Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On mummies.

First off: No, mummies are not zombies. Mummies are Egyptian, whereas zombies are all-American. Yeah man! 'Merica!
Mummies are not, for that matter, Chinese or terra cotta. Which is why I was slightly confused by the new Mummy movie, "The Mummy: The Something Something Hey Isn't That Jet Li?"
Well of course it's going to be awful. That's not the point. See, what I like about this movie is the timing of its release. It's like saying to China, "Hey, China. Enjoy hosting your little 'Olympic Games' while you can, because one day we are going to send you BRENDAN FRASER! Plus one other actor from the original cast and what appears to be a horde of unenhanced images from Sega's 1988 arcade smash-hit 'Altered Beast.' And they are gonna whoop up all over your imperial pottery!"

I was actually curious what the rest of the interweb had to say about this one, because let's face it, it's basically made up of weirdos and weirdos have a lot of things to say.
But I was immediately sidetracked by The Mummy director Rob Cohen's web-log about post-production, which - and I am not kidding - begins, "Dear Mummy Family--"
What? Do you mean to tell me there is a group of people that have latched onto this movie to the point where they consider themselves a broooood? Or perhaps he's referring to his cast and crew, which over the full three and a half minutes of filming that was not created on a computer somewhere in Burbank really ... really bonded, you know?
Anyway, here's what Cohen had to say:
"Dear Mummy Family --

No, no, we kid here. What he really had to say was, "I hope you all saw the Olympics/Mummy commercial that has been airing on NBC. I think it's the coolest thing ever done for one of my 'films' (snideness included). A very clever piece and I'd like to thank David O'Connor and his team for the great creative work."

Ah! So he's all over the release date/Olympics connection. Very nice. Now, I haven't seen this yet, so let's take a look and make fun of it together, shall we?

Hahahahaha! Oh wow. Really? No wonder the first thing that popped up in a search of "NBC, mummy, Olympics" was "NBC’s '2008 Olympics/Mummy 3' Cross-Promotion Is Appalling..."
That appalled person - Ryan, at Pissed and Petty - went on to explain why:
"NBC may as well have lined up every single 2008 Olympic athlete and systematically spat in their faces. These athletes didn’t ask to be trivialized as poster children to recoup loss on a terrible movie with which they have nothing to do. The ad strips Olympic athletes of their dignity."

And that's human dignity, folks, not mummy dignity (which is of far poorer quality and can usually only be found in dollar stores).
But Ryan is dead on. I couldn't have said it better myself (bastard). Except for one thing - sure, he mocks the overall idea of the commercial, but he never delves into the actual content of it.
If you ask me, I don't think the commercial highlighted America's superiority over other nations enough, either in Olympic games or in mummy combat.
Why, it even went so far as to make the point that Brendan Fraser, arguably the preeminent mummy killer of the past 20 years, has only killed one mummy, albeit twice. (Two albeits in two consecutive blog posts. Weird.)
This is not the message we need to be sending to our fine flu-feathered friends to the east, America. We need to let them know we are coming and we are (apparently) bringing BMX bikes with us!
Sorry. Colbert's on and he got a little bit in my head there.

Where was I? Doesn't matter, I think I've said far more here than I originally intended to anyway, so I'll just leave you with this helpful bit of advice:
If you call (212) 832-3575 x19, and mention the code MUMMYRC08 by August 31, you can get a special 40 percent discount on "the beautiful and informative" art book for "The Mummy: The Something Something Is That The Guy From House? I Like Him. Oh No Wait, That's Not Him, It's Someone Else," A Newmarket Pictorial Moviebook, with an introduction by "filmmaker" Rob Cohen!
That discount was supposed to only go to Rob's friends at his blog, but you know what Rob? I stole your friends. I stole them, and I offered them the book at, let's seeeeee....$18.00 + shipping? Are you for real? How Rob, oh how could you afford to give this book away at such a steal?
You must really like your friends. Oh - I'm sorry. Your "family."
I'm sure they'll still like you too, even after they see all the time and effort and god-awful CGI monsters you put into this flick, which is sure to be just as memorable as the first two. Three?
Ah, who the hell cares.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On town halls

Hello all. I sorta, kinda broke my arm a little. Nothing serious, thanks, but typing, much like myself, isn't really something I can easily pull off at the moment.
Ha ha! Jokes.
Anyway, before anyone else asks, here is the refined story to date: You know how bicycles have brakes? Well, as sort of a general rule, those brakes are always set up right side = rear tire, left side = front tire. Except that for reasons as yet unknown, my friend's ex-girlfriend (Communist ex-girlfriend...) had reversed this natural order of things on her bike. No one told me. So I'm tearing along at a good clip on this thing, a bit drunk, admittedly, and go to slow down by grabbing the right side = rear tire brake. Only to find myself propelled, propeller-like, over the handlebars and onto the hard concrete below, where half of my left ulna exploded like so much suicide bomber.
Yes yes, it's all very tragic. I'll be fine in a few weeks. Meanwhile, I came across this gem from the Sep. 8, 2007 issue of the Onion as something of a stand-in.
Now, there isn't a reporter alive that doesn't get down on his (or her) knees every so often and thank his (or her) maker for two things: Spellchecker, and the fact that he (or she) has somehow landed a job that trades exceptionally low pay for extraordinarily little actual "work" (albeit massive loads of responsibility).
That said, we have all been to this meeting. Some of us go weekly. Some of you are well represented here. And we all secretly wish we could write this. Some of us perhaps one day will, as a final goodbye.
Edited only slightly for content:

Town Hall Meeting Gives Townspeople Chance To Say Stupid Things In Public

NEW BEDFORD, MA—In a true display of democracy, a town hall meeting held at the New Bedford High School auditorium Monday gave the crowd of approximately 550 residents the opportunity to publicly voice every last one of the inane thoughts and concerns they would normally only have the chance to utter to themselves.

Though the meeting was ostensibly held to discuss a proposed $21,000 project to replace the high school's grass football field with synthetic turf, City Councilman Thomas Reed inadvertently opened the floodgates to a deluge of ill-informed, off-topic diatribes on inconsequential bulls--- when he allowed those in attendance to demonstrate their God-given gift of language.

"I don't want to have some kid's torn ACL or ALS or whatever on my conscience," said 42-year-old contractor Tom Wareheim, who had apparently not heard the portion of Councilman Reed's opening remarks just moments before explaining that the risk of injury on grass and turf is virtually the same. "I also heard somewhere, I think from my cousin, that the fibers in that stuff can cause cancer."

Citizens quickly lined up at the podium to exercise their freedom of speech—for which countless Americans have died—to publicly drone on and on about everything from the root causes of the football team's poor performance last year to whether high school students should be playing sports at all.

"Now, I don't know much about this turf stuff, but you all know me and you know what kind of business I run," said hardware store owner Dan Schilling, 54, seizing the opportunity to hear his voice echo pointlessly off the auditorium walls. "I've been saying this to my wife for years, and she agrees with me: The garbage trucks in this town are way too loud and I came here tonight to see what's being done about it."

Schilling's grievance instilled an undeserved sense of confidence in the rest of the crowd, emboldening others to abandon the practice of forming cogent thoughts and instead allow streams of mind-numbing nonsense to spill ceaselessly from their lips.

"Who's going to fix the roads?" said 49-year-old Gordon Winters, a bona fide, class-A moron. "Do I have to fix the roads myself, or is somebody going to fix the roads? What's it gonna be? Fixed roads? Or not-fixed roads?"

After an awkward, 15-second period of silence, Winters thankfully moved away from the podium, only to be replaced by 32-year-old Laurel Hale, who seemed eager to prove to every citizen of New Bedford that she had the brainpower of an autistic dog.

"I'm just going to say one thing because I don't want to take up too much of anyone's time," said Hale as her 6-month-old daughter pawed at the microphone. Hale then somehow managed to link the synthetic-turf issue to the lack of places to sit in public areas, her inability to get the buttons at the crosswalk to work, and the apparent overabundance of cable television channels.

Added Hale: "Also, Councilman Reed, you need to get us out of Iraq. Now."

Over the course of the six-and-a-half-hour meeting, the only variation on the endless monotony of inconsequential concerns was the occasional tone of entitlement.

"This town used to be so different," said 67-year-old Doris Miller, as if she were starring in a film in which one person's impassioned speech is so powerful that it leaves the rest of the audience in stunned silence. "Kids are different. Adults are different. People. People are different. What happened? How do we get back to the way things were? How, Councilman Reed?"

"I fought in Korea, and by God I would do it again," said 76-year-old Ronald Schroyer, who immediately retook his seat.

With no conclusions reached about why the town has no zoo, which restaurant serves the best pizza, or what to do with the football field, Councilman Reed opted not to shoot himself and let his brains spray over the crowd, instead adjourning the meeting and thanking everyone who had taken the time to speak.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

On Whedons

Ok, Interweb, third time's the charm:

The tragic love story of an evil mad scientist, genuinely nice girl and douchebag do-gooder. Staring former teenage doctor/space Nazi Neil Patrick Harris, former spaceship captain/potential-slayer Nathan Fillion and former potential/Cheetos enthusiast Felicia Day.
BTW, to see more of Day in all her awkwardly adorable glory, check this out:

The Guild - Episode 1

Yeeaahhhhhh. Written by, no less. (Totally smitten.) Go watch the rest. Even if you've never been that level of nerd - which it may surprise you to learn I never got to - it's still pretty darn good.

Alright. That's all the nerd you get out of me today.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Misheard product slogans, take one.

"More bars in more places."
"Your flexible friend."
"It's what your right arm's for."
"Preparing to be a beautiful lady."
"If it's on, it's in."
"In a world full of Windows, we're handing out rocks."
"All ages, all races, all sexes."
"Once you pop, the fun don't stop."
"America Runs on Dunkin'"
(You can say that again.)

Aaaaand, scene.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

On things better than politics

You know what's way better than hanging out with a bunch of politicians at a union hall?
Seeing Regina Spektor and Ani Difranco on the same bill.
In hijacked box seats.

Monday, July 7, 2008

On bimmers

It's somewhere in the late a.m. on Monday and I just finished watching the first five episodes of "Mad Men," a show I never paid much attention to (as I am not now paying any attention to episode number six) and I finally, finally just realized what's been bugging me for the previous 215 consecutive minutes.
I'd breezed right by it six times before it clicked, but something had been buzzing in the back of my head the whole time I was voraciously chewing piece after piece of nicotine gum while everyone on-screen smoked more than any human I had ever seen, including me.
But it wasn't the smoking. It wasn't even the show, which does have its merits (though they mostly lay in actors who are wasting away between nostalgia for an age that never existed and the glossy idea that if you have your characters drink and smoke enough, they won't have to do much of anything else).
It was actually the premise for the show, which swirls around the ad men on Madison Ave., NY, in post-war 1950s 'Merica (hence the name, which is purportedly what they called themselves) coupled with the BMW ad that runs before each and every episode On Demand.
"We didn't set out to be a getaway car," a voice over proclaims at the beginning of the 30-second spot, as a BMW spins out down an alley, setting the visual tone for the ad.
"Or an art car," the VO continues, corresponding artsy BMW on the screen.
"We didn't intend to be a part of any subculture, or pop culture. We didn't set out to play games or to start a religion. We just made the car."
This is followed by a pitch for the newest installment in the BMW 3 Series. All well and good, until this kicker:
"Another expression of independence, from a company built on it."
Really BMW? Independence? Are you sure you don't mean "absolute dependence on human slavery?"
I mean, jumpin' Jehoshaphat, the irony of this monumentally stupid spot running right before a series about ad-writers - actually "brought to you by BMW," is what the On Demand voice over told me - is just too delicious to pass up, even if it did take a bit of time to punch through my heavily sedated, sleep-deprived mind.
Now, it's already well known that SS Major Karl Sommer, head of the Economic and Administrative Main Office - which gave companies like BMW (and Bayer, and Siemens, and Daimler-Benz, and so forth and so on,) unfettered access to prisoners for slave labor - sold out BMW right up front in a post-war interview for having "employed" somewhere in the neighborhood of 25,000 to 30,000 POWs and concentration camp inmates.
All in a supremely independent manner, of course.
(Interestingly enough, in 1994, BMW AG named a Karl Sommer executive vice president and chief financial officer of BMW (US) Holding Corp. Huh.)
But in trying to remember Sommer's name for this bit of historical wang-dang-doodlin', I tripped across some newer - and way more interesting - info on the BMW past.
See, turns out about six years ago there was a biography published (in German, mind you) of German battery factory owner Guenther Quandt.
Now, Quandt's batteries reportedly were used in Nazi rockets (which isn't surprising) and after the war, the battery business was booming for Guenther (which also isn't surprising). In fact, Guenther and his son, Herbert, made so much money that Herbert was able to "save" BMW from Daimler in 1959 by buying it, five years after his father's death.
Now that's what I call independence!
Well, turns out there was a bit more to it than that (there always is in post-war Germany). See, like BMW, Quandt also apparently, kinda, sorta used slave labor straight out of the concentration camps. Haha! Whoops!
The Quandt family - now worth about $34 billion with a 47-percent share in the company - was finally forced to crawl into a rare spotlight appearance and own up to the missing history pages last year after a TV documentary more or less rehashed much of the biography (this time before a less discerning public, i.e. a television audience).
The family said in a statement it was "moved" by the concentration camp survivors testimony in the film as to conditions (and deaths) at the factory, acknowledged the family history gets a bit fuzzy between 1933 and 1945, and vowed to fund further research on the Guenther/Herbert period.
(The statement also made the point that Quandt family members and Quandt-owned companies have contributed to a national compensation fund for survivors and their families, though no sum was mentioned. Also not mentioned: the family's fortunes were actually solidified in textiles during World War I, supplying uniforms for the Kaiser. In case you were curious.)
I couldn't find any more info on the status of the family's research effort, but hey! While we're waiting, season two of "Mad Men" premiers July 27 on AMC!
(Brought to you by humanity's darkest chapter.)