Thursday, June 21, 2018

Coin-Op Review: “Double Axle” (1991)

It’s basically Outrun meets Burnout with monster trucks … so why isn’t this game more widely celebrated?

By: Jimbo X


Let’s talk about Taito for a minute. In the grand pantheon of beloved retro game developers, they almost always get lost in the shuffle with Konami, Capcom and Hudson Soft, and that’s a crying shame, because these folks are responsible for some of the most enjoyable games ever in the history of video gaming.

Yes, most people already know they made Space Invaders and Bubble Bobble, but that’s only scratching the surface. The REAL appeal of Taito is the depth (and weirdness) of their software library. These are the same folks who gave us titles as diverse as Arkanoid and Darius, titles as nuanced as Truxton and Demon’s World, titles as entertaining as Power Blade and Wrath of the Black Manta, titles as innovative as Graffiti Kingdom and Sonic Blast Man. Simply put, these guys made a TON of great games, and pretty much all of them remain obscurities, even in this, the age of in-browser arcade emulation.

Which brings us to Double Axle, a 1991 Taito coin-op offering I never heard of until very recently.

Obviously, the game is meant to capitalize on the monster truck trend of the early 1990s, complete with a font that shamelessly rips off the iconic Bigfoot branding. And while I can’t say I’ve played *that* many monster truck-themed video games, of the scant few that I have this is easily the best I’ve ever encountered.

That’s not to say Double Axle is sans any flaws, because it’s got a couple of them — and some pretty major ones, at that. But for the most part, this is an insanely fun arcade racer that deserves WAY more retroactive reverence than it receives. It’s perfect seasonal game playing material; it’s short, it’s fast, the visuals are colorful and everything about it practically screams "it's summer, motherfucker" and that means you NEED to give it a whirl.

Now, the original arcade version had the old Turbo Outrun set-up, with the gas pedals near the bottom of the cabinet and a steering wheel mounted right there in front of the screen. Of course, since we’re emulating this shit it’s not exactly the same experience, but it’s nonetheless one entertaining ass diversion. So let’s hop right into the thick of things, why don’t we?

What's that? "Bigfoot?" Never heard of it before, I swear.

First things first, the game is short — with only five stages, you can feasibly beat the entire thing in less than 10 minutes. Of course, considering how goddamn hard the fifth and final stage is, you'll never actually know what it's like to "beat" the game, so don't you dare think this one won't give you your money's worth in terms of challenge.

The core gameplay is very simple. Before each stage you're allotted a certain amount of money to upgrade your truck with a more powerful engine, bigger tires or nitro boosters. And from there, it's straight to the races, in which you take your lawsuit-baiting big rig on an off-road, pedal-to-the-medal destruction-a-thon against nine other jumbo-sized vehicles (which, among other rides, includes what appears to be a jacked-up version of the van from The A-Team.)

And before you ask, no, the upgrades don't really make that much of a difference on how the trucks control. Sure, the handling is a teeny bit smoother if you have the big old souped-up tires selected, but it's not like having them equipped makes you that much likelier to come in first. The engine upgrade, to the best of my knowledge, doesn't do anything — maybe it makes your ride just a smidge faster, but then again, the advantage is so minuscule as to be almost unnoticeable.

The nitro boosts, though, do come in handy, and almost work like cheat codes in some situations. Basically, if you have at least two of 'em stored up and it's neck and neck heading down the stretch, you're pretty much guaranteed the opportunity to surge in front of everybody right at the checkered flag.

So, stage one. This is a good introductory level that puts you — where else? — smackdab in the middle of the wilderness, complete with muddy bogs and old log cabins and a ton of pine trees that have a frustrating penchant for popping up right in front of you without any advance warning.

Right from the get-go you see everything that makes Double Axle awesome and a major pain in the ass. The sense of force in this game is just phenomenal; even emulating the thing with a keyboard you get a nice, palpable sense of power as you mow down shrubs and rustic, rural housing. Secondly, the racing mechanics are pretty fuckin' excellent, playing out like a mix between Outrun (what, with its hairpin turns and split-second-to-choose forks-in-the-road) and Burnout, in the sense that you can just grind the shit out of your adversaries, demolition-derby-style while jockeying for first place. That crunch as your big rig swaps aluminum with another monster truck just feels so visceral and awesome, and combined with the game's great sense of speed, just mashing the gas pedal in this one feels like a hoot and a half to experience.

But then again, the game does have its demerits, and even from stage uno they are quite evident. Long story short, the controls in this one flat out suck. Maybe you really need the wheel attachment here to play it properly, but using the basic ROM setup is like trying to use a brick for a harmonica. Turning is especially aggravating, since your truck seems to instinctively hug the edge of the road whenever you try to pivot around a corner. And since the sides of the road are almost always littered with giant, truck-stopping obstacles like boulders, pillars of ice and giant balls of magma, perhaps you can see how this presents a challenge. And by challenge, I mean "total fucking bullshit, that's what."

That's a lot of people in the stands. Looks like the trailer park is empty tonight!

So anyway, stage one ain't too bad. Basically, all you have to do is hang tight to the edge of the screen WITHOUT going off-road (which is way harder than it sounds) and turbo boost like a motherfucker as you hit that final straightaway. Along the way you'll figure out the core mechanics of the title (i.e., which rocks you can use as launch pads and which ones stall you out, just how close to the precipice of the screen you can get without falling off cliffs, etc.) and really, unless you utterly and completely suck at racing games, you should get through this one with no problems whatsoever.

Which brings us to stage two, which is really more of an extended mini-game. This is Taito's loving homage to the indoor monster truck rally, and it's easily the funnest thing about the whole game. Instead of racing an opponent, it's you and a competing rig going toe-to-toe in a contest to see which truck can smash up the most shit and it IS every bit as fun as it sounds. It only lasts about half a minute, but by golly, will you have a ball mowing down sedans and crunching tour buses like a diesel-powered Godzilla. Really, this segment alone makes the title worth going out of your way to experience ... even if you don't like racing games, this thing ought to make you squeal with delight, regardless.

With stage three it's back to our usual racing set-up. This time around we're racing in the outback or the Arizona desert or the wastelands of Africa or some other place you'd never want to travel in a million years. Structurally, it's more or less the same setup as the first level, except harder, with more obstacles (including friggin' tornadoes that just show up halfway through the level), windier roads, thicker bogs (which can be avoided by using the old side-of-the-road-hugging technique discussed earlier) and some REALLY steep cliffs that, at times, feel almost impossible to navigate without falling off of at least once. By the way, every time your truck falls off a ledge, it explodes and magically re-materializes a few seconds later ... albeit, driving WAY slower. Get blown up three or four times in a race and your ride basically becomes a worthless hunk of junk that can't make it over an anthill, so, yeah, try not to do that, OK?

Stage four is another glorified mini-game but my goodness, is it another outstanding glorified mini-game. It's the same idea as the monster truck rally stage (you versus another driver compete to see who can run over the most stuff), except this time around it's taking place as you drive THE WRONG WAY DOWN A HIGHWAY. Yep, that's right, this is a game that simulates mass vehicular homicide, and it's every bit as hilariously/disturbingly fun as it sounds. Granted, the hit collusion seems a little off (sometimes you get a nice crunch and you can feel the drag against your truck, other times the game doesn't even bother registering the Toyota Corolla getting smashed under your front tire) but for the most part? This is some SERIOUSLY entertaining stuff right here.

Yeah, the cameo appearance from the Hindenburg didn't make much sense to me, either.

Which brings us to the game's fifth and final level, which I can telly you right now is EXACTLY why this game isn't celebrated as a lower-tier arcade classic ... or even remembered at all, for that matter.

This time around you're racing in an icy village, and if you think having eight-foot-tall tires welded onto your ride will help you one iota as you trudge through they snowy tundra, THINK AGAIN. Unless you hug the ever-loving shit out of the edge of the road you're going to be pirouetting across the screen, constantly bumping into other drivers OR the bajillion ice sculptures just left there in the middle of the raceway. Needless to say, this might just be the WORST-designed stage in the history of racing games — to the point I'd call the stage LITERALLY unwinnable.

Problem No. 1 is the draw-in. Towards the final straightaway, there's this section where you have to drive through a tight squeeze of rock formations. The only problem is the game is faster than the draw-in rates, so instead of being able to weave in and out of the obstacles like Space Harrier, you LITERALLY find your truck ramming into giant boulders that just pop up out of thin air. Of course, the same fate befalls the other drivers, too, so it's kinda' like a final grinder before the checkered flag. It may slow down the game considerably, but it does make the last hurrah way more dramatic; indeed, this is a rare game design (well, glitch, actually) that makes it possible for first and last place to switch positions in just a matter of seconds. And yes, sheer, blind luck is the only factor in play here — skill, be damned straight to the fiery pits of hell.

Get ready, because you'll be seeing this screen over and over again.

And that leads us to Problem No. 2, and this one is quite literally a gamebreaker. The final stretch of the race is a saunter up a steep, icy cliff, with NO barriers to prevent your truck from flying off the sides. Folks, this part of the game is literally — not figuratively, not creatively, not symbolically, not metaphorically — IMPOSSIBLE. Maybe you'd have a better chance with the actual wheel peripheral, but with a good old QWERTY keyboard there's no way you can navigate this one without either falling off the edges or driving so slowly that all the other trucks lap you and you lose by default (by the way, you HAVE to finish in the top three in each race to move in. Maybe I should've told you people that earlier, eh?) Think I'm joshing you? Go onto YouTube and try to find a full play-through of the game. It doesn't exist because NOBODY can find a way to get up that friggin' ice bridge. For all intents and purposes, the game hits an unplanned kill screen as soon as the section begins, and not even spamming your nitro boosts will be enough to get you over the hump. There might be another stage after this one, but like fuck if anybody using MAME will ever see what it looks like.

So, yeah, if you can overlook the fact the final stage of the game is a broken piece of fucking dog shit that is impossible to win, Double Axle is actually a pretty fun little coin-op undeservedly left to the miasma of early 1990s nostalgia. Really, had Taito spent a little more time on the title they could've made it an undisputed classic, or at least a game worthy of an extended home port. Really, this thing *could* have become a Road Rash-like franchise, and let's don't pretend like this engine would have been a natural fit for a REAL video game adaptation of that old Monster Wars TV show. And lord knows it's WAY better than that cruddy Bigfoot game Acclaim released for the NES, so if nothing else, at least it's got that going for it, I suppose.

Maybe Double Axle ain't an all-time classic. OK, scratch that ... there's NO WAY it can be construed as an all-time classic. But what it is, however, is a game that's way better than it probably had any right to be, and with a bit more polish and fine-tuning, could've ended up as one of the best arcade racers of the early 1990s.

But for everything it is (and isn't) it's still a forgotten relic of yesteryear that's very much worth rediscovering. Even as a mere curiosity piece it's more entertaining than a good 70 or 80 percent of the crap that was glutting up the arcade market at the time, and it's pretty fun being able to play a game that was effectively giving us Burnout — with monster trucks, no less — a good decade before the first real Burnout game got released.

And if anybody out there has video evidence of a human player actually BEATING this game's fifth level, somebody give me a heads up ... that is, if alien super-beings haven't already recruited him for a position as intergalactic general, naturally.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Double Review - "Disobedience" / "Vampire Clay"

One's a movie about Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz playing lesbians that hock loogies in each other's mouth for sexual gratification and the other's about demonically-possessed Play-Doh eating art students in rural Japan ... don't ever say we don't give you variety, folks.

By: Jimbo X

I'm not the first person to say this, but a good goddamn, is going to the movies EXPENSIVE these days.

You wonder why Hollywood revenue keeps dropping? Maybe it has something to do with the fact it takes $80 fuckin' dollars to go see a flick at the multiplex nowadays. Seriously, I took my woman to go see the newest Avengers movie and those fuckers charged us $50 dollars ... no shit, $50 U.S. dollars ... for a pair of movie tickets. And this wasn't even that big-ass, 3D, surround-sound, IMAX shit either, it was a regular two-dimensional screening on a normal-sized projector, with a tinny-ass audio system that kept making that weird scrubbing sound every two-to-three minutes. Then they had the audacity to charge us ANOTHER $20 for a large bucket of popcorn and some Snow Caps, and and additional $10 for two SMALL sodas with no refill privileges.

Granted, I've come to expect inflation with everything in this, post-Obama's America, but good lord, how did going to the movies become THIS expensive over the course of just five years? And furthermore, just how in the hell does Hollywood expect regular Americans to be able to afford to go to the movies more than a handful a' times a year if its going to cost $80 smackers a visit?

You see, Hollywood's just about thrown in the towel. They know the only thing people are going to spend money on is Disney-shit, superhero movies and the occasional "sociopolitically-charged" genre movie that finds a new-ish way to blame whitey for everything. You might get a little return on investment with shitty horror movies around Halloween and crappy biopics and family features around Christmas, but that's still not enough to cover their losses from the latest $80 million dollar box office turd starring Amy Schumer and Melissa McCarthy and whichever unfunny bitch El Lay has convinced itself honest, decent, hard-workin' people of the soil are willing to spend money on even though their entire shtick revolves around mocking Middle America's most cherished values and ideals.

It's not even cool to go the movies anymore. For that matter, people don't even talk about movies themselves that much anymore. It's all about Netflix and HBO and whatever bullshit they're binge-watching that week. Kids today already see movie theaters as passe, and we're probably only 20 years — if that long — away from cinemas having about as much economic import as video stores. This is Hollywood's last, desperate cash grab before getting completely replaced by the vastly superior, subscription-based, internet-driven movie-watching model. As a matter of fact, as soon as this capeshit/Star Wars bull crap falls out of fashion, the American movie industry is kaput. Outside of sperging out with a bunch of fanboy NEETS on opening night so you can look at Rocket Raccoon's ballsack on a 30-foot screen, there's practically no social utility for the modern movie theater. Why spend $80 for one night out when you can just spend $15 a month and get a literally unlimited amount of cinematic entertainment across ALL of your multimedia devices, wherever you are in the world? 

The writing isn't just on the wall, it's practically welded onto it with big, blinking neon letters. At no point in consumer history have Americans EVER chosen a more expensive, less mobile option over a less expensive, more mobile one. Never, ever, in history. The boombox got supplanted by the iPod, the CRT monitor got supplanted by the plasma screen tablet and the fact your city probably has 78 McDonald's and zero sit-down, family-style diners tells you everything you need to know about the American consumer's need (not want) for high-speed, low-cost delivery models. 

Hell, at this point CHINA's communist, godless movie industry will probably start raking in more moolah than Hollywood by 2022, 2023 at the absolute latest. The common folk don't have the time, nor the patience, nor the desire to shell out $100 for two and a half hours of "entertainment" and oil-slicked popcorn no more; and the industry's awe-inspiring hubris that "event movies" like Infinity War are going to safeguard it from going the way of one-hour photo and VCR repair diplomas is just going to make its inevitable downfall all the more enjoyable to watch from afar. 

And after emptying my wallet this last go at-it, all I can do is reiterate the nearly 30-year-old verbiage of that sage prophet, Chuck D. — burn, Hollywood burn, indeed.

...and saliva fetishism. Lots of it.

Speaking of wishful thinking, here's to hoping that Disobedience inspires an entire generation of filmgoers to consider spit-kissing a mainstream activity. Yep, thanks to director Sebastian Lelio, we might just be on the verge of saliva-swapping transforming from a niche weirdo porno perversion into a bona-fide, culturally accepted display of affection, considering the marquee moment of his new flick is when lesbo lovers Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams take turns hocking loogies in one another's mouths for sexual gratification. Sure, we've seen mainstream-ish directors trudge this territory before, like in The Neon Demon, but considering THAT movie featured spit-kissing between one living actor and a cadaver, well, let's just say Disobedience has a better chance of making ooky-mouth go legit than the oeuvre of Nicholas Winding Refn. I can see it now — lovelorn couples taking turns dripping goobers down each other's esophagi in amorous embraces at the airport. Middle schoolers getting written up for coughing phlegm into one another's mouths in-between classes. Hell, instead of the traditional wedding buss, mayhap we'll start seeing spouses slobbering sputum all over each other like porn stars now, and if it ever does, we'll probably have this movie right here to thank.

The movie starts off with this rabbi talking about the differences between beasts and humans before dropping dead on the floor of the synagogue. Then we cut to Rachel Weisz (who looks like a middle age Lordes, know that I think about it) taking pictures of old dudes covered in tattoos. Then she goes to a bar and lets some random guy shag her in the bathroom, then she ice skates for a bit looking all disappointed in herself. So — not that you really needed me to tell you this — yes, this is indeed one of those pretentious, "arthouse"-type movies. Then she goes to a house party hosted by another rabbi and she drinks tea and smokes in the kitchen and she busts this one dude's balls by making fun of the woman he married and then Rachel McAdams shows up in a brown wig and dressed like a 19-year-old bible college student. Then Weisz goes downstairs and listens to some Jew-singing, then Addams lets Weiss spend the night at her place and she starts kvetching about whether or not she loved the old dead rabbi as much as everybody else did. Then she starts asking McAdams if she and her yarmulke-sporting husband are happy being married and they say "of course" so you KNOW they're having some major relationship difficulties going on. Then Weisz goes to her old rabbi's grave and we find out the dead dude is actually her father, which is a surprise to me because I didn't know rabbis were allowed to have sex with anything but 12-year-old boys.

Then McAdams resumes teaching singing classes at an all-girl school while Weiss goes out and buys some apple strudel. Then McAdams goes home and takes her wig off and shows us her buttcheeks and her tit-tays for about two seconds and then she and her husband do the nasty. Then they go to dinner and talk about feminism for a bit and how women "erase their own histories" by taking their husbands' last names  and Weisz said she wants to sell her dad's old house and all the old Jews are agog and she criticizes them for forcing her into "institutional obligation" or some other shit and apparently, all this fierce independent womanhood makes McAdams a bit moist in her panties so she just sits there staring lovingly at her throughout the rest of the dinner.

Then Weisz gets a haircut and another old Jew man yells at her for not being there when her father died. Then McAdams runs into an old friend that has like 16 kids at a grocery store and she runs into McAdams again and they decide to go back to their place and Weisz turns on the radio until she finds a station playing The Cure and then they just walk around the house for a bit talking about reading the Torah and then all of a sudden McAdams starts squeezing on Weisz's boobies and then they start kissing on the lips and McAdams starts to freak out a little and then they stop smooching and Weisz starts to leave the house but then she goes down stairs and they start making out again and yes, you probably will get a boner at this point.

They go for a walk afterwards and Weisz starts smoking and they say they've never done anything lesbian before and then McAdams starts smoking, too, and they both confess that they have fantasies about doing it with other women. Then they go into a tunnel and make out some more but some people show up so McAdams has to vamoose. Then McAdams goes home and yanks her wig off and takes a shower and you can kinda' see her breasts through the opaque glass but not really. Then her husband barges in the bathroom and you get a shot of her yamboosas, but only from the reflection in the mirror. But hey — as far as I'm concerned, that still counts.

Then McAdams goes back to school and she's giving a lecture to her students about blood sacrifices or something like that and McAdams' husband starts going through the protocols to become a rabbi himself. Then McAdams tells Weisz she just can't do the whole clam-digging thing and Weisz says she's leaving town then they go to a subway (the kind with trains, not hoagies) and wind up in a dark alleyway somewhere in London so they can snog some more. Then they get a hotel room and McAdams starts kissing on Weisz's boobies and goes down on her and they take turns fingering each other while museum elevator music plays and then we arrive at the moment of truth — the scene where they FINALLY start playing ooky-mouth with each other. And yeah, call me kinky, but watching Evelyn Carnahan from The Mummy turn Regina George's mouth into a saliva receptacle is pretty dadgum hot, if I may say so myself.

Anyhoo, they get done munching each other's fish tacos and they smoke cigarettes indoor and Weisz asks McAdams if she can take her picture and then her rabbi husband comes home and tries to get frisky with her because they always do it on a Friday (apparently, it's some sort of Hebrew thing, I think) but this time around she rebuffs his advances, goes to the bathroom sink and starts blowing chunks. Then McAdams tells her husband she kissed Weisz and then he starts shaking her and shoots her a mean look and walks out the door, all stoic-looking and stuff even though you just KNOW he be mad as hell right now.

There's some more Jew-singing (I'm sure there's a technical name for it, but I'm too lazy to look it up) and McAdams' husband just stands there looking like he swallowed a turd the whole time so he goes home and pours himself a stiff drink and by the time he, his wife and Weisz have dinner he's already three sheets to the wind and you kept expecting him to freak out, but he never does and Weisz hops in a cab and gets the heck out of (proverbial) Dodge. Then McAdams socks a toboggan over her head, hops on a bus, goes to a pharmacy, buys a whole bunch of drugs and starts praying up against her closet (get it?) like it was the Wailing Wall. Then Weisz and McAdams' husband (I think they might be siblings, you'll have to double-check Wikipedia on your own time) check out the dead rabbi's cleaned out house and he tells her he wish his wife never met her and then McAdams tells her she's pregnant and gives a speech about fearing her child will grow up in an oppressive Jewish millieu that will deprive her (of course she assumes her child is going to be female) of personal liberty and that she's leaving him and her husband, because he's the world's biggest cuck, just walks out the door like it ain't no thang. Then everybody goes to the formal wake or whatever the Jew-equivalent of a Christian wake is and they all try to avoid making eye contact and Weisz asks McAdams to come to New York with her and McAdams' husband is announced as the new rabbi and he tries to give a speech but his nerves are so jangled he can't read his notes and then he starts going on a rant about what "choice" and "freedom" really means and I think it's supposed to parallel what the dead rabbi was saying about men and women and beasts at the very beginning of the movie and of course the whole diatribe is a big "fuck you" to his wife and then he looks her dead in the eyes and screams "YOU ARE FREE!"  Then all three of them have a group hug outside and McAdams' husband tells Weisz "shalom" and he's not even mad she had an affair with his wife no more and she gets in a cab and McAdams chases after her to give her one last smooch and tells her she will make a great mother and Weisz starts crying and she visits her daddy's grave so she can take a picture of it and yep, that's how the movie ends.

We've got one dead body. Four breasts. Two exposed female buttocks. Multiple lesbian liplocks. Gratuitous Torah reading. Gratuitous kvetching. And the thing more or less responsible for this movie existing in the first place ... some serious spit-swapping fu (expect mono cases to spike coast-to-coast once this thing starts making the rounds on HBO.)

Starring Rachel Weisz as the free-spirited photog that likes to smoke indoors and take pictures of everything; Rachel McAdams as the wig-wearing closeted lesbo that feels iffy about the Jewish patriarchy; Alessandro Nivola as the cucked rabbi who's totally cool with his wife getting her tuna taco licked by another woman; and Nicholas Woodeson as the rabbi who says a bunch of stuff about man and beasts at the beginning of the move then promptly keels over.

Written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz (yep, another Catholic screenplay writer, obviously) and Sebastian Lelio, who also directed all this shit.

Call me crazy, but I kind of enjoyed it. It's not a great movie by any stretch, but the acting is pretty good and there's a lot of good atmosphere building up to the grand finale where the rabbi-in-training finally confronts his philandering spouse about all of that snatch-diving she's been doing on the down-low ... although the ending, obviously, is the text-book definition of anticlimactic. I give it a decent two and a half tofu dogs out of four. Jimbo says check it out, but wait until it starts playing on Showtime so you can whack your weasel to it.

Actually, that's one of the better special effects in the movie.

Speaking of shameless, disgusting things, that brings us to our second feature of the week, the new Japaheeno horror-comedy Vampire Clay, which might just be the first zombie movie ever made about the standards being too darned high in Tokyo's art academies.

The movie starts off with this middle-aged hag unearthing a bag of modeling clay in her backyard, and since this is a horror movie, of course it ain't no regular kind of modeling clay ... but we'll get back to that in just a minute. First, we've got to meet all the students at this one countryside art college, which I'm pretty sure is the Japanese equivalent of going to DeVry. Then the new girl in school unties the bag of mystery clay  and starts making facsimiles of starfruit with it and then she thinks she sees it breathing when she spritzes it with water and then their teacher comes in and tells them to not be so goddamned conventional with their designs, which considering they are Japanese, after all, is kinda' like trying to teach a fish to ride a unicycle.

So the students (like Suspiria, they're all predominantly female) get kind of subversively catty with each other and then the clay grows penis-like tendrils and starts stealing their razor blades. Then one of the girls pokes herself on a discarded razor and bleeds all over a ceramic ashtray in the making and this old one dude shows up and just stares at the bike rack and he sees somebody dug a hole in the backyard and he has flashbacks of a giant hot dog monster eating everybody and then he starts running to the hills like a madman. Then the clay escapes at night and starts lurching around the place looking like a sentient dog turd and eating all the school's pet gerbils. 

Then the students kvetch about not being good enough to get into a real art school and their teacher has flashbacks to her husband cheating on her and then — conveniently enough — an earthquake strikes. Then they bicker and argue over the role of "individuality" in modern art some more and then this one girl sneaks into the art room after hours and one of the clay sculptures comes alive and starts eating her hand. Then it barfs out the gerbil it ate later and it sprouts tendrils and jumps in her mouth and she has to poke the possessed clay head with a fork but when she goes to text for help her OWN fingers turn into taffy and next thing you know her hands are melding together into a big old wad of intestinal bubble gum and then one of her arms falls off and then the other arm turns into a Play-Doh whale and eats her entire upper torso.

Then the girl everybody thought got ate by Play-Doh shows up out of the woods and she razor blades another student while she's grabbing a smoke so she can eat her blood, then her face falls off and she starts shoving her big cancer-squid clay hands inside her gizzards. Then she shows up a couple of minutes later looking all normal and stuff, but right before she can attack her teacher with a box cutter the only male student there accidentally bumps it out of her hands. Then she does something truly evil — she eats one of her fellow students' rice lunches without their permission. Then she grabs a butcher knife and cuts his face with it then a set of Kermit the Frog lips pop out of her head and start eating him. Then he's possessed with Play-Doh fever and he's running around waving a butcher knife around like Michael Myers and he ends up hacking off his own hand and then more clay tendrils start chasing after another girl, then he replaces his arm with a triangular ruler and the girl shoves it through his left cheek and then he starts trying to headbutt her like Bam Bam Bigelow and that's when the teacher shows up to shove a lunchbox through his face and knock his head clean off his shoulders. Then the crazy old man from the beginning of the mouth shows up with a portable heater and dries his ass up before stomping him into a million billion pieces.

Then we get the back story on the titular vampire clay. Apparently some autistic sculptor sold his soul to the devil so he could meet the requirements of a big restaurant order or something like that. But apparently he lived on top a toxic waste dump so he had super cancer, so he decided to start making sculptures with his own blood and the restaurant guy Jews him out of his royalties so they get into a kung fu fight and the sculptor keels over and I think his soul entered the sculpture's body or something. Oh, and that restaurant guy is the crazy old man, because apparently, even shitty Japanese movies nowadays need some sort of midway-point plot twist.

Then the surviving two girls, their teacher and the old dude start rounding up all the stray pieces of clay they can find, then one of the zombies shows up with a Mr. Potato Head doll growing out of the left side of her face and she throws a scalpel at them so the old dude has no choice but to blowtorch her. Then there's an earthquake and a bag of dried clay gets ripped open and the old dude breathes in the dust and he gives him autistic sculptor zombie flu, too and he starts coughing up blood and a giant frog-retard sculpture starts growing out of his chest and turns into a herky-jerky stop-motion midget that's ready to eat everybody left in the cast.  Which means you know EXACTLY what to expect in the grand finale:  two girls, one claymation monster, one VERY unreliable homemade blowtorch and a whole hell of a lot of things getting stabbed over and over again ... only for the final 15 minutes of the movie to consist of the sole surviving art student consoling her teacher for not getting into the good arts academy when she was younger and them burying the zombie clay in one of them suicide forests Japan's all famous for.

And yes, there is a sequel hook, of course — so next year, be on the lookout for the follow-up, Vampire Mixed Media.  

We've got seven dead bodies. No breasts. Six zombies. One dead gerbil. Multiple claymation rape attempts. Arms roll. Hands roll. Face slashing. Head stomping. Bloody face picking. Gratuitous slow-motion effect, for no discernible reason whatsoever. Gratuitous business partner battering. Box cutter fu. Fork fu. Plastic ruler fu. Blowtorch fu. And the thing more or less responsible for this movie existing in the first place ... some heavy duty ceramics fu.

Starring Ena Fujita as the final girl ... or, at least, the final girl who isn't in the clutches of menopause; Asuka Kurosawa as the art school teacher who has to protect her students from zombies using plastic compasses; Kanji Tsuda as the unscrupulous restaurateur who still feels guilty about turning his business partner into a  piece of sentient sculpting clay 20 years later; and Kanji Tsuda as the creator of the titular vampire clay, who probably won't become the next big horror genre icon, no matter how bad the makers of the movie tried.

Written and directed by first time feature film director and special effects maestro Soichi Umezawa, who has to be given a little bit of credit for trying to merge The Thing with Heathers for about 45 yen and almost being halfway successful at it, to boot.

It might be a little too wacky for hardcore horror fans and a little too gross for the normies, and while it's far from being a brilliant, subversive, Gozu or Visitor Q type arthouse J-horror flick, it's still pretty enjoyable for what it is. I give it an OK two and a half tofu dogs out of four. Jimbo says check it out, but only if you've got way too much time to kill one rainy afternoon.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The 21 Best Games of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Reliving the most memorable moments of the most recent NHL postseason …

By: Jimbo X

There's no doubt about it — the Stanley Cup Playoffs are the best yearly rite in sports. Better than the Super Bowl, better than March Madness, better than International Fight Week, yup, even better than the New Japan G1 tournament. And that, naturally, is for a lot of reasons.

To me, the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs has always been something of an unofficial start to spring, ushering us from the cold, icy pointlessness of winter (ostensibly, everything in-between the Pro Bowl and WrestleMania) into the firm grips of legitimate summertime, complete with warm weather, a full slate of early blockbuster popcorn movies and, of course, Lebron James finding a new way to hunch the proverbial pooch over in *his* playoffs bracket.

Really, I've been smitten with the Stanley Cup Playoffs ever since I first got ESPN2 and was able to watch the 1993 postseason on TV. Soooooo many unforgettable moments.

The curse of McSorley's stick in '93. The Rangers beating the Canucks in '94. All the fans throwing plastic rats on the ice in '96. Steve Yzerman's series-winner rattled off from mid-ice in '97. The no-goal that was a goal that gave Dallas the Cup in '99. The all-star '02 Wings murder-death-killing the Avs in Game 7. J.S. Giguere's all-time performance in '03 … that culminated with him crying his eyes out while the Devils kissed the cup in one of the single-most heart-rending things I've ever seen in pro sports. Tampa Bay's phantom goal in Game 6 of the '04 Finals. ALL of the seven-game series in 2006. The fans chanting "GO PENS GO!" in 2008 while the Red Wings celebrated another Stanley Cup win on Pitty ice … only for the Penguins to return the favor against Detroit a year later. Vancouver literally exorcising the demons of the past against Chicago in 2011 … and then sitting their entire city on fire about two months later. The Kings' miracle runs in 2012 and 2014. Watching Sid the Kid punch a black dude in the face on live TV last year and not only not being called a racist for it, but not even getting a penalty for it, neither.

As much as I love football, boxing and MMA, there's just some kind of magical aura to playoffs hockey that nothing else in sports can compete with. It feels hopelessly ethereal and transcendent from time itself simultaneously, and every year I can't wait to stay up all night watching hairy Canadians (but not the Canadiens) shoot it out in triple and quadruple overtime affairs where not a single fan leaves their seat and spectators practically live and die on each and every wrist shot, with the ping of vulcanized rubber hitting crossbar no doubt causing many an old-timer’s ticker to call it quits right then and there.

Of course, the 2017-2018 edition was no exception, and with the zambonis in deep storage until October, what better time to reflect and reminisce on the absolute best games the postseason-that-was had to offer? Sock on your Wayne Gretzky jersey and start humming the theme song from NHL ‘94, fuck-boys … it’s time to indulge in some instant nostalgia.

April 13, 2018
Vegas Golden Knights 2, Los Angeles Kings 1

Friday the 13th certainly wasn't unlucky for the Golden Knights, as the expansion team won a grueling goaltending dual against divisional rivals L.A. Alex Tuch got Vegas on the board first with a power play goal around the 15 minute mark of the first period, and Paul LaDue answered in kind for the Kings with a power play goal of his own around the 15 minute mark of the second period. That would be all the scoring allowed over the next 45 minutes, until the moment Erik Haula beat Jonathan Quick at - you guessed it! - the 15 minute mark of 2. O.T. to give Vegas a 2-0 series lead ... which, as we all know by now, quickly turned into a clean sweep.

April 16, 2018
San Jose Sharks 8, Anaheim Ducks 1

No less than EIGHT different players scored in San Jose's game 3 throttling of in-state rivals Anaheim. Martin Jones eventually finished the game with 45 saves, while Ducks' goaltenders John Gibson (19 saves on 24 shots) and Ryan Miller (9 saves on 12 shots) did their best respective imitations of Swiss cheese all night long.

April 17, 2018
Washington Capitals 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 2

Four out of the six games between the Caps and the Jackets went to overtime, and this double OT thriller was easily the most exciting of the quadrilogy. Down 2-1 late in the third period, Artemi Panarin knotted it up with a goal with four minutes left in regulation. After 29 minutes of extra hockey, Lars Eller lit up the lamp around the midway point of 2 O.T. The win was the big tide turner in the series; after Columbus walked away with overtime victories in the first two games, the Caps then went on to sweep the Jackets in the next four games.

April 20, 2018
Winnipeg Jets 5, Minnesota Wild 0

Well, it only took 19 years, but the Atlanta Thrashers FINALLY won a playoff series. Winnipeg rounded out their 4-1 near-sweep of the Wild with a cinco-goose egg shellacking on home ice, which saw the Jets leap out to a 4-0 lead in the first period ... complete with Jacob Trouba hitting the game-winner just 30 seconds into the action.

April 22, 2018
Pittsburgh Penguins 8, Philadelphia Flyers 5

Defense? Who needs defense? In this very "Blades of Steel"-like outing, Sean Couturier of the Flyers managed to muster a hat trick DESPITE having a torn MCL, but that STILL didn't make him the game's most productive scorer. Jake Guentzel of the Pens would notch a goal with less than a minute left in the second period — with three more goals in the third, including one in the first 30 seconds of play and two that were just ten seconds apart en route to Pittsburgh's series-ending 8-5 victory.

April 23, 2018
Toronto Maple Leafs 3, Boston Bruins 1

Just hours after some Armenian dude killed ten people in Toronto with the patented VAN OF PEACE, the Maple Leafs made the hometown crowd proud with a decisive 3-1 Air Canada Centre stand against Boston. After falling behind 1-0, William Nylander and Mitch Marner put the Leafs up 2-1, with Tomas Plekanec's empty netter late in the third helping Toronto stave off elimination and force a game 7 against the Bruins.

April 25, 2018
Boston Bruins 7, Toronto Maple Leafs 4

And two days later, the Bruins dash the dreams of the Leafs in one of the most painful ways possible. After two periods of play Toronto leapt out to a 4-3 lead … only for the Bruins to bounce back in the third and score four unanswered goals — including an empty netter in the final minute — to solidify the 7-4 comeback victory on home ice.

April 28, 2018
San Jose Sharks 4, Vegas Golden Knights 3

Two days after Vegas blanked San Jose 7-0 in game one, the Sharks came back with vengeance in their eyes. Brent Burns registered goals at the two and 14 minute marks of the second period while Logan Couture snuck one past Marc-Andre Fleury to make it a 3-2 San Jose lead heading into the third period. Nate Schmidt beat Martin Jones at the 13 minute of period number three-o to make it a 3-3 deadlock, and after 25 minutes of bonus hockey, Logan Couture notched his second goal of the night five minutes into 2.O.T. to give San Jose the W.

April 29, 2018
Nashville Predators 5, Winnipeg Jets 4

Ryan Johansen got the Preds up early with a goal less than 30 seconds into the first period. Goals from Dustin Byfuglien and Mark Scheifele gave the Jets a 2-1 lead heading into the second period, only for P.K. Subban and Viktor Arvidsson to fire back and make it a 3-2 game for Nashville prior to the third stanza. Brandon Tanev tied it 3-3 with a goal five minutes into the third, only for Ryan Johansen to make it a 4-3 outing barely 30 seconds later. Mark Scheifele, however, tied the game with a dramatic goal with roughly a minute left in regulation. After a scoreless fourth period, Kevin Fiala made himself hero of the day when he knocked the double overtime game winner for Nashville past Connor Hellebuyck.

April 30, 2018
Vegas Golden Knights 4, San Jose Sharks 3

San Jose took a 1-0 lead when Timo Meier scored on Marc-Andre Fleury 7 minutes into the second period — only for Colin Miller, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith to score three unanswered goals for Vegas over the next eight minutes. Evander Kane made it 3-2 with a goal at the eight minute mark of the third period, and with time running out, Tomas Hertl scored a dramatic goal with barely two minutes left in regulation to make it a tied game. Alas, San Jose's noble comeback attempt was squelched by William Karlsson, who landed the overtime kill shot for the Knights about eight minutes into extra hockey.

May 04, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Boston Bruins 3

A pretty boring series overall — after the Bruins took game one 6-2, T.B. went on to win the next four games — this was pretty much the only saving grace of an otherwise totally forgettable second round matchup. Knotted up 2-2 heading into the third frame, Patrice Bergeron scored his second goal of the evening about six minutes in. Alas, the Bruins lead was short-lived, as Steven Stamkos made it 3-all with about seven minutes left in regulation. It didn't take long for Tampa Bay to end it in overtime, though — Daniel Girardi rattled a good 'un past Tuukka Rask barely three minutes into play to give the Lightning a 3-1 series lead.

May 07, 2018
Washington Capitals 2, Pittsburgh Penguins 1

It's the "Toshiaki Kawada finally pinning Mitsuharu Misawa in a singles match that actually matters" moment the NHL has been waiting on FOR YEARS. Oddly enough, Ovechkin at long last got his W against Sid the Kid in a game in which neither he nor his generational arch-rival actually lit up the lamp. Instead, it was Evgeny Kuznetsov, of all people, who came through with the series clincher for the Caps, slapping the vulcanized rubber through Matt Murray's guard about five minutes into overtime to give Washington their first conference finals appearance in 20 years.

May 10, 2018
Winnipeg Jets 5, Nashville Predators 1

Another year, another President's Trophy winner getting bounced in the second round. Goals from Tyler Myers and Paul Stastny gave the Jets an early 2-0 lead (thus resulting in Pekka Rinne being pulled from goaltending duties) but when P.K. Subban absolutely CRUSHED a power play goal, it seemed like the tides were bound to turn. Well … not so much, seeing as how that would be the ONLY goal of the night for the Predators. Another power play goal from Stastny, plus a two-goal performance from Mark Scheifele, ultimately made it an impressive 5-1 road shellacking for the former Thrashers … in turn, paving the way for the first conference finals held in Winnipeg since the heyday of the friggin' World Hockey Administration.

May 12, 2018
Winnipeg Jets 4, Vegas Golden Knights 2

The Manitobans hopped out to a three-goal lead before the eight minute mark of the first period, with Connor Hellebuyck ultimately making 19 saves on 21 shots. Indeed, the Jets looked so crisp, so fresh and so fast that it seemed like they were on course to possibly sweep the Cinderella Knights out of the playoffs. Which, of course, meant they would be eliminated from the WCF eight days later, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there …

May 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Washington Capitals 2

Washington won the first two games of there series in convincing fashion, and Tampa Bay battled back to even it two games apiece heading into game five of the ECF. Cedric Paquette notched up a goal less than 20 seconds in for Tampa Bay, and the Lightning (who, amazingly, have made an appearance in three out of the last four Eastern Conference Finals) held a 3-0 lead early in the second period. Goals from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ovechkin provided some drama, but the Bolts would nonetheless prevail in the Amalie Arena home stand, skating away with a 3-2 win … and a 3-2 series lead.

May 20, 2018
Vegas Golden Knights 2, Winnipeg Jets 1

After dropping the first game of the series, the Knights went on to chalk up three consecutive wins over Winnipeg over the course of six days. Game five took place on a Sunday afternoon in Winnipeg, with Alex Tuch getting Vegas on the board first with a goal around the five-minute mark of period numero uno. Josh Morrissey tied it up with a Jets goal around 17 minutes in, but a Ryan Reaves score around the midpoint of the second period was all Vegas needed to walk away with the victory … and, improbably, a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals their very first year in existence.

May 21, 2018
Washington Capitals 3, Tampa Bay Lightning 0

With their backs against the wall the Caps did something they haven't done since drafting Ovechkin 14 years ago … for once, they *didn't* choke. After a scoreless first period, T.J. Oshie broke the deadlock, with Devante Smith-Pelly adding to the shutout about ten minutes into the third period. And, of course, Oshie *would* be the one to notch the empty netter in the final minute of play, wouldn't he?

May 23, 2018
Washington Capitals 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 0

Ovechkin scored about a minute into the game, with Andre Burakovsky racking up two goals in the second period. The Caps managed to maintain their 3-0 lead, all the way until the bitter end when a Nicklas Backstrom empty netter gave Washington the 4-0 series-clincher; Braden Holtby finished the affair stopping 29 out of 29 pucks.

May 26, 2018
Vegas Golden Knights 6, Washington Capitals 4

The first game of the 2018 SCF was definitely the wildest and wackiest. Colin Miller put Vegas on the board at the 7-minute mark of the first, only for back to back goals from Brett Connolly and Nicklas Backstrom less than a minute apart making it a 2-1 game for the Caps … only for William Karlsson to sneak one past Braden Holtby with two minutes left in the first to tie it up. The second ended in 3-3 deadlock following push-and-pull goals from Reilly Smith and John Carlson, and the third began with Tom Wilson beating Marc-Andre Fleury roughly a minute in to make it 4-3 Washington. From there, though it was ALL Vegas, as Ryan Reaves and Tomas Nosek notched up three more goals to give the Knights the impressive come-from-behind win.

May 30, 2018
Washington Capitals 3, Vegas Golden Knights 2

This was the exact opposite of the first game of the championships series, with goaltending taking center stage instead of game uno's Blades of Steel-like offense. Goals from James Neal and Lars Eller, respectively, made it 1-1 after 20 minutes of ice time, with Ovechkin and Brooks Orpik putting the Caps ahead 3-1. A late power play goal from Shea Theodore made it a 3-2 game at the end of the second period, as Fleury and Holtby held steady — successfully blocking a combined 21 shots on goal — in the third and final frame.

June 07, 2018
Washington Capitals 4, Vegas Golden Knights 3

And this is how the Knights' remarkable freshman season ends … with a heart-breaking, at-home loss with the other guys skating around with Lord Stanley on THEIR ice. After a scoreless first period, both teams exploded, with goals from Nate Schmidt, David Perron and Reilly Smith giving the Knights a 3-2 lead heading into the third. A Devante Smith-Pelly goal about 10 minutes in, however, made it a tied game, and at about 12 and a half minutes in, Lars Ellers rattled off what would prove to be the Cup-clinching goal of the game, as the Caps held on to a one-goal victory … and their first championship celebration after 43 long and arduous seasons of sheer suck.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Which Team Should We Root For In The 2018 World Cup?

With no American team to rally behind, we break down the field to determine which squad the USA should support this summer ...

By: Jimbo X

In case you were wondering, no, the United States men's soccer team didn't make qualify for the 2018 World Cup. There's a lot of reasons as to why, but long story short: our boys blew it big time in the CONCACAF qualifiers, to the point they even jobbed out to Trinidad and Tobago, a country that can't even decide what it wants its name to be. Indeed, much shame befell the land … or would have, if it wasn't in the middle of football season and anybody had noticed.

But here we are eight months later and now it's sinking in that we don't have a home team to cheer for. Of course, watching the world's biggest sporting spectacle without a proverbial horse in the race is about as much fun as picking out dryer lint, so how about we, as a county, determine which surrogate team us Americans are going to be supporting this summer?

Let's take a gander at our options a little more in-depth …

Russia - They're hosting the tournament this year and, that whole hacking business and almost accidentally triggering World War III a couple of times stuff aside, I think they're a pretty viable proxy. I mean, they did give us Fedor, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Tetris, which is clearly three times as many worthwhile things as Canada has given us. Just, uh, overlook the fact that child porn is legal over there, though. And the parts of the country that are still radioactive wastelands. And most of you LGBTQI people don't got no rights in most of the country. And at least 99.9995 percent of the land mass is just snow.

Saudi Arabia - …when Russia isn't the one with the worst human rights records in the group, you KNOW you're dealing with one sketch-ass pool.

Egypt - On one hand, they did build the Pyramids. On the other hand, they really haven't done much of anything since then, really.

Uruguay - This is one of those countries we total forget exists, that has no real discernible cultural features or noteworthy residents. Also, the country is somehow 88 percent white, and I'm still having trouble firing out how that hell that managed to happen.

Portugal - Pretty much the only thing I know about Portugal is that their peoples like to fish a lot and they decriminalized heroin. Which, yeah, makes them a pretty strong candidate to be our *temporary* boys on principle alone.

Spain - You either love the Spaniards for their romanticism or loathe them for their colonialism. Personally, I dislike them because Vega from Street Fighter II is a real painus in the anus, and that alone disqualifies them from contenderhood in my book.

Morocco - You've got Casablanca, you've got Ali: Fear Eats The Soul and that's pretty much it. Fun fact: if you started swimming in a straight line from the Georgia coast, eventually you'd wind up here. But you'd probably drown first, because that's a really long time swimming.

Iran - You ever notice how the Iranian flag kinda looks like Italian flag, and that kinda looks like the Mexican flag? Well, I don't like any of them, and although the prospects of an Iran/Saudi Arabia match-up down the line would be a hoot and a half, I just can't in good conscience lend my support to any population that doesn't believe in hot dogs.

France - LOL, no.

Australia - They have kangaroos, they drink a lot, they're all descended from criminals, most of their country is an inhospitable wasteland and they gave us both Men at Work and Mel Gibson. This has to be the frontrunner thus far.

Peru - Paddington comes from Peru, and I love me some Paddington. That's enough to vault them into the top five, maybe even top three for me.

Denmark - All of the Scandinavian countries kinda' blur together. Isn't this the one with really, really high taxes? Yeah, well, not even technically owning Greenland can overcome a 60.2 percent taxation rate, homey.

Argentina - According to Wikipedia, their populace is 96 percent white. In the middle of South America. And their prime minister used to be the GMLFiest GMLF of all-time. Make your own call on this one.

Iceland - Which is actually green, per the second Mighty Ducks movie. Their cities are way too hard to spell, though, so that automatically disbars them from competition.

Croatia - Their top export is "MMA fighters who kick people in the head really, really hard," so naturally we'd give them an automatic first round bye.

Nigeria - Nigerians might just be my favorite ethnic group on the planet. They're basically the black version of Jews, and if you've ever had a freshman social studies course with them in college, you'll know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. That, and I'm pretty sure I have a wealthy uncle who lives there, who's about to send me a whole bunch of money just as soon as I email him my birth certificate and credit card deets.

Brazil - They gave us BJJ, one really good Elite Squad movie and they'll probably be in a full-fledged civil war by the time the 2020 World Cup rolls around. Also, their uniforms look really boss.

Switzerland - Same deal as Denmark. Too cold, taxes are too high they can't even afford a full-sized flag. To heck with 'em.

Costa Rica - Growing up I was always told in school they didn't have a standing army. Except they actually do, only they don't call it an army, they call it "public forces." Sorry, but I just can't trust any country that won't come clean about that kind of stuff.

Serbia - All I know about this country is derived from A Serbian Film. Therefore, they immediately hop to the front of the line.

Germany - They started two World Wars and they lost two World Wars. But even worse, they gave us David Hasselhoff.

Mexico - Even without the border stuff, I’ve always thought they were kinda’ overrated. Yeah, the food is great and lucha libre is awesome, but outside of that, what have they given us?

Sweden - Great, another indistinguishable Scandinavian country. At least their meatballs are pretty good, though.

South Korea - Eh, I’m neutral. Their hyper-violent kung fu movies are definitely A-OK, but good lord, is their pop music atrocious.

Belgium - The Belgians are known for three things, and three things only; Jean Claude Van-Damme, waffles, and enslaving, torturing and massacring a whole bunch of black people in Africa and somehow not getting anywhere near as much flak for it as you’d imagine. Needless to say — how much you like pancakes and the Kickboxer movies is going to sway your opinion on these guys.

Panama - They’ve got a canal (that we dug for them, BTW), Van Halen wrote a song about them and, yeah, that’s pretty much all they’re offering. They’re basically just a poor man’s Costa Rica, and considering how poor Costa Rica already is, we’re talking really poor here.

Tunisia - Easily the obscurest country in the tourney. I bet you don’t even know which continent these people are on, do you? Well, it’s Africa, only the part that has Muslims instead of the black folks. About 90 percent of the country is inhospitable desert wasteland,  so if you like Las Vegas, you’ll probably be right at home here.

England - We literally fought the Revolutionary War so we wouldn’t end up like these tools. I’ll root for literally anybody in the tournament besides these clods, and that includes Mexico. Think about that for a minute.

Poland - Yeah, we’ve heard all the jokes about screen doors on submarines and going to the sun at night. But to be fair, they are pretty much the only country in Europe that ain’t letting the E.U. bend ‘em over backwards, and for showing just a little bit of backbone we ought to give them just a little bit of regard.

Senegal - It’s pretty much just another random African country. They should totally rename themselves Wakanda to boost tourism.

Colombia - I’m pretty sure they were invited just to supply everybody.

Japan - They gave us Pride FC, the best pro wrestling on the planet, the best video games, Takashi Miike and they’re unapologetically xenophobic. If it wasn’t for Pearl Harbor and the Betamax, they’d probably get the nod.

So after all of that, I think it’s safe to say we can eliminate quite a few countries from contention right off the bat (England, France, Mexico, anything anywhere close to Norway, etc.) So I guess it’s probably easier to just tier these countries off, based on how similar they are to America — if not in practice and execution, at least in theory and spirit.

Poland, Japan, Croatia, Australia

Uruguay, Portugal, Russia, Brazil,

Germany, South Korea, Belgium, Serbia, Peru

Argentina, Nigeria, Spain

Senegal, Colombia, Morocco

Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Costa Rica, Panama, Tunisia

England, France, Mexico, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Sweden

Personally, If I had to pick one team to pull for this World Cup, I’d probably lean towards Poland. Let’s face it, after spending half a century getting gang-raped by the Ruskies and the Krauts and being universally considered retarded for the other half, they’re long overdue for some kind of positive affirmation, and you have to give mad props to any peoples that take pride in telling the European Union to take a flying fuck at a rolling bagel. So let’s give our boys Rob Lewandowski, Michal Pazdan, Kamil Glik and Lukasz Fabianski same dap; they might be a buncha' Pollocks, but in this day and age, that ain’t such a bad thing to be … especially when the alternative is being French, Mexican or, god help us, Dutch.

So on behalf of the Internet Is In America — and by proxy, America herself — let’s all share a hearty chant of “WAR POLAND!” and rally our adopted kinfolk in red and white to victory.

I mean, they deserve our support for their sausage alone, really ...