I’ll Take My Banana!

I often wonder what it would be like to have the life of one of my old dogs, to skip around a fifty-by-twenty-four-foot, fenced-in patch of earth and do nothing all day. I can just see it now—my body lying sprawled out on the ground as I face a hot summer’s sun, chewing on rotten rutabagas, scratching off a few flees, with nowhere to go and nothing to do but play with some old piece of rope.

Part of me loathes the thought of a worthless existence where nothing would be accomplished, where nothing could be bragged about; no excitement, no surprises, just the normal, primal stimulation of passerby bitches, bones, and beef Purina Chow! However, there is an appeal here, a profound appeal if you’re of the proper persuasion to recognize it.

Purpose and planning are at the heart of the human race. Our members are always aiming to bag the rites to boast about some new feat, but while this may characterize how others feel about life, it is the exact opposite of how I feel. The abominable, ambitious human spirit is vain at best and fool-hearty at worst. For this reason, I find my species a very pitiable one indeed.

Humans want contentment, but it takes the lack of ambition to make contentment—the only key to lasting happiness. It is submission to a state of turmoil that makes happiness possible. Ambition makes me uncomfortable. Taking chances, moving on to supposedly bigger and better things, it unsettles me greatly. A sense of acceptance is essential to remove the discomfort of stress, and what could be more stress relieving than to have the life of a dog, to know that the next day will be just like the one before it?

Well, we humans didn’t get so lucky. The spirit of progress is what drives the human race, and that’s our problem; to constantly look to better our lives, to improve everything, to make things more convenient, that’s what does us in. Our lives are as miserable as they are because we’re never satisfied. It’s not enough just to exist in a state of reciprocal give-and-take from a mutually agreeable environment such as the one we evolved in. We always want something bigger and better!

I’m happy with the way things are, with the direction my life is heading, and with what people think of me. I’m happy with the way I look, with the job I have, and with the way the world is because I am powerless to improve upon it. Good enough is good enough for me. If I don’t get invited to a party, it doesn’t matter. If people in my community don’t think very highly of me, I won’t die. If someone must be involved in a fatal car crash, it might as well be me, as opposed to some poor, optimistic Tony Robbins fan that didn’t think it could ever happen to him. Things could always be better, but I’m not losing any sleep over my or the world’s many leveling ills.

The funny thing is, in people’s quests to drastically simplify their lives, they end up making them more complicated. When I worked in the fast food industry many years ago, I had a favorite routine when busing tables and sweeping floors at a particular restaurant. I would wipe down the booths and tables first, then sweep the floors. Once the pile of trash was ready to be scooped up, I would put down the broom and the dustpan and go back into the kitchen and retrieve a small brush made just for the dustpan. It was a lot easier to hold, but no one else seemed to use it. I wondered why.

When the manager saw me putting down the long broom and grabbing the little one to use with the dustpan, he remarked, “Why did you bring out that little broom? It’s useless. It’s just one more thing to carry out. Just grab the long broom closer towards the bottom so it will be easier to handle and scoop up with. That way, you only have two items to carry.” I was dumbfounded and he was right. I didn’t need to make two trips to get this little broom. I hadn’t thought of that! I don’t know why this experience stuck in my mind all these years, but it did. Now, every time I run into other stupid things people do to try and improve their lives, this comes to mind. Examples of this never quit showing up. A family member bought me a Dayrunner to schedule my activities, but I never a once used it. It went from under the Christmas tree right into that “I’m already bored with it” category with all my other junk. It just goes to show how humans have ways of complicating the simplest of affairs.

We produce cars with advanced navigation systems, heated mirrors, light wipers, and even cars that parallel park themselves. We build computers that are capable of more than we could ever have imagined just a few years ago—and here we go again, complicating our lives! These little electronic gimmicks require other little electronic gimmicks (computers) to diagnose what is wrong with them when they fail. In the world of computers, the coding wars drag on; the game becomes one of experts verses experts as professional hackers are hired to find weaknesses in coding to prevent some hippie computer techie, sitting around his apartment all day in his underwear, eating Cheerios, and trying to hack into bank accounts. With conveniences come inconveniences.

It is precisely this same spirit of progress that brought us from crudely sharpened flints and bearskins to filet knives, firearms, and nuclear weapons. Clanking rusty swords, impaling one another for infringing on our lands or defying our gods wasn’t enough either. There had to be a better, faster, more devastating way to unleash retribution. Of course, we can justify ourselves; if we don’t get the technology of genocide first, someone else will! Our conduct may be defensible, but it is still terrible.

We just couldn’t be content! It wasn’t satisfying enough to sit on a ravine, under a well-shaded tree, eating bananas and bamboo shoots to make an exciting day. Now we live in fear, hoping the authorities of our land will act in time to prevent ambitious bands of idealists from carrying suitcase nukes into shopping malls and movie theaters. No, I’ll take my banana, please!

(JH)

The Simpsons Sensation

I find myself wondering from time to time why The Simpsons is such a fantastic show. I myself am a lover of it. I watch it often, even when reruns are on. And I actually saw -- and enjoyed -- the movie! It was excellent! This produces kind of an irony because I hate animated shows as I do traditional kids' movies and cartoons. I even hate teen movies, like "The Fast and The Furious," and "Dude, Where's My car?" It's all a heap of shit for new age kids who smoke pot and watch That 70's Show, or else turn the bass up on their car stereos and try to act black when they're not. I fucking hate that. But I love the Simpsons, even though it's animated. In an almost inexplicable way, it brings out in me a sense of calm. The show is addictive--addictive, I tell you!

But why is it addictive? Asking myself this question, I start with the obvious. Is it the humor in the show that makes it one of the longest running shows in television history? It's a brilliantly written and damn funny show, that's for sure, but it isn't that, that funny. There are shows and movies that outdo it in terms of strictly outrageous, raw humor. So the comedy element is only one thing that makes The Simpsons what it is.

The other thing, I believe, that keeps audiences coming back for more is what I call Familiar Character Development (FCD) factor. Ever noticed how every time you watch the Simpsons you are seeing the same characters over and over again? With few exceptions, it's always the same characters ingeniously interwoven into every single episode. Moe and the bar boys, Professor Jailbird, Principal Skinner, Kent Brachman, Montgomery Burns with Smithers, and Apooh are all there. Every Simpsons episode has these characters, in addition to the favorite dysfunctional family of five, and every episode develops the characters further. You learn more about them as time goes on, and this creates a sense of familiarity--a thing all humans love and crave whether they know it or not.

The Simpsons aren't just any quirky family. They've become part of our lives. The cozy, "homey" (yes, pun intended!) world of the Simpsons has become our own. The streets, the houses, and the businesses we know like we do those of our own communities.

What has kept the show afloat all these years is the fresh writing behind it. For twenty years, Matt Groening and team have been digging deep enough in the trenches to mine some of the most entertaining storylines conceivable--all with the same familiar characters and quaint surroundings. That makes the Simpsons a heart-warmer, as well as a lighthearted kneeslapper, and a genuinely stress-relieving show.

And we have the brilliant Homer Simpson to thank for much of that. Take us out, Homer...

"Come to think of it, mud is just wet dirt"

"Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel."

"Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try."

"Here's to alcohol, the cause of—and solution to—all life's problems."

"Lisa, vampires are make-believe, like elves, gremlins, and eskimos."

"I'm like that guy who single-handedly built the rocket & flew to the moon. What was his name? Apollo Creed?"

"I want the answers now or eventually!"

"Bart, with $10,000, we'd be millionaires! We could buy all kinds of useful things like...love!"

"Oh, so they have internet on computers now!"

"The internet, is that old thing still around?"

"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!"

(JH)

Archives

Movie Reviews - 2011
  • 30 Minutes or Less (B+)
  • A Separation (A+)
  • A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas (C+)
  • Abduction (C-)
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (D-)
  • Apollo 18 (D+)
  • Arthur (C+)
  • Arthur Christmas (C+)
  • Asylum Seekers (D+) ***
  • Bad Teacher (C-)
  • Battle: Los Angeles (B-)
  • Beastly (F)
  • Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 (C-) ***
  • Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (C-)
  • Bleading Lady (no grade) ***
  • Blitz (B+)
  • Bloodlust Zombies (F) ***
  • Brain Dead *** (C+)
  • Bridesmaids (A+)
  • Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star (no grade)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (B+)
  • Cars 2 (C-)
  • Columbiana (B-)
  • Conan the Barbarian (D+)
  • Contagion (B-)
  • Cowboys and Aliens (C-)
  • Crazy, Stupid, Love (B-)
  • Cropsey (B+) ***
  • Dawning (B-) ***
  • Dolphin Tale (C-)
  • Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (C+)
  • Dream House (2011)
  • Drive (C+)
  • Drive Angry 3D (C+)
  • Exit 33 (no grade) ***
  • Fast Five (C-)
  • Final Destination 5 (D+)
  • Friends With Benefits (C+)
  • Fright Night (C+)
  • Gnomeo and Juliet (D+)
  • Green Lantern (D+)
  • Hall Pass (C-)
  • Hanna (B-)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II (B+)
  • Heavy Times (A-) ***
  • Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil (C+)
  • Hop (C-)
  • Horrible Bosses (B+)
  • Hugo (A+)
  • I Am Number Four (C+)
  • iCrime (C+)
  • Immortals (D+)
  • Insidious (C+)
  • J. Edgar (C-)
  • Jack and Jill (D-)
  • Jane Eyre (A+)
  • Johnny English Reborn (C+)
  • Jumping the Broom (C+)
  • Just Go With It (C-)
  • Kenneyville (D-) ***
  • Kung Fu Panda II (A-)
  • Larry Crowne (C+)
  • Limitless (A-)
  • Mars Needs Moms (C-)
  • Melancholia (B+)
  • Midnight in Paris (C-)
  • Moneyball (C+)
  • Monte Carlo (C-)
  • Mr. Popper's Penguins (C-)
  • New Year's Eve (D+)
  • Ninjas vs. Vampires (C-) ***
  • No Strings Attached (C+)
  • Our Idiot Brother (A+)
  • Paranormal Activity III (C-)
  • Paul (A-)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (C-)
  • Priest (D-)
  • Puss in Boots (B-)
  • Rango (C+)
  • Real Steel (B-)
  • Red Riding Hood (F)
  • Rio (B-)
  • Salvation Boulevard (B-)
  • Sanctum (D+)
  • Scream 4 (C-)
  • Season of the Witch (D-)
  • Shark Night 3D (D+)
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (B-)
  • Something Borrowed (D+)
  • Soul Surfer (C-)
  • Source Code (A-)
  • Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D (D+)
  • Strigoi (C-) ***
  • Sucker Punch (D+)
  • Super 8 (D+)
  • The Adjustment Bureau (B+)
  • The Adventures of TinTin (C-)
  • The Anniversary at Shallow Creek (B+) ***
  • The Change-Up (C-)
  • The Coffin (C-) ***
  • The Debt (B+)
  • The Dilemma (C-)
  • The Eagle (C+)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (A-)
  • The Green Hornet (C+)
  • The Hangover II (B-)
  • The Help (B-)
  • The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) (F)
  • The Lincoln Lawyer (B+)
  • The Mechanic (B-)
  • The Muppets (C+)
  • The Rise of the Planet of the Apes (B-)
  • The Rite (C+)
  • The Roommate (D-)
  • The Rum Diary (C+)
  • The Sitter (C+)
  • The Smurfs (C+)
  • The Thing (B-)
  • The Three Musketeers (D+)
  • The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1 (C-)
  • Thor (C-)
  • Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy (D+)
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (D+)
  • Trespass (C+)
  • Tyler Perry's Big Happy Family (C-)
  • Unknown (C-)
  • Warrior (C-)
  • Water for Elephants (C+)
  • What's Your Number? (C-)
  • Winnie the Pooh (C+)
  • Wound (C+) ***
  • X-Men: First Class (B+)
  • Your Highness (C-)
  • Zookeeper (C-)


  • Movie Reviews - 2010
  • 2012: Time for Change (A-) ***
  • 44 Inch Chest (B+)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (C-)
  • Alice in Wonderland (D+)
  • Alphonso Bow (C+) ***
  • And Soon the Darkness (C+)
  • Best Worst Movie (A+) ***
  • Black Swan (B+)
  • Brooklyn's Finest (D+)
  • Casino Jack (B+)
  • Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (D+)
  • Clash of the Titans (D+)
  • Date Night (C-)
  • Death at a Funeral (C+)
  • Despicable Me (A-)
  • Devil (C-)
  • Dinner for Schmucks (C-)
  • Due Date (C-)
  • Easier With Practice (A+) ***
  • Easy A (A+)
  • Eat Pray Love (B-)
  • Edge of Darkness (C+)
  • Extraordinary Measures (C+)
  • Faster (C+)
  • For Colored Girls (C+)
  • From Paris With Love (C-)
  • Furry Vengeance (F)
  • Get Him to the Greek (B+)
  • Green Zone (B+)
  • Grown Ups (D-)
  • Gulliver's Travels (D+)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (C-)
  • Hot Tub Time Machine (A-)
  • How to Train Your Dragon (A+)
  • Inception (A-)
  • Iron Man 2 (A-)
  • Jackass 3-D (C+)
  • Jonah Hex (D-)
  • Kick-Ass (C-)
  • Killers (C+)
  • Knight and Day (C-)
  • Leap Year (C-)
  • Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (C-)
  • Legion (F)
  • Little Fockers (C+)
  • Lottery Ticket (C-)
  • MacGruber (A-)
  • Machete (A+)
  • Marmaduke (C-)
  • Megamind (B+)
  • My Soul to Take (D+)
  • Paranormal Activity II (C+)
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (C+)
  • Piranha (D+)
  • Predators (D+)
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (C-)
  • Red (B+)
  • Repo Men (D-)
  • Resident Evil: Afterlife (D+)
  • Robin Hood (D+)
  • SALT (C+)
  • Saw 3-D (D+)
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (C-)
  • Secretariat (B-)
  • Sex in the City 2 (D+)
  • She's Out of My League (B+)
  • Shooting April (A+) ***
  • Shrek Forever After (B-)
  • Shutter Island (C-)
  • Skyline (D-)
  • Splice (A-)
  • Takers (B-)
  • Tangled (B-)
  • The A-Team (C+)
  • The American (A-)
  • The Back-up Plan (F)
  • The Book of Eli (B-) (video review)
  • The Bounty Hunter (D+)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (B-)
  • The Crazies (B+)
  • The Expendables (B-)
  • The Fighter (A+)
  • The Final (C-) ***
  • The Human Centipede (A-) ***
  • The Karate Kid (C-)
  • The King's Speech (A+)
  • The Last Airbender (F)
  • The Last Exorcism (C-)
  • The Living Wake ***
  • The Losers (A-)
  • The Next Three Days (B-)
  • The Other Guys (C+)
  • The Painted City (no grade) ***
  • The Quiet Arrangement (B-) ***
  • The Social Network (A-)
  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice (C+)
  • The Spy Next Door (D-)
  • The Switch (C+)
  • The Tourist (C-)
  • The Town (A+)
  • The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (B+)
  • The Warrior's Way (F)
  • The Warriors of Qiugang (A+)
  • The Wolfman (C-)
  • Tooth Fairy (C-)
  • Toy Story 3 (D+)
  • Tron: Legacy (D+)
  • True Grit (B-)
  • Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too? (A-)
  • Unstoppable (C-)
  • Vampires Suck (D+)
  • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (B+)


  • Movie Reviews - 2009

    17 Again (C-)
    2012 (C-)
    9 (C-)
    Ace Ventura Jr.: Pet Detective (F)
    Aliens in the Attic (D+)
    All About Steve (D-)
    Angels and Demons (B-)
    Astro Boy (C-)
    Avatar (A-)
    Before I Self Destruct (C-)
    Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia (D-)
    Bride Wars (C+)
    BrĂ¼no (C-)
    Capitalism: A Love Story (C+)
    Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (B+)
    Confessions of a Shopaholic (C-)
    Coraline (D+)
    Couples Retreat (D+)
    Crank 2: High Voltage (C-)
    Dance Flick (D+)
    Disney's A Christmas Carol (C-)
    District 9 (A+)
    Dragonball: Evolution (F)
    Drag Me to Hell (C-)
    Duplicity (C+)
    Extract (B+)
    Fighting (D+)
    Fired Up (C-)
    Friday the Thirteenth (C+)
    Funny People (C+)
    Gamer (F)
    G-Force (D+)
    G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (D-)
    Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (D-)
    Halloween II (D+)
    Hannah Montana: The Movie (D+)
    Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince (D+)
    Hotel for Dogs (B-)
    I Can Do Bad All By Myself (C-)
    Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (C-)
    I Love You, Man! (A-)
    Inglourious Basterds (A-)
    Jennifer's Body (B-)
    Knowing (D-)
    Land of the Lost (D-)
    Law Abiding Citizen (C+)
    Love Happens (D-)
    Madea Goes to Jail (B-)
    Monsters Vs. Aliens (C+)
    My Bloody Valentine (D+)
    My Sister's Keeper (B+)
    Next Day Air (D+)
    Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (D+)
    Ninja Assassin (D+)
    Notorious B.I.G. (B-)
    Obsessed (C-)
    Orphan (D+)
    Pandorum (D+)
    Paranormal Activity (C+)
    Paul Blart: Mall Cop (B+)
    Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire (A+)

    Public Enemies (B+)
    Race to Witch Mountain (C+)
    Ready or Not (C-)
    Saw VI (B-)
    Shorts (D+)
    Sorority Row (D+)
    Star Trek (D-)
    State of Play (A-)
    Surrogates (C-)
    Terminator: Salvation (C+)
    The Blindside (B+)
    The Fast and the Furious 4 (C-)
    The Final Destination IV (D-)
    The Fourth Kind (D+)
    The Haunting in Connecticut (D+)
    The Informant (C+)
    The International (D+)
    The Invention of Lying (A-)
    The Last House on the Left (D+)
    The Pink Panther II (B-)
    The Poughkeepsie Tapes (F)
    The Proposal (C-)
    The Soloist (C+)
    The Stepfather (D+)
    The Taking of Pelham 123 (C+)
    The Twilight Saga: New Moon (B-)

    The Ugly Truth (D+)
    The Unborn (D-)
    The Uninvited (B-)
    Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (F)
    Up (A+)
    Watchmen (A+)
    Where the Wild Things Are (C+)
    Whiteout (D-)
    Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling (D-)
    X-Men Origins: Wolverine (D+)
    Year One (C+)
    Zombieland (A-)


    Movie Reviews - 2008
    An American Carol (D+)
    Appaloosa (B+)
    Australia (C-)
    Babylon A.D. (F)
    Beverly Hills Chihuahua (C-)
    Blindness (B-)
    Body of Lies (C+)
    Bolt (A-)
    Burn After Reading (B-)
    Cadillac Records (C-)
    Changeling (B-)
    City of Ember (D+)
    Cloverfield (A-)
    Disaster Movie (F)
    Elegy (B+)
    Fix (B-)
    Forgetting Sarah Marshall (A-)
    Four Christmases (D-)
    Frost/Nixon (A+)
    Get Smart (C+)
    Gran Torino (B+)
    How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (C+)
    Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (D+)
    Kung Fu Panda (A+)
    Lakeview Terrace (D-)
    Make It Happen (C-)
    Marley and Me (D-)
    Max Payne (C-)
    Midnight Movie (F)
    Milk (A-)
    Mirrors (C+)
    Nights in Rodanthe (D-)
    Pride and Glory (D+)
    Punisher: War Zone (D+)
    Quantum of Solace (D+)
    Rambo (B+)
    Religulous
    Role Models (B+)
    Saw V (C+)
    Seven Pounds (C-)
    Slumdog Millionaire (A-)
    Taken (B-)
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (B-)
    The Dark Knight (B+)
    The Day The Earth Stood Still (C+)
    The Happening (F)
    The Incredible Hulk (A-)
    The Spirit (D-)
    The Strangers (C-)
    The Wrestler (A+)
    Transporter 3 (F)
    Tropic Thunder (B+)
    Twilight (C-)
    W. Movie (D-)
    Wall-e (A+)
    X-Files: I Want to Believe (C+)
    Yes Man (B-)
    Zack and Miri Make a Porno (A-)


    Movie Reviews - 2007
    30 Days of Night (B-)
    Breach (A+)
    Disturbia (B+)
    Daddy Day Camp (F)
    Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (D+)
    Freedom Writers (B-)
    Good Luck Chuck (B-)
    I Am Legend (D+)
    I'll Believe You (B-)
    Superbad (A-)
    The Bourne Ultimatum (A+)
    The Hitcher (C+)
    The Simpsons Movie (B+)
    There Will Be Blood (A+)
    Transformers (F)


    Movie Reviews - 2006
    21 (C+)
    300 (B+)
    An Inconvenient Truth (B-)
    Borat: Cultural Learnings of American for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (A+)
    Casino Royale (B+)
    Children of Man (A-)
    Jesus Camp (B+)
    Rocky Balboa (C+)
    Sea of Fear (F)
    Snakes on a Plane (D-)
    Superman Returns (B+)
    The Black Dahlia (D-)
    The Departed (A+)
    The Illusionist (A+)
    United 93 (A+)

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