Friday, July 30, 2004

FIRST THEY TOOK AWAY MY FERMENTED BEAVER TAIL . . . . And now The Man is saying that I can't eat my wild bear tartare anymore.

In news related to my favorite recurring MMWR issue, congratulations are again due to Dean Katairoak of Barrow, Alaska, for claiming his second straight muktuk eating title at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics:

Winning allowed Katairoak to quiet his trash-talking uncle, who had predicted he would knock off the defending champion.

"I wasn't going to let him win," Katairoak said. "As soon as I saw him stick the last piece in his mouth, I stuck mine in my mouth and swallowed it hole. As I was standing up, I was swallowing and a second and a half later he stood up."

After eating up the field at WEIO, Katairoak of is hungry for more. He has his sights set on other major eating events like Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Kobayashi: you're next.

WHO AMONG US DOESN'T LIKE NASCAR? Here's a question I want to throw out there to all around--what on earth is "Saturday Night Live" going to do for humor with this Presidential election? Especially in the last few years, they've reduced political figures to one note characterizations. Bush=stupid. Cheney=mean/evil genius. Gore=stiff. Lieberman=stiffer. Clinton=lech. Edwards=slick. But what can you do with John Kerry? Not that he hasn't had his share of bizarre moments (like the space suit from earlier this week, and, of course, the grand question mentioned in the title (I don't, BTW)), but there's not a single trait there that's really crying to be caricatured.

So is "SNL" going to bring us fresh and smart political humor again, like, say, the infamous 1988 debate sketch with Jon Lovitz as Dukakis getting on a "lift" behind the podium? Or are we going to get even lamer, more one-note sketches than we've been getting before? I hope for the former, but expect we're going to get the latter.

On a related note, I already thought Natalie Portman was gorgeous and smart, but this exchange with Diane Sawyer during a promotion interview for "Garden State" on "Good Morning America" makes me love her still more:

Diane Sawyer: Now if I'm gonna talk to you, you're gonna have to hold flowers here in front of the John Kerry (T-shirt). We can't just have John Kerry the whole time. Who do we bring in for equal time?

Portman: Come on, you've got The O'Reilly Factor. That's on television; that evens it out! I love John Kerry! I just think he has the perfect combination of compassion and intelligence and composure under pressure and I'm just a huge fan.

Portman stuff from IMDB.
THE VILLAGE IDIOT GAMBOLS ABOUT, AND 'GAMBOLING' IS NOT A WORD I TAKE LIGHTLY: This morning, Roger Ebert reviews The Village. On M. Night Shyamalan's ending, he writes:
To call it an anticlimax would be an insult not only to climaxes but to prefixes. It's a crummy secret, about one step up the ladder of narrative originality from It Was All a Dream. It's so witless, in fact, that when we do discover the secret, we want to rewind the film so we don't know the secret anymore.


Thursday, July 29, 2004

YET MORE RECKLESS POLITICAL SURREALISM:  Yes, MTV is covering the DNC, and sadly, I'm going to miss the coverage, which starts in just a few minutes (still at the office).  Tonight's coverage appears on "Direct Effect", MTV's hip-hop show, originally hosted by "Teck $" from "Real World: Hawaii," and features commentary from the perverse odd couple of Ana Marie Cox, editor of Wonkette, and dweeby blogger/American Prospect writing fellow Matthew Yglesias.  No word yet on if Ruthie and Amaya will be providing additional coverage or if Sparky The Wonder Penguin will be appearing to provide commentary.
NO RESPEK: If you haven't been watching "Da Ali G Show" on HBO, well, I can't imagine that any of you have been missing the funniest show on TV right now (I write this before tonight's premiere of the new Jeff Foxworthy vehicle).

Assuming you have been watching, you'll recall how last week one of Sacha Cohen's alter ego's, Kazakhstani TV reporter Borat interviewed Mississippi congressional candidate James Broadwater. It seems candidate Broadwater was none too happy with the result. Sam Donaldson, interviewed in the Season 2 premiere, has a much better attitude about being duped, but then again, he, unlike Broadwater, did not condemn all Jews to an eternity spent as Satan's minions.

Link found at TV Tattle.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

INAPPROPRIATE MUSICAL CUE OF THE DAY:  Watching tonight's live Democratic National Convention, did anyone else notice that perhaps it wasn't the best idea to have Catherine Edwards march out to the Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get It Started," the original version of which is "Let's Get Retarded?"  And Catherine, just a note--there's at least one Single Straight Democratic Male in NYC who's more than willing to show you around once you move up here--even in spite of all that Secret Service protection.

Added--Oh, it gets worse--after Papa Edwards' speech, yes, we roll out the Black Eyed Peas to perform the song with a special bonus--yes, middle aged white Democrats attempting to shake their groove thangs to the beat.  The only thing more frightening would be Dick Cheney swaying to "Where Is The Love?" 
GOOD REALITY TV, YES. BAD REALITY TV, NO: Joe Schmo exec producer Rhett Reese, on reality tv as a genre:
At its finest, the genre is crackling with energy - unpredictable, funny, emotional, fascinating. The best of these shows will not be forgotten. Keep in mind, ninety percent of every genre [   ] is still crap. That’s why new genres suffer more intense criticism than old genres; by virtue of being new, they’re subjected to greater scrutiny, and that ugly ninety percent becomes exhibit A. Pretend for a moment, that sitcoms were born yesterday, and today’s offering of sitcoms were the only evidence being examined to judge the art form. Do you think sitcoms would fare any better in the minds of critical-minded people than Reality TV?

It's a good little essay, with which I agree pretty much 100%
THEY'RE ALREADY WORKING ON THE 2005 AMISH BIKINI CALENDAR: I might actually tune in to "Amish In The City" tonight, due to this review in this morning's Times, which compares the show to "Queer Eye," calling it "yet another example of a show that sounds like a joke or slander and turns out to be refreshingly kind-hearted."  The Times also has a longer piece on the topic, noting that one of the female participants (Miriam Yoder) fills out a bikini "fetchingly" (with accompanying picture).  Yoder has since left the church.  Rumors of the "Amish Bikini Calendar" remain rumors.
WAY TOO EARLY, BUT STILL FUN:  Yes, it's not yet July 1, but Dave Poland has already started to prognosticate the Oscars over at Movie City News.  Some of his calls are obvious, like saying "The Aviator" (Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes biopic) is a lock for major nominations.  Others are slightly touchy, like his prediction that major nods will go to "Fahrenheit 9/11" if and only if Kerry wins the November election, or listing "The Notebook" as a possible best picture contender. 

Personal guess for a sleeper?  "Proof" is based on an astoundingly good play, has a damn fine cast (even if Gwyneth Paltrow is way too old to be playing the part of Catherine), and a solid director.  With the right push, could get major acting nods.  Also, while "De-Lovely" is not a particularly good film, Kline deserves a nomination for almost making the film work just on his own, even in spite of the loathsome and inexplicable "Be A Clown" number.  Completely missing from the list is "Garden State," which arrives in theatres today, and which I can see being a contender for acting and writing awards, at least based on early buzz.

Sadly, Poland doesn't talk about what should be one of the more exciting categories this year--animated feature, in which "Shrek 2," "The Polar Express," and "The Incredibles" will all be slugging it out.  However, he does suggest that there are possible major nominations in store for this movie if it makes it to theatres in time for consideration, which might be of interest to some readers around these parts.  Think Poland and I are off-base?  That's what the comments are for.

SERIOUSLY, WHERE THE HELL DID THE YELLOW DOTS GO?: There are people who have made it their life's work to understand the physiological basis for optical illusions. There are many more who just want to get high and look at the weird pictures. For both, there is this wonderful collection of trippy illusions. Personally, I am a little freaked out by the disappearing yellow dots.
GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCES ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PORK OBSESSION:  Proof that the Atkins diet has moved from the Beverly Hills Municipal Code to cultural norm:  the trend in applications to the Patent and Trademark Office for carb-related marks.  According to IP Law & Business (which I totally know is sitting on your dining room table, unread, next to the National Geographic and the Economist while Us Weekly does yeoman's duty on the bathroom vanity) everybody wants a slice of the crust-free, sugar-free, fruit-free Atkins pie mark for himself, judging from these numbers:

415 - Applications filed at the PTO for trademarks containing "carb" in 2003.
230  - Applications filed for carb marks in the last quarter of 2003.
100 - Approximate number of applications filed for carb marks in 2002.
55 - Applications filed for marks containing "protein" in 2003.
37 - Applications filed for marks containing "fat" in 2003. (Down from 61 in 2003.)
11 - Companies that applied for "low carb lifestyle" mark in 2003
5 - Companies that applied for "carb conscious" in 2003.
4 - Companies that applied for "carb choice" in 2003.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

LIKE SWALLOWING A GIANT LOOGIE: What did we learn on The Race tonight?

We learned that caviar makes skinny girls cry, and that Team HiLo may, indeed, have the Luck of the Evil, even if (as one TWoP poster noted) "A roadblock is a task that only Charla may perform."

The rest, we re-learned from previous editions of the Race: travel agents are important. Doing your airport homework matters. Athletic detours are always doable. (Remember the soccer kids in, what, Spain?) Food roadblocks can be gross. (Live octopus in Korea, anyone?) It's nice to be liked, but it's better by far to use taxis.

What we still haven't learned: what happened to The Yield? What team does God really favor? Will we like any of these teams in the end?

Your thoughts, full of spoilers on the episode, are welcome.
FOR C-SPAN JUNKIES ONLY: Betcha didn't know this one -- just like at the Oscars, the Democratic National Convention does its own Necrology tribute to those Democrats who passed away since the last Convention, and it just aired a few minutes ago.

Order was alphabetical -- starting with Philadelphia's Lucien "the Solution" Blackwell, who worked his way up from hourly laborer to union head to City Council to the U.S. Congress -- and ending with beloved former Senator Paul Wellstone, a true mensch.

Other than Wellstone, biggest cheers seemed to be for Paul Simon and Pat Moynihan. Not as much for Mel Carnahan, even though he was the last man to defeat John Ashcroft in an election.

So now you know.
TEAM HILO BROUGHT LOW: In continuing Amazing Race coverage, it's moderately nauseating to read the fawning media coverage of Team HiLo in much of the press. USA Today reports that HiLo is "emerging as a big favorite," and quotes producer Bertram van Munster as saying "By the time the thing is said and done, Charla will be famous."

The Baltimore Sun is (thankfully) less fawning at the start, even including several priceless quotes from the wonderous recaps of Miss Alli over at TWoP, such as "This is not Mirnaland, where Mirna is Queen and gets to wave her Mirna-Wand and straighten her Mirna-Crown and tell everyone what to do." (Miss Alli shares the general loathing around here for HiLo.)

However, the second half of the article is fawning, and gives pause, particularly this statement from one of Mirna's law school classmates:

"It's probably very difficult for them to see a woman who's as smart and successful and strong as Mirna, and I bet they find that pretty intimidating. She won't allow anyone to push her around, and I think that's really difficult for people at times. But she's just standing up for herself."
I can't quibble with "successful," but her inability to read a map and speak languages in which she is allegedly "fluent" would seem to defeat "smart" and her inability to carry a side of beef would defeat "strong" (at least physically).

The good news? Maybe the media coverage means these cousins are about to experience the end of their 15 minutes of fame. We can only hope.  Then again, getting rid of Team Deep Dish tonight would be a happy ending too.
SUPER SLIDER ME: In advance of the one of the summer's most anticipated films, "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle," the Chicago Sun-Times has 30 things you need to know about White Castle. Perhaps even more entertaining is the sidebar examining various "Psuedoslider" franchises that over the years have tried to mimic the Castle magic. Anyone ever eat at any of these?

And speaking of burgers, this blog will be somewhat "listless" next week as the family and I head around the Lake to the Michigan shore.

Monday, July 26, 2004

IF YOU CAN DODGE A WRENCH, YOU CAN STAY CLASSY: Not content to let his partner across the aisle to have a monopoly on sloppy mistakes that have made it into print regarding the film "Dodgeball," Richard Roeper slipped this oopsy-daisy into his "column" today:
"Bill Kurtis is the man. He was lampooned on an episode of 'South Park.' On 'The Sopranos,' Dr. Melfi once said: 'I get all my information [on crime] from the movies and Bill Kurtis!'
Bill Kurtis is the narrator of 'Dodgeball.' (Kurtis on Ron Burgundy in 'Anchorman': 'He was a god walking amongst mere mortals. He had a voice that could make a wolverine purr and suits so fine they made Sinatra look like a hobo . . . ')"
And incidentally, I've come to think recently that Ben Stiller might in fact be evil incarnate, a suspicion that was made all the more curious when during my first viewing of "The Boys from Brazil," who but Stiller's actual mother, Anne Meara, shows up as one of the mothers of the young Hitler clones.

KNOW WHEN TO FOLD THEM: Ricky Williams isn't the first sports star to walk away from the game while still in his prime. ESPN's Page 2 counts down the Ten Greatest Early Retirements, a list that includes four other NFL running backs: Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, Doak Walker, and Robert Smith.

One omission: where's the late Bison Dele?

Sunday, July 25, 2004

DREADED NEWS: Is Dolphins running back Ricky Williams retiring? As in, now, at the age of 27?

Frequent PTI sub Dan Le Batard, whose close relationship with Williams produced this great piece on Williams' battle with social anxiety disorder, has the details.