Saturday, November 10, 2007
So today's featured sponsor is the Bank Americard. Really, I don't know why you would advertise a bank card. I'm not sure how many people are currently signed up with banks that don't offer a bank card option, and for the ones that aren't keeping their money in banks at all, I'm unconvinced that 25-year-old technology is the way to get them off the fence.
But I still like this commercial, where the red bike follows the guy around, a loving-if-commercial homage to The Red Balloon. Back when Abe and Sarah Spaceman settled the kids in Brezhnev-era Moscow for seven months, just about the only thing for an American boy to do was go to the Embassy and watch the movies -- frequently Charlie Chaplin or Harold Lloyd (because the diplomats at the Embassy didn't really get Chinatown), but sometimes The Red Balloon. I hope you all remember The Red Balloon, in which a lonely boy befriends a red balloon that follows him around, until a gang of 5-year-old nihilist French terrorists stones and slingshots the balloon to a slow, suffocating deflation punctuated with a jackbooted heel-stomp pop. And just when you've bottomed out, believing the world too cruel a place for a balloon-loving child pariah, along come the rest of the balloons to show you -- I mean the boy -- that loneliness can be cured by a gaggle of rubber friends and a white-knuckle airborne trip over the Fourth Arrondissement clutching some flimsy balloon strings. I cannot tell you how much I loved this movie, and frankly, it wasn't until just now that I realized that it was a frighteningly accurate and nearly literal depiction of what it was like to be a lonely four-year-old American with inanimate objects as one's best friends (my first words in Russian were "I have a rubber chicken," and if you don't believe me you can ask Spacemom), living among actual, honest-to-God Communist bullies. Oh, great, Bank of Americard, now the next time I see you and your red-bike friend I'm going to start blubbering like I just saw Beaches.
Friday, November 9, 2007
So what was the most intrusive Green Week plotline?
The "brats" combined a professional craftsmanship honed in the burgeoning film schools of NYU, UCLA, and USC with a more independent view of the director's role. (Insert obligatory reference to auteur theory here.) Inspired by both classic Hollywood and international cinema, they produced more personal, often unconventional films -- like Lucas's THX 1138 (1971), Coppola's The Conversation (1974), Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973) and Taxi Driver (1976) -- films that redefined the cinematic vocabulary and pushed studios to grant directors more artistic freedom.
Yet along with this creative explosion came a commercial revolution. Despite (or because of) their "outsider" perspective and stylistic innovation, several of the "brats" proved to be spectacularly successful moviemakers. Coppola's The Godfather (1972) broke all-time box-office records; Spielberg's Jaws (1975) pioneered the concept of the summer blockbuster; Lucas's Star Wars (1977) demonstrated the enormous value of merchandising. Having helped to accelerate the demise of the old studio system, the "brats" wound up leading the way into a new corporate age of franchises and tentpoles, sequels and prequels, $200 million budgets and mammoth opening weekends.
Two questions to you, then, regarding the Big Four of Coppola, Lucas, Scorsese, and Spielberg. First, who do you believe is the best filmmaker? Second, whose movies do you enjoy the most? (Not necessarily the same answers, I would imagine....)
Next week: punk and disco, cable and VCRs, and MTV.
I also thought that we had finished the Bianca bitch-redemption arc during last week's clip show, but apparently we are heading into round two. Are we being prepared for a Heather/Bianca final two?
There's a mention, in a list of examples of unfair officiating, of the Steelers-Seahawks Superbowl a few years back, which is a subtle little retraction. You may recall that Simmons's comment at the time was something along the lines of "it was a poorly-officiated game but not in a totally lopsided way; complaining about officiating is boring and brands the complainer a sore loser; so get over it." I suspect that if it had been the Patriots on the other end of that one, Simmons would still be calling for air strikes.
As for The Office, it was the end-credits bit that elevated the whole thing. As Alan notes today, it is just not easy being The Cool Boss.
Young Frankenstein is just a really hard work to adapt, as these reviews note, because unlike The Producers so much of its greatness comes from its cinematic qualities -- the pitch-perfect look-and-feel of classic horror films, and the fact that no one in the movie, save Igor, knows that s/he is in a comedy. It's a lot easier to turn Leo and Max into musical stars than Dr. Victor Fronk-en-steen, and in the former you just had to add more music to a show that's about a musical anyway. Maybe Brooks will have better luck with Blazing Saddles, which is more explicitly comic in its moves.
Still, whenever anyone mentions Frau Blucher, my response is automatic.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Tyra Bosses You Around (advice), CW, 8:00. Tyra Banks advises people to do stuff like the "after" in her before-and-after eye thing that looks exactly like the before thing, except it's like, pow.
Chucked, NBC, 8:00. NBC staffers throw away things left in the office by striking writers.
Big Brother (reality), CBS, 8:00 (3 hrs).
Reaper (reality), CW, 8:00. Tyra Banks kills people.
Dancing With the Stars (competition), ABC, 9:00. Host Tom Bergeron wings it without scripted quips.
1 vs. 100 (competition), NBC, 8:00. Host Bob Saget wings it without scripted quips, is beeped and mouth-pixellated for entire half-hour.
Big Brother (reality), CBS, 8:00 (3 hrs).
Gossip Girl (talk), CW, 9:00. Tyra Banks talks shit about Naomi Campbell.
Los Strikebusters (drama), Fox, 9:00 (dubbed).
Big Brother (reality), CBS, 8:00 (3 hrs).
Tyra Freaks the Eff Out (reality), CW, 8:00. Tyra yells at quitters, people who came in here fierce but are now disappearing, and Victoria.
The Excerpts From Funny Things Picketing Comedy Writers Said to News Media Comedy Hour (improv comedy), NBC, 8:00. Writer/celebrities from The Office, 30 Rock, The Daily Show, and other hit programs can't help themselves from making funny jokes to news cameras covering pickets in a manner permitting NBC to generate advertising revenue
Big Brother (reality), CBS, 8:00 (2 hrs).
Dr. Mime (drama), ABC, 9:00.
Total Dead Air Static, CBS, 10:00. Big Brother contestants watch TV tuned to nonexistent channel.
Tyra's Gaydar Miscalibrator (talk), CW, 8:00. Tyra Banks interviews diversely flamboyant friends, including Miss Jay, Twirly Twins, Posing Coach, Sutan, Handlebar Mustache Makeup Guy, High School Principal Fashion Show Emcee, and several people called "Miss Thing," until you start to think that Jay Manuel is probably straight.
NBC Page-Off (competition), NBC, 8:00.
Big Brother (reality), CBS, 8:00 (3 hrs)
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Yet even as the counterculture reached the apex of commercial success and social impact, the first hints of a cultural counter-revolution were appearing. In a broad sense, this reaction took the familiar form of corporate co-optation, as advertisers and marketers turned the imagery of cultural rebellion into the symbols of "hip consumerism". In music, the tragedy of Altamont (1969) and the deaths of Hendrix, Joplin, and Morrison in 1970 and '71 were paralleled by a wave of mergers and acquisitions, as major labels devoured independents and multinationals bought up record companies. In early '70s movies, alienation and rebellion gave way to law and order, as tough-guy heroes like Popeye Doyle and Dirty Harry fought violently against sneering criminals and the system that coddled them.
All popular culture, of course, reflects its political and social context. But the pop culture of the late '60s and early '70s feels especially bound to its age, particularly shaped by the events of the moment. So how does it hold up today? Do you still enjoy the music and movies of this era? Or are they irretrievably dated, locked firmly into their original time, place, and mood?
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
[W]e were all wrong about Indiana Jones .. in Raiders of the Lost Ark, he's not a hero... he's a bystander....And as a commenter there noted, "Actually, if Indy hadn't blown up the flying wing, the Ark would have been opened in Berlin and Hitler would have been there when it opened. So, basically, he saved Hitler."
In Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Nazis' big plan is to locate and open the Ark of the Covenant. Indiana Jones tries to stop them at every turn. He fails. Because at the end of the film, the Nazis still get the Ark and open it. Look at it this way: if you remove Indy from the film, the outcome is the same. The Nazis go to Marion Ravenwood in Tibet and get the headpiece of the staff of Ra. They already know where the Map Room is, so — possessing the actual headpiece which will give them the right height for the staff — they find the Well of Souls easy-peasy, put the Ark on a truck, and drive it to a submarine bound for the island. (Or, they could've flown it there as planned.) Then, they open the Ark and everyone dies.
While I can't lay claim to this theory, it saddens me to say that I wholeheartedly agree with it. All Indy does is slow them down and cause a little property damage. He never stops them from getting the Ark. And, I guess, he saves Marion's life. But the Nazis win. (Oh, and by the way, remember that fertility god statue Indy was after in the film's open? Belloq gets it.) Not only is Indiana Jones a completely reactive character, his actions dictated entirely by what other people do, he's a big honking loser.
So, gang: is Wolfman right? And if so, why is the movie nevertheless so awesome?
Your mission: come up with a dumber chant than the one the professionals just used.
Those with long memories may recall that the show never really recovered from the layover and had to ditch a planned "3-D Season Finale" promotion in the process, with twenty million 3-D glasses getting remarketed for the 1989 Super Bowl halftime show starring "Elvis Presto".
In other news, Lisa de Moraes reports that the late night shows may return in a week or two with interview-heavy episodes, because while the writers have a strike fund, production assistants and other staffers don't get paid when the shows aren't being produced.
*An occasional service of ALOTT5MA.
WHEN I GROW UP TO BE A MAN: My sons love the Beach Boys. As a result, we have been listening semi-constantly in the car to a CD entitled The Very Best of the Beach Boys, which includes the song “When I Grow Up to Be a Man”.
The song is one of the most significant transitional-period Brian Wilson songs, as the composer shifted his focus from the youthful surf tunes of the early Beach Boys to the complex and occasionally darker themes of his later songs. "When I Grow Up" is one of
The song consists of ten questions about growing up, while the background voices tick off the years. Recently, my sons completed this “questionnaire” on my behalf (see comments). I figured I’d present the questions here for your enjoyment (with minor changes all of these questions can be answered by either gender).
2. Will I look back and say that I wish I hadn't done what I did?
3. Will I joke around and still dig those sounds (still dig those rock & roll sounds)?
When I grow up to be a man
4. Will I look for the same things in a woman that I dig in a girl (14, 15)?
5. Will I settle down fast or will I first want to travel the world (16, 17)?
6. Well I'm young and free but how will it be?
When I grow up to be a man
7. Will my kids be proud or think their old man is really a square (18, 19)?
8. When they're out having fun yeah, will I still want to have my share (20, 21)?
9. Will I love my wife for the rest of my life?
When I grow up to be a man?
10. What will I be?
We are blessed at this site with a group of regular readers and commenters with deep and interesting knowledge bases, from whom we all learn a lot every day. But as we've seen with Jeff, we can always go deeper, so here's the deal: if you're interested, go ahead and conceive of an online "lecture series" that you'd like to do this winter for the blog, on any topic bearing some relationship to what our community seems to appreciate. (And you need not be a Professor to apply -- anyone can offer a proposal.)
Figure out how you'd like to structure it -- anything from four long posts in one week to 1-2 posts/week over the course of a few months, whatever works for you -- and if one occurs to you, draw up an outline. And then shoot us an email at throwingthingsblog -at- hotmail dot com and share your ideas. We'll mull them over and see what we can do. No rush -- this is a rolling process. We are looking forward to reading what you have to say.
Monday, November 5, 2007
For the math whizzes out there: assuming Marshall's making 200K a year, how much of an apartment can he afford to buy (a) at normal mortgage rates and (b) at the rates quoted?
By 1970, though, the genie of "women's lib" was out of the bottle and onto the streets, attracting an often vicious media backlash; Time provided an especially blatant example with its August 1970 cover of author Kate Millett as a "grim, ball-busting ninja from hell," as Douglas puts it. Not surprisingly, then, pop-culture heroines in the early 1970s often navigated and embodied the tensions between feminism and antifeminism. On The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-77), Mary Richards constantly vacillated between assertiveness and meekness, independence and humility. Bea Arthur's Maude (1972-78) offered a more consistently self-assured, even daring central character, but she was also a "strident, loud, unfeminine bruiser." With the 1976 trifecta of Charlie's Angels, Wonder Woman, and The Bionic Woman, viewers certainly got "women with power," Douglas notes, "but only in comic book settings that could never be mistaken for reality."
As the battle over the Equal Rights Amendment took center stage in the late '70s and early '80s, the political clashes between the Schlaflys and the Steinems of the world were mirrored in pop-culture "catfights," most infamously "between the traditional wife and mom [Krystle] and the feminist bitch from hell [Alexis]" on Dynasty. Reaching the end of her narrative in the early 1990s (the book came out in 1994), Douglas does see some signs of hope in more confident, creative performers like Roseanne and Madonna. Yet she's also troubled by the familiar refrain of late-20th-century American women: "I'm not a feminist, but..."
So how (if at all) has pop culture's image of women changed over the past decade or so, since Douglas's study first appeared? If Douglas were to publish an updated version of Where the Girls Are, which examples of feminine/feminist pop culture, circa 1994-2007, would she absolutely have to discuss?
[(definition, as in clarity) or (the state of being definite, i.e., certainty)]Personally, I prefer "definite infinity" -- possibly a one-word paradox. Great product name. Makes me feel languorously sepial already.
[infinity or (de-infinity, i.e., whatever the opposite of infinity is -- either zero or one or negative infinity)].
But I digress. The important thing I wanted to say is that you can now get Olay Definity in foam. Before now, your only Definity-delivery options were stick, invisible solid, cream, paste, fluff, froth, resin, time-release gelcap, I.V., schmear, inert gas, subcutaneous injection, supplement powder, aerosol spray, saturated rag, marination, poison-tipped arrow, sports drink, eardrop, vapo-rub, dialysis, suppository, innoculation, transdermal patch, anti-stick coating, tainted beef, second-hand smoke, and viral pandemic.
I will be careful here not to mention any spoilers, but the scenes that rang hollow for me included:
- the scene in the Gulf of Mexico,
- the scene in the locker room at half time,
- the second half of the football game,
- the dinner involving 2 football players and Coach Taylor, and
- certain aspects of the scenes involving Tami and Eric Taylor.
I myself don't have a strong view one way or the other, and end up vacillating between the "life is co-ed and there are many more differences between kids than just the male/female distinction" view and the "isn't it great to have schools and teachers who are specifically focused on the developmental and social needs of just girls or just boys" position.
- All new writing by Union Members for dramatic or comic TV shows stops--"pencils down means pencils down" is the slogan. This includes late night comedy and daytime drama, with late night comedy being the first to shut down due to its almost live nature.
- Scripts already delivered may be produced, and Union Members with multiple titles (e.g. "writer/director," "writer/producer") may continue to work, but not on the writing side. Scripts get shot as is, where is, with no revisions by a WGA member.
- SAG cannot join the strike, but has indicated its support, as many of the WGA issues in this negotiation are similar to those faced by SAG, and its members will be walking picket lines.
- Reality, game show, news, and sports writing is apparently covered by a separate deal, and is relatively unaffected.
WGA members apparently may continue to blog or write other than for struck entities. ALOTT5MA is (as far as I know) not a struck entity, and we remain open for business. As usual in this sort of political matter, ALOTT5MA has no official position, but I suspect I speak for us all when I say that I hope the parties can resolve their differences and get back to entertaining us all.