Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Robot Chicken

"I'm sorry, I thought my Dark Lord of the Sith could protect a small thermal exhaust port that's two meters wide."

Bow down before the Robot Chicken.

Bonus: The Real World Metropolis bit is worth watching, too, if only for the final few seconds with Gleeck.

The Puffy Chair

Is it the Gen-Y Clerks? Hard to say, but The Puffy Chair looks kind of fun and extra-super angsty.

If only the story didn't sound so linear. When will American independent cinema finally shake free the shackles of narrative storytelling?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Fully Operational

This morning I found myself at the German embassy meeting with the ambassador and members of the European and German space industry. It was a very interesting breakfast where I learned of Germany's contribution to the International Space Station (Germans give more than any other member of the European Space Agency). It is a research lab known as Columbus and is expected to be launched with the help of NASA and the space shuttle by October or November, 2007. Within Columbus, astronauts such as Thomas Reiter, will be able to conduct experiments on plants and other living things. Another area of innovation is the ATV, or Automated Transfer Vehicle, perhaps the most technologically complex module ever designed, relying almost solely on remote controls and robotics. The ATV may ultimately replace the shuttle, scheduled for retirement in 2010.

Waiting for Heat-Mavs

It's been a long time since I dug out the Roswell Rayguns, but submit to you that, pound-for-pound, "Coach, you were 5-79 last season, why the playoff talk?" may be the best opening to an advertisement, ever.

When the Rayguns first appeared, Eric Neel spoke the truth:
I believe in the funk and I tell you this: You cannot trifle with the funk, you can't just set it loose, in a commercial or in your head, and expect things to stay the same. Sure, it looks harmless enough, all wrapped in nostalgia like it is here, like it's a '70s thing, but the funk is bigger, nastier and more intoxicating than even the most intense blast of nostalgia ... and it cannot be contained. It is out there now, reanimated, in the air. It will proliferate, and it will change things. Squares will swing, stiffs will groove, the slow-down, feed-the-post game will disappear, and we will all be better for it.

Bring on The Finals.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Interesting Final Note

Box Office Mojo has a good roundup of X-Men's monster opening weekend and concludes with this very interesting tidbit:
Playing at four theaters, An Inconvenient Truth averaged a promising estimated $70,500 per site over the three-day weekend, the highest of the year and for a documentary. Former Vice President Al Gore's environmentalist tract has grossed $489,000 in five days, and distributor Paramount Classics plans to expand it throughout June, reaching its widest point over the Independence Day holiday.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Wii Price Roundtable

This may be a bit industry-heavy for those not into the gaming world, but this IGN discussion on the Nintendo Wii price point ranges far and wide, touching on Playstation and Xbox and lots of different scenarios.

The most intriguing of which is the notion that Microsoft may be planning a November price cut for Xbox:
Since Microsoft can rely on awesome software rather than dealing with a hardware launch, it has the upper hand right now. If fact, if Nintendo was in this position we'd be seeing a price drop to combat the new systems. Microsoft isn't stupid. I personally expect a drop of up to $100 ($50 is more likely, but Microsoft will be going for a TKO at Christmas) for each bundle starting mid-November.

The general sense seems to be that the Wii will launch under $200, perhaps as low as $149.

Malapropism of the Week

"To me, it's not rocket surgery."

David Lee Roth on the inevitability of a Van Halen reunion.

So Long, Jack McCoy?

Buried way down in Lisa de Moraes' column is this very ill portent for Law & Order fans:
The suits decided that was one too many new dramas to promote during Sunday game play, so they've moved "Kidnapped" to Wednesday at 10, longtime home to "Law & Order."

"We needed to lighten up Tuesday," Reilly said.

"Law & Order: Criminal Intent" will be moved from Friday to Tuesday to fill the hole left by "Kidnapped." Wednesday's "Law & Order," displaced by "Kidnapped," is moving into that "L&O: CI" Friday 10 p.m. berth.

Friday night at 10:00 p.m.? That's about the third-least desirable slot in network television. If you want a series to fail so that you can kill it, that's where you hide it.

Don't be surprised if next season is the last.

They're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

No, seriously. Matus has a fascination with the hammerhead that I've never quite understood, but the series of pictures in that link are sort of beyond comprehension. I mean, the dude's trying to land a 15-foot shark on a 23-foot boat.

Sure, I get it. It's early Friday morning and you can't be bothered to follow the link. Well, how's this for a teaser?

The photo credit is to Joe Cermele, who's more man than I'll ever be.

Get Your Fresh CulturePulp!

Mike Russell has posted the latest CulturePulp--and it's the best edition ever. Mutants are involved. As is the funny.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

My pitch to you, dear readers

The new issue of Doublethink is out, and, if I may say so myself, it has several excellent articles. Katherine Mangu-Ward has a brilliant essay called “The Virtuous Eater,” which simultaneously makes light and takes seriously the new ethics of eating locally, seasonally, and organically. Jason Mattera has a terrific profile of National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru, exploring the softer side of the author of The Party of Death. Also, the magazine looks better than ever with its new cover design.

After you savor these tender filets of journalism, I hope you’ll consider taking out a subscription, this being the week of the magazine’s big subscription drive.

Here’s my tailored-to-Galley-Slaves-Readers Pitch: For only $17.60 a year you can strike a blow against liberal media bias by supporting Doublethink, a magazine that is training the new generation of libertarian and conservative journalists, not to spend their careers lingering in the right-wing ghetto, but to insert themselves into the mainstream. Alternatively, if you don’t think liberal media bias is that big a deal and all you want to see is good journalism, well, then for only $17.60 a year you can subscribe to a super magazine that rarely mentions liberal media bias because its writers are too busy reporting real stories.

Disclosure: In case you don’t know this, I happen to be the editor of Doublethink.

Plug 'n' Play

A brief interruption to plug the CATO Institute's excellent new podcast center. This free service is brought to you by Galley Friend Anastasia Uglova, who not only is the tech wonder behind this venture, but who also voices the intros on the podcasts.

Visit early and often.

New Hotness

Today he reminds me why I fell in love with him, all over again:
Some people say no one in Hollywood has the courage to stand up for themselves. Some people don’t know Teri Hatcher. Page Six says:

"The actress left her longtime manager Eli Selden (a woman) last year during Selden's fight with breast cancer. One source said: 'Eli got her the role in 'Desperate Housewives,' and soon after that was diagnosed with breast cancer and fought it valiantly.' One source says Hatcher 'left Eli because she told her, 'You can't focus on me right now during this important time in my life...' "

It's about time someone stood up to those pricks with cancer. It's always me, me, me with those people. I need kemo, I want to live, MY bone marrow is low. I don't know if they're just fishin for compliments or what, but it's really unattractive. And Teri Hatcher doesn't have time for such selfish antics. If they didn't want to die so bad, they should have become a leather mummy. Like Teri.


Is this trailer for Aquaman or Mercy Reef or M:I4?

Egotastic says that it's for a show the new CW declined to pick up.

Update: It just occurred to me: Does this make Ving Black Manta?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Flowery Twats

Fantastic Sun story on German preparation for the World Cup:
GERMAN cops will use sweeping powers to collar England fans doing Basil Fawlty-style Hitler impressions at the World Cup.

Yobs will be instantly banged up for TWO WEEKS if they goose-step like John Cleese in his most famous Fawlty Towers scene.

Bonus if you get the headline.

Because Information Wants To Be Free!

Fire up the BitTorrent:
Top movie studios look set to delay the HDCP copy protection system - which would only work on next-gen DVD players with HDMI ports, unlike the low-end PS3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360 HD-DVD peripheral - for four to six years.

The move would mean that all movie content produced until 2010 at the earliest, and possibly as far as 2012, will not carry the Image Constraint Token - a security feature which would restrict high-definition playback only to equipment with HDMI ports and HDCP encryption.

You Tell Me

. . . whether or not the trailer for Ghost Rider makes the movie like five times worse than The Punisher. I can't say for sure.

When will Marvel get around to putting the rest of its fourth-tier characters on the big screen? I can't wait for the Submariner and the Silver Surfer, myself.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Itzin an Amazing Performance

I caught the double episode of “24” last night, and I continue to astonished by the performance of Gregory Itzin, who plays creepy President Charles Logan, second-rate politician and third-rate man. One key to Itzin’s performance is his poker-faced display of Logan’s Nixon-esque weakness for self-pity, even as the ruthless leader allows the murder of innocent Americans, the assassination of a former president, and commits enough acts of treason to make one dizzy. Another key is the voice. Itzin makes Logan sound like he’s always sorry about something, humble and penitent, even as Logan imagines himself an uber-president, able to play everyone else like a cheap violin. Also, when President Logan is lying, which is most of the time, Itzin makes it obvious, but the man is trying so hard to be believed that you can see why the person he’s lying to gives him a pass. And after all, he’s the president. Or was. Alas, we won’t have Logan to kick around anymore.

Jean Smart as first lady has also been excellent, of course, and Mary Lynn Rajskub, as Chloe, continues to prove that she’s one of the best actresses on television right now.

I Really Think So

Prompted by the outpouring of love for Bob Sapp, Galley Reader H.B. sends along this link to a clip, featuring Ernest Hoost, from a Japanese show:
The "silent library" is a recurring theme in a comedy program called gaki no tsukai yaarahende. This episode features Ernesto Hoost. I
believe Sapp beat him once, though Hoost has been a K-1 champion a number of times.

The Mad Scientists' Club

This Jody Bottum essay about a series of kids books may be the most beautiful thing I've read this year:
There’s a kind of negative sound a model rocket makes after you throw the switch or light the fuse, a sort of indrawn breath as the spark disappears into the touchhole.

For an instant the whole rickety contraption—dunce-hat top, stove-pipe body, shark-tail fins—seems to shrink back like one of those wide-eyed girls on the cover of a 1940s
Amazing Stories as the tentacles of the space monster stretch toward her scoop-necked blouse. Then with a screech of exhalation, the rocket begins to lift, straining from the metal-tubing frame to climb through the blue sky toward the black of space: faster and faster, too fast to see, a parabolic smoke trail penciling its passage. And maybe, if everything goes right, at the end there’s this little poof and the handkerchief parachute pops from the nose and floats the bombard gently home to earth: a victory, an achievement—a marker laid down, with a surveyor’s precision, for a world in which things work.

Except that it hardly ever did go right. The ignition spark would fail, or the flight would start to corkscrew, or the rocket wouldn’t climb more than a few inches, thrashing against the frame like a demented squirrel until it finally flipped over and burned itself out burrowing into the ground. Besides, metal tubing was expensive, and the frame was probably rusty tiebar, those knobby metal sticks that reinforce concrete, filched from a construction site and strung together with baling wire and duct tape—for baling wire and duct tape were the fallbacks and the fix-alls for every one of the after-school rocketeers: the young inventors, the proto-geeks, the science boys.

You almost certainly knew some of them, if you are of a certain age. They were the ones in your algebra class drawing suspension bridges and cloverleaf freeway interchanges in the margins of their spiral-bound notebooks. They understood all about slide rules and ham radios and those physics-lab gizmos that sparked and hissed and made your hair stand up with static electricity so you looked just like Lon Cheney. Mad! you’d howl, They said I was mad! while the science teacher was out of the room. And the girls would giggle, but the science boys would look down at the careful cross-hatchings in their notebooks, because it wasn’t funny to them. It was real, the way things worked. The way things wanted to work.

Theirs was a world of the kind of stuff army-navy surplus stores used to stock on the dusty tables way in the back: leftover radar parts from Korea and oversized walkie-talkies in olive drab—Press To Talk, Switch NOT Depressed While Receiving—and metal detectors like mop-handled soup plates and Geiger counters and Breast-Plate Microphone Holders for Wireless Set WS-19 and vacuum tubes and radio headphones and manuals on COMSEC and Morse code. Theirs was the erector-set cosmos of
Popular Mechanics, with its pictures of moonwheels and frictionless bearings, and its ads for kits to put a sleek fiberglass body—As Aerodynamic as a Porsche!—on the chassis of a Volkswagen Beetle, and its stories about how some credulous banker in Spokane had been suckered again by con men with a perpetual-motion machine.

Part of the attraction may have been the Tomorrowland utopia the technology seemed to promise, with its glimpses of a Jetsonian future: the People-Mover! the Paperless Office! the Self-Cleaning Corningware Stove Top! the Robots That Will Serve Us Coffee in the Sparkling Comfort of Our Space-Age Homes! And part of it was the sheer gadgetry: the fetish of the accessory that made, for instance, a 1960s shutterbug ache for all the telephoto doohickeys and widgets in the mail-order catalogue that came every other month from that We-Have-It-All! camera emporium in New York City.

But an underappreciated element, I’ve always thought, was the language, the nuts-and-bolts poetry in all those pre-computer words: a kind of rhetorical gluttony that might have driven Rimbaud mad—that did drive Kipling mad as he scribbled down stories filled with Scottish engineers and ship’s boilers and No. 12 steam-fitting wrenches and the work of the men who actually make things work. For the American science boys, it was oscilloscopes and cathode rays, diodes and dynamos, capacitors and step-down transformers. Or the great mechanical words they got to use: axial force and momentum, vector and differential, tension and torsion.

There's more. Enjoy.

We're All Brownsians Now

Blog Crush on Madonna:
Someone put some pictures from the Madonna concert last night in Los Angeles on their live journal page, and here are a few of the pictures on Madonna being "crucified" during the show while wearing a crown of thorns. The problem of course is that I'm so uptight, and her shocking "in your face" attitude is too much for me and the other stuffy blue bloods at the yacht club to handle. That's the only possible reason to not love stuff like this. In fact, when I first heard, my monocle popped from eye and fell into my champagne glass and I fainted on one of the peacocks.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Dirty Pool

It seemed inevitable that Vito Spanafore would meet his demise at the hands of his brother-in-law, Phil Leotardo (pool stick and all). But did you know there were several alternate endings to last night's Sopranos and not even Joe Gannascoli knew how his character, "Gay Vito," would fare? Just one of many interesting tidbits in the current New York Observer. Upon learning just how gay Vito would be, other actors, including Tony Sirico (Paulie Walnuts) and James Gandolfini, expressed their concerns and even opposition to it. But, as Gannascoli reveals to the Observer's Sara Vilkomerson, it's one thing to complain about your character and something else entirely to complain to David Chase.

Friday, May 19, 2006

A Man Called Bob

If you haven't checked out the K1 fight between Bob Sapp and Kimo yet, get on it. Fast.

And afterwards, go watch this clip of the 348 lb. Sapp on a Japanese game/talk show that looks an awful lot like Matthew's Moopies from Lost in Translation. The giant, shirtless Sapp chases a bunch of Japanese school girls while eating miniature beach balls. I'm not sure what the point of the game is, but he wins.

Then you can go to Sapp's YouTube page which has tons of his fight highlights.

This is as good as it gets.

Exception to the Rule

The Washington Times is regularly flogged by those in the know (and even those who merely think they're in the know) as an awful right-wing rag with few redeeming qualities (sports, local reporting). And fairness requires it be said that at times the Times has more than deserved such harsh reviews. Their pro-Bush campaign coverage in 00 and 04 sometimes verged on fanzine-ish. And yet, because a lot of smart and interesting people are always wandering the docks of journalism in search of work, a few of them have turned up at the Times. Tod Lindberg, now of Policy Review, ran their editorial page for several years. The late Colin Walters managed an always-solid books section with very few resources and little money to pay contributers—a tradition continuing under Carol Herman. And a few ace reporters, Bill Gertz for one, have called the paper home. But even this general defense of the paper seems to have lost its persuasive power as other conservative publications have become more prominent in recent years.

And yet ... the underdog paper continues to throw out quality work when you least suspect it. A while back (maybe about two years ago, I can't remember), Daniel Wattenberg became editor of the weekend entertainment section of the paper—called the "Show" section—and it's been very good. Take this week's edition. The front page beautifully parodies the goose-quill manuscript style of the DaVinci Code and shows off cinammon-pink etchings of Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou in a style reminiscent of those silly prophecy drawings from "Alias." The editorial package features three entertaining articles on the subject, all written from a conservative or rather pro-Christian point of view. One is a straight review of the movie by Christian Toto; another is a sharp little reporting piece on the Christian response to the movie by the prolific Scott Galupo (a really teriffic music writer); and the last is a sidebar listing highlights in the boycott battles between Hollywood and believers. Good writing, sharp point of view without nagging, and a sense of humor. It may not be a match for, say, the Washington Post's justly celebrated and magnificently staffed and funded Style section (or those of its top-tier competitors like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, or the LA Times) but for a fraction of their cost, it's better than almost every other newspaper entertainment section I've read. Of the second-best, it may be the very best.

NES Love

Remember the commercial for the original Nintendo RBI Baseball? Here it is in all its glory.

Have a Good Weekend

This is my gift to you. It's a short K1 fight between a former ultimate fighting heavy weight and a monster kickboxer phenom. To get a sense of scale, the little guy in the ring is 250 lbs. The big guy--"Bob," as the announcers refer to him--goes 346.

The fight only lasts about 4 minutes and you can fast-forward past the break between rounds. But you'll be rewarded for your patience. Back-hands, axe-handle chops, the double-Kong clap--it's like watching a live-action Street Fighter.

ESPN Mobile has lost $25M (so far)

You can pretend that you don't find this story intensely satisfying, but you'll only be fooling yourself.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Thanks to Galley friend J.E. for passing along this terrific link to yet another spoof trailer entitled Ten Things I Hate About Commandments.

Oliver Stone's 9/11 (cont.)

The first trailer for World Trade Center is up and it's pretty good. If anything, the only flaw is that it looks a tad too conventional. Still, I can't imagine he will lapse into movie-of-the week territory. Check out that final shot as the camera pulls all the way out, Contact-style.

This could be the big movie of the summer.

Where Are They Now?

Forget the stuff up top in this story about Jodie Foster giving the commencement speech at Penn. (Although the camera bit is lame--that's the same schtick she used when she gave the Yale commenement a decade ago.)

The real gold is at the bottom:
Yakov Smirnoff, who earned a master's degree in positive psychology, was among the approximately 6,000 graduates.

What a country!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wes Anderson, Pitchman

Seth Stevenson has the grade on Wes Anderson's Am-Ex spot.

More Transformers

Optimus Prime.

Double Down for your Health

A recent study by the University of Nevada indicates that exposure to second-hand smoke in casinos can damage one's DNA and ultimately lead to heart disease or cancer. No argument there. It's a good thing these scientists didn't do research on the harmful effects of the Sports Book, or what a friend of mine calls the "Cancer Room." But there has also been an increase in nonsmoking areas within a number of casinos. And I am also certain that playing table games (definitely not slots) can help prevent Alzheimer's Disease: If keeping your mind active is a key weapon in the fight against this terrible illness, how much more active can it get, trying to keep track of the point and odds on your 6 and 8, 5 and 9, and pressing it? Or when to hit on a 16 and stand on a 12? The mental gymnastics can be quite rigorous--which, I guess, makes me Bela Karolyi.

Friday, May 12, 2006

More Wii

Gamespot has informed speculation about the Wii price point--they guess it at $199. But check out their chart showing the inflation adjusted launch prices of Nintendo consoles through the years.


Doctors at Ascot Hospital discharged Keith Richards yesterday after he underwent surgery to relieve bleeding in his head. The 62-year-old guitarist had earlier fallen from a coconut tree in Fiji. Said Richards: "Personally I would like to thank everyone at Ascot Hospital for the truly wonderful care I received. From the doctors to the beautiful ladies who make painful nights less painful and shorter. I'm pretty much at a loss for words to express my deep gratitude. I hope I wasn't too much of a pain in the arse--after all it was my head they fixed. Many thanks, Kiwis."

Further proof that Keith Richards is indestructible.

Spitzer for President?

Sexy lax legend Jenny has a post that will make your weekend:
Lindsay Lohan's record label, Universal Music Group, has been fined $12 million for payola today. . . . Sony was already fined $10 million and Warner Music Group was fined $5 million, but the fine was higher for Universal Music Group since they have done the most damage to our ears. All of the aforementioned companies are responsible for forcing garbage like Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Lopez, Good Charlotte and Lindsay Lohan on radio listeners.

The investigation was spearheaded by future New York governor Eliot Spitzer. Fox News has the details:
Lohan is no singer, and no one, not even her movie fans, wanted her albums or to hear her on the radio.

Nevertheless, the record company persisted. A series of e-mails in June 2005 shows what was happening — a manipulation of MTV’s “Total Request Live” show that airs every afternoon and can seriously affect a new record’s fortunes.

UMG, according to Spitzer’s reports, was spending money at radio stations and for “TRL” to “stuff the ballot box” (my words) and turn losers into winners.

The memo series is all about one subject: “We are hiring a request company starting Monday to jack TRL for Lindsay…Guys this is a no win situation how should I respond...there is no airplay we have been pursuing…”

Even more troubling, but not surprising, is a group called Dream originally found by Sean "Diddy" Combs. A July 2003 e-mail tells the story:

“Okay, this is not fun for me. I’ve been consumed all day with calls with etc bitching about our radio picture on Dream. Confidentially pop has spent $196,000 and r/c has spent $72,000 ... This is embarrassing a total lack of accountability. We have gotten ripped off beyond belief, we better turn this thing around or it’s our a**. That’s almost $300,000 and they are looking for some heads…bad bad bad…If I find out that deals were cut with lack of airplay and overnight spins starting with the nationals, as they say heads are gonna roll, including mine.”

Spitzer is going to run for president some day and for all I know his platform will include tripling taxes, outlawing fried food, and imposing sharia.

Still, it'll be awfully tempting to vote for him . . .

Thursday, May 11, 2006

E3 Wrap-Up

Galley Brother and Personal Hero B.J. was there and has this report:
Wii: Console: The best looking of all of the new consoles. It’s very small and very hot, but I’m not sure if they cheated to reduce the size. The power brick could be as big as 360’s or bigger. I couldn’t see one so I can't tell. The graphics are a bit nicer than this generation’s, but they don't compare to the 360 or PS3.

Controller: Freakin awesome. Very odd for about the first 10 seconds, after that it seems very natural. The motion sensors worked very well, and there did not seem to be any lag. I had a little difficulty with aiming/pointing at first. The Nintendo guy told me the problem was that we were set up a bit too close. This seemed like a reasonable explanation and in any event, the problem was minor.

Games: Nintendo claimed that there were 27 different games to play. This number is a bit inflated because some of the different games were the bare-bones baseball, golf, and tennis game that are all going to be packaged together. Still, there were a bunch of games that seemed to be pretty far along in development. I played Red Steel and Madden.

Red Steel: FPS game with shooting and sword fighting. Very generic. Looks like it could probably play on the current systems. You aim with the remote to shoot, move with the nunchuk (that’s actually what they’re calling it, only they spell it correctly). Shake the nunchuk to reload/open doors/press buttons. The game forces you to shoot guys with guns and swordfight guys with swords, even though I completely wanted to go Indiana Jones and shoot the boss who used a sword. The controls were pleasantly responsive and made a nondescript game pretty fun.

Madden: The most fun I had playing any game there. The graphics looked pretty identical to PS2 Madden ’06. In the demo, you start out doing the pocket presence throwing drill, then the field goal kicking drill, then 2 minutes as the Steelers against the Seahawks. To throw the ball you press the direction pad/button on the remote for the corresponding receiver and make a downward flick/throwing motion with the remote. To kick, you line up your kick, press a button to start the kicker moving and flick the remote up--the harder you flick it, the more kicking power and if you don’t hold the remote level while flicking it up you add some slice in the direction you’re tilting. When running the ball, you juke by moving the remote and stiff arm by moving the nunchuk.

PS3: Console: Big & ugly. Absolutely gorgeous graphics, I’d say probably better than the 360, but I never saw the 2 side by side. Did I mention it's going to cost $600?

Controller: It’s the same controller they’ve been using for years. And, as such it controls exactly the same. I sort of missed the force feedback, but it’s something you can live without. The 6 axis of movement worked very well for controlling the plane in Warhawk, and felt pretty natural. Warhawk was the only game that used this feature.

Games: I’d say they had about 10 different games playable. Most of them were listed as being 30 – 50% complete. Gorgeous graphics, but I felt like I’ve played them all before. I played Sonic, Heavenly Swords (or Heavenly Blades), Resistance: The Fall of Man, and Madden.

Sonic: I only played about 10 seconds of this and didn’t get to see Sonic running at full speed, but it felt like just about every Sonic game since Sonic Dreamcast.

Heavenly Sword or whatever it was called: You play as an attractive scantily clad chick who swings two big blades/swords to beat up guys in what I’d say in an ancient Rome setting. The playable level had you in a small coliseum type room beating about 4 waves of soldiers and the boss. Lots of destructible tables. Gorgeous to look at incredibly fluid controls, very cinematic. Problem is its God of War with better graphics and a chick. Her weapons and the way she used them looked exactly like the weapons in God of War.

Resistance: FPS with human soldiers fighting aliens in a ruined/destroyed city. It’s you and a bunch of AI controlled humans launching an attack on aliens in a ruined city (the urban combat was similar to a WWII shooter with aliens instead of Nazis). Lots of stuff on screen, very pretty, very good AI. Like most FPS games feels like it has been done before.

Madden: The new features, like playing as the lead blocker, weren’t playable. Incredibly detailed, but played the same as Madden ’06 PS2.

Random games:

Justice League PS2: Top down, hack & slash, that gives you 2 Justice League heroes on screen and a bunch of enemies. Think X-Men Legends with 2 people in your party instead of 4--and slower. Everything moved slowly, I was surprised to find out that the game was almost done.

Deadrising 360: 3rd person action game where you’re a freelance newspaper reporter trapped in a mall/park in a zombie infested town. Everything can be used as a weapon, you have to stay alive for 72 hours waiting for a helicopter to rescue you, and you try to save some people. Fun, lots of stuff on screen at once, very interactive environments. Each weapon only has one attack; the zombies are slow enough to not seem very threatening. Could end up being a very fun game.

Frontline, or Front Mission, or Last Line 360: Deeply generic 3rd person shooter for the 360. The only thing that makes it different is that you’re on a planet with lots of deep snow so you move slowly.

Okami PS2: Cell shaded, action/platformer with calligraphy elements (at anytime you can switch to a calligraphy pad draw something and have it affect the environment. Very pretty look, seems somewhat different.

Stranglehold 360 & PS3: John Woo-Chow Yun Fat action game. Incredibly destructible environment. Shoot columns and debris comes off; enemies cover their faces from flying debris, lots of John Woo style action, slide across tables & counters, diving onto carts and shoot people while the carts are moving, build up points and pull of a special move to clear the room and bring in doves. Used bullet time, looked fun, didn’t seem overly original.


Is out on DVD. Slate has the details. He-Man, it turns out, was gay:
The best part about rewatching He-Man, after the initial nostalgia-burst, was tracking the show's hilarious accidental homo-eroticism—an aspect I missed completely as a first-grader. In the ever-growing lineup of "outed" classic superheroes, He-Man might be the easiest target of all. It's almost too easy: Prince Adam, He-Man's alter ego, is a ripped Nordic pageboy with blinding teeth and sharply waxed eyebrows who spends lazy afternoons pampering his timid pet cat; he wears lavender stretch pants, furry purple Ugg boots, and a sleeveless pink blouse that clings like saran wrap to his pecs. To become He-Man, Adam harnesses what he calls "fabulous secret powers": His clothes fall off, his voice drops a full octave, his skin turns from vanilla to nut brown, his giant sword starts gushing energy, and he adopts a name so absurdly masculine it's redundant. Next, he typically runs around seizing space-wands with glowing knobs and fabulously straddling giant rockets. He hangs out with people called Fisto and Ram Man, and they all exchange wink-wink nudge-nudge dialogue: "I'd like to hear more about this hooded seed-man of yours!" "I feel the bony finger of Skeletor!" "Your assistance is required on Snake Mountain!" Once you start thinking along these lines, it's impossible to stop.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

First Person Awesome

It's not often that something happens somewhere on this planet just for me, but there it is: a Heat videogame.

Throw in Batman as a secret character you can unlock and . . .

The Mamba

Please note that I didn't write a single word about Kobe's 3-shot second-half performance against the Suns in Game 7. But Sam Anderson has some things to say on the subject:
Since Michael Jordan's final title in 1998, NBA superstars have suffered mightily from what Harold Bloom termed "anxiety of influence." The Jordan myth—a morality play about how dedication, respect for the game, and loving your parents makes you the undisputed greatest person in the world—has stifled an entire generation of great players. But, as Jordan's most talented immediate successor, Kobe has been uniquely warped. He's plagiarized MJ's game so expertly that, in many ways, he's ahead of the master's curve—Kobe is stronger than the 27-year-old Jordan and has a deadlier outside shot. But for all his miraculous skills, Kobe is painfully bad at mythmaking. Since he's a Jordan-like talent, Kobe clearly thinks that he's entitled to the Jordan mythology, but he doesn't have any of Jordan's charisma or imagination. As melodramatic and managed as Jordan's career was, there was some authentic core—it was original and seemed to mean something. Kobe exists entirely within quotation marks.

Jordan was a master of pantomime. He built his empire largely on iconic celebratory gestures: the tongue-wag, the splay-legged fist pump, the impish "Even I marvel at my own divinity" shrug. Kobe's dramatic gestures are all either borrowed or embarrassing. After his game-winner over the Suns in Game 4, Kobe held his fist frozen in front of him exactly like MJ used to. But when he got clotheslined by Raja Bell in the next game, there was no script to work from: You could almost see him trying to remember if Come Fly With Me had any footage of Jordan getting horse-collared by Joe Dumars. Kobe finally improvised with a sassy hand-gesture shuffle. He wiped a pile of imaginary dirt off of his shoulder for a while, then added a schoolmarm finger waggle while making the least convincing tough-guy face I've ever seen. It was like a high-school production of West Side Story.

The Phoenix crowd's Game 7 chant of "Kobe sucks" brought on another round of awkward posturing. Kobe cupped his hand to his ear, Hulk Hogan-style, and held it long enough for TNT's cameras to swivel and zoom; then he nodded sarcastically with his lips pursed for a good 10 seconds. It was supposed to look cocky and defiant but came off as empty petulant theater.

I will add this: Kobe had a stupendous season. I mean, 81 points. 81 points.

But being a deadly scorer is more common than you might think. 81 is 81, but if you look at the next strata--people in the 50s and 60s--you see lots of all-time greats (Wilt, Elgin Baylor, the Ice Man, Pistol Pete).

And you also see Rick Barry, Joe Fulks, Tracy McGrady, Karl Malone, Antawn Jamison, Bernard King, Purvis Short, Jerry Stackhouse, Adrian Dantley, Calvin Murphy, Glen Rice, Jermaine O'Neal, Damon Stoudamire, Alex English, Allan Houston, Chris Webber, and Tom Chambers.

Let me repeat: Tom Chambers.

No disrespect: Every one of those guys is a wonderful player. I'd kill to have any of them--including Chambers--on the Sixers. I should be so lucky.

But none of them is or ever was a Great player. Putting up big numbers in an NBA game isn't as specialized a skill as you might think. At any given time, there are more than a handful of guys in the league capable of going for 50+, and not all of these guys would make your all-star team, let alone your all-time team.

The greats are the ones who do it when it counts most. Jordan averaged 33.4 ppg (and 6.4 rebounds) in the playoffs. Kobe is averages 22.9 ppg (and 4.9 rebounds).

Update: Galley Friend J.E. writes in defense of Alex English,
English was a great player. Not even debatable. Don't blame him for playing with stiffs and therefore not having the opportunity to shine in memory--that is, the playoffs.

I never saw English play, but I trust J.E.--English goes into my Great list.

The Bravest Movie of the Year?

Polish the Oscar. Here's the AICN review of Hate Crime:
Robbie (Seth Peterson) and Trey (Brian J. Smith) are the perfect suburban couple; their neighbors love them; and they seem mature and stable enough to have conversations about things other than musicals and Judy Garland (I'm making a point here: if my only exposure to gay people was films, I'd have a seriously disjointed view of the culture).

A new neighbor named Chris Boyd (Chad Donella) moves in next door, and it doesn't take long to realize he's an gay-hating religious zealot (and the son of a Paster played by Bruce Davison) who takes an instant disliking to Seth Robbie and Trey. A few days later while walking the dog, Trey is violently beaten in the park. Immediate suspicion falls on Chris, but with no evidence, the crime goes unsolved. In fact, when the case goes from an assault to murder, the homicide copy (Giancarlo Esposito) begins to think Robbie had something to do with the killing since Trey had a large life insurance policy.

Robbie, Trey's mother (Cindy Pickett), and some of the neighbors set out to discover who the real killer is (they do) and get justice that the police clearly aren't willing to deliver. Some of the film's final scenes, in which Robbie and crew, carry out an elaborate revenge scheme may hit some audience members the wrong way.

Lady in the Water

The new trailer for Shayamalamadingdong's Lady in the Water looks pretty great. Particularly when Gandalf's eagle swoops down.

If there's something bad trying to get the Merlot snob, he should just raise the Army of the Dead. Or something.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Well, the new Playstation 3 has a release date (November 17) and a pricetag: $499 for a base model (without HDMI inputs) and $599 for the "premium" package.

Call be crazy, but this sounds like a recipe for not-great longterm prospects. Sony will sell the first 6 million units in the States pretty quickly, but after that? As one AICN commenter puts it:
Hi-def output that 90% of gamers can't even utilize, an expensive DVD format that may be obsolete in three years, a last-gen controller with a half-assed imitation of Nintendo's motion sensitivty, an inevitably-inferior-to-Xbox-Live online service, and PSP connectivity (because it was such a massive success for GBA-GameCube) all bundled up in an aesthetically hideous console with the Spider-Man font slapped on the side. And that's before you shell out $60 for an extra controller and $70 for the games. I own a PS2 and like it just fine, but I'd make a charitable donation to Al Qaeda before pissing my money away on this fuckin' boondoggle. Fuck you Sony. Give me my faggoty Wii, let me download Mike Tyson's Punch-Out, Kis Icarus and Bionic Commando and I'm all set for next gen.

Hocus Cadabra!

Much to everyone's relief (and I know you were all worried sick about him!), master illusionist David Blaine is no longer in a fish tank in Lincoln Center. Last night, divers rescued Blaine, who had failed to free himself after holding his breath for some seven minutes (the record is 8 minutes 58 seconds). Associated Press described the magician as emerging from the tank "weak and wrinkly" and suffering "liver damage, pins and needles in his feet and hands, some loss of sensation and rashes...."

Well, it could have been worse. Remember that stunt Blaine tried to pull a few years ago, when he was entombed in a block of ice? A cleaning woman had been vacuuming around him when she accidentally ran over one of his vital cords. In the immortal words of the New York Post: Ouch! Snafu tugs iceman's catheter

Bonds Watch

Yesterday I noted the huge sign Philly fans made special just for Barry Bonds. Galley Reader Z gives us the the link for the above image of it.

Just beautiful.

"Project Midway"

That was the not-very-subtle codename Microsoft gave to the first Xbox--and it wasn't referring to the maker of Mortal Kombat. You learn that and other goodies in Sam Kennedy's piece on Dean Takahashi's new book on the making of the Xbox 360. There are also excerpts from the book. Some highlights:
* Microsoft's third party team turned down Grand Theft Auto III for the original Xbox. Oops.

* Xbox 360 was codenamed Xenon.

* "Most of the executives who were in on the planning for Xenon didn't want the hard disk drive in the system. It had been the boat anchor of the original Xbox. The hard disks had started out costing Microsoft about $50 each for every Xbox, a cost that neither Sony nor Nintendo had to carry. It was an albatross."

* "Nintendo had the right to buy all of Rare, but it had to do so before an approaching deadline. The relationship with Nintendo wasn't a good one. Speculation about a split was rife when Rare sent out a Christmas card in December, 2000. On the card was a green Christmas tree with a black box underneath it. On the box was a green X. Once the Microsoft team saw that, they decided that Rare might be worth going after."

The overall picture is of a corporate structure which is incredibly inefficient. If Takahashi's book is anything to go by, Microsoft is going to have a hard time succeeding in industries where they don't have an insurmountable built-in advantage (or where they can simply bury a smaller competitor in money).

Monday, May 08, 2006

Cruisin' for a Bruisin'

All of last week I spent on a cruise ship for my friend's wedding. It was a destination wedding taking place in Bermuda but it also entailed being on a ship for the weeklong journey. We left from the beautiful Port of Philadelphia on Saturday and on Sunday hit some rough seas--going about 9 knots/hour and hitting 25-foot waves. Veteran seagoers (average age 75) told me it was the worst they'd ever experienced in all their years cruising. Great.

That Sunday, April 30, turned out to be the longest day of my life and certainly the most physically trying. It was like being on a plane undergoing turbulence for an entire day. Dishes were crashing, trays falling, cupboards opening--not to mention the barforama either in bags or on the floor. At 3am we hit a 35-footer that knocked our cabin's TV right off the shelf. (A loud crash had woken me up and the thought of a real-life Poseidon Adventure. And, by the way, no one onboard Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas even remotely resembled the cast from the remake.)

Some recommend taking Dramamine or Bonine before setting sail. Others recommend consuming ginger, ginger ale, and crackers. Still others will focus on the horizon. My recommendation: blackjack. There's nothing like the possibility of splitting aces to take your mind off of the whitecaps.

The End of Tom Cruise?

Here's the thing about Mission: Impossible 3: It's a pretty good movie. Well paced, good perfs, very taut, totally fun, and, like all good summer action movies, it shows you stuff you've never seen before. I mean come on, a helicopter chase through a wind farm? Paramount put $150M into this thing and every last cent is on the screen. This kind of movie, on a May weekend, does serious business, no matter who you put in it.

So if you cast a movie star and you open it on 4,054 screens, it should be a monster, right?

Well, maybe not. M:I3 opened to $48M over the weekend. Let's put this is some perspective:

As Brandon Gray notes, the first M:I opened to $45.4M 10 years ago ($67M in today's dollars); M:I2 opened to $57.8M ($70M adjusted). Look at the list of best May opening weekends and you see action movies like The Day After Tomorrow and The Mummy Returns and Van Helsing which starred, respectively, Dennis Quaid, Brendan Fraser, and Hugh Jackman.

I would suggest that if you plop just about any mid-level leading man into M:I3--think Josh Lucas or Matt Damon--it opens to about the same number. Place a different movie star in the Ethan Hunt role--maybe Will Smith or Russell Crowe--and it opens near the $68M that it should have grossed.

Which means this: Something has happened to Tom Cruise as a property.

Of course Cruise has been on a well-publicized crazy spree for the last year or so. But up until now it hadn't hurt his box office potential. War of the Worlds and Collateral did well. But this M:I3 thud is something else altogether. It means that Cruise is, at least right now, a liability for a picture.

This sort of reversal doesn't happen that often. Meg Ryan, Ben Affleck, and Jennifer Lopez are the only actors I can think of whose off-screen baggage has affected their commercial viability. There must be more.

It'll be interesting to see whether or not people around the project throw Cruise under the bus. And just wait for Michael Mann's The Few. Mann isn't a super-commercial director, but Cruise and Paula Wagner will have to push all their chips to the center of the table.

The Greatness of Philly Fans

I can't find a picture of it on the web, but the Philadelphia Inquirer splashed it across the entire top half of the front page of the Sunday sports section: It's a shot of Bonds standing in left field at Citizens Park on Saturday night. Behind him, Phillies fans have hung an enormous banner--it must be 50 feet long--which reads:
Ruth did it on hotdogs & Beer.

Had Bonds broken Babe's record that night, this banner would have been in all of the pictures, for forever. It's so hateful.

So perfect.

Update: Galley Friend J.E. emails this Bonds quote from the AP:
Bonds was peppered with insults from the Philadelphia fans during the weekend games.

Asked if it was hard to listen to the catcalls, Bonds said, "Dodgers Stadium is worse than here. This was nothing. LA beats them."

Touché, Barry. He knows how to hit Philly fans where it hurts.

Friday, May 05, 2006

For Santino

Bill Simmons gives us the first round wrap-up, and this gem:
Terrell Owens in the stands wearing a Kobe jersey. Too many jokes ... too many jokes ... head might explode ...

Also, this one:
Dirk Nowitzki. Simply annihilated Pau Gasol in their head-to-head matchup to clinch "Best Foreign Big Man Alive" honors, capped off by a Bird-like 3 to send Game 3 into overtime and pave the way for an eventual Dallas sweep. I like how he added that sneering, Detlef-like German swagger this season; it's pushed him to another level. You can almost imagine Hans Gruber yelling at him to go find John McLane in the Nakatomi building, followed by Dirk calmly saying, "I vill find him," and reloading a massive machine gun.

And finally, this:
Which reminds me, if Kobe doesn't completely eviscerate Bell in Game 7, everyone on the planet is banned from making any more Kobe-MJ comparisons. We all know that MJ would have dropped 55 on Bell, shut down Nash on the other end and disemboweled D'Antoni for good measure. Kobe, if you're going to steal MJ's fist clench/shake from Game 1 of the 1998 Finals without asking, you need to take this all the way. You cannot lose Game 7. You can't. Even if you're playing 4-on-5 and Jax keeps refusing to play Vujacic.

Don't Give a Hoot

Don't be fooled. Mike Russell says that the kids movie Hoot is a thoughtless endorsement of eco-terrorism:
Roy (Logan Lerman) transfers to a Florida middle school. For reasons explained far, far away from the script, he becomes obsessed with a barefoot kid named "Mullet Fingers" (Cody Linley). Soon, Roy is hanging out with Mullet and Mullet's stepsister (Brie Larson) as they engage in cute little acts of eco-terror to keep a pancake house from being erected over the nest-holes of endangered burrowing owls.

We're asked to root for these idiots as they pull up surveyor stakes, put a crocodile in an outhouse, spray-paint a patrol car, release cottonmouth snakes to scare off guard dogs, present false information during a hospital visit, flee the five-oh, vandalize bulldozers and assault the pancake-house CEO (Clark Gregg) -- a man so cartoonishly nasty, he makes these schmucks look like the good guys.

And then, like three-fourths of the way through the film, it occurs to the kids to dig up an environmental report and call an on-site press conference that the entire town gleefully attends. Which is maybe something the kids should have tried before unleashing the poisonous snakes, don'cha think? . . .

And, worst of all, no one really learns anything. The film's final scene finds Roy and Mullet looking at a sign announcing a condo construction site. Their eyes gleam wickedly. It's meant to be funny -- but I couldn't help thinking they were figuring out where to plant the pipe bombs.

Superman Returns

I was left a little cold by the second Superman trailer--why is it that when Supes is flying at 400 mph, his hair moves as if there's only a light breeze? And why is Kevin Spacey doing Lex Luthor as if he was K-Pax's evil brother? Shouldn't there be a no-camp mandate? And that scene with Lois, Perry, and Jimmy doing the "It's a bird" routine feels like a stilted rip-off of the wonderful J. Jonah Jameson office scenes from Spiderman 2.

All of that said, AICN has the first early review of Superman Returns, and it's quite positive, although for reasons I don't find particularly convincing. Still, we DC partisans must hope for the best.

If only Wolfgang Petersen had been allowed to make Superman vs. Batman. Well, a boy can dream.

Update: In the comments is a link to this extemely sophisticated fan-film trailer for Superman vs. Batman. In all honesty, I'm not so sure that the Singer-helmed Superman Returns trailer is more enticing.

Our First Black Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise is one of the great promoters of our time. Put him in a movie and he'll go anywhere, do anything, to plug it. He's even willing to show America how black he is.

No, seriuosly. Warm up with this picture of Tom and Kanye West doing a soul shake. And then, if you're ready, check out the video of Tom hopping onboard the Soul Train on BET.

No, I'm totally serious.


Dan McGlaughlin points us to this fantastic news: The original theatrical releases of the Star Wars trilogy are coming to DVD:
n response to overwhelming demand, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release attractively priced individual two-disc releases of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Each release includes the 2004 digitally remastered version of the movie and, as bonus material, the theatrical edition of the film. That means you'll be able to enjoy Star Wars as it first appeared in 1977, Empire in 1980, and Jedi in 1983.

This release will only be available for a limited time: from September 12th to December 31st. International release will follow on or about the same day. Each original theatrical version will feature Dolby 2.0 Surround sound, close-captioning, and subtitles in English, French and Spanish for their U.S. release. International sound and subtitling vary by territory.

Is this just George Lucas trying to squeeze every last dime out of the DVD format before the hi-def DVD takes over? Probably. But who cares.

Every Man a Walken

It would be easy to poke fun of this fellow, doing reenactments of movie scenes in his bedroom. But if you scroll down and check out his rendition of the Christopher Walken "War Watch" monologue from Pulp Fiction, it's totally charming and pretty good.

Welcome to the future of the internet. There'll be lots more of this as DV camera and YouTube grow.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

10 Worst Blockbusters of All Time Review

Pajiba has a pretty excellent list. On Meet the Fockers:
Meet the Fockers does have one thing going for it, however, but even that is empty consolation for most of us: If you relish the opportunity to see how far the mighty have fallen, Fockers offers it in spades. What does it say, after all, that Hoffman, De Niro, and Streisand (who have 18 Oscar nominations and six wins among them) are playing second fiddle to an actor whose most famous onscreen moment involved a wad of his own semen hanging from his ear?

MR. F!

Just a shout-out to my homies. Click on thumbnail #4 and it really is an AD moment.

Star Trek Prequel Casting?

JJV says:
Who should play "young Kirk"? I think it should be Toby McGuire as he can play an insufferable prig. However, Christian Haydenson would cause an equal explosion of Geek Love and also replicate Shatneresk acting chops. To be both young Darth Vader, and young Kirk is to enter a realm where plus 5 Vorpal blades fail to even shave a man.

The Big Edit

In the course of an otherwise unremarkable interview about Poseidon, Wolfgang Petersen gives this fun tidbit:
WOLFGANG PETERSEN: I like post-production, but always my favorite is shooting the movie. I mean, the shoot is so... high adrenaline! I love that! I love that very much. In post-production... this time was especially interesting and enjoyable for me because, with my editor, we figured out a new system how to cut the film by pure luck. One of our rooms in our old editing facilities was an old editing room that was not used anymore. They used it just for storage. The editor came up with the idea to clean the whole room up and turn it back into a screening room with a 2k digital projector connected to Avid, which he put in the screening room, to be projected.
So, whatever he cut was, right away, up on the big screen. He could see it on his small monitor and I could see it on the big screen. Whatever he did. So, I could cut the film on the big screen.

We're a long way from the days of marking individual cells and splicing film.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Pandora's Box

I’ve been listening to after reading Terry Teachout’s ecstatic review of this web-radio service. Pandora chooses songs according to your own stated preferences. As in: I say I like Billie Holiday. Next thing I know, my personalized radio list is playing Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughn, and Ella. The whole thing’s impressive, a sophisticated step up from the recommending services of, say, Netflix or Amazon. Where I have a complaint, however, is in its new music selection.

Extrapolating from Billie Holiday is easy. The low-quality wannabes of that era have all been forgotten. Extrapolating from the new Scottish punk band Sons and Daughters is harder. Why? Because I’ve already selected Sons and Daughters out of a universe of newish punk bands that, to a great extent, I know I don’t like. Those other bands are similar, but not as good. Everyone else seems a little short on adrenaline after your hear Sons and Daughters. When I feel like Sons and Daughters, I’m not in the mood for lower-proof punk, or less witty lyrics, or less pounding rhythm, or different vocals.

The underlying problem seems to result from Pandora’s otherwise admirable research on the musical qualities of songs. Right now, it’s playing a good song by a newer artist I’ve never heard of: “Destinymanifesto” by Logh. The reason Pandora chose Logh’s nice little tune is that other artists I’ve chosen tend to music that has “mild rhythmic syncopation, mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation, and major key tonality.”

But it’s not simply a matter of musical qualities that determine my own musical preferences. It’s a matter of my own perception of music quality. Just because I like Iron and Wine doesn’t mean I’m interested in every mumbly, slow, poetic, acoustic, folky storyteller out there.

I concede that this is the process of discovery in a nutshell: You hear new things and choose among them. And I am certainly hearing more new stuff from Pandora than I expected to. Its predictive logic, however, seems a few notes short of a song.

Still, I give it a B+. (For comparison’s sake, I would give Amazon only a C.)

Welcome to the Future

Forget the podcast, here's a video-game review show run by a group of three young men of indeterminate age (and their female friend Melissa, who sports a plunging neckline and says, to the certain joy of all connected with the show, "pounding meat").

This is 25 minutes long, but you can fast forward at will. And really, it's the most priceless thing you've seen all week. A cooking game? A game where you play bongo drums? A "Nintendo Is Awesome" t-shirt? A guy dressed up like Spider-Man to review "Ultimate Spider-Man"?


The Rise of Ultimate Fighting

Surely this news says something about the culture:
NEW YORK, NY, May 1, 2006 – The fourth episode of Spike TV’s hit series, The Ultimate Fighter 3®, out delivered more men in the hard-to-reach demographic of M 18-34 than the combination of the NBA Playoffs on TNT, the NHL Playoffs on OLN, and a marquee MLB match-up between the Red Sox and Indians on Thursday, April 27. The Spike TV telecast drew 799,000 Men 18-34 while the three combined telecasts drew 725,000.

More Gilmore

Galley Friend M.Y. sends us the link to's lengthy exit interview with Mr. and Mrs. Amy Sherman-Palladino.

You don't see people talking out of school like this very often.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

NFL Draft Post-Mortem

I'm no expert on the draft, but Cowboy-Lovin' Galley Friend L.B. is. And he thinks the Eagles did well:
t pains me to say it, but the Eagles had another really good draft. They got the 2nd best DT (and probably the best one who isn't a mammoth 350-lb nose guard type) in Bunkley . . . Winston Justice was a steal in the 2nd round ... Gocong is a guy who did nothing but pile up sacks as a Div. I-AA defensive end; a lot of the 3-4 defense teams had him targeted as a guy who they would move to OLB in the 3-4. Not sure how he fits in Philly's defense but he's supposed to be a real player. In the 4th round, OG Max Jean-Gilles was another steal IMO (most of what I had read projected him as a 2nd or at worst 3rd round pick), a real road-grader-type run blocker. B/w Justice and this guy, the Eagles really shored up their O-line . . . Jason Avant is a great get in the 4th round at WR. He's not a burner at all, but he's tough and fearless, plays physical and has great hands to make the tough catches. He played in Braylon Edwards's shadow most of his time at U-M, but last year was finally the #1 receiver and had a great season. He'll be a solid possession-type receiver for McNabb . . . Jeremy Bloom could be a Tim-Dwight type return guy--a nice late-round pick.

Galley Brother B.J. is less sanguine about the Birds, but has thoughts on the rest of the draft:

(1) The Texans got Mamula’d. They fell in love with Mario Williams’s size/athletic ability to the point that they didn’t care that his college career was based around 3–4 sack games against bad teams. The highlight package ESPN showed of him after was drafted just showed him beating the same defensive tackle 4 times.

(2)Reggie Bush’s first game will be a Monday Night Football game, which is also the first MNF game on ESPN. Did ESPN bribe Houston to not take Bush?

(3) Is it too early to start referring to Vince Young as Akili II?

(4) Jay Cutler: You couldn’t pick him out of a line up of 1. He’s the male equivalent of Ann from Arrested Developemnt.

(5) Matt Lienert fell to a team with a Pro-Bowl running back, 2 really good young WR’s, a QB that has about a 7% chance of making it through the season healthy--and a team that plays in a division with the 49ers and Rams. Am I the only one that sees him having a ROY type season by coming off the bench in week 6 when Warner goes down and the Cards are 2-4, then leading the Cards to an 8-8 record falling 1 game short of the playoffs?

(6) Packers FB Henderson: Fantastic interview and analysis (aside from the part where he messed up the name of his team). Well spoken, well organized thoughts, interesting points, could back up everything he says. In short, someone who would make a fantastic in-studio guy. Has zero chance of getting a job with ESPN.

(7) Ray Lewis’s interview: Loud, crazy, and incoherent. He’ll have his own show on ESPN--plus, regular appearances on Sportcenter--the moment he retires.

Trailer City

For your viewing pleasure:

The fourth TV spot for X-Men 3--clearly the best trailer they've put together yet.

The second trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean 2.

The first clips of Casino Royale.

Update: Blog Crush has a better Pirates link here.

Monday, May 01, 2006

You Know You're Old When . . .

the movies being remade are beloved films from your childhood.

Really, Clash of the Titans? Hera help us. How I loved Judi Bowker.

Battle of the Stars

One last follow up to the discussion of the greatness of Tom Hanks: In the comments it was suggested that classic stars such as Bogart or John Wayne may have had strings of box office success equal or greater to that of Hanks.

Unfortunately, Box Office Mojo only dips back so far. It doesn't track data for Wayne or Bogart--or even Paul Newman, whom I had thought might be in a similar class with Hanks.

Second, even if we had the data for the classic stars, I don't think it would be fair to compare them to contemporary stars because working in the studio system they had little-to-no control over the projects they worked on. If Sam Goldwyn told Bogart to star in Movie X, Bogie had to do it, no matter how good or bad the project was. After the studio system broke down, stars became increasingly involved in production to the point where a fellow like Hanks not only chooses what movies he'll star in, but in some cases will choose whether or not a given movie even gets made. All of which is to say that if Bogart or John Wayne didn't have streaks like the one Hanks is on, it wouldn't necessarily be their fault.

That said, when you're talking about whatever the stuff is that makes a "movie star," it's pretty clear that Bogart, Wayne, Cary Grant, and Spencer Tracy had "it" in such copious amounts as to be completely unimaginable today. Nobody--not Tom Hanks, not Robert De Niro, not Russell Crowe--has the type of stuff they had. We just don't make stars like that anymore.

United 93 Wrap-Up

After much speculating, we now have the results--and they aren't good for New Line and United 93. Forget that the movie finished the weekend with only $11.6M; forget that it debuted in third place against very weak competition with no genre overlap. Here's the most damning stat:
United 93 per theater avg. $6,465
Stick It per theater avg. $5,522

Stick It, you'll recall is the gymnastics version of Bring It On, only without Kirsten Dunst or the advertising support.

After trying all last week to find a model for United 93, Brandon Gray now notes that it did perform very much like a recent release: Syriana.

This isn't a disaster for New Line--United 93 will probably wind up with a solid gross, particularly considered next to its $15M budget. But it does suggest that audiences, for the most part, had little desire to revisit this story. We'll see in August with Oliver Stone's World Trade Center whether or not that attitude extends to all things 9/11.