Monday, March 23, 2009

News - Monday, March 23, 2009

"They're Rollover minutes! They're perfectly good!!! I WILL MURDER YOU FOR TOUCHING THEM!"

- I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks a lot about the "rollover minutes" house mom. She disturbs me.

- The newspaper industry has kind of gone full circle with posting things on the web, as many places are now only printing partial articles and saving the good stuff for the paper. It has probably come about as publications realize 1) Internet advertising will never be as lucrative as print advertising and 2) the continuing cuts of state / metro newspapers (The Providence Journal, the problems in Denver and Seattle) mean there is not as much pressure on weekly publications to release stories immediately. I kind of agree with this rationale now; there isn't much point to putting out articles that will force the circulation of your publication down when there is no legitimate competitor in the region.

p.s. The comments section is also a vivid example of why the web is not exactly the panacea for intelligent discourse.

- The other day I was commenting about how hot Nikki Cox was. The key word is "was"; I have no idea what happens, but she looks like a Neanderthal now. I blame Jay Mohr, who ruins everything he touches. Apparently mediocre comics possess this evil power. Because of this, I'm very nervous about the news that Jennifer Love Hewitt is dating Jamie Kennedy. You better not fuck that (left) up, Kennedy.

- And finally, because I like bizarre animal news, here is a New York Times piece about animal evolution and sexual selection. Chick chick a bow wow...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Living with Life on Mars

The hunky Jason O'Mara, star of Life on Mars.

One of my favorite television shows is Life on Mars, which has a simple-not-so-simple premise: New York Police Detective Sam Tyler is transported 35 years in the past, from 2008 NYC to 1973. He retains full memory of everything that has happened, and most interesting to me, he seemingly exists in both planes simultaneously.

It is a show about time travel, kind of. Most episodes focus on the sort of trivial personal issues that I would really wonder about if I traveled back in time. For example, Sam keeps running into his mother and himself, who both lived in NYC in 1973. He has to struggle with the dilemma of actively trying to make his life better (warning his mother about his father's true nature, telling his child-self about the future) or whether his meddling could cause irreparable harm. Unlike Back To The Future, Sam doesn't ever pull a Marty McFly / Biff, and try to use his knowledge of the future for personal gain (excluding a small sports bet with a co-worker). Apparently, he also does not have to worry about ripping a hole in the space-time continuum, which is always nice.

Life on Mars also doubles as a 1970s police procedural, and in this, it is shockingly good. If you eliminated all of the time-traveling elements, you would still have a good, gritty detective show. The time travel is just the aspect that elevates it from a good to great show in my mind. (I also giggle delightfully as Sam uses names from the future - Sam Bono, Detective Skywalker - as cover identities.)

When Sam isn't busy trying to crack cases and snog gorgeous ladies, the show focuses on his efforts to 1) figure out how this all happened and 2) how he can "get back" to the present. The show hints that Sam is in a coma in 2008/09 and hallucinating all of this, but it also hints that he has legitimately traveled back, and that others have as well as part of some shadowy conspiracy.

Seeing as less than a season of the show has run, plenty remains unexplained, which I like, although I'm worried that it'll be canceled because of less than stellar ratings before a proper conclusion. It definitely seems like there is some sort of plot and character arc behind the show, since the latest episode had a ridiculously shocking ending; it's not a Lost situation, where the show feels aimless half the time and leaves you to speculate about effing everything.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

News - Saturday, March 21, 2009

Looking around the web for bizarre, fun or interesting news...

- The job fair at the Foxy Lady is getting way too much publicity, but then again, I suppose I'm not helping by linking and commenting. I really doubt that anyone who had never, ever considered stripping before would suddenly change their mind because they were laid off; I imagine those who had considered it before simply decided to show up because of the job fair. And, if you do want that job, you're absolutely nuts. I also don't believe this article that claims some strip clubs are trying to revamp their image into something more fitness-orientated.

- Speaking of strippers (kinda), former New York governor Eliot Spitzer is now a contributor for Slate.com, which seems kind of odd to me. I don't think he's ever done an article for them explaining his actions either, which is doubly-odd to me. What's next, golfing correspondent O.J. Simpson? Anyway, his latest article on how governors will have a rough job balancing budgets in the current economic climate is pretty good, but more importantly, mentioning him gives me an excuse to run a photo of the foxy escort he was caught with, Ashley Alexandra Dupre (left). Also worth reading on Slate is an article about how the creator of lolcats is now making a bunch of money. Or, in lolcat terminology, "i can haz money?"

- Facebook blames an automated sagfeguard on the temporary halt in popularity of an application lambasting their new design changes. For the record, I'm also against the crappy redesign, which makes Facebook look like Twitter.

- Polar bears are shrinking and resorting to cannibalism because of global warming. Aww.

- If I had $300,000, I would definitely buy this dinosaur skeleton. What would be cooler than that? At the risk of sounding too much like Dane Cook right now, I think it would be the greatest pick-up line ever, if you could get the person to believe you. "Hey, want to come back to my apartment and check out my complete dinosaur fossil???"

Inexplicable movie review - Freshman Fall

Melodramatic tagline: He's the most popular guy on campus...
Who'd believe he's the most dangerous.


As far as era snapshots go, Freshman Fall (a.k.a. She Cried No, apparently) is incredible. Not because the movie is well-done or realistic, but because it has all of the horrible benchmarks of a strict, by-the-numbers 1990s health film. It is incredible because is it neither well-done or realistic, and strives for both. Colossal failure is just as interesting to me as colossal success.

A one-line summary: DJ from Full House is raped by Zack Morris from Saved By The Bell. This is not to be confused with No One Would Tell, in which DJ is beaten and killed by Fred Savage from The Wonder Years. In this one, DJ is a freshman in college and is raped within 20 minutes, leaving another 74 for the movie to twist and turn in faux drama and ridiculousness.

The movie is odd and awful, but my oddest and awfullest thoughts center around DJ. First, how is she typecast in this sort of role? It's not a Macaulay Culkin situation, where his parents were forcing him into taking a bunch of roles for cash. DJ was 20 when she took this role, so she would presumably understand all of the implications. I suppose the thought was that her image would lend the credibility, but if anything, its traumatizing to see Zack from Saved By The Bell brutally force himself on DJ. How rude! He should really cut it out. Elton and Steve would have never tried that shit.

DJ simply doesn't work in the movie, which is why I keep calling her DJ. It's just impossible to rectify her squeaky clean image on Full House to that of a "normal girl" who's taken advantage of in college. Even with a full-body shot of DJ's tight body in the gym (seriously), all of her mannerisms scream, "DJ Tanner, I'm DJ Tanner, in case you forgot!" In doesn't help in her few non-Full House appearances, Candace Cameron seems incredibly likable and sweet. By all accounts, DJ is exactly the character she plays on Full House.

This doesn't affect every actor. Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack) is strangely creepy and charming as The Rapist Scott Baker. (That would be a great sports nickname, except for the raping part.) This is probably why he's been able to land other roles (NYPD Blue) somewhat consistently despite his start as Zack Morris.

But the other aspect that makes Freshman Fall so horrible is the faint hint of authenticity throughout. If you squint hard enough, or didn't experience the era firsthand, then it seems genuine enough. If you actually experienced the 1990s, then everything is perversely off.

The opening song of the movie? "Counting Blue Cars" by Dishwalla. Not Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins or 311 or Oasis or Blackstreet with Dr. Dre or even Counting Crows. It doesn't suck, but the song is so generic and safe that it becomes a mundane listen halfway through its first play. I was 12 and I knew Dishwalla would be a one-hit wonder. When you open a movie with Dishwalla, a band that was not even cool when I was in sixth grade, you are setting up something wildly unbelievable.

So here's the rest, in case you can't guess: DJ meets Six from Blossom and a ridiculously hot Nikki Cox (left), her roommates at Generic State U. The Rapist invites her to an opening night keg party and gets her drinking. Before you know it, she's clutching to him while "Macarena" blares in the background, and The Rapist invites her back to his room for the horrible, awkward rape scene with some sinisterly-poor acoustic guitar in the background. He said she said, yada yada yada, the end.

The thing is, if the producers had any brains at all, they would realize they had a much better lead in the supporting cast - Nikki Cox. She is a waffle crapper of the highest degree, especially in this movie, where she is prancing about with no bra for some reason. DJ is so non-sexual that it is unbelievable that The Rapist would pick her out from a crowd to target. It is unbelievable that he would ignore Nikki Cox to focus on DJ Tanner.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Epiphany

Reading two authors recently has made me reassess a few things about my writing.

First, Chuck Klosterman. A few weeks back, a friend said my writing reminded her of him, and I finally got access to one his books from the library. It was eye-opening, akin to some guy finding out that The Beatles had been what he was doing for years previous. In particular, one of his books features an essay by him in which he just watched VH1 Classic for a day and commented on all the videos. I've been doing the same thing, although at a much more sophomoric and shitty level. (Also, Klosterman looks like a skinny Bruce Vilanch, and I bet he just loves that comparison.)

Still, it's to be expected, since Klosterman is a professional writer and all... But then again, aren't I a professional writer? After all, I get paid to write, whether it be sports coverage, video game reviews or news stories. It is an odd sort of feeling to realize, "Hey I kind of do what this guy does, maybe it's not so far-fetched that I could make a career out of writing." Klosterman also started out as a conventional journalist.

I guess the main thing preventing me from just launching headlong into writing a novel is the whole, you know, lack of money thing. It would be one thing if I thought I had some great story to sell to a publishing house for a nice advance that could support me. Instead, I'd rather muse about random aspects of pop culture; reviewing past journal entries reveals a hodgepodge of advanced baseball statistics, professional wrestling, personal posts about being a 17-year-old to 22-year-old trying to get laid, pop culture analysis and music cataloging.

I'm narcissistic enough to think that people would buy this from me if it was marketed to them, or if I had a proper forum to advertise it. My reign as entertainment editor at the Cigar and just general compliments on my writing have fed my hungry ego quite satisfactorily. (I blame all of you for this.) But, I don't really have enough of an audience to just quit looking for a 9-to-5 job and to just write all day long.

Now, moving on to the second author as a way to explain my biggest failing as a potential writer - interest level, motivation, commitment. In the past, I've tried things like a wrestling blog, a sports blog, only to get disinterested and move on to other projects.

Toby Young also has this struggle, which he writes about in The Sound Of No Hands Clapping, his book about trying to become a screenwriter in Hollywood. He mentions about how unless he is forced to do something, he will just dawdle and dawdle. I realize that in my case, this was part of the appeal of journalism - the deadline forced me to produce *something*. In Toby's case, the stability of his wife led him to stop boozing and to actually hold a steady job. I'm hoping being self-aware of my problems with just effing writing something will force me to write more.

To link to yet another thing, I think this Slate article details my problem pretty well. It's not that I'm ever really "blocked" and can't write, it's more that I will find 50 million other things to distract myself with before actually sitting down and spitting something out. The few times I've had consistency in volume is when I've forced myself to write (driving range days) or when I've been paid for it.

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