Ways They Should Have Tortured Jack Bauer

Jack Bauer, the never-dining, never-producing-bodily-fluids-besides-blood-and-strategically-issued-spit hero of 24 endured the whole line of today's favorite military torture techniques in his many seasons on television.

But in a Facebook conversation with fellow blogger Ron Wells, we began to realize that good ol' Jack never faced the truly realistic tortures of modern day society. Exposure to germ warfare? Radiation poisoning? Electrocution? Chinese prison? Bah! To gain real viewer sympathy and prove his steel, Jack should have dealt with these nail-biting tests of will and endurance...

  • Glasses smudge. Just try, Jack, try reading those critical secret code numbers discovered written on the bad guy's BVD waistband-- and typing them into your always properly-routering laptop-- when faced with the nefarious spectacles smudge that won't go away. Waste valuable non-commercial-break minutes trying to clean the smudge only to discover that it only smears further and scratches your lenses because you're not using an optically-approved shammy! (Alternate option, eyelash in contact lens.)
  • Too-short gas pump hose. You never need to fuel up, do you, Jack? Cars at your disposal always somehow have a full tank ready and waiting. Well, what if you had to stop for gas? And the jerk pulling in from the pumps on the other side parks his vehicle too far up for you to get your own pump's hose to reach? That's right, Jack-- mere inches keep you from fueling up, driving off and saving the world. Sure, you could plug the guy for being an inconsiderate wanker, but you'd still waste valuable time finding his keys and backing his car up.
  • Black ice. You run, don'tya, Jack? Almost everywhere you go. During summer hiatus, you must do the New York Marathon just to keep in shape for your autumn season anti-terrorism activities. But you never end up somewhere cold, making that dash on black ice, now do you, Jack? No, you always look so cool, so effortless. You never have had to cling to the handrail of somebody's front steps just to go three feet. You've never tried to make a getaway sliding on your patriotic posterior, your Jack Pack sliding out of your grasp and spilling national secrets to the high winds. It's easy to be efficient when it's always 70 degrees and sunny, isn't it, Jack?
  • High octane coffee setting off IBS. Since you rarely need to consume food or drink, you have never faced the driving need for clear-headed caffeination. And so, you have never known that $4 gourmet coffee poured down your gullet and how it can trigger the water-through-pipes warning sound that says you need the nearest restroom, fast. No, your bowels never require irrigation, because they only see nourishment from after May sweeps to September premieres. Try begging a bathroom key from a gas station attendant when the line for lottery tickets and Slurpees is out the door, and you'll know true torture.
  • Vital supplies delayed by elderly lady writing checks. You somehow always have what you need, don't you Jack? And grabbing it through whatever means you can has worked for you every time. If you did have to go to the store for some reason, I suspect you wouldn't feel that things like waiting in a checkout line would apply to you. But the rest of us, we have to wait in those lines, because we can't just taze store security. Try waiting in line behind the grandma with 60 items which she has to put onto the conveyor belt one. item. at. a time. Then see how you feel when she rummages in her purse only to produce... a checkbook. You'll want to taze her, Jack. Oh, yes you will.
So tell me, folks-- what everyday torture would you like to see Jack Bauer experience?

"Keep me posted."

Our Lady of Gravity and Perpetual Contusion

It'll be a new trend in women's businesswear! Flared trousers with salt and blood stains at the knee and down the calf, and suede knee-boots with matching salt residue trim just at the toe. Eye-makeup will coordinate with ice-scraper-shaped bruising and contusions at the temple.

I think, if I play it right, it will be all the rage for the 2011 winter fashion season.

The event that spawned such design brilliance, however, some might say lacks the glamor and grace of the collection's obvious runway possibilities.

Black ice and a top layer of rain on what I thought were well-salted concrete steps sent me-- in the high-heeled boots I'd considered particularly fetching only moments before-- bouncing and jouncing down each stair, individually, like a fleshy stone skipping off a particularly unyielding lake.

Bump! Clump! Flump! Glump! Pomp! Schlump!

The heels which I never wear much because I am under normal circumstances too tall to not look like some giantess barging in uninvited on the year's hottest dwarf cocktail party were handy in one respect. Because they go up to the knee, they protected nobly considering they were not chainmail... or made by the aforementioned dwarves.

Getting up, I Dorothy Hamilled myself over to the car, and realized I had not yet made the full fashion statement I really needed for Success. So I clocked myself in the face with my own ice scraper on a particularly defiant chunk of windshield ice.

The things we do for high fashion, right ladies?

Tomorrow, I believe I will try something new. Before I leave the house, I will ensconce myself entirely in bubble wrap.

True couture innovation never ends.

What's Your Snow Removal Style?

Given Jack Frost's pretty much given half the U.S. the snow equivalent of in-school bullying so far this January, and my hands are still frozen in the shoveling position (makes it seriously hard to type, let me tell ya), I was thinking a lot lately about neighborhood snow removal.

A look down the block shows everyone handles this winter chore in their own unique way. And I think if we were to classify these techniques, they might go something like this:

  • The Winter Warrior. This is the neighbor who finds a single snowflake on their sidewalk to be a personal affront to civilization as we know it. The moment so much as one flurry dares to invade their territory, they are out there with shovels, plows, salt, and an elite troupe of anti-snow ninjas to remove the offending bit of crystallized H2O and return the world to how it once was. The Winter Warrior may shovel at least 17 times for a single snowfall. This person also likely aligns each bath towel inside the house so they hang of equal length on the towel rack.
  • The Minimalist. This is the person who has decided to leverage the Obligatory Shoveling Loophole. They shovel a one-shovel-width path from their home to their car. If truly serious about the shoveling, they might extend the path to 50% of the sidewalk, crafting an elaborate illusion of safety and seasonal effectiveness. As a child, this was probably the kid who took two bites of dinner and pushed the rest around on his plate to fool Mom.
  • The 'More Power' Enthusiast. This is the neighbor who was drooling all the way back in August with shiny thoughts of using the discount six-speed snowblower he just bought. At the first signs of snow, he is there, ready. Blowing out his drive, his back yard, his sidewalk, your sidewalk, the sidewalk of everybody on the block, people the next town over...  Eventually he finds himself at the equator, overdressed, sweating, confused and out of gas. He is very popular among his neighbors. By end of winter, he will have taken on a benevolent God-like reputation.
  • The Guilt Shoveler. This person is always one of the last people to shovel out after a snow storm. They check the status of other neighbors' properties from the warmth of their homes, while cupping a mug of cocoa, and wearing fuzzy slippers. They are waiting for someone else to set the shoveling precedent. They need this time to rationalize why they must be ripped from the comfort of flannel and chocolate when this white stuff from the sky will only likely come back again for round two. Only the fear that the other neighbors will call them Lazy McNoShovel gets them from their cocoon.
  • The Free Spirit. The inhabitants of the house on the block that has never, ever shoveled any part of their walkway or drive. The U.S Postal Service knows this and every year simply keeps their mail to be delivered in the safety of Spring. No amount of inter-neighborhood peer pressure will encourage these homeowners to address the outdoor world of white. These folks are typically the ones who don't rake leaves, or take advantage of the benefits of public sanitation service.
Me, I border on being the Guilt Shoveler. But I have a Winter Warrior on one side of me. I get guilted a little early on in the Snow Removal Process, since he and his Shoveling Ninjas sweep in and out several times before the last flake of the storm has dropped.

There can be six feet of snow everywhere else on the street and then his sidewalk is completely bare and shining with happy salt crystals.

It just ain't right.

So tell me-- what's your snow removal style? Do you live next to a Winter Warrior, 'More Power' Enthusiast, or the Free Spirit?

This is what you get when you feed a stranger in the Alps, Larry!

Jim Croce had it right:

You don't pull on Superman's cape. 

You don't spit into the wind. 

You don't pull off the mask of the 'ol Lone Ranger.

And you never completely recraft well-known, if expletive-filled, lines of the Coen Brothers' dialogue from The Big Lebowski in an effort to make it family friendly.

(I could be paraphrasing Mr. Croce ever-so-slightly.)

I mean, I do understand the desire for networks to clean up movies, so they don't bruise the tender ears of kids who would otherwise have to learn these words through texting. 

But what I witnessed on cable TV over my cup of java this morning was not a simple vanilla substitution of "frig" or "shoot" or "heck." This was dubbing John Goodman's famously repetitious, manic and tire-iron wielding rant against car-stealing juvenile offender Larry Sellers into:
"Do you see what happens when you feed a stranger in the Alps, Larry? This is what you get when you feed a stranger in the Alps, Larry! This is what you get when you feed a stranger in the Alps!"

Feed? A. Stranger? In. The. Alps?

Really, Censor People? REALLY?! 

(Note, the video below titles it "fight" a stranger in the Alps, but listen carefully. Goodman's character Walter goes on to mention something incoherent about feeding scrambled eggs...)

Just where do you even start, as an overdub script writer, to swap in "feed a stranger in the Alps" as a viable threat, and believe no one will notice?

We so rarely hear about guys going to prison and being worried that an angry cellmate named Snake will want to transport them to a European mountain region otherwise known for skiing and chocolate manufacture, to share unspecified sustenance.

So unless I am mistaken due to my own admitted lack o' cool, "feed a stranger in the Alps" has not yet become one of the Hip and Now phrases in today's American lexicon. 

It tends to stand out, is what I'm saying.

Changing major, well-known lines of a script to something involving dining, Switzerland and what later seems to include egg proteins, is a little like selling a powerful SUV in a car commercial... but instead featuring a dairy cow in all the high performance driving shots.

("She's got four-wheel drive, traction control and anti-lock brakes. Plus, the mileage is amazing. Just two bales to the gallon.")

It removes a certain layer of sophistication and authorial intent, is my point.

So what I think happened is they hired the MadLibs School of Family Friendly Film Dubbery to scrub the Lebowski TV version. The goal of this organization would be to plop in the first random word of the same number of syllables from the dictionary, and hope the American Public won't suspect anything.

And I imagine that while it started with Lebowski's "feeding a stranger in the Alps," it then moved on some other film classics.

"Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a dab!
"We came, we saw, we kicked its ark!"
I notice tomorrow Die Hard is on. Since I don't have it on DVD, it'll be nice to see it on broadcast television again. And to be truly in theme, I shall leave you today with these few noble, parting words:
"Yippie-kai-yay, mocha flavor!"
Ah, yes... Bruce Willis couldn't have said it any better himself!