Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Delightfully Mean David Letterman

David Letterman interviewing Paris Hilton? Oh, that ought to be good...

"How'd you like being in jail?"

Classic. Two sentences of ice-breaking chit-chat ("Yeah - good for you..."), and then Letterman gets into the only thing anyone would want to know.

What a meanie. The best part is when Hilton tries to change the subject by saying she's moved on with her life and doesn't want to talk about jail anymore. Oh, you can see Letterman smell blood. ("This is where you and I are different, because all I want to talk about...") Sure, he asked you on to talk about your clothing line. It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for the girl. Almost.

(via Hollywood Elsewhere)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

3:10 to Yuma: A Four-Sentence Movie Review

"Women want to be with him, and men want to be him" is a cliche often reserved for figures such as James Bond or George Clooney, but I think it can also apply to Ben Wade, the roguishly charming, lethally homicidal, yet curiously ethical outlaw played by Russell Crowe in 3:10 to Yuma.  At certain points during the movie, it seemed almost comical to me how Wade magnetically attracts the attention of anyone in the room with him (especially the few women in the story; "Howdy, I'm Ben Wade - bad-ass and total sex machine"), but it's entirely believable, given that outlaws were likely the celebrities of their day.

In the presence of such a mythic figure, people let their curiosities and inferiorities overwhelm them, which explains the motivations of every other character in the story - particularly Christian Bale's Dan Evans, who seeks to redeem himself in the eyes of a family and community that looks down upon him - and gives Wade the physical and psychological advantage in every situation.  If I've made this sound all character-driven and talky, don't worry because it also brings all the gunfighting, shoot-em-up violence you could ever want in a modern Western, mostly thanks to Wade's sidekick, Charlie Prince, who allows Ben Foster to re-invent himself from a guy who's played mostly wussies (like on Six Feet Under) to an unhinged killing machine.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Always Knew Some Day You'd Come Walking Back Through My Door...

Much of the glow from things I loved in my childhood was dimmed with the new Star Wars trilogy (and I'll include Superman Returns in that, too, since it followed the original Christopher Reeve film so closely). So I winced when I heard that there would be a fourth Indiana Jones film. Not just because I fear that yet another childhood memory will be soured, but because - as I've written before - Harrison Ford is just too damn old to be in action movies now.

But it's happening: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. And despite my angsty whining, I know I'll be there to see it in the first week it opens in theaters. Here's a photo that was posted on Hollywood Elsewhere today:

My first thought at first glance? Wow, Karen Allen looks great! (Between Raiders of the Lost Ark and Animal House, she was kind of a kid crush of mine.)

My second thought? Shia LeBeouf looks like he has a car on bricks in his driveway. And he looks uncannily like a douchebag my aunt once married. If not for that, I'd think he looks hilarious - especially since he's supposedly Indiana Jones' son.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Today's Reading - 09/24/07

‘30 Rock’ Lives, and Tina Fey Laughs

I'm not posting this because I'm in love with Tina Fey. (C'mon - that'd be totally ridiculous. She's on TV and stuff. Atop a pedestal of unattainability. Have you seen her American Express commercial? Hilarious.) But I loved watching reruns of 30 Rock this summer so much I wanted to take them behind the middle school and get them pregnant. And maybe winning an Emmy for Best Comedy Series will give it a much-needed push. (National Bingo Night drew higher ratings. Blurgh.)

Way to Go, 'Chuck'!

I hope I'm not setting myself up to be disappointed, but Chuck is one of the new fall TV shows that I'm most excited about. (Pushing Daisies is the other.) And it's not just because of the hot blonde spy. Okay, maybe a little bit. But if the increasingly curmudgeonly Tom Shales likes Chuck, it might be pretty good.

(This post is starting to look like a NBC advertisement. Okay, let's start taking bets on which new show gets canceled first. I'd put money on Journeyman, which is getting killed by the critics.)

Handling of teacher, comic issue riles parents

An English teacher in New Haven, CT gave one of his students an issue of Daniel Clowes' Eightball as a make-up for a summer reading assignment. The parents of the student raised concerns over the comic book's content to school officials, and the teacher resigned shortly after being placed on administrative leave. Now the student is being harassed by classmates blaming her for the teacher's resignation. (via The Beat)

Friday, September 21, 2007

The King of Kong: A Four-Sentence Movie Review

As someone who spent many of his pre-adolescent days pushing quarters into arcade video games, The King of Kong showed me what I could've been if I'd had a) more disposable income at that age, b) a little bit of discipline (I could give up on something fast if I wasn't any good at it), c) fewer interests (comic books and drawing were big with me back then), and d) perhaps a better mode of transportation than a bicycle.

But even if I'd taken video gaming more seriously, I'm not sure I'd have reached the smileless obsessiveness of guys like Billy Mitchell, who assumes a cold-blooded, take-no-prisoners pose to not only explain his achievements in his chosen hobby, but to defend the honor and presumed integrity of the record scores he's set, and makes an absolutely fantastic villain for this documentary. The story also has a perfect underdog hero in Steve Wiebe, a husband and father of two (the scene in which Wiebe plays his record-setting game while his son is pleading with him for attention is one of the funniest things you'll ever see/hear), who plays Donkey Kong as a way to console himself after being laid off from his engineering job, finds a sense of purpose in pursuing Mitchell's record score, and seeks some fulfillment in a life that's presented quite a few letdowns.

The world these people live in, or choose to enter, is so bizarre - with all of its self-imposed rules, ethics, biases, and alliances - that it almost seems like another existence (well, maybe not for those of us who spent our summers having our senses flooded by electronic beeps and jingles in darkened arcades), yet the movie gets you to feel something - whether it's sympathy, empathy, or disdain - for them, which is kind of amazing to experience.

P.S. (This doesn't count among the four sentences) To the college kid in front of me in the ticket line who opted for a different movie because he "hates documentaries," I feel sorry for you.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Today's Reading - 09/20/07

Mother Nature’s Restless Sons

If the movie is anywhere near as good as the book was, I expect to be blown away by Into the Wild. Sean Penn has made three dark, challenging films as a director, and this shouldn't be an exception. This article about the process to get the movie made has me even more intrigued. It'll be interesting to see if people's opinions of Christopher McCandless are as split - Was he some kind of visionary maverick or just a delusional whacko? - among filmgoers as they were among readers.

My decision to opt out of the macho food-writing movement

Has food writing really become more macho? Food television probably has, and those are the types of shows (Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern) I enjoy watching these days. Going to a foreign country and eating the unmentionable parts of an animal is mas macho. Anyway, Paul Levy seems like he's done with that.

Jesse James, an Outlaw for All Seasons

If you want to be a movie star/action hero, I'd imagine Jesse James is a role you covet. So I guess it shouldn't be surprising to see how many actors have played him over the years. It sounds like Brad Pitt's version will be a bit more contemplative than roguish. But the title (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) kind of gives away the ending, doesn't it?

Why the enraged Patriots will go undefeated

Okay, the New England Patriots likely won't go 16 games without losing. But they were probably already the favorites going into this season, based on the upgrades to their linebackers and wide receivers through free agency. And now, after being sent to the corner for using cameras to steal defensive signals from the opposition, they seem to hold a grudge against those who think they've won so many games over the past 5-6 years by cheating.

Don't Be That Guy

Thankfully (for my own dignity), I'm not guilty of any of these. Though I have been known to occasionally poke at Facebook. It's also been pointed out to me that belonging to as many online social networks as I do is my own cross to bear. (via Pop Candy)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

So Special You Didn't Even Know They Were There

Here's a pretty cool video that shows the special effects that went into making Zodiac. (A couple of the scenes are violent, since we're talking about a serial killer movie, so consider this a "Not Safe For Work" warning.)

It's certainly some impressive work by Digital Domain. But my question, after looking at these scenes (and it's probably an obvious one), is "Wouldn't it just have been easier to find a location and shoot there?"

I'm guessing that David Fincher wanted to create a consistent look - especially with the skylines and backgrounds - and some of the housing and architecture that existed in late-1960s San Francisco, so going through this process make sense. Plus, judging from Fight Club and Panic Room, Fincher has consistently used special effects where you might not notice them or think they were necessary.

I imagine this stuff would be part of a 2-disc "special edition" Zodiac DVD. I'd definitely been interested in that, even though it wasn't quite the movie I expected.

(via The Movie Blog)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Brave One: A Four-Sentence Movie Review

At the beginning of The Brave One, we see Jodie Foster's character walking around New York City with a microphone and digital recorder, recording sounds of civilization for her radio show, which made me wonder if we were about to see what might happen if Ira Glass ever lost his mind and decided to go on a vigilante killing spree. That's not quite what happens, but having a female protagonist (one whose petite size Neil Jordan emphasizes throughout the film) still provides a bit of a twist on the Charles Bronson-esque revenge movie genre.

Unfortunately, once that premise is established - despite frequent attempts to explore the psychological ramifications of what's happened to Foster's character and how she decides to deal with it - this turns out to be a rather conventional, violent action movie that carries an almost superhero-ish sense of empowerment fantasy with it, which I didn't expect, given the talent in front of and behind the camera.

The most interesting aspect of the story is the relationship that develops between Foster and Terrence Howard's detective - with the vigilante who really wants to be caught (or maybe killed) because she doesn't know what she might do next, and the cop who not only questions whether or not he can bust someone he's become fond of but also might envy someone who gets to roll out some 9 MM justice on the scumbags of society - but it leads to an unbelievable, borderline ridiculous resolution that practically makes a joke of the entire movie.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Today's Reading - 09/13/07

Bloggin' Tigers baseball

Okay, this is totally gratuitious (and probably an abuse of the "Today's Reading" institution, which has been established for... one whole week), but I was fortunate enough to have my Detroit Tigers blogging noticed by the people at USA Today Sports Weekly for their regular "Bloggin' Baseball" series. If you swing by a newsstand, the interview is in this week's issue (Sept. 12-18) with Armageddon Appalachian State's Corey Lynch on the cover. I'm on page 43.

UI's hot tickets

According to this article, the University of Iowa collected $850,000 in parking fines last year. That's approximately the amount the Parking and Transportation department sucked out of me during my two years at Iowa, so they've clearly found other violaters to punish (frequently). No sympathy for the grad student complaining about having to take a bus from Hawkeye Court, though. That's where I lived, and there's really no reason not to use the campus bus service from there.

Pamela Anderson: "I Paid a Poker Debt with Sexual Favors and Fell in Love"

You know, I always thought I might be missing out on something by not playing poker. I'm not sure it's an indication of one's card-playing skills, however, by putting Ms. Anderson so far in debt that she slept her way out of it. (I'm sure plenty of waiters don't mind if her credit card is ever declined at dinner.) That dude better watch out for Kid Rock or Tommy Lee, though. (Speaking of gratuitous, using "Pamela Anderson" and "sexual favors" should give the site traffic a boost today.)

A No-Paper Newspaper

We've kind of covered this sort of thing before at FRT (also in response to a Washington Post article), but each day seems to bring us closer to a reality of "paper-less" newspapers. To me, this is one of the top reasons to consider buying an iPhone or iPod Touch. It's one of the first things on my mind when I think about how I'd use it in my daily life.

It's Like an Orange On a Toothpick

Tuesday evening was the second annual get-together for Detroit Tigers (and other sports) bloggers at Comerica Park. Once again, Billfer of The Detroit Tigers Weblog did all he could to make it happen. There will be plenty of pictures to share from the evening once Samara (Roar of the Tigers) posts the dozens (and dozens) of photos she snapped from the game. But for now, I had to share the first of the images she posted.

Beautiful view of the Detroit evening sky, no? That is, if you can see it over the giant head in the foreground. Who in the hell would walk into a ballpark sporting that kind of melon? It's a virtual planetoid.

Down in front! Oh wait, that's your head. Sorry.

(Kudos of the day to anyone who can name the movie this post's headline came from.)

Tonight's Reading - 09/12/07

To Burundi and Beyond for Coffee’s Holy Grail

This could be a good Travel Channel show: Coffee Hunters! (The exclamation point would, of course, connote that caffeine kick.) So some coffee roasters will travel the world to find good beans. But unless they've dug through dung for some Kopi Luwak coffee, I'm not sure I'm all that impressed.

Cubs fan, blog man

Kudos to one of my SportsBlogs Nation brethren for receiving some richly deserved spotlight from the mainstream Chicago media. Al Yellon runs the definitive Chicago Cubs blog, Bleed Cubbie Blue, and was one of the first bloggers recruited to write for SB Nation. I plan on showing this article to anyone who thinks I've spent far too much time working on Bless You Boys this baseball season.

Academy to Invite Jon Stewart Back as Oscar Host

It's not like I wasn't going to watch next year's Academy Awards anyway. But Jon Stewart as host gets me even more excited to tune in. I thought Ellen DeGeneres did a great job this year, but it's probably a good idea not to bring back the same host in consecutive years. Plus, Stewart and his "Daily Show" crew will probably produce some material, which has to make the show more entertaining.

Q&A With 'The Brave One' Actor Terrence Howard

I definitely want to see The Brave One. Jodie Foster does it Charles Bronson-style, baby! I'm even more intrigued as I watch Foster and Neil Jordan talk about their movie with Charlie Rose while I write this. (Isn't it interesting that revenge flicks seem to be a popular trend this fall, too?) But this interview is more notable for Howard's thoughts on using baby wipes to "find a cleaner way to live."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"That Doesn't Look Like a Missile"

It's been more than a month since I indulged my Iron Man anticipation. But there was a nice iron supplement available online today. (Just in case Iron Downey, Jr. is taken down from YouTube, you can also find it here.)

Maybe a little too much with the Black Sabbath. But great timing, since today was kind of a crappy day with cleaning out mold and smelly, backed-up-drain water out of my basement. But between the Tigers' walk-off win tonight and these two-and-a-half minutes of awesomeness, I'll sleep okay tonight.

(via The Movie Blog)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Today's Reading - 09/06/07

Christian Bale: The A.V. Club Interview

I'm really looking forward to 3:10 to Yuma. I love that Westerns appear to be making a comeback, but I'd probably see a movie with Christian Bale and Russell Crowe in it, regardless of the genre. I also cost myself a couple hours of sleep the other night when American Psycho was on one of the HBOs. Besides Batman Begins (duh), that's probably my favorite Bale performance.

Why is Tony Snow's 401(k) Empty?

I still don't know whether to laugh or kind of admire Tony Snow for his (presumed) honesty, in explaining why he was stepping down as White House Press Secretary. Isn't that why most of us quit a job or seek another one? I need to make more money.

How Mark Zuckerberg Turned Facebook Into the Web's Hottest Platform

Last night, my friend Brian poked fun at me for being on social networks, saying no one over 30 should be on MySpace. Yet "the fastest-growing segment of Facebook users is over 35, a group that represents 11 percent of all site users." I still sometimes feel, however, like the old townie hanging out at a campus bar on dollar pitcher night when I sign onto Facebook. And of course, now that old dudes use it, the kids say Facebook sucks.

Time Inc. to Close Business 2.0

Okay, I feel like kind of an ass for subscribing to Business 2.0 a few months ago. But the offer was soooo cheap, like eight bucks for 12 issues. (Plus, for whatever reason, I felt like I should be reading more business news.) I think I actually received four issues of my subscription. Looks like I shouldn't expect anything after that fifth one. Or since everyone is being moved to Fortune, maybe I'll get seven issues of that.

Fired Van Halen Bassist: “I Found Out on the Internet”

I probably shouldn't admit this, but I was a big Van Halen fan in junior high and high school. (I outgrew that in college, though still have my moments of relapse.) Part of what made their sound distinct was Michael Anthony's voice on back-up vocals. Even from David Lee Roth to Sammy Hagar to whomever else has been Van Halen's lead singer, Anthony's voice was there. Are they really going to do a reunion tour without him?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

So Many iPods, So Many Decisions

I guess I know where my next chunk of discretionary income is going...

So I think I know what my next iPod will be. The Touch - basically the iPhone without the phone - was announced today. 16 GB of storage isn't enough for those accustomed to bigger hard drives on their iPod, but as a 2 GB Nano owner, it suits me just fine.

Or I might just get the iPhone with the phone. Waiting for the iPhone to come down in price didn't take too long, with Apple announcing a $200 price cut on its 8 GB model. (The 4 GB is being discontinued.)

iWant, iWant, iWant. And I have money stomping up and down to be released from my checking account.

(Thanks to Matt for giving me a heads-up this afternoon.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Today's Reading - 09/04/07

In an attempt to post more often here at "The Rice" (which I definitely want to do once baseball season ends), I thought I'd outright steal a regular feature from my buddy Bill Ferris at The Detroit Tigers Weblog. Just about every day, Bill puts up a links post to share articles he finds interesting with his readers.

I know links posts are kind of a standard thing with most blogs, but I haven't done it very often here. As I'm sure most of you do, if I find something interesting online, I'll e-mail it to one or two friends who might share the interest. But I thought it might be fun to try it on the blog, too. Plus, my ego just can't stand watching FRT's readership sink to the bottom of Lake Michigan.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Bill. You can punch me in the shoulder next week when we meet up at Comerica Park.

Down to 'The Wire': It's a Wrap for Gritty TV Series

It gets said so often now that it's in danger of becoming a cliche, but The Wire is just about the best series on television. So, of course, it was never going to last. I'm not sure it was ever meant to, anyway. There are only so many big issues David Simon can devote an entire season to, and he confirms that in this article. But in his mind, the show as a whole was a novel, a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

At least The Wire gets a send-off. That's more than Deadwood ever got. (Argh.)

A Football Goliath Faced a Proud, Talented David

Kind of a big upset on Saturday in college football - maybe you heard about it?

When I was visiting my sister's fiancé in Asheville, NC, two weeks ago, we were comparing our college football teams of choice. And when talking about Michigan, I sneered at the Wolverines scheduling a Division I-AA opponent. "They should do better than that," I said. My sister warned me that Appalachian State's campus in Boone, NC was only about an hour-and-a-half away, so I should probably be careful what I say. Oh, if she only knew how right she was...

What's Behind the Epidemic of Municipal Wi-Fi Failures?

Free Wi-Fi for everyone was probably too much to hope for, eh? Especially in the big cities. (Such a project seems to have crumbled here in Ann Arbor, too.) Making wireless internet like a public utility might have been too much of a dream, considering all the communications companies that are fighting for their share of the airwaves these days.

What Makes Southern Sweet Tea So Special?

I'm still trying to detoxify my system from all the sugary sweet tea I gulped down over the past week-and-a-half. But the stuff is everywhere - it's "the house wine of the South - and you get funny looks if you order "unsweetened iced tea." I was on vacation; I was just trying to fit in. Plus, it's just too damn good not to drink. Just one glass at a time, though.