February 27, 2004
When talking points collide
As German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder met with President Bush at the White House today (both men presumably enduring the event with forced smiles and pseudo-affable buddy posturing), Number 43 let fly with a puzzling new iteration of one of his trademarked "Bushisms" as the two leaders discussed that whole war/crisis thing going on in the Middle East -- specifically, the potential for democracy to flourish in the region.
"Bush and Schroeder also talked about the Middle East, with Bush stressing the need to put democratic institutions in place 'that survive the whims of men and women.'
At the tail end, there, the AP's Jennifer Loven was thoughtful enough to remind readers of the confusing tenor of the President's remarks, but, in true objective journalistic fashion, neglected to take the opportunity to provide the most likely interpretation: his remarkable ability to stay on message all week long!
Of course, Bush seemed to have forgotten which event this was, and that he had already proposed his "marriage as a union of a man and woman" constitutional amendment earlier in the week, and that today's particular remarks should have instead featured the President making the usual hyperbolic proclamations about making the world safe again.
Presumably, even, for homos, though we can forgive Bush for mixing up his discussions of conservative minority-as-majority regimes.
Slipped Right Through His Fingers
"Bankrupt boxer Mike Tyson is financially down for the count, saying things have gotten so bad that he's struggling just to put food on the table."
Whenever I read about Mike Tyson's travailsrape convictions, ear-biting, arguments with reporters, acrimonious divorces, fist-fights in a Brooklyn hotel, facial tattoos, bankruptcyI always think of the scene in Barbara Kopple's phenomenal, empathic 1993 documentary Fallen Champ in which Tyson, age 15, has a breakdown between bouts at the 1982 National Junior Olympics in Colorado and sobs to his trainer Teddy Atlas:
"Its all right now Im Mike Tyson everybody likes me, yes, everybody likes me Ive come a long way, Im a fighter now, Im Mike Tyson."
Just beneath the tabloid spectacle of Tyson's public decline is a very real tragedy. Unfortunately, Tyson is such an unsympathetic figure that it's hard to feel bad for the guy. Sadly, his story's gonna get a lot worse before it ends.
I disliked Big Fish, too, but I wouldn't call it 'crud' (Or 'Enthralling,' actually)
Unabashed Stars Break the Shackles of the Name Game, by Virginia (insert your own lame joke about my last name) Heffernan, The New York Times, Feb. 27, 2004.
February 26, 2004
Absolutely Our Last Passion-Related Post (Today)
The early reviews are in:
'Jews Killed Jesus' Sign Causing Controversy: Pastor Refuses To Remove Or Change Saying On Outdoor Marquee, ABC News, Denver
We hates the U.N....NO! We loves the U.N.!
from Reuters: Britain, Russia sweat as secret operations exposed
The British government was rocked by allegations by a former cabinet minister that it spied on United Nations chief Kofi Annan in the run-up to the Iraq war last year.
"Huzzah," He Lied
How do you know a publicist is lying? His lips are moving.
Check out this hilariously deluded comment from Mel Gibson's PR man, Alan Nierob (whom we're told is "himself the child of Holocaust survivors"), in Sharon Waxman's New Film May Harm Gibson's Career (The New York Times, Feb. 26, 2004):
"I think Hollywood appreciates good art and will embrace the talent of a filmmaker."
C'mon, Alan! Even you can't believe that.
Lewis Black Can't Lose (Actually, he has. And he's still pissed.)
If you thought Lewis Black was just that overly-caffeinated, disheveled comedian who does Back in Black on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, swing on by The LA Weekly to learn about his early career as a playwright. (In Love, Pissed, by David Shulman).
Like any writer, Black's got a little creation myth about the moment he was first prompted to put pen to paper. Like his comedy, it's half bitter, half funny as hell:
Id been living with an actress... And she went over and did a major motion picture in England. Wed been together three years, and now we were in Skid Mode. So she goes over there [England], and I dont hear from her until she calls me up and tells me shes met the man shes going to marry. And Im like, Are you out of your fucking mind? Because this is a girl without a mainstream romantic bone in her body. Less than a year later, shes marrying the guy. All my friends went to the wedding. And I didnt... I really loved her family. We got along really well, and I heard that all the family talked about at the wedding was me, and how they couldnt believe she was marrying this other guy. So all I did was go, Wow what if I had shown up? And that was really what the play became about.
His lose is the audience's gain, I guess.
Black's show, One Slight Hitch, is playing now at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank.
The mainstreaming of Method Man and Redman continues with the announcement that the rappers will star in a new sitcom for FOX. (Fox Parties with Boyz N' the Gated Hood, Hollywood Reporter, Cynthia Littleton and Nellie Andreeva).
Setting aside for the moment the awful, dated headline, here's the story of the show's premise:
The untitled Method Man/Redman project, now in production in New Jersey, is one of the heat-seekers on Fox's comedy development slate this year... The project, described as a kind of edgier take on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" theme, was the brainchild of Method Man, the Wu-Tang Clan member who figured that his idea for a TV series couldn't be any worse than a lot of the stuff he has seen in primetime in recent years.
I'll withhold my judgment until I see it, mostly because Method Man is so fucking awesome. I still listen to Tical all the time and whenever I hear Meph's growling, blunt-smoking frogman voice on a Wu-Tang album or side project (his verse on Raekwon's "Ice Cream" is a classic), I marvel at just what an amazing MC he is.
I've never seen How High, but I know from their videos and their short-lived Right Guard commercials that Method Man and Redman have great comic chemistry. (Maybe not the best taste in material, as a series of deodorant commercials suggests, but hey, they've got kids and college is expensive.)
It's also interesting to see how the mainstream usesand is usedby edgy rappers. Snoop Dogg set the template for transforming a frightening rap persona into a cuddly pose. (Even your mom says "Fo' Shizzle" nowadays.) Ice Cube is following suit with Barbershop and Barbershop 2: Back in Business. By this time next year, Method Man and Redman may be trading small talk with Regis and Kelly: time will only tell.
[via TV Tattle]
Kael, Kael, Spin, Spin
Shane Black, the poster boy for overpaid Hollywood hacks, is set to write and direct his first film for producer Joel Silver. According to Done Deal, the specifics are as follows:
Sounds like another classic Black film, fitting somewhere between The Last Boy Scout (a tough-guy private eye and a frustrated ex-quarterback try to solve a murder) and The Long Kiss Goodnight (a tough-broad former secret agent turned amnesiac mom and a frustrated detective try to solve the mystery of her past).
The words "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," which I saw on an Italian movie poster, are perhaps the briefest statement imaginable of the basic appeal of movies. This appeal is what attracts us, and ultimately what makes us despair when we begin to understand how seldom movies are more than this.(From Spicy Quotes)
Since she was smarter than I'll ever be, I'll give Pauline the last word, with this sideswipe at Black and Silver's Lethal Weapon, by way of complimenting Jonathan Demme:
February 25, 2004
Confidential to Dennis Miller: "Paki" is a racial slur
"'Paki' is an extreme racial slur used to refer to people of South Asian origin. It is a South Asian equivalent of the term 'Jap' or the 'N word.' President Bush apologized after using the word last year at a press conference."
"Paki" is listed in The Racial Slur Database
To do: Send email to Dennis Miller to express your disapproval of racial slurs on television.
Man on the Cross Street (Passion Survey #1)
We interviewed a completely random selection of movie goers exiting the 12PM screening of The Passion of the Christ at the Jerusalem Multiplex 16 to get their opinions on this controversial film.
Mensch on the Street (Passion Survey #2)
We interviewed a completely random selection of movie goers exiting the 12PM screening of The Passion of the Christ in Brooklyn to get their opinions on this controversial film.
Talking Pod's Memo
Right wing relaxed fit Beltway pundit, John Podhoretz made a comedians-turned-pundits bank shot by appearing on Dennis Miller's eponymous CNBC show and Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night. He managed to trade quips with both men without breaking a sweat or changing his flattering grey suit with matching blue shirt and yellow tie (in honor of the troops?).
What he didn't manage to do, however, was come up with enough material for both shows. While promoting his new book Bush Country (the title of which is a deliciously naughty mnemonic tautology), he dusted off a few choice chestnuts. Very few.
From, Dennis Miller, 9PM EST, Feb. 24, 2004:
Dennis Miller: Gimme three or four the most crazy liberal ideas about our President.
John Podhoretz: Well, I think I got eight of them in the book. One of them, of course, is that he's an idiotwhich I think that anyone who believes by now is an idiot because he keeps de-pantsing people who underestimate him... The other is that he's a puppet of his dad, uh, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, the neo-conservativesno one can decide who he's a puppet of because he's not a puppet, he's his own man... Liberals think that he's a religious fanatic... [They] say he's a cowboy... These are some of ways he's mischaracterized, misrepresented.
From, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, 11PM EST, Feb. 24, 2004:
John Podhoretz: I do believe that a lot of people who criticize the President do criticize him in a reckless and irresponsible and unfair fashion. As you mentioned, I go through the book, eight, what I call 'Crazy Liberal Ideas About Bush.' One that's he's a moron, one that he's a puppet, one that he's a religious fanatic, one that he's like Hitler, and so on...
Repeat it one more time, and Beetlejuice will appear!
They Found It At the Movies
"In his prerelease screenings, Mr. Gibson invited mostly conservative evangelical clergy. They in turn responded by reserving huge blocks of movie tickets for their congregations. When the film opens today, expect theaters around the country to be turned into temporary churches."
Other Recently Proposed Constitutional Amendments
No more special treatment for Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate
Paul made the Constitutionally- recognized best Beatle
Infield Fly Rule unilaterally banned
Lefties to be forced to become righties, or be burned at the stake
Discussions about the weather in elevators no longer protected by First Amendment
Super intelligent robots, should they be invented, never to be endowed with human emotions under penalty of being unplugged
February 24, 2004
[Thanks, Dave, who waited two weeks for this joke.]
Co-opting the Friedman
The pissing contest between FOX 411 gossip columnist Roger Friedman and The New York Times' Hollywood reporter Sharon Waxman has spilled over into Cynthia Cotts' Press Clips column in this week's Village Voice.
To be honest, Friedman's doing most of the pissing, complaining that Waxman is boosting his exclusives without attribution. He complained to Times Public Editor, Daniel Okrent, who decided that Waxman had done nothing wrong.
Buried at the bottom of Cotts' story is this nugget:
Sometimes Friedman gets it right. But anyone who starts crowing about inaccurate and unethical reporting will eventually have the spotlight turned on himself. Other scribes express varying degrees of affection and pity for Friedman. One calls him "marginal, with delusions of grandeur"; another says he wants "to be respected."
Reminds me of this passage from Peter Biskind's Down and Dirty Pictures:
Amending prior amendments (Amended)
As expected, President Bush (decked out in full white-male, closed-minded power-broking asshole regalia) came out in support of a constitutional amendment today which would aim to specifically ban same-sex marriages, ostensibly in an attempt to "prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever" after the occurrence of events in California, Massachusetts and New Mexico which have indicated that "a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization."
That fundamental institution, of course, is the ability of one man and one woman to marry. Historians familiar with the establishment of religion, the writing of the Magna Carta, the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment, and the onset of the American Revolution know this firsthand: these events were each based primarily upon the ability of men and women to wed, and were in no way grounded upon issues of individuality or self-respect or self-governance or human and civil rights. Right? Oh, I'm sorry, I was reading from the rightwing playbook there for a moment.
Back to that most fundamental of institutions, marriage...
Bush went on to explain, "Our government should respect every person and protect the institution of marriage. There is not a contradiction between these responsibilities."
Hmmm...let's take a look at the current Bill of Rights and the other extant amendments to the current United States Constitution. I think I see some of these potential "contradictions," to say the least, despite President Bush's reassuring words to the contrary...
Article IX. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
If, in some burst of mass hysteria and irrationality on the part of our legislative body, this proposed 28th Amendment is passed, we can hopefully look forward to the eventual and subsequent passage of Article XXIX, which, in the tradition of Article XXI, would state, "Section 1. The twenty-eighth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed."
At which point the U.S. Constitution will be nothing more than a cheapened document, comprised of little more than the expression of a series of conflicting values, borne of an "issues of the moment" ideology.
Doll (Private) Parts
Disclaimer: The link to this story is absolutely not safe for work! (Especially if you work at a toy store.)
The photos are way disturbing, especially the fact that the doll looks so much like Britney Spears.
Can't they make a doll whose eyes close when it's horizontal, like those dolls kids play with?
Dirty Dancing: Rewrites
Apparently eight. Coming this Friday, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, written by:
1. Victoria Arch
Can't you just see them all in one big room, laptops networked together, ideas flying left and right? Teamwork: it's a beautiful thing.
Of course, all of them combined couldn't come up with a line as quotable as "Nobody puts Baby in a corner!"
Collect 'Em All!
The New York Post's The Passion of The Christ Collector's Edition Covers:
Brett Ratner, Character Witness
Brett Ratner talking about Michael Jackson's underage accuser:
"[The boy] would sit in my director's chair. When I told him to get up, he'd tell me to go to hell... He used to tell me, 'Brett, I don't like the last shot' while he was watching us make the movie. He's telling me how to make my movie! He's more street smart than I was at that age. If someone tried to fondle him, he'd punch them in the face. He's an adult. I think the jury will see that." (From Roger Friedman's FOX 411 column, Feb. 24, 2004)
So the kid thought Ratner couldn't make a movie? He's obviously a child prodigy. From this point forth, I believe everything he has to say.
February 23, 2004
There are two things wrong with this picture
1. The bus in the center, presumably destroyed by a suicide bomber, much like yesterday's blast which killed 8 people and injured scores more.
2. The wall itself, a 24-foot-high concrete monstrosity subject to review by an international tribunal at the Hague today to debate the "legality" of the wall, a gargantuan construction which certainly plays no part in dehumanizing Palestinians, but instead provides security for Israelis and prevents suicide bomber attacks (See answer key item #1, step, and repeat).
Drive, He Spanked
ALBANY, N.Y., Feb 20 (Reuters) Andre Gainey found out the hard way that in the state of New York it's illegal to drive while watching porn.
Police said the 35-year old man from Clifton Park, New York, was watching a adult movie called "Chocolate Foam" on Tuesday night while driving his Mercedes Benz in the town of Schenectady when he was spotted by an officer at a stop light...
[Courtesy of the brilliant Javier, who very rightly wondered why we needed to know the video's title.]
"Why Are You So Awesome?"
Remember the old SNL skit where Chris Farley (R.I.P.) had his own talk show? If Chris had had a better vocabulary, it might've been a lot like this: The Business: Kevin Smith interviews Tom Cruise. (Arena, Feb. 2004)
Weather Report from Hell: Temperatures dipping below 0°
Holy fucking shit: Noam Chomsky wrote an Op-Ed in today's New York Times: A Wall as a Weapon.
Another slow news week
"Since we know you're wondering, let the record show that every weirdly combed follicle you see is his. Trump swoops up his bangs to prove it. "I don't say my hair is my greatest strength in the world, but it's not terrible," he says, though perhaps it would look better if someone other than his girlfriend cut it," The World According to Trump, by Keith Naughton and Marc Peyser, Newsweek, Feb. 23, 2004
Related: "The numbers are stark and staggering. In the past three years, 232,400 jobs have been lost in the city. Every employment category except health care and teaching and educational services has taken a brutal hit... And the jobs could be gone forever," Where Have All The Jobs Gone?, by William Sherman, New York Daily News, Feb. 23, 2004.
Suggested themes to avoid at NYC's 2004 Republican National Convention
As Ed Gillespie, Karl Rove, et al prepare for this fall's upcoming Republican National Convention in Manhattan, we thought it wise to advise the party's pollsters to not have President Bush's chief economist N. Gregory Mankiw give one of his customarily rousing speeches about economic populism, which, in the past, have gone something like this:
Outsourcing jobs overseas is "probably a plus for the economy in the long run...outsourcing is just a new way of doing international trade. More things are tradable than were tradable in the past. And that's a good thing."
Perhaps Gillespie and Rove might consider having Pennsylvania State Legislator Frank LaGrotta speak:
"I wonder if George Bush believes this. I doubt it, I tell myself. George Bush is a 'compassionate conservative.'
OK, scratch LaGrotta, too. Better to avoid the topic entirely and stick to "safe" themes, like recalling how close Madison Square Garden is to Ground Zero.
February 22, 2004
Uh-oh. Four more years! Four more years!
From the February 22, 2004 Washington Post:
New campaign finance reports show that the two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination were barely solvent at the end of January heading into a prospective $50 million-plus ad blitz by President Bush.
We've Met Before, Right? You looked different then.
"'The Zippies Are Here,' declared the Indian weekly magazine Outlook. Zippies are this huge cohort of Indian youth who are the first to come of age since India shifted away from socialism and dived headfirst into global trade, the information revolution and turning itself into the world's service center." Thomas L. Friedman, Meet the Zippies, The New York Times, Feb. 22, 2004.
"What we have here is a major player in the premillennial cultural meme pool, and a loose-knit movement of folks who aim to change the worldwhile having the best time of their lives. Cyber-crusties, techno-hippies, post-raversthe British media have tried pinning various compound names to its members... But one name stands out, maybe because it was designed to. And for the moment it's sticking: zippies. It stands for Zen-inspired professional pagans..." Zippies!, by Jules Marshall, Wired, May 1994.
Related: Zippy the Pinhead
Spot Bush, R.I.P.
February 21, 2004
The big difference between foreign and American films
Jean Rouch, 1918-2004
Jean Rouch, an Ethnologist and Filmmaker, Dies at 86, by Alan Riding, The New York Times, Feb. 20, 2004:
"Jean Rouch, a French explorer, ethnologist and film director who played a significant role in forging the cinma-vrit style, died on Wednesday night in a car crash in the west central African nation of Niger, the French Embassy there said. He was 86.
"Mr. Rouch (pronounced roosh) was attending a film festival in Niger, where he first worked as a civil engineer more than 60 years ago. Reuters reported from Niamey, the Niger capital, that Mr. Rouch's wife, Jocylene Lamothe, the Niger filmmaker Moustapha Alassane and a Niger actor, Damour Zika, were also injured in the accident."
I still remember how uncomfortable I felt watching Les Maîtres fous (The Mad Masters, 1955) in college. The images of Hauka priests undergoing spirit possession were terrifying but also sort of funny and strange. The film provoked a heated discussion: Was it racist? Was it anti-Colonialist?
The participants in the ritual were imitatingparodying, actuallythe personalities of their colonial occupiers. According to Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell's Film History: An Introduction, "By day the cultists are dockers and cattle herders, but at the ritual, one becomes an army captain, another the governor, a third an elegant French lady. Rouch's doctoral thesis argued that in parodying their rulers, the Hauka release their feelings of imperialist oppression. 'The violent play,' the film's commentary warns, is only the reflection of our civilization.'"
This is very different from most depictions of Africa during that era in documentaries like Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi's Africa Addio (Goodbye, Africa, 1966), which I wrote about last year. Jacopetti and Prosperi used shock and terror to frame Africans: their sympathies are clearly not with their subjects or Africa.
Rouch was different. As Daniel Pinchbeck (Out of Africa, Art Forum International, Oct. 2000) writes:
(A slightly more contemporary American analog would be Jennie Livingston's Paris is Burning (1990) in which gay African American and Latino men perform in voguing competitions by vamping down the runway parodying the businessmen and rich people the world will never let them be.)
Rouch is one of those influential filmmakers who's slipped through the cracks. His filmsparticularly Moi un noir (Me, a Black Man, 1959)influenced the French New Wave and the cinma vrit movements. Unfortunately, his work is hard to come by outside of academic conferences, but perhaps they will find their way to DVD in the future.
They're so cute when they're little
I know what you're thinking: How will you live without Sex and the City?
Better, probably. And with more laughs, too. But for those of you who can't get enough of SaTC and want more than the easy to swallow (har har) half-hour doses you get on cable, you can start waiting on line now for the big screen version. (As if each episode didn't already feel two hours long.)
In the meantime, print out these photos and place them in your wallet if you love the show so much.
Not Pictured: Kristin Davis, who was born fully-grown.
February 20, 2004
Pink: Road Warrior
Lords of the Bling
I'm just as surprised as you are that one of the most incisive critiques of hip hop capitalism would come from MAD Magazine, but it's a crazy world, right?
On newsstands this month, The Lords of the Bling movie poster. I was sad that there wasn't room for Farnsworth Bentley as Samwise Gamgee ("Mr. Diddy, look out for that giant spider!"), but it's pretty perfect as it is.
February 19, 2004
2004 is shaping up to be a funny year
In related news: Writing Staff of Saturday Night Live Experiences Collective Spontaneous Orgasms During Idea Session
UPDATE: ROSS: I'M NOT GEST'S FIANCÉE, New York Post, Feb. 20, 2004. Sad.
A Billion Points of Light
The (Former) Sorcerer's Apprentice's Apprentice
[via TV Tattle]
Nailing the Marketing Plan
"Replicas of the nails used to hang Jesus on the cross have become the red-hot official merchandise linked to Mel Gibson's controversial new movie,The Passion of the Christ." 'JESUS' NAIL SALE, by William Neuman, The New York Post, Feb. 19, 2004
Anyone remember the old Bill Hicks routine about how pissed off Jesus would be if He came back and saw all His followers wearing crucifixes? Like He wants to see one of those ever again.
[Photo courtesy of The New York Post]
But they did approve the use of "Wrinkled Crinkled Wadded Dollar Bill" for a national chain of strip clubs
LAUNCH Radio Networks
Johnny Cash (news)'s children are squelching an ad agency's idea to use the Man In Black's hit song, "Ring Of Fire," in a commercial for a hemorrhoid-relief product. A producer with Fort Lauderdale-based company Big Grin Productions approached one of the song's writers, Merle Kilgore, with the idea. According to reports, Kilgore thought the idea was funny, but it was no laughing matter once Cash's children got word. The song was co-written by the late June Carter Cash (news), and both Cash and Carter Cash's children are reportedly angry about the prospect.
Might we suggest?: Bruce Springsteen, "I'm on Fire"; The Beatles, "Fixing A Hole"; Dolly Parton, "I'm Burning"; Blue Öyster Cult, "I'm Burnin' For You"; Andy Dick, "Little Brown Ring"; Donna Summer, "Can't We Just Sit Down"; Van Morrison, "Brown Eyed Girl".
February 18, 2004
Stupid like a FOX
LOS ANGELES, California (Hollywood Reporter)Sherman Hemsley of "The Jeffersons" fame is lending his voice to the title character in Fox's updated version of "Mister Ed."
How "urban" can a show about a talking horse be? Is Mr. Ed one of those inner-city horses we see all the time nowadays?
And what the hell happened to Sherilyn Fenn? First she played Pacey's Mrs. Robinson-esque boss/stalker on Dawson's Creek and now she's playing opposite a horse? What did Audrey Horn do to deserve this? I almost regret having had a crush on her when I was 14.
[via TV Tattle]
February 17, 2004
Irrefutable proof: The New York-Saddam Hussein connection
[Best Bet via Wonkette]
Billionaire Boys Club
This was a great weekend for wealthy, overgrown man-boys in the media. Everywhere you looked, serious, august news organizations were indulging very spoiled, very rich men who've built their own Xanadus the same way boys build forts out of sofa cushions and bed sheets.
First up, The New York Times Magazine, which flatteringly profiled the fun-lovin' Maloof brothers. (The Flying Maloof Brothers by Hugo Lindgrenwith photos by Tabitha Soren!) According to Lindgren:
(That 'lad magazine' reference inadvertently echoes Julia Chaplin's A Night Out With: The Maloof Brothers; Boys and Their Toys from The Times 'Style' section last November when she said "If FHM or Maxim could invent their dream bachelor, he would no doubt be something like the Maloof brothers.")
What could be more fun than being a Maloof? They own a casino, a hot nightclub, a sports franchise, andboo-yah!they're friends with Britney Spears (despite the fact that they're all 15 or more years older than her).
Now, at 45, he is living out his fantasy. And the best part of being a billionaire, he says, is shooting hoops with NBA stars in his own arena even though a lot of people thought he was too goofy to be an NBA owner.
Too goofy? This is the man who had the brains and sensitivity to take the Kobe Bryant rape case seriously: "From a business perspective, it's great for the NBA. It's reality television. People love train-wreck television..." he told reporters back in August.
We like Gulfstream V-wreck television even better.
I thank god it wasn't Ed Bradley, my favorite 60 Minutes correspondent, sent to trail around behind the screeching, fine-paying owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Luckily, it was Kroft who played wiffle ball with Cubes in his gaudy McMansion's chandelier room (fun!), caught him mixing up the word "millions" and "dollars" (endearing!), and visited the converted industrial space that houses the Mavs operations office, which Cubes affectionately described this way: "Its a sweatshop here and were proud of it... You cant see the chains attached to their ankle[s]." (Witty!)
How disgruntled would you be if your boss said that about you just after appearing on TV in his private jet and mansion? I bet you'd think it was hilarious. (This is the most annoying segment from CBS News since Bob Simon played Waylon Smithers to Felix Dennis's Monty Burns on 60 Minutes II back in November.)
But the thing that grated the most about Kroft's Cuban profile was the subject's high-pitched, smug giggle, which punctuated every statement he made like a rimshot. (Presumably even that Kobe Bryant statement above.) After the fiftieth time hearing that laugh, I finally realized why its jingle, its cymbals' song sounded so familiar. It was the same sound heard by Nick Carraway in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby when he listened to Daisy Buchanan and concluded "Her voice is full of money." (But were her legs pinned back ceaselessly like a Safeway chicken?)
Spending so much time with the Maloofs and Cubesmen with bank accounts in the eight digits and emotional maturity in the singlesI was reminded of another Gatsby quote, one that sums up the 21st Century's billionaire playboys even as it speaks to the early 20th's:
I've got no beef with self-made men, but I wish they'd stop acting like boys and actually become men someday.
ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN (ADAPTATION) TRADE
Getting your article optioned by a film producer is the goal of any good journalist. Just ask New York Times Magazine writer (and frustrated blogger bugbear) Peter Landesman, whose article, The Girls Next Door has been optioned by Roland Emmerich. What, you didn't read Landesman's article? Doesn't matter, sucka: it's gonna be made into a movie. (Which you can also not seebut the ads will be everywhere!)
Here's the trick: make it easyexceedingly easyfor the low level D-girls who read it to see the film as they read your article. Short of sub-heading your piece "It's Pretty in Pink meets Set It Off!," here are some simple tips for getting your article optioned, using Jim Windolf's great Raiders of the Lost Backyard, the story of three boys and their amazing quest to recreate Raiders of the Lost Ark shot-by-shot from this month's Vanity Fair:
Make your subjects 'types' (or better yet, stereotypes):
Write a funny set-piece that jumps off the page and onto the screen:
Create some colorful atmosphere and supporting characters, maybe a role for Henry Gibson:
Throw in some teenage romance for the girls:
Show conflict, the better to create meatier roles:
Make a cameo for a famous person who can also exec. produce the film:
Toss in an uplifting ending that will make audiences cheer!:
Hey Hollywood, option this story now and let's see it next summer!
February 16, 2004
Breaking: Insult Comic Dog Causes Civil War in Canada
An Insolent Puppet Roils Canadian Politics by Clifford Krauss
"[T]the seemingly harmless if crass remarks of a puppet created a blaze of protests on the floor of the House of Commons and became fodder for national politicians seeking to win Qubcois votes. Canada is in the midst of the biggest political scandal in more than a generation, but the foul-mouthed puppet was still front-page news and heavily covered on national television..."
Aren't Canadians supposed to be, like, comedic geniuses or something?
February 14, 2004
See also: Snead, James A. "On Repetition in Black Culture", Black American Literature Forum 15/4 (1981): 146-54.
Related: Marcellus Wallace.
"What a great day in Druggachusetts!"
Reruns columnist Emily Nussbaum does a fine job breaking down the (lack of) appeal of Sid and Marty Krofft and their bizarre menagerie of anthropomorphic felt creatures in The Evil Geniuses of Kiddie Schlock in this week's Times 'Arts & Leisure' section.
Nussbaum calls the Kroffts "TV hucksters" (no argument there) and posits that:
Yep, that's pretty much it.
Part of me wishes she'd gone a bit further and delved into Sid and Marty's equally surreal lives, the failed theme park in Atlanta, the treehouses, the illnesses. (It was all covered in H.R. Pufnstuf and the Strange World of Sid and Marty Krofft: The E! True Hollywood Story.) Another part of me knows that these guys, and their dated, schlocky programs don't deserve it.
What did surprise me, though, was the omission of The Altered States of Druggachusettes, Mr. Show with Bob and David's dead-on parody of H.R. Pufnstuf's (not-quite) druggy subtext.
Written by Mr. Show's own evil genius, Dino Stamatopoulos (who also sang the skit's theme song) and actor-writer Jay Johnston, it's a wild journey through the looking glass, just after the looking glass was used to cut some really potent coke (to chase all the LSD and pot, naturally). It's also, in its own way, the true skeleton key to Sid and Marty Krofft's insane oeuvre, and well worth the cost of the Mr. Show season 3 DVD.
(Sorta) Related: Mayor Bloomstak
February 13, 2004
Why Are We (Still) In Vietnam?
I read the news today, oh boy, and it made me feel like I'd fallen through a wrinkle in time and wound up in 1972. Suddenly, it's like the last 30 years hadn't happened and the battle between the hippies and the pigs never ended.
Is this just another example of Baby Boomer self-absorption, or is there something more behind all this talk of who was and wasn't "in the shit" and the dubious influence of "Hanoi Jane" Fonda? Whatever it is, it's captured the hearts and minds of the Gratingest Generation more than the other issues we face in the Presidential election, namely national security, the crushing budget deficit, lack of jobs, AIDS, education, millions of Americans still living below the poverty line, guns, the evironment, corporate malfeasance, and... oh, a million other issues.
But everywhere you turn it's Vietnam. There hasn't been an orgy of Boomer self-love this bad since... well, since last week when everyone celebrated the fortieth anniversary of The Beatles appearing on Ed Sullivan.
Remember when this election was about us? The Deanie Babies? The inheritors of that aforementioned deficit? The kids working overtime in that MoveOn.org commercial? Forget it, man. It's all about campus turf wars from before we were born. Just look at this nugget buried in Jane Mayer's article on Haliburton, Contract Sport, in this week's New Yorker:
Around this time, in 1968, Dick Cheney arrived in Washington. He was a political-science graduate student who had won a congressional fellowship with Bill Steiger, a Republican from his home state of Wyoming. One of Cheneys first assignments was to visit college campuses where antiwar protests were disrupting classes, and quietly assess the scene.
That disruption continues, but on the op-ed pages of papers from coast-to-coast.
Yes, Vietnam matters: one man's service followed by principled opposition means something and so does another man's avoidance of battle and subsequent insistance on sending thousands of others off to fight 30 years later. But these are not the main issues at hand here, and if we don't move on, we're going to get stuck in a quagmire, the likes of which we haven't seen since, well, Vietnam. Isn't it time the fighting stopped?
Painted from Mammaries
Tomorrow's Valentine's Day. (What, you forgot? You must be that insensitive clod dating Bridget Harrison. There's always Duane Reade...)
Anyway, if you're a straight fella living in New York and you find yourself in that awkward first few weeks of a relationship and you're concerned about the significance of this Halmarkiest of holidays you've got some options. Here's one you probably hadn't considered: check out the John Currin exhibition at the Whitney, which is in its last two weeks. (The museum's open from 11-6 on Saturdays.)
If you're dating one of those high strung liberal arts college types, she'll have a ball with Currin's voluptuous grotesques (or are they grotesque voluptuaries? I never can tell): she'll also have fun seeing all the other women in the gallery slumping forward slightly, de-emphasizing their busts and shrinking from the male gaze. (If she's gettin' up there in the years, she'll also love his depiction of the elderly.) You'll have a great time staring at Currin's painstakingly-realized pin-ups and feeling the awkward sensation of seeing your basest male fantasies writ embarrassingly large. (If you prefer your base male fantasies writ smaller, check out the much less respectable Art Frahm collection over at Lileks.)
The nice thing is that entire show comes pre-ironized for everyone's protection. How can you take the images to heart when they're presented as retro-jokes, replete with descriptions that evoke naughty jokes in old issues of Playboy? Take the card next to Girl on a Hill (1995): "[Currin] longs for the golden-hewed grassy hilltops of Northern California." Now laugh together at the fact that everywhere you look are golden-hewed hills. Then you can laugh at the fact that a good portion of the pieces are held in private collections in Beverly Hills and in the WASP ghettos of Connecticut. (And if you're extra lucky, maybe you'll see a woman with crutches staring balefully at this image, like I did last month.)
This is fun! Mounds of it.
Of course, if your special lady is one of those uptight "feminists" who can't take a joke, well, you're in the wrong place, pal. You can expect to go home alone tonight, andhow can we put this delicately?play air guitar to your Strokes CD. (The John Currin catalog only costs $50, but a copy of Juggs will run you, like, $7.) Happy Valentine's Day.
Sidebar: Speak Mammaries. Tits are big right now. Huge! First came Currin. Then Mary Louise Parker and the other stacked starlets at the Golden Globes, followed closely by Janet Jackson's tempest in a C-cup at the Super Bowl. Then there's the back-channel chatter among bloggers about one of our own that's crossed the line from ignorable to Orange-alert levels. (Guys, do we need to discuss the difference between fetishizing mostly-underage celebrities who are hidden behind publicists, handlers, and bodyguards and fetishizing a real live person who might find your repeated, and entirely unfunny references to her 'rack' off-putting and even frightening? A little respect and we won't have to resort to Antioch-like rules, okay?) Up next, A Dirty Shame, John Waters' next film starring Selma Blair as Caprice Stickles, a head-injury victim endowed with breasts the size of watermelons. It's only February and it's the best year Russ Meyer's had in a decade.
The Time of Their Time
The cool, omniscient approach is like an outline for a John Dos Passos or Tom Wolfe novel about politics, class, changing social mores, and the military. Of course, since it's MoJo, there's some sly wit:
And so on. Definitely worth a look, if only to wonder how this story will end.
[via The Morning News]
Hotter than a venti americano
If you thought Seattle was full of flannel-clad aging grunge rockers and the sexiest person there is Michael Kinsley dressed as Gorton's fisherman (left), swing on by The Stranger's Web site for their annual Valentine's Day Seattle's Sex Bombs spread.
As expected in a city where coffee runs hot and cold out of the faucets, there's Sexiest Baristas (four of 'em), but there's also a Sexiest Republican who makes Ann Coulter look (even more) like a she-beast. (Equal Time Regulations stipulate that The Stranger show a Sexy Deniac, too.) Then there are the Sexiest Movie Theater Employees, who look like the girls from t.A.T.u., only they weren't cooked up in a post-Soviet lesbi-teen lab in Siberia. Sexiest Waiter? Someone out there wrote, "I'd like to lick Alfredo sauce off his ass-crack." Like 'em smart? Check out Sexiest Physics Majors. Sexiest Retail Clerk? Babe check, aisle nine!
You get the idea. Go check 'em all out for yourself. Flights to Seattle can be booked through your travel agent or online.
Bad Ideas are $3 Mil a Dozen
From The Onion A.V. Club interview with Joe Eszterhas by Nathan Rabin:
Joe Eszterhas: Male Pattern Baldness was about a guy who lives in the Midwest and works in a steel plant, who finds himself in a battle with all the precepts of political correctness. He's just an ordinary guy who goes up against all the sort of politically inspired and enforced social rules that we've looked at in the past 20 years. Everything goes to hell for him. He loses his wife as a result. He loses his son, and he has to take anger-management classes. Ultimately, he can't take it. The tone of the piece until now is comedic, it's dark, and it has a really striking comedic tone, to the point where Betty Thomas, who directs comedies, after reading it decided that she was going to make it. Suddenly, near the end of this piece, the comedic tone startlingly ends and he goes on a rampage and kills four or five of his workers and kills himself. The movie ends with an epilogue of irony. Betty's take and the studio's take when I sold the script was that it was very hard-hitting, and was certainly going to be very controversial. It proved to be so controversial, finally, in the studio's view, and also Betty'sshe felt that it was an assault on political correctnessthat they opted not to do the picture, and it's still up on the shelf. I do think that it would have startled some people, and I think it would have made us take a hard look at the effects of political correctness.
February 12, 2004
Google News ♥s Troop Morale
So, you're hankering for more news articles about President Bush, and you enter some Google News search terms that you suppose will bring up likely hits. You know, all the current and past administration/media buzzwords such as "National Guard" and "terrorism" and "Al-Qaeda" and "Washington"...
Only, you get the following instead. Damned imperfect technology.
U.S. soldier arrested in Washington state for allegedly aiding al-Qaida
Next time, I guess "Iraq" or "economy" or "Wasn't James Yee acquitted after his career was ruined?" will narrow the field a bit more.
Amber Alert on CNBC tonight
Sexual predator Scott Ritter is appearing tonight on Dennis Miller at 9PM EST on CNBC, raising the stakes on the trend Miller started by playing host to alleged serial groper-cum-"People's Governor", Arnold Schwarzenegger on his first show.
Why, just last week Miller was ranting about Carlie Bruscia's alleged killer, Joseph Smith, and saying he was a pathetic mistake of a human being. What does that make Ritter? A victim of an overzealous legal system? Just another guy who wandered into the wrong chatroom and offered candy to the wrong baby?
This is the first funny thing Dennis has done on that dead-air show.
Next week on Dennis Miller: Claus von Bülow on prescription drug reform.
The low culture interview: Stanley Bostitch Model B440 stapler
Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except EMI And My Monkey
"A representative for EMI Records served the cease-and-desist orders to Danger Mouse and stores such as Fat Beats and hiphopsite.com. EMI Records controls the sound recordings for the Beatles on behalf of Capitol Records Inc. The publishing side of the Beatles' catalog is owned by Sony Music/ ATV Publishing, a venture between Sony Music and Michael Jackson.
(Earlier thoughts on The Grey Album...)
We got ideas
From Ad Age, Feb. 10, 2004:
OLD NAVY OPENS REVIEW FOR $130 MILLION ACCOUNT
"NEW YORK (AdAge.com) Gap Inc.'s Old Navy unit has opened a search for its first-ever advertising agency to handle creative duties..."
Here are some whiteboard ideas you can have for free. The good stuff's gonna cost you at least $100 million:
° Made For Kids, By Kids!
Oh, so it'll be unfunny, unread, and contain at least one reference to The Beastie Boys
From today's Page Six:
Pseudo Imaginary Trend of the week: Fictional Characters Named after Fiction Writers
With tomorrow's release of Fifty First Dates, the Pseudo Imaginary Trend of fictional characters named after fiction writers finally comes into its own.
Since we here at low culture consider ourselves pseudo imaginary experts on the Pseudo Imaginary Trends (up your nose with a rubber hose, Entertainment Weeklyor Entertainment Weakly as we like to call it when we're feeling nasty!), we took it upon ourselves to point out the obligatory three recent(-ish) instances that form any Pseudo Imaginary Trend. Even one this pseudo and imaginary.
It's tenuously hilarious! Except that it's not.
February 11, 2004
Finally, a happy ending for David Gest
NICE, France (AP) Dressed in a demure black suit, a 35-year-old Frenchwoman has married her dead boyfriend, an exchange of vows that required authorization from President Jacques Chirac.
Under French law, Christelle Demichel became both bride and widow in the ceremony, which was performed Tuesday at Nice City Hall on the French Riviera.
[via the idiosyncratic mind of Sarah Weinman]
So...we're in agreement, then
Editorial, San Diego Union-Tribune, February 11, 2004:
Meanwhile, the White House released pay records this week which also document the dates on which Bush was paid for National Guard duty. They provide further evidence that Bush did not shirk his obligations to the Guard between May 1972 and May 1973.
Editorial, The Daily Iowan, February 11, 2004:
Amid accusations of being AWOL in the National Guard and lying to the American public about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Bush remained as confusing and contradictory as always during the "Meet the Press" segment Sunday on NBC.
The 'S' in Harvard stands for 'Sex'
From The Harvard Crimson, Feb. 11, 2004:
After flipping through the pages of Squirm, a Vassar College erotica magazine, the Committee on College Life (CCL) voted to approve a student-run magazine that will feature nude pictures of Harvard undergraduates and articles about sexual issues at its meeting yesterday.
The Post's Widening Editorial Reach
Um, when something isn't quite subliminal, what do you call it? Liminal? Really, really obvious? Gross?
February 10, 2004
It's Over, It's Over, It's Over
It's over, it's over, it's over, I won't look back,
Related: "Moonlight in Vermont"; "That's All"; "The Impossible Dream"; "Walk Away"; "Lonely Town"; "No One Cares"; "Here's to the Losers"; "Say It Isn't So"; "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning"; "The Hurt Doesn't Go Away"; "Goodbye, Lover, Goodbye"; "We'll Meet Again".
Super Dave's Latest Stunt
I distinctly remember his show from when I was a kid. At the time, I think I actually believed he was a real stuntman who just messed up a lot. You can buy a Super Dave video here.
Einstein's also the brother of Albert Brooks. Yes, the poor guy was born Albert Einstein. Parents and their high expectations: Sheesh!
Checkout "Dropout", Pre-Sellout
When not busy geeking out to Pitchfork's coverage of all things indietronic, we're likely debating whether it was Hood or the Notwist who first inspired Radiohead's post-rock reinvention in 1999. Or maybe it's something along the lines of whether or not Basic Channel's music deserves a genre classification of its own, or the merits of declaring Philip Jeck as the ultimate electro-acoustic composer, or pronouncing L.A.'s Stones Throw to be the most underrated hip-hop label in operation today.
In other words, it's unlikely that we'd ever get behind a major-label record of any stripe. But here's some major-label-styled hype for you: it's only the second week of February, and already the leading contender for 2004's album of the year has been released. Available today on the racks of all sorts of record stores across the country, in outlets as diverse as Kim's and Amoeba to FYE and Sam Goody (and likely to sell just as well in each type of these aforementioned shops), Kanye West's College Dropout has been released on Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella imprint, home to such musical all-stars as Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek, and, ummm, Samantha Ronson.
This would be considered "staying in the family", since the 26-year-old West is heretofore best known as the producer of some of Jay-Z's biggest hits off of 2001's The Blueprint. Relatively invisible up to this point, he's also spent the past two years becoming one of pop music's most likely hit-makers, engineering the hooks and beats for a remix of Britney Spears' collaboration with Madonna, Ludacris' "Stand Up" and Alicia Keys' "You Don't Know My Name", as well as the definitive summer anthem for 2003, Talib Kweli's "Get By", which I most recently heard played out at a New Year's Eve party thrown by members of Silverlake's indie-guitar-and-electronics scenesters.
That means crossover appeal.Continue reading...
Neil Strauss: Renaissance Man
What's next? I'm betting co-songwriter with The Matrix
* Not online despite aggressive Googling: Back-up 'funky robot' dancer for Beck (SPIN, circa 1996)... Jewel bedside interlocutor (Rolling Stone, circa 1998)...
Political Child's Pay
"It did not take Kaelynn Adams-Haack long to decide she wanted to support the re-election campaign of Representative Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of Wisconsin. The two met at a dinner party, talked for part of the evening and by the time Kaelynn left she had decided that she wanted to give the congresswoman a $1,000 contribution.
Oh, you're such a martyr, Jim
February 9, 2004
Catch Me If You Care
Catch That Kid snuck into theaters Friday with the stealth of an assassin. Usually, when a studio (in this case, 20th Century Fox) has a big budget action film, the add campaigns have all the subtlety of a SWAT team kicking in your door with guns drawn and screaming "Into the multiplex NOW, motherfucker!" I haven't seen a single commercial for Catch and I've read maybe one review. Perhaps the reason FOX is playing it so cool is that Catch That Kid already came out in 2002 and was a huge success.
Then again, that was in Denmark.
Catch That Kid is a remake of Klatretøsen (AKA, Catch That Girl), which won a handful of awards and delighted kids all over Europe with its Spy Kids-like tale of a tween bank heist. (Kids these days! First they're nicking comic books, then knocking off whole banks!)
Some studio could've simply dubbed Klatretøsen and released it in America. It might've been a minor hit in theaters and had a decent run on DVD, but that would've been too cheap an undertaking and would've cut too many middle men and women out the process. We're living in the startlingly barren Roy Lee era, where all it takes to be a "producer" is the reflexes to buy the American remake rights of successful foreign films and put together a deal with studios so bereft of talent and creativity, video games are considered primary texts to be treated with respect and care. (Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is probably the nadir of this phenonenon, but definitely not the end. As long as there are Joseph Kahns and Brett Ratners, there will be films not worth seeing anytime soon.)
Of course, there have always been remakes of foreign films, but it was the exception, not the norm: Akira Kurosawa's Samurai film Shichinin no samurai (AKA, The Magnificent Seven) was remade as a Western starring the Mount Rushmore of machismo, Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, and Charles Bronson six years later. But Catch is different, if only for the speed of the remake.
It took about eighteen months from the release of Klatretøsen to bring Americans Catch That Kid: that's about how long it takes a big company like FOX to develop and shoot a movie. Catch is directed by Bart Freundlich, the not quite respected indie director and husband of Julianne Moore. Since it's first big budget, Hollywood film, he dragged James LeGros (who appeared in his first two movies, The Myth of Fingerprints and The World Traveler) as a security blanket.
That "kid" in the title is Kristen Stewart, whom you may have seen as Jodie Foster's diabetic daughter in Panic Room. Stewart, at 14, is either too androgynous or not yet touched by the glamorizing brush of a stylist to arouse the, um, interests of the Web's various Humbert Humbert manqus, which is why I find it strange that the poster attempts to make her look like Jennifer Garner's Mini-Me. The key to Stewart's appeal in Panic Room and Cold Creek Manor was her diffident tomboy-ishness, especially in comparison to her grotesquely-fetishized under-18 peers in Hollywood. Stewart's like a young Jodie Foster, before that actress took a turn with Taxi Driver. It'll be interesting to see how her career develops in the next few years.
Catch That Kid ranked number 6 at the box office this week, which doesn't bode well for other Scandinavian films sure to be remade for the American market. Will the American version of Lilja 4-ever starring Hilary Duff and directed by Larry Clark still fly? Time will only tell.
We're also sicksick!of powerful women in Hollywood doing favors for their 19 years older, Oscar-winning boy toys
A Director, Married to the Studio
When Variety published the news last week that the veteran director William Friedkin was attached to a new movie at Paramount Pictures, eyebrows went up in Hollywood. Not just because it is rare in the age-obsessed movie industry for a 69-year-old director to score a major studio assignment, but also because Mr. Friedkin would be making yet another movie at the studio where his wife, Sherry Lansing, is the chairwoman.
February 8, 2004
Wait, where were you, Mr. President?
From the transcript of Tim Russert's interview with President Bush on Meet the Press, Feb. 8, 2004:
"...I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind... "
"...It's important for people to understand the context in which I made a decision here in the Oval Office..."
"...They're not going to develop that because right here in the Oval Office I sat down with Mr. Pachachi and Chalabi and al Hakim, people from different parts of the country that have made the firm commitment, that they want a constitution eventually written that recognizes minority rights and freedom of religion..."
"...I have shown the American people I can sit here in the Oval Office when times are tough and be steady and make good decisions, and I look forward to articulating what I want to do the next four years if I'm fortunate enough to be their president..."
W.M.D. (Weapons of Maureen Dowd)
It's easy to criticize Maureen Dowd. She gets a lot of guff from the Right for being too liberal, and jabs from the Left for being too nasty. Pundits of all political stripes pretty much think she's superficial and too in love with her own references and puns.
Yes, her record is spotty (a Pulitzer one year, a series of columns about Barneys the next). Every time she gets up to bat, she's under a cloud: will she hit a homerun, or will mighty Maureen strike out? That's why when she knocks it out of the park, you gotta stand up and cheer.
This Sunday's column, Murder Most Fowl (Feb. 8, 2004) is a great achievement, both rhetorically, and stylistically. Dowd frequently errs too far on the side of style over substance, but writing about Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney this week, she marries (or at least civilly unionizes) the two impulses beautifully:
Now, with the White House looking untrustworthy and desperate; with the national security team flapping around and pointing fingers at each other and, of course, Bill Clinton; with even the placid Laura getting testy; and with Newsweek reporting that the Justice Department is reviewing whether Halliburton was involved in paying $180 million in kickbacks to get contracts in Nigeria at a time when Dick Cheney was chairman, anybody else would be sweating.
That "BLAM!" (and "This is our due") is repeated throughout the column, like some angry/resentful incantation by an administration under siege. This is our world, our time, our choices, they seem to be saying. We want the world and we want it NOW!, as Jim Morrison, the deepest poet I read in eighth grade used to say. Dowd may be imagining the thoughts in Cheney's head while he hunts (domesticated) pheasants, but what emerges are the increasingly desperatesad, evenrationalizations of a sitting duck who has no idea which way to run.
Dowd's no birdbrain: she knows Cheney's goose is cooked, and she's not afraid to crow about it.
February 7, 2004
Holden Caulfield, older and still bitter
"Oh, [John Kerry] sometimes pretends that he doesn't care about our special interests. He puts on that callous populist facade. But deep down he cares. Maybe he cares too much. When he's out on the stump saying otherwise, he's just being a big old phony."
Well, you can always rely on Amazon
N.B.: Not to be mistaken with Philip Roth's Letting Go, which cannot ship before Valentine's Day.
Just in time for Black History Month
While the cover may lack diversity (yes, I am aware that Salma Hayek and Lucy
Aside from some ads that feature Black models (Naomi Campbell and Tyson Beckford are still workin' it after all these years!) or deeply-tanned white ones, there's Brett Brooks, the DJ at Fred Segal (and Winona Ryder's old roommatehe works at a deparment store, she loves department stores, together, they're a sitcom!) on page 192, Jamie Foxx done-up as Ray Charles on page 220, a caricature of Rudy Ray Moore, aka, Dolemite on page 332, Janet Jackson as Lena Horne on pages 322-323 (Black performers dressed as older Black performers= hot!), and Janet's beloved and besieged brother, Michael (save your jokes: Michael Jackson is Black), is featured in several photos (one even show's him wearing a trucker hat that appears to say "Black Man") accompanying Maureen Orth's examination of his child molestation charges beginning on page 384.
But by far, the part of the magazine that reflects the greatest diversity is Graydon Carter's editor's letter in which he lists the names of every U.S. armed forces member to die in Iraq. Of the 502 people listed, I'm betting a large percentage were African American.
Well, that's one way to slip some Black folks into the "mix."
February 6, 2004
Whistlestop in the Village of the Damned
February 5, 2004
When animals attackDennis Miller!
Rummy Walks Like An... Well, you Know
Foreign types with the hookah pipes say
Slouching towards Hollywood Babylon
The publicist for Hollywood Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylonthe Case Against Celebrity deserves a raise for landing his or her clients, authors (and "veteran journalists" pace The Post) Mark Ebner and Andrew Breitbart in Page Six and Rush & Molloy today.
But perhaps pitching this book as a no-holds-barred slaughter of Hollywood sacred cows is a tad hyperbolic. Judging from the names bold-faced by the Page Six crew, the targets read more like slow-moving fish in a very small barrel: Robert Evans? Dude was a punchline before he was even a joke. Courtney Love? Any moron can squeeze a laugh out of her. Michael Ovitz? The guys who sell star maps on the side of the road have more juice in Hollywood than him nowadays. Heidi Fleiss? C'mon, fellas, try a little harder. It almost makes you respect the courage and conviction of Joe Eszterhas.
What I'm really looking forward to is the brave, bold chapter that eviscerates Michael Cimino: boy, is he too big for his britches, or what? And Joan Crawford: I hear she's like, a total bitch-on-wheels.
Kenneth Anger, watch your back!
We, too, regret having seen "Journeys with George"
"I wish I could take my children out into the rain, shrink them back to babies and start over. I loved being a mother."
The Tanner Wars
I've read a bunch of reviews of Tanner '88 from Emily Nussbaum in The New York Times to Joy Press in The Village Voice, and "Dana Stevens" in Slate, but none of them pointed out the most interesting thing I saw in the first episode: the name Sidney Blumenthal in the credits as "political consultant."
Sid is the journalist-turned-Clinton Warrior-turned-pundit loved and hated in equal degree among Washington journalists and power brokers. Actually, who am I kidding? Sid is mostly hated.
He's clashed with Matt Drudge (admittedly not a hard thing to do: I'm sure even Matt's dry cleaner hates him, probably for all the egg yolk stains), he's fallen out big time with old pal Christopher Hitchens over whether or not he floated out the "Monica Lewinsky as stalker" story over lunch, and has in many ways lived up to the nasty nickname given to him by the Right: "Sid Vicious."
What Sid is, more than anything, is a Democratic berserker, especially in his current writing for Salon and The Guardian. (Should Sid succeed in helming a U.S. edition of The Guardian, we can expect some very muscular prose in defense of the Dems: Expect asses kicked and names taken weekly.)
That's why it's not entirely surprising to see Sid pop up as part of Jack Tanner's dream team in '88. Tanner (played by Michael Murphy) is the ultimate baby boomer wish-fulfillment candidate: handsome, modest, able to speak with equal passion about public service and his favorite Beatle (John, of course). He was a Democrat who would feel perfectly at home discussing policy in The New Republic and the impact of Woodstock in Rolling Stone. In other words: He's Bill Clinton.
I can't imagine how excited Sid must've been when Clinton emerged just a few years after Jack Tanner's "Presidential run" ended, but he must have felt that exhilarating, confusing mix of emotions we sometimestoo rarely!feel when our dreams come true. All of Jack Tanner's speechifying, very human foibles, and striving for integrity were suddenly, thrillingly manifest in that smart, sincere, ever so slightly louche sax-playing Southern good ol' boy from a town called "Hope" (well, Hot Springs, actually).
Tom Grunnick: What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?
February 4, 2004
I've never been a big Adam Sandler fan, but I loved his dog, Meatball.
The photos and videos of Adam and Meat on Adamsandler.com used to be one of my favorite internet time wasters. They're a genuinely touching glimpse inside the human/companion animal relationship. The videos show Meatball as Adam's constant companion: a gently rapacious, deadpan presence on Sandler's film sets (he appeared on screen in Anger Management and Little Nicky), in his house, and even, in one clip, on an airplane. Meat loved food. Meat loved basketball. Meat loved kittens. Meat loved sleeping. Meat loved Adam most of all.
How can you not love Meatball's regal, ugly mug and his snorting, mucous-y breathing and lumbering gait? Meatball is such a beautiful, goofy, honorable mutt.
Meatball died the other day, and I'm sure Adam and his wife and friends are grieving deeply. The human-dog thing is some profound shit (just ask Harvard professor and dog lover Marge Garber) and, as a dog owner myself, I can't yet begin to imagine what it would be like to bury one. Even when I can't stand my dogwhich is oftenI still know that her need for me is total, and my reliance on her is deeper than I can articulate.
If you have some free time on your hands a good enough internet connection, I recommend you look at some of the great Meatball videos on the site. Some are completely ridiculous. Others are more serious. One was even directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and co-stars Luis Guzman. (Guzman staring-down Meatball with his goofily intense eyes and Meatball returning the stare is a small comic gem.) Meatball was born to be a star, not least of all because he attempts to literally chew the scenery in almost every clip.
Watch a few and I'm sure you'll become a Meat lover, too.
How to steal someone else's husband after 35 using what I learned editing the Harvard Business Review
Welch Makes Another Major Book Deal by Hugo Lindgren
Armed with a proposal that ran just two and a half pages, John F. Welch Jr., the former chairman of General Electric, sold the world rights yesterday for a how-to business manual to HarperCollins, a unit of the News Corporation, for an estimated $4 million.
Doesn't this book already exists? Wasn't it called Find a Husband After 35 Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School. And it was written by Rachel Greenwald?
They also cut the full-frontal blow job from Chlo' Sevigny
Gibson to Delete a Scene in 'Passion' by Sharon Waxman
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 3 Mel Gibson, responding to focus groups as much as to protests by Jewish critics, has decided to delete a controversial scene about Jews from his film, "The Passion of the Christ," a close associate said today.
Kerry a tune
With John Kerry emerging from as the Democratic frontrunner, it's time to turn our attention to an important aspect of his campaign. Since we live in a country where a washed-up pop star's almost entirely obscured nipple being exposed by a soon-to-be washed-up pop star dominates the news cycle more than, say, the death of 20 year-old 3rd Squadron soldier on the same day in Haditha, Iraq (that's 527 Americans, if you're still keeping count), perhaps this is the most important aspect of the campaign.
John Kerry's campaign song.
The Clinton/Gore boomer-juggernaut did very well with Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop", using the ambiguously inspirational lyrics "Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow/ Don't stop, it'll soon be here,/ It'll be, better than before/ Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone" to good effect.
On the flipside, Al Gore went bust in 2000 with Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al", which makes some sense since that song's grumpy, middle aged tone is off-putting in the extreme. Who'd vote for someone who sings (metaphorically speaking):
Neither did the voters, apparently.
Ross Perot failed when he ironically appropriated Patsy Cline's "Crazy", which just goes to prove that a good song is a candidate's key to victory. Here are some suggestions with notes and clarifications.Continue reading...
Art Directors of the World: Chris Rock is Not a Clown
Please stop depicting him as such. Thank you.
February 3, 2004
Before California Dies, It sees...
Beeb Sky Beeb
Click here to view this wholly entertaining editorial snippet from a recent FOX News broadcast, featuring news host John Gibson waxing rhapsodic on last week's resignation by the BBC's director general Greg Dyke in the wake of Lord Hutton's report on editorial misconduct in the network's coverage of aspects of the British buildup to Iraq and, specifically, the network's usage of the now infamous "sexed up" terminology.
While editorials certainly occur with some restrained degree of frequency on a number of local news outlets across the country, and usually only in events of great compelling interest, can anyone recall having seen such an editorial stance having been adopted by news hosts on other national cable news networks, e.g. CNN and NWI? The one minute of airtime devoted to the BBC matter comes off as especially ironic, given the fact that the Hutton inquiry was largely a distinctly non-American issue; it's almost as though Gibson is gloating when he says above, "...remember it was the Beeb caught lying."
The operative word, of course, being "caught."
One thing's for sure; ITV and BSkyB would never have behaved in such a crass fashion.
(Previousand very relevantreflections on FOX News.)
One Dimension, at most
"[Dimension] broke the glass ceiling. Instead of looking up at it and wondering, What goes on up there? they found out. [The Weinstein brothers] love money. It was, Oh my god, isn't this wonderful. And it came in so fast it was mind-altering." Jack Foley, former VP of Distribution, Miramax as quoted by Peter Biskind in Down and Dirty Pictures, page 173)
They apparently also found the rock-bottom, and went right through it:
Title: Girls Gone Wild
"What Me, Junkie?"
Related: Check out how much MAD has changed (under editor John Ficarra) since you were ten. The 'usual gang of idiots' are carrying switchblades:
I think they sell hoagies
From Roger Friedman's FOX 411 column, Feb. 3, 2004:
Of all the Super Bowl ads on Sunday, my favorite was the one for Monster.com. Kudos to the creators of it who used a little known piece of music from the early '80s called I Dig You by a group called Cult Hero. Until I heard it on Sunday I thought I was the only person in the world who knew this record ever existed. I dont know what Monster.com is, but it must be smart
Sidebar: Can any superfans confirm this Cult Hero/The Cure thing?
February 2, 2004
Justin and Janet and Mick and Tina
This is for all you kids who are excited about the fact that Justin Timberlake "accidentally" tore off Janet Jackson's costume during the half-time show at the Superbowl. I want to tell you it's already been done way the fuck back in 1985 by Mick Jagger and Tina Turner at Live Aid. Oh, and they pretended it was an accident, too.
But they did for all those starving kids in Africa, not for Viacom.
Zakk Moore: "surfer-Dell guy-meetsDude, Where's My Car?guy"
I could live a long and happy life If I never read another Vanity Fair cover story on Gwyneth Paltrow again, but it would be a depressing life if I could never read another article like Dave Gardetta's Desperately Seeking Spicoli in the new Los Angeles Magazine.
The story of aspiring actor Zakk Moore's journey from John Deere country (Quad Cities, Illinois) to minor "surfer dude" character actor in the town known for its love of John Deere trucker hats (Hollywood), Zakk's saga is the same one we've heard a million times before.Continue reading...
Sympathy Letter: Owen Wilson
"Owen Wilson's comic crime caper 'The Big Bounce' bombed with $3.3 million, finishing at No. 12 and averaging just $1,439 in 2,304 cinemas." You Got Served wins box office
I guess he really is the minus man.
Grey on Grey
Enough, now. Whether you're a writer for Rolling Stone, or a producer at MTV.com, or some ad-agency employee in Detroit, or, ultimately, Ben Greenman writing for the New Yorker, you really have to calm down a bit regarding your anticipatory coverage of one particular underground hip-hop release.
I've been patiently biting my tongue for the past month, now, after having received a copy of Danger Mouse's supposed magnum opus (the oft-celebrated, though not-yet-released, Grey Album, his mashup of the Beatles' White Album with Jay-Z's 2003 Black Album) over the December holidays, but, finally, it was Greenman's most recent "Talk of the Town" piece that pushed me to write this. If, after all the incendiary hype documented above, you've been eagerly awaiting the album's unofficial bootleg release sometime in the coming weeks, trust me, don't.
While a significant portion of Greenman's material seems to have been culled from the same press release as was featured in this week's Rolling Stone, the New Yorker piece nonetheless does a reasonable job of detailing the record's handful of tracks that do, in fact, have any listenable value. Notably, this includes Jay-Z's "99 Problems" laid over the Beatles' "Helter Skelter," as well as Danger Mouse's reconstruction of the Beatles' Mother Natures Son. Also appearing on the album, however, are a number of strong reworkings, including the album's opener, featuring a mlange of Jay-Z's vocals and the Beatles' delicate psychedelia. There's also a blend of the backing track from "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" dubbed under Jay-Z's lyrics, as well as a tasteful reworking of "Encore," one of the better tracks off of the Black Album. Except all this hype misses the bigger picture, that is to say, well, Jay-Z sucks.
Do yourself a favor: temper your expectations a bit, download the Grey Album from your favorite RIAA-antagonistic file-sharing service, listen to it a few times, enjoy it, even, and then go out and purchase Danger Mouse's much better 2003 full length album, DM & Jemini - Ghetto Pop Life, out on the UK-based Lex Records imprint. While a number of British publications called Ghetto Pop Life last year's best hip-hop record, they might very well be right (despite the British musical press' contentions that the Strokes are, in fact, good). Featuring sharp, crystalline production (as opposed to the tinny, vinyl-sourced White Album material), ample hooks, and lyrics that manage to be sharp, clever and yet fun all at once, the album hearkens back to early-90s era Tribe Called Quest or De La Soul material. Better yet, you can preview full-length tracks at Bleep.com.
You want retro-oriented hip-hop? It's 1993 all over again.
But they'll play obscure cable access shows like Late Show with David Letterman and Last Call with Carson Daly
From Matador Records' Interpol Web site:
From BBC News, Jan. 9, 2004:
"The Darkness' jump comes as they begin to promote the album in the US, with an appearance on David Letterman's chat show on CBS lined up for Friday."
February 1, 2004
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