Tuesday, September 26, 2006

the controversy over "buddies"

What a raging controversy this has become amongst me and my 1.7 readers! Fine, Beau, call your friends "buddies." All I'm saying is that I've known some frat-type meatheads and wannabe meatheads who call their friends "buddies," and it's usually a sure sign that they're tools in case I hadn't figured that out already.

Case closed? The 1.7 comments I've received about this so far have really rattled me, so I want to set the record straight. (Rattling ceases. Fade out.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

So funny it's lethal?

Lethal Weapon was on Comedy Central a few hours ago. Are they that desperate for programming? Did an intern spill coffee on the only working copy of Joe Dirt? (FACT! Only interns spill coffee on important things.)

Lethal Weapon is pretty much a straight action movie, not an action-comedy like its sequels. Unlike the various times in my life when I've felt suicidal, Mel Gibson's tendencies in Lethal Weapon aren't meant to make people laugh. (Well, mine weren't either, but, you know, "tears of a clown" and what not.) By "Mel Gibson," I mean his character, Martin Riggs, but one spin on the Mel Gibson drunk-driving story back in August was that he was driving drunk because he was feeling suicidal, and that's the real story, people, not the anti-Semitic comments he made to the arresting officers. Maybe all Mel needed that night before he got in his car was a hug from his old pal Danny Glover and a stern reminder that when it comes to DWIF (driving while intoxicated and famous), Mel's "too old for this shit."

The picture of Mel up above was featured on Yahoo! News today alongside articles about test screenings he conducted over the weekend for his new directorial effort, Apocalypto, which comes out in December. Media bias, anyone? Nah, couldn't be.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ticking Tom bomb go boom!

Tom Cruise isn't having the best year. In terms of his career and PR problems, I mean. He's a new father, so his personal life can't be too bad. But his 14-year production and development deal with Paramount Pictures was terminated last month by Paramount due to his "recent conduct," according to Sumner Redstone, the chairman of Viacom, which owns Paramount.* 

Redstone is a rich, powerful man. He's also 83 years old. And as we all know, old people with lots of power and money can sometimes make bad decisions. (Just ask Anna Nicole Smith's second husband.)

Redstone also pointed out in his interviews to the press that the disappointing performance of Mission: Impossible III this summer was due to the public's disdain for Cruise's couch jumping on The Oprah Winfrey Show, his none-too-shy views on the evils of psychiatry and antidepressants in an interview with Today's Matt Lauer, that time he karate-chopped a pregnant Brooke Shields outside of a crowded L.A. bistro, etc.

Mission: Impossible III earned $133 million in U.S. theaters. Yes, that's disappointing compared to Mission: Impossible II's $215 million gross six years ago and the original Mission's $180 million gross a decade ago. But you know what other Tom Cruise movie underperformed at the box office, yet no one seemed to notice or care? Minority Report, the 2002 Steven Spielberg film based on a Philip K. Dick short story. It earned "only" $132 million.

Minority Report is a well-acted, funny, intelligent, thrilling movie. In fact it's the last movie I saw in a theater that I immediately wanted to see again, just like when I was a child. My only guess as to why it underperformed is that it was a little too dark for some moviegoers, similar to Blade Runner, a futuristic fantasy that bombed upon release in 1982 but is now considered a science fiction classic.

You could argue that Minority Report wasn't a sequel and therefore the financial expectations for it weren't as high as they were for Mission: Impossible III. But Minority Report was a big deal four years ago: ­the world's biggest star was collaborating with the world's biggest director for the first time. Since the final product actually turned out to be good (no small feat), its financial success should've been guaranteed, but Minority Report's opening-weekend gross was almost exactly the same as Disney's Lilo & Stitch, which was no one's idea of an animated blockbuster along the lines of The Lion King. Minority and Lilo ended up making roughly the same amount of money in the end, but the press didn't talk much about that.

Fast-forward three years later to Cruise and Spielberg's second team-up,
War of the Worlds, which came out a month or so after Cruise's appearance on Oprah. So what if he jumped on a couch? The man was in love. (No, I don't think he's gay. That rumor's a dead end.) Or L. Ron Hubbard's ghost made him levitate briefly; I'm not sure. But the Oprah appearance seemed to mark a turning point for Cruise in terms of moviegoers sharpening their knives to kill another idol. The general public and the media can only take so much blinding light from a megawatt smile like Cruise's before they frantically start swinging baseball bats at the source.

War of the Worlds made $234 million last year, a full $100 million more than Minority Report. Was it a better movie? I don't think so, although it was good. Was it any less dark than Minority Report? Nope. All those sobering 9/11 overtones were hard to miss. The only cop-out, in my opinion, came in the final minutes of the film, when a certain character's fate was revealed.

When War of the Worlds was released no one said, "If this one disappoints at the box office like Minority Report did three years ago, don't expect another collaboration between Cruise and Spielberg." But now that Cruise has officially been knocked down a peg, it's okay to say that Mission: Impossible III choked.**

In early 2004 Cruise fired his longtime publicist, Pat Kingsley, and hired his sister, a fellow Scientologist, to do the job, even though she had no PR experience. But after those eyebrow-raising interviews in the summer of '05, Cruise sent his sister away last November to handle his charity work, then apologized to Brooke Shields last month for cutting off two of her thumbs, gangland style, outside of a crowded L.A. bistro. Good call, Tom. Take some time off with your wife and new baby and remember what really matters in life.

... What's that, you say? Tom hasn't married Katie Holmes yet? Forget everything I just said. How dare that man sire a child out of wedlock! He must not be ready to commit to a lifetime of marital bliss with Joey Potter because he's a flaming homosexual!!!!

* A minute ago I saw an online banner ad that read, "Is Tom Cruise out of control? Answer for a FREE dinner for two at Olive Garden!" How offensive. I would never eat at Olive Garden. (Just kidding. The house salad never disappointed in high school.)

** Twelve of Tom Cruise's last 14 movies have made $100 million or more at the U.S. box office. Vanilla Sky (2001) and Collateral (2004) both squeaked past that mark, and although Eyes Wide Shut and Magnolia (both 1999, but just the former features Cruise in a lead role) fell short, only Tom Hanks has a better track record over the same period of time (1992-2006), as far as I know.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Sorry for not updating this thing in a while, guys. Seriously, sorry. I had a rough week, some emotional stuff happened ... you know the deal. Nothing big, but nothing I want to talk about right now either. Maybe one day soon, when the wound's healed a little bit, you know what I mean? Alright, later.

Monday, September 11, 2006

college livin'

"The place is a piece of **** with no disposal or ice maker!!! I feel like I live in the 70s!"

That's a quote from ApartmentRatings.com, a Web site where you can rate and comment on your former dwellings, plus the landlords or management teams who stopped caring about your well-being once you paid your security deposit. I wasn't able to find the apartment complex where I lived my sophomore year of college in Athens, Ga., or my first apartment building in Atlanta (which was torn down in 2000, so ... uh ... case closed), but every other complex or building I've lived in is listed. It looks like my junior- and senior-year Athens residences have been in declining health for a while, and my second and third residences in Atlanta have apparently become new circles of hell. (You heard correctly—the circles are brand-new, but the contractor and his crew did a very shoddy job building them. There's always a catch.)

The quote up top comes from a recent resident of Aspen Apartments, formerly Players Club Apartments, where I lived from September of '96 to August of '97. As my friend Beau pointed out to me, college students these days probably expect more from apartments than we did ten years ago, but I've only had an ice maker once, and I've lived in apartments for 11 years now. Next Joe College will be complaining that the washing machine in his apartment isn't big enough to wash both his whites and darks at the same time.

I lived in three decent apartments in Athens, and I had quiet neighbors in all of them. How come all of my neighbors got louder the older I got? Isn't college the time in your life when you expect to be woken up by drunken idiots blasting their stereo through the wall? Unfortunately, it's happened to me ever since I started working for a living.

Okay, confession time, people—I didn't write what you just read on September 11th. I know, I know ... the blog clearly says that September 11th is the date of this entry. But it's not. I'm writing this right now on September 19th. A full eight days later. Can you forgive me?
(On a side note, do you think President Bush uses "091101" when he plays the lottery? Those numbers sure did bring him plenty of good luck in the last election.)

One other thing—I'm not a panda. I know, I know ... the blog's name clearly implies that I'm a panda. But I'm not. I don't even like pandas that much. In fact, I slaughtered one when I was younger and made a beanbag out of it. Can you forgive me?

One more thing—I didn't make the beanbag myself. I know, I know ... I just said that I did. But I didn't. I asked an old alcoholic Indian dying of cirrhosis to do it for me. And then I paid him with a few jugs of corn liquor. (Or maize liquor, if you prefer.) Can you forgive me?

One final thing—I just realized I'm a real man's man, because I know how to make my own ice.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

an example of friendship

On MySpace today I found a picture in someone's "comments" section of Jesus holding a 40-ounce bottle of Olde English, with the words "Jesus is my nigga" underneath.

This is an example of what guys with "buddies" find funny. Look, I enjoy ignorance and blasphemy as much as the next guy, but why not class up the punchline a bit, you know?

pretty sad

I saw a rerun of Saturday Night Live from the past season last night. Julia Louis-Dreyfus was the host. In her monologue she said that she was the first female cast member from the entire 31 years of the show to come back and host. I realize cast members like Jan Hooks and Molly Shannon and Cheri Oteri didn't become big stars after they left the show, but that's a sad track record nonetheless.

Saturday, September 9, 2006


I don't trust men who constantly refer to their friends as "buddies." You shouldn't either.

Friday, September 8, 2006

"Success has always been the best form of revenge."

Back in April I heard an album by Murs and 9th Wonder called Murray's Revenge. It's the most consistent rap album I've ever heard. Granted, I don't listen to a ton of rap albums, and it helps that Murray's Revenge is only 32 minutes long instead of the usual 70-minutes-plus that many rap albums contain these days. No unfunny skits, no lengthy answering-machine messages (even Common and De La Soul, two of my favorite hip-hop acts, are guilty of these crimes)—just one great song after another, and the album never wears out its welcome.

Murs is from Los Angeles and has been recording since 1993, the year he turned 15 (!), according to All Music Guide, and 9th Wonder is his producer for 2006's Murray's Revenge. I doubt Murs was legally bound to give 9th Wonder second billing on the front of the album alongside his own name, but this is their second album together as performer and producer (the first being 2004's Murs 3:16—The 9th Edition, which obviously hints at its producer's involvement), and maybe Murs wanted to show his appreciation. Whatever the case, the "co-headliner" billing makes sense, because 9th Wonder's production is terrific on this album. He specializes in '70s soul samples (William Bell, Valerie Simpson, and Ben E. King, for example, on Murray's Revenge), and I'm a huge fan of '70s soul, so I have no objections. He deserves a lot of credit for how great the album sounds.

9th Wonder is a member of North Carolina's Little Brother (Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh do the rapping while 9th Wonder produces/DJs). The production on their 2005 album The Minstrel Show is also terrific (9th Wonder samples Michael Franks's "I Really Hope It's You" on "All for You," and the results are pretty damn blissful), but Phonte and Pooh spend too much time complaining about how they don't get enough respect. Thanks, but I already heard that kind of bitching and moaning on De La Soul Is Dead back in 1991. Wasn't entertaining then, isn't entertaining now. Save it for a run-of-the-mill blog entry like I do, fellas.

Murs does some standard rapper boasting, but not about how rich he is because, well, he isn't and he doesn't feel like pretending that he is. Instead he gives us his take on his hometown in "L.A." ("A place that everybody hate but you gotta see once"); working a 9-to-5 job you can't stand to support your kids and simply soldiering on one day at a time, in "Yesterday & Today"; being in a relationship that's going nowhere and yet neither partner wants to face facts, in "Love & Appreciate" ("I put on the weight, you put on the brakes / Now we both sit around with that look on our face"); and idolizing a gang member when you're nine years old because he plays with real guns, not the plastic ones your G.I. Joe figures carry, in "Dreamchaser."

Murray's Revenge also includes "D.S.W.G. (Dark Skinned White Girls)," in which Murs empathizes with those stranded between two worlds ("All the black girls think that she want they man / But it's not your fault they attracted to you / That you blessed and got as much back as you do ... Rejected by the black, not accepted by the white world / This is dedicated to them Dark Skinned White Girls"). Finally, will you be able to resist Valerie Simpson's sampled vocal hook on "Silly Girl" ("Ha ha ha, silly!")? No, you will not. It will sublet space in your brain for months on end.

Well, that's enough of a by-the-numbers review for you. Seek out some tracks on the Hype Machine if they're out there in the blogosphere, or listen to four of the songs on Murs's MySpace page. It was a nice surprise to get to the end of Murray's Revenge and realize, "Hey, every song was good! And Murs's raps held my attention! And the samples were interesting and made me want to seek out the originals! And the whole thing flowed yet every track stood out!" Maybe I'll blast some of it for the construction crew on Monday. "L-dot-A-dot-Californ-I-A hot!"

I'm listening to Aerosmith right now!

But not by choice. See, the window-replacement guy right outside my window is listening to the radio right now, and "Walk This Way" is on. (I genuinely like this song. But I'd rather hear it on my own terms.) Previously I heard "Alive" by Pearl Jam. Thanks for the classic/alternative rock, brah! Wait, now he's changing the station ... now the radio's turned off ... nope, it just went silent for a few seconds ... and now it's on a Spanish-language station ... and he's singing along ... and it's a Spanish polka. I didn't know that genre existed. I'm learning so much today.

One thing I didn't like learning on Wednesday night was that the window-replacement guys would be in my apartment on Friday morning at 7 AM. Last night I moved all of my furniture out of the way of the windows but couldn't get to sleep until after 2 AM, which posed a problem since I had to be awake and out of my apartment by 7. At 7 I waited for a knock on my door, but it never came. Once the window-washing "bucket" finally ascended up the building around 7:45, it went up to the sixth floor. I live on the fifth. Glad I got up at 5:30 for no goddamn reason! At 8:30 the pounding and drilling up above got to be too much, so I left to go to work and sleep there (where there is a couch and it is comfy).

On days when I've been home and the window construction has been taking place, the construction crew is usually done by 3:00. So around 3:45 I left work to come home ... and discovered that my apartment wasn't even touched today. I moved all that furniture for nothing. I woke up at 5:30 for nothing. I didn't go to work for nothing, since I didn't want to hang around here—never mind that I wasn't on the clock this Friday, so I was just hanging out at work and exploiting that comfy couch—but still, my windows weren't replaced today. When I got up to my apartment I found a note under my door saying that my windows will now be replaced on Monday. Which is September 11th. What a great omen!

And today, for some reason, the construction crew was still here at 4:15 when I got home. The guy who loves Spanish polka just finally descended in his bucket at 5:35 after slamming the bucket against the building every ten seconds for ten minutes. Unsolicited Spanish polka music + loud banging noises + window replacement being delayed by three days = salty anger. I think I should take a shower and then listen to some soft rock.

I'm not leaving my apartment at 7 on Monday. Fuuuuuck that. I'm doing my laundry like I always do on Monday morning, and those bastards can work around the folding of my whites and delicates. On Wednesday I was awakened 45 minutes early by one of the construction guys calling another one "motherfucker" and threatening to start a fight. The female member of the crew did her best Edith Bunker impression and yelled "Josh, stop it! Josh!" a few times. I then closed my window—this is all a scam to make us leave our AC window units running all night long, I betcha—and five minutes later heard the motherfuckering and "Josh, stop!" start up again. Other dude, Josh was so close to kicking your ass. You don't even know, dude. You don't even know. Is it possible to have that much adrenaline flowing through your system at 7:15 AM? Maybe Josh had a bad commute. Traffic'll do that to you. But I have a feeling Josh isn't the kind of guy who worries about using his turn signals or driving the speed limit anyway.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

The Atlanta Braves, Pt. 2

Now I'm hearing that the Braves still have a shot at a wild-card slot in the playoffs. But they're still almost 20 games out of first. The whole wild-card thing in baseball the past 11 years reminds me of people in high school who got good grades but never studied. Their brains weren't sponges; they just knew how to beat the system and therefore came out on top with little effort. I never really respected those people. But since I wasted so much time studying in high school and college and still wound up in the job-world wilderness, maybe I should stop respecting myself so much.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

the kind of world celebrities live in

From IMDB.com's gossip page: "[Jessica] Simpson is reportedly telling friends she is in love with ... singer [John Mayer]. A source close to Mayer tells Us Weekly, 'They've only gotten together a handful of times over the last few weeks. But yes, they've made out.' A Simpson source tells the magazine that the couple have yet to consummate their new relationship."

Well, when they do finally consummate they should let us know. It'd be rude of them to keep it to themselves.