Thursday, October 27, 2005

Turtle Power

From the New York Times review of NYC's latest entry in the worst sounding theme restaurant evs contest, Ninja New York:
Ninja acts like a Disney ride - Space Mountain under a hailstorm of run-of-the-mill or unappealing sushi - but charges like Le Bernardin. It has a stringy crab dish served on a grapefruit that belches smoke, a ridiculous dessert in the shape of a frog and a whole lot of nerve.

An American offshoot of a restaurant in Tokyo, Ninja intends to evoke a Japanese mountain village inhabited by ninjas, a special breed of stealthy warriors. In this case they come armed not only with swords and sorcery but also with recipes, which may be their most dangerous weapons of all. And they roam, romp and perform dopey magic tricks, including sleight of hand with rubber bands, over 6,000 square feet of darkened crannies and well-separated, quiet nooks.
My advice: Can the expensive/apparently lackluster menu. Call Kevin Eastman and whomever else one needs to call on such matters, and get turtle suits for the waiters. Make it a pizza place. Fire the foot clan. Drown in profits.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Quote of the Day II

"I don't know why they would pick up my option, but if they do, I might quit. I'm serious. I don't want to be back there. I always thought Minnesota was a great place to play. After a year with the Mets, an organization that doesn't have a clue, I know that for sure." - soon to be former Met Doug Mientkiewicz, at once admitting that he hits somewhere in between not at all and my little league level of production (which, if you're unaware is as close to zero as one can possibly get without spelling your name M-i-e-n-t-k-i-e-w-i-c-z) and, at the very same time, being a giant douche. Trust me, dude, you have nothing to worry about. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. I know, I know...the idea of Doug making contact with anything is hopeless. Sorry. (via Metsblog)

Quote of the Day

"For George Galloway, however, the war would seem to be over. The evidence presented suggests that he lied in court when he sued the Daily Telegraph in London over similar allegations (and collected money for that, too). It suggests that he lied to the Senate under oath. And it suggests that he made a deceptive statement in the register of interests held by members of the British House of Commons. All in all, a bad week for him, especially coming as it does on the heels of the U.N. report on the murder of Rafik Hariri, which appears to pin the convict's badge on senior members of the Assad despotism in Damascus, Galloway's default patron after he lost his main ally in Baghdad.

Yet this is the man who received wall-to-wall good press for insulting the Senate subcommittee in May, and who was later the subject of a fawning puff piece in the New York Times, and who was lionized by the anti-war movement when he came on a mendacious and demagogic tour of the country last month. I wonder if any of those who furnished him a platform will now have the grace to admit that they were hosting a man who is not just a pimp for fascism but one of its prostitutes as well." - Christopher Hitchens

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Apocalypse Now

"I thought the story should be a journey into the heart of darkness. I see it as a big satire, in a way, not only of action films but of where American culture is headed." - Richard Kelly's explanation of Domino (from "The Domino Effect" in the October 21st issue of Entertainment Weekly)

Strangely enough, director Tony Scott does not utilize scrolling titles or super titles to explain to us which scenes are satirical or which are damning of our culture, as he does when the plot that he and Kelly have "crafted" becomes so unintelligible that such a device is necessary. (It should be noted that the titles that are utilized do not accomplish their intended aim.) Now, I know that I'm prone to mis-labeling certain things as satire, but this alibi of sorts for Kelly and Scott's fascist puppet show rings hollow. What, in fact, Kelly has accomplished is exactly what he claims to be satirizing and damning. He has shown us the void. He thinks he's shown us the way.

Performance Enhancing

MLB's big catch today: soon to be former Met Felix Heredia. Sends shivers down your spine, doesn't it? Heredia barely played this year, because of a thumb injury, followed by a shoulder injury (both preceded by his general craptastic abilities as a panic inducing pitching option). It's very likely that Heredia was attempting to speed up his recovery time from these injuries by using whatever banned substance he tested positive for. Heredia could also be attempting to improve his status from rag-arm-oh-no-they're-putting-in-Heredia to being someone greeted by rocking chants heard throughout the borough of Queens: Fe-lix He-re-di-a. (Yeah yeah not so much, to the tune of pounding feet.)

It should be noted that the guy's piss could be pure enough to drink or dress a salad with, and I'd still prefer the roller blading wonder that is Heath Bell. For those unaware, Bell used to be the prospect who might be a good middle reliever if he'd only lose some weight. He roller bladed to spring training one season, back and forth every day (I think), and lost the weight. He still kinda sucks, but he does so in a "natural" way, or so I assume. Felix Heredia sucks and does so with the assistance of banned substances, which makes the term "performance enhancing" more than slightly ironic.


Walter Kirn and Stephen Metcalf are corresponding over at Slate, regarding Kirn's latest, Mission to America. Kirn's first e-mail begins with the following:
A fable, not a satire—you're dead right. If I wrote my autobiography straight, most reviewers would call it satire, too. That's what they tend to do with honest narratives that take as a given an American scene they find baffling, dubious, and embarrassing.
Reading this, it made me think of Josh's reaction to my hatred of A History of Violence and my labeling of it, in part, as a satire. I've been thinking I was wrong to call it that since I wrote it, said it, criticized it, etc. (Not that it's made me like the film any more...) I don't think it's the result of some sort of regional bias on my part, just good old fashioned descriptive laziness. So, now, Kirn has hammered the point home, in an indirect way, and I think we're all better for it, at least I am. And my well being matters much more than yours. Why? I've just listened to a twenty minute long rant from one of my co-workers about how she doesn't understand how people can mispronounce "Valencia." This, from a woman who has stated on numerous occassions that she can't pronounce California correctly unless she sings "California Dreamin'" in her head before/while saying it. So, I think I've earned this moment of self absorption. Thanks for your understanding.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Just another day, livin' in The Beast

Look, I'm not going to lie to you and pretend that I'm a big fan of Madonna's, but when was it exactly that she completely lost her mind? Was it right after her naughty photo spread with Big Daddy Kane? Has she just pounded too much Kabbalah water and she's begun ranting the way those drunk on certain fluids are prone to? And, most importantly, when did she become Pat Robertson?
"The beast is the modern world that we live in!"

"The material world. The physical world. The world of illusion, that we think is real. We live for it, we're enslaved by it. And it will ultimately be our undoing."

"(People) are going to go to hell, if they don't turn from their wicked behavior."

"I refer to an entity called 'The Beast'. I feel I am describing the world that we live in right now. To me 'The Beast' is the modern world that we live in."
This nonsense is "developing." Sure, this is slightly different than Pat's obsession with bar codes, aka "The Mark of the Beast," but the instant mental connection one can make between these two gay icons is staggering. Okay, that's all folks. Back to life in the Beast.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A Photographic Essay on the Human Physical Response to Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Feel the Bern

"In between those seasons, he established himself as a quiet, dependable star. As much an October fixture as Tim McCarver's over-analysis during the television broadcast, he played in six World Series and won four. He has 275 home runs, 1,301 runs, 1,196 RBI and a .298 career average." - ESPN's Jim Caple on Bernie Williams (McCarver's over-analysis included a criticism of Yankees fans' "Ber-nie Will-iams" chant during Game 4 of the ALDS, stating that the superior chant would simply be "Ber-nie," as neither team on the field had another player named Bernie. This analysis is completely wrong, by the way, in every way such low end analysis can be. Simply chanting his first name would likely sound much more derisive than intended (i.e. the haunting "Daaaaaryl" which was meant to inspire Mr. Strawberry or scare pitchers facing him but now seems more like the perfect chant for his doomed career), while the full name chant has a great ring to it, as also evidenced by the "Pa-trick Ew-ing" chant, as recently utilized during Ewing's jersey retirement ceremony. I suppose McCarver is thinking it could be like "Ru-dy," but Rudy's last name was Ruettiger and chanting that makes no sense at all. In moments like these, I yearn for Deion Sanders to permanently be waiting in the wings, ready to dump ice water on McCarver's fat head.)

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Overheard One-Sided Phone Conversation of the Day

"Have you ever heard of this book Everything is Illuminated? Yeah, Everything is Illuminated. I don't know. I've never heard of it. But, supposedly, it's now a movie starring Elijah Wood. Yeah. I don't know. (pause...pause) No. I'm not buying it. It's fourteen dollars. There's no way I'm spending 14 dollars on a paperback." - girl on cell phone in bookstore

Friday, October 07, 2005

Mini Travelogue

While waiting for my flight on Thursday night, I noticed that waiting for another flight, but in the same terminal, was former Republican presidential candidate and one of the OV's favorite evil trolls, Gary Bauer. It should be noted that at no time did Bauer flip any pancakes, fall off any stage set up for said pancake flipping, or put together any kind of foitus/brine/menstrual blood mixture and carry it about in a large jar with which to intimidate those who might consider taking the seat next to him.

Also, on my flight (Flight 485), one L. Scott Caldwell was among the passengers. Sure, I may obsess about Lost a bit too much, but being joined on a flight by a fictional survivor of a fictional plane crash is not exactly comforting, nor is sitting next to "legs spread guy" or "snoring guy" or "I dumped an entire bottle of A & F fragrance over my head guy." Who am I kidding? It was super rad. By the way, where the fuck is her husband? Anyone?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The cure for anal leakage

I leave for Natuh this evening, for some Rosh Hashanah related R & R. Knowing that, and knowing that I won't be going to work tomorrow or Monday, the day has been draaaaaaging. But, Thursday just got way better:
Pennsylvania Treasurer Bob Casey Jr.'s lead over Sen. Rick Santorum (news, bio, voting record) has grown even larger in their U.S. Senate race, according to a poll released Thursday.

The Quinnipiac University poll of 1,530 Pennsylvania voters showed Casey leading the two-term Republican incumbent by 18 points, 52 percent to 34 percent, in the 2006 race. That compares to a 50-to-39 percent lead in a July poll by Quinnipiac.

Santorum, the No. 3 Senate Republican, spent part of the summer promoting his new book, "It Takes a Family," on television talk shows. The book compares abortion to slavery and accuses feminists of undermining motherhood.

Casey, a Democrat and the son of a popular late governor, has maintained a low profile and done a limited number of media interviews.

The telephone survey, conducted from Sept. 27 to Monday, had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
So, so, so best. Via Sully.

Quote of the Day

"But Clooney is too blinded by his love for Murrow to think his way through his hero's inconsistent relationship with the medium: Murrow both chased hard news and whipped up celebrity fluff on Person to Person, his interview program from the same period. If we're going to praise Murrow for producing fearless TV news, we should also be ready to damn him for paving the way for Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey, and all the celebrity bootlickers on red carpets. Instead of grappling with the Murrow paradox, Clooney bookends the movie with the broadcaster's sanctimonious 1958 speech about television's lost promise.

If I judge it correctly, Good Night and Good Luck intends to serve as a parable for our times and not a history lesson. Its makers want us to find contemporary "resonance" in the film and conclude that, compared to the giants of 1954, modern journalists have been cowed by those in political power. What a facile, Hollywood cliché. Journalism has improved vastly since 1954, certainly eclipsing the likes of Edward R. Murrow's overrated TV output, and today's reporters are more independent and willing to confront presidential administrations and powerful political figures than Murrow and his boys ever were." - Jack Shafer

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Currying Favor

Eddy Curry is 23 years old. He proved himself to be a more than capable low post presence last year on the offensive end. His defensive deficiencies should be aided by the presence of new coach Larry Brown and his maturation. He allows for Brown to use notoriously lazy (read: fat) and currently overpaid Jerome James as a backup. In the move to acquire Curry, the Knicks gave up Mike Sweetney (at best, the second coming of Charles Oakley), Tim Thomas (his presence will not be missed for a second), Jermaine Jackson (no, not that one), and lottery protected draft choices which will, if all goes well, be somewhere in the mid to late first round, all the while also acquiring a solid veteran big man in Antonio Davis, who I've always hated but will now learn to like until he breaks down, forever wearing a suit all season, and, thus, become the object of my perpetually infantile and unfair abuse. Curry might also be a superstar in the making...and this could be a Dale Davis for Jermaine O'Neal redux. Hell, I'd take an Oakley for Camby redux.

Curry has a heart condition, but has been cleared to play by numerous physicians, both associated with the Bulls and now the Knicks. If Dallas had acquired Curry, I can't help but think ESPN observers would be praising the move. A young big man on the rise, they'd say. Instead, I have to scroll through analysis which makes Thomas and Sweetney sound much better than they likely would have if described in a preview of the Knicks. To paraphrase a now infamous and oft criticized speech by former Celtics coach Rick Pitino...Patrick Ewing ain't walking through those doors, people. Curry is the best available. He's 23. He's big. He's athletic and he's now under the tutelage of one of the best coaches ever. Trust me, things could be worse. And any Knicks fan wringing their hands over this should know better. You'd think they brought back Vin Baker.

Dead Inside (etc.)

In writing that last thing about A History of Violence, it made me think of another film about a family threatened with violence, made with stunning craftmanship: Spielberg's War of the Worlds (which I probably liked more, but still has many flaws, i.e. the ending of the film, which is mind bogglingly atrocious). Despite some of the incredible tricks up Steven's sleeve, and, for my money, two much stronger performances from Cruise and Dakota Fanning than anything on display in Violence, I was left cold by that experience as well. Both have style to spare, but in my "opinionation," they both are sorely lacking in substance.

Dead Inside

Not that anyone much cares, but I've been urged to join the fray regarding Cronenberg's A History of Violence. (You'll see why in a second.) It's been drowned in love. Even when it's critiqued, it's still bathed in the warming glow of guilt-ridden displeasure. I didn't like it, but but but but. I get that. It's expertly shot, cut, lit, and scored. So, naturally, the feeling grows that one must have missed something if one didn't like it, didn't find it rapturous, didn't find it compelling, because of its visual flair, its finely tuned score, its staging of the violence, which, as is often the case in Cronenberg, forces the viewer to linger just a bit longer, feel just a bit more than the norm. And, of course, there is the guilt that comes with disliking a film by one of modern cinema's greatest living directors. I understand. And, after a moment of reflection, I'm over it. Because I hate A History of Violence. Hate, hate, hate it. When it's not flailing at being a tepid and muddled satire, it's a wretchedly written, blandly and often times terribly acted family drama. I understand that Cronenberg is not intending for the scenes with the family to be realistic (if that even means anything in the realm of art), but he could at least have made them convincing or affecting, which he did not, instead, careening from bland platitudes to sub-sitcom quips in order to show the growing discord in the family's dynamic. (Ben rightly brings up Twin Peaks and I'd like people to consider Donna's family or the Palmers or simply the relationship between Cooper and Harry as examples of what one can do dramatically and emotionally in the context of something that is, in a sense, parodical, but at the same time, frightening.)

And, yes, I too appreciate Cronenberg's frank depiction of sexuality, but a 69 scene can't make me forget about all the homespun conversations that ring false (the bedroom scene that begins the Stall family story makes me want to die) in conjuction with the entire small town/Rockwellain conceit that never rings true. It can't extract the thought of William Hurt (and the hairy vagina on his chin) chewing the walls from my memory, nor can it ever convince me that Viggo Mortensen makes me care, for one second, what happens to anyone involved. And, sure, maybe this is the ultimate point, somewhere within a more general treatise on violence, that there are no sides, that everyone involved is guilty, etc. etc. etc., but if I am to go along with this, I feel as if I should care, at some point, and perhaps be pulled from that perspective, forced to contemplate why one mob trained killer is better than a mob trained killer with a funky eye or how they're two sides of the same coin. But, alas, I am left with nothing but types and notions and the bland intriciacies of a B-movie plot I've seen before. I don't feel the chill of a gutsy satire that could have made me bristle at the twists and turns Croney could have put us through, forcing us to continually re-evaluate where we stood, where the characters stood, etc. But I just felt empty after seeing it. I saw the makings of a great film, made by a great filmmaker. Sometimes, that just makes me long for something completely atrocious or perhaps a similar scenario where in I'm more comfortable with the disappointment, y'know, like with Woody Allen. (Timmy brand Haterade is available in stores nationwide. Check with your local retailers.)