Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Pluto has lost its status as a planet and somehow, in all the media hoopla, nobody has talked about what the news means for this guy:

Perhaps he'll be demoted to "dwarf dog," although in my opinion he's actually quite large for a domesticated animal.

Monday, August 21, 2006

What's wrong with The New York Times

So I'm reading an article in the NYT on belt-tightening in Hollywood. Big budget movies are getting postponed, contracts with big-name stars are being downwardly renegotiated, etc. Then comes this gem of a paragraph:
"But while Hollywood has undergone periodic shifts like this before, many people here agree that there is something different this time, a permanence to Hollywood’s new austerity plan. Executives are facing too many unknowns, among them, changing moviegoer habits, rising costs and the threat of piracy."
Look closely, and you'll see that every single NYT story ever written has a paragraph similar to this one. It starts with a caveat that undermines the freshness of the trend being discussed: "Hollywood has undergone periodic shifts like this before." Then it uses nebulous evidence to show that, lo and behold, this time it's different, somehow more permanent and real. The evidence: "many people agree."

Many people agree. Not even most -- just many. Who are the shadowy many? Could be the glass-eaters at Venice for all we know. Or maybe one of Angelina's adopted Cambodian faux-hawk-wearers.

I understand the need to make things fresh and newsy, but do we really have enough new trends to satiate the ever-growing appetite of the NYT?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I'm convinced that Snakes on a Plane is the apotheosis of self-awareness in moviemaking. Once upon a time we had cheese fests like Con Air, Speed, and pretty much anything produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. You know the movie: contrived, ridiculous plots, gratuitous explosions, etc., etc. The thing is, they took themselves pretty seriously. They were out to make some dinero, and they had to at least pretend to be realistic to pull in the cash.

Now, in our hyper-ironic, self-aware times, we get movies that are aware of their own cheesiness. They embrace it. It's a selling point. Sam Jackson:

"I read [a Variety] article and it said Ronny Yu was doin' this movie at New Line, SNAKES ON A PLANE. So, Ronny and I had done a film before and we were in touch, so I emailed him. 'What is this, man?' He's like, 'Oh, it's a horror picture about poisonous snakes on a plane.' I said, 'Can I be in it?' He was like, 'For real?' I'm like, 'Ya! For real. Seriously!'"

Which proves that a) Sam Jackson is a badass and b) Snakes on a Plane is founded on the assumption of its own ridiculousness.

The interviewer also asked him whether they added a lot of gore when they did re-shoots to make the film R-rated:

SAMUEL L. JACKSON: Yeah. Yeah. It's all about that, you know. You go back and you put in the snake hits you wanted to put in because you have the ability to show a snake gnawin' on somebody's arm, not just jumpin' off screen and jumpin' back, cutting to somebody (holds his arm) going "Ow-ow-ow!" You see that snake hangin' on that person's arm and that person' tryin' to shake it off! Or somebody gettin' bit in the face, you know, by a snake. Nasty stuff!

QUINT: Great. Because if I was in the audience for SNAKES ON A PLANE and just saw a parade of reaction shots I'd be pissed.

SAMUEL L. JACKSON: No! Hell, no! You want the snake hit! You want to see it. You have two people goin' to screw in a bathroom on a plane and you know that there are some snakes on there... you know that when that tit comes out, you want to see a snake on that tit! At some point you gonna go, "Man, I know a snake's going to show up somewhere... and hopefully that snake's going to be on that tit!"

Read the whole thing at AICN.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The New York Times has thrown its weight behind the state dirt movement. New Jersey wants the sandy loam, a name which conjures images of seaside idylls or grazing cattle. I think California would stand to benefit from claiming the polished, grooved slickenside soil.

The movement has its critics, but the Times editorialists, cogent as ever, rebuff them:

"There are two excellent reasons to encourage this sort of thing. One is that although legislatures do indeed have many more important things to do, experience shows they’re probably not going to do them."

In other news, I am officially a movie star.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A statement on the quality of Newsweek office equipment:

"We had better printers in Baghdad."

So said one recently returned foreign correspondent to an editor. Apparently they had wireless internet, too. Back here in New York, my mouse gets stuck rolling across my fine composite wood desk.

But I'm not complaining.

In other news, a couple living next to me took a very unsexy shower together. Snippets of their conversation:

Man: "Like, if you got pregnant, you'd get an abortion, right?"
Woman: "I mostly write for technical and financial journals."
Man: "That was a cute outfit. You looked like Johnny Depp."

The whole exchange tempered my enthusiasm for maritime intercourse.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I pitched an article today about UN diplomats that don't pay their parking tickets. Stanford students will be pleased to know that they have this in common with the world's bureaucratic elite.

(Disclosure: Santa Clara County still owns $35 worth of my net assets in the form of unpaid parking tickets. That's approximately 1/6 of my total net worth. They won't get it unless they hunt me down in an electrically powered golf cart.)

You might notice that other media outlets have already published this story. Well, that's the way journalism works: harried, overworked AP reporters and niche outlets do all the legwork, then big publications steal the idea and get the credit. It pays* to be at the top.

*not well