Festival of Fiendishness – Day 2: THE GREMLINS

I’m marginally ashamed to admit that I have had my share of laughter at the expense of the handicapped. That’s a great way to start, huh? But those of you who know me—really know me—know it’s true. Laughing at the wrong things at the wrong times has always been my jene sais quoi—the handi-capable floor hockey game (which I tried to videotape), the midget Michael Jackson impersonator on Sabado Gigante who proceeded to hump the stage Bobby Brown-style (which I also unsuccessfully tried to tape—fucking VHS), the kid who tried to tell me he had a bad stuttering problem WHILE STUTTERING. Anything on Discovery Health. I don’t care how inappropriate, if it’s funny, I’m going to laugh. Right then. I can’t help it. I know it’s wrong. I know I’m going to Hell for it—at this point I’m trying to get air conditioning.

So you can imagine my utter delight when I saw Mrs. Deagle’s old ass go flying up the stairs at warp speed in that motorized chair and fly out the window. That was funny enough. But then I heard a bunch of little voices laughing their asses off at the whole thing. That ramped up the hilarity to an entirely different level. To this day, I can’t visit my childhood church without picturing one of our deaconesses zipping up the stairs. And I bet while you were reading this, you were muttering to yourself, “Deagle! Deagle Deagle Deagle!”

I was 11 when Gremlins came out. That means it was everything I was looking for: an excuse to break every rule I was given. It even came with very simple rules: don’t expose them to bright light, don’t get them wet, and never, ever feed them after midnight. Simple rules, huh? Nobody follows the rules. This is the best follow-the-rules movie ever—should have been an Afterschool Special. The dad brings home the Mogwai as a gift for his grown-but-unwilling-to-move-out son, Billy. Right after getting the rules, Billy blinds Gizmo with the bathroom light, repeatedly. Drunk ass Corey Feldman (you know he was drunk as a kid too) spills water on Gizmo and made them mean-ass puff balls. Next thing you know, the dog is strapped to the door, Gizmo is spat on and tossed down the laundry chute and the new Mogwai convince Billy to feed them chicken. After midnight.

Then it gets fun.

Mogwai turn to Gremlins, a lot of Gremlins thanks to Stripe (who really deserves his own slot in the pantheon), and they have a ball in the quiet little hamlet of Whateveritscalled. And I mean they have a BALL! They try to eat Billy’s mom—and we get to see Gremlins get microwaved, which is impressive since 17 people had microwaves in 1984. They kill the Colonel from A Different World (over an apple), take over a bar and get REALLY drunk, ruin some guy’s snowplow, pay Mrs. Deagle a visit, and go see Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. And then get blown up.

And laugh all the way through it.

This is what makes the Gremlins so fantastic, so exceptional: through it all—the bloodshed, the wanton terror, singing Hi Ho with the dwarves—they are having an amazing time! They are enjoying every single moment of their mischief, regardless of the consequences, even when the consequences happen to each other. It is all fun and games to them and, by watching them, you can’t help but have a good time too. And they have one hell of a theme song!

Now that’s an incredible villain—the one that makes you hope their villainy didn’t end and wish you were along for the ride.

And tomorrow—Mr. Anderson, that is the sound of inevitability. Agent Smith jumps out of the Matrix into my blog!

My Wife Drugged Me Last Night or How I Missed My Post Yesterday

So I’m doing a new series on the villains we all know and love, right? I was all set to write this treatise, this masterpiece on the Gremlins—it was going to change the world FOREVER. But my wife drugged me. It’s a funny little story actually.

A couple weeks ago, I moved around the corner from where I live. In the course of moving, we all expect a few bangs and bruises here and there—you’re moving all your shit, right? The heavy stuff, the bulky stuff, the Why Are We Keeping This Shit? stuff. Things happen. There are always casualties in any move: something gets bent or broken or lost and it’s usually something marginally insignificant like a plate or that ugly wedding gift or a small child. Something you wouldn’t necessarily miss. This time it was me.

Let me set the stage: it was a dark and stormy night and the wind was howling through the streets like forlorn wolves—ok fine, it was a clear a relatively balmy evening here in the great Northwest. I had my trusty U-Haul and a not-so trusty neighbor and we were moving some items ahead of the Big Move. In this case, we were moving half a sectional. Now U-Hauls come with a handy-dandy ramp thing that makes moving heavy objects from the back of the truck to the ground exponentially easier. I’ve found they are especially helpful when you step ON them. I found that out the hard way.

I missed.

Well, half of me did. Sectional in hand, I stepped forward with my left foot. Everything’s gravy. Go to step with the right and…nothing. Nothing. Dead air. I even held up the Wile E Coyote “YIPE” sign before I came down. Hard. Didn’t fall; just stepped down like 4 feet by accident. Knee wasn’t happy but everything seemed ok. Just a twinge. I kept moving literally.

Later that night, the wife of said Not-So-Trusty neighbor comes over talking about “I heard you got hurt.” Well, I’m still in my Wrangler cowboy, “I’m alright” mode. I shrug it off. Now this couple is kinda New Age-y. They have some interesting beliefs, do some interesting things—whatever. To each his own, right? Well, your girl does this quantum medical time-travel thing where (and I’m not joking) she acts like a human tricorder, waves her hands in front of my knee, makes some interesting beeping sounds and “resets my parameters” to a couple of hours before I got hurt. She’s essentially telling my body to act like it did before I stepped off the truck. That look you have on your face right now—yeah, I had it too. But this chick is serious.

And, surprise, surprise, ineffective.

Anyway, I keep it moving. Get up the next day for the Big Move and, with the help of a More Trusty neighbor, got all my stuff around the corner and in its rightful place. My knee aches but I chalk it up to moving the heaviest shit on earth up 3 flights of stairs so The Boy doesn’t sleep on the floor. I take a bath, some Aleve, and call it.

But the pain doesn’t stop. I go out of town, present at a conference where I’m on my feet for 2 days and I’m noticing that taking stairs is becoming increasingly more painful. Maybe I did do something. Shit. Go to the doctor, get some x-rays, a beautiful knee brace and a referral to see an orthopedic specialist. Oh yeah, and some painkillers. Wonderful. Go see the ortho who, during his exam, jams his thumb right where my stuff is hurting! He almost got slapped. His words, “You gotta get an MRI so we can make sure you didn’t tear up anything else. When you hyperextended your knee, you probably fractured the [INSERT MEDICAL TERM HERE] floor. Meniscus tear too.” I don’t even know what it means but it sounds like I’m going to be spending the night on WebMD.

Goddammit.

He asks me about pain. I still have some cowboy left: “I’m ok—I mean it hurts but only when I do stuff. Is the painkillers supposed to take the pain away? I still feel the pain; I just get all cloudy in my head.”

“Take two,” the man says.

Two.

Which brings me to last night. My wife won’t let me move unless I have to pee, she scrounged up crutches (I thought we got rid of those?) and, as I am typing last night’s post, gives me two. I have no idea what happened after that. I found these pictures on Facebook this morning:

Gremlins are coming (I promise!)…provided I can remember what I was going to say…