Friday, July 2, 2004

"THE GREATEST ACTOR AMERICA EVER PRODUCED, STAGE OR SCREEN": That's what Larry King just said on CNN about Marlon Brando, who passed away today at the age of 80.

From Col. Kurtz to Stanley Kowalski to Vito Corleone to Sky Masterson to, okay, Superman's Dad, it's a hell of a career.
WE INTERRUPT THIS POLITICS-FREE BLOG TO BRING YOU THIS POLITICAL MESSAGE: As the talking box in the middle of my dashboard reminded me this morning, 228 years ago this weekend somebody wrote a short piece that kicked ass. It's chilling to hear it read by people who understand it (as opposed to, say, fourth-graders). One of those people, by the way, is the late Red Barber, the voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers and consequently the first voice heard on the first televised baseball game.

Thursday, July 1, 2004

I'M A CHOREOANIMATOR: Last weekend, I was bored and pulled out my DVDs of Sports Night, and honestly, if you don't own these, you probably ought to. I'd originally intended to watch a couple of episodes. Somehow, I wound up watching 6 or 7 in a row--that's how good it is. Just for the sake of showing the greatness, I want to offer two monologues that I'd submit rank among the best EVER on a sitcom:

The first is delivered by Jeremy Goodwin (Joshua Malina, now of "West Wing" and "Celebrity Poker Showdown" fame) to his girlfriend (and boss) Natalie Hurley (Sabrina Lloyd, who really needs a new gig) at the end of a office poker game that drives the plot of "Shoe Money Tonight!"

"You've got trip sevens, and I have a straight. I want you to trust me right now. I want you to say to yourself, yeah, I've dated a string of jerks in my life, they were stupid, they were mean to me, but maybe this one's different. Maybe I should take a chance and not adopt the break-up-with-him-before-he-breaks-my-heart strategy. I want you to remember that when I started liking you, I didn't stop liking tennis. And I want you to know that I don' t think there's a woman in the world that you need to be threatened by, no matter how glamorous you think she is. But mostly, I want you to trust me, just once, when I tell you, you have three sevens, and I have a straight."

The second is delivered by Dan Rydell (Josh Charles, now best known for being dumped by Jennifer Connolly and being the traitor in last summer's "S.W.A.T.") as an on-air apology for saying in a magazine that he supported legalization of marijuana in "The Apology:"

"I have a younger brother named Sam. Sam's a genius. I mean, literally. As a kid, he tested off the charts. The first computer I ever had, he built from a kit he bought with money he earned tutoring other kids in math. He's energetic and articulate, curious and funny. A great source of pride to our parents. And there's no doubt that he'd be living a great life right now, except for that he's dead. Because when you're fourteen years old, all you ever really want to be is your sixteen year old brother. And in my case, that meant smoking a lot of dope. The day I went off to college was the day Sam got his driver's license. And he celebrated by going for a drive with some of his friends. Drunk and high as a paper kite. He never saw the red light that he ran. And he probably never saw the eighteen-wheel truck that put him into the side of a brick bank, either. (long pause) That was eleven years ago tonight. And I just wanted to say... I'm sorry, Sam. You deserved better in my hands. And I apologize. (pause) That's all. Casey and I will be right back after this with the American League wrap-up. You're watching Sports Night on CSC, so don't go away. "

The show balances humor and pathos like no other show in recent times, and honestly, if you're looking for something to do this long weekend, pick up the DVDs and pop 'em in. I guarantee a good time.
AT LEAST HE GOT THE BALL PART RIGHT: You don't need to be Ken Jennings to spot the error in this passage from Roger Ebert's review of "Dodgeball":

"Kate hates Globo's White Goodman, not least because at their last meeting he rudely drew attention to his extremely well-inflated crotch. One of the Average Joe staff members comes up with the idea of the volleyball tournament, and for reasons unnecessary to explain, Kate becomes a member of the team, along with the pirate and four others."
HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO: Feeling pretty good about yourself because you held the elevator for someone or picked up a piece of litter off the street and put it in a trash can? Well, the List of 23 people honored by Carnegie Hero Fund Commission just might knock your ego down a notch or two, unless you happened to drag someone out of a burning car or rescue someone from a rampaging flood on your way in to the office.
WOULDN'T BE PRUDENT AT THIS JUNCTURE: Ready for a massive timewaster? The American Museum of the Moving Image has made available online pretty much every presidential general election television ad from 1952 to the present, organized by year, candidate or theme.

Yes, the Daisy ad, Reagan's ad for Goldwater and the Dukakis prison furlough ad are there, but it's the stuff you haven't heard of that's most striking. There's some weird stuff out there -- including Pearl Bailey pimping Gerald Ford and a truly bizarre ad in which Jacqueline Kennedy promotes her husband . . . in Spanish? Just a tremendous resource.

I'm Adam Bonin, and I authorize this blog post.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

WHAT IS . . . WOW? So, I finally saw Jeopardy! master Ken Jennings tonight, as he won his 21st straight show, now up to $697,760 in total winnings.

Dude's just automatic with the buzzer. He's got the timing figured out perfectly, and is stone cold on the responses. He's so effortlessly good, it's almost not fun to watch, except it is, but it's more like seeing Kobe Bryant play basketball than Allen Iverson, if you know what I'm saying.

How good is he? Of the 42 foes he's faced, only four of them have even been within half of Jennings' total going into Final Jeopardy!. Most of the time, in other words, he doesn't even need to bother with the final question.

Here's a bit more from his hometown paper.
THE 'TMI' AWARD: Congratulations to Sean Burns of the Philadelphia Weekly, who in one week told me more about himself in two film reviews than I ever needed to know, ever, about any film critic.

On the DVD release of 'Ali':
It might be the greatest thing Mann's ever filmed--decades of prejudice and righteous indignation erupting into triumph the moment Sam Cooke breaks into a blistering "Bring It on Home to Me" at the Harlem Square Club, while a young Cassius Clay ferociously charges down a long Madison Square Garden hallway (all hallways are extra long in Mann's world) to finally claim his place as heavyweight champ.

Every time I watch it, this sequence practically makes me wet myself.

And on Steven Spielberg's camera work in The Terminal?
It's a movie so visually sophisticated you could probably enjoy it just as much with the sound turned off. Heck, I'll admit it: Certain crane shots in The Terminal actually gave me an erection.

Um, thanks for sharing.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

BASEBALL, THE CHICAGO WAY: "Here's how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send two of his."

You may not be able to beat fun at the ol' ballpark, but here in Chicago beating at the ol' ballpark is a close second.
ISSUE NO. 1 - SPIDERMAN V. MONKEY MAN: This right here is pretty sweet, though I found the use of "loincloth" and "modest" in the same sentence slightly perplexing. As Adam has previously noted, India is one of the last bastions of credible super villians in this world (despite predictable incredulity in the mainstream press), and as such has long been in need of a superhero. God speed, Stan Lee, and good luck to you in India.

Hat Tip: Ben Choi
SO IS THIS META-META-REALITY? Folks 'round these parts have already blogged endorsing Joe Schmo 2, but perhaps because this week's new episode (which premiered last night) had a time slot shift that was poorly promoted, nothing on this week, so I must pick up the slack.

Of course, the basic premise of the show is brilliant--two unsuspecting dupes who think they're on a "Bachelor"-esque reality show, but don't realize that everyone else on the show (from the host through the "bachelor" and "bachelorette" right down to the other contestants) is an actor playing a character.

What's actually happened is perhaps even more brilliant. Though "Joe Schmo" (Tim) has bought into such ridiculous things as a contest involving the lovely bachelorette "Piper" taking turns eating food from each male contestant's "furry sack," "Jane Schmo" (Ingrid Wiese) has picked up on all sorts of little things--some that were avoidable (a character who's portrayed herself as the daughter of an overprotective father suddenly confessing ON CAMERA that she starred in a porn video, and WAITING TILL THE CAMERAMAN RELOADED TAPE to finish telling her story to Ingrid)--and has figured out something's amiss.

What's making the show REALLY cook now is that we're seeing not just "fake reality" of how things are going on the set (which is hysterical and over-the-top), but the "real reality" of producers and writers frantically scrambling to figure out if the show can be saved. The Meta is almost so substantial it makes your head explode. Truly great are the captions used during Ingrid's confessionals, which progress from "Thinks It's All Real," to "Thinks Parts of It Are Real," to "We're Screwed." The producers have managed to make hay out of a very troubling situation, and that's impressive. And by doing this, Ingrid quickly rises to near the top of my list of likable reality contestants--actually, she did that by losing it early on at the snark-licious moment when the bachelor entered on a litter carried by men in Speedos.

Unfortunately, my TiVo cut off the last few minutes of the episode (the new timeslot follows live wrestling, which means there's frequently overruns), so I missed the eviction ceremony, which apparently ends in a cliffhanger about Ingrid's fate and whether she's going to be told what's going on. However they resolve it, going to be great TV, and you bet I'll be watching. The episode repeats several times during the week, and catch it.
PLEASE, LOUISE: You can watch nine of the best new international commerical spots here, including an Argentine spot for Isenbeck Beer (warning: Kenny Loggins music), which just might make you run out to Blockbuster to rent the DVD of "The Company."
HAPPY NATIONAL LAWGEEK DAY! Well, given that we end the Supreme Court term today, it's fitting enough. A few legal and humorous related observations:

1. There's some joke to be made about why Clarence Thomas was the fifth vote to strike down the statute in today's big Internet porn case, but somehow, I can't put my finger on it. Maybe I'll have a Coke and think of it later.

2. Now, I don't often agree with Judge Alex Kozinski, but you have to admire the chutzpah of a man who nominates himself as a candidate for the "Federal Judiciary Super-Hottie" contest and explains, in great detail, why he is deserving. Sadly, we're still waiting for Ruth Bader Ginsburg to get her nominating papers in.
THE 'CLIFF HANGERS' YODELER SENDS HIS CONDOLENCES: It was bound to happen, eventually: an Australian contestant on The Price Is Right got whomped in the head and bloodied by a vengeful Showcase Showdown Big Wheel.
SURE, BUT WILL THEY LET BARBERS PRACTICE SURGERY AGAIN? Your Food and Drug Administration has approved the commercial marketing of leeches for medicinal purposes.

Is the lamprey next?

Monday, June 28, 2004

WHERE'S MY INVITE? Yes, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced new members for the year in this press release. Some make a lot of sense, like Sofia Coppola, Patricia Clarkson, Hope Davis, and Paul Bettany. Some are blatant attempts to seem hip: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Miguel Arteta, and Fernando Meirelles. Some are shockers that the person wasn't already in: Treat Williams (why this year of all years?) and Sean Penn. And then there's Keisha Castle-Hughes, the lucky young girl who'll never have to pay to see a movie again for the rest of her life. But the unexplicability prize this year goes to the animation branch, for electing Steve Oedekirk to Academy membership. Yes, the writer of "Patch Adams" and the Eddie Murphy "Nutty Professors" is in. But his true achievements? "Kung Pow: Enter The Fist!" and "Ace Ventura 2," both of which he directed. If he's in--I'm demanding my place!
WHY, YES, MY NAME IS KELLY D. WARREN: In an effort to outdo the injustice served upon my brother, in whose name a Dayton, Ohio mortgage as well as several thousand dollars worth of Home Depot gift certificates have been falsely acquired, among other still-being-discovered frauds, now comes word from New York that a law firm, too, can be the victim of identity theft.
AL-FAYED HEEDS CRY FOR ATTENTION: The Harrod's owner is really interested in Xtina's necklace. I mean, really.
AND I'D LIKE TO TAKE THIS MOMENT TO ANNOUNCE THAT I WROTE "ISHTAR:" The Boston Herald (by way of Dave Poland at MovieCityNews) notes that a lawsuit has been filed claiming that Wayans-fest film "White Chicks" is actually a ripoff of an unproduced screenplay called "Johnny Bronx." Now, I don't know about you, but if I were in the position of having written something similar to "White Chicks," I'd run as fast and as far as I could from any "credit" for having done so. What I'm waiting for are the inevitable copyright suits against Michael Moore, which will be quite interesting.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

NEXT, THE CLOWNS FROM TAR4 WILL GIVE THEIR NOSES TO THE SMITHSONIAN: The AP reports that Survivor: All-Stars champion Amber Brkich has given her bikinis from the show (along with a few other mementoes) to her local museum. The museum's name alone (the Beaver Area Historical Museum) lends itself to certain jokes, but here at ALOTTFMA, we take the higher road in our humor. So is Fantasia going to give the shoe she talked about breaking to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame? I don't watch quite enough reality TV to opine well, but what do you think should be beside Archie Bunker's Armchair and Fonzie's Jacket in the Smithsonian? The only thing I'd suggest immediately (in seriousness) would be the immunity idol from the first season of "Survivor." And maybe the dignity William Hung misplaced along the way. Other suggestions are encouraged in the comments.