Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays!

Most Unintentionally Terrifying Web Image of the Year


From the good folks at Sprint, who apparently believe that just because you're Evil doesn't mean you can't make a good living as a male model.

Although something about this man's expression tells me that he will be able to "stay connected" and call me even in my dreams... or after my death...

Coming Detraction

Of all the blocks of wood E! has had hosting Coming Attractions, I think Michele Merkin may be the block-of-woodiest. If you don't believe me, just watch her introduction this week, for example, of the Ice Age 2 trailer and try to keep your Christmas dinner down.

Oh, well... At least she's not Todd Newton. [shudder]

(By the way, like worried parents leaving a lamp in the window, or the grieving family of a fallen soldier, E! persists in leaving Newton's picture on the Coming Attractions page on their website, no matter how much of an eternity it's been since he left. It's touching, really.)

I've said it before, I'll say it again: Trailers are, by definition and design, self-contained. They do not need a host. They do not need an introduction. If anything, having someone say, "Our next film stars Bill Murray" takes away from the very specific way the filmmakers have chosen to introduce Bill Murray in the trailer.

HDNet, on the other hand, has the right idea with Nothing But Trailers. It's just that: trailers and nothing more. Perfect.

AND they manage to do it without commercials, without sizzling, exploding spinning logos all over the screen, and
without E!'s bullshit "news crawl". By the way, E!, a special you want us to watch this weekend really doesn't qualify as "news" and it most certainly isn't crawl-worthy.

Reminder: WGA Discount at the Apple Store at The Grove

And I say "reminder" because I always forget. But just show your WGA card at checkout and get between 3% and 10% off almost everything in the store. This is a very cool perk, and kudos to Apple and the WGA for arranging it.

For details, go to www.wga.org. Here's where it gets tricky, thanks to the recent site redesign, because you need great eyes and a surgeon's skills on a touchpad: hover over "if you're a member" then float down to "special offers."

When Advertisers Hate Their Consumers and Don't Mind Showing It


A while back, I posted a rant encouraging you to watch commercials with an eye toward how the advertiser views you. I wanted to revisit the subject briefly for a couple of reasons.

First, because T-Mobile's commercials are really getting to me.

How many years has it been since the customer in these commercials wasn't an idiot, a psycho, a manic, or in one memorable example, a crossdressing teenage boy with smeared lipstick, hiding his secret shame from his parents? (HILARIOUS!)

Seriously, the next time you see a T-Mobile commercial, look at how you are portrayed, vs. how T-Mobile employees are portrayed: either as the lovely Catherine Zeta-Jones or as technicians bored by having to listen to you.

What does that tell you about the corporate culture, and the way you can expect to be treated if you sign on as a customer?

By the way, the T-Mobile exception that proves the rule is those commercials they used to do for the Sidekick, starring Snoop, Paris Hilton, Burt Reynolds, etc. They were really funny, and made the user the star... but I suppose that's because the users were stars. The rest of us, at least according to T-Mobile, are just a bunch of assholes.

The other reason I wanted to bring it up is because, totally independently, an Adrants reader wrote in on the same topic; they ran it under the headline "Brands Must Stop Making Customers Look Dumb." Coincidentally, it was also cell phone ads that set this reader off.

Cheney's iPod: There Is So Much That is Troubling About This Story

From the AP, via Boing Boing:

"[Cheney] is an iPod fan, and keeping it charged is a priority for his staff. Normally that isn't an issue, even when he's flying around the world. Air Force II is equipped with outlets in each row of seats. But when Dick Cheney was traveling home overnight Wednesday from his diplomatic mission, most of the outlets went on the fritz.

"Working passengers began lining up their laptops to share the power from a couple of working outlets — particularly the reporters who urgently needed to prepare their articles to transmit during a quick refueling stop in England.

"But when Cheney said his iPod needed to be recharged, it took precedent above all else and dominated one precious outlet for several hours. The vice president's press staff intervened so a reporter could use the outlet for 15 minutes to charge a dead laptop, but then the digital music device was plugged back in. That way, Cheney got his press coverage and his music, too."

Okay, so... Some of the most salient questions for review:

1. It's possible -- after 9/11 -- on Air Force Two for almost all the outlets to go "on the fritz"???

2. There's no back-up plan for this? Like a frickin' ten buck power strip?

3. No one on the plane thought to plug Cheney's iPod into one of the laptops instead of into the outlet????

4. No one on the plane had read my Cellboost post??

5. Cheney is that much of a prick?

The Chronic(WHAT?)cles of Narnia


If you loved "Lazy Sunday," the music video by Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg from last week's SNL, iTunes and a holiday-spirited NBC have you covered: it's available as a free download.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Double Feature Finder

First let me say I would never, ever advocate sneaking into the movies.

I personally never do it... Not because I'm such an angel, but because with my luck I'd be made an example of by some usher and dragged out of the theatre in legirons, tried and thrown in prison, where I'd be ass-raped repeatedly, then brutally and viciously ass-raped when my cellmates find out I was sneaking into The Family Stone.

Still, I present this link not for scofflawery, but for those of you interested in clever web ideas: It's the Double Feature Finder (via Digg). Just plug in your zip code, then click on the theatre you want to go to and the movie you want to see, and bingo bango, there are the movies that will end before or begin after your movie. (Just as a matter of interest, I repeat.)

By the way, I think the statute of limitations has run out so I can now admit that when I was a kid in Merrick, NY, I actually snuck into a couple of American International double features by walking in backwards as people were walking out. (Yeah, believe it or not, that used to work.)

You Tell Me: Is This As Weird As I Think It Is?

Today, I went to three 7-11's in a row, and not one of them had any pens for sale.

I mean... That's weird, right?

One of the Things I Love Most About FHM...



(aside from the obvious)

...is the "Its Your Ex-Girlfriend" feature, where incredibly hot women like Megan Cauble and Polina Raygorodskaya tell tales on the losers they used to date but finally wised up and dumped.

Of course, the question that always comes to mind is why did these women put up with these tools treating them badly for so long in the first place? And will any of them email me at mike@womanilove.com?

One Of These Deal or No Deal Audience Members is Not Like the Others...


They Could Sell Them At the Twin Pines-- er, Lone Pine Mall


Being a bit of a Back to the Future geek -- okay, I admit it, I love those movies more than life itself -- I am thrilled to learn (via The Consumerist) that someone has launched an online petition to get Nike to manufacture shoes that at least look like the ones Marty McFly wore in BTTF2.

Stop by and sign it. And if you don't want to sign it, why don't you make like a tree... and get out of here.

If You're Thinking of Turning "Shine" Into "Shite" I'm Way Ahead Of You

Gawker reveals that the ordinarily loathsome Star Jones sent out a unbelievably loathsome holiday e-card this year that was actually a pitch to buy her new book, Shine. What a lovely sentiment.

Fortunately, Perez Hilton has the perfect gift picked out: a contest to Photoshop Star's book cover into something to make her really angry. And I think we all know that when Star gets mad, she breaks through walls like Kool Aid.

Some Good News From 2005


Our American educational system may be a complete failure but, thanks to Gwen Stefani, at least this year's high school graduates can spell "bananas."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

It's Definitely a Matter of Taste, But...

Headline from The Hollywood Reporter email version:

"An American Tragedy: Yet Another Disappointing New American Opera"

Are there people who are still capable of being disappointed by opera? I mean, to me this is like saying, "A Productive Cough: Not As Much Fun As You'd Think"

But, hey... I don't like opera, so I'm a bad litmus test.

But people who DO like opera only seem to bitch about every new opera that comes along, so why do people still write new operas? Just slap on the powdered wigs and sing the old ones and make all the snobs happy, that's what I say.

Judge Rules Denying Freedom Likely Unconstitutional; Hillary Clinton and Joseph Lieberman Doubtless Rush Back to PanderCave to Regroup

From The Hollywood Reporter:

A federal judge granted a temporary injunction blocking the pending California law that would make it illegal to sell or rent violent video games to minors. Judge Ronald Whyte, U. S. District Judge for the Northern District of California, ruled in favor of the Video Software Dealers Assn. and the Entertainment Software Assn., saying that the two interactive entertainment trade groups were "likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the Act violates the First Amendment, or at least that serious questions are raised." The bill, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Oct. 7. It was set to go into effect Jan. 1 and would fine retailers $1,000 for selling or renting such games to anyone younger than 18.

The Best of the Electric Company


Shout! Factory, the folks who did the amazing box sets of Freaks & Geeks, The Job and SCTV are releasing The Best of The Electric Company in February. You can preorder it at Amazon

They also have The Tomorrow Show: Punk & New Wave upcoming. It happens I was watching the night John Lydon and Tom Snyder had at it, and it was one of the most uncomfortable and hilarious TV moments ever.

Turns Out Hunky Santa's a Whore!


So I received a link to Hunky Santa's Top 10 Holiday Gift Picks, and I was so excited to share it with you because, let's face it, you and I and Hunky Santa -- the body-oiled shopping mall mascot -- have been through a lot together here in this blog.

And then I read it, and it was fine and hunky, until, to my dismay, H.S. let his corporate overlords make him write the following:

"($500-$3,000) What better gift for any household than a friendly new addition? Pet Love has a wide assortment of warm, fuzzy dogs, kittens, hamsters -- and any other pet imaginable -- all looking for a good home and a new best friend."

Well, of COURSE, as any multicelled creature should know by now, an animal is a TERRIBLE present. You really shouldn't surprise someone with a lifetime of responsibility. Plus, nothing against the good people of "Pet Love" but if they really loved pets they'd stop selling them and start sending people to shelters to adopt healthier, hardier animals for thousands of dollars less.

Anyway, if you'd still like to give an animal as a gift, I'd forget Hunky Santa, and instead listen to the recommendations of the ASPCA, in this informative article: Pets as Presents For Your Kids: Planning Makes All the Difference.

"How We Got Engaged"


How can you not feel your heart melt when two people in love draw a comic book about how they got that way? Enjoy "How We Got Engaged"... Dave's a lucky man!

Need an Online Whiteboard? Try Writeboard

If you collaborate with others online, or just want an online scratchpad to stash notes, Writeboard is free and easy-to-use. It's from the folks who make Basecamp, Ta-Da List, and the amazing Backpack, which are all fun, easy apps that will streamline your tasks. I use them all, and I love them.

I Know It Looks Weird...


... but this is Halo, a new device recently approved by the FDA in the fight against breast cancer.

(Imagine my surprise when I was searching online for "Halo" the game, and came up with "Halo" the device you stick your nipples in.)

Snap Back to Reality

I had a conversation recently with a sitcom writer who wondered how I could support reality writers in their struggle to join the Writers Guild.

Putting aside that I didn't think that, say, garment workers were kept out of unions if you didn't like the garments they made, I pointed out that there was a time when the Guild looked down on writers who worked in cable or animation, and today those are pretty elite gigs. You never know how the business will grow or change, and someday hybrid scripted/reality shows may be very prestigious indeed and we'll be glad to have them covered by union contracts.

This writer sneered and said he would NEVER work in anything even remotely connected to reality. He sniffed that he'd rather clean bathrooms at McDonald's than work on a reality show.

I was astounded by this writer's seeming willingness to repeat the mistakes of the past, and by his flat-out rejection of such a broad genre. I mean, sure, there's Fear Factor... but there's also The Amazing Race, isn't there?

There was no convincing this guy. No way. Reality was crap, and this guy doesn't do crap. He was adamant. Reality was ruining TV. I thought it best to drop the whole subject, rather than point out that it was reality, in the form of wrestling and Truth or Consequences and Queen For a Day and so forth that really kinda got there first. I changed the subject.

And then this writer started telling stories of shows he'd worked on. Some of the vilest, most infantile, lowest-common-denominator pieces of shit you've ever seen. (Or actually didn't see... None of these shows lasted.) The worst of the worst. Shows that aren't fit to stuff in the horse anus a Fear Factor contestant would refuse to eat.

There is no automatic virtue in a show merely because it's scripted, just as there's no automatic vice in a show merely because it's unscripted. And a "reality" show can have drama more compelling and comedy more hilarious than those in scripted TV.

There's something sad about a writer, schlepping his tattered sample case of worn wares, blaming the audience for being too "stupid" to want to buy what he's selling. Or the network that says, "Yeah, I know the audience has rejected the last six formulaic sitcoms starring a comedian, a couch and three kids... but they'll love this one."

The audience votes for the new, the different, the funny, the better... or they just vote to not watch at all. And those that ignore the audience will end up cleaning the bathrooms at McDonald's.

And by the way? There is no dishonor in cleaning the bathooms at McDonald's, if you work hard and do it well. But there is dishonor in being a bad writer on a crappy show while shitting on hard-working writers who only want the right to join a union.

Just In Case You Missed It...

"It's a program that's limited, and you brought up something that I want to stress, and that is, is that these calls are not intercepted within the country. They are from outside the country to in the country, or vice versa. So in other words, this is not a -- if you're calling from Houston to L.A., that call is not monitored."

-- Bush press conference, 12/19/05


"A surveillance program approved by President Bush to conduct eavesdropping without warrants has captured what are purely domestic communications in some cases, despite a requirement by the White House that one end of the intercepted conversations take place on foreign soil, officials say."

--New York Times, 12/21/05

At the Luncheon, Who Picks Up the Award For Endangering the Theatrical Experience? A Woman With a Screaming Baby in Her Arms?

From the Hollywood Reporter:

The American Film Institute unveiled Wednesday the year's AFI Moments of Significance. The six issues or events were selected for having the greatest impact on the world of the moving image in 2005.

The Moments of Significance, which were chosen by a 13-person jury consisting of scholars, artists, critics and AFI trustees, included:

-- The growing trend of media consolidation, including the sale of MGM and DreamWorks to larger corporations.

-- The artistic reactions to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as evidenced on television's 24, Sleeper Cell, Rescue 9/11 and Battlestar Galactica and film's War of the Worlds and Good Night, and Good Luck, among others.

-- Amid an industrywide boxoffice slump, the theatrical experience is in danger.

-- TV content migrated to multiple screen platforms, including video iPods and cell phone-ready TV episodes.

-- The impact of the televised images of Hurricane Katrina.

-- America Online's coverage of the multicity Live 8 concert proved a seismic moment in global access to live events.

AFI will honor the creative ensembles for each of the honorees at a luncheon January 13th at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills.

Jimmy Kimmel's Best Reality Show Moments of 2005

Video Dog has the clip and it's hilarious. I will never, ever get tired of that America's Next Top Model girl passing out. I just about wore my TiVo out back in the day on that one.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I Never Pass Up a Chance To Compliment Keith Olbermann

MSNBC.com has a great slideshow of The Editors' Choice: The Best Pictures of 2005. It's at times touching and funny and graphic and worth checking out.

Also, Friday night on MSNBC-TV, Countdown with Keith Olbermann will do its annual Year-in-Review show. You should definitely try to catch it.

Countdown
had an extraordinary year; Olbermann's Katrina coverage, for example, was awe-inspiring. It was Countdown that first ran the unedited footage of the people stranded at the Convention Center, the day before Brownie said he didn't know there was anyone there.

And it was Olbermann who uncharacteristically and eloquently went off on the Bush administration when Michael Chertoff remarked that "Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater." Olbermann's Murrow-esque editorial was so lovely, so perfect, and contained, to my mind, one of the quotes of the decade:

"And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological. It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water."

(If you're interested, here's a link to the video.)

Still and all, this is decidedly not a left-wing show... plus he has the funniest and most honest and unvarnished of all the non-fake news hours. If Countdown is not part of your media diet, you are malnourished.

Media/Technology Terror Watch, Part 683

The Today Show this morning asked the question, "Is the Internet Allowing an Organized Network of Pedophiles Into Your Home To Lure Your Children Into Danger?"

The answer?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Yes.

A Festivus Reminder

This Friday, the 23rd, is Festivus, so if you have not bought your unadorned aluminum pole, tomorrow is a great day to do it and avoid the last-minute crush.

(Obviously, it doesn't have to be aluminum, but Frank Costanza prefers aluminum for its high strength-to-weight ratio.)

Yahoo's Top Searches of 2005

Yahoo has revealed it's Top Searches of 2005, broken out into a variety of different categories. It's an interesting read, but what I mostly take away from it is that the Panthers' cheerleaders were a lot more popular than the Panthers.

Strictly Based On the Trailers...

I could not be looking forward to Eight Below more...

...while Memoirs of a Geisha looks like they reverse-engineered a movie in order to keep me away.

The Images of 2005

Throughout the rest of 2005, from time to time, images will appear here to celebrate what was one amazing year. (And also so I don't have to write stuff.)

It's impossible to choose a man of the year, but a strong candidate would have to be R. Kelly. There was a mystery going on and he was going to solve it.



On March 11th, a 15-year-old cancer survivor testified at the Michael Jackson trial "I was under the covers, and that is when he put his hand down my pants and started masturbating me." That same day, Michael Jackson showed up late for court in pajama buttoms with an umbrella over his head. Which story of the day do you remember? The man is a genius.

Kimberly White / Getty Images-Pool

And let us not forget February, and the sight of our Vice President at a memorial ceremony at Auschwitz. You'll note all the other heads of state are wearing overcoats, but ours is wearing a "Staff 2001" ski cap and a parka... without even bothering to tear off the lift ticket. At Auschwitz. Fuck you, too, Dick.

Deal or No Deal


There is no reason why I should enjoy Deal or No Deal as much as I do. It has a host I haven't liked since St. Elsewhere, it's really not very well produced, it's too gimmicky for its own good (a banker??). But it's so elemental, so entertaining, so... I can't help it. I just love it. Tuesday's show was so goddamn fun. (If you saw it you know what I mean.)

And by the way, I'd be a terrible contestant. I'm too cautious. When I'm watching, I always yell, "Take the deal!"

Kathy Griffin Out at E!

Defamer links to the New York Post's interview with Kathy Griffin about her lump of coal from E! telling her she won't be a red carpet presence for them anymore. Defamer also suggests that Ryan Seacrest's new deal with E! might mean that he'll be filling the space vacated by Star Jones. (Of course, the remainder of the space vacated by Star Jones will later be filled by an Arby's.)

Sometimes E! seems bound and determined to suck, so it does no good to be angry about the way they treated Kathy. I will instead focus on the good news: big stupid Star Jones is out of a job.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I'd Hop On Back To the Drawing Board

Remember when I posted that they were looking for a new, more appealing name for kangaroo meat, because a lot of Australians were reluctant to eat something called "kangaroo meat"?

If you don't, and you don't feel like clicking, the problem was that the kangaroo is so, well, lovable. Especially when it wears sunglasses and a Brooklyn sweatshirt, like in Kangaroo Jack.

Well, after months of searching and 3,000 entries they have found their new name for kangaroo meat, to take its place among "beef" and "pork" and "veal":

"Australus." Yes, that's right: "Australus."

Yeah... It sucks, I know.

And even stranger, it sucks clockwise up here, and counter-clockwise down there.

The Difference Between an Expert and a Liar

"Bush is the first President to admit to an impeachable offense."

-- John Dean, 12/18/05, obviously calling on his expertise from his days as Richard Nixon's former White House Counsel


"The President made it very clear that as long as he is President he is going to continue using every lawful tool within his power to prevent attacks from happening and save lives and protect the American people."

-- Scott McClellan, 12/20/05, obviously hoping we'll forget that Bush did not use any of his lawful tools in the summer of 2001 except the brush-clearing ones.

Completely Random Quote From One of My Heroes

"I can't bring myself to say, 'Well, I guess I'll be toddling along.' It isn't that I can't toddle. It's just that I can't guess I'll toddle."

-- Robert Benchley, from The Quotations Page

Something You Should Always Have On Hand


If you don't have one already, Cellboost is something you really, really need.

If your cell phone, PDA, iPod, PSP, camcorder, or other portable device is fading fast, just plug this little wonder in the bottom and you've got another hour of power. You can use it for some extra talk or play time, or you can use it to charge. When it's done, toss it.

I keep them in my car and backpack for all my portable devices, and on more than one occasions, I've been in the middle of an important call, knew I wasn't going to be able to charge up, so I just slapped on the Cellboost and I was good to go. It really saved my bacon.

Plus they're cheap. And right now they come with a buy-one-get-one-free mail-in coupon. Can't beat that.

They're available all over, including Amazon

What is Sexy?

Amy Tenowich wrote an outraged column for the L.A. Daily News this week, expressing her displeasure at the overt sexualization of female anchors on the local news. She listed a group of women, and exclaimed, "These women are gorgeous!"

Now, in fairness to Ms. Tenowich, since I have no interest in dead children or overturned tractor-trailers I don't watch the local news, so I'd never heard of any of the women she mentioned, except for Jillian Barberie.

In my opinion, Jillian Barberie does not look "gorgeous." The words I'd pick are "shopworn" or "slatternly." In my opinion, Jillian Barberie looks like, if you happened to wander into the wrong bus depot men's room late enough at night, you might find her blowing a guy... and if you were drunk and hard-up enough, and if you were willing to give up half your sandwich, you might get blown, too. But that's my opinion.

So, I was not brimming with confidence that Ms. Tenowich and I would agree on what "gorgeous" means.

Still, when I read the following sentence, I was intrigued:

"Fans can also check out [Lauren Sanchez's] photo on the sister channel Fox11 Web site, in which roughly 65 percent of her left breast's profile graces cyberspace. Titillating!"

Now whenever I read anything about 65 percent of any breast being anywhere online, I am one fast-clickin' sonofabitch. This is the picture I found:


Gentlemen reading this, I ask you: Is that gorgeous? Is that sexy? Is that titillating?

That is scary.

Women and men have very different ideas about what is sexy. The difference is, men know that, and women don't.

If you have mangled and reassembled and injected your face so it is incapable of expressing human emotion? (See Sunday nights, ABC)... Not a sexy look.

Or starved yourself so your ribs poke through your sides and your cheekbones pop out of your eye sockets? (Hope you TiVo'd Sunday night on ABC)... Not a sexy look.

And if you have tweezed, shaved, threaded, chainsawed, or otherwise removed your eyebrows and then painted new ones somewhere else on your head, I'm sorry, you are not sexy.

And if it's too late.... If you already have no eyebrows... I want you to try this experiment:

Buy a doll. Or draw a face on an egg. Then draw eyebrows on it EXACTLY the way you usually draw yours.

If you feel the resulting face would frighten a toddler, you really need to find a new drawn-eyebrow configuration.

I mean, Lauren Sanchez may be a very nice person. But if you built a snowman on your front lawn and put those eyebrows on it, it would take maybe two hours for some parent to knock on your door, a crying child in tow, and ask what kind of sicko you are.

So if I can just get those of you with scary-snowman eyebrows to realize you're making no one hot except for Amy Tenowich, then my work here is done. You're welcome.

By the way, there isn't time now, but just something to think about: If any of your sweaters sparkle anywhere on them, or if any of your earrings are bigger than your fists... 'nuf said.

And when men see that the toe of your shoe is pointy enough to open a can of motor oil, we don't get turned on. We get nauseous.

My Favorite Quote On The New York Transit Strike

"I don't understand why people don't just rent a really nice suite downtown in, like, one of the plush hotels, y'know? Why go back and forth? I mean, seriously, the Mandarin has an excellent spa, and a beautiful view of the park. Or take a helicopter. [shrugs] Maybe I'm a little out of touch."

-- Jim Carrey on The Today Show

Present Company Excepted

"Democracies don't war, democracies are peaceful countries."

-- George W. Bush, at his 12/19/05 press conference, explaining the benefits of turning Iraq into a democracy like the United States, which started a war two years ago.

Defensive Moviegoing Alert

Today's Los Angeles Times has an interview with Andy Serkis about King Kong that needlessly gives away key plot points with no spoiler warnings whatsoever. Read at your own peril.

Return of the Violight


I've raved before about the Violight, the toothbrush holder that sanitizes your toothbrush. Well, I wanted to mention it again, because they've come out with a travel size... AND because until December 26th, if you buy two you get 20% off your second one. Details at Violight.

Monday, December 19, 2005

TV on DVD: The 2005 Results Are In

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the top five selling TV DVD's of 2005 were:

1. Chappelle's Show: Season 2 Uncensored (2.84 million units estimated)
2. Lost: The Complete First Season (1.04 million units)
3. Seinfeld: Season 4 (860,000 units)
4. The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season (830,000 units)
5. Friends: The Complete Ninth Season (790,000 units)

In the War on Christmas, Christmas Isn't Fighting Fair




What is Tavi?


Tavi is a new personal media player. It plays photos, music, videos, has a voice recorder, an FM radio, eBook and dictionary, all in an elegant clamshell design with virtual surround speakers! The Wired Gadget Lab gave it 10 out of 10, and they're no pushovers. It's not for sale yet, but you can check it out at www.tavi.com.

Okay, I Admit It's Just An Excuse To Run Cute Puppy Pictures


Did you know Zach Braff is the voice of the Cottonelle puppy?

"And Did You Know That Little Baby Jesus Grew Up To Be... Jesus?"

That was how Homer ended his hysterical version of the first Christmas on The Simpsons this past Sunday. ("Herod is coming for the child! Manger danger! Manger danger!")

Of course, Homer ended up scrambling around on Christmas looking for a present for Marge. If you don't want to end up similarly screwed, Dealhack (via Consumerist) has you covered, with a list of online retailers and their absolute deadlines for holiday ordering.

One more great Simpsons line, from Dr. Nick, coming into the manger to deliver the baby: "Shalom, everybody! I've got some very good news: Caesar invented the Caesarian!"

God, I love that show.

Regarding John Spencer

Someone asked me why I didn't mention the passing of John Spencer. As big a West Wing fan as I am, and as much as I admired Mr. Spencer, it seemed odd to this person that I didn't note his passing and express my regrets.

I should explain, I guess, a sort of philosophy of mine about this blog, if such a fluffy thing can even have a philosophy.

It always bothered me when someone like Kathie Lee Gifford or the velociraptors of The View would bring their shows to a halt because they simply had to add their voices to those expressing regrets that someone had died. It always seemed to me to be a way to momentarily turn the spotlight on themselves, to make the moment about their own suffering, and how much the loss would impact them. ("He was a great inspiration to me, and not a day will go by that I won't think of him and miss him" etc.)

It always seemed that when someone passes away, regrets are so obvious they should go without saying in forums as inappropriate as morning shows and blogs. Maybe I'm wrong.

Anyway, I don't feel comfortable dwelling on people's passing here, even people I greatly liked and admired (like John Spencer). Otherwise the whole thing is liable to become about people I unintentionally slight... like who gets applause and who doesn't in those "In Memoriam" films at award shows.

That is not to say that I won't, from time to time, write about people when the spirit spontaneously moves me. And when I do, I apologize in advance to those I didn't write about. See? I'm angering people already... And angering the dead, to boot! Never a good idea.

Having said that, I would like to write about a tangential issue raised by Mr. Spencer's passing, which has come up in the trades: how the show's writers will deal with it. One of the trades mentioned that the issue is complicated by the scene from a show earlier this season that flashed forward three years to show Leo McGarry alive and well.

I just want to say, I can't speak for anyone else, but I think only the most churlish Comic Book Guy in the world would hold the writers to honoring the integrity of that flash-forward at this difficult time.

I think, given that they're dealing with the loss of a character they depended on and an friend they loved, we should be very grateful if the writers can just continue crafting the rest of the season in their usual flawless, elegant way.

A Gift That Should Come With Insulin


From cnet's news.com comes word that you can now order from Japan (where else?) the Hello Kitty iPod, complete with teddy bear stand.

Mail-Filter.Com

A new service, a great idea: www.mail-filter.com. Sign up with their free service and you get a dummy email address that will filter spam then forward the rest to your real email address.

So let's say you sign up with the username "username"... any mail sent to username@mail-filter.com will be forwarded to your email address, less the spam.

But that's not all. You can also set up "disposable" email addresses. Just add a period and a word before the @ and you've got another email address. So you can be username.match@mail-filter.com or username.newspaper@mail-filter.com...

Whatever you put there, mail-filter will assume it's you and handle it. Or you can just delete the email address if you're getting pestered.

I love it.

"Another War Based On Faulty Intelligence"

That's how a USA Today cartoon described the "War on Christmas." After showing a blowhard TV commentator holding forth on the "War on Christmas," the cartoon showed a typical mall shopper, drowning in a sea of Christmas, uttering the line above.

Bill O'Reilly was outraged. Called it a lie. Said the cartoonist and the paper knew it was a lie and wondered why they'd run something like that.

Bill was outraged. Why had the press been insisting there's no War on Christmas? His guest, a Fox News analyst, agreed, saying, "Look, who're you gonna believe, them or your own eyes?"

My own eyes. Christmas is fricking everywhere.

Anyone who says otherwise is either a moron or a demagogue seeking to exploit the gullibility of morons.

Let me put it more simply:

Let's say Tom, Jim and Nancy walk up to me, and I say, "Hi, everyone!"

Now let's say, Jim punches me in the nose.

And when I say, "Jim?! What the fuck?!" Jim says, "Way to not say hello to me! What, do you hate me? Are you anti-Jim?"

I think we'd all agree Jim's an asshole. I think Tom, Nancy and I would be justified in beating the living shit out of Jim.

My "Hi, everyone" included him as well as Tom and Nancy.

Yes, "included." Inclusiveness is not a P.C. term. It's a grammatical one.

As it happens, four major holidays fall at this time of year: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year's. Rather than have to address each one individually -- like imbeciles -- we came up with "Happy Holidays." It seems to cover them all nicely.

No one should be slighted by it.

No one ever has been. Until now.

If you think there'a a War on Christmas, and you don't see that this is a cynical attempt by a couple of Fox News guys to sell a book and rouse the rabble, then you're a fucking idiot.

And if what I just said makes you go, "Hey! I'm not a fucking idiot!" then I've got news for you: You're a fucking idiot, you've always been a fucking idiot, and no one's ever told you. I'm doing you a favor. Let someone else handle your finances from now on.

It's Better To Light Fifteen Million Candles Than To Curse the Darkness


The Cyclops CYC-S1500 is an obscenely powerful rechargable flashlight. It's 15 million candles of raw, blazing, night-piercing power. Should society ever break down, you'll be all set to be the Snake Pliskin of your block with this baby in your trunk.

I became aware of it through Cool Tools, but it's available at buy.com with a $10 rebate if you order before 12/31/05, bringing the price down to only $24.99. A small price to pay to be a hero.

How Can You Tell If a Blog is Parody Or Not?

So I run across this blog, The Company Bitch, and I'm reading it and thinking it's hilarious... a sly, savage parody of the kind of New Yorker who watches way too much Sex and the City. The kind that sometimes makes me wish there were a fault line under the Hudson River.

And then I think, "Wait... What if this isn't a parody? What if this is really this person's thoughts?"

But it can't be. I mean, this blog actually contains sentences like "Me and my pretty hair received a text message from Ex-Boyfriend."

It has to be some really talented writer pulling our legs, right?

Please?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

You Are Entering a No Fact Zone

"Can you imagine forcing little kids to sing the song not the way Irving Berlin wrote it??"

-- Bill O'Reilly, The O'Reilly Factor, 12/9/05, referring to "Silent Night", which a teacher in Wisconsin had apparently obliged children to sing as "Cold in the Night."



"Silent Night" was, in fact, written by Franz Gruber and Joseph Mohr, pretty much 100 years before Irving Berlin was tickling the ivories.

And I'm fairly certain the kids didn't know they weren't singing the real lyrics, so "forcing" is a really strong word.

And I think we can all agree Mr. Berlin would not have been as militant as Bill O'Reilly on the whole "Merry Christmas" thing.

Not Quite Ready For Maternity Clothes?


From Cool Tools comes this nifty invention for the pregnant woman. The Bellaband, available in a variety of colors, keeps your ubuttoned pants up during the "in-between phase." Great idea, and only $26.

What Andy Rooney Said While Filling His Diaper This Week... And No, I'm Not Making This Up:


"A watch ought to be round so the hands can go around. How can they make a square watch?"

-- 60 Minutes, 12/18/05

If There Were a Jewish History Month

Tonight on 60 Minutes, Morgan Freeman said he thought Black History Month was "ridiculous." He said, "I don't want a Black History Month. Black history is American history." He essentially said the way to end racism is to stop calling attention to racial divides.

He also asked Mike Wallace, who's Jewish, when Jewish History Month is. When Wallace said there wasn't one, Freeman said, "You want one?"

As a white man, I am not crazy enough to wade into the debate over whether or not there should be a Black History Month. But I will say that I respect Morgan Freeman's talent and intellect more than you can imagine, and I respect anyone who has the courage and integrity to challenge the mainstream armed only with logic.

As a Jew, however, I feel qualified to answer Morgan Freeman's question: Hell, no. I don't want a Jewish History Month. I can't speak for anyone else, but I would find it patronizing in the extreme.

If there were TV public service announcements where someone came on camera and solemnly said, "You know, it was Jews who invented electron microscopes, Polaroid cameras, and flexible straws." I would want to add the sound of Crank Yankers' Special Ed going "Yayyyyy!"

If there is someone out there who doesn't like Jews because they're Jews, knowing we invented lasik isn't going to turn them around. And if there are Jewish children who need an annual month of media attention to feel proud of their heritage, they have bigger problems.

So that's my answer, and my answer only, about a hypothetical month for my people. Your mileage, as always, may vary.

Congratulations, Time Magazine

It would have been so easy for them to have chosen one of this year's villains as Person of the Year. There were so many.

I think the choice they made is excellent. Celebrating the extraordinary philanthropy of these three individuals is an inspired and inspiring choice. Let's hope their example causes some of the afforementioned villains to rethink their philosophy that life is one big "gimme."

"And Now Two A-Holes Buying a Christmas Tree"

I thought this sketch on SNL last night was laugh-out-loud funny. I also suspect that if you and your significant other watched it and didn't get it, you might be two a-holes.

Double Header: "True Story of Lousy Customer Service" & "True Story of Smart Assitude"

I am in line at the "Drop Prescriptions Off Here" counter of my local drugstore and I have a prescription in my hand. I reach the front of the line.

I smile pleasantly at the girl, say "Hi," and slide the prescription across the counter.

She looks at me, smacking a wad of gum the size of my head noisily, and says, "What can I do for you?"

I look down at the prescription. I look back up at her. She's still staring at me, head tilted.

I say, "I'm going to an awards dinner, and I'd like to have a tuxedo custom made. But it's next weekend. Is it too late?"

She stares at me a moment more. Then: "This is a pharmacy."

You can't make this stuff up.

Old Grandma Hard Core


The Washington Post, among other media outlets, ran an article on Barbara St. Hilaire, a 69-year-old grandmother in Ohio who is also a serious gamer. And I mean serious. I love this woman... even though she can kick my ass.

You can also read about her at her grandson's very popular blog Old Grandma Hard Core.

For Those Who Watch The O.C.


Am I the only one who's sick of Johnny?

I'm sick of seeing him, hearing about him, hearing he's bummed, watching him brood, etc. I'm sick of hearing his
name. I want him to get his operation or move away or get killed or get gone or something, but I want his mopey-ass face off my TV pronto.

And even Ryan and Marissa have started to notice that they see-and-misinterpret stuff way too much. Not since Mr. Roper has someone jumped to conclusions as often as Ryan does.

And is it weird that Seth and Summer never seem to make out? Am I mistaken, or do they not even kiss very much? The Cohens have a lustier PDA record.

And while I'm thrilled that Julie's financial woes seem to be coming to an end, she and Michael Nouri will easily become the oiliest couple in TV history.