Friday, March 27, 2009

The Short Fuse Chronicles - Pt. 3

Infomercials in general have become ridiculously insulting. Before now, I wasn’t aware that I couldn’t live without a blanket with sleeves. That's right, I'm talking about Snuggie™. It looks like it was invented by the Franciscan Monks of St. Flannel. I’m no genius, but here’s a little advice. If you’re having problems covering all your extremities, buy a bigger blanket. Or indulge in a few more degrees on the ole thermostat. Snuggie™ propagandists purport that you can now eat popcorn and change channels without exposing your arms to the threat of hypothermia caliber room chills. I say this speaks more to the poor circulation of an assuredly obese and couch-ridden populace. But like lotteries and other taxes on stupidity, infomercials never fail to cash in on the less than cerebral masses. I mean, honestly, has anyone ever said “wow!” over a sham?

And the Can’t-Live-Without-This-Piece-Of-Feces market has its celebrities too. The longstanding patriarch has been Ron Popeil, whose endless array of Crap-O-Matic inventions has littered the airwaves since the early 70’s. But now the new Sultan of Shit is none other than Billy Mays. This loud-mouthed Al Borland clone has unleashed a cornucrapia of wasted human ingenuity in the form of: OxiClean™, Mighty Mend-it™, Mighty Putty™, Orange Glo™, Kaboom™, Awesome Auger™, Vidalia Slice-It Wizard™, Mantis Roto-Tiller™, and Gator Grip™. And I love the timeless mendacity of the sales pitch Mr. SuperBeard employs. Act now, and you can get the Hercules Hook™ for only $19.95. But wait!!! If you call now within the next five minutes, you can get 48 more Hercules Hooks™ for the same price!! That’s like 7 hooks per wall in your home, and who couldn’t use that?? Why don't people use this ballooning technique in other areas of life? Probably because it would sound something like this... Mr. Ferguson... I'm sorry, I don't know how to tell you this, but... you're going to die within 24 hours... Nah, just kidding, you're not going to die. Yet, anyway. You do, however, have an aggressively malignant neoplasm of the brain, which gives you 3 to 4 months at best. Which is better than dying today, in my book, so... good news.

There is simply no excuse for the surge in dog movies the past few years. Not just heartfelt dog movies à la Marley and Me (NOT a date movie, FYI). No, I'm talking about the "talking pet" variety of dogsploitation cinema. I think it may have started with Milo & Otis, in which a cute tabby and pug, both with inexplicable British accents, detail their adventures outside the farm of their youth. And as they weather the toils of that merciless bitch Mother Nature to make it back home, we as the audience are supposed to draw some alleged parallels to the human condition, the cycle of life, blah blah blah. Then came Homeward Bound. Then the vehicle went completely south with Air Bud. Somehow, viewers are supposed to suspend disbelief and embrace the idea that a golden retriever can emancipate itself from its owner, cultivate enough skill to play basketball without opposable thumbs, and save the day and the championship by capitalizing on the "no anti-canine player" loophole in the rules. What makes it all worse is that Air Bud warranted 7 sequels. SEVEN. The latest being Space Buddies, an endless exercise in mind-numbing labrador puns. The very idea of talking puppies in weightless orbit is ridiculous on so many levels. What's missing is the realism and historicity of canine cosmonauts, i.e. Air Bud: Sputnik 2. Join Laika, the stray-come-soviet-stepping-stone-to-manned-missions as she leaves the cold abandonment of the Moscow streets for the cold abandonment of space! And the remote possibility of even accidentally viewing the latest installments, Hotel For Dogs and Beverly Hills Chihuahua, is enough to make me want to stab myself in the face.

James Bond once had me convinced that there was a classier if not sexier facet of alcoholism. The classic martini is comprised of gin and vermouth and is garnished with lemon peel or an olive. Bond put his signature spin on it, going for the vodka martini and iconically insisting that it be shaken and not stirred. But the king of cocktails has all but disintegrated with the advent of martini madness. First, the appletini started making waves at Chili's, Applebees, and any other establishment that serves fried onion petals as an appetizer. Now, it doesn't matter where you go, you will inevitably be bombarded with someone's improvisation of the drink, because apparently any fluid served in a conical cocktail glass constitutes a "tini." Be it a Chocolatini, pomegranate tini (or Pomtini), a Pickletini or a Jalapiñi (they exist). Fill a thimble with grain alcohol and you've got an Itty Bitty Teeny Weeny Tini. Hell, urinate in a salt-rimmed glass and you've got a Pisstini. Everybody has them and it's getting ridiculous. Martini bars have become all the rage in metro areas, as people have seen fit to consistently reinvent the wheel.

Hi, welcome to Tina's House of Tinis. How can I help you?

Yes, I'll have two Linguinetinis and a Cheesymactini, a Ricekrispietreattini for dessert... My throat's a little sore, so I'll have the Brothtini... a Sake To Me Tini... and oops, can't forget my baby... he'll have an Enfamiltini.

Speaking of offspring, since when were humans compelled to employ the reproductive methods of rabbits? Thus what now follows is an unabashed bashing of the media entity affectionately known as Octomom. (I think her real name is Greedy McFertilewench) Putting aside her blatant dependence on public assistance (they really are America's Octuplets) and her freakish resemblance to Angelina Jolie (also high on kid-rearing), Octomom strikes me as someone who is genuinely surprised that the birth of her children is overshadowed by the media's preoccupation with her complete and utter inability to care for them. And now with 14 mouths to feed, one has to wonder when reality will set in for this slippery breeder. Even with 18 kids, at least the Duggar family has seen fit to take things one placenta at a time. Whatever you make of their homestead, they're a testament to the efficacy of the "if it ain't broke" mission of colonial baby-making. Octomom's efforts invoke a completely contrary sentiment, that of "if it's broke, please don't fix it."