Monthly Archives: May 2013

Movie Review: Now You See Me

Iron Man Three, Star Trek, Fast 6, for a while I thought that the summer blockbuster season wasn’t ever going to skip a beat. But then I checked out my options for this week and was reminded that, yeah, if I’m planning on seeing a new release every weekend, I guess I’m going to have an occasional lineup of slim pickings.


And so I almost resigned myself to buying a ticket for Will Smith’s After Earth. I really, really didn’t want to see After Earth. I’ve seen the same way-too-long preview several times, and nothing about it looks interesting. The ship crash-lands. It’s the future. It’s Earth. Will Smith’s in it. Man, remember when Will Smith used to make only good movies? I’m glad I wasn’t writing movie reviews when Men In Black 3 premiered.

But just before I made my post-apocalyptic purchase, Yoda’s voice came alive in my head, “No. There is another.” And sure enough, there was another new release this week, a movie called Now You See Me. Huh. I’d never even heard of this movie. I was about to do a quick Google search to find out the general plot, something that could give me a clue as to what I might be in for, but I decided, fuck it, let’s go in blind.

Now You See Me starts off fast. It’s about four magicians who team up to rob banks, giving the money to the public in a Robin Hood display of vigilante economics. And for the first hour or so, it’s a pretty cool movie. The FBI gets involved and it turns into an old-school New York City heist movie, crazy crime-genre background music and all, something reminiscent of the original The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3.

But shit keeps escalating. Chase scenes give way to fight scenes that give way to car crashes. Instead of even beginning to hint at like a general direction in which the movie might be headed, they just keep on piling on random clues, mysterious characters, a few dead-end leads and even a flimsy romance subplot. After a little while you’re like, what? How? Who is this guy again? Wait, why are they robbing the banks?

And after that first enjoyable hour, the movie spirals out of control. The whole time I was thinking to myself, man, these writers had better have come up with something genius to get to some sort of a resolution, to even begin to answer all of these questions. And yeah, I guess it’s theoretically possible. There are movies out there that weave insane plots together in acts of superhuman storytelling.

But I kept thinking about how it’s so weird that a major movie studio could release a big summer film and not have any marketing campaign at all. Why hadn’t I seen this movie coming? Why weren’t there any previews during any of the other movies I’ve been watching every single week for the past three months?

While I don’t want to be a cynic, while I wanted to hold out hope that maybe they’d be able to yet turn this into a great movie, a moment of realism set in as I deduced that the only reason nobody’s heard about this movie is because maybe it really wouldn’t get any better. Maybe the writers wrote themselves into a corner and couldn’t figure a way out. But you know how big Hollywood is, they already signed Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson. Shooting was to begin in three weeks. If one group of writers couldn’t figure it out, they’d just fire them, get a new group in. Whatever, just write something, just wrap it up boys, we’ve got to get this film debuted by the end of May.

The ending of this movie is just an insult to intelligent life anywhere in the cosmos. I’d equate the making of this movie to the running of a marathon, one in which after twenty-five miles of agony, with only one mile left in sight, everybody just stopped. They just said, eh, whatever, who cares. I’m tired. I don’t feel like running anymore.

And then not only did they stop running, they didn’t even bother walking the rest of the way. They couldn’t manage even a limp to the finish line. In fact, they cheated, they took a cab to the end. Their score was totally disqualified. And then once they got there, they started punching random people in the face, stealing all of the other runners’ medals, knocking over tables of Gatorade for no good reason.

It’s like, what the hell guys, you’re only going to make half of a decent movie? Why bother? Is Morgan Freeman this desperate for work? Is Mark Ruffalo still trying to convince the world he’s a real actor after that ghost movie he made with Reese Witherspoon?

I really am sorry, because I don’t want to be so negative, but Now You See Me is a joke. A stupid, not-funny, fifteen-dollar-a-ticket joke. If you’re on an airplane flying across the country, and the in-flight entertainment system has this movie available to stream, do yourself a favor, just take a nap instead, or just sit up straight and stare at the back of the seat in front of you for two hours or so. Yeah, it might be a little boring, but at least it won’t be as incredibly disappointing.

Tom the Tiger

Sometimes I think I want to invent my own breakfast cereal, like it doesn’t matter what it’s called, or even what it tastes like. The only thing that I have planned out is that the mascot is going to be this giant humanoid tiger, and he’s going to go, “Theyyyyyy’re terrific!” just exactly the same way that Tony the Tiger does his slogan.

Tony the Tiger

And then I’m going to sit there by the phone and wait for Kellogg to give me a call. “Hello, we’re calling about Tom the Tiger,” because that’s what I’m going to name my Tiger mascot, Tom, and he’s going to have the same broad shoulders, the same red neckerchief, Tom’s obviously labeled “Tom” instead of “Tony,” the same shit-eating grin and index finger pointed high in the sky, “We’re issuing a cease-and-desist.”

And I’ll be like, fuck that man, I’m no lawyer, you can’t kill Tom the Tiger just because you don’t like what he has to say. He’s not saying “They’re great!” he’s saying, terrific, “And besides,” I’ll tell them, “This is actually Tony the Tiger’s older brother, Tom,” and they’ll be like, “All right, you want to do this the hard way? Let’s do this the hard way.” And I’ll be like, “Fine, if you guys want to do it the hard way, let’s go.”

That might unnerve them a little, because here’s the thing, you get some company pissed off about a cartoon tiger, fine, they send you a letter, it’s some lawyer, sure, terrific, let me ask you, what are you going to do, you’re going to come over my cereal factory and physically stop me from making Tom the Tiger boxes? No, you’re going to have to start a whole legal proceeding, and I’ll make sure that takes time.

And I never understood the legalities, say some judge tells you to knock it off. Say you don’t want to, what, do the cops eventually get involved? Do they storm the cereal factory, start ripping up boxes? Or would they just like block out the part of the box with the mascot? I’m just saying, I think this whole system is a huge power trip, scare tactics, intimidation, big cereal.

And besides, Tom the Tiger really is Tony the Tiger’s older brother. Who do you think taught Tony how to stand upright like a human being, how to make a red embroidered neckerchief with “Tony” on the bottom? Because it is embroidered, even though by the illustration it only looks like it’s maybe screen-printed. And he talks. Tigers don’t talk. They certainly don’t teach themselves how to talk.

Who taught Tony? Tom. But who taught Tom? Ah, that’s the question. Tom’s actually pretty hush-hush about the whole “Who taught you how to walk and talk like a human” business, and don’t even bother asking him as to how he got his start in the whole cereal business.

And so, your honor, I’d like to continue to point out that, where exactly in the Constitution does it grant Kellogg the right to deny me the use of my imagination to expand upon the Tony the Tiger biography? What has Kellogg done new with character in, what, twenty, thirty years? He’s been around forever. I think the guy that does his voice died like ten years ago. That’s why I’m careful not to too strongly link Tom with any sort of specific voice or inflection or intonation.

Your honor, another thing, how long – no I object! – how long exactly must these cartoon cereal character characters remain slaves of their prepackaged dry-goods? Why just Frosted Flakes? Maybe Tony wants to move on. Maybe Tom’s here to rescue him. Kids love Tony, and Tony loves kids. But maybe Tony doesn’t want to peddle around sugar-coated cereals anymore. What about diabetes? Did you know that tigers can get diabetes also?

Show me the statistics of tiger diabetes, Kellogg. Well, you’re the cartoon tiger experts, aren’t you? No, you’re not. I am. Here are the statistics. You see what they say? That one hundred percent of cartoon tigers suffer from type one adult onset diabetes. And that’s just tigers. You should see the kinds of fucked up shit Chester Cheeto has to deal with.

I will not be held in contempt. Tom has a right to exist! Frosted Flakes is trying to take away our freedom! Your honor, I – get your hands off of me! Theyyyy’re terrific! Terrific! Theyyyyy’re grrrrreat!

It’s getting real hot out there

I spent a fair amount of last summer complaining about the heat. I’d sit down to write something, but the sweat would be pouring out of my body, soaking my laptop, making it impossible to write anything of significance. As my fingers would slip on the keys, as the messages popped up on the screen, “Reminder, do not pour liquids onto your computer,” I’d think to myself, this sucks, I’m so hot, I’m not getting any writing done, and everything that I do wind up writing, it’s just this long whiney complaint about being hot.

heat sunset res

Then the fall came, and that was great. Even winter was a welcome relief. And it wasn’t until about March or April that I really started to get sick of the cold. This year winter wouldn’t take the hint. It was like when you have your friends over and it’s three in the morning and you’re pretending to act like you’re still having a good time, that you’re not super tired, wishing that everyone would just leave already so you could go to sleep, and just when you think somebody might make a move for the door, somebody else sinks a little deeper into the couch and asks, “Anybody feel like getting a game of Monopoly going?”

But winter’s finally over. Spring made a delayed appearance for like a week or so. And then I woke up yesterday and it was summer again. The first day came and went and I didn’t complain. It wasn’t that hot, there was a nice breeze, I got to go outside in shorts. It was pretty pleasant considering how long winter took to finally melt away into warmer weather.

But then day two. I always bike to work and, not really thinking it through, I wore jeans and a t-shirt. Come on, I thought, it’s still May. It’s totally going to be OK. It totally wasn’t OK. The humidity was reminiscent of August. I wasn’t even halfway to the restaurant and, although you might not be able to tell just by looking at me, the entire surface of my body was covered in sweat.

It’s like, I love wearing jeans, but I can’t think of anything more uncomfortable than sweating through a thick pair of denim. The pants turn to sandpaper. Every step, every pedal on the bike, it becomes an exercise in exfoliating the skin on my legs, one layer at a time, until there’s nothing left but rash and raw.

And then I got to work and I had to change into my work clothes. I took off my damp jeans, my moistened shirt. And that wasn’t even the wettest part. My undershirt, my boxers, my socks, even though I’m going to be putting on a fresh change of clothing, everything underneath is heavy with perspiration.

I changed into my uniform. You know how it is, your body takes a minute or so to cool down. I thought my jeans were restrictive, but wearing dress pants, a shirt, tie, and a giant waiter’s apron, that was downright stifling. Not only did the sweating not stop, it actually picked up a little bit. I could start to feel my freshly laundered outfit starting to absorb it’s own layer of gross.

Man, and what the fuck? Why did it feel like the heat was still on? My restaurant is at the bottom of this gigantic building in Midtown. I can only guess that, in an effort to not be surprised if winter decides to make one or two more guest appearances this early in the warm season, they’re delaying the official changing of the thermostat for as long as possible.

I’m going to try and stop complaining. There’s nothing I can do about the heat, and it’s still May. It’s only going to get hotter and hotter. But man, I’m so f’n hot. I wake up in the morning and my mouth is like sealed shut because it’s so hot out and it makes the inside of my mouth so dry and then I go and try to get my day started but I get out of the shower and I’m already soaked through with sweat again and by the time I sit down to write even though I’m telling myself not to write about being so hot I can’t help it it’s all I can think about I can’t stop writing I can’t even make commas or periods I’m so fucking hot.

I didn’t win that six hundred million dollar Powerball jackpot

Last week someone in Florida won the six hundred million dollar Powerball jackpot. I was so pissed. I was positive that this time it was going to be me. It’s like, I always feel like I’m going to win, I’ll always look at the ticket and get into these really deep thoughts inside my head, thoughts like, the numbers haven’t been chosen yet, and so any of these tickets could be potentially worth all of that money. And it just blows my mind that over the course of twenty seconds, the value of this little slip of paper could jump from nothing to everything.

And so yeah, at some level I’m always like, this is it. This is the one. And I recognize that, and I try to suppress it, to not let myself get carried away, just ripe for an almost guaranteed disappointment. But this time, like I said, I was beyond sure. I could feel it. You know how like sometime when you’re bored you’ll just sit there and check your email every five minutes or so, not really expecting anything, but just wanting something to happen? And you’ll check and hit refresh and nothing, there’s never anything, and you get like really numb to the whole process. And then another five minutes go by and you go to hit refresh again but this time something’s different. This time you have a feeling, a certainty, there’s going to be something there. And sure enough, there it is, an email.

That’s what I had this time. I had that gut certainty, like holy shit, this is real, I’m going to win the lottery. And now that I haven’t won, my whole email prediction theory has been thrown out of whack also. Maybe I don’t have special email prediction powers. Or, maybe my prediction powers only work for email, and so when I was looking down at my Powerball ticket, and I felt that feeling, like this is it, I’m going to win, maybe I should have just checked my email, there was probably something sent right that minute. And maybe it’s all about honing in on those email powers, strengthening them. Eventually I’ll get so good at it that I’ll be able to turn push notifications off on my iPhone. I’ll just know when new emails are coming in. That’s going to save so much battery life.

But that doesn’t have anything to do with the lottery. I had plans for that six hundred million dollars. First, and I told this to my family and friends, you know, the ones who were listening anyway, I told them that I’d spend a hundred million on a huge advertising campaign, billboards, TV and radio commercials, just getting it out there that I was the winner, that I’m the one who collected the giant jackpot.

I was hoping that people who have wronged me in the past, people who’ve maybe made a joke or two at my expense, or took a pen from my desk when I wasn’t looking, basically, any small sort of transgression that either escaped my knowledge or didn’t warrant me committing it to my permanent memory. They’d think that they got away with pulling a fast one on me, or getting in a good laugh about some lame prank. But then they’d look up at these billboards everywhere, it would be me, giving a thumbs up, to myself, and a text bubble coming out of my mouth, “I won six hundred million dollars, suckers!”

This could even apply to anybody just thinking negatively about me at all. But whatever, the advertising money would come and go. Obviously it would be kind of foolish to keep financing a campaign like that for an extended period of time. After I spread the word, I’d pull back somewhat, try to get a grip on living a regular life, something that wouldn’t change who I am too much.

And so I was telling this to my mom and she kind of laughed (I wasn’t kidding) and she said, “So would you quit your job?” And I was like, “What are you crazy?” and my dad interrupted, “Don’t call your mother crazy!” and I was like, “Sorry dad, figure of speech.” But no way, I wouldn’t quit my job. I would just go back to work like nothing happened. And it would be the best. I’m a waiter, and the worst part of waiting tables is that basically everybody in the whole restaurant is my boss. Every single customer can flag me down and start barking orders at me, and I have to say, yes sir, yes ma’am, right away sir, very good ma’am.

But if I had six hundred million dollars? I’d be like, listen, here’s five hundred dollars. You go into the kitchen and get me another Diet Coke. And they’d be like, you got it. So I’d be sitting there at this table with this random person’s family. I’d be smiling, laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. And then that person would come back, I’d take out my wallet and say to this person’s dinner party, OK buddy, now I’ll give you five hundred dollars to take that Diet Coke and pour it over your head. And they’d do it. I’d laugh. They’d laugh. We’d all be laughing, having a great time.

And maybe my manager would come over, “All right Rob, get up, you’re out of here.” And I’d just take out my checkbook and pay my manager to give me a raise. And then I’d make him go into the kitchen and start eating steaks until he’s sick. And everybody would keep laughing. I’d bake hundred dollar bills into the bread and watch people initially get really upset with a foreign object in their meal, but ultimately ecstatic at finding such a cleverly laid surprise.

But yeah, I didn’t win anything. I guess I’ll just have to be content at hiding pennies and dimes in the cracks of the seats, hoping that somebody might find them and go, hey pal, I just found some spare change, you want it? It’s all yours man. And I’d be like, thanks a lot, I appreciate the gesture. Would you like another Diet Coke?

Why I’m running for Mayor of New York City

Citizens of New York. It’s with great pride that I announce my candidacy for Mayor. Of New York. New York City. I know I’ve talked about this before, but this time I’m serious. I’m as of right now, officially in the race. Almost. I need a campaign team. Somebody who’s good with election stuff. Like rules, and how to get on the ballot. You can’t just say, “I’m running for Mayor,” and then it just shows up. No, you’ve got to do forms and stuff. Right?

I guess you could win as write-in candidate, and that way we won’t have to bother with any forms at all. I’ll leave it to my chief-of-staff. As soon as I hire a chief-of-staff. And then I’ll have that person hire the rest of the team. So I really just need a solid chief-of-staff. Ooh, and a t-shirt guy. I don’t want boring campaign t-shirts. I want like, really cool shirts, like something funny maybe, not funny in-your-face funny, but like clever funny.

I know it’s an already crowded field, but I plan on using that to my advantage. I’m going to stand back and watch them all pummel each other trying to get their party’s nomination. Then it’ll just be a Republican, a Democrat, and then me. My last name starts with G., right in the middle of the alphabet. Well, near the middle. It’s definitely closer than F, much closer than B. So I’m counting on the statistics working in my favor, making my name smack in the middle of the ballot.

It’ll be eye level. And as New Yorkers head to the polls, they’ll be like, “Man, I’m so sick of these two bozos, the same old machine party politics. If only there were an alternative!” and just as the voter thinks this thought, they’ll look up, like I said, Rob G., independent, right in the middle.

And that voter might think, “Well, I’ve never heard of this Rob G. before.” That’s what they’ll think anyway. But they won’t even realize that they’re already wearing my campaign t-shirt. (Note to self: find t-shirt guy. Ask about bulk discounts.) Because the design is going to be so subtle, so hip, it’s going to transcend your regular sending-a-message t-shirt. No, it’s going to be like a joke, but with so many layers, and hidden layers, and it’s all going to be based off of an inside joke that only a couple of people know about, and so one day that couple of people will be wearing them out, laughing to themselves about the joke, everyone else will get so jealous, so they’ll start wearing the shirts also. And then it’ll get bigger and bigger until, “Congratulations Mayor Rob G.” is the headline of every single New York City newspaper. Hell, maybe some other city’s papers will run it too. I don’t know, like Baltimore, or Cleveland.

And then I’ll pull a reverse Bloomberg. After winning as an independent, I’ll announce that I’m actually going to align myself with a party. “Which one will it be? Democrat? Republican?” That’ll also be the headline on every NYC paper. And then I’ll write my own op-ed, and the headline for that will be, “Which one of you political parties wants it more?” And I’ll stand back and watch them as they both clamor for my allegiance.

There’s going to be a lot of fake outs. Like one day I might pay a visit to the local Democratic Party offices. The press will get a few shots, anonymous sources might start leaking tips. But really I’ll just be making waves. I’ll go inside and be like, “Do you guys mind if I use your bathroom?” just nonsensical type visits. Or maybe I’ll start wearing solid red ties, every single day. And the newspaper analyst will be like, “Well you see, he’s definitely sending a message here. This is a politically-charged fashion statement.” But as soon as that story gets big, I’ll switch up the ties, like solid green, or half-red half-blue, or maybe a novelty tie, something your high school art teacher might wear, something weird, like ketchup and mustard bottles, I don’t know.

Maybe I’ll never pick a side. I’ll just keep teasing the idea, like, “Soon, I’m still thinking, I’m definitely going to pick a side soon.” And then on the last day of my third term I’ll call a huge press conference, and I’ll say, “Fellow New Yorkers. I think I’m going to stay an independent. Thank you for your support as I’ve explored and considered all sides of the political spectrum.” Maybe. That’s just one possibility. Maybe I’ll make my own political party.

Anyway, let’s do this New York. Like I said, I really need a campaign team. College students? What about an (unpaid) internship? Huh? You like filling out papers? Do you? You want to come work at City Hall (still as an intern?) Come on, vote for me and I’ll get Lin back on the Knicks. Vote for me and I’ll double the size of all sodas. Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do it. Let’s do it. Vote for me.