Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ruining College Football, One Bowl Game At A Time

The New Year is upon us, which means the college football Bowl Season is well under way. I personally do not follow college football, as my alma mater hasn't had a football team since 1960, but, even if they did, I don't think I would follow it, due to the absolute bullshit postseason system that college football follows.

Unlike every other college sport, post-season college football is not organized by the NCAA. It has been outsourced and privatized, so to speak. And there is no tournament, as in every other sport; the national championship is determined by winning the Tostitos Bowl (not to be confused with the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl), the participants in which are determined by a complex computer formula. (This is at least better than previous years, where it was possible to win the "National Championship Game," and not win the national championship. This system is on the same complexity level as rocket science.) So, basically, if you don't get "picked" to play in the Tostitos Bowl (which will be called the Allstate Bowl next year, by the way), there's no way to win the national championship. No Cinderella stories, no spoilers, no upsets. But, just because you don't get picked for the Tostitos Bowl doesn't mean you won't get some post-season play; quite the contrary, actually.

Remember when there used to be like 10 bowl games? Well, if you do, that means you're getting old, because, now, there's 32. Thirty two bowl games. With 119 teams in Division 1-A football, that means more than half of the teams in Division 1-A are going to a bowl game. More than half. Even before a team plays a fucking game, they have a better than 50% chance of ending their season with a bowl game. The NCAA basketball tournament actually fields more teams (65 v. 64), but there's well over 300 teams vying for those 65 spots, and getting into the tournament actually grants you a shot at the national championship. With college football, if you're not playing in the Tostitos Bowl, you got no chance at the title, but, you will get a shitload of money.

For merely participating in a bowl game, win or lose, each team is given a cash prize, which, if a team is affiliated with a conference, is split up amongst the teams in that conference. (Unaffiliated teams, like Notre Dame and Army, get to keep the entire payout.) The fact that this money goes to the conference means that a team needn't even play in a bowl game to get paid. This is a pretty sweet deal for teams like Mississippi State, who went 3-9 and didn't go a bowl game, but will get a shitload of money for sitting at home, due to the nine other teams in the conference that are going to bowl games. Pretty nice.

As you may have figured out, the whole thing is about money, which is why there'll never be a college football tournament, because, well, that's pretty much playing for the love of the game. All the money for these games comes from corporate sponsorship, who, in turn, are given the naming rights to the bowl game, which serves as nice product placement. (Remember the Citrus Bowl? It's the Capital One Bowl now.) And the willingness to sponsor a bowl game is prolific and almost completely random, which is how we ended up with the Chick-fil-A Bowl and the Bowl, and a dozen other ridiculously-named bowl games. (Not the Papa John's Bowl, but the Bowl. A bowl game sponsored by a website.)

Seeing as they add a new bowl game about once a year, I'm sure we will reach a point when almost every Division 1-A team will get to play in a bowl game. It will be nice to see New Mexico State and Eastern Michigan play in the Ty-D-Bol Bowl in 2010. That will be a good time.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ren & Stimpy - The Lost Episodes That Should Have Stayed Lost

The '80s were a bad decade for cartoons. They started with cheaply-drawn Hanna-Barbera cartoons, and ended with insanely intricate Japanese-made cartoons that were just as inane as their American brethren. It was enough to put everyone off cartoons forever.

Then came Ren & Stimpy.

This oddball, seminal cartoon singlehandedly changed cartoons. Now, it was alright to be gross. It was alright to be overtly weird. It was alright to be adult. You can still see the influence of Ren & Stimpy in Adult Swim's lineup of cartoons.

The problem with having a show that originally aired on Nickelodeon, very much a network geared toward children, is that you can't necessarily get as outre as you might like. So, nearly 10 years after the show went off the air, John Kricfalusi, the show's creator, decided to make a batch of new episodes for Spike TV, stuff that Nickelodeon wouldn't let him do during the show's original run. And now, having seen these episodes, that were recently released on video, I can honestly say he shouldn't have bothered.

Ren & Stimpy was a weird show. A good show, but probably the goofiest cartoon ever made. These "lost" episodes are even weirder. Everything has been cranked up to 11. What was once pushing the envelope is now cramming that envelope right down your throat. Everything is so over-the-top that it's almost painful to watch. Imagine Al Pacino at his most manic, and you might begin to have an idea of what these cartoons are like. And adding profanity and heaps of cartoon boobies really don't add to the viewing experience; they just make it more mind-hurting. (Yes, I just made that word up.)

I think the thing that hurts these episodes the most is the absence of Billy West, who was the voice of both Ren and Stimpy. If you can impersonate Larry Fine, you can do Stimpy, and the guy who does the voice is capable enough. But Kricfalusi's attempt at Ren's voice just doesn't cut it. This is odd to say, as I'm talking about a cartoon dog, but his Ren just doesn't have the same subtlety as West's. West is the only person I know who would think to combine Peter Lorre and Burl Ives to voice a cartoon dog. And Kricfalusi just don't cut it.

So, if you're a Ren & Stimpy completest, check these out. Even if you hate them, you'll get to see some bouncy cartoon boobies. But I still don't think that's worth a watch.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It's That Time Of Year Again...

...when Ken Griffey, Jr., gets a season-shortening injury. He usually waits until later in the season to do this, but, this year, he's decided to do it before spring training even starts. Yet another in a long line of Griffey injuries.

Griffey is a player whose potential talent has made him one of those Possibly The Best Player to Ever Play the Game, If Only He Played in Every Game. The thing with Griffey, though, is that, even having missed nearly four seasons worth of games due to injury, he still has had a Hall of Fame career. If he plays for four or five more years, and can remain relatively healthy, his stats will easily merit him a first-ballot Hall election.

It gets scary when you average his stats over those 500+ games he missed. He'd have a stat line pretty close to Hank Aaron's by the time he played 20 years. Yet, like Mark McGwire, who hit 580 homeruns in 500 fewer games than anyone else who's ever hit 500, his injury-riddled stats are still good enough to put him in the Hall. (Although, with McGwire, even if you average his stats out for however many fucking games you want, I still don't think he's good enough to go to the Hall. He hit homeruns. That was it.)

We'll see if Griffey can come back in time to salvage at least half a season. The last time he broke his hand, he missed almost all of the season. He'll still get into the Hall, even if he never plays another game. And that's some quality shit.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Coming Soon To Theatres Waaaaay Sooner Than Expected

So, I'm watching The Good Shepard (which really wasn't that good) the other day, and I saw a trailer for something quite surprising. I mean, I knew this movie was coming out, but I guess I didn't realize that it was finished and only two months away from release.

The movie? Why, it's Hannibal Rising, the movie adaptation of the Thomas Harris novel of the same name. It's not that I'm surprised this book has become a movie, as all Hannibal Lecter properties are always hot, and all of Harris' previous books (a whopping four) have been made into movies. What surprises me is that the movie is coming out in February, and the book came out in December, like three weeks ago. (There's even a promo for the book at the end of the trailer.)

In order for any of this to work, the book has to have been complete for quite some time, as it takes at least six months to make a movie from start to finish. What's even odder is that Harris also wrote the screenplay for the movie, which means he must have written the book and screenplay almost simultaneously. (This is the only logical way for this to work, as any other screenwriter would have had to read the entire book in draft form and then cranked out a screenplay in about five minutes.) By whatever means, I think this is probably the fastest turnaround in history.

What it all comes down to is I've got about a month and a half to read the book before I see the movie. Hopefully, Harris chose to faithfully adapt his own book, and not bitchify it like the screenwriters of Hannibal did to that book. I'm guessing he chose correctly.

Just as a sidenote, I'll also mention I saw a preview for a Mark Walberg movie called Shooter, which appears to be a movie version of the first season of 24. No word on whether or not Marky Mark will have an annoying wife and child to chase around.

The Day Will Come...

While we're on the subject of trailers, I saw a trailer for the remake of The Hitcher the other day. You all know how I feel about remakes...

What's scary about this one is that the original Hitcher came out a mere 20 years ago. With the exception of Red Dragon (the unnecessary remake of Manhunter, which only took 16 years to remake), I can't think of another movie that has hit the remake bin quicker. (I'm not counting American remakes of foreign films, as they get remade as soon as the rights can be secured.)

It doesn't surprise me that this remake Hitcher is the brainchild of Michael Bay, who, when he's not directing his own shitty movies, produces shitty remakes of old horror movies. (Although, if you haven't seen the new trailer for his Transformers movie, prepare to have your head fucking explode.) Because it's not enough to leave something the fuck alone; it has to be given to a new audience years later, to milk as much money as possible from a dead property.

As I said before, what scares me is that The Hitcher came out when I was a teenager, and now I have a remake in my lifetime, which is bad, considering I'm only in my early 30s. We're quickly approaching what I've long predicted as the worst future possible: where all movies are remakes, remakes of remakes even. The Front Page has been remade several times; who's to say that The Amityville Horror doesn't have another remake coming 10 years down the road?

It's a good thing I see as many movies as I do, since I foresee me not watching anything within the next 15 to 20 years. I can't wait.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

New Grindhouse Trailer Online

Check out the new trailer for Tarantino and Rodriguez's Grindhouse. I'm still very much up in the air on this one, but, if the movie's anywhere near as cool as the promotional material (like the faux '70s-era lobby card above) they're releasing, I might not be disappointed.

We'll see.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Poor Man's Versions

In this post, I mentioned the concept of Poor Man's Versions: B-list version of A-list stars. Well, Stuff magazine has latched onto the idea and run with it, with some terribly mixed results.

Some of their comparos are really good, like Skeet Ulrich for Johnny Depp. Others are really terrible, like David Keith for Patrick Swayze. (Considering Swayze's recent output, I think they've got this backwards. But, all things considered, like the caption mentions, I'd take Keith David over both these guys, even if he is the Poor Man's Lawrence Fishburne.) Some are head-scratchingly dated. Lori Singer? Is she still alive? Where's the Meg Foster for Kirstie Alley comparo?

And, with all of these other errors in judgment, they attempt to improve on a classic comparo, by pairing Tom Cruise with Scott Wolf?!? Seriously, if you've ever seen Peter Facinelli, you'd know he is Tom Cruise. Just at a bargain basement price. There is no room to improve on that.

Nice try, Stuff; too witty by half. Maybe you'll do better with your guide to "Those Guys": actors like Colm Feore and Zeljko Ivanek, who are in everything, yet no one knows their names. I sense another Keith David reference coming on...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

"Coming Soon To Home Video..."

Every time I go to Best Buy, I take a look at their massive TV show DVD section, seeing what series have made their way on to video. And I'm always astounded by what I see.

I don't understand why shows like Acapulco H.E.A.T. and Men Behaving Badly, shows that didn't deserve to be watched when they actually aired on TV, get DVD releases, while shows like Birds of Prey and Robbery Homicide Division, shows that probably should be watched and got their plugs pulled too early, are nowhere in sight.

From time to time, the studios surprise us, and release shows like Action! and Freaks and Geeks, much to the joy of their deprived fans. But for every one of those surprises, we get two or three Complete Series of Stacked or Greg the Bunny, which, well, have no fans at all.

And while I'm on the subject, where is the Second Season (or the Pilot Episode, for that matter) DVD release of Twin Peaks? Twenty episodes of the most cult-followed show of the last 20 years are absent, with no release date to speak of. Oh sure, it is possible to find them on video, but that would mean finding the now-extinct Complete Series VHS boxset. And they ain't cheap, depending on where you look.

I'm actually kinda glad that not everything gets released to video. If it did, I wouldn't have anything to bitch about. And that would make my life Hell.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wii Cleans Up

I read a news story the other day about the November sales figures for the Nintendo Wii and the Sony Playstation 3. November was the first month of sales figures for these two consoles, as they both debuted in November. And the figures are somewhat surprising. The Wii outsold the PS3 by a staggering margin of 476,000 to 196,000. Both consoles blew through their initial shipments, and are, for the most part, currently sold out.

Couple reasons why this might have happened. Sony, being Sony, just might have not made or shipped enough, so there were more Wiis available. Or, it might have something to do with the fact that you can buy two Wiis for the price of one PS3. Or, it might be the fact that the Wii's goofy control scheme and the games suited for them actually appear to be fun to play, whereas the PS3 is just an upgraded version of the PS2, with a handful of shitty games no one wants to play.

There's an ironic twist to this story. The overall console sales leader for November? The XBox 360, which has been out for a year, with 511,000. Say what you will about their flubbed launch last year; look who's laughing now.

Oh well. While you're waiting for your console of choice to become available, go ahead and read The Onion's comparison of the Wii and PS3.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Borat Takes Over

Talladega Nights just came out on video the other day, so they're promoting the shit out of it. If you've seen it, you know that Talladega Nights is the story of Ricky Bobby, who's played by Will Ferrell. But, from watching the commercials, you'd think maybe it was all about Borat (or someone bearing a striking resemblance to him).

In a not-so-clever marketing move, Sony has chosen to ride the wave of Borat's success by airing commercials for Talladega Nights that rely heavily on Sacha Cohen, who also happens to play Borat. This is, by no means, revolutionary, as companies do it all the time: ride their product on the coattails of something else that's getting a lot of buzz.

The funny thing about this is that it's probably a wasted effort. Ya see, I don't think that John Q. Hillbillie realizes that Cohen and Borat are the same person. Oh sure, they know who Borat is; he's hiLARious. And they know there's a gay French guy in Talladega Nights, but they have no clue that's the same guy. Sony's trying to get you interested by saying, "Hey, look: Borat's in this movie," but most folks are replying, "Why do they keep showing that French fag?" Don't believe me? Ask the idiots at your workplace; they gots no idea.

So, once again, Bravo, Sony, for doing something that makes no sense whatsoever.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Jim Carrey's New Career Direction

On HDNet's Nothing But Trailers, I keep seeing the preview for Jim Carrey's new movie, The Number 23. And, from all indications, it appears to be a horror movie. And not a funny one.

This is just an all-around odd career choice. I mean, there's a lot of big-time funny men, like Tom Hanks and Steve Martin, who have transitioned into more serious fare. (Martin may be a bad example, because, if you've seen his recent output, he stopped trying to be taken seriously long, long ago.) But I don't remember any of those guys being in a horror movie.

Not that Carrey couldn't pull it off. If you've seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, you know he can play it straight, but a horror movie?

I'll guess we'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Dumbest "Very Special Episode" Ever

I don't watch USA Network very often, except for the occasional episode of House or Futurama when the choose to air them, so I don't catch a lot of their regular programming. However, during the aforementioned times when I do happen to pop by the network, I catch some of their ads. And one, in particular, makes me wonder what the fuck USA is doing.

On December 22, USA will air an episode of Monk, which is no big deal, since they do it all the time, but, this night, they'll air two. And not two different ones, but the same one. And not just one and then an encore (like FX does with all of their shows), but one in color, and one in black-and-white.

My only question is this: Why? This has to be the dumbest idea in the history of television programming, bar none.

Oh, and be sure to stop by the official site, and vote for your favorite version, as well as learn about chromophobia, the fear of color. I know I won't.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Paris Is The Sensible One

Last week, if you only use the internet for "work" or "research," or if you live in someplace like Dafur, which doesn't have internet, you probably missed out on the fact that last week was all about Britney Spears' vagina. I couldn't look at a website without seeing it. And, the fact that she kept showing it (at least three times that I saw) made it all the more unavoidable.

But, while most people who covered the story focused on the fact that, well, there's Brit's vagina, I noticed something else; namely, the picture above. It appears as though Paris Hilton may actually be trying to keep Britney from exposing herself yet again. Which is odd, because I'd never figured Paris to be a model of decorum and etiquette. I've seen Paris getting tit fucked, and yet, here she is, keeping her BFF from exposing herself. And isn't that what friends are for?

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Casino Royale Story

Seeing as Casino Royale is on its way to becoming the highest-grossing Bond movie ever, I thought it might be time to reveal the story of how Ian Fleming's first Bond novel finally made its way on to the screen some 50 years after it was written. It's not merely a tale of "they just never got around to it"; it's a 40 year-long epic in the making, that required three corporate mergers, the embittered screenwriter of Thunderball, and the film rights to Spiderman in order to come into being.

So, without further ado: The Casino Royale Story.

Casino Royale was written by Ian Fleming, and was published in 1953, the first of 14 Bond novels Fleming would write before his death in the mid-'60s. In 1955, Fleming sold the film rights for the book to two producers, who, despite their best efforts, were never able to get a film version made. The rights would eventually end up in the hands of Charles Friedman, who would sit on the property for nearly 10 years. (More on him later.)

In the meantime, Fleming sold the remaining film rights to his current and future novels to Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli, who then made a deal with United Artists to produce a series of James Bond movies, the first being Dr. No in 1962. Subsequent films came out about once a year, and were incredibly successful.

During this period, the most contested Bond property in history came into play. No, not Casino Royale (which would be the logical guess, since that's what this story's about), but Thunderball. Thunderball started life as a screenplay for a Bond movie, written by Fleming and a man named Kevin McClory. McClory unsucessfully tried to get Thunderball made into a movie for a number of years. Following McClory's failure, Fleming sold the Bond novels to Saltzman and Broccoli, and went ahead and adapted Thunderball into a novel. McClory, angered by Fleming fucking around with material he thought was partly his, successfully sued Fleming, and was given the rights to all nearly all aspects of Thunderball. (This lawsuit also prevented Thunderball from being made into the first Bond film.) And, after unsuccessfully trying to get it made into a film once again, he ended up going to EON (Saltzman and Broccoli's production company) to get his movie made. As part of his agreement with EON, McClory was prohibited from doing anything with the Thunderball property for 10 years after the movie's release. His anger over this stipulation would cause McClory to become a thorn in the Bond franchise's side for more than 40 years, and eventually be integral in bringing Casino Royale to the screen.

In the late '60s, seeing the success of the Bond franchise, Charles Friedman went to EON in an attempt to get Casino Royale made into a movie. EON, soured by their collaboration with McClory, took a pass. Friedman went on to produce a comedic version of the book at Columbia. Because it was not made by EON, and is a comedy, no one has ever considered it one of the "official" Bond films. The property would remain dormant at Columbia until...

Let's jump ahead about 30 years: United Artists (which, due to bankruptcy in the early '80s, was now owned by MGM) continued to make Bond films; Kevin McClory had finally made a version of Thunderball in 1983, now called Never Say Never Again (yet another film not considered to be an "official" Bond movie); and Columbia Pictures was now a part of the growing Sony empire. Pretty much all was good in the Bond World.

That is, until the mid-'90s, when McClory got the bug in his ass that he wanted to make Thunderball yet again. He went to Sony, who owned the only other Bond property not owned by MGM. Together, he and Sony cooked up a plan to start a "rival" Bond franchise to compete against MGM's. (Remember that nonsense in the mid-'90s about Tarantino directing a Bond movie? Well, this is what that was all about.) Needless to say, MGM was quick to file suit to prevent this from happening. And, MGM might have lost that suit, seeing as Sony and McClory were the rightful owners of the properties they intended to produce, had they not owned the one thing Sony wanted more than a Bond movie: the movie rights to Spiderman, which MGM had acquired when Carolco went bankrupt.

In exchange for the rights to Spiderman, Sony relinquished any claim to the Bond franchise, giving MGM the rights to everything James Bond. This allegedly also included Thunderball, a fact McClory still contests. (It's worth noting that Sony went on to make two Spiderman films that grossed roughly half of what the entire Bond franchise has grossed, and MGM went on to make two Bond films that, well...they should have kept Spiderman.)

Which brings us up to 2005. Kirk Kerkorian, the billionaire who had owned MGM, on and off, for 35 years, decided it was time to sell MGM for the fourth time. And, after a brief bidding war, MGM ended up in the hands of (surprise, surprise) Sony. With the acquisition came the rights to the Bond movies, including Casino Royale, a property it and Columbia Pictures had previously owned for 35 years.

Which is how it came to pass that Sony finally got to make the "official" version of the last original Bond property, 50 years after the original book was published.

And I bet you thought they just picked that one out of a hat.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Eight Films To (Not So Much) Die For

For the past month or so, they've been airing commercials for something called "Eight Films to Die For," a three day film festival of undistributed horror movies. Honestly, it sounded like a good time, but, like most fun things, I didn't think it would come anywhere near The JVL.

But, turns out, it did. Unfortunately, I found out about it on the last day of the festival. Fortunately, they were airing encores on Monday and Tuesday. And this is how I was able to see two of the films.

The first film I saw was Rinne (or Reincarnation for those of you, like myself, who don't speak Japanese). Rinne is the newest movie from Takashi Shimizu, who apparently got tired of having made The Grudge roughly six times, and decided to make something new. This one tells the story of a movie crew who begins shooting the story of a notorious murder at what appears to be a haunted hotel. (Actually, it isn't so different from The Grudge at all.) It's pretty standard shit. The best thing about the movie, though, was that I think I was the only person that knew this movie would be in subtitled Japanese. ("Oh, this isn't in English?" was heard throughout the crowd.) If you don't like subtitles either, not to worry: It will be in English when they remake it as a Rachel Bilson or Alexis Bledel vehicle in a couple of years. I can't wait.

The second movie (and I should call it the "#2 Movie," because it was pretty close to shit) I saw was Dark Ride, about a bunch of dumb kids who hole up in an abandoned dark ride that was the scene of a number of murders years earlier. It's really not very good. It has a ridiculously convoluted plot, in which a number of coincidences conspire to get a number of dumb kids killed; screenwriting at its worst. And why is this movie called Dark Ride, as a dark ride is a funhouse that you ride around in a little cart on tracks. This place is just a number of spooky rooms connected by a bunch of hallways...with no tracks. Dark Walk may have been a more appropriate title. Its one saving grace was that it gave a funny new meaning to the term "giving head."

All in all, not a very good experience. Instead of Dark Ride, I wish they would have encored Wicked Little Things, which is not only a Zombie Movie, but a Kid Zombie Movie, where all the zombies are children. That's oh so wrong, but oh so right, all at the same time.


Actually, I hate Duke, and any sycophantic cocksucker who claims to like them should have to choke on their own balls. That's why it was a seriously great time for me to see my Golden Eagles beat their asses.

This is somewhat of a big deal. This is the first time Marquette has played Duke since they lost to them in the '94 NCAA tourney. And, this time, they beat them rather handily. (In all fairness, that '94 Duke team had Grant Hill when he was the best player in college ball, and this Duke team, well, they could use Grant Hill right about now.)

But, we did beat them, and, on Monday, when the polls come out, I expect we might crack the top 10, something we haven't done this early in the season forever. Should be a good time.

Oh, and Fuck Duke.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Mighty White Of Ya, CBS

In this post, I claimed that the new Ray Liotta show, Smith, wasn't very good. And, CBS agreed with me, and canceled it. Now, usually when a show gets canceled in such a prompt way, it just goes away, until someone buys the DVD rights and releases that one-disc "The Complete Series" DVD. I suspected the same fate would befall Smith.

Needless to say, I was rather surprised to see, during a random look through their website, that CBS has put the entire series of seven episodes (four of which never aired) in their on-demand video section. Now, you can see just how terribly the series would have turned out, just like CBS did!

Check 'em out; I know I will.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Lost Gets Lost

For those of you excited to tune in tonight to get your Lost fix: don't bother. Last week's episode was the last we'll see until February. (Apparently, Lost only airs during sweeps periods now.) It will be replaced in the schedule by Groundhog Day: The Show, with Taye Diggs in the Bill Murray role.

I don't understand why ABC would do this. They don't seem to understand that a majority of TV watchers are idiots. When they tune in on Wednesday at 8, and see that Lost is gone, and they don't see any ads for it, they'll assume it's been canceled. This is why shows that get moved from their usual timeslots end up getting canceled: People don't know they're on anymore, and don't watch them.

I also don't understand ABC would split up the season of its third highest-rated show in order to air a mid-season replacement in its timeslot. (I refuse to acknowledge Dancing with the Stars as a show.) What if The Taye Diggs Hour turns out to be a dog, and they are stuck airing this piece of shit until Lost returns? What are they gonna do, air another night of Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy reruns?

I'd say that ABC was the dumbest network on TV, but at least they're smarter than FOX, who put the premieres of their two most-popular shows, 24 and American Idol, deep into January. That's stooppid.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Famous People Call My House

It's no secret that celebrities stump for political candidates. They sometimes even go out on the campaign trail for them. It is odd, however, when a celebrity calls your house on behalf of a candidate.

The other day, there was a message on the machine from none other than Bradley Whitford, the star of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. He was calling on behalf of some candidate whose name I don't even remember. I was so surprised that Bradley called that I didn't even pay attention to whom he was calling about.

I did notice that when he called he said, "Hi, this is Bradley Whitford, from The West Wing," as if him being on West Wing lent him some sort of political credo. As a TV buff, I think he's less credible due to the fact that he's not even on West Wing anymore. He might as well have said, "Hi, this is Bradley Whitford, from Billy Madison"; just about the same thing.

An odd experience all around. I'm hoping for a call from Jane Kaczmarek in 2008.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Good To See Someone Listens To Me

In this post, I lamented the fact that the theatres in The JVL had taken a pass on The Prestige, in order to keep theatre space open for Pirates of the Caribbean 2.

Just wanted to follow up and let you know that they took my advice and made the change. Two weeks later than i would have hoped, but it eventually happened. I know y'all were concerned, but there's no reason for concern any more.

BTW, The Prestige is very good (if not highly predictable), and Borat is fucking hilarious (if not slightly staged). Check 'em out.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Hasta Lumbago, Saddam

Today, it was announced that Saddam Hussein was indeed guilty of war crimes, and was sentenced to death by hanging.

I'm glad they tried this guy in another country, because spending my tax money to reach the most foregone conclusion in the history of jurisprudence would have pissed me off.

Oh well; it was a nice run while it lasted. See you in Hell, Saddam.

Friday, November 03, 2006

United Artists Has New Bosses

Earlier in the week, it was announced that Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner, who were booted from Paramount just mere months ago, have been tagged to head up United Artists. Wagner will be CEO, and Cruise will have some say over the production slate, as well as having a place to star in and produce movies.

It's rather ironic that Cruise and Wagner weren't good enough to merely produce movies for Paramount, yet are good enough to run an entire studio. This is how movies like Battlefield Earth end up getting made.

I thought of something else when I heard this. Even though Cruise can no longer make any Mission: Impossible movies, since those rights are owned by Paramount, he's not entirely out of the spy game. United Artists owns the rights to the Bond franchise. Cruise could make himself the next James Bond if he wanted to. (Scary, but true.)

We'll see how it all pans out, I suppose.

J.J. Abrams Has Found New Ways To Fuck With Us

While I'm on the subject of Tom Cruise, I thought I'd pass along something I noticed while watching M:I:3 (that's a lot of colons) the other day.

I was watching M:I:3 with the commentary on, as I'd already seen it and didn't really need to know what the characters were saying. Cruise and Abrams talked for the entire 130 minute or so running time, all the way through the credits. So, I listened the whole way through.

As I was browsing through the credits while they commented on them, I happened to notice something odd. At the bottom of the "Producers Would Like To Thank" section, I noticed a thanks for The Hanso Foundation, which, as fans of the show will know, is the fictional entity responsible for the crazy shit on Lost, which also happens to be an Abrams show.

Can you tell that Abrams has let the success of Lost go to his head? I'm surprised one of the characters on Six Degrees doesn't work for The Hanso Foundation. Might give someone a reason to watch that show.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I Can't Believe They Made Another One

I found out something somewhat disheartening today: Eli Roth has apparently made Hostel, Part Deux.

Let's go at this another way. There's a movie called The Blair Witch Project (maybe you've heard of it) that a couple of guys made for around $40,000. It went on to make about $150 million in the US alone. To this day, it is the most profitable movie ever. And, while Artisan, the company that released it, was quick to make a studio-produced sequel, those two guys didn't try to cash in on the success of their movie. And a good movie, at that. Sure, its "concept" was co-opted from Cannibal Apocalypse, and the acting and dialogue were slightly above laughable, but it's still a good, scary movie that those two guys didn't try to milk for all it's worth.

Which brings us back to Hostel 2. The original didn't make a hell of a lot of money (although I'll admit it was profitable), and it was shitty by most definitions of the word. No reason to make a sequel. Yet, we're going to get one. (It is being distributed by Lionsgate, which would distribute a film of a man taking a shit if they thought it could make money.)

The most disheartening news is that this sequel appears to be more exploitive than the original, if that were possible. It has an all-girl cast, that will go through the same ordeal in the same country (wow, that's original) as the fellas did in the original. Just what we need: some quality murder and torture of women.

This has "shit" written all over it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Making Some Odd Movie Choices

I was looking through the local movie listings, thinking maybe I wanted to see The Prestige. The Girl had expressed some interest as well. But, my search proved fruitless, as neither of the theatres in town here are playing the movie. Which seems odd to me, as The Prestige was the #1 movie at the box office last week.

What's odder still is that one of our theatres, rather than have one showing of The Prestige, decided to go with three showings of Pirates of the Caribbean 2, which has been out for three and a half months. It comes out on video in another month. I suspect that most people who are going to see it have seen it, since it's already the sixth highest-grossing movie ever; I really can't see a high enough turnout to justify three shows. Yet, apparently, theatres here in The JVL won't even show new movies for fear that folks might not be able to get their Pirates fix, being such big fans and all.

What a goofy fucking place this is.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wisconsin: Home Of The Fuck-Up

My adopted home state of Wisconsin is known for producing cranberries and speed skaters. But, I'm seeing we're starting to produce something else: social misfits that make the national news. We had the man who tried to kill Teddy Roosevelt, the kid that stole the actual film version of The Phantom Menace, the three kids who dug up a corpse for a little sexual gratification, we've even had a couple of cannibals. Now, we've got this adorable little brat pictured to the left.

Little Timmy (or whatever his name is), from Antigo, WI (which is in the uncivilized part of WI) somehow managed to crawl inside one of those crane games, when he felt that actually going inside the machine would be a much easier way to get a stuffed Sponge-Bob than using that annoying crane. He was trapped in the machine for a couple of hours, before being rescued by firefighters.

Add one more dumbass to the list.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

It All Makes Sense Now

A somewhat confusing aspect of Grey's Anatomy makes sense to me now. Now I understand why it was awkward for Meredith to sleep with George; why George doesn't seem to have any issues with having three hot female roommates; why George would rather go home and hang out with said roommates than have sex with Callie.

The reason? Because he's gay.

Grey's star T.R. Knight, who plays George on the show, recently confirmed that he is gay. I guess he thought it would be a good idea to confirm this after he was involuntarily outed during the much-publicized fight between co-stars Isaiah Washington and Patrick Dempsey.

I find it somewhat odd that, even though Knight just now came out in real life, and doesn't actually play a gay character on the show, the writers seem to have written him as a gay. I wouldn't be surprised if George came out on the show as well.

You watch; it'll happen.

Friday, October 20, 2006

It's About Fucking Time

It's good to see that the industry "leader" in software and technology needed 10 years and seven versions of Internet Explorer to include a feature that every other browser on the planet has had for years.

On Wednesday, Microsoft released Internet Explorer 7, now featuring tabbed browsing. With this upgrade, it now joins the ranks of Firefox, Netscape, Opera, and, well, any other browser you can come up with to include that feature. It's good that Microsoft is right on the cusp of cutting-edge technology. (The Opera browser features an integrated BitTorrent downloader. That will probably be a dead format by the time Microsoft incorporates it into IE.)

In fact, if you look at all of the new features in IE 7, like integrated search and better security, you'll see that Microsoft looked at every browser out there, and included every feature they didn't have. Just years later. (I stopped using IE a number of years ago for many of these same reasons.)

I will give Microsoft props for one thing, though: They have the nicest-looking browser out of all of them; the other browsers look like the open-code, user-generated applications they really are. I do find it somewhat odd that the new, almost concurrent releases of iTunes and IE seem to have traded looks: iTunes took on the harsh, gun-metal grey appearance of IE, while IE went with the soft, luminescent blue appearance of iTunes.

We'll see how long it take for Microsoft to update IE again. I'm sure we can watch all the other browsers out there and see exactly what that new release will consist of.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Steve Wynn Is A Mongoloid Retard

Steve Wynn has made a lot of money in the casino business. His money has allowed him to buy one of the more impressive art collections in the world. Unfortunately, it hasn't allowed him to buy any sort of brain.

Yesterday, Wynn's office confirmed a story that Wynn accidentally destroyed the Picasso painting Le Reve, when he punched a hole in it with his elbow. As if that wasn't stupid enough, he had just finalized the sale of the painting for $139 million.

That's one pricey hole.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

An Almighty Fuckload Of Money

Last week, The L.A. Times reported that Evan Almighty, the upcoming sequel to Bruce Almighty, may end up costing upwards of $250 million, once all production and marketing costs are figured in.

How the fuck is this movie gonna cost $250 million? Jim Carrey cost $20 million to star in the first one, and its budget was a third as much. James Cameron built a near-life-sized replica of the Titanic that broke in half and sunk on command, and that movie only cost $200 million. (And Titanic made all that money back, so that's a wash.) So, what the fuck could you possibly put in this movie to make it cost more than that? (Hint: it ain't Steve Carell)

I think we may have a new All-Time Money Loser on our hands. Unless Steve figures out how to open a movie in a real fucking hurry. But I don't see that happening. And I don't think the eight bucks that I'll throw its way is going to help.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Aaron Sorkin: Take Note

In this post, I lamented on my much-anticipated Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip not being as good as it should be. I think it's got a lot to do with the fact that Sorkin has merely taken The West Wing out of The White House, and recontextualized it into a sketch comedy show. I think this same cast could perform a script from The West Wing, and you wouldn't really know the difference.

It seems, however, that Tina Fey (of all people) actually has the upper hand in the Battle of Shows About a Saturday Night Live-like Show with 30 Rock. Fey has done the smart thing, and cast people who were actually on SNL (herself included), and brought along Lorne Michaels to produce as well. And, for a show about a comedy show, it happens to be funny. (Is it just me, or are the "sketches" on Studio 60 painfully unfunny?)

There's a lot of sly, witty humor going on in 30 Rock. While Studio 60 takes place on the fictional network NBS, 30 Rock actually takes place at NBC. (Which I find odd, since both shows actually air on NBC.) They also take jabs at NBC's corporate parent, GE. (The GE Trivection Oven may be the greatest fake product placement ever.) I like that Alec Baldwin plays a GE executive on the show, and is the voice of GE in real life. I also see an upcoming defammation lawsuit from Martin Lawrence for Tracy Morgan's thinly-veiled portrayal of him.

The biggest thing it has going for it is that I could actually see this stuff happening on an SNL-esque show. As I mentioned earlier, the subject matter on Studio 60 seems to outweigh the setting. When they were still both on SNL, I really can't see Tina Fey and Lorne Michaels going through a lot of the stuff that Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford go through in the same roles on their show. It's too serious.

Sorkin should probably watch a lot of 30 Rock; he might learn how to make his show work. Still great, but still not right.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The New Grindhouse Trailer

As most movie idiots like myself know, the next project for both Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino is Grindhouse, a double-feature homage to exploitation films of the '70s, complete with Coming Attractions between the two halves. Here's the first look:

Not sure, but this may be the Best Movie Ever, or The Worst Movie Ever; looks like it could go either way. (Rose McGowan with an M16A4 for a leg may be pushing it a little.) And, having some knowledge about this film, this whole trailer appears to be from Planet Terror, the Rodriguez half of the film. Which tells me that there isn't a lot of footage from the Tarantino half yet, or that it's completely unwatchable.

Unwatchable or not, as long as it's better than Kill Bill, I'll be happy. Hell, THIS is better than Kill Bill:

And that's pretty pathetic.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Oh, The Humanity

When I heard that a small plane had crashed into a skyscraper in downtown New York City on the five year, one month anniversary of 9/11, I figured some Al-Qaeda nutjob just got the date wrong for launching a commemorative terrorist strike on New York. But turns out in was actually Yankees pitcher Corey Lidle, who, I assume, other than his team getting their ass whooped in the playoffs, really had no reason to launch a terrorist attack on New York. So, must have been an accident.

The only comment I have on this tragedy is that I'm glad he waited to crash into a building as long as he did, since I had him on my fantasy baseball team, and him dying would have fucked up my rotation.

That would have been tragic.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

While We're On The Subject...

I thought maybe I'd give my views on this fall's new shows (at least what I've seen so far).

Six Degrees (ABC)
JJ Abrams tries to make an entire series out of the "six degrees" aspect that makes Lost such a great show. And it makes for a terrible show. Abrams should maybe stop producing TV shows, and spend more time on the new Star Trek movie.

Heroes (NBC)
Pretty much Unbreakable as a TV show. It's actually pretty good. I especially liked the little Japanese guy who travels five weeks into the future, gets picked up for the murder of a guy who predicted a terrorist attack on New York, and then returns to the past just as New York gets destroyed. Good stuff. The only thing that will kill it is if all these "heroes" get together as an X-Men-ish group, but, it's still watchable now.

'Til Death (Fox)
This show was much better when Ray Romano played the Brad Garrett role. It's still funny, if not insanely derivative. And this makes how many sitcoms Joely Fisher has been in? At least 50?

Smith (CBS)
This show is the only reason I've watched CBS since, shit, Falcon Crest went off the air. And it really wasn't worth the wait. I mean, I like Ray Liotta and all, but he just isn't Ray enough on this show. (Ray Liotta fans know exactly what I'm talking about.) May require a couple more viewings. The episode where the guys break into a National Guard armory carrying a kitten was adorable, though.

Shark (CBS)
In truth, I found another reason to watch CBS. James Woods, in recent years, has dialed it down quite a bit. I was beginning to miss the old coked-out, manic Jimmy Woods. But, he's back here. Shark would be infinitely better if Woods was allowed to say "fuck" every other word, but this is network TV. And decent network TV, at that. Ray Liotta should take some tips from Woods, and play up his lunatic tendencies.

Standoff (Fox)
When you make a show called Standoff, you might expect the show to focus more on standoffs, and less on whether the two main characters are fucking. No such luck here. Not good at all.

Friday Night Lights (NBC)
Movie-to-TV show adaptations are shaky at best, but I got a good feeling about this one. I have a obsidian heart, and an adamantium spine, but I'll admit I got a little choked up in the last 20 minutes. Fuckin' sports shows love to do that shit: play with mens' emotions. If every episode is like this, I might actually think about shedding a tear. Just maybe. And it's nice to see that Connie Britton made the movie-to-TV show transition. Very rare these days; brings some credibility to the proceedings.

Justice (Fox)
Yet another slick Jerry Bruckheimer procedural show, this time with defense attorneys. And this show does what no other lawyer show does, and that's portray defense attorneys for what they are: lawyers, not bleeding hearts out to save the world pro bono. It also features a cast made up almost entirely of actors from shows canceled in the last year or so. Which is great, since one of them is Victor Garber, and him reading aloud from The Washington Post would be more interesting than most of the shit on TV. Well worth a watch.

Dexter (Showtime, of all places)
Who knew that the best pilot I've seen all year would be on fucking Showtime, the red-headed stepchild of premium cable? What's not to love about this premise: a forensic pathologist who moonlights as a vigilante serial killer of other serial killers, all while playing a cat-and-mouse game with yet another serial killer. If the rest of the season delivers as much as the pilot did, this may be the best show on TV. Along with Weeds and Bullshit!, it's the only reason to watch Showtime.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

By Reader Request

I consider myself an Aaron Sorkin fan. I've enjoyed everything he's written (with the exception of Sports Night, which, I don't know, just didn't seem that good). So, needless to say, I was pretty stoked when he decided to come back to television with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

The verdict is still out on this one. The writing is great, but maybe Sorkin just isn't suited for this material. It's nowhere near as smart or well-written as The West Wing (which won the Best Drama Emmy every year Sorkin, who also wrote every episode, was with the show). There's a weird religious undertone to the show which seems out of place.

The casting also leaves something to be desired. Oh sure, Bradley Whitford is great in the Bradley Whitford part, and Matt Perry has dialed the Chandler down enough to be entertaining, but some of the other choices just don't work. Allison Janney would have been much better in Amanda Peet's role. (And why can you still see Amanda's teeth, even when her mouth is closed?) And Steven Weber just doesn't work in a role that, well, Tim Daly should have played. (How's that for a Wings mix-and-match?) And don't even get me started on the "cast." They should pick up Horatio Sanz and Chris Parnell now that they've been kicked off SNL; at least those guys have actually been on a sketch comedy show.

Like I said, verdict's still out on this one. Hopefully, even though it's doing so shitty in the ratings, it will stick around long enough to turn into something good. I sure hope so; there's gotta be at least one decent thing to watch on TV.

Monday, September 25, 2006

CSI Got Pantsed

Ever since CSI moved to its Thursday 9/8c timeslot, it has never lost that timeslot. In fact, it is consistently the highest-rated show of the year. (Actually, American Idol is the highest-rated show, but I won't even acknowledge that as a TV show.)

Then, something funny happened. ABC decided that Grey's Anatomy had gotten its sealegs, and no longer needed its Desperate Housewives lead-in, and moved Grey's against CSI. And, guess what: CSI lost.

Mind you, both show garnered more than 20 million viewers, which is a lot for just two shows, but CSI still lost.

I've got one thing to say about this whole thing: Fuck you, Jerry Bruckheimer; stings, don't it, big boy. There's a reason that Law & Order is no longer a top 10 show, and I think you just figured out why. Bravo.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Reason #2,596 Not To Remake A Movie

I'm not telling you anything new when I say I don't like remakes. If you want to see a movie, go fucking see the original; it's always better than the remake. And, of course, it's the case with the remake of The Wicker Man.

First off, there's no reason to remake The Wicker Man. When the original was released in 1973, it was not well-received. Only in the 33 years since its release has a gained an avid cult following. A CULT following, meaning that really no one has still seen it. Popular movies like Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre have huge followings, and the greedy cocksuckers who produce the remakes know they can mine the nostalgia of the original films to line their own dirty fucking pockets. (Bitter much?) But Wicker Man? No one saw it the first time around; who's going to see the remake? (Me, apparently, but that might have something to do with my borderline retardation.)

Of course, as is the case with all remakes, the producers feel they have something new to bring to the movie, and feel the need to change the original story. And this is what completely destroys The Wicker Man. Rather than, like in the original, having a plain old pagan society, you have a pagan society where the men are subservient to the women. Not a big deal, but it's a detail that doesn't improve the movie at all; makes it a little worse, actually. And, while the concept of pagans, dressed up like animals, singing and dancing about, may have mirrored the hippy, dippy vibe of 1973, that same concept comes off as pretty hokey 33 years later. (At least we don't have to experience Christopher Lee singing and dancing in this one. It's a scary thing.)

The worst change that Neil LaBute, who wrote and directed the movie, has made is that he extracted all of the intelligence from Anthony Shaffer's original story. The whole Christian v. Pagan, Science v. Religion argument, that made the original film at least moderately interesting, is gone. There's no reason for Nick Cage to dislike the citizens of Summersisle, other than the fact the women don't like men. Ed Woodward didn't like them in the original because he was a devout Catholic. At the ending of the original, Ed Woodward actually postulates a scientific explanation for the crops failing. Nick Cage just goes out screaming. That's some terrible writing.

At least LaBute was smart enough not to bitch out on the ending of the original. Turning it into an feel-good ending would have been a killable offense. However, he did feel the need to tack on an absolutely idiotic epilogue that really blows the air out of the surprising ending. Way to go, moron.

All and all, a pretty rough experience. Avoid like poison ivy.

Something Else I Learned From The Wicker Man

The actress pictured above, whose name is Kate Beahen, and plays the mother of the missing girl in The Wicker Man, is not the same actress as this woman,

whose name is Vera Farmiga, and got a blow job from Paul Walker in Running Scared.

Learn something new every day.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I Guess This Makes My Morten Andersen Jersey Good Again

Earlier this week, the Atlanta Falcons announced that they were bringing in a new kicker to take over placekicking duties for kicking phenom Michael Koenen after the Falcons discovered that he couldn't actually kick fieldgoals. So, they brought in the best kicker they've ever had (and possibly the best kicker ever): 46 year old Morten Andersen.

Since Mort is back in the league, I guess I can bring my Andersen jersey out of retirement. Mind you, it's a Saints jersey, and Andersen hasn't played for the Saints in 10 years, but, hey, it's a Morten Andersen jersey. You find another one of those in existence, and I'll give you a kick in the balls for being a smartass.

Take that how you will.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Change This/That Channel!

There's a reality show on TV called Flip This House that I enjoy. It's about a Charleston, SC, property development company that buys properties, fixes them up, and sell them for a profit. Hence, the title, Flip This House. Until recently, I had no idea what channel this show was on. I would just see it in the TiVo guide and flip to it.

So, the other day, while flipping through the guide, I see there's a marathon of what I thought was Flip This House on TLC. I go to TLC, and find out that it's an entirely different show. Same concept, different show. This is when The Girl informed me that Flip This House was on A&E. What I was watching was Flip That House, not Flip This House. How confusing is that!

This is made even more confusing by the fact that A&E has two other versions of Flip This House that they air. So, when you flip to it, you never know what you're going to get.

Oh well. I guess that just means I watch too much TV.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

iTunes 7.0 Is Pretty Much Shit

In the auto industry, every so often, they come out with a new model of a car. Sure, cars change every year, but, every five years or so, they junk it out and come out with a whole new version. Software is the same way. There are lots of upgrades, but they do occasionally come out with brand new versions. And iTunes, which has been essentially unchanged since its creation, is "all new for 2007." And it's all bad.

I really liked iTunes 6.0: the luminescent buttons and scrollbars that glowed blue when you used them; the simple drop-down interface on the left side. It was a nice piece of software. ITunes 7.0: not so much. The blue buttons have been replaced by ugly gun-metal grey ones that do no sort of glowing; the buttons on the top and bottom aren't even the same color, kinda throwing the pleasing aesthetic of the whole thing out of whack. The menu bar on the left side is now broken up into different categories that drop down that don't even fit in the space allotted in the sidebar. When you plug in your iPod, instead of going to its library, it brings up the setup screen, which is great, if you want to change the settings on your iPod every time you plug it in, but mildly annoying if you just want to listen to some fucking music.

iTunes 7 does have some nice new features, however. I like how you can flip through all of the album covers and see what songs you have from those albums. And I like the counter that shows how many unlistened to podcasts and unfinished downloads you have. But, other than that, there is no improvement on the old iTunes; just more to hate.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

George Lucas Is A Motherfucker

I respect an artist's integrity and the choices he makes to protect it, but, when his choices just fuck with people, that's just wrong. And George Lucas is that kinda guy.

None of what follows will be any surprise to Star Wars fans, but I'll recount the whole thing just for posterity's sake. It all started back in 1997, when George Lucas decided to rerelease the three original Star Wars movies as a gear-up for the impending release of The Phantom Menace. Instead of doing just a plain, old rerelease, he went back and reedited and changed the movies to correct things that he thought were wrong with the movies. (I, personally, never had any problems with these new versions, except for Star Wars. Not to sound like a fucking film geek, but the "Greedo shot first" thing is gay.)

Following the theatrical release, the "revisions" were released on video, but VHS only; no DVD. These were now the "official" versions of the films. The original versions (like the aforementioned version of Star Wars that I preferred, that had had seven previous video releases) were no longer available. They also came out with a fourth version of the trilogy boxset that was nothing but the revisions. But, once again, no DVD. Disappointing, but Star Wars fans made due.

Jump ahead seven years, and now there's a DVD boxset of the revised movies. Seeing as VHS is essentially a dead format, this is huge news, as no one owned them on DVD until now, and Lucas was even nice enough to add a ton of extras and even make additional changes to the movies (like adding Hayden Christensen at the end of Jedi). Needless to say, everyone (including me, who had never owned any of the previous versions of the movies) went out and bought that set. Even if you preferred the old versions, you bought them, as they're the only thing available on DVD.

Until tomorrow, that is. On September 12, Lucasfilms is releasing the DVDs again, this time with the original versions of the films as a bonus disc for each movie. Remember that original version of Star Wars that I liked? Well, now I can own it on DVD. Too bad I already own that version I don't care for so much (and I don't buy shit twice).

I have one thing to say on this whole thing: Make up your fucking mind. You're either going to go with the originals or the revisions. Stop rereleasing the fucking things. If you're going to take them away, take them away forever; don't say they're gone, and then release them a year and a half later. In fact, if you'd've done this the first time, you could have saved some money by not having to release these things twice in such a short time.

Oh well. When you have all the money in the world, and sole control of the most popular movies in the world, I guess you can do whatever the fuck you want. Even if it means acting like a real motherfucker to your fans. Thanks bunches, George.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

No One Really Cares

Earlier in the week, Brad Pitt made the announcement that, unless the government took steps to approve gay marriage, he and Angelina Jolie would not get married.

Hmmm, let me check something out. The world didn't end, there were no disasters, no national guard troops deployed to Malibu, no new legislation was passed: everything remained the same after this Earth-shattering news. I guess no one cared.

Not that I'm surprised. It's just another case of some fucking celebrity thinking that what he says is important in any kind of way. It's especially worse coming from a guy who left his hot wife and a life of luxury in California to go to deepest, darkest Africa and carry around a baby with a woman who's been around the block more times than the mail man.

Sounds like someone I'd take all my advice from, seeing as he doesn't even know what a good trade is.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Best Buy Will Totally Anally Rape You

Seeing as I was about to upgrade to HD cable, and TiVo has an impending HD box coming out, I figured it was about time to upgrade to free up some of those component video inputs on my TV. So, I decided to buy an HD DVD player. Mind you, not a true HD DVD player, like the one Toshiba makes, as those players are insanely expensive, and there are two competing formats (Blu-Ray is the other) and I don't want to get stuck with Beta (if you know what I mean), but an "up-convert" model that plays conventional DVDs in HD. I did some on-line shopping, and found a Samsung DVD/VCR player that did what I wanted at Best Buy. (I found a Sony that was virtually the same as my current player, but, for some reason, Best Buy only offers that one on-line.) So, of I went to Best Buy.

The first thing I looked for was an HDMI cable, the wondrous audio/video connector that makes 1080p resolution possible. And Best Buy had plenty of them. Unfortunately, some of them cost as much as the player itself. Their cheapest one was $60. Nigga, please. (I later picked up an HDMI cable, a surge protector, and an S-video cable for $45 at Wal-Mart. Sixty bucks, my ass.)

The next problem I ran into was they didn't appear to have the model I wanted in stock. Oh sure, they have the demo model, but none in stock. Every other DVD player, they got. But not this one. I waited approximately six hours for someone to help me, and, finally, I was given the one I wanted. (I don't know what it is with Best Buy: If you're just browsing, they're all over you; if you're buying, it's like a fucking ghost town.)

So, I get it home, get everything hooked up, only played discs distributed by Anchor Bay. Which is fine, if I only wanted to watch The Beyond or Army of Darkness, but not so good for everything else. (I will say that The Beyond looks absolutely great in 1080i; too bad it doesn't improve the quality of the actual movie any.) Needless to say, I was mildly pissed.

Back to Best Buy I went, where I exchanged it for another one, hoping that this was just a problem with that unit, and not every one of that model. When I got it home, this one worked. (Thank Christ.) And everything I played on it looked great. Everyone (and by "everyone," I mean "me") was happy.

If you're still rolling with the old analog equipment, you pretty much need to upgrade as soon as possible. And if you're cable isn't HD, you need to get that, too; you have no idea what you're missing. Just maybe avoid Best Buy, if possible.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Crocodile Hunter Finally Gets His Comeuppance

Talk about irony: Steve Irwin, who has wrestled crocodiles, grabbed poisonous snakes with his bare hands, and had countless run-ins with hundreds of dangerous beasts, finally got killed by a stingray, an animal I myself (and thousands of others) have had a non-lethal encounters with at Sea World.

Seriously, it was only a matter of time. You'd think maybe he would have learned from the example of Roy Horn, who got mauled by a white tiger that actually lived with the guy. If your own pets are going to try and kill you, don't be surprised when a totally random stingray decides to kill your ass.

Oh well. It was a nice run while it lasted. Have fun in that great animal sanctuary in the sky, Steve.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

And The Winners Were...

Since I was dumb enough to write this post, I suppose I should be dumb enough to write a follow-up.

Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour)
So, South Park didn't win. But neither did Family Guy, which is a win in my book.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
Again with the Denis Leary thing.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
Alan Alda playing a Republican is a stretch worthy enough of an Emmy.

Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series
Malcolm in the Middle, a show that jumped the shark when all the kids turned 30, won more Emmys than Arrested Development. Go figure.

Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series
Am I the only one that thought The Sopranos sucked this year? Apparently, Emmy voters didn't.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series
You can have success post-Seinfeld. Things are looking up for Jason Alexander.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series
Finally, one they got right. And, if you missed Jeremy Piven verbally depantsing Billy Bush on the red carpet, you missed something funnier than three seasons of Entourage.

Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series
There goes that streak.

Outstanding Lead Actress/Lead Actor/Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie
Anytime these three can win Emmys, they should. And the fact Helen Mirren said "tits" right on live TV is Emmy-worthy.

Outstanding Guest Actress In A Drama Series
Six Feet Under, a show that I thought went off the air years ago, won more Emmys than Arrested Development. Go figure.

Outstanding Individual Performance In A Variety Or Music Program
Stephen Colbert's post-loss diatribe was great.

Outstanding Drama Series
Fine. Don't like it, but at least Sopranos didn't win.

Outstanding Comedy Series
Arrested Development, which won at least one Emmy every year it was on the air, gets shut out in its final year. Oh well. The season three DVDs are great; waaaaay better than the fucking Emmys.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Tom Cruise: How To Flush A Career

Last week, it was announced that Paramount had refused to renew Tom Cruise's long-standing production deal with the studio. Viacom (or whatever the fuck it's called now) chairman Sumner Redstone summed it up nicely by saying they weren't renewing the deal because Tom Cruise "is batshit crazy." (Probably not his actual words.) Which is a shame, because it was a pretty good relationship for all parties.

I, personally, have never had any problem with Cruise as an actor. I think he's actually gotten better as an actor, and a couple of his last films have been some of the best of his career. But then he has a nervous breakdown on Oprah, argued with Matt Lauer, got jiggy with Kanye West, and had that "baby" that no one's ever seen. And now this.

While I'm sure Cruise won't have any problem picking up a new production deal (he's already secured a new independent financing deal), since all of his movies make money, I don't know if anyone will ever hire him again. Who knows; maybe this will straighten him out a little. I think we could all use a break from the antics of TomKat.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

No Pulse In This One

Americans love the Asian movies, because they buy up Asian movie properties left and right. But they must hate Asians, because, instead of just releasing the movies as is, they remake them and recast them with lily-white American casts. And, I don't know, maybe it's those missing Asians that makes Pulse such a shitty Japanese-to-American translation.

I expected a little more from Wes Craven, who adapted the screenplay from Kiyoshi Kurosawa's original script, but then, Craven hasn't written anything good since New Nightmare, and that was 12 years ago. He seems to miss the point of the original, that, even though we are now able to connect with people in more ways than ever, we are essentially isolated because we've eliminated personal contact. The people in this movie don't kill themselves because ghosts tell them to or infect them with some sort of depression virus; they kill themselves because they realize they are completely alone, regardless of how "connected" they might be to the rest of the world. But, Craven would have you believe the ghost theory. He even goes so far as to have all the characters hanging out all the time, having fun and being happy. These aren't people who would commit suicide; it really doesn't ring true.

But, I blame the no-name director more than Craven. Kurosawa, who also directed the original, is Japanese, and, therefore, is just inherently able to create a terrifying atmosphere in a movie. (This is true of all Asian directors; it's in their DNA.) Sure, his films tend to be glacially paced, almost to the point of being boring, but he never fails to deliverer the thrills. This Americanized version is the same as every other horror movie that comes out nowadays: dim-witted, spastically edited, and noisy as hell. I'm not sure why we make horror movies anymore, because they all just turn out like the same piece of shit. You can fix a lot of story errors by properly editing together a well-made movie, but this isn't well-made.

There's some other things I had a problem with. In the original movie, the red tape was to keep the ghosts in, not keep them out. Craven must have got a poorly translated version of the original script. And what's with Brad Dourif making a totally random cameo; he must be a friend of the producers.

If you want to see Pulse the way it should be, rent the Japanese original. Better yet, go see The Descent, a foreign film actually released in the States that delivers plenty of scares. Check it out instead.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

No Me Gusta Mucho Taco Bell

I eat at Taco Bell about once a month. I get the same thing every time I go: a #8 (three soft tacos) and a steak soft taco with no lime sauce. If I were an every day customer, I'm sure the attendants could recite my order by rote.

Or maybe not. It seems to be happening with more and more frequency that, whenever I place this order, what I actually get is a #3, which is three taco supremes, and a steak soft taco with no lime sauce. Which would be fine, because the taco supreme is practically the same as a regular taco, except it has tomatoes and sour cream: two foodstuffs of which I'm not very fond. So, inevitably, I end up sending the shit back, or just eating it and being pissed off.

What I don't understand is why this happens all the time. It's not as though I'm ordering a # "tree" and getting a # "three"; "eight" and "three" don't even sound the same. I realize the numerals kinda resemble each other, and the words contain some of the same letters, but...not the same.

And it's not as though there's any confusion as to what a #8 is. Taco Bell has a standardized menu, so, wherever you go, #8 is always the same thing. You wouldn't go to a Taco Bell in Paducah and get a roadkill burrito with beans if you order a #8; you'll get three soft tacos. And I always make sure to check that #8 is still what I want, because you never know when Taco Bell might stop offering the simplest item on its menu.

It's really a no-win situation. Maybe next time I go, I'll just point to the menu instead of ordering. Actually, the easiest thing to do would be to stop eating at Taco Bell, but that would ruin all the fun of getting pissed off every time out.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Oh, The Injustice

It's not bad enough that Fox has chosen to fill Arrested Development's regular timeslot with American Dad, a show which stopped being funny...well, it's never been funny, but they can't seem to find time for it in their schedule at all.

This is a good thing for Fox, I suppose, as it gives them an opportunity to fill their three-hours-a-night schedule with such gems as Celebrity Duets, where the possibility of Y2J and Dionne Warwick dueting on "That's What Friends Are For" is very high, and Everybody Loves Brad, which, I suspect, will start a "post-Seinfeld"-esque career death for former Raymond cast members.

Oh well. Since there aren't any shows on TV that I watch anymore (they all went the way of the dodo), I guess I'll have plenty of time to check out the My Network's hot, new telenovelas. I can't wait for fall.