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Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

I’m thinking of a film called “The World’s Greatest Lover” right now. A 1977 film. Written and directed by Gene Wilder. It never got a lot of love from critics, and while I understand why, it’s always been comfort food for me as a Wilder fan. Because in some ways I always saw him as a silent film star out of his time–stuck in the 1970s, when method acting and documentary realism ruled. Really, how out of place would Wilder be if you dropped him into “Metropolis” or “The General” or “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”? He was a walking special effect. His own form of commedia dell’arte. He wrote things like the fake cane scene from “Willy Wonky” himself and made simple shtick rise above silliness. Pair him with perfect expressionist film heroine Carol Kane as his wife, both dreaming bigger things while trying to stay happy together, and you still have something very poignant. Beyond that …. “Blazing Saddles,” “The Producers,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Willy Wonka” I’m with the rest of you, and am reminded how important this man was to my childhood. RIP.

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–*Ten childhood actors who now have goiters.

–*Ten stars with the most intractable liver diseases.

–*Celebs who are not afraid to munch carpet right in your face.

–*Who are the 10 biggest Noam Chomskys?

–*Bet you didn’t know these people were anti-Semites.

–*You’ll never guess what happened to this puppy that climbed into a coffer of unexploded Qassam rockets.

–*This part-time gym teacher destroys theory of evolution.

–*This woman nailed it with her letter to the compliance department about proper processes and work flow alerts.

–*Ten metacarpals most easily smashed with a claw hammer.

–*Ten richest celebs who weren’t rich enough to tip me 20%.

–*How many languages can Bibi Netanyahu say “Go fuck yourself” in?

–*The 100 hottest pictures of people who are purportedly Selena Gomez.

–*You’ll never guess what countries you can buy a child in right now.

–*Ten celebrities surprisingly small enough to put in a trunk.

–*These shocking facts will shock you shocking shock.

–*Carrie Fisher insulted nerf herders. This nerf herder destroys her.

–*Five things you’re doing wrong right now.

–*This woman put a tomato in the refrigerator. The tomato destroys her.

–*Make your credit card do what your pancreas no longer can.

–*Ten celebrity hairstyles we hope to see on a YouTube puppy in the next 10 minutes.

–*Ten shocking GPS coordinates of women breastfeeding their babies in public right now.

–*These people took sides in the Israel-Palestinian debate. Watch what happens to their cars.

–*This person made a movie when she was 5. We destroy her.

–*You’ll never believe whose endoscopy footage this is.

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In the 1990s, I once attended a poetry reading by Derek Walcott and Seamus Heaney in lower Manhattan. Both of them had already won their Nobel prizes in literature, and both had made indelible impressions on my young mind about the beauty of language, the possibilities of extended poetic works still being written in modern language, the hope for poetry in general.

Cost to see them both back to back: $5, a bit more than a Happy Meal. Can of waterproofing Scotchgard that year: about $8. The irony: priceless.

How could it be, I wondered, that two of the greatest living gifts to the English language cost less than the Verrazano Narrows bridge fare? (To Staten Island!) Something seemed horribly amiss. Sure, Walcott is a turgid, affectless speaker who does no justice to his own jaunty iambs when he speaks them out loud in his heavy basso profundo voice. But Heaney more than compensates. To hear him speak, “A rowan like a lipsticked girl” in his playful brogue with all his funny asides is a real hoot. Well worth $10 at least.

So when my wife mentioned last night to friends at dinner that the Jersey Shore‘s own Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi was speaking at Rutgers, I knew immediately that she would fetch more than any mere Nobel or Pulitzer prize winner. In fact, I could have written this OMG! story myself if I had just made a few phone calls. Supposedly Snooki, who likely doesn’t know who fought on whose side in World War I, is getting $32,000 to speak to kids who just finished their engineering and pharmaceutical science midterms. And as we know from efficient market theory, she is worth every penny, right?

Right?

Is it wrong to pay Snooki so much to speak to college students at a renowned university? Rutgers’ motto is, “Sun of righteousness, shine upon the West also.” Is it wrong to say, “Sun of righteousness, shine upon Snooki, also”? How about “Sun of righteousness, give the drummer some!”

As you know if you’re a regular Jersey Shore viewer, the morning sun shining on Snooki usually reveals only a full ashtray and a semen-stained cocktail dress. So what, exactly, will be illuminated on the Rutgers campus? Would Snooki, like Toni Morrison, both defend and attack the classical reading canon? Or would she just try to come up with variants on “Hold onto your dreams girls!” for an hour and a half? Would she recall that time JWoww peed behind the bar and use it as an allegorical statement on feminism and commodification? Would she remind people to stay in college and offer herself as a bad example? Would she remind us that Angelina is a back-stabbing whore and Rutgers students who even think of acting like Angelina better watch their step in her home town?

Would she talk to mostly business students about how to sell your brand and how powerful that brand can be if there’s a smell attached?

Really, what could Snooki tell Rutgers students that they don’t already know about drunk townies? Wasn’t it people like Snooki in high school who hastened a lot of us into college in the first place? Really, Rutgers, hasn’t she already done her job?

And that’s when it struck me:  It’s not the content of Snooki’s words that matter but Snooki herself. She has become a semion now. A walking representation of the post-industrial dream. With her proud provincialism, she leapfrogged over the moneyed swells and reminded them that all the money they are spending on college would have been better flushed down the toilet on one of the turnpike bathrooms as they made their way to the Shore, bitch.

You think I’m kidding, but consider that college tuition has been rising faster than everything–even stock appreciation–while salaries for most of us stall. The American dream of upward mobility still has a lot of power, but the perception of it and the reality of it are more at odds every year. When the people in the top 2% of income make 450 times more than those in the bottom 50%, when home ownership has become an unreachable aspiration in the new paradigm, and when retirement will likely be withheld longer as savings rates decline, you know for sure that the American dream seems ever more like a hustle, that it’s not guaranteed your children will be better off than you are, and that it’s time to look at moving to China or Brazil. (Look at the overseas currencies and you might get a sense of where your middle class is going.)

The idea that a good college education these days is going to deliver you the life that even your grandparents got is starting to seem pretty silly. Even law students are starting to think that the allure of their profession with its promise of high income is a scam. And of course, ask doctors how much they are making these days and if it’s what they expected.

It’s likely that the cast of Jersey Shore is smarter than we give them credit for. Supposedly, they are monetizing their celebrity with rich endorsement deals and making hay while the sun shines. But that is part of the sick, horrible lesson here: How many of us can reap wheat from personality? Is personality really going to be the next great American export, like cars, oil and IPods? How much of it do we have? When will it run out? How soon must I turn my son into a personality after he arrives if I am to start creating a nest egg? It seems like getting him to react to a sneeze on a YouTube video is the only way to fund his future. (Thirteen million views? Not too shabby!)

Snooki is coming to Rutgers, I surmise, to remind people of this very thing. “Study hard,” says Snooki, “But party harder.” May I suggest ending with “Pull my finger”?

She couldn’t be any worse than Derek Walcott.

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Incarcerated swindler Bernie Madoff proved once again he just can’t shut up on Monday as he railed from prison that Oscar host James Franco offered a lackluster and uninspired performance Sunday night at the Academy Awards, and that Anne Hathaway was trying too hard.

“I know I’m no saint,” said the fraudster, now serving a 150-year prison sentence for bilking investors out of tens of billions of dollars. “But I really thought James Franco should have brought it. He thinks he’s all James Dean–that he’s above it all somehow. That doesn’t give the audience confidence. It just makes them hate you. He’s been doing that shtick since ‘Freaks and Geeks.’ and we’re not buying it anymore.”

Madoff also called the SEC a joke, said the entire U.S. government was a Ponzi scheme, and insisted that Anne Hathaway used too many costume changes to make up for her lack of charisma.

“She’s no comedienne,” said Madoff, whose hedge fund was a giant black box promising 10% returns with no underlying securities in it. “I don’t see why they can’t get Billy Crystal back to do the whole thing, not just some lame bit. He knows what comedy is. It means being willing to try anything for a laugh, being willing to fall on your face or use wit barbed with irony. Comedy doesn’t mean glamming it up for a lot of dead-behind-the-eyes teenagers and hoping your C-cups pass for personality.”

Madoff, who has ruined hundreds of families, wiped out billions in wealth and shamed his family, then turned his sights on Melissa Leo, who in an unguarded moment used the “F” word during her Oscar acceptance speech for “The Fighter.”

“This was your moment to shine, and instead you came off like a trailer-park mama with a jug head, bow legs and Vitamin D deficiency. You ought to give that gold statuette back to the artisan gold miner in Nicaragua who dug it out for you.”

Madoff also attacked the rules begun last year that allow 10 nominees into the best picture category.

“If you know the first thing about stock dilution, you know that it cheapens everybody’s share,” said Madoff. “Not that my fund was invested in any stocks, of course. I take full responsibility for my actions, unlike the Academy.”

The ceremony was watched by millions of viewers, including, allegedly, prisoner number 61727-054. It could not be ascertained by press time, however, if Madoff, who looked into the faces and televisions cameras and the eyes of regulators for years and convinced them he had a real business behind the Imperial granite and steel facade of the Lipstick Building, had actually watched the Oscars.

Madoff says he understands that Franco is a polymath currently getting advanced degrees while pursuing his acting career.

“That doesn’t impress me. It seems like he’s hyperactive and taking on more than he can chew. Why not do just one thing well, like acting, rather than jerking me off with your horrible Ryan Seacrest imitation and then pretending like you don’t care.”

Madoff also argued that the Twittering about the Oscars from the backstage and Colin Firth’s early anointment as winner further cheapened the awards.

“The magic is just not there,” said Madoff, who will spend the rest of his life eating jail food. “I don’t know if I’ll watch again next year. But I always like talking to reporters. It’s really lonely in here.”

Oscar Image: Francesco Marino / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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The most recent issue of Playboy magazine features a pictorial with actress and notorious party girl Tara Reid naked. Why might men want to skip this most recent issue?

–*They’ve already seen Tara Reid naked in the film Body Shots.

–*They’ve already seen the pictures of Tara Reid naked on the red carpet at a notorious P. Diddy party a few years ago.

–*They’ve not only seen the pictures of her at P. Diddy’s party, but have noticed that she’s undergone several flawed plastic surgeries that make her less appealing and a little alienating.

–*They’ve seen the pictures, noticed the plastic surgery and realized that her neurotic need to be perfect–when she was already pretty enough–also makes her less appealing.

–*They’ve seen the pictures, noticed the plastic surgery, and realized that the Tara Reid they are looking at now is largely a reconstructed Terminator version of the actress and that really they are masturbating to pictures of a robot.

–*They’ve seen the pictures, noticed the surgery, realized that they’re masturbating to a robot, but also likely realized that Playboy so excessively retouches and airbrushes its women that pretty much every woman they’re masturbating to in the magazine is a robot.

–*They’ve seen the pictures, noticed they’re masturbating to airbrushed robots and realized that they are masturbating to an over-culturalized ideal of beauty in the first place and that their responses to Tara Reid are mostly conditioned by tastemakers and scum bags.

–*They’ve already seen Tara naked, noticed they’re masturbating to the Terminator and realized that the whole idea of femininity is over-culturalized.

–*They’ve seen her naked, realized they’re masturbating to R2-D2, and figured out that both men and women share masculine and feminine traits and that the cartoonish version of female sexuality that the silicone version of Tara Reid represents is degrading to both men and women alike and fails to address the fullness of a person’s sexuality and humanity.

–*They’ve seen her naked before, they’ve realized they’re jerking off to Robby the Robot, and they realize that all sexual attraction is an illusion based on a need to propagate DNA and that mostly the female object of the male gaze is an elusive and non-existent semion that represents only the male’s ideal version of himself–an unachievable goal that leads him only to frustration and a lack of enlightenment.

–*Seven bucks? Jesus, the porn on the Internet is free!

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Sophie’s interpretation of “Twilight.” “He’s biting her,” reads the inscription.

I have recently been bombarded by advertising for the film The Twilight Saga: New Moon, the sequel to the 2008 blockbuster about teen vampires, Twilight. Because I’d never seen the original, I asked my 7-year-old niece Sophie to write her own movie review explaining to me why I should watch it. Here it is–the last word on the 2008 classic. (Warning: Spoilers ahead!)

Twilight is Scary
by Sophie Miller

Twilight is about a girl that falls in love with a vampire. She moves to a different state. I don’t know where she was before. It was kind of like a desert.

She moves to a really cool place. It has really tall trees there. She climbs the trees with her vampire. She’s on his back.

He was by her truck. A van came and almost squished her. But he squished the van out of the way. She knew he was a vampire because he did that.

They were eating lunch and she asked her friend, “What’s up with that guy?” He was just talking to his friends.

It was night. She was dreaming. She woke up. And she saw him there really quick. She saw him near her desk.

Towards the end, a bad vampire came and bit her. The good vampire sucked all the venom but he went too long and sucked her blood. She almost died. She went to the hospital and the bite was covered up with a bandage. She broke her leg. And everyone thought she fell down a staircase and went through a window.

She went to the prom with the vampire that almost killed her. I don’t know why she did that.

That’s it. That’s the end. She wanted to die and turn into a vampire. I don’t know why she wanted to turn into a vampire. She’s stupid. But she didn’t. She wanted her own boyfriend to do that. And then one of the bad vampires ran away.

Eric: So why is this a good movie, Sophie?

Because all the girls like it. It’s scary. The good vampire wins. That’s it. It’s a good movie.

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Topeka, Kansas (API) Karaoke night was almost ruined Friday as two revelers in the local karaoke bar The Rubber Hose chose a song from Broadway musical “Avenue Q” for the night’s 11th number, a choice that sent many of the bar’s patron’s into befuddlement, grousing and ultimately acts of violence.

The two singers, Liz Miller and Melissa Snow, chose the song from the hit Broadway parody of Sesame Street because they had seen it on a recent trip to New York, but the number nearly brought the festivities to a screeching halt when several of the flummoxed patrons stood dead silent.

“I don’t know what those girls were singing,” said Ross McAdams, a middle manager at a nearby natural gas refining plant. “I was just coming off feeling real good about my “Hotel California” vocal and then these two girls come up with this shit.”

What made it worse, said local tax attorney Florence Halberstadt, is that the two girls picked a song called “Schadenfreude,” a word many of the patrons were unfamiliar with.

“I just don’t get what those two girls are singing,” said Halberstadt. “I came here to have fun. If I knew this was going to turn into some German song night I would have stayed home.”

“I don’t get it,” said Ed Chalmers, a plumber. “Are those two making fun of us?”

The crowd became increasingly pouty and dejected as the lyrics scrolled across the screen. Even though the song offers much helpful explication of the word “Schaudenfreude,” mainly through humorous contexts, the wit was largely lost on the crowd, many of whom turned angry and sour.

“It’s my birthday,” said Holly Knoxall, a local gym teacher. “It’s totally ruined now, all because a couple of no-goodniks think they’re better than we are.”

A winner of several Tony Awards, Avenue Q uses parodies of several Sesame Street characters to address mature themes like adult sexuality, racism and intolerance, mostly by having its characters espouse extreme viewpoints at odds with those of the artist’s true feelings.

“Specifically it’s called ‘irony,’” Liz Miller said to the crowd. “Get a clue, jerk-offs!”

But yet again, tackling of subject matter by having a character embrace the very viewpoint being satirized was something poorly understood by the crowd, many of whom were drinking Rolling Rock and smoking Camels and singing mostly songs by the Beach Boys, the Eagles and U2 and many of whom showed they were in absolutely no mood to be made to feel inferior.

“These two little ho bags are pissing me off,” said Harold Osprey, who ended the night yelling at his girlfriend and telling her, “Get in the car, bitch. If I stay, somebody’s going to get hurt.”

Having almost ended one of the song’s signature lines, “Fuck you lady, that’s what stairs are for,” Miller and Snow hoped the song might finally inspire a few belly laughs, but by that point, several of the patrons had started pushing each other at the bar and were no longer in any mood to laugh. Instead, it seemed blood sport would be the night’s game, and as the lone karaoke machine played “Schadenfreude, making the world a better place …” the atmosphere in the bar finally descended into shouts, flying beer bottles and fire.

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