Tuesday, January 31, 2006

MOVIES: Academy Awards Nominees

The nominees for the 78th Academy Awards were announced this morning, and on first glance, there doesn't seem to be anything tremendously surprising, at least not after the Golden Globes. Here's a rundown of my picks and thoughts in the top categories.


When talking about the nominees for the Golden Globes, I said that I thought the Globes would want to give Best Picture to Brokeback Mountain to assert their hipness superiority over the Oscars, which are perceived as being far less likely to award a gay-themed film. I was right about the Globes, and I think the perception of the Oscars is probably right. Despite its eight nominations, I don't think Brokeback will win. I pick Crash, the movie that makes you feel good for confronting racial prejudices, not sexuality prejudices.

Philip Seymour Hoffman - CAPOTE
Terrence Howard - HUSTLE & FLOW
Joaquin Phoenix - WALK THE LINE
David Strathairn - GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.

Hoffman won the Golden Globe, so he has to be considered the front-runner. But I still don't think he's a shoo-in. I may be completely wrong in all of this, but I feel like this is not going to be the Year of the Gays, as it was the Year of the African-Americans when Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won. The Oscars love to appear progressive, without actually being progressive. And I think awarding all these gay-friendly films and performances is too much for them. I think Joaquin Phoenix has the best shot at this -- he also won the Golden Globe, but in Comedy or Musical (neither of which describe the film he was in), not Drama.

George Clooney - SYRIANA
Matt Dillon - CRASH
Paul Giamatti - CINDERELLA MAN

Why is Ledger a Lead Actor and Gyllenhaal Supporting? Aren't they co-leads? Whatever. It's like Samuel L. Jackson being nominated for Supporting Actor for Pulp Fiction, and John Travolta for Lead Actor, even though Jackson had more lines than Travolta. You nominate the actors where you think they have the best shot. That said, I don't think Gyllenhaal has a shot. I think it's between Clooney (who won the Golden Globe) and Giamatti (whom Clooney said in his acceptance speech he thought was going to win). I'm leaning slightly toward Giamatti, because he's been screwed over by the Oscars several times now (no nomination for American Splendor or Sideways??), and the Oscars tend to make up for things like that.

Felicity Huffman - TRANSAMERICA
Keira Knightley - PRIDE & PREJUDICE
Charlize Theron - NORTH COUNTRY
Reese Witherspoon - WALK THE LINE

Reese Witherspoon in a walk, just like at the Globes. Felicity Huffman did win the Globe for Drama, but she doesn't have a chance here.

Amy Adams - JUNEBUG
Catherine Keener - CAPOTE
Frances McDormand - NORTH COUNTRY
Michelle Williams - BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

Rachel Weisz was a surprise win (to me, anyway) at the Globes, and I don't think she'll repeat it here. If not her, though, who? This category often goes to the youngest and least experienced of the nominees, which could mean Amy Adams or Michelle Williams. Junebug just seems too obscure, despite Roger Ebert's campaign for Adams, so I'll go with Williams, in one of the consolation awards I think Brokeback will win instead of Best Picture.


I think this will be another consolation award for Brokeback. But it won't be only as a consolation; I think no matter what, Ang Lee wins.


This one is hard to pick. The documentary committee harbors a legendary resentment toward films which gain popular success and widespread critical acclaim -- Grizzly Man, for example, was the most buzzworthy documentary of last year, but it didn't even make the short list of possible nominees, let alone the final five. Darwin's Nightmare and Street Fight are the two nominees here I've never heard of, which would usually make them the front-runners. But I'm going to play a hunch and pick Murderball.


"In the Deep" - CRASH
"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" - HUSTLE & FLOW
"Travelin' Thru" - TRANSAMERICA

I mention this category only because of how unusual it is that only three songs are nominated. Weak year for music in the movies, I guess. I don't know who wrote or sang these songs, so your guess is as good as mine, probably better.


The Screenplay categories, I've often said, are the ultimate consolation prizes for the best films that don't have a hope in hell of winning a bigger Oscar, especially Best Picture. Not always, but often. Despite all I've said, I still think Brokeback has a shot at Best Picture (probably a very good one), but it's hard to think it won't win here. A History of Violence would be my second guess.


Another tough pick. I picked Crash for Best Picture, but if I'm wrong, this would be its consolation prize. The Squid and the Whale would be another good pick; it was much praised and loved, but it got shut out of the main categories. That said, I'm picking Syriana.

Very few picks I'm confident about at this point. The only ones I'm really sure about are Reese Witherspoon and Ang Lee for Director. As we get closer to Oscar night, I'll reevaluate some choices and pick from the full list of nominees, just in time for your office Oscar pool.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Various Objects of My Affection

Judging solely by number of comments, yesterday's sidebar update was the least popular ever. I can't help but feel I've let you down. Even worse, I feel that Lindsay Lohan has let you down. I'm not even sure how that's possible, but here we are.

I've decided to start archiving the pictures from Object of My Affection. When I change the sidebar, the previous week's photo disappears from my site, and that makes me sad. I'm going to put a link to this post over on the sidebar, and I'm going to try to update this post whenever I update the sidebar. We'll see how that works.

Anyhoo. Here are all the past OoMA photos. Enjoy.

EDIT 1/3/07: OoMA Archive moved here.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sidebar Update

This week's Object of My Affection is Lindsay Lohan. That's right. Because of those Vanity Fair pictures (thank you, Sean). And you know what? So sue me. She's hot. And I'm only flesh and blood, people. Look at all those freckles. LOOK AT THEM!! Come on! I'm only human.

Still reading Terry Pratchett's Going Postal. It's the kind of book I should've finished in, like, half a day. I just hardly ever sit down and read anymore. I'll finish it by the next update, I promise.

I've been listening to Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, and it's about seven different kinds of brilliant. I love all his corny asides to the audience, and his habit of chuckling in the middle of songs. It's so raw and unpolished and pure. Great, great stuff.

After Greg recently posted about the James Bond movies, I decided to rewatch a few of them myself. I caught Goldfinger on AMC, I think it was, and I borrowed the Pierce Brosnan DVDs from a friend and have been watching those. GoldenEye may be my favorite Bond film -- it's in a virtual three-way tie with Goldfinger and On Her Majesty's Secret Service. (Special note to whoever all those Google hits keep coming from: you're not getting the results you're looking for because the man's name is Pierce Brosnan. Not Pierce Bronson, Einstein. Seriously, after a dozen searches, I'd expect you to check your spelling. But I guess I'd be wrong.)

And Hating takes off a second week in a row. This week, I'm Loving, instead. And what I'm loving is that today is the Chinese New Year. It's the Year of the Dog! And I was born in the Year of the Dog, too. How's that for a good omen for this blog in the coming year? Just call me Tom the Dog. (Note for those reading this on a feed: that image is all white. Check my actual blog if you want to see it.)

And the Lyric of the Week comes from "Come Join Us," by Bad Religion. It's a fierce little song about groupthink and anti-intellectualism, written about a decade before Dubya took over and popularized both. "So you say you gotta know why the world goes around/And you can't find the truth in the things you've found/And you're scared shitless 'cause evil abounds/Come join us." Rock on.

Friday, January 27, 2006


I mentioned before that having the word "dog" in my blog name sometimes attracts pervo search engine hits for dog sex stuff (and typing that phrase guarantees I'll get even more). But today I got the very worst one ever, and I figured if I had to be disgusted and horrified by it, you have to be, too. Please keep in mind, this is an actual phrase typed into a search engine by an actual human being, someone who has, at the very least, enough intelligence to operate a computer (which, judging from some message boards I've seen, isn't actually very much at all). And the search phrase is:

"Can I get pregnant from having sex with my dog?"

Yeah. Yikes.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that in that relationship, the dog is the smart one.

I'm also going to say: EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

TV: Courting Alex

I was a little surprised to discover I didn't hate Courting Alex. I mean, I didn't like it, really, because it's not good. It's really not. But I found myself wanting to like it, and believing (perhaps foolishly) that, with just a little work, it could be good.

First of all, I like Jenna Elfman. I can certainly understand if you don't. And with her whole Scientology deal, I kind of wish I didn't like her. But she's lovely, and she can be very funny. I always liked Dharma & Greg, mainly because of her. But she's all wrong for her character in Courting Alex. Or rather, her character is all wrong for her -- the role should've been tailored to suit her better. As it is now, it's like watching her play Greg instead of Dharma. Alex Rose is an uptight lawyer who's never had time for love. See? She's Greg. Who thought it would be good to make Jenna Elfman play uptight? It's playing away from her strengths.

I also like Josh Randall, who used to be Ed's buddy Dr. Mike on Ed. He cracks me up. He plays Scott, the bar owner who courts Alex (by the way, dumb title; even if they were going for some kind of double meaning -- Scott is courting Alex, Alex is a lawyer so she's in court a lot... whatever, it's just a dumb title. "Courting" isn't really a long-term thing. But then, this show probably won't be around for the long term. But I digress). He gets the more Dharma-ish role, as the wild and free guy who breaks down Alex's uptightness. He doesn't have a lot of material to work with, but he's charming and funny enough to make the most of it.

I even like the supporting actors, Hugh Bonneville as Alex's intrusive neighbor, and Jillian Bach, who used to be on Two Guys and a Girl (which I always liked; I can't defend it, and I'm not even going to try to. I just liked it. So there), as Alex's assistant. Strangely, as of today, she's not listed on the IMDb page for the show, although she is on the CBS page. I think IMDb and CBS need to get together, because, as I noted in the comments to a recent post, Josh Randall wasn't even on the IMDb page as of last week, and he's the #2 star of the show. But I digress again.

And of course I like Dabney Coleman, as Alex's father, but his talent is absolutely wasted here. Why I didn't hate this show is because I can see such potential in the performers. I can picture them somehow bonding together as a cast and willing the show to become funny. As it stands, they generate a semblance of comedy out of the awful writing and poor premise. They approach comedy. But if the writing remains so woefully inadequate, and if the stories are all going to be shoehorned into this "workaholic who finds love" structure, they don't have a chance of actually achieving comedy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

TV: The CW Network

Breaking news in the world of television: UPN and the WB to combine into one network, called CW, starting this Fall. CW stands for CBS-Warner, apparently.

Wow, that's a shocker. But probably a good move on both their parts. Together, UPN and WB should be able to field nearly one whole network's worth of programming. Let's just hope they make the right cuts in the right places. I don't want to lose Veronica Mars in favor of Twins and Eve.

MEME: Five Weird Habits

Apparently, I've been memed by Rob.

The Rules: The first player of this game starts with the topic "five weird habits" and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits as well as state this rule clearly.
This isn't the kind of meme I'd normally participate in, but what the hell, I've got nothing better in mind, since I haven't watched Courting Alex to rip on it yet.

1. All my clocks are set to different times. Intentionally. My alarm clock is always early, by varying degrees, in a pathetic attempt to trick myself into getting up on time, because I'm never really sure exactly what time it is. "Is it really 6:40, or is it only 6:15? I guess I'd better get up just in case!" That's the plan, anyway. It's rarely effective. The clock in the living room is five minutes fast, in case I was intending to record a TV show but forgot about it until too late. It's not too late! I've still got five minutes! The clock in my bathroom is 15 minutes fast, because that's how much time I need to get to work. If it says 7:00, I can still make it to work on time. Kind of. The clock in my car is ten minutes fast. For the work thing, and because I just like being early whenever I can. The clocks on my microwave and stove are accurate. My food doesn't care about being early.

2. I talk back to the TV. A lot. Even when I'm alone. "Lose ten pounds in ten days!" says the TV. "Don't you tell me what to do!" I reply. "And what, are you calling me fat? Fuck you!" "Is your menstrual flow heavier than usual?" asks the TV. "Why, yes, yes it is," I answer. "Also, I appear to be lactating." "Say hello to Jamaica!" says the TV. "Say hello to my ass," I suggest.

3. I'm an ice-chewer and a beer bottle label-peeler. Interpret away, you community college Dr. Freuds!

4. I save the best comics for last. Same with foods. I eat the peas first, and save the steak to savor.

5. I smell the insides of glasses before I pour anything into them. This is a lingering holdover from my days with college roommates, when a quick sniff would keep me from pouring my Coke into a stinky, mold-encrusted glass, because somebody didn't do the dishes properly. Again.

Rather than tagging anyone else, I'll throw it open to anyone who wants to respond, either in the comments or on your own blog.

Monday, January 23, 2006

BOOKS: The World of Unbelievable Brilliance

Note to self

1. Have child, so that people will not look at you funny when you buy children's books
2. Buy these children's books, from the World of Unbelievable Brilliance series, by "Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-on-Whey":

Giraffes? Giraffes!

Giraffes? Giraffes!

Sample facts from this book:

--Giraffes invented plastic. No, not plastic--latex. My bad. Still, though, isn't that amazing?

--Frequently Asked Question: Why do we call giraffes "giraffes?" Answer: Because when they came to Earth they asked us to.

--Rarely Asked Question: How fast can giraffes run? The giraffes have tried to phase out running from their lives but if they had to, they could still run much faster than you. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that they can run 780 mph.

Your Disgusting Head

Your Disgusting Head: The Darkest, Most Offensive and Moist Secrets of Your Ears, Mouth and Nose

Contains these facts:

--The ear was invented and designed by Feranando de la Mancini Goldfarb, in 1911, which was also a good year for yeast.

--Good Reasons for teeth removal: dentist did it; peer pressure; not sharp enough; found better teeth, like, on the ground; suspected of enjoying flossing; decay and mouth politics.

--The real reason your ears can't hear your pets talking. The answer is simple: your pet is a mumbler.

Apparently these books have something to do with Dave Eggers and McSweeney's (possibly Eggers wrote them; it's hard to tell). I'm not surprised.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sidebar Update

It's about time I updated the sidebar! Let's get to it!

Ian recently loaned me his Freaks and Geeks DVD collection, which I'd never seen before, and which I love. Which makes me retroactively upset at its cancellation. Dammit! Anyway, it's under my Watching category, and its star, Linda Cardellini, is the Object of My Affection for the week. Now, before you frown at me for getting hung up on a girl playing a high schooler on TV (and don't think I can't see your frowns, because I can -- and don't you make that face at me, it'll stick like that!), please keep in mind the actress was 24 when she was on the show. She also played Velma in the Scooby-Doo movies, both of which I've seen, for no defensible reason whatsoever, and she was the best thing about both of them. Velma's hot. And now she's on some show called E.R. Never heard of it.

Apparently, I've put my reading of Quicksilver on hold once again, as I've been reading anything else but it. I just finished George Saunders' The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil (it only took about two hours), which is a very weird and funny book about bizarre creatures whose political patriotism and paranoia spiral out of control. Saunders is incredible; his last collection of short stories, Pastoralia (which, according to Amazon, contains the Statistically Improbable Phrase "show your cock," and the Capitalized Phrase "Shit Fee"), is one of the best such collections I've ever read, but you might be familiar with him from his children's book, The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip.

I'm also about to start Reading Terry Pratchett's Going Postal. It's been out for a while; I think I'm past the phase where I need to immediately buy his books in hardback. I can wait for the paperback. He's still great, though.

And I've been Listening to Welcome Interstate Managers, by Fountains of Wayne. They're one of those groups that I've always liked, but have never owned one of their albums. A friend copied it for me, and I love it. "Bright Future in Sales" is a little slice of genius, and it goes under Lyric of the Week.

The Hating category gets the week off. I couldn't think of anything right off the top of my head, so rather than forcing it, I thought maybe I'd try to spend a week not filled with hatred. I'm not optimistic.

Friday, January 20, 2006

COMICS: Wed. 1/18/06

Hey, it's my first regular comics post of the year! Now let's see if I can actually remember what comics I bought.

The big item I picked up this week was the TPB of Mike Grell's Jon Sable, Freelance, Volume 1. This has been out for quite a while. I've long had an interest in it, but the price put me off (IDW motto: "If it's overpriced, it's gotta be good!"). For some reason, this week I just felt like getting it. So I did. And... I liked it, but it didn't knock my socks off. I almost always like Grell's work; I've rarely loved it.

First of all: man, is this thing eighties. It's very "of its time." And it possibly hasn't aged quite as well as other '80s comics, specifically because it aimed at being more contemporary and current than other books. For crying out loud, Ronald Reagan makes a cameo in the first issue! When it first came out, that probably seemed pretty nifty. Now, it couldn't be cheesier.

Second, since Sable's debut, we've seen this whole mercenary thing done to death. What once was cutting edge, in terms of violence and in terms of the protagonist's hardcore vigilante attitude, now seems relatively tame.

But I did like it. Grell's art is always nice (though in a couple spots here and there, it's a little hard to follow). I liked Sable, the character, and I found his double life amusing -- to fund his bounty hunting, he poses as a best-selling children's author. And his origin story is very strong, if perhaps too reminiscent of the Punisher's (his family is gunned down, pushing him into a life of vengeance). Having recently seen Munich, I was especially taken with the fact that his story really starts at the '72 Olympics, in which Sable competes in the pentathlon. And the way the origin is spread across four issues was very forward-thinking of Grell, anticipating the ubiquitous "story arc" of today's comics.

I don't know if I'll go out and buy Volume 2 any time soon, but I'm glad I at least sampled this series.

So, what else did I get? Runaways and All-Star Superman, for two, but I haven't read those yet. The way I read comics is I save my favorites for last. Which is why I have yet to read those two. What I have read (in no order):

X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl: I enjoyed Milligan and Allred's X-Statix, and I enjoyed this. Could've used more Dead Girl. And Dr. Strange was written a little oddly, but that's to be expected for any mainstream hero who steps into the X-Statix world. Also, I'm not steeped enough in Marvel history to recognize more than a couple of the characters who have returned from the dead -- Kraven, Mysterio, and Tyke Alicar, and that's it. But I liked the art (even though Allred only inks Nick Dragotta's pencils, it's more Allred than not), and there's plenty of Milligan's usual morbid humor. Good stuff.

Ex Machina: Hooray for gratuitous nudity! That was going to be my only comment on this issue, but then I decided I might as well mention the chainsaw to the face, too. Here are my thoughts on that: ouchie! I'm still loving the examination of politics in this book, but I thought Journal's decision to quit the Mayor's office was pretty stupid (which is probably what Vaughan was going for). And I'm interested in seeing where the stuff with the mayor of Baghdad is going.

Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy: I love Joe Kubert's art, and it's fantastic in this issue. Good story; I haven't seen many WWII stories which focus on the German/Russian front. This is my introduction to Easy Company, and I'll definitely be back for more.

Walking Dead: Treading water. Nice last page set-up for next issue, but it should've been the first page, as the rest of the issue was just bloat.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and Marvel Knights Spider-Man: Awful. Really, really awful. This whole misguided "The Other" crossover storyline gets worse at it goes along, which I didn't think was possible. I got into this thing because I wanted to see Peter David and Mike Wieringo take on Spidey in FNS-M. They have not impressed. This storyline has ruined my anticipation of what could've been a very good book. Also: Flash Thompson hasn't seen Peter Parker since high school? Didn't they become buddies in college? I'm puzzled by that one. And as for Marvel Knights -- Pat Lee, is that the artist's name? Oh my god, he is horrible. Just pure crap. The entire issue hurts to look at. Awful, awful, awful.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

TV: Love Monkey

I liked everything about Love Monkey but its title. What a stupid, off-putting title. In fact, I've already heard from one person who didn't watch the show specifically because of it. Now, when you're naming something, I know there's an irresistible urge to come up with something unique and memorable. But sometimes, especially in TV, it's better to go with safe and plain rather than alienating your potential audience before they even sample what you're offering. Just sayin'.

That awful title is hiding a pretty darn good show. Love Monkey stars Tom Cavanagh, a favorite of mine from Ed, who here plays Tom (what a stretch!), an A&R man for a major record label in New York. He manages to torpedo himself by losing his girlfriend and his job in one day, all for his overriding love of the purity and power of music. He winds up at a smaller label, one that cares more about the music than the money, and away we go.

Cavanagh is always a winning presence, and he doesn't fail to charm here, in much the same fashion as bowling alley lawyer Ed. He's very funny, with a quirky, rapid-fire but seemingly spontaneous delivery, and his facial expressions never fail to amuse me, from boggled disbelief to the deadliest of deadpans. This show would probably have me as a fan even if the only thing going for it were Cavanagh.

Fortunately, it's got even more to offer. I like the supporting cast, especially Judy Greer (who was so hilarious as Kitty on Arrested Development) as Tom's best girl friend (not girlfriend, he's a little too quick to point out, but a friend who's a girl). Even Jason Priestly, as the buddy who married Tom's sister, works for me, although it took me a while to recognize him through the bloat. And I enjoyed the passion Tom has for his music (and his willingness to slam crap; in one voiceover about his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend: "She listens to Jewel and weeps, while I prefer music"), a passion which is obviously shared by the show's creators, and which is well-conveyed to the audience.

It's hard to watch the show and not think about High Fidelity -- it's built around the same kind of perpetually adolescent male who can't commit to a relationship outside of his lifelong love of music. But it's a pleasing tribute rather than a crass rip-off, and there are far worse things to aspire to than capturing the vibe of High Fidelity.

This is a real standout for CBS, and a pleasant departure from their all-CSI format. I hope it catches on. A new title couldn't hurt.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

TV: Golden Globes: The Day After

Thanks to those of you who followed along with my semi-live coverage of the Golden Globes last night. And especially thanks to Ian, who helped me get through it, and had me in hysterics for much of the evening. My favorite single line of the night was Ian's "I get bored saying sentences." That just cracks me up. My favorite line from the comments on the post is one that refers back to my casting suggestion for Brokeback Mountain; the Hulk wrote to say, "Hulk wish Hulk could quit Rockman."

The final tally on my predictions, by the way, was 11-for-15. Not bad! [EDIT: Not as bad as 10-for-15, which, it turns out upon closer scrutiny, is my actual record. Counting makes my brain hurt.]

I'm glad all this Golden Globes stuff is behind me. Now to gear up for my even more insane coverage of the Oscars!

Monday, January 16, 2006

TV: Minute-by-Minute at the 2006 Golden Globes

The Pre-Show.

8:00 -- Oh, Christ! Nancy O'Dell is still here, and is showing highlights from the arrival special. MAKE IT STOP!!

8:02 -- Ian appreciates the fact that the celebrities get to drink during the ceremony. I say, "That makes it like our home-viewing experience." Ian says he feels like it's a drinking race. I swig from my second beer: off to the races!!

8:04 -- The soul-destroying intro song begins. At least it's not sung by a Ray Charles impersonator as it was last year. Very breathy and bland: "Here is Capote, and Johnny Cash/And his name is Earl./Don't you think that Jamie looks hot tonight?/Don't you think Reese has a shot tonight?/Don't ya?/Don't ya?" Ian: "I want to kill myself."

8:06 -- To the awesome groove of "Don't Ya?" Queen Latifah enters to open the show.

8:07 -- She pays tribute to Dr. King, and nobody applauds. That makes me sad.

8:08 -- Natalie Portman and Adrien Brody enter to present the first award. Portman's hair is coming back in nicely. Supporting Actor goes to... George Clooney! I'm off to an early perfect record in my picks.

8:09 -- Clooney says, "I thought Paul Giamatti was going to win it." I bet Giamatti did, too. "I haven't even had a drink yet!" Clooney continues. I have, and it doesn't make his subsequent joke about Jack Abramoff's name any funnier. Jack... Off? GET IT???

8:12 -- Rachel Weisz wins Supporting Actress for Constant Gardener. I'm 1-for-2. But she's cute and has an awesome accent, so I can live with it.

8:18 -- Jessica Alba and Luke Wilson come out to present Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series, or TV Movie. That's a long title. Paul Newman wins. Ian: "Oh, good, he isn't there. We're spared a speech."

8:20 -- Teri Hatcher and Brandon Routh do some Superman banter before presenting Supporting Actress in Etc. I have to admit, Routh makes a good Clark Kent.

8:21 -- Sandra Oh wins, then can't find her way on stage for a humorously long time. Ian asks me if Grey's Anatomy is any good. "It's one of the three or four shows on TV I don't watch," I tell him. Oh is frantic and is licking her lips a lot. Ian asks me if I have anything stronger than beer in the house. I don't think he's enjoying the show.

8:27 -- America's favorite speech impaired actress, Drew Barrymore, comes out to present a clip from the first Best Picture nominee, Good Night, and Good Luck. Holy GOD, she is wearing a very tight, nearly sheer, bosom-embracing green dress. Insert your own "Golden Globes" joke, I'm still a little dizzy.

8:29 -- Emmy Rossum comes out to blather about something I don't care about. Ian asks, "Who the hell is she?" I instantly know she was in Phantom of the Opera, even though I've never seen it. That makes me a little sad.

8:31 -- Jesse L. Martin and Nicollette Sheridan present Best Actress in a Drama, Television. The crowd goes wild for Geena Davis, oddly.

8:32 -- Or not so oddly: she wins. (1-for-3 in my picks.) What the? Well, still better than Patricia Arquette. The seventeen-foot tall Davis tramples several smaller actresses on her way to the stage. Davis tells a touching story about a young girl who spoke to her before the awards ceremony, and said, "Because of you, I want to be President some day." The crowd "Awwww"s and applauds. Davis continues, "Well, that didn't actually happen." Awesome. Funniest bit of the evening so far. She mocks the gullible crowd: "Awwww."

8:33 -- Davis says of Donald Sutherland, "He is the god at whose altar I worship." I say something very dirty about that. Ian says, "You have to put that in your blog!" I remind him of a joke he said that he made me take out: "You got a freebie, I get a freebie." Clearly, I'm not yet drunk enough to be quite so mean in print. But from here on out, no more Mr. Nice Guy!

8:35 -- Evangeline Lilly and Ian McShane come out to present Best Actor in a Drama, Television. They may be my favorite man and woman on TV (but not in that order).

8:36 -- In what I thought was the surest lock in the TV side of the show, Hugh Laurie wins. Nice. I'm 2-for-4 in my picks. Hugh Laurie claims there are 172 people he needs to thank, and he's going to pick three at random out of his pocket. Funny bit.

8:43 -- Melanie Griffith comes out. I say eagerly, "She's gonna do something fucked up." She presents Miss Golden Globe, Dakota Johnson, which is only apropos, as Griffith is both a former Miss Golden Globe herself, and the mother, with Don Johnson, of the current Miss Golden Globe. She then presents a clip from The Producers. Whee.

8:46 -- Matt Dillon and Queen Latifah come out to present Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television. There is a long, awkward pause, then Dillon turns to Latifah: "I think you're up."

8:48 -- Empire Falls wins. Whoopty-doo.

8:50 -- William Petersen and Pamela Anderson come out to present Best Actor in a Comedy, Television. "Beauty and the geek," Petersen says of the two of them. And Steve Carell wins! Sweet! My picks are 3-for-5, and a very funny, very deserving man gets an award. He gives a very funny speech, supposedly written by his wife. "Thanks also to an excellent cast, crew, and writing staff... if it were not for you, I would not be here right now -- I don't know about that."

8:57 -- Tim Robbins presents a clip from Constant Gardener. I don't know, still sounds boring to me. Ian: "Always with the gardening!"

8:59 -- Frickin' Jamie Foxx. Presenting Best Actress, Comedy or Musical. Surest lock of the evening, any category: Reese Witherspoon. She says, "My husband just hit me so hard, I almost fell over." Spouse abuse!

9:02 -- Chris Rock comes out. "It's Martin Luther King's birthday!" Well, it's the bank holiday celebrating his birthday, at least. Is it his actual birthday today? Anyway, he continues: "I want everyone to relax -- you only have to be nice to black people for two more hours."

9:03 -- He presents Best Actress in a Comedy, Television, and rips on all the nominess for being from shows which don't sound very funny. Good for him. Winner: Mary-Louise Parker! What an upset! Rock even laughs, reading the name, "Wow-how-how!" I'm 3-for-6. I think. I'll need to double check my math later.

9:10 -- Emma Thompson comes out to present. I say her name, then immediately forget it. I ask Ian her name. He says, "Emma... fuck it." I think he's had more beer than me, but just barely. "I get bored saying sentences," he adds. She presents a clip from Pride & Prejudice. Ian eagerly waits for the line in the clip, "You have bewtiched me, body and soul," then yells, "YES!!"

9:12 -- Eric Bana and Kate Beckinsale present Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie.

9:14 -- Jonathan Rhys Myers wins for Elvis. He played Elvis, and he's Irish? What the?

9:18 -- Best Actress in Etc. goes to S. Epatha Merkerson. Why do the awards keep going to people whose names are so damn hard to spell?

9:25 -- Colin Firth presents a clip for Match Point.

9:27 -- Harrison Ford and Virginia Madsen come out to present. I think this is the only kind of promotion Ford does for his movies anymore -- presenting at awards shows that coincide with the film's release. Best Screenplay goes to Brokeback Mountain.

9:34 -- Jill Hennessy and Josh Duhamel present Best Comedy Series. Fuckin' Desperate Housewives. Whatever. I'm 3-for-7 (maybe).

9:38 -- Here's Penelope Cruz. Look, I grant you, she's got big ol' boobs, if I may be blunt. But there is something wrong with her face.

9:39 -- Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker present Best Foreign Language Film. Paradise Now, Palestine.

9:46 -- Catherine Deneuve comes out, and I'm so pleased I spell her name right on the first try. Ian says, "Oh beer, at least you treat me right." Then, "How long is this fuckin' thing??" Deneuve presents a clip from History of Violence. That's probably the #1 movie of last year I want to see, but haven't yet. Then Ian and I get off on a discussion imagining if David Cronenberg had directed Spider-Man. It would've starred Jason Schwartzman, and Spider-Man would have mutated with a bunch of mechanical vaginas covering his body.

9:47 -- Julian McMahon and Rosario Dawson present Best Score. Memoirs of a Geisha. I could not care less at this point. Really, I can't imagine a point at which I would care.

9:49 -- Here comes Mariah Carey and her Golden Globes again. Best Song goes to Brokeback Mountain. Right now, Ian is talking to my Batman action figure with the silver costume. "Silver Batman, how did you like Chronicles of Narnia?" "I thought it was better than Lord of the Rings because it had a great big lion in it," Silver Batman answers. "Did you know that lion was meant to be Jesus?" Ian asks. "Jesus Christ, that was a big lion!!" says Silver Batman. Later, Ian says, "Did you know Virginia Woolf was the first movie to use the word 'fuck'?" Silver Batman says, "Holy shit!" Ian says, "Silver Batman, you don't care for that language, do you?" Silver Batman says, "I'm a Mormon!" Silver Batman says, "I have 700 wives." Ian says, "Silver Batman, you're not fooling anyone. You mean you have 700 husbands." Silver Batman says, "You've found me out!!" Later: "Silver Batman, what's your favorite movie?" Silver Batman says, "700 Husbands for 700 Brothers."

This goes on for ten minutes. Ian wants me to tell you there are mitigating circumstances for this conversation: he's incredibly drunk.

9:56 -- Gwyneth Paltrow introduces Anthony Hopkins for his Cecil B. Demille award. I'm going to fast forward through this bit.

10:11 -- Mandy Moore presents a clip from The Squid and the Whale. This is the #2 movie of last year I want to see but haven't yet.

10:12 -- Clint Eastwood presents Best Director. It's Ang Lee. I have no joke.

10:17 -- John Travolta comes out to present Best Actor, Comedy. He calls Pierce Brosnan "Pierce Bronson." Joaquin Phoenix wins, and Ian makes a Gene Shalit-like pun on his name -- "Joaquin is walk-een over his competition!!"

10:24 -- Tim McGraw comes out to present the clip for Walk the Line. I don't know why I keep mentioning things I have no joke for.

10:26 -- The reanimated corpse of Renee Zellweger presents Best Comedy or Musical to Walk the Line, which, again, is neither. Whatever. Ian wants me to say: to make some money in the fifties, Johnny Cash performed the voice of Mr. Ed. Ian is so drunk, it's gone from funny to not even funny back to funny again. I think he's going to throw up on my carpet.

10:34 -- The cast of Will & Grace present Best Drama, Television. If Commander-in-Chief fuckin' wins, I will shake my tiny fist in rage. Or Prison Break.

10:37 -- It's Lost. Dorian's worst enemy, Damon Lindelof, accepts the award. And he actually thanks Dorian, which I think is pretty cool of him.

10:39 -- Dennis Quaid presents the last clip for Best Drama for the evening, for Brokeback Mountain. He says, "It's a controversial film -- well, let's just say it rhymes with 'chick flick'." Oh, do you mean DICK FLICK?? Dennis Quaid, you fucking moron.

10:41 -- Leonardo DiCaprio presents Best Actress, Drama. They show Natalie Portman in the crowd, and she has a look on her face like DiCaprio slept with her once and never called her back. Just speculatin' here.

10:42 -- Felicity Huffman wins! I called it, but I can't calculate how I'm doing on my picks just now. Because of the heroin. I mean, beer. During her speech, she salutes the bravery of transgendered people. They cut to the crowd to show Charlize Theron applauding -- but right behind her, Jamie Foxx is scowling his displeasure. He is so not down with this. It's kind of funny, in a hateful way.

10:48 -- Hilary Swank presents Best Actor, Drama. Russell Crowe punches her in the face.

10:49 -- Philip Seymour Hoffman wins for Capote. Ian says: to make some money in the fifties, Truman Capote performed the voice of Droopy Dog.

10:54 -- Denzel Washington presents Best Picture, Drama. Seems pretty obvious at this point. And it goes to -- Brokeback Mountain. I was already typing that before he said it. Ian says this is making up for the fact that The Hulk was shut out. And dammit, he's right. The only way Brokeback could've been better is if the main characters were the Hulk and the Thing. Ian wants me to specifically say that that last joke was mine, not his, "because it's not funny." Fuck him! That's comedy.

10:58 -- Denzel says, "Thank you for watching, and good night." A dignified ending, and in under the three-hour time allowance. If there's one thing the Oscars can learn from the Golden Globes -- and there are probably several things, actually -- it's how to end a show on time.

I'm going to have to look over this post tomorrow and see what exactly Ian and I came up with here. I'm not optimistic. But the hell with it, it's time to put the final update behind me and watch some Freaks and Geeks on DVD. Till next year!

TV: Minute-by-Minute at the 2006 Golden Globes Pre-Show

7:00 -- Live! Everywhere but in the time zone where it actually takes place! It's the 2006 Golden Globes Arrivals Special! It's the "party of the year," which seems like a pretty hefty claim for an event taking place on January 16. Hostess Nancy O'Dell, rockin' some navel-deep cleavage, boasts about the "glitter-cams" covering the event. I drink deeply from my first beer.

7:01 -- O'Dell introduces her co-hosts, Shaun Robinson, who is a woman, and Dean Cain, who needs a new agent.

O'Dell talks for an agonizingly long time to Julian McMahon, who babbles about the evil doctors he's played -- Dr. Christian on Nip/Tuck, and Dr. Doom in Fantastic Four. McMahon has been signed for the sequel. I'm sure we're all looking forward to that. McMahon gives an uncomfortably sloppy smooch to O'Dell as he leaves. I think he's been hitting the bottle earlier and harder than I have.

7:03 -- Speaking of FF, the woman named Shaun talks to Jessica Alba. She's producing a video game, she says. What the?

7:04 -- O'Dell is talking to Will Ferrell. He's refreshingly low-key. I think Ferrell's the funniest dude around, but it's always nice to see a comedian who doesn't feel like he has to be aggressively "on" every second of the day.

7:05 -- Female Shaun touches Gwyneth Paltrow's pregnant belly, then presses her on the sex of the baby. Creepy. Also, she mentions director John Madden, which always disorients me. I expect a big fat football guy to yell, "Less filling! Tastes great!"

7:06 -- Back to O'Dell and Geena Davis. Man, where's Dean Cain? Geena Davis is eight feet tall. Things get a little awkward when O'Dell asks if we're ready for a female president, and Davis doesn't automatically say yes.

7:07 -- Cain says he is replacing Dick Clark. Way to bum me out, man. Guest liveblogger Ian Brill asks if there wasn't a time when Cain would've been on the red carpet, instead of hosting. I'm not sure if we're better off or not, as a country.

7:12 -- O'Dell asks Pierce Brosnan about the underwear-in-the-lobby scene from The Matador. Of course she does.

7:13 -- Marcia Cross is wicked hot. That is all.

O'Dell asks Brosnan about James Bond, because the hosts apparently are required to ask the most obnoxiously awkward questions possible of every celebrity.

7:14 -- Female Shaun talks to Pamela Anderson, who is wearing something guaranteed to show up on Go Fug Yourself tomorrow.

7:15 -- O'Dell induces Chris Rock into saying the n-word while speaking about Everybody Hates Chris. I think he says it just to freak her out, because he's sick of talking to her.

7:18 -- Female Shaun asks George Clooney when he's getting married, because the hosts apparently are required to ask the most obnoxiously awkward questions possible of every celebrity. Clooney says, "Tonight." Ian says, "Is it always this bad?" Wow, 18 minutes before having to ask that. Sorry, Ian -- it's going to get a lot worse.

7:22 -- Mandy Moore is dating Zach Braff?? Tom: "That lucky motherfucker!" Ian: "I guess that's what fame does for a gawky Jew. That's what I look like, and I don't get Mandy Moore."

7:24 -- Charlie Theron is rockin' a sheer dress that highlights her belly button. I would kill any seven of you for that belly button. O'Dell, Ian points out, does not seem to recall the title of Theron's Oscar-winning film, Monster. She calls it, "your movie where you got so many awards."

7:31 -- Do people still think Penelope Cruz is attractive? Just checking.

7:32 -- Lisa Rinna prompts my first "Golden Globes" joke. Jesus, try working on your acting rather than your bustline. Just a suggestion. Also: yowza.

7:33 -- Female Shaun goes for the double-awkward when talking to Hilary Swank. First, straight to her break-up with Chad Lowe. How's the horrible, crushing divorce? Enjoy the show! Then she asks her to show off her muscles. She's not actually a boxer, Shaun.

7:34 -- Speaking of Golden Globes, here's Mariah Carey! I instantly call bullshit on O'Dell's claim that Carey has tied Elvis for the most #1 singles of all time, but Ian leaps to her defense. "I read it in Guinness Book of World Records." "No way," I say. Ian: "WHY WOULD GUINNESS LIE TO ME??"

7:36 -- Russell Crowe punches Nancy O'Dell in the face. Not really. But wouldn't that be great? Ian, on Cinderella Man: "Russell Crowe playing someone who beats people up is not a stretch."

7:37 -- Female Shaun talks to "Mr. Matt Dillon." He pauses in the middle of his conversation with her to throw a "Thanks, hon," at Hilary Swank.

7:40 -- After an interminable chat, Female Shaun cuts Matt Dillon off. Ian says of Dillon's blather: "That made me want to kill myself a little."

7:42 -- There's Penelope Cruz again. She's pretty, in a "hit-in-the-face-with-a-2x4" kind of way.

7:46 -- They just showed a commercial showing Jamie Foxx's Ray Charles-esque singing during his acceptance speech last year. I'm thinking, "Thank Christ he's not going to sing this year," and as we come back from commercial, there's Female Shaun talking to Jamie Foxx, and mentioning he has the #1 record in the country. Oh, no. NO, DON'T SING -- but he does. I'm so sick of that guy.

7:49 -- Female Shaun asks Jason Lee what the Golden Globes experience is like so far. He says, "I'd kind of rather be at home taking a nap." Tempting, Jason, tempting! But I've made a pledge to the blogoshereiverse, and I shall not allow myself the luxury of falling asleep in the middle of this abomination.

7:51 -- O'Dell asks the cast of Will & Grace if they think their show helped pave the way for the popularity of Brokeback Mountain. Eric McCormack: "Oh, Brokeback Mountain is hilarious." Nice one.

7:55 -- The three co-hosts gather together to give a grand kiss-off before the main show. Ian: "We should get an award for watching that." On to the real train wreck!

Golden Globes Liveblogging Preliminaries

Hey, the Golden Globes are on tonight! Guess I know how I'll be celebrating MLKJ Day -- watching vain, vapid, worthless people preen and strut in pursuit of a meaningless bauble. GOD how I love it!!

In the tradition of last year's epic coverage, I'll be liveblogging the event. Or quasi-liveblogging it, since we West Coast people get the tape-delayed coverage. Meaning by the time I write about it here, it will be the distant past for 3/4 of the country. Oh well. It's still an excellent excuse for drinking and being inordinately cruel to, and judgmental of, people whom I've never met and never will. Several of whom don't even deserve it. (Possibly.)

Look for my post of the pre-show to begin sometime after 7PM Pacific, and the main event starting sometime after 8PM. I've got dial-up, so updates will be slow and infrequent, but I'll try to have something new up every fifteen minutes or so.

Previously, I made some commentary about this year's nominations, but I didn't make all my picks. Here they are now, in the major categories.



Gotta go with Brokeback. Still haven't seen it, and can't comment to its actual worth, but I get the feeling -- and I may be wrong -- that the Globes will want to assert their hipness superiority to the Oscars by giving the award to this one (above and beyond genuine considerations of its relative quality), while the Oscars will not.



Again, with the hipness factor in mind, I'm going with Felicity Huffman. Plus, it's hard to make a strong case for any of the other choices.



Tough call. I'm guessing it's between Hoffman and Ledger, and I'm gonna go with Ledger.



Walk the Line, no question. It's easy to pick the comedy category when they nominate a drama. Okay, I guess The Squid and the Whale is a slight possibility, but I still think extremely unlikely.



Has to be Witherspoon. Has to be.



And how can I not pick Phoenix for the sweep?



Johansson. It's just a hunch, and not a strong one. It's just, Woody Allen's supporting actresses often do very well come awards season.



I'm thinking Clooney.



Ang Lee. Though either Spielberg or Jackson could be slight spoilers.



If it were up to me, out of these choices, it's Rome by a mile. But it's not, so I'll pick Lost.



Please, anybody but goddam Patricia Arquette. I say Polly Walker.



Hugh Laurie.



Probably Housewives.



Could Huffman be a double winner tonight? I think yes.



Tough call, but I'll take Carell, in the role that won Ricky Gervais a Globe.

That's it for the categories in which I have even the slightest inkling -- fifteen total. I won't be checking the internet early for winners; I'll be waiting for the West Coast airing to find out. So please, no mention of the winners in the comments until after I've posted about them.

TV: 24

Spoilers ahead for Sunday's two-hour premiere.

America's favorite advocate of torture is back! No, not Dick Cheney -- Jack Bauer, former government agent and master of hurting bad guys a lot. Also some good guys every once in a while, but he always feels sorry for it later. Kind of.

The 5th season of 24 kicked off Sunday with a hell of a beginning. When Fox kept telling us the first ten minutes would blow us away, they weren't kidding. (Actually, it carried over into the first fifteen minutes.) Hey, there's our old buddy, ex-President David Palmer! How nice to see Dennis Haysbert guest-starring once ag-- BLAM!! DEAD!! Ho-lee shit. Not fake dead, not missing-body, might-turn-up-all-right-later dead: dead dead, with an assassin's bullet through his throat. I honestly did not believe this show had the guts to kill him off. But they did, and it was a brutal shock. Hey, but look -- it's Tony and Michelle, our favorite lovebirds from CTU, no longer working for the government, but ready to spring back into action to find the assassin-- BLAM!! DEAD!! (Well, Michelle's dead, Tony's in a coma.) NO WAY!!

Yes way. 24 is telling us right up front: they are pulling out all the stops this year. And I love it.

24 has not always thrilled me. It's definitely a "take your brain off the hook" kind of show, by which I mean you really, really need to ignore logic and consistency. If you can do that, it'll deliver you the best action on TV. But sometimes, even that hasn't been enough to keep me watching, and there is one reason for that: Kim Bauer, the dumbest character in the history of television (and I am including characters whose sole purpose is to be dumb, like Chrissy Snow, Gomer Pyle, Homer Simpson, and George W. Bush. Aw, hell yeah, that's two completely gratuitous shots at the current administration in one post. It's a good day).

I watched the first season of 24, and mostly enjoyed it, but any bit with Jack's idiot daughter Kim made me want to shoot my TV screen. She stepped in an animal trap and got menaced by a freakin' cougar, dude, that's how lame she was. [EDIT: Commenter Greg thinks this was in season two. He's probably right. Still: a freakin' cougar.] Also, she couldn't cross the street without getting kidnapped or revealing vital secrets to a bad guy.

Then she came back in season two, and she was even worse. I dropped the show for a while, but came back for the end of the season. Then, in season three, there she was, working at CTU. Yes, Kim Bauer was responsible for stopping terrorists. That's like counting on Gilligan to rescue you from the island. I quit after two episodes, and didn't come back.

Season four did the best thing they could possibly have done to bring me back: they wrote her out of the show. And it was a pretty darn good year, culminating in Jack faking his own death and walking off into the sunset all by his lonesome, a la Dr. Richard Kimble/David Banner. And here we have season five: the four people who know Jack's still alive have been targeted for death. Only Chloe evades the trap -- yay, Chloe!

Ostensibly, the four were targeted so that Jack could be framed for their murders. But there are always twists on top of twists -- it later seems that only Palmer was the real target, and the other three were diversions. But diversions from what? Surely not the hostage situation at the airport -- I imagine that will be resolved by the end of tonight's two-hour continuation. No, I'd bet there's an even bigger, more sinister plan looming on the horizon, and then probably another one or two after that.

Even at its best, 24 is far from perfect -- for example, the women characters are almost uniformly hostage-bait, crazy, or evil bitches. And Jack is, at this point, basically a psychopath. He will kill or maim anyone who gets in his way, and exhibit as much emotion as someone who just swatted a fly. And the middle episodes of each season tend to wander aimlessly. But for the explosive action, for the over-the-top twists, for the thrill of it all, it's solid popcorn entertainment. And this season is already looking like the best yet.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

TV: Four Kings

I've decided I'm not going to try to watch every single new midseason network show the way I did every single new Fall season network show. Mainly because I don't wanna. I don't wanna watch inJustice (as it's spelled on the commercials, and which is an obnoxiously irritating title), even if it does have Kyle MacLachlan and Constance Zimmer. And I don't wanna watch The Book of Daniel. I watched about five minutes of the two hour pilot, and quickly got sick of it. Ooh, look, we're so quirky and edgy!! Whatever. I just wanted to punch the daughter in her stupid head.

So instead, I watched Four Kings. Yeah, silly me. Look, I was just so happy that NBC had finally gone back to their traditional 8-10 PM four sitcom line-up on Thursday night that I wanted to check out the whole two hours. Here's what I found: Will & Grace is way past its prime. My Name Is Earl and The Office are the best hour of comedy on television. And then there's Four Kings.

Surely Seth Green had better offers than this. Wouldn't you think? He's not a huge star, but he's got a reliable enough following that he could've swung himself a better show that this. Well, maybe not. Too bad. He's the only thing even slightly funny about this show. And he ain't that funny.

The premise is: four guys decide to dump their girlfriends so they can all move in together into one of the guys' dead grandmother's apartment, and act like idiots instead of adults. Charming.

The lead characters are all bland and uninteresting, and the humor is obvious and juvenile. The line "Bros before hos" is used, which should give you an idea of where they're setting the bar on this show. And one of the main actors is from Committed, which should have tipped me off right from the start; that show was a vile, pustulent blight on the television landscape, and no one involved with it should ever be allowed to work in the entertainment industry ever again. Like, not even making balloon animals.

NBC made the right decision, returning to its classic "Must See" two-hour comedy formula on Thursday (and removing Joey from the mix). Unfortunately, only one of those hours is watchable, let alone "Must See" quality. They need to develop some more comedy ASAP.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Lazy Post

I started 2006 all full of enthusiasm and the determination that I would post in this blog every day this year. Then I thought, well, maybe every weekday. So, yeah, I guess that's not happening.

Rather than let another postless day go by, I'm gonna do one of the easiest kinds of posts there is: interesting search terms that have led to my site.

Before anything else, let me set some people straight. All you people who have been visiting looking for "Cobie Smulders naked pictures" -- first of all, get your minds out of the gutter, you dirty bastards. And secondly, if you find some, let me know.

Any blog has to expect its share of naughty Google hits, and I have written about young Ms. Smulders more than once. But it's the really specific searches about stuff I've never written about which wind up here that baffle me. Like: "mrs stevens free videos from my friends hot mom". What the hell?

"David Cross chicken pot pie" -- I get this one a lot. I wrote about Just Shoot Me! once, in the early months of this blog's existence, and yet it still brings me nearly daily visitors -- or rather, my mention of David Cross and his catch phrase does. I don't have a sound clip, people! I wish I did, but I don't.

You know what else I don't have here? Anything to do with actual dogs. I've been getting a lot of hits for "dog's name on Out of Practice". I didn't even know there was a dog on that show. That show sucks. And, even though I've never seen it, I have to assume that dog sucks, too. I don't know the dog's name. Or then there's "x-ray of dog break". I don't even know what that means, but it creeps me out. And the people who come here looking for dog sex videos: you are going to hell. Just, stop looking to me for anything about dogs. It's my screen name, not my hobby.

Here's the weirdest, most specific search I've gotten this week: "What can I tell you that you don't already know about me? I mean, seriously. I could tell you about the time I won the Oscar for both Best Actor and Best Actress in a Motion Picture, but who hasn't heard t" -- it gets cut off there. I can understand why "Oscar" would lead somebody here, but this is obviously a specific quote from a movie or book, and I have no idea who said it or wrote it. And now I wish I did. It sounds like it's heading somewhere funny. Any of you have a clue? (I refuse to do my own Google search on Google search terms that have led to my site. I fear it might open a rip in the space-time continuum.)

And, last and best of all: I am still getting daily hits for "Misty May's ass". It makes me strangely satisfied that there are probably people who have been reading my site for months now who have no idea why that search term would lead to me, or why I find it so funny. And I'm not going to explain it. Do your own Google search!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Sony sucks

So, in response to the people who wondered in the comments to a previous post whether Neil Diamond's 12 Songs album might be one of those infected with the hidden and, by all accounts, completely illegal (mainly because it uploads whether you click OK or not on the "Terms and Conditions" window -- and in fact, when I put the disc in my computer, that window didn't even appear), memory-hogging, and potentially computer-damaging rootkit virus? Turns out: yep.

Had I ordered the disc through Amazon, I would have had ample warning, via various user comments, that this was one of those infected discs. But instead, I bought it at a local used CD shop, and it's my fault I didn't do any research on it when I brought it home. But really, who thinks of doing research on whether a music CD will fuck up your computer?

I did some internet scouting, and found some sites which have helped me to identify the virus, determine whether or not it was active (which it appears it wasn't), and to deactivate it. Removing it -- that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish. The problem with this thing is that it digs down deep into your computer and conceals itself, and it also links to other programs, so that if I attempt finding and removing it, possibly my media players will be deactivated or disappear, or possibly I'll wind up facing the dreaded Blue Screen of Death. Sony has released their own removal program, available for download at their site, but apparently it causes even more of a security hazard than the original rootkit virus does.

So, I've been able to deactivate it, which is good, but I don't want to just leave it where it is, because it takes up so much memory. I've already noticed slowing on my computer. I'm still trying to find reliable, detailed, and understandable instructions for removing the damned thing once and for all. If any of you have any tips, please send them my way. And if you're thinking about buying 12 Songs -- which really is quite good -- I 100% endorse downloading it wherever you can, instead of buying the actual disc. Fuck Sony.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Here it is, your Oscars moment of Zen

Jon Stewart to host 2006 Academy Awards.

Can I get a HELL YEAH? (From everyone, not just Neil Diamond.)

Really, anyone but Whoopi fucking Goldberg is a victory. (There's a reason why she's permanently vilified in my site's headbar text above, mostly having to do with how very, very awful her Oscar hosting gigs have been.) But Stewart -- this has potential to be truly excellent.

Or not -- the Academy Awards is not an easy forum, even for the best of comedians. But I have high hopes.

Maybe next year -- Conan O'Brien? (Fingers crossed.)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sidebar Update: 2K6 Style, Yo!

It's my first sidebar update of the new year! And a belated one, at that. My weekend update schedule is shot to hell. We'll have to wait and see if I update again this Saturday, or let it ride till next weekend.

I spent a lot of New Year's weekend watching the Sci-Fi Channel's Twilight Zone marathon. Man, it's been a while since I've watched an episode. And after all these years, they're still fantastic. Burgess Meredith in "Time Enough At Last" -- still gives me chills. And "Eye of the Beholder" holds up as strongly as ever. Great, great stuff. And I also got to catch "Two" -- one of the lesser episodes, certainly, but one of my faves, about an American soldier and a Russian soldier who run across one another in an abandoned city, the only survivors of whatever battle there may have been. The American is Charles Bronson, and the Russian is Elizabeth Montgomery. And I'll tell you what, damned if Elizabeth Montgomery in this episode isn't about the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. Sure, she was hot on Bewitched, too, but it was more of a "mom" hot. (Or "MILF" hot, if you will.) In "Two," she's younger and so unbelievably gorgeous, even if her face is dirty for most of the show. And she's brunette! I looked long and hard for a good screencap from this episode for my sidebar; there used to be an excellent Twilight Zone fan site, with large and copious caps from every episode, but whatever that site was, I can't find it anymore. My thanks to Dorian, who found me the picture I wound up using; it still doesn't quite do her justice, but it's the best to be found on the internet, apparently.

I'm still reading Quicksilver, kind of, off and on. Once again, I don't think I'm going to make it through. I keep putting it down to read other books. Right now I'm reading Joe R. Lansdale's Bumper Crop, a collection of short stories, mostly of the horror persuasion. Lansdale is awesome, and these stories have a kick like Stephen King's stories used to, circa Night Shift: brief and sharp and hair-raising.

HBO has been rerunning The Sopranos from the beginning, building up to the new season, and I've been loading up my TiVo with a boatload of episodes (which I need to plow through -- the TiVo is quickly running out of space). I missed out on the show after the second season, which is when I moved, and didn't renew HBO at my new place. I've got a lot of mafia goodness to catch up on!

I made myself a copy of 12 Songs, the Neil Diamond CD I gave my mom for Christmas, and I love it. And I'll bust any one of you in the chops who dares speak ill of the Jewish Elvis! "Hell Yeah" has rapidly become one of my most played tracks; it also appears under Lyric of the Week. (I'm also digging "Delirious Love.")

Pat Robertson said something vile and loathsome this week. What a shocker! He suggested that Ariel Sharon's stroke was a punishment from God for ceding land to the Palestinians. Pat Robertson is a twisted, evil old fuck.

Bonus hate! I love Nellie McKay's first album, Get Away From Me. Her follow-up album was supposed to be released this week. But, as I discovered via Various and Sundry, Columbia Records has refused to release it due to disputes with McKay over the album's length. It will surely be released by some other label, but not any time soon. Son of a biscuit!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

MOVIES: Top Ten of 2005

I guess it's about time I got around to looking at the movies I watched in 2005, and seeing if I can cobble together a top ten. As always, I'm surprised by how many movies I missed that I'd really been looking forward to (like Broken Flowers, The Squid and the Whale, A History of Violence, and Jesus Is Magic), and I'm also surprised at how many more of the year's releases I wound up seeing on DVD than I thought I had (even though very few of those DVD viewings were especially great).

And now that I'm looking at a list of which 2005 releases I've seen (with my memory aided by this list -- which I found via Monty), I'm surprised once again to find that there are more candidates for a legitimate top ten than I would've expected. If push comes to shove, I guess this is how I'd break it down.

The Top Ten

1. The Devil's Rejects
I honestly tried to think of a reason not to put this at #1. Seriously, is this who I am? But if I'm going to be honest, I genuinely enjoyed this movie more than any other I saw this year. Is it, objectively speaking, the best made film? No, I can't pretend that it is. But for me, for who I am, for the great time I had in the theater, and for the additional enjoyment I got out of it when I bought the DVD, for an unabashed lover of all things horror: this was my favorite film of 2005. Make of that what you will.

2. Munich
Objectively speaking, this is the best made film I saw this year. Spielberg has created a brutal, brilliant, thoughtful and thought-provoking reflection on violence, and what drives men to it, and whether it can ever truly be justified.

3. King Kong
My gripes about its length aside, this is not only the best action film of the year, it's also got a real heart to it.

4. Sin City
With its amazing visual style, its hilariously hard-boiled dialogue, and its gleeful embrace of sex and violence, this most faithful comic book adaptation ever was sheer joy.

5. The Aristocrats
The movie that made me laugh more than any other in 2005. For a fan of stand-up comedy, it's a revelation, even if it mostly only reveals what kinds of filthy depravity comedians can imagine.

6. Serenity
In a fair world, this would have been the year's big sci-fi blockbuster, not George Lucas' latest corruption of the vision of his youth. Terrific action and a winning cast, and a satisfying conclusion (if it is the conclusion) to the Firefly saga.

7. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
There were some people who hated it for not being more faithful to the book. But I loved it. I loved the humor, I loved the cast, and I was genuinely surprised and thrilled by many of the visual effects.

8. Oldboy
Twisted, cruel, mesmerizing, stunning.

9. Walk the Line
Reese Witherspoon should win an Oscar, and Joaquin Phoenix was just as good in this biopic of a music legend.

10. Me and You and Everyone We Know
I didn't expect to like this film so much. Its skewed vision of the world turns things that should be shocking or offensive into oddly tender and innocent moments, and its love story between two misfits is touching and original.

A Few Runners-Up

The Upside of Anger: Great work from Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, and all four of the young actresses in this funny and moving story about a woman who wallows in her bitterness following a betrayal.

Kung Fu Hustle: A giddily cartoonish kung fu flick so far over the top, you can't even tell where the top ended.

George A. Romero's Land of the Dead: The least of Romero's four zombie flicks, but still more than worthy, and a delight for a horror buff like myself.

The 40 Year Old Virgin: Raunch with a heart. Steve Carell is awesome, as is Paul Rudd.

Wedding Crashers: Raunch without much of a heart. But still very funny.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The best Potter film yet.

The Ice Harvest: Darkly comic film noir with great performances from John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, and Oliver Platt.

Bad News Bears: Every bit as good as the original, with (to its credit) no effort made to soften up either the venal, abusive coach (Billy Bob again) or his foul-mouthed team of losers.

Wish I'd Waited For The DVD

Batman Begins: All the stuff with Bruce Wayne is great. The Batman stuff, not so much.
The Interpreter: Well-made, but nothing special.

Worthwhile DVD Rentals

Hitch: Mostly for the parts with Kevin James.
Havoc: Mostly for the parts with Anne Hathaway being naughty.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith: Pretty people blowing shit up. What's wrong with that?
Kicking and Screaming: Extremely juvenile, but Will Ferrell's always good for a laugh.
Madagascar: A favorite Christmas gift for my two-year-old niece. I think I'd like it even more if I had just once watched it without being forced to quit watching and play Candy Land in the middle of it.

Didn't Hate It

War of the Worlds: Though I sure did hate the ending.
Fantastic Four: I was feeling generous when I saw it.
Fever Pitch
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith: Still better than I and II combined, but the more I think of it, the less I like it.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Can't hold a candle to the Gene Wilder version, but not completely without merit.

Hated It

The Dukes of Hazzard

Worst Movie I Saw This Year

High Tension: The dumbest (and most ruinous to my opinion of the film) "twist" ending I've ever seen. Still, it's miles better than the worst movies of 2004, Butterfly Effect and The Grudge.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Half of them didn't hate it!

A commercial for Casanova tonight reminded me once again of my eternal nitpick with movie ads that use quotes from critics: why, why, why do so many of them insist on boasting about one thumb up?

"Big Thumbs Up!" trumpets this Casanova commercial, attributing it to Richard Roeper. Hmm, so Roeper liked it. But, gee... I wonder what Ebert thought of it?

Idiots! Are they not aware what a single thumb up translates to for the typical home viewer? "The Other Guy Hated It!"

Seriously, unless you get the two thumbs up, don't bother. Just, just don't bother. It's pathetic. You might just as well say, "50% of the critics polled didn't think this film sucked ass! Whoopee!!"

Monday, January 02, 2006

MOVIES: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you KONG!

Spoilers ahead. Kong dies. See! Spoiler!

Do you know, I've actually heard people complain that that is a spoiler. I kind of think if you've been alive for more than ten years, you really should know Kong gets it in the end. But fine, if you want to call that a spoiler, I guess there are other possible spoilers ahead. Including: Rosebud is a sled, Norman Bates dresses up like his mother to kill people, Rhett Butler ditches Scarlett O'Hara, Bogart stays in Casablanca when Bergman leaves, and Darth Vader is Luke's father.

So! I finally saw Peter Jackson's King Kong tonight, and it was spectacular. In fact, it might have been a little too spectacular. I'll get to that in a bit.

I don't think I'm going out on a limb here by saying the opening part of the film could have been trimmed here and there. I mean, it takes nearly as long to get our first sight of King Kong in this version as the 1933 original took for the entire movie. I didn't need to know that much about any of the characters: Naomi Watts' vaudeville career, her romance with Adrien Brody, Jack Black's studio troubles -- it all felt like a lot of padding so Jackson could present the film as a legitimate epic, rather than "merely" one of the greatest action pictures ever made. "Look! Characters! Plot! Not just giant monkeys!" Fine, Peter. But the most interesting character work comes after Kong appears, especially for Watts.

What's more, I didn't need to know most of the characters at all. Kyle Chandler's actor character was fairly entertaining, and the captain, I guess, was important to the tale -- but Jack Black's assistant? And sound recorder? And cameraman? And the rest of the ship's crew, especially the Hayes and Jimmy characters? Who cares? I was just sitting there thinking, oh my god, are they really going to spend this much time on people I could not care less about? Yes, yes they are, and more.

So, yeah, I'd say a good half hour could have been cut from the beginning of the film without losing anything, and I don't think I'll be the first, or the last, to say as much. But the funny thing is, I thought the middle part could have been trimmed down a lot too -- and I loved the middle part.

There are so many amazing sequences during the Skull Island segment of the film. The dinosaur stampede. The log shaking. The bug attack. The T. Rex attack. The bat attack. The capture of Kong. They're all tremendous, they're all brilliant spectacles. But it becomes almost oppressively spectacular. Seriously, once Kong appears -- we're sold, dude. We're sold. Kong works so seamlessly well, he's such an incredible creation, that there comes a point where Jackson maybe could've stopped trying to sell us so hard. The dinosaur stampede could've been cut down a bit -- maybe a lot. The whole bug scene was marvelously creepy, but also could have lost a few minutes. The T. Rex battle... no, okay, don't lose a second of that. That was frickin' awesome. But that should've been the major action setpiece of the middle of the picture, and instead, there were, like, eighty-seven major action setpieces.

So, I guess I'm complaining about too much of a good thing. Oh well.

In addition to the action, I loved the quieter moments between Naomi Watts and Kong. Her dance routine for him is so unexpected, and charming (if still slightly unsettling, as in the way he knocks her to the ground and laughs, not understanding he's hurting her), and Kong is so expressive, that it becomes one of those rare, truly magic movie moments.

And then, there's the final part of the movie, when Kong has been taken to New York. It zips along at breakneck speed, in comparison with the rest of the film, and that's partly why I liked it the best. The action is still top-notch -- Kong's escape, the car chase, and of course, the magnificent battle atop the Empire State Building. But there's still room for the quiet, touching moments, such as Kong's delight at discovering a frozen pond, or the way he and Watts admire the beauty of the view from above the city before the airplanes attack. Or, most affecting of all, the way he looks at Watts when he knows he's dying. Jackson wrings genuine emotion out of that moment, and it's a heartbreaking capper to a wonderful film.

All in all, King Kong is a grand achievement, thrilling and moving, if maybe 40 or 50 minutes longer than it needed to be. Really, even the parts that should've been cut weren't truly bad; they were just expendable. A great start to my new year in movies.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

An exciting preview of 2006 at Tom the Dog's You Know What I Like?

Happy New Year, all y'alls! Despite my sickness, I was able to have a very enjoyable New Year's Eve, hanging out at a friend's house in Ojai, drinking, eating delicious barbecued steaks, drinking, watching a very, very bad movie, drinking, and getting depressed witnessing the sad state of Dick Clark.

Here are some things I have enjoyed (or not) over the past week and a half, that I plan on writing about at some point. Not that I'm going to make a resolution that I'll definitely write about all of them, or anything like that. Because that can only end in disappointment. But I will try to hit the high points. (And a few low points.)


The Areas of My Expertise, by John Hodgman

The Amphora Project, by William Kotzwinkle


Sci-Fi Channel's Twilight Zone marathon

The last Monday Night Football telecast on ABC





War of the Worlds

American Pie Presents: Band Camp (this is the very, very bad movie I mentioned)

Kicking and Screaming


Saturday Night Live's The Chronic(what?)cles of Narnia sketch, which has to be the funniest thing they've done in five years, easy (it's under "Videos," and might not be there for very long; check it out while you can)


Dave & Buster's

The Broncos/Raiders game at Mile High Stadium on Christmas Eve (sweet!)


Kathleen Edwards, Back to Me

Neil Diamond, 12 Songs

...and old albums I copied onto my MP3 player from my brother-in-law, from such groups as Coldplay, Ben Folds, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Randy Newman, Jack Johnson, Johnny Cash, Cake, and Ryan Adams.

So I've got no excuse not to post a ton of stuff over the coming days and weeks! Other than my natural tendency to laziness. Which is legendary.

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