Saturday, September 25, 2004

DUMB, RANDOM QUESTION OCCASIONED BY THE UMPTEENTH AIRING OF 'THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT' ON CABLE: So what, exactly, has Aaron Sorkin been doing over the past year-and-a-half since being fired from The West Wing?
AND THEY SAY ACADEMIA DOESN'T PRODUCE ANYTHING USEFUL: Yes, Yale has hosted the first conference (that I know of) devoted to the study of Michael Jackson. I couldn't make up titles of the papers presented, which include "White Ambition: Michael Jackson, Racial Erasure, and Aesthetic Surgery," "Should Adults Be Allowed in Neverland?: Michael Jackson, Fantasy, and the Problem of Pedophilia," "Feeling Like a Woman, Looking Like a Man: Michael Jackson, Grace Jones, and the Transgendered Erotics of Voice," and, my favorite, "Call Me Kiki: Little Ricky Martin, Menudo, and the Legacies of Little Michael Jackson, 1983-1989," which bridges the emerging fields of Ricky Martin-ology and Jackson-ology.

Friday, September 24, 2004

OUTWIT, OUTPLAY, OUTSUE: The Seventh Circuit has affirmed a lower court's decision that CBS's sale of SURVIVOR soundtrack CDs and merchandise does not infringe on "Eye of The Tiger" band SURVIVOR's trademark. It's a pretty straightforward (and, in my view, well-reasoned) trademark law opinion, but I post here because of the closing paragraph in the opinion by Judge Diane Wood, which begins:
Sullivan, through his band Survivor, has been fortunate enough to have a
successful rock band, succeeding in a business where many fail. CBS,
through its show Survivor, has (for better or for worse) revolutionized the
world of reality television.
Glad to know that's the law of the land somewhere.
THANKS FOR THE MAMMARIES. Russell Albion Meyer, filmaker, originally of Oakland, California, has passed away from pneumonia at the age of 82. As you'd expect, The Times has a tasteful and appreciative obit.

Better though, Roger Ebert has also published an enjoyable rememberance that offers excellent detail about Meyer's professional career, some real emotional context and human insight into the man, as well as testimony to his continuning influence on popular culture and some account of Meyer's aesthetic sense. Ebert notes, for example, that Meyer "once told me there was no such thing as a sex scene that couldn’t be improved by cutaways to Demolition Derby or rocket launches." Doubtless those are words to live by, though I've never personally dated anyone who appreciated me leaving the TV on or futzing with the remote control during critical moments of intimacy.

As I am ill-equipped to add meaningfully to the rememberances of Mr. Meyer I offer my humble thanks to him for leading the charge to reclaim titillating social satire from accusations of simple depravity, and in tribute, share that a dean emeritus of the political science department at a certain Massachussets college allegedly referred to him as "The Fellini of Porn". Rest in peace.

Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls are (I hope and trust) available at better video stores nationwide.
FORTUNATELY, GARY GILMORE IS NOT INVOLVED: I shouldn't be surprised to hear this after "The Simpsons" has gotten guest-star appearances from Stephen Hawking and Tony Blair (among others), but Norman Mailer will appear on "Gilmore Girls" later this fall. He'll play himself as a guest at the Dragonfly Inn. No word on whether Rory will wax eloquent over "Harlot's Ghost" during the course of the episode, but I'm betting we can count on some reference to either "The Naked and The Dead" or "The Executioner's Song."

Thursday, September 23, 2004

PEACE TRAIN, MY ASS: Wondering why Cat Stevens constituted such a security threat that he had be denied entry into the United States? Well, a quick comparison of an Al Qaeda training manual found in Manchester, England, and Stevens' "Father and Son" reveals some eerie parallels:
Stevens: It's not time to make a change
Just relax, take it easy.
Al Qaeda: [The member] should have plenty of patience...He should be patient in performing the work, even if it lasts a long time.

Stevens: You're still young, that's your fault
There's so much you have to know.
Al Qaeda: The nature of hard and continuous work in dangerous conditions requires a great deal of psychological, mental, and intellectual fitness, which are not usually found in a minor.

Stevens: From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.
Al Qaeda: expressed by how the member obeys the orders given to him. That is what our religion urges.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

WHERE I CAN BE ME, AND YOU CAN BE SUED: Radosh has fallen behind in his coverage of all things Huckapoo, so we must fill in the gap by looking to the trademark office. Soon, we'll have to put that (R) symbol behind "Huckapoo," at least on some goods. They're still fighting on this one and this one. Frighteningly, that last application is owned by "Huckapoo, Inc.," which may or may not be related to "Kids Incorporated." However, the band may be in trouble, because someone already owns the trademark HUK-A-POO, which is perhaps in even poorer taste than the band name, and could lead to all sorts of mess.

And to satisfy Radosh's other frequent obsession, we note that this month's "GQ" features what are apparently new and exciting Lohanboobie pictures--sadly, no links are yet available.
LET'S HOPE THE DOWRY DOESN'T INCLUDE A TEAM OF OXEN: Team Intensity is tying the knot. Colin proposed to Christie this morning on the CBS's "Early Show." If CBS is smart, they'll sign them up right now for a "Newlyweds"-type show.

As for last night's show, the highlight had to be Chip faking out the God Squad during the flag challenge. Chip's fine acting skills shouldn't have been a surprise regular readers of this blog.

And while because of the show's success this season we're going to have to wait longer for No. 6, here are some recent "TAR" articles of note:
*What's it like to be on the other side of the camera?
*Some interesting insight into "TAR" from the Washington Post and USA Today.
*I missed it, but apparently Charla was lugging some beef around last Saturday on "Mad TV."

SHANTHRAX VACCINATION: People here like America's Next Top Model. It's back tonight.
350 INSANE PEOPLE AND AN OPEN BAR: Yes, I've returned from TARCON in one piece. I'm proud to say it's among the dorkiest things I've ever done, and that comes from someone who's been involved in Academic Decathlon and Model UN. (Joke structure stolen from Sarah Vowell). A few observations (which contain spoilers, though I suspect West Coasters are still glued to their sets):

1. Teams hated based on booing during opening credits? Kami and Karli and Allison and Donny.
2. Teams loved based on cheering during opening credits? Linda and Karen and Chip and Kim.
3. Teams with both cheerers and booers during opening credits? Charla and Mirna and Colin and Christie.
4. I'm a shy person, so didn't introduce myself to the folks like Miss Alli and Sars who were sitting around (or the many racers), but ran into Mark Dixon, who I didn't immediately recognize, but who recognized me immediately from prior gatherings related to another show. Sorry we didn't get to talk at greater length, Mark.
5. Those who cared about "Big Brother" were apparently equally divided between those who were quite happy with the winner, and those who really wanted the goofy guy with the cowboy hat to win. I spent the entire last half-hour of the "BB" finale waiting for a drink and my dinner at the bar, so found it difficult to care.
6. I didn't watch TAR1, but I think it was the Frats there with a "Cold Pizza" crew, and the Guidos arrived later, with Guido. In addition, the Clowns from TAR4 arrived, and I think there were several folks from "Survivor" there, but I didn't recognize them.
7. The cheer that went up in Play by Play whenever something went right for Chip and Kim or wrong for Colin and Christie was deafening. There was, however, a small and vehement section of Colin and Christie supporters that liked to make "Hook 'em Horns" whenever something went right. On behalf of Texas, I'd like to apologize.
8. The amount of fist pumping and screaming engaged in both by me personally and by the entirety of TARCON as Chip and Kim approached victory is more than slightly embarrassing. (Although I will note that I correctly predicted the winner on Friday night.)
9. Shortly after 11:30, Racers from TAR5 and related celebrities began to arrive. Thoughts on them follow.
10. Bowling Moms--what you see on TV is exactly what you get, although there's less screaming and yelling, which appears likely to have been caused (at least in part) by Killer Fatigue. They sat down with random TARCONners and chatted. Just nice, friendly people, whose classy exit says more about them.
11. Mirna (without Charla)--I walked past her and wouldn't have noticed except for that she was fiddling with a gaudy gold clutch bag, and was less mobbed than the other Racers. She was within 10 feet of Colin at the time and violence had not ensued.
12. Brandon and Nicole--Nicole is very very pretty, and Brandon's hair is less Blue Lagoon-y in person (though still there). Mobbed for pictures with oodles of TARCON attendees, and kind and generous to a fault.
13. Colin and Christie--Colin has gotten a haircut, which makes him look MUCH better (though he's still like 5'7"), and Christie is quite pretty, even though she was wearing a fugly multi-colored poncho-type thing. Colin accepted, and briefly wore, a "My Ox is BROKEN!" T-Shirt, so he apparently has a sense of humor about even those unpleasant days. Sadly, cheering was still so loud in Play by Play I didn't hear their (apparently classy) farewell, which apparently really reflects who they are.
14. Phil. He's Phil. He showed. 'Nuff said.
15. Chip and Kim--Chip is a big big dude physically as well as presence-wise--he fills a room with his jovialness. I will say that as soon as he made his way through the paparazzi-esque receiving line, Chip made a beeline for the bar, so we know where at least some of those million bucks are going.

I left at around 12:45, so may have missed still more fun, but I had a ball, and will return, especially if I can find someone to go with.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

IT'S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG: Let us discuss all aspects of the TAR5 finale in the Comments space, and leave the posting area free for those not yet knowing what we now know, about the things to do in Denver when your team's dead.

Fasten your seatbelts.
"PUPPETS CAN VOTE IN FLORIDA:" Yes, someone, at long last, got Bill O'Reilly to shut up on his own show. Wonkette has the details of Jon Stewart getting pissed off at O'Reilly as he refers to the audience of "The Daily Show" (repeatedly) as "stoned slackers."
KREUGER/VOORHEES '08: In the midst of polls galore claiming to predict the election, CNN wrighs in with a factual connection that they think may hold true--"the winner in every election since 1980 has been the candidate whose masks were most popular on Halloween." Currently, Bush masks are outselling Kerry masks 57-43. The lowest sales for a nominee mask since 1980? Walter Mondale, because honestly, who wants to be a boring Minnesotan for Halloween?
MOREOVER, SHE DID NOT RECORD 'HOT IN HERRE': The Buffalo News, of all people, does a little truth-squadding on singer-songwriter Nellie MacKay.
ONE CAN ONLY PRAY FOR A RETURN OF 'GUIDOS ON ICE': Tonight marks the final episode of The Amazing Race 5, the best reality show on television:
Sunday, the TV academy chose, once again, to reward the reality show that, wire-to-wire, thrusts its contestants into more real-world experiences than anything else on television. This is not Trump hogging the spotlight in the boardroom. This is not a bunch of bored twenty-somethings locked in a faux house, carping at each other (hello, 'Big Brother'). It doesn't have a tribal council or a snarky Simon Cowell to call out its failures. Nobody's pulling out engagement rings or handing out roses. It's not the classic example of popular reality TV.

Instead, this show puts its contestants in direct contact with people from all different cultures, in all manner of environments, and then just lets them go. There's no way to stage-manage what comes out.

Express your hopes, your fears, your thoughts and, oh yes, your predictions, right here.

Monday, September 20, 2004

ALOTTFMA, WHERE THE CUSTOMER IS KING: Bumping up Carie's post from the pop canon thread:
here is an idea for a new thread - somewhat in the same vein as best album...My friends and I are currently compiling our soundtracks. If we were to make a movie - What songs would you want on the soundtrack?

Have at it.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

OPEN EMMY THREAD: Thus far, Mr. Shandling is painfully unfunny and the winners are dreadfully obvious, though appreciated in the case of Michael Imperioli and Drea de Matteo both winning for The Sopranos. Comment as you see fit.
SUPPORTING TRUTH IN ADVERTISING: Two movies seen this weekend, and I feel compelled to correct misapprehensions the advertising has created for both of them. The first, Sky Captain And The Excessively Long Title, has been pitched as a nostalgic action movie for adults. However, watching it, you realize that it's the movie you'd get if you gave a 12 year old boy a massive visual effects budgets. The narrative spills out like it's being told by an overexcited child. "And then the giant robots came and attacked! And then the plane turns in to a submarine! And then there were the dinosaurs! And the spaceship!" Hence, the narrative makes almost no sense, though there's much pretty to gawk at.

The other is Wimbledon, which has been marketed as a kicky Kirsten Dunst romcom. Instead, what we get is a British variant on a Ron Shelton movie, with Paul Bettany as the journeyman getting his last chance to succeed. Bettany may be second billed, but he owns the movie. Given that, you can project almost exactly the track that the film is going to take, but I still pumped my fist as the final match proceeded to its natural conclusion. I'm not a tennis fan, but you see the passion and intensity of the game as the ball pops back and forth. It's been marketed to teenage girls, who are going to be disappointed, but those who enjoyed Bull Durham and For the Love of the Game will enjoy this one.