Weiner’s World, In Treatment Mode

These days, whenever a politician or celebrity engages in unacceptable behavior, they try to take the heat off by saying they are going to receive “treatment” for their condition.  I guess we are all supposed to feel sorry for them, applaud their courageous decision to seek treatment for their affliction, and lay off any further criticism for the behavior that landed them in hot water in the first place.

So it is with Anthony Weiner.  He is resisting an avalanche of calls for his resignation, and instead says he will take a leave of absence to “enter a psychological treatment center” where he will try to “deal with a pattern of reckless online behavior with women.”  No doubt his “treatment” at the Center for Reckless Online Behavior with Women will be paid for by the gold-plated health care plan that every Member of Congress receives, and then at some point he will spring forth and announce that he is “cured.”  And in the meantime, we will get more information about creepy photos that Weiner took and apparently sent to unsuspecting internet users, like photos of a towel-clad Weiner in the House of Representatives gym.  Evidently he honestly thought he was one of the hottest studs around.

Doesn’t Representative Weiner have any shame?  Shame may be an old-fashioned concept in this modern world, but it would be great for everyone if it came back into fashion.  It would save us the awful spectacle of this pathetic guy who is twisting in the wind and nevertheless hopes that so long as he clings to his job, despite all that has happened, he can somehow revive his dead political career.  C’mon, Congressman Weiner!  It is time to do the right thing, already!

Hangover Part II

I thought Hangover was a classic movie — creative, funny, and filled with the kind of memorable characters and sophomoric humor I relish.  In my book, Hangover will go down as one of the classic Hollywood comedies of all time, in the same league as Animal House and Some Like It Hot.

I therefore am sorry to report that, as good as Hangover was, Hangover Part II is terrible.  It is awesomely, stunningly, epically bad.  Where Hangover was creative, Hangover Part II is derivative.  Where Hangover was deft, Hangover Part II is hit over the head.  Where Hangover was filled with very funny moments that left the theater rocking with laughter, Hangover Part II is filled with weird, gross, unfunny stuff that was greeted with lots of dead air in the theater.

Sequels usually suck, because most really good movies are about stories that are fully, completely told in one film.  Sequels usually have bigger budgets and are produced under enormous pressure to crank something out, while the audience still yearns for more of the characters they enjoyed in the first film.  Hangover Part II has that feel about it.  The Wolf Pack moves to Thailand, with lots of expensive on-location shooting, and the plot reeks of desperation.  It is as if the writers realized they were producing dreck and were looking for something — anything — that could produce a shock or a laugh.  That’s why there is a smoking monkey, and a transvestite, and a speedboat onto the beach, and lots of screaming and obscenity — none of which are particularly funny.

Sometimes, you’ve got to know when to say when.

At The New Albany Shooting Range

In my 54 years, I had never fired a gun — until yesterday, when my good friend Chuck invited me to join him at the AimHi Shooting Range on Route 62, just north of New Albany.  AimHi is a combination rifle range/pistol range/retail store that sells safes, guns, ammunition, targets, and other security-related items.  It also offers gun training and the classes that must be completed to get a concealed carry weapon license under Ohio law.

For a newbie like me, the first step is to sign in, give up your drivers license, and then watch a 10-minute safety videotape about the rules that must be followed when you are in the range — things like when firearms can be loaded, where and how loaded firearms must be placed, where to stand, and where not to go.  Believe me, the thought of actually handling a loaded firearm made me pay close attention!  Then, I donned my safety glasses and my ear coverings and we went out onto the range, where Chuck gave some additional instruction on how to load the guns, how to hold them, and how to aim and fire.

The range looks like what you’ve probably seen on TV shows and movies with police themes.  You stand in a little open booth — there were six on the rifle range, where we went — unpack your gear, and put the guns on shelves at the front of the booth, with the muzzles pointed down the range.  You bring your own paper targets, attach them to clips on the target holders and use a keypad to program the distance, and the machine moves the target to the point you’ve requested.  (Nazi zombies seem to be a popular target choice, incidentally.)  Then you load the guns in the booth, take your stance, and begin firing.

It was loud — I mean loud! — in there.  If you’ve only seen guns fired on TV and in the movies, you don’t realize how much noise they make in a closed space.  For some of the guns, hot bullet casings come springing out with each shot and litter the floor with bright, shiny metal, and firing the guns produces a distinct smell, too.  And, of course, when you are shooting you feel the kick from the gun, and you are focused intensely on handling the gun correctly and trying to hit the center of the target.  In short, going to a shooting range is an adrenalin-filled, sensory-rich experience.

We shot .22s, .45s, .357s, 9 millimeters pistols, and a kind of assault rifle.  One of the guns had a laser sighting, which was a little embarrassing, because it shows all too visibly how unsteady my aim is.  As we experimented with the feel and accuracy of the different guns, I couldn’t help but notice the other folks on the range.  If you think about it, you are placing a lot of trust in your fellow range-users, who could just step back and plant a slug in your gut.  But the people on the range were careful and serious, and all were darned good shots.  One appeared to be a policeman engaging in some target practice, another was ex-Navy, and a third was a marksman shooting what looked like a long sniper rifle and putting shot after shot into a hole on the target that was about the size of a quarter.

I chatted briefly with the ex-Navy guy, told him it was my first time firing a gun, and complimented him on his marksmanship.  He grinned and said he thought shooting was “therapeutic” — and I knew just what he meant.