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Archives for August, 2003

August 29, 2003

Which one's the pole?

Daniel Radosh

Which one's the pole?

August 29, 2003

Welcome visitors from CounterPunch. I

Daniel Radosh

Welcome visitors from CounterPunch. I think there's plenty of stuff you'll find of interest on my site, but if you want to jump right to the story behind that nude photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger (and see the photo again), it's here. And here's a followup.

August 29, 2003

Music Club: The Motion Picture.

Daniel Radosh

Music Club convened last night to spin songs by movie or TV stars. Numbers from musical productions account for a big chunk of the entries, perhaps not surprisingly. Because we had a small summer turnout, there was room for a couple of people's back-up songs. Bill Cosby's deranged funk Dope Pusher, from the Grammy-winning 1971 album Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs, was Francis's back-up and our only so-bad-it's-funny entry. My pick was Dan Rather's gloomy news-rap, assembled by The Evolution Control Committee, a discovery from Carrie's fabulous Illegal Art exhibit (do yourself a favor and right-click to download the MP3). I was also glad to be able to include my back-up, Kirsten Dunst's lovely rendition of the jazz-age standard After You've Gone, from The Cat's Meow soundtrack.

1. Movin' Right Along — Kermit the Frog & Fozzy Bear
2. Road to Morocco — Bob Hope & Bing Crosby
3. A Little Girl from Little Rock — Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell
4. That Old Black Magic — Kevin Spacey
5. After You've Gone — Kirsten Dunst
6. Green Acres — Eddie Albert & Eva Gabor
7. I've Got a Theory — Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast
8. Rocked By Rape — The Evolution Control Committee feat. Dan Rather
9. Dope Pusher — Bill Cosby

Next month: Songs about musical instruments. Lots of possibilities here. I already have three strong contenders, but I'd like to hear your suggestions. Extra points for unusual instruments, as two of my top three are about guitars.

August 28, 2003

I was all set to

Daniel Radosh

I was all set to embrace TMFTML's praise for Radosh.net as my new motto: "Much more than just pictures of Conan's cock." But then along came The Smoking Gun with this penisriffic 1977 intervew with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and we're back to the subject people love best.

There's been some debate about my quip that Arnold has "nothing to be ashamed of." Was I too generous? (For the record, I was limiting my remarks to the subject at hand; obviously he has some things to be ashamed of). Fortunately for us, OUI asked Arnold pretty much that exact question!

When Manso asked, "Is your cock disproportionate to the rest of you?" Schwarzenegger replied, "Well, that depends on what you mean by disproportionate. The cock isn't a muscle, so it doesn't grow in relation to the shoulders, say, or the pectorals. You can't make it bigger through exercise, that's for sure." He added that "women have told me they're curious about its size--you know, outgoing chicks who're just trying to be outrageous or horny. I hear all kind of lines, including 'Oh, you're hurting me; you're so big.' But it means nothing. Bodybuilders' cocks are the same size as everyone else's."

He is, however, confident enough to participate in a gang bang: "Not everybody can fuck in front of other guys. Some think that they don't have a big-enough cock, so they can't get a hard-on."

Arnold even discusses the naked photos he'd later try so hard to suppress: "Recently I posed for a gay magazine, which caused much comment. But it doesn't bother me." TSG spotlights other juicy material about Arnold's comfort with his sexuality, but you have to read the whole interview to see that Arnold's fabled instincts about his film career weren't always so accurate:

"I realize there's only one Arnold in the world, and there's never been an Arnold before, and the one thing that won't work on the screen is my being an ass-kicker. If Robert De Niro kills in Taxi Driver, it's perfect, because he's a little guy and people are 100 percent behind him. For me, that isn't the right kind of role, because I'm big and therefore I have to play the opposite kind of guy... I should probably play the victim."

Arnold Schwarzenegger is... The Terminated!

August 27, 2003

You know some Jewish lawyer's gonna get it thrown out on a technicality.

Daniel Radosh

This would be funny if it weren't... Oh, hell, it's just funny. Egyptian Jurists to Sue 'The Jews' for Compensation for 'Trillions' of Tons of Gold Allegedly Stolen During Exodus from Egypt.

"... Since the Jews make various demands of the Arabs and the world, and claim rights that they base on historical and religious sources, a group of Egyptians in Switzerland has opened the case of the so-called 'great exodus of the Jews from Pharaonic Egypt.' At that time, they stole from the Pharaonic Egyptians gold, jewelry, cooking utensils, silver ornaments, clothing, and more, leaving Egypt in the middle of the night with all this wealth, which today is priceless."

The suggestion that the Jews looted during the Exodus made for lively debate at Passover last spring, given the timing, but I certainly wouldn't want to build a court case around such ambiguous evidence.

This interview with Dr. Nabil Hilmi about what he calls "the greatest collective fraud history has ever known" (suck it, Enron!) is a masterpiece of antisemitism that makes Mel Gibson look like a pisher (at least until he tries to sue the Jews for wrongful death).

"A police investigation revealed that Moses and Aaron, peace be upon them, understood that it was impossible to live in Egypt, despite its pleasures and even though the Egyptians included them in every activity, due to the Jews' perverse nature, to which the Egyptians had reconciled themselves, though with obvious unwillingness. Therefore, an order was issued by the Jewish rabbis to flee the country, and that the exodus should be secret and under cover of darkness and with the largest possible amount of loot. The code word was 'At midnight.' In addition, the Jewish women were told to steal the gold and cooking utensils of the Egyptian women, and that is what happened."

After pausing a moment to savor that bit about a police investigation, let's move on to this rather blithe dismissal of legend's most notorious enslavement. Thank you, Pharaoh, for generously including us in every activity, too bad the whole slaying of our sons thing makes it impossible to live here, despite its pleasures.

Then you have to wonder if these guys can't even get decent paralegals, who might be able to tell them that it's unlikely "the Jewish rabbis" gave any orders about anything, since the idea of "rabbi" wouldn't even begin to develop until the Talmudic era. (One might also point out that the use of the word "Jews" is somewhat anachronistic too. Really, who's preparing this brief?) Meanwhile, I'm not sure where the cooking utensil thing comes in. It seems to be an iffy interpretation of a rare translation of a word more commonly rendered as articles or things (Fox goes with "objects." The always lovely and usually wrong King James has it as "jewels"). Yet these bozos have managed to latch onto the mistranslation and spin an elaborate theory around it:

"Taking posession of the gold was understandable. This is clear theft of a host country's resources and treasure, something that fits the morals and character of the Jews. Yet what was not clear to the Egyptian women were the reasons for stealing the cooking utensils, when other things may have been of greater value. However, one of the Egyptian priets said that this had been the Jews' twisted way throughout history; they seek to cause a minor problem connected with the needs of everyday life so as to occupy people with these matters and prevent them from pursuing them to get back the stolen gold."

Finally, let's get down to the brass tacks. How much do we owe the Egyptians (before we turn around and countersue for back pay for building the pyramids?)

"If we assume that the weight of what was stolen was one ton [its worth] doubled every 20 years, even if the annual interest is only 5%. In one ton of gold is 700 kg of pure gold and we must remember that what was stolen was jewelry, that is, alloyed with copper. Hence, after 1,000 years, it would be worth 1,125,898,240 million tons, which equals 1,125,898 billion tons for 1,000 years. In other words, 1,125 trillion tons of gold, that is, a million multiplied by a million tons of gold. This is for one stolen ton. The stolen gold is estimated at 300 tons, and it was not stolen for 1,000 years, but for 5,758 years, by the Jewish reckoning. Therefore, the debt is very large.

All that math and he ends up with "very large"?! Don't try to get away with that on the SAT, buddy. Is it worth mentioning that this 300 ton estimate is pulled out of his ass? No, because it's time to move on to the punchline. Ready?

"There may be a compromise solution. The debt can be rescheduled over 1,000 years, with the addition of the cumulative interest during that period."

So there you have it, he's fair and balanced after all.

Good thing there's nothing in the Bible where Jews, or other people, or, say, an omnipotent deity, does anything actually violent, or we'd never get out of court.

August 26, 2003

It's a lost cause, I

Daniel Radosh

It's a lost cause, I know, but please, journalist types, stop saying that 50 million people lost power in the blackout. It's a nice round number, but it's wrong. Don't make me e-mail Romenesko.

August 26, 2003

First photo of Earth from

Daniel Radosh

First photo of Earth from Mars. Taken in May. When you're looking at the red planet tonight, who's looking back at you?

August 26, 2003

Cable a la carte. Here's

Daniel Radosh

Cable a la carte. Here's one of those ideas that's so common-sense, it never even occurred to me. Why should I pay for the Little League World Series when all I want is Reno 911?

August 23, 2003

The evolutionary benefits of celebrity

Daniel Radosh

The evolutionary benefits of celebrity worship. A slightly more interesting take on this subject is in the print-only 8/16 New Scientist. Yes, goes this theory, we evolved to pay extra attention the lives of celebrities, but not because they are good role models or want to copy them. According to Robert Dunbar of the Univ. of Liverpool, "It is to do with monitoring freeloaders -- ensuring that people don't enjoy the benefits of society without paying their dues. Society invests a lot in celebrities, so we should constantly monitor them to make sure they are not exploiting us. 'Gossip is a reputation management thing.'"

Of course, you can take celebrity worship too far, and I for one, would like to know where I fall on the recently devised Celebrity Attitude Scale. I'm a plenty busy guy, though, so I hope someone will take the questions at the appendix of this journal article ("If I were lucky enough to meet my favorite celebrity, and he/she asked me to do something illegal as a favor, I would probably do it.") and code it into a nice and easy interactive test. Let me know when that's up and running, will ya?

August 22, 2003

Mars was 'always cold and

Daniel Radosh

Mars was 'always cold and frozen'. Also, it never picked up the tab. We are so better off without it.

August 20, 2003

If you're gonna sell out, sell high.

Daniel Radosh

I wasn't going to publicly admit to my new part-time gig — relaunching a magazine for AT&T Wireless —because, hey, it's a strictly mercenary thing and I didn't think I'd have too much interesting to say about it anyway. But today I'm writing an article on moblogging and I stumble onto a story that actually made me think there might be more to this trend than a flurry of breathless articles. Though of course, I'm turning it into a breathless article. Here's my lede:

Picture this. You're walking through the streets of Tokyo when you hear a tiny noise — a frightened meow. You coax the kitten out from hiding. It's bedraggled but adorable, with white fur, a pink nose, and shining blue eyes. You'd love to take it home, but you're moving back to the States in four days. And you already have two cats. What are you going to do?

Here's what Mie Kennedy did. She snapped a few shots of the kitty with her camera phone and posted them to her web site, TokyoTidbits.com. By the next morning, a smitten stranger had e-mailed offering to adopt. Mie's next series of photos showed the cat snuggling with its new owner.

Seriously, how can you not like a fad that saves a kitten's life?

August 16, 2003

What would we do without experts?

Daniel Radosh

"Experts say corporate networks may or may not notice performance degradation when Blaster awakes at midnight to take aim at windowsupdate.com." —Information Week.

(Hey, someone's gotta pick up the slack while Taranto is on vacation.)

August 16, 2003

"One night without electricity, and

Daniel Radosh

"One night without electricity, and they are complaining." Iraqis — who know from blackouts — weigh our odds for getting the grid up and running again: "If the American government is involved, you must be prepared to be patient. They work very slowly," says one. Another says we should get Saddam on the job: "With his methods, you would have electricity right away, but you must expect to lose some workers."

August 15, 2003

Beautiful NYC blackout photos. To

Daniel Radosh

Beautiful NYC blackout photos. To make up for the ones I didn't take.

August 15, 2003

"I view it as a

Daniel Radosh

"I view it as a wake-up call," Bush told reporters, adding that the massive blackout was "an indication we need to modernize the electricity grid." Actually, the wake-up call came last year, when congressional Democrats were prevented from spending $350 million to upgrade the grid. As of yesterday, Mr. President, you've officially overslept.

August 15, 2003

Jack Shafer's flattering plug for

Daniel Radosh

Jack Shafer's flattering plug for my 1998 meta-satirical-investigation of trendspotting inspired me to dig out some material that got cut from the final version of that piece, but that deserves to be seen. I spent many hours in the fantastic Time Inc. library looking through back issues of Time, and I rewarded that institution's generosity with its resources by holding it up to ridicule. But not quite as much ridicule as I'd originally intended. Specifically, I ended up discarding a lengthy tangent about how poorly trend story predictions hold up over the long run, and, obversely, how contemporary trend writers must ignore the work of the predecessors in order to make their own points. Here are those missing passages:

Technology in particular feeds a fear of the future that trend journalism is always enthusiastic to address, despite its dismal track record. "Even the most moderate estimates of automation's progress show that millions of people will have to adjust to leisurely, 'nonfunctional' lives," predicted Time in 1965.

Even when accurate, forecasters frequently miss the point. Another 1965 Time article, "The Communications Explosion," raised the "frightening thought...that every man on earth will eventually have his own telephone number and will carry personal apparatus that will permit him to be called, even by people who have no idea where he may be." The truly frightening development that Time fumbled, of course, is that every man on earth will become rudely oblivious to his surroundings while yapping away on his apparatus in the middle of a busy sidewalk.

Delehanty believes that "technoromantic" and "technoapocalyptic" trend stories "rarely take into consideration the unpredictable human factor." Nor, for that matter, do many human-interest trend stories. A 1965 Time essay on "Today's Teen-Agers" avowed that "marijuana [is] out," "free sex [is] nowhere near at hand," and "the classic conflict between parents and children is letting up." Which times are a-changin'?

[snip]

Conceivably, a knowledge of past trends hobbles our ability to draw meaning from current ones—or to pat our backs about how far we've come. In a 1984 Time article on "The New Concern with Civility," Judith "Miss Manners" Martin laughed at how in 1978 her boss told her that "etiquette was dead." He must not have seen the 1978 Time cover on "America's New Manners." Come to think of it, would we today be quite so pleased about Ellen DeGeneres and Rupert Evrett if we recalled that Time first proclaimed, "homosexuality is the vogue" back in 1969?

Trend stories prophesy the past the same way they do the future: based entirely on what we believe about the present. When the author of Time's "Everybody's Hip" essay excoriates Woodstock '94 as "a triumph of salesmanship over spirit," he harkens back to the original Woodstock and its flock's "heartfelt rejection of the mainstream." Few would argue with him, but then few remember his magazine's early 1971 lament that youth culture had become "diluted by Woolworth hippies [and] limped through the past two years a paranoid, fragmented version of its former self" [emphasis mine]. The hipster who moaned, "The music was adulterated and repackaged and sold to us like hamburgers" was not talking about Woodstock '94, he was, in '71, referring to the now-sanctified Monterey Pop Festival.

Or read Esquire on do-me feminism a few years back. Susie Bright wonders, "What happened to the joyful '70s exploration of Our Bodies Ourselves? When did that take-off-your-top-and-smash-the-state feeling die?" Perhaps it was when college students told Time they felt "uneasy about their almost unlimited new sexual license" and some detected "a new puritanism." In other words, 1972. Boomer trend writers of the '90s commonly find themselves yearning for the solid values of their parents' day, but in 1964 Time saw that parents had "only the tattered remnants of a code." And between 1990 and 1997, Generation X changed from "a back to basics bunch that wishes life could be simpler" to one that said, "material things...are really important to me"; from a generation that grew up with "Reagan's message: problems can be shelved until later," to one for whom "the message of the [Reagan] Administration [was] do-it-yourself, no-one-is-going-to-look-out-for-me-but-me."

August 15, 2003

I did not have my

Daniel Radosh

I did not have my digital camera on me yesterday (some photographer I am), so you'll get no pictures from my long walk home (Canal St. to 93rd, about 5 1/2 miles) through the blacked-out city. But of course, you're not here for that, are you? No, like the other 10,000 visitors I've been getting these past couple of days (my usual average is 50) you're here for the photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger nude. Who can blame you? And if you come away from that picture, thinking, "Sure, he's hung like a grandfather clock (at least, he was until the steroids had their way with him), but how firm was his tushie back in the mid-70s?" David D. was kind enough to forward this image by way of preemptive reply. And this one, though God help me, I have no idea what question that's supposed to answer.

August 13, 2003

The New York Post has

Daniel Radosh

The New York Post has an item about this site today. That won't be news to a significant majority of you who probably found the site after reading the Post (scroll down a few inches or click here for that photo you came to see) but I thought both my regular readers would want to know.

After reading the Post, Gina's response was: "You need media training." Yeah, as a frickin' professional journalist myself, you'd think I'd know that when you talk to a reporter, you should only say one thing over and over, because they're only gonna use one quote, and if you say more than one thing, they'll inevitably use the wrong one. Did I really say, "One of my main motivations was to have people remember Spy magazine"? Yeah, I guess so. And if I'd just not used the word "main" that would have been better, though still odd as the only quote in the article. (My real main motivation -- duh -- was to generate traffic.) And what about, "People freaked out"? What the hell does that mean? Well, nothing out of context. The question had to do with whether I was worried about getting in trouble with Arnold. "I remember when we were debating whether to publish it in Spy," I said, "And people freaked out about what he was going to do." (Nothing, as it happened. What could he do?)

I don't at all blame reporter David K. Li for any of this by the way. He was nice enough to call and read my quotes back to me before filing. The editors ended up with only about a quarter of what Li wrote, however, and I'm the one who came out looking dopey (though it's mostly my fault for saying dopey things. Where does one get media training anyway?)

The "main motivation" soundbite was part of a discussion about whether posting the photo and Spy article was a political gesture on my part. Not really. Honestly, the idea that voters will -- or even should -- care about Schwarzenegger's various sins seems silly to me. Other than the Enron connection, how is any of this gossipy stuff related to his ability to govern California? (Though I wouldn't advise eating is not cheating as a campaign slogan). That's not saying I think Arnold would make a good governor, but I don't know that he'd be worse than any other empty suit. Frankly, Cali, you're on your own. For those who do care, MeFi has a pithy roundup of all the Arnold dirt.

August 12, 2003

What's next? "It's Turkey Time!" on the Gigli poster?

Daniel Radosh

Here's an actual ad for Masked and Anonymous.

Sorry, but is this really the best tag line? Especially for a movie with, um, mixed reviews? Even hardcore Dylan fans acknowledge its reputation. (My exchange with the ticket taker went like this: Me: "One for Masked and Anonymous." Him: "It's a great movie." Me: "No, I said Masked and Anonymous.")

The tag happens to be a quote from the movie, which I'm not sure makes it any better. Personally, I think most people got this film wrong. I'm not going to make any grand claims for it. Certainly it's for fans only, and yes, it's an, incoherent mess. But the particular rap it's gotten, that it's cheap, antiquated surrealism, clichéd allegory, labored aphorisms and overblown portentousness, is 180 degrees wrong. I think it's pretty clearly a goofy let's-get-together-and-put-on-a-show lark. Naturally a lot of it crashes and burns, but nobody's taking themselves too seriously, so that's no big deal. And some of it is pretty hilarious. Plus, the music is scorching. Too bad only half of it is on the CD.

August 12, 2003

Slate's Jack Shafer is on

Daniel Radosh

Slate's Jack Shafer is on a roll with two and a half stories (so far) about bogus trendspotting. Is there really a rise in teen prostitution? And is that where teens are getting the money to do their own back-to-school shopping? The media neither know nor care, as long as it sounds good. But, hey, if there's one thing that's always trendy, it's the fabulous trend of writing stories about trends.

August 11, 2003

Arnold Schwarzenekkid!

Daniel Radosh

Lately, embarrassing photos of Arnold Schwarzenegger have been popping up left and right. Here's the one he really doesn't want you to see (though he's got nothing to be ashamed of)...


You're looking at a genuine, guaranteed 100% unaltered photograph of the next governor of California butt naked nude and proud of it. One story is that it originally appeared in a German magazine. In any case, it's out there and Arnold knows it.

I have it, of course, because it appeared in the March, 1992 issue of Spy magazine, my employer at the time. Nearly as interesting as the picture was the article that it accompanied. Until the famous Premiere expose (back-up link) by former Spy pit bull John Connolly that scuttled Arnold's nascent run in 2001, this article by Charles Fleming was the most serious attempt to puncture the Terminator's spin machine to date -- and it knew whereof it spoke. "By all accounts," Fleming wrote, "he hopes to run for governor of California."

Much of the article focuses on how Arnold's handlers bully magazines and TV stations into only giving him positive coverage. It's nothing that would shock anyone today, largely because Spy did such a good job 11 years ago letting everyone know that this is how Hollywood works. But there's other tidbits in here worth reading again. Fleming points out that it's not only the media that Arnold manipulates. He funnels big money to Jewish charities in order to mitigate his support for Kurt Waldheim and his father's membership in the Nazi party. "So what if the rumors -- confirmed for Spy by a businessman and longtime friend of Arnold's -- that in the 1970s he enjoyed playing and giving away records of Hitler's speeches are true? The Wiesenthal Center dinner still makes perfect sense. As one guest said of the gathered moguls, 'Arnold's very big right now, and everybody wants to work with him. Besides, this is Hollywood, and these guys would hire Hitler if it meant making money.' And Arnold is nowhere near as bad as Hitler!"

Then there's the bit about Arnold inviting his friends to look for girls "who will perform an act Arnold calls 'polishing the helmet.'... 'It's not being unfaithful. It's only some plo-jobs,'" says Arnold in Spy's cute approximation of his accent. Additional dirt comes from Wendy Leigh's unauthorized biography of Arnold, and Fleming tells some funny stories about Arnold's failed attempts to quash that book, which delves into steroid use, among other things. How concerned is Arnold about his image? "His current obsession is with pictures that show him holding a cigar, since he thinks it ill suits the head of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports to be seen smoking. So let's get this straight: A man who took huge amounts of steroids becomes head of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, but his main worry is that people will think he smokes cigars. If cigars are Arnold's fitness scandal, then he really has mad the steroid problem go away."

But it's at the end of the piece that things get interesting for those of us in 2003. "If Arnold really believe it is his right to do whatever stories he wants to do, though, he's in for a rude shock. In a race for the governorship or a Senate seat, 'the real press will eat him alive,' as one magazine editor says. A longtime associate of Arnold's agrees. '[Running for office] isn't like doing a PR campaign for a movie. If there is anything at all unpleasant in his background, [the press] will go after it like animals.'"

Were we really that innocent in 1992? To think that running for office was not like doing PR for a movie? Ah, idealistic youth. As the press continues to fawn of Arnold, count it as one more reminder that despite its best efforts, Spy lost the war.


Spy says: "The most embarrassing photo of Arnold we could find: Taken for a California magazine. The outfit, the 'Goin' my way?' grin -- why wasn't this suppressed?"

August 11, 2003

Here's a headline that kinda

Daniel Radosh

Here's a headline that kinda reminded me of another headline.

August 8, 2003

Harry Potter and the rise

Daniel Radosh

Harry Potter and the rise of children's literature. Just how popular are the Harry Potter books? What was the first children's book? What gets kids' books banned from school? These questions and more answered in my latest briefing for The Week.

August 8, 2003

The George W. Bush naval

Daniel Radosh

The George W. Bush naval aviator action figure. With kung-fu crotch. Buy 'em before they go AWOL.

August 8, 2003

The debate over the Gospel

Daniel Radosh

The debate over the Gospel According to Mel has gotten me blowing the dust off my diploma (double major in English and religion, a fact few of my friends know) and thinking about matters I'd long put aside. For others who share this interest, Lynn Gazis-Sax has a very crisp and concise look at a sound interpretation of the Gospels that absolves the Jews -- all of them -- from complicity in Jesus' death. Leon responds with an even less equivocal reading of the evidence.

August 7, 2003

No link, but Tim informs

Daniel Radosh

No link, but Tim informs me that AOL users logged on today to this front page news item: "Armless Child Embraces Life."

Update: Treacher has the actual image from AOL News, with some other headline candidates.

August 7, 2003

Teenager accused of running down

Daniel Radosh

Teenager accused of running down a jogger in hopes of having sex with her corpse drafted a macabre list of "resolutions" a year earlier. Among them: "Get a driver's license so I can do those horrible things people like to read about in the paper." Because driving without a license, of course, would be illegal.

August 7, 2003

Transnasal penetrating brain injury with

Daniel Radosh

Transnasal penetrating brain injury with a ball-pen. Not all of my friends from high school became fulltime slackers. Mike Chaplin went to med school. Which is why he sometimes comes across pretty items like this.

August 7, 2003

Why I am now an expert on visible panty lines.

Daniel Radosh

As if a profile of Colin Farrell wasn't reason enough to buy the September Esquire, there's also my humorous little report on "7 Shocking Things We Learned From Women's Magazines." (It's on p. 64. Don't look for it in the table of contents, 'cause it didn't rate a mention).

It was chopped in half, as these things often are, but I'm basically happy with it. My one gripe is that I originally titled one entry "She crushes on hot chicks," and this was nixed because the editors couldn't get their heads around the use of "crush" as a verb -- even though they knew it was a faithful rendition of women's-magazine speak. So they changed it to "She's a lesbian," which is neither accurate nor funny. They could have at least gone with "bicurious."

August 6, 2003

Hot for Teacher

Daniel Radosh


I just caught a screening of The School of Rock, the new comedy (due October) starring Jack Black, written by Mike White, and directed by Richard Linklater. And since I know you want to know what that combination cooked up, here's my 5-minute review. Post a link on all your favorite Jack Black fan boards.

Anyone who loves Tenacious D or who caught Jack Black's scene stealing in High Fidelity and Jesus' Son — and then suffered through Shallow Hal, Saving Silverman, or the trailer for Envy— has been waiting a long time for someone to give him his own movie that doesn't suck. The School of Rock is that movie.

JB fans won't be disappointed, and audiences discovering him for the first time (this movie is gonna be aimed wide), will be hooked by the first scene, which starts with a classic JB rock god guitar solo and ends with a hilarious and perfectly-timed bit of slapstick. What's not to love?

And yet...

School of Rock is one seriously square entertainment product. Mike White's trademarked idiosyncrasies are nowhere to be found in the script. The dialogue is funny enough (much of it feels ad-libbed) but the plot is the most play-it-safe by-the-numbers piece of hackwork I've seen in ages. You can practically figure it out from the title, but very quickly: JB gets kicked out of his loser rock band and his substitute-teacher roommate (White) and his roomie's girlfriend (the great Sarah Silverman, utterly wasted in a one-note role) threaten to kick him out of the apartment if he can't pay the rent. So when JB takes a call for his roomie about a teaching job, he decides to pretend to be him and ends up faking his way through a job at, wait for it, a snobby prep school, where, wait for it, he transforms the stiff kids into a rockin' band while they, still waiting?, teach him what's really important in life.

I wish I was kidding.

Now if you're going to have a plot like this, the only way to direct it is crisp and businesslike, so the movie doesn't get in the way of the jokes. In other words, you don't hire Richard Linklater, whose familiar shabby chic style fights against the story, making it seem even creakier than it needs to, especially in the most predictable first act, which feels way too long. Linklater's style is good when he's just letting JB do his JB thing, but wrong everywhere else.

Even given the basic plot outlines, School of Rock could have been much, much better than it is. The kids are completely two-dimensional. There's a shy one, a nerdy one, a rebel, a prim and proper brownnoser. You see more realistic 10-year-olds in the average breakfast cereal commercial. Plus, we're supposed to believe that there are any kids today who have basically never heard of rock and roll and have no interest it (or in, say, hip-hop, which, for the purposes of this movie, does not exist). The funniest concept in the movie (as opposed to the shtick, which is all pretty funny) is probably unintentional: JB thinks he's showing the kids how to be cool, but his classic rock taste is embarrassingly out of date. And there's no reason for it. Giving the kids a spark of genuine tween angst -- something that would make them WANT to unleash the rock -- would have simply made this a better movie. (As would an R rating. JB's songs just aren't as funny without all the bad language.)

There's also a subplot involving the school principal that's useless, except for the fact that she's played by Joan Cusack, who is, as always, amazing.

I enjoyed School of Rock, but I wish it had been more than just enjoyable. No doubt Linklater is shooting for his first mainstream hit. He'll probably get it, but it's too bad he didn't want to make a Linklater film instead. Imagine setting JB's wild man loose among the self-conscious pontificators of Waking Life or Slackers. Now that's a set up for a great film.

August 6, 2003

Son of Bambi. Scroll down

Daniel Radosh

Son of Bambi. Scroll down to 8/5, 5:08 for my catty letter to Romenesko.

August 6, 2003

It depends what your definition

Daniel Radosh

It depends what your definition of napalm is.

August 6, 2003

Yesterday I name-checked James Taranto.

Daniel Radosh

Yesterday I name-checked James Taranto. He's one of the few right wing bloggers worth reading, as this about-time-someone-said-it post demonstrates:

'Apparent Homicide Attack'
"Thirteen people were killed and nearly 150 wounded after an apparent homicide attack on a Marriott hotel in downtown Jakarta," Fox News reports. Two Americans were among those wounded.

What exactly does Fox mean by "an apparent homicide attack"? If 13 people were killed, isn't it pretty clear that it was a "homicide" attack? Isn't it time Fox dispensed with this silliness of using homicide as a dysphemism for suicide?

August 5, 2003

Oh, right. Like we're gonna

Daniel Radosh

Oh, right. Like we're gonna fall for this gag twice.

August 5, 2003

Headline of the day. As

Daniel Radosh

Headline of the day. As Taranto would say, What would we do without authorities?

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