If you're not angry, then you're not caring hard enough.
Like many middle-class, middle-aged men, I’ve begun the surprisingly laborious process of creating a “man cave.”
The premise of a man cave is simple enough: devote a room of the house wholly your own, sans the entrapments of civility inherited by marriage. A stroll through my home is a coordinated, handsomely furnished experience notably absent of beer hall mirrors, sports paraphernalia and softball trophies. My Y chromosome could use a man cave.
The space set aside for my man cave is less cave and more hole – about 300 windowless sq-feet. My manliness requires little space, so I’m not complaining. Still, I had to delete the swimming pool from the blueprint.
My vision of the manhole (as I’ve begun calling it) is frustratingly blurry and undefined. I have some mandatories: a secret-door entrance, an antique desk decorated with a real human skull, a suit of armor, recessed speakers emitting smooth jazz, a forged diary confessing to fictitious murders, and maybe a neon beer light.
It was easy enough to buy (for far too much) an antique desk. But to my chagrin, I discovered that a real human skull will set you back a couple thousand dollars. Even the fake ones are pricey. Additionally, I know somebody who will draft plans for a secret door, but no one who will actually build one. At least these are challenges fit for a man and his manhole.
Without a budget to acquire new appropriations, I reviewed the inventory of hairy-chested items currently at my disposal: a Batman themed bong, a slightly broken Herman Miller chair, a vintage movie poster of Father Goose, a rubber werewolf mask, a copy of Grey’s Anatomy, a water color of a horse-drawn carriage I painted in high school, a seedy ottoman, a GoDaddy Bowl football signed by Gus Malzahn, a cork bulletin board and an old studio photo of Claudia Cardinale from Once Upon a Time in the West. Not bad.
“You know, that’s the first thing you see,” said Mrs. Angry, pointing to the Claudia Cardinale photo tacked to my bulletin board.
“So she’s naked.”
“She’s wearing a bath towel.”
Waves of disapproval. Already, my manhole was compromised. I took down the photo of a semi-naked Italian actress and replaced it with a snapshot of my son’s ultrasound.
After ordering and assembling an inexpensive swivel chair from Target, I arranged my pieces so that I had at least a start on my manhole. With pride, I snapped a picture and posted it on Facebook.
“It looks like a school office,” somebody remarked.
Well, yeah. I wanted someplace where I could sit down and write. That’s what a manhole is for, correct?
“Where’s the 60-inch TV? The PlayStation? The vintage 80s sports posters?”
I don’t really have that. Listen, I like sports, but sports as décor isn’t really my thing. Did this unsporting attitude impugn the integrity of my manhole? I have a Hamed Haddadi basketball jersey. Perhaps with proper framing from Michael’s, I could hang that up.
The manhole is currently a work in progress. I’d like to rip out the carpet and put in some basketball court hardwood. (That’s kind of sporty.) I have visions of punching out a window over the desk. Maybe I’ll raid an old graveyard for the skull, I don’t know.
Meanwhile, I need to find more discreet location for Ms. Cardinale.
You know that on Easter, I enjoy watching The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston.* I own a copy on popular DVD format. (Two discs, plus the bonus features I will likely never watch.) The movie runs for 220 minutes. Watching The Ten Commandments requires a full 15% of your entire Easter.
Such devotion compels me to contemplation. I study Heston’s performance and note the similarities of his roles. For example Charlton Heston spends a tremendous amount of screen time without a shirt, and often in some form of bondage. Take three of his more famous movies: Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, and Planet of the Apes. See? We love stripping and chaining Charlton Heston. Perhaps it was a bullet point in his studio contract. The pressure on Heston to remain in good bare-chested, chained-up shape must have been enormous.
What strikes me most about The Ten Commandments is the change in Heston’s Moses after communing with God on the mountain. Pre-Burning Bush Moses was dashing and romantic. He was always scrapping with bullies and catching the eye of sex-starved maidens. Sure, he could be annoyingly over-achieving (a brilliant military general and a brilliant engineer?), but at least he didn’t allow his professional interests to impede upon his pillow talk.
Consider one of Heston’s lines to his hot wife just before chatting with the Lord:
“Your eyes are as sharp as they are beautiful!”
Bear in mind that The Ten Commandments is loaded with similar Shaft-like pearls. Two hours into the film, Heston is sinking these bon mots like routine free throws. You barely even notice. However, this is the last time Heston’s Moses lays on the charm. The fire of God fails to consume the bush, but it successfully purges Heston’s panache.
In fact, Post-Burning Bush Moses might be an accomplished liberator, but he’s a lousy husband. Pressured with the Exodus, the weight of God’s expectations, and with the Egyptian army hot on his heels, you can forgive Moses for being a little distant at the dinner table. But would it kill him to have a coffee with Mrs. Moses every now and then?
You know what would have been nice? Inviting Mrs. Moses to join him on the trip up Mount Sinai. “Let’s take a walk, babe. We’ll pack a lunch, take our time, and lug down God’s almighty law to the Hebrews.” Chicks like that.
Maybe nothing lowers your T more than an important assignment from God. Last thing I want to do is hold hands with the wife and watch Downton Abbey after a hard day of work. But man, you got to power through that shit if you want your marriage to last, Moses. Leave your work at the office.
In the end, God rewards Moses’ sacrifice of the best years of his life by denying him entry into the Promised Land. The particulars aren’t clear: some clerical error involving a rock and water. But maybe that was only the official reason for the permanent file. Maybe God just wasn’t cool with Moses’ fuddy-duddy attitude. Maybe He was like, “Man, we already have Joshua and Aaron bringing down the party with their boring lectures. You just need to bail, Moses.”
You will also note that, after the Burning Bush, Charlton Heston keeps his shirt on for the remainder of the film.
*You likely did not know this
The United States is the greatest country in the world. It’s not even close. Other nations want to be us. We occupy the corner booth at the night club. We are the undisputed land of the free and the home of the brave.
And Fox News wants to save us from this.
Specifically, Sean Hannity wants to “save America,” presumably because Glen Beck failed to “restore America’s honor.” Thanks Sean. Appreciate your concern, Glen. America doesn’t need saving. We’re already awesome.
We are a country of unprecedented freedoms. We’re permitted to cross state borders without submitting papers to armed patrols. We’re allowed to fly airplanes, purchase firecrackers*, join hate groups, alter our appearances with plastic surgery, control our own reproductive systems, change our sexual genders, worship God and gods, assemble in large groups, protest the government we elect, create offensive art, start a business, drive a motorcycle across the country, shirk military service, quote Atlas Shrugged like it’s the Bible, watch The Bachelor, divorce as often as you like, download porn and bomb-making instructions from a free world wide web, bring a concealed weapon into church**, do the Harlem Shake, write poorly edited blogs, shout “ahoy” to girls in bikinis, and drink all the booze we want.
For lunch today, I was afforded a selection of three sandwich cheeses.
There’s nothing wrong with America! Go save Somalia, Sean. Restore the honor of Malawi, Glen! They could use your penetrating insight into the erosion of the human condition. Because we’re doing just fine here, Jack.
Fox News, with all its influence and “journalistic” power, is playing upon fears and paranoia. Have you every read FoxNews.com and felt good about our country? Has Fox & Friends (the Morning Show for Curmudgeons) ever supported anything that didn’t defy the separation between church and state? Is Karl Rove still claiming a victory for Mitt Romney?
America is awesome, y’all. I know because I recently bought a new Dodge Challenger at a ridiculously low interest rate. I dropped my kids off at school 100% certain that they wouldn’t be kidnapped and conscripted into a child army. When I shop at the grocery tonight, I’ll have an insane selection of meats to choose from.
God, I know the United States isn’t perfect. We have nuts shooting up theaters and schools, and nuts defending their ability to do it. Our government is sloppy with spending. The healthcare is pricey. Sometimes, my high-speed Internet runs a little slow. I’ll take these inconveniences over experiencing the best day in Congo.
Quit stomping on America, Fox News. Rupert Murdoch is not the future of this country. Gays are going to marry. Assault weapons are going back on restriction. Women (and men, damnitt) will control their own reproduction. Young people will continue to surprise you by showing up at polls. We’re tired of your gloomy-ass shit, Fox News. We’re tired of you hating America.
Take a day off and enjoy freedom.
*Some states are a little less lenient with fireworks than others.
**In Arkansas, you can pack heat in church, just like Jesus did.
My nine-year-old son plays basketball. It’s one of those popular church leagues where somebody delivers a sermon at halftime. Last week, or the week before maybe, the man doing the sermonizing told a moving tale about his good-for-nothing son who wasted his entire college fund getting krunk in Las Vegas. Except, it wasn’t true! Psyche! He didn’t even have a son! He was just modernizing a dusty piece of scripture.
I’m no theologian, but I recall “lying” being frowned upon in most Biblical circles. Maybe it’s okay if your audience isn’t really listening.
For a kid who’s not quite ten, my son isn’t a bad basketball player. He hasn’t much shooting range, but he can bring the rock down the court fairly quickly, and he occasionally jukes out opponents with a nifty between-the-legs dribble. He can also knock down his free throws, which is why I was so troubled the morning he bricked seven of eight attempts.
BANG! CLANG! KLUNK!
It was like watching Steven Tyler forget the lyrics of “Walk This Way.” What the hell was going on?
“What the hell is going on?” whispered Mrs. Angry, but I had no answers. The referee might as well have handed my son a piano and asked him to bank it in.
BONG! KITCK! TING! PONK!
That my son was even receiving so many free throw opportunities was an aberration. Nine-year-old basketball is very similar to squirrel basketball. How do you whistle a foul on squirrels?
Finally, my son nailed a free throw. One out of eight! That’s a 12.5 FT% only Shaquille O’Neil would envy. Micheal J. Fox in Teen Wolf looked more convincing at the charity stripe.
“He made one!” said Mrs. Angry happily, but I continued to stew moodily in my dismay. One out of eight! I blamed my genetics, a notoriously inferior strain of basketball DNA. I recalled my one-year of organized hoops and shivered. The terrible family curse had been passed down to my son! My poor son! A victim of cruel fate.
The game ended, but the score that mattered to me was one-out-of eight. As I weaved my way through the scrum of listless parents and hyperactive children, I formed a plot against destiny. My son would practice his shooting every day! We’d study the very best players in the world and emulate their mechanics! I’d sign him up to a basketball camp, and he’d go, damnit, whether he wanted to or not! I would purge the Curse from my son’s otherwise impeccable genes!
Energized with raw determination, I caught up to my son, who was cheerfully sucking down a cup of Gatorade.
“Great game, son!” I said between clenched teeth.
“Thanks!” said my son. I waited for him to mention the seven missed free throws. One-out-of-eight! But with no mention forthcoming, I took it upon myself to broach the topic.
“Soooo…what happened with your free throws, man?”
Furrowed brow. “What do you mean?”
I just couldn’t take it any more. “ONE OUT OF EIGHT! You only made one free throw!”
“Yeah,” said my son, smiling widely, “but it was a swish!”
And that’s when I learned a lesson that not even a billion half-time sermons could teach me.
The Academy Awards is about honoring movies that a bunch of pretentious gas bags find worthy of interest. I know this to be kind-of-true because of all the films nominated this year, I’ve seen one. One!
Which is too bad, because I know a lot about movies. Lots. I quote my favorite lines. I cast myself in my favorite scenes and reenact them in my brain. I like movies. I love hating movies, too. I’m more than willing to explain to you why Tombstone is a load of shit.
Normally, this would be a boring list of my favorite movies featuring a pompous explanation for why they’re so damn awesome. Screw that. This is 2013. We ain’t got no time for entire movies. The Angry Czeck’s Academy breaks shit down by scene. And these scenes are the boss, y’all.
The Angry Czeck’s Most Boss Movie Scenes of All Time
Alex Tries to Make His Stupid Horse Stop Running (The Black Stallion)
It’s the “Race of the Century” and all Alex cares about is if his damn horse is okay. Watching him plead with The Black to stop running probably chokes me up way more than it should, but you can just go to hell, you insensitive bastard.
Chaz Tells His Dad “I’ve had a rough year.” (The Royal Tenenbaums)
Not only am I a sucker for long, uninterrupted dolly-moves, I’m a real douche-bag for sappy moments between estranged fathers and sons. You might say, “That makes you weak, Angry Czeck. WEEEEEAK!” but you can just go to hell, you insensitive bastard.
Rocky Groans for His Girlfriend (Rocky)
I like training sequences as much as the next hairy-chested man, but the best moment in Rocky is Stallone ignoring a mob of fans and boxing officials to summon his main squeeze into the ring. Bonus points to Pauly for lifting the rope for her. That was just nice, you know? Go to hell!
Beeeee Goooood (E.T. The Extraterrestrial)
Go to hell, you insensitive bastards.
“O Captain, My Captain” (Dead Poets Society)
Listen, I’m not a pussy. I just like Robin Williams in roles where he isn’t wearing a dress. And I like seeing privileged white kids rebelliously standing on wooden desks. Okay, maybe I am a pussy, but you can go to hell, you insensitive bastard.
Bedford Falls Buries George in a Big Pile of Cash (It’s a Wonderful Life)
God, everybody shows up. The drunk pharmacist. Mr. Martini. The oppressed maid. That bastard who wanted to withdraw all his savings from the Bailey Building and Loan. All while George is practically sticking his tongue in Donna Reed’s ear. My throat is getting sore just thinking about it. (Go to hell.)
Subotai Cries for Conan (Conan the Barbarian)
“He is Conan, Cimmerian, he won’t cry, so I cry for him.” And then I cried, too! Huge barbarian tears! Go to hell!
Instead of watching some lame, boring award show, just commit this penetrating list of scenes to memory and enjoy the cinema magic. In fact, you don’t even have to watch movies any more.