Friday, April 30, 2010

Horror show

Last year I took on the Draconian institution that was Hugh B. Bain Middle School. You think such a victory would be enough for me, that I should leave on top. But like Brett Favre or Jay Leno or Aerosmith, I don’t know when to quit.

So now I set my eyes on a new enemy. Ladies and gentleman, I present the case against horror movies.

Today "Nightmare on Elm Street 32" came out. It will undoubtedly be the number one movie of the weekend. It’s another in the Freddy Krueger saga, following the Oscar-winning Freddy vs. Jason film.

The American film audience loves horror movies. I know I am swimming against a bloody, howling tide. We love a good scare and we love our violence. And we love it even more if that violence means nothing.

Every horror movie is the same, more or less. They involve young people, in their teens and 20s (though always played by 40-year-olds). It’s not cool to see middle-aged people fleeing slashers and serial killers. These young people are beautiful, vapid, idiotic and just plain boring. We don’t care about them nor should we. The movie doesn’t want us to.

That cute blonde girl running in the woods or the jock checking out the strange noise outside are objects to be destroyed, like the beaten-down cars at a monster truck show. They exist solely to be killed. And these aren’t just henchman who fall like bowling pins in your normal action movie, these are the main characters. These are the stars. Yet their only role is to die.

Every horror movie follows the same formula. There’s a group of six or seven young characters, almost always in a small town or in an isolated area. Jason doesn’t go to Manhattan. Invariably, there’s the sexy young couple who grope each other from the first minute on the screen. They are assured of dying.

There’s always a wise-cracking, frail boy involved. He’s a sissy. He’ll last longer than his sex-crazed buddies, but in the end his sarcasm will be the death of him.

Then you have the black guy. I don’t even need to explain what happens to him.

The best survivor is the lead woman, the Jamie Lee Curtis of the horror movie. The lead female of almost every horror movie I’ve ever seen survives. That goes for the lead male, though his odds aren’t as high. Usually, there’s a sexual tension at the beginning which is put through the wringer of a crazy, scrambled-egg face, fedora-wearing super bad guy wanting to kill them for no reason. After all their friends, maybe even relatives, have been brutally murdered, they’ll at least have each other.

So, for any of you aspiring horror film screenwriters all you need is A.) Headstrong female lead, B.) Brave male hero, C. Hot couple, D. Sarcastic sissy boy, E. Doomed black guy.

Invent some serial killer with a memorable trademark (hockey mask, chainsaw, claws, axe), set him down in a tony suburb or the woods and set up your future victims as having the time of their lives. They’ve just graduated. They’re on summer vacation. They’re young, sexy, happy and filled with boundless optimism. Then pick them off, one by one.

Don’t forget to throw a few chase scenes in the movie. Also required: The chaser must only walk, never run. Even though this person is walking slower than your average Floridian supermarket customer, the young, athletic chase-ee must run like the dickens. Yet he/she will trip about 5,000 times over twigs and messy blades of grass. This will be their downfall.

If the chase isn’t their destiny, then have them inexplicably walk alone into dark, mysterious places even when they know a serial murderer is on the loose.

These scenes are so clichéd that even making fun of them is clichéd. But the criticism still holds.

Once you’re down to the final two, set your climactic battle with the baddie. Have the local sheriff come by to help out, only to be paid for this kindness with an axe to the temple from the 6-foot-7 behemoth who somehow slips into a house undetected. They must use the doggie-doors or chimneys.

The two main characters will win the battle. They’ll cut the guy’s head off, run him over with an 18-wheeler, land a jumbo jet on his headless body and then burn the carcass into ashes. They’ll walk away in an exhausted, yet victorious embrace. Pan over to the bad guy and have his fingers twitch and cut to black. Or pan to the next day with the cops at the scene unable to find the body. Shocking!

By the way, that’s my biggest beef with horror movies. I just sat through two hours of boring characters dying brutal deaths for no reason only to titillate. I endured terrible acting, ear-ringing screams and an unending loop of “suspenseful” music only to have the movie’s climatic scene negated by your very lame attempt to shock us once more and plant the seeds for 18 sequels in our brains.

Oh my, Michael Myers/Jason/Freddy Krueger/Jigsaw is still alive!

Hopefully we get to see more sequels where the same exact thing will happen! And then we can see Freddy vs. Jason. Or Freddy vs. Jason vs. Mothra.

I’m no prude. I watch plenty of violence, but usually it advances what’s called a “plot.” Someone is trying to prevent a terrorist attack or uncover a conspiracy or get revenge. Horror movies are just slaughterhouses with the meat thrown in the trash.

Yet every year someone reinvents Halloween or Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street or Saw. A modern interpretation by Rob Zombie perhaps. The same cast of characters. The same no-name town. The same music. The same bad guy who just never dies, even when the movie tells you he will die.

Horror movies have their fans. To each his own, but at least come up with different material. The fact we’re still making movies about Freddy Krueger is just sad. He shouldn’t scare us anymore. We got over the bogeyman under our bed. We got over being lost in the supermarket.

Freddy should someday face the same fate.

And don’t even get me started on Chucky.

P.S. Big props for Roger Ebert's take. He says it much better than I could.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Facebook history

Facebook is a refuge for the annoying. You've heard it all before, about the endless Farmville updates or Mob Wars or boring status updates like "Going to sleep."

Many of my Facebook friends are guilty of these offenses, but that has never been enough for me to de-friend them. My friends list is already embarrassingly low. But someone went so over the line a few days ago I had no choice but to evict them from the Chateau de Sears.

It was someone I barely knew in high school. She's made some political posts on Facebook before that I don't agree with, which is fine. But then she joined a group with a long title basically saying, "God, you took my favorite actress in Farrah Fawcett and my favorite singer in Michael Jackson so let me tell you my favorite president is Barack Obama amen."

That was the final straw. I even waded into the muck of that group and it was very scary, replete with death wishes for Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, etc. Just disgusting.

So, dear high school acquaintance, you were the first person I've ever de-friended in my nearly six years on Facebook. And if a certain ESPN employee whose last name rhymes with "Schaible" asks me one more time to join a live chat, she might be next.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Protest fatigue

Thou doth protest too much.

Seriously, you do. This is America and the right to protest anything is as ingrained in our DNA as the right to eat anything. Good for us. Good for the hippies during Vietnam, the Gen X'ers during any WTO gathering. It's all good. And it's all out of hand.

For more than a year, the political media has gone Brangelina on the Tea Party rallies. They can't get enough. Every rally, every utterance by anyone who claims to be a Teabagger is covered with the same mania and gravitas as a papal announcement. During the height of the health care debate, the Tea Party ran the political coverage in this country. They were the Beatles and the folks from CNN, Fox, NBC, etc. were their shrieking, pre-pubescent female fans.

Fine. I have my problems with these protesters but I defend their right to gather. I would take their sudden concern over the debt and government power if they had the guts or smarts to protest under George Bush, but they didn't. They watched a surplus disappear into a huge debt because a president they voted for passed tax cuts they wanted and started a war they supported and yet they said nothing. Any claim these people are independent is a joke. They are disaffected, rabid Republicans who still don't accept Barack Obama as president. Period.

Of course they don't accept Obama. Many of them are still stewing over the Civil War. So a black guy getting elected will take some time to get used to.

A year of hearing these people is enough for me. We all get it. You don't know how to spell. You don't like Obama. You don't like that your taxes have gone down. You don't like Democrats in the White House. The media loves you, so much so they ignored 200,000 pro-immigration reform protesters to cover a few thousand at a Tea Party rally. I'm more than sick of it, but they haven't reached my last straw.

You never want to reach my last straw. This story is the last straw.

First, they're marching around D.C. with guns. Seems dangerous. Imagine if Iraq War protesters did that? (Remember: Tea Party protesters are "concerned" Americans who love their country. Anti-war protesters are slimy communists who need to get jobs.)

That's not even the worst thing. What I REALLY don't get is why they are protesting in the first place. Are they that bored? Because the Democrats have completely given up on the gun issue. The NRA has won and won big. You can take a gun to Starbucks for crying out loud. Barack Obama has never and will never go after your guns. He's never mentioned it, not once.

The Dems will only dip their toes in the ban of assault weapons. Of course, gun rights advocated will rip them for that, because who shouldn't have the capability of killing a massive amount of people in a very short time? How can people protect their homes against the roaming pack of super ninjas with just a plain old shotgun or revolver? No, they need Rambo weaponry. It's in the Constitution.

So you've already won, gun protesters. No one's coming after your guns. So why are you marching on Washington again, with guns on you in public? Are you grandstanding prima donnas or just ignorant morons?

I can't wait until they protest Obama's plan to inseminate alien sperm into all women between 18-45 so he can construct an unbeatable socialist army to take over the world. I'm sure the media can't wait either.

Meanwhile, I'll do my own protest. I'm done reading/wasting any more seconds on your "legitmate concerns." I disagree with what you say. I defend your right to say it. I defend my right to completely ignore you. If only the cameras would do the same.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

SteveCentury: Crossover battle

Working in the rough-and-tumble sports world, one tends to get into many arguments. I am no exception. I can't count how many time's I've argued for Tom Brady over Peyton Manning.

Still, it all comes down to personal opinion. It's not crazy to prefer to Peyton Manning over Tom Brady, just like it's not crazy to dislike 24 (that's only unpatriotic). But tempers flare nonetheless and I'm here to recount a moment from high school that popped into my mind during a random debate last week.

The year: 1997. The president: William Jefferson Clinton. The location: Cranston East High School Briggs building.

I was a freshman that year, hair parted down the middle and terribly awkward. (Much has changed.) I had this "friend" I will call him Stan for the purposes of this blog. We weren't really great friends, but we did hang out every now and then. I don't know why, looking back at it. Let's just say if I met a similar person today, I'd have nothing to do with him.

Anyway, we're in a group talking about Allen Iverson's crossover of Michael Jordan. This friend believed this proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Iverson was the better player. This statement is as stupid now as it was then. I pretty much said so, though I don't recall using the word "stupid." I merely said that Michael Jordan was better, regardless of one play. Granted, I was a big bandwagon Bulls fan back then, but my point still stands.

He didn't take too kindly to this, proceeding to get in my face, aggressively reiterating his insane opinion. I backed up until I couldn't back up anymore. I wanted no part of any fight, especially right before class. Then he took a swing, which I dodged. This set my animal instincts into high gear and in pure Jack Bauer style I grabbed him and tossed him against the radiator. We grappled some more until the Spanish teacher finally appeared to break it up.

This woman also happened to be my homeroom teacher and we were on good terms, so I didn't get sent to the principal's office. Neither did Stan. So we have our normal Spanish class and the bell rings, meaning I had to go all the way to the main building for my next class. This took me outside into the parking lot past City Hall. While swimming with the school of fishes outside, Stan followed me the entire way. He cussed up a storm and got so close to me I practically felt the spittle protruding from his foul orifice. Everyone noticed this. They had to since he was so loud.

Obviously, I was extremely uncomfortable. I avoid confrontation at all cost and I could not believe he was acting like this. He normally carried on like a street tough, even though he was just another middle class kid from the suburbs. But all this because I had the temerity to suggest Michael Jordan - widely considered the greatest basketball player of all time - was better than Allen Iverson? Half out of embarrassment and half out of pure confusion, I refused to say another word until, thankfully, we had to part ways to get to class.

I never got into trouble for it and he eventually cooled down after that. We may have even hung out again, but eventually we parted ways. For the life of me I don't know why we were friends. Anyway, the important thing is A.) I won the fight and B.) I was right. Jordan was better then and he is now, reinforcing another of life's basic truths: Don't mess with Steve Sears.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My audition for Cosmo is my homepage. Very often I will see sundry dating columns on the front page: Five ways to get the woman/man of your dreams or 10 worst ways to dump someone. So on and so forth. I usually ignore them. Last night, I clicked on this story.

If this is what you call "dating advice" then I think I can do it. Now, you may think taking such advice from me is like taking a pitching lesson from John Wasdin, but if you read the story, you'll see writing such "profound nuggets" with a touch of "humor" isn't very hard. So let me give it a try.

10 Dating Mistakes Men Make

by Sassy Sassafrass.

Men. (BOOO!!!) Yes, they can be boorish, insensitive, idiotic, fat and useless, but we still love them anyway because we have no other choice. Guys, with all these strikes against you, mistakes are not an option. If you want to win a woman's heart (only to crush it into pieces later) there are certain traps you have to avoid. Thankfully, I'm on the case.

1. Don't poop on the floor: Your girlfriend might think it's cute when Spot or Sparky leaves a nice coil on the carpet, but it's not quite as adorable when you do it. So, guys, do like your mommy taught you and go to the potty. Women hate having to clean up your dirty socks, so imagine how much they hate cleaning up dirty poopies. Talk about a crappy situation!

2. Hitting on Mom: Talk about a mother-#$##U&*&*! Sure, your future mother-in-law may have the body of a sorority girl, but keep your hands off, gentleman! We all know men are crazed, immoral sex hounds, just leave our mothers out of it.

3. Hitting on Dad: This is even worse.

4. Shooting your girlfriend in the leg: When women say they love it when men bare arms, they're talking about muscle shirts on the beach. Please, if your girlfriend walks through the door after a long day at work, don't plug a bullet into her. It's not attractive.

5. Getting a sex change: Perhaps your girlfriend wants you to get in touch with your feminine side. What she means is more Dancing with the Stars, not hormonal therapy. Keep the package, gentlemen. Once it goes, so do we.

6. Sleeping with her friends: You're trying to impress your friends, so one night you seduce your girl's best friend. Then she finds out about it. I would suggest you don't do this. Studies show women prefer their men not to have carnal relations with their gal-pals. You heard it here first.

7. Setting your girlfriend on fire: Women love adventurous men, but sometimes you go to far. A third-degree burn looks terrible in a wedding photo. When we say we want some heat in the bedroom, a four-alarm blaze is the furthest thing from our minds!

8. Selling her into slavery: Once you get into the black market of human trafficking, that's a deal- breaker, ladies.

9. Skulls on the wall: We girls don't like messy apartments. You don't have to be Martha Stewart, but the beer cans and crusty onion dip are a big turn-off. Even worse, if we find human skulls on the wall or smell rotting flesh, we're not going to stick around long enough for your explanation.

10. Inviting ex-girlfriends into a three-some: We don't care about your past. We're with you to start a new future. But once you propose bringing Sadie from college into bed equipped with a camera, electrical probes and a walrus, things could get weird. When getting down to business, guys, keep things to a duo. Too many chefs spoil the broth.

Maybe I'm not Cosmo material, but I think I provided some useful advice for the men out there. Now I just need to find a stock photo of two good-looking models (man and woman) looking pissed at each other and some pink/purple typeface and I'm ready to go.