Thursday, August 31, 2006


Going in I was expecting a quirky masterpiece. And while it didn't live up to my incredibly high expectations, this film is truly worth the price of admission.


Rating: ****1/2 out of 5

What’s not to like in this gem of a film about an idiosyncratic, semi-dysfunctional family that ventures on a road trip. The baby of the family, 7 year-old Olive (Abigail Breslin), wins a shot at a regional children’s beauty pageant, and soon the entire family jumps into the VW Bus. While the screenplay is deftly written (especially for a debut), it is the outstanding cast that steals the show. Anchored by Breslin, who is remarkable as Olive, the cast portrays the dynamic, hot-and-cold relationships that are forged on the anvil of family. While the film may be a little light in some parts, there are poignant moments of real, visceral emotion. As Olive’s parents, Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear give wonderful performances; in my opinion both are underrated actors. Kinnear fluidly adds nuance to his caricature-like character when the screenplay calls for it. Collette brings life to a stressed out mom doing her best to keep her flock together. Steve Carell, a comedic genius as we all are aware, shows some major dramatic chops as Olive’s uncle. All in all, an enchanting film with a singular appreciation for what it means to be a family. Not to be missed.

Couric Photoshopped; Me Next!

I'm guessing many of you already know about CBS photoshopping Katie Couric for their magazine The Watch. I think most of us know photoshopping is rampant in the celeb and fashion and ladies mags. But if you didn't, here's a prime example of it and how well it works. Katie looks hot in the photoshopped pic, lol.

Katie's Extreme Makeover? - TV Newser

Speaking of slimming down, I've decided I need to as well. I used to be in pretty decent shape but a lazy summer has turned me into skinny-belly man. And as irresistable a hairy belly is to you ladies, I need to this for myself. Lol, I was actually going to put up some topless pics as "BEFORE" photos but I have chickened out. Though I'll prolly post them once I return to my old shape, along with "AFTER" photos, natch. Anyway, if anyone else is thinking about getting back in shape and wants to blog about it with me, let me know. And by blog about it I mean a weekly or twice a month update on our exercising routine, watching what we eat, weight loss and slimming of the waist. And we'll keep each other motivated. If anyone is interested, let me know.

Blog Out! Short Film Edition

The other day I caught these two short films on PBS. They are heavy on CGI and show how a handful of skilled digital craftspeople can produce something polished, exciting, and very impressive. The first, titled "PREY ALONE", is 15 minutes long and was completed in 2005. There's not much plot to this virtuoso car chase, but there's more breathtaking action in the short's 15 minutes than many Hollywood Studio movies. The second is the infamously titled "405". The 405 is perhaps the busiest highway in Southern California; trust me, you haven't witnessed traffic until you traverse the 405 at rush hour. Anyway, "405" (which was made all the way back in 2000) is a 5 minute short displaying a jumbo jet making an impromptu landing on the 405 highway. The highway has been evacuated except for two innocent bystanders. It's a funny short with incredible CGI skills on display.

Both are available online. So if you have time to spare, check them out:

PREY ALONE (highly recommended)
405 - The Movie

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Do it!

If you have some time on your hands, check out likebetter. The site basically shows you two images side by side and choose which one you like better. After several clicks a brain icon will turn pink to guess something about you.

I found this from Lisa's blog. It guessed Lisa was a guy. It guessed I was a girl. Stop laughing. It did correctly guess I was right handed, though with like only 10% of the population left handed I don't find this very impressive.

I will update as more guesses come about.

It guessed correctly that I attend college.
It guessed incorrectly on the boxers or briefs question.

Random Google Video

If you are a fan of the BBC version of "The Office" (I am, though I think the US version is a little funnier --- but I also saw the US version first) then check out these Microsoft Training Videos from their British Offices. You might want to hurry because YouTube took down their video feeds after Microsoft cried copyright.

Msoft Training Vid Part 1
Msoft Training Vid Part 2

Also, if you dare, check this one out. It's on the Top 10 list. And yes, I was fooled.

Even Stephven

I think Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell are two of the funniest people on the planet. Back on The Daily Show they had a hilarious skit called "Even Stephven". Anyway, Steve's wife Nancy Walls was also on the show. For some reason I remember her as kind of chunky (as someone who is working on getting rid of some belly I probably shouldn't be judging) but it may have been because she was umm, preggers. Yeah, that's kind of bad on my part. Anyway, Steve and Nancy (yes I'm on first name basis) showed up at the Emmys and she looks hot. My apologies Mrs. Carell for thinking you were a chunkster. IMDb also had a pic of Stephen Colbert and his cute wife so I put that up as well.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A few thoughts on the Emmys

First off, what the hell was Simon Cowell wearing? I mean I'm a hairy guy but that open shirt/chest hair thing was beyond disturbing. Thanks Simon, you've now crushed my dream ... of having an erection before 2010.

Okay, Tony Shalhoub must be the most popular man in Hollywood to keep winning. I mean if it was his first win, then bypassing Steve Carell might be understandable. But this is like his 17th win in 19 nominations or something. I've seen the first few episodes of MONK. It's a decent show but it's no Dunder-Mifflin!?!?! Also, did yall check out Carell's wife Nancy Walls (also a former The Daily Show member) --- she was looking hot! They make a great couple.

At least Dunder-Mifflin won for Best Comedy Show. And it was good to see The Daily Show pick up another couple Emmys --- though no love for the Lord of Truthiness Stephen Colbert. Colbert's wife was hot too --- they also make a cute couple.

And I was glad to see My Name is Earl win some awards as well. Greg Garcia (writing) and Mark Buckland (directing) had the funniest acceptance speeches. I hear ya Greg, God took my hair too ... and that's just not cool.

Also glad to see Andre Braugher win. He was on one of the most edgy, smart, and compelling shows on television: Homicide: Life on the Streets. He was nominated twice for H:LOTS and one once. Simply a terrific actor.

I still think Will Arnett and Arrested Development got robbed, but maybe there aren't enough Emmy Awards to go around.

Anyway, what are your thoughts?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Conan! (and the emmys)

So I'm a big Conan O'Brien fan. I used to watch him religiously but now I'm an old man and I need my beauty sleep. Nonetheless, I'm still 100% with the Conester. I think his off-the-cuff comedy during interviews is beyond hilarious. And when he takes over for Leno in 2009 I'll prolly return to watching "The Tonight Show" (that, or I'll have a tivo/DVR and record every show). Anyway, NBC is hosting the Emmy Awards again and they've made the smart move or re-tapping the Cone-man for hosting duties. I think 2002 was the last time I actually watched the Emmys and it was because of the Conan. I think the Academy Awards are a craptastic popularity contest so you can easily deduce my opinion of the Emmys. Anyway, since I've been watching quite a bit more tv recently I'll probably be somewhat interested in who wins certain awards ... but let's face it, we're all going to watching Conan rock the room. Conan's been doing some press for the Emmys and here are two rather funny interviews:

conan o'brien interview at AV Club

conan o'brien interview at yahoo!tv

PS -- I'm going to have an emmy post up very soon.

The Emmys

From my earlier post (about Conan hosting) you can see that I don't put much stake into the Emmy Awards. One of the main reasons is that crappy shows get nominated and win. For the last couple years "THE WIRE" has been one of the best programs on television. And while they're not eligible this time around (they had no original programs to air in the 2005 season), they have a grand total of 1 Emmy nomination for 3 seasons of exemplar work. That the show has yet to receive an acting nomination is completely ludicrous. But the Emmys get even crazier. While I haven't watched an episode of "Gilmore Girls" in years, the first couple seasons (the ones I watched) were very solid, especially the acting by Lauren Graham. Graham has yet to be nominated and the show has a grand total of 1 nomination for make-up. Now I understand one criticism of a show like "Gilmore Girls" is that it is sentimental at times. Well, so is/was "The West Wing" which has racked up a gazillion nominations. And so is "Grey's Anatomy" which has plenty of nominations. Now I'm not suggesting "The West Wing" or "Grey's Anatomy" should not be nominated, they are both decent shows and deserve nominations but perhaps not the plehora they have received. To suggest that the acting in WW or GA is somehow more demanding or superior to the acting in GG (for the first couple seasons I watched anyway) is absurd. If you want to check out real acting try THE WIRE or LOST. Which brings me to LOST. I have yet to see the second season (it hits DVD in about a week), but even if it fell off by 50% from the first season it should have received a nomination or three. And I think I know why LOST has been basically shut out this time around. The powers-that-be at the Emmys probably like to give each network a nomination for the big awards, therefore spreading the nominations around. Or maybe all the actors and technicians that vote are voting only for shows on their own networks. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but it smells fishy --- I mean how the hell does "Two and a Half Men" get nominated (though maybe I should retain judgement until I've seen an episode). I understand the Emmy people used a new system for the nominations this year that were to bolster the newer and never-nominated contenders. Other than GA and "Two and a Half Men" I don't see that it has worked. Anyway, I guess I'll end my Emmy rant here and go on to some predictions:

Outstanding Comedy Series - It better be "Arrested Development" or "The Office"

Outstanding Drama Series - It will most likely be GA (which is a decent show) but I think House should get it. Though in reality this should go to THE WIRE --- I don't care if they are not eligible!

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series - Steve Carell better win this, or the Emmys are fixed! And evil.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series - Will Arnett! Oh please Emmy Gods! Do the right thing!

Speaking of which, how the hell did "Arrested Development" not get more nominations?!?!?!?

Oh yeah, and I will end with another Emmy suggestion. Enlarge the number of nominations from 5 to 8 or 10. That way more shows and actors and directors/writers get justly nominated.

Okay, I'm done.

Okay, 1 more:

Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series - Colbert Report, Daily Show, Conan, or Letterman ... how Bill Maher got nominated is an outrage.

Friday, August 25, 2006


So first and foremost I'm a film and tv guy. I do love a good book and a good song, but they just don't take precedence. Especially music. In the car I listen to NPR and when I'm on public transit I'll crack open a book. This leaves very little time for music so it's no surprise I have no clue what all the kids are listening to. Which is totally cool with me because the kids are mostly dumb goofballs who probably listen to Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton and other crap. I mean the children are the future. Okay, since I know very little about the current music scene there's really no way I'm aware of the musicians that are actually churning out decent music. Unless of course I'm introduced to this good music through NPR or a film or tv. A couple years back, NPR introduced me to HEM. If you haven't heard their enchanting folk-lullabies, you are missing out.

Anyway, this brings me to a recent episode of the omniscient "The Colbert Report". (Yes, I'm british or whoever are the people who place periods outside of quotation marks when the sentence doesn't include quoting someone.) Earlier this week one of the bandmembers from OK Go came on "The Colbert Report" and discussed their elegant, beautific, and graceful dance videos. These YouTube vids are extremely popular and you'll see why. Plus the songs are pretty rad. (Yes, I'm a brit from the '80s.) So this is how I found out about some great new music.

OK Go - Treadmill vid - "Here It Goes Again"

OK Go - Dancing in the backyard vid - "A Million Ways"

PS - the videos are choreographed by the lanky guy's sister

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Science Corner

So there's an astronomer's convention in Prague and one of the hot topics of debate is how should a planet be defined. The debate centers squarely on Pluto. One side considers Pluto a planet while the other side does not. If Pluto is a planet, then there are three other space bodies that will immediately be labeled as planets as well. However, this would define a planet as "any object larger than 500 miles in diameter that orbits the sun, has a mass roughly one-12,000th that of Earth and has enough self-gravity to pull itself into a round shape." Critics point out that this definition would most likely add other bodies and asteriods in our solar system.

Now, I understand I am thoroughly unqualified to opine on this debate. Nevertheless, my voice on the subject must be heard for I bring a Colbert level of truthiness!

I am totally with the side that wants to kick Pluto out of the planets clique. First of all, Pluto is smaller than our moon. And B, Pluto's so called moon Charon is roughly as big Pluto. Parte tres, Pluto and Charon both orbit a point in space that is between them ... they basically revolve around each other. Anyway, I just had to bring the truthiness out and call Pluto on its planet imposter status.

And now for your reading pleasure, a conversation overheard at the convention:

Astronomer #1: So I hear you consider Pluto to be a planet.

Astronomer #2: That's right. It's a round shape, at least 500 miles in diameter, and has an orbit.

Astronomer #1: Hmmm, is that right?

Astronomer #2: Oh, you betcha.

Astronomer #1: Well my balls are 500 miles in diameter and they orbit Uranus but you don't see me trying to get them labeled as planets, do ya?

Astronomer #2: Very clever butt-munch.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I have discovered ...

The greatest television show in the world! It is ... "House MD" ... lol. Okay it's not the greatest, that title belongs to "The X-Files" (let's not argue people), but it is still pretty damn good. It's a refreshing, different take on a medical drama (especially when compared to ER, Chicago Hope, Grey's Anatomy, etc); the medical mystery makes for an intriguing plot. And I must admit the smarmy, arrogant, caustic Gregory House character (as played by the wonderful Hugh Laurie) makes for a very dynamic, always interesting show. I've only seen a handful of reruns on the USA network, but I am hooked and hopefully I can catch the previous seasons this way. Anyway, if any of you out are curious about "House MD" but have yet to view an episode, do yourself a favor and catch the next viewing ... you'll definitely enjoy it.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Media Test -- Updated

So last week I had a post entitled "Media Test" which linked to this internet video.

After viewing the video I asked the question: "Is this vid laughing at or laughing with preppies?"

Anyway, the point of the post was to run a little media literacy test because I strongly feel the video is BOTH laughing AT and laughing WITH preppies. And it is doing this because of the fact it is a marketing tool by the Smirnoff company for their new beverage "Raw Tea".

While I admit the mock video is funny (it has its moments), it seems rather sneaky and disingenuous for a multi-million dollar corporation to put together a slick mock music video commercial and try to pass it off as the product of some anonymous group (college kids or stand-ups or etc) who then uploaded the vid to the web. While Smirnoff is named numerous times in the video, there's no official logo or trademark to give the impression that the video is actually a commercial.

Now I understand most people will find this to be no big deal because we are bombarded by advertisements all the time. I think because we're already bombed with ads, it is important to know when we are watching something whose aim is truly comic or satiric and when we are watching something whose aim is commercial.

Which brings me to my last point. Is the vid really satiric? I personally do not think so. While the whole "preppie" as "gangsta" act is funny, as far as I can tell they both like to rap about their riches. The preppie rap lyrics go on to point out their "Ivy League education" and that their parents run the nation. And the video's "female talent" are basically interchangeable with any rap video --- the attire is the only difference. So while at first glance this may seem like a slight dig at preppies acting like gangstas, there's enough here to knowingly laugh with the type of preppies being portrayed. Now I'd like to point out here that being "preppie" isn't some kind of evil or bad thing or that every "preppie" likes to brag about being rich and feels their "kind" run the nation. It is just that this vid is doing both, laughing AT and WITH preppies.

Which I have to admit is excellent, sneaky, manipulative advertising.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

What do they say about female drivers?

So if you're not a big sports fan there's a lovely young lady racing cars in the IRL. Her name is Danica Patrick and while she hasn't won a race she has won a pole, a top five finish, and rookie of the year. She's easy on the eyes and has done an FHM spread or cover, as well as a couple slightly cheesecake commercials selling car fluids or something --- all I remember from the commercials is her pouty, "did someone fart?" look into the camera, lol.

Anyway, while Danica has made many female firsts in the IRL, winning a pole was not one of them. That's because Sarah Fisher did that back in 2002. While Sarah is pretty, she doesn't have the model figure and good looks of Danica. And perhaps that's a reason why she didn't receive the same hype as Danica. Sarah's 4 year stint in the IRL ended in 2004 as she tried to make the move to NASCAR. Recently Sarah returned to race in the IRL on an open-contract for a race or two. There's talk she will return to the IRL for the 2007 season.

Anyway, the reason I am posting about this is not simply because it seems a bit unfair society/sports media/IRL fans went bat-guano insane for Danica while only going semi-crazy for Sarah (specifically in hype and funding). I'm posting because it seems the sports media is ready to ignite a feud between the two. Take for example this article (from which I have borrow quite a bit of info) which has no problem fanning the flames. However, there's a quote from Danica in 2004 (before Danica entered the IRL) which is hard to ignore: "[Fisher has] done some good things, but then there are some bad things. Like, she struggles, I think, with the racing part of it."

That's right folks, what a beeyaa--not a very nice person. I have no idea if Danica has apologized for that comment but whatever, it was a bad thing to say. I'm sure Sarah had plenty of men questioning her ability but for another female driver to do so, and one who had yet to enter the IRL at the time, it's enough to bring about hair-pulling fisticuffs. I kid, I kid, on the hair-pulling.

Anyway, while an IRL feud between two female drivers may seem a bit sexist (how many times will we hear "catfight" in articles), it might bring in a crapload of viewers. And as many have mentioned, one of NASCAR's popularity is the soap-operatic, at times petty squabbling between its drivers. And let's face it, NASCAR is pretty damn popular.

So I think these two ladies should start a running feud and try to get the better of each other on the track next season. Perhaps Team Sarah and Team Danica shirts are to follow.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Random Stuff

So the other day Yahoo! News had a headline about men signing up for "Charm School" in order to woo the ladies. It's a curious read that doesn't really say much, but how can one not read about a "Charm School" (with a theory of attraction, no less --- though never explained) ... anyway, here's the link.

And for the record I was thinking about signing up but then I read how much it cost ... $1600 dollars. So I have a different plan. I'll take $1600 dollars and put it into my wallet. Then I'll head to a busy club and nonchalantly take out my now bulky wallet and act like I'm thumbing through it for something. The women and the gays will be on my like stupid on George Allen. Umm, because the women and the gays like money. Zing! Oh man, I'm so high-larious. Oh wait, I don't want the gays on me. Okay maybe I haven't thought this through.

Hah, I'm just joking around ladies. Saying women and the gays are only into money is a sexist stereotype. And as a proud feminist I would never do such a thing. Instead I'll tell women I'm sensitive, yet strong and that I watch "Grey's Anatomy". Lol.

For the record, I know of a few dudes that are so into money they actually gold dig (for lack of another term). This world is weird people, weird!

Anyway, TRANSFORMERS the live-action/CGI movie will be coming out next year. Michael Bay is the director so this might be crappy (I just checked out the writers and things don't seem good, though if this does turn out well it's good news for trekkies as this writing team is slated to write the next Trek film). Anyway, they have a teaser trailer up on the official website which doesn't really show much at all. But if you'd like to check it out here's the link.

Also, if you could help me out and leave a comment on the "Media Test" post below I would really appreciate it. Thanks!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Media Test

Step 1 - Go view this web vid at youtube.

Step 2 - Please answer the following question:

"Is this vid laughing at or laughing with preppies?"

Sunday, August 13, 2006

My pokemon brings all the nerds to the yard

I apologize for unleashing this upon you ... but alas ... I must.

Friday, August 11, 2006

AOL users are weird

So the other day some AOL employees posted a data set of nearly 37 million individual searches (made by about 650,000 members). That averages to like 56 searches per member. I'm not sure if 56 search entries can paint a picture of the user, but I'm sure it's fun trying. Anyway, Paul Boutin over at Slate has used the software of the startup company he works for to go over the searches and come up with 7 amorphous profiles. It's a very curious and interesting (and funny) read.

I guess I'm an Omnivore though I'm not sure that fits entirely because the majority of my searches are for film related sites. Anyway, it is a fun read. Click already!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Blog Out! - Non-Fiction

While I have a healthy books-to-read list (I'm currently on RIGHT AS RAIN by G. Pelecanos) I'm always on the lookout to add to the list. Thanks to a recent "Fresh Air "on NPR I came across The Wonga Coup by Adam Roberts. Here's a Seattle Times review of the book.

If you enjoy political and military thrillers, how about a non-fiction account of the attempted coup of the small African nation Equatorial Guinea ... by a group of about 100 Mercenaries employed by a group of well-to-do British/South African citizens. Yeah, when this story first broke in 2004 I had to do a double take on the Yahoo! News headline. From the few news articles I've read and the wonderful interview with author Adam Roberts on "Fresh Air" I've come to understand that the planners of the attempted coup basically considered it a get-even-richer scheme. The basic idea was to plant a native figurehead and stealthily steal the small nation's rich oil profits. The details and results of this ignominious exercise in arrogance and narcissism are interesting, laughable, and entertaining all at the same time. I hope I snag this book sooner than later ... it is going to make for one hell-of-a read.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Do you have a netflix queue? If you don't you should get one. Anyway I have one (as does your Grandma Ilene, so maybe you should look into one) and it's filled with a gazillion flicks I needed to see like yesterday. I'm pretty good with adding new films because they get advertised on the tele (hmm, first "queue" now "tele" --- the Brits are coming for their language ... I say over the center of my discolored dead body). But films from the past decade which I wanted to see when they first debuted but simply missed and now forgotten about ... well those films are a bit harder to queue up. However they do come on cable tv. Now I should really rent these films from netflix because tv shreds 10+ minutes to squeeze in enough commercials. But then I may simply forget again and let's face it, I can't say no to a good film. Which brings me to this lovely gem:


Rating: ****1/2 out of 5

This gothic horror mystery simply has it all: a thrillingly entertaining plot, wonderfully creepy sets, superb acting, and a sprinkle of comedy for good measure. New York Constable Ichabod Crane (Depp), who places science before spirits, is called to Sleepy Hollow to investigate murders at the hand of what the townsfolk describe as a Headless Horseman. The direction is outstanding. Tim Burton has a lot going on simply from the plot; he adds an interesting dreamscape backstory and juggles everything splendidly onscreen. The visuals are fantastic, from the mesmerizing still that introduces the titles to the eerie, foggy Hollow that is a character in its own right. The film is more than simply plot as screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker pens several clever, charming, and comedic lines. And the two leads seem to have a majestic time uttering them. Johnny Depp’s idiosyncratic Crane is simply a joy to watch. This one should not be missed.