Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Free-Association and Pinky Bets

So it all starts innocently enough: a beer-fueled free association session of movie trivia. It began when my friend noted that William Shatner (Ok, juvenile moment - I had to look up his name because I couldn't believe I never noticed the "shat" in his last name) was too old to be "doing that role" on that commercial where they take original movie footage and insert a new aside plugging a product. Is it insurance... I forget. Memorable commercials whose product you forget is a topic for another day. Britney Spears did one. "Mini-me" did one...

So I reply to my afore-mentioned friend "hey, he hasn't aged that bad - not like Chevy Chase in that grocery store slap-stick commercial" - again, what was that commercial for? Anyway, in that commercial he looks like his make-up was done by a funeral home. BTW, I now happen to know a funeral home chain owner)

My friend responds with: "You know who aged really poorly - that guy from 48 Hours."
"Ah, that guy that plays the cop?"
"What's his name... oh, Jack Bower."
"No, that's Kiefer Sutherland - this guy played a cop with Eddie Murphy."
"Yeah, he was also on Night Court."

Now let me take an aside to note that I swear he mentioned Night Court. This led me to think he was talking about Harry Anderson. But alas, it wasn't Harry Anderson that I was picturing - it was Judge Reinhold... who looks like Anderson and got stuck in my head because he played a farcical judge in 'Clerks: the Animated Series'.

I'm sure you are curious so let me head you off - I rented Clerks the cartoon thinking it was just "Clerks" the original (which I'd never seen) - the original turns out to be harder to find than say 'Apocalypse Now: Redux'. It is also a movie that is a serious let-down after a lifetime of mournful "you must have crawled from under a large boulder if you haven't seen Clerks" looks. Hey you smug bastards, I feel the same way when you haven't seen 2001. At this juncture I thought I would have a good tie-in, but 'Apocalypse' was directed by Coppola and '2001' was from Kubrick (the alliteration threw me). You want to know my Clerks ignorance? I had no idea it was in black and white. Let me get you back on track with my flashback - Eddie Murphy was in both '48 Hours' and 'Beverly Hills Cop' (48 had 1 sequel, Beverly Hills had 2). They also both feature cops that are "black and white"... eh? see that tie in? eh? Who's the master of free-association now?! And this is exactly how those conspiracy theory chain e-mails get started...

Get on with it! (big crowd)

And I am also a fan of The Holy Grail - the funny one, not that other one that led to the crusades. BTW, there is no mention of the grail in the Bible. True followers prickle at the confusion - they point out that the grail myth is a completely different work of fiction. So back to our story...

My friend was trying to remember Nick Nolte - and he had a point about him aging poorly... I mean, look at those pictures. Other than one shot where he looks a little like Kenny Rogers, he's had a rough lot in life (I've always wondered if the bible was the inspiration to that saying).

If you've stuck with me this long you are either really interested in hearing about that bet, or you completely forgot about it and are just waiting for the funny part. Well, this is it - like life, it is all the funny part... so enjoy it as it happens because there is no punch-line. Except for death. Now that's funny.

All I am trying to do is establish a precedence for what happened next. This is where the story begins for most normal people. My friend, don't-refer-to-me-by-my-haircolor-Laura, and I are talking and somehow got on the topic of being prepared. I forget who quipped about 'The Princess Bride' first, but there was mention of inventorying a wheelbarrow and "have fun storming the castle". If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'm giving you the "you live under a rock" stare right now. After establishing between us that it was Billy Crystal who played Miracle Max ("you know, the guy from City Slickers") I produced the trigger "that girl from Taxi" and she amazingly produced Carol Kane playing Max's wife.

After a pause (and a swig of Guinness - "2 for 1 'till midnight") I wondered out loud - what was the robe that they had in Princess Bride. "You know, the one Andre the Giant had"... and I proceed to butcher an attempt at the pertinent lines from the script. This causes a cloud of thought to descend on her face. We brainstorm to a chorus of "oooh, ooh" and "gawd, I know this".

We poll our friends. We query strangers at the bar. I unsuccessfully attempt to IM Google for the answer. I text a friend who is as weird as I am about looking up questions online. He must have been passed out from Molson XXX or at the laundromat because he didn't reply. Finally, I come up with "cloak". Yes! It is a cloak - but what kind of cloak? I offer up "Chaos Cloak" or possibly "Armageddon Cloak". Laura disagrees on both counts.

The more I say it, the more "Chaos Cloak" rolls off the tongue. She is doubtful, but offers no better answer. After much vexed thought our beer-brewing friend steps in and offers to call his trivia Googling friend. While he is brokering the question Laura and I make the pact. Out come the pinkies - on my end I bet "Chaos Cloak" on hers "anything else". The stakes? A post on our respective blogs, announcing to the world who was right. We clench digits and the bet is sealed!

Now don't jump to conclusions dear reader - you have come too far for me to casually give away the ending. Just because of the bet's nature, my making this post doesn't mean that I necessarily lost the bet. I could be bragging in an extended manner about her failure and my superior trivial knowledge - "gloating" as you will.

Let me take this opportunity to mention her blog Cybermenology - a lovely stop in cyberspace, but I am disdainful at her posting frequency. She's obviously too caught up in hard copy reading (they still print books?)... though I do admire her post lengths, something that I have unintentionally mimicked in this post. It is worth a visit for the icons alone ("oh Ani UR so emo").

So the trivia maven on the phone informed us that it was actually the "holocaust cloak" (don't worry about the off-color reference, the screenplay is by William Goldman). Give me some credit, "holocaust" is squarely in the middle of the lexical continuum between "chaos" and "Armageddon". Oh, was I supposed to lead up to telling you the answer? Maybe there is a punchline after all... but the joke is on you. Yes, that was the life metaphor I was looking for. I mean really, what did you expect - she pulled out Carol Kane from the top of her head. Well, that and the fact that I bet my answer against "everything else". You should have know the answer earlier... I'm not the gloating type.

I guess the moral of the whole story is... well, #1 never to gamble with high stakes. And #2, the human mind is a giant "pattern matching machine". We are damn good at seeing connections and recognizing what we are looking for - even when our brain is hazed by cheap Jameson shots. But remember, sometimes our faculties fail us - so you should always remember lesson #1 ;)

BTW, Mini-Me was played by Verne Troyer, and unless this bio page is wrong, his birthday is 1/1/69. What are the odds - this being a New-Years post? I think I'll start a chain email about it.


J said...

I'm assuming the cheap Jameson shots were still working incredibly when you wrote this post....:-)

frosty said...

Stone cold sober - it takes hours of earnest labor to be that random. Well, not really, but it takes all that time to record it... I find it quite easy to spontaneously produce randomness - I'd probably move to YouTube, but I'm afraid I'd be turned into another "curtain-rod light-saber kid" by someone with more time on their hands than me. Actually, if I could pull that off I'd make my _own_ lightsaber video.
Just don't get the impression I'm a big Star Wars fan - I can only suspend my disbelief so far... I mean, would taking the helmets off allow the storm troopers to hit a human-sized target with a weapon that has a 300,000 km/s muzzle velocity? Oh, sorry - judging by eye, they must be using "slow photons" as ammo.