr. Josef Mengele. Gregory Peck? What, are you kidding me? You had Atticus Finch, Scout and Jem’s kindly, highly moral, upstanding-citizen-and-all-around-great-guy father playing the Nazi’s “Angel of Death? WTF? (And to show what an incredible actor Peck was, he was brilliant as Mengele, just as he was as Atticus.)

***AND THIS JUST IN FROM THE WATRUK NEWSROOM…scientists, having nothing better to do, recently discovered why zebras have stripes…polka dots weren’t available at the time. And if you made a bunch of brassieres from striped animal material, you could call them Zee Bras.*** 

(https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/20/science/zebra-stripes-flies.html)

Another proposed new category could be…?

Most Totally Unbelievable Screenplay

                And this Ebert© would go to…FLASHDANCE! Really, this kid is all of what, 18-19? And she’s already a fully-certified arc-welder, an accomplished dancer of on-stage erotic fantasy scenes, has an amazing loft apartment, complete with rehearsal hall, dog kennel, pizza joint and currency exchange and her boyfriend drives a Porsche 911 Turbo, lives in house the size of Buckingham Palace and is the owner of the company where she works, having built an empire of industrial holdings by the time he was 13. Yeah, that’s real life…just happened to me last week. (I look pretty stupid in the leotard.)

Or we could have an ASSHAT Award for…?

Worst Idea For A Movie Remake

                If the ASSHAT Awards ever gets off the ground, a good example for an Ebert© for this category would be the 1998 remake of one of the all-time classic thriller/scare-the-crap-outta’-ya movies, Psycho. Really? Anne Heche, the lost in the desert, done up on Ectasy Anne Heche? Really? I mean, it’s a classic, Hall Of Fame horror/mystery flick made by the recognized master of the genre Alfred Hitchcock, so you’re going to remake it and in some manner improve on the original? Whoever funded this abortion should have been drawn and quartered.

Or…?

Biggest Box Office Flop

                My best example for this Ebert© would be the 1997 remake of the Vladimir Nabokov classic Lolita, which cost, according to WikiPedia, my go-to source for arcane and highly esoteric information, SIXTY-TWO MILLION DOLLARS to make and grossed a paltry $1,100,000 in return, for an adjusted-for-inflation loss of NINETY-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS. Give or take a mill or two. I suppose if you’re a wealthy Republican investor and need a strong tax write-off, this would work, but man, that’s ugly.

And lastly…?

Best Unintentionally Hysterical Melodrama

                Hands down, if I ever make the ASSHAT Award show a reality, this Ebert© would go the 1936 classic Reefer Madness. Having sampled cannabis in my wild and mostly out-of-control youth (this morning) on several occasions, I can assure you that, other than the wild sex scenes involving a trombone, an arc-welder and a 55-gallon drum of CoolWhip, the actions and reactions of people who are seriously toasted, as they are depicted in the movie, are some of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on the screen; the humor is driven by its serious melodramatic tone.

Oh, FYI, I would absolutely kill for a box of Publix’ Apple Fritters right now.

Love and celluloid,

Cap’n John

 

I GET LETTERS_VOL. II

I was reading a thread on Facebook sometime back, although with today’s 24/7 Internet/media onslaught of our senses, it could have been yesterday around 3:30 for that matter, about the deterioration of good grammar/spelling/syntax in the world today…the various commenters were bemoaning how bad it’s gotten on social media, as well as in newspapers, advertising, day-to-day communications between people in their homes, in the workplace, in schools, in houses of ill-repute and mortuaries; if the consensus of opinion in the post was accurate, there are currently no more than 568 people in America who use proper grammar, correct spelling and the appropriate sized socket wrench for removing sparkplugs (which by the way would be either a 5/8” or 13/16” with an extension, unless the car came with the optional kanoonten valve booster for the inlet framitz, then the correct size would be 89mm).

The underlying theme of the thread was one we’ve all heard often in the past: the general “dumbing down” of America. Although I can offer no statistical evidence or empirical research to support this claim, I agree with the folks on the FB thread…it sure seems like Americans, when it comes to their ability to express themselves, either verbally or in writing, can’t find their butts with both hands and a map.

The incidents of no punctuation, abysmal spelling (I had a friend who always spelled it “frend”…always), poor or no use of paragraphs, 24-second violations, an utter lack of understanding/using the rules of proper syntax, run-on sentences, no capital letters and having 12 men on the field are rife in our culture today…you can hear it from folks when they speak and read it in their writing.

It’s ugly.

I, on the other hand, having absorbed all my grammar and punctuation rules by being on the receiving end of a ruler wielded by various and sundry of the Sisters of Corporal Punishment at Our Lady of Perpetual Motion grade school, to this day, MANY years later, still in fear, make sure I capitalize, use good grammar and punctuate properly at all times.

And yes, I have an anus the size of a BB. (Several years after I graduated from OLPM, the good Sisters of CP were replaced by a new order, the Sisters of the Blessed Fundament.)

Given this instructional background of proper English usage, I rarely hear complaints from my readers, all several of you, about my language or my manner of expression; however, I do get letters, emails, texts, telegrams, smoke-signals and notes in bottles (hey, I live a mile and a half from the Gulf of Mexico, okay?), praising or taking me to task for something I’ve said here on the WATRUK blog. And since I had virtually nothing else to do this morning (I was going to re-jet a couple of four-barrel carburetors for a buddy, but he called to tell me he wouldn’t need them until next week, so I decided to wait), I thought I would share a few of the more pathetic, err, sorry, interesting comments I’ve received from my fans recently.

Batten down the hatches, maties, there’s rough seas ahead.

“I’m a God-fearing Christian women that who been a proud member of the Nashinel Rifle Asociashun for over 200 years now, and I voted for Messiah Donald Trump for Supreme Ruler of the Planet, and I sure don’t cotton to sum of the things you’ve been sayin bout the Messiah on that flog or whatever ya call it of yours lately. You said that Our Master was crazy (IS THIS THE PARTY TO WHOM I’M SPEAKING?_CONTINUED_VER 4.0), talking about how his pursonal doctor was one of them head-shrinker guys, like he was nuts or sumthin. It ain’t funny to be speakin bout His Holynis like that, it don’t show no respect. Yur gonna burn in hell, Cap’n Shitbrain, and all yur famly and the rest of you liberel media shits.”

                                                           Tess Tickles, Deadhorse AK (as in 47)

“Cap’n John, I wrote to you previously (THE USPS…ON THE JOB, LIKE IT OR NOT) to complain about your poor treatment of the great state of Idaho (home of the one and only Grown in Idaho© potato) on your Welcome Aboard The R U Kidding blog, apparently to no effect. Only a disgusting, gross, despicable, degenerate, ugly, rotten, disgusting, repulsive, gross, degenerate low-life weiner-head like you would continue to mash, err, sorry, trash the Potato State, as you did in your post of 1/21 (THINGS YOU NEEDED TO KNOW THAT YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEEDED TO KNOW), and I for one, as a loyal Idahoian, am getting damn sick and tired of being baked, excuse me, raked over the coals by repulsive, disgusting, degenerate, low-life cheeseballs like you. It’s an au graten, dammit, rotten thing to do and you’re a degenerate, gross, sickening, perverted slimewad and your mother dresses you funny.”

                                                             Jack Cheese, Santa ID

“As the President of the National Organization To Assist Lollipop Leaguers (NOTALL), I have been asked by our numerous members to address your seeming lack of regard for those of us who are considered to be “vertically challenged”. You have made several disrespectful comments about “midgets”, including a joke of seriously dubious taste in your post of 1/17 (IS THIS THE PARTY TO WHOM I’M SPEAKING?_CONTINUED_VER 4.0), and by so doing have shown utter contempt for the VC. My six brothers and I will be considering a campaign of boycotts and economic sanctions against you and the WATRUK blog should these demeaning remarks of yours continue. You are sick, disgusting, repulsive, gross, hideous, dirty and disgusting.

                                                              Dr. Forest (Doc) Fire, Pres, NOTALL

“Krissongs, John Cap’n: you’ve been pre-approved for up to $150 gazillion to be used to purchase a…”

Okay, never mind that one.

“My name is I. Dontknow Howe, of the law firm Dewey Cheatem and Howe, and this letter is to inform you that our clients, the Funk and Webster Dictionary and Pizza Parlor Co., Inc. absolutely refuse to pay the totally scandalous sum of one gazillion dollars ($1,000,0000,00,0000000,0,000,00000) for the usage rights to the word you allegedly claim to have “invented”, grandprogeny© (IS THIS THE PARTY TO WHOM I’M SPEAKING?_CHAPTER THREE). Under no circumstances does F&W pay to use words in their publication, and I have been directed by my client to advise you to perform an unnatural act upon yourself with your demand. Have a nice day.”

                                                              I. Dontknow Howe, Atty At Law

“Any more I just can’t wait for Thursday to come around, knowing there’s going to be a new post on the WATRUK blog…I get so excited I just tingle. (Wait, I think I left my vibrator on…oops, yeah, there we go, that’s better.) I really liked how you talked about your “sardonic, mildly sarcastic voice” in your post of 1/3 (LEARNING MY LINES); I once had an acutely exasperated spleen, but never a sardonic, mildly sarcastic voice. That’s totally rad. And FYI, your writing makes me hot.”

                                                               Penny Stocks, Bald Knob VA

And on and on.

And since I don’t believe in segues, thinking them to be over-rated, I’ll just plow forward…one of the questions that I posed in my post of 1/10 (IS HIS THE PARTY TO WHOM I’M SPEAKING?_CHAPTER THREE) that remains unanswered is “Who is John Galt?”…so here we go. Galt was a philosopher, inventor, engineer and track laborer for a railroad who decided to “stop the motor of the world”; he owned a large library of books, including an atlas, and he shrugged frequently.

How was my grammar?

Love and prepositions,

Cap’n John

Post Script…here’s a link to the excellent song by Simon and Garfunkel (no relation to Funk and Websters of which I am aware) A Simple Desultory Philippic…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOvs3rCFI2A