Tuesday, September 24, 2019

"We're artists, so we understand."

Posted earlier today on The Hollywood Reporter's website:

To promote her new memoir, Inside Out, Demi Moore sat down with Diane Sawyer in an interview that will roll out in multiple parts this week on ABC's Good Morning America. During Tuesday's second installment, Moore, 56, opened up about her split from ex-husband Ashton Kutcher, 41, which she described as "devastating."

Among other revelations, the actress shared that she discovered Kutcher was "caught cheating" from a Google Alert on her cellphone. San Diego-based administrative assistant Sara Leal shared intimate details of her interactions with Kutcher, which took place in 2011 during the actor's marriage to Moore, in an interview with Us Weekly. (Kutcher and Moore wed in 2005 and finalized their divorce in 2013.)

Moore told Sawyer that she immediately called Kutcher and "asked if it was true." Moore went on to say that Kutcher "admitted it right away." She recounted, "And I think my response was, 'Are you fucking kidding me?' That was it. And I think I could barely take a breath" ...

Published on January 16, 2011, in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Demi Moore is a string that's most definitely attached. She is the one on her husband Ashton Kutcher's mind when he does a sex scene in a movie ...

"You know, I really think that whomever you're with as a partner does need to be your friend, too," Kutcher says. "All the really successful, happy relationships I know of feature two people who are together as friends, too. I don't know if sex always has to have feelings, but friendship always does. If you're friends, you will have feelings of some sort" ...

"There is so much that's not said about sex in our country," he says. "I do a lot of work on human trafficking. I connect with girls who end up in this trade partially because of lack of education about sex" ...

Kutcher says that there is no issue with his actress wife when it comes to onscreen romance with others.

"We're artists, so we understand," he says.

But when it comes to offscreen romance with others, Moore should've realized that sex doesn't always have to have feelings, and neither do husbands, who may be reserving all of their feelings for girls they connect with who need to be educated about sex.

Do 22-year-old administrative assistants count, even if you have sex with them on the sixth anniversary of your wedding to Demi Moore (according to the administrative assistant in question, who, unfortunately for Kutcher, didn't leave much unsaid about sex when speaking to Us Weekly)? Sara Leal is a human, after all, who probably had to fight San Diego traffic on occasion in order to get to work on time.

The syndicated Sun-Times puff piece quoted above centered on No Strings Attached, a romantic comedy pairing Kutcher and Natalie Portman as friends with benefits. It debuted in theaters six months before Friends With Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, and eight months before Kutcher demonstrated how much he valued his friendship with his wife by immediately confessing that he'd connected with a human who's sat in traffic.

No Strings Attached earned $70 million at the domestic box office, about $15 million more than Friends With Benefits, but the latter won the international race in a photo finish with a total of $149.5 million, about $300,000 more than the former. And Kutcher began dating Kunis, his former That '70s Show costar, the following year — they got married in 2015 — because listening to non-celebrity humans complain about traffic gets old real fast. 

That's one benefit you should give exclusively to friends.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Orgies give me the blues.

When a woman gets in trouble, everybody throws her down
Lookin' for her good friend, none can be found
You'd better come on in my kitchen
Baby, it's going to be rainin' outdoors

But now my kitchen's full of people I've never seen before
You say you met them online to talk about amour
And now they're takin' their clothes off, they're startin' to sweat
It ain't rainin' in my kitchen, but the floor sho' is wet

Thursday, July 18, 2019

I'm semi-ashamed of my museum shaming.

"[Ronald Shusett] originally conceived [Total Recall], which is based on Philip K. Dick's short story, 'We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,' a year before writing Alien with Dan O'Bannon. It was a script so powerful that it became legendary, so ambitious it was for years considered unfilmable. Yet it was nearly shot several times, with Patrick Swayze, Christopher Reeve, even with Arnold Schwarzenegger under Dino De Laurentiis. Powerhouse directors like David Cronenbrerg and Bruce Beresford have come and gone, each leaving their imprint on the script's development."

—Will Murray, "Postcards from Mars,"
Starlog magazine, May 1990

It turns out that the Art Institute of Chicago placard that stated that Gretchen Bender's 1987 work is "named after the Paul Verhoeven film" isn't inaccurate, but it's still confusing, because Verhoeven wasn't hired to direct Total Recall until the year after Bender's work premiered ("named before the Paul Verhoeven film" would probably have only made things more confusing). According to Art in America magazine, "Bender's work was completed and made public before the director's 1990 Hollywood blockbuster, which the artist read production notices about in movie industry trade papers and from which she cribbed the title."

However, from what I found online, Bruce Beresford was attached to direct Total Recall throughout 1987, but producer Dino De Laurentiis's financing kept falling through. (Beresford then directed Her Alibi and Driving Miss Daisy, both released in '89, in quick succession.) David Cronenberg took the job after Beresford quit, but he soon bowed out as well, and then Arnold Schwarzenegger, who first read the film's script while making Commando (1985), convinced Verhoeven to do it.

Want to be more confused? Allow Red Bull Arts to pour you its version of the story: 

"Although her work debuted three years ahead of the movie’s release, Bender's title comes from the Paul Verhoeven film Total Recall (1984), which is based on the Philip K. Dick short story 'We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.'"

So, if you want to forget how time and math work and subtract three years instead of adding three, drink Red Bull.

Remembering things, wholesale or otherwise, can be a tricky business.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Dear Guy Who Knows a Few Grammar Rules But Isn't an Authority by Any Means ...

Q: You're the first person I thought of to know the answer to this. My wife was wondering at breakfast how to say, "I very much would like to see that movie," but using the word "bad" or "badly." 

Is it "I want to see it bad?" or "I want to see it badly?"

We're stuck on the fact that the latter option could mean "I want to see it without skill." But the first option just sounds ... bad.

Thank you, sir!

A: Both options are correct, apparently:


I think "badly" is the better choice on paper, but "bad" sounds, and feels, better when spoken.

Paul McCartney, can you give us a definitive answer in the form of an '80s earworm?

Thank you, Sir Paul.

The other day I had to look up "lay" vs. "lie" for the millionth time. I just need to remember from now on that the Replacements were grammatically correct when they sang "Lay It Down Clown" and Eric Clapton was incorrect when he sang "Lay Down Sally," because Sally is the subject, and the subject can only lie down even though Sally could lay objects down, clown, if she wanted.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

museum shaming

I'm no artist, but I do know that "18 NOV 08" doesn't equal "About 2010." You've officially been museum shamed, Art Institute of Chicago placard makers! (And Gregg Bordowitz's first name is spelled with three Gs, so you've officially been friend and/or colleague shamed, Jack Whitten!)

To the Art Institute's credit, I've only noticed one other factual error on a placard in the 16 years that I've lived in Chicago: last August I viewed a 1987 multimedia installation of Gretchen Bender's titled Total Recall, which, according to its placard, is "named after the Paul Verhoeven film." If that were true Bender would be a time traveler, because Verhoeven's film, based on a short story by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, came out in 1990.

Monday, April 29, 2019

"We're not actors, mister! I assume you've heard of the Avengers priority card?"

Disney bought Marvel Studios ten years ago, putting it in charge of the big-screen adventures of Iron Man and his fellow Avengers. Disney's acquisition of the film and TV assets of 21st Century Fox was finalized last month, meaning it's also now in charge of Marvel characters whose big-screen rights were previously owned by Fox, including the Thing and the rest of his supergroup, the Fantastic Four.

Comcast, which owns Universal Pictures, the studio behind the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies, attempted to outbid Disney for Fox's assets last year. One day soon Disney may be rich enough to swallow Comcast whole, and if that happens don't be surprised if the March 1983 issue of Marvel Two-in-One makes a synergistic leap from the page to the screen.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Play ball! (Or just read about an animated, scripted version of it.)

The following is (most of) an excerpt from longtime Simpsons writer Mike Reiss's book, Springfield Confidential, a Christmas gift from my dad, about the show's 1992 episode "Homer at the Bat":

Everyone on staff loved sports ... except me. But I served a purpose—I represented everyone's wives and mothers in the audience. I'd be the lone voice saying, "Will everyone get this joke about Mordecai 'Three Finger' Brown?" Yes, I was the Staff Girl.

... We cast nine real-life baseball players (only Rickey Henderson and Ryne Sandberg turned us down), and [Simpsons writer John] Swartzwelder created quick, crazy stories for each of them:

* Ozzie Smith visits the Springfield Mystery Spot and plunges into a bottomless pit.
* Roger Clemens gets hypnotized and thinks he's a chicken.
* Wade Boggs gets into a fistfight over who was a better British prime minister, Lord Palmerston or Pitt the Elder.
* Ken Griffey Jr. overdoses on nerve tonic and gets gigantism. (Is that even a thing?)
* José Canseco does something nice for someone. (This one really stretched credibility.)

... It was a very different Simpsons episode, including the fact that the Simpsons are barely in it. Here, the guest stars were running the asylum.

Needless to say, our cast didn't like the show. Our table reading of the script bombed utterly. Two of our actors complained about the script, the only time this has ever happened.

The baseball players were much easier to deal with. Don Mattingly had the only gripe: his character makes his first appearance wearing an apron and washing dishes. "Do I have to do this?" he moaned.

"I'm sorry, it's in the script, it can't be changed," [Reiss’s then co-head writer] Al Jean lied.

"Okay," Mattingly grumbled.

The players were surprisingly good actors. Mike Scioscia could be a real professional; in voice acting, you never know who's going to have the gift.

... And then there was Ken Griffey Jr. He got angry because he didn't understand his line "There's a party in my mouth and everyone's invited." (If he had understood it, he'd have been really angry.) Adding to the pressure, his father, Ken Griffey Sr., was there trying to coach him through the line, and it wasn't helping.

The room was going to implode, so that's when they called in me, the Staff Girl. Since I didn't really know who Griffey was, they figured I wouldn't be intimidated by him. Al shoved me into the tiny recording booth. This instantly became my new worst fear: to be locked in a small glass booth with a large angry man; and I couldn't get out until I made him say a vaguely homoerotic line.

It took a few takes, but we got the line. Decades later, Griffey appeared in a mockumentary about the episode—he's become a much better actor.

Despite the misgivings of the cast, "Homer at the Bat" was a huge hit. It was the first time we beat our competition, The Cosby Show. We beat Cosby several more times after that; within two years his show was off the air. [Actually, The Cosby Show went off the air two months later, having lasted eight seasons. Check your stats, Reiss! —me]

... The episode is still remembered fondly. In May 2017, Homer was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Wade Boggs, Steve Sax, and Ozzie Smith showed up at the ceremony. Smith said the number one question he gets asked is "How did you escape the Springfield Mystery Spot?" Boggs said he still sticks up for the Pitt the Elder.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Randy Newman channeling Albert Brooks

Newman's performance of "My Life Is Good," from his 1983 album, Trouble in Paradise, reminds me of Brooks at his most comically excited and/or desperate in his movies as (co)writer-director-star, especially 1985's Lost in America. It wouldn't surprise me if they're old friends, but I have no idea. (Messrs. Newman and Brooks, if you're reading this, please confirm or deny the existence and/or length of your friendship by leaving a comment.)

Monday, February 4, 2019

We like the way you move, pop stars, not the way you discuss social justice.

The traditional pre-Super Bowl press conference for musicians performing at the halftime show was canceled last Tuesday by the NFL, which stated that "the artists will let their show do the talking."

During last night's halftime show Maroon 5 played three songs from their first album, which became a hit in 2003, while Big Boi sang "The Way You Move," also a hit that year.

And oh, what a year it was!

L.A. Rams quarterback Jared Goff turned nine years old, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was on his way to winning his second Super Bowl, and no one outside of central California knew who future ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was, thereby allowing our nation's conscience to be clean—until we discovered that our nation's government had lied to us about its reasons for invading Iraq that year.

But all is forgiven, because bringing a foreign country to its knees is still less offensive to many Americans than taking a knee to protest police officers who bring black men to their knees with physical force or even bullets.