Reviewing the Evidence on DARK CITY LIGHTS

Over at Reviewing the Evidence, they’ve got a nice review of DARK CITY LIGHTS, and give a nod to my contribution, “The Big Snip.”
The book is now available, and we’re having a book signing on May 7th at The Mysterious Bookshop, with editor Lawrence Block and many others. Come join us for a good time.

You can order it from Amazon, or from your local bookstore.


The Mad Tea Bagger

Here’s a funny short film by cleverscripts, a comedy troupe based in Louisiana and consisting in part of Katie, Firecracker’s roommate. I should call her “Beast” going with the rule of only using nicknames in this blog, and will do so retroactively from here on in. Beast has a small but funny role in this. See their other videos for her Rena Rae film, too.

If you like teabagging, check out John Waters’ movie Pecker, which has a lot of it. Also it bas drag kings, and proves that pubic hair causes crime. A great film.

Spam Musibi and Donkey Balls

Being midway between the U.S. and Japan creates some interesting foodstuffs. Spam musibi is one. Who’da thunka combining all-American mystery meat with the pompous Japanese art of sushistry? Well, after millions of K-rations made it to the islands during World War 2, the pork-loving locals got a taste for Hormel’s gelatinous canned concoction, SPAM. Yes, their trademark suggests you capitalize the entire word, sort of like GWAR! (exclamation point optional).

The Spam is fried (fuck you, Hormel!) and sometimes flavored with teriyaki. It is served hot, preferably from a 7-11 counter for a mere $1.50; two of them make a rather filling meal. If they hid vegetables in there somehow you’d have a perfect meal on the run, since I’m unsure how much nutritional value the thin seaweed wrapper can hold. It’s very tasty, and warm sushi rice molded into a brick is a lot more appealing than it seems. If the thin slice of Spam leaves you wanting, they make double meat versions, too. You owe it to yourself to try this in Hawaii.

Another thing they save for tourists is donkey balls. These are dark chocolate flavor, from a brown donkey, I guess. They’re chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, thankfully.

Playing with my balls again.

If you’re daring enough to delve through dandruff, they have coconut-chocolate ones, called flaky balls.
Like a chocolate jawbreaker, these will make you appreciate the talents of boa constrictors and porn starlets. Once you get past the gag reflex you’re in for a taste explosion that is worth the trouble.

And a cute donkey mascot.

So whenever you’re reminiscing about Chef’s song on South Park and want to put some Salty Chocolate Balls in your mouth, grab a bag of these and a salt shaker, I guess. The chocolate is pretty good, the nuts are nothing to write home about. The wasabi macnuts I got from Hilo Coffee Mill, on the other hand, are incredible. They deliver to the mainland, so if you crave chocolate macadamias, skip the donkey balls and give the Coffee Mill’s a try. Firecracker bought a bag and they’re worth the higher price.

Horseback Riding near North Shore

In Hawaii I was reading Mark Twain’s Letters from Hawaii, a collection of letters he wrote for a newspaper when he visited the islands in the 1860’s, before he became famous. In the book he goes on about his horse Oahu, a horrible creature that gave him a fearsome case of saddle sores that made him bedridden for a week.

That’s how I felt after Firecracker and I went horseback riding at Gunstock Ranch near the North Shore. We were already sunburned from snorkeling in Waimea Bay, and earlier that day we climbed Diamond Head crater in Waikiki. My horse was named Rhett, which made me Scarlett, and he carried me upstairs and had his way with me. My balls played that saddle like it was a timpani.

Our guide was a gal named Jamie from West Virginia. Like all West Virginians she was friendlier than you could imagine. We rode for about 2 hours, and she was a wellspring of information about the local foliage and environment. For example these are century plants, so named because they are planted in front of Century 21 realty agencies.

Rhett reminded me of myself. He was stubborn and slow, but good-natured as long as he got to stop and eat every few minutes. He was also impatient, and kept trying to muscle Sarah’s horse aside to jockey forward. If he hung back too long whilst munching on grass, he’d trot to catch up, playing a timpani serenade on the back of the saddle with my scrotum. He also liked to trot uphill.

“Stand up in the saddle,” the gals said. That just gave my nutsack more distance to drop and hit the unforgiving leather of the seat. “Roll with it,” they called. I tried, looking like Yosemite Sam bouncing on his ornery burro. “Whoa mule! WHOA!”

We stopped for a brief interlude atop a crest for photos. As you can see, Rhett wouldn’t pose for the photo when there was grass to be eaten.

For your entertainment, I took some video of our ride. The second one is mostly Cloverfield on horseback with me a-hootin’ and a-hollerin’ trying to hang on for dear life, but the first one isn’t so bad.

Rhett trying to kill me.
For 2 hours in the sun with a sunburn it was a lovely ride. I even managed to dismount, or as I put it, “park my horse” by the steps and get off without stumbling. I noticed Rhett was a gelding, and all became clear. He was jealous, and wanted to geld me too.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Sometime in the mid-80’s, we lost the concept of the Gratuitous Breast. I blame Reagan. Oddly enough, the Clinton years didn’t bring a resurgence to their vivacious jigglitude, and now in the Noughts we have been given the Gratuitous Penis instead. And all I have to say is, girls, enjoy it while it lasts. Borat gave us a hairy and frightening display, and then in Walk Hard we had a bunch of eye-level wangs to contend with, for laughs I assume. At that point Judd Apatow claimed that every future project would have a dangling dingus, and in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, it’s in the opening scene.

Slap-happy Segel

In this hilarious comedy written by Jason Segel, he also stars as the Peter, boyfriend of a TV star on a CSI-alike show called Crime Scene (Kristen Bell). Well, not for long; he’s the composer for the show, and his days mostly consist of sitting in front of the boob tube in sweatpants eating Froot Loops from a huge bowl. She calls because she’s coming home early, and he rushes to clean up and shower, and gets the break-up news shortly after giving his girlfriend that favorite of male greetings, the weenie-wagging towel flash.

The hard to forget Sarah Marshall

Seeing a big soft freckled doofus cry naked is a lot funnier than it sounds, and they get a lot of mileage out of it. He does the requisite moping in his apartment, and then goes out with his acerbic stepbrother (the hilarious Bill Hader) to try to fuck the ex out of his system. Nothing is working, and he sees her face platered over billboards and tabloid shows, with her new boyfriend the British pop singer Aldous (Russell Brand). So he decides to go to Hawaii; he was supposed to go there with her someday, but he figures the vacation will do him good.

Except lo and behold, she’s there with her new boy toy, in the same hotel no less. Despite this bit of convenience, the film is very well written and pretty consistently hilarious. Compared with other Apatow productions, I’d put it below Superbad and Knocked Up, but on par or above 40 Year Old Virgin, and miles above Walk Hard, which I didn’t enjoy much. The film runs on character-based humor, and boy does it have characters.

Hard to believe this is Meg

Mila Kunis plays Rachel, a sympathetic employee at the hotel who befriends Peter and becomes his new romantic interest, if you can’t figure that out from the moment she appears on-screen. She shows she can do a lot more than Meg’s voice on Family Guy. She’s great and funny, especially when she takes him cliff diving and yells “I think I can see your vagina!” when he hesitates. Other Apatow regulars like Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd appear, with Jonah playing low-key as a fan of Aldous, and Rudd utterly hilarious as Chuck the surf instructor whose brains have long been cooked in a drug-induced luau. A hefty black bartender played by Davon McDonald is surprisingly funny, and this newcomer should definitely be getting more parts. Taylor Wily is another helpful Hawaiian named Kemo, with lovely lines such as “are those sad tissues or happy tissues?”

Jonah Hill’s trademark is liking cock

Steve Landesberg from Barney Miller has a small part, and even Branscombe Richmond- from that forgotten 70’s flick I reviewed, The Chicken Chronicles– shows up. Jason Segel is pretty damn funny by himself, looking like a confused, lumpy Brendan Fraser most of the time. Kristen Bell wisely plays Sarah Marshall as a real person and not a movie uber-bitch; Russell Brand is a riot as the brain-dead Brit pop sensation, too. The film lacks that Douche Character that Hollywood formula has come to depend upon; Aldous may be the closest, but he’s still a likeable Lothario.


Peter is more than a whiny lovelorn goof, and that’s important to making the film as enjoyable as it is. It goes places you’d never expect, and pretty deftly. Nicholas Stoller does a great job as first-time director, leaving plenty to our imaginations when required, though not when Jason’s junk is concerned. I hope someday we can have equality in the area of Gratuitous Nudity. Mr. Wiggles is inherently funny in many situations, while bouncing boobs have rarely been used for such effect. I think there’s comedy gold to be mined there, and I look forward to the day it is found.

This is another fine entry in the “male rom-com” that Apatow practically invented, and I recommend it highly. Firecracker loved it as well- maybe a bit less, since it’s certainly guy-oriented. It’s probably not the best date movie, though both guys and girls get their fair share of slamming, so it could work. You might have an unwelcome conversation about what “counts,” though. Oh, and make sure you stay for the credits, there’s an extra scene about 30 seconds in.

Weird Japan: Pom Poko, or the Tanuki Testicles

“We’ve got the biggest balls of them all.” – Bon Scott, AC/DC
Sorry, Bon. These raccoons have got you and Angus beat.

My friend and cohort Johnny wanted to see the classic animated film Pom Poko after seeing a video mashup with footage from it, and the classic rock song “Big Balls” by AC/DC. Now why would a children’s movie, one released in the U.S. by Disney no less, fit with a song filled with such double entendre? Permit me to demonstrate.

The clip that gave Johnny the girly-giggles.

Tanuki look like raccoons, but they are technically called raccoon dogs and live in Japan and Siberia.

This is what they look like. Note: no gigantic balls.

According to the wikipedia, tanuki have “unusually large testicles, a feature that has inspired humorous exaggeration in artistic depictions of the creature. Tanuki may be shown with their testicles flung over their backs like travellers’ packs, or using them as drums.” Maybe the tail is hiding something, but I don’t see any signs of elephantiasis. Then again, in Japan maybe they have a different idea of what big balls are. We’re all “Big” in Japan if you know what I mean.

When I went to Japan, I saw this statue of a tanuki outside of a restaurant, where they bring good luck and prosperity. Sort of like how every Chinese restaurant has red and some 8’s somewhere. It’s like the hidden Superman in every Seinfeld episode, look for it.
Look how cute! Then look more carefully. Keep looking. What the hell? Does that thing have wangmeat? Why yes it does. Hmm, how come it doesn’t have any legs? Mother of God. Its BALLS are covering its feet. Do I want to eat at this establishment? What if they serve me giant raccoon balls?

Nothing is funnier than Engrish.

Blob? Okay if big balls make you lucky with money, Italians would be winning the Powerball (pun definitely intended) instead of toothless trailer trash. Trust me. They need to make bigger pants for us. I just had mine let out so the boys could have some room. I may invest in a kilt. But enough about my balls, or as I like to call them, Mutt and Jeff.

The movie itself is actually very cute, and is about a group of raccoons living near the city during a housing boom. Their habitat will soon become condos. If Ralph Bakshi made this movie, they’d be crows, if you remember Fritz the Cat and its caricatures. “Sheee-itt! I hate this genchrication!” But enough gratuitous racism, back to the story. It’s a simple story. The raccoons fight the construction workers and the businessmen. They learn how to transform into people, which animals have always been able to do in Japanese folklore. The film jokes that all the fat Japanese who eat lots of candy and energy drinks are actually tanuki in disguise. Which made Johnny call me Tom Poko. So I hit him with my balls.

When tanuki party, they go balls out.

The do everything to harry and foil the construction crew except light a bag of poop on fire and ring the doorbell, which believe me, would fit right in to this movie. They enlist the help of the Tanuki Elders whose balls are the size of large trampolines, and one of them looks like Wilford Brimley.

Do you have the Diabetus?

The elders try to scare the humans away with a parade of creepy spirits running through town, but everyone enjoys it, and thinks it was put on by the local amusement park. See, we’re all so enthralled with our new-fangled technology that we can’t recognize the magic of nature and the spirits of the past! Apparently the raccoons were stoners, which makes sense because they sit around eating all day with their balls out for easy scratching.

More proof that tanuki are stoners.
Freaky-Ass Shit.
Bad trip, man.

This does exactly jack shit to stop the construction, as you can imagine. It becomes time for the Final Countdown, the big battle. Some want peace, others want war, and some of us want the animals to WEAR SOME FUCKING PANTS. Either way, we lose.
The war faction ready their balls for battle, and the peaceful ones actually hug the fucking trees.

There’s a joke here somewhere.

But you came to see flying raccoons with biggie-size nutsacks, and I will not disappoint. I warn you, the nature of the next images is extremely graphic. Well duh, they’re graphics. I never understood that stupid TV warning. Images are graphic. So let me say that the images are of a Nutley nature.

How to Attack With Your Balls

1. Get blue balls.
2. First you stretch your scrotum into a trampoline.
3. Have your friends jump on your scrotrampoline and become airborne.
4. Shock & Awe Paratroopers inflate ballsack (not Balzac, that’s a French author)
5. Use your scrote as a parachute and glide toward enemy targets. Yes, really.
6. Kick yourself in the nuts until you look like you’re riding a Space Hopper Ball.
7. Land with great fury!
Let’s take a short break to remember Space Hopper balls or Hippity Hoppers.

8. Swing your balls like a sack full of doorknobs.
9. Or just smother the riot police with your mighty scrote.
10. Don’t let the cops hit your nuts with their batons.
Note the veins. Sticklers for details, those fellows over at Ghibli studios. Yes, this was made by the same folks who did Princess Mononucleosis and Howl’s Moving Castle. It’s actually a quite funny and beautifully animated story that will make children think about nature, and probably get rabies from a raccoon. Just imagine the playfights they’ll get into using beanbag chairs. I can’t wait to have kids and mess their heads up with this stuff.

Proof that this nuttiness is nothing new.

In the end, the raccoon dogs learn to live alongside the city in smaller numbers, stealing from garbage cans and not assaulting people with their testicles unless the sanctity of their home is threatened. A delightful film to scar children with or laugh yourself silly with, once properly inebriated. 3 stars or 2 giant tanuki balls.

Are you done swinging your nuts around?