The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water review

February 26, 2015

Explaining the widespread appeal of the long-running animated Nickelodeon children’s series Spongebob Squarepants to those who take displeasure in its self-proclaimed “nautical nonsense” is one of the most difficult tasks a person can embark on.

It is a challenge that brings to mind the sentiments of Grateful Dead bandleader Jerry Garcia, who claimed that everyone either loved or hated his equally trippy and folksy musical concoctions with no in-betweens. Therefore, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, the series’ second feature length incarnation, will convert no skeptics to embrace the sponge.

Yet for those who enjoy the quirky cartoon and 2004’s confusingly, similarly titled The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, this film will not disappoint. Though the departure of showrunner and marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg resulted in years of mediocre episodes, Hillenburg has returned, and Sponge Out of Water is up to the standards of the show’s 
golden age.

Like many episodes of the show, Sponge Out of Water sees the optimistic and spontaneous SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) saving the reputation of fast food establishment the Krusty Krab from the conniving and inconsistently miniscule rival business proprietor Sheldon Plankton (“Mr.” Doug Lawrence), who persistently plots to obtain the coveted Krabby Patty secret formula in a hapless way not unlike Wile E. Coyote.  Unfortunately, for both of them, a much more competent third party in the form of the outrageous live-action pirate Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas) steals the formula instead, causing the fast food-addicted citizens of the underwater town of Bikini Bottom to destroy their civilization and enter an anarchic post-apocalyptic lifestyle. With even his dim-witted best friend Patrick Star (Bill Fagerbakke) betraying him in a gluttonous rage, SpongeBob teams up with his former foe Plankton in a quest for the lost formula.

This loose and unusual plot allows for a plethora of styles of animation, including a hallucinogenic series of time travel sequences and ultimately a mixture of CGI and live action in which SpongeBob and friends step onto a beach and interact with human beings, which the naïve sponge mistakes for “land porpoises.” Add in a handful of pleasantly forced references to early episodes and a superhero showdown complete with Patrick’s superpower being the ability to conjure ice cream cones, and you have one of the most entertaining, if inessential, children’s films of the year.


February 23, 2015

In my lonely hours I find myself fueled to the stomach by a most bitter gas
Though I attempt to love my peers, I instead chase them out with a child’s garden of retorts
Then I wonder why I am excluded from activities while pitying myself as a suburban sage
Too blind to see that while I hate because I am alone, I am alone because I hate

Accomplishments of others are lambasted and lampooned by my whirling cyclone of a mind
This is because I cannot grant praise for them due to my own personal insecurities
Then I wonder why I am excluded from activities while pitying myself as a suburban sage
Too blind to see that while I hate because I am alone, I am alone because I hate

How much longer will I fail to fulfill my potential of decency in lieu of my petty threatened ego?
And why do I keep on claiming to have grown when I still have a long way to go in development?
And why do I wonder why I am excluded from activities while pitying myself as a suburban sage?
Still too blind to see that while I hate because I am alone, I am alone because I hate.

Lunch Poem 1

December 16, 2014

I’d like a footlong cold cut combo please on wheat
Pepper jack cheese, not toasted
Lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, olives, jalapenos, and banana peppers
Mustard, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper
Chips and a small drink, for here please.

Bowling for Corralberg

November 23, 2014

Detective Paper held this morning’s issue of The Corralberg Chronicle in his callused hands as he sipped a venti cup of decaf coffee. After battling insomnia for multiple months, Paper’s doctor had recommended he switch to decaf, which he found insipid and bland, much unlike the headline on the front page: “Corralberg Bowling Alley Reports Record Number of Gutterballs.” Corralberg historically had the best bowlers in the entire state of Calpurnia, so how could they manage to achieve so many gutterballs with so much athletic talent? Paper didn’t know, but he sensed a conspiracy and hoped the rest of his detective agency did too.
“Pass me the cream,” said Officer Laura Palmhair, Paper’s partner in criminal investigation with benefits, from across the grungy table. Their mutual friend, Junior Detective Bernard, sat hunched in the corner of the room, content with a cold Pop Tart.
“Sure,” said Paper, sliding the condiment across the table. “Laura, how would you like to investigate the Corralberg gutterballs with me?”
“I don’t know, I remember they weren’t pleased when we attempted to investigate the firebombing of their Little Italy back in June,” said Laura, seasoning her coffee with a few dashes of cream. “They have a very rigid, not to mention religious police force who want no foreign detectives embarking on their soil.”
“They did,” corrected Paper. “Unfortunately for them, the Corralberg killer, Keef Smite, offed their two most intrusive officers, Conner and Dustin last year before being given a lifetime sentence in the Tijuana Jail.”
“How’d he get to Tijuana again?” asked Laura.
“It’s very complicated and confusing. I found a book about it in the library a while back and quit reading after the first twelve pages or so,” said Paper. “Same way everyone gets to Tijuana, I guess. But that’s not important now.”
Bernard finished his Pop Tart and eagerly smiled at his two superiors. “Can I go to Corralberg too?”
“Ask your mother,” joked Paper, neglecting the fact that Bernard was currently in his mid-20’s and long free from his overprotective mother’s clutches. “I don’t see much of a problem with it, as long as you remain completely discreet. No using skinheads’ heads as bowling balls or any monkey business like that.”
“Why would I do that?” asked Bernard. “Just because I’m Jewish, huh?”
“God, boy, it was just a joke,” said Paper. “We like to have fun here in Brixton, much as they do in Corralberg. Or San Narciso. Frankly, everyone everywhere likes to have fun, except you for some reason. I don’t know why that is, and we all have more important things to find out. So are you coming or not?”
“I’m coming,” said Bernard. “I haven’t been to Corralberg since my days of Jewish summer camp high in the Corralberg Hills.”
“You were high?” laughed Paper.
“No, the hills were,” snapped Laura. “C’mon, Paper, no more goofing around. We have a mystery to solve and the next bus to Corralberg leaves in 30 minutes, unless you want to walk 600 miles and end up sleeping in hotels in crap towns like Kling City.”
“I’ve got a cousin in Kling City,” said Bernard.
“Well, Bernard makes a pretty convincing argument for Kling City, but I’ll be danged if I’m not taking the bus,” said Paper, and joined his colleagues on a bus trip to Corralberg.

“Dang good decaf here in Corralberg,” said Paper as he sipped perhaps the best decaf he had ever tasted the next morning in the Corralberg Motel.
“Dang good cherry scone,” said Laura.
“Dang good nut log,” said Bernard. “That nut log lady really knew what she was talking about.”
“So how far is it to the Corralberg Bowling Alley?” asked Paper.
“I just got off the phone with a guy named Dave Warson, who’s a youth bowling instructor there. He said that we can’t get in without lifetime memberships,” said Laura.
“Lifetime memberships? What kind of hogwash is that?” exclaimed Paper. “I’ve probably been to three dozen bowling alleys in my life, and I’ve never paid a single one of them a cent in memberships.”
“Paper, don’t worry about money. I already told you, I got enough from my brother Nick’s inheritance.”
“I feel like that’s dirty money, but what the hey,” said Paper, who had always had disdain for Laura’s brother Nick.
“No, dirty money is what the Corralberg Bowling Alley is probably making, fixing the bowling alleys so that even the most talented of bowlers consistently wind up with gutter balls instead of strikes or even spares. The lifetime membership fee is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Laura.
“Have you ever bowled?” Paper asked Bernard.
“A couple of times in college,” said Bernard. “Didn’t your parents die in a bowling competition?”
“Jeez, talk about insensitive questions,” snapped Paper. “No, they died en route to a bowling competition in the Bermuda Triangle. Can you please never talk to me about that again?”
“I’m sorry, my curiosity got the best of me again,” said Bernard.
“Let’s hope that it doesn’t happen again,” said Paper.

Dumb and Dumber To review

November 20, 2014

The Farrelly brothers’ darling dimwitted duo of Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) are back, and this time the laughs are few and far behind.
When Lloyd, who has spent the past 20 years faking catatonia in a Rhode Island psychiatric institution, is approached by Harry about his own pressing medical concerns—a desperate need for a kidney transplant—Lloyd declines in typical inconsiderate carelessness for the only human being on Earth who even gives him the time of day, so the numbskulls set off to find Harry’s old flame, the intrepidly named Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner), whom they believe to be the mother of Harry’s long-lost daughter Penny (Rachel Melvin), who rivals Lloyd and Harry in her idiocy.
However, in ways which succeed at nothing but mild nostalgia of the first film, the shabby plot soon convolutes into a combination of insipid bathroom humor and both uninspired and ultimately irrelevant villainous threats from bumbling antagonists Adele Pinchlow (Laurie Holden) and Travis Lippencott (Rob Riggle), who plot to put the nitwit pair out of their misery.
Even devotees of the first Dumb and Dumber will likely shake their heads in shame at this shoddy excuse for a sequel, as it easily fails to live up to both its predecessor and subsequent Farrelly brothers efforts such as There’s Something About Mary and Kingpin (the poor man’s Big Lebowski).
While the first film at least featured amusing throwaway dialogue like “the Monkees, they were a major influence on the Beatles” as well as memorably asinine soundtrack material including Green Jelly’s piss-take on “The Bear Went Over the Mountain,” the Butthole Surfers’ reverb-heavy caricature of Donovan’s drippy hippie anthem “The Hurdy Gurdy Man,” the sub-Primus bass funk of the Lupins’ “Take,” and even an unexpected appearance by Nick Cave’s sinister epic “Red Right Hand,” audiophiles and audiophobes alike will find little to appreciate here except a brief reprise of Apache Indian’s reggae goof “Boom Shak-A-Lak,” the unofficial theme song of the first film.
Indeed, every flashback to the 1994 film becomes progressively staler, from a tired reference to the infamous “most annoying sound in the world” to a post-credits cameo by retired hockey player Cam Neely as the trashy trucker Sea Bass. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Banana Split Serenade

November 11, 2014

The coffeehouse tonight was a living hell
When the attractive young barista called me a monkey
And I forcefully retreated to the jungle
In pursuit of bananas and cream.

Other Lives

November 11, 2014

While we may barely glance at some people

Each of them plays a vital role in one of our other lives.

Doing It For Her

November 11, 2014

Even though we only meet other week
I find my lost pulse in her
Every conversation brings me back to life
I become the man I used to be
The man people love and miss
With bounce in his step and a smile on his face
And when she leaves me, I start to die again
Wither into nothingness, feel less than a life
Still I do it for her when she’s gone
Because I know she wants me to carry on.

Jennifer Wears a Leather Coat

August 30, 2014

Jennifer wears a leather coat which she received from an abusive old flame
She turned to me for guidance on solving her troubles and I did quite well, I admit
But when the couple came to part, she turned away from me and I stood alone in the cold new mist
Praying to God for a leather coat of my own.

Yellow Sublimation: Reflections on the Ghost of Simpsons Past

August 6, 2014

The history of my fascination (if not obsession) with the Fox Network’s prime-time animated sitcom The Simpsons is a long and complicated one, and yet not unlike that of many of my peers’ in the 1990s. I was, for reasons unknown for me throughout my early childhood, forbidden from watching those bug-eyed, jaundiced (or has Homer’s job as a safety inspector at the nuclear power plant affected the pigmentations and phenotypes of even guest stars and other newcomers to Springfield?), often overweight, inept, and inane cartoon freaks until the tender age of 12. However, in what can only be referred to as a slight rebellious phase of mine, I sneaked at least 100 episodes of the series into my consciousness behind my parents’ backs in sixth grade, perspiring fingers nailed to a remote, ready but not eager for the act of stealthily changing the channel to Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network the second I heard a creak of a door. Though retrospectively, such “kiddie fare” as Rocko’s Modern Life or Animaniacs (one of few cartoons my folks tolerated due to its often educational nature) was nearly as subversive and satirical as the edgy hijinks Matt Groening offered, neither series would likely exist without the antics of a blue collar, hairless couch potato and his long-suffering blue-haired wife.
It is important to note that when I refer to The Simpsons, I am only referring to the hundred or so episodes which aired between December 1989 and either the tenth or eleventh season of the show. By 2014, Fox’s star racehorse of a sitcom is now a feeble nag being beaten to death yet again by more relevant animated series such as Bob’s Burgers, Rick and Morty, Regular Show, and Adventure Time (not to mention Groening’s experimental but unconventionally heartfelt science fiction follow-up series Futurama, which was a close contender for the subject of this essay, and earned a well-deserved Annie Award for its heartbreaking second series finale “Meanwhile” despite Comedy Central’s decision to re-cancel the only decent cartoon it had left). But the original nine or ten seasons of The Simpsons are so crucial for understanding (but not always appreciating) western culture and phenomena that they remain a mainstay of the young American consciousness. It would not be a stretch of the imagination to state that nearly everyone under 40 knows who Krusty the Clown, Ralph Wiggum, or Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is despite none of the aforementioned characters being members of the Simpson family. Due to their archetypal nature, the characters are not only engraved in our pop cultural repertoires, but in our real lives as well. We all know a saccharinely cheerful pest like Homer’s next door neighbor Ned Flanders, or have had a bitter, jaded teacher like Edna Krabappel (whose outstanding portrayal left millions of viewers sobbing years after the show went into decline with the death of her voice actress Marcia Wallace in the past months). Those of us who are into the geekier things in life (such as myself, natura-diddly) may recognize Springfield’s hulking Hulk hoarder the Comic Book Guy as uncannily resembling virtually every comic book store owner in America in both girth and snark. And let us not undermine the fact that within America’s Generation X and beyond, there are countless individuals who can drop dozens upon dozens of Simpsons quotes and trivia at the drop of a donut (as well as a somewhat sad but occasionally amusing group of people on the Internet who are seemingly unable to communicate in anything but Simpsons references). I may wish that The Simpsons had been canceled fifteen years ago, but I am more than glad to be a Simpsons fan after all the damage done.


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