Monthly Archives: July 2019

Movie Review – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Grab your time travel machine, 3.5 readers.  It’s time to go back all the way to 1969.

BQB here with a review of Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film.

I’ve been a longtime Tarantino fan, 3.5 readers.  I suppose most Gen Xers are.  His films have always been known for 1) time jumps, i.e. starting at the end and working back to the beginning, so that the end of the movie becomes essentially how the whole mess started 2) long pieces of expository dialogue where characters drop key plot points by word of mouth in passing and 3) 1960s and 1970s pop culture references galore.

Remember Inglourious Bastards?  This film is another alternate history project.  Just as Tarantino rewrote WWII, so too does he give the infamously terrifying Manson family murder of actress Sharon Tate a rewrite.  The tale centers around down on his luck actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his trusty stuntman/errand boy Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt.)  Together, they are a pair of old Hollywood legends who once put out a popular 1950s cowboy show, only to fizzle in the middle of their lives.  Rick is having a tough time finding work, and if he can’t work then Cliff can stunt.

Long story short, Sharon Tate and her husband, director (later turned on the run pervert) Roman Polanski, are Rick’s neighbors, and I could tell you more but suffice to say, during their quest to restart their careers, Rick and Cliff get sucked into the Manson family madness in a big way.

Having studied Tarantino’s movies for a long time, I have to say this one is far different.  His 1960s pop culture references are there, but there a but more subtle, with the occasional hint toward what is being referred to for the millennial generation.  Tarantino’s adoration of the 1960s and 1970s was already a bit stale in the 1990s when he got his start, and I remember as a teenager, watching his films was the first time I learned of some of the 60s/70s references to which he was referring.  So, his work is cut out for him in trying to stay afloat in a sea that is now dominated by young adults who were in short pants at the turn of the century.

Somehow, he pulls it off.  And he also, much to my surprise, refrains from the heavy, heady dialogue that is his trademark.  True, his dialogues were often a joy to behold, but here, he focuses more on showing rather than telling.  Ironically, it’s almost like this grandmaster blew up all the writing rules in his youth, only to begin grabbing hold of them in his old age.

It’s in the showing where this movie excels.  We see Leo as Dalton sitting on a float in his backyard pool, reviewing his lines for a part in a movie that he needs to remain relevant in the acting game.  This shows us that Dalton is desperate.  He’s old but he isn’t ready to quit just yet, and wants to give it his all before his final curtain call.

We see Cliff Booth sitting alone in a dingy trailer, his only friend a big dumb dog.  His house is a mess, looking as though he never cleans.  He cooks a pot of mac and cheese, then sits down before the TV to eat it straight out of the pot.  He is a consummate bachelor.  Unlike Dalton, he is used to a shit life.  Aspirations of anything else don’t compute with him.

And finally, we see Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate.  So proud of herself for making it in the movie business is she that she goes to a cinema and takes in one of her films, in awe of her accomplishment.  It’s a sweet moment.

Overall, this is Tarantino’s love letter to his favorite flicks, genres, actors, directors…really, his kiss for that period of time in Hollywood history that formed the foundation of his work.

Ultimately, Rick and Cliff have to take everything they thought they knew about the movie business and turn it up on its ear to keep going in a world that’s changing, and Tarantino does that here as well.

After all, this is a movie that starts at the beginning and ends at the end.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Happy Sunday, 3.5 Readers

Hey 3.5 readers.

I don’t blog much these days as I’m focused on book writing.  And since Friday, I’ve been busy watching Orange is the New Black.  Actually, I can’t believe how bingeable that show is.  It has been my summer watching for years now.  I will miss it when it is over but I guess all good things must come to an end.

Anyway, what are you 3.5 readers up to?  Update me on your 3.5 doings in the comments.

Watching Road House is An Exercise in the Suspension of Disbelief

SPOILER ALERT: Please watch Road House on Netflix, suspend your disbelief as you do so, then come here to discuss.

Hey 3.5 readers.

Road House.  It’s the shittiest awesome movie you’ll ever see, and I say that with all due respect to the late Patrick Swayze and make no mistake, he deserves much respect.

I’ve seen it a couple times over the years, but now, watching it as an adult, it’s a whole new experience.

With most movies, you do have to suspend disbelief.  Most movies tell fanciful tales.  That’s why we watch them.  If we wanted realism, every movie would be a guy sitting at a desk for 8 hours, periodically getting up once in awhile to get a sandwich or take a shit.

But you really have to put your brain on hold for this movie.

The plot is that Dalton, that’s his only name, played by Swayze, is the world’s greatest cooler.  A cooler is the head bouncer in a club that employs a squad of bouncers.  I had no idea that bouncing had such a high level of professionalism but that’s neither here nor there.  Bottomline, a businessman who owns a nightclub or road house in a rural Missouri town goes to NYC to recruit Dalton to clean up his joint, the Double Deuce, for it is a den of depravity, full of assholes who constantly murder each other.

Dalton takes the job on the spot, not giving a shit about his current employer, just taking off that night to drive to Missouri.  I mean, what an asshole.  Give the guy 2 weeks notice, am I right?

Anyway, Dalton gets to the Double Deuce and that’s when shit starts to go down.  The club owner agrees to pay Dalton $500 a night plus he’ll cover any medical expenses.  That stands out to me right away.  I mean, this is the shittiest bar in existence and somehow the owner has the dough to hire a cooler for $120,000 a year.

On top of that, there are scenes when the bar staff get together for a meeting about how they’re going to help Dalton clean shit up.  And there’s like, 50 people working there.  Like there’s no way this shitty bar is pulling in enough to cover that much overhead.

Anyway, Dalton gets into some fights with the asshole barflies and sooner or later, he runs across the town bad guy, who employs most of those assholes.  Push comes to shove and before he knows it, Dalton is at war with the town bad guy.

Oh, and Dalton gets stabbed one night and meets the town doctor, a hot blonde.  He literally calls her Doc.  Ironically, the movie is like a modern day western where the lawman comes into town and all the townfolk tell him to give up and just take it up the butt from the town bad guy because the bad guy is too strong.

Moving on, Dalton’s best pal and mentor is Sam Elliot, who is also another great cooler.  It’s cool to see Sam Elliot in his younger days though there is a creepy scene where he dances with Doc and looks like he wants to bone her even though she is his buddy’s girlfriend.

By the way, the cops don’t give a shit about this town.  There is some passing mention that the town bad guy has all the cops under his thumb but still, I mean, every night people are getting murdered and hacked to pieces and robbed and raped and so on at the Double Deuce and if that’s not enough, a local shop owner’s store gets blown the fuck up because he stands with Dalton against the bad guy.  Later, a car dealer stands with Dalton and the bad guy has a henchmen drive a fucking monster truck through his dealership.

All I’m saying is yes, I get it.  The local cops are on the bad guy’s take but holy shit, at some point, you’d think the Governor of Missouri would hear about some of the non-stop, daily bar murders and business explosions and send the National Guard in to fuck the bad guy up.

OK, beyond this I won’t say much more, but you should watch it on Netflix and return here to tell me the discrepancies and brain suspensions you have to do for this movie, which honestly, is awesome, make sense.

Some stupidity I noticed, in no particular order:

#1 – The farmer is a shitty negotiator.  Dalton asks to rent his room.  The farmer says up front well no one wants it because the whole farm smells like horse shit.  Wow.  Way to negotiate.  Maybe little the renter make the first move.  See what he’s willing to pay.  At any rate, the farmer says he’ll rent this super awesome loft bachelor pad complete with a walk out on rooftop porch that he can (and does) bang hot chicks on and he rents it to him for 100 a month which he says is just some bullshit he has to charge him lest the local church here he is giving shit out for free and they come looking for donations.

#2 – I said it before but I’ll say it again, the math behind the Double Deuce’s payroll structure just does not add up.  50 some odd employees, a house band and a pro cooler making 120,000 a year..,at a bar where stabbings happen every five seconds.

#3 – It takes place in Missouri but in the car dealership scene, you can see a sign for LA and Bakersfield in the distance to the right.

#4 – It is kind of awesome that Dalton knows in advance that bar creeps will fuck up his car so he always drives a broken down beater to work instead of his cherished Mercedes.  I’ll actually say that’s one part of this movie that is clever.

#5 – Dalton pulls a knife used to kill his buddy Sam Elliot out of Elliot and uses it to push down the accelerator of his car in an attempt to run the bad guys over.  Sorry, but I don’t think that knife would hold the pedal down.

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The Cats Trailer (Or, Just Because We Can CGI Something, Doesn’t Mean We Should)

 

Hey 3.5 readers.

Cats.  It’s one of, and some might even say, Broadway’s greatest musical.  It’s two hours of performers dancing and singer in kitty costumes.  The extremely loose plot is that the cats assemble in a junkyard once a year to introduce themselves and plead, through song, why Old Deuteronomy, the head cat, should pick them to ascend into cat heaven, where they will be reborn as a younger cat.

SPOILER ALERT – the most memorable (pun) song is “Memory” sung by Grizelda, who in her youth, was a very glamorous cat but when she became a famous cat, she forgot all the little cats and now, she’s old, washed up, somehow involved in cat prostitution, how that works I don’t know but whatever.  At any rate, the plot, in addition to being about cats, is also how it sucks to get old and how your body breaks down and your poor health ruins your life and everyone starts to think you suck because you’re old and all you can think about is how happy you’d be if you could be young again.

OK.  Aside from all that.  CGI has done some miraculous things, but I don’t think it looks good here.  Grafting the faces of real actors and actresses onto these CGI cats just looks dumb.

First, see the size.  They’re as small as cats and the world is from a cat perspective, meaning regular household objects are bigger to them.  So…ok on Broadway the only way you can have a dancing cat is to put a human in a cat costume, but for the movie why not have singing CGI four legged cats?

Or do one of those Air Buddies type things where you record the cats until they do the shit you want and then record some voiceover.

OK that would be stupid.  Scratch that.

But here’s the big question.  Why not just get these actors to appear in makeup?  You know, there have been a number of sequels to the Wizard of Oz over the years, laden with CGI and yet for my money, nothing beats the 1930s original.  Nothing beats those elaborate costumes and makeup jobs.

So, couldn’t we just make up the stars and let them prance?

Or, how about this?  Just make an animated cartoon voiced by the stars.  Disney makes new cartoon characters all the time.  Why not animate some cats who walk and talk like humans and let the stars sing for them?

My guess is these are all such big names that they wanted their faces on the cats.

I don’t know.  Something about the faces on the cats just looks cheap to me.

I’m sure I’ll go see it anyway though.

What say you 3.5?

PS – I love Jennifer Hudson, like for real, love her, but why is she playing an elderly cat?  Just seems like more of Hollywood’s stance against the old.  If the character is an old lady cat, depressed at what time has taken from her, then why is a young woman playing her?  I mean, OK, she’ll belt that song out of the bark but still.

Movie Review – The Lion King (2019)

Briefly, 3.5 readers, I’m not sure I get Disney’s remake everything with live action initiative, even though I assume they’re generating a ton of revenue and not having to spend money on writing new stories as they’re just taking the old stories and re-doing them.

It sort of makes sense when there are human characters but something about a talking CGI animal cast is odd.  That’s the fun part of cartoons.  Why cartoon animals talking doesn’t seem silly I don’t know.  Maybe just the idea of real-ish looking animals talking seems weird.

But at any rate, it’s fun, though again, for some reason, cartoon lions fighting seemed ok but something about letting kids see real lish lions fight seems strange.

It was a good time but I don’t know.  I’m not sure CGI-ing everything is the way to go.  Don’t believe me?  Check out that Cats trailer.  I’ll probably rant about the Cats trailer at some point.

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Last Day to Get a Free Book

Hey 3.5 readers.

All I do is give and give.

In keeping with that spirit, here’s a free book.  Today is the last day it is for FREE.

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Get My Big Book of Badass Writing Prompts FREE Through Sunday

It’s free, 3.5 readers.

That means all you have to do is go and get it…FOR FREE!

Click.  Download.  Get a free book.  Leave a review if you like though I know that’s asking a lot.  But anyway, it’s free, 3.5 readers.  You can’t go wrong.

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Meth Gators

Police throughout the south are warning residents not to flush their meth down the toilet, for it ends up in the water and this creates cranked up meth gators.

Note to self: put “Toilet Meth Gator” on the sequel schedule.

 

Toilet Shocker – Prologue

toilet shocker demo

March 20, 2003, 10:00 P.M. (SST – Standard Saddam Time) – Baghdad, Iraq

              Uday Hussein was such a raging psychopath that even his father, the despised Iraqi dictator Saddam, often found himself aghast at his son’s behavior.  Rape, torture, murder, kidnapping, theft, failure to rewind videotapes – and that was just a typical Tuesday night.  What happened on the weekends defied belief.

It was evening, so the rage had subsided into sleep.  Saddam’s eldest rested in his personal wing of the Hussein family palace, a massive structure covered in glimmering gold, inside and out.  In a wide, luxurious bed, Uday snored while clad in his favorite robe – a wavy, flowing, purple silk number.  A gold chain with a diamond encrusted dollar sign medallion rested on his hairy chest, while a pair of high-priced, designer sunglasses remained perched atop his forehead.

Uday never slept alone.  His bed was filled with 8 women, all of whom were assured by Uday’s goon squad that they wanted to be there and were having a good time.  Those who didn’t were asked to try once more, with feeling.

Ironically, while Saddam never missed an opportunity to stick it to the West, his man child craved copious portions of Western pop culture.  As Uday slumbered, he mumbled the lyrics to his favorite Stank Daddy tune.  As it just so happened, the rap song, Run a Bitch Over with My Car, topped the 2003 charts and won many prestigious music industry awards.  It went thusly:

Gonna run a bitch over with my car.

              Gonna run a bitch over with my car.

              Bitch, you ain’t gonna get very far,

              When I step on the gas and hit your ass with my car.

              One of the women stirred.  She opened her eyes and sat up, then directed her gaze toward the beefy goons blocking the door.

“Can we go now?”

The thugs shook their heads in the negative.

“Damn it.”

Uday continued to perform in his sleep:

Gonna run a bitch over with my truck.

              Gonna run a bitch over with my truck.

              Bitch, you know that I don’t give a….

              BOOM!

No, that boom wasn’t part of the song.  There had been a loud explosion outside.  BOOM!  Another.  They were getting closer.  The third one shook the room. BOOM!

That last explosion caused Uday’s eyes to pop open.  He sat up in bed.  “Great Tupac’s ball sack!  What’s going on?!”

The goons flipped on the lights, ran to the window and drew the curtains.  Uday hopped out of bed and ran to the window, through which there was a sweeping view of the city.  Off in the distance, three government buildings were on fire.

A fiery streak cut through the sky until it crashed into a fourth building.  BOOM!

That one was so close that pieces of plaster fell from the ceiling in Uday’s room.

“Yankee doodle cocksuckers!” Uday cried as he picked up his phone.  He had a landline because it was 2003. He dialed the extension that connected to his younger brother’s wing.

“Hello?”

“Qusay!” Uday shouted into the receiver.  “Are you seeing this shit?”

“Yes, Uday,” Qusay replied.  “It’s the Americans.  They’re here.”

“When in the name of Biggie’s big butt were you ever going to tell me?” Uday asked.

“I can’t think to tell you everything, bro,” Qusay replied.  “Maybe if you’d attend more staff meetings and less all-night cocaine binge raves.”

“Lies!”  Uday said.  “I’ve been off the coke for years now!”

The older brother pounded the receiver down, opened-up his dresser drawer, and pulled out a plastic baggie full of white powder.  He stuck his pinky finger into it, retrieved a good-sized dab, then sniffed it up his schnoz.  He took another dab and rubbed it on his gums.  “Mmm.  Yes.  That is good shit.”

The prolific party boy took one more snort, then placed the baggie in one of the pockets of his robe.  “Come, goons!” he shouted as he made his way to the door.

“Sir,” the first of the goons said.  “Should we um, you know…”

Uday looked at the first goon with a befuddled expression.  He was so used to people only speaking when he spoke to them.  After all, most were terrified of Uday’s hair trigger, displayed often in public settings where he was known to beat innocent bystanders to death for the most trivial of unintended slights.

“What?” Uday asked.  “What is it?”

The first goon pointed to the bed full of women.  “Should we save them?”

Uday looked at the bed, then turned his attention to a key-pad next to the door.  “Of course not.  Don’t be an idiot.  I can always kidnap more women.”

In his mind, the first goon noted that answer didn’t address the point of his question, but he wasn’t about to press the issue.  Those who pressed issues with Uday never lived to tell the tale.  He was well-aware of this, for he and his fellow security goons were called upon to dispose of their boss’s victims often.

Uday punched in a code and the door rolled open.  He and the goons exited the bedroom, only to find themselves in a dark, dank, dungeon.  Dozens of Iraqis who had run afoul of Saddam’s first born were clapped in irons, left to hang by their wrists from the wall.

One of the victims wore a soccer player’s uniform, which consisted of shorts and a shirt with the Iraqi flag on it.  Uday spotted a whip lying on a nearby table.  He seized it, uncoiled it and gave the player a good, hard crack across the midsection, causing him to scream in agony.  “Arrrrghh!”

“Did you figure out how to kick a lousy field goal yet, you wretched son of a herpetic goat molester?!”

“Oww!” the player said.  “Please, Supreme Iraqi Olympics Chairman! I beg of you.  Have mercy.”

Crack!  The whip was used once more.

Patooie!  Uday spat directly into the player’s face.  “I’ll show you mercy when you show me a decent Maradona, you diseased sore festering deep within the bowels of a dying ape’s rectum!”

Uday moved on.  The next victim was a middle-aged man.  He wore a pair of glasses and black pants.  His white shirt was disheveled.

“Please, Supreme State Approved Newspaper Publisher!” the man said.  “I have been the editor of the award winning and most highly revered Saddam Gazette for many years and under my watch, we have never once failed to report upon the wise and glorious actions of your most blessed and beloved father!”

Crack!  The whip tore a hole through the editor’s shirt. Blood poured out of the open wound.

“Yes, I know this!” Uday shouted.  “You think I don’t know this?”

The editor shook his head furiously to the left and right.  “No, Supreme State Approved Newspaper Publisher! I didn’t mean that at all.  I know there is nothing you don’t know.”

Crack!  The editor pleaded with his boss.  “Please.  Mercy!”

Patooie!  Uday hocked a big, sticky loogie right into the editor’s face.  “I’ll show you mercy when you learn to never, ever, EVER print Marmaduke in Section D again!”

“I’m sorry, Supreme State Approved Newspaper Publisher,” the editor said.  “I had no idea Marmaduke meant so much to you.”

Uday nodded.  “He does.  He really does.  He’s a giant dog who thinks he is people and this misunderstanding on his part causes all sorts of awkward situations for his human family.”

“I know, Supreme State Approved Newspaper Publisher,” the editor said.  “He is quite charming.”

“He is hilarious,” Uday said.  “He should always be in Section A or maybe if father is having an exceptionally good day, then Section B, but never Section C or lower.  Do you understand?”

The editor nodded.  “I understand.”

Uday lightly slapped the editor’s cheek with the palm of his hand.  “I am not convinced.  Another week for you.”

“Oh no,” the editor said as he lowered his head, defeated.

Indeed, many of the torture victims in the dungeon were people who had offended Uday in relation to one of his many ceremonial titles.  There were a few victims though, who were there because they accidentally bumped into Uday, or cut him off in traffic, or wore the same outfit he did to a social function, or broke wind in the same elevator he was in, or took the last slice of pizza, or, well, it didn’t take much to end up in Uday’s torture chamber.

As the explosions continued outside, Uday realized he didn’t have time to whip everyone, so he focused his attention on the one victim that had truly outraged him the most.  It was a frail, toothless, gray haired old woman, over ninety years of age.  Her head was slumped over and her eyes were closed.  It looked like she wouldn’t be able to take much more abuse.

“Traitorous bitch!” Uday shouted as he cracked the whip again and again.  One, two, three, four, five times in quick secession.  The old woman was beyond the capacity to scream now.  She had lost all control of her mental faculties and was simply waiting for death.

“How dare you breathe the same air as I, knowing full well the horrific atrocity you committed?”  Uday asked.

The victim did not respond.

“What do you have to say for yourself?”  Uday asked.  “How do you justify your vile crime?”

The old woman opened one eye.  “Ughhh…”

Uday backhanded the lady across the face.  “Answer me!”

“Ughhh…”

Uday spat in the old woman’s face.

“Sir,” the first goon said.  “Forgive a lowly dog like me for interrupting.  I know you know that we must go but imbecile that I am, I feel the need to remind you that we must go.”

“Yes,” Uday said as he dropped the whip.  He gave the old woman a kiss on the cheek.  “I’m sorry, Grandma, but you keep putting raisins in my cookies even though you know I hate them.  This is the only way you’ll ever learn.”

“Ughhh,” Grandma Hussein replied.

Uday punched a key code.  The door opened.  This time he and his goons found himself in an armory.  Machine guns.  Pistols.  Revolvers.  Heavy weapons.  Every last firearm was plated in solid gold.  The psycho pulled a golden AK-47 off the wall and used a strap to sling it over his shoulder.  He then grabbed his favorite piece – a .45 caliber Desert Eagle handgun made out of 45 karat gold.

“Mmm,” Uday said as he sniffed the barrel.  “I have so many happy memories of this gun.”

“Yes, sir,” the first goon said.

“I shot my first babysitter with this gun,” Uday said.

“Yes, sir,” the first goon said.

“I shot my first girlfriend with this gun,” Uday said.

“Yes, sir.”

“I shot that degenerate son of a motherless street dog who parked in my space with this gun,” Uday said.

“Yes, sir.”

“And that piece of shit waiter who ground way too much pepper on my steak,” Uday said.

“You had clearly said when, sir,” the first goon said.

“I shot my first wife with this gun,” Uday said.

“She was most unworthy, sir,” the first goon said.

Uday raised a quizzical brow.  “Didn’t I shoot your wife with this gun?”

The first goon sighed and choked back the desire to give a derogatory response.  He knew that doing so would only end with him getting shot with that gun.  “Yes, sir.  And I thank you for it.  She was the worst.”

Uday grabbed a golden RPG launcher off the wall and handed it to the first goon.  He grabbed a golden bazooka and handed it to the second goon.  He then grabbed a golden revolver and tucked it into the waist band of his tighty whities.  He grabbed his X-Tab Mini, the most popular music playing device at the time, plugged his earbuds into it, then tossed the device into his other pocket.

The wannabe prince punched some numbers into another keypad and walked into another room.  It was Uday’s private disco club, where revelers where on standby, sleeping in leather chairs and couches. A few were scattered around the floor while others nodded off at the bar.  A drowsy DJ with a flattop hair cut noticed his boss enter and perked up immediately.

“Oh, hey, everybody!” the DJ said into a microphone as he flipped some buttons, bringing his turntables to life.  “Uh…what a delightful surprise!  Our very own Supreme Party Master is in the house.  Make some noise!”

The DJ flipped some more switches.  An electro beat played.  Lots of drums and cymbals.  Bump bump bump bump chicka chicka bump bump bump bump.  More switches.  Lights throughout the club flashed different colors – red, blue, green, yellow, orange and purple.

One by one, the tired partiers, who were all expected to hang out in the club at all hours on the off chance that Uday felt like partying, sat up.  Like exhausted zombies, they trudged to the dance floor and wiped the crust from their eyeballs.

The DJ flipped a switch and a disco ball hanging from the ceiling began to spin, bathing the room in soft, twinkly light.  “Everybody make some noise!”

“Ergh,” was the collective response from the well-dressed but poorly rested party people.

Not wanting to be fed to Uday’s lions like the last five DJs that came before him, this DJ held up an airhorn and pressed the button three times.  BRAMP! BRAMP! BRAMP!  “I said, ‘make some noise’ you traitorous dogs!  Your Supreme Party Master is here!!!”

The partiers were awake now.  They cheered and applauded and danced.  “Wooo!  Yeah!”

A beautiful young woman in a red mini dress walked up to Uday.  She read from a prepared speech that had been typed up on a sheet of paper.  “Ahem.  Oh, Great and Glorious Party Master.  I am very much smitten with your manly, virile ways and would enjoy it very much if you were to take me, right here and right now.  Use all of my orifices so that I might know such gratifying pleasure and impregnate me with your manly seed.  FYI, I am saying this not because my mother, father, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and pets are tied up in a basement, but because I really am madly and passionately in love with you, oh Great Party Master.”

Uday pointed his gat at the disco ball and shot it out, scattering broken mirror shards everywhere.  The music cut out and the party screeched to a halt.

“Not now, a-holes!” Uday cried as he walked up to one last keypad.  After punching in the numbers, he and his goons found themselves walking down an incredibly long hallway.  The walls were golden and the floors were pure white marble.

Uday dropped his sunglasses over his eyes, popped his earbuds in, and pressed play. In his mind, he imagined himself and his cronies walking in slow motion as though they were the stars of one of his favorite American action flicks.  Stank Daddy’s Shoot a Bitch filled his ears:

Stank Daddy in da crib, gonna shoot a bitch.

              Bust out my nine, gonna shoot a bitch.

              Nah, it ain’t no crime just to shoot a bitch.

              Best check yoself, before I shoot a bitch.

The whack job pulled his buds out as he and his goons reached a grand foyer, which featured giant, Roman style columns and a waterfall that chugged H20 into the air all day and night long, even though the country’s peasants often had to stand in line for hours just to get a bucket of bacteria ridden drinking water.

In the center of the room stood Qusay, two years his big bro’s junior.  Unlike his bro, Qusay had actual responsibilities.  He stood at attention, wearing a crisply pressed military uniform and beret, surrounded by a dozen elite guards.

“Supreme Security Forces Commander!” one of the guards said as he saluted his boss.  “We await your wise and noble orders!”

“Guard those doors,” Qusay said as he pointed to the palace entrance.  “Meet the disgusting American scum head on and fight bravely, knowing that your reward in the afterlife awaits you.”

The guards assembled in front of the set of golden double doors that led into the palace.  Qusay smiled when he saw Uday approach.

“Ahh, big brother!” Qusay said.  “So nice of you to interrupt your beauty sleep to join us though honestly, it looks like you could use a few more hours…or days…or years.”

Any other man who spoke to Uday like that would have been shot dead already, but the psycho did so enjoy exchanging barbs with his sibling.  “Hello, little brother,” he said as he hugged Qusay.  “You look like a homosexual G.I. Joe.  How many penises have you caught in your kung-fu grip?”

Qusay smirked.  “Me?  You look like a Persian Barry Gibb.”

Uday smirked back and waited for another zinger.  “You look like Ali Baba and the 40 Pips.”

“Okay,” Uday said.  “One more.”

“If Chaka Khan and Cat Stevens had a baby…”

Uday lost his smirk.  “Okay, that’s enough.  Brother, what’s going on?”

“The American dogs have penetrated our defenses and are in the city.”

Uday held up his hand cannon and fired a shot into the ceiling out of sheer anger.  “Sons of bitches!”

“Damn it, Uday!” Qusay said.  “You know how the Supreme Papa hates it when you shoot that thing in the house.”

Uday nodded as he lowered his weapon.  He walked over to a 70-inch television, which was playing local coverage of the invasion.  A female Iraqi newscaster spoke.

“Good evening, fellow Iraqi citizens,” the newswoman said.  “I am Adiya al-Shuri and you’re watching Saddam TV – all Saddam, all the time.  If you are watching anything but Saddam TV, please report yourself to the police immediately.  Viewers, as you may have noticed, there have been several explosions throughout the city and some of you have called in with concerns that the American invasion of our country may be successful.  Here, with more on this is our very own Minister of Propaganda, Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, better known as Baghdad Bob.  Muhammad?”

The screen split.  Adiya remained on the left-hand side of the screen. A large, bespectacled man wearing a military uniform appeared on the right side.  He was broadcasting amidst the charred rubble of downtown Baghdad.  “Hello,” Baghdad Bob said into a microphone.  “Adiya, can you hear me?”

“I can hear you,” Adiya said.  “Propaganda Minister, what is the situation like where you are?”

“It’s excellent, Adiya,” Baghdad Bob said.  “I have had the great privilege of speaking to our Supreme President, the one and only Saddam Hussein himself, glory be unto his name, may he live a thousand years for as we all know, his snots cure cancer and his farts cure AIDS.  The Supreme President assures me that as we speak, the treacherous American invasion is being repelled by our ruggedly manly Iraqi soldiers, who have been fighting like PCP addicted cobras, whereas the Americans fight like little school girls on their first periods.  This will be a shameful loss for the Yankee swine, to be sure.”

“That is wonderful news indeed,” Adiya said.  “Tell us, oh great Propaganda Minister, is there anything else our viewers should know?”

Baghdad Bob pressed two fingers up against his earpiece.  “Yes.  Adiya, I have just been informed that the war is over.  Hours ago, Saddam personally swam across the Atlantic Ocean and singlehandedly murdered all American forces with his dick.”

Adiya appeared shocked by this statement.  “His…”

“His mighty phallus, Adiya, yes,” Baghdad Bob said.  “Saddaam’s penis is massive and potent, whereas the average American penis is shriveled and disgusting, like a worm that wiggled out of the sand during the rain and can no longer find its home, so it just waits there on the sidewalk, all limp and defeated, ready to die.  Saddam used his penis as a machete and chopped off the heads of all American infidels who dared oppose him.  He is now in the Whitehouse as we speak, forcing the wretched pig George W. Bush to watch as he fornicates with Mrs. Bush.”

“Ahh,” Adiya said.  “So, that means…”

“Saddam is now the President of the United States, yes,” Baghdad Bob said.  “It is a little-known American law that if you are able to turn the U.S. president into a cuck by fornicating with the First Lady in the president’s presence, then you become the de facto president.  My reliable sources inform me that First Lady Laura Bush was so unsatisfied by Bush’s microscopic donger, that she cried out in ecstasy when Saddam arrived and begged our Supreme Leader to take her, right there in the Oval Office as that sniveling weasel Bush was left with no choice but to watch and eat popcorn as he learned how a real man pleasures a woman.”

“This all sounds legit,” Adiya said.

“Indeed,” Baghdad Bob said.  “So, to everyone watching at home, there is no need to worry.  Saddam is the President of America now and his first official act was to call off the invasion.”

With his eyes glued to the TV screen, Uday breathed a sigh of relief.  “Oh, thank God.  The Supreme Papa has saved us all.”

Qusay patted his brother on the back.  “It’s the Propaganda Minister.”

“So?” Uday asked.

“So, he tells the lies that the Supreme Papa tells him to say so the peasants won’t surrender,” Qusay said.

“Aww, shit,” Uday said.

Back to the show.  “Propaganda Minister,” Adiya said.  “Despite your good news, I am told that the American invasion of Baghdad continues.”

“Yes,” Baghdad Bob said.  “The Americans are fat, lazy and stupid and that is a very dangerous trifecta, Adiya.  Unfortunately, their communications system is in disarray, so the Yankee dogs on the ground here have not yet received the message that Bush has been cucked.  We have no doubt that in time, they will learn of this news and lay down their weapons, but in the meantime, all Iraqi citizens are urged not to surrender.  If you see any Americans in your neighborhood, please shoot them or stab them or in a pinch, you might throw a shoe or a rock or your own feces in their general direction.”

“Should our viewers be concerned?” Adiya asked.

“No, not at all,” Baghdad Bob said.  “I have it on good authority that American soldiers are surrendering by the thousands, scared shitless by the sight of our powerful Iraqi troops.  In fact, many Americans have committed suicide by shooting themselves or slitting their wrists or setting themselves on fire.  They rightly decided that it would be better to end their lives quickly than risk a battle with our brave fighting men.”

Behind Baghdad Bob, a group of Iraqi soldiers were marched across the screen with their hands up by gun toting American troops.  Adiya saw it but declined to ask about it.

“Propaganda Minister,” Adiya said.  “Is there any truth to the rumor that American tank battalions have reached Baghdad?”

As Baghdad Bob spoke, a big green tank rolled behind him, making its way across the screen.  “No truth whatsoever, Adiya.  The Americans are lying devils and they manage to get their lies out there but rest assured, there are no U.S. tanks in Baghdad.”

“Do you have any further information, Propaganda Minister?”  Adiya asked.

A duo of American soldiers walked up to Baghdad Bob and handcuffed him.  “No, that’s all for now, Adiya,” Baghdad Bob said as he was pulled away, kicking and screaming.  “Thank you for having me on the program and all Iraqis can be assured that the Americans are getting it up the ass and will be the laughingstock of the world when this is over!  Back to you!”

“Shit,” Uday said.  “This is bad, isn’t it?”

Qusay switched the channel to the American liberal news station, WNN, or the Woke News Network.  An American journalist in a flack jacket appeared in front of a destroyed building.

“I’m Fred Johnson, here in Baghdad, where George Bush’s unilateral, immoral, illegal and unjustified war on the sovereign nation of Iraq has begun.  American troops are literally decapitating babies and using the disembodied heads as hacky sacks, just so Bush can personally steal all of this nation’s oil reserves and get rich like the dirty Republican fuck face that he is.  You know, as a journalist, I try to stay impartial but honestly, I just gotta say it.  George W. Bush is literally worse than Hitler.”

“Alright, WNN,” Uday said.  “I love these guys.”

Qusay turned the channel to the American conservative station, Network News One.  A young Kurt Manley appeared at the anchor desk.

“Kurt Manley here, reporting that the U.S. invasion is underway.  U.S. forces are on the ground and already, we have reports of Iraqis tearing down statues of Saddam Hussein and replacing them with statues of President Bush, blessed be his name.  Iraqi citizens have already changed the name of Baghdad to Bushville and the Army Corps of Engineers are hard at work, tearing down mosques and replacing them with fast food joints, an act that the Iraqis actually asked for, because that’s how much they love America.”

“A-holes,” Uday said as Qusay switched off the television.

The sound of footsteps filled the nearby hallway.  Uday and Qusay snapped to attention as they saw their father enter the foyer.  The Supreme President was dressed casually in a black track suit with red stripes and a pair of white sneakers, ready to go on the lamb.

“Can you believe this shit?!”  Saddam asked.  “Americans in Baghdad!  What the fuck?!”

“Fear not, Papa,” Qusay said.  “The situation is under control.”

“Under control, my ass!”  Saddam said.  “There are so many honkies in this city it’s like Baghdad has been turned into a Pier One!”

Uday chuckled, only to be quickly slapped upside the head by his old man.  “And you, dumbass!  Did you do anything to stop it?”

The older brother hanged his head in shame.  “No, Supreme Papa.”

“No, of course not,” Saddam said.  “Look at you.  You look like a Babylonian Rick James.”

Qusay smiled, only to get slapped upside the head.

“Did I say something funny?”

“No, Supreme Papa,” Qusay said as he shook his head

“I expected better from you, Qusay,” Saddam said.  “I expected you to protect this city and you failed me.”

Qusay hanged his head low.  “Sorry, Supreme Papa.”

Saddam pointed at Uday.  “This one.  Whenever it rains, I have to remind him to keep his mouth closed so he doesn’t drown, but you, Qusay.  I definitely expected more from you.”

“I know,” Qusay said.  “I have failed you, Supreme Papa.”

Saddam grimaced at his children, then shook his head and held out his arms.  “Come here.”

Father and sons hugged it out.  “My boys.  Oh, how I love my stupid baby boys.”

Once the hug fest was over, the Supreme Papa had an order.  “Qusay, you’re the Acting Supreme President now.”

Uday threw a fit, stomping his foot on the marble floor.  “But Supreme Papa!  That’s not fair.  I’m the oldest!”

“Yes, well,” Saddam said.  “Oldest isn’t always best, Uday.  I’m sorry, but I gave you your shot to impress me and you wasted your life on drinking and partying and whoring and gambling and underground tiger fighting and cocaine snorting.”

“How many times do I have to tell everyone I’m off the booger sugar?”  Uday asked, patting the plastic bag in his pocket just to make sure it was still there.

“Uday, enough,” Saddam said.  “You can’t be the Supreme President.  You are nuttier than squirrel shit.  The way you act.  Shooting people in the face because they spilled a drink on your shoes. It’s unseemly, even for me.”

Uday rolled his eyes.  “Oh, come on.  Like you and Qusay have never had someone shot because they spilled a drink on your shoes.”

“Yes,” Saddam said.  “But there’s a difference between what we do and what you do.”

“We don’t blow a guy’s head off in the middle of a crowded night club, Uday,” Qusay said.  “We wait a year after they offend us, plant some incriminating evidence on them and then have them executed as enemies of the state.”

“All fully sanctioned by the Code of Saddam and perfectly legal in a Court of Saddam Law,” Saddam said.

Uday shook his head.  “Damn it.  I knew I should have gone to Saddam Law School.”

BOOM! The explosions drew near.  Everyone lost their balance and struggled to regain their footing as the palace was rocked by the earthquake-like blast.

A flip-phone in Qusay’s pocket rang.  The Supreme Security Forces Commander took the call.  “Hello.  Go for Qusay.”

The person on the other end of the line didn’t speak.  Only his breathing could be heard.

“Who is this?” Qusay asked.

Finally, the caller answered in a Southern drawl.  “Don’t mess with Texas.”

“Oh, shit,” Qusay said.

“Listen, Hoss, you go ahead and you put your pappy on the line, pronto.”

Qusay rolled his eyes as he passed the phone to his old man.  “A call for you.”

“Who is it?” Saddam asked.

Qusay offered no reply but a deadpan glare.  Saddam’s eyes widened as he spoke into the receiver.  “George?!”

“Howdy Saddam.  How y’all holdin’ up?”

“Great!” Saddam replied.  “We’re doing just fine!  I’ve tied up all of your generals and I’m butt raping them as we speak.”

Saddam looked to his sons, urging them to play along with the ruse.

“Oh…uh…ow!” Uday said.  “Not my butt!”

“Ouch,” Qusay added.  “Anything but my butt!”

“Nice try, kemo sabe,” POTUS 43 replied.  “But I didn’t just fall off the cabbage train yesterday, buckaroo.  Now lookie here, Saddam old boy, why don’t you do us all a favor and come on out of there with your hands in the air and wave them around like you just don’t care?”

“I do care!” Saddam shouted into the receiver.  “This is my country, assface!”

“Not anymore, dipstick,” Bush said.  “All them tanks rollin’ up on your joint would say otherwise.”

“Look George,” Saddam said.  “I know you think you’re a big, swinging dick but trust me, Iraq is not a place you want.  I wouldn’t wish this shithole on my worst enemy which, coincidentally, is you, you inbred hillbilly assclown. Just do yourself a favor.  Call this shit off immediately.”

“Call it off?” Bush asked.  “Why in the name of Sam Houston’s dingus would I do that?  Hell, invading Iraq is the best Idea I’ve ever had.”

“It is the worst idea you’ve ever had.”

“You think?”

“I know.”

“Hmm,” Bush said.  “I don’t know.  I think this idea is pretty damn solid.  Hell, I think that ten, twenty years down the road, this idea is going to really hold up.”

Saddam slapped his forehead.  “George, listen to me.  Do you have any idea how this country was created?”

“Hell, if I know,” Bush said.  “The head camel jockey found a sword in a cave or some bullshit?”

“No,” Saddam said.  “After World War I, a bunch of old British fucks with shaky palsy hands scribbled some lines on a map at random and carved out a nation that looked like it was drawn by a Kindergarten class, shoving all kinds of groups that totally despise one another into one giant festering powder keg.  You’ve got Sunni.  You’ve got Shia.  You’ve got Yazidis.  You’ve got Kurds.  You’ve got so many conflicting ideologies and the only thing that keeps them from completely tearing the country apart is me threatening to hack them all into pieces and skull fuck their mothers while their fathers are forced to watch at gunpoint.  That’s what it takes to keep some miniscule semblance of order around here.  Do you really want to do that?  No, you don’t.  Your pussified Western media will never stand for it even if you did.  Get out while you can, George.  You will never, ever, ever be able to hold down this fort full of odiferous assholes for any considerable amount of time without draining your treasury and suffering heavy casualties.”

Bush laughed.  “Lies!  Everyone knows that the Iraqis are a good and just people and their only problem is you, dickhead!  My advisors assure me that once you’re gone, Iraqis from all kinds of diverse backgrounds will rally together and turn that crap hole into a genuine, bonafide, Western style democracy.  Hell, your people are gonna love us Americans so much that they’re gonna Americanize the shit outta that place.  I’m talkin’ high-priced coffee shops and burger joint drive-throughs on every corner.  Shoppin’ malls and barbecues.  Hoot nannies and square dance parlors.  Sitcoms where the sassy kid is the boss.  Reality TV shows.  Dames in short skirts, runnin’ around, bossin’ your menfolk into an early grave. I’m tellin’ you, Cochise.  The Iraqi people are gonna love the freedom I’m servin’ up to them so much that they’re goina be shittin’ red, white and blue for years to come.”

Saddam tossed his hand up and down in front of his crotch, pretending to jerk himself off out of sheer boredom.  “Oh, yes, Mr. President.  You sure do know what the Iraqi people want…not!”

“Listen, fartknocker…”

“No, you listen, asswipe,” Saddam said.  “Have you even thought about Iran?”

“What about it?”

“The Ayatollah and I have been in a perpetual dick measuring contest for nearly a quarter-century now.  Who is going to beat back the Ayatollah’s dick if my dick isn’t around?”

“Uh, hello,” Bush said.  “Have you not been listenin’ this entire time?  When the Iraqis fully embrace Western style democracy and become a Middle Eastern version of America, they’ll band together and chop the Ayatollah’s dick clean off.”

Saddam sighed.  “I can’t believe you sold your people on this shit.”

The Supreme President turned to Qusay and covered the receiver with his hand.  “I can’t even deal with this guy right now.  He thinks he’s just going to invade and then everyone is going to fart rainbows out of their assholes and hold hands and sing kum bai yah.”

“Just tell him to fuck off and hang up,” Qusay said.

“Yes,” Saddam said as he removed his hand from the receiver.  “George?  I have to go so please fuck off so I can hang up now.”

“This is your last warning, Saddam,” Bush said.  “You and your boys get your asses outside with your hands up or my boys are going to shoot you all full of so much lead that you’ll be able to use your dicks to take the SATs.”

“OK,” Saddam said.  “I’m hanging up now.  Give my best to your father and his wrinkly old ass.  I can’t believe out of all of you he was the smart one in the family.  Goodbye.”

The Supreme President hovered his finger over the end button, then held the receiver up to his mouth again.  “George?”

“Sup?”

“The strangest thought just came over me,” Saddam said.

“Let’s hear it.”

“What if, and follow me on this one, say, fifteen years or so from now, our countries are run by assholes that are so smelly that they make the people yearn for you and I fondly, so much so that they remember our assholes as being as fragrant as roses?”

Bush mulled the question over.  “So, what?”

“I don’t know.”

“Like a bunch of terrorists just take over part of Iraq and I don’t know, part of Syria, and then just create their own terrorist country full of terrorists that just sit around and do terrorist shit all day?”

“Maybe,” Saddam said.

“And then what?” Bush asked.  “America ends up being run by, oh, I don’t know, say, obnoxiously rude serial philanderer billionaire businessman Vinny Stugotz?”

Bush and Saddam were quiet for a moment until they both busted out into laughter.

“Oh, thank you, Mr. President,” Saddam said.  “I needed that.”

“That’s crazy talk, Saddam.  Get your ass outside and surrender and I’ll make sure you and your mongoloid sons aren’t manhandled when you’re taken into custody.”

“Eat a dick, George.”

“Alright then,” Bush said.  “Have it your way.  The Scorched Eagles are en route.  Adios.”

Saddam felt the bottom of his stomach fall out as he gave the phone back to Qusay.

“Supreme Papa,” the younger son said.  “You don’t look well.  What is it?”

“The Scorched Eagles,” Saddam replied.

“Shit,” Qusay said.

“Well, we’re so screwed that there’s no point in hiding this anymore,” Uday said as he pulled out his cocaine baggie and served himself up a snort.

“Time is running out,” Saddam said.  “And I have one last directive for you boys before I cast myself off into exile.  Tell me, where is my…”

Saddam gulped as though he were choking on words he did not want to say.  “…other son?”

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Where Would You Travel To?

Hey 3.5 readers.

Suppose money wasn’t an object.  Some generous benefactor will donate a trip to any country you want to visit.  It won’t be a rich, luxury trip to all the best hotels and restaurants and such.  We’ll say it’ll be a middle class trip.  You’ll stay somewhere relatively comfortable and be able to go on excursions and see the sights and so on.

Anyway, where would you go and why?

Me personally?  Hmm.  Maybe this is wrong but I’d like to go anywhere in Western Europe.  England, Scandanavia, Germany, Spain, Italy and so on.  Or Australia.  Honestly, there are a lot of places in America I’d like to see.

In theory, India, Thailand, China, pretty much anywhere else seem interesting but I fear because I don’t know the language I might make a mistake and not be able to talk myself out of it and end up in jail forever.  It’s probably silly but I keep thinking of the little known Claire Danes movie “Brokedown Palace” about two teen girls who, on a whim, go on a summer vacay to Thailand.  Some dude stashes some drugs in their bags unbeknownst to them and they end up spending life in a Thai prison with only Bill Pullman trying to save them.

Probably unlikely but hey, you never know.

I also like nice, warm tropical places.  I like the Caribbean.  I also like Florida.  Honestly, it is my sincere hope that you 3.5 readers will buy enough of my books that I will be able to buy a nice spread in Florida.  So if you could each buy like 1 million of my books, that would be great.  Frankly, 1 million copies of my writing prompts e-book sounds like a good investment to me.

Where would you go, 3.5 readers?

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