Category Archives: Television/Movies General

What’s Your Charlie Sheen Number?

Two and a Half Men is the most popular show on television, so I don’t think there would be much point in arguing about whether it’s any good or not.  Personally, I’m not going to sit around and watch a show with a laugh track, here in 2011 – I’m just a pretentious bastard that way.  Every time I see some of it by accident, it feels like a Simpsons bit come to life.

Really – how many jokes can there be in this premise?  Charlie has many sexual partners – ahahahahhaha.  Charlie’s pal or brother or whoever that other guy is, he doesn’t have nearly so many sexual partners – ahahahahahhahhaha.  Their ex-wives are bitchy and unreasonable – ahahahahahhaha.  The housekeeper’s like their mom – ahahahhahahahah.

I mean, okay – I’m the one watching dinosaur shows and Doctor Who and Cake Boss.  I’m not here to judge you. 

What fascinates me about Charlie Sheen’s recent, hilarious, crack-addled antics is that they gave us a chance to find out series creator Chuck Lorre’s Charlie Sheen Number – it’s 250 million.

In case your name is Rebecah and you need a recap here, Charlie Sheen is apparently on crack.  What he likes to do is get loads of crack and some porn stars and a hotel room, and then he likes to light up the crack and see what happens.  Sometimes, I assume, nothing does. 

They don’t put it in the news when nothing happens, though.  They only put him in the news when he gets the cops called on him or goes to the ER or someone “steals” his car and drives it off a cliff.  Then suddenly everybody’s Judge Judy.

Here’s my favorite Charlie Sheen quote – “I don’t recommend crack cocaine to anyone unless you can manage it socially.”

Yep.  Contingent on an enormous, pulsating, eerily-glowing “unless,” that sounds about right.  Some people probably could manage it socially, like Jesus or Superman or the ghost of Steve McQueen.  So Charlie makes an excellent point.

Now, since I don’t watch the show, it of course doesn’t concern me for a second whether or not they ever film another episode again, but I’ve been nothing but fascinated by the story.  Like the other day, when Charlie Sheen went off on the series creator on a radio show, and also said that if he didn’t have to work with the current batch of “losers” he was working with, he could be “making movies with superstars.”

I don’t quite know everything that Mr. Sheen said, but it was eventually enough for Chuck Lorre to call off the whole show.  And that decision from a gross earning standpoint, will cost the network and Chuck Lorre approximately 250 million dollars – that’s Two and a Half Hundred Million Dollars, if you’re scoring at home (heh). 

A thirty-second commercial spot goes for about $200,000 right now, and they were booked all the way through the end of the season, and who knows where else the money comes from?  It’s not a figure I pulled out of my butt or anything.

So Lorre had to make a decision.  He had to say to himself, man, I don’t like taking a bunch of public crap from this literal Brat Packer on Crack.  Is 250 million dollars enough money to keep kissing his ass, or should I just say screw it, and shut the whole thing down.

He shut it down, so that means his Charlie Sheen Number is 250 million.  That’s awfully good. 

I have to tell you, for even one percent of that money, Charlie Sheen could throw turds at me on national television an hour a week for a full year, saying anything he wanted to, smoking all the crack he wanted to, and I’d just stand there smiling, shaking my head, going, “Oh, Charlie.  You are such a rascal!”

Chuck Lorre’s got a pretty high Charlie Sheen Number, if you ask me – especially for a television producer.  I mean, did you know that Pamela Anderson had a television show called Stacked, in which she played a librarian with large breasts?  The idea was, she walked around with her cleavage showing, and people would then ask a question about stacks of books or racks of magazines, and then she would mistake their questions as being directed at her boobs.  And despite the constant confusion on the matter, she would never, ever put her breasts away.

God bless you, television.  God bless your digital soul.

So anyway, you don’t think whoever produced that show had to kiss Pamela Anderson’s ass?  You figure she was probably really easy to work with, full of energy and professionalism? 

Certainly there was no show without her.  And since that show didn’t make much money, you have to think that the producer’s Charlie Sheen Number was probably what, a hundred grand?  Definitely closer to my ballpark. 

That’s all Chuck Lorre has to do, you know, is kiss Charlie Sheen’s ass.  He just needs to say, “Charlie I was wrong and I need you, please film more episodes.  I’m stupid and you’re smart.” 

I really can’t believe it matters what level of quality Charlie brings to the formulaic, laugh track-driven premise.  All you have to do, Chuck, is kiss Charlie Sheen’s ass and you get more money than the rest of us will ever see in our lives. 

We all have a Charlie Sheen number.  That’s what jobs typically are, right?  How much money would you need to roll in here and kiss somebody’s ass who doesn’t deserve it? 

I think 250 million is a pretty high Charlie Sheen number.  Mine’s about eight hundred bucks or so – bloggers are awful, shameless, horrible people and we cannot manage our crack cocaine socially, that. Is. For.  Sure.

Lie, cheat, blow stuff up, kill spies – you drop down to eight hundred bucks and I’m probably out, but anything above that, well – I’m listening.  Nothing sexual though – you’d have to find out what my wife’s Charlie Sheen Number is, for that, though I don’t think it’s much higher than mine.  Go ahead and break her off an email – I’m kind of curious myself. 

So anyway, when I see a Charlie Sheen Number way up in the nine-digit range, I’m nothing but impressed.  That’s an awfully big can of Screw You Charlie Sheen, you’ve got there, sir.  Very impressive.

What do you think, blogosphere?  What’s your Charlie Sheen number?


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What’s Taking So Long With The Personal Jet Pack?

Like most people, I’ve been sitting around drumming my fingers on my desk for a long time, waiting impatiently for scientists to quit screwing around and invent an affordable, personal jet pack to fly around in.  I know that Colt Seavers used one in The Fall Guy about thirty years ago, and although I understand that supercool, crime-fighting stuntmen get access to technology before the rest of us, I’d have thought thirty years would be long enough.

If you’re having trouble remembering how cool Colt Seavers was, or whether or not he really had a jet pack, then by all means, drink in the opening credits to the series:

The jet pack is at about the thirty-five second mark.  The way it works when you are a stuntman who moonlights as a bounty hunter is, you can pretty much go wherever you want and do as you please.  That includes jet pack storage facilities.  Also, check out Heather Thomas in that show – it looks like she’s dying:

I think she’s saying, “Dudes, I am cold and starving, you have to let me come in and have some clothing and food.”

No way, Heather!  Get outside and keep sunbathing!

Well, raise your hand if you know what it’s like to work as a bikini girl for a crimefighting stuntman.  No one?

All right then, just absorb the cultural information and stop judging.  See, the whole point of watching an educational program like The Fall Guy is to experience the world from a new perspective.  You can’t learn if you’re too focused on squawking about starving, objectified women whose ribs you can count. 

And anyway, it’s been my experience that’s how most women like to walk into a house – almost entirely nude and then a doorway pose.  They’re from Venus and we’re from Mars, baby – don’t fight it.

Now anyway, if they were that close to a jetpack circa 1985, then what has been taking so long?  Did everybody just stop caring about jetpacks?  Did we – as a nation – lose our focus?

Not quite.  It turns out, lots of scientists used to watch The Fall Guy, and there have been various attempts at marketing personal jetpacks, but my research, errrrr email box, has uncovered just a couple of not-very-impressive attempts. 

Take a look at this one, the Jetlev water-powered jetpack:

This is nothing more than cartoon technology, like when Bugs Bunny’s rabbit hole gets filled with water really rapidly and then he’s sitting on the erupting plume of water, blithely disclosing to us that this means war. 

Kind of like a wave runner on a stick.  And there’s a big hose hanging off of it – you have to keep that hose attached at all times.

I mean, it’s just shy of a jetpack that you have to plug in.  I guess, you have to plug it into water.  What the hell am I supposed to do with that thing? 

The whole purpose of a jet pack is to be able to fly wherever you want.  With this thing, you have to stay right above the water.  So sure, you can fly, just like you can fly when you tie a parasail to a boat and let it tow you around.  You could also sit in the boat, like a normal person.

That’s not flying, it’s getting flown like a kite.

I really don’t know what to make of this thing.  The only two possible uses for a jetpack are crimefighting and super villainy.  And you can’t fight crime if you’re dependent on a long, plastic hose.  The bad guys would have a field day with you, like when Foghorn Leghorn painted that dog’s Rope Limit on the ground, so he could grab him by the throat and paint his tongue green.  The hose is just asking for trouble – I really can’t stress that enough.

And then you can forget super villainy, if you have to stay above water.  Might as well call Aquaman up on the phone and just point-blank ask him for an asskicking.

I just feel like my daughters have little wafer-thin computer screens the size of credit cards, and they can take them out of their pockets and watch television on them, and retina scans are here, and they’re talking about space-time cloaks and cloning mammoths

Why is the coolest-looking jetpack from 1985? 

I mean, here’s one called the Martin Jet Pack, which I couldn’t drag the video over here for some reason, but you can see it at the link.  And sure, you don’t have to have a hose attached to it and you don’t have to be above water, but it’s about the size of a garden shed. 

Pack, dudes, jet pack.  All you guys did was make a sort of motorcycle airplane with no seat – looks cool, sure, but check out Colt Seavers circa 1985:

See how patient I’m being here?  I mean, I guess I understand if that’s actually a one-of-a-kind piece of alien technology, and since only one person in the world could have it, the United Nations just naturally gave it to Colt Seavers.

But it’s almost thirty years later.  They’re knocking on the door of actual bionics, and you’re telling me this is the best we can do in the jetpack department?

We have to do better than this, America.  Not just for ourselves, but for Lee Majors and Heather Thomas and Foghorn Leghorn and for any American kid out there who ever dreamed of being a crimefighting bounty-hunting stuntman with his own jetpack and personal bikini girl sidekick.

Look yourselves in the eyes, America.  Is that too much to ask?



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Advice For Movie Villains

It always detracts from my movie experience when I can think of something right off the bat which would have allowed the villain to win, and he or she just conveniently doesn’t think of it.  I’ll try to stay away from the obvious stuff that’s been done a hundred times – like installing a door on that Death Star Weak Spot seems like it would have been a better use of time and energy than building giant mechanical camels.

Usually the villain isn’t thought out quite as carefully, even by the great writers.  Like Tolkien for instance – remember in Return of the King, how the rules were that “no man could kill him.”  And so girls just plain didn’t occur to him. 

That little bit of sexism got him a sword in the face, and all he needed to do was email me and I would have pointed it out to him.  You see how carefully they worded this, Dark Rider Bill?  That doesn’t say anything about girls.  In fact, it doesn’t say anything about hobbits or elves or dwarves, either, so maybe just be careful out there. 

There’s more than dudes out there to worry about, you know?  Don’t get all cocky.

The time traveling robots in The Terminator series really needed some efficiency training as well.  If you’re a robot who can reach out and crush someone’s skull like an egg, then maybe the most efficient way to kill someone is to go ahead and reach out and crush his skull like an egg.  This whole pick-the-guy-up-and-throw-him-against-a-wall-then-stomp-over-to-him-and-repeat, that’s causing a lot of people to be able to reach stuff they can kill robots with.

Robots shouldn’t have a Brawl setting.  Find.  Kill.  Repair.  Keep it simple, evil robots.

Speaking of which, if you are killer robots who just took over most of the world, then just go to Arkansas and get all those chemical weapons the U.S. stockpiles and spray them all over the world.  Robototopia.

Seems like giant walking robots with smaller motorcycle robots coming out of their feet is just asking for trouble, and not a very efficient use of resources, either.  You give me an army of evil robots and I’ll kill every man, woman and child on the planet, all without leaving my Blogging Bunker.  Poison, motherscratchers, poison.  Can’t stress that enough.

Plus, you guys know you have to stop leaving the hero to die.  Remember when Jeffrey Lebowski took out Iron Man’s ARC reactor after he paralyzed him?  Just one bullet on the way out the door, Lebowski, and you would have had him. 

Don’t even get me started on the evil military forces in Avatar.  The whole reason they had to go to war against the Blue People was that they had a bunch of unobtanium under their enormous tree house.  It was the biggest deposit “in two hundred clicks.”

That really sounds like there’s a bigger deposit two hundred clicks away, and since you all came from another planet, I’m thinking you should have landed two hundred clicks away and helped yourself.

Or, if you really wanted what was under the tree, then you should build an orbital missile platform.  Then you wouldn’t have to send wave after wave of your men after them. 

Also, you might want to hire a negotiator.  I couldn’t help but notice that you claimed that you had nothing the Navi wanted, so you couldn’t trade with them.  And then I couldn’t help but notice they didn’t have any guns. 

So give them guns.  Looks like there were all sorts of other blue people around for them to shoot and rob and all that, just get them to trade their treehouse for a thousand guns.  Then mine the unobtanium while they’re bitchslapping all the other indigenous people around, and skate once global society collapses and you have the resources you need.

It doesn’t seem like I should have to tell you guys how to be evil.  Ramp it up a little, you just got your butts kicked by bows and arrows.  Oh, I forgot – get them all hooked on drugs, too.  You’re welcome.

A lot of times, just a cost analysis needs run right along side a risk-reward equation.  For example, in Die Hard With A Vengeance, stealing sixteen dump trucks of gold from the Federal Reserve is sure a lot of money, but you’re paying a staff of what, thirty people?  Building how many bombs?  Buying the dump trucks, renting what was that a cargo ship?

How many dump trucks worth of gold did that cost?  What was the Net Dumptruck Gain?

It’s just that you guys seem REALLY smart and competent, and I think that you might have done well to just start a tech company or a logistics outfit.  Same staff, a few drivers, different goals – this is America, you could do just fine without the terrorism.

Oh well, crazy is crazy.  Sorry for the old Movie Cliche’ Phone-In.  See you tomorrow.


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True Grit, Two Times

The plan for today is to watch the oringal True Grit  and then go and see the new one, and that’s probably the best plan I’m likely to come up with all year, so I kind of set myself up for disappointment the rest of 2011, but the dye’s cast.  Let’s do this.

Marilyn is anxious to watch them both, because she’s never seen the original but she read the book last week.  I got her a crazily overpriced paperback copy of it for Christmas, and she cracked it open and then devoured it in a day, while the rest of us hung around and trashed the house, ate White Castles.

I’ve seen the original as a kid, the way I saw pretty much every other John Wayne movie, sprawled out on the floor of my dad’s living room, eating chips, not really getting it.  They sort of blur together, all the westerns – that’s about all that was on television for quite a stretch, westerns and football games. 

So now we’ve finished the original, and here’s the first thing that struck us both – there simply were not a lot of great actors back then.  The way all the dialogue is flat and canned, it’s like watching Star Trek, except all the aliens are different kinds of cowboys.

I think the idea is that television and the big screen tipped the craft of acting on its ear, because for centuries they had to be loud and obvious and flamboyant in order to convey anything to a huge crowd of people.  Subtlety wasn’t really valued or noticed.  So I shouldn’t say they were bad actors, just that it was a less advanced form of it, one that’s pretty striking.

For example, there is a scene in which Rooster Cogburn and his partner are trying to leave Maddie, the heroine, by crossing a river by ferry and refusing to let her on board.  She goes ahead and swims across the river with her horse.  There’s a bunch of that big western music blasting and Cogburn goes, “She reminds me of me!”

Which feels like a brick to modern sensibilities.  He could have cracked a grin or something, and we would have got it, you know?

That’s really about the first thing people tell you when you try to write anything these days, show don’t tell.  Not really how they rolled back then.  It’s more like, everybody tells, loud and clear – and if anybody shows you anything, you can be sure someone will tell you what it is right after they show you.

Also Maddie has a really distractingly terrible haircut.  She looks kind of like a boy wearing a dress, which is fine, don’t get me wrong.  It just took me twenty or thirty minutes to realize they were going to keep it that way, it wasn’t a mistake.  My guess is, they wanted to avoid sexualizing the fourteen year-old girl, so they made sure to square off her hair for her.

Wouldn’t that be awesome if modern movie producers were always trying not to sexualize teenagers in their movies?  Like some kind of bizarro paradise land, where it rained cheeseburgers and the cars could talk. 

Anyway, it turns out this is in keeping with the novel.  Marilyn says there isn’t a hint of sexuality about the girl in the book, either – though there’s the same dread that I feel, watching this or Breaking Bad, possibly just the modern curse of knowing how often young girls are victimized  by men.  We keep expecting the worst possible things to happen, but maybe that’s because modern movies are so comfortable going there.

I don’t know if a reader from sixty years ago would have the same dread, or if that was just something you didn’t really have to worry about in your novels back then.  It certainly doesn’t seem like the viewers of the original movie carried around such concerns – the idea of a fourteen year-old girl riding around with two drunken gunslingers looking for a gang full of the same, it’s pretty much played for laughs.

Of course it’s cool watching John Wayne, but he doesn’t really seem to act, to me.  He’s again like Captain Kirk except in a sudden, shocking realization, I understand that I like Captain Kirk more.  A lot more.  In fact, I’m pretty sure Captain Kirk could beat up John Wayne – there, I’ve said it.

Marilyn says that the movie is fairly true to the book in a lot of ways, but deviates sharply at the end.  And I can attest that while she was reading the end of the book, she kept going, “Oh my God!  Oh my GOD!!   OH MY GOD!!!”

Kind of got on my nerves.  Trying to blog over here.

But the point is, none of us were saying that at the end of the John Wayne movie.  Even my youngest watched that one with us, and she got outraged a few times, but just in the way she always does when she watches old Westerns.  Why the fixation on tripping horsies and shooting horsies and running horsies until they drop dead on the ground?

Not real horsies, I assure her.  Not dead horsies.

They don’t look like comfortable horsies, she points out.  Still very shocking to her.

Now we are headed off to see the Coen Bros. version of the movie – minus the youngest daughter, obviously.  They’ve said that they weren’t so much remaking the John Wayne movie as they were making another film adaptation of the novel.  So I’m thinking at the end of it, I’m probably going to say, “Oh my God!”  Louder and louder and louder.

So I’ll be back later, and I’ll post this then.  I’m not going to post it until I get back, for Internet Safety Reasons.  Then later I’ll post about the new version, and link to it right here.


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The Species-Hopping Internet

When my friend Deirdre posted on Facebook the other day about being generally baffled and annoyed to see a show on the air called So You Think You Can Skate, I started to reply to her about all the crazy stuff that’s out there to watch these days, and suddenly, I understood something that’s been confusing me for many years.

Which is, how exactly is television going to end up as something I get on the Internet?

Because that’s what people who are more Internet-savvy than myself have been assuring me for many years.  Eventually, the Internet is where you’ll get television, they say.  The big networks are doomed – DOOMED!

The problem is, I never understood it.  On a scale of one to ten, I’m probably about a six, if Thoroughly Understanding The Internet is a ten.  I know a little more than the average guy on the street, and considerably less than the average guy on the Internet.

For a long time, the Television-On-The Internet problem was easy to articulate – you couldn’t watch television on the Internet.  Then eventually, your hacker pals or whatever you want to call them, would have their big, sweet televisions hooked up to the Internet somehow and would sit there telling you how they get fifteen thousand channels, etc.

I’ve sat in a solid half-dozen living rooms like that, squinting at monolithic screens, and yes, sure enough, that was a Desktop up there with Icons and everything.  The Alleged Hacker would tell me how he did it, what cords he used, telling me really earnestly about it, the way the mechanics tell you things. 

Blah, blah, blah – that makes sense, right?

Well, it sort of made sense.  After a half dozen conversations with those type of fellas, I understood exactly how those type of fellas were going to be watching television on the Internet.  They were going to use Magic.  Great.

But no, that doesn’t explain how the rest of us, who just got through getting our DVR Badges and are pretty happy with them, are ever going to learn how to identify cables which have names like Star Wars droids, or get their desktops up on the their television screens. 

Plus, a lot of the sites and procedures they were talking about, at least to me, were illegal.  “But don’t worry, you can’t get caught.”

I said trust me, man – I can get caught.  Anybody can get caught on the Internet.  Ask your favorite disgraced politician if he thought the Internet was ever going to catch him doing anything wrong.  The Internet is watching you, make no mistake, my friends.

A couple of things have happened over the last couple of years, though – the main one being Wifi.  Now I have something called a Router attached to my computer, and I don’t know what it does except it’s the reason I can carry my laptop anywhere in the house and still get online, unless I haven’t paid the cable bill – I usually think of that first bill, the one with no shut-off date on it, as a suggestion or a bluff.

The point is, I don’t understand Routers, but I know they’ve got the technology to the point where when it stops working, I can have the Tall Girl call the cable company, where she is patched through to someone in another country, who can then explain to her what to do to fix it.  And the Tall Girl is pretty sharp – a Red Cross Certfied Babysitter and everything.  She can usually do whatever the Router Guy From Another Country tells her to do, to get it working again.  Just like she did with the cable box, when it started to get really complicated a few years back.

So there’s a cable box, essentially, attached to my computer which allows me to access the Internet wirelessly.  That’s going to be crucial, if we’re going to watch television on the Internet, because nobody likes to crawl under the desk and plug stuff in every time they want to watch The Ghost Whisperer.

Then the next thing that happened was everybody start talking about HDMI cords, which are used to connect our computers to the big, high-definition televisions all of us obediently ran out and purchased over the last few years.  That’s how our desktops get up there – magic cords.

A weird thing to happen, just when Routers arrive to free us all of Cords in general, now suddenly there’s a new Super Cord, which pretty much turns your television screen into your computer monitor.  Just like I seem to remember being told for years, you couldn’t do.

All the while, sites like Hulu started streaming full episodes.  Also, I think every South Park episode has been available online for years.  And then Netflix showed up and said, hey man, how about streaming practically any DVD you might want to rent, right through your freaking Wii?

I thought Netflix had lost its mind – like if you told me I could watch movies on my microwave using my blender.  I said, What the hell are you talking about Netflix?  But then I had the Tall Girl check it out and it’s true.  This is how your great grandpa felt about the horseless carriage, I imagine.

Anyway, when Deirdre mentioned that there was now a show called So You Think You Can Skate, I realized – there is a show for absolutely everything.  Logging, running a pawn shop, bounty hunting, baking cupcakes, training dogs, cleaning houses, working out, customizing your semi truck, hanging out in haunted houses, for crying out loud – that’s fifteen seconds worth of thinking right there, and they’re all real shows.

I started thinking about George Carlin used to talk about magazines – there were magazines for everything in the eighties and nineties.  “Walking!”  He said.  “There’s a magazine about WALKING!” 

Slowly, the magazines turned into reality shows, as the number of channels increased and the production costs for shows like that decreased.  Watching a show turned out to be slightly easier than going out and buying a magazine and then sitting there and reading it with your mind.  All we needed were a thousand cable networks geared toward a thousand specific demographics, and holy crap – television was suddenly starting to look very much like the Internet indeed.

Now it feels like there are as many shows as there are websites.  Now all of the shows have websites.  All they need to do is start streaming their episodes from their websites instead of through networks, and then get their websites on our screens somehow.

Pretty soon, our computers are on our laps and we don’t need remotes because our television screens are the monitors.  And the only channel is whatever our brains like – the program directors are us.  And that HDMI Super Cord, don’t think they won’t figure out how to do whatever it’s doing without a big, fat cord.  They figured out the last set of big, fat cords, didn’t they?

Deirdre and I come from about the same world, one where you watch a few shows, but you’re sort of vaguely aware of practically all of them.  That’s getting impossible.  So when you run into a show like So You Think You Can Skate, you wonder how on Earth enough people are watching it.

But that’s like asking why there’s a website for finger knittting, or frog jumping, or soup.

We’re not going to start watching television on the Internet.  The Internet is simply going to spread to our televisions like a species-hopping virus.  There’s no cure for it, and we’re probably not going to want one.  The Internet will bite our televisions on the neck, and suddenly one day, we’ll realize there aren’t channels anymore, and that we don’t miss them.

So that’s the good news, Deirdre, about So You Think You Can Skate – if that’s on there, then there absolutely has to be something cool and interesting on there as well, because it means that pretty much everything is.


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Godspeed, Leslie Nielson

Leslie Nielson has probably made me laugh out loud (literally) a hundred thousand times.  The first time I saw him was in 1980, in the theater, watching Airplane!  There was an earthquake that day, right here in Ohio, prompting my father – who is also pretty hilarious – to have tee shirts made which read “I Survived The 1980 Ohio Earthquake.”

The only reason we could feel the earthquake was that we were in a theater – I think it was about a 2.3 or something – but looking back, perhaps it was more than an earthquake.  Perhaps it was a seismic shift in the foundation of Comedy Itself. 

Few actors can be enshrined in the ranks of the Comedic Greats without ever being known for stand-up.  Seinfeld, Martin, Pryor, Murphy, Carlin – all of them have nearly killed me laughing countless times, and it’s not a race.  But what Leslie Nielson effortlessly pulled off onscreen in his prime is worthy of study.  Hell, it’s worthy of statues – big ones, too.

Here are ten Leslie Nielson lines or scenes which put me on the floor the first dozen or so times they happened in front of me, not even necessarily my favorite ten, just the first ten to come to mind.

1 – “Don’t call me Shirley.”  This line is as iconic as any of them out there, like “Go ahead, make my day.” and Vader’s “No, I am your father.”  Hilarious to ten year-olds and adults alike, and a perfect example of Leslie Nielson’s deadpan genius.

2 – When Frank Drebin gets bitten on the hand by Vincent Ludwig’s priceless fish, and then accidentally stabs it with Vincent Ludwig’s priceless pen which is “Impervious to everything but water,” then drops them both back into the aquarium.

3 – When he assures the wife of Officer Nordberg (O.J. Simpson), that once he’s recovered from his injuries, he’ll have a position right here at Police Squad.  “Unless he’s a drooling vegetable,” he adds. “But I think that goes without saying.”

4 – In the original series when he’s protecting a boxer from gangsters, and they show up and tell the boxer they’ve got his girl.  They produce a purse, boxer says, “Mary’s purse!”  But Drebin dismisses it – “There must be a million purses like this in the city.”  Then her scarf, which he also dismisses.  Then her toaster, and Drebin stares at it gravely.  “Oh. My. God.”  And then the toast pops up.

5 – “You take a risk when you get up in the morning, cross the street, or stick your face in a fan.”  Got that right.

6 – “Well.”  Not many actors could make a single word so funny, but Leslie Nielson did it frequently.  For example, when he stunned Vincent Ludwig with his cufflink stun gun, and then assured the bystander that he hadn’t killed ludwig, explaining the cufflinks.  Then Ludwig falls off the stadium and gets run over by several vehicles including a steamroller, and then stomped on by the marching band.  That’s what he said – “Well.” 

6a – “Well.”  Also, again, when he’s leaving the force and cleaning out his desk and finds evidence from a previous case.  “How ’bout that, he was innocent!”  “Frank he went to the chair last year.”  “Well.”

7 – “I just want you to know, good luck, we’re all counting on you.”  This line is actually a gift to mankind – you can get a laugh with that in practically any situation involving a door.

8 – “When I see five guys in togas stabbing a sixth right out there in broad daylight, I shoot the bastards, that’s my policy.”  Except it was apparently a Shakespeare at the Park presentation of Julius Caeser.  He killed five actors – “good ones, too!”

9 – When he urinates for ninety seconds with a live microphone on him, at the Queen’s welcome ceremony.  “No matter how silly the idea of having a Queen seems to us…”

10 – When he accidentally trashes and sets fire to the office he’s trying to be sneaky and search, culminating in “Sexual assault with a concrete dildo!”  (It’s funny because he doesn’t really sexually assault anyone with it and it isn’t a dildo, it’s a concrete penis from a naked statue.)


What we need is the opposite of a moment of silence.  We need a worldwide viewing of Airplane! and Airplane 2: The Sequel!, and all of the Naked Gun movies, and if you can find them, the six original Police Squad television episodes.  Everyone on the planet should watch these movies on a recursive loop for about forty days and forty nights – that’s the scale of the loss that we’ve suffered, when Leslie Nielson moved on from our world.

Yes, gather together those rare friends of yours who don’t yet know of him, and those friends with whom you’ve grown up, giggling on living room floors in front of his ingenious antics.  Draw near your children and your parents, your enemies and your friends, and celebrate the timeless works of the Deadpan King himself.

As the Vikings and the Klingons were prone to do upon the death of warriors, let us warn the afterlife that a comedic samurai approaches, weary from a life of cracking everyone up, his Hammer of Comedy slung over his shoulder, his mighty horn blasting forth at the sight of the gargantuan, dinosaur-bone gates.  

Let the hysterical laughter of the entire human race ring across the Earth and the Heavens.  Let us  throw back our heads and cackle across the cosmos as a single, unified race, until Dr. Pepper comes out of our collective noses.  For we are all equal are we not, when we are writhing on the floor, gasping for breath, laughing our very asses off?

Let  us warn the gods and the spirits and the angels and the beasts, with our planet-spanning symphony of snorts and giggles.  Beware, we’ll tell them, for quite possibly the funniest human being to ever walk the face of the Earth approaches your vaulted halls.  On your feet, Carlin and Pryor and Candy and Foxx – Leslie Nielson is coming to crack you up for eternity, a befuddled look on his face, but he’s not befuddled, fellas.  No, he’s not.  He just knows what he’s doing, that’s all, and I know you’ve saved him a spot. 

He’ll drive his squad car on a long and slapstick route across the afterlife, to whatever Comedic Valhalla awaits the truly hilarious, and when he pulls up out front, he’ll blast over the garbage cans and not even notice.  Welcome him, with feasting and wine, with song and fireworks – but not with laugh tracks, for the Mighty Leslie Nielson needs them not. 

Godspeed, Sir.  May your soul come to roost where you can get a decent view of the world you’ve left behind, and the Category 5 hurricane of breathless laughter that has swept across it throughout your brilliant life and beyond.   Thank you sincerely for the trillions of smiles that you’ve ever put on our faces – God knows we’ve needed them, here on Earth. 

I hope you find some peace, wherever you’ve gone, and I hope your funeral is truly hilarious – I know that you wouldn’t have it any other way.


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The Harry Potter Experience

In IMAX, no less.  How was it?  It was just fine.

I decided to make it easy on myself, and go ahead and take four girls with me, two of them twelve, two of them thirteen, and so obviously when you factor in popcorn, that was eight hundred and fifty dollars. 

Security was tight – there was a guy on the door checking ticket stubs in case you decided to buy a ticket to something else and then slither into the IMAX showing with your four little girls, which I was ready to try and which I’m still sure I could have pulled off, since I’d only bought four tickets that morning.

Instead, no one was willing to fork over fourteen dollars a ticket just to see Slightly Larger Harry Potter, so it wasn’t sold out and the joke was on me – I got to pay full price.  Then there were a series of trips to the concession stand, working on a similar set of logistics to the old chicken and grain and big, chicken-eating dog conundrum.  Someone always had to sit there and occupy the seats, while someone else went squawking out into the lobby.

Cool, we got settled in, established a main base and then two of the girls established an Alpha Site at the back of the theatre, so they could giggle and fart or whatever without getting the old eyebrow furrow from me. 

Then the previews started.  Cool previews, too – I accidentally forgot what was happening and told Ellen that Tron was “going to be badass, man.”  She gave me the fish eye, said, sure, Dad, I’m sure it is.

Also the Green Hornet – the preview starts quite oddly for that one, a bunch of shots of grinding partiers and the guy from Knocked Up.  I wasn’t going to get upset or anything, so I just leaned over and backed the girls up about thirty years, let them know what the hell Tron was and whether or not I had a cool-ass shirt like that when I was twelve (yes).

Then it turns out to be The Green Hornet.  There’s a cool car and a lot of chases, and then a bunch of karate – I’m in. 

Speaking of chases, when Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows starts up, that’s pretty much what it is.  Right off the bat, we get a broomstick chase with a flying motorcycle and sidecar, and so many other flying things that it’s like George Lucas busted in with his CG effect generator. 

I have no idea what is going on – but it’s a bunch of cool-looking wizard shit, that’s for sure.  Apparently, they don’t just hang around at Hogwarts anymore.  They are in some kind of Underground Railroad for people who aren’t White Wizard Supremacists, and Voldemort – who I thought was 0-6 against Harry Potter so far, but I guess I don’t really know – is now a creepy, full-grown demon with no nose and slits for nostrils.

He’s such a dick to the other evil wizards, it makes you wonder why they didn’t all stamp him out when he was still weak enough to get his ass kicked by ten year olds, which is I think when I really stopped paying attention.  He turned out to be part of that one dude’s head, right?  And then he was a snake?  And then – hmmm.  Then I think Gandalf was getting blown up in a really tall house in the cornfields which it took me a couple of minutes to recognize last time.

Then I realized this time around, oh yeah, that was the Weasely house, however that’s spelled.  And it wasn’t Gandalf, either, it was the other one.  The one who turned out to be gay, which is cool and I mean it.

Dumbledore, yes.  Remember, Rowling just sort of piped up after she’d cashed her checks and said, oh by the way, Christians, in case the witchcraft wasn’t enough for you, Dumbledore’s gay.

Well, you can’t argue with her, if she says he’s gay, he’s gay.  You didn’t ask, but she sure told you, didn’t she? 

Anyway, then the main, wonky teen characters continue being awkward teens, while utilizing teleportation to get them from one scene to the other.  It’s nice and direct, demons attack and then they teleport someplace else and camp.  Also, there’s a funny bit about Hermione having pretty much anything they need in her purse.

From the perspective of a dad who has no idea what is going on, I can tell you that the movie was totally watchable.  It was pretty fast-paced, and nobody pantomimes any fifties songs, and nobody kills any puppy dogs.  Also, did you know that wands are pretty much ray guns now?

It’s true.  Hermione shoots about ten people, blows a bunch of stuff up.  I think I would have gone ahead and given her a sword and karate powers, too.  She’s obviously smarter and cooler than Harry is, I don’t even know why we’re following him around.  Something about his forehead.

I heard that Daniel Radcliffe has gone on record saying that he needs to talk to J.K. Rowling if there’s any truth to the rumors that she might go ahead and write more of these books, because he’s pretty much done with it.  And I don’t blame him – it’s not a very deep role, is it?

But here’s all they need to do.  Have Hermione turn into a vampire hunter, and then do a crossover novel written by Rowling and Stephenie Meyer of Twilight fame.  Kind of like Alien Vs. Predator, both of the franchises can use a boost, and when it sucks, they can always blame it on each other.

Doesn’t seem like I should have to explain everything to those two, though.


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