Dorf on Stage

Nobel Prize winning Italian playwright Dario Fo as Silvio Berlusconi in The Two-Headed Anomaly.
Tim Conway is Dorf on Golf.

Grave Satirical

The Search is On!

31prob184.jpgBrooklyn boy done good, Patrick J. Fitzgerald has been named special counsel, heading up the investigation into who leaked the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame to the press.
Fitgerald was actually Attorney General John Ashcroft’s second choice after former All-American (and Heisman trophy winner) O.J. Simpson. Simpson declined the role to continue the search for his wife’s real killer.
Simpson and Fitzgerald are both scheduled to complete their inquiries two months from never.

Shallow Versus


I’ve decided that my blog-related New Year’s resolution for 2004 is to pander a lot. You wanna see it? I’ll do my best to write about it.
So, I’m getting a jump start by appeasing the person—or persons—who continually (think: weekly) types Rich Girls “star” Jaime Gleicher‘s name through our search field. We’ve never written about Rich Girls, so that search always came up blank. Well, anonymous Jaime fan, Happy New Year!
Rich Girls ended its first season last night on MTV. Much critical ink has been spilled about the show, but to my knowledge, no one has yet to compare it to Silver Spoons, the NBC sitcom that ran from 1982 to 1986. In addition to showcasing the comedic talents of Ricky Shroder, the dance skills of Alfonso Ribiero, and the unclassifiable brilliance of one Corky Pigeon, Spoons also gave its viewers TV’s most realistic glimpse into the lives of the young and impossibly wealthy. Make that TV’s formerly most realistic glimpse.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Rich Girls and Silver Spoons: any similarities to actual rich persons or events is purely coincidental.


A Foolish Consistency is the Hobgoblin of Little Magazines

“Men are bad at [threesomes] because they’re too macho to deal.”— Vice Magazine, vol. 10, no. 11, page 84.
“You know what I’d like the Nature Channel to do a special on? The extinction of machismo. It seems like my whole fucking generation is a bunch of faggots and it bums me out. And I’m not even talking about the ‘Chuck and Buck, suck and fuck,’ take-it-in-the-ass type of faggot. Through therapy and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy I’ve learned to tolerate those dudes. My problem is the fashion-victim art fags in the clever hats and too-tight T-shirts and corduroys that think because they dress like a pansy and paint or take out-of-focus photographs they are beyond getting their teeth knocked down their throat.”— ibid., page 95.

Grave Satirical

Lists, 2003: The Year in Left-wing Conspiracy Theories

laweekly-listissue-cover.jpgIn last week’s year-end “lists” issue of the LA Weekly, Joshuah Bearman put forth a wonderful compendium of “Real Names of Classified Concepts in the Military Planning Document ‘Air Force 2025’‘. The list is disturbing, to say the least, in that it’s really, really hard to pinpoint whether or not this list is satirical in scope or merely an illustration of some of the foolish ways in which our tax dollars are spent.
For instance, is the catalog number for military research into these destructive projects really limited to a six-digit range? One would have thought that former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney alone could have brought at least 100,000 ideas to the table when his administration took office. Anyway, here’s Bearman’s list, included below in its entirety:

No. 900481: Destructo Swarmbots
No. 200015: Distortion Field Projector
No. 200023: Surveillance Swarm
No. 900258: Oxygen Sucker
No. 900299: Hunter-Killer Attack Platform
No. 900336: Cloaking
No. 900364: Bionic Eye
No. 900522: Space-Based A.I.-Driven Intelligence Master Mind System
No. 900288: Swarms of Micro-Machines
And INCAPACATTACK: The Strings of the Puppet Master

We here at low culture think the editors of AlterNet, that wacky left-wing “news and opinion” site, have missed a golden opportunity here to follow up on Bearman’s piece above and spew forth some wild, ill-researched conspiracy theories on this past weekend’s devastating Iranian earthquake.
Included forthwith, “Classified, but Extant, Weapons for Eliminating Axis-of-Evil Nations”:
1. No-fault WMD Insurance
2. The Flatline
3. Detonatron 2000
4. Andre 3000 (“shake it like a Polaroid picture”)


The Good L Word

I’ll be the first one to admit that we here at low culture often take potshots at marketing, PR, and advertising executives. I mean, it’s so easy when they throw so much shit at us hoping something—anything—will stick.
Well, for once, I wanna compliment one of these unsung wordsmiths for a job well done. I just saw a poster for premium cable also-ran Showtime‘s newest series, The L Word and found it surprisingly, pleasingly clever. “Same Sex. Different City,” the ad says, above the sort of airbrushed promotional photo we’ve come to expect from ads for everything from TV programs to perfumes to clothing lines. I was impressed by how deft the copy was, how effortlessly it compressed so many ideas. I genuinely thought it was well done.
I can’t say anything about the show itself, which stars the once phenomenally hot Pam Grier who’s gone on to become something of a hip directors’ shorthand for “badass older chick.” It also features Mia Kirshner, who was decent in Atom Egoyan‘s Exotica, but seems to have been overlooked in favor her more talented A-list doppelganger, Jennifer Connelly. Anyway, I don’t get Showtime, so I’ll have to take your word for whether or not this show is even watchable.
I actually had the channel for a short time when Time Warner Cable was making amends for leaving me in the dark for over a week and I didn’t see much worth my money. I did, however, manage to watch the entire first season of Out of Order back-to-back in a fit of Huffmania. (To belabor the puns, I found it rather Stolzifying.) I wasn’t too impressed with the series’ tone of self-seriousness cut with self-awareness: it was just too knowing for me to care about, too melodramatic for me to laugh with. Also, I found the way Donna and Wayne Powers bit the hand that fed them by mocking F. Gary Gray and his hacky Italian Job annoying: if you guys were too good to (re-)write such a shitty script, you should’ve skipped the assignment—if you sold out big time to do it, just keep it to yourselves. (According to this week’s Times, Out of Order was not renewed.)
The L Word premieres January 18th. Reviews TK…


3,000 Americans did not die this weekend

I’ve been in Los Angeles, away from any form of regular internet access, for a little more than a week now, but, I swear…didn’t I hear something about roughly 25,000 Iranian people dying this weekend? I mean, I couldn’t have imagined that, right?
Based on an assessment of the major dailies’ headlines and a perusal of the cable news networks’ coverage, reporting on this natural disaster seems to have nearly dried up. With only a handful of exceptions, there’s been no indefatigable documentation of scores of volunteers sifting through the rubble, trying to locate loved ones and instead turning up dead bodies. Does anyone know the Farsi word for “telegenic”?
Earlier this weekend, however (when not watching the “People on CNN” coverage of Nicole Kidman’s resilience in the face of divorce), I may have seen a snippet or two regarding “thousands dead in Iranian quake” and then some closing commentary about President Bush’s willingness to send humanitarian aid-despite that nation’s being on “the axis of evil,” as the commentators consistently reminded viewers when fleetingly discussing the massive amounts of deaths.
I guess I missed the correlation there. It couldn’t possibly be as base and simplistic a matter as “we Americans are helping those whom we have unilaterally declared to be our enemies,” right? And it most certainly couldn’t have been some second-tier implication of “they deserved it”?
We all ought to be thankful that this was an act of God and not the work of evil-doers, and that Iran isn’t under the sway of any sort of Christian sense of vengeance, lest we should see Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the democratically elected, though effectively useless, President Mohammad Khatami declare an endless “War on Seismology“.
Look out, faultlines.


‘Lows’ blows

If I could imagine the banter around The New York Times Culture Desk water-cooler, it would probably sound a lot like the little year-end roundup conversations included in this weekend’s ‘Arts & Leisure’ The Highs (and Lows) of 2003 package.
Great, relaxed, off-the-cuff discussion on “The Lows” from Elvis Mitchell, A.O. Scott, and Stephen Holden on the film front. I much prefer this sort of approach to the obligatory year-end wrap-up to the more drawn out, rather blog-ish approach of The Village Voice‘s Take 5 critics’ poll or the ho-hum “best of” list found in nearly every magazine you can imagine. Here, for example, is a glimpse into the private life of a full-time film critic and father from Scott:

[I]t’s a terrible thing, I think, to have a film critic for a dad. My son—like some of our readers—didn’t trust me when I told him Cat in the Hat was no good. I was with another critic, who tried to explain to his daughter why it was a bad movie. She just burst into tears, as if he’d taken away one of her toys.

I also appreciated the fact that they all respected the Zooey Deschanel restraining order.
As much as I enjoyed “The Lows,” I have one complaint: stop the Larry Doyle bashing.


Finally, a state emergency befitting a former action star

via Reuters: California Town Digs Out After Powerful Quake
“Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency on Tuesday for the central California county hardest hit by the state’s strongest earthquake in four years, freeing up disaster aid for education healthcare reconstruction.”
(Some liberties may have been taken with Reuters’ original wording above.)


The Notorious S.N.L., Ready to D.I.Y.

My good friends, Derek and Lauren, just gave me an amazing video for the non-denominational gift giving season (okay, Chanukah.) The tape—which was quaintly duped onto a commercially-available VHS tape and packaged in the original TDK E-HG cardboard box—came directly from its producer, director, and star, Sidney N. Laverents.
Never heard of him? Me neither. But I wish I had sooner, since his homemade shorts are incredible. This multitalented filmmaker makes jacks-of-all-trades (and credit hogs) like Robert Rodriguez and Steven Soderbergh seem like lazy bums. According to the Egg segment on him, Sid lives in San Diego and is 94 years old. He’s been conceiving, shooting, and editing his unique independent films for decades. (A fuller bio can be found here.)