Eagle Eye

(Possible Spoiler Alert!)

It’s ten o’clock at night and I’m leaving the movie theater with my friend Mike. It’s Mike’s 37th birthday so I liberated him from his wife and infant son and took him out for beers and a movie. After consuming greasy man food and a pitcher of Bass Ale, we went to see Eagle Eye – a movie about an all seeing, super secret government computer system run amok. While the movie was visually stunning, I found it a tad predictable. It was like HAL from 2001 and the WOPR from WarGames made a baby and we got to watch their love child wreak its inevitable silicon sociopathy upon humankind. Michelle Monaghan was the only reason I could keep my eyes open during the movie.

“What’d ya think?” I ask Mike as we walk towards my car.

“Great movie,” Mike replies. “Awesome.”

“Are you kidding me?’ I say. “I knew a computer was controlling everything five minutes into the movie.”

“Are you stupid?” Mike snaps. “It was a great movie. Great production values.”

I bite my tongue. Mike suffers from a psychiatric malady called Cinematic Reaction Formation Disorder – CRFD for short.  People afflicted with CRFD will watch a horrible movie but, because admitting negative emotions about a movie they’ve been hyped into looking forward to and shelling out $11.00 to see might initiate a complete personality meltdown, the subject unconsciously converts their negative feelings about the film into positive ones.  Anyone over thirty who says they loved The Phantom Menace or Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull suffers from this disorder. The most common treatment for CRFD is flooding the brain with old movies from the American Movie Classics channel. I recommend dosages of The French Connection, Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Strangelove, and any film with Bogart in it. The prognosis for remission is Mike’s case, however, is poor.

“Let’s not argue about it,” I say, opening my car door. “You can never admit when a film’s bad.”

“Gimme a break,’ Mike says. “If the new James Bond film sucks you’ll be crying like a little bitch about how great it was.”

“It won’t suck,” I reply. “Daniel Craig will surpass Sean Connery as 007.”

“That’s fucking sacrilege,” Mike says, slamming the passenger door shut.

“Well I said it. So there!”

“You’re an asshole.”

Suddenly my cell phone rings. I answer it. It’s Mike’s wife. Mike “unconsciously” left his cell phone at home. Now she’s calling me.

“Tell Mike we need light bulbs,” Mike’s wife says.

“Now?”  I reply. “Can’t it wait?”

“I have no light in the bathroom!” Mike’s wife shrieks. “How can I give the baby a friggin bath in the dark?”

“Okay,” I say, soothingly. “We’ll get some on the way home.”

“You guys aren’t drunk are you?”

“No ma’am.”

‘Get here soon.”

“Okay.” I shut off my phone.

“Who was that?” Mike asks.

“Your wife, you deadbeat motherfucker!” I shout. “She needs light bulbs.”

“Jesus.”

‘What kind of father are you?” I chide. “Letting your kid bathe in the dark?”

“Okay, okay,” Mike says anxiously. “There’s a store near my house. Let’s go.”

Don’t get me wrong. Mike and his wife take great care of their baby. But early parenthood is stressful. Sometimes I just enjoy busting Mike’s fertile balls.

Mike and I pull into the parking lot of a 24 hour supermarket and walk inside. The garish florescent lighting accentuates the colors of the product packaging but makes the human beings shuffling along the aisles look pockmarked and old. We look at the plastic green signs hanging above the aisles noting the locations of bread, dairy, meat products – but no light bulbs.

“Where are the fucking light bulbs in this place?” Mike asks.

“Beats me,” I say. “Ask someone who works here.”

“Excuse me,” Mike asks a surly looking teenager unloading cans of no frills peas. “Where are the light bulbs?”

“I think they’re on aisle sixteen,” the kid says. “Maybe aisle seventeen.”

We find the light bulbs on aisle twenty.  Good help is hard to find. As we walk to the self checkout counter Mike points to a round black video dome in the ceiling recording our every move.

“It’s the Eagle Eye,” he says.

“Oh boy,” I reply. “Scary.”

“Do you honestly think the government is watching everything we say or do?”  Mike asks.

“I can see my car parked in front of my house using Google Earth,” I reply. “I’m sure the government has something better.”

“Yeah,” Mike says, “But there’s way too much information out there for the computers to process. They can’t keep up with everything.”

‘So you don’t think the government can monitor all out phone conversations?”

“Dude,” Mike says, “These assholes can’t even monitor Wall Street. What makes you think they can monitor all of us?”

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t tell me you believe in all that Echelon shit.”

“It could happen.”

“You read too many spy novels,” Mike says. “It took those bozos five days to get water to the Superdome. Don’t forget it.”

“You have a point there.”

Mike and I get into the self checkout lane. Mike the runs the light bulbs under the laser price scanner and pulls out an Amex card to pay for it.

“You need to use an American Express card to pay for light bulbs?” I exclaim. “You are one broke ass mofo.”

“Just wait until you have kids, asshole,” Mike retorts. “Now watch this. I’ll show you all this computer monitoring stuff is bullshit.”

“How?”

“Just watch.”

Mike slides his credit card through the reader. When the computer screen asks him to sign his name, Mike writes “FUCK YOU ASSHOLE” in the signature box with the electric pen.

“I can’t believe you just did that.” I say.

“Watch,” Mike says.  “It’ll clear.

”Sure enough, the computer accepts Mike’s credit card and we’re on our way.

“Eagle Eye my ass,” Mike says.

I drop Mike off at his house and drive home. The autumn night is cool and the stars are shining brightly in the cold sky. As I stand looking up looking at the heavens, I notice one of the stars moving rapidly across the horizon. It’s probably a meteor, a communications satellite, or a Soviet rocket booster left over from the 1970’s. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the Eagle Eye looking at me. Shrugging, I toss my paranoid notions aside, walk up to my apartment, drink two more beers, and fall asleep – dreaming I’m being chased by Michelle Monaghan. That’s a nice dream.


Comments

Eagle Eye — 77 Comments

  1. Casino Royale with Daniel Craig was an appalling film. Fleming’s Bond was never so dour and humourless. And Craig looks like a potato.

  2. It’s simpler than CRFD – it’s cognitive dissonance. And the movie industry certainly seems to know how to use it to their advantage.

  3. Gee, you depict the stressful early parenthood with a magic pen! Or key board…whatever. But it rings sooooo true!

    Casino Royale sucks ass from all angles. The once grand 007 is now soooo friggin pathetic.

  4. I just found this blog via Emily Says So. I thought I’d laugh myself sick from just this first one. I can just picture this scenerio and you guys walking through a store. Then when he signed the thing with the profanity I couldn’t believe it!! You’re right, good help is hard to find.
    And I gotta wonder, why didn’t your friends wife just use a bulb from another lamp until the next morning?

  5. 1-Many stores where I live don’t even REQUIRE a signature for a credit card when the amount is under $20 or $30. It doesn’t feel too safe to me.
    2-I’ve felt that the government change to TV antenna frequencies has something to do with them now watching US! So perhaps the solution to unemployment is for everyone getting a job watching the spy cameras watching us. But this job probably only exists in India, of course.

  6. Seriously!! Spoiler warning!

    I mean, I didn’t particularly intend to go out of my way to see this movie, but at least now I can take it off the list.

  7. Hey! I’m over 30 and I liked Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull! Okay, sure, it wasn’t Raiders of the Lost Ark or Last Crusade, but it wasn’t Temple of Doom either.

    Aside: Holy crap there are a lot of things to comment on in this post. Deliberate troll? :)

  8. Thank you for going back to writing . . . I love your observational style and your narrative voice. Not that hearing about all your famous writer exploits hasn’t been great (a television series??? boss!) but I really missed your usual entries . . .

    Maybe it’s time to start seeking out a theme for your next book . . .

    Manfood seems like a good springboard. :)

    Rock on waiter. You are a total stud. :)

  9. K definitely not seeing that movie now. What happened to all the really good films that were being put out. American film has really gone downhill in the next couple years. Also the government wouldn’t waste time or resources watching us all. They’re too busy keeping eyes on each other.

  10. Hey Steven,

    Crystal Skull was decent. But Temple of Doom is miles above it in nearly every measurable value. People love to dog Temple of Doom because Raiders was iconic and Last Crusade had an awesome Sean Connery in it, but overall it was a decent film, far far superior to the Crystal Skull. Cmon, Shankara stones, voodoo rituals with beating hurts being plucked from victims, drinking tainted blood and becoming enraged….CMON!!!

  11. Too bad your commenters are such dolts :) Great post. More great observational narrative from my favorite NY waiter-turned published author…

  12. Bah, “Eagle Eye” sounds lame. Thanks for the warning. I’ll probably watch it anyway though. My friends who went to watch M. Night Shenanigan’s new movie, “The Happening,” told me how horrible that was. I intend to watch it as if it were a comedy though.

  13. Casino Royale was the best Bond movie since Connery, and I do NOT overexaggerate. Dour and humourless? I disagree. Daniel Craig rocks.

  14. Yeah, big ass spoiler alert needed here. Glad I didn’t plan on seeing that flick…you did kind of ruin it :-(

    But you’re right about Craig…he rocks!

    And there has not been a decent Indiana Jones movie since the first one, at all!

  15. Since the military uses Google Earth, what makes you think the government has anything better? Me, I am afraid of corporations.

  16. I believe credit card authorization slip signatures don’t actually mean anything unless you try to contest a charge. If you do, then you can say that the signature doesn’t match what you usually use, or whatever, if someone used your card without your consent.

  17. Just wait until that baby starts watching Disney fairy tales 8 times a day! Your friend will be wishing he could have some mature entertainment like Jackass or something! LOL

  18. I’m sure you can understand why I don’t go to the movies any more. They have a definite tendency to suck. Even Will Smith is losing his rabbit’s foot for making good movies. That’s a national dilemma.

    Mike comes off sounding a little bit of a narcissist. First baby can do that to you. Suddenly Junior gets all the attention and Daddy becomes a human appendix. Cut him some slack once in a while. His wife sure won’t.

  19. there’s a point of extreme irony coming from your friend’s use of the Amex card that you might find funny.. seach a company called Acxiom, or even the Amex website itself. If people think the government has to use all this fancy technology to track what you do, wait till you see how much easier and cheaper it is to buy your entire credit record!

  20. Anyone over thirty who says they loved The Phantom Menace or Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull suffers from this disorder.

    Pfft. Anyone over fifteen.

    I watched it because it was the only way to see a new Indy story. I liked it because it was Indy. But to say it was well made (and not full of plot holes)…that I cannot do.

  21. At least Daniel Craig doesn’t believe hitting women is a good thing.

    The government spends its money on spy technology, not on its citizens.

  22. and anyone over 30 who presumes to suggest what other people over 30 should or shouldn’t like should just go ahead and graduate to the rocking chair waiting for them on the porch of the retirement home!

  23. One time i wrote “Fuck you” on the line at a self checkout at walmart- it froze up and needed a “manager” to accept the signature! Obviously it has some sort of character recognition. It was mildly embarrassing trying to explain why i wrote “fuck you,” and the checkout nazi said i should be “ashamed” for writing that- i told her it was a joke and to get over it! So just a forewarning- unless you want a hassle, don’t write the f-bomb on the sign line at the checkouts at walmart.

  24. “Daniel Craig will surpass Sean Connery as 007.”

    Surpass? As in “be better than”? Not possible. Supersede perhaps.

    NO actor alive or dead can say “Bond. JAMES Bond” the way Connery does.

    Finally, Craig is, in my estimation [being very diplomatic here] completely unremarkable as Bond (or as an actor for that matter).

  25. Mike sounds like he has the ability to suspend disbelief, which actually helps when you want to enjoy a movie. People have different tastes in movies, and other forms of entertainment.

  26. When I used to go to Home Depot, I would sign “Not My Signature”, figuring one day I would dispute a $5,000 charge and say “Clearly, it’s NOT MY SIGNATURE!”

    One day the pimply high school kid checking me out checks the signature on the back! “Oh oh” I think.

    He says “I guess that’s ok. Have a nice day.”

  27. my kids went to see ‘eagle eye’. i refused, knowing that it would be a waste of $10. even they said it was pretty lame. then, of course, they are watching reruns of “walker, texas ranger” on hallmark channel with my wife… i’m gonna go grab me a book.

  28. *sigh*
    Ugh! When you said spoiler alert, I sort of stupidly thought it was a spoiler to your book or something, not to Eagle Eye! I was seeing that this weekend!

    Damn.

  29. I have to disagree on your opinion of EagleEye.
    I liked it. Yes, I figured out it was a computer relatively early in the movie, BUT – just because I’m smart enough to figure out the plot (which I can in 95% of the movies I see) doesn’t mean it still doesn’t have entertainment value for me.
    I also have to disagree with you about the best Bond. I like Daniel Craig, but Sean still takes the prize. He is Bond. James Bond….

  30. Also – I agree with Steven Fisher – I’m way over thirty and liked Crystal Skulls!

    Also – I have a friend who when she shops at Wally World signs her credit receipts – Walmart Sucks!
    They take it every time.

  31. Anyone see last night’s episode of South Park where Lucas and Spielberg repeatedly rapes Indiana Jones a la various famous movie scenes? That’s what the movie industry is like now. This is why I watch old movies and foreign movies. I can’t stand it when I can see the end of the movie before the movie gets there and the thought of paying to get eye raped is too much for me now. I might have to start reading again.

  32. I am so sick of people talking up old movies like ‘Casablanca’ and ‘Gone with the Wind’ like they’re the greatest thing.

    Guess what, I was born in the fucking eighties and grew up with colour TV and Johnny Depp.

    And I liked ‘Phantom Menace’ (acting aside)

  33. I told my son about the credit card thing and he signed the slip with a stick man drawing. Aren’t they supposed to be checking that stuff to make sure the card isn’t stolen? I mean, that is why we sign it on the back, right?

    I think I’ll change my signature to a stick man.

  34. There is one reason I won’t see the new James Bond film, the guy they have playing Bond is a huge anti-gun nut who did an interview where he went on and on about how horrible he thought guins were and how he hated even holding one.

    I figure if he hates them so much he shouldn’t be playing a character who is a government assassin, seems a bit hypocritical and since I hate that shit I won’t be giving him any of my cash.

  35. Crystal Skulls didn’t do as much damage to the franchise as Temple Of Doom did. Doom created a couple major plot holes that the movies never closed and also had two of the stupidest scenes and worst characters of the franchise.

    The people who think Crystal Skull was abysmal seem to forget that the original movies were flawed as well. The new one didn’t come near Raiders of Crusade, because those were both great in spite of thier flaws, but it far surpassed the piece of crap ToD.

  36. I have to agree that people certainly manifest an enthusiasm for films that I can’t stand but I’ve learned never to think of a particular movie as “good” or “bad.” Movies are such intricate things. Who can say what combination of story, production value, performance, shooting style and industrial elements gells to become a good film versus a bad.

    I figure if someone enjoyed it then it was good enough, even if it isn’t high art. Mind you, I came to this conclusion after a three hour discussion on why I was justified in hating Knight’s Tale and my film school comrade despised Schindler’s List.

    I guess there’s no accounting for taste.

  37. dammit waiter,

    your spoiler alert wasn’t NEARLY big enough. Thanks for ruining the first five minutes of the only halfway- decent-seeming American moving coming out in Taiwan this month.

    may a thousand spoilers befall you.

  38. As a contractor to the federal government (until recently), and Army veteran I can say there are no shortage of idiots working for the feds. They might have the equipment to monitor such things, but they don’t have the personnel to do much with it. Your buddy makes a good point when he mentions the fact that the government couldn’t run a snow cone stand in hell (or deliver water to the superdome in under five days).

  39. Sorry, bro, but your parent buddy is right. The new James Bond blows chunks!! Daniel Craig will NEVER surpass Sean Connery, let alone even catch up to him. Craig is a castrated, PC version of James Bond who’s been raped by femme-nazis. Check out my review on it at filmindustry.com called “Requiem for a Bond.” Waiterrant kicks ass, though! Glad to see you going strong and give us the rundown on Oprah after your appearance. Thanks!

  40. I just finished your book… (it only took 2 days)!

    Thank you for FINALLY putting into words what our world is really like.

    I went to work tonight, with your “voice” in the back of my head….

    I started off with a bright smile, and great attitude. 5 hours into it… oh boy! I think that all of my guests should be grateful that I read your book, and did not SPIT in their food. (never have), but by God, I get why I drink every single night!

    Anyway… thanks for pursuing your dreams… and thank you for making life more real.

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