Friday, July 29, 2005

Recommended Friday Viewing

That's right. Sit back while Joe tells you what you should be doing as your weekend just waits to begin.

First off, read some funny shit on the Web:

Cam’ron is firing on all cylinders at Inside Pulse. This week, he takes on Jermaine Dupri and lives to tell the tale. See, Cam. We each have our own diminutive celebrity fish to fry.

Pamie offers a brilliant take on the non-stop hilarity this is R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet” masterpiece. I actually saw that vid last night, and holy Jesus it is the comedy highlight of the year. It’s like “The Thunder Rolls” and “Janie’s Got a Gun” and that other R. Kelly video from back in the day with Ron “New Jack Shitty” Isley in it, all wrapped up in one soapy package. Anyhoo, read Pamie. She’s hilarious.

Ryan Latimer is stepping up to the 411 Movie News plate in my absence. And he starts off my making word love to Bruce Campbell. Something tells me you’ll do juuuust fine, Ryan.

Okay. So I know next to nothing about stocks and mergers, or anything about business at all, really. So I’m not sure what to make of this story. But if it means that I won’t be able to enjoy my monthly Tim Horton's Chicken Club Baguette with cheddar and honey mustard? I will not be pleased.

TV recommendations and more once you click below . . .

Hey, so you know what’s true about the 18-34 year old demographic in which I currently reside, and whose viewership TV networks covet so very much? We’re always home watching TV on Friday nights. No, it’s true. Sure, some might think it common sense that we’d be out drinking, listening to some live music, peeing in darkened alleys, and having dirty liberal sex with each other. But, no. We’re home watching TV.

That must be the case, right? Since the networks always seem to dump interesting programming that would naturally skew younger into their Friday Night deathfun(!) slots.

Anyway. If any of you all do end up at home tonight, there’s a bevy of kickass TV shows for your enjoyment:

CBS is making the fantastic decision to re-air episodes of UPN’s Veronica Mars, staring tonight, with episodes airing at 8pm (the pilot) and 9pm.

Fox, meanwhile, offers up two full hours of the best show on television, Arrested Development (8pm-10pm).

Finally, Bravo re-airs its 100 Scariest Movie Moments series, starting at 9pm. For, like, the trillionth time. But who cares? It’s one of the better “list” shows I’ve seen on TV, with tons of out-of-the-mainstream choices, and a bevy of insightful comments.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a movie to rent this weekend, I can’t recommend The Upside of Anger enough. Joan Allen is so superb in this movie, and despite being a product of Mike “The Mind of the Married Man” Binder’s seemingly feeble imagination, it’s remarkably well-written.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Thursday Top Five: 07/28

Five things that impressed, appalled, or otherwise held my attention for more than 15 seconds during the past week:

01 – Man, in the guilty pleasure department, Big Brother never lets me down. This season has kicked into high gear, with Tuesday’s episode being a high mark, epitomized by Eric – the tiny titan whose reign of righteousness (man, I’m an alliterative asshole today) has been cut short (heh) – yelling at James and taking his hat back because James had the gall to use the Power of Veto.

We’re clearly in Phase 2 of the BB season, as this show always tends to follow the same pattern. Phase 1 entails a majority alliance taking firm control of the game, and quickly letting the power go to their heads. Phase 2 is when the outcasts gain control, set the wrong things right, evict the more insufferable houseguests, and just generally make things fun to watch. Phase 3 (yet to come this season) is when the former outcasts become paranoid and suspicious of each other and begin to dismantle their own alliances ahead of schedule. Phase 4 allows the under-the-radar players to ride out the infighting. Phase 5 is when two of the more back-stabby players make the finals. And Phase 6 is the bitter, bitter jury vote. God, I love this show.

02 – Speaking of guilty pleasures, Laguna Beach is back for another season on MTV. I was so sure I would hate this show, and, to be fair, I still hate about half the people on it. And, at least speaking for season 1, the contrivances that MTV sets up are way transparent (Oh, Lauren’s seats at the Blink 182 concert are coincidentally next to her arch-enemy Kristin and the boyfriend she’s trying to steal?). But it’s also crazy addictive, and there are no activities so fun as watching this show with my sister and yelling at the TV about how much of a bitch Kristin is. Gooood times.

03 – So, today, I get to see my very favorite band in the world play in the center of town, for free. It’s not every day that I get to be happy I live in Buffalo, but today is certainly one of those days. If you have the chance to seek out some music by Lowest of the Low, try and do so. I fell in love with them the very first time I heard them. Maybe you will, too.

04 – What did I do with my life before I discovered The Office? Honestly, I’m trying to remember. Before I knew the bug-eyed charm of Gareth Keenan, or the comic brilliance of Ricky Gervais. The American version? A pale, pale imitation. The magic of Netflix has allowed me to enjoy the real deal. Too bad British series can be critically acclaimed and adored and still only last two incredibly short seasons. Thirteen episodes is so not enough!

05 – I had a dream the other night that my teeth were falling out. I looked it up online and it seemed to suggest that this was a portent of bad things to come. Is this true? Does this mean that bad things will really happen to me or I only think bad things will happen to me. Any thoughts?

The Latest Mystery on "Lost" . . .

. . . how the new guy's tiny hat stays on his head.

That's right, y'all. Adebisi has been sentenced to one season on Craphole Island.

Harry Potter Casting Call

So. I finished the new Harry Potter book the other day. And may I say . . . excellent.

But rather than go into book review mode quite yet, I got on something of a kick the other day, trying to fantasy cast all the as-yet unfilled roles for the upcoming Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince. Incidentally, Entertainment Weekly tried their hand at this in last week’s issue, but they focused more on the Gaunt family, which I really don’t care too much about. I’m more interested in casting:

Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange
Sisters in evil. The first is blonde and the weaker of the two, the second raven-haired and murderous. The rumour mill has Elizabeth Hurley circling the latter role, which is wrong on many, many levels. My preferences for Bellatrix are Emily Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, or Tilda Swinton. Swinton could pull off the fierce nature of the role, but Watson is, I think, the better actress.

As for Narcissa, there are two and only two choices: Kristin Scott-Thomas and Natasha Richardson. Either would work as the imperious, yet secretly frightened, Narcissa.

Dolores Umbridge
This is the most delicious role that remains uncast in the Potter universe. Umbridge will be a centerpiece of the Order of the Phoenix flick, and the right casting is crucial. Judi Dench has the right look for the part, I think, but I wonder if she’d be able to do the high-pitched sickly-sweet voice that was so crucial to the character’s description. Brenda Blethyn, on the other hand, can rock high-pitched sickly-sweet with the best of them. Other possibilities: Imelda Staunton, Helen Mirren, or Finoula Flannagan.

Horace Slughorn
EW suggested Bob Hoskins for the role, and I have to say, even if I didn’t think of it, it’s a pretty good suggestion. My first thought was Brian Cox, but I tend to fantasy-cast Brian Cox into almost any role he could conceivably fit (the dude’s a good actor, what can I say?). I also would be interested to see what Ian Holm might do with the role.

Rainbow-haired and feisty in book 5, mousier and distracted in book 6, Tonks is going to need some range. She’s also a well-liked role, but not exactly a prominent one. Therefore, my best case scenario of Kate Winslet will probably not come to pass. In Winslet’s stead, I hope they consider casting Kelly MacDonald, who I think would rock the hell out of the part.

Oh, and also? If Tony Blair knows what’s good for him, he will totally lobby J.K. Rowling to let him play the Prime Minister of Muggles. That’s got to be one coveted cameo.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

10 Word Movie Reviews VIII: Christian Bale is Wicked Skinny, Yo

Mr. and Mrs. Smith: Disregard the boring, lazy ending, and it’s fast and fun.

Dark Water: The stark, sheer terror . . . of apartment hunting in New York.

The Machinist (DVD): No offense, Christian Bale’s Sternum, but you’re freaking me out.

Prozac Nation (DVD): Visibly strains to find a theme. Shut up, Elizabeth Wurtzel!

Monday, July 25, 2005

411 Happy Hour link

Actually, it’s probably Jerry Bruckheimer who will be laughing all the way to the bank, as The Island marked Bay’s first project away from the uber-producer. You’d have to figure Bay will come crawling right back into the fold. Do I smell a sequel to one of their more successful ventures? Armageddon II: Armageddon Too Old For This Shit.

This, plus thoughts on Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Land of the Dead, Matt Dillon's familial struggles, Christina Ricci's run of bad luck, and a handful of hot new trailers. It's my last Happy Hour column for 411Mania. Read it and weep.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Dios Mio! El Diablo!

Carlie and I have been looking for an excuse to go to Club Diablo for a while now. It’s just so enticing every time we drive by it. The glowing, burning red lights. The foreboding moniker, like it should only be spoken in that Linda Blair “your mother sucks cocks in hell” voice. So you can imagine my reaction when Sister E tells me that this band she knows is playing downtown Thursday night, at “Diablo-something or other?” Club Diablo, your time has come.

Club Diablo is way smaller than I thought it would be. I don’t know if I was expecting this vast cavern of a place like the From Dusk Til Dawn bar or something, but it was actually pretty cozy. And, truthfully, pretty cool, too. I was worried with a name like Club Diablo that it would attract the poseur Goth crowd like . . . Goths to a flame? Is that too cheesy a line? Anyway, no poseur Goths, just some actual Goths, who were more interested in chilling out and having a good time than getting their Lestat on and staring at me like they’re preparing to draw blood with their incisors. Good, chill mix of a crowd, too - the leather-clad and face-studded mixed with the plaid-shorts-wearers and the hoop-earrings-and-minis crowd. I could hang there.

The very first thing I noticed about Club Diablo was that all the TV monitors were playing this DVD of “He-Man and the Masters of The Universe.” The TV show, not the movie. If it was simply the movie – in all its Dolph Lundgren-meets-Courtney Cox glory – I might have simply felt a fondness for Club Diablo. But the cartoon TV show had me wondering whether George Bush had outlawed marriage between a man and a dramatically named drinking establishment, because I was in loooove.

Club Diablo has the most comfortable sofas and lounges I’ve ever sat in. They’re these plush red suede dealies, and I was totally eyeing up how I could possibly steal them. Then I thought better of earning the ire of Club Diablo. Club Diablo also provides complimentary Diablo-head rub-on tattoos. Attempted application of said tattoo on my neck was unsuccessful. Attempted application of tattoo on the inside of my forearm was more successful, although a chunk of Diablo’s face didn’t make the transfer, which actually makes it look creepier. Now I have Hideously Scarred At Birth or Possibly Disfigured in Fight With Archangel Diablo face on my arm.

The forearm tattoo naturally spurs a discussion of The Adventures of Pete and Pete, which leads to Carlie, JL, and I reminiscing about the Golden Age of Nickelodeon, which included Pete and Pete, Welcome Freshmen, Salute Your Shorts, and the seminal Canadian teen soap Fifteen.

Sister E shows up and introduces us to the band, whose manager had already earned a tip of my cap for deferring the barmaid to me when he knew I’d been waiting longer. Sister E also manages to slap my sun-charred arm a good half-dozen times, with only the first couple being accidental. This is the thanks I get for not smothering her with a pillow when she was an infant?

Navar is quite good, I must say. I’d like to listen to their album to get a better sense of the lyrics, but overall I was very impressed. They pulled off an improbable Fine Young Cannibals cover that improved upon the original in every way. They also offered a kicky rendition of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” JL and I agreed that the lead singer’s suit jacket was “very Beck.” And the drummer was rocking a Taylor Hawkins vibe that I quite enjoyed.

Club Diablo’s hand stamps will wipe off of your hand quite easily. You’ll want to be mindful of that when you pop outside for a cig.

After the show, Sister E, K-Wish, and I bid Club Diablo a fond farewell. We head on over to Area 42 where we arrive in time to see the Tragically Hip cover band packing up their gear. Thank god they remembered to charge us the cover. The DJ played some good stuff in the short time we were there, although an unfortunate tendency towards Good Charlotte nearly marred the Killers/Joan Jett/Blondie triple bill that had played so well.

We leave after one drink, but not before Sister E gets subjected to the absolute worst pickup story in the history of history. Seems this guy with a hideously faked-up accent is an exchange student from South Africa. It’s his last night in America (red flag #1). His friends abandoned him (red flag #2), and he can’t remember the way back to the hotel (red flag #3), if only she could walk him there (DING! DING!). Oh, and apparently, in the three minutes Sister E talked to him, she was the most important thing that had happened to him “while he’s been in America.” We left before he could add that he’s being shipped off to war tomorrow, and that he’s dying of consumption and only has a few days to live

That sort of thing would never have happened at Club Diablo.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

No Exactly Fantastic

. . . and with that, the 1,000th play on the word "fantastic" has been made in reference to Fantastic Four.

Haven't updated in awhile, something I blame on the three-headed monster of humidity, sunburn, and the new Harry Potter book. So, to tide y'all over until I come up with something really interesting, here's my bullet point assessment of the Fantastic Four movie.

Five Things Worth Saying About Fantastic Four

01 – Bottom line, this is not a very good movie. It’s unfocused, it’s ordinary, it’s repetitive, and it doesn’t have those one or two “wow” scenes that are pretty much essential in an action movie like this. But, as I said before, it’s not nearly the wheels-off disaster that had basically been promised by the bad buzz which had accumulated ever since the project had been announced. I was actually disappointed it wasn’t worse. I mean, there’s not much you can say about a middling action film. But an unmitigated crap-fest? Now that’s good movie reviewing!

02 – One of the problems at the root of the movie is that the ostensible central hero – Reed Richards, AKA Mr. Fantastic – is such a ridiculous construction. And I’m not talking about the “emotionally stunted man of science” thing. That’s no more a clunky archetype than Johnny Storm (extreme sports cocksure glory hog) or Victor Von Doom (megalomaniacal . . . well, megalomaniac, really). The problem is his superpower. I’ve dealt with powers of heat and cold, of blind lawyer daredevils, weather control, and web-slinging. But the rubberband man? Laaaame.

03 – The biggest reason I can’t have too much of a problem with Fantastic Four is that, at its heart, it’s a kids’ movie. And as a kids’ movie, it’s not bad. It paints in some broad strokes and it’s got a shticky sense of humor, and the kids in the theatre I was in were eating it up with a spoon. I loved the dark undertones in movies like Batman Begins, but it’s also nice to see a movie like this act as training wheels for action blockbuster-loving youngsters. It’s like My First Comic Book Movie. Only later on will they realize how basic and uninspired it was.

04 – Did I mention that the flick is repetitive? I did? Well, let me mention it again. It’s repetitive. Repetitive. The movie is repetitive. Every plot point, every character trait, is underlined in triplicate. Did you know that Reed Richards and Sue Storm are ex-lovers, and that they’re relationship soured because he was emotionally awkward? You should, considering there are about five scenes that make the exact same point. I know I just said that it’s a good kids’ movie and that repetition helps kids understand stuff, but I’m sitting in the theatre, too, and I think I’m quite clear on the concept that Ben Grimm is a freak who cannot hide his genetic mutation like the others can. Which brings me to . . .

05 – Dear Kerry Washington: What’s going on here, girl? I know you play a blind woman in Fantastic Four, but in real life you can actually see, right? And even if you couldn’t, you’d be able to get a Braille copy of the script and deduce that you’re too good for a throwaway role in this third rate superhero flick, right? You’re kind of a kick-ass actress. If you were to deign to do any kind of comic book movie, you should have bumped Halle Berry out of the Storm role in X3 and gone for that. Pretending that your impaired sense of sight allows you to see The Thing past his igneous exterior is below you. Let Stacy Dash take these roles. Lord knows girlfriend could use the work. Yours, Joe.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Informal Poll

I'll figure out how to put a legit poll in here eventually. For now, just post your answer as a comment:

Which Movie I'd Rather Not See Should I Watch Just To Bag On It?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory


War of the Worlds

. . . discuss.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Good News / Bad News

The Bad News: My copy of the new Harry Potter book - guaranteed on doorstep today by Amazon - will not be showing up.

The Good News: I think I'll be getting it for free. For a full refund, I can wait a few days.

The Question Remains: Do I use the money I get back to buy something else off my wish list? That first season of Scrubs is looking mighty tempting.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Your Friday Morning Smile-Time Photo

We here at Low Resolution hope these pictures help to brighten your day.

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Can't spell "Curt Schilling's a lame-ass glory hog" without "h-o-m-e-r".

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Nice that it was A-Rod who felled the Sock That Walked Like a Man. Even though in this photo it looks like he and Mo are doing some Tango De La Muerte shit. Like they're in the background of a Shakira video or something.

Oh, okay. Fine. Caption Contest No. 003 on that second one. It's just too "Fosse, Fosse, Fosse" to pass up.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Gonna Make You Sweat

And by "you," I mean "me."

Ten things I have resorted to doing on account of it being 92 degrees with 700% humidity:

-- Sticking my head inside the freezer and closing the door as much as I can, so as to keep as much cold air in as possible. This prompted passers by to conclude that I was making the most half-assed suicide attempt ever. They're only sort of wrong.

-- Sticking my head into a cold shower periodically and allowing my hair to drip dry because the Chinese water torture of the drip-drip-drip on my forehead at least took my mind off the puddle of sweat accumulating on my lower back.

-- Opening the refrigerator door and just glowering at the two cartons of eggs that sit there. There’s nothing to eat in the house that hasn’t melted past the point of recognition, and yet there sit two perfectly good cartons of eggs which I cannot consume because there is no way in hell I am turning on my stove. Not for you. Not for anyone.

-- Making the ludicrous decision that I would prefer X2’s Iceman to Fantastic Four’s Human Torch, simply on temperature-based criteria.

-- Walking all bowlegged and cowboy-like so as to air out my undercarriage and keep swamp-ass at bay for another hour. This latest edition of Scary Mental Picture Cinema has been brought to you by the “modesty” portion of my brain, which has overheated and is thus malfunctioning.

-- Planning a vacation to hurricane country, because right about now high winds and pouring rain seem like viable options to me, and I’m sick and tired of being jealous of Anderson Cooper and his rain-soaked poncho on CNN.

-- Laughing at the clearly inadequate rain showers which are falling around these parts, failing rather spectacularly at cooling anything down.

-- Renting The Ice Storm, Snow Falling on Cedars, Cold Mountain, and Jack Frost in a futile attempt to cool down by osmosis. No such luck. I was able to fall asleep, though.

-- Standing between Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey at the Dukes of Hazzard premiere just so I could enjoy the chill that passes between them when Johnny Knoxville walks by.

-- Thinking about sweet, sweet January, when it’ll be ten degrees with a below-zero wind chill, and I’ll be able to bitch and complain about cold-ass Buffalo again.

Emmy Noms Post-Mortem

Emmy nominations were announced today.

Most of the shows that were expected to do well did well, although we saw The West Wing finally get thrown overboard. Too bad it was a year too late. And I can't say I can speak to the quality of Huff as I have no Showtime, but its multiple nominations sort of threw me.

Anyhoo, the Good News:

Scrubs gets nominated, along with Zach Braff. Finally!

Naveen Andrews gets a nomination for Lost. Didn't see that coming, but that doesn't mean I don't love it.

Sandra Oh gets a nod for Grey's Anatomy.

Project Runway swishes its way into the Best Reality Competition lineup. Watch out, red carpet! Here comes Wendy Pepper!

The Bad News:

Victor Garber got snubbed in favor of William Shatner. My worst case scenario come to life.

And it's not necessarily "bad" news, but I'd have put money on Nicollette Sheridan getting a Supporting Actress nod. Eva Longoria got the snub, too. Oh the perils of being pretty.

I went 66% on my predictions, which is about as well as I ever do on these things.

Other People Can Be Funny: Butterscotch Stallion Edition

So, if you’re not like me and you don’t regularly check Defamer every morning like it’s the best part of waking up, you’ve likely missed one of the summer’s underrated subplots: Owen Wilson, The Butterscotch Stallion. This week, it all comes to a head as Wilson addresses gossip column claims of a proclivity for ass-licking with one of the more priceless sexual euphemisms in recent memory. “There’s lots of different paths to the waterfall,” you guys. Don’t ever forget it.

Elsewhere . . .

Hissyfit’s Wing Chun takes a stand against the melon. Now, I don’t have so much of a problem with melon. A good slice of cantaloupe on a hot day? Heaven. But I have to hand it to anyone who can tell an innocent piece of fruit to fuck off. Well played.

Aaron Cameron whines his way back into my good graces this week. And he didn’t even have to, because this week’s Bootleg was on. There are times I just want to see the look on Cam’s face when he logs onto the Internet and sees Lil’ Kim in the news. It’s been Christmas all year round in the Cameron household.

Also? Mathan Erhardt continues to be back. Happy days are here again. Again. This week, Math calls for a DVD release for The State. I’ll second, third, and fourth that request. And let him know whether you’d rather be a Smurf or an inmate at Oz. either way, you’re dealing with a whole lot of dude.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ten Word Movie Reviews VII: I Didn't Mention It, But Chris Evans Is Shirtless A LOT in Fantastic Four, Just Saying Edition

Fantastic Four: Not as bad as advertised. It's, you know, for kids.

Land of the Dead: More violent: flesh-devouring zombies or clubbing blows of political symbolism?

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (DVD): Carrey annoys when onscreen, the rest is fantastic and engaging.

Cursed (DVD): Not scary, putrid acting, predictable as hell. Shame, Wes Craven.

Um . . . Hockey?

This still needs to be voted on by the players and owners, but it looks like the NHL lockout is going to end.

And thank fucking God. I don't know about you people in cities with year-round local sports, but in this two horse town it was getting damn near unbearable without hockey to take some of the burden off the Bills. If I had to listen to one more local sports talk radio moron jump to conclusions about what should be done in the event that J.P. Losman starts out slowly (would we fire the coach or simply trade the kid?), in February, I might have had to engage in a spree of some sort. I can't deal with another winter like that.

Also? During the hiatus, I realized how much I actually enjoyed watching hockey. The finger-wagging sportswriters will tell you that the season cancelling lockout was the worst thing that could happen, it drove the fans away, it pissed on their goodwill, and they won't soon return to watch greedy athletes play for greedier owners.

Or not. I think I'll be even more eager for the puck to drop after going through the long hard February-May swing with only the NBA and early-season baseball to tide me over. I mean, the NBA playoffs or the Stanley Cup playoffs? No contest, y'all.

Remember how nearly every hockey playoff game would seem to go to overtime? How nearly every series seemed to go seven games? How you used to love screaming at the referees who put their whistles in their pockets once said overtime began? The mullets? The accents? Don Cherry and his whole bag of bullshit?

It'll be brilliant, all over again.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Tuesday Top Five: 07/12

Five things that impressed, appalled, or otherwise held my attention for more than 15 seconds during the past week:

01 – Okay. In this time of baseball all-star hoopla, let us take time to acknowledge the crap-tastic first half of the Yankees season, where nothing seemed to go right, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were the Lucy to our Charlie Brown, our usual misery against the middling teams of the central division continued unabated, couldn't win games where we scored less than a baker’s dozen, and created a big enough image of tarnished glory and newfound oaf-dom that Derek Jeter actually missed making the All-Star team.

And yet, here we are at the halfway point of the season, and the Yanks are only two games out of the Wild Card, and two and a half games behind the division-leading Red Sox. I . . . it’s . . . whuh? This is reminding me of those Bills seasons where you know the team isn’t going anywhere, and in the back of your head you’re just hoping they tank the rest of the season and at least get a high draft pick in exchange for your misery. But no. They win a few games, they stay with the pack, they’re “mathematically alive” in the playoff hunt until the bitter end, when they finish 7-9, pick 16th in the draft, ruining both your winter AND your spring.

That’s what this Yankees team reminds me of. We can’t rebuild if you keep scraping by, y’all!

Still, I look at the talent on this team – talent that could all of a sudden realize how good it’s supposed to be, freaking act like it, purchase a fire in their belly off of eBay, and go on a tear that could cut a deep swath into the playoffs if they got their collective shit together – and there’s no way I can root for them to go in the tank. There’s that stupid glimmer of hope.

Is this what it was like to be a Red Sox fan? Knowing your team was shit and teasing yourself that things were otherwise? God. I’ve become everything I’ve every despised.

(Closer, Six Feet, and Rob Schnieder await if you click below)

02 – Switching gears from revulsion to . . . well, severe revulsion, I did a movie double feature yesterday and saw Fantastic Four and Land of the Dead. Reviews are forthcoming, but for now I feel the need to mention that before both movies I was “treated” to the trailer for the latest in cinematic excellence: Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. You guys, not only does it look mind-saddeningly stupid (honestly, your brain will cry), and not only is it depressing to find that the well of physical and emotional abnormalities that a woman could possibly possess is evidently bottomless, but . . . come on. Rob Schnieder. Is starring in a movie. In 2005. We haven’t evolved past this? We walk upright now, we’ve long since shed our dorsal fins, and we’ve passed the point where Rob Schneider is a relevant human being. Right?

03 – Finally managed to purchase the Closer DVD this weekend. Got to take a second look at the film I consider second best of 2004. I was not wrong, folks. It’s maybe better upon a second viewing. The dialogue cuts so deep, the performances are so good, the pacing is expert . . . that’s one thing I noticed this time that I didn’t before. Mike Nichols did such a good job moving this story along. It effing hums. The acting is good enough to keep our attention during the long sequences, then Nichols spirits off to another time and place. He doesn’t linger or ponder on emotional states. So. Good. Each two-person scene is a gem of its own. Portman and Owen in the strip club? God! Jude Law finally overplaying his hand at the end? The bookending Damien Rice montages? See, I generally don’t geek out over the usual movies like Batman Begins, even if I like them, and even if I totally get why everyone else does. I geek out over unpleasant, smartly written, sharply acted character dramas like this. Or haunting, atmospheric, sad dramas like The Hours. Or out-of-control existential lunacy like I Heart Huckabees. I’m no weirder than any of you. I’m just . . . adjacently weird.

04 – Props to this week’s Six Feet Under episode. First off, it brought back Patricia Clarkson and Kathy Bates, who, while they’ve been better on this show in the past, are always a shot in the arm. Clarkson’s seemingly exasperated “well maybe you’re not an artist" to Claire was invaluable. And speaking of Claire, I’m not always 100% on board with Alan Ball’s forays into the surreal, but getting to see Claire atop her desk, singing a hosiery-inspired variation on “You Light Up My Life”? Made the whole season worthwhile.

05 – So, how ‘bout that Washington press corps, huh? If you haven’t seen or read about their newfound piss and vinegar towards Scott McClellan and the White House in general, well, read this. And this. And then go watch this. And then begin to appreciate how a lot of people in this country have decided, seemingly all at once, to engage in a rousing chorus of “we’re not gonna take it anymore.”

Emmy Nomination Predictions

Emmy nods get announced Friday Thursday morning. The tendency of the television academy is to keep on nominating shows and performers long after they've run out of steam. This year, old horses like Friends, Frasier, and Sex and the City were led behind the barn and shot, thus freeing up some space in the comedy categories. That's when five "Desperate" nags whinnied their way into the national consciousness, and another Emmy warhorse was born.

As always, the struggle for new shows and actors to displace the veteran nominees is an epic one. Even old shows like The West Wing and 24 are pushing new actors like Alan Alda, Jimmy Smits, and Shoreh Aghdashloo for nods.

My predictions, sure to be significantly wrong in several key areas, are as follows (note that The Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm didn't air any new episodes this season and are thus ineligible):

Best Drama Series
Six Feet Under
The West Wing

Best Case Scenario: Alias and Nip/Tuck bump CSI and one other show off the list. Hell, if we’re talking crazy talk, I’d throw in Veronica Mars and Carnivale for good measure. They all had better seasons than the shows sure to get nominated.
Worst Case Scenario: Without a Trace, CSI: New York, and two of the Law & Order shows join CSI for an all procedurals, all the time lineup.

(more after you click below)

Best Actor – Drama
Peter Krause - Six Feet Under
Anthony LaPaglia - Without a Trace
Ian McShane - Deadwood
Martin Sheen - The West Wing
Keifer Sutherland - 24

Best Case Scenario: Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck) and Clancy Brown (Carnivale) bump off LaPaglia and Krause.
Worst Case Scenario: McShane and Sheen (or Keifer) are snubbed in favor of James Spader (Boston Legal) or Matthew Fox (Lost).

Best Actress – Drama
Glenn Close - The Shield
Frances Conroy - Six Feet Under
Jennifer Garner - Alias
Mariska Hargitay - Law & Order: SVU
Allison Janney - The West Wing

Best Case Scenario: Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck) and Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) are recognized in place of Hargitay and Close.
Worst Case Scenario: Candice Bergen (Boston Legal), Evangeline Lilly (Lost) or Marg Helgenberger (CSI) worm their way into the race.

Best Supporting Actor – Drama
Alan Alda - The West Wing
Victor Garber - Alias
Terry O’Quinn - Lost
Jimmy Smits - The West Wing
John Spencer - The West Wing

Best Case Scenario: Garber stays, everyone else goes, and are replaced by Daniel Dae Kim (Lost), Michael J. Anderson (Carnivale), Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy), and Jason Dohring (Veronica Mars).
Worst Case Scenario: Garber is snubbed. By anyone. Especially William Shatner (Boston Legal).

Best Supporting Actress
Lauren Ambrose - Six Feet Under
Stockard Channing - The West Wing
Tyne Daly - Judging Amy
Janel Maloney - The West Wing
Robin Weigert - Deadwood

Best Case Scenario: Scrap the entire lineup and put in Shoreh Aghdashloo and Mary Lynn Rajskub (24), Yunjin Kim (Lost), Amy Madigan (Carnivale), and Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy).
Worst Case Scenario: Meh. Save for Ambrose, my predicted lineup is pretty uninspiring on its own.

Best Comedy Series
Arrested Development
Desperate Housewives
Everybody Loves Raymond
Will & Grace

Best Case Scenario: I’ll say it, again, for the fifteenth year in a row, it seems. Gilmore Girls and Scrubs! And even though it’s not what it once was, I’d watch The Simpsons over W&G, Raymond, or Entourage any day.
Worst Case Scenario: Joey bumps off Arrested Development. I really don’t think it’ll happen, but if it does . . . bad things.

Best Actor – Comedy
Jason Bateman - Arrested Development
Matt LeBlanc - Joey
Ray Romano - Everybody Loves Raymond
Tony Shaloub - Monk
Charlie Sheen - Two and a Half Men

Best Case Scenario: Zach Braff (Scrubs) and Steve Carell (The Office) knock off Sheen and LeBlanc.
Worst Case Scenario: Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) and anyone from Entourage, especially if they knock Bateman out.

Best Actress – Comedy
Marcia Cross - Desperate Housewives
Teri Hatcher - Desperate Houewives
Patricia Heaton - Everybody Loves Raymond
Felicity Huffman - Desperate Housewives
Eva Longoria - Desperate Housewives

Best Case Scenario: Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls) replacing any of the above, with the possible exceptions of Cross and Huffman.
Worst Case Scenario: Anything but that.

Best Supporting Actor – Comedy
Peter Boyle - Everybody Loves Raymond
Brad Garrett - Everybody Loves Raymond
Sean Hayes - Will & Grace
Jeremy Piven - Entourage
Jeffrey Tambor - Arrested Development

Best Case Scenario: Scrap everyone but Tambor, add Will Arnett and Michael Cera (Arrested Development), and John C. McGinley and Donald Faison (Scrubs).
Worst Case Scenario: Piven and/or Tambor are sacrificed to make room for the unfunny James Denton (Desperate Housewives). Hey, them’s the breaks when you play crushing bore in a dramady campaigned as a comedy. Also? God forbid it, but . . . Kevin Dillon (Entourage). *Shudder*

Best Supporting Actress – Comedy
Monica Horan - Everybody Loves Raymond
Meghan Mullally - Will & Grace
Doris Roberts - Everybody Loves Raymond
Nicolette Sheridan - Desperate Housewives
Jessica Walter - Arrested Development

Best Case Scenario: There’s an awfully shallow pool of nominees, which means long shots like Portia DeRossi (Arrested Development), Kelly Bishop (Gilmore Girls), or Harriet Sansom-Harris (Desperate Housewives) could place without shocking me too much.
Worst Case Scenario: Italian-accented chicks Debi Mazar (Entourage) and Drea DeMateo (Joey) displace boozy broads Walter and Mullally.

Friday, July 08, 2005

I'm a Terrible Person . . .

. . . I know this. The loss of animals' lives is no laughing matter, and neither is the loss of income for poor Turkish farmers.

But, please. Tell me that someone else had a vigorous case of the church giggles by the time they got to "Those who jumped later were saved as the pile got higher and the fall more cushioned."

Good-baaaa, cruel world.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Bush Falls Off Bike in Scotland . . .

. . . Expect him to declare war on Ireland by Friday.

Wednesday Top Five: 07/06

Five things that impressed, appalled, or otherwise held my attention for more than 15 seconds during the past week:

1. Y’all need to catch Next on MTV. I normally hate the dating show genre, yet I’m inexplicably drawn to Elimidate and The Fifth Wheel, and Next deserves mention right along with those two stellar programs. Next is just like Elimidate, except that the harem is kept on a bus and dealt with one by one by the Randon Doofus/Dingbat. But the RD/D can choose to can all of the contestants! And, in turn, the contestant can refuse a date in exchange for a laughably small lump of cash! As, as always, the homosexuals make things even better because when the gay boys go on their dates, the rest of the contestants all take their shirts off and make out on the bus. It’s genius!

2. I have to mention the just-completed Wimbledon fortnight. Network coverage was spotty, as usual, and confined to the early a.m. hours when I wasn’t exactly conscious, but what I did see was something to behold. Particularly captivating was the charge of Venus Williams. Venus fought her way through six consecutive sets of the most competitive women’s tennis I’ve seen in a long, long while. The second set of her quarterfinal against a very game Mary Pierce was topped by a shrieking straight set win over Maria Sharapova, and was then topped again by a classic three set win over my beloved Lindsay Davenport. Fantastic, dramatic tennis all around.

3. Thank you, VH1, for re-running season 2 of America’s Next Top Model this week. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for Tyra Banks’s music video. Thank you for the time Catie couldn’t stop crying. Thank you for the girl who didn’t want to be made up to look like Grace Jones even though she totally looked like Grace Jones to begin with. Thank you for Shandi being a big ol’ ho-bag and for her boyfriend freaking shit over the phone. And I finally got to hear the origin of this “pack your bags, y’all” thing that I keep reading about. Although, seriously? Yoanna? Come on, Top Model. It’s Mercedes, y’all! She survived Lupus! What more do you want from the girl?

4. I very much enjoyed Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Jim Carrey’s hamminess threatened to dampen my enjoyment every now and again, but the sets and atmosphere were so good, and the story was so clever (yet simple) that it didn’t bug me as much as I thought it would. But special mention has to go to young Emily Browning, who kicked a fair amount of ass as Violet Baudelaire. She projected a whole lot of toughness for such a young girl, and she was endearing in her more emotional scenes, too. IMDb says she doesn’t have any new projects on the horizon, which is a shame, because this girl could have a serious career ahead of her.

5. Lastly, I’m going to toss a belated holiday mention to this How American Are You? quiz I got from Sarah at Project D.U.. I’m 48% American. I don’t love it. I don’t want to leave it. I wouldn’t mind giving it an extreme makeover. Sounds about right to me.

Holiday Happy Hour - Linked!

I think it might be more appropriately called The Curse of Boyz N the Hood. Cube ends up a glorified babysitter. Cuba Gooding, Jr. wins an Oscar, professes his undying love for Tom Cruise, makes some unfathomably shitty movies, gets basically disowned by his own community, then tries to exact his revenge on all of us with Radio (the teeth! My god, the teeth!). Morris Chestnut is stuck in some alternate universe in which he only picks up the phone when Gabrielle Union calls for him to co-star with her. The rest of the time he’s watching Out All Night reruns and trying to remember who that drag queen
was who played the night club owner.

This, plus Charlie's Angels, X-Men 3, and Oscar hopefuls. I wrote a Happy Hour on the 4th of July, y'all! Go read it.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Why-iy-iy, oh why you left me, oh Sandy

Heh. Couldn't let that lyric go to waste.

Anyhoo, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is stepping down from the bench. And if you hadn't already guessed that Bush getting the chance to replace a swing vote on the Court with one of his hand-picked psychopaths was a bad thing, well, it is.

Over at TINO, Miss Alli pretty much covers all the bases as to why this is a crucial time for everyone and why the Court really does hang in the balance here. And considering at this point I can't do much more than go "oh fuuuuuuuck," it's nice to see someone make an argument with actual words and sentences.