Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving: A Good Day For Bad News

As I predicted in this post, ABC has gone and canceled the JJ Abrams show that isn't keeping the network out of last place. Not that I'm surprised...

Alias, like people, has been dying since it was born. It was only really good that first season, and parts of the second season. It's gone downhill ever since. The once-complicated plotlines are now less complicated than any given episode of Blue's Clues. And I'm sure fans have noticed this, and are turning away in droves.

While this show has been deserving its cancellation for quite some time, I don't think Rachel Nichols, who plays "Hot Girl" on the show, deserves the fate that has befallen her: She has somehow managed to star in two shows that have been canceled this year. (The other was The Inside, a summer show that lasted a whopping seven episodes, of which, I saw one.) That's something to be proud of on your resume.

It was a good run while it lasted. Which brings us to the other bit of bad news...

The Newlyweds themselves, Nick and Jessica, announced that they were busting up, a fact already known by everyone. (And by "everyone," I mean every living creature on Earth, including animals. My cats have been talking about this for months.) And they announce this like we're supposed to be surprised. "WWWHHHHHHHHAaaattt?!? Nick and Jessica busted up??!? NOOOOO!? Really??" Well, let's see: IMDB claims that Dukes of Hazzard was shot at the end of 2004, which is when Jessica "allegedly" fucked Johnny Knoxville, AND, also happens to be around the same time that Nick "allegedly" fucked Jessica Jaymes, so, yeah, the entire world has known this relationship was done for about a year. But, apparently, Nick and Jessie are so stupid that they just now realized they were done. Way to kid yourselves to another anniversary. Good job, you dummies.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Family Guy Is Funny

I usually don't watch Family Guy, but, the other night, I fell asleep during The Simpsons, and when I awoke, Family Guy was on. And, let me tell ya: that show is funny.

Not just funny funny, but cancer funny; genocide-in-Somalia funny even. Especially the scene where Peter sprays Lois off the toilet with the garden hose, and then drowns her in the lake, Susan Smith-style. I haven't laughed that hard since Mother Teresa died (and I laughed so hard then that I pissed blood).

I now see why Fox chose to cancel Arrested Development and keep Family Guy. If a show isn't as funny as the time your dad died in a car wreck, why would you keep it on the air? Makes perfect sense to me.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Nice Hair, You Tools

One of the most fucked up things about MySpace (which I love, BTW) is the pictures that people post of themselves. Allow me to draw your attention to a compilation of some really classic pics:

The First Annual MySpace Stupid Haircut Awards (courtesy of demonbaby)

What's remarkable is not the amount of research it took to find these hairdos, because just randomly clicking through peoples' friends lists will give you those; it's the amount of research that went into matching them with Marvel Comics characters. That's outstanding. Bravo.

That's A Lot For One Fucking Poster

Remember how, in this post, I mentioned Tony Nourmand and the high-end material he deals in? If you wondered what I meant by "high-end," this deal, brokered by Tony, should give you a pretty good idea:

The Most Expensive Poster Ever

This poster (pictured at right) has a interesting history. Andrew Cohen bought it from another high-end collector named Matt Shapiro. Shapiro has a large collection of rare and valuable posters, including a Star Wars style C with another poster for an unproduced movie printed on the back. (Needless to say, a one-of-a-kind item, and one he attempted to sell on eBay for years.)

A number of years after Shapiro sold this poster, another copy of it came up for auction at Sotheby's. The estimate for this poster, which had been professionally restored to mint condition, was over $400,000. Shapiro was so pissed that he had sold his unrestored and better condition copy of the poster for less money, that he somehow managed to obtain pictures of the Sotheby's poster in its pre-restoration condition, which was pretty poor, and sold them on eBay. Word of these pictures got around (people obviously saw the pictures, as they were right there on the internet), and the results were so damaging that the poster received only one bid when it came up for auction. Unfortunately, that bid was for $360,000, and was from someone who had not seen the pictures. (D'OH!!)

If that sale, for a poster he never actually owned, pissed Shapiro off, imagine how this new sale, for a poster he did own, makes him feel. Pretty fucking sore, I'd imagine.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Spammers Love Meiko Kaji

It's the only reason I can explain why they're drawn to
this post, which happens to prominently feature Meiko Kaji.

At least twice a day, this particular post gets spammed with comments like, "Hey, you have a really nice blog here. You should check out my site. It pretty much covers lawn mowers and related stuff." (I actually wish I got spam from big companies like that.) And I do what every person does: I delete them. And they keep reappearing, from a different person every time. But the fucked up thing is that they only appear on that one post: a post that isn't even on the front page any more, a post that's eight months old.

And the only reason I can come up with as to why this happens is that blog spammers love Meiko Kaji. But, then again, who doesn't love Meiko Kaji? She was Lady Snowblood, for Fuck's sake!

The Craziest Auction Ever

One of my oh-so-numerous hobbies is collecting vintage movie posters. I've been doing it since I was a tweenager, and have amassed quite a collection over the years. Nothing spectacular; just mostly stuff I like.

After you've seriously been into the hobby for a number of years, you get to know some of the people in the "biz," and by "biz," I mean the poster-selling bizness. Like Sam Sarowitz, who owns the Posteritati Gallery in New York, and sells to famous people like Martin Scorcese. Or Tony Nourmand, owner of the Reel Art Gallery in London, who has written most of the definitive books on poster collecting. (His new book on James Bond posters is great.)

But, while Sam and Tony may be the Bloomingdale's and Harrods of the poster selling world, there is no one bigger than Bruce Hershenson. Bruce is Wal-Mart.

Anyone who has been collecting for any amount of time knows who Bruce is. Bruce's Tuesday night eBay auctions, where he lists between 500 and 1000 posters week, ranging from the '20s to the new millenium, in all shapes, sizes and conditions, draw hundreds of viewers. And while a majority of his items aren't the high-end material that Tony and Sam sell, I'll be damned if he doesn't sell 75-80% of his stuff every week. (I purchased the DOTD poster pictured above from a Bruce auction, as well as many others.) And at a premium price, because, well, it's Bruce, and his reputation alone commands a premium. There, honestly, is no one bigger.

That's why it came as a surprise when I checked Bruce's listings this week, and found this auction. Two million dollars buys you what is rightfully called the "#1 movie poster business in the world." That is some seriously crazy shit.

But, while this auction may be seen as crazy (and caused quite a stink amongst collectors), it's not as crazy as stipulation #3:

3. They must offer a long term contract to Phillip Wages, my number one employee ( would not be without Phillip)!

And while that may not seem entirely crazy to the lay person/non-collector, to collectors, it's akin to blasphemy.

Ya see, about six months ago, Phil Wages was almost entirely responsible for getting Bruce kicked off eBay. Turns out, he had been bidding on Bruce's auctions (allegedly, for his own personal collection) from one of the office computers. Some people might call this "trying to win an auction"; others (me included) might call this "shill bidding": placing bids on your own items to artificially inflate the price. And it's impossible to tell what Phil was "bidding" on, since all of Bruce's auctions are private, and don't show any bidder info. EBay found out and tossed The Bruce out. After a brief investigation, he was reinstated, but any serious collector who'd bid on his auctions felt pretty burned. While I've forgiven him somewhat, there are still people who refuse to bid on his stuff for this reason. (That and the fact that Bruce played it off as though he had done nothing wrong, and that it was all eBay's fault. Suuuuurrre it was.)

So, if you happen to have $2 million just laying around the house, feel free to bid. If nothing else, even if the business tanks, you'll get a shitload of posters out of the deal.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Arrested Development Has Arrested Development

As I predicted a while back, Fox has all but canceled Arrested Development. They suspended the show for what seemed like six months for baseball, cut back their show order from 22 to 13, and pulled the show from its lineup for the rest of the month. They may not officially be on "hiatus" (a clever industry term for "canceled"), but it doesn't look good.

It's fascinating that Fox isn't even attempting to keep The Funniest Show on Television on televisions. When was the last time you saw a promo spot for Arrested Development, a six-time Emmy winner? Never, as far as I can tell. Yet there is a promo for Family Guy (a show that has been canceled not once, but twice, and will probably get canceled again) roughly every eight seconds. And this for a show that isn't even funny. Imagine the ratings Arrested Development could get if people knew it was on TV. (I can't badmouth Fox too badly for not promoting it, as they have devoted no fewer than six websites to the show, the best being this "I'm Oscar" site. But, honestly, who the fuck looks at anything on the internet?)

So, all we can do is wait and see if Arrested Development returns next year. In the meantime, sign one or both of these online petitions (here and here) to save Arrested Development. I have; it's the least I can do for a show that makes me piss my pants laughing on a weekly basis.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

MySpace: Making The Web Not-Fun

Remember Friendster? Yeah, me neither. MySpace has surpassed it in "friendliness" in such a big way that Rupert Murdoch recently bought it to add to his already-huge News Corp. empire. That's awesome that the old fossil wants to "get down" with the teens. Too bad he bought such a shitty site.

"WHHAAAAAAAA??!? I LOVE MySpace!!" Well, I'm sure you do. It's a perfectly nice place to trade banalities with people you don't know. The problem with it is that it takes away the one freedom that the internet grants all of us: to do and say whatever we want, wherever we want, with almost total anonymity.

Most sites, if they have message boards or comment-enabled blogs, you can go on there and post your Nazi hate propaganda, or tell people about your home-refinancing site, or start a fight about Tony Danza's best movie roles, and there's really not much anyone can do about it (other than kick you off, or backtrack your IP address and come to your house and kill you).

But MySpace is above those kind of shenanigans. Let's say you're looking at a band's MySpace page, and you've heard their album that inconveniently plays when you visit their page, and you want to tell them that they make Molly Hatchet sound like Molly Hatshit. Or you see some girl's picture on a page, and want to tell her she has big tits, or that her face resembles your dog's ass. Any other place on the Web, you're good to go. But not on MySpace.

In order to do any of the above on MySpace, you have to "befriend" the person you want to talk to. You have to send them an email and ask them if you can be their "friend," so that you can make fun of them (and there's a lot of shit to make fun of on MySpace). Failure to do this will result in the message "You must be this person's friend to [do whatever]." Even if you just want to throw them a "Hey, how's it goin'," or "I think your blog is 'cool'," no can do. Based upon your profile, which may be real or total bullshit, whoever you want to talk to may not give you the time of day. What the fuck is this? Real life?

I'm sure when Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web, he didn't envision a place where the free exchange of information was allowed only amongst a select group of "friends." In fact, I believe this is the direct opposite of his vision. (I'm sure he didn't envision a lot of the things his creation would be used for, but fuck him for being so shortsighted.) If you want to call someone a tool in their comments, well, goddamnit, you should be able to. It's hard enough for most people to make friends in real life, and now we want them to do the same thing in this fantasy world we call "the internet." After a hard day at the office or school or wherever, we just want the free exchange of whatever, with no strings attached. And you can do that. Just not in the exclusionary world of MySpace. Sounds like some bullshit to me.

But, to show there's no hard feelings, I've made a MySpace profile. Feel free to become my "friend"; I won't turn you away. But, be warned: If you're going to get on there and tell me that Tony Danza's role as the monkey car driver in Cannonball Run 2 isn't his Best Ever, you and I can't be friends anymore.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Exorcist: The Shittening

Couple of questions:
1) How bad does a movie have to be that, instead of releasing it, the studio chooses to shelve it and totally remake the film?
2) What studio is crazy enough to spend $80 million to make two movies, and only attempt to recover half of that?

Answers? Read on...

This week marks the video release of Dominion, a prequel to The Exorcist. I say "a prequel" instead of "the prequel," because there are actually two of them. "How the fuck does that happen?" you ask.

Well, ya see, back in 2002, Warner Brothers decided they wanted to revive the Exorcist franchise for the third time, and decided to make a prequel to The Exorcist that would follow the life of Father Merrin before the happenings in The Exorcist.

So, they brought in Caleb Carr and William Wisher (two pretty good writers) to write a script and hired Paul Schrader to direct. They brought in a full cast and crew and made a movie that became Dominion.

Now, usually, when a movie is in the can, and the studio doesn't like it, two things tend to happen: it gets thrown "on the shelf" for possible later use, or the studio attempts to fix what it thinks is wrong with the movie so they can release it and recoup their investment. But, apparently, Warner Brothers is not your "usual" studio. They didn't like Dominion. But, they decided that, rather than fix it, they would make an entirely new movie. (If this sort of thinking sounds insane, it really is no wonder that TimeWarner, Warners Brothers' parent company, would go on to post a $99 billion loss that year. That's insane.) They brought in a hack to "scary" up the script, hired Renny Harlin (whose Mindhunters had just been shelved) to direct, recalled some of the cast and crew, and made Exorcist: The Beginning. This is the movie that passed muster and made into theaters.

However, I guess after a couple of years, Warners decided Dominion didn't look so bad after all (or probably because they lost money on The Beginning), and gave it like a six minute theatrical release. And now it's on video, two years after being thrown on the shelf.

I saw Exorcist: The Beginning, and, after watching it, really couldn't imagine what could be any worse than what actually got released. Having just seen Dominion, now I know.

It's not that it's the worst movie ever; it's that it's boring as hell. Paul Schrader's a cerebral director (and a bit of a nut), and he was obviously going for more of a thinking man's horror movie. Filming a funeral procession may have turned out to be more terrifying. Harlin's version, while incredibly stupid, at least had the decency to be somewhat scary. Both versions turned out to be about as good as Exorcist 2, and that's really not good at all.

So, the moral of this story: Why make one movie when you can make two, or, Always throw good money after bad. If you ever have $80 million to throw down the toilet, take this lesson as a perfectly good way not to spend it.