Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hugh Jackman Will Need A New Day Job

In a move that surprised no one, CBS has added Hugh Jackman vehicle Viva Laughlin to the cancellation pile. It had aired a whopping two episodes.

Now, I was lucky enough to catch one of those episodes, and I can safely say it was probably the goofiest show I've ever seen. Honestly, the show itself isn't that much different than NBC's Las Vegas, but with one startling exception:

At any given time, the characters would break into song-and-dance numbers.

And not original songs, written for the show, but famous pop songs (like Elton John's "I'm Still Standing"). And the actors didn't just sing to the music; the actual song played in the background and the actors sang along. It was a uniquely terrifying experience, considering that none of the actors but Jackman had any singing ability.

A genuinely awful show that was deservingly canceled. Hugh Jackman will just have to keep making films, I guess.

Awww, drag.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Meet Your New President

Earlier in the week, during a campaign speaking appearance, Republican Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani made the claim that, if elected President, he would build a wall across the US-Mexican border to cut down on illegal immigration from Mexico. And, while this is complete crazy talk, it might just be good for Giuliani.

Now, the border wall is not a new concept. In fact, it currently exists on parts of the border. In Nogales, AZ, a city which straddles the border, there is a massive concrete and steel wall (pictured at right) demarking the border. The crossing (which you can kinda see at the bottom of the hill) is patrolled by machinegun-toting guards. The top is covered in barbed wire. It's really pretty impressive. And it really wouldn't be that hard to connect all the existing walls into one continuous wall. It's something that hard-line immigration opponents have been toting for years.

What's shocking is that this current proposal is coming from the mouth of Rudy Giuliani. For a guy who's a Republican in name only, this is a pretty severe right-wing agenda. I mean, this is some Great Wall of China-type shit: a massive barrier to keep out invading hordes. (This project would be nowhere near as massive, as the US-Mexican border isn't quite half as long as the Great Wall.)

Quite honestly, this kinda sounds like an empty campaign promise. Giuliani has a lot of appeal to liberals, but his position of "terror" seems to be his only real foothold with conservatives. This border thing is just the type of crazy idea that really nutjob conservatives love. They would vote for Giuliani on that point alone.

But implementing something like this is extremely complicated, if not possibly immoral, and probably won't happen. However, sometimes you only need to say you'll do something to get people to believe you. (Remember what Bush said he'd do with Social Security? Yeah, that happened.)

With this wacky proclamation, I'd say Giuliani just jumped into the lead. Hopefully, Hilary Clinton will come up with a proposal to dig a new Gulf of Mexico/Pacific Ocean canal along the US-Mexico border. People would LOVE that!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I Thought We Got Rid Of This Guy

I really thought we'd seen the last of Al Gore.

After he was "robbed" of the 2000 Presidential election, he kind of fell off the map. He didn't resume his Senate job, he didn't run for President in 2004, he didn't do anything. He was pretty much a non-entity.

And then, in 2006, he starred in An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary which is more about Al Gore than about the global warming. And that won a couple of Oscars.

And now Gore's won the Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental efforts.

What a damn shame. I thought Al Gore was out of our lives forever. Now, I'm sure his ego has ascended to the deity level. His photo and a brief quote actually graced the homepage of for a day (and I just wanted to see some iPods). I'm sure he'll be on every television outlet that will have him, and it will be Al Gore all the time.

Oh well. At least we managed to get rid of John Kerry, so I guess that's something.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Last Five Movies

Fantastic 4: The One with the Silver Surfer (2007)
I never really got the Silver Surfer as a character. He seemed to be a product of some '70s acid-induced hallucination. Seriously: it's a silver dude on a fucking surf board, flying through space. And bringing him into 2007 really doesn't make his whole concept any less dated. It also doesn't keep this movie from sucking any less (although the Thames River turning to stone was pretty cool).

The Brave One (2007)
Earlier in the year, we had Death Sentence, which was supposed to be a pseudo-sequel to Death Wish, but was really more of a mindless shoot-em-up. Now, we have The Brave One, which is more of an actual remake of Death Wish, but with a sex change. A really great film, dealing with the issues of what makes people take justice into their own hands. A little too long, and the ending is pretty contrived, but still a great flick, nonetheless.

Black Caesar (1973)
One of the hallmark films in the Blaxplotation genre is really pretty stupid in retrospect. I was somewhat confused as to what Black Caesar's criminal enterprise was, as his gang didn't appear to do anything but kill white people. I find it ironic that such an influential Black film was written and directed by a white guy (Larry Cohen, of all people). And, I was saddened by the fact that Fred Williamson gets beaten to death by some street punks at the end, only to have the sequel, Hell Up in Harlem, retcon that incident right out of existence.

The Condemned (2007)
A great idea for a movie, completely torpedoed by its terrible execution. Kind of a cross between Battle Royale, Series 7, Running Man, and every other movie that steals its premise from The Most Dangerous Game.

A real no-brainer here:

Michael Clayton (2007)
It's a sad comment on the movie business that the best movie I've seen this year came out the second week of October, when absolutely no movies worth watching come out. I'd say it was a sure-fire Oscar winner, but the studios usually save all of their Oscar bait for November and December. But, Oscar loves these George Clooney "message" movies, so we'll see how it pans out in February.

Good stuff; check it out.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wave Goodbye, Joe!

So, the Yankees have been unceremoniously ushered from the postseason by a Cleveland team full of 26-year old nobodies. And, since this is becoming a fairly regular thing, the time of scapegoating is upon us. And, since a team not being to able to perform is always the manager's fault, of course Yankees' skipper Joe Torre has fallen directly in the crosshairs. I, for one, think the Yankees' front office of George Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman are aiming at the wrong guy. They should be aiming at themselves.

It's no secret that the Yankees have a tendency to try and win championships by buying them, paying top dollar for the best talent available. It's also no coincidence that this practice started roughly the same time that Steinbrenner took over the team. And, on paper, it's a great idea. But it doesn't work (not all the time, at least). Del Webb owned the Yankees for 19 years; he won 11 Series in that time. Steinbrenner has owned them for 34 and counting; he's won six. In the Steinbrenner era, before Torre (who's been the manager for 12 years), the Yankees went to the postseason six times, winning two Series. Since Torre, they've gone to the postseason every year, and won four Series.

And they could probably win more, if, every year, Cashman and Steinbrenner didn't saddle him with their real-life rotisserie team that they've paid WAY too much money to put together. And they aren't getting much for their $195 million, which is $50 million more than the second-highest team, namely because they just throw money away. (By contrast, three of the four teams remaining in the postseason are in the bottom eight in payroll.)

$28 million for Roger Clemens, who turns 56 this year, to pitch whenever the hell he feels like it. $23 million for Jason Giambi to, apparently, do nothing but blow the lid off the whole steroid thing. $10 million for Carl Pavano to remain in a constant state of disability.

They also love to sign players well after the iron has cooled. Johnny Damon: Great player...with the Royals and Red Sox. The Andy Pettitte they brought back from Houston (at top dollar) is not the same Pettitte that left for Houston. And losing Soriano and assuming the debt load on Alex Rodriguez's contract may have seemed like a good deal at the time, but...hey, that A-Rod sure puts up some great numbers, don't he?

What Steinbrenner and Cashman don't seem to understand is that the Yankees of the '00s are not the Yankees of the '50s: they just aren't going to win every year. And throwing more money at the problem isn't going to help.

Remember the Cleveland Indians? Two years after closing out the '90s with five straight division wins and two trips to the Series, they flushed the entire franchise down the toilet and started over again. And now they're playing for another trip to the Series.

I think the Yankees need to take a look at this strategy. They have close to $100 mil in contracts coming due, and it might not be wise of them to spend all of that in one place, as they usually would. There IS affordable talent out there. You don't have to sign the entire All-Star roster. Hell, the Yankees' best pitcher isn't even making $500,000; there are more (younger) players out there who are that good.

But, these are the Yankees. They've fucked themselves by putting all of their eggs in the same basket, letting A-Rod's contract come up the same year as Posada, Abreu, and Rivera's. So, they either lose a good portion of their team and start over, or they resign the whole thing and end up with the same team next year that couldn't do anything this year.

And all this is Joe Torre's fault HOW?

There is a ray of hope: reports are coming down that Steinbrenner is giving up control of the team to his sons. Hopefully, they're a little bit more sensible than their old man. And they'll keep around the best manager they're likely to see in a long time.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Yet Another Complaint About The JVL's Movie Theatres

I love movies. It's one of my passions in life. And, living in a podunk city surrounded by podunk towns, unfortunately, it's one of the few outlets of entertainment. Needless to say, I see a lot of movies.

Every weekend, I look at the movie listings, because, as I've mentioned before, I usually see a movie every weekend. This weekend was no different. But I was surprised at what I found.

At one of the area theatres, I found that, instead of bringing in a new movie, they were bringing back Shrek 3, which, as you can see from the poster next to this post, came out on May 18th.

Now, the fall months tend to be a kind of No Man's Land in terms of movie releases. Studios release all of their big movies in the summer, and save all of their Oscar contenders and anything else for the winter months. Not much product coming out in the fall. So, I can understand theatres struggling to fill up screens with stuff people want to watch.

But, there are ways to combat this. A theatre in our nearby state capital fills its empty screens with "classic" films, this week's selections being The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and Scarface. No screens going to waste there. And, if you don't want to show older movies that are already readily available on video, why not show something that's in limited release that might interest people, something like The Darjeeling Limited or In the Valley of Elah. That's stuff that's new, and, again, no wasted screens.

But, no. We get fucking Shrek 3 instead, which I'm pretty sure probably just left the theatres here in JVL a month ago. (You must remember that this is the same theatre that took a pass on The Prestige's $15 million opening so that they could show Pirates of the Caribbean 2 for one more week.)

I once commented to The Girl that the only way to improve Janesville would be to drop an atomic bomb on it.

That sounds better and better every day.