Sunday, November 22, 2009

Old Dogs: What Your Movie Poster Really Says

John Travolta: "This is what Tarantino brought me back to life for? Really?"

Robin Williams: "Don't look at me. I was a Madoff client. I need this."

Seth Green: "I'm the creator of Robot Chicken! I'm supposed to be better than this!"

Gorilla: "Amy. Love. Man-boy. Amy. Want. Fire. Agent."

Sorry about the Russian version. I swear this is in English all over the NYC subway system, yet inexplicably there is no English jpeg of it.

And by the way, they were shooting this movie like two years ago in the city. Protip: a two-year delay in releasing a film with little to no post requirements (no special effects, etc) is a bad, bad sign.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Wonderful Pistachios Hates Pistachios

That's the only message I'm gathering from the new ad campaign from Wonderful Pistachios. What else could possibly motivate them to cast such fresh faces as Levi Johnston, that developmentally disabled preposition-happy beauty queen from South Carolina, a big guy who was probably on "The Sopranos," a dominatrix, and, um, Dara Torres (why Dara why)? And the campaign presents a wonderful thought experiment. What's worse? Being lashed open with a whip, or touched by Levi Johnston*?

Perhaps the ad exec's mother was killed by a mutant pistachio, and he's been biding his time until he could exact complete vengeance upon the industry. And what better vengeance than forever attaching the wonderful nut to people whose 15 minutes ran out in 5? No longer do I associate the pistachio with good ice cream, or the unfortunate color palette of the 70s. No, no, now when I crack one open I'm thinking of a satellite celebrity with strong seed, or places like the Iraq such as wheretofore. Clearly the pistachio people were too busy trying to get that red dye off their fingers to approve the ad, and here we are.

And how is it that someone can appear so awkward, Mr. Johnston, when all that's required of him is to walk forward, stop, and open a pistachio? Let's keep in mind that your shoot took no less than eight hours, and what we're seeing is the absolute best thing that happened in that eight hours. Take a look, and note the awesome NASCAR-font tattoo of his own last name on his forearm (for when he's that shitfaced):

Well done sir. From obscurity to notoriety to pistachios to Playgirl, all in less than a year. It's like the life cycle of a monarch butterfly. So mysterious. So fragile. So douchey.

Just remember what you're really paying for, next time you open your wallet for Wonderful Pistachios.

*experts† agree this is worse.
†the expert is Bristol Palin.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Carrie Prejean: Plug it up! Plug it up!

Get it? Like in the movie Carrie? Because they have the same name. But instead of her menstruating vagina, I'm talking about Carrie Prejean's mouth. See, it works on a couple levels. Because I don't like what comes out of either thing.

I'd planned on writing about Prejean's autobiography, Still Standing, and how goddamned ridiculous it is that a)she's pretending she can write, and b)she thinks she's important enough to tell her harrowing, gut-wrenching story. You know, the one where the privileged beautiful blonde-ish woman living in a first-world state in a first-world country wins contests with her beauty, has artificial body parts installed by said competitions, gets laughed at for denouncing an entire segment of the population instead of being jailed or assaulted, makes money off that statement, then thinks it's amazing that she hasn't completely given up on life after such a terrible, grueling ordeal. Worthy achievements indeed. And according to, she manages to fill 256 pages with the one newsworthy incident she's been involved in. Oh, and I guess part of that is taken up by Sean Hannity's fucking foreword. Douchewad.

So my plan was writing about her after finding out about her coloring book "autobiography," but she just wouldn't stop being crazy this week. After a surprisingly logical series of questions from Larry King on his show, about her motivations for mediating and settling the pageant ordeal (not the confidential details of the settlement itself), Prejean, in another studio, told him he was being inappropriate. He quite reasonably told her he wasn't asking for any confidential info, just her motivation, and eventually changed the subject by taking a call. She decided she'd had enough and took off her mic. He asked if she could hear him, to which she said "No, I can't hear you" (WTF), then threatened to leave and sat perfectly still. Congratulations, Miss Prejean. You managed to look batshit next to LARRY KING.

A word on pageants: who still buys into this? The only time it ever matters is when a winner/runner-up/whatever goes off the rails. Name me a pageant winner, and I'm guessing she's a woman who took naked photos or fell down or is now a man. The whole thing just started as a way to get beautiful, vapid girls to go to college with scholarships instead of marrying money and squirting out babies, but now that college is the new high school are pageants really necessary?

I'm not even going to get political here in terms of how wrong she was when this whole snowball started. If you're reading this, you agree with me and I don't need to convince you. I do want to point out, though, that I can't really understand her martyr complex when she's part of an overwhelming and vocal majority. Gay marriage is in no way legal in this country. Every state that passes it then immediately has it overturned in a referendum. And she keeps claiming her First Amendment rights are getting trampled on, because people keep exercising their First Amendment rights by telling her to shut up. She wasn't imprisoned for what she said. She wasn't fined. She wasn't sent to a labor camp. She got yelled at. That's part of the deal, babe. The First Amendment doesn't say no one can respond to you when you say goddamned ridiculous things. It says the government can't stop you from saying goddamned riciculous things. And it didn't. You said goddamned ridiculous things on NATIONAL TELEVISION. Then you got fired for breach of contract. So simple.

BTW, you said you base your stance on homosexuality on the Bible. I'm guessing you mean Old Testament, Leviticus, since Jesus never said anything definitive about the issue. So you're Jewish then. OK. Was your evening wear made out of two different fabrics? Sorry, we need to shun you from the community. Ever work on a Sunday? Stand still, so we may stone you to death.

And now this sex tape thing. It just keeps coming (thatswhatshesaid). I guess it's no surprise that the girl who likes to hear herself talk so much also likes to touch herself, right? How many of the ordeals she's gone through have been of her own doing? Honestly I can't blame her for speaking her own mind in the pageant, instead of saying the answer that she knew would probably get her the win. But that doesn't mean you can't expect backlash from the LOSING MINORITY. But pageant chicks don't start at 20. It's a lifelong thing. So maybe think twice if you're going to take mostly naked photos, or email a video of yourself masturbating to your boyfriend. Also, don't ever take a video of yourself masturbating. Only bad things come from that. Trust me.

I can't help but draw parallels between her and Sarah Palin. Nobody likes them, they keep getting in front of cameras, and they both show flashes of an absolute psychopath when they get going. Seriously, that's not a joke. Watch their faces. Palin kept snarling in her big convention speech. Prejean does this thing where her eyes flash wide and she shows all her teeth. Scary. I can find very little evidence that famous conservative women are sane. Barbara Bush, maybe? She's still got grit; I want to see her in the octagon against these two.

So here's to not going gently into that good night of obscurity. Palin/Prejean 2012, bitches!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Review: Family Guy Presents Seth & Alex Almost Live

By an overwhelming demand, here is my review of last Sunday's Family Guy special, a half-hour of comedy and music hosted by show creator, multivoiced Seth MacFarlane, and his friend, voice of Lois, and star of that sketch show I never watched, Alex Borstein.

I'm a big Family Guy fan. Ask the wife. Of the 20-something hours of TV we watch a week, no less than 15 are dedicated to Family Guy in any of its syndicated forms. TBS, Fox, Cartoon Network, the CW. It's comfort TV. It's the thing I turn on when I'm finished with DVR-ed stuff and Road House isn't being shown. So this'll be a weird post for me, because normally I tear stuff down here. But don't sweat it. Carrie Prejean has an autobiography coming out. More on that tomorrow. Oh, so much more.

The first thing that struck me in the show was seeing the real bodies behind the voices I'm so familiar with. Macfarlane's done enough publicity that he's a bit less off-putting, but it's very weird to hear Lois' voice coming out of something that wasn't drawn. They were kind though, and put up clips from the cartoon to accompany their singing of the show's theme song so we weren't too confused. And I always imagine voice actors to be nothing but that: voices. So it's funny to see that they can put themselves together for camera and actually have expressive faces.

I also have to take a moment to acknowledge how surprised I am that Fox was cool with this program. I don't mean content-wise, but having primetime taken up by an ambiguous "variety" show (a ratings kiss of death) hosted by two people you don't ever see in Us Weekly. Kudos to the network, actually.

No kudos to the laugh track in the first animated segment we got, in which the Griffins discussed which celebrity they'd have sex with. No major laughs for me here, just general amusement, while Macfarlane got to exercise his obscure-celebrity-obsession muscle. Though I did love the line in response to Meg's answer of C-3PO: "He'd cut you open like a tin can." "Maybe that's what I want!" And apparently Seth Green wasn't available to record for this show, because Chris sat in the corner and played with a DS or something. But the laugh track? Aren't we done with those? I thought that was reserved for shows like "Two and a Half Men," or whatever other pap the proles are gobbling up these days. I cannot watch shows with laugh tracks any more. I think I have Ricky Gervais to thank for that, in "The Office" and "Extras," and by extension our "Office" and "30 Rock," among others.

And now we get Macfarlane singing a song from his favorite movie. "Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music? Borstein isn't crazy about his choice because of her Jewish heritage, and here's one of my problems with Family Guy. While a relatively equal-opportunity offender, it seems to me he leans a bit heavily on Jews. There's plenty of humor to be mined in any stereotype (I particularly liked his bit on orthodox Jewish porn: two fully dressed Hasidim next to each other in a bed, and the man turns the woman on by saying he owns a lot of property), it makes me uncomfortable when he goes to the Holocaust for laughs, which he did at the end of this bit: "How many female Jewish comedians would you be competing with in Hollywood" were it not for the Holocaust? Yikes. Also a bit disturbing to watch her reaction to him continuing to sing the song before that.

Then we have a bit cribbed from SNL's Star Wars audition tapes sketch, but worthwhile anyway because it's pretty funny. I was expecting animation here too, but we get Macfarlane and Borstein in wigs and costumes imagining what it would be like if Bea Arthur auditioned for Showgirls, or Gregory Peck for Transformers. I particularly liked Peck's transforming sound effects. And I was feeling the Cowardly Lion in United 93 ("Let's roll. But first, talk me out of it!") til he hit the "I do believe in Allah!" note. Much funnier was the joke in Sunday's actual Family Guy, about how someone hiding for nine years missed when we were attacked by retarded terrorists. Cue a ground-level shot of the WTC, and a Muslim crashing a bike into it. If you're going to bring them up, make them look stupid. Mel Brooks said his entire career has been patterned on making Hitler look like a fool, because how else could he get revenge for what happened? Classy guy.

Probably the highlight of the show was the Marlee Matlin bit. First they re-enacted a gag from the show in which Marlee Matlin dials Moviefone, but it doesn't work too well for her! Then Borstein sings Lady GaGa's "Poker Face" in the same voice, with some good gags, only to be interrupted by Matlin herself! Uh oh. I've laughed at the Matlin stuff, while it does make me uncomfortable, and I think that's where Family Guy succeeds the best. Again, Borstein gets dumped on in front of the audience, and we see Macfarlane giggling like a schoolboy in the background. But having anyone come out and be part of the joke on them always makes them shoot up in anyone's regard, and it worked here too. Even OJ could have done himself a favor if he tried that. Maybe that's what his book "If I Did It" was attempting. What's that? It backfired miserably? Oh. Nevermind. By the way, funny as the song was, is it better than Christopher Walken giving the lyrics his dramatic interpretation? You tell me:

The last main thing they did was a collection of failed pilots for Fox, such as "Hill St. Jews" and "Cal Johnson." Now if you're going to make fun of a religious/ethnic group, this is the way to do it. And I have no idea what the Cal Johnson thing was parodying, if it even was, but I'm always happy to see Patrick Warburton. Have he and Bruce Campbell made anything together? My god, the brawniness in that project. I read a story on a message board from someone who worked as an extra on Warburton's show "Rules of Engagement." She went up and told him she's a big fan of him and "Venture Brothers" (rightly so; watch it, for reals). He was polite and thanked her, and the next day came up to her and said "Venture Brothers, right?" and gave her a signed t-shirt. Class.

They closed out the show with a montage of songs from Family Guy. Macfarlane's a heck of a singer, for an animator. But dude, seriously, fuck you for ending on "Bird is the Word." That is now in my head for the rest of the week.

Stay tuned this week for my excoriation of Carrie Prejean and her ghostwriter.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Justin Bieber: The Doogie Howser of Vacant Pop

So maybe you've heard of Justin Bieber. He's a 15-year old Canadian kid who has a record coming out after being discovered by his YouTube videos. Which is great, because I've really been banging my head against the wall trying to figure out a way to get more teens and tweens to flood YouTube with garbage.

Naturally, he's the wholesome adorable type you'd find on Disney shows, Hot Pocket commercials, and bait for police stings. And sure, the kid can sing. Apparently he taught himself some instruments too. More power to him. So why is it that his existence irks me so much? "Colin," you shriek at your computer through Swiss Cake Roll bits, "you're just jealous of the moppet because with a few years' work, he's more famous and successful than you may ever be!"

First of all, swallow your food before you talk and please put some pants on. Second of all, Little Debbie before noon? Thirdly of all, no shit Sherlock. Of course jealousy's the bulk of it. But there's something else at play here. Let's take a look at some lyrics from "One Time," Bieber's first single off his album My World. It opens with:
Me plus you, I'ma tell you one time
Me plus you, I'ma tell you one time
Me plus you, I'ma tell you one time
One time, one time
Well that's just terrible. He says he's going to tell the object of the song one time, then says that three times. And you may note by his picture up top that this is the last kid who should be saying "I'ma." He's Canadian, for god's sake. So then he goes on to sing about loving this girl and making time for her and she's #1, yada yada. Here's a later verse:
You look so deep, you know that it humbles me
You're by my side, them troubles them not trouble me
Many have called but the chosen is you
Whatever you want shawty I'll give it to you
Ugh. I guess I'll start with the first line. "You look so deep." Not "You ARE so deep." So this girl clearly wears glasses. Maybe she's carrying an unopened Nietzsche. I don't know. But her very appearance of deepness humbles little Bieber. Which is essentially an admission of complete idiocy and shallowness. Then he goes to a line ending with "them troubles them not trouble me." One is reminded of another caucasian Canadian. Snow. Who was also a fan of Jamaican syntax. A mistake for both of these guys. "Many have called but the chosen is you." WTF? Is that Engrish? Am I playing a bad Sega game from 1992? Then "shawty." OK. This kid's idea of urban is probably the mall in Winnipeg. I'm beginning to think maybe he didn't write this song. Let's see, writing credits go less than four people, none of whom seem to be Justin Bieber. Funny. You'd think the more people contribute to something, the better it'd be right? Hold that thought.

He goes on dropping "shawty's" and "I'ma's," declaring his love for this girl, repeatedly telling her, over and over, that he's going to tell her one time. End of song.

So I got it. In addition to rage-inducing jealousy, I know why I can't stand this kid. Could it really be any more transparent now that pop music is one big marionette show? What does this boy contribute other than a singing voice and a face? Aren't there computer programs that can do all that now? He's 15. If he wrote what he knew, he'd be writing about awkwardness, video games, and newfound body odors. Nobody wants that. So congratulations, puppet! You won the fame lottery! Pay my fucking student loans!

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

E! Has a Conscience? Re: J Goss

E! has displayed a death-row-worthy change of heart in an article posted this morning on their website. The basic argument is thus: Jon Gosselin says maybe he could stand to un-douche just a bit. To which E! says: Maybe that's not a bad thing. Perhaps we should "root for him." Why? Who's worth rooting for? According to E! (I'm already tired of typing that ass-lancing exclamation point), " the case of Jon versus Kate, they're all about 50 inches tall and under." Noble enough sentiment, though its placement as the last sentence of the article made me taste my breakfast again. I'm really regretting the tuna-bacon-gorgonzola omelette. But is E? for real?

I call bullshit.

In an article the thesis of which is "who would it hurt to root for this guy," E; refers to his "sorry mouth," mocks his dirtbike picture they chose, mocks his wardrobe, and calls him a "trainwreck." All true? Sure.

But it does make the invocation of his children as a reason to pull for the guy ring a little hollow. E} says his kids stand a chance of "emerging from tabloid hell singed, but not scarred." This is the bone of my contention. Outlets like E#, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, all address tabloids and paparazzi as if they operate in different spheres; as if one isn't completely dependent on the other in a two-snakes-eating-each-other sort of daisy chain. E~, you are that system. Granted, you're the most attractive and wealthiest member of the system, but if anything that makes you its king. So don't cry foul when these poor little rich kids start stealing Kate's Valium and crashing their dad's dirtbike. Don't act like you're above it all. You're down in the shit with the Weekly World News and Inquirers and bottom-feeding photographers, but you've proven that you can polish it and put an exclamation point after it and people won't mind so much.

So if you root for him for the kids' sake, be sure not to cover any of their DUIs or drug charges in ten years. We're watching.

As a footnote, they mention in the end of the article that other people would surely take credit if Jon turns himself around, like Kate, one of his leeches girlfriends, or Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Let's ignore for a second that the latter sounds like a made-up Dukes of Hazzard character. Did I miss a chapter in Stanislavski's "An Actor Prepares" in which he advised anyone finding notoriety to then get into Judaism? Not that there's anything wrong with it, of course, but I just have a hard time following the chain of events that leads a relatively devout Protestant from Pennsylvania to be life-coached or whatever by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.

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