September 16, 2009 § Leave a comment
You’d believe that if you’re the kind of person who thinks that daily periodical USA Today is printed by way of spraying truth dust on bible parchment. Judging by the fact that it’s the #1 selling newspaper, the odds are high that the average American might just agree with my sarcastic and misleading headline.
While they also threw Joe Wilson, R-SC on the page too, to make it seem like they’re not trying to paint black people as the reason for the peril of civility, I’d say that Joe Wilson should have been there, because he did something that actually matters. All Kanye West did was hurt a 19-year-old megastar’s feelings, and all Serena Williams did was threaten a referee with death by tiny yellow fuzzy sphere. Joe Wilson continued the hack tradition of misleading the public to believe bullshit about the healthcare debate that is simply and easily disproven.
In the House Bill, (Sec. 246) titled “NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS,” states: “Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.”
A rapper and an athlete were rude, but their acts, albeit in the public sphere, are far from the DESTROYING THE NATIONAL FABRIC level of sin that the mainstream media (i.e. old white people in dead tree media, like David Brooks, who had to mention Kanye and Michael Jordan in the same sentence as Joe Wilson in his NYT op-ed today) are making these moments out to be. Also, their professions are in the Entertainment industry, which I think it’s safe to say Politicians should not be classified as, no matter how unproductive they tend to be.
Is there anyone that should be blamed for demolishing the national conversation that we’ve been led to believe this nation used to have and hold so near and dear to itself?
Well, I’d say all of us are to blame, at least those of us who don’t speak out when douchebaggery goes unchecked. We let our tempers undo our thinking for us, and it leads to a nation where the phrase “Fox News Channel” isn’t always followed by laughter.
A nation where one of my favorite funnymen, Jon Stewart, during his return from a three-week vacation last night, still thinks it’s great to make Black People Yell During Movies jokes (Jon, remember: you’re the host of a quasi respectable news show, you’re not Greg Giraldo scraping the barrel of obvious at the Comedy Central Roast of Flavor Flav).
A nation where science is on the verge of being outlawed below the Mason-Dixon line because Jesus isn’t in The Periodic Table Of Elements.
A nation where doctors at Planned Parenthood fear for their safety on a daily routine, simply because they practice legal medicine.
Simply put: we’ve got a tendency to walk around as a nation of haters.
Yes, Kanye is a douchebag, and the Williams sisters really get into the game of tennis to the verge of orgasm-sounding guttural noises on the court, but for both of these examples, they’re far from the only ones in their field who are guilty. Tim Commerford, of the sort of defunct Rage Against the Machine, was so offended that MTV, bastion of great music programming, gave an award to Limp Bizkit and not his band, that he stormed the stage, and scaled the set and had to be talked down from his temper tantrum, which lasted FAR longer than Kanye’s did. And in terms of Tennis, I only have two words for you: John McEnroe. But because USA TODAY needs to sell copies, they forget that everybody’s been shitting on each other for far longer than this almost over decade, and the especially vitriolic last summer.
And the public loves this stuff. Almost everyone on Twitter for the last two days has just turned into Kanye Joke Spam Bots, myself included. But there’s a simple line between joke and hate: anger. Where else is anger less stomachable and obvious than when the N word comes into play. Reggie Osse, twitter user Combat_Jack, spent a good part of tonight highlighting the guano-insane racism directed in Kanye’s direction on twitter.
It’s the responsibility of the adults in the room, who used to be the media, to step in and try to curb the anger and racism and educate people, back to sensibility, even if they’re kicking and screaming. But no, Glenn Beck, who I mentioned earlier, is at the center of this all, making himself filthy rich, not that CNN Headline News didn’t bring him there already, off of his 9/12 Movement, which is another phrase that the lunatic fringe The Birthers/Truthers/Lyndon LaRouchers/Tenthers/Deathers/etc. will be veiled in other than their real name: The Racists.
The rest of the non-Fox MSM, for the most part, gave a lot of coverage to the Glenn Beckers as they marched on Washington this weekend. Lately, in discussion with friends and family, I’ve shared my disapproval for the way Obama’s handling the health care reform. I think he’s been ineffective and too defensive. The same can be said 100 times over for the majority of the Democratic Party. What I do approve of, though, is the constant turning of the cheek that Obama’s given to the nutters in the street. I don’t know how I could have not, if I were in his shoes, spent my weekend throwing water balloons filled with piss at these groups, or at least had Rahm Emanuel do it for me. At least in this capacity, we finally have a President who displays the maturity we all should strive to achieve.
But yes, every moral high ground has an exception, and mine is Glenn Beck, who I will argue is one of the five biggest assholes on television.
August 29, 2009 § Leave a comment
So I recently read that a la carte cable channel bundling isn’t gonna happen. I can’t find where I found it being debated, so I link to a google news search for the last week in this topic’s debate. And the economics make sense, sort of, for why it’s not feasible.
Here’s an idea that I think should be able to work, and it could put pressure on the major networks or cable in general, to make content to compete with HBO:
HBOnline. $9.99/month for access to streaming HBO channels and a Hulu-like resource to get at the HBO OnDemand material. You could even download to iPod/iPhone if HBO & Apple, both known for thinking differently, could get their minds right. And yes, HBOnline doesn’t make sense if you speak it out literally, it’s just a logo kind of idea. Hell, even make a less expensive paywall’d Hulu channel for HBO content! Something.
As you may know, I havn’t had cable for a few months. I think this experiment dates back to March. And depending on which channel we’re talking about, the withdrawl has been nonexistent to harsh. For Countdown and Maddow (MSNBC) it’s not that bad, as they tend to post full episode video podcasts to iTunes, FOR FREE, an hour or so after the broadcast is finished. Most everything else hits the digital ether by the next morning at the latest, which means I can set it up and have stuff ready when I get home.
HBO, and especially Real Time with Bill Maher, on the other hand, drive me up the wall. I assume the wait until the Monday after the air date (a Friday night) has some origin in the fact that even internet bootleggers need weekends off too.
Also, the use of the word bootleggers has some grounding in the fact that I’m not paying HBO for anything. Not supporting the artist, either, as Maher hasn’t done a comedy club in NYC in a long long time. HBO clearly wants nothing to do with a la carte episodes on iTunes except when DVD’s are also out, but isn’t it about time for them to shift the paradigm on the TV world again? Curb’s coming back, and aside from that, and True Blood, which I’ve gotten into, I don’t see much reason why HBO will be getting press any time soon.
August 3, 2009 § Leave a comment
I had started a post last night about day one of All Points West, but record label Island Def Jam and that silly whore, and I use that word for reasons that will become clear in this post, Mariah Carey had to make news: the liner notes for the upcoming record Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel will feature the launch of the next step in advertainment: placement of brands, and ads for brands, that fit into the garish brand that is Mariah Carey. Tear-away-parachute-pants for when you go on TRL and give that outside-the-highschool-pervert Carson Daly a quarter-assed striptease? Pills for when you go into rehab the next day? The contact info of the genius screenwriters of Glitter? There couldn’t be a more empty vessel that’s still slightly marketable like Mariah Carey is right now.
Lord knows that CD inserts havn’t been clean in years. Even the holiest of holy in hip hop, OutKast, had kennel ads inserted in their albums. This, though, is the full fledged on-the-street, Bristol-Palin-At-The-Convention, absolute whoring of the liner notes, or the libretto, if you’re my dad teaching me a term I’m not sure about anymore. I still buy CD’s and I probably would support artists whose labels weren’t forcing this cockamamie nonsense on them, but I have to say, if an artist who puts a lot of effort, be it masturbatory or not, into their liner notes, like Carey’s record label mate Kanye West does, I’d be saddened. Check this quote:
Carey was “very open” to the concept when Reid showed her a mock-up of the booklet in a magazine format that included brand imagery synonymous with her lifestyle. “I wouldn’t want to do Mariah Carey and Comet abrasive cleaner,” Reid said, laughing. “I wanted things that really reflected her taste.”
If you think of Carey like I do, that jar of Comet makes sense, for when you’re scrubbing your junk trying to avoid getting whatever Eminem must have given her. I get the fact that this is a dying industry, and that we’re all capitalists and dirty commies need to be put down, but if you really want to save the CD, here’s a simple three propositions:
1. Put out great music that lets the Artist speak for themselves.
2. Make the record look like a piece of art. From what I’ve learned in the book industry, a lot of what sells now is what’s packaged to look collectable. And a Mariah Carey cover’d Mini-Elle magazine isn’t collectable, it’s probably something at the bottom of the magazine stack that’s been growing since the nineties.
and, most importantly of all,
3. Respect the audience, and by respect the audience, I mean: do not sell them on crap they don’t need because it’s similar to the genre, by some stretch of the capitalist imagination that used to be the responsibility of MTV back when they showed music in their shows. I remember TRL to be a product pimp as much as 30 Rock jokes to be today.
If this takes over, I’m really going to have strong odds on taking to whatever Jobs has been working on with the record labels, unless those are just as bad with product placement, which, since they’re digital, and that means hyperlinking and popups are completely possible, I wouldn’t put past anybody.
What I’m getting to here is that I think one of two things will happen: 1. I will only acquire music by means that a competant RIAA would scare me from doing, or 2. I’m finally taking the plunge on vinyl.
August 2, 2009 § Leave a comment
Usually, it’s easy enough to bash MSNBC for it’s hosting of the views of Mr. Invisible Grand Wizard Hood himself, Pat Buchanan, but now, the shit seeps deeper. By now you may have seen this piece, Glenn Greenwald’s haymaker barrage on MSNBC, specifically with regard to GE’s control over Countdown’s one sided feud with The Bill-O The Clown Show & last week’s three-time guest host Richard Wolffe, which just about murders the network in a way we havn’t seen to date. Sidebar: will this dent the number of times we’ll see Salon.com honcho Joan Walsh doing spots on Countdown? It’s curious how she did a spot, probably knowing what we all know now, on a Wolffe-hosted broadcast of Countdown.
Did O’Reilly ever, and I’m quoting the NYT article that Greenwald cites, lead “an exceptional campaign against General Electric, the parent company of MSNBC.”? It felt like BillO was just throwing slop that never stuck?
Is it just me or is Olbermann’s response to the NYT, “I am party to no deal,” so definitive and vague that he’s going to have to bring it harder on Monday?
In late 2007, Mr. O’Reilly had a young producer, Jesse Watters, ambush Mr. Immelt and ask about G.E.’s business in Iran, which is legal, and which includes sales of energy and medical technology. G.E. says it no longer does business in Iran.
Mr. O’Reilly continued to pour pressure on its corporate leaders, even saying on one program last year that “If my child were killed in Iraq, I would blame the likes of Jeffrey Immelt.” The resulting e-mail to G.E. from Mr. O’Reilly’s viewers was scathing.
One thing I give KO kudos for is that I don’t think he ever went to bat for G.E./Immelt. Please, correct me with evidence if it’s there. Also, I don’t know how O’Reilly can say that about G.E. when he defended Bush, he of no-bid contracts, for so long, and hey, what about those electrocutions from KBR installed showers?
But the completely noncoincidental timing of when KO retired the Bill O’Reilly fight is amazing, and here are the choice grafs from Greenwald:
Though Olbermann denies he was part of any deal, the NYT says that there has been virtually no criticism of Fox by Olbermman, or MSNBC by O’Reilly, since June 1 when the deal took effect. That’s mostly but not entirely true. On June 17, after President Obama accused Fox News of fomenting hostility towards his agenda, and Fox responded by saying that the “other networks” were pure pro-Obama outlets, Olbermann did voice fairly stinging criticisms of Fox as “more of a political entity than is the Republican National Committee right now, only it’s fraudulently disguised as some sort of news organization.”
But a review of all of Olbermann’s post-June 1 shows does reveal that he has not ever criticized (or even mentioned) Bill O’Reilly since then and barely ever mentions Fox News any longer. And on June 1 — the last time Olbermann mentioned O’Reilly — Olbermann claimed at the end of his broadcast that he would cease referring to O’Reilly in the future because ignoring him (and “quarantining” Fox) would supposedly help get O’Reilly off the air (“So as of this show‘s end, I will retire the name, the photograph, and the caricature”).
I’m gonna need Olbermann to bring some defense this week if I’m gonna keep downloading the podcast, or try and be his Devil’s Advocate again. What’s funnier though is that Charlie Rose cared about trying to squash the Countdown/Factor beef, and was the Obama to the Gates/Crowley that was Immelt/Murdoch.
After the Liberal Hero’s Welcome Rachel Maddow got on Friday’s Real Time, is she Greenwald’s next target, now that he’s taken down Chuck Todd and Countdown? Glenn seems to have the scope trained on NBC, so it’s either her or the easy targets like Tweetie or Ed. Then again, you’d have to find substantive fault with Maddow’s coverage to attack her.
July 28, 2009 § Leave a comment
The PR machines for small quasi-indie films really need to calm the fuck down, because I really don’t see how (500) Days Of Summer could have been the darling of any film festival, much less Sundance. It’s cute and quaint, and much more aware of itself than comparable films (Garden State), but it does not reinvent anything. It’s more of a retelling of a guilty pleasure television series of mine, in that it’s original title was How I Met Your Mother: The Movie.
Flaws aside, it is -for the most part- nice, and enjoyable. The romance-on-shuffle structure works about as well as it could have, jumping from day 15 to day 359 and then back to day 25, to show how an specific momentary emotion lives and dies, and letting you focus on the story despite the fact that the never-seen-narrator has already clued you in on an unhappy ending. When Levitt hits rock bottom, it’s well handled and really funny. The movie handles the grungy broken-up-with guy angle very well for a scene when the deli clerk must be wondering if he needs to get the kid in touch with a life coach. When he’s really happy, it’s handled in a comically-unbelievable tone that connects perfectly. Even the subtle touches for that scene, that everyone is wearing blue or off blue, work much better than they should.
Summer’s failings hurt all the more because of their proximity to the film’s successes. The script is a hodge-podge of the best and worst of recent romantic comedies, the omniscient narrator who seems to only appear as a narrative crutch when the script’s kneecaps are breaking, and an all too precocious little sister that smacks of every Abigail Breslin role rolled into one, and played by a talented young actress who bears such a resemblance that you expect her to have been the stunt-double in Little Miss Sunshine’s running-to-the-van-that-can’t-stop scene.
The movie’s largest blunder comes when the movie tries to cash in the good will it’s built up. The film downright drowns in the typical in-meeting-breakdown that we’ve all seen in movies, and the scene where absolutely nothing original is brought to the table. For a movie so proud of itself, this scene needs to have a few belly laughs in it, and it’s about as funny as watching Patch Adams sober.
When the movie succeeds, though, it’s thanks in part to an inventive touch that was all too sparing. One scene does a split screen showing how expectations and reality are only divided by a grand, gaping, Springfield Gorge-like chasm that Levitt’s character falls into. This reminded me slightly of when Harold (he of Kumar, White Castle, and Guantanamo Bay) dreams of having a very casual conversation with the girl of his dreams, rather than the muted stumbling non-conversation they have moments later. This, though, had more impact with the audience and was one of the better split screen moments in recent memory.
Ms. Deschanel does her best with the underwritten role of Summer. When the film does decide to let him realize that she hasn’t been as perfect as his obsession with her led him to believe, it’s anticlimactic to the audience, because we’ve been able to see it all along. Someone should have realized that there’s not much reward in the Shamalanian reveal that She’s Been Flaky All Along! The camera adores Ms. Deschanel for about 80% of the film, while the script has only been showering her with adoration for half that time. She’s just as strong a talent as she was playing the-sister-turned-flight-attendant in Almost Famous, and her time in folk duo She & Him doesn’t seem to have distracted her from acting, yet her under written character undermines anything she could do as an actress.
Her character really wears thin with the scene I’ll call, And Here Comes The Quaint. When Summer invites Levitt’s character, whose name nobody will remember, into her apartment, the movie grinds to a halt as with this small space that belies a set designer run amok and a director who should have known to cut down on the schmaltz. You know what really takes away from a character? When their apartment is more furnished than their personality. She loves Ringo Starr and doesn’t really know much about architecture, and … she likes Ringo Starr. One wonders what was cut as we all can tell what should have ended up on the cutting-room floor of forced quirk.
Despite these scenes, though, I enjoyed the movie more than I disliked it. It shares the major flaw of Public Enemies, though: a script obviously undercooked. I didn’t review Mann’s latest here, but I’ll use this opportunity to explain it’s flaw: both films smack of The Writer’s Strike. Studios must have been wondering what scripts they already had, yet had not produced. Then they made the films and had less access to writers for revamping the rough edges. What the movie-going public receives, now, though in exchange for their $12.50 are unfinished are movies that are nice and have a good flow that turns rocky on occasion thanks to script detritus gone uncleared.
June 16, 2009 § 4 Comments
So you may or may not have seen my all too long review of the recent releases from Eminem and Asher Roth. After talking about it for a bit, I thought, hey, maybe I should write something positive about music (as well as other things) as opposed to crap like the aforementioned albums. But how can I qualify things as good enough to merit listing on a post to a poorly updated blog? Well, for the inaugural edition, we’re talking food that helped me survive the recent post-wisdom teeth surgery week.
On the healthier side, here’s the softest (except for the kale, which I’ll get to in a second) brunch in the world: scrambled eggs with grits at Egg, on Bedford and N5th. A very nice gentle meal on the border of wimpishness, but their ingredients are fresh and from their upstate farm. But while I didn get there early enough to avoid the hipster scum, I dined at the same time as an annoyingly boorish and FlyoverstateIstan-ish couple that really made me agree with something that my dad said recently: Williamsburg? “You mean SouthSoHo?” Jesus. But back to the food, and the meal’s secret weapon: concealed in the dense thicket of kale lie morels, any great chef’s gift to your taste buds. Admittedly, the healthy kale was the one item I didn’t finish, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. There was a lot of it, and it was the secondary definition of what Han would call Chewy. So while the kale wasn’t finished, I did have enough to make up for future transgressions.
Above is my typical breakfast during the week-long-stretch of time where I found myself in search of something to eat that was both filling and soft. What I found, at my standard iced coffee spot El Beit, was a freshly baked warm flaky croissant. I was so enamored with the thing that I didn’t move onto the pain au chocolat. For some reason, these nice little croissants have not been there to assist me dragging my self through Williamsurg, onto the dreaded National Lampoon’s Dachau Vacation that is The L Train, and into the city. Their sandwiches at El Beit are advertised in store to be from Amy’s Bread, so maybe that’s where I have to go to track down these flaky pieces of brilliance.
Among some friends it’s well known that I have a thing for the chocolate-chocolate cookie that’s served over at Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar. So much so that a few warning signs of an addiction have already appeared. I’m on a first name basis with one of their cashiers whom I once said (and before you read the below exclaimation, let me acknowledge that it’s not meant in spite and yes it’s said by someone who knows he’s not in perfect shape by a long shot. Ahem,) “I don’t mean to sound like a fat kid or anything, but I really hope you’re baking those amazing chocolate chocolate cookies tonight,” to. Said cookies, pictured below, manage to steamroll over the fine line of sugaryness and actual powerful flavor without really pissing on either side of the proverbial toilet seat.
And when I came in the day after my left-side wisdom teeth were taken out, I had to tell this cashier, “No, no, that cookie is a bit too rough for the state I’m in. I’ll have a chocolate mint milkshake instead.” And it was an amazing milkshake. One that became something of a crutch, along with their soft-enough pork buns, which I ordered pickle-less because I’m not all about pickles and I had the excuse of nothing with seeds in it. The pork is as soft as it gets, as it’s the wonderfully fatty pork belly. These items helped my bad habits last through the aftermath of routine surgery, and I thank Christina Tosi and David Chang for doing their part to make the city just a bit more diabetic.
Up next will be a piece on a movie you can bring some of those Momofuku munchies to: Up. Fun Fact: That last sentence was about %1 palindrome!