Saturday, February 22, 2003

THE POST'S "APOLOGY": From today's Page Six:
Sandy Koufax, an apology

A TWO-SENTENCE blind item we ran here Dec. 19 about a "Hall of Fame baseball hero" has sparked a series of unfortunate consequences for which we are very sorry. The item said the sports hero "cooperated with a best-selling biography only because the author promised to keep secret that he is gay." Two weeks later, the Daily News' Michael Gross, after finding "Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy" by Jane Leavy on the best-seller list, named Koufax as the player and ran a photo of him. Koufax himself, an intensely private man, was deeply offended by our item. The author has denied making any deal with Koufax and called our item "erroneous." We apologize to both Koufax and Leavy for getting it wrong.


1. The blaming of Gross is disingenuous to the max. Any fool with half a brain -- including me -- could have easily noted that there was only one baseball biography on the best-seller lists that was written by a woman. The Post named Koufax with the un-blindest item ever -- it was as blind as an item that referred to "an well-known Long Island-based portly piano man with a drinking problem" -- and has no business blaming others for identifying the obvious subject.

2. "has sparked a series of unfortunate consequences for which we are very sorry": Me? I'd be sorry for the initial lie. The Post doesn't seem to be. They just seem to be sorry that it's hurting the Dodgers.

3. "for getting it wrong": What's the "it", here? Are they admitting to being wrong on their being a deal between Leavy and Koufax (it seems so), or on the allegation about Koufax himself (unclear)?

There is no excuse for poorly-sourced reporting, especially on matters as personal and private as these for Mr. Koufax, and with such damaging effects on Ms. Leavy's reputation as well. Shame, shame, shame -- for the initial item, and now, for a half-assed apology.

Now, can I get back to talking about Joe Millionaire?

Friday, February 21, 2003

THE SCORE BARD STRIKES AGAIN: Reacting to a story in today's Philadelphia Daily News on Bobby Abreu (pronounced uh-BRAY-you) -- Phillies RF, Venezuela native and all-around great player -- the Bard notes:
"What's great about Bobby Abreu,"
Says Bowa, "He'll never dismeu."
He just gives his best
And will not protest,
Whatever you ask, he'll obeu."

I'm headed home.
THE NEAR-GREAT MOVIES: Part two of a continuing series. Today: My Best Friend's Wedding.

Starring Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, Rupert Everett and Dermot Mulroney, MBFW is a fundamentally flawed movie. It just doesn't work. But the ways in which it doesn't work tell you everything you'll ever need to know about what makes romantic comedies work when they do work, and for that reason, it's one of my favorite movies to talk about and revisit.

This is a triangle movie that skips the Boy Meets Girl part and jumps right into Girl Loses Boy And Needs To Get Her Back. Nothing wrong there. Many of the elements of great romantic comedy are in place: the Trusted, Witty Friend; the haughty parents; the miscommunications and the madcap chases.

The cast is solid. In particular, Everett is just plain fabulous as George Downes, the wise, gay editor who comes in to save the day for Our Heroine Julia.

And the premise is sound: two long-time friends (Roberts, Mulroney) had promised that if neither married by the age of 28, they'd marry. Only Mulroney just found love on his own, in the form of Kimmy Wallace (Diaz), a nineteen year-old University of Chicago architecture major (and yes, there are at least three things wrong with that clause). So now Roberts realizes she wants him back, wants to break up the wedding and uses her friend (Everett) to pose as her fiancee as a distraction from her machinations. Will she succeed in breaking them up? Will anyone find true love? It's a great setup for a movie . . .

. . . and yet, it just doesn't work. Why? Because in a Julia Roberts Movie, Julia Roberts is supposed to end up with the man. I don't care if it's Pretty Woman or Mystic Pizza or Notting Hill or Runaway Bride or even Erin Brockovich -- if Julia is the star, Julia's gets a happy ending, including The Guy. And, [spoiler], this time, she doesn't.

But that's not all: not only does she not win The Guy, we don't really want her to. Instead of being Our Hero Julia, the Julia of MBFW becomes increasingly unsympathetic as she tries to break up the wedding of Mulroney and Diaz. She plays dirty, and not in a cute way. (Also, she smokes, and Good Girls Don't Smoke In Movies.) This movie absolutely frustrates your expectations for romantic comedy by not wanting you to root for The Name Above The Title, and it's a striking choice.

Not only do we not want her to succeed in breaking them up, the movie doesn't convince us to root for Diaz and Mulroney either. Diaz is a likeable enough ditz, but Mulroney's character is just a blank slate --an "underwritten, blankly rendered pretty-boy", as one review put it, and so we don't really want anyone to end up with him. We just don't care.

The only character we do care about? The gay guy. Does he end up with anyone? Of course not.

So why watch this movie? First off, as I said, it's so obvious what's missing that you will keep rescripting it in your head until it works -- that either Julia and Dermot are supposed to be together, and it works, because there will be some Big Flaw they'll discover with Kimmy; or Julia realizes she's not meant to be with him (which she does in the movie), but she still finds someone else, because movies require happy endings, not wistful ones. Under the Law of Economy of Character Development, however, that should be The Friend, but in that case, he can't be gay, which would strip this movie of its best character. Choices have to be made.

[See? But once you figure out what this movie needed, you can plot 90% of Hollywood's romantic comedies just by hearing the premise.]

Secondly, and just as important, this movie gets all the little things right. Every supporting role is well-thought, well-cast and memorable. I haven't watched the movie in years but I can still remember the details -- the Burt Bacharach songs, Diaz's older sisters, the kids with the helium, the guy with the giant lobster-claw mittens -- really cute, amusing throwaway stuff that works. While the core of this cake was poorly-baked, the icing makes you smile.

I really despised this movie when I first saw it. I was just so frustrated with all the ways it messed with my expectations that I couldn't appreciate the movie which was made. My Best Friend's Wedding is not a great movie by any stretch, but its flaws make it one of the most interesting movies out there. Rent it.

Next week: Point Break? Top Secret? To be determined.
THE BEST DISINFECTANT: I feel bad today.

I feel bad because my counter's telling me that I'm getting a lot of hits today for people searching for "koufax" and "gay" -- I'm #3 on Google right now for that. I feel bad because I don't want to be part of a machine that furthers the publication of gossip that is alleged to be untrue, even if Koufax is the one who's put this story back in the news.

Then again, I can't read into your motives to know why you're looking up information on the subject -- maybe it's to look up further denials, rather than the initial allegations. Maybe just to find more news on Koufax's current actions. Regardless, I'd rather you were coming here for something else, and I hope you'll enjoy the other content this site has to offer, including the stuff about someone else who shouldn't be perpetuating bad rumors about himself. Or Nell Carter, or my theory on the Oscar category for Best Documentary Feature.

I was thinking about this last night as I was considering a post on a show I saw on ABC last night, a "reality" program so debased that were trying to appeal to any lower audience demands it could only add fart jokes and full frontal nudity, and, really, it's about 75% of the way there already.

The show was so bad, I don't even want to encourage you to watch it just so you can confirm how bad it is. It's so bad, there's not even an angle from which to mock it, because it's conscious of its own depravity and, in fact, caters to it. The only thing that could make the show better would be if everyone involved in the show -- the creators, hosts and contestants -- were all placed in Oswald State Correctional Facility for crimes against humanity.

The show aspires to be trash, and it succeeds. Bravo. Way to make your parents proud.

It's so bad that I don't want to even call more attention to its existence. And yet, by posting this, I will. (At least, I won't name it.)

Just don't watch it. Please. For your own safety. Because television is only going to get worse from here, unless we demand that it get a little better.
OUR NATION NEEDS MORE POETS: Thankfully, the Score Bard, America's best poet specializing in the field of baseball verse, has established a website compiling his work:
On Trevor Hoffman having surgery:

The Padres without injured Trevor
Have likely no chance whatsoever.
Without a clear heir,
They don't have a prayer,
Though I guess you should never say never.

My favorite of his works followed the decision of that the time was right to charge for content this season, and it's good in at least fifty ways:
The problem has hit me mostly economically
What is a Nickle worth, and what about Penny?
My favorite web site now no longer will be free
I must pay forty bucks to read my BP.

I asked, "Is 40 bucks a price that is so wise?"
The answer is easy if you care to analyze
That is the price where revenues will maximize
I must pay forty bucks to read my BP.
Forty bucks to read my BP.

That's what it Costas, Bob.
It's not too Deer, Rob.
Fork up the Cash, Norm.
And stay informed....

The poem continues here.

The website also features The Random Diamond Notes Generator, providing perfect facsimiles of Peter Gammons' analysis. Good stuff.
KOUFAX'S BRUSHBACK: Remember that item I posted in December about the Page Six rumor that Sandy Koufax was gay?

Well, Koufax himself saw that Page Six item, and has responded in kind:
Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax, whose brilliance on the mound captivated fans in the 1960s and defined the Dodgers' greatest era in Los Angeles, has severed ties with the club in protest of another News Corp. subsidiary.

Koufax, a very private man who established a standard for pitching excellence in four of the most dominant seasons in the game's history from 1963-66, recently informed the Dodgers he would no longer attend spring training here at Dodgertown, visit Dodger Stadium or participate in activities while they are owned by the media conglomerate, because of a report in the New York Post that apparently intimated that he is homosexual. The Post is owned by News Corp. . . .

Contacted Thursday by The Times, [Jane] Leavy, a former Washington Post reporter, said she assumed the item was about her book [on Koufax]. She called it "thoroughly erroneous on all counts. [The item] was blatantly unfair, scandalous and contemptible. It was thoroughly without basis in so far as it had to do with Sandy or any relationship I had with him professionally. It's not the kind of journalism I practice."

Can't say I blame him. Not one bit. The initial gossip item was as far from "blind" as can be, and such baseless, invasive rumor-spreading has no business in legitimate publications. Or The New York Post, for that matter.
GET YOUR HIGH HORSE ON: Roger Ebert has not given out a zero-star review since February 1, 2002. Until today.

The zero-star is a special place in Ebert's hell, a rare level of dishonor few can achieve, and such reviews tend to be full of bon mots like this:
This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels.

Many years ago, when surrealism was new, Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali made "Un Chien Andalou," a film so shocking that Bunuel filled his pockets with stones to throw at the audience if it attacked him. [Tom] Green, whose film is in the surrealist tradition, may want to consider the same tactic. The day may come when "Freddy Got Fingered" is seen as a milestone of neo-surrealism. The day may never come when it is seen as funny.

And this:
``Little Indian, Big City'' is one of the worst movies ever made. I detested every moronic minute of it. Through a stroke of good luck, the entire third reel of the film was missing the day I saw it. I went back to the screening room two days later, to view the missing reel. It was as bad as the rest, but nothing could have saved this film. As my colleague Gene Siskel observed, ``If the third reel had been the missing footage from Orson Welles' `The Magnificent Ambersons,' this movie still would have sucked.'' I could not have put it better myself.

Or this, the classic North review:
I have no idea why Rob Reiner, or anyone else, wanted to make this story into a movie, and close examination of the film itself is no help. "North" is one of the most unpleasant, contrived, artificial, cloying experiences I've had at the movies. To call it manipulative would be inaccurate; it has an ambition to manipulate, but fails. . . .

I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.

Today, February 21, 2003, the zero-star club has a new member:
The acting in "The Life of David Gale" is splendidly done but serves a meretricious cause. The direction is by the British director Alan Parker, who at one point had never made a movie I wholly disapproved of. Now has he ever. The secrets of the plot must remain unrevealed by me, so that you can be offended by them yourself, but let it be said this movie is about as corrupt, intellectually bankrupt and morally dishonest as it could possibly be without David Gale actually hiring himself out as a joker at the court of Saddam Hussein. . . .

Spacey and Parker are honorable men. Why did they go to Texas and make this silly movie? The last shot made me want to throw something at the screen--maybe Spacey and Parker.

You can make movies that support capital punishment ("The Executioner's Song") or oppose it ("Dead Man Walking") or are conflicted ("In Cold Blood"). But while Texas continues to warehouse condemned men with a system involving lawyers who are drunk, asleep or absent; confessions that are beaten out of the helpless, and juries that overwhelmingly prefer to execute black defendants instead of white ones, you can't make this movie. Not in Texas.

Of course, this is the same Alan Parker who made a wretched movie about the civil rights movement that painted blacks as helpless victims and FBI agents as the only heroes, but, strangely, Ebert really liked that one.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

WHEN NUMBERS GET SERIOUS: Simon and Garfunkel "are set to reunite for a series of concerts which would see them earn hundreds of millions of dollars," that is, if they can work out how much of it Artie's getting.
OBLIGATORY JOE MILLIONAIRE UPDATE: He doesn't love her, the New York Daily News reports. But someone else does.
I CAN'T IMAGINE NORA DUNN WAS THAT BUSY: This is not a political blog.

But let me ask this. If is going to survey "prominent people in politics, the arts, entertainment, business, and other fields to answer the following question: Do you favor a U.S. invasion of Iraq?", do you think that, just maybe, they could've asked more than four women out of twenty-seven people surveyed in all?

The Nineteenth Amendment was ratified on August 16, 1920.
OF COURSE! Former Amherst Student opinion editor Russ Hanser thinks he's solved the mystery of the bizarre column from last night:
The author obviously seeks to unpack the layered meanings animating the postmodern, poststructuralist, postcolonial (postpartum?) “reality show” – a genre not unlike those long enjoyed by such luminaries as Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Gary (or was it Dabney?) Coleman. The author fails to recognize that the “reality show” in fact endeavors to spin a subversive narrative by adopting a subaltern approach to the plight of oppressed “competitors,” engaged in the quest for power, where control over symbols (a rose, a necklace, a phallic “immunity idol”) confers sexual hegemony, material comfort, and endorsement deals aplenty. But inevitably, the dignity of the contestants is ultimately consumed by the inherent dialectical force of the contest, as each “subject” becomes just another “object” deployed to advance the network’s discourse of domination.

Indeed. Email me if you've got other ideas.
HE WAS APPEALING, I GUESS: Howard Bashman of the essential How Appealing blog asked me what I thought of the "final episode" (they put in quotes, not me) of The Bachelorette last night.

I wasn't a fan of The Bachelor, versions one or two, because I just find it ludicrous that a couple could find twue wuv from appearing on a television show. In the short history of reality tv, only Pam and Judd from Real World: San Francisco seem to have made it work, and they didn't start dating until after the show and weren't married until five years later.

Now, I hadn't seen anything but the pilot episode and the last hour of last night's episode, but details like that don't usually stop me. All I knew were the spoilers -- namely, that Trista was already pregnant with Charlie's baby -- and so I was really only watching for dramatic irony potential, the schadenfreude of knowing when someone's about to get dumped.

Only, of course, it didn't happen, and Ryan won, and the boards are happy and surprised. As for me, I was entertained by the surprise, and I wish them the best, but expect, well, reality.

It strikes me that "reality show" as a genre is such a broad term that we need some clarification and delineation at this point, because to put "The Bachelorette" and "Fear Factor" in the same genre seems ludicrous. Here, then, is a provisional taxonomy:
1. Competition shows: Take some people, and a contrived, often isolated setting and a set of rules which gradually eliminates contestants, and see who wins. See "Survivor", "The Amazing Race", "American Idol", "The Mole". My favorite subgenre.

2. Dating shows: Really, a subset of #1. Dating shows are competitions where the stated goal is love, not money. Again, it's in a contrived, generally isolated location. "The Bachelor", "Bachelorettes In Alaska", "Joe Millionaire", "Love Cruise". I'll only watch them if there's something inadvertantly entertaining going on, like the editing of Joe Millionaire or the lumber-dorks of Alaska.

3. Game/stunt shows: There's a competition, but no ongoing narrative between the episodes. Rewards are instantaneous. "Fear Factor", "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire", "Are You Hot?", that thing with John McEnroe that lasted about two minutes. I don't watch 'em.

4. Observational shows: We're going to put a bunch of you somewhere, but we're not going to overly structure what happens. There is no "prize" to win at the end. "The Real World", "The Osbournes". If the cast is good, can be compulsively watchable, but lack of structure means that if the people aren't interesting (as with most Real World seasons), I'll stop watching after week two.

That's the basics. There are two additional glosses to note:

a. Genres can be combined. "Big Brother" and "Sorority Life" are both observational-plus-competition, although the competition in "Big Brother" was contrived, while in "Sorority Life" it was organic to the reality being filmed.

b. Just as every fortune cookie can have the words "in bed" appended to the end, every category of reality show can have "celebrity" as a modifer. See "Celebrity Mole", "Star Dates", "Celebrity Fear Factor", "The Surreal Life", "The Osbournes", "I'm A Celebrity: Get Me Out Of Here!" These shows tend to have a level of celebrity bottom-feeding that's disturbing to watch. I mean, okay, Maria Conchita Alonso's star may have fallen, but competing in the rainforest with Stuttering John and Melissa Rivers isn't winning anyone any cred points.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STUDENT: Every week, I look forward to reading the new edition of The Amherst Student, my alma mater's campus newspaper, for which I was a sports editor for two years.

That said, can someone please explain this column in the new edition:
It’s not as simple as alliances and good versus evil, the fight for attention and the quest for victory. This diversion, this reality show, empowers the audience to one extent and undermines them to another. Should we tune out when the government tells us to tune in? I will continue to watch these programs; they are not interfering with the sense of who I am, although they may mask and disguise my fears, even if only for an hour. But in the remaining hours of the day, I am left to confront the fact that I do not live in a reality show where everything is apparent to the viewer, easy and digestible. I deal with the fact that I am in a complex world of truths, both hidden and visible, mostly covert, and I cannot predict the outcome. It is dealing with these truths, instead of allowing myself to virtually escape that will ultimately prove if I can function in the unstable state of our nation.

Seriously, I think I'm fairly hip with the lingo the kids are dropping these days, but, with this one, I'm, like, apretentiouscollegestudentsayswhat? Could someone please translate this into English, and tell me what point the author is trying to make? Seriously. Email me if you can make heads or tails out of this, and I'll post the best responses.

Finally, the Student does a great service by publishing the campus crime log every week. This week's highlights:
January 21, 2003

10:01 p.m., Crossett: Officers responded to a report of someone lying on the ground. The officers found a student who was using a telescope to view the stars.

January 24, 2003

10:45 p.m., Hamilton House:
Officers found and confiscated a large amount of hard alcohol in the basement common room in preparation for an unauthorized party.

That second item apparently refers to the fact that the campus rent-a-cops took it upon themselves to shut down the debate team's party, and that ain't right. Debaters shouldn't have to fight for their right to party.

That said, shouldn't a college debate team have been able to persuade the officers to change their minds?
ORANGE ROOFS: Great William Grimes article in today's New York Times on the demise of Howard Johnson's Restaurants as a cultural institution, prompted by the potential closing of the Times Square HoJos, one of only eleven remaining HoJos in America.

Grimes performs both sociology and food criticism with great skill in the piece. Here's the setup:
Either way, HoJo's future now seemed shaky to me. I had walked past the place hundreds of times in the last quarter-century without ever eating there. True, I was never entirely convinced that the restaurant actually existed. It was more like a hallucination than a fact, but not crossing the threshold was a little like living in Washington and never visiting the Jefferson Memorial. For a food critic, it seemed like gross dereliction of duty. I decided to take action. I would eat at HoJo's.

How did the clam strips hold up? What does legendary chef Jacques Pépin have to do with it? You can read the article here (registration required).

Who needs faux nostalgia when the real stuff's still out there?

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

TENACIOUS: We apparently flooded and disabled the previous links to the video footage of Zachary "Tenacious Z" Gowen, the one-legged wrestler recently signed to a WWE contract. So go here instead (and scroll down a little) to see this remarkable young man do his thing.

Gowen lost his left leg to cancer at the age of eight. Whatever you think of professional wrestling (and, admittedly, it's probably not much), this is a pretty cool story.

edited to add: aw, shucks, now that cached video isn't loading either. I'll see what I can do.
ATTACK OF THE JOE MILLIONAIRE CLONES: Is this what Fox will do for an encore?

(picture deleted from blog because it wasn't loading properly, so click on the link instead)

Via TWoP.
CALAYA NIAMH AND RELATED ATROCITIES: I was recently pointed towards this website, a compendium of bad baby names posted on public message boards and snarky responses thereto. A sampler:
we would love to get some imput for anyone out there; what does everyone think of Chase? (we endearingly call her Chasey or Chasey-Mae) Her full name is Francesca Brandlynn; this way, though we hope she loves "Chase" too; she will have options; she can go with Fran' Chesa, or Frannie or Franka or Chasen...

Upon her birth, Francesca Brandlynn's parents had the horrifying realization: They had fallen behind in the mad dash to come up with the strangest name they could and soon, the Soviets would perfect the Ultimate Dumb-Ass Name. Francesca's parents knew the U.S. could not afford a Weird Name Gap, and began renaming their child over and over, each getting stranger and more distant from her original name.

The child was later mistaken for an amnesiac when, asked by a police officer what her name was she said, crying, "I don't know."

I am going to have a baby girl in May, and I'm having trouble with her name. Her middle name has to be Marissa, because my friend Marissa, made her baby's middle name my name. OK I like Raven Marissa, Daysha Marissa,and Kiandra Marissa, but I can't decide which. A few people have said that Raven sounds like a stripper, but I think it's pretty! HELP ME!

Daysha and Kiandra Marissa look like Jumble questions to me.

I'd like opinions please. How does Summer Banner sound. I really love the name Summer but don't know if it goes with our last name.

I like Runner Mummer Funner Tanner Dumber Gunner Bunter Punter. For a boy.

i wanted to name my girl Heaven but i have been getting alot of mixed reactions to it. is it to weird?

No one liked my choice of "Solace" for my second daughter. I loved it for it's meaning (comfort). It has grown on the rest of my family though and even strangers tell me what a beautiful, unique name it is.

Really? Is that what "solace" meant? I thought it was part of a turkey for some reason. OK, that's it. I officially declare all nouns off-limits. No Heaven, no Destiny, no Solace. Too much pressure. You just know Heaven will be a miserable bitch, Destiny a welfare queen and Solace in desparate need of Ritalin. No nouns. Not ever. No Hunter, no Colt, no Trinity, no Summer. No River, no Phoenix. No Attica, no Chance, no December. No Aria, no Legend, no god damn Dakota. Have you ever been to either of the Dakotas? Yeah, there's a reason. It's the same reason no one names their kids Iowa, Nebraska, Idaho or Wyoming.

Thank you, Diana Goodman, for this wonderful site. To protect the future potential Kayellas of the world from shame and ridicule, go here and here, and start posting.
NON-CONFORM WITH ME! I can't have been the only one looking for a transcript of the The Simpsons' rib on the Seven Sisters colleges from this week. Courtesy Yeechang Lee, my one-time partner in trolling, here it is:
Lisa, tempted by George Plimpton's offer to "guarantee you a scholarship to the Seven Sisters college of your choice" (plus a George Plimpton-endorsed hot plate) if she takes a dive in the Spelllympics finals, dreams of meeting the colleges personified à la the Muses of Greek mythology.

BARNARD (wearing glasses): We are the Seven Sisters. And you can attend any one of us! Like Barnard, Columbia's "girl next door."

RADCLIFFE: Come to Radcliffe and meet Harvard men.

WELLESLEY: Or come to Wellesley and marry them.

MOUNT HOLYOKE (slurring, champagne glass in hand): No. Party with me! (Falls face first.)

VASSAR: Or nonconform with me! (Raises arms, reveals hairy armpits.)

LISA: Uh . . .

SMITH (muscular, carries lacrosse stick, husky voice): Play lacrosse with me!

BRYN MAWR: Or explore with me! (She and SMITH kiss with passion.)

LISA: No, I don't want to pay for college by throwing a spelling bee!

SISTERS (in unison): Give in, Lisa! Get a free ride!

PLIMPTON: And a hot plate!

SISTERS (holding hands and dancing in a circle around Lisa): Free ride! Free ride! Free ride!

PLIMPTON: And a hot plate!

(LISA wakes up screaming.)
ANDREW SULLIVAN CORRECTION WATCH: It has now been six days since Mr. Sullivan posted, erroneously:
MOORE WILL GET THE OSCAR: Of course he will. These people are in the movie business. They made "A Beautiful Mind" and "Good Will Hunting" the best movies of the year. You think a made-up documentary will stop them?

Cute, except for two things, both of which I pointed out to him in an email six days ago:

1. Good Will Hunting did not win the Oscar for Best Picture. A little movie named Titanic did.

2. As I noted here last week, Bowling for Columbine can't win the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature because it has nothing to do with the Holocaust. Read here for more. Of course, this alleged Moore-loving Academy didn't even nominate Roger and Me, but why let a little historical evidence get in your way?

Will Sullivan, so diligent about calling the NYT to the carpet for every perceived error, correct his own obvious blunder?
UNANSWERED QUESTIONS: Still, last night's Joe Millionaire finale left a few lingering questions. To wit:

1. Where was alleged "host" Alex McLeod last night? Heck, where was she for the whole series? What happened there?

2. How much did the editors futz willy-nilly with the sequence of events to create more dramatic television? Should we care?

3. Just how much did Evan Marriott drink during the course of the show?

4. Okay, what was up with Sarah and the sock?

5. If Michael Jackson posed as a $19,000/yr construction worker on a reality tv show, would he still get teenage boys to hang out with him?

Monday, February 17, 2003

THE MONEY SHOT TO TOP ALL MONEY SHOTS: So, as it turned out, money didn't rule Joe Millionaire, and neither did love, really, though I guess we'll have to wait a week to find out if Evan has managed to squeeze in any time with Zora given his busy celebrity schedule.

No, what really ruled Joe Millionaire was the editors. Man, give those people a hand, and then some. Tonight's padded first hour featured some great comedic sequences -- Evan's repeated problems with champagne corks, MoJo's eyebrow-raising proclivities, Melissa's "ohmygod!" refrains, etc. -- things the editors picked up on to deliver, as they had throughout the season, a great comedy in which the participants were entirely unaware.

Yes, like The Amazing Race, the genius of Joe Millionaire was the show's ability to cast well and deliver comedy in unanticipated circumstances. This wasn't about Evan finding love, or Evan lying about his background -- surprising little of which we really ended up seeing. It was about this doofus hunk charming his way across France, and, by gum, there's something about the dumb galoot that's awfully entertaining.

I mean, damn, there was something nice and genuine about the smiles at the end of that episode, when the million-dollar bonus was revealed. Sure, Evan and Zora kinda seemed happier about finding the money than finding each other. But so what? They were happy, and it felt real, and for a few minutes, it felt good to be a television viewer, privileged to view uncomplicated human emotions from a pair of decent people.

Then, of course, we switched over to watch the Michael Jackson stuff on NBC, and felt dirty again. We get the point already: he's a freak, and we shouldn't let our kids play with him, and he's really rich, and he's a freak. Maybe this love of scandal does mean that, as a culture, we're over 9/11, but, really, should we be proud of this fact, or ashamed?
HE FIXES THE CABLE? Well, fixed enough. Our neighbor suggested routing the cable line directly into our VCR and bypassing the cable box. It worked. We don't get every channel, but we get Fox for tonight and Comedy Central SNL reruns all day, and that's enough to keep a young man happy.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

MY NAME IS BLANKET: Excerpts from the autobiography of Prince Michael "Blanket" Jackson II, to be published in 2046, are available here.
AND ANOTHER THING: For what it's worth, according to my tracker among the searches most likely to have brought you here are "Frenchie Davis topless" (and variations thereof), "Evan Marriot" and "Julia DeMato breasts" -- none of which, of course, I have pictures of -- but there's a sleeper now: someone in the Hoosier State did a Google search for "syntactic ambiguity of movie title", and, God bless her, it led her here. Wow. I'm not even sure what that means.
WELL, AT LEAST SMILLA IS HAPPY: Up to twenty inches of snow are now expected by tomorrow night for the Philadelphia area.

Last week, at this moment, I was playing volleyball on a beach in Jamaica. Now, we're stuck at home and the cable's not working. C'est la vie.