Friday, February 29, 2008

A Flying Iron Man For Leap Year

Last night, I forgot that a new trailer for Iron Man was going to play during Lost. Of course, some enterprising soul posted it on YouTube, so I was able to see it. And I'm putting it here so I get to watch it again. And again.

This movie looks cooler with each trailer. But I'm now worried that too much good stuff from the movie is being put into these previews. I want that "wow!" moment in the theater. I'm sure we'll still get that, though. (And I could always just not watch this stuff when it's released online.) Until then, I'll probably snatch up whatever nuggets are given under the table.

Today's Reading - 02/29/08

Taste Test: Cheeseburger In A Can

Just because you can has cheezburger in a can doesn't mean you should. Here is an excellent reason not to go camping. Or if you must, at least stick to trail mix. In what has to be considered a public service, the Onion's A.V. Club is trying one of these canned monstrosities (which aren't available in the U.S. - yet) so that the rest of us don't have to. And they have pictures and video to prove it.

Some see streetcars in Ann Arbor's future

Obviously, I haven't done any of the studying and research that city planners presumably have. But my initial thought after reading that headline was, "You gotta be #@$%ing kidding me." I don't see the room on the streets for those streetcars. And then there's the little problem of the $50 million price tag (at least) for the project.

Blogger, Sans Pajamas, Rakes Muck and a Prize

Bloggers can be journalists too - and win awards for their work in the process. Joshua Micah Marshall has provided a great example - through his work and business model - of what new media can accomplish in today's culture.

Just go

Joining in the chorus imploring Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to resign from office is this long Metro Times article that presents as thoughtful and even-handed an argument as I've read. The talent and opportunity that this man has squandered is shameful.

He Listens. He Cares. He Isn’t Real.

As a fan (or maybe "follower" is a better word) of HBO's In Treatment, I haven't had quite the same visceral reaction to Gabriel Byrne that many of the women quoted for this article have. But I agree that if Byrne's therapist character wasn't compelling, you wouldn't have a series. Depicting an active listener strikes me as something difficult for an actor to show convincingly night after night, week after week.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Missed the Lunar Eclipse, But Caught the Caffeine One

As a nation, I think most of us got through the nationwide Starbucks "training session" just fine. But it was still reassuring to see The Daily Show cover the story so thoroughly.

I think I might open the lid and check my drink every time I get something from Starbucks after watching that. By the way, I'm not writing this from a Starbucks, so I believe that clears me of douchebag status.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Is That the Grande or the Venti Laptop?

You just can't avoid people bringing their computers into coffee shops these days. Of course, they're usually a bit smaller than this.

Courtesy of Improv Everywhere:

Hopefully, this doesn't start a new trend. Desktops are not the new laptops! Big is not the new small!

With my luck, I'd be the poor schmuck who had the sheer audacity to sit by a power outlet without having a computer with me. Can you imagine the stink-eye I'd get from someone lugging around his or her monitor, looking for a seat?

Go to the Improv Everywhere website for more, including the covert set-up for filming and an encounter with someone who thinks the computers are for public use.

(via Engadget)

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Oscars Post-Mortem: More Awards and a Lil' Bit o' Braggin'

The 2008 Oscars were a rather predictable affair, with only a couple of unexpected winners. Despite the lack of surprises, however, there will still quite a few notable moments - as there almost always are. Both The Film Geek and Susannah captured many of them in their respective live blogs. (And kudos for those efforts. The closest I could come to live-blogging myself was updating my Twitter page. Watching the show alone, my mind just wandered a bit too much in the slow moments.)

I know bringing a host back year after year is a sure way to get tired of someone, but I'd love to see Jon Stewart emcee this thing again next year. Someone who could poke some fun at the tensions caused by the writers' strike (i.e., his joke about writers being invited to the Vanity Fair party), yet also found himself directly affected by the work stoppage was the right guy for the job.

Being hilarious - such as when he joked that the only time we see a female or black president is when a meteorite is about to hit the Statue of Liberty - doesn't hurt, either. (Stewart and his 'Daily Show' crew were responsible for the "Binoculars and Periscopes montage," I take it. That was a gem.) Having little preparation time suited Stewart's wit and improvisation just fine. He didn't hit a false note all night, and often seemed genuinely happy for many of the winners.

Here are the awards I would've passed out last night (and the list of actual winners):

Why Didn't They Think of This Before?
Regis on the red carpet! No one's getting in another word when Regis is holding the microphone. For example, when George Clooney made the mistake of asking him if Notre Dame won their basketball game earlier in the day. "Notre Dame finally WINNING AGAIN! Isn't that good, George?" Whatever you say, Reeg.

Okay, Maybe That's Why They Didn't
Inside the Kodak Theater just before the festivities began, Regis called Javier Bardem "Xavier Bardem." Where's that cattle stun gun when you need it? It's your business to get those names right, Friendo. Especially when the dude brought his mother along as a date.

I'm Not Sure I've Ever Seen a Tuxedo Tighter Than a Dress
The aforementioned Mr. Bardem, whose suit almost seemed to be wrapped around his body. Maybe I'm just jealous, since there's no way I'll ever be that thin.

That Nipple Joke Never Gets Old
Clooney will never live down having to wear the Batman suit with the nipples, will he? And Tilda Swinton just had to go there during her acceptance speech. Of course, Clooney can take it, which is why so many people seem to enjoy giving him a rabbit punch.

Where's a Rolled-Up Newspaper When You Need It?
I thought we were done having to endure Jerry Seinfeld and Bee Movie. Yet there he/it was, presenting an award. That must play great in the Kodak Theater. I thought that movie's original network tie-in was with NBC. Is the DVD coming out this week or something?

Hung Out to Dry
Poor Amy Adams, having to sing all alone on stage, with no dancers, cartoons, or anything else that could've accentuated her performance. She gave it the best she could, but had to be jealous when she saw the production Kristin Chenoweth got for her musical number.

Letdown of the Night
Roderick Jaynes not winning for Best Film Editing, which would've put Joel and Ethan Coen in the interesting position of having to accept the award for their fictional alias. It's just as well, I suppose, since the Coen brothers got plenty of stage time during the night (though Ethan gets brownie points for his short and direct acceptances). Still, maybe the Coens planned on sending an old man up there, like when Marlon Brando sent "Sasheen Littlefeather" in his place.

Speeches Can Be Good!
To me, Steven Soderbergh had the best acceptance speech in 2001, in which he thanked everyone who spends part of their day creating art. Glen Hansard imploring people to "Make art!" at the end of his speech last night was inspiring, as well.

First Class All the Way
Jon Stewart's finest moment (and it seemed to be his decision) was bringing Marketa Irglova back on stage after the orchestra rudely played her off before the commercial break. And Irglova made it truly memorable with a great speech saluting struggling musicians and artists who keep pursuing their dreams.

(You can see both speeches here.)

I hate to make fun of her, because she had a very touching acceptance speech, but Diablo Cody's dress looked like wardrobe from the Flintstones. It was an especially baffling choice after the va-va-voom she showed off the night before at the Independent Spirit Awards.

(And while I'm talking about va-va-voom, it's very disappointing that there were no obvious winners of the Best Cleavage award, which is one I spend a lot of time and effort researching. Where's Salma Hayek when you need her?)

So how'd I do on my Oscar picks? Really well, thanks for asking. Yet so many of the winners were locks that I didn't exactly have to be bold with my predictions. And I whiffed on both of the screenplay awards. Of course, I did nail the two actress awards, so maybe I'll strut a little bit.

My pick: Tilda Swinton
Actual winner: Tilda Swinton

Susannah picked Tilda Swinton to win, too, so I can't get too high and mighty about that. But I think the popular opinion was with Cate Blanchett, and if you'd asked me back in December, I would've said she was guaranteed an Oscar. But there was just something about Swinton's performance. That, and the apparent sentiment that Michael Clayton was too good a movie not to win something - which shouldn't ever be a factor, but you know it is.

My pick: Marion Cotillard
Actual winner: Marion Cotillard

Cotillard completely transformed herself to play Edith Piaf. It's as simple as that. Sure, she had a lot of help from make-up (which was also an Oscar-winning effort), but Cotillard seemed to shrink her body as La Vie En Rose went on. That was only more apparent when you saw the hot French babe that took the stage to accept her award.

Before I go, I'd just like to thank my TV for working last night, and both my laptop and new home wireless network for cooperating this afternoon and allowing me to type out this post. This is for everyone out there who spent part of last night or today writing about the Oscars. Write blogs! Write blogs!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bruce Pearl: A Leader of Men

University of Tennessee men's basketball head coach Bruce Pearl was already The Official Favorite Coach of Casselbloggy, Inc. for showing you can have a lot of fun while being also being successful. And you can't blame the man for being excited at halftime of last night's college basketball Thunderdome vs. Memphis, as his team was only down by one point despite his best player having a terrible shooting night. Fueled by adrenaline, Pearl did what just about every man in America would like to do: Hug Erin Andrews.

Well played, Coach. You continue to be a heroic figure in my world. Oh, by the way, the Volunteers went on to win the game, beating the #1 Tigers, 66-62.

(via The Big Lead)

Friday, February 22, 2008

We're Still Predicting the Oscars!

Was anyone else surprised to hear that the Oscars are this Sunday? I guess I'd become so used to the idea that there wouldn't be an Academy Awards ceremony because of the writers' strike that I'd basically written it off my internal calendar.

But since the show will be going on (and we probably should've expected the strike to end before the Oscars, since it's such a showcase moment for Hollywood), we'll continue the tradition - four years running - of predicting the winners in the so-called major categories. (Hey, if Jon Stewart can cram four months of preparation into eight days, it's the least I could do.) Another FRT Oscar tradition we'll try to continue on Monday are the next-day awards - also now four years running - where I'll laugh at others in an attempt to mask the pain of my predictions gone wrong.

Okay, here's how I think it'll go:

Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton

This is probably the toughest category of the night. Cate Blanchett made the greatest transformation as Bob Dylan in I'm Not There, while Amy Ryan made an utterly repugnant character compelling and even somewhat sympathetic in Gone Baby Gone. You could argue that Blanchett's performance is gimmicky, but she already won in 2005 for sort of imitating Katharine Hepburn. So I'm taking my shot here. Tilda Swinton did the most with what she was given, and made you care about a seemingly sleazy character. She's almost as much of a star in Michael Clayton as George Clooney.

Javier Bardem - No Country For Old Men

Lock of the night. In Anton Chigurh, Bardem created the most memorable character of the year, and gave us a villain we'll be talking about for decades. Not too many guys would present fearsome opposition to Josh Brolin's bad-ass Llewellyn Moss, but Bardem is the unstoppable force to his immovable object. The audience gasps when Chigurh comes on the screen, because they know what's coming. And if he delays the inevitable - as in the coin toss exchange with the gas station clerk that you've probably seen, even if you haven't seen No Country For Old Men - the tension is almost unbearable.

Marion Cotillard - La Vie En Rose

Watching La Vie En Rose a couple of days ago might have influenced this pick just a smidge. I've already publicly stated my affection for Ms. Cotillard on this blog. But this would be the wrong movie to check out because you think she's sexy. Playing Edith Piaf probably isn't going to do it for you. But even without the make-up, Cotillard becomes another person. She ages - and not so gracefully. And though Piaf's songs are dubbed over her performance, her body language makes it clear that she's not just lip-syncing.

Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood

Probably the other lock of the night. There's just not going to be much suspense in the male acting categories. I haven't seen all of the nominated performances, but I can't imagine either of them are responsible for carrying his film the way Day-Lewis does. The transformation he makes in his voice alone is probably award-worthy. It's kind of stunning to hear Day-Lewis' naturally soft, British-accented voice in interviews, because he's such an unyielding force of nature in There Will Be Blood. And even when the story turns a bit cartoonish toward the end, he sells it because his character remains consistent throughout the movie. No one could get more out of two words - "I'm finished" - than Day-Lewis.

Joel and Ethan Coen - No Country For Old Men

Looking at the Coen brothers' recent output, you might wonder if their directorial careers had jumped the shark. Ever since O Brother, Where Art Thou? Joel and Ethan just hadn't found much filmmaking magic. Getting a couple of duds out of their system seemed to have cleaned out their creative pipes. Or maybe they found Cormac McCarthy at just the right time. There's only a little bit of the Coens' trademark quirk in No Country For Old Men, and it's probably the best movie they've ever made. Besides, the Academy owes 'em an Oscar after shafting Fargo back in 1996.

No Country For Old Men

This isn't a lock, as There Will Be Blood would be a very worthy winner, as well. But to me, Blood felt like kind of an ordeal at times, but Daniel Day-Lewis' performance (along with Paul Dano's) keeps pushing you through it. No Country, on the other hand, is a freight train that keeps on rolling. You want to see where the story goes, as opposed to wondering where it will end up. Maybe it's not the right criterion, but I think the Best Picture winner should be a movie that we're talking about years from now. Paul Thomas Anderson's film is fresher in my memory, as I just saw it two weeks ago, but I think the Coens' work is more memorable.

We should also mention the screenplay awards, since the writers have shown just how important they are, and were the reason there almost wasn't an Oscars ceremony. It would surely be more fun if Diablo Cody won BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY, but I think her story's (not her screenplay) has gone about as far as it can go already. Juno probably has to win something for all its nominations, however, and maybe this is where that happens. I'm actually going to pick Tony Gilroy for much the same reason. Michael Clayton didn't have the most coherent plot, but Gilroy created one hell of a story around him. In a different year, he might have won Best Picture.

For BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY, the award has to go to Ronald Harwood for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I don't know how anyone could've read that memoir and think, "I can make a movie out of this." But Harwood figured out the device of telling the story through Jean-Dominique Bauby's eyes, rather than depict what happens to him or goes on around him. That is adaptation, baby.

Since there really aren't any bold predictions to make among the nominees this year, I'll go out on a limb for the running time. This is the year the Oscars end by 11 p.m. EST. Yes, that's still a three-hour ceremony, but after the writers' strike, no one's had time to come up with canned intros and presentations. A little dose of humility will keep the show moving.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chris Matthews is a Bulldog, and Sometimes He Bites

If you watched MSNBC's election coverage last night, you saw some memorable television just before 11 p.m. EST. Chris Matthews was talking to Ohio Representative Stephanie Tubbs, who supports Hillary Clinton, and Texas State Senator Kirk Watson, who favors Barack Obama, when a question was raised that has and will continue to come up as the Obama freight train keeps rolling.

I was IM'ing with my buddy Matt at the time, and when I told him about this, he asked what Clinton and John McCain's legislative accomplishments were. If you watched the YouTube clip, you saw Keith Olbermann make the same point with that trademark Olbermann wit. It's an argument that doesn't seem to hold a lot of weight.

But if you're in the Obama camp, you'd surely like your supporters to offer a little bit more than Watson was able to manage last night. That was some awkward television.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Today's Reading - 02/17/08

In Detroit, Not Exactly LOL LOL!

Nothing like seeing Detroit get national headlines for all the wrong reasons. You're doing a hell of a job, Kwame.

The Last Man Exits

10 to 12 years ago, I - and many other fans - yearned for comic books to get this sort of attention. Those days are clearly over. But maybe it took a title like Brian K. Vaughan's Y the Last Man for the medium to be taken seriously. With the last issue of the series having now been published, I have some catching up to do.

Is PBS Still Necessary?

When I saw the headline of this article, my instinct was "Hell, yes." Unfortunately, my argument mostly consists of, "We're just better with PBS on the air."

But if you were to ask me what I actually watch on PBS... well, it's pretty much The NewsHour. No other news program delves into an issue of the day more thoroughly. But even then, I usually tune in only on Fridays, for the commentary of Mark Shields and David Brooks. Sometimes, I watch Soundstage or Austin City Limits, if a band I like is performing.

These days, however, I listen to Public Radio much more.

Making a Name for Themselves

The story of "Guy" and "Girl" didn't end once the credits rolled on Once. This thing has become bigger than either of its stars ever could've expected.

It Is What It Is, a Sports Cliche For Our Times

Five words strung together that allow professional athletes to answer a question without actually answering a question. (Though sometimes it provides enough of an answer, depending on what your definition of "is" is.)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Why Michigan State is Better Than Michigan in Hoops

Nothing against John Beilein (nice win over Ohio State yesterday, Coach), but here's an example of why Michigan State will dominate the state's hoops scene as long as Tom Izzo is their head coach:

I'm glad a journalist finally asked Coach Izzo what he thought of Jay-Z's "H to the Izzo." I've been wondering about that for years. That must be why Ron Burgundy was the dean of the journalism program, and why I didn't think I could cut it as a freshman.

I find it difficult to imagine Beilein being that kind of a sport. (We know Tommy Amaker wouldn't have been.)

Rich Rodriguez, on the other hand, would probably be game for a sit-down with Burgundy (though an interview with Lloyd Carr would've been a hell of a lot funnier).

(via Awful Announcing)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hulking Out

Some pictures of a scale model that will be used to promote the Incredible Hulk movie leaked onto the internet on Friday. Anyone wondering just how different this new incarnation of the Hulk might differ from Ang Lee's giant beast got some solid confirmation with these photos.

Judging from the size of the model and a couple of images on the film's official site, it's apparent that Edward Norton and company are nodding more toward the TV show than Lee's version, which should lead to a somewhat more believable (and coherent) interpretation. Not as outlandishly large, not as brightly green, and maybe more savage. Just like Lou Ferrigno used to be.

I know the new Hulk is supposed to be roaring and flexing and hulking in that pose, but from certain angles, he also looks like he could be dancing. Kind of like the Baltimore Ravens' Ray Lewis before he takes the field.

Maybe that can be the subtitle of this new movie. The Incredible Hulk: Bust a Move.

(via The Movie Blog)

Friday, February 15, 2008

'About Half the Population Would Be Dead by .48'

Last week, former Detroit Tigers radio broadcaster (and major league pitcher) Lary Sorenson added to his utterly sad accumulation of drunken driving episodes when he was found by police on the roadside of a metro Detroit highway. Upon being taken to the hospital, Sorenson was found with a blood alcohol level of .48. Go ahead and read that again; it's not a typo.

Pardon the tactless pun, but Neal Rubin wrote a sobering column in today's Detroit News that followed up on the story. .48 is eight times higher than the limit for drunk driving convictions in Michigan. It's an astounding number, one that makes you wonder what exactly Sorenson was trying to accomplish. Maybe suggesting that he actually had something in mind other than drinking himself into a complete stupor is giving him too much credit.

Anyway, Rubin found someone who could answer the same question most of us would have after looking at that number: How in the hell do you get that drunk?

[...] the alcohol in Sorensen's system represented 24 drinks.

That's two dozen beers, shots, 5-ounce glasses of wine, or some combination thereof. And we also know this: That's only what was left in his system when he was treated at St. John Macomb Hospital for alcohol poisoning.

He had actually guzzled even more.

That last sentence is a stunner. The expert Rubin talked to estimates that the typical person burns off about one drink (or .015) an hour. It's unclear how long Sorenson had been in his car when he was found, but he had likely been there for a while.

Consider these two sentences, also:

Many people would be unconscious by the time they hit .35. About half the population would be dead by .48.

Of course, Sorenson's story draws more attention because of the celebrity status that comes with a being a former major league ballplayer and radio personality. Other people do this sort of thing and it doesn't warrant a write-up in the newspaper, let alone a follow-up column. Their problems and the consequences wreaked upon their families are suffered quietly.

I suppose this story got under my skin a little bit because of my personal experiences with people over-medicating themselves to the point of becoming nearly comatose. And it just leaves you with questions. Does a person do this to avoid the reality of what his or her life has become? To avoid feeling anything and just sleep through it? Is it a form of escape? Of entertainment, as twisted as that might sound?

As I asked earlier in this post, what exactly is the goal here? Or maybe the answer is obvious, and I'd just prefer not to put it into words.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I'll Take Indy Over Candy

Save the flowers and candy (which I wasn't going to receive anyway, since I'm, like, a guy). I'll take this for a Valentine's Day gift. (Along with pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, of course.)

The one thing that truly makes me nervous about the new Indiana Jones flick is where the "crystal skull" of its title comes from. (And there's at least one clue in the trailer.) The recent feature in Vanity Fair implies a story direction that could be a bit risky. Fingers are crossed that Spielberg, Lucas, and company pull it off. It looks like Harrison Ford is doing his part in front of the camera.

(via Yahoo!)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Today's Reading - 02/12/08

A Do-Over? Democrats' Fate May Ride on It

I tell myself that I voted for Barack Obama in the Michigan Democratic primary on January 15. But it's not really the truth. I voted "uncommitted" because Obama wasn't on the ballot, in accordance with the party's protest over Michigan moving up its primary. (Today was the original date for the vote, by the way.) Hillary Clinton, however, was on the ballot and she won, with 55% of the vote (over 40% for "uncommitted"). It's a moot point, since the Democratic National Committee won't recognize the state's delegates, as another form of punishment.

Clinton might really need those delegates to overtake Obama, though. But should she have them when the voting results might not truly reflect the majority preference?

One way to make those delegates count again would be to hold a new caucus. Michigan moved up its primary to make its vote matter. Calling a mulligan and conducting another vote would likely ensure that really happens.

(via Edward Vielmetti)

Who Won the Writers Strike?

So was the writers' strike worth it? The final outcome is still being sorted out, it seems, so maybe it's just a bit too early to declare the outcome of the battle. If getting a piece of digital media and an increase in DVD royalties was the ultimate goal for the writers, then it looks like they may have accomplished their goals. But at what cost? What if the TV networks feel like business was doing fine with more reality programming?

Frances Bean Cobain Acts, Dresses Nicely

Here's something that could make you feel old today. Frances Bean Cobain is 15 years old. If the image of her as a two-year old when her father died is still frozen in your memory (as it is in mine), these pictures that accompany her interview in Harper's Bazaar will likely wake you up.

HD: If a Tree Falls & No One Hears It . . .

Do you know anyone who has a HD radio? Or does anyone reading this? I'm just curious, because this article confirmed a thought I've occasionally had. I'm sure a high-definition (or "hybrid digital") radio sounds great. But I hardly listen to the radio anymore.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Remembering Roy Scheider

I just read that Roy Scheider passed away yesterday, due to complications from a staph infection. He was 75 years old. (Here's his obituary from the New York Times.)

While you wouldn't call Scheider an action hero, he was in one of the favorite movies of my childhood, Blue Thunder. Remember those days in the 1980s, when it was all about souped-up super vehicles? Knight Rider, Firefox, Airwolf, etc.? Blue Thunder was the helicopter of the bunch. (I know Airwolf was a helicopter too, but I liked Blue Thunder better.) Here's the original trailer:

(I was thinking of posting a clip from All That Jazz, but most of them aren't entirely safe for work.)

Scheider's probably far better known for starring in Jaws as Police Chief Brody, and that's probably the first movie of his that comes to my mind, too. But I always thought he was cool for getting to fly that helicopter, even if that was far from his best role.

EDIT: After posting this, I remembered that Scheider also played a Detroit Tiger in the made-for-TV movie Tiger Town. Yet another reason I thought the man was cool.

(via Hollywood Elsewhere)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Iron Man and The Dark Knight Don't Have This

I'm not a regular reader of Page Six, but occasionally some news breaks that just can't be ignored. From today's New York Post:

Scarlett Johansson has a steamy lesbian sex scene with Penelope Cruz in Woody Allen's upcoming "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." A source tells us: "It is also extremely erotic. People will be blown away and even shocked. Penelope and Scarlett go at it in a red-tinted photography dark room, and it will leave the audience gasping."

Gasping with surprise or gasping for air?

I haven't cared for most of Woody Allen's recent offerings (and the title "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is awful), but I'm open to rethinking that stance. I'm also willing to re-evaluate my opinion that Johansson is a terribly overrated actress (except for Lost in Translation) who gets work because directors probably fall in love with her.

Oh, and if you're wondering why I included a photo of a smiling Javier Bardem, click on the NYP link and read the second-to-last sentence. I imagine he wanted more than a few takes to get those scenes just right.

(via Pop Candy)

Happy Chinese New Year!

If you happen to encounter some people running around in an elaborate dragon or lion costume at your Chinese food establishment of choice today, don't panic. It's Chinese New Year! And 2008 is the Year of the Rat (or Wu Zi).

I bet Remy's off to get (or, better yet, cook) some dumplings, sticky rice cake, or other such traditional holiday dishes.

Congratulations and be prosperous! Oh, and don't buy shoes or books, or talk about death today. Bad luck.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Yeah, He Can Fly

Super Bowl XLII was a great game, including a signature play that will be forever be a part of pro football lore, but since I was sort of rooting for the Patriots, and having excellence go unrewarded kind of bummed me out, the Iron Man ad ended up being the most memorable part of the evening for me.

Just because. And a conversation with Matt reminded me that I hadn't posted this yet.

I wish that last sequence didn't look like it was from a video game, though. But everything else looked pretty bad-ass.

What's the World Got in Store

I'm on rickshaw duty today, helping Mama Cass buy a dress for Dr. Lil' Sis's upcoming wedding. But there's wi-fi in the mall here (which I had to pay for, of course), so I can at least have a little bit of fun while I'm waiting.

For now, I wanted to share a photo that Rob passed along, which brought me a smile this morning.

Barack Obama, meet Wilco! This was taken before he introduced the band at Farm Aid back in 2005. Good stuff. Maybe Jeff Tweedy is explaining why "Spiders" from A Ghost is Born had to be 11 minutes long.

(via Brooklyn Vegan)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Conan vs. Colbert vs. Stewart!

Forget the Patriots and the Giants and the Super Bowl. That's so last Sunday. This is The Church of What's Happenin' Now. Conan O'Brien vs. Stephen Colbert vs. Jon Stewart - all sort of over Mike Huckabee?

Forget Anchorman or The Matrix Reloaded. That might have been the best brawl ever seen. Clearly, there was a lot of pent-up aggression from that writers' strike.

(via Pop Candy)

Today's Reading - 02/05/08

Leopold’s Leaving

Bad news for anyone who enjoys a bar where you can just hang out and chat with friends over beers, rather than constantly tussling shoulder to shoulder just to move around, let alone get the bartender's attention. The Ann Arbor community is definitely lessened without establishments like Leopold's Bros. That place got me through many late nights after work, and I always enjoyed the time I spent there. Get there while you can before they close up shop in June.

(via MGoBlog)

Downtown Ypsi offers wireless Internet

There's something very amusing (and, well, frustrating) about Ypsilanti having wireless internet across its city before Ann Arbor. See what happens when a community gets together on something, rather than argue over who gets which piece of what or who foots the bill? Maybe I'll live blog while enjoying a London Broil at Haab's.

Obama vs. the Phobocracy

Sure, Robert De Niro endorsed Barack Obama yesterday, and is now campaigning for him. But Michael Chabon has publicly supported Obama for a while now, and addressed the fears and reservations that some voters might have of voting for him in a Washington Post editorial - just in time for Super Tuesday.

A Medical Mystery Unfolds in Minnesota

Why is there an outbreak of similar symptoms (nerve damage) among residents of Austin, Minnesota? And why do all of these patients seem to work at the same meat-packing plant (and more specifically, at the same station)? "Aerosolization of brain tissue"? Just watch - this is going to be a storyline on House.

Between this news and this story, and talk of cloned meat, I'm inching ever closer to vegetarianism. (Is that Mis Hooz skeptically sitting and waiting, with arms folded?)

WGA Strike: The Questions

With rumors of the writers' strike coming to an end, David Poland looks at whether or not the WGA picked the right time for a work stoppage, and if that strategy helped the WGA accomplished its objectives. Unfortunately, just as many - if not more - questions have been created than answers.

Trading Johan Was a Raw Deal

Here's your unsolicited plug for the day. Mike McClary and I have launched a new baseball blog, mostly to provide an outlet for writing about teams other than the Detroit Tigers. It's called BaseballBlend, and for the baseball fans in the house, we hope you'll stop over and take a look. I'm really excited about it. My first post is about the recent trade of Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins to the New York Mets.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

This is Why We Watch Sports

Giants 17, Patriots 14

As elementary as it might sound, the team that played better won the game. It's just that no one expected the New York Giants to be that team.

It feels too soon to call this the greatest upset in NFL history, as some are doing right now, but given what was at stake for the New England Patriots and how the Giants were largely viewed as a speed bump on the way to football immortality (guilty as charged), I'll probably come around to sharing that opinion after sleeping on it.

Nothing is a sure thing in sports these days. That's why despite all the stories about steroids, shootings, dog fighting, or whatever else that surrounds our favorite games, we still care most about the final result on the scoreboard. The games are what matter the most.

Why I'll Probably Watch the Super Bowl Alone

On Wednesday, Rob suggested that I let go of my inhibitions and just embrace my man-crush on Tom Brady. Well, if I'm going to do so, Super Bowl Sunday (the national holiday that's not an official national holiday) is probably the right day for it. I'll embellish the sentiment with an e-card that Mis Hooz sent me last week.

(Courtesy of

Oh yeah - the game. My score looks like Patriots 37, Giants 16. Is picking the 18-0 team to win one more game really taking a chance? Regardless, I'll enjoy watching excellence be rewarded while the Patriots make pro football history.

Besides the gridiron competition, I'll also be looking forward to the Iron Man trailer during some commercial break and may be more excited than I've ever been about a Super Bowl halftime show, with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers supplying the musical entertainment. (Please let there be no dancers on the field.) One of the best (yet criminally underrated) American rock bands ever finally gets the huge stage it deserves.

The Piffle Parade

One of my favorite Sunday morning amusements - besides sleeping or watching my DVR collections for the week - is reading Walter Scott's "Personality Parade" section of Parade magazine, which comes with many Sunday newspapers in this country. What makes it especially amusing is that the author's e-mail address isn't listed in the print edition, so to submit a question, readers (presumably) have to take the time to write out the query by hand or type it up.

So inspired by blogs like Deadspin and The Wayne Fontes Experience singling out questions from chats and message boards for everyone's amusement, I'd like to post a particularly baffling intriguing inquiry sent in by a reader.

Q Is it true that Carrie Underwood has never had a pedicure because she’s too ticklish? — J.B., Evansville, Ind.

A Once true. However, since winning American Idol in 2005 and becoming a superstar, the country cutie has learned to grin and bare it—her toes, that is.

Let's consider this again. Someone was consumed enough by his or her curiosity (or foot fetish) about Carrie Underwood's rumored ticklishness to send a question about it to Walter Scott. (And then Scott ran the question in his column, but delving into that probably requires a whole other blog post.) It also appears that this same reader may have realized how stupefying this query was, as he or she signed it with initials, rather than a full name or even just a first name. We do know, however, where this person lives, or claims to live.

Bravo, Personality Parade. Mama Cass and I will have something to discuss over Sunday dinner this evening. That is, if she (or I) gave a shit about Carrie Underwood, let alone her proclivity toward pedicures.

Okay, I have to go back to my Super Bowl pre-game coverage. What does Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi use to keep his thick, lustrous black hair so dark?

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Best 'Dear John' Letter Ever?

[Sure to be taken off YouTube soon, so click it!]

As if playing Jason Bourne already didn't make Matt Damon cool enough...

Adultery aside, I'd like to think if Sarah Silverman was my girlfriend, I'd compliment her for the significant upgrade.

The Sweetest Cup

Does hot cocoa taste any sweeter than after you've just shoveled all that snow off your driveway?

I raise my cup to my fellow shovelers out there today. The elements cannot defeat us, my friends, only sometimes frustrate us and provide occasional amusement.

Now where did I put that whiskey... ?

Today's Reading - 02/01/08

Exclusive: Detroit Free Press Becomes Largest Newspaper In The Country Without A Full-Time Film Critic

I completely missed this news (maybe because I don't subscribe to the Freep anymore, and what I read online is mostly local news and Detroit Tigers coverage), but this is kind of a troubling development. Terry Lawson was far from my favorite film critic (though I enjoyed sometimes batting his opinions around with my buddy Pete), but the largest newspaper in the metro Detroit market should have an in-house movie reviewer. (And a TV critic, for that matter. Mike Duffy also took a buyout.)

I wonder if I could interest the Freep in Four-Sentence Movie Reviews... ?

Edwards exits the race: What went wrong

I was a John Edwards supporter in 2004, and looked forward to his 2008 campaign. Unfortunately, he was run over by both the Hillary Clinton machine and Barack Obama freight train. Maybe it was just the wrong time for him, and he was a better candidate in '04. I don't know. But Edwards worked hard to point out the vast chasm that has developed between the wealthy and poor in this country, and that helped the Democratic party find a part of its identity.

Dip Once or Dip Twice?

Timmy may have been right when he yelled at George Costanza for double-dipping! (Here's the episode recap.) Definitely something to keep in mind this Super Bowl Sunday when you're sharing that seven-layer dip with a room full of people.

Four Days, a Therapist; Fifth Day, a Patient

I've been watching In Treatment this whole week, and think it's a more intriguing show than several critics do. (This is one of the positive reviews.) I don't know if I can stay with the "Jake and Amy" storyline, though. Not only are those characters completely unlikable, but it's really hard to believe that the two of them would've ever gotten married.

Wait a minute, wasn't Captain America dead?

Story developments such as killing Captain America and - surprise! - bringing him back months later only really happen in comic books. This is the problem with trying to age iconic characters along the readership. Eventually, they hit a ceiling. But the comics still have to be published - and draw good sales - while characters have to stay "fresh." Meanwhile, stories like this are what make it difficult for new readers (or those who took a break, but are interested in coming back) to discover and embrace these titles.

Fed Up With MySpace? Join the Club and Delete Your Account

Virtually the only reason I sign onto MySpace these days is to delete spam friend requests from near-naked hootchie mamas. I am so close to deleting my account. I'm glad to see that others have followed through on that sentiment.

How will Warner Bros. market The Dark Knight without Heath Ledger?

Unfortunately, the show has to go on. But marketing for The Dark Knight will have to walk a tightrope of sensitivity, as it wobbles between celebration and tribute. Purely as a Batman fan, I hope WB doesn't reveal what Harvey Dent looks like as Two-Face before the movie is released. Some revelations should be left to the moviegoing experience.