popular thinking

hopelessly devoted to deconstructing popular culture and conventional wisdom, one blog at a time

Clone wars

I knew moving back to the Boston area would make being me somehow more complicated. A few weeks ago, comedian Brian Kiley (make that, Emmy-winning writer Brian Kiley!) told me he was nervous about talking to me because he remembered "Sean McCarthy" as his childhood bully growing up in Newton. But then Kiley said he also remembered that that Sean McCarthy probably still doesn't know how to read or write.

In the past week, I've also had people refer me to this guy who fronts the band Helms, and this guy who writes freelance music articles in New Bedford. They're not me. But maybe I should get the second guy to review the first guy's music, then blog about it. Wouldn't that be fun? Maybe not.

Just another reason why I've always used my middle initial.

Related: Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel film critic. Read his 2002 interview with that other Roger Moore.

Hollywoodland presents two Ben Afflecks

Everyone is buzzing today about the Photoshop job done on Katie Couric (see this New York Post story for details). But show bidness does this all the time. Remember the two Uma Thurmans from earlier this summer? Or when Queen Latifah showed up skinny in print ads for Chicago? Now comes Hollywoodland, (opening Sept. 8) which doesn't want you to know that Ben Affleck gained weight and wore a fake prosthetic nose to portray George Reeves (Affleck does a good job, for all you potential haters out there). Look at the movie poster. Then look at a movie still. What is Focus Features afraid of?

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UPDATED: I should note that this first came to my attention when I interviewed director Allen Coulter earlier this month. Our photographer asked him to stand by the poster in the room, and Coulter did so, albeit reluctantly. Watching that go down, I couldn't help but notice that the Ben Affleck on the poster looked more like Affleck than Affleck-as-Reeves. Pointed it out to Coulter, who first expressed shock, followed quickly by dismay. He shrugged his shoulders. Coulter figured the studio wants Affleck the movie star to sell tickets, not the pudged-up Affleck, even if that's how he looks in the movie.

Your 2006 Emmys Do-Over Moment

One of these women is not like the others. One of these women actually still belongs. One of these women proved last night that she deserved all of the 1970s poster love. Did you guess Jaclyn Smith? I hope you did. Va, va, voom! Posted by Picasa

Reliving the 2006 Emmy Awards

Nothing makes a human decide to ditch live-blogging for a “sleep on it” review faster than the sight of Ryan Seacrest (E!) and Billy Bush (NBC) engaged in a contest to see who can reveal a more inappropriate lack of knowledge about Hollywood. Almost as if both men decided, “Hey, nobody cares about the Emmys, so why should we?”Well…why should we?
A swag-bag scandal? Tom Cruise vs. Paramount: Who you got? Really, this is the best we can do, people?
The telecast itself managed to come in on-time, just under three hours, thereby saving Bob Newhart from an untimely death.
But a lot of it had a been there, done that, seen it all before feel to it.
The opening montage (which reminds you, how long ago was it that Billy Crystal and the Oscars put their host in the pictures?) did get in some early jabs with a cameo by Lost’s Hurley (“Well, we weren’t exactly invited”), a drop-in with The Office that included an inside joke for fans, visits with 24 and House and NBC’s To Catch a Predator, but the best was South Park, with a revised version of the “Trapped in the Closet” episode (yes, with Tom Cruise).
Conan O’Brien’s monologue? Self-deprecating, but also self-network deprecating – NBC, from first to “in the top five!”
Other highlights…
Megan Mullally wins (again), cries (probably again) for supporting actress, comedy prize. Presenter Ellen Pompeo looked nice, but then she opened her mouth. Why does everyone keep calling the pizza boy Dr. McDreamy?
Alan Alda doesn’t show up, sparing us an acceptance speech (hooray!) for supporting actor, drama. But Julia Louis-Dreyfuss looks good for her 40s! No, really. She does.
Here come the Sheens, with supporting actress drama, for Blythe Danner, another repeat winner. Very Emmy, these repeat winners. Perhaps that’s why no one watches the Emmys.
As for supporting actor, comedy? Jeremy Piven. No hugging it out. Just the first good lines in an acceptance speech, saying he has to work, keeping it real, keeping it simple. We might just make it on-time. We might just do it.
You know. I suddenly realize this morning rewatching the video why the Emmys are such a bore (even with Conan O’Brien and his writing crew on the job). All of these awards for miniseries and cable movies that no one watched. It’s like the portion of the Oscars that honors the short films. It’s a big moment for those involved, but it has very little appeal for us watching at home. Unless we have Comcast On Demand and can watch some of this stuff, I suppose. But that doesn’t help tonight. Fast forward, we go!
Multiple awards for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, again, in the variety categories. But they deserve it.
The comedy directing and writing winners (both for the My Name is Earl pilot) both have good lines in their acceptance speeches. Greg Garcia cited people he would not like to thank: His eighth-grade social studies teacher, his boss on “Step By Step,” and “finally God, I’m sure you’re partially responsible in some way, but you took my hair. Not cool. Not cool, man.”
A few new Apple ads with Mac vs. PC, and with each one, we’re reminded that the PC guy is funny, so why should we buy a Mac again???
The Dick Clark tribute, with Dick Clark. And Barry Manilow. Who, after the break, wins for best individual performance in a variety show, beating out Stephen Colbert. Even Manilow looks shocked.
Then a bunch of blah blah blah.
The variety writing nominees, as in previous years, produce funny nominee bits.
Hugh Laurie, in English, American or French, is funny. Andre Braugher wins for best actor in a miniseries for a show that actually was a series, wasn’t it? Wasn’t it? I’m confused.
Tony Shaloub wins (again) best comedy actor for Monk, then says he “never wins anything”??? I’m still confused.
The Aaron Spelling tribute, without Spelling, of course, but with repeated cutaways to the mother-daughter catfighters. Dynasty, anyone? How about the original Charlie’s Angels? Time has not been kind to two of the angels, but Jaclyn Smith….wow!
Blah blah blah.
Colbert and Stewart can make even awards-show banter seem funny, “Wolverine I could’ve lost to, he has claws for hands!” Colbert yelps. BTW, The Amazing Race wins the reality show category, which it has accomplished every year the category has been included in the Emmys.
Katherine Heigl. Hit the mute button! Hit the mute button! Phew, better.

More miniseries categories?!
Mariska Hargitay wins best dramatic acting (again), and her SVU partner is going to be pissed in a few minutes when he gets the snub.
But first, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss wins best comedy acting. “I’m not somebody who really believes in curses, but curse this, baby!” she starts in her speech. Her fear of forgetting somebody really important gets multiple video cues to her husband, Brad Hall.
Kiefer Sutherland wins best dramatic acting for 24. “My father is sitting over there. Hi. We’re going to have to have dinner now.”
Newhart is out of his cage! And he gets to present the best comedy award to The Office. Which means fewer people will watch it now and NBC will cancel it. Great. Just great. Conan pumps his fists. Why? In a minute or so, The Office’s speech-maker says Conan and I were roommates 20 years ago. Plus a shoutout to Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant for creating the BBC original masterpiece.
24 wins best drama. Which means it’s day is numbered, too.
But we can worry about that some other day. It’s almost time for the MTV VMA’s, isn’t it? That should provide plenty of unintentional hilarity. It better. Posted by Picasa

This week's New McCarthyism

A nice woman recently explained to me that scientists discovered that all of our skin cells contain memories (note: I'm not sure if this is actually true or not, but she was pretty so I played along). That prompted my own discovery, which I shared with her...No wonder all the skinny beautiful people are so dumb! Less skin, fewer memories! If that's true, then fat people should have lots of memories. Most of those memories focus on eating (note: I'm not sure if this is actually true or not, but she was pretty so I figured she wouldn't remember me saying any of this later).

Dave Chappelle performs, everyone happy!

Dave Chappelle looked even more relaxed than this last night, onstage at Agganis Arena at Boston University. "A hockey arena!?"

Check out my review of Dave Chappelle's show last night in Boston: Read the late-edition final print edition in today's Boston Herald. Then follow the link to more notes and musings about the performance on my Jokers Wild blog. Or just hit the tab above! Posted by Picasa

The Rock Runs On Dunkin

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson tells anyone and everyone how much he loves Dunkin Donuts. No surprise, then, that the company approached him years ago to see if he’d like a donut named for him. He passed at the time. Well. Let him explain it, since The Rock was in Boston yesterday to promote his upcoming film, Gridiron Gang (which is quite good, so go see it Sept. 15).

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This is how "The Rock" explained it to me yesterday. “Yeah, they approached me,” he said. “They said. Executives called, ‘What do you think if we made a Rock donut. Would you be interested in that?’” He then paused for more than a moment.

The Rock: “Well, I thought that oh, might be a pretty fun, cool idea. But then my mind immediately goes into toilet humor. And I start thinking about, what kind of donut would it be? What kind of cream filling would it be? What will we call the donut? There’s many ways you can go with that. And then I thought, nah. It’s just safer. Plus, its kind of weird if I just roll up and say, ‘Hey give me a dozen Rocks, cream-filled, right up there please?'”

So are you saying you don’t want me to try to set something up. Make some calls?
The Rock: “Nah. That’s fine. I’ll still love Dunkin Donuts.”

What do you order at Dunkin Donuts, for a completely trivial question?
The Rock: “Well, let me think. It all depends on the mood. It’s like sometimes you feel like vanilla, sometimes you feel like chocolate. You go in there, and I live down in Davie, Fla., a little country town, so there’s just like here, there’s a Dunkin Donuts on every corner. As a matter of fact, the owner, the guy who started Dunkin Donuts, signed his book to me. Just thought I’d give you some more (expletive) you can’t use.”

Oh, it’s all going in the paper tomorrow. What are you talking about?
The Rock: “Cause I think the first Dunkin Donuts was started up here, wasn’t it?”

Oh, yeah. We’re going to start a campaign. A public campagin through the media to get you the Rock Donut.
The Rock: “The Rock Donut! Let’s do it, man! (claps) Let’s do it. Wouldn’t it be cool? What kind of donut would it be? What do you think it would be? What kind of donut would it be, if you’re like, hey give me one of those Rocks!"

I don’t want to speak for you.
The Rock: "What do you think?"

Hmm. Its got to have some oomph to it.
The Rock: "It’s got to have some oomph, right, yeah. its just not one of them little round donuts, either. I don’t see that. Like the size of almost one of them cinnamon twists. You know those. It’s gotta be one of those. It’s gotta have some oomph. Gotta have some flavor. Gotta have some substance.”

Some kind of filling...
The Rock: "It’s got to have some kind of filling! (laughing) What do you think, as a chick? (he calls over to his publicist) You want one of them Rock Donuts, and then you do all that metaphorical stuff you can think about."
The Rock's publicist: "Well, it’d be like The Rock, like hard on the outside, soft (laughs) on the inside."
The Rock: "See. that’s why she’s my publicist. I like that. Rock, I love it! Hard on the outside, soft on the inside -- with a lot of filling.
Publicist: "A lot of stuff inside."
The Rock: "A lot of stuff. That’s great. They’re going to approach me again. This is going to be cool. I guarantee.”

You can read excerpts of my chat with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in today's Inside Track column of the Boston Herald. The rest of the interview is forthcoming.

Two things to ponder in the meantime:
1) Do you think it'd be a good idea for Dunkin Donuts to start creating/naming sugary treats for celebrities, and if so, would The Rock be your first choice?
2) What would your Rock Donut be?

Going with the hard on the outside, soft on the inside premise suggested above, I'd start with a base similar to the Boston Kreme Donut. Maybe dip the whole thing again in some sort of chocolately-sugary mix. Sprinkles on top? Then you'd have to cool it down, somehow, to achieve more of a hard, rocky texture. At least that's my first instinct on it. What's yours?

Tell me what you think.

And then watch this Dunkin Donuts commercial, which would be modified to include "The Rock" and his favorite sporting activity!

Chappelle comes back to Boston

Dave Chappelle hasn't been doing much press for his current stand-up tour, which comes to Boston on Wednesday night. Perhaps he doesn't want to answer the same questions over and over again about Africa and Comedy Central. Or perhaps he figures his appearances on Oprah and Anderson Cooper 360 earlier this year were enough. Either way, it'll be interesting to see how the crowd takes to him. And it'll also be interesting to see what it's like at the gates, considering the ticket warning issued by Ticketmaster/Live Nation. Read my story in today's Boston Herald to find out why you'd even see such a warning. Then watch this video to hear Chappelle explain it for himself...

Is Bush an idiot?

Denis Leary and Jon Stewart would be proud. Well, maybe not. Leary played a long clip of presidential gaffes last fall to introduce his Comics Come Home show in Boston. Stewart often uses his Comedy Central platform to demonstrate how out of sorts our president is. But this morning, watching MSNBC, I saw the cable network cover itself -- promoting the heck out of a segment from last week that has gotten some YouTube traction. And, here it is...

No matter how you answer, the evidence, as all the world has seen, is troubling. Is it 2008 yet?

Birthday trifecta

Dad is 58 today, while Dan turns 45 and Jamie celebrates her big 3-0. Just saying. Lots of happy birthdays to go around.

Print vs. Internet: What's the balance?

Newspapers aren't the only ones asking the question, as yesterday's Wall Street Journal considered how weekly magazines decide what to break online and what to save for the mags.

Lessons in cult fandom: WWE SummerSlam

Can you hear all of the Hulkamaniacs? This was my view of the Hulkster, putting his hand to his ear, just like the old days, only this was Sunday night at WWE's SummerSlam at Boston's TD Banknorth Garden.

A full house, featuring lots of young men but also hundreds of families -- yes, moms, dads and their little kids, too -- packed the Garden last night for SummerSlam, the WWE event that for everyone else, was pay-per-view. My first time watching pro rasslin' in person. Couldn't help but think, over and over again, that it would've meant a lot more to me at 14 than it did at 34. Twenty years ago, my junior-high friends loved watching what then was a Saturday morning TV novelty act, then recreating our favorite moments after school during the week. For me, it was Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka. His high-flying antics off the top rope made me feel I could fly if I willed myself to it. But I digress.

Back to Boston. So many fans wear T-shirts for their current faves, and there are thousands of hand-made, hand-drawn signs. One mother and her young daughter (by young, I mean about 6 years old) walk past me down the steps with signs for D Generation X and their, ahem, catchphrase: "Suck It!" How nice that this mother-daughter combo has taken to it, eh? The ring, on the other hand, looks so much smaller than in person (which I know is odder still, considering I've also attended a live boxing event).

Match #1: Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero
8:08-8:19 p.m., I wrote about Chavo's brother, Eddie, when he died. Chavo wins, with help from his lady friend.

Match #2: ECW title match, Sabu vs. The Big Show
8:28-8:37 p.m., Sabu enters with a chair, later pulls tables from underneath the ring (how'd he know it was there?). But all of this is for naught, as Big Show smothers him. Seemed like a lot of silly work for very little payoff.

Match #3: Randy Orton vs. Hulk Hogan
8:50-9:02 p.m., As if you couldn't have written the script already. This match played out even more predictably than Snakes on a Plane, mostly because the WWE and the Hulkster have this down to a science. Every thing that happens here has happened in 98 percent of Hogan's previous matches. Orton looks like he has the upper hand on the old, bald-topped Hogan. Fans chant for Hogan. Looks like Orton wins. But no, Hogan had his foot on the rope! The Hulkster shakes his head violently, which tells everyone that he found his second wind, and boom, just like that, Hulkamania runs wild again.

Match #4: The "I Quit" Match, Mick Foley vs. Ric "Nature Boy" Flair
9:11-9:24 p.m., I met Mick Foley last year at a pop culture/sci-fi convention at Bayside Expo Center. Really nice, humble guy. He talked with me for a while between signing copies of his novels and other books and wrestling photos. Watching him back in the ring, harder to believe he'd have a giant piece of plywood with barbed wire on it as a weapon, let alone barbed wire on a a baseball bat. But there Mick was, out of shape but bloodying up Ric Flair (how old is he?). Didn't matter in the end, because Flair gets Mick to quit.

Match #5: World heavyweight match, King Booker vs. Batista
9:33-9:44 p.m., They're both athletic enough. But who cares? Really. Just reminds you why the WWE still relies on the old stars from the 1980s and 1990s. The fans root for Batista. He wins, but on a DQ due to Booker's "queen," so Booker keeps his belt. Booooooooo.

Match #6: D-Generation X vs. Vince and Shane McMahon
9:57-10:15 p.m., Sometime during the past several years, Vince McMahon decided it'd be a good idea to make himself part of the action. I liked it better when he sat behind his desk and acted like he didn't know anything about any steroids. But looks as though he now knows more than a little something, as he's gotten strangely large and in charge over the years. Anyhoo. Vince and his heel of a son apparently want to pretend they're a tag-team, and they send out a bunch of guys to beat up D-Generation X for them. Blah blah blah. D-Generation X eventually wins. Fans go nuts. Suck it! (Really? That's their catchphrase? And parents think this is good for the kids? Really?)

Match #7: WWE title match, John Cena vs. Edge
10:27-10:43 p.m., Even though Cena is a hometown boy, the fans here in Boston seem split on him. Some openly holler at him. And the WWE shows it doesn't want to be too predictable by having Edge win and keep his title. Or is that in itself being too predictable?

Parting thought: What's more dangerous for children...exposing them to cartoon violence, or exposing them to real-life men engaged in cartoon-like violence? Posted by Picasa

K-Fed: No Vanilla Ice

So many things to say about this train wreck. A full report on last night's Teen Choice Awards is forthcoming. But first, two thoughts on the Kevin Federline K-Fed finale. 1) Kinda makes you miss Vanilla Ice, doesn't it? 2) Wasn't it his dancing that got him close to Britney? Where's the dancing? Roll the clip!

MTV curse? Try MTV Faustian bargain

My vote for most overused incorrect phrase of the month: The so-called "MTV Curse." Most recently misused for the breakup of Travis Barker and Shanna Moakler from MTV's Meet the Barkers -- see Perez Hilton, E! Online (for that and previously, for the breakup last month of Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra of MTV's 'Til Death Do Us Part: Carmen and Dave), People magazine, even the New York Times (deep in this 25th anniversary thinkpiece on the channel formerly known as Music Television).

But it's not a curse. Nick and Jessica, Carmen and Dave, Travis and Shanna -- they did not do much of anything to cause the Gods to call evil down upon them.

Rather, we (the media and everyone else) should consider MTV a Faustian bargain. The couples referenced above sold their souls for a chance at greater fame and fortune. They all accomplished that. But they forgot that selling your soul means eternal happiness, well that doesn't always come along with fame and fortune. Just look at any of the dozens of young college students who left school for The Real World. Sure, you may recognize them. They may make money off of their MTV stint. But at what cost? For that matter, consider this list of MTV celebrities. Where are they now? And how happy are these people...

Pauly Shore? OK. Sorry. I started off with a biggie. Let's resume the list: Jesse Camp, Tom Green, the Osbourne kids (aside from the one daughter who didn't do the show), any of the old VJs. Carson Daly, anyone? The Jackass crew? Johnny Knoxville has gotten some bigger movie roles, but most of those have tanked. Ben Stiller and Jon Stewart are among the exceptions to this rule -- although, although! -- their MTV careers didn't go so well. Perhaps, then, if you become an MTV star, you're pretty much stuck.

Remember that, Cheyenne, Ashley Parker Angel and Ashlee Simpson. Remember that.

Drawing the line between Red Sox, Yankees fans

I grew up a Red Sox fan in Connecticut. But I always knew, especially reading the Hartford Courant, that there were Yankees and Mets fans somewhere in the vicinity. Today's New York Times includes a dispatch from John Branch, attempting to actually find the border between Red Sox Nation and Yankee Country. Their best guess?

Always suspected something was wrong with Torrington. Now I know what that something was. Actually, this is the kind of thing I might've attempted to figure out, NYT job or not, just for the absurdity of it -- although my way would've been even more maniacally absurd in its obsessive desire to map it out to the most accurate detail. Then again, that's just me. How about you? Posted by Picasa

If you haven't yet seen Snakes on a Plane -- perhaps you live on the West Coast, or perhaps you just didn't bother with the 10 p.m. debut screening Thursday -- and you want to fully enjoy it for the "Midnite Madness" experience you know it's going to be (and it is), then read this full review. One might call this a spoiler. I call it your cheat sheet! Because you can print out this post and bring it with you (that is, if you haven't committed it to memory!) and follow along with the movie and impress your friends!

At Loews Boston Common, the 10 p.m. screening crowd must've been 95 percent college-age. Some fans sported fake plastic snakes wrapped around their necks. One fan had an inflatable snake as a hat. That quickly got tossed about the audience as if it were a beach ball at Fenway Park. It prompted another movie critic to quip: "The movie had better be this fun."

And now...your feature presentation!
New Line title screen: Cheers! Further applause from the crowd when everyone realizes, no previews!
:01...More applause for the name on the screen: Samuel L. Jackson. Even more applause for the title: Snakes on a Plane. Camera pans along the shores of a Hawaiian island. Audience chants "snakes, snakes, snakes."
:03...Credits still rolling. Someone shouts: "Where are the snakes already?!"
:04...A Red Bull can. The shout: "Product placement!"
:05...Horribly awful rip-off of Al Capone and the baseball bat scene from The Untouchables. Lots of blood splatter. "Clean this up!" the bad guy says. Only they don't?
:06...Samuel L. Jackson to the rescue! Another wave of cheers and applause. (Someone two rows in front of me begins snapping flash photos. Really? Really.)
:07...The lone witness (Sean!) to the crazy murder in minute 5 tells Sam (er, Agent Flynn) that he didn't report the crime because he knew of police corruption, which he only learned on the TV news moments earlier, so that doesn't make any sense. But I digress.
:08...Sam delivers his first monologue. Note the familiar way he repeats the words "Make no mistake!" Sadly, no m-----f-----s in this speech.
:10...First appearance by Kenan Thompson as Troy. Applause. Kenan/Troy works for some rapper, who just told a little white boy, "Stay black!" Seriously. We also see the flight attendants. Julianna Margulies tells us it's her last flight and she hopes for no troubles. How cliche.
:14...David Koechner is the pilot. Or the co-pilot. Either way, the audience knows right away that there'll be some comic gold coming.
:18...The bad guy practices his martial arts. Tells a henchman: "You think I haven't exhausted every option!" Yes, only when you've exhausted all of your other options do you think of terrorizing a plane with poisonous snakes. He was going to go with sharks, but he couldn't figure out the logistics.
:21...The obviously gay flight attendant guy gets chuckles from the audience during the obligatory airplane safety speech. But it's the shot of the plane in the air that gets the round of applause.
:23...Your first scene with snakes!
:25...A shot of a countdown clock. T-minus 3 minutes! Count along, why dontcha?
:28...3...2...1...and they're out! The snakes are out! And what's this...SNAKE VISION! There goes the kitty! A young nubile couple heads for a bathroom to join the Mile High Club. But the guy also wants to smoke a joint. Do you smell trouble, too?
:29...You asked for it, you got your R-rated nudity. Boobies!
:30...MORE SNAKE VISION! SNAKES ON A JUGULAR! SNAKES ON JUGS! Two down, several more to go.
:31...Snakes are eating the wires. That prompts the first "Mayday!" from the cockpit.
:33...Another guy heads to the lavatory to take a leak. You know what's slithering up the toilet to greet him. SNAKES ON A PENIS! Other shots in the main cabin show more snakes sneaking up on unsuspecting passengers. One goes up the fat lady's dress. Ick. They wouldn't.
:40...Snakes ahoy! Put a snake over your own mouth, then over the mouth of the small child next to you. Then again, no. SNAKES IN A BARF BAG! SNAKES ON YOUR EYE!
:41...Sam's partner gets bit. And bit. And bit.
:42...Sam gets his first glimpse of a snake, and what does he do? Toss it aside! Then he Tasers two other snakey snakes! The crowd goes nuts!
:43...Passengers stampede up the aisle. One guy goes down. High heel in the ear! Hey, we thought this was snakes on a plane. No one warned us about high heel in the ear!
:44...The gay guy throws a snake in the microwave. "Who's dying now, bitch!" Hoots and hollers.
:45...Sam gives the passengers instructions. We all know who'd be in charge, didn't we?
:46...MORE SNAKE VISION! But the kickboxer comes to the hot girl's aid. Is he going to kick the snakes? No such luck. Maybe if you yell at him enough, he will. Or maybe they should reshoot that, too!
:50...Sam's partner dies. Is that a tear we see on your face? Sam, you're getting soft!
:51...Koechner gets off a funny line about if something doesn't happen fast, the plane is going down "like a Thai hooker." Obligatory query: Is there a doctor on this flight? Well, yes and no, my dear. Yes BUT no. Not any more.
:52...Sam delivers lines you heard in the trailer. Of all the gin joints in the world and all of the terror threats we planned for, we never planned for this. Or something like that. Get 'em, Bogey! Er, I mean Sam. Er, I mean Agent Flynn. Meanwhile, back in Coach...who's going to suck the venom out of the big black guy's ass. Aw, hell no!
:53...The nice Latina mother sucks the venom out of the little kid's arm. Big black guy says that's more like it.
:55...You want to fight off the snakes with sporks? SPORKS!
:58...Watch for Sam's response on the airphone: "Well, that's good news....Snakes on Crack!"
:59...What would you say if the snake geek on the other end of the phone says this to you: "Make it fast, time is tissue!" Instead, Sam gives the big we've all got to stick together speech you've seen and heard on most preview clips.
1:05...Even more snakes on the loose. Who invited the snake from Anaconda? Well, he's here. And he's hungry. SNAKE ON A DOG! SNAKE ON THE BAD BRITISH GUY'S HEAD!
1:08...What's this? The co-pilot is down, but not out!
1:14...You got my gun? Oh no, you didn't.
1:17...Why is it so dark all of a sudden? Who's the prankster who turned out the lights so we can't even see the motherf---ing snakes! No, he doesn't say this. Keep waiting.
1:20...Sam torches a few snakes. The power's back on.
1:21...We've found the Man With the Snake Plan. And we're not happy with you, sir. You and your dastardly plan. And ha, a snake bit you. Now I bet you'll help us, right. But first, a lame FBI agent repeats Sam's first speech from minute 8. Who does he think he is?
1:24...Everything's going to be OK?
1:26...Kenan with your gut so bright (because your shirt is so orange), won't you guide our sleigh tonight!
1:27...THE LINE YOU'VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR. Our crowd gives Samuel L. Jackson a standing O for saying the line the fans wanted him to say all along: "I've had it with these motherf---ing snakes on this motherf---ing plane!" What's your response?
1:28...You're going to shoot the windows? I suppose that's one way to get rid of the snakes. I don't know if that's the way I would've gone with that, considering we all could get sucked out of the plane, too, but hey, you're Samuel L. Jackson, so I'm just going to have to trust you on this one.
1:29...Kenan takes the wheel. "Aw, this s--- is bananas!" Yes, Kenan, it is.
1:34...The eagle has landed. I mean, the snake plane has landed!
1:36...As my colleague Jim just said, "What just happened?" Well, a main character seemingly dies without warning, but not really.
1:37...What do you mean, the gay guy isn't gay.
1:38...Maybe they should've called it Snakes on a Love Plane. It's a regular Love Connection around here.
1:39...Sam on a surfboard? Roll the credits! Cue the applause! And here's the music video from Cobra Starship, for "Bring It."
1:44...And now this is the fan song? Can barely hear the fan song over the fan racket as everyone files out and gives their insta-reviews.
1:45...As the credits end, the obligatory note that no animals were harmed during filming. Yeah, but what about the snakes? And the dignity of Hollywood? Oh, right.

UPDATE: Thanks for the link love, Trent! Come back Monday morning for my first-person experience at WWE's Summerslam.

If you want to see a review as a photo-caption essay, click on my work blog, Jokers Wild.

And another thing. Reading some of the other movie critics, methinks some of them forgot this essential fact. SoaP may be fun with a packed audience of crazies, but without them, it's just the cheeseball flick it turned out to be. I mean, really, if you're going to have a kickboxer on the plane, you better have the guy kick a snake in the face. Am I right? Of course I am. You were thinking the same thing. My colleague Jim and EW's Owen got it right. The AP got it wrong: "It's the best time you'll have at the movies all summer, if not all year." Really? Only if you're with a bunch of friends, and by bunch, I mean hundreds.

UPDATED AGAIN MONDAY: A friend alerted me that my comments function no worky. So if you want to comment, just e-mail me at seanlmccarthy@yahoo.com
Thanks for reading. Tell your friends. Keep coming back. All that.

Missing out on "urban journalism"

Saw a story today that linked to this site that supposedly tracks "urban journalism" and rewards/punishes certain metro papers for their local coverage. I say supposedly because, well, if you're going to claim to hand out Urban Journalism Awards, you might want to include some actual city papers. Yes, I have an inherent bias here, but the issue is larger than that.

Just look at the list of papers they're reading. Put aside the Boston situation (where the Herald certainly covers the city far more aggressively than the Globe, all other things considered). Look at the other metro markets.

The New York Times, but no Post or Daily News?
The Chicago Tribune, but no Sun-Times?
The Philly Inqurier, but no Daily News?

The surveyers acknowledge they read the Rocky Mountain News in addition to the Denver Post, so perhaps it's a bias against tabloid-format dailies? In their explanation for denying the Pulitzer-winning Rocky, the surveyers say this: "We don't count them in the Urban Journalism Awards because, while sometimes admirable in their coverage, they don't cover the region as comprehensively as the ones we count and we want the Urban Journalism Awards to be among comparable regional newspapers."

Ay, there's the rub. A survey of "urban journalism" that focuses on "regional newspapers." Why didn't you just say so in the first place so I could go back to ignoring you and your little irrelevant survey?

Do we even need to see Snakes on a Plane?

Good question. Glad I asked it. And the answer is...no, not really. It seems as though we've had a full calendar year to remark upon and mock the upcoming film, Snakes on a Plane, because it has been an entire year since Samuel L. Jackson kickstarted the Internet buzz machine. At the time, Jackson said everything you needed to know about the movie was its title. A year later, we've talked and mocked and talked and mocked so much about the film that its actual release is, well, almost besides the point.

Here is my story about it, in today's Boston Herald.

One of my colleagues (or was it something I read online?) wondered whether SoaP could start a new movie genre. Perhaps. But a filmmaking challenge in Austin, Texas, may have made that question moot. The challenge is called Blanks on a Blank, and it generated random combinations of animals and vehicle. So much so, that, Hollywood already may have missed the boat, too. "Hippos on a Segway," anyone? Already taken.

Slight tangent alert. YouTube.com was down earlier today! That meant no access to any YouTube videos -- quelle horror! It's back up now, which means I can link you to a couple of SoaP-related clips.

1. Samuel L. Jackson makes his 2007 MTV Movie Awards guarantee

2. To the tune of Paul McCartney and Wings, "Band on the Run"

3. The movie trailer

-- The official movie site for SoaP.
-- Snakes on a Blog

An old name in a new place

Sitting in my parents' kitchen this weekend, I had a chance to hear NPR, since they listen to NPR, and as they listened to "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me," I could've sworn I heard the announcer say the guest host was Luke Burbank. Now, when I lived and worked in the Seattle area, Luke Burbank was a radio intern and producer who wanted to be like Bill Radke. Burbank would show up at open mics at the Comedy Underground. Seemed like a nice enough guy then. Sure enough, it was that Luke Burbank. Good for him.

Chorizo joins the races!

You won't hear about this on the monthly jobs report, but Milwaukee added a new full-time job opening -- well, maybe part-time summer work. It's "Mr. Picante," the chorizo, who'll get a slot in the Milwaukee Brewers game-day sausage races.

For the history on the racing sausages, click here. The one thing I didn't quite understand, but saw on the Adfreak blog, was that actual fans get to put on the sausage unis and race around the field. Or do they? The link to Wikipedia says that it's normally Miller Park/Brewers employees underneath the giant sausage outfits, though sometimes celebs get to race. One odd thing I learned in most news reports on this subject -- Major League Baseball won't approve a new mascot mid-season, so the chorizo will have to wait until 2007.

Some people don't even know what a chorizo is. I can say I've known for years, as a fan of Midnight Run..."Chorizo and eggs!" Posted by Picasa

Pink camo? Menothinkso.

I just watched a Back-to-School segment on one of the local TV news channels. Should I have confessed that? Probably not. But of the many things wrong with this segment (little kids who seem a little too familiar with model poses, among them), this stuck out. Apparently, sixth-grade girls should be going to school wearing pink camouflage. No matter what the age...pink camouflage? Is that an oxymoron? Whom are you hiding from in pink camo? And what are you hiding in -- a flock of pink flamingos? Might as well be a Flock of Seagulls, as far as I'm concerned. You're not conning me or the daughters I don't have into buying pink camo.

Sierra Mist predicts the future!?

One of the funnier Super Bowl commercials this year featured comedians Kathy Griffin and Jim Gaffigan as airport security workers, giving Michael Ian Black the wand treatment over his Sierra Mist bottle. How could they have known that seven months later, you couldn't get soda pop through airport security?

A little eerie, eh? I also posted this on my Jokers Wild blog, because, well, this is the funny bidness, and both Griffin and Gaffigan are on comedy tours right now that'll bring them through Boston again in the next few weeks.

So...is this funnier now that life imitates art? Or just eerie?

Pepsi must really hate jazz

Finally saw the Jazz Diet Pepsi bottles in Boston the other day. The first time I saw them in my local grocery store (the photo below comes from Foodie's -- and if you look closely, you can see me sneak into the shot), I did a double-take. Does that bottle really say Jazz on it? Why yes, yes it does. Is this some sort of a trick? Well...

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The BevNet team gave the new soda pop beverages (it comes in Black Cherry & French Vanilla or Strawberries & Cream) OK marks. Not great, but OK. I didn't want to buy a 2-liter bottle of the cherry/vanilla, so I found a 20-ouncer of strawberries and cream to make up my own mind. And methinks this must be a trick. Either that, or PepsiCo must really hate jazz. Or, failing that, the PepsiCo vision of jazz includes Jazzercise with jazz hands and all that jazz, defiling the musical art form of Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and other true greats. Maybe it's part of their "jazz for a new generation" hidden motto? Regardless, the first sip produces a strong kick of strawberries and cream, as if Pepsi really wants you to know they weren't kidding about the flavor. But that sensation lasts less than a second, when a wave of slightly off-kilter diet cola aftertaste comes crashing onto your taste buds. The collision produces a lingering taste that makes you want for Robitussin. And not just because you have a desire for a coughing fit. Is that harsh? I could've just said, "Not a fan." But I jazzed up my review. Went a little improv. A little off beat. How do you like that?

This just in: Dat Phan, still unfunny

Dat Phan (you remember him, the Vietnamese-American kid who came out from nowhere -- well, actually out from under his desk and his job working at the Improv -- to win the first season of Last Comic Standing) finally got another chance at primetime TV.

So what does he do?

Five minutes. At least three minutes of which were in a faux Asian accent. And at least four minutes of which contained zero laughs.

Who is Dat Phan trying to fool?

How many TV talent shows is too many?

You get home from work, you think ah, the weather finally is beautiful, so why are you inside? Because you have so many TV talent shows to keep track of -- in the next couple of hours, Last Comic Standing, Rock Star: Supernova, So You Think You Can Dance, America's Got Talent, and then there's an ad for Star Tomorrow, and another ad for Big Brother. Ack. I could watch the Red Sox-Royals game. But I'm not sure I'm psychologically ready for that kind of reality TV tonight!

Big Brother All-Stars fake out!

So I finally caught a Sunday episode of Big Brother 7, and boy, does my head hurt! Who do these producers think they are? Let me explain.

In the HoH competition, James falls early enough to win one of the mystery eggs. In his egg, he earns the power to nullify an eviction vote. OK? Ready to follow along. Later in the show (culled from footage shot between Thursday's live shot and Sunday), Danielle suggests she'll nominate Janelle and James for eviction (and does so), claiming that James is the King of Veto competitions and is one of the few who can stop Janelle from winning tonight's Veto contest. James balks at the plan. Then, on camera, James tells us that he's worried about being put up on the block, because that means he can be voted out. True enough, EXCEPT he has the power to nullify an eviction vote! How come no one points that out? Could it be? Could it be? Why yes, CBS is trying to trick us into forgetting that little tidbit! The online recap carries on the deception: "James is still nervous. Is he being betrayed with his own scheme?" Even my blogging friend Reality Blurred seemingly fell for this, according to his recap.

The next episode airs at 8 p.m. tonight EDT, so keep your eyes peeled for further deception on the network's part.

Rhymes with brats?

Here's a nominee for Gawker's "Great Moments in Journalism" file: In today's Globe, Sasha Talcott describes how the New England Patriots are taking a page out of the Fenway Franks playbook and slapping their football team name on such tailgate-friendly items as hot dogs, sausages and bratwurst. Sounds so simple, you'd wonder why other NFL teams hadn't thought of it before. And yet, the Pats would be first. Read the story here.

A sentence that just begs for attention and doesn't get it: "NASCAR last year launched a line of hot dogs and sausages -- and even created NASCAR bologna. The slogan: 'Taste the excitement.' " Yummy?!

But here's the part that made me pause and think, some editor must've made her do it: "Another submission for bratwurst, "Pats brats" sounded good in theory. But there was a catch: Fans might be way too tempted to pronounce it "brats" (as in spoiled children) because it would rhyme with "Pats." (Pronounced correctly, brats rhymes with cots.)"

Crazy as it sounds, though, I bet more than a few readers found themselves saying, "Oh, I didn't know that!" at the end of that paragraph. Those readers should then be sent to Wisconsin for punishment (just kidding, in case my friends from Madison are reading this, only I'm not really kidding, because I'd like to see how the Cheeseheads react to someone mispronouncing bratwurst...would they be friendly or not?).

The glossy mags have realized the importance of camera phones -- just look at all of the photos that got published in the past week for coverage of Mel Gibson's relapse. People mag has a shot inside its pages of several bar patrons in Mexico wielding cell phone cameras earlier this year as Gibson caused a ruckus. I don't have a shot of Gibson. But below, see how close I got to Ben Affleck on Saturday when he held a press conference in Dorchester on his final day of production for Gone, Baby Gone.

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A clickaround reminder

You may have stopped by last week and noticed little in the way of new posts here. Hopefully, you've clicked around the tabs above -- particularly the Jokers Wild and Boston Herald tabs -- to see what I've been writing. While I seemingly have slacked off here, I have been posting regularly on the Jokers Wild blog, and the Herald's interactive people also added a new feature on most stories: A handy link to recent articles by that reporter. It looks something like this. Here is a recap of my recent Herald handiwork, looking back from today (links available)...

Today: An interview with Nicolas Cage (World Trade Center)
Sunday: An interview with Oliver Stone plus John and Donna McLoughlin (World Trade Center)
Friday: A roundup of free fun to be had around Boston
Friday: An interview with morning radio duo Opie and Anthony about their Traveling Virus comedy show
Wednesday: An interview with Will Ferrell (Talladega Nights)
Wednesday: A look at what makes a video a hit on YouTube.com
Tuesday: Five reasons MTV might not want to celebrate its 25th birthday
July 29: An interview with "Claymation" guy Will Vinton about his art exhibit on display in Brookline
July 29: Interviews with Gilbert Gottfried and Brian Kiley
July 27: A look at why the Museum of Science's Body Worlds exhibit will be popular
July 27: A comparison of the Miami Vice combos, TV's Crockett and Tubbs vs. movie's Crockett and Tubbs
July 26: A review of the book, "Babylon By Bus"
July 21: An interview with Robby Roadsteamer
July 16: An interview with Kevin Smith (Clerks II)
July 14: What do comedians and ice-cream makers have to do with the Big Dig woes?
July 14: An interview with Bill Burr
July 13: Review of the Hot Stove, Cool Music concert at Fenway Park
July 11: Interview with Red Sox g.m. Theo Epstein

Joe Francis Goes Wild

I'm not the first to post to this weekend's Los Angeles Times takeout -- and I mean takeout -- on Girls Gone Wild's megamogul Joe Francis, but I have some thoughts beyond the snark. To wit:

-- Notice how reporter Claire Hoffman not only went the first-person route to describe her encounters with Francis (and her high-school memories of boys!), but also took the photos in the accompanying gallery.

-- Notice how the LAT takes a big dig at Page Six.

-- Notice how Hoffman further personalizes the experience, not only with her own assault at the hands of Francis, but also by illustrating what happened to two naive 18-year-old girls.

-- Notice, too, how she takes your basic profile of Francis, which should remind you of Ariel Levy's book, "Female Chauvinist Pigs," and updates it with fresh news, perspective and analysis.

And that brings us back to this Popular Thinking take on it in October 2005 when I talked to Levy and others about teen girls and the man-boys who want to take advantage of them.

MTV's first days of August 1981

And now, some video memories from MTV, which debuted on cable TV on Aug. 1, 1981.

Welcome to MTV! Meet the original VJs.

The first ad campaign: "I want my MTV!"

The other ad campaign: "I saw you on MTV"

RELATED: Stereogum jots down the first-day playlist here.

It's hotter than Arizona?!@#$%^&*!

Mish Michaels has her handy portable digital thermometer on the air tonight (11 p.m. news on CBS4Boston), and as she explains Wednesday's expected heat index: 102 degrees plus 75 degree dew point equals "feels like" 115! And for a moment, I wish I were back in Arizona. At least there, 115 felt like 105. And if that makes any sense to you, then perhaps you're suffering from delusional heat visions, too...

A split screen for heat? At night?

I don't get it. Watching Rock Star: Supernova and WBZ-TV (aka CBS4Boston) keeps going to a split screen for its "XTREME HEAT" coverage to show us...the Boston skyline at night? Just putting up the temperature should suffice, you would think. Unless. Unless...does heat show up better onscreen at night? A shot of the Pru doesn't remind me how hot it is as much as my lack of central A/C in my apartment does. Fans and window units only help so much. Maybe they should split the screen to a bunch of A/C units working overtime!

MTV's 25th unbirthday

I watched some of the old 1981 MTV videos this morning on VH1 Classic -- they're airing the first-day footage (except for commercials and most VJ stuff, when they sub in current ads and segments with a VH1 Classic VJ). Of course, they didn't have a lot to choose from in the beginning. Saw the same David Bowie video twice in a couple of hours. A few selections from The Who, Split Enz, REO Speedwagon, Lee Ritenour and other artists who already had music videos in the can. I think it would've been even odder, yet more amusing and entertaining, to include the original VJ and '81 commercials. But then again, MTV itself wasn't making too much of its 25th birthday and anniversary today. Aug. 1, 1981. Video Killed The Radio Star.

In today's Herald, I offered five reasons why MTV might not be so keen on remembering its past: Jesse Camp, the pre Punk'd show that got them sued, the two "fire" incidents from Beavis and Butt-Head and Jackass, Milli Vanilli, and 2ge+her.

But here are more infamous moments in MTV history:
- It took two years for a black artist to get airplay on MTV, and that black artist was Michael Jackson.
- The network made a big deal out of having Guns N Roses as its big surprise finale at the 2002 VMAs, only the big surprises were that Axl had a new band, that Axl was out of shape, and that he couldn't make it through two songs.
- Woodstock 99
- MTV Films first major motion picture, Joe's Apartment?
- The sham of a mockery of a sham that was the Michael Jackson-Lisa Marie Presley kiss.
- Carson Daly. Have you seen his late-night talker recently? No? Good. Don't bother.
- Deciding that the first season of The Real World was a little too real and real meant boring, producers mixed things up in future seasons and began coming up with their own ideas, jobs, mini-dramas and obstacle courses for their participants, and all of "reality" TV followed suit.
- 2004, Vote or Die. How'd that work out?
- I Want A Famous Face.
- MTV produced the "Nipplegate" halftime show at the Super Bowl in 2004, hyping up the big shocker beforehand then denying all knowledge afterward.
- Similarly, beating a hasty retreat in the face of Madonna's videos for "Justify My Love" and "Erotica"
- Jerry Springer at Spring Break
- Pauly Shore at Spring Break, or anywhere else? Why would we want "the weasel," again?
- The soap opera "Undressed." (They decided years later to go with real people in fake soap operas with Laguna Beach, with much better luck)
- Cutting out the Madonna kiss with Xtina, just to get a shot of Justin Timberlake reacting to the first Madonna kiss with Britney. You know the Xtina kiss had more potential, but you'll never know for sure.
- Changing Club MTV to The Grind with Real World original Eric.
- Resurrecting the careers of Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, which in turn gave everyone else the idea to let MTV film their lives.
- Speaking of which, Til Death Do Us Part, Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro?
Are we at 25 yet?
Should we really keep going, anyhow? I didn't think so.

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