Saturday, September 4, 2004

I HATED, HATED, HATED THIS MOVIE: Given its long-standing success at the box office, and my general enjoyment of quirky indie comedies, I decided to check out "Napoleon Dynamite" this evening. And my god, does this movie stink. And we're not talking "bad air freshener" stink. We're talking horse turd stink.

The movie attempts to be a sort of cross between "Rushmore" and "Election," two of my favorite films of recent years. One minor problem--while in both of those movies, the characters were smart, funny, and genuinely witty, here, every single character in the movie (with one possible exception) is annoying and stupid--in many cases, so stupid that you wonder how they've managed to survive for so long. Even more baffling is the nonsensical continuity--for all but the last act of the movie, it seems clear from the production design, costuming, music choices, etc., that we're in the mid 80s. Then, in the final 10 minutes of the film, we have not one, but two, utterly inexplicable dance numbers--one to "Larger Than Life" by the Backstreet Boys and the other to "Cosmic Girl" by Jamiroquai--both late 90s hits.

The direction borders on incompetent--unlike a director like Kevin Smith, who works within his limits and knows how to do it--director Jared Hess can't even hold a steady shot--in the final dance sequence, even though there's only one dancer, it's clearly about 6 takes pasted together into a moderately coherent whole. And I--not normally attentive to these sorts of things--noticed several cameo appearances by Mr. Boom Mike.

Truly sad? This has a 7.3 rating on IMDB, and there was a large and rowdy group of people my age in the theatre with me who had obviously seen it before and loved enough to return.

In happier news, on my way home, I picked up former Second Daughter Kristin Gore's novel, Sammy's Hill. I'm only one chapter in, but can already say that if the rest of the book keeps it up, I hope and pray someone brings this to TV as a regular series--smart, funny, and intelligent--the way West Wing used to be.

Thursday, September 2, 2004

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

LOOKS LIKE KAMI AND KARLI HAVE SOME COMPETITION: Sadly, I was stuck at the office last night and did not get to watch either C-SPAN or the Race at its regular time. But judging from the transcript, perhaps Jenna and Barbara Bush's speech last night should have been accompanied by the Official Bumbling Twins Theme Music (tm Adam). Among the bon mots offered by the first daughters on national television?

"She [former first lady Barbara Bush] thinks Sex and the City is something married people do, but never talk about."

"Besides, since we've graduated from college, we're looking around for something to do for the next few years. Kind of like dad."

"I know it's hard to believe, but our parents' favorite term of endearment for each other is actually Bushy. And we had a hamster, too. Let's just say ours didn't make it."

"Our parents are actually kind of cool. They do know the difference between mono and Bono. When we tell them we're going to see Outkast, they know it's a band and not a bunch of misfits. And if we really beg them, they'll even shake it like a Polaroid picture."

But perhaps this wasn't sanctioned, for as Jenna said:

"You know all those times when you're growing up and your parents embarrass you? Well, this is payback time on live TV."

Between this, the "economic girlie men" remark, and the revelation of Jessica Cutler that she's a registered Republican, perhaps not the best day. At least Vanessa Kerry only inadvertently wore that see-through dress.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

A DINAR IS NOT A DOLLAR: What was learned on this week's installment of the Race? Being young and blonde and twins can apparently earn you a lot of money in certain portions of the Middle East. Foreign currency conversions are important, and make sure you do them at the airport. Masonry is perhaps the most unappreciated profession in the world. Never take a Fast Forward for granted, either that it'll be taken or that you'll be able to do it. Never assume you're toast--always hurry up even when you think you're in last place. Discuss.

And on that last point, looks clear that Kami and Karli have a substantial lead over Brandon and Nicole, given that we went from broad daylight when the twins arrived to dark outside when Models for Jesus got there. And for our second weekly Amazing Betting Pool, I give you this subject to bet on--how long is that lead?
WE HAD JOY, WE HAD FUN: ESPN looks back at the 100 Best Seasons individual athletes have had over the past 25 years. The big names (Jordan, Bonds, Gretzky) are all there, plus some feats you may have forgotten like Orel Hershiser in 1988, Danny Manning at Kansas in '88 also, and the Punky QB's big numbers at BYU in 1980.
DAMN YOU, DR. ATKINS, DAMN YOU TO HELL: For the love of god, people, go out and eat some Twinkies today. And where can I get me some of these Caramel Ho Hos?
THE GROWING CELEBRITY GAP: You remember how the DNC featured a variety of celebrities such as Ben Affleck and Glenn Close and musical performances from Wyclef Jean and the Black Eyed Peas? And how Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M., the Dixie Chicks, Jackson Browne and a number of other acts are touring in support of the Democratic ticket? Heck, Art Alexakis, lead singer of Everclear, was a delegate. What does the RNC bring us to counter?

Yes, Ron Silver, the second-most popular Jewish character actor named Ron (I'm assuming the first is Ron Rifkin or Ron Pearlman), spoke last night, along with Former "Law and Order" babe Angie Harmon, and tonight's featured speakers include Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Princella Smith, the winner of the MTV "Stand Up And Holla"contest. Stephen Baldwin, the least interesting of the Baldwin Brothers, is a party gadfly. Sadly, New York Magazine's efforts to recruit the Olsen Twins, Lionel Richie, and Robbie Knievel to appear were unsuccessful, and while New York notes that Lindsay Lohan seriously considered a real offer to appear, she ultimately declined. Thursday is when they roll out the big guns, with Mary Lou Retton, Kerri Strug, Dorothy Hamill, and Lynn Swann.

Musical performances? Slim pickings indeed. Tonight's featured performers? Dana Glover and Daize Shayne. Tomorrow, there's Brooks and Dunn, but that's about it. As a note, absolutely none of this (except for the New York attempts to book celebrities) is made up.
I THINK THEY GOT THE ALIAS: Besides producing what was one of the more inscrutable lines in a pop song to my adolescent ear (of course, for a while I thought "Our Lips Are Sealed" was "Honest Cecile"), what else is there to say about the news that, in the words of the Times Laura Branigan, 47, Pop Singer, Is Dead. Well since I like the lists, here are five things you might not have known (or really didn't remember) about Branigan:
1. She began her career as a backup singer for Leonard Cohen on his 1977 European tour.
2. "Gloria," the 1982 hit for which she will always be remembered, was actually a remake of an Italian song. It spent 36 weeks on the charts, peaking at No. 2, and was a huge hit in Germany where it was perched at No. 1, while the Italian version was at No. 2.
3. Germans must have wet themselves then with the release of 1994's "Baywatch" soundtrack, which featured a Branigan-David Hasselhoff duet, "I Believe."
4. Branigan made a memorable guest appearance on "CHiPS," playing herself giving a concert at an outdoor mall, which is interrupted by a high speed chase.
5. After spending some time away from the industry to care for her ailing husband, Branigan recorded a remake of ABBA's "The Winner Takes It All" in 2002 and then starred in the Broadway bio-play "Love, Janis."
IT WAS JUST A MATTER OF TIME, SHARONA: Bitty Schram is leaving "Monk." Schram's Sharona Fleming character has consistently been one of the show's highlights, as she's grown into her own as more than just a sidekick and served as a perfect foil to Tony Shalhoub's obsessive compulsive detective. It's worrying, but, apparently as a result of earlier salary disputes, there's already been one "Monk" without her, the very funny "Mr. Monk and The Game Show," in which fictional TV imitates Ken Jennings as Monk investigates an overly successful game show champion.
ITEM! News and notes from around the major leagues:
1. Reminder: The Amazing Race airs an hour early tonight.

2. I TiVo'd through the MTV VMA's last night. Maybe I'm finally too old for this stuff, but very little -- save Polyphonic Spree, Kanye West and Chappelle's tribute to Jay-Z -- entertained me very much. And the Spree still freak me out. Is it a joke or a cult?

3. Olympic Closing Ceremonies: yawn. Unless you were Greek and knew who these performers were. They had a right to throw a party for themselves, though.

4. What will I remember from these games? Michael Phelps, obvs, but also the utter dominance of the American women's teams -- softball, hoops and soccer. Also, how about the Temple hoopsters winning gold -- Coach Dawn Staley for the women, and Juan "Pepe" Sanchez for the Argentine men.

But, frankly, this year's scandals weren't interesting enough, until the marathon interruption on the last day. The men's gymnastics scoring error? Didn't involve dramatis enough personae. Track and field didn't move me this year, except for watching the pole vaulter's pro-wrestler-like celebrations upon successful completions.

That's about all I have for now. You?

Sunday, August 29, 2004

THERE JUST MIGHT BE A PANDA INVOLVED: One of my favorite aspects of the Olympics occurs tonight, towards the end: the presentation from the next host city, in this case Beijing 2008.

For those people who are into the whole construction-of-national-narrative sort of thing, it's eight minutes of coolness. In the case of Beijing, of course, there's an additional level of editing that's going to be involved, akin to that Family Guy episode where Stewie and Brian were in Germany and asked the tour guide why there was nothing in the guidebook covering 1939-45, with the guide responding, "Everyone vas on vacation!"

Also, if you think you can do better than Athena and Phevos, the 2008 mascot design competition is now open.

(Rules include: "The participant shall present a story about the proposed mascot (the plot of the story may be invented) to explain and introduce experiences, characteristics (such as bravery, persistence, optimism, humor) and other character traits of the proposed mascot," and, rule 6.4, the mascot "Must be refreshingly new.")
ARE YOU TAKING FLAXSEED? From a series of events that has given the world such rivalries as Sparta v. Troy and Balboa v. Lang, we finally have an in-person meeting between Ebert and Gallo and, my lord, I didn't need to know that much about Vincent Gallo's prostate.

For the origins of all this, go here.