Saturday, January 13, 2007

Psyched out

Spent the afternoon and early part of the evening watching USA's marathon of the first seven episodes of their phony psychic series, Psych. I'd meant to catch the series first run, but with one thing and another had let it pass me by.

I didn't miss the next House or anything, but it was extremely enjoyable and often genuinely funny, with a large share of the credit going to the two leads, James Roday (who has got to be Jonathan Silverman's younger brother) and Dule Hill, formerly the remarkable Charlie on West Wing. The scripts aren't always as good as the performances, but what the hell.

Also spent the first episode or so trying to place where I'd seen the actress playing the police chief before it hit me: She's Kirsten Nelson, who played the young Mrs. Landingham in the flashback sequences of "Two Cathedrals," one of the best West Wings ever.

I get a kick out of the idea that, in an odd way, Mrs. Landingham and Charlie are working together again...

Poetry Corner

There is nothing worth reaching for
There's nothing to gain
There's nothing in the world outside
Won't make me go insane.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Oh, happy day

Most of you probably know by now that I'm a great fan of Roger Ebert's skills as an essayist, and I've been checking in on his health periodically. The reasons for this are not entirely altruistic. An artist wanting to please a critic is like a NASCAR driver wanting to please the walls of the track. But he is a critic I would like to please one day, and I want him to live long enough that there might at least be a chance of his picking up one of my works.

A couple of years ago on my old blog I wrote about his book
I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie, an invaluable collection of reviews he's written about bad films.

His review of "A Lot Like Love" is a sure candidate for a sequel to this volume (hey, his Great Movies II just came out this year...). He really putts the movie into the water hazard.

"A Lot Like Love" is a romance between two of the dimmer bulbs of their generation. Judging by their dialogue, Oliver and Emily have never read a book or a newspaper, seen a movie, watched TV, had an idea, carried on an interesting conversation or ever thought much about anything. The movie thinks they are cute and funny, which is embarrassing, like your uncle who won't stop with the golf jokes."

Later that same year, but after I'd already switched to this blog, I was driven to an out-and-out declaration of love by his review of of Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, in which Roger said:

[Rob] Schneider retaliated by attacking [reporter Patrick] Goldstein in full-page ads in Daily Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. In an open letter to Goldstein, Schneider wrote: "Well, Mr. Goldstein, I decided to do some research to find out what awards you have won. I went online and found that you have won nothing. Absolutely nothing. No journalistic awards of any kind ... Maybe you didn't win a Pulitzer Prize because they haven't invented a category for Best Third-Rate, Unfunny Pompous Reporter Who's Never Been Acknowledged by His Peers."

...Schneider is correct, and Patrick Goldstein has not yet won a Pulitzer Prize. Therefore, Goldstein is not qualified to complain that Columbia financed "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" while passing on the opportunity to participate in "Million Dollar Baby," "Ray," "The Aviator," "Sideways" and "Finding Neverland." As chance would have it, I have won the Pulitzer Prize, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks.

You may well wonder: Why am I telling you all of this? I'm telling you all of this because, earlier tonight, strolling over to Ebert's web page as I do a couple of times a week, I found a New Year's Message from Roger containing this nice surprise:
I am working on the follow-up to "I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie," tentatively called, "Your Movie Sucks."

He read my diary!

Where mistakes have been made in this blog, the responsibility rests with me

Wanted to recomend a couple of good if moderately heavy posts on the subject of Iraq. Plus make a light, but, I hope, stinging remark at the expense of a favorite punching bag of the left. I'll divide them up.

The first is from Mark Evanier, who answered an e-mail from a reader of his site, in part, thusly...

Frankly, Greg, I don't know if we should just pull out of Iraq right now. Knowing that is not my job. But I do think that those keeping us there should be open to a possibility being suggested by a lot of folks experienced in military actions and/or geopolitics. It's that our options are coming down to (a) pulling out now and having a certain level of disaster descend on Iraq...or (b) pulling out at some point in the future, having the same or worse level of disaster hit Iraq then, and a staggering number of American lives and dollars lost unnecessarily in the interim. Those who oppose this war now may not have a proposal to make everything in Iraq hunky-dory...but I don't see that those who favor staying having any plan beyond "Let's keep trying all those things that haven't worked at all the way we predicted."

Then I see via Media Matters that the aforementioned Sean Hannity said

Ted Kennedy won't be "happy until" we have "mass slaughter" in Iraq

Which begs the question: What the hell does he think we have now?

Finally we have a post that Mark recommended from one Robert J. Elisberg. This takes on the notion that The President admitted any mistakes in his recent speech, as some are apparently eager to believe he did.

Some excerpts:

Were this in any other context, said by anyone other than the President of the United States who famously once refused to acknowledge any error at all, then hearing someone say -

"Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me."

- wouldn't even register on the "Admit-a-Mistake-o-Meter." It would be a cartoon moment, where a balloon comically whooooosed past our head, and we'd comment, "Sorry, did you say something?"

When a normal, everyday human says -

"Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me."

- it's the equivalent of when someone spits out something horribly obnoxious to you, and only after everyone gangs up on him finally begrudges, "If I said anything that offended you, I'm sorry." You want to respond, "There is no 'if' about it, bucko. You did offend me. Now, apologize correctly or go skulk off into the dark hole from which you came."

See, the basic thing about "admitting a mistake" is that it involves three core features: 1) recognizing the mistake, 2) saying you're sorry, and 3) doing your best to make sure it doesn't happen again. Anything else is just puffery.

President Bush did not "admit a mistake." Period. We all know - all of us - that admitting a mistake requires at least consequence. And you can pick through the President's speech one nit at a time and not find a single consequence. (And I don't mean for the 20,000 soldiers he wants to send to Iraq.) No one was fired in his "admission," no one reprimanded, nobody even sent to their room without dessert. There wasn't even the least sense of personal shame and repentance. The only shocking thing was that the entire Bush War Brain Trust didn't get awarded the President Medal of Freedom. Perhaps they've run out of papier-mâché.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I want to be Stephen Sondheim when I grow up.

Take me to the world that's real,
Show me how it's done.
Teach me how to laugh, to feel
Move me to the sun.

Just hold my hand whenever we arrive,
Take me to the world where I can be alive.

--Stephen Sondheim, "Take Me to The World," from Evening Primrose.

Stop the presses.

An actress (Renée Zellweger) who actually reads. New miracles, new miracles. Maybe I should give that Miss Potter film a look.

Its all right, it's all right, you dont have to change your ways

Tara Reid. Don't ask me why, but of all our, shall we say, "troubled" young actresses, she's the one I'd most like to see veer away from turning into a train wreck. Maybe it's because I continue to feel-and it's almost a blind faith at this point-that given a role whose challenges fit her particular abilities, she can meet them. Especially with a sympathetic director.

Still, maybe I'm kidding myself. Certainly she's a beautiful woman, and it's a flaw(?) of mine that I tend to want to give beautiful women the benefit of the doubt.

I did feel a bit sorry for her when she fell into the "women who have had plastic surgery when by no reasonable standard did they need any" trap. And I suppose I've forgiven her for the whole Carson Daly unpleasantness.

There's probably no use pretending she's ever been the brightest bulb in the box. Though I gotta wonder just how bright she was before she spent six years getting high in other ways than swimming with dolphins (there I go, giving the benefit again)...

The pretty blonde also confessed that swimming with dolphins represented the fulfilment of a life-long ambition. "It's so funny because in America everyone has dreams of what they want to do," she explained. "That's one of the things I've always wanted to do in my life and never accomplished. I just did now - I'm on a high!"

Emphasis mine. Ms. Reid, honey, having dreams of what you want to do is kind of a world-wide phenomenon...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

You what love?

A new poll says Kylie Minogue is the greatest gay icon of all time.
The Aussie songstress bounced back last year after receiving the all clear from her cancer battle and is firmly back in the hearts of her gay fans.

Runner-up in the poll was another diminutive dame - Country and Western legend Dolly Parton.

Busty Dolly won the admiration of an army of gay fans with camp anthems like ‘9 to 5’ and ‘Jolene’.

Over 5,000 gay men and women took part in the poll by global market research specialists which revealed Sweden’s biggest export - ABBA - came in third place.

The top 50 list is availible by following that link. Me, I'm no longer surprised by just how many gay icons are in my record collection, etc. I not only own a Liza Minnelli album, I own the Liza Minnelli album written and produced by Pet Shop Boys, for fuck's sake.

I was, however, slightly taken aback to see The Human League at #46. I never knew they were considered gay icons. Synth-pop icons, to be sure. Maybe all synth-pop icons are by extension also gay icons, and I'm just in a surprising amount of denial.

Sean vs. Sean.

Okay, so we know that Sean Hannity is an ideologue with anger management problems. That's a given. But did you know that he's also a master of absurdity on par with Dan Aykroyd at the height of his powers? Observe.

On the January 7 inaugural broadcast of Fox News' Hannity's America, host Sean Hannity named actor Sean Penn, who Hannity described as an "actor, activist, and all-around very angry man," as his first "Enemy of the State" for, among other offenses, calling Hannity a "whore," and for "call[ing] for the impeachment of just about everybody in the Bush administration and call[ing] them 'bastards.' " Despite designating Penn an "Enemy of the State," Hannity then said, "Now, Penn can say whatever he wants." Hannity then invited Penn to appear on Hannity's America "to sit in the hot seat and defend his outlandish comments." Hannity also wondered: "Who does this guy speak for? Who does he represent, other than other bad actors?"
-via Media Matters

Other "bad" actors. Sean Penn. Other "bad" actors. Mystic River. Fast Times at fucking Ridgemont High, for chrissakes. Casualties of War. Carlito's Way. Taps (which has been on cable lately, and held up amazingly well over the years).

That Sean Penn.

Sean Penn, bad actor.


Sean Penn, bad poet, absolutely ("my partners and me are/fired to fight/so bloody unchristmas/is the violent night"). Though he turned out to be not so much of a bad essayist, at least. I haven't seen any of the films he wrote or directed so I can't speak to them.

Sean Penn, bad husband? Quite possibly, based on what you hear in the media, but I've never been married to him.

Sean Penn, bad person to try to take a photograph of? Yes, once, but he's doing much better now.

Sean Penn, bad driver? See above.

But he's a fucking phemomenal actor by most standards. He even won the Academy Award for Mystic River.

With critical perception like that, Sean Hannity's next move is assured. He should be sitting across from Richard Roeper any time now, filling in for the still-recovering Roger Ebert. For god's sake, Roger, get well soon, to insure I'm only kidding.

How to tell when your obsessive love of eighties artists has turned into a problem.

What we have here is a short piece of political comedy. Maybe not as rave-worthy as Doonesbury at its best, or The Daily Show or Colbert Report, or a movie like The Candidate, but still perfectly enjoyable on that basis.

Or even if you don't think it's particuarly funny or acute politically, it does involve a couple of reasonably attractive people simulating fucking. And I'm not too proud to admit I can enjoy watching that kind of thing now and again.

But no. All I'm thinking about in watching the first half of this... how the background music sounds like a version of Wham!/George Michael's classic "Careless Whisper," as done by Kenny G.

The first step is admitting it...

(Clip via Shakespeare's Sister, sometimes a pretty smart-mouthed political comedian herself)

Okay, the "George W. Bush's speech tonight" thing

Mark Evanier says it about as well as I could.
George W. Bush is going to address the nation this evening, reportedly to tell us that he's going to ignore the wishes of most of the nation (and a surprisingly high percentage of our military leaders and Republican members of Congress) and proceed with "The Surge." It may not be much of a surge because we don't have enough troops for that. And it may take quite some time to surge properly...but damn it, we're going to surge. Okay, so it'll mean a lot more of our soldiers getting killed. Isn't that ever so much better than Bush having to admit he screwed up?

I'm also wondering how long it's going to be until we start seeing the perhaps-inevitable political cartoons depicting Bush as Slim Pickens at the end of Doctor Strangelove. Or some Jimmy Cagney-like criminal, snarling, "If I'm going down, I'm taking all of you with me!"


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

All bets are off

This is Madonna having a bad hair day.

This is Floyd, from The Electric Mayhem.

That's all I'm saying.

(A less subtle man would have made some sort of a joke about hands between their legs, but no, not me. I go the classy route.)

Or, "Why less than 10% of this blog is political these days (if that)"

At American Prospect Online, Matt Yglesias has an article that's worth at least skimming. I'll give you the top and bottom paragraphs so you can decide for yourself if you want "the meat," as it were.

Americans are, fundamentally, optimistic people. Hence, every now and again we're treated to some variant of the story about how America's national security policy is going to be okay again, because George W. Bush is bringing some grownups onto the team. When considering this pattern, it's perhaps worth recalling that in its first formulation the savior/hero figure was ... Dick Cheney.

That's the problem with having a bad president put into office and then re-elected -- he keeps doing bad things no matter how many personnel shifts get made. And he'll be there for two more years. It's a frightening thought, and it's more pleasant to imagine some cadre of sensible Republicans riding to the rescue. But even though the truth is hard to bear, it's better to face reality: Nothing will change until a new president is in office.

And that's why I'd rather post videos of the Beatles, Charlie Brown.

apropos of nothing, here is something to make you smile

You can't not smile watching this, it's impossible.

In a related story, The World Has Gone Wet.
John Lennon's hit "Imagine" has topped a new magazine poll to find the best 99 songs ever written. The 1971 peace anthem beat Hoagy Carmichael's standard "Stardust" and Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" to claim the top spot in Performing Songwriter magazine's hitlist.

Lennon also claimed the number four spot for hit credit, alongside Paul McCartney, on the Beatles' "Yesterday."

Of course, as any Beatles fan worth his salt knows, he claims that credit in name only. McCartney wrote (and played) that song without any of the other Beatles. For that matter, Marvin Gaye didn't write "What's Going On" alone...

Meanwhile, 1971 stands out as a great 12 months in pop music - three of the top 10 tunes were composed that year - "Imagine," Carole King's "It's Too Late" and The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes."

I was also composed that year...

Monday, January 08, 2007

You just can't do stuff like this to the English language

Ok, quick backstory. A church diocese in Los Angeles has decided to reach out to the gay community by creating a "rainbow" version of the famous fish symbol. I know-you and I, being kind, compassionate people, say who could possibly say anything is wrong with that?

I mean, the one thing I'd say is that it looks to me more like a sideways necktie than a rainbow-colored fish. But nevertheless the spirit of openness and inclusion is quite heartening in these times. And yes, some people are pissed about it.

Most specifically, Phil Magnan, the Director of Biblical Family Advocates. Not for the first time in an instance like this, I find myself more offended not by the homophobia, which sadly I've come to accept too many self-proclaimed "church believers" think is a color that looks good on them, but by the tortured, awkward speechmaking.

"To actually put the rainbow colors on such a sacred symbol for the Christian is an affront to the faith of not only the early church believers, but those of us who know that homosexuality and its colors have no place representing historical Christianity that upholds holiness and morality, very highly."

Sheesh. This guy's lost. Maybe he should try Hare Krishna.

(Anybody-besides Corey-who gets that reference, write in)

Tip o' the hat to Shakespeare's Sister, who allows as how

Doodz, we totally need to start a band. Homosexuality and Its Colorettes.

This reminds me of one of my favorite observations from the hippest book in the world, Bubblegum music is the naked truth, wherin is contained the fact that New Wave is music for geeks, girls and gays.

Ever since reading that, I have wanted to form a New Wave trio with a girl and gay just to call ourselves that.

The world is a very, very, very, very strange place

A little more than an hour ago, somebody found this blog by doing a Google search for:
nancy pelosi nipple shots
For the record, there are nonesuch here.

There's an obvious pun to made on the name "Germain," fortunately, I'm better than that I'll just point you to this top 10 TV Shows of '06 list by critics named Germain Lussier & Robin A. Rothman

Obviously, I agree with their number one choice-hello, "Studio 60!"-while disagreeing somewhat with this assertion:
Sure, many people who talk about this "dramedy" refer to Bradley Whitford as "Josh" ("West Wing") and Matthew Perry as "Chandler" ("Friends").

I really hope that's not true, though I'll concede in the case of Whitford's character they haven't done as much to define him. We know he likes Jordan & he's a recovering drug addict. But, who, really, is he? I hope we'll get a chance to find out.

But Perry, as I think I've mentioned, has really impressed me on this show with the way he's made me, not exactly forget Chander, but believe in Matt as a seperate fictional entity. Even if he is another example of Sorkin's weakness for creating Sorkin-surrogate writer characters, who are insecure about their sex appeal, and then casting the likes of Matthew Perry or Rob Lowe.

Their number three, "Friday Night Lights" I continue to find paradoxically one of the most watchable, yet missable, shows of the season. When I'm home and it's on, I will often zap over to it several times in an hour, and I almost always find something rewarding. Yet it's missing, for me, that feeling of "I can't miss a single second!" that you get when you're really hooked into some characters or storyline. But as I said many times at the beiginning of the season, any show about high school football that manages to hold even that muhc of my interest must be doing something right.

The conventional wisdom seems to be that last year's "24" was their best yet. After renting the DVD's last week, I have to say, I don't think it holds together as well as the other "days" do. There were one or two more "wait a minute...did they ever explain how..." moments than I remember from the others.

That's quite aside from my continuing qualms about the George W. Bush loving' producers. But I'll still be back for this season, especially after reading a (spoiler-free) review of the first four episodes by Stephen King in the new Entertainment Weekly. I'll probably even have fun.

Oh, and I'm going to make a prediction. This is not a spoiler since it's based on no insider knowledge whatsoever: This is the year they ice Chloe.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Random Flickr-Blogging: IMG_1847: Robert Crawford can lick my ass edition

A word of explaination. Robert Crawford, AKA "Jurassicpork," recently asked me--

why don't you go back to writing stupid little captions for Random Flickr blogging and leave the political commentary for the big boys and girls, OK, bubba?

--in reaction to a comment I posted to one of his blog entries. Well, not so much one of his blog entries, because, like most of his blog, it consists of quoting someone else's writing vebatim without comment or original thought. But nevertheless: This one's for you, buddy!

Original source.

Although the fact is, I don't have a "stupid" little caption for this, I just like the photo. It's a boathouse. I like the feeling I get from the picture of approaching something. I like the dreamy feel I get from it too.

My first, and first-produced, play is called The Girl in the Boat, but that probably isn't why I like it. As I've discussed before, I've always liked water and related imagery. I've always imagined that if I were a fisherman, I'd be the kind who doesn't give a damn whether he catches anything. And may not even have a worm on the hook. But to spend a few hours rocking in the sea, and otherwise messing around in boats, to quote Wind in the Willows? That I could go for.

I also have that sense of disconnect that I think a lot of people have that a house, or a home, is something they're trying to get to. A couple of my favorite songs are about, or at least refer to that. I was listening to one just the other day--No Place Like Home by Squeeze.

So maybe it's not so terribly farfetched to intuit that what I like about this picture is that it represents both the way I'd like to take the journey, and my hoped-to-be-arrived-at destination.

Which may not be all that weighty of an observation, but at least I can guarantee you that more thought went into it than any 10 Jurassicpork posts.

"I'm a writer," [Moss] said quietly. "If we're going to get into this territory, I can do it a good deal better and more cruelly than you can."
--Steven Bach, Dazzler, The Life And Times Of Moss Hart

The world has gone insane.

When this is considered a "bad" ass. (For those of you playing at home, that's Rose McGowan, in keeping with my theme this week of paying tribute to women that Marilyn Manson couldn't keep satisfied.)


This morning on CBS’s Face the Nation, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that Congress may refuse to authorize funding for an escalation of U.S. forces to Iraq if President Bush cannot justify the strategy.

Pelosi stated clearly that Congress will fully support all U.S. forces currently in Iraq. “But if the president wants to add to this mission, he is going to have to justify it,” Pelosi said. “This is new for him because up until now the Republican Congress has given a blank check with no oversight, no standards, no conditions, and we have gone into this situation, which is a war without end, which the American people have rejected.”

--Via Think Progress.