Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Final Fate Of A Dark Cabal

If you haven't read the previous blog, this is going to get really confusing. I just thought you should be warned in advance.

Secret Society Of Entertainment Reporters Take Steep Fall; Cranky Mountie Has Good Night

Los Angeles (AP). The world is in a state of shock after several famous, longstanding entertainment journalists were taken into custody by RCMP Inspector Lars Ulrich and members of the LAPD. Mary Hart, John Tesh, Leeza Gibbons, Nancy O’Dell, Carson Daly, Ryan Seacrest, Maria Menounos, Leonard Maltin, Brooke Anderson, Rob Marciano, Pat O’Brien, and Mark Steines were arrested and removed from an underground bunker beneath the Hollywood sign. They were dressed in hooded cloaks, and looked a little the worse for wear and bruised during their perp walk, charged with multiple counts of murder, conspiracy, resisting arrest, fraud, and being really annoying.

LAPD Captain Miguel Ortiz spoke to reporters outside the precinct where the suspects were being booked. “We are in the process of going through evidence gathered at the scene. This group, calling themselves the Dark Cabal of the Infernal Gossip, seemed to like to keep records. That makes our job all the easier. We are looking at a cult-like secret society, with ritual sacrifices of multiple interns over many years. They had designs on world domination as well, but their plans and schemes are at an end. They will face justice for their crimes.”

“Dark Cabal of the Infernal Gossip?” a Reuters correspondent asked.

“Yes, so let’s just assume that entertainment reporters are, in the end, really, really dumb,” Ortiz remarked. “I can tell you that Inspector Ulrich of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police took point in this matter while members of the LAPD maintained a perimeter around all access points to the bunker. It was out of consideration to the Inspector that we left the confrontation to him. He has been the primary target of this Cabal- seriously, these people wanted to kill him in the most brutal and sadistic ways possible. And given his fearsome reputation and the fact that he has saved the world on more than one occasion, we felt he could easily handle himself. The members of the Cabal tried to escape, and long story short, Inspector Ulrich taught them a few hard lessons before arresting them. In my opinion, they more than had it coming.”

At this point, Inspector Ulrich himself emerged from the building. He spotted the crowd of reporters, all of whom started calling out his name, and began to approach after a moment of hesitation. He looked out over the crowd, who seemed to hush, and spoke in a low voice. “Two questions. First, are any of you with an entertainment news outfit?” No one answered. “Second, are any of you dumb enough to mistake me for that drummer?”

“No, Inspector,” this reporter told him. “We’re all real reporters.”

“Yes,” the Reuters correspondent agreed. “We know you’re not that other Lars Ulrich.”

“Absolutely,” a third reporter said. “After all, he’s ugly and deaf, and you’re not.”

“Good. Carry on then,” the Inspector said, appearing to relax.

“Sir... does this mean that all entertainment reporters were members of this secret society?” another reporter asked.

“No,” Ulrich replied. “From what we’ve gathered, the overwhelming majority of them are merely very stupid airheads who will never win a spelling bee, seem to really think that I’m a washed up heavy metal drummer I don’t even look like, and believe that simply because they interview famous people, that makes them famous. The inner circle, however, those are the people who have made use of the vast majority in their profession as pawns in their games. Unfortunately this does not mean the end of entertainment reporters in the world, as enjoyable as that would be for me personally.”

“How did you uncover the truth?” a reporter asked.

“A lot of old fashioned police work, shaking down sources, digging up leads, that sort of thing,” Ulrich admitted. “There was one of their number, an entertainment reporter they sent after me on New Year’s Eve to keep me distracted and annoy me by telling me what she actually did for a living at the end of the night. I can admit I was surprised by her. She felt guilty about the deception, told me what she knew, came clean about being ordered to do that, and that started me on the search. Meanwhile, the LAPD had numerous cases of interns for entertainment shows going missing without a trace, dating back thirty years. We started putting the pieces together. It led us to this... Cabal. If you ask me, they ought to just execute the lot of them. Bury them in sand near a fire ant colony, cover them in barbecue sauce, and let nature take its course.”

 At this point, officers removed the first member of the Cabal from the main entrance of the precinct to a waiting police car. She had been fingerprinted, booked, and processed, and was now cuffed, being walked between officers past the press conference. She had once been on television screens across the country and beyond, thought of as a cheerful and bubbly personality. Now her expression was one of deranged madness and unhinged rage. Mary Hart, later identified as the leader of the Dark Cabal Of The Infernal Gossip, was in the midst of a barely coherent rant.

“I am your Supreme Majesty!” she howled in rage. “I am your rightful mistress! Bow down before your queen, you fools! Worship me as I am to be worshiped! The New World Order of the Dark Cabal of the Infernal Gossip is meant to rule over all of you, with the example of the barren goddess Aniston to follow! Bow down! Kneel before your mistress! For I am your mistress and ruler!”

“You’re an idiot,” Ulrich told her as the officers dragged her past.

She froze, staring at him, resisting being moved any further. “You will pay, Ulrich. You will pay with your life. I swear to you, revenge will be ours. And you will beg for death before we are done. I will hold your heart in my hands after carving it out of your chest, Ulrich. Do you hear me????” The officers dragged her to the waiting car, with the sound of her maniacal laughter the last noise we heard of her before the door was closed.

Ulrich shook his head, shrugged, and said, “And that’s the reason I hate entertainment reporters.”

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Downfall Of The Dark Cabal

Some links for your consideration first off. Yesterday was a Snippet Sunday, so we had a post at our joint blog. Norma has some news at her blog. Krisztina had cherry blossoms featured at her blog the other day. Check out this scary pic at the Happy Whisk's page. And Parsnip had a few notes about things on Saturday.

Now then... this might be very confusing if you haven't read this post first. Even then, it might be very confusing. The conclusion's to come in the next post, so be back here on Wednesday.

Deep beneath the Hollywood sign, Los Angeles, California. The bunker headquarters of the secret society calling itself the Dark Cabal Of The Infernal Gossip. Late at night, eleven people strode into a dimly lit chamber, taking their seats around a table with twelve chairs. Each of them wore hooded cloaks, each of them moved with sinister purpose. A woman stepped in next, hooded and cloaked, standing at the last chair.

“All hail the Dark Cabal Of The Infernal Gossip!” she proclaimed.

“All hail, Supreme Majesty!” the others said as one.

She took her seat. “All has been well since last we met, sisters and brothers. Our plans for world domination have proceeded unopposed. All who have stood against us have been removed from the battlefield or otherwise distracted. None are left to stand in our way. Victory will soon be ours!” She began to laugh, in that megalomaniacal not entirely right in the head way of the supervillain.

“Victory!” came a cheerful voice from the group.

“Indeed, Sister Leeza. Soon the world will fall down on their knees to their new masters and mistresses. Us. They will follow us and heed our every word. And we will have our revenge on everyone who ever heckled us and called us lightweight morons. For we, the true leaders of the entertainment journalists, are the center of the universe.”

One of the Cabal spoke up in a panicked voice. “He’s out there! He’s about to turn everything upside down!”

“Brother Leonard, be calm,” another told him. “I will play some of my soothing music to calm your anxieties.”

“Brother John of Tesh, he will not permit it!” Brother Leonard exclaimed. “He despises your music and he can’t stand you! He would end the scene before he would let you begin to play the keyboards.”

“Brother Leonard,” another member of the Cabal prompted. “What are you talking about?”

“The Fourth Wall, Brother Carson of Daly!” Brother Leonard declared. “It’s real! The Writer is out there right now plotting our downfall! Have none of you read the title of this? He intends to use us as mere fodder for the aggression of his keystone character. The hated one! The Ulrich! He will dispatch our greatest enemy to destroy us! Well I won’t stand for it! Do you hear me, Writer? I know what you’re doing!”

“Brother Leonard, you need to adjust your medication,” a woman told him.

“We are working on that, Sister Nancy of O’Dell,” the Supreme Majesty remarked. “Brother Leonard of Maltin, I assure you, there is no such thing as the Fourth Wall.”

“Sister Maria of Menounos and I will adjust his medication after the ritual sacrifice and the orgy,” Sister Leeza said. “Clearly his sedatives need to be increased.

“Am I the only one here who sees reality as it is?” Brother Leonard asked, sounding exasperated.

“Be at peace, Brother Leonard,” the Supreme Majesty remarked. “Despite the prophecy, the Ulrich will not stand in our way. We will take over the world. All of humanity will bow to us. And we will see the Ulrich meet the horrible ending he so richly deserves. We will torture him, make him bleed, reduce him to tears, and end his life.”

“That’s a fascinating plan,” a voice called out from the darkness.

The members of the Cabal looked around, startled by the unknown voice.

“Who was that?” Sister Maria asked. “Brother Ryan of Seacrest, were you throwing your voice?"

Brother Ryan shook his head. “I don’t have that particular talent.”

“Who’s there?” the Supreme Majesty demanded.

“A really fascinating plan,” the voice called out. “I see no reason why you people can’t make it work.” Heavy footfalls echoed in the chamber. A man appeared in the shadows of the chamber entrance. “Except, perhaps, for me.”

Gasps filled the room. The Cabal shrank in terror as he stepped into the dim light, all of them recognizing the red serge of the uniform, the brim of the hat. “The Ulrich!!!” Sister Nancy screeched.

“The Evil One!” Brother John hissed.

“The rider on the pale horse!” Brother Ryan exclaimed.

“Aren’t you out of your jurisdiction?” Brother Carson inquired.

Inspector Ulrich strode forward, a smile curling across his lips. “Imagine, all this time, all those idiot entertainment reporters. All of them asking me about that washed up metal band. All of them mistaking me for that deaf drummer. All of them were annoying me. And all of it was because of you people. They were acting under your orders.” He laughed at that, the sound filling the chamber.

“Is it just me, or is his laughter scary?” Sister Nancy asked the others.

“Quiet, you,” Ulrich warned. “And here you are. Plotting world domination. Fascinating.”

The Supreme Majesty spoke after a moment. “I don’t suppose we could come to an arrangement. We could let you have Sister Leeza. She has a thing for you.”

“Well, I do,” Sister Leeza confirmed. “I mean, you are hot.”

“And we could even throw in Sister Maria of Menounos for a threesome into the mix if you just walk out and leave us alone to our plans,” the Supreme Majesty added. “Come now, Inspector, we don’t need to be enemies. You can even have a place in our New World Order.”

Ulrich chuckled. “Do you think I was born yesterday, Ms. Hart?”

“You know who I am?” the Supreme Majesty demanded, her voice low.

“I know who all of you are. You’re the most annoying people on the planet. And you’re a secret society out to rule the world. And I’m here to bring each and every single one of you to justice. And yes, I am out of my jurisdiction, but generally speaking, most police agencies just let me do as I please. Saving the world tends to make you friends in the right places, you know. By the way, the LAPD is outside and has every single exit covered, so don’t even think about trying to escape.”

The members of the Cabal looked around at each other. Brother Leonard blurted out, “I told you he was coming! I told you!”

Mary Hart, the Supreme Majesty, removed her hood, glaring at the Inspector. “Tell us one thing. How in the hell did you find us?”

Ulrich shrugged his head. “Oh, a combination of things. Breaking through the Fourth Wall and talking with the Writer. Good old fashioned police work. Getting a source on the inside who felt guilty about deceiving me helped a whole lot. But in the end, what it really comes down to….” He smiled again. The Cabal gasped. “Simply put, the reason is… I’m Lars Ulrich.”

Brother John of Tesh sighed. “Oh come on!!!!”

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Butler And The Crazy Debutante

"The only difference between a derelict and a man is a job." ~ Godfrey

"Godfrey loves me! He put me in the shower!"  ~ Irene

"People who take in stray cats say they make the best pets, madam." ~ Godfrey
"I don't see what stray cats have got to do with butlers." ~ Angelica

"Stand still, Godfrey, it'll all be over in a minute." ~ Irene

The 1936 film My Man Godfrey is a screwball comedy, character study, and commentary on the Depression. Director Gregory La Cava takes the screenplay by Morrie Ryskand, drawn from a short story by Eric Hatch, assembling a film with a marvelous cast exploring themes like class, family dynamics, and the worth of a person. It features a leading pair of characters played by actors who had been married and divorced years before, and strangely, the two ex-spouses share terrific chemistry. The film is considered a true classic, struck a chord with audiences in that era, and remains entertaining and fresh even to the contemporary audience, even as a story that's very much of its time.

Two high society sisters, Irene and Cornelia (Carole Lombard and Gail Patrick), are out one evening in New York on a scavenger hunt of sorts. They're looking among a group of down on their luck men living at the city dump for a "forgotten man" to bring back to win the game. They come across Godfrey (William Powell), who's annoyed by Cornelia's approach and doesn't mind making his opinion known. Irene has something of a different view- she doesn't particularly want to play games with the lives of people as it is. Godfrey decides to help her beat her sister at the game and comes along to the party to help her have her victory.

In turn, Irene offers him a job as her family's butler. It's an unusual proposition- most of the family is crazy or eccentric. Their mother Angelica (Alice Brady) has a protege named Carlo (Mischa Auer) who's something of a freeloader in the family house. Their businessman father Alexander (Eugene Pallette) finds himself exasperated by the antics of his family. The maid, Molly (Jean Dixon) cautions Godfrey that he's not likely to last long working for a family this crazy. And Godfrey's presence unsettles things, while he himself is not quite as he seems.

The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including all four of the acting categories, best director, and best screenplay- ironically not winning any of the categories, but well deserved. The film at the time had been well received by audiences and critics alike, and has been since designated by the Library of Congress as a film of cultural significance. La Cava weaves his way in and out of pure screwball comedy and social commentary with ease, combining the laughter with the theme of upstairs-downstairs that particularly appeals to the British. He also uses the film to stress the notion that people who have had a bad turn in life are still worthwhile as people- a message that resonated deeply during the painful years of the Depression. Through the work of his crew, he conveys  both the world of the wealthy and the downtrodden with attention to detail. The Bullock family and the circles they travel in are rendered as you might expect- opulence and a casual disregard to keeping track of financial matters. And the world of the tramp has just as much attention to detail, feeling gritty and authentic. Of the two worlds, the latter seems more grounded- unlike the insanity in the Bullock home, the tramps look out for each other, are all in the same boat, and as Godfrey reveals to an old friend who's known him before,  he's only alive because of the optimistic spirit of his fellow tramps.

The actors have been well cast in their parts. Jean Dixon plays the maid Molly as sardonic and wisecracking. She's able to put up with the bizarre nature of members of the family, the only domestic able to stay around for more than five minutes. Pallette plays exasperated and annoyed very well as he tries to cope with the eccentricities of his family in different ways. It sometimes requires the character to overlook details in other aspects of his life, but he plays the part as if the man is constantly wondering what are they going to do next? Brady plays his wife as a scatterbrained kind of woman, indulging the freeloader in the household, convinced she's helping along an artistic genius. She's often oblivious to what goes on around her, and Brady brings that across in her portrayal. Her protege Carlo gets on our nerves pretty quickly, which is kind of the point. Auer plays the freeloading twit as a bit of a nutcase, quite eccentric while willing to sacrifice his own dignity in the process. His presence is limited in the film, just enough to grate on the nerves of the audience, and so when he gets what's coming, we're happy to see him go. La Cava wisely doesn't overdo it with the character that way. Alan Mowbray turns up as well in a supporting role as Tommy, an old friend of Godfrey, who knows him as he really is, and finds himself being of assistance. He must play the role as affable, and he does.

Gail Patrick's marvelous as Cornelia. She plays the part as an ice queen, somewhat spoiled and hostile, conniving and vindictive. She holds a grudge, likes the idea of playing games with people's lives, and has something of an antagonistic relationship with both her sister and Godfrey. This is ironic, because Gail has terrific chemistry with Powell. As the story comes to a close, though, we get to see something different in the character, and that extra dimension gives the character depth. Carole Lombard plays Irene in a wonderful way. The character is inherently kind, a bit scatterbrained, and prone to dramatics, such as faking a fainting spell when need be. She finds herself quickly drawn to this tramp she's hired on as a butler, has no problem at all expressing that, and she gives the relationship dynamic with Godfrey a playful, flirtatious, and adult energy. Powell is another fine choice in the lead role. If you've seen his work in The Thin Man series, you know how well he plays sarcastic, smart, and charming. He brings that here too, playing the character of Godfrey in a variety of ways. We first meet him down low, and yet he has personal pride in himself. Powell plays the character close to the vest, showing us aspects of who he is gradually. We see him both perplexed by the eccentricities of the family on the one hand, but also able to adapt to things in a hurry. We also must accept him in more than one way as we learn the truth about him, and Powell plays these aspects genuinely. Godfrey finds himself  befuddled by Irene's feelings for him, tries to deflect her, but by film's end as he's being pulled into his fate despite himself, the audience completely accepts it as it is. That reflects both the way Powell has played the character throughout the film and the wonderfully playful chemistry between Powell and Lombard.

The film has justly established itself as a classic, combining the eccentricity of screwball comedy with the depth of addressing social issues of the time. While it feels very much as a story of the time, it's also a story we can relate to these days. The cast inhabits the roles in a variety of ways, all very good, and the chemistry among the leading actors has a magic all its own.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Day In The Life Of A Drunkard Mayor

Back again to the infamous crack smoking Mayor of Toronto, Rob "Drunken Stupor" Ford. Can I just say that writing in his voice is a bit unpleasant? And by a bit I mean a lot. The sooner this monumental prick and his brother are removed from public life forever, the better....

9:00 AM. Alarm goes off. Smash my hand onto it to shut it up. Who the **** set that alarm clock? Back to sleep. I wake up whenever the **** I want to wake up.

10:55 AM. Wake up out of deep sleep. Dreamed of having all my political enemies burned at the stake. That'd show those ****ers not to mess with ol' Robbie Ford. Hey, what happened to the alarm clock?

12:45 PM. Finally turn up at City Hall. Hey, I'm a half hour earlier than usual. I could've used that time to get more drinking in. I guess I'll just hide in my office and down a fifth of Scotch, light up some crack while I'm at it. Oh, crack, if I could marry you...

12:55 PM.  I get interrupted smoking crack when Dougie shows up at my office and tells me I missed a court appearance this morning. Oh, who gives a **** about that? The judges are all in on that big conspiracy against me, with the media and the left wingers and the granola eating downtown ****ers and the Premier and the Queen of England and the King of Spain and the Pope and the unions and the police chief. They're all out to get me, but Ford Nation will never stop loving me.

1:15 PM. Dougie gives me some peanut butter to chew on so I can conceal the smell of booze on my breath. That's what a good brother is for, always has my back. Time for that Council meeting, Dougie? Too bad we can't have all those councillors tarred and feathered and run outta town, right Dougie? Don't worry. Once we get ourselves into that whole world domination thing, we'll do just that.

1:40 PM. Heckling that ****er while he's talking to the rest of council. Damn it, I could use a drink. Instead I belch loudly and laugh about it. The Speaker asks me to behave myself. 

Hey! Don't you tell me what to do! **** off!

1:41 PM. Apologizing to Council for my outburst. I swear it won't happen again. We're past it all now, it's all in the past, guaranteed, it won't happen again, we've gotta move forward now, gravy train gravy train gravy train.

1:50 PM. Screaming profanities at that ****er Matlow and that other ****er Vaughn. I hate those two ****ers. Hate both of them. I wanna see them dead. I wanna burn their houses to the ground. They're just jealous of me. They know I'm a real classy guy and a lot better than they'll ever be. Yeah. Jealous.

1:51 PM. Dragged out of Council chambers by security. Oh, **** you! You hear me? **** you! You just declared war again on Robbie Ford, and I'm gonna go scorched earth on every single one of you ****ers!

2:05 PM. Dougie's in with me and our new public relations guy. Cyrus is a great guy, salt of the earth, just like me. Plus he's a good source for crack. Got himself in and outta jail, but that's because the media and the police and all those left wing ****ers are out to get him just like they're out to get me. ****ers, the lot of them. When Cyrus was in jail, I had to ask that Bieber kid to score me some crack. Geez, I hope that kid doesn't inadvertently let that slip. I mean, he's a lot of fun to smoke dope with, but I don't think he can stand up to serious questions for more than five minutes. So Dougie and Cyrus and me are tryin' to figure out how to spin what happened in Council today. **** it, Dougie, I'll just go out there, give the press the finger, and kick their butts if they don't like it.

Oh, ****!!! The lawyers just showed up. I hate lawyers. Always telling me that I can't do this or that or that I'd better shape up or I'll be in real trouble. **** 'em. 

2:07 PM. The lawyer's laying down the riot act. I pretend to listen while rolling my eyes. Dougie's rolling his eyes too. Too busy brainstorming campaign slogans. King Of Crack. I Heart Crack. I Need More Crack. I wonder how those would play out in North York.

2:10 PM. Look, I'll make this simple. The people are on my side, except those left wing ****ers, but the silent majority will vote for me no matter what they tell the polls. They know my track record. Come October, I'm back in, and then we're gonna go ballistic on the rest of those ****ers in Council. I guarantee it. Never push a Ford against the wall, because we fight dirty, we know gangbangers who can break legs, and we believe in revenge.

2:15 PM. The ****ing lawyer tells me I don't have a choice. I have to be contrite and issue a statement. 

Well, I can pretend to be contrite and sincere and say it won't happen again.

2:30 PM. Coming out to the press. I start to work my way through a statement, saying that I'm really sorry about what happened earlier, that I've been through a lot of stress, and it won't happen again. Look, the people elected me to do a job, and I'm in there working hard every day, and... don't interrupt me with questions, all right? You idiots know I don't like questions that dare sound critical about me. Hey! **** you!!!!

2:32 pm. Dougie and the lawyer drag me away from the media scrum. The lawyer mutters something about quitting working for me. Back into the office then. Need something to calm down.

3:05 PM. That hits the spot. Nice bottle of vodka. Smoking some crack. All's good with the world.

3:15 PM. Sneak out the back door while Dougie's got the media occupied. I need a drink. And I don't need a driver to get me where I'm going. I'm good to drive.

3:35 PM. Walk away from the SUV after plowing it into a barricade. Geez, I'd better not let anyone catch me here.

4:05 PM. Having a drink in the pub. Feeling woozy. Wonder if I hit my head in the accident. Maybe I'd better get myself checked out.

4:10 PM. Run into some guy in red out on the street while stumbling around drunk. Not sure what happens next.

10:45 PM. Waking up in jail cell. How the **** did I turn up here? At least I know some of the company. Hey, Butch, what are you in for?

11:15 PM. Dougie comes to see me. Tells me I'll be out soon, but I've been charged with assaulting a police officer, driving under the influence, and public intoxication. I ask him how I got in here. He says I ran into a cranky Mountie named Lars Ulrich. What? Since when is the drummer for Metallica a Mountie?

Dougie tells me I mentioned that to him, took a swing at him, and he hit back. Dougie says the guy doesn't like it when people mistake him for the other Lars Ulrich. That explains why my face feels like it got clobbered by a sledgehammer. That guy didn't leave a mark on my perfect face, did he? Come on, so what if he was a cop? Doesn't mean he can arrest me! You and me, we hate cops from way back. Always doin' their jobs and arrestin' our buddies. Dougie, we gotta send a gangbanger to teach this **** Ulrich some ****ing manners.

Whaddya mean that's a real bad idea?

12:50 AM. Dougie and the lawyer march me out past a horde of reporters after making bail. They're all shouting questions. Way too loud. I've already got a hangover. Need more booze to make it go away. One of them asks when I'll finally quit the mayoral race and stop making an ass of myself.

Hey, **** you! Nobody tells me I'm making an ass of myself! Nobody! You're all out to get me! You're the problem! Not me! I'm a great guy! So **** you!!! I'm walking outta here with my dignity intact.

Still not steady on my feet. Fall over and split my pants when I hit the pavement. Cameras going off. All of them catch sight of my Where's Waldo boxer shorts.

Oh, ****, this is gonna make the front pages of the papers, isn't it?