Friday, March 31, 2006

Did Someone Say "Wonder"?

It turns out that there is a real Magic Castle and a fellow, John George--International Champion of Magic, who looks an awful lot like Tony Wonder. If you can sit through the long site loads, his page is a blast.

In particular, note the page for "Mentalism":
Many people claim that John George has read their minds, telling them thoughts he couldn’t possibly know. There are also claims that John can move, break, and bend items using only the power of his mind.

Even better is the page "for Magicians only":
If you are a magician and you're interested in John George's instructional video. Or you would like to hear John George lecture. Answer the following log-in questions:

Who was the Professor?

Who was Eric Weiss?

I have to think the Alliance is going to frown on this.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

That's Kayfabe

The Iron Sheik is still very worked up over his WrestleMania III match with B. Brian Blair (of the Killer Bees, natch):
I break his back, make him humble, and then fuck him in ass.

Note the Kurt Angle shirt and the championship belt he's carrying.

So hot.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

You Can Ride the Ole Brokeback!

Courtesy of Galley Sister MAL is this Reuters report that the pickup truck from Brokeback Mountain is up for sale:
"We're actually taking the truck and marketing it. Young people want to play at being characters ... they're going to want to drive that truck ... it's the ultimate way to play the game."

Ummm, what game would that be?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Army had half-a-day!

Boy gets caught in toy-filled 'claw' machine.

Adventures in Screenwriting

Scott the Reader has this fantastic example of voiceover run amok:
The following is an example from a particularly pretentious, superficial script I read last night (submitted to a prodco from a producer).

To set the context, Jasmine (the name has been changed) is working as a Parisian escort, though she doesn't actually seem to have needed to sleep with anyone. Sexy Marcus, who has hired her, suspects her amateur status. She wishes she had met him under different circumstances.

He unveiled a feeling within me I hadn't
discovered, I hadn't known. I soon felt a
vacuum of uncertainty emerge like a storm
causing me to question where I stood within
my own gamut of truth and lies.

Italics the author's.

Headache the reader's.

"A man who has words for everything and nothing but words."

That was Leon Wieseltier's so-hot-you-need-a-cigarette summation of John Updike. It also applies--only in a really good way--to Josh Friedman, who's back with this awesome post.

I beg of you: Read it in its entirety. The payoff justifies every syllable of the build-up.

Oprah vs. Tom Cruise is running this very funny ad on Drudge. Worth sitting through the Basic Instinct 2 ad.


Mitchell Hurwitz is done:
"The fans have been so ardent in their devotion and in return . . . I've given everything I can to the show in order to try to live up to their expectations," Hurwitz told Daily Variety on Monday in a telephone interview from Gotham. "I finally reached a point where I felt I couldn't continue to deliver that on a weekly basis."

Nonetheless, Hurwitz said he put off making a final decision on his involvement so Showtime and 20th could talk about a possible deal.

"Of course, if there was enough money in it, I would have happily abandoned the fans' need for quality. But as it turns out, there wasn't," he said.

I love understand more than he'll . . . never-know.

Monday, March 27, 2006

But He's Huge in Germany

Bad news for Mitch:
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- A judge has issued a temporary restraining order requiring David Hasselhoff to stay away from his estranged wife, according to court papers unsealed this week.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark A. Juhas signed the order March 6 ordering the former "Baywatch" star to stay at least 100 yards from actress Pamela Bach except for "peaceful contacts related to court ordered visitation" of one their two teenage daughters.

Cinderella Story

Michael Wilbon has a pretty good piece on the GMU-UConn upset, with this great moment:
Of all the people in the building, including Larranaga, Calhoun probably had a better handle than anybody on what George Mason has accomplished in getting to the Final Four. Calhoun, in defeat, was almost proud of George Mason, mostly because Calhoun coached at Northeastern for 14 years, which coincidentally is a Colonial Athletic Association colleague of George Mason.

"I can only imagine, and probably better than most, the feeling they must have on that campus and in that locker room," Calhoun said. "Those kids, many of whom were passed over by the Big East schools and others . . . I tip my hat to their conviction, to staying with what they have, to the incredible coaching job that [Larranaga] did. I feel a great deal of inner joy, honestly, about what they must be going through right now, something they probably never could have imagined. We have imagined it, and we've done it. But they could never have imagined that."

This has to be one of the great sports upsets in modern history. What else even comes close?

NC State beats Houston? Maybe. It was a title game, which makes it a bigger stage; but the Wolfpack was an ACC school.

Jets beat Indy? No way. They're both professional teams. At the professional level, any team should have at least a theoretical chance at beating any other. I don't know that that's true at the individual level. Which brings us to . . .

Buster Douglas beats Mike Tyson? Maybe. As they noted on ESPN this morning, Tyson has become such a clown that it's hard to remember that before Douglas knocked him out, we all assumed he would be heavyweight champion of the world for years and years and years. He was invincible.

Villanova beats Georgetown? My pick, if only because of what Villanova had to do to win that game. Remember, if Nova had shot only 75% from the field for the night, they would have lost! They shot 78.6% from the freakin' floor. And the game was still whisker-close. And it was a title game. That's pretty hard to top.

Red Sox beat Yankees? I include this in the discussion only because the Sox were down 0 games to 3 and no matter how evenly matched the two teams were, a 4-game comeback had never been done before. That's enough to put it on the short list.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Michael Bay Blog--Is Back!

Well, not all the way back, but the Wayback Machine has a small offering of the genius here, with classics like:
LOTR: ROTK: This is being considered as the prime contender, so I watched this at Hef’s cause it’s nice to see something like this on the big screen. And for a film that is incredibly faggoty, I thought it was pretty good. I mean watching this reminded me of when I spent my younger days working on model cars, shooting stuff on 16mm with friends, and beating up on the D&D nerds. A while back Will Smith sent me this clip, I doubt any of you would have seen it, where these kids were acting out D&D for real, one kid was saying stuff like “Thunder Bolt, Thunder Bolt.” Sometimes when we were on set on BBII (Best Visual and Sound effects Oscars? Hello?), he would start throwing things at Martin and saying that. Always got me laughing. Anyway for a film that’s totally about fairies, dwarves, and gay ass spandex, I thought it was well done, but Viggo should have beheaded at least three more people. Then he would been more heroic. But I thought it was smart how Jackson (who always looks homeless when in photos, and have you seen his wife… Dude you’re rich and famous now, I’ve been balls deep in Miranda Otto and you haven’t? Still, nice to know I didn’t get his sloppy seconds) gave the film so much girl power.

The only problem is that the archive is incomplete. If anyone out there has a remedy--or a bootlegged copy of the blog archive, I'd be indebted.

Quick Change

If you've ever seen the Quick Change act at an NBA game, you'll particularly appreciate this Brendan Koerner piece in Slate.

The Secret Cirque

Mike Russell goes behind the scenes at Cirque du Soleil--everything you always wanted to know about it.

A Trick Is Something a Whore Does for Money

Or candy! You knew that already. But did you know that GOB Bluth did the voiceover for GM and T. Rowe Price?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

End of an Era

Sony has just stopped production of the original PlayStation. It was an 11 year run.

But as Brendan Sinclair points out, this isn't the longest active duty for a home game console. That honor is held by the Atari 2600--which was in production from 1977 to 1991.

And if you knew that, well, don't brag about it.

Trailer City

Be honest, you've always thought that the world needed Brokeback Mountain meets Oxford Blues.

And this is just for Matus--Bring It On, with gymnastics. That would hardly be worth noting except that The Dude abides as Bela Caroli.

Snakes on a Plane

I Watch Stuff has posted the above logo for upcoming disaster Snakes on a Plane. But, really, if the suits have written Ace out of the script, why even bother? Right, Friendsssssss?

I haven't seen it yet, but I'm preparing a spot in my Best Worst Movie pantheon, just in case it stacks up to Starship Troopers and Fast and the Furious.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

You can pretend you didn't like The Fast and the Furious, you can pretend that sometimes, when no one's looking, you floor it and say, "It doesn't matter if you win by an inch, or by a mile."

And you can pretend, if you must, that you won't see this.

Really, it's too bad they already killed Johnny Tran.

Live-Action Simpsons

It's totally old and you've probably seen it a dozen times already, but on the off-chance you haven't, check out Sky TV's live-action Simpsons promo. You'll smile, I promise.


Lisa de Moraes, who is perfect, has unfriendly things to say about the latest Carville-Matalin project: a reality series called Election, where, like the movie, they each manage a candidate campaigning for class president at a high school.

But if it doesn't degenerate into schmaltz and self-esteem bolstering, doesn't that kind of sound like great TV?

(For purposes of answering this question, pretend that Election won't be airing on Lifetime.)

Still Crushing

No, I haven't forgotten about him:
Man, models who bring their own roofies, where the fuck are those parties happening. It's like the Super Wal-Mart of rape, everything there in one convenient location.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Scent of a Woman

First came The Sopranos Family Cookbook. Cheesy? In bad taste? Maybe. But last month marked the debut of "L Eau de Parfum," inspired by the Showtime sapphocentric series The L Word. The fragrance, available at select boutiques, includes Angelica, juniper, cardamom, violet leaf, Florentine orris butter, vetiver, sandalwood, musk, and crystal amber.

Perhaps HBO can sell caskets inspired by Six Feet Under?

Stop the Madness

All around the world ... It's gonna be a better day.

Now who sang that song again? Oasis? Oh wait, that would be the song from the SBC commercial they've been playing every hour during March Madness on CBS. And I can't get it out of my head.

Not that I think it's the most annoying commercial of the tourney. No, that would be the Applebee's "revamped" theme from Gilligan's Island for their shrimp. Or at least that's what I gather from the lyrics:

Just sit right back and grab some tail...

Coming in a close second is the ad for Papa John's new "The Meats" pizza, using the Go-Go's "We Got the Beat." As in, We got the meats, we got the meats, we got the meats, yeaahhhhh, we got it!

As Andrew Dice Clay might say, "Yeah, I got the meat."

Finally, there's the Cingular ad with the Asian-Caucasian duo, the former with an up-to-date phone giving him scores, who's going pro, and who's not. The other is hapless but likeable. The question is, Why are they even friends? The Cingular guy might be hi-tech, but he is clearly more obnoxious. He's got the place wired and knows he's better than you. I hate those guys.

Star Trek Prequel?

AICN has a summary of the script that's basically Star Trek meets Top Gun, but in a good way.

I'd love to see this movie made if for no other reason than to give Paul Cantor an excuse to riff on Star Trek and neoconservatism.


One of the most interesting Box Office stories in recent weeks is the runaway success of Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion. The low-budget comedy which focused on the black audience niche debuted on 2,194 screens and grossed an amazing $30M in its first weekend. Who could have guessed?

But Madea's success might not be that much of a surprise: Madea rolled out the weekend before the Academy Awards and for the last five years, either Academy Award weekend or the weekend before it have proved very fertile ground for niche-market movies.

The 2005 Oscars were on Feb. 27 and that weekend Tyler Perry's Diary of a Mad Black Woman came off the festival circuit and went wide in 1,483 theaters and grossed $21.9M--another huge success for a movie targeted only at black audiences.

In 2004, the Oscars fell on Feb. 29, which happened to be the weekend The Passion of the Christ launched to a staggering $83.8M. It's easy to think that The Passion was always a juggernaut, but at the time, it was pitched as a niche film appealing to Christian audiences.

In 2003, the Oscars were on March 23 and that weekend saw the continued success of another black movie (albeit one with built-in crossover appeal)--Bringing Down the House, which held on to the top spot in its third week of release.

Finally, in 2002, the Oscars fell on March 24, the weekend that Blade II--a comic-book movie that was, again, largely pitched to black audiences, brought in $32.5M in its debut.

These numbers don't demonstrate any sort of iron law--we're flitting between weekends and there are lots of other factors in play (Blade II, for instance, is a sequel)--but they do suggest an interesting trend: When the main body of the moviegoing audience turns its attention to the Academy Awards, an opening is created in the marketplace so that a movie looking to capitalize on a smaller, targeted audience can really make hay.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Post-Oscar Round-up

Brandon Gray has some interesting figures on how terribly the 2005 Oscar-nominated movies have performed.

Start with the total gross of the five Best Picture nominees--at $240M. Since 1995, the previous low was $306M. And Crash is, according to Gray, the least-attended Best Picture winner ever.

But the most interesting stat can be found in this weekend's numbers, where it seems that none of the Oscar-nominated movies got much of a boost.

This runs counter to the work done by Randy Nelson of Colby College, who in 2001 determined that a Best Picture nomination adds, on average, $4.8M to a film's cume, while a Best Picture win adds $12.7M.

Mind you, Crash should have expected less of a bounce than that, since it was an early release. As Nelson explains:
. . . a Best Picture nomination for a film released in the first quarter of the year is worth an additional $673,082, while the same filmed released in the fourth quarter would add an additional $7,830,000. The corresponding estimates for a Best Picture award are $2,737,124 and $16,030,730, respectively.

Still, Crash's $342,709 is pretty underwhelming.

It'll be interesting to watch over the next few years to see if the 2005 Oscars were an aberration or if the disappearance of the Oscar bonus is another sign of how the economics of the industry are changing.

Vin Diesel's Unlikely Costars

If you were going to make a list of actors who would never appear in the same movie with Vin Diesel, the second actor on your list--right after Judi Dench--would probably be Peter Dinklage.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

10 Worst SNL Cast Members

A funny, but ultimately flawed, list. Sure, Ellen Cleghorne--we can all agree on that. But Jimmy Fallon? Don't his guitar-wielding Weekend Update spots and his Red Sox "No, you ah!" sketches redeem him? I say yes.

A harder list to put together would be the 10 best cast members. And by hard, I mean that you'd have to make your peace with including Chevy ("Medium Talent") Chase. Because whether you want to admit it to yourself or not, he's on that list. Also--and this may be cheating--I'd include Robert Smigel, even though he's not technically a cast member. And Hartman, obvs.

After that, the trouble is just holding it to 10. I now leave this for discussion.

Friday, March 17, 2006

It's Okay to be Confused

This picture of Katherine Harris was in the NYT yesterday. The only way to get through this is to talk about your feelings.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

And by the way...

Thanks for all those who chimed in. It's good to know we were missed. By all 19 readers. We missed you too!

Just a few thoughts. During our hiatus, Mr. Last has been busy on his Philadelphia Inquirer columns and was away at sea on The Weekly Standard cruise down the Mexican Riviera. Mr. Skinner gave birth to a new baby boy. Okay, maybe Mrs. Skinner did most of the work. Still, we are all very proud that his boys can swim! As for me, I had come down with a nasty flu. As it turns out, handling Chinese poultry carcasses and forgetting to wash your hands really isn't a good idea.

While we are in the midst of redesign, allow me to pass on this amusing link. The German Coast Guard has been a very important part in the war on terror. Nevertheless...

Monday, March 13, 2006

Out for Lunch

Now that we've succeeded in driving away three of our four readers, I wanted to let you know that the Galley Slaves will return, probably next week, maybe sooner.

Not that you care. Nor should you.

But just so you can't say that I didn't warn you: The blog will be different and, in all probability, even more useless than it was in its first incarnation.

I'm sure you don't think that's possible. But we'll prove you wrong. Just wait.