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As the Rat Says….It’s Summer Baby May 15, 2008

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants.
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Summer’s here. And though the time may be right for dancing in the streets (I hear they’re dancing in Chicago, and amidst the debris, down in New Orleans), it also signals that time of year when the fat teat of Hollywood opens its’ lactation period and spills upon us the glorious milk that is the summer blockbuster. Ever since Steven Spielberg showed us (or rather didn’t show us) a giant shark trolling off the coast of New England like R. Kelly at a Hanna Montana concert, summer movies have been part of the fabric of pop culture. Maybe it was the splendor, maybe it was the sun drenched women, maybe it was the theme music (Which eerily sounds like the hum of a 1968 Frigidaire) maybe, just maybe it was Richard Dreyfuss when he had hair and didn’t sound like he was trying to impersonate the Great Gildersleeve in every film, but Jaws did something to Hollywood and to the moviegoer.

Save for teachers, students and the small percentage of America who makes their living from snowboarding, nobody has their summers off anymore. Which means that the blockbuster is your escape from the monotony that is the real world (and I’m talking about the actual real world and not your special time with strangers who have stopped being polite).

Now I am not going to give you a laundry list of the films that are coming out this summer. There are a number of fine publications which have done that already and we all need to keep Roger Ebert’s heart working by reading what films he’s excited for this summer. And unless you are living under a rock, with the Rock or glued to your couch watching Rock of Love reruns, you know what’s coming out. You’ve seen the trailers, the posters and probably even eaten an Iron Man extra value meal (now fortified with extra iron…). No, I am here to discuss the proper ritual one must undergo to watch the blockbuster. These are not your ordinary films and usual candor must be thrown out the window. The art house films you see in December Theater jockeying for awards season and giving us a chance to watch Jack Black get serious so he can win an Oscar are a different breed. Hollywood has spent billions on making sure the robots, aliens and explosions look so real you swear they exist. And we as a people owe it to them to give Hollywood the same respect they gave us (Save for them releasing The Hottie and The Nottie…Hollywood was going through some stuff and was really drunk that weekend…it’s sorry…didn’t you get the Facebook message?) With ticket prices roughly now on par with a Toyota Previa, it’s important you make the most of your moviegoing experience.

First, go in the afternoon. Most theatres have AC nowadays which will provide cooling for your skin. Plus, most obnoxious kids are still home sleeping. Plus that mosquito noise is usually blaring the day. It will also leave you your nights free for knitting, a rousing game of Risk with the autistic kid from next door or a good old fashioned evening of pissing on people’s doorknobs. Plus prices are often cheaper in the afternoon. These are called matinees, which I believe comes from the French word for “Cheap Bastard.”

Next, don’t try to sneak in your own snacks. Sure, we’ve all done it, but think of the candy magnates. Without the inflated marked up price gouging, they couldn’t routinely offer you deals at your local deli, like 99 cent Nutrageouses or they would have to shut down their candy research center that gives us things like Mint M&M’s. And the soda companies would have to shut down many of their local bottling plants, meaning that your Coke will have to travel further to get to you and will often taste like malted battery acid or Fresca. Besides, who wants to feel like they are dropping off a shiv or file at Sing Sing.? Every pimply faced ticket ripper or ex-con who refills the popcorn grease will be eyeing you. Sure they have no idea you are smuggling in enough Smarties to feed Uganda for a year, but your guilty conscience will weigh on you. Each time you crinkle a wrapper and pop open the Pringles, you will be worried that ushers will be dropping from the ceiling on tethers like Navy Seals and remove you from the theatre. And the blockbuster demands a clear head, less you start seeing the plot holes big enough for John Goodman to tumble through.

Watch the promos. Don’t arrive with seconds to spare where you have to break Carl Lewis’ 800 meter dash world record just to make it before the credits begin. Get there early, settle in and watch the promos. Heck, even watch the pre show ads and absurdly easy movie trivia they show before the show. It will make you feel smarter and prouder of your education. And you’ll be satisfied to know that you know where Jim Carrey went to college. The promos also set the mood. They whet the appetite of things to come, the amuse bouche of films if you will (and you did cause you just read it.) Plus, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a preview not suited for all audiences and you may get some boob or an F-word or a shot of Morgan Freeman’s ass (which is known as a “Preview a trios” in the rare event that those three amazing instances all occur in one promo.)

Turn off your phone. Unless you are about to have a child, are a doctor or a member of some sort of undercover body guard force, you do not to be contacted for two hours. Your bar is not going to call you with a peach Schnapps emergency or the office isn’t going to burn down cause Jan from Accounting can’t find the White Out. This is Hollywood’s alone time with you. Savor it. Go with it and Escape (and yes, Hollywood does like pina coladas.)

Now, always sit in the center. The combination of the AC, the speakers and that weird BO from the guy in the projection booth all meet somewhere in the theatre center like some vortex of amazingness. It is there you will truly immerse yourself in the movie experience. That and there’s usually less gum on the seats in the center. The Vortex of Awesome will not allow gum. That and Republicans, just FYI Middle America.

Now, watch the film. DO not speak to friends and say things like “Did you see that?” Did they get there before you did? Are you watching the film with Andrea Bocelli? Of course they did and so did everyone else. And never shout out predictions of the ending, no matter how Shyamalanian the film may be. You will be wrong. Everybody is. If the movie’s ending was that easy to figure out, it would star Ashton Kutscher. Take in the sights, the sounds, the bon mots, and the implausible ability of everybody to survive life threatening injuries. It’s Hollywood.

To cap off the film, leave the theatre immediately and let the oppressive heat smack you in the face. Watch out, the sun will hurt your eyes like radioactive Visine. You will probably look like you just woke up from a nasty hangover to everyone outside, so bring sunglasses. If you do not own sunglasses, feel free to bring a visor or some stem cells to jam into your eyes giving you super human retinas. Call your friends. Tell them how awesome the movie was. If they have already seen it, call them a douche or any combination of the word douche and anything (I’m partial to “douche sweater” myself.) If they have not seen, rub it in. Mock their inability to pay 12 bucks for a movie. Laugh at their blockbusterless existence. Then ask to borrow five bucks.

Follow the above steps and you will enjoy your summer experience. Keep in mind though; you can alter these steps to fit you, provided you stick to the basic tenet. The only exception is if you live in South central and are going to see any film starring a member of Murder Inc. Then bring a flak jacket.

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Do You Want A Reason To Get Up Before 8 AM That Doesn’t Involve a McGriddle January 7, 2008

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants.
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Oscar Season is beginning to heat up much like the meth lab Britney Spears keeps in the 23rd bedroom in her home (It’s out back just past the solid gold bidet and the life size cut out of the original Cooter from the Dukes of Hazard.) The entries are all in (as the rules state that the film must have been released in 2007, so sorry One Missed Call) and the nominees are probably already hermetically sealed in an envelope.

So let’s say you are an actor or actress who has been shot down more often than Tom Cruise at a WNBA mixer. You have one dream. Not to win, but just to be nominated. A nomination for an Academy Award is like a red wine stain on a white shirt: it is impossible to shake and it will follow you everywhere. It precedes your name no matter what you do (Yup, Snow Dogs was advertised as starring Academy Award winners Cuba Gooding and James Coburn) and it even raises your tax bracket (until you do a movie led the aforementioned Snow Dogs and realize that to pay for your addiction to Hummel figurines, you need to sell some Hanes underwear in a series of sexually ambiguous commercials set in an alternate universe where Michael Jordan has his own talk show….Apparently in that alternate universe, the Magic Hour was HUGE!)

You don’t necessarily need to win. Heck, if you live long enough and don’t do too many appearances on the Lifetime network, they’ll give you one anyway and call it a lifetime achievement (A Lifetime for no Lifetime!….savory the irony….tastes like Dr. Pepper, don’t it?) You just want them to announce that you were nominated and most of the time, it doesn’t even have to be a great job. Maybe you were due. Maybe everybody else sucked that year and you are recognized simply on not sucking as much (the Joaquin Phoenix theory of acting). Or maybe, just maybe you followed these simple steps. Because if you do, you’ll be shown quickly in the audience once and have to try on your best “That piece of shit won?” face.

First, determine the type of actor you are. Are you the budding new generation ingénue? Are you the long suffering character actor whose claim to fame is being called out by the guy next to you at Hooters for being “that guy” in “that Bruce Willis movie?” Are you the actor who has simply coasted on your good looks in a string of straight to DVD features and often find yourself wondering which Tara Reid vehicle best defined your career?  Once you can say you know who you are, then you can move on to step two.

Second is choosing the role that defines your type.  If you are the character actor who often plays the same type of role, your nomination will depend solely on the bon mots you get to throw around during the movie. I can venture to say that Jack Black, who is Jack Black in every film he is in (save for Nacho Libre where’s he’s Jack Black with a Spanish accent), will get nominated when he pratfalls and eyebrows his way into a well written script. If you are the ingénue, tackle a classic role. Sleep with somebody who will gladly let you tackle one of the biggest roles in literature in history (Though be careful not to surround yourself with too much talent in a big period piece…Leelee Sobieski is still waiting for that Joan of Arc movie to pan out). And if you are that guy, it’s simple….play disabled, mentally or physically. Get bonus points for actually spending a few hours with somebody who has said affliction. Or play fat when you’re thin, thin when you’re fat. Basically, don’t be you. You isn’t working. If you was working, you would be garnering seven figure checks and not rushing to get to your scene study class with the guy who played the dad on ALF.

So once the role is chosen, number three is, well, luck. You need the planets to align just right so somebody actually sees your film. You can be awesome in Critters 7: Seriously, They Greenlighted This? But if nobody watches it, then it just goes on your reel. You need the film to open at the right time. Maybe Tea Leoni garners a nomination for her stirring journalist in Deep Impact if she wasn’t overshadowed by the hotter, poutier, less clothed Liv Tyler in Armageddon. Two women in two asteroid movies cancel each other out, like positive and negative ions or more than one Culkin kid. And luck also plays into the fact that everybody else sucks too. You can always rise from the crap that’s around you if everything IS crap. When five great actors give career performance, your paraplegic turn may just fall by the wayside. Eric Stoltz in The Waterdance? Don’t remember it. It followed the rules: crippled, good script, defining moments. But Christopher Walken, Al Pacino and a bunch of other people blew up that year. And what does Eric Stoltz have to show for it?  Yup. About the same as you and I. Though he still does have that Mask prosthetic which is mad cool.

So, you dreamers, follow these rules and you too can join Randy Quaid, Whoopi Goldberg, Dan Aykroyd, Amy Adams, Haley Joel Osment and the little girl from Little Miss Sunshine and get your nomination.  (Coincidentally all of them will be starring in a new Zucker brothers movie…..coming next summer…Critics, start your engines now)

Spies…Spies..Everywhere There’s Spies…Chewing Up The Scenery…Blowing Your Mind…. August 8, 2007

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants.
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With The Bourne Ultimatum raking in more cash than Warren Buffett has in the cushions of his couch (the previous metaphor stolen from the Dennis Miller Book of Metaphors…available wherever paperbacks are sold), its safe to say that spy movies are a bonafide action genre. Heck, they may even be one of the best and biggest. They’re here to stay people! So for those of you hoping that romantic comedies set in Middle America or movies starring CGI dogs and cats would win out, you’re SOL.

Spy movies are akin to stealing your friend’s marijuana plants: Hollywood makes money on them because everybody’s too scared and would get in too much trouble if they told the real story. Thusly, every spy movie could be the biggest bunch of fabrication since the Warren Commission Family Picnic (Thanks Dennis, yet again!) and nobody will know. Think the CIA, FBI, NSA and a whole bunch of other acronyms are going to step forward and admit how things are done. Hell to the no. So each film can claim to be accurate and load us up with car chases and gadgetry and strange Cold War scenarios and not a single person can ever call “Shenanigans.” Except for that guy over there…Oh wait, where are those men in suits taking him?

Yet with all these spy films coming 2 fast and 2 furious (Not a spy movie, by the way, I checked) you must ask yourself one question. Which spy defines me?  Which secret agent should I choose to follow intently?  There are several camps on this one. Let us, in attempt to appease all argument, first remove the Daniel Craig James Bond from future debate. Not saying I didn’t enjoy his first foray into the land of 007, but there are too many critics who feel the film was merely siphoning off the ideas the Bourne series had re-established as the new “IT” spy genre. (Some say siphoning: others say blatantly copying.) Plus it’s one chance. Make two good ones and we’ll talk. You can also shake off every single spy that popped up during that dark phase from 1985-1993 where Hollywood tried to re-invent the spy genre with a whole bunch of  “mistaken identity spy comedies.” Richard Grieco, Anthony Edwards, Jackie Chan, Val Kilmer. Not that you guys were doing much anyway, but you can all sit. (Okay, maybe you were, Val….your two minute cameo in Déjà vu…moving stuff…now, here…have another donut.)

Which means you are left with three major types of movie spies: the gritty realistic Jason Bourne type, the kitschy Cold War espionage of the James Bond type, and the uber-kitschy spoofy Austin Powers/ Flint winking at the camera so much I’m sure you have Tourettes goofball spy.

Any spy film from here on out will adhere to these three examples or Venn diagram somewhere in between. These are the examples, people. So, if you’re a Scientologist who is smiting me because I didn’t mention Ethan Hunt, I’m sorry. He’s like a good Chinese dinner: little from Column A, little from Column B. But he is not a Column unto himself. And besides would L. Ron want that anyway? Shame on all of you. Smiting me like that. And to think I actually paid to see Battlefield Earth (Receipt available upon request)

So which spy should you follow? Let’s look at each.

The Gritty Realistic Spy:  He’s either deep undercover or blending into society much like Henry Hill did when he took off the velour track suit. He’s not a blow up the whole building guy. His gadgets and methods are straight out of that annoying video game level you can’t beat (You know the one with all the stealthing…And yes stealthing is a word.) And his exploits are usually shot with the same gritty realism and gritty camera angles just in case you didn’t get that whole gritty realism thing. This guy blows your mind. Not because he escapes eight car pileups and citywide manhunts. And not because he can garrote you with a shoelace and duct tape all MacGyver style. It’s because he is SO real. This crazy behind the scenes stuff could really be happening.  He’s using real names and focusing on real problems (usually oil pipelines in the Middle East, scary biotoxins) and not some nameless faceless supervillain who lives in a cave. He’s the spy you root for because you want him on that wall. You need him on that wall. And you secretly hope there isn’t a wall, but you know better. No sex for me, please…I’m making the world safer. Or worse, depending.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Democrats, people with irrational fear of the Patriot Act, those with stock in Dramamine

The Kitschy Cold War guy: Yeah, this is what spying is all about. Still saving the world but doing it Hefner style. With a woman on one arm and a drink in the other. His entrances and exits are louder than a Metallica show at the Virginia College for the Deaf. He couldn’t save himself from a situation unless he had his gadgets. And oh what great ones they are. Invisible missile laden cars. Dual laser beamed watches. Exploding pens.  And everybody always gets it in the end. There’s no grey area. It’s Good vs. Evil. The Russians or the Eastern Europeans or the Colombian drug dealers. All of them must be stopped. And they will be stopped before they can unleash their havoc on the world. Because only he can do it. He’s like the Class Clown: a smartass remark everybody he does, well, anything that could call for a smart ass remark, from kicking ass to flirting to hanging out poolside in places he first made cool. Monte Carlo, the Caribbean, Antarctica (though maybe not poolside there) None of this could possibly happen. Nameless, faceless masterminds don’t exist. (Real life masterminds are way too media savvy to live in a hollowed out volcano.)  And again, do we know it isn’t like this? That in itself makes us feel safe, hoping it is

RECOMMENDED FOR: Republicans, the Tuxedos Renters Guild of America,  13 year old boys (because the sex is implied, never shown and once you past 13, you need a little more than innuendo)

The Spoofy Spy: Take every cliché you’ve ever seen and beat it into the ground. The only genre of spy films you know could never happen, because can somebody that ignorant really be on a major payroll somewhere (Wait…I’ll strike that from the record)  The jokes are like the plot outline: It’s Good vs. Evil.  Some work, some don’t. The gadgets are often ludicrous, but plausible. It’s like watching an old friend come for dinner: bask in the stories of yesteryear and laugh about when they went wrong. But you get sick of them quick and hopefully, they’re gone before desert

RECOMMENDED FOR: The young, the elderly, the three people who have never quoted Austin Powers ever.

Make your choice wisely, my budding Spy movie aficionados. It is a big choice and one that can determine your future movie-watching career. The debate will forever wage on and someday a spy type will emerge victorious. Let’s just hope it’s not Owen Wilson

(This post will self-destruct in five seconds.)

And I Will Lead You…Not Just Because I Am Spartacus, But Because You Suck June 2, 2007

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Music, Pop Culture Rants, Sports, TV.
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Just in case you were sleeping or you don’t own the magical cable compass that enables you to find the NBA games playing on your satellite provider (All of which were last seen somewhere between the local cable Access show and the network devoted strictly to macramé), the young phenom LeBron James did something this week that defies description. And no, it’s not hawking soda or shoes wearing a fake beard that looks like it was stolen straight from the 5th grade production of Oklahoma at Jackson Elementary school.

LeBron James SINGLEHANDEDLY won a game. And while I don’t mean it was like Space Jam where Michael Jordan scored every point while Looney Tunes characters did Looney tunes things or that Bugs Bunny cartoon where he beats the Gashouse Gorillas (Fact: That cartoon marked the first appearance of the over used “Ball player screaming I Got It over and over than being hit and ending up dead beneath a tombstone reading “He Got It” which itself was based on an unfortunate 1920’s ballplayer that was later documented in “The Short Life of BatShit Blind Magee: The Musical.) LeBron had other players on the court with him. He was playing a team in Detroit that has been for years trying to bring the snuggly, feel-good reputation of the 1994 Knicks (Make a basket…get a knee to the groin…everyone wins.) But his surrounding players all looked like Mike Myers during the Katrina benefit when Kanye went on about George Bush and his, um, predilection towards a certain race. They couldn’t hit the side of a barn if you lathered the barn in aluminum siding and made the ball look like the Epcot ball and coated it with magnets. The team would put up a nail biter against the Midvale School for the blind or the Special Olympics team from Russia (Though they are in wheelchairs, those Russian kids do have mad ups though).

And none of this is exaggeration. The rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers are that bad. And LeBron’s feat was that amazing. He scored 29 of his team’s last thirty points. For you math nerds, that means he scored 97% of his team’s last 30 points (Don’t be too impressed…I stayed awake in 6th grade algebra just because I had a crush on Meghan Delaney who sat across from me…She had pink braces, carried a My Pet Monster pencil case and consistently smelled like Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth, the “it” fragrance of mid 80’s middle schoolers.) He was making shots that you’ve only seen Jordan and Bird make in McDonald’s commercial. He put his team on his back, carried them, stopped for a drink, realized they still needed to be carried, grumbled a bit and put them right back on his shoulders.  Just when you thought Detroit would wise up and triple team and force one of the other guys on the court to make a shot, he still sliced through them, often dunking and making a victory face that looked like a combination of an orgasm look and that Aw Shucks look extremely talented people make when they’re trying to be humble.

Surely, though, this has had happened before in team sports. A great player can put his team on his back and will them to victory. Michael Jordan did it so often; it was more news when he had an average night. Joe Namath willed the Jets to a Super Bowl victory despite wearing fur underwear and a leisure suit under his uniform. And Reggie Jackson’s Afro hit two home runs in a World Series game (His Fu Manchu moustache went 2 for 4 with a double and an Intentional walk, though. Always never did live up to its’ facial hair potential.) Sports are the rare case when superhuman ability of one can trump average abilities of several others. Like when Superman went against the entire canon of Kryptonian villains. He won, despite almost being permanently distracted by their amazingly snug leather jumpers borrowed from the set of Xanadu.

But that gets me thinking. There is no possible way this can happen in any other aspect of pop culture. Sports are by definition a black and white entity. You win or you lose. And while some may say pop culture has no competitive nature, tell that to the guy who doesn’t sell well on billboard while a glorified Now That’s What I Call A Mix Tape with his big single on it outsells him by a million albums. So here are the Spartacuses. The quick examples of how one person surrounded by enough talent to fill the cup the doctors makes you pee in during a physical, LeBronned themselves to success.

MUSIC – The Jackson Five

This one is easy. Back when he was still a kid and possessed over 80% of his own physical features, Michael Jackson carried his brothers like Chewy carried the dismantled C-3PO. Think about it. You had cute little powerhouse Michael. Tito. Jermaine. Um, Andrew. Action Jackson? Get the point.

Michael did all the work. His brothers simply looked like they were trying real hard to dance the way chorus members do when Barbra Streisand was in a musical. Pull Focus and somebody will have your nuts on a platter. Can you, quickly, name one song they let anybody else sing lead vocals on? I mean, even when the Beatles let Ringo sing, they made the song so out there, you couldn’t help but laugh at him and shrug the same way you do when you child breaks into the peanut butter and smears it all over your vintage Cheryl Tiegs poster. And they had every major Motown hit for something like ten years. They called it the Jackson Five. Though really the talent level, maybe, was more like the Jackson 2.18 (Rumor has it Tito cooked a mean frittata)

(Special shout out to the early nineties band Bonham. The band was named after the DRUMMER, which is ort of like naming your NASCAR team after the guy who changes the tire. Sure, he’s important and keeps things going, but besides ex-drum majors, who’s there to see the drummer?)

TV – Bosom Buddies

An entry into the realm of 80’s sitcoms when all you needed was a premise so outrageous, it could buy you at least ten episodes. It had everything working against it. Men in drag (There is the long standing corollary that only British men and obscenely tall black men are funny in drag. Short, squat, white American men are creepy.) Donna Dixon (who if not married to the Jabba the Hut that is Dan Aykroyd would be nothing more than the punchline to one of the greatest jokes ever on the Simpsons). And a Billy Joel theme song. Not even sung by Billy Joel.

Yet it’s one joke premise was kept on for almost three seasons. And why? Tom Hanks. The man had talent and even made the writing (a step above Chimps on Typewriters and the most recent Spiderman script) sound witty. He played off Peter Scolari (Who?) and traded barbs with Wendy Jo Sperber (a talent so great they didn’t even bring her back for the second Back to the Future). That’s like succeeding in the 100-meter dash while wearing clown shoes and leg weights. Tom Hanks willed a premise so thin and writing so bad. I think the show even got an Emmy nomination (though that may not be a big deal…think the words Emmy nominee Jm J. Bullock…nuff said there)

MOVIES – The first Pirates of the Caribbean

It was a movie based on a RIDE. Not a book, not a cartoon, not even a comic strip. It was based on a theme park ride. You know, the thing you wait in sweltering heat for 90 minutes for, it lasts for 2 minutes and you walk out going, “Really? That was it.” It was directed by the guy who did The Mexican.  (You screwed up a movie with Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and Tony Soprano? Seriously, I could direct that using a marionette version of myself that speaks in Farsi and still have a decent film) And the bad guys were skeletons borrowed from a Harryhausen film. Surely, this can’t make any money, let alone garner any viewers. But enter Johnny Depp.

He swaggered. He swished. He made us all gape that he was acting his ass off and in a Disney film no less. People lined up to see him dash across the scene and deliver one-liners. And while the other young leads have gone on to promising careers, back then they were simply “the kid from Lord of the Rings who played the elf” and “Say, you’re sure that’s not Natalie Portman?” Johnny Depp carried that movie so far, they gave him two sequels. They banked millions into him and by the end of the third he was phoning it in. Surely, that makes him the ultimate Spartacus.

So I congratulate LeBron. He has announced his arrival on the scene and I applaud him for it. But don’t rest on your laurels just yet. Because everybody else is resting on theirs and they ain’t got no stinking laurels. Being the loadbearer can be a bitch. Pretty sure Tom Hanks says that to Peter Scolari every day while Peter washes his car and grooms his cat.

The Pen: Now About as Mighty as a Butter Knife April 20, 2007

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Music, Pop Culture Rants, TV.
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I know they’re out there. I mean, they are millions of students across this nation who are majoring in English right now. How could you not? English involves two major facets: reading and writing. Both of those are taught slightly after you learn how to pee. It’s major that doesn’t get much harder. Math involves learning more elaborate theories and precepts as you go deeper in school. Science involves more knowledge of different experiments and the like. But English? If you can read a book your Senior Year, you probably could have read the exact same book your Freshman year. Books don’t get harder (save for Ayn Rand. I truly believe there are a few eighty year old professors in the Midwest who have said, “Screw it…this Fountainhead…Where’s my Matlock DVD?”) I know…you get it…it’s easy. Like I said, though, I know they’re out there. With your English degree, you probably want to be a writer. Well, then, where the hell are they?

They ain’t in the movies. Because Hollywood is too busy making films written by Philip K. Dick. Now don’t get me wrong…I am not ripping on the late Mr. Dick. Besides having the second greatest porn sounding non-porn name in history (How could anybody ever beat DICK BUTKUS?), he was a very prolific and quite often prophetic writer. His stories are rife with interesting characters, amazing scenarios and good vs. evil scenarios. But, he’s gone. He’s done writing. And we’ve exhausted him now. Take the movie “Next.” I’m sure it’s rife with all Dick is famous for, but look at the Taglines. “From the writer behind “Blade Runner” (okay, this might work…great movie and Daryl Hannah’s boobs), “Total Recall” (okay..Cool special effects and the beginning of Ahnold’s “understandable” phase and THREE boobs) “Minority Report” (all right, the official last movie before Tom Cruise officially signed his “Crazy Card” and if you pause it just right, Samantha Morton’s boobs are okay) and “Paycheck.” Whoa, wait, hold up. He wrote Paycheck?

And that should say it all. When somebody sits a room and says, “Let’s make that movie before we make “Next,” you have a problem. Stephen King, who has some weird pact with Hollywood that requires him to be behind at least three movies or eight-hour miniseries per year, knows not to release all of his work to the movies. And he was hit with a car, for Chrissakes. At some point, no matter how amazing a writer may have been, you hit the bottom of his barrel. Even Shakespeare companies know not to break out “Troilus and Cressida.” But apparently Hollywood will continue to scrape that barrel clean. Because, for the love of God, where are the writers?

Are they in TV? Nope. And not just because of the reality shows/. I mean, you need to have endured 16 hours of English poetry to come up with the idea behind Joe Millionaire, right? Reality shows need writers. But I think they’ve left us now. Because the shows are getting both out of control and so mundane, it’s scary. Kristen Cavallari (she of MTV, a Maxim magazine, a Stuff magazine and I think she was in an FHM) has a new reality show in development. Will she be starting a sitcom, a modeling agency, her time in college? No, she will be deciding whether or not to get LASIK. You read that right. They are developing an entire show around a decision on eye surgery. An event that may (GASP) make you go blind if done incorrectly. A writer didn’t come up with that. Ms. Cavallari is obviously trying to get free LASIK and thought this would be a great way to do it. How could you sell a show based on a procedure that maybe blinds, what, three people a year? More people lose their sight staring at the sun than getting LASIK. (One thing, though…that’s my idea and I’m claiming it here first, just in case….Vanessa Minillio in “Sunstroked”) Writers wouldn’t stand for that. But they’re not around.

Maybe they’re in music? Nope. They used to be everywhere in Hip Hop. Gone now, replaced by beats and repetition. And they’re nowhere else. Rockers are groaning and scraping their throats to re-enact the magic of Eddie Vedder. Only they’re not saying anything of importance (unless you feel moved by knowing that the “girl shouldn’t go cause it’d be bad.”) And you CANNOT rhyme a rhyme a word with itself. Nope. Not allowed. If you must, it had better be a line of such meaning, importance and gravitas that kids use as their yearbook quote for the next twenty years. And a writer could pop one of those out. Only they’re not around.

So where are they? I’ve been looking. They’re not in cabins in Montana. They’re not on “Find themselves” trips in Europe smoking hash and reading Sartre. And they’re not hanging out down by the shore, listening to Ween. I’ve checked. This is a call to all of them. Please come do what you were trained to do. Because the industries that need you are dying. Maybe you’re all bartenders like me. Please, America, the next time you order your Cosmo, ask if the bartender is a writer and if they answer in the affirmative, send them out immediately. Tell them to leave their job and give the bar world the kiss off and come back to the written word!

But tip them. And tip them well. Because that would be rude.