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Entries in Michael Patrick Thornton (2)


Paper Machete - 4/28/12 - Commit to the Bit


Audio is up at WBEZ site, HERE.

If you don't know Paper Machete, it may be found HERE.

Dateline: Brazil. From The Daily Telegrach UK

Which I will quote in its entirety. It appears under the following headline:

“Actor dies after accidentally hanging himself as Judas during The Passion of Christ”

“Tiago Klimeck, 27, had been in a coma since the accident on Good Friday earlier this month in Itarare. Klimeck was enacting the suicide of Judas during the performance. He was hanging for four minutes before fellow actors realised something was wrong, believing he was playing his role. When he was taken down, Klimeck was unconscious. Scans found that the incident had caused cerebral anoxia due to the complete lack of oxygen to the brain. His life support machine was switched off on Sunday. An autopsy was due to take place yesterday.

Police are examining the security apparatus that was meant to support Klimeck during the scene.

It is unclear if any charges will be filed.

The Passion of Christ is performed every year in Brazil across the country. The biggest show is in Pernambuco, where thousands of visitors watch more than 500 actors on nine separate stages.”

I will set aside the fact that the copy editors wished to leave you with a bit of cultural context regarding the show. Because I realize that, like me, you read an item like this, you cock your head and go “Not to discount the fella that hung himself onstage, but I sure would like to know a scosh more about significance of the Passion of Christ in the local culture.”

Here’s your real takeaway from this story, and here is the legacy of the late Mr. Klimeck:

Commit to the Bit.

Because, come on – on the Stanislavsky Scale, Mr. Klimeck makes Nicholas Cage seem pretty bush league, am I right? I mean that Taylor Lautner? David Arquette? Billy Zane? Our various Afflecks, and lesser Baldwins? Our best and brightest? Tiago Klimeck SMOKED ‘em all, man.

But if he was just some lone genius – in that riveting way of like a Chris Klein or a Justin Long – then, OK, THEN I would not feel like the U.S. supremacy in the realm of ultra-dazzling mastery of craft was threatened.

But it isn’t just him, though. Think about it: the guy is hanging himself in full view of his cast mates, and they are all STAYING IN THE SCENE. A whole STAGE filled with Brazilians, you guys – BRAZILIANS! – and they see a colleague twisting and kicking, seconds away from death, and they just keep delivering their lines.

Because the show must go on. Or, as the locals would say:

Porque o espectáculo tem de continuar

Brazil, you guys. Brazil - famous for nothing but nuts and waxes. Brazil nuts: the ones that everyone despises and leaves in the can. And, sure, everybody admires the Brazilian wax from afar, until they get a closer view of the scalded bologna surrounding that Hitler’s mustache of pubes.

Are we gonna let BRAZIL beat us at Committing to the Bit?!? I know that Brazil has an emerging economy that’s one of the globe’s great success stories, but that’s petroleum and bananas and coffee, you guys, not SHOW BUSINESS. They should be DECADES away from challenging U.S. dominance of show business – DECADES. The Brazilian Dane Cook or Ryan Reynolds shouldn’t even be BORN yet, so how is it that these Amazonian yokels are making a play for the U.S. of A. here?

I tell ya what we gotta do – we gotta shut ‘em down. We gotta take decisive action now, and we gotta take the fight to them. What I propose is bold, ladies and gentlemen, what I propose will demand sacrifice. What I propose is this:

We airlift a crack thespian squad of our most battle-tested hunks and starlets and drop them into Rio for this Passion of the Christ festival to do their own goddamn production that’ll be so brutal, those Brazilians are all gonna scuttle back to the coffee plantation. I say we stage a Passion of the Christ where EVERY member of the cast winds up dead. We get the Army Corps of Engineers to design a stage that’ll unfold in midair so our stars can parachute down onto it and show these savages how it’s done.

Getting the actors is gonna be simple – we load ‘em in limos, we hustle ‘em out to Edwards Air Force Base. From the limo, we leave a trail of gift bags up the cargo bay of a waiting C-130. We stuff ‘em in their costumes, we fly ‘em to Brazil, we equip ‘em with period weapons – swords and axes and shit, and they improvise a production of the Passion of the Christ that’ll make the Hunger Games look like a game of Pictionary.

We’re calling this Operation Avenging Apostle.

Here’s our cast:

  • James Franco is Judas. One of history’s most reviled figures, portrayed by the actor People Magazine called The Man We’d Most Like to Throttle.
  • Pontius Pilate will be that James Pattison from the Twilight franchise – for is not the tyrant with nothing going on behind his eyes all the more terrifying?
  • Mary Magdalene, in an audacious and if I may say so inspired bit of casting, will played by Orlando Bloom.
  • The apostle Matthew, obviously, has gotta be Matthew McConaughey, who was the top vote-getter in the recent Us Magazine poll “Jesus God, Do I Wanna Beat This Guy With a Pipe Wrench.”
  • Salome will be played by Jessica Alba and Megan Fox and Katie Holmes and January Jones and Keira Knightley and Blake Lively and Scarlett Johansen.
  • Jesus? Keanu.

You get the idea. It’s gonna be amazing. It’s gonna add a whole new level to this – these Brazilian amateurs went the whole “naturalistic death scene of a single cast member” route. Not so Operation Avenging Apostle: this will be the most stilted and unconvincing bloodbath the world has ever known. Each and every member of our all-star cast will not only be splayed lifeless at the end of the show, but the audience will file out going “ I don’t know. I didn’t really buy it.”

Then later, they will learn that each one of these trite and unnatural-looking deaths was 100% real. When those Brazilians have seen actual nails driven through the hands of Keanu-Jesus, and his reaction remains totally unconvincing, even though he is an international star, they’ll think twice before they come gunnin’ for us, my friends.

Now you may be asking: “Why does this matter?” I’ll tell you. In the waning days of our empire, when we no longer make anything, and where the average U.S. citizen is an obese man-child that finds science “confusing and scary” – all we HAVE is the dream factory churning out the world’s entertainment. It’s our only remaining claim to superpower status. And if the only basis for we have for clinging to the vestiges of world leadership is as Content Provider to the World, then I am by God willing to sacrifice a few pretty boys we can easily replace, and I think you should be, too. Tell Congress: support Operation Avenging Apostle. Now. Before it’s too late.


WRITE CLUB - Belknap, Found, 4/24/12

We’ve all seen the flyers. LOST DOG – with plaintive-looking pictures, and offers of rewards, and pleas for information.

When you see that flyer, you have one of two thoughts:

  1. That dog took a powder, man – they are never gonna see that thing again. Or:
  2. I’m looking at a picture of a dead dog right now. 

But when you see the flyer that says FOUND DOG, then you’re talking about a dog that was so WINNING, the people would not only take the thing home, but they would actually make a flyer.

And the flyer people dig the dog so much, that even though they REALLY wanna keep him, they consider his feelings, and would hate to contribute to his unhappiness, so they post a flyer. But even as they do, they cling to the unexpressed hope that his owners never see it, or that they are persons of such dubious priorities that they don’t want this dog, even though he is the BEST BOY.

So to review:


  • Lost Dogs? Smelly morons who in all likelihood are already dead because they were too stupid and unappealing to figure shit out.
  • Found Dogs? The most magnetic and lovable animals there are. These dogs will live on in your memory and prompt wistful smiles and feeling of tenderness for the rest of your days. Indeed, years from now, when you’re a different life stage, without a landlord to worry about, and you’re visiting the shelter looking for a dog, in your mind’s eye, it will be that flyer dog – that you search for. 


Look: they don’t do those milk cartons anymore, do they? With the missing kids on the back. You know why? Cause Cinnamon Toast Crunch does not go well with despair.

Lost hair. Lost gloves. Lost dreams. Lost hopes. Lost pennies. Lost at sea. Lost cities. Lost keys. Lost souls. Lost weekends. Lost heroes. Lost memories. Lost generation. Lost highways. Lost glasses. Lost in translation. Lost love. The lost boys of Sudan? ENOUGH.

Things I have lost? They number in the tens of thousands, and they range from ticket stubs and receipts to my own father, and I miss not a goddamn one of them.

Things I have found? They are few in number. But these things have a luster and a persistence and a capacity to tug at the hem of my mind in a way that that lost things never will.

The shell of a robin’s egg.

A cedar box full of time-burnished medals from my grandfather’s naval service.

A series of sand dollars and seashells, trapezoids of sea glass, abraded to perfection.

A snowy owl. Happened upon in a fog-shrouded clearing as the moonlight slipped through the clouds.

This one time? Ten bucks.

The carcass of a four-foot shark. On a Cape Cod beach. The day after we saw Jaws.

A possum, sliced clean through at the waist by a passing freight train – it landed on the flat of the cut. So it looked like a zombie possum that had nosed its way out of the earth, its face a rictus of terror and hatred, and its spindly little flesh-claws splayed in the Nosferatu style.

The only surviving photocopy of my dad’s suicide note, tucked in a file of police reports. The original was destroyed.

In the woods near our house, when I was like12: a marshy and leaf-strewn stack of Playboys – and this was the 70s, mind, when they still featured fully human females – each page needing to be coaxed away from its neighbor, so boggy and crumbly they were. You could spend ten minutes teasing apart a VITALLY important photo spread only to have the most critical components fuse together into a clot of sodden white pulp.

All these and scores of other items - stacked in the cigar box of posterity, the repository for the too-sporadic, the too-infrequent brushes with magic that make life bearable.

Found is discovery and intrepidness; it is the consequence of courage, or at least an awareness sufficient to recognize and snatch at happenstance. At the center of Found is a fondness for adventure, borne of a willingness to get off your ass and LOOK. The Tomb of the Pharoh and the Terracotta Warriors are made plain ONLY to those who get off the goddamn couch.

Look: there’s no ducking loss. We all know this.

The day we buried my grandfather – all the movie funerals can’t prepare you for the compact little box of the cremated, no bigger than a cinder block. It was disorienting to watch him lowered into a hole the size of one you’d dig to bury a toaster. My grandma knelt to stroke the box one final time. As she did so, a gold bracelet slipped off her narrow old lady wrist and into the small pit containing her husband.

She stood and brushed off her knees. “He can have it,” she said.  

My mom – abruptly, with a manic edge – dropped to her knees at the muddy lip of the hole now containing her father, and reached in. She retrieved the shimmering strand of gold.

“You keep it, mom,” she said, setting it in the cove of grandma’s palm and clasping it there.

It had been lost. But now was found.