I turned on the Cataldi show this morning to see how long it would take before I heard a "Jeffrey Lurie has won an Oscar but not a Super Bowl" joke. The answer: four seconds. Literally. And I'm not talking about the beginning of the show- I turned it on when I got in the car, and there it was, four seconds later.
Noah blogs about February at his site.
I've been reading Andrew since he hosted his own site and used to have pledge drives, and followed him to Time and the Atlantic, so I don't expect things to change much now.
Yes, I realize hosting the Oscars is a thankless job, and yes, I know that we all complain about it and watch it every year anyone. But this a slog, or what? I like Anne Hathaway and James Franco quite a bit, but they were given just about nothing to work with- especially Franco, who just sat there mostly silently for the better part of two hours. I mean, even "Saturday Night Live" has given Hathaway and Franco better material in the last couple of years, and they're not exactly consistent either.
A few notes:
- As I've written before, I didn't exactly dislike any of the ten Best Picture nominees, but "The King's Speech" wouldn't have been my first choice. "Inception" or "Social Network" would've been, although both won plenty of awards. And I did really like the actual king's speech being used for the Best Picture montage.
- At what point do they think about hiring someone besides Bruce Vilanch to write the Oscars? His funny reputation notwithstanding, I'm beginning to think he's the Bob Shrum of awards-show writers.
- I'm trying to figure out if that Kirk Douglas moment was hilarious, creepy, or both. Probably both.
- Yes, Trent Reznor is now an Oscar winner. Even if the entire "Social Network" score was mostly ripped off from the Death Cab For Cutie song "Passenger Seat."
- No idea why something as awful as "Alice in Wonderland"- which was all CGI anyway- could win best art direction or costume design?
- So who should host next year? Neil Patrick Harris? Billy Crystal again? Kevin Spacey? Whoever it is, bring some better writers please!
I watched it this weekend and found it a fascinating and fair look at the former president. Not a smear job, but not a whitewash either. Three thoughts:
- Even though they all worship him, there's no one like Reagan on the Republican side now, in terms of optimism or political skill. Not even close.
- Glad it didn't soft-pedal the role "Rocky IV" played in the end of the Cold War.
- Could you imagine if something like Iran Contra happened with Obama? He'd be impeached the next day, with Reagan worshippers leading the charge.
This is pretty unbelievable:
I don't know what's weirder- that Donald Rumsfeld appeared on the "Opie and Anthony" show, that that show actually broadcast something funny, or, uh, the whole lizard thing.
My review of "Cedar Rapids" is up at the Patch.
If you guessed that the show would be shut down for the year- and probably forever- after Charlie Sheen went on the Alex Jones show, called his boss a "hymie" and made various other comments, well, you'd be right. I mean, listen to that interview- just nonstop ass-kissing.
I won't miss the show, of course, but I feel bad for the couple dozen people who are going to be out of work because of the actions of this monstrous, selfish fuckup.
The New York Times has a fun writeup of the New York feud between the creators of Kennedy Fried Chicken and its various imitators.
This is pretty embarrassing for all concerned. I'd be kind of, I don't know, taken aback if someone in my presence talked about assassinating the president of the United States, but then I guess I'm just not a real American then.
The real Michelle Malkin picked a fight with the fake Rahm Emanuel- and lost. Say what you will about Rahm being an asshole but, real or fake, he never wrote a book defending internment.
Matt Zoller Seitz, reviewing the new "Criminal Minds" spinoff and the parade of destruction that is CBS' lineup:
It's a factory cranking out shrink-wrapped tales of savage human monsters and the righteous public servants guarding us against them. "Criminal Minds," "CSI," "CSI: Miami," "CSI: New York," "The Mentalist, "48 Hrs. Mystery," "Flashpoint," "Hawaii Five-O," "NCIS" and "NCIS: Los Angeles" blur together in the brain. They're pages in a lurid catalog of kidnapping, rape, random assault, child molestation, passion killing, drug dealing, organ theft, sexual enslavement, and of course, serial murder. (Who builds all the TV serial killers' lairs, I wonder? Is there one contractor that they all prefer? And if so, does he offer bulk discounts on manacles, formaldehyde and surgical instruments?) To watch this cartoon nightmare spectacle, you'd think 21st century America was a suburbanized version of medieval Europe, a hell-on-earth where bloodthirsty highwaymen stalk every road and routine trips between hamlets end with travelers' corpses piled in meadows, crows feasting on their guts.Oddly enough, I don't find any of those shows nearly as loathsome as "Two and a Half Men."
Caught the Farrelly Brothers' "Hall Pass" this week, here's a brief mini-review:
There's kind of a creepy vibe to the whole enterprise, the Farrellys aren't nearly as good at executing their formula as the Apatow gang, a lot of the gross-out gags are more disgusting than funny and have no point and Owen Wilson, in the lead role, is a bland non-entity who appears to have aged a decade since the last time he was in a movie.
But despite that, the movie's got three or four setpieces that are up there with the best parts of "There's Something About Mary." So I ended up laughing quite a bit.
Think of Farrelly formula as a three-legged stool of laughs, heart and gross-out gags. "There's Something About Mary" had all three, stuff like "Stuck on You" and "Fever Pitch" had heart but no laughs, while their awful "Heartbreak Kid" remake had none of the above. "Hall Pass" has laughs and heart, but the gross-out stuff just isn't funny. A few other notes:
- It may be a juvenile comedy about marital infidelity with dick and poo jokes, but "Hall Pass" is ultimately a sneakily conservative, pro-family comedy and not only that, but there's never any doubt that it'll end up that way.
- An indie movie last year, "The Freebie," had the exact same plot, and it starred Katie Aselton, who plays the awesome wife character on "The League."
- The movie's got a good bench of supporting comic actors, including J.B. Smoove (Leon Black from 'Curb'), Ricky Gervais' sidekick Stephen Merchant and in a dynamite, against-type cameo as a womanizer, Richard Jenkins. However, one guy's lone character trait seems to be that he poops a lot.
- Jenna Fischer plays Wilson's wife, and the filmmakers do all they can to make her look dowdy at the beginning and progressively more attractive as the film goes on.
- There's an actress in the movie, Alexandra Daddario, who's now a third member of the Amanda Peet/Lake Bell lookalike club.
- The film was written by Pete Jones, who you may remember as the director in the first season of "Project Greenlight."
Anyway, it's full of flaws and far from a comedy classic, but like I said I laughed a lot.
And channels the Winklevii:
I love this new MLB Network commercial:
I'm very much an Apple/Jobs apologist, I admit, but this weird piece on Business Insider was a little much for even me. Much as I love all the amazing stuff Jobs has created over the years, I'm not prepared to defend him for denying his daughter's paternity, screwing over Steve Wozniak, or this:
He doesn’t give any money to charity. And when he became Apple’s CEO he stopped all of their philanthropic programs. He said, “wait until we are profitable”. Now they are profitable, and sitting on $40bb cash, and still not corporate philanthropy. I actually think Jobs is probably the most charitable guy on the planet. Rather than focus on which mosquitoes to kill in Africa (Bill Gates is already focusing on that), Jobs has put his energy into massively improving quality of life with all of his inventions. People think that entrepreneurs have to some day “give back”. This is not true. They already gave at the office. Look at the entire ipod/Mac/iphone/Disney ecosystem and ask how many lives have benefited directly (because they’ve been hired) or indirectly (because they use the products to improve their quality of life). As far as I know, Jobs has never even commented about his thoughts on charity. Good for him. As one CEO of a (currently) Fortune 10 company once told me when I had my hand out for a charitable website, “Screw charity!”That CEO's an asshole. And so is the guy who wrote this. What kind of glib bullshit is that? Sounds like the consumer electronics version of Reaganomics.
This is pretty brilliant. A friend of Jonathan Chait's stripped a recent Thomas Friedman column into "metaphors and cliches" only:
A wake-up call’s mother is unfolding. At the other end is a bell, which is telling us we have built a house at the foot of a volcano. The volcano is spewing lava, which says move your house. The road will be long and rocky, but it will trigger a shift before it kicks. We can capture some of it. IF the Middle East was a collection of gas stations, Saudi Arabia would be a station. Iran, Kuwait , Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates would all be stations. Guys, here’s the deal. Don’t hassle the Jews. You are insulated from history. History is back. Fasten your seat belts. Don’t expect a joy ride because the lid is blowing off. The west turned a blind eye, but the report was prophetic, with key evidence. Societies are frozen in time. No one should have any illusions. Root for the return to history, but not in the middle.What, no cab driver wisdom this time?
This Kissing Suzy Kolber post left me in awe. When we're in the middle of a lockout and Jerry Jones is getting all apocalyptic about the world ending, I'll think back to this.
This tell-all by an Apple Store employee is a must-read.
David Thomson on "Just Go With It":
The film is lousy, lazy, and nasty, and the kind of ordeal that leaves you with a hole in your stomach and another in your brain because it points out the tragic way our country and our film business have given up the ghost of comedy, the oil that made the machine work once upon a time... clearly, [Adam Sandler] is smug, lazy, and greedy, and without a care in the world that he might be making comedies for millions of people who feel wretched about the world and their place in it.
I'm on my BlackBerry way too much, I admit- but the dinner table is sacrosanct. TechCrunch, clearly, disagrees.
In the guise of a Coming Attractions movie website post. Congrats to the couple.
Chances are, just about every Jewish knows or has met five or six people with the name "Dan Shapiro." I can think of three off the top of my head and there have likely been a few others as well. Anyway, I made quick note yesterday, when a Dan Shapiro was reported to be named U.S. ambassador to Israel- could he be one of the ones I know?
Turns out, yes- he was a unit head at the summer camp in Wisconsin, OSRUI, that I attended as a kid, in '89 or '90 or so. I was 11 or 12 at the time and I guess he was 20 or 21. Also- he's a Brandeis alum.
Hava Nagila: the Movie!
Daily Beast: Rahm Emanuel, the new king of Chicago
Congrats to my old friend Jeff Abramson, whose Gen Art Film Festival has been resurrected and will again take place in New York this summer. I may need to ask for a press pass...
This is really something- the Buffalo Beast, posting as "David Koch," got Scott Walker on the phone:
Then again, it probably speaks well of Walker than he didn't recognize that it wasn't really Koch's voice.
It's strange, being on the same side as the people wearing cheeseheads:
Michelle Malkin really said "Chutzpah"- and said it wrong. What a dolt.
Romenesko: Silver Adjusts to New York Times Standards
It's about Nate, actually. A frequent recipient of "Silver is a genius" headlines.
We're about to hit a milestone. Once Qadaffi is overthrown, none of the dictators from the opening scene of "The Naked Gun" will still be in power:
Too bad Leslie Nielson didn't live to see it.
I have a new Week in Electronics Retail Crime update at Dealerscope.com. Lessons learned this week: If you're robbing a house, fish aren't "witnesses" and you don't have to kill them. Also, if you dress as a biker, carrying metallic objects and storm into a corporate office, the people there won't think it's a "publicity stunt," more likely they'll call the cops.
Luckily, that ever-present scourge has been eliminated from baseball.
Also, here's what every team has to be happy about this spring.
I've got my issues with the Reform movement, but this is pretty damn nutty, even by Beck standards. Because the main characteristics of Reform as I see them- social liberalism, non-fundamentalism, feminism, friendliness to gays and lesbians and, um, being Jewish- are about as far away from radical Islam as anything on earth.
There's a kernel of truth to Beck saying that Reform is in many ways "about politics," but in the ways they are they're on the opposite side of just about every issue in the world from radical Islam.
This one made my head spin.
I'm also wondering how it possibly took so long for someone to create a fake Ultimate Warrior Twitter account.
Fulfilling the prophecy that all top professional athletes belong on the "big stage" of New York, and smaller markets can go piss off, the New York Knicks have traded their entire team for Carmelo Anthony.
A prediction: the Knicks will be terrible for the foreseeable future. They've got exactly three players right now, and virtually no draft picks for the next few years. And Isiah Thomas is ascendent in the front office. In 2012, they won't even be the best team in New York City.
This graph is right on. All the engineering expertise we have at our behest- why can't we get the shower right?
The Twins are really giving this away this year for its 20th anniversary. Oh, I love that. And Gant was out.
Over the weekend I finally read Lawrence Wright's epic, 25,000-word New Yorker piece about Paul Haggis and his breaking with the Church of Scientology. First of all, great piece, even if it was lawyered to hell by allowing the Scientologists to deny most of the facts in it, paragraph by paragraph. Also, while I'm more on Haggis' side- and I tried not to let my intense dislike of his work to cloud my judgment of the piece- he doesn't come across especially great either. He sounds like kind of a jerk, actually- and after 25 years in the church, he didn't notice something was up until one employee of the San Diego office signed a pro-Prop 8 petition? Huh?
That musical chairs story was really something though.
David Frum had a really fascinating piece on his site last week about the longtime feud, essentially, between the part of the conservative movement that wants Muslims to vote Republican (led by Grover Norquist) and the side that thinks every last one of them is a terrorist or tied to terrorists (led by Frank Gaffney.)
A nugget I never knew about: a couple of people later convicted of terrorism were contributors to Bush's 2000 campaign, and even visited the White House. If the same thing had happened with Obama, I've got a feeling we would've heard about it, right?
Sally Jenkins has the best piece yet on why the NFL's upcoming calamitous labor dispute is mostly, if not all, the owners' fault:
I'm not sure why NFL players and fans should pay the estate taxes for Daniel Snyder's children, along with the little Bidwills and Maras. That's one way to think of the current NFL labor dispute. The owners are worried that $9 billion isn't enough revenue growth, and their heirs might someday have to fly commercial. So they're demanding that everybody pony up... Because when you peel away the headachy legal terms and expose their real position, it can be summed up very simply: They believe they are entitled to make money every year, even in the midst of disastrous recessions. They think they are owed a living.I'll say it again: the NFL owners have both the most successful and money-making league of the Big Four, and they also have the most owner-friendly economic system. The reason there's about to be a labor dispute is because they want even more money and a more owner-friendly system.
There's a show called "Gold Rush: Alaska," in which a bunch of explorers in Alaska are looking for gold. They search a hole in the ground for gold. What do they call the hole? You guessed it: "The Glory Hole." Thank you The Soup:
Craig Calcaterra has an excellent post about the exact kind of fan I am.
News Item: U.S. vetoes U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements. Jeffrey Goldberg has three points, all of which I agree with:
1) All of you who tell me, when I'm giving speeches or speaking on panels, that President Obama is an enemy of Israel, could you please stop your nonsense for a while? Thank you.
2) It would be very nice if Prime Minister Netanyahu would reciprocate this enormous show of good will and confidence, by, oh, stopping settlement growth.
3) Why couldn't the U.S. convince the Palestinians to withdraw this resolution in the first place? Don't we fund the Palestinian Authority government? This resolution, while emotionally satisfying to Palestinians, achieved nothing, except annoying the two countries -- Israel and the U.S. -- that the Palestinians most need to bring about the creation of a state.
CNN talks about the Santorum problem:
My favorite thing about this is that anyone watching who doesn't know what "Santorum" means will immediately run to Google to see what the neologism is.
This, by the way, is way, way more offensive to me than building a mosque a few blocks away.
Guess this makes him a RINO.
I review the new Liam Neeson movie in the Patch.
I look at the next bubble in an E-Gear blog post.
Drew Magary had a great essay yesterday about a subject that doesn't get enough play- a lot of people go to college and don't actually have such a great time. Everyone idealizes "Animal House," sure, but there are a whole lot of people who just sit around college campuses and sit around and do nothing but feel sorry for themselves.
I had mixed feelings about rooting for the Packers in the Super Bowl. No such mixed feelings here:
Details has an excellent oral history of the late, much-missed "Party Down," which is worth it if not for the video clips alone.
Jonathan Chait, on a study about "agnotology," vis a vis the birtherism issue:
Quiggin's argument hinges on the fact that conservatives understand that some people do not believe President Obama was born outside the United States (or is a Muslim, or...) But what those conservatives believe is that they enjoy access to truth that is denied Americans who are brainwashed by the mainstream media. The believe that Fox News is not just a network that counteracts the biased liberal media, or even a network that reports the stories that the liberal media ignore, but the vehicle for Truth:
You can find beliefs like this on the Howard Zinn/Noam Chomsky left, but not in the mainstream liberal left. You don't see Rachel Maddow claiming that the mainstream media is full of lies, and that she can deliver her viewers the Truth that is being systematically covered up elsewhere. There's no Maddow University. This kind of belief system, a claim to totalistic Truth that is denied outsiders, is common among cults and other subcultures. The new development is that it has become a significant, and possibly the majority, belief among a major political party.
I'm just sick about the news that CNN's Lara Logan was beaten and sexually assaulted by a mob in Egypt. Journalists who go into war zones to report are heroes, and I hope Ms. Logan recovers soon.
Of course, as with anything else, a whole lot of people proved themselves idiots in reaction, including that borderline-subhuman piece of human garbage known as Debbie Schlussel, who felt the need to use the occasion to bash Muslims, who as we all know are the only rapists in the world. It might be a new low for Schlussel, although last year she criticized "Waiting For 'Superman'" for blaming the crisis in education on teachers' unions, as opposed to the inherent dysfunctionality of black people.
Then there was Nir Rosen, a relatively obscure lefty journalist/academic, who took to Twitter after the Logan attack to joke about it, denounce her as a warmonger, and lament that she would become a martyr. For this, Rosen was forced out of his fellowship at NYU. (Schlussel probably would've been fired too, but I'm not sure she has a job.)
Rosen's an idiot with a long trail of highly questionable statements, and if this means the end of his career I won't be too upset. But you know what? If Rush Limbaugh had said the exact same thing- perhaps substituting "liberal media mouthpiece" for "warmonger"- the incident would've had no repercussions whatsoever. Media Matters would complain, Rush would say they're trying to "silence" him, and that would be that.
I also don't want to hear Rosen's statements attributed to "The Left." Reaction from "The Left" to Rosen's comments were about 10,000-1 against, and even more lopsided than that among The Left's feminist contingent.
James Poniewozik of Time had my favorite take on this:
What happened to Logan was despicable. What it was not was an object lesson proving anyone's pet take on Egypt, Islam, American policy in the Middle East, the Iraq or Afghanistan wars, the media (pro or con), Logan's past work or personal character, or the proper place of women pursuing their work in dangerous situations. What we know is this: a woman was beaten and assaulted trying to do her job, and it was indefensible. Until and unless we learn more, everything else is conjecture and opportunism. You would think people would understand this point of simple decency. You would be wrong
Would you believe someone else is claiming to have directed "The Room"? Apparently the script supervisor claims that he did most of the work on set, mostly because Tommy Wiseau was more concerned with showing off both his acting talents and buttocks.
You wouldn't think someone would want credit for directing the worst movie of all time, but...
Watson the computer visits "Conan":
You just know they were all pretending Watson was Jay Leno.
The Best Catcher in the World visits Jimmy Fallon:
Kirby Puckett famously went on Letterman in the early '90s, but I don't remember any other Twin appearing on a late night talk show until now.
"Empire State of Mind" was this year nominated for Record of the Year. It came out in mid-2009 and was the music of the Yankees' 2009 World Series run. Now it's 2011. Between the release of the song and its Grammy consideration, Cliff Lee has been traded to the Phillies, pitched for them, pitched for two other teams, and come back to the Phillies. On the bright side, if a new song this week gets nominated for a Grammy in two years, Lee would almost certainly still be a Phillie when the ceremony rolls around.
If you wondered why I love writing about small-time crime so much, stories like this are the reason.
Wow, this might be the most audacious parody I've ever seen:
A long and complex discussion of the breakup of Hulk Hogan and Macho Man, leading into Wrestlemania V.
If anyone in American life needed to be knocked down a peg or two, it's the foodies, so way to go Atlantic.
I'm sure the National Enquirer is proud of themselves. Someone jumped out of the bushes and took pictures of a man (Steve Jobs) who's probably dying as he walked into a cancer hospital, in order to sell it to a tabloid and thus violate a man's medical privacy. Sure hope they're proud of themselves.
What Apple did to Gizmodo, I hope they multiple times a thousand this time.
- I didn't realize A.J. Daulerio was such a dead ringer for Charlie from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." The two men also share a hometown and a general outlook on life.
- No mention of Drew?
- I was sort of all set without ever seeing Sean Salisbury on TV again. I was just reminded that I shouldn't complain about ESPN anymore, since it could be worse, he could still be on it.
The Name of the Year blog is looking for an intern. I'm guessing the internship entails:
1. Search all corners of the Internet for funny names
2. Get coffee
An a cappella rendition of "No Cars Go":
Last night's "Two and a Half Men"- which hinged on a woman convincing a man that a mannequin named "Manny Quinn" was in fact her husband- may have been the worst sitcom episode of all time. But the vanity card at the end by creator Chuck Lorre almost redeemed it:
I exercise regularly. I eat moderate amounts of healthy food. I make sure to get plenty of rest. I see my doctor once a year and my dentist twice a year. I floss every night. I've had chest x–rays, cardio stress tests, EKG's and colonoscopies. I see a psychologist and have a variety of hobbies to reduce stress. I don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't do drugs. I don't have crazy, reckless sex with strangers.I'm glad he has some levity about the likelihood that his show's about to be kiboshed when its star keels over in the next few weeks.
If Charlie Sheen outlives me, I'm gonna be really pissed.
Proving once again that wrestling's #1 weapon is nostalgia, Dwayne Johnson returned to wrestling Monday night and was announced as the "host" of the upcoming Wrestlemania:
First of all, I think it's funny that anyone 14 or younger who watches wrestling probably thinks of The Rock as an actor and doesn't even remember him being in wrestling. And secondly, the way the Rock is a presence and has the crowd eating out of his hand... there's no one in wrestling today that has that kind of power, not even close.
I guess Vince McMahon has reached the realization- or did five years ago- that he can't sell Wrestlemania anymore on the strength of the matches, so he always has to come up with some weird gimmick instead. One year it was Trump, another it was Bret Hart, now it's the Rock.
You know what I do if I were Vince? Bring in the Winklevoss brothers as a heel tag team. I mean, doesn't "I'm 6'4", 220, and there's two of me" sound like a wrestling catchphrase?
Slate has a fascinating article about TV critic Alan Sepinwall and the genre of immediate, in-depth episode-by-episode TV criticism that he pioneered and perfected.
I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed reading Sepinwall, Tim Goodman, Matt Zoller Seitz and all the TV Club people on all the great shows of recent years- there's nothing like watching an episode of "Mad Men" or "Justified" or even "Community," and then immediately go online and read 3 or 4 essays about them. I'm also working through "Breaking Bad" reruns, and every episode I've watched has been followed by reading Sepinwall's recaps.
I'm a huge fan of Drew Magary's humor pieces on Deadspin, which more often than not have nothing to do with sports at all. I think what I like most is that Drew combines a hilarious lowbrow comedic sensibility with refreshing honesty and what you can tell is fundamental decency. Of course, I also love his allusions to the Minnesota childhood that sounds a lot like mine:
I took guitar lessons at a music store in the Ridgedale Mall in Minnetonka, Minn., when I was a kid. Our instructor was named Brian, and he had a wispy mustache. This was the first song he taught us. I was a very impatient student. Brian said the best way to learn the guitar was to start off with an acoustic guitar, which I thought was stupid and for pussies. I rented a Gibson instead. He also explained that we should really know chords before we know how to play any songs. And I was like, "Fuck that, Brian. When the fuck do we ROCK?" I demanded we move on from the kiddie stuff and go straight to the "Damage Inc." solo. He explained that you have to NOT suck in order to play that particular piece of music, but I was undaunted. I bought the tablature book to "Master of Puppets" and sat there trying to play all the songs. And, of course, what came out of my guitar sounded NOTHING like the actual song, which angered me to no end.I think I took the same lessons, though mine were at Southdale rather than Ridgedale.
- The new girl with Barney is much, much more likely to be The Mother than Zoey is. As is Robin's coworker, played by Artemis from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."
- I love the idea of Lily sleeping with a pillow in a Vikings jersey while Marshall's out of town. I'll recommend my wife do the same thing next time I go away on business.
- How do all of Marshall's old NES and Gameboy games still work?
- There's no Upper Peninsula in Minnesota. And if they're driving to the one in MIchigan, it's about a seven-hour drive, two states away.
Two events that both happened the same day:
- Senator-turned-Chicago Mayoral candidate Carol Mosely Braun quotes the Franz Liebkind character in "The Producers" in calling opponent Rahm Emanuel "kind and gentle," which is what Franz said about Hitler. This episode mostly drew notice because someone with the last name "Braun" was referencing Hitler.
- Kenneth Mars, the actor who played Franz in the original "Producers" movie, died.
Jonathan Chait is absolutely right:
The larger picture is this: the budget debate we're having has virtually nothing to do with the budget deficit, and only a little to do with the size of government. It's a debate about a small slice of the federal budget, and it's happening because Republicans want to cut the size of government without coming out against actual government programs.Reducing the deficit would be easy: just raise taxes. But since the Republicans care infinitely more about taxes than about the deficit, neither will happen.
An oldie but goodie from 5 Second Films.
A surprising new endorsement from the actor who played Stringer Bell on "The Wire":
Sprint along with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) and Wells Fargo, announces Golden Globe nominee Idris Elba as the official ambassador for the 4G Competitive Edge Filmmakers Challenge, a competition that calls on college students to shoot a short film with a smartphone. The short film is designed to illustrate how the ease and services of Sprint 4G gives students a competitive edge.A good cause, of course. But ironic that the guy whose most famous role was as a man police tried to use phone wiretaps to catch is now endorsing wireless phones.
Noah blogs about February in a new blog post.
Jack McCaffery with a characteristically wrong-headed piece about why Philadelphia has never hosted a Super Bowl:
In a chilly climate, in anything but a vacation destination, in a mini sports complex in the suburbs of Dallas hard by a Walmart, more than 100,000 will watch the Super Bowl Sunday. Why couldn't Philadelphia have been a Super Bowl site? Because Philadelphia has spent decades butchering its sports complex and thus its opportunity to host such an event. That's why. Understanding the century he was in, Jerry Jones ordered up the most spectacular of six-figure-capacity domed palaces for his Cowboys. Already, he has lassoed in the Super Bowl and has become a real threat to Las Vegas boxing with the ability to put on mega-shows. By contrast, Philadelphia bulldozed 100,000-seat JFK Stadium and replaced it with a hockey arena 10 inches from a perfectly useful hockey arena. Gone was Philadelphia as a world destination for the mega-rock concert. Eventually, the Linc rose for outdoor football, and mostly to yawns.Wrong, wrong wrong. The reason Philadelphia hasn't hosted a Super Bowl has nothing to do with the inadequacies of the Linc- it's because it's a cold-weather city, and cold weather cities without domes don't generally get Super Bowls. New York got one for a few years from now, but I've got a feeling if it's even a little bit cold that week it'll be the last cold weather Super Bowl for awhile. Not to mention, Philadelphia isn't "gone... as a world destination for mega-rock concerts"- the city was the U.S. host for Live 8 a few years ago.
Is McCaffrey suggesting that the city should've left the Spectrum and JFK Stadium standing forever? Wasn't JFK condemned 25 years ago? And sure, if Philly had built a covered stadium in place of the Linc, it probably would've gotten a Super Bowl- but would that have been worth having a dome?
I'm no Man U fan, but man this was awesome:
The New York Times makes it. I've found WebMD to be a great way to scare yourself, because no matter what symptoms you have, it always tells you you have cancer. But it's also a tool of Big Pharma, it appears.
This SNL movie parody is too cool for words:
Actually not a bad night of SNL- Russell Brand is one of those people- like Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais, and so many others- who's much funnier in sketches and standup than in movies. The food taster sketch was a gem as well, as was the Eminem/Lil Wayne bit.
It would have been overwhelmingly counterproductive for Egyptian protestors to take up arms and start trying to go head to head with the state’s security forces. Everyone would have gotten killed and the chances for a happy outcome would be much bleaker than they are today.
The fact of the matter is that tyranny is a serious problem, and it calls for serious solutions and serious responses. The idea that the common man is going to use small arms to fight off a modern, 21st century military organization is ridiculous.
Pissing away the Iraq war was nothing compared to this:
I really don't think Rummy has been in a room with someone that evil since he met with Saddam in 1983.
Baseball Prospectus looks at which Cubs game they went to in "Ferris Bueller." Of course, they could've also just looked back at police report archives and found the day in 1986 when a Ferrari was destroyed in the Chicago suburbs.
Nathan Rabin in a My Year of Flops on "Shadowboxer":
I thought Precious was a perversely non-commercial prospect a few years back when I saw it at Sundance; compared to Shadowboxer, though, it's about as bizarre and daring as a Happy Feet sequel. After making Shadowboxer, anything short of a pro-Nazi, pro-pedophilia snuff film climaxing with the onscreen murder of Tom Hanks would have to look safe and tame by comparison.
Chris Orr on the new Sandler abomination:
Just Go With It, by contrast, offers an interminable (and, for our purposes, necessarily incomplete) litany of jokes about breast implants, penile implants, butt implants, erectile dysfunction, irritable bowel syndrome, testicular injuries, erections, masturbation, overweight women, old women, women with big noses, men with big noses, gay men, lazy Hispanic nannies, lazy Hawaiian nannies, sex with sheep, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation of sheep, coconuts rubbed against breasts, coconuts rubbed against crotches, coconuts gripped between ass-cheeks, hands accidentally placed upon boobs, hands accidentally placed in toilets, hands accidentally shit upon, precocious children blackmailing adults, precocious children mimicking cockney accents, and precocious children dropped on their faces in the mud. There is even a scene, unconnected to any other moment in the film, in which an anonymous child hurls a soft drink on the belly of his very pregnant mother. Because, you know, it's funny. In addition to such pearls, we are, of course, treated to the wide array of random foreign and/or infantile accents that Sandler feels contractually obligated to perform.
What is remarkable about this cavalcade of vulgarity—for which I might otherwise harbor a soft spot—is that at no time does it manage, even accidentally, to be bold, or original, or subversive.
I review the truly vile new Adam Sandler movie "Just Go With It" at the Patch. Not many reviews have mentioned it, but the movie opens with one of the more disgusting Jew-baiting scenes I've ever seen in a movie.
I'm not sure how things are going to shake out, but it's a wonderful, world-historical thing to see people in the streets of Egypt celebrating their freedom. It's also the second biggest humiliation of an Egyptian dictator in human history.
Jonathan Chait suggests that Hosni Mubarak jump into the 2012 GOP field:
The GOP field is torn between candidates with executive experience but no foreign policy experience (i.e., governors like Mitt Romney or Mitch Daniels) and candidates with foreign policy experience but no executive experience. Mubarak has both!He may be a despot, but he's more qualified for the presidency than Palin, Santorum, Bachmann...
You want a candidate who's tough on Islamists? The other Republicans can talk all they want about doubling Gitmo, but only Mubarak has imprisoned and tortured Islamists. You can't possibly get to the right of him on this issue. And he's extremely pro-Israel.
An excellent example of the kind of movie we're trying to protect the green shoots from is Just Go With It (Sony Pictures), a comedy so noxious it seems the product of deliberate malignity. Surely the sour, vapid, miserable world of this movie can't reflect any real human being's notion of what love or humor or good storytelling is—not even a Hollywood screenwriter's. The only acceptable explanation for the existence of Just Go With It is that everyone involved in the creation of this movie—the director Dennis Dugan, the co-writers Allan Loeb and Timothy Dowling, the entire misused and humiliated cast—hates romantic comedy and wants it to die.
Comments weren't working for the past month or two, but now they are again. So comment away! And I think it's about time I switch to WordPress, from my seven-year-old version of Movable Type.
Somehow I never knew this sketch existed:
Speaking of Feuds Where Both People Suck...
I can't wait for the debates. And now Trump might get in! Because the 2012 GOP field doesn't have enough delusional megalomania as it is.
Who Are the Ad Wizards? takes apart the worst ad of the Super Bowl.
I don't know that I've ever read a better take on the absurdity of beer commercials than this one by Tom Scocca.
News Item: Twins considering trading Francisco Liriano
Because when your problem is that you have six starting pitchers, the solution is to... trade the best one. Sure, maybe they consider him too injury-prone and not worthy of a long-term extension. But he's two years from free agency and they're a contender. Bad, bad idea.
Zach G. juggles Aniston and Tequila:
Reminded me a lot of this for some reason.
Steve Benen on Egypt:
In the case of U.S. policy towards Egypt, the dynamic is well beyond left vs. right. Instead we're seeing (a) those in the U.S. who support the protesters, their calls for sweeping democratic reforms, and Mubarak's ouster; (b) those who support Mubarak and fear his unknown replacement; and (c) those who believe caliphates run by zombie Islamists, the Illuminati, and the Loch Ness Monster are coming to steal your car.
This video makes me ashamed to be from the Midwest:
Where in the world did they get that silly notion that Obama is a Muslim? Here's a clue: the lower-left corner on the screen.
Pixar is bulletproof, assholes. We can put out any old piece of shit that perfectly examines universal themes of love and friendship and just walk away with record box-office numbers. In fact, I think I'll have my award-winning design team get cracking on an anthropomorphic piece of shit right now. Yes. Shit. I'm talking actual human feces here, folks. We'll give it eyes and limbs, and―I don't know―call it Danny Caca. Brad Bird can make a story about how it got lost on its way to the sewage treatment facility. Its best friends are a used sewage-logged tampon and a hypodermic needle. Then we'll just sit back and watch the receipts come in.It goes without saying that I would see that movie.
It was bad enough when they put the Kevin Pollak Chat Show behind a paywall- but then they made it really inconvenient to download it:
The entire YouTube archive of the show is gone. All the podcasts have been replaced with three-minute downloads with a minute's worth of the show and a patronizing wraparound instructing you where to purchase the episode. Your options boil down to two -- a 99-cent audio purchase on the iTunes Store or a $1.99 purchase on Amazon. Full, single episodes are also available for $9.99 on manufactured-on-demand DVDs via Amazon.Too bad- it was my favorite show of its kind, and some of the best episodes were ones I never would have thought to download. I just wish some cable channel which had no concerns about language or two-hour running time would put it on the air...
Paul Haggis vs. Scientology! Glenn Beck vs. Bill Kristol! So many feuds this week in which both sides fighting are totally despicable! So clearly, we're headed for another Yankees-Braves World Series.
News Item: AOL buys Huffington Post
Let's hope it works out better than the last time AOL tried to buy a media company.
Flash Warner on the bullshit Roethlisberger "redemption" angle:
Last night, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was just two ticks away from being a good person. All he had to do to make us forget about that whole rapey pariah thing was march the Steelers down the field and win the Super Bowl by a point. That’s it... Anyway, thanks to the Packers’ 31 – 25 victory (also known as zero turnovers beats three), Big Ben is still a rapist and has to wait another year for a chance to win our hearts. Christina Aguilera, on the other hand, will never have that chance.
The Green Bay Packers tonight won Super Bowl XLVI, defeating Pittsburgh in Dallas. Despite Christina Aguilera screwing up the national anthem, the Black Eyed Peas performing the worst halftime show in human history, a couple hundred fans not getting to sit in their seats and many many injuries, it was a pretty good game.
A few notes:
- Even though I'm a lifelong Vikings fan and can't really root for the Packers, I couldn't root for Roethlisberger either. And I just love the idea that he somehow would have "redeemed" himself if the Steelers had won, as if a Super Bowl win would undo the two rape accusations.
- A whole bunch of players came out of the game with injuries. But I didn't see any of them on the sidelines on crutches or in slings. Are they wusses who let down their team, or is that just Jay Cutler?
- About that halftime show- it was as bad as I feared- but why'd they have to drag Slash into it? "Sweet Child O' Mine" is probably my favorite rock song of my lifetime, and certainly the best opening riff ever. So it's bad enough to hear those talentless tools talk over it- but did Slash really have to participate himself? On the other hand, the length of that halftime show may have been the funniest 20 minutes in the history of Twitter.
- I'd love to see a Kanye West halftime show. But he's way too controversial and the league would never go for it.
- Who's ready for all football news in the next eight months to be about the lockout? Yea!
- The best commercials: 1. "Reply All" (for Bridgestone); 2. Volkswagen Darth Vader (only because the minute-long online version was much better. 3. Chrysler/Detroit Eminem. 4. The Sitcom characters for the NFL, and 5. The Chevy car with Facebook statuses. Sure, it's a completely worthless feature that no one will use, but still, great presentation.
The worst commercials: 1. "Cram It in the Boot" (for obvious reasons). 2. Timothy Hutton/Tibet for Groupon (just creepy and minimizing of what used to be considered an important cause. 3. Every Bud Light, Doritos and Pepsi Max spot (tie) 4. Go Daddy. Guess what- if you go to the website, they don't get naked!
Movies: "Super 8" looks awesome but none of the others do.
"Glee": An episode clearly written by someone who has never seen football, ever.
Fact: If Ronald Reagan were alive today, the Tea Party would denounce him as an insufficiently conservative heretic and RINO who raised taxes, cut and ran from Lebanon, and was a Hollywood elitist to boot.
Dana Carvey's return to SNL was somewhat successful Saturday, even though Carvey and Mike Myers, who are both in their late 50s, are a bit too old to still be playing teenagers, and "Wayne's World" was a lot funnier when I was 12 than it is now. The Church Lady bit was funny though, and good to see Dana drag his Mickey Rooney impression out of the mothballs.
I just don't see why Carvey didn't have a better career, the botched heart surgery notwithstanding. So Dana starred in three bad movies- Adam Sandler has starred in like 20 of them.
At this point, Jay Pharoah and Paul Brittain are the future of the show, and once they mature, SNL will be fine.
Mike Lynn, the former general manager of the Vikings who was instrumental in getting the Metrodome built, later was rewarded when then-Vikings President Max Winter made it possible for Lynn to receive a percentage of the income from the suites.That poor guy! How will Lynn, who hasn't worked for the Vikings in 15 years, live without a six-figure income that he earns from doing absolutely nothing?
Sources claim Lynn's share has been worth as much as $400,000 per season. Now, with the end of the Vikings' Metrodome lease
coming in 2011, there is some question whether Lynn still will draw that income if the Vikings continue to play in the dome while a stadium is built.
I'm even more upset about Cris Carter not making the Hall of Fame again...
I review the underwhelming new movie "Sanctum" at the Patch- and starting this week, my reviews will appear in all Montgomery County editions. One of these weeks I'll write a positive review, I swear...
Oh, this is great:
My favorite part was the owner of a team called the Redskins accusing the paper of anti-Semitism. And attention, Eagles haters: this, and the 30 things mentioned in the article, are far worse than the worst thing Jeffrey Lurie has ever done.
And speaking of the worst people in sports, Deadspin did a great, great job with this. Especially the Colin Cowherd part.
In this excellent piece of satire, Michael Kinsley bites, crushes and steps on the hand that feeds him (Politico.)
I've got a feeling Verizon came up with this commercial idea about three years ago:
Jonathan Chait sizes up the 2012 GOP field. I'm just wondering where Andy Reid would place on the Sanity/Mormonism Graph?
Lawyer-turned blogger Craig Calcaterra slams Roger Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin:
Psst! Prosecutors! Every single thing Rusty Hardin has done during the course of his representation of Clemens has failed. He has either given bad advice or acquiesced to Clemens’ own bad decisions every single time a decision has had to be made. Every. Single. Time. It’s uncanny! Clemens would be in less trouble legally, personally and professionally right now if he had been represented by a Magic Eight Ball. And you want to limit Hardin’s role in the case? Really?I'm not a lawyer, but if your client is obviously lying, it's probably not a good idea to allow them to demand a Congressional hearing in which said client is volunteering to perjure himself.
This home run Volkswagen commercial will debut during the Super Bowl:
There's probably no genre of sports column more disreputable than "the city where I'm covering the Super Bowl is too cold/boring/spread out." As if a reporter not having a good enough time on his all-expenses-paid trip to go to a bunch of parties and cover a football game is a horrible problem worthy of anyone else's concerns.
So in other words, good for KSK.
This was the reaction of some. Andy Reid, meanwhile, came up with an ingenious plan- to get everyone off the Akers scent, today he named his longtime offensive line coach his new defensive coordinator.
Charlie Sheen, for issuing a statement that "Egypt about burned to the ground, and all you people care about is my bullsh-t....?" This is up there with Howard Eskin defending the Eagles for losing in the first round because it wasn't as bad as the Tucson shooting.
And speaking of Charlie, this Matt Zoller Seitz essay is the best thing I've read in a long time.
The phrase has no meaning whatsoever, as Paul Waldman ably points out.
This Boston Herald piece charts Mitt Romney's presidential aspirations solely by the criteria of whether "Big Love" is or is not airing at any given time. Huh? Romney is a Mormon but not a polygamist; "Big Love" is a show about polygamists who are not Mormons. There were many reasons why Romney's 2008 campaign never took off, but I've got a feeling "Big Love" had nothing to do with any of them.
Conor Friedersdorf, destroying Andrew McCarthy:
Yes, Hamas was founded as an offshoot of The Muslim Brotherhood back in 1987. And Slate was founded as an offshoot of Microsoft in 1996. Now imagine someone coming along to tell, "Slate is Microsoft." You'd understand the flawed logic. A shared point in origin doesn't itself make entities identical... Any analysis of the actual behavior of Hamas and The Muslim Brotherhood over the last couple decades shows that they're different organizations run by different personnel in different countries where they've made different things their main focus and evolved in unique ways, as is inevitable when taking an active role in the civic and political life of particular countries.
A mashup of Simpsons clips featuring the "Up Late with McBain" Host:
Michael Steele meets the other Michael Steele:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Michael Steele Pt. 1|
One of my favorite things about watching "Sesame Street" with Noah is when the Michael Steele muppet shows up occasionally.
This story has taken over the Philadelphia sports world in the last week: David Akers, the longtime Eagles kicker who missed two field goals in the team's loss to Green Bay in the first round of the playoffs, revealed this week that his six-year-old was recently diagnosed with a tumor on her ovary, and that he was waiting to hear about test results at the time of the game.
Complicating matters was that Andy Reid, in the postgame press conference, had singled out Akers, answering a reporter's question by stating "we can all count; those points would have helped."
Now, a few points on this: First, I'm highly sympathetic to Akers. It's one thing to worry about a family health emergency, especially one that serious. It's another when you're waiting to hear about results, and have to go about your daily business while doing so. So my thoughts are with him and his family.
As for the Reid angle? I'm sure the coach regrets saying that, and really, he's known for almost never specifically criticizing players after games. But you know what? It was a pretty innocuous comment. It wasn't like he said "David Akers is the reason we lost and he should be ashamed of himself." I don't understand why we call these players warriors and gladiators, but expect them to fall to pieces in the face of the mildest of criticism from a teammate or coach. I'd like the phrase "threw him under the bus" to be completely eradicated from all sports discussion.
Then there's Mike Missanelli's position, which is that it's okay for Reid to bash Akers, because kickers don't really count as football players. Missanelli's right most of the time, but when he's wrong, he's horribly, egregiously wrong.
Warming Glow has an amusing look at the ten worst shows to be Top Ten hits. My favorite part:
Did “ALF” really happen? Seriously, did a network TV show about a beer-drinking, wise-talking alien from the planet Melmac really become not only a top-10 hit, and maybe the most popular, ratings-wise, science-fiction show of all-time? The show’s almost weird enough that it’s worth ironically watching, but, nope. ALF was also kind of a dick. There’s, of course, the racist tirade from last year, but Tina Fey once said that “ALF”’s team were the toughest people she had to work with during NBC’s 75th Anniversary Special—even worse than those smarmy bastards from “My Mother the Car.” ALF was also known to cavort around with Joe Namath, and I can only imagine the sick, twisted things they must have done together, or the number of times Namath told ALF to go up to a woman and say, “Can I eat your pussy…cat?”
New York magazine has a great writeup about the "tube" sites that have put the porn industry in a tailspin. Great nuggets throughout, including that the cofounders of Brazzers met each other on the competitive foosball circuit. That's right- there's a competitive foosball circuit!
I've gotta say- the fake Gallagher Twitter account is tremendous.
I really enjoyed this list, even if it failed to include Dickie Thon. Or Gar Finnvold.
It's David Lynch's "Dirty Dancing":
I saw this commercial for the Body By Jake Tower 200, a big steel exercise contraption that attaches to your door. Hank Kingsley got there first, almost 20 years ago, with the Hankerciser.
It was even the Hankerciser 200!
I don't like him either:
How often is Dr. Phil the second most-loathsome person in a particular video clip? (I talked about this stupid campaign here.)
Conor Friedersdorf on Glenn Beck:
As I've said before, lots of Glenn Beck listeners aren't in on the joke. Unlike Roger Ailes, Jonah Goldberg, and every staffer at the Heritage Foundation happy hour, they don't realize that the Fox News Channel puts this man on the air fully understanding that large parts of his program are uninformed nonsense mixed with brazen bullshit. When a Fox News host tells these viewers, "I'm not going to treat like you're a moron," playing on their insecurity about other media outlets talking down to or lying to them, they take it at face value. What sort of callous, immoral person allows these viewers to be played for fools?I mean, watch that Beck clip in the link. My favorite part is when he predicts that Hezbollah "will go into Iraq." Huh?