30 September 2008

Bye for real

Hello, gentle readers. I've been toying with whether or not to keep the blog running. But in the end, I've come to the conclusion that it's either going to (a) take too much time to keep it updated right and proper, or (b) suck. So I think this'll be the last post.

I'm not taking it down, though. So come back anytime you need examples of stupid people, good advice for soon-to-be-dated music, ridiculing of Seventeen magazine, and misinterpreted naughty bits from the Harry Potter books (by far the most-read posts, by the way. Never underestimate the public's lust for Emma Watson).

Thanks for coming by and being my audience. Yeah, of course it's been a waste of time, but hopefully an enjoyable one. See you in the funny pages.

29 September 2008

Carmike and 'Fireproof' (or, Kung Fu Pander)

Some anonymous commenter, henceforth referred to as "Jackass" "Eva," accused me of “caving to The Man” the other day. It’s not clear if Eva's saying that because I was trashing “Fireproof” based on its ridiculous preview or because, after 17 years of working in a field that underpays people and is suddenly trimming its work force, I took a private-sector job.*


Most likely it’s the latter (to which I’d answer “up yours, Eva”). But I’d like to think it’s the former, because of the potential irony. In my book, Carmike Cinemas, caved to The Man by showing “Fireproof” on its largest screen, when anybody could’ve told you that “Eagle Eye” would be the No. 1 movie this weekend. (Final numbers: “Eagle Eye” rang in at $29.2 million, “Fireproof” at No. 4 with $6.5 million.)

Carmike is making marketing decisions based on broad stereotypes about the South, the Bible Belt. And being headquartered here in Columbus, Ga., it should know better. Or maybe it does know better, but it’s simply pandering to power brokers wielding a cross.

“Fireproof” stars Kirk Cameron, and for some, that’s enough to kill it right there. But he’s allegedly not terrible, despite how he looks it in the preview. That aside, the movie tells the story of a firefighter who is trying to salvage his marriage based on Biblical principles. That’s not a horrible premise, I guess, even if it’s more suited to a Lifetime movie than a Hollywood release. But when Hannah Goodwyn of the Christian Broadcasting Network reviews the film and says it doesn’t meet her "very high standard of what a movie should be" entertainment-wise, you know it ain’t very good.

Of the top five best movies of the year, three are based on comic book characters (“The Dark Knight,” “Hellboy II” and “Iron Man”) and the other two are animated (“Wall-E” and “Kung Fu Panda”). Funny thing is, you’d think comic-book heroes would offer the same black-and-white stereotypes that a film like “Fireproof” embraces, with “Love God/Hate Sin” roughly equating to “Hero Good/Evil Bad.” But the heroes of those three films are complex and fallible, and in some cases antiheroes. And that’s why people can relate to them. They offer real heart, real soul.

"Eva, I'm sorry
But you will never have me
To me, you're just some faggy girl
And I need a lover with soul power
You ain't got no soul power"
--of Montreal, “Bunny Ain’t No Kind of Rider”

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*Corporate culture is interesting, by the way, and not necessarily bad. My employer, for instance, charges 50 cents for diet sodas, but 60 cents for regular ones, in an effort to encourage healthier habits. And either way, it's a hell of a lot cheaper than the 75 cents I used to have to pay. Which adds up when you're (a) paid peanuts, and (b) addicted to caffeine.

27 September 2008

Scratched

Paul Newman
1925-2008
Pool shark, salad dresser, speed racer

25 September 2008

Jon Stewart: TV mightier than the pen

Ouch. I mean, I know I'm not in the newspaper business any more. But ouch.

This here's 24 seconds of pain... At least the audience didn't laugh too hard. Maybe they never figured out what he was talking about.

Et tu, Stewart?

'Fireproof' = Actorproof

Wow. I saw this trailer last night, in front of "Burn After Reading." The acting was so freaking bad that I half expected it to be a parody. I kept waiting for the overlay to say, "From the makers of 'Tropic Thunder!'" But no, it's real. And moreover, that's really Kirk Cameron.

Go ahead and click "Watch Trailer." I dare you to make it all the way through without laughing. Jenn and I both cracked up in the theater. She says she felt bad: "I didn't want to offend any Christians who might be in front of us." I says: "They hate crappy movies too."


I think the best part is how they make the double Os in "Fireproof" out of wedding rings. Awwww....

24 September 2008

Gay Aiken

It's probably no big surprise for most folks to learn that Clay Aiken has admitted he's gay. You know, the crystal clear singing voice, the penchant for big sweaters (exhibit left), the collection of haggard female fans.

What you may be wondering is, what effect will his coming out will have on record sales and fanbase?

None, it turns out. See, Aiken's fans (or, "Claymates") have a median age of 83. And to them, "gay" still only means happy and jovial. No harm, no foul.

23 September 2008

A license for that

Anyone else notice how the new Georgia license plate stickers are, how shall we say this, bigger than the indented space on the license plate where the sticker goes?

No big deal, I guess, since it's a common fact that you can run red lights -- at least in Columbus -- without much fear of repercussion. And you can certainly perform a hit-and-run and not worry about the Five-O knocking on your door. Seriously. That's what the police told us as victims of one two. "Well, there's 200 of those a month."

Uh, good to know...?

21 September 2008

Same cigarettes as me

My final pop culture column for the paper ran Friday, though I've still got a story or two in the can that will appear hopefully soon.

Anyways, here's the farewell column. It's not sad. And there's mention of Todd Snider, ELO, The Replacements and a slightly more oblique reference to the Rolling Stones. Fun times!

18 September 2008

Welcome to Corporate America!

I should preface this by saying that I think I'm really gonna like my new job, and everyone at work is super nice.

That said, I got a parking ticket at work on my first day. Go me!

16 September 2008

Not for the swallow!

Thanks, Joe Paull
It's hard to imagine how any kid shoots his eyes out, when BB pellets come with such specific warnings as this:

Click on the picture to read the label. Or trust me when I tell you that it clearly states...
* Under the parent serve as guardian usage.
* This product forbids the swallow.
* The in keeping with 7 years old and above childs play.

For some reason, this makes me want Mexican food for lunch.

By the bye

So tomorrow's my last day working at the Ledger-Enquirer, and, most likely at newspapers. No biggie. I just had a great opportunity come at me. After holy-crap-has- it-really-been-17-years in the field, I'm actually looking forward to a change.

Don't know what'll happen to the blog yet. The Ledger folks are happy to still have it up, so I'll probably keep posting as time permits. But the new boss is going to get full concentration, so I probably won't be posting daily.

I've still got some cool stuff coming: That Rock-afire Explosion story is just holding until they've got the space for it. It was slated for last weekend, but there was something about a hurricane in Texas or something that got in the way. And I'm working on a piece now about celebrities and politics. Fun stuff.

My last pop culture column runs Friday. I was thinking about great album closers for that column, and, even though it didn't end up in the column, I keep going back to "Shangri-La," on ELO's "A New World Record." Not the best song on the album, by a long shot. But Jeff Lynne's lamenting "I'm getting out of love" over and over and over seems to fit right now, as I leave the business that I love. Then the orchestral passage kicks in, resuscitating the theme from Track One ("Tightrope"). And then Lynne's back, his voice floating up from what sounds like a valley below, singing "I wiiii-iii-iiiill return, to Shangri-La."

Don't know if you've read James Hilton's "Lost Horizon," the 1933 book that created the concept of Shangri-La. Or maybe you've seen the Capra movie from '37. Suffice to say that Shangri-La's a paradise in the middle of the frozen Himalayas — a place that the protagonist leaves even though he may never be able to find it again.

***
"Like my father before me, I consider a past
I can't understand
As I grasp for a moment that slips through my hands

And I stumble toward a future, concealed in a haze
Half faith and half fear

And my innocent vision's no longer so clear

I walk on"

Tonio K., "We Walk On"

15 September 2008

Wikipediawesome

Reading the Wikipedia entry on the Dead Kennedys, in disbelief that the kid from "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" replaced Jello Biafra as frontman (true, by the way), I stumble on these two unintentionally awesome sentences:

"In the late 1980s, the band was embroiled in an obscenity trial in the US over the 1985 Frankenchrist album, which included a poster with art that depicted penises (Penis Landscape by H. R. Giger). The band was charged criminally with distribution of harmful matter to minors, but the trial ended with a hung jury."

Steady as she holds

Spent some time spinning The Hold Steady's latest record, "Stay Positive," this weekend. Along with the title cut, "Joke About Jamaica," "Both Crosses," and "Lord, I'm Discouraged," are kick-ass. Among the best songs they've every recorded.

So I can't decide what makes the first few songs on the record sound a little flat to me — which maybe kept me from listening to it very much for a few weeks. I think maybe I just don't like the tracking of the album. Happy to see the band is building some momentum, though. This, their fourth record, entered Billboard's Top 200 at No. 30, which is their strongest showing out-the-gates yet.

Oh, and just a reminder that they're touring with the Drive-By Truckers right now. There's a Nov. 1 date at The Tabernacle, in the A-T-L.

14 September 2008

Ugh.

I watched "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" this morning. You remember this movie. It played in your fair town like a week. Starred Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke and Marisa Tomei's breasts.

It's a good thing they made this movie, because, you know, if there's one thing there's a lack of in Hollywood, it's acclaimed movies with no redemption, no lesson for humanity with a healthy dose of despair, darkness and death.

11 September 2008

Manly fashion

Wondering now why I didn't watch this show during its one and only season... (Go ahead and watch. This clip is 11 seconds long.)

It's "Firefly," Joss Whedon's space-opera-meets-western that was eventually reworked into the very good feature film, "Serenity." Neither project was a success, alas. And we can only blame ourselves.*

You can stream the whole season for free over at Hulu.

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* The film produced one of the most magical pieces of dialog you'll ever find in a deleted scene:
Reynolds: Get these bodies together.
Zoe: We got time for grave digging?
Reynolds: Zoe, we're going to rope 'em together. Five or six of 'em. I want 'em laid out on the front of our ship.
Wash: Are you insane?
Reynolds: Put Book front and center. He's our friend, we should honor him. Kaylee, find that kid who's taking a dirt nap with baby Jesus, we need a hood ornament. Jayne, try not to steal too much of their shit.

Pink Floyd's Gilmour in concert

Attention stoners: A David Gilmour performance will get one shot on the big screen in Columbus. It's set for Sept. 22 at the Carmike 15 — which my press releases say is at "5555 Whittlesex Parkway."

Whittlesex? I'm kind of scared to ask what kind of fetish that is. Anyway, unless there's a new Carmike 15 on a new street, that was a Freudian slip and they mean Whittlesey. They should be forgiven. It's not like Columbus is the headquarters for Carmike Cinemas or anything. (Pause.) ... (Wait for it.) ... Oh, we ARE the headquarters for Carmike Cinemas?

Anyway, it doesn't really matter. This is just David Gilmour, after all. I mean, I love me some Pink Floyd and all, but only a dozen people saw the live "U2-3D" concert on its Friday night debut in this town. ... If you're looking for the full list of 107 cities showing the Gilmour concert, click here. It's a PDF, which is a pain in the arse. But that's the price you pay.

In summary, what we've learned today is:
*Carmike is dumb.
*Figgy needs to stop bogarting the blunt.
*This Web site generates your "stoner name." (I'm "Jurassic Jointmaster.")
and.
*When it comes to supporting events, Columbus sex. I mean sux.

10 September 2008

Picture imperfect

Here's a photo from the Ledger-Enquirer archives. It was provided by Fort Benning, likely from the '50s, but showing soldiers reenacting with what I'd guess is gear from World War I.
I like how they're all wagons-in-a-circle, as if Lou Diamond Phillips there with the bayonet in the front (a.k.a., the red-shirted Star Trek ensign) is actually General Custer in some anachronistic last stand.

My favorite guy is this one, though...
... as he's ready to fire his trusty pistol, should the rifles, cannons, grenade, mortar and, uh, tank fail to fell the enemy.

09 September 2008

For richer or Potter

J.K. Rowling, the world's first gajillionaire author, successfully sued two "creators" of the "Harry Potter Lexicon," a book that was to have been published.

The reason she won? There was little or no original work in the book. (The story is here.)

While I'm a fan of intellectual property, as long as it doesn't prevent us from making fun of, for example, the "unintentional" naughty bits in her books (as exposed (ahem) here, here, here, here, here, here and here), I do have a hard time buying her argument that the book's publication would have caused "irreparable harm" as a writer. Or damager her income. I'd guess she's already made 9/10ths of the fortune that her Harry Potter universe is going to earn her.

Bearly believable

Troy Heard found a forthcoming movie trailer that features a Phenix City man who assembled a Showbiz Pizza Place band (the Rock-afire Explosion, formally) at his place and reprogammed them to do cool things like this.

I'll have the full story this weekend in the paper. Check it out. (And thanks, Troy.)

08 September 2008

Sweet Homesky Alabama

Thanks Maggie and Bandit
So. Very. Disturbing.

Weekend lessons

I'm clearly not too old to learn stuff. Went to see the Falcons this weekend, and it was only my second pro football game ever. (First was an equally meaningless Saints vs. Redskins game in the mid-1990s. I apologize for the redundancies in that last sentence.)

Among Sunday's lessons:

— Free is the best possible price for Atlanta Falcons tickets, even if the parking is $25.

— The fake boob quotient is at least twice as high, per capita, in a football stadium than other places.

— (New Amsterdam gin* + Lemonade) = (Cheap + Delicious)

— Pro football cheerleaders look just as skanky in person as they do on TV. (Hot?)

— Fat people should not be allowed to wear inappropriate jerseys to a football game (i.e. the dude wearing an Iverson). Sleeveless ones are even more egregious offenses.
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*I like this gin a lot. For me, it's best as a mixer since it brings up the citrus in gin and suppresses the juniper. It makes a lousy traditional martini — so don't put olives anywhere near it. But lemonade or ginger ale with it are deelish. Ironically, they're marketing it as gin "so smooth you can drink it straight," which is pretty much what people do with traditional gin, in a martini (depending on whether you add a splash of vermouth or just wave it over the glass).

05 September 2008

Palin comparison

Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" has been hammering veep candidate Sarah Palin for claiming her daughter should have the right to make her own choices regarding the girl's illegitimate daughter. AKA, she should have a choice. So it's a great point.

And the fact that it comes from the mouth of a potential rock star ...

... makes it, of course, all the more true.

I hope my wife understands that I love Jon Stewart, with all of my body. Including my pee pee.*

In related news, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford this week did away with a requirement that salon employees receive 1,500 hours of training to shampoo hair, saying, "What we want to do is avoid laws on the books that don't pass the Comedy Central litmus test." Who says the media can't force responsible decision making?
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* A phrase stolen from this site.

04 September 2008

Esquire (again) proves that it rocks

What the Hell is Wrong with Blog Commentors?
Professor of Communications Paul Levinson and comedian Mike Birbiglia weigh in on why babygrl212 and mccainh8r think they have the right to be so goddamned stupid online.

Major Human Flaw: Posting inane comments online.

Response No. 1, by Paul Levinson, professor of communications at Fordham University and author of the upcoming book New New Media: Everyone has a ratio of satisfaction and frustration. What makes the Internet different is that it's so easy to express this frustration. Sometimes, people are too cowardly to assert themselves in person. They don't want to be shouted down, or they may know that what they're saying is absurd. But for those kinds of people, the anonymous empowerment of the Internet is like a drug. They're not just expressing anger, but authority.

Response No. 2, by Mike Birbiglia, stand-up comedian whose DVD, What I Should Have Said Was Nothing!, is out now: Comments sections offer this great opportunity for morons to show the world they don't know the difference between their,there, and they're. It's as if Brian Williams finished every segment by saying, "That's all I got. Now, does anybody have any batshit-zany e-mails they'd like me to read out loud?" The worst part is, I'll start to second-guess myself: Huh. I thought his name was spelled "Barack Obama," but according to squidbaby44, "Barak HUSSEIN Osama is a secret mooslim!"
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This is from the latest issue of Esquire, one of two* magazines I read cover-to-cover. So go ahead with the comments. Hurt me, babygrl212!!!
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*The other is Wired.

03 September 2008

Mr.E meat

My first experience with an Army-style Meal, Ready to Eat or whatever they're calling them now, came just a couple of weeks ago, but it came thanks to Hurricane Ivan back in 2004. That hit Pensacola, my old hometown, and I pretty much spent four or five straight weekends driving down there to help with post-hurricane cleanups on my dad's and brothers' properties. We were without power and water for the first couple of weekends, and the Red Cross issued us gallons jugs of water and as many MREs as the could.

Since Jenn and I were driving home to air conditioning and running water, we left that stuff down in the danger zone — with the exception of two meals: one marked meatloaf and one marked jambalaya (which was the closest to a vegetarian one we had).

That sat in the cupboard until our Cumberland Island camping trip a couple weeks back.

We're assuming, of course, that they were fairly new meals in 2004 and not, as we suspect, leftovers from Gulf War v.1.0. But either way, they were at least four years old — and they were still good.

I was also amazed at the quantity of food in there. And, not so surprisingly, old Skittles taste just like new Skittles.

Ye Olde Wikipaedia has some pretty interesting history on the meals, but best is their list of insults that soldiers have concocted for them, including: "Mr. E," "Meals Rejected by Everyone," "Meals, Rarely Edible," "Meals Rejected by the Enemy," "Morsels, Regurgitated, Eviscerated," "Meal, Ready to Excrete," "Materials Resembling Edibles," and even "Meals Rejected by Ethiopians."

My other favorite thing about them was the propaganda-lite on the packaging itself, urging soldiers to eat the whole meal and also proclaiming "Nutrition: A Force Multiplier!"

02 September 2008

East bound and down, six feet underground

Jerry Reed
1937-2008
Country legend, philosopher, bad actor

His machine killed fascists

Finished reading "Bound for Glory," last night. It's Woody Guthrie's autobiography, which is mostly not about music. I guess that makes sense, because he was just 31 years old when he penned it. The book is full of horrible spelling and dialect so thick as to be disorienting. But if taken as a series of vignettes, it's a very good glimpse at the formative instances in the young folk musician's life. (Curious, though, that he never mentions his first wife...)

Of note for Columbus-area folks is this passage, some 70 pages from the end:

"I got back to where everybody was, and the two little sisters was singing 'Columbus Stockade':

Way down in Columbus stockade
Where my gally went back on me;

Way down in Columbus stockade,
I'd ruther be back in Tennessee.

'Columbus Stockade' was always one of my first picks, so I let them run along for a little while, twisted my guitar up in tune with theirs, holding my eat down against the sounding box, and when I heard it was in tune with them I started picking out the tune, sort of note for note, letting their guitar play bass chords and second parts. ..."
You can find locals Rick Edwards and Henry Conley playing the old song at the bottom of this post.