Friday, January 15, 2010


A couple of things from around the web:

Is it wrong that I think I kinda want the Team Conan boxer shorts?

And I think I agree with virtually every word of this take on Leno. Except for the parts about Seinfeld. The writer is clearly a fan, but I think the ex-sitcom star suffers from some of the same flaws identified in Leno.

Specifically, that he thinks it's funny when a multi-millionaire jokes about how expensive Junior Mints are at the movies. That sort of thing. Otherwise, it's dead-on.

ETA: On his show last night, Jay Leno said:

"Even Dave Letterman's taking shots at me," he continued. "Which surprised me—usually he's just taking shots at the interns."

Observation: Unless I'm mistaken, all the shots that Letterman and virtually all of the other late-night comics have taken at Leno stem from the same perception: That he (and NBC) has behaved unprofessionally and/or unethically.

They promised Conan O'Brien The Tonight Show, let him move his family and most if not all of his staff across the country, and then they went...psych! Whether or not this perception is true is debatable, I suppose, but I don't want to get into that.

My point is: Leno couldn't "fire back" at Dave on a professional or ethical level because by all reports, nobody questions his professionalism or ethics on the job, except perhaps for some network executives, who hardly count. So he went personal. NBC, meanwhile, did the same to Conan, calling the guy they chose to take over The Tonight Show names.

If 10-plus years online has taught me nothing else...and it hasn' has taught me this: The side that goes personal and starts calling names first hasn't any substantive criticism to make.

NBC blew it, they blew it publicly, and now they're circling the wagons. And Leno is still trying to exorcise his guilt for weaseling The Tonight Show away from Letterman in the first place.

If you can't join 'em, beat 'em, Conan.

Sometimes I think we should just put C-Span in the hands of the producers of "The Real World."

From Think Progress, quoted in entirety:

On Christmas Eve, Washington Post columnist David Broder published a “pox-on-both-their-houses” column, lamenting that the health care reform package that was about to pass the Senate didn’t have any “signs” of “bipartisan support.” But the new Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll out today indicates that the public doesn’t agree with Broder’s concern about bipartisanship. Asked what actions elected officials could undertake to increase trust in them, a majority said that “making a stronger effort to stand up for principle” would help “a lot” while only 35 percent said more focus “on compromising with members of the opposite political party” would help “a lot”:

Well, this week I rented and watched Rob Zombie's Halloween II, which dropped and went ker-splat at the box office last year.


Still, I'd had some hope for it. Zombie's first Halloween remake goes into my category of movies that are "probably as good as they could be, considering they didn't need to be made."

So my hope was that, freed of comparison to one of the scariest movies ever, he might be able to do something great. Especially since the 1981 Halloween II really kinda sucks.


Sad to say, so does the 2009 version, but it does not suck quite as bad as the 1981. I think this is because Zombie is a better director than Rick Rosenthal (Zombie's unrated director cut is the version I watched).

You sense him trying everything in his bag to try to make this into an effectively scary, haunted-house of a movie, and once or twice he succeeds, especially with the quick-flash editing. But the problem is, this haunted house is empty.

With his approach to the first remake, Zombie had some new ground to cover: The growth of Michael Myers from disturbed child to slashing adult.

But here, though he tries like a motherfucker to show us more about the way the adult Michael thinks, he never convinces that this sequel has any reason to exist.

Save that the last one made money, of course. It's notable that Malcolm McDowell's character in the follow-up is portrayed as a sellout cashing-in on the pain of others. Artist's mirror, Rob?

Writing about the last movie, I said
To an extent, good casting comes to Zombie's rescue here.

All the stars of the newer film are repeating their roles from the last and they're just as good, however they're even more sorely lacking in good things to do.

McDowell is simply wasted and Sheri Moon Zombie has virtually nothing to do but lead around a white horse. Even the height of Tyler Mane (he plays grown-up Michael) is not exploited as well as it was last time.

The three strongest actors do suggest a direction I would rather have seen this movie go.

Brad Dourif returns as the weary Sheriff, Danielle Harris as his teenage daughter who survived a Myers attack in the first film, and Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie, the unwitting center of it all.

Yes, friends, this is the face of a survivor.

Laurie's adoptive parents having been killed by Michael in the first movie, she's now moved in with the Sheriff and his daughter and it isn't going well.

Here was a set-up for a much more interesting film to do what few horror series have ever done, really deal with the psyches of people who survived such an attack.

There are moments that suggest Zombie wanted to do just that, but they never come together and stand up as anything because he always has to go back to the tired old tale of the unstoppable masked killer.

Dourif, the old pro, is the only one to be given more to do in the sequel than he was in the first, and he deserves it. He even manages to put an almost uncomfortable amount of real emotion into what could've been a horribly bad scene where he discovers a loved one has been killed. It's the singer, not the song.

Unfortunately, the novelty of casting Harris as a friend of the character whose daughter she played at ten years old in the original Halloween series has all but worn off.

She does a nice job, and based on some of her other roles I believe she could've done even better, but...her character doesn't even leave the house.

Something could've been made of this. Perhaps her experience of the last movie left her agoraphobic. This might help explain why she and Laurie are always sniping at each other, but it's never indicated, so we're left with a character that apparently exists only to clash with Laurie.

Taylor-Compton remains appealing, unfortunately she starts the performance at such a high shrieking pitch (one of the main points of the film is to show Laurie losing her grip on reality) there's not many places she can take it.

This could've been because of direction or actor's choice, but I think I'll blame the screenplay. This is credited only to Zombie, but Patrick Melton has said that he and his writing partner Marcus Dunstan, who wrote the screenplays for Saw IV-VI, made some un-credited contributions.

In the's just a slasher film, even if you sense it didn't want to be just that. How much of why it's just a slasher film is due to studio interference, budget cuts, and a "grind it out" schedule is an interesting question.

One I would love to discuss with Zombie over dinner...

Hold it...

So I'm reading Howard Kurtz on the Media and he's answering questions from his readers. One of them queries his description of Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien as "iconic figures with big followings."

Kurtz replies:
Take Conan. The guy is so famous I don't need to refer to him by his last name.


...his first name is Conan, you stupid fuck! Of course you don't need to refer to him by his last name. It has nothing to do with how "iconic" he is or isn't, or how big his "following" is.

It has to do with the fact that there is only one other person named Conan anybody has ever heard of, and that's a fictitious barbarian!

If his name were something more common like "Howard" or "Ben" that might make sense, but...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sticks and stones may break my bones But at least the seeds of love will be sown

One or two of you long-timers may remember a morning a couple of years ago when I learned that my blog was on "StumbleUpon." This being "a browser add-on for finding and sharing great web sites."

This was all well and good, except that the person who added it did so in the “pornography” topic. This was before I had created other blogs to run images of pretty women, still, I question the classifying of any of my blogs as "pornography."

Well, tonight--just two weeks shy of precisely two years later--I learned I've also been added to the "Politics" topic. I suppose I like that better. Besides (and I've quoted this before, but I like it)

Bill Hicks: "To me pornography is, you know, spending all your money and not educating the people in America, but spending it instead on weapons. That's pornographic to me. That's totally filthy, and et cetera, et cetera; down the line, you all in your fucking hearts know the goddamn arguments."

wimpiness at its most winsome*

Thompson Twins - Lay Your Hands On Me
Uploaded by trashfan. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

*It's a line I've always remembered from the original Rolling Stone review of this album.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Some surprise.

Harry Reid: Lieberman 'Double-Crossed Me' On Health Care

Gee, if only there'd been some instance of his past behavior to suggest he might do something like that...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I think I just went just a little bit gay for Conan O'Brien

This is one of the funniest, classiest public statements I have ever read. Reminds me of the fact that Conan started as (trumpets, please) a writer, and a darned good one.

I'd like to think NBC will wise up to that, and remember both that Conan wasn't that good when he was first given Late Night, and Jay wasn't that good when he became sole host of Tonight.

I'd like to think that, but if I were a betting man, I'd say Conan's headed for another network. I'll meet him there, if he is.

PS: I've said it before--If I were inclined to feel sorry for multi billion dollar corporations, I would feel sorry for NBC, because it seems that no matter what they do, they can't keep from fucking up late night.

Fortunately, I am not so inclined.

PPS: I know I chided Jay Leno recently for using an old joke, but some old jokes are classics, and anyway, Jay's a pro, and I'm just an eagle-eared blogger. So:

You know the diference between the Titanic and NBC?

The Titanic had entertainment.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Au revoir Monsieur Rohmer.


intelligent young women, twisting sometimes painfully in or out of love. That's what French filmmaker Eric Rohmer, who died today, made movies about. That's what I want to tell stories about in whatever form I can.

He had a talent for dialogue (given that I have to assume that through the translator), explorations of love and friendship; a taste for writing about women, misunderstandings, ambiguity and dancing.

That's why every few years I go on a kick of watching a bunch of his films. They pleased and engaged me. On the one hand I shall miss him, on the other there are still a few dozen films of his that I haven't seen yet.

I have a feeling I'll be renting two or three this week. The question is, which ones. I'm leaning toward La collectionneuse, Les rendez-vous de Paris, and/or Nadja à Paris.

In the memorial piece linked above, Roger Ebert writes
Rohmer's characters arrived at moral decisions in their lives, usually through romance, often with warm humor. Few directors have loved people more: Their quirks, weaknesses, pretensions, ideals, and above their hopes of happiness. In 27 features made between 1959 and 2007, not a single Rohmer character was a generic type. All were originals.

The choices were revealed through indirection, in films ostensibly about something else.

And then, quoting one of his own earlier writings,
"Rohmer is the romantic philosopher of the French New Wave, the director whose characters make love with words as well as flesh."

If you have to die, and if you have a gravestone, I should think you could do worse than to have that etched into it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I could almost cry.

Ok, you guys know how I'm an old romantic/wave synth-pop fan (Naked Eyes, Human League, etc)? Well, on one of my semi-freeform Google video searches I ran across this guys art project.

He describes it as:
a synthesis of Synthpop music into Pop Art hence the name

Heaven is going to look like this.

Good and Plenty

Roger Ebert on sweetness denied...and regained via memory.