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Replacing the Cream and the Clear with Vicks’ Vap-O-Rub September 29, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Sports.
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When you’re sick, it’s what you hope for. It’s known as that one great cough. You know, the one of which I speak. You’ve got something rattling around in the center of your chest that makes your breathing sound like the pinging on a used car you never bothered to tune up. It turns your breathing into a Darth Vader wheeze and every word you try to force out gives you the feel of a Jimmy Durante sing along in the Catskills. You try to force out some little coughs that succeed in doing nothing more than turning your chest into a California forest and sending waves of fiery pain that first grip your chest and ripple out to your extremities like some macabre pain pebble thrown into your chest pond. You know, if you can just force out that one great hacking cough and set free the large mass of gunk squatting in your esophagus, then all would be well. It’s like the reset button. You cough, the chunk frees itself and you deposit it somewhere sanitary (toilet, trash, the drink of the annoying guy next to you who insists on claiming that the words to the song are ‘Excuse me while I kiss this guy…).

Baseball is sick. The games are longer and more specialized. What was once a three hour joy in the park is now like peering over somebody’s shoulder while they play World of Warcraft. The players are all bigger, faster, stronger and it’s hardly because of new techniques in weightlifting (a science that has no real room for improvement…how many different ways can you improve moving weights up and down in a repeated manner, save for varying size and number.) Numbers are inflated, TV viewers are down and if a family wants to hit the ballpark, they need to take out a mortgage and show three forms of ID to get extra cheese on their nachos. Steroids, scandals, and Barry Bonds. It’s kind of like the gladiators of Rome before the fall: a great show (that is tainted), run by a few great people who make too much money. Baseball is sick.

Yet, for those of you who have strayed, something is brewing. The St. Louis Cardinals, a pre-season pick of many a guy whose job it is to predict things that are imminently unpredictable, are in the midst of a collapse of historical proportions. To put it simply, a week and a half ago, they were so far ahead of the teams in their division that they were trying to figure out what championship banner defined them as a person. They were figuring out what young players they can placate by giving them a few major league at bats just to justify keeping them in Hell, sorry, the minors for a few more years. Albert Pujols, their best player, was viewed with such awe that he was plotting just how he could parlay his fame into that most lucrative of businesses: a chain of do-it-yourself lipo clinics (called No-Phat Alberts). They had to win five games with 14 to play. Heck, the other teams losses could even count as wins for them. It was as sure as a date with that girl in your office who hangs out by the copy room and required just as much work.

Their collapse was quick. They haven’t won. The other teams haven’t lost. And suddenly, we are staring at a scenario where this team will have undergone the biggest choke in modern sports history. The team chasing them, the Astros, are quickly becoming media darlings. They are loaded with older guys who are all itching for one last ride into the spotlight. And the Cardinals are playing the Washington Generals to everybody they face: nameless, lackluster uncoordinated guys who just lose every night. The collapse isn’t totally complete yet..as of today, the Cards still hold a lead so slim, it’s making Nicole Ritchie jealous…but I’m here to ask one thing of this team. Choke.

I am not an Astros fan. I am not a Cardinals fan. I am a fan of baseball. And what this game needs is one good choke to free all the gook off of its’ lungs. A choke like the Cardinals are trying to create will be legendary. We can all say we watched it, much like a car wreck. And baseball always needs a good story to vault itself front and center into our nation’s consciousness. Take 1991 when the last place teams arose from futility (Braves/Twins) to take on each other in a World Series for the ages. The nation watched, the fringes watched…heck, my mother watched that one with me. Yes, it was probably to see that guy her idol Jane Fonda was shacking up with now, but still it made the game accessible to people who can’t tell a fastball from a gumball. And, St. Louis, you owe it to the game to take your choke to its’ full extent for several reasons. Nobody likes it when Hulk Hogan was crushed, beaten and driven into the mat and at the last second catches a gust of wind and emerges powerful and huffing mad to win his match. It’s just silly and annoying. And for the game you are a part of, you need to choke to save it. The negative stories surrounding it are strong and your limping into the postseason are not powerful enough to defeat them. But a scrappy group of guys from Texas, filled with cowboys about to sail into the sunset, that can actually win the whole thing, may just negate the negatives.

You need to choke, Cardinals. The story is much bigger than your pride. It’s much bigger than the 12 or so at bats your best player will get on TV. The choke is already making its’ way into the national consciousness and to deny a shot at taking baseball to everybody is just plain stupid. Plus, you reap the benefits of next year when people will watch you closely, wondering if you can do it again (Choke, that is.) Now, I’m not asking you to do it next year too…still, too early and I think we’ll have a couple of new goats to pick on by then…but now, for the game, you need to complete the collapse. Baseball is a game of history and stories told by old men to younger men about the past. You will ensure yourself of your place in history, no matter how dubious. And even though nobody talks about second place, they always discuss the horrible loser. It may take time before you’re not pointed at and mocked openly (A few years of saying somebody pulled “a Cardinal” is painful, but it fades) but years from now, ask yourself this: Would you rather be the martyr that saved the game by bringing it through the dark steroid years or the beaten fighter who won by the skin of his teeth and had nothing to show for it?

Please choke. For the future of baseball. Unlodge the loogie of negativity and make us care about baseball again. And don’t even try to make it interesting. A good cough is painful, quick and never tries too hard. So this weekend, if you can, please continue your freefall, St. Louis. Because this nation needs the game back in its’ collective conscious. The stories are only just beginning. Write them; don’t try to negate them. Your game is sick. And it needs you more than ever.

Does My Coverage Come With the MP3? September 28, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Music, Pop Culture Rants.
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I don’t know if it speaks to my taste in music or in a sudden uptick in intelligent people working in formerly “smart-barren” areas, but recently I am finding my music in the strangest of places.

Allow me to take you into my Wayback Machine first (I got it on E-bay from somebody named Peabody for a simple price of several cases of Milk Bones and nude photos of Tinkerbell I got from NastyDoggs.com). It is the late 80’s, when I was first given a CD player of my own. It was roughly the size of a small Ford F-150 and it required all my pre-pubescent strength just to move it across the room. It sputtered, it chunked and it’s LCD display was straight from the set of Doctor Who (The old one, which made 5th grade school plays look like a U2 stage show). But it was mine and the music I chose for it came from one of two locations: my friends during recess who would fill me in on the “risqué” songs their older brothers let them listen to and my uncle, who at that time was going through his awkward “ripped jean-jacket, mullet in training, moustache that looks more like food on his upper lip” phase. But I listened to it all on my UNIVAC CD player. Unfortunately that meant my music horizons were limited to 2 Live Crew imports and Dokken Cds. Not exactly a strong base to build on. Hell, I can admit that to this day whenever I hear a Dokken song, I immediately find myself checking my skin for acne, almost Pavlovian in nature.

Fast forward the machine to college. My CD player had shrunk into a CD walkman which was the holder of the latest in “Shock-Proof” Technology, which is fancy speak for a few rolls of toilet paper wrapped around it to prevent it from suffering an early death when I would drop it on the tile floor on a daily basis. (So sue me….I have poor motor skills*). And I needed a more refined collegiate place than the sand pit near the monkey bars and a dirty old Toyota truck that smelled like patchouli and Aqua Net. So I found my music on college radio. Sure, it was as dependable as a Yugo or the Mets’ pitching staff, but every once in a while, I found joy. I was one of the first on the swing bandwagon that overtook this country in the 90’s and burned out faster that a step-ball change. I even was a champion of the second grunge movement, that included Folk Implosion and Matthew Sweet, who had everything the first movement had, save the important thing that is “lasting talent.” My college radio station even let me peek in on the evolving gangsta rap scene, though it was at midnight on Saturdays, when the University powers that be were hung over from that afternoon’s “ripping good” football scrimmage. I was building my repartee and honing my abilities when it comes to discussing all things musical. Heck, I still freak out people when I, currently competing for the title of Whitest man on the Planet with Joey (sorry) Joseph Lawrence and Ben Stein, can still hold a meaningful and thought provoking conversation on 2Pac’s “All Eyez on Me” LP.

So the machine brings us back to today. And for a while, I was lost. Living in NYC, I have no access to good alternative radio and trying to find MTV2 (which I hear is trying its’ best to keep music tastes liberal) on my cable dial is an undertaking akin to solving the riddle of the Sphinx (Yeah, I know, the answer is man…It’s a metaphor…Here, have a Snickers). I’ve tried Top 40 stations, but don’t like being yelled at with crazy sound effects and ads for cars I’ll never afford. I also don’t like the TRLs of the world because it pains me to watch Vjs that remind me of the obnoxious girl who beat me out for “most spirited” in high school (Face paint shall never beat out the guy in the mascot uniform, neither here nor in a court of law.) I even try to ask bartenders in clubs what song is playing over the system, but am usually met with an expression that makes me wonder if I’m speaking Farsi. Nothing was working and I was slowly becoming that guy: The one whose music tastes peaked in college and is secretly praying for The Pixies to release a new album.

But then, as I began this post, the strangest thing occurred, I found my music in a place I never thought to look. I began finding my new list of favorite songs in commercials and as undertones to the dramatic moments on my television.

There was a time when ambient music on television was composed by disgruntled composers who never could get that big record deals. Commercial jingles were written by Barry Manilow and while, as addictive as crack, wouldn’t sound good coming out of my Ipod. (Though the Sasha and Digweed remix of “I’m stuck on Band-Aid and in a K-Hole” is currently number one in Sweden). And the only songs behind commercials were massive seventies rock hits that were chosen because of their ironical relationship to the project (Start Me Up for Windows…seriously, that took you how much money to think up? I’d have come up with that one for a Value Meal at Subway and two pints of Guiness). Yet at some point early this decade, they took the song choices out of the hands of ignoramuses and put it squarely in the palms of people who knew their music.

Now, when I see a commercial and the tune really touches my hammer, anvil and stirrup, I can shoot to my best friend, Mr. Google, and find out the artist, name of the song and have it on my Ipod before the show resumes. I no longer stay tuned for the “coming attractions” after my shows, but wait for the inevitable “Tonight’s show featured music by this guy who just a week ago was playing to half-sold bars and being paid in beer tickets and half-off wings.” And how has HBO, with every one of its’ touching “Really, seriously watch us this season” promos that feature its’ characters interacting poetically, managed to have in its’ possession a kick-ass music library?

I don’t care how it happened. I just hope it still does. Sure, I’m not buying or watching or doing anythinghttps://i1.wp.com/www.glurp.com/ecwebstuff/hem.jpg the ads are telling me to do, but I am validating the artists who feel they’ve sold out by championing their music to anyone who will listen. Take the TIAA-Cref commercial. They might be an insurance company. Or something with stocks. Or maybe a group that’s sponsoring a Pay It Forward PSA. I don’t care. The commercial itself is depressing in nature (The people you help will do nothing good in their lives, but sorry souls who witness your kindness may just let you pull out in front of them in traffic.) But the song that accompanies it, which is Hem’s “Half Acre,” is amazing. It’s just a lilting sweet voice over what may be a banjo singing about life and loss. Now, I will probably never afford insurance and will never let a car pull out in front of me, but this song is now in permanent rotation on my I-pod. And I got it from a commercial.

Two years ago, it was HBO, who in advertising their Empire Falls movie, chose to score the pictures to Snow Patrol’s “Run.” Now, I’ll admit I didn’t have eight hours of my life to commit to a film that featured Ed Harris not drunk and evil and Paul Newman’s swan song role that looked strangely like the guy who roams my neighborhood always asking for “an extra Newport.” But the song is amazing. Those Brits sure know how to do haunting and depressing all wrapped up in something that sounds vaguely uplifting. And now Snow Patrol is everywhere…well, at least everywhere currently not inundated with Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco.

And it’s everywhere now. I am constantly purchasing I-tunes tracks that I find interesting and enchanting over a 30-second clip of people smiling because they’ve taken an anti-impotence pill or strange rubber people dancing in Gap clothes. My college radio station may have fuzzed out and my uncle is now trying to rock a strange Vin Diesel/ Tony Soprano hybrid. But I don’t need them anymore. I have nuggets of joy between “Head-On: Apply Directly to the Forehead” and promos for “Dancing, Singing, and Doing Laundry With the Stars All While Going to Starbucks in a Prius.”

So don’t turn away from promos and commercials because your new favorite song may be propping up the ad wizards at Apple or Cheetos. Okay, maybe not Cheetos. That cheetah seems to be doing fine.

Everything I Needed To Know I May Have, Possibly, Maybe Learned at The Multiplex This Summer September 22, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants.
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I usually wait to make bold proclamations until I’m sure they are unequivocalably and irrefutably true. I’m the guy who hangs out in the corner during the Super Bowl and doesn’t cheer until his team is sitting on the ball with two minutes left. I am the antithesis of the networks of 2000 who were so quick to declare a winner so they could send us all to bed. In retrospect, they were right, but more than a few people woke up the next morning checking the Classifieds and trying to hastily write resumes. I won’t even so much as commit to attending events and parties until I’m sure that there hasn’t been a major catastrophe (natural disaster, subway breakdown, personal illness, concerns over what hairstyle defines me as a person) and even then I usually announce my attendance by actually showing up.

So this may be a little bit late in saying, but I’m pretty sure I can announce that SUMMER IS OVER. Sure, there are a few kids who yet haven’t bought some rubber cement for maximum booger making in school and I still have to admit to myself that it’s time to pack away my cargo shorts, but with New York’s temperature doing “The Little Engine That Could” and huffing and puffing it’s way above 68 degrees, I think it’s safe to declare it done.

And that means an end to the summer movie season. The big budget explosions and life long dreams we geeks have of just who is meant to play the third rate comic book second banana we all worship are gone. Big cast comedies and rehashed sequels will slink into their garages and try again next summer. And Steven Seagal will wake up, turn off his alarm and go back to sleep. We’re already seeing the first vestiges of the fall season (The Rock as inspiration?!?!…movies about dancing that involve uncoordinated white kids?!?!?…A sequel to The Grudge, because Sarah Michelle Gellar is such a nation wide phenomenon that we must now how things turn out?!?!?!) and we must take this time to reflect.

But in these world changing times of war, economic downturns and Yanni albums, we look to the movies not just for escape, but to serve as a big beacon to lead us through the storm tossed seas of life (Yes, I have an English degree, majoring in obvious metaphor) And this summer has shown us all the state of our fair country and in the words of Timbuk 3, “We’re doing all right…the future’s so bright…yada yada…something about shades.”

1) WE’RE READY FOR EVERYTHING

The past few summers have tried to prepare us for Armageddon. The weather wins in Day After Tomorrow. The killer survives in Saw. The villains survive in comic book movies. And the zombies may not win, but the heroes are still trapped in a newer, zombie filled America. But this summer we showed we are prepared. Maybe not for weather (Yes, yes, we heard you, Mr. Gore. Here’s some Skittles. Have a seat.), but if and when there’s snakes on a plane, we got this. When evil computer geniuses try to take over the world, we have just the men to stop them (even though it’s a couch jumping Scientologist with a penchant for the word “glib,” we’ll take what we can get). And most of all, when the insects rise up against us, we have children so trained in insect warfare that he will save a colony. Yup, this summer has taught us that we can do it all. Except watch Jack Black as a Mexican wrestler, but seriously, what nation, nay, what society can do that anyway?

2) WE’RE LOVING THE BOOTY

I think that Pirates of the Caribbean 2 made roughly a little more than the GNP of almost every European country, save Switzerland (How can you not make money with tiny knives, chocolate, cheese and Swatch watches?). We all saw the movie, a sequel to another movie (based on a Disney ride..meaning Space Mountain: The Return is surely on the horizon) and ticket receipts would mean we probably saw it more than once. And I have a theory as to why.

It’s all about the word “booty.” That word has taken on a meaning that we are powerless to stop. I mean, J. Lo alone has turned the word into a flashbulb. We hear it in any conversation and our ears prick up like deer that notice the cracked twig a hunter steps on in the distance. It is the ultimate in a word that may seem dirty, but really isn’t. Kind of like bitch or ass, which 5th graders are quick to point out when caught using them (“But mom, I was talking about the dog next door” or the Midwest variant “But Mom, I was talking about the put-upon pack animal they use on McGillicuddy’s farm.”) And we all know we are a nation of fifth graders, and if the opportunity arises for us to identify with “booty,” we flock to it like moths to a flame. Pirates are always chasing booty. They crave the booty. They even nonchalantly talk about how they have booty stashed all over the world. Hollywood already has take notice to this: Prepare yourself for “Pussy.” The film about cats trying to make it in the sewers of New York is already green lit. And somewhere, in the dark of a depressed comedy club, George Carlin is already spinning in the grave he isn’t quite in yet.

3) FUNNY IS UNPREDICTABLE

I was one of the many who finally accepted Will Ferrell’s comedic skills as being relative to a radioactive element. They explode at first, releasing their radiation among all of us. And at first, it’s powerful. We bow to it’s ability and use it to fuel everything we can think of. But it breaks down, losing half of it’s ability with each passage of time, until it is nothing more than a rock, that we can point at and say, “Remember when this could run my car, my turbine or my late night comedy sketch show?” Will Ferrell was U-238 and his final shot was Bewitched. If you watched closely, you could see the comedy flicker away like a broken light bulb that’s trying its’ best to give you a few more second of luminescence while you finish the article by Chuck Klosterman in Rolling Stone.

I thought this was law: after all, how could science prove me wrong? But then he came out with Talladega Nights and I was wrong. Apparently, comedy has no set rules of fading. Instead it has scientific needs: pressure, time and the right circumstances.

Take the aforementioned Jack Black for example. He was still in his heat radiating stage when he made Nacho Libre. You had the rules in place…Over the top actor, director fresh from a cult comedic film that is climbing up the “Most Quoted Films” chart, and Mexican Wrestling, which has more potential for comedy than Steve Irwin (oooooh…too soon?). And yet, the film had less laughs than Beaches which had the double whammy of female bonding and terminable disease. It just goes to show that comedy has no rules whatsoever. Except maybe that we will always laugh at Southern stereotypes (provided they aren’t being portrayed by Johnny Knoxville or a Baldwin brother).

4) WE BE SMART

This summer, more than before, gave us things to think about. Sure, The Davinci Code didn’t break the records they predicted (except overseas, where the French were ecstatic that they can finally see Audrey Tautou in a movie where she doesn’t just bite her lower lip and cutely coo at the camera) but we still flocked to a movie based on a book based on a series of puzzles and mysteries.

We even paid money to see a two hour seminar by a guy who couldn’t even win a simple popularity contest (Finished with your Skittles yet, Al?). I mean, An Inconvenient Truth should not have made money. It’s the film equivalent of that class you tried to skip because the teacher scheduled it at 9 am. But yet, we all saw and what’s more, we even inspired the makers to further promote it on MTV. Maybe we are intelligent beings who want to change our planet. Or maybe we just thought the title meant it was a soft core porn thriller starring a WB starlet and some guy from a Boy Band. If so, though, it means we were inferring and drawing on past experiences, which still makes us smart, by the standards of the rats who stop pushing the electric button for their cheese in scientific experiments.

5) WE WILL SEE MOVIES…WITHOUT TV

This summer there was no cutting edge reality that made us stay home. For the last four years, there has always been some inane premise that drew us to the TV. Maybe it was strange golddiggers looking for husbands. Maybe it was the promise of people doing stunts that would embarrass their long dead ancestors. But for some reason, we stopped going to movies because we could be wowed, disgusted and validated by simply clicking on our television.

And this summer, the shows were weak. Even Rock Star, which cleaned up last summer, trotted out a superband that did nothing more than make us pine for the days of Damn Yankees. We will all go to films to be entertained in the summer if we can’t get it at home. Why do you think Starbucks, brunch places and those brothels we see on HBO in night vision are so popular?

Sure, this summer may have taught us much more, but we as a movie going public bonded these last few months. Let’s hope next summer’s just as good. Though if the rumored “Survivor: Deserts of Iraq” gets made, we might as well just superglue our asses to the couch now.

We Interrupt This Broadcast For….Poo-Flinging Monkeys September 19, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Pop Culture Rants, TV.
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We live on an exciting world. Far off cultures, mysterious untouched regions, majestic natural phenomenon and cheese fries. All in all, a place that should inspire each and every one of us.

But the nightly news, bringing us this vibrant living planet and packaging it into two minute sound bites and theme music obviously plucked from John Williams’ trash can, is boring. Night after night, it’s the same stories. Twenty minutes of war, debate, molasses slow government policy, and whatever news story they deem “breaking.” Sometimes, we are thrown a bone of excitement to gnaw on just so we don’t try to commit suicide by repeatedly viewing Gigli without Dramamine. Maybe it’s a celebrity baby or something funny a wild animal did while somebody was videotaping it. But the stories are all the same and usually delivered by a man in a suit purchased at Men’s Warehouse (Come on, doesn’t it look good?…I mean, they freakin’ guaranteed it.) reading from a teleprompter and trying not to wake us from our slumber. The same photos on every network, the same talking heads tossing in their two cents. And yes, no cheese fries. Believe me, I’ve been waiting.

Two networks have tried to jazz up our news recently. Each, however, has taken two paths that, while promising, still leave us with little in the way of a news cast on par with our world’s stimulating persona (Well, everywhere except Lichtenstein…BORING!).

Picture the state of world newscasts as a high school homeroom class (WARNING: You are about to experience a metaphor. Those without a sense of irony or the ability to see things in a different light or slant, please leave. Here’s a Ziggy cartoon. I’ll call you when I’m finished.) You have the media represented by the teacher, whose daily job is to inform us of auditions for Grease, pep rally specifics, changes in tax codes, worldwide genocide of indigenous cultures, Future Farmers of America cupcake sale, etc. And while that may be enough to get the news out, most people in the class aren’t paying attention because the teacher is, well, boring. And I’m talking episodes of NYPD Blue without Dennis Franz’s ass boring. And the two networks jazzing up our view of the news are seated at opposite ends of the classroom.

In the back of the room is Jon Stewart’s Daily Show. He relays the news he hears to us like a snarky class clown, mumbling pithy re-interpretations under his breath. He makes the room laugh out loud, often unbeknownst to the teacher who continues blathering on about swim team tryouts. In the front of the room is CBS’ Katie Couric, smiling and perky like the brown-nosing cheerleader. She peppers her interpretation to a far wider audience and with a glint of sexiness in her eye. She smiles and gleefully relays the news, no matter how dour it may seem. Goooooooo American Foreign Policy!

(Hey, metaphor haters. Come on back. Just leave the Ziggy cartoon next to your copy of ‘All I Ever Needed to know I learned in Kindergarten.)

But what about the rest of us in the center of the room? We just want to hear what the teacher’s saying but really can’t understand over our own snores and the incessant cheering and pom-poming of Katie in the front row. We want our news with excitement, verve and life and death situations. We want the news to represent the world we live in. We want the delivery to pick us up from our humdrum lives and place us in the center of the action, much like Geraldo, but without the moustache and strange helmet that passes for his hair nowadays.

Many countries have tried nudity to spice up their news. But we here in America live in a world where a second of Janet Jackson’s breast can cause rioting, mass suicide and the general breakdown of all social precepts. Sound effects? The slide whistle would fit great into most network terror coverage and that “Wha-wha” sound that accompanies failure in Warner Bros. Cartoons would be perfect for every meaningful social change related bill that fails in Congress. Problem there is that the slide whistle market has been cornered by hack birthday clowns and the ‘Wha-wha” sound is deemed illegal by the Patriot Act. (Seriously, it’s somewhere between wiretapping and massive torture.) And don’t even think of suggesting any sort of set modifications, like chained lions and roving deadly laser beams. When I want my gratuitous over the top deathmatches and peril, I watch Fear Factor or Gilmore Girls (Lorelei’s wit should be a deadly weapon..MEOUCH!

So where does that leave us? Two words come to mind: Guest Co-Anchors.

Leave the newsmen right where they are, but pair them with a celebrity. It works for the MTV awards, which has made a career of strange bedfellows as presenters. Imagine the people who will flock to and appreciate “NBC Evening News with Brian Williams and Samuel L. Jackson. And prepare yourself for the train wreck that could be Tim Gunn trying to report on the recent developments in the Middle East all while trying out his new slogan, “Peace…Make It Happen.”

Sure, it may seem gimmicky, but think of how busy your local bar is on Guest Bartending nights. Sure, we’re there to support our friends, but isn’t the true humor in watching them fail miserably at a career so easy that Tom Cruise can look smooth while doing it. They still have to make the drinks you ask for, so they follow some sort of rules. And don’t we all get drunk at the end of the night regardless of how the drinks are poured. And the Guest co-Anchor could do the same. Have them read from the tele-prompter and still report as objectively as possible. Sure, they may butcher the words or always seem two steps away from breaking into a personal rant, but we’ll still get the news. And nothing is more exciting than knowing that at any minute, you can have the chance to watch Britney Spears utter the words “Government is Awesome, y’all.”

And when we run out of celebrities (slated to happen in 2014, around the release of Amazing Race: The Movie), bring in normal folks to guest. I think the news would taste so much sweeter from the mouth of my 65 year old shirtless neighbor who still complains about the Eisenhower administration. And if you can’t find people, then why not monkeys? I mean, how can you not watch a newscast when throughout a daily recap of the White House press briefing there is the possibility of poo being launched in the air. Gross and crude, yes, but poignant? Oh, I think so, Mr. News Executive guy.

But start with celebrity guest anchors before reaching out to the Primate loving Poo Demographic. If we can get Oprah to read the news every once in a while, all of America might get a car. And I think there is no better way to reward James Earl Jones for his hard work in the “booming voice of cartoon patriarchs” industry than by having him thunder out the words, “In Suri Cruise news today…” Almost makes you shudder in anticipation, doesn’t it?

So you can have your snarky sarcasm on Comedy central or your newscast so sweet, my dentist requires I chew Trident while watching it. Me, I’ll be waiting for Greta Van Sustren and Martha Stewart. “Stiffer gun control laws being passed, it’s a good thing.” Or the cast of MTV’s Pimp My Ride showing how they changed French foreign policy with some rims, a new set of woofers and diplomacy, biatch. And if Lil Jon can end a report with “Taliban troops retreating…Ya heard?” then consider the newscast officially unboring.

And then you’ll find me, championing newscasts and not berating them.

Pass the cheese fries.

Wish I Had Closed My Eyes. Wished I Had Fallen Asleep. I Saw it Babe, and I Didn’t Miss a Thing. September 16, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants.
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Mashups are huge right now. And I’m not talking pre-Jenny Craig Kirstie Alley huge. I’m talking the Macarena-before-we-realized-it-made us-all-look-retarded huge. Everybody who is anybody is doing mashups. Mostly, it is the byproduct of people who are clever, stoned and bored (Meaning it will never be tried by a member of Congress because they’re never clever). It is almost criminal in it’s simplicity. Take two unrelated things and combine them. But try to include some sort of pithy or relevant pun. Like taking G.W. Bush’s 9/11 speech and setting it to Prodigy’s “Firestarter.” (Burning Bush…get it?) Or disguising a political statement in a movie about zombies (Romero’s “Land of the Dead,” with Dennis Hopper as the best presidential clone since Will Ferrell’s “I shall name him Superdude”.)

And it is that vein that I begin my rant today. We, as an entertainment starved public, had our first mashup way back in 1998 without even noticing it. We immediately dismissed it as just another “loud explosions, cheesy throwaway line” type of movie. But, over time and repeated watchings (usually on Starz!- the ugly ex-girlfriend of networks, meaning nobody how bad you were, it will give you a second chance) I have begun to realize that Michael Bay’s Armageddon was a mashup of epic proportions. Yup, while we were distracted by explosions and Ben Affleck’s almost criminal mugs to the camera, we were witness to the first male “chick flick” movie.

Let me begin by saying that I HATE Michael Bay. And it’s not a tiny hate, but a festering melanoma of disdain that grows with every day. This is just more to me than the guy who robbed me of ten dollars and made me suffer an ass cyst while watching Bad Boys II (which I watched hoping to be entertained, but instead got a two and a half hour practice session for Will Smith’s eventual Oscar nomination). No, my hate goes out to the fact that somebody is profiting off the fact that he knows men will watch things blow up, regardless if the physics behind them is unbelievable to a three year old with knowledge learned from a Highlights magazine. He has bastardized a genre that I once held dear and turned into nothing more than a chance for broke “actor’s actors” to collect the paycheck that enables them to do stage plays they wished they’d been cast in in college.

With that said, I applaud him for Armageddon. Not because he stretched himself on some sort of limb, but because of the wool he pulled over on all the men treating their popcorn like an underpaid whore. We saw Bruce Willis and assumed we’d get an action flick packed tighter than Anna Nicole’s brassiere. And we did, but Master Bay also baptized us into the chick flick pantheon. And we bought it hook, line and stinker.

The “chick flick” itself has a few standard stereotypes that seem to dominate the genre. You can have a) the doomed relationship between two diametric opposites, b)the almost insurmountable odds the main characters have to overcome, c)the awkward, almost forced, humor that arises from said situations, d) the perfectly created scenario that leads to the character’s acceptance of one another and e)the final salvo that is meant to illicit gallons of tears from it’s viewing audience. To complete the package with a sappy, feminine bow, you add a death scene, some tertiary comedic characters and set it all to some sort of musical anthem that boatloads of people identify with (and buy en masse at their local Sam Goody). Sometimes it’s a relationship between stuffy guy and happy-go-lucky girl that gets these criteria placed upon them. Sometimes it’s the long lasting but ultimately doomed childhood friendship. But all in all, each chick flick has some of these rules splattered throughout them. That and Renee Zellweger, Meryl Streep or a Baldwin brother as the “guy you’re not sure is on the level.”

Take those rules, in all their double “X” chromosome bravura, and you have a “chick flick.” Now take those rules and apply them to Armageddon and tell me that you don’t have a “chick flick,” albeit one with a meteor, gratuitous bra covered bosoms and a few cameos by “manly men.” Michael Bay was following the guidelines step by step, yet decided to crush his “chick flick” pill into a few spoonfuls of “blown up real good” jelly. Armageddon hits all the major points- the strange like and dislike Willis/Affleck relationship, the dynamics of Liv Tyler’s heroine (who still never explained to us why she gave up her immortality for Ben…oh, wait, wrong movie), the major “Don’t Miss a Thing” anthem and the tearjerking salvo that results when Will Patton’s kid comes flying around the corner in slo-mo with a Verne Troyer sized NASA rocket (If you didn’t mist up there, check your soul…you may be incapable of any sort of feeling, or possibly Republican)

So, okay, you say, Armageddon’s a guy movie that follows the “chick flick” rules, but so did Jerry Maguire and Swingers and Chasing Amy (though that last film was made so Kevin Smith could shack up with lesbians.) The difference and the sheer fact that makes it a mashup is thus: the premise itself is so decidedly un “chick flick.” No producer, director or guy that runs the catering between trailers could ever assume that a film about mankind’s eminent destruction by a meteor could be pigeonholed into chick flickability. You could never hope to serve up a film about a doomed relationship that ultimately survives against a big ass rock. But Armageddon does. And we didn’t even notice it. We merely saw explosions, big budget casting and puns so bad that Buddy Hackett rose from his grave and chastised them before returning to his coffin and telling a story about Joan Rivers. Armageddon is the first mash-up because it combined two things we’d never thought could go together and it did it so well that we barely noticed. And if science has thought me anything (other than the Periodic table, which I use to write dirty notes…9-92-6-19), it is that the world is always susceptible to viruses in sheep’s clothing. Us guys watch that movie and cheer it’s disregard for taste and property without realizing that we’re cheering for Harry (Affleck) to meet Sally (Tyler or the asteroid, depending on what school of antagonistic thought you belong to.)

So, with all this mashup hysteria, we missed the first shot. Michael Bay made a movie that follows the criteria: two things that would never be together (Explosion laded action films and subtle “vagina cinema”) and mashed them up for our enjoyment. And for this, and this only, I applaud him.

Though if he makes Bad Boys III, I’m kicking his ass. And I won’t miss a thing.