Friday, March 31, 2006

The Ironist strikes again!



Fans of "The O.C." - which of course doesn't include me because I'd never watch a show like this especially with the whole new Marissa/Volchok affair which totally rings false because it's been like what a month since Johnny died and she's obviously not over Ryan but she's an idiot and I hope she dies so whatev - will get a laugh out of this interview with show creator Josh Schwartz.

Not because it's particularly insightful or entertaining - it isn't. However, you've gotta love the author's name.

If only they were on a plane

It's not a banner week for movies.

Ice Age 2: the Meltdown will make a lot of bank, but probably not from anybody reading this. The most unanticipated sequel of the decade, Basic Instinct 2, also opens to the breathless non-excitement of a nation not on the edge of its seats. Atlanta's own The ATL will almost certainly debunk certain stereotypes while creating 50 more in the process (I said it once, I'll say it again - is the Visitor's Bureau happy for this attention, or just shitting their pants?).

That said,... holy crap. Could we have a classic on our hands?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Bada-bing

Just in case you didn't click on it for fear of spoilers, here is my profanity-laced diatribe aimed at former Entertainment Weekly critic Jeffrey Wells. There are no more spoilers involved, as long as you are up-to-date with the latest episode of "The Sopranos."

(Yes, there was some bourbon in my system).

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Random attacks

  • I can't get through a haircut without falling asleep. I mean, it happens every single time. It may be a sign of getting old, it may be a sign that I find Vietnamese women very soothing, it may be a sign that I just don't get enough sleep. I really don't care why, though, because I'm finding it increasingly hard to play off. Yesterday, the girl almost took my ear when my head suddenly bobbed in that "oh crap, I hope nobody noticed" kind of way. But when somebody is focused on your head at the time,... they notice.

  • "Ballerinas are just one step away from professional cocktease." That sentence entered my brain this morning, and I don't know why - I just started laughing. I hadn't been thinking about ballerinas, I hadn't been thinking about cockteases, I hadn't been thinking about steps. The laughter died, though, when I realized a sad thing: that was something Gob might have said someday, had he lived.

  • By the end of last season, I was ready for a break from football. The long weekends were killing me, the tailgates and tickets (and bookies) were draining my wallet, and the ability to sleep in only one day a week was torture. Three months later, I would kill you - yes, you - to have it start back up this weekend. It's to the point any NFL draft rumors make me actually tingle in weird places. You know, like the backs of my knees.

  • Is any non-Florida, Louisiana, or California resident not rooting for George Mason this weekend? I'm usually an SEC homer, but there's no way I'm pulling against these guys. Of course, the fact the two SEC teams are the Gators and Tigers make it a lot easier. (Yes, I am now an official basketball fan, after going two Sweet 16 games and one Elite Eight game last week at the Georgia Dome. Amazing stuff).

  • A little addition to my K-Fed story yesterday. The last line of the entry, about wanting to be black, was actually conceived on the occasion. I was standing on a high cushion. Turning my head to the left, I could see Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. Turning my head to the right, Usher and Nelly were in my line of sight. So my final conclusion should be easy to understand.

  • I saw Thank You For Smoking last night, which opens in Atlanta theaters in the next couple of weeks. I'll forego a synopsis, but know that it's consistently funny throughout - often laugh-out-loud-so - but it's not quite mean enough for me. Still, I recommend it. That said, I wish Mel Gibson had found a way to make it in the '90s (he was attached to the project for years). It's hard to imagine anybody better that the film's actual star, Aaron Eckhart, but Mel would have been inspired.

  • Dave has been saying for months he's gonna design a much-cooler Martians Attacking Indianapolis masthead, one more reflective of my explosive wit and Guttenberg-like genius (and no, I don't mean Gutenberg - I mean Steve). Taking recent events into account, you'd think he'd actually find the time to do it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Anatomy of a white boy (or "How I learned to live with my shortcomings")

There is one undeniable fact about me. It's one thing for which nobody has ever harbored a doubt, noticing it at once as inarguable, incontestable, indisputable, undoubted, and almost as wholeheartedly redundant as this sentence. And after great study and internal debate, I have finally come to terms with it as well.

I am a white boy. Down to my marrow. A honkified, crackatastic, Wonder Bread white boy. Since birth, even.

It's this information you need to fully understand the complexities of where I ended up Saturday night.

Siblings and I made a late night trip to the nightclub Vision, one of those places I didn't like at 21, and still don't feel much fondness toward now that I'm 10 years too old for it. Hundreds of people packed as tightly as Kirstie Alley's cleavage, music almost literally deafening, drinks at $10 a pop, vapid wannabes modeling their high-priced fashions (which they put on in their room at mom and dad's house), and a DJ that confused music with the Pussycat Dolls. But,...

... we had VIP passes thanks to sister, and well, K-Fed was in the house.

I'll admit it: we were suffering the indignities of feeling old and crabby for two reasons. First, Vision's VIP section is elevated above the main dance floor, perfect for feeling colossally superior to the "little people" below. Second, yes, Kevin Federline and his ohmagod-y'all-I'm-totally-hitched bride Britney Spears were supposed to be in attendance. There was no way I was going to miss this train wreck.

At approximately 12:45, after sadly allowing myself only time to get sorta-but-not-nearly-enough drunk, K-Fed and Britney sashay in to the tune of, I'm not fucking with you, "Popozao." And the place goes nuts - not only are people actually dancing to the song, but they seem to be enjoying it. It played like a particularly bad UPN show, "Xtreme Starfucking" or something. A sight to behold, truly.

The evening basically amounted to Federline pimping his new album, grabbing a mic and yelling bon mots such as "Fuck yeah!" and, uh, "Fuck yeah!" to the swooning crowd. Britney sat there smiling - looking surprisingly pretty, I must admit, sporting a bit of a Marilyn Monroe-vibe - while Skeeze Boy smoked his cigarettes and did that arm-up/arm-down movement he loves so much.

Quite honestly, I could only feel a bit sorry for Britney. Using a bit of dimestore psychology, I actually think she's in love with Cletus - when the audience erupted every time he got on the microphone, she died smiling, apparently happy somebody was finally treating her husband with something approaching fondness. She seemed a million miles away, however, from the girl featured on one of the all-time great magazine covers.

Now what does me running into Mr. and Mrs. Spears have anything to do with my whiteness? Nothing, actually - that came soon after I tired of standing in the throngs that hoped to get a fist bump from Sir Moochalot.

Sister and I made our way to the other end of the VIP section - brother had already (wisely) bolted for the door - and we landed in one of the private booths. Basically, the set-up is like a really wide restaurant booth without the table in the middle, made for dancing both on the floor and standing on the seats. (Presumably dancing on the seats is popular only to put oneself even higher over the non-VIP peasants. Obviously, I was on the seats).

"Popozao" thankfully off the speakers, I'm getting my thang on, doing a primitive form of The Carlton. Ninety percent of the lower floor is more concerned with staring up into the VIP section than dancing, and I soon find out why - Usher and Nelly have made their way into our booth (I later find out it's actually Usher's booth, and we were the crashers).

So with hundreds of people watching, I'm on display, dancing in the same spot with those two, completely white-boy dorked out in my blue jeans and button-up shirt. I could only imagine what the onlookers must have thought: "Who is fuck is that guy? Their lawyer?"

It was an interesting dynamic. I mean, I was obviously welcomed into their little world, proof in the fact they never had their sizable security detail kick my ass. Usher, Nelly, and Massey - it flows, I think. Or hustles. Or whatever it's called. Kickin' it, maybe - or is that only with Byron Allen?

Now I type this back in the cushion of real life, away from the bling, the Cristal and the "Popozao." I have my $40 watch, my Coke Zero and my Hootie to comfort me.

God, I wish I were black.

Always low expectations. Always.

Has there ever been a bigger non-story than the dork who spent 41 hours in an Iowa Wal-Mart?

He spent his time wandering the aisles, people-watching, viewing DVDs, playing video games, putting merchandise back where it belonged, eating at the Subway sandwich shop and sleeping for short periods in a restroom stall, the patio and garden department or wherever he could.

Am I misreading this? They're acting like it was a North Korean prison camp. The guy spent 41 hours in a Wal-Mart, for fuck's sake. I've had dumps that took longer.

From the original column (yes, that's right - he's gotten two in the same paper):

Bartels decided not to buy anything he couldn't carry around the store. He ended up with a jacket (for storage space), a note pad, some pencils, an electronic voice recorder, a three-pack of underwear, a comb, a toothbrush and some toothpaste. He lived off energy drinks, doughnuts, yogurt and Subway sandwiches.He figures he slept four hours out of the 41 in captivity.

A comb? A three-pack of underwear for 41 hours? He "lived off" stuff, presumably meaning he couldn't go LESS THAN TWO DAYS without keeling over from hunger?



Am I taking crazy pills here?!

Some friendless geek didn't have anybody to go on Spring Break with, so he thought he would get some chatroom chuckles by spending his time in an odd way, and maybe getting some digs in at corporate America in the process.

And for this, he's going on Letterman, "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," "All Things Considered," and written up in The Drudge Report. Imagine if he'd actually stuck to his original plan, and spent the entire week there. Imagine if he hadn't punked out after 41 measly hours - less than a fourth of the way toward his goal. The guy would be dating Jessica Simpson, leading off for the Yankees, be crowned the new American Idol, and - oh yeah - be proclaimed the second coming of Christ.

Hell, maybe I can spend 41 hours in The Pink Pony, and at least get on Howard Stern.

Forty-one fucking hours. What a douchebag.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Fulfilling your every fantasy, Massey-style

Blogging will resume shortly. Batteries are being repowered.

For now, though, I'd like to extend an invitation to all reader(s): Wanna be in my fantasy baseball league?

I've been running the same one for about six years, and am looking for some new recruits. It's $20, winner gets about $100, plus you get witty repartee (read: profane vitriol) from me all year.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Congealed

No, I'm not dead - just uninspired.

Well, not completely uninspired, as long as I have had a couple bourbons while watching "The Sopranos." Apparently I get quite angry and profane afterward - especially when I think something has been ruined for me.

Warning: Minor "Sopranos" spoilage (from the next couple of episodes) within.

Monday, March 06, 2006

No. 1 with a preachy, thuddingly obvious bullet

Remember that whole Oscar's most embarrassing moments thing from last week?

There's a new sheriff in town...

Friday, March 03, 2006

Discourse

Wouldn't it be nice to have a second Internet, run sort of like a bar - you know, you had to be 21 to get in, and even the best fake ID wouldn't work if you were really 15?

The Biggest Loser, Week 6

And it's over.

Six weeks ago, 43 employees of my school each put $30 into a pot, and "The Biggest Loser" contest was born. Whoever lost the biggest percentage of their body weight over a month and a half would win $1,000. Second place would get about $300, third place would get about $200.

I was in from the beginning. My first few months of teaching had not been good to my waistline. An elementary school is not the place to hang out if you want to stay thin - candy everywhere, surprisingly good buffets every day for lunch, and rivers of sweet tea, the cornerstone of any balanced diet. So I needed a kick in the pants, and $1,000 was the perfect boot.

A quick recap, yet again:

Week one: lost 6 pounds. Ninth place out of 43.
Week two: lost 1 pound, due to vacation. Fell out of the top 10.
Week three: lost 5 more pounds, resting easy at #7.
Week four: Up two, bloating my way down to #18.
Week five:. Lost eight pounds in a single week with the help of some drastic measures. Up to #4.

So week six, the final week. I continued my drastic measures, not eating a single bite of food between Friday night and the next Thursday morning. Weighing in yesterday morning, I looked at the scale to see a number that was seven less than the previous week's. That means my six-week contest took 25 pounds off total.

And what do I now have to show, besides a springier step and pants that don't fit anymore?

Third place. $190.

Son of a bitch.

Honestly, I never thought I'd be upset to get $190. However, the contest starts anew next week, and I won't have a 30th birthday and trip to Los Angeles to stand in my way. (Now, the only roadblocks will be St. Patrick's Day and Derby Day). Gotta be strong...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Oscar's 11 Most Embarrassing Moments (1976-2005)



The Academy Awards get handed out on Sunday night. Color me unimpressed.

There was a time when I looked forward to this with an unbelievable amount of passion. In high school, I made my mother write down the nominations and read them to me over the phone (those were the days before that thar Internet). In college, I had second thoughts about a trip to Costa Rica because I wouldn't be able to see the ceremony. One year, I was stuck watching the show in the gayest of all gay bars, because that was the only public place showing it in Key West (I would say thank God Brokeback Mountain wasn't released in 1997, except that Madonna and Good Will Hunting's Ace and Gary were nominated, which was just as bad).

Obviously, I'm not saying this to impress any of you.

Anyway, the last two years, the nomination announcements have caught me off guard. Last month, for example, I just happened to surf by The Drudge Report to see the banner headline about Brokeback Mountain leading the pack. I had no idea it was happening that morning.

Part of my increasing boredom with the Oscars comes with a certain maturity, I guess - not in the "I'm mature" sense (obviously), but more with the "I'm getting older, and hearing Billy Crystal do yet another goddamn cutesy song doesn't interest me any more" vibe. However, I think the bigger problem is I've finally realized the Oscars actually SUCK. In analyzing their history, I realize they have an unbelievable track record of not getting anything right.

The best performances of the last ten years have been Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor, Naomi Watts in Mulholland Dr., and Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. Of the three, only Depp got nominated, and he lost to a overbaked performance by Sean Penn.

The best movies of the last ten years have been Boogie Nights, Fight Club, Mulholland Dr., Sling Blade and Wonder Boys. Zero Best Picture nominations among them.

Comparing the Academy's Best Picture choices to my own (at least the ones from my lifetime), I was surprised to see how rarely we agreed. Now I can't claim to have seen every nominee, especially from the late '70s and early '80s - and admittedly my choices from the '80s reflect a kid's sensibility (Back to the Future, in particular, but I still can't find a better movie from 1985) - but I feel pretty confident that, well, I'm right and they're wrong.

Since 1976, 29 Best Picture Oscars have been awarded. In my opinion, only seven of them have gone to what was truly the best film of that year.



I can hear you snickering at some of my choices. Die Hard as Best Picture? Show me a better movie from 1988 then, tough guy. The five nominees that year were The Accidental Tourist, Dangerous Liaisons, Mississippi Burning, Rain Man and Working Girl (the best of the bunch). Can you really tell me any of those were better than Die Hard? Heck, I would put a few other '88 releases - Bull Durham, Coming to America, A Fish Called Wanda and Midnight Run, for example - ahead of those. Very seriously, mind you.

That's the problem - the Academy doesn't have any balls. Comedies and action movies get the short shrift, even when they rise above their genre and give us something more. James Cameron's Aliens should have been nominated for Best Picture, Raiders of the Lost Ark was better than Chariots of Fire, and this year Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire should have at least been given a modicum of consideration.

With that in mind, I've compiled Oscar's 11 most embarrassing moments - well, the ones from my lifetime, anyway (I thought of 11, so why knock it down to ten for the sake of a nice round number?). I can't speak with any expertise about why Around the World in 80 Days didn't deserve the top prize, or why exactly Citizen Kane was ignored. This is from 1976 on, for better or worse.

11) 1996 - Kenneth Branagh was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for Hamlet - a version that prided itself on being a faithful, word-for-word, nothing-left-out 4-hour version. I understand there's more to a screenplay than dialogue, but come on... The hilarious scripts for Emma or The Birdcage should have slipped in there.

10) 1985 - Jon Stewart is hosting the Oscars this year, and seems to be a great choice. Chris Rock sucked, but at least the selection was inspired. David Letterman wasn't as bad as you think you remember. Steve Martin, Whoopi Goldberg, and of course Billy Crystal - all three old pros who handled themselves with ease most years. Of course, 1985 was a year dominated by ultra-serious dramas like Out of Africa, The Color Purple and Witness, so the Academy apparently decided the proceedings should be laugh-free as well. The hosts? A three-headed monster of Alan Alda, Jane Fonda and Robin Williams in his Club Paradise days. Seriously. (A year later, Oscar stepped it up a notch - albeit a small one - with a still-kinda-funny Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn and, uh, Paul Hogan? Really?).

9) 1979 - According to the Academy, Kramer vs. Kramer was the best film of 1979. That's not an embarrassing choice in itself - the film certainly struck a cultural nerve at the time - but fellow nominee Apocalypse Now only lost because voters didn't want to recognize another war film only a year after The Deer Hunter took the top prize. Even worse, the Academy's legendary aversion to fantasy and sci-fi left Ridley Scott's Alien off the nominee list, in favor of All That Jazz, Breaking Away and Norma Rae (all miles out of today's public consciousness).

8) 1983 - Going into the ceremony, The Right Stuff was considered a frontrunner for Best Picture, and for good reason: itwas clearly the best film to be released that year. Sam Shepard's near-perfect portrayal of Chuck Yeager had been recognized with a Supporting Actor nomination, as well. And then, ... Terms of Endearment steamrolled. Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director, ... and Best Supporting Actor for Jack Nicholson, who was playing yet another variation of Jack Nicholson. Terms was a fine film, to be sure, but it wasn't in the same universe as The Right Stuff.

7) 1987 - Another annoying thing about 1983's Terms of Endearment romp was that only four years later, Terms writer-director James L. Brooks delivered an even better film with Broadcast News - and the Academy pretty much ignored it, presumably because they don't like to overly reward the same person twice. If The Right Stuff had won as it should have, Broadcast News could have legitimately won instead of The Last Emperor, the most undeserving Best Picture until A Beautiful Mind.

6) 1977, 1981, 1982 - Steven Spielberg was deserving of four early Oscars for Best Picture, and received a total of zero until Schindler's List in 1993. In 1975, Jaws was a better picture than One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, though that is not nearly as appalling as what followed. I can handle Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) losing to Annie Hall in 1977 (even though I would have voted for the former); what really chaps is that Encounters wasn't even nominated, in favor of self-important melodramas like Julia and The Turning Point. Raiders of the Lost Ark was nominated in 1981, but it managed to lose to the clearly inferior Chariots of Fire. The most egregious snub, however, happened in 1982 when E.T. the Extra Terrestrial fell prey to liberal Hollywood's canonization of the sleep-inducing Gandhi.

5) 1980 - Martin Scorsese must despise actors-turned-directors (he did stop working with De Niro soon after the latter directed A Bronx Tale, you know. Leo better not get any grand aspirations.). He deserved Best Director in 2004 for The Aviator, but lost to Clint Eastwood. He deserved to win in 1990 for Goodfellas, but lost to Kevin Costner. And most outrageously, he deserved the statue way back in 1980 for Raging Bull, but lost to Robert Redford for Ordinary People. Ordinary fucking People! Raging Bull - the best film of the '80s in most critic's minds (not mine, but whatever) - not only lost Best Director, but Best Picture to Redford's syrupy melodrama. Let me put it this way: Ben Affleck has more Oscars than Scorsese.

4) 1997 - Roberto Benigni. Let me lay it plain: I fucking hated Life is Beautiful. Every preening, self-indulgent, syrupy, bullshit moment of it. So when Hollywood - which sucks, swallows, spits back up, and swallows again anything having to do with the Holocaust - gave Benigni Best Actor, I about lost it. Edward Norton gave the performance of any career that year in American History X - a film that wasn't nearly as good as he was in it - and was left in the seats having to look at that no-talent douchebag jumping all over the place.

3) 1989 - I still remember Spike Lee slumped over in his chair, hand on cheek, waiting to see which award his undeniable classic Do the Right Thing would take home. Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay, or Best,... wait a minute, that's all it got nominated for. In a year in which Driving Miss Daisy - DRIVING MISS DAISY, oh the irony - won Best Picture, Thing was nominated for just as many Oscars as Shirley Valentine and Black Rain. This, combined with the later snubs of Hoop Dreams, Eve's Bayou and Malcolm X, lead one to believe Hollywood ain't as liberally colorblind as they pat themselves on the back for (see also: Crash).

2) 1992 - The big story was Al Pacino - this great, heralded actor had NEVER won an Oscar. Admittedly, that was a crime. However, the Academy chose Scent of a Woman - Pacino's WORST performance, bar none - as the perfect time to bestow the award upon him. Never mind that he was going up against two of the all-time acting feats - Denzel Washington in Malcolm X and Robert Downey, Jr. in Chaplin. This was Pacino! Yelling! Screaming! And, best of all, he was playing disabled! This marked the dumbing down of Pacino, the moment he transformed from a chameleon-like actor into a one-note HOO-AHH! scenery chewer. Granted, it works in some films (Heat, The Devil's Advocate), but in most it just grates the nerves of anybody who actually remembers The Godfather or Serpico. Irony of all ironies: Pacino was also nominated for Supporting Actor that year (Glengarry Glen Ross), and he actually deserved that statue but lost.


1) 1994 - This year might have given us the two best films of the '90s - Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption. Both were nominated for Best Picture, and the Academy deserves a little credit for even bestowing that upon Shawshank, which was then considered a flop off most folk's radar screens. However, those weren't the only great flicks to hit screens that year - Quiz Show, Ed Wood and Hoop Dreams were also '94 flicks. When the Oscar envelope was opened, only two words were said, however: Forrest Gump. Have you seen Forrest Gump lately? I liked it when it came out, but you know what? It's a pretty average, stretching to less-than-average movie. And what do you think people will be talking about more a hundred years from now - the adventures of Forrest, the liberation of Andy Dufresne, or the travails of Vincent Vega and crew? Here's a hint: it won't be the first one.

Update: First, welcome Farkers. Second, while not backing down from my adoration for the underrated "Signs," I did completely forget "City of God" was a 2002 film. It should have been in the above list.