Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Christmas

If you have kids, you might want to check out NORAD's Santa Tracker tonight. Its Cold War technology put to excellent use.

Have a great Christmas and New Year, see you in 2008.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Real McCoy

This affectionate profile of Sam Waterston doesn't have any bombshells in it, but it's short and fun. And it contains a quote from Dick Wolf that sums up what I find most remarkable about Waterston's run on Law & Order, which I judge to be one of the great achievements in television history:

"After all these years, I've never once seen him phone in a performance."

Me neither, and God knows, that would be easy to do with that role.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dancing Spider-Man

A Galley Friend who's a big wheel in the world of semi-professional swing dancing passed along this video of a couple who choreographed their routine to the old Spider-Man theme. Obviously, the guy is in full Spidey regalia, but please note that the gal has dyed her hair red to go for the full Mary Jane look.

Is it totally weird? Yes.

Kind of awesome? Also, yes.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bill Lyon: Stud

Lyon is one of my heroes, so I was thrilled to see him inducted into Philly's Sports Hall of Fame. Here's the fantastic speech he gave on the occasion.

Friday, December 14, 2007

More Dark Knight

Here's the new international teaser one-sheet:

Sigh. Fine. I'm in.

(PS: If you know where to find one these, drop me a line and let me know. I've still got a few feet of uncovered wall-space at the office . . .)

The Greatest Story Ever Told

Webster's Is My Bitch throws an off-hand link to this IMDB synopsis of the "in-production" flick Jack and Diane. The IMDB plot summary reads:

Jack and Diane, two teenage lesbians, meet in New York City and spend the night kissing ferociously . . .

Again, I'm not a hot-shot Hollywood executive, but based on an extensive review of box-office metrics, this sounds like a movie that could make about a gagillion dollars.

Rap: The PowerPoint Presentation

So funny:

Dark Knight Trailer

Fine. I'll say it: It moved. Are you happy?

I just read Ed Brubaker's outstanding Joker-origin book, and I can only hope that Nolan cribbed some of it--at least the tone--for the movie.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Will Arnett Is the New Voice of K.I.T.T.

Too. Many. Jokes.

"Have you seen the new Poof, Michael?"

"You've got a really nice mouth . . ."

"Illusions, Michael, you don't have time for my illusions."

Does this mean that "Final Countdown" will be the new theme?

Seriously though, I think the idea of a puffed-up, needy, semi-bisexual K.I.T.T. is just what this re-imagining needs.

Marvel Digital Comics

Is it the best thing to happen to comics since baxter paper?

Or is it just a more expensive version of the hologram cover?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hatchet Job

That's what this awesome piece on Bobby Petrino is. No two ways about it. Says Petrino is not a man and calls his decisions cowardly. But "hatchet job" has so many negative connotations. Don't some people actually deserve the hatchet?

Petrino didn’t tell players when they were being benched, or why. Some found out when they got to the stadium on game day. Joey Harrington found out from reporters in a news conference that he might not start at quarterback that week.

And my favorite part:

Petrino took exception last week when I asked him about the possibility of leaving the Falcons for a college job (I was giving him the benefit of the doubt, and figured he would wait until after the season).

“My plans are to be here, there’s no question about that,” he said. “I get asked the same question every day, and that’s my plan.”

And now his plan is taking him to Arkansas. At least 13 games covers a full college season.

Get Your Geek On

Jenny points us to these pictures of . . .

Kristen Bell, in a Princess Leia Brass Bikini getup. It's more gold than brass, but still.

I'm just saying.

Advantage: Blogosphere

Because First Things--one of the three best American magazines in production--has started a new blog.

Worth working into your rotation.

World of Warcraft

I gave up the pipe on WoW a long time ago, but these ads are (almost) enough to get me back into it. Particularly the Mr. T and Shatner spots.

Just FYI

Here's Galley Friend Mike Russell writing on Achewood in Sept. 2007:

Okay. If you haven't heard of "Achewood," here goes:

Imagine Winnie the Pooh's Hundred Acre Wood. Now. Empty it of all the
adorable stuffed animals suffering from ennui, honey-cravings and
blustery weather. Then re-populate it with stuffed animals suffering
from clinical depression, drug cravings and blustery rageaholic

Oh, and make the Hundred Acre Wood a suburban California house.

That's "Achewood." Sort of.

Here's Time magazine on Achewood this week-ish:

Achewood defies categorization or description, but a brief, futile
attempt at a synopsis would go something like this: A bunch of cats,
some robots, a bear and an otter who's 5 years old, live together in a
fictional neighborhood called Achewood, which you might usefully think
of as a grown-up, suburban, stoned version of Pooh's Hundred Acre

It's not plagiarism, but it does look like either an amazing coincidence or extremely ungenerous writing.

Eastern Promises for Tennis

Galley Friend B.W. sends us this link on McEnroe and the Russian mob:

US tennis legend John McEnroe expressed his concern on Friday that organised crime, such as the Russian mafia, could be infiltrating tennis. The former world number one believes that threats to tennis players or their families could be forcing them into throwing matches. "The thing that worries me is that mafia types, like the Russian mafia, could be involved. That's potentially pretty dark and scary," McEnroe told The Daily Telegraph.

If Law & Order has taught me anything, it's that the reach of the Russian mob is nearly limitless. Just ask poor ADA Ricci.

(Btw, that two-part episode gets my vote for best L&O ever.)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray (cont.)

I don't ever get into Wal-Marts, but they've got a generic-brand HD-DVD player now selling for $189. That doesn't seem to be a sale price, either.

It'll be interesting to see what the stand-alone player numbers look like post-Christmas.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The West Philly Grifters

A couple impossibly un-cool GS readers have complained that they don't have access to Facebook and/or indoor plumbing. Also, they're pissed about the Taft-Hartley Act. But they really, really want to see the pictures of Jocelyn Kirsch, one of Philly grifters. (The Philly papers have more on the story today.)

So here are some pics. Keep scrolling down for the best part of the Daily News story:

I know what you're wondering. The Daily News has the answer:
JUDGING FROM her reaction, Jocelyn S. Kirsch may have received the best Christmas present of her life in 2003.

Her father, Dr. Lee Kirsch, a plastic surgeon from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, shipped her a package containing a pair of silicone breast implants, she told her fellow Drexel University dorm residents. Kirsch, then a freshman, said it was her father's Christmas gift.

Kirsch quickly showed off the implants on her dorm floor, according to classmates familiar with the story. . . .

By senior year, Kirsch had no contact with any of her freshman friends who, perhaps, had seen her body before her father's Christmas gift. She also took down any photos on her Facebook page from before her sophomore year, said the two former friends.

Scott Sexton, the metro columnist for the Winston-Salem Journal, interviewed Kirsch's high school friends who described a troubled young woman with a penchant for lying and for sticky fingers.

By which the reporter means that she stole a lot of stuff. Just to be clear.

Men Who Look Like Old Lesbians

Shockingly enough, that's exactly what this site is devoted to.

It's really reprehensible. And mean-spirited. In no way do I endorse it.

However, it's pretty spot-on.

Only in New York Philly?!?

The Daily News is all over this fascinating story about the well-to-do 25-year-old UPenn grad and his 22-year-old Drexel girlfriend who've been grifting hundreds of thousands of dollars using stolen identities. It's totally engrossing and if the WGA strike wasn't happening, would be the subject of a Law & Order episode by next spring.

Update: Galley Friend M.G. sends us this link to scandalicious Facebook photos of the griftress. I'm guessing she was the mastermind.

G.I. Joe News

Darth Maul is Snake Eyes.

Say what you will.

KSK Does Zales

The Christmas Ape writes his own script for a saccharine Christmas jewelry store commercial. Here's a taste:

[Tinkling overlay of Vanessa Carlton's "A Thousand Miles"]

[Scene one]

Tony Romo sits in front of a vanity mirror in a room dimly lit by candles. He's wearing an elf's hat. He smiles faintly but with determination. His mind seems distant. He turns to a small TV to his right, sees Peter King reporting from Minnesota. Suddenly wistful, his smile fades to nothing.

Behind Romo, a closet door silently glides open.

"But how, you were -- "

King reveals a small jewelry box, sweeping it over Romo's shoulders to his face. He opens it slowly.

"It's for your cock," King whispers sweetly.

The Dark Knight

I've been undergoing a semi-reconsidering of Batman Begins, mostly on the strength of recommendation from Galley Friend S.B., who considers it the greatest superhero movie ever made. I'm far from convinced. But there's now word out on the first six minutes of The Dark Knight. And it sounds just about amazing.

It starts off with a breathtaking shot of Gotham City in broad daylight. The camera swoops into this big glass skyscraper the way only an IMAX movie can. It was stunning. Then BOOM! One of the windows in this big glass skyscraper is blown out. It then cut to two thugs in ugly clown masks (the ones we saw in the first publicity stills that were released months ago) shooting a zip line down to an adjacent rooftop.

Cut to the street as we see another thug waiting on a street corner with his clown mask in his hand. We’re looking at him from behind and can’t see his face. A van pulls up and the thug puts on his mask and jumps in to join the rest of the clowns. The clown who’s driving is bitching about how this Joker guy who planned the heist didn’t even bother to show up and questions why they should cut him in on any of the loot. There’s an awesome line from one of the clowns about The Joker and how he wears make-up as “war paint” to scare the crap out of people. Very cool stuff.

The two clowns in the skyscraper dramatically swing down to the rooftop while the clowns in the van enter the bank guns a blazing.

One of the rooftop clowns disables the silent alarm and comments that the alarm isn’t going to the cops. Once the alarm is halted, his partner shoots him dead.

It gets better from there.

Advantage: Not the Blogosphere

I hardly ever do this, so I hope you'll forgive me, but Galley Friend D.M. sends me this link to a blog post about a piece I wrote elsewhere on Google's Book Search. While not an attack piece, I tried to raise what I deemed some important concerns about this project in specific and Google in general. Anyway, that blog post describes the piece as "Jonathan V. Last defends Google in The Weekly Standard."

Ordinarily, I wouldn't be bothered by this total misreading. The blogger probably read the first couple graphs and then posted without reading the end. No crime there.

But what struck me was the name and subtitle of the blog:

"One Letter At A Time: A Blog About Reading and Writing"


Update: Blogger James Comerford has thoughtfully commented below and updated his original post. Advantage: Blogosphere.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Big Love

I have remained silent too long. But now I have had it. Enough is enough. Last week photos emerged supposedly showing Jennifer Love Hewitt in an unflattering light. Yes, that light would be called the sun. Nevertheless, extreme close-ups of Love made it seem as though the talented actress had some dough to be kneaded. But who can really say when malicious photographers use Photoshop, not to mention the ripples of the water shining irregularly on her. And even if JLH did have some junk in the trunk, have we forgotten it is almost winter and we all need to store up our energy.

I am proud to say my girl has now responded on her blog:

A size 2 is not fat! Nor will it ever be. And being a size 0 doesn't make you beautiful.

What I should be doing is celebrating some of the best days of my life and my engagement to the man of my dreams, instead of having to deal with photographers taking invasive pictures from bad angles. I know what I look like, and so do my friends and family. And like all women out there should, I love my body.

To all girls with butts, boobs, hips and a waist, put on a bikini -- put it on and stay strong.

I agree she doesn't need to lie, as when she refers to "my engagement to the man of my dreams." That cannot be true since I am here in DC and still married. But seriously, everyone should leave the poor girl alone. She's gone through enough as it is. And she must be starving.

Get Your Geek On

And I mean seriously on. Galley Friend M.E. sends us this screed about comics illustrator Rob Liefeld. You don't know who Liefeld is? Doesn't matter. You do know Liefeld's stuff? Then strap on your Compton hat, because you might get smoked. Here's the intro:

Comic books exploded when Bill and myself were about ten years old. They'd always been popular and we'd always collected and enjoyed them, but a surge of popularity brought out collectors and special editions and all the shit we've learned to deal with from breakfast cereals and television punditry. Kids were replaced by old men with backing boards, and eventually the kids and the old men became one, and 9 out of 10 kids you met collected comics for the money they'd never see and gave you the most turd-burgling stink-eye if you took the literally, figuratively, and creatively worthless SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE out of its polybag. It was a grand and miserable time for all involved, and as a result now Spider-Man wears flying armor and the good writers we lost, guys like Alan Moore, are busy writing graphic novels about how Snow White loves fucking the Seven Dwarves in a metaphorical Future Paris or whatever.

You don't need to know about this. Comics were once for kids and now they're for the adults who loved them as kids but suddenly became adults with no upward motivation. Talented people did and still work on comics and as immature and goofy as any hobby can be, they should be respected and admired for their work. We don't hate comics. I'm a little more bitter about the loss of innocence than Bill, but we both don't appreciate Garth Ennis having Superman demand blowjobs in a comic and expecting people to call him a genius.

It gets better from there. It's like the comic-book equivalent of "Shoot 'em in the head! Shoot 'em in the head!"

Friday, November 30, 2007

The New York Times Does Videogames

This sort of thing drives me nuts because (a) the videogame industry isn't that hard to cover and (b) it's a big enough sector that it deserves semi-serious coverage of its business aspects. But here's Joystiq on a NYT story:

First the Old Gray Lady says Gran Turismo 5 is "a hyper-realistic, high-speed journey, [and] is one of the best sellers for [the] Sony console." One little problem, the game isn't out yet. Next up they say the PlayStation 3 is $299, which would be awesome and perhaps the Times has some incredibly privileged info about Sony's holiday strategy, but we're pretty sure the system is going to be starting at $399 for a while. Oh, but they're not done yet. Did you realize the PS3 and Xbox 360 are both powered by the Cell processor? This is being reported by the venerable New York-freakin'-Times, so it must be true, right?

Goodness knows there's nothing wrong with making a mistake in writing a story. And maybe these errors were inserted by copyeditors and not the reporter. But these errors are so elementary that they suggest that the writer knows very little about the business and is just kind of parachuting in because someone assigned the story to him.

How hard would it be to have one guy on your business staff whose job was to keep half and eye on videogames while he went about his other beats?

Most European Headline Ever

"Britain Schemes To Come In Fourth"

The Empire really is dead, isn't it?

Worst Movie Pitch Ever

KSK is doing a little gag trying to come up with terrible movie pitches. No offense to Big Daddy Drew, but his list is really only a jumping off point. The real gold is in the comments section:

* Bryan said...

We all know Custer died at Little Big Horn. What this film presupposes is: what if he didn't?

* Rob I said...

Air Bud IV: There Will Be Bud

* Robert said...

Face/Off 2, starring David Schwimmer and Adrien Brody.

The Jerry Bruckheimer adaptation of Care Bears: The Movie.

Stephen A. Smith: The Musical


Knight Rider Returns, Pluse Justice League Stuff

And there are now pictures of the new K.I.T.T.

Also, if you care, Warner Bros. seems to have cast the role of Wonder Woman for Justice League. It's an unknown Australian model, which is actually as a good a way to go as any, provided shes (a) tall and (b) kind of regal/imperious.

What's that? You want pictures of her? Fine here. And if you're NOT AT WORK here.

(M.G. you should be in the clear.)

Charles Nelson Reilly--The Movie

Call me crazy, but there's something intriguing about The Life of Reilly.

You can catch the trailer here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Writerly Life

The Great Jane Espenson has an interesting post on the difference between writing jokes for 30-minute sitcoms and hour-long shows:

Half-hour comedies favor what are called "hard jokes." Here's an example of a hard joke, which I adapted from an old episode of Family Ties:

JENNIFER: I told you to run a down-and-in. You were supposed to go to the pole and stop!

SKIPPY: I did. I stopped when I hit the pole.

You'll notice that it's very structured, very lean, and it's all about the words. The set-up HAS to have the words "pole" and "stop" for the punch line to land.

The distinction between this and a soft joke isn't as clear-cut as some writers would have you believe. The same punch line, if spoken with a self-aware wince, would be at home in many comedic hours.

Take out the constructed-sounding wordplay to soften it further. Now can you imagine it in an episode of House?

INJURED PLAYER: I was supposed to stop at the goal post but I didn't.

Dr. HOUSE (examining contusion): Actually, I suspect you did.

The simple fact that House makes a dry joke of it makes it softer. This is another example of that general principle which I've laid out before: broadly comedic characters tend to be serious in their intent. More complex, "dramatic" characters are often consciously making a joke. It's my favorite writing irony.

No Country For Old Men

Saw it yesterday and have some semi-spoileresque thoughts. Please don't read on if you don't want spoilers.


First of all, it's pretty good. I haven't read the McCarthy novel, so if you're a devotee of his, you might have a very different outlook on the film as an adaptation. But taken just by itself, it's a fine piece of moviemaking and one that I suspect will improve on repeated viewing.

Some thoughts, in no particular order:

* Tommy Lee Jones deserves an Oscar for his performance. Or maybe a Grammy for "spoken word," because what he does in No Country he does almost entirely with his voice. That may not sound like much, but he's given terse, old-timey Texas words and he delivers them like poetry, only believably. It's kind of amazing. (In particular, Jones is saddled with the movie's opening voice-over narration. It's so hard to keep this device from looking like a device, and the script he's working off of here would sound really precious coming out of anyone else's mouth. He delivers it perfectly.

* There's no score. Until the closing credits roll, the only music in the entire movie is from a mariachi band that walks through the frame at one point. After the movie was over, I found myself keenly aware of how manipulative music can be in the hands of filmmakers who use it to try to spark in viewers emotions that their camera and story can't fully evoke.

* Also, the soundscape is pretty wonderful and made all the more so because of the lack of background music.

* God bless Stephen Root. Is he the most talented guy in Hollywood never to make it really big? I say, maybe yes.

* Kelly Macdonald--you know her from Gosford Park is from fracking Scotland. Here she pulls off a pitch-perfect trailer-trash housefrau. All shades of awesome.

* There's a scene where Josh Brolin is being chased across the open range at night and there's a flash of purple lightening in the distance. It's stunning. Either cinematographer Roger Deakins got unbelievably lucky, or this is the best, least obtrusive, use of CGI this year.

* Anton Chiguhr really is as iconic a character as everyone says. And my favorite bit of writing for him is the scene where he shows up in the gas station, flips a coin, and tells the old proprietor to call it, heads or tails. You've seen this in the trailers, friend-o. Well this is the first time in the movie he flips a coin for someone's life and the off-the-shelf way to write the character is to have Chiguhr kill the first person whose life he flips for. This establishes him as the heavy. (Again, SPOILERS!) Instead, the fellow in the gas station calls it right and gets to live. And if anything, it serves to make Chiguhr scarier and more interesting. It's a great writing decision.

* There's a key scene at the end that takes place entirely off-camera. The movie-geek websites have been debating whether or not this is a cheat or too self-conscious. For me it really works. A lot of things in No Country take place off-camera. In fact, nearly every important plot-point does. (That's one reason I think the movie is probably going to age well.) This big, off-screen payoff feels perfectly in keeping with the rest of the movie.

* Yes, there is one coda too many. But only one. And no flying saucers appear. So that's something.

* Ummmm, where's John Goodman?

* I won't be surprised if No Country and There Will Be Blood are the two heavy Oscar favorites.

Update: Ross Douthat complains that Tommy Lee Jones shouldn't get an Oscar for No Country because he's the third (or fourth or fifth) best performance in the movie. I'd both agree and disagree with him. Josh Brolin should get at least a nom, and Javier Bardem deserves one, too--but I'd put both of them in the Lead Actor category. Jones's performance was, to me, anyway, a supporting role, albeit one that anchored part of the film. Brolin and Bardem are also fabulous.

Also, the further I get from No Country, the more I like it.

Dumbest Get Rich Quick Scheme Ever?

I've been hearing ads on the radio for this for the last few days. You can click through the link if you want, but I'll save you the trouble: It's Armando Montelongo's detailed blueprint on how to make a fortune . . . flipping real estate!

Armando's page advertises a free DVD but doesn't tip us off to how much his "system" will eventually cost. This site suggests the package will ultimately cost $997.

Are there really people that stupid out there? Wait, don't answer that . . .

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray (cont.)

If you care--and it's Christmas time, so you might--scroll through the comments section on this post for some funny (and some interesting) bits.

Carson Daly . . .

Weird relic of the '90s, or scum-sucking scab?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

DCI Tennison vs. Agent Huang

I don't know how it got past me, but here's Malcolm Gladwell getting medieval on criminal profiling.

Not to oversell the piece, but if Gladwell is right, then nearly a third of NBC's prime-time lineup could come crashing to the ground!

Update: Based on the comments, I should make clear that the Gladwell piece is about FBI profiling, not racial profiling. Hence the Agent Huang in the header. And if you read the piece you'll see that Gladwell rests his case on a kill-joy Brit inspector. Hence the DCI Tennison and . . . never mind. Just read it. It's short and it's good.

Sean Taylor, 1983-2007

This morning Sean Taylor died after losing massive amounts of blood when a bullet severed his femoral artery. Under the murkiest of circumstances, authorities will only say intruders broke into his home in Florida where he was sleeping with his girlfriend and 18-month-old daughter. But as others have now spoken out, it is clear this was far from a typical break-in. Taylor's house was previously broken into and the intruder placed a kitchen knife on the bed. (Taylor also had a machete nearby in case of such a break-in.) Stay tuned for more details.

JVL here: Galley Reader, Commonwealth Resident, and Redskins Super Fan P.G. writes:

This is like Jerome Brown: Both were in their primes and both were pro-bowlers destined for greatness. Both from Florida, both played at Miami, both died in Florida in the same area they grew up. Both were well known for something they did at the Fiesta Bowl, Brown for his famous “walkout” at the Fiesta Bowl dinner, Taylor for the phantom pass-interference penalty that gave the title to Ohio State.

It’s days like today that I wished I didn’t love football so much, because this would just be another tragedy in a world of tragedies, it wouldn’t be like losing a friend.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Eagles-Pats (In Game)

This is like watching a live-action version of Madden '07. I've never actually seen an NFL game like it. Almost no punting, or running. Going for it on 4th downs instead of kicking the field goal. Onside kicks. A flea-flicker. A phantom offensive interference penalty. Tons of deep balls. Real NFL games aren't supposed to go like this.

And what about the Eagles? I can't imagine they're going to win. But here's a thought about that line on the game, which crept up to 24 points by last Thursday, the biggest non-expansion team spread in NFL history:

As just a casual observer, I would have probably taken the Pats and 30 points. But if you were a serious gambler, that line should have jumped out at you for one reason:

The line was moving away from the Eagles even though their starting quarterback was unknown. That just doesn't make much sense. If the line was tied to reality, and not just Bradymania, shouldn't it have been in flux depending on whether the Eagles were going to start McNabb or Feeley? It just makes no sense that the line was moving like that without people knowing which QB would start. Because if you thought the Pats were 24 point favorites with McNabb starting, then how many points would you have given them knowing that Feeley would start? (And vice versa.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Honky Tonk Man

Galley Brother B.J. and I were talking about him the other night, and were wondering if his heel-turn was the greatest turn of all time, or just part of an elaborate plan from the very beginning.

Those who remember Honky Tonk (his Wiki page is engrossing) will recall that he was introduced as a face and not just as a normal face, but as the personal friend of Hulk Hogan. I remember the WWF making a big push to sell him as a face, but it just didn't work. The spots were cheesy and cloying. People hated him, almost from the very start. Really, really hated him.

And then, in relatively short order, they turned him into a heel. (And boy, was he a great heel. He was such a great bad guy that he was able to put Jake the Snake over as a face, which is saying something.)

So was that improvised writing on the part of WWF, seeing a story that wasn't working and going in a new direction? Or was the plan to make him a heel in place from the very beginning? Surely someone out there knows where the definitive account of Honky Tonk is written.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

That Heroes Chick, Star Wars, the "Special" Storm Troopers

Jenny's manservant gives us perhaps the best photo caption of all-time. I beg you to click through the link and read it. Espcially you, Matus. And you, M.G.

Brief Politics Aside

Galley Friend D.B. sends us this story, which should put undecided GOP primary voters over the top: Ric Flair is endorsing Mike Huckabee. On the heels of this Huckabee ad, I'd say we have a winner:

So who would the other logical wrestling endorsements be?

* Brooklyn Brawler endorses Giuliani

* Mr. Perfect (may he rest in peace) endorses Obama

* Hacksaw Jim Dugan endorses McCain

* Honky Tonk Man endorses John Edwards

* Vince McMahon endorses Hillary

* Ted DiBiase (in his Million Dollar Man gimmick) endorses Romney (so does Ted DiBiase in his evangelical Christian gimmick)

* Mic Foley/Mankind/Cactus Jack endorses Ron Paul

Surely you have others . . .

Monday, November 19, 2007

More Strike Stuff

I've written a short piece about the WGA strike and the Democratic presidential candidates elsewhere. In response, one of my WGA friends sent the following email, with some interesting tidbits:

As one of the thousand or so writers who voted not to strike, I can't believe I'm going to [clarify] some of your stats that actually support your argument. While it's true that the Guild minimum is $100G or so for a big-budget script, there's also a fee of about half that for a low budget film; and a lot of writers agree to the lower figure even though they know they're writing a film that's going to be budgeted much higher than the stated budget. The big guys, of course, don't work for minimum, just as the DVD and download revenue streams are written into their contracts at rates far exceeding the minimum being demanded.

Further, the "average" of working writers may be $200G, as you say, but that figure is wildly [skewed], given that there are many, many writers working for several million per script and sometimes three-quarters of a million PER WEEK on uncredited punchups just before production--the kind that the movies that were canceled/postponed recently hadn't yet gotten. So in a guild of 12,000 members, those dozens and dozens of millions will wildly skew the averages.

Then, too, my guess is that no more than a thousand writers are working at any given time. So my estimate is that the average writer (if you throw out the high and low, as in Olympics scoring) earns about $60K--which you'd concur with, I think, if you saw the cars parked on the side streets around the picketing locations.

Herc on SNL and the Great Michael Cera

This is great:

Michael Cera hosted. Yo La Tengo was the musical guest. Horatio Sanz and Rachel Dratch returned alongside Kristen Wiig, Darrell Hammond, Seth Myers, Amy Poehler, Kenan Thompson, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte for super-dirty sketches written by the SNL writers.

It was broadcast nowhere. Proceeds from the live event went to support “Saturday Night Live” crew members laid off due to the 2-week-old writers strike.

Talk you off what, Pop-Pop?

NFL News and Notes

Still working on that Heroes post . . .

But in the meantime, a couple NFL thoughts. First off, I don't think Chicago should be worried in the least about Donovan McNabb's health. He's going to be ready to start for them next season, and, unlike this season, he'll be at 100%.

(Pained aside: Over the weekend, I mentioned to the Galley Wife that McNabb left the Miami game with an injury. The Galley Wife knows absolutely nothing about football. She replied, without missing a beat, "Well, it is that time of year." Ouch.)

But let's back up and talk about next week for a second. What's the line on the Eagles-Pats game going to be? +20? +25? Would you take the Birds +27? I wouldn't. And here's my great hope for the Pats: At the end of the regular season, when they set their playoff roster, they cut the punter. That's right. Go into the playoffs without one on the team. Pick up an extra fullback, maybe. Maybe just leave the slot open. Whatever. It would be the perfect punctuation point to end this statement season and would cement Belichek, officially, as the most hated coach in the history of the game.

Also, it would be kind of awesome.

Finally, on the way to work this morning, Redskins talk radio was buzzing about the team's second straight division loss, which dropped them to the .500 mark and might have put them out of the playoffs. The overall impression from hosts and listeners was . . .

*What a great game!

*The Skins are better than we thought, even!

* Except for those three long TD passes, they totally shut down Dallas's offense, which is amazing! (This is nearly an exact quote from one of the analysts.)

The general mood was giddy excitement, with most of the people I heard predicting that the Skins would use this as a springboard to run the table the rest of the way.

I'm from Philadelphia, so I obviously don't understand what "normal" is, but this strikes me as at least as psychotic as booing your team during the first quarter of the first game of the season.


This is a strange story. Who knew they needed writers to make Justice League?

Friday, November 16, 2007

More Strike Stuff

A WGA reader just pointed me to this site dedicated to imploring both the writers and the studios to just "get back in that room" because of all the collateral damage the strike is causing to non-striking employees.

On the one hand, the site's anonymous author has a point. Negotiation is good, bargaining is good, there certainly seems to be a small window over the next couple days for a compromise before the logic of the conflict points toward a long, dug-in standoff.

Also, the author is certainly correct that lots of working folks are going to get squished by this strike and that's both unfortunate and unfair.

The only problem with the "pox on both their houses" approach--although maybe this is better described as "can't we all just get along"--is that it imputes a certain moral equivalence between the two sides that doesn't really seem to exist. In some cases, the studios have been playing games to get out of paying writers what they're owed (with streaming broadcasts labeled "promotions"). In others, they're trying to roll-back the residuals writers get on the next generation of delivery vehicles (by giving writers less on downloads than they get from DVDs). There's no economic justification for this--it's simply an assertion of the power of oligopoly. Imploring "both sides" to get back to the table is a little like asking "both sides" of a mugging to stop fighting. That's an incredibly bad analogy, but you get what I'm driving at.

There is one way, however, in which both sides are responsible--in the game theory sense of the word--for the strike. The WGA is right, but in a strategically weak. The studios are wrong, but in a strategically strong position. The dynamics of this sort of encounter alway, always beg for confrontation. Both parties have incentive to confront and disincentive to compromise.

Best AICN Headline Ever?

"Hulk BANG Portman & Johansson!!"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fly, Eagles, Fly

Phil Sheridan notes, with all appropriate irony, that the Eagles' next two opponents have a combined record of 9-9.

Scribe Vibe

In case you're interested in following the WGA strike, Variety has a blog set up specifically for it: Scribe Vibe. It's pretty good inside baseball.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tales from Variety

I've never gotten the Rachel Nichols thing--she seems like an inert actress, and not so overwhelmingly hot as to demand attention. In the course of reviewing P2, Variety's John Anderson remarks:

Nichols . . . has been chloroformed and put into a sheer white evening dress by her abductor--who must have anticipated that his captive would try to escape in an elevator, which he could then fill with water. (Nichols' considerable physical attributes, henceforth, seem to occupy most of the screen.)

Is she the next Jennifer Love Hewitt?

Star Trek, Fetishes, etc.

Hot Jenny Morrison (from House) has been cast in the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie. She should immediately displace Jolene Blalock as the world's #1 source of Federation-related masturbatory fantasy. Bonus points if she wears the ears. Double-bonus if she wears a vest. Triple if there are tribbles and/or Data involved.

Sigh. Since I'm already out here on a limb, why not go all the way: Who's third on the list? Lt. Tasha Yar? Or Marina Sirtis?

I mean, like I have any idea who they are.

Radio Head

Yesterday the president of the National Association of Broadcasters, David Rehr, came to the Weekly Standard offices to discuss, among other issues, the Fairness Doctrine and the possible merger of XM and Sirius satellite radio. First off, as I told Rehr, I still cannot understand why he would leave his previous job as president of the National Beer Wholesalers Association. Secondly, what does he think would happen to XM subscribers like myself if there was a merger?

Rehr thinks subscription rates would most certainly go up and to enjoy the more than 300 channels that would result from the merger, I would have to purchase a new receiver. And you can bet on commercials (already more on Sirius than on XM). Rehr gave props to Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin but obviously disagrees with him on the issues. We ended up discussing a vicious cycle: Finding an FM station that plays good music with few interruptions. More listeners tune in and the commercials increase. Then having to go elsewhere, finding a new alternative station, until the cycle begins again (and ultimately turning to satellite radio).

Rehr says studies show the average radio listener will tolerate approximately 12 minutes of straight commercials before switching off. (And he does admit there are some really obnoxious ones out there.)

A friend in the industry tells me all this is pointless since eventually all of our music will be accessed through the Internet. Rehr grants this point but sees this happening between 10-15 years from now.

Finally, after learning game show host Bob Barker is being inducted into the NAB Hall of Fame, I lobbied Rehr to seriously consider inducting swordsman/inebriate Richard Dawson, aka Damon Killian. (Go to YouTube and watch some of the Match Game episodes. A legend in our midst!)

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Strike

Jane Espenson, one of my writing heroes, has been keeping a nice diary about the strike over at her blog. It makes for good color.

I haven't written anything substantive about the strike, mostly because I've been contemplating a giant, super-geeky Heroes post. But it seems to me that we should be pulling for the writers, for several reasons:

* Unions aren't always the greatest things in the world and often they're quite destructive and the source of tons of inefficiency. That said, they can be the provider of important protections and shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.

* In this particular fight, the Writer's Guild has a pretty reasonable position: There is an emerging delivery system for content in the form of digital downloads. Under current terms, the studios classify revenues from downloads not as money derived from the airing of creative content (which would mean that it would have to be shared with the creators), but as ancillary income from the promotion of content. In other words, they classify the downloaded content as a commercial for the broadcast content, just to get around paying royalties.

We saw the ur example of this last summer when Battlestar Galactica filmed mini "webisodes" of original content to be aired on the Sci-Fi Channel's website. Sci-Fi contended that these webisodes weren't "content," per se, but were simply long, extended commercials. That had actors. And scripts. And special effects. And plot continuity that tied into the series.

* The WGA wants to reserve a portion of that revenue stream for when/if digital delivery becomes profitable. The studios insist that it isn't profitable now, and probably won't be in the future. But if they really believed that, they'd give the WGA what they want, since 5% of nothing is nothing.

* So the studios are being less than fair and honest on at least two points. From a moral perspective, then, the writers are on the side of the angels.

* But who cares about them! For us, the consumers, our selfish interest in having better entertainment also lines up with the writers.

* There are three pillars to filmed entertainment: writers, directors, and actors. The writers have always been the least respected of the troika, but in recent years, that disrespect (seen in terms of salary) has actually increased. Writers make a lot less money in comparison to directors and actors than they used to. And the less money you make on a project, the less control you can exert over the creative process.

* And I think it's safe to argue that, in general, the more control writers have on a project, the better it generally turns out. (By better, I mean both commercially and artistically.)

* The importance of writers in TV is, I think, self-evident. They trump everyone else (except the showrunner, but on good shows, the showrunner is normally a writer, too) in terms of their contributions to the success or failure of the finished product.

* But the same is true for film, too. With the exception of franchises, I would argue that good writing contributes at least as much as the acting to the success of the movie.

* Essentially, I'd make the following analogy: Actors are quarterbacks, directors are running backs, and writers are offensive linemen. That's about how they contribute to the product, and how they're paid. And just like it was a welcome change when left tackles finally started being compensated more closely to their value a few years back, I think we should be happy to see writers moved a tiny bit closer to their real value.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray (cont.)

I have no idea what to make of the following:

In a recent Variety story on Indie distributors and the high-def disc format war, we learn that some of the indies are going Blu-ray, some HD DVD, some both, and some neither. Nothing surprising there.

Then we learn that the Weistein Company is HD DVD exclusive. Why is that surprising?

Because a year ago the Weinstein Company announced a deal where Blockbuster would be the only place to rent their discs and . . .

Earlier this summer Blockbuster announced that it would only carry Blu-ray discs.

Are the Weinsteins just hedging their bets? Couldn't blockbuster or Sony beat them into sticking with the program? Or is this just another sign of the SNAFU culture at Sony where things that should be easy to control get overlooked?

Or maybe something else entirely?

Oh, the Humanity!

Dustin Rowles goes Hacksaw Jim on the lovely Katherine Heigl.

Fabio vs. Clooney

Give me odds on the fight?

“Clooney started on ‘ER’ and Fabio was going to send him back there,” a manager for the 6’4”, 220-pound Fabio’s manager told Access.

KSK on Larry Craig

The KSK boys get to the deep truth of the Larry Craig incident:

I don’t give a shit about the politics of Craig’s situation. What I care about is the fact that, in order to get laid, all Craig had to do is hop on the Internet, find a good “hot spot”, then walk into a shitter and tap his feet.

Are you fucking shitting me? That is AWESOME.

I wish I were gay.

Bubble Watch

If you own property in Northern Virginia, then this should scare the crap out of you:

The house in this post (12850 Fleetwood Drive, Nokesville, VA 20181) was built in 2006 and sits on 10 acres in Nokesville in Prince William County. It was featured on this blog when it was first listed for $730,000 on 08/31/07 (13.5% less than its purchase price on 6/5/2006 for $843,920). It was subsequently reduced to $660,000 by 11/05/07, for a 22% reduction over its prior sales price.

The NoVa Bubble Blog reports then on a person who offered $256,400--remember this for a place that sold in June 2006 for $843,920. The place was in foreclosure, and the bank rejected the bid, but was interested in negotiating. The couple who made the offer walked away. As the NoVa Bubble Blog notes,

For those of you who find something you really like, I hope it encourages you not to be daunted by the list prices. This couple initially offered 70% off of the prior sale and 66% off the county's assessed price, and the bank was willing to continue negotiations.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

James Marsters on acting and the inherent limits (and advantages) of TV

He's pretty insightful:

JM: What's weird is that all the Buffy writers - I talk to them every once in a while - they're all in hugely popular shows. They're working on CSI, on Grey's Anatomy, 24, you name it, they're all on the big shows, and they all have the same complaints. They say, "God, I'm bored. I want to have a big demon jump out and rip his throat out. I want something big to happen, something special. We're just sitting here talking about nuclear weapons and it's boring." There is something free and liberating about sci-fi and fantasy.

To tell you the truth, when Buffy went down, I had wanted to get into a quality procedural cop show because what had frustrated me about Buffy, and television in general, is that when characters reveal themselves they just talk about themselves, usually near a kitchen sink.

BN: There's a lot of expository dialogue.

JM: Exactly. That's the way that you do in television because to do it through action, which is the better way, is too expensive. It takes too long to write, it means your characters are on the move more and you just can't shoot that in a week. What I like about these procedurals is they don't talk about their feelings; the writers just rip that part out and trust that the actors will put that into the performance. I think it's a brilliant recognition of television to realize what they can do and what they can't, and if the actors know their lines and are willing to reveal themselves, they still get the character stuff across anyway.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Get Your Fresh CulturePulp!

M.E. Russell interviews Jerry Seinfeld, and renders it into comics form.

(With a supplemental transcript here.)

WGA Strike

Herc has a pretty good roundup of what's going on at the good shows on TV.

More G.I. Joe News

Galley Friend B.W. sends us word that Hasbro has released a statement not entirely concurrent with what Paramount has said the new G.I. Joe movie will be about:
Hasbro's G.I. Joe Team wanted to take this opportunity to clarify some of the facts regarding the G.I. Joe live-action movie that we are developing with Paramount Pictures.

First and foremost, we are not changing what the G.I. Joe brand is about. The name "G.I. Joe" will always be synonymous with bravery and heroism.

The G.I. Joe brand has enjoyed a successful 43-year history, spanning two key generations. The first was the line of 12-inch "realistic military" figures that were popular with kids in the 1960s and 1970s.

The second generation, was created in 1982, and is based on a cast of fictional heroes and villains that make up the "G.I. Joe vs. Cobra" fantasy. The premise of this fantasy is the story of the G.I. Joe team, led by Duke, and their "fight for freedom wherever there is trouble" against the evil Cobra Commander and his Cobra force. This storyline was an instant hit with kids in the early 1980s, spawning a highly popular 3-3/4-inch action figure line, comic book collection and animated series.

This movie will be a modern telling of the "G.I. Joe vs. Cobra" storyline and its compelling characters that Hasbro created 25 years ago. The G.I. Joe team will not be based in Brussels. Instead, they will be based out of the "Pit" as they were throughout the 1980s comic book series. And, in keeping with the G.I. Joe vs. Cobra fantasy, the movie will feature characters and locations from around the world. Duke, the lead character and head of the G.I. Joe team, will embody the values of bravery and heroism that the first generation of G.I. Joe figures established.

High-Brow Celebrity Smack

Galley Friend Dustin Rowles, the brains behind Pajiba, has started a new site to cover the celeb circuit in a high-toned manner: Webster's Is My Bitch. He's off to a good start with posts like this about Jessica Alba's dark secret: She's a nevernude.

It's worth a read.

The Gilderoy Lockhart of the Outdoors

So it seems Bear Grylls really is a fraud. It's only 45 seconds, so watch it all the way to the end.

Monday, November 05, 2007

A Rat's Chance

Rick Weiss recently had an interesting piece in the Washington Post on how our sleep patterns are affected by artificial light. He then mentions the brain's internal clock, known as the SCN (suprachiasmatic nucleus): "a tangle of neurons in the hypothalamus connected directly to the eyes.

"The SCN controls the ebb and flow of hormones that influence sleepiness, alertness and hunger. Prime among them is melatonin, levels of which rise each evening, easing the onset of sleep, and then fall before dawn in advance of awakening.

"Rats whose SCNs are surgically removed become unhinged from time, sleeping at odd intervals. And when one animal's SCN is transplanted into another's brain, the recipient takes on the donor's wake-sleep schedule."

Umm, could you repeat that last part? And can we assume that if mad scientists have done that kind of sick experiment, they probably have already done brain transplants involving dead criminals and patients in vegetative states? Or the hands of killers? And what about healthy patients who are intentionally put into comas? And Devlin MacGregor, maker of ProVasic?

What is "Nerdcore"?

Glad you asked.

Blogs Are Over-Rated, #16,462

Galley Friend J.E. sends us this wonderful link on the sales of Gawker's book, The Gawker Guide to Conquering All Media. Between Oct. 2 (when it went on sale) and Nov. 1, the book sold--can you guess the number? I bet you can't. Go ahead and pick a number, I'll put the answer below in inviso-text:

242 copies

That's right. As Portfolio admits, that number may be an undercount by as much as 25%--but still. And for that, Gawker snagged a $250,000 advance. I don't get it. Are book publishers just stupid? That's what I've always suspected. Either there's a hidden logic to the industry which completely escapes me, or publishers routinely hand out giant advances to projects which have no chance of be being profitable, even when there's lots of prior history shouting, "Danger! Danger!" I mean, it's not like we haven't seen this before. The publishing industry seems about as rational as the music industry.

Pats, Colts


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fly, Eagles, Fly

The good news is that they held Dallas scoreless for almost 3 minutes.

Suck it, Jenny.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Pajiba News

While I was away, some interesting bits on Pajiba:

* Joss Whedon makes his triumphant return to TV. Awesome. Let's hope they treat his new show better than they did his last one.

* Coincidentally, they also give us a list of great screen heroines. You can guess who leads the list.

* Also, they say Black Book is a pretty good flick. Galley Friend M.G. should put this on his Netflix queue right now. Do it, M.G., I'm watching . . .

It's New to Me

One of the joys of growing up with the Wershovenist Pig was that he had, even at age 14, an astonishing grasp of the music scene. While I was still playing with G.I. Joes, the Pig was buying the Sugar Cubes' first album and thoughtfully remarking that he thought something big might come of their lead singer. In high school and college he got even deeper into cool-kids music, picking up on Hüsker Dü before the Indigo Girls made them famous, championing New Order and Bob Mould and about a billion other acts I'd hear of only through him. He was like Lester Bangs, only cooler. Normally, I knew my place and I'd just try to absorb his coolness, but every once in a while I'd think I'd found a new band that I'd try to introduce him to. I was always about two years too late.

Which is exactly what happened a couple weeks ago, when I asked him, "Hey, this Feist chick is kind of interesting, have you heard her?"

The Pig rolled his eyes. Canadian bands have always held a special place in his heart and it turns out that he's been tracking Leslie Feist and Broken Social Scene for like six years. Guh.

But even if you've heard Feist and her single "1 2 3 4," I urge you to watch the video she shot for it. Yes it's infectiously happy, yes it's bubble-gum pop at its most endearing--but my God, this looks like it was amazingly hard to shoot. All in one take, and, in particular, the trick at the beginning getting the dancers concealed behind her as the camera turns, well, that's just sick camerawork. But my favorite thing about the video is that it doesn't advertise how show-offy it really is. Instead, it looks simple and fun, as if they just kind of threw it together.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Robert Goulet, RIP

Filmdrunk has a moving tribute to the man, and the voice.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

KSK Does the Governator

Schwarzenegger watches the Chargers:

Shawne Merruhman, you call yourself a steroid abusuh?!

I make big laugh at you. Ha ha ha ha. You are little more than a namby-pamby wurst-swallowuh, yes? How many hausfraus have you grabbed and made bangbang with lately? Back in 1979, I broke a personal best by groping over 765 asses in just one month, yes. And when I groped an ass, I groped it HARD, yes. I would tear it, the woman’s asscheek, clean off her body. She would never sit on a shittuh the same way again. If she wanted to make braunschweiger in the toilet, yes, she had squat like a 1932 Vienna homosexual in a back alley. It was FANTASTIC AND WONDERFUL. Have you ever done such things as this, tiny little Shawne Merruhman? Then you cannot call yourself a true steroid abusuh, yes.

A true steroid abusuh, he does not research his steroids, yes, or know where they are coming from, the steroids. That is for little Heidis. I was dedicated, yes, to being a top bodybuilduh. And that meant I was willing to plunge into the unknown, or to plunge the unknown into me. One time I injected myself with this pure mercury, because this mercury, it is liquid metal and I wanted to be like the T-1000 and stab people and milk cartons with my liquid metal knife-arms. This did not work, yes, and sometimes I see diamond patterns now. But I am still more man than you, miniature Shawne Merruhman.

So hot.The funniest line ever: " . . . and milk cartons . . ."

In other important KSK news, Big Daddy Drew posits the question, "Which Deschanel sister is hotter, Emily or Zooey?"

I leave that to you to answer. But the Wonder Woman costume goes a long, long, long way. . .

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sony Watch

It's been awhile, so here's the latest:

* Microsoft's game division is profitable for the first time ever, due certainly to its triumph over the PS3.

* Sony's game unit just saw its Q2 losses double. The really bracing news:

As of September 30, Sony's worldwide game inventory had increased 31.7 percent to 247.8 billion ($2.15 billion) "due to the buildup of finished goods following the introduction of the PS3 platform."

As for hardware sales, the three months ending September 30 saw Sony sell--not ship--1.31 million PS3s worldwide. The company also sold 3.28 million PlayStation 2s . . .

* Also, Will Wright says that Spore, one of the most anticipated games ever, will be coming to Wii. No other console will get the PC game.

Justice League News

I'm just warning you right now: I'm going to do a lot of updates on this movie because I'm obsessed with watching my childhood being destroyed in slow motion. So here's what we have today:

* They've cast a 21-year-old blonde from The Grudge 2 as Wonder Woman.

* Herc has a short FAQ on an older version of the script, which has Maxwell Lord and Talia al Ghul as the villains.

What, no Starro?

Not to be master of the obvious, but the recent Brad Meltzer Justice League re-boot with Solomon Grundy as the villain could have been easily re-written into a fabulous, intelligent origin story for the League. If the studio was convinced that the JLA needs an origin movie.

On a semi-related note, Wedding Crashers' David Dobkin is now on board to direct The Flash.

No, you lock it up.

Human Race to Split into Two Different Species?

Drudge carried this headline over the weekend, and I have to say I was unimpressed with the story, for three reasons:

(1) Wasn't Reihan all over this, like two years ago?

(2) The story ignores completely the phenomenon of falling fertility rates where, in industrialized nations, the level of education (and to a lesser degress, socioeconomic status) is inversely proportional to fertility rate.

(3) The story makes no mention of mutant abilities.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Geek TV News

So Bionic Woman has another new showrunner, this time a guy named Jason Cahill, whose previous credits include Sopranos (good), ER (eh), Profiler (terrible), and Cane and Surface (huh?).

Now may be the time to check out on Jamie Sommers.

Oh, and the final season of Battlestar Galactica has been pushed back until April . . . and Sci-Fi still might wait until 2009 to air the end of the fourth season.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Let's Go Football: London Edition

KSK is on a roll this week, with this guide to football for Londoners:

Hello, English people! Or should I say, top of the marnin’ to ya? Huh? Huh? It’s my honor to take you on a tour of all things NFL and explain why it might appeal to you folks in London, or as I like to call it, “Seattle With Funny Accents.” No doubt you’ve heard of the NFL, but haven’t had the chance to learn more about it because you were too busy breathlessly overhyping lousy bands (“The new Travis album is absolutely MASSIVE!”) and eating spoonfuls of mayonnaise straight from the jar. . . .

What You’ll Think Is Absolute Shite About The NFL:

-The padding. Yes, yes, rugby players are tougher because they don’t wear pads and play exclusively in hot pants (nice kit!). Whatever. I’m sure Ray Lewis wouldn’t last one second playing for Leicester. You keep on believing that.

And at the risk of insulting your intelligence, if you aren't reading the article tags at the end of KSK entries, then you're missing out. The tags of this post are:

tags: Big Daddy Drew, british people think white socks are for dorks, england, gay, KSK Guide to American Football For Pussified Countries Of The International Arena, princess diana? i'd still hit it


Get Matus on Line One

Casino refuses to pay out $1.6 million jackpot--says slotmachine malfunctioned in awarding it. This at an Indian Native-American casino.

That's great. The jokes--the terrible, offensive, racist jokes--write themselves.

P.S.: I'm not suggesting Matus should be called in for making the jokes, rather that no one feels a gambler's outrage like he does. Just so we're clear.

I wonder what Galley Friend and Hoya Superfan P.L. would have done . . .

"Lacrosse is the little brother of war"?

Yeah, that's what "The Fridge" said on the back of his G.I. Joe filecard. Galley Friend B.W. sends us to this fabulous celebration of the 21st anniversary of the special-edition "Fridge" G.I. Joe action figure.

I didn't get The Fridge figure as kid--I was so scarred by the Boba Fett experiences, waiting nearly 2 years to get a Fett whose rocket had been glued into the backpack launcher--that I swore I'd never send away for a toy again. And when I saw my friend George Hoffman's Fridge figure, with its stupid football-mace, I felt completely vindicated.

Go follow that link, by the way, the blogger has an impressive collection of stuff from Hasbro's campaign for the Fridge figure.

Update: Galley Reader, Maryland native, and Redskins superfan P.G. informs us:

The “Lacrosse is the little brother of war” line derives from the fact that Bagataway, what Indians called Lacrosse, literally means "Little brother of war."

Did you ever notice in HD that Trebek wears a gaudy, gold-and-silver bracelet?

And incidentally, Galley Friend Nick Swezey won his third night on Jeopardy! last night in dominating fashion. So dominant, in fact, that Final Jeopardy was meaningless. He's a machine!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Just Asking . . .

Has anyone else noticed how much Todd Helton looks like Mick Foley?

Ross Douthat: Officially Cool

Neil Gaiman engages Ross on the issue of Dumbledore's sexual preference and Ross defends himself ably. But in case Ross has missed the big picture: Neil Freakin' Gaiman is reading him.

That's awesome.

Who cares if Gaiman disagrees, really? If Gaiman, or Frank Miller, or Brian Vaughn called me an idiot, I'd basically explode with delight. Or whatever wouldn't sound really girly and stupid.

Go Ross; he's my new hero.

P.S.: The Dumbledore-gay thing? I don't know that I ever consciously suspected it while reading the books, but it doesn't surprise me at all and, to me anyway, kind of makes some sense.

Not that you'll see Neil Gaiman reading this stupid blog . . .

Hey mama, make that pumpkin pie!

The great Robert Goulet is in critical condition, having recently been diagnosed with interstitial pulmonary fibrosis. He is currently in Cedars-Sinai awaiting a lung transplant and we can only hope for the best. But in the meantime, check out Goulet's website, particularly the clips for his old ESPN promos for college basketball: "The only thing more dramatic than my hairdresser Ricardo is a game-winning three-pointer on ESPN!" Also: "When it comes to live entertainment, you got dinner theater, that performance-art hippie crap, and NC-2A basketball on ESPN!"

Justice League News

Lots of updates today, on Jessica Biel not playing Wonder Woman; on Barry Allen vs. Wally West as Flash; and on a possible casting choice for Superman.

That's all fine, but what I want to know is this:

Who's playing Gleek? Because if they try to CGI him, this movie is going to be lame. CGI space monkeys never work.

Can This Possibly Be True?

I lean toward "no," because this is the sort of routine that only movie villains go to the trouble of concocting:

Copperfield designed part of his show around "a system for picking up women." During his show, David goes into the audience and chooses women to come on stage. We're told that if David likes a girl, he'll use code words with assistants like "mama" and "secrecy." The assistants mark the women on a map of the inside of the Hollywood Theater at MGM Grand. After the show, the women are brought backstage -- and that's where the profiling begins.

The women are told that David may use them in his show when he comes to their hometown. They are then photographed with a digital camera, asked questions like, "What is your favorite men's cologne?" and "Where do you like to vacation?" We're told one of those vacation spots mentioned by staff is the Bahamas, where the accuser claims she was assaulted. Copperfield owns a cluster of islands in the Bahamas -- which he bought for $50 million.

This may explain the FBI's interest in David's camera system and hard drive. If the accuser is a woman who was brought on stage, the FBI would be interested in a possible M.O.

Who Is, "Your Mother," Trebek?

After a huge upset victory over a three-day champ, Galley Friend Nick Swezey won his second appearance on Jeopardy! last night. It was a tough battle, but Swezey pulled it out with a Final Jeopardy question on geometry. Well played!

Trailer City

New trailers for both Rambo and I Am Legend and, amazingly, both are heavy on interesting, lonely atmospherics.

I'm totally almost fooled.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'll take The Rapists for $500

Congratulations to our Weekly Standard colleague Nicholas Swezey, who appeared on Jeopardy! last night and won. The category was "B.C. Quotes" and the question (or answer) was from which work is the following quote taken: "Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win."

Nick answered correctly with Sun Tzu's The Art of War and successfully outbid the reigning champ. Nick continues his quest on tonight's show, so stay tuned. The Galley Slaves wish him well and no, we really don't know how well he does, owing to a nondisclosure agreement. In unrelated news, Nick recently purchased a Maserati Quattroporte Executive GT sedan.


Bionic Change

I wonder whether or not it's fair to render judgment on Bionic Woman. The show's numbers are holding up pretty well and, four episodes in, we have at least some sense of what the show is. And while that could change, what it is right now is pretty unappealing.

Bionic Woman has all sorts of problems. Some of them, like the tacked on little-sister storyline, are understandable. Some of them, like the underwritten and not-terribly-charismatic lead, are structural. And some of them--like the incompetent editing, poor scoring, and laughable f/x--are incomprehensible. (Battlestar Galactica and Heroes have raised the bar to point where there just shouldn't be any compromises made in f/x on TV.)

That last category of problems is readily fixable given a talented, engaged showrunner. Some of the other problems are less easily fixed.

Take the lead, Jaime Sommers: As written, Sommers vacillates widely, from naïve over-achiever, to hardened bad-ass, to dim, struggling parental surrogate. Who is she really? So many shows have grappled with strong female leads in recent years—Buffy, Karen Sisco, Alias, Veronica Mars—that if you can’t get this basic characterization right, then you might was well fold up shop.

Instead, with Sommers, we get a muddled mess. We’re told that she was bright enough to go to Harvard, but she’s always seven steps behind everyone else in thinking through problems.

The “Harvard” backstory is indicative of the series’ overall tell-don’t-show approach. Instead of showing us a brilliant girl mysteriously trapped in a dead-end bartending job, the writers tell us that she got into Harvard—the broadest possible shorthand for “smart”—as if this information releases them from the need to show Sommers acting with any striking intelligence.

Tell-don’t-show is always annoying, but it can be fatal if it prevents the characters from earning payoffs.

That’s the biggest problem with Bionic Woman. Jaime Sommers went from innocent (but secretly special) bystander to human weapon in the pilot. That episode concluded with her menacingly telling Miguel Ferrer’s character to stay away from her because she “knew what she was capable of” now and that if he sent people after her, she’d “bury them one after another.”

I was kind of thrilled to see this dark tone; the sentiment—a bionic woman who’s a reluctant killing machine—is intriguing. But none of her transformation was earned: She’d had one short fist fight. She actually had no idea what she was capable of; it was never clear that she was cold-blooded enough to take a life.

The pernicious problem with lazy character writing is that it undermines and makes ridiculous even sound plotting that takes the tone of a series in the right direction. This is everywhere on display in Bionic Woman.

(I’m sure no one else is bothered by this, but I also don’t get the crypto political references to “Halliburton” or “Hillary Clinton.” It’s as if the writers are trying to signal some ideological leaning in what they think is the most obvious code in the world, but it comes across as non sequitor. Have we reached the point where all you have to do is have a character say “I’ll call Halliburton”—out of nowhere—and audiences are supposed to think that he’s a scary man who puts ends above means?)

The one bright spot has been the prototype bionic woman, Sarah Corvus. She’s all motivation, and it’s both reasonably consistent and quite interesting: Corvus became bionic, lost control, and started killing people. She didn’t really mean to, it seems, but she thought the source of her weakness was her remaining human parts, so she started giving herself more bionics. Now, it seems that her bionics may be killing her. And she doesn’t want to die. (This is all way more engrossing than the Jaime Sommers storyline, but it doesn’t hurt that Corvus actually gets clever dialogue and is played by Katee Sackhoff, who’s the most interesting actor on the show.)

The simple solution would be to make a radical switch: turn the show into Sarah Corvus: Bionic Woman and move Jaime Sommers to the backburner. Obviously, that won’t happen. But I wish something drastic would.

"First Orgy After Brian's Death Very Solemn"

From the Onion:

"Nobody knew Brian like we did—not his parents, not his brother, not even his wife," fuck-fiend Rebecca Baker said. "After all, Brian was more than just a guy who sometimes strapped on a jelly dong and did you from the side."

I don't even quite know what that means. But it's awesome.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Die Boston Die

Perhaps the greatest anti-Boston rap ever composed:

10. Bitch about the Boston accents in any film or TV show. “Yeah, ‘The Depahted’ was fackin’ great, but they don’t talk like that in fackin’ REVEEEEAH!!!!!” Yes, no film could ever accurately depict just how real, how fierce your hardscrabble Newton upbringing was.

11. Adopt the attitude that you, yes you, DESERVE this success. “Hey, we Pats fans know how it used to be back in the day. We earned these titles.” Don’t treat your team’s good fortune as the stroke of good fortune it happens to be. No, no, no. Your championship has to be deeper then someone else’s championship. It has to mean something more. Why? Because you fancy yourself as being introspective. Cockgobbler. Treat it like some sort of karmic reward for Len Bias dying, or some other twisted, idiotic explanation.

Quasi-secret admission: I really like the Red Sox and I find this Patriots team to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing bits of football product ever made. With the Eagles in self-destruct mode, the Pats are the only other team that gives me any pleasure to watch.

The Middle of the Beginning of the End: Updated

I confess to always being secretly conflicted about Andy Reid. He's not a very good in-game coach, but he seems to have a real talent for managing the week leading up to the game and particularly for keeping a cool head and his teams together when trouble hits. It's a zen thing he's got going on, a little like Phil Jackson, only without Tex Winter there to actually do X's and O's for him.

But since he first did his ridiculous public insisting that Doug Pederson was the future of the Eagles, I've been wary of him. He has a tendency to lie and worse, to treat the sports media with some contempt. At some level I get both of these things: (1) His job is to protect the psyches of his players so they can win games; (2) The media don't help him win games, so why be nice or candid with them?

Yet it seems to me that while there may not be an affirmative duty to be gracious or candid with reporters (and by extension with the fans), as a professional there is some minimal duty not to actively insist on things which you, and everyone else, know not to be true. Maybe that's asking too much. But at the end of the day, shouldn't there be some acknowledgment that being a head coach is just a job, like being a beat reporter, and that all of us working stiffs generally should treat each other decently, at least so long as it doesn't cost us anything?

So while I want the Eagles to win, there's a silver lining in this disastrous season seeing Reid come a little unglued. From Phil Sheridan:

In his postgame news conference, Eagles coach Andy Reid treated the assembled reporters as if they had called plays in the red zone for him. Reid, who promised to provide answers to his offensive woes after last week's ugly win over the Jets, had none for the cameras and microphones.

Asked whether the Eagles' season is in peril, Reid seethed, "I'll take the next question."

A perfect example of how Capt. Andy can behave like a jerk. He doesn't have to answer that question with serious introspection. He needn't even concede the obvious if he believes that it's important to stand by his team. He could politely side-step the question with normal sports pablum about one-game-at-a-time, keep our focus, don't get ahead of ourselves, we're a good team that's caught some bad breaks, etc. (He could even have given a stat or two about 2-4 teams that have gone on to make the playoffs; it happens.)

But instead, he refuses to even acknowledge what is a perfectly fair question from a bunch of guys who are just doing their jobs.

Moments like these are why I won't cry when Reid leaves town.

Update: Galley Friend T.R. writes in:

This morning I received an email from my brother-in-law, perhaps the most heretofore die-hard Eagles fan I know (and I know some really quite sick and damaged ones). This is the kind of guy who drives hours just to get in radio range and sit and listen in his car.

Now he has stopped watching, not because of the losing, but because of the tiresome contempt A.R. shows for . . . all of us.

It used to make me crazy when the Eagles went to the shotgun on first-and-10 with a lead. Then it made me wry. Now it makes me a little sad.

In terms of his offense, I always thought that eventually either reality would catch up to Reid, or he would catch up to reality. But now I know that neither of those things will happen. Who else has adopted this scheme? What winners are trying to emulate the Eagles? Not even his only “disciple” in the league, Childress. And what evidence would it take--now, COULD it take--for him to balance the offense? There is none, and there won’t be.

This might take a while to play out. And it could be painful to watch.

Bruce Campbell Love

M.E. Russell does a Q&A with legend Bruce Campbell. Don't miss it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pats = Slightly Evil?

I found this on the internet, so I'm just assuming it's true. Here's Dan Shanoff's report on more Patriots front-office machinations:

In a move far more insidious than spying on the football field, the Pats will get the names of their season-ticket-holding fans who (re-)sold their tickets on StubHub (presumably to punish them for not letting the team re-sell them).

I'm no fan of price-gouging (or the ticket brokers who mostly engage in it), but I'm even less of a fan of a team's invasions of privacy against its fan base.

Next up: Kraft and Belichik dissolve the Senate and raise an army of clones.

Sony Style

Good news! Sony is bringing the 40 GB model of the PS3 to America and cutting the price of its 80 GB model from $600 to $500. For those of you keeping score at home, that's the fourth change in price and configuration in about a year. Oh, and the 40 GB version isn't backward compatible with PS2 games. Why? Here's Sony's Jack Tretton to explain:

“We're choosing to focus on the PlayStation 2 consumer with the PlayStation 2, which remains incredibly relevant, and focus on the PlayStation 3 consumer with the new 40GB model and the great software coming out."

I'll let you work the translation.

In totally unrelated news, Sony is selling 60 percent of the production facilities it built just a short while ago to make the Cell 3 processor chip used in the PS3.

The Fox NFL Robot

You know who I'm talking about. Turns out the strange gimmick has a small following.

He's even got his own action figure. Weird.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tyler Perry: A Big, Bright, Shining Star

The great William Goldman defines a movie star as an actor who can generate a big opening weekend gross. After the opening weekend, word of mouth can sink or lift a movie, but for that first weekend it's most often the star that puts people in the seats.

Using this definition Goldman posited in the mid-'90s that Jim Carrey was the biggest star in Hollywood--as opposed to, say, Mel Gibson or Harrison Ford or Bruce Willis--because he was able to generate big opening weekends for movies that, without his presence, would have barely registered a blip. Goldman believed that Adam Sandler succeeded Carrey as Hollywood's biggest star for the same reason in the mid- to late-'90s.

I'd posit for discussion that Tyler Perry might be on the verge of becoming a giant movie star, maybe the biggest in Hollywood. Last weekend his Why Did I Get Married? opened to $21.3M. It was his third-consecutive #1 opening. The other two movies opened to $21.9M and $30M. None of these films opened in more than 2,200 theaters.

To give some perspective, here are Carrey's early opening-weekend successes, with their theater counts:

12/16/94 Dumb and Dumber $16,363,442 2,447
07/29/94 The Mask $23,117,068 2,360
02/04/94 Ace Ventura $12,115,105 1,750

Here's Sandler's:

2/13/98 The Wedding Singer $18,865,080 2,821
2/16/96 Happy Gilmore $8,514,125 2,022
2/10/95 Billy Madison $6,639,080 1,834

And here's Perry's:

10/12/07 Why Did I Get Married $21,353,789 2,011
02/24/06 Madea's Family Reunion $30,030,661 2,194
02/25/05 Diary of a Mad . . . $21,905,089 1,483

If anything, I'd say that Perry's short run is even more impressive given that his budgets are a fraction of even what Carrey and Sandler's cheap movies cost and while I don't have the numbers on it, I'd bet Perry's studio, LGF, spent less money on advertising support. Probably a lot less.

Perry's have a great run. It'll be interesting to see what happens for him next.

The Matchless Genius of Matt Labash

If you didn't go yesterday, you're only hurting yourself, baby. Today Labash mounts a credible case for theism based on Angie Harmon.

So hot.

More on the Rox

Dan McLaughlin antes up and gives us a really excellent discussion of the Rockies' streak by delving into Rob Neyer and Eddie Epstein's book Baseball Dynasties, which has a list of the ten greatest stretch runs of all time.

I don't want to spoil his conclusions, so go read it. It's great stuff.

A Very Wookie Christmas

Pursuant to my question yesterday about the strange clip of Han Solo in the Wilhelm scream compilation, Galley Reader P.G. sends us this, the lost Star Wars Holiday Special:

People will have their own opinions, but for me the worst moment was Carrie Fisher's musical number, which managed to not only be terrible on its own terms, but to bastardize part of the original John Williams score, too.

The best moment, oddly, is the plug for the toys at the end. God, I loved the landspeeder and the X-Wing. And, I don't want to brag or anything, but I had the AT-AT. Yeah, that's right. Thanks mom!