Saturday, February 7, 2004

I DON'T CARE 2 WIN AWARDS, ALL I WANT 2 DO IS DANCE: Let me make sure I've got this right: the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences decided that having Janet Jackson open the Grammy telecast might be too controversial, so they decided to bring in Prince?

Hmm. Would that be the same Prince who recorded such ditties as "Jack U Off", "Darling Nikki", "Do Me Baby", "Gett Off" ("23 positions in a 1 night stand"), "Sister" ("I was only 16 but I guess that's no excuse/My sister was 32, lovely and loose") and "Sexy MF"? The same Prince who wore those yellow, assless pants at the MTV Awards? The same Prince who recorded an album too obscene to release, only to replace it with one that had this cover? The same Prince who fought so viciously with his label as to scrawl the word "slave" on his face is now the Prince who's going to save the reputation of the music industry?

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm a fan of Minnesota's shortest door-to-door evangelist, and I'm glad to see him back in public again. I look forward to this performance. But the man who sang that "incest is everything it's said to be" ain't exactly Pat Boone, and it's a bizarre choice.

FWIW, my advice for predicting the awards remains the same as last year: look for dead people, and music not-out-of-place at Starbucks. If you want the surest bet of all, Lenny Kravitz always wins Best Rock Vocal Performance (Male), winning four out of the past five years (not nominated last year).

(My previous thoughts on the nominees are here.)

Friday, February 6, 2004

NO, DONALD, YOU'RE FIRED: I'm a little disappointed, actually, with the news that Donald Trump will be back this fall to host a second edition of The Apprentice (codename: "Apprentice 2: The Man Behind The Man"?).

It's not that I don't love the show. You know I do. It's that I think that the show's appeal comes from its varied-tasks-in-quest-for-a-job structure (shared with Top Model) and intrateam strategery, and is not dependent on Donald Trump for its success.

Yes, he's a hoot, but the show would've been fine if grumpy Trump consigliere George Ross was the host instead of Trump, and I don't want the show to be wedded long-term to Trump for its survival.

Let me suggest a different path for The Apprentice 2: go Hollywood. Get sixteen people who want to be movie executives. Have them pick talent, edit movies, film short pieces, negotiate with actors, direct extras, throwing opening parties, create buzz at Sundance . . . really, there's a world of possibilities. And let Harvey Weinstein host.

If they steal this idea, remember where you heard it first.
STAT BOY, WHAT DID WE MISS? Head over to the WaPo, where TT fave Tony Kornheiser has an incredibly perceptive piece on the links between sports fandom and reality tv fandom.

Thursday, February 5, 2004

MOTIVATING SOULS FROM NEW CASTLE: You know I've tried to keep this place largely apolitical, and for the most part, I've done that. But now, please pardon this interruption.

I spent a good portion of the past week in Delaware volunteering with the John Kerry campaign, calling people on the phone, doing visibility, helping with Senator Kerry's event in New Castle, getting out the vote, basically, whatever it took to win The First State (home of tax-free shopping) and keep the other candidates from amassing delegates. Let me note a few things about what happened:
1. I cannot say enough good things about the campaign staff. Weary but energized from their work in Iowa and New Hampshire, where they spent months going through the campaign's bust and subsequent boom, they took two weeks and turned an empty office in an industrial park into a statewide rout. Most of them were college-aged or just past, but they were savvy, dedicated professionals who were absolutely committed to the task at hand.

The goal, as I understood it, was to get 10,000 votes. They won 16,729, and now they're all elsewhere in America, continuing the fight.

2. Man, voters are pissed. I spoke to hundreds of people over the past week, young and old (mostly old), and the desire to end the Bush presidency is vocal and strong.

I know that's what's driving a lot of Kerry's support. I spoke with one voter who liked Edwards' message better but was leaning towards Kerry because he had a better change of withstanding Bush's attacks and winning. I agree -- I love the "Two Americas" message, and I would rally to an Edwards presidency, but post-9/11 is not the time for a candidate whose elected experience is limited to one term in the Senate.

We need someone with a stronger national security profile, someone who will be seen by the electorate as being as serious and as tough in winning the war against terrorism as the President. Kerry does that -- not only because of his Vietnam experience, but because of what he has done in the Senate and the gravity with which he carries himself. Serious times call for serious men.

3. Let's not forget this: the elderly are our base. They are the most loyal Democrats, and the most likely to get out and vote. Forgetting this is what gave the Dean people such hope, believing that success on the Internet meant success in the polls. It doesn't.

4. My favorite campaign anecdote: some of the volunteers were in a low-income neighborhood of Wilmington on primary day trying to drum up the vote. They saw a bunch of guys sitting around in a circle in front of a house. They were hosting a cockfight.

5. To the Dean people: I know you're disappointed right now. I remember how I felt in 1992, when I was supporting Tom Harkin during the primaries -- I wanted the strong progressive as my nominee, not the slick Southern moderate with the pretty smile. Indeed, I was as disgusted with Clinton's taking time off from New Hampshire to preside over the execution of Rickey Ray Rector (a man so brain-damaged at the time of his execution that he asked that his final meal dessert of pecan pie be saved "for later") as many Dean supporters are about Kerry's vote authorizing the war against Iraq, and at the time felt nauseous about having to support him come November.

But support him I did, with gusto -- volunteering at the Convention, registering voters on campus and campaigning in New Hampshire -- and I know the eight years we had under him were better than those we would have had under Republican leadership. No question. Yes, there were times that Clinton disappointed me (Lewinsky, DOMA, welfare reform, etc.), but, end of the day, more good came from his Presidency than would have otherwise. Any of the major nominees, however flawed, will do our nation better than four more years of Bush.

6. I'll give you three more reasons to support the Democratic nominee, whoever he is, over Nader or staying home: Rehnquist, O'Connor, and Stevens. All three (and maybe others) could step down from the Supreme Court during the next four years. Their replacements will decide the future of abortion rights, affirmative action, gay rights and countless other issues for decades to come. We can't chance having President Bush name their successors, just for the sake of feeling better about the purity of our vote.

I give Gov. Dean and his supporters a ton of credit for what they've brought to this process, and especially for teaching younger voters that even their money equals speech, and that the most significant way to make one's presence felt early on was through their wallets, that there was nothing shameful (and indeed much to be praised) about spending money to be involved with the political process, that every dollar counts as it accumulates a mountain of grassroots support.

I hope they'll support whoever our nominee is this fall, and I will too, because too much is at stake. There is much more that unites us than divides us.

Rant over. If you enjoy this season as much as I do, you damn well better be bookmarking Daily Kos, which is absolutely essential reading.

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

FINLAND, FINLAND FINLAND: Land where I'd quite like to be, especially since they've now beat out even my own esoteric Bay Area for wacky performance art.

"People seem to like our collective yelling and even pay to hear us. The Finnish national anthem is especially popular."

I'm sure it wouldn't compare to "You're In Outkast Charlie Brown", but I'd love to see the video of these dudes, all tuxedo'd out on the pack ice, screaming at a trapped schooner.

Monday, February 2, 2004

WELCOME BACK, WELCOME BACK, WELCOME BACK: No spoilers for the west-coasters, but man, was I happy to see the Survivor All-Stars tonight.

This season is going to be ridiculously thick with layers of strategy on top of history on top of a lot of gratuitous Richard Hatch nudity, and I can't wait for the next sixteen eliminations. I forgot how much I missed DingDangDangOl' Tom and Evil Rob (as opposed to Racist Rob, who I don't miss) -- part of what's great about this new season is that we've got so many good narrators on the islands, people who know exactly how the show works as television and know how to keep us entertained by telling us what they're thinking, and what they think everyone else is thinking. And at that, Hatch is still the standard by which all others are measured. What a prick.

(Seriously, had ER not choppered Romano, we'd have a brilliant triumverate of entertaining narcissists on Thursday night television: Hatch, then Trump, then Rocket. Two out of three, however, ain't a bad night.)

All that, and the emerging RuRu Alliance? It's golden.

The episode re-airs Tuesday at 8p.

Sunday, February 1, 2004

WOW: What a football game. What a great, well-played, tense, exciting game. Love the opened-up passing, loved the resilience of both teams. Just a great night to be a football fan.

With that said, some random notes:
--I have never seen a football field in such shitty condition for a Super Bowl game. Way too slippery for a professional contest, and with no excuse.

--Poor Ricky Manning Jr. Man, he got burnt repeatedly.

--Please, let the Janet Jackson's breast thing be a non-story, ignored like the manufactured faux-controversy it is. She hasn't released a new album in three years, she's desperate for attention (and to distract attention from her brother), and it's just a L'il Kim wannabe piffle. It was an embarrassment, completely inappropriate for a family show, and everyone involved with the halftime show should be ashamed.

--And more: did we really need to see Kid Rock lipsynching a six-year old song about all his heroes at the methadone clinic? Puff Daddy going back even longer to recycle Biggie's lament about the problems of wealth? Feh.

--Worst ad: that awful, retrograde Budweiser ad comparing a football coach to a nagging wife. Incredibly offensive and backwards. I also thought that the CGI stuff in the Van Helsing ad looked really cheap, but that's me.

--The best? I liked Homer for Mastercard, the football players' "Tomorrow" and the beer ad with the dog that bit the guy's crotch, because who doesn't like dogs and crotches? I also share Matt's amusement at any ad with the disclaimer "Erections lasting longer than four hours, though rare, require immediate medical help," because, um, yeah.

The floor is open.
OF COURSE, YOU KNOW, THIS MEANS WAR: In a recent post, some blogger smugly wrote:
Ken Howard was on a show called THE WHITE SHADOW, which I have promised to read up on later, and is also a graduate of Amherst College. Where they'll take anyone.

Ahem. Harsh language from someone whose alma mater includes such notable alumni as Lyle Menendez, Aaron Burr and this guy.

To preempt an obvious followup, my alma mater was named for its town, not the guy for whom they named the town. And those Norwottucks . . . well . . . they were probably doing shady stuff too, right?