On Sunday I wake, look at my watch and realize I slept later than usual — it’s almost noon.
Then my wife breaks the news. It’s even later than I thought. On account of daylight saving time.
Fucking daylight savings! I hate pushing up the clock. Makes the day go too damn fast.
Sure enough, Sunday’s a blur, racing by like Shani Davis on ice. Next thing you know it’s Monday night and I’m at bowling.
We’re up against Cobra Kai, whose claim to fame is that they rewrote the theme song of the Blasters, another team in the league.
The Blasters say: “I’m a Blaster, you’re a Blaster, we’re all Blasters here, and when we get together, we do the Blaster cheer!”
And the Cobras rewrote that to: “I’m a Blaster, you’re a Blaster, we’re a Blaster all, and when we get together we lick each others balls!”
For that, I think we’ll all agree, they deserves some kind of prize.
In any event, as I start to bowl I notice that three of the Kais — let’s call them Todd, Patrick and Greg — are huddled together, looking at me and whispering.
After I roll my shot, Greg approaches.
“Hey, Benny Jay,” he says, all buttery and sweet. “What time is it?”
I’m thinking what a nice young man. So polite and respectful to his elders.
“It’s 9:15,” I say.
“I’m sorry, but what time did you say it was, Benny Jay?” asks Greg.
I twist my arm so he can see the time on my wristwatch.
Then it hits me!
It’s not 9:15. It’s 10:15. I never moved the time on my watch up an hour.
Oops, busted! That Eddie Haskell motherfucker set me up like a bowling pin. I half expect Ashton Kutcher to show up and say: “Punk’d!”
All they needed was Ashton Kutcher…
The three of them are dying — laughing like it’s the funniest thing since Seinfeld went off the air.
“Oh, I see — it’s make fun of the old guy at bowling,” I say.
They’re still laughing.
“I’m gonna launch an investigation with AARP!”
I swear, they’re rolling on the floor.
Oh, well, no hard feelings. In fact, after bowling, I have a fascinating chat with Todd who offers a detailed explanation about how the on-line pornography industry makes all its money.
Obviously, the fucker’s got more on his mind than the time. If you dig my meaning…
Fast forward to the next morning…
I wake up and look at my watch — 7:30. Too early to get up.
I roll over, then I realize — it’s later than I think.
I still haven’t moved up my watch. I swear, daylight savings is a killer.
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It’s a typical Monday night in the men’s bowling league at Timber…
The lanes are filled with big, beefy, flatulent motherfuckers, braying, cursing, eating greasy pizza, drinking beer and knocking back shots.
In short — a bunch of primordials.
On the jukebox, they’re playing hard rock or rap. With lyrics like…
“All I want for my birthday is a big booty ho…”
“Our brains are on fire with the feeling to kill and it won’t go await until our dreams are fulfilled…”
Cap brings a heaping pile of chicken. The guys don’t bother to eat it off a paper plate. They’re walking around wolfing chicken with unwashed hands still reeking of the bowling alley oil.
Cause that’s how real men roll!
Over the jukebox come oddly melodic sounds. I swear — I hear violins. Then a familiar voice.
“It must have been cold there in my shadow, to never have sunlight on your face…”
The boys pretend they like Metallica, but…
“So I was the one with all the glory, while you were the one with all the strength…”
Then comes the instantly recognizable chorus…
“Did you ever know that you’re my hero, and everything I would like to be? I can fly higher than an eagle, ’cause you are the wind beneath my wings.”
From all over the bowling alley, you hear the sounds of guys groaning, like they can’t stand this song.
“Who put this shit on?”
“Fuck, man — this is bullshit!”
“This fuckin’ sucks…”
“Joe put it on…”
“Hey, Joe — blow me!”
And so on.
But here’s the thing. As the song goes on, I start to notice — a lot of the guys are strangely silent. Like they’re listening. Other guys are quietly singing along, definitely on the down low. Like they don’t want anyone to notice.
I swear to God, Pat the Plumber is hiding in the corner, practically belting it out.
And Nat — who looks a little like Christopher Moltisanti from The Sopranos — is singing along word for word! Come to think about it — Moltisanti would probably love the song. Not that he’d tell Uncle Tony about it.
“Hey, Pat,” I say. “Are you singing with Bette?”
“Pat likes Bette Midler. Pat likes Bette Midler.”
“Suck my balls.”
All in all, I’m glad someone put that song on. It was the highlight of my night, especially the shitty way I’ve been bowling.
Since I heard that song, I can’t get it out of mind. As a matter of fact, I’m hearing it right now.
“I could fly higher than an eagle — ’cause you are the wind beneath my wings.”
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I’m sitting with my mother and my sister watching the tube on a Saturday afternoon, and my sister mentions how much she likes Rachel Maddow. You know, the TV personality on MSNBC.
“Did you see her on the Bill Maher show?” I ask.
“Who’s Bill Maher?” asks my mother.
“A talk show host on PBS,” says my sister.
“He’s not on PBS,” I say.
“Yes, he is,” says my sister.
“He swears too much to be on PBS,” I say.
“They can just bleep him out,” says my sister.
“What are you two talking about?” says my mother.
And so on….
“Bet you lunch at Potbelly’s, he’s not on PBS,” I say.
“Bet,” says my sister.
I know what you’re thinking — why not just look it up on the Internet?
I come from a family of Rachel Maddow fans…
The problem is my mother has no computer and I have no smart phone. My sister does have a smart phone, but it never seems to work. Not sure why.
So, I text my cousin Josh – a big Bill Maher fan.
“He’s on HBO,” Josh texts back.
“See,” I tell my sister.
“Just cause Josh says he’s on HBO doesn’t mean he is,” she says.
Which is technically true — though I’d never admit that to my sister.
So I text my old pal, Thor, who also knows lots of stuff.
“HBO,” Thor texts back. “Why do you ask?”
“My sister thinks he’s on PBS.”
“He’s too profane for PBS.”
As you can see, Thor also has an excellent vocabulary. He’s a real Renaissance guy!
I show my sister’s Thor’s email and declare: “You owe me lunch.”
“No, I don’t…”
“I think I’ll get the veggie sandwich…”
“I didn’t lose…”
“With a cream soda…”
“I’m not paying for it…”
“It’s gonna be so good…”
“I didn’t lose…”
“Yes, you did…”
“No, I didn’t…”
And so on.
Fast forward 24 hours — I’m walking the dog when my sister calls.
“Guess who I’m watching on PBS?” she asks.
“I dunno — Mr. Rodgers?”
“No — Bill Moyers!”
“I told you he was on PBS.”
“Not Bill Moyers – Bill Maher!”
“Do you even know who Bill Maher is?” I ask.
Another pause. “I”m not sure.”
Out of compassion, I release her from the bet. But as I walk on, it hits me…
Is she just playing dumb to get out of the bet? If so, man, that girl is slick.
I tell you — some cheapskates will do anything to avoid picking up a check.
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It’s a snowy Saturday night in Chicago and I’m sitting at home with nothing to do.
I don’t feel like battling the elements to see a flick or even walk to the Redbox. There’re no Netflix discs in the house. Before I break into my collection of vintage movies, I figure I’ll see what’s on the tube.
I don’t have cable — so I start at CBS and work my way through NBC, ABC, WGN and PBS till I’m in the netherworld of obscure local UHF stations that mainly show reruns.
I’m about to give it up for lost, when on Channel 23 — or 23.2, to be exact — I discover…
Yes, the great Pam Grief flick from 1970-something…
“That’s it,” I tell my wife. “We’re watching Foxy Brown!”
I can’t tell you how much I loved Pam Grier back in my glory days of the 1970s, so I won’t even try.
In Foxy Brown, she plays this super-bad chick who poses as a prostitute as she goes after this piece-of-shit mobster who murdered her boyfriend.
The great Pam Grier!
The bad guys have Foxy tied to a bed in a shack somewhere in the desert. My wife says, “this is awful.”
“Don’t worry about Foxy Brown,” I say. “She’s the baddest chick around!”
Sure enough, Foxy cuts herself loose with razor that happens to be on the stand by the bed. Then she douses the bad guys with gasoline, ignites them with a match, and runs out of the shack just before it blows up.
Just like she did the first time I saw the movie at the Howard theater back in 1970-whatever.
But, wait, it gets even better.
When Foxy ends, on comes Coffy. That’s right — it’s a Pam Grier double feature!
How come no one told me? I could have thrown a party.
Coffy is even better than Foxy Brown — well, actually, that’s a debatable subject.
In Coffy, she plays a nurse who avenges her little sister who got strung out on drugs dealt by these evil motherfuckers.
The only problem is that there’s a ton of commercials. But it’s free TV on a Saturday night, so I really can’t complain.
The movie ends with Coffy — having successfully avenged her sister — walking along the beach as the sun rises. And this super cool Roy Ayers song is playing.
For a moment I have a stab of nostalgia cause I’m not 17 anymore. But the nostalgia passes cause, to tell you the truth, 17 wasn’t all that great when it was actually going on. If you know what I mean.
I love Pam Grier — as much as ever!
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As The Third City’s film critic — hey, someone’s got to do the job — it’s time I weigh in on this year’s Oscars. Just in time for Sunday’s Academy Awards.
So here goes…
Best Actor: Oscar Isaac — he’s even got the appropriate first name – for his inspired performance in Inside Llewyn Davis. Not only did Oscar brilliantly play a tormented soul on the edge of a break down, but he sang and played the guitar.
What? He wasn’t nominated. Shit — that’s an outrage!
It’s cause of the backlash over the scene where Llewyn abandons this cat in a car, I tell you. Cat lovers – led by my sister — have been hating on the movie ever since.
Best Supporting Actor: Duh. John Goodman, also from Inside Llewyn Davis. His performance as the trash-talking, jazzman junkie who torments the already tormented Mr. Davis on that long car ride from New York City to Chicago will be talked about for years.
Hold it. He wasn’t nominated either? Damn, I’m telling you — these cat lovers don’t play.
John Goodman got snubbed…
All right, forget the acting roles. Let’s get to best song. Give it to Please Mr. Kennedy, also from Inside Llewyn Davis. It hilariously sends up of `60s folks songs. It even features Justin Timberlake. Everybody loves Justin. Right?
What! Please Mr. Kennedy didn’t get nominated? Let this be a lesson, people – never mess with the cat lovers. Those fuckers have more juice than Justin Timberlake!
Best Script: No brainer! Give it to my boys, the Coen brothers, who wrote and directed Inside Llewyn Davis. Their dialogue’s funny, sad and subversively revealing.
In fact, the line that Bud Grossman (played by F. Murray Abraham) delivers after Llewyn’s audition is perhaps the greatest line of the year.
Oh, no! They didn’t get nominated for the script.
You know, I’m starting to think my cousin Robert might have had something to do with this shit. He’s been hating the Coen brothers for years. And it’s got nothing to do with cats. I think they had a falling out in Hebrew school. But don’t quote me.
All in all, Llewyn Davis only got nominated for two Oscars — sound mixing and cinematography. That’s cousin Robert and the cat lovers’ way of saying – fuck you, Coen brothers!
I knew the cat people had clout. But who knew cousin Robert carried so much water in Hollywood.
To commemorate the life and work of Harold Ramis, I think I’ll watch Animal House. For the 497th time.
Great flick — as hilarious today as it was 30-something ago, when Ramis wrote it.
C’mon, everyone — let’s recite our favorite line…
“Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go though life, son.”
As we all know, that’s what Dean Wormer told Kent “Flounder” Dorfman in regards to his 0.2 GPA. It’s a line that’s been appropriated one way or another ever since.
I’ll also have to re-watch Caddyshack – which Ramis wrote and directed – thus igniting the eternal debate…
Who’s funnier in Caddyshack — Bill Murray or Rodney Dangerfield?
Oh, man, tough question.
Harold Ramis — 1944-2014…
On the one hand, Murray’s got that immortal riff about caddying for the Dalai Lama. Oh, fuck it — let’s quote the whole thing.
“So we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, `Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.’ And he says, `Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.’ So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”
President Obama quoted the “total consciousness” line in his remarks honoring Ramis.
But, prez, you left out ”So I got that going for me — which is nice.”
That’s like — the best part of the quote.
On the other hand, Rodney said stuff like — “the last time I saw a mouth like that, it had a hook in it.”
I wish the president had quoted that one in his tribute.
Speaking of Rodney, I’ll definitely have to re-watch Back to School. Okay, Ramis didn’t direct it. But he was one of its writers and producers. So you have to give him credit for giving Dangerfield a vehicle to strut his stuff.
Dangerfield plays Thornton Melon, a sleazy businessman who goes to college late in life. Indifferent to his studies, Thornton hires Kurt Vonnegut to write his English paper. On which he gets a F.
Murray or Dangerfield — let the debate continue…
So Rodney calls Vonnegut to tell him he’s stopping payment on the check. And Vonnegut says “fuck you.” And Rodney says…
“Fuck me? Hey, Kurt, can you read lips — `fuck you!’ Next time I’ll call Robert Ludlum.”
Robert Ludlum? Genius, man — genius!
I’m definitely re-watching Ice Harvest – a dark comedy in which John Cusack plays a con man who’s so delusionally stupid he thinks he can get away with stealing $2 million from the mob.
It never got the credit it deserved.
Then there’s Analyze This and Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day and Vacation — well, you know the list.
The thing is – Harold Ramis was one of those guys who gave the world a lot more than he took.
I’ll be laughing at his movies for years. So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.
Thanks for everything, Mr. Ramis.
It’s girls night out, which means my wife and friends went out to eat.
But while the cat’s away, I get to watch a war movie. In this case, Where Eagles Dare, a super hokey 1968 flick starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood.
Not sure why I ordered it. It made sense at the time.
It’s about this elite squad of highly trained commandos, including a voluptuous blonde seductress, who parachute into Germany in the middle of WW II.
They proceed to sneak into a castle fortress – that’s guarded by tons of Nazis – kill a bunch of generals, steal the names of almost every secret agent the Germans have working in England and then blast their way out of the fortress and back to safety.
In the process, killing hundreds of Germans. Clinton Eastwood alone must have killed at least 200.
Where Eagles Dare may be the world’s dumbest flick….
And it’s not like the Germans aren’t fighting back. They fired hundreds of shots and throw dozens of grenades without killing anyone. Except maybe each other.
Leading me to wonder…
How could such bad shooters conquered Europe?
No matter. All is not lost. The movie gives me a new round of ammunition, so to speak, for one of my favorite games — Torture the Dog.
That’s where I get back at the Nicky the dog for torturing me. Like when we’re on a walk and she spends five minutes sniffing one bush.
In this case, I tell Nicky…
“Okay, I’m the voluptuous German waitress, who’s really a spy for the Brits.”
Nicky looks at me as if to say — oh, shit.
“You are the unwitting Gestapo agent who I have lured to my bedroom.”
Nicky runs under the bed.
I play the voluptuous bar maid in the Bavarian blouse….
“Komin here, my Bavarian strudel,” I say, in something approximating a German accent.
I pull her out from under the bed.
“Such a magnificent specimen,” I tell her. “I am hot for your lips.”
I pull her close for a kiss. But instead of kissing her I make-believe stab her in the neck with my make-believe dagger that I’ve pulled from my make-believe cleavage that’s make-believe bulging out of my make-believe Bavarian peasant blouse.
“AAAhee,” I say. Which is an approximation of what a Nazi in the movie said when a knife was plunged into his neck.
Technically, it’s supposed to be the dog’s line. But she can’t speak, so I have to do her lines, too.
“Take that – you Nazi bastard!”
At that point, Nicky the dog runs from the room.
I run after her just as my wife returns from her night out.
“Hi,” she says. “How was your night?”
“Okay,” I say.
“What did you do?”
I give the dog a look. She’s settled on the floor already asleep.
Thank goodness she can’t talk.