Saturday, August 05, 2006

Arthur Lee 1945-2006

"This is the time and life that I am living,
And I'll face each day with a smile,
For the time that I've been given's
Such a little while,
And the things that I want to do
Consist of more than style."

Thank you for Forever Changes. Posted by Picasa

Car Wash

I just popped out to the library, and on my way I noticed that some high school kids had one of those charity car wash things set up in the parking lot of Dollar Video. Girls were holding up signs for it; I looked over and saw three or four shirtless guys sitting by the water bucket, waiting for someone to pull up for a wash. Don't you kids know anything? You're supposed to have girls in bikinis washing the cars and holding up the signs. Otherwise, who's going to slow down?

Stupid kids.

Becca in a Nutshell

Yesterday morning, Becca and I stopped at Wal-Mart to grab some litter for our pet rabbit. I waited in the car, and after a half-hour of wondering where the hell she'd gotten off to, she finally walks out with a couple of bags. So, we have the whole conversation about how I'm pissed because I didn't know where she was, she said she'd be 5 minutes, blah blah. And then I notice she's got something round in a bag that she's holding delicately. I figure she must have bought another cheap plant for her garden.

"What's that?" I ask.

"Um," she says sheepishly, "a fish."

So, in addition to the rabbit we adopted, she bought one of those little betta fish. She hasn't named it yet; she's afraid if she does, it'll die. She's also afraid if she doesn't, it'll die. She just loves animals; one day, she'll just start bringing them home from Petco, I know it. Everytime they have a rabbit or a guinea pig or a chinchilla that needs to be adopted, I can see her doing calculations in her head, figuring out how much extra she'll need to spend on food and things. It's cute. Ever since they made us take our bird feeders down last summer, she's missed the birds.

My mom, who has a diminished capacity for loving animals (ad who would rather put a cat to sleep or give it away than have to take care of it--I know this from experience) always tries to talk me out of getting any more animals, as if she's going to have to deal with them in any way. Typical of me, it just makes me want to start breeding bloodhounds or English bull terriers out of my home. When she first heard the fish story, she said that Becks needed a bigger house and a couple of children.

God, I hope that isn't true.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Throwdown 8/4

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

1. Jodie Foster says that drunkenness is no excuse for making hurtful comments, but doesn’t believe that Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic comments make him an anti-Semite. Huh?

2. Don Johnson: “You tell Colin Farrell when he’s through with my jock strap to give it back.” Hilarious!

3. Wow, they just ooze class, don’t they? Probably they deserve each other. And besides, it’s only temporary, right? I thought Kid Rock was with that idiot from Creed…

4. Is it just me, or does all of the surgery make Star Jones look like the black Nicole Richie?

5. Eva Longoria says that she’s glad she was an ugly child, because it’s made her appreciate being beautiful as an adult. Um… do you wanna tell her, or should I?

6. The New York Daily News reports that Seann William Scott was in a gay club with David Geffen. Oh, don’t look so shocked.

7. Oh, Scarlett, no. Take the nose ring out right now. You’re far too beautiful to have to resort to that kind of gimmickry. You’re not Pink, for fuck’s sake. You’re also too beautiful to settle for Josh Hartnett, but that’s a whole other conversation.

8. Paris Hilton on her mom Kathy: “My mom’s so hot. All my guy friends love her and want her.” That doesn’t mean she’s hot, Paris. It’s just that she’s a skank who looks really, really easy.

9. A lot of people are getting all pissed off over this picture of Melanie Griffith helping her 17 year-old daughter Dakota light up, but it doesn’t really bug me. Most of the people I know who smoke started when they were much younger than Dakota. And at least she’s taking the direct route, instead of the Dina Lohan whore-my-daughter-out-for-fame route.

10. Continuing to feel the immensely satisfying schadenfreude of Lindsay Lohan’s career implosion. The latest news (notice how there are several installments a week?) is that her UK record label, Island, has decided not to release her first album, Speak. They released the single “Over,” but since she couldn’t be arsed to actually promote the thing in England, Island have gotten upset and dropped the album. I read about this on a couple of British music news sites, and the most popular reaction was some variation on “Who?” Excellent. Don’t stop partying, idiot. You’re gonna win that Oscar, really.

11. Look at this, it’s Tara Reid at a party and she’s not even drunk. Wow, good for you, Tara. You’re such a beautiful girl when you’re not falling all over yourself. Maybe she took a look in the mirror, saw Lindsay Lohan staring back at her, and decided that enough was enough. That would be kind of nice.

12. So, Steely Dan says that the movie You, Me & Dupree is a ripoff of their song “Cousin Dupree,” and demands that Owen Wilson appear at a concert to apologize to fans. Now, this just brings up a whole string of confusing questions. Why blame Owen Wilson when he didn’t write the film? What the hell is “Cousin Dupree”? Steely Dan still gives concerts? Steely Dan still has fans? Man, a third-rate actor in a feud with a fourth-rate band. I don’t know if I can think of a lamer feud. Oh, except for Joe Rogan and that guy on MySpace.

13. Oh, Ashlee… look at her arms. It’s like she’s starring in Stephen King’s Thinner. Watch closely and you can see her fading from existence faster than Marty McFly’s sister in the family picture.

14. Here’s Jessica, looking all hot and slutty and drunk and braless at some event or other. God, I love her. What I don’t love is this stuff I keep hearing about how her mom and dad are fighting over the direction of her career and how she should be sold. Last year, she was talking about how she was branching out her interests into reading and jazz and Woody Allen movies, and how her next album (then called And the Band Played On) was going to reflect that kind of intellectual/old-fashioned influence. And now we have A Public Affair… I’ve heard three songs off the album so far, and it’s a complete return to the overblown pop of her first album, Sweet Kisses, completely undoing any growth she’s had as an artist. Jess, it’s time for you to ditch your parents as your management; they’ve taken you as far as they can, and they are out of ideas. Get yourself a professional and let your dad manage Ryan Cabrerra. Or Ashlee, she’s really gone as far as she can too.

15. Naveen Andrews and his spokesperson claim that he and Barbara Hershey are still together and very much in love. Uh huh. But, really, what woman stands a chance against Andrews’s lifetime love: himself.

More Suri Bullshit

A third woman claims to have seen Suri Cruise with her own eyes; this time it's Penelope Cruz. Penelope sez: "She's really beautiful. She's one of the most beautiful babies I've ever seen."

Okay, once again, they've chosen someone with no credibility to claim the existence of the scientological miracle child. The woman who dated Tom Cruise so it looked like Nicole Kidman didn't dump him because he was gay? What kind of cover-up is the "church" running? You'd think with all of the money at hand, they'd at least be able to make this thing look more realistic.

So, Leah Remini, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Penelope Cruz have all seen this thing. Notice how Katie Holmes's parents have yet to say anything?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mel's Mugshot

I'm gonna fuck you, motherfucker! Are you a Jew, sugar tits? Cuz I'm gonna fuck you and then spend all of money getting even with you!

Man, what a night on the job that must've been... Posted by Picasa

Entertainment Errata

1. So, this whole online Lost experience bullshit is going to give away the secret of the numbers. Now, even forgetting the fact that the creators once said they were never going to reveal what the numbers mean, I'm extremely disappointed in the creators for revealing something about the plot on their online Easter egg hunt. You know, a lot of us just enjoy the show and don't want to buy into the supplemental material to have to figure out what's going on. Thanks for punishing those viewers with less time on their hands. Sorry I was too busy trying to graduate college to pay this much attention to a show that's been slipping in quality since Day One.

2. If anyone else watches Hell's Kitchen, you'll know what I'm talking about when I say I'm very proud of Virgina for somehow managing to eat her cake and have it, too (yes, that is the grammatically correct version). First, she owns up to her deficiencies (she can't handle the nightmarish pacing) and offers to take herself out of the competition. And then, at the last second, when it's down to just her and Velma Dinkley--er. Sarah--and Gordon Ramsay is telling her that it's her choice whether she wants to stay, she says: "Hell yes, I want to stay." And Sarah just goes home like that. I don't say this much about a reality TV show, but I was shocked and excited by this sudden turn of events. Go, Virginia. Everyone's been treating her like shit for weeks now, and Ramsay has especially been on her ass. When Sarah was screwing up on purpose to make Virginia look bad, Ramsay took Sarah's side and called Virginia a liar. He's always had it in for her (though I would argue that a lot of it is a test of her instincts, just to see if the added pressure snaps her into gear). And finally, finally, Sarah gets the comeuppance she deserves, and it was excellent to see the shock on her smug, evil little face. A very satisfying moment in Hell's Kitchen indeed.

3. I'm not quite getting some of the criticism of HBO's Lucky Louie. I think it's an alright show, and I've been enjoying it less and less every week, and a lot of the criticisms are valid: the show is unoriginal, it wears its liberal language as a badge of uniquity, the supporting cast mostly sucks, Louis CK isn't comfortable with the lead, and it gets irritating quickly. I do find it refreshing, though, that this show isn't pulling a Rosanne, and trying to get all preachy about the nobility of poor people who try to do right by their kids. Anyway, the one criticism I don't get is the thing about Louis CK using material from his stand-up act as story points on the show. I mean, is that really a criticism? Now, I had heard of Louis CK before Lucky Louie, but except for his writing on some of the TV Funhouse segments of Saturday Night Live, I wasn't familiar with his work. I've still never heard any of his stand-up comedy, so if he's putting his bits into the show, it's all new to me and I really don't care. But more than that, I can't accept the criticism because, you know, that's what every comedian who has a sitcom does; he uses bits from his standup comedy as plot points. So what? Why do you think they get sitcoms in the first place? Rosanne Barr, Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano, even Jeff Foxworthy--they all did it. Hell, have you ever seen the concert film Bill Cosby, Himself? It's like sitting in on a story meeting for the entire first season and a half of The Cosby Show. So, I don't get how critics are having a problem with this now.

4. Even though his movie's basically failed at the box office, Bryan Singer was at Comic-Con crowing about how Warner Brothers wants to make a sequel to Superman Returns (exact smug words: "Oh yeah, they want to do it"), and about how he thinks he is a virtual lock to direct it (exact smug words: "there's interest in me because I did the first one"). Yeah, but the first one was, you know, kind of a failure. He compares his potential Superman Again to Star Trek II, which seems like an admission that his first film was a gassy, overblown, boring failure, and he's going to make a tighter, leaner, well-written sequel. I would urge Warner Brothers to remember that the reason Star Trek II is so brilliant is that it was written and directed and produced by talented people who cared about making a great story; and, incidentally, this was after the people who had written, directed, and produced the first film (including Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry) were removed from the sequel. Then again, Star Trek II is also great because there was none of this "we'll fix it in the sequel" business that Hollywood lets directors get away with now. Everyone working on Star Trek II was under the impression that it would be the last hurrah, and that it might never come back. That's the way you have to make these things: one at a time, not with the foreknowledge that the director is already signed to do four of them. Then they just save everything decent for the last one, and by then who gives a shit? The thing that bugs me the most is that Singer, showing a typical Hollywood lack of understanding in just how important the science fiction genre is to the continued success of Hollywood (most of the top-grossing movies are SF or fantasy), promises Superman Sticks Around This Time will be "more sci-fi." More science fiction? Yeah, I guess the first film--which revolved around an alien from another planet whose alien physiology reacts in chemical ways with our sun that give him abnormal, extrahuman abilities--was short on science. Well, that's fine; when people aren't apologizing for the film, they tell me it was short on fiction, too.

5. Casino Royale has a black actor (Jeffrey Wright, an excellent actor) playing Felix Leiter. I don't care for this. Not because Felix is black and he's always been white; I don't give a damn about that. It's just that I think the change was done arbitrarily in order to look more modern. It's the kind of thing someone immature thinks is an amazing change that reflects modern society. I don't know, I just think it was done to make them look hip. What does it matter what color Felix is? What's the point of changing it? Is there a story reason for it, or is it just because it's cool or more sensitive or some such bullshit? It's not even original; Bernie Casey played Felix Leiter in Never Say Never Again. I think this movie's going to suck anyway, frankly. I kow it's far too late to complain about continuity in a James Bond movie, but how is this a prequel when they've hired a nearly-forty-year-old actor to play 007 and M is still played by Judi Dench?

Film Week

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

The creators of Fast Times at Ridgemont High cash in with Fast Times lite, starring Sean Penn lite, also known as Chris Penn. At least there's some drugs and sex in this thing, not like the teen sex comedies we have nowadays. Lea Thompson is really slutty-sexy in this movie. And Kitten Natividad is never a bad thing. Otherwise, * star.

I've always considered Jonathan Demme an overrated filmmaker, and this early work is no different. Nice to see Mary Steenburgen naked (apparently this is my theme this week...), and she's very good in the movie, but the rest? Meh. * star for Steenburgen's acting. Yes, I said acting.

BABY DOLL (1956)
Elia Kazan directs an original screenplay by Tennessee Williams. The story is, of course, sultry and sleazy; Carroll Baker plays Baby Doll, the child bride of a hapless cotton gin owner (Karl Malden). He's been put out of business by a Sicilian named Vaccaro (Eli Wallach in the best performance of his career) with a better gin, so he decides to burn the place down so that Vaccaro will have to turn to him for help. But, while he's giving this help, Vaccaro takes it on himself to get revenge by terrorizing and seducing Baby Doll. The plot is typical Williams, with ruminations on masculinity and girlhood/womanhood, and how women are treated by the animalistic tendencies of men. And, more dangerously, it's about how women respond to that in surprising ways. It's top-notch Williams, with some excellent performances all around. **** stars.

I could feel my blood pressure rising through this whole film. You guys might think I'm crazy when I say that corporations are only motivated by greed, but this documentary certainly proves it was true in the case of Enron (while also implicating the government as the partner of the corporation in bleeding us dry with no remorse). I'm so glad that Ken Lay is dead, and I think the rest of the people at the top who haven't helped blow the whistle should be put up against a wall and shot for betraying the American people. Except for Jeffrey Skilling. He should have a live grenade put in his mouth. There should be more people like Sherrin Watkins following their consciences. **** stars.

THE 300 SPARTANS (1962)
Silly, overblown (and underfunded) depiction of one of my favorite stories of history: the Battle of Thermopylae, when 300 Spartans under King Leonidas stood against the overwhelming multitude of Xerxes's Persian Empire. This is a ridiculous movie. Read Frank Miller's beautiful graphic novel 300 or Steven Pressfield's great novel The Hot Gates for meatier versions. This is typical Hollywood of the 1960s, and plays like a badly-written episode of Star Trek. No stars.

Okay, this is not a story about love, no matter what the narration says. And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with this movie. On the one hand, you have a documentary about the mating cycle of the Emperor penguin, and it is beautifully filmed. The film just looks incredible, nearly on a par with Winged Migration. The music is lovely, too. And penguins are neat; I just love to look at them. But on the other hand, we have the cobbled-together narrative, intoned by Morgan Freeman, which humanizes the penguins too much, and looks at their journey as something instigated by love and driven by ambition. The wonders of nature don't need anthropomorphizing to make them more interesting; in fact, all it does is make them more mundane and less wonderful. I can't believe this documentary won the Oscar over Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and the excellent Grizzly Man, which wasn't even nominated. **1/2 stars; it's a good kiddie movie, but it could and should have been much more.

Like a Kid in a Candy Store

My mom came over this weekend, and while we were driving around DeKalb, we just happened to glide past the residence towers at NIU, I was astonished to see a horde of teenage girls in shorts walking into the buildings. It was like the Gathering down there; wave after wave of girls walking in one direction like the March of the Penguins. And, of course, my mom is in the car, so I'm trying to hide my excitement.

ME (affecting a casual tone): What's going on here? Are they doing one of those camps for high schoolers?

MOM: They do some sort of cheerleader gathering here, some kind of convention.

ME: Wow, there must be 300 girls here.

MOM: Probably more than that.

ME (unable to keep it inside): Really? Wow... I feel like a kid in a candy store...

MOM (extremely disappointed in me): Don't they look like they're about 12?

ME (dreamily): Yeah...

MOM: Just keep driving, pervert!

Well, it was an interesting day. It's not like I slowed down the car and put "Little Red Riding Hood" by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs on the tape deck. Not with my mom in the car. I was still going the speed limit. But what a sight.

Here's another conversation we had on the same day after seeing Clerks II.

MOM: Well, when you and Carl talk, it's not like that, is it?

ME: Well, like I always say, Ma, I don't fucking notice when I fucking say "fuck," so how the fuck am I supposed to stop fucking saying it?

MOM: No, I don't care about that. I mean, you know... the subject matter.

ME: What, donkey shows? It's not like I've never seen a chick blow a mule before.

MOM: I don't want to know!

ME (enjoying winding her up): I mean, not in person, but online. I've seen women fuck dogs, too. And one time I heard a man fucking chicken, and I promise you, the sound of a violated chicken moaning in pleasure is a horrible thing you just can't forget.

MOM: Oh, Jesus! So, are you Dante and is Carl Randal?

ME: Umm... I wouldn't say that, no...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Advertising Junk

1. The new Candies ad kind of makes me sick. MTV creation Cheyenne Kimball is in color, and Pat Benatar is in black & white, until the magic of some unknown dime-a-dozen hack makes her, what, relevant again? Thanks, I'm only 30 and I already feel obsolete.

2. What's with the new K-Y Jelly campaign? It's one long ad for buttfucking. Even as they claim that K-Y has other purposes, the whole ad hinges on buttfucking. Women entice their slave husbands to do anything they want because, you know, you might get to buttfuck your wife tonight. It's insulting, is what it is. Guys, quit letting your wives lead you around by your cocks and just buttfuck the hot redhead in the office like God intended.

3. Why doesn't NASA go in for corporate sponsoring? I mean, I know it's supposed to be science and noble and all, but the fact is, NASA does not have anything near the operating funds that it should. So, why not find a way to put patches on the spacesuits like those NASCAR rednecks? Find a way to paint some signs onto the shuttle (hell, with the endorsement money, maybe we can actually build something new that won't fall apart in space, like we should already be able to do, except the president doesn't give a shit about it). Put a big Coca-Cola symbol on the bottom of the shuttle. I don't care, as long as it gets NASA the money it needs to put us into space. Hell, all of America will soon be sponsored by some corporation anyway, so why not just accept it?

Monday, July 31, 2006

Dear God, Don't Look In His Eyes!

Some things Mel Gibson said to the arresting officer when he was picked up for drunk driving:

"My life is fucked."

"I'm not going to get into your car."

"You motherfucker. I'm going to fuck you."

"I own Malibu, and I will spend all of my money to get even with you."

"Fucking Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?"

To a female sergeant: "What do you think you're looking at, sugar tits?"

Mel Gibson, a sad, alcoholic, anti-Semitic misogynist? Well, yeah, that sounds about right. I mean, it's not like this is the first time we've heard about him acting this way. Anyway, go to this TMZ story to read how the always-look-the-other-way-for-white-celebrities LA County Sheriff's department allegedly tried to cover all of this up. Posted by Picasa