Wednesday, February 28, 2007

THAI TERROR














Last month, Buddhists in southern Thailand were beheaded by radical Islamists.

The cancer continues to spread.
Will Asia sleep too??

From the NYTimes:


“The momentum of violence is now beyond the control of government policy,” said Srisompob Jitpiromsri, a political scientist at Prince of Songkhla University here.

“The separatists can pick and choose the time and place of the violence without any effective resistance from the government,” he said. “They have the upper hand.”

Now the insurgents seem to be taking their war to a new stage, pitting local Buddhists against Muslims by attacking symbols of Buddhism with flamboyant brutality.

The two religions had coexisted through the years here, often in separate villages. That mutual tolerance is breaking down now, and there are fears of a sectarian conflict that could flare out of control.

“Buddhist monks, temples, novices,” said Sunai Phasuk, a political analyst with the monitoring group Human Rights Watch. “Buddhist monks have been hacked to death, clubbed to death, bombed and burned to death. This has never happened before. This is a new aspect of violence in the south.”

SQUEALERS
















Sometimes the favorite topic of the blogosphere is the blogosphere itself.

Yesterday Ann Althouse wrote a column on how because of bloggers growing influence and legitimacy, some are calling for more oversight or control. But isn't that what the bloggers were reacting to in the first place? The limitations and restrictions of commercial media? It's kinda the Animal Farm syndrome taking effect: Down with the establishment and all its rules, but when the anti-establishment takes over, they want their own rules.

The most disturbing item Althouse reveals is from when she was in an online debate with columnist/writer Eric Alterman, and Alterman said this: "I think it would be good if we had some sort of, you know, blogging — you know — council, where we could condemn people. You could still blog if you want. Nobody's going to stop you. But everybody's gonna know that you're not to be trusted."

Whoa there buddy!!! Slow down.

Alterman caught wind of Althouse's column, and defended his stance:

"If bloggers are going to perform this function -- that is, helping busy and usually uninformed people make sense of the world -- we are going to have to employ some sort of standard with which to judge their reliability. If they are pathological liars, psychopaths, religious or ideological extremists who cannot be trusted to tell the truth, well then, it'd be useful to have them branded as such -- in order to keep them from further infecting the body politic with even more lies, ideological obsessions, and intellectual corruptions. True, the mainstream media do not do a great job of this themselves anymore, but many people inside it do try. In many cases, their brands and relationship to their peers depend on it."

Of course the "some sort of standard" would have to pass the Alterman/Media Matters sniff test. They are the righteous. They are the "reliable". Thank you Mr. Alterman, but I'd rather do my own deflecting of psychopaths and liars. Keep your standards to yourself, please.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"START TO MELT" - PETER BJORN AND JOHN





















"Start To Melt" is an example of how hard it can be to nail down the essence of a great rock song. It's 4 (maybe 5) chords, a basic melody, drumming that an 11-year old could do with a broom, and some plaintive lyrics.

"Start To Melt" has a Phil Spector sound, by way of Psychocandy, but the reverb doesn't get in the way or hide mistakes, it enhances the song's sweet simplicity. And the cherry on top??? The next song is even better.

SOMETIMES WE SUCK






















If your son strikes out four times in a baseball game, should you still tell him "good job!"? I don't think so. This doesn't mean a parent should scold the child or humiliate him from the bleachers, but what about saying "you tried hard, son, but you can do better" instead?

Maybe I'm just a product of the uber-competitive Little League baseball generation, but the "everyone is awesome all the time!" attitude OR the "we are all the same" attitude really irks me. We aren't all the same. Johnny was a way better player than I was, but I was better than Phillip. It doesn't mean Philip is less of a cool dude. Heck, he probably could kick my butt in piano playing.

So, that brings us to a "study" that was done (for whatever that's ever worth...) about the growing narcissism in college students (Yahoo):


The researchers traced the phenomenon back to what they called the "self-esteem movement" that emerged in the 1980s, asserting that the effort to build self-confidence had gone too far.

As an example, Twenge cited a song commonly sung to the tune of "Frere Jacques" in preschool: "I am special, I am special. Look at me."

"Current technology fuels the increase in narcissism," Twenge said. "By its very name, MySpace encourages attention-seeking, as does YouTube."



I had a punk bastard teacher in college. He would flat out say "that is awful", "you need to start over", "you are gonna fail if you don't improve". In fact, he wouldn't back away from borderline humiliation ("you think you'll make it in this world if you can't complete a sentence without an 'um, um, um' or a 'like, like, like'?"). God...I hated him. But on the last day of class he was the best teacher I'd ever had, and the only one I went back and visited.

Monday, February 26, 2007

OSCAR WRAP-UP 2007





















* Ellen was the best host yet.

* Forest Whittaker gave a great acceptance speech.

* Al Gore still has zero charisma.

* My dad was super annoyed that almost every male wore a black tie with a black jacket.

* My dad called Phillip Seymour Hoffman "trash" for not combing his hair.

* Martin Scorcese was cute.

* Will Smith's kid acted really snotty towards Abigail Breslin (was this just me?).

* Did Clint Eastwood almost have an anxiety attack when he was presenting to Ennio Morricone? What was that?

* How awkward was it when the Academy had Jodie Foster do the obits two weeks after her best friend died?

* Did you see Jackie Earle Haley? Maybe he wasn't "acting" in Little Children.

* George Lucas is a total freak.

* Jack Black, Will Ferrell, and John C. Reilly were great ("Mark Whalberg....um, actually I'm not gonna joke with you cuz you're kinda bad ass.)

* Nicole Kidman's dress was awful.

* Kirsten Dunst was adorable.

* Tobey Maguire still loves Kirsten Dunst (did you see that?).

* Helen Mirren is hot.

* I like Leo, but he thinks he's a little bit too important.

* I love Diane Keaton.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I WEAR MY SUNGLASSES AT NIGHT

OR....IN SAMMY SPEAK:
"I WEAR DE GLASSES OF SUN FOR OF THE NIGHT"


















Why is Slammin' Sammy wearing shades at night?!?!
That's a pet peeve of mine. (also, when people wear them indoors.)
Maybe it's b/c he just jabbed two vials of 'roids into his retinas.

But look at that loose material in his right shirt sleeve. And the denim in his jeans doesn't look too taut. Maybe Sammy is off the juice.

If so, we'll get to see the real Sammy again. The flyouts to right-center Sammy. The swinging at high cheese Sammy (wait, that's always been Sammy. Steroids wouldn't have helped with that...unless they made his brain bigger.) The .218 batting average Sammy. The nobody-wants-your-autograph-anymore Sammy. The "this is the reason you should never be in the Hall of Fame" Sammy.

Have fun Rangers....you turd muffin losers!!! hahahahaha

---
UPDATE
from a reader:

I went to high school with a guy named Giovanni. He was actually really gorgeous. He looked like one of Anne Rice's vampires. Long glossy black hair. He wore a cape. (But oh, he could pull it off. He didn't look like a ridiculous teenager wearing a cape at a high school at all.) He filed his teeth and nails into points.

And. . .HE WORE SUNGLASSES INSIDE!

A couple of years after high school, I was dating a guy that worked at Starbucks, and Giovanni came in on a cloudy day, ordered some coffee, and stood there looking really pleased with himself in his shades. The guy I was dating and our other friend mocked him mercilessly. WHAT A TOOL! they said.

Giovanni may have been a pretty hot vampire, but he was also dumber than hell.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

DADDY'S LITTLE GIRLS













The poster for Tyler Perry's new movie, Daddy's Little Girls, has the tag line: "Give Life. Teach Love." How many moviegoers rolled their eyes as they passed by en route to a screening of Babel (Whose tag line should be "Give Guilt. Teach Self-Loathing.")?

Daddy's Little Girls has a benign "TV movie" feel to it (Perry is still grappling with the differences between stage and screen), but it would be a shame if that turned viewers off because, so far, it's the most emotionally direct film of 2007.

The set-up: Monty (Idris Elba) is a unwed father of three girls. His mother-in-law takes care of the girls b/c Monty has a low income and a tiny house, but she is dying of lung cancer, so Monty must step up. Trying to make ends meet, Monty stretches things too thin and loses custody of the girls to his drug running ex-wife. Enter lawyer/love interest Julia (the terrific Gabrielle Union) to help Monty, pro-bono.

Perry's talent is in probing everyday encounters from this predictable story arch. He understands that intra racial stereotyping is a topic mostly untouched in popular movies. Audiences prefer the taboo "black on white", "white on Asian", "Asian on Hispanic", "Hispanic on black" culture wars to a healthy (and more realistic) look at hang-ups that exist within a single group. Julia and her friends have "ghetto" suspicions about Monty because of his job, single parent status, and low-income housing. In return, Monty is skeptical about a "sister" working in the upscale corporate world.

But it's the directness in Daddy's Little Girls that gives us holiday from the emotional blankness on screen in that late 2006 run of "acclaimed" films : Marie Antoinette, The Departed, Flags of Our Fathers, Children of Men. Perry shows the influence of a gospel church service, the pride in a town hall meeting, a community standing up to crime (while Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" plays), the tied-in-knots frustration of adapting while being on parole, the conscience of an 8 year old.

Some reviewers have criticized Perry for being too preachy. I think theirs is a reaction of feeling uncomfortable when faced with a moral stance of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong. I don't think Tyler Perry is preaching. Look at the poster again. Daddy's Little Girls wants to teach. It's the antithesis of Half Nelson.

THE LONG GOODBYE















On what would have been his 82nd birthday, some famous friends of the late director Robert Altman toasted to him last night -----> Altman at 82.

Robert Altman at last years Oscars:

“No other filmmaker has gotten a better shake than I have,” he said. “I’m very fortunate in my career. I’ve never had to direct a film I didn’t choose or develop. My love for filmmaking has given me an entree to the world and to the human condition.”

I THINK I LOVE MY WIFE















I'm really excited about the new Chris Rock written/directed/acted-in movie, I Think I Love My Wife. It's a modern day remake of Eric Rohmer's Chloe In The Afternoon. I suspected that Rock had a bit of the multi-tasker in him (a la Woody Allen, a hero of Rock's...).

Another thing that gets me up about I Think..., is that Charles Stone III (Drumline, Mr. 3000) was originally attached to it. I was a fan of the way he pumped life into the rom-com with Mr. 3000. Although....I guess him being gone could be a bad thing too. Hopefully he didn't leave on bad terms, and he left enough of his fingerprints on it for Rock to run with.

--------->TRAILER

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"COME ON, CACTUS IS OUR FRIEND"

WORST SONG OF ALL TIME (UPDATE)















Last night must have been special, b/c we've had a run on some new entries for "THE WORST SONG OF ALL TIME".

----------->Here is the original post.

NEW
from readers:

"We Built This City" - Starship
"Sex and Candy" - Marcy Playground

---

"The worst song ever is obviously, "Indian Reservation" by Paul Reverve and the Raiders. Its awful on every esthetic level. And just such a ridiculous concept. I actually meet quite a few Cherokees around here, and am always tempted to ask what they think of the song. I bet its popular on the reservation."

---

"I think we should also consider anything by Devandra Banhart for worst song ever – man, his stuff is annoying."

---

i'm sure you have tons of horrible songs coming your way but i have to tell you mine. i absolutely cringe every time i hear "Midnight at the Oasis" by Maria Muldauer. check it out:

Midnight at the oasis
Send your camel to bed
Shadows paintin' our faces
Traces of romance in our heads
Heaven's holdin' a half-moon
Shinin' just for us
Let's slip off to a sand dune, real soon
And kick up a little dust
Come on, Cactus is our friend
He'll point out the way
Come on, till the evenin' ends
Till the evenin' ends
You don't have to answer
There's no need to speak
I'll be your belly dancer, prancer
And you can be my sheik
------ guitar solo ------
I know your Daddy's a sultan
A nomad known to all
With fifty girls to attend him, they all send him
Jump at his beck and call
But you won't need no harem, honey
When I'm by your side
And you won't need no camel, no no
When I take you for a ride
Come on, Cactus is our friend
He'll point out the way
Come on, till the evenin' ends
Till the evenin' ends
Midnight at the oasis
Send your camel to bed
Got shadows paintin' our faces
And traces of romance in our heads


RIGHT?!"

---

And last but not least!!!....


"That Alanis Morissette song from the.....City of Angels? movie? that movie where Nicolas Cage rides a motorcycle and blows shit up? And, he's like a convict?"

Hilarious....I did some research and found that this song is "Uninvited". I think this might be Alanis' first music after she got cleansed in India or whatever...

---

I haven't heard the "Midnight at the Oasis" song, but based on the lyrics alone, it might be a winner...at least tied with "Butterfly" by Crazy Town....the search continues.

Thanks to everybody!!!
Keep it coming!!!
And as always....THANKS FOR E-MAILING!!! :)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Пижон, который пахнет!!!















On Monday, Russian President, Vladimir Putin farted on a ski lift. As you can tell by his lift mates reaction, it was most likely a level 5 SBD. Word has it that Putin had eaten kielbasa goulash for lunch. YIKES!

MULTICULTURALISM WATCH













The veil debate/controversy in England gets a new chapter today:

British Muslim, Lord Ahmed, has brought to the table the idea that Muslim women will be harassed more if they continue to wear the niqab than if they didn't wear it at all. Not sure what he means by harassed (staring? slurs?...), but I think he's probably right. He doesn't want to ban the niqab, but says it's a "physical barrier to integration".
The peer said Muslims in Britain must become more sensitive to their surroundings, in the same way as Westerners walking around the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh would need to wear a head covering and long clothing before they could expect to engage with local people.

Sounds reasonable to me.

Full article ----------> Daily Mail

Monday, February 19, 2007

WORST SONG OF ALL TIME

***UPDATED***

















This weekend, me and some friends started kicking around thoughts on what could be the worst song of all time. It's still in progress. It's gonna take a long time to find that one perfect worst song of all time.

Here are some candidates thus far:


---

"Winds of Change" - Scorpions
"Winona's Big Brown Beaver" - Primus
"I'm Every Woman" - Whitney Houston
"The Wild Wild West" - Escape Club
"Killing In The Name" - Rage Against The Machine
"Wait (The Whisper Song)" - Ying Yang Twins.
"I'm In Love With a Stripper" - T. Pain
"Right Now" - Van Halen
"Send Me On My Way" - Rusted Root
"Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" - Baz Lurhman
"Brick House" - Commodores
"Life In The Fast Lane" - The Eagles
"Rooster" - Alice In Chains
"You Suck" - The Murmurs

---

The WSAT (Worst Song of All Time) Think Tank wants to keep this experiment going!!! Luckily we don't need any funding.....we just NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU!!!

So send Tractor Facts your "worst songs" suggestions, at the e-mail address above, and we will continue to do the work on our end.

SEND AS MANY SONGS AS YOU WANT.
SEND AS MANY E-MAILS AS YOU WANT!

***one key rule*** -----> Try to think "outside the box". People always pick on Barry Manilow, Michael Bolton etc. We wanna think BEYOND that. We want to discover a new generation of the worst.

---
UPDATE
from readers:

"What I Am" - Edie Brackell and the New Bohemians
"Money For Nothing" - Dire Straits
"You Can Call Me Al" - Paul Simon
"The Sign" - Ace of Base (I actually like this one,
but the readers demand it...)
"Informer" - Snow
"Butterfly" - Crazy Town
"It Wasn't Me" - Shaggy

Also, a reader made a good point of "better defining the boundaries".
A few rules:

*The song is played on the radio (thus, likely a single).

*The song is considered to be somewhat of a "hit"...doesn't need to
be a #1 smash, but recognizable by almost everyone.

*The song can be from any era, but the focus seems to be the late 70's and on.

---
UPDATE
more....

"Possum Kingdom" - Toadies
"Sunny Came Home" - Shawn Colvin
"True Men Don't Kill Coyotes" - Red Hot Chili Peppers

....excellent picks!
KEEP THEM COMING!!

HALF NELSON
















It's a sign of our times, when the hero of an overwhelmingly well-received film is a hard-drug using, hooker hosting, nihilistic, narcissistic, emotional basket case of a school teacher who seems unwilling to change the path of his self-destruction. Dan's (Ryan Gosling) ex-girlfriend says to him "People can change". Dan replies, "Not me. I'm an as*hole baby".

As a junior high school teacher, Ryan Gosling looks lost. His unwashed Abercrombie look gets in the way of the inner turmoil Dan experiences. More than once, with his dark brown shades, and ill-fitting shirt and tie, Gosling looks more like a shopper at American Apparel than a man at war with himself. Gosling has good instincts as an actor (the scenes of him on the basketball court with the girls are promising), but as Dan's Leaving Las Vegas-style downward spiral takes over, Gosling can only resort to facial ticks and slouching. (Ryan Fleck keeps us from connecting with Dan by keeping his pain at a distance. We never know why he is the way he is. Is it just the ex?).

Half Nelson is also painfully calculated. The kids historical asides to the camera come off as pedantic and forced. (Dan's ability to get away with ditching the lesson plans and teaching dialectics isn't believable in a film that aches for realism). The scene's between Dan and Frank (drug dealer, played by Anthony Mackie) and Dan and his family feel awkward and rubbery.

The most disappointing thing about Half Nelson is director Ryan Fleck's constant running away from challenging, powerful scenes. After one of Dan's students, Dre (Shareeka Epps), discovers his crack addiction, she asks, "Hey coach...um...how does that stuff you took make you feel?". The moment sets itself up for some great emotional discovering. It's teacher and student, coach and player... here Dan can make up for his mistakes and teach, here Dan can coach. But Fleck let's him off the hook. Dan recoils, Dre apologizes, the issue is brushed aside, the opportunity is lost and so is the film.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

BREACH















In the new film Breach, director Billy Ray stretches, kicks, and fights to get some kind of movie out of the 110 messy minutes on screen.

Ray gets into trouble early when he tries to connect Robert Hanssen's treason with the current Bush administration. The first shot of the film is footage of John Ashcroft, and later there is a scene of janitors replacing wall portraits of Clinton/Reno with that of Bush/Ashcroft. Both moments are meant to imply that Bush ushered this in this corruption. The whole play is silly since Hanssen had been working in the F.B.I. since the mid 70's and started spying for the Soviets in 1979. It's an example of how modern directors will let their heavy political agenda cloud their artistry (which I don't believe Ray has yet, since I wasn't a fan of his debut Shattered Glass).

Breach also comes off as bitterly anti-Catholic. Hanssen was a devout Catholic, but Ray intends to frame his criminality around his faith. In an early scene, Hanssen (Chris Cooper) says to Eric O'Neill (Phillippe), "You know why the Soviet Union collapsed? ... They weren't religious." This scene is supposed to set-up an irony of how Hanssen, who was very religious, eventually collapses too. In addition to that, Hanssen's wife is portrayed as a soft-skulled zombie, shots of religious books on Hanssen's desk juxtapose his sexual perversions, Hannsen constantly brow beats O'Neill about praying, he makes hateful comments about lesbians in a Catholic bookstore...and on and on. It's an example of how modern directors will let their heavy social agenda cloud their artistry (which I don't believe Ray has yet....

Friday, February 16, 2007

BAD COVER VERSION



















Mmmmm Hmmmmm!!
New Fountains of Wayne album on April 3rd!
Bad album cover (again) but guaranteed greatness of song.

Here are the new songs, ready for my big time consumption:

1. Someone to Love
2. '92 Subaru
3. Yolanda Hayes
4. Traffic and Weather
5. Fire in the Canyon
6. This Better Be Good
7. Revolving Dora
8. Michael and Heather at the Baggage Claim
9. Strapped for Cash
10. I-95
11. Hotel Majestic
12. Planet of Weed
13. New Routine
14. Seatbacks and Tray Tables

I don't know why, but I guarantee that "Planet of Weed" will be the surefire dud on the album. They always have one...."Peace and Love", "Laser Show" & "Everything's Ruined" held that position on all of their previous albums.

To end on a positive note, here are the 10 BEST Fountains of Wayne songs ever:

1. "I've Got a Flair"
2. "The Senator's Daughter"
3. "Valley Winter Song"
4. "Please Don't Rock Me Tonight"
5. "Mexican Wine"
6. "Sick Day"
7. "Denise"
8. "It Must Be Summer"
9. "Barbara H."
10. "Little Red Light"

....let the debate begin!

Now I need to go listen to all of these songs I've just reminded myself of.

LOVE ME OR HATE ME (PREFERABLY BOTH)
















What a week for the pseudo-oppressed!

First Charlize Theron says we have it as bad in America as they do in Cuba, then the Dixie Chicks - who confuse their inability to take criticism as a suppression of free speech - won 24 Grammy Awards, and today Caryn James of the NYTimes connects our "fears about loss of freedom and civil liberties" to Franco's Spain and the days of East Germany.

In her column today about the Best Foreign Language Film nominees, she predictably writes:

"And there is another, extraordinary group of Oscar films that grapple with explosive issues. The nominees for best foreign-language film are even more politically charged, and every bit as artistically successful, emotionally touching and accessible as the English-language candidates. Set mostly in the past, these films use a sneaky indirection that allows them to resonate with the most volatile questions of today.

Current fears about loss of freedom and civil liberties, the fallout of the war on terror, echo through “Pan’s Labyrinth,” which portrays the brutal repression of Franco’s Spain in 1944, and “The Lives of Others,” depicting the way the Stasi monitored and tried to control speech and even thought in the German Democratic Republic in 1984."(
NYT)

It's almost like there is this craving to be romantically oppressed these days. I used to think writing like this was just more "moral equivalency" posturing, but maybe it's beyond that. It's a type of fantasizing. It's yearning to go down as some text in a history book that you can find at City Lights.

I'm no different. I have a bit of the "look at me!" bug too. For right now I am daydreaming of Andrew Sullivan reading this, and calling me something with an "ist" as its suffix.

FREAKY FRIDAY

REGURGITATION RESURRECTION



















BRANDON, Fla. (AP) - A palm-sized pet turtle and the golden retriever that gobbled it up survived the misadventure thanks to the quick actions of a 12-year-old girl, a veterinarian said.

****inserted Tractor Facts NOTE****
The first time I read this, I read "veterinarian" as "vegetarian". That woulda been cool if it was true.


The saga of Pepper the red-eared slider turtle and Bella the golden retriever started last week. Shelby Terihay, 12, moved her pet pond turtles indoors to protect them from a cold snap - a plan that worked well until Bella found some of the turtles in a bathtub, The Tampa Tribune reported.

A quick headcount confirmed Bella had swallowed one of the turtles. Shelby insisted on a rescue mission and, on the advice of a vet, her parents made Bella vomit. Out came Pepper, still alive despite a shattered shell and an estimated 10 minutes inside Bella's belly.

"This was definitely a first for me," veterinarian David Thomassy said.

Thomassy patched up Pepper's shell and credited Shelby with saving Bella, too.

"The turtle would definitely have caused an obstruction," Thomassy said. "Without cutting it out directly, it eventually would have killed the dog."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

TIM HARDAWAY





















Nice going Tim Hardaway.

Just as the sports world was on the verge of becoming more open and accepting of it's gay athletes, you go and act like the idiot that you've always been. Hardaway has been a continuous cancer to the teams he's played for, but now the-disease-that-is-he has metastasized and spread deeper into the social dialogue.

"Well, you know, I hate gay people," Hardaway said in response to Le Batard. "I let it be known I don't like gay people. I don't like to be around gay people. I'm homophobic. It shouldn't be in the world, in the United States, I don't like it."

Well, there's really no getting out of this one. It will be pathetic if Hardaway tries to spin it..."uh, I was just joking man"..."I was mad about something else"...whatever Timmy, don't even try.

Hopefully the NBA will respond in a firm way. Although he is no longer an active player, he's still an indirect representative of the league. This is also a chance for other players around the league, and from other sports, to condemn what Hardaway has said. Let's hope the right people do the right thing.

To Be Continued....

"I'M LIKE A LAWYER WITH THE WAY I AM ALWAYS TRYING TO GET YOU OFF (ME & YOU)" - FALL OUT BOY

SWEET COLLABORATION

*****************************************************

















Fall Out Boy are dumb.

That's not a negative. The Ramones and Andrew WK were dumb. They made some great, dumb music. Songs with dumb lyrics and dumb titles.

I don't mean to say these artists are brain dead. Not at all. I think Fall Out Boy are clever and savvy career men. Andrew WK never bathed and wore the same thing every day (so did Einstein). The Ramones....ok, so maybe The Ramones just had a lot of "dumb luck".

A sign of Fall Out Boy's savvy is in their decision to recruit the "king of acousto-soul", Babyface, as producer on a couple of tracks for their new Infinity on High. Babyface has had his own radio success, but he's most well known for his work on the mega-popular monster ballads by Boyz II Men ("End Of The Road" and "I'll Make Love To You"). "I'm Like A Lawyer..." has that same grand charm: a nice & smooth melody, a HUGE chorus, and a guarantee to be played on the radio all summer.

Rob Sheffield wrote that you can't hear Babyface's touch on "I'm Like A Lawyer...". I disagree. The song is completely Fall Out Boy, but 'Face gives the verse a late-90's R&B rhythm (think a slower "No Diggity") and the entire song a sexy structure that these four caffeine kids would've never had the patience to build on their own. You can imagine FOB handing over the song in it's regular pop-punk form, and then see Babyface slowing it down, turning up the chorus, and teaching Patrick Stump how to sing.

It's exciting to hear a producer's fingerprints on a song. Cheers to Fall Out Boy for being adventurous and smart enough to pick Babyface as their temporary Svengali. If "I'm Like A Lawyer..." gets the single treatment it deserves, it might just become your own little sugar crush of 2007.

****************************************************

FOREVER

















******************************************

One of my favorite love songs is "Everlong" by the Foo Fighters.

I don't even know the words, really:

"....come down, so I can't keep you in...nuh nuh nuh...."
"....you wanted it to be-e-e-ee...."
"....when I spend alone with youuuu...da na nuh na nuh"

...or something like that.
It just feels awesome.

It sounds awesome.
The running guitars in the verse.
The drum rolls in the chorus.
Dave Grohls' voice.

And "Everlong" passes the ultimate test of greatness:
I've heard it over 500 times, and I still love it.

"Everlong", will you be my valentine?

************************************************

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

TAX TAX BABY



Vanilla Ice is taking unusual measures to revive his rap career - he's hooked with a tax company to make lyrics out of financial levy.

Website TurboTax.com has hired the ICE ICE BABY star to host the Tax Rap Contest on TheTaxRap.com, which will provide "fun-loving taxpayers nationwide a shot at their own Grammy-worthy performance and $25,000 in winnings".

The rapper - real name ROB VAN WINKLE - will kick off the contest by unveiling a music video "inspired by his own personal tax-filing experiences" on YouTube. A rep for the tax company tells PageSix, "We want people to 'get their tax on.'"(c-music)



So DUH...I went right to TheTaxRap.com to see what was up! My favorite rapper so far is Tracy. Her song is called "Tax Day". She mixes in "pork barrell" and "gout" into her flow, and does some (horrible) homegrown beatboxing.

Monday, February 12, 2007

FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS















The main idea behind the first of Clint Eastwood's two Iwo Jima films seems to be that "propaganda is bad". But is it? What if the propaganda is true?

The image that is the subject of Flags of Our Fathers is the famous photo of soldiers hoisting a flag atop a mountain on Iwo Jima. Two photos were taken:

*The first flag that was raised was taken down b/c a Navy secretary wanted it as a souvenir.

*Then a second flag was raised. This is the raising that is seen in the famous photo. The image was then pumped around the United States as a image of victory, even though the photo was taken when the Battle of Iwo Jima was still in it's infancy (three of the six flag raisers in this photo were later killed at Iwo Jima).

From here, Flags of Our Fathers evolves into a bunch of sub-stories: was the photo staged? were the guys that raised the flag in the photo really "heroes"? what about the guys in the first photo? is it wrong to use the image to sell war bonds?...all inter cut with "realities of warfare" imagery (a la the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan).

Over all of this, Eastwood makes us feel that the government, war machine, & media were dishonest about the photo, and that they used it to propagandize the public. This image was given to the public as a sign of progress, of near victory. We were winning, the military needed more funds. The photo lifted the public's morale, and raised money. Many will argue that winning hearts and minds is just as important as winning on the battlefield. To me, that is what the photo did.

I would agree that dishing out false propaganda is bad (although I'm sure someone could convince me of a time when it's needed....maybe), but the photo of the soldiers at Iwo Jima, while not as romantic as it appears, is still the truth.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

KISS ME, KATE





















Good for Kate Winslet! She's letting Hollywood have it over their "skinny obsession". Not only is it unhealthy for girls/women, it's unattractive. Give me Marylin Monroe's jiggles over Keira Knightly's 12-year old boy chest anyday.

"I think I have become something of a role model because I came out and said: 'Hey, I've got a normal shape'...It's important for me to stand by the fact that I eat real food and am not on a diet everyday."

Winslett who said she did not care about dieting added: "I just don't worry about my weight anymore. I notice it, if I've enjoyed a Christmas vacation and I have had too many glasses of champagne or too many canapes. But I don't avoid anything and I am not a fanatic."(Daily Mail)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

14 MINUTE TRUCE















Ok, ok....when he's in between the left field and right field lines I hate the guy, but I just get all mushy whenever I hear about someone becoming an U.S. citizen.

On Thursday, Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols became one....and he was HAPPY about it :o) :

``He even answered a bunch of additional questions and gave us more answers than we asked,'' Moyer said. ``He clenched his fist and said, 'I got 100 percent!''

``He just had a grin from ear to ear,'' Moyer said. ``He was thrilled to become a citizen.''

Sincere congrats Albert, but the honeymoon between us ends....NOW!:

Soon after the citizenship ceremony, Pujols flew to Florida to prepare for the opening of spring training. Pitchers and catchers report Wednesday and begin workouts the next day. Position players are due to report Feb. 19.

Spring training starts for us fans too. Not that I need any practice to hate the Cardinals more than I already do, but it helps with the pain. (pain = the St. Louis Cardinals winning the World Series in 2006).

Friday, February 09, 2007

ELIE WIESEL ATTACKED





















I don't know why this took a week to surface, but author Elie Wiesel was attacked last week coming out of an elevator. Early speculation is that a Neo-Nazi grabbed him, asked him why he won't "tell the truth" about the Holocaust, and tried to shove him in an empty room. Luckily, the sick thug failed and Mr. Wiesel was physically unharmed.

The thug posted online, under the name "Eric Hunt", after the attack (SF Chron):


"I had planned to bring Wiesel to my hotel room, where he would truthfully answer my questions regarding the fact that his non-fiction Holocaust memoir, Night, is almost entirely fictitious," Hunt wrote on the site. The poster also said "I had been trailing Wiesel for weeks" and had hoped to get "Wiesel into my custody, with a cornered Wiesel finally forced to state the truth on videotape."


The San Jose Mercury News is identifying the web site he posted at as "ZioPedia.org".(SJ Mercury)

ZHANG YIMOU















Filmmaker Zhang Yimou is under fire from the Chinese Communist Party. He's been somewhat of an enfant terrible in the past, with Raise The Red Lantern, but after Hero and House of Flying Daggers he was a mainland superstar.

Now....his new Curse of the Golden Flower is stirring the pot like old times.

A commentary in the "Study Times," the Chinese Communist Party School's official mouthpiece, complained that Chinese directors were deluding themselves that big-budget violent movies would lead to Academy Awards.

"Fine art is not built on money. Good movies are not based on banquets of glitzy scenes and effects, and less so when violence and sex are involved," the editorial said.

"Movies that move audiences and critics are the simple and eternal questions of life, the stories that that can truly inspire people, and which include some basic moral guidelines."

The commentary said "Curse" -- which at $45 million set a record as China's most expensive production -- had left a "feeling of nausea that would not go away."

"Some people even say that Zhang Yimou is just a painter, throwing buckets of red on the silver screen," it said.

"After watching 'Curse of the Golden Flower', this feeling of nausea just would not go away. In short, it's a bloodthirsty movie."(Reuters)


------
UPDATE
from a reader:

I have a quibble with your characterization of Zhang Yimou as an (former) "enfant terrible." The string of films he made in the late 1980s and early 1990s sure did get him in trouble with the Chinese government, but I would argue that the French phrase doesn't apply. Since he was banned from leaving the mainland to attend his films' festival screenings, it seems more accurate to me to characterize him as a victim of political repression. I'm sure you have no surplus of sympathy for the Chinese government, but your description makes it sound like he's been the problem, not the regime. (I remember some film journals (Film Comment, at least) remarking on how with Hero he'd made a film that is much friendlier to the Chinese government's idea of history. The subtext of "sell-out" wasn't compelling to me, since the guy had suffered for his art for quite a while.)

Fair point. I surely didn't mean to place any of the "problem" on Yimou. NOT AT ALL. I'm a big fan of his, and find the Chinese government as the bully here.

So having said that...go see Curse of the Golden Flower!

THEY WERE MY CO-PILOTS

Sometimes freaky things happen.
You can't just dismiss them as "coincidence".
There must be a reason...something science can explain.

Or maybe it's beyond science.
Maybe there is something we can't even comprehend.
Whatever it is, I'm convinced there's something designing things.
How else would you explain this?:

------>Light,Judith Ellen (born February 9, 1949)


------>Bullock,James Jackson (born February 9, 1955)

Do you feel the chills now too????

That's right....today is the dual birthday of 1980's sitcom ICONS Jim J. Bullock, and Judith Light.









For those of you who think I am being a goofball...you're wrong! I was big fans of both of them in the 80's, back when sitcoms were simple, stupid, and shot entirely on one cardboard soundstage.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

THE HIPSTER I LOVE TO HATE










International hate monger Sasha Baron Cohen (Borat) has signed
on to make Borat 2 after he makes Bruno.

The early buzz is that Borat will return to America's Heartland, but this time he'll ambush the blind, deaf, indigent, and elderly (they make for easier targets now that his cover is blown).

Still no word on why Baron Cohen refuses to go to Afghanistan or Somalia for some real biting satire (the kind that BITES BACK!). Since he didn't have the balls to show his c*ck on screen in the famous "wrestling" scene from Borat, Tractor Facts is presuming he'll never have the balls for that either.

------
UPDATE:

Nikki Finke says not quite yet.

SPICEWORLD

SPICE GIRLS REUNION?

...maybe.

In the meantime, look how cute Baby Spice (the blond one) is nowadays!






















...and Ginger Spice (red head) has outdone Gwyneth by naming her baby "Bluebell".

meanwhile...nobody seems to recognize that Sporty Spice has been very successful lately as a grime rapper Lady Sovereign:


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

THE CLOCK

A SOLDIER'S GENEROSITY



















Would Vincente Minnelli's 1945 film, The Clock, even be made today? It's filled with so much kindness , that in these cynical times, one may become a bit suspicious of it's enormous good spirit. Not that I think there is a lack of kindness among filmmakers (in fact, I think a Spielberg or Nancy Meyers could do a swell The Clock remake), but sentimentality is more taboo for artists, these days, than depravity. What's considered a more insulting adjective today: "cheesy" or "dirty"?

Jonathan Rosenbaum says of The Clock: "(it) is a charming and stylish if somewhat sentimental love story about a soldier on a two-day leave in New York who meets and marries an office worker". He writes "if somewhat sentimental" as a qualifying phrase, as if "sentimental" is a dirty word.

Geoff Andrews of Time Out says : "Though it might seem a little too heart-warming for modern tastes, it is beautifully designed (with impressive studio sets) and performed."

It's like they can't help themselves.

Now, of course a filmmaker can go overboard on the "heart warming" (the recent We Are Marshall) or make the "feel-good" seem disingenuous (see Nora Ephron), but Minelli constructs scenes between Judy Garland & Robert Walker in The Clock that are full of so much love and honesty. He turns romantic comedy into art.

THIS AINT A SCENE, IT'S A SIDEARMS RACE

Today is Dan Quisenberry's birthday.
That's pretty unremarkable, I know, but he holds a place in my baseball memory. He was the first pitcher I ever saw throw a "submarine ball".

Here is The Quis' in an action shot:




It's easy to throw.
But it's difficult to throw well.
That's why so few pitchers actually use it.

It's also very intimidating if you are the batter.
The batter vs. pitcher match up is mainly a mental game.
So, this type of delivery can confuse (or scare) the heck out of a batter.
As the pitcher releases the ball, it looks like it's coming right at you.


Me and my friends used to imitate the "submarine style" when we played whiffle ball in the back yard. Whiffle ball was so great. It was baseball where you could experiment without getting hurt. Curve balls, knuckle balls, splitters...all the pitches we could never throw with a hardball suddenly came to life. We even took on the personas of real MLB players. It was idol worship in action.

And once we tired of that (mostly from the heat) we went in and played the video game version. And it wasn't JUST a video game, it was (and still is) THE BEST VIDEO GAME EV-ER MADE!!!!


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

GOLD STAR GRANDMA






















Whenever I'm watching Apocalypse Now!, Full Metal Jacket, or Forrest Gump, I think to myself, "Dude, if I am ever in hand-to-hand combat, I wonder if I could just "play dead""....

Well, an eighty year old bad ass did a variation on this "battle tactic" just this past weekend:


HAMPDEN, Maine (AP) - An 80-year-old Hampden woman who was watching the Super Bowl alone faked a heart attack to scare off a man who had broken into her home and was pushing her toward the bedroom, police said.


[...]


"The lady had enough common sense to keep her wits about her to fake a heart attack and avoid becoming another victim," Stewart said.


I wish I woulda thought of that this morning when my boss caught me on the Internet....dang it!

Monday, February 05, 2007

TWO MOVIES

GRAB THE REIGNS





















The wife and I are very excited about this new movie. Maybe it will be nothing (the trailer has that recent "post-grad school life crisis" vibe to it that The Last Kiss and Stranger than Fiction had. They all even have their movie titles in blue and black fonts...is this a weird trend, or am I just insane?) , but anything that has Don Cheadle and Adam Sandler in it is gonna be seen by these eyes.

And...

The "horse s*x movie" director gets interviewed over at Radar, and there is this bizarre exhange:

---

So the movie shows a second or so of actual videotape of one of these men getting, um, mounted. What was your reaction when you saw the footage?

I wouldn't say it was anything that really shocked me terribly.


Wouldn't it shock most people?

In this day and age, the fact is—let's say you're in Seattle and someone talks to you about fisting in the gay community. That's just something you hear about. It's not the most shocking thing in the world. If you figure someone can fit his arm inside somebody, a horse is not that much bigger. It's just that people do different things to get their kicks.

---

Hmmmm, let's see....gay s*x....horse s*x....yeah, it's about the same thing.......WHAT?!?!?!

BATTLE IN HEAVEN














Battle In Heaven comes from that other side of film making, the side that has given up, the side that is full of solipsism and hate. In a DVD interview, director Carlos Deygadas says (paraphrasing): "I don't much care about interpretation or representation...no, in fact, it doesn't matter to me at all". At least he admits it.

Marcos is a driver for a Mexican general. He lusts after the general's young daughter, Ana. His life is drab and slow. The camera catches Marcos staring blankly at the handicapped, crying at stop lights, and struggling with his erections. Because of a failed kidnapping/ransom attempt, Marcos decides to turn himself in to the police. But then...EUREKA!...he realizes he can be with Ana forever, if : (get ready...deep breath) he stabs her to death, rushes to the Our Mother Of The Guadalupe festival to repent and seek forgiveness (thus guaranteeing entrance to heaven), dies from exhaustion, and then finally makes it to heaven where Ana is on her knees sucking his c*ck...THE END.

A more artful critic would tell you that Battle in Heaven is "real" or "provocative". Bullsh*t. No doubt Deygadas is attempting to go for realism of some kind. But his realism brings forth no "real" social probing or understanding. Deygadas' idea of "real" is showing sex between two people you wouldn't ordinarily see. Great, but what does that give us beyond a quick sensory titillation? Such silliness doesn't linger with you. It's a pornography of another kind.

CHEWBACCA ARRESTED























You know those weirdos that dress-up and stand outside Grauman's Chinese Theater? Well...one of them went too far:


LOS ANGELES (AP) - A man dressed as Chewbacca was arrested after police said the street performer head-butted a tour guide operator in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

Frederick Evan Young, 44, of Los Angeles was booked Thursday for investigation of misdemeanor battery, police Lt. Paul Vernon said.

Police said the 6-foot-4 street performer was seen arguing Thursday afternoon with a tour guide who had expressed concern the Star Wars wookiee impersonator was "harassing and touching tourists" in violation of city law.

The city passed ordinances last year seeking to crack down on the colorful assortment of actors who perform outside the landmark theater. The move was prompted by complaints from tourists who said the actors were aggressive and abusive if they refused to pay for pictures.

Security guards escorted Young off theater property, but he decided to strike back and head-butted the tour guide, Vernon said.

"The lesson here is you can have the force with you," Vernon said. "You just can't use illegal force."

Young could not be reached for comment. His telephone number was unlisted.

The tour guide, Brian Sapir, told the Los Angeles Times that he asked the Chewbacca impersonator to stop harassing two young Japanese tourists when the actor exploded in anger.

"He said, 'Nobody tells this wookiee what to do,'" Sapir said.


I like that the headline contains the phrase "Wookiee impersonator" as if Wookiees actually exist.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

"SAY IT RIGHT" - NELLY FURTADO





















Nelly Furtado's "Say It Right" is my favorite radio single in this early year.

I though her 2006 hit, "Promiscuous", was bad. People moaned about the harmless "My Humps" as some kind of low pop-cultural point, but then turned around and praised "Promiscuous" as some kind of sexual liberation call-to-arms. It was awkward to hear Nelly play the catcall and response game with Timbaland. She's not good at that "sex thang". She can't sell it like a Justin Timberlake or a Missy Elliott.

But "Say It Right" is perfect. It's a rollerskating nu-disco jam. Nelly sing-speaks the verses like she's back in her "Fly Like a Bird" days, and the chorus is just right for the dance floor people to throw up their hands and sing along to. Plus, it has a tinge of bittersweet balladry to it that will help the heartbroken while they sweat out their sorrows.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

SPRING TRAINING IN 12 DAYS





















On the eve of the Super Bowl, it's kind of fitting that today is the birthday of NFL quarterback legends Fran Tarkenton and Bob Griese.

Which brings me to tomorrow's game....

I'm a little underwhelmed about it. Both the Bears and the Colts seem to have good guys, quality guys, genuine guys. That's refreshing. It may not be as "sexy" for the media, but it's good to know that nice guys can finish first.

Or...at least one group of nice guys will.
Who will it be?

For me, it's an easy pick:
Indianapolis Colts 26 Chicago Bears 9

p.s. How many sports writers do you think are already hanging on the "BEARS HIBERNATE IN LOSS" headline for Monday, if they play poorly tomorrow? You know it's coming.

see ya next season....

...here comes baseball!!!!!!!

Friday, February 02, 2007

LIFE GOES ON

SHEILA (CIRCA 1992)


"I really am like Becca Thatcher now...."

and other goodies in today's diary entry redux from Sheila O'Malley.

NO!!!!

GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY YOU TUBE!


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Viacom Inc. has demanded that Google Inc.'s online video service YouTube pull down all of its video clips after they failed to reach an agreement, the company said.

About 100,000 video clips from Viacom-owned properties including MTV Networks and BET has been asked to be removed.

Viacom said its pirated programs on YouTube generate about 1.2 billion video streams, based on a study from an outside consultant.(reuters)

------
UPDATE:

I'm pretty confused on what ultimately will happen.
As of 11:14 PM, there were still MTV clips on YouTube.
I imagine, they've been given a timeline, but...

In the meantime, be sure to squeeze as much nostalgia out of it as you can.

"KIDS ARE SO SMALL" - DEERHOOF

















One word to describe Deerhoof?

------>RELUCTANT

With each album, they seem to wanna fight the fact that they are accessible. Friend Opportunity is their best attempt, yet, at editing themselves....10 songs, most in at (or under) 3 minutes. The pogo-pop chorus of "+81" and the cascade of guitar in "The Galaxist" is Deerhoof at their friendliest.

(sigh)....but they still seem so unwilling to play the part...

Perhaps they're just ahead of their time....waaaaay ahead. The new song "Kids Are So Small" sounds like science-fiction R&B from the year 2150. Super microprocessed beats & wiggles bounce alongside synthetic clicks & giggles. It's fun and frustrating at the same time.

Maybe that's ultimately what Deerhoof want to be.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

THAILAND

"WE SHALL KILL ALL THAI BUDDHISTS"



Something wicked is brewing in southern Thailand....

Today, a Buddhist ice cream vendor was beheaded.
Last week, a Buddhist farmer was beheaded.
Both were done by Islamic terrorists.

Apparently there's been havoc in southern Thailand for quite some time now:

"Drive-by shootings and bombings occur almost daily in Thailand's three southernmost Muslim-majority provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani, where an Islamic insurgency that flared in January 2004 has killed more than 1,900 people.

Buddhists are targeted along with police, soldiers and others viewed as collaborators with the government.

Buddhist monks have been beheaded, Buddhist teachers slain, and leaflets have been distributed around Buddhist villages warning that raising dogs and drinking alcohol are offensive to Muslims."(IHT)

There was also an explosion (still uncredited) on New Years Eve that killed three people, and a military coup that took place last September.

to be continued....

GRIDIRON GANG

BLACK & WHITE



















It's hard to avoid the race issue when watching the recent football movie Gridiron Gang. The Rock plays a social worker, Sean Porter, at a young men's high-security detention facility. The current rehabilitation tactics aren't working, so Sean decides to use football to build up self-worth among the inmates. The story sounds like it's straight out of a "Hollywood cheese factory", but it's not...it's true.

However, director Phil Joanou injects some odd racial tension that feels forced and outside of what the retelling of this inspirational story needed. The Mustangs (the detention facility team) are 75% black, 15% Hispanic, and 5% white/other. Yet, their opponents are all white. Every team they play is all white. I'm not an expert on SoCal high school football, but I'm 99.9% sure that all white football teams are not the norm.

This divide along racial (and yard) lines is thrust out in the open when a linebacker from the opposing team continually calls The Mustangs running back "boy" ("you're mine boy","I'm gonna get you boy","stay down boy"...the implications are clear) and eventually uses the "n-word" against him.

In the end, the message of the Gridiron Gang is one of overcoming obstacles that keep you down. By making every football opponent in the movie white, is Joanou playing the "white oppressor" card? The real life Sean Porter was white, yet Joanou casts The Rock to portray him. Casting characters outside race is fine (and sometimes liberating), but in a movie infused with so many racial overtones, you would think Joanou would keep this fact true. I just find this all a little....weird.

CHART WATCHING



Justin Timberlake has three songs in the Top 40. "Sexy Back" and "My Love" had their reign, and now it's "What Goes Around...Comes Around"'s turn. Thing is, these aren't just the hits among album filler, JT could score even more radio gold with "Summer Love", "Losing My Way" and possibly "Love Stoned" or "Chop Me Up" (a collab. with the Three 6 Mafia, who are very bankable right now). We could be talking Thriller or Jagged Little Pill territory here. In two years, put on Futuresex/Lovesounds and you'll recognize every song from the radio.





Fall Out Boy are primed to follow JT's path. They could be 2007's bestselling band. The album comes out next week (it will debut at #1, it's just a question of how far it will out sell the #2 slot), but "This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race" already debuted at # 2 on the singles chart. What you have in Fall Out Boy isn't too different than JT. They both have cross-genre appeal. And with Jay-Z heavily pushing Fall Out Boy right now...watch out! If you have the rock and "mix" radio stations already (which Fall Out Boy do) and you can add urban radio to that list???...forget about it!!!

other chart news.....The Shins debut at # 2 on the album charts!.....Regina Spektor is at #20 (!!) on the album charts (don't know where this came from. does she even have a song on the radio???)...The Good The Bad and The Queen sneaks in at #49, and Of Montreal does the same at #79.


...also, when did Alan Thicke's son become such a popular musician???