Monday, April 27, 2009

Bea Arthur In The Cantina

This clip was described on AV Club as " a hypnotic, nightmarish trainwreck of surreal juxtapositions."

Yeah, that's it. If you ever get a chance to watch the Star Wars Special, make peace with yourself, get a good psychiatrist, and have at it. You'll regret it greatly.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Blogging Is A Pimpconstruct Viriplan

I really enjoy writing my blog. It's for me, mostly, just to gather my thoughts and express things that I have trouble getting across to a room full of toddlers. Which, if you've ever tried to communicate with toddlers, is most things.

(Ryan: I'm feeling a little nervous about my business plan, given the economic downturn. Toddler: Green!)

I don't really know who reads it, beyond my immediate friends and family who talk to me about it. I have a good number of hits, though, from random places. People find it, and read a little. That's fun, and a bonus of the project for me. The search queries, though... they concern me.

Last month I got a few for "spankings all around." In quotes, just like that. I imagine the person who found my ramblings was very disappointed. I'm going to post pictures of teenage girls being spanked, to prevent further frustration. Wait, no I'm not.

The best ever is "pimpconstruct." First of all, how did that get to my site? Did I post plans about diagrams for building a better pimp? I don't drink, so late night drunken posts are ruled right out. I'm pretty forgetful, sure, but if I had the secret to constructing pimps, I think I'd recall.

I get a lot of hits for "Viri," of course, which makes sense. Family and friends search him when they can't recall my exact address. And ryanbeggar is a stupid address, so I understand. But it is coupled with strange words. I have quite a few for "Sir Viri," as though he was knighted. There have been several for "viriplan," which troubles me. Does he have a secret pact with other toddlers to take over the world?

(They don't. I asked another toddler, and he said "Green!")

The internet is a strange and disturbing place. I think I'm going to back slowly away, and sit in the corner with a cup of tea. Perhaps I'll construct a pimp, perhaps not. I certainly won't write about it. That would screw up the Viriplan.

Friday, April 24, 2009

On A Lighter Note

"We might get gay married today!"
This makes me love this country; Don't hate the haters, mock them!

April 24th, 1959

My mother would have been 50 today. It's really strange when a parent dies young, because you slowly come up on the date when you are the same age. My mother and I were only 17 years apart, and that gap is closing slowly. I've been watching the Mother's Day ads, thinking of her, and us, and our family. I'm not as depressed as I would have imagined, because I am too much her son. I see the good in everything, and I see the joy in life. I can get upset about it, but then I think of all the great times we had, how involved and fun she was as a mom, and I smile. She left me with too much love to dwell on the pain.

Most of my friends still have their parents. Some have great relationships, some do not. I encourage everyone to at least be civil. You'll miss the connection, when it's gone. It was easier for me, because I did have a great mother, who loved me and my siblings deeply. She called us to tell us that frequently. Someone like that leaves a place that aches with loss. They also leave a place that is filled with love.

There is a way to see the good in situations. That is the amazing lesson I learned from Mom. I remember the joy she took in us, in her life, in little things. I can't keep from smiling hearing reference to the Andy Griffith Show, remembering her joy in watching it. We used to hate it, and tease her about it. We teased her a lot, because that kind of freedom is not easily appreciated. She was emotional and enthusiastic, and spread that to everyone who knew her. I'm not going to be embarrassed ever again about being the excited, joyful person she taught me to be. It is who I am, who she allowed me to be.

Happy 50th, Mama. You loved with all your heart, and now you've returned to the heart of Love where you belong. We were blessed to have experienced your joy for life.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Will Be Victorious!

Like eighty-four percent of all husbands everywhere since the late 19th century invention of the motorcycle, I am engaged in a constant battle to win my wife over in regards to riding. I imagine the first Germans to buy the motorcycles were arguing in dry, Teutonic ways about how they wouldn't kill themselves and would always wear helmets. I'm not winning the battle, of course. I hung up the Mission Accomplished banner over the house, still. But I know I'm at a stalemate.

I'm at a severe disadvantage for two reasons. One, Jaime is a doctor, and knows numbers and statistics about head trauma. Two, I am basically a stay at home papa, and I'm needed to watch children. They are difficult enough with working limbs, in traction I think they would be walking on me and laughing. Both are reasonable enough, though I have a perfect and concise argument that would win over any reasonable person: motorcycles are awesome. Seriously, they are really, really great. You totally would not believe how great until you ride one for a bit. Trust me.

This argument is failing. I will succeed, I have no doubt. I will succeed because I have very little to do but hang out with the kids and send J emails about how great motorcycles are, and eventually she will want to focus on her patients and get me to shut up. This has stereotypically been a female effort, but guys, don't be slighted. We can whine too. If it makes you feel better, come up with a manly term for it. (I tried. Unfortunately I couldn't get 'teabagging' out of my head, which is something else entirely.)

I will also succeed because, honestly, once the kids are in school I'm expendable. She'll take out an insurance policy then give me the keys. If I hear, "Oh don't worry about the helmet, honey. It isn't that rainy. Are you sure you don't want to take up drinking now?" I'll know that she's out to get me.

But, I'll have a motorcycle, and I won't care.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tonight On Skeptical Baby: The Baseball Game

So, the big lesson for the day is 'one year old girls and baseball are oil and water.' Write that down, it will help you greatly.

We had a rough time at the Mariner's game today. Viri was a little fussy, but not bad. Arkaedi Sue was a demon. Not a demon on wheels, thankfully, but a toddling demon in a green dress. As we were leaving, Jaime said, "Papa is going to the game with his friends next time. We'll try again next year."

I'll probably take Viri to my May game, though. He's pretty good at these things, without a grabbing and screaming girl trying to jump onto the field. I warned her, but she's beginning the long tradition of ignoring Papa until she needs money or food. Until next season, baseball is for Papa and his friends, and possibly for a good Viri, just because he looks so great at the park.

We still faired better than the Ms, who lost 8-2 to the Tigers. They're still leading the AL West, so no worries.

Arkaedi Sue is a funny kid, because she's so easy in some ways, but she does not sit still. Viri is pretty laid back. He plays, he needs a lot of attention, but he can be quiet and calm. At her age, he would sit through an entire game without a problem. Arkaedi runs and screams and tries to leap to her death fifty times an inning; but if we stay home for an entire day she just runs laps around the couch and laughs and sings. It's strange. I'm glad my kids are different, of course. I love their distinctiveness. I wasn't aware it was possible to have a matter and an anti-matter version of siblings, however. Live and learn.

The funniest aspect of it is her skepticism. She often gets this look, a "I'm not doing that" look that we have termed skeptical baby. She's destined to be the serious and athletic FBI agent partner to her sensitive and thoughtful brother, I suppose.

Hey I should pitch that as a series. "Arkaedi and Taviri, they're cops. She's the olympian with a no nonsense attitude who shoots first and asks questions never! He's the Harvard PhD who has a heart of gold! See them Thursdays on FX in 'Red and the Doctor!'"

Or maybe, "Two Barkers With Bite!"

Those are terrible names. Now you see why I don't regularly pitch TV shows to networks.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Waiting For Jaime: The Parenting Chapter

My longest running joke is that I'm always waiting for Jaime. It's funny because it's true, in a sense. It's also funny because it distorts the reality of the situation. I'm always waiting for J because I don't have any interest in anything else. I occupy my time, I have fun. But except for J and my kids, I'm not really enthusiastic for anything else.

I like caring for kids, I enjoy acupuncture. I like a lot of things, really. They can all go away, however, without me being terribly concerned. If J told me tomorrow, okay, this is the deal, you need to do X, I would do X. My life has been about defining moments until I can be there for Jaime. I have a lot of freedom, certainly, and I used that. But even my wildest exploits have been related to Jaime, and made real for me through her. Even my secrets, silly as they are, are stories that are waiting for Jaime. And I have no real secrets; I'm not that kind of person.

I can't decide where I want to live, because I don't really care. I have opinions, of course, and I have things I would like. I'd like good vegan food, decent coffee, mountains and sea. But once again if J said we need to move to X, then I would be fine moving. On a scale of one to ten, J's needs are a ten and everything else except my kids are a two.

I was worried about this for the longest time. I tried to throw myself into projects to really find myself. I think it was when Arkaedi Sue was born(gratuitous Pretty picture!) that I finally accepted this. I wanted to be with Jaime, and marry her. I did that. Now, I'm enjoying the world, enjoying my life. I do my zekr and play with my kids. I'm happy. I don't need anything else.

Sure, if you want to send me a new Harley, or season tickets to the Mariners, I'll take them. I'll enjoy them. But I'll ride home from the game to see my family.

(By the way, do send those things. I'll pay postage.)

I don't think people see life the way that I do in this regard. Honestly, I'd bet many people reading this think I'm insane, or boring, or both. I tried to see the world differently for quite a few years. I can't. I think, at the risk of sinking ever deeper into cliche, that we come to terms with our nature at some point if we wish to really function in the world as people. I came to terms with it. I was a born husband. In a different world I'd be the one sitting by the door, drinking tea, serving as bodyguard to my priestess while she tends to her flock. Wait, no that's this world. That's now.

(For the record, I am both insane and boring. I am one of few who have accomplished this, another being Oliver Stone.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

It's A Tough Thing To Swallow

This video is from ESPN's coverage of the death of a young Angel's pitcher, Nick Adenhart. He was killed when a drunk driver smashed into his car.

It isn't like me to get really upset over people I don't know. I tend to be pretty emotional, and it's one of the reasons I typically avoid these stories. When I hear something like this, I feel it deeply. I think about it. I can usually forget about it after a while. For some reason, the death of this kid has been on my mind since it happened. I can't seem to forget it. I've watched this video a dozen times, and that just isn't like me at all.

A person commented on my earlier post about sports with blood and violence. I asked J why she thought I didn't like those sports, and she had an interesting response. She said when I see people get hurt, I feel it. When I see blood I taste blood, and I feel the pain. I wouldn't have had a response, but I think she's right. She's known me for seventeen years, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. But she nailed that one. I don't have filters. Most things that happen to me happen intensely, and without a barrier. I need to stay away from violence for that reason. Every punch is a punch at me, in a sense.

This story still resonates with me, though, even beyond that. I think a part of it is the tragedy of a young death, and parallels to my mother's young death. A large part of it is the involvement of alcohol in the accident. (WARNING: MINI RANT) It's no secret to anyone who knows me my feelings about alcohol. I think it causes countless problems and pain for people, and the fact that we worship it in this country is disgusting. It's awful that someone previously convicted of drunk driving is out there killing people.

That said, I feel for the kid who did this as well. It was a stupid mistake, that he could spend fifty years of his life in jail for making. That's not good either. I don't want this kid to lose his life as well. I don't think I'd trust him out of jail, though, at this point. So what do you do?

Maybe that's the reason this won't go away for me. It is a losing situation, and everyone comes out hurt. I don't believe in losing situations, and I want an answer that works. When there isn't one, I can't stand it.

I still want the Mariner's to beat the Angels to the AL West title. But I'll be a little less upset now if they don't. At least that way I can imagine this tragedy had an answer for someone.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Captain Train and the Falls

We had a dual purpose trip this week. We needed to kill time in the foothills east of Seattle while J was on shift at a senior's center and occupy the children. Thanks to the help of Herc and Sarah, we did it! And how, you ask reasonably, did we do it? Waterfalls and trains is the answer! These pictures come courtesy of Herc and Sarah themselves. I didn't think to bring my camera, which is odd for me.

(I hate that bumper sticker that says war is not the answer. I don't like war, but if the question is "What do you call it when two countries send soldiers to attack each other?" then war is the answer. Just say you hate war.)

I had never been to Snoqualmie Falls before this week. It's strange, considering I lived on eastside for a bit, but I haven't been to most places east of Seattle. It's a shame too, because the place is really neat. I loved the little towns around it. J says I can't live anywhere further than ten blocks from a restaurant and coffee shop, but that isn't exactly true. It can be up to a ten minute drive to either, and I can maybe tolerate it. Possibly. I would cry silently at the trees sometimes. Okay, I am a city person, but I can see myself having a nice life in a small town. I'd need to drive into the city on the weekend on eat Thai food and read the NY Times, but I could do it. For a lovely place with trains and falls, I could try.

The train museum was really interesting. I had tired and fussy kids, so I had to leave a little early. I definitely want to go back and let Viri ride the trains. He'd be insanely happy. Arkaedi Sue seemed pretty excited too, since she is getting at the age where she wants to be involved. I'm having a hard time remembering that she is not a baby. I'll be having that problem until I die, I imagine.

J swears this is where we're living in a few years, so I am preparing myself. I get nervous in the country. I remember, in WV, always feeling a little nervous about the people around me. I would think to myself, "Why is that man in the John Deere hat just standing there? What is he doing? Where is he going?" I was pretty nervous for a large chunk of my youth. Then, I get to the city, and it goes away. I have no idea what people are doing around me, and I don't care. They're just city people, doing city things. They could be selling crack or planning a murder spree, but they don't make me nervous. The country, with the open spaces, the distance between people... something about it gets to me.

I'm going to need to work on it. J says our next house will have a creek running through it. I'm going to ask the condo developers downtown if they have a creek, but I doubt it. Maybe she'll settle for a rooftop garden?

I doubt it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dr. Seuss: Insane Or Evil?

As someone with small children and someone who works with children, I read a lot of Dr. Seuss. I remember enjoying the books as a kid, and I got a bunch for my kids, thinking they would be fun. It was a bad call. I now dread the appearance of any of these books. Just seeing Viri with a stack of them sends shivers down my spine. Most other children's books I can tolerate. Some I even actively enjoy. But these are evil and wrong.

There are two particular ones that I hate reading. Perversely, they are Viri's favorites. (I think Arkaedi Sue is with me, she runs away when I start reading.) They are the well known tome of darkness The Cat in the Hat, and the lesser known Ten Apples Up on Top. Ten Apples is widely believed by scientists to have created a hatred of math in all children everywhere. Even those who have never heard of the book, interestingly enough.

The Cat in the Hat is often talked about as being an odd choice for a child's story. The home invasion of a feline as the basis for whimsy? Really? Several times during the story he reassures the kids that he is not bad. Now, much like a man who tells you how "into" him a woman was, anyone who says they aren't bad several times upon first meeting you is really, really bad. He is likely twisted and evil, and will be wearing another person's skin before the tale is told. Or, a cat skin, in this case.

After coming in and wrecking the place, and ignoring the sensible advice of the fish, he introduces two strange and frightening clown monsters to the kids. Called "Things," which is ominous enough. Even as a kid this bothered me. What are they really? Why do they not have names? Are they horrible Lovecraftian beasts that cannot be named? Please make them stop flying the kites.

Seriously why do they never listen to the fish? You just know the kids, under the influence of the hellcat, start tormenting the fish more and more. I hope the fish escapes the house and gets to a river before the awful kids sacrifice him or torture him. We know, of course, that like Jason and Freddy in other horror stories, the Cat in the Hat comes back.

Ten Apples Up on Top is less creepy, but there is one part that really bothers me. When the animals finally reach their goal of ten apples on their heads (Seriously boring day, I guess) a bear and various evil bear children start trying to kill them. They chase after the apple balancers with brooms and tennis rackets, threatening to knock the apples off. This is never explained. It even bothers my three year old, so someone must have noticed it before me. ("Why are the bears mean, Papa? Even the Mama Bear?")

They succeed, sadly. They knock the apples off of their heads. Then, on the last page, they all start talking about how much fun it is to balance apples on their heads! Too little too late, hate mongers! When I'm pouring out a forty for my homies, I like to balance an apple or two on my head as well. To keep it real for those who stood against the bear haters.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Repair These Losses, And Be A Blessing

The only things I loved at age eight and still love at age thirty two are my family and baseball. Today was Opening Day, and I was extremely excited. Appropriately, I spent the day playing with my kids. But the ipod touch was tuned to various games, and I got to hear a good bit of the action. I got to hear the Yankees lose and Ken Griffey Jr. hit a home run as a Mariner, tying an Opening Day record for the most all time. Just moments ago, the Mariners beat the Twins to open the season. It's going to be a great spring.

I like sport. I like the concept of sport. I like people using their talents, physical and mental, to achieve a goal. I like the physicality that doesn't require violence. I think the sports a person likes, or doesn't like, say a lot about them. My favorite is far and away baseball, because of the symmetry and flow of the game. It is both mathematically sublime and well paced. It is the perfect game. I also enjoy football, our national martial sport. I like the planning and the physicality. Soccer is nice too, because of the athleticism of the players. I wish it had a stronger strategic element, but I enjoy it.

Nothing beats baseball for me, however. It's beautiful and orderly, with a combination of one on one challenge and teamwork. I love how the numbers can lay out the game so clearly. You can't express any other sport in math as well as baseball. Math is the language of the universe and baseball, and that never fails to please me. Even the odd numbers make me happy. I can get a little pick me up by remembering that the mound is sixty feet and six inches from home plate. Why the six inches? I don't know. But it's perfect.

The history of the game is wonderful. You can look up the statistics of teams from the civil war era and compare them to the 2008 teams. That's a big chunk of America's past, and we've been playing ball all that time. Within that history, baseball has sometimes been above and beyond the history, too. Baseball integrated nearly twenty years before African-Americans were allowed to go to white high schools in my home state of West Virginia. It measured the times, and sometimes surged ahead of them. One of the greatest Americans spoke of baseball at the turn of the twentieth century, and who is going to argue with Walt Whitman?

I see great things in baseball.
It's our game-the American game.
It will take our people out of doors, fill them with oxygen,
give them a larger physical stoicism.
Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set.
Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.

There is something amazing about a game where even the best of the best fail seventy percent of the time. It is a natural game, and a balanced game, and no one can rise too far without being humbled. I can replay the clip of the 1995 Mariners win against the Yankees in the ALDS and get teary eyed even today. When there is so much riding on a moment, and such a big chance the big hit won't come, it is wonderful when it does come together. It just continues, as Mariner announcer Dave Niehaus would say:

Right now, the Mariners looking for the tie. They would take a fly ball, they would love a base hit into the gap, and they could win it with Junior's speed. The stretch, and the 0-1 pitch on the way to Edgar Martínez, swung on and lined down the left field line for a base hit! Here comes Joey. Here is Junior to third base, they're going to wave him in, the throw to the plate will be late, the Mariners are going to play for the American League championship! I don't believe it! It just continues! My oh my!

I have such fond memories of playing as a boy. I don't remember the games, really. But I remember the smells, and feel of the dirt, and running around with my friends. I remember the perfect swing that would give me a base hit up the middle. I have learned various meditation techniques in my life, but closing my eyes and imagining a smooth swing still grounds me like almost nothing else. I wonder what some of my darvish brothers and sisters would think if they knew that my zekr was frequently a soundtrack to baseball. They'd think it was awesome, I bet. If they didn't then they don't get baseball.

Much like my spiritual journey, I don't care what happens in the season. Wins are nice, of course, but I just want the game to be played well. I want well executed strategies and trained athletes doing their best. I want to take my son to the game on a warm spring day and show him people who are good at what they do, and do what they love. I want to give him a chance to see that a perfect swing is the clearest and most sublime proof that we live in a beautiful and orderly universe, if we open our eyes to see it.

Play Ball!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Spring Music Bloom

The spring has actually arrived here in Seattle. It's wonderful. There are flowers, the weather is not quite so cold, the rain only dominates most of the day rather than the entire day. Jaime is calmly listening to my pleas for a motorcycle. It's a normal spring. One of the things I like to do to prepare for the mood of the season is change over the music in the car.

This means that Waylon, Willie and the boys get a little less play, and the old punk rock standards peek their heads out and see their shadows. The Vandals, Screeching Weasel, and a host of strange Japanese bands ring in the spring. I can't resist a few bluegrass songs, of course, but spring is a time for fast goofy fun. Something about moving in the warmer weather, with windows down, just calls out for intense and silly music. I resisted Hi-Standard's version of California Dreamin' so everyone should be proud.

I'm ready for the nice weather, certainly. I've had a long winter, with illness and stress. Today, we walked around Green Lake and soaked up the sun. Not coincidentally, I felt better today than I have for months. I'll need reminded of this day when the rain starts up again and the quarter is weighing me down.

But for now, the Vandals remind me that people who are not nice are going to hell. And that's fun.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Golden Gardens In April

We visited Golden Gardens again today. It's always one of my favorite parks, and today was a nice day to be outside. Herc and I listened to the ramblings of my insane children, which is always amusing. They both had a good time, and were stuffed with yummy vegan goodness from Wayward Cafe, so it went fairly well.

Viri is starting to be a little rough with Arkaedi, which we're trying to head off at the pass. I really lost my patience with him a few times this week, and I feel bad about that. Both because it isn't fair to him, being three and all, and because it doesn't work. He behaves better when everyone keeps calm. Today we calmly talked to him, and modeled how to act around the baby, and he was much better. She was happier, even, as though she sensed the change in mood when we reacted to his behavior. I think she really did get a sense that it was being dealt with calmly, and responded well to that.

It's easy to be rough with kids. They drive you nuts, and you want to smack them for hurting their sibling, or throwing food. But it just doesn't get results. If I lose it and smack his bottom, I feel bad and he just continues to misbehave. When I keep my voice calm, and explain the situation, he behaves. It's strange, and maybe a little counter-intuitive. I get better results when I stay calm, though, and I can't argue with the evidence. Always start with the reality of what is in front of you, I say. When I see good results from my actions, when everyone leaves the situation feeling better, I'm going to note that. I'm going to do whatever it takes to get the best resolution to the problem for my entire family. It says a lot about the nature of the world that measured reactions get to the heart of the problem, and start the peace process.

I still have a lot to learn about keeping my voice calm, and moving slowly and deliberately. I'm really learning this year what a spastic little man I can be. Good to know, I guess. Another thing my kids have taught me. I'd better not start a list of what they teach me though, it could get embarrassing when that list far surpasses the list of things I teach them. Maybe I can pay Viri back with teaching him to throw a curveball. Of course, knowing him, by the time I get around to showing him a pitch he'll have a whole repertoire and be pitching AAA ball. I just need to resign myself to being a spring board for the best members of my family that will come after me.

I can't throw a good curve anyway.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Curious George And The Children's Museum

Viri and I joined a group of stay at home dads today for a trip to the Children's Museum. It was fun, but I made a few basic parenting mistakes. First, I told Viri there would be monkeys involved. There was a Curious George interactive exhibit thing, and I honed in on the monkey element of the event. I forgot that people who do these kinds of things for kids never have kids, or involve kids in the process, or even have ever heard of a child. Possibly they think children are some magical fairy that no one can see or hear, but we believe in for vague superstitious reasons. The exhibit was highly interactive. For people of my generation and older, that means busy and purposeless. There were images from the books, but no monkeys. As we left, Viri told me seriously, "There were no monkeys, Papa. You said there were monkeys. There were no monkeys. There were no monkey toys." He would have accepted by mistake if there had at least been monkey toys, I guess.

This leads me to the second mistake. I slotted about forty minutes for the entire event. Never, in the history of parenting, has anything happened in only forty minutes. It's generally accepted that the conception of the child is the quickest event in the entire timeline of parenting. So, this was a big and avoidable mistake. This meant that I had just enough time to greet the dads, chat a bit, then drag Viri away from the toys and games in order to rush back and get J and Arkaedi Sue. We then rushed off to a stupid meeting. That is maybe the worst time management in the history of humanity. Luckily, Viri took it in stride. He just ate yogurt in the car and fell asleep.

The dads were cool, and it was really neat to meet up with a bunch of guys basically doing what I'm doing. I wondered what their wives did. I imagine we're in the same boat; they married successful women who wanted a guy they liked, and didn't care about our complete lack of marketability. I hear a lot about women who seek guys who can take care of them, who have money and power. We're probably at the other end of that spectrum. There's a bar graph in some sociology department that has us, a huge squiggly line, then them.

The trip was fun, and I do wish I had planned it better. The next get together with the dads will be more leisurely, and I'll allow more time. I'm probably going to have to take Viri back to the museum sometime, to make up for today. I don't mind, really. It's an okay place, even if I do have issues with the design of most of the exhibits. The Children's Museum is an odd name for a place, too. It sounds like a futuristic cyborg built it, in memory of the strange biological creatures, and they way they started as small versions of themselves called "children."

I hope this post will further enlighten the cyborgs who rule the future. Maybe it'll get a poorly designed exhibit of its own!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Billy The Kid Versus John Carradine

I really enjoy bad movies. I don't like movies that are poorly acted or written, exactly; I like films that just never quite come together. Last night, the mighty Hercules himself, and faithful companion Sarah, were subjected to one of the classic bad films, Billy the Kid versus Dracula. This stars John Carradine as Dracula. Poor John probably didn't know what he was getting into, and he certainly deserves better. He was in John Ford films, he shouldn't be a dime store Dracula in the wild west. But, sorry though it is, he was.

The first mistake they made was calling the movie Billy the Kid versus Dracula. Dracula really has all of the cards. Billy basically defeats him at the end with bad writing. After failing to kill Dracula with bullets, somehow the old, Superman TV show "throw the gun at the invulnerable guy" trick yields positive results. I'm not sure what self-hating hack allowed that on screen, but it was an embarrassment to behold.

Movies like this are fun precisely because you always wonder how they ever get made. None of the pieces make any sense, and cobbled together inexpertly they just make you concerned for our country and a little sad. I don't pretend to know a lot about making a good movie, of course. I imagine getting all of the elements to coalesce into a beautiful, moving work of art is really damned difficult. But, like cooking and sex, it seems like you know when it's going wrong. Do they care? Are they upset? Are they Corman-ing, just hoping the drive in's make enough cash to make it a wash? For the sake of real artists, I hope they're a little ashamed. The actors certainly look upset in most of the scenes. Even Carradine looks depressed to be in the movie. This is not the outfit of someone who has a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Oh, wait, it is.

The other actors don't really need to be mentioned, except to note the strange blonde girl playing the lead, and her inexplicable dialogue. Her resounding, "That's stupid!" was a rallying cry for her decade.

No it wasn't. That's stupid.