Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Auteur Deathwatch

RIP Bergman!
Arrivederci Antonioni.

Who's next?

Russ bets Bogdanovich or Godard (surely from lung cancer). R2B2 says Bertolucci. They're dropping like flies!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Half-Assed 80's References

Okay, I am about to make a major fool of mysef with this post so let me just get it out of the way. Yes, I have seen every episode of Friends, a good bit of "Will and Grace", and the movies "Thirteen Going on Thirty" and "Music and Lyrics." Shut up.

The point is, beyond the other sins commited by both of those movies and that particular tv show (which I insist had moments of being very, very funny even though it irritated the shit out of me in principal), there is one really, really egregious sin. The ham-fisted 80's reference that does not stand up to scrutiny.

My theory is this: writers, directors and producers in Hollywood know that people just love the early 80's. And they, in turn, love this fact about people. It means that, in lieu of actually writing something clever, funny, or original, they merely need contrive the grounds for a flashback and slap a Flock of Seagulls wig, Members Only jacket, or what have you on one of their characters. Hilarious! Can you BELIEVE we ever dressed/coiffured ourselves like that? I LOVE this show!!! Problem is, the characters who supposedly did just that are always, ALWAYS too young to have been of the age they are supposed to be in said flashback. You see, the aformentioned writers, producers, and directors are as equally aware of the public's desire to see relatively young flesh on screen as they are to see an ironic appearance of an off the shoulder sweatshirt with big flourescent numbers all over it. Fortunately, there is one other thing by which the aformentioned writers, producers, and directors swear: that we, the viewing public, are utter doofuses (I am certainly not arguing with them there). Hence, they merrily disregard the impossible mathematics of a Chandler Bing who is 28 years old in 1997 yet had Flock of Seagulls hair in college.

Let me break it down for you doofuses: It's 1997. Chandler is 28. People go to college from 18-22. At best, Chandler went to college in 1987. "I Ran" was a hit in....1982. By 1987, if you had hair like that at college, you were beaten bloody. Shit, if you had it in 1984, you were beaten bloody. Hair moved fast back then! To put it in perspective, 1987 was the year that Duran Duran released "Notorious," their first of many COMEBACK attempts (and the last successful one). By 1987, George Michael wanted our sex and had stubble all the damn time (turns out he didn't want my sex after all, but I knew that when "Make it Big" came out in '84 and I was 8 or 9). Shit, Bon Jovi were where it was at in 1987. And I ain't talkin' no "Runaway" - I'm talkin' "Livin on A Prayer" (and endin' my gerunds with apostrophe N's accordin'ly)

In other words, Chandler Bing was a dweeb who wore cardigans, but even HE would have been done with Mike Score's hair by 1987. He certainly wouldn't have found anyone to be in his band. And his hair was no anomaly - Ross was wearing a Members Only jacket and playing Axel F on the synth. Fortuntaely for me, I don't recall what incorrrect items the remainder of "the gang" was wearing.

Meanwhile, in Will and Graceland, Grace is seen to be sporting Moon Unit Zappa's hair from "European Vacation" way too late. In "Thirteen Going on 30", Jennifer Garner - 30 in 2004 - charms junior high school sweetheart (and semi-retarded sad sack if you ask me, but I'm just saying that to annoy R2B2 and all my other friends whose panties inexplicbably wad at the sight of this dude, and YES, I saw "You Can Count on Me", R2) Mark Ruffalo....by doing the perfect rendition of the Thriller dance that they once did together. When they were 13. In 1984. Making her not thirty, but a shockingly unappealing old hag of 33.

Now "Music & Lyrics". This is the movie in which Hugh Grant plays a washed up 80's pop star from a band called Pop! which is an amalgamation of early Duran Duran (white shirts with ribbon ties) and "Make it Big"-era Wham! (their hit ballad is clearly "Careless Whisper" and the group consisted of two guys, one of whom rode on to solo glory while the other vanished). So...the movie comes out in 2007, 25 years after early Duran and 23 years after early Wham!. It just doesn't add up.

I am nitpicking here. We are talking a few years. But come on, people. If someone made a movie set in 1963 which featured hippies smoking doob at Haight-Ashbury, people would crab. If someone made a movie set in 1952 with people bombing Japan, there would be complaints. Why this disrespect for the early 80s? I say it's about the stupidity of the audience as well as the condescension, age-ism, and lack of creative spark of those creating today's mainstream entertainment. They are trying to appeal to my coveted generation, and they assume we either don't know the difference or are so thrilled to see a Human League reference that we don't care. They could solve this by letting their characters be a little older, but they think no one wants to watch people over 40. They could make equally fun (and not completely shopworn) late-80's/early 90's references - big hair! stonewahsed jeans! Laura Ashley dresses with choker necklaces! Oh the fun we had back then! But no. Lazy, patronizing, and youth-woshipping, they are probably developing an early 80's episode of "Hannah Montana" as we speak. What could be cuter than an embryo in a "Choose Life" shirt???

Thursday, July 26, 2007


As usual, I am behind as can be on cool music, but I have recently discovered the genius that is Ariel Pink. I can't get enough. Here is the video that started my obsession. Enjoy. My buddy Sparky put it best when she said that she instantly felt stoned after she watched this.

The Muppets Take Atlanta!

Just a quick sounding of joy this morning: a huge collection of muppets has been donated to The Center for Puppetry Arts, right here in Atlanta! Like most people with any vestige of a soul, I LOVE muppets. So all of you who may turn your noses up at Atlanta, just remeber - in a very short while I will be chlling with the REAL Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem!

Enjoy a nice modern take on the muppets here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It's Virtually the Same Movie

When I was in college, a friend of mine got an A +++++++++++++++ for writing a cinema studies paper about how Cape Fear and What About Bob? are basically the same movie. Think about it, he was totally right on.

Anyway, bizarrely, we watched Aki Kaurismaki's The Man Without a Past the night after we watched Down and Out in Beverly Hills, and the similarities are crazy. Watch them. I'm serious. Man from nowhere with a mysterious past comes into people's lives and changes them for the better. A dog figures heavily in both. Male friendship is a major theme of both, and alcohol is the lubricant that pats that friendship on the bottom and moves it along.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Yellowface Alert

You've probably all heard about Rob Schneider's yellowface act in Adam Sandler's latest turd Chuck and Larry. Apparently he even refers to the wedding ring as the "ling." Come on. They could at least have come up with a less stale joke.

I'd like to say I'm not surprised, but I kind of am. I mean, I know we're still political zeros and liable to get beaten with a lead pipe the next time a Ford plant closes. But don't y'all see my peeps on TV commercials? We're buying cell phones. We're eating bacon double cheeseburgers. We're using antidepressants! How much more American can we get?

Everyone seems to be uniformly outraged by the movie as whole for being terribly, terribly stupid, and by Rob Schneider's character, for obvious reasons. But I hear people saying that the yellowface fits in with the ignorant portrayal of gays in the rest of the movie, which I don't think is entirely accurate. Though the characterization of gay men is entirely backwards, isn't it in kind of in a "I'm not gay, not that there's anything wrong with it" kind of way. Like what a progressive frat boy or your dad—or anyone else who grew up on another planet or in another era—would think. I bet most of the men who went to see this movie (and that's a pretty select group of "special" individuals) are patting themselves on the back, even though the gay themes only serve to reinforce Adam Sandlers' extreme, incontrovertible heterosexuality. It's like kinder, gentler bigotry. Like Hooters is a kind of mellow misogyny. It's still disgusting, to be sure, and is arguably more dangerous than straight up hate. But, my point is that it's different, not that it's necessarily better or worse.

This Rob Schneider bullshit is just utter nonsense, without the "I'm ok, you're ok" wink wink nudge nudge subtext. What the fuck!? Am I going to have to karate chop the motherfucker?

Monday, July 23, 2007

You Tube is making us even weirder than we already are

Did anyone catch the You Tube CNN debate tonight? I don't have cable, so I listened to it on the radio, which, I'm sure, left me with a different impression.

I go back and forth on how I feel about this whole web 2.0 thing. It's a love hate thing—getting cheap thrills from hearing people air their dirty laundry; being totally sick of hearing people air their dirty laundry. Obviously I buy into it in a most self-indulgent manner (witness this stinkin' blog), but, you know what I mean. The questions that the CNN police vetted were actually okay, and in keeping with the theme of giving the people what they want, I thought that they were very direct and approached topics in a way that wouldn't be allowed in an official debate, even ones in which audience members are allowed their chance at the mike.

But even with the videos they played tonight there were some weird moments: babies talking about healthcare, questions posed in a musical format, a super creepy guy who who pulled out a gun and called it his baby. And, again, this is just what I gleaned from the radio— the audience laughed a lot at the videos, so I think I must have missed some even wackier stuff. And think about the number of videos they had to cull through to pick out intelligible, PG versions. Can't you picture people dressed as Darth Vadar or imitating Bill Clinton? It's like everyone wants to be a comedian, to entertain, to get attention previously reserved for actors or TV anchors or people that had a legitimate reason to be on TV. We expect our voices to be heard, even when we're saying something stupid or racist or creepy. It's like America's Funniest Home Videos started it; Big Brother and American Idol made it 1,000 times worse, and webcams put the nail in the coffin. Ah, technology, the great equalizer.

Anyway, I enjoyed the debate. The audience was kind of punchy and excited, and they laughed a lot. During the intro, Anderson Cooper warmed up the crowd with a few silly jokes, which kind of made me feel like I was watching those few awkward first minutes of the Oscars. But then he turned things around. The pace of questions was pretty brisk, and i liked the fact that the audience—and the candidates&mdash seemed to enjoy participating in the debate. It felt like... democracy.

As a side note, my man Kucinich performed respectably but this wasn't his best night. He somehow managed to come off as being even more shrill than usual. There was one good moment when revealed himself to be the only candidate who supports paying out reparations to African Americans. Fortunately, Mike Gravel was on the scene, proving that Kucinich is only the second craziest candidate in the running.

Down and Out in 80s Movie Cliches

Recent garage sale jaunts have led to the bulking up of the Russ Movie Collection. One new addition is Down and Out in Beverly Hills, which we watched the other night. This is the movie in which Nick Nolte plays a drink-addled homeless man (a role he has since seemingly aspired to in real life) who winds up living with - and, in classic mainstream Hollywood fashion, touching the lives of - an obnoxious, dysfunctional, wealthy, and terribly, terribly Jewish Beverly Hills family. I think it was a pretty big hit when it came out in 1986. It still has some inherent entertainment value, but the majority of the extensive chuckles emanating from our smoky living room on Saturday night where mainly due to the cavalcade of 80's movies stereotypes. A few of the richer chestnuts:

1. The Muy Caliente Latina Maid - In this case, her name is Carmen, she's sleeping with the boss (Richard Dreyfuss), and she's played by Elizabeth Pena. No wonder Elizabeth looked so happy to be in that John Sayles movie). My favorite example of this cliche is Concepcion from The Incredible Shrinking Woman. I'm all for the empowered Latina domestic, but I'll take Concepcion over the lady in Babel wandering the desert any day (see below for more uncorked Babelrage).

2. The Rich Arab - In this case, the Rich Arab is the next door neighbor of Richard Dreyfuss and Bette Midler (did I mention they are a terribly Jewish family?). He is supposedly Iranian but I smell serious Saudi. In one scene he gets into his limo with 5 burka-wearing wives. I know they wear these in Iran, but I think the perverse wealth and the harem are pure Holland Park (the hood in London where all the Saudis live) and hence pure Saud. My favorite other example of this is the guy Goldie Hawn almost marries in Protocol.

3. The Swami - No rich 80's movie lady is complete without an army of new age-y charlatans. The favorite among these was, of course, the swami/yogi. Without a swami/yogi, said rich lady would have no impetus to suddenly burst into meditation in a room so full of noise as to render meditation completely useless. Other than that, I know he's a charlatan because Bette Midler meditates in the lotus position, chanting OM, in front of a statue of Buddha. My favorite other example of The Swami is the guy in All of Me.

4. The Wacky Kid - In Down and Out, the wacky kid is played by a guy who I could have sworn was Patrick Dempsey, but turns out I was wrong. Wacky Kid is an aspiring filmmaker who communicates with his dysfunctional family via video mash-ups of apocalyptic imagery with home movies depicting the aforementioned dysfunction. The Wakcy Kid is semi-glam rock and all weird 80's 'tude. If anyone reading this can't guess who the penultimate 80's Wacky Kid is, shame on you. It's Robert Downey, Jr. in Back to School with Rodney Dangerfield. One of the greatest movies ever made, may I add. It's Kurt Vonnegut's single celluloid contribution, which is a testament to the genius that is Rodney Dangerfield.

What does it mean that Lily Tomlin is in two of the four movies referenced above??? It means she is awesome!

Some other things that make Down and Out a keeper: Little Richard is in it. He plays a very angry black man and has a musical number. I think he still might have had the use of his facial muscles back then. The girl who Jerry Seinfeld dates becaue she looks like him plays the anorexic daughter (shocking to see how not anorexic she looks. They would have been able to cast that part much more easily nowadays). And the film ends with perhaps the greatest 80's movie cliche of all : Everybody jumps in the pool with their clothes on!!!!! Wooo!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cool Artist of the Day: Francisco Zurbaran

This picture pretty much sums up what I feel like today. This is St. Serapion. He was hung on an x-shaped cross ala St. Andrew and then dismembered by Moors. I feel like I'm him and my job is the Moors. I wonder if St. Serapion ever had a FedEx get jammed in the box and not delivered on time?

Zurbaran had a gift for white drapery. That's pretty much all I know about him, aside from the fact that I like him a lot - his work is grizzly yet elegant.

Brunei's Soundin' Pretty Sweet Right About Now

Lately I've been playing a game with myself called "Where Would I Live If I Left New York City." Anyone who's ever lived here is well familiar with it. I still feel some love for our fair city, or at least most of Brooklyn (minus Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Williamsburg, and Pork Slope), but I do think about my future from time to time. New York has warped me, perhaps irreparably, for life on the outside. But I'd like to think that I could make it somewhere else. Perhaps in a lesser city where you can walk or take public transport, buy artisanal American cheese, and get a decent croissant, but still be constantly surrounded by weirdos. That's the beauty of NYC. The freaks live on, despite yuppie efforts to transform it into a playground for the rich and boring.

Anyway, just the thought of Brunei used to send shivers of my spine, but I read a little nugget in today's news that's making me reconsider. I like a nation that can unite behind a tough challenge. And I like the sound of a fruity Swiss roll.

Longest Chocolate Swiss Roll In Brunei
By Aemy Azlena

To celebrate the 61' birthday of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the kitchen brigade of the Rizqun International Hotel showcased "The Longest Chocolate Swiss Roll" at The Mall in Gadong yesterday.

Present to officiate the launching and as the guest of honour was the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Dewa Major General (R) Dato Seri Pahlawan Hj Awg Mohammad bin Hj Daud.

During his speech, he praised the chefs and those involved for making the longest Swiss Roll in Brunei.

"I hope this will inspire local artists to attempt something similar," he said.

"And I hope such challenges will help put Brunei on the world map."

After his speech, he was brought to the end of the Swiss Roll to witness the confirmation of the 75.02m long dessert.

Also present at the launching was the Chairman cum Managing Director ofAbdul Razak Holdings, Pehin Orang Kaya Ratna Setia Dato Setia Hj Awg Abd Hapidz bin Pehin Orang Kaya Laksamana Hj Abdul Razak, who delivered the welcoming speech.

In his speech, he said the event was held in conjunction with the 61st Birthday Celebration of His Majesty the Sultan.

"This has challenged the creativity of the chefs and the food and beverage section to create a record and to encourage public to enter the hotel industry especially those who have just finished school," he added.

The hotel's kitchen brigade comprises four pasty chefs and 16 supporting chefs and is led by the Executive Chef Fauzi Shamsudin.

The special Swiss Roll was made' with sponge cake and cream with peach and mango to give it a fruity flavour.

The longest Swiss Roll was a follow up to their 2006 Biggest Cake.

Even at the beginning, they outdid their own expectation as they were originally aiming for 73.33 metres in length but the final outcome was a 75.02m long creation.

It took 125kg of chocolate mix, 7,000 eggs, 3,000 litres of corn oil, 50kg of mango puree, 50kg of ripe mango, 2,000g of Nescafe, 1,000 litres of topping cream and 50 rolls of aluminium to create the Swiss Roll. The finishing touches saw them working overnight until the early morning to have it ready for the launching. Around 3.30am, it was carried out on the plywood piece by piece to be assembled at Level I of The Mall where it took them an hour and a half to assemble and combine it all. By 7.30am, it was ready.

The time consuming spectacle was then sold off for $5 per kg to the public.

It was snapped up quickly and many were seen carrying home up to three to four boxes per person.

New Category: [Insert Name] Should Totally Sue (Haneke vs. Inarritu)

I find myself saying that someone or the other should totally sue more and more these days - I just said it yesterday about Takashi Miike and the makers of the latest (YAWN) Batman (question: when was the last time anyone saw a Batman movie? I heard the last one was good, and it had Christian Bale in it, and it had Cillian Murphy in it, AND Christopher Nolan directed it, yet you could nothave paid me to go see it. Why is that? I really like all those people - Cillian Murphy least of all because he looked really hot in 28 Days Later and then proceeded to look like a girl in everything thereafter. Gael Garcia Bernal don't pull that shit). I digress (SHOCKINGLY!).

So here I am at 6:27 am (thanks for the insomnia, Wellbutrin. I think this shit works by giving you a sense of accomplishment. I am awake so much more these days that I get a lot done and hence feel good, even when I probably actually don't. It does something like this: "Gee, don't feel bad - you're awesome! It's only 6:30 am and you already watched a Michael Haneke movie!") and I already have someone in mind who should totally sue. Michael Haneke should totally sue Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. I just finished watching "Code Unknown" (I was serious about already watching a Michael Haneke movie today) and Inarritu SO ripped that movie off with "Babel." It's the same movie except done with actual finesse and class, as opposed to beating you over the head with a sledgehammer. The only redeeming quality in Babel - aside from one or two of the performances (I did like Rinko Kikuchi and Adriana Barazza), athe hot Japanese detective, and Gael Garcia Bernal as a totally hot drunk driving cholo with an awesome mustache - was what I perceived to be the semi-originality of the theme of an increasingly globalized world in which we are, ironically, becoming more and more isolated and fractured. I liked how he used language as a metaphor for our inabilities to understand one another. It was a cool postmodern riff on everything being relative.

Turns out Michael Haneke had the same idea. And did it a million times better. Six years earlier! (The fact that he did it pre-September 11 is even cooler, since this whole rash of "oh we are all connected but so alone and let's convey that by ripping off Altman!" movies are always seen as being emblmatic of the post-9/11 world - ie, a new age of abject horror has been ushered in. I have news for these filmmakers and cultural critics: Abject horror has been around for a while. Just ask the people from The Dark Ages.) Haneke manages to do the interwoven/intersecting lives thing without it seeming totally contrived, ala Crash and Babel (and let's not forget the original somewhat-botched Altman tribute, Pulp Fiction,, which has A LOT to answer for - at least Tarantino was doing it purely to entertain - succesfully - and not to make some labored point about the frailty of the human condition). The characters in Code Unknown cross in that they have some interaction at some point and then see each other again, or cross in the same frame without seeing each other, and that is pretty much it as far as the interconnectedness goes. Anyone who has ever lived in a big city where you walk evrywhere knows this is not only plausible but accurate - when I lived in NYC and London, I had random strangers I had seen so many times that I had made up names for them (eg "Tall French hippie"). In Babel, the interconnectedness is a totally false plot devise designed to exacerbate the emotion of already overwraught Shakespearean tragedy. This is true of Amores Perros (which I liked, actually - admittedly I should see it again as the main reason for my liking it was being struck by cupid's arrow in the form of the twice-aforementioned Gael Garcia Bernal), Crash, and 21 Grams, too, but I'm focusing on Babel here because the similarities go so much further.

The language theme - for heaven's sake, deaf children are even used as a metaphor to convey our inability to understand people outside of our immediate circle! The beleagured immigrant - the Roumanian woman in Code Unknown is beyond heartbreaking. In Inarritu's hands, the desperation of the immigrant experience is conveyed via a plotline that penultimately gives us a woman and two children wandering through the dessert at death's door, the woman paying the price for wanting one tiny thing for herself in the face of her self-absorbed employers. Meanwhile, Haneke gives us a woman who breaks down as she tells a friend that she once washed her hands after giving money to a dirty gypsy, yet that day, a man had been about to give her 20 francs when he looked at her hand and instead threw the money in her lap. Sorry, but the former is heavy-handed and abusive of the audience as we can't relate to it and hence feel really guilty, plus it's pretty implausible, while the latter is so fucking human and heartbreaking because we have felt exactly what she feels. We've all been the repulsed and the repulsive, and we've all felt like shit in both cases.

I am becoming too irritated to write any mre about this. Suffice to say, if you have not seen Code Unknown, do. If you have not seen Babel, good job! Although that mustache is pretty fly...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

If the Price Was Right?

Each and every morning when I drag my cranky ne'er do well ass out of bed, I think to myself, "At least I ain't working for the man." I'm not saving puppies from incineration, mind you, but it's not like I sit on Haliburton's board of directors. I do work for a man, just one so tiny so as not to suck me dry. To sum up my current corporate existence, I've been forbidden from wearing flip flops to work, but drag queens make regular appearances at our annual talent show. Basically, it could be better, but it could also be much much worse. It criss crosses the line between stifling and acceptable.
Anyway, there's been some bloggin' about the new Times cafeteria, and I have to say it's pretty fricking ridiculous. Today I picked away at my work-provided lunch, a quasi hot/cold buffet meal eaten in my dungeon-like cube, of fried catfish that literally tasted like cardboard (someone took a note from the Chinese?). And I read more about the delicacies being scarfed down at TimesHQ. They have an island of cheese! A sandwich station! And, be still my beating heart, a fro yo machine. Those fuckers. I've read similar accounts of the corporate cafeterias at Conde Nast and Hearst, but nothing tops Google.

I did a little research and discovered that if you work at Google's California campus "Googleplex," you could:
Dine at one of seven corporate cafeterias, including one that sources only local product from within a 150 mile radius (that's that's extremely ambitious, even by California hippie standards).

Enjoy daily "foodles," an daily email sent to educate employees about fun food facts and healthy eating, eat free breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks and pick up prepackaged foods for weekend meals.

Shop at an onsite famers' market, get a check-up, get a hair-cut, take a swim, do your laundry, play volleyball, get your bike repaired, get free rides on company shuttle buses, gawk at a dinosaur, pee atop a heated Japanese toilet seat, keep a lava lamp on your desk, bring your dog to work, receive $8,000 a year in tuition reimbursement, and, this is by far the creepiest, receive $5,000 toward adoption assistance.

I know it sounds nice, but wouldn't you have to be lobotomized to really enjoy it? First off, although the management obviously values their employees, all of these perks still constitute entrapment. If you can get a free lunch, you won't spend an hour off campus. You'll stay later if you don't have to go home to walk your dog or pick up your dry cleaning. If they buy you an adopted Chinese baby, you pretty much owe them, big time for all of eternity. And what kind of Kool-Aid must you be drinking to sustain such a cultish existence?

But, on the other hand, I've always liked the taste of Kool-Aid. (I wasn't allowed to drink it as a child (red dye no. 3), and I'm still inexplicably drawn to it.) Me being Chinese and all, I know how to meld myself into the faceless mass. Perhaps the fresh Mountain View air would do me good. And I'd like to adopt a Chinese baby some day. I checked the Goggle job board and found myself to be woefully underqualified for any of the current openings, but perhaps I'll check back later. There's something to be said for free lunch, even if it's not really free.

Separated at Birth:The New Joker & Ichi the Killer

Takashi Miike should totally sue.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Cool Artist of the Day: Maurizio Cattelan

It's been a while since I posted a cool artist of the day. But I not only adore this crazy assed motherfucker, I also feel that this particular work resonates very stronlgy with me today given the way my day has been going (I am at work; say no more).

Anyway, this piece is called "bidibidobidiboo" - I have no idea what that means - and it is a squirrel who just couldn't take it any more and has sat himself down at the hitchen table and committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. The squirrel is a real, taxidermied specimen, and Cattelan places the work on the floor in the corner of the gallery or exhibition space, so it's small. It's also sad, hilarious, and just plain brilliant.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What You Talkin' About?

Those hepcat editors at Merriam-Webster, sick of standing idly by while TV, the internet, and mass market paperbacks hog all the fun with dumbing down American culture, have announced the latest additions to ye olde Collegiate Dictionary.

According to John Morse, Merriam-Webster's president, the goal is to add words that have become "part of our language" and that have "staying power."

Now, I consider myself to be someone of above average intelligence, with an average to above average grasp on popular culture. But these words! Some of them I've never heard of. Others, they should feel ashamed of printing. (Please let speed dating die now, both as a disgusting post-modern coupling activity and as a dictionary entry.) Clearly Webster has some kind of nefarious agenda. I just can't figure out exactly what it is.

agnolotti - bucatini is so much more delicious and yet it remains unlisted


chaebol - I had to look this one up. The large, conglomerate family-controlled firms of South Korea characterized by strong ties with government agencies. I was hoping it was another kind of noodle.


DVR - are you kidding? I do believe they are promoting TV zombiefication?

flex-cuff - I refuse to look this one up

ginormous - the only obvious choice on the list

gray literature - obscure!


IED - we've been told that we'll never win the war on terror so I guess this one makes sense, or is Webster just trying to desensitize us?!

microgreen - lame and so 1999


perfect storm - I heard this word used three times today, no joke. Not cool that no one ever used it before it was linked with a really bad Mark Wahlberg movie.

RPG - in support of video game zombiefication?


speed dating - Add "key party," and I'll let this one slide

sudoku - Someone owed Will Shortz a personal favor?



Separated at Birth: David Beckham & Max Headroom

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

RIP N-Word

The NAACP buried the N-Word yesterday at their annual conference, held this year in Detroit.

Delegates marched the coffin, pulled by two horses, through the streets of Detroit to the N-Word's final resting place, the historically black Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery. No word yet on what the headstone will say. (No joke, there will be headstone!)

Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had some choice words to say about his newly deceased nemesis: "Today we're not just burying the N-word, we're taking it out of our spirit. We gather burying all the things that go with the N-word. We have to bury the 'pimps' and the 'hos' that go with it. Die N-word, and we don't want to see you 'round here no more."

I applaud the choice of a plain pine box (I being among those hippie-ish people that would like to be wrapped in a shroud and buried on a nature preserve). Surely the N-Word would have preferred a shiny gold casket encrusted in diamonds, but c'est la vie.

I do have the feeling that the N-Word will continue to haunt us from beyond the grave, don't you?

Monday, July 9, 2007

R2B2 Re-emerges in a Foul Mood

Apologies for my extended silence.

I made the mistake of inhaling some country air during a weekend in Vermont, which resulted in me contracting a TB-like cough that has dragged on for over a week. Plus, I'm covered in hives! Drinking alcohol only seems to inflame them, so I've been abstaining (which has only further enraged me). I always felt that I ought to distrust the country; finally my suspicions have been confirmed.

The only other thing I have to say about Vermont (which was actually really lovely even though it made me ill) is that the hamlet of Londonderry is a creepy place that should be avoided at all costs. Everyone who lives there is white, fifty-two years old, and owns a purebred dog. No joke. I spent four hours at the farmer's market there and saw 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 Labrador Retrievers, a Bernese Mountain Dog, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Mastiff (!), Cocker Spaniel, Havanese, German Shepherd, Bassett Hound, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Collie, West Highland Terrier, Boxer, English Springer Spaniel, Standard Poodle, Italian Greyhound, Yorkshire Terrier. What am I missing? Oh, not a single fucking mixed breed dog. I don't know what kind of doggie eugenics they're practicing in Londonderry, but something strange is afoot. I would advise against driving through town with a mutt—they're liable to run you off the road and lynch your dog.

Anyway, NYC's hot and angry and crime ridden right now. To give you a taste:
Two cops were shot during a routine traffic stop involving carjackers. Sloppy news outlets are reporting that it happened in my precious 'hood of Frown Fights, but it really happened two blocks south (Russ' old stomping grounds.) The shooters are still on the loose, so mind your heinies.

In Frown Fights proper we had our own carjacking. Psycho Victor Gordon got in a fight with girlfriend Deisha Bennett (thought she was a cheatin') and took to the streets with his gun. He wrecked the first car he stole, missed pulling over a second, crashed the third car then went down when officers fired 135 shots at him! The most shocking angle of the story was printed in the Daily News: "Gordon's family blamed Bennett for the bloodshed. 'She was stressing him out, they had a very turbulent relationship, said Gordon's aunt Doris Mears, 45. "'He wasn't a trigger-happy young man - she just set him off.'"

And, just to prove that we are all a bunch of crazy inconsiderate assholes, a stricter noise code went into effect on the first of the month. Within 4 days, 3,400 people called 311 to complain about noisy neighbors. Turn the salsa down a notch, please!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Bad Georgia: We Need Some Decent Celebs Here, Stat

New York may be full of annoying celebrities, but at least the cringe-worthy newsmakers like Lizzy Grubman and Joey Buttafuco are in the company of some real talent. Not so in Atlanta of late. In the past month my fair city has made the headlines with the following D-list star stories:

1. Atlanta Falcon Michael Vick is found to have his own illegal dog fighting ring...in his house. As in, he doesn't just operate a shady ring of people who are into watching dogs fight to the death - he literally has a ring in which dogs fight to the death in his house, so that said enthusiasts may swing by for a Bud and a torn canine jugular or two. Oh no, here come the animal cops...just kidding guys, it's a stripper!!! Hey guys, if you're lucky, maybe she'll loop that wire ring on the end of a stick around your neck in a saucy fashion!!

2. Egregiously offensive 48 yeadr-old tv "lawyer" Nancy Grace announces she is suddenly a) married and b) pregnant with twins. She won't admit to fertility treatments. Perhaps an exclusive intrview with Nancy Grace will scare the truth out of her. Oh, wait...

3. Wrestler Chris Benoit kills his wife and son (the latter said to possibly have the X Factor - someone call Simon Fuller! Oh wait, it's Fragile X), then strangles himself with...drum roll...weight lifting equipment. At least this story has some bitter symbolism to it.

Finally, my favorite:

4. Today, aspiring JonBenet Ramsey murderer (and former Nancy Grace pet project) John Mark Karr was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend and his own father in Sandy Springs, which is a) about 3 miles from my home and b) where my grandmother lives. The freakiest part of this is that he has a girlfriend. Oh, and that his father is still hanging out with him.

At this point, I am actually wanting Elton John to come and stay in his Atlanta home for a little bit, just to class things up.