Wednesday, March 28, 2007

escalator etiquette

Just like on the highway, you should stand on the right side and pass on the left. (Well, sort of like on the highway. Standing on a highway would be a bad idea.) Now, let's get out there and show the rest of the world how it's done.

I think I'm going to start deleting old posts from this blog. Some are too whiny, self-pitying, personal, and/or pointless, and the world doesn't need another "me me me" blog. The world doesn't need more blogs in general, of course, but pandas are an endangered species, so in some ways the world does need this particular blog. God bless the beasts and the loopholes.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

a movie poster that could've used less copy editing

I trust IMDB here—the new digitally animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is called, simply, TMNT.

Charlize Keaton

I didn't see Charlize Theron's Oscar-winning performance in Monster (2003) until a few months ago, but when I finally saw the film I noticed something strange: in certain scenes Theron appears to be channeling Michael Keaton's performance in Beetlejuice (1988). Then I searched on the Internet and discovered I wasn't the first to notice the similarities, but I think we should demand that Miss Theron give another acceptance speech in which she acknowledges Mr. Keaton's contribution to her tour de force.

I can't find any stills online from the scene in which Lee Wuornos (Theron) and Selby Wall (Christina Ricci) are eating dinner in a restaurant and Selby lights up a cigarette in the nonsmoking section, which causes the restaurant's manager to tell her to put it out, which then leads to Wuornos pushing the manager over a table. That's the scene where Theron comes closest to looking like Keaton as Beetlejuice, not just in her face but also in her body language.

Keaton, by the way, has never been nominated for an Oscar. And I've never seen Beetlejuice, but I'm in too deep to pull out now, aren't I?

He was a funny man, and he'll be missed.

Calvert DeForest, a.k.a. Larry "Bud" Melman on Late Night With David Letterman from 1982 to 1993, died last Monday at the age of 85. I have fond memories of watching Late Night anniversary specials, which were often broadcast in prime time (I wasn't allowed to stay up till 12:30 to see Late Night "live," but sometimes my brother and I would tape the show and watch it the next day), and seeing DeForest's various appearances on the show. I never got the feeling he wasn't in on the joke.

Below is a clip from November 16, 1983, of DeForest handing out hot towels to passengers arriving at the Port Authority bus depot in New York City.
The man knew how to wield a microphone.

"Welcome to New York, sometimes called Fun City. HAHAHA!!!!"

Saturday, March 24, 2007

How could you?!

It turns out Britta Phillips is married to Dean Wareham. Why wasn't I informed by myself through better research before I wrote that internationally broadcast scratch-paper love letter to her?! (It turns out she used to be married to Jody Porter, her former bandmate and current Fountains of Wayne guitarist and son of my dad's high school friend. Oh yeah, did I mention that my big brother's former babysitter directed Angelina Jolie in 1996's Foxfire? Yeah, that's right—I know everybody very indirectly.) But I forgive you, Britta. It's all filtered water under the bridge as far as I'm concerned.

Say, isn't it interesting that Britta was the singing voice of Jem on the '80s cartoon Jem and Cheryl Ladd was the singing voice of Melody on the '70s cartoon Josie and the Pussycats?

(HOORAY! I've successfully completed a brilliant segue into talking about
Charlie's Angels once again!)

Here's why I'm bringing up Charlie's Angels for the umpteenth time—it's going off the air! Ion is taking the show off its weeknight schedule after next Friday. Thanks for not allowing my new obsession to fully blossom, Ion. But they are replacing Charlie's Angels with reruns of The Wonder Years, which isn't a bad thing at all. For one thing, it's a much better show. I don't remember when I last saw The Wonder Years on TV. Maybe 2002, when Fox Family/ABC Family aired it, but I'm not sure.

When The Wonder Years started in January of '88, I was in sixth grade. The show's main character, Kevin Arnold was in seventh grade. By the time the second season started in the fall of '88, I was in seventh grade and Kevin was still in seventh grade, and it was comforting to watch him go through the nightmare of puberty and junior high just as I was, although we were separated by 20 years. The Wonder Years was a great, great show for its first three seasons—it combined comedy and drama in the best possible way (the ending of the pilot episode even made my dad cry)—but once Kevin's first love, Winnie Cooper, started going to another school and Kevin's friends seemed to change from episode to episode and Fred Savage seemed to reach the limits of his acting abilities, it became less interesting to me. (I now realize it's probably a good thing Freaks and Geeks, another great teen comedy-drama set 20 years before its time, only lasted 18 episodes.) Maybe the last three seasons of the show are better in retrospect. I guess I'll have to see on the nights when I'm home to catch it on Ion.

The Wonder Years still isn't on DVD because of music clearance issues, but the first season of WKRP in Cincinnati, another popular show that used lots of music that now costs a fortune to re-license, is finally coming to DVD next month after a long time on the sidelines, so maybe there's hope for The Wonder Years' first few seasons being released sometime in the coming year.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

a panda who inspired a movie star

Angelina Jolie must be reading my blog! I'm even retroactively inspiring her movie choices! I'm happy to help, Angie.

From IMDB's celebrity news (i.e. gossip) page:

Angelina Jolie will introduce her new son, Pax, to the world in a magazine spread, just two days after completing his adoption. Jolie and the three-and-a-half-year-old Vietnamese orphan have posed for the Canadian edition of Hello! magazine, which will be released on Thursday. Photos reportedly show Pax playing with his new brother, Maddox [that's him in the picture with Jolie], five, and sisters Zahara, two, and Shiloh, ten months. In an accompanying interview, Jolie says of the new edition to her and partner Brad Pitt's family, "He is a very serious, very sweet little boy. You can imagine what courage it takes to be in all-new surroundings with new people and a new language. He is very strong."

Here's some other PAX/Ion-related news from the past week:

MESA, Ariz. — A Phoenix television station says it has fired an employee suspected of adding about 30 seconds of pornography into a broadcast of a news show.

The unnamed worker for ION Media Networks' KPPX-TV "was immediately terminated and faces further legal action" after an investigation determined who was responsible for the March 12 incident, spokeswoman Leslie Monreal said in a statement.

Palm Beach, Fla.-based ION Media Networks, which offers family friendly programs, called the incident "an intolerable act of human sabotage" and apologized to viewers.

Monreal said the images appeared only in the Phoenix market. The images prompted a flood of calls to local news media outlets and the cable television provider.

"An intolerable act"? Really, Ion? (I refuse to capitalize every letter of your name. I already did that with PAX.) The other night at 10/9c, during the first commercial break of Charlie's Angels, there was an ad for Maxoderm Vivaxa, a product that helps men with "timing" and "control." Those two words even showed up on-screen in quotation marks. How coy of you, Maxoderm. Are you talking about comic timing and control over things like alcohol and nicotine intake? Probably not, since your product was being advertised by a woman who couldn't wait for her boyfriend to come over so they could try Vivaxa.

You're advertising sexual-enhancement products alongside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
, Ion. Have that cake and eat it too, but don't get all high and mighty about your family-friendly programming and intolerable acts of poe-naw-gruh-fee.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Will Ferrell likes sports.

Two funny Wills—Ferrell and Arnett—are currently filming Semi-Pro, a basketball comedy, due for release next year. In the past two years Ferrell has starred in Kicking & Screaming, a 2005 soccer comedy (he first played a kids' soccer coach on a King of the Hill episode in 1999); Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, last summer's NASCAR comedy; and Blades of Glory, an ice-skating comedy that opens next week and also stars Arnett.

If Ferrell wants to keep making sports comedies and is interested in adding some realism to his characters, it wouldn't hurt for him to team up with Ron Shelton, the writer-director behind Bull Durham (1988), White Men Can't Jump (1992), and Tin Cup (1996). Shelton could use a hit after 2003's Dark Blue and Hollywood Homicide, both of which flopped, but his sports comedies—which also include the poorly received Play It to the Bone and The Great White Hype, although he only wrote the latter—aren't cut from the same cloth as Ferrell's. And if Ferrell is looking to do character-based comedy that isn't so joke-driven, the way Kevin Costner did in Bull Durham and Tin Cup and Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson did in White Men Can't Jump, then Shelton's the man for the job.

I'm not offering career advice here, even though I know you read this blog, Mr. Ferrell. However, I would like to see Shelton direct again, and he's pretty great when it comes to sports comedies (one more I haven't mentioned yet, and still haven't seen—1986's The Best of Times, which he wrote). However, his films usually feature lead characters who are past their athletic prime, who had their shot at something greater but either blew it or never took it. They also never quite learned how to be responsible adults; they're their own worst enemy. Not exactly Talladega Nights territory, but Ferrell seems to want to stretch and has the range to do it.

Before you make more Oscar bait like Stranger Than Fiction, Mr. Ferrell, make a Ron Shelton sports comedy. (Okay, so I am offering career advice.)

Friday, March 16, 2007

a movie poster that could've used some copy editing

The poster for Universal's Dead Silence has this come-on line at the top: "From the writers and director and producers of Saw." What about the caterer? Same guy?

How about a simple "From the creators of Saw," Universal? C'mon, you're in a good spot here, unlike the studios that released 2005's Waiting... and Just Friends, which were both advertised this way: "From a producer of American Pie." (A producer? You mean one of the seven who were credited? Wow! I'm sold.) That sort of dirty trick doesn't really instill confidence in a potential customer.

when pandas attack

One of my favorite bloggers, Jason Hare, was kind enough to let me guest-write an edition of his weekly "Chart Attack!" series. This week I cover the Billboard Top 10 from March 14, 1992. Oh, what a week it was!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

a phrase that should be retired in 2007

Any phrase that ends with "... on crack," much like any sentence that includes the phrase "the ___ from hell," should be ceased and desisted immediately. I'm not sure if "... on crack" was ever that funny, but I'm certain it's not anymore.

Besides, it's insulting to crack addicts. How do you know what they're like when they're high? Maybe they're quite mellow and very reasonable. Please don't base your opinion solely on Chris Rock's Essence Award-winning performance in New Jack City.

You know, I feel kind of sorry for crack addicts—unlike heroin addicts, they don't have a cool movie like Trainspotting to hang their hat on. Remember that part with the dead baby on the ceiling? Or that scene where Obi-Wan has to feel his way through his own feces to find some lost suppositories? Hilarious! Man ... junkies sure do get into some crazy shit. I should write a pilot treatment for a sitcom.

Anyway, statements such as "That was like Sunday school on crack" or "He's like Dick Tracy on crack"—nope, sorry, just not feelin' it. Let a royal decree go forth! (Go ahead and respond with "You're like Julius Caesar on crack." See where that gets you, smarty-pants.)

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Let's watch some TV!

After she read (well, half-read) my post about PAX/the i/Ion and Charlie's Angels, my friend Mary mentioned that her dad liked Kate Jackson's character on Charlie's Angels the most and that he usually liked "the smart one" on those kinds of shows. I've noticed in my, uh, research that in the few episodes featuring Kate that Ion has shown so far, she's not used as cheesecake the way Jaclyn and Cheryl (and presumably Farrah) are. (Notice who's not bearing any cleavage in the picture above?) They're the ones required to get into bikinis and other skimpy outfits. Fine by me, but what kind of message were you trying to send to little girls who watched the show, Aaron Spelling? The hottest girls usually aren't the brightest? That's not ni— ... well, in my experience that's often been true ... but it's still not a nice thing to imply!

Even 30 years later, at last year's Emmy Awards ceremony, the necklines for each Angel hadn't really changed:

One last picture before we move on:

Even Kate's hands are covered up! Good grief, Charlie Brown ...

Wait—we're not moving on yet. There's one other aspect of Charlie's Angels that strikes me as funny: the Angels are detectives who go undercover all the time, yet they always use their real names when they're on assignment. Or maybe I just haven't paid close enough attention to the episodes where Kate goes undercover. It's possible that she uses undercover aliases while Jaclyn and Farrah/Cheryl are clearly too dumb to remember any name other than their own. Did Shelley Hack take over the title of "smart Angel" when Kate left? Or did the Angels lose some collective IQ points for the '79-'80 season? Tanya Roberts certainly didn't play the smart Angel in the '80-'81 season.

Okay, now we're moving on ...

As my mom said recently, "Tina Fey sure does show off her cleavage a lot on
30 Rock." That's the advantage of being the star of a show you created, I guess—even if you're more of a Kate in real life, you can pretend to be somewhat of a Jaclyn on the small screen.

In the credits of tonight's episode of 30 Rock I noticed Anna Chlumsky's name. Remember her? The little girl in My Girl? And My Girl 2? And Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain? (I don't blame you if you don't remember that one. Anna and Christina Ricci played literal gold diggers in the movie. But don't fret—in the sequel I'm currently writing, they play conniving, money-grubbing hoo-ers.) Anna's a grown-ass woman now! On 30 Rock she played "the other Liz." I didn't recognize her at all. Then again, why would I? Gold Diggers came out in '95, and that's the last time I remember seeing her.

I wonder who wrote that "Blue Oyster Cult/cowbell" sketch on Saturday Night Live back in 2000? Or who originally pitched it, at the very least? The sketch has its own lengthy Wikipedia entry, but no writer is mentioned. Whoever you are, you deserve some public recognition.

Today I saw a rerun of Married ... With Children on FX in which Marcy, the Bundys' neighbor, was trying to keep a college radio station on the air. I only saw the last ten minutes, but the only Bundy seen in those ten minutes was Bud. Was this one of those episodes where Ed O'Neill and Katey Sagal and Christina Applegate got to take some time off? I remember Moonlighting, my favorite show in grade school, featuring one episode a season in which Maddie Hayes and David Addison would bookend an episode but disappear for the rest of it so that Agnes DiPesto and Herbert Viola could solve a mystery on their own. I didn't care for those episodes as a child. (SORTA FUN FACT! The fourth season of Moonlighting only produced 14 episodes, 8 less than the average for prime-time network dramas. Agnes and Herbert got two episodes to themselves that season, and one of them wasn't even bookended by David and Maddie. Actually, neither episode featured Maddie at all, seeing as how Cybill Shepherd was either pregnant or on maternity leave throughout much of that shortened season.)

Okay, back to Married ... With Children, the only sitcom in TV history whose studio audience always seemed to be on the verge of running onto the set and gangbanging Christina Applegate. According to, the episode I saw today was set up as a potential spinoff for the two college-DJ characters who were prominently featured. I don't know if a pilot was ever produced, but no spinoff ever made it to air, although one Married spinoff did last seven episodes in the spring of '91: Top of the Heap, starring Joseph Bologna and Matt LeBlanc. And I'd completely forgotten about the spinoff of Top of the Heap that aired for seven episodes the following year: Vinnie & Bobby, also starring LeBlanc (and a young, already vocally irritating Joey Lauren Adams), but not Bologna. Thanks for the reminder, IMDB!

Sorry—back to today's episode! Wait, more tangential information—Keri Russell from Felicity was in the episode as a girl who had dated Bud. She was supposed to be a total babe, and she is a good-looking woman, but Keri also seems to be smart, and what did Aaron Spelling teach us? Sorry, Keri, but it's just not working out.

Why did I even bring up this episode? Oh yeah, here's why—the college radio station that was in danger of getting yanked from the air was 106.2 FM on the dial. WHAT?! Pardon me, but aren't the majority of college stations somewhere around 88 to 92 on the left of the dial? No one's going to give prime radio real estate like a 106 frequency to a college station. Married ... With Children writers, use your brains! Oh wait ... are you writers also really hot women? Never mind then. My apologies. But may I give you a word of advice? Stay far away from your show's studio audience.