Friday, August 26, 2011

Flicky Friday (ft. Steve Martin)

For today's Flicky Friday, I'm bringing you my very favorite scene from one of my very favorite comedies of all time, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.  This film, a 1988 remake of a (much less famous) Marlon Brando/David Niven movie called Bedtime Story, stars Michael Caine and Steve Martin (both of whom I would marry in a heartbeat), and was directed by Frank Oz (most famous for his voice-acting work as Miss Piggy and Yoda. Yes, that Yoda.)  It's some of Steven Martin's absolutely finest comedic work, and a near-perfect showcase for Martin's prowess at physical comedy. (As a note, my well-meaning fiance took me to see the musical stage version of DRS a few years ago, thinking it'd be akin to The Producers screen-to-stage success; it was not.  It was god-awful. So, avoid that.)

In the movie, Caine and Martin are con men who scam gullible, lonely, rich women out of their money. Describing a montage where the refined, urbane Caine teaches the bumbling, unsophisticated Martin the ropes of roping in millionairesses, one reviewer described Martin thusly:
"Martin, the most eloquent of physical clowns -- the Baryshnikov of comedy -- is at his most inspired here. He parodies feelings, attitudes, states of mind that one would think were exempt from it, and his caricature of dapper suavity is killingly precise. When he pours champagne, even the angle of his wrists is a scream."
Martin is sincerely brilliant in this movie; his extreme silliness and pratfalls are so much subtler and more likable than those of his oft-compared counterpart in physical comedy, Jim Carrey.  Maybe Martin's comedy seems more purposeful, more motivated, less random?  Maybe Martin is just more charming?  Maybe the '80s were just better at everything.  Either way, if you haven't seen Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, or haven't seen it in a while, please revisit it soon.

A little set up for this scene: When Caine can't get rid of one particularly tenacious millionaire, he employs Martin to pretend to be his brother.  How could having a brother run off a vulnerable, love-struck, Oklahoma woman, you ask? Here's how:



Note: the actual scene is a considerable bit longer than that, but I couldn't find an extended clip. I guess you'll just have to watch the whole movie.  Not sold? Let a little more Ruprecht convince you:


Okay, it's like I can't stop. Ever forget someone's name?




Also, if you weren't already convinced that Steve Martin is one of the most talented comedians in history, let me add a few additional talents to his repertoire.  In recent years, Martin has found new and repeated success as a playwright and author.  If you're so inclined/obsessed, check out Martin's play Picasso at the Lapin Agile, or some of his novels (he starred in the movie version of his novel Shopgirl with Claire Danes).  Oh and he plays the banjo. And saves lives, I'm sure. And is a boat captain on weekends.  While he whittles cabinetry. For rescue cats. With diabetes. (I love you, Steve.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Kim Kardashian is Ruining Everything I Love

The nation mourned the loss of Elizabeth Taylor earlier this year, but no one did so quite as annoyingly as Kim Kardashian, who apparently believes she is Taylor reincarnated.   Now, my personal affinity for classic film in general and Elizabeth Taylor in particular means that this blog post is going to plumb the depths of my golden-age Hollywood snobbery, something that I've been trying to (slightly) (once in a while) tone down ever since my fiance (politely) implied (outright with words) that it makes me supremely less likable.  But here goes:
Not Taylor's original robe pic; it makes me too angry.

Just a month before Taylor's death, Kim K interviewed Elizabeth Taylor for Harper's Bazaar.  (I'm convinced it's probably what killed her.)   In the interview, Kardashian gushed and said that Taylor was her idol.  Then, calling herself an "Elizabeth Taylor nerd," she proceeded to ask a bunch of questions about Taylor's diamonds and clothes and "leading men" while managing to completely and utterly ignore Taylor's accomplishments and challenges as one of the most capable actresses of the last century.

"Whatever," really; I didn't expect much more from the queen of the famous-for-being-famous crowd.  But, Harper's, I did expect more from you, because the issue also featured a photo shoot with Kim Kardashian reprising Taylor's most iconic role: Cleopatra.  And, again, "whatever," anyone can dress up like Cleopatra . . . but Harper's let Kim pose in one of Elizabeth Taylor's original Cleopatra robes.  I mean, have you no respect?  You're draping these perfectly Taylored (see what I did there?) costumes of a true Hollywood legend on a woman who had Ray J inside herHarper's, that's not what people meant when they said Elizabeth Taylor had "raw" talent.

Then, a few weeks ago,  my good friend Erica sent me this picture:


What's so outrageous, you ask?  Well, let's just take a quick look at the opening scene of the 1959 movie version of Tennesee William's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman:

It's like the same exact outfit, y'all!! Apparently Kardashian was shooting an advertisement for her new perfume, which is probably called "Ha ha, I'm rich. Doesn't that piss you off?"  Now that Taylor is dead, we can be sure she's rolling over in her grave.  Come on, everyone who made this happen, can't we find anyone less appallingly talentless and vapid to approximate the great Elizabeth Taylor?  Maybe someone who is more likely to have ever seen Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, or to have not filmed Ray J while he was inside her (have I mentioned this?). Is it too much to ask? 

I swear, if Kim Kardashian gets a guest spot on Mad Men, I think I'll explode.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hello My Name Is



Courtesy of Copyranter and my friend Sean.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Here The Good Men Are! (A Guest Blog)

Previously, a law school classmate of mine, Bin Minter, wrote a guest post on the blog comparing Julian Assange to various Bond villians.  It was hilarious and enormously popular.  Today, I bring you another guest post from Bin, this time on the sensitive subject of sex, gender, relationships, and good men in the modern era.  Enjoy:

Back in February I “liked” a Wall Street Journal Article by Kay Hymowitz on Facebook, “Where Have the Good Men Gone?” Numerous female friends thanked me for sharing the article.  They particularly agreed that men today are “more like the kids we babysat than the dads who drove us home."  As one attractive UGA grad lamented, “When you go downtown in Athens, the girls get dressed to the nines and always look great to compete with each other; while a guy can wear a dirty t-shirt and a backwards hat, and girls will be all over him.”

If you haven’t read the article, Hymowitz’s point is this: if the world doesn’t need men, then guys “might as well just have another beer.” Or as Hanna Rosin argued last year in The Atlantic, Girl Power has made the Marlboro Man obsolete.

For most of human history, the basic act of procuring food required a lot of hard work, as did every other aspect of survival.  If you couldn’t make food or kill food, if you couldn’t protect yourself from nature and other men, you died.  G.I. Jane notwithstanding, men are stronger than women.  Women are also made vulnerable by pregnancy and motherhood.  Thus, men have historically occupied the role of provider and protector.

Today, however, humans are now exponentially more productive than even twenty years ago.  In first world countries, food is everywhere.  Instead of working to have food, people work so that they can pay other people to help them from getting too fat.  As for hard, physical work, we leave most of that to specialists or illegal immigrants, and even some of them are fat.  Bottom line: a person’s success and means of providing for himself are now completely detached from his physical strength.

A 25 year-old grad student I once dated put it best. When I asked her why modern women are increasingly acting like men, she said, “Because we can!” Or as my father explained years ago when lamenting the rising divorce rate in his lifetime, “women used to need men, but now, women don’t have to put up with men’s bullshit.   And that is a very bad thing because men are assholes.”  Pretty much.

These days, more women graduate from college than men, and young, female grads make more than their male peers. Countless professional women identify with the five year-old girl on youtube who wants a job before she gets married. “I don’t want to marry someone if I don’t have a job first,” she says. “I don’t care if I marry you. I don’t care if I marry another man. I care that I do something that’s special.”


Hell, sweetheart, why marry at all?   Now you can play daddy as well as mommy (but it helps if grandmommy can babysit once or twice a week).   The single mom, the prototype for the woman playing two roles, has gone from being societal outcast to society’s darling.  Look at Halle Berry, Padma Lakshmi, January Jones, or even Octomom. Watch Knocked Up.  No marriage.  No giving the child the father’s last name.  Men aren’t needed for anything other than reproduction, and they don’t even physically have to be there for that; the man is optional.

I am not decrying the female (or industrial) revolution and campaigning for women in the kitchen (though it would be nice to date a girl who could cook).  On the contrary, I, for one, prefer women who want to work and “do something that’s special” with their life.  I’m just explaining where the good men have gone.

One must be a man before one can be a good man, and what turns boys into men is responsibility.  In the article, Hymowitz's guy is content to play X-Box, drink beer, occasionally hit up Vegas, and totally shirk responsibility.  The funny thing about good men (who have always been hard to find) is that they like responsibility. That’s how they became men in the first place.  They don’t necessarily want to get married any sooner, but they do plan ahead.   Good men want to date women they could marry, and want the women to think they could marry the man, too.  Good men aren't day-traders; they're looking for a solid, high dividend stock at a low price that they can keep in their IRA for decades.  They only want to rent a house they might buy.

Here’s the kicker: good men scare the bejesus out of a lot of young women.  If you are a young, professional woman who sang “Amen” when you saw the little girl in the video, the thought of being married (much less being a mother) probably scares the hell out of you. It’s totally understandable. A lot of guys react the same way when they feel their girlfriends turning the screws.  But, you should realize two things: 1) a man could think you are marriage material without wanting to get married anytime soon, and 2) your less squeamish sisters are snatching up the good men.

Remember that girl who complained about guys going out dressed like they were in summer camp? She routinely turns down traditional date invitations because she doesn't want to get that “serious” with anyone. Is it any surprise that most of her relationships began with a hook-up?

Contrast that with a pretty cool graphic designer I know who, in my opinion, has the right approach:
“I take things one day at a time. I don’t get freaked out by the potential of future plans. My boyfriend is going to Africa this summer, and I just took a job in Baltimore. He has three years of school left. But I’m willing to try to date him instead of giving up at the fear of seriousness; just because he might want to potentially marry me someday doesn’t mean it will happen, just means it’s worth a shot.”
That’s what the good men are looking for.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Flicky Friday (ft. Ben Sheehan)

Today's Flicky Friday features a hilarious music video from my good friend Ben Sheehan, who looks pretty okay in shorts:


Mmmm! So Jewy! Check out Sheehan's other great, funny music videos featured on my blog (and some lesser-known blogs like Funny or Die):

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

U SUCK @ GRAMMER: Biweekly Edition

I'm teaming up with a very smart and grammatically correct friend of mine named Ashley to bring you a new segment called:

U SUCK @ GRAMMER*

Together, she and I will try to shed light on some common, confusing grammar mistakes and in doing so, attempt to chip away at the doomsday of proper language that is the internet.  Ashley is going to help me choose topics, elucidate them, and correct my grammar if I ever get sloppy. (So basically, I'm going to make a lot of snarky comments while she makes sure I don't look bad.)

When discussing writing our new segment, I posited that it should be biweekly, to which Ashley replied, "biweekly? I think two times a week is too frequent," to which I replied, "I mean every two weeks, Ashley." We argued back and forth, and out of this confusion came our first edition:

WHAT THE HELL DOES BIWEEKLY MEAN?

Though I should have learned my lesson about online dictionaries by now, we turned to what we thought was a reputable source to resolve our conflict.  Miriam-Webster says:


Thanks, M-W, that was super helpful.  So, yes, apparently "biweekly" can mean both.  But further investigation indicates that biweekly is supposed to be used to mean every two weeks; the term "semi-weekly," which literally means "once every half week," is the proper term to indicate twice a week.  As a common example: a "biweekly" payroll period is a paycheck every two weeks. But don't confuse biweekly with "semimonthly," because though one would think that there are four weeks in a month, half of which would be both biweekly and semimonthly, there are actually 26 biweekly pay periods in a year, but only 24 semimonthly pay periods in a year. (That means if, like me, you get paid on the 1st and the 15th, you get two fewer paychecks a year than your biweekly friends. Thanks for nothing, biweekly.)

Though semi-weekly and biweekly both have their proper meanings, there is always the potential for confusion.  As our friend Grammar Girl puts it, "You can feel smart if you know the difference between biweekly and semiweekly, but if you write your invitations using those words half the people will probably show up on the wrong day."  So, to be safely understood, go with the term "twice a week" if you mean twice a week, "every two weeks" if you mean every two weeks (or "fortnightly," if you're pretentious), and cut out the term biweekly all together.  Unless you're starting a weekly publication for bisexuals – then by all means call it "Bi Weekly."

As for us: we decided to write our column once a month.

Love,

The Strunk and White Girls.

*Grammar is intentionally spelled incorrectly to parody ironically incorrect use of the word. Don't be a douchenozzle and try to point out that we spelled it wrong.