Tuesday, January 31, 2006

And with all the subtlety of a jackhammer to the temple, the award goes to...

The Oscar nominations are out, and it's nice to see Defamer hates Crash even more than I do.

This is the nightmare scenario they concocted.

Even in the fog of semi-consciousness, we found it odd that Crash could be nominated twice in the same category, but quickly wrote off the mild cognitive dissonance to the fact that if the Academy could be so wrong about the movie, they could easily have awarded it the unprecedented double-nod.

I mean, seriously, is there really a case to be made that Crash is in any way a better movie than A History of Violence, The Constant Gardener or Walk the Line? Or even Batman Begins, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire or Sin City? If the Academy had a pair, those last three would have been given serious consideration.

Oh, I forgot - Crash has an "important message," and that message is shocking and audacious. Repeat after me, kids: "Racism is bad." Thanks for that revelatory life-changer there, dipshits.

Random Hollywood musings (AKA the last time I write about this trip, I sort of promise)

So anyway, this Kiefer Sutherland thing bears telling. "24" is one of my favorite shows, and the first six episodes of the new season are easily the best yet. Sutherland's Jack Bauer is quite possibly the biggest capital-B Badass to ever grace TV screens - at the very least, he'd put up a strong fight against Michael Chiklis's Vic Mackey, James Gandolfini's Tony Soprano, and Norman Fell's Stanley Roper.

It's my last night in Beverly Hills, and Jamie comes back from doing red carpet interviews all day (listen to Q-100 this week to hear some cool stuff). Everybody that went to the SAG awards has been ushered to an People Magazine afterparty, so I'm accepting that Great Celebrity Watch 2006 is over with. Which is cool, if only because I've been playing the part of a celeb-stalking dork for a couple of days, but it's quite honestly not my thing.

Jamie and I walk out of the hotel, and ask the concierge to call us a cab. Within 10 seconds, a stretch limo pulls up, goes about 15 feet past us, and the back door swings open. The first thing I see is a SAG Award trophy emerge, clutched by a pretty massive hand. It appears we have one final Sighting, and our concluding celeb is Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who plays Mr. Eko on another favorite shows, "Lost." (Although truthfully, I immediately thought of his previous role, as the gang-banging, drug-inhaling rapist on "Oz." I didn't mention this to anyone). His trophy is for "Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series," and we break into applause and Jamie yells "Congratulations!" This prompts Eko to break into a wide smile and do a little dance with statue in hand. A good moment.

The Four Seasons awaits, though, and it will be our third time there. Other than the "Lost" castmembers, this is the place I've seen all the famous faces on the trip. Again, though, we're not expecting anything tonight.

We walk into the bar, make a loop through to find a decent seat, and wind up only a couple of tables away from none other than Kiefer himself, holed up with friends and family only about three hours after he won a SAG award for "Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series."

The Award has apparently had a strange effect on him, though, as his eyelids are half-shut, and even his friends seem to be paying attention to anybody but him. OK, let's make it plain: the guy is loaded.

After about an hour, Kiefer gets up and stumbles to the bathroom. On the way back, a particularly rowdy group of well-wishers starts yelling "Kiefer! Jack Bauer!" The esteemed actor reacts in the only way I see possible: he gives them a wicked smile, starts dancing (the night's theme, apparently), holds up his hands and starts flicking them off, one hand after the other. Over and over.

My immediate text message to a few friends still stands true: "Kiefer Sutherland is fucking lit - flicking off random people and stumbling around at the 4 Seasons bar. This is the greatest moment of my life."

Up until now, everything was good. I am seeing a prominent actor - one who had just won a major award a few hours earlier - letting off some steam in a way that's hurting no one. But then,... I stand next to him.

This is a little while later, when he stumbles out behind me at the cabstand. It turns out Jack Bauer, TV's best tough guy, asskicker of terrorists worldwide, beater-upper of countless professional assassins - is a freaking midget.

IMDB has him listed at 5'10". I'm 5'10". This guy isn't even close to 5'10". Not only that, but he is apparently on the Nicole Richie diet, and looks about a buck o'five. I could kick Jack Bauer's ass, nevermind what a hired killer could do. (Methinks we're counting the number of days before "24" has to go on hiatus because its star is suffering from, ahem, "exhaustion").

The good news: I managed to watch "24" last night and still enjoy the hell out of it. I bought it when Jack beat the ever-living crap out of someone, when Kiefer couldn't have even mussed the guy's hair. I ate it up when two women, both undeserving of Jack but wildly deserving of Kiefer, fought over him. And I even overlooked the fact he didn't slur a single word, clearly the results of some wicked sound editing.

At least I was fully loaded

La Lohan's absence is thankfully explained, which puts my Trifecta-based disappointment at ease a little bit. If we weren't even on the same continent, I can hardly blame myself.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Insert your own clever hobbit pun here

I'm not sure where my neck disappeared to when this was taken.

East coast playa

I'm back in Atlanta, though too tired to spend more than a few sentences here - maybe tomorrow,...

As I know you're breathless with anticipation, I will reveal the bad news: no members of The Trifecta were spotted. I blame Sundance.

All was not lost, though, with Day three celebrity sightings:
  • Kiefer Sutherland (more on this later)
  • "Lost" star Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
As you might have guessed, the "Lost" cast was staying in our hotel, making them a bit easier to spot.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Trifecta not in play... yet

Day two celebrity sightings:
  • Morgan Freeman
  • "Lost" stars Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim and Dominic Monaghan
  • Christopher Meloni ("Law & Order: Special Victims Unit")
Sure, I guess Morgan Freeman is OK at what he does. I mean, he was great and all in Hard Rain. However, the absence of any members of The Trifecta is alarming.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

"Californiaaa, CALIFORNIAAAAAAAA, here we come!"

It's Saturday morning, I've been in Beverly Hills for 20 hours, and I've yet to see any of The Trifecta.

This trip will be a failure if I fail to witness any of those three in action. The weekend is young, however.

Day One: Sister and I arrive in Los Angeles at about 1 p.m. west coast time, courtesy of an uneventful Delta flight (uneventful flights are the best kind). Again, we're out here so she can cover the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night from the red carpet. The Guild has paid for her trip, her hotel room, all transportation, given her (us) $300 spending cash, and put us on the guest lists of exclusive clubs all weekend (the Ashton Kutcher-owned Geisha House and Concorde, for those in the know). Not only that, but Bloomingdales lent her a $3,000 dress and $500 shoes, she got a free tan, and a free $200 haircut - just for mentioning the respective companies on the air.

Not a bad gig if you can get it.

I fail to see any celebrities within five minutes of exiting the plane, which pisses me off - until I see the limo driver holding up a sign with "Massey" on it. The driver is absurdly young, skinny, and black - details that mean nothing in a larger sense, but I'm immediately wishing I was carrying a big stuffed bear. If he plays "Christmas in Hollis" when we get into the car, I might wet myself.

An hour later - traffic is our first authentic Los Angeles experience - we get to the hotel (Le Meridian of Beverly Hills), check in, meet the SAG promoters, and drop everything off in our room. Our 6th floor digs look out onto the Hollywood hills, the Flynt Publications (Hustler) building, CBS and Cedars-Sinai. So if I have a heart attack, want to love Raymond, or run out of porn, I'm set.

Jamie has to go off to a dinner I'm not invited to, and she's off with the other "major market DJs." I meet the group, and it reaffirms my belief that all stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason - the whole "face for radio" thing is 100% accurate, sister excluded. Jamie is looking hot, but even Anne Ramsey would have looked mildly sexy with this crowd.

In the hotel lobby just after Jamie leaves, a woman approaches and asks if I want to get some coffee. In Cali for only a couple hours, and I'm already getting asked out. OK, so she is one of the SAG promoters, and OK, she's in her late 50s, but her South African accent sweeps me off my feet. We end up at The Grove, a place for hip and wannabe-hip folks to eat, shop and mingle with - well, mingle with the other shoppers, I guess. Because the whole time we have coffee, as she's telling me about promoting the World Cup, the Grammys, the Sundance Awards, etc., I keep a constant eye out for a member of The Trifecta. And getz none.

Eventually I'm by myself, shopping a little and walking the mile hike back to the hotel. I see absurdly expensive clothes shops, absurdly nice cars, and absurdly good-looking people.

Jump ahead a couple of hours - skipping past a dull trip to the Beverly Center, and various "getting ready to go out" activities - and Jamie and I, along with a much younger SAG promoter, head over to the Four Seasons. Our Celebrity Sighting Count is still at zero, and you can always count on the Four Seasons bar to increase your digits.

And oh yes, the bar was hopping. Within 10 minutes, we run into Robert Duvall, Paul Bettany and Daniel Benzali (you probably know his face). On our way out, I even brush past Enrique Iglesias. Now that's hot.

We end up mildly intoxicated at Concorde, a club LA.com describes this way: "To enter this realm, it's best to have your own TV show or be friends with the owner - although even the owner has to give up his own VIP table if an A-lister needs it." So The Trifecta could be in play here, right? Or at least a Muniz Convergence of the Frankie Kind?

Perhaps Sundance has drained LA of its young, dumb and full of come crowd, but there was not a single A, B or C-lister in sight (although some guy claiming to be on "Grey's Anatomy" hit on Jamie at one point). Even the club promoter admitted to Jamie that something was off. That was right before he put us on tonight's list for the even more exclusive LAX.

This stuff happens to Jamie, and you really need to hang around her more to catch her table scraps.

Anyway, so that's the plan for tonight, as well as another trip to the Four Seasons (yes, Jamie made friends with the doorwoman - who just happened to own property in Conyers, who just happened to need a lawyer, and who just happened to mention all of this to a girl who knows a property-rights attorney based in Conyers). She has us down as VIP as well.

It's best if we all just go ahead and accept our places in the universe. George Clooney will probably be pregnant with her baby before the weekend is over.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Thursday Random 10: When Nature Calls

Have you ever stopped to count your blessings? To take stock of all the good things in your life? To just look in the mirror and say, "I'm one lucky son of a bitch?" Well, it wouldn't surprise me if you strain your neck trying to fellate yourself, because you, my friend, are one sexy beast and - even better - a fortunate one to boot.

You get to read two Random 10s in a span of four days.

Last week's Friday Random 10 was delayed to Monday, due to a weekend of writing laziness and raging bender supermodel parties (one out of two ain't bad). And this week's FR10 is being pushed up a day, due to an early Friday flight to Los Angeles, yours truly in seat 21A.

The Screen Actors Guild Awards are on Sunday night, and I'm headed out to the west coast to partake in the festivities, staying in a hotel room paid for by the Guild. And that's actually true,... and much cooler sounding if you don't know any more details. So if you want to spend your day thinking I'm a super badass with all the dope party hookups, stop reading now.


Ok, so you are obviously a member of the "I Love Reveling In Josh's Misery Club." I'm cool with that. Anyway, the truth: my trip to Lala Land is in fact predicated on the SAG Awards. However, if you turn into the live broadcast hoping to catch a glimpse of me, disappointment awaits. I will probably be in a hotel bar somewhere, while my sister glides across the red carpet talking with the stars.

Oh yes, I am riding sister's coattails on this one. She's getting the free flight, the free hotel room, the goody bags, the face-to-face time with George Clooney. I'm getting a plane ticket I paid for, the scraps of left-over room service I find on the hallway floors, and perhaps a cot in the room of her's I'm crashing in. So in actuality, my weekend will be one of being stopped at a velvet rope while Jamie gets ushered past, her texting me 20 minutes later "I jUSTMeT LEO!!1!!1"

1) Queen, "Bohemian Rhapsody"
Anybody else willing to admit they'd never heard this song until Wayne's World? I mean, I was only 15 when it came out, and my flamboyant gay operatic song collection wasn't nearly as vast as it is now.

2) Pearl Jam, "State of Love and Trust"
What's the more dated movie: Singles or Reality Bites? What good movie from the 2000-2005 era will be painful to watch 10 years from now? Will Garden State hold up? Ocean's 11? Mean Girls? Is The Fast and the Furious already painfully dated (even though I did like it)?

3) The Shins, "New Slang"
Speaking of
Garden State...

4) Bruce Springsteen, "Cover Me"

5) Tupac Shakur, "Brenda's Got A Baby"
Upon further listening, this song has absolutely nothing to do with "Beverly Hills 90210." You learn something new every day.

6) Public Enemy, "Lost at Birth"

7) Phil Collins, "In the Air Tonight"
From Public Enemy to Phil Collins... Or perhaps even stranger, from "Apocalypse '91: The Enemy Strikes Black" to the "Miami Vice" soundtrack.

8) U2, "Desire (Live at Point Depot, Dublin, 31 Dec '89)"

9) Avril Lavigne, "Losing Grip"
I'm too old to be embarrassed by stuff like this, so let's go ahead and make it clear. I love Avril Lavigne, almost with the same lightning hot intensity I love Kelly Clarkson. The fact I find neither of them attractive makes my love seem a bit more pure.

10) Thomas Newman, "Main Title (from The War)"
Any time I'm reminded about The War, I'm reminded of my plan to one day remake the film. It's not a horrible movie, it's just missed a chance at greatness. But I've already railed on this before in this space, so let me just reprint it. From my October 28, 2005 Friday Random 10: "They always remake good movies, movies that really don't need to be improved upon. Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Get Carter, The Longest Yard, etc. I know I'm not the first one to say this, but it would be such a better idea to remake bad movies, those movies that contained some promise, but for whatever reason didn't work out. I'm thinking of titles like The War, Punchline, Toys, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Family Business, and anything Richard Attenborough ever directed. These are all movies that might have had something had they been made by different people in different times."

The Biggest Loser, Week 1

As I wrote about a few days ago, my school is running a Biggest Loser contest - whoever can lose the biggest percentage of their weight over six weeks wins about $1,000 (the second place prize is a not-too-shabby $400 now).

To actually get myself to work out and avoid cheese fries, money needs to be involved. However, I'm also going to add a little more pressure by vowing to publicize my weekly results here (weigh-ins are every Thursday morning).

Week one: Lost six pounds.

After a 4-day trip to Los Angeles this weekend, don't expect the same success in week two.

Update, as requested: With 43 people weighing in, I was the 9th "biggest loser." One chick took off over nine lbs. in seven days, which can't be healthy. Check the comments for more specifics. And to answer the obvious question: I am the only guy in the top 10, but there are three more in the contest (four out of 43 ain't bad).

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Confessions of a perpetual 5th grader

Don't you love it when you're typing "and" and accidentally spell out "nad" instead?

I laugh out loud. Every time.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The era of Cletus

"I've been in the closet with it for a while," says Federline.

No, seriously - he really says that.

Tacold turkey

Today marks one month since I've had fast food of any kind.

That means one month without McDonald's, which was easy. One month without Wendy's, which was simple. One month without Burger King, which really is like eight years without Burger King. One month without Krystal,... well, that sorta sucked.

That also means, however, one month without "two Beef Combo Burritos, no onions, and a large Mountain Dew." Which if you put into the Babelfish translator under "from English to taste bud," it means "absolute heaven wrapped in a Taco Bell bag of paradise."

I am not a weak man. Oh no, I am not a weak man.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Monday Random 10: Back in the Habit

I typed most of this on Friday, but didn't get around to posting until today. Thus, the Monday Random 10 is born - for one week only.

In recent years, I've looked at the weekly Nielsen ratings, and seen shows like "Joe Millionaire," "The Bachelor," "Big Brother" and "Dancing With the Stars" dominating the competition. One question always popped into my head: "Who actually watches this crap?" It's like the old joke about Michael Bolton albums: sure he's sold millions, but do you know anybody who actually owns one?

It has taken only a few months of working in an elementary school to figure out who, in fact, does watch that crap: women. By the freaking truckload.

A morning in the mailroom is a morning spent listening to the continued exploits of Simon Cowell, Jeff Probst and an ice-skating Kristy Swanson. It's a "Can you believe that" followed by a "What a conniving" followed by a "Oh, she totally fell for" followed by me pounding rusty nails into my ears to stop the pain.

Something good has emerged out of this pop culture wasteland, however. Apparently there's this show called "The Biggest Loser" in which a bunch of fatasses compete to see who can lose the most weight. Well, a few of my fellow teachers thought this would be a good idea for the staff: a friendly, competitive way to get us all ready for bathing suit weather. There was interest. Quite a lot of it, in fact. With only a $30 entry fee per person, first prize is about $1,000.

If you see me with a french fry in my hand over the next six weeks, punch me in the face.

(I wonder if cutting off an arm counts as losing weight.)

1) Pearl Jam, "Rearviewmirror"
When I occasionally do find the energy to work on my screenwriting, certain songs help map out a story for me - not necessarily the lyrics, but the general vibe or feeling I get from it. "Rearviewmirror" helped me greatly in a story I wrote about a retired baseball star who finds out, contrary to popular belief, he didn't set the hitting record he was most famous for. It turns out a statistical error left him three hits short. It was a pretty depressing human drama, about self-evaluation, and the meaning and true value of personal accomplishments - and the lengths we will go to to preserve our own legacy. Of course, I never did anything with the story, and it's still sitting in my computer somewhere. A couple of years later,... well, this happened. It looks like my story will continue to gather the proverbial dust.

2) Moby, "Porcelain"
I'm somewhat of a bastard. No, that's not a groundbreaking revelation to any regular readers or compatriots, just a little slice of truth. Sometimes I do actually feel bad about my more bastardized moments, while at other times my bastardriffic actions entertain me for many subsequent years. When I decided to be a bastard to Moby, well, I'm still laughing about that. Short story short: the Mobester and I happened to be at the same bar about a year ago, and instead of just ignoring him or engaging in some friendly banter, I decided to go to the jukebox and play like 10 Moby songs back-to-back-to-back. Actually, my original plan was to play Fatboy Slim over and over, and keep going up to Moby and saying, "Oh man, this is my favorite song of yours!" Alas, no Fatboy Slim on the juke.

3) Eminem, "Spend Some Time"
May I be the first to wish the happy couple a long, fruitful life together.

4) Dave Grusin, "Main Theme (The Goonies)"
It was my junior year at UGA, and the campus theater was playing "The Goonies" as their Friday midnight show. I didn't have any article to work on for the school newspaper - and I damn sure wasn't going to go to class - so I decided to see how many "Goonies" castmembers I could interview before the week was up. I hopped on the ol' information superhighway, and started faxing interview requests to agents, publicists, etc. A couple days went by, no calls. And then finally, I get to work on Thursday and the receptionist hands me a note: "Sean Astin called, wants you to call him at home," then it gave the number. That night, I call, and he and I spend close to 2 hours talking about his Goonie days,
Rudy, Toy Soldiers, and many other random things (I think, at the time, he was happy for the attention). My point? Return my calls, and good things will happen to you. Astin has since gone on to star in three of the biggest hits of all time (the Lord of the Rings trilogy), and now has a big role in the new season of 24. The other Goonies, the ones that didn't call me back? I hear Ke Huy Quan will give you a "happy ending" for $20 bucks, and will say "No time for love, Dr. Jones!" for an extra Hamilton.

5) Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Lookin' Out My Back Door"
Doo, doo, doo,...

6) Joe Cocker, "Up Where We Belong (with Jennifer Warnes)"
A good song, probably better than I'm willing to admit. However, this hardly deserved to win the 1982 Oscar for Best Song (for
An Officer and a Gentleman). Need I remind anybody that 1982 was also the year of Rocky III and "Eye of the Tiger?" A quick jaunt to IMDB reveals that, amazingly enough, "Tiger" was nominated - and not at all amazingly, that was the solo nomination for Rocky III.

7) U2, "Even Better Than the Real Thing (A440 Vs U2 Instrumental Remix)"
I wish I had all these instrumental U2 remixes when I did drugs.

8) Willie Nelson, "Whiskey River"
I have 2,500 songs in my iPod, yet this is the second week in a row "Whiskey River" has shown up in the Random 10.
The mystical forces that run this show must be trying to tell me something. Anybody care to hazard a guess?

9) Marvin Berry, "Earth Angel"
Well, it's not really sung by "Marvin Berry" - it's just listed that way because this is the version sung by "Marvin Berry & the Starlighters" in
Back to the Future. Yes, I'm a fucking dork.

10) The Beach Boys, "God Only Knows"
Yet another song corrupted by Boogie Nights, along with "Sister Christian," "Jessie's Girl" and a host of others. That movie used so many songs in such amazing ways, I can never listen to them the same way again. When the makers of Love Actually used "God Only Knows," I half expected Hugh Grant to pull out a 12-inch penis and profess to be a "bright shining star." Which might have made that movie more interesting, come to think of it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"I think it's show time!"

"Arrested Development," which I honestly consider the funniest show in the history of television, has pretty much, sorta, officially been cancelled.

While I'm not going to cry the generic cry ("But 'The War At Home' is still on the air!"), I will implore Showtime to pick up the show and carry on. Three years ago, I would have placed serious money against Jason Bateman ever becoming one of my favorite actors - much less the star of a great show - but it's happened, and it needs to continue. Not since "Twin Peaks" 15 years ago have I felt so strongly about a show, and this misplaced passion should not go to waste.

"Saints introduce Payton as head coach"

That's what the ESPN headline said.

I, of course, wanted to go for the cheap joke: "What are they going to do, prop ol' Walter's corpse up on the sideline? Couldn't be any worse than Jim Haslett, I guess."

And then I clicked on the link.

Walter Payton has been dead for over six years, and I would bet he looks better today than Sean Payton, pictured above. Then again, perhaps he is just a reflection of New Orleans in its current state: worn down, full of oily crevasses, probably a little bit rank.

Wow, I mean, football ain't about looks, but I'm even more thankful for Jim Mora, Jr. now. At least Falcons fans can look over at the sideline without danger of retasting the beer they've already swallowed.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Legends of the mall

I don't know what's going on in this picture, but I want to.

That's Brad Pitt, Debbie Gibson, and the little kid from "Growing Pains," circa - just hazarding a guess here - 1988 or so.

What enigmatic, mystical forces drew them together? Were they fighting crime? Solving ancient mysteries? Writing the great American novel? And was little Ben Seaver staring lustfully at Gibson or Pitt?

The mind boggles.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday Random 10: Jason Lives

A three-day weekend is here, and all I can say is, "Hail Dr. King!" I, for one, plan to celebrate MLK's impressive legacy in the best way I know how - by playing poker and drinking with white women. Oh, and by having a dream about racial harmony, of course.

I'm just irritated because I've been forced to (yet again) watch Our Friend Martin, a horrendous animated MLK special shown to elementary school kids every year. It purports to show what the world would look like today if King hadn't existed.

According to the film, there was apparently nobody else fighting for civil rights, because without King water fountains would still be color-coordinated, blacks would still be in the back of the bus, and Hispanic 3rd graders would have never learned English and have to work hard labor during the school day (seriously, this is what the movie shows). Oh yeah, and it would be overcast or rainy every day - the non-MLK scenario shows daily life as post-apocalyptic, or for you nerds, like the alternate 1985 Hill Valley in Back to the Future Part II.

And, of course, the movie's original "Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School" suddenly transforms into "Robert E. Lee Middle School" when MLK doesn't exist - because without Dr. King, apparently the entire country would be wearing jean shorts and line dancing, "The Dukes of Hazzard" would be entering its 27th season, and Brokeback Mountain would star Heath Ledger and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Of course, the voice talent should probably alert you where this is coming from: Ed Asner, Susan Sarandon, Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover and, well, Jaleel White.

Unfortunately, we're stuck with crap like this because nobody has the balls to make a real movie about King (instead sticking to cartoons, or TV movies that focus on his childhood). King was a real human, with real human tendencies, and we tend to forget that in the rush to idolize him as this perfect creature. Any true film would have to tackle those parts of his personality (including adulterous affairs), and portraying that would come under fire from those who have swallowed the "perfect saint" mythology. That truly stinks, because I think King deserves a real, yet respectful, treatment. And further, the throngs of other civil rights leaders deserve a little credit as well, as their contributions often go ignored.

One of my students asked me today, "How did all those laws get passed after Dr. King died?" He had no idea anybody else was fighting the fight.

End of rant. Now on to the fucking Random 10.

1) U2, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (Live at Point Depot, Dublin, 31 Dec '89)"
Only after last week's Friday Random 10 did I realize U2 hadn't popped up at any point - an FR10 first. It makes sense, then, that it would be first today. Of course, it would have been a little more fitting had it been "Pride," but this ain't bad either.

2) Tom Petty, "You Don't Know How It Feels"
I really like Tom Petty, I just don't like songs that seem to force a drug reference into the lyrics. I mean, it just sounds like a cheap way to gain cool points, like screaming out "I love (name of city)!" at a concert. Petty comes by it honestly, however, so I'll let him slide. I know he's relieved.

3) Nina Simone, "Sinnerman"
Simone (1933-2003) was an accomplished jazz musician, but her music also bled the blues, soul, and R&B. She had a Top 40 hit in 1959, was involved in the American civil rights scene alongside Malcolm X, recorded "House of the Rising Sun" before Bob Dylan, and her "My Baby Just Cares For Me" was one of the most listened to songs of the 20th century.

I, of course, first heard of her when they used this song in "Scrubs."

4) Hootie & the Blowfish, "Only Wanna Be With You"
I've seen Hootie & the Blowfish six times in concert. Darius Rucker has yet to be lynched at any of them. Dr. King's dream has been realized.

5) Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, "Wanna Be Like You"
Remember that "swing" craze, that was the totally "it" thing to do - for like 10 minutes? Man, we were crazy kids. Is that fad the white version of the high-top fade, something that feels completely embarrassing just a few years after the fact?

6) Trey Parker, "Freedom Isn't Free"
A clever parody of the asinine Toby Keith/Alan Jackson post-9/11 country song trend. Funny thing is, it's so good that if you played this in a country bar, nobody would know it was making wicked fun of the genre. Well, that is, unless they really listened to the lyrics and heard the singer ask, "Would you answer the call/Or run away like a little pussy?"

7) Hole, "Celebrity Skin"
It's a shame Courtney Love turned into, well, Courtney Love. I know I'm in the minority, but I thought "Celebrity Skin," Hole's follow-up to "Live Through This," was actually the superior album. Dave thinks this is simply because I'm a fan of overproduced pop pablum and, well, he's probably right.

8) The Outfield, "Winning It All"
A few years ago, I found myself in Atlanta's Roxy theater, at a show headlined by The Outfield. I've seen some big bands play live - U2, The Rolling Stones, R.E.M., Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Fat Boys, Aerosmith - but I've never seen any fans as psychotically dedicated as the ones there. They knew every word, every note, every movement - hell, I bet they knew every bead of sweat that would leap off the band's over-the-hill foreheads.
Scary stuff. But then they sang about Josie being on a vacation far away, so it was all good.

9) Willie Nelson, "Whiskey River"
Speaking of concerts, do yourself a favor and see Willie before he hangs it up (you probably have about 30 more years). It was one of the most impressive feats of "love of the game" I've ever seen from a celebrity. The show's over, Willie has sung his last song - and the band keeps playing. Willie comes back out, drink in hand, and sits on the front of the stage, talking to the fans and signing anything they want. This went on for an hour, with his band's instrumental musings filling Chastain Park all the while.

10) Jermaine Dupri, "Welcome to Atlanta"
"Welcome to Atlanta/
Where the players play/
Hanging' out on LaVista/
Shoppin' at Phipps every day.

Josh M. in the Honda, Dave A. in the Toy'/
Skatin' up at Loco's, lookin' trivia coy/
Beefsteak is back, don't ever forget it bitch/
Sports questions we gettin', cuz' dat's our niche.

And on the weekendz, it's time to roll/
I'm the MAP, "Most Awesomest Player"/
Da fakas step up, they all are like totally gayer/
Monday night, stayin' in and hittin' Netflix/
Tuesday night, getting mah karaoke fix/
Wednesday, I'm at Loco's on North Druidz/
Thursday, jump clean, and I whiten my teeth with da fluidz/
Friday, it's happy hour with da teacheniest peeps/
Saturday, its off the heezy fo sheezy, you can find me up in Wild Bill's-tweezy...

Ok, I'll stop now.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Will Googling yourself make you go blind?

Methinks Andrew's Upstairs really needs to update their booking page (check the second listing from the bottom).

Sonny day

I knew there was a reason I voted for that guy.

Georgia public school teachers could be guaranteed at least a 4 percent pay raise, based on a proposal advanced today by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

For more than half of the state's public school teachers, the raise could amount to up to 7 percent when local salary increases are applied.

Going from $5,000 a year to $5,200 will definitely make a world of difference.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Window dressing

Though it got off to a somewhat shaky start, 2006 has proven to be quite the year so far.

I find myself at school, hanging out with my kids, not wanting to throw a single one of them through a cement wall. A girl has actually returned my phone calls. Driving home, I've been singing in my loudest voice, wind ripping through the open truck windows - the weather has been perfect. The wheels are finally in motion to get my new car. And seriously, a girl really has returned my phone calls.

Today, I get home, and it looks like the rainbows-of-fruit-flavored bouquets keep coming, as Disney has announced a March 14th release of Remember the Titans: Director's Cut.

Remember the Titans
, of course, was the groundbreaking 2000 film starring Denzel Washington. The producers decided my hometown of Atlanta would be an ideal spot for filming, and upon arrival called upon the services of yours truly for a little facetime.

"Massey," they said. "We really need some more talent up on the screen. I mean, sure, Denzel is OK, but he just doesn't have your charisma."

I nodded, took a deep breath, and looked down at my hands. It was purely a drama tactic, however, as I had already found my answer.

"Window dressing," I said. "Sure, I can play one of the football players, or the assistant coach. Or I could even take over for Denzel. Sure, those would all be the obvious things to do. But that's not how we want to go. Oh no, it's not. My talent cannot, for the sake of the film, be limited to one role. Think Eddie Murphy in Nutty Professor, Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove - and then take the performance, you know, up to my standard."

Sure, it was a different way to go, and my decision to excise each one of my scripted lines was selfless. Obviously. But over $100 million at the box office later, I made the right call. As usual.

In the theatrical cut, we get to see Josh as "Restaurant patron." Note the raw sexuality emanating from the right side of the screen.

And, of course, who could forget my turn as "Titan Player #9" (just over the big shoulder)? I worked on this shot with Ryan Gosling (The Notebook) for quite awhile. See how he covers his face to mask his clearly inferior performance? I taught him that.

As for the new Director's Cut, perhaps they'll include this quick close-up (deleted from the original version). This scene called for me to play "Racist Who Won't Eat In the Same Restaurant as Black People #2." It was the finest work of Donald Faison, later of "Scrubs" fame, for sure. He was nervous about working with me, only agreeing to come on the set when I promised he could also share the screen with Steve Barnes (which would make anybody look good).

It's almost irritating, really. Obviously, I forfeited any ancillary rights in order to get the film as wide a release as possible - Denzel's stature certainly wasn't helping matters. And now, the autograph requests will start again, the constant screaming, the girls camping on my lawn. And who needs that?

I just have to remind myself that here we are in my 30th year, and it's treated me right so far. With my current mindset - you know, the mindset that actually had a girl return my freaking calls - I can face any challenge.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Leonard Part 81

UGA tight end Leonard Pope has decided to enter the NFL draft. And though he is my favorite Dawg and it would have been great to watch him one more year,... I can't fault the guy one bit. It's highly unlikely his senior season would raise his stock (especially with an inexperienced QB), and the NFL tends to make Georgia TEs bigger names than Georgia does. This is his time, and he should definitely take it.

After all, I have a personal stake here. I am, in fact, becoming increasingly confident that Pope is my father. Sure, he's more than 7 years younger, 9 inches taller, athletic, and black, but the similarities are just too strong to be coincidence.

We're both men among boys (he's 6'7", I'm a 5th grade teacher), we're both fond of red/black color schemes, we both have two vowels in our last name, we're both hitz with da ladiez, and we can both manipulate physical matter and energy on a cosmic scale simply by using brain waves. True dat.

Admittedly, I am waiting for dad to sign his first NFL contract before I confront him with the truth. Call me a golddigger, but I think by pretending I don't exist for 29 years, he owes me a little something-something. I mean, for the first seven years of my life, he didn't even exist. How selfish. I still love him, though, and can't wait to meet him. When he's rich.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Friday Random 10: Dark Territory

It's a sad Friday Random 10, as the end of an era is upon Atlanta - Music Midtown has been cancelled. Alright, so I haven't been in a few years, and I damn sure wasn't going in '06 short of an announced double-bill of Elvis Presley and Jesus. Still, good times,... good times. Back when I wasn't so old.

Alas, the mood can't remain low for too long, as it's my first work Friday of the new year. I get my first visit to the Georgia Aquarium this weekend (with an actual girl, no less), plus the NFL kicks off its postseason action (now that the Falcons are out, I'm adopting the Bengals and Seahawks as my boyz. A David Greene vs. David Pollack Super Bowl would be third-stringtastic). And to top it all, here comes the Friday Random 10,...

1) Tupac Shakur, "Dear Mama"
It's an old joke to point out Tupac has released like 10 albums since he died. What I find interesting is that his last one mentioned September 11th, "Dancing With the Stars," Dave Roberts stealing a base to help the Boston Red Sox win the World Series in four games, and Napoleon Dynamite. Man, that guy was truly a visionary.

2) R.E.M., "King of Birds"
Last week in this space, I wondered if two R.E.M. songs popping up - two dark-sounding ones, at that - foretold of a Georgia loss in the Sugar Bowl. Thankfully, that game never even happened. You hear that, it never fucking happened.

3) "Saturday Night Live," "Schweaty Balls (featuring Alec Baldwin)"
Personal politics aside, Alec Baldwin remains one of my favorite actors, and it pisses me off he doesn't get better roles. And it's sorta his fault, which is even more annoying. He could still be churning out
Hunt For Red October sequels, but he chose a London stage production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" over Patriot Games. And as much as I like Harrison Ford, Baldwin was the better Jack Ryan. But hey, at least he can still appear in classics like Along Came Polly, and the Ryan role eventually went to Ben Affleck. So everything worked out in the end.

4) Bruce Springsteen, "You're Missing"
From Springsteen's "The Rising," his best album since the '70s. This song is about 9/11, and even I'm not going to make a snarky comment about that. I will, however, point you toward a trailer for
Flight 93, the first theatrical film to directly take on the events of that day. This film will be hard to watch, be it good or bad, but I'll be there.

5) Outkast, "Y'all Scared (with Big Gipp)"
Word. Is it wrong that everytime I see a huge blinged out Hummer in Atlanta, I look in the window just hoping to see Big Boi or Andre? Walking out of the Sugar Bowl monster truck rally last weekend, I spotted one, only to see Jeff Francoeur behind the wheel. Just not the same.

6) Kenny Loggins, "Nobody's Fool"
The Soundtrack King of the '80s, popping up only a couple of days after I enjoyed a bit of
Footloose action on DVD. Two tracks from that movie, two from Top Gun, a memorable ditty from Caddyshack, and even some quality ballads from classics like Over the Top and this one, from Caddyshack II. Ok, so "Loggins on the soundtrack" didn't always equal "film quality," but so what? I think Messina now records music for snuff films and barnyard porn.

7) Shaggy, "It Wasn't Me"
My friend Denise is a fitness trainer for a small, local company, and awhile back asked me to make a CD for her spinning class. She gave me a list of requests, and quite frankly, most of that crap disappeared from my computer the second I handed the CD over (trust me, I would be spinning five hours a day if they would just lower the Usher quotient). Anyway, this track stayed behind - it is awful as well, but pretty damn funny.

8) Glenn Frey, "You Belong To the City"
From the "Miami Vice" soundtrack, and you better recognize. I believe this might have been the first tape I ever owned, even though I wasn't allowed to stay up and watch the show.

9) Simon and Garfunkel, "The Boxer"
Every time I hear this song, I get very violent images in my head - is that weird? It sounds like a peaceful enough song on the surface, but there's this really dark undercurrent to it. Something I just can't put my finger on... At least that's what my dog says, just after he tells me who to kill next.

10) Ludwig Van Beethoven, "Ode to Joy"
Ol' Luddy must have written this on a Friday afternoon...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

More My Heritage goodness...

Refer to the last post if you're behind the times on My Heritage's creepy but cool service (face recognition software that tells what celeb you look like).

Let's see what it thinks of some Martians Attacking Indianapolis regulars... By the way, it doesn't seem to work if the person is wearing a hat or dark glasses, so Dennis, Jason and a few others aren't here because apparently that's all they wear in pictures.

By the way, all of these really, honestly came up as-is.

Sister is Liv Tyler...

Brother is... wow. I freakin' swear this was what came up, hand on the Good Book. And almost more funny, a young, boyish Jodie Foster (Freaky Friday-era) was the second match.

Jessica is Grace Kelly... (Jen Garner must not be in their database).

Meimi is Lucille Ball (sorry, couldn't resist)...

Scott is Robin Williams...

Dave is Meryl Streep... (and don't think I won't be yelling "The Dingo took my bay-bee!" at him for the next couple months)...

Alex is Naomi Watts...

Doug is David Carradine...

Rick is... Nelson Mandela. Seriously. Maybe it's the smile? Either way, I should tell you that the second "match" for Rick was King Kong director Peter Jackson, followed by - no lie - Colin Farrell, Johnny Depp and Mel Gibson. I could have just put the picture of Depp up for Rick's sake, but that would have been a lot less funny. (And by the way, his wife Danielle isn't listed here because I can't find a picture where she doesn't have a beer to her lips. Maybe because her husband looks like Nelson Mandela). Update: Danielle has been added below!

Danielle is... the blonde Shania Twain. And while that certainly isn't a bad thing - far better than Nelson Mandela, anyway - we here at M.A.I. think once again that My Heritage's celeb knowledge doesn't extend very far. We think the legally blonde Danielle walks the line and looks just like heaven despite her cruel intent... ok, fine, she looks like Reese Witherspoon.

Now I was really happy when I tried a second picture of myself. I mean, really happy... Steve f'in McQueen, the man currently overlooking my computer from my framed 1963 Great Escape poster...

And my elation promptly disappeared when I saw what the program's second match for the exact same picture...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Well, at least it didn't mention "Small Wonder"

The latest website to claim its 15 minutes of fame is My Heritage, which is just looking for a clever angle to advertise its new face recognition software. Well, color me a bright shade of "suckered in."

Basically, users can upload their own picture to My Heritage's server, and the program will analyze facial structure and reveal what celebrity is the closest match. And it sorta seems to work. The scalawags over at Fark tested it with real celebrities, and for the most part the computer got it right - when analyzing a picture of Angelina Jolie, for instance, the program said it looked like her.

That said, I'm not sure about the two comparisons my face inspired.

Ms. Paltrow is a beautiful enough woman, but this is certainly the first time anybody has ever noticed a physical similarity between the two of us (and I definitely don't like Coldplay). However, Gwyneth was peaches and cream compared to my second picture...

Hmmm,... And what's sadder, I actually see the similarity in these two pictures. Eh, well, at least it's not LBJ.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


Ok, now this is funny. A couple of weeks ago, the New York Giants appeared to have a victory all wrapped up. Kicker Jay Feely just needed to knock an easy field goal through the uprights. Well, tight end Jeremy Shockey saw the kick, heard the cheers, and began to gloat for the cameras. Only problem? It was no good, and the Giants went on to lose the game.

This is only worth watching because Shockey is such a notorious assclown.

Oh, and by the way, you're my boy, Blue!