Saturday, March 5, 2005

YOU MADE YOUR BED, NOW LIE IN IT. TOY-O-TA: Apropos of nothing, remember the old Toyota jingle that went "you asked for it/you got it/Toyota"? Sometimes, when stuck in traffic or in lines, Spacewoman and I like to brainstorm alternative versions of that jingle. Here are some examples:
You reap what you sow. Toyota.
What goes around comes around. Toyota.
This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you, Toyota.
I'm sure you can think of others.
WORD OF THE WEEK: Sometimes, there's a title or piece of dialogue so ludicrous that you can't resist saying it over and over again, even in inappropriate situations. (E.g., "Is this because I'm a lesbian?") This week, that word is clear. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you MANSQUITO!
YES, YOU'RE STILL FIRED: Yesterday's "PTI" reminds us that yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the firing of Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth on "The Apprentice." Obviously, Omarosa is one of the all-time great reality TV villains, arguably single-handedly determining the outcome of the first season with her incompetence. However, needless to say, she has competition from many folks--Richard Hatch, Sue Hawk, and Johnny Fairplay from Survivor, John Stevens from AI, Wendy Pepper from Project Runway, the "bitch that pulled beer in my weave" from ANTM, Jonathan, Mirna, and Colin from TAR. So, let's talk--who's your "favorite" reality TV villain?

Friday, March 4, 2005

IT'S BETTER THAN "TINY MOIST HAND:" There's really not a whole lot to say about The Jacket, which attempts to cover up narrative incoherence with rapid-fire editing and "surrealism," and which cribs a major plot point near the end from another, much better film in a similar genre. (Note: clicking that link, coupled with a little thought, could lead to spoilage, though not of a huge huge plot point.)

However, two questions of movie etiquette for discussion. First, behind me was a mother, father, and about 6 year old child. Leaving aside the wisdom of bringing a 6 year old to a movie that's (quite deservedly) rated "R," the child dozed off about half an hour into the movie, but then began to snore--quite loudly--throughout the rest of the movie. Should the parents have removed the child?

Second, and trickier--it's cold in New York right now, so people have coats and bags, etc., and, of course, movie theatres provide no place to put them. I customarily put my coat, hat, and bag on the seat next to me, but will move them if asked. Tonight, as the movie started, my coat and stuff were on the chair to my right, and the person two seats down had their coat and such on the left. While the theatre was crowded, no one asked me to move over before the lights dropped, during the pre-show advertising, or during the trailers. However, shortly after the movie began, a couple arrived, and asked that I move over. I said that because the movie had started, I would not. They loudly pled, and, realizing that they wouldn't shut up, moved over, but whispered to them that they should consider showing up on time. Question: how should I have handled this situation?
FOR THAT DEAF, DUMB, AND BLIND INNER CHILD: It's the Internet Pinball Database, where you can find out about seemingly every pinball machine ever made, and enjoy adventures in really bad ideas in movie licensing, such as the machines based on "Twister," "Apollo 13,"and yes, that classic film, "Space Jam."
YOU COULD SEE THAT PIERRE DID TRULY LOVE THE MADEMOISELLE: In a generally negative review of Be Cool, Roger Ebert makes the following curious point about a Travolta/Uma dance scene in the movie:
Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction knew that Travolta won the disco contest in Saturday Night Fever. But Tarantino's scene didn't depend on that; it built from it. Travolta was graceful beyond compare in Fever, but in Pulp Fiction he's dancing with a gangster's girlfriend on orders from the gangster, and part of the point of the scene is that both Travolta and Thurman look like they're dancing not out of joy, but out of duty. So we remember Fever and then we forget it, because the new scene is working on its own.

Now, I always thought the point of the scene was that both Vincent Vega and Mrs. Mia Wallace were both already wasted on heroin (but didn't know the other was), and that their dancing was, as a result, just ridiculously funny as their tried to twist through their drug-induced haze.

Or am I wrong, and Ebert right, as I imagine often is the case?

Thursday, March 3, 2005

THE VERY LAST WORD ABOUT THE 2005 ACADEMY AWARDS: It's come to my attention -- and I'm sorry I missed this -- that the Necrology segment somehow left out Spalding Gray, whose death was not confirmed until after last year's ceremony.

That's just wrong.
THE SAD THING IS THAT, INITIALLY, HE CAME TO WORK: There is a great article to be written about the career paths of forgotten winners of reality tv programs, like Last Comic Standing (is Dat Phan funny yet?), Project Greenlight (is Pete Jones working?), All-American Girl (does anyone even remember this show?), Are You Hot? and the like.

Said survey needs to start with the winner of Fame, one Harlemm Lee (or Gerry Woo), who writes on his website:

[A]s of now, I have yet to receive the bulk of the career-enhancing prizes promised to the winner (the "Fast Track to Fame" Prize Package, as it was announced weekly on the show). While I am still in the process of working to have the prizes delivered to me, I am very confused and flabbergasted at this state of affairs, and why it is taking so long to collect my winnings.

My biggest disappointment comes from having been denied the most basic resources needed for promotion, marketing, and distribution which would have enabled me to start a decent entertainment career. The meager and minimal efforts that have been put forth up until this point come across as purely cosmetic and symbolic gestures; it is very clear that there was never any true intent to reach meaningful marketing or promotional objectives which would have helped to establish my career. One need only look at the past year as evidence of this fact.

A year later, the damage is done. I have been completely invisible since winning FAME, and unable to capitalize from all my hard work and national exposure gained from the show. If it weren't for my unemployment checks and my year-long stay at the W Hotel (which I am very grateful for, but ends in August), I would be completely penniless and homeless.

I think it's safe to surmise that Mr. Lee no longer sings the body electric, and could probably use a hot lunch these days.

Note to self: don't trust Debbie Allen.
I'LL GO TALLY THE VOTES: We haven't said word one about the new Survivor yet, but it's starting off pretty interestingly, so these thoughts:
No one's really playing the alliance game yet, and nothing fundamental has changed about the structure of the game. But so far, it's working. Go figure.
AND THEN HE FED 5,000 PEOPLE WITH JUST 3 LOAVES AND 2 FISH: Ah, the joy of reality TV contestants and editing to aggrandize the producer/host--on tonight's Apprentice, "Attorney" contestant Erin actually states (and this is a verbatim quote, courtesy of my TiVo):

"Donald Trump is the mack daddy of the United States. Aside from flying out of the heavens on his own, he came in the most grandiose possible way. Yeah, I'm all about a man with a helicopter. I think that's pretty hot."

Erin then proceeded to demonstrate her utter incompetence at the game of golf with what Trump characterized as her "very very delicate swing."
AND NEXT YEAR'S OSCAR GOES TO...: While the AP's David Germain freely admits that "no one's seen these movies, and some haven't even started shooting, he isn't going to let that stand in the way of a little Oscar forecasting for next year's awards. Among the list of his contenders are Ron Howard's sure-to-be-awful Cinderella Man (what good timing to come out with a boxing movie), Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which subtely goes with the title of the book rather than the first film), and Spielberg light (War of the Worlds) and heavy (an untitled film based on the terrorism at the 1972 Berlin Munich Olympics).

correction via Mark Wade
I FOUGHT JUDE LAW: The target of Chris Rock's Oscar night jabs and star of Lemony Snicket's..., Aviator, Closer, Alfie, Sky Captain..., and I Heart Huckabees, to name a few, can take solace not only in Sean Penn's praise, but the fact that he has landed on Vanity Fair's list of the 20 best-dressed people.

And, according to the this story, things are cool between Rock and Penn, so you can cross that off your list of worries.

One last Oscar note, I hope you drank when you saw that tattoo on Best Actor-winner Jamie Foxx's head. It's only a temp, part of his look, along with the closely shaven head, for his next picture, Jarhead, in which he plays a blind, piano-playing, cab-driving, Gulf War marine.
WE CAN BE THANKFUL AH-NOLD TURNED DOWN "LOST IN TRANSLATION:" To follow up on previous discussions of Hollywood roads not taken, I accidentally came across this tidbit on IMDB today: Bill Murray was offered the role of John Kimble in "Kindergarten Cop" (yes, the Ah-nold role). I can't imagine what that film would have been like.
MY CHIN IS IN CONTEMPT: OK, based on this news story, isn't Jay Leno in contempt of court (for the moment) every time he makes a painfully unfunny Michael Jackson joke? I support leaving the gag order on, not because the jokes will in some way adversely impact Jackson's trial, but because they might force Leno to actually try to actually be funny for once rather than taking potshots at easy targets.
DEAR BRIGITTE, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE GENEROUS GIFT...: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger financial disclosure statement was released this week and among the list of gifts the governor received were a $112.50 silver frame from Rob Lowe, a $120 box of cigars from Tony Robbins, and 48 posters from his 1985 movie Red Sonja from an undisclosed source.
"TAXI WAS LIKE BEING KICKED IN THE BALLS BY MY DVD PLAYER FOR TWO HOURS:" Any review with that phrase in it is worth linking to in my book, and the true shock is that even though the reviewer (AICN's Drew McWeeny) says that and a number of other wholly deserved not nice things about this blog's favorite whipping boy, Jimmy Fallon, he loves the forthcoming Fever Pitch.
SO WILL LOUISE BE VEEP? Rod Lurie, maestro of movies good ("The Contender") and bad ("Deterrence"), and master of unusual casting (David Paymer as a brutal Irish mobster who has a nude scene? Kevin Pollak as POTUS?) will return to TV next season with "Commander in Chief," a drama about the first female president of the U.S. So who do you get to play the new President? Joan Allen, so good in "The Contender?" Glenn Close, now doing "The Shield" and so good on "West Wing" last season? Nope, you hire noted Mensan and Olympic archery contestant Geena Davis. Somehow, I have my doubts.
RONNIE LOTT HAS HIS FINGER ON IT: Any man who has his finger cut off in the locker room so he can get back in the game obviously has more brass than John Phillip Sousa. But even Ronnie Lott knows the limits of competition:
Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott, the former San Francisco 49ers great, took the witness stand in an Oakland courtroom this morning, testifying that the numerous team speeches he gave over his 14-year career never included suggestions to punch a teammate.

There's more on the Bill Romanowski-Marcus Williams trial here, and here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

LUB DUB, LUB DUB, LUB DUB: So, our daughter visited the giant walk-through heart at the Franklin Institute for the first time this week, and it had me thinking about favorite museum experiences when I was a kid.

I was a huge fan of the Ontario Science Centre when my dad took us to Toronto with all its interactive exhibits, and the assembly line at the Boston Children's Museum.

But my heart, as it were, was the Giant Heart at the Franklin Institute, with its massive twisting arterial tunnels, veins and lung passages. And the massive Baldwin locomotive. And, oh, wow, the van de Graaf generator, showing the effects of electricity on unsuspecting long-haired kids. The Franklin Institute gave me a life-long love of science that, um, ended around 11th grade, when AP Chemistry just got too damn hard.

So tell us a story about a museum or an exhibit that you enjoyed as a kid. (Bonus for stories that contain the phrase "there used to be . . . ")
THE OTHER GATES: It's hard to imagine Bill Gates having a bad week, but even he must be sporting a slightly bigger grin this week. Not only was the Microsoft man knighted by the Queen of England (joining a list of other Americans such as presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, comedian Bob Hope, retired U.S. Army Gen. Tommy Franks and former Secretary of State Colin Powell in being able to use the honorary KBE after their name, but not "sir," which is reserved for those in the Empire), but Gates and his wife, Melinda, also topped the of the Slate 60, a list of the country's biggest philanthropists. The Gates foundation has a $3.4 billion bequest, $800 million more than No. 2, Warren Buffett. And, Gates also tops CNN's list of the most influential businessman of the last 25 years, beating out Sam Walton, Jack Welch, and Buffett (again).
WELL, IT WORKED FOR HARVEY FIERSTEIN: According to Cindy Adams in today's New York Post, producers of the mediocre Broadway revival of "La Cage Aux Folles," starring that guy from "The Nanny" and, guy want Donald Trump to play Messr. Dindon, the show's villain, an uptight right-wing polictician (and the part played by Gene Hackman in "The Bird Cage"). Fortunately, Dindon doesn't sing, though there is a drag sequence for him, so we wouldn't be subjected to that. Additional stunt casting will surely follow, including Carolyn Kepcher in the upcoming "Steel Magnolias" revival and George Ross as the snarky grandfather in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."
SELL-OUTS MADE: I would not be offended if Jello Biafra sold a license to the Cambodia tourist board. I am, nevertheless, glad that Bruce Hornsby sold his new tune "Changes Made" to a Lowe's Home Improvement advert almost the same time the album was released, long before I might have grown attached to it.
RAGNAR! the musical... Yo, ho, yo ho ho a pirate's life for me.
NICE WORK, IF YOU CAN GET IT #2: Finding jobs that require thought to be a bit too intense? How about getting paid to stand in line, as the WaPo's Libby Copeland reports:
Waiting 10, 20, 30 hours outside the House or the Senate, holding a place in line so some well-pressed lobbyist can sit upfront at a congressional hearing and bat eyes at all the right people -- this is democracy, or something like it. More importantly, it's a job.

And they said that kids weren't interested in government work anymore.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

THIS IS, LIKE, OUR GOOD DEED FOR THE NEXT THIRTY DAYS: Oh, thank goodness for diverse, interesting casting. TAR7 is here, and there's not a model in sight!

Instead, we've got lovable hillbillies, the return of Team I Love My Dead Gay Son, a team Jen quickly identified as Team Low Motility, Prisoners of Love and, of course, Rahb and Ambuh, who wind up pulling off one of the sleekest anti-bunch maneuvers you'll see in a Race.

Snot-nosed llamas, wacky hats, and a split-second finish -- what more could you want?
NICE WORK, IF YOU CAN GET IT: In 1998, noted stiff white center Matt Geiger inexplicably netted a six-year, $51 million guaranteed contract from the Philadelphia 76ers (a bargain by today's standards,); by 2001, injuries forced him out of the game.

But Matt still had $24 million coming to him. So, what to do with it? Live very large:
And, of course, there's the $13.5-million, 28,500-square-foot home itself - for the record, the largest residence in Pinellas County and the second-biggest in Tampa Bay . . . Then again, even the cribs featured on MTV would have a hard time touching this renowned party palace and ultimate bachelor pad.

How do you top the 40 TVs all hooked up by satellite, the 18 TV sets all wired together with Xbox so Geiger and his old high school pals can play each other simultaneously in Halo shootouts, the 330,000-gallon pool out back with a cooking area designed by Outback, the winding water slide down a faux tropical island mountain, and the 5,200-square-foot guest house overlooking it all?

Or how about the 9,000-square-foot downstairs entertainment floor? It features a restaurant-like bar the size of the one in which everybody knows your name on Cheers, an enclosed cigar bar, a poker room, a self-contained movie theater, a TV sports zone with cushy sofas facing a wall filled with big-screen TVs, a 3,000-gallon shark tank and a home gym slicker than some with a monthly fee.

Then there's his menagerie of animals grazing outside in a fenced pasture, including 12 buffalo, 11 Watusi cattle, two donkeys, a miniature horse and one cow.

Yes, Sixers fans, there are pictures. Yes, they will make you angry.
AND I THOUGHT I KNEW HOW TO WASTE TIME: This New Yorker piece on pop music ringtones is just filled with goodness, including:
A kid I met on the subway told me that his mother doesn’t like his new 50 Cent ringtone, “Candy Shop,” not because it features explicitly sexual rhymes but because it’s not as cool as “In Da Club,” a previous 50 Cent ringtone, which received Billboard’s first Ringtone of the Year award, in 2004. A karate teacher in his thirties told me that he spends ten dollars a month on ringtones, and currently has about twenty, most of them polyphonic renditions of Led Zeppelin songs. An architect in her mid-thirties said, “I spent three days of productive work time listening to polyphonic ringtone versions of speed metal, trying to find exactly the ringtone that expressed my personality with enough irony and enough coolness that I could live with it going off ten times a day. In a quiet room, in a meeting, this phone’s gonna go off—what are they going to
Add to this the revelation that author Sasha-Frere Jones at one point had Kelis' "Milkshake" as a ringtone, which apparently brought all the boys to the yard, and you got good reading.

Hat tip to Lindsayism for the link.
ALSO, RUTHERFORD B. HAYES WAS NOT ELECTED PRESIDENT IN 1876: In the category of "futile but nonetheless amusing guestures," we bring you this online petition, which seeks to have Red Sox left-fielder Mike Greenwell retroactively declared the winner of the 1988 American League Most Valuable Player award.
QUESTION FOR THE NEW YORKERS: People seem to love photographing the Gates. Photographing aside, do New Yorkers like the Gates?
DEAR PTC: WE RECEIVED YOUR IMAGINARY COMPLAINT. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO IMAGINE THAT WE HAVE FINED FOX A JILLION DOLLARS. SINCERELY, THE FCC: ALOTT5MA Chief Legal Correspondent Ted -- who won the job with truly impressive graft, I say to all other title-seekers out there -- points out that the FCC rejected an indecency complaint that the Parents Television Council brought against Fox's funny-because-it's-obscene redheaded stepchild Arrested Development. Upon viewing an episode in which a character burns himself and lets loose with a bleeped-out string of expletives, the PTC "decided to guess what that tirade was, produced its own transcript with its imaginary version of the speech, and then promptly complained to the FCC about the 'indecent' broadcast." The FCC board (comprised of two high-ranking Chinese Communist Party members and three Taliban alumni), showing more wisdom and discretion than it showed in the entire four years before Michael Powell announced his resignation, rejected the complaint.

No word on when the FCC will rule on the PTC's most recent complaint that when NBC's Dan Abrams is shown from the chest up, his bottom half is ___-____ing a r_____ m__k__ and _____ing the s_nt_r_m all over his ___s___l a__i_____. (Partially redacted by your good friends at ALOTT5MA Standards and Practices.)
GLOBETROTTING: It was only 105 days ago that we welcomed The Amazing Race 6, but tonight, at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central (just it time to conflict with Sipowicz's farewell), The Amazing Race 7 returns with a two-hour debut.

Gays are back. Boston Rahb and Ambuh have joined us, along with, Phil promises, "new consequences that we haven't seen before" for the teams that finish last in non-elimination legs.

The teams are ready. Are you?
BECAUSE I CANNOT STOMACH THOSE CORPORATE-SELLOUT HARPISTS: SFGate reflects on the contributions of "Indie" harpist Joanna Newsom.
IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT: Don't forget that the April 15 deadline for the 2005 Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest is fast approaching. Don't just read about the winners in six months, get out your most cringe-worthy allusions and make a play for it. I've got a good one in the works. Oh, sure, some day I might win the Nobel Peace Prize or a MacArthur Grant or $10 on a California Lottery Double-Down Scratcher, but if I ever manage a win in Bulwer-Lytton, I'll die a happy man.

Speaking of dark and stormy, Mrs. Earthling was good enough to make me a Dark and Stormy, one of my favorite cocktails. Take a highball and fill it with ice. Add a jigger of dark rum, a good measure of a very sharp ginger beer (Stewart's does the trick), and a splash of key lime juice.
IF A PICTURE PAINTS A THOUSAND WORDS, THEN WHY CAN'T I PAINT YOU? : While E! - Entertainment Television knows we can't live without a daily recreation of the Michael Jackson Trial, the Constitutional Rights Foundation is helping to develop America's new generation of Courtroom artists.

Monday, February 28, 2005

SHAMELESS CONSUMERISM DEPARTMENT: They'll cost you more than a nickel, but a couple of new things arrive in your neighborhood book and music stores this week. First, tommorrow, ALOTT5MA fave Kathleen Edwards has a new album arriving in stores, and (weather permitting) I'll be headed for Circuit City or Best Buy after work tomorrow to pick up the album. Oddly, Thursday, rather than standard book release day Monday, Anne Lamott's long-awaited new non-fiction arrives in bookstores nationwide. Of course, this is the start of a big year for snarky over-educated non-fiction (other than that you get to read for free on this blog) with April bringing us a new book from Sarah Vowell, and assuredly other titles arriving that we don't even know of yet. Start saving your pretty new nickels now.
BEAR UP BISON, NEVER SAY DIE: Kids, the new nickels are out. Never again will we have to wonder what Thomas Jefferson's cheek structure is like.
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE OH, OH, OH...AHHH: Please excuse the masturbatory nature of this post's subhead, but for some time I (and apparently many of my red-blooded male brethren) have been obsessed with the alluring woman behind the O, as in Overstock. Slate's Seth Stevenson today break's down the commercial's odd appeal, and even though there are many interesting elements to the spot (it was shot in-house resulting in an oddness that no ad shop would approve of, the white on white background is meant to emphasize Overstock's virtual identity), in the end, Stevenson concludes that the reason the seemingly simple spot gets a well-deserved A, is because it's all about Sabine.

OSCAR RECAP: Let's start today where I finished last night (and, when you have a moment, go through the thread for some wise commentary by many of the regulars here):
Really: how do you give Best Picture to Million Dollar Baby without, over the past three hours, giivng the audience any real idea of what it's about?

This was a broadcast trimmed down so far that there was no fat, but they cut out some of the muscle too. Learn from the Grammys: don't just hand out a pile of the awards; celebrate what the medium does well, and give the audience a real feel for what happened during the year in film.

I don't think anyone can complain about the specific recipients of awards, but as ceremony and entertainment broadcast, that was bad.

The efforts made to speed things up with the minor awards were fine, as far as they went, but I wouldn't mind if they moved some of those awards off-broadcast altogether (the Oscars are the only major awards which present every single award on-stage) and, as I first said here two years ago, "don't waste the viewers' time with performances of songs that no one knows, but do spend a little time to show clips from each nominated acting performance."

Whatever they do, use that extra time for something other than letting the local news start earlier. They need to bring back the 1-2 minute clips of each nominated movie so that viewers have some sense of why each was nominated -- you need Sylvester Stallone up there saying, as Ebert put it, "Million Dollar Baby tells the story of an aging fight trainer and a hillbilly girl who thinks she can be a boxer. It is narrated by a former boxer who is the trainer's best friend. But it's not a boxing movie, for reasons that become clear later on. In the scene you're about to see, Maggie tries to convince Frankie to manage her," etc. Otherwise, there's no context for the awards at all, and especially in a year where the nominated films were not mass blockbusters, it's necessary.

Rock was right to point out in his monologue that the Oscars are the only ceremony in which the nominees aren't called upon to perform live. Fine. Use their films. Paralleling Roger Ebert's famous formulation, no good Oscars broadcast is ever too long, but a bad one, like this, wasn't nearly short enough.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

OH, HO HO! YOU SLY DOG! YOU CAUGHT ME MONOLOGUING: George C. Scott once referred to the Oscars as "a two-hour meat parade, a public display with contrived suspense for economic reasons."

Now, it's closer to four hours (if we're lucky), but otherwise, General Patton's got a point. Still, we'll all be watching, and if you've got commentary along the way, this thread is open.
NO WORD ON IF SAFFRON'S MAD ABOUT ME: As part of this blog's continuing efforts to become a multi-media conglomerate, and because I finally got around to purchasing a digital camera that actually works this weekend, I'm proud to present a few photos of my walk through part of Christo and Jean-Claude's "The Gates" today--I walked from the park entrance at 59th and 5th over to 67th and Central Park West. These are some representative shots. I'm still not sure if I think it's art, but it's unquestionably a public happening of enormous scope:

Blowin' in the wind. Posted by Hello

Near the exit at Broadway and 67th. Posted by Hello

A view from the chess and checkers hut. Posted by Hello

Another shot from the chess and checkers hut. Posted by Hello

More photoblogging may ensue, now that I've mastered the basics.