Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dear Straight People: Please Stop Caressing Your Tender Balls

(...that's our job.)

Okay, so this is another sports post, BUT, it's also about gay double entendres , innuendo, and politics. It's got it all! So over the weekend, during some podunk college football game I didn't watch, ESPN announcer Brian Kinchen (who? I don't know, but check out the perfect squareness of his head!) went on some bizarre tangent about keeping a grip on the football, dropping words like "tender hands" and "caress." Then the tiny gay devil on his shoulder poked him with a stick, apparently, because he quickly ceded that his whole spiel sounded "kinda gay." Then? The awkward pause heard 'round Des Moines.

Today, ESPN has removed Kinchen from active duty, and we don't know whether he's going to be officially shitcanned or what. Now, I am not one to tolerate homophobic slurs, and fratty types who trade in such currency are pretty much the lowest on my list (see my thoughts on The Departed in a day or two). However, this guy should not be losing his job over that comment. I'm sorry. This wasn't even using "gay" as a pejorative, it was just standard issue gay panic by a jock who had metaphorically slapped his teammate on the ass and left his hand there for too long. Annoying? Totally. Is Kinchen something of a pitiable douchebag? Doubtless. But...ESPN employs a lot of pitiable douchebags, for many different reasons. I don't see them getting fired. You don't think Joe Theisman has offended me deeply on every football broadcast he's even taken part in? ESPN doesn't fire him.

Trust me, I realize it's a fine line. If Kinchen had said "faggot," I'd be calling for his head. But...he was talking about tenderly caressing balls with his soft hands. If he didn't say it sounded kinda gay, I bloody well would have. The fact that he's a square-headed That Guy and not, say, Jon Stewart means certain hackles immediately go up. And rightly so, I think. There's a certain degree of earning your cred when it comes to making a joke about gays or Jews or, you know, Ladysmith Black Mambazo (see sidebar -- it sounds a lot better coming outta Dennis Hayesbert, is what I'm saying). Times like these, my opinion tends to be that there is a degree to which we have to put up with people being dumbasses. Barring actual harassment, barring hate speech, people just don't get fired for being a douchebag. Trust me, I've worked with enough in my life to know.

The only thing firing someone like Kinchen does is give ammunition to the anti-PC crowd. And I do so hate the anti-PC crowd, but that's for another post on another day. For now I'll just leave it at: People sometimes get to be lameasses. Mock them, but don't fire them.

Lord knows why politicians don't take that slogan and run with it.

p.s. If you want to check out some gay panic that really IS off-putting and creepy, check out the Deadspin commenters today. Or better yet don't, because it's kind of gross.

Stage Four of Her Master Plan...I Mean: Sad News, Y'all!

Reese and Ryan are calling it quits!

Couple observations on this one:

1) Bummer! They were such an attractive red carpet presence!

2) Now that Reese has become a box office hitmaker and won her Oscar, we all knew the next step in her plan for world domination would be a high-profile divorce. And since adopting a third-world baby is kind of out of fashion right now (thank you very much, MADONNA), she might just move right into marrying Barack Obama and making a run at First Lady. Nah, fuck that: President.

3) Shirley MacLaine must be so disappointed! She was having so much fun getting drunk with them at the Golden Globes last year, as you can see in the photo above.

4) Will Ryan start getting those sympathy Oscar nominations that came to Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Kidman after their high-profile breakups?

5) Or, more likely, how soon until Ryan and Jake Gyllenhall get photographed doing kamikaze shots in their boxer shorts at Matthew McConaughey's kegger on the UT Austin campus?

6) I'm placing my bets on Reese in the "First to Oprah" derby.

7) If I'm Ryan, I'm NOT contesting the settlement. At least if I know what's good for me. Bad things tend to happen to people who cross his wife.

8) Call me Reese! We can get drunk and gossip bitterly about your hot-ass ex-husband. Speaking of which...call me, Ryan!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Scarier, Schmarier

Okay, I was going to post this on the sidebar, but it went way long. You know how most people feel about "I Love the '80s" on VH1? That's me and the original "100 Scariest Movie Moments" show on Bravo, and I'm jazzed that it's playing all week in time for Halloween.

There's a lot to love about it, given that in the end it's merely a countdown show. First off, the mix of films included -- new/old, foreign/domestic, cult/mainstream -- is particularly admirable. Second, and maybe most important, the talking heads are a fantastic grouping of not only the usual pop cultural commenters (from the yummy Eric Christian Olsen to the regrettable Coors Light Twins) and one-hit-wonder horror stars (A Nightmare on Elm Street's Heather Langenkamp), but also some of the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable horror minds in the business: from George Romero to Guillermo Del Toro. Oh, and also John Landis, who got in the door because he directed An American Werewolf in London, but who may not even like horror movies, given his tendency to snidely rag on certain movies on the countdown. It's pretty hilarious, actually. Generally, when I reference the special, I do so in one of two contexts: the reason why I like Rob Zombie, or the reason why I like Eli Roth. The reason's the same for both: I don't like the movies they end up making, but I find their respect and enthusiasm for their chosen genre to be extremely likeable, and that's nowhere more evident than in the Bravo special. Plus, yeah, Roth's kind of cute, whatever.

So the idea this year was to add a second two-hour special, Even Scarier Movie Moments, both to pick up the stragglers they never mentioned originally and to include newer movies from the last three years or so. But this little two-part addendum makes me a bit sad because of how not up to par it is with the rest of the series. I know all they really wanted to do was find a way to gush over the Saw franchise and Jenna Fischer's husband, but the whole enterprise seemed like an excuse to jack off over Hostel and Slither, and that made me uneasy. Yes, we all love Jenna now, and we wish her connection to director/husband James Gunn had been known in 2003 so she could have commented on the original list, but enough to jury-rig a new special out of scrap metal? I'm not going to bitch about the rankings -- Hostel placed #1 -- because...what, it's the number one horror movie of horror movies we left off the original list? Ooh, prestigious! I will say, however, that two of the scarier moments of my film-watching life were still left off: the behind-the-dumpster scene in Mulholland Dr. (if The Game made the original list -- it did, #44 -- it's a crime not to include Mulholland), and any number of the jumps and starts in Dead Calm, the first movie ever to make me hide my face behind a pillow.

The biggest gripes on the new list: The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Open Water. Not scary! Neither was 2001: A Space Odyssey, really. The rest of the modern movies placed because torture is so hot right now, though I was glad to see The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and the Dawn of the Dead remake show up. The biggest void was not having as wide an array of talking heads on this new special. Romero and Stephen King and John Carpenter and Wes Craven brought a gravitas that, try as he might, Rider Strong just can't provide. Not to mention that turning Eli Roth's wide-eyed enthusiasm inward to his own movies is FAR less endearing. Oh, and also: if you're going to include as dubious a selection as Fear on the list, at least get the damn right to show clips and not just still photos? I'd love to hear that behind-the-scenes conversation: "Well, it's not really scary, and we don't have the rights to show clips from it...but fuck it. No one cares about Robert Blake's scene in Lost Highway anyway."

This grumpy aside was brought to you by the ghost of Halloween past. Hopefully you can catch the first five parts of the countdown on Bravo this week. Then pop in a DVD of the Office instead of watching the addendum. You won't be sorry.

"A Mean -- -- Servant of God"

So I wanted to post something for Nathaniel's Vampire Blog-A-Thon, even though coming up with posts of my own accord has been rough going as of late. But I didn't know what to write about. I enjoy a good scary movie, but I'm by no means a connoisseur of vampire flicks. And I had a feeling the position of "My favorite episode of Buffy" had already been filled.

Then I came across an ad for Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse, and it popped into my head: an earlier collaboration by the exploitation auteurs. One of my very favorite good bad movies, 1996's From Dusk Till Dawn. Much as I love a good movie, there are days where nothing can hit the spot quite like a Good Bad Movie. The best thing about a Good Bad Movie is that it's almost always on TV somewhere. Much like another Good Bad Movie from '96, The Long Kiss Goodnight, From Dusk Till Dawn WILL be on cable. At any time. But it's usually when you're just about ready to turn in for bed, and you're flipping past the Superstation or one of the HBOs and there it is. And it's only at the point where George Clooney and Tarantino have busted in on Harvey Keitel and his kids in their hotel room, so you know you've got the whole movie ahead of you. And you immediately start planning on making your morning coffee a double, because you are not getting to sleep until that aerial pan back reveals the brothel to be a an unholy temple and this movie is over.

Make no mistake, From Dusk Till Dawn is one holy mess of a movie. But it's everything it wants to be, as far as I'm concerned. Yes, Quentin is overacting like crazy. Yes, Salma Hayek's entire presence onscreen is gratuitous. Yes, it's trying really hard to earn its B-movie cred. But where else are you going to see blaxploitation hero Fred Williamson take to an army of vampires with a wooden stake mounted on a jackhammer? Or FX legend Tom Savini as a biker named "Sex Machine" with a gun mounted on his codpiece? Why even have a Robert Rodriguez in the world if he can't show us these things and more? As an added bonus, it's easily the least typically-Clooney performance in the man's career, and even for fans of his that's a good thing.

Calling it a "vampire movie" is probably stretching it a bit. We don't learn much about the bloodsuckers themselves aside from an apparent weakness to inflated condoms filled with holy water (mother of Christ, I had almost forgotten that part). From Dusk Till Dawn is all about how many different and cool ways you can find to kill a vampire. And no matter how much you'd like to slink off into a permanent midnight with Lestat, there is a part of you that can't wait to see if Harvey Keitel can make some hay with that baseball bat and shotgun in the shape of a cross.

You know what...you guys enjoy your blog-a-thon, I'm off to find this one on cable.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Smooth Joey Apollo's NFL Picks: Week 8

And we're back! Last we met, after week 5, the standings looked like this:

Joe: 51-23
Aaron: 43-31

Then the lights went out, but in the meantime, Aaron sent in his picks for week six and went 8-5, including calling Tampa's upset over Cincinnati. So I'm factoring those results in, and thus will have to use math to calculate winning percentages, so I hope my sacrifice here is appreciated.

Meaning the current standings are:

Joe: 51-23 (.689)
Aaron: 51-36 (.586)

Week 8 picks:

Arizona at Green Bay
Aaron: Thank God the Cardinals are still in the league or else my Raiders might still be searching for win #1. That heartbreaking Chicago loss has essentially neutered 'Zona for the rest of the year. Pick: Green Bay

Joe: Okay, the theme for this week is "Joe tries to keep it interesting even though Aaron picked all the teams Joe wanted to." In the spirit of that, even though it's Arizona and even though it's at Lambeau, I'm going to put all my eggs in Matt Leinart's basket. He can fertilize them on his own time. Pick: Arizona

Atlanta at Cincinnati
Aaron: In this week's Sports Illustrated there's a cover story on Bengals WR Chad Johnson and how's he's different from all the other cocky modern athletes. How different? He's only named two of his four illegitimate kids after himself. I'm serious. Pick: Cincinnati

Joe: I don't know how you can't be all about Ocho Cinco. He even decreased his stats this season in an effort to make him more relatable to the common man. What's not to love? Pick: Cincinnati

Baltimore at New Orleans
Aaron: Well, I guess I should concede that the Saints ain't the "Ain'ts" no more and maybe they are for real. It sure helps that they get a home game against the Ravens' Steve McNair, who magically turned into the world's oldest Negro from last year to this year. Pick: New Orleans

Joe: I'd just like to make it clear that anyone who is rooting for the Saints simply because of Katrina is weak and patronizing. I'm rooting for them for the right reasons: because Drew Brees has a bitchin' birth mark on his face. Pick: New Orleans

Houston at Tennessee
Aaron: So, Joe disappears for two weeks due to snow storms or locust swarms (I can't recall which) and the Titans win a game. It's "the apocalypse" or "the seventh sign" or something. Which one featured a young unsoiled Demi Moore? Pick: Houston

Joe: I believe the plague you're looking for is "boils." "Boils." The only thing more disgusting than boils, by the way, is the prospect of having to watch this game. Pick: Tennessee

Jacksonville at Philadelphia
Aaron: Shout out to Bill Simmons for running a zillion letters from self-loathing Philly fans in his columns each week. I can't get enough of those chalky, arm-chair chunks telling us all how miserable their lives are because of a game. Pick: Philadelphia

Joe: Two teams who look much better than their records. Philly's statistical dominance is keeping one guy in my fantasy league on a maddening win streak, so I'd like to pick with my heart here, but never go against a team with kicker hatred in their hearts. Pick: Philadelphia

Seattle at Kansas City
Aaron: The Seneca Wallace era is upon us. Never trust a quarterback with a first name so unusual you'd think it belonged to a Black woman. Hey, I married one...and, yes, all their names end in that "uh" sound. Pick: Kansas City

Joe: I thought black people had names like "Carl"? Is Kansas City on the rebound? Or are they just the most schizophrenic team in the league? I suppose we'll see. Pick: Seattle

San Francisco at Chicago
Aaron: Can anyone name ANY Bears offensive player save for Rex Grossman? Anonymity hasn't been this successful since The Pips. Y'know, from "Gladys Knight and...". No? Wow, tough crowd. Pick: Chicago

Joe: I'm sorry, Bernard Berrian? Ring a bell? I haven't enjoyed watching a Bears team quite so much since Chris Farley was dancing the hula in a coconut brassiere. Pick: Chicago

Tampa Bay at N.Y. Giants
Aaron: Have I ever mentioned how much I hate Tiki Barber? That disingenuous donkey-toothed smile just irks me. He'll surely be making someone's Sunday morning pregame show that I never watch even more unwatchable in '07. Pick: NY Giants

Joe: Really? Tiki Barber? He seems so...bland and harmless. Which is, of course, why everyone loves him. The Giants have to win this one convincingly if they're going to plant their flag as a major contender in the NFC. Pick: NY Giants

St. Louis at San Diego
Aaron: After having their players get shot by off-duty cops and get busted for drug trafficking, a little ol' steroid scandal in San Diego just seems humdrum by comparison. Pick: San Diego

Joe: The fact that St. Louis is generally succeeding this season with a pretty bad team offends me deeply. Pick: San Diego

Indianapolis at Denver
Aaron: The most unsung reason behind my 7-0 fantasy football start is the Denver defense that I drafted with the 113th overall pick. Just thought you guys might like to know. Pick: Denver

Joe: The most unsung reason behind the Colts' 6-0 start has been Peyton Manning. Seriously, when's he gonna get his due? Pick: Indianapolis

N.Y. Jets at Cleveland
Aaron: Hey, I lost two weeks of catch up time due to Joe Reid in "Day After Tomorrow 2". I gotta go out on a limb a few times this week. Pick: Cleveland

Joe: Oooh, picking against the Jets on the road, you rebel. In other news, how depressed is Kellen Winslow, Jr. that he missed the great Miami brawl of 2006? Pick: Cleveland

Pittsburgh at Oakland
Aaron: If Big Ben gets most of the snaps for the Steelers, the Raiders will win. If it's Charlie Batch, the Steelers win. When in doubt, don't pick Oakland. Pick: Pittsburgh

Joe: If Pittsburgh loses to Oakland, not only do they have to give the Super Bowl trophy back, but they also have to publicly apologize to Sienna Miller and admit they are, in fact, "Shittsburgh." Pick: Pittsburgh

Dallas at Carolina
Aaron: I caught the Dallas game last week and I'm still waiting to see why everyone wanted Romo to start. If this was in Dallas, maybe. But, since it's in North Carolina... Pick: Carolina

Joe: I still enjoy watching Bill Parcells's slow descent into mediocrity, even though announcers and analysts still persist in brushing off the man's whiny-baby reactions to a simple press conference. Pick: Carolina

New England at Minnesota
Aaron: Does Bill Belichick wear those goofy hooded sweatshirts in dome games? I'm sure ESPN will cover that story from every angle on Monday night. Pick: New England

Joe: God, I hate the Patriots. Pick: Minnesota

Fall Movie Preview, Part 3

This oughta get us through most of November.

Movie: For Your Consideration (Christopher Guest)
High-Concept Synopsis: The Waiting for Guffman troupe tackles the movie awards season. Awww yeah.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People with the capacity for laughter, pretty much. People who've had the good taste to own Guffman and Best in Show and A Mighty Wind and watch them repeatedly. Misguided PR flacks looking for ideas for December.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: I'd say "The Amish," but they've been through enough. Mennonites, maybe? People who live in that John Lithgow no-dancing town in Footloose? The comatose? There's just no excuse.
Why I'd See It: Seriously? Do your research.

Movie: Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (Steven Shainburg)
High-Concept Synopsis: Nicole Kidman plays legendary Diane Arbus, who may or may not have gotten her spark for photography from a fur-covered person-type-guy in her apartment building. Emphasis on "may not have."
Who Will Be Seeing It: Photography nerds, Kidman fans, and the hirsute. I do love the word "hirsute."
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Arbus fact-zillas who won't cotton to taking liberties with her life. Fans of Robert Downey Jr., who hate to see him covered from head to toe in fur, which I believe is the case here. Metrosexuals, who have reportedly said, in unison, "There isn't enough wax in the world..."
Why I'd See It: Kidman can be quite awesome, and Downey almost always is. Plus, I generally like perverting history like this.

Movie: Come Early Morning (Joey Lauren Adams)
High-Concept Synopsis: Ashley Judd...she's Southern...she's single...I'm going to assume a country singer gets involved.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Ashley Judd fans, obviously. Audiences curious to see what all the Sundance buzz was about -- buzz that bandied about comparisons to Judd in Ruby in Paradise. Diane Ladd fans, who know their lady is no stranger to a strong supporting performance.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Dubious non-fans of Joey Lauren Adams who find her irritating enough in front of the camera. Filmgoers a bit tired of seeing Judd play a lovelorn Southerner. Audiences who feel November is crowded enough without having to dig around for indie movies nobody seems to be talking about.
Why I'd See It: I'd like to see what Joey Lauren Adams can do, to be honest. She's not exactly an actor who makes me think "burgeoning director."

Movie: Fast Food Nation (Richard Linklater)
High-Concept Synopsis: An unconventional adaptation of a non-fiction expose of the -- wait for it -- fast food industry. I know. It's a narrative adaptation, and it apparently runs the gamut from migrant workers to marketing. It's news you can use! Starring Catalina Sandino Moreno, Greg Kinnear, and Wilmer Valderama.
Who Will Be Seeing It: The Whole Foods crowd. Linklater fans, whose devotion has been thoroughly earned at this point. Maria Full of Grace fans eager to see Catalina Sandino Moreno get another chance to show what she can do onscreen.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Fast foodies. The veritable throng of aspiring Hollywood starlets who have had their vaginas cast aside by Valderama. Morgan Spurlock, who's shockingly territorial about who gets to slam McDonalds on film.
Why I'd See It: I won't, and this is coming from a dedicated Linklater fan. But I never read The Jungle, I never read Fast Food Nation, and I subscribe to the idea that I don't want to see the sausage being made. Sorry, Rick. Next time.

Movies: F*ck (Steve Anderson); and This Film Is Not Yet Rated (Kirby Dick)
High-Concept Synopsis: Both are documentaries; the former investigates the history and cultural impact of the worst word in the world, while the latter delves into the MPAA's often unfairly slanted process of rating films. That one's been out for a month or so, but most of America won't be able to see it until it makes it to DVD anyway.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Moviegoers who see some of the most exhilarating films of late as coming out of the documentary genre; Audiences interested in the ins and outs of cultural taboos; the filthy-minded.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Prudes, documentary-phobics, and those who think the mores of polite society are there for a reason and shouldn't be questioned, gosh-darn it!
Why I'd See It: Rated looks to tear the lid off a maddeningly mercurial process that frequently drives me crazy. F*ck contains interviews with Kevin Smith, Janeane Garofalo, Michael Medved, and Miss Manners. No effing way I'm missing that.

Movie: The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky)
High-Concept Synopsis: "One man's thousand-year struggle to save the woman he loves." That's the official word, and who are you to resist it? Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of heady, time-traveling, philosophical love stories. Aronofsky fans eager to see his follow-up to Pi and The Fountain. C.H.U.D. readers, curious about the rather glowing review the film got a couple months ago.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Film fans in the midst of overdosing on Jackman's four-films-in-one-calendar-year pace. Audiences who cooled on the film after the mediocre buzz out of Toronto. How should I put this diplomatically...light thinkers?
Why I'd See It: That C.H.U.D. review really got me interested. Any movie that can provoke a reaction like that is worth a shot. Also, even if I'm not watching them every Saturday night, Aronofsky has made two fantastic films.

Movie: Bobby (Emilio Estevez)
High-Concept Synopsis: The night of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination, the Ambassador Hotel was apparently packed with dubious celebrities. Also William H. Macy.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Nostalgics who long for the good old days...when Bobby Kennedy was shot, I guess. Brat Packers, in full solidarity with their fellow alumnus Emilio Estevez. Believe-it-when-I-see-it types who can't fully sign on to the positive buzz that is (or was) circulating around the film.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Sirhan Sirhan. Co-star Lindsay Lohan's ever-increasing horde of pissed-off studio heads. Charlie Sheen, who's gotta be royally cheesed-off that brother Emilio found a part for their dad but not him.
Why I'd See It: To see for myself. The advance word on it has been so divergent ever since Toronto, with each side more concerned with planting their flag on the Bobby "issue" than having a genuine reaction to the film. At this point, it could be the best movie I've seen all year or the worst.

Movie: The History Boys (Nicholas Hytner)
High-Concept Synopsis: Film adaptation of the Tony-winning play about British prep-school kids making their way through the tangled web of academia or some such. It's supposed to be good.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Broadway backers eager to see a favored play on the big screen. History Channel viewers, eager to nitpick at the drop of a hat. And fans of star (and Tony-winner) Richard Griffiths, particularly if they know him as the lovable (?) pervert in Withnail & I.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Broadway backers who figure there's nowhere for the play to go but down. Broadway non-backers who are frightened to their bones because they think it's a musical. Hytner agnostics who find reason to worry when they catch his adaptation of The Crucible on HBO.
Why I'd See It: On the surface, it doesn't seem like the usual Dead Poets ripoff, and enough people seem to have enjoyed it. I'm nothing if not a follower of the crowd.

Movie: Inland Empire (David Lynch)
High-Concept Synopsis: This is the synopsis: "A woman gets mixed up in a mystery landing her in trouble in the Inland Empire near Los Angeles." Which could be any David Lynch movie, really. This one stars the Lynch all-star team of Laura Dern, Justin Theroux, and Harry Dean Stanton.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Lynch fans, Lynch fans, and more Lynch fans. Who else sees his movies?
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Fans of linear filmmaking; digital video haters, since this movie was apparently filmed on the cheap; and Kyle McLachlan, who is too busy enjoying being a Desperate Househusband to worry about going back to his Lynchian roots.
Why I'd See It: Whatever you can say about Lynch, his films are always worth a look. And sometimes you end up with a Mulholland Dr., still one of my favorite movies of the decade.

Movie: The Good German (Steven Soderbergh)
High-Concept Synopsis: Highly stylized black-and-white political thriller set in post-WWII Berlin and starring George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, and Tobey Maguire.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Soderbergh fans, who have got to be psyched that he's made one of his periodic decisions to start making good movies again. Black-and-white fetishists who still insist it's the only acceptable way to view a talkie. Germans, happy to see the word "good" associated with them again.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Soderbergh fans who, regardless, aren't quite convinced this won't be another Full Frontal. Bitter Casablanca fans, who will see the object of their affection clearly referenced in the film's poster. Audiences who simply don't have the energy to put up with another round of George Clooney's Carnivale of Unassailable Charm.
Why I'd See It: When Soderbergh's feeling it, he's not to be missed. And if the film's trailer -- among the best of the year -- is anything to go by, this should be something.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Good News

So it looks like NBC has decided to round up it's four top comedies for Thursday nights again. My Name Is Earl, The Office, Scrubs, and 30 Rock will air back-to-back (to-back-to-back). That may not end up being a ratings juggernaut, but I'll certainly be watching. It also gives 30 Rock its best chance to survive, and since I think it's a pretty promising show, that's a good thing. The state of network sitcoms is sorry, indeed, but these four are certainly the cream of the crop. Plus it's nice to see the old NBC Thursday comedy block back in place. The proud tradition of Wings and The Single Guy lives on!

Project Runway Creating Master Race

Nina Garcia's having a baby, you guys!

Clearly, there is a joint effort underway by Bravo and the New York fashion community to birth a master race of fabulously glamorous and delightfully bitchy infants who will one day battle Hollywood's army of Namibian adoptees for control of the universe.

And only my girl Nina could come up with a quote like this: "This baby must have some amazing fashion sense, waiting until empire waists and volume came back into fashion." God love her. She says her 8-months-pregnant self will still attend New York fashion week in February, so I want pictures, dammit!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

How I Spent My Week and a Half

So last Thursday, I'm watching Grey's Anatomy.

...Wait! It gets better. So I'm watching Grey's and my Dad -- preparing to skip town with my Mom and visit my brother -- tells me that the fence blew down in the backyard. Because that was the worst thing that had happened that night so far. "You're not going to blow off your trip to fix the fence," I say. "The fence??" he says, "Have you looked outside yet?"

You know, for all the shit Buffalo takes about our winters, Octobers is usually quite pleasant. So when a little afternoon hail turns into big sloppy flakes of lake-effect piling up a foot high on the ground, it's kind of disheartening. I took my camera outside to snap some pics to post on the blog, mostly so Aaron Cameron can have the satisfaction of yet another Joe Reid Bitches About the Weather post to tide him over until Thanksgiving. You can't see much in the pics, but that wasn't where the real story was at anyway. The real fun came from standing outside and listening to what sounded like firecrackers being set off all across the neighborhood. That was the sound of tree limbs breaking from the weight of the snow and not-yet-fallen leaves.

Remember that scene in The Blair Witch Project where you can hear the vague clacking and crackling off in the near distance, and the annoying girl is all "Can you hear it? It's all around us..."? That's exactly what it sounded like. It was pretty much the coolest thing I'd ever seen (heard, really) Mother Nature do, and even though the giant and heavy snowflakes were quite literally clogging up my eyes so I couldn't see, I wanted to stay outside and keep listening to the Blair Witch cracking branches all around me. It was amazing...right up until the big branch two doors down broke off and took out a power line on its way down. With a big blue flash of "ZZZZZT!" things got less fun.

The rest of that night was spent under cover of the front porch, listening to dozens upon dozens of branches crackle and fall, watching a few more power lines flash disconcertingly blue, hearing the giant "THUMP" of the big-ass maple in the back yard depositing two giant sections of tree onto the back of the house, and taking our own wild guesses as to how long the power was going to be out for. Through the weekend? God, that would suck. I'm pretty sure the Kahlua was busted out before midnight. Hey, that milk in the fridge was gonna go bad anyway, right?

The snow wound up melting within a day, running off into defenseless basements all over Western New York. Estimates as to how soon the juice would be out for kept getting pushed back. Monday, then Tuesday, then through the next weekend. People on the street bought generators, which hummed obnoxiously all day. I tried to take advantage of as much daylight as I could to read (Bill Carter's Desperate Networks, which flew by), saving up all my Yahtzee-playing and radio-listening for the nighttime. I started waking up with the sun like I lived on a farm. On Friday, I tried to book a hotel room downtown, but the soonest vacancy was Sunday. I took it and liked it.

Ultimately, I couldn't help but feel a little embarassed at how a week without cable or internet was turning me into Jack Torrance in The Shining. Though it did make me feel better to note that I was hardly the only one. It's not like we hadn't been snowed in before. But snowed in with electricity and cable is like a fun vacation. That's when you bust out the DVDs and the Balderdash and the canned soup and have yourself a weekend. Stranded without power just translates to peanut butter sandwiches by candlelight, huddled around a radio. We looked like the Little Women waiting for Papa to come home from the war.

By Monday, I got rescued, swept up into the bosom of Ontario where there were cheeseburgers, and wireless internet, and America's Next Top Model. By Saturday, the Time Warner people came by and made it all better again. Then the Allstate people came by and really made it better again. Then I had to watch Jeffrey win Project Runway, just to make things all ironic and shit.

But anyway: back! Sidebar updated. Bloggyness to come.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Downside to Living as a Punchline

Hey, did you hear the one about Buffalo and the snow? Well SHUT UP if you did. I'm at a hotel right now. No electricity at home, it's supposed to come back some time this week. SOME TIME! Hillary Clinton was a block away from my house yesterday. FEMA may be giving me money at some point. The Bills are driving. The Sabres are kicking ass. I still haven't seen The Departed. I might miss the Project Runway finale. I had to bail out on my Studio 60 recap.

The upshot is, don't expect any blogging this week. Comments will get published by the grace of God. Kiss your televisions for me.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The One Where Drinking Is Way Worse Than Doing Coke

Danny looks at the Big Board and says that he sees one political sketch, at the 12:55 (i.e. "garbage") slot. Then he tough-loves/taunts Matt about being a "pussy boy." The FCC is so weird, man. "Pussy boy" sounds so much weirder and more graphic than straight-up "pussy." ("Straight-Up Pussy," by the way, was the name of Vinny Pastore's law-abiding brother on The Sopranos before Bruno Kirby bowed out of the role.)
Believe it or not, I do like the show. I'd like like it to contian 20% more Danny taking a knee to the scrotum, is all. Anyway, check out the recap for "The Focus Group."

National Coming Out Day

Look, I know I haven't been posting much lately, and that when I have been, I've been posting about sports which, judging by my stats and the dearth of comments, is not a subject that the majority of readers passing through here find all that facinating. I'm not going to promise to lay off the butchier subjects -- the variety and complexity of my many shallow interests will all be on vulgar display here so long as I can help it -- but I do hope when I get back to, let's say, frillier pursuits, y'all will still be around to read and comment.

As for today: it's National Coming Out Day, which I think we should all recognize and support, of course. I feel kind of queasy trumpeting National Coming Out Day considering how long it took me to drag myself out into these glorious open spaces. Today, I think I'll give a shout out to those out high schoolers and teenagers who have the balls to do what some cannot. I admire the hell out of that.

On the utterly and completely other end of that spectrum, can we start up some sort of holiday to encourage certain famous, rumor-dogged Scientologists to stay in the closet for as long as humanly possible? Would that be un-PC? I suppose that's not in the full spirit of the day, huh? Seriously, though, Kelly Preston. You're doing the Lord's work.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Smooth Joe Appollo's NFL Picks: Week 5

Week 4 results:

Joe: 7-7
Aaron: 11-3

Season to date:

Joe: 38-22
Aaron: 34-26

Buffalo at Chicago
Aaron: I trust everyone saw what the Bears did to an actual NFL team last week? That's right, Bills...after coming through for me last week, I'm dumping you for the football equivalent of the leggy blonde secretary. (Sorry, Mathan) Pick: Chicago

Joe: Yeah, I may be feeling better about my boys, but Chicago is looking scary. I'm just hoping for no injuries for the Bills, frankly. This could get ugly and quick. Pick: Chicago

Cleveland at Carolina
Aaron: The Browns had to fight like hell to beat a miserable Raiders squad last week and Carolina still has a pulse. Weren't the Panthers supposed to win the Super Bowl back in August? Pick: Carolina

Joe: Every game is close for the Browns, or so it seems. Unless Carolina's offense really has gotten back on track, this could be a far tougher game than maybe they're expecting. Pick: Carolina

Detroit at Minnesota
Aaron: Since Minnesota's local baseball team has nothing to do on Sunday, they should swing by the Dome and say 'hi'. And, someone tell Brad Johnson not to trip over Torii Hunter if he's forced out of the pocket. Pick: Minnesota

Joe: Aw, look at 'im. Making baseball boasts in October. He hasn't had much practice, you guys, so let's give him some room. Pick: Detroit

Miami at New England
Aaron: Nice. The Pats have Miami, Buffalo and Minnesota with a bye thrown in over the next four weeks. This schedule is all that's keeping Bill Simmons alive, y'know. Pick: New England

Joe: That schedule, plus the taxing mental gymnastics of watching Lost, apparently. Looks like Laurence Maroney is Massachusettes's next David Ortiz. He'd better start working on whining for the MVP award now, I'd say. Pick: New England

St. Louis at Green Bay
Aaron: Brett Favre's about due for one of those ridiculous 30-49, 399 yard, 5 TD games that fools the press into thinking he's "back". And, yes, I am playing against him this week in fantasy football. It's like he knows. Pick: Green Bay

Joe: The funny thing is he could actually go for 399 yards and 5 TDs and still lose. Godwilling. Pick: St. Louis

Tampa Bay at New Orleans
Aaron: Is Bruce Gradkowski really Tampa's QB now? With a name like that he should be wearing short-sleeved dress shirts, clip on ties and washed-too-many-times Dockers that were once black, but are now gray-black. Oh, go rent "Falling Down", you'll get it then. Pick: New Orleans

Joe: Underrated candidate for "funniest line in a sports article" this year: "[Chris Simms] took several hard hits during the game. It's not clear which one ruptured his spleen." Take a bow, Buccaneers offensive line. Still? They probably have to win sometime, right? Not this week. Pick: New Orleans

Tennessee at Indianapolis
Aaron: Last I checked, the Colts were favored by as many as 20 points vs. the Titans. That alone should get the Titans kicked out of the league. Ditto for the Colts if they can't cover. Pick: Indianapolis

Joe: I keep getting weird feelings about this year's Colts. They keep winning, but there's no oomph behind most of those wins. If they can't manage to score six TDs at home against the Titans, I'd start becoming concerned. Pick: Indianapolis

Washington at N.Y. Giants
Aaron: Might as well throw in an upset special. NYG has all the makings of a team that is ripe for collapse: dissension, insubordination...OK, that's all I can think of. But, isn't that enough? Pick: Washington

Joe: I'm not sure after last week if Washington beating the Giants would be an upset, so I will also pick the upset special. Pick: NY Giants

Kansas City at Arizona
Aaron: Is there anything funnier than 'Zona fans making demands on who should QB this team? The Cards played in front of 30% stadium capacity for 20 years, until their new dome opened last month. I say bring back Jake Plummer just to spite 'em. Pick: Arizona

Joe: I vote for Neil Lomax, but sure. I'm other news, for a team that just won by a 41-0 margin, nobody seems to like these guys at all. Take away the winning part and they'd be Alex Rodriguez. Kill me. Pick: Kansas City

N.Y. Jets at Jacksonville
Aaron: OK, it's been four years. I don't think that swelling in Byron Leftwich's face is ever going down. I just hope that whoever hit him with that cinder block burns in hell. Pick: Jacksonville

Joe: When did it all of a sudden become okay to hyphenate your own name? Maurice Jones-Drew for the Jags is doing it. So is London Fletcher-Baker of the Bills. Is this the natural extension of the first-initial-plus-first-syllable-of-last-name thing? Are they the most liberated feminists of all time? The mystery goes on... Pick: Jacksonville

Oakland at San Francisco
Aaron: I've gotta do it. Just once. Pick: Oakland

Joe: Godspeed, you brave little toaster. Pick: San Francisco

Dallas at Philadelphia
Aaron: The only thing worse than the hours n' hours of coverage that this meaningless mid-season game has already accrued is the fact that it'll be even worse when they meet later this season in Dallas. Especially, since...Pick: Dallas

Joe: Oh come on -- there were news reports about whether Donovan McNabb did or did not text message T.O. after he tried to kill himself mistook painkillers for Reese's Pieces. I'll take that over yet another "platoon running attacks are ruining fantasy football" article. Pick: Philadelphia

Pittsburgh at San Diego
Aaron: Count me as one of those who's enjoying the Roethlisberger struggles this year. Take an average QB in a good system and have *everything* go right from Dec. '05 to Jan. '06 and you've got Big Ben. Pick: San Diego

Joe: I'm enjoying the Roethlisberger schadenfreude more now that those "Fat Head" commercials have invaded my late-night infomercial time slots. Maybe this week Tomlinson can go back to scoring touchdowns. I'd very much like that. Pick: San Diego

Baltimore at Denver
Aaron: Last week, the wife 'n' I were watching the Ravens/Chargers game. She didn't know Steve McNair was now the Baltimore QB. She then asked me what other teams still have Black starting QBs. Do white couples have the same Sunday Q&A or did I just luck out and marry Spike Lee's sister, Joie? Pick: Denver

Joe: I love how one good drive gives McNair the Brett Favre treatment for the week. We were WRONG to count him out! I'm picking this game on the "they gotta lose sometime" theory, which is seldom a good one, but whatever. Pick: Denver

Monday, October 02, 2006

The One Where Chandler's a Whoremonger

Harriet says that Jesus must've been funny to have gotten so many people to listen to him. I think after living a sexless life spent pretty much walking all day, followed by a torturous death, it's probably asking a bit much for Jesus to be all funny about it. "Hey, how's it hangin', me? Ah ha ha! I kill me. Literally! Gimmie three days, and I'll be here all week, folks. Try the loaves and fishes."
Yes, it's the latest Studio 60 recap. Watch me spend 15 pages not being able to come up with a decent Pirates of Penzance pun. Grr!