Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Horror/Suspense Movie Classics: The Birds

Guys, I went through a bit of a Hitchcock phase in junior high because I was into creepy stuff and my mom likes Hitchcock and also his movies are generally appropriately rated for Mormon teenage viewing, but somehow I've never seen 1963's The Birds. I'm pretty sure we read the short story it's based on in my 9th grade honors English class. I am skeptical that this will scare me in my old, wizened, cynical state, but I like to be surprised. Also, I'm sure the gender politics are super good because Hitchcock and also 1963. Let's get started--CAW!

Before things actually get started, let me say that Tippi Hedron is a rich old lady in one of my top-3 movies of all time I Heart Huckabees and is thus always and forever great in my mind. The credits at the top here have birds flying past and say, "Introducing 'Tippi' Hedron" which is kind of patronizing if you ask me. If it's her professional name, just go with it. Okay, blonde lady walking around the city. I'm guessing it's California. Oh, San Francisco. She smiles at some catcallers. Gross. She goes into a pet store. Upstairs is the bird area. It's very shrill in there. Blonde lady doesn't want to wait for her bird to arrive at the store. She's going to have to teach him to talk. A handsome suited man comes in looking for some lovebirds. Blonde pretends to work there, Handsome Suit is looking for some lovebirds that won't fuck in front his eleven year-old sister. He keeps calling her on not knowing shit about birds. You can barely hear the dialogue over the bird chirping. He clearly knows she's full of shit, but she keeps going with the unsuccessful con and accidentally lets a bird go free. Handsome Suit catches it with his hat. He knows her name is Melanie Daniels. He saw her in court when one of her "pranks" ended up in a broken window. She's annoyed he's onto her game.

Melanie is intrigued by Handsome Suit Lawyer Guy and runs after him. He drives a Galaxie and she memorizes his license plate number. Melanie has decided she will have her bird delivered to her home. She uses a forest green rotary phone to call a reporter friend to look up the license number. Oh, her "daddy" works at the paper, too. Of course. Melanie's decided she wants some lovebirds. Order them, old lady!

Next day, I'm guessing. In a horrendous fur coat, Melanie brings a cage with two lovebirds in it up an elevator. The Sixtieeeeees. A dude with a mustache looks at her suspiciously. He's a neighbor and says the Handsome Suit is in Bodega Bay for the weekend and she probably shouldn't leave the birds in the hallway all weekend. Melanie drives up the coast highway because apparently she can just find him by doing that. The birds in their cage tip with each curve in the highway. Nice. Melanie is driving too fast and her brakes keep screeching. She goes into the local general store looking for Handsome Suit. The proprietor shows her that the Brenners live across the bay. She wants to surprise them, and the main road goes up to the front door. She'll take a boat to cut across and surprise them. There's some disagreement over whether the little girl of the family is named Alice or Lois. This store owner is giving her a lot of information. He tells her where to find the local schoolteacher to check. He must have such a boner to give her all this personal information without asking any questions. This creepy lady is creepy.

The teacher tells Melanie the girl's name is Cathy. The teacher gives her a cigarette and asks if she's Mitch's (Handsome Suit's) friend. The teacher says "everyone" meets Mitch in San Francisco and tells Melanie good luck. That's an exceptionally hot rural coastal school teacher. I see a Schlitz sign. SCHLITZ! I had it once in rural Wisconsin. (Worth it?) Melanie is such a sociopath (psychopath, really), you guys. Her fur coat and heels and updo are ridiculous for this dock/boat situation. The old dock guy starts her little motorboat and off she goes across the bay to stalk Mitch HandsomeBrenner. I love that all the car/boat action shots are totally '60s-worthy blue screen or whatever. As she gets closer, Melanie shuts off the engine and paddles in to better creepily surprise them. She gets off at the Brenners' dock and is excited to stalk them up close. She just fucking walks into the house like a goddamn prowler since she saw everybody leave. She leaves the birdcage and a card for Cathy and hurries back out--but not before ripping up an envelope addressed to Mitch--checking to make sure no one sees her. She climbs back into her boat and paddles away a bit to watch like a goddamn creep. Mitch goes in the house and comes back out, startled. She ducks down in the boat and starts the engine as he spots her from shore with his binoculars. They both smile. He runs and gets in his car and will try to beat her driving back to town, I guess.

Melanie is Smug. Mitch runs out and meets her at the dock and she puts on her "Who, me?" face as a seagull swoops down at her head and draws blood. Mitch helps her out of the water. She says her tetanus shot should be current. Mitch takes her into the local restaurant. So many sea captains at the counter. We find out Mitch is a lawyer as he cleans her wound. He practices criminal law. She claims she's friends with Annie, the schoolteacher. Melanie is such a bad liar. His nautical sweater is pretty great. Their sexy repartee is interrupted by pixelation on the DVD. Fast forward a bit... Mitch's mom shows up and they insist she come to dinner, so Melanie's got to follow through with the pretend friendship with Annie. She's going to rent Annie's room for a night. She picked up stuff from the general store for the night. Of a flock of gulls, Annie says, "Don't they ever stop migrating?" BIIIIIIRDS.

Totes norms first convo with your future SIL.
Later on, Melanie pulls up to the Brenners' in her car. Fucking fur coat. How fucking many animals were killed for that shit? The family walks up the road as she rings the bell. Little Cathy hugs Melanie for the bird gift. Mrs. Brenner calls the vet because their chickens won't eat. BIIIIIIIIIIRDS. Melanie's green skirt suit is majestic. Such nice wood paneling. Mitch brings Melanie a drink as Mrs. Brenner whines on the phone. She finds out a neighbor's birds are also sick or something. The two sets of chickens have different feed, so why won't any of them eat?  After dinner, Melanie plays something soothing on the piano while occasionally pausing to smoke her cigarette. Cathy wonders how Melanie knew she wanted lovebirds and then says most of the people Mitch knows in San Francisco are "hoods." (BLACK PEOPLE) Mrs. B. says some shit about how in a democracy, everybody deserves a good defense blahblahblah. "I know all that democracy jazz. They're still hoods." Right you are, Cathy. Judge those criminals. Judge 'em HARD. They all laugh about how one of Mitch's clients shot his wife seven times for turning the TV channel. Cathy tries to convince Melanie to come to her "surprise" party tomorrow. Mrs. B. interrogates Mitch about Melanie. She's in the society papers all the time, apparently. Mitch calls his mother "Darling." He says he can handle Miss Daniels, though.


Mitch wants to see Melanie again in San Francisco. He interrogates her a bit and she admits all her lies and drives away angry. Many, many birds perched on the power lines to the house. She gets to Annie's and Annie sees she's pissed and offers her some brandy. She pours some in some lil wine glasses. Annie admits she found herself in this little town because she came up with Mitch. Annie talks about how Lydia (Mrs. B.) is a bitch. She says it's not an oedipal thing. Now they're bros. Lydia is worried she'll be abandoned if somebody loves her son since she can't love him, I guess. Annie still likes Mitch "a hell of a lot." The phone rings. It's clearly him. He's calling for Melanie. Annie smokes in the foreground as Melanie talks to her ex on the phone. Melanie is also smoking. She agrees to go to the surprise party tomorrow afternoon. Annie will be there, too. Melanie's bought a nightgown. Annie tells her to nevermind Lydia. She wants to go, so she should go to the party. A noise on the porch. A seagull ran into the door and is dead now. STUPID BIIIIIIIRD.

Next day at the birthday party, Melanie and Mitch go walking in the hills. How can she walk in nature with those heels? They sink into the sand. I'd fucking take them off. Mitch keeps giving her more booze to try to get her to stay for dinner. She says she has to get back to SF for work. Her jobs are mostly socialite nonsense. Fucking with people, taking a single class at Berkeley--oh wait, just hanging out learning swear words on campus?, and keeping a Korean kid in school. She says her Fridays are free. For bird shopping. They drink martinis and smoke. Melanie's mom ran off when she was young. Things start to get a little emotionally real and they quickly walk back down the hill to the party. Annie watches them as she guides the children's games.

A seagull scrapes the blindfolded birthday girl's head. Melanie and Mitch drop their drinks as gulls attack the children. The adults chase the birds off the kids. The birds sound like cats. Annie says, "That makes three times." Scared little white children. Mitch insists Melanie stay for dinner. The lovebirds are noisy. Suddenly, birds come down the chimney and fill the living room where they're eating dessert. Mitch opens a door and the women cower. Melanie protects the little girl. Mitch blocks the fireplace with a table. Melanie pulls Cathy and Lydia into another room as the birds swarm and drop a shit-ton of feathers. In the aftermath, the local sheriff identifies the birds as sparrows There are broken dishes. Mitch tries to explain all the bird attacks, but the sheriff, who is maybe Lydia's nephew, doesn't really believe it. Melanie decides to stay over and help clean up and calm things down. "Sure is peculiar."

In the morning, Mitch is burning something outside. We see Melanie in her nightgown with her hair down and it is way cuter. Bob with curls. Lydia drives off to a neighboring farm in their seafoam green Ford. She goes into the house after no answer and finds a bunch of broken teacups still hanging from their hooks. She finds dead birds all over the place. Her farmer friend is dead, his eyes pecked out. She drops all her shit and runs out of the house. Without telling the farmhand anything, she drives away. Real fast. She pulls up at home and practically falls out of the cab of the truck. She won't say anything. Mitch has to go to the other farm and kisses Melanie's neck and they embrace. "Be careful." Now they're kissing. Hot.

It's not weird that I'm just an older version of you, right?
Melanie brings some tea in to Lydia. The Santa Rosa police are coming in to investigate the farmer's death. Lydia's worried that Cathy's not safe at school. Not sure the lady playing Lydia is old enough to be Mitch's mom, but whatever. She rambles about her dead husband and how she can't reach her kids emotionally like he could. Her room is very mustard-colored. Lydia's not sure if she likes Melanie or not. This convo is supes awkard esp. since Mitch and Melanie have known each other for like three days. Lydia cries about how she doesn't want to be left alone. She wishes she were stronger. Melanie says she'll go get Cathy from school so Lydia won't have to worry.

Melanie drives her silly convertible to the old-timey school where the children are singing inside. Melanie pokes her head into Annie's class and is directed to go fucking wait because it's Singing Time. A bird lands on the jungle gym behind her as she lights a cigarette. Why the fuck would you wait outside? Now there are four birds on the jungle gym. Five. Melanie nervously smokes and waits. How many goddamn verses does this song have? Melanie watches as a bird lands on the playground equipment, which is now completely covered in birds. Melanie hurries back inside and tells Annie not to let the kids out. Annie says they have to demonstrate a fire drill. The kids who live nearby must go home and the other kids have to go to the hotel. She tells them to be quiet and run when she tells them. So many crows or ravens or whatever. The birds lift off as the kids begin to run. The kids scream as birds land on their heads and shoulders and, peck, I guess? This is so fake-looking, I love it. Like, I think it would've been safer to leave the kids in the school, just away from windows.

Birds attacking kids. Cathy and Melanie help a girl who was brought down by several birds. The girl's face is bloody as Melanie ushers them into an unlocked car, but she obviously doesn't have the keys. She honks and eventually the birds and the kids have all dispersed. Melanie is now in the restaurant trying to explain it to her dad on the phone. Of course he accuses her of being hysterical. An old lady says crows and blackbirds are VERY different. She claims she knows about birds and also shut up, young lady. Crazy drunk guy says it's the end of the world as Melanie talks to Mitch on the phone. Ezekiel chapter 6. He's Irish, I think. Irishdruuuuuunk. The waitress is impatient for some bloody marys and is worried about scaring the kids in the restaurant. Disagreement with old lady about a bird war. Ornithology is her AVOCATION THANKYOUVERYMUCH. Different bird species don't work together, stupid blonde lady. Worried mom wants to leave town.

Sheriff Dewey would.
Mitch and the sheriff show up. Drunk guy keeps Bible quoting. Mitch is SRSLY worried, but the Santa Rosa police think the birds were just an afterthought to the farm death. Mitch wants local sea captain guy to help. They see a guy at the gas station across the street get knocked over by birds. The restaurant lady and her kids run back inside as gasoline leaks everywhere. FIRE HAZARD. The spreading puddle reaches a guy about to light a cigarette. They yell to him, but he ends up blowing up anyway. Now several cars and the whole path of gasoline back to the station are on fire. OOPS! Here come the seagulls! Everybody runs outside, stupidly. Somebody sprays the fire with a hose. Melanie climbs inside a glass phone booth because she is A Idiot as the birds swarm around. The fire department shows up as bird clouds swarm and the fire is not particularly effectively fought. Birds keep crashing into the phone booth. Every time Melanie tries to get out, she's swarmed. As they start to break the glass, Mitch pulls her out and back into the restaurant, which is now empty and quiet.

They find all the women hiding in a back hallway. Mrs. Ornithologist cowers. The hysterical mom blames Melanie for everything because the bird shit started when she showed up in town. Melanie slaps her (rightly so). The birds are retreating, so Melanie and Mitch run up to Annie's to retrieve Cathy. The schoolyard and building are again lined with crows. The couple walks by slowly up to Annie's house. Annie lies dead on the front steps. Melanie screams at the sight of her body. Cathy is inside safely, sobbing. Mitch grabs her and she hugs Melanie. The birds make intermittent cries. He wants to throw a rock at the birds on the roof, but Melanie stops him. DUH. His pants have some serious cargo pockets as he puts his jacket over Annie's face. Melanie says not to leave her there, so he picks her body up and brings it inside the house. His cargo pants are pretty high-waisted. Luckily, Melanie's still got her purse. They have to walk back past the playground birds. Mitch walks between the birds and the ladies back to Melanie's car. They put the roof up and cram into the front seat. Apparently Melanie left her keys in the passenger side sun visor. Cathy cries about how Annie shoved her inside and saved her from the birds before she was killed.

Back at the Brenner place, Mitch boards up the windows. Why aren't they leaving town? The birds are amassing again. Mitch claims there's a pattern to their attacks. The phones are dead, so Melanie can't reach her dad in SF. Lydia calls them inside, where a SF radio station reports a crow attack on the kids in Bodega Bay, but they don't have much info. Lydia starts to freak out about what the plan is. "If only your father were here!" Melanie and Mitch get more firewood as Lydia and Cathy cry. Birds head inland to Santa Rosa, apparently. There's a fire in the fireplace and the windows are all boarded up. Something tells me the birds will find a way in again somehow. Fucking Lydia. Cathy wants to bring the lovebirds into the living room, but her mom is like, "Fuck, no." Mitch checks the security of all possible entrances and exits. He eyes the lovebirds. He's going to have to strangle them at some point, I'm pretty sure. Yeah, Lydia, definitely drink some more coffee. Oh wait, she's just cleaning up dishes. She's going to strangle the lovebirds in the kitchen. Somehow she manages not to.

They all sit and wait. They should play a board game or something. Lydia must've been like 16 when her son was born. Cathy is sick and needs to throw up. Melanie goes with her to the bathroom. They suddenly hear thousands of bird cries. Everybody stands up, scared. Mitch tries to build up the fire. Why not just close the flue and secure it with logs or something? They hear crashing and Mitch wrestles a seagull or two through a window. They peck and he bleeds really fake blood while reaching for the errant shutter. He uses an electrical cord to tie it closed. No one helps him. Useless women. Isn't there, like, a basement or bathroom with no windows they can hide in? Mitch goes to clean his wounds as they birds are managing to peck through the front door. He puts a cabinet in front of the door and nails it in place. Melanie watches. The lights suddenly go out and there is but firelight now. Mitch grabs a flashlight. Birds are pecking through walls now, I guess? It seems they may be receding now.

Guys, get in the car and drive. Drive real far away. Like, to the desert or something. Everybody but Melanie sleeps in the firelight. She hears flapping and whispers to Mitch. He doesn't wake up, but she decides to go investigate with the giant flashlight. The lovebirds are still in the cage. The flapping is coming from upstairs. Bad Idea Jeans, Melanie. There's a big bug buzzing around a lamp in my living room, so it's pretty much the same situation in here as the movie right now. Do not go in there. Do not go into a crane shot right now! No but srsly, don't open that door, Melanie. She goes into the bedroom. A hole has been pecked into the ceiling and the room's filled with birds. They come at her as she very, very slowly tries to open the door behind her and becomes more and more scratched up. If you scream, I bet Mitch would wake up and help you. Hit them with that flashlight, bitch! OMG, you can get out, you idiot. He finally comes to the door as her lifeless body blocks it. He breaks through to grab her. Lydia helps fight them off too as they drag her body out. Mitch carries her downstairs. He requests water, antiseptic, bandages, and brandy. Melanie half wakes up and waves her arms to fight the birds off, but Mitch calms her down. So glad she reapplied those false eyelashes right before she was attacked. He gives her some brandy.

They tend to the wounds as she stares, dead-eyed. Mitch says they have to get her to a hospital before another attack. They'll take Melanie's car. Mitch peeks outside. The yard is full of birds. He walks slowly across the porch and they just calmly move out of his way. They're lined up everywhere. He goes to the garage as one nips at his leg. The car is still in good shape. He goes to open the garage door but thinks better of it. He turns on the car radio. He finds out that Bodega Bay has been cordoned off. The town's mostly been evacuated and the military may get involved. I'm not really sure it it's worth trying to get out right now. But Mitch opens the garage, puts the car in neutral, and guides it out to the front door. Careful not to excite the birds, Mitch goes back into the house.

Remember this? Good times.
Melanie is bandaged and catatonic. Mitch tells his mom everything's "all right" as they lead Melanie outside. She hears birds and starts to freak out. They quiet her and get her in the car. Cathy wants to bring the lovebirds. Lydia snuggles Melanie in the backseat. Mitch starts the car and pulls out. The birds seem to only be mildly disturbed by this as he slowly drives through the multitude. So much tweeting as they head down the road. THE END.

A little better than expected. Watch out for biiiiiiiiiirds.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Energy Drink Review: Rockstar Organic


Supposedly Rockstar is now making an "organic" energy drink. I mean, not supposedly, I've got one right here, I am supposing about the "organic" part. However, I have never, ever cared about my consumption of chemicals, so whatevs. I mean, at least I don't live in this Kazakh village where people keep hallucinating and like falling asleep for five days for no discernible reason. (Note to self: maybe you have a sleeping disease?) It's just a new flavor to me. "Island fruit flavor" with organic cane sugar and "organic caffeine from organic green coffee beans." Okay, player. Let's give this shit a go. I've got improv practice and then later a show and I'm still mourning my Troika loss from the other night, so this shit better work.

FLAVOR: I have no idea how to describe what this tastes like. I mean, not much, I guess. It smells kind of "island fruit"-y. Isaac tasted it and says, "It tastes like carbonation... like a vaguely fruity Sprite." There's a bit of an plant-y edge, maybe that's the green coffee bean thing. We'll see how this goes. The flavor never gets better, but it's so un-flavor-y, that you can drink it pretty fast, at least.

EFFECTIVENESS: Guys, it worked real good. Did a bunch of silly kitchen improv and am still feeling pretty good. It works just as well as a regular Rockstar, I guess.

OVERALL: Recommended if you like things that don't quite taste like anything.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Important Competitive Improvising News

GUYS. My fabulous improv trio Useful Knots has made it into the finals of the Minneapolis Troika Madness tournament! Look at how cute and useful we can be:

We're competing against another new trio called Flowers for Megatron. Some people in the rope community have some questions about their origins. It's worth looking into:

Anyway, we face off after a wild card match this Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. at HUGE Theater. $7 ONLY! If you come, you get to help decide the winner. Use your suffrage rights wisely. There's an actual TROPHY involved. Troika tickets.

Additionally, my group Trust Pit continues to perform our brand-new form, The Reconstruction, at 8:00 p.m. Fridays at HUGE. We double feature with MURMUR!--last year's Troika champions, who play at 9:30. $12 presale. Trust Pit/MURMUR! tickets.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Energy Drink/Bureaucracy Review: Red Bull Yellow Edition/Blue Cross Blue Shield

Gang, I don't even want to get started on the tragic story of our missing government-subsidized healthcare, but suffice it to say that through no fault of our own, we have been left uninsured so far in 2015 and I have six Prozac pills left and no refills left on my prescription, so anyway it's been fun. We should officially get coverage this week, so hopefully it'll all work itself out blahblahblah. But anyway, I get to call Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and ask them why they've sent us a $733.72 bill for coverage we never had. HAHAHA SUPERFUN.

This would be too many of this flavor, 7-11.

Anyway, I'm also going to try this Red Bull Yellow Edition (apparently also known as the "Summer Edition" because right now it's probably summer on Mars or something), which is supposed to be "tropical"-flavored. Whatever that means. Probably fucking pineapple. Let's do both of these things!

FLAVOR: Not bad. Not too pineappley. General fruitiness, a tinge of tanginess. Again, not bad. Not great either.

PHONE CALL: "Hang up if this a medical emergency?" Okay. God, voice recognition software is the worst. It keeps making me spell my husband's last name. It starts with a V which is basically impossible to differentiate from any other letter on the phone. They're sending me to a representative. 3 minutes on hold, they estimate. We'll see. Shitty jazzy hold music. Oh, less than 3 minutes! They tell me I have to go back and cancel through MNSure or just let it cancel due to nonpayment OKAY SURE GREAT INSURANCING, GUYS. That was fun how you wanted me to pay you for the two months we've been anxiously waiting for our goddamn insurance cards and paying out of pocket for all our prescriptions and putting off doctor's appointments! (I didn't say any of that stuff to the nice lady who has to answer for terrible corporate decisions, just to Isaac afterwards.)

EFFECTIVENESS: It's hard to say if the energy drink or my righteous indignation is hyping me up more, but I'm pretty sure it's a potent combination. No longer as angry, the drink is doing its job in that my legs are extra shaky and my typing fingers feel especially fast. I keep thinking how silly it is that the pull tab on these Red Bull cans, instead of just the oval, features the outline of the bull. Like, why? It's hard to identify. I keep thinking it's, like, an elephant-fishwhaleman. Look:

Image source.

OVERALL: Whatever. It's fine. Not my fave flave, but it works good and stuff. DO WHAT YOU WANT, STOP LETTING THE (WO)MAN TELL YOU WHAT TO DO.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Energy Drink Review: Red Bull Orange Edition

Red Bull, elder statesman of the U.S. energy drink industry, has come out with a couple new flavors as part of its Total Zero line. Apparently not everybody's into the classic flavor ("Spree candy/noxious chemicals"). As I recall I wasn't really into whatever the Red, Silver and Blue "Editions" were supposed to taste like, but it appears I never bothered to review them here. SORRY, AMERICA. I picked up a few of the 12-ouncers because the Super America at Lake and Aldrich in Uptown has all the new flavors of energy drinks and is my go-to place for between-show snacks. Anyway, here's the first one of these guys: the Orange Edition I appreciate that though it is "orange," the can clearly tells us that it is artificially flavored, not trying to claim that, say, 3% juice is, like, even a thing. All I've accomplished this afternoon is napping, so we'll see if this helps.

FLAVOR: It's orange-y! Not bad. Much better than any of the other Red Bull alternate flavors I've tried. It's definitely an energy drink-tinged orange, but I'm into that. Less sweet than an orange soda.

EFFECTIVENESS: Isaac just used the word "phenomenon" and then I starting yelling "pheNOMNOMNOM," so I think you could say it's working now. I shared the fuck out of some events on Facebook. (INCLUDING THIS ONE TUESDAY NIGHT BRYANT LAKE BOWL.) Feeling pretty pumped to go to an improv practice and drill this new form straight into the fucking ground. So yes, effective.

OVERALL: Recommended. It's a decent flavor and works good. Worth a try at least.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Live (or at least recorded) comedy stylings by yours truly!

"You have the funniest energy drink reviews."
"Your take on the Godfather trilogy should be immortalized in stone."
"I bet your dissertation that you are definitely working on actively is super-smart and good."

Have you found yourself wanting to say these things to me? I don't blame you. Want more of me? You can listen and watch me do long-form improvisational comedy things!

Don't you wanna just hang out with us? Photo courtesy Next at Bat.
First up: Do you podcast? I don't unless I'm on one because listening to words without music is almost as unappealing to me as listening to music without words, but I am a dick. You should! You should very much listen to the Twin Cities' own improv podcast, Next at Bat, hosted by the lovely and talented Matt McCloud and Philip Simondet. Recently they had on my group Snack Time, interviewed us about our "artistic vision" and did some 'provs with us. Only two-thirds of us showed up and we are a bunch of clique-y, giggling assholes, but I think it turned out pretty good anyway: Next at Bat episode 51 with Snack Time. (Free!)

Next: I have two shows closing this weekend! Friday, February 27 at HUGE Theater is your last chance to see me in the Deconstruction as part of Throwback Night at 8:00 p.m. Snack Time will have our last opening set for the Bearded Men at 10:30 on Friday, also. ($12 for 8/9:30, $7 for 10:30, $18 all-night pass)

Next next: I got drawn out of a lottery by the Troika Gods to once again participate in the Minneapolis Troika Madness Tournament. It's improv. It's a competition. It's an improv competition! You may recall that my group Pigmeat was robbed of first place last year, but I shall not be twice denied! I will be performing with Jake Scott and Mary Kane as Useful Knots in the first round next Wednesday, March 4 at 8:00 p.m. at HUGE Theater. Come! Watch! Vote for us so we can move on to the semi-finals March 18. (Tournament brackets forthcoming.) ($7)

Nextest of all: My Deconstruction group will be reborn as Trust Pit, performing an as-yet-unnamed new improv form at 8:00 at HUGE on all the Fridays in March and April.

Energy Drink Review: Rockstar Lime Freeze

There is nothing "frozen" about this drink unless you live in MN and leave it in your car or something.
[Ed. note: JK, I am my own editor, but SRSLY I wrote this like a week ago and then forgot to publish it. I have no actual plans to leave my home today. Don't get confused.]

In an effort to produce energy drinks in every goddamn possible flavor, even when they are abominations, Rockstar has put out a couple of drinks that are supposed to taste like frozen booze beverages: Lime Freeze and Pina Colada. Because pineapple is kind of the worst, I am declining to taste and review that one because we all know it will just say "Pineapple is not good, I do not like this." But I'm giving the ol' Lime Freeze a go. True fact: the first booze beverage I was particularly fond of was Mike's Hard Lime. I'd drink four of those and be good to go. You can tell I was very young because my stomach was able to process that much sugar at once and also it only took four very weak beverages to get me satisfactorily drunk. Ah, to be 21 again! JK, that was a kind of horrible time in my life and I never want to go back.

FLAVOR: It is very lime-y. Actually, not unlike the Mike's Lime. Will my old-lady guts be able to handle sixteen ounces of this? ONLY TIME WILL TELL. Halfway in, it's decent and not making me sick or anything.

EFFECTIVENESS: It's working, bros. I'm feeling much less lethargic. We have plans to leave the house tonight and everything. It is a perfectly useful energy beverage. Might not finish it before we go out, but it's definitely doing its job.

OVERALL: I drank most of it before we left the house and only felt slightly icky. Recommended if very lime-y things are your thing.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Shut it down, guys. I can't believe I didn't know until now that the comics page's sloppiest love letter to mediocrity achieved its most glorious moment back on January 27th. I sincerely apologize for slacking on my Pluggers coverage.

There is nothing left to say or do. We've reached peak Pluggers, and of course Pluggers entirely lacks self-awareness and has continued to print more comics each day. But we know. We know.

It can never get more Plugger-y than this.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Energy Drink Review: Mountain Dew Kickstart Strawberry Kiwi

This is a drink you can drink.
I've written here about the Mountain Dew Kickstart before. It's a perfectly okay beverage! Looks like PepsiCo is branching out and there are a few new members to the Kickstart family. This particular drink is billed as "Kickstart Hydrating Boost" and the flavor is "Energizing Strawberry Kiwi," so yeah. This is happening. The other new flavor had pineapple in it, so I took a hard pass on that one, OBVS. It's only a twelve-ounce can and I'm not particularly sleepy, just unmotivated to revise a draft for my sketch writing class because doing things is hard and the worst. Let's give this "NATURALLY AND ARTIFICIALLY FLAVORED SPARKLING JUICE BEVERAGE BLEND FROM CONCENTRATE" a go!

FLAVOR: It's pretty tasty. Like, a lightly carbonated strawberry something or rather. I like it.

EFFECTIVENESS: My leg shakiness has increased and I'm thinking pretty seriously about looking at the word document I should be working on. Like, I already changed the date and which number draft it is, and honestly, the changes I need to make to this sketch are not that significant and will be fun to do, but I don't want to start. Because doing things is my kryptonite. The energy drinks protect me from hurting myself while exerting effort. Something in the caffeine. Or the taurine. Whatever. I'm sticking to this story. I just added two lines and some stage direction to my sketch, so I'd say overall all that it's working! Finished it and did some more tweaking, so hooray! Success! I may even let Isaac take me grocery shopping (which I hate) before Project Runway All-Stars tonight.

OVERALL: Drink it, it's pretty good and stuff.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Energy Drink Review: Rockstar Horchata Energy

Have you ever been like, "I could use an energy boost, but I'd really like there to be milk involved"? Well, lucky you! Rockstar is now selling a "tradicional [sic] dairy beverage with natural cinnamon flavors." HORCHATA ENERGY DUH OF COURSE THIS IS HAPPENING. I think horchata is yummy generally, but I am skeptical as fuck about this going well. The can says to shake well. I Taylor Swifted the shit out of that thing. Now, to try it:


FLAVOR: Whoa. That is happening. Oh, god. At first you're like, "Mmm, it's like Cinnamon Toast Crunch milk," but then it's like, "Oh dear god, what is this awful over-cinnamon-y/metallic aftertaste?" I am not sure how much of this I can handle. Does Rockstar make a chaser for this drink? Oh no, the more I have, the less I hate it. It's still not good, but maybe you build up, like a milky chemical layer on your tongue and throat so you can't taste it as much after awhile. I'm almost done with it and it is less jarringly awful than the first few glugs, but my stomach feels a little bit weird right now, I won't lie. Also, still not good.

EFFECTIVENESS: It is hard to say since I am choking it down in large gulps, attempting to bypass most of my tongue. That seems to help with the metallic aftertaste. My legs were already shaking because of how I that is my jam, even when I'm exhausted, but perhaps a bit faster now. Well, I just photoshopped a data entry joke based on a shitty Craigslist ad onto a picture of Lars Ulrich and he's probably going to sue me, so at least the caffeine part of this drink isn't complete shit.

Oh dear lord, I finally finished. Lots of weird cinnamon/metallic on the last drink. If you like horchata or energy drinks, you should stay away. If you believe that humanity can do better, definitely do not try this drink.



Are you sure that is what you want?

Re: This ad. Credit to Matt for the suggestion of This Fucking Guy^.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sci-Fi Classics: Live-Blogging "The Abyss"

This is an undersea movie. LET'S GET WET, 1989-style!

Can you dig it? They can! (For oil, underwater.)
A submarine. Dudes are talking about "Reds." It's the '80s! Cold War party!!!!! Some sort of proximity warning. Numbers. "Nothing goes 130 knots." Something's going to collide with them. It's a light or something? Did they just go through an underground warp zone? Collision blahblahblah. Fire, yelling, water leaks. I would never voluntarily get on a submarine. Almost as bad as a spaceship. Drowning/suffocation is inevitable. The ship is sinking. The captain says, "Launch the boy" I think he means "buoy." The ship is penetrated and water gets all over them and they scream and sink and die.

You didn't know this movie had royalty, did you?
Helicopters land on an aircraft carrier. A LADY arrives. "Queen bitch of the universe," some douche calls her. The lady says they're turning the wreck over to the "goon squad." I don't really know what's happening. Underwater dudes are looking around at something. Ed Harris is their boss. He gets a video call. It's the Navy calling. Their underground drilling company is apparently being utilized to investigate the sinking. They're going to pay them pretty well because they can get there before the Navy's salvage ships can and there's a storm coming or something. Ed Harris is Not Pleased they have to do this. The lady is pissed their submersible drilling rig she designed is being used for something else. She and Ed Harris are exes or something. She is on another submersible or something. I don't know, I don't really care. She doesn't want to be called "ma'am" by her team. She's worried they won't all make it to the right depth. Oh my god, I just don't care. The dudes are Navy Seals, I think. Their commander has a mustache. He's getting the hand-shaking symptoms of water pressure-itis or whatever as they arrive on the oil rig ship thing.

Guys, I hope the dramatic stakes in this movie helps these two near-exes forget all the very good reasons they are breaking up  and postpone their divorce for a few years!
She does not like to be called "Mrs. whatever." No one likes Lindsey. She's worked on this project for four years, and she and her ex were together three. Ed Harris drops his wedding ring in a toilet, but then changes his mind. His hand's all blue from fishing it out of the chemical-y toilet water. The crew is worried about radiation from the crashed sub. Mustache Navy dude is stern. Ed Harris is resentful. One of the Seals shows the nerdy crew guy how the weird fluid they breathe at very deep depths works on his rat, forcibly. They're all going down two and half miles into The Abyss. Lindsey's down to her tank top to pilot a ship. The little exploratory ships have reached the wreck. Not much sign of radiation. There are dudes in diving suits, but not sure where they are, since it's just ships investigating the ship right now. Oh, okay now they're going.  They're launching an ROV. Isaac is questioning some of the water pressure science happening here. The second woman in this movie is a butch black lady.

SRSLY though, how awesome would it be if they busted into some sweet underwater choreography up on that platform?
The sub had a ton of warheads on it. The divers are going to enter the sub through the pressure hold breach. They are now inside exploring. They have to break into some compartment where they find the bodies. Be cool, bro. Do they really think they're going to find survivors? In the missile compartment, Jammer sees sea spiders crawl out of a dude's mouth. He kind of freaks out. Ed Harris is going to stay on the other end of this orange rope from him, no problem. They have to make sure that they clear any compartments that might have air. Jammer's flashlight goes out and he loses voice contact with Bud (Ed). He tugs on the rope until it gets cut off on something. He's freaking the fuck out. Weird lights are maybe happening? Shitty keyboard choral music. Jammer tries to get away. Jammer is seizing. They think too much oxygen. Bud tries to fix the mixture.

Lindsey's ship shuts down and she sees a ball of light flit out from the crash site. It's like a pink sea bug thing? Her power comes back on and she has to go save the divers. Seal: "Look, I'm just a medic." Jammer's going to be in a coma, I guess. Lindsey's developing some film. Bud asks her what she saw. She doesn't want to say. She doesn't know what it is. The Seals think it could've been a Russian bogey. They're ordered to move to "Phase 2" which involves arming a warhead. The TV news claims it was a Russian ship that sank the sub. On the surface it's stormy. Cuban and Russian ships are monitoring shit. "Hippy," the rat guy, is nervous. The Seals have stolen a craft, I think. The hurricane on the surface is all hurricaney. It's dangerous for the dudes to be swimming right now or something. They follow arming directions from a "SECRET" set of directions. Mustache's hand shakes again. He wants no one to touch his bag full of nuclear warhead. The black lady is being sent down to do something else now.

If you were going to costume a butch oil rig worker, this is exactly what you'd pick out, isn't it?
She's trying to disconnect some umbilical cable, but the water currents are like intense or whatever. The rig is being pulled to the abyss. Topside, the winch gets destroyed, so that's not good. They're not connected to the top anymore. Sirens and lights in the rig. Whatshername's ship almost gets hit by crane parts. Hippy puts his rat in a ziploc bag to protect him. The crane crashes down right next to the rig. Uh-oh, now it's falling over the edge and it's going to pull them down, too. Ruh-roh! Sparks, fires, water leaks. Lindsey finds an oxygen mask. A Seal yells to Hippy to seal a room that has flames. Is his warhead going to go off? Hippy's rat in a bag starts to float away and he grabs it right before a little ship crashes into a doorway. Another dude gets smooshed under it in some water, I think? I don't know. Whatever. Water crashes into some room. Someone? seals the door and they're trapped, drowning.  Bud can't open it. The hose has to be cut inside. Water starts to crash down on him too and he runs. His fingers get smashed in an automatic door as water fills in behind him. A couple of the other dudes cut the hose motors and try to pry him out. He gets out and water pours in after him. They get to another chamber and are able to shut the hatch. His wedding ring kept his finger from getting actually smashed. SYMBOLISM?

The team can't reach anybody on the radio. Mustache tells Bud he was under orders and had no choice about something. Lindsey is trying to fix some shit. They're not going to have heat or enough oxygen to outlast the storm. Bud's glad she's here. She's not. She has to go outside to do something reparative. The video feed from the ROV with her keeps cutting out. The power goes out. The weird pink glowy thing comes up behind her. It's like a glowing ship/fish with lights and other stuff inside. It goes away and the mother ship comes up out of the Abyss. It's mostly pink and glowing and clear and has flashy lights. It's checking her out and making whirring/purring noises. She pets it? It starts to move away and then suddenly jets when she tries to take a picture. The little one is playful. Once they're gone, the power comes back.

Lindsey tries to explain what she saw. She says it's not human and it's intelligent. Hippy is pumped about UFOs. Underwater. UUFO. UUSwimmingO? Bud pulls her aside and accuses her of inciting hysteria. SEXIST. She tries to describe how it glided and was beautiful. It was a living machine. She needs Bud to believe her. "We all see what we want to see," she says. The Seals see Russians. Bud is not feeling it.

The Seals are doing surgery on the missile they recovered. An ROV looks in their window. Hippy's spying on them. He records the video feed on VHS. Hippy seems like he pretty much knows what's up. Lindsey overhears and is pissed. She tries to break into the Seals' room. She uncovers their missile and is PISSED that it's on her rig. Mustache sweats and tells her to make an about-face. A Seal grabs Lindsey and Bud puts on an alarm to alert the others. Mustache is named Coffey, but I'm going to keep calling him Mustache. Mustache is also played by Michael Biehn, Designated Sexy Dude in '80s Sci Fi Films, but with sinister facial hair here. Mustache's shaky hand was gripping a handgun. He says they can't trust the crew."We're going to have to take steps." Doesn't sound good. Hippy tells everyone Mustache's hand is shaking.

Lindsey wants to send down another ROV to get evidence that it's not Russians down there before the Seals mistakenly nuke the ocean. Mustache watches her argue about it with Hippy on a security monitor and hears everything they're saying. The crew tries to get some sleep. Hippy gets the ROV ready to go explore and then goes to bed. A pink light comes into the diving pool. A shape forms out of the water and moves down a hallway on the rig. It opens a hatch and sees people sleeping. It finds Lindsey and she tries to wake up Bud as a weird water worm looks at them. Butch Black Lady wakes up. They also wake up the bearded dude. He's about to throw a plant at it. It's looking at Lindsey. The end of the pillar of water mimics her face. 1989 CGI! It's not bad. Then it makes Bud's face. She touches it and tastes it, Mulder-style. It's seawater. Then the pillar retreats and they run after it. There is playful music playing. Isaac calls it whimsical. The water worm has found the warhead. Mustache and his surviving bro see the originating end of it at the pool and shut a door, cutting it in half. It retreats back into the ocean. Nice one, Mustache. RUDE.

"So raise your hand if you think that was a Russian water tentacle." Nice one, Queen Bitch! Mustache is so sweaty and paranoid looking. Eyes very shifty. Hippy thinks Lindsey saw their ships earlier. Mustache is slicing stripes into his arm with a big ol' knife. He tells his guy, "It went straight for the warhead, and they think it's cute." Inaccurate. There is a stuffed Garfield with suction limbs on their porthole. Mustache is arming himself. He's freaking out because they have no contact to the surface and it's all up to them now. This is going to end so well, you guys. Hippy makes his way down to the pool and sees that the Seals have armed his ROV with the newly-armed warhead. Mustache catches him lurking. The Seals pull guns on the whole crew. There's a Coke fountain machine. Mustache grabs his injured bro to help. Lindsey tries to talk to him and he throws her.  He puts duct tape on her face and throws everybody in the kitchen. There's three hours on the warhead's timer. Injured Seal says they don't have enough time to get a minimum safe distance away by then and Mustache disarms him. THINGS ARE SO FUCKING GOOD.

The injured dude tries to convince his Navy bro not to comply with Mustache's fake crazy orders. Jammer is awake and lets everybody out of the kitchen. He thinks he saw an angel down there. Mustache has tied up the door wheel thing. They have to find another way to sub-bay. Bud is going to swim to Hatch 6. Lindsey is worried he'll freeze. Beard's going to go with him. They strip down and go under. They're, like, legit outside right now. They find the hatch they want and open it. There's some air at the top of the pressure hatch. Beard is going to stay here while Bud goes on to some other place. Oh, he swims up into their pool. He sees Mustache playing with some chains and tries to quietly pull himself out. He's so cold. The crew is duct taping one of the Seals up. As the crew watches on a security monitor, Bud approaches Mustache with a large blunt object. Mustache pulls his gun and the trigger, but it either isn't loaded or malfunctions. They hit each other. Apparently the taped-up Seal took out his bullets. But now they're in a knife fight. Mustache gets the upper hand and starts choking Bud. Apparently Beardo made it through the water too and punches Mustache off Bud. Mustache jumps into one of the little ships and they try to pull the armed ROV off as he drives it away.

Let us not worry about which plot points have brought his shirt to this state, just appreciate the gifts you've been given..
Beardo shoots at the ship in the pool. Bud puts on an underwater suit and gives chase. Lindsey gets in a ship to follow also. Mustache is NOT looking good. He's stuck or something and Bud is able to start trying to take the thing off. He ties a rope to the ROV just before Mustache releases it. He ties it to the rig. Mustache better have some giant scissors on there. His pincers are not very good when he crashes into the building. He elbows to death a tape player that just started playing. Mustache starts chasing Bud himself. His torn shirt keeps getting more and more messed up.  It's half a shirt now. Lindsey crashes her lil ship into Mustache's. Mustache's has a fire. She picks up Bud but not before he says "I'm comin', Baby. Keep your pantyhose on." You should continue to divorce him. The rope comes undone, but they're able to grab it with the sub's arm until Mustache rams them and they lose "Geek," the little ROV. A chase ensues.

Ramming, Bud giving "Baby" directions. She causes a minor avalanche to get in Mustache's way and then rams him while he can't see and crashes him into some rocks. The two little subs are now stuck together and Mustache's is going over the edge. It doesn't pull theirs, though. He falls and then his craft implodes. The craft Bud and Lindsey are in is all broken. They won't be able to catch Big Geek in this. They're being flooded in the meantime. He's got a wetsuit on, but she's really cold. They should share a suit. She won't survive before he swims to the rig and back. He wants her to put the air helmet on and swim, but she wants him to wear the whole suit and pull her body back. She says she can be revived with hypothermia. He is reluctant, but it makes the most sense. He kisses her. She's cold and crying and about to drown. She's pretty dead and he's pulling her body back to the rig. The crew preps all the first aid stuff. They pull her out and start shocking her and stuff. They put hot packs all over her and pump air into her. Also, we see her really cold boobs. Bud keeps trying compressions, but she's gone. They didn't actually try the adrenaline shot he asked for. She's pretty blue. Maybe the sea alien will cure her. Bud freaks out and keeps trying CPR. They shock her again. He yells and slaps her to fight. He shakes her and she starts to breathe. She coughs and they all laugh. HAHA NEAR DEATH, AMIRITE?

She wakes up again later and they stroke each other's faces. How much longer until the warhead goes off? Okay, now they're prepping Bud to go disarm it, there's about an hour left. He has to wear contacts to see through the weird breathing fluid. They're putting weights on him to drop him to the bottom. He can't talk with the fluid, but he'll have a keyboard and can hear them talk. It's kind of freaky when he has to adjust to the liquid inside the helmt. Supposedly your body will remember breathing liquid in the womb.

He's calmer now and says it feels weird. He's basically wearing a full-on space suit. One of the dudes is wearing a Packers letterman jacket. OBVIOUSLY. Bud's holding onto a little tiny ROV and it's going to lead him straight to Big Geek with the warhead. Bud goes off the edge and lets Little Geek and the weights take him down in to the Abyss. Bud's currently setting a record for the deepest suit dive. He's one mile down and occasionally bumping off the side. He's having hand shaking stuff. The team wants Lindsey to talk to him, emotionally. Gross.

Ugh, worst almost-ex-wife ever, amirite?
She talks to him at 12,000 feet. He can't type right. She tells him to listen to her voice. Little Geek breaks and Bud keeps falling. He bounces off the cliff wall and tumbles down. He's got a flare to light the way. Lindsey tries to talk him through. "I'm with you. I'll always be with you." OH WHO'S NOT GETTING A DIVORCE NOW? Beardo chimes in. Bud finally types back that he feels a little better. He sees lights. The Seal guy thinks he's hallucinating, but it's the aliens. The Navy guy will tell him how to disable the bomb. Bud's flare goes out and now he's using a glow stick. Underwater rave! This green light isn't helping him see the right light colors on the wires. He almost cuts one and then tries the other, maybe? No explosion. He only has five minutes left on his air mixture, but it took him thirty to get down there. Lindsey wants him to head back now, but he says he knew this was a one way ticket. "love you wife" he texts. She loves him blahblahblah. I guess he's just going to chill by the lights now and wait to die.

Bud sees some pink lights come at him. A thing that looks like a glowing manta ray comes towards him. An alien dude looks at him from inside (I think) and extends a hand. It has only three fingers and flaps him away to their underground city or whatever. Inspirational music. Not great CGI here, but good for 1989. They fly down into a tunnel. Bud is getting sleepy. He lands somewhere and it seems like they're making him an oxygen room by moving the water away. He takes off his helmet to breathe. He throws up the water mixture stuff and coughs a bit. He takes off the air tanks and sees some of the glowy ray dudes floating next to the water wall. "Howdy." They show him his last messages again. Choral-type musicks. He salutes them. An alien face fades into clouds in front of the sun. Triumphant music.

The ship on the surface is trying to contact the rig now. They debate how to get them back. Suddenly, they get a message from Bud. He's okay and has new friends. Suddenly the rig starts to shake. Pink light approaches. The big ship is rising up out of the deep. It rises out of the water and is a big purple/pink thing rising up underneath their ship. It's the whole spaceship. All the dudes are like, WTF? The rig is on top of it, too. The survivors climb out. "We should be dead," Lindsey says. "We didn't decompress." Bud climbs out of tunnel with his arms raised triumphantly. They walk to each other and start to make out.

Blahblahblah the end. So long. Literally, I'm not saying goodbye, that movie was just so. long. Ugh, James Cameron, get an editor.