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Are You Talking to Me?….Because I Can’t See you Through My Cataracts November 24, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants.
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There is a scene in Michael Mann’s Heat. You know the one.

Mann decided to have the two titans of acting prowess, Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, share their first bit of screen time in a diner. The scene was not guns ablazing or a shouting match of epic proportions. Instead, he turned the two men into my grandparents at the early bird special. They sat around and discussed the meaning of life and crime. It was like the money shot in a method actor’s porn film. People fast forwarded to the scene and watched it over and over. Truly, not much going on in the rest of the film you can’t find anywhere else (though if you freeze it just right, you do get some Natalie Portman boobage). Yet the scene encapsulates what has happened to both of these men. Their guns don’t blaze much anymore. And their shouts always seem to be covered in some sort of thick cigarette fueled lubrication. All their films seem to take place in a subdued diner now.

In sports, when a player reaches a certain age, he retires. It’s a wild combination of ego and the realization that their arms and legs now have the strength of pipe cleaners. But some stick around a little too long like THAT guy at the party. We try asking them to leave. We try telling them to leave. We even try turning on all the lights and playing our entire collection of Raffi albums, that we “say” we bought for the nephew that doesn’t exist. But they hang around, asking for more beer or nachos, or in the athlete’s case, one more chance at glory. Though most of these elderly athletes didn’t take physics in college and don’t realize that it is scientifically proven that younger athletes are quicker, faster and stronger, it isn’t great for their legacy when you watch Jerry Rice huffing and puffing down the field like a fat smoker after a Mickey D’s lunch.

Now acting has no real age limit. You can keep going as long as your body holds up. I mean, they propped up Marlon Brando and fed him some Oreos and he was acting up until about twenty minutes before his death. There’s very little physical work for you in acting. They rarely let anybody with talent do their stunts (less you are Tom Cruise, who uses a complex wiring system and magical Scientology voodoo.) And complain as you may, actors, brow furrowing and brooding are not dangerous activities (unless you are peter Gallagher, whose eyebrows killed six interns and a camera guy on the set of The OC, when the script called for him to “look upset.”) Actors can go on for a while. But the talent can fade. The generations change. The scripts start disappearing. Couple all of those, and suddenly, a maverick pantheon of an actor can look like he’s just holding on. Looking for one more chance in the spotlight before EW does a cheery remembrance piece on them (after the latest Lindsay/Bruce photos.)

So, it is with a heavy heart and scared reverence, I say to you, Mr. Pacino and Mr. DeNiro, it is time to hang them up.

Each of you has nothing left to do. You each won your prizes and garnered your nominations. You are synonymous with acting. And the pieces you each excelled at for many years (Italian gangster films and anti-establishment eccentrics exploding against The Man) are dated. The gangsters are all Eastern European and we have enough people on our evening news railing against all sorts of The Men every night on our network news. Think about it. Your last few films each have been sub-par. Sure, Mr. DeNiro, you’ve re-invented yourself as a comedic straight man playing against nebbish Jewish stock actors, but do I need Travis Bickle, an icon of depression, wearing fake mammaries? And Mr. Pacino, one word, Gigli. I rest my case.

In what may be typical of somebody hanging on, you may point to your other recent works. And while you tried to pair yourself with an a-list director and a fabulous script in Insomnia, Mr. Pacino, and did well, the film succeeded in one thing: making Robin Williams look creepy and disturbed (A fact I was already aware of, due to his obscene amount of back hair). And for all the disturbed parents and secret killers you try to intersperse throughout your burgeoning straight man career, Mr. DeNiro, one small, but important fact will remain. In The Departed, the recent film by the yin to your yang that is Martin Scorsese, he didn’t cast you as the evil Irishman. He trotted out your friend Jack Nicholson. And while he may not have your chops, he is now the go-to guy for evil elderly mobsters. Hollywood has spoken. When they need evil, they call Jack. When they need man boobs and sciatica jokes, they call you. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of your skills.

You will be missed, don’t worry there. But the time has come. Your upcoming films have promise, but beyond that, I worry if the writers aren’t just giving you scripts and playing on past glories. One great speech or the chance to work with hot, up and coming actors, so you look aged and accomplished by comparison isn’t acting. It’s how they sell fruit in C-grade bodegas. Bait and switch. Each of you were overshadowed on screen the last time you tried working on screen with “hot” young actors.. Mr. DeNiro, you were out acted by Dakota Fanning, which I will allow, but again, Mr. Pacino, it is impossible, nay, a breakdown of cosmic order, if somebody says, in comparison, “Wow! Ben Affleck is good.”

Gentlemen, you are both sports fans and you know how it pains all fans to watch their heroes limp across the field or ride the bench, playing second fiddle to somebody who may not be better, but is younger and faster. It is not failure. It is not quitting. It is Darwinism. It is the natural order of things. And to two actors who probably gave us the best portrayals of Satan on film, it is evil. But it’s life.

If you want to go out with a bang, take only one, maybe two, more films. But make sure they have brooding, yelling, the words “Hoo” and “Ha” together in order and at least one more scene. Because if you do heed my advice, we should get one more chance to see you work with each other. Without stale coffee and waffles. Leave those to the newbies. Your horses are ready and the sunset is waiting.

Mysteries Revealed…With No Help From You, Chutes and Ladders! November 17, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Pop Culture Rants.
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I won 3 times at Clue! last night.

And what is important is not just that I completed a perfect board game perfecta, but in just the manner of how I won.

Three games, three guesses, winning right out of the gate. The odds against that are astronomical. One game, it can be done. Two games, lucky streak. But three games is bordering on hit by lightning, winning the lottery, Joe Esterhaus writing a script without lesbian innuendo im-poss-ible. Yet, I know there is something more to it. Something that luck, chance and their bastard cousin improbability had nothing to do with.

Yup, I have realized that I may just very well be the greatest intuitive mind in history, rife with detectivity (A new word – use it, trade it with friend, put it on your salad instead of Bacos, what have you.) I could feel the board. I could see in the minds of the motley crew assembled at the mansion. I could feel the tension in Colonel Mustard, the wry sexuality in Miss Scarlett masking her crime. I could sense every inch of the Conservatory; smell the fresh blood on the lead pipe. My mind is wired for detectiving (Another new word – start getting them out there…I smell catch phrase!) and it is because of that that I am now dedicating my life to solving the great unsolved mysteries of our time.

Since the death of Robert Stack and the Fox network’s transformation into American Idol central, there is no outlet for unsolved crime shows anymore. Every once in a while, Court TV or the History Channel will try to break the great crimes of our generation down to some sound bites and news clips, but seriously, nobody watches those stations (Though take away Shark Week and watch our nation’s soul crumble.) It is a daunting task, I know, but one that my newly found skills have been itching to try.

So, here I am, aiming as high as possible. And my skills hope to solve the greatest unsolved mystery they can think of. Not who put the bom in the bom sha bom sha bom (It was actually a collective effort by the Communist Russian government to infiltrate American teens by distracting them with fancy dances.) Nor is it the mystery of just why Jennifer Lopez still gets acting work (Two words: Nice ass.) No, today, I will astound you with the truth as to who shot Biggie and Tupac? (When I aim, I aim high.)

First, let us look at the facts of the case. Both men were killed in drive by shootings in public areas of Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Both were at the top of their respective rap games. And each was surrounded by their entourage, who saw little to nothing of their individual attackers. You see, the small minded police and FBI agents have never looked at the basic facts and have been searching for two separate criminals.

That’s right, the crimes were committed by one man. One man who could a) have been able to be in both locations without suspicion and with ease, b) had a reason to assassinate the greatest poets in rap and c) has the money and the ability to seamlessly blend back into society and never raise suspicion for what he’s done.

That’s right: Biggie and Tupac were killed by Wayne Newton.

Think about it. Wayne Newton has long since been the second tier of lounge act society. He tried to fill the void left when the various members of the Rat Pack either died of cirrhosis or their voices became so caked in scotch and hooker spit that their notes came out like muted kazoos. He did, but the Vegas he wished for, the one of glitz and glamour, was being tarnished in the seventies. Crime, mafia and a general film that covered the city like soap scum. He tried to clean it with his voice and charm. But all the Danke Schoens in the world couldn’t save the place he dreamed of ruling. And Wayne Newton was viewed as cheese, much like the Las Vegas he called home.

So, throughout most of the eighties, Wayne was a joke. His shows still sold out, but the audience was split between elderly patrons who won tickets when they spent a whopping 75 bucks on the Hot 7 slots and Vegas dignitaries who came for the free steak with every ten tickets. The same songs were sung, the same red rose pinned to the lapel. The jokes were fast and furious back then. Lounge music was dying, along with Vegas. Wayne needed to act and act fast.

So, he kept his eyes on popular music, trying to find just what style could he emulate. He thought about trying his hand at punk, but his hair never seemed to get the greasy stringiness he was looking for. He tested the waters of country, but never could get used to sleeping with members of his close family. And hard rock just wasn’t conducive to the longevity of his voice. So that left one thing: rap. And Wayne dove right in. He loved the melodies. He loved the poetry of the words. And his tailored suits and bling-bling style, once dismissed as cheesy, fit right into the burgeoning rap scene of hustlers and pimps. Finally, he could be relevant again.

But the joy and excess that defined eighties rap was not too last. Right before Wayne was about to unveil his new rap persona (Conflicting reports had his name to be Big Bad Brutha Wayne or Vanilla Bean Machine), gangsta rap exploded. Gritty portrayals of the street replaced the chillin’ freestyle Wayne was about to latch on to. And at the forefront were Tupac and Biggie. Wayne was devastated even further when Vanilla Ice, a white rapper that oozed charm and style like he had hoped to do, was laughed off the Earth (or at least doomed to a life of infomercials and bad celebrity television.)

Wayne was distraught. His hopes for a career ‘rap-aissance’ (God, I am like freakin’ Webster – the dictionary guy, not the tiny African-American man-child) were shot. Was there anything he could do before he too joined the Rat Pack touring the shopping malls and tiny civic centers of third rate Midwest towns? Surely, he couldn’t commit…murder?!?!

And he wouldn’t have, if not for his turn as a villain in the cinematic classic that was Adventures of Ford Forlaine. It gave Wayne the confidence in evil he needed. Plus, he was there for the beginning of the “Dice” death knell. And he couldn’t let that happen to himself. SO he targeted Tupac and Biggie, hoping their deaths would sound the end of gangsta rap and its’ death-filled lifestyle. And he would be there to usher in the return of the old school rap he so identified with.

The details of the murders themselves were always sketchy. Wayne knew he could play the two against one another, leaving himself out as a suspect. And what’s more, he relied on the ineptness of two police departments. Both suspects were shot with semi-automatics, and as we all know, Danke Schoen Manor is armed to the teeth to prevent Celine Dion and pre-mauled Siegfried and Roy from launching a full-scale invasion. I can’t go further into details, since Wayne is still out there and to reveal too much might mean I don’t get an encore, if you catch my drift.

My brain hurts after that thinking. I’m pretty sure that this may just cause me to retire from the unsolved mystery business. But I have shed light on a great unsolved crime and I think that may be enough. Clue! has served me well. And my prowess will no fade away into a fog of beer and tiny chocolate donuts.

Though the State Department better watch out. I’m playing Stratego tomorrow….

Admittance Is The First Step…Even If It’s In Prada Heels November 14, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in TV.
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To my fellow Y-chromosomed brethren,

I cried at Titanic (though I swore out loud through muffled tears, “This is from the guy who made the fricken Terminator!). I bought a shirt one summer that made people question my manliness, but I wore incessantly because it looked good and it flattened down my man-boobs. I read Cosmo in hospital waiting rooms because I really want to know if I’m touch in my inner rock girl. And I own each Britney Spears album, strictly for their musical merit and not because of any sort of schoolgirl fantasies. Yet today, I am going to say something that is so scandalous, so salacious and so, well, un-typically male, that it may result in some sort of public de-masculinization (which, if it does go through, will be aired in conjunction with “David Blaine Escapes from the DMV: An Eight Hour Event! On Fox!)

I have now officially seen every episode of Sex and the City.

That’s 94 episodes. Which roughly means that for 47 hours of my life I was allowed into a secret society of women who drink Cosmos and talk about men with all the ribaldry of the three guys I used to light my farts with. (Though replace the words “used to” with “have scheduled for Sunday.”) I have seen every disposable man, every feminine issue, every little scene where Carrie writes really slow on her keyboard, Doogie Howser style (In English class, we would call that “the theme.”)

Everything seems okay. I still let the seat up this morning and my laundry is still coagulating in a corner of my closet. My socks are still mismatched and I still have no conclusive definition for the words duvet, tea sandwiches, or temperance.

But having completed my journey, I have one thing to say. Guys, we have no better manual on how to succeed with women than the catalogue of this show. There are several reasons that make this show the greatest dating manual ever placed on any sort of modern medium (Except for maybe King of Queens, because I’m still trying to figure out how a heavy set UPS driver with a drinking problem lands Leah Remini…there has to be some sort of message there.)

Let’s do some simple math. 94 episodes with 4 women. Each girl blows through an average of about half a guy per episode, of course allowing for longer boyfriend story arcs because a guest star tested really well with audiences. Carry the two. Apply the Pythagorean theorem and you come up with the made up number of 287 men. That means that there are at least 287 guys who have been dumped on the show for whatever reason. Some are face lickers, others are addicted to porn. But some are dumped for reasons that we guys never really knew could possibly end our relationship. This show has provided for us some sobering facts. Those swamp feet you thought would always go away with age are a ticking relationship time bomb. The words “I Love You,” which we were convinced needed to be said as per some relationship book are simply a dull death knell we can’t hear. And don’t even try to become over emotional because odds are, the next morning the final time you’ll see this girl is when she tosses your clothes at you in a dark hallway.

But for all the failures the show teaches us to avoid, it provides a message of hope for all of us out there. The women on the show, sexually savvy and for the most part, quite good looking (If SJP bothers you, just close your eyes and envision what she looked like in Striking Distance…makes a difference, huh?) And for all these perfect, desirable qualities these women possess, they end up with regular Joes. Okay, maybe not the model/actor or the rich, “What Does He Do Again?” Mr. Big, but the other two. The geeky bartender who looks like the older version of what Horshack may have become and the bald, sweaty lawyer who is a couple of years and a shaky tie from being Rodney Dangerfield II:This Time, It’s Respect. And those guys we can all relate to. That means there’s hope for us. Even if in the minds of catty scriptwriters. We can get the girl even if we fail to reach any sort of level on the “Catch” meter.

And the conversations. It’s like a primer for just what women really want. They talk about sexual acts, positions and other things we thought were illegal in 46 out of 50 states (Who knew? They love Dirty Sanchezes in Wyoming!) And while I don’t suggest whipping these out of your bag of tricks quite so fast, it’s good to know that they don’t just exist in your perverted mind. Kind of like the net under a trapeze. Safety, security and at the end of a really good act, the gymnasts sometimes fall into it anyway. But not until the end of the act, so calm down.

Now, if this ability to gain insight into the female psyche doesn’t get you guys, there’s always this. The show is like a game of Boobie Roulette. You’re usually guaranteed one good boob shot per show. And if not, you get that weird faux half-boob, which on a cold and lonely night is an ample replacement for the Victoria’s Secret catalog. Now if Vegas gave you those odds, you’d throw down in a minute. And this comes with the additional ability to change the way you deal with women! Which is the exact opposite of Vegas.

All men, I’m calling out to you. Your life can be changed by watching Sex and The City. Understand your girl. Improve your chances with the next one. And have something for the interim in between. It’s like a dating and sex evolution chart. Stigma, be damned, I say! But if you still need to, you can leave the toilet seat up occasionally. I won’t mind.

Sincerely,

The Doctor

I Lift My Lamp Beside The Golden Goal November 12, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Pop Culture Rants, Sports.
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Do you feel that, America?

No, not that, South Carolina is having some sort of statewide Chili cook-off.

Yeah, that, you feel that?

That, my fellow citizens, is what I lovingly refer to as “Soccer Fever.” Or in the rest of the world, “Football Fever.” Or in Jersey, “Sit Your Ass Down and Put Sopranos Back On.”

Soccer has long been the red headed stepchild of American Sports. Like Vegemite, the humor of Monty Python and Universal health Care, soccer is something us Americans don’t get but the rest of the world seems to latch on to like blood thirsty leeches. They can’t get enough of it. They riot in the stands. They kill opposing fans. The closest we get to that is when our athletes kill each other. But that isn’t during the course of the game or at the stadium, so for our purposes, it doesn’t count.

Why now? Why, after our team did slightly better than Trinidad and Tobago in the last World Cup (In Trinidad’s defense, the median age of their team was 75 and half their players all had wooden legs), are we feeling the fever now? I will admit, I only get slight objection when I turn on soccer games now at the local sports bar, even when there is a repeat episode of Seinfeld on (Even the one where they don’t masturbate…and that won an Emmy.) More and more athletically savvy kids are playing the sport now, no longer leaving it to fat, uncoordinated children of ex-high school athletic studs, who are trying to live out shattered dreams of sports gold, never realizing their kids are there just for the free donuts (Did that come out bitter? Thought I’d repressed that one.) Heck, the MLS (which, I think stands for Me Likey Soccer) is getting ratings that blow the XFL right out of the water. They’re beating re-runs of Sabrina the Teenage Witch on Oxygen! The seeds are being planted. And I am here to decree, the fever is about to explode!

Because of the so-called Beckham Rule.

No, you US Weekly readers, it is not the caveat that states every issue must include at least three revealing shots of just how protruding Victoria Beckham’s ribs are. (That’s the little known “Hy-Posh-ethis” Rule.) The Beckham Rule is MLS’ new financial rules that state, in layman’s terms, that you can spend boatloads of money to bring in superstar players from around the world and the league a) won’t tax you, b) will still keep paying the rest of your team, c) they’ll pay for part of that player’s astronomical salary and d) wants you to do it. It’s like marrying an Olson Twin and getting her too drunk to sign the pre-nup! It’s a veritable gold mine for soccer’s popularity. I mean, surely that’s what has been keeping us away from the game: a lack of players who can actually play the game slightly better than the fat kids in the example a few sentences back.

Soccer is a team game, but having a great player on your team can make fans rush to see the game. Let’s face it, America, we’d rather have a balpeen hammer to the family jewels than sit through a soccer game. And there’s beer at the games. But with this influx of players from around the world, like David Beckham, um, that guy with the Afro, the other guy with the Afro and the dude with the really long name that rhymes with Bootylicious. (Marketing execs are trying to secure the song rights as we speak), we’d be able to see real artisans playing a game that we don’t understand. And nothing makes us flock more to sports than names. Well, that, and beer. And, may I remind you, there’s BEER!

But will the players come? Pessimists will say, “Why would the players come to play in a league full of empty stadiums and sub-par players? Why would they leave a situation where every move they make is worshipped, women flock to them and they are challenged every day to be at the top of the game?” Because think about it…would you rather finish being hauled off the field by fans, take home your stripper/underwear model/underage starlet girlfriend, ravage her and order in filet mignon or would you like to spend your days playing to 150 or so fans, retire to your home, order Chinese and miss your homeland? Easy choice, but keep in mind, the second option comes complete with the ability to do all that atop a mountain of hundred dollar bills. You see where I’m going, huh? Keep your starlets, Premiership and Bundesliga: me, I’m eating Chow Mein surrounded by more cash than I can ever imagine!

So the players will come and suddenly the sport equivalent of Jan Brady will explode into full on Marcia-dom. With all of these fancy ball-handlers, the USA will have to watch. Soccer is a game of tension and skill, a ballet on grass. And nobody likes watching a test of skill and perfect beauty being played out by spastic retards. Does anybody watch SNL anymore? Point given.

I say, The Fever is coming! The players from around the world will be here even before you finish reading. And we must follow them. We will learn just what the world has been trying to teach us for so long. Soccer is great, if done well. And we haven’t done it well. Yet. There will be no cure for the fever. Send us your Beckhams, your other guys and…oh wait, send us your Ronaldinhos (I saw his commercials…Think of what some dollars would do to those buck teeth…Cue sparkly perfect smile “DING” sound effect.)

The Fever is coming. Now if you’ll excuse me, the donuts just got here.

Smells Like Old Spirit November 10, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants.
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I felt a twinge of sadness today while watching E! And no it wasn’t the three part expose into the musical future of the Black Eyed Peas, who promised me and America that their music was to return to its’ roots of political change disguised as money grubbing pop. No, it was the tiny crawl across the bottom of the screen. JACK PALANCE HAS DIED.

I’ll admit I always had an affinity for Mr. Palance. His role in the Marisa Tomei scandal withstanding, the man simply knew how to act. Sure, every one of his role was as a grizzled , oily evil rancher with heart, but does anybody rip on Wolfgang Puck for making nothing but pizza? Didn’t think so. I also admired the man for never committing to the stereotype of getting dentures and stuck by his teeth in his later years as they morphed into nothing more than something that looked like 40 candy corns jammed into his gums. And I still admire that the man changed a generation of smokers by giving them hope in the voice-over business with his emphysema tinged readings of “Believe It….(deep, panicked wheezing) OR NOT.”

But my sadness wasn’t for him today. It was for myself. Because I had already come to grips with his death. Yup, I was almost positive he died three or four years ago. And today, I was forced to deal with my feelings all over again. And for that, I wag my finger and bow my head in the same manner a frustrated mother chides her child when they take the last Twinkie. I shame on you, Hollywood. For not publicizing the decrepit and elderly actors before they die.

As most of us do, I get my sadness in during the Oscars. You know the section. They bring out an actor who is known for being morose and depressing (Jim Caviezel, David Schwimmer, the cast of Jackass!) and have him say something touching as he turns his head back towards the video screen. Then we all see it. The long list of people who have passed in the prior year. And it becomes like a high school graduation. As the names are rattled off, the audience cheers for the names they recognize or were popular then go silent when they announce that the costume designer of Gigi died in February. But not just that, it gives us all the chance to think one of two things: First is the usual “Wow, I didn’t know he died” or second, what I felt today, “He just died?”

I understand there are thousands of actors who are hanging on to life like Andrew Ridgely is hanging on to the hopes of a Wham! Reunion. When a celebrity dies young, it plasters itself across the pages and screens of every media outlet possible. It provides countless opportunities for bloggers to discuss the great things they had accomplished. For me, it does two things: It takes up valuable pages away from my US Weekly and it even takes up time on Dateline NBC, meaning I don’t get the chance to see a tall, thin cookie cutter reporter read deadpan renditions of explicit e-mails in To Catch A Predator. (There is no greater joy than hearing a man, in perfectly trained diction say, “I Want To Lick You Up and Down”.)

I was sad today because I had to relive my issues involving a world with no Jack Palance all over again. I was sure he may have been the single reason why our society, nay, our planet was in the crapper. Without him, we had nobody to point at and say, “See, that’s a man’s man…Yes, a man’s man having his diaper changed and his food fed to him by a nurse in a short skirt, but a man nonetheless.” And this world needs man’s men. Now we REALLY have lost him. And again, I am forced to cry.

With all the reality TV shows being plastered across our screens, it would be simple to take a few seconds out of your broadcasts, TV stations, and show us a few shots of the elderly actors, doing elderly things. It would make me happy to see Zelda Rubinstein playing Bocce or Seymour Cassel washing his car in a wifebeater and flip-flops. And think of the ratings bonanza when we watch Jackie Mason chasing kids off his lawn with a pushbroom. And not only would we be watching, we’d be sighing. Sighing because we know the world is still safe, knowing there is a kvetching Jewfroed old man still making us realize that Christians and Jews think differently. And if the world doesn’t need that now more than ever!

SO please, check in on them once in a while and let us know. America is like the pseudo-caring child with their elderly actors in the home. We need you to be the nurse, checking on them once in a while and just letting us know they’re okay. We’re not going to visit them, though. Unless they steal candy or something. Like Abe Vigoda in Look Who’s Talking.

Wait a second, Abe Vigoda? Still alive? Whew, life just got a little brighter today.