Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dear Detroit, I'm Sorry I Got Caught. Love, Kwame

Just one question this morning: How in the hell is Kwame Kilpatrick still the mayor of Detroit?

Looking through my old posts, I asked much the same question just over two years ago, when Kilpatrick was up for re-election. For out-of-staters unfamiliar with this mess, the Detroit Free Press found text messages that showed Detroit's mayor lied under oath about having an extra-marital affair. This was during a trial in which Kilpatrick was accused by Detroit's former deputy police chief of being fired for investigating the mayor's security team. Under investigation was whether or not information that could reveal the affair was being covered up. That trial, by the way, cost the city of Detroit $9 million dollars.

Kilpatrick and his chief of staff testified that they weren't romantically involved. Yet the text messages that the Freep discovered frequently set up hotel room getaways and "business trips," and often included "sexual content."

After taking a vacation hiding in Florida over the past week while this news broke, Kilpatrick finally went on local television last night to "apologize." What exactly he was apologizing for isn't clear, since he didn't mention anything about the text messages, committing perjury, spending $9 million of the city's cash to defend himself, or using more of taxpayers' money to fund his various booty calls. But hey, his wife was sitting by his side.

Don't they look happy? There was more warmth between me and the guy in front of me in line at the coffee shop this morning. And we'd both just walked in from nine degree weather.

Kilpatrick said he won't resign (though his chief of staff lady friend did), which almost sounds like a threat. (Except to those who inexplicably defend the mayor because they think the media is picking on him, and Kilpatrick made sure to exploit that sympathy last night.) Now Detroit has two administrative figures (along with Detroit Lions president Matt Millen) who see no need to quit their sweet gigs because no one is holding them accountable for their incompetence.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tom Brady: Smooth On and Off the Field

I've managed to contain what's developed into a healthy admiration for Tom Brady (I'm not sure this is man-crush material, though I've professed such feelings before to friends, only to be greeted with awkward silence) because I didn't want to be labeled as a bandwagon New England Patriots fan. But I have been (quietly) rooting for the Patriots to go undefeated, so they'd shut up those grumpy old men ("It was better in the old days!") of the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

And I'll always root for Brady, because I think he overcame a pretty raw deal that Lloyd Carr gave him at the University of Michigan. (I don't know if I'll ever get around to writing this post, but I think jerking Brady around in favor of local golden boy Drew Henson is the biggest stain on Carr's legacy as Michigan football coach. By doing so, however, Carr likely unwittingly molded the quarterback we see today.) I realize that Brady's become the kind of guy you don't root for because he appears to have everything. (And if you look at that photo to the right, he seems to know it.)

Anyway, this was a long-winded introduction of getting to some amusing video from today's (always absurd) Super Bowl Media Day, during which a Spanish reporter asked Brady to marry her. And he handled it as calmly as he does an opposing pass rush.

What a gentleman. Of course, Brady has some experience facing the ridiculous at press conferences.

Always smooth, never bitter. Brady should do beer commercials after he's done with football.

(via Awful Announcing)

UPDATE: Here's a good look at the amorous TV reporter from TV Azteca.

You Put Your Cinnamon in My Peanut Butter!

So what's for lunch? Today, it's apparently a jar of peanut butter for me. I'm on the verge of consuming this whole thing.

It caught my eye this morning while perusing the peanut butter aisle. My original plan was to restock my supply of Cream-Nut (which costs more than a jar of Jif or other natural peanut butters, but it's totally the shiznit), but I saw this Peanut Butter & Co. stuff next to it and was intrigued. (I already had peanut butter seriously on the mind after listening to Munchcast.)

Cinnamon and raisins in peanut butter? "Ants on a log" in a jar? I passed on the chocolate options. I couldn't see eating that stuff every morning. But I'll stop by the first local store that stocks their spicy flavor.

Next, we need some P.B. Loco around here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Maybe We're Just Horny

Earlier today, Amazon released its list of the Top 20 Most Romantic Cities in America, accumulated based on sales of romance novels, and sex and relationships books. The bourgeois bohemian enclave that I call home - Ann Arbor, Michigan - is fifth on the list, which goes as follows:

1. Alexandria, Va. 11. Washington, D.C.
2. Cambridge, Mass. 12. Pasadena, Calif.
3. Miami, Fla. 13. Bellevue, Wash.
4. Irvine, Calif. 14. Seattle, Wash
5. Ann Arbor, Mich. 15. San Francisco, Calif.
6. Orlando, Fla. 16. Columbia, S.C.
7. Berkeley, Calif. 17. Tallahassee, Fla.
8. Scottsdale, Ariz. 18. Austin, Texas
9. Arlington, Va. 19. Richmond, Va.
10. Atlanta, Ga. 20. Knoxville, Tenn.

Furthermore, Amazon has designated Ann Arbor the Sexiest City in America because 24% of its "romantic" book purchases are about sex.

So how about them apples? I'm not sure how to explain this. We like to consider ourselves readers, so inevitably some romantically-oriented books could slip into that book pile. I don't think any of my current reading material qualifies, unless you count the issue of Esquire with Charlize Theron on the cover I haven't recycled yet. It's very romantic. Some of the pages even have fragrance.

A significant portion of the population is in school, so perhaps the student body is looking for diversion from its studies by... reading about student bodies. It's also a cold and wintry time in Michigan, so we're bundled up and staying in. Both circumstances can lead to some ragingly frisky cases of cabin fever. And if you're climbing the walls, perhaps some salacious literature helps to take the edge off.

Maybe the colors maize and blue activate some sort of chemical reaction in the brain and loins. Has anyone ever looked into that? Someone's getting a study funded at the University of Michigan on this in the weeks and months to come. (If you need volunteers, my e-mail address is located on the right sidebar of this page. I will carefully consider your proposal.)

Regardless of the reason - and I hope this fuels a community-wide discussion on the subject with town hall meetings, lectures, and sit-down gatherings scattered across the city - I'll certainly be keeping a close eye on my fellow Ann Arborites. I told myself I would try to be more friendly and neighborly this year.

(via Pop Candy)

Today's Reading - 01/28/08

Six Reasons Why the Kennedy Endorsement is a Big Deal

TIME's Mark Halperin explains how an endorsement from Ted Kennedy (and Caroline before him) shores up several weaknesses in Barack Obama's campaign.

UPDATE: Make that a one-two-three Kennedy punch, with Patrick Kennedy also endorsing Obama.

Writing a Book? Piece of Cake

So what's more difficult: Writing a book or blogging every day? After finishing his new book, God Save the Fan, on shelves now (I haven't read it yet), Will Leitch - editor of Deadspin - argues that a blog's constantly ticking clock (courtesy of its readership) makes it more difficult. I'd love to find out for myself.

(via Andrew Sullivan)

Charisma as Natural as Gravity

Heath Ledger's director on The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan, shares his favorite memories from the time they worked together.

High Mercury Levels Are Found in Tuna Sushi

Eating fresh tuna (especially that bluefin stuff) will flood you with the mercury! Don't eat it!

The Danger of Not Eating Tuna

Okay, you can still eat the tuna. But maybe not every day. The benefits still outweigh the risks. Treat your sushi diet like your stock portfolio, though. Diversify. Shrimp, scallops - salmon.

Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler

Here's another reason to add more fish to your diet. Although I think Mark Bittman's advocating more for eating plants. (Say, didn't he just publish a vegetarian cookbook?)

Down to the Wire

A new week, a new article on David Simon and The Wire. Simon apologizes to Baltimore for revealing its dirty underbelly on HBO. Well, sort of.

(via Vulture)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy 90th Birthday, Ernie Harwell

Today is Ernie Harwell's birthday. And it's certainly a milestone, as he turns 90 years old. If you don't know who Harwell is, he was the broadcast voice of the Detroit Tigers for 42 years. That work earned him a place in both the Radio and Baseball Halls of Fame. To call him a legend in his field wouldn't be an overstatement, though Ernie might think that was a bit much.

My mother sent me an e-mail this morning, upon hearing the news, and asked me if I could find out how he's lived so long. Fortunately, I don't think it's any big secret. John Lowe detailed his vigorous exercise routine earlier this week in the Detroit Free Press. (I plan on e-mailing that back to Mama Cass, if for no other reason than to see her try lunges, deep squats, and jumping rope. Coming soon to YouTube.) The energy and enthusiasm with which Harwell approaches his life is truly inspirational.

Most every Detroit Tigers fan can recall happy memories of listening to Ernie call ballgames on the radio, whether it was while driving in the car, sitting out on the porch, putting in a late night at work, or at the ballpark. As strange as it might sound, I fondly remember listening to Ernie while doing homework in junior high and high school. For whatever reason, Ernie's broadcast was the perfect background noise. His voice sounded warm coming out of an old Sony radio my dad passed down to me. I could pay attention to the ballgame and still concentrate on my studies. He was never a distraction.

Going into the sixth season since his retirement in 2002, it occurred to me this week that with the Tigers' recent success, there is going to be a whole generation of fans that will have grown up following the team without having listened to Ernie Harwell call play-by-play. (That's presuming that they'd listen on the radio anyway, of course.) It's difficult for me to imagine being a Tigers fan without having Ernie's voice and signature calls woven into your memories.

One more memory from the high school scrapbook: I remember Ernie appearing at the Michigan Union bookstore one Friday afternoon in promotion of his book, Diamond Gems. But the signing was at 2:00 p.m., during my English class. And I loved that class, so I didn't want to skip it. But I had to meet Ernie Harwell. So the day before, I told my teacher, Mrs. Gray, that I wasn't going to be in class on Friday and why. She smiled and said, "That's fine with me. Everyone should have a chance to meet Ernie Harwell. Just write about it for me, okay?"

I believe most of the one-page essay I wrote was about how thrilled I was to hear Ernie say "Hello, Ian" after I introduced myself and said who I'd like him to sign the book to. He also autographed a baseball, which I gave to my father. (I didn't tell Dad that I skipped class to get it, however. He wouldn't have been too happy about that.)

I haven't seen that English teacher since I graduated high school, but if I did, I'd tell her she was right: Everyone should have a chance to meet Ernie Harwell. Wherever you are these days, Liz Gray, thank you.

Happy 90th Birthday, Ernie.

▪▪ Tom Gage talks to Ernie about each of his 10 decades in this life.

▪▪ Check out The Detroit Tiger Weblog's interview with Ernie from three years ago.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Talented Mr. Ledger

I'm not sure what I could possibly say about Heath Ledger's shocking death that hasn't already been said online or among conversations with friends.  But as someone who's spent the last six months touting Ledger's upcoming performance as The Joker and who admired his work in Brokeback Mountain, I figured I should write something.  I was stunned when I saw the headline on my Google Reader, followed shortly by an e-mail from Mis Hooz (who actually doesn't work very far from the scene in question), and a subsequent phone call.

I've often sneered at my mother for talking about celebrity news so seriously, as if it involves someone she might know.  But today, I was right there with her.  What a crazy tragedy.  Only 28 years old, tremendously talented, and a great future in front of him.  Ledger's career was about to blow up with The Dark Knight.  Now that role (which he had completely finished, by the way) is going to carry a whole other level of meaning with it.

This was an actor who enjoyed challenging himself.  Playing The Joker is indicative of his choices.  Here was a guy who could've played Batman or any other superhero.  But he wanted to play the scarred, psychotic villain.  I imagine that portraying a closeted gay cowboy isn't a direction that many actors would've opted for at that point in their careers, either.

Maybe Ledger challenged himself a bit too much.  That was some of the speculation during much of the news coverage last night, sprinkled in between guesses at the cause of death.  Here's a quote from a November New York Times article that's been cited:

He is here in London filming the latest episode of the “Batman” franchise, “The Dark Knight.” (Mr. Bale, as it happens, plays Batman; Mr. Ledger plays the Joker.) It is a physically and mentally draining role — his Joker is a “psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy” he said cheerfully — and, as often happens when he throws himself into a part, he is not sleeping much.

“Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night,” he said. “I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.” One night he took an Ambien, which failed to work. He took a second one and fell into a stupor, only to wake up an hour later, his mind still racing.

Even as he spoke, Mr. Ledger was hard-pressed to keep still. He got up and poured more coffee. He stepped outside into the courtyard and smoked a cigarette. He shook his hair out from under its hood, put a rubber band around it, took out the rubber band, put on a hat, took off the hat, put the hood back up. He went outside and had another cigarette. Polite and charming, he nonetheless gave off the sense that the last thing he wanted to do was delve deep into himself for public consumption. “It can be a little distressing to have to overintellectualize yourself,” is how he put it, a little apologetically.

Who knows?  Well, I guess we'll know after the autopsy.  Speculation has ranged from suicide to accidental overdose to pneumonia.  Either way, parents have now outlived their son, a daughter doesn't have a father anymore, and filmgoers are deprived of a great talent.

If you have any doubts about that, check out one of the best scenes Ledger ever performed in one of the most important movies of the last ten years.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Courtesy of io9 comes an image too funny not to share (and swipe for a post here):

And yes, this constitutes my first lolcat.

There Will Be Oscars... Presumably

I'm not sure how much the Academy Awards will matter if the writers' strike isn't resolved by the time the ceremony is scheduled (February 24).  The Golden Globes were a great example of the "if a tree falls in a forest, but no one is around to hear it..." axiom with their attempt to do the show as a press conference, rather than its usual celebrity-stocked, loose-lipped fashion show.

But here at Fried Rice Thoughts, we've posted something about the Oscar nominations for three years running, and I'd hate to be a roadblock for tradition.

You can read the complete list here, but for now, these are the categories I think most of us care about the most:

Best supporting actress:
Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There
Ruby Dee - American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan - Atonement
Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton

Best supporting actor:
Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James
Javier Bardem - No Country For Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Charlie Wilson's War
Hal Holbrook - Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton

Best Actress:
Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie - Away From Her
Marion Cotillard - La Vie En Rose
Laura Linney - The Savages
Ellen Page - Juno

Best Actor:
George Clooney - Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd
Tommy Lee Jones - In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen - Eastern Promises

Best Director:
Julian Schnabel - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Jason Reitman - Juno
Tony Gilroy - Michael Clayton
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen - No Country For Old Men
Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will Be Blood

Best Original Screenplay:
Diablo Cody - Juno
Nancy Oliver - Lars and the Real Girl
Tony Gilroy - Michael Clayton
Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava, and Jim Capobianco - Ratatouille
Tamara Jenkins - The Savages

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Christopher Hampton - Atonement
Sarah Polley - Away From Her
Ronald Harwood - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen - No Country For Old Men
Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will Be Blood

Best Picture:
Michael Clayton
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Quick thoughts:

▪▪ I think Jennifer Garner kind of got hosed.  She was fantastic in Juno.  But her competition is tough, so I don't think she would've won, anyway. And Juno got plenty of love in other categories, so maybe that was enough.

Kelly McDonald in No Country For Old Men would've been a good pick too, now that I think about it.

▪▪ Who would I have taken off in favor of Garner?  Well, I haven't seen Atonement, so I'd say Ruby Dee.  She was good in American Gangster, but I can really only think of one scene in which she stood out.

Robert Downey, Jr. would've been a nice Best Supporting Actor pick for Zodiac too, but I don't know who I'd take off that list.

▪▪ Who should win Best Supporting Actress? Tilda Swinton.  That was the one sit-up-and-clap nominee for me.

▪▪ Looking over each of the categories, I'm not sure anyone's a lock for a winner.  Okay, Daniel Day-Lewis is probably a cinch for Best Actor.  But I haven't seen There Will Be Blood yet, so I really can't say much about that.  (Hopefully, that'll change this weekend.)

▪▪ Javier Bardem might be a lock for Best Supporting Actor, too.  But Philip Seymour Hoffman (who also could've been nominated for both The Savages and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead) and Hal Holbrook (despite only about 10-15 minutes of screen time) both had great performances in their roles.

▪▪ Man, I really need to see There Will Be Blood.  That and Atonement are the Best Picture nominees I haven't seen yet.  I need to rent Eastern Promises, too.

▪▪ I don't think he will, but I'd love to see Julian Schnabel win Best Director for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cloverfield: A Four-Sentence Movie Review

After its "what the hell was that?" teaser that ran front of Transformers in July, Cloverfield created a whole lot of anticipation for a new kind of "monster attacks big city" movie, but if you've seen the trailer, you've essentially already seen the movie because it follows much the same format of getting you to think you're watching one kind of story, only to broadside you with the realization that it's a vehicle for something else entirely.

Maybe the key difference is that the trailer fools you thinking it's an indie, beautiful people, slice-of-life sort of movie, but then jolts you into a disaster movie, while the actual movie carries the expectations of being a monster flick, but turns out to be more of a story about a relationship with several heavy-handed visual allegories to September 11th.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy Cloverfield because the special effects are great when they count most, whether in the scenes of New York City's destruction, initial fleeting glimpses of the monster between buildings, frenzied swings of the hand-held camera as the characters just can't help but look back while also trying to run for their lives, the final money shot of the beast in almost-full view, and most especially during the subway tunnel sequence in which the words "turn on the night vision" bring about the movie's scariest, creepiest, most thrilling payoff.

Telling its story almost entirely from the ground-level, part of the crowd, regular citizen perspective (thanks to what is apparently the world's most powerful, longest lasting camcorder battery) was also an interesting twist to the monster/disaster genre, even if I thought the characters we follow are largely hipster douchebags who seem like they were taken straight out of that new KFC Hot Wings ("Anything is possible!") commercial, and I was kind of hoping the giant monster would pick them off the street and eat them like chicken wings.

Related Links:

[UPDATED at 11:30 a.m.]

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Today's Reading - 01/17/08


By the time I started reading CREEM as a kid, I don't think it was the magazine that's celebrated in this article, with writers like Lester Bangs and Dave Marsh.  And if it was, I was far too young to appreciate stuff like that.  All I really remember is flipping through magazine like that while my parents were shopping for groceries.  So I guess I'm thankful for articles like this one (and a book to come).

Baltimore Sun's 'Wire' Portrayal Fuels a Hot Debate

Oh, you could've seen this one coming. David Simon's critique of the newspaper industry in season five of The Wire is rattling some cages.  In particular, Simon may just working out a vendetta against two of his former bosses at the Baltimore Sun with his current storyline. Shouldn't every former disgruntled employee have his own critically acclaimed TV show for an outlet?


One thing that's gotten me through the TV drought that the writers' strike has wrought is the handful of Pushing Daisies episodes saved on my DVR.  (I appreciate the lead actor, Lee Pace, even more after seeing him play the homicidal Dick Hickock in Infamous.)  Here, the series' creator talks about many of the influences that went into creating the show.

Anthony Bourdain | the A.V. Club

I'm a week late with this, but thought it was still worth posting.  I cringe when anyone refers to a public figure - especially a celebrity - as his or her "hero."  But man, I wouldn't mind Anthony Bourdain's life.  He might just have the sweetest job in the world right now.  And he knows it.  (Not necessarily in an arrogant way, either.)  I can only hope to live a little of the Bourdain life some time this year.

The 27-Hour Day

Here's something to think about in lieu of Apple's new movie rental plan for iTunes.  Is 24 hours (the span in which you have to watch a rental once you begin viewing) really enough time for busy people - especially those who might have kids - to watch after a long day?  If you begin at, say, 9:00 p.m., crap out, and decide to watch the rest the next night, what happens when you sit down at 9:00 p.m. again? Poof!  Movie gone.

Booed PPK Girl To Get The Star Treatment From The Pats

Did you see that 14-year-old girl get booed during the Chargers-Colts playoff game last Sunday because she was wearing a New England Patriots jersey?  (Hilarious!)  So did the Patriots' owner, who invited her to this Sunday's AFC championship game.  The team will honor her at halftime.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Savages: A Four-Sentence Movie Review

Maybe a film about a brother and sister dealing with putting their elderly father in a nursing home isn't the best choice for a matinee with your mother (who's far from elderly, by the way) on a Saturday afternoon (though perhaps you'd enjoy having "This is a preview of my life.  Are you trying to tell me something?" whispered in your ear while you're watching).

With Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney leading the cast, I'll admit I was predisposed to enjoy this movie before I even took off my coat and sat down, but it's difficult to imagine any other actors playing their characters because they inhabit the roles so completely, and Tamara Jenkins's script gives them so much emotional baggage and just enough backstory to play with.

Ultimately, Mama Cass actually enjoyed this movie because, in her words, "That's how life works," and that's exactly the poignant, bittersweet note that Jenkins hits while following two people still trying to put their lives together after an utterly dysfunctional upbringing.  I realize that sounds mopey and depressing, but Jenkins never tries to make you feel sorry for her characters, or bogs down the story with unnecessary exposition explaining exactly what may have transpired between father and children (or brother and sister), nor does she try to create comedy, insert slapstick scenarios, or shoehorn cleverness where it doesn't belong.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

'A Good Year': Not a Bad Movie For One Reason

The plan was to watch Comanche Moon on CBS, but during the commercial break, I wandered over to one of the many HBO channels digital cable offers and found A Good Year.  I actually saw it in theatrical release, and thought it was okay enough.  A pleasant diversion that was almost inexplicably made by the same people who made Gladiator.  "Unleash hell?"  More like unleash... sap.  Or whimsy.

But really, there's only one thing that makes the movie worth watching.  If you're male, anyway.  (I'll leave the Russell Crowe judgment to the ladies, since he's anything but a bad-ass here.)  I think just about any warm-blooded male would chuck his life away to spend his days with Marion Cotillard in a chateau in Provence.

Here's an interview she did with the NY Times:

Sure, it's all in the accent.  I'd listen to her read the instructions for my cell phone.  But her brief depiction of "fireworks" is utterly charming.

I haven't seen La Vie En Rose yet, but it's at the top of my Netflix queue.  Even if Cotillard is made up to look like Edith Piaf.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Glimpse Into the Football Future

That New Year's aspiration (they're not resolutions) to post more often here isn't off to the best start.  Somehow, the week got away from me.  Anyway, the NFL playoffs should provide some good football this weekend, but if you're going through a bit of withdrawal now that the college football season is over, maybe a brief coaching tutorial can give you a fix.  And if you're a Michigan football fan, some Rich Rodriguez coach-em-up should get you excited about the future.

(If you're a West Virginia football fan, like Wabi-Sabi, this might make you want to smash something.  Sorry, Jim - I had to post something this week.)

Here's another one if you like enjoy some dry-erase board football.

Oh, Saturdays are going to be interesting in Ann Arbor this fall.

(via MGoBlog)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Today's Reading - 01/07/08

No Democratic candidates file paperwork to accept write-in votes

After Edward Vielmetti provided a very helpful service by posting all of the pertinent information about next Tuesday's Michigan presidential primary, I remembered reading a couple of months ago that Barack Obama and John Edwards were not going to be on the Michigan Democratic ballot.  Is that really true?  Unfortunately, yes it is.

If you don't know the deal, here's how I understand it: Michigan apparently ticked off the Democratic National Committee by moving its primary up to January 15.  In a show of support for the party's wishes, Obama and Edwards (among others) had their names taken off the ballot.  Submitting a write-in vote isn't an option, either, as neither candidate filled out the necessary paperwork to have such votes counted.  The Michigan Democratic party is encouraging voters to check "Uncommitted" on the ballot if Hillary Clinton isn't your preferred candidate.  That feels like a terribly unsatisfying option.

Strike Beards

David Letterman and Conan O'Brien both looked as if they'd just been released from captivity when they went back on the air last week.  I suppose you could argue that's exactly what happened, as the WGA strike kept their shows off the air.  Growing beards can definitely be a form of solidarity between men.

But the quote that rings most true in this article is this: "Beards have always marked transitions in men’s lives."  That's exactly where I was two years ago when I grew one for the first time.  (No beard for me this winter, though.  I thought it'd be too traumatic to have to shave it off for my sister's wedding.)

Paul Thomas Anderson | The A.V. Club

Any hopes I had for catching up on some reading last night were scotched once I found out Boogie Nights was playing on IFC.  It's one of my favorite movies, and because of that, the release of any new Paul Thomas Anderson film feels like an event.  And from all indications, There Will Be Blood might be his finest accomplishment.  I think it'll be another three weeks before it hits Michigan, though. Interviews like this can pass the time, I suppose.

Building Suspense Along the Trail of an Invisible Man

Zodiac got some "Best of the Year" love from some critics, and it might receive some Best Picture affirmation, as well.  (Tomorrow's DVD release of David Fincher's director's cut might help with that.) The NY Times' Manohla Dargis analyzes a key scene (maybe the most powerful one) from the film in this article.

What a Man's Movie Posters Can Say About Him

So if you're a guy who hangs movie posters on his wall (I currently am not), what do your choices tip off to your friends, lady or otherwise?  One poster I'd love to frame and put on my wall is Anatomy of a Murder, but maybe that title wouldn't be sending quite the right message.  I also have an awesome Being John Malkovich poster that'd look good on a wall someday.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Timelessness of Adam West and Cesar Romero

Oh, the things kids can do on the YouTube... !  Check this out: Someone synced the audio from the latest 'Dark Knight' trailer to clips from the 1966 Batman TV show.

POW! Adam West and Cesar Romero have never looked so bad-ass on that bat-channel.  (And neither has that killer shark!)

Actually, someone else (I don't think it was the same person) did the same thing with clips from Tim Burton's 1989 Batman flick.  Good stuff, but not as funny without all the camp and cheese that the TV show brought.

(via Pop Candy)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Today's Reading - 01/03/08

Goodbye to All That

I'm glad they're just voting in Iowa tonight, because I'm still undecided on my candidate.  However, Andrew Sullivan makes a very persuasive case for Barack Obama in this month's Atlantic.  For someone like me who feels like he still doesn't know much about Obama and his campaign, it was a much appreciated essay.

Top 10 Reasons To Eat Oatmeal

Did you know January is Oatmeal Month?  Well, according to Quaker Oats, anyway.  And I don't think we can say they're objective on the matter.  But I'm not a Quaker Oats guy.  (No rolling with the rolled oats here.)  Give me the McCann's Irish Oatmeal!  (Steel cut oats!)

In a Coen Brothers Classic, A Mythic Texas Standoff

The Washington Post's Stephen Hunter is a devious rogue of a film critic.  And it's why I love his work.

Happy New Year!  It's the End of the Worst.  Sports Year.  Ever.

Between Michael Vick's dog-fighting charges, the Tim (almost called him "Jack") Donaghy NBA betting scandal, and the Mitchell Report steroid investigation, was 2007 the worst year ever for sports?   Dan Shanoff says yes.  I think 2008's off to a pretty good start so far.

With Nods to the Strike, Late-Night Hosts Return

I haven't watched either David Letterman or Conan O'Brien's return to the airwaves yet, but I did DVR their shows.  And after seeing the impressive facial hair both hosts were sporting last night, I'm sort of lamenting my decision to not grow a beard this winter.  Solidarity in spirit, I guess.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Enjoy That Ride Into the Sunset, Coach

I'm hoping to write more about Lloyd Carr and his retirement later this week.  But for now, that was one hell of an effort his Michigan Wolverines displayed earlier today in Orlando, winning a game that looked like an inevitable beating.

Michigan 41, Florida 35.  I've never been more happy to be wrong about football.  The offense was creative and the defense was aggressive, both of which Michigan football fans have been yearning for.  It was obvious how much the team wanted to win for Coach Carr today.  And I'm happy that a good man was able to go out on a high note.

If you watched that video, ask yourself how many successful big-time college football coaches are asking their players to "vow right now" that they'll finish their degrees.  Perhaps I'm being unfair to most coaches, but that seems like the end of an era to me.  And maybe that's all that needs to be said about Lloyd Carr's tenure at Michigan.

Congratulations, Coach.  I wish my father had been sitting next to me when your players carried you off the field.  What a touching moment.  Thanks for giving us one last memory to relish before Michigan football heads into the future.