Monday, January 31, 2005

Quote of the Day

"When The Empire Strikes Back was rereleased in its Special Edition in 1997, Lando Calrissian's first line to Princess Leia, "What have we here? --delivered with a cooled-out, I'll-see-you-in-my-room-for-a-Romulan-Rum-and-Coke assurance--got the same reaction as the piece of dialogue received during the picture's initial release in 1980: the standing ovation due the first interstellar Mack ever spotted on-screen. And Billy Dee Williams's ridiculously suave rogue-trader is given a lavish entrance, striding across the screen in his full swerve-on, 47-degree-angle walk, trailed by a cape and an entourage; all that was missing was James Brown's manager snatching the cloak off Lando's shoulders and proclaiming the brother The Hardest Working Man in Space Business." - Elvis Mitchell, on my all-time favorite Star Wars character (via The Cinetrix)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Punditry

  • Hitch on the murder of Theo Van Gogh:
    The Dutch are friendly and tolerant, but they do not like having this mistaken for weakness. A strong and hard reaction of decided outrage has set in. At first, the authorities misunderstood this. They sandblasted a mural that had been painted near the scene of the crime, which featured only the words “Thou shalt not kill.” (The imam of a local mosque had of course complained that such a display was “racist incitement.”) But people are now rightly fed up with having their own pluralism used against them, and the protest at this capitulation was almost as strong. I myself think it was the wrong mural to begin with. You cannot fight Islamic terror with Christianity, whether of the insipid or the crusader kind. The original commandment actually says “Thou shalt do no murder,” thus making it almost the only one of the ten that makes any sense. But we do not prepare for murder when we resolve to defend ourselves and when we take the side of people like Ms. Hirsi Ali and Ms. Bousakla in the Islamic civil war that seeks to poison our society and enslave theirs.
    For the whole piece ("Jihad in the Netherlands"), go here.

  • And Real, not "Talking Doll" Ann Coulter takes issue with W.'s continued absence at pro-life rallies and sides with pro-choice thinking:
    The National Abortion Rights League (NARAL) claims that if Roe were overturned, 19 states would immediately outlaw abortion, and 19 more would soon follow suit. This is the one issue on which NARAL and I agree: Pro-lifers already have changed the hearts of Americans about abortion!

    Abortion was not terribly popular when Roe v. Wade was first concocted in 1973 –- by seven male justices and their mostly male law clerks. Abortion — like other liberal priorities over the years including forced busing, gay marriage and removing "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance — is an issue liberals believe is best voted on by groups of nine or fewer.
    38? Really? And very clever, Ann. Mostly we hear how men would force women into back alley abortions and how they should have no say over matters of their reproductive health. But, now it's men forcing women to have abortions, by means other than giving them their spunk, which is, to them, like manna from heaven (a nod to C.K.). Who knew? Maybe I'm naive, or maybe I just fit into what Coulter later gets to:
    Despite the fact that feminists cry and try to make people feel guilty about opposing a "woman's right" to abortion, men always support abortion more than women — no matter who takes the poll or how the questions are asked. Curiously, single men aged 18-34 are the cohort most dearly devoted to a woman's "right to choose."
    Curiously? Ann, I know you want us all to get hot and bothered at every turn of a phrase, but it's not curious at all. And, in regards to women on this issue, I know plenty who might be described as "pro life" for themselves, but rather unwilling to support legislation that would dictate terms to everyone else, which might very will affect the poll statistics Coulter cites ("In a Los Angeles Times poll a few years ago..."). Shrug. Josh, care to chime in?

  • Thursday, January 27, 2005

    Blue Devils

    From the San Diego Union Tribune:
    Old School partying got some Duke University students into new trouble.

    In what police say was an homage to the Will Ferrell movie Old School, students were found in a fraternity house basement with an inflatable pool, a bounty of baby oil and bikini-clad co-eds.

    Police came upon the scene early Sunday after responding to a noise complaint, AP reports.

    "Inside were several of America's future, re-enacting a scene from the movie 'Old School,' where females wrestle in a pool of lubricants," police Sgt. D. Gunter said.

    Officers said they cleared the house of the 200 revelers, sending some of the women home in the subfreezing temperatures in nothing more than their bikinis.
    Hopefully, "America's future" won't become humorless police sergeants. What a gunt. (Via College Basketball).

    Biden = Casey Jones?

    This should make Josh feel all warm and fuzzy:
    Sen. Joe Biden confesses: He whispered sweet nothings into Condoleezza Rice's ear! The rascally Democrat from Delaware embraced her after contentious Senate confirmation hearings last week. "When we hugged, I whispered in her ear, 'I'm telling you, Condi, don't listen to them,' " Biden says in the new Rolling Stone. "She looked at me. I said, ' Rumsfeld and Cheney. You gotta be tough.' " We'll see if she takes his advice to heart.
    Via Wonkette

    Wednesday, January 26, 2005

    Dog Star

    Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson got back together. Awww. They made Cursed. It's about werewolves. No, not shaky Michael J. Fox in Rick Baker makeup, but possessed dogs by way of the magic of CGI. Yeah, guys, Scooby Doo with fangs is neither scary, funny nor meta-scary/funny. Worst trailer evs? Es posible.

    Tinky Winky


  • Today, the ladies in the office discussed What Colors are Made Of, "that movie where Robin Williams goes to heaven," "meets an angel played by Cuba Goodings," and "learns that suicide leaves you out of heaven." They forgot to mention the art directed wrist slashing scars, which, if memory serves, either matched the color of the walls or the color of the bed sheets in Purgatory. This conversation was prompted by today's aborted suicide turned train crash. (Over the last few hours, the silence was frequently interrupted with "any body count update?" And Ice-T thought no one cared.) I was shot nasty looks after I told them What Colors are Made Of was actually called What Dreams May Come, that Cuba Gooding (sans "s") was actually the family dog, and that every second of that movie, even thinking about every second of that movie, makes me want to vomit. I shouldn't talk to anyone at work. But when I don't participate at all, their conversations slowly turn into a Teletubbie-like blotch of white noise, and I go even crazier than this job has already made me.

  • The end of Murder Inc.? Please say, yes. Pleeeeeease...

  • Silly, wabbit, cartoons are for straights. Newly appointed Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has ushered in an ugly era, where in we miss Rod Paige. (via Buzz Machine)

  • Doug Mientkiewicz is a Met and a thief. Smart move by Minaya after losing out on Delgado to Vegas. Mientkiewicz is superior defensively (a must, considering the general inexperience in their young infield, including Matsui's move to a new position), and can be expected to bounce back from his poor offensive numbers from last year, the worst of his career. Magglio should be next, followed by a revival of the Cameron-to-Oakland trade. Omar, the bullpen. Get on it.

  • Blogisphere Update: Josh hates Morgan Freeman more than all y'all, including fellow hater, Ben. Pier continues to defy all logic when it comes to "retirement" and yells at us to watch The Stunt Man. Tom is buried in snow, dreaming of California. And The J has cookies and milk with Andrew O'Hehir, while Morgan remains silent.

  • Dick Cheney: In Pictures. (via Overeducated and Underemployed)

  • Get yourself the new Moonraker EP, Time for the Parting. And due March 7, Wilco's A Ghost is Born will be re-issued with a bonus disc of an outtake, a B-side, and three live tracks.

  • Liam Lacey rants about Sundance. Best:
    The world of American independent feature films is exceedingly fond of small-town stories about young men too sensitive to function, impishly sexual teenaged girls and wise-beyond-their years children. The casts include more eccentrically lovable characters than roadside weeds.
    You can read the whole piece here.

  • Tuesday, January 25, 2005

    Quote of the Day

    "Kay Bailey Hutchison was simply radiant in her electric blue jumpsuit today, making the case for Condi Rice's selection as Secretary of State. And by 'radiant,' we mean, 'blinds the young.' Hutchison pointed out -- as Joltin' Joe Lieberman did -- that Rice 'has the president's ear,' which sounds bad -- indeed, it tends to back up that rumor about how she also has Colin Powell's balls. But collecting body parts is really more Karen Hughes' thing." - Wonkette

    Oscar, Oscar

    I'm both bored and tired, as I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to watch the nominations announced and despite the best efforts of cereal, bagels w/ shmear, Simply Orange, and bad coffee, I can't too excited about this list and I can't believe I've been up for almost six hours already. But, briefly...

  • The snub of Pig Vomit could be the result of a few things. Academy voters may have taken for granted that he'd be nominated and, thus, went for their dark horse favorites (Bardem, Neeson, Spacey, Carrey), or, worse yet, Johnny Depp's Scottish accent. Of course, there's the possibility that it simply turned out that the consensus was that there were five better performances this year. Breaking that down, Dicaprio is aided by being at the head of the most nominated film, Foxx was a lock from the get go and remains the clear favorite to win, Eastwood is the impresario behind what some people believe to be his crowning achievement as a director and actor, Cheadle's role is part of a film whose impact goes beyond box office or critical acclaim (it's not a political statement to nominate him, but the film's resonance is aided by its relevance), and Johnny Depp has an accent and doesn't molest any of his child co-stars. The other possibility is Academy voters hold a grudge and resent Giamatti for appearing in Big Fat Liar and Big Momma's House, which wouldn't make sense, considering their nomination of Foxx and the star of Space Cowboys.

  • Adam Duritz might win an Oscar. This strikes me as the oddest possibility of any of the many.

  • Seriously, people, what on Earth is wrong with Best Original Score category? I don't expect miracles here (i.e. Jon Brion or Gustavo Santaolalla/Jorge Drexler), but The Village? Finding Neverland? Boo-urns.

  • Saturday, January 22, 2005

    Yo, Adrien

    The trailer to The Jacket is up. It could be cool or it could be a high end version of The Butterfly Effect. I've nevin heard of the director, the writer, or one of the two guys credited with story. But, I do know the other guy and anyone else who thinks that combining the ample talents of the Coreys with the gruff charm of Jason Robards = cinema magic, sure will too.

    Out of Context Quote of the Day



    "I suspect Spacey could be brilliant as Hitler." - David Thomson

    Quitting Time



    Lenny Wilkens has resigned as head coach of the Knicks, bringing a close to a great era of nothingness, mediocrity, and bloated expectations without any persepctive or grasp on the reality at hand. Former Ewing backup Herb Williams will take over as interim coach, with rumors regarding the eventual courting and possible hiring of either Larry Brown or Phil Jackson sure to follow soon enough. (Brown can't get over the brawl, Ron Artest's crazy eyes haunting his dreams, and Phil might just get bored of tantric sex, beard stroking, pipe smoking, and general layabout douchebaggery and yearn to leave the friendly confines of Montana and return to coaching, where in he might actually have a challenge that goes beyond ego cajoling.) There was some debate as to whether or not it should have been Williams or fellow assistants Brendan Suhr and Mark Agguire. (Suhr is not so much liked by anyone but Isaiah, Aguirre is friends with Isaiah but not ready for primetime, and Herb, in every thankless role handed to him by the fine folks at MSG, has handled himself with class and grace, even when doing so was not necessary and acting the opposite might have been understood, if not applauded.) Isaiah and many others in the Knicks brass are under the false impression that this team could win with Jesus Christ as coach. Even with the messiah, and the #1 Jew of all time at the helm, they'd still be the Knicks. And even some hot biblical shenanigans couldn't make them much better than the eighth seed.

    Friday, January 21, 2005

    Quote(s) of the Day

    "A classic collection of coaches: Andy Reid looks like the star of a CBS sitcom where the portly guy is married to an improbably hot chick; Mora looks like one of those clean-cut porn stars who isn't quite reliable enough to get his own one-on-one scene; Bill Belichick dresses like the lead singer of an '80s cover band; and Bill Cowher looks so much like Sergeant Slaughter, you keep waiting for the Iron Sheik to attack him. Just a fantastic group. If only we could get Bill Parcells' body involved somehow." - The Sports Guy, on this weekend's conference championship games

    But, Simmons is bested by his mother, whose comment on Randy Johnson's nickname ("The Big Unit") is too funny:
    "I don't get it; why would somebody be nicknamed after the size of their penis? Why is this allowed? I'm not going to be able to watch him pitch now, I'm going to be frightened that something will fly out."

    It Can't be Worse than Big Fish

    The trailer to Tim Burton's Corpse Bride is out. I don't know. I guess it looks okay. I have little to no faith in Burton anymore.

    Thursday, January 20, 2005

    Bet on It

    "I thought that we already appropriated money to help them move to Vegas. I was very disappointed that they publicly announced the negotiations and discussions with Las Vegas, and I don't negotiate with terrorists." - Florida Senate president Tom Lee on the Florida Marlins (There is no need to discuss the stupidity of that last comment. Even if said in jest, which I'm sure it was, it's still moronic and childish and does nothing but drive some reasonable businessmen, sick and damn tired of being fucked with by a bunch of incompetent bureaucrats, right into the arms of Sin City.)

    This was where Lee's mind was, as of November 17th, 2004: Tom Lee, the new Republican president from Brandon, said he was "not closed to the idea. We're going to stay as open-minded as long as we can about everything."

    Too bad Marlins ownership isn't proposing the construction of a chiropractic college.

    The problem here is simple. If the Marlins don't get a new stadium deal, supported by Florida's idiot governor, their thick headed Senate, or the corrupt goons running Miami-Dade, they will move, be it to Vegas or Portland or maybe northern Virginia, so as to kill off Peter Angelos via a major coronary. And then, in about five years, much of this same gaggle of characters will begin putting feelers out for an expansion team, they'll wine and dine the commissioner in the hopes of convincing him to expand the league, to bring baseball back to south Florida, or when a team in economic turmoil starts looking around, Florida will click the sign back over to "Vacancies." The Marlins players and fans have consistently had a raw deal, be it when they were destroyed by the mobster who onced owned them or, now. I'm a former resident of south Florida, and the Fish might be best to leave one hot ass town for another. It's always good to be wanted, even if your choice breaks a few hearts.

    Wednesday, January 19, 2005

    The Exact Opposite of "Quacktastic"

    "Among all the sordid revelations surrounding the Michael Jackson case, one struck us as particularly wonderful: to his young friends, the King of Pop refers to semen as 'Duck Butter.'" - courtesy of the fine folks at POPBITCH

    Tuesday, January 18, 2005

    Film Crit of the Day

    "The alarmingly scrawny Mr. Hawke, who looks as if his next project should be a public service announcement on the hazards of the Atkins diet, plays Sgt. Jake Roenick, a Detroit policeman still traumatized by an undercover operation that went terribly wrong some months earlier." - A.O. Scott, lover of carbs, hater of the newly remade Assault on Precinct 13

    Monday, January 17, 2005

    I Miss You



    Michael Winterbottom's Code 46 has its share of heady sci-fi musings, of government controls placed on travel and on whom you can love, make love to, and, most importantly, procreate with. Not too dissimilar from Andrew Niccol's unfairly maligned Gattaca, Code 46 gives us a peek into a world some time in the near future, where the world is divided by those with "good" genes, and those with "bad" ones, genes that disturb an orderly and controlled lifestyle, instituted by an unseen government entity, represented by uniformed bureaucrats, clerks constantly demanding "papels," which without, one can barely do much of anything.

    At its core, however, is a doomed love story, of induced amnesia, of two people destined for one another, in a world where their union is strictly forbidden. Memory, its power, and the notion of wiping the slate clean in order to move on with one's life, was the central dilemma in this year's best film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and pops up again here, as if a number of filmmakers are all drinking from the same cooler. There's an enormous amount of disconnect throughout the film, between characters one on one, and between peoples, one to masses or group to group, best emphasized by one small scene at the beginning of the film, where Robbins' character speaks to a merchant at a checkpoint. he engages him, wants to share a moment with him, while his driver sees no reason to humor such people. It only encourages them. This could be in a film set this very moment in time, shared between a businessman of any sort and, say, a panhandler asking for change or offering to wipe clean a window at a red light. Here, however, the point is made even larger, as Robbins clearly represents one part of a society, passing through a section of the country that might as well be a different one entirely. I think I just caught myself being redundant. Maybe the scenes I just mentioned, the one from the film and supposed one used as an example, are no different, no matter the game of genre dress up.

    Anyway...it was a great surprise. The love story is beautifully handled, and captures so well the thoughts of each lover, when the other is away. What are they thinking? Do they think of me as much as I think of them? Do they still think of me or was I forgettable...did these moments of joy, of lust, of fright, of exhilaration, did these moments matter enough for another person to remember them the way I do, to think of them as much as I do?

    I knew of the film, but hadn't seen it, and didn't exactly feel I had missed out on much when it left theaters after a brief and mostly uncelebrated run. It's really worth it. One of the better films from this year. I also recommend heading on over to iTunes and downloading the film's score, as done by Free Association. Hotness.

    Giggle Juice


  • Teri Polo (aka Rebecca from Sports Night, aka the object of Ethan Hawke's affection in Mystery Date, aka actress with dwindling desire to maintain mid-level career status with an inkling to turn to making straight to Showtime softcore with a Baldwin other than Alec, Kristy Swanson, and either Malcolm McDowell or Udo Kier) poses for Playboy. (via goldenfiddle)

  • What's that blurry thing between Teri Hatcher's legs?

  • Elektra...yeah, not so much. I'm not going to dwell on the obvious: no plot, subpar action, no character development, Goran Visnjic's lack of a pulse, and the obnoxiousness of Kirsten Prout. I want to focus more on the character of McCabe (Elektra's agent) as played by Colin Cunningham. For the first few seconds, after he arrives on the scene, I thought they had cast Pauly Shore. Not in full "weasel" mode, but as some sort of new adult, making a comeback no one wants Pauly Shore. And I couldn't believe I hadn't heard that they did this. Then, reality sunk in, and I realized that this wasn't Pauly Shore at all, nor was it Justin Theroux who has a history with J-Gar and might've been a nice choice. But I guess you get Collin Cunningham after Justin Theroux reads the "script" and Pauly Shore won't return your calls. Which reminds me of Van Helsing (a similarly shiny, CGI-infused turd), where in Richard Roxburgh plays Count Dracula, when it's obvious that the producers wanted, but couldn't get Bronson Pinchot. Cousin Larry, don't be ridiculous.

  • Mitch Lawrence writes of what may be the imminent departure of Lenny Wilkens as coach of the Knicks. I'm not a big Wilkens guy, but the notion that this is all his fault is pretty laughable. I mean, I thought you could win with a team full of guards who don't pass or play defense or care about anything but their direct deposit, but then again, I still root for this team, and convince myself that they might have a chance of being good...oh...every year. So, don't listen to me, I'm retarded.

  • Adelphia, when they're not advertising with the bogus slogan that they are a local company, likes to fuck over customers like me, who, after a few rum and cokes and some Cheeto/Sun chips/Doritos/pretzel mix, would like to be able to turn on the TV Guide channel and watch Joan and Melissa Rivers ask women and men why they look so fugly. But, oh no. Adelphia got rid of that channel. Thanks. But, thankfully, the fine people at Horny Gandhi have done what Starleta Jones Reynolds, her gay husband, and Kathy Griffin couldn't do. Gracias.

  • A little binge drinking is all well and good until someone marries the Jason Alexander not from Seinfeld. (via Hit and Run)

  • Britney sees a street healer while dressed like my grandma.

  • Bateman not Batman

    Coming soon: A Patrick Bateman action figure. Imagine the accessories. (via Not An Exit)

    Thursday, January 13, 2005

    Finn-ish

    Do yourself a favor and head on over to sixeyes and download "What You Give is What You Get" by The Hollow. Hotness.

    Reason #24,567,333 to Hate the Royal Family



    Prince Harry, spawn of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, went to a costume party dressed like a Nazi. Let's break this thing down:

    (1) There are few occassions on which it is okay to dress like a Nazi. One is obvious. If you are a Nazi, who am I to tell you to dress any other way. If you're a nerd re-shooting Raiders of the Lost Ark in your backyard, it's okay to dress like a Nazi. And I might look past the fashion choice if you have some overzealous Night Porter fetish, as long as said fetish is contained to the privacy of your own home. Otherwise, yeah, it's not okay. And what the fuck is wrong with the hosts of this party? I don't care what worthless title you have or what you have no control over in the country where you may one day be king. You can't come into my flat dressed like a fucking Nazi. Sorry. No. Go back to Buckingham, eat a cucumber sandwich, comb the mane of your favorite pony, and suck my balls. In this same vein, it was also not cool for the PTA at my elementary school to propose having the kids come in as "their favorite black person" to honor Black History Month. Thanks to the protestations of my mother and a few others, this never happened, and my plans to come in black face and learn about fractions while playing Frederick Douglas were thwarted.

    (2) People seem to be extra angry about this whole situation because Harry allowed himself to be photographed while he was dressed in Fuhrer garb. Here's the problem. This implies that because he's "Prince" Harry and that he's taken media classes, he's become intelligent or reasonable or caring towards his fellow man. These twits get credit for shit all the time, that a normal person would never get on the cover of People magazine for. William can swim! He can read! He can talk without drooling! Harry is obviously, either (a) a hateful moron, (b) that kid so desperate for attention he will do anything base or vile to get attention, or (c) both. What a sad little prick.

    (3) This one's for Josh. I'm pissed that only Jewish groups are being asked what they think of this incident, as if Jews were the only people Nazis felt an urge to slaughter. How does the gay community feel about Harry's costume choice? Catholics? Oh, wait, how about the whole of Europe? Thankfully for Harry, he doesn't live in France. Then, he might be put on trial for this little incident.

    (4) The English have now redefined the term, "wardrobe malfunction."

    (5) Fergie wants us to give Harry a break. After all, he's apologized. She then goes on to say how "proud" Diana would be of Harry. Wait. What? Why? I feel a Dateline special coming on: Princess Di's Nazi Fetish. Otherwise, what the hell would she have to be proud of? And I love that now if you just say, "I'm sorry," all is forgiven. What house did these people grow up in? Have these people never seen an American sitcom? I can't imagine Jason and Maggie Seaver simply accepting Ben's apology for dressing like a Nazi and calling it a day. If that unibrowed mutant dressed up like Hitler, he would surely be grounded or be made to watch on of his brother's Left Behind films.

    The Jordan Rules

    It should be noted, before I say anything else, that I despise Michael Jordan with all of my being, the way one might hate the man who stole away his girlfriend or wife. You at once envy him for being with the woman you love(d), all the while your skin crawls at the mere thought of their bodies joined together. As a Knicks fan, "Jordan," as player, symbol or curse word, means everything. He doesn't just drop a double nickel on you in his first game back after his first retirement. He stuns you with said scoring and then, when you've battled back, and taken the lead, he draws you in and passes the ball away. It's only a few seconds later when you realize that Bill Wennington just beat you. He wasn't just good, he was cold and vicious and unrelenting. There are plenty of players who can elicit an "ooh" and an "ahh" when, in mid-air, he moves the ball from one hand to the other to make a layup easier. He also happened to do that in a Finals game, for one, which makes Jordan's achievements different from so many others. He didn't just win scoring titles or lead his team to victory in plenty of regular season games. If he went to the Finals, he won. He'd beat you every which way, and cruelly make you think you were in it, when you never had a chance to begin with. He was and is the scariest competitor the sport has ever known, with Bill Russell a close second. Now, look, his comeback with Washington was sad and pitiful and, for me, wildly enjoyable, but Charles Pierce, in a piece for Slate, has gone so far over the edge in slamming the post-Bulls Michael, Michael the corporate entity, that he forgets something crucial. Take this passage:
    He gave of himself very little, and that only to sell us something. Now, the NBA has moved on—to people like Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony, and, especially, to LeBron James—and it seems to be experiencing something of a competitive renaissance, and Michael Jordan seems like nothing more than a strategy the NBA once used to sell itself, his career an abandoned TV commercial. He's gone from the game without a single footprint. He built upon the work of others, but he left very little of his own behind.
    This is, at best, patently absurd. All three players mentioned might be great right now, better in the future, but there will always be one thing hanging over them, unless their career breaks all logic. They will never be Michael Jordan and they will constantly be reminded with every magical game and even with every possible championship that they have a ceiling named Jordan. Like the monument in front of the United Center, Jordan's career, his achievement and what he and his name and his game mean casts an enormous shadow over every player with similar skills, who happens to play Jordan's position or close to it. Kobe Bryant continues to struggle with this, and Jordan has his unseen hand in Bryant's mania, which led to his decision to force out Shaq, and want to win a title on his own, which most rightly or wrongly believe Jordan did again and again. Pierce does worse disservice to history and reason:
    Michael Jordan was a great player. He also was a great salesman. And that was all he ever was, and that seems to be all that he ever will be. There's nothing wrong with that. He made some great plays and some pretty good commercials. Has anyone so completely dominated his sport and left so small a mark upon it?
    For every player in this era, they will forever be compared to Jordan or, more importantly, their potential legend will be diminished by the oversized legend of Jordan. For God's sake, every two guard with a lot of hype around him, with his mid range jumper, acrobatic dunks, rhetoric of "championships" is forever "the next Jordan." And even if that kills you, as it did to Harold Miner's short career, it can taint what could be a magical run for any player, as it did with Bryant, and could, if things go a certain way, to Anthony or Lebron or Iverson. Jordan is the goal for these players, an untouchable icon, and perhaps the phantom that can't ever be caught. The notion he hasn't left his mark makes me think Pierce hasn't been paying attention at all. Jordan is the fucking monolith. Everywhere you go, he's there, and few may ever get out of his shadow and emerge on their own with the same sort of stature that Jordan, no matter his current flailings, has and will always have, until someone like Lebron James makes us forget who that guy who stuck out his tongue was. And that seems about as likely as it ever was for the Knicks of beating Jordan. That said, we are living in a new era, where the Red Sox have won a World Series, so anything is possible. But Pierce really wants to make Jordan a failed symbol of American consumerism:
    However, too often, Jordan's vast success as a pitchman is misinterpreted as being as revolutionary a development as Elvis' first appearance at Sun Studios or Jackie Robinson's first appearance at Ebbets Field, when it actually was soulless and almost completely devoid of any lasting resonance outside of pure consumerism. Seriously, how many fewer hamburgers would McDonald's have sold had the young Michael Jordan taken up the saxophone instead? The man determined early on to be a walking blue-chip portfolio; his choice of conglomerates was of a perfect piece with his entire public life, of which it can be fairly said that Michael Jordan never took any risk that might cost him a dime.
    Spare me. This is entirely unfair, especially with the comparison to Robinson who broke the color barrier. Jordan didn't have such an obstacle to overcome, but if he will not be remembered politically or culturally, he may forever be remembered for what he did, play basketball, at another level, better than anyone else. He is in the mind of so many kids, in so many gyms, on so many courts. He's the goal, the ceiling, the shadow. He's what you wish you could be, if only you were that good. You might never be, but you can strive and strive and strive. He's the game. It's one thing to hate him, it's another to underestimate him.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2005

    Quote of the Day

    "It's not only the European Union and globalisation we have to free our country of. It's also the lies about its history, lies that are protected by exceptional measures. In France, at least, the German occupation was not particularly inhumane, although there were some blunders, inevitable in a country of 550,000 sq km." - "AIDS-itorium Activities Director" Jean-Marie Le Pen

    The only thing dumber than this statement might be France's anti-racism laws which make such things as denial of the Holocaust a crime, punishable by fine or jail time. Laws like these are vile, no matter how vile their targets may be.

    Log Cabin

    If you thought Liam Neeson liked dudes in Kinsey, just wait until he plays Lincoln. Saarsgard as Seward? Will Spielberg top Ford?

    Let My Cameron Go

    In the standard, pre-breakup, let's talk about breaking up in general terms, while one or the other knows that the person who's brought the subject up, no matter how much they may deny it, has been thinking about ending the relationship, if not for a lengthy period of time, at least long enough to have considered the pros and cons of talking about it with you, one or both parties always says something entirely bogus like, "no matter what, let's always be friends," or "I just want you to be happy." Prior to the actual signing of Carlos Beltran, the Mets current center fielder Mike Cameron made a big point to tell members of the media (and, supposedly, members of the front office) that he would gladly move to right field to accomodate Beltran. He probbaly thought, like most Mets fans, that signing Beltran was nothing more than a pipe dream or delusions that the Wilpons might spend their money the way that other New York team likes to. But, surprise surprise, Omar Minaya convinced Beltran to sign with the Mets and now Mike Cameron has no interest in being civil and staying friends. He doesn't want a new role. He wants out. Cameron's out until May post wrist surgery, but there are suitors for his services: Arizona, Oakland, Houston, and maybe even the Yankees. Minaya might best trade Cameron for either a back end of the rotation starter and then trade Trachsel for bullpen help or skip the intermediate step just outlined and trade Cameron for relief help. Moving Cameron would make signing Delgado slightly less costly towards the overall budget and might well open the door for Magglio Ordonez to sign a one year, look my knee is fine contract to patrol the ground once tread by Darryl Strawberry and everyone's favorite bullpen brawler, Karim Garcia. Now, maybe, Cameron may change his mind and want to give it another go round, but that rarely ever works out. Cut the cord now, before all the ugly crying, object throwing, and vicious accusations. Breaking up is hard to do, but when you have someone new, who's way hotter/better, the pain quickly goes away.

    Monday, January 10, 2005

    Quote of the Day

    "An assortment of gay spokesmen have taken exception to those of us who wrote about the late Susan Sontag and who laid insufficient stress upon her sex life. I affirm my own guilt, here, and for the following reasons. I saw her in all kinds of mixed company but was never admitted into any confidence. Nor was I ever able to make, even had I wanted to do so, an informed speculation. Susan's attitude, expressed with great dignity and bearing, was that she did not mind what conclusion was drawn, but she did not feel that it was anybody's business but her own. Her selection of friends was highly various and eclectic, and she was early and brave in helping those who suffered from AIDS, but this was also a logical and moral extension of her earlier commitment to cancer victims. If it's of any interest, my most vivid memory of her discoursing on physical beauty and sexual charisma was in respect of a man. There might be a case for some kind of "disclosure" in the instance of a public figure who was "in denial," but it would be absurd and contemptible to place Susan Sontag in that category. She didn't ask. She didn't tell, and some of those who wanted to make a noise when she had only just died might profit from studying her good taste and reserve." - Hitch bites back at Sully

    Sunday, January 09, 2005

    Float On


  • How to best spend a rainy Saturday night in L.A.? With Graham Greene and Carol Reed. Natch. The Fallen Idol and The Third Man at a UCLA retrospective on Graham Greene. Prior to the screening, I had shamefully nevin heard of The Fallen Idol, a charming film of friendship that slowly but surely turns into a tense and agonizing thriller, whose resolution remains unclear to the very end. There are two masterful sequences, one involving the slow descent of a paper airplane, the other involving a bobby pin. I don't want to ruin it, considering that a lot of you have probably never seen the film. So, go and find it.

  • The 10 Worst Album Covers of All Time. Joyce and Orleans might be well served to get together. What am I saying? Joyce would just end up feeling like a sixth wheel. (via Anticlown)

  • Images from Richard Linklater's Philip K. Dick adaptation, Waking Life infused A Scanner Darkly and rumors that the first lady of the OV is in the Wachowskis and Joel Silver produced V for Vendetta. (via AICN)

  • Allow me to jinx the Mets. Carlos Beltran has decided not to re-sign with Houston, and appears to be close to signing with the Metropolitans. The deal is worth between $15-17 million per season, over 7 years. (Exorbinant? Yes. Necessary in order to compete? Without a doubt. Worth it? It can debated if anyone is worth that much, but that question is not applicable in this discussion, especially when you consider what this team gave to Kris Benson or has given, in the past, to many a player, none of whom were worth the amount they were paid. That said, Carlos Beltran is not Roger Cedeno, but he's also not A-Rod, the great non-signing of the past few years for the Mets. Just think of how many games A-Rod's "running motion" might have won for them last year, down the stretch, when everything fell apart.) Apparently, this expenditure will not stop the Mets from continuing their pursuit of Carlos Delgado, who may be had for $13 million per, over four years. (All the same questions apply, as do all the same answers. If you think Eric Valent or Jason Phillips is enought at first base, that's fine. I mean, you've lost your shit and shouldn't be allowed to say such things out loud without being smacked over the head with a small stack of 8x10 glossies of Rico Brogna, but I digress.) Beltran's signing would mean shifting Mike Cameron to right field or trading him, with the shift most likely, and, potentially, considering the budget for a moment, might mean trading Cliff Floyd to a team that could afford the remaining two years on his contract without forcing the Mets to pay his salary and/or take back a large contract in return. With Pedro signed and Beltran close to being signed, the Mets have made a splash, but they haven't done everything. They still have holes in the bullpen (Felix Heredia's rag arm is the only "new" item acquired, with Scott Strickland's surgically repaired arm another possible addition), and unless Delgado is also signed, they have a big hole at first base, unless the begoggled Jason Phillips is still considered an option (he shouldn't be). But now that I've said all this, Steinbrenner will grab the phone and end all hope in Flushing.

  • Spencer is alive and well. Fear not, kiddies, goldenfiddle will be back.

  • From Beatty and Bo Goldman to Milos and Norton to Depalma, Koepp and Cage to the Hughes brothers and Depp to Jim Carrey to Michael Mann to Marty. The long road to telling the story of Howard Hughes.

  • Friday, January 07, 2005

    One More Than Four (J issued Challenge Edition)

    As per The J's challenge, here are five moments that stuck with me from the year in cinema:

  • Sidways: Miles (Paul Giamatti) doing the crossword puzzle, in pen, while stuck in traffic on the freeway.

  • Spanglish: Flor (Paz Vega) and Bernice's (Sarah Steele) awkward hug (Bernice goes all out, Flor holds back) after Paz has altered the size too small clothes Bernice's mother has bought for her.

  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Jim Carrey thinking of nothing but Clementine in the back seat of David Cross and Jane Adams' car, all the while ignoring their argument.

  • Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle: The pyromaniacal outburst by Anthony Anderson as an employee working the drive thru window at a Burger Shack that has taken the place of White Castle.

  • Along Came Polly: In the otherwise dreadful comedy, Hank Azaria's question, "Are you for scuba?" killed me and I don't exactly know why.

  • The Year in Film

    The Top Ten of 2004:

    How To Deal

    10. Birth - An immaculately crafted ghost story without any actual ghosts. Haunting without having much emotional resonance, but that opinion comes from just one viewing. There are narrative elements that fall apart or don't deliver and yet and yet and yet. I can't get it out of my head, be it Alexandre Desplat's score or Kidman's face at the theater or the boy's collapse in the hallway or so many other operatic touches from director Jonathan Glazer. A scene that sticks with me most of all is at the film's opening, where Kidman and Danny Huston are celebrating their engagement. Peter Stormare, a friend from the past, a friend of her dead husband, has been invited and has arrived, without his wife on his arm. There's this incredible mixture of emotions as Stormare, Kidman, and Huston interact. Huston especially pulls off such a great casual jealousy, that is at once obvious and at the same time unclear. He isn't worried about the man standing before him who his wife is so pleased to see, but for the unseen man represented by Stormare's presence. Before the child claiming to be her dead husband shows up, the ghosts of the past have already been ushered in.

    9. Team America: World Police - A crude and rude middle finger to (d) all of the above. There are some who that believe that Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ and Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 neatly organized the country's citizens into two boxes this year: red or blue, left or right, Democrat or Republican, closeted gay masochist sons of Nazi sympthathizers or Park Avenue residents with penchants for kite flying, Happy Meals, and compulsive fibbing. For those of us not too keen on being placed in said box, labeled or handed a bumper sticker ("War Is Not The Answer" or "9 out of 10 Terrorists Agree: Anyone But Bush"), it let us laugh a little and not feel so ronery.

    Heroes to Zeros

    8. The Incredibles - Whip smart, with energy to spare, Brad Bird's entry into the Pixar canon proves not just that he has the goods (and a great talent for voice work to boot), but that the Pixar brand is about as dependable as you may get. It's not Toy Story 2 or the wondrous Kurosawa and Gershwin infused and terribly underrated A Bug's Life, but it's close. And that's plenty.

    7. Collateral - Like Paul Thomas Anderson's San Fernando Valley, Mann's city is alive, filled with beauty, pain, excitement, and horror, teeming with music from car stereos, clubs or the internal soundtracks of the characters, and enlivened with the cacophonous accents and languages of the various ethnicities in the most diverse city in the world (a fact frequently forgotten by east coast snobs who like to think everyone here is blonde, surgically enhanced, and white). Like Heat, Collateral mixes a gritty, tough, slightly cynical brand of story and character with an operatic sense for the struggle between obsessives (and for the obsessives themselves), be they cops, criminals, cab drivers, lawyers, or hit men. Anderson gets this place inside and out. David Lynch crawls inside its head, the dreams/nightmares of its denizens, and even those who dream about it from afar. Quentin plays in it. And Michael Mann lives it. Like Jamie Foxx's character Max says, "It's home."

    Forget Me Not

    6. The Bourne Supremacy - Paul Greengrass picks up where Doug Liman left off and makes the character of Jason Bourne even richer in complexities, a broken toy of CIA bureaucrats, made to come to terms with bits and pieces of the past he can't remember and is unwilling to forget. It's a relentless picture, hurtling forward toward a conclusion less about tidying up a serpentine plot, and more about a man trying to make amends for decisions made for him and actions he bears responsibility for.

    5. Bad Education - "The book says, we might be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us." Three stories overlap, each something of a half truth, more or less, all revolving around a blackmail plot, less about money, and much more about revenge. But Almodovar digs deeper and complicates things further, making everything a game of power, sexual dominance, and role reversal and absorption. It is the story of an actor, insecure of self, bent on taking the life, stories, pain, and passions of others for his own benefit. It may wear him out, it may bring him to tears, but it won't stop him. Anything for the sake of his craft. It is often the case, as it is with Kevin Spacey's "ode" to Bobby Darin, where the notion of a film within a film within a film is only there to flash the cleverness of the artist, but here, Almodovar, obsessed with film, as are many of his characters, be it with the craft of filmmaking, the craft of acting, or the reverence for film's stars, uses this technique not as a device to safely distance himself or us from the subject at hand, but to force us, by utilizing familiar elements of genre, to tap directly into it.

    Flying High

    4. Sideways - There's an unfortunate thing that happens this time of year. A film is drowned in accolades, critical awards, nominations, etc., we forget that the film itself is not just fodder for "For Your Consideration" ads, and the tide turns against it. Is it really that good? Isn't it just about a bunch of ugly, middle aged guys lusting after the chick from Candyman? I'm a big fan of Taylor/Payne's first two films, wicked satires that find time to point a finger at all sides, and still have empathy for all. About Schmidt, however, seemed to strain under itself, unable to balance the beautifully nuanced performance of Jack Nicholson with a comedy where in his sad sack is an outsider, desperately yearning for affection or connection. There was so much work done with Jack and so little with Hope Davis or Dermot Mulroney or Kathy Bates that one felt the enterprise to be entirely rigged. I think it's interesting that Jack can only find connection with an impoverished child on another continent, perhaps showing him that there is a bigger world than the one he knows, but simply, I felt like Payne and Jim Taylor left Jack out in the rain and locked the door. And that is why Sideways was such a welcome surprise. Payne and Taylor balance their incisive humor with their usual brand of pathos. Two middle aged losers, one a malcontented drunk (the great Paul Giamatti, though, admittedly, in a role he needs to start growing out of or run the risk of falling into routine), the other an insecure actor led around by his cock (Thomas Hayden Church in a wonderfully grating performance), go to wine country and find women they don't deserve, not because of differences in physical beauty, but because they're both pricks. But if Miles cannot express his true self in conversation or only do so in small doses, he can apparently write his heart and touch another lonely soul who he connects with on many levels. As he knocks on the door to Virginia Madsen's apartment, he has finally stopped staggering, at least for a second, and taken a step forward.

    3. The Aviator - A bombastic epic of a man bent on being remembered, of changing a world that will eventually swallow him up. People are unwilling to accept it (and by this, I especially mean men my age) that Leonardo Dicaprio, if not a great "actor" (whatever the fuck that means), is a supremely gifted movie star and gives here, maybe, his best performance yet. And then there's Cate. The moment where she is mending Leo in the bathroom and warns him of the danger of celebrity is one of my favorite scenes of the year, and if you weren't already aware, Miss Blanchett might just be the best actress we have. But, of course, the real show here is Marty, who puts together, with an A-grade team of filmmakers, a dazzling piece of entertainment, that never once lags in its three hours. Of course, I'm a great defender of Gangs of New York and think that everyone who has turned on Marty is insane, so, I suppose you should take my thoughts with a grain of salt, that is, if you're crazy too. This is big budget, big canvas, big Hollywood filmmaking at its very best.

    Remember Me

    2. Before Sunset - Before Sunrise seemed to me a perfect film about being twenty or so. You're passionate and angry and a little too much of both about everything. You not only love the idea of meeting a beautiful girl or boy on a train in a country in which you don't live, but you love talking about meeting a beautiful girl or boy on a train in a country in which you don't live. Your feelings towards that other person may be genuine, but they can also be, slightly, fleeting. It may not be until that girl or boy is gone that you realize just what it was you were feeling or what you could feel if just given another chance or more time. Not to say that any of this improves with age, but, maybe, in one sense, you may think more of yourself or your opportunities as fleeting, forcing you to attempt to grab a hold of that which you perceive to be worth grabbing. And here is a sequel of necessity, asking the question of what might happen, years later, if those same two young people met up again, now with more complications to keep them apart, but a back story that might pull them closer. That question is answered in the most perfect ending of the year. In any other year, it would rank atop my list. But...

    1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - This spot has been occupied by this film since I saw it, blubbering my way out of the Galleria, hit harder emotionally by a film than I had been in some time. I saw it again, cried some more, and the film had not lost a thing. The unkempt love story of which this film is about is one of the most beautifully rendered in recent cinema history. Yes, I just said that. And in twenty years, this might be the only thing anyone's talking about when they talk of the films of 2004. This one will last. This one won't be forgotten. All the bits and pieces and fragments that are the staple of Charlie Kauffman's storytelling style have an enormous impact here, of all the small things, be they rapturous or petty, good or bad, that make us love another person, make us love love, make us want to try again, or make us afraid to commit to another person. An out and out masterpiece.

    Honorable Mention: Spanglish, Criminal, A Home at the End of the World, A Very Long Engagement, Mean Girls, Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, Spiderman 2, Million Dollar Baby, Closer, Touching the Void, Super Size Me, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Hellboy, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

    Yeah, Not So Much: The Day After Tomorrow, The Village, Secret Window, Along Came Polly, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Hero, Kinsey, Outfoxed, Van Helsing, Troy, Young Adam, Garden State (Despite Nat's best efforts.), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Ocean's Twelve, The Dreamers, Saved!, The Manchurian Candidate (The most unnecessary remake, convinced that its predecessor needed improving or modernizing. Just plain stupid.), We Don't Live Here Anymore, The Door in the Floor (Oh, Mimi.), I Heart Huckabees, The Terminal, Undertow, Finding Neverland, Chasing Liberty

    The Ulee Kunkel Award: Dogville

    Bottom Dwellers:

    5. (tie) King Arthur

    Dear Uncle Jerry,

    I may not be your biggest fan, nor an admirer of the frequent trips to the magical cave that you took me on two summers ago with Johnny, Keira, and that wooden soldier, Orly. But, at the very least, I felt like you took me there with the best of intentions. Sadly, now, I must ask that you stop taking me on trips when drunk or in the company of, one, Mister David Franzoni. That day when you made me watch you flush all that money down the toilet was upsetting. And when you read to me from those books that Mr. Franzoni and Mr. Fuqua claimed were their source material for their historically accurate take on King Arthur and his knights, and I then later found the book to be a ledger of some sort, covered in red ink, with added chapters entitled, "Excuses for Poor Opening Weekend" and "Lies to Tell at Junkets," I honestly felt a little used. So, to sum up: bad Uncle Jerry. Bad. Bad. Bad. I know you won't learn your lesson, but I hope you will at least feel guilty, if just for a second.

    Sincerely,
    Tim

    5. (tie) In Good Company - Entirely bogus, tone deaf, and out of touch. For all the people who shit on Spanglish, it at least attempts to, if not altogether suceeds at dealing with issues of class. Here, I get an angry or naive teenager's vision of how the world works, how corporate America is, or how the generations clash. Defenders of the film claim that it's about a younger generation learning that they've been lied to, that the dream they're pursuing is false. In reality, it's about a younger generation learning that the dream is true, that success is possible, but only if they listen to the older generation which has figured it out for the most part and knows much more than them and if they do, they can have a job they believe in, a family who loves them, and a three car garage in suburbia. It's great lesson, it seems, is to "find yourself." Gag me with a spoon. But the real problem is no one's convincing here and neither are any of the relationships. It's always sad watching a movie where everyone's supposed to know each other and be close and all they seem to have done is nodded to one another at craft services and found their mark.

    4. Open Water - The only logical thing to do is root for the sharks. Sadly, the sharks take their sweet time and the audience is left with two very bad actors bitching and moaning to each other. Maybe they'll just drown? Nope. Will they kill each other? One could hope, but, alas, no. So, we then must wait for the sharks to swoop in and kill. And what sort of sharks are these anyway? In Jaws: The Revenge, the shark: (a) kills with a purpose (see: the title, which is either a reference to the original shark coming back to life and exacting revenge or some sort of child of said shark coming back to make amends) (b) travels from Amity to the warm waters of the Bahamas to further hunt down individuals in his elaborate revenge plot (c) shows no mercy, kills multiple people in the time span of the film, and provides the audience, frightened by Lorraine Gary's Skeletor face and Mario Van Peebeles hair or accent or mere presence, with enough cheap thrills and carnage to get us to ignore all of its many laughable failures. The sharks in Open Water are just lazy. It's the bad actors that should die right away. You wait til the end to kill the people anyone could ever even possibly like or feel for. Instead, we get the stand-ins bobbing in the water, having one grating conversation after another, and all you can do is hope and pray for them to die, so you can just go home. If you're in the market for a "ride or die" shark, you've come to the wrong place. If you wanted these sharks to kill for you, and swim to the warm waters of the Bahamas, they'd probably give you some lame story about how sharks don't swim in warm waters or how they don't have the mental acumen to seek revenge or some other such nonsense. Lazy fucks.

    3. The Phantom of the Opera - Joel Schumacher is often lauded for his eye towards casting, his frequent ability to discover up and coming talent. This skill is the frequent defense when Schumacher's lack of skill in all other departments is discussed. The funny thing here is simple. For all his lack of visual invention or subtlety and/or good taste in regards to production design or costumes, it would be thought that, again, Joel could fall back on his one marketable attribute. Instead, he has cast a Phantom who cannot sing. And no amount of mixing will do the trick. When I sing along to music in my car, I like the music to be really loud, because as much as I enjoy the act of singing along, I don't enjoy hearing myself singing. If I just had better cheekbones, I might get to be in a musical. Along with a stunningly beautiful Christine with less than stellar pipes and questionable acting chops, and a lifeless male counterpart, whose brand of singing wouldn't even serve him well with Simon, Randy, and Paula, Joel's got himself a cast to be reckoned with. The film can be criticized on many counts, but when you can't even get out of the starting gate, there isn't much point in dwelling on the obvious.

    2. The Brown Bunny - Next time, if he desires to get even closer to the core of it all, Vincent Gallo might try removing a rib or two. I hear that helps.

    1. Beyond the Sea - This film is not about Bobby Darin, Bobby Darin's music, Bobby Darin's activism, Bobby Darin's marriage to Sandra Dee, Bobby Darin's illness, Bobby Darin's family life or his relationship to his mother. It's not about anything. It's about a sad little man yelling at us for two hours, preening in front of a mirror and begging us to watch. Look at me. I can sing. I can dance. I can kick mud in the faces of my fellow actors, cover their mouths when they want to speak, nudge them behind the curtain so that I can take another curtain call. A bottomless pit of narcissism, made worse by the ugliness of its craft. Contemptible.

    Tuesday, January 04, 2005

    Children of the Corn

    Akiane ("Child Prodigy," "Realist Painter") is to shitty paintings what Mattie Stepanek was to shitty poems. Josh, take it away...

    Sunday, January 02, 2005

    Boobenslippen

    Sometimes, even with your best effort, you cannot contain the Dunsts. (Scroll down.) (via weblog)