Monday, February 26, 2007

The Utah Office Of Secular Rights Infringement Presents...

That right there is a liquor stamp. It means that this liquor was made in Utah. It's as unlawful to remove as those tags on mattresses, and you can't bring alcohol into Utah what don't have a stamp on it (giving Utah the mysterious and oppressive designation of 'control state'). The stamp signifies that this alcohol has an alcohol content of about 3.2% by weight. I don't know much about percentages, but I read that beer in Louisiana hovers around six percent. So I've managed to land myself in the one state that is more iron-fisted about alcohol than the one with parishes instead of counties.
Control state... wasn't that where they all lived in 1984?

Bonsai Report #2

Squat. Winter may not be the best time to grow a plant.

Blue Desert

This is one I took out of the galley service door somewhere over Arizona. We're up so high, you can actually see the curvature of the Earth. Or that may just be the curvature of the lens in my crappy digital camera. Either way, I thought it looked cool.

The Shower Droid

Overnighted in Edmonton, which is in Alberta, Canada. Didn't have much time on the ground, but did manage to see two things of interest. One was some deer tracks in the snow. The second was this thing.

It was in the shower, and I didn't have the guts to see what came out of it. But it's a great idea. All your shower condiments in one convenient spot. One-stop showering. Those progressive Canadians.
I also found myself in a conversation with some Edmontonians on the plane, and during an egocentric moment of this conversation, I asked if they remembered the Kia commercial with the screaming Cajun and the dork with the alligator. They did. So that's two provinces I've conquered. Rock.
On the way back into the states, I managed to get my passport stamped with a U.S. stamp. You don't usually get those unless you're flying in from across the pond. It's just been a slaptastic trip all around.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

How To Make An Entire Flight Crew Panic

OK, I just want to state up front that this whole thing was my fault.
On the flight attendant phone, there are four buttons. One calls the other flight attendant phone, one calls the flight deck, one goes out over the public address system, and the last one calls the flight deck. You'll have noticed that two of these buttons call the flight deck. The difference is, that first one doesn't make the flashing red 'emergency' light go off in the flight deck. The second one, the one that's right next to the PA button, does.
I think you see where this is going.
Today, just after we landed our last flight of the day, I reached back to hit the PA button in order to welcome the passengers to Duluth or Tierra Del Fuego or wherever the hell we had just landed at. It's a difficult reach, because the jumpseat is in the way and the phone is way up there. And because my nerves were all twisted, my fingers mutinied and hit the emergency button instead. What follows is a transcript of the next three seconds:

CAPTAIN: "What the crap!?"
FIRST OFFICER: "What the crap!?"
PHIL, after staring blankly at the flashing EMG button for two seconds, mortified into inaction: "CRAP!"

It finally occurred to me to hang up the damn phone, at which time the FO called me immediately to ask what the emergency was. Told him I had hit the wrong button, and because he was a laid-back guy, he laughed instead of killing me on the spot. But I did have to buy the first round that night, which was OK by me, because it meant putting a beer between me and those three seconds

The Late Stock Two-Step

After you're done serving folk, you have to restock the cart, or when you go to serve more folk, there's nothing to serve them. During longer flights, this is never a problem. But on 40 minute flights, it's always an amusing experience to get things finished in time to get strapped back into the plane for landing. You end up doing what I've come to call 'The Late Stock Two-Step,' which is where you crouch down to throw three cans of something into the cart, stand halfway up to look out of the galley service door window to see if you're anywhere near the ground yet, and then repeat as needed until a) you're done, or b) you have to sit down and leave your galley a wreck.
This one isn't so much funny to read about as it is to watch someone do. But if you close your eyes right now and imagine me bouncing up and down in restrained panic, my eyes stinging from the alternating light of outside and dark of the galley, and my thighs on fire from having to maintain quarter and half flex, I bet you'll at least chuckle. One of you might even guffaw.

Friday, February 23, 2007

More Things I Always Say

Some guy asks for filet (and there's always one guy that does this) - "Sorry, we only have Chilean Sea Bass today."
Some lady wants 'just a little ice' - Holding up the glass, "This ice little enough?"
We encounter sustained light chop - "I love it when they fly straight."
We encounter one light bump - "Potholes."
Someone wants Dr. Pepper or Mountain Dew, neither of which we have - "Sorry! But if I were in charge, we'd have that."
Someone points at a drink they've brought when I ask them what they want - "Ah, I see you came prepared."
Some guy asks if we have decaf - "Nope, just the hard stuff."
Some lady from Jackson Hole wants lime with her club soda - "Sorry ma'am, no live fruit on the plane (for some reason, if the other flight attendant is gay [which is, of course, exceedingly rare], they always seem to think that's funny)."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

What Not To Say If You Want To Stay On The Plane

Today this lady gets on board, and just before we close the door, she mentions that she gets violently airsick every time she flies. During every part of flight this happens, she says. She also states that she passes out and sometimes needs mouth-to-mouth, and that the only reason she lived the last time it happened was because a doctor was there to rub ice on her face to wake her back up.
The gate agents came right back on board to take this lady back off our airplane.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Karma On The Runway

So we don't just tell you to put your seatbelt on just to be jerks... it's so you don't fly into other passengers and crack their skulls with your own during certain dicey parts of the flight. One such part is takeoff, and that's really the only time I worry about making sure passengers are seated... most of the time, I figure I already warned ya, and if you can see your own brain after you tump over in the aisle, don't come crying to me. But during a flight today, some jackass decided to get up and go in the lav right as we're getting ready to take off. You've heard the captain say, "We're number two for takeoff," right? That means what you'd think it means... that planes converge on the runway in order, and you could deduce that if you were about to take off and suddenly couldn't for some reason (for instance, some jackass decides to get up and go in the lav), you could miss your chance and have to go around. And usually, the offending jackass gets away with it, because no one knows that during his jackassery, the flight attendant calls the flight deck in a panic and says, "STOP! DON'T TAKE OFF! THERE'S A JACKASS UP!" He just goes back and sits down, and everyone thinks it's our fault we're just sitting there.
Well, our captain was a swell gal, and she waited till this jackass was on his way past everyone back to his seat to say over the intercom, "Well, ladies and gentlemen, we've missed our chance to take off, and we'll have to wait now. That's why it's important to stay seated when our good flight attendants ask you to, and not be up going to the bathroom."
At that moment, fifty-odd people hated this guy. And if you're a jackass that can't read a seatbelt sign, you need to start every flight like this.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Like JD For Glycol

This trip, I ended up out on the ramp waiting for our plane. A ramper stomped by for a smoke break and we started up a conversation about the de-ice truck. For those of you who've never flown in the snow, this is how it works: snow falls down, and gets all over the wings of the plane. The wing is no longer shaped like a wing since there is now three inches of snow on it, and the go-in-the-airedness of a plane depends on the wings being shaped like wings. So, the de-ice truck. It's a large beast with a cherry picker on the front, and a guy in the cherry picker shoots a glycol cannon at the snow on the wings. It's about 180 degrees, this glycol, and both melts the snow and glycolizes the wings so that no new snow sticks to them. Usually, a word like beast to describe a truck would be just more hyperbole on my part, but at night when the truck has its yellow flashers on, it really looks like it's breathing fire all over us.
So... I asked this guy if it's any fun to be the glycol blaster. He said it was, unless you're in the convertible one (one of them is a tiny cockpit at the end of the arm, and the other is just a bucket). He went on to explain that the glycol gets all over you during the day and everything you eat tastes sweet because of it. Ick is what I replied. And then he said something that just might be a ramper joke, but I think it's funny enough that I'm going to take it as fact: when they ingest too much glycol, they have to take a shot of Jack Daniels to counter the effects of the glycol. Like I said, probably a terminological inexactitude, but I like imagining I work for an organization that issues you a shot of Kentucky whiskey before sending you home after a hard day's work.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Finally, The Galley Service Door

Just thought you'd all like to see the Galley Service Door. This is where I spend most of my time crouched, hiding from passengers or looking at cool stuff through the window. The carnivorous galley table is out of sight behind me there, and it actually let me go without injury after this picture. It's hard to see much out of that window. It's like a very tiny TV. At least it's widescreen though.

Finally, Some Pure Drugs

It's good to know that in Bellingham, WA, people still care about quality.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Finally, Some Severe Turbulence

On our way into Jackson Hole today (yes, the name of this place is Jackson Hole), we encountered 'severe' turbulence. It's designated severe if the auto pilot won't stay on (which forces the pilots to actually fly the plane, so they can deal with the turbulence). Talk about a blast. There were 'no-stomach' roller coaster moments that lasted two whole seconds. I was laughing, the other flight attendant was laughing, and most of the passengers were laughing until the plane suddenly kicked a quarter-turn to the left. They all stopped laughing then. I still thought it was funny, and 60 now-frightened faces looking to me to see if they should panic was only that much funnier, especially because a lot of the Jackson Hole passengers are rude ski snobs who need to get shook up a bit.
There are times I love this job.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Interview With Arthur

You all remember that I recently went to Austin, and while I was there, I got to pal around with Arthur, improv actor and painter extraordinare. But how many of you feel you really know Arthur? How many of you know what's inside the heart that beats within his head? Well, you're going to know all that and more after this entry, which has been named in the literal style: welcome to Interview... With Arthur.

PHIL: You're a painter of some renown. Also, you're the only painter I know who sells work instead of just hanging it up. Why have you chosen your particular medium? What is your most and least favorite thing about your work? And why do you persist in painting almost-recognizable and smiling bits of cheese?

ARTHUR: Simply put, I paint what I like, I like what I paint. I'm not trying to please buyers, I'm trying to please my own artistic curiosities, I'm trying to explore and perfect my lines and colors one step at a time. I hardly ever use blue, which is kind of strange, considering that blue is my favorite color. I suppose my lack of experimentation with it is because I feel I would have to do it justice. I expect less from my yellows and reds, so I don't have to deal with self-censorship.

P: You're an actor of some renown. What's been your favorite role? Least favorite? What's the most interesting thing about acting, for you? What's the deal with that semi-present E in your last name? And would you please end the debate among hot young women everywhere about your supposed use of body doubles?

A: My favorite role was as the principle actor of Looking Glass Inn, an indie film that, as far as I know, only exists as unprocessed cans of film in the director's refrigerator in Indiana. One day I hope to just buy it from him and finish it myself and remember when I used to be younger and more talented. On the other end, I've seen Jigsaw so many times at this point that I cringe with every ___damn word out of my mouth.
For the time being, I'm absolutely addicted to improvisational acting with ColdTowne; it's always so free, so liberating, so spontaneous. There's a certain integrity with scripted acting, though, so I just need an excuse (and time) to get back to that. Doing Shakespeare again would be a treat.

P: You've just renovated a theater, which is already of some renown. Take us through the process. What drives you to improv? What inspired the name Coldtowne? And why do all comedy stages need brick backdrops?

A: There's a fun article about ColdTowne somewhere on As far as the theater goes, it's a blessing and curse dealing with the owner of the building, who is our greatest benefactor and greatest pain in the ass. Part of the business, though.
Brick backdrops are "urban" and "authentic", even when they're painted on. It's retarded, but we have to deal with a certain degree of audience expectation to get them to pay attention and pay for tickets, so consider them catered to.

P: Thanks for being interviewed in front of millions of readers that now feel like they know you, but will still probably never make it to Austin.

A: Get mean, Phil.

P.S. Notice how he dodges the "body double" question. That's as good as a confession to me, ladies.

Six Monthaversary, Or The Halfannual

Yesterday I became six months old at this airline. It has gone by both exceedingly quickly and like a very slow slug carrying a fifty-gallon drum full of heavy crap. I look back over some of the stuff I've done... survived a three week hell-school, moved to another state, got an apartment, got a new car, visited 13 new states, met a Mormon, ate at that funny restaurant at the LA airport, saw a mountain, had a birthday, went to Canada, snowboarded, lost Steve, gained Steve, hiked the M, took out a 900 for the first time ever, fought a flock of ducks... and it amazes me that I'm still alive. And that it's only been six months and 126 blog entries.
I now raise a glass of something heavily alcoholic to every one of you that's still here with me, to celebrate both your presence and mine. And my raise... did I mention my raise?

Nevada... The Twenty-Eighth State

Overnighted in Reno last night. That's right... that gaping hole on the left side of the Where The Hell I've Been Map is gone forever.
Wish the actual overnight had been as sweeping as that last sentence. Oddly enough, it's a place with a lot of gambling establishments. We stayed at a place called The Nugget. That makes me think of a chicken nugget, which is rather small, but this place had enough floors for us to be on the 18th. Went down to ground level to try to find an eatery, but it was only gambling places as far as one could see. What do Nevadians eat? I was not amused with these places, having worked on a gambling boat for a short time. Slot machines are like video games that require no skill. If I put money into a machine, it better let me shoot something or eat something.
I ate a box of Wheat Thins procured from a gas station. Health food.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Wierd Weather In Arizona

Today we overnight in Tucson, and we got in early enough for me to take advantage of the warm weather by getting in the hot tub outside by the pool. And while I was in there, it started to hail on me. You just can't make stuff like that up.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Heard another flight attendant talking about 'slam-clicking.' Asked her what the hell that was. Turns out it's a term used to indicate those members of the crew that go directly to their hotel rooms and don't go out with the rest of the crew. It's the noise the door makes as they shut the door and lock themselves in. A slam-clicker. I slam-clicked. "Sorry guys, I'm slam-clickin' it tonight."
And somebody somewhere thought that up.

A Thing I Really Like About This Place

So just recently the roommate and I have been talking about moving out when our lease is up. The place is too small, it's in a bad neighborhood, no washer/dryer hookups, all that stuff. But there is one thing I do like. Since there is snow here, there is covered parking. Just corrugated metal, held up by posts (where it's not held up by jacks). But the snow is gone for now, and when it rains, all the metal sheets ring quietly. I couldn't figure out what it was the first time I heard it. It's very comforting, though. Sounds like a choir of things that are not people singing. Wish you could hear it right now.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Pilot Jokes

The pilots on this trip are funny ones. They got into it while we were eating dinner somewhere in Bellingham, and this is what I remember:

What's the difference between God and a pilot?
God doesn't think He's a pilot.

What's the difference between a first officer and a duck?
A duck can fly.

They also told a story about an unfortunate incident involving aircraft fuel and a flight attendant. See, one of the uniform shirts we can wear looks almost exactly like the shirts the pilots wear, and this one flight attendant was standing in the door when the gas truck pulled up. Thinking he was the pilot, they yelled, "How much fuel, Cap'n?"
The flight attendant, realizing he had absolutely no responsibility in the matter whatsoever, replied, "Top 'er off!"
And they did. When the actual pilots finished the ridiculously complex algebraic equation that determines to the atom how much fuel is really supposed to be in the plane and then discovered that the needle was on F, they had to call back the truck and defuel the plane.
Just this year they phased that shirt out, and now I think I know why.
Also, I got to hear how many new flight attendants they'd gotten to fall for the Row Seven Aerobics. That's when they call you up to the flight deck and explain that the back landing gear is a little sticky and won't come down. It's not an emergency situation, but what you need to do is you go back to about row seven and jump up and down until the gear comes loose. We'll call you when it's down, okay?
If you're wondering, I didn't fall for that one. Well, I almost did.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Things I Always Say

On this trip, I became aware that in addition to extemporaneous speech, I also repeat myself a lot on the plane. I've become a creature of stimulus/response, and here are a few of those pairs:

Someone orders water, no ice - Handing them a bottle, "That's its default position."
Someone has to duck to get into the plane - "It's bigger once you sit down."
Someone mentions the small cabin - "You should see our small plane."
Applause at the seatbelt demonstration - "I'll be here all week, be sure to tip your captain."
Compliments on the seatbelt demonstration - "Well, I teach the remedial classes, so..."
Someone asks me to do the seatbelt demonstration again - "Only on the Vegas flights."
Someone wearing a shirt like my uniform shirt - "Hey, nice shirt!"
I spill ice on someone - "Free ice!"
I drop a cup on someone - "Free cup!"
I drop a snack on someone - "Free snack!"
After I say, 'yes you can have some more X,' I realize I'm out - "When I said yes, what I really meant was no."

I also have several stock answers. When someone asks me what mountain that is out there, I always say Mount Rainier. If it's a gorge or depression, it's the Grand Canyon. If they ask me what time it is in the morning, it's 8:04. If it's night time, it's 10:56. When they ask me what state we're in, it's always Oregon. I used to say 'denial,' but I got tired of people not getting it. And once someone asked me what they use to de-ice the plane, and I said magma, thinking he would recognize it as a joke and say, "Ha ha no really." But he just nodded like it made perfect sense, and I couldn't figure out a way back in to tell him it was a joke. So I giggle now and then, thinking that eventually he's going to find out that magma is not used to de-ice planes, and I'm going to be nowhere near him when it happens.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Missouri - The Not-Green State

I've added number 27 up there... good old Missouri.
Previously, the only thing I knew about Missouri was that is was one of those that was in the middle of the US, and thus one of the ones whose place I could never find in the big wooden US puzzle I had when I was two. I have a faint memory that it was a green puzzle piece, Missouri. Now I've been there, to a place called Kansas City (which I confess I always thought was somewhere in Kansas), and the very last thing it was was green.
They'd just been hit by ice storms and snow earlier, and so when my friend Misty came to pick me up from the hotel, it was all white (and dark, since it was night). We did Waffle House, which means it's a southern state, even though it's directly in the middle. And I asked the shuttle driver who took us to the airport in the morning what the deal was with the 'show-me state' thing. She explained that Missourians are noted for their stubborn demeanors, and must be shown things, or they won't believe them. So basically, they're Louisianians, just further north.
Missouri is now done.

Monday, February 05, 2007

That Lovely Car Wreck Kinda Feeling

I could take the long way and explain through prose the level of pain I'm in this wonderful morning after, but it would be much quicker to do a quick muscle inventory.

Pronator Teres - sprained
Wrist Flexors - pulled
Trapesius - strained
Rhomboids - broken
Latissimus Dorsi - destroyed
Quadriceps - mangled beyond belief
External Obliques - missing
Peroneus Longus - shredded
Gluteus Maximus - strangely unaffected

What the hell made me think snowboarding was a good idea, again?
That said, I'll be back out there on the slopes as soon as I can move.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


I have been skiing before. Twice, in fact... once in Washington, when I was still young and pliable, and once in Wisconsin, when I was teenaged, broke, and ill-clothed for the occasion. I was always envious of the snowboarders... they shot down the slopes with reckless abandon, looking way cooler than I did. I vowed that one day I would snowboard. And even though I have been in Utah (whose license plates read THE GREATEST SNOW ON EARTH) for five months and been surrounded by snow and mountains, it only yesterday hit me that I could literally drive down the street and achieve this lofty goal. So today, I did that lofty goal-achieving thing.

Snowbird is the name of the resort to which I went. I had perviously called in a reservation for the board rental. You have to rent the boots, just like you do for skiing, except you have to rent the bindings too, which perform the all-important function of keeping your boots attached to the board. I picked up the equipment at the shop at the bottom of the hill, then I trudged halfway up Chickadee Loop with it. I feel no shame in telling you that Chickadee is the kiddie run, because those of you who have been on a mountain before know that snow-borne kids are not stumbling novices; they are lethal faster-than-sound projectiles. I just picked the kiddie run because it was the lowest elevation, and thus I would have less distance to fall. I was right to select this run.
Reason #1: Starting. When you ski, you stay attached to your skis the whole time, because you can move yourself around with the poles when there's no slope. But with a board, you have to take your back foot out of the binding if you want to go anywhere on flat ground; you kinda kick yourself around skateboardlike. That leaves the problem of getting your boot back attached once you're on the slope, because when you put your weight of your front foot on the board to attach your back foot, you start moving quickly. "Sit down then, you fool!" you all say, but then you have to get back up after that, which is nigh-impossible once both feet are attached. I can do it now, I just couldn't do it then.
Reason #2: Going. If you've never ridden a snowboard, here's some physics. One, the further into the mountain you put the back edge of your vehicle, the slower you go. Two, don't EVER put the front edge into the mountain. Those two are pretty easy to manage on two skis, where all you have to do is make a harder wedge if you want to stop, and your outside edges are always front. But on a board, you turn by pivoting on your lead foot, swinging your back foot opposite of the way you want to go. This, of course, changes which edge of the board is front every time you turn. The reason you don't put that forward edge down is that, as soon as you do, it becomes the fulcrum of a very short and violent arc. None of this prolonged Wide World of Sports 'agony of defeat' tumble stuff... just FOOP and you're buried. As soon as I was able to master standing up with both boots attached, I discovered all of this, and on a steeper mountain, I would have been destroyed more thoroughly. Also, of note is how snowboarders classify your 'riding' style by which foot is back; you either ride 'right foot' or 'goofy foot.' Guess which one I ride.
Reason #3: Stopping. I mentioned earlier that on skis, you can just push your skis apart from each other to stop. But a snowboard is one piece, so that crap doesn't work. You can, however, bring your back foot around so that both feet are forward, and if you lean back into the mountain, your back edge can potentially stop you. I say potentially because the leg strength required to do this is immense, and also beyond me. I got to where I could come to a shaky stop on Chickadee, so I advanced to a higher run called Mid-Gad. I was punished beyond measure. It was much more exhilarating, of course, but there were times where I had to bail because I didn't have the quad strength to keep standing. And falling down on purpose is no more fun that doing it accidentally.
All in all, I didn't do too badly. A few boarders I talked to were amazed that I just went up there and figured it out, as opposed to taking lessons. But I did take a few spills; during one of them, I heard that coconut sound your head makes when it hits something way too hard, and afterwards I had to lay there quietly for a while to ensure I was not dead.
Though I may hurt tomorrow, I am a snowboarder today.

P.S. Some of you may have caught that I misspelled the word 'previously' six paragraphs up (I know you did, Mom). I was going to fix it, but I think it's funnier the way it is.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Here's Sprite In Your Eye!

Since I open a lot of drink cans, I've been working on my one-handed ring-tab open, which comes in handy on the plane. The one thing that I haven't found a solution for is something I call the Every Tenth Can Explodes Syndrome, wherein every tenth can explodes (that name is temporary... just until I can find a more accurate scientific name). It's really less of an explosion and more of a deviously smart and carbonated missile, which rockets directly from the can to the object I'd like to strike least at the time. Most of the time it's funny... someone will be reading a book and a tiny chunk of Coke will peg them in the head, and they'll look around for a while to see what happened. Holding a straight face is of the utmost importance during these times. Other times it's not so funny... whenever someone is in an expensive suit, for example, the drink always goes on the suit. Once I got some club soda on someone, and couldn't think of what to use to get it off (they deserved it, asking for spahkling woo-tah).
Other times it can be downright excrutiating, as you might infer from the title of this entry.
I was serving an older couple, and the lady wanted some Sprite. So far, so good. I throw down the one-handed ring-tab open (or the OHRTO), and the Sprite chambers a round and nails me right in the eye. It feels a lot like you would imagine liquid hot magma feeling, if it were in your eye. I could not stop screaming, because it was a ten on the hurtometer, but I also couldn't stop laughing, because what are the odds, right? They couldn't stop laughing either, and so we sat there laughing while my eye socket smoked.
As I came back by the couple for refills, the guy said he'd take another granola bar, but only if I didn't put it in my eye. Ha ha.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The InFlight Experience

For about a month now, there have been rumors about a mysterious event known as The InFlight Experience. We all got emails asking us to sign up, or we would be signed up at a random time. I am not an organized fellow, so I got signed up. I asked a few folk who had been what it was all about, and no one would tell me. "You'll like it," they all said. A few days ago, I finally got to see what it was all about.
It was held at the building where we went to flight attendant school. But the classroom had been transformed into a spa. Japanese music, candles, massage chairs, and tea and lotion on the tables. Two senior flight attendants explained to the seven girls, one ex-football player, and me, that we dole out good service every day, and so it was our turn to experience good service. It was basically a school day, where we watched videos covering frequently asked questions about procedure (do you serve the hot towels to first class before or after dinner?), except that we got spa treatment. The girls all dug it, and the football player and I just kinda stared at everything until lunch, at which time we both gave up and got a paraffin hand wax thing done. When in Rome, right?
It was a neat experience. And the wax thing managed to de-Chicago my hands.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

GET MEAN: The Review

To explain how ridiculously, impossibly, inconceivably bad Get Mean is, I have to recount the history of the Spaghetti Western, as it was recounted to me by the owner/operator of this Alamo Drafthouse:

"In the beginning, there was black and white. Americans made black and white cowboy movies, because they liked cowboys. Other countries liked cowboy movies too, though no one knew this, because Americans don't pay attention to other countries, and other countries don't admit to liking American crap. Soon space movies came along, and Kramer vs. Kramer, and Americans became tired of cowboy movies, and so they stopped making them. And other countries (one of which was Italy) became distraught at the sudden absence of crappy American cowboy movies, and began to fill the void with westerns of their own flawed design. A few years and several million foreign cowboy movies later, everyone got tired of them and they all quit, but not before 1976, when Italy cranked out Get Mean."

The randomly assembled events that comprise this movie are so unbelievable that they cannot be believed. It starts as they all do, with a lonesome stranger riding into a desolate Old West town. Except here, The Stranger (as he is referred to only once) has been tied to his saddle and is dragged into town by his own horse. He is then beset by Spanish gypsies who want him to escort their princess back to Spain, where she will somehow become rightful ruler again. They offer to pay him: one dumps about nine gold doubloons on the table and then says, "That's a thousand dollars." Naturally, all he wants to do is be reluctant, but those $111.11 gold pieces are tempting, and we're off.

They arrive in Spain (by train, if the opening credits are to be believed) and witness a battle between the Moors and the Barbarian hordes. I'll say that again... a battle between the Moors and the Barbarian hordes. We know who they are because of the dollar ninety-nine costumes and because The Stranger points at each side, saying, "Now, them's the Moors... right? And them's the Barbarians... right?" The princess, who is obviously Moorish Spanish, is rooting for the Moors, but they get clobbered is a crappy fight scene and she gets stolen by the Barbarian leader Diego, who seems to run with an English king who rides a revolving cannon cart, and a really gay guy in a frilly collar. Through absolutely no fault of his own, The Stranger manages to steal her back, and discovers that what everyone's really after is the Treasure of Rodrigues, which only the rightful princess can claim. But she has to stand the mysterious and deadly Trials to do it. Our hero whines a lot and then consents to undergo them for her. What you have to do to prove yourself in these trials, apparently, is stand around in a church while skeletons try to turn you into a wolf, and then fall into a cave where a caveman and explosions chase you. The skeletons just sorta sat there at some tables while The Stranger howled a lot. At one point he actually says, "Now all you people in them coffins, I don't belive in this kind of stuff... you hear me? So don't be trying to turn me into no damn wolf!" Right after a caveman attack, he becomes intrigued with the echo effect, and while he's shouting, "HELLO!" an explosion catches him and he turns black. Not singed or charred. Black. Like tar.

It is at this point that he says, "Oh no... I'm all black, and I think I'm gonna die!"
He eventually gets the treasure, which was a small statue of a horse all along, and then after he gets chased by a bull for a while, Diego re-captures him. He explains to Diego that he's all black and he thinks he's gonna die. I'll admit that at this point it was all a little too much (and I was a little too drunk) to follow, but somehow The Stranger escapes again, and makes it to the Boy Scout Scene, where he builds several improvised devices in order to have his revenge. He gathers scorpions into a container. He makes a four-barrelled shotgun. And several hundred rolls of TNT. When he's done, he finally makes sense of he title with the immortal words, "When men fight fair, you fight fair. But when they're really puttin' it to ya, and really stompin' on your ass, there's only one thing to do... GET MEAN." And then he blows the door off his own house with the shotgun and walks out through the smoke, strapped into so much dynamite that he's round.
What revenge, you ask? Well, I'm glad you asked. He waits outside Diego's castle until Diego tires of the really gay guy and locks him in a burning straw house, then sits on the steps tossing TNT at folk. Decimates the entire Barbarian army sitting there on the steps, lobbing TNT. There's a tense moment when the female Amazon Barbarians outnumber him, but they suddenly become lesbian and ignore him in favor of each other. Diego eventually corners him, but he manages to dump the scorpions he cleverly gathered earlier down Diego's armor, and there is a twenty minute death scene. And then he rescues the princess by dueling the English king pistol to cannon cart, while the king shouts quotes from Richard III.

After that, it's a quick train ride back to the Old West, and credits roll. And I don't remember having more fun at a movie theater. Five stars.