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Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

That’s what it’s called on Youtube. I think it’s neat.

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I went to see Dina Martina last night for the first time. Given her alarming appearance, her humor is surprisingly gentle. She comes across as a very nice woman who you would love to have over to the house sometime. A kindred spirit really. But again that scarily drawn mouth does make you pull back.

Dina Martina purposely mispronounces words. It’s a phenomenon I’ve noticed in my Dad. It’s almost as if he likes the fact that people are confused and want to correct him. Dina always gives away gifts pronounced jifts. Gift giving is jift jiving. It’s very fun.

I’m heading up to Whistler today with my computer, so hopefully I’ll be able to get some good photos in.

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I went to see the new James Bond movie Quantum of Solace this weekend. Did you know that there is now such thing as an AM matinee. I’m not sure if it’s everywhere, but we paid $6 a piece to see the show at 10:30 in the morning. The drawbacks are: who can eat popcorn at 10:30 in the morning? But I digress.

Quantum of Solace was a surprisingly fun popcorn movie (sans the popcorn.) I’ll admit I never saw any of the Pierce Brosnan Bond movies, but somehow I think I can safely say that I prefer this new franchise. I remember reading an article about the Pierce Brosnan movies where they described how difficult it was to update Bond. To make him less of an asshole when it comes to women, and to make women less bunny-like.

What is great about the Daniel Craig movies is that from the onset Bond is an asshole. He’s a thug. He doesn’t blink at using people to accomplish his goals. He doesn’t care if those he uses are innocent or if they are also women. If he does, we don’t really see it.

This James Bond is post-modern. The more cartoonish aspects of the character are suggested but never spoken. Take for instance the famous martini. Bond is drinking what appears to be a martini, the bartender describes the ingrediants of a martini, but the word martini is never uttered. How about those ridiculous vixen names? Bond asks a woman what her name is. Miss Fields, she answers. Fields, just Fields, he says. Just Fields, she answers. How’s that for post-modernism.

And of course there are the explosions and the car chases and the swanky environments on top of it. Mathieu Amalric is wonderful as the villain, though I’m still missing the great Mads Mikkelsen from Casino Royale. Mads does appear to have a credit for Quantum of Solace for the same character from Casino Royale. Somehow I missed that cameo. Too bad. I can’t get enough of Mads Mikkelsen.

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RIP Paul Newman

1925-2008

Here’s a clip from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

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Here’s an interesting article on parents who use corporal punishment in order to discipline their children. Instead of looking at the psychological affects on the child, it looks at the psychological and “addictive” affects on the parent.

But parents keep on hitting. Why? The key is corporal punishment’s temporary effectiveness in stopping a behavior. It does work—for a moment, anyway. The direct experience of that momentary pause in misbehavior has a powerful effect, conditioning the parent to hit again next time to achieve that jolt of fleeting success and blinding the parent to the long-term failure of hitting to improve behavior. The research consistently shows that the unwanted behavior will return at the same rate as before. But parents believe that corporal punishment works, and they are further encouraged in that belief by feeling that they have a right and even a duty to punish as harshly as necessary.

My parents very much believed in corporal punishment. In fact, I love the scene from Mommie Dearest with the wire coat hangers because it gives me slight vindication thinking that my mother’s proclivity to hit me with wire coat hangers is considered so bad that it’s the most crucial scene in a film about abuse. Does that make me weird?

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I love films that begin with confusion. You watch just to find out what is going on.

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For those of you watching Project Runway, here’s an article about last season’s winner Christian Siriano’s debut collection. I’m glad to hear he’s doing more than maternity wear. Here’s a link to view the photographs of the collection.

Interesting quote from the article:

“I just think there are so many reality shows that people become famous but they’re not really famous for anything,” Siriano said in a phone interview Monday while casting models. “At least people on ‘Project Runway’ are talented.”

Well….some of them anyway.

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This is the age we live in. Disabled people being attacked by assholes.

The audience at the Toronto Film Festival press screening of “Slumdog Millionaire” didn’t know they were also going to get live entertainment Saturday.

There’d been lots of Oscar buzz about Danny (“Trainspotting”) Boyle’s flick, about a poor Mumbai guy who wins a girl and becomes a national hero by going on a game show. So the screening room was packed.

Soon after the lights went down, a source tells us, “a man in the audience started yelling, ‘Don’t touch me!’ People looked around and shrugged. Ten minutes later, the voice yells again, ‘I said don’t touch me!'”

Again, people shrugged off the disturbance. But a few minutes later, says our source, “the guy stands up in the darkness and thwacks the guy behind him with a big festival binder. He hit him so hard everybody could hear it. Everyone freaked out and turned around.”

The thwacker? New York Post film critic Lou Lumenick.

The thwackee? Esteemed Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert.

After battling thyroid and salivary gland cancer for years, Ebert, 66, can no longer speak.

Via Slog.

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A pretty girl who won national fame after singing at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games was only miming.
Wearing a red dress and pigtails, Lin Miaoke charmed a worldwide audience with a rendition of “Ode to the Motherland”.

But the singer was Yang Peiyi, who was not allowed to appear because she is not as “flawless” as nine-year-old Lin.

The show’s musical director said Lin was used because it was in the best interests of the country.

They faced a dilemma because although Lin was prettier, seven-year-old Yang had the better voice, Mr Chen said.

“After several tests, we decided to put Lin Miaoke on the live picture, while using Yang Peiyi’s voice,” he told the radio station.

“The reason for this is that we must put our country’s interest first,” he added.

I can absolutely say that both of these girls are beautiful. This is so sad.

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I’ve just discovered “Mad Men” in its second season. What a great show. The show reveals the lives of the employees of an advertising firm in the early 1960’s. What I really like about this show is that it shows an earlier part of American history without the rose-colored nostalgia that we are so used to. It’s gritty, real and sometimes very depressing.

Because the characters work for an advertising firm, there is a lot of insight into the cultural norms of the time which I find fascinating. It also allows the show to have “Mad Men” intros to the actual commercials for the show. So this week it had a little intro into a pharmaceutical commercial that told us drug companies were not permitted to advertise on television until 1997. Normally that sort of connection between a show and its advertisers would be annoying, but since it’s not subliminal product placement it’s actually very interesting. And of course back in the 60’s they were much more open about what advertisers sponsored what shows.

Speaking of nostalgia, here’s a clip from the show.

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I posted this same youtube video of the Bernie Mac show during a recent controversy which you can read about here. The pettiness of the controversy seems so silly now that Bernie Mac has passed away.

The video really gives you the sense of what the Bernie Mac show was — a surprisingly smart sit com in a sea of sub par entertainment. While critics and the public laud shows like Seinfeld, Bernie Mac goes undiscovered by many. If you haven’t watched The Bernie Mac show before I highly recommend that you give it a shot. May the great Bernie Mac rest in peace.

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I was watching Verdict last night on msnbc when I caught this absolutely disturbing Saturday Night Live skit with John McCain. I guess the really disturbing part is that he is quite good as stalker. I always thought Bill Clinton was quite a thespian, but John McCain has one on him. McCain’s performance is a little too good to enjoy. Apologies for the adverts.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “John McCain on SNL“, posted with vodpod

Update: Not having luck with the add-on vodpod, but you can click on the link to see the video here.

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The film Center Stage is one of my guilty pleasures. The plot is ridiculous and there is an implausible lack of gay male dancers, but still you get to see Ethan Stiefel dance. Here’s the ending dance sequence.

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Smart Girls

I love this scene from The Big Sleep. It’s playful, risque and the woman is well read. What more could you want?

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So I’m reading the Seattle Post Intelligencer (not sic) blog on the reality series “The Next Food Network Star” when all of a sudden this sentence pops out at me. Do I question it? Do I make any sense of it? No, I just assume it’s some weird Food Network language.

Luckily an astute commenter revealed the truth.

Susie Fogelson did not say that Lisa lost her virginity. She said she never lost her RIGIDITY.

I’m really glad you don’t have to be a virgin to be a Food Network star.

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Bernie Mac got some heat for telling a joke at an Obama fundraiser. Here’s the line that caused the problem:

“My little nephew came to me and he said, ‘Uncle, what’s the difference between a hypothetical question and a realistic question?”‘ Mac said toward the end of his routine. “I said, I don’t know, but I said, ‘Go upstairs and ask your mother if she’d make love to the mailman for $50,000.”‘

“Hypothetically speaking, we should have $100,000. But realistically speaking we live with two hos,” Mac said, delivering the joke’s punchline.

Do I think it’s funny? Well, I wasn’t there so I can’t really say. But it reminds me of Sonny and Cher humor where Sonny was always the cuckold. At least I think that’s how I remember it.

I like Bernie Mac. I think his humor is usually pretty smart. I wouldn’t say I watch a lot of black sitcoms on TV, but I did watch Bernie Mac. I liked how there was no laugh track on the show and you really had to think to get the joke. I haven’t watched much of his stand up comedy, but I think if he took Obama’s advice to clean up his act he’d probably be out of a job. Odd to think that George Carlin just died and stand up comedy is still controversial.

Here is the shortest clip I could find from the Bernie Mac show.

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I just read this piece on Slate on how WALL E is a commentary on obese Americans.

Wall-E tells us that if we don’t change the way we live, we’ll all get really fat and destroy the world.

Do any of these cinema deconstructors like Daniel Engber actually see the movie there are writing their might-as-well-be-undergraduate-term-papers on? Or do they just leave after the first half hour?

Wall-E is an innovative and visually stunning film, but the “satire” it draws is simple-minded. It plays off the easy analogy between obesity and ecological catastrophe, pushing the notion that Western culture has sickened both our bodies and our planet with the same disease of affluence. According to this lazy logic, a fat body stands in for a distended culture: We gain weight and the Earth suffers. If only society could get off its big, fat ass and go on a diet!

But the metaphor only works if you believe familiar myths about the overweight: They’re weak-willed, indolent, and stupid. Sure enough, that’s how Pixar depicts the future of humanity. The people in Wall-E drink “cupcakes-in-a-cup,” they never exercise, and if they happen to fall off their hovering chairs, they thrash around like babies until a robot helps them up. They watch TV all day long and can barely read.

When humans first appear they are mostly as Engber describes. They are obese, they look at their computers all day, and they are unable to move without assistance and thrash about. If I had left the cinema at that moment, I may have gotten the same impression as Engber. But Engber is more describing The Triplets of Belleville, a French film that depicts Americans as obese and all the humans (American or not) are deprived of any feeling.

I have no idea what Engber is talking about when he says humans are “weak-willed, indolent, and stupid.” Quite the contrary, when the humans first look beyond their computers we find that they are stunningly caring, curious, and hopeful. When pressed they take risks in order to turn around the direction of their lives. I was especially touched by the scene where the babies are slipping and the two humans characters rescue them. I also found the captain’s sheer joy learning about Earth a very special commentary on what makes humanity what it is.

I would also like to say that there is a scene explaining why the people are so fat and unable to move amiably. In zero gravity for 700 years, the humans have had a bit of bone loss and they lack the muscle power to move themselves around.

There are plenty of movies that degrade humanity. Daily we open the paper to read about jerks who make us feel hopeless about our species. But WALL E is not one of those movies. In fact, it’s trying to do the opposite. It says wake up kids, you can make a difference. Even at the bleakest times in life you have the power to make change.

Picture via doobybrain.com.

Update: Apparently this is a big issue, and I’m starting to think I was a tad too harsh on Slate. You can read about the controversy here. My feeling is still the same. Perhaps the difference is that when I see obese people, I don’t automatically think they are disgusting horrible consumer’s responsible for all the world’s ills. I love the three human characters we get to know. They are endearing and I don’t think that says anything bad about being fat.

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An independent market-research firm, AIMRCo (Adult Internet Market Research Company), has discovered that many websites focused on adult or erotic material have experienced an upswing in sales in the recent weeks since checks have appeared in millions of Americans’ mailboxes across the country.
According to Kirk Mishkin, Head Research Consultant for AIMRCo, “Many of the sites we surveyed have reported 20-30% growth in membership rates since mid-May when the checks were first sent out, and typically the summer is a slow period for this market.”

Via Huffingtonpost.

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I remember being a kid and learning about “bad” things in school like the effects of smoking and drugs. Later we would learn about recycling and re-using. I remember Arbor Day when we would plant a new tree. I suppose the idea was to encourage children to practice good habits hoping that some of those habits would have an impact on the parents’ habits. It seems no different now to encourage children to be conservationist today, but I suppose the vocal minor-minority has to whine about something.

In WALL E, the Earth has become uninhabitable due to piles of garbage. Garbage is probably more tangible to a child than global climate change, but there are unpredictable dust storms in the film hinting at just that. And how fictitious is its subject manner anyway?

Electronic waste in China.

Trash heaps look like buildings in WALL E.

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When watching a Pixar movie like WALL E, you can’t help but think how grateful you are that it is Pixar at the wheel and not Disney. I realize Pixar is owned by Disney, but as a completely uninformed outside observer I distinguish the two.

WALL E starts surprisingly bleak and its commentary can be brutal. Humans no longer inhabit Earth and it is just one large garbage pile. The big box store and the idea of big is what has doomed the Earth, and humans have fled. When we do see humans in space, they are fat and completely distant from one another, attached to their computers without ever looking up to see what is around them. You would think with such depictions that the film would be a depressing lecture on society, but WALL E is much more optimistic than that. It’s beautiful, heartbreaking and hopeful all at the same time. Humanity is not as bad as it appears.

How can a social message exist among entertainment? It’s something that I don’t think Disney could accomplish. The commentary would be less critical. There would be the desire not to offend big box stores. The cockroach friend of WALL E would probably sing and dance instead of just being a silent companion. We wouldn’t have heard the line “stay the course” as an indicator of bad leadership. Even the voices would be performed by famous Hollywood actors. WALL E doesn’t do that.

And that brings me to my last pleasant surprise about the movie. I stayed for the ending credits and noticed that the actor who played EVE was a theatre friend from college, Elissa Knight. I’m so happy to see that she has carved out a career for herself. As EVE, she’s brilliant. I loved this film.

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This came up at trivia last night. Still as great a song as ever.

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I get sad when I think about all the great things of the past that are dying out. Like dancing. Can the formation dancing of Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake really ever compare with Fred Astaire?

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A friend knowing that I play pub trivia not once but two times a week asked me if I wanted to go to Purr to play trivia. Purr is a very trendy gay/lesbian bar with very good music. For those interested, Purr’s quiz takes place on Sundays at 8:00. There is no charge to play.

Purr is definitely unique among quizzes in Seattle. The four rounds of questions were almost exclusively about things you could in one way or another connect with gay or lesbian pop culture. The first round was Will and Grace, the second Rainbow (subtitled Colors of the Wind), the third Stacked (literature), and the final bonus round had three questions with the themes lesbians, divas, and musicals. The rules are unbelievably complex, but they include wagering points for the bonus round and a distinction between “given” points and “earned” points. A nice added touch is that the quiz master plays music in between the rounds that has a loose connection with the themes. For instance the Will and Grace theme music and Cindy Lauper’s True Colors.

For Colors of the Wind, we had the question: This group had the song “Hammer and Nail” on their album Nomads, Indians and Saints. I was surprised to hear what I thought was the lesbian team (they cheered when someone said the word lesbian so I’m just guessing) ask for a repeat of that question. Surely you should have your card revoked if you’re a lesbian team and you need a repeat on an Indigo Girls question. I’m just saying.

For the final bonus round, my friend and I were 10 points behind the leader – oh did I mention there were only 3 teams? Anyway, for the bonus round the deciding question in the category diva was: which diva is credited for launching the careers of Katey Sagal and Melissa Manchester. As the leading team did not know the answer Bette Midler, my humble team of two ended up winning. The prize: two tickets on the Seattle Pride Cruise next week for the Gay Pride Festival.

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All of the great classical actors of Twentieth Century played Othello like Olivier and Gielgud, but there must have been some shift in the public psyche when it became more advantageous to play Iago. This version of the play focused on contemporary psychology of the characters, and perhaps it’s modern psychology that makes Iago so palatable.

Iago is just pure evil. Modernly, he could be known as a racist yet that really wouldn’t be accurate. Iago hates everybody. He most certainly hates women, dullards and quite frankly the human race in general. Could it be that he hates the Moor more because of the color of his skin. Perhaps. Being passed up for a promotion may be worse if you realize that your opponent is from a class usually discriminated against. It kinda shows you how really unworthy you must have been.

Iago may be a better part to play, but surely Othello is a more difficult part to play. A man in love, who becomes consumed with jealously. A brute. It’s hard to sustain that for three hours.

Like Hedda Gabbler, I felt that I wanted the tragedy to end a different way. It’s all so fatalistic, which is a tendency of my own — to think fate is the cause of all my problems. Why, why do none of the characters start asking questions until the last act? Othello, Desdemona, Emilia Iago’s wife? No one seems concerned with fact until it is too late. I suppose that is exactly what tragedy is — to watch people doomed to their fate slowly undo themselves.

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Seems like some ad campaigns are universal. Click here to watch the video.

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