The Spider-Man Age Check

I have recently devised a methodology to determine one’s age based on the person one thinks of when one thinks of Spider-Man on screen.

Take this simple test for yourself.

Whom do you think of when you picture Spider-Man on screen?

Image:
Actor: Nicholas Hammond Tobey Maguire Andrew Garfield Tom Holland
Your age: Okay, Boomer. Or old Generation X Generation X You have revealed yourself to be a Russian deep cover agent through your lack of understanding of American pop culture Millenial

I mean, really, the government would use this test to ferret out dangerous moles if it were competent.

And, c’mon man, we all know there’s only one Mary Jane Watson.

Continue reading “The Spider-Man Age Check”

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Movie Report: Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Book coverAll right, all right, all right, now I remember where I got the sense that 21st century comedies were all crass crap: not long after I joined a local video store, I rented a couple of recent comedies, including Ted (which, in reviewing my comments on it, I was already knocking 21st century comedies) and Hot Tub Time Machine which I did not dislike as much as Ted.

In the first Hot Tub Time Machine film from 2010, John Cusack and some of his early middle-aged buddies go back in time to 1986 and hope to take a chance to make some changes for the better–however, Chevy Chase appears and tells them to try not to change anything, as it can have great repercussions in the future–their present. So what happens then is sex and drugs, mostly, and the fellows return to 2010, where some changes have occurred–one of them stayed in the past and became a billionaire based on his knowledge of the future.

This sequel takes place in 2015; One of the now-Cusackless grooup is shot, and they rush him to the hot tub time machine to find his killer. Instead of going to the past, they end up ten years in the future (which is 2025, or three and a half years from now). Where drugs and sex occur as they try to discover who the killer that travels back in time might be. Shockingly, it turns out that sex and drugs lead to the motive. I don’t want to spoil a movie you’ll never see for you, but I don’t want to spend much more time on the mediocre plot.

It doesn’t hold up, the picture of the future that they have from 2015, although perhaps the wide availability of hallucinogens might be presaged by the marijuana shops on every block these days. But all of the humor within the film is pretty base and obvious, and the whole thing lacks the depth that John Cusack brought just by being.

It was widely panned, and deservedly so. And, as I said when I watched Ted, I am back to actioners. And probably old comedies, although I might take a flier on National Lampoon films from the 21st century since the nearly direct-to-video films watched recently pleasantly surprised me.

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Say Its Name

In a story about the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s new dalliances with multi-verse based story lines (‘Loki’ on Disney+ is playing with multiverses — why that’s a slippery slope), the author mentions a DC crossover event that I remember, but it doesn’t mention it by name:

For what it’s worth, the multiverse concept didn’t end well for DC Comics. The storyline got so convoluted that by 1985, the publisher was forced to blow it up and start over.

The crossover series that ended this, as an fool over 40 (and not just those who read Worlds’ Finest Volume 2: Hunt Or Be Hunted) knows, this series was called Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Not being a DC fan, I didn’t follow it; I did have a comic that ended with the hero (Superboy?) getting pulled into a space ship with Harbinger and the big bad behind whatever the crisis was, and another DC comic I had had a special letter from the editor in the DC-wide column with a very somber Supergirl dies in that issue (uh, retrospoiler alert!). Also, I have a cat named Isis, so as you can well imagine I sometimes call her Isis on Infinite Earths.

Now, I’m not going to say the New York Post writer did not know the name of the series. If it’s one thing that the twenty-six-year-olds in the news rooms would know, it’s comic book esoterica. But what I want you to recognize, gentle reader, is that I know.

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The First One Since The First One. Maybe.

The front page headline of the New York Post story is misleading:

After all, some of who are not headline writers are old enough to remember Dennis Tito.

Inside, the story itself is titled Jeff Bezos to fly on Blue Origin’s first crewed spaceflight next month, and the record-breaking claim is a little more measured:

Barring surprises, the trip would make Bezos the first of the billionaire space tycoons to travel to space through their own companies. Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, and Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, have yet to ride with their companies to space.

Which is a much smaller circle, but slightly less click- and snark-worthy.

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(Not Pictured: Kathy Ireland)

The New York Post has runs a story called Over 50 and fab: Nine of the finest OG supermodels are hotter than ever which includes luminaries like Christie Brinkley, Brooke Shields (the first victim in Alice, Sweet Alice which I might own on videocassette as it was one of the first ones my mother purchased when we got our first VCR in our trailer in Murphy, Missouri, in 1985), and, sorry, where was I? Oh, yes, Naomi Campbell, Elle McPherson, and a Helena C-something who was not in Fight Club.

No depicted: Kathy Ireland.

I suspect that she’s not depicted because she’s not actively posting sexy pix on social media sites these days unlike the others in the set who are posting clickbait pictures or posing topless for magazines even now.

Hey, I’m not saying that it’s wrong to either flaunt what you have or to be more reserved. But the list itself contains attractive women over 50 who are actively flaunting it for profit, whereas some take their profits in other things over 50.

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Film Watching: National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon I (1993)

Book coverAfter watching the National Lampoon double feature (Adam and Eve and Dirty Movie) last week, I thought about watching this movie with my boys. It’s rated PG-13 instead of R, and I didn’t think it had any boobs in it (it doesn’t), so I queued it up.

It’s a send-up of buddy cop action movies, particularly the Lethal Weapon series although it has bits making mock of other contemporaneous films films as well. Emilio Estevez plays the rogue, gun-happy cop; Samuel L. Jackson, playing against type, is the straight-arrow partner Lugar who is getting too old for this stuff. Estevez’s Colt is mourning the disappearance of his K9 partner Claire when he gets assigned to a case where Lugar’s partner is murdered while trying to get microfilm to Lugar. The microfilm contains the recipe for turning cocaine into Wilderness Girls cookies for transit and distribution.

So that’s the story. The film includes appearances by Jon Lovitz as the stool pigeon; William Shatner as General Mortars, the bad guy; Tim Curry as his henchman; and Denis Leary, Phil Hartman, Corey Feldman, Frank McRae, Dr. Joyce Brothers, and Lance Kinsey in small roles. Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox from CHiPs make cameos, as does Paul Gleason as an FBI agent. Charlie Sheen makes an appearance as a valet, and Jon Lovitz’s character has a meta gag where he says something like “Isn’t it funny that your brother is in Hot Shots! and you’re doing this?”

So a lot of the humor comes from then-contemporaneous (the then- is extraneous with contemporaneous, ainna?) understanding of movies and commercials, but some of the humor is not–enough that my oldest son liked it more than, say, Airplane! or the aforementioned Hot Shots!.

And, as for the judgment of the youngest: Well, when Colt and Kathy Ireland’s Destiny Demeanor (Allyce Beasley plays the same character, the head of the Wilderness Girls organization, before she lets her hair down) do the sharing of scars before lovemaking scene (riffing off a similar scene from Lethal Weapon 3), he declared he didn’t like ugly people because he is still scandalized by kissing in a movie.

What? Kathy Ireland ugly? Let’s review, shall we?

Continue reading “Film Watching: National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon I (1993)”

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Brian J. Snorts At The Library Cinemaphile Schedule

So while sitting in the vet’s parking lot yesterday, I had a chance to browse through the Springfield-Greene County Library’s current quarterly newsletter which generally includes a schedule of activities at the various branches. This quarter is pretty thin because semi-governmental and medical and psuedo-medical facilities are the last to give up on the late unpleasantness. Which explains why I was sitting in the parking lot of the vet’s office, killing time.

I guffawed (I am old enough, gentle reader, to be described as gruff instead of just an ass, and I can now guffaw) when I saw the virtual shared film discussions for this quarter.

July’s film is Hell Comes to Frogtown.

Pseudo Rowdy Roddy Piperaste will argue that They Live! is Piper’s masterpiece mainly because that’s the only film they’ve seen him in, but those of us raised on USA Network’s Up All Night in the 1980s know that Hell Comes to Frogtown is truly his pièce de résistance.

In it, Piper plays Sam Hell, who is a wanderer in a post-apocalyptic wasteland whom, the military medical corps discovers is virile–the apocalypse has left much of humanity incapable of bearing children, so the race is on to repopulate and have another go at the war. He gets drafted to impregnate some fertile females, but they’re kidnapped by a mutant warlord in Frogtown, so Sam Hell and two Army women have to go to rescue them.

I watched it once or twice on Up All Night and then I recorded it–so I watched it over and over during my college years. I eventually got it on videocassette, so I got to see that woman who played the psycho in the three part Hunter television series’s boobs–that scene with Rowdy Roddy Piper was cut from the USA Network version.

“Are you going?” my beautiful wife, also in the car in the veterinarian’s parking lot, asked.

Oh, but no.

I mean, what is there to talk about? That it’s a sterling example of the post-apocalyptic genre that we got fed a steady diet of in the 1980s (but not recently, though, even though a major national rival is currently threatening nuclear war with the United States if we don’t let it do whatever it wants). That the videocassette market and the new cable markets made for quite a collection of B, C, and D movies. Kind of like the streaming providers now are churning out, except they’re doing “series” instead which is more of a commitment of time.

Hey, I’ve just gotten used to having time to watch movies in my normal week, so I’m not about to start extending that to entire six- to thirty-hour blocks of time to watch series. Also, I’m skeptical of modern movies and television, and I have many, many fine films to go through in my newly rapidly growing again physical media library.

But Hell Comes To Frogtown? Perhaps I’ll revisit it sometime soon. And the virtual cineaste’s discussion is a month away. If I have nothing else going on that afternoon, maybe I will join the Zoom call.

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Do I Look Like An Amateur?

C’mon, man, I have more than 80 classic Atari games in my Atari drawer now.

As you might recall, gentle reader, I own over 350 Atari cartridges (but not Private Eye), but most of them are duplicates. The collection has not expanded much since I haven’t seen any Atari cartridges in the wild recently except for a couple of very common cartridges at an antique mall marked something like $8 each.

So now you know, gentle reader, why I have accelerated my purchase of physical videocassettes and DVDs at garage sales–because I know that sometime relatively soon, perhaps as little as ten years, you won’t find them in thrift stores or garage sales, and if you’re like me, it will only in retrospect that you notice they’re gone.

Kind of like it was with old computers and game systems–in the 1990s, you could find them with some frequency at garage sales for low prices. Then, when all the attics were empty, they were gone. Mostly into my storage cabinets, probably, but you can find them on eBay at a premium, but where’s the fun in that?

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Sparkly Vampire Fan Fiction Apparently Allowed

In 2004, I mentioned that Bravenet singled out the works of John Norman in its terms of service:

Funny, Frank Herbert, J.R.R. Tolkien, and R.A. Salvatore don’t suffer from the literary persecution John Norman does. Here’s section 8d of BraveNet’s terms of service:

(d) Associate Bravenet and any Products and Services with any adult material of any sort. This includes, but is not limited to, such things as nudity, any site, page, image or service requiring any adult verification service, anything that users to be 18 or older to view or join or access, and any text, image or likeness suggesting sexual and/or inappropriate and/or illegal acts of any sort. Without limiting the foregoing, you may not use the Products and Services to store, use, contain or display pornography, adult novelties, adult toys, XXX material, escort services, Gorean, bondage, BDSM, bigotry, racism, hatred, profanity, or any material which may be insulting to another person(s) or entity;

No Counter-Earth fan pages for you, children.

Well, I see today that Lileks added Bravenet forums to The Bleat, so I went a-looking to see if Gor is still prohibited.

Yes.

Although it’s now in section 9, so someone has updated the terms in the last seventeen years, although nobody removed the Gorean prohibition. Probably they didn’t know what Gorean meant. Which, to be honest, is probably why few people post Gorean content using Bravenet widgets or services. Not because anyone but me reads these terms and conditions closely.

You can probably find all kinds of Fifty Shades of Grey knock-offs across sites using Bravenet components, though. Because that’s modern stuff and not really dirty like your grandpa might have liked.

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Brian J.’s Recycler Tour’s Biggest Hits

Well, maybe not my biggest hits, but June 2 has historically proven to be particularly good on my Facebook feed. Here are a couple of items from years (decades) past:

2014:

I’m starting a band called Meowy Vanilli, and we’re going to do nothing but meow covers of Milli Vanilli songs.
We’re going to be HUGE in Japan.

2011:

Brian J. Noggle doesn’t think he can actually explain what he meant when he told his three-year-old, “You’re such a cutie, you deserve a death cab.”

Brian J. Noggle complains, “Life has given me lemonade. What am I supposed to do with that?”

Well, maybe only two years in the past.

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Rebooting History So Everything Is New

Taylor Swift shatters vinyl sales record with ‘Evermore’:

The pop superstar charted a new peak in modern-era vinyl sales — as more music fans turned to vintage records during the pandemic.

The vinyl edition of Swift’s album “Evermore” shattered the US record for largest vinyl album sales in a single week, according to Billboard.

It sold more than 40,000 copies just three days after its May 28 release — already surpassing the biggest single-week sales record since MRC Data began tracking in 1991.

The title had previously been held by Jack White’s “Lazaretto,” which sold 40,000 copies in the week after it launched in June 2014.

Everything is a new record.

Because history got rebooted around the end of the 20th century, and everything is now unprecedented and record-breaking.

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A Special Thank You To A Singapore Reader

Or bot as the case may be for answering a question I had in my report on watching Alien.

I noted that I had the first, third, and fourth movies in the series, but not the second, and I mused it was probably not at the place where I bought the films.

Well, a reader or some scrapping algorithm in Singapore led me to the answer.

I bought the movies at the Hope Church Relay for Life Garage Sale in 2013.

The three Alien movies I have yet to see. The Hope Lutheran Church sale did not have Aliens.

I have started haunting antique and thrift stores for films and have yet to see Aliens.

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Apparently, I Am Not Mad This Is Not Evidence Of My Madness

So over the course of the last year, as I have watched DVDs, I have from time to time picked up the DVD remote after the film ends to eject the disc. A couple of times, I was taken aback when I looked for the eject button on the remote, and it was not there. I mean, I haven’t generally watched enough films nor gotten so in depth with the functions of the DVD player that I’m intimate with all of its functionality, but I do generally know where the play, pause, stop, select, power, and eject buttons are. But, as I said, a couple of times over the last year, I’ve picked up the remote and have struggled to find the eject button. I mean, I am pretty sure I have pressed the eject button after the movie. Heck, I might have even pressed the button on the remote to put this particular DVD in. But it’s not there now.

I chalked it up in the user error column. After all, a flaky receiver and some ad hoc reconnecting inputs in the back have led to some strange results when trying to watch a movie in the past (see also Movie Night at Nogglestead: THWARTED). I have started to think I’m reaching the age where I get flummoxed by technology. That’s not really the case, though, as connections to new devices are getting simpler (just stream it on your device!). But the Case of the Disappearing Button intermittently bothered me. And then other times, I would push the button to eject the DVD.

We also have a Sony Blu-Ray player which we use very infrequently. Its remote looks almost exactly like the DVD remote, but it has a BD at the bottom instead of DVD.

You see, it has an open/close button on it. Maybe I’d gotten confused between the two, although I really don’t watch many Blu-Ray discs as you don’t find them for a buck at garage sales yet.

I try to keep the remotes organized on the side table by the entertainment center. But when the boys use them to put on their video game systems, watch television, or occasionally put in a movie, they tend to roam to various seats, under blankets, or under pillows/cushions. I am not immune–sometimes I will pick up a remote and lay it on the entertainment center somewhere when I’m putting in or taking out a movie only to “lose” it for a moment where I cannot remember where I laid it.

So this weekend, while preparing for my bi-weekly movie watching (it has been twice a week the last two weeks and more when I include watching a movie with the boys), I discovered the truth.

For some reason, I have two Sony DVD player remotes.

Which is odd because we only currently have one Sony DVD player; the one I stored last November was not a Sony. It might have been a previous model that I replaced at some point; I know I used to save old remotes in a bin (I have since donated them). This one would have been spared, though, since it looks like it works with the current DVD player.

And it does. All the buttons work as expected, so I was able to conduct the movie. So I would pick up whichever one I found first, and when that was the one without the open/close button, I would briefly question my sanity. Which, I am pleased to say, is intact is not disproven. And the world might not actually be a Philip K. Dick illusion that a small inconsistency can dispel.

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Is Our Journalists Learning Civics?

In a story about my congressional representative (Congressman Billy Long talks with KY3 regarding Capitol Insurrection and possible Senate run that really does not offer any detail but a couple quotes from the Congressman and a couple of times mentions that the Republicans blocked creating of a commission to “investigate” the “insurrection.”

It does, however, offer this bit of civics:

The vote was 54 in favor of the bill and 35 against. That is just six short of what it needed to be at 60 in order for it to pass.

That’s not actually for it to pass, but it’s all the same I suppose for a twenty-four-year-old journalist.

Full disclosure: Although I have voted for Mr. Long, I have not had my picture taken with him since Friday, when I attended the reopening of the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield visitor center where he spoke.

So that’s why posting has been light late last week: I’ve been, you know, doing stuff.

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Book Report: Life After Favre by Phil Hanrahan (2009)

Book coverI bought this book in 2019. Maybe I didn’t know when the time would be right to read it, but given the nonsense in this off season, wherein people are claiming that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t want to play for the Green Bay Packers any more, I knew the time was now. As to the truth of the Rodgers situation, I can believe it. In spite of his being good at Jeopardy! and an entertaining host of it, I can find it easy to believe he wants to leave–I saw the look in his eyes last year, when the conference championship was at Lambeau Field. He did not want to be out there playing football in the cold. So I can find it easy to believe that he might want to play somewhere warmer. But if he does, a pox on him.

But that’s not about this book. This book. Well, it’s an interesting book, all right, a bit interesting in its conception and execution. The author, living in LA at the time but a native Wisconsinite, decides he wants to write a book about the year after Favre left. So he moves to Green Bay for the season, but also attends several games in different places and travels to Kansas to watch a game in Jordy Nelson’s parents’ bar, travels to Kiln, Mississippi, the home of Brett Favre, and travels all over while renting a place in an extended stay in Green Bay. He goes around, talks to other fans, and…. Well, that’s the book. Not a whole lot of insight into the Favre thing other than recounting a bit of it which had kinda fallen out of my mind, and he brings up the names of some nearly forgotten Packers players for some pleasant memories. The book plays up the young Aaron Rodgers as eager to please, to lead, and to make a good impression with his teammates–an impression that, over time, looks a bit disingenuous.

Of course, as I’m reading this, I’m wondering who’s paying for it. I mean, fronting the money for that sort of thing must have been fairly expensive, and this is not a big name author or the member of some media organization. This looks to be about his only book. In the acknowledgements, he thanks his parents for his support, and I thought, a-ha! When I read the back flap of the dust jacket after I finished the book (I removed it while reading the book–funny, it’s there to protect the book, but nowadays we, and by we, I mean I, protect the protector more than the protected), I discovered that he taught writing at Marquette. He must have been after me, I told my beautiful wife, but actually we overlapped–but he must have been an adjunct or associate professor, teaching the 001 classes or something, since I did not take his classes, and I was not only in the Writing Intensive English program, but I had so many English credits that my graduation was in jeopardy (is that the second time that word has appeared in this book report? Is double jeopardy even allowed in these things?).

At any rate, so how did the Favre thing compare to the Rodgers thing? Kinda close, actually: Rumors and hints in the national media, a primadonna star quarterback who believes unfallibly that he’s in the right and that he’s not respected, and the general manager should be sacked. Worry that nobody would want to play for Green Bay without the recently departed star quarterback. The Packers did really get lucky with two really good quarterbacks in a row leading to 25 years of really good football–I’m a fair weather fan who really only got into it about twenty years ago, so I don’t remember the lean years. Perhaps if the Packers revert to the mean, I will end up only kind of following them and catching a game here or there kind of like I follow the St. Louis Blues these days. Eh, we will see.

So I did flag a couple of things for comment.

Continue reading “Book Report: Life After Favre by Phil Hanrahan (2009)”

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National Lampoon Movie Double Feature

Gentle reader, my wife and children are finding excuses to go to Silver Dollar City once or twice a week to get the most out of season passes, and as I am not an amusement park kind of guy–once a year is enough for me to walk around and maybe get onto the shoot-at-stuff ride (the Flooded Mine at Silver Dollar City), that means I get a chance to watch a couple of movies each week. Which is good, as I have a cabinet full of videocassettes, DVDs, and a Blu-Rays that I’ve been meaning to get to, and I’ve also started grabbing them with more frequency at garage sales and whatnot as I see their availability in such places coming to an end in a decade or so. Wow, that was quite a sentence.

Regardless, I bought and watched two National Lampoon-branded movies from the early part of the century this past week. I picked them up at a thrift store for a couple bucks each (the same trip where I bought My Cousin Vinny).

Book coverNational Lampoon’s Dirty Movie (2011)

When I got back from the thrift store, I made sure to show my purchases to my beautiful wife just in case my youngest (he of the I thought I’d find you in the Adult section infamy) saw some of the titles and told his mother I bought a Dirty Movie.

So. The movie is not a movie about a porn film a la Zack and Miri Make A Porno. Instead, it’s a meta film about making a film comprising nothing but dirty jokes being acted out. The frame story is a polyester producer who wants to make this film working with the studio, the director, writers, and actors to make the film interspersed with dirty and offensive jokes acted out. You have a bunch of clips with doctor, give me the good news/bad news jokes, Dirty Johnny jokes (a favorite of my father’s) where a schoolboy responds to a normal question with an off-color remark or pun, and that sort of thing. The comedy is full of ethnic humor and jokes at the expense of homosexuals, too, including some in the acted-out-joke portions and in the meta portion, where the writers insinuate that the director is gay. AND an extended bit where the producer wants to insert the baddest word but the head of the studio won’t allow it–and every time the writers, producer, and head of the studio say the baddest word, they bleep it out even though they’re using all manner of other ethnic slurs throughout the movie and in this bit in comparison (“So a bleeped baddest word can call a lesser ethnic slang, but not bleeped out a lesser ethnic slang, but not bleeped out, but a lesser ethnic slang, but not bleeped out cannot call a bleeped baddest word a bleeped baddest word?”) So it’s poking fun at the then-orthodoxy which has only gotten worse.

So it was amusing for people of a certain age who were not raised snowflakes, but it’s also not for young people, so if I ever make a locked cabinet for films to keep them out of the hands of my boys, this one will go in it. Although they’re teens now, so I only would need a locked cabinet for a little while yet, so I will probably not and just rely on their predilections for just staring at their other electronic devices and finding setting up the entertainment center to watch a movie on physical media too much of a chore to bother with.

Book coverNational Lampoon’s Adam and Eve (2005)

With the title Adam and Eve, one might expect some sort of Biblical story, and that’s not what this is at all. It has a standard setting for a National Lampoon film, a college, with main characters in a sorority and a fraternity (it says), and there’s a lot of drinking, sex, and drug use.

But at its core, this movie has a very, erm, conservative message. Adam introduces himself to the girl Eve, and they start dating, but she’s a virgin, and she’s not sure when she might want to go all the way. So most of the story deals with his frustration and her uncertainty, with pressure on Eve not only from Adam but also her sorority sisters. The gags are typical college movie fare, but the story isn’t about the gags. It’s about the tension and resolution in Adam and Eve’s relationship. Can they stay together without sex? They both declare their love for one another to each other and to others. An obvious plot twist and a satisfying conclusion.

So I was rather pleased with the film. But another one not for the boys.

In the film, Eve is played by Emmanuelle Chriqui, whom I recognized from You Don’t Mess with the Zohan but who also apparently has had a good career in television as well.

Continue reading “National Lampoon Movie Double Feature”

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Brian J.’s Recycler Tour Comes To Your Town

Over a decade ago, I said:

Brian J. Noggle insists earnestly that his child’s first doctor visit involved him getting examined by a vet.

And I explained in a comment:

Lt. Cdr Terrill USN, ret., had just gotten her first job outside the service. Being former Navy, she was used to treating babies, though.

Aforementioned baby is now, what, almost fifteen and in the JROTC. Not the Navy, though, since we don’t really have that much water around here, even in the wet springs.

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