As far as trips to the bathroom go, if you are the in and out type you probably don’t have time to do any extensive reading while on the can. And if that’s the case, you are definitely not aware of the cutthroat business of publishing Bathroom Readers. A bathroom reader is a book which is often made up of random facts and information that provides a temporary diversion to help you relax while you’re on the john. There’s many to choose from, but one of my great Christmas gifts this year was a bathroom reader printed in New Jersey: The Bathroom Trivia Digest: Fascinating Facts for People on the Go by Russ Edwards and Jack Kriesmer. If you’re unloading for less than a few minutes, let’s face it, that’s probably not enough time to memorize the periodic table of elements or the Magna Carta, but just like that little penny holder at the checkout counter, you can take a few nuggets while you leave a few nuggets.
It’s easy to dismiss a person by what is printed and said, even if that person was, at one point or another, decent. For an example, Chris Benoit was regarded as one of the finest technical wrestlers to have ever graced a mat, but after the tragedy with him and his ill-fated family, all of his achievements have been forgotten, almost as if they have never existed. To look at Mel Gibson now, after all the tabloids and rumors, one would see him as an out of his mind, racist, misogynistic narcissist with way too much money and too much ego. But at some point, Mel, before he blew a fuse, visited the Garden State (briefly) in the caper film Ransom, and while it didn’t reinvent the wheel or increase NJ’s tourist trade (at least not to my knowledge), it’s nice to look back on the Garden State before it was forever changed by some guy named Tony Soprano.
Tom Mullen (Gibson) is a self-made millionaire airline owner who finds himself out of his depth when his son Sean (Brawny Nolte, Nick’s son) is kidnapped and held for ransom. Now, the rational thing to do would be to pay the captors (which include a pre-Sex and the City Evan Handler) the money and be done with it. It should also be noted that, through a subplot, Tom was investigated by the FBI for possibly paying off a mob guy to keep his airline going. But after a disastrous turn of events in Jersey (where the ransom was supposed to be paid – holla Fair Lawn!), Tom turns the tables on the captors and uses the ransom as a bounty that he places on the captors, hoping that they will crumble under the pressure and turn on one another. In doing so, Tom not only draws scorn from his wife (Rene Russo) and the FBI agent (Delroy Lindo) on the case, but also become a pariah in the media for such a risky tactic. From then on, the suspense builds as both Tom and the captors begin to lose patience with one another, building in a climax that puts both Tom and captors on a collision course. Not necessarily with each other, but a course that is sure to spell doom for some.
The movie, directed by Ron Howard, does a great job with the cast. Especially good is Mel, who is kept at a feverish pace. In his eyes, you can see the hopelessness and desperation, but also a man who is not afraid to cross the line to save his son. Also doing fine is Gary Sinse as the ruthless mastermind of the kidnapping who slowly becomes unglued and Lindo as the veteran agent who is confounded by the change of events. Unfortunately, what is seen of Jersey is very little, happening at nighttime at a stone quarry, but is pivotal in the storyline, so I guess we can forgive Howard for setting up an important scene in my home state. It was nice to see Route 4 without traffic for a change.
Ransom is a taut, well-acted cracker of a film that reminds you that Mel was once a good actor. It got him a Golden Globe nomination, so if you want to see Mel Gibson as a hero without a suicide fixation or dressed in a leather suit, give this one a whirl, otherwise you can just smile and blow him.
Here’s my report on eXXXotica 2010. Watch with the volume up and in high definition!
If you want to look like a pioneer of hip-hop music then you may want to buy a classic Run DMC t-shirt and slip on a pair of shell top Adidas sneakers. Then pick yourself up a ridiculously over sized gold chain and some sunglasses, prop your ghetto blaster up on your shoulder and you’ll be good to go. Or, if you’re aiming much lower and you want to look like a complete dork from New Jersey, then sub out the Run DMC tee for this NEW JRZ tee, get your hair blown out, and whammo…you be illin’! You’re on your way to the anals of NJ dorkdom. That’s right, I typed anals. All you need now is to have The Sexy Armpit loaded up on Safari on your iPhone and you’ll be official.
Run DMC has made a huge impact on not only hip hop, but rock music as well. There’s a film about Run DMC’s career in production, and one half of the group stars in his own cable TV series. The reality show about Joseph Simmons, aka Reverend Run, has aired on VH1 since 2005. Parts of VH1’s Run’s House is filmed at his actual house in Saddle River, New Jersey. Merely a 20 minute drive from there, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels resides in Wayne, NJ.
*Greg Epstein’s store on Zazzle also features this t-shirt design in New York, Boston, and Chi-Town variants.