Thursday August 25, 2005
I have another thing up at Radar today. With the VMAs just days away, I looked into the goody bag from this summer’s MTV Movie Awards to determine—via charity catalogs from Good Gifts and Heifer International—what it would be worth to people who might really need it. For instance, did you know that for the price of one Missoni floral print hat, you could buy a camel for African nomads? Or that two bottles of Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia could provide a Bolivian family with a wool-bearing llama? True, the Cuervo is better for coaxing Tara Reid out of her dress, but why is that a good thing again?
Wednesday August 24, 2005
This has to be the worst cover line to ever appear on an English-language publication. I thought for sure this was about some sort of sex scandal involving Pat Robertson. (In truth, the story is about Robertson wanting to off, that is “terminate,” Hugo Chavez.) Note to the AM New York copy desk: When coining a witty neologism, make sure it can be pronounced in the language in which your paper is published. Televanginator? Say that three times fast. Televaginators, on the other hand, are already widely available online. Probably.
Tuesday August 23, 2005
Things have been hectic, so I haven’t had a chance to acknowledge my birthday, which was last Thursday. As close readers will recall, Christian Slater (the actor) and I were born on the same day. Not just on the same date—a date shared by personages as varied as Robert Redford and Roman Polanski—but on the exact same day in history: August 18th, 1969—two days after Woodstock, a month after the first moon landing.
I have been living in his shadow ever since.
I didn’t even know this—that I was living in Christian Slater’s shadow—until 1989, when I was … I mean, when we both were … 20. That was the year Slater appeared in the cult film Heathers with the always lovely and permanently pixified Winona Ryder, while I spent the year changing my major from political science to psychology at an unremarkable Midwestern university and coaching a country club swim team. Slater’s shadow seemed very long then—chilly even. It was like that for years.
Slater appeared in Kuffs and I went off to graduate school. Slater turned up in True Romance—nailing the provocatively slack-jawed Patricia Arquette in a phone booth—and I got a job at a bookstore. Slater starred in Very Bad Things, I stopped smoking pot in the morning, and so on.
But last week, on our 36th birthday, I realized that the unthinkable had happened. After years of a narrowing gap—during which time Slater appeared in Windtalkers, and I stayed out of jail—and for the first time in our life, I had had a better year than Christian Slater. A much better year. Sure, 1997—when Slater was sentenced to three months in prison for punching his girlfriend in the face had been close, and 2003—when he was beaten in full view of patrons of the Hard Rock Cafe by his wife Ryan Haddon—was a near draw, but those years hadn’t been so great for me either. He, at least, was famous.
This year, however, I think I’ve pulled ahead. Last November, I moved into a great Park Slope apartment with my lovely girlfriend Alexandra, while Slater received mixed reviews in The Glass Menagerie at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Last week, I left my fulltime job to freelance from the same great Park Slope apartment, while Slater was recently pinched for “grabbing” and “squeezing” a strange woman’s buttocks on the Upper East Side. I win. Hands down.
Now if I could only have a better year than Ed Norton, my birthday would be all mine.
Monday August 22, 2005
Today Radar posts an item I did for them to herald the beginning of the television season. With the networks struggling to hold on to their dwindling audience, we decided broadcast television needed a new image, and we asked three ad agencies to make suggestions. Here is JWT/N.Y.’s contribution, which positions the networks—quite accurately, it seems to me—as “Dirty Enough.” See the full article for executions by Amalgamated and the Wexley School for Girls.
Tuesday August 09, 2005
Land-Grant College Review co-editor Josh Melrod—who was kind enough to include a story of mine in issue No. 2—writes to tell me that issue No. 3 has been dispatched to the printer. And it looks like a real gullywasher, with new stories by Frederick Barthelme, Kenneth Bernard, Lewis Buzbee, Brock Clarke, Evan Lavender-Smith, Padgett Powell, Joan Silber, Terese Svoboda, Mary Swan, and Diane Williams, plus cover art and title pages by Marilyn Holsing. You can, and should, preorder it here.
During Democratic administrations, things are relatively easy for the Federal Communications Commission. All it has to do is bow to corporate interests by dismantling ownership caps, public interest requirements and what not. But during Republican administrations, especially ones as indebted to the Christian right as the current one, the Commission’s job becomes twice as complicated. Now it has to bow to corporate interests and to the hysterical dictates of Brent Bozell and the Parents Television Council. Doing both at the same time can be difficult, if not impossible, and current gridlock at the FCC suggests that they might be on a collision course.
According to TV Week (free registration required), 524 of the 1,300 commercial TV station licenses currently in circulation are awaiting renewal but are being delayed pending the outcome of indecency investigations. Apparently, the commission is waiting to rule on renewals until indecency issues are resolved because renewing a station’s license requires the body to rule on any outstanding questions within one year of renewal. This, of course, makes the PTC very happy—“We have certainly made a very public case that until outstanding indecency complaints are adjudicated, broadcasters should not have their licenses renewed,” says Tim Winter, PTC’s executive director—and the National Association of Broadcasters very sad, since stations can’t be bought and sold unless their licenses are renewed. No one from the NAB is quoted in the article, but several unnamed “industry attorneys” chime in about what one calls “an extension of the madness that’s going on with indecency.”
Pair that with the fact that the White House needs to appoint two Republican commissioners to restore a Republican majority—a process that TV Week predicts won’t get started until at least September—and it’s clear that the FCC won’t be settling down to the business of dismantling ownership caps and public interest requirements anytime soon, perhaps not until next year.
Personally, I never bet against Mammon. I have every confidence that deregulation will continue apace eventually, but at what cost to Bush’s—and chairman Kevin Martin’s—morally conservative, and vocal, base? They’ve held the floor since Nipplegate, after all, and it’s unlikely that they’ll return to their seats quietly.
Monday August 08, 2005
Friend of Hanasiana Ryan Creed claims to be Anderson Cooper’s biggest fan. And, after seeing the airbrushed homage he commissioned at some South Philly t-shirt emporium, I can hardly disagree. Click here for a much closer look.
“Oh, by the way,” the Creed confides in an email. “I’m insane.”
Friday August 05, 2005
I was glad to hear that a Lance Armstrong biopic is in the works, possibly starring Matt Damon. I mean, aside from the fact he beat testicular cancer, won the Tour de France seven times, spawned a yellow bracelet epidemic and divorced his wife and hooked up with Sheryl Crow, what do we really know about this guy? … To paraphrase my old colleague Chris Davis, evolution might only be a theory, but creationism is only a myth. … David Mustaine, the Pete Best of Metallica, demonstrates why he’s the Pete Best of Metallica. … Wingnuts escape to the future in search of a liberal conspiracy to oppress them.
Blogger Cybersoc points to a new BBC News report and suggests that “toothing” is alive and well in the Middle East, as kids skirt prohibitions on talking openly to one another. So toothing was not a hoax?
No, “toothing” as originally reported by BBC News, among others—the BBC being notable for the fact that its toothing story, filled with quotes from a source that doesn’t exist, is still online, unchanged—remains a hoax. And the fact that young people in the Middle East and India use Bluetooth to flirt is way old news. Is it “toothing”? You can call it anything you want, but it’s not the story that Wired News was obliged to retract or the one (to my knowledge) the BBC has yet to correct.
Thursday August 04, 2005
Dukes of Hazzard is finally here, and—surprise—it sucks. It sucks so bad that a Variety review classified as positive by Rotten Tomatoes reads, “Assuming that someone was determined to remake this mediocre but iconic TV show, this is probably as good as it’s going to get.”
I have not seen the movie, but based on the trailer I’m interested in the groundbreaking work Jessica Simpson seems to have done in the field of terrible Southern accents. I’ve only heard one line—something about her “undercarriage”—but it sounds truly awful. This is quite a feat, of course, since Simpson is from Abilene. It must take a special kind of voice coach to help you botch your own dialect.
Wednesday August 03, 2005
Farivar devotes a full paragraph to the toothing hoax and its methods—with several links to source material—but no link back here to the post that provoked the pranksters to come forward. What’s up with that? Is there no honor among debunkers of inconsequential faux trends? And what does this tell us about the current state of para-journalism? Jim? Jack? Anybody?
UPDATE: Cyrus Farivar, who is evidently some sort of mensch, writes in to say, “I did have your name and a link in previous versions of that piece, which were subsequently edited out—I tried man, I tried.” Try you did, Cyrus, and that’s good enough for me. I’ll remember you—and single you out by name—the next time someone tries to tell me it’s impossible to keep your nose clean and head up in this crazy, mixed up sphere we call blog.
Here, it appears in a poster for the forthcoming comic masterpiece Deuce Bigalow, European Gigolo. It feels like Seattle after Nirvana broke, doesn’t it? Things will never be the same.
Now that Pisa is so totally mainstream, hardcore Pushers might want to consider playing perspectival tricks with more obscure tourist attractions, like the recently erected “Touchdown Jesus” of Monroe, Ohio. Be sure to bring a friend.