Liquor Up Front, Poker In The Rear . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Sunday, February 26, 2006 0 comments

As the Billy Idol classic "Dancing With Myself" blared throughout the Hyatt ballroom in downtown Austin last night, I found myself playing Blackjack surrounded by a table full of lawyers.

Actually, they weren't official lawyers yet as everyone was still enrolled in the UT law program, but it was a testament to the fiercely competitive nature of the group that so many people could get so worked up over playing with fake chips at a "Casino Night" theme party.

I witnessed one guy chastise his date repeatedly for her "loose" betting of chips after she split a pair of 4's and lost.

"99 luftballoons" played as I saw a gentleman at another table swipe a stack of chips from an unsuspecting player to his left.

The poker tables were even more ridiculous as every other player seemed to think that they were the second coming of Doyle Brunson.

I watched in fascination as people tried to read the faces of their opponents, but this was largely in vain due to the high number of players sporting sunglasses to conceal their "tells."

The whole thing felt like a third-rate "Rounders" casting call minus John Turturro in a Turkish steam bath.

It wasn't all cheating, chastising and brutal competition, however, as a hint of generousity also occurred when a Blackjack player magnamiously tipped the dealer with a fake $500 chip before leaving the table to gorge himself on chicken fingers and jalopeno poppers at the buffet table.

On the plus side, there was an open bar that served top-shelf liquor and a cover band called the Spazmatics that ripped through infectious 80s songs with manic energy.

So, when I was forced to decide whether to continue playing Blackjack where the stakes meant nothing (at least to me) or to embarrass myself on the dancefloor to "Whip It," the choice was much easier than whether to hit on 15.

And I whipped it good.


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At the Top of the Mountain . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Tuesday, February 21, 2006 0 comments

I was in a slight funk yesterday, and although the weather was bleak on a working Monday morning, I still couldn't shake the fact that something else felt wrong.

But it wasn't until late in the day that I discovered that it was exactly one year ago that Hunter S. Thompson killed himself at his fortified compound in Woody Creek, Colorado.

Thompson had long stood atop of my literary heroes list, where he served as a constant remainder that boundaries are meant to be tested and that the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lighting bug (I think I stole that from Mark Twain).

His sudden death last year (see February archives for a eulogy) was like a sucker-punch for me despite Thompson's demanding lifestyle where drugs, firearms and a typewriter were never too far away.

It was only fitting for someone like Dr. Thompson that his ashes were scattered over Woody Creek via a 150 ft. fist-shaped cannon which was largely paid for by Johnny Depp, one of his close friends.

His widow, Anita Thompson, posted a private photo of Thompson on to mark the one year anniversary of his death.

The caption beneath it was a quote from one of his books and read "At the top of the mountain, we are all Snow Leopards."

We are indeed.


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My Hobbies Include Nude Taxidermy & Fondling Woodland Animals . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Thursday, February 16, 2006 0 comments

It's surprisingly easy to combine these two interests, and even if they aren't entirely true, it beats the lame hobbies that I gave my boss last week to send out in a company-wide introduction email.

I wish I could claim that my list of hobbies/interests forced people to take notice of my unique and individual spirit, but instead I merely replied with stock answers that remained safely inside the boundaries of human decency.

What got reported was that I enjoyed reading anything from "The New York Times to Hunter S. Thompson to US Weekly" when I really wanted to list Native American art, ballroom dancing and pornography as personality qualifiers.

Besides, you can never go wrong with a "Grosse Pointe Blank" reference, eh?

But Felix Lappoo Bell had left the building, and there was only a vaguely interesting person who enjoys watching "Lost" and writing screenplays left in his place.

That information is far from unique, however, and pales in comparison to someone who might list flogging or Dung beetles or in-depth study of the "Police Academy" series or uncontrollable weeping or drinking Mad Dog 20/20 and playing putt-putt golf on their sheet.

I would immediately seek out the person who had the cojones to report some bizarre personality quirk from their initial employment date because it's highly likely that they would someone worth knowing.

It would also be a brilliant way to cover your ass if something strange happened at a later date because you could refer back to your hobby sheet and say "you shouldn't be that surprised by my current behavior because you knew all along that I spent vast amounts of time constructing Egyptian pyramids out of Beligan waffles."

What did you expect?

Oh well, life is full of missed opportunities and I realize that I wasted another one of mine last week.

On the other hand, sometimes a little caution is necessary and even in Austin it's still too weird to admit to an intense longing for a "Golden Girls" reunion special.

Damn you Bea Arthur.


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One Remaining Ford, But Beware Of Wet Fishes . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Sunday, February 12, 2006 0 comments

I still like Harrison Ford even if I haven't cared about one of his movies since he did "The Fugitive" back in 1993.

Since fleeing from Tommy Lee Jones, however, Ford has played several fairly interchangable roles in hits ("Air Force One," "What Lies Beneath") misses ("K-19: The Widowmaker"(abysmal title)) and debacles like "Hollywood Homicide" where he was forced to reveal his comedic chops AND try to act like he could actually respect Josh Hartnett as a man - a feat which would have surely netted Ford an Oscar nomination if he could have successfully pulled it off.

Ford's new film, "Firewall," opened Friday and it looks servicable if wholly unoriginal. The plot is another one of those "do what I want or I'll hurt your family" types with Ford as an angry bank executive and Paul Bettany slumming as the titular bad guy.

I have no plans to see "Firewall," but I was reminded why I still like Harrison Ford so much after reading an interview he did with the Austin American Statesman.

The intent of the Q&A was seemingly to promote his new film despite Ford's curmudgeonly reputation for publicity. The interview quickly went downhill, however, as the tone was combatitive from the start and it never recovered as Ford gave several short, sarcastic and finally downright bizarre answers.

Some exchanges from the interview went like this:

Q: Is it time for you to stretch a bit? Haven't we seen this character before? Apparently, if you're asking that kind of question.

Q: Any opinions on the war? Not for you.

Q: Anything in particular you want to talk about? No, but thanks so much for the opportunity.

And my personal favorite:

Q: According to popularity polls and magazine pronouncements over the years, you're one of the most popular, sexiest, most talented and magnificent people who ever lived. That doesn't mean anything.

Q: But it's nice? It's better than a slap in the belly with a wet fish, but it doesn't get you through the day.

The wet fish line caused me to laugh out loud during my breakfast due to the hilarious visual nature of the comment.

Then, I started to wonder if this practice of hitting strangers with dripping sea creatures was commonplace in Hollywood. Just because I'd never experienced the sensation didn't mean it wasn't out there and it might be a real, everyday problem for mega-stars like Ford.

After reading the piece, I instictively realized why I still like Harrison Ford and also why the interviewer should have cut him some slack for his gruff demeanor.

I don't care if you were Han Solo and Indiana Jones, a daily routine that forced you to examine the potential motives of strangers, who might also be wielding dripping fish guts intended for your exposed belly, would drive anyone to misanthropy.


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I Love Movies, But I Hate The Theater . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Saturday, February 04, 2006 0 comments

So I went to see "The Matador" yesterday with my brother and some female companions, and although I enjoyed the film, the movie-going experience is beginning to make me angry.

The movie itself was an enjoyable black comedy, and featured a deliciously sleazy turn by Pierce Brosnan as an aging hitman and Greg Kinnear as a businessman down on his luck.

The duo form an unlikely friendship after meeting in Mexico City, which provides a perfect backdrop for Brosnan to work his dirty charms as well as good place for Kinnear to prove once again that he is consistently underrated as an actor.

"The Matador" is one of those films that will cause you to laugh out loud on occassion, but for the most part, a light chuckle would suffice during Brosnan's constant spewing of lewd vulgarities.

Despite several amusing scenes, however, the movie in no way warranted the loud cacophony of guffaws coming from a group of 6 people sitting directly behind me.

These sorry bastards laughed loud, long and hearty at anything that contained a four-letter word or might have been vaguely funny if not for the horrible, pulsating sound bombarding me from behind.

For vast stretches of the film, I kept wondering how loud they would be able to laugh with my size 11 foot pressed hard against their Adam's apple.

Eventually, I adjusted to these heinous sounds, and it was that point that a little girl started talking loudly about 4 seats to my left.

I wasn't angry at her because she was probably 9 or 10 years old, and children at that age are simply annoying for the majority of their waking hours. No, I couldn't be mad at her, but her father was another story entirely.

What kind of responsible Dad would bring his young daughter to a movie that was rampant with talk of "teenage twat," assasinations and several other instances of amoral behavior?

A girl that age should be watching the talking animals in the "The Chronicles of Narnia" or a butt-ugly Emma Thompson in "Nanny McPhee", but she should most definitely not witness Brosnan guzzle alcohol like it was water and screw anything that moves.

The problem is that I keep running into more and more people who behave like rotten jackals inside movie theaters and think nothing of it.

Talking on cell phones, keeping crying babies inside the theater and providing a running commentary on plot points to your viewing companions is not a right you earn when you buy a movie ticket.

This behavior seems to be escalating, however, and unless it changes soon, then I predict it's only a matter of time before I start wearing combat boots to the show and anyone who feels the need to treat the experience as their own personal theater is going to spend a few days trying to remove tread marks from their neck.


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