Short Film Theatre: Das Clown

Friday, May 22, 2009
Take a seemingly-sweet tale about an old man and a beloved clown doll that comes to life: mix in the elementary school film-strip style (complete with narrator), and apply a liberal dose of over-the-top weirdness and murder, and what do you have? Das Clown, that's what!

The short film was the creation of director Tom E. Brown, whose film production company, Bugsby Pictures has a website almost tototally lacking in content, but displaying the most awesome motto ever: Making movies like your mom used to make.

(Bonus random fact: Blues Traveler frontman and harmonica virtuouso John Popper provided the narration for the eight-minute film.)

Pseudonym: Don't I have, like, veto power or something? Jesus...

Eldritch: Do you suffer from Coulrophobia? Gosh. Well, today's post on Cake Wrecks probably isn't the best choice, either.

Pseudonym: I wouldn't say I suffer from it. Or that it's a fear, really. I'm not scared of them trying to eat my brains or watch me while I dream, but I do hate them and their insulting assumption that I should find them funny.

Though I've never seen It. Maybe if I did, I could convert the hatred to fear. (And then to anger, and then to the Dark Side. I've always wanted Lightning Powers.)

The Perils of Pets

Monday, May 18, 2009
You know those giant-sized goldfish that are so popular in landscaped ponds? Koi, they're called: what the hell are they?

Oh. They're carp? Carp? Man, the human race will domesticate anything. They really shouldn't.

For example, Skunks? Skunks?! Has evolution not given you abundant reason to stay the hell away from skunks?

While we're at it, can we just lump lions, tigers, wolfs, dingoes and monkeys together into the category of "things you shouldn't have in your house because they'll probably kill you"? Apparently not. (I'm not kidding about monkeys. Enjoy your Herpes B: progressively ascending paralysis, confusion, coma, multiple organ failure and a 70% death rate. But it's sooo cute.)

Or, 'Fancy Rats.' Fancy rats? Give me a break, it doesn't matter how fancy your rat is, it's still a damn Norway Sewer Rat. Seriously, the brown rat is the most successful mammal on the planet: it has established itself on every continent except Antarctica (and I fully expect to see Antarctic snow rats before long). Does this species really need our patronage?

Now the Gambian Pouch Rat, there's an example of rat put to good use. They find landmines, for heaven's sake, who could argue with that? And they detect Tuberculosis as well as a human lab technician. They're like the seeing-eye dog of vermin. That's an animal that you should keep as a pet. What? Wait, Monkeypox? Okay, nevermind.

Also, some people keep anteaters as pets. But, honestly, I'm pretty sure they're only useful for hilarious anteater-caption images (warning: coarse language).

Pseudonym: Didn't you once have a few bats as pets?

Pretty Noose

You heard it here first: I hate ties.

A holdover from the 17th century, neckties are direct descendants of the ascot, itself a descendant of the cravat, which itself is the descendant of the traditional decoration of Croation Mercanaries during the 30-Years War.

But who cares? They're stupid.

Men who wear them now do so only as a matter of tradition; a way to dress for work or occasions that supposedly require that tradition to be effective. People think that men in ties look dashing, or classy, but I always think that people wearing them look like fops - one handkerchief dangling from a cuff away from having a fainting spell when seeing a spider.

And why shouldn't I? That image has been carefully cultivated when looked at from a historical perspective. Nowadays people claim that a necktie is a great opportunity to show your individuality. In case you don't see the irony here, let me be clear: it's about 1/100th as great an opportunity as being able to dress yourself as you see fit. No, instead we basically force men to wear the same, ill-fitting, uncomfortable clothes as everyone else and tell them they have 10 square inches to express themselves (from the available pool of acceptable ties) in an effort to differentiate them from the rest of the IBM Engineers of the 1950s.

Some men like this, and to be honest, I can see their point. When you have no personality to speak of, then not having to worry about dressing yourself in a way that projects that personality is great. We have 400 years of tradition to fall back on, so if you wear black pants, white oxford and a tie without Looney Tunes on it, you're going to look "ok".

I'm not claiming I'm a basition of individuality. I hate having to pretend to care about how I'm dressed, and if not having to think about it works for them, great. My beef is with the level of comfort and the type of activity being done in these ridiculous things.

First of all, ties need to be tied, an annoying procedure that can be accomplished in a great many styles, such as the Windsor, the Half-Windsor, the Buckingham, the Elvis, the Ghandi and the Twist. My particular preference is to have someone else do it for me, and then simply make the hole large enough so I can slip my head in and out of it when I need to. Tying ties takes practice, and I for one don't think it's worth it to be good at it.

Second, they're uncomfortable. It's literally tied around your neck. Who the hell thought this was a good idea? My dog's collars are looser than this. For one, it forces you to do up the top button on your shirt, itself uncomfortable for people having to, say, swallow or breathe. Have you noticed that when men get off work they loosen their tie and undo the top button? Why do you think that is?

Finally, it's not appropriate for every job. If your job involves, say, doing maintenance on tractors, working in an assembly line, digging ditches or painting, then you shouldn't be made to wear a tie. I would suggest that my job is a poor candidate for tie-wearing, but no matter. Wear the tie we must, because we must wear the tie.

You might laugh, but it's a real phenomenon. Nevermind the gruesome image of the industrial accident, ties themselves are a disease-transmission vector, since they're a) right in front and down of someone's face and b) almost never washed. In September 07, the hospitals in England outlawed the wearing of ties in hospitals for this very reason. This comes in addition to the fact that the first thing paramedics do when confronted with an unconcious tie-wearer is to, yep, cut off the tie. But it's worth it, we look so cool!

One possible solution to this is to wear what is known as a clip-on tie, that is, one that requires no tying, no strangulation and, when yanked, pops right off. You'll be ridiculed for dressing like a 6-year-old, but that's not a bad solution overall. It's not as good as wearing no tie at all, though, is it? It's like wearing a tie clip, instead of just taking the damn thing off.

Can we get rid of them, please? Workers are more productive when they're happy and comfortable. Let them wear t-shirts and jeans if they want and you'll make more money. If they prefer suits and ties, or feel they have to wear them to sell cars or whatever, then that's fine, just don't make it a mandate in jobs where it's not appropriate. Look no further to the famous historical culture shift between IBM and Microsoft, and look where they are now. Even Iran has banned them, on the grounds that they're a symbol of Western Oppression. Let me repeat that. A symbol of Western Oppression.

The wearing of neckties is on the decline, thankfully, but not in my immediate vicinity. Casual Fridays and places of business where they're not stuck in a time warp have led to the declining membership of tie manufacturers and designers in the Men's Dress Furnishings Assoiciation. I say good riddance.

Tomorrow: Why "dress shirts" should be used as cannon wadding.

Eldritch: Preach on! Ties are the most ridiculous part of menswear (a field that has much to complain about: how did menswear result in a situation where 1,000 properly-dressed businessmen will end up wearing essentially the same outfit, differing only by color? I'm sure it says something about the strange sex dynamics involved in fashion and mate selection: something to do with conformity and attraction and stuff like that.)

So, as a matter of protest, I suggest the ultimate in minimal-effort disdainful neckwear: the Bolo Tie. If anybody gives you guff, just tell them if it's good enough to be the official neckwear of the state of Arizona, it's good enough for me.