Friday, September 30, 2005

Why Can't We Be Friends?

Boston's gone baseball crazy this weekend. And some are saying the editors of the Weekly Dig — one of the free publications you'll find all over Boston — are just plain crazy. You be the judge.

Let's Go Red Sox !

Even the youngest fans know who to root for this weekend ...

(And no, I don't know who these kids are. I just found the picture on the web.)


People Are Stupid

Alternate Headline: Thank God I Wore Sneakers Today

The Red Line wasn't working this morning when I got to Park Street at 8:45. Apparently, someone had jumped on the tracks, though the official word from the MBTA was that there was a "medical emergency."

Park Street station, for those who don't know, is the nexus of the Green Line and the Red Line, and one of the busiest stations during rush hour for that very reason. Add in some overly zealous tourists and you have a real mess on your hands in Downtown Crossing when the Red Line is out.

Suffice it to say, it's truly amazing the herd mentality in these situations. People take the escalator to the top and then just stop and congregate right outside the door, causing a backup when more people (like myself) get to the top of the escalator, and then, like some kind of clown act, we all bump into each other. Then all the people get on their cell phones to alert their friends and coworkers that the train isn't working, and blah blah blah blah blah, and totally miss the fact that the cops are letting us cross the street. And when you — or rather, I — say something like "C'mon people. Move," you're looked at like you're a jerk. And I suppose it's all the more frustrating when you've left your apartment earlier than normal because you needed to get to work at a more decent hour.

There's a book called The Wisdom of Crowds that apparently says something to the fact that a group of people is smarter than all the individuals, um, individually. After witnessing the chaos outside of Park Street this morning, I can't get behind that theory.

Happy Friday, everyone.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

They've Got It Covered

So this is a bit dorky (at least in comparison to some of my more recent postings), but the American Society of Magazine Editors is sponsoring a contest to pick the 40 Greatest Magazine Covers of the Last 40 Years. According to a story on the Media Industry Newsletter, the competition has attracted more than 400 entries — apparently, many of them are 9/11- or Kennedy-related.

As both an avid magazine reader and a professional in the magazine industry, I'm quite interested in this. I mean, what makes a good cover? Is it a great photo? An eye-catching cover line? An attractive subject (male or female)? A memorable/different/unusual image, such as a caricature? A fun type treatment? A combination of all this? Probably. It's all part and parcel of the magazine reading experience that I enjoy so much. A cover is how the magazine announces itself. You see the issue on the newsstand or in your mailbox and just know you want to dig in.

Sometimes I'll buy a magazine only for its cover and then not even read the contents. I've saved magazines simply because of their covers. Vanity Fair, GQ, and Esquire, for example, tend to have great covers. And I still have the Friends cover of Rolling Stone from May 1995 framed in my apartment. I'm sure if I looked for it, I'd even find the blown up poster-sized version of the Friends cover that I talked Sid Holt, the former managing editor of RS, into giving me that summer when I was an ASME intern.

So yeah, I find this contest kind of cool. And I'll be looking forward to seeing who and what is chosen when the winners are announced during the annual American Magazine Conference, which takes place in Puerto Rico October 16–19.

I have no idea which 400-plus covers have been submitted to the contest, but as you've no doubt noticed, peppered throughout this posting are some of my favorites. Actually, they're not necessarily even the best ones I could remember, but they are some fun ones I easily found while doing a quick Google search. And, with the exception of the Friends cover, I still have each one of these issues sitting in my apartment right now.

Perhaps as a way of encouraging some "audience participation" I'll ask this: Do you have a favorite magazine cover, or remember any particularly good ones? If so, click on the link and post a comment. (Go ahead. You know you want to.)


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Picture Is Worth ...

Alright, since I've already posted something about Jennifer Garner today, why not get it all out of the way and show you the picture I mentioned on Sunday of Kristin from MTV's Laguna Beach. I've become a bit of a fan of the show in recent weeks, despite my best attempts to avoid it, and now this photo from the latest issue of Rolling Stone, taken by Matthew Rolston, clinches it. (It's on page 80 of the print edition.) Enjoy. And yes, she is legal — 18 years old.

Tomorrow I'll go back to less pervy postings. Promise.


I Broke My Silence for This?

Is it possible for me to like Jennifer Garner any more? Before last night I didn't think so.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Could You Smell the Wood Burning?

It's been three days since I've posted something here, but nothing's been all that posting-worthy, so here are a couple of days' worth of random thoughts ...

* I stayed in the office late on Friday night (until 9 p.m.), mostly to square some stuff away, clean up my desk, and get organized after a couple of crazy days. One facet of getting organized was coming up with a to-do list for Monday. Of course, by doing that, I now know all the work I have waiting for me. Talk about a catch-22. So maybe getting organized wasn't such a good idea ...

* Saturday was one of those impulsive shopping days at Newbury Comics. Walked in to get a free pint glass and the new Maroon 5 live CD, walked out a half hour later with those things and five other CDs. I shouldn't tell you which ones, but maybe by confessing it'll make me feel better: The 40-Year-Old Virgin soundtrack; Genius and Friends, a sub-par "sequel" to Ray Charles' Genius Loves Company; All-Time Top 100 TV Themes, a 2-CD set of stuff from Six Feet Under to The Lone Ranger; the Desperate Housewives soundtrack (no comments, please); and the Elizabethtown soundtrack.

* Went to an ice cream tasting get-together for Marie's birthday on Sunday. We all had to bring a favorite flavor so of course, I brought Hydrox (i.e.: Cookies and Cream) from Rancatore's. (mmmm...Ranc's.) But when tasted alongside Ben & Jerry's Fossil Fuel or Caramel Sutra, somehow the Hydrox just couldn't compare. Does Ben & Jerry's make bad flavors? Because I've never had one ...

* Got caught up on some TV this weekend. Thought the Martha Stewart version of The Apprentice wasn't all that bad. I'll probably continue to watch it, since it comes on right before Lost and doesn't compete with anything else. Everybody Hates Chris, on the other hand, was not as good as the hype would imply. (Good thing, since it's on opposite Alias and The OC.) Didn't really enjoy How I Met Your Mother either. Neil Patrick Harris was just trying too hard, and the show seemed like it couldn't sustain itself for very long unless new women are introduced every week. Wanted to get back into Prison Break, but I'm three episodes behind now (four including the one that'll be on tomorrow), so at this point, I think I just have to call it and say I won't be watching that show. I know it's great, but I can't watch 'em all. The second episode of Reunion was alright. Nothing great, but not awful either. I feel like by not telling you who's dead yet, the show is just being an annoying tease and frankly, I don't like any of the characters enough to care. It is, however, fun to figure out just what Bedford, NY the show is taking place in. Not the one I grew up in, that's for sure.

* I don't know about the rest of the country, but here in Boston — as I'm sure it does in New York — it feels like the baseball playoffs have already begun. If things remain this close, it's going to be a long week. (And bummer I'm leaving town early for Rosh Hashannah.) My prediction? The Sox will end up 2 games ahead of the Yankees, who won't make the playoffs. (Thank you, Cleveland.)

* One bad thing about Blogger is that it doesn't allow you to track the traffic your blog is getting. (Or at least if it does, I don't know how to do it.) But it seems like I have a lot of readers. And it seems like friends are telling old friends who I haven't heard from in years to read the site. Case in point: got two emails from people last week who had heard about the blog from other people. Hadn't heard from one of them in, oh, I don't know, 14 years. Small world this Internet is ...

* As much as I've tried, Laguna Beach has drawn me in. Big Time. And I tried to resist, really I did. But now I can sit and watch the same episodes over and over for hours. So here's a PSA for any other straight male Laguna Beach fans (and I know I'm not the only one): go check out the new issue of Rolling Stone, the one with Evangeline Lilly on the cover. Turn to page 80. Nice.

* What happened to summer? All of a sudden it's chilly again.

Phew! Maybe I am better off being in the office, where I'll have plenty of work to keep me busy ...

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hitting the Links

So maybe my more adventurous readers have clicked on the links to the right of this web site to see the other blogs I've pointed folks to. Thought I'd take a second to mention the new site I've listed there. Thanks to a tip by my old friend Doug, whose Planet Gordon site I'm a regular reader of, I have added the site TVgasm. Basically, the site's what it may sound like: an orgasm of TV stuff: episode recaps written with a healthy dose of attitude, plus industry news and gossip.

But wait — there's more. In the "Hotties" section, you can critique the attractiveness of various TV personalities (a mix of actual actors and reality cast members and other folks), and in the "Snark" section, you can put in someone's name and get a, well, snarky comment about them. It's good for a laugh.

Today the site's full of info about The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, America's Next Top Model, and of course, Lost, which the site's writers call "the best hour of TV ever." (Maybe not ever, but it was a pretty damn good show last night.) I'm sure there'll be a great recap of The O.C. tomorrow if the recap of Laguna Beach is any indication.

While I'm at it, maybe I should plug some of the other sites if any of y'all have yet to check them out:

* Anna Rubin is my friend Anna's blog. She and her husband are moving to Australia (actually, he's already there) and the site serves as a primer on the country and a journal of the moving experience.
* Doug Gordon is an old friend from summer camp who gained notoriety (and all kinds of press mentions) for documenting the experience of being the male in an engaged couple on his site. Now he's turning much of the content, and other wisdom he learned from the experience, into a book, due out in January. (Color me jealous.) But he posts daily about other stuff too if you're like me and not even close to being married.
* David Poland is the blog of a film writer I like. I read his other site, The Hot Button, daily.
* I'm not exactly sure what my friend Dan Friedell's blog is all about, but it covers fantasy sports and other miscellaneous topics. Personally, I loved his "I have feet" posting.
* Jeff Wells is another film writer that I like. He posts new columns every Wednesday and Friday.
* My old college roommate Seth Rosen started his blog to document his training for a triathalon this summer, and now that the race is over his postings have become less frequent. But, if running and athletic training is your thing, his site was a good read, and I'm hoping he starts posting more frequently real soon.
* Finally, if you like kids, then read Simon Ezra, which documents the "fun" that a friend of a friend has being the mother of a young son.

Those are the other blogs. As I say above, if you've got a blog or you know of a good one I should be reading, please let me know and I'll put up a link. Apparently I have a loyal group of readers and I'm happy to spread the word.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

George Clooney Is the Man

I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s a role model or even someone I idolize. He's not even a man-crush. But George Clooney is someone I respect and admire. It all started for me on September 2, 1997, a few days after Princess Diana died. Clooney held a press conference to call the paparazzi to task, saying it was their fault she was dead, that they were reckless, and not just in this case. The way he delivered his remarks that night — in a forceful and passionate manner, his words clearly thought-out — so impressed me that I was instantly made a fan, and I’ve never forgotten that night. From that moment on, George Clooney was my hero.

Over the years, Clooney has continually stepped up to the plate in times like that. He doesn’t exploit his celebrity like some folks do, but rather he uses it to his advantage to, for example, gather friends and colleagues for telethons following 9/11 and the tsunami in southeast Asia. When his motives are contested, by cynics such as Bill O’Reilly, he stands up for himself and his intentions, challenging people like O’Reilly to do the same as he is doing. Clooney is a man of principle and he won’t let anyone question his intentions.

He’s also a loyal, good friend and he just oozes cool. All you have to do is watch a movie like Out of Sight or Ocean’s 11 for proof of this. Clooney makes being him — or acting as a guy very much like him (or so we’re led to believe) — look easy.

Perhaps that’s why anytime there’s a profile written about Clooney in Esquire or GQ or any such men’s magazine, it tends to be about the same basic things: how great a guy he is, how loyal he is to his friends (and vice versa), and how much fun he’s having being George Clooney. And I don’t care that these articles are all basically the same; I read them all. I also see any movie he’s in — even Solaris, a really weird sci-fi romance that I didn’t understand but still somehow liked. I think.

Anyway, my reason for writing this ode to George is that I saw his new movie, Good Night, and Good Luck tonight. It was a sneak screening; the movie doesn’t open until mid-October. Good Night basically tells the true story of the two months during which CBS News anchor Edward R. Murrow stood up to Senator Joseph McCarthy and challenged him about his anti-Communist efforts. The film was shot in black-and-white, and it’s a somewhat slow moving but purposefully-told examination of what happened when one member of the media stood up to a government figure whose actions were, up to then, going practically unchecked.

Clooney’s in the film, but as he did with his directorial debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, he has a non-showy supporting role that doesn’t distract from the matters at hand, and the great performance of the lead actor (in this case, David Strathairn).

Without going into the details too much, my immediate reaction to the film was something along the lines of being impressed, not just because it’s a well-acted and well-made movie. I was impressed mostly because you could just feel Clooney’s passion in every frame. It’s a black-and-white historical movie, not exactly an easy sell, but you just know it’s a movie that Clooney felt he had to make because he had something to say about our present-day government and our television news organizations. And you know it’s the kind of movie Clooney would like if he were a critic.

Clooney makes an effective point with this movie, using Murrow as a symbol for the type of newsman that just doesn’t exist anymore. For that matter, the type of news broadcast that doesn’t exist anymore. (The closest thing we had was Peter Jennings, some might say.) On his See It Now programs, Murrow spent the full broadcast delving into one topic, and in the instances with Murrow, he editorialized and made plain that he didn’t approve of McCarthy’s tactics.

But at the same time he was on his crusade, Murrow was also battling pressure from the network to cut back, to make the news more entertaining. For a while, he also hosted a celebrity interview show called Person to Person, and there’s a scene in the film where he’s interviewing a celeb, while watching news on another monitor. It's obvious that doing the fluff show reviles him.

The son of a news anchor, Clooney clearly reveres Murrow and his role in the history of journalism, By movie’s end, you can’t help but feel the same way about Murrow. Having studied this period in a “News on Film” class I took in college, the story of Good Night was familiar to me. But Clooney’s film reminded me of just how passionate he can be when he believes in something. Good Night is definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen all year. I highly recommend it.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Vanity, Thy Name Is Earl?

I hope you've seen some of the ads or the great reviews for My Name Is Earl. The show debuts tonight on NBC at 9pm. I saw the pilot episode a month and a half ago because I was lucky enough to interview Jason Lee for one of the magazines I work on, and it's really funny. I mean, just look at the guy! As Jason has said in multiple interviews, he looks like a porn star from the '80s. Based on appearances alone, this is the funniest show on TV this season.

But there's more to it than a sweet 'stache. Basically, here's the premise: Jason Lee plays Earl, a dim-witted low-life thief who wins the lottery one day, and when he runs into the street to celebrate — SLAM! he's hit by a car. Of course, he loses the ticket. While he's laid up in the hospital, Earl hears Carson Daly (of all people) explain the concept of karma and he realizes, maybe if I was nicer to people, good things will happen to me too. So ... Earl sets out to correct all the things he's done wrong over the course of his life. Hilarity ensues.

Here's a sneak peek at what Jason told me about Earl's attempts to be a better man:
"It takes him a while. He’s an ignorant guy. He’s got a big heart. He’s naïve. So it’s going to take him a while. He certainly doesn’t become an overnight Buddhist Monk or anything. He’s still going to make mistakes, he’s still going to have his struggles, but he’s really all about correcting the bad things that he’s done. So we’ve got this journey to follow with this small town common man and the situations he gets himself into."

You know Jason Lee. You've seen him in Chasing Amy and Almost Famous, and you've heard him in The Incredibles. You know he's funny. Sure, he's no Matthew Perry or Jennifer Aniston. And that's partly why this show is so great: Jason Lee and Earl are so different from anything else on the air that you can't help but like the show. As the New York Times says today, the show would be more at home on HBO — or paired with Arrested Development on FOX.

Here's a quote from the Boston Globe review:
The NBC sitcom is so unpretentious and original, it will probably win you over on its own sweet merits. Like its hero, Jason Lee's Earl, it is askew, funny, scruffy, and unexpectedly touching.

Here's a quote from the USA Today three-and-a-half star review:
In a season stuffed with "aspirational" reality remakes of Queen for a Day, Earl is a bright comic twist on TV's makeover madness, a man determined to reshape his life and the lives of everyone he has robbed, conned or conked along the way.

Anyway, I could link you to and quote from any number of other reviews. Suffice it to say, I'm a big fan of the show — and not just because Jason gave me a good interview (which you will be able to read in full in November).

Earl is up against some tough competition (the Dancing with the Stars dance-off is tonight, next week The Amazing Race returns, etc.), but do yourself a favor and at least TiVo the show and watch later. It's worth it.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Ahoy There, Mateys!

About 10 years ago, a bunch of guys playing racquetball discovered that speaking in pirate slang made playing the game more fun. They decided that as long as there is a holiday for everything else, there needed to be a holiday to celebrate this kind of thing too, and began calling September 19 "Talk Like a Pirate Day." Writer Dave Barry heard about it some years later, and in 2002 he wrote a column about the guys. Well, the rest is history. So today I bring you this special announcement ...

Today is the 11th annual International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

In the spirit of the day, and with thanks to, here are some key words that will help you to talk like a pirate:

Ahoy! — "Hello!"

Avast! — Stop and give attention. It can be used in a sense of surprise, "Whoa! Get a load of that!" which today makes it more of a "Check it out" or "No way!" or "Get off!"

Aye! — "Why yes, I agree most heartily with everything you just said or did."

Aye aye! — "I'll get right on that sir, as soon as my break is over."

Arrr! — This one is often confused with arrrgh, which is of course the sound you make when you sit on a belaying pin. "Arrr!" can mean, variously, "yes," "I agree," "I'm happy," "I'm enjoying this beer," "My team is going to win it all," "I saw that television show, it sucked!" and "That was a clever remark you or I just made." And those are just a few of the myriad possibilities of Arrr!

... Really, it's just that simple. (I guess pirate vocabulary doesn't go much past the A's.) But if you need help translating your common English to pirate-speak, here's a handy translator that will do it for you. Just click on "ahoy!" And if you want even more fun, try speaking — I mean, talking like a German pirate. (These guys clearly have too much time on their hands.

But remember one thing: it's Talk Like a Pirate Day, not Dress Like a Pirate Day. So you can participate without calling too much attention to yourself.

Consider this the most valuable PSA you'll read today.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

George Bush Hates Black ... Sabbath

Laughed pretty hard at the Emmy awards this evening. Ellen DeGeneres was her usual funny self, Zach Braff's English accent was hysterical, the montages of comedy show writing staffs were great as always, the Eva Longoria jokes at the start of the show were good, and Jon Stewart ... man, that guy just rocks.

And it's a good thing I laughed as hard as I did because the awards themselves made me wanna scream. I mean, the fact that Terry O'Quinn, ahem, lost for his performance on Lost was just a crime. It also would have been nice had Jeremy Piven won for his performance on Entourage, so the fact that the award went to Brad Garrett of all people was just annoying. I mean, it's so frustrating when the same people win (or are nominated) year after year. Thank God it was Everybody Loves Raymond's last season — and that this is Will & Grace's last season.

On the other hand, big ups to J.J. Abrams for his Emmy win, to S. Epatha Merkerson for beating Halle Berry and giving the most memorable acceptance speech of the night, and of course, to Lost for winning Best Drama Series. And I'm so happy that Felicity Huffman won for best lead actress on a comedy; her role on Desperate Housewives might not be the most comedic, but she's overdue for recognition.

It was also nice to see David Letterman make a rare Emmy appearance. His tribute to Johnny Carson, while serious and maybe a bit too long, was heartfelt and well done. No surprise. Here's just a short quote from an AP story about the show:
Letterman recalled how Carson was asked once by a Tonight show audience member what had made him a star. "I started out in a gaseous state and then I cooled," Carson said.
"Johnny Carson's star never cooled," Letterman said.

Simple and perfect. And then Jon Stewart's line soon after — "The way that he feels about Johnny Carson is the way that all of us, the comedians of our era, feel about him" — was not only so great, but also a nice slap in Jay Leno's face.

I suppose it was also nice to see Desperate Housewives get, I suppose some would say robbed of its Emmy for Best Comedy Series, but did it have to go to Everybody Loves Raymond? I mean, really. Though I guess as long as it wasn't Will & Grace, I have to be happy.

Finally, no offense to my friends and family members who have or will be pregnant, but has a woman with child ever looked as beautiful as Jennifer Garner did?

Ahhhhh ... awards shows. You've gotta love 'em. Or at least I do.

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Happy Birthday, Brookline!

My (current) hometown celebrated its 300th birthday today with a huge street fair in Coolidge Corner, so Joe, Marie and I went to check it out. Booths stretched from Beacon Street all the way down Harvard to Fuller Street, where Kupel’s is. They were all organized into sections by theme, including “Get Involved” and “Memory Lane,” and tons of people came out to take part in the festivities. There was food, music, community info, fitness demonstrations, and basically, something for everyone. And it seemed that a good time was had by all. (Even Joe, he wanted me to point out, since the picture above might imply otherwise.)

I particularly enjoyed the few minutes I spent inside the Coolidge Corner Theater, where the World Series Trophy was in attendance, accompanied by Red Sox prez Larry Lucchino, who was participating in a panel discussion called “Diverse the Curse.” Good stuff, despite the typical posturing by Lucchino when asked something about how the team is more diverse now but when will the other Fenway employees be more diverse. (He said it was his and the owners’ goal to diversify all parts of the Red Sox organization. Of course.) A young girl stood up to tell Lucchino that she lives right near David Ortiz, and he responded “Thanks for all you’ve done to improve his playing lately.” That got a few laughs. If only my camera had cooperated so I could have taken a better picture of the trophy.

Anyway, after we’d made a loop around to see all the booths, Joe, Marie, and I headed over to Newton to get some ice cream at Cabot’s. (mmmmm … Cabot’s) Two frappes and a hot fudge sundae with Oreo ice cream, mellowcreme fudge, marshmallow, and whipped cream later (they had the frappes, I had the sundae), we were all full and ready to head home.

If you’re interested, here are a couple of other pictures from the Brookline 300th festivities.


Saturday, September 17, 2005

L is for Lame

Well, the good news is I’m not too old.

Ventured over to the Hynes Convention Center today for College Fest. It’s well-documented that I am a sucker for free stuff, and there’s usually plenty of it at College Fest, but this year I was there doing research for a magazine I work on for college students. I wanted to see what the students were into, what companies were promoting, what music was hot, etc.

So what did I learn? Nothing concrete, but based solely on the anecdotal evidence, companies just aren’t trying as hard these days to reach the college audience — or at least they’re not doing it at events like this one. Back in the day, when I was still a student, and even as recently as five years ago when I used to go to College Fest as part of the marketing efforts for my previous employer, the event stretched out over two halls at the Hynes, with the place bursting at the seems with companies and students. This year, only one smaller hall with fewer companies than ever.

I got to the Hynes around 1pm, and after going up and down the aisles twice, I left about 45 minutes later. Sure, the doors had just opened up at 12, but back in my day the kids were lined up to get in soon after it opened, and hung around to meet celebrities and get autographs (Jon Stewart was there one year, cast members of The Real World usually were in attendance, etc.) and of course, pick up all the free schwag. This year, the biggest line was to get an autograph from a Playboy model, and even that didn’t have people lined up around the corner.

I guess nowadays college students are more effectively reached on the Internet, and they know it. Or maybe they’re just too smart — or too lazy — to go somewhere to get marketed to, and more companies are targeting the students in other ways. In short, I thought this year’s College Fest was lame.

But back to my original, or at least my second statement, the one about the free stuff. I found it remarkably easy to clean up this year, despite being 31 years old and looking nothing like a college student. A grad student? Maybe. (At least that’s what I was telling people when they asked.) Regardless, I took home a bag full of stuff. For example:

* 9 t-shirts (3, maybe 4, that I could wear in public)
* 5 CDs of music
* 3 magazines (including the one I work on)
* 2 guides to Boston
* 1 guide to South Beach, Miami
* 2 plastic cups
* 1 pint glass
* 1 sports bottle
* 1 wiffle ball
* 1 block of post-it notes
* 1 mouse pad
* 1 copy of today’s Boston Globe
… but only 1 magnet.
I also won some Play-Dough, but I gave that back.

Still, I was struck by how lame College Fest had become. I expected to be there for at least a couple of hours, to learn some valuable stuff, and come home with two bags bursting with stuff, just like I used to. I mean, despite all that, I still had room for a bit more. Oh well. I guess times have changed.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I Can't Make This Up

Just read that a guy named Suresh Joachim, who lives in Toronto but hails from Sri Lanka, has broken the Guinness World Record for most consecutive hours watching television. How many did he watch? Try 69 hours and 48 minutes, all of which he did with the TV tuned to ABC in New York. He finished up Friday morning at around 7 a.m. According to Guinness, the rules allow for a 5-minute break every hour and a 15-minute break every 8 hours. The viewer must otherwise be constantly looking at the screen. The previous record was 50 hours and 7 minutes.

Now, considering it’s still rerun season, he couldn’t have watched much that was interesting or new (not including the news programs and talk shows), and I guess he had to watch W's thrilling press conference — maybe that's when he took one of his 15-minute breaks. And considering he did this largely on a Thursday, that means he missed out on watching a brand new episode of The O.C., which I thought was pretty good. I mean, it’s back (generally) to how things were first season when Summer was catty and funny (mmm ... I likes me some Summer), and it’s not overly serious like last year was.

But anyway, back to Suresh.

According to the guy's web site,, Suresh has some kind of fetish for breaking Guinness World Records. Apparently, he spent 100 hours bowling not too long ago. He also broke the record for the longest duration balancing on one foot (76 hours, 40 minutes).

And why does he do it? To raise awareness of suffering children. That's right. His couch potato-ing was all for the children.

I can’t make this stuff up, people.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

No Bones About It

Saw Corpse Bride tonight. If you're a fan of Tim Burton's macabre style and you liked Nightmare Before Christmas (tho, in full disclosure, I never saw it), then this movie's right up your alley. The animation — stop-motion, as opposed to CGI — is cool, the songs are fun, voice work is good, and it's real short, too (about 80 minutes). In particular, I really liked how the land of the living was a dull, drab black and white, but the land of the dead was full of color and (ahem) life. I give the film a B+.

Outside the auditorium, there were these little two-sided, newsletter-style booklets. One side had "Land of the Dead" and the other said "Land of the Living." Essentially, one half was about — well, you can probably figure it out. But what was particularly funny was that in the "Living" section, there was an obituary for the "recently departed" and in the "Dead" section, there was an announcement of the "recently arrived." And in the middle of the two sections were the lyrics to the "Corpse Bride" song that is the showstopping number of the movie. Good stuff.

Anyway, Corpse Bride opens next week (Sept. 23). Go see it.


Monday, September 12, 2005

I Love the Internet

On Saturday night, I posted something about how great the U2/Mary J. Blige duet of "One" was at the "Shelter from the Storm" Hurricane Katrina telethon. Maybe you've heard something about the performance from someone else in the past two days; apparently, more than 23 million people watched it. Mary J. Blige totally revitalized that song, with the same kind of powerful, emotional performance she gave at the Grammy Awards in 2004 when she sang "No More Drama." In this case, saying it was a "typical" performance is a compliment.

Anyway, it took less than two days for my posting to be picked up at a blog-watching site and for someone I don't even know to send me a link to an MP3 of the performance. Amazing how the Internet works sometimes.

If you've got the bandwidth, I strongly suggest downloading this track. It's free. Just follow the link, scroll down to the very bottom, and click on the "free" button. Then scroll down to the bottom again, wait for the countdown clock in the next-to-last paragraph to expire, and click on the Download link. And if you go to this guy's site, you'll find other downloads from Friday's telethon, including Neil Young's "When God Made Me" and Foo Fighters' "Born on the Bayou," plus the "When the Saints Go Marching In" finale from last week's show.

In related news, have also found an MP3 of Kelly Clarkson performing the Ray LaMontagne song "Shelter," at the MTV/VH1/CMT telethon Saturday night. Want to hear? Just click on the link at this fan site, under the heading for "React Now: Music & Relief."

Ah yes, the Internet is a wonderful thing.

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Adventures in Shopping

Few things are as embarrassing as ... selecting a cucumber on a crowded Sunday at Shaw's. (Actually, no matter when you try to select a cucumber, it's embarrassing.)

Few things are as annoying as ... going through the due diligence of selecting a good piece of cake for dessert (i.e.: biggest one they've got, plenty of icing, nothing stuck to the sides of the container — hold your comments, please) and having the cashier tip it upside down to scan the bar code, in the process getting icing on the top of the container, even if it's just a little bit.
Second place: the fact that the shortest line is always the slowest.

But, having all the students back in town does make grocery shopping a more pleasant experience. At least aesthetically.

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Music from Tragedy

If there's one good thing that comes from major disasters and tragedies, it’s the response from the people in the entertainment community. In the 2 weeks since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, just like they did in the weeks that followed 9/11 and the tidal wave in Southeast Asia last December, singers and actors have come together to take part in various telethons and relief concerts, such as the one I stayed home to watch tonight that’s being simulcast on MTV, VH1 and CMT.

Last week, there was one on NBC that featured artists, like Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis, who were from New Orleans. Last night’s show, simulcast on all the major broadcast networks, had a more diverse lineup, one that included Mariah Carey, Sheryl Crow, U2, Neil Young and Kanye West, among others. Tonight on the MTV show, it’s folks like Paul McCartney, John Mayer, Kelly Clarkson, Green Day, Coldplay, Hank Williams Jr., Alicia Keys and ... well, it’s a four-hour-plus show (the others were just an hour long). Kanye West and Alicia Keys and Sheryl Crow and Neil Young and U2, they all pulled double duty these past two nights.

Anyway, my point here is not to applaud the celebs for taking part. It’s to say how great the music has been. Of course, you knew Harry Connick’s cover of “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans,” even despite his tired and scratchy voice, would be awesome. That's because it’s times like these that separate the true artists from, well, the Britney Spears of the world. Maybe it’s the minimalist performance style that in many of these cases leaves only the singer and a piano or a guitar. Maybe it's the heartfelt emotion in the performances. Or maybe it’s just song selection. Whatever it is, there’s no denying that, for example, the U2/Mary J. Blige collaboration on “One” last night was simply music at its finest. It was one of the best performances of that song I'd ever heard and it blew me away. Mary J. Blige gave me chills. Randy Newman’s “Louisiana” (I think that’s what it was called), Sheryl Crow’s “The Water Is Wide” and Rod Stewart’s “People Get Ready” were also memorable.

Alicia Keys began the MTV/VH1/CMT show tonight with a moving rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd followed with an upbeat — but respectful — “Sweet Home Alabama.” John Mayer (with his blues trio) contributed a new song, “Gravity,” that was written in the last couple of weeks in response to Katrina. Live (on tape) from Milwaukee, the Rolling Stones sang “Waiting on a Friend.” Kelly Clarkson performed a song called “Shelter,” and she did a really nice job with it. And that was just the first half hour or so.

After the 9/11 telethon, the performances in the George Clooney-led telethon were released on CD and all proceeds went to victims’ families and other related causes. I’m hoping that after the past two weeks’ telethons, a similar charity CD is released with “the best” of these shows (there was also one last night on BET that I did not watch). Or that recordings will show up on iTunes. If not, well, if you missed the U2/Mary J. Blige duet, you missed something truly special.

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Have You Seen This Movie?

I got a lot of email about my posting last weekend about Junebug. The majority read like this: "You've seen 29 movies? What are the others? Which ones should I see?" So in an attempt to answer those questions, here's my 2005 list so far, in order of when I saw the films, with the grades I'd give them. (Note that I saw Wedding Crashers twice, thus the "x2.")

3. HITCH (B)
9. CRASH (B+/A-)
11. THE LONGEST YARD (solid B)
15. MR. & MRS. SMITH (B/B+)
24. RED EYE (D+)

My Bad

If you read the posting yesterday about the Boston Herald reporter who went with me to California in June — well, not with me, but she was on the same press trip — you may have been put off by how mean spirited it was. I suppose I let my critical side get the better of me. Well, after hearing some feedback from a couple of readers, I've tweaked the entry and reposted. If you missed the original version, you didn't miss much. And the general jist of what I had written is still there.

I'll try to keep things more positive in the future.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Get Real

When I went to Orange County in June, one of the other press people on my trip was a reporter from the Boston Herald. While I was there to check out a hotel, she was on specific assignment to experience "The Real O.C." The story she wrote about the trip finally ran today, just in time for the show's season premiere.

Want to know about the "real" O.C.? Here's my take on it.

Basically, there is no "real" O.C. Take the Bait Shop, for example. We were taken to the Newport Pier to see it, or at least where it would have been if it actually existed. The building that is supposed to be the Bait Shop, the one used for the exterior shots, is actually in Santa Monica, about an hour away. The Arches? Not the glamorous restaurant shown on television. It looks like a side of the road, run down shack, with a convenience store attached. Our tour guide tried to convince us, unconvincingly, that, for example, Newport Harbor High School was the location for the show's "Harbor High" (it's not) and that Ryan and Marissa shared their first kiss on a ferris wheel at the Balboa Fun Zone (they did kiss on a ferris wheel, but at the homecoming carnival). Nice try. The whole tour was basically filled with locations the characters would go to if they were real — not places we'd recognize from the show. And the locations that do exist, like The Arches, were less than exciting. What a bummer.

Despite that, I'm quite excited for the season premiere tonight. :-)