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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Why Revolutions Happen

You know who has it rough? I mean really rough? I mean, oh my god you would not believe the trials and tribulations this poor group of put upon, hated, misunderstood people have to endure.

The poor bankers of Wall Street who didn't get their bonuses this year.

I mean, can you imagine the hardship? Like the article said, they had to go to Fairway! In Brooklyn!!

Never mind that Fairway is one of the best grocery stores in New York City and my cheese blogger friend insists on going to visit their cheese counter when she comes to town. There is a principle involved! How can you adjust to bargain basement smoked salmon when you are used to Nova being hand delivered to your door by an authentic fisherman in a wool cap who says "Arrr?" I mean, really!

And they can barely afford to keep their kids in Connecticut private schools! Don't even mention public schools! Some things are too gauche!

I think we need some background music:

Do you wonder why Occupy Wall Street happened? Do you wonder why Republican image guru Frank Luntz instructed his clients not to use the word "capitalism?" Because of clueless dimwits like these, people who honestly think they are suffering earning "only" $350K a year. (The same way that Mitt Romney "only" made $374K from speaking engagements which, according to him, was "not very much.")

This American Life had a story about some of these guys awhile back, Wall Street guys who honestly think Obama is trying to destroy capitalism, despite propping them up with a few trillion dollars. The reporter was genuinely speechless that the young Patrick Batemans didn't think they should say thanks to the taxpayers for bailing them out. Didn't even cross their minds. That was just the cost of doing business with them.

The name of that episode? Crybabies.

It's hard to imagine even Marie Antoinette acting as cavalierly. "Let them eat $5.99/lb lox? That sounds a little out of touch."

It's hard to tell whether the Bloomberg reporter is seriously reporting on this subject or if he has his tongue in cheek. Gawker takes the latter view, saying his beat is to give the rich their lengths of hangman's rope. I sincerely hope so, but New York papers for the well to do have often written about poor rich people.

There was a brief movie trend in the early '90's (okay, there were two movies) where rich assholes were forced to live in poverty for a month and therefore learn that money isn't everything and become better people. Both movies bombed horribly, but they have given me an idea.

How about a reality show, where we take these banksters and make them live like regular middle class earners for a few months? Watch them clip coupons! Take the subway! It'll be gripping!

Then - and here's the fun part for the viewer - we don't give them back their money! Heck, we don't even have to turn on the cameras! Just tell them them they're on a TV show. We can pay a film student to follow them around with empty cameras just for show.

And then we can leave them in their Henry Hill lives - ordering egg noodles with ketchup.

And we'll keep the tip money.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscar Live Blog, Continued!

Two hours in, time for a new thread.

9:52 Yay Melissa McCarthy! Go steal Octavia's Oscar!

9:53 Best Visual Effect is NOT Emma Stone's dress.

9:54: Real Steel deserves to win. Why? They built REAL FIGHTING ROBOTS! How awesome is that! It was not all CGI!

9:55 Emma, you're cute. Stop being meta.

9:56 I mean, don't you want a real fighting robot? Honey, I want one for my birthday!

9:56 Probably be Planet of the Apes. If Transformers wins, I'll key an Autobot.

9:57 Hugo! Can anyone stop the Hugo juggernaut? And the steampunk thing looked very cool.

9:58 Best Supporting Actor! Best Supporting Actor: Chris Plummer deserved some kind of award for keeping a straight face during Sound  of Music. He’ll probably get one here for playing an older gay man. That’s like Oscar bingo!

9:59 It's Plummer! They didn't even have time to get the people up on the screen before he was announced. I have heard stories from people who have worked with him that he is a terrible lech. Don't grope Melissa! She'll cut you!

10:01 Another standing O! And his speech is charming and funny. If the director cuts him off I will send an off key children's choir over to his house to sing Lonely Goatherd for six hours.

10:07 Again, rather than comment on Billy's string of groaners, I will close my eyes and sing Journey songs.

10:08 I WILL LOVE YOU...(Still going?)  FAITHFULLY!

10:09 Nolte looks like a drunken Santa Claus.

10:10 Couldn't we have gotten Uggie to host? It would be funnier.

10:11 Really, two hours to go?

10:12 Penelope Cruz looks stunning! Owen Wilson looks like he rolled out of a hammock.

10:13 Best Score: Is this where the Artist starts its run?

10:14 It is! Better alert the rape crisis center. Kim Novak will be giving you a call.

10:16 It's the token wacky presenter bit! Will Ferrell is always fun.

10:17 Best Song! Muppets better god damn win or I will personally kill those stupid birds from Rio.

10:18 Yay! Making up for the slight they gave Rainbow Connection all those years ago. Now half of Flight of the Conchords has an Oscar! Rub it in Jermaine Clement's face, Brett!

10:25 Angelina Jolie presents adapted screenplay! Moneyball was amazing in that it managed to make a book about calculating batting averages into fascinating movie. Still, I'd be happy if Descendants won, since Dean Pelton from Community is nominated. 

10:27 Descendants! Now we HAVE to bring back Community, if only so Jim Rash can use it as a prop in the Dean's office, and Joel McHale and Danny Pudi can make jokes about how Moneyball was better. 

10:28 Seriously NBC, bring back Community.

10:29 I so want Bridesmaids, but it's going to be Woody Allen

10:30 Woody! Come on man, your clarinet gig is Monday nights. Come and pick up the Oscar!

But really, original screenplay? Woody Allen complains about the philistines who don’t understand his art and how culture used to be better. Yes, this is fresh new ground for him. Although, I’ll give him the “things used to be better part.” Like back when you made films like Bullets over Broadway, Annie Hall, and Bananas.

10:35 The Bridesmaids! What award will they get stuck with? Oh they're making dick jokes. Time for the short films!

10:39 These are the pool breakers, here. No one knows any of these. No one has seen any. Are there any Holocaust movies? If not your guess is as good as mine. 

10:40 The Shore wins. Yay? Who knows. It's a great moment for the film makers and he says a nice thing about his fiance.

10:42 Documentary Short. I know nothing about these movies except they often have AWESOME acceptance speeches. Google "King Gimp" or look up the acceptance speech fight the producers of "Music by Prudence" had a few years back. That is some fun right there.

10:43 Saving Face. Sure, why not?

10:44 Animated Short! La Luna looks cute in the clips. 

10:45 The Fantastic Flying Books Of Morris Lesmore! Sounds like an old Troy McClure joke title. 

10:50 Occupy Wall Street jokes. Blargh. Can we occupy Billy's writer room until they get better jokes?

10:51 Best Director! Here's where it comes down to Hugo or Artist. If Michel French Last name wins, it's the Artist for best picture. If Marty wins his second Oscar, Hugo will get it. Splits between best director and best picture are rare, last happening in 2005. 

10:52: Michel! The Artist is going to get Best Picture.

10:54 Am I crazy or is this going to end by 11:30 PM? We got best picture and the two acting awards and the Faces of Death montage, right?

10:55 Meryl Streep! A word anout her 17 nominations. She has 17 nominations because most years the Academy is trying to find five roles worthy of nominating and Meryl’s a safe bet to round out the category. Can you think of any other reason she was nominated for her role as an inner city violin teacher in Wes Craven’s (!) Music of my Heart? Now, if she had taught Freddy Kreuger how to play fiddle…

10:56 Why the fuck does Oprah get an honorary Oscar??? She's been in two movies! But, at least Darth Vader has won an Oscar. (No, not Hayden Christiansen. I'm going to punch anyone who thought that.)

11:00 My Lovely Wife just texted me that someone blew his nose into his hand and then wiped it on her hotel door. I guess he was pissed about Oprah getting an Oscar, too!

11:03 Faces of Death! Not to harp on this, but the two oscar producers Billy just eulogized both got more time than Farrah Fawcett did.

11:05 Of course Whitney has to be here. They put Michael Jackson in on the strength of Captain EO.

11:06 Steve Jobs? I know he was an original Pixar investor, but is that even the tenth thing you think about when you hear Steve Jobs' name? 

11:10 Ashley Judd is not CIA! She is a mother looking for her son!!! Pass.

11:12 Another montage. Hey, did you hear? Movies are magical! You know what the last film I saw was? Ghost Rider. Feel the magic.

11:13 Best Actor! I really liked Brad Pitt in Moneyball, but most Oscar pundits think this is a two way race between Jean Dujardin and George Clooney. Poor Brad Pitt! He gets no respect! He’ll cry himself to sleep on his bed made out of money while spooning Angelina Jolie. Life is so unfair.

11:14 I really hate this style of presentation, where the presenter talks directly to the nominee and tells him how brave and great he was in the role. What are they going to say? "Hey George. Pretty good. Not your best work though."

11:15 Dujardin! Wow, that's a minor surprise! Unfortunately, his Oscar speech does not come close to Roberto Begnini's insanity when he won for Life is Beautiful. "I love your country!" is a good line, though.

11:24 Best Actress time, presented by Colin Firth. I have yet to see King's Speech. I am sure it's good but it just seemed like it was thought up by the Oscar-Tron 2000 awards generator. Based on True Events! Period Film! Royalty! British Accents! World War II! Jackpot!

11:25 The pundits agree this is all sewn up for Viola Davis. Meryl will win oscar number 3 someday.

11:27 "Meryl... Mamma Mia!" I was wrong. They could say something decent in this presentation style. 

11:29 The winner is... Meryl! Well that is a surprise! 

11:30 Not going to lie. I was ready to hit send on "The winner is Viola Davis." 

11:31 I guess that argument her agents used worked. "You realize it's been 30 years since she won her last one, right?" Too bad every review of this movie has said that she is a great performance trapped in a horrible movie. 

11:32 I guess that means we should get ready for Best Picture Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

11:33 Best Picture thoughts:

The Help: White girls end racism! I didn’t hear a thank you, black America!

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: I’ll steal a line from Deadspin: “Wasn't 9/11 so cute, you guys? I'll never forget that day, because 2,500 died and then I got to go on a TREASURE HUNT!” Yeah, no.

War Horse: I can’t think of a Spielberg film I have ever wanted to see less. And I even  liked Always.

Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen does the Woody Allen thing.

Descendants: Clooney’s wife is in a coma. I got nothing. Especially no real desire to see this.

Tree of Life: I liked Thin Red Line and Badlands, but Terrence Malick’s movies veer from fascinating to stultifying in the blink of an eye (and that eye blink can last for all eternity and encompass the whole universe. With lens flare.) Still, dinosaurs?

The Artist: So French! So Silent! The dog is so cute!

Hugo: One of the two best picture nominees I have seen. I loved this. It’s an utterly charming movie. The only mistsep is Sasha Baron Cohen’s character of the Station Inspector who chases after Hugo the whole film. Look, I understand that there needs to be a villain to help raise the stakes and drive the narrative, but he comes off as a more over the top version of the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Moneyball: The other best picture nominee I’ve seen. I thought this was a cracker jack entertainment (Ha! See what I did there?) about baseball and Brad Pitt’s struggle to stay handsome despite eating a Twinkie in every scene of this movie. (Do you think Jonah Hill got annoyed having to watch Pitt shove junk food in his face for weeks of filming and not gain an ounce?)  Very entertaining movie that somehow made the calculation of batting averages seem exciting, although it has been pointed out that the A’s were hardly the Bad News Bears they were made to seem in the film. They had the AL MVP plus three 20 game winners. 

11:35 Best Picture: The Artist! The second silent film to win best picture. Everybody I know who has seen this has loved it. I guess I'll take their word for it.

11:40 Thus ends another year of film awards. (Oh wait! Not quite!) Thus ends another visit with Billy Crystal.  And we clock out at... 3 hours 10 minutes! That has to be some kind of record! Thank you academy! Amazing that a community of tv and film professionals could find a way to keep the show under 4 hours.

And thus ends the live blog. I hope you enjoyed it. Join us again for more blogging adventures to come. 

Oscar Live Blog

Oscar night!

We've got beer, and in honor of the LA Times article revealing that the Academy voters are even older, whiter, and maler the previously thought, I have ordered the Papa John's SausageFest Pizza.

Let's begin!

8:00 And we're on the red carpet! I know, E! has been on the Red Carpet since 12 PM yesterday, but I would sooner jam a cooking thermometer in my ears than listen to Joan Rivers for more than 13 nanoseconds.

Joan, we appreciate that you are a pioneer for women in comedy, but you've been a caricature for about 15 years now.

8:05 I guess you've arrived in Hollywood when the Oscar hosts ask you to break out your terrible Christopher Walken impression. Welcome, Bradley Cooper.

8:08 Here come the briefcases! This is like the Academy Awards for accountants.

8:10 Seriously, wouldn't you love to pull a switch on those guys? "And the award for best picture goes to... Jack and Jill?"

8:12 George Clooney must be some kind of wizard. Handsome, oscar-winning actor who has dated a string of gorgeous women, and no one feels the least bit jealous of him. Harry Potter must be scratching his head.

8:15 Sandra Bullock looks nice. The announcer is going out of her way to not mention a certain ex-husband of hers. It would be awesome if a tearful Jessie James came running up the aisle when she was presenting to beg her to take him back. "C'mon baby! Rihanna took back Chris Brown!"

8:20 Oh boy! We are going to be carpet bombed for four hours with promos for ABC's craptacular programming. Kirstin Chenowith, I love you on Broadway but there's no way I'm watching a southern fried rip off of Desperate Housewives.

8:22 Natalie Portman gets to the heart of why the Academy was so quick to bring back Billy Crystal, despite him not saying a funny joke in about 20 years. "He's not going to be mean!" Oooo, this is going to be a long four hours.

8:23 The show producer: "Billy's got an AMAZING opening medley!" Is it too early to switch to tequila?

8:26 I have never been so embarrased for a comedian as to see Chris Rock pimp for the brilliance that is Billy Crystal. They are REALLY pushing him hard.

(Not that Eddie Murphy - the original host - has had a much better late career period. Imagine That? Norbit?)

8:30 Morgan Freeman! I feel so reassured.

8:31 Oh, that feeling passed. Billy's putting himself in a montage where he appears in all the movies. It's the only way he can get in a good movie these days.

Justin Beiber is here. Pander-iffic!

8:35 That's some cutting edge Tintin parody there.

8:37 "Just call me War Horse!" Erg. No glue factory tag up?

8:38 OK, props for the Kodak "Chapter 11" theater joke.

8:39 Oh fuck. Please don't sing.

8:40 Jean Dujardin has a bemused look as Billy sings about him in The Artist. He speaks barely any english, I envy him.

8:41 Clooney is smiling gamely, but Billy just cost himself a part in Ocean's 19.

8:42 My friend is on Worst Cooks in America and he's having a viewing party at 9. If I leave now, I could make it in time...

8:43 First Award: Cinematography! Likely Tree of Life. The waving grass is pretty.

8:44 No! Hugo! Those tracking shots were amazing.

8:45 Now that is a rocking hairdo! Hang ten, brother!

8:46 Art Direction: Hugo looked phenomenal, and I've only seen that and Harry Potter.

8:47 Hugo! Could we have an upset? Probably not. Hugo will do well in the craft awards.

8:48 Um, I loved Hugo, but how is Art Directing a movie set in Paris about the early days of silent French film a win for Italy?

8:49 I must admit, I have only seen two of the nine best picture nominees - Hugo and Moneyball - and I have little interest in any of the others outside of The Artist. My Lovely Wife wanted to see it together, so I wait until we are reunited in Orlando. (Woody! Your new movie title: Reunited in Orlando!)

8:50 Rather than recount the string of groaners Billy is reeling off, I am going to close my eyes and sing Journey songs for the next sixty seconds.

8:51 DON'T STOP...BELIEVING! (Is he still going?) HOLD ON TO THAT FEELING!

8:52 Christ, another montage? Reminding us all of all the better movies that were made in years past.

They keep looking for ways to cut down on the running time. How 'bout we knock off these montages? The only one I have ever enjoyed was the one where Woody Allen introduced a tribute to New York after 9/11. The rest are just time filler.

8:54 Costumes! This usually means Most and Biggest Period Costumes. That would be Anonymous, but that film was god awful. Maybe Hugo again? The Georges Melies stuff was good.

8:55 No! The Artist! It was hard picking all of the tuxedos.

8:57 Makep! It really should be Harry Potter, but it will probably be that Maggie Thatcher prosthetic.

8:58 J-Lo and Cameron hiding their oscar boobies.

8:59 Iron Lady! Meh. Voldemort will have his revenge.

9:00 Another montage. "The first movie I saw!" I don't care. Can you please stop trying to sell me on The Magic of the Movies! I'm already watching this damn show.

9:06 Foreign Film! And are we really doing a pidgin language bit? Where did they find these Catskills writers?

9:07 Should be A Separation, but there is a holocaust film!

9:08 A Separation! One of the few times the most critically acclaimed film has won the award. And the director looks an awful lot like Ben Kingsley playing Georges Melies. And anything that helps to promote artistic freedom in Iran is good.

9:09 What's with Nick Nolte's slow clap for Christian Bale? Is he just drunk? And they aren't all first timers! Janet McTeer for Tumbleweeds! 1999!

9:10 Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spenser of The Help is the favorite here, but this category is full of upsets. Remember when Lauren Bacall was a shoo-in, only to lose to the younger and prettier Juliette Binoche? This category often rewards the young, fresh faces, i.e. the actress the old white men most want to fuck. (How else do you explain an Oscar for Kim Basinger? Mira Sorvino??? You realize they have more acting Oscars than Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland, and Gene Kelly combined?) So, there could be a Jessica Chastain upset. But, if there’s one thing the Academy likes as much as fucking, it’s making BIG STATEMENTS about race. Two black actreses have never won for the same movie before

9:11 I would really love it if Melissa McCarthy won. Go Sookie! Yay Gilmore Girls!

9:12 Winner: Octavia Spenser! So, it seems we are in for an upset free evening. 

9:13 Wow, standing ovation! And she seems genuinely happy! 

9:14 Don't wrap up Octavia! It's one thing to give the high sign to the third sound editor on Transformers, but the only speeches people care about are the actor and director ones. Don't cut them off! Gotta make room for more montages!

9:18 "That moment for Octavia Spenser is what the Oscars are all about." What, getting cut off during your big emotional moment?

9:19 Wizard of Oz focus group! You realize this is the first time we got the Christopher Guest improv gang back together since their Oscar parody film "For Your Consideration." 

"The Good Witch is a cruel jokester!" 

9:22 Editing! If Thelma Schoolmaker wins, we could have a Hugo upset brewing. Other wise, it's going to be all Artist. 

9:24 Dragon Tattoo! Well, I guess the academy likes David Fincher's editors if not David Fincher's directing. I dunno. That movie could have been about 20 minutes shorter.

The two guys were so genuinely surprised they couldn't even finish their speech. 

9:25 Sound Editing! If the majesty of Transformers is not recognized...

9:26 Hugo! That make three. And all those gears sounded cool. 

9:27 "Hugo!" "No, Hugo." We're taking the Oscar back now. 

9:28 Sound mixing! Your second chance to honor transformers!

9:29 Winner: Hugo! That movie was pretty fucking charming. I love Marty. Movies like Raging Bull and Taxi Driver are why I went to film school.  Still, it’s hard to believe the man that brought such a raw jittery feel to Mean Streets is the same director as Hugo. 

9:34 Muppets! Yay! (My Lovely Wife texts: Miss Piggy is Smokin'! (Get it? Smoked Ham)

9:35 Cirque du Soleil! Uhhhhhhgggg. AS if the films nominated weren't French enough. 

9:38 So, there's time for a five minute Cirque du Soleil wankfest, but Octavia Spenser got told to wrap it up? Racist!

9:40 Gwynnie & Downey! Do we get an Iron Man joke?

9:41 No, a stupid riff on that stupid Joaquin Phoenix movie.

9:44 Documentary: Paradise Lost had better goddamn win, having helped to get three people out of prison, but it’s entirely possible that the Academy’s anti-TV bias may come into play. Also their bias against documentaries that are interesting, entertaining, and reach a wide audience. (No, I’m not still upset about them snubbing Hoop Dreams. Why do you ask?) No holocaust films this year, so maybe Joe Berlinger has a shot.

9:45 Really? The football team movie? Fuck you documentary wing.

9:47 Animated feature! Kung Fu Panda 2. What. The. Fuck. It would be nice if the hand drawn Spanish movie Chico & Rita could pull this out, but it’s probably the quirky and oddball Rango.  Coraline, you picked the wrong year to get released.

9:48 And no surprise. Rango wins.

(The formatting got a little wonky, so we are continuing the live blog here. Come join us!)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Oscar Magic!

It's Oscar time!

I do love me the Oscars. Oscar trivia, Oscar pools, you name it! I used to run a pool in college. (I was the only person to pick Marisa Tomei for My Cousin Vinnie.) This is back in the pre-internet days, when all "movies" were just a series of crudely drawn flip books. (I told my dad this and he snorted. "We didn't even HAVE flip books! We just had to quickly walk from one cave painting to the next!")

Anyway, I decided to try something new (for me) and live-blog the Oscars tomorrow!

Join me for the pageantry! The dresses! The once in a decade occurrence were the Best Picture Oscar actually goes to the best picture!

See you on Sunday! Dress nice or Joan Rivers will make fun of you.

Friday, February 24, 2012


 "Can I help you? Probably not."

I have an iPhone. I love my iPhone. If you asked me to choose between my iPhone and 99% of the people I have met in my life, it was nice knowing you.

 Sorry, Mom, but you didn't get me the Millennium Falcon for Christmas like I asked when I was six.

(Except you. You are safely in the 1%. You know who you are.)

I've had an iPhone for a few years, so this means I also have AT&T.

I do not love AT&T. If you asked me to choose between crab lice and AT&T, please pass the Kwell Shampoo.

"But, didn't they open up the iPhone to other carriers? Why don't you change?"

What a good question! What clever readers you are!

My iPhone was a few years old and ran super slow. Timex Sinclair slow. (Look it up, kids.) AT&T had a free upgrade! I'll take it!

AT&T: "There will be a one time upgrade fee of $18."

ME: "I thought the phone was free."

AT&T: "Yes, it's free."

ME: "But you're charging me $18."

AT&T: "Yes, but not for the phone. The phone is free."

ME: "You are charging me an upgrade fee because I got a new phone. You would not charge this fee if I did not get a new phone, therefore the phone is not free. It costs $18."

AT&T: "No, the phone is free!"

If you ever wondered about your cell phone charges, this is why. Free=$18.

Still $18<$200, so I got my "free" phone and a two year contract from AT&T.

When I signed up for iPhone, I got unlimited data. Unlimited means, well, unlimited. All the web surfing you could want, 'cause the iPhone is neat like that.

Well, one morning while streaming pornography reading the New York Times on my phone and pondering the issues of the day in a mature and sensitive fashion, I got a text from AT&T.

It seems that, at last,  I am in the Top 5% of something. (Occupy me! Occupy me!) No, not income. Data usage. Since I had an Unlimited! plan, I foolishly assumed that I didn't have limits on my data usage. Oh no! Now AT&T threatens to "throttle" my data speeds - basically pinch the internet hose so that sweet stream of data is reduced to a trickle - unless I ease up on the browsing.

So technically, by data is still "unlimited," but unlimited data will now be processed by a 2400 baud dial up modem.

Comment, Inigo?

AT&T: Making the cable company look good by comparison.