Saturday, December 03, 2005
And here I find myself, at the age of 29, dreaming about having babies and taking care of children. Everyone I talk to agrees that the reason for this is that my girlfriend and I adopted a rabbit two months ago, and I suppose it is. And yet, for some reason, I can't get the notion of fatherhood out of my mind.
But the rabbit is also an indicator of how bad I would be at taking care of a child on a day-in day-out basis. This rabbit, Thumper, is a year and a half old, and his previous owners didn't exactly lavish care upon him (when we adopted him he still had stains on his fur from sitting in his own urine). He's still aloof and shy; it's only been recently that, when he's out of his cage, he lays on the floor instead of hiding behind the floor-length blinds. He doesn't like us to pet him very much, and he'll bite you before he lets you pick him up. And some days, it just frustrates me how much he just seems to refuse to let me touch him, and my first reaction is to just get mad and stop taking care of him. I don't yell at him or anything lame like that; I just start to ignore him and I get a little upset.
Why does this bother me so much? Is it because I'm afraid that at he's never going to get used to me? Sometimes I manage to convince myself that he just doesn't like me and doesn't want me to touch him. Maybe I just suck with pets; deep down, I'm afraid to have them, because all of my pets died or were taken away from me. And this is just a rabbit! Can you imagine if it was a baby? I guess I just don't have the patience for that.
Besides, the only thing I've ever concretely said about having children is that if I had a daughter I would let her invite as many girlfriends as she wanted for sleepovers as often as she wanted, and that I would spank her until she was twenty years old. So, I'm not exactly father material, yeah?
Friday, December 02, 2005
15 random thoughts, questions, and observations for the week.
1. I know Tom Cruise likes to think he’s a doctor, but apparently the real doctors–-like the American Psychiatry Association and the American College of Radiology–-are quite angry with him for buying that ultrasound machine for Katie Holmes. See, not only is he just being a vain asshole, but he’s also potentially harming the baby, because he’s not (and he really needs to get this through his head) a trained medical doctor! Not only are there a ton of health problems he could potentially miss, but performing an overabundance of ultrasounds could be a health risk to the baby. I’m sure there’s some explanation for how childbirth and radiology are lies of medical science and only scientologists should be allowed to perform births or some such shit in L. Ron Hubbard’s idiot sci-fi novel Dianetics, but even the Food and Drug Administration had to chime in, saying that they might be considering this an unlicensed use of medical equipment and if Tom uses it, he might be in violation of state law. No one ever accused Tom Cruise of being a genius, but even for him it’s pretty fucking stupid. By the way, he and Katie aren’t going to marry until just before Halloween of next year (very appropriate). Man, he’s not even going to make an honest woman of the girl carrying his bastard. (Yes, baby born out of wedlock = bastard. Sorry, kid.)
2. Lots of people are having a grand old time pointing out that C.S. Lewis was opposed to a movie version of The Chronicles of Narnia. Big deal, Tolkien was opposed to a movie version of The Lord of the Rings, too. The key is, they’re both dead; and even if you don’t like the movies, the book remains, so it shouldn’t really matter. Besides, the new movie can’t possibly be as bad as the BBC versions. And Lewis thought an animated version would be great, but the Bill Melendez version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe proves that to be a wrong conclusion.
3. Can we please stop with this jazz music and standards shit? Fine, I’m glad Diana Krall found a niche of being incredibly boring for 100 year-old patrons, but does that mean that everyone’s got to put out an album of quiet jazz standards now? I’m sorry, but "Daydream Believer" doesn’t sound any more "meaningful" than it already wasn’t when sung slowly and agonizing over every last syllable. And Rod Stewart, quit milking it, because those albums suck! Wouldn’t it have been great if someone had shot Rod Stewart in the back of the head in 1979? Then he would have been dead just as his music was starting to get bad. You’re nothing without Ronnie Wood, Rod!
4. Oh, those Stewarts. So, Kimberly Stewart broke off her engagement with that Laguna Beach guy. Can you say publicity stunt? And can you tell me why I know who either of those people are? While we’re on the subject: Rod Stewart, stop having children, especially if they’re all going to be as big a waste of space as Kimberly. I say if you’re going to be dead by the time they graduate high school, you’re too old to have children. It is possible to fuck a chick without getting her pregnant, okay?
5. E! has picked up The Simple Life in a move that should surprise exactly no one.
6. Remember how Kevin Smith was going to stop making movies that took place in his fictional universe and start making other movies? Well, not only is he filming the Clerks sequel, he suddenly feels he has "more to say" about Catholicism, so he’s crowing about a possible Dogma sequel, as well. Man, Jersey Girl doesn’t do well (mostly because of a terrible release strategy) and he runs back to quoting himself, doesn’t he? I’m open to them being good, but Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was basically watching a man jerk off to his own films.
7. Why is every site switching over to Java and becoming more complicated to use/uglier to look at? Stop it! And while we’re at it, can everyone please stop using banner ads that are so complicated that you can’t even see the site you’re looking at until a fucking advertisement comes up? Complicating my day is not the way to get me to buy a fucking Honda or go see fucking Aeon Flux.
8. Even Disney’s Bob Iger is arguing for a shorter window between the theatrical and DVD releases of a movie. I agree; a film should be released on DVD while there is still some immediate interest in the film. With less people going to the theater than ever, it seems essential (especially as it’s been shown that films make more money on DVD than they do in theaters). I think the theatrical experience is dying a slow death, and the exhibitors and studios are to blame. People talking, the overpriced food, the overpriced tickets, the pre-movie commercials, and the mediocre movies have completely killed the theater-going experience, so why not let it die?
9. At a recent interview, someone asked Dame Julie Andrews who would be the best person to play Maria in The Sound of Music if it were made today, and she answered Cameron Diaz. Cameron Diaz? It’s so sad to see dementia taking a toll on someone as wonderful and iconic as Julie Andrews, but that’s the assumption I’m going to make here. (P.S. Next time say Anne Hathaway, not only can she act and sing, she’s actually pretty and not a total bitch.)
10. Tia Carrere gave birth to a baby girl. Tia Carrere was pregnant? And Geri Halliwell is, too? And here I thought we were all amazed because Katie Holmes was the first girl in history to be pregnant! Oh, and Jennifer Garner had labor induced and gave birth in secret, which is a good way to avoid the paparazzi, I think.
11. Man, are you as tired as I am of having this Jesse McCartney kid thrown at you? I’m not a fourteen year old girl, so stop trying to tell me how cute and popular and talented he is. By the time he’s nineteen, no one’s going to care.
12. Blockbuster Video’s CFO said that 2005 was "a tough year that no one in the industry predicted." I, however, was not surprised, and neither was anyone who has seen this former giant collapse from a distance. I, for one, will be very happy when Blockbuster goes out of business. I love how he blames the theatrical box office for Blockbuster’s slump; he’s the only person in America claiming this year’s box office was good! Actually, it’s Netflix and their superior, easier system, as well as On Demand and Pay-Per-View. Duh.
13. Remember Wendie Jo Sperber from Bosom Buddies? I always liked her, and just the other day I was wondering whatever happened to her (and, for that matter, whatever happened to Mark McClure?), and now I find out she’s just died this week at the age of 46 (breast cancer). That’s a shame.
14. Why don’t the Chinese and Japanese who are criticizing Memoirs of a Geisha for casting Chinese actresses Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li, and Michelle Yeoh just shut the fuck up? It’s acting. You know what, Russell Crowe is not an ancient Roman, Anthony Hopkins is not as Spanish as Zorro was, and Charlton Heston isn’t a Jew. Acting is pretend. And let’s not even get into the straight guys playing gay guys thing. Zhang Ziyi doesn’t deserve to be hacked to death, as one blogger recommended. She’s only playing a role. Get over it and get some perspective.
15. Bulgaria and Ukraine are pulling 1250 troops out of Iraq in the next three weeks. Our remaining allies–-Britain, Australia, Poland, South Korea, Japan, and Italy–-are all considering reducing the number of personnel in Iraq or pulling out completely by summer. Finally, the rest of the world has no confidence in us and is abandoning us to the idiotic fate chosen for us by George W. Bush and his corporate masters. I’m too pissed off to really come up with a conclusion to this item. Hey, wouldn’t it be fun if we were invaded by another country because, you know, our leader is a loose cannon and we have weapons of mass destruction? I mean, how would that be any less wrong than what we did in Iraq? Go to a prison and tell me that America doesn’t torture and kill its own people, too.
I'm not touching the Jessica Simpson-Nick Lachey separation. I love Jessica Simpson, I really do. I have her albums, I have her show on DVD, I have her concert on DVD, I even have The Nick and Jessica Variety Hour. I am a big fan of hers. And in the last couple of years, it seems like a lot of young women I'm a fan of has let me down as a fan--I fucking despise Lindsay Lohan, and Hilary Duff has finally disillusioned me. Britney went on an idiotic rampage last year of claiming everyone had exploited her (apparently because she was too stupid to know what she was doing) before her idiotic 3-day marriage. And the more I hear...Jessica breaking up with Nick in an e-mail, the money she stands to lose in a divorce, the rumors of her and other men. I don't want to find out that Jessica's turned into a horrible bitch. I just don't. So, unlike my detailed analysis of Lindsay Lohan's descent into evil, I'm not going to be blogging every aspect of this one. I just hope beyond hope that, should Nick and Jessica turns their separation into a divorce, I'm not going to have to endure pictures of her dating disgusting sub-humans like Bam Margera in the future. I don't need to watch the media crucify them for daring to live their marriage on camera, and then failing to live up to the constant artifice of pop music and celebrity.
One thing to remember about the role of the tabloids here: US Weekly's sudden attack on the Lacheys was due to Jessica signing an exclusive deal with OK! magazine, for which she was paid fairly well. Now, Jessica has gone and talked to US again, and because of this slight, the editor of OK! has decided Jessica's fair game again and even said "the gloves are off now." Gee, so much for even pretending to be unbiased, huh? Personal politics dominate here, so you can see a real justification when people say a lot of tabloid attacks are personal revenge.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
A review of the films I've seen this past week.
STUCK IN THE SUBURBS (2004)
A Disney Channel movie starring Danielle Panabaker and cutie Brenda Song as suburban girls who find the PDA of a pop star and basically fuck with the guy's schedule. I find the notion of a tortured, soulful pop star pretty hilarious. And I'm starting to get offended by the fact that every kid you see in Disney Channel movies lives in lower-upper class splendor in the richest suburbs an obscenely wealthy country like America can produce. What, poor people don't have any problems? Lower-middle class kids don't watch Disney? Otherwise, this film is notable for two reasons. One, the budget-breaking pop soundtrack, which is huge for a Disney Channel movie and apparently did quite well (even though it's just a collection of instantly disposable, inane Jesse McCartney crap). Two, it was directed by Savage Steve Holland. Remember him? He was one of the film student success stories of the eighties, and they made a big deal about how his student films were always so savagely funny and strange. He made the so-so funny film Better Off Dead and it's incredibly bad sequel, One Crazy Summer, both of which starred John Cusack in his first leading roles. Now he's directing movies for the Disney Channel (where he's also brought a measure of personal style to episodes of Lizzie McGuire, That's So Raven, and other programs). It's just interesting to me, because Savage Steve was once primed to become Hollywood's It Boy; he might have been the first Quentin Tarantino, once. As for this movie itself, it tries, but it only rates ** stars. Brenda Song is a little cutie, though I wish she'd play something other than the Superficial Rich Girl for a change.
(Trivia note: Savage Steve Holland's films starred John Cusack, who, in the interim between the two films, starred in Disney's The Journey of Natty Gann. Alongside Cusack in the first film was Dan Schneider, future cast member of Head of the Class, and currently the creator of Nickelodeon's All That, The Amanda Show, Drake and Josh, and Zoey 101, as well as the creator of the Amanda Bynes series What I Like About You. Weird how they both got into children's programming.)
SEARCHING FOR DAVID'S HEART (2004)
Another Disney Channel movie, again starring Danielle Panabaker (a good little actress who was also in Disney's Sky High this summer) and Ricky Ullman (star of Disney Channel's Phil of the Future, a show I find hilarious). It's a lame, predictable movie about a girl making a journey across the country to find the recipient of her brother's heart after he's killed by a car. Without all of the song montages, this movie would be about 55 minutes long. Both of the actors are fine, but the material is heavy-handed and sanctimonious. Funnily enough, I remarked during the beginning of the movie that Ricky Ullman's character Sam was like Samwise "Sam" Gamgee in Lord of the Rings: annoying, troublesome, and probably gay. Then somebody in the movie called him by his full name: Sam Weiss. Well, this movie certainly isn't giving LOTR's epic journey structure a run for its money. ** stars.
"I feel like I got lucky with my wonderful breasts. I really feel like they're my best asset." -- Ashlee Simpson in the new Blender. I love how she refers to her breasts as "wonderful." They really, really are.
November sweeps are over for now, and to quote a song in Evita, the news is-a not-a so good. Turns out that not as many people are watching TV this year as the networks hoped (especially with its much-hyped new shows, which were supposed to lure people away from their Tivo's and back to the beck and call of programmers). Here's a night-by-night breakdown of exactly who won the battle of November.
Well, Prison Break is the hot new breakout show, hitting at number 43 in the ratings, very good for a new series (especially one on Fox). Everything else is getting killed on Mondays (see cancellation report below), especially on the WB, the Little Network. Related is proving to be one of the WB's biggest disappointments, but the WB is probably going to try moving it around to every other time slot before they cancel it. For whatever reason, they're banking on it to eventually do well. They like to point out that Gilmore Girls started slow, too (and after last season's stunts have calmed down, it's slowing down again), so why don't they just move Related to Tuesday nights after Gilmore Girls? They seem to have similar audiences... CBS continues to hold Mondays, with Two and a Half Men, CSI: Miami, and the exceptionally dull How I Met Your Mother (which I think gets by on its Doogie stunt-casting) winning the night. Surface got picked up for a full season on NBC (the SF-hating network), but Monday Night Football seems to be losing viewers steadily.
My Name Is Earl not only turned out to be a great show, but a successful one as well. Is Tuesday the night everyone watches TV now? Because House, Supernatural, and Law & Order: SVU are all doing really well. The big winners of the night are CBS's NCIS and ABC's Commander in Chief. Of course, all of that said, The Biggest Loser (which was renewed for yet another season), Rodney, and According to Jim are on their way down. Which proves what I've been saying for too long: STOP GIVING STAND-UP COMICS SITCOMS! Gilmore Girls is up since May, the WB reports, but I don't know what that means, because May was the end of the season, and then the ratings go down for summer. Why don't they just say that the ratings are up from last season? Is it because it would be a lie? Incidentally, I used to love that show, but it started to slide further and further into ridiculous lameness, and after Logan, it became a total mess. Now the creators are leaving the show to create a new show about people who inexcplicably speak like they're in a remake of The Thin Man, and they won't be doing Gilmore Girls next season. Should we send in the violins now, because it's all over?
Lost is actually up nearly three million viewers from last season (probably the well-timed DVD release helped, because I only saw the first season on DVD and then decided to watch the second season, and if three million other people did, that's a good marketing move). Invasion, though, loses ABC 40 percent of the Wednesday audience; I've never seen it, but it looks pretty stupid. One Tree Hill is dying a painful death on the WB, America's Next Top Model is up (but, you know, for UPN, which is like an extremely low-rated NBC show), and The Apprentice: Martha Stewart turned out to be a huge disappointment for NBC (who could have known, he asked sarcastically). Veronica Mars is also doing well, relatively speaking.
Smallville's ratings are the best in the history of the show; I think it's because they're starting to advertise it to look more like it's actually about Superman. I've never seen it, but I've never really been into it. Everybody Hates Chris, surprisingly mediocre, is one of UPN's biggest hits ever, but it still gets beaten by The OC (ratings down) and Joey. Man, 66 has to be the lowest rating in history for NBC at 8pm Friday. CSI is the number one show on television, and Without a Trace is the third. The Night Stalker got cancelled, leaving a serious Gabrielle Union void on television.
Ghost Whisperer and Jennifer Love Hewitt's breasts are actually doing better for CBS than Joan of Arcadia ever did, surprisingly. Threshold died, though, and whatever the hell Close to Home is, it's apparently doing better. Reba has the full support of the WB, though What I Like About You and Twins are in freefall. WWE Smackdown! is actually growing viewers. Numbers is doing really well, but Hope & Faith, Malcolm in the Middle, and The Bernie Mac Show are lost causes. I blame Fox's usual "Let's pre-empt everything for sports" tactics for the decline of Malcolm. The quality has been consistent throughout every season, but since it was always pushed to the side for football, it killed the audience and now it's dead. Thanks for nothing, Fox.
Yeah, right. CSI repeats do better than anything but that Fox stalwart, Cops.
Well, Desperate Housewives is still going strong. Grey's Anatomy is doing incredibly well, dropping a mere quarter of the audience. The West Wing, faced with an overhaul of daunting proportions, is not doing well, but Cold Case is doing extremely well. Despite the fact that it sucks and needs to die, The Simpsons is suddenly seeing a ratings jump.
Let's continue this below, though, for what the outcomes really mean for this season's programming.
And the post-sweeps reports keep bringing back more and more news of TV casualties.
Man, remember how much hope the media seemed to have for this season? Remember how thrilled critics and viewers were that sitcoms and serialized dramas were returning with a vengeance, after years of lamer and more embarrassing reality shows? Well, it looks like no one's watched the scripted shows, either, because there have been cancellations left and right. Just two months into the new season, here's a call sheet for some of the battlefield carnage.
New shows that have been cancelled: Hot Properties (ABC), The Night Stalker (ABC), Threshold (CBS), Head Cases (FOX), Kitchen Confidential (FOX), Reunion (FOX), The Apprentice: Martha Stewart (NBC), Inconceivable (ABC), Sex, Love & Secrets (UPN), Just Legal (WB).
Not one of these is a surprise. Boy, Carla Gugino's caught the TV cancellation curse, though, hasn't she? And there's Chyler Leigh, murdering another show.
Old shows that have been cancelled: Seventh Heaven (WB), Alias (ABC), Yes Dear (CBS--finally!), Arrested Development (FOX), and The Bad Girl's Guide (UPN).
Yet another cancelled series for Jenny McCarthy. I'm incredibly disappointed by the Arrested Development cancellation, as I've said before. And Yes Dear, gone five hundred seasons too late... I must admit, I'm surprised by the cancellation of Seventh Heaven, which people still seemed to be watching and enjoying. It seemed like the stalwart foundation of the entire WB schedule; but, much like Fox did with Married...with Children, the WB has taken the show that actually built up their viewer base and saw it through their low-rated history and thrown it away without a second thought.
Shows on "hiatus" or rumored to be hanging by a Damoclean thread: Blue Collar TV (WB), Killer Instinct (FOX), Living with Fran (WB), Out of Practice (CBS), Related (WB), Three Wishes (ABC), Twins (WB), What I Like About You (WB), Charmed (WB), That 70s Show (FOX), Still Standing (CBS).
I don't know what the hell happened to the WB this year. As I said earlier this year, their programming strategy for this season was incredibly flawed. Pairing unalike show with unalike show proved out, as I predicted, to be the quickest way to utterly destroy their entire lineup. And even if Smallville jumped in the ratings, everything else (including their precious baby, Gilmore Girls) is way down. I watch What I Like About You, but I'll be the first to point out that they ran this show into the ground in the middle of the second season. Their episode order has already been cut from 22 to 18, so if I were Dan Schneider, I'd be thinking about how to pull off the finale right now. Maybe Amanda Bynes can get something better. Charmed was always an incredibly badly-conceived show, too. Someone should come along and make an actual good supernatural show; I've yet to see it happen, though I have an idea for one based on the DC Comics character Zatanna.
Reba has been renewed on the WB; man, if they cancel Living with Fran, Twins, and What I Like About You, not only will they have to rebuild the entire Friday night sitcom line-up, but my Friday nights of watching hot chicks on the WB are going to be utterly changed. Damn it, leave me with my habits! Habit is the only reason anyone watches TV these days, anyway.
New shows being RENEWED for next season: Hell's Kitchen (FOX), So You Think You Can Dance (FOX)
Reality wins again! I loved Hell's Kitchen, though. And the news has also come out that Fox has renewed American Idol for four more seasons! Jesus, that's not including the one that starts in January, either. Can't we just let this thing die? It's also typical of Fox that they're considering putting Prison Break on hiatus until March so that they can air 24 and American Idol in January. The story on Prison Break is, apparently, uncompleted, but the show has become Fox's highest-rated series. Does anyone else think it might behoove them to leave the show on, rather than completely lose and alienate their audience? It's typical network bullshit; they assume people watch the network to watch the network, not specific shows, and that the audience for Prison Break is the exact same audience champing at the bit for yet more American Idol. Assholes. I don't even watch Prison Break, but maybe the fans of it know why I feel bitter about Arrested Development.
Of course, Fox is also considering running American Idol against Lost. I hope so; AI will die a violent death.
Wow, it's a slaughterhouse, not a battlefield.
Monday, November 28, 2005
I have been a Superman fan since before I can remember. The classic 1978 film, which I still consider the best superhero film ever made (and the obvious template for Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2), was released in theaters when I was two. I can't remember when I first saw the film, but it's always been a part of my pop cultural psyche. More than that, the character himself informed a lot of my opinions as a child about good, evil, justice, and responsibility. I love Superman.
So, I've been watching the development of this new film, Superman Returns, with some interest. As Superman projects go, nothing recent has really excited me. Sure, I like Paul Dini and Alex Ross's oversized book, and I liked Kingdom Come, and I loved the recent animated series. I wasn't much impressed with Smallville, and I don't watch it, and I don't read the comics anymore, because all they do is perpetuate a property rather than tell interesting stories. But I love the guy, I really do. And the prospect of a new movie was interesting to me, even though I think Superman and Superman II kind of render it unnecessary. They're still great movies, and they were only made 30 years ago. Why not release the actual Richard Donner version of Superman II, instead?
Well, as many of you know, the Superman Returns teaser is playing before Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (along with a great, great preview for King Kong). I haven't liked most of what I've seen so far. Casting the awful Kevin Spacey and the personality-free Kate Bosworth. That idiotic dark blue costume with the maroon cape. The fact that Bryan Singer, whose X-Men films have all of the epic scope of two men in a drawing room playing a cramped game of chess, was chosen to direct. But now I've seen the teaser, and I have the first images from the film in my head. And my first reaction is... meh.
That's right, meh. So far, it ain't impressive. But what I noticed is that I had a strong pull towards this movie, deep down inside. Apparently, Bryan Singer is not only using the original John Williams score for the 1978 film (one of many classic Superman themes, though my personal favorite is still the music used for the Fleischer cartoons of the 1940s), but also the performance of Marlon Brando, digitally added into the film. Jeez, why not use the original script, too? It's like Bryan Singer took a look at the original film one day and thought, "I've always loved this movie, and the only thing that could make it better is if I had directed it." Give me a break; why not just get him some editing software and let him play in a room where he wouldn't bother anyone?
The emotional pull was strong, too. The trailer uses the "Planet Krypton" music from the original film, with heavy Marlon Brando voiceover. The people look up at Superman, he looks down at the world from outer space, and Brando, as Jor-El, says: "They could be a great people, they want to be. They only need a light to show them the way. And for that purpose, above all, I have sent them you. My only son." And a tear does come to my eye. But it's because everything about the teaser trailer that's great comes from a movie that's just three years shy of its thirtieth birthday. It's so you won't notice that Kate Bosworth has no personality, or that the special effects look exactly like those in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, a film which almost everyone I know despised (they didn't get it). It looks chintzy and ripped-off, and cannibalizes elements from another movie just to get an emotional spark out of you. It's like Cameron Crowe's major trick: using familiar music to get you to remember something you've felt before rather than using writing and technique to get you to feel something genuine.
I guess that's the way it always is with a character over 60 years old. Parts are removed, contemporary parts are added, and the frame is constant. But I'd like a lot more from a movie than simply the latest rendering of familiar concepts and phrases. I ask for a whole, not for slapped-together parts. Is that so much to ask?