Friday, December 5, 2003

NOT BEING SERVED WITH POTATOES: I'm cooking duck for dinner tonight, but that doesn't mean I can't offer you some Quayle.

Blame Pathetic Earthlings.
SURE, BUT A 'POCKETFUL OF MUMBLES' WILL SET YOU BACK $30: According to the NYT's Clyde Haberman, among the tchotchkes for sale if you choose to attend the Simon & Garfunkel reunion concerts is this: "For $25, you could get a Simon and Garfunkel cappuccino mug, inscribed, 'Put it in your pantry with your cupcakes.' It has come to this: not a coffee mug but a cappuccino mug, from a duo that once played in coffeehouses."

Sounds like my earlier misgivings were right.
I'M JOHN CARTER, AND I'M HOLDING THE AORTA: We've talked about it enough here: TNT re-airs the brilliant, harrowing ER episode Love's Labor Lost next Tuesday, December 9, at 11am eastern, regarded by many here as the best hour of televised drama of the past decade.

Set your TiVos and VCRs now, especially all you sorely misguided "Two Cathedrals" fans -- unless you or someone you love is pregnant, in which case you might want to stay far, far away from this episode.

Updating a previous story, Rev. Al Sharpton hosts SNL this weekend. What can we expect?
[W]e hear Sharpton will be playing Johnnie Cochran in a Michael Jackson skit. Sources told CNN's Kelly Wallace that he'll also play a "prominent African American," believed to be Jesse Jackson, in a parody of Chris Matthews' "Hardball." His monologue will be a comparison of the old Sharpton, played by former SNLer Tracy Morgan, and the new Sharpton, played by the Rev himself.

But wait, that's not all! He is also playing Brian Fellows' brother Ryan -- appearing on Morgan's talk show "Safari Planet." In yet another skit, he gets into a taxi and the driver asks if he has lost weight. "Keeping one step ahead of Howard Dean burns a lot of calories," Sharpton quips.

Via CNN.

Thursday, December 4, 2003

SHAKE IT LIKE A POLAROID PICTURE: In a stunning move that may cause the earth's core to stop spinning, all five nominees for Record of the Year for the 2003 Grammy Awards are actually good songs:
"Crazy In Love", Beyoncé Featuring Jay-Z
"Where Is The Love", The Black Eyed Peas & Justin Timberlake
"Clocks", Coldplay
"Lose Yourself", Eminem
"Hey Ya!", Outkast

Seriously, I had been contemplating a series of year-end awards voting on the blog, with free-ranging comments from anyone, and one of the first was going to be some kind of Song of the Year award, and three of those would've been up there (Eminem was last year, chronologically, and I'm not a huge fan of Coldplay) along with Missy's "Gossip Folks", The Roots' "The Seed v. 2.0", Kathleen Edwards' "Six O'Clock News" and Timberlake's "Senorita". But, damn, the nominees got that right.

Also right: posthumous, sentimental and appropriate nominations for Warren Zevon's "Keep Me In Your Heart" for best pop male vocal performance and song of the year, plus "Disorder in the House" nominated for best rock song and duo/group performance, plus folk (?) album of the year. And Missy also picked up five nominations, all well-deserved.

But then there's the silly, and the stupid, and that's only starting with the fact that urinating on teenage girls won't stop you from receiving a pair of nominations -- one more nomination that what The Roots received, mind you. (Maybe ?uestlove needs to spice up his social life or something.)

May I list some, and then you can add to the list of errors and omissions?
Album of the Year: Fallen, by Evanescence. Really?

Best New Artist: Fountains of Wayne, alumni of the dark place, whose first album was released in 1997.

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: just look at the category. Other than Timberpants, the next-youngest nominee is 51-year-old former Doobie Brother (and What's Happenin' guest star) Michael McDonald.

Ruben Studdard, one nomination; Kelly Clarkson, one nomination; Clay Aiken: zero.

In addition, Lucy was thrilled to know that Sandra Boynton's Philadelphia Chickens was nominated for best musical album for children. Cows, such remarkable cows . . .

(My complaints on last year's awards are here.)
PLEASE, HAMMER, DON'T HURT THE GENTILES: You can skip the film festivals and stop praying for a miracle: The Hebrew Hammer is skipping wide-screen release (thus denying Adam Goldberg his Oscar nomination, as was done to Linda Fiorentino years ago), and will instead debut on Comedy Central Monday night at 9pm, with several showings throughout the week.

More, via Sam Adams in today's Philadelphia City Paper:
It's a one-joke movie, but it's a pretty good joke: Goldberg gets to spit out would-be Mickey Spillane dialogue like, "It's your bar mitzvah, Jack -- I'm just reading the Torah portion." What makes The Hebrew Hammer more than an extended SNL skit is the sense that the comedy is just a thin skin over real feelings of alienation and self-doubt; when the Hammer's girlfriend asks him to talk dirty, he chokes up, then whispers that their children will go to Stanford, maybe Vassar. (It works.)

I think we all owe it to ourselves to see what could be Andy Dick's last performance. Hollywood's Angel of Death is due.

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

NYT ERRORS AND OMISSIONS: Maybe it's me, but I don't understand how you can write a profile of Djimon Hounsou without mentioning the fact that his first American screen role was as a bouncer in the pilot episode of Beverly Hills 90210 -- he lets Brenda into the nightclub, barring Kelly and Donna, and Brenda ended up hooking up with that older lawyer guy . . . c'mon, this is like retelling Genesis for me.

Anyway, you can leave out that ill-fated, if well-acted run on ER as the refugee suffering the triple indignities of post-traumatic stress disorder, erectile dysfunction and being treated by Chicago's wussiest doctor, but to omit the '90210' thing is like profiling Laurence Fishburne without mentioning this crucial early role.
NEVER GAMBLE IN A GAME THAT YOU CAN'T PLAY: Matt from Low Culture wipes the floor with Nicky's older sister today, explaining why Paris shouldn't be calling anything "ghetto". Hit it, Treach:
If you ain't never been to the ghetto
Don't ever come to the ghetto
'Cause you wouldn't understand the ghetto
So stay the fuck out of the ghetto

Tuesday, December 2, 2003

SIMPLE PLEASURES ARE THE BEST: Well, Fox's The Simple Life isn't exactly the 2003 equivalent of RFK's journey to Appalachia, though it may end up wearing out Bunim/Murray's nudity-blurring software to an extent not seen since the Teck and Ruthie's days in Hawaii. (And she was still wearing the jeans. Heavens!)

But it was entertaining enough. Look, putting these fish in this water is going to be fun, no matter what, and Hilton and Richie play to the camera like the media-savvy professionals they are.

Unfortunately, the show underlines and italicizes its points when it should just observe and let the viewers bring the funny themselves. There's no need for the Clampett-esque narrator, the attention-calling editing, or the abrasive musical cues when you've got women who know they're being stupid and know they're out of place acting as expected.

Compare it to something like MTV's Sorority Life, where the Sigma pledges didn't realize how stupidly and self-absorbed they were behaving ("That's not a double, sweetie!"; "Sylvia slapped me!"), and we viewers were just allowed to watch and listen, and laugh for ourselves without a narrator telling us when it was appropriate.

But Fox does this to shows. They overdo it, never trusting the viewer. Remember the ding! sound every time David "the dumb non-millionaire" Smith correctly identified a European country? Or the absurb machinations at the end of Love Cruise to provide twist after twist? So unnecessary.

Roll the cameras, film the funny, trust the audience. Keep 'Simple' simple, and it'll all be fine.
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING: The reason I hadn't blogged about the return of QESG yet was because, umm, I didn't have a chance to see the first return episode until last night -- the one where they took the guy who looked like Joe Eszterhas and turned him into Richard Chamberlain, for those keeping score.

I wasn't that hyped to see the episode, but I enjoyed what I saw. It was sweeter than before -- warm acoustic guitar music, more family involvement, and less bitchiness-for-bitchiness'-sake. This may have been the first episode in which Kyan didn't freak out during the guy's pre-reveal grooming sequence. In fact, he was downright complimentary.

(Also, it was the nicest house they've ever decorated. They didn't have to start off by cleaning up a mess; just taking a clean, poorly-arranged space and transforming it into something really memorable. Loved the verticals, Thom.)

Interesting episode. Was #2 as good?

Monday, December 1, 2003

MY MAIN GOAL AS A FATHER IS TO KEEP HER FROM BECOMING PARIS HILTON: Are we excited for the debut of The Simple Life?

Hell yeah. Full team coverage tomorrow.
SUED FOR FAILING TO MAKE MUSIC 'REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ARTIST KNOWN AS NEIL YOUNG': Via Mike McHone, the 25 albums that should never have been made.

I can certainly add this one to the list, and The Onion does it annually. (And decennially.)

Any more?
NOW, HOW MUCH WOULD YOU PAY? Okay, now I've seen the infomercial enough to be intrigued: do I really want to own a Showtime Rotisserie Grill? Is this the Ronco product that's worth it?

Sunday, November 30, 2003

HOIST THE MIZZENMAST! Jen and I finally saw Master and Commander yesterday, and, hoo boy, what a nice piece of entertianment that was. Now, it didn't stir me in the way Pirates of the Caribbean did -- it wasn't quite as showy in its pleasures -- but there is much to be commended in a movie that progresses so ably from episode to episode, never leaving the moviegoer lost at sea on any relevant detail.

Director Peter Weir focuses on the action sequences and the issue of leadership. If you're looking for a heavy debate over the impressment of sailors, go elsewhere. By the time you get to the final battle, you'll feel like a spoilsport for even wondering whether the whole thing was horribly unjust. It's a piece of mainstream action entertainment; it's not a movie that wants to make you think too much.

The NYT's Tony Scott beat me to what was going to be my best line:
Winston Churchill once said that the foundations of British naval tradition consisted of rum, sodomy and the lash. ''Master and Commander,'' which is rated PG-13, settles for two out of three.

You can guess which one's missing.