Pop Culture Junkette

Addicted to pop culture.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Yes, I'm Still Watching Jericho

Bailey and I were talking yesterday about all the great TV shows out there, leading up to the embarassing admission that, yeah, even though it really doesn't fit in that category, we're both still watching every episode of Jericho. I've finally abandoned all hope that the show will ever be good, and yet, I still tune in every damn week. We all need to rage at stupidity a little in our life, and Jericho gives me that opportunity every week. And I love it for that. This last "cliffhanger" episode before the holiday hiatus (the show won't be back with a new episode until Feb. 21) was AWESOMELY bad.

AWESOMELY bad plot point #1: The stupidity of using that massive generator to power the bar's jukebox. Maybe I'm an idiot, but don't they need fuel to power that generator? This magic generator isn't solar or wind powered or anything right? And wasn't it just a few weeks ago that the townies were scraping together enough gas to keep the HOSPITAL's generator running for just a few more hours? What happened to the scarcity issue (not to mention the hospital's generator)? Did Jericho suddenly hit an oil well leading kindergarten teacher Heather to remember some cute refinery method using fertilizer and tap water that she saw on Bill Nye so they have an endless supply of gas? I know one of the pallets in the mysterious supply drop included fuel, but . . . how long could that possibly last? Especially when everyone in town is driving endlessly around in gas guzzling old pick-up trucks, apparently for the sheer joy of movement.

ABPP #2: Gracie's dead y'all. WOOOHOO! And the town is totally ready to lynch the man who allegedly committed the "first murder in Jericho in 30 years" because the following things don't count as murders in Kansas: (1) the death of the sheriff and his deputy(ies?) at the hands of escaped prisoners (it did happen outside of town limits), (2) the shooting of said escaped prisoners, (also outside of town limits, plus they were asking for it), (3) that guy in the mine who Mayor Grey (he of the quoted comment) just conveniently prevented from getting medical attention because he was bumming the other mine dwellers out (exigent circumstances dude, totally ok.) Of course, the man they're ready to string up didn't actually kill anyone, and has in fact saved the townfolks collective ass more than once. But he's BAD so he must die. If Jonah is actually off this show I'm going to be mightily disappointed. He's one of the few characters I actually root for.

To keep this from becoming as long as one of Red's posts on TAR, ABPP 3-5: Dale turning into a teenage vigilante to avenge the odious Gracie; Bonnie punishing her brother for hooking up with the IRS agent who's no longer an IRS agent (because the IRS no longer exists and therefore can no longer take the farm that Bonnie has apparently been running "on [her] own") (DUH Bonnie)) by herself hooking up with hoodlum Sean; and Emily the bland almost hooking up with Jake of the serial-killer blank affect only to be interrupted by the arrival in town of her fiancee as part of what appears to be a group of zombies.

Actually awesome plot developments: (1) Mayor Green is no longer mayor. Can't wait to see him in the role of opposition instead of town patriarch. If they bump off Grey or he ends up resigning and giving Papa Green is job back I'm going to be pissed. I want the fantastic Gerald McRaney as Papa Green grumping from the sidelines. (2) I kind of like Steamy. I've loved the actress who plays Mimi ever since she was on Another World back in the early 90s. I'm rooting for those two crazy kids.

In writing this out I've come to the embarassing conclusion that I'm going to miss this show while it's on hiatus. I've grown to love these idiots.


With Friends Like These . . .

Michael Richards has found a new ally--Mel Gibson. Perhaps Iranian President Ahmadinejad will also voice support. (Hat tip, the Plank.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Good and the Surprisingly Not So Good

Last Friday night, with Isaac's parents watching Isaac, Jr., Mrs. Bartender and I did a double feature. First, we saw For Your Consideration. Now, I loved the prior entries in the Christopher Guest oeuvre (as well as Spinal Tap), but was sadly disappointed with this film. I think part of the problem is that as opposed to dog shows, drama in middle America, or folk groups, the American film industry has been satirized to death. While the movie certainly has some funny moments, it just does not grab you. Moreover, perhaps because of the breadth of the cast and the short length of the movie, you never really get to know any of the characters. It felt like it ended abruptly (after less than 90 minutes), and the "resolution" left strands hanging. Worst of all, it wasn't that funny. Too bad, but I am still looking forward to Baron Haden-Guest's next film.

Following this, we went to see Casino Royale. I have been a huge James Bond fan since I was a little kid ever since I saw Moonraker (which is great when one is 8). Sure, I recognized that many of the films were completely inane and completely departed from the Fleming character. And, like most Bond fans, every Bond has tried, but been unable, to live up to the standard set by Connery and the 60s films which were far and away the best in the series. All that being said, I was very pleased with this film. Sure it ran too long and something is wrong with Bond playing no limit Texas hold 'em, but Daniel Craig was fantastic, it had the beautiful women, the beautiful locales (although the scenes in Montenegro were actually filmed in Carlsbad, Czech Republic), and the semi-coherent plot without the over the top gadgetry or bad jokes. It also, as intended, brought Bond back to his roots with the movie following the plot of the novel reasonably closely. It was a good, tight action flick, and I am glad that "James Bond Will Return." 007 is back.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

What American Accent Do You Have?

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
The Northeast
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Well, there might be some truth to this, seeing as how I was born in Wisconsin and both of my parents are from Minnesota. But I don't call soda "pop."


Most Boring Movie I've (Almost) Seen This Year

And the award, goes to . . . Bobby! I flew to Chicago last week to spend Thanksgiving with my awesome friend . . . let's just call her Maddie Hayes. Anyway, upon sluggishly rousing ourselves from our food coma on Friday, Maddie and I thought it would be a good idea to remove ourselves from the temptation of leftovers for a few hours at the movies. Given that between the two of us we'd seen just about everything currently in theaters, we headed out to see Bobby. We fully intended to see the whole thing when we left the house, but after staring dumbstruck at the inanity on screen for the first hour we turned to each other, decided life was too precious, and walked out into the sunshine blinking like baby moles and wondering how the hell this movie ever got made. Other than a feeling of stultifying boredom, here's what I recall about the film: Apparently Lindsay Lohan's character thought that if she could save one boy from being hurt in Vietnam, the sham marriage she was about to enter into would be worth it. The reason I remember this plot point? Emilio Estevez saw fit to make sure that she stated it very clearly at least twice, in each of the three scenes we saw her in before making our escape. It was . . . painful.



Tonight's the night we find out who the Hearst College rapist is. In his column today, Alan Sepinwall has the following clue:

(In particular, anyone who has easy access to previous episodes may want to
rewatch the second one before they get to the rape finale, and that's all I have
to say about that.)

Hmm. Here's the TWOP recap of that episode for those who want to speculate further.


Monday, November 27, 2006

The Amazing Race All Stars: the dream becomes reality

Six months ago I posted about my dream for The Amazing Race All Stars, and lamented the fact that host Phil Keoghan had stated he didn't think it would happen for a long time. I guess Phil is just a big kidder, because it turns out that filming for an all star version of the Race has already begun!

And what's better are that the few teams mentioned as participating were already on my list of ideal teams to watch--specifically, Rob and Amber (arguably the best team to ever race) and Colin and Christie (incredibly strong competitors, although incredibly annoying) are confirmed as competitors.

Also great news: Jonathan and Victoria (The Most Annoying Team Ever) will not be joining us. Chip and Kim, season five winners, weren't invited back either, and although I liked them as a team, they didn't make my top 12 list (they weren't even among my three runner-ups), so I'm not crying. BJ and Tyler, the winners from last season, also didn't make the cut, but that doesn't bother me. They did make my top 12 list, but that was based on the fact that they finished in either first or second place (with the Frats, Eric and Jeremy, finishing right next to them) in basically every leg of the race. I'm definitely not sad that they weren't included, although I will be sad if Eric and Jeremy didn't make the cut.

One disappointing fact: David and Mary, aka Team Kentucky (the coal miner and his wife) from the current season, will be competing. I find it unfortunate, because they were a very weak team. I guess they were chosen because they were considered fan favorites, although I thought Mary was kind of annoying, and assumed others did as well. And if they think they are going to be able to make an alliance on All Stars with teams who will wait around for them to finish every task, as they did this season with the hapless Cho Brothers, I would recommend think again.

I hope that CBS releases some real information on who the All Star competitors are. For those too lazy to read my original post on the subject, my choices were:
1. Rob and Amber (season 7)
2. Eric and Jeremy (season 9)
3. Colin and Christie (season 5)
4. Team Guido (Bill and Joe) (season 1)
5. Kevin and Drew (the original frats) (season 1)
6. Emily and Nancy (season 1)
7. Lena and Kristy (The Mormon Sisters) (season 6)
8. Flo and Zach (season 3)
9. BJ and Tyler (season 9)
10. Rob and Brennan (season 1)
11. Danny and Oswald (Team Cha Cha Cha) (season 2)
12. Blake and Paige (season 2)

The Bowling Moms (Karen and Linda) (season 5)
Jill and John-Vito (season 3)
Tara and Will (season 2)

ETA: It gets better!!!!! According to this article, Joe and Bill (Team Guido!) will be competing, as will Jon-Vito and Jill. Not on my list, but competing, are Charla and Mirna (the little person and her pushy cousin--I was close to putting them on my wishlist, so I'm happy about this) and season 7 winners Uchenna and Joyce (I think they were the weakest team to ever win the Race, and they lacked charisma, so I'm not thrilled about their inclusion, but I'm not surprised, since Uchenna is now listed as a producer of the Race). I'm really hoping that they include season 1's Kevin and Drew--Team Guido definitely needs a foil. And it looks like Rob and Brennan (season 1 winners) won't be included, which makes me even more hopeful that Kevin and Drew will be. Rob and Brennan made my list, but only because I thought there would be some sense of loyalty in including the first winners of the Race. However, much like Chip and Kim and Uchenna and Joyce, they lacked charisma and I can definitely do without them.

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Break up Shocker!

Pam Anderson and Kid Rock are calling it quits already? I actually am pretty surprised by this. I was sure they'd last at least a year.

Sexism and racism on The Amazing Race

Just some quick thoughts on the Race, after watching last night's episode (spoilers ahead).

Every team has professed some level of dislike for the Beauty Queens. The Addicts don't seem to have as much animosity toward them as Rob and Kimberly and (Kar)lyn, but it is clear no one likes them. And the hatred really seems out of proportion with anything the Queens have done. Let's think about their transgressions up until this point.

Sure, they haven't aligned themselves with any other team. But until recently, neither had the Addicts or Rob and Kimberly. They run their own race and are super-competitive. But so what? It's a race: they should be really competitive. And even if not all teams chose to play that way (see The Cho Bros.), surely one can't be annoyed when a team decides they really want to win the race, right? Have they sabotaged any other teams? No. Have they lied to anyone? Not that I can remember? Have they broken any Race rules? Nope. In fact, I can't think of anything they have done while running the Race that is even questionable. So what gives?

I chalk a lot of it up to sexism. The Beauty Queens know they are a really strong team, and they don't make a secret of it. They are very confident. They are totally unapologetic about wanting to win not only the whole Race, but every leg that they can. If they were a male team, I think that no one would bat an eyelash. In fact, they would be applauded for being good racers. But coming from two blonde beauty pageant winners, the other teams decide their confidence is cockiness and their competitiveness is in some way nasty, and they are therefore vilified.

Of course, I'm rooting for them to win the whole thing. It's great seeing a team of two women excel in the Race. Sure, (Kar)lyn have also gotten this far and are also women, but they have run a very different race than the Beauty Queens. The Queens haven't ridden on anyone's coattails. They haven't expected other teams to help them. They haven't exhibited (Kar)lyn's passive-aggressive behavior (i.e., complaining when the Cho Bros. stopped to ask for directions sixteen times, but not attempting to get their own directions). And they aren't hypocrites. For the first half of last night's episode, (Kar)lyn went on about how they wanted to yeild the Beauty Queens. But when the Queens beat them to the mat and yeiled (Kar)lyn, (Kar)lyn complained about how it showed "poor character" when the Queens yeilded them. Oh, and unlike (Kar)lyn, the Beauty Queens don't think a higher power wants them in the race. So I'm definitely not cheering for (Kar)lyn.

I admit that I wouldn't be sad if the Addicts won the whole thing either, but it would be great to see two women win. However, the Beauty Queens do have one habit I really don't like. They call (Kar)lyn "The Sistahs." Whenever they do, I cringe. It just sounds very racist. And I wonder what they are thinking when they do this. They know they are going to be shown on television. And they must know how racist they sound. And yet they continue to do this. Bailey thinks that it is possible (Kar)lyn has called themselves "the sistahs" off-camera, and the Beauty Queens are merely copying them. I hope Bailey is right, because I do lose a little love for the Beauty Queens every time they use the term.

Finally, some props to (Kar)lyn for running a really strong leg. They were in first at one point, which was the first time in the entire race they had been the first team to get a clue. In fact, they have been bottom-dwellers for so long that Rob and Kimberly assumed that the Beauty Queens had been the first team to get to the clue, never even considering the possibility that (Kar)lyn could have done so. And they also managed to get past being yeilded and end up in second place. Good for them. But I hope they go home next week.

Two episodes left. I'm very excited! I'm hoping that the Beauty Queens manage to overcome the potential 30 minute penalty, and that James doesn't continue being the weaker Addict (he was the only competitor who had trouble getting a flag in yesterday's challenge, and just always seems to struggle, much to Tyler's chagrin).

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Separated at birth?

Tori Spelling and Beth from The Real World (and countless Real World/Road Rules Challenges).


Britney's New BFF

The Junkettes are uniformly (I think, I haven't taken a formal poll or anything, but I see Outlook voting buttons in our future) rooting for Britney Spears in the post K-Fed era. But replacing K-Fed with Paris Hilton seems, generously, like a bit of a . . . lateral move.

(As a side note, what is up with each of the girls wearing tights with one leg? I'm just starting to get used to leggings, and then they throw this at me?! And I'm not even going to mention the whole red and green Christmas thing they've got going on. Ok, I am. WHAT THE HELL? If ever a photo called for a dual fugging, this is it.)

ETA: The more I look at Britney in this photo, the more I want to poke out my own eyeballs. It's like a "How to Kill Goodwill in 4 Easy Steps" bonanza. Hankerchief bubble hem? Check. Oddly shaped post-pregnancy boobs on full display? Check. Ragged ugly extensions deforming what was a perfectly fine bob? Check. HOLDING HANDS WITH PARIS HILTON?! Check. And also, sigh. To add an air of conspiracy theory craziness to what could just be an ugly photo, photos on PopSugar indicate there may be some digital hanky panky on People's website with respect to the weird one legged stocking effect.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The New Nicole Richie

If this picture is any indication of what's to come, I love the new Nicole. I was anxious to see a picture of her first public appearance without the influence of her former stylist Rachel Zoe. Zoe is rumored to be partly to blame for Nicole's eating disorder and Ritchie apparently fired Zoe in favor of more "positive influences" in her life.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The small bang theory

I'm surprised that I haven't seen any press on this (particularly considering how well-covered her wedding was), but what was up with Katie Holmes' hair on her wedding day? (Good friend and Celeb Fantasy League Season One Regular Season Winner Carol Seaver alerted me to this disturbing development.)

If you look at her wedding photo, as well as the photo earlier that same week taken of Katie with Tom and Suri, she has short wisps of hair right at the front of her hairline. They almost look like bangs. (Although Holt thinks that she is just growing new hairs.)

Which begs the question: why wouldn't you do something about this before your wedding? If they are in fact bangs, why would you cut them so short so close to your wedding day? If they are just new hairs, why wouldn't you hide them? It isn't like Katie didn't have access to the best hairstylists. After all, she and Tom provided hair and make-up teams for their guests. Surely someone could have done something with this coif?

Because really, the hairs aren't flattering. And I wouldn't want to have tiny pieces of hair on the crown of my head in my wedding photos. Now, perhaps Katie didn't care, thinking that she'll just throw the photos away in two years when they divorce, but they are still being plastered all over the press right now. Wouldn't you want to look your best?

And for those who think this is just the way Katie's hair always is, I have included two older photos of Katie without these strange bang-like hairs.


True? Or does the Simpson PR Machine strike again?

So I guess Paris Hilton isn't the only celebrity who dates football players. According to this article (provided to me by our good friend Isaac), Jessica Simpson is dating Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

I have to wonder whether this "leak" is in any way connected to Nick Lachey's recent public declaration that he is in love again (which, by the way, I find funny coming from someone who has claimed his last relationship was too public).

At least he's a lot cuter than John Mayer (Romo is on the right, Terrell Owens, who could be the subject of countless posts all on his own, is on the left).

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Inanity of College Football

Like many Americans, I spent Saturday afternoon watching Michigan-Ohio State. Even though I did not attend Michigan, I have rooted for the school's sports teams ever since I was little. (Several relatives are alums.) Needless to say, I was disappointed with the outcome and am still bitter about the (at best) marginal roughing call that was made on Troy Smith late in the 4th Quarter. Had that call not been made, the result may well have been different, and it was--as indicated--a very marginal call in a sport (in both the college and pros) in which refs are too frequently calling roughing. Football is a contact sport, and I could opine more on this, but that is a subject for another day. Today I will join the list of bemoaning the stupidity of determining a national champion in this sport.

1. Division I-A college football is the only NCAA sport without a playoff structure. Not only does every other college sport have it, but so too do Division I-AA, Division II, and Division III football. The academic argument (that college football players can't keep playing games in December) is complete hogwash.

2. That The Ohio State University and possibly Michigan have 50 days off before the BCS Championship is itself ridiculous. Imagine taking 7 weeks off between the Final 4 and the NCAA basketball championship game. Or even worse, imagine 7 weeks off between the end of the conference tourneys in which a computer selected the 2 teams that would meet in the finals.

3. Here's my proposal, which I have made for years. An 8 team playoff with the winners of the following conferences automatically qualifying (in parentheses who would be in this year and their BCS ranking):

1. Big 10 (Ohio State, 1)
2. SEC (winner of Florida, 4 vs. Arkansas, 6)
3. Pac 10 (USC, 3)
4. Big 12 (winner of Texas, 13, or Oklahoma, 15 vs. Nebraska, 22)
5. ACC (winner of BC, 21, Maryland, NR, or Wake Forest, 18 vs. Georgia Tech, 16)
6. Big East (West Virginia, 7, Rutgers, 14, or Louisville, 9)

Of the top 10 teams, the only ones not in this list are Notre Dame #5 and an independent, Wisconsin #8 who finished third in the Big 10, and LSU #10, who will finish behind Arkansas in the SEC. And this system has 2 at large bids to ensure that worthy teams are not overlooked. Of course, arguments would ensure, but I much prefer it being about which team is actually #8 than which one is #2!

Yet the all powerful bowls will continue to fight tooth and nail against anything that will actually produce a real national champion. The minor bowl games are already irrelevant to the nation at large, and I do not see how a real playoff will diminish interest in them. And nothing would stop using the current major bowls (Rose, Fiesta, Orange, and Sugar) as sites for some or all of the 7 games that would be required under the proposed system. Heck, under the current +1 scenario, the championship game is not even a bowl game although it is played in the same location as one of the major bowls.

Each time college football produces a faux national champion, I hope reform will occur, but even with the changes that have been made over the past decade, the system still stinks.


Poor OJ

First his wife is tragically murdered, now his book and TV show have been killed as well. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy!

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First as comedy, then as farce

The past 2 episodes of Studio 60 have focused on the small town of Pahrump, Nevada. (Like Red Fraggle and others, I have my issues with the show--it's hard to caremuch about these characters and the comedy just ain't that funny, but I have, so far, stuck with it.) The episodes argued that just because the town may be a small down doesn't mean its citizens deserve to be mocked and thought of as idiots. (As a judge, John Goodman showed just how savvy such a small town resident can be.)

Well, the government of Pahrump has attempted to prove Sorkin wrong, seeking to demonstrate that they are in fact bumpknis. According to CNN, the town council has passed an ordinance prohibiting the flying of foreign flags unless they are flown below the American flag. Not just dump but blatantly unconstitutional. Congratulations, Pahrump, on (1) showing your stupidity and (2) wasting your money on defending a law that is sure to be struck down. (To be fair, the ordinance only passed 3-2.) Memo to Aaron Sorkin: pick a better small town next time before it does everything in its power to prove you wrong.

Update: For an excellent discussion of the patent unconsitutionality of this law, Eugene Volokh, as always, is of great assistance.

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Very sad

Michael Richards, aka Kramer, went nuts on stage the other night. In response to some hecklers, he started dropping the n-word left and right (and made a few other awful racist comments). Here is the video of this sad episode. I imagine he will be checking into rehab in the next few days, and we will certainly be getting some form of apology shortly.

His career hasn't done much since Seinfeld, and while he should he have nothing to worry about financially the rest of his life, this may have ended any chance he had of getting some other big role in the future. At least we'll always have Kramer to laugh with.

Update: Michael Richards appeared on Letterman last night to apologize for his tirade. You can view it here. He is very disturbed by what occurred in this somewhat rambling albeit seemingly sincere apology. I hope he gets the help he needs.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Please don't compare me to Paris Hilton

Us Weekly has posted excerpts of a recent interview Tina Fey gave to Howard Stern on its blog, and it's really, really great. I have actually never been a big fan of Tina, but after this I definitely love her. Instead of playing the whole celebrity nice game, she decided to totally rip on Paris Hilton. Yay!

My favorite part (really, go to Us Weekly and read the entire thing)? When asked what Hilton was like, Fey calls her a "piece of shit," who takes herself really seriously, and then says: "She's unbelievably dumb and so proud of how dumb she is. She looks like a tranny up close."

Wow. There's not much more to say after that. Except that Tna described Paris' hair as "nasty wads of Barbie hair. . . . Her hair is like a Fraggle."

Now, Tina, there is no need to get carried away. What have the Fraggles ever done to you? Fine, compare her to Barbie, no one really likes her. I can only imagine you have not met any Fraggles, Ms. Fey, because there is no denying the beauty of our hair. I mean, look at the posted photos. One of these things is not like the others, right? And anyway, who else can get two ponytails to stand up on end like that?

Since the rest of the interview was so incredibly awesome, I am going to overlook this insult. But no more ripping on the Fraggles!


The Guest List

The wedding of the century is tomorrow, and look who is not invited: Oprah and Isaac, Your Bartender. Don't know which is a bigger oversight. However, not only is Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder in attendence (along with J-LO, Will Smith, and a cast of thousands), but so too is Brooke Shields. It seems that she and Katie bonded over postpartum. It just keeps getting weirder.

Bond is Back

And I know what I'll be seeing this weekend.


It's even getting good reviews!

When did I turn into an OC blogger?

Seriously, it's Friday morning and of all the shows I watched last night, The O.C. is the one I most want to chat about. Since either my friends don't watch the show or they do, in theory, watch the show but haven't watched a single episode this season because they don't love me enough to fit it into their oh so busy schedule (ahem, RED), instead of chatting, I must blog.

I adore the "new" Summer. I honestly think she's the only character on television I've seen transition from high school to college in a realistic, believable, and very funny way. I love that she's realized she can care both about celebrity gossip and the environment, and can shave her legs and fight the administration for solar-powered dorms in the same day. And Seth trying to catch up to the new Summer, to try to care about whatever it is she cares about, whether it's the teen soap The Valley or the value of solar energy, is completely adorable and, dare I say it, mature. I love that this show has put a realistic tension in their relationship, caused by distance and growth and not some trite love triangle. I also found fantastic the 5 stages of grief montage, with anger showing up more than once. It was a funny way to move Summer past the crippling grief she showed in the Thanksgiving episode without belittling it.

And, um, Taylor Townsend ROCKS and I want her and Ryan to fall in LURVE and live talkatively ever after. She's vulnerable enough that Ryan can do his damsel in distress thing, without being actually weak in a way that would hobble him (cf Teresa and Marissa). She's funny and smart and I'd love seeing Ryan trying to keep up with her.


UCLA Police Taser Student in Powell

Wow. This is disturbing.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Like "father," like daughter

I was reluctant to post this photo, because the whole Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes "romance" is just so ridiculous, and of course it is at a fever pitch now that they are getting married. But Holt had such a great observation (but didn't post it!) that I had to share with everyone: how disturbing is it that Suri and Tom have the same hairstyle?

As for the wedding, I must admit I'm excited to see Katie's dress. She's young, beautiful, 5'9 and skinny. I have high expectations.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Cultural Learning from Kazakhstan

SPOILER ALERTS!!!! So it took a week after the opening, but Mrs. Bartender and I finally saw Borat. Let's just start with this--it is damn funny. It is a simple road film that doesn't strive for anything grand, but within its simplicity it presents a serious of hysterical (albeit at times repetitive) vignettes. And in the middle is one of the funniest (albeit most disgusting) things I have ever seen in a movie. Let's just say if you ever wanted to see two hairy men wrestle while naked, one of whom is very fat, this is the movie for you. And if you don't want to see such a scene, you will laugh so hard, you will cry when you do.

I briefly want to address some of the constituencies offended by this movie. First, the Kazakhs. Yes, the movie makes fun of "Kazakhstan," but anyone who knows anything about this nation knows that Borat's home country is not real. (Kazakhstan is; it is Borat's that isn't.) Virtually anyone who sees this movie recognizes that this is nothing but a joke and does not take Borat seriously with this depiction. I am glad to see that the Kazakh government seems finally to have woken up on this subject.

Second, the Americans. It is frequently pointed out that the real joke of the movie is on the Americans who inadvertently star in it and are shown to be ignorant, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, or all of the above. But this too is unfair. With a couple of glorious and frightening exceptions--the owner of the gun store, the fraternity boys, and the guy running the rodeo--most of the Americans do not come off as narrow minded or intolerant. Sure a lot of New Yorkers are offended when a stranger comes up to kiss them on the subway and then releases a live chicken or are disgusted when he drops a deuce in front of a Trump hotel, but is this shocking? Or wrong? And many merely try to help Borat and go out of their way to be kind--from the Southerners at the dinner party to the fundamentalists. It is easy to laugh at some of their peculiarities, but they actually try to help this clueless foreigner. This is middle America at its best.

Now as you may be aware, the frat boys are now suing Borat. This raises a few questions, the biggest for me is how staged many of the episodes are. If their allegations are true, the production team got them drunk and had them pick up a hitchhiking Borat. There is no doubt that some scenes are completely staged (the bagging of Pamela Anderson) while others are pushed along and edited for maximum comedic affect. As for a lawsuit, I would imagine the frat boys have little ground to stand on. Even if drunk (which they undoubtedly were), they come off as jackasses, and nothing Borat or alcohol did made them jackasses. See Gibson, Mel.

So who is the joke really on? All of us and none of us? Borat himself? I'm not really sure, but I sure enjoyed the movie.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Best Cookie (or Biscuit) EVER

I was at Cost Plus this weekend hoping to stock up on my not-so-secret vice, Cadbury's Dairy Milk (imported from England because the US version is . . . not the same). Naturally, all they had was the kind with roasted almonds, which also is . . . not the same. They haven't had it the last two times I checked. Anyone know what's going on with the sad lack of imported British candy? Anyway . . . so I turned to the cookie aisle hoping that maybe they'd have the Cadbury Digestives that, while not the pure chocolate goodness of a nice bar of Dairy Milk, are pretty damn good. No dice.

I was about to leave empty handed when I saw a pretty row of milk chocolate HobNobs. I'd never tried them before, but I'm pretty sure they've been featured as the comfort food of choice in some British chick lit novel or other. And I must say they are FANTASTIC. It's like a crunchy oatmeal cookie covered in milk chocolate. They're heaven. They're addictive. They're making me very sad I'm about to move somewhere where imported British goods will be even harder to come by. Thank heavens for the internet.

So what did you do on Friday night?

Per usual, I have been having problems with my DVR. So I made an appointment with Comcast to fix it for this past Saturday, appointment window from 9 a.m. until noon.

I don't know how this happened, but somehow my brain didn't make the connection that Comcast fixing the DVR most likely equal Comcast replacing the DVR which means that every show I had saved on the DVR would be lost.

Which is kind of a problem when your DVR looks like this:
Lost: 4 episodes
New Adventures of Old Christine: 2 episodes
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: 2 episodes
The Amazing Race: 1 episodes
Ugly Betty: 4 episodes
Desperate Houswives: 1 episode
Veronia Mars: 1/4 of an episode (thanks, crappy DVR for not taping the rest)
Grey's Anatomy: 2 episodes
Dancing with the Stars: 2 episodes
The O.C.: 3 episodes
Las Vegas: 1 episode
Boston Legal: 2 episodes (only Gobo watches this)
The Wire: 3 episodes (again, just for Gobo)

And that is just the new stuff. Also on the DVR were episodes of Murder, She Wrote, King of the Hill, The Simpsons, a potentially soft-core porn movie with Alyssa Milano called Embrace of the Vampire (that's just for Gobo, who harbors a crush on her), and two episodes of Celebrity Duets featuring Belinda Carlisle I was hoping to save forever.

Unfortunately, I realized I was going to have to watch all of these shows at 10 p.m. on Friday. And Comcast was coming at 9 the next morning. So I had 11 hours in which to watch 21 hours and fifteen minutes of television. And I had just spent twelve hours at the office.

But I was on a mission. Before I left the home Gobo expressed a concern that we wouldn't have enough snacks to get us through a night of television-watching. But really, there was no time for snacks. There was no time for bathroom breaks. If we were going to get this done, we had to watch everything we could, straight through, without interruption. But then, crisis! I hear someone say my name as I rush down K Street, trying to get home as quickly as possible. Who is it? A friend from high school, who I haven't seen or spoken to in 11 years. I spent 30 minutes talking to him, and all I could think was "oh great, there goes another show I won't have time to watch." It was like losing your clue or getting a bad driver on The Amazing Race. A show which, if the conversation with high school friend went much longer, I wasn't going to be able to view. Luckily, I eventually got home.

The first order of business was to prioritize. Obviously, anything old (like Belinda on Duets and Murder, She Wrote) would have to be sacrificed. It's sad, but everyone has to make tough choices in life. I then happily realized that Desperate Housewives, The O.C. and Dancing with the Stars were available on my bedroom DVR, so I didn't have to watch those. I was down to 15 hours and 15 minutes of television. The clear first priority was Lost. Gobo and I sat down and watched it until 1 a.m. It's too bad we couldn't discuss the episodes at all, as we had to soldier on. We followed Lost up with an episode of Studio 60, and then an episode of Old Christine. Gobo fell asleep four times during Old Christine, so he went off to bed.

I, on the other hand, stayed strong (and I may have gotten crabby with Gobo for abandoning me, but I didn't really have time to stay upset). There was more work to be done. I got through The Amazing Race and then followed it up with an episode of Ugly Betty. By this time, it was 4:40 a.m. And I'm sad to admit it, but I couldn't take it anymore. I figured that I could live without ever watching the second episode of Studio 60, since I really don't enjoy the show, that I could watch Old Christine in the morning as I waited for Comcast (they were sure to be late, right?), that I would have to live without two episodes of Grey's Anatomy, which I haven't been enjoying much anyway, and that the DVR had only given me 15 minutes of Veronica Mars, so I could just read the recap on Television Without Pity.

So that's how it was to go down. The cable guy got to our place promptly at 9:10 a.m. (of course this would be the one time that Comcast has ever arrived at the beginning of my window...or hell, in the window at all), meaning I didn't wake up in time for Old Christine. But then the cable guy looked at our DVR box. And he realized he hadn't brought the proper replacement box. So he left. And he left us with our box, to return Tuesday (tomorrow) with a new box.

Meaning we had the rest of the weekend to watch all of the shows we had left.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Happy "Birthday," Gerald Ford

Today, Gerald Ford turned 93 years and 120 days old. So what, you say? Well, Ronald Reagan died at that identical age, meaning that as of today Ford and Reagan are tied as the oldest individuals ever to have served as President. (If you are a stickler, you might claim that Ford won't tie Reagan until tomorrow because Reagan had lived through one additional leap year, but we all hate sticklers.) I'm sure Ford will celebrate moving into the #1 position by himself tomorrow by watching the Michigan football game. And that's today's piece of random presidential trivia.

The O.C. Made Me Cry

And I'm not ashamed. Well, only a little. I can't believe how invested I am in this show again after a year of myeh, and then a year of not watching at all. As I said in my last post, Marissa is a far more appealing character dead than she ever was alive, and watching Summer, Ryan, and Julie dealing with the fallout from her death (even watching stupid Volchok who I only know from the season finale) brought me to tears again and again last night. I really think this season is good.

Apparently I'm one of the few, because the O.C. is getting horrible ratings, about half the audience of Friday Night Lights, which is constantly mentioned as one of the shows that is threatened with cancellation, and this article in the Washington Post actually pleads for the show to be put out of its misery. I have to wonder if the writer ever liked the show, or even likes TV. At least one real critic is doesn't think it sucks.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

What's wrong with the youth of America?

Monday night I attended a Death Cab for Cutie concert at Constitution Hall in DC. Constitution Hall is a great venue for a concert because it is small enough that everyone feels reasonably close to the stage, and its tier seating allows even the people in the back rows to get a good view of the stage. The venue also has orchestra seating on the floor. In my days as a younger Fraggle I have fond memories of standing near the front of the stage when my favorite bands were in concert. I would jump and scream and sing along with everyone else (I have also been known to surf a crowd or two, but I think that went out of fashion along with flannel shirts worn over waffle-knit henleys).

So I was surprised to notice that almost no one on the floor at the Death Cab concert looked excited. There was one guy with big hair who was enthusiastically pumping his fist in the air and there were two people near the back dancing along, but that was it. Everyone else just stood in place, nodding their heads slightly in time with the music.

What is wrong with these kids? Are they all so worried that they will look uncool that they won't move around during a concert? What happened to being moved by the music of your favorite band? I remember seriously considering doffing some of my clothes and throwing them at the stage during my first REM concert. And even though I am now well out of my teens, whenever I go to a concert of one of my favorite bands from my youth, I always have to make a lot of noise when my favorite songs are played. And I can never help singing along.

But not this crowd. I have to assume that Death Cab is for them what REM and Nirvana were for me back in the early 1990s. And it's not like Death Cab was playing obscure music--the large majority of their set list was from their most popular and recent albums, Transatlanticism and Plans. I will admit that the band is not the most dynamic I have ever seen in concert, but that shouldn't be much of an excuse.

In the end, it was all pretty sad. It's just depressing to see a large group of teens too self-conscious to get excited about a concert. While I will forever remember crowd-surfing to Hole, they will be left with memories of head bobbing with their hands sitting firmly at their sides.

A Full Moon Over San Francisco

Our late lamented blogger, Diane Chambers, has sent word that her husband believes this picture should be on the blog. I disagree. (For some reason, you need to click on the picture to view it.)

Bob Dylan Fans of the World, Rejoice

As Laura Holt posted last week, a disaster based upon the brilliant music of Bob Dylan opened on Broadway. Today order was restored to the world when it was announced the show is closing after 3 weeks. One less job opportunity for KFed or, as he is now lovingly called, FedEx.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

BREAKING NEWS: Tester and Rumsfeld

Tester has been declared the winner in MT by the AP (and NBC). Rumsfeld is stepping down.

Set Your TiVos

Prime Suspect: The Final Act will be airing on PBS on November 12 and 19 from 9-11.

Tune in to watch Jane Tennison solve her last case.


Virginia and Montana

Two great states that taste great together? Perhaps not, but the fate of the US Senate is in their hands.

First, Virginia. I don't see how Webb can lose. According to the official count, Webb is up just over 7,000 votes with 4 precincts outstanding. Virginia counts absentee ballots with the other votes, so all that is outstanding are the 4 precincts and provisional ballots, i.e., from those who showed up at the wrong polling place or weren't registered for some erroneous reason.

As for Montana, while Meagher County is still out, so too are (at least some) absentee votes. The Burns' people are claiming there are 22,000 absentee votes. If this is true, he could win as absentee votes tend to skew towards the GOP, and he would only need to win 55% of them to take the lead. If, however, there are a much smaller number of uncounted absentee votes, then Tester will win and the Democrats in Montana appear confident that he will.

Update: According to the Great Falls Tribune, there are also votes still being counted in Silver Bow County which is strong Tester country. If this is accurate, once these votes come in, I imagine Tester will be called the winner.

Further update: In case you were worried, plans to renovate three aging pools in Great Falls, MT, were approved by voters. Like you care about Tester-Burns.

And more: Tester has declared victory as his margin increased to over 3,000. Congratulations, Sen-elect Tester.

We should know much more by the end of the day.

Dear Meagher County, Montana

You only have 1,932 residents. How long can it possibly take for you to count your votes? The world is waiting!

Continuing the election theme . . .

Second to the actual results, the highlight of the NPR coverage of the election this morning was their subtle use of the West Wing theme. It cracked me up every time I heard it. And I heard it alot.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Virginia Election Returns

I'm currently obsessing over this web site, which reports the Virginia election results. It looks like most of the precincts that haven't yet reported are in Webb-friendly areas. Something tells me that I will look at the hopefulness of this post with bitterness in a few days.

Wednesday Morning Update: I would like to clarify that the original post was written while Allen was still in the lead. Go Webb!

Heath Shuler

He's coming back to town! He sounds way too conservative for my taste, but this interview is pretty funny and reveals him to be a good sport. Now he tells us about the not working on Sunday thing. Maybe he should have mentioned that to Norv.


Britney and KFed are splitsville.

So if you had November 7, 2006, in the office poll, congratulations!


The 21st Century Meets the 19th

As a good American, I voted this morning. As in the primary, I used a spanking new Diebold electronic voting machine. Assuming these things work and don't automatically cast all my votes to the GOP (big assumptions), I actually prefer electronic voting. It tells you whom you have voted for and counting should be much easier. (Yes, I know all of the problems.)

But this is my worry. As is commonly discussed, the older you are, the more likely you are to vote--this is a major reason why social security is the third rail of American politics. I was by far the youngest voter this morning (and I'm no spring chicken), and it appeared that there were a number of Titanic survivors casting ballots. God bless the elderly, but these are people who, for the most part, can't operate a microwave, let alone program a VCR (or TiVO), and you expect them to vote electronically? Let's just say, they were none too rapid. While voting took me under 2 minutes, it was taking them 10. Hopefully, the vote counting (and more importantly the results) will go well.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tomorrow's Big Event

No, not election day (although please vote), but that season 1 of 90210 and Melrose Place are being released on DVD. And conveniently, they are being sold together in a "the good, the bad, & the beautiful pack."

I will admit (because a la Jerry I would fail a lie detector if I claimed otherwise) that I watched these shows back in the day. They offer such memories of that time we call the 90s. When 90210 began, the episodes were like a one hour Facts of Life offering life lessons for Brandon and Brenda, but the show quickly turned into pure and very amusing schlock. And we watched and debated. Heck, when I was a senior at a fine university in New England, I spent one lunch arguing with a friend whether Dylan's father was still alive--I was right, he was! The kids then graduated from high school weeks before my college graduation, leading to chants of "Donna Martin Graduates" at my graduation. Heck, my college roommate had a 90210 calendar (for kitsch value); he admitted he was extra happy during Steve Sanders month.

As for MP, my favorite memory occurred when I was living in LA a decade ago. I was living for the summer in the Hollywood Hills and discovered that two doors from our house was the home of Dr. Peter Burns. A few weeks later, we discovered not only that MP was filming at that house, but they wanted to use our backyard, which overlooked downtown LA. So not only did I get to briefly meet Heather Locklear and Jack Wagner, but I witnessed Billy and Samantha on their big date (and got to hang out with the noted Thespian, Andrew Shue, and Brooke Langton). Oh what fond, fond memories. And long live Joe E. Tata.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Welcome Back to the O.C. Bitch!

Like a lot of folks, I gave up on The O.C. about two episodes into last season. The show just seemed silly and boring and I couldn't bring myself to care. Of course I tuned back in to last season's finale just to watch the loathed Marissa Cooper die. (Which was aweseome.) Despite the awesomeness of Marissa's death, I hadn't really had any plans to tune back in this fall until I read a couple of good reviews, and figured, what the hell. Not like I'm already watching too much TV or anything, right? So I tuned in last night and the first few very dark minutes really got me hooked.

I think leaving their fake high school has benefitted the three youngest actors tremendously. (I'm ignoring Kaitlin, because, well . . . isn't that tradition?) Benjamin MacKenzie in particular looks like an adult (because HE IS) and not having to suspend my disbelief as a face that looks as old as mine (because IT IS and I left highschool a LONG time ago) mopes around a classroom or prepares for prom makes it easier to invest emotionally in his character.

And there's a lot to invest in right now. Everyone left in The O.C. is in a really dark place 5 months after Marissa's death, and Josh Schwartz's ability to make that dark place both compelling and emotionally real, is impressive. But perhaps even more impressive is the show's ability to retain some light moments that don't feel false. The introduction of the dopey Che, Summer's environmental guru at Brown, adds a character that can safely make you laugh because he's several steps removed from the central tragedy of Marissa's death. And Marissa's death, in the absence of Mischa Barton, DOES feel like a tragedy. And that's good. So's this season so far, and damn it all to hell, but I'll be watching.