Thursday, May 27, 2010

7 Sentences You Never Want To Hear

-Can we talk?

-The test is positive.

-Why was there a dead hooker in your hotel room?

-Oh, look -- Red Box has When in Rome.

-Can I see your license and registration, sir?

-Don't worry about Kurt Warner retiring, you'll be fine with Matt Leinart.

-Your princess is in another castle.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dogs Look Too Much Like Coyotes

My biggest problem with the amazing Wild West cowboy game Red Dead Redemption is it's too tough to know whom to kill. Early in the game there's a mission that rewards you for capping as many coyotes as possible in order to stop them from eating all the chickens or whatever. When you shoot them the game gets all happy and congratulates you and you feel like the son John Wayne and Clint Eastwood might have had together.

So I was riding around a town last night and thought I saw a coyote, so I thought I'd do the right thing and shotgun its head off. I did so, surprised that the coyote hadn't tried to make a break for it, then was chastised by the game for killing a regular dog and told that I had lost 50 honor. I think the last time I lost that much honor is when I peed my pants in second grade.

Also, I ran into a similar situation when I encountered two men bickering over a treasure map. The game told me to protect the treasure hunter, so I assumed the non-treasure hunter was the guy in the black hat, being that such a hat color usually indicates malfeasance in this genre. I headshotted him and the other guy started running off with the treasure map rather than ambling over and thanking me for saving his life. So of course I had to kill him and take that treasure map, which I could make heads nor tails of because it was apparently written in crayon, with obtuse symbology that I'll have to either decipher or not at some point later on.

So basically I just go around killing whatever for no apparent reason, just as I do in all video games. God will sort 'em out I guess.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sex and the City 2 Review

This is posted over at OK Magazine:

It's not often a horror film reaches into the depths of my soul, grabs
my heart and shatters it into a billion terrified pieces, and rarer
still that a sequel manages the trick. But Sex and the City 2 managed
to do just that, proving that Michael Patrick King, that baron of the
grim and terrifying, didn't blow all his tricks in the 2008 horror

Allow me to paint a scene: a middle-aged man, minding his own
business, reading the newspaper on the couch, is terrorized by the
shrill banshee (Sarah Jessica Parker) with whom he swore a blood oath
with to save his own life at the end of the first movie. She
unreasonably demands he take his feet off the sofa. He flees to the
bedroom in another scene and turns on the TV. With a preternatural
ability to stalk him and cause further misery, she storms in and
demands he turn it off. The man bargains with the banshee for some
time apart, and his wish is granted only when the beast teams up with
three kindred dark souls in order to regroup in the Middle East to
plan further exploits.

From there the scene shifts to a house of horrors in which none other
than Liza Minnelli -- the Boris Karloff of our era -- unleashes a
grotesque performance of Single Ladies that puts Michael Jackson's
Thriller to shame. If you get to that early point in the movie and are
too terrified to proceed, I'll understand. I only stuck around because
I was too afraid to move.

I applaud the job of the makeup department for truly crafting some
terrifying monstrosities. Parker is a dead-on replica of the Wicked
Witch of the West. Cynthia Nixon resembles Richard Nixon's re-animated
corpse and Kim Cattrall is a ringer for Swamp Thing in a yellow wig.
It's understandable that the effects wizards had little left to ugly
up Kristin Davis, given the extensive resources put into the other

Most horror films try to get you with shock value, loud scores and
copious gore. But not Sex and the City 2, which grinds away your
suspension of disbelief and confronts you with the prospect of endless
mental torture. Throughout the 146-minute running time the monsters
top one another with dreadful puns, revolting sexual innuendo and
strained catch-phrase inventions, such as "interfriendtion." At one
point, Swamp Thing is on an airplane and grabs a date off a plate.
There's an infinitesimal pause as you cringe, wondering if she'll
actually say what she thinks she's about to say, and then, yes, she
remarks that she just left and "already has got a date," prompting her
evil companions into a hideous cackle. You stare at your watch: still
90 minutes to go.

Many horror films lose their punch when they cross the seas, losing
their cultural relevance, but because this film is centered around a
journey to Abu Dhabi I can only imagine the film would be even scarier
in the Middle East. Assuming the role of ugly, xenophobic Americans to
horrific perfection, they mercilessly mock the fundamentalist culture
surrounding them and try to apply their vapid worldviews and
sensibilities to the foreign culture. At one point the antagonists
gather for a tortured karaoke performance of I Am Woman, which threw
me into shock and very nearly caused me to soil myself.

Only the brave and stout will dare take this movie on. Beware, for you
will emerge changed. Your soul blackened, your hairline receded, your
eyes wilted in defeat and part of your heart forever dead. Bravo,
Michael Patrick King, you have made me afraid not only of your
characters, but of the entire world for spawning such a chilling

Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis and Kim Cattrall. Written
by Michael Patrick King, based on characters from the book by Candace
Bushnell. Directed by King. 146 minutes. Rated R.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rooting For Failure

It's much more gratifying to root for the failure of things and people than success. Especially secretly. Maybe this is why I hate Arizona State even more than I love Arizona, as well as despise the Cowboys more than I adore the Cardinals and 49ers. I think the reason is life is a string of failures peppered with occasional victories, so when someone or something you don't like that much breaks through and does well, it makes you feel inadequate. Better to see them fail and give your misery company.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Terms No One Is Ever Allowed To Use Again

FML -- It's not only overused but overexagerated. That the check-out line at Wal-Mart is long or you have to work late today is not a justification to F your entire L.

Le sigh -- I get it, you're frustrated with something, but and you want to come across as vague and semi-cultured. Find a way to express your disappointment that doesn't employ cliché Frenglish. Go for a Jane Austen quote instead.

Stat -- You need something fast, sure, but you want to be a little creative so you pretend like you're on season 1 of ER and pull out the ol' "stat." Stop using it stat.

Said -- Referring to something you mentioned a sentence or a paragraph ago, you make with the lawyer speak and refer to said subject with a device that got old shortly after Mallrats introduced it 15 years ago.

Awesome -- I am guilty of awesome kill more than anyone. The word has been sapped of all meaning over the years, has no punch either as an adjective to praise or ironically denigrate something and now only means that something exists. What's that? You're going to continue calling everything awesome? Awesome.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Idiots And Movies

Some people are offended by gratuitous sex and violence in movies. I'm offended by those people, who apparently lack the cognitive ability to separate images on a screen from real life.

These people are as stupid as those crowds in the 1920s who ducked when they saw a train coming at them onscreen. If you can't separate reality from movies you shouldn't be allowed to watch them.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Quail Hunters Are Losers

Sometimes I hear from people all proud of themselves that they went out and shot some quail in the face. They are tiny, adorable and innocent, and the little quail babies follow the parents as they roam around. Why you gotta mess that up?

I totally understand wanting to pull out a nine to bust a cap in a javelina or coyote, because they're disgusting, imposing and generally evil. But really, people? Quail? How much meat are you getting that wasn't destroyed by the bullet?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Wish I Knew How To Make Videos

There needs to be a parody video of Cobra Starships' "Good Girls Go Bad" starring Jesus as he goes clubbing and saves the souls of bad girls, replacing slutty clothes with coveralls and separating grinding dancers as he's waving and winking all the while.

The lyrics, of course, will be changed to "I make those bad girls go good." This needs to happen so bad that I need to just put the idea out there, hoping someone else will take it and run with it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

One Wedding And The Opposite Of A Funeral

I stepped out of a wedding reception for an hour to do this interview with Michael Finney, host of Consumer Talk on 810 AM in San Francisco.

The best result the interview yielded is it brought my book's Amazon ranking back from the dead, lifting it from No. 550,000 to 64,000. Shut up. To me that's a high ranking because my book had been obeying Tom Petty's advice in the song Free Falling for far too long. If I can just keep getting that show to have me on every day, I'll be kicking down Dan Brown's Amazon ranking doorstep before long.

If any of you who are reading this happen to be San Francisco talk show hosts, hook a brotha up.

Oh, and the second best thing about that interview was it got me out of a wedding for an hour. Weddings aren't my favorite things, so when I went from being at one to talking about myself on the radio that was a reversal akin to the kind Mr. Miyagi pulled on members of the Cobra Kai when they attacked him in skeleton outfits.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Most Effective Way To Insult One's Masculinity

If you want to insult someone without insulting them, open a door for them. If someone is devious enough to try to open a door for you, turn it around on them by saying "after you, please. I insist." This could turn into a standoff if they insist back that you enter first. This is when you're authorized to pretend you forgot something in your car.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Serendipity's Guide To Saving

Reviews the book here.

Places I Will Never Visit Because I'm Afraid Of Stereotypes I've Seen On Movies And TV News

1. Africa. Huge mosquitoes, hundreds of types of animals that can kill you, civil wars in several countries, widespread AIDS.

2. Latin America including Mexico. Political unrest, drug traders with machine gun-toting enforcers, unstable governments that change at a moment's notice.

3. Eastern Europe and Russia. Wealthy sadists who lure you into torture porn traps, cold weather, backward communist block accommodations.

4. Non-Japan Asia. Brokedown Palace-style drug smugglers who get you undeservedly thrown in the grossest prisons ever, the fact that noodles are a part of nearly every meal (I'm not a noodle guy), terrifyingly controlling governments that will get you caned for spitting on the street.

5. Antarctica. So cold even the penguins sometimes die, mean polar bears.

So yeah, I'd pretty much only visit western Europe, Japan, Australia and Canada.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Two T-Shirt Ideas

I have two amazing t-shirt ideas that need to be released into the world so they can blossom and make me billions.

The first is one with a sea anemone x-ed out with a Ghostbusters sign. It will read "THE ENEMY OF MY ANEMONE IS MY FRIEND."

And the other says "SUPPORT OUR KOOPA TROOPAS."

If anyone knows how to get t-shirts made and sold without having to spend money, let me know. If you decide to steal these ideas, all the better, because I will wait for you to do all the work, make every bit of money possible from them, then come in and sue you and take all that money for myself at the end.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Really, Tiger Woods? You Needed A 'Long Time Swing Coach?'

Tiger, Tiger, Tiger. Interesting how your neck injury only acts up when you're getting dominated on the course and feel the need to quit like I did when I was 5 and losing a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos.

And what's this about you having a long time swing coach? You seriously need someone to tweet a whistle and make you do suicides, windsprints and push ups to teach you how to do something you've been doing since you were 3? Did he give you motivational Win One for the Gipper speeches? Did he teach you that if you can swing a wrench you can swing a golf club? How did this work?

In other news, Will Ferrell must play a swing coach in his next movie.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Beached Whales

I have solved the mystery of why it is whales choose to beach themselves. They catch killer, once-in-a-lifetime waves that I sometimes find on my boogie board, and they just ride those suckers on home. When they approach the shore they think "Man, I should totally just stop and bail right now, but I wanna see how far this tubular ride takes me."

By the time their wiser nature takes over and they stop living in the moment, it's too late and people are futilely tossing buckets of water on them while they wait for the equipment to shove them back into the blue.

So yeah, it's either that or suicide.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Movie Review: Babies

(This is also up at You know the feeling. You ask a coworker with genuine interest if she’s got any pictures of her newborn. She giddily pulls out her phone and shows you picture after picture after picture after picture.

After a few minutes she’s in her own world, and you are but a defenseless captive as she obliviously proceeds to sort through roughly 10 million photos of her little bambino, supplementing each insufferable snapshot with an uninteresting story.

In other words: Hell. Such is the at-first-charming but gradually infuriating French documentary Babies. Dialogue-free, the movie was originally released in France, where it was known as Le Awwwwwww.

The “aws” turn to “arghs” roughly at the halfway point, when you’ve had more than your fill rotating among among infants from Mongolia, Namibia, San Francisco and Tokyo. They drool, squeak, pee, slap and cry, convincing you of the urgency of birth control with primal force.

An anthropologist might find it fascinating to sort through the various nurturing rituals from around the world. Either that or the anthropologist would cringe from the blatant stereotyping. The Namibian baby spends most of his life rolling around in the dirt, the Mongolian baby dodges cows, the San Francisco baby gets new-agey-overcoached into early mental complexes and the Tokyo baby is terrorized by Godzilla.

Well, everything but that last part is true.

This is the point in the review when you might go “Right, Phil. That movie looked stupid to begin with, so enough with the overkill and where the hell is my Iron Man 2 review?”

And my answer to that is “C’mon, yo! It’s freakin’ Iron Man 2. You already either have your tickets pre-ordered or the move pre-pirated on your computer, so you don’t need me to give you the yay or nay on such an automatic blockbuster.” But the real answer is I would have loved to have reviewed Iron Man 2.

Hell, I’d rather have reviewed Catwoman 2 than Babies. But there inexplicably was no Iron Man 2 screening in Tucson, yet there was one of Babies. Which brings to mind my favorite quote from the movie: “Waaaaah!”

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Sorry, Tecmo Bowl Throwback Fans -- No Update Coming After All

Awful news from Tecmo: That title update the Tecmo Bowl Throwback publisher promised last week isn't going to happen. I got a note from a Tecmo PR rep claiming there's no problem with rage quitters getting off without penalty while those they quit on get no credit for a forfeit.

From Tecmo:

As for the title update, our producers have been looking into the quitting issue with wins and losses not showing on player records, and it looks like the system is working properly but it takes some time for the records to update. They will continue monitoring the records system for issues, but there is not a title update planned at this time.

I don't know what the producers are looking into, but they're wrong. I feel like Charlie Brown having Lucy pull the football away. This makes the online play worthless.

Tractor Boy

Luke is big into improv. He likes to cast me and himself as teammates in various ventures such as farming, war, racing and dragon/dinosaure/robot killing. He tends to make himself the man and me the boy. For instance, when he is Tractor Man, I am Tractor Boy. When he is Batman I am Robin. When is Good Army Man, I am Good Army Boy (we fight The Bad Army). And often we are the Bad Army, battling that uppity Good Army.

These games are quite informative, as he interprets my parenting style and discipline and inflicts his version of them on me. For instance, this morning I tried to turn on the tractor (an ottoman) by turning the imaginary key.

"No, Tractor Boy," he said sternly. "That's too dangerous. Don't you touch that or you can't watch a show later."

Sometimes he offers subtle hints of how he'd like to be treated when the situations are reversed. He calls himself The Maker and starts messing around with the effeminate play kitchen Jessica insisted on buying him at a garage sale. Then he says "Boy, here's some ice cream."

"Don't I have to eat my dinner first?" I ask.

"No, that's OK. That's your rule. My own rule is you eat ice cream."

That is one of the few benefits of being the boy. Mostly I am condescended to, sheltered and forced to wait there idly as Luke accomplishes his tasks. Yesterday I was so bold as to get up and go to the bathroom.

"Did I say you could leave?" Luke shouted.

Such is life as Tractor Boy.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

TV Shows Everyone In The World Should Be Required To Watch

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - Just funny for the first couple seasons, then it suddenly gets perfect in season 3 and gets doubly better every nanosecond since. This is the greatest comedic accomplishment in the history of mankind.

Sopranos - A sweeping epic that justifies the existence of television. Every death of an important character stings forever.

Californication - I have a feeling this show is just David Duchovny re-enacting his life in front of the camera, as Larry David does in Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Weeds - Has a boldness rarely seen in non-miniseries TV, changing locations and paradigms by season to tell an ongoing story with comedic and dramatic punch.

Six Feet Under - Stares death in the face constantly without obsessing over it. Has greatest series-ending episode of all time.

Flight of the Conchords - Impossibly funny, with catchy music set to inventive magical realism videos.

Wonderfalls - Killed off after only one season, which adds to its charm. The best quarterlife crisis drama.

Mad Men - Don Draper has the ability to get men and women alike to cheer for him to cheat on his wife with a different woman every episode. A phenomenal character and everyone around him is nearly as comepelling.

Breaking Bad - I don't care that this is set in New Mexico, it's straight-up Arizona through and through. A saga of a man confronting his mortality and morals, twisting them in a desperate scrap to make things right before his number is called.

Entourage - Excellent male daydream, in the same vicarious vein as Californication. Excellent characters and relationships, and a sense of authentic joy and optimism permeates the episode. Plus Ari owns.

Curb Your Enthusiasm - Definitive proof that Larry David was the brains behind Seinfeld.

Sons of Anarchy - Sopranos Lite, transposed to a motorcycle gang.

Battlestar Galactica - Delivers political and philosophical messages with elegance and great special effects. Terrible wrap-up though.

The Wire - Sometimes it's a slog and often its plotting is tough to understand, but it howls with street cred and delves inside a buried America most of us try to shield ourselves from. Each season focuses on a facet of what has broken modern society, and the final season, which rips apart the media, is its best.

True Blood - Moody, tense and sexy vampire action that somehow keeps its subject relevant in an era of Twlight overkill.

Big Love - Gets better each season, which is saying something because it started off amazingly. A stunning analysis of going against the grain with your scruples and sacrificing for what you believe is the greater good.

Deadwood - Its first season is the finest of any television show ever created, and the fourth episode is the best single hour in TV history. After that it trails off, but the cowboy Shakespeare dialogue always sings, and Al Swearengen and Seth Bullock are two all-time great characters.

Twin Peaks - A head trip that soaks you into an unsolvable mystery and keeps throwing you off by getting weirder and weirder.

Seinfeld - The best network TV could get, although it's severely dated now.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe - Best cartoon ever.

Beavis and Butt-head - Stinging satire of idiot culture.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Good News, Bad News

Luke: "I have good news and I have bad news."

Me: "What's the good news?"

Luke: "The good news is I have blue chalk" he says, showing me the piece of broken sidewalk chalk in his right hand.

Me: "What's the bad news?"

Luke: "The bad news is I have purple," he said, displaying the purple chalk in his left hand.

Guess the kid doesn't like purple. But that moment resonated with me. It's impossible to know what really is good or bad news, because bad things can spring from things that seem good at first, as well as the opposite. Without context or a crystal ball, news is neither bad nor good. It's just blue or purple.

Monday, May 03, 2010

I'd Like These To Be Renamed

1. American Idol - These people don't become "idols" anyway. The winners have maybe one song on the radio and then vanish into obscurity. Call it American Addiction.

2. Family Guy - The title means nothing and is pathetically uncreative, not reflective in any way of the awesome randomness of which the show often consists. Call it Tries Too Hard.

3. NATO - There is nothing North Atlantic about the treaty organization about countries such as Turkey. Just call it the We Are Still Afraid Of You, Russia Organization.

4. MTV - This is an old one, sure, but it bears repeating because there is no music whatsoever anymore on the channel. Call it Pandering Youth Reality Show Network.

5. HBO - Again, this is another TV network title that was once apropos but has aged out. People get the channel for the shows, not the irrelevant movies. Call it Overpriced Elitist TV Watching Club.