The Night the Karate Kid Dissed Me and Then Did Right in the End

Daniel Larusso and I were supposed to have a dudes’ night out, just him and me.  And we got maybe an hour in before he bailed.

The plan was to meet at the Golf n’ Stuff family entertainment center at 8:30.  Just a couple of bros hitting the air hockey table, maybe the front nine of the miniature golf course.  Who knows, things get crazy, me and Danny-boy might even hit the waterslides a little later; I told him to bring his suit.

8:55 Daniel shows up (no swimming trunks). He said he was helping a friend out and lost track of the time.  I knew he was talking about that little old Chinese guy, but I don’t press the issue.

9:12 We’re finishing up a couple a slices, a couple a root beers, no big deal.  Daniel starts bragging on his air hockey skills.  “Is that a challenge?” I ask with a raised eyebrow, standing from my seat with my arms out at full wingspan.  “You want some of this, Larusso?”  Daniel looks around nervously and tells me to keep my voice down.

9:16 Butcher: 5, Laurusso: 1.  I’m like Ovechkin on the air hockey table.  Suddenly, I hear Daniel’s gay, Peter Cetera ring tone go off and he calls time out.  I’m like, “Time out?  This is air hockey.”  But he takes the call.  He’s doing a lot more listening than talking.  When he finally gets off, I ask, “Who was that?”

“Just a friend,” he says.

9:19 Game, set, match, bitch.  Butcher 11, Larusso 3.

9:20 We pass a photo booth.  “Hey, man, what do you say?  My treat?”  I say, gesturing towards the photo-op behind the curtain.  He gives me a look like, “are you for real?”  Oh, I’m for real, Karate Kid.  I’m so for real.

9:24 I bet Daniel that, in four turns, he can’t pull a plush M&M doll from the claw-crane machine.  He’s all, “you know I caught a fly with some chopsticks, right?”  and takes the bet.  “They’re having a beach party later tonight.  You wanna check it out,” I ask him.  He suddenly starts getting all squirrelly on me.  “I might have something else to do.”

9:26 Daniel hands me a yellow M&M doll and says, “You lose.”  But I just got a yellow plush M&M doll for fifty cents.  I’d say that’s a WIN if ever there was one.

9:28 So, I’m feeling like it’s time to get our putt-putt on.  But when I bring it up, Daniel-son says,  “I got this thing…”  What?  “Dude, this was supposed to be Bros’ Night Out.”  He corrects me, saying it’s called “Dudes’ night out.”  Fine.  “Bro, this was supposed to be Dude’s Night Out, now you’re dissing me?  It’s that Mr. Miyajji, isn’t it?”   “Miya-gi,” he says, “and maybe.  What’s it to you?”

Killin' the Skee Ball

9:34 Daniel and I hit the skee ball machine.  After about six games, neither of us talking to each other, Daniel says, “I might take off in a bit.”  “ I roll my eyes.  “Do you want my tickets,” he asks.  Of course I do.  Daniel walks away.

9:37 Lonely and tired, I do a lap around the arcade.  Then I realize, “what law says I can’t go on the water slide… by myself.”

9:39 I’m heading for the exit when I hear, “On second thought, how about those pictures.”

He left right after we took the photos.  It was the shortest Dudes’ Night Out on record.  But, as time passes, and that strip of photos becomes clearer than my memory, I think back fondly on that special night at Golf n’ Stuff.

Earl, with an L

Damon, Wish I was Your Lover

Logging onto Netflix today was a dose of sexual ambiguity for me.

Upon login, Netflix creates categories of movies they think you’ll like, based on your previous rentals. Sometimes they make perfect sense: the third category down my recommended list is: “Gritty Movies Based on Real Life.”  They compiled a list of movies including Cinderella Man, My Left Foot, and Glory, based on my interest in Goodfellas, Tombstone and Escape From Alcatraz.

Other times, they make no sense: my second category is “Underdog Stories.” “Based on your interest in Home Alone and Rocky, you might like Snow Dogs.” Being that I would rather check the lights in a Christian Bale scene than watch a Cuba Gooding Jr. movie , I figured they were off.

Scoot Over...

Scoot Over

But upon login this evening, the number one category on my Netflix recommendations was “Movies Starring Matt Damon.”

Ew. How gay, I thought to myself. Why would they have a – and then I saw it: based on your previous rentals of Bourne Identity, Talented Mr. Ripley, and the Rain Maker, you may like…

Yeah, so, maybe those were the last three films I watched. That doesn’t mean I’d be interested in, oh, let’s see, what are they recommending for me… Saving Private Ryan. I click on it. “This movie is already in your Queue.”

Coincidence. I mean, I like war movies. Don’t believe me? Ask my wife. We just watched Courage Under Fire. I didn’t particularly buy Meg Ryan in it, but Matt Damon was… coincidence.

Netflix is also recommending Ocean’s Eleven. Well, I already saw it on cable. I typically wouldn’t watch a movie like that but I thought I would give it a chance because Matt Damon was – shit.

Those Dumbbells are Having All the Fun
Those Dumbbells are Having All the Fun

My next thought was, rearrange the queue. Let’s put some distance between my last and next Matt Damon film. So I throw Saving Ryan’s Privates to the… oh geez. I throw Saving Private Ryan to the bottom and move up, let’s see, Rounders, no. School Ties? Wait, how did a Brandon Fraser movie make it on my… oh, little Charlie Dillon. My queue has Good Will Hunting, the Rain Maker (wait, didn’t I just watch that?), Will and Grace (one episode, A Chorus Line), Ocean’s 12-16, the Departed and the Good Shepherd.

So, do I need to come to grips with the fact the last four movies I’ve watched starred Matt Damon? That all fourteen movies in my queue list are Matt Damon movies? That I saved an Entertainment Weekly from 2004 with him on the cover? That I photoshopped my head over Ben Affleck’s in his Oscar pic with Matt? That I just called him “Matt?”

I love Matt Damon as much as the next guy… that doesn’t make me gay.

Killer Stache

It just doesn't grow here and here...

"It Just Doesn't Grow Here and Here."

Mustaches aren’t like hair styles where there’s this unlimited number of them to choose from. There’s only like five of them out there. When Hitler went out and murdered 8 million people, he kinda reduced the options by like 20 percent. It was pretty cool when it was called the “abbreviated-stache.” Not so cool when it suddenly became “The Hitler.”

For men of my generation, you don’t miss what you’ve never had.  But for  those who were wearing it duringWWII?  The following is a brief conversation between one of those men and his peers.

Chaplain and his Boy
Charlie’s Boy Sits Him Down

One of his Boys: Dude, you gotta either grow it into a goatee or a full mustache, or you gotta shave it off all together.

Charlie Chaplin: Man, I’ve been rocking the abbreviated-stache since the 20’s, son.

One of his Boys, Doesn’t matter. You need to lose it.

Another One of his Boys: What about the fu manchu?

One of his Boys: Donnie, shut the fuck up.  Charlie, people are heil-ing you behind your back.    Believe me, you don’t need the aggravation.

Charlie Chaplin: But the Tramp…

One of his Boys: Trust us. Just lose it.

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It feels a little weird, but I'll get used to it.

So, You Want to be a Black Belt?

AFI recently named Karate Kid to its Top Ten Sports Movies of All Time. I love the movie too, but the journey to greatness has a few loopholes as loose as the brick on Ali’s front porch.

Tue, Nov. 1, 1983 Approx 10:15 a.m. Miyagi and Daniel Enter Cobra Kai Dojo

Bonzai, Bitches

Bonzai, Bitches

We know the night before was Halloween (or as the Cobra Kai boys will forever call it, Pearl Harbor 2). Bidding farewell that night, Daniel says “Tomorrow morning? “ Miyagi replies “10:00.” Cut to: Daniel Son: “Good morning, Mr. Miyagi.”

Yes, I know, you’re like, “But Daniel, why aren’t you in school? And Mr. Miyagi, why aren’t you fixing shit?”

Let’s say it takes them 15 min to get to the dojo. Again, don’t ask why there’s a full sparring session well in progress at 10:15 on a school day. Logic does not exist in this dojo, does it? NO SENSEI!

My point is Miyagi convinces Sensei John Creece to prohibit his students from beating Daniel up between now and the tournament, or for one month and sixteen days. Plenty of time for:

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Daniel To Achieve Black Belt Status In One Month, Two Weeks, and Two Days

Minus “Karate from book” and a few lessons at the Y, Daniel has no formal karate training. But over the course of the month and a half he:

– Waxes on and off four cars

You're a Pushy Little Bastard, Aren't Ya?

You're a Pushy Little Bastard, Aren't Ya?

– Paints a fence and a house
– Sands a floor
– And spends one ridiculous session at the beach playing in the ocean and staring in awe/lust at Miyagi’s crane-kicking silhouette.

All told, he really only spent four days training and achieved black belt status. He should be more than ready for:

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The 18th All Valley Karate Championships

Bangs are for the Weak

Bangs are for the Weak

December 19, 1983 is the date. For those of you keeping score, it was a Monday. Again, no school, no work for the sold-out crowd on hand at the Matadome. One quick fact about the Metadome:

It’s record attendance: 3, 106 to watch US/Japan international exhibition men’s volleyball match. It wouldn’t be the last time the US/Japan connection came through…Aye, Daniel-Son.

3,106 people show up to the junior co-ed district karate championships? The Montreal Expos pulled in 3,780 against the Rockies in May of ’02. Six hundred more people at a MLB game… right.

The rest, of course, is history. A montage set to Joe Esposito’s You’re the Best gets Daniel through five rounds. Another two, and he’s hoisting the trophy above his head.

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Do I suspend disbelief for the sake of a great movie? Yes. Are these moments the least believable in the movie? No.

But if you don’t buy in from the beginning, you’re only gonna feel Rick-Rolled in the end.

Catch Something Else With Chopstick

Catch Something Else With Chopstick

2 Cops Walk Into a Bar

rush-hourThe buddy cop genre. Perhaps the slipperiest slope in cinema. When casted correctly, no genre can touch it. But when miscast, you could be in for a long two hours.

There’s certain elements that are tried-and-true to the genre. Most times you’re gonna get an interracial coupling of cops. Usually black and white, but occasionally black and Jackie Chan. And they’re usually going after a drug dealer, cartel, syndicate, what have you.

As far as quality, you run the gamut. So, I’m gonna rank a few of them.

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lethalweaponLethal Weapon: Pretty much the gold standard for the genre. Mel Gibson is always at his best when he’s not taking himself too seriously. Danny Glover is pretty much one of the worst actors ever. But he gets to play the tentative voice of reason who is always skeptical, the one who has to take a deep breath and say something like, “Oh what the hell,” or, “I’m getting too old for this,” before jumping off of the bridge. Fact of the matter is, the script rocked and there’s the perfect combination of violence and comedy. ✪✪✪✪✪ (Five badges).

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48 Hours: Remember when Eddie Murphy made a good movie? That was awesome. And Jack Cates is Nick Nolte’s second best role ever. His first, Coach Bell in Blue Chips. ✪✪✪✪✪

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Hank's Understudy

Hank's Understudy

Turner and Hooch: This is where you begin to see how vital it is to have two strong actors in these kinds of movies. Hooch does his own stunts in the movie, which is amazing. But Tom Hanks as a cop? Puh-lease… Now, here’s what they should’ve done: replaced Tom Hanks with a dog. Two Dogs! Two dog cops hunting down the killer, and one of the dogs is real close to retirement and gets shot. Okay, I’m getting sidetracked. Not a bad movie; I’m giving it ✪✪✪✪

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Training Day: Denzel could carry a movie playing opposite the Money You Could Be Saving With Geico. Unfortunately Ethan Hawke isn’t even that good. All those scenes where Denzel is like, “Wait in the car,” my guess is that was him ad libbing. Ethan Hawke is horrible. You know it’s bad when you root for the good guy to die. But Denzel’s watershed performance makes it worth the while. ✪✪✪

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newjackNew Jack City: Some guys you buy as cops. Eastwood, definitely. Leslie Neilsen, sure, why not? Ice T and Judd Nelson… Ice T hates cops too much to be able to objectively play one. And Judd Nelson being good in anything is as rare as a cab with a license plate that says “Fresh.”  Anyway, thank goodness Mario Van P kept this flick on track. It could have gone very differently. ✪✪

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lenocollisioncourseCollision Course: A Detroit Cop (Jay Leno) teams up with Mr. Miyagi (Mr. Miyagi) to track down a stolen turbocharger. This movie has disaster written all over it. The logline: The only thing stopping them from solving the crime is…each other. What would you rather see: this movie, or blood in your stool? I’d love to give this one zero badges but Mr. Miyagi’s in it so… ✪

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Righteous Kill: Deniro and Pacino together again, just like the movie Heat.

Only ten years lamer. Zero invisible stars.

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I know there’s so many more… Kindergarten Cop, Red Heat, Se7en, etc. And I would love to do them all but I just saw that Cop and a Half is on TBS. Oh TBS, very funny.

Off the Rails of a Swayze Train

Can somebody please tell me what kind of a world we live in where Laura Dern is as healthy as a horse, but Patrick Swayze has to waste away into nothingness? I don’t have enough on my plate with this recession and T.I. going to prison?

Now I have to deal with a tabloid headline in the grocery checkout line: “I’m not dying.

So I looked at the picture inside the magazine. Not dying? There was more of him lifting the penny in Ghost than there is of him now.

ghost2cancer-2

And of course, my mind went to that dark place again… that place where God takes Swayze before me. And I started thinking, if Patrick Swayze was gone tomorrow, would my list be ready?

So, without further ado, here’s my top three Swayze Moments:

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1) Dirty Dancing as Johnny Castle

The Scene: The Last Number of the Season at Kellerman’s.

corner1Trips to Europe, that’s what the kids want. You have to realize what’s at stake here. Johnny has been fired. He’s officially trespassing at this point. It doesn’t matter; nobody’s going to stop him. Not Jerry Orbach, not Robbie the slimeball, and not even Newman who was definitely on the stage. Johnny rescues Baby from the corner, restores his reputation with Dr. Houseman, interrupts the Pechanga, and delivers the most chilling line in movie history: “I’m gonna do my kind of dancin’ with a great partner.”

Cue The Time of My Life, as a performance for the ages unfolds. For my money, it’ll never get better than when they nail the lift at the end.

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2) She’s Like the Wind as Swayze
The Whole Video

Swayze’s agent sold it like this: Here’s the plan: this amazing song you sang, we’re going to have you sit on a stool and dramatically sing to someone just off-camera. Then, we’ll take scenes from the movie, turn them black and white, and add a ripple effect on it. Then, you just go home and wait for the call from the Grammys.

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3) Ghost as Sam Wheat
The Scene: The One Where He Makes This Face:

ghost-1Apparently it was supposed to be Bruce Willis in the role of Sam. But Swayze signs on, he’s the one who lobbies for Whoopi, and I end up dropping the word “ditto” on my eighth grade girlfriend who broke up with me the same night (second one from the right. What’s up, Sidney? Thanks for dumping me at Megan’s party. Remember when I said I wouldn’t tell anyone that your father was an alcoholic? Whoops.).

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mulletswayzeSome reports say he’s on his death bed now. Others declare we have at least two more years with him. It’s hard to say. But I know that between giref and nothing, I’ll take grief. And so I continue to let myself be vulnerable, hoping and wishing for one last, great Swayze moment.