Saturday, April 30, 2005

It's a Madhouse!

I'd been hearing about this for a couple of days now and finally found it.

Yep. A monkey that smokes.

First sign language, now smoking. What's next? Riding on horses and throwing nets over Charlton Heston?

This makes me both laugh and lie in bed awake at night.

Friday, April 29, 2005

UPDATED - The New Avengers?



Weird.

Get the background on this truly surreal image here and here.

And for an odd parallel, check this out, courtesy of Tom Peyer:


From THE ONION...

Teen Reports SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE Has Sucked Since Chris Kattan Left

AUGUSTA, GA—Once an avid fan of Saturday Night Live, Tom Simms, 16, said Monday that the live sketch-comedy institution began a downhill slide after Chris Kattan exited the show in 2003. "They don't do funny stuff like Mango or the Roxbury guys anymore," said Simms, who, from 1998 to 2004, watched SNL whenever he had a babysitter or could sneak downstairs after his parents fell asleep. "After Kattan left, the show stopped taking chances." Simms' older brother Joel and his uncle Kurt agreed that SNL's quality has declined, but linked the show's suck-points to the departure of Jim Breuer and Joe Piscopo, respectively.
Personally I just feel like the show lost its heart when Kevin Nealon left.

What?

Bush's Spin Session

I was on an airplane yesterday evening so I missed Bush's televised press conference (his fourth, for those of you keeping score), but David Corn has a pretty good summary of what went down.

No great surprises here, as it seemed like little more than a fresh opportunity to reiterate the White House's tried-and-true spin, spin, spin, and if the facts don't line up, spin some more.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

BEGINS Trailers End

Apple has just posted the newest (and final) theatrical trailer for BATMAN BEGINS, and it's a doozy. It's getting harder and harder not to get excited about this one (which is, of course, what trailers are supposed to do, natch), but if this flick disappoints, I will lose all faith in the cinematic medium.

IDOL Talk

Okay, I want to emphasize here that I don't watch AMERICAN IDOL regularly, and I really don't have anything invested in who wins. Whatever familiarity I have with the show's various goings-on, I blame solely and completely on my wife.

That said, what was up with Constantine being voted off yesterday? C'maaaahn!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Kid Stays in...Jail

I've been shying away from the political stuff for the past few entries because, well, it starts getting awful depressing after awhile. Still, I had to blog this when I saw it. Clearly our government's tendency to overreact ad-absurdum has reached new lows based on this column from Ted Rall. And he makes a good point. Where is the righteous indignation over this? I guess it's easier to get worked up when actresses criticize 9/11 than when children are being thrown in jail. Unreal.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Yellow Fever

My good friend Brian Hall recently referred to the act of watching new episodes of THE SIMPSONS as something akin to being trapped in a loveless marriage. To be honest, it's hard for me to disagree, especially given the quality of some of the show's recent entries (the much-ballyhooed gay marriage episode being tops on the shit list). Regardless, 350 episodes in 16 seasons is still nothing to sneeze at, especially with the here-today, gone-tomorrow world of network television. E! Online has a look at the show's longevity, including how it stacks up against some other lengthy television runs.

SERENITY is Here!

Well, not until September 30th, but you can still watch the spankin' new trailer to whet your appetite.

Click here for all the Whedon-y goodness.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Suit Makes the Man

Here's that promised pic of Brandon Routh in full Super-regalia.



Here's the high-res version.

Click over to USATODAY.com for the full skinny.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Why he's just Super, man!

Filming on SUPERMAN RETURNS is in full swing over in Australia, with this past weekend seeing new Man of Steel Brandon Routh making his first appearance as a certain mild mannered reporter. I have to say, the resemblance to the late Christopher Reeve is astonishing...if not a little unsettling. Can't wait to see him in the ol' suit.



Click over to the Superman Homepage for more great pics and some videos too.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Now you see it, now you don't...

Bush administration eliminating 19-year old terrorism report
WASHINGTON - The State Department decided to stop publishing an annual report on international terrorism after the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the first year the publication covered.
Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Bryan Singer to the Rescue

In recent years, filmmakers have increasingly begun to use video journals to appraise fans on the progress of their in-production opuses. Director Peter Jackson did it with the LORD OF THE RINGS pics, and he's continued to do so for his upcoming KING KONG remake. Bryan Singer has also had regular video updates on SUPERMAN RETURNS courtesy of BlueTights.net.

In an inspired bit of "stunt-casting," the increasingly-fatigued, New Zealand-based Jackson called in Singer, who is filming in Australia, to pinch hit for him during KONG's last week. See Singer's side of the adventure here, then jump over here and see Jackson's perspective. Fun stuff.

(Be warned, these are large Quicktime files, so if you have a slow connection, keep away.)

Recommended Reading

Did you know that since last August, the government has set up a department dedicated solely to devising re-construction plans for twenty-five countries that aren't as yet even at war? Seems a little Machiavellian to me. Naomi Klein talks about this and more with the the onset of "Disaster Capitalism."

Thursday, April 14, 2005

HANNITY: Spare the Bunny!

Tom Tomorrow had a link to this transcript from a recent episode of Fox News' shout-fest HANNITY & COLMES. Like Tom, I was struck by the sheer absurdity of this whole thing. It really does read for all the world like finely-honed satire.

I have to say, I'm constantly bemused by people (on both sides of the political spectrum) who can so easily ascribe credit for all that is good to "their side" and assign blame for all that is bad to "the other guys." What follows is about as clear a demonstration of how absurd this nonsense can get. I've pasted the whole thing because, well, it's just that good.

BOB BECKEL, GUEST HOST: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." I'm Bob Beckel, filling in for Alan Colmes and stealing Sean Hannity's lines!

Tonight, there may be a new endangered species to add to the national register -- the Easter Bunny. Several south Florida shopping malls have renamed the large, white rabbit that's handing out plastic eggs to kids with names that don't refer to the Christian holiday, like "Peter Rabbit" and "Garden Bunny".

Is this political correctness going too far? Joining us now is the communications director of American Atheists, David Silverman.

David, what's up?

DAVID SILVERMAN, AMERICAN ATHEISTS: Hey, thanks for having me back on the show.

You know, first of all, I want to say that this is about private property and this is about private enterprise. And they can name their bunnies anything they want. They can name them Peter Rabbit or they can name them the Jesus Bunny for all we care. They are private enterprises, and they can do what we wish -- or what they wish, I should say.

BOB BECKEL, GUEST HOST: But why do they wish to do that?

SILVERMAN: Because it's capitalism. They're living in a place that is growing more and more diverse. And they're recognizing the fact that Easter is only Christian. And even though it doesn't have Christian roots, they're recognizing that is more than Christian, and they want to play on the safe side. They want to sell more stuff. When it comes right down to it, these malls want to sell more stuff. They don't want to...

(CROSSTALK)

BECKEL: If the Easter Bunny goes away, my kids are going to absolutely floor me. I'll tell you.

SILVERMAN: The Easter Bunny is not going away. It's just having a different name.

BECKEL: Good, that's important.

Sean?

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: You know something, David? Look, where is the tolerance on the left anymore? I mean, this is the Easter Bunny. This is about Bob's kids and my kids going to the mall. Are you really going to be hurt, are you really going to be offended by a mall identifying a bunny as the Easter Bunny? Is your faith shaken that deeply?

SILVERMAN: On a scale of one to ten, we're talking about a two. But on a scale of one to ten, the actual act of calling it something more neutral is nice to see. You know, it's nicer to see.

HANNITY: Should we remove the name of Jesus Christ from the public square totally?

SILVERMAN: We're talking about the Easter Bunny.

HANNITY: Take "In God We Trust" off U.S. coins, right? "One nation under God" out of the Pledge. We go back to the Declaration of Independence and say, "Endowed by our creator," out, too?

SILVERMAN: Absolutely not. We're talking about malls that are allowed to call the Easter Bunny anything they want.

--snip--

SILVERMAN: Bob, I want to make sure that you guys both understand this. This isn't something from the left that we're pushing. This is just something that's happening.

HANNITY: It's happening because of the left.

SILVERMAN: It's happening, and we're supporting it...

HANNITY: Because of the left.

SILVERMAN: No.

HANNITY: Because of guys like you, because you're demanding it, because of the frivolous lawsuits...

SILVERMAN: How can you blame me when we're not doing anything? This is something -- no, no, no, Sean. We're not doing anything. You're going a little too far here because...

HANNITY: No, I'm not. Why is it happening then?

SILVERMAN: Because of capitalism. They're going to sell more stuff.

HANNITY: All right. It's all happening because of capitalism.

(CROSSTALK)

SILVERMAN: They're not doing it because of the atheists. We don't have anything to do with it.

HANNITY: Why are the Boy Scouts under attack by atheist groups, by girls that want to be in the Boy Scouts, by gay and lesbian groups that don't like their values?

SILVERMAN: You want to talk about the Boy Scouts?

HANNITY: No, what it is an assault on the very people in the society that lecture us about tolerance. You guys on the left, you are the most intolerant people on the face of the Earth to the point now that the Easter Bunny cannot be named the Easter Bunny without offending somebody in your side.

SILVERMAN: I just told you that it barely offends anybody. I told you that we're not pushing it.

HANNITY: So let it go.

SILVERMAN: I don't push it. I'm not pushing it at all.

BECKEL: Let me just say one thing about the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts, when they allow gay Boy Scouts in the Boy Scouts, then that won't be a problem for me. But they don't.

HANNITY: But they can have the gay scouts if they want if they don't like the values of the Boy Scouts.

BECKEL: Come on. These are people, too.

But let's get back to this for a second.

HANNITY: They are people. You're right.

BECKEL: They are people...

HANNITY: And the Boy Scouts don't have to change their values to accommodate everybody...

(CROSSTALK)

SILVERMAN: ... public funds.

(CROSSTALK)

BECKEL: Let's be happy to know the Boy Scouts probably do keep the Easter Bunny. OK.

SILVERMAN: Final thought.

BECKEL: Go ahead, final thought.

SILVERMAN: American Atheists is having a national convention. It's the biggest atheist party of the year.

HANNITY: Oh, stop it. You know what? Pay me money for this.

SILVERMAN: Hey, you know what? Atheists.org. This is advertising, darned straight.

(CROSSTALK)

BECKEL: These guys down in Florida, do you really think -- Easter, you said it. I know it to be true. It's not in the bible. This is not a religious statement here. The Easter bunny is a brand name. I mean, why not keep it? It doesn't make any sense.

HANNITY: All right. We have got to break, Mr. Atheist.

SILVERMAN: Atheists.org. Thank you, everybody.

Ah, Hannity. So glad he's there to protect the Easter Bunny from those soulless, Christ-kicking liberals.

A little on the nose, don't you think?



Not especially surprised that the Secret Service are investigating this exhibit...I mean, that artwork isn't exactly subtle. The story mainly piqued my interest because it happened to occur at my alma mater, Columbia College Chicago.

Papal Politics

Did you notice how quickly the White House and its spin doctors rushed to turn the Pope's death to their political advantage? Jon Stewart sure did.

From THE ONION...

Cost of Living Now Outweighs Benefits

Geez...sometimes it feels like it, doesn't it?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Full Monty

Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame, has been a vocal and quite-witty opponent of the Bush/Blair follies that have been unfolding for all the world to see since 2001. To wit, here are his thoughts on the staggering toll of innocent Iraqi children the war has exacted.

As a sidenote, I highly recommend his book Terry Jones's War on the War on Terror, which collects many of his writings from the past few years about, you guessed it, the War on Terror.

A DVD Dose of DAILY - UPDATE

Here's the box art for the upcoming DAILY SHOW - INDECISION 2004 3-DVD set.



It's scheduled to hit shelves on June 28th, but you can pre-order it here.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Recommended Reading

Between the recent and prolonged deathwatches for Terry Schiavo and Pope John Paul II, the past few weeks have seen us virtually inundated with heaping helpings of morbidity, all given the media's gleaming stamp-of-approval. So where is this "culture of life" that popped up a few weeks ago so continuously in the speeches given by the President and his political cohorts? Frank Rich asks the same question, and comes up with some interesting answers.

The Shield

No, I'm not talking about FX's Michael Chiklis TV series...I'm talking about the revamped "S" symbol being used in the upcoming SUPERMAN RETURNS. Not too different from the familiar symbol we all know and love, but just different enough for the term "revamped" to still be applicable. I'm on board so far.



Click here for a bigger look.

So Much for the Fourth Estate

Michael Tomasky writes for The American Prospect on the fact that although Bush's approval ratings are pretty wimpy, you'd never know it based on the media coverage. This calls to my mind the larger question of the "Media Conspiracy" boogyman that hangs heavy in the discourse of most modern punditry. Depending on the particular pundit's own political leanings, this conspiracy is of the "Lunatic Liberal" or "Vast Right Wing" kind. Personally, I'd say if there is any kind of conspiracy, it's of the "Almighty Buck" variety, but Tomasky makes a pretty compelling case that there is indeed a Right Wing rot in the state of journalism.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Recommended Reading

So what's going on with Bush's "The Sky is Falling" proclamations about Social Security? According to Michael Hiltzik, this myth is being propagated by those with a vested interest in seeing the Social Security system fall apart. Interesting stuff.

The Lion in Winter

With the sale of MGM/United Artists to Sony Pictures, many feel that a legendary era in cinematic history has come to a close. Here's Anne Thompson from Reuters, discussing the impact of the studio's shuttering.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Life of a 911 Operator

The more I think about this, the more absurd it seems. From all indications, this is an actual 911 Emergency call. Wow.

Judicial Street Justice

Yesterday I referenced House majority leader Tom DeLay and his heavy-handed threats against the judges in the Schiavo affair. Since then, fellow bonehead Republican senator John Cornyn has also chimed in with his ideas on how t' learn them thar judges who disagree with him. Here's Jon Stewart on this bizarre new trend.

The Matrix Realized?

Day of the Matrix Coming

Sony has received a patent for a device that could transmit sensory data, including images, tastes and sounds, directly to the brain, Britain's New Scientist magazine reports in an edition to be published on Saturday. The device is described as "entirely non invasive," using ultrasound to focus on small groups of brain cells. Although the technology has not yet been tested, it is being taken seriously by a number of independent experts, the magazine said. Neuroscientist Niels Birbaumer of the University of Tübingen in Germany commented, "I looked at it and found it plausible." Other experts expressed concern about the long-term safety of such a device. Sony emphasized that at present, the device is purely theoretical. "This particular patent was a prophetic invention," a company spokeswoman said Wednesday. "It was based on an inspiration that this may someday be the direction that technology will take us."
Whoa, indeed.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Deny, Deter, DeLay

Whoops. It seems that House majority leader (and preeminent Republican loudmouth) Tom DeLay has been caught with his hand in the till. According to The New York Times, his wife and daughter have been the lucky recipients of half a million dollars by his political action committee, in what's being chalked up as "fundraising fees."

I gotta say, if you have to drop half a mil to get your own family to vote for you, something's not right. Seriously though, I suppose there's room for this to be on the up-and-up, legally if not ethically, but as a politician, shouldn't one strive to avoid even the appearance of impropriety? I suppose that's too much to ask.

Mind you, this all takes on an even more ironic bent when one takes into account that this is the very same Tom DeLay who took his Moral Indignation show on the road when he hitched his wagon to the late Terry Schiavo. Said DeLay recently of the judges who wouldn't hear Schiavo's case, "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behaviour."

What goes around comes around, Tom.

A DVD Dose of DAILY

THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART is coming to DVD in a 3-disc set collecting the show's complete "Indecision 2004" election coverage. Looking forward to this one. No date or specs as of yet, but I'll let you know as soon as more info becomes available.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Speaking of THE WEST WING...

Sweet! I get to be Rob Lowe!



The idealistic speechwriter is well-liked by just about everyone. He's known for his excellent writing, sense of humor, and tendency to be clutzy. Although being younger than the rest of the staff, he's often treated as so, much to his dismay.

Which West Wing character are you?


However, this also means I'm destined to not know a good thing when I have it, and wander from crappy, cancelled series to crappy, cancelled series.

WEST WING Declares War on God

Well, not exactly, but I'm sure that's what the Bushies would like you to believe.

The latest word is that the White House junta is pissed that those leftie, liberal producers of NBC's THE WEST WING (which has been quite good this season, by the way) seem to be showing their anti-religious bias yet again in the persona of Republican candidate Arnold Vinick, played by Alan Alda, who is one of two candidates poised to replace Martin Sheen's outgoing President Bartlett.

In a recent episode, Vinick's chief rival in the primary, a fundamentalist Reverend obviously modeled on Pat Robertson, drops out of the race and refuses the Vice Presidential nomination because of Vinick's pro-choice beliefs. In an obvious political move, he invites Vinick to come and "worship" at his church the following Sunday. When Vinick, an atheist/agnostic, is confronted by the press about this, the following exchange occurs:
Vinick: "Look...I respect Reverend Butler, and I respect his church too much to use it for my own political purposes. That's exactly what I would be doing If I went down there this sunday. The truth is that it would be an act of political phoniness. I may be wrong but I supspect our churches have enough political phonies in them."

Reporter: "Senator, do you or do you not..."

Vinick: "I don't see how we can have a seperation of Church & State in this government, if you have to pass a religious test, to get in this government. And I want to warn everyone in the press and all the voters out there, If you demand expressions of Religious Faith from politicians, you are just begging to be lied to. They won't all lie to you, but a lot of them will, and it will be the easiest lie they ever had to tell to get your votes. So every day until the end of this campaign, I will answer any question anyone has on government, but if you have a quesion on Religion...Please go to church. Thank You."

Here's the full clip.

Naturally this has led to much teeth-grinding and tongue-lashing, as witnessed by this bit from US News & World Report:
Bush Team, West Wing at War Again
White House and GOP insiders say they feel like suckers after falsely believing President Bush 's re-election would be met with acceptance from Hollywood. Their tip: Last month's West Wing episode in which the Alan Alda character blasted pols who use religion for political advantage. "Just when Hollywood was trying to get back in our good graces," said one insider, "they used that offensive script." Bushies think the script was targeting their boss. But Lawrence O'Donnell, a former Democratic Hill staffer, tells us he was just writing a good story, and he adds that the Alda character is a Republican presidential candidate. Then he let Bush have it. "If the White House worries that when that subject comes up it is somehow aimed at the president, well, you know, who told them to use religion in campaigning so much?" asks O'Donnell. "There's no one in our modern political history who has used his religiosity more deliberately and actively and falsely in campaigning than George Bush, second only to . . . Bill Clinton ."
I'll tell you one thing, even though I'm partial to Jimmy Smits' Democratic senator Matt Santos, given the alternatives, I'd vote for Vinick.

The SUPERMAN Shuffle: Laurie's out, Langella's in

The casting news continues to trickle in on Bryan Singer's upcoming SUPERMAN RETURNS. The latest word is that Hugh Laurie,

currently starring on Fox as the gruff-but-loveable Doctor House, who had been tapped to play the gruff-but-loveable Perry White (a.k.a. Clark Kent's boss), has been forced to step down due to his ongoing committment to the show. Stepping into the breach faster than a speeding bullet is character actor Frank Langella,

who is probably better known to children of the '80s as...

Must-Flee-TV, Part II

Fox Does 24-Hour Reality

That's it, I'm outta here.

Must-Flee-TV

Because you demanded it...

UPN Plans Britney Spears Home Video Wedding Series

What study? I didn't see any study.

Here we are four years after invading Afghanistan, two years after the invasion of Iraq, on the eve of more misbegotten adventures elsewhere in the Mid-East, and the Defense Department releases this study. Here's the relevant portion:

"There is no yearning-to-be-liberated-by-the-U.S. groundswell among Muslim societies -- except to be liberated perhaps from what they see as apostate tyrannies that the U.S. so determinedly promotes and defends," the Pentagon board said in a report.
"We're gonna free ya! Whether y'all like it or not! Here, read some comic books!"

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Please, please, please...

Back in 1995, when UPN was known as "The STAR TREK Channel" (as opposed to now, where it's known as the "Do We Still Have STAR TREK? Channel"), the netlet premiered a little show called NOWHERE MAN, starring versatile character actor Bruce Greenwood (he played JFK in the sublime THIRTEEN DAYS). Equal-parts THE PRISONER and THE FUGITIVE, this gem of a show came and went in a 25 episode blink of an eye. After all this time, I had practically packed the show away in the "Recycle Bin" part of my brain until I found this news bit on TVShowsonDVD.com:
One of UPN's earliest shows, Nowhere Man, may be coming to DVD soon, we've learned. The show starred Bruce Greenwood (St. Elsewhere) as Thomas Veil, a photographer with the negative to a photo that could expose the hidden agenda of a mysterious conspiracy. One day his identity is erased, completely! His wife (Megan Gallagher of The Larry Sanders Show and Millennium) doesn't seem to know him, his credit and ATM cards don't work, and now he's on the run.

Touchstone Television produced this series, and industry sources tell us Buena Vista has licensed it to Image Entertainment, who will produce the DVDs along with Davis-Panzer Productions for release by year's end. Look for all 25 epsiodes, digitally remastered, plus extras like deleted scenes, and interviews and/or commentary tracks from Creator/Exec Producer Lawrence Herzog, Co-Exec Producer Joel Surnow, star Bruce Greenwood and more.
Though the article goes on to mention that for the moment this is all strictly rumor mill stuff, I really, really, really would like this to be true. If there's anymore news forthcoming, you can believe I'll be all over it like a cheap suit.

Seeing Red (or not)

Red Falls Out of Favor as Teacher's Choice

Unreal.

Friday, April 01, 2005

As long as we get to win this time...

Not sure which segment of the public was clamoring for this, but June 14th sees the DVD release of what has to be the most inappropriate cartoon show of all time:

Only the 1980s could have spawned a kids' show about a borderline psychotic Vietnam vet with a higher per-film body count than your average movie slasher.

And yes, being the insane Rambo completist that I am, I will probably buy these. But I'll hate myself. So there.

FOUR-replay

A couple of days ago I posted a link to the ShoWest FANTASTIC FOUR trailer which had been hidden on the movie's site as an Easter Egg. Since then the trailer has been made available in much better quality courtesy of Apple. Check it out here.

No, really?

Schiavo a Full-Time Topic for Networks