August 29, 2009

Blood Is Thicker Than Water

From AOL News: Relatives Charged With Stealing From Dying Eveyln Roth, Who Lived

When Evelyn Roth was put in a nursing home following surgery for a cancerous growth on her oesophagus, she signed over power of attorney to two of her relatives: Kathleen Jingling and Virginia Kuehn. Jingling and Kuehn were assured by Roth's doctor that the elderly woman was "guaranteed" to die, so they promptly sold off all her stuff and went on a spree of writing large checks to each other from Roth's bank account.

Then Roth pulled through, and now she's charging her two relatives on 35 counts of felony, including first-degree criminal mistreatment and first-degree theft.


Anyway, this is clearly a fascinating and emotional story, so it's no surprise that the folks in Hollywood have already announced plans for a movie adaptation, starring Paul Giamatti as Kathleen Jingling and Wallace Shawn as Virginia Kuehn — which, I think you'll agree, is an inspired piece of casting:


Edit: And this guy will be played by Thumb Man.

August 28, 2009

August 27, 2009

Mervyn Stutter, Eat Your Heart Out, Pt. 2

Incidentally, I met Mervyn Stutter last night and found him extremely charming, and sincerely hope that he doesn't attempt to eat his own heart out any time soon.

Anyway, as is my habit going into the final weekend of the Fringe, I thought I'd recommend a few last shows for anyone in town (in addition to my already standing recommendations from a few weeks ago).

1. Controlled Falling Project (Underbelly, 15:50). I just can't tell you how fantastic this dance/acrobatics/physical comedy show was. The performers are great, the set design is great, the music is really great, and even the fairly corny premise was pulled off with charm and consummate professionalism. Totally engrossing, five out of five pundigrions, and definitely my favourite show of this year's Fringe.

2. God: A Play by Woody Allen (Pleasance Dome, 12:35). I read this play way back in high school and loved it, and was so flabbergasted to see it crop up in the Fringe program this year that I shelled out actual MONEY for a ticket. It's Allen at his finest — an hour filled with puns, self-referential jokes, wry observations about well-to-do New Yorkers and academics, and, of course, some light-hearted theological debate. It's a student production and very low-budget, but that, if anything, adds to its not inconsiderable appeal. The performers really go for it to compensate for the total lack of set, and the guy who plays Woody Allen is worth the price of admission alone. Four pundigrions.

3. Axis of Awesome (Gilded Balloon, 21:15). Australian musical trio in a vaguely Tenacious D-ish, rock comedy vein. They're very personable and good musicians to boot, and while I haven't seen their whole show, what material I have seen (both live and on t'internet) has been strong and consistent. Four pundigrions.

And now, to work. Perhaps I can get some more tickets thrown angrily in my face today. The joys of management.

August 26, 2009

Thought For The Day

I am less likely to give money to a panhandler with a "Please help" sign that has been printed on a computer and then laminated.

August 25, 2009

Won't Someone Please Think of the Horses!

Apparently the road safety chaps here in Britain are tired of trying to prevent the several thousand deaths from dr(i/u)*nk driving each year, and have taken some time and money off to tackle the real killer on British roads: HORSES.

Even in 2009, sometimes life in Britain still feels like an episode of the Archers.

*Depending where you live.

August 24, 2009

Speaking of Recycling Jokes...

I propose to turn this post into a list of all the movies/sitcoms that have used variations on the following (bad) joke:
PREGNANT WOMAN: My water broke!

HILARIOUSLY CLUELESS MAN: Don't worry, we'll get you another one.
This endeavour was conceived while watching Fresh Prince over lunch, so we'll go ahead and start with that one. But off the top of my head I can also (I'm ashamed to admit) add the Hugh Grant/Julianne Moore/Jeff Goldblum megahit Nine Months. IMDB also helpfully informs that Tina Fey's 2008 disappointment Baby Mama replaces HILARIOUSLY CLUELESS MAN with HILARIOUSLY CLUELESS WOMAN in what is essentially the same gag:
KATE: Your water broke!

[ANGIE looks at her cup, confused]
I'm sure I've seen it elsewhere, too, though — Friends? Home Improvement? Knocked Up? Help me out! Leave other sightings in the comments and I'll update the list accordingly. I bet we can get up to at least ten in no time at all...
1. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air ("A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum")

2. Nine Months

3. Baby Mama
Don't let me down, internets.

August 21, 2009

Doesn't Anyone Know How To Use A Dictionary Anymore?

From 35 Truisms That Couldn't be Truer

Never mind the triteness of these observations that "just hit the mark" ("What would happen if I hired two private investigators to follow each other?"), none of them are $#^^!!! truisms!

Note to internet: a truism ≠ a truth. Grow a brain.

August 20, 2009

...And One More Time

Conversation at the box office yesterday:

SECURITY: There's a woman out here who'd like to make a complaint to the manager.

ME: Can you ask her to approach the window?

SECURITY: She doesn't want to approach the window. She wants you to come outside.

ME: Okay...


ME: Hello, madam. How can I help?

WOMAN: Oh. You're the manager?

ME: I'm the box office manager, yes.

WOMAN: Well, I need to complain to someone else then. It's about you.

ME: Okay...

So at that point I went and found the venue's general manager and left the woman in his capable hands, and returned to the box office to wait, uneasily, for his report. Apparently, the problem was that when I'd served this woman half an hour earlier, my disposition had not been sunny enough for her liking.

Now, look.

I know one of the key tenets of any customer service job is to maintain a sunny disposition no matter what. But lady, try and see things from my point of view: there's a line fifty people long behind you that I have to clear, I haven't had a day off in twenty-nine days straight, and furthermore I have a horrific hangover because when I came into work to see a show yesterday on what was supposed to be my morning off, that show cancelled right as I arrived and I had to spend two hours helping to give refunds to the 200+ angry people who'd bought tickets — so come the end of the day, I had needed a few drinks to unwind.

So I'm sorry I wasn't as smiling or communicative as you think I should have been. I really am. I wish I had the mental fortitude and emotional patience to be able to maintain a minimum level of friendliness to every customer, even when (as was the case with you) the first thing they say to me upon approaching the counter is that the queuing system is poorly organised. I would also like to point out that I've had thirty-seven-minute arguments with other customers without once raising my voice, and every day this month I've dealt with blowhard, egotistical journalists with kindness and courtesy even when, really, I've wanted to tell them to fuck off and die. I even had a customer buy me a drink the other night because I'd done them such a good turn. So hey, on balance, my customer service really ain't all that bad.

But, okay, I still won't try to pretend I'm perfect, and I'll even admit I could have been a little friendlier with you, and once again I'll apologise for that. However, I would also like to suggest that if you started treating service employees with the same amount of respect and decency you give your friends, instead of telling on us to our superiors and making us feel like tiny, inadequate failures — if you had a little compassion, for God's sake! — then you'd probably get that smile that's so important to you, ten times out of ten. We're people, too.

Just a thought, you know?

August 19, 2009

So, One For "Show"?

Conversation at the box office yesterday:

CUSTOMER: What time is The Late Show on?

STAFF: It's at quarter to one in the morning.

CUSTOMER: Oh, gosh. That's quite late. Is there an earlier showing?

STAFF: Um...

August 15, 2009

Doing It By The Book

I hereby pronounce 2009 the year of baffling and unnecessary book-to-film adaptations.

Exhibit A, of course, is this month's The Time Travel(l)er's Wife, a juggernaut of schmaltzery, if the trailer is anything to go by, adapted from Audrey Niffenegger's 2003 best seller. The book's charm (and don't get me wrong, it is charming) lay in its taking a premise that, if we're being honest, is a little hokey — and then developing that premise into a hefty doorstop of a novel with intelligence, restraint, and emotional complexity. Somehow I doubt that much more than the hokiness made it into the 107-minute movie — though I suppose stranger things starring Rachel McAdams have happened.

Speaking of Rachel McAdams, let's talk about Exhibit B: Sherlock Holmes. As near as I can tell from the trailer, McAdams's role in this movie is a corset-wearing assassin of some sort (from the well-known Conan Doyle story Sherlock Holmes and the Corset-Wearing Assassin), while Holmes and Watson are given "dynamic" new life by Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, respectively. In all fairness, this ain't exactly an adaptation of any particular Holmes story — it's more like a slapstick buddy action comedy that has had Holmes shoehorned into it. Indeed, if I were the cynical type, I'd suggest that this most recent Holmes film started life as a draft of Lethal Weapon 5, which the studio then decided to re-work after Mel Gibson went completely fucking nuts.

In Exhibit C we see another kooky premise that was pulled off in prose but can surely only suffer in its Hollywoodisation: The Lovely Bones, in which our narrator is a fourteen-year-old girl who was brutally raped and murdered and now, in ghost form, watches over her family. In this movie, relative newcomer Saoirse Ronan reprises the role of Patrick Swayze while Demi Moore is played by Mark Wahlberg, and in between all that director Peter Jackson shows us a heaven that looks suspiciously like Middle Earth.

Then there are exhibits D, E and F — The Road, Alice In Wonderland, and Where The Wild Things Are — of which only the latter I can even begin to get excited about. But what really got me started on this rant to begin with is Exhibit G: Dorian Gray.

I'm not altogether convinced that adapting The Picture of Dorian Gray for the screen is an awful idea (though I do wonder how they've handled that thirty page chapter in the middle that describes in great detail all the nice fabrics he owns) — but certainly it didn't need the same treatment that poor Conan Doyle got and, alas!, this is not your grandmother's Dorian Gray: this is Dorian Gray the action-horror movie. Admittedly the horror comes mostly from Colin Firth's facial hair, but still, I'm fairly sure the phrase "I could tell you but I'd have to kill you" isn't a Wilde original. Oh well.

Yeah, Saturday night!

August 14, 2009

Conversations With Greatness . . .

. . . is taking its annual two weeks off, and will return on August 28th.

In the meantime, if you need a fix of socialism, I suggest you consult Obama's healthcare plan. Apparently.

August 13, 2009

More from the Annals of Spam

Spam is sickened by linguistics!
vomitory Want to get huge for girls? linguistics
Spam wishes to be very clear!
You'll function well: as a man!
Also, while we're on the topic of sex...

One of the shows at Underbelly this year stars U.K. "porn legend" Ben Dover (that's his porn name, though his real name, "S. Lindsey Honey", doesn't sound any less made up). Mr Dover has his own range of branded merchandise which we're selling in the box office, and his producer has been pretty persistent about trying to get it prominently displayed.

Anyway, the other day he brought in a particularly huge wall rack that he wanted to hang behind our counter, which I flatly refused to let him do, and after trying a variety of tactics to persuade me, he rounded off with a wink and a nudge and a promise that if I relented he would, quote, see about getting me a day on set.


So, needless to say, the upshot is that you should all expect a detailed account of pundigrions goes porno later this month. Sorry Mallory.

August 11, 2009

David vs Goliath

...or, "Why Major League Soccer Is The Saddest Sport In The World"

From Newsvine: Real Madrid pulls away in 2nd, tops DC United 3-0
The inevitable breakdown occurred in the second half, when Gonzalo Higuain shredded United's defense for two goals in a two-minute span, leading the Spanish powerhouse to a 3-0 victory . . .

Real defeated Toronto FC 5-1 on Friday. . . .
So, I mean, 3-0 isn't too bad, right?
Had it not been for Wicks, the final score would have been much uglier. Real outshot United 19-4, including 10-2 in shots on goal.
"You never know when you're going play them again, so make sure you have your best game," said [D.C. United keeper Josh] Wicks, whose $42,000 MLS salary would be pocket change for Real.
Okay, so they're hopelessly outclassed and very much below the professional soccer poverty line, but at least they have their fans, right?
United's usual home, RFK Stadium, couldn't hold all the U.S.-based Real fans who wanted to come . . .

"The crowd actually gave me more confidence," Wicks said. "You sure don't want to mess up in front of 70,000. One or two hundred is OK to mess up on, but 70,000 — you don't want to do that."
For the love of God, please just stop talking now.
"We tried our best. Sometimes you're just a little outmatched," United midfielder Ben Olsen said. "It was hot. They were a little sluggish in the first half."
Why do the MLS keep setting up these games? It's like watching an injured kitten try to knock down Magic Johnson.

August 10, 2009

Are We Going Too Quickly For You?

From The Annals of Pointless Research (aka AOL Personals): Female Body Type Men Most Prefer

Get ready to be shocked.
Who's hot and who's not? Men find thin, seductive women to be the most attractive, according to a study from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
That's right, folks: men are more likely to want to have sex with seductive women.

A pretty groundbreaking finding, I think we can all agree — but what does it MEAN?
What it means: If the majority of men prefer thin women, then this may explain why so many women feel pressured to conform to a certain look.
For instance, most women will probably try to avoid looking as circular as this article's reasoning. Seductive women are more seductive so women feel pressured to look more seductive. What?


August 08, 2009

Mervyn Stutter, Eat Your Heart Out

Now that the Fringe has officially started, here are a few of my picks to get you on your way:

1. Barry & Stuart: Powered By Demons. Sell-out darlings of last year's Underbelly line-up, this duo of affable, impish Scottish magicians are back again this year with twice as many seats to sell — and that will be the least impressive thing you see them do, trust me. I missed their show last time round but caught one of their previews this year, and it was really just astonishingly good: there's a nice mixture of playful humour and gruesome spectacle, a great rapport between both the performers and the audience, and a hypnotism bit that completely blew me away. I cannot recommend them highly enough. Five pundigrions.

2. Woody Sez. I saw this mixture of dramatic monologue and folk music at the company's last Edinburgh date two years ago, and had this to say:
Superb. The action is well-paced; "Woody" has that warm, affable charm that only baby boomer Southerners can really pull off; and the music — all performed live by four musicians on about twelve different instruments — is pure jubilance. that, I have nothing else to add. Five pundigrions.

3. Silent Disco. Even as someone who hates clubbing and dancing in all their forms (except the Brazilian fighting kind, obviously), I hold a special place in my heart for the experience of Silent Disco. If you haven't heard of it before, the deal is that you go to a "club", but instead of giant speakers the DJs feed music into wireless headphones, so the room itself is silent but for the shuffling of feet against the floor. It's fantastically atmospheric, and this year is being held in the grand, frescoed interior of Macewan Hall, which is worth seeing all by itself. Five pundigrions.

August 07, 2009

August 05, 2009

Obscure Metaphor of the Week

From Newsvine: How did Meryl Streep become Will Smith?

(Not going to even attempt to tackle that headline.)
Streep’s rise to box office dominion is unlikely, to say the least: For one thing, she’s a woman over 35, a class of people for whom Hollywood shows all the respect that the Tennessee Valley Authority has for the snail darter.
Um... I agree?

August 04, 2009

Hit Parade

From Newsvine: Sources: Michael Douglas' son in NYC drug arrest

Wait, wasn't that Traffic?

From Newsvine: Craig Ferguson says flying makes him an honest man
The host of CBS' "Late Late Show" says that getting ahead in entertainment means claiming to be able to do anything that's asked.
e.g. Can you make Kilborn look relatively competent?

Finally, from Newsvine: Judge won't order Brawny to stop using pattern
COLUMBUS — A federal judge has refused a request from the maker of Bounty paper towels to order rival Brawny to stop using a so-called "bowtie" embossing pattern.
The judge told the plaintiffs to stop crying over how to wipe up spilt milk.


August 01, 2009

File This One Under "Timeless Questions"

Seen on

I'll take door number three.