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Crying at the Movies: Rescuers Down Under

Crying at the Movies is a series of essays in which Annual staffers delve into the films that have made them cry—why they cried, what was going on in their lives at the time. Which is all to say, there will be spoilers. Maybe a dog died, maybe two characters got together—just don’t come crying to us when we write an essay about crying when the shark blew up at the end of Jaws.


As a child, I was very interested in nature, as most young boys are. I would spend my summers searching under every rock, rolling over every branch, and digging up any “treasure” I came across in the woods behind my parent’s house. Whether it be a rock I misidentified as an “Indian Arrowhead” or an old drinking bottle that was once used by the ancient “Budweiser,” I loved the outdoors and making up stories in my head about where everything came from. Except for gypsy moth caterpillars.

Seriously – it was my goal to go out and hunt down every gypsy moth caterpillar I could find. If I saw one while walking, I would stomp it; if I saw one while riding my bike, I would veer to run it over; if god forbid I saw one while playing whiffle ball, I was swinging for the fences. I’m not sure if I was actually ever told this, but my alcoholic memory leads me to believe that my father set the title of Gypsy Moth Destroyer on my shoulders, in order to save the innocent bushes and trees that grew in our neighborhood (read about them – they are little shitheads). I was maniacal; I loved watching their little caterpillar bodies explode with green guts, trying to see how far I could get it to spray. If you think I might have been a tad crazy; you’re probably right. But things were about to change.

As a kid in the 1990’s, I rarely saw movies based on the fact that I wanted to see them, and more based upon when my parents decided they could use a couple quiet hours to relax. Disney movies are very enchanting, regardless of age, so one afternoon it was decided I needed to see The Rescuers: Down Under. This film is actually the sequel to The Rescuers, which I had never seen, but then again kids don’t really need to see character development from prior films in order to enjoy a new one.

*Plot summary below for the heathens that have not seen it yet. Also SPOILER ALERT for a movie that is 25 years old, since apparently people need spoiler alerts for anything and everything these days*

The Rescuers Down Under was released on November 16th, 1990, the same day as Home Alone and Rocky V. I would have been three years old at this time, so I can’t be sure if I actually saw it in theaters, or if the giant collectable Disney VHS case became a staple of our movie collection by other means. Either way, the outcome was the same – this movie rocked! I loved every second of it. You’ll see why.

There’s this young boy, and he loves the outdoors; he’s exploring, he’s having a blast, all the things my tiny mind also enjoyed. I was almost jealous of this kid – he also lives in the Australian outback, so he’s got plenty of room to run around. Any who, this kid is exploring, and comes across a GIANT EAGLE. This thing is big enough to ride  and it wants to be the kid’s BEST FRIEND. Let me repeat that: YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND IS A HUGE GOLDEN EAGLE. This movie already has Kid’s Choice Awards written all over it. After they bro it up for a while, the kid goes home, but is abducted by a poacher! Oh, and the poacher has a pet goanna (big lizard) that bro’s out with the poacher, only it’s an evil bro-out. They get the kid, and find a golden eagle feather on him, and golden eagles mean big bucks for poachers. Luckily, the kid is NOT giving up his eagle friend, and word gets around that he needs help.

Enter our heroes: Bernard and Bianca, two ballin’ mice who work for some animal agency that helps animals and human kids get out of trouble just like this. So they are like “hell yes let’s save this kid, but we need to get to Australia, and they hire out a comedic-relief albatross, voiced by John Candy!” He’s certainly no Robin Williams-riffing-as-a-genie, but this albatross was a ton of laughs for everyone involved, hitting all the right buttons (pilot joke). The Ablatross gets them to Australia, where they meet their Australian contact, and of course he is exactly like Crocodile Dundee, only he is some sort of mouse crossed with a kangaroo (because hey, it’s Australia). The contact immediately begins hitting on Bianca, but Bernard is in love with her and wants to propose.

To re-cap, we have relatable young adventurous kid, awesome eagles as best friends, poachers/guns/lizards, talking animals, comedy, and now Australian accents and kangaroo stuff. If you aren’t on board already, you’re never getting on this train to awesome town.

Now, the poacher is like “damn, this kid won’t tell me where the eagle is…but he’s just a kid! If I let him go, he’ll probably take me right to the damn thing!” So the poacher lets the kid go, and he immediately heads for the eagle. About this time, our “Rescuers” come on the scene, and they help distract the poacher and his lizard. Eventually, they knock the poacher and lizard off a cliff into the crocodile infested waters, and just in case you thought they would survive, they also go over a cliff. The Rescuers saved the day and the kid and the eagle and everyone is happy (except for all the fellow poachers in the audience).

I’m exhilarated just talking about it. But what’s missing from this post? Ah yes, the crying.

During the course of The Rescuers Down Under, you discover that there were only two golden eagles left in the world. IN. THE. WORLD. This is worse than the current panda population. The female eagle had befriended our young hero at the beginning, with no mention of a mate. But what’s this? She has eggs! What happened to the male? That’s where the poaching backstory comes into focus.

While watching the film, you realize the male eagle was captured and sold by the poacher, presumably killing the bird in the process. This just leaves mom and her eggs. But what’s worse? We also learn that the poacher’s pet lizard LOVES TO EAT EGGS, just slightly less than Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.

When the poacher and his lizard follow the kid up to the eagle’s nest, the mom is trying to head them off, the other animals we met during the movie need to keep the eggs warm (all the animal abuse that has occurred in the film adds to the somber mood). Ultimately, all of the Rescuers become preoccupied, leaving the eggs open to attack!

The moment the eggs became vulnerable was unbearable for me; these were eagles! GIANT. GOLDEN. EAGLES. The last of their kind! They couldn’t go out like that! It wasn’t fair.

The lizard stealthily approaches the eggs; “Don’t do it!” I say in my head. “They didn’t do anything to you!” The lizard opens its mouth, its tongue flicking side to side, licking its lips, ready to taste the sweet, buttery golden eagle juice. It grabs an egg in its scaly hands, unhinges its jaw, ready to swallow the egg whole – I cover my eyes with my fingers. If I even knew who God was, I was already offering to trade all my future birthday presents and desserts as long as those eggs would be ok. The jaws came down – here it comes! I can’t look. A sickening crack. The tears come. It’s not fair, they didn’t stand a chance. How could the Rescuers give up so easily, with so much at stake? The eggs needed protection! They were the chosen ones! Even worse – why didn’t the poacher care? What happened to him as a child that led him to this life? He is literally the cause for the extinction of giant, golden, rideable eagles, and all he can think about it the couple bucks the eagle feathers will fetch him. I just wanted to scream. I wanted to find this poacher and his stupid lizard and squash out their brains like the gypsy moth caterpillars I mentioned earlier. But there was nothing I could do; it was a movie. But like all curious movie-goers, I just had to see how it ended, get it over with, for closure.

The lizard chomped down on the eggshell-white colored egg; its eyes grew wide – something was not as it seemed. A broken tooth fell out of the lizard’s mouth; the egg was a decoy! In the midst of the fighting and confusion, the eggs had been replaced with egg-shaped rocks! Oh happy day! The lizard, now furious scrambles amongst the rocks and cliff ledge, searching for the real prize, but they were too well hidden! More tears came, these of joy. You stupid lizard! You stupid poacher! You could never outsmart the Rescuers! When they fell into the crocodile water and over that cliff, I couldn’t have been happier. Just to go that quickly from caring about these eagle’s lives, to absolutely not caring about the lives of a human being and a lizard, well that shows you where my priorities are.

That movie changed me. I no longer wanted to go out and hunt down gypsy moth caterpillars for sport; in fact, killing any animal is hard for me, even by accident. But killing someone who has hurt animals or other people? Someone who is a poacher by profession? I feel like that would come easy. Maybe if we all take a little more time and think about what it really means to kill, especially if we don’t need to do so in order to survive, that might make us more “human” than we already are.

In closing, I still hate gypsy moths, but I’d much rather move them someplace where a bird can easily eat them than kill them myself.

T.M. Scholtes

Read more about Annual Staffers crying at the movies

Welcome to The Secret Diary of Your New Friend

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

-Some Dead Indian Dude

Welcome to The Secret Diary of Your New Friend!

In these pages you’ll find what keeps me up at night (FYI, I sleep shirtless. I know that’s an important detail everyone wants to know – the fact that I sleep without a shirt. And no, this detail was definitely not added to give this piece sexual appeal requested by my editor), you’ll also find what hits home in my anterior supplemental motor area, ventromedial frontal lobe, and nucleus accumbens. In other words, what makes me laugh (the editor also wants me to come off as intelligent).

For those who actually Google searched the parts of the brain above, I’d like to take the time to note that I don’t have a drug problem. You’d know if I did, this is my diary, but I bet now you’re more inclined to look them up. Seriously, check it out. Don’t worry, I’ll wait so that you don’t miss anything.

The essays, poems, and jokes in The Secret Diary of Your New Friend are to put my voice into the world. I don’t know if writing this will actually make the world a better place, but what I do know is in these digital pages. And as a friend, I welcome you to share what you know with me @GiovanniKavota on Twitter.

This is my diary, and I am your new friend. 

Welcome!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Very sexy, very intelligent.
Look for future installments every Thursday.

MARTIN SHKRELI: I’m Just Like You

I know I have a lot of critics as of late; and personally I think they should go fuck themselves. Especially while they still can before I acquire the rights to condoms. But guys, listen: I’m like you. I have a story and a dream. When I was a little boy, I was like every other kid. I enjoyed Saturday morning cartoons, eating a big bowl of Apple Jacks, and then going in the backyard and dismembering squirrels with my bare hands. I went to school, and rode my bike, and dreamt about what I was going to be like when I grew up. My dad was a businessman, and I wanted to just like him.

One fine sunny weekend in June, my family went on a day trip. We went to King’s Dominion. I remember traversing the full parking lot and going through the turnstile. The sprawling park overwhelmed me as I stood between my mother and father, each of them grasping one of my hands. We walked a bit, until we got to our first ride. A roller coaster! Oh, it was thrilling. We stood in line, and patiently waited. After an hour without much progress, I remember becoming aware of the sun beating down on my face and arms. I looked up at my parents. My mother stood fanning herself, and my father wiped sweat from his brow. “Wait here,” father said to my mom. He took my hand and we ventured away into the crowd. After a short distance weaving between other patrons, we arrived at a small hut. It had a straw roof and a bright garish sign that said LEMONADE in big pink letters. I stood at my father’s side, and could just barely see over the counter. “Three waters, son,” My father stated to the teenager in the booth. In his blue polo and matching visor, the teen looked quite content sipping on the biggest cup of lemonade@ I’d ever seen in my life. He nodded, and placed three water bottles on the counter. I longed to reach up and touch the condensation on the cool blue plastic to my forehead. “That will be eighteen seventy-five,” The boy declared. Eighteen seventy-five? That didn’t sound right to me at all. That would have been at least a few months of my allowance, and I drank water all the time. I didn’t understand. My father heaved an exasperated sigh as he reached into his back pocket for his wallet. “What are these bottles made of, pure gold?” As he handed some bills to the boy. Father was always hilarious as far back as I could remember.

As we returned to the line where mother stood patiently, I asked “Father, was that a lot for the water?” We continued walking as he reflected, “Martin, almost every day, you have to strive to be the best game in town to get what you want. But sometimes in life, a certain kind of opportunity will arise. The opportunity to be the only game in town. Then the rules are yours.” “Like what kind of rules, father?” I didn’t do well with sports, despite the agility I had acquired catching and brutalizing small animals in my spare time. We stopped in our tracks, and he kneeled down in front of me on the brick work. He gazed into my eyes, “Martin, when the rules are yours, they’re yours. So, it really depends on what you want to be in this life. There are people who are boring, and then there are people who have the brilliant audacity to come as close as they can to fucking someone in the ass without having to go to prison. The choice is yours, son.” He stood up again and tousled my hair. We continued silently on our way, as I listened to the bustle of the crowd. We found mother, sipped on our water, and eventually got on the coaster. The day passed in a blur. I remember being tired, sunburned, and content in the back of our station wagon on the way home. As we pulled out of the parking lot at dusk, I looked out of the window as the silhouette of the park on the horizon that receded into the distance. I wondered, what if the only game in town wasn’t just the whole town, but the whole world? The thought stuck with me. Aside from that, the most I can remember from that day is knowing I wanted to be more than boring. I wanted to have that ass-fucking audacity that father spoke so vigorously of.   

In my adult years, I’ve come to realize: AIDS is like the King’s Dominion of diseases, if King’s Dominion was smart enough to locate its park on a remote desert island where no one could feasibly leave short of dying. Off of this brilliant realization, I make money hand over fist. If you don’t think I deserve it, tell that to the genius who invented “mark-ups” and “business” in the first place. The only rule of capitalism is don’t accrue a big enough list of crimes that you can’t pay off.  If I’m being entirely honest though, it isn’t just about the money, or the warm fuzzy feeling of forcing hundreds of thousands of strangers between financial or literal death. It’s about love. Satan stopped calling me back after the $6.5 million dollar law suit for previous drug price gouging, so I’m hoping a big romantic gesture like this one will be just the thing to impress him. I suppose what I’m getting at is, don’t judge me until you know where I’m coming from.

Martin Shkreli

A Colbert Report Report

It’s been said that The Colbert Report is doubles as “The Joy Machine” or so say the show’s staff and creator. In 2011 I had the pleasure of attending a live taping of The Colbert Report with fellow Annual writer Briana Haynie and I can only confirm this to be true. At the start of the show (prior to any taping) Colbert emerged from backstage and ran to the crowd who met him with thunderous applause. He had a grin that spread the width of his face, as if it was the first night of the show, a show which was now running into it’s sixth year, a character who was running into his sixth year. But the delightful thing about seeing Colbert live, was that prior taping the grin was genuine, he was genuine, Stephen Colbert (the character) was cast aside so Stephen Colbert (the actual human being) could open the floor by asking “Does anyone have any questions to humanize me before I say these awful things on television?”

I had gone in with a question in mind, knowing that he might do a Q&A while understanding that there was chance he would stay in character throughout the taping and either answer in character or not take questions at all. Once I had tickets booked I began brainstorming a question that was in someway particular to me and one that he hopefully did hear every night. The idea of directly asking for advice crossed my mind, but seeing as that’s a question commonly asked to people of relative fame I figured I could find the answer anywhere online, if it wasn’t out there now, it eventually would be. I had hoped to learn more about the man himself, but from a period where he was just getting started.

Four questions had gone by, when Stephen says “Okay, last question.” and he pointed to me. It was at this point that time (for me) did that thing where it moves either too fast or too slow, and you can’t decide which it is. I believe this is called adrenaline but I’m no doctor. What came out of my mouth for the first few syllables remains a mystery to me, but I’m pretty sure it aligned with the question that followed: What was your favorite memory from backstage at Second City? This was Stephen’s response…

“Well, my favorite memory is actually hearing someone fail onstage.” The audience laughed, which seemed to take catch him off guard a bit. “No, I’m serious. My friend [whose name escapes me, but WAS credited at the time] was on stage doing a Black-out Scene, which is a very short simple scene, called Whales. In the scene the actor is onstage with a guitar, like they’re in a small coffee shop, and she’s tuning the guitar saying “Thank you for coming, you’ve all been really great. I’d like to dedicate this next song to the whales.” She would finish tuning, approach the mic and then [makes whale noises, indistinguishable whines and clicks].”

To break from Stephen’s story for just a second, at this point I realized that he and I had maintained eye contact throughout this portion of the retelling. In the moment it felt like he was talking directly to me, which for one was incredibly polite (as I understand he is in all interactions) while at the same time being one of the most nerve-wracking moments of my life, just being the focus of his attention at the time. It’s possible we both realized this around the same time as it was this point that he broke eye contact and began to tell the story to the whole crowd.

“One night she went on to do the scene, she tuned the guitar and said “Thank you for coming out tonight, you guys have been great” and then she started making the whale noises. Meanwhile, I’m backstage with Dave Razowski, we’re next to go and the audience isn’t laughing, and we’re like “What’s wrong with these people?” Suddenly Dave goes [in a shouted whisper]”SHE FORGOT TO SAY WHALES!” So we started cracking up, we went hysterical, just because of how simply she had failed, which wasn’t good because we were literally two feet off the stage, right behind the curtain. We were laughing so hard we hit floor and our feet are sticking out on stag. Eventually she realizes we’re laughing and that she had missed the setup and started laughing too. And that’s when I knew I had to keep doing comedy because rather than making it a problem we were able to laugh about it.” and then he changed my question “And that was my HAPPIEST Second City memory. Now are we ready to start the show!?” [Audience cheers]

He spoke with some writers for a minute and then began to tape the three part open. This particular three part open, was stopped twice due to technical issues but at no point did they seem like a burden to Colbert. He kept things light, and was able to laugh at the issues that had came. His happiest memory from Second City was something that he carried with him and he hit that third take with wild enthusiasm that seemed to say “We’re going to get it this time, Dammit!” But, y’know… in a fun way.

Some combination between his story, and his continued enthusiasm affirmed that I was on the right track, that I was (and am) doing what I should be doing with my life. There are a lot aspect to Stephen Colbert’s Late Show that I can’t wait to see, primarily to see him step out of the Colbert Character and be himself, but I particularly can’t wait to see that same enthusiasm take a new form.

And on a side note note: any Comedy Central execs worried about that 11:30 slot, might I recommend taking a look at this list of potential replacements for Letterman. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing Sarah Silverman every weeknight.

Kevin Cole