03.09.10 – A Tuesday

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word

repartee [rep-er-tee, –tey, -ahr-] n. 1. a quick, witty reply 2. conversation full of such replies 3. skill in making such replies

birthday

Amerigo Vespucci (1454), Samuel Barber (1910), Mickey Spillane (1918), Ornette Coleman (1930), Raúl Juliá (1940), John Cale (1942), Bobby Fischer (1943), Charles Gibson (1943), Robin Trower (1945), Jeffrey Osborne (1948), Bobby Sands (1954), Linda Fiorentino (1958), Steve Wilkos (1964), Juliette Binoche (1964), Emmanuel Lewis (1973), Thor Halvorssen (1976), Julia Mancuso (1984), Brittany Snow (1986), Bow Wow (1987)

standpoint

Two nights ago, we were all once again treated to the annual hullabaloo that is The Oscars. Lots of us were watching the show. 41.3 million of us. Granted, that’s not even 10% of the United States’ population but it’s still a large group of people, the largest in five years. Whoopdee-doo.

But why were we all watching? I suspect some of you actually watched out of your sheer love for the art of cinema. Or maybe you watched in an attempt to make sure you weren’t the only one in the office the next morning who couldn’t participate in the endless post-Oscar debates and be forced to, like, do work or something. Or maybe you flipped through the channels and happened upon the show and became immediately engaged by the obvious sexual tension between Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, this year’s co-hosts. Or maybe you’re like me and you simply watched the damn thing to beleaguer yourself with one of the prime examples of how crappy our culture has become.

I watched it, albeit in my usual offish fashion. But I did notice some amusing peculiarities.

→ In what’s being dubbed a “Kanye Moment,” some woman named Elinor Burkett, apparently one of the producers of  something called Music By Prudence, stormed the stage and stole the allotted speech time from the film’s director, one Roger Ross Williams. Some described it as “uncomfortable to watch.” Uh…all right. Now Burkett has two things in common with Kanye West: They both display an irreverent attitude toward award show decorum, and they both look like dudes.

Neil Patrick Harris needs to pull in the reins a bit. Does the guy know he’s allowed to turn down offers? At this rate, we’re all going to be sick and tired of him sometime later this week. Hey, NPH, maybe just be a homebody for a while, do a crossword puzzle (or maybe you’re a sudoku man, I have no idea) or repaint the living room like you’ve been saying you’re going to since forever. Or, here’s an idea. Maybe watch some television and try to find a channel you won’t see your own face.

Fisher Stevens, the guy who played that goofy scientist in Short Circuit and was in that episode of Friends that time won an Oscar for a documentary that had something to do with dolphins. Johnny Five is indeed alive.

→ Always the cutup, Ben Stiller came onstage to present the award for Best Makeup all done up as a character from Avatar. I thought he looked a lot like what Michael Jackson might’ve looked like twenty years down the road.

→ Throughout the entire show, George Clooney had a look on his face that, I swear, made me think the guy has some sort of beef being stuck in a chair with a camera up his nose for four hours. What’s up with that? Lighten up, buddy, you’ve come a long way since Booker Brooks.

The Hurt Locker won 6 times. Two of them involved sound and were accepted by some guy who looked like a recovering zombie. Also, the lady who directed it won Best Director and Best Film but all anyone wanted to talk about was that she was once married to fellow nominee James Cameron. I was glad she was able to get back at the Academy for what’s still considered one of history’s biggest snubs when it completely ignored Point Break. Not even a courtesy Best Supporting Actor nod to Gary Busey, for crying out loud. But Kathryn Bigelow showed them. Now who’s laughing? Definitely not Busey and, even if he is, he’s laughing about something only he fully understands.

→ I liked that thing they do when 5 actors get up on stage and say something seemingly heartfelt and ostensibly accurate about the nominees for Best Actor and Best Actress. Oprah Winfrey spoke about Gabourey Sidibe from Precious in the way she does about everything. No matter what Oprah’s prattling on about, she’s really just talking about herself. Sidibe probably didn’t care as she was most likely couldn’t stop thinking about hunky Gerard Butler, who she met and delivered the proposition, “Let’s grab a bottle of champagne and see where the night goes!” Later, she told more than one reporter, in regards to her attraction to Butler, “I’d hit that.” Whatever happened to playing hard to get? Gabourey, it’s all about the hunt and the chase. Don’t just throw it out there.

→ One of my favorite actors, Jeff Bridges won for Best Actor. Of all the movies mentioned during the show, Crazy Heart was one of two I’d actually seen. (Star Trek was the other.) Kudos to Bridges, by the way, who, in giving his acceptance speech, contributed yet another item to the long list every stoner keeps of shit you can still do when you’re high.

Overall, I enjoyed watching The Oscars. I might even watch next year. Hell, I might even get out there and see some relevant movies for a change. Who knows?

quotation

These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves.  From each of them goes out its own voice… and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart.Gilbert Highet

tune

Sometimes, I’m resistant to things for no good reason. What can I say? I’m hardheaded. You love that about me, by the way. In any case, my wonderful girlfriend asked me to watch the new OK Go video about five times before I had the good judgment to trust her. I learned an important relationship lesson: Believe her when she tells me I’m definitely going to like something she’s sent me. (Five times.) Not only did I realize that (a) I like OK Go and, as is the case from time to time, I miss out on good music due to a some sort of stigma I’ve created out of thin air, and (b) I can’t ascertain how I’ve managed to escape the incredible ingenuity of Rube Goldberg Machines. They’re absolutely fucking nuts. Here’s the new OK Go offering titled “This Too Shall Pass.”

And if you suddenly find yourself yearning for some more Rube Goldberg Machine videos, worry not, I’m happy to provide them. Check these out.

gallimaufry

Reunited and it feels so good. T.O. and D-Nabb put aside their differences for (What else?) money. Poor Antonio Gates, stuck with those two as teammates.

→ Some may argue that Facebook made this possible. I’d say FB made it easier would be more accurate.

→ I didn’t need another reason not to vacation in balmy Alaska. But I got one anyway.

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01.19.10 – A Tuesday

WORD

burlesque [ber-lesk] n. 1. an artistic composition, esp. literary or dramatic, that, for the sake of laughter, vulgarizes lofty material or treats ordinary material with mock dignity 2. any ludicrous parody or grotesque caricature 3. Also, bur⋅lesk. a humorous and provocative stage show featuring slapstick humor, comic skits, bawdy songs, striptease acts, and a scantily clad female chorus adj. 4. involving ludicrous or mocking treatment of a solemn subject 5. of, pertaining to, or like stage-show burlesque v. (used w/object) 6. to make ridiculous by mocking representation v. (used w/o object) 7. to use caricature

BIRTHDAY

James Watt (1736), Robert E. Lee (1807), Edgar Allen Poe (1809), Paul Cézanne (1839), Minnesota Fats (1913), Jean Stapleton (1923), Tippi Hedren (1930), Michael Crawford (1942), Janis Joplin (1943), Shelley Fabares (1944), Dolly Parton (1946), Robert Palmer (1949), Desi Arnaz, Jr. (1953), Katey Sagal (1954), Paul Rodriguez (1955), William Ragsdale (1961), Drea de Matteo (1972), Frank Caliendo (1974)

STANDPOINT

As you must all ready know, last Wednesday a major earthquake devastated Haiti. And everyone, and I mean everyone, is doing what they can to help out. Of course, the American Red Cross and the U.N. are spearheading the efforts, but I’m impressed by what some less likely sources are contributing.

Ben Stiller, who’d already been helping the children of Haiti through his website, STILLERSTRONG.ORG, has, as of yesterday, raised over $130,000.

→ NBA stars Alonzo Mourning and Dwayne Wade have created The Athletes Relief Fund for Haiti and have all ready contributed $800,000.

Lady Gaga, having all ready promised to donate all the proceeds from her upcoming show at Radio Music City Hall to the effort, announced yesterday she’d created a Haitian relief t-shirt, the sales from which will also go to the effort.

Fucked Up, a hardcore punk band from Toronto, is even getting into the act, is auctioning off its upcoming collection of singles, Couple Tracks, with, you guessed it, all proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders.

That’s just a short list of what some people are doing to help.

What are you doing?

QUOTATION

I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful force controlling everything. There’s no mystical energy field controls my destiny.Han Solo

TUNE

I continue my unabashed love for Fountains of Wayne, a band dismissed by most indie hipsters as “too poppy.” Well, that may be true but I just can’t help myself from digging on songs like “Radiation Vibe.”

GALLIMAUFRY

Hey, all you people who piss on Twitter, get this: it can actually be used for some kind of good. When a plane full of medicine from Doctors Without Borders was blocked from landing in Haiti on Sunday, Twitter users flooded the U.S. Air Force’s Twitter account and the plane was allowed to land shortly thereafter. Pretty cool, huh?

→ In what promises to be a couple of months full of great new music, another one of my favorite bands has announced an upcoming release. Matt Pond PA will release The Dark Leaves on April 6th.

→ Who says Taco Bell is bad for you? The company’s founder, Glen Bell, died Sunday at the ripe old age of 86. So there.

11.30.09 – A Monday

WORD

outlier [out-lahy-er] n. 1. a person or thing that lies outside 2. a person residing outside the place of his or her business, duty, etc 3. Geology. a part of a formation left detached through the removal of surrounding parts by erosion

BIRTHDAY

Jonathan Swift (1667), Mark Twain (1835), Lord Frederick Cavendish (1836), Richard Crenna (1926), Robert Guillaume (1927), Dick Clark (1929), G. Gordon Liddy (1930), Abbie Hoffman (1936), Ridley Scott (1937), Terrence Malick (1943), David Mamet (1947), Mandy Patinkin (1952), Billy Idol (1955), Bo Jackson (1962), Ben Stiller (1965), Clay Aiken (1978), Gael García Bernal (1978)

STANDPOINT

Several years ago, when the reality-television craze began kicking its ugly way into our living rooms, I boldly declared, “This won’t last. It’s a fad. It’ll go away.”

Man, was I wrong.

It has lasted. It’s not a fad. And it refuses to go away. As a matter of fact, it’s continuing to grow. From what I can tell, it’s also making society as a whole dumber. So, of course, that fascinates me.

First off, let me say I don’t think all reality-television is bad. Some of it’s actually worthwhile. Top Chef, The Amazing Race, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Those are some I’ve watched without becoming agitated. And that’s inasmuch as those shows are chronicling individuals doing things I can’t (or won’t) do.

For example, Top Chef. I’ve worked in the restaurtant business for almost two decades, in both the front- and back-of-the-house. I’m no chef, but I know my way around a kitchen. Basically, I can make food people like, but not necessarily rave about. So, when I watch Top Chef, I’m entertained because I’m watching individuals do something I can’t, something I find extraordinary. To me, that’s interesting.

In contrast, when I view programs like Big Brother, The Real World, or The Real Housewives of Atlanta, all I see are a group of unexceptional individuals supposedly living lives we’re expected to perceive as somehow “real.” But it’s not at all. Just a collection of nitwits trying to outsmart one another while simultaneously positioning themselves for more camera time.

From the little I’ve seen of Big Brother, it’s never failed to confuse me. Besides the participants, none of which I feed redeemable, and the events, few of which aren’t orchestrated, being actual, what the fuck is so real about it? The answer is exactly none of it. Everyone in the house has a motive. The producers stage events that, without prodding, would never come about. All the footage gets edited to death so the true sequence is lost. To me, that’s uninteresting.

What truly sucks about all of this is that I’m apparently squarely in the minority. I’m relatively sure most of us find things capable of bothering us daily. Also, I was under the impression watching television was supposed to be fun and less bothersome than our daily routines.

If I’m wrong about all this, I’ll accept it. But, before you start popping off on how I’m completely wrong about reality television, I need you to answer the following question: If these shows are so enjoyable, why is it every single conversation I’ve ever heard about them is basically a discussion on which character is more annoying and why?

QUOTATION

This is what politics is to me: Somebody tells you all the trees on your street have a disease. One side says give them food and water and everything will be fine. One side says chop them down and burn them so they don’t infect another street. That’s politics. And I’m going, Who says they’re diseased? And how does this sickness manifest itself? And is this outside of a natural cycle? And who said this again? And when were they on the street? But we just have people who shout, “Chop it down and burn it” or “Give it food and water,” and there’s your two choices. Sorry, I’m not a believer.John Malkovich

TUNE

MewithoutYou is a band from Philadelphia. That’s here. In Pennsylvania. I’ve heard them mentioned from time-to-time, and I think I may have seen the band live once but that might be entirely untrue. In any case, I was recently introduced to the video for “The Fox, The Crow and The Cookie,” and, to put it mildly, it’s pretty fuckin’ great. The song is solid but the whole concept and execution of the video is pretty unique and remarkable.  

CALLIMAUFRY

→ OK, so the whole Tiger Woods car accident thing. I have two questions. (1) Where was Woods going at 2:25am, the morning after Thanksgiving. (2) Why did the wife, after hearing the accident, decide to head out to investigate with a golf club? Woods is going to live to golf another day. He’s fine and that’s great. Truly. Still, everyone’s going to want to discover what really went down. The truth is no one besides Woods and his wife are ever going to know what happened. And, so far, it appears they’re not going to tell. Sadly, for everyone who’s dying to know, it’s bound to become one of those events marked for countless decades of endless speculation. When you’re a billionnaire, you can crash your car and not be expected to give some valid explanation.

Rush Limbaugh is America’s most influential conservative. Still, who cares?

→ No post tomorrow. If you’ve a problem with that, you’ll need to get in line behind my good friend Joe Taylor, who I’ve started affectionately calling “Boss-Man.” OK, I only did it once, but I plan on doing it again real soon.

The 2009 MTV Movie Awards – Good & Bad

Sunday night, I sat down to watch the 2009 MTV Movie Awards. Funny thing. Once upon a time, I’d steer clear of all award shows, but I like Andy Samberg (who hosted this year’s show) and so I decided to check it out.

I watched it in its entirety. And while it felt kind of dirty, I’m glad I did. I was equally entertained and disgusted – usually alternating back and forth between the two feelings in the span of just under a minute. At times, I was pleased – usually by something involving Samberg. Just as often, however, I was displeased – usually by something involving the movie Twilight, which won just about all the awards. (Even Samberg and some of the presenters seemed a little put-off by all the attention the tweener vampire flick was receiving.)

Here are me thoughts on some moments from the 2009 MTV Movies Awards:

  • “Cool Guys Don’t Look At Explosions” – My second favorite part of the show. Samberg and Will Ferrell (as Neil Diamond) perform something typically spoofy proclaiming, “the flames are hot but their hearts are chill,” amidst a montage of cool guys (Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Iron Man) not looking at explosions. I think the keyboard solo actually tied the whole thing together for me.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen-Eminem FiascoSacha Baron Cohen is fucking annoying. I know. I’m supposed to watch his prankster antics and find them unbelievably mortifying/clever. But I don’t. If that lessens me in your eyes, I’m prepared to deal with that. When Cohen (as his gay alter-ego Bruno) descended onto Eminem and proceeded to plant his ass in the rapper’s face, I was hoping that Slim Shady’s entourage was going to make the whole night worthwhile and murder Cohen. No such luck. The douchebag survived.
  • Forest Whitaker Singing “Dick in a Box” – Easily my favorite part of the show. LeAnn Rimes and Chris Isaak were great paying homage to Samberg’s Digital Shorts “Jizz In My Pants” and “Lazy Sunday” but Whitaker’s interpretation of “Dick in a Box” was almost better than the original. Truly. I think it’s safe to say everyone is now in on the whole absurdist comedy wave.
  • Miley Cyrus Wins “Best Song In A Movie” Award – She beat out four other songs she shouldn’t have. Her acceptance speech illustrated why we as a society need to ban against the talentless, unsexy hack. “I wanna thank God! Hellllooooooo? The only reason I’m here!” Thanks, God. We owe you one.
  • Ben Stiller Receiving the “MTV Generation Award”Kiefer Sutherland, Zac Efron and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog presented the award to Stiller. It was very much like a roast with Efron saying things like, “You sell out the theaters without selling out.” Triumph obsessed over Stiller’s resemblance to different primates. Sutherland broke down, sat on the edge of the stage and addressed Stiller directly in a “heartfelt” testimonial of his admiration. Sutherland went on for about two minutes too long. To his credit, Stiller sat through the whole thing without choking any of them. If I was him, I would’ve at least made a run at the dog.

Overall, the show spanned the canvas of everything pop culture. And, while there were some truly sickening/moronic people and ideas out there, it was proof to me there are things happening that just might be worthwhile. Still, when I saw the likes of Cyrus and the dude with the hair from Twilight mixed in with performers with actual real talent, I was forced to wonder if the world of entertainment wasn’t free-falling to some dark, evil place.