The Sh– To Just Sh–ty… John Cusack

"Nananananana... I'm not listening to this post."

The quest begins to pinpoint the moment that John Cusack went from being The Shit to becoming sort of Just Shitty.

In the annals (ha!) of this category, it is not necessarily a title one’s locked into and therefore it’s totally reversible.  With his upcoming films Hot Tub Time Machine and the possible Cosmic Banditos, the turd that has become his career could shine once again.

But what caused the descent into the drain?  Let’s take a trip in the Toilet Bowl Time Machine to find out.

“THE SHIT”

There are groupings to this phase, and they go like so…

1) The Early Cameos

  • Films included: Class, Sixteen Candles, Stand By Me, Broadcast News
  • These were crucial in helping him to get his face out there, help out a former director, or branch out into other genres.

2) The Adolescent Male Fantasy

  • Films included: The Sure Thing, Better Off Dead, One Crazy SummerHot Pursuit, Tapeheads
  • This grouping, of course, made me a fan.  Well, Better Off Dead made me a fan.

3) The Teenage Girl Fantasy

  • Films included: The Journey of Natty Gann kind of, Say Anything… totally
  • By the power of Cameron Crowe’s film alone, the stage was set for Cusack’s for middle-aged (film career) doom.

4) The Serious Actor!

  • Films included: Eight Men Out, Fat Man and Little Boy (he played Little Boy, me thinks),  The Grifters, True Colors, City Hall, Money for Nothing (was it a comedy… was it a drama… does anyone remember seeing it?)
  • This was the point he started getting to work with some serious talent.  Were they hits?  Mostly misses.  Wait, I’m sorry.  Mostly Ms.

5) The Woody Allen Experiments

  • Films included: Shadows and Fog, Bullets Over Broadway
  • For a minute, it seemed like Woody was going to have a new muse in the form of Cusack.  58, 59, finished…

6) The Late Cameos

  • Films included: Bob Roberts, The Player, Map of the Human Heart, Adaptation
  • These roles were primarily favors.

7) The Beginning of the End of the Century

  • Films included: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Thin Red Line, Pushing Tin, Cradle Will Rock
  • Though none of these were hits – nor any good (The Thin Red Line is merely visual poetry) – they were still high-profile releases.

8) The Beginning of the End of His Reign as “The Shit”

  • Films included: Grosse Pointe Blank, Con Air, Being John Malkovich, High Fidelity
  • Arguably, my favorite group.  He wrote Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity.

9) The Slippery Slope

  • Films included: America’s Sweethearts, Serendipity, Max, Identity, Runaway Jury
  • I actually liked Identity, but compare this batch to earlier batches and you’ll realize Cusack’s star-power has diminished.

“JUST SHITTY”

Some would argue that 2000 was the end of the era of his best work.  (Okay, at least I would argue, and then blame it on Y2K.)  But in 2005, John Cusack started blogging for The Huffington Post.  Then came:

10) Paint By Numbers

  • Films included: Must Love Dogs, The Ice Harvest, 1408, 2012, The Contract (released straight to DVD)
  • Um.  How about a romantic film?  Nope.
  • Action-comedy then?  Pfft.
  • Horror it is.  Not.
  • Disaster pic FTW!
  • (Direct-to-DVD FML…)

11) Independent Hopefuls

  • Films included: Martian Child, Grace is Gone, War, Inc.
  • I still intend to see these independent releases, and I may actually enjoy them, but let’s be honest.  Cusack’s Better Off Dead, Say Anything days are long behind him…

So Long, And Don’t Let The Automatic Door Hit You On The Way Out!

Asta La Windows Vista, Baby!

Asta La Windows Vista, Baby!

The hell hole that stole my soul will finally be no more.  Circuit Shitty is set to close it’s remaining 567 stores by the end of March, and it’s website will shut down today.

Why do I have such disdain for the retail store?  Let me count the ways:

  1. I took the job to avenge my sister – I should have known better.  I had recently moved back from L.A. where I worked at a Best Buy.  There, they had taught me that “Circuit City” was the enemy and “working for commission” was evil.  As the DVD market was beginning to grow, I remember us laughing about the ridiculous plan CC had in motion to develop DIVX (more on this in a moment).  My sister, Tammie, had opened store #3604 back home, and she had been complaining about a manager that kept hitting on her/harrassing her.  She refused to take action so I got a job there to make sure it stopped.  It did.  That manager ended up helping me make a lot of money, so he ended up being an all right guy.  Cursed Southern salesmanship!  (NOTE: To be read as “curs-ed”… not “curst”… thanks.)
  2. It elevated my lifestyle.  When I started there in August of ’98, working in the SOHO department (Small Office Home Office), I made something like $700 my first full-commission week.  The next week, I made $1oo more, and the next – $200.  I had worked at a medical center prior to BB, and at BB, I was the Media Department’s Senior (which is a splash above regular).  This money influx was amazing.  There were days I could make my week’s pay that day.  I spent more than I saved.  And it took me a long time to break that habit, as well as another.
  3. It turned me to drinking excessively, amongst other things.  You see it in every movie: Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey, Giovanni Ribisi… they start making money and things *snap* start *snap* happening.  I had so much money I didn’t know what to do.  Couple this with the fact I worked at a nightclub Friday and Saturday nights… well, I didn’t do completely stupid things.  I just drank more than I even do now and partook in inhaling and occasionally ingesting certain types of vegetation…
  4. I had to make the sale.  No.  Matter.  What.  I never outrightly lied.  I may have slightly bent or tip-toed to the edge of what our service plans covered, but as long as I worked there, anyone that came in with a problem was taken care of by me.  Too bad I was only there for a year-and-a-half (too long).
  5. The DIVX Dupe.  For those of you only familiar with the media format, there used to be format with the same name.  The idea was you’d buy a disc for $4.50 and once you played it in your machine, you had access to it for 48 hours, after which you had the option to pay $15 more to permanently unlock it, or could “rent” it again for $3.  It put a DVD player in my house, but it was a dumb idea.  And I was forced to sell this product to every customer.  And since it was in the TV Department, all out wars broke out between SOHO and TV (because of the spiffs).  When it finally folded as a format, all the discs went on sale for a buck or two.  I bought pretty much every one.  They exist in a box in my basement and predicted my eventual DVD purchasing habit (I currently own over 1200).
  6. The CompuServe Rebate Ripoff.  For the first Christmas I worked, people had to save up to buy a home pc.  The cheapest complete system (14″ monitor, tower, printer, and of course – service plan) cost $1585.55 out the door, with something like $50-$100 in rebates.  I killed at selling this package, and it probably made me eighty-some bucks a pop.  The following August I spent backpacking in Europe and upon returning, the well had dried up.  The cheap machine boom was upon us (as was the looming Y2K fiasco), and at the center of the shitstorm laid the CompuServe rebate.  Anyone would get a $400 dollar rebate for signing a 3-year agreement to join the dial-up service at $21.95 per month, so everyone and their kitchen sink were coming in for the “FREE” pc.  Hardly any commission on that, and try to sell service plans I did – to no avail.  Where I had been swimming in cash at the end of ’98, I dove into an empty pool at the end of ’99.  I wouldn’t last many months more because in addition to making peanuts for pay (I was back down to $400 per week – the horror!), the quality of products we sold had also diminished.  This lead me to take a second job overnight at Target which brought me a great group of friends I still associate with to this day, so maybe Circuit City wasn’t that bad after all.

(I feel cleansed like this was some type of confession.  BB CCing you in hell!)

Another one buyts the dust...
Another one BUYts the dust…