Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Couldn't have said it better

I had to share an excerpt from Ramin Setoodeh's "One For The Money Review: Does Katherine Heigl Have Fans?" from The Daily Beast:

On Friday morning at 12:01 a.m., I went to the movies to see One for the Money, the new Katherine Heigl crime caper that’s so lousy the studio wouldn’t screen it early for critics. I had to watch it at the first public showing in a Manhattan theater, with all of Heigl’s groupies, if they exist. Here’s what happened, as recorded in real-time on my BlackBerry.

11:50 p.m. A 26-year-old man working at the concession stand tells me how much he enjoyed Heigl’s performance in Zack & Miri Make a Porno. I point out that Heigl was not in that film.
11:53 p.m. I find my seat. Number of people inside the theater, including me: 1.
12:00 a.m. I am still the only person here. This is worse than going to your high-school prom alone.
12:04 a.m. A few others have trickled in. Number of people inside the theater, including me: 5.
(blah blah blah)
12:35 a.m. Number of people inside the theater, including me: 3. Two teen girls have already fled.
(blah blah blah)
1:03 a.m. At this point, Heigl does the impossible: handcuffed naked to her own shower pole, she’s still boring.
(blah blah blah)
1:37 a.m. Heigl is shot in the butt. Is that supposed to be a metaphor.
I'm guessing he's not a fan.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Down or Not - genius

By now, you might have an idea that I'm something of an inveterate surfer (web not water). As far as I'm concerned, when a site goes down, it qualifies as a natural disaster.

Of course, when a site goes down — and I'm talking an ordinary, every day kinda site — my first thought is that it's my fault. There must be something wrong with my browser, my network, my internet connection. Which does in fact turn out to be the case... occasionally. More often, shockingly, the problem has nothing to do with me (yeah, yeah, I know... there's a larger life lesson in there).

Downed sites were really a cause of angst and frustration... until I discovered downornot.com (good lord, I sound like an infomercial... "my acne was so bad, I was embarrassed to go outside, until I discovered Boa Balm"). Rest assured, I have not been paid, compensated or otherwise remunerated for this post.

Anyway, my point is, now instead of immediately going to "it's not you, it's me," I go to downornot.

Man, am I in trouble if downornot goes down.

Friday, January 20, 2012

How do I love thee, David Pogue?

I'm hoping if you use the internet, which you do almost by definition if you're reading this, you've been following — even peripherally — the whole SOPA/PIPA controversy. (By the way, doesn't the British pronunciation of that word — con-TRAH-versy — sound so much more elegant than ours?)
As with most controversies, the right and wrong on this one is not clear-cut. Not exactly. The goal of finding a way to better protect copyrights and reduce online piracy is in and of itself a pretty good idea. The way Congress has chosen to approach achieving that goal, however? Not so good.
David Pogue — my all-time favorite geek-gadget-tech-cool-things columnist — took a step back for a better look at the issue in yesterday's blog post, Put Down the Pitchforks on SOPA. I highly recommend you read it — only Pogue could so clearly break down the issue and the merits and flaws of the opposing positions, while still getting in zingers like these:

"In a perverse stroke of curiosity, I thought maybe I’d actually study these bills."

"For the record, I think the movie companies have approached the digital age with almost slack-jawed idiocy."

"In this case, the solution is to work on the language of the bills to rule out the sorts of abuses that the big Web sites fear. (And to fix the other minor point, which is that the bills won’t work....) "

AmericanCensorship.org did this great infographic on SOPA/PIPA (click on it so it gets big enough to actually read — it's pretty nifty).

And for those of you keeping track — I haven't forgotten I owe you the list of the other nine EGOT champs. Patience, grasshopper.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Now, THAT'S a list I can get behind

You know that post I wrote about the surprising Kris Kristofferson? Truth is, I really meant to write about Mel Brooks. People get those two confused all the time, don't they? No? Fine. Be that way.

So anyway, back to Mel... I stumbled upon this awesome article on Topless Robot (I stumbled on it, I didn't name it) — "10 Kickass Things Mel Brooks Did (Besides His Movies)" — which led me to my 'unknown brainiac' spiel... which led to Mr. Kristofferson... which led to... oh, to live in my brain. But today — today, I really am going to write about Mel Brooks.

Here are the "10 reasons you should be impressed besides how many times he got you to watch Blazing Saddles and still laugh." I could try to put it better, but why work that hard? (Many kudos to Topless Robot for this list.)

Created Get Smart. Yep, that was him — with Buck Henry, who, by the way, besides playing Liz Lemon's dad on 30 Rock, was nominated for an Oscar for writing The Graduate, which starred Anne Bancroft (see below) — there is just no end to these brainiacs in hiding.

Photo from Sulekha.com

Gave us Max Brooks. If nothing else, Mel's son has been credited (or blamed, depending) for the recent uptick of zombies in pop culture — his 2003 book, The Zombie Survival Guide, pre-dates the truly hilarious Shaun of the Dead, Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake, the film adaptation of I Am Legend (you know what I think about that movie), the Cinderella story movie (the actual movie, not the plot) Zombieland, AMC's The Walking Dead, to name a few. That and his next book, World War Z, are both on their way to the silver screen. Plus — how cute is Mel's grandson, Henry Mel?

Rocked Broadway. You know all those movies that have been musicalized and transported to the Great White Way? Blame Brooks. His production of The Producers won 12 Tonys, and Young Frankenstein was nominated for three. Next up, he's writing the book and music for a Broadway version of Blazing Saddles. "The sheriff's near."

Wrote in comedy's version of the Brill Building. If it weren't true, it would be ridiculous. Nah, it's still ridiculous. Wrap your mind around this round table: Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, Daniel Simon, Larry Gelbart, Selma Diamond, Michael Stewart and Mel Tolkin. Uh huh. In one room. Writing for one guy (Sid Caesar). For the record — those minds brought us (just a sampling, mind you): Blazing Saddles, Manhattan, The Jerk, The Odd Couple, Sleeper, Young Frankenstein, My Three Sons, Bye Bye Birdie, Diff'rent Strokes, M.A.S.H., Hot in Cleveland... you get the drift.

Discovered Dave Chappelle. Betcha didn't know that. DC's first film role was in Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Thanks for that, Mel.

Got the EGOT. Mel Brooks is one of only ten people — EVER — to win the grand slam of entertainment awards: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. I know, I know — you want to know who the other nine are. Hey, I need something to write about tomorrow.

Won the heart and hand of Anne Bancroft. A duo right up there with Newman & Woodward for Hollywood romances that make you believe in "wuv, true wuv" (recognize that? It's from a movie directed by Carl Reiner's son... see how that works?). And proof positive that women go for men who make them laugh. Really.

Brought us The Elephant Man. Not only did Brooks produce this far from funny story of the "classic wandering Jew" directed by David Lynch, he was on set every day. Though... would you believe it was Brooks' kids' babysitter who gave him the script? That's at least a little funny.

Defused landmines. No, really. Brooks joined the Army Corps of Engineers when he was 17. Legend has it that when the Germans began blasting propaganda at the American troops through loudspeakers, Brooks set up his own loudspeakers and blasted back with his impression of "Toot Toot Tootsie." Take that, you stinkin' Krauts!

Gave us Gene Wilder. Further proving my beautiful-women-love-funny-men theory, it was Anne Bancroft who introduced Mel to Gene after she worked with him on stage. Three years later, Mel cast Gene as Bloom in The Producers, after which we got Gene as Willy Wonka, Gene as Young Frankenstein, Gene as Jim, The Waco Kid. Happy days.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Smarter than he looks

There are few things I love more than surprising brainiacs — and I don't mean sneaking up on Alfred Einstein and yelling "boo!" I mean people who surprise you by being far, far smarter and more accomplished than you ever thought they were.

Like whom, you ask?

Like Kris Kristofferson — depending on how old you are, you might remember him as Obi Wan (c'mon, he is!) in Blade, or as the only cool thing about the vastly unfortunate Streisand remake of A Star is Born.

I bet you anything you don't know half what you think you know about this guy. Seriously, check out this bio of him written in 1958 in Sports Illustrated:

"This dashing young man in the Rugby outfit plays standoff on the team at Pomona College in California, where he is a senior. But this is only a small facet of 21-year-old Kris Kristofferson's amazing record. He is also starting left end on the varsity football team, a Golden Gloves boxer, sports editor of the college paper, outstanding cadet in the ROTC battalion of which he is cadet commander. As an English major he is an honor student and member of the four-man senior honor society on campus. Kris won four of the top 20 awards recently given in a creative writing contest for college students. He composes folk songs which he sings to his own guitar accompaniment. And to crown this varied list of accomplishments Kris is a Rhodes scholar-elect, one of 32 young Americans chosen to go to Oxford this fall.

Yep. A Golden Gloves boxer and a Rhodes Scholar. Not to mention, he's been nominated for an Oscar, won a Grammy or three, won a Golden Globe and in 1985, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (you do know he wrote Me and Bobby McGee, right?). And that picture... Crazy Heart, anyone?

Hear that? That's Kris Kristofferson yelling "boo!"