“the bear is the master of the Arctic”

i think i’m about to do this “pull random stuff off the internet and make light of it” thing for a couple of weeks in a row now, and i don’t even have any shame about it. sure, i could find something to blame it on (i’ve been on vacation for the past week, as long as for “vacation” you accept a definition of “sitting in my kiddie pool drinking beers” or something along those lines), but why bother? this is the kind of thing i like to do. so without further unnecessary lead-in… actually, i shouldn’t say “unnecessary.” it always feels necessary. but here’s the main article now.

Paris Hilton, America's most famous stupid whore
that’s right, we’re going to start things off again with another demonstrative image from our good friends at South Park

Paris Hilton “earned all this”

is it just far too easy to complain about Paris Hilton? i mean, the material is obvious: she’s famous for being famous, or famous for being a whore and/or blindingly stupid, and none of these things should be held in high esteem; she’s a disgrace to her distinguished family or something; South Park can do a much better job of this and i shouldn’t even try. all true. but since i’m bitching about random stuff on the internet, here’s the quote in question:

“”My house is kind of like a reflection of my life and my accomplishments and what I’ve done,” Paris says in her serious voice. “And I’ve done it all on my own. When my parents and my grandfather came over for the first time, I was so proud. It just feels good to like walk around and be like … I earned all this, you know? I see some of my friends I grew up with from rich families. Their parents spoiled them and they never made them work and just give them an allowance. And now they’re like 30 and still living off the parents, having to ask for everything, being on a budget. It’s nice to feel accomplished and independent. I don’t have to depend on anyone but myself.””

the one thing i will grant her –the ONE THING– is that she’s probably not living off her parents in the same way the other children of rich families are. but Jesus fucking Christ, this quote. can we not hear the “i’ve done it all on my own” comment in the same breath as “some of my friends I grew up with from rich families” or “their parents spoiled them and they never made them work?” really? YOUR PARENTS SPOILED YOU AS WELL. I DOUBT YOU WERE REQUIRED TO WORK AS A YOUTH. WHAT THE FUCK.

East Timor officers looking for... ninjas?
at least they’ll be ready for these “ninjas” when they find them; plus, i have to admit that it’s pretty cool to see some guys rocking the Steyr AUG in an actual, real world, non-movie situation

Timor police declare war on mysterious ‘ninjas’

let me cut right to the chase: ninjas are some of the most overrated garbage out there (a claim i base mainly on a combination of Spike television program hype, that fucking Vanilla Ice “Ninja Rap” abortion of a song, whatever the hell happened to Richard Chamberlain in Shogun, and every eight-year-old everywhere thinking “ninja”-anything is cool as hell) and i really want no part of them. but people are admittedly going to love them and go wild for them no matter what i personally say or do, so i might as well be an adult and come to terms with that fact. but all that being said, i thought we could all agree that ninjas are a) largely fictional and/or b) largely confined to Japan’s past. and yet we have this coming at us from East Timor:

“DILI — East Timor police have declared war on mysterious “ninjas” accused of murder and subversion in a new twist to the young country’s struggle to establish security. The latest whispers of ninjas to transfix the nation emerged after the murders of a 15-year-old girl in the western district of Bobonaro on December 22 and a baby boy in Covalima, also in the west, on January 19. Police chief Longuinhos Monteiro donned full military gear to lead the operation, telling reporters that “any ninjas who want to take us on, your final stop will be Santa Cruz cemetery”.

i couldn’t even get past processing the declaration of war on ninjas before that awesome “any ninjas who want to take us on” remark. i can’t hate on that. but this is still essentially really crazy; ninjas are seriously on the loose somewhere?

But many observers dismiss the ninja threat as a political game and suggest the authorities are using techniques of social control learned from the Indonesian army’s brutal 24-year occupation. “It’s a method used by the Indonesian military to limit the movement of the citizens,” said Rogerio Viegas Vicente, programme manager for leading Timorese human rights group HAK Association.

oh… well, that’s more plausible. but why ninjas? why not just say “terrorists” or something? everyone in the modern world accepts terrorists as a legitimate, viable classification of people that, you know, EXIST (except for those people that believe in “tiger cats,” but let’s just ignore them).

Indonesian death squads referred to as ninjas terrorised villagers and reports of masked ninjas committing crimes have persisted since formal independence in 2002. In 2008, residents of Dili and the northern coastal district of Liquica reported that ninjas were trying to kidnap their children.

okay, okay, so they’re not “the ninja of Japanese lore,” they’re Indonesian death squads. whew. except the messed-up part is that everyone seems to enjoy the concept of these ninjas being NINJAS and thus comments in a way that furthers that:

“The Australian government’s travel guidance advises citizens to avoid “martial arts groups” in East Timor — an apparent reference to youth gangs that have fought street battles in recent years.”

come on, “martial arts groups?” that HAS to be the sword-swinging, shuriken-throwing kind of ninja! or then we get statements that no man can take seriously, which then results in me making light of a serious social situation wherein people are getting abused and murdered:

“Police launched a full-scale anti-ninja operation-“ full-scale ANTI-NINJA operation? ahahahaha
“Twenty members of dissident political group CPD-RDTL and underground political organisation Bua-Malus were arrested on February 5 on suspicion of involvement in “ninja” activities.” involvement in “ninja” activities? ahahahaha
“An investigation by HAK researchers found evidence of police abuses including … “speaking sharply to people” who would not admit to being ninjas.” i’m not even going to repeat it, the joke is apparent. AHAHAHAHA

come on, East Timor, get it together.

Steny Hoyer and a classy University of Maryland, College Park mascot
seriously, i would probably prefer to vote for the mascot

Top Democrat Regrets Slamming Critics as Un-American

i’m going to be honest here and admit that i’m nitpicking with this complaint, largely because i don’t like Steny Hoyer very much; i frankly don’t care much for long-standing Democrat politicians from Maryland who, true or not, give me the impression that they feel entitled to “their” seat, and i can’t for the life of me think of some legislation that Hoyer’s pushed for that really made me happy. sorry, i’m petty like that. anyway, my beef comes from the contrast in these two passages:

“”That was not a good phrase, not a good use of language. It was not correct,” the Maryland Democrat said of an op-ed column he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in USA Today last summer. The article was a response to protesters who disrupted town hall meetings on their party’s health care reform proposals, hanging members of Congress in effigy and railing against “death panels.”

Hoyer told reporters that while “there are some activities that are not consistent with civil engagement,” he said he regretted having read the column too quickly before approving it.”

so it’s stated that he regrets having said something in a column that he “wrote in USA Today last summer” … and then immediately that gets followed with “he regretted having read the column too quickly before approving it?” garbage. look, he didn’t write the op-ed, someone in his office (along with someone in Pelosi’s office) did, and he just approved it. so either say he wrote it and continue the illusion for the whole piece, or just call it something his office put out, okay? okay. now we’re all happy.

and now, let me close with this from a previous topic of mine: Vladimir Putin. why, it’s Vladimir Putin… comforting a polar bear?

Vladimir Putin and, yeah, a polar bear
yeah, comforting a polar bear

Vladimir Putin saves the Arctic polar bear in latest animal adventure

and that title isn’t comedic at all. this is what he does:

The action-man Prime Minister was filmed attaching a tracking device to a sedated polar bear and helping scientists to measure and weigh the animal during a visit to Franz Josef Land in Russia’s Arctic far north. Wearing a monogrammed red winter jacket, Mr Putin stroked the 230 kilogram (507 lb) bear and shook its paw, saying “be healthy”, while a commentator for state television told viewers that it could “wake up at any moment”. Mr Putin, who asserted Russia’s “profound interests” in the region during his visit, declared to the camera: “The bear is the master of the Arctic.”

AND PUTIN IS THE MASTER OF THE BEAR! well, at least this was more macho than Putin kind of, sort of denying that he is homosexual. that was much more awkward.

at this point, i think we should all make lists of things we want to see Vladimir Putin do. here’s my short one:
–pull a thorn from the foot of a magical talking lion, who may or may not give Putin all his treasure? (eh, it was the olden times);
–something involving giant squids, like wrestling one or harpooning one because he heard there was gold in its belly;
–travel through time, to the year 3010, and fight evil robot kings (and save the human race)

that’s right, my list is composed of completely unoriginal jokes. i hope you caught all the references! and that’ll do us for another week!

in which we show a picture of Muhammad even though i hear you’re not supposed to do that

because i’m spending a lot of my time this week involving with serious, demanding tasks like “tasting beers to figure out how best to describe them for sale” and “preparing to sell mass quantities of beer, weather permitting” and “unspecified Rumple-Minze-related activities,” i’m going to take the lazy approach this week and do the thing where i post up a bunch of random nonsense i’ve seen on the internet recently (that term may loosely apply in one of these cases) and make a little fun of it and/or get totally outraged by it. do i do this a lot? i do this a lot. but it’s for a good cause this week. so let’s get right to it:

Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha and... Joseph Smith?
rather than showing what Muhammad looked like in the bear costume, here’s the harmless original depiction of Muhammad from “Super Best Friends”

death-threatening Islamic group scores censorship win over South Park

let’s start this thing off with me being completely fucking outraged. so here’s the brief recap: South Park once showed an image of Muhammad in season five’s episode “Super Best Friends” (as part of their Super Best Friends fighting the Blaintologists), and it was no big deal; Muhammad was just a regular dude in clothes using his fire powers to fight crime. later, however, Comedy Central would censor Muhammad in season ten episode, “Cartoon Wars Part II.” ironically, this episode had a plot point about, quote, “Kyle persuades a Fox executive to air the Family Guy with the image uncensored, while echoing Parker and Stone’s sentiments regarding what should or should not be censored.” the censorship was done by Comedy Central and is officially lame.

now that was bad enough, but when they came out with the fourteenth season episodes “200” and “201,” they AGAIN addressed this controversy, specifically noting how the season five episode was no big deal, and making a running joke of not showing Muhammad (although he was shown in the “censored” form from season ten a couple of times). Comedy Central THEN decided to FURTHER edit the episode “201” to bleep out ANY mention of Muhammad’s name, as well as… well, let me just quote Parker and Stone:

“In the 14 years we’ve been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn’t stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn’t some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle’s customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn’t mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We’ll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different and we’ll see what happens to it.”

and then Comedy Central decides to not only not allow them to stream the show uncensored online, but ALSO goes back and stops the streaming of the season five episode where Muhammad was depicted. and all this because either a) some obscure radical Islamic group Revolution Muslim claimed that South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone “would probably end up like Theo Van Gogh,” a statement that should absolutely get some people thrown in jail and a challenge that, it seems, Parker and Stone welcome, b) Comedy Central is currently run by RAGING douchebags or c) all of the above.

so here’s basically my position at this point: fuck Comedy Central. now, i love South Park and so i will continue to watch it, but beyond that, from this point on, i will not watch any program that network airs. now, this gets tricky because a) i am ultimately going to support CC by watching South Park and b) i can’t really protest the larger company (Viacom) without having to protest other networks i generally enjoy… so ultimately i’m going to piss and moan about this and not accomplish much else. but now that the rest of you have heard how ANGRY i am, mission accomplished!

Stephen Baldwin... bankrupt?
this man, who may or may not be the moral equivalent (or even superior) of Job, needs your help

Stephen Baldwin needs your money to spread the gospel and not be bankrupt

basically, here’s the summation: Stephen Baldwin is a bad actor related to better actors, such as Alec Baldwin, who may be a disgusting human being, but who is at least a solid actor. somehow, possibly related to his inability to act, he has gone broke. however, he attributes this to his conservative, born-again beliefs. now, on the surface, okay, i can see the argument. Hollywood’s pretty liberal and it’s reasonable to assume that decisions cut against the more right-wing folk if all things are equal. i mean, if you’re going to hire a terrible fucking actor, go with one that you like personally, right?

now, this is where it gets strange (or at least stranger): Baldwin has set up a website to help combat his personal brokeness that attributes his total lack of spending money to him being born again: “However, because of this convictions it has caused him the loss of many jobs and the most recently, a highly publicized bankruptcy.” i would be remiss if i did not imply that his poor grammar there MIGHT have affected it in some ways as well, but let’s keep it moving. anyway, it strikes me that guys like Kirk Cameron have become religious as hell and not gone broke, even if that means being in only movies and projects that are, well, religious as hell. but i can’t expect anything that rational from a guy who compares himself to Job. that’s right, fucking JOB. seriously? seriously:

“The Story Behind The Vision: Job
Job was the most inflential man in the east, (Job 1-3) he was a man of great wealth who stood up for righteousness and his God. However, there came a period of time where Job went through great distress and testing. He lost his children, his health, his home and wealth. Throughout this pain and suffering, he stood in faithfulness to God and would not turn his back on Him. Because of his faithfulness, Job was instantly restored by “All Who Knew Him””

and yes, the “restored by “All Who Knew Him”” part transmutes to Job being restored by “Token Gifting.”

“How Was He Restored: Token Gifting
Everyone knows that God restored Job, but do they understand the mechanism of his restoration? Job was restored by the people. By “All Who Knew Him”. This website was created to see a rebirth of that mechanism. If the people of God come together and each give a small “Token Gift” we can see a massive restoration of a Christian public figure and all the glory will go to God. Its simple, will you take part in the second ever All Who Know Him event?”

wow… just, wow. thou shalt not be so shameless, Stephen!

random half-naked Eagles fan... for some reason?
what i have tried to do here is find a really random, stereotypical picture of a disgusting Philly fan so that you can picture him as you read the next section

this is going to involve “Philadelphia fans” and “11-year-old girl,” so try not to freak out prematurely

now, okay, i get that making fun of Philly fans of whatever sort they might be is a little bit of an old joke at this point (i mean, come on, the fuckers booed Santa Claus) and in some respects, makes me a slight bit defensive (let’s go Flyers! let’s go… well, 76ers, just try your best, and that’ll be good enough!). but sometimes they do something so over the top that i’ve just GOT to make note of it. and what, in a city of violent, loud, aggressive fans could now qualify as “over the top?” well…

The Easton, Pa., police captain [Michael Vangelo] had gone to a Phillies game with his two daughters. They were unlucky enough to sit near a couple of drunks, who kept cursing and spitting and sloshing beer. Vangelo complained to stadium officials, who hauled off one of the men. His partner, 21-year-old Matthew Clemmens … stayed behind and expressed his displeasure. He put his fingers down his throat and vomited on Vangelo and his 11-year-old daughter.

jesus fucking christ. what was Vangelo’s reaction?

“I never experienced anything like that before,” Vangelo said.

indeed! look, Philly fans, i get that you guys really do wear the “violent, loud, aggressive” thing as a badge of honor (the above article lists many additional classy moments in Philly fan history). you think i DON’T have pride in the fact that, for example, every NHL fan knows how ridiculous Flyers fans can make a game in Philly? still, i think we should all recognize that every behavior should have limits. so if we HAVE to vomit aggressively onto opposing fans (and i’m not even sure Vangelo IS an opposing fan)… maybe not onto the children? let’s leave them out of it?

unrelated note: as a child, i didn’t think i’d ever be using the phrase “vomit aggressively” on the internet. how times change!

random cars all smashed up... for some reason?
this brings us to our new regular feature on house of hate: me posting random photos of smashed-up cars and then declaring “THOSE DAMN KIDS CAUSED THIS”

LI teen has a sick way of looking at bright side of death

i think we all know i love to hate on this modern generation of those damn kids that won’t stay the hell off my lawn! some might even say it’s because of my salty nature and not because of anything those damn kids have done, although anyone who says THAT deserves to be smacked in the mouth due to their failure to recognize how terrible these damn kids are. still, i think i might have a story which, if accurate, will not fail to make my point.

so this 18-year-old named Kayla Gerdes was driving a van while full of OxyContin and then ran down and killed a 69-year-old woman who was a former doctor (and not the kind of Nazi doctor it’s cool to kill with impunity). this is pretty terrible and a solid reason to hate on kids, but what makes this really ridiculous is some of the choice comments she’s supposedly on the record as saying to investigators, such as:

–that “the thing that made me not feel so bad was, she was old,” which is NEVER the kind of thing you want to tell people investigated what time of crime you should be charged with;
–how she wanted “to see a newspaper of the news, to see what I look like,” which is just pathetic, basically;
–that supposedly, immediately following the fatal accident, she flagged down someone and declared “I’m late for court. You have to take me to court!” she was supposedly due to appear for “allegedly stealing her mom’s jewelry” … and the article claims she was NOT heading towards the appropriate courthouse;

now this kid probably just said all this dumb shit because she was high as hell (really) and i’m sure when she’s sober she probably realize what a MAJOR inconvenience it is to kill someone. i mean, that time in court is REALLY going to eat your day up now. damn kids!

okay! i think we’re done here for the week! time for some rest!

old-ass white guys never fail to appreciate “Mack Daddy”

so recently i was forced into taking a class to get certified to sell alcohol legally in Maryland, and so we’re going to talk about that this week. actually, to be fully anal-retentive, it was to fulfill a function necessary in Maryland for a business or event to sell alcohol legally, but you see how much less fun that sounds? exactly. actually, the class was okay — any time the instructor is some perpetually-amused old dude, it can’t be all THAT bad — but as always, i spent some of my time taking notes about things to make fun of later. so here we go!

lips that touch liquor shall not touch ours
actually found this picture while searching for “really disappointing fellow attendees”; the internet is totally in on the jokes tonight

basic failure to follow instructions running rampant

now, a lot of this is going to come under the heading of “really disappointing fellow attendees,” so let’s start on the most basic level. the average attendee was a guy who owned or worked for a business, so you’d think they’d be able to follow directions, right? not exactly.

–class attendees were requirement to have valid photo ID… so of course a couple of people forgot theirs, either completely or in a circumstance where one showed something random, was told “i have no idea what this is and there’s basically no way i could ever accept it” and then seemed to have a shitty/cocky attitude about it. sir, you were too fucking stupid (or criminal or whatever) to have real idea; you are not allowed to have an attitude about it.

–class attendees were told NOT to turn off their cell phones, just to put them on vibrate and step out to take calls. this, frankly, seemed like a generous attitude from an older instructor, as the older generation (you know, people aged 32+) tends to hate furiously on cell phones interrupting them in any way. so of course the guy sitting directly in front of me, and also directly in front of the instructor, has his phone loudly go off… twice. sir, there were TWO times you should have fucking set your phone on vibrate. step it the fuck up.

–when we finally wrapped up the class and took our test (lessons learned: don’t sell alcohol to intoxicated people or minors), my test had answers written all over it by the previous user. instructor notes “this brings me to my next topic: do not write on this test.” two minutes later, a student in the back has a question, and the instructor goes to answer him… and then i hear it: “(sigh) sir, as i stated, do not write on the test.”

but these are merely the minor, momentary chuckle notes of stupidity. there were some larger ones.

wine wine wine
for the record, all this wine counts as alcohol. this will be important to remember later

basic failure to use critical thinking running rampant

–so at one point, we’re talking about ways in which we have cut people off from alcohol service; this is not something i typically do (given that i, you know, don’t work in the alcohol-selling industry), but most everyone else has a reasonable tale or general explanation of how they handle it. some are nice (“i explain to them what i’m prohibited from doing while i remove the alcohol), some are gruff (“i jerk the beer off the counter and say ‘next customer'”), but all seem to understand the concept… except for this one lady, who says “oh, i’ve never done that, i’ve seen people quite intoxicated not get cut off even when they should have been. wait, maybe i shouldn’t be saying this.” yes, ma’am, that is correct, you should not be telling us this in class. did i mention she somehow managed to do very, very poorly on the easy test? yeah.

–now, people in the class are from different areas, so there’s discussion as to the nuances of various liquor laws; something i completely understand. until one guy and the instructor have a conversation that goes roughly like this:
student: “okay, i have question. in Prince George’s County, we cannot sell alcohol on Sundays, right?”
instructor: “yes, that sounds right, you can’t sell alcohol in PG County on Sundays. sure.”
student: “so, can i maybe sell a small amount of alcohol? like, a small amount of rum, vodka?”
instructor: “wait… are you talking about non-alcoholic products? O’Doul’s or something like that, if it’s considered non-alcoholic, that you can sell. it’s not regulated the same way.”
student: “okay, okay… so wine, it has less alcohol than alcohol? can i maybe sell wine on Sundays?”
instructor: “no… no… that-”
student: “oh, oh… so beer, it has still less alcohol than wine? so i could sell beer on Sundays?”
instructor: “class, what you’re going to want to do in situations like this is to contact your local liquor board to clarify what you cannot sell and when you cannot sell.”

Richard Pelzman
this dude: spotted in a video for this class; try your best to care

random observations

–so at one point, we’re watching a video on recognizing signs of intoxication (or lack thereof) in customers. now, this isn’t to say the video was good or bad, but all i mainly took from it was spotting the appearance of Richard Pelzman, who you may remember as “Little Big Roy” from season two of the Wire (and once in season five, but mainly season two). i don’t know if this means i love the Wire THIS MUCH or just didn’t pay 100% attention to the video or what, but it sure means something, right? any connection to the greatest show ever can only make this class better, right?

so our hero janklow passed and that’s that. some Guinness (and tangentially related beers) will be surely sold in the near future. onward and upward!

Sir Mix-A-Lot
he’s really going to be upset when he hears about the next part of this update…

this has nothing to do with the previous topic

in case you found all that boring (possible) and not interesting or funny in the slightest (even more possible), here is a ridiculous news story i read during the past week that might bring laughter and/or disgust to your face:

WaMu lenders sang ‘I like big bucks’

you might initially assume that this is simply an article about Washington Mutual and its semi-recent “largest bank failure in American history” event and presume there aren’t many laughs there… but hold on, because that’s not what this article is about at all. because if you keep reading:

“But a 2006 WaMu retreat produced one of the more cringe-worthy moments of the mortgage meltdown: Lenders, on the eve of their industry’s collapse, singing “I Like Big Bucks” to the tune of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s 1992 hip-hop hit “Baby Got Back.” The details were unveiled Tuesday in a hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which has conducted an 18-month look into the failure of WaMu and the lessons it holds for the financial system.”

excuse me? i don’t know what’s more ridiculous: the fact that a bunch of old-ass white guys were rhyming awkwardly about economics to the tune of “Baby Got Back,” or the fact that these details were “unveiled Tuesday in a hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.” somehow, the latter is worse.

“The Karaoke-style ode to greed – complete with faux WaMu rappers tossing play money into the crowd — took place in a room full of mortgage lenders who at the time were still churning out billions of dollars in high-risk mortgages.”

fucking white people.

“I like big bucks and I cannot lie/You mortgage brothers can’t deny,” sang the WaMu rappers.
The presentation, which included cheerleaders moving in time to the music, and choreographed moves by the singers, continued:
“That when the dough roles in like you’re printin’ your own cash/
And you gotta make a splash/
You just spends/
Like it never ends/
Cuz you gotta have that big new Benz/
All of that bling you’re wearin’/
Shining so bright peoples starin’/
It’s crazy, I gotta ski Aspen/
That’s all I’m askin'”

note that this is taken verbatim from copies of what the WaMu personnel sang from. now ask yourself what’s worse: what you just read, or the fact that they misspelled “rolls.”

and people wonder why i say i don’t know if i believe in America anymore.

if you don’t want to be counting the fingers you haven’t got, i suggest…

for some years now, our narrator janklow has been foretold to one day be that salty old man who sits on his porch, possibly with some sort of scatter-gun, yelling at those “damn kids” for whatever offenses they might be committing that day until whenever it’s time for him to be shipped off to that inevitable nursing home to be poorly fed and possibly robbed by shady orderlies. and frankly, it’s possible that i AM that salty old man right now. so it might not come as much of a surprise to you that when there’s a colorful, salty old man in a movie, it makes my day.

so just for that one reader out there who “needs more “13” lists” (you know who you are), here we go with a totally unnecessary one about awesome old dudes in movies. and just for the sake of… uh, whatever? randomness? sure, for the sake of randomness, i’m going to try and make this about supporting characters only. how delightfully specific!


honorable mention: William Munny (Clint Eastwood) in Unforgiven (1992): Munny is old and, as you might have guessed from an Eastwood character in a dark, modern western, the saltiest man of all time; he kills the hell out of many deserving people and further notes that he’s “killed women and children … killed everything that walks or crawls at one time or another.” but, you know what, he’s not a supporting character.

Captain Harris
“where are you going to pull back TO, lieutenant?” it’s a lovely fucking war, indeed

13. Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) in No Country For Old Men (2007)
so wouldn’t you know it, i’m going to start this listicle off by cheating, because Bell is secretly the main character of this story. the key word is secretly, because you (and most everyone else) would be forgiven for thinking that Moss (Josh Brolin) is the ACTUAL man character here… but you’d be wrong, and if you ever have the pleasure of reading the book, you’ll realize this as you note how the narrative is structured around Bell’s story. but more to the point: he’s fairly salty and serves as a low-key stream of comic relief for the film, and that’s cool.

12. Fifi (Roger Ward) in Mad Max (1979)
granted, Fifi’s got the least salty name of all time (although there’s GOT to be something to be said for a man about whom no ones smirks when they use his sobriquet “Fifi”) and definitely rocks some weird neck-related attire in this feature, but at the same time, he’s also got outstanding facial hair and a gruff nature, and these are classic salty old dude characteristics. plus, “grizzled motorcycle cops” is the perfect field for salty old dudes to work in.

11. Captain Harris (Dale Dye) in Platoon (1986)
granted, Harris gets very minimal screen time in this film, and his character is clearly torn on the debate between moral correctness (Dafoe’s side) and unshakable killing machines who themselves cannot be killed (Berenger’s side), but if it makes you feel better, consider this a tribute to ALL of Dale Dye’s salty old man roles. i’m pretty sure he’s never played a character that wasn’t a salty old man, even in Under Siege. still, he does have one of the best salty-old-guy-in-a-war-movie lines ever: “for the record, it’s my call. dump everything you got left on my pos. i say again, expend all remaining in my perimeter. it’s a lovely fucking war.”

10. Mr. Eckert (Harry Dean Stanton) in Red Dawn (1984)
okay, okay, i’ll admit it: if you’re in a movie i really, really love (and maybe, just maybe, have ridiculous stickers promoting on my car), all you have to do to make this list is a) be old enough to qualify as old on the most tenuous of levels (father of Patrick Swayze = check), b) be salty enough to the same extent (modern-day mountain man hunter in Colorado who drinks deer blood = check) and c) have a classic line of dialogue (boys … AVENGE ME! = check). and there you have it.

the Stranger
“the Dude abides. i don’t know about you but i take comfort in that. it’s good knowing he’s out there … taking ‘er easy for all us sinners.”

09. Jean-Pierre (Michael Lonsdale) in Ronin (1998)
okay, Jean-Pierre isn’t a particularly salty old dude, and he’s easily far from the baddest dude in this film, which is sort of to be expected when Robert De Niro and Jean Reno and Sean Bean are going on a guns-blazing-and-cars-crashing rampage across Europe, even if Bean comes off as sort of a bitch in this movie. but that’s besides the point! anyway, Jean-Pierre is more the resigned old dude who helps you perform surgery on random guys in his house, talks about samurai a lot, and makes world-weary statements like “at the end of the day we are likely to be punished for our kindnesses.” i can relate. okay, maybe not to the surgery thing, but you get the idea.

08. Egg Shen (Victor Wong) in Big Trouble In Little China (1986)
another awesome kind of salty old dude is the kind that seems both patient with the lack of wisdom possessed by the young (exemplified in this case by Kurt Russell, who may pack a flowing mane of 1980s hair and some stellar reflexes, but isn’t much in the brains department) AND to have magical powers. or maybe they’re religious powers? considering Shen’s declaration about this all being “a mixture of Buddhism, “Confusionism,” and Taoist black magic … we take what we like and throw the rest away,” who the hell knows? but if there’s ever an old dude who has a magical drink that can make you see things no man can see and do things no man can do… well, you drink that man’s drink! and then just watch out for lightning and so on.

07. the Stranger (Sam Elliott) in the Big Lebowski (1998)
again… not the saltiest guy in the world. but we’re still talking about an old guy with cowboy apparel and an absolutely peerless mustache who combines a laid-back demeanor with some classic old dude wisdom (“sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes, well, he eats you”). and if you doubt his old man credentials, well, just keep in mind that he loves sarsaparilla while seeming to object to rampant expletives. and every single old person i know LOVES sarsaparilla and HATES profanity. i know, i know, it seems crazy. it’s just how old people are.

06. X (Donald Sutherland) in JFK (1991)
sometimes, life seems overly long and overly complicated and dominated by the unsubstantiated and inherently wishful (despite the fact that calling the beliefs in question “wishful” feels wrong) theories of weird people … and those are the times when i make these long-winded comparisons between life and the movie JFK. and at those times, i wish i had a salty old man named X (or whatever, his name is not the most important thing) show up and quickly explain a massive amount of information and events to me quickly and concisely so that my life could progress more smoothly. doesn’t that just sound nice?

Barry the Baptist
“oh, you must be the brains of the operation”

05. Eddie Temple (Michael Gambon) in Layer Cake (2004)
Gambon is definitely one of those guys made to play salty old men; he’s so good at it than i can, if i try, forgive him for taking part in the goddamn travesty that was the film Mobsters. but that’s okay, because into each life, a little rain must fall. or, to put it another way: “you’re born, you take shit. you get out in the world, you take more shit. you climb a little higher, you take less shit. until one day you’re up in the rarefied atmosphere and you’ve forgotten what shit even looks like. welcome to the layer cake, son.” amen.

04. Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley (Sam Elliott) in We Were Soldiers (2002)
occasionally, there are salty dudes who are so salty that you’re pretty sure they can’t be killed, and that you might suspect, deep down, could burst out of their coffins and administer an old-fashioned old dude’s ass-kicking should you, say, get out of line at their funeral, or any other place adjacent to their coffin. Plumley was (is?) one of those guys, and it never gets old to hear one of his angry, angry declarations, whether it’s “Custer was a pussy” or “gentlemen, prepare to defend yourselves” or “if any of you sons of bitches calls me grandpa, i’ll kill you.”

03. Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) in Reservoir Dogs (1992)
this role probably shouldn’t have had a fake name like “Joe Cabot”; Lawrence Tierney should simply have been playing “Lawrence Tierney” and more attention should have been paid to explaining how the sloppy mess that is Chris Penn could have sprung from his loins. Lawrence Tierney’s children are assuredly a cross between gargoyles and bulldogs. he also makes me want to work this exchange into my daily usage: “so, you guys like to tell jokes, huh? gigglin’ and laughin’ like a bunch of young broads sittin’ in a schoolyard. well, let me tell a joke.” i can at least remember to growl at non-tippers and call them cheap bastards.

02. Barry the Baptist (Lenny McLean) in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
now, Barry the Baptist is a salty, salty old dude in this movie, and frankly, as much as i love Vinny Jones’ various psychopathic characters, and as over-the-top violent as said Jones characters get… i still find Barry the Baptist more ominous (and infinitely more salty, as Jones is never salty, only deranged). this is, of course, because of Lenny McLean possibly being, at one time, “the hardest man in Britain” and fighter in, presumably, hundreds and hundreds of bare-knuckle boxing matches. should i separate the man from the role? alas, i cannot. also, 1998 was really a good year for salty old dudes in movies.

Wade Garrett
“a man puts a gun in your face, you got two choices: stand there and die, or kill the motherfucker!”

01. Wade Garrett (Sam Elliott) in Road House (1989)
given how Sam Elliott has already dominated this listicle (this would be his third entry on this listicle) and given how obsessed i am with Road House… really, what was the likelihood that this wouldn’t be entry number one? he fights youngsters and advises them not to eat urinal cakes!

in which i steal Bruce McCullough’s idea and relate it to literature

and now, janklow with an open letter to Nicholas Sparks in light of his commentary on his work and the work of others.

Nicholas Sparks

well, why did you do it? are you some sort of jerk or something? do you really not understand the difference between quality literature (such as that written by Cormac McCarthy) and terrible literature (such as that which you have written)? are you yet another author that doesn’t understand that merely comparing yourself to better authors does not make you a better author? do you understand that financial success (which i ultimately do respect from authors) is not the same as critical success? or that the amount of money you make is never going to make your writing better?

so let’s get into it: Nicholas Sparks – he of the Notebook and A Walk To Remember and Dear John and Message In A Bottle and, most infamously hated on by janklow, Nights In Rodanthe – has recently made some comments that are in danger of putting him on the Bill Callahan list. the Bill Callahan list, you ask? well, in the past i’ve commented on my great hatred for Callahan, and some of those who know me know i have declared i would fight Callahan on sight. but it’s not even a matter of CHOOSING to fight him; at this point i think it’s a primal, genetic response. if i was to be driving and see Callahan walking down the street, i probably wouldn’t be able to help myself: i’d slam on the brakes, leap out yelling a variety of profanity and fight him. and probably lose, but that’s besides the point.

so let’s get right to the article, because it is full of nonsense at which to rage:

Nicholas Sparks, Miley Cyrus share a ‘Last Song’ love story

LOS ANGELES — Nicholas Sparks has no love for people who call his stories “romances.” The mega-best-selling author of The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John and Message in a Bottle stands in the aisle of Book Soup, literally and figuratively defending his turf. “If you look for me, I’m in the fiction section. Romance has its own section,” he says toward the end of a long conversation. Sunshine streams in from Sunset Boulevard. He’s smiling. Hard.

what indicates a douchebag writer is when the guy starts claiming his work doesn’t deserve to be lumped into a section it clearly does. does anyone make the claim that the movies based on those books aren’t romance films? isn’t that the entire reason that all girls love the Notebook? and yet Sparks can’t admit that his successful romances are romances. for example, i know Stephen King wishes, deep down, he was a “serious” writer, but does he try to claim that ‘Salem’s Lot isn’t a horror book? “if you look for my book about the vampires, you’ll find me in the FICTION section!”

“I don’t write romance novels.” His preferred terminology: “Love stories — it’s a very different genre. I would be rejected if I submitted any of my novels as romance novels.”

oh come the fuck on. if you’re going to call your fake-as-hell genre “love stories,” then just call them romance novels and get into a discussion about how you’ve elevated them from some ridiculous Harlequin romance pulp into something that classy ladies love to read and touch themselves to before they drag their sad, sad husbands/boyfriends/whatever to in theater form. because at least MAYBE you’d have a point there.

Nights In Rodanthe
yeah, i don’t know how i could look at a cover like this and think “romance”

“Mmmmm, OK,” he says. “I think, above all, the characters in my novels feel universal to the readers. I feel as if, when they read them, they can feel — for instance, if you take The Last Song— that ‘I know a 17-year-old like Ronnie.’ And these characters are by no means perfect, but when the going gets rough, they do the right thing. People want to say, ‘I would do that.’ “

on the one hand, i see the point here, but on the other, it sort of seems like an excuse for boring, generic characters. shouldn’t your characters seem more unique? should they ALL “feel universal” as if you know them?

Sparks says: “I’m going to interrupt you there. There’s a difference between drama and melodrama; evoking genuine emotion, or manipulating emotion. It’s a very fine eye-of-the-needle to thread. And it’s very rare that it works. That’s why I tend to dominate this particular genre. There is this fine line. And I do not verge into melodrama. It’s all drama. I try to generate authentic emotional power.”

you know, when you’re telling someone how you “dominate” a genre of books – while earlier, mind you, you claimed that your novels inhabit this mysterious genre that you seem to have created and be the sole inhabitant of – and you’re telling them how “very rare” your ability to do so is, you yourself are the living embodiment of melodrama. see, Sparks, i don’t think you actually get the difference between drama and melodrama:

drama: “a composition in verse or prose intended to portray life or character or to tell a story usually involving conflicts and emotions through action and dialogue and typically designed for theatrical performance” or “movie or television production with characteristics (as conflict) of a serious play; broadly : a play, movie, or television production with a serious tone or subject.” does this sound a little general? yeah, it should. drama doesn’t mean “evoking genuine emotion.” drama can be BADLY DONE.
melodrama: “a work (as a movie or play) characterized by extravagant theatricality and by the predominance of plot and physical action over characterization.” wow, doesn’t this sound kind of like something that would have “universal” characters and:

But, well, he always does kill someone by the end of his tales, usually to maximum handkerchief effect.

…and plots that predominate over their characters by their predictability.

“Of course!” Sparks says. “I write in a genre that was not defined by me. The examples were not set out by me. They were set out 2,000 years ago by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. They were called the Greek tragedies. A thriller is supposed to thrill. A horror novel is supposed to scare you. A mystery is supposed to keep you turning the pages, guessing ‘whodunit?’ A romance novel is supposed to make you escape into a fantasy of romance. What is the purpose of what I do? These are love stories. They went from (Greek tragedies), to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, then Jane Austen did it, put a new human twist on it. Hemingway did it with A Farewell to Arms.”

so now we have Sparks comparing himself to the great Greek writers and Shakespeare and Hemingway, and this is generally where i start getting annoyed. for one thing, it’s poor form: you should let others make such a comparison IF it is apt. for another, it’s shocking wrong. you have to write your shitty books the way you do because Greek tragedies were written a certain way? huh? there’s been NO progression in fiction ever? and third, you DO write in a genre defined by you! we started this piece with you claiming to write in this fucking fake “love stories” genre!

i’m not going to shed any tears for Jane Austin, however. i hate her works. garbage! that said, Shakespeare’s work needed a “human twist” from Austin? excuse me? was he writing about robots?

Ernest Hemingway
apparently this man is the closest author to the great Nicholas Sparks

That’s one of his favorites, and he points it out as he walks the aisles of the bookstore. “Hemingway. See, they’re recommending The Garden of Eden, and I read that. It was published after he was dead. It’s a weird story about this honeymoon couple, and a third woman gets involved. Uh, it’s not my cup of tea.” Sparks pulls the one beside it off the shelf. “A Farewell to Arms, by Hemingway. Good stuff. That’s what I write,” he says, putting it back. “That’s what I write.”

oh, excellent. when in doubt about your ability to convince anyone you’re a real writer with your own work to base that on, just think of a popularly renowned book and claim “that’s what i write.” what the hell is that even based on?

i’m reminded of that time when Ann Rice made a comment about how she didn’t need an editor because you wouldn’t imply that someone like Hemingway needed an editor… when Hemingway did, in fact, have a goddamn editor. if you’re going to compare yourself to a well-regarded author, at LEAST know what you’re talking about.

Cormac McCarthy? “Horrible,” he says, looking at Blood Meridian. “This is probably the most pulpy, overwrought, melodramatic cowboy vs. Indians story ever written.”


i could get long-winded about this, but i’ll just boil it down to this: Nicholas Sparks, where the fuck do you get off making a comment like this? you are not fit to READ McCarthy’s books, you moron.

Even hearing a passage about a sunset in which “the mountains in their blue islands stood footless in the void like floating temples” doesn’t sway him.


Cormac McCarthy

Cyrus pipes up: “The Catcher in the Rye. That’s my favorite book.” She smiles. J.D. Salinger’s classic may be, by law, every 17-year-old’s favorite book.

mine was, incidentally, the Talisman. fuck it, i stand by the selection to this day.

Sparks’ favorite tale of youth? “I think A Walk to Remember,” he says, citing his own novel. “That’s my version of a coming-of-age.” He pauses and adds: “You have to sayTo Kill a Mockingbird is an all-time classic.”

seriously, you’re asked about your favorite youth work and you mention YOUR OWN GODDAMN BOOK? and then you pause to add another book that, while a good book, tells us nothing about your personal taste? maybe that latter part is too demanding – popular and well-regarded books tend to be popular and well-regarded for a reason – but you mention YOUR OWN GODDAMN BOOK as your all-time favorite? what the hell.

Any he thinks are overrated? “I don’t like to say bad things about others.” Except McCarthy? “He deserves it,” Spark says with a laugh.

Sparks, i hope all the bad things in life happen only to you.

Blood Meridian
unlike the Notebook, this is the kind of book people with intellects discuss

Asked what he likes in his own genre, Sparks replies: “There are no authors in my genre. No one is doing what I do.”

but remember, he also says “I write in a genre that was not defined by me.” furthermore, he’s willingly cited his OWN BOOKS when asked about his favorites in fiction. now, i suppose he could presume he’s being asked solely about current authors (a fair assumption) and thus demure on those grounds… but then why not just say “oh, in my own genre? i like MY OWN TERRIBLE BOOKS!” because it’s not like you’ve proven reluctant about self-promotion, Sparks.

When others (James Patterson?) are suggested to him, he keeps his lips pursed.

it’s awesome to me that the equally-shitty-but-not-writing-books-like-Sparks’ Patterson is mentioned as a peer of his genre. this makes me smile.

Sparks cringes at the word: romance. But since it comes up again, isn’t he kind of splitting hairs with this whole “love story” vs. “romance” thing? “No, it’s the difference between Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet,” he says. “(Romances) are all essentially the same story: You’ve got a woman, she’s down on her luck, she meets the handsome stranger who falls desperately in love with her, but he’s got these quirks, she must change him, and they have their conflicts, and then they end up happily ever after.”

honestly, it seems like he thinks the difference between “love story” and “romance” is that the former has a sad ending and the latter has a happy ending. i also don’t think he should be criticizing anyone’s simplistic story-telling.

Some might say that’s the plot to Nights in Rodanthe, apart from the happy ending.

sounds like the interviewer’s even getting a little salty. awesome!

Sparks disagrees. “No, the themes in love stories are different. In mine, you never know if it’s going to be a happy ending, sad ending, bittersweet or tragic. You read a romance because you know what to expect. You read a love story because you don’t know what to expect.”

maybe it’s been a little while since i was in school studying all this literature stuff, but i really don’t think the difference in the way a book ends changes the “theme.”

Is it annoying when someone doesn’t see the distinction? “Uh, no,” he says. “But it has been a struggle.”