Monday, March 30, 2009

Silly Fox, People Want to ESCAPE from Reality...

The moment has arrived: fat people will be on your television screen.
"For six years it's been skinny-minis and good-looking bachelors, and that's not what the dating world looks like," Fox president of alternative Mike Darnell said. "Why don't real women -- the women who watch these shows, for the most part -- have a chance to find love too?"
Not that I disagree with his claim that fat women are the biggest consumers of shitty reality TV, but his logic--not to mention Public Relations skills--leaves something to be desired. I don't care if you use the cute excuse/phrase More to Love as the title of your show--the bottom line is that fat women do not like it when you point out the fact that they are fat. And you just did. Irreparably.

Not only that, but it is important to remember that television is an escape. True reality shows would never work--who wants to sit on their couch and watch footage of somebody else sitting on their couch, eating the same microwaved pizza pocket as their three cats hiss at them from the other side of the room?

Hence the existence of 'staged reality with hot people,' and its relative success. Just as plebeians are fascinated with the day-to-day mundanity of the rich and famous, they are also obsessed with watching how sexy people lead their lives, how people treat them differently, how much more fun they have, how much more sex they have, and, yet, how many problems they still have.

The only successful show I can think of that involves fat people is The Biggest Loser, but one of the reasons that show works is because the contestants are SO FAT that they not only make regular fat people feel better about themselves but also serve as hilarious comic relief after a mind-numbing CSI / American Idol evening on the couch.

Prognosis? Cancellation.

Bonus Photo:


Is 'Green Day' Really Punk?

You have been warned:

Green Day's album American Idiot has been turned into a musical by fanboy Michael Mayer, who "discovered American Idiot while he was still in the early stages of directing [Tony-award-winning] Spring Awakening, Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's musical about the pubescent struggles of 19th-century German youth."

Discovered? I think 'assaulted by' is more appropriate.

How do you discover something that is as omnipresent as the sun? We're not talking about some obscure, self-produced punk 45 found at a garage sale--we're talking about a pop album that sold 12 million copies, that played everywhere in the world for what seemed like forever. We're talking about a band that everybody and their parents know about--a Green Day song (Time of Your Life) played over the ending montage to the last Seinfeld episode, for Devil's sake!

As if only to encourage me, Mayer goes one further:

I can only hope this wasn't a thought he had while listening to Mozart, although, sadly, I can't take that for granted at this point.

Get your extremely expensive tickets through Ticketmaster soon, or all your Abercrombie-punk friends will make fun of you until you intentionally overdose on Advil in the suburbs!!!


Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Brief Message from the Brooklyn Pizza Laureate

Actual pizza restaurant review found on Yelp:


I had gotten so stir crazy I was talking to the walls. I got myself reasoning with a mouse in a glue trap that a quick death was better than what sad, long torment awaited him if I didn't act quickly. How long can a man sit in front of a computer and write? I'd been snowed in, unemployed, bitch-less and my only excursions to the outside world were to Crunch gym on Flatbush.

But then the skies turned blue again. So I ventured out, went to the coffee shop. Spoke to other human beings. It was blissful nirvana. I was alive--a living breathing man. A man with id, with needs and dreams.

By the time I came home my roommate and two of our good friends were there. The University of Kentucky was playing Ole Miss. I had human interaction, friends even. There was beer but something was missing. Some missing piece of my soul cried in the distance.

"Do you hear that?" I asked
"Sounds like death throes of something big. Something ... unnatural," my rooommate said.
"'Tis thy hunger, lad," our good friend said ('cause he's a pirate in this story). "The beast need be slain by fair shoreline of peperoni"

I knew what to do. Muscle memory intervened. I acted. Jack Bauer would be proud. Throwing myself across the coffee table I grabbed yonder cellphone. Quickly I dialed the numbers.

"Antonio's pizza, how may I help you?"
"Ride! Ride now, my friend, in the hour of despair. Spare not a wither! Let the red dawn err the clash of steel compel thee!"
"Excuse me? What the fuck are you talking about, chief?"
"Oh ... ahem, sorry. Yeah, I need a large pie with pepperoni."
"Okay. Gimme your address ..."

Antonio's was there to deliver. That familiar voice, friendly, ready to dish out a pie and so Brooklyn, even African Bushmen can place it, was there for us. The Wildcats weren't doing so well, and neither were we. There were chips and beer of course. There is nothing more natural for an American male than chips, beer and sports. But it isn't complete without pizza or grilled meats.

The first half toiled on, and it had only been ten minutes since the call but the pain was too great. One of our friends leaned into the table.

"Thar be tell of a group of sailors, lost on the seas of China called Papa Johns in desperation. Only to be bitterly led to the rocky shore by a delivery guy in a Hyundai."

We all shivered a little. What would our fate be? Was there time. My roommate was growing paler than usual.

Then the doorbell rang. It was Antonio's. I paid the man quickly. Antonio's is on the higher end of the pizza scale vis-a-vis money. A large pepperoni pie cost us $17 but it was worth every bite.

They have a wide array of calzones and rolls if pizza doesn't tickle your fancy, but how could it not? This is what pizza is all about. This is New York at its culinary best.

The University of Kentucky lost but what did I care. I'm probably never going to Kentucky and my stomach was happier than a pirate locked in a chest of gold.

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My two cents? The pizza was excellent.


Friday, March 20, 2009

The Trouble With Baby Boomers

'Baby Boomers'

Such a cute moniker. It makes them seem cuddly, permanently wrapped in soft blue and pink blankets, shaking their rattle, full of innocence and limitless potential.

The truth of the matter is much bleaker, however.

Baby boomers in the media, at work, around the family dinner table, like to chide the members of younger generations for their cynicism, sarcasm, apathy, and selfishness.

Well, is this not a product of the sociopolitical climate they have presided over for far too long?

Flagrantly corrupt, immoral, and hypocritical politicians. A government ruled by special interests. An environment ravaged by their greedy corporations and their greedy disposable lifestyles, their mentality that the world will always be one of plenty, that resources and landfills are not finite. A military/industrial complex that is rapidly leading to a guerrilla World War III. An illogical, strict intolerance for gays, abortion, immigrants, and alternative energy. A refusal to solve health crises, because (as Chris Rock once said) the money is in the treatment, not the cure. Pure, unadulterated greed. A dearth of heroes, a plethora of villains.

It must have been nice to grow up in a world where people would have jobs after college. Where somebody with a history degree might end up becoming a CEO, an advertising executive or a college professor. Where you didn't have to acquire an MBA to answer phones, a master's degree to teach kindergarten. Where you worked only 40 hours a week and had full health and pension benefits. Where only one parent had to work and you could afford a house and a car and food on the table. I suppose it makes sense--such luxury must have spoiled you rotten.

Baby boomers, do you not see how drastically that world has crumbled on your watch? There are no jobs. College tuition has tripled, quadrupled. Housing costs have skyrocketed. Wages have failed to keep pace even with mere inflation, much less the artificial rise in costs of products due to the corporatization of every major industry, every type of retailer, big or small. A cup of coffee costs $3. Minimum wage is $6.55/hr. Health benefits have disappeared. Asking for a pension would be laughable. Doctors and hospitals are in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry. The same diseases linger. Art has become a commodity, ruled by fearful bean counters. Confidence in government, medical professionals, financial managers, and just about everybody else is at an all-time low.

And it is not at an all-time low because we are being cynical and enjoy hatching conspiracy theories just to fuck with you, to rebel. It is at an all-time low because even if we only look at the people who have been CAUGHT for the evil deeds they have done, our cynicism and 'crazy' theories and critical thinking have turned out to hold much more water than your idea of blind trust in professionals and leaders. Your idea of 'put your nose to the grindstone and never look up, people are inherently good and will take care of you, have a little faith' suddenly holds no water.

How many of you trusted Bernie Madoff? How many of you trusted your financial managers who told you the market will only go up? How many of you trusted your doctor when he put you on bum, possibly even unneccessary, medication that made things worse or killed you? How many of you voted for Ronald Reagan/George Bush/George Bush? How many of you now blame Obama and 'crazy young daredevil traders' for the problems their policies and cronies caused?

I do not mean to imply that all Baby Boomers are necessarily complicit in our societal downfall--but the fact of the matter is the multitude of innocents among them have done little or nothing to stop things. Protest? They make fun of protests! That was something hippies did! That is something crazy youngsters on drugs do! [Nevermind that they would have just been tear-gassed and wrongfully imprisoned by the man if they had protested, if there hadn't been enough of them to overrun the Bastille and start beheading people]

99% of Baby Boomers fall into one of two categories: the perpetrators and the gullible lambs led to slaughter. They did not question authority; they had faith in the integrity of their leaders; they trusted blindly. And look where it got us.

Yet they chide us kids for our fact-based, knee-jerk, implicit mistrust in those in power.

They are at retirement age. Most of them are still working, holding on to jobs that should be ours, would have been ours, if they had acted like their parents and actually retired at 55. Many are well into their 60s and going strong. Why are they still working? Because they are greedy, they have gotten used to having a ton of money coming in, used to being able to buy a vacation house, another car, a boat, going on lots of vacations, piling up more and more savings for retirement, playing the game.

Another, more disturbing reason, is that they have been a generation so used to working hard--because, I commend them, most came from very humble beginnings, and have earned what they received by working loyally and diligently--that most of them wouldn't know what to do with themselves if they retired. The men cringe at the idea of sitting around the house with their old wives all day, with nothing to occupy their time, because they rarely acquired any hobbies or interests beyond sitting at the office or in front of a TV screen; the women cringe even more at the thought of having to deal with their husband being around the house all day, when they have grown accustomed to their peace and quiet. And so the men continue to work and the women let them.

It is too bad that they don't realize we are a generation that works even harder, even longer--for much less. And that sad reality only makes us want to work less, only fuels our cynicism, only further chips away at our faith in humanity, at our hope for the future.

I want every Baby Boomer reading this (are there any?) to look at themself in the mirror and think about what kind of world--moral, intellectual, physical--he or she has left us.

What reasons do we have not to be cynical and apathetic?

Hey, Broseph--pass the bong and let's disappear into a fantasy world once's so much better than reality. You get that job at Starbucks yet? Oh, you just finished your stint at Coffee University and are waiting for an offer? Shit. I should do that--I'd love to make $10 an hour...


Bonus thought for the day:

As Lord Acton once said: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

I think it is interesting that most people repeat this quote as "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." It leaves out one of the most important aspects of his insightful observation. Power corrupts, sure--but, more importantly, more simply, power attracts the wrong kind of people. And so we are smart to be wary of them, to keep watch over them, to be fearful of ulterior motives. To not do so would be ignorant and emboldening to them. As they have proven time and time again...


What is the Better Question?

1. If 'bonuses' are not tied to individual or corporate performance, and must be paid even if the employee has left the company...then why are they called bonuses? Why aren't the amounts just added into the employee's salary? Hmmm...something is surprisingly fishy with the way these financial guys do business...who would have seen that coming? In slightly-related news, wow.

2. How can a film critic worth a damn equate Julia Roberts and Clive Owen to Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant with a straight face? If you don't believe me, watch the laughable trailer. The uninspired 'banter' reminds me of a bad local news broadcast, except without the energy. Did Julia Roberts even realize she was supposed to be mysterious, witty, and charismatic? Did she record her dialogue over the phone? It seems like her agent told her she was in Hook again. Bottom line: if you can't even cut a trailer with some energy to it, the movie will certainly fall flat.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Best Movie of 2008

And the best vampire movie ever made*:

Let the Right One In

It's Swedish. It has subtitles. It is already being remade in American, for people who can't read so good, probably with Catherine Hardwicke directing a script rewritten by Kevin Williamson, starring Haley Joel Osment and Abigail Breslin.

The original movie is fantastic. It is what every one of the countless vampire movies/series made recently wishes it could be--good. It is what every horror movie made lately wishes it could be--scary without trying too hard.

Instead of quick cuts, depriving the audience of information, surprising them, jolting them out of their seats, Let the Right One In chooses a creepier path--long, lingering, right-there-out-in-front-of-you shots. The violence speaks for itself, its import is allowed to creep into your brain, the characters get developed, humanized.

Instead of your typical bloodthirsty, vengeful villain, Eli is a vampire who hates what she is, what it makes her do; she feels remorse and shame after each thirst is quenched. She wants desperately to be good, to be normal, but knows it is impossible and that her fate is sealed. A girl's gotta eat!**

My favorite aspect of the movie--spoilers ahead--is that although the little vixen ultimately makes the boy her next mortal slave, and a no-doubt-centuries-long tradition continues, it appears as though the future will be brighter for Eli, that she has grown a sense of purpose, maybe even a social conscience.

She will no longer be alone; she will have a friend. No longer will she hunt the innocent, no longer will she force somebody else to kill for her: she will simply unleash this vulnerable boy--as one might send a blind chicken into a den of hungry foxes--into a world full of bullies and feast on his cruel tormentors.

Which is kind of a beautiful thing, when you think about it. The two ultimately form a symbiotic partnership, each benefiting from the other. Hell--they could travel the world as a team, roaming from here to there at will, attracting the local riff-raff and destroying them. And would that be so bad?

Probably good for the gene pool, right?

* The second-best vampire movie ever made.

** A friend recently told me that a friend told her--did I lose you yet?--that things are a bit different in the book, that Eli is a boy who chopped off his dick because he didn't want sexuality getting in the way of his vampirism. Which gives a different meaning to her "I am not a girl" utterance than I initially gathered and sort-of explains the odd full-frontal-genital shot we get of Eli in the movie, but actually just confuses things a whole helluva lot...


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Man Named Ted

A cursory glance at the numbers readily available on the splash page of is telling:
CouchSurfers ----------------------------------- 1,009,067
Successful Surf or Host Experiences --------- 983,312
A pretty good ratio--97.4% positive--but that's not surprising. Most people are nice; especially nice people who offer other nice people a free place to stay.

But, also not surprising, some of those people--twenty-five thousand seven-hundred-fifty-five--are bad. Some of them are probably even real bad.

I have to assume anybody who uses approaches their transactions with a modicum of trepidation, or at least I hope they do, but I also would be remiss if I did not alert everybody to the fact that there is at least one confirmed super weirdo in the mix.

His name is Ted.

Ted came into my life one whiskey-riddled South Texas night, just after a hurricane, riding a Harley engulfed in blue flames, screaming like a hyperbolic banshee gettin' raped by the Devil.

Kidding--it was much more tame than that. It was a note.

A note nailed to the heavy wooden front door of a former 'officer's house' in which my friend rented a room, in the middle of a sleepy old naval base on the San Francisco Bay.

The note seemed harmless enough (I paraphrase):

I drove over to the house at 9pm and knocked and rang the bell but nobody was home. Where are you? I sent you an SMS but you did not reply--maybe your service is down? You must get back to me urgently, so we can make arrangements for our upcoming trip to Yosemite.

I remembered Miguel from the night before--he was visiting from Buenos Aires, a friend of one of the other five guys living in the house, a guy named Bill.

It seemed logical that Miguel might have another international traveler trying to get in touch with him for a trip to somewhere like Yosemite--that happens all the time when people are traveling. Not every international traveler has a cell phone that works abroad, so maybe Ted had to walk over from some hostel and leave a note. Maybe Miguel was being a flake. Maybe it was an honest mistake.


My friend and I smoked a joint on his front porch and rehashed an evening spent fruitlessly trolling bars in the Marina area of San Francisco, unsure of what we wanted and getting none of it.

An SUV taxicab rolled up, splitting the secluded silence, and two people got out--Bill and Miguel. They accosted us from the street and then came up the stairs to trade pleasantries on their way inside.
"Hey, Miguel, there's a note for you."
"What? No..."
"It's from Ted."
Miguel read the note, laughed, and showed it to Bill in disbelief.
"What's so funny?"
"It's a long story..."
A story which we then made him tell us.

Miguel had been skiing in Tahoe for a long time, perhaps even for the entire winter season. At some point recently, he decided he should step out of his skis for a few days and see some of the sights before he left to go East. He went online to check out his options.

On, Miguel found somebody who was organizing a trip to Yosemite. He communicated with this guy and arranged to meet him for the trip.

On the appointed date, at the appointed place--in the middle of nowhere--Miguel was confused. He was the only other person there, apart from the man who organized the whole affair.

For whatever reason--it was not clear (false promises? lack of perceived options? excessive trust?)--Miguel got into this strange guy's car and they drove away.

Miguel scrutinized the man. He was smaller than Miguel, which is saying a lot, considering Miguel is probably 5'6", 120 lbs. The important thing is that Miguel definitely thought he could beat him up if the need arose. He was old--maybe 50. He had a hunchback and walked funny.

His name was Ted. He spoke.
"We're not going to Yosemite."
"What? But..."
"We're not going to Yosemite. We're going somewhere else."
Ted drove off elsewhere, taking Miguel to a place called 'the peninsula.' I'm sure it is a beautiful place to go, wherever it is (Monterey? Palo Alto?), but not when you think you might be buried there in a shallow grave. Or raped at gunpoint.

Miguel had no idea where he was, no idea where he was going, and he was in the middle of nowhere. He began hatching an escape plan. He realized his friend Bill lived relatively nearby, in San Francisco. He bluffed.
"Hey, Ted, my friend Bill just sent me a text and said his sister is going to Buenos Aires tomorrow and that maybe she can take my skis back for me, so I don't have to lug them around New York for the rest of my trip."

"That's great! Let's go! That'll be a big help, I bet."
Ted was accommodating. He drove Miguel all the way to the old naval base in San Francisco, to Bill's house. Miguel removed his skis and his suitcase from the back of Ted's car.
"I...have to do laundry, too..."
"Oh, okay--I'll come back to pick you up in a few hours."
Miguel evidently went inside, met my friend and me, explained the weird situation to Bill, then they went out drinking. A narrow escape.

Once the bars closed, my friend and I ran into them once again, on the porch. Ted had long-since come and gone.

Miguel was stunned.
"He lives far Berkeley? I can't believe he came all the way back here..."
The whole situation seemed so strange, something out of a hokey horror movie. Miguel's description of the guy seemed strange, which is fitting for a guy like that, I suppose.

We all kind of wished Ted would come back again, just to get a look at the guy, just to see what he would say or do, just to protect our new friend from this could-be predator.

It's probably for the best that he didn't, though. He might have had an equalizer.


News from the Future!

The Northrop-Grumman Internet Times-Dispatch April 16, 2159

220 Year-Old Bernie 'Ponzi' Madoff Paroled for Good Conduct

His 150-year prison sentence drawing to a close, Mr. Madoff said that although he will certainly miss the familiar, lush grounds of the minimum-security prison he has called home for several lifetimes--as well as his numerous golfing buddies there--he was also excited about the prospect of reconnecting with his wife, children, and other loved ones.

"Luckily, I stole enough money to make us all live forever. Cryonics is an amazing thing!"

Meanwhile, the descendants of those financially raped by him around the turn of the millenium are up in arms across the globe.

"Godsfhoisdnlmf;sdmf;ldsmklmnslkfnl!!" One of them cried unintelligibly, his tongue long ago bartered for a handful of week-old rice. Of course, with no education to speak of, a tongue may not have made a difference...


Mickey Rourke Is A Pile of Shit

First, The Wrestler:

I found the movie disappointing and supremely overrated. The existence and entire running time of the father-daughter subplot was frustratingly awful and bursting with bad cliches. His relationship with stone-cold fox Marisa Tomei did not seem believable; she was uninterested, wisely, and then suddenly in love at the end. Why? The direction was so heavy-handed, it seems director Darren Aronofsky was either way out of his element or regressing to bad film school ways.

As for Mickey's performance in the movie, it was okay. There were certainly moments I enjoyed, but, I mean, let's not forget that this guy's REAL LIFE is like this. He is a failed actor, failed boxer, twice-failed husband. He's depressed, riddled with drugs, friendless but for a dog (now dead), brain-damaged from boxing, and dresses like a retarded pimp.

Was he really acting that much in this movie? Or was he merely a great choice for the part? As much as I hate Sean Penn, I'm glad Mickey didn't win the Oscar this year.

And now, this.

Three hours? That's it? They didn't confiscate his sunglasses, jewelry, clothes...what is to be learned from this? I bet they didn't even give him a cellmate. What a fucking pointless poser.

Something tells me he wound up spending all three hours talking on his cell phone to a poodle breeder in Miami. Just a hunch...

If you still aren't convince, let's peruse his imdb entry:

- Walked off the set of Luck of the Draw (2000) when the producers refused to let him include his pet chihuahua in the movie.

- Arrested by the LAPD and charged with spousal abuse. [July 1994]

- "I thought my talent would transcend my outspokenness. I was wrong. I'm willing to give them 100 per cent this time. I just want a second chance at Hollywood." [1994]

- "I really only want to work with material that has integrity, and with actors and directors that I respect. You know, people like Tony Scott, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino- there's a shortlist."

- Turned down Bruce Willis' role in Pulp Fiction (1994). Hmmmm...I guess a second chance at Hollywood, with Tarantino at the helm, somehow wasn't ideal? Was the money not there?

- "As long as I can work with people I'm excited about working with, it will be okay. I just can't work for the paycheck."

- Has admitted in interviews that he only did Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (1991) for the money.

- "Actors should shut up about politics, because they tend to be ill-informed finger-pointers who just cozy up to some flavor-of-the-month liberal, you know?"

- [on President George W. Bush] "George is doing a hell of a job during very difficult times, more power to him. Screw all them people who don't like him."

- [on what he wants in a woman] "It's like when I buy a horse. I don't want a thick neck and short legs."

- Kim Basinger once called him "The Human Ashtray".



Cinema is Dead

Sound the trumpets, lower the casket -- for the Flock shall soon descend upon a vapid multiplex near you.

Half-bird teenagers who escape from a lab when they learn to fly? Half-wolf people chasing after them? How did the wolves know they existed? How did the wolves get created? Was this really a hit book series? Or just 'a book series?'

All these questions...and yet, delightfully, I care not for the answers.

The book series was written by monolithic-douchebag James Patterson, also behind the laughably-bad, 13-episode-and-out TV series, Women's Murder Club, based on his book series of the same name. He executive produced both projects.

The movie--Maximum Ride--is being written by the guy who wrote The Rise of the Silver Surfer, which seems appropriate--he has experience in shit-shoveling.


Friday, March 13, 2009

I Would've Just Killed it

Some woman found a cat inside a cheap couch she bought. She decided to find the owner. Perhaps a better instinct than my own, but who's to be sure? Maybe its owner sexually abused it.
Either way-- It's big news.


Language Lesson #404

Is Taekwondo Korean for 'grab him by the neck?'


Wait--He Lived Alone? What?!


"A man whose home was so full of rubbish that he had to build an intricate network of tunnels to get around may have died after losing his way in the labyrinth."

What a way to go--a hero's demise.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

And You Thought He Just Got Lucky

Words of Wisdom from Sylvester Stallone:
"War is in your blood. When you're pushed--killin's as easy as breathin'.
Live for nothing. Or die for...something. Your call."
I wonder if Stallone thought that sounded really philosophical when he wrote it. And when he performed it. And when he first heard it played over footage of explosions and killings in the trailer. I bet he did.

If you'd like another window into the Stallone brain machine, peep this:

Alternate Movie Title Ideas for Rambo:

John Rambo
Rambo IV Rambo IV: End of Peace
Rambo IV: In the Serpent's Eye
Rambo IV: Pearl of the Cobra
Rambo: First Blood Part IV
Rambo: To Hell and Back

Those were not foreign titles, where studio stooges humorously adapt things to fit perceived local tastes--those were all working titles for the US market (although one was a 'fake working title,' which cracks me up--why should you need one when it hides nothing?). The studio was all, you know, testing the waters, throwing vomit on the walls and seeing what sticks, etc.

It's amusing that the studio let this get out. On the one hand, it makes them seem smart in choosing the simple, elegant Rambo. On the other hand, it makes them look dumb as bricks for thinking Pearl of the Cobra and--all the other ones--just might work. I'm no genius, but I think the cost outweighs the benefits there. Vote: idiots.

This whole 'bad title' situation reminds me of when I wrote my first book.

I was in third grade or fourth or fifth or...who knows--I was young. I was intelligent, but also extremely ignorant. I decided, for a class project/contest, to write a book called The Quest for the Holy Baseball and did.

My friend carefully illustrated it with colored pencils. I self-published one copy. Even as a young boy, as I first held that hot-off-the-press book in my hand, I realized it was the stupidest title for a book I had ever seen. And one of the stupidest books to have written in the first place.

Why is Sylvester Stallone not smart enough, with all his age, his hard-fought wisdom, to refuse to even entertain those abominable titles? Or, if he is not to blame, why is he not smart enough to use his HGH-fueled muscles to squeeze to death anyone partnered on this movie who suggested those titles in some meeting?

More importantly, why did Stallone--who wrote, directed, and starred in Rambo, ever in hot pursuit of Roman Polanski, Charlie Chaplin, and others for the title of Artistic King of Cinema--not also decide to compose the score and produce, or at least executive produce it (read: do nothing)?

How badly did nobody want this movie made? What manner of sick, disgusting, slobbery favors did Sly have to cash in to get cameras rolling? He had to give up producer credit on Rambo? Jennifer Love Hewitt gets fucking producer credit!

There were eighteen people who got some sort of producing credit on Rambo!!!

[Note: I did not include the two line producers in that number, as they actually did all of the work]

Hmmm...I wonder if he had a ghost director, and he gave up his producer credit for not-quite-deserved director credit, in his ongoing attempt to be appreciated as a man of letters...

I mean...he gave up tons of money (and maybe producer credit?) on Rocky, in order to be able to star in it himself (he wrote the script). And the producers of that movie didn't too badly for themselves...

The bottom line is: Stallone has personally made over $250million and been a creative force behind some enduring characters in the public consciousness. More than once, he has had to fight for what he wanted, and it seems he won far more than he lost.

So who am I to judge?

Side note: I once had the pleasure , several years ago, of being paid to help dismantle a large playhouse in the backyard of one half of the Rambo producing team of Chartoff/Winkler.

The last of Irwin Winkler's children was to be married in the expansive backyard soon, so the playground for the grandchildren had to be removed, sodded over, and then rebuilt after the wedding. Teams of people were dismantling different structures, hauling up mulch, laying down sod, trucks moving in and out--it was like a weird spin on an Amish barn raising. All for a rich person wedding!

Anyway, the property was amazing--the huge pool and his/hers poolhouse complex were in the distance in one direction, the two secluded tennis courts were in another, the house went on forever, the guest house was bigger than the house I grew up in, there was a manservant in a white jumpsuit waxing a series of vintage and modern sports cars in the forecourt, and outside the formal front entrance was parked an LAPD police car used in 48Hrs.

Winkler put it out there to scare burglars. It is always parked there. Still. I drive by it every so often to check and see. But even if I drive past one day and the squad car is absent, fear not for the Winkler clan, my brother, for they shan't have fallen on hard times. Two of his sons have managed to become producers on all of his movies, along with one of Chartoff's sons.

The dynasty shall outlast the sun...

Anyway, to finish this odd meandering blob off slyly, here are the most interesting tidbits from Sly's imdb trivia section: (Warning--there are a lot. Sorry, but they just kept getting better!)

- Oil paints in his spare time and considers Leonardo Da Vinci his personal hero.

- Birth complications, caused by forceps, resulted in paralysis of the lower left side of his face, manifested by a perennial snarl and slurred speech.

- He sued writer Peter "Taki" Theodoracopulos and the British magazine "The Spectator" in 1991 for suggesting he acted in a cowardly and hypocritical way when he "ducked the Vietnam War." He won the case.

- At 15, his classmates voted him the one "most likely to end up in the electric chair."

- Sued by model Margie Carr, who contends that he tried to force her to have physical relations with him last year at a Santa Monica Gym. [26 February 2001]

- 14 February 2002 - Sylvester sued his former business manager, Kenneth Starr, for giving him bad business advice. He claims $17M in damages. Part of the advice was for him to hold onto his shares in Planet Hollywood, the now bankrupt restaurant chain, despite it already being in a financial bind.

- His father Frank Stallone was a hairdresser and mother Jackie Stallone is a larger-than-life eccentric who's also sought fame as an astrologer and women's wrestling promoter. Her maiden name is Labofish.

- Was 23 years old when he got his first starring role in the porno The Party at Kitty and Stud's (1970) (which was re-released and renamed "The Italian Stallion" after his success with Rocky (1976)), in which he played the role of Stud The Italian Stallion. He was paid $200 to play the sex-craved gigolo and appeared in almost every scene nude.

- Attended the University of Miami on an athletic scholarship

- On 5 June 1994 he broke up with then-girlfriend Jennifer Flavin by sending her a "Dear Jane" letter via FedEx. They reconciled after one year, on 5 June 1995 and married on 17 May 1997.

- Turned down the role of John McClane in Die Hard (1988). The part went to Bruce Willis instead.

- Mother Jackie Stallone was a fan of Tyrone Power and had originally named him Tyrone Stallone, but when she got the birth certificate it had been changed by Sly's father Frank Stallone to Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone.

- Oddly, 1994 was one of the few years he was not nominated for an acting Razzie Award, even though he had appeared in both Cliffhanger (1993) and Demolition Man (1993), which had been nominated, with "Cliffhanger" receiving a nomination for Worst Screenplay, which Stallone had written himself.

- On 8 March 2005 he appeared in his first magazine issue of Sly which came out monthly. He was on the cover of every magazine and did most of the articles and interviews himself.

- On 10 May 2005 he published his book "Sly Moves: My Proven Program to Lose Weight, Build Strength, Gain Will Power, and Live Your Dream".

- Did all of his own singing in Rhinestone (1984).

- In 1988 he was offered $4 million to do an advert for an American beer commercial under the condition that he cut his hair; when he refused they offered a further $1 million to go to the barber - he still refused.

- The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation awarded him a special "Worst Actor of the Century" award in 2000.

- Was said to have only $106 in his bank account at the time the Rocky (1976) project was given the green light by producer Irwin Winkler.

- He was presented with a certificate of recognition by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for filming Rocky Balboa (2006) in Los Angeles at a time when other filmmakers are moving their business to cheaper states or overseas locations to cut costs. (22 December 2005). (what a strange, unnecessary ceremony that must have been)

- In 1986, following the enormous success of Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Stallone was received at the White House by President Ronald Reagan.

- Received the first Boxing Writers Association of America's award for lifetime cinematic achievement in boxing at the organization's 81st annual Awards Dinner at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. (5 May 2006) (Who else was left at this point? Did I get second place? I watched Rocky a few times...)

- In 1971 he auditioned for a small part in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1972) but didn't get it. He decided he might have better luck as a writer. He wrote the screenplay for the modestly successful The Lord's of Flatbush (1974) and had a featured role in the film.

- The wax figure portraying Stallone as Rocky Balboa at the now defunct Movieland Wax Museum (Buena Park, California) was 5' 7" tall.

- His full frontal nude scene was edited out of Demolition Man (1993) prior to release, but can be viewed on the Internet.

- A lifelong Republican, he is one of President George W. Bush's two favorite actors. The other is fellow action hero and conservative Republican Chuck Norris. Both men attended Bush's inauguration as President in 2001.

- Despite his long association with the Republican Party, Stallone supported President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial and hosted a Democratic fund raiser at his Miami home on 9 July 1998.

- In 1998, following the murder of his friend Phil Hartman, Stallone, then living in England, called for America to ban all guns. This caused some controversy, since he had used guns in many of his movies.

- All his children's names begin with the letter "S": Sage, Sargeoh, Sophia, Sistine and Scarlet.

- Pleaded guilty to bringing vials of restricted muscle-building hormones into Australia and faces sentencing next week. Lawyers for Stallone entered the guilty pleas on behalf of the actor, who did not appear before Sydney's Downing Center Local Court. The star was accused of bringing banned substances into Australia after a customs search of his luggage during a 16 February 2007 visit to Sydney revealed 48 vials of the human growth hormone product, Jintropin. (14 May 2007).

- Stallone claims to have been able to bench press 385-400 lbs (174.6-181.4 kg) and squat 500 lbs (226.8 kg) in his prime. While in a bench pressing contest with former Mr Olympia Franco Columbu, he severely tore his pectoral muscle and needed over 160 stitches on it. This is why one half of his chest is more veiny than the other.

- Turned down Christopher Reeve's role in Superman (1978), Jon Voight's role in Coming Home (1978), Eddie Murphy's role in Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Harrison Ford's role in Witness (1985), Bruce Willis's roles in Die Hard (1988) and Pulp Fiction (1994), John Travolta's role in Face/Off (1997), Samuel L. Jackson's role in Rules of Engagement (2000), and Kurt Russell's role in Death Proof (2007). (What? Stallone as Eddie Murphy?)

- Expelled from 14 schools for antisocial and violent behavior before the age of 13.

- "I really am a manifestation of my own fantasy."

- "People say, 'Come on, grow old gracefully.' No, why? I'm not ready. I know people will think Rocky is my story, but it's also my generation's story."

- "I'm now starting Rambo (2008) and I'm looking for a young actor to star opposite me. I've been looking for the next Robert Mitchum or Steve McQueen, but the fact is they just don't exist. Tough guys today are getting their hair done at Hollywood hairdressers. Whatever happened to having a beer and scratching your balls?"

- "I abused my body so much throughout my career that I am literally held together by glue. The stuff I took thickens the bones and reinforces the tendons."

- "I never had extraordinary genes or great bone structure, and I'm still very thin. What I try to do is create a body that every man can look at and say, 'You know, with a certain amount of dedication I can achieve the same thing.' I try to keep it in the realm of athletic, rather than unapproachable." (And where does the HGH fit in?)

- "I look back on Judge Dredd as a real missed opportunity. It seemed that lots of fans had a problem with Dredd removing his helmet, because he never does in the comic books. But for me it is more about wasting such great potential there was in that idea... it didn't live up to what it could have been. It probably should have been much more comic, really humourous, and fun. What I learned out of that experience was that we shouldn't have tried to make it 'Hamlet', it's more 'Hamlet & Eggs.'"

- "If I have a regret, it's that I didn't expand my acting when I was building my career. It often sounds pathetic when you hear actors say that they feel sorry for themselves - I've been very very blessed, believe me - but if I had to do it all over again I could have done both. You can do commercial films and then do small, independent, acting films. Bruce Willis has done it well, so it's possible. I wish I had done it, but that wasn't the style back then. You were either a studio actor or an independent actor. So I regret that."

- "During Rocky IV, Dolph [Lundgren] had hit me so hard I had swelling around the heart and had to stay in intensive care at St. John's Hospital for four days."

Bonus Points: Burt Reynold's imdb entry is also fascinating. If you're looking for a good story, something with heart, something with balls, try it out some time. I think you'll like it.


Nothing Like A Photographic Dictionary for Kids to Learn Vocabulary--Let's Start With D!


Now I Remember Why I Didn't Apply for This Job

Because, for some reason I can't quite put my finger on, I figured just about any reasonably-attractive girl in a bikini would probably beat me out for the role of Video Blogger On A Tropical Beach.

More importantly, who cares if the Russian minx is a porn actress? Was that in the rules? Is it really a problem? Is American prudery overtaking the globe at breakneck pace?

Must not be a porn actress--we don't want some sexy woman prone to flaunting her body and generating unbelievable amounts of free publicity; that is not what this whole affair is about...


At Least He's Clever

Not that I condone drunk driving, or idiocy, or mental illness, or most people who live in Pennsylvania or the United States or the planet Earth...but at least this guy had a plan.

I wonder how long he had that 'paperwork' in his glovebox, getting blind drunk at the Indian Casino every night and driving all the way home on the wrong side of the road, just begging for a chance to use it.

Something tells me it's been decades. Good job, Pennsylvania troopers! You got one!

Too bad his lawyer is so crafty he's sure to walk...


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Monkeys Do the Darnedest Things!

There is something going on in the world of British journalism lately. Something scary. Something called "poor journalism."

Exhibit A

My favorite bits from the article:

The monkey named Brother Kwan, who killed his owner by throwing a coconut at his head
"The animal – named Brother Kwan – found the work tedious and strenuous but Mr Janchoom refused to let him rest, dishing out beatings if he refused to climb trees."
Really? How do you know Brother Kwan 'found the work tedious and strenuous,' journalist? Is that what he said when you interviewed him? What else did he have to say? Anything about me? A solution to the global financial crisis, perhaps? A recipe for an antidote to mankind's innate greed? I'd love to read through the transcripts of your interview tapes some day. Asshole.
"The dead man's wife said that the monkey had "seemed lovable" when they bought him for £130."
GBP130? How many fucking coconuts did this poor monkey have to pull down each day--at 4p each, street value (which seems cheap)--to earn his keep, once costs for his food, booze, and patent-leather shoe fetish are also taken into account? No wonder he killed the guy.

As for a chimpanzee mentioned in the article, Santino, who spent most of his free time over the last twelve years wisely gathering well-shaped projectiles to hurl at useless people who pay money to gawk at him:
"Scientists believe [Santino's] behaviour is the strongest proof yet that humans are not the only creatures which can make plans for the future."
Huh? What about all the animals that store up fat for hibernation? What about all the animals who gather up stores of food for the winter? What about all the animals who fly/swim/march their way back to breeding grounds for booty and procreation?

Such vague statements will not stand, man; they will not stand. Can we get no more details on why these scientists would make such an outrageous claim? Really, I could stand it; I could tolerate at least...four more lines of this article, maybe even forty. Because maybe there is a good explanation for it, but you didn't give it to me. This article kind of did.

Exhibit B

What is the cure for this poor-journalism illness ravaging London?

Shit, I don't know--I'm not a doctor, thankfully, since I've never met a happy one. So...ask somebody else who is--but not the drunk ones, or the ones in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry. Wait--on second thought, before you go, I might as well hazard a guess, partly because I might be your best option, mostly in case it winds up being right: kill all suspected infected, salt the earth beneath them.


Ten Dollars and Two Goats for the Ugly One!

Oh, this beautiful planet, this fantastic sphere...such resplendent secrets you hold in store!

Somewhere in southern Bulgaria--just south of the donkey, make a right at the at the weird-looking rock, if you see the rabid she-wolf chained to the petrified witch you've gone too far--they still sell women in the town square.

Even though I'm sure this is a tradition that has been a part of the Roma culture for a long time, interestingly, the ugly old mothers have yet to learn that they should NOT stand so close to their daughters and show the prospective husbands what their daughters will look like in twenty years. Yikes! And it's not like it was so easy a sale to begin with, mama!
"At the market in the village of Mogila near Stara Zagora, the price of a beautiful young woman is said to be several thousand levs/euros."
So...wait--how much do non-beautiful girls fetch? I mean, that would seem a more relevant question for this journalist to answer, seeing as none of the girls in the accompanying photos could be considered beautiful.

And what about interviewing some of the men, the vaunted customers? How do they save up so much money? What is it they do for a living? What do they look for in a bride when they go shopping? Do they check their teeth like they do those of horses? Is virginity prized in the women, yet never expected from the men doing the purchasing? How often do girls go to these before they sell, on average?

Why is there so little text accompanying these photos, about such a fascinating subject?

Can I interview the person who wrote this article? And then get funded to go cover this event myself next year?

I think the world would be a lot better off if I could, for some hard-to-describe reason...


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

That's A Lot of Drugs

As part of the federal and (certain) state governments' ongoing, futile, and fantastically financially wasteful assault on soft drug use in the United States, 194 Phish fans were arrested this past weekend at one of the initial shows of their reunion tour.

$1.2 million worth of drugs were seized, along with $68,000 in cash.

I can't even imagine how 194 people were carrying $1.2 million worth of drugs on them, especially considering most people were probably only buying/selling weed and mushrooms (or do people snort cocaine at Phish shows now, for some strange reason?)

Something tells me the police the Hampton Police Department is going to have the best party in the county this weekend...


Saturday, March 7, 2009

My Two Cents

Can we just start arresting people like this asshole Alexis Stenfors?

I mean, it isn't that much of a stretch to peg him for grand larceny, and I think a nice year or so in jail would give him some time to think about what he did...


Four Year Old Boy Wins Island!

Okay, let's forget for the moment that this boy is four years old. Let's put yourself in his shoes instead.

You won exclusive use of a beautiful, uninhabited, tropical island--including a hut with electricity and running water, as well as free food and drink--from May to December.


Oh, wait--you can only use it for 15 days. And you can only use those 15 days in 3-day bursts. And you can only bring 7 other people with you. But they all have to be members of your family.

What the fuck?! Talk about a fine-print bummer!

Obviously, this is still a cool thing, I guess, but now there is so much difficulty involved. Now you must arrange for round-trip transportation from home to your island five times. Now you must leave as soon as you get truly comfortable and relaxed in your new peaceful tropical environment. Now you must be surrounded by the family you may have been trying to take a vacation from--or be totally alone.

With all these things in mind, it is a good thing the boy is only four years old. He needs family members to feed him and wipe his ass and make sure he doesn't try to kiss a poisonous snake. And I'm sure the parents of a four-year old child would love a vacation. So, the strictness of the award in mind, I think it went to probably the best possible recipient. Which is an odd thing to think about, when you think about what the award sounded like in the first place.

I mean, what the hell is the point of having exclusive rights to something if you are so limited in your use of it? Why can't he just stay there from May to December, if nobody else will be using the hut and its surrounding scenic beauty?

This makes me want to fly to Taiwan and give somebody a piece of my mind. Maybe even multiple people. This is a new thing for me--a first. Which means I might actually do it! I love firsts! And I'd love to forge a birth certificate and get in on some of these 3-day vacations, get to know the boy, the island, the tropical beaches, the local fishes, etc.

I'll keep you posted.

Bonus read: This is the article from where I yoinked that awesome photo, after a Google image search for 'four year old boy'. (A search I perform nightly. Kidding!)



A Marmaduke movie!

What could be more relevant than a stupid-ass 1954 comic strip about a misbehaving Great Dane?

Let me guess--the dog is big and sits on a lot of people's laps. To great comedic effect. And something tells me there will be an hilarious 'slobber scene.' And there will somehow be a romance involved, for Marmaduke or one or more of its owners. And they'll probably throw in a teen vampire for good measure, to cover their demos.

As much as I love to hate on the Marmaduke movie, of which I am unfortunately now irretrievably aware, though, there is so much more to hate-on in the article linked to above.

Alvin and the Chipmunks made $358 million worldwide? Who the fuck saw that movie? And, more importantly, just because a lot of people saw it does not imply that the same people liked it. It could have just been a lot of misled first-timers; the type of people who would probably not watch a sequel. Hollywood never seems to understand this phenomenon. Hence the numerous bombing big-budget sequels...

Alvin and the Chipmuks: The Squeakquel? It would hard to think of a more irritatingly-awful title.

Walter the Farting Dog?

Tom Dey, the director of the upcoming Marmaduke debacle also directed Shanghai Noon, Showtime, and Failure to Launch? Wait, and he is repped by Endeavor but Endeavor hasn't realized they should earn their 10%--and, more importantly for them, guarantee that there will be future income for them to take 10% of--and suppress this kind of imformation?

The only bright spot of this article is the fact that Marley & Me has only grossed $166 million worldwide. It must be killing Jennifer Aniston and the producers/distributors that Alvin & the Fucking Chipmunks made more than twice that amount. Ha ha!


Now I've Heard Everything

Apparently, there is a retirement home for chimpanzees who were actors.

The home was funded largely by the late Johnny Carson, who bequeathed the center (in his home state of Nebraska) $1 million in his will, in addition to donations given while he was still breathing.

The idea of a chimpanzee retirement home is funny enough--but one that is exclusively for those who were actors? Is there also one for chimpanzee Harvard alumni? (And a separate one for Yale, obviously) How about the Chimpanzee Daughters of the American Revolution?

What is so perilously wrong with humanity that we do such things?


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

For Some Reason

For some reason, I wanted to see what Joe Francis was up to these days. I wanted to see what matter of hilarious new scandals he is embroiled in these days.

I was in no way prepared for THIS.

Does somebody up there love me enough to provide such amusement, such fodder? Or does the credit belong to somebody operating far beneath me, perhaps even picturesquely engulfed in somehow-dark flames?

Regardless, thanks for the laughs!


Enter Ronaldina

" I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that--did you say 'one big mac'
or 'shit your pants and say your prayers, America?'

In trying to discover why this is one of the creepiest things I have ever seen, I learned things about myself about which I would much rather have remained blissfully ignorant.

I won't share.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Looking for the Strongest 'Regular' American

Season 1 winner?

Much like American Idol searches for an American singing sensation without including the best singers in the competition, it looks as though CBS' new stupid reality show America's Strongest American will not actually be searching for the strongest man.
"Strongest" will differ from the strongman competitions seen on networks like ESPN, where professional muscleheads compete for weightlifting titles. The challenges will be scaled to suit a more average physique. The project continues a recent trend toward networks developing lighter and more comedic reality fare.
Huh? What is the point? Why not just call it "Search for the Strongest Man on the Show?" Talk about a way to make the men more 'appealing.' Who likes those beefy, veiny steroid guys? Let's get some lithe little gay hotties in there to get America watching! Preferably a few mixed-race entries for a dash of exoticism...

And I wouldn't say this is the result of a trend toward 'lighter and more comedic reality fare'; it's a trend toward 'cheaper programming' to fill time slots. Because for some reason, all the really expensive shitty sitcoms and dramas created by the same ten people every year just aren't working out with the public.

It must be the economy...


Sunday, March 1, 2009

How Badly Does Bono Want Mick Jagger to Die?

Answer: So much so that he must have paid the writer of this article not to mention the Rolling Stones once in an article about "the last of the megabands." He's trying to kill him by pretending he doesn't exist!

The all-across-the-map ravings of a self-obsessed, too-rich-and-powerful-for-his-own-good Peter Pan surrounded by naught save deep-pocketed sycophants both amuse and infuriate me.

Am I alone?


Thanks, Dumb People

This is sending the wrong message. Trust me.

If you would just sit out these awful movies, maybe things will get better! Maybe Hollywood would decide to try anything--ANYTHING--to get you back! Maybe they would be forced to retreat to the shadowy domain of 1970s-style, auteur-controlled, character movies!

Be honest--who saw Pink Panther 2? Who? Jump off a cliff--you're ruining our chances! Now they will only make a third! And more Madea Goes To Jails and Paul Blarts! No! Noooooooo!!!

Where will the downward spiral end? A Brett Ratner remake of Weekend At Bernie's starring The Coreys and Burt Reynolds? Come on, people! Save yourselves from yourselves!


Say No More!

The most depressing shit ever, but it's nice to see it so succinctly put. Finally.