Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Flashback! Bad Movies That Haunt Me: Night And The City

It was 1992, and I thought Robert De Niro was the best actor who ever lived.

Following a string of what would be iconic roles in classic films (The Godfather: Part II, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) and incredible performances in really good movies (The Deer Hunter, The King Of Comedy, Midnight Run), De Niro had, in a very short period of time, built the body of work of which legends are made.

Mrs. Film Geek and I were fans of De Niro. Serious fans. Recently married, we were just starting to build a life together. Money was tight, and entertainment that cost anything more than nothing was rare. Once a month we'd go out to eat and see a movie afterwards, and we really cherished that weekend.

We looked forward to it, and planned it with excitement and great anticipation.

That's why I'm still pissed off that I spent $14 for tickets and $18 for concessions on the opening night of Night And The City!

De Niro, as bumbling, dirtball attorney Harry Fabian, never rose above the too-complicated-to-follow and tell-me-why-I-should-care script. And Jessica Lange's Helen was completely unbelievable.

On top of the $32 we spent at the theater, Mrs. Film Geek and I hit a nearby Shoney's afterwards for a cup of coffee and two orders of fudge cake. We probably shouldn't have paid the additional $12, but we needed something to get our mind off the piece of crap movie we'd just paid good money to see. The fudge cake, at least, was really good.

Night And The City? Not so much. It was so bad, in fact, it still haunts me.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Jacknut Chronicles' Sunday Edition: "I Am Taking A Nap, And Don't Call Me Shirley"

Scott Oltman and Dillon Sheply just needed a nap.

Trouble is, they were flying a plane at the time.

Captain Scott Oltman, 54 had his license suspended for 60 days, and First Officer Dillon Shepley, 24, was suspended for 45 days after The National Transportation Safety Board determined the two pilots fell asleep on the Feb. 13 flight from Honolulu to Hilo.

Investigators are still unclear about how both pilots fell asleep on the brief mid-morning flight, which was carrying 40 passengers. The pilots failed to respond to nearly a dozen calls from air traffic controllers over a span of 17 minutes.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

They Say It's Your Birthday

Happy 8th birthday, Griffyn!

I can't think of a better wish for my daughter than this:

I'm adding the lyrics. As I'm finding out more and more from being a man in a family of mostly women, it can be difficult to grow up female in this society.

"That I Would Be Good"

that I would be good even if I did nothing
that I would be good even if I got the thumbs down
that I would be good if I got and stayed sick
that I would be good even if I gained ten pounds

that I would be fine even if I went bankrupt
that I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth
that I would be great if I was no longer queen
that I would be grand if I was not all knowing

that I would be loved even when I numb myself
that I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
that I would be loved even when I was fuming
that I would be good even if I was clingy

that I would be good even if I lost sanity
that I would be good
whether with or without you

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Jacknut Chronicles' Sunday Edition Extra! Body Language Says It All

When Virginia Governor Tim Kaine (D) stopped by Charleston, West Virginia on Saturday to speak at the Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Day fundraiser dinner, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin (D) was there in the spotlight.

Many have noticed Mojo's seeming unwillingness to promote or campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. This photo, taken by Gazette photojournalist Kenny Kemp, tells the tale: while Virginia Governor Kaine's enthusiastically sells the ticket, Mojo looks like he's still stewing over WVU's latest football loss to Colorado.

The picture says it all.

The Jacknut Chronicles' Sunday Edition: Russ Weeks Has A Plan

I rounded the corner, and followed the strong smell of cologne down the hallway and into the guest room, where I discovered The Duct Tape Bandit combing down the last hint of his front- hairline-cowlick.

"That cologne is strong, Bandit. Really strong. Got a hot date?" I crossed my fingers; the Bandit has been staying at my place for more than a year now, and a girlfriend could lead to his moving out.

"Naw, man. I'm goin' to gradiation. Walkin' the stage to pick up my MoJo diploma. It's a new certificate program some guy named Weeks 's givin' out just for votin' for him in the 'lection.

Dude, this Weeks guy rocks!"

The Bandit zipped up his jacket and started toward the door. He'd just gotten over a nasty head cold, and he was trying to stay healthy and improve his education.

It was sorta sweet.

It was so sweet, I couldn't tell him it was all a joke. A trinket that WV Republican gubernatorial candidate Russ Weeks is giving away to everyone who contributes to his campaign. (The Bandit is a bit naive, and I don't think he really understood the cynicism in play.)

The Bandit is also the sort of guy who gets his news and information from soundbites, and doesn't really pay close attention to the crux of the messages provided by politicians. He missed, for example, Weeks' comment that if elected, he will "introduce at least one anti-abortion bill per session," and "eliminate state-funded abortions, either through legislation or executive order."

The Bandit also missed out on hearing Weeks' comment that "Sarah Palin is exactly the kind of governor I want to be."

If he had paid attention to those things, The Bandit might be inclined to think the election pickin's this year are a bit slim. Both candidates are just yon side of jacknutty.

But at least he'll have a shiney new certificate to hang on the wall!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Drillbit Taylor

Just say "No!" to bullying!

(This after-school public awareness message brought to you by The Film Geek, who managed to avoid all-things-bullying until well into his early 20's.)

That' s mostly true.

During my growing-up-years, bullies seemed fewer than today, and bullying was pretty rare. There was the occasional dust-up. But as I recall, bullies were usually called out early by classmates, and even beaten on themselves once in a while (when they didn't back down) by classmates looking out for each other.

Of course, most of the bravado was fake. I mean, when we stepped up to stare down a bully we all hoped he would back down and not throw a punch. We all wanted to get laid, you see; fake bravado sometimes facilitated that, while bruises, broken bones and black eyes did not.

That's why some of us utilized the "Hold Back Technique" featured in the flick Drillbit Taylor. You fighters know the technique: you position your best friend between you and the person you are expected to fight, knowing that when the time comes to make your move, your friend will step in between the two of you and effectively stop the hoopla.

Here's an example, from 1983.

After a basketball game at [cough, cough] Richwood (WV) High School, I and several of my friends were riding home in a car driven by our assistant coach and his friend, Jeff Asbury. We stopped at the 7-11 for the 80's version of the Big Gulp (because, Chris James, we won the game and we were thirsty) then talked outside the car while the adults were still inside. As we talked, a car load of Lumberjacks--angry because of their devastating loss to the uppity other high school in the county--rolled up, and the Lumberjacks got out.

There was a throw-down coming.

Separated by the assistant coaches car, the two groups cursed and yelled at each other for several minutes, and one of the Lumberjacks called me out by name. Because I'd been keeping my eye on the coach and his friend while they were inside the store, I knew they would be out any second. So, I ramped up my bravado in carefully designed increments, knowing I'd peak just at the moment the coach and his buddy were in place to help.

As the adults walked up on the Lumberjacks side of the car, asking: "What's going on here, boys?" I suddenly threw off my letter-man's jacket, jumped onto the hood of the car and started running toward the lumberjack who'd been smarting me off. As anticipated, the coach's buddy Jeff Asbury caught me as I threw myself off the hood toward the bullying Lumberjack. The fight broke up, and we headed back home.

Reputation intact. But most importantly, no bruises to my face.

The "Hold Back Technique." Carefully planned and executed, it's a most effective way to prevent bullying and injury.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

High School Quotes I Remember: Quote #8

(I make no judgements about content. I'm simply purging some of the clutter that's been inside my head since 1983.)

"Listen, ...How'd you boys like to play basketball in the gym instead of coming to Art, and still get a "C" in the class?"

~ My 6th period art teacher, expressing his concern that my buddy Bake Neff and I might stir up some trouble during class.

The day before, the teacher ignored the class bully as he cut the arms off the winter coat of a really timid classmate. Bake and I couldn't believe the teacher just ignored it, so we beat up the bully during class. The teacher didn't ignore that.

But we did get the "C" and I developed a killer crossover dribble!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Promise Me This

Nearly 18 years ago (next month), when Mrs. Film Geek was still a Miss and in the midst of planning our wedding, we agreed to attend three sessions of pre-marriage counseling with the minister who would perform our ceremony. This would be the second minister we tried to talk into doing the deed for us; the first minister we approached passed when he found out we'd been living together for nearly a year.

The soon-to-be Mrs. Film Geek was nervous we might strike out with reverend number two.

"Please, don't tell him you're an atheist," she said, as we pulled into the church lot for our first session. "And don't argue. Maybe just go along with what the guy says for an hour."

And for that first session, I did.

During the second session the minister began a lengthy discussion of the tenets of a healthy and successful marriage. The most important thing, he said, was that Jesus be involved in the relationship. It's not possible, the minister contended, for a marriage to survive without the Son Of God being involved.

Secondly, he said, the man must be the leader of the family. Women should be listened to, of course, but the bottom line -- the final answer, so to speak -- was to be determined by the man.

It was God's way, after all.

And thirdly, there should be a genuineness and trust in the marriage.

"What about love," I asked. "And friendship?"

The minister had a puzzeled look in his eyes. He didn't understand my comment. Mrs. Film Geek shifted in her seat.

"I agree with trust and honestly being an integral part of a healthy marriage, but I find it odd that you didn't once mention "love" or "friendship." To me, those are far more important than Jesus, or which of us wears the pants in the family."

The minister went into a long monologue about love and friendship growing out of a committment to Christ. In my head, I went into a long monologue about how our love and friendship had grown out of (a) me initially thinking she was incredibly hot, and (b) the two of us becoming best friends as we recognized we had far more things in common than not.

But I kept that quiet, so as not to upset my soon-to-be-bride. After all, it was her day to be the boss.

I was reminded of this after seeing The Promise Keepers were in the area for a conference.

I'm curious if the preacher who married us went again this year.

photo by Chip Ellis

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Film Scenes That Matter: Rain Man

An incredibly poignant scene, starring my all-time favorite character actor, Dustin Hoffman.

I met Hoffman briefly after attending the world premier of Rain Man in 1988, and was moved by how much the Raymond Babbitt character meant to him at the time.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Film Scenes That Matter: Sling Blade

This opening scene from Sling Blade (one of my all-time favorite movies) highlights the incredible talent of the late J.T. Walsh, and lays the foundation of humanity for Billy Bob Thornton's character, Karl Childers.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Jacknut Chronicles' Sunday Edition: "He Tasered Me Because It Was My Birthday"

Despite East Bank (WV)Police Chief Jess Inclenrock's instruction of: "Don't play games with a Taser," city police officer Steve Smith did just that. In a case of friendly-Taser-fire, Smith stung his friend, a local firefighter:

"He Tasered me because it was my birthday," the firefighter said, adding that his back was turned when Smith used the Taser on him."

Celebrating birthdays by Taser isn't the only way Smith enjoys a good laugh. He knows a pregnant woman can take a good electrically-charged joke as well as anyone.

"Candice White, 18, told the council she was sitting on her porch when Smith, a friend of her mother's at the time, showed up.

"He was just playing around. He [used the Taser] on my leg three times, then again. It left star marks on my body," White said.

White said she told him to stop and smacked at the Taser. White said she was pregnant when the incident occurred."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Say It Ain't So, MoJo!

I'm pulling my hair out over the recent Cambridge study that shows West Virginia is the most stressed-out state in America!

Let's see...

Poor overall health? Check.

Sky-high numbers of heart disease and cancer? Check.

Infrequent or less than needed amounts of exercise? Check.

Less time and opportunity for social interaction? Uh...Check.

Damn, my Stress-O-Meter is off the hook!

Here's hoping there's an amicus brief in the works. Please, MoJo, please! Please tell me help is on the way!

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Whatever Happened To...Butch Patrick

    I was more Lidsville than The Munsters, but Butch Patrick was pretty cool in both.

    Here, he can tell you about it:

    Sunday, September 07, 2008

    The Jacknut Chronicles' Sunday Edition: A Lesson In Covering Your Ass

    Jacknut Quote Of The Week: "Uh, well I haven’t got in…structions to uh as to what to tell everybody yet...but uh, uh we just have an emergency alarm in progress right now. And we’ll, we’ll contact ya when as soon as I get the information to… give ya I’ll contact ya…"

    ~ Report to Emergency 911 Dispatcher from Bayer CropScience Plant front gate guard Steve Brick , who was unsure where his Talking Points Guidebook was as the chaos from an explosion that killed one person and injured two raged on.

    Thursday, September 04, 2008

    You Make The Call

    (A) Newly nominated GOP Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin
    (B) SNL alum and 30 Rock star Tina Fey
    (C) The newest MILF in the neighborhood
    (D) All of the above

    Wednesday, September 03, 2008


    It isn't the blood and the violence that makes me avoid vampire flicks. Something more subtle, that seems to occur in nearly every vampire movie, hits me in the stomach harder than any bloody throat-sucking action. What gives me the Danny Gut is when one of the supporting cast invites the vampire to turn them into an undead so they can enjoy an immortal existence.

    You've seen the scene: some hot chick or good-looking guy realizes that if they become vampires, they too can live out a youthful existance forever. So they cozy up to the vampire, tell him or her the plan and then stretch out their necks for the inevitable.

    It makes me wanna vomit.

    I think my strong reaction comes from the idea that one would embrace evil for his or her own personal gain. Someone would recognize that an eternal existence will demand they inflict harm and violence on another, but selfishly agree to it anyway in order to stay young forever.

    It's not just vampire flicks that repulse me. I recall reading an X-Men comic years and years ago, and being upset for days that good-guy mutant Caliban agreed to work for mega-evil Apocalypse on the condition Caliban would be granted more strength and power. It still makes me puke-y to think about it.

    I felt that same feeling while watching 21.

    Seeing lead Ben Campbell (played wonderfully by Jim Sturgess) walk away from his geeky friends and embrace the efforts of the MIT Blackjack Team simply to get close to a pretty woman and to make himself tons of cash was disturbing. So much so, I couldn't like the guy. Likable in every other way--he was brilliant, charming and naive--his decision to sell out his values for the chance to get laid and make some dough caused such angst for me I wanted to movie to end quickly.

    Other than that, 21 was a pretty entertaining flick!

    Tuesday, September 02, 2008

    I Miss Kennie Bass

    Watching the Jerry Lewis Telethon over Labor Day Weekend just doesn't carry the kick it used to. I watched some of it, but I was mostly bored. Back in the day, it seemed WSAZ really knew how to have a lot of off-the-cuff fun with the telethon, which made the show much more fun for the viewer.

    Or at least for me.

    After a couple of viewing hours on Monday, I realized what I've been missing these last few years: I miss Kennie Bass.

    When Kennie was at WSAZ, he'd often work the telethon. And while he took it seriously, he never seemed to take himself too seriously. You could tell the guy was having fun in the gig, and that made it more fun for me to watch.

    Once, I called in and offered to pledge $50 if Kennie would sing one verse of Elton John's Rocketman on the air. I don't know why I thought that would be funny, but I did.

    Another year, I offered to pledge $50 if Kennie and Mr. Cartoon's Beeper--both of whom were in the studio together -- would hug.

    Neither time did the telephone answer-er give Kennie the message. They said "No, we can't do that," and let me hang up without a pledge.

    I bet Kennie woulda done it, if he'd been asked.

    So, I miss Kennie being a part of the telethon. It's just not the same without him.

    Bass does make the Tom Roten radio show more entertaining, however, when he works as the occasional guest host. Listen to him live Wednesday from 6am until 9am at this link.

    And happy 45th birthday, Kennie.

    Monday, September 01, 2008

    My Top 5: West Virginians Who Are Happy That Mountaineer Football Season Has Begun

    West Virginians love us some WVU Mountaineer football.

    With no professional teams to call our own and large hilly regions separating our communities, the Mountaineer blue and gold gives West Virginians across the state a sense of connection. The football season also provides an entertainment opportunity that allows us to forget, for a few months at least, the daily grind that is life in the Mountain State.

    You know it too. Sometimes, it's a grind.

    Here is My Top 5: West Virginians Who Are Happy That Mountaineer Football Season Has Begun

    Governor Joe Manchin: Other than a few bloggers, no one is likely to mention the term "amicus brief" until after a New Year's Day bowl game. Plus, if MoJo can position himself into the media circus that follows the blue and gold, he'll have more opportunity to use his catch phrase: "West Virginians have a Ph.D. in life."

    Heather Bresch, COO of Mylan, Inc. and former WVU Prez Mike Garrison (along with Bresch's father and Garrison's buddy, Governor Joe Manchin): Even though a legislative commission has been formed to investigate how governor's daughter Bresch got a master's degree she didn't earn, everyone knows any investigative processes will take place between tailgate parties at Mylan Puskar Stadium.

    Readers of the Charleston Daily Mail Vent Line: Most of the Vent Line readers I know have grown tired of vents focused on (a) former WVU Coach Rich Rodriquez, (b) how presidential hopeful Barack Obama won't wear a flag pin in his lapel and (c) the Kanawha County smoking ban. It will be refreshing, for at least a few months, to read vents about (a) new WVU Coach Bill Stewart, (b) how presidential hopeful Barack Obama won't wear a flag pin in his lapel and (c) the Kanawha County smoking ban.

    Hoppy Kercheval and MetroNews: Because only on MetroNews can the story "WVU Wins Opener" be above the fold, ahead of a story on the potentially devastating effects Hurricane Gustov may have on those living in southern states. And of course, WVU football gives Hoppy a daily agenda for his radio show through a New Year's bowl game.

    Marshall Fans: Watching couches burn in Morgantown is better than the 4th of July!