Monthly Archives: January 2013

Welker

 

Football wife Anna Welker, above, had some choice Facebook words for Baltimore’s Ray Lewis, who in the past has had some well-publicized legal problems.  I had never heard of Anna Welker, so I Googled her.  I have a hunch that the German woman pictured below, also named Anna Welker, is surprised by the sudden popularity of her online job profile.

 

Welker2

 

Expect CBS broadcasters Jim Nantz and Phil Simms to kiss Lewis’s ass during the Super Bowl, and say little or nothing about his messy past (below).  That’s apparently Anna Welker’s job – the American Anna Welker, that is.

 

RayLewis

 

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Catfish6

 

Thanks to the Manti Te’o hullaballoo, I’ve been watching MTV’s Catfish, which documents similar online deceptions.  MTV should consider changing the name of this show to:  Fat Youth Lying to Get Dates.

Catfish second banana Max Joseph (above left) shared an opinion that got my goat:  “Saying you don’t have a cell phone is like saying you don’t wear pants!”

I don’t have a cell phone, and I might or might not be wearing pants – got a problem with that, Junior?

 

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Michelle2

 

Fashion Update!

CNN “fashion czar” Alina Cho was giddy over the way designer Jason Wu dolled up Michelle Obama (above) for inauguration festivities.  Gushed Alina, “Another thing he [Wu] said, you know what? ‘After four years in office I thought the country was ready to see a confident First Lady in red’ – which I think is extraordinary.” 

Good point, Alina, because until last week the nation most likely preferred a cowering, timid First Lady in red.

 

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43

 

The reviews are in for Movie 43, and they ain’t pretty.  Here is a sample from Moviefone:

“The first section, with Jackman (playing a man who has testicles hanging off his chin) and Winslet, was shot FOUR YEARS AGO.  Even after people said yes, they didn’t want to be in this thing.”

The “thing” is getting universally trashed by critics, and yet … I don’t know about you, but any movie that has Hugh Jackman with testicles hanging off his chin sounds like a must-see to me.


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Proof

 

The Huffington Post should really consider hiring a few proofreaders.

 

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by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer

Easy2


“In all of my deployments, we routinely saw this phenomenon.  The higher up the food chain the targeted individual was, the bigger a pussy he was.  The leaders were less willing to fight.  It is always the young and impressionable who strap on the explosives and blow themselves up.”  Those words are from “Mark Owen,” co-author of No Easy Day and one of the Navy SEALs responsible for killing Osama bin Laden.

The book is a compelling look at the day-to-day life of an elite SEAL, and I’m sure it’s a great recruitment tool for the military.  However … if only Owen had left it at that.  Owen (a pseudonym), who claims that he and his fellow SEALs don’t much concern themselves with politics, does little to hide his disdain for Barack Obama, and presumably liberals in general – yet has nothing to say about the “young and impressionable” Americans who died in the bogus war begun by Obama’s predecessor.

 

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 Dumb Jocks

                                

Ugh

 

I’m tired of Lance Armstrong and I’m tired of Oprah.  The former is just the latest in a string of arrogant jerks from Texas, and the latter is a gigantic, unctuous blob of fat.

In her interview with Armstrong (above), Oprah had a lot of “yes” or “no” questions for the middle-aged man who rides bicycles for a living.  I have one for Oprah:  “Yes or no, you had four pumpkin pies for dessert last night, didn’t you?”  As for the sociopath who sat across from her, it’s not a genuine “apology” if you expect something in return, and this pompous ass clearly wants something in return.

 

Much more entertaining is the loopy story of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o (below) and his enigmatic “girlfriend.”  This ongoing scandal is delicious because the only damage being done is to the overstuffed egos of monomaniacal coaches, idolized jocks, and lazy sportswriters.

 

Linebacker

 

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick (below) getting misty-eyed at his press conference about the Te’o controversy?  Priceless.

 

Notre Dame Conference Expansion Football

 

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“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” — That’s an aphorism attributed to any number of historical figures, and a piece of advice rigidly adhered to by Clarence Thomas (above) until Monday when, for the first time in nearly seven years, the Supreme Court justice opened his mouth in court and said … something. We’re still not sure just what.

 

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“The governor is the master of the one-liner.”Fox & Friends doofus Steve Doocy, gushing about Arnold Schwarzenegger.  That’s because if a movie script assigns more than one line to Arnold, he’s in over his head.

 

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Bigelow1

 

Kathryn Bigelow (above) attracts controversy the way Honey Boo Boo attracts chiggers.  Three years ago, Bigelow won Best Director for The Hurt Locker, an OK movie that I’ve already forgotten.  This year, she got snubbed for her efforts on Zero Dark Thirty.  I suspect Bigelow won for Locker because she is female, and Academy voters felt guilty about having never awarded a directing Oscar to a woman.  I also suspect she got penalized this year because she doesn’t condemn torture in Zero.

 

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When posting pictures of the enemy, media outlets tend to select less-than-flattering images.  And so we have The Huffington Post running this shot of NRA spokesman Wayne LaPierre.

 

Wayne LaPierre Jr.

 

 

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Dave

 

Jennifer Lawrence discussed “anal leakage” with David Letterman, above.  I’m not sure that Jimmy Kimmel will ever top that.

 

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by Charles Dickens

Copper

 

They say that people don’t read books anymore, and they say that the few who do, don’t read long books.  Especially long, old books.  So I suppose there isn’t much of an audience these days for novels like David Copperfield, Dickens’s 729-page coming-of-age classic, and that’s a shame, because books might not get any better than this.

Unlike Tolstoy (the endless battle scenes in War and Peace), and Hugo (an interminable description of the Paris sewer system in Les Miserables), Dickens avoids bloat in Copperfield.  It’s not “perfect” – Dickens’s affection for some characters borders on sappiness, and a few of his plot coincidences stretch credulity – but in the two categories that matter most, strong characters and story, I’m not sure that it can be topped.

Wait, I take that back.  There was a little book called Great Expectations ….

 

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Buckwild

 

Why Some People Question the “Reality” of Reality TV

 

“We have to keep this quiet.” — girl to boy she is kissing … while television cameras film their “private” moment on the premiere of MTV’s Buckwild (cast pictured above).

 

Downton Abbey (below) is back, and that’s prompted lots of critical essays about why viewers are attracted to this stuffy-but-entertaining series.  Here is my theory:  It’s the anti-Buckwild.

 

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RIP    

 

Attentive readers might have noticed that there was no “Free Flick of the Week” on Monday.

We’re closing the balcony on free movies for several reasons:  1)  It’s become a pain to locate no-fee films worth watching, because many previously free movies have been gobbled up by Amazon, Hulu Plus, et al, and saddled with viewing fees; 2)  Ad-free films, once commonplace on the Web, are increasingly rare; 3) Does anyone really need help finding movies on the Internet?  Nah, we didn’t think so.  So rest in peace, “Free Flicks of the Week.”

 

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Quotes:

 

“Here’s a tip:  If you know someone heavily into sadism, avoid them.  Avoid them; there is something wrong.” — Bill O’Reilly advising his audience to shun moviegoers who patronize slasher fare like Texas Chainsaw 3D.  Good advice, Bill.  That’s my attitude toward most conservatives who watch your show.  I avoid them, because there is something wrong.

 

“Are we living in a Women’s Studies class?” — Tom Shillue on Red Eye, expressing his outrage over feminist outrage over Brent Musburger’s outrageous comments about the precious wallflower pictured below.

 

Webb

 

“I think you’d probably win in the Supreme Court on that.  But I don’t think anyone can predict for sure.” — Jeffrey Toobin, wisely hedging his bets on Piers Morgan Tonight.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say that Jeffrey might have recently made a bad prediction.  About, for example, the Supreme Court and health care.

 

“We’re living in tough economic times that make people irrational about security ….  There’s a lot of fear in this country.  And a lot of it is fear of the future and fear of unemployment.” — Arianna Huffington, who contributes to the well-being and security of writers on her Web site by paying them … nothing.

 

LaPook

 

“Any sleep medication has the potential to cause drowsiness, and people really need to think about this.” — Jon LaPook (above) on the CBS Evening News, taking “stating the obvious” to new heights.  Or is it new lows?

 

“I wouldn’t tell Jesus anything.  I would ask a few questions, and then listen to him.” — O’Reilly again, explaining to a viewer how he would conduct himself at dinner with the Messiah.  I don’t believe a word of it.  O’Reilly would listen briefly, then interrupt Jesus and begin yelling at him.

 

*****

 

The scariest part of American Horror Story?  This face, which appears in a flash during the opening credits:

 

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Hag2

 

*****

 

I complained to the manager at my neighborhood supermarket because I had to walk past this picture at the magazine rack.  If stores have to hide cigarettes, they should certainly be required to hide this sort of thing.

 

Kimmel2

 

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Comply1

 

I am a cop.  You are not, and I’ve just ordered you to do something distasteful.  Will you do it?  You might say, “Of course not” — but there are scientific studies proving that, more likely than not, you will.

That’s the moral dilemma faced by several characters in Compliance, writer-director Craig Zobel’s squirm-inducing drama based on a series of real-life telephone hoaxes perpetrated in the early 2000s.  On paper (see sidebar below), what happened to employees of a rural McDonald’s outlet stretches credulity.  It’s to Zobel’s credit that, after watching his dramatization of the incident, the behavior of several unfortunate fast-food workers doesn’t seem that far-fetched.

A summary:  A man calls the restaurant and, claiming to be a police officer, asks to speak to the manager.  The “cop” informs her that one of her employees is accused of stealing from a customer.  Police, this man says, are at the moment short-handed, and would the manger mind helping them out?  Would she please begin by strip-searching the female employee?

 

Comply2

 

Ridiculous, you say.  Even should the manager acquiesce to this absurd request, certainly the young girl would have none of it.  Ah, but you are not an 18-year-old girl from the sticks of Kentucky (Ohio in the movie), needful of your job, intimidated by police, and conditioned — as most of us are — to respect authority.  The stressed-out manager succumbs, the fearful girl succumbs and, once the manager’s middle-aged fiancé enters the picture, a relatively harmless prank escalates to sexual assault.

I have no idea how true-to-life the proceedings are in Compliance, but Zobel’s step-by-step direction and some superb acting by Ann Dowd, as the manager, make the outrageous seem plausible.  That is, plausible until the sex assault.  The motivations of both parties to that event are … curious, at least to me.

Zobel claims that his film is a composite of scores of similar telephone hoaxes that plagued the Midwest 10 years ago, but the plot of Compliance adheres closely to the recorded facts of the Kentucky incident.  Not so the ending, in which it’s implied that the bad guy gets caught.  In reality, the primary suspect in the hoax was acquitted of all charges.         Grade:  B+

 

Comply3  Comply4

 

Director:  Craig Zobel  Cast:  Ann Dowd, Dreama Walker, Pat Healy, Bill Camp, Philip Ettinger, James McCaffrey, Matt Servitto, Ashlie Atkinson  Release:  2012

 

Comply5

 

                                                  Watch the Trailer (click here)

 

Comply6

 

*****

 

Comply7 

Above:  Ogborn and Nix during the assault, from security video.

 

Never mind those stories you hear about “stranger danger” on the Internet; one of the most successful scams of the early 2000s involved nothing more than that relic of low-tech communication, the humble telephone.

On April 9, 2004, someone claiming to be a police officer called McDonald’s assistant manager Donna Summers.  Using a combination of guile and homework (the caller knew the actual name of Summers’s regional manager), the fake cop spun a tale of customer theft and asked Summers to strip search employee Louise Ogborn, who was then 18.  Later (the incident went on for several hours), Summers’s fiancé, Walter Nix, continued to follow “officer Scott’s” instructions — including a spanking of the naked girl and the coercion of oral sex from her.  Eventually, employees grew suspicious and contacted the real police.

Nix went to prison and Ogborn successfully sued McDonald’s.  But “officer Scott” was never found.  Said a (genuine) police detective assigned to the case:  “There was a lot of things, in my mind, that I think they [Summers and Nix] could have done — and I don’t understand why they didn’t do them.”

 

Comply8

Above:  Nix, at left, and Ogborn leaving court.

 

Comply9

 

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Burqa

 

In the wake of Al-Jazeera’s purchase of Current TV, Joy Behar: Say Anything! released this new publicity shot of Joy welcoming guest Ellen DeGeneres to the show.

 

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“Overused Too Often”

 

Shibley

 

CNN interviewed John Shibley (above), a creator of Lake Superior State University’s list of annoying words and expressions that simply must go.

Martin Savidge:  “So let’s talk about … how this list-compiling all began.”

Shibley:  “[We] discussed how many words and phrases are overused too often.”

 

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My proposed term to dump:  “disgruntled employee”

We hear this whenever some wackdoodle returns to the office and blows away former co-workers.  But these people are not “disgruntled,” which to my mind describes a cubicle-dweller who is unhappy with the decaf in the breakroom, not some lunatic with an Uzi.

 

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Vote

 

Sometimes I weep for humanity.  This poll makes me very sad.  Doesn’t anyone believe in young love, anymore?

 

*****

 

**SPOILER ALERT!!!**

Sorry.  I’ve just always wanted to write that.

 

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Kimmel 

 

Jimmy Kimmel takes on Letterman and Leno this week.  I handicap the race:

Letterman — the best

Kimmel — too damn many commercials.  I once timed an ad break during his show and it lasted nearly nine minutes.  Jimmy, your guests had better be The Beatles — including the dead ones — if I am going to sit through that many ads.

Leno — every year, this guy grows more physically repulsive, and I simply cannot stand to look at him

 

*****

 

Speaking of physical appearance … hell must have frozen over, because voters sent an attractive politician to Congress.  Thanks, Hawaii, for giving us Tulsi Gabbard (below).

 

Gabbard

 

*****

 

Elissa

 

“I go to the gas station such a small amount, that I forget how to put gas in my car.” — Volt owner Elissa, above.

Let me get this straight:  Because this self-confessed idiot likes the Chevy Volt, I should run out and buy one, too?

 

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Movie

 

Midnight Movie    If you like low-budget horror, there’s a lot to like about this one.  It has a spunky heroine (Rebekah Brandes) who might be the most appealing “scream queen” since Jamie Lee Curtis, a clever setup (trapped with a killer in a movie theater), and one line — “You want her?  You gotta go through me first!” — that, in context, is priceless.  Sadly, it also has the usual bane of low-budget schlock:  a plot that quickly turns preposterous.  Release:  2008  Grade:  C+

 

*****

 

Code

 

Source Code     It’s Groundhog Day for poor Jake Gyllenhaal, who must repeatedly travel back in time to prevent an act of terrorism  — and repeatedly get blown up in the process.  Clever ideas are introduced, but cramming action-movie sequences, a budding romance, and metaphysical musings into one 93-minute film results in an incoherent mess.  Release:  2011  Grade:  B-

 

*****

 

Orphanage

 

The Orphanage     This Spanish chiller about a woman (Belen Rueda) returning to her childhood home, an orphanage, is a handsome production, replete with moody, haunting atmosphere — but not much in the way of actual scares.  Orphanage doesn’t insult your intelligence, which is refreshing, but several plot elements in this ghost story are a bit, ahem, familiar.  Release:  2007  Grade:  B

 

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Paperboy

 

The Paperboy     An odd mix of black comedy with lurid sex, murder, and mayhem, The Paperboy is too all over the place to completely satisfy, but individual scenes and performances are memorable — especially drooling, malevolent John Cusack as a Florida swampland hick who might have been unjustly imprisoned for murder.  Release:  2012  Grade:  B-

 

*****

 

Orphan

 

Orphan    With just a tweak here and a nudge there, Orphan might have joined the likes of The Sixth Sense and The Exorcist as one of the great horror films.  It has a delicious twist, some fine performances and, unlike those other films, it manages to frighten without resorting to the supernatural.  Eleven-year-old Isabelle Fuhrman, utterly convincing as the titular demon-child, almost — but not quite — pulls off a pivotal transformation late in the film; if she had, Linda Blair might have had competition in evil kid horror-movie history.  Release:  2009  Grade:  B+

 

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Daniel Craig;Naomie Harris

 

In Skyfall, the legend of James Bond continues — and therein lies a problem.

When we go to a Bond movie, do we really care about his “back story,” or that he grew up as an orphan from Scotland?  Do we wrack our brains trying to analyze the Freudian implications of Bond’s relationship with his boss, the redoubtable “M”?   I don’t think we do.  I think we go expecting to be entertained, but the Daniel Craig films are so preoccupied with being taken seriously that they sacrifice a sense of mischief.  007 films are not meant to be Greek tragedies; they are big-budget B-movies.

 

Daniel Craig;Javier Bardem

 

The producers of Skyfall did get one thing right this go-round when they cast Javier Bardem as the villain, Silva.  Bardem’s smarmy bad guy is a scenery-chewing hoot — and a welcome change from the sluggish proceedings leading up to his introduction.  A scene involving Silva’s, uh, mouthpiece, revives memories of Richard Kiel, the metal-toothed henchman (“Jaws”) in a pair of 1970s Bond entries.  It’s a memorable scene, and it’s too bad there aren’t more like it, and too bad there isn’t more Silva in the film.

I am not a big fan of director Quentin Tarantino, but after viewing Skyfall I wondered if he might not have done a better job than Sam Mendes.  At least Tarantino has a healthy appreciation of what makes a movie fun.  Mendes seems to think he’s making Zero Dark Thirty, but Bond movies work best as live-action cartoons.

p.s.  Everyone seems to be weighing in on whether Craig or Sean Connery plays the definitive Bond.   My two cents:  Connery.  Sean Connery.        Grade:  B-

 

Javier Bardem      Sky4

 

Director:  Sam Mendes   Cast:  Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Ola Rapace   Release:  2012

 

Sky5

 

                                         Watch Trailers and Clips  (click here)

 

Daniel Craig;Berenice Marlohe

 

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