Saturday, January 14, 2006

Kermit and Lindsay, Together At Last

Go to No Smoking in the Skull Cave and check out Becca's take on what it would be like if Lindsay Lohan hosted The Muppet Show. That's right, after a loooong hiatus, Action Figure Theater is finally up and running again with the first episode of a brand new story (and if I seem a little too proud, I did suggest this storyline to Becca after seeing the Lindsay Lohan My Scene doll at Meier). I laughed my ass off. Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 13, 2006

Just a Reminder

Angelina Jolie before she got irritating. That's one of the best O-faces I've ever seen. Now going to waste on conventionality. Posted by Picasa

Throwdown 1/13

15 random thoughts, questions, and observations for the week.

1. TV numbers just keep on sliding, and they’re finally starting to blame the right conditions. For example, how about that heavy load of reruns every network airs over the loooooong holiday season? Everyone’s as surprised that they air every year as they are that it snows in winter and guns kill people (to misquote Julian Barnes), but this year the networks themselves finally started to hip to it. In fact, according to a media analyst company called Magna Global, the number of reruns being aired is on the rise, even during sweeps season. This proliferation of repeat viewings "is one of the leading causes of network erosion" they say, and this heavy load "adds to viewer confusion, interrupt viewing patterns, encourage channel switching, and benefit the broadcast networks’ competitors." Tell me you don’t feel this. Did anyone else skip all of the reruns of Lost over the past six weeks or so? I almost didn’t watch it this week because all of my interest had gone already. I’ve really found that shows are much better when you watch several episodes at once on DVD; the momentum builds and keeps rolling. With a week break in between, even episodes of Lost seem much less exciting.

2. Speaking of idiot network decisions: NBC has broken the record for broadcast coverage of the Olympics. The record is the 375 hours aired in 2002; this winter, they’ve scheduled for 416 hours (divided, of course, between NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, and USA). 75% will be live. As someone who likes three NBC programs (My Name Is Earl, The Office, and The Book of Daniel) and who considers the Olympics to be largely a waste of time that has more to do with advertising opportunities than anything else, I’m a little resentful about it. And you thought reruns were bad? Now, NBC isn’t even going to be showing their regular programs! Man, why do networks even try and pretend any more? They keep constantly making my case for me about why shows should be limited and free of reruns. Nowadays, I think maybe they should just come straight to DVD... Either way, I guess I’m skipping NBC for awhile. Do they think we watch out of loyalty to a network? Because they have a big surprise in store for that. (And, to rub one last bit of salt in the wound, NBC has also become the fourth-ranked network among the coveted 18-to-34 disposable income crowd. Why am I so gleeful?)

3. Michael Eisner will now host a talk show on CNBC, Conversations with Michael Eisner. Whatever keeps him from further interfering in the movie business...

4. So, Lindsay Lohan is upset that Vanity Fair quoted her as saying she had bulimia, but not the drugs? Interesting... There’s a whole war of words going on over this now which is as annoying as it is pointlessly funny. She went as far as to accuse the author of lying, but Vanity Fair stands by the story and claims to have the whole thing on tape. Yet another case of Lindsay begging for sympathy, going too far, and then getting all bitchy about the attention she courts constantly but claims she doesn’t want.

5. Paris made Penelope Cruz a Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters. Yes, much like the British Knighthood, they’ll just hand those things to anyone (Sir Sam Mendes, my black ass).

6. I want to kiss Heath Ledger on the mouth for this one. Brokeback Mountain has had its share of bans in the US, of course, because most Americans can’t think of anything worse than the idea of two people loving each other without need of approval (Salt Lake City, of course, has banned it). My favorite part is where Heath showed his ability to speak without fear of pissing off a lot of people when he joked: "I heard, at one point, that West Virginia was going to ban it, but that’s a state that was lynching people until about twenty years ago" (emphasis mine). Awesome! Dude, that’s fucking hilarious! I salute you.

7. Recently, Joaquin Phoenix laughed off the idea of a singing career. After hearing the soundtrack to Walk the Line, I laughed off the idea of his singing, period.

8. Man, compared to this new, stately, secretly-pregnant, secretly married, adoption-obsessed, very thin Angelina Jolie I miss the old, crazy, brother-kissing, blood-and-tattoo-lovin’, rowdy, drunken, bisexual Angelina Jolie. She was scary-nuts, but at least she was fun.

9. Billy Crystal has explained that he turned down the chance to host the Oscars because he’s too busy with his one-man show, Oh, Did You Hear That I Love Baseball? I Mean, REALLY Love It? or whatever the hell it’s called. Is there some call for boring movie "comics" to go back on stage and perform? When Robin Williams went out on Broadway again, it was one of the most boring, desperate comedy shows I’ve ever seen (as opposed to his 1985 concert album, A Night at the Met, which is hilarious). And who the fuck wanted to see Whoopi Goldberg on stage again? At this point, it’s hard to believe she was ever involved in comedy. Everything she’s ever done has been so pretentious and unfunny.

10. Well, after her zesty appearance at the People’s Choice Awards, it’s pretty obvious that Jessica Simpson is going to be the one coming out of the divorce looking clean. She hasn’t said a thing about Nick, but his mouth is starting to run over. Since selling their house, he’s blamed her "irrational behavior" for their break-up (she blames media attention and long periods apart, even as her friends say that he became too angry about sharing less and less of the spotlight with her) and is already talking about what kind of woman he wants next (like Jessica Alba, younger, who’s slept with ten people or less, loves sports, and won’t make fun of his music–which is funny in a sort of pathetic way). Even when she had to request a new judge for their divorce case because the last one had it out for her, she’s kept her cool, not talked much about it, and come out looking fresh as a daisy. It ain’t even final, and he’s already shopping around. Sensitive, ain’t he? Nick has bought a home in his native Cleveland, where he will presumably go to be forgotten.

11. Among the many recent celebrity pregnancies is Gwyneth Paltrow. I’m very happy about that. Her boobs got so big the last time, she looked fucking sexier than ever. I’m looking forward to a second round. Er, I mean, congratulations.

12. Did you bother to catch The Book of Daniel? I actually enjoyed it; it’s busy and complex, but it ain’t boring. I’m not so unsophisticated as to think that the producers are claiming that the Jesus on their show is the "real" fairy tale figure, but now the producers are even getting death threats from that haven of intellectual rationalism, Indiana. Dude, once again, if a TV show is going to shake your faith, your faith is meaningless. And in case you’re wondering, if you’re suddenly a Christian because Mel Gibson’s movie made you feel sorry for Jesus, your faith is equally worthless. If a movie alters the way you live that much, you’re too irresponsible to be allowed into movies.

13. Speaking of those wacky, thought-and-fact-oriented Christ enthusiasts, Comedy Central has announced that it has not, in fact, caved in to Christians and is, in fact, going to continue to air (and will release on DVD) the "Bloody Mary" episode of South Park. According to Viacom, they’re all for free speech and satire, and the Christian groups have been bragging about a victory that does not actually exist. Good. I mean, what is it with Christians where they want to control how everyone thinks? I mean, do they not see the irony of that?

14. Here’s a disturbing story that should send a chill up your spine. Dr. Ali Fadhil is a reporter for Britain’s greatest newspaper, The Guardian (better than any American paper, I’ll tell you that). As he was working in Baghdad on a report for Channel 4's Dispatches news program, with his wife and child asleep in the house, American troops shot up the door of his home, burst in, forced him to lie on the floor, tied his hands behind him, and confiscated his video tapes. They claimed to be looking for an Iraqi insurgent but had the wrong address. They put a hood over him and took him into custody. He was held for several hours, then released; the tapes have not been returned. Dr. Fadhil himself describes even more damage to his home, saying they blew open three doors with explosives, smashed the windows, destroyed furniture, damaged his car, shot inside rooms aimlessly, and abducted him from his family, "and then, with a smile, they dismissed it as a small mistake." The film claims that tens of millions of dollars worth of Iraqi funds have been misappropriated by the Americans and British. If you tell me this wasn’t harassment, I’ll look you in the face and laugh ruefully. We Americans always look so good to the world, don’t we?

15. Speaking of the Middle East, Iran is now threatening to let in UN inspectors, which is frightening given their nuclear capability. I mean, are we going to get in a war with them, too? How much longer can we claim this isn’t ultimately an attempt to root out the Muslim world? Because it kinda feels that way...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Pathfinder

This has the makings of a potentially great B-movie. It's about a group of Vikings who leave a fifteen year-old boy behind while exploring North America. The boy is raised by Indians, and then forced to defend them when the Vikings return ten years later. Vikings vs. Indians? How could that not be cool? Even if it is directed by Marcus Nispel, the shlocky music video director who made that awful remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre? The cast is real fun B, too: Karl Urban, Russell Means, the Main Man Clancy Brown, and Ralf Moeller, who starred in one of the best Viking B-movies of all time, The Viking Sagas (with the much-loved Sven-Ole Thorsen). I hope this is as good as it sounds. Yes, you read that right. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Film Week

A review of the movies I've seen this past week.

Yet another lame Scream knock-off. The twist was predictable (as they tend to be) but okay. We saw this movie because Becca's all over David Boreanaz right now; he's not a terrible actor at all, but he's never really used well in anything. At least the movie was populated by hot chicks--Katherine Heigel, Jessica Cauffiel, Jessica Capshaw, Denise Richards, and Marley Shelton (whom I love). Nothing to write home about, but not a complete waste of time, either. **1/2 stars.

I really liked Michael Cristofer's Gia and Original Sin, but this is a total wannabe-Brett Easton Ellis piece of shit. A terrible cast of ridiculous actors offer "deep" ruminations on relationships in the nineties, then we get a he-said/she-said version of a date rape. Which side is right? Well, that's never answered; apparently, the question is important enough on its own. Or is the point that we'll never know for sure? Or are they both right in some way? Either way, I call it mental masturbation that's afraid to make any real point. The screenplay thinks it's "daring," that's for sure. The only thing I liked in the movie was Tara Reid, back in her pre-American Pie days of trying to be a serious actress. She deserves credit here, too: it was courageous of her to play a rape victim, to do such a graphic, brutal scene on-camera, and to do it in such an unapologetic, unsexy way. But the rest of the movie isn't up to it. * star.

CASUAL SEX? (1989)
So bad, I don't know how to describe it or even why to. No stars.

It's a twofer: David Boreanaz AND Tara Reid. She seems barely conscious of what she's doing, and he rightfully looks as though he hates himself for even appearing in this piece of shit. The movie equivalent of Crow fan-fiction. No stars.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Arrested Sex?

Last night I watched the premiere of Heather Graham's new series, Emily's Reasons Why Not. Color me unimpressed. I love Heather Graham, I truly do, and I don't know why she has so much trouble getting into anything good. Her acting style is a little different, true; she's naturalistic, not realistic, and sometimes her matter-of-fact-but-enthusiastic delivery seems a bit arch (actually, my own theory is that it only comes across as arch because the other actors around her are rarely able to keep up with it--British actors are better at it; she and Colin Firth worked well together in Hope Springs, though it wasn't a very good movie). But when directors use it in movies that are a little...removed from realism, she does very well. And, yes, I still think she deserved a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Boogie Nights.

Anyway, her new show. I think it's great that she's proactive about producing her own vehicles. If a woman wants to get a decent role in anything, she really has to these days (why doesn't any studio want to make The Accidental Virgin? It'd be a perfect vehicle for her). But does she have to produce something so cliched and lame? It has its good points, don't get me wrong. Heather's good and likeable, the show has a lot of energy and hits the ground running (and doesn't stop), and I prefer single-camera shows without laugh tracks, so we're good there.

But the bad points are there, too. It's silly, it's not as bold as it thinks it is. She has the requisite swishy gay friend, which is always irritating (especially when he's as badly acted as he is here). It's like someone tried to mix the supposed sophistication of Sex and the City with the funny pacing and creative energy of Arrested Development. And then, ruining most chances of it being any good, they put it on ABC.

So, I don't know, maybe it'll get better. I'll keep watching it, of course, because I like Heather Graham and it's not like there's anything on Mondays anyway. But I keep thinking of what they really could have done with it on HBO. Somehow, I think it might be more about Emily and how she relates to men, rather than how much like Bridget Jones it could be and how many lame rom-com cliches they can stuff into a half-hour of television. Posted by Picasa

Planning the Year in Advance

And the movies just keep on continuing to suck. I've taken a look at the movies that are coming out this year, and all I can say is, I'm underwhelmed. Truly. Man, I remember a time, ten years ago or so, when Becca and I would be out at the movies every weekend. Now we tend to go once every four or five (though we sometimes see two in one day). Well, there are a lot of classics I can finally catch up with, at least. Here's the few movies I actually want to take the time to see in the theater. Provided the trailers don't suck.

American Dreamz: Hopefully, this satire is a lot smarter than it sounds. The Weitz Brothers did make About a Boy... though they did make In Good Company...
Charlotte's Web: Julia Roberts as the voice of Charlotte will be flat, monotone, and emotionless, but I'd like to see this done well.
Coin Locker Babies: Asia Argento AND Liv Tyler? 'Nuff said.
The Devil Wears Prada: Anne Hathaway. I adore her.
Ice Age 2: The Meltdown: The first movie was surprisingly funny, despite the lack of anyone talented in the voice cast...
Idiocracy: Mike Judge directed this SF comedy about a future where people have become dumber. Like today, only in the future.
The Last Legion: Assuming it gets a theatrical release. I'm always interested in Rome.
Meet the Robinsons: Disney's next CG film. Though I faield to see Chicken Little...
Nacho Libre: Jack Black as a Mexican wrestler. Excellent.
Open Season: The comic strip this is based on is occasionally funny. Hope it's not as bad as most DreamWorks CG movies.
Over the Hedge: Yet another CG comedy; could we try a different type of animated film?
The Passion of the Clerks: Kevin Smith sells out. Again. Yet again.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest: Loved the first one, ready for more.
She's the Man: But only because Amanda Bynes is in it.
Sin City 2: The first was incredible.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby: Will Ferrell in a comedy about NASCAR. I'm so fucking sick of NASCAR. But I like Will Ferrell. 2005 notwithstanding...
Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny: One of my favorite albums is the Tenacious D album.
Tristan and Isolde: I know, it looks silly, but it's by Kevin Reynolds and I did love The Count of Monte Cristo.

And there's my year in advance. Saves time...

UPDATE 2007: Well, even that was hopeful. I only saw four of these movies in the theater: The Devil Wears Prada, The Passion of the Clerks (which ended up being simply--and wisely--called Clerks II), and She's the Man. The fourth was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which is everything that's wrong with Hollywood these days. I really wanted to go see Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny, but it came out when I was totally broke. I saw American Dreamz on DVD, and it sucked. So did Talladega Nights, and Tristan and Isolde was a misfire. I saw Over the Hedge, and it was really good. I so no longer want to see Charlotte's Web, Ice Age 2, or Nacho Libre. At some point, I'll probably see Idiocracy and Open Season. Coin Locker Babies, The Last Legion, Meet the Robinsons, and Sin City 2 got pushed back to sometime in 2007.

Yeah, um, great year at the movies...

Monday, January 09, 2006

Doesn't Anyone Have Parents Anymore?

So, People magazine thinks Hilary Duff's creepy relationship with punk-poser Joel Madden is "cute"? I'll admit that he's helped her music develop in a better direction (along with his weird brother Benjy, whose blog would also seem to indicate that he also has an intense longing for the Duffster, I'm just saying). But is People going to point out that they've been secretly dating since she was, like, sixteen, and he was 24? So, it's now "cute" for college kids to hang around the high school parking lot around three and look for chicks who need a ride home? I don't know, if Hilary were my daughter, I think I'd have to say something about it. Maybe I just don't know anything about having children. Why not let adults despoil them early, I guess...

If only I could start dating beautiful Alyson Michalka. I wonder if People would find that "cute"? After all, she's sixteen, I'm 29... that's like, five extra years of cute. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Please Don't Make This Movie

I read online that someone is now thinking of making Pac-Man into a movie. Fucking Pac-Man! What is the dramatic tension in a story based on Pac-Man? Why the hell do we need to turn everything that ever flickered a light for a few minutes into a movie? Tell me what the narrative on a Pac-Man movie could possibly be! Doesn't anyone remember how bad it was the first time we tried this?

Hollywood, please don't make this movie. Don't make me post pictures of Baby Pac! Posted by Picasa

My Mom's Recipe

I wouldn't recommend making these more than once or twice every half-year (if that), because they're REALLY bad for you, but my mom used to make these as a kid. I haven't had them in years, but now that Becca has the recipe, she made them last night and they were fucking great!


Bring to a boil the following ingredients:
2 cups sugar
1 stick butter
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons instant coffee
1/2 cup milk

Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in:
2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring
1/4 cup peanut butter (any kind)
3 cups oatmeal (real oats, not instant)

Once thick, drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper and let cool.

You don't even have to cover these things up; they're so sugary and bad for you that they just harden and sit there forever. Man, can't you just feel the heartburn? Can't you just imagine your heart actually stopping for a moment as you eat this junk? Oh, fuck, I love it.

Becca's were so perfect, I wanted to call my mom last night and tell her: "Becks just made coffee cookies. I don't need you at all now!"