Friday, March 31, 2006

Thursday, March 30, 2006

What Remains, However Improbable...

Charlie -The Wraith- Sheen was recently on the radio telling Alex Jones that he believes there's a massive cover-up going on over the events of 9/11.

"It seems to me like 19 amateurs with box cutters taking over four commercial airliners and hitting 75% of their targets, that feels like a conspiracy theory. It raises a lot of questions." [...]


"I was up early and we were gonna do a pre-shoot on Spin City, the show I used to do, I was watching the news and the north tower was burning. I saw the south tower hit live, that famous wide shot where it disappears behind the building and then we see the tremendous fireball."

"There was a feeling, it just didn't look any commercial jetliner I've flown on any time in my life and then when the buildings came down later on that day I said to my brother 'call me insane, but did it sorta look like those buildings came down in a controlled demolition?"

Two things to consider:
1) He may actually be right
2) Something's seriously wrong when you're looking to Emilio Estevez for guidance

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Dashing Diner

From SFGATE.COM:

Running Darla's, a diner in the Sunset District, is no game for its owner, Darla Kubala. She starts her day at 8 in the morning and sometimes doesn't finish until 10 at night. She greets customers, waits tables and has to deal with huffy patrons. She also balances the books, keeps the pantry stocked and makes sure all the equipment is up and running.

Sound interesting? Thanks to San Francisco game publisher PlayFirst, players will have the chance to run a virtual version of Darla's in the online game Diner Dash 2, which premieres Tuesday.

Diner Dash 2 follows last year's original Diner Dash, which attracted hundreds of thousands of players and underscored the popularity of casual online games

In the original Diner Dash, Flo quits her high-powered job as a stockbroker to open a restaurant. The player takes on her character as she races to seat customers, take their orders, serve food, bus up the tables and, of course, pick up the check. The player earns points for getting the job done and is rewarded by getting to upgrade the restaurant, like hiring a mime to entertain customers.

In the latest version, Flo now must help save her friends' restaurants from an evil corporation set on razing their businesses and putting in a Mega Multiplex FoodPlaza. Flo waits tables at each of her friends' restaurants, so the restaurants can flourish and ward off the evil corporation. The game's first level starts at Darla's Cafe, which is based loosely on Darla's at Ninth Avenue and Irving Street in San Francisco.

PlayFirst developers heard about Darla's a few months ago, and, after having lunch there, were inspired to name one of the restaurants in Diner Dash 2 after her.

Like Flo, Kubala is a restaurant entrepreneur, who started the place from the ground up. The developers were immediately drawn to Kubala and the way she juggles running the business, waiting tables and making time to talk and get to know customers. She displayed a remarkable ability to recall a customer's preferences after meeting them a few times.

"In Darla, we feel like we found a real-life Flo," said Heidi Perry, vice president of marketing. "Darla is very real. She's always talking and going back and forth."

Chris Bennett, the producer of Diner Dash 2, said he was struck by the casual, family-friendly atmosphere at Darla's, which matched the game's goal. "You walk in there and you say, 'Wow, this is it,' " he said about Darla's restaurant.

Because the game was already far along in development, they couldn't incorporate as many details from Darla's restaurant in the game as they would have liked, though they haven't ruled that out for a later edition. They did, however, design the outdoor cafe in part after Darla's back patio, including adding potted flowers.

PlayFirst is also looking to Kubala for ideas as it creates a corner on its Web site where fans can learn more about Flo and her friends, as well as chat about the game.

Kubala, who with her husband also owns the Tempest in downtown San Francisco, started as a waitress 30 years ago at Bob's Big Boy in Downey (Los Angeles County), when she was 18. Having dreamed of running a business, she finally opened Darla's about four years ago.

Diner Dash is very realistic, said Kubala, who has played the game. Like in real life, Flo must manage impatient customers, who wave at the staff to get their attention and leave if they don't get seated right away.

"When we're really kicking, that's how it can be," she said. "It's very stressful. When things are going in here, you have to click. You have to be ready to go."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sunday, March 26, 2006

BS

Can somebody tell me what kind of world we live in when someone gives Britney Spears her very own pro-life monument? Well kids, the folks at Capla Kesting Fine Arts (in Brooklyn's Williamsburg gallery district) have gone and done just that.

The life-sized statue celebrates the recent birth of Spears' baby boy, Sean, and applauds her decision of placing family before career. Gallery co-director Lincoln Capla says, "A superstar at Britney's young age having a child is rare in today's celebrity culture. This dedication honors Britney for the rarity of her choice and bravery of her decision."

The official name of the monument is "Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston," but I'm pretty sure the unofficial name is "The sex doll I was making but somebody caught me so now I'm pretending it's a Britney Spears monument." Besides, I don't think getting accidentally knocked-up counts as a brave decision to put family before career. It's more like a rash decision to not use protection.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Xenu Better Than That

MSNBC recently reported that John Travolta's decision to play middle-aged mom Edna Turnblad in a remake of John Waters' classic Hairspray is causing a controversy in the Scientology community. Why? Let's just say that the religion's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, wouldn't be a big fan of this year's gay Oscar theme....

A recent Rolling Stone article about Scientology reports that its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, felt that gays “should be taken from… society as rapidly as possible” because “no social order will survive which does not remove these people from its midst.”

While it's safe to say that LRH was probably not commenting on this specific decision -since, you know, he's been dead for twenty years now- Big John shouldn't be resting easy just yet. See, L. Ron is scheduled to be reincarnated any day now (Don't believe me? Go to any Scientology bunker, and check out the office they have waiting for him). And still, if for some odd reason that doesn't happen, John had better still keep a sharp eye out for the Commodor's Earth-bound, Operating Thetan 7 enforcer.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Monday, March 20, 2006

"O.J. Simpson... not a Jew!
But guess who is... Hall of Famer Rod Carew!"
Who says we don't need another hero?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

He's a Complicated Man

Isaac Hayes -the baritone voice of "Chef" in South Park- recently said he was quitting the show after nine seasons, citing "inappropriate ridicule" of religion as the reason.
"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins," the soul legend said. "Religious beliefs are sacred to people and at all times should be respected and honored. As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."

Evidently, the place for satire is when the show's talking about Christianity. Or Judaism. Or Buddhism. Or Islam. Or Hinduism. Or farting Canadians. Or, really, anything that's not Scientology, the religion Isaac so happens to belong to that South Park so happens to have recently ridiculed. Being the observant fellas they are, Matt Stone and Trey Parker commented on this coincidence:

Past episodes of South Park have skewered Catholics, Jews and Mormons, among others. However, according to Stone, he and Parker "never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin," Stone told the Associated Press.

Can you dig it?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Verisimilitude

I'm no historian, but even I can't think of a time when the message of V for Vendetta didn't resonate with one society or another... and never moreso for this American than right here, right now. But don't take one citizen's word for it, take a look around. Just a few weeks ago, the British House of Commons passed a law banning the “glorification” of terrorism. Hard to disagree with on the face of it, but look closer... how chilling is that? Who defines "glorification?" The law is fantastically broad, so obviously this lack of clarity brings with it the potential for tremendous abuse of authority.

We saw V for Vendetta last night.

It's an incendiary film that constantly reminds us that the obliteration of freedom –both personal and broad– tends to start in simple, subtle, and often well-intended ways. V for Vendetta is amazing, and not just because it's a well-made, fast-paced adventure. It's greatest impact rises not from the story it’s actually telling, but in its relationship to the world we live in. Ironically, if we lived in the reality the filmmakers urge us to create, there wouldn't be a need for this film.

As long as we're mired in irony, it should be noted that -while we can argue the artistic merits of the film 'till we're alabaster in the face- arguing the message of the film effectively makes us the "them" the film warns us against.

V for Vendetta is a constantly chilling and sometimes humbling wake-up call. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but we do have to accept that we are responsible for the actions of our government. “If you want to see who is responsible…” intones V, “Look no further than a mirror.”

I dare you.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Through a Glass, Darkly

"You know how much of our lives we’re alive, you and me? Nothing. Two minutes out of the year. When we meet someone new, when we get married, when, when, when, when we’re in difficulties... once in our life at the death of someone that we love. That’s it - in a car crash... and that’s it. You know, you know, we’re sheltered...."

Nancy's the best, isn't she?

My beloved wife got us tickets for the West Coast premiere of Edmond at Cinequest this almost-snowy weekend. Edmond is the latest David Mamet film... and we all know how I feel about David Mamet, right? I think it's safe to say I have an unhealthy interest in his work. In his work, I mean. I mean, his work? I have an unhealthy interest in it, yes. I mean... I dunno... he's really the Jackson Pollock of film, isn't he? He just... splashes words onto his canvas.

So... Edmond. What can I tell you? I can tell you that I think SuperMamet wrote a classic play about the dark dangerous impulses that exist in all of us, and that his adaptation of his play for the screen is nothing short of astounding.

As far as the plot goes... really, the play's the thing, but... okay. Edmond Burke (the ever-beleagured William H. Macy) visits a fortune teller who advises him, "You are not where you belong.... We all like to believe we are special. In your case this is true." This simple, cryptic statement sends Edmond down a dark, terrifying and sometimes hilarious rabbit hole. Carnal desire seems to be at the root of much of Edmond's dissatisfaction so he spends half of the film looking for love –okay, sex– in all the wrong places. Edmond's lusty quest leads him to street hustlers (No, Charlie! No!), whores and one very unfortunate pimp. Edmond is stultifyingly wary of being ripped-off or humiliated. Of course before the sun rises both befall him.

Edmond's racism erupts after a violent encounter with a pimp; this savage attack, however, makes Edmond feel more alive and powerful than ever. After failing to get lucky with any prostitutes (and losing most of his money), Edmond meets waitress/actress Glenna. She's won over by his philosophizing and agrees to take him back to her apartment. Glenna, it turns out, isn't offended by Edmond's bigotry; instead she finds the situation comfortable enough to air her own views. Eventually, and not surprisingly, Edmond commits murder and... well, I don't want to give it all away.... I can tell you this: he ultimately seeks redemption from a god he's not even sure exisits....

Edmond Burke, once an Everyman, ends up a convicted killer, thanks to his inner demons and the corruption of this modern urban life. If Arthur Miller had written Taxi Driver, it might have turned out like Edmond.

You know, David Mamet once said that his work is basically religious. I don't think I really bought that 'till we saw Edmond. Watch Edmond careen through the streets of Gotham, and gape as he searches for love, understanding and that sense of identity and belonging that the fortune teller invokes at the film’s opening... and finally cry, because for him, and for so many of us, they remain just out of reach.

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known." ~I Corinthians 13:11-12

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Waits 'till the Midnight Hour

Tom -“I’ll sue the funbags off anything that uses my songs to shill shit”- Waits did a television commercial?

Why, yes. Yes he did. A 1981 ditty for Purina’s Butcher’s Blend dog food entitled (ironically if you squint) “Billboard," to be precise.

Turns out the late 70s/early 80s Hell of his relationship with both Rickie Lee Jones and his manager Herb Cohen going south combined with a little ennui over his not huge success both financially and commercially may have spun the poor man’s head a little, resulting in the (real weird if you’re into his music) bone-chilling sound of Tom’s voice growling with desire “beef… liver… bacon.”

Friday, March 10, 2006

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Loompanics in the Street



It's a sad day indeed.

Legendary counter-culture book pushing house Loompanics is going the way of common decency, and they’ve slashed prices to 50% for a goodbye bonanza. Check it out! You may as well go on and read all about the cool stuff you could be doing to pass the time before your inevitable trip to Gitmo.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Year of Living Dangerously

Faster than a speeding bullet.
More powerful than a locomotive.
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Look! Up in the sky!
It's a bird.
It's a plane.
It's Superman!

Yes, it's Superman - strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman - who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel with his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights the never ending battle for Truth, Justice and the American Way.

Ain't no hypin' high enough, you axe me.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Monday, March 06, 2006

Save Ferris

If you read this blog regularly, you know two things:

1) Strangers are scary
2) I hate Sarah Jessica Parker

Well, Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker starred recently as sweethearts in Failure To Launch, but Matty reportedly couldn't stand Sarah off-screen. Although they were acting in a breezy (I wish I had more excuses to say "breezy") romantic comedy, sources on the set say filming was anything but fun. One insider says, "Matthew gets along with pretty much everyone, but he basically couldn't bear Sarah."

Poor Matt recently made an appearance on Oprah, and when asked by the great one to sum-up working with Sarah, Matt struggled, and eventually came up with "Great comedic timing." He then blurted, "Very peculiar, too. Man, she's a very interesting woman. Yeah."

Matthew McConaughey is about as easy-going as it's humanly possible to be without banging the local pharmacist. So, yeah... this doesn't make Sarah sound too good. You know what does make her sound good? Sticking her nose in a wind-tunnel.

God I hate her.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

But I'd Rather Get a Baldy

A mere three hours 'till the Oscars!

I know you're wondering, so here are my picks. Enjoy, and remember: no wagering!

BEST PICTURE
Brokeback Mountain

DIRECTOR
Ang Lee,
Brokeback Mountain

ACTOR
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote


ACTRESS
Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

SUPPORTING ACTOR
George Clooney, Syriana (for the record, I hope George wins in each of his categories)


SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, Junebug

FOREIGN FILM
Tsotsi, South Africa

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain


ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco, Crash (Sorry Woody)

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit


ART DIRECTION
Memoirs of a Geisha

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Batman Begins (A guy can dream, can't he?)

SOUND MIXING
King Kong

SOUND EDITING
King Kong

ORIGINAL SCORE
Munich, John Williams

ORIGINAL SONG
In the Deep, Kathleen "Bird" York and Michael Becker, "Crash"

COSTUME DESIGN
Memoirs of a Geisha

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
March of the Penguins


DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club

FILM EDITING
Crash

MAKEUP
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Sorry Mr. Lucas)

ANIMATED SHORT FILM
The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
Ausreisser (The Runaway)

VISUAL EFFECTS
King Kong


I'll report back after the show, either to gloat or make excuses.

UPDATE 3/05, later that same day:

Time to gloat!

17 out of 24! That put me 6 ahead of James (who is some sorta' award-predicting savant as long as he's predicting off the cuff at the 11th-hour) and 7 ahead of Nancy (who normally kicks my ass in these ballot races... I'm sure she'll snap out of this funk by next year's Golden Globes, and I'll be singing a different tune then)!

I've highlighted those I guessed right. As you can see, I guessed... what was it? Oh yeah! 17 out of 24 right!

As far as my misses go, okay, I knew Batman Begins had no chance, and though I'd never bet against John Williams in the "Original Score" category, I feared I chose the less Oscar-worthy of his two noms to win (turns out Brokeback Mountain's score won... go figure), and that thing that won "Best Song?" Come on, that was shit. There are plenty of, y'know, good hip-hop songs out there today, and that one we saw interpretatively danced tonight? Not one of them. The short films? Who cares. You want me to care? Make a long film... the bigger the better. But speaking of big, the biggest upset? Honestly, who really thought Crash would take home the Oscar for "Best Picture?" That one? Not my fault. My prediction (Brokeback Mountain) was fine... the winner was wrong. So really, I got 18 out of 24.

Someone owes me a light saber.