Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nobody does him better

If you happen to find yourself in Moscow and in need of a rental car, don't rent a Porsche, even if it's cheap (I assume it's not). According to the Daily Mail, approximately fifty Porsches were stolen last year within the Russian capital. The article's main focus, however, was on the death of Anna Loginova, "Russia's most famous female bodyguard," who was killed when carjackers got hold of her Cayenne [though the Mail calls it a Cheyenne]. Loginova, an expert in jujitsu, died from head injuries while holding onto her SUV as it sped away.

As of now, authorities believe the incident was random and not a hit. As the Mail explains, "Loginova ran an agency for female bodyguards, some trained by the ex-KGB, to give discreet protection to Moscow's billionaires and their wives and mistresses. In a recent magazine interview, she insisted that she and her team of glamorous bodyguards gave better protection than the more traditional beefy male security men."

"In addition," said Loginova, "many restaurants now do not allow a guard inside. They can come in and check everything but then they are asked to wait in the lobby. In contrast, you can take female bodyguards inside, she will sit down at the table and nobody would guess that she's a weapon herself--and can react appropriately in any dangerous situation."

But could Loginova have been bumped off by a competitor? There is certainly that distinct possibility. So the question is who would benefit the most and the answer is clear. She is surrounded by her own female bodyguards and lives on a floating palace in India.

And her name is Octopussy.

Starbucks Watch

I've long been fascinated by Starbucks because they managed to sell America not on a product, but on a miniature lifestyle. They called "third place," but I think of it more as the old office water cooler. Suburban Starbucks have their own logic, but in cities, Starbucks has replaced the water cooler as the place employees go to hang out for 10 minutes while taking a break. And they pay $4 to do.

The problem with selling a lifestyle and not a product is that "lifestyle" is even easier for competitors to duplicate. If you've been following the news for the last couple months, Starbucks is in a panic because first Dunkin Donuts and now McDonalds are coming after it.

Starbucks' first move to fight back is axing their inedible breakfast sandwiches. (Actually, their pre-first move was to launch a test program in Seattle with $1 coffee and free refills.)

Seems like a smart decision to me. The sandwiches were outside the company's core competency and didn't really fit with what they were selling. Starbucks was never going to be a place people go to for nutritional sustinence.

Expect to see more big changes.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Remember Sean Young?

I used to be a fan of the actress Sean Young. I thought she was perfectly hot and slightly bothered in No Way Out and did just fine in Stripes and Dune. And then she went slightly off-kilter. (Ask James Woods.)

But I seem to have missed this juicy tidbit from the recent DGA awards, as reported by the Associated Press:

LOS ANGELES--Sean Young has entered rehabilitation for alcohol abuse following a weekend outburst in which she was heckling from the audience at the Directors Guild of America awards.

The 48-year-old actress was escorted from the ballroom at the Hyatt Regency in Century City Saturday night after sparring with Julian Schnabel, who was nominated for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly."

"Actress Sean Young voluntarily admitted herself yesterday to a rehabilitation center for treatment related to alcoholism," a statement from Insignia PR said Tuesday. "It is understood that Young has struggled against the disease for many years."

At the DGAs, all of the film nominees get a chance to say a few words before the top prize is announced. Schnabel, in his trademark yellow-tinted glasses, was a bit slow to start, looking down at the podium and running his hands through his wild, curly hair.

That's when Young could be heard throughout the room urging him to get on with it. Apparently rattled, Schnabel scanned the room and asked who said that, then spotted Young and suggested that she "have another cocktail."

Then he suggested that she should finish his speech for him and started walking off the stage. Music began playing for his exit, but the audience urged him to stay and keep speaking, and he did. Young, meanwhile, was removed from the ballroom.

A call seeking comment from the Directors Guild was not immediately returned....

Young made her name in the 1980s with films like "Stripes," "Blade Runner" and "No Way Out." But she's become more famous for some of her more bizarre behavior, including dressing up in a homemade cat suit in her quest to secure the role of Catwoman in the 1992 sequel "Batman Returns," which went to Michelle Pfeiffer.

She also tried to crash the Vanity Fair Oscar party in 2006.

"It was degrading," she said in an Entertainment Weekly article last year. "But when you have nothing to lose, it's really not that big of a deal."

The Greatest Blog of All-Time?

Probably. First Things has Cardinal Dulles posting a parody of Keats.

Suddenly, I feel like the entire promise of the internet has been fulfilled.

KSK Does Perfection

It's subtle, but you'll laugh a lot.

Winnie Cooper Hotness

WIMB has the devastating pic.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Just to tidy up a few things:

* In regards to the post about former-WWE wrestler Gangrel moving into porn alert GS Reader A.W. notes that Marcus "Buff" Bagwell may have been the first to do so. Obsessed With Wrestling says that he did some soft-core work, but doesn't give any citations. IMDB has him in two direct-to-video T&A flicks, one of which is called L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies: Return to Savage Beach.

* After seeing the Tom Cruise as Batman item, GS Reader P.G. wrote in with this observation:

I watched the Cruise video and came away extremely depressed to learn that Frank Mackey was not an act or a character at all, he was “Tom Cruise: Scientologist”. The greatest performance in Cruise’s career was just him being himself.

It’s like the world is flipped upside down. Frank Mackey is no longer a brilliant performance, and every Cruise character that is halfway normal should now be considered for an oscar retroactively. Clearly the guy is batshit insane, any character he plays on screen that comes across as normal should be taught in a master class on acting.

So true. I've always said that Cruise was an under-rated actor.

* Finally, Galley Brother B.J. has Super Bowl thoughts:

Pats vs. Giants: I’m pulling for a meteor. Actually, that’s not true, I’m pulling for a meteorite. I know, I know--think of the collateral damage. But that’s the beauty of the game being in Arizona: There won’t be any. Arizona before meteorite--barren wasteland/desert. Arizona after meteorite--barren wasteland/desert with a big hole in it. (Maybe, Arizona Tourism Board could attract plug it as the “New Grand Canyon.”)

I really can’t choose a team to root for, though. So instead, I'm pulling for Eli to have a historic performance (either 10 TDs & no picks or 5 first have Ints) because I think that would be fantastic.

* 10 TD game--Imagine Eli’s MVP speech: “Hey, Tiki, who’s soft now?” “Look dad, I already have as many Superbowl rings as Peyton, now do you love me?”

* 5 first half Ints--Giants first play of the 2nd half “Eli drops back, throws, & misses his receiver. Let’s look at the replay, wait something’s happening--Eli’s wandering around on the field taking off his uniform & pads, and I think, yes, it looks like he’s crying.”

Bank Run!

The Journal has a great piece on the crash of banks inside Second Life.

HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray (cont.)

Is this the end of the road for HD DVD?

These are the numbers for stand-alone player sales for the holiday season and, amazingly, Blu-Ray scored a crushing victory here. It's pretty astounding.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Art and Porn

Nathaniel Peters has a sterling post on the subject over at the First Things blog. Can't recommend it enough.

Celebrity Pickkake

Deep down inside I desperately want to write up a Super Bowl celebrity Pickkake starring Matt Damon. Or Barney Frank. Or maybe even Mary Kate Olsen.

But that's obviously a no-go because KSK is writing at a level that's just scary. I'll say it again: Why can't these guys have a show on HBO?

Here's Michael Cera's Super Bowl picks. Here's Stephen Hawking. Here's Obama.

So hot.

The Story of the iPhone

Galley Friend S.B. now has an iPhone and after tinkering with it for 10 minutes, I've been transformed from nauseated skeptic to total true believer. I want need one.

Not that you care, of course. But what you might very much care about is this outstanding Wired story on how the iPhone came to be. It's filled with great stuff like this:

Through it all, Jobs maintained the highest level of secrecy. Internally, the project was known as P2, short for Purple 2 (the abandoned iPod phone was called Purple 1). Teams were split up and scattered across Apple's Cupertino, California, campus. Whenever Apple executives traveled to Cingular, they registered as employees of Infineon, the company Apple was using to make the phone's transmitter. Even the iPhone's hardware and software teams were kept apart: Hardware engineers worked on circuitry that was loaded with fake software, while software engineers worked off circuit boards sitting in wooden boxes. By January 2007, when Jobs announced the iPhone at Macworld, only 30 or so of the most senior people on the project had seen it.

I'd like to think that the CIA is capable of doing a project with such rigidly compartmentalized security.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sex in Advertising

Not to be a ninny (although using the word "ninny" automatically makes me one), but I'm a little struck by two recent examples of sex in advertising.

The first, from a series of Las Vegas billboards advertising the Asian-themed club/bar/restaurant Tao, was the slogan "A happy ending every time."

The second, from a Prince sponsorship tagline on the Tennis Channel is "Show us your O-face." In their defense, their "O" design that eliminates grommets is a big deal in racket technology right now.

But still. I'm all for sex in advertising so long as it's a slinky Nick Lachey smirking, shirtless, at the camera.

But those sorts of slogans strike me as a bit over the line.


You probably already knew this, but it seems that Cloverfield is about The Freedom:

The movie begins by showing us that its heart is in the right place. The hero, when we first see him, has sex with his fantastically beautiful girlfriend in an apartment overlooking Central Park in New York. Then the story moves to a party where everyone is drinking in celebration of him getting a huge raise and a promotion.

It is from this that we know that economic success and fucking are at the core of this film. I believe this is what is meant when people refer to a “family values” movie. Certainly no one could deny that these are both integral to the promotion and experience of The Freedom.

As Ayn Rand herself explained, men can be like animals, both in the bedroom and in the boardroom (a phrase she actually invented). Unfortunately, none of the characters smoke or take heroin. This is a mistake that I am confident will be rectified in future editions, thanks to modern advances in CGI.

Speaking of Ayn Rand, it is upon her whom we rely to understand the rest of the film. Rand gave us instructions to love big cities, for collections of giant steel buildings in close proximity surrounded by trash and poor homeless wretches are not only beautiful, but great, inspiring, and powerful symbols of The Freedom.

Thanks to this knowledge, we can see that the entire city of New York is a metaphor for human greatness. In other words, The Freedom made physical, ie: economic success and fucking.

So when a monster, called Cloverfield, starts to destroy the city, it makes the viewer weep with sadness. The monster makes trouble and rubble, like Stalin but with green skin and a tail, and the entire time it is destroying, the tragedy is almost overwhelming.

HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray (cont.)

When depressed HD DVD partisans ask me why I'm quixotically still open to the idea that HD DVD could last as a medium after the very bad Warner Bros. news, I point to stories like this which highlight Sony's nearly limitless power to screw things up:

The PlayStation 3 is the only system currently available that can be upgraded to use all of the Blu-ray features planned for future release, leaving early adopters of other players in a no-win situation.

The future-proofed PS3, which is one of the cheapest existing Blu-ray players on the market, features inbuilt hardware and online access that enables users to upgrade the system’s Blu-ray capabilities as time goes by.

However, owners of other Blu-ray DVD players may find themselves unable to enjoy future developments in the technology because their machines are not upgradeable, reports the BBC.

The problem appears to have arisen because, unlike the HD-DVD camp, Blu-ray backers failed to devise a concrete standard relating to system requirements for the platform upon its launch. This meant that it wasn’t mandatory to include internet functionality in players which would allow users to download firmware upgrades and access newly released features.

Philips’ Frank Simonis, who is European chairman of the Blu-ray Disc Association, acknowledges that it is "not an ideal situation", although he suggested that high definition playback itself, as opposed to extra features, is the most important thing to Blu-ray shoppers.

Oops. I'm on my third generation of firmware for my HD DVD player and I've had it less than six months. The discs just come to me in the mail, although I could download them and burn a disc myself if I wanted to. Or just plug an ethernet cable into the machine. Couldn't be easier.

I haven't seen the Christmas sales numbers yet, but I'll be interested to see what they look like.


Galley Brother B.J. has actually sat through the entire Tom Cruise Scientology tape and has a very astute observation:

I swear he lifted part of it from a Batman script:

“I’d like the world to be different. I’d like go on vacations, but I can’t.”

I take the Dark Knight over Xenu in a heartbeat.

Wrestling, Porn, etc.

Because after coming back from Vegas, that's the first thing that comes to mind. The WWE's Gangrel is now directing porn.

What's shocking is that he's first wrestler (that I know of) to make the all-too-logical jump.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Justice League News

Variety is reporting that Warners has pulled the plug on its desecration version of Justice League of America, at least for now.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hanging Up Her . . .

Jenna Jameson is retired?

Why wasn't this bigger news?

Tom Cruise Talks Scientology

Defamer has unbelievable Cruise-Xenu recruitement video.

You can't believe it. This is the type of thing that can blow up a career.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Freedom. And . . . stuff.

Was just tipped off to this very excellent post by someone named "FilmLiker" at the libertarian blog "Freedom and Shit." Oh, I know what you're thinking, but you're wrong. This is pure awesomeness:

Libertarians love science fiction, and science fiction movies. So needless to say, this was a big week for them. Not only was it the grand finale to the annual Official U.S. Buy Lots of Shit to Help the Economy Season, it was also the release of Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.

I think it’s safe to assume that everyone who views the world through a basic Millian framework, ie: all F&S readers, knows that the Alien movies and the first two Predator movies were the epitome of uber-awesome. Even beyond the obvious libertarian themes, you had essential elements for awesome: 1) cool looking alien monsters 2) explosions 3) death 4) people kicking ass 5) technology that was amazing and saved everything (as technology eventually will).

The movies were also good metaphors, with many robust ideas about liberty, which is why they had such a big impact on the Culture. Many people say that Alien was about The Feminism. Because the alien was a big penis, basically, and because the badass chick Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, killed it in the end. Also, because all the men died. The Feminism is a friend to The Freedom, in theory anyway, so I think this sounds OK.

It is also accurate to argue that the aliens represented communism, socialism, and all forms of pernicious collectivism. They were all the same, a “hive mind,” they call it, and they did not have individuality. Ripley loved The Freedom, and thus she opposed these things. In the end, like Ronald Reagan, she triumphed.

What am I saying, is that Gorbachev was an alien, basically. But with extra chins instead of extra mouths.

There's more, and it gets even better.

WGA Strike, Update

Via WIMB, comes this great story: NBC entertainment prexy Ben Silver complained to Ryan Seacrest that he's really pissed at the Golden Globes being canceled. Said Silverman, "Sadly, it feels like the nerdiest, ugliest, meanest kids in the high school are trying to cancel the prom. But NBC wants to try to keep that prom alive."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

KSK Gone Wild

I'm out of pocket for six days and KSK decides to have perhaps their best week ever.

First, they explore the greatest What If . . . story in football history.

Then, they do some fine pimp talk.

But the best is this Emo Eagles Fan Diary, which very nearly put me on the floor:

mood: pensive :|

I was fishing around for updates on Samantha's deviantART and Facebook pages, listening to Belle & Sebastian's "Is It Wicked Not to Care" when Phil shoots me over this link on McNabb wanting the Eagles to load up in the offseason.

Now there's something I can get behind. But I think I understand the underlying uneasiness in his words. He writes about players feeling replaced if they bring in newer marquee ones, no doubt tapping into his own anxieties with a hard-charging young quarterback waiting in the wings.

I was plagued with similar pangs for months once Samantha started hanging around that Mathias guy. Sure, they were only classmates in some night school classes she was taking, but they recently spent a Saturday afternoon at the Magritte exhibit downtown. She knows I like Magritte. Guys in bowler hats and pipes! Sheer absurdity. Then just the other day, I see a heavy detailed oil portrait of his cock on her deviantART page.

Don't know if I should start to be worried.

Samantha doesn't like to watch sports, meaning I have to be kind of furtive about my fandom. Every time it comes up in passing, I get the rundown about how it's androcentric and heteronormative. Sure, I say - hoping to look those up later - but aren't most things? Then she lays the whole "football causes domestic abuse" line on me. What am I supposed to say to that? Boom Bitch? Haha. Kidding, of course. Can't believe I just wrote that.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Quick Political Aside

I'm in New Hampshire writing about political stuff and was at the debates last night. There were hundreds of journalists cooped up in a giant gym to watch the debates on big-screen TVs, because press wasn't allowed in the actual debate hall.

Just one observation: There were not a few Big Famous Journalists who spent nearly all of the four hours walking around, talking, hanging out, surfing the web, reading blogs, etc. I won't name names, because maybe they were only there for the scene, and not to do any actual reporting.

But seated in front of me was another Big Famous Journalist: Mort Kondracke. He spent the entire evening watching the debates carefully and taking notes by hand on a reporter's pad. That's about 17 shades of awesome.

What a total stud.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Friday, January 04, 2008


Galley Friend B.W. sends us this excellent list of things that happened in 2007 that shouldn't have.

Also, I'm dimly aware that some studio committed to Blu-Ray today, but I don't know who or what and I'm worried that it will involve The Dark Knight.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Lesbian. Incest. Discuss.

How much would you pay to see Penelope Cruz making out with her equally hot sister? Well that's a question you don't have to answer.

Because it's actually free.

Someone should get a team of scientists and ethicists and philosophers on this, pronto.

(Cue Dr. Ellie Arroway: "They should have sent a poet . . .")

WGA Strike, Update

Galley Hero Elizabeth Hackett returns to her journalism roots to write this strike-related piece for Pajamas Media. It's frackin' awesome:

Fade in. Ext. Paramount Pictures – Day.

Like any memorable Act Three plot twist, we never saw it coming. As Hollywood writing partners who have collaborated on nine scripts together over the past five years, we’re forced to spend a lot of time together. Like hostages without a bank robbery. As a result, we can talk about anything for hours. And we mean anything. Not just movie ideas. We once had a full five-minute debate about how burned a piece of toast would have to be before neither one of us would eat it. We’ve weathered the ups and downs of show business, but after nearly two months on the WGA picket line and sixty-plus hours of walking in a circle together, the unthinkable happened: we ran out of conversation. We trudged silently, unsure where to go from here.

Long ago, on Day One of the strike, we chose Paramount as our picketing location. (Nothing personal, Paramount. You’re a closer commute. And you have free parking.) Sure, we were worried about being unemployed and broke, but we support our union and as comedy writers, we’d “find the funny” in picketing. When life hands you a lemon, peel off a twist, plop it into your martini, and look at the upside (the martini helps here). We’d absorb some fresh air and Vitamin D instead of sitting behind a computer all day. We’d meet single men (the WGA is 70-something% male, after all). We’d rub elbows with A-list writers, dazzling Aaron Sorkin with off-the-cuff improvised rants like “We won’t stop screamin’ til you pay us for streamin’!” and soothing our aching feet at post-picket pedicures with Susannah Grant.

Or, at the very least, get a wacky Christmas card picture out of it.

We must confess something. We dressed up for our first 10-2 PM shift. No jeans or oversized red WGA XXL T-shirts for us. If we hoped to romantically tangle picket signs in a meet-cute with the single male creator of a hit syndicated TV show (insert title card: “Love on the Line”), then makeup and an attractive ensemble were in order. One of us even wore boots.

This plan got a major rewrite ten minutes after we signed in. . . .

The Dog That Didn't Bark

Not that you care--because really, this isn't going to change your life in the least bit--but posting will be very thin the next week or so while I do some work for a much better blog.

That said, Variety has a neat piece up about the ten biggest things that didn't happen in 2007 in the entertainment industry. Very good stuff.
Happy New Year. Just a few thoughts on things I heard and saw during the Christmas holiday:

On an interminable drive to Connecticut (a mere eight and a half hours from DC), I popped in a new CD entitled Frank Sinatra: The Christmas Collection, which certainly has its share of classics, including a few duets with Bing Crosby. On the other hand, there were a handful of tracks (clearly from the later years) worth skipping, namely "Christmas Memories," "An Old Fashioned Christmas," "A Baby Just Like You" (perhaps one of the worst), "Whatever Happened to Christmas?" and anything involving Nancy and Frank Jr. (such as "The Twelve Days of Christmas"). I got it at a discount but yet again, the case for iTunes has been made.

I also came across the Hallmark Channel's A Grandpa for Christmas starring Ernest Borgnine. The movie, about a grandfather trying to reconnect with his family, seemed to be more of a pitstop for the once-famous: Besides Borgnine, there was Jamie Farr, Katherine Helmond, Richard Libertini, and even Tracy Nelson (who looked better as a young nun). For the record, my father-in-law had possession of the remote control and that's why I watched it to the bitter end. And no, there was something in my eye that caused me to tear.

On the other hand, my father-in-law's recommendation we watch Foyle's War turned out to be excellent. Starring Michael Kitchen as a British detective solving mysteries on the homefront during WWII, the series is a slow-churning but rewarding crime drama with each episode more than an hour long.

And finally, there were the Kennedy Center honors, which were largely enjoyable to watch (particularly De Niro's tribute to Scorsese, Ricky Jay performing just one card trick for Steve Martin, Steve Carell's remarks, and all of the Leon Fleisher segment). But then came the homage to Brian Wilson. Strangely, none of the other Beach Boys were in attendance. Wilson himself does not look well and showed little emotion throughout. I understand the man suffered terrible bouts of depression and is better now, but I truly feared he would leap off the president's box when the band paying tribute to his songs turned out to be none other than Hootie and the Blowfish.

Why Hootie and the Blowfish? God only knows.