Monthly Archives: December 2005

Top Ten Films of 2005

1. Munich (Steven Spielberg)
2. Rent (Chris Columbus)
3. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Andrew Adamson)
4. Sin City (Robert Rodriguez/Frank Miller)
5. Good Night, and Good Luck (George Clooney)
6. Murderball (Henry Alex Rubin/Dana Adam Shapiro)
7. Wedding Crashers (David Dobkin)
8. Shopgirl (Anand Tucker)
9. Layer Cake (Matthew Vaughn)
10. The Aristocrats (Penn Gillette/Paul Provenza)
Honorable mention: Batman Begins, Brokeback Mountain, Elizabethtown, Fever Pitch, The 40 Year Old Virgin, The Producers, Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Street Fight, Walk the Line.
Omitted because I didnt see them: Broken Flowers, Capote, The Constant Gardner, A History of Violence, Jarhead, Junebug, Match Point, The Squid and the Whale, 2046.
Omitted because they’re overrated: Cinderella Man, Crash, King Kong, March of the Penguins, Me and You and Everyone We Know, Syriana, War of the Worlds.

Top Ten Albums of 2005

1. Coldplay- X&Y
2. Spoon- Gimme Fiction
3. Weezer- Make Believe
4. Bruce Springsteen- Devils & Dust
5. Stars- Set Yourself on Fire
6. Kanye West- Late Registration
7. Death Cab For Cutie- Plans
8. Sufjan Stevens- Illinois
9. The Hold Steady- Separation Sunday
10. Beck- Guero

The 40 Most Shameful Events of 2005 (in no particular order):

-The head of the Philadelphia NAACP, J. Whyatt Mondesire, turns a blind eye to crime, poverty, and other local problems within his purview in order to publish a hateful attack on Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb
-Focus on the Family blowhard James Dobson alleges that the childrens cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants is a puppet of the homosexual agenda, and his spokesman later accuses the sponge of manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids.”
-One of the craziest people in the Democratic Party, Howard Dean, is for some reason elected its chairman.
-Four words: Pat OBrien sex scandal.
-The New York alt-weekly New York Press publishes a humor piece titled 52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope. But the paper redeems itself, first with a staff purge and then by hiring yours truly to write a football column.
-University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill refers to those killed in the World Trade Center as Little Eichmanns; Churchill is subsequently the subject of around 574 different Fox News segments, all of which attempt to paint him as a major figure in American liberalism, even though most people have never heard of him.
-Congress sets aside more urgent business for frivolous purposes, first to save Terri Schiavo, and then to spend 12 hours discussing steroids in baseball. And worst of all, the steroid scandal results in Jose Canseco returning to public life.
-Paris Hilton, even worse, remains in public life.
-At those steroid hearings, Rafael Palmeiro points his finger at the committee and states that I have never used steroids; a few months later he tests positive, putting both his career and Hall of Fame chances in doubt.
-A 13-year-old blogger is called a little shit, and threatened with lawsuits- by another blogger after he accidentally copies a photograph from another blog.
-ESPNs Stephen A. Smith, for reasons known to absolutely no one, gets his own show on a major cable network. As does MSNBCs Rita Cosby, for even more mysterious reasons.
-On top of countless embarrassment caused by its role in the Plame/Libby/Miller affair, the New York Times voluntarily makes its own op-ed page irrelevant, by instituting the pay-per-view TimesSelect system.
-Lindsay Lohan goes from one of the most beautiful young women in Hollywood to an emaciated, skeleton-like shell of her former self. As does Teri Hatcher. But on the bright side, no one is any longer asking if either actress breasts are real.
-A man in Washington State dies after the horse he was having sex with falls on him.
-Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is sued by a woman who accuses him of giving her herpes, and alleges that he registered at an STD clinic as Ron Mexico. Luckily for Vick, his subpar play makes everyone forget this by the end of the year.
-While youd think running off with Katie Holmes would make an over-40 actor look good, most people end the year with the impression that Tom Cruise has gone insane. The lesson, as always: never hire your sister as your publicist.
-New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Doug Forrester uses damning quotes from opponent Jon Corzines former wife in a campaign ad which, somehow, doesnt work; Forrester loses. But thats nothing compared to
-New York mayoral candidate Freddy Ferrer produces an ad featuring animated likenesses of Mayor Bloomberg and President Bush riding a horse together, in which the mayor appears to be masturbating the president. Ferrer loses in a landslide and even worse, the ad misses the Brokeback Mountain craze by just a month or so.
-Eliminating any remaining doubt that he is an anti-Semite, Pat Buchanan writes a column questioning whether America was right to fight World War II- neglecting to mention the words Jews, Holocaust, concentration camps, or genocide. Buchanan, for some reason, remains employed by MSNBC as a commentator.
-The Pat Buchanan of baseball, John Rocker, makes an ill-fated comeback attempt with the Long Island Ducks, and distinguishes himself primarily with an interview where he says he has suffered more than any player in baseball history, including Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron.
-Maureen Dowd writes a bestselling book called Are Men Necessary, the point of which seems elusive to both everyone who reviews the book and everyone who buys it. But thankfully, a sizable MoDo backlash begins to emerge.
-In shameful Red Sox-related events, theyre swept in the first round of the playoffs, general manager Theo Epstein resigns, Manny Ramirez refuses to return to the team, Johnny Damon defects to the Yankees, and their dispute with Doug Mientkiewicz over the 2004 World Series ball continues.
-In addition to continuing to crush Russias nascent hopes for democracy, Vladimir Putin steals Robert Krafts Super Bowl ring for good measure.
-Texas Rangers pitcher Kenny Rogers attacks several cameramen before a game, as cameras continue to film him attacking other cameras.
-ESPNs SportsCenter continues to slide into irrelevance- among other offenses, they broadcast simulated press conferences, featuring Steve Phillips pretending to be a general manager, and real reporters pretending to be fake reporters.
-The St. Paul Winter Carnivals King Vulcan is arrested on charges that he molested three women while surrounded by fellow Vulcans.
-In an act of hypocrisy unmatched in recent American political history, Michelle Malkin publishes a book called Unhinged.
-Newsweek publishes an incorrect story, about American soldiers flushing Korans down a toilet in Guantanamo, that Iranian clerics use to incite riots in their country; the right-wing blogosphere is too busy cackling about the embarrassment to an MSM outfit to care that people actually died.
-Dallas Cowboy-turned-ESPN commentator Michael Irvin is arrested on drug charges in Texas, and he uses the those drugs belonged to some other guy defense, a bit of nostalgia coming after a year of the howd those steroids get in my system? defense.
-A Missouri finance executive makes worldwide headlines when its revealed that he drunkenly spent more than $240,000 at the Manhattan topless club Scores in 2003. American Express sues the man after he refuses to pay the bill.
-A public-school fundraiser in Richmond, Virginia, goes tragically wrong when the rush to purchase $50 laptop computers devolves into a stampede, and later a full-fledged riot.
-President Bush nominates his personal lawyer, Harriet Miers, to the Supreme Court; the outcry from the right and left alike is so pronounced that Miers withdraws less than a month later. Which didnt have nearly the calamitous effect as
-Bushs appointment of Michael Brown, who previously served as head of the International Arabian Horse Association, as director of FEMA, as Browns incompetent performance is indicative of the general failure at all levels of government to anticipate, or handle, Hurricane Katrina.
-Bushs mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, with survivors at the Houston Astrodome, is quoted as saying that so many of the people here were underprivileged anyway, so this is working out well for them.”
-Texas high school football coach Herc Palmquist is disciplined after he hires a team of college-aged ringers to masquerade as his team in a sanctioned game. Palmquist had told his real players that the game was canceled.
-In other football coaching malfeasance, Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice is caught scalping Super Bowl tickets, and despite that and his less-than-stellar coaching skills, hes not fired. Even after
-Vikings running back Onterrio Smith is caught at the Minneapolis airport carrying The Original Whizzinator, a penis-like contraption used for drug-test evasion. Smith is suspended for the season, which youd think would be the most embarrassing off-field moment of the year for the team, if not for
-The Vikings, during their bye week, take a sex cruise on Minnesotas Lake Minnetonka, during which numerous debauchery is reported to take place, leading to the indictments of four players and the virtual end of the teams season. You wouldnt think anything worse could have happened in the NFL in 2005, except for the tiny little matter of
-Terrell Owens, the Philadelphia Eagles controversial receiver, plays in the Super Bowl, asks immediately afterwards for a renegotiation in year two of his 7-year, $49 million contract; hires borderline-subhuman agent Drew Rosenhaus; rips Donovan McNabb and the coaching staff numerous times; is tossed from training camp; wears a Cowboys jersey home from a game against the Cowboys; throws the entire organization under the bus in an ESPN interview, and finally suspended for the year in November. All along, this stupid, repetitive story all but dominates NFL news, in Philly and nationwide.
-And finally, on the first weekend following Hurricane Katrina, MSNBC is surveying the wreckage until, suddenly, Richard Simmons appears on screen, to discuss his missing relatives in the New Orleans area. But despite the gravity of the situation, Simmons has showed up to the interview in his usual tank top/short shorts uniform. Apparently, he doesnt own a suit.

2005 Achievement Awards

Man of the Year: Bill Simmons. With the publication of his first book and ESPN work thats now bigger and better than ever, Simmons is now officially on top of the world.
Blog of the Year: An uproariously hilarious tournament that pitted ESPN personalities against one another, with biting commentary from author Mac Thomason and dozens of commentators.
Chutzpah Award Winner: Terrell Owens. I dont have to tell you why.
Runnerup: John Rocker, for saying in an interview that “I’ve taken a lot of crap from a lot of people probably more than anybody in the history of the sport I know Hank [Aaron] and Jackie [Robinson] took a good deal of crap, but I guarantee it wasn’t for six years. I just keep thinking: ‘How much am I supposed to take?'”
Eckstein Award Winner (for excellence in being a gentile with a Jewish-sounding name): Wake Forest forward Jamal Levy, the only player in college basketball history with a Muslim first name and Jewish last name, who played at a Baptist university in North Carolina.
Levy beat out a late charge from 2003 winner Rex Grossman, and White Sox bench player Geoff Blum, who hit a key homer in the World Series.
Burn Your Siddur Award Winner (for embarrassing statements/actions by Jewish clergy): The Union of Reform Judaism, for passing a resolution urging withdrawal from Iraq.
Weinkauf Award Winner (for arts criticism injecting political analysis in reviewing a work that has nothing whatsoever to do with politics):

“To his credit, Mr. Howard does not wave the flag as vigorously as Mr. Ross, though the new film’s tagline (“When America was on its knees, he brought us to our feet”) prepares you for the worst. In any event, given that Mr. Howard and his writers would be hard-pressed to bend this underdog narrative to our current political nightmare, it’s a good thing they don’t venture down that path.”

Manohla Dargis, in the New York Times, reviewing Cinderella Man- calling American flag-waving the worst, praising Ron Howard for not making the movie about something it has nothing to do with, and referencing our current political nightmare while reviewing a movie about the Great Depression.
Quote of the Year:

Watching football last Sunday with my friends, I brought up the topic, “What touchdown dance would cause the biggest possible fine?”
I think this one would be [the worst]: “The Delivery.” What if Moss scored a TD and immediately fell to the ground on his back, with his legs up in the air like a pregnant woman, and two receivers stood on either side “cheering him on,” and Randy pretended he was pushing, and finally the QB leaned over him and “pulled” the football from Randy’s loins, then held the football to his shoulder like a baby for a few seconds before Moss stood up, gingerly grabbed the “baby,” cut an imaginary umbilical cord, then spiked the ball as hard as he possibly could? I think that would be like a three-game suspension and a $500,000 fine, right? Plus, Buck would be more distraught than Walter Cronkite after JFK’s assassination.

Bill Simmons.
Film Critic Quote of the Year:

“[Dukes of Hazzard] is a film that is not there. It can’t really be reviewed because it doesn’t really exist. It is not empty calories, which implies pleasure, but simply empty. It’s a cosmic void where a movie ought to be… with no plot, character, or dialogue worth experiencing, let alone remembering, the film merely occupies space on the screen and hopes for the best.”

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times.

In interviews, Theron and her director, Niki Caro, have said that the original screenplay (by Michael Seitzman) was a little too black-and-white, and that they tried to introduce “shades of gray.” I can only infer that said shades are moments when some of the menafter hissing the c-word and pushing over a Port-A-Potty with one of Josey’s co-workers (Michelle Monaghan) in it, who emerges screaming and sobbing and covered in liquid shitare shown, for a second or two, with a look of shame. But those looks are fleeting. There is, after all, harassment to be done.
North Country is powerful and then some. I came out shaking, dabbing at my eyes, and vowing never again to write the c-word in shit on the walls of a women’s room.”-

David Edelstein, reviewing North Country in Slate.
TV Critic Quote of the Week:

To suggest someone watch ‘The Andy Milonakis Show’ would also require suggesting the use of mind-altering drugs or alcohol. Having watched a tape of the premiere episode, airing 9:30 p.m. Sunday on MTV, being under the influence is about the only way I can see someone sitting through a full show… is a stretch, but Milonakis might be funnier if seen after an hours-long bender.”

Richard Huff, in the New York Daily News.
Music Critic Quote of the Year:

“Consider the Los Angeles hip-hop quartet the Black Eyed Peas. Their current single, “My Humps,” is one of the most popular hit singles in history. It is also proof that a song can be so bad as to veer toward evil…
It’s a song that tries to evoke a coquettish nudge and wink, but head-butts and bloodies the target instead. It isolates sectors of the female anatomy that obsessive young men have been inventing language for since their skulls fused, and yet it emerges only with “humps” and “lumps”at least “Milkshake” sounded delicious.”

Hua Hsu, in Slate, in a piece that calls “My Humps” a “song so awful it hurts the mind.”
Theological Quote of the Year:

To those who want profound change, consider an outsiders perspective: the Catholic Church is the National Review of religion. You may live long enough to see it become the Weekly Standard. In your dreams it might become the New Republic. But its never going to be the Nation. And if ever it does, it will have roughly the same subscriber base.

James Lileks.
Headline of the Year: “Ass Backwards: The Media’s Silence About Rampant Anal Sex” -Slate.
First runnerup: “Dick to Replace Johnson vs. Gamecocks” (for a story about Arkansas coach Houston Nutt replacing quarterback Robert Johnson with Casey Dick for a game against South Carolina.
Lede of the Year:

OP-ED COLUMNIST W. Won’t Read This
Published: December 14, 2005
Never ask a guy who’s in a bubble if he’s in a bubble. He can’t answer.
To continue reading this article, you must be a subscriber to TimesSelect.

Poster of the Year:
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Catchphrase of the Year: “Is it because I’m a lesbian?”
Tabloid Front Page of the Year:

T-shirt of the Year:

Yes, were still glad to be rid of him.

Thoughts on “King Kong”

Man, what a disappointment. I loved the first and last thirds, the rendering of 1930s New York was absolutely fantastic, and Naomi Watts played the Darrow role to perfection. But that middle section, in Skull Island, just ruined it for me- stretching what should have been 20 minutes of material into over an hour.
If there’s one thing I couldn’t stand about Peter Jackson’s otherwise exemplary “Lord of the Rings” films, it was the director’s annoying habit of stopping the plot dead in its tracks so its hero could fight off some grotesque creature. Then, once the creature is dispatched, there’s another, even more grotesque one waiting, and then another after that. We never learn much about which creature is which, and we mostly just want the scene to be over so we can go on with the movie.
That, in a nutshell, is the entire second act of “King Kong.” Why must there be dinosaurs? And all those other creatures? Why must they all just fight amongst themselves for 45 minutes, while all the rest of us are waiting for the third act to start?
‘Kong’ won’t be making my Top Ten list, which will be posted tomorrow. I’ve now seen every relevant ’05 film that I’m going to see in the theater, though everything left will be making its way through my Netflix in the next three or four months.

Why I Love Sullivan

He, like few others, sees that left-wing lunatics and right-wing lunatics are really not so different from one another. See the 2005 Moore Awards, and the accompanying Malkin Awards. I’ll have my own awards and other year-end stuff later in the week. It’s hard whittling down the Shameful Events list to just 40- I feel like I could fill it just with references to Hurricane Katrina, Terrell Owens, the Vikings, and the Black-Eyed Peas.

Two More Thoughts on the Jeff Reardon Arrest

I feel sorry for Rick Aguilera. Everyone’s gonna confuse him with the other bearded closer who won a World Series for the Twins, and will think he’s the one who robbed a jewelry store. It’s almost as bad as the four-year period, starting in 1999, when every other person who Rick met asked him if he was Christina Aguilera’s father.
And as a commenter pointed out, Reardon’s resemblance to George Lucas in his mugshot is uncanny. Lucas’ stature in the culture may have fallen, but no where near as much as his lookalike.

Stephen A. What?

A real head-scratcher in Scoop Jackson’s year-in-review column, on “things that mattered” in ’05:

When “Quite Frankly” aired on Aug. 1, 2005, it broke down a barrier that had been up for over a decade. And the following sentence is no disrespect to Bryant Gumbel, Michael Wilbon, John Saunders, Montell Williams, Orlando Jones or DL Hugley, but … not since they pulled Arsenio Hall off the air in 1994 has a black man had his own talk show — or been slated to host one with his name in the title. The fact that Stephen A. was given the format to do him — to be himself, unscripted, unapologetic, unleashed — was historical in the landscape of broadcast television.

Say what? Didn’t Gumbel, Wilbon, Saunders, Williams, Jones and Hughley all have their own shows? In Gumbel, Jones, and Hughley’s case, with their names in the title? Do those not count as real talk shows? Do the hosts not count as black? Did they not break barriers themselves?
And more importantly, doesn’t the fact that, despite the most hyped launch in the network’s history, “Quite Frankly” got lower ratings than billiards used to get in the same timeslot, sort of indicate that “Quite Frankly” doesn’t matter so much after all? Especially since its clear no one wants to watch a screaming buffoon doing a bad, hip-hop-inflected Howard Cosell impression? I thought so.
Another reason not to read Scoop: he actually likes those creepy commercials with four different LeBron Jameses.