Monthly Archives: December 2014

Review: The Interview

I’ll get straight to the point.

  1. Mug face #287

    Mug face #287

    In the annals of doing everything that makes horrible movies horrible, this one could possibly stand alone in its horribleness. And I’ve seen Ishtar and Battlefield Earth.

  2. James Franco is the worst comedic actor in Hollywood — perhaps the entire world. If I was supposed to hate him in this film (he plays a clueless, self-absorbed talk show host), it worked — but for all the wrong reasons. His punchline deliveries were so unfunny, his shucking-and-jiving so over the top, his facial expressions so incredibly forced and rehearsed, all I felt was embarrassment for him. This, from the guy who gave a fine performance in 127 Hours. I didn’t hate him in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Oz the Great and Powerful, or Spider-Man, either (admittedly, these were all dramatic roles). But this…this was unspeakable. I have high school actors who know how to be funny. Franco? Not funny.
  3. Strangely, the guy who plays North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un gives the only performance remotely worth watching. (The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy runs a close second.)
  4. If I were the real Kim, I’d be offended, too. Not for being portrayed in a movie that involves a plot for my assassination, but rather for being portrayed in the same cinematic space as James Franco, who is perhaps the worst comedic actor in the entire world.
  5. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that the whole ridiculous mess was cooked up by Sony.
  6. To say this film is satirical is a brazen insult to satire.

OK, backtrack a moment.

  1. I’ll admit: I don’t like bathroom-and-body-part gross-out butt-and-flatulence humor. The movie’s unrelenting obsession with hind ends got old pretty fast.
  2. I stand by my previous statement that making a movie like this was a stupid idea, obviously foreshadowing a less-than-glowing review.
  3. I know, I know. Geez, consider the source. We’re not talking Terence Malick here. I get that. But we’re not talking junior high boys looking at Penthouse, either. (Or maybe…hmmm)

Wilson Morales said it best in his review for Black “[It] feels like a Saturday Night Live sketch that went longer than it should, with the writers having nowhere to go after the laugh meter reached its peak early.”

And it’s not that I hate silly, stupid movies — I don’t, necessarily. But I like silly movies to have some redeeming qualities: 1) good acting, 2) a decent story to tell, 3) well-drawn characters who, at some point, encourage the audience to “pull” for them, and 4) a memorable script. The Interview had a lot of stuff…just not anything slightly resembling 1-4.

Bottom line: While I thought the whole thing was pointless and distasteful, I think part of it could have been salvaged by a better actor in the lead role. Perhaps James should step away from comedy and stick to writing poetry, or, I dunno…hosting the Oscars, maybe.

Other than all that, it was great. Me? I want my $6 back from YouTube.

On the Rat-O-Meter scale of five cheeses, I give The Interview RtB’s first-ever:



Post-Yule RNFs

Holiday greetings to all of my 100 loyal readers around the wide world full of 7 billion souls. :-)

I hope those who celebrated Christmas and Hanukkah had a wonderful time with family and friends, and that those who celebrate Kwanzaa (starting today) will enjoy this special time of year as well. I say HAPPY HOLIDAYS because it’s my wish for you; not because I’m trying to be PC or that I wish to downplay Christmas. I love Christmas! I love the symbolism and the message, having been brought up in a Christian home, but I am not at all offended when someone wishes me a happy holiday. (And I’ll not even start on the “keep Christ in Christmas” thing today, or this happy post will degenerate into an unhinged harangue…)

Conversely, I cluck at people who feel it their duty to point out the ubiquitous “Jesus was not born on December 25th.” So what? Biblical scholars have researched the story, and while many agree that there is no hard-and-fast scriptural proof — indeed, the evidence leans decidedly away from December — that the Nativity took place in the dead of winter, it doesn’t bother me in the least. We don’t know when Remy or Pax were born, so we chose a day to commemorate their birth. Does that make their birth any less important? Psh. Who cares? Let’s celebrate it, and all naysaying negative Nancys can move to the back of the train. Away from me.

We had a great family Christmas celebration at our house on Christmas Eve (although there was a huge absence because Helen and the A’s were all down with the flu, ugh), followed by a trip to Cleveland. We came home and relaxed with a movie, and I read myself to sleep. It was a good day, and I hope yours was, too.

Strangely enough, even though I have a metric ton of work (I won’t mention what it is, but its initials are d-i-n-n-e-r-t-h-e-a-t-r-e) staring me in the face, I’m on the web this morning, searching out fun baking recipes. This, after spending a half hour on the treadmill at 6 a.m. Rat Fink, Rat Fink…

What do you think of these? I might try them, then forswear dinner so I can have a couple.

The Thriller and I are going to watch The Interview this weekend. A review will be forthcoming.

For those of you in the private sector, it’s Friday, yay! Enjoy the weekend. I’m off to try to get something accomplished today.

Confessions of a Packrat

Yep, ‘fraid so. This rat packs. Waaay too much, in fact. And last night, I received a packrat’s dream gift: stuff.

Miss Kitty, BFF Kay’s mother and a sweet, sweet lady until her passing coming up on one year ago, was a fellow rat packer. I mean, pack ratter. I mean, she was just like me. She kept stuff.

Now you might not think it’s cool, and that’s all right. That’s the way we p-rats roll: we keep what *we* think is cool. And this, I must admit, is downright frosty. Behold:

What’s that pile of garbage, you ask? Why, it’s 44 gift bags, all in pristine condition, dating back probably 20 years. She received a gift, and boxed the bag. Received a gift, boxed the bag. Received a gift…you get the idea. I recognized the yellow one with the purple flowers and stripes; it contained a gift we gave her several years ago. And who knows how many bags were lost along the way. Still — they’re all mine, and I will pack them away until the next birthday, baby shower or Christmas event. After all, it’s worth the pack-ratting if the stuff has an eventual purpose, right? Of course right.

A bit on the funnier side was the other half of this booty. Some may think it strange, but knowing that Miss Kitty was born in 1925 and lived through the Great Depression brings much of this behavior into better focus. Here is a small sampling of the wrapping paper — some intact in its packaging, but most just random scraps — I inherited last night:

And we’re talking hundreds of scrap pieces, many looking like they’re from the 1970s. It’s awesome. And little jewelry boxes? Likely a dozen of those, in all shapes and sizes. Even some gift bows, sticky name tags, and partial rolls of ribbon. And they’re all my preciouses. As soon as I feed the three hungry dogs at my feet, I plan to go into the dining room and arrange the bounty in one box, and have the Thriller store it in the basement utility room.

I love things and stuff, don’t you?

In praise of Aussies


Not the people from Australia (though I’m certain they’re lovely), but rather it’s the Australian Shepherd that gets the press today.

A blue merle puppy

Aussies aren’t really from Australia. They’re American dogs with a murky history involving their association with Basque shepherds who emigrated from Australia to the West Coast during the 19th century. According to the American Kennel Club, they’ve gone by many names: Spanish Shepherd, Pastor Dog, Bob-Tail, Blue Heeler, New Mexican Shepherd, and California Shepherd.

People who love dogs often zero in on one type or breed. Lap dogs, big dogs, shepherd dogs, terriers, retrievers — there are as many reasons for a particular affinity for one pooch as there are pooches in the wide world. I don’t know why we’ve gravitated to the Aussie, but we definitely love their faces, their silky coats, and their silly, quirky ways. In fact, we want more than the two we have, and that could cause some issues down the road. We’re hemmed in where we are, and the house is barely big enough for the four of us. This will take some thought.

Here's a red bi-color, identical to our Pax.

Here’s a red bi-color, identical to our Pax. (Pax has also been called a red tri and a red dilute.)

Aussies come in 16 colors. Lucy here is a red merle, who's totally white on her top half.

Aussies come in 16 colors. Lucy here is a red merle who’s totally white on her top half.

As members of the herding group, Aussies are extremely alert, intelligent, loyal, and work-oriented. Unlike pups who just want to lie around and be spoiled, Aussies need a job to keep their brains engaged. The dog park for our boys is essential to their sensory workout requirements. They need to run, run, run, every day. Run, sniff, discover, warn, chuck each other, and bark, bark, bark. They love the dog park for this, and we love the fact that they come back exhausted and ready to settle down. They know the drill very well.

The breed has some striking characteristics, not limited to the famous crystal blue eyes. (Both of ours have brown eyes, which we like.) Most popular is the “Aussie smile,” a whimsical mouth-shape phenomenon that delights owners and makes for great photographs. Other fun — although maybe not exclusively Aussie — mannerisms include lying down with crossed front paws and taking complete naps on their backs.

So why do we love Aussies? Well, speaking for myself, I love their coats, their cute faces, their playful nature, the way they “talk” to you, their cuddly behavior, and their overall striking beauty. They turn heads every time we take them out on a walk.

Our boys.

Our boys, taking a breather at the dog park.

We’ve talked about adopting a black tri-color when the time is right (meaning when we get another house on more land). Until then, we’ll enjoy Remy and Pax in their natural habitat: our hearts.

In other news: Mama Fink is done with school for the next two weeks. Time to celebrate around here with family and friends, and by taking on a boarder for the weekend. Oliver is coming to visit, which will likely delight Pax, but send Remy into a tailspin. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s a non-stop party here at the Fink house. ;-)

Happy weekend, fiends!

One more and done

After the gig this morning at the nursing home, we close the door on another Christmas season. Shew! It’s been a good couple of months, but I’m glad the insanity is coming to a close. Just get me through Friday, and we’re good.

Random neuron firing:

The Thriller and I had a discussion over dinner last night about the recent developments around the film The Interview, and Sony Pictures’ decision to not show it. Two stances were considered:

  1. Sony is allowing itself to be bullied into submission by faceless terror hackers. If we bow to it now, what’s next? Seriously, it’s North Korea, and they’re holding the entire United States of America hostage because Kim Jong-un can’t take a joke? Lighten up already. It’s our First Amendment right to make a film that offends; the Constitution makes no ruling on what comprises good or bad art. Stop being sissies.
  2. Seth Rogen made a movie about a sitting dictator, who’s likely a raving sociopath, occasionally creeping up on psychotic. Again, for clarity: someone thought it would be cool to make a worldwide chump out of a frequently violent, cuckoo-brain 5150 who has nukes. And Rogen used KJ-u’s likeness and his position in a comedy of all things, where the main focus is the hilarity of two bumbling idiots trying to assassinate him. Have we not read the news for the past three years? Do we not know what a hair-trigger wackadoodle this guy is?

The question (one of the many, actually) is: Where do we draw the line between patent refusal to kowtow to threats from deranged extremists, and taking seriously the rantings of nut-butts who just might go through with a threat that would jeopardize thousands of innocent cinemagoers — not to mention the many employees of the movie theaters who have to report to work and stay there through repeated showings? Is a movie causing widespread panic really worth it?

Remember back in ’88, when The Last Temptation of Christ opened, and folks flipped out? Here’s what was said (New York Times, 13 August, 1988):

At the Directors Guild of America headquarters this morning,  movie directors John Badham, Warren Beatty, Peter Bogdanovich…Sydney Pollack, George Sidney and Elliot Silverstein defended Mr. Scorsese’s right to his artistic vision and, in the words of a statement by the guild, ”the right of individuals to decide for themselves what they will see and think.”

Mr. Beatty said people must support Universal and Cineplex Odeon in their ”effort to resist pressure groups” and to encourage studios ”to continue to finance and distribute material that is not so safe.”

Mr. Brooks, who won an Academy Award for ”Terms of Endearment,” said he was ”frightened so many of us had to come here this morning to express the obvious.” Mr. Pollack, an Academy Award winner for ”Out of Africa,” said: ”Christianity survived for 2,000 years. It will survive Martin Scorsese’s $6.5 million movie.”

Clint Eastwood, who was not in Los Angeles, sent a succinct message: ”Freedom of expression is the American way.”

It may be the American way, Clint, but America is not the only nation in the world, and honestly, Americans have embodied that irresponsible assumption with great vigor in one way or another since the Second World War. But that’s a discussion for another day. This day is for getting over with, and tonight is for BAKING WITH MAVIS! HUZZAH

Still, feel free to weigh in below. Truthfully, I see both sides of the argument. I can’t imagine the gargantuan headaches Sony corporate has suffered over this ordeal, compounded by the fear, humiliation and anger that is no doubt wreaking havoc as a result of the recent enormous breach in their communication systems. It’s an ugly world sometimes, fiends. Makes you shake your head and quote TDN:

How can people be so heartless?
How can people be so cruel?
Easy to be hard; easy to be cold.