Friday, June 24, 2011

Picture of the Day: Free inSTEP Bicycle Trailer!


I noticed this whilst taking the trash out to the dumpster tonight. Fellow residents of my apartment complex often leave strangely intricate (READ: expensive) items in the recycling area, but this struck me as especially noteworthy. I looked it up and apparently this model retails for $199.99. And some is just giving it away for free ninety-nine? I don't own a bicycle to pull this with or children to strap into, if I had either I probably would have snagged it.
This person obviously either:
- Doesn't know what it's worth.
- Has money, knows what it's worth and doesn't care.
- Knows something terrible happened, knows how much it could sell for, but just wants to get rid of it.
If this was left in a Northern California dumpster a crystal meth tweeker would have already thrown their pack in the back and rolled away with it.
Meanwhile, Central Indiana doesn't seem to notice or care whether or not this is there.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Will there/should there be another Jackass movie?

Surely this is the secret question that immediately popped into heads of everyone who cared upon hearing the news of Ryan Dunn's awful death Monday.
A couple of thoughts:

1) At some point along the way, all of the CKY/Jackass crew, and Bam Margera in particular had to have at least drawn up some rough mental sketch of this day. Watching the highlight reel of Dunn's early work it's a wonder he didn't perish sooner. (Feel free to mute the sound on this video.)

He certainty earned the title “daredevil”. Someone in this clique was bound to die some day doing something they shouldn't be doing. It was really just a matter of time.

2) Alcohol was definitely a contributing factor to this tragedy.
Alcohol was also definitely a contributing factor to the Jackass empire.
Miller was a sponsor of the film franchise as the performers were allowed to imbibe as much as they could keep down. At one point, Dunn even breaks the fourth wall and announces that he could sure go for a Miller High Life. Considering how things turned out it seems incredibly inappropriate in retrospect.
Big Daddy Cha Cha weighs in:
"That's too bad. I first heard about it when a coworker falsely reported to me that it was Bam Margera who had died in the car accident. Too bad for Roger Ebert; he was a little crass, perhaps. I assumed they would find Dunn to have been a little tipsy, but not like this, and Ebert would continue to be ridiculed. But at 140MPH, I think Ebert is completely justified for what he said. After all, it wasn't just the driver that was killed, and it's damned lucky that it wasn't a whole bunch more innocent people, considering that speed...
I may have to get around to checking out that latest Jackass movie now..."
Indeed.

3) There's too much money on the table for MTV and everyone else involved. Of course there is going to be another movie. The first film cost $5 million to make a returned $79 million. The second one more than doubled the budget still brought down $84 million. The bill for the most recent installment of $20 million was more than returned when it came home with yet another $170 million.

4) They really should not make any more movies. The bloom is off the bush. As Rick James as channeled by Dave Chappelle would say, "The milk has gone bad!" The central conceit of the show is now damaged. Every time I see Ryan Dunn all I can think of is how everything went pear-shaped for him in the end.

5) Then again, maybe they could pull off it and come off as classy. I'd be pleased if they were able to make it work. The degree of difficulty is quite high.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On the death of Ryan Dunn


The first business day of the week got off to a horrendous start when Jackass/CKY star Ryan Dunn and passenger Zachary Hartwell died a violent single-car wreck early Monday morning in Eastern Pennsylvania.
CNN's Alan Duke sums up what we know so far:
"Jackass" star Ryan Dunn was drunk and speeding up to 140 mph when his 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 crashed and caught fire on a Pennsylvania highway early Monday, police said Wednesday.
Dunn and Zachary Hartwell, a 30-year-old West Chester, Pennsylvania, man who once worked in one of Ryan's movies, died from "blunt and thermal trauma" in the fiery crash, according to the autopsy report released Tuesday.
"The initial crash reconstruction investigation determined that Mr. Dunn's vehicle was traveling between 132-140 mph at the time of the collision," West Goshen Police Chief Michael Carroll said in a statement Wednesday.
Toxicology testing by the coroner indicated Dunn's blood alcohol concentration was 0.196%, which is more than twice the legal state limit of 0.08, Carroll said.
My first emotion was deep sadness and loss, but not surprise. In high school I taped episodes of Jackass off television on VHS whenever they came on. My friends passed around tapes of underground Jackass forerunner Camp Kill Yourself like they were a drug we weren't supposed to be taking. Through all of this, Dunn remained amongst my favorite of the crowded crew. Never the instigator, always the reluctant participant, Dunn provided a needed balance to Bam Margera's fevered ego. Where Bam was ever torturing his long-suffering parents April and Phil, Dunn exuded genuine niceness.
He didn't want to hurt anybody, all he ever wanted was to roll of your roof in an open-topped barrel.
On a side note, like so many people who have been forced to report on this story for various news organizations who obviously have no idea who they're writing about, Duke consults IMDb oracle and manages to completely mangle the title Minghags.
The red-bearded Dunn, 34, was famous for his pranks and dangerous stunts on the show, which evolved into a successful film franchise.
Hartwell worked as a stunt car driver on "Minghads," a 2009 comedy directed by "Jackass" star Bam Margera and featuring Dunn, according to the Internet Movie Database.
...
Dunn teamed up with "Jackass" co-star Steve-O for an episode of the NBC game show "Minute to Win It" that aired on June 8.
He also hosted "Proving Ground," which premiered on the G4 channel on June 14.
Possibly the only good to come out of any of this is straight-laced journalists having to write the word Minghags in a hard news story. It reminds me of when Ol' Dirty Bastard was in the news every five minutes and Dan Rather had to pronounce Russell Jones' stage name without breaking character. I'd like to think Dunn would have found the humor.
In any event, people have been reverse engineering signs that Dunn's fiery auto wreck was all but inevitable. Dunn's Wikipedia page is currently little more than a collection of these mentions:
Dunn took part in the characteristic stunts that made Jackass famous. While taping a skit for Jackass: The Movie, Dunn was driving a golf cart with Johnny Knoxville as his passenger. The idea was that he would launch the golf cart over a sandtrap and into a plastic statue of a giant pig, and the statue would be crushed. However, the statue did not crush, but instead forced the golf cart into the air and it landed upside down. Dunn was thrown from the cart, and Knoxville landed on his neck with the cart on top of him. In the commentary for the movie, Bam Margera noted Dunn's bad driving.
Another skit in Jackass: The Movie featured Dunn placing a toy car into his rectum. The car was placed inside a condom and was covered in lubricant. He then visited a doctor and complained of pain in his tailbone. An x-ray session revealed that a small car was lodged in his body bringing surprise to the doctor. Dunn was also featured in Jackass Number Two.

In a classic case of "too soon" (also known as "when keeping it real goes wrong"), Roger Ebert got into quite a bit of hot water lately for suggesting via Twitter that Dunn's death might, in some way, have been caused at least in part by alcohol abuse. (This was yesterday before the toxicology tests came back.)
Dunn was rewarded most of his life for taking outrageous risks. He was rewarded with friendship, fame, riches, love. Why wouldn't his brain's rewiring change to suit this new reality?
It's hard to see myself ever driving drunk at 140 miles per hour in the middle of the night, but I can see how he got there.
Circumstance aside, there now are two people, who were by all accounts high-quality individuals, who are now dead.
And they don't need to be.
And I don't know what else say because chiding someone who's already paid the ultimate price for their own carelessness seems redundant.
While I was writing this piece a strangely prescient song came on the Cake Radio station on Pandora which I happened to be listening to: Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down". I think I'll end with that:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Picture of the Day: "Morels - $49.99/lb"


I took this picture at the Marsh supermarket near our apartment. It is late spring and mushroom hunting season has just finished peaking here in Indiana. Ash and I found mounds of morels near her parents' cabin, so we didn't feel the need to pay the exorbitant prices found here. Also, they were in the open air drying out, so they weren't moist and fresh like they should be.
Regardless, I estimate that if you digested diligently you could probably consume about $150 worth of morels before a manager arrived to have you arrested.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Movie Review: 127 Hours (2010)


There will never be another movie like 127 Hours.
And maybe that's a good thing.
The true story of Aron Ralston (James Franco) is so excruciating to watch there is truly no way I can imagine every desiring to see this movie ever again. This Danny Boyle joint belongs beside other classy squirmfests such as Requiem For a Dream and Happiness in the one-hitter quitter category. The inevitable plane-into-the-side-of-the-mountain moment happens remarkably quickly in the run-time. No sooner has he left his house without taking his Swiss army knife or telling anyone where he's going, does he escort a pair lost female hikers to safety. Twenty minutes into the film and we're already trapped in the crevasse with Aron, his arm pulverized behind a giant boulder. And all he has to comfort him comprises of a video camera, digital camera, dull multi-tool, one bottle of water, his Capital One card--
Which brings me to one of the most distracting features about 127 Hours: the incessant product placement. During a dream sequence he images out loud how refreshing a Mountain Dew would be. When he has another hallucination he plots the route back to his abandoned car, only to find a sweaty bottle of Gatorade waiting for him. Another vision has him watching a beautiful woman sip from glass bottle of Pepsi. Needless to say, the PepsiCo family of products was well-represented here. I'm almost surprised we didn't see him eat a hearty breakfast of Quaker Oats and a Naked Juice to wash it down with and a refreshing Lipton Tea to finish. Once could almost create a drinking game of the corporate shout outs.
And believe me, you'll want to drink.
SPOILER ALERT: He chops his arm off with the dull blade of the Made-In-China multi-tool to get out.
But then, you knew that already, didn't you?
I don't want to give away the whole movie, but it may or may not surprise you to learn that we get to see the real Aron Ralston in yet another dream sequence at the end of the movie. I imagine that having James Franco play you in movie by the director of 28 Days Later couldn't feel that bad.
For all its problems, this is still probably just about as well as this concept could have been executed. Danny Boyle drags us down the hole and doesn't let us out until we've actually felt like we getting our own limbs severed. I flinched and moaned on several occasions, but I feel like they pulled off a really good movie. Everyone here is talented and determined: from subject to actor to director.
And in the end that's what counts: for whatever else anyone wants to say about Aron Ralston, one thing is true: when it counted he did whatever he needed to do to survive.