What a POTUS

I only have recently heard the term “POTUS” (an acronym for President of the United States), but now every time I hear it spoken or read it in print a certain image is conjured up for me — one of a disinterested, slack-jawed moron that got to his unearned position through powerful connections and money rather than through hard work, dedication, and intellectual honesty.

So, here’s to you, POTUS!

National Treasure 2 Bucks

There are only a few more days left before the LaGrange Theatre mercilessly jacks its ticket prices from two dollars to three fifty. So, I thought I might as well try to squeeze one more cheap movie out of them before the next time I want to patronize their establishment, when I will have to choose to either feed my family or celebrate le cinema.

What were my choices tonight for 9-ish features at the LaGrange?

No Country For Old Men – I actually saw this in a first-run theater, and didn’t feel like watching it again.

I Am Legend – I saw this one at a first-run theater too! What the hell, am I a cinematic butterfly or what?

National Treasure: Book of Secrets – Alright, I’m game!

Wow, is Nicolas Cage looking sexy or what?!! No? Okay, sorry.

So, I must confess I was actually looking forward to seeing this movie a bit. Despite my self-loathing, schmuckish self, I actually kind of enjoyed the first National Treasure movie. I mean, it was kinda silly stupid, and I wanted that Riley Poole dweebo sidekick to get hit by a meteor, but I had fun watching it.

In addition to this, a major role is played by Jon Voight, who was something like a patron saint at the Davis Theater, the cheap moviehouse in my old Chicago stomping grounds. Don’t believe me? Hey, the truth is out there — I even made a bar graph about the man.

There was actually a brand new Goofy cartoon that preceded the movie. Guess who hates Goofy? Yes, you’re right! It’s me! Now please don’t misunderstand me — I greatly admire a movie studio willing to devote time and resources to bring the public an original work of animation. It’s definitely an artform to be cherished. But… I hate Goofy! Eff you, Goofy!

We then slide into the movie, which starts in the past, in the days following the end of the Civil War. We see an ancestor of our protagonist Ben Gates translating a page from John Wilkes Booth’s diary, and blah blah blah, Lincoln is shot, Gates’ ancestor realizes the person he is translating for is a member of some nefarious treasure-hunting organization (it was called Kentucky Fried Chicken, or something remarkably similar to KFC) and tries to destroy part of the diary, only to be shot by the KFC man.

Back in the present day, Ed Harris shows up with a page of the diary to interrupt Ben Gates’ (Nicolas Cage) stupid lecture about Lincoln, brandishing a missing page from Booth’s diary. Because the name of Gates’ ancestor is written on the diary with other Lincoln assassination co-conspirators, people immediately assume that Gates was the mastermind behind the assassination. This is supposed to be the motivating factor … y’know what? I’m done recounting the plot. It’s stupid. It’s a stupid, stupid plot. Do you want to know how stupid the plot is? The screenwriters that are attributed to this movie are listed in the credits as “The Wibberleys”.

So, in the end after a lot of hokum and nonsense, they end up finding a golden city under Mount Rushmore. Somehow this proves that Gates’ ancestor didn’t help kill Lincoln. I’m sure it’s all very logical when you diagram it all out.

Here’s some random observations.

Ed Harris is the bad guy in this movie, but he seems to wildly vacillate from being a noble man and a dickhead. I realize there are noble dickheads out there, but his nice and dickish parts didn’t seem to fit together well — it was more like the director said, “Ed, in this scene you are Jackson Pollock on a bender!” Or, “Ed, you’re in mission control talking to the guys up in the Apollo 13, and you have a styling flat-top haircut!”.

Ed Harris has some henchmen that follow him around for part of the movie. One guy’s sole purpose seems to be to pull people from their car so he can get in, drive and crash into things.

In this movie, we get to meet Ben Gates’ mom (and the elder Gates’ ex-wife). So, Gates’ dad is played by Jon Voight. Who are they going to get to play the mom? Why it’s none other than Helen Mirren, celebrated British actor and star of Prime Suspect, a detective series I have been frantically Netflixing! I didn’t know whether to feel happy or sad for her role in this movie, so I chose to feel nothing. I FELT NOTHING.

Harvey Keitel, who had a relatively small part as an FBI-agent-who-is-also-a-Freemason in the first film, also makes a small appearance in the sequel. In the original movie he flashes a little subtle Freemason jewelry, but as he is introduced in this movie, I believe the man is wearing Freemason suspenders. I’m not kidding.

So the movie ends and I decide to sneak over to catch the last few minutes of No Country For Old Men. When I had seen it the first time, the ending kinda confused me. It seemed a bit abrupt and stupid. I did confirm, yes, the ending is a bit abrupt and stupid.

The next review I do from the LaGrange will cost me $3.50! Please donate any spare quarters to the Two Buck Schmuck fund, to allow us to continue the richly entertaining commentary you have come to expect from this hallowed blog.


Union Station

So, I had a kind of busy weekend.

My folks bought a new car a while back and gave us their old station wagon, so we’ll now be a two-car household. We don’t expect to use the additional car a lot, but it’s nice to have for logistical reasons.

So, we got all the paperwork taken care of on Friday. I took the Metra train to Union Station downtown in the late afternoon, for purposes of taking the Amtrak train down to Springfield, where I would pick up the car and drive it back the following day.

The way the train schedules worked out, I had about an hour and a half to putter about at Union Station while I waited for my train to Springfield to depart.

As I have mentioned before, I started out a new audio blog that consists of posts of one or a handful of musical notes, often recorded from the surrounding environment. Never to be an unprepared blogger, I had my recently-purchased digital voice recorder with me to record any interesting musical sounds. I also had my digital camera with me for the trip.

I really love the Great Hall in Union Station, and sat there for a spell during my wait. While I was there, I took a few pictures and recorded some audio of my time there.

This gives you a nice idea of the size of the room. And it’s in the goddamned US of A, in case you didn’t see that big flag.

I just panned the camera a bit to the right to capture this lovely view.

The roof of the Great Hall. It lets in some very filtered light, which actually makes the whole room feel a bit sad.

Panning the camera a little more to the right and we see the stone steps famously used in a sequence in Brian DePalma’s Untouchables. You may remember that a baby carriage was a major component of the scene. It just so happened that the baby carriage in the photo had just been pushed (gently) down the steps.

A casualty of the cellphone era. A bank of payphones, only a couple of them operable.

Here’s the audio I captured. It’s about a minute and a half, and is appropriately directionless and echoey.

Jesus And The Magic Beans

Hey, kids, it’s just in time for an Easter-themed dreadful reimagining!

So, pull up a chair, crack open a beer, and read all about Jesus and the Magic Beans!

Jesus had stopped counting the days of his wandering long ago. It was long enough ago that he had nearly forgotten when he had stopped counting.

As he walked down a muddy road, he saw a boy pulling a cow on a rope. The boy looked hungry and angry. The cow looked hungry and sick. The cow’s eyes were glazed over and its legs were covered in sores. Jesus’s heart swelled up with feeling as the boy neared him. The boy tripped forward. The cow had suddenly halted.

With a growl the boy went behind the cow and kicked it severely in its hind legs. The cow gave out a faint moan and started walking again.

“Boy,” Jesus said, “Your cow looks very sick. And you look hungry. I would like to help you.”

The boy glared at him. Jesus reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of beans. “These are magic beans. Please, take them and plant one in the ground. One bean will feed a family for an entire year. I will take your cow in exchange.”

The boy looked at Jesus and looked at his cow. He put out his hand. Jesus placed the beans in the boy’s palm. The boy dropped the cow’s rope, turned and silently walked away.

Jesus picked up the rope. “Come, gentle creature.” The cow followed Jesus.


In the light of the moon, Jesus dipped strips of his robes into the lake water. A small pile of hay lay next to him. The cow slowly bent its head down and nibbled at the hay as Jesus gently cleansed its leg wounds with water.

Jesus abruptly looked up, distracted by a low, deep rumble. In the faint glow of the moon, he saw an enormous beanstalk shooting up into the sky.

“No,” Jesus said.

The cow mooed sadly. “It will be alright. Sleep, gentle creature.”


The next morning, Jesus and the cow walked in the direction of the large beanstalk. They approached a humble cottage which rested right near the enormous plant.

Jesus rapped lightly on the door.

A rundown woman yanked open the door. She sneered at Jesus. “What do you want?”

The boy poked his head around her. “Mom, it’s the man who gave me the beans!”

“Alright,” the boy’s mother said. “You can come in for a bit. But get that worthless sack of dung away from our house first. He’s your problem now, not ours.”

Jesus spoke softly to the cow, patted its head, then stepped inside.

“Boy, did you not plant the beans as I told you?”

“My mum threw them all out the window when I told her how I got them. But I showed her! Look what I got!”

The boy yanked on a rope, which strangely enough produced a loud honk. A beautiful white goose came into view from around the corner, a rope tightly around his neck.

“Watch this!” said the boy. He turned to the goose. “Lay!” he shouted. The goose’s eyes were wild with fear. “LAY!” the boy shouted.

The goose started honking excitedly. The boy kicked the goose square in the chest. “LAY!!” he screamed. A golden egg fell out of the goose’s rear end.

“Boy,” Jesus asked, “where did you get this goose?” But Jesus knew where the goose had come from. He knew the goose belonged to the giant. The giant’s father had been a terrible monster, and had caused much misery and suffering. But this giant, whose name was Grover, was a tame creature. He could frighten one with talk of eating and tearing and grinding, but in truth he wouldn’t hurt a soul, and would much rather be tending to his cloud garden, growing his fruits and vegetables. And Jesus knew that the goose meant very much to Grover the giant.

“I got it fair and square. You got my cow. You’re not getting my goose,” the boy said.

“Nobody speaks to my son that way. Get out of here!” the boy’s mother snarled.


The cow gently chewed on a small pile of hay as the stars began twinkling in the sky. Jesus drank from the lake.

He looked up as he heard the faintest music. It was the beautiful strains of a harp. And what was mixed with it? It sounded like sobbing.

“Grover,” Jesus spoke softly. “I am so sorry. Sleep peacefully tonight.”


The cow’s health was slowly improving, but it was still quite weak. As Jesus led him to the lake he was distracted by a blur of color on the large beanstalk. It was the boy, and he looked to be carrying something gold and shiny in one of his arms.

The beanstalk shook violently. Jesus looked up and saw Grover the giant clumsily climbing down after the boy.

Jesus moved closer and saw the boy had Grover’s prized golden harp. The boy reached the bottom and grabbed an axe, and started chopping at the beanstalk.

“No,” Jesus said.

With the extra weight of Grover weakening the beanstalk, the boy was able to chop it apart with only a few swings. Grover fell from the beanstalk into a shallow part of the lake. With a large crack, Grover’s neck snapped. He was dead.

“No,” Jesus said.


The cow’s health was steadily worsening. Grover’s enormous body was polluting the entire lake, from which the townspeople and many animals got their water.

The cow was so sick from drinking the water that it barely moved.

Jesus looked up at the cottage. It was much more magnificent. Two more stories had been added, and some additional buildings had been built as well. There was a large fence that encircled a good acre around the cottage, and a couple shady-looking townsfolk stood by a new wrought-iron gate.

Jesus patted the cow’s head, then left to slowly walk up to the cottage. The two men walked up to meet him.

“Can we help you?” one of them asked.

“Yes, I need to speak with the boy and his mother,” Jesus replied.

“Sorry, they aren’t expecting visitors.”

“I must see them. The water is polluted. The townspeople are getting sick.”

“Go away before you get hurt.” One of the men advanced on Jesus with a short knife.

Jesus walked back down the hill.


It was Sunday morning. The cow lay down on a small makeshift bed of hay by the lake. Its breathing was shallow and pained.

The stench of Grover was horrible. It was so bad that many townspeople had moved away. The ones who had complained had been dealt with by the guards at the cottage. There now numbered over ten guards on the property.

The door to the luxurious cottage opened up and the boy and his mother stepped out. They were both dressed in the finest of clothes. Several guards accompanied them as they reached the edge of their property.

Jesus walked up to them and kneeled down. “Please, my good friends,” Jesus said. “Please. Your cow is dying. The townspeople are sick. Please, can you help your brothers and sisters with fresh water? With medicine? With food?”

The guards moved toward Jesus, but the mother stopped them.

She walked over to Jesus.

“Just who do you think you are, you filthy beggar?” she asked.
“I have to watch my property every day for vagabonds like you stealing water from my well. I sleep with one eye open. I even have to watch my guards to make sure they don’t pinch some of my food.”

“Mom,” the boy said, “we’re going to be late for church.”

“You think it’s easy?” the mother asked. “Take care of your own. I’ll take care of mine. If you come around again I’ll make sure you don’t walk away.”


Jesus walked down to the lakeside. Huge swarms of flies buzzed around Grover’s decaying head.

The cow’s eyes were wide and glazed over. Jesus rested his hand on the cow’s neck. It was dead.

Jesus stood up slowly. He pulled his robes around himself and shrugged.

He walked down the muddy road, disappearing into the morning mist.

And that was the last time anyone ever saw Jesus again.

Steampunk Bar Of Soap

Who here likes Steampunk?

Well, if you like this subculture, I can happily tell you that you’re not alone. The tastemakers at BoingBoing have a special place in their heart for all things steampunk.

So, dear reader, and tastemakers at BoingBoing, this post is for you.

Behold, a steampunk bar of soap — for the turn-of-the-century adventurer who holds cleanliness as a virtue!


  1. Buy a bar of soap (preferably with no label).
  2. Push gold-colored paper fasteners into the soap.
  3. Wet, Lather, Rinse, Repeat!

Oh no! Not YOU again!

          _                         _
         |_|          ___          |_|
         | |         /___\         | |
        _| |_      (| ‘o’ |)      _| |_
      _| | | | _    (_ – _)    _ | | | |_ 
     | | | | |’ |    _| |_    | `| | | | |
     |          |   /     \   |          |
      \        /  / /(. .)\ \  \        /
        \    /  / /  | . |  \ \  \    /
          \  \/ /    ||_||    \ \/  /
           \__/      || ||      \__/
                     () ()
                     || ||
                    ooO Ooo