Wednesday, May 31, 2006

They're Number One!

The new "X-Men" movie debuted at the top slot with a bazillion dollars in the bank. The new Dixie Chicks album, despite all the "backlash," also debuted at number one. Does this surprise anyone? Of course they debuted at number one! Millions of dollars of publicity and promotion is spent to ensure they debut at number one. If the didn't debut at number one, I'd be concerned the world was coming to a sudden end and that even us slow-to-(over)react Americans were spending our spare cash on jugs of water, batteries and canned food instead of movies and records.

But no, movies and records is what we spend our cash on, at least the first week. Hello, 50% second week drop off!

Anyway, all that money spent pushing those records? The stuff that convinced even my friends to see “The Da Vinci” code just to “get it over with?” That's the very cash not spent on all those albums and movies you don't/didn't go to see or buy. So I wonder what would happen if the effort and time spent promoting a $150 million dollar movie about mutants or silly spiritual sleuthing instead went toward a “small” $30 million movie, or something even cheaper. Would that flick become a blockbuster? Wouldn't it be even more profitable than a pricey blockbuster, at least domestically? Or is the illusion of failure or modest success (given that all movies eventually recoup) secretly what the studios want, so that they can pocket oodles yet still proclaim fiscal disappointment? And, needless to say, not pay their principals.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Oh, Oprah ...

Courtesy Defamer, this is an actual billboard on Melrose in LA. Does it get any worse than this?


Years ago, visiting my parents back in Pennsylvania, I noticed their local supermarket was carrying something called "Kona Pepsi." It was a new coffee-flavored Pepsi brand being tested on the shelves. And what did it taste like? Imagine someone poured you a big cup of coffee, dumped out the coffee, and then poured in Pepsi without first rinsing the mug. In other words: disgusting.

So has anyone actually tried the new Coke Blak, Coca-Cola's belated (and stupidly named) attempt at a coffee-flavored cola? Who were the geniuses that thought that would fly?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Pretty Funny Stuff

Apparently. Do you get a prize if you make it through the whole thing?

Monday, May 22, 2006

"Faster than a cheetah driving a bullet train"

This is a billboard near my house that I see from the highway all the time. It's for a phone company, and is meant to show how fast their internet connection blazes along, but the tagline drives me nuts. "Faster than a cheetah driving a bullet train?" That's just so dumb. How about "Faster than a snail driving a bullet train?" Or "Faster than a pound of feathers driving a bullet train?"

You get the point. Now if only the lazy copywriters could get it.

Lessons Learned from "The Da Vinci Code"

1) People will see anything.

2) The Christians were mobilized in full force.


So, in the mind of Baby Z., "mines" is the opposite of "yours." There's a certain logic to that, no?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Da Vinci Shit

Does anyone really give a crap about "The Da Vinci Code" movie. Yeah, I know, a lot of people have read the book. I get it. I've seen it in the airport (incidentally, the only place I've seen people reading it). It's neat that people are reading, even "The Da Vinci Code," which is about as well-written as ... OK, I'm struggling for a simile, since by all accounts it's terribly written. Regardless, just because people read the book doesn't mean they're excited about the film. The only people who seem to be excited are the media, and they're mostly excited about saying how excited everyone is. Circular? You bet.

But let's do the math, invoking the transitive property of shitty movies. Movies based on books are generally inferior to the books. "The Da Vinci Code" is by many (critical) accounts an inferior book. Therefore, it stands to reason that "The Da Vinci Code" film will be even worse.

Sure, that won't stop people from seeing it. If people didn't flock to shitty movies, there would be nothing on the big screen between May and October. But that doesn't mean they'll flock in large numbers. A lot of hullabaloo was made of the fact that the film was withheld from the press until the very last minute, an attempt to preserve the "mystery." Or just to preserve its chances of making money before the inevitable drubbing. Anyway, why did anyone think there'd be any "mystery" to the movie that's missing from the book in the first place? It's a big Hollywood production with a name director and big stars, which means not screwing with a proven formula, which means not altering the film very much from the book. Which, again, is shitty, and which anyone remotely interested in reading has read already.

So who wants to see the film? The only way it can satisfy the faithful is if it remains faithful to the book, and if it remains faithful to the book, why would fans of the book trouble themselves to see it?

As for the nutballs protesting, they probably can't read, which ironically makes them the ideal "Da Vinci Code" audience.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


My good buddy Antonia recently wrote that Axl Rose "has a back catalog impossible to beat.".

"Back catalog impossible to beat?" I don't know about that. "Appetite," perhaps, and Axl himself has been trying to beat it for decades. In fact, what was "Use Your Illusion" (which I like) if not the sound of Axl beating it for two hours (heh heh)? Now, topping it or even matching it is another matter, and without someone like Izzy on hand it'll never happen. I predict "Chinese Democracy" will be the GNR equivalent of the Clash's "Cut the Crap," minus anything as good as "This is England."

By the way, why do people act like the wait for "Chinese Democracy" has been that long? Ten years? Thirteeen years? Big deal. Some acts that have taken about as long or longer as GNR between records:

Mission of Burma
Peter Gabriel
The Soft Boys
Kate Bush
The Go-Betweens
King Crimson
John Fogerty

And these all turned out more or less OK.

Pearl Jammed (updated)

Pearl Jam was so boring last night (the first of two United Center shows) that I left early, before the encores. And as if Mike McCready's spazzy Rick Nielsen-lite behind-the-head show-off guitar soloing wasn't silly enough, last night there were even lasers. Lasers! Isn't that why grunge supposedly happened in the first place?

Also, the show reaffirmed my belief that at least in the live arena (in this case, literally), Pearl Jam fans are lame, lame, lame, a scary hybrid of party-loving hippies and beefed-up frat boys who sing along to every word yet don't seem to grasp a single thing the band is saying. (At one of the 2004 Vote for Change tours, Pearl Jam fans even booed Eddie Vedder's 'thank you' to the Dixie Chicks, as if their politics were any different from Vedder's own.) Sure, there were some great folks spread throughout the crowd, and the way the band inspires indie-level devotion on a mass scale is endearing, but I had better things to do and better people to do them near.

***THIS JUST IN*** I looked at the second night's setlist, and it was 500x better than the first night's. I like how the band shakes things up night to night, but if one night is going to get a clearly superior mix of material, then that's totally uncool.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

This is Why We're Better Off with the Internet

Especially if you're a TV obsesssive.

What a Country!

This story is amusing enough, but the real payofff is the last sentence.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Now This Is Just Taking It Too Far, Bruce!

(Courtesy Jeff V. or maybe his brother)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

I Took My Dad to See Tool

I had an extra ticket, so I took my dad with me to see Tool play one of their intimate venue warm-up shows (tix were going for $200 on eBay). He'd never seen a rock show before, or at least not in 35 years, and I figured - hey, why not start with Tool?

Did he enjoy it? Yeah, I think he did. I mean, it's Tool. They're pretty good, you know?

And before you act so disappointed in me, I know, I know: tomorrow is Mother's Day. But not today. Mom can go next time.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Army is Retarded

I wish this was a joke.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

For Those That Have Not Seen Baby Z. Recently ...

Here she is!

Grant McLennan

Grant McLennan was one of the best songwriters you never heard of, and the fact that he just died (at 48, in his sleep) in semi-obscurity is a tragedy. But over the years, both as a member Brisbane, Australia's Go-Betweens and as a solo artist, he gave so much to his dedicated fans, song after song of such beauty they were probably destined for cult status. After all, beauty is in the detail and nuance, and there's rarely room for detail and nuance on the radio.

Grant wrote dozens of great songs, but he'll forever be known best for "Cattle and Cane", by the Go-Betweens, from their second album "Before Hollywood."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

News Round-up

The fact that so many pundits are saying that Stephen Colbert's routine at the White House Press Association wasn't funny means that in actuality it was probably just funny enough. (1)

The fact that Moussaoui responded to his life sentence by shouting "America, you lose!" probably means he got the right sentence. (2)

The fact that so many people - legal and illegal immigrants alike, plus supporters - turned out en masse as a display of political forces kind of misses the point that none of those 11 million illegal immigrants can, um, legally vote. (3)

1. Admittedly, like any good satirist, Colbert was not, in fact, fall-over funny. It's called "saying it with a straight face," with Colbert the so-called "straight man." If he was all goofy, the President and anyone else offended could have just laughed and shrugged him off. Dude gave them a beat down by not doing it the easy way, and now he can go back to cable, happily martyred (if he so chooses)

2. This was one of the few good things to come out of the post 9/11-era. If Moussaoui had nothing to do with 9/11, he shouldn't be punished for it. And even if he did, he should be kept alive in solitary as one of the few people in custody with anything to do with 9/11, and therefore with any chance of illuminating just what might happen next. Then again, the guy's a total loon. The irony is that a bunch of other folks around the world who did have something to do with 9/11 will probably never stand trial, since they've been tortured beyond usefulness. What a stupid, stupid government, what with its stupid, stupid prosecutions and its stupid, stupid disregard for the power of truth over obnoxious and ineffective attempts at over-persuasion.

3. That said, if I were a politician, this is a fight I would want to stay very, very far away from. "Stealing" your way into this country in hopes of a better life is not the same as actually stealing money, or cars, or all the other flimsy analogies I've heard. As a whole, I bet illegal immigrants make very, very little money, relatively speaking, and of that little, much goes back to Mexico (or wherever). And Mexicans specifically are very, very hard working, a lot harder working than the average fat, stupid lazy American. Who, after all, is the real blight on health care/education/government/welfare. Not the 11 million immigrants, but the 270 million or so of the rest of us hypocritical and selfish losers.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Home Stretch

They called to confirm the stent removal for tomorrow. They told me to be there at 11am, and to be prepared to be there 6-7 hours (!!!!!). This is for a routine, minutes-long procedure. Why such a massive window? They claimed I was last in line, and that the time cushion would allow for them to deal with any last minute problems with the patients before them. They recommended I take a book. Thanks!

Also annoying, I'm required to have someone accompany me home. That means more than a cab. I actually need someone to walk me out. Thankfully a friend is helping out, but they make it tough. It's not like I can say, "hey, man, be ready some time between 11am and 6pm." It's like furniture delivery or something. Why they can't just call me an hour beforehand is beyond me.

Also fun to share: the cost so far - not including two urologist visits, and tomorrow's stent removal, which will be tallied up later - has already hit $20,000. Can you believe it? That's more than Baby Z. cost, and she was a c-section with five nights in the hospital. I had a routine procedure that happens dozens of times a week to thousands of people, involves no cutting and no overnight stays, and it costs about as much as a nice car. Where does all the money go?