Sunday, February 25, 2007

Running Diary: The Oscars

I'm keeping a running diary during the 2007 Academy Awards, a la Bill Simmons (and Nick, although he only did it once). I probably won't comment too much on what I think of the movies, but more on what I think about what's going on during the awards show. Let's do this.

5:30 Alright, here we go. The show is starting. A couple days from now, I’m probably going to forget who won what. But here is something the Academy Awards will do that will last a lifetime. The awards received today will decide the adjectives for future movie trailers that we will all see. They decide whether credits for The Italian Job 2 say “Academy Award Nominated Mark Walberg” or “Academy Award Winner Mark Walberg.” Good luck tonight, Mark.

5:31 Wasn't Ellen DeGeneres supposed to be hosting? I think I’m watching a really long, unfunny Apple commercial or something. Five minute of closeups, a white background, and baby piano music. Mac and PC do it better.

5:36 Okay, here’s Ellen. She’s wearing a maroon, velvet pantsuit. Why not wear a dress, Ellen? What are you, gay? Come on, I'm just joking. You know I love Ellen. I like her stand up, all of her tv shows (mostly based upon some character named Ellen), and also her talk show. I wonder if she’ll dance around and rap like she does on her talk show? Fingers crossed.

5:38 Penelope Cruz is hot. No sign of Scarlett Johansson yet.

5:44 Ellen is dancing around and tamborining in the aisles with a gospel choir. Classic Ellen.

5:45 Other than the host, the first two people to speak at the Academy Awards are a British dude and an Aussie Chick. I just think that it’s weird, being an American Award. Great national pride, Academy. Also, I think it’s funny how Australians talk sometimes. Nicole Kidman says “America” like “Ameriker.”

5:49 Cutting away to the first commercial break, we see the voice announcers for the show. Bamm. It’s Don Lafontaine. The guy who has the job I want. Coolest movie announcer voice ever. I know he’s done over 5,000 movie trailer voiceovers (seriously, he has), but man is he blowing up lately or what? First, he was on Family Guy, then the Geico commercial, and now face time at the Oscars. Pretty soon he’ll be starring in movies! Which might clear up space for me to voice over some trailers.

5:53 Will Ferrel, Jack Black, and John C. Reily sing about how comedians never win Oscars. And the whole time, in my mind, I’m critiquing their singing. “Will, you were a little pitchy in the second verse, and Jack, you were singing through your nose. John, the vibrato was a little overpowering for a group performance. I’m going to have to say no to Hollywood.” Can you tell I’ve watched all six seasons of American Idol?

5:55 Be careful Hollywood, Mark Walberg will kick your ass. He was arrested 25 times as a kid.

6:00 Abigail Breslin, that little girl from Little Miss Sunshine, is presenting an award along with Will Smith’s son, Jayden, from that music video “Just the Two of Us.” First Abigail was in the Apple commercial intro, then Ellen talked to Abigail in the monologue, then she was clapping in an audience shot, and now she’s presenting? We’re only a half hour into the show and I’ve seen this little annoying girl six times. Stop shoving her down my throat. I wonder if she’s been in any other movies? Or will she be in the future? Any future role that she does that doesn't get nominated for an Oscar is a letdown, right? She's peaked at ten years old. And now, every movie she's in will say “Academy Award Nominated Abigail Breslin.” What about when she’s in high school? Does she turn in reports with a title page that says “Global Warming and the Effects on the California Coast by Academy Award Nominated Abigail Breslin?” I wonder if she is going to be a child actor who grows up to make halfway watchable romantic comedies like Drew Barrymore. Whatever the case, just stop showing her during the awards show. By the way, I hope she loses.

6:01 Will Smith’s son reads a wrong line from the teleprompter and brushes it off with style. It was actually pretty cute/funny. Which means it was probably scripted.

6:10 Ellen apologizes and clarifies: Penelope Cruz is a hot Spaniard, not a hot Mexican.

6:12 The Hollywood Sound Effects Choir performs. It’s a pretty cool performance. Scenes are shown without sound, and this choir of people makes all the sounds with their mouth. Cars, rainstorms, alomst any and every sound you can think. It’s pretty much the same thing that this group did in that car commercial. This wasn’t as cool as the car commercial, but still pretty cool if you’re seeing them for the first time. Also, it appears that Howie Mandell’s brother is the director.

6:17 Hey, there’s Jessica Biel. Still no sign of Scarlett.

6:22 Ladies and Gentlemen, Academy Award Nominated Mark Walberg.

6:26 Ellen introduces another performance. It’s the rolling-on-the-ground shadow artist troupe from that other car commercial. On one hand, I think this is cool, even cooler than the sound effects choir. But on the other hand, I’m thinking WTF? Is the Academy just watching NFL commercials and saying “Hey, we should get those guys for our show?” Presenting the next award, Jay Mohr and a can of Diet Pepsi.

6:28 Apparently, Dove did a viewer contest for their Cream Oil Body Wash. And the winning commercial was just aired during the Oscars, much like the viewer-submitted NFL and Doritos commercials that aired during the Super Bowl. We in the advertising industry are screwed if this trend continues. We’ll all lose our jobs to horrible, but zero-cost, viewer-produced commercials.

6:32 Randy Newman and James Taylor perform some song from Cars.
I fast-forward the TiVo.

6:34 Melissa Etheridge performs some song from An Incovenient Truth.
I fast-forward the Tivo.

6:42 This is how Cameron Diaz was announced: “The voice of Princess Fiona from the Shrek movies, Cameron Diaz.” Ok, it makes a little sense because it was the animation award, but still, to me it seemed like she could take it as an insult to not mention any other role she’s ever had. They said, “Cameron, you’re hot and a talented actress, but in our opinion the only good thing you’ve ever done is talk in those green monster cartoons. That’s all we’re going to mention.” “You mean you can’t say Being John Malkovich, The Gangs of New York, Something About Mary, and Shrek?” “Ummm, I think we’re just going to say Shrek.”

6:46 I always forget what Ben Affleck won an Oscar for. Forces of Nature? No… Changing Lanes? No… Daredevil? No… Gigli! It’s gotta be Gigli, right? Then what is it?… oh that’s right, he allegedly co-wrote Good Will Hunting.

6:47 All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

6:50 Borat is nominated for something! Oh no, I wonder what scene they’ll show! I’m worried that Borat will embarrass the Academy if they show the clip of him running naked through a hotel. Whew, dodged a bullet on that one. They chose to show the clip of him shitting into a bag at a dinner party.

6:54 Heading to commercial, we meet our backstage reporter, Chris Connelly. Yes, the same Chris Connelly from Yo! MTV News, MTV Rock N’ Jock Basketball VII, and RetroSexual: The 80’s. Okay, I know that this guy did some real MTV News specials about voting and the war overseas, and he also does human interest reports for SportsCenter sometimes, but I just can’t take him seriously after eight years of Rock N’ Jock. Apparently he’s legit, though, because Tom Hanks knows who he is.

7:11 Ellen goes into the audience and gets Steven Spielberg to take a picture of her and Clint Eastwood for her MySpace page. And then she continues to give Spielberg composition instructions to make the snapshot look better. So far Ellen is doing a good job hosting.

7:20 We come back from commercial. Naomi Watts is presenting. But still no Scarlett. I’m starting to think she didn’t show. Or maybe she didn’t get invited! She’s never had the best attitude, and lately, she has been skanking it up a little bit.

7:30 Two foreign people are presenting the award for Best Foreign Language Film. The Academy is finally taking my advice.

7:32 The German guy who won had a long speech and the orchestra started to play him off. He said, “No I have to say one more thing…” Good for you man. Don’t let some band director tell you when to stop talking. You just won the biggest award of your life, but they want to cut you off so that they can air one more Chevy commercial. He said his last thing, which was short, but I wish someone would just continue until they get physically yanked by a bouncer. And then when they do get yanked, let their body go limp like a ragdoll, all non-violent-protest style.

7:35 Congrats to Jennifer Hudson, whom I did not vote for on American Idol. Also, ladies and gentleman, Academy Award Nominated Abigail Breslin. You lost little girl. You didn’t cut it. Better luck never.

7:44 Jerry Seinfeld is presenting an award by doing a 2-minute bit on movie theater snacks. Classic Jerry. They showed him in the crowd a couple of times earlier tonight. I was wondering what he’s been up to lately. I know he doesn’t need to work; he has, like, 50 Ferraris. But I always hope he’ll do something else in tv. He’s too funny to quit. Maybe he could host the Oscars next year?

7:47 They’re naming the documentary award nominees. I don’t know who’s won yet, but if you haven’t seen it, rent An Inconvenience Truth. I haven’t seen the other nominated movies, so I can’t say anything good or bad about them. But I also order you to rent When The Levees Broke. You NEED to see these two movies, NOW. Spike Lee’s When The Levees Broke couldn’t even be nominated for an award because of some strange rule; it aired on HBO before hitting movie theaters. Lame, Academy. Lame.

7:56 Celine Dion is singing. This is so 1997. I fast-forward the TiVo.

8:00 Clint Eastwood translates Italian for Ennio Morricone. Wow, this is a random and awkward scenario. Who knew that Clint spoke Italian? And is this a special occasion, or does he do this all the time? Like a side job, for the UN?

8:06 Hot Spanish (not Mexican) actress Penelope Cruz is presenting an award. I’ve given up on Scarlett.

8:06 Another funny word in Australian; Hugh Jackman said “roster” but it sounded like “rasta.” Yes, Rasta, like the Jamaican religion. Big ups and irie to Hugh Jackman, mon.

8:16 Chris Connolley’s nasally voice greets us once again as we’re heading to commercial. Why is he even here? Twice in three hours—do we really need a backstage reporter if we’re only going to use him for a total of 35 seconds out of three hours? Sorry Connolley, you’re gone next year when Seinfeld hosts. Ray Romano, you’re in as backstage reporter, and we're giving you a total of five minutes.

8:19 Despite Sawyer’s advice, Kate is going back for Jack. Oh wait, it’s just a commercial. Lost. Wednesdays at 10pm.

8:21 Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, and some other people from a movie I didn’t see sing a lot. I fast-forward the TiVo.

8:27 I am getting worried. My TiVo is saying I have three minutes left, but the big awards haven’t been given out. Crap I think the show is running long and my DVR can't account for that. Damn you, technology. I might miss the ending. Why didn't I watch it live?

Yeah, I missed the ending. I don't know exactly what happened. But I went online to do a litte research. It turns out that Scorsese finally won. He has deserved this for years. He’d been previously nominate for Raging Bull, Last Temptation of Christ, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, and The Aviator. He finally got it. Marty, call me in the morning. Congrats buddy.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I’m a little mad at my DVR right now. When I woke up this morning, all of my shows had been erased. Gone. Completely deleted. And I had no explanation why.

(Sidenote: A DVR is a Digital Video Recorder. Sometimes referred to as TiVo. TiVo is the Kleenex of DVRs. A DVR is like a magical VCR recorder that doesn’t need tapes--it’s all elecronical. If you are reading my blog, you are a person who should know what a DVR is, but then again sometimes gypsies and my mom read my blog. Okay now everyone is on the same page.)

I have Comcast’s Motorola DVR for HDTVs. It only costs $5 or $10 a month, sweet. It records HD channels for me, sweet. I can fastforward through commercials, sweet. I can rewind and watch funny parts again, sweet. It was a pretty sweet deal actually, until today, not sweet. I sat down to watch a recorded show while eating breakfast, and I see that I have no recorded shows and 100% memory available. What?!? Something is not right!

I do a little research on the world wide internets and find that this has happened to other people, too. Same service, same Motorola DVR. Some of those people got mad. And blogged in SCREAMING ALLCAPS. I don't blog in allcaps. I am somewhat relieved when I find that some internet geek found that the majority of these random erases can be fixed by calling Comcast. The Comcast person will send a reboot signal to my DVR, it will restart, and everything will be fine.

I called in, the lady tried it, and it did not work. The lady said to unplug it and replug it. Then, if that didn’t work, I was shit out of luck.

I was shit out of luck.

During my lunch break I called Comcast back to try and figure this thing out. I wanted to know why it erased all my stuff. The Comcast dude says that they at Comcast don't know what causes it to self erase. And that's what it really is, a self-erase. Had it just been a menu glitch or something else, their over-the-wire reboot would have fixed it. He didn't give a definite answer and passed the blame along to Motorola, saying that sometimes the machine has a perfect storm of computer code that tells it to self-erase. And Motorola is working on it. They will send out a firmware patch if it ever gets fixed. The good news is that this problem shouldn't happen again. It's not a hardware problem, just a random software glitch.

The good news is that the guy gave me a free month off of my Comcast bill for the trouble.

The bad news is that all my stuff is gone. Hours of comedy specials. A documentary or two that I wanted to backup on tape. Some episodes of Modern Marvels, Myth Busters, and Dirty Jobs that I hadn't watched yet. Hours of cooking shows that had recipes I was trying. Luckily I'm all caught up on Lost, 24, and American Idol.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Cyber Stung

I’m a little overwhelmed with all the news programs catching online predators. The one’s that set up sting operations and trap the perverts who try to have sex with young children. It’s becoming a little much.

Let me state that I’m not against local and national police doing these sting operations. I’m Pro-Sting. I don’t want these pedophiles out there prying on the innocence and/or ignorance of young teenagers. I think that this is an okay step in policing online communication. Currently, the mode of communication is MySpace or Facebook. But it seems like this problem has been around forever. It’s just the digital medium that’s changed.

These are concerns that people had with bulletin boards, then chat rooms, then instant messaging, and now online social networks. The only worrisome thing is that each progressive step in online communication reveals a little bit more information about the user, like a MySpace page providing information like the user’s age, high school, and pictures. Before these sites, a user could hide behind an ambiguous chat name.

So there, that’s said. I’m Pro-Sting. But I’m not Pro-Media-Blitz-The-Shit- Out-Of-The-Sting.

I can’t escape hearing about Operation Cyber Sting, or whatever that particular channel is calling their story. First there were national news shows, and now there are local news shows. And then there are all the fake news shows like Hollywood Access and Outside Edition. And the satirical news shows like The Daily Show and The Soup. And then talk shows like Leno and Conan. And I haven’t checked Univision or Telemundo yet, but I’m sure they’re covering it too.

And when the straight news isn't enough, the shows twist the angle and show the silly and stupid predators. I’m hearing about the stupid guy who gets caught twice in the same week by the same sting team. I’m hearing about the guy who gets caught and wants to know when the segment will air on tv. And so on and so on. Enough.

The sad thing is that these local news channels aren’t airing these segments for social justice. They’re airing them for ratings. If they continue to run this into the ground, the online pedophiles are just going to change up their tactics. They’ll talk amongst themselves or whatever they do. I don’t know if they have meetings or host a chat room, but they will get wise if we keep showing it to them at 11 o’clock every single night.

Why can’t the local media just let these stings happen in the background so that they continue to work for a longer period of time? Wouldn’t that seem like the most logical, most effective, most socially just thing to do? Yes, but that wouldn’t get the viewers ratings in, now.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Always Sunny in LOST

So, new episodes of Lost started back up last night. I'm not going to use my blog to talk about plot/hidden meanings/conspiracies. There are hundreds of Lost blogs that already do that (Lost + blog = Llog? Loblog? Stlog? I like stlog.). Anyway, there was one moment of the Lost episode that really shocked me: Seeing Mac from Always Sunny in Philadelphia standing in the jungle as an Others prison guard. He even had a rifle. This threw me off for the rest of an episode.

If you haven't seen the show, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you should. It's a comedy show on FX. It's been described as "Seinfeld on crack." It's about four not-too-intelligent friends who own a bar in Phily. Hilarity ensues. Episodes tackle subjects like underage drinking, birth control, firearms, national pride, but in a funny, entertaining way. Just watch it.

Well, the show's creator, Rob McElhenney, is also one of the show's writers and one of the four main characters, Mac. This guy, Rob McElhenney, is living the dream in my opinion. He created and wrote a comedy show. He got it made and run on an edgy cable network. And he acts in it, too. I would love to do this as a living. Write stories, act them out, and get paid. He's living the dream.

So WTF is he doing as a bit character on Lost? See, to me, I envision a struggling actor taking any supporting role he can get, and in his spare time he writes and pitches his comedy show to studios. But Mac already has his show. Why does he need to be an extra on Lost?

I did some research on the world wide internets and found out the story. Mac was in a restaurant and got approached by two fans who like Always Sunny. Turns out they were writers for Lost. Mac is a fan of Lost,wanted to see how a "real" show was run, and got invited to their set. They said hey dude want to be an extra. He said cool, no way. Done. People helping people. Scratching backs.

So I guess it turns out that he did it just for fun, because he loves Lost. I guess people guest star on other shows all the time. The cast of 24 is all over other shows. I mean how don't the guys on Heros recognize Sylar from CTU? And how come President David Palmer is trying to sell me car insurance?

Maybe the reason it felt so awkward to see Mac on Lost was because he is a writer/actor on a comedy show. Lost is a drama, a weird, fantastical drama, but serious acting nonetheless. I was just hoping to have Charlie pop out and go America all over the Others asses.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Celebrities Alergic to Couches?

It hurts my feelings when a celebrity is a guest on a late night talk show and then leaves when his or her segment is done. It hurts me as a viewer.

The guest might be an attractive model in a short dress, or maybe a politician who I want to hear more from, or just a funny comedian. Regardless of who they are or what they do, guests should be forced to sit on that side-couch to the left of the interview chair. They should not be allowed to leave when their five minutes are done.

The major reason I say this is because of the potential for awkward and/or unique interaction between dissimilar guests. I want to see what the comedian says to the Victoria Secret model. I want to see how the violin virtuoso compliments the metal guitar rocker on his new album. I want to see how Barack Obama reacts to Paris Hilton's idiotic comments.

This is my favorite part of the talk show setup. The first guest scooting over, and the second guest sitting next to the first. Usually celebrities have an agenda while on the show--to promote a new album, movie, charity, or whatever. But when their five minutes are done, and they are sitting on the side couch, they can just be themselves. Real. Natural. No agenda. I don't like it when a guest is "too busy" and has to leave. I get the feeling they came on the show just to shill their crappy tv show. But if they stick around, I know that they care, or at least are good sports and act like they care.

Comedians are probably the best side-couchers. They sit over there and interrupt with a relevant joke. Ha ha, people laugh. The host says a joke too. Ha ha, more laughs. And back to the interview. I like this. I smile. Veteran actors are good, too. They are confident and don't mind interrupting/joining in/sharing. Models are also good, because everyone wants to talk with a model. Some rocket scientist could be explaining solar physics to Conan O'Brien, and he would pause to see if Heidi Klum had some funny story that even partially relates to anything.

Sometimes the side-guest main-guest relationship doesn't work out. The people are just too different, one guest is shy, or one is really creepy. This isn't always a bad thing. As a viewer, I enjoy conflict as well. This week on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, Jimmy kicked Andy Dick off the side-couch for fondling Ivanka Trump. I wish there had been more kicking and fighting, but I'll take what I can get.

So, I propose a new ultimatum. All guest on late night talk show are required to stay until the credits roll. No exceptions. Except for models, because, I mean come on, who wouldn't bend the rules for a model?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Original, Groundbreaking Sports Headline

I haven’t blogged about sports in a while, but today I have something special. I have a hard-hitting, groundbreaking, monumental headline that I have seen no local or national sportswriters cover since Superbowl XLI ended yesterday.

And I can’t figure out why nobody in the media has covered it. My best guess at an explanation is that this story is being swept aside by these two major stories:
1. Peyton Manning finally succeeding in winning “the big game.”
2. Tony Dungy being the first African-American coach to win the Superbowl.

And those two things are great. They are big headlines. But every, and I mean EVERY, newspaper/news website/blog has something to say about those stories. I am providing you with a new headline/story/teaser that I guarantee no one else has.

And on top of discovering this story, I’m giving this one away. I want a professional to do some further research, add a little finesse, and then publish this story for all to read. If some national or local writer wants to take this and run with it, I’m giving him or her full reign. Write away. John Clayton, Peter King, Bill Simmons, Peter Hockaday, heck, even John Canzano, I allow you a crack at this headline.

Are you ready? Here is it:

Lovie Smith, the first (and only) African-American coach to lose the Superbowl.