Monthly Archives: May 2007

Film Critic Quote of the Week

Philadelphia Weekly’s Sean Burns, on one of the summer’s most contentious movie debates:

“The Internet is also on fire regarding that other Independence Day blockbuster, Michael Bays Transformers. This makes me sad for so many reasons. First of all, its heartbreaking to witness so many young men of legal voting age spending so much time and effort trying to figure out if Bays addition of painted flames on Optimus Prime represents some sort of betrayal of the sacred source material. Furthermore, this is Michael Bay were talking about, a filmmaker so egregiously and consistently awful and evil, hes like Ed Wood reborn as a drunken, date-raping, frat-boy bully. Finally, I never figured out this whole Transformers thing to begin with: So theres a robot truck fighting a robot handgun, but the pistol is bigger than the 18-wheeler?”

Yes, yes, yes, and yes. The movie sounds like a lot less than meets the eye. But if it’s a hit, could a $200 million big-screen treatment of “Go-Bots” be far behind?
For movies this weekend: See “Knocked Up.” Please. It’s brilliant. Not quite so brilliant? “Mr. Brooks,” which I caught last night, which is an incredibly goofy mess of a movie that’s a little weird to work as a thriller, but a little too serious to work as camp. About five extra subplots, and the long-awaited dramatic debut of Dane Cook, don’t help much either, and neither does a horrible, totally insulting ending. Mitigating factors include a dream cast (Kevin Costner! William Hurt! Demi Moore!) if the movie had been made in 1988, and the return of Reiko Aylesworth (Michelle from “24”!), who’s in two brief scenes.

A Sopranos Theory

Here’s a stab: You know the capuccino machine that Paulie gave Tony? It’s bugged/equipped with a camera, meaning Paulie is a rat. My reasons for thinking this:
1. It’s been mentioned multiple times in multiple episodes, making me think maybe it’ll be important at the end.
2. The FBI already tried to bug Tony’s house, but then Meadow moved the lamp. And as John Street could tell you, the feds love to bug their targets.
3. The episode when he and Tony drove to Florida, Paulie talked like he was wearing a wire, asking specific questions about that body they found in the house.
I’m not saying for certain, but it’s just an idea. When this show ends in two weeks, I’ll be prostate with grief.

He Can Find That in the Back of the Village Voice

I didn’t think the season could get any better for Yankee-haters, what with the sub-.500 record, the injuries, the Torre-must-go ideas, and the double-digit deficit to the Red Sox. But, then this happened:

A petite stripper at the Hustler Club said A-Rod “likes the she-male, muscular type. They brought me up to the champagne room one time. I spun around once and that was it. I’m not his type.”
She said A-Rod often brought his wife to the club “and she’s very pretty. I’d rather dance for her any day.”
A-Rod also regularly hangs out at other strip clubs in New York, such as HeadQuarters and Rick’s Cabaret

It was bad enough when the Post showed a front-page photo of A-Rod entering a hotel with a buxom blond who is not his wife. But now a stripper, bitter than Mr. 252 million didn’t think she was cute, is spreading all sorts of vicious stuff. And you thought A-Rod was uncomfortable in New York before…

While We Were Away

To say I didn’t have much exposure to the news during our Paris trip is an understatement. We had only sporadic internet access, only the International Herald Tribune and Guardian for newspapers, and but three English cable channels- CNN International, Sky News, and BBC World. The latter two, unfortunately, seemed concerned exclusively with that missing girl in Portugal, showing that the other side of the Atlantic is just as concerned with superficial missing-white-girl stories as we are here.
Anyway, some scattered thoughts on a few things that have happened in the last ten days or so.
– I see Paul Wolfowitz won the resignation sweepstakes. Ehud Olmert, Alberto Gonzales, and Charlie Manuel all kept their jobs, somehow, in the meantime.
– So no more Rosie O’Donnell on “The View,” huh? Good thing she’s still on Fox News more than the president.
– No, I was not on the TB guy’s flight from France. He came back at least a week before I did. But thanks so much for the concern, everyone.
– Matthew Yglesias’ takedown of Bob Shrum’s new book– great stuff. Why in the world would anyone read a book by Shrum with any title other than “How to Lose an Election”?
– “The Sopranos”- harrowing episode. Although I thought I’d have two to watch when I got back. Like I said- it’s all gloom and doom, and I love it. And “Entourage” was priceless too- much like the Ari-between-two-shuls bit, I’m surprised it took them this long to give us “Yair Marx,” the billionaire investor who may work for the Mossad, Hezbollah, or both.
– I’m sure this benefit, for a Cincinnati-area AIDS charity, is going to be a wonderful event, and it’s for a great cause. But why in the world would they give it this name?
– David Brooks’ column on the rise of the “quasi-religious” was the smartest thing I’ve seen written about religion in quite some time, as the term really does apply to myself and most of the people I know. We’re a force, I tell you!
– I’m less concerned about Lindsay Lohan’s alcoholism, drug addiction, car accidents, or loss of her acting talent than I am with the fact that she’s slowly, over the last four years, turned orange. She must go to the same tanning salon as Hulk Hogan.
– I’m very sad that Bat-girl, one of the very best, is giving up her Twins blog. It says a lot, though, that many of the players were fans of it.
– The NBA lottery was won by… Portland and Seattle? Huh? The league must LOVE that, almost as much as Bill Simmons. Though I praise Bill not only for avoiding suicide, but for knocking Glen Taylor and Kevin McHale as “the NBA’s version of Bush/Rumsfield.” That’s ridiculous. At least Bush and Rumsfeld won one war. The Wolves continued their unblemished record of never, a single time, moving up in the lottery.
– Why wasn’t I invited to this party?
– Jeff Buckley died ten years ago today. Absolutely shocking. If you don’t own the “Grace” album, get on iTunes and buy it right now. Seriously.
– And finally, my favorite story of the entire week. It involved a riot in a gay pride parade in Moscow, with a surprise guest:

Religious orthodox protesters and skinheads hurled eggs and stones – injuring Mr Tatchell in the eye. They also attacked Richard Fairbrass, the gay singer from the pop group Right Said Fred.

The items of note from that, in order from how little they surprise me to how much they do:

1. The frontman of Right Said Fred (of “I’m Too Sexy” fame) is gay.
2. He’s hanging out in Moscow.
3. Much like “Hootie,” “Milli,” and “Vanilli,” “Right Said Fred” is an actual group, and not a solo artist whose first name is “Fred.”
4. The singer from Right Said Fred is enough of a figure of consequence in the gay community that he’s a main attraction at a gay pride parade in a major world capital. I guess Elton John, Rufus Wainwright, Scissor Sisters, and Clay Aiken all said no.

This Week on E-Gear

A few stories I’ve written in my first two days back at work:
– After the DirecTV thing blew up in their face, baseball is now going after… the Slingbox?
– The Microsoft Surface- pretty damn cool. It’s a computer that looks like a coffee table. And if you don’t have a coffee table- it becomes a coffee table!
– LG may battle the upcoming iPhone with a new product called the Prada- there’s a “devil wears” joke in there somewhere.
– A baby died as a result of an explosion that may have an involved a faulty Xbox chord, so his family is suing Microsoft and Wal*Mart. But… the suit alleges that the Xbox 360 was to blame, which may be difficult since the product wasn’t even introduced until nearly a year after the child’s death. I’d imagine the lawyers for Microsoft and Wal*Mart might mention that at trial.
– AOL used to be at the forefront of everything with the internet. Now, they’re just introducing knockoffs of YouTube and Myspace.
– And, on Dealerscope, the Circuit City whistle blower finally revealed himself. Would he have done it all again if he’d known he’d have to sit next to Hannity?

The Wedding

Rebecca and my wedding was an amazing time for all, going off without a hitch, and we were so glad everything came together. And best of all, I get a new wife out of it!
It was also wonderful to see so many readers of the blog, including several people I’ve either met because they’re readers, or from reading their blogs. Since yesterday, we’ve gotten full reels of pictures from about ten different people, and that’s before the official photography.
We’re back now (see below for honeymoon stories); I’ll be getting caught up on all my reading and doing news-based blogging starting tomorrow.

Reflections on the Honeymoon in France

Yes, we’re back from France, and Rebecca and I had a wonderful time. We wanted to go somewhere romantic, of course, and somewhere neither of us had been, so Paris seemed ideal (other than a quick stop in Amsterdam when I was 16, I’d never been to Europe at all.) So France it was.
The funny thing about a honeymoon: You’re not really thinking about it in advance, because you’re thinking about the wedding until like the day before. We had lots of ideas of stuff to do, despite not a whole lot of advance planning other than flights and hotel.
To answer the first two questions: Yes, we did have a bidet in our hotel room, and yes, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese really is called a “Royale with Cheese” (actually, “Royal,” perhaps renamed in honor of Segolene.) But no, we didn’t partake of either. That’s the funny thing about Europe, the little differences.
And no, we didn’t get any trouble at all for being either American or Jewish, which was my biggest concern about the trip. However, everyone seemed to know we were American the second they saw us -None of that “pretending to be Canadian” bullshit for us- and the last names “Silver” and “Goldenberg” didn’t exactly hide our Semitism either. But nope, no trouble; not a single Frenchman accosted us on the Champs Elysees and blamed us personally for Bush’s election or the war in Iraq. . My old pal John Pagano used to call the French “baguette-swinging Jew-haters,” but I saw not much of either.
A few other observations, with photos hopefully to follow by the end of the week:
– I mostly loved the food, especially the croissants, the crepes, and those French hot dog things with the cheese. But a couple of restaurant pet peeves- no water, unless you order it? And even then, no ice? After an 80-degree day, I really needed that. As for the opposite extreme: the coffee just sucks. You get one little cup, it’s weak, and the milk is warm. Real bad- and such small portions.
– We took a day trip to Normandy, and it was just amazing- more on that in the next North Star column. In Paris proper, all the viewers along the river were beautiful, as well as of the Eiffel Tower from across the river.
– Every time I heard that “European” siren sound, I got the Clash’s “White Riot” in my head. This happened about five times a day throughout the trip.
– Was my enjoyment of Versailles improved upon or lessened by the Sofia Coppola “Marie Antoinette” movie? I still can’t decide. But I can say the Hall of Mirrors is really not all that impressive. Other movies I need to see again soon as a result of the trip: “Last Tango in Paris,” “Before Sunset,” “Amelie,” the whole damn French New Wave canon, the “Sopranos” episode where Carmela goes to France, and (of course) “Saving Private Ryan.”
– Drivers in Paris are delightfully, hilariously insane. Those pulling into parking spaces will think nothing of ramming into both the car behind them and the one in front of them. And going in reverse, quickly, for an entire block on a one-way street? No problem! Probably the funniest thing I saw on the whole trip.
– With nothing left to do on the last day, we headed out to EuroDisney. Yea, yea, I know what a joke the place is. But neither of us had been to a Disney park in about 15 years, so it was fun. The unquestioned highlight? A multimedia live show called Animagique, featuring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck drawing cartoons on eisels, until Donald jumps into the film vault and spends the rest of the show jumping between the universes of different Disney movies. If you’ve ever wondered what an acid trip would look like from Donald Duck’s point of view, I highly recommend it.