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In Which I Tell You Everything That Happened But Not What It Means Because I Do Not Know Or, In Other Words, SPOILER ALERT

September 24, 2013

I finally went to Grocery Outlet last week, and it was just as depressing as I had hoped. I don’t like to leave a sad store without buying anything because that only makes them more sad, but I also didn’t want to buy any of their heirloom vegetables because by “heirloom,” they clearly meant that the lettuce had been purchased by the original produce manager who passed it down through several successive generations. Instead of leaving in tears, I walked around for a bit and looked at everything, especially the hand sanitizer.

What I purchased:

  1. 1 box of Morton’s iodized salt, 69¢
  2. 3-pack of Palmolive bar soap, 99¢
  3. 1 Lindt dark chocolate bar, $1.99

What I wish I hadn’t purchased:

  1. The Lindt chocolate bar because do they not put sugar in those?
  2. There is no second thing.

What I didn’t purchase:

  1. Mrs Smith’s Frozen Apple Pie with a Sell By Date of May 2013. 99¢
  2. Spam, manufactured in Minnesota, but with a label in Japanese that translated as, “delicious meat can.” $2.19
  3. Fake Spaghetti-Os, called Spaghetti Rings, pictured on the label as being served in a disturbing brown sauce. $1.49. $1.49! That’s 49¢ more than real Spaghetti Os!
  4. The American on DVD. $4.99

$4.99 is a good price for a DVD, but I saw The American on April 7, 2011 and I know this because I started to write a post about it the following day, never finished it, and never deleted the post from my drafts folder. I’ve decided to publish it now, exactly as I wrote it that day, so that it may serve as both an historical artifact and as concrete evidence that I am a weak finisher. Also, I haven’t written anything in three weeks and I can feel how depressed you are from watching the speech from Brian’s Song over and over so I need to put something else on the top of the page.

Anyway. Here. Enjoy or something.


Last night I saw The American starring George Clooney and some other people who are not as attractive. I didn’t know what this movie was about before I saw it, and now that I’ve seen it, I still don’t know. There are several reasons for this.

1. There’s not that much dialogue.
2. Not all of the dialogue is in English.
3. There are subtitles for the non-English dialogue, but the subtitles are only about 1/4 the size of normal subtitles.
4. Also, the subtitles are white, which is an excellent choice considering all the scenes with snow and white stucco buildings.
5. So basically, I only tried to read the subtitles about half the time.
6. Even aside from the subtitles, I wasn’t paying that much attention.
7. I’m not all that bright.

So! The movie opens with a long shot of a small cabin in some very snowy woods. The subtitle reads, “Sweden.” Inside the cabin, Clooney is staring into the fireplace with a glum look on his face next to a woman who looks pretty happy probably because they’re only partially clothed and one of them is George Clooney. Next they are fully clothed and walking outside in the snow where the woman points out some tracks which she identifies as “illegible.” So I stopped the movie, and went upstairs to get a different pair of eyeglasses since the ones I normally wear around the house are old and at least three prescriptions out of date. In general, I find slightly fuzzy vision to be more relaxing because the world is an ugly place.

Back on the couch — my couch I mean, and Clooney and the woman are still walking around in the snow, and the woman says something about how there should be two sets of tracks. I still don’t know what kind of tracks these are. Maybe they’re lobster tracks. Lobsters usually travel in pairs. Clooney then takes note of the single set of lobster tracks, grabs the woman and runs toward a tree or a hill or a buttress or something as someone begins firing shots at them. Clooney pulls a gun out of his pocket and fires back. The woman says, “why do you have a gun!?!?” And Clooney replies, “in light of the fact that someone is shooting at us, I think the more pertinent question is, ‘why don’t you have a gun?'” Okay, not really, but that’s what he should have said. Instead, he stands there quietly and the guy shooting at him is all, “huh. That’s weird. I wonder where he went,” and steps into view, at which point Clooney shoots him dead. Clooney walks over to check the body, while the woman stands there freaking out. He orders her to go back to the cabin and call the police. She begins to run back to the cabin and Clooney shoots her in the back of the head. Suddenly, he’s seeming less attractive to me. There was also another guy who was with the first guy, and Clooney shot him as well, but I can’t remember the details.

Now, Clooney steps off train and makes a call at a pay phone. I stop the movie to check the DVD case to see what year this movie was made. Oh, 2010. Well, that’s weird then. A man named Pavel answers the phone and when Clooney says, “it’s Jack. I’m in Rome,” Pavel lets out the world’s longest sigh. “Heeeehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.” Oh, well pardon Jack for living, then. Pavel tells Clooney to go to a town called Abruzzo and something something something (I wasn’t paying attention).

Clooney drives to Abruzzo, and stops on a street where a woman is outside with a broom. Clooney gets out of the car and stares at the woman with the broom. The woman with the broom stares back. Clooney gets back in his car and drives away. That certainly seems germane to the narrative.

Sometime later, Clooney walks out of his house in Abruzzo headed somewhere or other. A priest stands on a street above him and watches.

Clooney sits in a nearly deserted restaurant, drinking coffee. There are 90 more minutes in this movie and at least 40 of those minutes will consist of Clooney sitting in a nearly deserted restaurant, drinking coffee.

Then a bunch of stuff happens, involving a vending machine, a prostitute, two lambs, the priest, and a whorehouse. None of it means much of anything.

Clooney buys cheese. Really. There’s a whole thing with him buying cheese. He spots a woman he seems to recognize and follows her to a nearly deserted restaurant where they sit at separate tables but right next to each other because that always fools everyone. He agrees to provide her with an automatic weapon that has the range of a rifle and a sound-dampener that will disguise from which direction the shots were fired. I still have no idea who any of these people are.

Clooney has dinner at the priest’s house. The priest is cooking stew, but it looks like dog food if you ask me. On the mantle, there’s a picture of the priest with a young man. Clooney and the priest sit down to eat their Alpo and the priest says, “oh hey, you should go see this guy Paulo or Fredo or Frodo (I wasn’t paying attention). He’s an auto mechanic.” Wait, what? Why does he need to see an auto mechanic? Oh, let’s just keep going.

Clooney is driving down a country road, stops, gets out of the car, and kicks the bumper loose. I think that’s a rental car, so I hope he got the insurance. He drives to the mechanic where he meets Frodo, who is the young man in the photo with the priest. They’re standing outside next to the car but go into the garage to talk and stare awkwardly at each other. After a few minutes of this, Frodo says, “So! I’ll just go outside, you know where we were before we walked inside for no apparent reason, and look at your car!” While he’s outside, Clooney walks around the garage picking up various metal things and has his hands full of Frodo’s property when Frodo returns inside. “Uh. Someone said I could have this stuff.” Frodo is, like, oh okay, cool!

Back to the prostitute. Her name is Clara and she lets Clooney kiss her on the mouth so this is how you know they’re in love.

The next day, Clooney is sitting in a nearly deserted restaurant drinking coffee. Clara sees him through the window and she and another woman enter the restaurant. She introduces the woman, but I didn’t catch her name. According to the credits, that woman is either “Anna” or “Hooker #3.” Clara informs Clooney, “Anna/Hooker #3 and I are going to go see an American movie. Anna/Hooker #3 is learning to speak English,” at which point Anna/Hooker #3 says, “I WOULD LIKE TO GO TO AMERICA SOME TIME!” See, this is very convincing. People who teach English always talk loud and slow. It’s all REPEAT AFTER ME: WHERE IS THE BUS STOP? I WILL HAVE THE HAMBURGER AND FRENCH FRIES. HOW DO YOU DO? all the time. And if a person’s English is not that great, English speakers also talk to them like they’re deaf. SHOW ME YOUR PAPERS? DO YOU HAVE PAPERS? WAIT HERE WHILE I CALL HOMELAND SECURITY. No wonder non-English speakers think this is how we all talk. Anyway, Clara asks Clooney out on a regular date, but he doesn’t catch on right away because he’s like, “oh, at the whorehouse?” and Clara says, “er, no. At a restaurant.” Later, at the restaurant, Clara gets all pissy with the waiter because he asks her if she wants sparkling water when duh! obviously she wants still water! So


That’s where I stopped. I got one word into the next sentence, realized I was only about halfway through both the movie and my entirely pointless post, and said, “aw, screw it” apparently. That was two years ago, so I can’t remember now what happened after Clooney and Clara had dinner in the restaurant, but just guessing, I would say that there were a few more scenes of Clooney drinking coffee alone in a nearly deserted restaurant and then a shootout and then someone dies. I don’t know.

I apologize for this post. Let me make it up to you by showing you this picture of George Clooney as a tween.

  1. September 24, 2013 4:39 PM

    I once lived in the town where Spam is made. I’m sure this will surprise you greatly.

    I understand that when the wind is just right, the entire town smells like delicious meat can.

  2. September 24, 2013 6:07 PM

    I actually like Lindt dark chocolate but I like insanely bitter things like espresso and broccoli. I am the antithesis of a ‘supertaster.’ The price of the off-brand canned spaghetti confirms my belief that cheap supermarkets often charge more because they try to take advantage of poor people’s lack of access to transportation. Actually, it sounds like a trip to that grocery store would have fit in very nicely with the plot of “The American!”

    I’ve eaten other Lindt dark chocolates and they were fine, but this one tasted like unsweetened baking chocolate. I mean, I still ate it, but it made me cranky.

    I was a little surprised that the store was as bad as it was, since Charles has had okay experiences in the one near where he is, although maybe it’s just that the one I went to is in a sketchy area. Most of the people in there seemed to be buying beer.

  3. September 25, 2013 3:55 AM

    I think your translation is way better than the actual movie.

    The photo is still the best part. Awkward teen Clooney improves anything.

  4. Marius permalink
    September 26, 2013 3:15 AM

    I truly enjoyed your movie review, but it’s quarter after six in the morning and I’ve been up for two hours already, so my cleverness glands are still asleep, so, um, meerkat?

    Yes, always meerkat. But since Halloween is less than a month away, baby bat as well.

  5. September 26, 2013 11:35 PM

    Timely since I went to the better of the two Grocery Outlets near me. It was not as sad as your experience, but I didn’t leave with much. They had plenty of frozen and dry/canned food in brands I have heard of, but none of it appealed to me, And they didn’t have anything in the “they still make that” category or things from other regions like I’ve seen there before. I ended up buying toilet paper, shampoo and some gluten-free granola. I imagine that made the woman checking me out sad.

    I saw a few unusual things, mostly Triscuits in different flavors, that I might have bought, but I’d already walked through the ancient produce section and seen the expired pies in the freezer case, so I was imagining that the dry goods would be filled with weevils. I get the same way whenever I’m in a Wal-Mart.

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