In “Breaking Dawn,” the only thing that matters is sex. But we mustn’t speak of that.

I have never seen anything like “Breaking Dawn: Part 1,” which is so brazenly about something it never actually acknowledges, but isn’t smart enough to be allegorical. It freaks me out, and it should freak you out too.

I’ve had an itch to know and understand the “Twilight” series of books and movies ever since I almost wrote a story about a young girl in Santa Fe who committed suicide. She was the daughter of a combat marine and coach here, one of the best guys I’ve ever met. A few years ago when I was a sports reporter, I was regularly bugging him about helping me report on real-life competitive knife fighting. I didn’t hear from him in a while, and then he got back in touch and said he had another story he wanted me to do.

She was a young girl, I can’t remember how old. She’d become completely obsessed with the “Twilight” books, about two high schoolers who fall in love. The boy in the story is a vampire. His name is Edward and he’s really good-looking. The girl’s name is Bella. My friend’s daughter gushed on and on about how wonderful Edward is. She started telling her dad and other family members to call her “Bella.” She changed her hair and clothes to match descriptions of Bella in the novels. Then she hanged herself.

I did not end up writing this story, though I did interview a few experts on teenage suicide. The girl didn’t kill herself because of “Twilight;” she had deep-running issues with abandonment and self esteem. My friend thought the books were evil and had changed his daughter, but they didn’t cause the problems that ultimately killed her, nor did they drive her to hang herself.

Still, I’ve always been curious.

Sh*tbird f*cking toolbags

This is what happens in “Breaking Dawn: Part 1,” based on the last book in the “Twilight” series:

Bella and Edward are married, at a nice-enough wedding where family and friends give funny speeches. Nice enough, that is, until Bella’s werewolf friend Jacob shows up to see Bella on her “last day as a human.” Except she’s not gonna turn into a vampire immediately, she tells him. He freaks out and tells her she’ll die. Apparently, they are talking about the danger of human-vampire sex. This has to be inferred, though, because they never actually say anything specific.

Honeymoon time. Bella gets really nervous about the sex, though she never says so. She shaves her legs and brushes her teeth and there is huge, huge buildup to her finally getting the chance to bone this boring whelp Edward. They start going at it, and in the middle of the act Edward grabs the top of the headboard and squeezes it so hard it breaks in his hands.

“How badly are you hurt?” he asks her in the morning. She says she’s fine, but then they both notice she’s covered in bruises. Edward freaks out, throwing a fit of self-loathing. No more sex, he has decided without saying so. She puts on a black nighty and poses for him, trying to goad his whelp libido into action, and he laughs at her.

She wakes up from a dream and literally begs Edward in the middle of the night. He consents. The next morning she finds herself alone, eating peanut butter and chicken for breakfast. As she eats, she starts staring at a chicken leg, slowly pulls the pink meat from the bone, then gets nauseous and goes to the bathroom to throw up. She’s pregnant, just like that.

The flick gets really dark at this point. All the characters start telling Bella she’s going to die because she’s carrying a vampire baby. Abortion, just like the sex, is talked about over and over, without actually being talked about. Everyone wants the baby “out of her.” She says it’s a miracle, though, and she’s gonna have it. Edward flips out again, angrily blaming Bella for forcing him to do something he didn’t want to do. Now she’s gonna die because she was so insistent they do the dirty deed.

I just can’t stress this enough: There is no plot in “Breaking Dawn,” and no action. It’s all about the fretting over sex and its consequences.

When the baby comes we get a crazy caesarian scene, shot in first-person from Bella’s point of view. It’s incredibly bloody. Even worse is the way this scene sounds, with all kinds of crazy crunching noises. She actually dies for a while, until Edward bites through her skin on different spots all over her body. Then she comes back as a vampire.

This is just “Part 1.” “Part 2” is coming late this year, and it’ll sell out midnight shows and be a huge hit with little girls who are new to the feeling of finding boys cute instead of icky. That is a disturbing prospect. Being a little kid at that age (pre-teens and early teens) is genuinely strange. It can be scary.

Children should not obsess over a story line this brazenly sexual, especially if it can’t responsibly discuss anything. Kids are impressionable. If they’re consumed by a piece of teeny-bopper fiction, they may look to it for some kind of guidance. If some teenager’s boyfriend is a verbally and physically abusive man-child, well, he’s just like Edward so it’s OK. More likely, I think, “Twilight” just muddles the issue of sex in a confused young person’s mind. They sit and watch this garbage thinking it’s about one thing when it’s actually about another.

I looked up Stephenie Meyer, the author of the books and producer of the movies. She’s Mormon, for what that’s worth. She’s also filthy, stinking rich. If some sad tragedy in her past has screwed up her brain, I can’t find anything about that. She may be a covert culture warrior, helping the pro-life politicians who want to outlaw abortion and contraception. Bella is made to feel terrible, physically and emotionally, for wanting to screw her new husband before she was ready to carry his baby. That message would seem spot-on if you’re anti birth control.

Anyway, I hated this movie like nothing I’ve watched in a very long time. (Beyond the creepy politics, it’s just an awful piece of film making, with laughably terrible special effects and dialogue and acting.) If I ever have a daughter, it’ll be a personal mission of mine to keep “Twilight” out of her hands. I hope children who see these stupid movies don’t take them too seriously, because “Twilight” is the work of a sick, repressed mind.

Just like Bella’s demon spawn, it should not be.


1990 Phil’s Happiness Gets Anally Raped by Michael Bay

That’s me, showing off my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures, including April O’Neil in the back row all the way to the left. I’m wearing a Ninja Turles T-shirt and there are two Ninja Turtles posters tacked to the wall there. The look on my face is one of perfect innocence, born from the joy of being 10 and obsessed with mutant, ninja turtles who eat pizza.

I knew then, somehow, that the future held dark, hopeless misery in store. And so I spent every waking moment with my Ninja Turtles. Those action figures’ adventures on my bedroom carpet were epic tales, so awesome they would melt your face.

I crafted my own bold stories, usually crossover rescue missions with the Transformers, the Thundercats, and my neighbor’s G.I. Joes. There was mystery, romance, and action so meticulously choreographed it makes the car chase in “Matrix 2” look like Teletubbies crawling to their babas.

One thing I never, ever considered, in all those hard-core play sessions, was changing the origin story. The four Ninja Turtles – Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Rafael – were once normal baby turtles in the sewer. They stumbled upon some radioactive slime, dumped down the drain by a job-creating polluter. A very old rat was there too. The ooze gave them all superpowers. The rat – Master Splinter – taught ninja skills to the turtles, and each turtle is the master of a different martial-arts weapon. Splinter continues teaching the turtles to this day.

It was indisputable that this was how the Ninja Turtles came to be.

Then came a force of such power it could alter the very course of history. I speak, of course, of “Transformers” director Michael Bay. From Entertainment Weekly:

At the annual Nickelodeon upfront presentation last week, über-producer Michael Bay revealed details for Platinum Dunes’ upcoming live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, including a new origin story for the half-shell heroes that is sure to raise the ire of diehard fans.

“When you see this movie, kids are going to believe one day these turtles actually do exist when we are done with this movie,” said Bay as he took the stage to discuss his new vision for the reptilian reboot. “These turtles are from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely loveable.”

Kids will believe the turtles do exist? Michael Bay means, hopefully, that the special effects will be so seamless it won’t look like computer-graphics turtles or guys in costumes. (The mouths on those costumes in the original movies were controlled by someone off-camera on a joystick, and it looked like it.)

But wait…. They’re aliens? Aliens?! No, they’re not. Is there a whole planet of ninja turtles? If that’s so, it makes these four decidedly less unique. (I am not sure something can be “less unique.”)

These tough, edgy, funny and completely lovable new Ninja Turtles bring disgrace to my hallowed church. Turncloaks! I’m not the only one who’s furious over this to the point of spitting. This is from the Facebook page of Robbie Rist, who did the voice of Michelangelo in the first movie:

Dear Michael Bay.

You probably don’t know me but I did some voice work on the first set of movies that you are starting to talk about sodomizing.

Look man, I think you have some pretty nifty action ideas (of course on the other side, the minute ANYONE in your movies starts using actual dialog I seem to catch myself nodding off), but seriously, Teenage ALIEN Ninja Turtles?

I know believing in mutated talking turtles is kinda silly to begin with but am I supposed to be led to believe there are ninjas from another planet?

You know that ninjas are a certain kind of cultural charact….

Oh what the hell am I talking to you for?

The rape of our childhood memories continues…..

Michael Bay means to sodomize the first set of movies. That would include “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtes 2: The Secret of the Ooze,” which ends with the turtles dancing and fighting monsters at a live Vanilla Ice concert.

How dare you, Michael Bay. Sodomite!

(Just kidding. I f*cking love Michael Bay. I wrote a gigantic article about how much I love Michael Bay when I was working at the Journal. He can say the Ninja Turtles are girls, for all I care.)

Marlo wins “The Wire”

Marlo Stanfield’s last appearance in “The Wire” sees him in a sweet-fitting suit on a nighttime street corner, tasting his own blood and laughing. He’s just sent two armed drug dealers fleeing. Minutes earlier, he was at a party being introduced by his lawyer to rich Baltimore developers, businessmen and politicians. He got antsy at the party and ditched out to take a corner. He tastes the blood, from a bullet’s graze. He breathes in and out deeply. He nods and whispers “shit yeah.”

Marlo wins “The Wire.”

President Obama told sports-writing supergod Bill Simmons last week that his favorite character on “The Wire” was Omar Little. “It’s got to be Omar, right?” he said. “I mean, that guy is unbelievable, right?”

Hell yes he is. But that’s easy to say. Simmon’s website is doing this really great “Smacketology” tournament now, to determine whether or not Omar actually is the best character on “The Wire.” Fans vote for one character over another, bracket-style, on Grantland’s Facebook page until someone prevails.

“He is sort of the most unpredictable character type,” said writer and Flip-Side idol Chuck Klosterman on a Grantland podcast with Andy Greenwald. “We have this gay criminal, who has this strict ethical boundary. Who will not even swear, doesn’t even like people swearing. He is intimidating and yet only… has problems with other criminals. So there is no downside to seeing him as the best character, even though he’s not a conventional hero.”

Here’s the thing, though. “The Wire” is a game. For all the deep characterizations of America’s issues, “The Wire” is remembered as the greatest show of all time precisely because its great characters battle gallantly for control. The first season’s finale ends with Omar drawing on a drug dealer and telling him “All in the game, yo. All in the game.”

“I ain’t never put my gun on no man who wasn’t in the game,” he tells Detective Bunk in one scene.

As great as Omar is in the game, he’s dead by a small child’s bullet at the show’s conclusion. Many, many other characters on Grantland’s bracket are also dead. Others are disgraced. Others (McNulty) have found a kind of tenuous inner peace. Those guys all lost. “The Wire” is a game, and the winner should be the man standing strongest when the clock ran out. That was Marlo, a panther in a business suit, taking corners in the Baltimore night while white guys wait to make him money.

(As of this typing, Bodie is beating Marlo in the Sweet 16 round. This is ridiculous. Marlo’s people gunned down Bodie in the street.)

Running fool

It’s warm outside already. This is good news for me, because I need to run. My huge, sun-starved calves are the glistening white of raw cod fish. My core is soft and doughy.

Just now I ran 6.3 miles in an hour and nine minutes (according to MyTracks on my Droid phone). I listened to Kanye West’s album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, because it was mentioned next to “There Will Be Blood” in this cool Grantland article about the five-year anniversary of that weird Sopranos series finale. I ran to the Santa Fe Plaza and looked at the stone that marks the end of the Santa Fe Trail. I ran up Canyon Road, past sculptures of bears and Indian chiefs and Atlas holding up a giant iPod instead of the earth.

I don’t wanna be white and doughy. I wanna be bronze and rock-hard. I’m gonna continue running and writing about it here, because I think that’ll be fun and keep me motivated.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy has sweet tracks to run to. “Power” cranked up as I was waiting at a stop light, so I started running hard in place, pumping my knees high, feet bouncing over and over off the sidewalk. That seemed like a good idea to me, so I kept pumping my legs the same way every time I had to stop and wait for traffic. This is probably why I was so broke down by the end of today’s jog.

What Kobe Vs. LeBron Means

Clash of the Beasts: Kobe Bryant’s Lakers played LeBron James’s Heat on Sunday. Kobe scored 33 points, most on fading jump shots, and the Lakers won 93-83. LeBron scored 25 points in the loss, with 13 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocks. Kobe played a little better than LeBron, but the difference was the rest of the team. The other Lakers played really well, especially Metta World Peace (I want the jersey); the other Heat players played lousy.

It was a good game, even if it wasn’t such a good game, because LeBron and Kobe are the two best, most intriguing basketball players we have.

LeBron is a tragic figure – a man with everything and nothing simultaneously, like Citizen Kane. He’s 6-foot-8 or -9 and he weighs at least 275 pounds. It’s all muscle, and he’s completely comfortable and coordinated within that huge build. He has basketball abilities we’ve never seen in someone so large before, yet the whole spectacular machine is anchored by an essentially human flaw: he wilts under pressure.

When LeBron is on the bench he often chews at his nails, while his big baby eyes search the arena around him. When he’s in the game he gets low, wide and fast on defense, covering more than just a single player on the other team. He jumps higher than anyone else to snatch rebounds. His passes are bullets, fired from almost any body position, to guys who don’t even know they’re open. He’s so big and strong that his 3 pointers look like easy jump shots, and LeBron is a clutch 3-point shooter. (The deep 3 is a weapon he kills teams with at the end of close games.)

Get too close, though, and he’ll do what he does better than anyone else: bull rush the hoop at blazing speed, jump from well far away, finish for two points with either a dunk or layup or floater. Get in his way and you’ll get hurt.

Kobe is older than LeBron – 33 vs. 27 – with a ton of basketball miles on his legs. When he was in his prime athletically, he teamed with terrifying seven-foot Super-Man-Beast Shaquille O’Neal in the early aughts to win three titles in a row. Once he hit 30 and lost some of the lift in his legs, Kobe adjusted his game to be fiercer from outside – just like Michael Jordan did – and won two more championships, back-to-back, without Shaq, including one over the Lakers’ long-time rivals, the Celtics.

(Kobe nicknamed himself “Black Mamba.” My favorite shoes I’ve ever owned are my 2011 Kobes, purchased for $35 at the Nike outlet store in Santa Fe. [If you need shoes, go there.] They stick to the *cough*handball!*cough* court when I need them to. They have a soft feel on my feet and a silver, snake-skin design on the outsole. I love them.)

Kobe doesn’t have nearly the power of LeBron. The Mamba is basketball fast, though, and can stop and start so suddenly. He keeps his dribble alive with smooth movements any direction. Kobe dribbles like he has spent hours bouncing a basketball every day since he was a little kid. (This is most likely exactly what he’s done.) Kobe will dribble a few bounces in any direction and shoot a feathery jumper with perfect backspin. He can do this from anywhere, so defenders don’t know what to do with him.

Basketball at its highest level has got to be about timing and nuance, because defense is so good. There’s genius in being able to make enough space with your dribble that you can launch a shot with the exact stroke you want. Kobe is the master of this.

He’s also mean. He makes a scary face sometimes:

He talks shit about his teammates and will chew them out on the court for playing badly. He cheated on his wife with tons of women, and he plays like it.

Picture the trajectory of basketball awesomeness from Michael Jordan to Kobe to LeBron. Jordan didn’t get famous until he was a champion in college, at North Carolina. Kobe was famous as a high-school senior, but he was still a mid-round draft pick (straight out of high school, so no college for Kobe). No one expected a player this great when he came into the NBA.

LeBron was on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was a junior in high school. That headline said “The Chosen One.” He kept getting better and better at basketball, but it’s widely acknowledged that the keys to his greatness are size and athleticism, which come pretty naturally. Whereas Jordan and Kobe had to earn their spotlights as players at the professional level, LeBron got his as a little kid. From then on, he’s been surrounded by enablers telling him how good he is.

LeBron is awkward and unfunny. He’s going bald. He choked last year in the finals. He’ll almost certainly get back there this year, and history says he’ll blow it again.

It’s neat to watch two amazing athletes collide this way. LeBron’s entering his prime as Kobe’s exiting his. Kobe, though, knows he’s got more guts than The Chosen One, and will fight like a starving dog to keep the young buck down. Unless he flakes out and doesn’t. Interestingly, Kobe has quit in the playoffs before, just like LeBron has. That’s the exception for Kobe, though, while with LeBron it’s the rule.

Jordan? He never quit in the playoffs.

Anyway, these are the two teams casual fans will want to be watching: Lakers and Heat. Hopefully, they’ll meet in the finals. If they don’t, it’s probably because something odd has happened in the complicated mind of Kobe Bryant or LeBron James.

Rushbo: Talent… on loan… from GOD

I listen to Rush Limbaugh sometimes. I admit it. He’s crazy, and I find it entertaining. I also like to argue about this political stuff all the time, and if you’re going to beat something you have to understand it first.

Limbaugh says liberals hate America and want to destroy it. He says Obama intentionally ruined the economy. He once said Obama’s big motivation was “forced reparations.” When a white kid got beat up by a bunch of black kids on a school bus, Limbaugh blamed that on Obama too.

Lately, he’s been calling a woman who wants insurance companies to cover contraception a “slut.” He said if taxpayers are paying for her birth control, she should put sex tapes on the internet for all of us to watch.

Advertisers hightailed away from him over the last week because of what he said. I’ll never hear Limbaugh say again what the “sleep number” is on his mattress.

Because he’s been in the news this weekend, I listened to the beginning of his show today, curious.

Two if by Tea remains his sponsor. That’s the first thing he says today.

“While I have your attention, give me 30 minutes here. It’s all I ask, and then you can do what you want.”

Ok. Preach to me, Rush. Tell me why I’m evil.

Limbaugh issued an apology over the weekend to the woman he called slut, Sandra Fluke. It was quite strange to hear this man had apologized for something.

He’s explaining why he apologized. The theories he’s read “on all sides” are wrong. He doesn’t expect morality and intellectual honesty from the left. “They demonstrate over and over a willingness to do anything to advance their agenda.” In fighting them on this issue last week, he says, he became like them.

“Against everything I know to be right and wrong, I descended to their level when I used those two words (slut and prostitute) to describe Sandra Fluke. I feel badly about that. I’ve always tried to maintain a degree of integrity and independence on this program. Those words were inappropriate and uncalled for.”

Wow. He doesn’t think she’s either of those two words, and didn’t think so when he said it. He sincerely, sincerely apologizes.

“I became like the people we oppose. I descended to their level. You never descend to their level, or they win.”

“What really is going on here is what we know to be true. Our president Barack Obama has a socialist agenda, when it comes to healthcare and when it comes to birth control.”

Oh man. We should be pissed at Obama, because he doesn’t want us to decide for ourselves what happens to our bodies.

Liberals treat pregnancy as a disease for political reasons, Limbaugh says, and then he says a bunch more things. That’s all I can take for now. I listen to Limbaugh, but never for more than 15 minutes at a time. It’s just too awful.

One last thing, though. Limbaugh makes his millions by being on the radio three hours a day, but he’s also a brand. Staying famous is essential for Limbaugh, or he loses power and, with it, his audience. So every once in a while, Rush says something racist or sexist to get politicians and pundits angry.

Part of Limbaugh’s job is to be famous, that’s why he says these things. Bitching about him only makes him stronger. If he’s to be beaten, he must first be understood.

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