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!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Wilhelm Scream

ABC News has a great story on the Wilhelm Scream:

The scream was recorded in 1951 for "Distant Drums," a western directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Gary Cooper as a captain who leads a group of soldiers on a mission to defend 19th century Florida settlers from Seminole Indians.

During one scene, a soldier is bitten and dragged underwater by an alligator and he screams the whole way down. The soldier may have died, but a new star was born.

After "Distant Drums," the scream stayed quiet for a couple of years until 1953, when a soldier named Pvt. Wilhelm (played by Ralph Brooks in "The Charge at Feather River") got shot in the leg by an arrow. Sound editors needed a good scream and decided to reuse the one from "Distant Drums."

AICN now has a couple of compilations of Wilhelm screams from movies ranging from Star Wars to Howard the Duck.

Update: Okay, here's one of the compilations, but it has one clip in it that has me completely mystified, at the 1:37 mark:

That's Harrison Ford and Chewbacca, and a real Storm Trooper, but I have no idea where that scene is from. Some lost TV special, maybe?

Help me, readers, you're my only hope . . .

The Rockies, In Context

Mike Carminati runs the numbers, and they're pretty impressive.

Meanwhile, Philly sportswriter Todd Zolecki reports on the Phil's minor league prospects, who are playing fall ball:

Click here to see how some Phillies prospects are performing in the Arizona Fall League. Third baseman Mike Costanzo is hitting .059 with 10 strikeouts in 17 at-bats.

Awesome. Some day all of this will be ours!

Bonus: 10 strikeouts in 17 at-bats? He'll fit right in with this Phillies roster. Only girls work the count.

My Gift to You

Matt Labash, bringing the Jesus Funny, at Slate.


Sox Baiting

Some fodder for Red Sox Nation (I'm looking at you, A.W.):

When you give up 7+ runs a game, that's on your pitching staff. But when you give up 7 runs in an inning, twice, isn't that on the manager? You can't blame a manager if his team gives up, say, 4 runs at a time. But isn't his job to keep a firm enough grasp on the game, the opposing lineup, and his bullpen, to be able to hold keep the bleeding from becoming a hemorrhage? Particularly in the playoffs?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Your Song

Bill Wyman, the music critic (and not of the Rolling Stones), has finally found a way to measure the level of a musician's selling out, à la Moby's Play (in which every track on the album was sold to an advertiser). In fact, Wyman calls this formula "The Moby Quotient." As you will see, pop stars like Kelly Clarkson score low (a good thing) because of factors like "sacredness," "origins," and "reputation," whereas the Clash and the Ramones score rather high. Wyman refers us to a Nissan commercial, "which wanted consumers to understand that, if you owned an SUV, you could drive places. To underline the point, the commercial broke into the Ramones, who sang, 'Hey! Ho! Let's go!' That's the famous break from the punk rockers' 'Blitzkrieg Bop,' a heartfelt ode to pogoing to the beat of a Nazi military assault." Adds the author, "Well, at least it wasn't a Volkswagen ad."

Sadly, Wyman fails to mention my favorite instance, EMF's "You're Unbelievable," which then became "You're Crumbelievable."


My hero.

The Worst Job in America

I used to think it belonged to the cop who was running the sting on Larry Craig, but now I'm not so sure.

Over the weekend I pulled out the 1996 Doug McGrath-helmed, Emma, which stars the young Gwyneth Paltrow. It's not a great movie, but it's fun, and it's Austen, and it's probably Paltrow's best performance. Anyway, while gazing at the DVD case, I noticed for the first time how the film is plugged on the back:

This delightfully fun and lighthearted comedy is based on the story that inspired the hit movie Clueless! Dazzling Gwyneth Paltrow (The Perfect Murder) shines as Emma--a mischievous young beauty who sets up her single friends. Funny thing is . . . she's not very good at it! So when Emma tries to find a man for Harriet (Toni Collette--Muriel's Wedding), she makes a hilariously tangled mess of everyone's lives. You'll enjoy all the comic confusion . . . until Emma herself falls in love, finally freeing everyone from her outrageously misguided attempts at matchmaking!

Having to write that copy surely qualifies as the worst job in America.

There's only one Rocktober!

The Baseball Crank has a little bit on the Rockies' impossible run, but I'd like to see more from him. Do the Rockies need to win the World Series, or does what they've done already count as the greatest streak in baseball history?

Bonus: Can we now get the idiots at ESPN (particularly Golic and Greenberg) to stop mouthing the mantra that "momentum is tomorrow's starting pitching"?

Guilt By Association?

In the course of Slatester Tim Noah's attack on Chris DeMuth and AEI, he attempts to tar the Weekly Standard by noting:

The leading neoconservative publication, the Weekly Standard, argued forcefully for deploying troops to topple Saddam (though subsequently it's had more than a few quarrels with the Pentagon's conduct of the war). The Standard is a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., not AEI … but its office is in the AEI building

This might be the laziest attempt at short-hand I've ever seen. You know what other print publication used to have an office in the AEI building? Slate! It's true! The Slate staff even had access to AEI's famous dining facilities. I once had lunch there with David Plotz and Frank Foer, back in the day. Their neoconservative ties are now undeniable!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Buffy Horror Picture Show: RIP

Fox has pulled the plug on the theatrical licensing for all of their television products, including the Buffy episode "Once More With Feeling."

Bionic Shuffle

AICN's Herc reports that Bionic Woman is now being unofficially run by Jason Katims. You can read the story if you want to make sure that someone else's workplace political infighting is way worse than yours.

Hope for this show is fading.

Update: Every once in a while, trolling the comments section can be gold. Here's one from the AICN thread:

[D]id Mark Sheppard graduate from the Tom Sizemore school of acting, just like Miguel Ferrer has a masters in Micheal Ironside Studies. While Isaiah Washington went to the Community College version of Denzel university (We all know Chiwetel Ejiofor will soon be graduating Summa Cum Lata from the main Campus). While Michelle Ryan took a summer course (with Damian Lewis and Kevin McKidd) in how to act American but still love thy Queen, taught by Hugh Laurie.

He puts the "T" in "IT"

Galley Friend R.J. sends us this link to what may be the worst Mr. T ad of all time. It's like a mini-movie and it's, well, I can't describe it. Just push play.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Brief Aside

Dan Bartlett on the problems with the GOP presidential field:

"Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah."


None of the Republicans running have the strength and experience of being a two-term governor from a large, middle-American state. A lone-star state, if you will. None of these men has a name, a good name, a name you can trust. A name that sounds a lot like the name of another U.S. president. None of these guys is comfortable enough in his own skin that he'll be able to sleep like a baby while American troops are in harm's way and see into the deepest souls of the leaders of our country's rivals. In short, the biggest problem with the current crop of Republicans is that none of them is George W. Bush.

So I guess we now have the Bushie fallback position should Hillary sweep to a 40-state victory next year. Awesome.

Quote of the Week

Following Buffalo's loss to Dallas last night, ESPN's Stuart Scott asked his fellow commentators, Steve Young and Emmitt Smith, that had they not known the outcome, with so little time remaining and with Romo's multiple interceptions, what two words would've come to mind:

Steve Young: Dallas. Lose.

Emmitt Smith: Dallas. Lose. Big. Time.

So what are you doing with your life?

Burbed shares with us a list of public employee salaries from the Bay Area. I'm a huge fan of public employees! A huge number of people near and dear to my heart work for the government in some capacity and I wish they were all paid more money! Really!

But $118K a year for a city bus driver?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Justice League of America

Kill me now.

The only hope is that, like the Wolfgang Petersen World's Finest, Batman vs. Superman, this too will be aborted before shooting commences.

At this point, why not just start with Vibe and Gypsy and Vixen? Or, hell, why not start post-Justice League, with Batman leaving in a huff and starting the Outsiders, which is a much more manageable group of heroes (who could, with the right handling, turn into their own franchise). I always thought Batman and the Outsiders would make for an interesting 115 minute movie.

David Effin' Remnick

Yeah, that's right. He edits the best magazine in America and writes the best reported pieces in said magazine, just for kicks. Just to put idiot scribblers like you and me in our place. He has no mercy.

The Remnick profile of Garry Kasparov is brilliant. Just one choice tidbit:

When I asked Kasparov if he feared for his life, he nodded gravely and said, “I do. The only thing I can try to do is reduce my risk. I can’t avoid the risk altogether. They watch everything I do in Moscow, or when I travel to places like Murmansk or Voronezh or Vladimir. I don’t eat or drink at places I’m not familiar with. I avoid flying with Aeroflot”—the Russian national airline. “It doesn’t help in the end if they really decide to go after you. But, if they did, it would be really messy. And not just because of the bodyguards. There would be a huge risk for the Kremlin if anything happens to me, God forbid, because the blood would be on Putin’s hands. It’s not that they have an allergy to blood, but it creates a bad image, or makes it worse than it already is.”

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Continuing Misadventures of Sony's PS3

Cue the Benny Hill music:

As Joystiq reports, here's Sony talking about why they've decided to ditch backwards compatibility on the Playstation 3:

In separate interviews today both Sony UK boss Ray Maguire and Sony Europe spokesman Nick Sharples spoke about how the 40GB PS3 lacking backwards compatibility is fine. How is it fine? Maguire tells Eurogamer that by this Christmas the PS3 will have a whopping 65 games and so they feel "there's sufficient choice in the marketplace and that we're still better off using that money that we'd put into backwards compatibility in either investing in new games or using that money to help support bringing the price down." Meanwhile, Sharples tells GameDaily, "We have made clear on many occasions that our priority is on developing innovative new features and services for PS3 and not on backwards compatibility."

Here was Sony talking about the prime importance of backwards compatibility a years ago:

Sony's own Phil Harrison clearly and distinctly said in a 2006 interview with GamePro, "Backwards compatibility, as you know from PlayStation One and PlayStation 2, is a core value of what we believe we should offer. And access to the library of content people have created, bought for themselves, and accumulated over the years is necessary to create a format. PlayStation is a format meaning that it transcends many devices -- PSOne, PS2, and now PS3."

This is a company that has no idea what it's doing.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Black Macho Man

I know you're curious. Go ahead and watch the first clip. It's only 3 seconds long, but you'll get a taste:

So here's the deal: TNA Wrestling has a guy named Jay Lethal, who recently adopted Randy Savage's persona and the moniker "Black Machismo." Here's a bit more:

He's pretty great. But I hope Savage doesn't get pissed. Remember, "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Macho Man--Vengeance is mine!"

Falcons v. Vick

ATL has the word:

The Falcons are seeking to recoup $22 million already paid to Vick in signing bonuses. The Falcons claim that, since Vick knew at the time that he signed the contract and received the bonuses that he was running a dogfighting operation and should have known that that could cause him to not be able to play, he has forfeited the bonuses. The NFL Players Association says once bonuses are paid, there's no forfeiture, period.

They seem to be almost right. Under the new CBA approved last year, forfeiture of signing bonuses are allowed for only one reason . . .

The Hobbit in EW

Don't be fooled by the canned, straining hipsterism ("finger-bling," etc.), the people at Entertainment Weekly are plenty smart and you can't hold them responsible for the editorial dictums of Time-Warner magazine world. So if you focus on the substance, this piece on the future of The Hobbit property is pretty good stuff.

When New Line began planning to sell the LOTR props and costumes at auction, Jackson intervened and said that he'd like to have them, both for sentimental reasons and for a museum he hoped to set up one day. The studio balked. Jackson then pointed out that he had never signed a contract for the extended Return of the King DVD. He informed New Line that he'd be happy to accept the costumes and props as his fee — the suggestion being that he might not work on the DVD otherwise. Those extended cuts had become far richer revenue streams than anyone could have predicted. Jackson got his props. The relationship between the filmmakers and the studio at that point was said to fall somewhere between hellish and nonexistent.

Then there's the pressure New Line is under:

In fact, time may be running out to launch the movie. On some not-too-distant date, the rights to The Hobbit will revert back to Zaentz. Most insiders guess it's 2010. To make the movie then, New Line would have to renegotiate — assuming Zaentz would want to do business with them again — on much more expensive terms and with plenty of competition from other studios. And there may be another deadline: Shaye and studio co-chair Michael Lynne reportedly have only until late 2008, when their contracts with New Line are said to expire.

And then there's this:

In the past, Jackson has suggested that he would make two films, with the second one filling in the story arc between the end of The Hobbit and the beginning of Rings. Although Tolkien never wrote a novel bridging the eras, he did scatter clues in shorter pieces and epilogues that could form the basis of a screenplay.

Feminism and Sports, Again


Here's Tom Boswell today, writing about the Rockies' amazing run:

Maybe they're headed to a World Series trip that will shame all the sport's other improbabilities. After all, they were in fourth place in the National League West, five games out of the wild card on Sept. 17. Some sport-addled math professor somewhere is going to crunch the numbers on that and she'll nearly run out of decimal points in computing the odds. [emphasis added]

First, two qualifiers. (1) I love, love, love Tom Boswell. He's my second-favorite sports columnist, ranking below only the Immortal Bill Lyon. (2) As a writer, I'm actually fairly deliberate about switching up gender pronouns and trying to keep them balanced out. I think it's a little silly, but it doesn't matter much to me and it does seem to matter quite a bit to some readers, so I'm happy to try to reach out.

Except, when the outreach creates such a jarring, ridiculous dissonance with reality. For instance, you could, technically, use the pronoun "she" when talking about an anonymous place kicker because in the history of sports there have been one or two female place kickers in football. You could use "he" when talking about a non-specific Avon salesperson because there are now a couple "Avon Men."

But, at the risk of straying into Summers territory, what percentage of math professors are women and how many "sport-addled" female math professors are there out there? Ten? Twenty? Six?

This sort of ludicrous gender outreach is bad for writing because it actually does sacrifice something important on the altar of political feminism and derails the piece.

Final caveats: Maybe this was an editor mucking around with Boswell's copy. Or maybe Boswell had a specific lady sports-addled math professor in mind, in which case I drop all of the following complaints and applaud him for throwing her a shout-out. And finally, in any case, this complaint should in no-way be taken as a diminishing of Boswell who, again, is pretty fabulous.

I just wish this sort of stuff would stay out of sports.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Eagles "News"?

I'm such a super-fan that I didn't even rebut the blind commenter who suggested, after the Redskins loss, that the Eagles were a playoff team--because I want him to be right!

Sadly, I don't think he is. Here's a rumor floating around in Philly that would be kind of a big deal, if true:

It’s been a constant rumor all year, but after Sunday night’s loss to the Giants, sources close to Andy Reid and the team say there’s a strong possibility Reid may get off the sidelines sooner than expected. All year, Reid’s family troubles have been taking a noticeable toll, and many of his players are biding their time until Big Red makes an announcement. With Marty Mornhinweg already assuming much of the offense, Reid’s a lame-duck coach at this point, just poking around on the sidelines to keep his mind off of his woes. The likely scenario is inserting Mornhinweg in the coach’s seat so Reid can ride out the rest of his contract as Executive Vice President of Football Operations, leaving him more time with his fractured family.

However, the next graph sounds so implausible that it lessens the credibility of the first:

Also, sources are saying with Donovan McNabb most likely spending his last year in Philadelphia, this bye week might be the best possible time for the organization to officially switch gears. McNabb will continue to start (for now), but regardless of how the season turns out, this is most likely his victory lap in Philadelphia.

If you're in the Birds management and you think this is the end of the road for McNabb, don't you keep him in there and try to beef up his numbers as much as possible in order to keep his trade value high?

Galley Brother B.J. adds:

I'm having so much fun picturing Lovie Smith's speech to his team before the Eagles play the Bears in Chicago on 10/21:

Defense, remember when you're sacking McNabb, be gentle. We need him
healthy for next season. And, instead of the usual trash talk, of "I'll
fuck you til you love me," "all day, baby, all day," "you ain't getting
shit off motherfucker"--say things like, "that's a shame, our line might
not be the best, but they don't give up this many sacks," or "do your
receivers ever get open? You know Berriman & Mohmed are quite good at
getting open." Or maybe, "listen to those Bears fans, they're fantastic, they love their team and their players." Just be nice to him & stress how great it
is to play in Chicago.

The Greatest News Ever

That may be overselling it, but here it is:

A new, prime-time, network version of American Gladiators.

Hosted by Hulk Hogan.

Dig it!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Flocking Awesome

Over the weekend I stumbled across a new browser called Flock, and after tinkering with it for a couple hours, I'm going to put Firefox aside for a week and give it a try. Its a Mozilla application and it's geared heavily toward people who use social-networking sites (which isn't me). And it looks a bit chunky. But that said, it has excellent RSS and blog management built in and it seems pretty zippy after startup. Might be worth giving a look.

The Truth About Cats and Dogs

Exhibit #16,317 on the undeniability of gender differences: You remember the Greatest Team You Never Heard Of--they finished third at the women's World Cup after the U.S. coach made the bizarre decision to bench his starting goalie, Hope Solo, who he had ridden to two straight undefeated years in favor of 36-year-old former star Briana Scurry. Coach Ryan's explanation, that Scurry had a better lifetime record against Brazil, was basically the same argument Mr. Burns used in substituting Homer for Daryl Strawberry ("But skip, I'm five-for-five with five home runs!").

Brazil blew out the U.S., Scurry was terrible in goal--bad enough to have lost the game for the Americans even if nothing else had gone wrong. And after the game Solo let out a mild rant, saying, "It was the wrong decision, and I think anybody that knows anything about the game knows that. There's no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves. And the fact of the matter is it's not 2004 anymore. It's not 2004. And it's 2007, and I think you have to live in the present. And you can't live by big names. You can't live in the past. It doesn't matter what somebody did in an Olympic gold medal game in the Olympics three years ago."

Harsh but, then again, truth is an affirmative defense. Not only was Solo right, but just about everybody in sports paying attention had said as much (or more) both before, during, and after the game.

But here's where it gets weird: The women on the team got upset with Solo . . . and then they voted not to let her play in the consolation game against Norway.

That's right, a group of quasi-professional athletes were so upset at the off-the-field comments of another player that they took it upon themselves to demand that the player be benched. And the coaching staff went along with it!

I submit to you that this sort of behavior is basically unthinkable in men's sports. (Try imagining this story in the context of an NFL team.) It shows a complete, polar-opposite understanding of competition, comradery, authority, and the importance of winning. Mind you, I'm not making any value judgments here: the women's view may well be the morally preferable one.

But they couldn't be more different.

Monday, October 01, 2007

What about the children?

I don't know how long I've had Encore as part of my cable package, but as a result, over the weekend, I had a chance to rewatch The Insider starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe. Technically it is superb--what else would you expect from Michael Mann--and as Variety would say, perfs are stellar across the board. Particularly spot on is Christopher Plummer as Mike Wallace, admitting that he does not want to spend his dying days on NPR. Wallace frets over his legacy ("How will I be remembered?"), which is probably what Dan Rather was thinking when he filed his lawsuit. And as always, it's a treat to see Bruce McGill and Philip Baker Hall on screen.

Completely over the top, however, is when 60 Minutes finally airs the tobacco segment in its entirety, including the interview with Jeffrey Wigand. Pacino sees it in an airport and suddenly everyone stops to hear Wigand explain how the tobacco lobby was dishonest and how nicotine is, in fact, addictive. Mann cues the soulful wailing in the background as a mother and her children stop to listen, clearly in shock and disbelief. Even a janitor in the background stops to watch. The entire airport basically comes to a standstill. (When it comes to Big Tobacco and the movies, I much prefer Thank You for Smoking.)