Happy New Year to all my readers. Back again in 2005.
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
The past week has been quite bizarre. My internal clock is all messed up. I've basically had an inverted week: a 5-day weekend beginning last Thursday, and now 2 days of work, then another long weekend starting Thursday. My parents are in town because my mom had a surgical procedure on Thursday… the surgery went perfectly and she's well on the road to recovery, but after 12 hours in the hospital waiting room on Thursday followed by nearly day-long visits to their hotel room every day since, the days have completely melted into one another. It didn't help that the NFL had games on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, destroying my usual measure of weekend time. I did manage to find time for my annual Jewish Christmas, so I spent Friday night eating Chinese food and seeing movies: Phantom of the Opera (and the personal-record 9 trailers beforehand) and Closer. The Dolphins are on their first win "streak" of the season, and I'm $232 richer after winning the TRL fantasy football league (for the 2nd year in a row). Other than that, the days have been uneventful. I'm now back at work with very little to do, save brainstorming for a creative meeting this afternoon and helping Tommy write the New Year's special. Everyone who bothered to come in today would rather be anywhere else in the world. Tomorrow will be much of the same. It's such a depressing way to close out what has otherwise been an exciting year. Hopefully I'll be back to my usual snide self tomorrow.
I hope all my readers had a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hannukah, a Kwazy Kwanzaa, a Tip-Top Tet, and a solemn, dignified Ramadan (yes, I stole that from The Simpsons... sue me).
Posted by Brian at 3:19 PM
Friday, December 24, 2004
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Lindsay has posted her annual Porn Titles list... here were my suggestions, none of which were apparently good enough:
I, Rub It
Chronicles of Big Dick
Starsky in Hutch
Dodge Balls: A True Gang-Bang Story
Fifty First Fucks
The Last Cum Shot
The Whole Ten Inches
Posted by Brian at 4:46 PM
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
As you might expect, the Flaming Lips' video for "SpongeBob & Patrick Confront The Psychic Wall Of Energy" is surreal and trippy and wonderful (and features Wayne encased in a giant bubble... when's the last time he went out without one of those things? He's become a living Bubble Boy). You can check it out here.
Posted by Brian at 2:39 PM
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
TRL Dictionary, Part 2
More words that VJ's or guests have recently introduced to America...
malnutritioned: (adj) Affected by improper nutrition or an insufficient diet (see malnourished)
explicity: (noun) Clarity as a consequence of being explicit (see explicitness)
Posted by Brian at 2:34 PM
Monday, December 20, 2004
7th Season of The Sopranos? A Last Stop Exclusive...
So this morning I was on the subway and saw a guy who looked totally familiar. After a few moments of thinking, "How the hell do I know that guy?" and trying not to stare at him too much, it hits me: it's _____! (random supporting character from The Sopranos whose identity I'm keeping a secret in case he gets in trouble for leaking top-secret information) At the next stop a woman gets on, starts waving to him and wishing him a Merry Christmas. They start to talk and it becomes apparent that the woman works for HBO. After some idle chatter, she asks him when they start filming again, and he tells her April. Then he says something about him seeing [David] Chase the other day, which was unusual because he usually lives in the south of France when they're not shooting. Then the woman says, "So what are these rumors I've been hearing about a 7th season?" And he excitedly responds, "Yeah, that's what I heard from the production team. Which is fine with me... keep the checks coming... gotta pay for college somehow!"
Does this in fact mean that this season (the 6th) will not be the last? I sure hope not!
Posted by Brian at 11:26 AM
Friday, December 17, 2004
TRL Moment of the Week
On Monday, Vanessa was interviewing Jim Carrey about his new movie, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. She asked him what it was like playing so many different roles in the film, including Count Olaf, a scientist, a reptile expert... although Jim didn't hear a reptile expert... he heard something else*. And started laughing. Vanessa didn't get it, even after he subtlely tried to explain. The interview went downhill from there.
* Note: if you haven't figured out what he thought she said, it rhymes with berectile expert.
Posted by Brian at 11:32 AM
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Hurray, now I can use the term "crack ho" without fear of reprisal from English professors.
The article reminds me of a discussion I had with a former co-worker... she was ripping on the use of "pimp" in modern vernacular. She went on and on about how the term is offensive to women, no matter the context, but the kicker was this statement:
"Take Pimp Juice. I mean, that's basically the same thing as having, like, Castration Fudge."
Posted by Brian at 1:18 PM
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
For all of the talk about how you can't share iPod music, I've discovered it's quite easy to copy files from an iPod to a PC (also a good way to back up your music or transfer it if you're getting a bigger iPod, as I am) without downloading some sketchy shareware program... here's how:
1) Open Control Panel, go to Folder Options, click on the View tab, and highlight Show Hidden Files & Folders.
2) Connect iPod to computer.
3) Open My Computer and click on the iPod drive (as if you're opening a floppy disk).
4) There should be a faded folder that says iPod_Control. Open that.
5) There should be a faded folder that says Music. Open that and there should be lots of folders named P00, P01, P02, etc. They have your mp3s in them (sorted in a system I have yet to figure out).
6) Drag whatever files you want onto your hard-drive.
It's that simple. Have fun!
Posted by Brian at 6:25 PM
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Sunday's New York Times Magazine contained the annual Year in Ideas. Most fascinating one? Eyeball Jewelry. Yup, jewelry that is surgically placed directly into your eyeball. So far the procedure hasn't migrated from the Netherlands to the U.S. I for one hope it never does.
(if you don't feel like registering to read the article, here's a secondary one to give you a sense of it)
Posted by Brian at 10:35 AM
Monday, December 13, 2004
Last night I finally headed over to Mr. & Mrs. Sticking Point's apartment to check out their new baby, H____. I'd seen photos and kept up with the progress reports, but nothing could prepare me for just how cute this baby is. He won't smile at just anything, but when he does, his mouth opens so wide. It's as if he's surprised he's about to smile and goes "OH!"... but then the corners of his mouth curl upwards and suddenly he looks so happy he could burst. It's friggin' adorable! I only got to see him for about an hour before his eyes closed and they put him to bed, but I'm sure it will be the first of many visits.
I spent the next couple of hours with the beaming parents. For all of their sleepless nights and sore backs, they seem in good shape (albeit a little tired). I saw photos from their trip to Korea and heard a week's worth of great baby stories. They seemed very appreciative of my gifts: pee-pee teepees and Zabar's coffee. It was great spending time with them, although I kept thinking to myself that I was using up their well-deserved sleep time. I look forward to watching H____ grow and seeing their many years of parental happiness.
Posted by Brian at 1:31 PM
Friday, December 10, 2004
MTV Holiday Party was last night at Hammerstein Ballroom, and I'm in absolutely no shape to really post anything today... my apologies. Hopefully I'll find a decent link to something at some point... maybe some McDonald's grease will pick me up.
Posted by Brian at 1:03 PM
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Last night I went to see Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure, a one-man Off-Broadway show in which Gorman describes his journey (after making a bet with a friend) to find ten connected googlewhack sites. If this does not make sense, I'll try to explain:
- A googlewhack is the result of a two-word search on Google which leads to only one website.
- Once finding a googlewhack, Gorman had to meet the author of that website, get that person to find two more googlewhacks, then travel to meet the author of those sites for the chain to continue. 10 in a row, met in person before his 32nd birthday, without a dead-end.
If it sounds complicated, it's really not, and he tells his story with such passion, energy, and deft wit (as well as photos, graphs, and other assorted visual aids) that he had the entire audience eating out of his hand for the entire 90 minutes (no intermission). I had seen Gorman's previous show, Are You Dave Gorman? (about another bet in which he had to travel the globe finding other people named Dave Gorman) back in 2001, and although that show was hilarious, this one is better by leaps and bounds. I highly recommend it to one and all.
P.S. The title of this post should, in theory, make my site a googlewhack.
Posted by Brian at 10:22 AM
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
The Little Girl I Once Knew
Well, my creepy habit of developing crushes on young female TRL guests struck again when special co-host Lindsay Lohan showed up yesterday sporting a vintage 1987 Beach Boys 25th Anniversary Tour t-shirt, which I assumed was simply a knockaround shirt for rehearsal until she actually wore it on air. Fortunately, the crush came to a screeching halt when, during the last commercial break, she decided to change into a "You Were Never My Boyfriend" shirt so that she could pettily trash-talk her ex, Wilmer Valderrama.
And yes, as she hid behind a curtain backstage to change, I had thoughts of pulling back the curtain, taking a quick photo, and retiring for a few years with the money I made selling the pic to US Weekly... but alas, I didn't.
Posted by Brian at 10:58 AM
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
I generally don't read Ain't It Cool News, but a co-worker pointed out this review of Blade: Trinity, and I had to pass along this excerpt:
If I have to use a sexual metaphor to compare BLADE: TRINITY to, it would be this. It is as if you decided to live out a fantasy and you hired a dominatrix to tie you up. She comes in covered head to toe in latex. You’re bound firmly. Once helpless and anticipating great pleasure… You see her remove her hood and in place of what you had hoped you see the most hideous creature known to mankind. It smiles at you with a maw filled with chipped broken cavity ridden teeth and pus-y gums. It goes down on you dragging these sharp jagged teeth across the sensitive skin of your horrified organ. Cutting your flesh, infecting you with it’s terribleness… from time to time the tongue gives a second or two of pleasure, but the ill-formed briar patch mouth causes mostly winces and agony, as you’re constantly reminded of the fact… you paid for this shit. FUCK!
Posted by Brian at 2:25 PM
Frown on SMiLE
Well, they shafted him again, for the most part. But what else is new? "SMiLE" got 3 Grammy nominations, for Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Rock Instrumental Performance, and Best Production (Non-Classical). The nominations were dominated by Kanye West, who got 10 nods. I'm okay with that. Also okay with Green Day getting 6 and Alicia Keys getting 8. And Velvet Revolver snagging 3. And it's good to see Bjork and the Killers get recognized. Not so okay with Usher getting 8. That's all about commercialism. Nobody can honestly think "Confessions" is a better album than "SMiLE." It's impossible. Unless you've suffered from brain damage. Or your name is Usher. Which is probably one and the same for him. The 7 noms for Ray Charles are also a bit excessive. Yes, he died this year and deserves to be recognized for his career. But his new album is nowhere near his best work. Brian Wilson better hope he puts out an album the year he passes away... that's probably the only way he'll be properly recognized.
A few years ago, people complained that the RIAA was out-of-touch with modern tastes (I think it culminated with Steely Dan winning Album of the Year in 2000). Now the pendulum has swung too far the other way to overcompensate. The nominations were overwhelmingly given to the biggest sellers of the year, not necessarily the best-quality music. Let's hope that academy members at least vote for quality when choosing winners from these nominations... it'd be a welcome change.
Posted by Brian at 1:21 PM
Monday, December 06, 2004
Grammy nominations are announced in the morning... all I know is that if "SMiLE" gets shut out, the RIAA is gonna have some questions to answer... the sad fact that artists such as Milli Vanilli and Paula Cole have more Grammys than Brian Wilson / The Beach Boys (who have never won and have only been nominated three times, once for liner notes) must end NOW.
Posted by Brian at 9:39 PM
Here's a mini-diary of the debacle that was Friday night's Stars, Stripes, and Skates 2004:
6:19: Somehow make it from the TRL post-mortem meeting, which ended at 6:05, to Penn Station in time to buy a ticket to Hicksville and board the train. I even got a seat. Sweet! Unfortunately it's right by the bathroom and smells a little funky. Not sweet!
7:13: Arrive to find about a thousand people waiting in the cold to enter Cantiague Park, 17 minutes before the show is set to start. I go inside and get my All Access pass, which says "Cantiague Pak." I can tell things won't go well.
7:16: Head backstage to find Nancy Kerrigan, the host of the evening's festivities. Even though we worked together last year, she has no recollection of me. I tell her I'm the writer and ask her if she has any questions about anything. "Oh, well we changed a bunch of stuff during rehearsal.: Uh-oh!
7:32: I'm asked to "guard the Zamboni." I have no idea where the Zamboni is, so I wander around the arena searching. After finally locating it in a backstage area partitioned off by a black curtain, I stand guard for a few minutes, then decide nobody would mess with it and abandon my post.
7:58: The lights dim and the show starts, 28 minutes late.
8:06: Nancy heads onto the ice and begins her introduction. Unfortunately, her mic doesn't work. I can hear a technician yelling, "She grabbed the wrong mic!" When she finally gets a working mic, she stutters over words and laughs over jokes. Not a good start.
8:08: During the first skating routine, the music cuts off too soon. The pair skate around the ice for several moments until the A/V guy restarts the music. I hear one of the other skaters backstage yell, "Stupid!" Still not good.
8:11: Apparently when Nancy said that changes had been made, she meant that she cut out punchlines while leaving in the set-ups. For example, in introducing the next skater, the introduction is now, "I think we should turn down the temperature in here for our next skater. Please welcome Nick LaRoche!" Gone is the line, "He's so hot, he might just melt the ice."* Small change, big difference.
*Note - I know that's a shitty line, but the show is for kids...
8:16: 11-year-old Rebecca Farrell skates in honor of her father, a firefighter who died at WTC. She is adorable and talented and gets the biggest round of applause so far.
8:18: A ten-year-old from the audience introduces the next skaters, Galit Chait and Sergie Sakhnovsky. I can't pronounce their names, but she nails it. Maybe she should replace Nancy for the rest of the show.
8:21: Time for a children's group number, the first of four displaying kids chosen in talent searches across the tri-state area. It's cute and surprisingly coordinated. One of the girls is standing on the stage dancing in place... apparently she hurt her ankle and can't skate. Too bad they didn't shine a light on her... nobody in the audience even knew she was there.
8:29: Olympic Bronze Medalist Philippe Candeloro, the biggest name of the night, does an incredible routine. Since he has to return to France and can't stay until the end of the show, Nancy asks him to extend his routine a bit. Philippe agrees, then immediately crashes into the audience during a spin move. He should've quit while he was ahead.
8:34: Paul D'Amato, a bit player in the film Slap Shot, introduces the NYPD/FDNY hockey relay for the 2nd year in a row. Afterwards we talk briefly about my writing for TRL. He gives me his card and says I should e-mail him and maybe we can write something together. Maybe I have a Hollywood "in" now... unfortunately his card is for a skate-shop he works for, so I probably shouldn't get my hopes up.
8:43: Intermission. I head over to the silent auction area to see how my donated items are doing. The TRL VIP pass is at $125, while the collection of autographed CD's (Kid Rock, P.O.D., Kelly Rowland, and Stacie Oricco) have, surprisingly, not gotten a bid yet.
9:13: The producer of the show heads onstage to give a brief remark. And I mean brief: two lines. Unfortunately she flubs them. Afterwards she sighs, "How could I blow two lines?"
9:18: Miss New York Christina Ellington sings "I Believe in America." She sounds like a goose in heat. I assume she must look damn hot in a swimsuit.
9:33: Local New York band Housewives on Prozac (whose name is the least bit ironic) sing "Skatin' Mama Blues," a song from the upcoming on-ice Broadway musical Cold as Ice. It's their second performance of the night, the first being their original song, "I Broke My Arm X-mas Shopping at the Mall." Looking at this entry, nothing I just wrote makes any sense.
9:44: The Original Tokens (as I've been informed they must be introduced as) perform their hit "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." During the song, two five-year-olds skate around dressed in lion costumes. One of them falls several times. The tenor for the Tokens (er, Original Tokens) can no longer hit the high "eeeeeeeee" during the "a-weema-weh" section. Yes, the producers have pulled out all the stops for this show. Oh, and the guitar player is 16-years-old, leading me to believe they aren't really that "original" after all.
9:58: After all of the skaters (of the ones who bothered to skip around, which I'd put at 60%) return to the ice, the show ends. I figure I'm free to head over to the party tent, my work being done. But I am mistaken. I am asked to haul the Housewives' amps to their van, remove heavy scenery from the stage, and do other manual labor that I didn't realize was part of my job as Writer.
10:19: I check the silent auction table. The TRL VIP pass is up to $210. As for the CD collection, somebody has crossed out the minimum bid of $50 and written in $30. Oh well, every little bit helps, I guess. I bid $200 on a framed autographed photo of Hideki Matsui and piece of the first home run ball he ever hit as a Yankee (a grand slam, by the way). Hope I win.
10:22: I finally get to the party tent to find that all the food is gone. Fortunately the wine is still flowing.
10:33: The skaters crowd onto a small bus to be taken... wherever they're going. These are some of the top skaters in all of North America, crammed into this piece-of-crap bus. It reminds me of the Simpsons episode, "Bart the Lover," in which, after an assembly that wows the students, a troupe of yo-yo performers is herded into the van while their manager yells, "Get your worthless butts in the van! We got three more schools to do!''
10:58: I head inside to ask one of the arena staffers where I can find a cab or bus to get me to the train station. I'm told that they don't come to the arena, but I can walk... it's about a mile down the street. My train leaves at 11:21. I leave without saying goodbye to anyone.
11:20: Make it to the train station and catch my train back to Manhattan. On the train I get to think about the show. Honestly, it was a success... they raised money for a good cause and the audience had fun. I'm glad I helped out again. But this may be my last year...
Posted by Brian at 3:40 PM
VJ Damien and I have been e-mailing back and forth for the past few minutes about the recent block of videos on VH1 Classic ("Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin," "Say You Say Me," and "Heartbeat"). Here is his comment on "Heartbeat"...
Don Johnson, do you realize you just made me hit pause on my Green Day cd…damn you Johnson and your dulcet tones…If Emeril was to combine the ingredients for a HANDSOME PIE…Don Johnson would pop out of the oven after 30 minutes.
I could never have said it better.
Posted by Brian at 2:47 PM
More from the TRL Graveyard
An aborted cold open to air last Friday that was filmed and partially edited before being killed for a cut open focusing on Eminem's new video, "Like Toy Soldiers."
(DAMIEN IS STANDING ON STAGE, CHEERING KIDS BEHIND HIM. THE STAGE MANAGER STARTS COUNTING DOWN)
-LIVE IN 5, 4, 3, 2…
(DAMIEN'S CELL-PHONE RINGS, AND HE TAKES IT OUT, MOUTHING "ONE SEC" TO THE STAGE MANAGER)
-HEY, WHAT'S UP?
-NO, DON'T WORRY, I CAN TOTALLY TALK NOW
(GRAPHIC & SOUND-UP: "IT'S INCONSIDERATE CELL-PHONE VJ")
(DAMIEN IS LOUNGING IN A CHAIR BACKSTAGE, TALKING ON THE PHONE WITH HIS FEET UP ON A DESK. A CREW GUY CARRYING A BIG BOX TRIES TO WALK BY BUT DAMIEN WON'T PUT HIS FEET DOWN TO LET HIM PASS)
-I SWEAR, THE CLOUD WAS SHAPED JUST LIKE MY GRANDMA
-EXCUSE ME, CAN I GET BY?
-(TO CREW GUY) HELLO, I'M ON THE PHONE...
-(INTO PHONE) SOME PEOPLE!
(GRAPHIC & SOUND-UP: "SO INAPPROPRIATE")
(VANESSA IS DOING A READ, AND DAMIEN WANDERS AIMLESSLY THROUGH THE SHOT)
-SO THE DUCK HAD IT THE WHOLE TIME?
(GRAPHIC & SOUND-UP: "DON'T BE AN INCONSIDERATE VJ... PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CELL-PHONES WHEN HOSTING TRL")
Posted by Brian at 11:40 AM
Friday, December 03, 2004
Funny how when I find something like this Virtual Bartender, I turn into a horny teenager...
(P.S. She can do at least all the following: kiss, banana, beer nuts, jedi fight, jump, touch your toes, hummer, take your shirt off, ass/flash, get naked, lick, handstand, dance, rap/eminem, orgasm, stomach/rub, cowgirl, tongue, bend, exercise, hair, spread, jiggle, lol, tickle, phone, drink beer, gun, robot, karate, macarena, pillow fight, can i start a tab?, magazine, guitar, arms, dog, give me your number, cartwheel, lollipop, magic, model, pitcher, bottle, math, box, tap, squeeze, wet)
Posted by Brian at 1:58 PM
I've been having the worst luck with fortune cookies... a few weeks ago I got this, then last night I get stuck with this one:
The physician heals, nature makes well.
You'd think after all their years making cookies, the Chinese would actually know what a fortune is. But I guess not.
Posted by Brian at 9:56 AM
Thursday, December 02, 2004
Adam Mesh from TV's Average Joe, which is pretty low to begin with, has sunk even lower... this morning he was handing out flyers for VH1's Big in '04 show outside the MTV building. If he's doing that to promote the show, that's sad... and if he's doing it as a normal job, that's even sadder.
Posted by Brian at 6:54 PM
If you're really REALLY desperate for something to do on Friday night, come to Stars, Stripes, and Skates, a 9/11 benefit taking place at Cantiague Ice Arena. Where else can you see tons of world-famous ice skaters, the original Tokens ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight"), legendary Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson, and Miss New York all in one place, plus wonderfully witty banter written by yours truly?
I bet you can't think of another answer, can you? CAN YOU?
Posted by Brian at 9:52 AM
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Nominations for the 2005 Independent Spirit Awards were announced today... not surprisingly, Sideways had the most with six. I'm thrilled that Napoleon Dynamite snagged two, although it's a travesty Jon Heder was left out of Best Debut Performance. Can't wait for the awards on Feb. 26 to see if Brittany Murphy has another meltdown like she had back at the 2003 show.
Posted by Brian at 11:13 AM
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Monday, November 29, 2004
Oops, forgot one...
Jeers to traffic (and the taxi fare hike). After cruising most of the way to JFK, traffic suddenly stalled about 5 miles from the airport, and it took just under an hour to move 2 miles thanks to a 3-car pile-up. My sister and I still made our flight, but the ride cost a whopping $75 (plus tip). Guess we should've taken the AirTrain...
Posted by Brian at 6:36 PM
Rolling Stone magazine unveiled its list of the 500 greatest rock & roll songs of all time. Not to be outdone, this weekend radio station Q104.3 played its list of the 1,043 classic rock & roll songs of all time. The only song that appears in both top 10? "Hey Jude." Both lists have their problems: RS is hugely biased towards Motown and lacks respect of current music (only 3 songs from this decade, 2 of which are by Eminem), while 104's list seems more interested in killer guitar licks than quality lyrics or impact on society. Still, it's interesting to see the gap between "experts" (who voted for RS's list) and "fans" (who voted for 104's list).
Posted by Brian at 2:02 PM
I'm back from spending 5 (semi-)relaxing nights with my parents in South Florida... and, much like last year, there was much to be thankful for... and much not to be. So here's my second-annual Thanksgiving Cheers and Jeers:
Cheers to my grandma, the queen of unintentional comedy. This year's winner for best line of the trip came when we were discussing the fact that she can't drink beer because she's on a diet. When I suggested she drink lite beer, she waved her hand dismissively and said, "Lite beer... that's like drinking make-believe!"
Cheers to my mom, who is fast becoming my grandma when it comes to crazy lines. Her best was, "Speaking of people not wearing purple shirts..." (even though nobody was talking about people wearing purple shirts... or not wearing purple shirts... or even purple shirts at all)
Jeers to my jinxing ability. On the Sunday before I left, I ran into Andy, the Apprentice 2 contestant who went to my high school. I made my best effort not to talk about the show, as I'm sure he's sick of it, but wished him luck with the rest of it. Of course, Trump fired him on the next show. Sorry, Andy!
Jeers to South Florida DJ's. One of them said, "Lots of people say it's Beyonce, but I think Amy Lee has the best voice in music." Hey, I'm a bigger Evanescence fan than I should be, and I like her voice, but there's no way Amy Lee has the best in music. Another DJ said he had some "sad holiday news" about a man who died when he fell of his roof trying to string up holiday lights, then went on a riff about how that sounds like Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation. Little tact?
Jeers to bad timing. My flight home on Tuesday coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Doug Flutie UM/BC game, one of the most exciting in the history of college football. I'd never actually seen the final hail-mary pass, so I was excited to find that JetBlue had ESPN Classic on its DirecTV service, allowing me to watch the game in the air. Sadly, we landed less than 2 minutes before the game ended, and the TV shut off as we pulled into the gate. I've still never seen the play.
Cheers to perseverance. At the West Palm Beach airport security line, a man got into an argument with security, who said that his bag was too big to bring as a carry-on. The man stuffed the bag into the dimension display, showing arguing that it did in fact fit. When rebuffed, the guy started screaming at the security guard that he wanted to see her boss. She said that she had no boss, so the guy yelled, "Oh, so you're the king of the airport?" When she continued to refuse him, he yelled to everyone else on line, "Does anyone see any reason why I can't bring this bag on-board?" Of course he received no response. Eventually the security guard relented. And while I don't really endorse making such a scene at an airport, I was impressed by his, shall we say, moxie.
(On a side note, as the guy then went to retrieve his bag from the dimension display, he found it wedged in so tightly that it was stuck... as I passed through the metal detector, he was still struggling to free it)
Anyway, back to the daily grind now...
Posted by Brian at 11:11 AM
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Last Stop: This Town will be on temporary hiatus as I head to Florida for the weekend... back on Monday.
Happy Thanksgiving, readers!
Posted by Brian at 2:51 PM
Here are some words that VJ's or guests have recently introduced to America...
tift: (noun) a petty quarrel (see tiff, rift)
conversate: (verb) to talk (see converse)
chastle: (noun) a cup or goblet (see chalice)
Posted by Brian at 2:36 PM
Monday, November 22, 2004
Today is the 7-year anniversary of the death of Michael Hutchence. I was set to see INXS play at the Electric Factory in Philly two weeks before he died, but at the last minute didn't (in all honesty, the girl I was gonna go with backed out). I happened to be in NY the day he died, and was eating dinner with my sister at Times Square Brewery (which was then located above the 42nd St. subway station in the south median between B'way and 7th) when I saw the news of his death go by on the news ticker. To this day I'm pissed off at that girl for making me miss that concert. Now, I'm more pissed at the fact that INXS is starring in a reality show to find a new singer. The band died with Michael... let's keep it that way.
Posted by Brian at 6:35 PM
Things I Learned This Weekend Watching the First DVD of Pee-Wee's Playhouse, Vol. 1
- The opening credit sequence has to be the longest in television history: 2:29 every show. The theme song also contains some of the most bizarrely-amazing lyrics ever. And it's sung by Cyndi Lauper!
- The show was a breeding ground of talent: Larry Fishburne, Phil Hartman, and 8-year-olds Shaun Weiss (the fat kid from The Mighty Ducks trilogy and Freaks & Geeks) and Natasha Lyonne.
- Even given Paul Reubens' questionable history, for some reason it still doesn't seem strange when Cowboy Carl says to Pee-Wee, "I showed you mine, now you show me yours." (FYI: that line refers to dance moves)
- The recurring food segment rarely made sense... on salad day, he said "It's easy. First, head over to your salad bar"... I guess every house was supposed to have a counter set-up with lettuce, onions, beets, mushrooms, cucumbers, tomatoes, and 3 types of beans. And teaching how to make ice-cream soup? Even kids know what happens when ice-cream melts...
- Considering that Miss Yvonne was supposedly the "most beautiful girl in Cartoonland," she's really not that good-looking.
- I'm positive that he breakdancing noise Conky makes when he powers up was used in a song, and it's driving me nuts that I can't think of what it is. Little help?
- My roommate Dave (32 years old) and my friend Sean (31) are both too old to have watched the show from a child's perspective and are too young to have watched it from a kitschy, retro-perspective... and the show has not been re-run since it was taken off the air in 1991... but they both remember it surprisingly well.
- I can't get the following out of my head: "You all remember what to do whenever anybody says the secret word right? Scream! That's right. For the rest of the day, whenever anybody says the secret word, SCREAM REAL LOUD! Ready? Let's try it. "
- I wish it was 1987 again so I could watch these shows for the first time all over again. Damn Peter-Pan Syndrome...
Posted by Brian at 1:54 PM
This morning I was flipping through the radio and caught the last half of the new, Band Aid 20 version of "Do They Know It's Christmas." I assumed it would suck... but I was wrong. Because suck isn't nearly a strong-enough word. I don't think there is a word to describe this monstrosity. After the song ended, the DJ's took phone calls from listeners to get people's reactions, and the first few were bad. They took a few more... still all bad. "Somebody had to like it!" the DJ exclaimed... after a dozen calls, he realized he was mistaken: everyone hated it. I didn't realize that American radio audiences actually had taste anymore, but they universally panned the song. Good for them!
If you want to hear it for yourself (or see the awful video), go here... but I don't recommend it.
Posted by Brian at 11:08 AM
Friday, November 19, 2004
TRL Moments of the Week (Good Charlotte edition)
Good Charlotte stopped by the show on Wednesday to give away props from their video, "Predictable."
1) As the segment producer prepped the band on their interview, one of the members of the band (dunno which one... they're all the same to me) asked the producer not to use the word "cynical," because "our fans probably won't know what that means."
2) A female Good Charlotte fan (who couldn't have been more than 17) stood on the sidewalk outside our studio holding this sign:
Posted by Brian at 2:39 PM
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Entertainment Weekly is running a poll for album and musician of the year... and in a very surprising (and pleasant) development, as of right now "SMiLE" is the leading vote-getter for album by a wide margin (26% to Usher's "Confessions" with 16%). You can (and should) vote for Brian Wilson here.
Posted by Brian at 1:19 PM
Okay, I have huge news... everyone, take a deep breath... the one and only Joe Piscopo will be at the Times Square Toys 'R' Us tomorrow (Thursday) from 4-7 to introduce Trivial Pursuit SNL Edition. THE Joe Piscopo, in person! You'll be able to ask him about all his awesome movies like... um...
Posted by Brian at 9:57 AM
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
The Cereal Life
Sunday's New York Times contained a hard-hitting expose on... cereal. Fascinating, really. Apparently people like to eat it. But in the article, there was something of interest... UPenn, my alma mater, is building a restaurant called Cereality, which serves nothing but bowls of cereal. 30 types of cereal, 34 toppings, 3 types of milk... and a whopping $4 a bowl (basically the same price supermarkets charge for a box), all served by pajama-clad "cereologists." A visit to their website shows that the store looks like a Jamba Juice. How this possibly fits in the center of West Philly, competing against trucks serving $3 cheesesteaks, is beyond me. But hey, if Philadelphians can pay $100 for a kobe-beef-and-foie-gras cheesesteak, I guess they can spend $4 on a single bowl of cereal.
Posted by Brian at 10:27 AM
Monday, November 15, 2004
With all the millions of different fortunes stuck in cookies in Chinese restaurants around the world, how did my friend and I manage to get the same exact one last night, and have it be the lamest fortune I have ever read?
Your winsome smile will be your sure protection.
Posted by Brian at 1:15 PM
Friday, November 12, 2004
A Thriller No More
In 2001, on the day Michael Jackson released the ill-fated Invincible album, fans standing in Times Square raced across the street, climbing over moving cars, to catch a glimpse of him. Yesterday, Jacko protests against Eminem in the middle of Times Square and only 20 people show up. Incredible how much his popularity has sagged. TRL had at least 50 people standing out in the cold rain for Ludacris today. For Ludacris! However, maybe it's for the best that so few people showed up... I've never seen him look creepier.
Posted by Brian at 6:21 PM
It was bad enough dealing with the rain this morning, which always causes havoc on the subway (delays, soaking-wet people, funky mildew smell), but while exiting at Times Square, I ran into about a dozen Agent Smiths Cinemax had planted to hand out scratch-off games promoting this weekend's presentation of the Matrix trilogy. How could they possibly think this is a wise scheduling move? Did their programmers see the 2nd and 3rd movies? I think I'd rather watch the MVP: Most Valuable Primate trilogy...
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
TRL has introduced 44 1/2, the world's largest high-definition screen, which hangs over Times Square right outside our studio (and is so named because "it stretches practically all the way from 44th to 45th St."). The screen itself is pretty cool and has unbelievable clarity (and would be awesome to watch the Super Bowl on, as some of the TRL gang is discussing), but it's fairly embarrassing to see such a big projection of myself displayed to tourists during rehearsals. The world definitely does not need to see me wearing a headset, holding cue-cards, and desperately trying to get the VJ's to focus on what they're doing. I say bring back the Jockey billboard featuring the half-naked woman... that's a much better visual.
Posted by Brian at 10:36 AM
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Last night my sister and I went to see the Off-Broadway show Eat the Taste. The show had been getting almost universal good reviews, and the premise is actually pretty funny: with Bush's presidency coming to a close (it's set in the future), John Ashcroft decides that he wants to star in a one-man Broadway musical about his life... so he enlists the help of the creative team behind Urinetown to help him. Although "enlists" actually means "holds captive at gunpoint by government agents in a cheap hotel room."
Set-up aside, the play is awful. It's basically a one-joke show stretched out to 65 minutes. Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann, the actual lyricist and composer of Urinetown, appear as themselves and prove that they most certainly are not actors. Yet they are almost better than the real actors, particularly the lone female, Eva van Dok. Kotis and Hollmann may be the ones "eating the taste," but she is so busy chewing the scenery and overacting that she doesn't have time to do anything else. One highpoint comes near the end when Hollmann demonstrates a brilliantly-clever new song written for Ashcroft's show called "Shaking Off the Chains." But one good bellylaugh in an hour does not a good show make.
Posted by Brian at 1:53 PM
Monday, November 08, 2004
After watching DiG! on Sundance Channel this weekend, I'm glad that Brian Jonestown Massacre offers all of its music for free on their website... because even though I like their music, I'll be damned if I ever spend a dollar buying one of their CDs or paying for one of their concert ticket to give money to that arrogant asshole Anton Newcombe. Although I loved the movie, Newcombe's constant whining and immaturity became almost unbearable. I can't recall the last time I've seen so much talent wasted on a musician I hope will never succeed (actually, Joel Gein bothered me much more, but that's tempered by the fact that he doesn't seem to have any talent, unless making stupid faces while shaking a tambourine and making snide comments counts as a talent). Fortunately, I don't have to worry much, since Newcombe continually sabotages himself (and yes, feel free to bring on the argument that he doesn't want success... that bullshit line just doesn't fly, and anyone who says it, including Newcombe, knows deep down that it's bullshit).
Friday, November 05, 2004
Happy Birthday To Me
This blog turns 1-year-old today. Unbelievable how fast time flies. It also amazes me, when I look back at some of my original posts... I once had actual opinions and thoughtful things to say, as opposed to my current hodge-podge of links and lame jokes. My friend Jared, one of Last Stop's original readers, used to complain that my ranting posts made me come off as very angry. I don't think I've mellowed out much over the past year... getting lazy is a much better explanation for the change.
Anyway, this year has been fun, and I hope I can keep this site alive for another year.
Posted by Brian at 4:06 PM
TRL Moment of the Week
Tuesday's Choose or Lose Edition of TRL (which was handled entirely by MTV News, so I can receive no blame) featured a segment in which Damien walked into the Downtown (a.k.a. small) studio to find P. Diddy and his Vote or Die! entourage manning a phone bank. I still don't know who exactly was supposedly calling and for what purpose, but it was blatently obvious these people weren't actually talking to any callers... they all picked up the phone, waited silently for a few seconds without saying anything, then hung up. Rachel Bilson, the only one in the room not wearing a Vote or Die! shirt (I guess she actually has fashion sense) didn't even pick up her phone... she simply sat there with a confused look on her face, giggled periodically, then disappeared the next time the show cut back to the room. At one point P. Diddy started talking to Trick Daddy*, who was "on the phone" at the time, and Trick Daddy managed to do an entire 60-second interview while holding the receiver to his ear without disrupting his conversation with the "caller." Amazing television.
* Note: P. Diddy mentioned during his interview that Trick Daddy, a convicted felon, is ineligible to vote. At least that gave him an excuse not to, unlike the revelation that many other celebrities in Diddy's Vote or Die! campaign (Paris Hilton, 50 Cent) not only didn't vote, but weren't even registered.
Posted by Brian at 10:58 AM
Thursday, November 04, 2004
In his most recent Page 2 post, Hunter Thompson guaranteed a Kerry victory on Tuesday. I gotta say, for a gambling man, Thompson is terrible when it comes to predictions. I recently read his book Generation of Swine, which included the following forecasts made in 1986:
- "[Herschel Walker will] be lucky to gain 500 yards." (Walker rushed for 737 yards along with 837 receiving yards in that, his rookie season)
- "The odds on George Bush being our next president will be about 33-1." (Bush destroyed Dukakis by 315 electoral votes in one of the most one-sided elections in history)
- "The Patriots won't make the playoffs again for 25 years" (The Pats lost in the AFC Championship game the next year, made it all the way to the Super Bowl in 1997, and have won it 2 of the past 3 years)
Posted by Brian at 10:27 AM
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
I'm so sick of hearing that awful song, "1985." I don't understand why people think it's funny or clever. And the selection of artists doesn't even make sense for a song about a girl living in the musical past... Springsteen, Madonna, U2, and even Blondie (to some extent) are all still relevant (and of those, U2 and Blondie didn't even have hit singles that year). Why didn't they use artists that are no longer recording? Good choices from that year include John Parr, a-ha, Simple Minds, Mr. Mister, Wham!, Billy Ocean, Animotion... seriously, Bowling for Soup, do your research!
Posted by Brian at 1:32 PM
When I posted yesterday that things could not get worse for Florida, I was wrong... very wrong. They voted for Bush. Now things will not only be worse for Florida, but they will be worse for the entire country (and probably the whole world). It's very troubling to be a Floridian today.
Also troubling is that last night I found out one of my best friends from college is being shipped out to Iraq in January. He's always been impulsive... when he graduated from Penn he had no idea what to do for a career, so he moved to Thailand for 2 years to teach English, and when he returned he enlisted in the Army. He did a fantastic job in basic training and seems ready and willing to go overseas to fight for his country and support his president... and even though I don't support the war, I have to support his decision. But I'm terrified for him. He'll be a sniper in Iraq, which I'm hoping will keep him far enough away from immediate danger, but it's still a very frightening development, especially given the re-election of Bush, who is to stupid and stubborn to even contemplate removing troops in the immediate future. I'll have my fingers crossed the entire time he's there.
Posted by Brian at 11:31 AM
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Rough weekend for Florida sports. All three college football teams (UM, FSU, and UF) lost on Saturday, the Jags lost to the Texans on Sunday, the Dolphins were utterly demolished by the Jets last night, Shaq's hamstring may cause him to miss tomorrow night's NBA opener for the Heat, and the Marlins' closer Armando Benitez filed for free agency. Here's hoping the teams can turn things around quickly... although I don't see how they can get much worse.
Posted by Brian at 2:26 PM
Monday, November 01, 2004
I Knew I Should've Dressed Up as a Porn Star
Met up with some friends at a Halloween party on Saturday night. One of the girls was dressed as a flapper, yet when I asked her what she was, she drunkenly replied "a fluffer." Bet she would've won the costume contest hands (or knees) down...
Posted by Brian at 2:24 PM
Friday, October 29, 2004
Went to see Tears for Fears at the Beacon last night. Yeah, I know, it's 2004... fortunately I ran until Ultragrrl there, and having a hip Spin columnist in attendance made me feel much less embarrassed to be there. Watching the show, I wondered if the band realizes that we aren't living in the 70's: the set was littered with Monty Python-esque cartoon cutouts, and their new album, "Everybody Loves a Happy Ending," borrows extensively from ELO. The concert was good, not great... not much different than listening to their albums, except that the instrumentation and vocals aren't as lush (although Roland Orzabal's voice is still incredibly strong). Yet the longer I sat among the crowd, listening to them cheer a band play a hit like "Shout" that's 20 years old (scary thought), the more I realized that going to a concert like this isn't really about hearing a quality performance. It's about revisiting your past. Nostalgia is great. TfF must know that they're passe. But when they play "Sowing the Seeds of Love," it makes their fans happy. So they play it, and people cheer, and even though it may be lame, there's nothing wrong with that.
P.S. I have to wonder, has Roland ever had a decent haircut? 1982: nope. 1985: nope. 1989: nope. 1993: nope. Present day: nope.
Posted by Brian at 2:52 PM
TRL Moment of the Week (Backstage)
On Monday we premiered the new video, "Lose My Breath," from Destiny's Child. The VJ's are watching it on the monitor, which leads to this exchange:
La La: Oh, hell no!
La: I just bought that jacket.
Damien: Which one?
La: The one Beyonce's wearing.
La: That's not cool! I spent 2 G's on that thing! Now I'm gonna have to burn it!
TRL Moment of the Week (On Air)
As they always do, a group of audience members was dancing during the commercial breaks yesterday. One member of indeterminate gender was leading the pack and shaking what he/she (it?) had. The control room decided to tape it and roll the clip once we returned from break. I told Quddus to reference the dancer, and as the clip is rolling, he says "Check out that dancer... he's doing his thing." As it turns out, he was, in fact, a she. The audience casting director avoided a scene by giving her VIP passes to a future show. Still, next time maybe wear a little make-up... please?
Posted by Brian at 2:27 PM
Thursday, October 28, 2004
I recently got to see Finding Neverland and Ray. Both are Oscar-hopeful biopics, but I had very different reactions to them.
Let's start with Neverland. I loved it. It had the potential to be very sappy and cheesy, but it wasn't. Kate Winslett gives a knockout performance (when doesn't she?), and while I prefer movies where Johnny Depp has latitude to really tear into a role, he was wonderfully subtle and understated. The stagings of Barrie's plays and the fantasy sequences are visually spectacular. The only drawback is the four children. Their acting is fine, especially as far as child actors go, but their dialogue made me want to cringe. Yes, I understand that upper-class British children at the turn of the century were held to stricter codes of behavior and etiquette, but the filmmakers took it way too far. These weren't kids... they were miniature aristocrats. Still, it's a minor fault in an otherwise great movie.
Ray, on the other hand, had a terrific performance of young Ray Charles, and an even better one by Jamie Foxx as adult Ray, but the movie sucked overall. Amazing how such a fascinating life (and incredible music) could be such a boring movie. The film takes place mostly from 1948-1964, and it felt like it was moving in real time. I began to panic at the 2 1/2 hour mark, since we were still 40 years from the present, but then the movie draws to a jarringly-abrupt conclusion. Foxx does his best to bring life to the movie, and I can't see anyone beating him come Oscar time, but his performance is just not enough to salvage Ray.
P.S. Anyone who does see Ray, note that when Foxx is shirtless at one point, his nipple looks like a vagina. I'd never seen anything like it before. Are pussy-nips a common occurrence?
Posted by Brian at 1:06 PM
2 quick television notes:
1) I was watching Tuesday's Scrubs when suddenly I noticed my friend Amy Ferguson... she was the blonde talking to J.D. in the bar before he's set on fire. Amy had appeared with Zach Braff in Garden State as the girl he makes out with at the high-school party, which is probably how she landed this gig. I'm always happy to see my friends succeeding, and she recently moved out to L.A., so who knows if I'll ever see her again... but I wish her the best of luck.
2) South Park has done it again. Last night's season premiere was a terrific commentary on the election, showing the students voting for a new school mascot. Their choices: a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich. When Stan refuses to vote, saying he doesn't want to support either a turd or a douche, the town becomes outraged at his lack of understanding for our electoral process. Their parody of P. Diddy's Vote or Die! campaign was brilliant, their slaughter (literally) of PETA hilarious. People who don't watch the show will never admit it, but South Park remains the smartest comedy on television. If you missed it last night, please catch one of the repeats over the next few days.
Posted by Brian at 10:30 AM
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
The other day my mom, who is totally clueless about baseball, says, "Wouldn't it be the ultimate irony if Boston went up 3 games to none, only to lose the series?" Personally, I would love nothing more than that. And I'm hoping that tonight's lunar eclipse, which the Red Sox nation is taking as a sign that the curse will end, is more like a power-shift to St. Louis. I mean, the Cardinals are red too, aren't they? They have as much claim to a red moon than anyone...
Posted by Brian at 1:44 PM
Some quick birthday wishes today to Scott Weiland (37), Simon LeBon (46), Roberto Benigni (48), and John Cleese (65). Is it just me, or are people getting old way to quickly?
Posted by Brian at 10:41 AM
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Eminem will be calling in to premiere his new, highly-charged video on TRL today (at least 80% chance of it happening)... but if you don't want to wait (or, if you're normal and don't want to watch TRL), you can check it out here. The video is very well made, and it's a strong statement from Em... but between this today and having the Kerry daughters on yesterday, TRL is turning into a very political (and very Democratic) show.
Posted by Brian at 1:21 PM
Ashlee's Singing Is So Bad, She Makes Herself Throw-Up
So Ashlee Simpson's explanation for her SNL meltdown? Acid reflux (or "reflex," as she pronounced it when she called in to yesterday's TRL), which caused her to lose her voice hours before her scheduled performance. Yet even though she's "totally against [lip-synching] and offended by it" and would "never lip-synch," luckily she had a backing track ready to go. But don't worry, Ashlee fans... this is the first time she's ever used a backing track, and hopefully the last.
Yet isn't it amazing how often these mishaps happen the first time a celebrity does something wrong? Like when Sammy Sosa accidentally mixed up a corked bat he used in batting practice with his game bats and accidentally grabbed that one bat? Or when Hugh Grant was busted with a prostitute? Incredible timing, don't you think?
Posted by Brian at 10:22 AM
Monday, October 25, 2004
Watched the Party at the Palace DVD (to be honest, I skipped past about 50% of it) over the weekend, which was the 2002 Queen's Jubilee concert commemorating her 50 years on the throne. Some (albeit 2-years-late) thoughts:
- The UK sure has gone downhill in terms of its musical exports. Gone are the days of the Beatles, Stones, Bowie, Pink Floyd, and Zeppelin... the modern British acts who performed included Atomic Kitten, S Club 7, Will Young, and Blue, all of whom lacked any noticeable talent.
- Obviously I'm biased, being such a huge fan, but Brian Wilson really did steal the show. Surprisingly, he was given the longest set of the night: 4 songs, when artists such as Rod Stewart and Eric Clapton only got 1 (even Paul McCartney only played 3, 2 of which were giant group sing-alongs). Brian's voice was strong, his band was tight (even with intrusions by Emma Bunton, Atomic Kitten, and Cliff Richard during "Good Vibrations"), and after "California Girls" he displayed the biggest smile he's had since the 70's. Of course it vanished and his look of tremendous discomfort returned during the group finale of "Hey Jude" (he didn't even attempt to sing), but he nailed it when it mattered.
- Queen's set included a terrible plug for the musical We Will Rock You, when the cast stormed the stage for "Bohemian Rhapsody." Their costumes were a cross between Road Warrior and Fraggle Rock. It has the potential to be the worst theatrical show ever (and based on some posts from this thread, I'm not the only one who thinks so). We'll find out when it supposedly hits Broadway in the near future.
- My new celebrity crush is Andrea Corr. Sure, I've never heard a Corrs song before, and their cover of "The Long & Winding Road" for the concert wasn't great. But when she sings, her Irish accent bubbles to the surface in certain syllables, and... well, look at her.
- The song selection by many artists was quite bizarre. Besides the proliferation of covers by artists with vast catalogs (Annie Lennox doing "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves," the aforementioned Corrs, Rod Stewart doing "Handbags and Gladrags"), many of the songs seemed wildly inappropriate in a concert aimed at the Queen. Sure, Ray Davies singing "Lola" was fantastic, but does the Queen want to hear about transvestites? Or hear Tom Jones croon "Sex Bomb?"
- Dame Shirley Bassey's performance of "Goldfinger" played more like a Maya Rudolph parody than the actual thing.
- One of the more bizarre things one can see is Phil Collins wailing on drums during an Ozzy Osbourne performance of "Paranoid."
Friday, October 22, 2004
TRL Moment of the Week (Rehearsal)
For yesterday's stunt with Sarah Michelle Gellar, in which we tested how much of the language she picked up shooting a movie in Tokyo with a Japanese director and crew, we had Damien whisper questions to a Japanese translator, who then asked the question to SMG in Japanese. SMG had to answer in English, even if she had no idea what the question was (which she didn't for either one). During rehearsal, I asked for the translator's name, so I could write it on the cue card.
"Ben," the segment producer told me.
"Ben? That's not very Japanese," I said incredulously.
"Well you can use my Japanese name, if you want," came the irritated response from the translator himself, who had been standing right behind me the entire time.
"No, it's fine," I said, trying to play it cool.
But cool I am not.
Posted by Brian at 1:49 PM
2 Quick Links
1) Ever wonder what U2 would sound like if you swapped out Bono and substituted President Bush? Well, wonder no more... (and yes, I totally stole this from EW)
2) My oldest friend of all time (as in I've known him since we were 3, not that he's 90 years old) worked on this in L.A.'s Second City and got it posted on iFilm. Sort of funny, but I'm obligated to post it.
Posted by Brian at 11:20 AM
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Saw an advance screening of Coach Carter last night (spoiler alert!). Is there anything lower than a zero-star review I can give it? This movie trots out every cliché imaginable, then makes them worse. I can only imagine how the pitch meeting went…
Dumbass Exec: So what’s the movie about?
Dumbass Screenwriter: Have you seen Lean on Me? It’s basically the same exact movie, but instead of a principal, it’s about a basketball coach, and we've got Samuel L. Jackson instead of Morgan Freeman. Oh, and it’s much, much worse.*
DE: I’m listening…
DS: There’s this really rough, ghetto high school with a terrible basketball team that constantly fights with each other and their coach. So the coach recruits his friend, a former star player from that very high school, to take over and turn them into winners.
DE: But how do we get the audience to know this Carter guy used to be a star on the team?
DS: Easy. Even though they’re friends and see each other all the time, the first time they get together in the film the current coach will say, “Hey, Ken Carter, Richmond High All-Star basketball player 1972.”
DE: I like it! It sounds very subtle and natural.
DS: I thought so, too. That’s why I did the same thing to set up the problem with one of the players. He’s walking with a teammate, and the teammate points over to a girl and says, “Isn’t that your girl? And isn’t she pregnant?”
DE: I love it! Such realistic dialogue.
DS: I also make one of the players say “hella” a lot. I’m very down with the street lingo.
DE: Nice. So is the new coach successful?
DS: You better believe it. The team goes from 4-22 the previous year to undefeated. They never lose a game!
DE: Jeez, that Carter is a good coach. But it seems too easy.
DS: That’s where the catch comes in. He is actually more interested in making the players better students. So when they start failing their classes, he cancels basketball.
DS: Yes! Naturally the parents and townsfolk get upset and persuade the school board to overturn the lockout, causing Coach Carter to quit.
DE: No way! What happens next?
DS: As Carter goes to collect his stuff, he finds that the students are willingly studying instead of practicing because they want to do things the “Carter way,” and it moves him to come back.
DE: Wow, I never saw that coming.
DS: Then the movie ends by having the team play in the state championship tournament, against the team that destroyed them at the beginning of the film.
DE: And I take it they win and all live happily ever after?
DS: Wrong! They play an awesome game but lose on a last-second jump-shot by the other team’s star player.
DE: That’s so sad. I think I’m gonna cry.
DS: Don’t cry. Coach Carter gives a very inspirational speech to the team saying how proud he is, so even though they lost, they’re champs nonetheless.
DE: I've heard enough. I’m giving you millions and millions of dollars to make this movie. Go to it!
*Note: Even if it hadn't sucked, Coach Carter is automatically worse than Lean on Me because it doesn't start with GnR's "Welcome to the Jungle."
Posted by Brian at 10:40 AM
I'm too drained and annoyed to write anything coherent about the Yankees... all I'll say is that they didn't deserve to win, it's an embarrassment, and I hope the Astros (or the Cards, but preferably Houston) crush the Sox in the Series. The Curse deserves to live on.
Posted by Brian at 9:55 AM
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Cheers to Fox's NLCS coverage today... yes, their graphics department did in fact put up a graphic reading Pu-Holes in the Line-up to show how Albert Pujols has batted compared to the rest of the Cardinals. Pu-Holes! Come on!
Posted by Brian at 6:10 PM
Cheers to Fox's NLCS coverage today... yes, their graphics department did in fact put up a graphic reading Pu-Holes in the Line-up to show how Albert Pujols has batted compared to the rest of the Cardinals. Pu-Holes! Come on!
Posted by Brian at 6:10 PM
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Saw The Office Special at the Museum of TV & Radio last night. At almost two hours, it's a bit long. Yet it is a hilarious, touching, and fulfilling conclusion to the series... and yes, Ricky Gervais guaranteed that this is the end. His Q&A after the screening was extremely entertaining, and he seemed genuinely delighted to be speaking to his fans, at times becoming giddy in anticipation of telling a funny story. (One note: next time they should get a moderator who doesn't confuse Ricky with his fictional character, David Brent, during the interview). The crowd went nuts for him and the show, giving several roaring rounds of applause and two standing ovations. A show like The Office comes around so rarely, and I'm upset that there will be no more episodes, but I'll always have the DVD's and look forward to his next project, Extras.
Posted by Brian at 11:16 AM
Monday, October 18, 2004
How Many Things Can You Find Wrong With This?
Overheard a male intern saying this to a female intern:
"I had my date last night, and it was awesome! We were gonna go to the Olive Garden, but ended up at Chuck E. Cheese's."
Posted by Brian at 2:33 PM
I finally got a chance to watch the final Vote for Change concert that Sundance Channel televised live last Monday night. 5 1/2 hours of Bruce Springsteen, Jurassic 5, DMB, R.E.M, James Taylor, and more (DVR's power to let me fast-forward through most of the crap was a godsend). However, watching Pearl Jam's set really made me question whether it's the smartest move to push these people to the polls. Eddie Vedder made a speech about how everyone is saying America will start anew on November 3rd, but with all the talk about November 3rd, he wanted to make sure that people don't think they should go out to vote on November 3rd. So he asked the audience what day they should vote and held 2 fingers in the air (a delightful double-entendre to vote on the 2nd and vote for peace). Then the producers cut to a camera shooting the show from the upper levels of the arena, where some clueless schmuck sitting directly below the camera held up 3 fingers directly into the lens, completely oblivious to what Eddie had been saying.
And these are the people who should be persuaded to vote?
Posted by Brian at 9:53 AM
Friday, October 15, 2004
TRL Moment of the Week
On Tuesday, Mark Wahlberg was in the studio, in the middle of answering a fan question about what movie he most regrets doing. Suddenly a girl in the audience shrieks out, "I love you, Mark!" and makes a mad-dash for the stage. Slipping past the stage manager, she grabs Mark by his waste and holds him in a bear hug that four security guards can't break. VJ Vanessa takes us to commercial, and eventually security pries the girl off of Mark and arrests her. We take Mark backstage, asking if he's alright. He says he's fine, although the girl was latched onto his nuts, and he's just upset that he didn't get to answer the fan's question. He then says, "Well, at least now I have another episode of Entourage." When we return from break, he comes back out, graciously finishes answering the question, and says good-bye. We later discover that the crazy fan had smuggled the head of a Chucky doll in under her skirt and was petting its hair while being questioned by the police. I think this leads to the end of my suggestion to bring Chucky on the show to promote Seed of Chucky.
P.S. Upon looking at the slow-motion replay after the show, when Vanessa spots the fan rumbling towards Mark, she mouths "Oh, shit!" and ducks behind Mark, using him as a human shield. Way to protect the talent, Vanessa!
Posted by Brian at 2:29 PM
OMG! I was on a downtown 2 train this morning, totally minding my own business, when, like, I noticed this ad for the Learning Annex Real Estate Wealth Expo. Apparently I can totally make so much money I can fire Donald Trump. Seriously! He says so himself in the ad. Can you imagine making that much money just by going to a weekend seminar? That's, like, so cool! Cause Trump is really rich and powerful... so to be able to fire him, I'd have to be, like, twice as rich and powerful as he is. I'm so stoked right now!
Posted by Brian at 11:38 AM
Thursday, October 14, 2004
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
I Missed the Yanks Pounding Schilling, But Check Out My SMiLE...
I take it back. I take it all back. Anything disparaging, negative, or even questioning that I wrote in my review of the SMiLE album was wrong. I just couldn't realize it until I heard the album live, which I did last night at sold-out Carnegie Hall. Brian's voice? As strong as I've heard it in ages. The fact that he jumps between melodies too often? On the album it sometimes sounds spliced together and overbaked, but performed live I wouldn't change a note. It's impossible to explain in words how this sounds without doing it justice... one simply has to see and hear it for themselves.
For the concert in general, it came as no surprise that the band was practically flawless. The show started with Brian surrounded by the 10 members of his backing band, doing a 9-song a capella / acoustic set including "Surfer Girl," "Wendy," and "Please Let Me Wonder." When they picked up their instruments and launched into "Sloop John B.," I got goosebumps. Another dozen songs followed, featuring tracks from his most recent solo album interspersed with late Beach Boys works like "Sail On, Sailor" and "Forever." After a brief intermission, the band (and an 8-piece string section) played SMiLE with such clarity and precision, it boggles the mind. I can't even begin to count how many different instruments (or objects such as drills and saws) were employed to create a sound I once thought impossible to achieve outside a studio. After SMiLE, the band returned for a party set of 7 classic Beach Boys tunes such as "I Get Around" and "Help Me Rhonda," and finished off the night with his closer, "Love & Mercy."
2 1/2 hours, almost 50 songs, a crowd hanging on every note and inundating Brian and the band with standing ovations... it's truly a night I (and I hope Tommy) will never forget.
Posted by Brian at 10:24 AM
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
On a serious note, I want to say some goodbyes, first and foremost to my Great-Aunt Lola. I didn't know her very well, but the times that I spent with her are fond memories. She was very old and decided to stop taking her medication because she felt she had nothing else to live for... so I'm glad that she's happier now and relieved that her passing was relatively quick and painless.
Also goodbye to Janet Leigh, Christopher Reeve, Rodney Dangerfield, and Ken Caminiti. They were all special in their own way and will all be missed.
Posted by Brian at 2:11 PM
Monday, October 11, 2004
An Open Letter to Tilly & the Wall:
Dear Tilly Gang,
It's me, Brian... you know, Tommy's friend who writes for TRL. I just wanted to say how great your concert at Bowery was. To be fair, until Friday night I had only heard your cover of "Hey Ya." But Tommy is a huge fan, and he generally has great taste in music, so I trusted his judgment... and am very glad I did. You write songs that are at once amazingly catchy and lyrically stunning, and it took me less than 24 hours from the end of your set to order your album. It was also "rad" (as you would say) to hang out with you and get to know you after the show. You are so gracious to your fans, and not just to Tommy and his friends, but to anyone who approached you. I'll look back on the night with fond memories, especially since Tommy was smart enough to bring his camera, and if there's anything I can do to get your video played on MTV, you know I'll try. Best of luck on the rest of your tour, and I hope to see you the next time you come to NYC.
P.S. When you talk to Rilo Kiley, tell them that their set was also phenomenal.
Posted by Brian at 2:20 PM
At long last, I’ve had an opportunity to listen to Brian Wilson’s SMiLE (as opposed to the Beach Boys’ Smile), laying in bed with the lights out and the stereo cranking to give me a full sensory experience. And I can now say that the album is incredible. Given the cookie-cutter music mass-produced these days, you can’t help but appreciate an album that takes such risks and uses everything from accordions to xylophones. It’s not the greatest album of all time, and it has its problems, but despite its shortcomings, SMiLE is undeniably beautiful.
The album stars with “Our Prayer/Gee,” which has the tightest harmonizing on a mainstream record since, well, probably since “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” (which you must listen to the a capella version from the Pet Sounds box set to fully appreciate). It’s a gorgeous 2 minute introduction to the talent that listeners will be exposed to over the next 45. From there you’re launched into “Heroes and Villains,” complete with the legendary Cantina section. “Roll Plymouth Rock” keeps many of the same musical themes of “Heroes,” and to a lesser extent so do “Barnyard,” “Old Master Painter/You Are My Sunshine,” and “Cabin Essence,” which comprise the first movement (SMiLE is broken up into 3 movements). Wilson’s transposition of “You Are My Sunshine” into a minor key is ingenious, and would be even more effective had it not been usurped by The Simpsons (in the episode where Bart and Lisa go to military school).
The second movement is the weakest, made up of “Wonderful,” “Song for Children,” “Child Is Father of the Man,” and “Surf’s Up.” The songs in this section display the album’s biggest weakness: despite terrific harmonies and instrumentation, Wilson cannot maintain a single melody for more than 30-45 seconds… that is, until the genius “Surf’s Up,” which has long been considered one of his finest compositions.
The third movement has the worst introduction, “I’m in Great Shape/I Wanna Be Around/Workshop," but quickly picks up steam. “Vege-Tables” is sublimely surreal, “Wind Chimes” begins gently before launching into a frenzied instrumental variation on “Heroes and Villains,” and the start of “In Blue Heaven” really highlights the power of his backing band, the Wondermints, as vocalists. The album concludes with “Good Vibrations,” which is so embedded into musical history that very little can be said about it except to note that it is longer and has different lyrics.
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that the album has problems. I touched on the biggest, which is the freneticness of the album in jumping among different melodies too frequently, particularly during the second movement. I can also agree with Mike Love that the lyrics make very little sense to me, but given the sound of the album, I am willing to overlook them. Another problem is with Wilson’s vocals. True, he sounds better here than he has on the other studio and live albums he’s released over the past decade, but his voice is still a far cry from his baritone and soaring falsetto of the 60’s. He is fine blending with other musicians, but when forced to sing lead, his vocals are rather rough when they should be soothing. Finally, and this may not be a criticism that everyone agrees with, but it is very disconcerting to hear differences in music and lyrics after hearing the original versions thousands of times. “Good Vibrations” in particular is vastly altered; when you expect to hear “And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair,” but instead hear “And she’s already workin’ on my brain,” you are taken out of the moment. I may get used to these changes in time, but probably not.
All in all, I’m a big fan of the album, and recommend it to everyone, whether you’re a fan of the Beach Boys or not. I also cannot wait until tomorrow night, because I cannot fathom how this album can be recreated live. But I'll find out soon enough.
Posted by Brian at 11:15 AM
Friday, October 08, 2004
Yes, I Watch Way Too Much TV
2 notes on last night (beware spoilers!):
1) On Survivor: Vanatu, the prize for the women after the reward challenge was the services of island local, Dah. He spent 24 hours with the women, teaching them where to find food, how to improve their living quarters, etc. I can just imagine the negotiations with the tribe to convince Dah to go into a day of indentured servitude:
Tribe (in broken English): We sick. Need medicine.
Producers: Medicine, huh? Oh, we can give you medicine... but it'll cost you.
Tribe: Children dying. We do anything.
Producers: Anything, huh?
2) On The Apprentice, after Pamela is forced to leave the male team to become project manager of the females, she defends her bossy, bitchy attitude by saying, "I'm a competitor first and a woman second." No, actually she's a lot of other things before she's a woman... including a man.
*And was I the only one cracking up during the footage of her shooting hoops? She missed all four shots... and two of them were easy put-ins! Maybe she should spend more time on her game and less time doing single arm rows with 80 pound dumbells... and she'll have time to do that now that she's been fired.
Posted by Brian at 2:25 PM
Thursday, October 07, 2004
Say it isn't so... VH1 Classic is starting to show real commercials (as opposed to just VH1 promos), most prominently terrible ads for E-Harmony. I don't know why I'm linking to it... I think everyone should boycott the site... it's taking up precious airtime that could be filled by Genesis' "Land of Confusion."
Posted by Brian at 1:34 PM
Saw an advance, unfinished screening of Team America: World Police last night. I had very high expectations for it, being a huge fan of the South Park series and an even bigger fan of the movie... and the movie has about as many good jokes as a typical episode of South Park (which is good), although it's spread out over 90 minutes instead of 30 (which is bad). Without revealing too much, it has a great parody of Rent, a hilarious song making fun of Pearl Harbor and Michael Bay, and a vomit scene that rivals the one in Stand By Me as the best ever put on celluloid. It also directly lifts the "Montage" song from the "Asspen" episode of South Park, and while that's one of the best songs they've ever written, it's a little disappointing that they recycled material (maybe it will be changed by the time the movie hits theaters, but I doubt it). But aside from the humor, the technical aspect of the movie is simply mind-boggling... it's incredible what they accomplished with marionettes. Not sure if it's worth $10 (or $10.25 that some theaters are now charging), but if you live somewhere outside of Manhattan that only charges $6-7, then go for it.
Posted by Brian at 10:51 AM
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Rejected introductions for today's guest, Bethany Hamilton:
- She can surf, she can write, just don't ask her to clap...
- When her friends call her "chum," they really mean it...
- Everything about this girl is "hang ten," except for her fingers...
- Give her a hand... no, seriously...
Also, rejected entrance music (although it would've been appropriate on several levels): Def Leppard, "Love Bites."
(think about it... think about it... think about it... there it is!)
Posted by Brian at 11:59 AM
Duff Crush Curse Strikes Again
My co-worker Shawn, who was Hilary Duff's segment producer yesterday, told me after the show that he now has "the biggest crush on her." Yes, I'm familiar with this syndrome, and as low as he feels right now, fear not: it shall pass. I don't know what song she'll have to butcher in concert for him to change his mind... All You Need Is Fun? (I Can Get Some) Satisfaction? Bridge Over Tranquil Water? Only time will tell...
Posted by Brian at 10:31 AM
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Jimmy Fallon really is unbelievable. Not only could he never get through a sketch on Saturday Night Live without laughing, yesterday he couldn't even get through our cold open with Good Charlotte. He cracked up during his second line, ran off-screen, then popped back in at the end of the skit to improv a line while still laughing. Here's hoping he jumped onto the Joe Piscopo / Victoria Jackson / Tony Rosato / Gary Kroeger train out of SNL's station, never to be heard from again.
Posted by Brian at 10:33 AM
Monday, October 04, 2004
Thirsty Like the Wolf
From the opening paragraph of a profile on Duran Duran in Sunday's New York Times Arts & Leisure section:
THERE are things you don't forget about being a rock star. Sequestered for an interview in a private chamber at a posh hotel in downtown Manhattan, Simon LeBon motions for an assistant to come over. Pointing to his sparkling water, he says, with practiced derision: "They made the ice with tap water - I can taste the chlorine in it. Can you bring me another?"
I can't wait for the day when I can get away with saying something like that.
Posted by Brian at 10:50 AM
The Agony of Defeat
It's the end of the regular season in Major League Baseball, so this morning I checked my MTV fantasy baseball league to find that I came in 2nd place, 166-164.5. After 188 days, in a league with 14 teams and 16 categories, and a grand total of 1680 points alloted, I lost by 1.5 friggin' points! This was after an insane comeback in which I had gained 30 points in less than a month. This pill is hard to swallow.
Posted by Brian at 9:56 AM
Friday, October 01, 2004
TRL Moment of the Week (On-screen)
Ladder 49's John Travolta, being put through The Wringer, is asked to do his best impression of a fire engine siren. He responds by going (very loudly), "WOOOOOOOOOOONK WOOOOOOOOOOONK!!!!!"
TRL Moment of the Week (Backstage)
Ladder 49's Joaquin Phoenix shows up wearing a t-shirt bearing the photo of Johnny Cash giving the finger. His sweatshirt is unzipped enough to clearly show the photo. The segment producer assigned to him politely asks him to zip up... he says no. She says that if he doesn't zip up, he can't go on... he says no. She asks again, more firmly... he says that if he zips it up, he'll just unzip it once he's onstage. We send John Travolta on without him as Joaquin's rep from MTV Talent tries to convince him to zip up. He asks if it's okay if he zips up the shirt but then gives the finger himself... the talent rep says no. After it becomes clear that we're doing the segment with just John, Jay Russell (the director of the film) tells Joaquin to stop messing around, and Joaquin finally zips up and goes onstage. After 3 questions and a brief discussion about on-set pranks in which he contributes nothing, he leaves.
Worst... Guest... Ever.
Posted by Brian at 10:57 AM
Thursday, September 30, 2004
Last month when I was moving, I came across this letter that I stole my first day working at Troma:
November 23, 2001
To Whom It May Concern:
Greetings from Tromaville and Happy Ramadan!
Congratulations on kicking out the Taliban and once again letting the fertile flowers of art bloom once again in your country. We are delighted to hear that your movie theater has re-opened for business in Afghanistan. In the spirit of freedom and independence, we would like to be the first American film studio to offer you our fine entertainment for your theater. Troma Entertainment has been making independent movies for nearly 30 years. Our studio is America's oldest independent film studio.
Please find enclosed a complete catalogue of Troma's 900+ movies. Our library of films now includes the Roan Archive, a collection of classic Hollywood films. We have included in this shipment DVD samples of Troma's Roan Archive and our regular catalogue, including:
1) Happy Go Lovely: a great big musical rainbow of love and laughs!
2) Angel & the Badman: starring the greatest American Cowboy, John Wayne.
3) The Three Musketeers: one of the greatest classic films of our time, John Wayne and his co-stars struggle to survive in the deserts of Araby.
4) Ghost Ship: an action-packed family film about a lost treasure in the desert with camels.
5) The Toxic Avenger: starring the original Troma superhero, TOXIE!
If you would like additional information about booking any of our films at your theater, please feel free to contact us by phone, fax, or visit our website: www. troma.com.
Very Truly Yours,
TROMA ENTERTAINMENT, INC.
By: Lloyd Kaufman, President
I should've quit then and there, but instead wasted 11 months of my life at that insane-asylum-posing-as-a-film-studio.
Oh, and obviously we received no reply.
Posted by Brian at 10:44 AM