Friday, December 30, 2011

No Church In The Wild: The Lightning Round

Dear Zac, What do you do when a hardcore vegetarian starts guilt tripping you for eating meat?

Just start salivating and then try to bite them. That's what they think of us anyway!

Hey Zac I'm a 17 year old guy from England, I'm not very popular at school; I'm kind of a clinger on. Not many people like me much and I barely go out at all. I will be going to university next year and I've never had a girlfriend or even kissed a girl. I worried that I'm gonna be socially awkward and have little friends for the rest of my life. Any Advice?

You're from England? COME TO AMERICA. Girls will literally line up and bend over when they hear your accent. And since our nation was founded by people who were unpopular in your country, it will be a nice thematic fit, too.

How do you inform a friend that they're a bitch?

This is one of those times when "a friend" means "you" right?

Hey Zac, I am 18 and I've only had 1 girlfriend and I think she didn't know what to say so she just said yes any advice on how to get a girlfriend?

MOST girls only say yes because they don't know what else to say. No shame in that game! It's what you do AFTER you've guilted them in to dating you that counts. So keep that pathetic act going! It has worked very well for me.

My boyfriend and I have nothing in common. When I told him that the world has come between us he reminded me that one time we watched "Breakfast at Tiffany's" I recall that we both kinda liked it, but Zac do you think that's enough of a reason to stay in relationship with him?

You know, the philosopher MC Skat Kat once said that opposites attract. And while that is true in some cases, usually you need some kind of foothold to sustain a relationship. My wife and I go mountain climbing. GET IT? FOOTHOLD?

But seriously, you just got that song stuck in my head. So fuck you.

SEASON 2 of NO CHURCH IN THE WILD: the video series starts next week. Happy New Year, everybody!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I Enjoyed Breaking Dawn More Than Harry Potter And Other Movie Revelations From 2011

This was sort of a rebuilding year for movies, right? Most of the stuff we got excited about hasn't come out yet (The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, The Avengers, etc) and some of the stuff that it seemed like we were excited about turned out to be stuff we weren't very excited about after all (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo*). Movies that were hits came seemingly out of nowhere (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. Mission Impossible). And a lot of movies that looked rad were in limited release, meaning most of us haven't had a chance to see them yet (Take Shelter, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Drive, Beginners, Win Win, Sleeping Beauty, Cedar Rapids**).

(*Or maybe not yet? Give Dragon Tattoo another weekend. America didn't want to see a collection of loosely-strung together rape scenes--basically the 9 Songs of rape, I take it--over Christmas weekend, but maybe New Year's?)
(**I'm starting to realize I might have to rent movies from iTunes from now on? Is that how it's going to be? Christ.) 

The other sign, for me, was that I didn't go to the movies very much this year. And I'm a big "going to the movies" guy, for lack of a better term (cinephile is not the right word for someone who saw Transformers 3). But I saw some movies that I liked, and here is basically my top ten:

10. The Other Guys

This movie came out in 2010, but I only got to it this year because nobody told me how fucking funny it is. Two words: Michael Keaton. That should be all you need to know. But if that doesn't work: Michael Keaton working at Bed, Bath and Beyond. But also: you know when you laugh half because it's funny and half because you were not expecting there to be a joke there? Imagine doing that for two hours. Gosh, when I write it like that it sounds so unpleasant! But it's not. Michael Keaton working at Bed, Bath and Beyond, okay?

9. Transformers: Dark Of The Moon

Give Michael Bay a little credit. His learning curve is a long one, but it exists. After complaints about the incomprehensibility of the action in Transformers 2, he clearly made an effort to clean up the camera work and give us a few more wide angles. I could follow what was going on about 75% of the time. And I thoroughly enjoyed about 25% of that 75%. Which doesn't sound like much, but then you remember that it's about nine hours long. But seriously folks, the last 45 minutes of this movie is an action sequence that was totally bonkers-fantastic in the theater. I mean, there's a visual reference to Oldboy in there for fuck's sake! Of course we have to wait for Transformers 4 for Michael Bay to fix his other mistake: Shia LeBeouf. Oy, the Shia. I heard Jason Statham is the choice to topline the franchise from here on out, and I hope he will bring a new (British, charming) sense of humor to the proceedings. Because as we left the theater my friend Josh noted, "That was the douchiest movie ever." And in a way, that is sort of a compliment, but not really. 

By the way, I'm not entirely sure this is worth seeing unless you're watching it on a huge, 3-D screen (in a theater that smells like Axe Body Spray), so don't rush out to the Red Box or whatever you kids do these days. I see a DVD of this movie every day in the checkout line at the grocery store for like twenty-seven fucking dollars. Has anyone ever purchased a movie at a grocery store? The fuck? Anyway.

8. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows pt. 2

This movie was GREAT, So great. I was moved by it, I was thrilled by it. But I've been thinking about watching it again, and I kind of don't want to? Because HP 7 and 8 are fucking ordeals, you know? It's like climbing a mountain. When you get to the top, it's beautiful and you're so happy, but you're also kind of like, OK let's not do this again for a while. This was a feeling I once reserved only for the LOTR movies, which I have seen once and will probably never watch again (I saw them in the theaters, and own the DVDs, but I have never opened them). Apparently the Harry Potter movies have joined their ranks. One doesn't simply walk into the Battle of Hogwarts, Luke.

7. Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol

GHOST PROTOCOLLLLLL! This movie was ridiculous and I loved it so much. The action sequences are gorgeous, and there's a real wit to the proceedings that you don't really think about until later. And yes, Tom Cruise is a crazy person, but it turns out that can be an asset in the movie business (see the Burj Hotel sequence, for which Tom Cruise apparently did some of his own stunts. Being suspended a mile and a half in the air is apparently less scary when you're OT level 8 and could just levitate if you wanted to, I guess). WHO WOULDA THUNK!?!?!?

6. Breaking Dawn pt. 1

How on earth is this movie ahead of Harry Potter, you say? I can feel you angrily warming up your Tumblr dashboards. But hold up! I'm not saying BD is objectively BETTER than HP, I'm just saying the experience of watching it was way more fun. Yes, I hate everything these movies (especially this movie) stand(s) for. Does that mean they're not a fucking blast? No! I can compartmentalize the moral outrage. I'm very good at that. I would make a great sociopath.

The wedding scene was great (especially because it provided detail where the book lazily copped out), the honeymoon was actually sexy (I still want to see the original take that had to be cut because K. Stew was humping too hard, though), the body horror was sufficiently gross, and the birth scene was about as good as it could have been (except for the part where SPOILER ALERT Edward has pulled Renesmee out of Bella and Bella is fucking dying and Edward and Jacob are just kind of calmly strolling around the room for a few beats, what was that). And, again, the closing credits were killer.

I know I kind of broke up with Twilight earlier this year, but I still have some fond feelings for it along with the bitterness. This is our breakup sex. And I'm sure we'll have another drunken hookup in a year's time. It's called closure, okay?

5. Our Idiot Brother

I saw Mission: Impossible at a Regal Theater where they have that RPX sound-system shit. Are you familiar? It's super expensive and you basically pay two dollars extra to have your ears blown out, and I entertained myself while the deafening previews were happening with the thought of seeing like, a quiet indie comedy at a fucking RPX theater.

Anyway, Our Idiot Brother was great! It was assured and unassuming (and moderately funny), and it made no big deal out of the fact that like, EVERYBODY was in the damn thing. (Janet Montgomery was in it, so technically Ashley Greene sort of was too.) It was this year's Please Give (Have you seen Please Give? Please do), which is faint praise but in the very best way. Because not every movie has to be like, a big thing. Some movies can just be about a guy with a dog who has a family, you know? This will turn up on Netflix Instant sooner or later, at which point it will entertain you very thoroughly on a rainy day. And that's an underrated trait in movies! Okay, now back to the movies with explosions.

4. X-Men: First Class

Forget Weekend. The best subtle depiction of a realistic gay relationship was THIS MOVIE. I mean, just kidding, but not really? I wrote at further length about this a while ago, but the X-Men movies have struggled to integrate (ha!) the gay rights symbology with the civil rights symbology in the past, and this movie did, for the most part, a better job than the others (except for one ridiculously clunky, racist moment) symbology-wise. And also, Magneto was so badass! He's the top and Xavier is the bottom for sure, right? I'd let Magneto fuck me. 

3. Bridesmaids

Cut the scene where everybody shits themselves and this would be my favorite movie of the year. Because unlike, say, The Hangover, it was a comedy about recognizable humans. A lot of them. Everybody did a great job, especially Melissa McCarthy (duh) and Rose Byrne and that dude from the IT Crowd. And Kristen Wiig! She contains multitudes, and it turns out it’s not just “multitudes of annoying one-note SNL characters.” The dress-shitting scene kinda throw a wrench into all that (though there are bright spots within it, that sounds gross but it’s not). It was grafted on by Judd Apatow, and he and everyone else involved made sure to mention that fact a lot during interviews because it FELT grafted on, and I think they were sort of heading us off at the pass. But even with all that shit, this was such a good movie. For a bunch of girls. 

2. The Tree Of Life

When the credits rolled after I saw this thing, a few people scoffed and chuckled bitterly on the way out of the theater. Others were openly weeping. So, uh, that’s the range of possible experiences one could take away from this film (which won the Palme D’Or at Cannes this year). Yeah, Tree of Life gets a lot deserved credit for being basically the most beautiful series of images you will ever see on a screen, but I don’t understand the other half of the consensus, which is that there is no story. Guys, this story is so big that you technically have to say “spoiler alert” before you say “The earth forms.” Check it out if you haven’t yet.

1. Friday Night Lights season 1/Parks and Recreation seasons 3/4

One reason I didn't go to the movies much this year is because there was so much good TV at home. I know that Friday Night Lights is oldish but if you have been putting it off because UGH FOOTBALL you need to cut that shit out right now and watch. Season 1 is PERFECT. And Parks and Rec has been killing it at such a velocity that it almost makes me angry? Like, how is every episode somehow better than the last? What the fuck? It's great, please watch both of these shows, I have gained so much enjoyment from them this year, they were literally better than every movie. 

So there. Eight 2011 movies and some other stuff. What were your favorite movies this year? Get at me.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Very Cullen Christmas

Edward Cullen carefully pulled his red Christmas sweater over his head and breathed a long breath through his nose. It was 8:25am.
“Merry Christmas, baby,” Bella said, leaning against her knees on their bed.
He turned sharply and stared through the cottage wall in the direction of his family's home.
“Relax,” she said. “It's a holiday.”
“Put some clothes on, Bella. This is the Lord's day.” Edward turned the corner to wake Renesmee.
Bella groaned, leaned back, and rolled onto her stomach.
“Are you coming?” Edward asked her impatiently upon returning.
“I'll follow.”
“Why do you always insist on having twenty minutes alone? What are you doing in here?”
“Just collecting my thoughts,” Bella said. “I'm still getting used to this vampire-brain. I need a little alone time."
“Speaking of your thoughts,” Edward said, softly now. “I think you should let me in there again.”
Bella giggled. “That's what your mom said to me in the shower this morning.”
Edward huffed, then stared into her eyes. “Let me hear you,” he implored.
Bella's face tightened in apparent concentration. “I can't do it, honey,” she said after a moment.
“I don't understand. You were so good at it for a few weeks there.”
“Well, you know, I really needed my powers when we were threatened by the Volturi,” she said quickly. “Maybe now the lack of powers are receding.”
“Hmmm,” Edward said. “Interesting. Perhaps I'll discuss that theory with Carlisle.”
“Yes, do,” Bella said, kissing him on the cheek. “I'll see you in a bit.”
Edward headed for the door and scooped up Renesmee, who was waiting patiently in the doorway.
“Come quickly, mommy,” Renesmee squeaked.
Bella chuckled. “I plan on it,” she said under her breath.
“What was that?” Edward turned.
“I said Merry Christmas,” Bella said.
“Merry Christmas,” he said, and left.

“What are you all doing?” Edward put Renesmee down and glared at his siblings. “I thought we were going to church!”
They were sprawled in various states of undress all over couches and on the floor in the living room.
“Happy holidays, Edward!” Alice said cheerily from the couch, where a Santa hat was the most significant article of clothing on her person.
“Seasons greetings!” Emmett coughed, wearing even less.
“MERRY CHRISTMAS,” Edward corrected. “Would you have the decency to hide your bodies in front of my daughter? Especially on this, the day of our Lord's blessed birth?”
“Would you have the decency to respect others' religious beliefs?” Rosalie, asked. “Especially on this, the December 25th Day Of General Holiday Celebration?”
“Our religion dictates that we lounge around naked,” Emmett said. “In fact, going to church is specifically prohibited.”
“Literally,” Jasper added, half-buried in beer cans on a reclining chair.
“You're trying to upset me,” Edward said. “This is a Christian family.”
“Not me,” Alice said, rising and wrapping a blanket around herself. “I'm Shinto.”
“You are not,” he said, crossing his arms.
“Sure I am,” she said. “See? Shin, toe!” And then she kicked him sharply in the leg.
Renesmee giggled.
“That's very insensitive. Are you coming or not?” Edward said haughtily. “I hope you understand what a sin it would be to do otherwise.”
“Bella's coming right now,” Alice grinned.
“I don't hear her footsteps,” Edward said.
“Well give her a minute to clean up!”
“Clean up what!?”
Emmett, Rosalie and Alice laughed hysterically. The beer cans on top of Jasper shook.
“I'm leaving,” Edward said, turning to the door. “Enjoy hell, losers.”
“Enjoy church, faggot.” Emmett responded.
“Whoa,” Alice said. “Not cool, bro.”

That evening, the Cullens exchanged gifts. Edward sat moodily in the corner, trying not to have any fun.
“Ron Paul's newsletters!” Jasper exclaimed, opening his gift. “This is literally the best present I've ever gotten!”
Rosalie opened her box and stared in curiously. “What is this?” she asked. She produced a blank notebook with the words 'You're Doing It Wrong' written in black.
“It's the title of your book about parenting,” Bella said. “I pulled some strings at Little Brown. You have to turn in a draft by February.”
“Bella, this is so thoughtful!”
Bella opened hers next. It was a remote control. “I don't understand,” she said.
“It controls my vibrating panties,” Alice whispered. “You're welcome.”
Emmett opened a new set of Lincoln Logs and Carlisle a new office chair and Esme opened nothing because everyone forgot she existed, even herself. And then it was Edward's turn.
Alice and Rosalie approached him, heads bowed. Rosalie thrust the package into his arms.
“Edward,” Alice said. “We realize that Christmas is important to you, and though we may be on different sides of the culture war I'd really hate to think I'd ruined this day for you. You are my brother and I love you.”
Edward smiled slightly. “So what's the book?” he asked bemusedly. “The Kama Sutra? Some other filthy piece of entertainment?”
“Just open it,” Rosalie urged.
So he did. It was a fragile thing, a very old Bible from Spain.
“It's gorgeous,” Edward said, turning it over in his hands. “Thank you.”
“Feliz navidad,” Alice said, making a 'jerking off' hand gesture for some reason.
“Whoa,” Jasper said. “I just realized that Christmas is LITERALLY Spanish for 'More Christ.'”
“Holy shit bro,” Emmett said. “You just blew my mind.”
“So, will you read us the story of Jesus's birth?” Alice asked, dancing in place. “Wouldn't that be a fun new tradition to start?”
“That's a wonderful idea, Alice,” Edward said, smiling.
“Is that story even in the Bible, though?” Rosalie asked.
“Um, I'm not sure actually,” Edward said.