Sun, May 30
You can imagine my disgust—4:17 PM
Sat, May 29
Definitely Not—1:00 PM
Between work and personal entertainment, I've been reading a lot of blogs, comments, and user profiles lately. I think I can say with certainty that "definitely" is the most misspelled word on the Internet. Sure, there's a lot of "how r u?" and such, but – as much as I hate that – I have to regard that as more of an online colloquialism. The amount of times I see "definately" and "defenitely" just drives me up the wall.
Spell-check, people! Or something!
Fri, May 28
In all likelihood, I'll be headed to the movies this weekend, for the first time in quite a while. And, as always, I expect to be greeted by Manny Perry.
Those of you who don't go to the movies often enough may know Manny Perry but not realize that you know him. Those of you who go to movies farther from the feudal lordship of Jack Valenti here in Los Angeles may not have met Manny Perry at all. But I know him. Ah, I know him well.
Manny Perry is a stunt coordinator for the movies. He's worked on such high-action films as Daddy Day Care, Kangaroo Jack, and One Night at McCool's. He currently appears in one of the PSAs that the film industry is using to battle piracy. Valenti, head of the MPAA, is freakishly obsessed with the piracy issue because he thinks what happened to music is going to happen to movies. (I disagree. Maybe a few people will download movies, and you'll always have kids with camcorders in theatres, but it's a tiny minority. Downloading movies will never hit the epidemic level of downloading music, because of quality. The reason so many people download MP3s is that the experience of listening to an MP3 is almost exactly the same as listening to a CD. Watching a movie shot on video or watching a compressed movie file playing in a tiny window on your computer screen just isn't worth it.)
The campaign ("Movies. They're worth it.") was intended to illuminate the collaborative nature of filmmaking and show potential pirates that the economics of the industry mean that piracy hurts the "little guy" – the craftsman just trying to ply his trade. The basic point is that there are so many middle-class people working on films, and pirates are taking food out of their mouths. It's a little melodramatic as a premise anyway, but it's even less effective because out of all of these tradesmen who make up the film industry, we've met... two. Manny Perry has been on screens for the better part of a year, and before him there was only David Goldstein, a set painter. The easiest way to lose an audience is to wear out your message (just ask the Kerry campaign); now, when we see Manny Perry whining and moaning about how he risks his life every time he does a film like Katie Holmes's romantic comedy First Daughter, it's lost all meaning. We just roll our eyes. We're bored with him. Bring on somebody else.
For that matter, bring on the kid fresh out of film school who's shopping his indie script around town and getting turned down. He's the one really affected here. If Paramount's profits are hit so hard by piracy that they greenlight ten fewer movies this year, there will still be plenty of movies that need their sets painted and their stunts coordinated. But if Miramax or Focus are having to turn away young filmmakers looking for a start, those kids are going to have to find other careers. Careers at TGI Friday's or (God forbid) careers in marketing. The main problem with showing Manny Perry or David Goldstein is that they talk about how cool their jobs are and how many great movies they've worked on. I want to be them! They have it easy! They just remind us that they're lucky – if underpaid – bastards who get to hang out with celebrities and sleep late every day. When Goldstein says he thinks piracy won't affect producers as much as it will laborers, it makes me want to download movies just to put those producers in their place. At least the set painter has a skill. Those goon producers are just soaking up money for doing nothing at all!
Stupid Manny Perry. "People put ... lives on the line, and then someone comes along and pushes a couple of buttons and reaps all that benefit. It's just wrong." Oh, boo hoo. "All that benefit"? They reap the benefit of watching a movie. Big deal. You want a medal for risking your life on Love & Basketball? You can't lump yourself in with NYC Firefighters on this one, Manny. You get to play around with firecrackers and meet David Duchovny and J.Lo. Get over yourself.
Jack Valenti on Piracy, Munchkins [Defamer]
(You'll want to click all three Defamer "related" links at the end of the piece – really funny stuff.)
Thu, May 27
Low Culture Subtext—3:04 PM
Wed, May 26
More self-aggrandizement—5:10 PM
Me! A contributor to Jason Santa Maria's listing of Best Band Name(s) Ever. Need a name for your band? Here's the first place to stop!
- Feral Porpoise (submitted by Jameson)
"Acoustic TV"—4:23 PM
I really like the term "acoustic TV" to refer to boob-tuberie sans TiVo's gentle, soothing touch. I'd say I still watch far fewer commercials than I did before TiVo, but not zero. Occasionally, if I'm zipping past a commercial and it looks really interesting, I'll actually go back. What the hell? I've got the time – it's TiVo!
I'm not sure I buy the concept that advertisements "get through" because TiVoers see them (albeit in quick flashes) while fast-forwarding. I suppose I notice those ads, but I'd hardly call them effective. I guess the point is that I wouldn't have been able to back up and watch them if I'd been channel surfing. True, I never would've known about Trading $paces: 100 Grand if not for seeing a commercial in a flash of fast-forwarding. (It should be noted that the ability to click on an ad – or TV show – for more information and/or to order a product via your remote has been my idea for years.)
Also remaindered: Wonkette on LOGO, the new Viacom network catering to gays. (Or, as Defamer calls it, "Bravo 2: We've Stopped Pretending.") I'm a fan of "Logo execs do it down the gay channel."
And: Asshat Central. (NYT says "sorry" for reporting the war jingoistically instead of journalistically.)
I hate Canon—10:48 AM
That was fast, wasn't it? Well, awful customer service can really change your mind quickly.
What happened was, after I got my new Canon S500 digital camera home last night, I noticed that there were a couple of small anomalies appearing on every picture. The blemishes are especially pronounced with darker images, but if you look closely, they're always there. Grumble; I just bought the thing, and I was so delighted that FedEx's swift-footedness had brought it to me early. I was ready to play, not call Canon customer service.
You can't see the problems on this reduced version, but if you click, you can see details.
It's a high end camera, so at least I figured Canon would be interested in making me happy fast. It's a $500 camera – you don't want to be getting pink dots and grey smudges on every single image. (I got a super deal and paid a lot less, but it's still a $500 camera.) I figured they'd say, "Our mistake. This is a manufacturing defect. Find the nearest retailer that has this in stock and swap with them; they'll send us back the busted one and we'll work it all out." Oh, not so.
The ironic thing is that Canon's hold message (I listened to it for a long time) boasts about their high customer service rating.
Their first offer was that I could ship it back to the online store where I bought it and see if they'd replace it. It's not the retailer's fault; I don't want to involve them at all. Besides, they're in New York. I want this fixed today. Their next offer was for me to ship the camera to Canon, and they would repair or replace it. Would they reimburse me for shipping? No. At this point, I asked to talk to a supervisor. I buy a brand new camera with a pink spot on the CCD chip and it's up to me to pay to ship it back to Canon?
Sadly, nobody would give me what I wanted, which was carte blanche to walk into Best Buy and take a new S500, then let Canon take the faulty one back. (Interestingly, I could have done this if I had paid full price and bought it at Best Buy. Hmm.) It makes perfect sense to me – even if I'm lying, it's a straight-up exchange for the same product, so they're not out anything. And if the camera gets back to them and it's not defective, they know where I live, they can come get the money from me.
At least they're sending me a shipping label so I can send it back for free. I'm super-tempted to just buy a Nikon or something, but everybody says this one is the best for its size, and it's not the camera I have a problem with (with such a tiny chip, the occasional manufacturing defect is unavoidable), it's the goddamned customer service people.
So, for a few more days I get to take pink-splotched pictures; then I get to wait about ten days for them to process and return my replacement camera.
God, I hate Canon.
Tue, May 25
It's here!—4:05 PM
As I was finishing lunch (and Family Feud) around 2:30, I was just about to write something like, "It's such a shame that my new digital camera isn't here yet. I'm really pleased with how today's outfit turned out, and I'd like to share it with everybody." Then I checked FedEx.com and they said the camera already was here! Sure enough, checked with the receptionist downstairs. It arrived two whole days early. Whee!
Now you can see the outfit, and – for the out-of-town readers – get your first glance at the new glasses and the 2004 'do! After way too many hours of Queer Eye and (Sunday night) an episode of Faking It in which a dry cleaner learns to be a fashion designer, I was inspired to see the potential in combining things that I don't normally put together. (Partly I was inspired, partly I was bored and didn't want to think about picking out clothes.) The result is below. I like it; casual but snappy – and with the new specs, it never hurts to wear a splash of blue. (The coordination with the color scheme in my office was unintentional.)
With any luck, the new camera will mean a lot more photography on this site. And no, I don't plan on making fashion a regular topic. I just thought I looked cute today.
Mon, May 24
Movies like 13 Going On 30 remind me that what we think about when we say "the '80s" doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as stuff between 1981 and 1989. (Read more.)
Live TV (It so rarely happens)—1:59 PM
Not only did I watch some ESPN Classic live over the weekend, I also ended up on TLC live for a few hours, and caught a show of theirs that I never thought would interest me, Overhaulin'. Basically, they steal someone's car (in cahoots with a friend or relative of the victim) and – over seven days – completely overhaul it into a custom design. Very impressive, how much these metal workers can do by hand and have it look perfect. Anyway, they were advertising this week's Trading Spaces theme week, which is flashbacks to the first episodes of some of the series's stars.
So, I tuned in today during my lunch hour, and it's surprising how much the series has changed. Before perky Paige Davis, there was – of course – the more elegant and understated Alex McLeod. But, aside from McLeod's lower voice and softer approach, the whole show had a much more relaxed level of energy. I would never have remembered the music: soft piano solos instead of the current horn section bursts. The whole thing plays like a golf tournament. And, in the early days, the designers had yet to lose their minds entirely. The makeovers of the rooms evoke a feeling of "sprucing up" rather that the current "gutting and overhauling" approach. I guess this reflects the change in the show's focus as the reality boom went supernova. What started out as a venue for do-it-yourself tips that viewers could incorporate into their own redecorations (hence the $1,000 budget) is now just another shock-value surprise show amidst a stable of imitators like While You Were Out and Surprise By Design. I still like Trading Spaces, but I'd never do anything myself that I see on the show; in the old days, I did pick up a few ideas.
Fri, May 21
I love Chris McDonald. Happy Gilmore, The Iron Giant, Cracking Up, countless, countless others. He's the stand-up guy that stepped in at the last minute to help out with The Battle of Shaker Heights, the latest Project Greenlight film. He was funny in Dirty Work, too, but you probably didn't see that.
Anyway, enjoy reading Cintra Wilson's four-page article about McDonald. She loves him as much as I do, possibly more, but the piece amounts to the most scathing love letter I've ever read. (Plus, it kind of makes me want to see Spy Kids 2.)
Beautiful bastard [Fucking Salon, via Defamer]
(Defamer puts it best: "you have to sit through an ad to read the article, but it's worth it.")
Lest you think that McDonald is typecast in these blustering asshole roles, Defamer has accounts to the contrary.
Thu, May 20
The Friends finale, the encore of the Friends finale, and other things that make me want to cave in Jeff Zucker's skull with a particularly sharp rock. (Read more.)
Free shipping when you buy 5!—10:29 AM
For reasons best left unexplored, I happened to be browsing Amazon.com yesterday. It's been clear for some time that their business model involves expanding into new areas, selling more and more things. (Anyone remember when it was just books?) Still, this one shocked me a bit.
They're selling babies now? Clearly this is a violation of some sort of law. Why isn't the Bush administration all over this? Well, I guess it's one way to handle all the extras once nobody is allowed to have an abortion. Still...
As usual, only Jon Stewart is brave enough to cover the real stories. (Not this week, of course, he's too busy giving too-sarcastic and not-too-funny commencement speeches at his alma mater.)
Tue, May 18
In which, I have some interesting thoughts about the state of gas prices and a very attractive solution to the problem. (And no, it isn't putting Saddam back in power.) (Read more.)
AvgM: at it again—10:18 AM
Perhaps it should just be a standing order that you trundle on over to the 'Porter every Monday and check out what Arksie has to say in his (brilliantly named, I might add) Average Mulder column. But, in case you need extra incentive, it's excellent again this week.
Everyone knows I'd love it no matter what he wrote, but the reason it merits special mention is that it's one of those columns where he takes an issue of limited interest to people (like me) who don't follow sports closely (in this case, the debate over intentional walking), and brings it to life for anybody (like me) who is intelligent and knows how to read. Plus, plenty of good laughs along the way for those of you (like me) who have a sense of humor.
You're Kidding Right? ['Porter]
(Also, a few jokes at the expense of Barry Bonds, who I happen to loathe. He's at the center of the BALCO maelstrom, but he's the only one who isn't using steroids to improve his baseball performance – he just wants to bulk up so he'll be more efficient at beating his wife.)
Fri, May 14
Dude totally called it—5:55 AM
I may not agree with his parenting skills (or those of his high-priced nanny), but I must admit the guy predicted the Saddam situation pretty well.
Trying to eliminate Saddam…would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. We had been unable to find Noriega in Panama, which we knew intimately. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well…. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the U.N.'s mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land..
-George H.W. Bush (Bush I, Bush, Sr., or – as he's quizzically known in GOP circles – "Bush 41"), 1998
The Case of the Disappearing Article [Library Journal]
The Misunderestimated Man [Slate]
Both are interesting reads, even if you don't hate George W. Bush. (I'm slowly hating him less and less; I just find myself disappointed in his cynicism, and frustrated with a populace that allowed things to get this way.)
Tue, May 11
I'm Defaming!—11:00 AM
Hollywood PrivacyWatch [Defamer]
Just for fun, I submitted my McThursday encounter with Trishelle from Real World: Las Vegas to Defamer last week, and now I'm published! (Anonymously!)
There's a special honor in having spotted the least famous person in the whole bunch. I don't even know half the people on the list! (Janice Dickinson? Alexis Bledel? HBO Boxing?)
Even Everwood fans were disappointed—10:12 AM
By the way, my apologies to those of you – you know who you are – that I implored to tune in to last night's adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time on ABC. It's been about 20 years since I read the book, but that isn't how I remembered it at all. (And the rumor is that this was shot as a mini-series and then edited down to three hours; based on the disjointed story line, I'd say this is probably true.)
So, sorry if you wasted three hours like I did. If there's a silver lining, I'm encouraged to pick up the book again. My favorite part was always the interesting and enlightened family and I think they played a bigger part in the book than they did in last night's movie.
Don't encourage them—10:07 AM
My evenings will be a bit busy this week, so I took some time this morning to set up TiVo for the next two or three prime times. The TiVo synopsis from Wednesday's upcoming Smallville:
Clark decides to tell Lana his secret so they can finally be together.
It's been noted before that I have no idea where these TiVo synopses come from, but I'm reasonably sure they don't come from Smallville because in that case they'd be identical to the "TV Guide" synopses, and they're not. Whoever it is that writes these, though – be it TiVo or DirecTV or Bob's TV Synopses & Gently Used Radiator Parts – I wish they wouldn't encourage the Smallville writers' use of "Clark's secret." What's wrong with "Clark decides to tell Lana about his powers so..."? Not only does that avoid the gay "Clark's secret" designation, but it also makes sense to casual browsers of the TiVo schedule who haven't watched Smallville so they don't know what Clark's secret is.
Besides, continuing to refer to Clark Kent's Krypton-based superpowers as his "secret" is sort of misleading – it implies he doesn't have many, many other secrets. Dark secrets. Secrets of powerful HoYay.
Mon, May 10
Is/was it such a bad idea to put logos for Spider-Man 2 on bases in major league ballparks? I say, not really. (Especially when you look at the logos – they're tiny!) (Read more.)
If, amidst all the fluffy Survivor coverage, you've been missing the harsh, hate-filled rants on this site, today's your day. I wasn't trying to be mean to Jim Treacher and (thanks, tone-of-voice-less Internet!) I don't know if I offended him or if he was just being a good boy and clarifying, but that was nothing. I'm on a tear, and it's one of those no-research all-vitriol rants that the Internet was created for, damn it! Anyway, keep your hearts and sleeves inside the vehicle.
Someone I don't know named Ted Rall writes little snarky political comic strips, and about a week ago, the "blogsphere" (as I like to call it in order to further distance myself from it, perhaps entirely fruitlessly) apparently went nuts (as it does) about one of his strips. I'm not going to bother to dig around and find the strip, I found this single panel and here it is.
It was included in an anti-Rall post on A Small Victory, which is run by this woman named Michele who may or may not be Michelle Malkin (probably not, with the different spelling and all) but she may as well be, as she is another humorless, hate-filled, Right wing tool of the Anne Coulter variety that I can't stand. I'm basing this on having skimmed a couple of her entries on A Small Victory, and that's enough for me. Disagree? Splendid. I wholeheartedly agree with whatever quote is misattributed to Voltaire on the subject. However, I think she's a smug hypocritical bitch and it disappoints me because I thought all women were smarter than us and I was kind of counting on it. (Hillary '08! Who's with me? [crickets...] Fine!)
My point was going to be this: Yes. "Never mind the fine print. Will I get to kill Arabs?" is a tad incendiary. And certainly it's a little disrespectful to someone who lost his life in a sincere and good-hearted pursuit of America's wayward aims (or its president's wayward aims). But it's meant to be satire and it's meant to be incendiary, and I for one thought it was a little crude for the media coverage to imply that Pat Tillman's sacrifice was somehow greater than that of the other 500-odd dead American servicemen because he had the NFL on the line before he went over. Use him as an example of sacrifice and patriotism, but don't act like he's the only one coming back from Iraq in a casket.
(Quick aside: I'm guessing they aren't manufacturing those caskets over there. It would be a very depressing job to be the guy who's in charge of transporting the empty caskets to Iraq, especially when you get that call from your boss that says, "We underestimated a little. Order some more.")
So, if Rall was intentionally getting personal by implying that Tillman enlisted for reasons of knee-jerk racism, then that's contemptible, but it's also his choice. It's his cartoon and you can hate it but it's still up to him to decide what to say. What I think should not be overlooked is whether it's funny. Because, within limits, that should overshadow how mean it is. And I think "ARMY. We're Looking For Guys Who Don't Read the Paper." is very funny, and not just because I agree with it. I think it's funny satire and it's funny writing. So, when I saw the panel on ASV, I giggled first and then thought, "Aw. I'm sorry if a nation who randomly and disproportionately posthumously worships Tillman might get offended by seeing him skewered in a cartoon."
I don't know what my point is. My point is that funny is funny. My point is that art and social commentary and satire are usually hurtful to someone and my point is that Michele from ASV is unable to recognize irony in any form and loves to fly into a frenzy and call for people to get fired over every little thing, which is just the worst example of empty partisan bickering that you can come up with. (I dislike when lefties do it, too. Even if you're correct, you shouldn't hypocritically froth like that because it just makes your cherry-picking that much more obvious.)
[I]t has to be hard to be happy when one carries around so much bile and rage. It's tiring. Anger wears you down, especially when your anger doesn't seem to accomplish anything.
Another blogger (James Lileks, expect to hear a lot more about him in this space because I love him, thanks Arksie) said the above. He said it about Rall, but I think it applies universally, and I apply it to ASV's bloodcurdling vixen of snippery.
Fri, May 7
I've often been told that my reviews are more entertaining when I'm reviewing something I don't like very much. If only I'd hated Down With Love a tenth as much as I hate Survivor. Maybe someone would have read that review! (Read more.)
I used to love Defamer. Now I lurve it...
Politics Not Policy—4:22 PM
I'm not here to give Bush a hard time for the prisoner abuse because (as far as we know) he didn't personally do any of it. There's probably an argument to be made that the low morale of troops fighting a bloody war for purposes that have been misrepresented and for longer than they should have is the sort of thing which leads to these sorts of activities ("blowing off steam" and all that). But I'll leave it to O'Franken to get apoplectic about that – here's what I found interesting:
"There is a general sense out there that the administration does not tolerate any points of view that are contrary to theirs," said Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), who has argued that the U.S. should seek more international support for the Iraq mission. "Good, sharp critical thinking is absolutely imperative to good policy."
From the Suskind book to the Clarke book (to, presumably, the Woodward book – I only read nudie mags, so I'll have to defer to my learned friends), we keep hearing this about the Bush administration. There's almost no focus on policy; all energy is devoted to politics and creating diversions for the media. (Also, one of my chief complaints has always been that if you disagree with them, they label you either a traitor, a terrorist, or a whiny malcontent who can be marginalized and ignored. Nice to see someone from their own party is hip to this as well.)
(I had to laugh that – at least when I viewed it – the advertisement on the page for this article was for the Canadian tourism board's comeseecanada.com)
Me Vote Pretty One Day—3:42 PM
States With Higher IQ Vote Democrat [American Assembler via What Do I Know?]
Well, vote Gore at least. Gotta love it.
Thu, May 6
Is Friends really so bad?—6:27 PM
So Cute! [Low Culture]
This is like that Gigli business all over again. Hate NBC's hyperbolic overpromotion of the Friends finale (I do), but don't hate Friends. And don't hate the Olsen twins either for that matter! (They were on Letterman and they said it's okay if I call them that.) Just because something is more fun than it is meaningful doesn't mean it's inherently bad. This is just like those bastards who "don't own a TV." (And by the way, "I've never sat through an entire episode of Friends" is pretty much the exact same thing!) Popular culture is American; in fact it's the exact "American" thing that makes them hate us.
So, watch Friends or join the Taliban, is what I'm saying. Mary-Kate Olsen or Hitler.
I'm through with local news—10:23 AM
Sure, I know it's a subtle transition from "hating and railing against at every opportunity" to "through with" but if you can't handle it, you don't have to read this site! (Wait! Come back!)
Anyway, the level of fluff and non-newsworthiness has always been very near its saturation point, but checking the local ABC affiliate's weather this morning, I was confronted with this:
Now, I'm aware that the weather desk is to the rest of the newscast as the "wacky" senior class picture is to the "let's get serious now" senior class picture, but I still think this is inappropriately flip. This is a space that's ordinarily used to convey information, like "mostly sunny" or "humid," and that information is left out in favor of making it clear to the viewer that ABC 7 is aware that Mother's Day is this Sunday. Where's the fucking FCC when you need them?!
Update: (Saturday, 10 am)
Those lying fuckers.
Wed, May 5
It's about to get interesting on Survivor. Which is easy to say, because it's always about to get interesting. It just never quite does. These dummies are just too happy with their bad strategy. Also, God damn Burnett for making me dislike Shii-Ann the least out of the remaining contestants, just in time for her to be voted off! (Read more.)
'greatness in this—3:08 PM
"greatness in this medium [television] ... is defined by the quality and distinctiveness of an idea and the passion and skill of great writers and directors." – Fox TV President Dana Walden
Which begs the question, the "quality and distinctiveness" of cloned reality fare like Forever Eden = Paradise Hotel = Temptation Island exceeds that of funny shows like Cracking Up and (wait for it...) the charmingly inventive Wonderfalls?
Launch Memo for Fox's New, Cheap Division [Defamer (new!)]
These are the same people who recently announced a shift to "year-round" television seasons, because it seems to be working for HBO. Couple things: one, HBO has good TV and knows what good TV is (most of the time); two, HBO doesn't cancel stuff right away if it doesn't get the best ratings in the history of its time slot and compel hordes of people to loot TV sets from department stores in order to watch it. There's no point in a year-round season or a fall season or a mid-season if all you're running is short-run reality stints and shorter-run narrative shows that are canceled after three weeks after failing to survive minimal promotional support and multiple time slot changes. All you have is a dozen or so three-week "mini-seasons" a year.
Maybe I'll just get a frontal lobotomy so I can eagerly await The OC every week, like I'm supposed to.
Tue, May 4
Sat, May 1
This site gets a long-overdue facelift and quite a few impressive changes under the hood. I'm giddy with excitement, but that could just be sleep deprivation. (Read more.)