Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Henry Cavill Has an Awesome Butt, and Everything Else I Learned from "The Tudors"

You know how I'm always a few years behind the curve? Well, I recently "discovered" the Showtime series The Tudors on Netflix. Man, I've never seen anything quite as awesome as The Tudors. I'm only at the beginning of Season Two, and I've never been so entertained. (No spoilers, please, I really want to know if those Henry and Anne kids can work things out.)

I think the dirty little joke here is that the whole series is a joke, but nobody bothered to tell the audience. Instead, because there are actual historic figures involved, and everyone is wearing sumptuous costumes which get ripped off a lot, the audience feels like it's getting a marginally educational experience. It's like Masterpiece Theatre by way of Zalman King.

Personally, I've learned nothing, aside from the fact that Henry Cavill has a bare ass for the ages.

I'm not one of those tiresome people who squawk over every historical inaccuracy. It's nerdy and picky, like that guy from my college dorm who would count bullets during action movies and complain bitterly whenever anyone popped any extra shots.
I don't care about Henry's magically disappearing older sister, or that everyone dies in the wrong sequence and Anne Boleyn was by most accounts not half as hubba-hubba as Natalie Dormer. I don't even care that the costumes are often centuries off target, not to mention a bit skanky. People, it's entertainment involving boiling people to death like so much human ramen! Scads of nudity! And thuddingly bad dialogue interspersed with awkward pauses. (Really. It's pretty obvious the actors are waiting politely for the P.A. to turn over their cue card.) And it's hilarious that everyone goes commando for every occasion, like a RenFaire Lindsay Lohan.

Plus, all those inaccuracies open the door for further entertainment. In this world, the strapping (not to mention ginger) Henry VIII is a skinny brunette man-bitch who whines a lot. And, to show age, the costumers just sort of add a bit of extra padding and some unfortunate facial hair.

However, the finest moment of all, the second I realized that the writers hadn't even cracked open Wikipedia, let alone a book, came up over the weekend. They showed Henry VIII composing Greensleeves. Yes, I know there's a legend that he wrote it for Anne Boleyn, but sheesh. It's a style of music that didn't even exist yet. Henry would have needed prodigous musical talent, a time machine, and a magical compositional leprechaun to whisper the tune into his ear. And even then he probably would just come up with "Chopsticks."

At that point, I decided The Tudors is taking place in that purgatorial sideways place all my Lostie friends are complaining about. Next, I fully expect a scene where Henry VIII invents the hot-air balloon, meets some space people, founds a rock band, and then fakes his own death so he can retire with a robot Anne Boleyn, complete with pop-off head and detachable polydactyly. I bet they'll even set up household with a vampiric Catherine of Aragon (played by Jessica Rabbit).

In the comments, tell me if you nitpick inaccuracies in TV, and whether that makes you a doink. Or tell me what happens next on The Tudors, and be as inaccurate as you'd like. Or admit that you know who Zalman King is. I won't judge you, I promise.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cluck You Very Much: A Chicken Bus Travelogue

Everyone knows the routes from D.C. to New York. Planes are for the people who haven't figured out that flying is an overpriced time suck, Amtrak is for the people who are willing to pay the "Dahling, I don't do buses," surcharge, Bolt and Megabus are the province of the hipsters, and the Chinatown bus is for, well, the sort of humanity generally only experienced via film and television. Me? I like a good freakshow, and I love the Chinatown Chicken Bus.

Why do I call it the Chicken Bus? Because all that was missing from last weekend's ride was a live chicken, and perhaps a dice game in the aisle and an albino banjo player.

The ride began with various bus company employees gesticulating wildly, trampling one another in their haste, sorting us into a line, and hurling luggage into the bowels of the bus with resentful venom. The driver had a trendy mullet and a phone that blared snippets of dreadful pop music as we lurched our way through a hailstorm.

The women behind me yapped their way across the miles, question talkers both, with nary an oxygen break. One complained bitterly to the other about being pushed out of her family's business. Of course, the fact that she was the sort of person who would loudly air private family information on a crowded bus might have branded her as unprofessional, but I'm not one to offer free career advice. (If I was, I would have told the intern I shamelessly eavesdropped upon during a previous Chicken Bus journey that yes, interns do answer phones, and no, that did not mean their work was "unfulfilling.")

After the first few hours, I thought to myself, "Oh, well, at least it can't get worse." A moment later, both women popped in some globs of chewing gum so they could slurp and smack their way across New Jersey.

The best part was the journey home. The two Question Talkers were in our bus line! I turned to my travel companion and, between clenched teeth, stated that I would lose. my. MIND if those women sat anywhere near us. I said a little prayer to Getoff Mylawn, the Patron Saint of Curmudgeons. My prayers were answered and the yappers moved to the back of the bus.

The victory was fleeting, however, as my new neighbor turned out to be a woman who ranted in sub-Saharan French, while shoveling noxious-smelling kebab into her mouth with nary a break to chew.

In the comments, tell me if you've ever ridden a Chicken Bus.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

This Just In: I'm a Pervy Unicorn

I don't know if y'all saw this, but if not, go read it. Now. It's too delicious to pass up. I'll wait. Tea Party Washington Post chat.

Hi, welcome back! It seems the 'liberal media' allowed this gentleman to speak for himself, which involved just enough rope for reputation suicide and maybe a DIY doorstop or two. This Judson Phillips gentleman came across as a raging loony with a somewhat adversarial relationship to the truth. However, he brings up some valuable points:

1. If you don't buy health insurance, our secretive Socialist dictator president will throw you in jail.

2. Moderates are losers, because they don't believe in anything. That makes them worse than liberals.

3. But if you're a liberal, boy howdy. You're a child molester and embarrassed by our country, and not one of the 'real Americans.' (I'd love to hear how a moderates, who are worse than liberals, are worse than child molesters, but that could just be me.)

4. Does my status as an Imaginary American exempt me from taxes? Because, if so, that would be awesome.
5. Bill Clinton was president in 2004.

If you add it up, as an East Coast liberal, I'm a perverted unpatriotic unicorn. I've been called many things over the years, but that's a new one. I'd like to salute Mr. Phillips for his creativity.

I believe in disagreeing without demonizing. In learning something new via intelligent discussion. I like my satire with a side of sugar. And, most of all, I believe in being fair-minded. To that end, I ask my readers to find me a left-wing Judson Phillips. Someone out there who is ridiculous, prone to stretching the truth until it can be turned into a thousand paper cranes, and, moreover, is prone to hurling misinformed insults when cornered. Bonus points if you can find me some juicy quotes I can rip apart with my bare hands, like a plate of shrill, ignorant fried chicken.

The 'winner' gets satirized in an upcoming post.

In the comments, find me a left-wing Judson Phillips. Or debate whether the entire Tea Party movement is an elaborate prank to make conservatives look as misinformed and ridiculous as possible.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The More Things Change...

...the more I stand behind some woman who is overcompensating for deficient arithmetic skills by micromanaging her grocery purchases.

I've expended a lot of calories over the years by ranting about my Safeway. It was a nexus of incompetence, wilted vegetables, long lines and short fuses. Now, it is freshly made-over. It's spit-shined, glamorous, and full of cheese bars and nut bars and shiny floors. They even sell wine. And the produce no longer looks like it was grown in a freeway underpass and watered with moonshine.

But let's get back to those nut bars. They're not just a kind of food, they're a way of life at my Safeway.

See, in all the reconfiguring, nobody really came up with a way to make over the customers.
Sunday, I was swanning about my fancy Safeway, skipping my way down the aisles and shopping for fancy cheese. By the time I got to the register, I had a heavy basket and somewhat diminished patience.

Line selection at an urban grocer is a do-or-die proposition. If you choose poorly, you'll lose hours of time. You'll get the folks who want to haggle over prices, or, one better, the people who don't realize that money is exchanged for goods or services. So they stand there, numbly, not sure when or how they should pay. (Hint: Now. With money. Your magic beans are no good here.)

I stood behind a woman who seemed relatively organized. Her cart was neatly lined up. She had her wallet in her hand. I was reassured. That is, until I saw what she was doing. Mayonaisse. On the conveyor. $2.99. Nod approvingly. Bread. $1.79. Total $4.78. Nod approvingly. The cookies can go on the conveyor, too.

I know that game. The customer slowly, gradually, infuriatingly puts one item on the belt, checks the total, and stops when they hit the amount of cash they are carrying. Then the player will scatter any leftovers around the register area, creating an obstacle course for the patrons and a cleanup job for the staff.

As a Nats fan and divorcee, I know when I've been defeated. So I moved to the next register over. There was one woman ahead of me. Yogurt. $.79. Lunchmeat. $3.50. Total $4.29.

Spectacularly, impossibly, I had stumbled into the Urban Grocery Olympics. The I Have Exactly $30 on Me for Groceries Event. And the women in both lines were going for the gold.

On a more comforting level, it's nice to know that gentrification hasn't changed the basic character of my neighborhood.

In the comments, tell me about your favorite event in the Urban Grocery Olympics.

The usual caveat: Lots of you know where I live. That doesn't mean you should mention it in the comments (lots of creepazoids out there.)