Saturday, June 24, 2006

Memories for a Spelling

Wow...Aaron Spelling died. Somehow, I never really thought he would. He's been such a part of TV, from Charlie's Angels to Beverly Hills 90210, that I guess I just came to think of him as someone whose name would always be there.

Did you know that from 1960 to 1989 not a year went by he didn't have at least one series on the air?

Did you know that (among other movies) he produced the very funny satire Soapdish?

Did you know he has a connection to one of my least-favorite writers? He produced a movie that Ilene Chaiken (of The L Word) acted as associate producer on, the notoriously bad Satisfaction.

...and to one of my most-favorite. He gave an early break in television to Harlan Ellison (of The Twilight Zone, many great stories and essays and hell, if you don't know who he is, read this). In his collection of film reviews Ellison tells a great story about winning a bet from Spelling.

I was a little too young to appreciate Charlie's Angels in its first run. I'll admit to developing a certain...fondness for Cheryl Ladd in one or two of the re-runs, for some reason, but that's neither here (sadly) nor there.

BTW, no offense to the dead intended, but choosing between running a photo of him or of her...well, you understand.

And I was a little too old for 90210. My "favorite" Spelling production memories would probably be...

The Rookies, reruns of which I briefly got hooked on when I was around 13.

Hart To Hart. Admit it. Even now, you can hear Max's gravelly voice over the opening credits. "This is my boss, Jonathan Hart, a self-made millionaire. This is Mrs. H. She's quite a lady..."

I remember my mom always liked Family.

A TV-movie spoof of then current television detectives called Murder Can Hurt You.

Fantasy Island! I was seven. Mr. Roarke was god.

And yeah, The Love Boat. I watched it. You watched it. Just think of all those hours we're never going to get back.

Used to have lots of fun playing T.J. Hooker with an ex-roommate of mine. This basically involved me barking "T.J.! Stop that car!" at odd intervals and he would have to immidiately throw himself across the hood of the nearest vehicle. Maybe you had to be there.

And believe it or not, I never felt able to jump on the Tori-bashing wagon as hard as some people. I mean maybe I'm wrong, but in interviews I've read and such, she comes off as separating herself from the Paris Hiltons of the world by being one of those who gets what the joke about her is. I give her credit for spoofing herself in Scream 2, and she didn't completely stink up the joint in House Of Yes or Scary Movie 2. They're not great movies, but that's another matter. I'm not saying I'd let her near any of my characters...

Anyway, Spelling: Even when I wasn't watching his shows (which was most of the time)...he was just always there, you know?

Caption This Photo

Pepe hadn't moved since he discovered that from this height, he could see right into the girls cabin.

Add your own in the comments.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Mercy killing

Per, Showtime has cancelled "Huff." Thank god. For any actors, producers, directors or (perhaps especially) writers who may be looking in, the second year of this drama should be an object lesson.

In how to take a fine hour into the toliet after setting a very high standard in the first season.

For the one percent of you (if that) who are going to get this...

Via Best Week Ever's Caption This...

"You didn't really come here to hunt, did ya?"

Which one of these clowns is not like the other?

Premiere Magazine has published a photo feature spotlighting 11 men and women they feel are "Masters of Comedy." Let's take a look at this list and see where we feel they may have gone wrong...

Robin Williams. Well, sure-even though we all know he needs a better shit detector when it comes to picking scripts. And I say that as someone who can find a good word to say about Club Paradise.

Diane Keaton. Can't say as she's ever made me laugh, but then...(see Woody Allen)

Bill Murray. Now we're talking. The funniest man in America, 1979-1994.

Woody Allen. As I've said many times before, though I shy away from any bold proclamations like "Woody Allen isn't funny," because so many people seem to think that he is so very funny...I've just never been an admirer of his. And his thing about casting younger and younger women as his love interests just creeps me out. Although oddly, I tend to appreciate his films much better when he isn't actually in them.

Come to think of it, why isn't Mel Brooks on this list?

Will Ferrell. Again-not for me, but if you kids like that sort of thing, you enjoy it...

It's possible I may never forgive Ferrell for starring in a movie called The Suburbans, in which joining A Flock of Seagulls is seen as a happy ending. That's the sort of thing I can't possibly support. Also, doesn't it seem just a tad early to be putting him in such august company?

Steve Martin. No worries.

Here's where it gets weird, though: Cameron Diaz. Um...even granting her movies like My Best Friend's Wedding or Charlie's Angels...I don't think so. No, what this smacks of is them suddenly realizing they only had one woman on the list so far. Imagine what they would have done if they'd realized there were no black people. I can't think of any great black comedians, can you?

Kevin Kline. Back on solid ground here. Although, you'd think that if both he and Steve Martin are such masters of comedy, the Pink Panther remake might have been better received.

Jack Black. See Will Ferrell.

John Cleese. Well, obviously.

And...Leslie Nielsen. Um, Premiere? 1980 called. It wants its Master of Comedy back.

Trender Bender

You know the trend of taking the catalog of an oldies act (The Four Seasons, Abba) and building a musical around it? It's now officially gone too far:
Gabba Gabby Hey!-- the Ramones musical...makes its UK debut on July 31

As once and future Ink 19 editor Ian Koss points out, given the average length of the Ramones' songs, this looks to be a pretty short musical. And I can't help imagining this whispered conversation taking place in the audience...

"Is this a reprise?"

"No, all their songs just sound alike."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Voices Carry

My next-door neighbor and his girlfriend have been having screaming fights for weeks if not months now. It's been pretty bad, and I've been trying to figure out what the right thing to do was.

Because, I don't want to be one of those people who "doesn't want to get involved," but at the same time I want to grant people their privacy. And as long as it sounded as though only emotional violence was going on...

Still, it's been troubling me enough that I mentioned it to my therapist a week or so back. She suggested that sometimes just reminding people there are witnesses around can help to shock them out of their behavior.

About an hour ago this afternoon it moved from pretty bad to really bad. I heard lots of screaming, crying...and thuds. I opened my office window, I think in retrospect partly to remind them that there was someone here.

And heard the girl saying something I couldn't quite make out about how he had broken her...(garbled). So I called 911 once, and then a second time when I was absolutely sure she was saying he had hurt her.

I just finished giving a statement to the officer who picked up the call. He tells me she's backing up her boyfriend's statement that she (wait for it) "just fell and hit her head on a table." I overheard him telling the cop that, though he admitted there was an argument and "wrestling" going on.

That is not what the hysterical woman I could hear from my office, which adjoins the bathroom of his apartment, was saying. She was quite clearly blaming him for something that had happened to her face (how can I go to work like this?), telling him she wanted to go to the hospital, telling him she wanted to have him arrested, that she hated him and didn't trust him.

This was all over the course of several extremely highly emotionally-pitched exchanges, need I add, and not nearly so coherent. I'm just trying to get down everything I remember right now.

She also kept saying "Don't you fucking touch me!" And "Get away from me!" And he kept saying he was sorry and..."Shhhh!"

The officer informed me that she is going to have to go to the hospital.

But as I said, she apparently refuses to file charges. The cop used the term "battered woman syndrome." I don't understand the psychology of women who put up with it, I really don't.

The officer took my statement and phone number and said the man would still probably be charged regardless. The prosecutor may be contacting me for a further statement and maybe even a court appearance.

I hope that even if this doesn't lead to a successful prosecution it at least gets these two away from each other.

I just wish...I'd called sooner.

Now I don't know what the fuck to do

The Stranger, which is a Seattle free weekly newspaper, has an article on queer movies and why, in the writer's (Annie Wagner) view, most of 'em kinda suck.


there's an abundance of great gay literature, and great gay visual art, and great gay theater—so what accounts for the fact that, given a random gay romantic comedy and its random straight equivalent, the gay movie will inevitably be lazier, duller, and generally more excruciating than its straight counterpart?

The answer is that gays, long starved for protagonists created in their own image, have unquestioningly gobbled up every last gay-themed movie. As Will of Will & Grace chirpily put it, "Let me tell you a little secret that we try to keep within the community: Gay movies suck. But until the laws change, we're still obligated to go see 'em." (Will has a lot of nerve to talk about sucky gay anything.) Whether it's about prissy preteens or wasting AIDS patients, wise old queens or shrill fag hags, obnoxious circuit boys or attractive trannies (or all possible combinations of the above, stuffed into one toneless cacophony), a gay movie will move tickets at the art-house box office. Not because it's good, but because it's good for "the community." And while gay-themed films have not sold tickets at a clip that would satisfy big studios—except for Brokeback Mountain—sales have been robust enough to maintain a entire pack of specialty distributors trafficking in hairless male chests (and, to a lesser extent, nuzzling pink-hawked girls).

And when queer filmmakers take on a tried-and-true formula, like Todd Stephen's Another Gay Movie, a twist on the virginity-shedding graduation summer of Porky's or American Pie, things go horribly wrong. Like hamster wrong. The words "butt cherry" and "man-snatch" wrong.

Lesbian movies, meanwhile, are susceptible to grave sins of their own. Coming-of-age movies like the catastrophically stupid Better Than Chocolate manage to hit every cliché in the (Rita Mae Brown) book—hidden vibrators, body-paint art, rainbow-festooned bookstores—while careening unevenly between featherweight comedy and dire melodrama.

Actually, I like Better Than Chocolate, except for a couple of things, but I'm only a member of the "gay-adjacent" community. And I think her larger point may be well-taken.

I'd say if anyone wants to read a witty (if I do say so myself) script for a human comedy with a wonderful lesbian couple in, they could contact me. But then I'd still have the problem that I don't want to give up control of my characters.

So as I say, I don't know what to do.

Strut, pout, put it out

Back in 2000, I reviewed Nelly Furtado's debut record, Whoa, Nelly! for PopMatters. It didn't deserve a lot of love, in my view, and I didn't give it much. Of course, I was immidiately proven right when she had a couple of hits that went to the top of the charts.

Over the years there have been sections of a handful of Furtado fan sites dedicated to hating me for the review, but at the moment I think the only one still up is this, where someone who is known as I Am writes:

His name is : Ben Varkentine . " varken " is the word for " pig " in the Netherlands !

I suppose that should sting, but I actually get kind of a kick out of it. I've been flamed before, but never bilingually (to the best of my knowledge). Actually, what hurt more is when another fan once pointed out a stupid error of fact I'd made in the review. I confused Jo Callis of the Human League with his onetime bandmate, Joanne Catherall. Inexcusable from the '80s man.

But We meet again, my old nemesis. Ms. Furtado has a new album out, an attempt at a comeback after her sophomore effort was less than successful. And what is the reason, she feels, it was less than successful?

Because she covered up her stomach and started giving off a hippy chick, feminist I-hate-men vibe. Seriously. These are quotes from her Blender interview, via The Bosh:
On her midriff-baring, sex bomb transformation: “I’m just now catching up, accepting my job more [emphasis mine-BV]. My video choreographer taught me how to move in all these different ways. I’m more at ease with my body than I’ve ever been."

On toning down her hippie vibe: “I went through a feminist phase and read a lot of philosophical stuff. Some of the male bashing brainwashed me for a bit so I stopped. I love men!”

If Furtado's new album brings her career back to life while Pink's album with "Stupid Girls" on it "appears to be close to dying"...I'm quitting show business.

Hell hath no fury

Fans of Barbara Streisand are threatening to sue her for fraud. Angry fans paid a small fortune for tickets to her last concert which was billed as her "last ever" performances. This was back in 1999 when Babs said this was her final farewell.

Well, her second "final farewell concert" will kick off this October.

[Via Dlisted]

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Just when you thought Culture Club couldn't do anything dumber than "The War Song"

...but at least that had a certain guilty-pleasure catchiness about it. This, on the other hand...
Culture Club reforming without Boy George

Good, now they can be judged on their music.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Would anyone like to guess in what state this sign was found?

Via Best Week Ever:

John Lennon: "Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me."

ETA: And in other news from Tenn, the state is preparing to go for the silver medal in executions, scheduling five to take place in one day. The gold is held by Virginia, where eight men were once excuted in a day.

Keep the line moving:
Prison officials say they just need two to three hours between them so they can get the families of one inmate out and the next one in.

So you want to see Hermione Granger "all dolled-up like a street-walker circa 1985"

We here at Dictionopolis In Digitopolis have anticipated your every need.

The quote is from Pink Is The New Blog, the photo is from ohnotheydidn't!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Jezebel! Harlot! Begone!

From Anne Hathaway's "I'd kill to work with" list in the June 23 Entertainment Weekly:
Tim Burton.
Hathaway calls the director a "visual artist and genius storyteller, adding that she has to do a movie with him "before I die."

I call the so-called artist an overrated, talentless hack who makes terrible, bloated movies.

I'm right.

Next, Cartman makes her eat her parents

Poor Bush daughter. She likes Radiohead enough to come to their show, and they think she's dumb.

PS: In case you're not hip to the reference in the headline, dig.

Unfortunately, those three are not Bush, Rumsfeld or Rove

U.S. Army charges three with murder in Iraq

Oh, happy day!

The teriffic animated adaptation of Jules Feiffer's Munro, about a four-year-old boy who is accidentally drafted into the army, has been posted at YouTube.

And I figured out how to post embedded video clips on this blog, though at the moment it seems to involve changing more HTML code than I should probably be entrusted with. There must be an easier way, but you know the old saying, there's the right way, the army way, and my way...

Oh look, a Democrat. Who knew?

Yesterday morning, Jack Murtha had a few things to say about Karl Rove's recent "stay the course" speech.

"He's in New Hampshire. He's making a political speech. He's sitting in his air-conditioned office on his big, fat backside saying stay the course. That's not a plan!

"We got to change direction, that’s what we have to do. You can’t, you can’t sit there in the air conditioned office and tell these troops they’re carrying 70 pounds on their back inside these armored vessels and hit with IEDs every day, seeing their friends blown up, their buddies blown up, and he says 'stay the course.' Yeah, it’s easy to say that from Washington, D.C."


Random Flickr-Blogging: IMG_0382

Garret would soon realize he had molested the wrong young lady as she turned to him, her eyes maddened, yet blood-red with lust, and tore his throat out with her teeth.

Like all women, he thought grimly to himself as he sank to his knees. Dying, he savored the comfort that at least there was an ending to it, a stopping place for a life that had seemed all too full of pain.

Suddenly he found himself on his feet again, not quite knowing how he had gotten there, his throat intact. Again his hands were rising to a too-friendly embrace of the woman he'd met just hours before, and again she rounded on him in savage attack.

This happened again and again and he remembered every time until finally, at last he was able to speak a few short, shocked words before she crushed his throat.

"Just want to go me die!"

Her face lit up larger than the Circus Circus sign.

"We told you," she hissed, and he saw that her tongue was long, forked and dark red, not pink and soft as he'd hoped when he'd met her over drinks and lied about being a brain surgeon. "We told you," and here she began to cackle, softly at first but spiraling upwards...

"We told you...what happens in Vegas...stays in Vegas!"

Then he felt her teeth sink in and the warm spurt of his own blood flowing down his neck. It was not the first time...and would not be the last.

Original credit.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


A few years after the performer/writer/genius Peter Cook (Bedazzled, Beyond The Fringe) died, his widow Lin edited a celebrity-studded collection of reminiscences about him. It's a terrifically entertaining book, marred only by the fact that, as Cook's biographer the late Harry Thompson later wrote, "As editor, Lin was proud rather than embarassed to include unstinting praise of herself."

Amongst the things I've always admired about Garry Trudeau is his tendency to include the brickbats as well as bouquets on the jacket of Doonesbury books.

Mark Evanier has written a few times about the way he cringes at memorial services when people get up and talk, not about the deceased, but about themselves.

Which brings me to Memories Of John Lennon, a book edited by Yoko Ono.

This has been a review.

*If you want to see what I have to say at more length, that link is to the Amazon page for the book. I'm somewhere in there. But the above is all you really need to know.

And you can dance...For inspiration...Come on...I'm waiting

This week the AFI (American Film Institute) announced their selections for movies they believe most inspire us. Roger Ebert has the list. Looking at it, I find that only two or three would I say really inspired me personally-there are others that I liked, but not that I would say really inspired me.

One I don't get why it's considered inspirational.

The few that did are "Star Wars," "The Black Stallion" and "Fiddler On The Roof". The one I don't quite understand why it should be inspiring is "Thelma & Louise." I still don't get that. But anyway, it got me thinking, what does inspire me?

It's nothing very shocking if you know me (and probably not even if you've just been reading my blogs for any length of time). Let's define the term, inspire:

To fill with enlivening or exalting emotion
To stimulate to action; motivate
To stimulate energies, ideals, or reverence

What does that for me? Beautiful women, of course, represented here by Rebecca DeMornay. I've tried before, and I'll probably spend the rest of my life trying again and again, to get down what really happens inside a man when he sees a woman he thinks is beautiful. It is so much more than just the desire for seduction.

Then there's the best writers, like oh, say, Aaron Sorkin, who as chance would have it, had something to say about the above subject.

Jeremy: (voice over) One last thing: Dan finally got over his writer's block. He met Stacy Kerr at The Smoking Dog. Stacy plays on the women's professional beach volleyball tour. Turns out Stacy's a big fan of Dan's and was particularly taken by his writing....And in that moment, Dan was reminded once again why he wanted to write in the first place....It's for the same reason anybody does anything: to impress women.

-Sports Night, "Dear Louise," written by David Walpert and Aaron Sorkin

And then there is divine music. It is the gods among us, whether it's Kirsty MacColl or Cole Porter.

That's all, really. Not much, is it? Just all there is. Beautiful women, the best writing, divine music.

That's not so much to ask, now is it?

Stan Freberg , revered satirist, modestly presents... old commercial (via News From ME).