Saturday, March 31, 2007

Oh Baby

I saw the below book moments ago while waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store. It was sandwiched between Star Magazine and TV Guide.

I can't help but think that anybody who would need such a book probably shouldn't be reproducing.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Fast Forward: The Sopranos in Seven

The final episodes of The Sopranos will begin airing April 8 on HBO.

If you've never watched the show, but would like to start, all you need is 7 minutes. Watch below.

I agree with one of the people who commented on the below YouTube video. He or she observed that whoever put this 7 minute and 36 second recap together "deserves a nice big Lasagna."

You'll also notice that The Gays have played an important part of past seasons, as noted in the video, but not exactly in the best, stereotype-free light.

No Stage Magic For This Production?

It must have been a year ago that I started reading The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. In that year, despite it being a very short read, I never finished. I could never put a finger on the exact reason why. The book got glorious reviews.

Terry Teachout at the Wall Street Journal and Ben Brantley at the New York Times (an acquaintance of Didion's) reviewed today the stage version of Joan Didion's book. The show just opened in New York at the Booth Theater.

I haven't seen the new stage version, but I think Teachout may be on to something when he critiques both the play and the book on which it is based.

Teachout is going to draw some major criticism as well, since he is the first to point some things out that no doubt others have felt, and his review might come off as rather cold, especially since this work by Didion is based on the death of her husband and her daughter, who died young, 39, my present age.

First in the complaint line about Teachout should be, not surprisingly, Joan Didion herself.

Let me also note, as Teachout does, that "the death of a loved one is among the most devastating things that can happen to a human being, and that Ms. Didion is to be pitied for having been forced to swallow a double dose."

Yes, absolutely.

But the word Teachout uses to describe the play is ... meritricious.

What a great, unkind and probably fitting word. Is it appropriate? I can't answer that until I finish the book and see the play.

But to describe any creative person or creative work (particularly a personal work based on the deaths of two close loved ones) as meritricious has to be ... painful.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Does 'Lost' Now Have Two Gay Characters?

During a throw-away line snuck in as part of a flashback scene in last night's episode of Lost, the character of Boone is told by his sister to stop flirting with guys.

Does this make the character of Boone Lost's first gay character? (Make that second gay character: One of The Others, pictured below, already has made clear to Kate that she is "not his type.")

We also know that Boone, who died during season one, also had sex with (and a thing for) his step-sister, Shannon.

So does this make him bi?

Or was Shannon just joking or being bitchy?

Or maybe Boone is just confused and questioning, like many viewers are about where the show is going?

Before the plane crash, Boone was the chief operating officer for his mother's .... wedding business.


The exact quote from Shannon: "If you quit flirting with random guys maybe we could actually get on the plane."

Yes, she is talking about the plane that would crash.

'Rosebud Is the Sled,' Silly

Last night's episode of Lost on ABC mixed in several parts The Twilight Zone with a nice sprinkling of Edgar Allan Poe.

I loved the episode -- the best one in more than a month, since the "You're gonna die, Charlie" episode, another Twilight Zone-esque episode with an ironic twist at the end.

My enjoyment wasn't even spoiled by Wally who, about 35 minutes into the show, and with two "dead" bodies stretched out lifeless on the beach, turned to me and said: They're not dead.

Wally, like my friend Bobby M., has a mind that can completely figure out or deduce mysteries, and both love to spoil the surprises for people less swift than they, like me.

Both Bobby and Wally read a lot as children, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I guess this is why Wally found the twist on last night's episode of Lost so ... elementery.

Me? I read Encyclopedia Brown, and I was always surprised at the endings, especially the shocking end to Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Missing Silk Panties.
You don't need to be a detective to figure out that 1) I made up the name of that Encyclopedia Brown missing silk panties book and 2) If that book were written, I have a beat on just who the guilty party is, and it sure isn't Bugs Meany. In this caper, a certain Boy Detective who likes mysteries better than girls sure would have some serious splainin' to do to gal-pal/victim Sally Kimball.


Love Is ...

From The Leader-News (Greenville, Kentucky), via the "Small Town News" segment on The Late Show with David Letterman earlier this week.

This American Life: My Type of Quirky

A reader of this blog, my friend "Double R," emailed me earlier in the week to recommend that I check out the Ira Glass show This American Life on NPR.

And though I haven't yet listened to the radio show, I did check out his new TV show on Showtime last night.

I absolutely love it. HIGHLY recommended.

Double R writes: "As far as the TV version, it was okay but the radio is still better so far."

I now have something to look forward to "watching" ... on the radio, and on TV.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Birds of a Feather: Rumsfeld and Fred Rutherford

On the old show Leave It To Beaver, we get to meet only one of Ward Cleaver's co-workers, Fred Rutherford. Fred is very competitive with Ward -- always snooping around his desk and trying to get ahead, pointing out how his son (Lumpy) is so much better than Ward's sons (especially Wally).

Ward is not so fond of Fred. Fred is all about office politics and ego; Ward, more serious, just wants to get the job done.

Now, and I promise you I have a point, consider this paragraph from a New York Times Book Review last Sunday:
After the 1988 presidential election, Donald Rumsfeld sent George H. W. Bush a congratulatory letter. In it, Rumsfeld, who had antagonized Bush during the Ford administration, wrote that he would “like to be your ambassador to Japan.” It was quite a comedown for Rumsfeld, who had harbored presidential ambitions of his own. But a person on the Bush transition team responsible for handling such requests noticed that Rumsfeld’s letter had already been reviewed, and that scrawled across it in capital letters was a fatal verdict: “No! This will never happen!! G. B.”

Rumsfeld, as Andrew Cockburn shows in his perceptive and engrossing biography, got his revenge over a decade later when president-elect George W. Bush invited him to his temporary headquarters in Washington’s Madison Hotel. Bush knew that his father hated Rumsfeld, which served as a kind of recommendation, and Rumsfeld, who was well aware of the contentious relations between the two Bushes, played to the younger man’s insecurity, reassuring him that he was eminently suited to be president. “In return,” Cockburn writes, “Bush could give what Rumsfeld customarily exacted from close associates: loyalty and obedience.”

Here's the full book review.

Can you imagine Wally Cleaver, years later and as CEO of, say, Mayfield Electric, hiring the hated Fred Rutherford as one of his key advisors?

That would be kind of fucked up, right?

Here and here are two earlier posts that look at this daddy-son relationship involving Bush the Greater and Bush the Lesser.

Things I Find In My Basement


One deck, John F. Kerry Presidential Playing Cards, never used.

This Girl Has Really Got Me Down

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Things I Find In My Basement


This is the response to a fan letter I wrote to Alan Alda when I was a kid.

I'm not saying it made me cynical or anything, but I found his reply curious since in my letter I hadn't mentioned a single word about M*A*S*H.

This still makes me sigh.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tiger Woods, Jimmy Stewart and Bob Hope

... All on the same set, for a taping of the Mike Douglas Show, when Tiger Woods was 2 years old. Watch below:

I love YouTube!

PETS: People for the Ethical Treatment of Soldiers

Rosie O'Donnell, on the tainted pet food that has been pulled from shelves, this morning, on The View:
This has been all over the news. It really started on March 16. And since then, 15 cats and one dog have died, and it's been all over the news. And you know, since that date, 29 soldiers have died. [pause]. And we haven't heard much about them.

... I just think it's interesting that so much news coverage is about the kitties.

The Future of Live Theater?

Sunday afternoon I went to see some live theater, my third play in four days: a drama (but also funny) with a strong script that was nicely acted by the leads. There were maybe 12 paid members in the audience. And it was a show worthy of an audience. And of these three shows -- two plays and one musical -- I would put the average age of the audience members at probably 50-something.

Twelve people in the audience for a well-done show with a thoughtful script? Even a really horrible YouTube video can get 12 accidental and undeserved views.
Speaking of YouTube, the below video is a work of theater that as of this morning has gotten 1,803,958 views. One thing is for sure: You don't have any script problems for this classic work, a delightful rendering of Hamlet using cat heads.

How YouTube Is Shaping A New Kind of TV

If you like parodies, you may want to check out the new show on VH1 called Acceptable TV. Each week they have five mini TV show pilots. Viewers vote on their favorites: Two shows get renewed, and three get canceled. You can watch the five mini pilots here.

This week's pilots include a James Bond spoof called Homeless James Bond; a short called Joke Chasers that draws inspiration from those God-awful Ghost-hunting shows that my friend Bobby M and my LUH-ver Wally seem to live for; and a game show called Who Farted? that parodies Deal or No Deal by crossing it with any number of other of the new breed of game shows, such as Identity.

I think my favorite might have been The Teensies, a short inspired by the old cartoon The Littles, about a miniature family that lives with some potheads.

Voting ends today.

With the advent of YouTube and DVR's, the whole economic model of TV is changing, and this show -- which features a built in advertising sponsor -- is a recognition of this fact.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

B.W.I.: Blogging While Intoxicated

2:24 a.m.

Tonight (or was that last night?) was my FINAL St. Pat's Day party of 2007, concluding three straight weekends of parties put on by people whose names included Shane and Seamus; Meghan and Miles; Patrick and Peaches.

I love you guys!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

My Five Favorite Musicals

1. Les Miserables.

2. 1776.

3. Cabaret.

4. La Cage aux Folles

5. A Chorus Line

(Just missing the cut: Big River, Chicago, Gypsy)

Friday, March 23, 2007

To My Readers: You Complete Me

Stephen Colbert Interviews Katie Couric

Colbert: Given the range of things that you have to deal with, what do you think prepared you most for the anchor's chair: Was it being a cheerleader or a sorority sister?

Couric: Ouch.

Colbert: When you left The Today Show, you broke a lot of hearts. ... But when you left, you said, and I like this: "After listening to my heart and my gut, two things that have served me pretty well in the past, I will be leaving today." I want to thank you for not using your brain when you made that decision, just going with your heart and your gut.

Couric: I decided to follow your lead.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

What We Really Learned On 'Lost' Last Night

Glass windows in luxury high-rise apartment buildings break as easily as egg shells.

Now, I expect glass to break this easily if we're talking about the front windshield of Johnboy's truck on The Waltons, but not so much for anything else.

Speaking of Lost, have you noticed a remarkable character trait of John Locke, the guy who is falling in the above photos?

He's a liar. He does it often, and easily.

In the last two episodes he has lied, point blank, to several people on the island; to two police detectives in a flashback scene; and to the rich kid who came knocking at his door (also during a flashback scene).

This liar has been shattering the truth almost every time he opens his mouth, which is interesting since he also appears to be the character who has found a sort of spiritual peace since the crash. Regular viewers equate John Locke with being a good man, a very good man, but he sure does like to tell lies.

He's just like ... The Others?


Check out this clip from Season 1 of Lost, in which you see (in the background) a man falling from a building.

Is that John Locke falling?


Calvert "Larry Bud Melman" DeForest: 1921-2007

I hope that St. Peter himself was at the Pearly Gates to greet Mr. DeForest, possibly dressed as a bear and personally handing Mr. DeForest a nice hot towel.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Town Crier

Here's my prescription for the little girl who kept crying last night on American Idol, a girl who just coincidentally was placed near the front of the studio and in a camera-friendly seat, almost as if it had been planned by producers!:

1. Daily use of Celexa, 20 mg.

2. A hug, and an "I love you sweetie" from her parents.

3. Acting lessons, and quite possibly an agent.


God bless this emotional little girl! But if the producers used her as a TV stunt -- something she could face ridicule for for a long time coming -- then shame on them.

No hugs for American Idol producers!


Hold The Gravy

The makers of "Special Kitty Select Cuts," a cat food that sounds like it uses better meat than a McDonald's hamburger, are being sued in a wrongful death lawsuit. The Chicago Tribune has a story this morning, as does the Sun-Times.

The pet food recall mentioned in these stories
includes 40 brands of cat food and 51 brands of dog food sold by companies such as Iams, PetCare and Science Diet.

The USDA says that at least 14 animals -- one dog and 13 cats -- have died after eating pet food products made by Menu Foods. The culprit: tainted gravy.

Routine tasting trials led to the recall of the products:

During quarterly taste tests, the company fed its products to 25 cats and 15 dogs, and of those, nine cats died, Sundlof said. The company said four cats and one dog belonging to customers died also, he said.

Sundlof said he fears the number of animals affected is widespread.

The Chicago cat that died, by the way, looked a lot like Morris the Cat.

Letterman Calls In Sick

David Letterman called in sick last night to The Late Show after eating a can of Special Kitty Select Cuts, according to an unfounded and false Internet rumor created earlier in this sentence by the website The Cup of Joe.

No word yet from Letterman's spokesperson about why he may have been eating the gourmet cat food.

Sandler, by the way, did a nice job filling in. Above, he is interviewing his dog, Matzoball, who thankfully does not appear to eat dog food meatballs with a tainted gravy complement.

Sandler said Letterman, who had been complaining for weeks about how he's been under the weather since Christmas, had the flu.

Here's hoping Dave gets better soon.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Love Song From Oliver! About A Murderer

Melinda Doolittle just finished singing "As Long As He Needs Me" on American Idol. It's a song from the musical Oliver!

A little background about the song: Within the context of Oliver! it's sung by the character of Nancy, and she's singing about her boyfriend ... a violent criminal named Bill Sykes who physically abuses Nancy and, by the end of show, clubs her to death.

That said, it's a beautiful song about a very ugly relationship based on undeserved female loyalty and co-dependence. (Read the song lyrics here.) I've heard it sung many times before, by various actresses, and I really LOVED what Doolittle did with it.

She's in a totally different class than most of the other remaining 10 contestants, don't you think?

Dave Has Questions For Paula

Oprah Winfrey says that when you interview someone, always ask the questions you really want the answers to.

David Letterman, who is a much better interviewer than people give him credit for, asked Paula Abdul three questions last night on The Late Show that would have made Oprah proud:

1. Did you have sex with that kid on the show?

2. What about the reports that you were drinking on the show?

3. Have you ever taken any pain medication or any kind of prescription drugs that make you seem incoherent or fuzzy?

However, in the clip that CBS uploaded to YouTube, you won't hear him asking these questions, and you'll only hear Paula answering, sort of, a related question that was phrased slightly differently.

Below is an edited portion of the interview, which was in no way contentious. (Dave told Paula he is a big fan of American Idol.) Paula's answers to the above questions (paraphrased by me) were:

1) No.
2) I don't drink and have never been drunk.
3) No.

Monday, March 19, 2007

When Movies Become Musicals

Edward Scissorhands, the musical/dance spectacular based on the 1990 Johnny Depp/Tim Burton movie, just opened in New York at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Here's the New York Times review from today.

I was a little more fond of the show than the critic. And I liked it a lot better than I was expecting, especially since I hate the trend of Broadway in recent years to remake movies, such as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Wedding Singer and Urban Cowboy: The Musical. Coming next: Legally Blonde, which opens in previews on April 3.

Urban Cowboy ran on broadway for only 60 regular performances, and I was at one of them. It's the worst musical I've ever seen.

See below for the ONE musical based on a movie I'd really like to see.

'A Devastating Portrait'

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if you're trying to solve a problem, you need to ask the people closest to the problem what they think.

Which is exactly what ABC News did.

From ABC "A new national survey paints a devastating portrait of life in Iraq: widespread violence, torn lives, displaced families, emotional damage, collapsing services, an ever starker sectarian chasm — and a draining away of the underlying optimism that once prevailed."

Full story here.

When you read the ABC News story, substitute the word "America" or "Americans" every time you see the word "Iraq" or "Iraqis." Better yet, put in the name of your city or state.

Imagine living how the article describes. For Americans, it is ... unimaginable.