Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Death Of A Sandwich Eater

“Thank you for coming today on this sad occasion for all of us who knew our good friend. It falls to me to do the eulogy, after his beloved wife and children asked me. How could I refuse? How do we mourn a life well lived, particularly in the face of such profound tragedy? Across our town, so many funerals are taking place today, and in the days yet to come. All of us have been touched in one way or another. No survivor is left unaffected. All of us know someone who has passed on.

And all because of food poisoning.

Life is a strange thing. One moment you’re driving along on a leisurely afternoon’s drive in the countryside, the next you’re being plowed from the side by a runaway truck. One moment you’re strolling on a winter day, the next you’re slipping on ice and breaking your neck. One moment you’re helping yourself to one of your patented epic sandwiches, the next you’re choking.

We can remember our friend. We can remember the endlessly hungry, endlessly napping, endlessly bowling playing pal with the strange name and the curious hair. We can remember our beloved Dag. We can remember Dagwood Bumstead.

Dagwood seemed to have been around forever, didn’t he? Working away during the days as an office manager- when he wasn’t napping and getting chewed out by his boss, of course. Making those impossibly tall sandwiches that were practically a work of art. Working on naps on the couch. Spending time with his wife Blondie, their kids Alexander and Cookie, and their dog Daisy. There, there, Daisy, Dag’s in a better place now.

And he touched so many lives along the way. You know, Dag and I were best friends. Our wives were best friends. We lived next door to each other for years on end. Dag and I went bowling together, car pooled together. I borrowed tools from him all the time. We’d tease and heckle each other to no end, because hey, that’s what friends do, right? He’d tell me about his bad day with that old crank of a boss of his… oh, hi, Mr. Dithers! How are you today? I’m surprised you’re not up here complaining about how you have to find a replacement for Dag now that he’s dead.

Where was I? Oh yes. Dag.

How do we make sense of a death so tragic, a death so young? Especially of a stand up decent guy like him? Especially among so much more death? Maybe all we can do is talk about what happened. How it all came to be.

Maybe he wasn’t the first link in the daisy chain, as they say. Maybe he was the second. Maybe it started with that blind old man who got in his car two miles away. But for Dag, it started at home. In the kitchen. Where he was making one of his infamous Dagwood sandwiches. You know, I always used to wonder why Dag didn’t gain any weight considering the feasts he’d call a snack. Did he have an eating disorder?

I’m getting off track. What I’m trying to say here is simple. Or maybe not. Anyway, Dag was making that sandwich, happy as he could be, piling on meats and cheeses and artisan breads and all the condiments, no doubt thinking of how happy he’d be eating all that.

What he didn’t know was that instead of his usual pepper paste, someone at the factory had bottled a jar of Carolina Reaper pepper paste and mislabeled it. What you might not know is that Carolina Reaper is considered the world’s hottest pepper. What Dag didn’t know was that Carolina Reaper was the only thing in the world he was allergic to. So there’s Dag, finishing up making his big Dagwood sandwich, and he starts eating…

And then it happened.

Alexander said he was clutching his throat and turning blue. The doctors later said he was having an allergic reaction. He ran out the front door… and instead of running into the mailman as he so often did when he ran out the door, he ran into that kid Elmo from the neighbourhood. Since Elmo’s parents aren’t here today, I can feel safe in telling all of you that I never liked that kid.

Anyway, Dag ran into Elmo, knocking him into the street. It was at that very moment that the aforementioned old blind guy, Mr. Magoo, driving his car without a license, was coming. Dag collapsed on the sidewalk. Elmo got run over by Mr. Magoo, who never saw the kid. Magoo’s car spun out of control in a seventeen block careening route of carnage and disaster, knocking down pedestrians on the sidewalks, ramming into other cars, and finally hitting a propane truck.

The propane truck blew up. Biggest explosion this town has ever seen. Destroyed most of the hospital.

So there was Dag dying of an allergic reaction. What was left of Elmo pancaked in the street. Mr. Magoo burnt to a crisp inside what’s left of his car.

And it didn’t stop there.

The Warbucks mansion was destroyed. Oliver and Annie Warbucks were among the casualties.

A family of six visiting relatives here in town, all wiped out. Bil, Thelma, and their children Billy, Dolly, Jeffy, and P.J.. The weird thing is the relatives say it seems those kids never seemed to get any older. Well, now they won’t.

You’ve all heard about the Flagstons and the Thurstons. Hi, Lois, their children, all wiped out when one of the hospital boilers came crashing down on their home. And to add insult to injury, the boiler blasted apart right after crashing- and totaled the home of the Thurstons. Irma and Thirsty were… well, their funerals are going to have to be closed caskets. Severed in half by flying debris? You don't want to see that.

Camp Swampy was destroyed. Nearly every soldier and officer there killed when the second hospital boiler landed there and set everything ablaze. Except for Private Bailey, who was off in the woods napping.

The Duncan family have survived, fortunately. Jeremy’s van didn’t, and apparently the boy is heartbroken, because his guitar was inside. Walt, is it true that Jeremy wants to hold a funeral for his guitar?

There were rumours of talking cows, cavemen, mad scientists, and little geeky kids all running together away from the Larson Institute For Far Side Surrealism before the building collapsed. Given how reclusive the inhabitants of that building were, we still don’t know how the survivors are coping.

You know, if anyone would have been the cause of four hundred fifty eight people in this town meeting a horrible end, I would have thought it would have been that brat Calvin. You know, the kid who walks around with that stuffed tiger and seems to talk to himself a lot. The worst kid I’ve ever met. But no, he was off with his parents that day on some ‘character building’ camping trip and missed the whole thing.

That’s beside the point. What is the point is that our friend is dead. With four hundred fifty seven other people in town.

All because of a mislabeled jar of pepper paste.

Or a blind old man who should have been in a nursing home forty years ago.

Take your pick.

Well, goodbye, Dag.

You were the best friend anyone could have asked for.

We’ll all miss you. Even Old Man Dithers, who’ll have to start yelling at other people.

Oh, don’t look at me that way, J.C., we both know you’re going to miss the Dagster.

And for the record… I’ll get around to returning that power drill I borrowed, Dag. Sometime next week.”

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Insecurities Of An Angry Actor

Academy Awards To Go Ahead; Star Demands Respect

Los Angeles (AP) Further details on the 90th Academy Awards were announced by producers. The annual awards blowout and celebrity love-in event will be happening on March 4th, 2018, hosted once again by Jimmy Kimmel, returning from last year. Producers Michael de Luca and Jennifer Todd met with reporters in Hollywood at the Academy’s Pickford Center For Motion Picture Study to discuss some of the outlying issues of the ceremony, which each year crowns winners in multiple categories and seems to draw in way too much emphasis on what people are wearing.

Nominations will be opening up early in the new year, with numerous films speculated about as contenders in various categories. The producers confirmed that Kimmel’s steady hosting and capacity for improvising in the last year’s epic-length ceremony made him a good bet to return this year, and that Kimmel has been hard at work with the writing staff in devising the opening. They also promised to do everything in their power to bring the ceremonies in on time. “As opposed to the usual eighteen to forty eight hour ordeal,” Todd noted.

“Yes, I can confirm that Jack Nicholson’s corpse will be present and accounted for,” de Luca added. “In cooperation with the terms of his will, the annual touch-ups on his embalming will be taking place in the days leading up to the ceremony, and he’ll be ready to go, propped up right in the front row as always. We are trying to get people to agree to sit beside him, but thus far have had problems getting solid commitment in that regard.”

Todd carried on. “Yes, we are well aware of the ongoing scandals involving actors, producers, and the like in sexual harassment or assault. We continue to monitor the situation, and can assure you that those who have been accused will not be attending. If, during the ceremonies, breaking news comes out that one of the attendees is being accused of anything, we are fully prepared to throw them out. Mr. Kimmel plans on devoting time during the ceremonies to single out Harvey Weinstein in particular as a target of his comedic wrath. We have no idea where Mr. Weinstein is, so you’ll have to ask his lawyer. Who, if they act like any other lawyer would, will just say they have no comment pending legal hearings anyway.”

“And then there are the other matters,” de Luca remarked. “Over the last few years we’ve had persistent problems with the behavior of Tom Cruise, who has perpetually shown up despite not being invited and has routinely made a fool of himself, demanding attention. Once again this year we will have our enforcers on hand. Tommy Lee Jones and Marisa Tomei have kindly agreed to take on that position again, and rest assured, neither of them need brass knuckles to get the job done.”

“You can’t let her in!” a voice bellowed from the back of the room. Reporters turned, and a familiar figure came striding through the crowd towards the producers. Leonardo DiCaprio, the perpetually Oscar deprived actor (at least until his lead role in The Revenant), looked irritated. The actor, who actually hasn’t acted in a feature film lately, and who isn’t scheduled to act any time soon, has been known for making scenes at the Oscars and getting beaten up by the aforementioned Ms. Tomei as a consequence. “Marisa Tomei broke my nose! She’s humiliated me repeatedly, and you can’t let her attend the ceremony!” He took to the podium, glaring out at the reporters, looking less like the heartthrob from his Titanic days and more like he was channeling a middle aged Orson Welles.

“Mr. DiCaprio,” de Luca started, and the actor turned, glaring at him. “You’ve been warned about this before. Ranting doesn’t look good for anyone, but especially you, and if it means we’re required to bring in actors who know how to handle themselves in a fight and who have no problem at all knocking someone out, that’s what we’ll do.”

“What part of she broke my nose are you not hearing?” DiCaprio countered, turning back to the reporters. “I demand respect! I am the greatest actor alive today, and I should be treated as such! I mean, there’s a reason I’ve got supermodels to date all the time, you know!”

“Because you have money and fame?” this reporter asked, not adding, it can’t be for your personality.

DiCaprio nodded. “My point is no one treats me the way I’ve been treated and just keeps getting away with it! I demand that she be barred from the Oscars. Jones too! I won’t be hit in the face by anyone ever again!” The actor went on, but movement behind him caught the eyes of everyone. Jones and Tomei themselves came out on stage, silently moving behind the actor as he carried on ranting. Finally Jones tapped on his left shoulder, while Tomei tapped on his right shoulder. DiCaprio turned… and Tomei and Jones hit him in the face at the same time, sending him tumbling to the floor.

The press conference broke up shortly thereafter. Tomei and Jones were quiet, but seemed quite satisfied. The producers thanked reporters for coming. Reporters speculated on the long odds of the Oscars actually running on time. And DiCaprio was taken out of the building by paramedics, holding his nose and yelling, “they broke my nose again!”

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Platinum Dunes Surfer Dude

Owner Of Leonardo Painting Identified; Movie Project Unleashed

It has been a subject of much interest since the auction sold the painting for a record price. Salvator Mundi, the reputed work of Leonard0 da Vinci, was sold at Christie’s for 450 million dollars in November. The painting, described by auction house experts as the last da Vinci, is one of less than twenty paintings by the master known to exist, all but this one in the hands of museums. Who bought the painting was a mystery- at least until now.

Reporters were summoned to the production studio Platinum Dunes for a press conference. The studio, one of the production houses for Michael Bay, one of the world’s not that bright film directors, is a familiar sight to real reporters who have been sent off on punishment assignments by grouchy editors (editor: shut up! I hate you!), as well as entertainment reporters. This reporter, who is in a state of persistent hostility with his cranky editor (editor: what did I just say? Shut up!) and who even has a restraining order in place to deny said cranky editor any personal contact (editor: I am dreaming of attending your funeral and spitting on your coffin) was among those sent off to the press conference.

Real reporters gathered amid a horde of entertainment reporters. The latter were gushing, speculating on what might be announced. The former group were wondering why they deserved being subjected to Michael Bay press conferences (editor: because you’re an insufferable bastard who deserves nothing but torment!). A spokesperson came out on stage, where a podium and full length mirror had been set up. She called for attention, and the entertainment reporters finally settled down. “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the one, the only, the esteemed… Michael Bay!”

The entertainment reporters broke out into rapturous applause. The real reporters rolled their eyes collectively. Bay came out on stage, smiling in that usual vacant way of his, his eyes carrying the usual amused but not playing with a full deck of cards expression (editor: stop making fun of Michael Bay! He’s a great director!). He stopped by the podium, smiled at his reflection, and faced his audience. “Thank you! Thank you so much! It’s great to see you! And it must be great for you to see me! Of course it is!”

He paused, looked back in the mirror again, and winked at himself. Then he carried on. “You know, I’ve got a lot of things going on. Movie projects in the pipeline, long overdue acceptance speeches for the Oscars. Lots and lots of things. But the one thing I don’t have yet is something precious I can call my own, and then blow sky high to kingdom come, as they say. Until now. Could we have the curtain, please?”

The stage curtains behind him were drawn away. Standing alone there was Salvator Mundi, lit up in a soft spotlight. “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Salvator Mundi. Or as I’m going to rename it, The Platinum Dunes Surfer Dude by Leonardo da Vinci, courtesy of Michael Bay. That’s the full title, by the way.”

The entertainment reporters broke out into applause. Bay kept grinning. This reporter spoke up. “You expect us to believe you bought the last Leonardo?”

Bay nodded. “Of course I did. I’ve made billions of dollars down through the years making movies and blowing stuff up. Lots of people come to see my movies, so I’ve made a killing in the industry. So why not spend half a billion bucks to buy a painting? Especially considering what I’m going to do to it. We’re talking the most expensive effects shot of all time, in my coming feature film, titled Leonardo’s Revenge. Isn’t that a great title?”

This reporter shook his head while entertainment reporters gushed. “Are you crazy?”

Bay looked confused. “Why do people keep asking me that? I’m perfectly rational, especially when I’m blowing stuff up. Now then, let’s talk about the plot. We’re talking about a film with hot babes waxing sports cars and Aerosmith themes and chases and explosions and hot babes and did I mention the explosions? We’re talking about a master thief, Jack Voleur, out to steal the impossible. We’re talking about his one weakness, the woman who got away. And we’re talking about the villain, the evil Russian oligarch arms dealer. And now, ladies and gentlemen, playing my lead, one of my favourite actors, and I know he’s one of yours… give a big hand to Nicolas Cage!”

Cage came out on stage and waved to the crowd, staggering a bit as he strode over to Bay. “Hey there! I’m glad to be part of this big film, and we’re gonna have a blast doing it. Emphasis on a blast, because that’s what Michael Bay films are all about.”

Bay nodded. “That’s right, and we’re gonna make it a big blast!”

A Reuters reporter spoke up. “You said something about the most expensive effects shot of all time.”

Bay nodded. “Yes, yes. I’ve always wanted to know what it would be like to take an item of incredible historic and artistic significance like this Leonardo and, well… destroy it in every conceivable way. So as part of the movie, we’re going to be blowing up the Leonardo.”

The entertainment reporters seemed confused. Real reporters spoke up in outrage. “You can’t do that!” this reporter objected.

“Why not? I own the piece of crap now,” Bay retorted.

“It’s a Leonardo!” the Reuters correspondent pointed out.

“Yes, well, I asked the Louvre to sell me the Mona Lisa so I could blow that up, but they told me to go **** myself. I don’t know why people say that to me. Maybe they’re just jealous of my sheer genius. Anyway, it’s going to be a big blast of a film. Cat burglars, arms dealers, hot babes, art getting blown up. What’s not to like? Thanks for coming out!”

Bay and Cage headed off stage, leaving puzzled reporters in their wake. Entertainment reporters were wondering how to spell Leonardo. Real reporters were making calls to Christie’s to inquire as to why they were so foolish to allow the sale of a master’s painting to a cultural barbarian. Art experts began quickly demanding that Bay surrender the painting to a reputable gallery. And this reporter’s cranky editor kept making excuses for Bay at every… (editor: shut up or I’ll have Bay tie you up to the painting before he blows it up!)

In the opinion of this reporter, his cranky editor needs a few decades of anger management therapy.