What I Did on My Summer Vacation

It’s September! Students are finally returning to school, trying to figure out whether room 206 is on the first or second or maybe even third floor, turning their heads in every direction in an attempt to read an analog clock, and eagerly composing the perpetual return-to-school essay: What I Did on My Summer Vacation. Do teachers really assign this topic? I do not recall ever once being asked to write about what I did on my summer vacation. I remember being told not to fill my Language Arts journal with Beach Boys lyrics but instead my own original thoughts. Nobody wanted to know about my summers, though, and I consequently feel deprived. Even as an adult, when people ask, “How was your summer?” I respond, “Pretty good.” And you know what? They accept that! They don’t beg for details about what I did or what I saw or what I thought or anything substantial like that because apparently I’m not as fascinating to the rest of the world as I am to myself. Lacking original thought (still), let’s talk about what I did on my summer vacation.

Not update this blog, obviously. Mainly because I didn’t really read or watch anything of value or anything that provoked thought or inspired love (and obsession) as much as Love and Mercy did. Speaking of Love and Mercy, I think I saw it a total of four times. Maybe five. I’m not sure. I quit counting after I ran out of fingers, and I think I only have ten of those. I am sure of a few things, though: Love and Mercy is the best movie of the year, Love and Mercy is the only movie that matters, Paul Dano deserves an Oscar, and it comes out on DVD on Tuesday (tomorrow!), and I’ve already pre-ordered a copy for every member of the family. Merry Christmas.

Speaking of Paul Dano (who else?), I’m working on a family of popsicle sticks with this guy’s head on them. (See previous post for an explanation of popsicle sticks and men’s heads. I am a well-adjusted, mentally stable, healthy individual. Promise.) I’m slowly working through his filmography, and so far he hasn’t really disappointed me. Except for that one movie where he played a homeless guy. Let’s not talk about that. Let’s not talk at all. Let’s communicate solely by writing messages on a compact spiral notebook because that’s what Dwayne does in Little Miss Sunshine, a film I chose as the subject of my Individuals with Disabilities in Film paper because if there is a way to be graded for being obsessed with Paul Dano, I am going to find it, goshdarnit. A+!

While we’re handing out grades, let’s grade the long-anticipated second novel of Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman. When I first heard about this new novel from Harper Lee, I was under the mistaken impression that it was actually a new novel by Harper Lee. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Go Set a Watchman, otherwise known as A First Draft of To Kill a Mockingbird In Desperate Need of a Plot and Editor, STAT! Seriously. Whose idea was it to publish this? The whole process of reading and digesting the book was equal parts depressing, confusing, and frustrating. Save your time.

I did start to read a book called Why Sinatra Matters, published almost twenty years ago. I didn’t finish it (yet…because of course I’m slowly–oh, so slowly, am I getting old or what?!–reading about six books simultaneously), but one of the opening pages passages has stuck with me:

“The world of my grandchildren will not listen to Sinatra in the way four generations of Americans have listened to him. But high art always survives. Long after his death, Charlie Parker still plays his version of the urban blues. Billie Holiday still whispers her anguish. Mozart still erupts in joy. Every day, in cities and towns all over the planet, someone discovers them for the first time and finds in their art that mysterious quality that makes the listener more human. In their work all great artists help transcend the solitude of individuals, they relieve the ache of loneliness, they supply a partial response to the urging of writer E.M. Forster: ‘Only connect.’ In their ultimate triumph over the banality of death, such artists continue to matter.”

I guess this quote has stuck with me not only because it is true but because I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I like, why everyone doesn’t like these same things (and thank goodness for that! Except for the people who do not hold the belief that Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire is the most attractive man ever aka the people hanging out at the water pump with Annie Sullivan), and how these things can mean so much to me and nothing to someone else. What does it mean? What does it matter? I guess I just don’t believe that people come into our lives by accident–and that includes the artists we admire. In response to the question, “Why do I write?”, I explained that writing is like a puzzle, arranging and re-arranging words so that the rhythm and flow is a perfect fit, that writing is a search for the connection between the quiet wonder of the first (but not twenty-first) snowfall of the year and the expression on Scout Finch’s face when she sees Boo Radley for the first time. I guess that’s why Sinatra–and any artist–matters to me. There’s a unique connection there that not every one else feels. And maybe it is because that artist transcends isolation or maybe it’s more than an earthly connection. These things matter, and I spent (part of) my summer contemplating this, looking to find another artist that mattered and discovering Paul Dano and wondering what link (if any) exists between the single tear that runs down his cheek in a scene of Love and Mercy and the feeling of overwhelming comfort that comes from listening to The Verve’s “On Your Own” for the first time in eons.

I also spent more time than I care to remember in Iowa, disobeyed a sign (which I coud not see, in my defense) and jumped off a pier, and made From Here to Eternity references that nobody appreciated. Sigh. It’s tough being a ninety-something in a twenty-something body sometimes.

Until next time (which is hopefully less than three months from now with a more interesting topic),
The Count(ess) Petofi

P.S. Please don’t kill yourself tonight.

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Grab Bag!

Because I’ve been too lazy to watch all the 1940/1946/1953/1954/1962/etc Best Actor Oscar nominees and thus revive my Oscar series as a buildup to this year’s ceremony. Because I am also too lazy to construct cohesive posts about the various topics that have been floating around in my head (there’s so much room up there). But mostly because I am oh so fascinating and have oh so many interesting thoughts about oh so many things…here is this month’s grab bag of a post–upcoming anniversaries, forgotten films, out-of-syndication television programs, and dead actors and musicians (actually just one…still livin’ and breathin’ nothin’ but Ricky Nelson ’round here), straight ahead!    

1. The Super Bowl wasn’t that super this year.

That’s right–I do turn on the television and pretend to live in this century every now and then. It’s harder, though, for me to pretend to understand the sport that is American Football. All I’ve got so far is scoring touchdowns is good. Anyway. The Super Bowl was kind of depressing and most definitely Boring with a capital B–except when they showed Paul McCartney chowing down on his vegetarian pizza. That was awesome. And it was oh so awesome when Bob Dylan asked, “Is there anything more American than America?” (I’m guessing…no?)

My sister was all, “Bob Dylan can still walk?”

2. Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

I honestly don’t know what the big deal is since last year was the 49th anniversary? But I am loving the big deal because everywhere it is Beatles, Beatles, Beatles, as it should be!

“Won’t you please sing something?”

“NO!”

Oh, I love nothing more than the Beatles. They have been my favorite people in the world since I was a little girl and will forever remain so. Looking forward to the CBS special this Sunday!

3. I have started spending a lot of time in a bar. 

Because I just want to go where everybody knows my name. And they’re always glad I came.

That’s right…I’ve started watching Cheers. I’m not really sure why, but I’m kind of in love. Coach and Cliff are my favorites so far, but I also like Norm and Sam and Carla and Diane is kind of annoying but she’s OK, I guess. I absolutely cannot wait for Frasier to come onto the scene! Only a few more episodes!

4. I FINALLY got to see Désirée, a 1954 film starring Jean Simmons and Marlon Brando as Napoleon Bonaparte. Thank you, TCM, for airing this gem at 2 A.M.!

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Can you say awesome?

Besides the awesomeness of Brando’s wardrobe (and Brando in general), I enjoyed the film way more than I thought I would. It was engaging and interesting and Brando, Brando, Brando! Was there ever a more attractive and compelling actor? Oh, yeah, Montgomery Clift. Hahahahahahahahaha. Great, now I feel like watching Clift compare guns with John Ireland and woo Olivia de Havilland and fall off a train all in one night.

5. That Darn Cat! (1965) is definitely superior to That Darn Cat (1997). 

The exclamation point totally should have given it away, but after watching and enjoying the original film, I wanted to re-watch the remake and compare notes. The remake has its moments but overall it is just so cheesy. And cheese gives me gas, man.

Plus the original is just so darn perfect. Perfect cast. Perfect soundtrack. Perfect cat, though darned he may be.

Oh, and I just happened to find this photo of Dean Jones this past week. You know me, always searching the web for a good Dean Jones photo. Here he is hanging out with Sal Mineo and the Nelson brothers. What a world this is!

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6. My My Three Sons diet is becoming harder to maintain because the episodes are so funny and poignant and just plain old wonderful.

I got the second season on DVD for my birthday in October and told myself I would have to limit myself to watching it sparingly because none of the other seasons are available on DVD (…WHY???) and it’s not in syndication here.

I recently watched the episode entitled “Bub’s Lodge.” In this episode, Bub is being honored in his Lodge where he will be crowned D’Artagnan of the East Door. He has a fancy outfit and everything. Meanwhile, Mike is aiming to become part of a fraternity and is worried that Bub and his ridiculous outfit will embarrass him. The episode is funny, of course, but it’s also so sweet and touching. My favorite part is the glimpse it allows into Bub’s room:

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There are pictures of Steve and the boys everywhere. D’awwwwww!

I love Uncle Charley and all, but Bub was the best. The early episodes are the best. Give me more!

7. I saw Two for the Road and loved it.

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Two for the Road is a polarizing film, I think, because it is so unconventional. It is not your typical romantic comedy. Everything is not tied neatly in a bow by the end of the film, and the overall narrative is non-linear and often difficult to follow, requiring careful and attentive viewing. The story of Mark and Joanna Wallace is not told in chronological order but rather story threads are loosely connected by a certain sight — like the sight of a ferry where they first met — or an object — like a hat — or something as simple as the weather. In the present, as the film begins, the audience sees Mark and Joanna, with obvious tension between them, embark on a trip and as they travel, they reflect on their relationship through other trips they took together. Their relationship has had its ups and downs, and toward the end of the film when Mark asks Joanna why they didn’t end their relationship at a certain point, part of you is wondering the same thing. But the other part also knows that these two people love each other, despite the difficulties of their relationship. The film is realistic in its portrayal of love and relationships — it’s not always easy and Shangri-La like in a movie but is instead often very difficult and requires a lot of effort and hard work.

8. I also watched Love and Kisses, starring Rick and Kris Nelson, and loved it. 

This movie has been described as nothing more than an extended episode of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and in some ways that is true. It’s not the greatest movie ever made but it is fun and cute and some really important things happened in this movie.

First, Rick wears some white pants that are really flattering.

Second, there is a dream sequence that involves Rick visiting a strip club/bar, and he gets into a major fight. Meanwhile, David and Wally sit at the bar and wonder if they know Rick. They decide they don’t. It’s cute.

Third, Rick (actually his character’s name in the film is Buzzy, which is bizarre so I am just going to keep on calling him Rick) gives this speech to his dad (who is not Ozzie which is also bizarre) about teeny-weeny jammies, itsy bitsy feet, diapers, and a trip to Disneyland. It’s awesome.

Finally…Rick (er…Buzzy) curses in this film. He let’s a “what the hell” rip not just once but twice and then claims that saying “what the hell” is not cursing. There’s also a bonus d–n. Pretty sure if this were released today, they would have to slap an “R” rating on it.

Anyway. This movie was cute, you can watch it on YouTube (in poor VHS quality, alas), and sorry about the curse words. I’m gonna put a bar of soap on my keyboard.

9. My current Rick Nelson phase is starting to scare me because I stayed up late last night watching an episode of The Hardy Boys that Rick guest starred in. 

Rick plays a rock star named Tony Eagle who actually sings Rick Nelson songs and he’s unknowingly involved in the disappearance of a man the Hardy brothers are investigating. It also involves a plane which makes me scream and cry inside for obvious reasons.

I’d never watched The Hardy Boys before and it’s so ’70s, but it was also kind of fun and entertaining. Getting to watch Rick sing so many songs was wonderful. He was so natural…and beautiful. Sigh.

10. I recently learned that Montgomery Clift reportedly turned down the part of Dude (eventually played by Dean Martin) in Rio Bravo

Do you realize what this means?  

Do you?

This means that had Clift taken the role, he and Rick Nelson would have been in the same movie and I never would have worn a clean pair of underwear in my life (as if I don’t have enough trouble with that already). Clift reportedly turned down the role because he did not want to work with John Wayne again (can’t blame him).

Thanks, Monty. I like wearing clean underwear.

OK, that’s it for this grab bag. I’m off to work on something cohesive and worthwhile…that is, after I finish watching this unaired pilot featuring Rick Nelson as some sort of bad guy in tights. Until next time!

Much love,
The Count Petofi

2013: A Review

WordPress sent an annual report of my year in blogging. They offered to post a summary of that report to my blog for me, but I find my words much more fascinating and charming and interesting than their phrasing, so here we are!

In 2013, I continued to write about people and films and television programs and musicians and other topics that are not popular or relevant or even interesting to the general population because I am not a trendy person. But they’re important and interesting and blog-worthy to me, and that’s why I blog about them. I am really into dead actors, dead musicians (RIP Ricky Nelson, gone 28 years today, I have not even been alive that long), and black-and-white television shows and films that people have forgotten or have never even heard of.

Now for some stats, straight from WordPress:

  • The busiest day, traffic-wise, for this blog was July 19, when everybody and their monkey (who evidently had nothing to hide) was reading about Chest hair, medallions, and three-part harmony, oh my! This was during that time (like, six months) where I listened to nothing but the Brothers Gibb.
  • Another popular topic and search engine term drawing people to this blog was Montgomery Clift. (Remember when I wrote about The Young Lions and the Best Actor Class of 1951?) I love that dude and plan on re-watching all of his movies in 2014 and devoting thousands of words to his rare gift.
  • Count Petofi is still an authority on Dark Shadows, of course! Sadly, people had to read year-old posts about Dark Shadows, but WordPress says those posts have “staying power.” Of course they do, WordPress. Barnabas Collins is a 200-year-old Vampire, Angelique is the witch that never dies, and Quentin Collins has been growing sideburns and drinking Sherry since the 1800s. That is the definition of “staying power.”
  • Visitors from 97 countries visited this blog. Cool!

Now, because I find myself that fascinating, here’s some of my favorite posts (and maybe some of yours, too) from this past year:

  • The Jam, A Gift…: A post about The Jam’s final album, its deluxe treatment, and my favorite picture of Paul Weller (it’s a really flattering picture).
  • My 18 Favorite Lines from My New Favorite Movie: The Odd Couple was my favorite movie I watched this year (although I saw Saving Mr. Banks today and it was absolutely wonderful). I am putting a post-it on my wall that reads, “We’re all out of cornflakes. F.U.” And I am going to look at it whenever I feel sad.
  • Best Actor: 1951: A start to a series (that I never continued) discussing and ranking best actor nominations in a given year. This series will hopefully make a return to this blog at least once in 2014!
  • Match wits with Ellery Queen…and see if you can guess WHODUNIT!: Ellery Queen was one of my favorite television programs I watched this year (along with Band of Brothers, which I am not emotionally ready to write about, and Person of Interest). It was so much fun, and Jim Hutton is wonderful. Tentative goal for 2014 is to finish reading all the Ellery Queen novels. Ha!
  • Ordinary People: From Jim Hutton to Timothy Hutton…I love this wonderful, beautiful drama, directed to perfection by Robert Redford (who is also beautiful).
  • Two Takes on Sabrina: I feel like I have to include this for two reasons. The first reason is Paul Giamatti. The second reason is that someone told me I look like Sabrina in the 1995 version. But mostly because PAUL GIAMATTI (who was also wonderful in Saving Mr. Banks, which I should write about soon).
  • The Young Lions: I just love Montgomery Clift. If we really want peace on earth, I think the obvious solution would be releasing a complete Montgomery Clift film collection on BluRay because if there ever was a face that was made to be seen in hi-definition, it was his.       

There were so many things I wanted to write about this year that I didn’t get around to, but stay tuned in the coming weeks! I want to write about Saving Mr. Banks. I want to write about All The Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release, a new book about the Beatles that I actually loved and learned something from. I want to write about how wonderful The Beatles On Air: Live at the BBC, Volume 2 is. I want to write about The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. I want to write about Band of Brothers. I want to write about the Nelsons. So…stay tuned. Happy New Year!

A Post About Nothing In Particular

Howdy. Long time, no post! So instead of writing a well-developed post about a film or an album or the answers to life’s questions, here’s a post about some important developments in my life. Make that some REALLY important developments in my life.

1. This is my new desktop:

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Why did I need a new desktop? Because I had received complaints about my Paul Weller desktop. Complaints like, “That desktop will blind you. Paul Weller’s beauty and perfection will blind you.” And so I changed it to this darling image of Liam Gallagher. And then I received more complaints. Complaints like, “How do you get any work done with that desktop background? How do you resist staring at it for hours? How do you resist stroking it and whispering, ‘My preciousssssssssssss!’?” (Psst, I didn’t.) So Ellery Queen it is. This is all very important information for you to have.

2. While searching for a high-quality image of Ellery Queen for my desktop background on Google, I came across many images used on my own blog, including ones of my cat. Really, Google? Is this how people stumble across this blog using keywords like “Peter Tork butt”? Allow me to clarify for all you Peter Tork butt searchers out there (no need to be ashamed — we all do it): There are no pictures of Peter Tork’s butt on this blog. Sorry. So, so, so, so sorry.

Anyway. I ended up relying on my own personal screencap collection of Ellery Queen. I had a hard time deciding on one. Here’s just a few of the many that were also in the running:

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Oh, Ellery, you’re rarer than a can of dandelion and burdock — and those other sleuths are just post-mix lemonade.

3. I’m officially in love with Sam Seaborn, Rob Lowe’s character on The West Wing. I’m a little sad because I only have two more seasons of Sam Seaborn, and then I have to make the decision whether I want to continue living, which, roughly translated, actually means I have to decide whether to continue watching the remaining seasons.

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YooOoouuuuu have got that face that just says, “Baby, I was made to break your heart.” 

I think this is the perfect opportunity to talk about my “teenage” (more like, lifelong) obsession with Rob Lowe, born out of reading The Outsiders. Rob Lowe as “handsomer than anyone I know” Sodapop Curtis? That is what we call letter-perfect casting, world. Anyway, I watched so many of his movies. So many of his movies were dumb. I had a homemade book. It was called “Britt’s Book of Hunks”, and it featured one hunk: Rob Lowe. I wasted all the printer’s ink on pictures of Rob Lowe, so it’s a limited edition–very rare and very valuable and I’m not selling it. I even bought a book about The West Wing not because I watched the show but because I knew it starred Rob Lowe. But I never read it, only looked at the pictures. But I’m watching The West Wing now and boy, am I obsessed. Rob Lowe is so amazing as idealistic, witty, freakishly talented Sam Seaborn. I feel like my obsession with Rob Lowe is FINALLY validated because Youngblood really was a dumb movie.

4. There are certain movies you must have seen in order to maintain friendly relations with me and my family. Heavyweights is one of them. And it has the best DVD Menu. Ever.

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Need I say more?

Pat Finley, please report to the men’s toilet immediately. Bring a mop and a plunger. Now. 

5. Arctic Monkeys released a new song last week, with their typical lack of fanfare. I just woke up one morning, and there it was. I thought I could just listen to it once and go about my day.

Wrong-o.

Yes, I listened to it once. And then I went about my day. But the song was in my head all day, and I was cranky and flippant and disinterested in everything until I listened to it again. And again. And again. And again.

How many secrets can you keep?
‘Cause there’s this tune I found that makes me think of you somehow and I play it on repeat
Until I fall asleep
Spilling drinks on my settee

Do I wanna know how many times I’ve listened to this song? No.

Oh, Arctic Monkeys, you’re rarer than a can of dandelion and burdock — and those other bands are just post-mix lemonade. Come on, September 9 & Album No. 5!

6. My sister begged me to play Star Wars Trivial Pursuit yesterday. I did. And I won. It only took what felt like twelve hours, but I finally won. The winning question? “How many members are on the Jedi Council?” I guessed — Twelve. (My thought process: Jesus had twelve apostles. Should be good enough for George Freakin’ Lucas and the Jedi Council.) Correct! “This party’s over,” Mace Windu declared. Yessir.

I can’t wait to see what Episode VII is about. I mean, I’m not really sure I understand what the first six were about, but I can’t wait to see what Episode VII is about.

7. Speaking of my sister, she has now decided that A-ha’s “Take On Me” is not annoying and she actually likes it. This is a sad day because this means I can no longer torment her with my incessant rendition of it: I’ll be gone in a day or twoooooooooooooooo!

8. I finally saw Monsters University today and loved it. That’s right. I saw a movie made this century. [THE CROWD ROARS.] Anyway. It was so, so, so, so cute.

9. Not speaking of movies made in this century, I woke up a day last week or the week before last week or I can’t remember when because I actually am very old, remembering a dream I had had. In this dream, Marlon Brando was pouring me coffee in what I can only assume was our kitchen. I don’t drink coffee, but it’s Marlon Brando, so fill me up, buttercup. And Humphrey Bogart knocked on the door. Good ol’ Humph. He came by just to say hi and drink a cup of coffee with me and Marlon. You know–the usual. I don’t know what else happened–they probably laughed about how Marlon deserved the Oscar in ’51 more than Humphrey (and how Monty actually deserved it most of all), and I was probably too busy to engage in any conversation because I was trying to conceal the drool that was not-so-conspicuously flowing out of my mouth and flooding the kitchen.

And when I woke up, I realized that I was the only living person in my dream. Totally normal.

10. Finally watched the pilot of Person of Interest, starring Jim Ca-sizzle. (For some strange reasons, the credits list him as Jim Caviezel?)

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[“RUN TO ME” by The Bee Gees plays.]

When I say Ca, you say sizzle.

Ca! (Sizzle!) 

Ca! (Sizzle!) 

I haven’t tried this chant in public yet. Let me know what you think.

Anyway. The show is kind of awesome, and I’ll probably watch more of it once I get over Sam Seaborn.

11. Unofficially launching a visual companion to this blog via Pinterest. Give me six months to figure out how to use it, by which time it probably won’t be fashionable or useful to know how to use it.

12. I am now going to try to think of something worthwhile to write about. Or maybe I’ll just watch another episode of The West Wing because in case you missed it — ROB LOWE IS AWESOME.

Until next time.

Inaugural Post: Let the Curse Begin!

Stephen Stills, 'High'
(“Musician Stephen Stills pointing to a ‘High’ sign, 1 August 1967 by Henry Diltz.” Seriously. That is the official description of this photograph.)

High and welcome to my brand-new-never-before-been-touched-by-human-hands (just by the Hand of Count Petofi) blog. I’ve blogged intermittently before about vital topics, such as the metaphorical meaning of Richard Ashcroft cutting his long, dark locks and dying them blond and what it meant for his musical career, but I’ve failed at consistency and commitment. It’s a new year, though. The fact that I am not acting on a resolution (to create and actually maintain a blog) until January is nearly February bodes well.

(I’m also going to finish reading Mozipedia, acquire every live version of “Ghosts” by The Jam available, and finally finish watching Robert Redford’s filmography this year. Those goals are progressing equally well.)

Seriously, though, this blog will not be be a fluke because it features David Selby’s beautiful face. And I have to log in on a regular basis to look at it. Right? Right.

No, really…Look for me (at least) once a week, spouting off about the books I read, the films I watch, why David Selby is so darn dreamy, and well, I don’t know, maybe something half-interesting once in awhile–replete with all my charm, intelligence, and unique worldview solely founded on the fact that the Beatles are the best band ever, thankyouverymuch.

It should be fun. You should be here. Or else…well, remember that scene in Back to the Future where Marty is once again pestering George about taking Lorraine to the dance? And he tells George that if he doesn’t ask Lorraine to the dance, then he (Marty) will regret for the rest of his life. And George says he can’t because he’ll miss his favorite television program (Science Fiction Theater), he’s just not ready to ask Lorraine to the dance, and not Marty or anyone else on this planet (Earth) can make him change his mind. And then Marty dresses up in his radiation suit, claims to be Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan, plays (really awful) Van Halen music, and…well, I’m not going to give away the whole plot. But that’ll be you–regretting not joining in the fun of reading this blog and then Darth Vader will come and haunt you. Just consider yourself warned.

(You should know I use Back to the Future references at every chance. And did you know it only has a 8.4/10 rating on IMDB? What kind of world do we live in? One in which people are seriously, seriously dumb.)

Ok. See ya.