Movie Stuff

I'm Not Here to Judge: Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus

There are already plenty of movie review sites out there, so I thought I might just dispassionately describe the films I choose to watch, trying to keep my personal opinions to myself. Sort of like a news reporter, only, like I said, I’ll be keeping my personal opinions to myself.

I recently watched the movie Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, a low-budget thriller shot in twelve days in southern California and released straight to home video. Below is a description of the events of the film as I witnessed them; you are left to make your own decision as to the quality of the film.

I’m not here to judge.

Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus begins with some long aerial shots of a snow-capped mountain range, a natural choice for a film that will take place mostly in the ocean.  After the credits, we meet 80’s pop-sensation Debbie “Deborah” Gibson, who is a top scientist in the important and challenging field of Looking At Whales.  While she pilots a research submarine, a military helicopter drops an experimental sonar device into the ocean, which disturbs the whales and causes them to crash into a glacier, freeing a Quite-Large shark and an octopus that is also Abnormally Big.

Back on land, Debbie Gibson, who had stolen the submarine, gets chewed out by her boss, a sunglasses-wearing, gum-chomping hardass who seems to think he’s been cast to play a jaded homicide detective instead of a marine biologist.  They examine the corpse of a beached whale that has a huge bite out of it, though Detective Scientist claims the whale died from some sort of boating accident.  Debbie Gibson, suspecting otherwise, sneaks back later to extract a large pointy tooth from the carcass.

Meanwhile, on a commercial airliner, a stewardess walks down the aisle individually asking each and every passenger to put their seat-backs up.  The plane experiences some light turbulence, causing a male passenger to leap from his seat and announce that he’s getting married in two days.  After the stewardess calms him, he glances out the window in time to see Mega Shark leaping thousands of feet into the air and biting the plane to death.

This is your captain speaking. We're flying at 35,000 feet, and in a few minutes, those of you on the right side of the plane will be able to look out your window for a nice view of the digestive tract of an enormous prehistoric shark.

Debbie Gibson gets in touch with her former professor of paleontology, an irascible Irishman named Lamar. Lamar and Debbie Gibson try to determine what the large tooth-like object that looks like a tooth is, and after pouring Hawaiian Punch from one beaker to another and analyzing the results, they eventually realize that the tooth is a tooth. Lamar quickly jumps to the conclusion that the tooth belongs to a Megalodon, a prehistoric shark.

A Japanese scientist, Dr. Shimada, asks for help with Giant Octopus, who attacked an offshore oil platform while two workers were discussing whether or not it’s acceptable to urinate on co-workers.  Shimada also reveals that Lamar was kicked out of the Navy for crashing a nuclear submarine in order to avoid hitting a dolphin.  It is not explained how Lamar saw the dolphin from inside the submarine, or why the dolphin was floating motionless and unable to get out of the way, or why the Navy let an Irishman drive a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine in the first place.

The film then presents an important environmental message as Debbie Gibson announces that we deserve to have our passenger jets and oil platforms eaten by monsters because we’re letting the polar ice caps melt.  As if to prove this point, Mega Shark then eats a Navy destroyer.

Debbie Gibson, Lamar, and Shimada are taken to meet Lorenzo Lamas, who is one of the few top-ranking government agents allowed to have a ponytail, and who describes Mega Shark and Octopus as a “menace”, as if they were some foul-mouthed teenage skateboarders rather than creatures responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.  He also demonstrates an amazing skill: the ability to pick up any nearby phone and instantly be able to yell at the specific person he wants to yell at, be it a jet pilot, boat captain, or someone in a submarine, without having to actually push any buttons or ask someone to connect him.  He can just automatically connect through rage.

The scientists do some science, pouring various flavors of fruit juice into different-sized beakers, looking at the beakers, and shaking their heads because the juice is apparently not cooperating. Science is hard!

Exhausted from a day spent looking skeptically at juice, Lamar sleeps while Debbie Gibson and Shimada compare stories about why they became whatever kinds of scientists they are supposed to be.  Shimada explains he was a fisherman until he witnessed the tragic death of a dolphin caught in one of his nets, which convinced him to go into the field of beaker-related science.  His description of the agonizing demise of the helpless dolphin naturally arouses Debbie Gibson, and they have sex.

Afterward, Shimada starts sniffing Debbie Gibson, which doesn’t creep her out but instead gives her the idea of using pheromones to lure Mega Shark and Giant Octopus to shallow waters in hopes of trapping them.  Energized, they scientifically pour more fruit punch into beakers until the formula glows bright green, which indicates they’ve invented either Mountain Dew or the perfect substance to make giant prehistoric sea creatures horny.

Alas, things go awry. Giant Octopus swats a fighter jet out of the sky as it attempts to locate him.  Mega Shark becomes a nuisance as well, sinking another battleship and eating the Golden Gate Bridge, which was crowded with traffic due to no one bothering to tell the citizens of San Francisco that a five-hundred foot prehistoric shark was being lured into their city and they might want to stay away from the water.

The direct result of you refusing to switch to energy-saving light bulbs.

Since the plan to trap Mega Shark and Giant Octopus failed, Lorenzo Lamas wants to nuke the monsters, but Debbie Gibson has the idea of tricking the shark and octopus into attacking each other instead.  While luring the beasts together, Giant Octopus destroys an entire fleet of submarines by whapping them with his tentacles. “All five ships… destroyed by Octopus…” a submarine officer reports sadly.

Mega Shark starts chasing the last submarine, and after the submarine driver pulls a gun on everyone (don’t ask), Lamar knocks him unconscious and steers the submarine to safety, redeeming himself in the eyes of the Navy.  Mega Shark and Giant Octopus finally do battle, with Giant Octopus repeatedly wrapping his tentacles around Mega Shark because that’s apparently the only shot of the titular battle the filmmakers produced.  Eventually, both creatures die and sink into the deep, their deaths probably less a result of the fight than from trying to digest several thousand tons of boat and airplane wreckage.

Our heroes, clearly transfixed by the climactic battle. Or possibly thinking the camera wasn't rolling. Hard to say.

In the end, Shimada decides he’d like to continue living in the United States so he can keep sniffing Debbie Gibson. Lamar shows up and they all happily and excitedly run off to investigate some new monster stuck in ice somewhere, because it was so much fun the first time what with the thousands of people dying and the billions of dollars of damage.  The end.

Life Stuff

The Quitter, Part 1

I discovered something disturbing the other day. Cigarettes are apparently bad for you! I can’t believe no one ever thought to mention this to me.

So, this weekend, after roughly twenty years, cigarettes and I will part ways.  I’ve tried to quit before, generally with no success, save the time I quit for about eighteen months a few years back. With each failed attempt, however, I’ve learned a little something to bring with me to my next attempt, and I’m fairly optimistic that this time will be the final time.  With a bold new plan in place, I think I will kick them for good.

This will be a cold-turkey approach, which I think is the only way to do it. I tried the patch once, which didn’t work. Having a patch stuck to me all day irritated my skin, gave me bad dreams, and was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t forget it was there, which meant I was constantly thinking about the patch and thus constantly thinking about not smoking and thus constantly wanting to smoke.

I tried the nicotine gum, which sounded good: chewing on something keeps your mouth busy all day. While I’m sure I’ll be chewing gum during this attempt, it won’t be nicotine gum, because you don’t just pop in a piece of nicotine gum and chew away to your heart’s content. There are rules.

You have to chew the gum a certain number of times, then park it between your teeth and your cheek for a certain amount of time, then chew it a certain number of times again. Keeping track of each piece, how many chews I’ve given it, how long it’s been parked in my cheek… it’s all very scheduled and precise instead of the mindless chomping I need. The last thing I want to do is spend all day thinking about how I’m quitting smoking. It’s the same problem as the patch.

So, I’m flying solo: no prescription drugs, no crutches, just stopping using the following plan, which I call my Three P plan.

The three P’s of quitting:

Procrastination: This is the keystone of my methodology. I will use my natural procrastination to help me quit smoking by never actually quitting, just delaying my next cigarette indefinitely.

See, I hate bumming smokes off people. I hate it. I think it’s rude and I’m always annoyed when someone does it to me. It’s like going up to a stranger in a restaurant and asking for a bite of their steak. With my anti-bumming policy, the only way I can smoke is if I go buy my own.

Something else I hate doing is literally everything else. If there’s one thing I love to do, it’s nothing. Putting things off is second-nature to me, so why can’t I just put off buying cigarettes? Forever!

Anytime I feeling like I really need to smoke, and find myself thinking about buying smokes, I’ll just tell myself: “Okay, fine, but not right now. Put it off until later.” When later comes around, I’ll put it off again. And again. This practice of procrastination has kept me from going to the dentist and learning Javascript for years; I don’t see why smoking should be any different. I’ve trained myself for years to be lazy and unmotivated, and now it’s finally going to pay off. In lung dollars!

Punishment: Of course, there are times when my need for nicotine will overpower me. When my brain will be all but demanding that I have a cigarette. When I might be in such dire straits that I actually consider asking someone for one. This is where I will have to retrain my brain.

The plan is, when my brain decides it absolutely needs nicotine, I will give it something else: push-ups! Every time my brain tells me it wants and needs a smoke, I will instead drop to the floor and give it the agony of doing as many push-ups as I can (granted, this is not very many, but I’m sure dropping to the floor and doing push-ups a couple dozen times a day will increase the amount of push-ups I can do). I’m hoping that my brain will eventually realize that asking for nicotine equals getting a lot of pain instead, and will eventually stop asking. Hopefully not too quickly, though, I’d like some well-sculpted biceps and triceps to go along with my new well-sculpted lungs.

Sunflower seeds: Okay, this doesn’t start with a P, but it’s the third prong of my attack, and the Two P and One S plan isn’t very catchy.

I’m not simply addicted to nicotine but the ritual of smoking itself; doing something with my hands and mouth. And what better way to kick the disgusting habit of smoking than by picking up the disgusting habit of crunching on and spitting out sunflower seed shells? It’s gonna be a real pleasure to be around me for the next couple months.

One of the places I always feel like I need to smoke is while driving to and from work. In my half-hour commute I usually have three or four cigarettes each way, sometimes more if there’s traffic. Last week, however, I started eating sunflower seeds while driving, and it fills in nicely. Added bonus: cigarettes don’t come in zesty ranch flavor!

Finally, I’ve come up with a way to face the incredibly thorny issue of deciding which cigarette will be my last. Planning a set date and time to quit smoking is a terrible idea, because how can you pick your last cigarette? Knowingly smoking your last cigarette is a sure way to make that last cigarette taste like crap and feel completely ordinary, not the perfect, tasty, wonderful cigarette to end a smoking career with. And I can’t just pick one at random because I have no willpower, which was what got me into this mess in the first place.  That’s probably why I’ve put it off for so long; it never feels like the right time, it never feels like the last one. But at some point, there has to be one.

So, I’m leaving it to fate. Friday night, after work, I’m letting fate decide my last smoke. After every cigarette I have, I’m going to roll a six-sided dice. If 1-5 comes up, I’m not quitting yet. I can have one more.  When 6 comes up, that smoke I just had was the last I’ll ever have. There will be no hemming and hawing, just a decision made by the dice, probably followed by me bursting into tears and unhappily stuffing sunflower seeds into my mouth.

That’s the plan! It goes into effect this Friday night. If you’d like to subscribe to my Twitter feed and keep track of how miserable I am in real time, feel free.

Site Stuff

Site Stuff

I added a tab up top that will take you the old Not My Desk site.  The archives and features are fully viewable through that link: essays and field guide are not, for the moment.  I’m going through and doing some editing, choosing what I’d like to put in my book, and I’ll be reactivating a number of links over the next few weeks. Everything is currently viewable again!

Book Stuff

Not My Desk: The Book(s)!

Welcome to the new Not My Desk blog! It’s March, 2010, which means Not My Desk has been around for a full ten years, which is a pretty long time for something to be on the internet.

In related news, Not My Desk is no longer on the internet. Edit: it’s all back up now.  Click here for the old site.

There’s a reason for this, which clever readers may have gleaned from the title of this post. Finally, at long last, it’s time for what literally tens of people have been waiting for: a chance to pay me for essays that have been free to read for almost an entire decade.

I’m currently working on putting some of the essays from Not My Desk into book form. First, an e-book, which will be available on Amazon Kindle and the Kindle app for the iPod, hopefully by the end of April. Then, somewhere further down the line, possibly this summer, a real honest-to-goodness paper book, also available from Amazon. Note that I don’t have any kind of book deal; this is a self-publishing effort, so my dreams of owning a gold helicopter are still on hold.

What’s the difference between Not My Desk: The Website and Not My Desk: The Book? Excellent question. I’m glad I asked.

Frankly, uh, not much. I’m re-editing the essays, cleaning out the typos, dumping some of the junk, and adding a few all-new, never-before-seen essays to the book. I’ll have more details when I’m closer to having the e-book done next month.

As far as pricing, it’ll probably be between $3-$5 for the Kindle book, and maybe $13-$15 for the paper book, but I won’t know for sure until the books are ready.

But wait, you may be saying. I don’t have any money! Or, I have money, but I don’t want to give you any because I’m horribly selfish! Or, I never read the original essays, so how do I know if I want to buy a whole book of them?

Never fear. For those who can’t afford a book, or don’t want to pay, or have no idea what kind of writer I am, I’ll have some sample chapters up to read for free in the next couple weeks. And as for anything not going into the book, which is most of the archives, I’ll be re-posting all of that eventually as well for people to read for free. If you check the “Book” tab at the top of the page periodically, I’ll add more information as I get closer to publishing.

Also, in the meantime, I’m going to try to start blogging here again. This won’t be anything spectacular, but I’ll fill you in on what I’ve been doing in the past few years, and what I might be doing in the near future. And whatever else I can think of.

Welcome back! And, if you never left, thanks for sticking around.