Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Watchmen Book Club - Chapter X

[Let's try for a big finish, you guys, how 'bout it?]

Chapter X: Two Riders Were Approaching

Lots -- LOTS -- happening this chapter. Nixon heads for a secure location. The world stands on the brink of Armageddon. Things in the "Black Freighter" comic take a turn towards the murderously insane. Max Shea and everybody else on that mysterious island get blown to kingdom come.

But the most important thing that happens is that Dan and Rorschach thing they've uncovered the man behind the mask-killing plot, and it's Adrian Veidt. DUDE.

Anyway, my notes:

-- Getting a look around Veidt's Antarctic fortress has been one of my very favorite parts of the book. Love it so much. The mixture of the technological and the regal is so perfectly Ozymandias. Also loved Adrian reading the TV screen like tea leaves -- and coming out with such bizarre ideas (invest in the sex industry!) that are undoubtedly correct. And if you think I'm not taking notes so as to weather this current financial crisis, you're crazy. THE MAN LIVES IN AN ANTARCTIC PALACE! He clearly knows what he's doing.

-- Rorschach is all over the place this chapter. We see his moment of utmost cruelty (outing his whore neighbor in front of her kids), uncomfortably "comforting" Dan after Dan has a rare Rorschach moment of brutal honesty, and then offering some unexpected respect for Veidt by saying he "could not imagine a more dangerous opponent."

Dan's arctic owl parka might rival Rorschach's mask for my favorite superhero costume in this book.

Anyway, get to discussing. Were you expecting the story to take the turns it did in this chapter? Where do you think the next two chapters will take us? What about showing Nixon for all of three pages?

His Brisket Is Beyond!

The Great Schlep from The Great Schlep on Vimeo.

Word, lady.

Anticipatory Goodness

Excellent post on My New Plaid Pants looking at the movies he's most excited for as the year draws into its final quarter. Back when I used to write for 411 mania, I'd do about three of these columns a year, as the movies I would look forward to most would shift and change as the year went on. Here's where my list stands now, in order of most anticipated:

1 - Milk (Gus Van Sant)
2 - Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme)
3 - Zack and Miri Make a Porno (Kevin Smith)
4 - Australia (Baz Luhrman)
5 - Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (Peter Sollett)
6 - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher)
7 - The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky)
8 - The Brothers Bloom (Rian Johnson)
9 - Doubt (John Patrick Shanley)
10 - Synecdoche, NY (Charlie Kaufman)

Looking at that list, four of those movies (numbers 2, 3, 5, and 7) were totally not there at the beginning of the year. While more good-on-paper movies like Revolutionary Road and Frost/Nixon have fallen by the wayside, I'm suddenly falling back in love with Jonathan Demme and Kevin Smith. It's a good feeling.

I'm more bullish on Australia now than I was before, while I'm slightly less so on Benjamin Button (for no good reason -- it can't be that bullshitty "bad buzz" that greeted those few clips; am I creeped out by Old Baby Brad Pitt?). Milk has been my number-one movie all year, and that has only been amplified by a stellar trailer and awesome word of mouth.

And yes, I do realize that my list is dominated by weirdo auteurs who have been embraced by the middlebrow film snob community and whose movies tend to make their partisans feel better about their own intelligence simply by virtue of the fact that the mainstream doesn't fully embrace them. I am well aware.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Trailer Trash Tuesday

So I broke my movie drought of the last four weeks or so (besides The Midnight Meat Train, the last movie I saw in a theater before this weekend was Pineapple Express. If you know me, you know how weird that is). As with every semi-regular feature on the blog, Trailer Trash has been absent for the last several weeks. To make up for it, I'm bringing it back with a vengeance. Here are all the pertinent trailers I saw as I finally re-introduced myself to the movies this weekend.


I can't believe I haven't said a word about this movie in the month or so since this trailer premiered. There is no 2008 movie I am looking forward to more than this. I'd already been awful bullish on the prospect -- the combination of subject matter, director, and cast has always seemed ideal -- but this clip put me over the edge. Beautifully constructed, touching just enough on the story without giving it away. I love how it borrows from the Angels in America soundtrack as kind of a secret code (is Gus Van Sant wants to walk in Tony Kushner's footsteps, I will gladly follow him). The glimpses of the cast are where I'm really jazzed. Be prepared for the "Sean Penn IS Harvey Milk" raves, because...it sure seems that way. James Franco's gonna get nominated for an Oscar. Allison Pill is my new favorite actress I've never seen in anything besides Dan in Real Life. The way Josh Brolin says "incorrigibles." The way Diego Luna struts across the screen. The way Emile Hirsch delivers that "I don't do losing" line. I need to see this movie NOW.

Revolutionary Road

They ran this trailer Sunday night during Mad Men, which makes total sense given the similarities in subject matter, but maybe isn't so great an idea if the viewers are paying attention. Because with the '50s aesthetic, and the unhappy marriage, and the smoking, and the fedoras, this movie looks a lot like Mad Men...only if everyone on Mad Men articulated their every thought and emotion all the time instead of acting like the repressed and emotionally inarticulate people they are. I'm not sayingRevolutionary Road can't make it work, but all the "I'm feeling suffocated by the trappings of post-war American society as manifest in suburbia!" stuff concentrated into one hundred and forty seconds seems too on the nose. I'm sure Leo and Kate are phenomenal, though.


For whatever weird reason known only to the darker recesses of my disturbed brain, I'd been resisting this movie as it came down the development pike. I don't know why. I like Baz Luhrman. I like Nicole Kidman and I quite like Hugh Jackman. But I always thought the enthusiasm for this movie outweighed its real value. This trailer has me almost entirely turned around. I love the idea of Luhrman doing Gone with the Wind, and if all else fails, this is going to be an incredibly interesting film to look at. The only thing holding me back, and I don't care how shallow it makes me seem, is that I don't know how I'm going to be able to take looking at the kabuki mask that is Nicole Kidman's face for 2+ hours. This has been coming for a while, but it's definitely the worst it's ever been. She can barely speak.

Quantum of Solace

I take perverse joy watching the Bond fans squirm at any violation of whatever they think is sacred about this, the dumbest movie franchise of all time. Even Casino Royale, which I enjoyed fairly well, was a spectacularly stupid movie. So the idea that this movie is transgressing by having Bond actually remember the events of the last movie is like...transgressing what precisely? Anyway, as for this trailer...you know, Daniel Craig looks good moving around and talking. What else can you say? It's not like you have to sell anyone on this movie; hence the title, that gloriously "who gives a shit?" title. I love that. It's a James Bond movie. They could call it "My Ass" and it'd draw the same audience (and, to be honest, probably some other people).

The Secret Life of Bees

On paper, this movie sounds awful. The worst kind of Oprah's Book Club hookum where the ladies dance around the kitchen to soul classics and the little white girl shows them the way. But from what I've seen in this trailer, the execution might not be half bad. I don't know, maybe I'm just being soft, but this looks far less histrionic and more honestly emotional than its blueprint calls for. Dakota Fanning -- of whom I am decidedly not a fan -- looks really good, and not just as a precocious tot.

The Soloist

Much like The Secret Life of Bees, this one looks like it should be terrible on paper; the worst kind of manipulative drivel. But what I'm seeing here gives me a bit of hope that Joe Wright, Robert Downey Jr., and yes, even Jamie Foxx are approaching this material honestly. Yeah, it's probably still awards-baiting, but now I think there's a chance that it won't be shamelessly so. (Seriously, am I just a Robert Downey Jr. mark or does he look awesome yet again?)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Smooth Joey Apollo's 2008 NFL Picks, Week 3

Last Week:
Aaron: 13-3 (0-1 vs. the spread)
Joe: 9-7 (0-1 vs. the spread)

Season To Date
Aaron: 31-16 (0-3 vs. the spread)
Joe: 30-17 (2-1 vs. the spread)

Atlanta at Carolina
Aaron: The Falcons are 2-0 at home against teams with Charmin-soft defenses. Here the Panthers are at home with a defense more like motel toilet paper. Scratchy. Pick: Carolina

Joe: This is kind of cool. Usually it takes me half a season to find my pick them at home, avoid on the road team. Thanks, Atlanta! Though please fall behind early and throw the ball to Roddy White a lot. Thanks! Pick: Carolina

Arizona at N.Y. Jets
Aaron: The "big news" out of Monday night's Jets' loss was that Brett Favre sustained an ankle injury and was now walking with a slight limp. As opposed to the last several seasons when his gait was consistently sure and steady like any other 80-year-old. Pick: Arizona

Joe: Speaking of 80-year-olds and Arizona, here's where I should be crafting a tight, smart little joke involving Brett Favre and the words "suspend his campaign." But then yesterday I met a woman on the street who gave me a bracelet, and ... ah, hell. Never mind. Pick: Arizona

Cleveland at Cincinnati
Aaron: The Bengals played with some season-saving urgency last week vs. the Giants, while the Browns continued to prove me right regarding their fluky fluktitude from last season. You keep right on believing in 'em, Joe. Pick: Cincinnati

Joe: I don't have the first idea what you're talking about. Pick: Cincinnati

Minnesota at Tennessee
Aaron: Kerry Collins is a perfectly serviceable quarterback who is capable of keeping his team competitive in the early going. The Vikings D is known to kill serviceable QBs and eat their young. Pick: Minnesota

Joe: I love the idea that people are talking themselves into the Titans as a viable Super Bowl contender. Love that. I'm not saying the Bills are (because, you know, they're not), but it's weird that people think Tennessee isn't in the exact same boat. They are. Pick: Minnesota

Green Bay at Tampa Bay
Aaron: The Pack was certain for a brief in-season swoon at some point, so it might as well be now. With any luck the Mets will snatch the NL wildcard from the Brewers on the same day, sending Wisconsin into the kind of depression that Mets fans will feel a week from now. Pick: Tampa Bay

Joe: Brian Griese can throw 100 passes this week if he wants to, but that suddenly-crappy running game and a Packers team that can score enough on a tough Bucs D will add up to nothing good. Pick: Green Bay

San Francisco at New Orleans
Aaron: The Saints' defense is populated with more bloated, decomposing corpses than their wide receiver corps. Bet'cha thought I was going for the tired streets of New Orleans/Katrina reference there, eh? Wait, I guess I just did. Timely. Pick: New Orleans

Joe: I'm really tempted to go with the Niners here against a depleted Saints team. But 3-1 seems a bit much for JT O'Sullivan and the Little People (quake in fear, Berman), and Reggie Bush is suddenly looking scary again (I doubt it's a coincidence that Horseface Kardashian has been sequestered on Dancing with the Stars for the last few weeks). Pick: New Orleans

Houston at Jacksonville
Aaron: The primary difference between the Matt Schaub era and the David Carr era in Houston? There were never any red squiggly lines under Carr's last name when I typed it into MS Word over the years. Pick: Jacksonville

Joe: Really disappointed in this Texans team. I thought they had more self-respect than this. I really did. No, no, Matt Schaub, don't apologize to me. You're gonna have to apologize to yourself. Pick: Jacksonville

Denver at Kansas City
Aaron: It says a lot about how much Larry Johnson's skills have eroded that the Chiefs have more faith in the miserable arm of JV QB Tyler Thigpen, than LJ's decaying legs. Pick: Denver

Joe: Denver's a weird team, man. I can't remember the last team that was both legitimately frightening in a "crap, I see they're on the Bills' schedule" way and yet also have absolutely no business not being 1-2 instead of 3-0. Which means they'll only beat KC by, like 10. Pick: Denver

Buffalo at St. Louis
Aaron: In his ESPN.com column this week, Bill Simmons challenged Bills fans to prove the locals support their team in the face of relocations rumors. Mr. Reid, your move. Pick: Buffalo

Joe: Don't make Buffalonians spell out "Go Bills" in roast beef sandwiches along the 90, Bill. They'll do it, and it'll be crazy unsanitary. But seriously, I'm extremely biased, but that was the bullshittiest thing I've seen written on the internet in quite a while. The whole internet. First of all, Toronto is a terrible market for anything but hockey and Bill knows that but he's being disingenuous to suit his point. Second, since when has Mr. "I Write From the Fan's Perspective" decided to take up the cause of franchises moving for greener financial pastures and fucking over good and enthusiastic fans? And third of all, if he mentions Vincent Gallo in relation to Buffalo again, I'm going to fly out to L.A. and rip out his nasally vocal cords. Our signature local celebrity is Chad Michael Murray, okay? That shit was intra-divisional bitterness from a crybaby Pats fan, nothing more. Pick: Buffalo

San Diego at Oakland
Aaron: The Raiders got dismantled by a good Denver team, spanked the awful Chiefs and had the Bills on the ropes last week before the Oakland defense caught an earlier flight home with four minutes to go in the game. The thought of San Diego's offense against my team's D is…not finna be pretty. Pick: San Diego

Joe: I hear LT does well, historically, against the Raiders. Sounds like a good idea. Pick: San Diego

Washington at Dallas
Aaron: I don't happen to think Tony Romo is a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback yet, but I'm reasonably sure he's a "beat the Redskins at home-caliber" quarterback. Pick: Dallas

Joe: I don't mean, to harp, but if Tony Romo isn't a Super Bowl-caliber QB, then who is? Hell, Eli Manning is a Super Bowl-caliber QB. And I hear he's TERRIBLE. Look, I don't like the fact that Jerry Jones is positioned to get to another Super Bowl any better than anyone else (much less with Bubba Gump as his head coach), but the Cowboys are fuckin' good. They just are. Pick: Dallas

Philadelphia at Chicago
Aaron: Donovan McNabb has taken some ferocious hits in the first three weeks and now Brian Westbrook is nicked up, too. Looking back, I see that I've made a lot of screwy picks this week, so I'll take the Eagles, but this stinks of the Bears winning a field goal fest. Pick: Philadelphia

Joe: Don't think you can fool me into backing Kyle Orton that easily. Pick: Philadelphia

Baltimore at Pittsburgh
Aaron: An uninspired win against Cleveland and a loss to the Eagles has turned the Steelers from "AFC Champion" to "also-ran" in the eyes of the always-reputable sports media. Screw you, Mike Lupica… Pick: Pittsburgh

Joe: Losing Willie Parker hurts. Maybe while he's on the sidelines this week he can undertake an investigation as to the whereabouts of Santonio Holmes. Pick: Pittsburgh

The Sure Thing Suicide Spread

San Diego Chargers (-7) at Oakland Raiders

Buffalo at St. Louis (+8.5) (the spread last week was too much at home, and it's too much again on the road; we're still trying to be plucky underdogs, Vegas, damn!)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dear Sweet Jesus

So, as happens sometimes, I wandered down the YouTube rabbit hole tonight, this time browsing various Tori Amos live performances and covers. I may not be the total freak for her like I used to be, but it's still incredibly easy to fall back into her music, you know? It's so sensory and lush and bizarre.

Which leads me to the following clip, obviously from a Blender interview not too long ago. It gives Tori the opportunity to pontificate on Britney Spears's "Toxic." It is perhaps the greatest thing I've seen in my entire life. (NSFW, hilariously so.)

For one thing, it's probably the most folksy Tori's ever been in her entire life. She's not talking like she's in the midst of an ether haze; she could be down at the corner bar. But the words...dear god the words. She literally -- LITERALLY -- goes from talking about "the feminine blood record" to "you can't have Tampax for a hot song." It boggles the mind. The greatest thing of all, I think, is that the word "toxic" automatically makes her think of "toxic shock syndrome." Like, how could there possibly any other non-vaginal meaning to that word? There couldn't!

Anyway, this is what I'll be watching to cheer me up for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

So Who's The Last Person On the Planet You'd Ever Want to Randomly Run Into?

If you said Chris Hanson from Dateline's "To Catch a Predator," you would be correct.

Thank God it was on the B train and not, you know, in my kitchen. And yet, even still, just seeing the guy made me paranoid for absolutely no good reason. "Now, I don't think I've arranged to meet and have sex with any underage boys today. ...But I have been known to sleepwalk now and then." I bet he does that to people all the time. If he'd have produced a glass of iced tea, there's no telling what I'd have confessed to.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Midnight Ho Train

So I saw The Midnight Meat Train at, appropriately, a midnight showing over he weekend, and it was...pretty crappy, actually. It had its moments, but none of it hung together, some of the terror scenes were kind of ineptly filmed, and Bradley Cooper and Leslie Bibb -- God love 'em both -- were terrible.

Jason at MNPP does the movie better justice, such as it is, better than I can, but I do have to chime in and give a lil' shout-out to Brooke Shields, who plays Cooper's uber-stereotypical art-dealer boss, all slinky appraisals and aggressive come-ons and career-crushing dismissiveness. Shields plays the character with a mixture of poor technique and high enthusiasm that recalls the best work of one Demi Moore. It's that good.

In a movie that doesn't seem to know where it's going for most of the time, Brooke's character couldn't be more predictable. From the second she follows her half-pound of eye makeup into frame, you know her hand is going to end up on Bradley Cooper's crotch. And when it does, it's a lot like getting that first fun-size Milky Way on Halloween. It's never a surprise, really -- it's Halloween, this is how it's supposed to happen. But on the other hand, who's gonna turn down a fun-size Milky Way?

For as meagerly entertaining as Meat Train was, it wouldn't be half that without Brooke Shields. You go, Suddenly Susan.

2008 Fall Movie Preview, Part 2

[Previously: Part 1]

Movie: Miracle at St. Anna (Spike Lee)
High-Concept Synopsis: The story, told in flashback, about four black soldiers in WWII who ended up behind enemy lines in Italy. Also something about children and a priceless statue. Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Spike Lee fans who got super excited when he made the stellar 25th Hour in 2002 and have been waiting for a non-documentary to reach that level of quality ever since. WWII buffs who aren't totally racist. Easily fooled Catholics.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Crusty old Clint Eastwood and others who think Spike should shut the fuck up about never seeing any movies about black soldiers in WWII.
Why I'd See It: It doesn't happen every time, but a well-made and thought-provoking Spike Lee movie is one of the more invigorating things you can see at a theater. Plus, despite what looks like a thankless role, I get a chance to further my JGL devotion. September 26

Movie: Nights in Rodanthe (George C. Wolfe)
High-Concept Synopsis: Diane Lane and Richard Gere meet at a structurally-dubious Oceanside inn and become each other's last chance at love or something something. James Franco, Viola Davis, and Christopher Meloni co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Hey, it's those women who I keep hearing like to see movies! Everybody who went to see The Notebook. Everybody who went to see Lane and Gere in Unfaithful.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Hey, it's those men who are being catered to with every other movie playing! Everybody who only went to see The Notebook for Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. Everybody who only went to see Unfaithful for naked Olivier Martinez.
Why I'd See It: Oy. Middle-to-late age love stories are so not aimed for my demographic. Plus, those ads are getting that whiny Gavin Rossdale song stuck in my head. Love you from 1996, Gavin, but...no. September 26

Movie: The Lucky Ones (Neil Burger)
High-Concept Synopsis: Three soldiers home from Iraq -- Rachel McAdams, Tim Robbins, Michael Peña -- embark upon a road trip that is hopefully not as silly as the trailer appears to suggest.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the talented cast. Fans of director Neil Burger, who made a splash in 2006 with The Illusionist. Those of us who refuse to give up on the idea that people will want to start paying attention to this God forsaken war and what it's doing to more than one generation of Americans.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who still don't want to hear about it, LA LA LA LA LA! People who saw the trailer and were disappointed by the sitcommy tone. Anyone who's been following Robbins's recent career trajectory, from an overrated Mystic River performance to an embarrassing turn in War of the Worlds, and are kind of afraid to see where it will all bottom out.
Why I'd See It: On paper, it looks fantastic. The iffy trailer gives me some pause, but I'm still more than willing to give the actual movie a go. September 26

Movie: Choke (Clark Gregg)
High-Concept Synopsis: Sam Rockwell plays a sex addict who works at Colonial Williamsburg and runs a con that hinges on him intentionally choking in restaurants on the side. Seems like a peach. Anjelica Huston plays his addled mother while Kelly MacDonald the girl he may want to do more than just have sex with.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Chuck Palahniuk's brutally cynical (I'm assuming here) novel of the same name. Moviegoers who saw the trailer -- maybe the funniest for any fall movie. Fans of the accomplished yet still underused cast.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People offended by the often raunchy promotional materials (the man-swallowing-woman poster is one thing, the thrust-heavy red-band trailer is quite another). Palahniuk fans who worry that actor/director/Hey! It's That Guy ClarkGregg won't be able to do for Choke what Fincher did for Fight Club. The tracheally sensitive among us.
Why I'd See It: I was lukewarm on this movie until I saw the trailer, which is fall-out hilarious. Then I remembered that I love Sam Rockwell and Kelly MacDonald and this suddenly shot up to the top of my most-anticipated list. September 26

Movie: Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme)
High-Concept Synopsis: Black sheep Anne Hathaway returns to the family fold for her sister's wedding. Drunken barbs and recriminations follow. Debra Winger, Bill Irwin, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Anna Deveare Smith co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Anne Hathaway fans, who have more reason to be bullish on her than ever. People who remember what a good Jonathan Demme movie used to look like. Folks following the very good buzz coming out of the festival circuit.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who aren't down with familial discord and white suburban angst as feel-good entertainment. People who prefer Hathaway when she's not rocking the Kohl-eyed dark-and-conflicted look. Everybody Debra Winger's ever cursed out on a movie set before.
Why I'd See It: The concept and trailer were both right up my alley, and that was before all the rapturous buzz started trickling in. If this is where Anne Hathaway becomes Academy Award-nominee Anne Hathaway, I want in on the ground floor. October 3

Movie: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (Peter Sollett)
High-Concept Synopsis: Michael Cera and Kat Dennings meet cute in a New York City indie rock club and spend one of those life-changing endless nights that movies tend to do so well.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Peter Sollett's Raising Victor Vargas, which was a well-received but minimally marketed indie. People who saw the trailer once and immediately fell in love with Cera and Dennings. Fans of New York City geography porn.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who have placed this as the heir apparent to hipster-friendly fake-indie fare like Juno. People for whom Cera's bewildered-puppy act is getting predictable. Luddite snobs who object to a newfangled concept like a "playlist" achieving cultural hegemony.
Why I'd See It: The concept and title did seem like it could have erred on the side of preciousness or overly-calculated, but if the trailer is any indication, they got it right. Reading about the specificity the filmmakers brought to the downtown-Manhattan setting reminded me a bit of Dazed and Confused. Which, yeah, means my expectations are probably too high. Whatever, I'm psyched for this. October 3

Movie: Happy Go Lucky (Mike Leigh)
High-Concept Synopsis: "Irrepressibly free-spirited" Poppy (Sally Hawkins) threatens to steal your heart if she has to open your chest with her bare hands and tear it out with her enormous British teeth. Uh...And also tries to make it in a world gone mean, or something.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Mike Leigh fans, who have proven themselves loyal, intelligent, and resoundingly snobby. People following the Oscar buzz for Hawkins. People who respond well to movie studios threatening to bludgeon them over the head with plucky enthusiasm.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Glum people. Grim people. People who don't respond well to movie studios threatening to bludgeon them over the head with plucky enthusiasm.
Why I'd See It: After seeing the trailer, my initial reaction was revulsion, but since the movie does appear to be dealing with Poppy's violent cheerfulness as the entire point of the story (can Poppy's eternal optimism survive a world that insists on bringing her down?), I'm willing to at least give it a look. But I'm taking Advil into the theater with me. October 10

Movie: Quarantine (John Erick Dowdle)
High-Concept Synopsis: Locals news hacks accompany a fire company to a routine call and end up quarantined at the epicenter of a zombie breakout. Jennifer Carpenter, Jay Hernandez, and Jonathan Schaech co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the kind of first-person neo-horror that The Blair Witch Project did so well. Fans of director Dowdle's previous foray into found-video horror The Poughkeepsie Tapes OH RIGHT THAT NEVER GOT RELEASED. Fans of the idea of Hernandez and Schaech being quarantined in close quarters together...you know, for no reason in particular.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who saw the Spanish-language original, [Rec], and didn't care for it. People who saw [Rec], loved it, and are pissed that the marketing materials for Quarantine are totally giving away the farm. People annoyed by Carpenter as the difficult-to-like sister on Dexter.
Why I'd See It: A fun horror movie is a fun horror movie, but I feel that, having seen [Rec], there isn't much left to bring to a remake. October 10

Movie: Body of Lies (Ridley Scott)
High-Concept Synopsis: Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe play CIA operatives tasked with finding a terrorist leader in Jordan. Weirdo accents hinder their pursuit.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who actually will see a movie having to do with the War on Terror so long as you package it to look like the average cop drama on CBS. People who remember that it was Crowe who was the best part Scott's American Gangster last fall. Anyone who loved DiCaprio's last collaboration with screenwriter William Monahan, a quaint little overrated movie called The Departed.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who have caught wise to the cottage industry that is Shitty Movies Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott Make Together. Anyone who has seen the suck-ass trailer. Confused people thinking this is some weird re-issue/remake of Madonna's seminal take on the legal drama/Skinemax genre, Body of Evidence.
Why I'd See It: Only out of a sense of grim completism. I really don't like the Crowe/Scott oeuvre, and while I like Leo just fine, he's not enough to buy my ticket singlehandedly. October 10

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Quick Post-Emmys Thoughts

For the most part, I agree with what everyone has said (or will be saying tomorrow): painfully long show mostly due to the crappy decision to let the five reality nominees host. And just so I can get ahead of the curve: no, they didn't suck because reality shows suck, you silly silly reductive thinkers whose columns and blog posts I can already envision. It's because two of those five (Heidi Klum and Jeff Probst) don't host live events in front of audiences, two more (Howie Mandel and Ryan Seacrest) are painfully unfunny as a rule, and they didn't let the fifth one (Tom Bergeron) do the heavy lifting like they should have. It's was shitty decision making on the part of the producers, I'd say. And, while I do like to bag on Jeff Probst, I do have to say that his acceptance speech was self-aware and, dare I say, gracious. Or as gracious as one can be looking like a groomsman at 4 AM (put on a tie, d-bag).

That being said, speaking solely of the awards winners, this might have been the best Emmys of my lifetime. After starting off the evening inauspiciously with Jeremy Piven's excruciating third-straight win, pretty much every single acting winner was very respectable (Jean Smart, Glenn Close), often my personal choice for best in category -- for real, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Dianne Weist, Zjelko Ivanek, Mad Men, and 30 Rock all would have gotten my vote. Even the customary Super Shocking Upset, Bryan Cranston taking Best Actor from Jon Hamm and Hugh Laurie, was miles more deserved than your average James Spader win. Well done, Television Academy. Never thought I'd say that.

But the show itself really was bad. I have as much respect for Laugh-In as anyone born in 1980 can, but that shit was painful. No more painful than that mess with Josh Groban, of course. Or that godforsaken clusterfuck of a monologue. The Jimmy Kimmel reality show parody for the reality show host nominees would have been funnier had it not been at the 3-hour mark after the audience had built up so much animosity for those five people. As if Hollywood wasn't already filled to the brim with self-righteous hatred for reality TV.

Anyway, weird night. Good winners. Ricky Gervais was a life-saver. Laura Linney's shout out to community organizers was brilliant. Tiny Fey deserves every accolade she gets. One day Neil Patrick Harris will get his due. And the new TV season begins in earnest tonight. Heroes better goddamn well be good.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Smooth Joey Apollo's 2008 NFL Picks: Week 3

Last Week:
Aaron: 9-6 (0-1 vs. the spread)
Joe: 11-4 (1-0 vs. the spread)

Season To Date
Aaron: 18-13 (0-2 vs. the spread)
Joe: 21-10 (2-0 vs. the spread)

Arizona at Washington
Aaron: Damned if I'm not (shhh) rooting for Kurt Warner. And, considering I'm heading for that place "where where my soul will be chopped into confetti and strewn upon a parade of murderers and single mothers" that's high praise. Pick: Arizona

Joe: Oh, big deal, I've been drinking naught but burning hot cola for years. And much as Warner's continued success is hindering the professional development of Matty Angel Face, I've started to root for him too. Of course, it helps that both he and Anquan Boldin are on my fantasy team. On a related note: can they play the Dolphins every week? ...Damn. Pick: Arizona

Kansas City at Atlanta
Aaron: Last week, the Raiders ran for eleventy billion yards against KC and this week, one of my money-league fantasy backs gets that same Chiefs D-line. Excuse me for a moment...hot cha cha cha! Pick: Atlanta

Joe: It'd be nice if I could get a handle on this Atlanta team. Maybe they can help me out this week by being either really great (like they were against Detroit) or utterly inept (like they were against the Bucs). They can further help me out by getting the damn ball to Roddy White already. Pick: Atlanta

Oakland at Buffalo
Aaron: The Raiders one strength is negated as RBs Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden sustained injuries last week. On a personal note, I'd like to point out that the Raiders are 19-15 lifetime vs. the Bills, so kiss my Black ass, Joe Reid. Pick: Buffalo

Joe: I'm not saying anything. This giant smile on my face is for completely unrelated reasons, likely to do with gas. (And if I'm being honest, a loss to the Raiders now that everybody's gotten their hopes up would be way more devastating than if the Raiders were any good, so you should be able to hang your hat on that, Cam.) Pick: Buffalo

Tampa Bay at Chicago
Aaron: The Bucs run defense ensures that Bears QB Kyle Orton will have to throw the ball to win this game. I remain floored that he's fooled so many people into thinking he's a competent quarterback. Pick: Tampa Bay

Joe: My first inclination was to scoff at your West Coast Jaworski brand of analysis, but...yeah, pretty much. The Bucs D guarantees them 8-8 at worst this season. Pick: Tampa Bay

Carolina at Minnesota
Aaron: I welcome the Gus Frerotte era because (1) he's older than me and (2) he made a Pro Bowl?! I mean, I know that's not an exclusive honor, but...really?! Pick: Minnesota

Joe: I'm starting to think this Minnesota team is kinda crappy. Kinda really crappy. (And thus fulfills my contractual obligation to call the Vikings garbage at least once per season.) Pick: Carolina

Houston at Tennessee
Aaron: Even though I expected it, I am LOVING the media and talk-show callers framing the fragile emotional state of Vince Young and his possible thoughts of suicide in the context of "is this the guy we want leading our team?" Pick: Tennessee

Joe: Am I being overly optimistic in thinking that unexpected bye week might give the Texans a chance to re-boot their ill-begun season? ...On the road? Whatever, Tennessee's not THAT good. Pick: Houston

Cincinnati at N.Y. Giants
Aaron: Increasingly sh*tty Bengals QB Carson Palmer called out some of his teammates after last season, in which he led the league in interceptions. No one dared assign any of the blame to Palmer for this mess. Quit copying, Brett Favre! Pick: NY Giants

Joe: I think it's become crystal clear what happened here. After Palmer made those vicious/awesome anti-Ohio State comments on the radio in the offseason, Buckeye fans en masse employed The Secret to destroy his athletic ability. ...And then their team got their asses heinously kicked last week. Aw. Pick: NY Giants

Miami at New England
Aaron: The Pats beat a mediocre Jets team by nine points and only outgained them by four yards. Thankfully, the parade of creampuffs continue as I eagerly await another week of "Matt Cassel has Arrived" stories online. Didya know he never started a game in college or the pros before last week? Pick: New England

Joe: Well at least ONE other person has last week's Pats win in the right perspective. Of course, he goes and ruins it all by (SPOILER) picking them to win by two touchdowns this week. ...Dude. You're breakin' my balls here. Pick: New England (...by, like, six)

St. Louis at Seattle
Aaron: Will the Seahawks be the first team St. Louis keeps under 38 points this season? Will the Rams score more than their 8 points per game average? Oh, hurry up and play already, fellas! Pick: Seattle

Joe: Don't worry, Seattle fans. Every single one of your receivers may be out for extended periods of time, your QB may be banged up, and you may have just lost at home to the 49ers, but John McCain said this morning that the fundamentals of your team is sound. Feel better now? Pick: Seattle

Detroit at San Francisco
Aaron: For a league that proudly trumpets its parity, the Lions have sucked ass for a long, long time. Has anyone else noticed this? Pick: San Francisco

Joe: Two very similar teams, right? No defense to speak of, pass-happy offenses, and sporadic ground games. Not good football, but it won't be boring. By the way, I'm breaking every one of my Detroit guidelines here, picking them 1) on the road, 2) on grass, and 3) to a team that isn't the Rams, Chiefs, or Bengals. Consider this a belated birthday present to Mrs. Bootlet. Pick: Detroit

New Orleans at Denver
Aaron: With apologies and condolences to the friends, family and former teammates of late Broncos DB Darrent Williams, this one's going to be a f*cking shoot-out, yo. Pick: Denver

Joe: The first time you haven't blurbed the word "Katrina" in a Saints-related write-up and this is what you come up with? Looks like LaDanian's not the only classy guy in San Diddy. Pick: Denver

Jacksonville at Indianapolis
Aaron: Why does every story about the early struggles of Peyton Manning have to include how "sick" he feels about Tom Brady's injury? In MY day, Kenny Stabler didn't give a damn about Terry Bradshaw. Pick: Jacksonville

Joe: The frantic optimism of Jaguars backers (not just fans but everyone who staked their reputation on the Jags being the trendy dark horse Super Bowl pick) insisting that Jacksonville has the NFL right where they want them reminds me of a certain father and son, racing to catch up to an airborne pig. It's still good! It's still good! Pick: Indianapolis

Cleveland at Baltimore
Aaron: When did Braylon Edwards turn into this ubiquitous league-wide sex symbol whose image haunts every page load on Yahoo fantasy football? Is he still with the Browns? Pick: Cleveland

Joe: Before everyone shovels that last bit of dirt on the '08 Browns' season, let's remember that they opened against Dallas and Pittsburgh. Let's maybe hold off and see what they do against a team they actually should beat. Pick: Cleveland

Pittsburgh at Philadelphia
Aaron: Lost in all the hubbub over Desean Jackson's preening non-touchdown last week was the equally hilarious Andrea Kramer interview with Ben Roethlisberger after the Steelers game on NBC. He ignored every question about his shoulder from the bug-eyed, expired eye-candy. Pick: Philadelphia

Joe: Wow, athlete gives evasive, platitude-laden interview? I'm scandalized. Back to Jackson, though: this is why I feel that Leon Lett, Chuck Knobloauch, and Manny Ramirez should be kept in a booth somewhere and forced to watch along with all of these games just so we can get reaction shots from them when someone like DeSean Jackson joins their exclusive society. Pick: Philadelphia

Dallas at Green Bay
Aaron: Hmmm...do I watch this or the ESPN2 coverage of the last game at a historic ballpark that was essentially torn down and completely rebuilt in the mid-1970s? Tough call. Will Pat Kelly stop by the booth for an inning with Jon Miller and Joe Morgan? If so, I'm in. Pick: Dallas

Joe: You talk like Yankee fans are ashamed of Pat Kelly or something. Sure he sucked, but it was what made him interesting. If only they could round up Pat and Roberto Kelly. That would be worth ditching this game for. And, hey, at least this one's on a channel everybody gets, not like last year's NFL Network travesty. Pick: Dallas

N.Y. Jets at San Diego
Aaron: I've lived in San Diego for more than 13 years. Best Week Ever. Pick: San Diego

Joe: I'd almost rather LT take a month off and rehab the goddamn toe than literally limp along at 20 yards per game. I can't complain, because I had him on my fantasy team 2 years ago when he was awesome for a full season, but damn. This sucks. Pick: San Diego

The Sure Thing Suicide Spread:

Aaron: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-13)
Joe: Carolina (+3.5) at Minnesota

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Ol' Last-Minute Emmy Post

The Emmys are Sunday, so here's my best effort at handicapping them. Last year, I went on and on about how the Emmys are always hard to predict because they're even more predictable than you think they are. If that makes any sense. Case in point: James Spader last year, who nobody saw coming, even though he'd won that same award, what, twice before? Emmy voters might be the laziest people in Los Angeles. (Which, yes, would put them high in the running for laziest people on the planet.) And when they can't be arsed to take an objective accounting of this season's performances, they WILL revert back to old habits. The best you can hope for on Emmy night is 1-2 honest to god quality wins in the midst of all the predictable crap. (Wow, I am cheerful today, huh? Sorry, I'm actually quite looking forward to the awards. Honest.)

Anyway, this year's slate:

Outstanding Drama Series
Boston Legal
Mad Men

Mad Men is the one everybody's talking about, and rightfully so. It's also one of only three nominees (with Damages and Dexter) that got to put in a full season uninterrupted by the writers' strike. Which would make a difference if voters watched full seasons instead of one-episode screeners. The zeitgeist is certainly on their side, but that was the case with The Sopranos in their first season and they didn't win either. I'll predict Mad Men but I won't be shocked if Lost pulls the upset.

Outstanding Comedy Series
30 Rock
Curb Your Enthusiasm
The Office
Two and a Half Men

30 Rock is really the only choice that doesn't seem terribly stale. (Though I am told Curb Your Enthusiasm had a resurgent season, and I personally thought The Office had a solid second half to its season.) This might be the year the earth opens up, swallows us whole, and Two and a Half Men wins this thing. In accordance with The Secret, I won't put that thought out into the universe. 30 Rock

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Gabriel Byrne - In Treatment
Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall - Dexter
Jon Hamm - Mad Men
Hugh Laurie - House
James Spader - Boston Legal

So every year I wonder if this is finally the year they let Hugh Laurie get up there, get a trophy, and make a charmingly British and hilarious speech. It'd be funny if that finally happened the year that everyone's ceding the trophy to Jon Hamm. Recent Emmy history tells me that the odds of Mad Men winning best drama AND Hamm taking this award aren't good. So then there's Spader, lurking in the background. The collective groan when he won last year might be enough to shame Emmy voters into looking elsewhere. I'll go ahead and pick Hugh Laurie.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock
Steve Carell - The Office
Lee Pace - Pushing Daisies
Tony Shalhoub - Monk
Charlie Sheen - Two and a Half Men

See, this is what happens when you keep choosing haphazard winners like Ricky Gervais (or allow Shalhoub to win eight of these things): you end up with both Baldwin AND Carell being crazy overdue. 30 Rock won't be able to sweep the comedy awards, so give this one to Steve Carell.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Glenn Close - Damages
Sally Field - Brothers & Sisters
Mariska Hargitay - Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Holly Hunter - Saving Grace
Kyra Sedgwick - The Closer

Glenn Close is getting all the buzz, but that was the case when she was nominated for The Shield a couple years back. I could see Hargitay grabbing another win here, or even Sally Field going back-to-back. And of course Kyra Sedgwick is the female Hugh Laurie -- one of these years they've gotta give it to her. I'll hedge with Glenn Close, but I'm not confident.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Christina Applegate - Samantha Who?
America Ferrera - Ugly Betty
Tina Fey - 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - The New Adventures of Old Christine
Mary-Louise Parker - Weeds

Tina Fey has everything going for her, she should have won last year, and if she wins, she might accept in the Sarah Palin voice. She seems like the safest pick.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Ted Danson - Damages
Michael Emerson - Lost
Željko Ivanek - Damages
William Shatner - Boston Legal
John Slattery - Mad Men

Don't rule out Shatner for one second. The grim specter of Boston Legal is a pall over this whole event. But assuming that the voters opt for someone who can act, I say it's a dogfight between the silver-tops, Danson and Slattery. I'd flip if a character actor like Emerson or Ivanek could win (they're my two favorites), but I'll put my money on Ted Danson.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Jon Cryer - Two and a Half Men
Kevin Dillon - Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris - How I Met Your Mother
Jeremy Piven - Entourage
Rainn Wilson - The Office

Same lineup as last year. Same depressing feeling that this goes Entourage's way. Once again, if NPH or Rainn Wilson doesn't win, it's a complete travesty. By which I mean: Kevin Dillon's gonna win.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Candice Bergen - Boston Legal
Rachel Griffiths - Brothers and Sisters
Sandra Oh - Grey's Anatomy
Dianne Wiest - In Treatment
Chandra Wilson - Grey's Anatomy

Once again, everybody's awesome here. I'll even spot you Candice Bergen, sight unseen. After seeing In Treatment, I am so completely in the tank for Dianne Weist it's not funny. If the voters are really going on just one screened episode, I think she stands a real shot, especially if she submitted her penultimate performance. Of course, I'm watching out for Emmy-magnet Bergen, who could very well follow the lead of Tyne Daley and Blythe Danner before her as older ladies whose shows I don't watch who steal Emmys from a superior field.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Kristin Chenoweth - Pushing Daisies
Amy Poehler - Saturday Night Live
Jean Smart - Samantha Who?
Holland Taylor - Two and a Half Men
Vanessa L. Williams - Ugly Betty

The buzz is on Poehler, but I really doubt it. It's a big enough leap just to nominate a sketch performer here. It'll probably be one of the grand dames, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say Kristin Chenoweth is able to charm voters long enough to steal a win. Pardom my rare moment of optimism.

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
The Amazing Race
American Idol
Dancing With the Stars
Project Runway
Top Chef

There is no reason to think voters will stray from The Amazing Race here. I'm starting to think the refusal to honor more than one show ever in this category is some kind of organized protest by the whiny anti-reality factions in Hollywood.

Outstanding Host for a Reality Show or Reality Competition
Tom Bergeron - Dancing With the Stars
Heidi Klum - Project Runway
Howie Mandel - Deal or No Deal
Jeff Probst - Survivor
Ryan Seacrest - American Idol

Phil Keoghan isn't here, but the voters are still going to want to choose the classiest option possible. Which means Bergeron, Mandel, and Klum are out. I will begrudgingly admit that Ryan Seacrest does a better job than most give him credit for (he's no Cat Deeley, but we know this), but I'll bet they award Probst. Just to piss me off.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Watchmen Book Club: Chapter IX

[Again, my life has been absolute chaos for the last couple weeks -- and, if I'm being honest, it will continue to be for at least one week more -- so again I have to apologize for the delay in these Watchmen posts. I will no longer insult your intelligence by pledging not to do so again, but I do hope you keep reading them. Almost to the finish line!]

Chapter IX: The Darkness of Mere Being

We spend the whole chapter up on Mars, this time around, as Dr. Manhattan tells Laurie all about how she's going to try to convince him to come back and save Earth from the impending nuclear war and other such calamities that await it (uh...what's Dr. Manhattan doing these days?), and how he's going to decline to do so, because he's just that bored with humanity and their primitive little lives.

You have to feel for Laurie in this chapter, at least a little bit. Jon's detachment from humanity is understandable and his unique experience of time and space is explainable, but god damn must that be a bitch to deal with, day-in and day-out.

My personal favorite thing about the chapter was that while it takes place on Jon's home turf, Laurie's the one who becomes unstuck in time. She doesn't appear to be able control the onset of memories, one after another, that start to fit together like pieces in one terrifically fucked-up jigsaw puzzle. In the process, she re-experiences these events and learns what she realizes she knew all along (specifically that Edward Blake is her father, BLECH). Jon would totally understand.

Jon's obsession with nature, desolation, and molecular structure is what draws him to Mars and keeps his eye turned away from Earth. But it's the same kind of obsession that kept Dan Dreiberg studying owls for a decade instead of fighting crime. And it's exactly the kind of obsession Rorschach has with the awfulness of mankind. He can't live without it, he insists you can never eradicate it, and he can't for one moment imagining a life without it. All three of these men find some way of distracting themselves from the wretched human condition (even if Rorschach does it by immersing himself in humanity's bowels until he can't see the forest for the trees). I'm just glad to have found one thread connecting Jon to the rest of the superheroes.

Jon's change of heart ultimately seems flimsy -- Laurie's horrific revelation of her paternity reminds him that human lives are random and thus beautiful? Hey, whatever gets him to stop the bomb, right? But I did like seeing how similarly fragile Jon's Martian castle turned out to be. One bottle of Adrian Veidt's "Nostalgia" cologne (a fine recurring panel for this flashback-heavy chapter) and it comes crashing down. The whole thing turned out to be as delicate as spun sugar. (Or, if you'll allow me a dorkus-y reference, something the Doozers might've built on Fraggle Rock.)

Random notes:

-- I don't think I noticed the first time I read this that Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis were apparently gay lovers. Huh.

-- Blake's paternity revelation was laid out wonderfully. Total Keyser Soze moment.

-- Jon forgetting, at first, to provide Laurie with means to breathe on Mars is kind of...hilarious, actually.

-- Also funny? Jon being able to conjure up any beverage Laurie wants inside his little decanter thing. Not the most subtle of Christ references, but I enjoyed it.

-- Jon's line, "Human life is brief and mundane," made me think of Neil Gaiman's Sandman books, specifically "Brief Lives." I really should go back and read those again some day.

Get to discussing, you guys! Home stretch!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

What He Said...

It's almost uncanny how much this Slant post mirrors my exact state of mind as I watched Bill Maher's show last night. This election is going to kill me, I swear to god.

While watching Real Time with Bill Maher by myself last night, I actually yelled out loud…at the TV. When Maher and his panel—which included Salman Rushdie, Janeane Garofalo and Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund—didn't hear me the first time (or, rather, when they didn't finally make the same obvious observation I did), I yelled louder. In defense of Palin's indefensible lack of knowledge about the Bush Doctrine (or if you want to get technical, the biggest fundamental shift in U.S. foreign policy in 200 years) during her interview with Charles Gibson this week, a smug Fund cited a Democratic primary debate in which candidates were asked a similar question but were given a definition of what the doctrine entails, the implication being that no politician running for president, even those in the incumbent party, should be expected to know the basic tenets of the current administration's foreign policy. The reality is that moderators of nationally televised debates provide information about the topic being discussed partly to avoid publicly embarrassing the candidates but mostly for the benefit of laymen viewers. The Bush Doctrine was simply not one of the topics, buzz phrases or talking points Palin was told to commit to her short-term memory prior to the interview.

The fact that Janneane Garofalo couldn't hear me when I called makes me question a lot of things I thought were true. Sad.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Smooth Joey Apollo's 2008 NFL Picks: Week 2

Last Week's Results:
Joe: 10-6
Aaron: 9-7

The Sure Thing Suicide Spread:
Joe: 1-0
Aaron: 0-1


Buffalo at Jacksonville
Aaron: Was the Bills' week #1 win over Seattle meaningful or just the by-product of facing a Seahawks team that only suited up six men on offense, including a quarterback that played with a fractured spine? Discuss. Pick: Jacksonville

Joe: The pragmatist in me wants to take it easy and not go overboard. Because, yes, Seattle looked pretty dismal and depleted last week. But Cam's cockiness in dismissing the Bills' win as a fluke has my dander up just enough to do something foolish. Pick: Buffalo

Chicago at Carolina
Aaron: Listening to John Madden play up the merits of Bears QB Kyle Orton last Sunday night should leave no doubt the old man died years ago and all we've been hearing the past few seasons are the dormant gasses leaving his decomposing body. Pick: Carolina

Joe: These would be the Week 1 poster teams for why the NFC might not be the AFC's doormat anymore. Chicago may not need to depend on the dubious merits of their fratty QB if Matt Forte has anything to say about it. Look for Rosario Dawson to continue to play well for the Panthers, though, in the most stunningly successful career-swapping since Alex Karras adopted an adorable black kid. Pick: Chicago

Tennessee at Cincinnati
Aaron: Vince Young's apparent emotional breakdown is one of those serious real-life events that everyone concludes "puts things in perspective". That is until it becomes an online punchline and anonymous teammates start whispering to the media behind his back. I love sports. Pick: Tennessee

Joe: You know, between Vince Young going off the reservation and Jeff Garcia getting benched for highly dubious reasons in Tampa Bay, this might be the worst week for gay NFL QBs in history. Not bad enough to make me wish Kordell Stewart was still playing, though. Pick: Tennessee

New Orleans at Washington
Aaron: If the Saints were 100% healthy, they'd ethnically cleanse the field of Redskins (hey, I didn't name 'em). While I buy every argument for a step forward for Reggie Bush this season, the 'Skins gotta win sometime. Pick: Washington

Joe: Oh, do they? This won't be pretty, but no Redskins game this season will be. Pick: New Orleans

Green Bay at Detroit
Aaron: At this point, the Lions, Rams and Raiders should just secede from the league. But, that would leave an odd number of teams and someone would have to have a bye every week and then it gets really messy. Aaron Rodgers' STFU Tour rolls on. Pick: Green Bay

Joe: Did you see Jon Kitna screaming at his teammates on the sideline last week? Guess someone forgot to consult his Who Would Jesus Berate? bracelet that day. Pick: Green Bay

N.Y. Giants at St. Louis
Aaron: The Giants have the Rams, Bengals, bye week, Seattle and Cleveland before a late October showdown with the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Can a 5-0 start steal some of the thunder from Saint Favre's arrival in New York? Please? Pick: NY Giants

Joe: So, help me out here, national sports media: does Eli Manning still suck? ...Really? Okay. Because he just won a...no, okay. You seem pretty certain. Can I check back again next week? Just to satisfy my own curiosity? Thanks. Pick: NY Giants

Oakland at Kansas City
Aaron: I'm officially pulling for my Raiders to go 0-16 this year. Maybe then - at rock bottom - management will finally realize what a Knicks-sized lampoon they've become. We're the Suge Knight of once-scary teams. Pick: Kansas City

Joe: You know, I made a number of decent calls last week. San Diego and the Colts being on shaky ground. Jacksonville not being all that. Buffalo winning. Pittsburgh looking like a Super Bowl contender. None of that makes up for my faith in the Raiders as a possible sleeper team. Forget that they're in no way a sleeper -- they're barely a team. Pick: Kansas City

Indianapolis at Minnesota
Aaron: Every year there's a supposed Super Bowl contender that starts off September slowly. If that's not justification enough for this pick, I'll say that Peyton Manning - after watching him vs. the Bears last week - is either (1) hurt or (2) aging quicker'n Kathleen Turner after her shapely middle-aged legs were the selling point of V.I. Warshawski. What? I don't know anyone more recent. Pick: Minnesota

Joe: I am speechless. I can't keep up with a V.I. Warshawski line. Not even if I mention how Vikings coach Brad Childress bears an uncanny resemblance to one of Kirstie Alley's loser blind dates in Look Who's Talking. This guy knows what I'm talking about. Pick: Indianapolis

San Francisco at Seattle
Aaron: That's...umm...quite the collection of talent in the NFC West this year. Pick: Seattle

Joe: Everybody's making the "Call up Steve Largent!" jokes with regard to the Seahawks' dire WR situation, but nobody's making the equally compelling Brian Blades jokes. Or Robb Thomas. Or Ricky Prohel...wait, that's a good idea! Pick: San Francisco

Atlanta at Tampa Bay
Aaron: I'm nowhere near convinced that last week's Atlanta Wrecking Machine is legit. But, the Bucs have benched QB Jeff Garcia in favor of Brian Griese? Little early to be thinking about 2009 draft position, don'cha think Tampa Bay? Pick: Atlanta

Joe: Cam's thinking with the QBs, while my mind is on the RBs. Earnest Graham vs. Michael Turner. Since my understanding is that the Bucs, unlike other Atlanta opponents this year, are actually in possession of a defensive line, they may have a shot here. Pick: Tampa Bay

Miami at Arizona
Aaron: The Dolphins were essentially beaten by two Brett Favre lollipops last week. I'd argue that Cards QB Kurt Warner is at least as good as Favre, but with unquestionably better receivers. You had your chance, Miami. Pick: Arizona

Joe: It's been articulated elsewhere, but it bears repeating: if Arizona can't win the NFC West this year, they might as well just call it a franchise and pack it in. Pick: Arizona

New England at N.Y. Jets
Aaron: More talented team? Patriots. More talented quarterback? Push. More talented team? Patriots. Home field advantage? Jets. More talented team...well, you get the idea. Pick: New England

Joe: Stupid rock and a hard place. Either the Jets beat the defending AFC champs under the blinding halo of Our Lord and Savior Brett Favre and the national sports media start engraving his name on the MVP trophy or else the Pats continue to win under the new QB, inflating the hopes and egos of Boston sports fans and making them think they've found their next unheralded all-star even though this can't end in anything but heartbre-- Hey now! Liking that hard place! Pick: New England

San Diego at Denver
Aaron: The Chargers have owned the Broncos recently and Denver isn’t nearly as good as they looked against the JV squad last week. Seems simple enough to me. Pick: San Diego

Joe: If this is going to be the season LaDanian Tomlinson finally succumbs to nagging injuries, I will not be a pleasant person to be around this year. Pick: San Diego

Pittsburgh at Cleveland
Aaron: It seems like only two weeks ago when people were using the word “playoffs” in the same sentence with “Cleveland Browns”. Did everyone forget their QB Derek Anderson’s month-long bed-wetting in December of last year and preseason concussion this year? Everyone? Idiots. Pick: Pittsburgh

Joe: Now it's gotten to the point where people are underrating the Browns, though. A lot of teams are gonna look inept against the Cowboys. Unfortunately for Romeo "Field Goal When Down Three Touchdowns" Crennel, a lot of teams are gonna look inept against the Steelers too. Pick: Pittsburgh

Baltimore at Houston
Aaron: We usually have to wait until week #13 or #14 for such a damn fine match-up between otherwise anonymous squads who'll only merit live regional coverage and minimal post-game highlights. Pick: Baltimore

Joe: So the residents of Houston will have to endure a punishing hurricane, high winds, flooding, loss of property, and just an overall horrific experience...only to find this game as their light at the end of the tunnel? ...Eeesh. Pick: Houston

Philadelphia at Dallas
Aaron: This has the offensive makings of one of those MNF games that pulls victory out of the jaws of certain defeat for fantasy owners who happen to start one of these two QBs. On an unrelated note, come onnnnnnnn, Romo! Pick: Dallas

Joe: Did I not tell you Jessica Simpson was gonna be a problem? Somebody needs to do something about that bitch. ...No, no, I can use that word. I'm reclaiming it for guys who want to talk about women they're showing no respect for. Pick: Dallas

The Sure Thing Suicide Spread
Aaron: Oakland at Kansas City (-2.5)
Joe: San Francisco (+7) at Seattle

Dude Stuff

So Popular Mechanics released a list of 100 things every man should know how to do (change a tire...uh...kill a spider...I don't know), and the New York Post followed that with their list of what every New Yorker should know.

We just put our own list up at SOAPnet, detailing everything a man in a TV drama should know. I contributed a bunch of these -- see if you can tell which ones!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Island! THE ISLAND!

Week One of the new season of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Island is in the books. You have no idea how embarassingly psyched I was as we approached 10 PM. Last night. Anyway, the first thing you need to do is head on over to TWoP and catch the Drunken Bee weecap of said episode. Sarah's got her finger on the pulse of this show and is on my exact wavelength. She's also the only person I know who could discuss which Real World alumnae match up with early 20th century literary heroines. Ask one of us about Trishelle as Sister Carrie sometime.

Anyway, Sarah was also kind enough to engage in a Challenge post-mortem over AIM. And you good people get to reap that particular windfall right now. Hey, if I can't recap this shit, I sure as hell am gonna blog about it.

Drunken Bee: I think we need to call this island recap meeting to order, sir!!
Joe: That is so sad!
DB: She is not looking good.
Joe: Noooo!
DB: But I feel like they should have highlighted that information more. You know, as a sort of public service announcement? "Do Not Come on These Shows, This is What Will Happen to You."
Joe: But I was saying, I don't want to make fun of her, because she clearly moved to Nebraska and got fat because L.A. was literally killing her, so...
DB: I know, it's true. Oh god. Maybe they should make a town in the prairie for all of them to head to eventually? Like whatsheroldface who was hanging around the Hollywood Real World and got cheated on and made a fool of? She's going to be spit out by LA soon enough.
Joe: My question is: what happened to Walla Walla, girl?
DB: I know! Like, what does Nebraska have that Walla Walla doesn't!?
Joe: And Derrick's poor would-be child.
DB: Oh god. So clearly a shotgun situation.
Joe: I always hate to hear when these people get married and spawn. Like, god forbid Johanna and Kenny conceive a child.
DB: Oh lord.
Joe: I still love Kenny's self-aware Jersey mook routine, and I'm glad Johanna threw off the shackles of Wes, but...
DB: I know -- they're really testing my patience. Because I DO love Kenny...though as Ed said of Johanna last night: "She's kind of wearing out her welcome."

Question: do you think they didn't invite Wes because that would make too many short, pale, muscledudes?
DB: That had to have been an issue when casting Dave. They were like, listen, we've already got some issues distinguishing Abram and Wes...throw this guy Dave in there and... "Okay, lose the Downs Syndrome kid."
Joe: Dave's looking plenty Downs for everyone, too. Err, Dan, I mean. Dan the one I don't know.
DB: Who IS that guy?!
Joe: I think they found him on the way to Panama.
DB: He got stranded there after his frat left suddenly after a spring break snafu with a poor Panamanian prostitute.

Joe: And Dunbar totally would say "plantation," too.
DB: I was thinking I should have put a line in there about how he feels at home on plantations what with all the incest and stuff.
Joe: So let's talk about who got fat and who got hot. Because Abram shed all of his Adam-punching bloat and donated it to Ashli's ass.
DB: Jenn: fat. Ed and I had a whole debate that went something like "Ashli got fat." "Well, she always did have a fat face." Pause to wait for camera pan across her body. "Oh, yeah."
Joe: Jenn cracked my ass up, all bewildered like "I guess I'm Rachel's girlfriend now."
DB: "Do I like her like I like men? No."
Joe: "But, you know, gotta shove my tongue down something."

Why does Colie wear her hair like that? Why why why why?
Joe: Also, Ryan needs to stop kissing Kellyanne, for Pete's sake.
DB: Gah, I know.
Joe: Though it helps explain why he hooked up with Tyler.
DB: "Equal opportunity gay."
Joe: And Johnny Bananas still apparently thinks the girls are the devil even though EVERY SEASON he gets snaked by the guys.
DB: I know! Poor bananas. He's such a tool. I love him.
Joe: "Oh, Bananas, you are the essence of date rape."
Joe: !!!
DB: He just truly is, him and his "girls are like this, boys are like this" idiocy.
Joe: Oh good, you picked up on the Hollywood Squares vibe too. Fitting!
DB: Right?
Joe: The Pizza Hut kills me though. It's like Parker Posey and the DQ. You couldn't make up a more perfectly sad fate.
DB: I know. Wasn't she married?
Joe: ...Maybe?
DB: She's totally like an indie movie waiting to be made. If only it were still the '90s.

Joe: We were all laughing at Tyrie being all "Game on, bitches!" even though he's lasted a combined three weeks in two challenges.
DB: Common denominator on all of them: short memories, long delusions. Like what Kors said about Suede on Project Runway. (My fave Kors quote this season.)
Joe: Dude, Michael Kors was on FIRE last night.
DB: I know! I loved when he reached over and gently brushed Nina's arm in mocking solidarity over Suede. Gave me such a thrill!
Joe: Thank God Nina's back too. I loved Laura Bennett, but a runway without Nina being confused at Blayne is not a good runway.
DB: So true.
Joe: His dress was so ridiculous.
DB: It was like what I used to do to my My Little Ponies when I'd "dress" them in yarn and ribbon.
Joe: "Pooping fabric." God damn right.
DB: Not to mention what was happening on the front. That was some STD territory.
Joe: Another question: bigger waste of hot -- Brody Jenner or Keith the unpleasant gay Mormon?
DB: Wow. Blowing my mind. I think I have to say Keith. Though I am sympathetic to his "small town intolerance" issues.
Joe: I am too, but way to be an asshole, guy.
DB: He was just so fundamentally unlikable. Also, though (and this mitigates the hot): kind of a mouth breather.

Here's ANOTHER PR question: Did it take you longer to remember Jerry from this season or Carmen from last season?
DB: Jerry. I was like who is this guy?
Joe: It took me FOREVER to remember Carmen. Then she spoke.
DB: That whole scene was so weird. They were in such weird lighting. What was the point?
Joe: More of a tranny-voice: Project Runway Carmen or Real World Robin?
DB: Robin.
Joe: (Sorry this has become the SATs, but I need to know!)
DB: Robin's voice is one of the last pure joys I have in this world. Part of this is because: her voice did not used to be like that, right?!
Joe: Her crying clip in the "this season" montage has me worried for her well being.
Joe: OMG, Jessica Simpson is a TOTALLY SHITTY country singer.
DB: Sweetheart, I still haven't even heard the Katy Perry song yet. I'm totes behind on my pop music.
Joe: I am watching The View right now, is why I know. Not that that's any better.

Watchmen Book Club: Chapter VIII

So sorry for the extended absence. But maybe the time off gave some book-clubbers the chance to catch up.

Chapter VIII: Old Ghosts

So the main action of this chapter is Dan and Laurie's liberation of Rorschach from Sing-Sing prison. But intertwined in that story are almost a half-dozen stray story threads that all seem to be converging on the main story. We get:

-- Hollis Mason, reliving his glory days vicariously through reports of Dan and Laurie's exploits. He even calls Sally Jupiter to have a grandparently conversation about how their successors have stepped back into the old costumes. Hollis meeting his end was always one of the saddest parts of the book for me.

-- The New Frontiersman, that aggressively right-wing paper that, no surprise, is in full support of the masked avengers. Just another sharp reminder of what side of the political spectrum this idea of superheroes really falls on.

-- The newsstand, which has been literally crowded out by violent drug addicts and stressed out city dwellers awaiting the end of the world.

-- The Black Freighter comic, wherein things have gotten desperate indeed.

-- And that small snippet of Max Shea on what appears to be an island. It's incredibly brief but no less ominous. What the hell is that woman drawing?

As for the main story, watching Rorschach under pressure, awaiting imminent attack by other prisoners, is fun in a kind of Die Hard way. This is the action-hero side of him, where you just know that anyone who messes with Rorschach is in for a world of hurt.

Jon's return at chapter's end isn't surprising given how often he's mentioned throughout. It's hard not to see it as Dan being royally cock-blocked, but I continue to love the logic of Dr. Manhattan's omniscience. "We're going to Mars because that's where we are one hour from now. Why are we arguing?" Love.

You guys pick it up from here. What have I forgotten to mention?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

This Morning's Best Tom Brady Quotes UPDATED

From Deadspin: "The big story of course is Brady, who is laid out on a table at Miracle Max's place right now, where we await word if he's dead, or only mostly dead. With Tim Rattay speeding toward Foxborough by bus, expect the former."

And from the best Facebook status I've read all day: "[This hilarious Facebooker] can think of one other person who has a worse case of the mondays than her...tom brady."

I could also tell the tale of a bar full of Bills fans who erupted into applause when CBS cut in with news of Brady's injury, but you guys don't need to know how classy they grow 'em here.

UPDATE: As always, Best Week Ever takes the cake. So! Much! Sympathy!

Monday, September 08, 2008

'Round Springfield XXVIII: Defending Jonas Purity

[FYI, L.A. put a dent in the Watchmen posts, but I'll be back up with one tomorrow, I promise.]

FourFour offers a comprehensive crapping-on of the MTV Video Music Awards. I might throw up a bit of defense about Chrstina Aguilera, but mostly...yep. The Kid Rock and T.I. observations in particular.

My New Plaid Pants reviews a no-budget horror classic that features implied gay necrophilia. I am shocked. SHOCKED!

The Film Experience celebrates Little Shop of Horrors in all its "Suddenly Seymour" glory.

And finally, Jezebel passes on this clip from Good Morning America in which Sarah Palin's best gal pals from Alaska are gathered to offer insight on what truly matters: the governor's preferred flavor of mocha. The upshot, of course, is that even Palin's closest friends don't know if they'll vote for her, but I was much more fascinated by the Christopher Guest-like low-key quality of these women. I kept expecting one of them to talk about how they and Palin share a love of snow peas and soup and talking and not talking. Also, the "Elite 6." Slow clap, ladies. Slow clap.