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Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I blame myself.

I knew this would be a hot mess when the ads came out last fall.

But, it looked like the kind of train wreck that would be fun to watch. Xtina & Cher in the gayest movie of 2010? COME ON!

So, in theory, a fun campy 2 hours.

You know how Communism is supposed to work in theory?

The movie is essentially a toned down, PG-13 version of "Showgirls," which is a mistake. "Showgirls" was "All About Eve" reimagined by leering pervert lunatics. It was terrible, but it was a hoot and it had a shit ton of nudity. (And it's even more of a hoot when you watch it on basic cable and all the boobs are covered with bad CGI black bra tops.) If you tone down the nudity and the insanity, all you have left are the bad showbiz cliches and the terrible dialogue.

The music? Ugh. The first big number (Burlesque) is a straight up rip off of Cabaret, right down to the staging, only lacking all the wit & verve. It's like Kander & Ebb ate a bad Kurt Weill taco and then sprayed all over the sheet music.  It is unfathomable that anyone - no matter far up in the sticks they're from - would be wowed by that sorry dance number that Cher & company limp through. Really, the dust town Xtina's from doesn't get MTV? You've never seen a Pussycat Dolls video?

If she moves too fast, something might fall off...

And then the burlesque "star" butchers her way through "Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend." Apparently, Xtina has never seen a movie of any kind or heard anyone sing because it just blows her away.

Moulin Rouge? Never heard of it.

Watching Cher these days, it has to rank as one of the all time great cons that she won an Oscar. As she slurs her way through awful lines like "Don't call me Ma'am," you get the feeling that Glenn Close and Holly Hunter may want to ask for a recount.  (Also, there is the unintentional hilarity of having Cher sing a song called "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" in almost complete darkness. Spackle only hides so much.)

I deserved that Oscar, you crazy bitch!

The rest of the film starts to blur together. For god's sake - Wagon Wheel Watusi? That's a dance number that should be on the Roy Rogers show. And I know this is the gayest movie of the year, but to have Madonna songs and an actual glitter gun? And Alan Cuming? Can't you let him actually sing? He won a Tony! Please let him have more dignity than playing a camp parody of the MC from Cabaret in one and a half scenes. 

The greatest sin of this movie is that it is dull. Not even the musical numbers can get into the level of insanity needed to make this watchable. It just ends up a muddle of showbiz cliches and Xtina pouting. It's can't even muster up the energy to be bad. 

(If you would like even more Burlesque-bashing, give a listen to Paul Scheer's How Did This Get Made Podcast on the subject. The podcast series in general is great fun for bad movie afficionados.)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Stupid Hammer Jokes

A short play in three acts.

At the afternoon matinee of Thor at the Cross County Multiplex

ME: Get ready for a whole lot of hammer jokes!
MY LOVELY WIFE: Oh god, is it too late to go see Pirates of the Caribbean instead? I don't know what I was thinking, Thor and his big hammer. And you and your-
ME: (Under my breath) The Hammer is my Penis. (Checking movie schedule) Yep! Pirates already started!
MLW: Urg. You know if that last Pirate movie had made just a little more sense-

Two hours later.

MLW: That was fun. And you didn't take out your hammer , which considering
there were only three of us in the theater was showing a lot of restraint.
ME: He sure knew how to handle his hammer!
MLW: Stop it.
ME: Are you worthy enough to handle the hammer of Thor?
MLW: I'm going to hit you. It won't do any good- you like the rough stuff.
But by the power of greyskull , I'm going to hit you, wait wrong movie.
ME: It is the source of my power.
ME: Really. Stop. Now.

Later that evening.

ME: Are you ready for Hammertime?
MLW: Oh, Please, Hammer don't hurt him-I swear on the Mighty All Father, if you make one more hammer joke...
ME: My hammer will grant you the power of Thor...
(Sound of punching)
ME: Ow!
MLW: The next time I use a real hammer.
Me: The hammer is my penis , remember?

I blame Joss Whedon.

It's still funny, even after a thousand times.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cooking Shows that Have Crappy Food

I like food shows. If you know me, you know I like food in general. I married a wonderful cook and we both enjoy the output of the food network. We both think Iron Chef jumped the shark when they started dubbing The Chairman instead of just subtitling him. It added so much mystery!

I went as the Chairman one year for Halloween. I had to explain it soooo many times..."No, I'm not Elton John."

And it's not just the modern cable cooking shows that I have enjoyed. I used to watch the Urban Peasant on CBC in the '90's. He taught me the secret to drying lettuce. Put your lettuce in a towel, grab all four corners, and windmill your arm. Voila! Dry lettuce! (Of course, you would think a math major would realize that the water just did not evaporate and it had to go somewhere. Mom was not thrilled when I demonstrated this in the kitchen.) And the Julia Child & Jacques Pepin reruns were always a treat.

Water on the floor? That's what the PAs are for!

The idea, embodied in almost every cooking show, is this: Cooking is not alchemy. It is fun and easy. You don't have to settle for Chef Boyardee. You don't have to live in Paris or Rome. You can cook delicious, wonderful food. Look, it's easy! Julia Child didn't have a food processor, and she could cook 18 course meals in an hour!

Of course, it's not as easy as the cooking shows make it look. You don't have a magic oven in your house that has precooked the meal before the show. And, sorry Julia, I'm not deboning a duck anytime soon.

Still, even if you can't always make delicious, wonderful homemade meals, you could at least watch the food porn while you ate your Domino's pizza.

So, it's a little disheartening that Food Network is turning more and more to what my wife calls "mess-ipies."

You mix the beat like you mix the food, I'm guessing. 

Nothing against comfort foods, or bar food, or fast food. God knows they all serve a purpose. But why are you dedicating so much of your programming time on how to make crap? Where is the art?

Look, I don't need people to tell me how to make a grilled cheese. You can make one with a hot iron. 30 Minute Meals sounds like a great concept, until you get to the actual recipies.


  • 8 slices bacon


Place 2 sheets of paper towel on a microwave safe plate, lay the bacon out on the paper towel not overlapping the slices. Place 2 more sheets of paper towel on top. Place in the microwave on high for 4 to 6 minutes.
That's a recipie for Late Night Bacon. And that is the whole recipe. If, to paraphrase Ben Franklin, bacon is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy, then microwave bacon is proof of the existence of the anti-christ. It is flat out terrible. It's not hard to cook bacon. Take fry pan. Add bacon. Fry till it reaches desired crispiness. How can a person become a multimillionaire by telling us to save a precious minute of our time by nuking bacon?

Or how about the Mac & Cheese Dog Casserole? Basically an upscale version of the recipie a five year old thinks up. "Mommy, can we put some hot dogs in the Kraft Mac & Cheese?"

But it's hard to beat "Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee" for pure crapitude. You can find plenty of web hate for this perky chef, but for pure smackdown you have to turn to Anthony Bourdain:
Pure evil. This frightening Hell Spawn of Kathie Lee and Betty Crocker seems on a mission to kill her fans, one meal at a time. She Must Be Stopped. Her death-dealing can-opening ways will cut a swath of destruction through the world if not contained. I would likely be arrested if I suggested on television that any children watching should promptly go to a wooded area with a gun and harm themselves. What’s the difference between that and Sandra suggesting we fill our mouths with Ritz Crackers, jam a can of Cheez Wiz in after and press hard? None that I can see.
Or you can turn to some of the reactions to her recipes:
On Sandra’s Halibut Tacos with Fish Salsa
“I must admit I would never have thought of serving fish with allspice and taco seasoning and salsa and cole slaw and peaches. But there’s a good reason for that: this is disgusting.” -Anonymous
On Sandra’s Stained Glass Wreath Cookies
“Give me a break. This is not Sandra Lee’s anything. This has been done for years and years. It shouldn’t be one of Food Networks 12 featured holiday cookie recipes. It’s not a cookie recipe, it’s a chilcren’s craft project. Anyone who jams a piece of candy onto a pre-made cookie dough and puts it in the oven does not get to say they baked a new recipe. I can promise you that Sandra Lee isn’t decorating her tree with these or allowing her chefs, caterers or whoever actually prepares food in her house to serve them to any of her guests.” -Shel
On Sandra’s Grilled Trout Ciabatta
“It didn’t even taste right. the combination of the ingredients were a really bad idea. I’m sorry but that was like the worse thing i have ever eaten! I can never eat trout again!” -Anonymous
On Sandra’s No-Bake Fruit and Cheesecake Parfaits
“Me and my kids made this desert this afternoon and it was a mess. Nothing set and it smelled so bad my daughter got the dry heaves. I didn’t have no melk to make this desert, so I used powdered instead and that made it even worse. This is not a good recipe for poor people. ” -Anonymous
Okay, the last one is probably stupidity and the messipe. It's probably the dry milk that gave ANYONE dry heaves- not good to use in anything.
It's likely that her influence will only grow. Sandra Lee is now the Semi-First Lady of New York, being the longtime girlfriend of Governor Anthony Cuomo. I can hardly wait for the Semi-Homemade School Lunch program she could design!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Adam Sandler

Once upon a time there was a brash young SNL performer, who could play guitar and sang funny songs. So successful was he, he became a template.

Sorry, I'm just too sick of the Haunnukah Song to link to it.

The same way John Belushi begat Chris Farley, who begat Horatio Sanz and ensured there had to be a funny fat guy on SNL, Adam Sandler made it so there had to be a goofy guy who could sing. Jimmy Fallon's first appearance on SNL had him singing songs as a guest on Weekend Update. You don't get Andy Samberg doing "Dick in a Box" if Sandler hadn't started that path.

Now, I am not a reflexive Sandler-basher. I like some of his movies. If he has a strong director - like Judd Apatow, James Brooks, or PT Anderson - he can be a very moving performer. If I come across The Wedding Singer or 50 First Dates on one of cable channels that seems to play it on a loop, I have to watch a little of it.

But, dear Odin....

It's funny, 'cause he has to lie to fuck the bikini model!

It's funny, 'cause they all pee in public!

And because bandwidth costs money, I'll stop with two.

I know. I know the Idiot Manchild With a Heart of Gold scripts write themselves. I know they make $100-$120 million per picture. But, really? Rock, James, and Sandler are all funny people and you have them pissing in a water park pool? You're making Jennifer Aniston play a shrewy ex so we can all make jokes about her and leer at Brooklyn Decker? (PS: I have a cable modem. I can leer at Brooklyn Decker whenever I want and not pay $13 to do so.) (UPDATE: My wife says no, I can't.)

Sandler has a loyal audience, so long as he keeps doing the farts & boobs humor. I know it's a lot to ask your average frat boy to go and see Punch Drunk Love, but maybe he could push a little for something smarter? Is it really so much to ask that Sandler shoot for the level of The Hangover or Bridemaids?

Even some of his dumb comedies are interesting. Little Nicky had a very unique take on the afterlife and one of Rodney Dangerfield's last roles. You Don't Mess With Zohan actually had some interesting things to say about the Middle East.

But no. These were not as popular as Big Daddy or Mr. Deeds or any of the other idiot manchild learns to grow up movies.

So, will Adam Sandler continue to make the easy choice? Or will he try and challenge his fans to grow up along with his characters?

Take a guess.