Friday, July 07, 2006

Throwdown 7/7

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

1. Oh, fuck, is it really news that the stupidly-named Shiloh Jolie-Pitt had a play date with the equally stupidly-named Kingston Rossdale? I don’t really give a shit about the children of famous people, especially when they’re just an actor and a singer, alright? They’re not heirs to a throne or anything.

2. I have cynical reservations about A Scanner Darkly. I’m not a huge fan of anyone involved in it anyway, but the real reason is that Hollywood, 9 times out of 10, has no idea how to make a science fiction movie that is both entertaining and thoughtful. Most of them--especially Spielberg’s--have been exceedingly pretentious and crushingly stupid. And Hollywood has yet to do right by Philip K. Dick. Granted, Total Recall was a fun movie, and Blade Runner is mostly good (and has Rutger Hauer’s best performance in anything), but Screamers... Paycheck... Impostor... Minority Report... Hollywood just doesn’t know Dick.

3. Brendan Fraser is the current favorite to take over the lead role from Eric Bana in Hulk 2. Wait, I thought they said Hulk 2 was not going to be a straight-to-video movie... Maybe they figure next year is going to be 1997 again.

4. Kevin Spacey: “I won’t leave independent cinema.” Catch Spacey in theaters now, in the $260 million dollar indie Corporate Logo Returns.

5. Sophia Loren is the oldest woman ever to pose for the Pirelli calendar, at age 71. Time for Oprah and People to make a big deal about how old women are still vibrant and beautiful. I don’t know, I still think the real message is: as long as you maintain your looks, men will still want to masturbate to you when you get old. It’s not that much of a triumph. On the other hand, I worship Sophia Loren and would knock my sister over a railing to drink La Loren’s bath water.

6. Lil’ Kim is out of jail. I guess she learned her lesson: how dare she be successful and unmarried, and then flaunt it? She should have the respect to at least die in painlessly, sleeping in a comfortable bed, like white men who screw over hundreds of people for cash. Oh, by the way, Kenny Boy Ley died. I wish it had been painfully, slain by the people he bilked, but hey... at least he's fucking dead.

7. Man, I don’t know who came up with this first, but I know it wasn’t me. In fact, usually if I’ve thought of it, it turns out other bloggers have a week before me. My question, then: why are tabloids getting all of their stories from blogs now? Are they too lazy to even leave the office anymore?

8. Apparently, Paramount is after Matt Damon to play the, er, young Captain James T. Kirk in J.J. Abrams’s unneccesary Star Trek Babies, or whatever the fuck it’s being called. I just think it’s hilarious, since this is supposed to be about Kirk in the Academy, and Matt Damon is 36, or roughly two years older than William Shatner was when he started playing Captain Kirk. Kevin Smith says that pairing him with Ben Affleck as Spock “would be a no-brainer.” Well, I never did accuse Smith of having a brain, so I guess he must be right...

9. What do you mean Katie “Jordan” Price likes attention? Gee, I didn't get that at all...

10. Wait, people are accusing Keira Knightley of being anorexic? But... why? She looks so robust and healthy, doesn’t she? I mean, just because it runs in nearly every generation of women in her family doesn’t mean it could ever happen to her, right? I mean, come on, who ever heard of a young actress losing too much weight? Especially all the time these days?

11. What the fuck happened to Jessica Alba? Fuck, is everyone going to decide they’re too fat at 90 pounds and then lose even more weight? That’s another chick who’s no longer hot... and what else does Jessica Alba have? Ick.

12. No, Lindsay Lohan doesn’t have breast implants at all. They’ve always looked unnaturally far apart... oh, wait... no they haven't. I will say this: at least the stupid bitch has a tiny bit of a belly going again. Too bad all her talent went up her nose.

13. Here’s Firecrotch at her 20th birthday party: “Oh, man, I’m so wasted, I don’t even know what’s going on right now.”

14. Hey, look at Jessica Biel! She keeps working out, and she’s managed not to lose her femininity. Shit, she’s actually gained some of it back (because, to be honest, she looked like a so-so post-op back when Esquire was saying she was the sexiest woman of 2005). Look at that perfect ass. And Biel edges ahead of Alba in the Hottest Jessica Race (Simpson is, of course, still far in the lead).

15. Meanwhile, Glaceau Vitamin Water is refusing to promote Kelly Clarkson’s line of water until she loses weight. Nicely done, Glaceau. We can’t have girls looking like they’re not starving themselves just so men will like them, can we?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this week.

Jim Wynorski directs another fabulous tale of tits and women and... whatever the plot was. What do you want? It had Monique Parent, Julie K. Smith, Stormy Daniels, and Glori-Anne Gilbert in it. Of COURSE I liked it. Who needs a plot? *** stars.

Well, it was cute. Richard Gere, as a man who wants to learn ballroom dancing but feels guilty about it, is actually pretty good. Lisa Ann Walter manages to totally outsexify both Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon. But it's the kind of movie Audrey Wells always writes; it's cute, it's not challenging, it presents women with a close enough version of realistic emotions that they fall for it, there are too many characters, and every single thing that happens is obvious. I'm willing to give it *** stars, but that movie needed at least another draft and a better director.

Rather humdrum version of the classic L. Frank Baum novel. It has even less to do with the books than the 1939 MGM version does (at least that takes the same basic story). In this version, Dorothy is wooed by two farmhands in Kansas; then she's kidnapped by men working for Kruel, the Dictator of Oz, who know that Dorothy is actually the trueborn queen of Oz, hidden in Kansas. Kruel's Wizard, who is really a charlatan, helps the farmhands (who have tried to prove the Wizard's powers by disguising themselves as a Scarecrow and a Tin Man) and the heir to the throne, Prince Kynd, to win the day. Also features a "comical" black farmhand who dresses as a lion. Kind of a waste, even with Oliver Hardy in a very early role as the Tin Man. **1/2 stars.

DON JUAN (1926)
Warner Bros. used their Vitaphone system to create this, the first film with synchronized sound and music (not live music, recorded orchestral music). It was the success of this film, a major production, that emboldened Warner to do The Jazz Singer, which included songs and dialogue. But besides the historical interest, this is a truly great film. John Barrymore plays the Spanish lover, who is taught by his father (also played by Barrymore) that women will only bring him death, and that he should just use them for his pleasure and discard them when he is done. And then, of course, he falls in love (with Mary Astor, so who could really blame him?). There is political action, too, as Don Juan runs afoul of the Borgias while in Rome, and there is some great swordfighting action. One of the true gems of the silent era. **** stars.

Francis X. Bushman plays George Washington, and Betsy Ross designs the flag. Then there's some stuff about the British one day becoming our friends, which is an indirect thank you to the Allied Forces of World War I. It's only 20 minutes long, but still boring and overdramatic. Patriotism is romantic, yadda yadda. ** stars.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Birthday, America

I found the perfect gift. The gift of Lucy Pinder. Posted by Picasa

British Men Are Apparently Idiots

This is the, er, woman that Empire readers voted last year as the Sexiest British Actress. Keira Knightley, here at the premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, is the sexiest actress in Britain? How can a country that produces women like Katie Price, Michelle Marsh, Lucy Pinder, Sophie Howard, Abi Titmuss, Keeley Hazell, Jodie Marsh, Tina O'Brien, and so many other ripe, soft, squeezable, gorgeous, intoxicating, comforting, arousing, womanly specimens of femininity consider this... this thing... sexy? Are Empire readers homosexuals? I could at least understand it if that were the case; Keira Knightley resembles nothing so much as a 13 year-old boy, and if that were your thing sexually, I could see why... and more importantly, how... you could be attracted to something so hideous. Perhaps Keira's greasy, awful bones are just her getting into the spirit of the premiere. She certainly does seem to be sporting a dead man's chest, doesn't she? If she were at least a talented actress, that would be one thing; if she were capable of doing something more in a film that whipping out her tiny, unnoticeable breasts, or opening and closing her mouth repeatedly, jutting out her lower jaw in what I assume is a child's attempt to conjure a facsimile of an emotional response. But she's not even good enough to do more than simply plug up an empty hole on the screen that could easily have been filled by, let's say, an actress. But to call this stringy little skeleton sexy defies all logic. Posted by Picasa

The Overwhelming Cost of Higher Education

80 people at Northern Illinois University makes six-figure salaries. Of those, only 13 are actual professors; the rest are all administrators, college deans, and President John Peters. About 85 percent of NIU's budget goes to salaries. 85%. As a student, that's distressing news, and especially as an English major. Most of the rooms where English classes are held resemble high school classrooms from the 1950s. Many classes are taught by instructors and student teachers, and not by actual professors. There are only two smart classrooms (rooms featuring a computer, a projector, and actual carpeting) in all of Reavis Hall, where the majority of English classes are held. And unlike the faculty who make $100,000 a year or over, I'm paying to be there. 75% of the student body of NIU relies on financial aid; there were 23,000 graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in the last school year, 2005-2006.

So, this answer to this disparity between the cost of education and the quality of education is what? Well, if you're the administration of NIU, it's apparently to keep voting unanimously to increase President Peters's salary (every six months this happens). Oh, and to raise student fees by about $76 dollars a person. And to raise tuition fees by 10%. And to do, basically, anything but put more money into the classroom or into the salaries of the professors who teach the actual classes. No, let's put more fences around the grassy areas while cutting even more student parking areas. Why is NIU's answer always to make life as difficult as possible for students?

The student body is buzzing around NIU right now in anticipation of a very, very slight increase in funding. Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois governor who is proving to be much more intent on keeping the Illinois Department of Transportation flush with operating cash (he did, after all, double the road tolls for anyone not using I-Pass) than on actually helping people, is proposing a $40 million increase in the state budget for higher education funding. Of this, NIU will get a mere $1.2 million (or, going by 23,000 students, about fifty bucks per student). And President Peters had already decided where this money should be immediately spent: on improving salaries for faculty and staff.

Gee, I wonder which salaries he's talking about? Peters told the NIU paper, the Northern Star, last year that he would "fight for pay increases [for professors] whenever I can. I’m not in favor of decreasing salaries." He also said that more professors should make $100,000 or more. And yet, he keeps accepting pay increases for himself. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, full professors at NIU make about $78,200 a year; instructors, who are carrying more and more of the class load for these professors, are at about $32,000 (or less, if they are newer). Many instructors have second jobs; I know one that has to supplement his income by working at Borders. I don't see Peters fighting for these people at all.

Student opinion is mostly that the money should be used to keep student fee increases at bay. But the fact is, instructors really could use a raise; this is their career, after all. And the way most educators are paid in America is a disgusting joke (the same for firefighters, police, soldiers, but that's another post for another time). There is an enormous influx of students every year, but the opportunities at NIU are getting worse and worse. More and more classes necessary to graduate are being closed; parking areas are being given over to faculty and staff (even the metered spaces are gone); everything is being improved except for the ability of students to get to class and the ability of instructors to feed their families. What is NIU going to do about the serious problems it keeps ignoring?

Maybe Blago can shift some of the money from the tolls towards education. I wouldn't mind paying the tolls so much if I knew the money was going to something more important than the unneccesary "road improvement" projects that IDOT keeps inventing to keep itself busy. I might even start paying the full amount...

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Hey, Y'all

Just for the hell of it, a picture of Jessica. She and Nick finalized their divorce on Friday; man, the Newlyweds couldn't even stay married. What hope is there for the rest of us? But, on the plus side, she's still standing strong and smiling, which is a refreshment after months of her looking all mopey and sad. It's nice to see her happy. Her smile is kind of infectious. And she's got a new single which I think is hella fun. And she's shooting a new video in which she dresses like this:
Jess, you is my woman now.

What Will Be Your Edward Gorey Death?

You will be devoured by mice. You are so shy and always off alone in the corner. No one knows you are there except for the blood thirsty rodents.
Take this quiz!