Sunday, December 31, 2006

Nathan Lane, ladies and gentlemen.

With thanks for recommending the link to Mark Evanier, who has some qualms.

I shouldn't link to this because I don't want to give even tacit approval to the secret and illegal videotaping of live performances but it's just too good...This is seven minutes from the recent Broadway production of The Odd Couple starring Mr. Lane and Matthew Broderick. It's shot poorly and unethically from the balcony but it's still funny.

I understand Mark's hesitation. But I have to admit that in the case of something like this that most of us were never going to get a chance to pay to see...

Well, right or wrong, if it's a choice between watching an illegal videotape of a hilarious, amazing and otherwise unpreserved performance or not, my personal ethical bar is set a little lower.

The scene is comedy gold, BTW, and has been done by dozens of actors both pro and amateur, in full productions and acting class scenes. Including, incidentally, yours truly in the latter. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Lane is funnier than I was.

Call it a hunch.

I've seen it, it's rubbish

Continuing my new tradition of late night cable TV viewing reviews, this morning I finally managed to sit through the film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It was uphill work.

There are reasons why it took 30 years or whatever to bring Hitchhiker's to the big screen, and one of them is that it does not lend itself to a couple hours length or a dramatic format. It's not a drama, it's a comedic yarn, a great one, and trying to make it confrom to the rules of drama (such as they are) could only ever have ended in tears.

The "laid-back," sprawling quality of the aural, TV and book versions accounts for a great deal of their charm, and trying to squeeze so much of it in can't have pleased many. People like me who are familiar with the original will be aggravated by some of the seemingly random changes, and I wonder if those who weren't followed it at all

Yet the words that come to my mind are "noble failure." I'm satisfied that most if not all of those concerned were honestly trying to do justice to Douglas Adams' novel, etc, without being a slavish imitation of the previous versions.

There were plenty of little touches along the way (the use of the original theme "Journey of the Sorcerer" by the Eagles, the TV series Marvin getting a look in, etc) to assure me of that. The trouble is it didn't work, and sometimes when it didn't work, it really didn't work.

Sometimes it only almost, but not quite, completely didn't work.

Worst of all was Sam Rockwell's Zaphod. He was either directed or chose to play the part as a lampoon of George W. Bush. Which is a "reimagining" that is both out of character and will date the film horribly in the unlikely event anyone tries to watch it in 30 years.

On the other arm, Zooey Deschanel's Trillian was probably the most improved considering her character's always been one of the weakest parts in the series. In the film, she's the most interesting character and the only one I could see spending an evening talking to.

And it's not just because she's pretty. As Adams himself found in later books, most of his characters aren't really "heroic" in the traditional dramatic sense, which works fine for the rambling narrative it originally was, but not so much for a two-hour movie.

Trillian is the only one who goes out and actually does anything for any reasons that seem inward-directed, and therefore she's the only one who could possibly have engendered much audience sympathy.

And I found myself strangely respecting Mos Def for finding a new way to approach Ford Prefect, one of my favorites. You can see him trying to find a way to approach his lines that suggest a true alien, for whom Earthling, let alone English, is not a first language.

The trouble is, he's not terribly funny in the role (though still, paradoxically, funnier than anybody else). And Ford, once he's served his individual and sole plot purpose of rescuing Arthur from the exploding Earth, really needs to be funny. Or else the character's just going to disappear into the landscape, as Def, sadly, does.

On the direction/adaptation front, I was astonished at how many of the biggest ideas of the story were treated as throwaways. This may have seemed droll in the filmmaking, but from my POV it made the movie duller and harder to understand.

Speaking of POV, one of the new elements in the film is something called a POV gun, the idea of which is that if you shoot someone with it, they instantly see things from your point of view. It's used as a quick-and-clean way to expose a character's innermost feelings, leading me to dub it "the exposition gun."

This makes for a scene which for me perfectly encapsulated the failure of the new HGttG as drama. In the words of the Robot Devil on Futurama (the best SF satire since the original Hitchhiker's):

"You can't just have your characters announce how they feel! That makes me feel angry!"

At the end, I'm forced to the conclusion that the problem may not have been with the performances, the direction or the adaptation (though all could have been better). The problem is inherent with the source material.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy didn't really need to be a movie, it's not best served by the form. I'm assuming most of you who are reading this have seen the 1981 TV series, heard the records, and/or read the books, and if you haven't, I urge you to do so.

This movie is perhaps a third, at best, of what Hitchhiker's, at it's best, really is.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Okay, the "Saddam being hanged" thing

Welcome to Pottersville has the best take on it I've seen tonight so far, along with a great quote from the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

No one but his family and friends (if he had any) is going to mourn Saddam Hussein, but it's short-sighted in the extreme to pretend that this sort of "prize" is worth all we've gone through to get it.

we did squander nearly 3000 lives to depose, capture, try, convict and sentence a single man who was found guilty of killing less than 5% of that number.

The reason for which Saddam will be executed, his ordering the massacre of 148 Shi’ites in 1982, was never, to my knowledge, mentioned in the run-up to war. Perhaps the reason why it was never mentioned was because Saddam carried out these executions with a wink and a nod from Reagan and Poppy, his two bestest buddies. Rummy would soon join the club in December 1983 bearing gifts such as poison gas and satellite photos of the Iranian army’s position.

Our hands are filthy.

(Even though, as Fox and the producers of 24 keep telling us even after my friendly warning, "America doesn't negotiate with terrorists. Neither does Jack.")

Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and Joe Scarborough

This is a real poll.

It's times like these I really regret MST3K is no longer on the air.

Early this morning, in one of those whimsical "you're up, it's on cable" moods, I gave a low-budget slasher-horror film called Scarecrow Gone Wild a try. Oh, my god. Honesty dictates I should tell you I was not exactly expecting great things from a B-movie called Scarecrow Gone Wild, but still: Oh, my god.

This thing is below-MST3K caliber all the way. The acting seems nonexistent, but (bending over backwards to be fair to a young cast) it is impossible to tell if the actors could ever be any good, because: The direction is incompetent and the, I refuse to believe there was a script. The dialogue makes Kevin Smith sound like Noel Coward.

Here's the scrap of plot: A college hazing victim merges with the soul of a murderous scarcrow and kills the kids who did this to him, on the beach. But put all that aside. It is the most plainly homoerotic slasher-horror film I've seen since at least the Jeepers Creepers movies, and maybe since the infamous Nightmare on Elm St Pt. 2.

First of all, the actor...and I use the word loosely...who was cast to play the role of the victim turned homicidal maniac is a young man with the fake-sounding name of Caleb Roehrig. Obviously I am not privy to Mr. Roehrig's sexual orientation, but I can say that he comes off about as straight as the love child of Liberace and Scott Thompson's Buddy Cole character from The Kids in the Hall.

This wouldn't necessarily be a problem, except that this immidiately noticable "vibe" means whether intentionally or not (I'd guess not), early scenes in which there's talk of setting his character up with a girl can only be greeted with hoots of derision. He, and/or his character, is clearly a gay man. Remember that, it may be important.

And then there's the good ole' boys he spends the rest of the film putting to sleep (much like the audience, ba-da-boom). Most of these fellows seem to spend inordinate amounts of time holding one another, considering their characters are supposed to be straight. And despite the presence of one or two really rather cute girls.

One of whom, a young woman named Tara Platt, has a part that consists almost wholly of sleeping with her friend's boyfriend, going topless and being killed off. Who says there are no good roles for women any more?

But my point in bringing this up is, even on the most base level of providing pleasant eye-candy for a straight male and/or lesbian audience, this film fails.

Not because Platt is anything less than lovely to look at, she's quite beautiful. But this film seems to have been made mainly on cold, cold days. I'm not making a cheap nipple joke, I'm picturing a director screaming "I don't care about your frostbitten toes, I'm losing the light!"

The scenes of Platt's exposed, pale skin and her bikini-clad form walking into an icy-looking sea do not inspire thoughts of the "hubba-hubba" variety. It's more like will someone for god's sakes get that girl a blanket and some hot chocolate and sit her down by the fire?

There's actually one or two good web sites devoted to looking at horror movies from a queer perspective (my favorite is Camp Blood-get it, get, huh?). I think such a film dramatizing the alienation many if not most young gay men must feel if surrounded by homophobic straight frat-boys could-potentially-be great.

That's the obvious subtext here. But what moves this film from the merely poor to the jaw-droppingly, inexplicably, irresponsibly bad is this: The hazing of the kid who's going to come back and get them, get them all, consists of his being stripped, beaten and left tied to a scarecrow all night.

And then it stops being funny. Because you realize that the filmmakers moral compass is so skewed they're willing to invoke the real-life horror of Matthew Shephard as the inciting incident for their stalker flick. But not willing to come out and say that's what their crappy movie is about.

And that makes Scarecrow Gone Wild not just a bad film, but an actually evil one.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Songs I'm listening to this Christmas Eve

"The Christmas Waltz," as recorded by Frank Sinatra the second time as a single for Capitol records.

"Merry Christmas, May Your Every New Year Dream Come True"

It almost always makes me smile as the last chorus fades out when Frank says "Merry Christmas," and he sounds...innocent. Innocence had passed him by a long time ago, but in that moment, on that record, I believe it. The choral group helps-it's haunting (in a good way).

All of us sometimes need our innocence restored, even if it's only artifice. Or art. And if Frank could do it, then there is always hope for the rest of us.

In 1961 Kenneth Tynan wrote,
A few months ago my nine-year-old daughter came in to be kissed while I was playing [Miles Davis'] most haunting LP, Kind of Blue. She listened for a moment and then said: 'That's Miles Davis.' I asked her how she could tell. 'Because, she replied, 'it sounds like a little boy who's been locked out and wants to get in.'

She Won't Be Home
by Erasure

And I wanted to say to you
How much I want to be with you
I wanted to say to you
How much I need to be with you
Christmas time comes once a year
She knows this time he won't be near

She phones her mum
Says this time she cannot come
Don't worry I'm with friends this Christmas
Dad gets upset
But in time he soon forgets
Here comes another lonely Christmas

I still love the way the lines "I wanted to say to you how much I need to be with you," repeated in the chorus into the fade, start to sound, unintentionally, like "I wanted to say to you how much I need to scream with you."

PS: As luck has it, someone's posted a homemade video for this song to YouTube. It's made up of clips from the cartoon movie Anastasia, which I haven't seen, but they seem to work pretty good with the song.

The Charlie Brown Christmas musical soundtrack is a must, of course. What it always captures for me is the melancholy of the holiday. Plus it's an obvious thing to say, but I seriously love Vince Guaraldi's piano playing.

This probably won't be allowed to stay up long (and the sound is a little tinny), but for soever long as it lasts, here's the first seven-odd minutes of the special. Enjoy.
"I know nobody likes me. Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?"

You tell 'em, Chuck old boy.

"Random" Flickr-Blogging: IMG_1225 (get it?)

This is the kind of picture that makes you think women know something the rest of us don't. Or: There's something in this about all women, # 5


Tourism's been going up in Japan since they decided to start making houses in the shape of Darth Vader.


Friday, December 22, 2006

The lights grow dim for Rainbow Brite

Yeah, you know where this comes from-another one plucked from the Tree of Thoughts.

Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it's our last

In 2004 the UK voted it their favorite Christmas song. Over such greats as Baby Please Come Home by U2 (and originally Darlene Love), Little Drummer Boy, White Christmas and Do They Know It's Christmas, just to name a few.

This year, MuchMusic's (Canada's MTV) show of top 20 holiday songs/videos listed it as #2. I find it signifigant that the Canadians, with their apologetic natures, chose Do They Know It's Christmas as #1, and not Tears Are Not Enough, Canada's own 1985 charity single. I guess they still feel bad about the whole Bryan Adams thing.

It reached no. 10 in the official charts this year almost 20 years after its initial release, and only lost a new vote because of a last-day message board rally by Queen fans for Thank God It's Christmas.

Times like this I like to remember something I was once told: That Freddie Mercury himself once compared Queen's music to tissue paper--an immensely useful thing when you need it, but definitively disposable.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, from a 1988 (just look at her glorious long red hair) live performance on St. Patrick's Day...The Fairytale of New York, by Kirsty MacColl with The Pogues.

The most indispensible Christmas song...ever.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Okay, the "beauty pageant winners gone wild" thing

I haven't said much about this item because I figured Jon Stewart and especially Stephen Colbert have pretty much said what there was to be said: Blah blah blah blah male hypocrisy, blah blah blah homophobia, blah blah prudes, blah prurience.

Jon & Stephen said it a lot more satirically than that. Then I turn to TMZ this afternoon and find this:
TMZ has learned that Katie Rees, Miss Nevada USA 2007, has been stripped of her title after racy photos emerged of her kissing other women and exposing herself.

And it dawns on me: It's a publicity stunt. Okay, so sometimes I'm an idiot. Otherwise it wouldn't have taken me X-many days to figure that out. But if memory serves, ratings for the pageants have been on the wane a while, and you don't have to be brilliant to figure out why.

In an age where we're only two clicks away from being able to see Britney Spears' vagina at any given time, what hold does a beauty pageant have? So some combination of the girls, Trump, and/or other officials have decided to go after a little of that L Word/Girls Gone Wild dollar.

You have to admit it's worked like a charm. Ask yourself: When was the last time you heard so much about the beauty pageant winners? That's right, back in 1984 with the Vanessa Williams issue.

Again if memory serves, back then it actually was about hlah blah blah blah male hypocrisy, blah blah blah homophobia, blah blah prudes, blah prurience. But this is just a cynical publicity stunt.

Resist the obvious joke about the Director of something called the Palm Center writing about guys in the shower

Seriously, resist that urge. Because this is serious stuff, and good too. Via The Carpetbagger,

A new poll reveals that 73% of military members say they are comfortable around lesbians and gays. And 23% say they know an active duty soldier in their unit who is lesbian or gay…. More than half — 55% — of the troops who know a gay peer said the presence of gays or lesbians in their unit is well known by others.

Only 5% of troops said they are “very uncomfortable” around gays.

For years, conservatives have said allowing gay people to wear a uniform and put their lives on the line for their country would undermine troop morale and lead to fewer Americans signing up for military service, because soldiers are ill at ease around gay people. The claim was always weak, but with poll results like these, it’s pretty thoroughly debunked.

Okay I'm resisting one obvious temptation but I have to give in to this one: Do you suppose there are any conservatives who say that maybe, just maybe, seeing the dishonesty of the White House might lead to fewer Americans signing up for military service?

Two years after it came out, I think that might be, or should have been, the most impactful statement Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" made. Once we've shown the troops we're willing to ask them to kill or be killed for lies, well... do we expect to ask them (or anyone) to put the uniform on at all, much less wear it with pride?

Okay, that's pretty heavy stuff, so here's the paragraph I was talking about in the headline:

Prominent supporters of “don’t ask, don’t tell” have expressed concerns about privacy in the shower, [Dr. Aaron Belkin, Director of the Palm Center, who has written widely on the subject] said, but nearly three out of four troops said in the Zogby poll that they usually or almost always take showers privately – only 8% say they usually or almost always take showers in group stalls.

To be naked and fresh is always hard

NPR's Fresh Air has a couple of particuarly interesting film interviews today.

The first is with Bill Condon, who directed and wrote the screenplay adaptation for the new movie "Dreamgirls." He also wrote the screenplay for the adaptation of "Chicago," and wrote and directed "Kinsey" and "Gods and Monsters," for which screenplay he won the Aademy Award.

So I'm saying he's the real deal.

The second interview is with Christine Vachon, a producer whose films include "A Dirty Shame," "Camp," "Storytelling," "One Hour Photo" and "I Shot Andy Warhol." To be truthful I haven't actually liked most of her movies that I've seen.

But I'm recommending the interview anyway, because she has some good stories about negotiating with ratings boards, and because she uses the phrase "blinking vagina" in a sentence.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Thanks to Wings For Wheels

...where Dave Lifton has kindly included this blog in a post of links.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A sign from God

Via, Alec Baldwin says Obama is not ready to run for President. Well, that settles it. Run, Obama, run.

Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection

Shakespeare's Sister registers her disgust with a Christian group that is seeking to "re-claim" a symbol of the gay community, by going into the rainbow business.

Business is, of course, the operative word here. As I've vociferously complained previously, hate-mongering against the LGBT community sponsored by Gun-Toting Jesus Brand Religious Intolerance Righteousness is a massive cash cow: "Millions and millions of dollars are raised every year by people professing to preach The Word in exchange for a few dollars (and a few more, and a few more) in the collection baskets, but all they’re really doing is selling a product—a way to cope with a changing world that robs bigots of their undeserved dominion, that tells them they really, at long last, must share equality with non-Christians, the LGBT community, strong women, minorities, and immigrants in the public sphere. They are losing control they were never meant to have, and Christianity 2.0 sells them the righteous anger and victimhood they need. In these desperate people, the hate peddlers have found a ripe market for their wares.

ETA: By the way, is it just me? Or did anybody else get the feeling that the unexpectedly warm reaction to Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" at the box office last weekend was the work of those self-same professed Christian livers? Especially followed by this weeks steep dive.

Call me a conspiracy theorist if you must, but it's not that hard to imagine that some of those filled with God's love just couldn't stand the idea of seeing their boy humiliated, and beat the bushes for ticketbuyers opening weekend.

Oh, and by the by, if you look over to the right there and scroll down, you'll see I've added another permanent little something.

Random Flickr-Blogging: IMG_9684: BONUS

Deep down, Roland knew that the dolphins had only come to his birthday party for the Mountain Dew and cake, but he appreciated it nevertheless. And they were very gracious about it.

"So long, and thanks for all the..."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sharon Stone ain't got nothin' on my ass

You Are Basic Panties

You are a laid back chick with a real natural beauty.
You can make unwashed hair and minimal make-up super sexy.
Men tend to notice you show the "real you" - and they appreciate it.
And while basic makes boring for some, it looks classic on you.

Random Flickr-Blogging: IMG_9684: One Words & Image, one funny

Now -
The mist across the window hides their eyes
But nothing hides the colour of the lights that shine
Electricity so fine
Look and dry your eyes
--Joe Jackson, "Steppin' Out"

"You...hate Christmas?"
"I detest it. It's horrible, it's fascist. It excludes the lonely, the outcast, the ugly. All Christmases do, whether they're Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu...all the ceremonies are for members only. They make the rest of us so miserable."

~Shade #19


Moments later, Gracie Chan got an idea.


Time is like a clock in my heart, Touch we touch

By chance I happened to catch VH1's "Rock Doc" presentation of the movie "The Return of Courtney Love." I found it compelling, but then, I find Love compelling. In a mad way, I've felt for a while now that I understood her.

Part of it is that stupid-dick thing I have about seeing psychologically tortured women and thinking "Well, if only I was their lover or friend..." I do find her incredibly sexy, but it's not just about that, there are a lot of celebrity women I find sexy that I couldn't imagine actually sitting in a room and having a long conversation or even exchanging emails with.

But ...well, let me back up for a minute here. When she made her "meltdown" (as some termed it) appearance on David Letterman in 2004, she seemed to most to be incoherent. Probably, in a lateral, literal sense, she was.

Yet I watched that appearance and I remember thinking that, for the most part, I understood exactly what she was talking about. In a similar way to how I always thought I understood exactly what "Strawberry Fields Forever" meant & didn't understand all the books puzzling about it.

We're only a few years apart in age, Love and I, close enough that she was dropping references to cultural touchstones I understood, the thing is, she wasn't leaving pebbles for those in the dark to follow.

I don't do drugs; I've never done drugs, and for the most part her music isn't for me. Though I got a kick out of one or two of the singles off "Celebrity Skin." Of course I would like the glossy pop one, I'm the guy who thought it was appropriate to headline a blog post about her with a quote from a Boy George lyric.

Some of the clips of her recording the songs for her new album, seen in the doc, were promising too. But to me, there is a burning core of intelligence at the heart of the girl, however caked in psychological make-up and bad habits and protective walls. Which is, underneath the gossip sites and tabloid image we have of her, part of what keeps me coming back.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sometimes the wheel turns slowly, but it turns

HarperCollins Fires Judith Regan Who Backed O.J. Simpson Book

(Bloomberg) -- Editor Judith Regan, who backed a book by O.J. Simpson on how he could have killed his ex- wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, was fired yesterday by HarperCollins, a unit of News Corp.

Among other things, Regan is a garden-variety GOP hypocrite.

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you

Most every month, I get a handful of comments and/or emails on this blog from people that I don't know. Which is cool. But I'd just like to know a little bit about who you are and where you came from. Or what you like or not about the blog.

So if you wouldn't mind, tap on the comments line down there to the right and introduce yourself. Tell me anything and everything you want me to know, or you think I might like to know about you.

A few suggested questions to answer follow.

When and how did you find my blog?
When you're not reading this blog, what are you trying to do with your life?
And how's that going for you?
Where did you grow up, and where do you live now?

Marital status?
Democrat, Republican, or other?

Use as many or none of them as you like. BTW, this is strictly for my own curiosity, I'm not conducting a demographic survey or anything.

Friday, December 15, 2006

So you see the kind of rape you get depends on what you pay

Oof. This one just opens (trap) door after door. Shakespeare's Sister:
The online virtual game Second Life has a swell feature that allows players to purchase a rape:

Gawker: "What's the fun of enjoying your second life in Second Life without a little ultraviolence? ... We're not as conversant with SL's moral conventions as your average nerd, but it surprises even our jaded souls that you can indulge in rape fantasies (options: 'Rape victim,' 'Get raped,' or 'Hold victim') for a trifling 220 Linden dollar things. Nice that the purchase takes place in an evocative back alley, with the actual rape set in some kind of red cobblestone gimp-dungeon."

Ann at Feministing has more, and points to a review of a game calle RapeLay, which actually made my stomach churn and eyes water as I read the description of the game. [Warning: Graphic content ahead.]

If you can stand it. Me, I'm thinking about those wrongheaded fucks who praise video games as a form of art with beautiful, poetic moments. Now I'm not stupid. I wouldn't really want to condemn an entire branch of entertainment because of one or two anti-life examples.

(If I did, I'd have given up on Doctor Who after "Love & Monsters.")

Rape and other anti-life moments have been fantasized about (or at least trivialized) in comic books, movies, music, probably puppet shows, and music videos. And musicals. including The Fantastiks, referenced in my headline.

And I don't think any of those forms of entertainment are bad per se. Nevertheless.

I'm reading these reviews and I'm thinking about those wrongheaded fucks who praise video games as a form of art with beautiful, poetic moments.

And I'm wondering:

Tron led to this?

Tuned to a natural "E."

Here, in a connection pulled out of the ether, are two posts that just make me feel good. First, courtesy of Kos,
To amplify what others are pointing out, the know-nothing Beltway Blowhards are conveniently ignoring a hugely important point:

Democrats now have 233 seats in the 110th congress, more than Republicans have had since 1952. the Republican "revolution" never secured this large a majority in the House. We beat them. We did better than they ever did. So much for the vaunted Republican political machine, which recorded record voter contacts, record fundraising, and record early voting this cycle. With their best effort, we beat them harder than they ever beat us.

This is a progressive country. All the talk of a "conservative" majority destroyed with a Democratic majority that towers over the best the Republican "revolution" could ever muster.

It's been a good year.

And second:


Someone filmed my dream

For a few years now, I've been saying that when we die, if we've been good, we take a hot shower with Virginia Madsen.

I still stand by that. She reminds me of Lillian Gish (in-joke you have to have seen the above movie to get).

But this...this would be pretty good too.

(Another branch from the Tree of Thoughts)

Just in case any of you were wondering...

Yes indeed, I was caught up in that motherfucker of a windstorm we had here in Washington (and Oregon) last night. I gather from the news that it was the worst since a storm that hit the night of Bill Clinton's first inaugeration, before I lived here.

That irony-loving god. Every time the Democrats win a signifigant electoral victory, he takes away power from one of the most Democratic places in the country.

My lights went out last night around 10:30 and only just came on about a half an hour ago, give or take (I was actually out when they did).

I was able to switch off power to the computer so there wouldn't be a surge when it came back on. And as luck would have it, I had a candle handy. So I read for an hour and a half (my eyes are ruined anyway) to see if they would come back on, then took asprin and sleeping pills around midnight. I dug out my portable casette player, put new batteries in it and listened to old radio tapes till asleep.

My area didn't have a lot of falling branches, but that wind was so bad I was actually wondering if my windows would hold up. But honestly, I had it good-this storm actually claimed four lives, and although I missed having heat (believe me!) at least I was inside.

Where I could get under a blanket and afgan and a couple of cats.

And at least I don't live in the city that used to be New Orleans.

But just in case you were wondering.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

That's my girl

Anne Hathaway, Jessica Biel and Jennifer Hudson are this year's winners at the Hollywood Magazine's Breakthrough Awards.

Hathaway won the Star of the Year award for her role in The Devil Wears Prada, and Jessica Biel and Jennifer Hudson were also honoured for their roles in The Illusionist and Dreamgirls respectively.

I don't know Hudson or her work, but Jessica Biel isn't fit to wear Anne's nail polish.

Spider's webs and dragon's lairs (Some nights you just feel more isolated from your culture than others)

As always, I want to draw a perhaps-thin distinction. I don't like to see anyone criticize things they don't know about; so I'm going to be trying not to do that in what follows.

What I want to talk about is why I find myself with surprisingly little interest in seeing the new Charlotte's Web or Eragon. And I'll acknowledge up-front Web's been getting generally good reviews, and it's entirely possible that I'm "wrong."

Beyond the coincidence of their opening at the same time, there are a couple of connections between them. Both are based on popular children's books, one I've read, one I have not.

And in both cases, my resistance to seeing them stems largely from the realization of a non-human character.

Look, I'm an archnaphobe from way back (I trace it to a television viewing of Tarantula at too young an age). When reading the book by E.B. White I could keep the picture of Charlotte in my mind's eye in such a way that I could deal with it. I probably did it subconsciously.

Hanna-Barbera had the good sense to anthropomorphize her enough that I could do the same thing. The new movie has a CGI, realistic-looking spider seen in close-up. That's just fucking creepy, whether Julia Roberts' voice is coming out of it or not.

As for Eragon, I haven't read the book, but based on the TV ads, I just want to ask: How is it possible that in something like almost 60 years of modern filmmaking, the one-and-only good onscreen dragon is the one in Dragonslayer?

Dragonheart, which looked like it was going to be so cool in theory, ended up being fucked by its director and Reign of Fire was just stupid. Dragonslayer's only a good movie, not a great one, but it makes them look sick, and the dragon puts them all to shame.

Now that's what I'm talkin' 'bout! (I like dragons a lot. Have I mentioned that to you people?)

Seriously. Did I miss one?

(Apart from an unjustly obscure animated short I saw at a festival back in 1991, Denny Goes Air Surfing. Which, believe you me, if I could find online I would post here in a milisecond.)

The things you find when stars of TV shows you like are nominated for Golden Globes

I was just idly looking her up to see if there were any good reaction quotes-Sarah Paulson, the lone nominee for "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip", is gay. I had no idea.

I suppose it's postively indecent of me to mention how much I've been enjoying the fact that promos for her Christmas-themed romantic TV-movie include her saying the words:

"Ben, I have faith in you."

Sigh. Best invocation of my name from an actress I like since the moment on the "Leaving Las Vegas" soundtrack CD where Elisabeth Shue says "Don't you like me, Ben?"

I could die every time....

Other nominations for shows I like include "24," which was nominated for best drama and best actor (Kiefer Sutherland) and "House," which got a best actor nom for Hugh Laurie.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Oh, spiffy

Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota was hospitalized after becoming disoriented Wednesday, weeks before his party is to take control of the Senate by a one-vote margin.

Johnson, who turns 60 on Dec. 28, was admitted to George Washington University Hospital with an undiagnosed illness, said a spokeswoman, Julianne Fisher.

She said, however, the senator did not suffer a stroke or heart attack. His office had said earlier it was a possible stroke.

Democrats won a 51-49 majority in the November election. South Dakota's Republican governor, Mike Rounds, would appoint a replacement to serve until the 2008 election should Johnson die or resign.

If the Senate is split 50-50, the vice president breaks ties. That is Republican Dick Cheney at present.

The worst thing about this-besides the worst thing about this-is that if it happens, we can count on some of the godfearing, Christian GOP to start referring to it as an act of god.

au revoir, Peter Boyle

Updated: Wings For Wheels has a nice rememberance of him too.

Peter Boyle, who played the tap-dancing monster in "Young Frankenstein" and the curmudgeonly father in the long-running sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond," has died.

I'm remembering his turn as the racist old father in "Monster's Ball," and his good work in "The Candidate," still one of the best and most acute political movies ever made. I'm also kind of fond of his work in "The Dream Team" as the former ad exec with a Messiah complex.

Coincidentally I have been watching "Everybody Loves Raymond" a little more recently because I read producer Philip Rosenthal's book. By and large I can either take it or leave it.

But I've seen enough to get a sense that Boyle's role on that show was to be a little one-note. But that one note he played, he played exceedingly well.

I'm also remembering a charming movie he made back in 1973 called "Steelyard Blues." I don't know how well-known it is today. I only know it because in the book "Harlan Ellison's Watching" there's a rave review Ellison wrote of it at the time. Along with what he called "A Sort Of An Interview With Peter Boyle," so named because he didn't feel he was able to spend enough time with the actor.

Rather touchingly, Ellison admits in the piece that one reason for doing the (sort of) interview was that he wanted to meet and possibly become friends with Boyle. I was gratified to see them together on a talk show (I think it was "Politically Incorrect") years later, and get the sense that it had happened.

But like most people, I suppose, I do think of him first in "Young Frankenstein"-Mel Brooks' best film, I've always thought. Everybody remembers the dancing, but with the repeat viewings to which the film holds up, you realize that Boyle's performance contains a note of pathos that is the soul of the film.

Pathos usually defeats comedians, most of whom have to be kept away from their Chaplin shit with a whip and a chair (think Robin Williams). But although he could be extraordinarily funny, Boyle was an actor through-and-through first.

As fortune would have it, "Young Frankenstein" is currently availible in the cable On-Demand section. I shall almost certainly be watching it later.

"If you're blue, and you don't know where to go to, why don't you go where fashion sits..."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dwarf Star

Two quick casting observations:

I didn't mention this at the time because I was lost in one of my paralytic depressions. But five representatives of four different "Star Trek" series have now appeared on "Boston Legal:" William Shatner, Jeri Ryan, Rene Auberjonois, Armin Shimerman, and last week, Michelle Forbes.*

And apparently there's a new rule: If a part exists for a dwarf woman on a Tuesday-night show I watch, Meredith Eaton-Gilden will play it. She's had a several episode stint as a client turned Denny Crane's onetime paramour on "Boston Legal," and tonight a guest-star part on "House."

I can hardly wait to see how they'll work her in to "Veronica Mars".

*Forbes, incidentally, also played my favorite untied loose end from a previous season of "24."

He was talking about Being An Actor, but...

It's so hard to be sure because one is inside oneself. One is one's own instrument, and inside the complex maze of one's own personality, one can go sadly astray.

An actor, like any other artist, is someone who can't forget. A painter's medium is paint, a writer's words. An actor's medium is character.

--Simon Callow

Note to self: Read more newspapers around the ladies.

Unnamed Official probably could have gotten away with the handjobs, but Unnamed Official wanted something more…"

The two men are then alleged to have moved on to another part of the building, where the politician was spotted giving oral sex to his companion.

…When questioned about the allegations, the politician denied taking part in any sexual activities on the swimming pool premises.

"I understand that it could have looked like that," [he said] to police. Instead he explained that the whole thing was a misunderstanding. He had been leaning over to read his companion’s newspaper when the pool employees arrived on the scene.

I don't know how many times that's happened to me. I just lean over to look at someone's newspaper and then—bam!—I'm sucking his dick.

-Shakespeare's Sister

Monday, December 11, 2006

Get well SOONER, Roger Ebert. Soonest would be best.

Because without you to hold him in check, Richard Roeper's stupidity reigns unabated. In just one (1) episode of the show you built with the late Gene Siskel (rest his soul) tonight, Roeper:

  1. Attributed the movie As Good As It Gets to Nancy Meyers instead of Jim Brooks. I've killed for less. Yes, it was obviously a mistake-he was thinking of Something's Got To Give, which also starred Jack Nicholson-but the show's not live. You have retakes for a reason, and on a show that supposedly celebrates film, getting a writer/director's work wrong should be the unpardonable sin.
  2. Dissed the teriffic animated 1973 classic version of Charlotte's Web, Hanna-Barbera's greatest artistic achivement.
  3. Credited Mel Gibson's Braveheart with historical accuracy.
  4. And got in a little dig at Vietnam vet Oliver Stone's patriotism.

The man's an idiot who wants a slap across the face so hard he has to check to see if he still has his upper lip. Come home soon, Roger. Please.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Random Flickr-Blogging: IMG_9609: The "S" edition


I'm posting this first one not because I have anything very affecting or funny to say about it, but to give my chum Corey Klemow a fright. You see, by a random coincidence, this image is from (according to its tags) a production at Sacred Fools, an L.A. theater group Corey's in.

Something called The Cody Rivers Show, about which I know nothing, but it certainly does seem to be an intensely wrought scene, doesn't it?


Choose which child in this scene is going to be an actor, a writer, a GOP candidate for President, head of the CIA, or conservative talk-show host. I'll give you a hint. The writer's the one seething with self-hate.



Secretly, Shannon knew the other girls resented her for her full bust.



Although she was pointing to the crucial word as directly as she could, Paul never had been the kind to take a subtle hint, and chose to believe she was invoking the ancient Hebrew name for Lord.



"Yes, Jacky, I see you, yes, it's great that you got your flying suit working just in time for my wedding. What a wonderful way to show just how not in love with me anymore you are...warm the car up, dear! He's packing herring!"


The state of the gay in Hollywood

This is the kind of article we get at least once a year, but good. Some excerpts with irreverent (not to say irrelevant) commentary...

According to Donna Deitch, who wrote and directed the groundbreaking lesbian romance Desert Hearts in the mid-1980s, playing a gay character is now seen on a par with playing an autistic character, or a schizophrenic, or someone with horrible physical deformities. "That's where the acclaim is," she said. "Actors want to play disadvantaged people, whatever the disadvantage is...

Two steps forward, one step back.

But playing gay and admitting to being gay are two completely different things. When it comes to the latter, Hollywood still adheres to the mentality that American audiences look to their on-screen idols as outlets for their own romantic fantasies and thus need to think of them as strictly heterosexual. The mentality is not necessarily wrong - homophobia is certainly widespread in the American heartland, as evidenced by the slew of recent state ballot initiatives condemning gay marriage. But it does suggest a certain failure of the imagination. Actors, after all, are professionals who make audiences believe they are something they are not.

That failure of the imagination (appropriately enough), goes both ways. I've always resented the assumption made by some Hollywood creative teams that straight audiences cannot be entertained and moved by, or identify with, a good storyline about characters different than themselves.

Indeed (he said, climbing on a high horse), one of the things that arts and entertainment is for, I think both for creators and audience, is to "see how the other half lives." To put it another way, how many of us are likely to see (or be) dancing penguins or British superspies in our day-to-day lives?

Hasn't stopped audiences taking Happy Feet and James Bond to their hearts, has it?

If a straight actor like [Tom] Hanks can play a gay character convincingly, why shouldn't a gay actor play straight?

This seems to be another one of those minority opinions I often hold, but I think that's a pretty big "if."

There are exceptions to the rule. A openly gay character actor such as Sir Ian McKellen can work unhindered partly because of the prestige that comes of being a British stage veteran and partly because he is not expected to play heterosexual romantic leads. An actress like Ellen DeGeneres - who famously came out on her own sitcom in the late 1990s - doesn't suffer unduly because she is a comedian first and an actor only second, and because, once again, she doesn't play parts that call for her to knock the sexual socks off her male audience members.

Ah yes, Ellen DeGeneres. I still remember back in her "pre-open" days when she made the aptly-titled attempt at a "straight" romantic comedy, Mr. Wrong. I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time.

I don't know about the rest of the country, but in the San Francisco Bay Area, Ellen DeGeneres being gay was not news. So when billboards went up around town featuring her in a wedding gown standing next to Bill Pullman...well, it almost caused a couple of accidents.

I'd have scored higher if I'd gone for that Free Love course like I wanted to.

How evil are you?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Maybe I should read him, then.

I am:
Samuel R. "Chip" Delany
Few have had such broad commercial success with aggressively experimental prose techniques.

Which science fiction writer are you?


Amber Benson in a bra. I'm a shallow man in many ways.'s been some time since we looked at Bush's approval rating

Read 'em and laugh.

I can't add anything to that.

Captions by Chris Maynard of BAGnewsNotes, photographs by Todd Heisler.

Katherine Cathey, 23, embraces the coffin of her husband James C. Cathey, 24, a Marine Second Lieutenant, after it was placed in a hearse at Reno Airport. He was killed by a booby-trap explosion in Al Karmah, Iraq. Before getting out of the car at the airport, she said "I wish it was daytime for the rest of my life. The night is just too hard."

Shortly before the final inspection, Katherine Cathey, pregnant with their unborn son, rubs her belly against the coffin. Of all the photographs in the group, this is the most searing; it's as impossible to forget as it is to imagine. Of all the memories, the sense of touch seems to be the first to fade, and here is the sense of a last touch. It cuts deeply as love, birth and death merge until our heads spin.

And finally, the night before her husband's funeral, Katherine Cathey lies on an air mattress in front of the flag-draped coffin. Before he went to Iraq, they were married in a civil ceremony, and planned a church wedding when he returned. They hadn't planned on a return like this, and now she listens to music they had picked for the wedding. She insisted on spending that final night next to his body.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Speaking of Feingold (or ok, the Iraq commission thing)

Via Atrios:

On Countdown:

The fact is this commission was composed apparently entirely of people who did not have the judgment to oppose this Iraq war in the first place, and did not have the judgment to realize it was not a wise move in the fight against terrorism. So that's who is doing this report. Then I looked at the list of who testified before them. There is virtually no one who opposed the war in the first place. Virtually no one who has been really calling for a different strategy that goes for a global approach to the war on terrorism. So this is really a Washington inside job and it shows not in the description of what's happened - that's fairly accurate - but it shows in the recommendations. It's been called a classic Washington compromise that does not do the job of extricating us from Iraq in a way that we can deal with the issues in Southeast Asia, in Afghanistan, and in Somalia which are every bit as important as what is happening in Iraq. This report does not do the job and it's because it was not composed of a real representative group of Americans who believe what the American people showed in the election, which is that it's time for us to have a timetable to bring the troops out of Iraq.

Home truths

Paul Krugman's column today is another one of those that'll be good to have on hand the next time a Fox show (or watcher) tries to make the "Well, it's true Iraq has turned into a bit of a fiasco...but there's no way we could have known..." argument. Yes, there was.

This is not one of those "we are all at fault" numbers.
Shortly after U.S. forces marched into Baghdad in 2003, The Weekly Standard published a jeering article titled, “The Cassandra Chronicles: The stupidity of the antiwar doomsayers.” Among those the article mocked was a “war novelist” named James Webb, who is now the senator-elect from Virginia.

The article’s title was more revealing than its authors knew. People forget the nature of Cassandra’s curse: although nobody would believe her, all her prophecies came true. And so it was with those who warned against invading Iraq. At best, they were ignored. A recent article in The Washington Post ruefully conceded that the paper’s account of the debate in the House of Representatives over the resolution authorizing the Iraq war — a resolution opposed by a majority of the Democrats — gave no coverage at all to those antiwar arguments that now seem prescient.

There are people who are guilty, and people who are not guilty, and they should be honored or dishonored accordingly.

As the image of George "Slam-Dunk" Tenet being awarded his medal pops into all our minds, Krugman names and quotes a few of the people who actually deserve one. His list includes some of the usual suspects-Al Gore, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Senator Russ Feingold, and Howard Dean-but it also includes former President George H. W. Bush.

Digby adds the nearly-perfect Dixie Chicks, long may they live, and notes that they've been honored with five Grammy nominations. In fact, if you look at that list, you can't help but see something.

Most of them have had a pretty good year, arguably most especially Obama and Dean. The one is seen as a likely hopeful for the Presidency in 2008. The other has seen his strategy credited at least partially for the most sweeping Democratic victory in years.

Even if the pundits and the Bush administration can't bring themselves to pay them the honor they deserve, the public has.

One of those images where you just shake your head and say "I did not just see that photo."

Or, "How to interest more high school boys in science."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Okay, the Mary Cheney pregnancy thing

The self-same Shakespeare's Sister has an entry about right wing reaction to the news that Mary Cheney is pregnant.

She quotes:

"Children deserve the very best we can offer, and gay adoption — by definition — intentionally denies children either a mother or a father," said Carrie Gordon Earll, an analyst for Focus on the Family, the Colorado-based family advocacy ministry. "Adoption laws should put the needs of children first, above the desires of adults."

Shakes scornfully mocks this, translating it as

Mary Cheney is a selfish dyke who will be a terrible mother to a pitiable child.

My problem is this. I would never support in any way, shape or form someone like Earll. But Mary Cheney is a "selfish dyke." And I wouldn't give much for her chances as a mother, either, given the values with which she's self-evidently been raised.

When I think of the work she has done for homophobes and homophobia in supporting the Bush administration...

I don't care how crazy she makes sickening groups like Focus on the Family, which nornally I would consider praiseworthy in itself.

She actively worked for candidates, and a party, who would deny choices to women (& men) with less powerful and wealthy fathers. While still being assured those choices were always open to her.

That is the very definition of a "selfish dyke" and negates for all time any chance she might have of winning my support. I hope they tear her limb-from-limb (metaphorically speaking, of course).

Great Sentences In Blogger History

So there's this fellow named Christopher Hitchens, who cultivates a reputation as scathing but mostly winds up as merely dubious. Most recently, he's written an article for Vanity Fair titled Why Women Aren't Funny.

So far as can be ascertained, he's not being ironic.

Now, certain examples might spring to your mind to show that Mr. Hitchens is in fact what we call full-of-shit-up-to-his-eyeballs.

If we're talking about funny performers, we have only to look to the casts of such TV shows as Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars, which positively overflow with funny women, especially in the former. There's a reason why most of Alyson Hannigan's work since Buffy the Vampire Slayer has featured her flexing her comedy muscles. And if we cast our minds back, before it sank into the dirt Buffy itself was often a very funny show.

If it's the non-performing line we're after, Gilmore was created and chiefly written by a woman and at her departure, well, the show hasn't exactly been gaining in laughter.

These are only a few examples-no doubt you or I could come up with lists as long as my arm of funny women performers, writers, and so on.

And bloggers. As you might imagine, the always-thoughtful Amanda Marcotte and Shakespeare's Sister, themselves members of the not-funny brigade, have something to say about this theory of Mr. Hitchens.

Amanda writes, in Pandagon:
Hitchens knows what kind of humor about male bodies is acceptable in all-male groups, no doubt because he spends so much time in them. He also knows that women do not make such jokes amongst themselves, because he spends so much time at the salon with just the gals. An alternative explanation comes to my mind, due to my lifetime of experience being female. As a general rule, I’ve learned it’s best to avoid making the crude jokes referencing female anatomy around men who think they’re being daring when they obliquely reference sex with, “If you catch my drift,” and hope your imagination fills in the rest. They don’t seem to find humor that sucks the “mystery” out of their preferred sex objects’ physical form as funny as I do.

But it's Shakes who comes up with the Great Sentence In Blogging History. It's at the end of this excerpt of her self-titled blog:
It occurs to me that men like him seem to write articles like this just so that women like me can issue stern and unfunny responses, thusly proving his thesis. I’m not particularly good at acknowledging my own attributes, but I’ll be damned if I let someone tell me I’m not funny. I know how to tell a joke, and tell it well; I can deliver one-liners off the top of my head with flawless timing, never regretting five minutes later having missed the perfect rejoinder; I even do brilliant pratfalls. I know I’m funny—but I’m simply not amused by being told by a pugnacious pigass I can’t possibly be simply because I have a cunt.

A cunt which, by the way, is herself a piquant raconteur.

Any sex that can come up with a line like that instantly disproves Hitchens' thesis.

Words and image

Look at the sun
See how it hangs
So still in the sky

Give me the new TV Guide
And get off the phone
Go on and take sides, it's not my problem
Waiting for worlds to collide in the comfort of home
They say Lucifer's free
What shall we do
Don't ask me
-Passacaglia / A Bud and a Slice, Joe Jackson

-Photo credit: Mumpasak

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

My Politti is Scritti

How Scritti is your Politti? But seriously folks-believe it or not, Scritti Politti has a new album out, and my Ink 19 review of it is up. The new album is a one-man (Green Gartside) band operation, but there's a live version touring.

Here's Green performing the first single "Boom Boom Bap" with them in London last month.

And again as a bonus, here's a classic video from the Cupid & Psyche '85 album..."Hypnotize:"

Out in the street, the Avenue A...

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Return of Junkie XL

Ink19 Review.

Here's the video for first single, "Today:"

As a bonus, here's the video for his much-loved remix of Elvis' "A little less conversation."

A paragraph of clues

Paddy Chayefsky was a screenwriter who is probably best known for the films Network and Marty, the latter of which he originally wrote for television. I read a biography of him recently, Shaun Considine's Mad As Hell.

The books' notion is that "Sidney"-Chayefsky's real first name-was his original self, and that "Paddy" was a self created:

Chayefsky's obsessive traits of workaholism and perfectionism and his increasingly uncontrollable anger were indicative of a pesonality emotionally arrested at an early stage of development, [his analyst] Frankenthal told him. To overcome the fear and helplessness he experienced as a child, Sidney Chayefsky felt compelled to compensate. He began to rely overly on his intelligence and his communicative and performing skills. These brought attention and approval, which warded off his feelings of abandonment. A new self had emerged out of these defenses, one that served to entertain and take care of Sidney and everyone around him. In the creation of this second, superresponsible self, Sidney felt forfeited, "dehumanized." His parents compounded this misrepresentation. By encouraging the boy to believe that life's meaning lay in their and other people's approval, Sidney's true development was impeded. The realization that he was being praised and loved not as Sidney but as this other, new self sowed the first seeds of frustration. When grown, the other, dominant self, now identified as "Paddy," was less inclined to repress the feelings of frustration and rage. His tyranny, however, was directed toward outsiders rather than toward the real cause of his pain, his parents, specifically his mother, who had used him to bolster her lack of self-esteem.

Friday, December 01, 2006

At least this chop to the neck was quicker

Dear Author,

Thank you for sending your proposal to us. We looked at it carefeully but decided to decline this opportunity to publish it.

We hope you will forgive us for sending you this impersonal letter. We receive many manuscripts each month, and simply do not have the resources to respond to each author individually.

Again, thanks for thinking of us.

With all good wishes,

.......... .........
Acquisitions Editor

Ah, there's that Christmas depression.

God, I need a woman.

Shake the Disease.

Glenn Greenwald has a lengthy-but-worth-reading (or at least skimming) post about the inability of our "leaders" and "opinion-shapers" to admit Iraq was a mistake. Must-read concluding paragraphs:

We stay in Iraq in pursuit of goals we know are fantasies, because to do otherwise requires the geniuses and serious establishment analysts to accept responsibility for what they have done -- and that is, by far, the most feared and despised outcome.

The invasion of Iraq was a huge mistake. But the behavior of our political and media leaders after that, and now, reveal that they are not just bereft of judgment but entirely bereft of character.

I should have posted this with the Bobby Darin entry

Best talk-show appearance EVER.

Kate Winslet appeared on the David Letterman show recently. Those of you who know how crazy she makes me will not be surprised to read that she walked out already looking so sexy she made me weak in the knees.

The first time she crossed her legs after sitting down, I almost had a heart attack.

But then, then she told a little story...

the Koo-Koo-Kookiest, Lidsville is the Ki-Ki-Kickiest

Here's my review of the first album by The Kooks at Ink19. And here's their video for "Eddie's Gun:"

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Isn't that rich.

Michael Richards has found an understanding buddy in the Hollywood community, someone who understands that these things happen. That buddy? Mel Gibson. After all, they are brothers under the hood, whoops I mean skin.

A quick something I want to get off my chest

Fox is running an utterly ludicrious promo teaser for the upcoming season of 24. It centers around the slogan "America Doesn't Negotiate With Terrorists. Neither does Jack." Now-put aside for the moment that this is untrue from the perspective of reality.

We do negotiate with terrorists. Iran-Contra. The vile Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussien, and the fact that we sold chemical weapons to him. Oh, and we trained Bin Laden. But put that aside.

Even from within the context of the series, it's laughable, because on several occasions Jack has had to negotiate with terrorists.

So, you folks from Fox advertising who I know are looking in, please cut that out. It's annoying and stupid.

Thank you.

Get your mojo working.

Go and read my review of a new Bobby Darin DVD at Ink19

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Compassionate conservatism

Via tristero:

At a private reception held at the White House with newly elected lawmakers shortly after the election, Bush asked Webb how his son, a Marine lance corporal serving in Iraq [emphasis mine-BV], was doing.

Webb responded that he really wanted to see his son brought back home, said a person who heard about the exchange from Webb.

"I didn't ask you that, I asked how he's doing," Bush retorted, according to the source.

Wow. That's all, just really: Wow.

So this is what it's come to, folks. This is who our president is, this is who the symbol of our country in the eyes of the world is...this is who we are. A man who can't even hear that a father would like to see his son brought home from a war-torn country without getting testy.

tristero reminds us that

This is the same man who reminisced about his hell-raisin' during a speech at the worst natural disaster in American history. This is the same man who, when, asked to name his greatest achievement while president, "joked" that it was when he caught a large fish in his fake pond on his Crawford estate - sorry, ranch. This is the same man who, when informed that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center in less than 10 minutes, sat reading "My Pet Goat" in a children's classroom. This is the same man who, in front of a supporter who he assumed wouldn't report it, mockingly imitated a woman about to be executed in his state.

All true. Except, isn't it really more clear than ever that when discussing George W. Bush, "man" is not the operative word?

Did you ever have the feeling that you forgot to do something before you went out?

"Let's see, I washed my hair, I did my makeup, I've got my energy drink, I've got my purse, I'm wearing a white belt against a black shirt, I've got my fishnets on and sexy shoes...what could I have forgotten? What?"

Source: Riding on the Metro.

Monday, November 27, 2006

For those of you interested...'s my latest Amazon review.

Nothing lasts forever

ABC is pulling 'Nine,' for now

ABC has pulled "The Nine" from its schedule. The first-year serialized drama struggled to retain viewers of "Lost," which preceded it.

Ah well. I'm somewhat saddened, the series impressed me as always really good and sometimes phenomenally good but given the ratings, I can't say I'm surprised.

"The Nine," an ensemble series about a bank robbery's effect on hostages and other involved parties, will return to ABC at an as yet-to-be determined point, a network executive said

You'll understand if I don't hold my breath.

Okay, important question time.

Given this:

Britney: Paris [Hilton] is my role model
And this:

Pamela Anderson has filed for divorce from husband Kid Rock

Which of these things is more likely to happen first?

1. Release of Britney sex tape.
2. Release of Pamela Anderson/Kid Rock sex tape.
3. Release of Paris, Britney and/or unnamed male player sex tape.

Because the way I see it, we're on a countdown to one or another.

Random Flickr-Blogging: IMG_2343

Till that night, David had been wondering if his new deodorant was working.


Things I've Found In Books

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, one of the things that somewhere between amuses and annoys me is when you get a book from the library and find that some thoughtful person has written little notes in it. A commentary, their own reaction to some of the wordage contained within.

So I'm reading David Thomson on The Alien Quartet, a book about the series of films starring Sigourney Weaver. Thomson is an...interesting writer. I haven't read his much-reprinted Biographical Dictionary of Film, but reportedly it contains few or no writers, so you know that pisses me off. And based on this and his more recent book about Nicole Kidman, he comes off as the very picture of the frustrated would-be director turned academic or reviewer.

He doesn't help himself in my eyes by his tendency to imagine on paper alternate, unmade films for his subjects. Lord knows I'm not saying Alien Resurrection was a creatively succesful movie or that every choice Kidman made has been wise. But...

If you're going to offer your own variation, with a sometimes-explicit but always implict air of'd better be at least as much of a drama writer as, say, Tom Stoppard or Joss Whedon.

Note that I do not say "as good." Niether man did their best work on their Alien or Kidman projects, but they are drama writers. And Thomson isn't. He shows it with every paragraph he writes.

Not only that, he shows a kind of creepy preoccupation with his subjects as sexual (or sexualized) beings. Again, I'm not blind to the allure of Weaver or especially Kidman, and I won't deny the odd fantasy.

But Thomson's would be better off left on the wallscreen in his mind when all he can give us is a frentically imagined scene of the newly-cloned Ripley copulating madly with a scientist while being observed by a technician and nurse:

'Every man should have one like her'
'Or vice versa,' says the nurse.

I'll say a lot about what's wrong with the last two films in "The Quartet." Mainly, I think they've been on a probably-irreverible downhill slide ever since somebody made the stunningly idiotic decision to kill Newt.

But none of them contain such leaden dialogue and painfully obvious masturbatory material as Thomson does in his attempts to show why the movies could be so much better, if only someone would just please listen to him.

Which is why it was grimly satisfying to come to page 156 in this movie guide and find my thoughtful commentator asking on the margin:

"What the hell is wrong with this author and his moronic fetishes?"

A fair question.

This needs must be shared...

According to the weekly traffic report I get for my blog, my average visits per day has just reached...666. That's right, I am Beelzebub, the Devil.

My visits have quadrupled in recent weeks. I would have mentioned this as one of my "things to be thankful for."

Unfortunately, Site Meter also tells me this has less to do with any of my witticisms, and more to do with my having mentioned Jennifer Connelly, Sylvia Kristel, lesbians, Jessica Biel, and the cursed words Lindsay Lohan and no underwear...

Sex sells. Imagine that.

Lesbian, lesbian, lesbian (uh-oh).

The first of an (at least) two-part Boston Legal that aired last night is interesting and potentially worrisome. Taken at surface value it looks like-and on that level is-such an obvious example of The Cliche you could almost laugh, hollow though it might be.

In one of the episode's multiple storylines, a young woman is suspected of killing her-recently-ex-girlfriend. She claims innocence-but suffered a blackout after discovering (or killing) the body and before phoning a lawyer.

At the end of the episode, this along with an incidence of screaming in the office and some background information obtained from her therapist has caused Alan Shore to sadly conclude she's insane.

Meanwhile, the woman the deceased woman left her for seems weirdly unresponsive to the loss-she mouths pieties about love but does so in a detached, almost formal way. Later we learn that the dead woman hand-wrote a new will just a week before, leaving this new girlfriend everything.

That's one dead lesbian for sure, and two possible insane and/or evil ones. So why do I say this is only potentially worrisome? Well, part of it admittedly is because I like Boston Legal and don't want to see it fall into the old trap.

The episode was written by series creator David E. Kelley, so for better or for worse, it is what Boston Legal is meant to be. And he seems to be setting The Cliche up so blatantly that I have to/want to believe it's misdirection. Comic blowhard Denny Crane and a TV commentator both verbalized the gay=insane/evil belief system. Experience tells me we're in for one of Kelley's patented Alan Shore jury summations.

One of the reasons I like Boston Legal is that it is, for lack of a better term, "liberal Hollywood" at its best. Some of the speeches are practically Communistic by popular network TV standards-a fact which has caused ABC/Disney to lean on the producers once or twice.

Also, in its first season BL already did an episode that featured a lesbian couple in one of the cases and at the end of the episode, neither were dead, insane, or evil. The episode had some fun with them-but for once the fun was rarely if ever at the lesbians' expense.

Rather, it was had by contrasting the delight Alan Shore took in the case with the extreme discomfort felt by his square colleague Brad. As it happens, there's a short clip from that episode on YouTube that shows what I'm talking about:

So maybe I've got blinders on, in which case you may expect to see me hanging my head in shame on Tuesday night, when this story will be continued.

But for the moment I just want to call it potentially worrisome...but definitely interesting.

ETA a few quick words about the "non-lesbian" aspects of last night's episode: I'm oficially sick of Lincoln Meyer, a character I'll be glad to see the back of. But I'm sorrier to say the same is becoming true of Jerry "Hands" Espenson.

At least Lincoln is supposed to give me the willies. Jerry is intended to be-and in past episodes has been-a sympathetic recurring character. But he's recurred too often, and I've gone from delightfully crying "Hands!" when I see him in an episode to thinking oh no...not again, with an inward sigh.

Should David E. Kelley be asking me (unlikely), I'd say the time is nearing for another Alan & Denny "road" episode. I like most of the other characters--though I'd still be perfectly happy if Brad fell out of his window--but Denny is the bread and Alan the butter.

Or, given his proclivities in a recent episode, the maple syrup.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Kicks just keep getting harder to find (on Route 66)

So I saw Cars on DVD. I'm sorry to say that I really didn't like it. There have been plot holes in Pixar stories before, like Toy Story and (especially) Monsters Inc. But here the very conception of the film raised too many questions for me to willingly suspend my disbelief. Talking cars is one thing, but driverless ones? Then why do they exist?

Plus the limited-by-necessity design of the film stopped me from getting too into it. Toy Story could bring in any kind of toy. Even The Incredibles, which sets itself in a quasi-realistic (albeit cartoony) world had as much variety as there are kind of humans. the risk of sounding like a car bigot ("they all look alike to me"), a car is a car is a car. And there's only so much you can can do to put the breath of life in a car, and it's an idea probably better off not stretched to feature length.

For the first time in a Pixar film (and this is rare for me with any kind of cartoon), I found myself thinking more about the vocal performers than characters. This was not helped by their allowing Larry the Cable Guy (who otherwise actually did a fine job) to use a couple of his catchphrases.

This is something Pixar used to be better about. You didn't hear Tim Allen using lines from Home Improvement or Sam Jackson doing the bible-quote scene from Pulp Fiction as their Pixar characters.

But, suddenly Mater's spouting off with "That's funny right there, I don't care who you are, that's funny."

No it ain't. And neither, for the most part, in my (admittedly apparently minority) opinion, is this movie.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Questions To The Universe

In regard to David Evanier's* book on Bobby Darin. How the hell did he manage to mix up Gene Kelly with Donald O'Connor in referencing what is quite possibly the most famous movie musical scene of all time?

*Cousin of Mark.

For the 99% of you who didn't get a certain reference in my "thankful for" post...

Go here and all will be revealed. All together: Ra-ta-ta-tum-Army!...

Friday, November 24, 2006

But it plays with my emotions

The novel Loverboy was never going to make an easy transition to film, even with the right stars, director and script. Without any of those things, it never has a fighting chance.

The shorthand description of the plot might be, for those of you who know the movie & book World According to Garp: Imagine if Jenny Fields was crazy. In a bad way, not the good way that she is.

The book depends-like Endless Love, an even worse film of an even better book-on the interior monologue of its lead character for much of its power. And though the movie tries to make that come across through the use of voice-over, it really puts more weight on Kyra Sedgwick's performance than it can bear.

I don't mean to be unkind to Sedgwick, who has been good in movies like Born on the Fourth of July and Singles, and she's not even that bad here, just IMO miscast. But I'm not sure who the right casting would have been, and it seems likely it's not all Sedgwick's fault.

Sedgwick's husband Kevin Bacon (yes, that one), not incidentally, was the director. In the DVD commentary Bacon reveals he felt the ending of the book was ambiguous; it is not. I'm left to infer that he missed the bittersweet irony of the book's ending.

So they changed it. Bacon and a screenwriter ironically named Hannah Shakespeare did not help Sedgwick's performance with a script that wants to make her character sympathetic. The novel arguably succeds at this because we are inside the woman's head and, although we naturally condemn her actions, at least we feel we understand her motivations. And when we come to the end we feel she has-metaphorically-dug her own grave.

I won't reveal exactly how this is changed in the film for those of you who have not read the book, but they "lightened it up," to a degree that ends up making it unintentionally even more disturbing.

This is almost a caricature of the actor's classic mistake: To try to make your own part-or your wife's- sympathetic or sand down the rough edges of a piece, at the cost of losing its flavor.

And this film is a classic example of why, with certain obvious exceptions like Clint Eastwood, most actors shouldn't direct.

Give it up now baby, come on, come on, darlin.

You are The Magician

Skill, wisdom, adaptation. Craft, cunning, depending on dignity.

Eleoquent and charismatic both verbally and in writing,
you are clever, witty, inventive and persuasive.

The Magician is the male power of creation, creation by willpower and desire. In that ancient sense, it is the ability to make things so just by speaking them aloud. Reflecting this is the fact that the Magician is represented by Mercury. He represents the gift of tongues, a smooth talker, a salesman. Also clever with the slight of hand and a medicine man - either a real doctor or someone trying to sell you snake oil.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

PS: If anyone gets the reference in the headline I will be absolutely amazed, so leave a quick comment if you do.

Roger Ebert on Robert Altman

As I'd kinda suspected he might, the editor of Ebert's website has put together a selection of Ebert's reviews of Altman's films and interviews with the filmmaker over the years. It's worth reading.

That link'll lead you to a page of excerpts from each piece, from there you can follow links to read a review or interview in full if you so choose.

ETA: Said editor, Jim Emerson, has also added an appreciation of Altman to his own blog, Scanners.

That's enough to make you believe the old thing about stealing your soul

Original entry.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Things To Be Thankful For, 2006

As always, in no particular order:

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Okay, so it's not like this is a new thing. But in this past year or so I've really started to think about what an effect Douglas Adams' legendary multi-media piece had on me. It's one of things I quote so often you may not always be aware I'm doing it (I'm not even sure I am).

Kate Winslet. Even her eyebrows make me crazy.

John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin.

Mad About You reruns.

My West Wing dvds.

Scritti Politti's new album (about which you'll be hearing more later). Having lately decided that the Pet Shop Boys and I need to go our separate ways, it's heartwarming to know someone from back in the day is still doing stuff I like.

Garry Trudeau.

For the one percent of you who will get this: THE KING! rat tat tat tat AIR FORCE! rat tat tat tat MARINES! rat tat tat tat DEPARTMENT OF THE SANITARY! BOOM!

The Dixie Chicks.

Finally discovering Sgt Bilko, thanks to Mark's blog.

Mark's blog.

My favorites from the Jay Ward studios, Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

Bill Sherman's blog.

My nephew. This weekend I spent a few hours with him, just the two of us. I took him to a park and two or three girls, some of them slightly older (he's four), were very nice about playing with him. While I of course tripped on the Keitha & Colley-ness of it all.

Keitha, Colley and Annabel.

Anne Hathaway. I am without words.

House and the fact that I triumphed over technology by learning to tape it while Veronica Mars is on.

Amber Benson.

Corey Klemow. For his support. For his being one of the only people I can talk geek with about Veronica, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Doctor Who (otherwise I'd just inflict more of it on you). For his constructive comments. For being fun to argue with because he doesn't seem to have anything to prove even when he's completely wrong and I'm completely right (such as about Bones).

Two series of books by two writers both called Simon: Simon Brett's Charles Paris novels, and Simon Callow's multi-volume Orson Welles biography.

Bob Black for all his help.

John Edwards. I get queasy at the thought of saying I even believe in such things as political heroes, but still: If I were endorsing anybody, it'd be him.

Roger Ebert being, reportedly, "on the mend" and the fact that he's writing again. I don't care so much when or if he returns to his TV gig, but I love to read his writing.

Johnny Cash.

Am'ee. My one regret is-well, she knows what my one regret is. And speaking of Sinfests;

Sinfest. Are any of the rest of you following that little link over to the right there, I hope I hope I hope?

Veronica getting a (nearly) full season order and more importantly, slowly but surely rebuilding the trust they lost from me as a viewer last season. Of course, he reminds himself, last year at this same time I still thought VM was one of the greatest dramas on television, so I reserve the right to recall these thanks if they blow it again.

Studio 60, its cast, directors, and oh yeah that writer guy, and the fact that it's been given a chance to grow.

As always, the ever-lovely, and much missed, Kirsty MacColl.

The Nine, the latest episode of which I've just watched and once again been impressed by. My only niggle remains: Just how long can they sustain it? Which, given that ABC doesn't seem to in as patient a mood as NBC and the CW (for perhaps obvious reasons), may not be an open question much longer.

Bones. The first thing that attracted me-surprise-was the always entertaining dialogue, but as I've been able to watch more of it this season I've found I've come to care for the characters a little bit. It's a series that's definitely grown on me and gains from coming to know the characters week in week out.

James Bond movies.

Bobby Darin (about whom you'll also be hearing more later).

Random Flickr blogging.

Columbo w/Peter Falk.

This year I had the odd experience of a couple different women apparently wanting to be, he said discretely, more to me than I wanted to be to them. I'm not exactly thankful for these experiences but it's nice to know people care.

The fact that, (to date) none of the stars of my favorite sitcoms of the '90s have had very public, very fast flameouts...okay except maybe Andy Dick, but that one's just lingering...

The songs in Xanadu. Shut up.

And oh yes, that election didn't suck, did it? Among the minor triumphs, it made me feel much better about watching 24 next year. The producers may think Bush would be Jack Bauer's bestest friend ever in the world, but the country just gave that a great big vote of no confidence. That's how I'd like to see it, anyway.