Daily Archives: December 24, 2011

It’s the end of December, and that means it is time for every news show, magazine, and Web site to compile inane “end-of-year” lists.  But most smart people realize that next year, 2012, heralds the end of the world, and so it makes a lot more sense to compile an “end-of-the-world” list.  Thus, here you go:




Best Species of All Time:  The Cockroach

Everyone knows that in the event of a nuclear holocaust, the much-maligned cockroach is one of the few species expected to survive, possibly even thrive.  I don’t see why, come Armageddon, things should be any different for the heroic and plucky cockroach.



Best Con Artist of All Time:  Cleopatra

The Queen of the Nile, according to ancient coins that bear her visage, was one homely lady.  And yet somehow the woman enjoys a “man-eater” reputation, inspiring Hollywood biographies and even a role for our most beautiful star, Liz Taylor.


Cleo2              LizT




Greatest Work of Art:  2012

The critics hated it but hey, when you are right about things, you are right about things.




Greatest Blight on the Universe:  Television Commercials

TV signals are beamed into space.  Somewhere, someday, an alien species will be subjected to god-awful Nationwide insurance commercials.  When the aliens study Earth’s doomed culture, they will despise us for this. 





When the power went out — twice — during this week’s Steelers-49ers contest, someone made the decision to delay the game.  I think that was a missed opportunity.  They should have kept playing in the dark, like many of us did when we were kids.  “Dark football” would have been a big hit.





I wonder if the geniuses at Columbia Pictures’s marketing department thought of potential negative associations when they came up with the above slogan for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  What is hidden in snow that comes forth in the thaw?  I’ll bet they didn’t think of this:






I often channel surf between Craig Ferguson and Jimmy Fallon, but I never watch Jimmy Kimmel’s show.  This is because Kimmel’s show includes a non-stop barrage of commercials.  I took notes the other night:  


11:55 — Jimmy welcomes guest Jeremy Renner.

12:03 — The onslaught begins.  There are ads for Capital One, the Minnesota lottery, Xbox 360, Hilton’s Doubletree, Ford’s Focus, HBO’s True Blood, Celebrity Wife Swap, The Bachelor, Dodge Journey, and Menards.

12:08 — Back to the show.

12:13 — Ads for Bud Light, Blockbuster, Arby’s, Macy’s, Stayfree, Head & Shoulders, Viagra, the NBA, Winter Wipeout, Ford, Xfinity, local news, Citibank, Target, Midnight in Paris, Gamefly,com, Centrum, Target, The Bachelor, Celebrity Wife Swap, Work It, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and The Original Mattress Factory.

12:22 — Back to the show.

12:29 — Ads for Chrysler, Delsym cough syrup, Mucinex, Mitsubishi, GMC Superstore, and local news.

12:32 — Back to the show.


I watched Kimmel for 37 minutes.  There were 39 commercials.  That’s 20 minutes of Jimmy, 17 minutes of ads.  Some day, this is what the aliens will see, and they will despise us for it.




Posting pictures of female buttocks is a sexist, revolting practice, and we hereby resolve to stop doing it.  Instead, please enjoy this beautiful landscape portrait:




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It’s been years since I last watched director Sam Peckinpah’s seminal drama Straw Dogs, but it’s the kind of film that you don’t easily forget.

Peckinpah’s thriller provoked howls of outrage in 1971 for its violent content, in particular a prolonged rape scene in which the main female character, Amy (Susan George), appears to take some pleasure from her assault.  Critics accused Peckinpah of misogyny.  If the macho director’s goal was to generate controversy, he succeeded big time.

I don’t presume to know if “no always means no,” but I do know that the sexual question mark in Peckinpah’s movie — did Amy prefer her alpha-male assailant (an ex-boyfriend) to her pacifist husband David (Dustin Hoffman)?  — was key to the film’s climax.  When the couple’s home comes under siege by the rapist and his thuggish pals, suspense was derived from audience uncertainty about whether David and Amy could work together long enough to survive.


Alexander Skarsgard as "Charlie" in Screen Gems' STRAW DOGS.


Director Rod Lurie’s remake dispenses with any questions about the pivotal rape scene.  It’s clear this time that Amy (Kate Bosworth) wants no part of it.  This is a politically safe viewpoint, but it also subtracts tension from the remake’s final act in which, once again, the couple’s home comes under attack.

But Lurie’s Straw Dogs is still effective because of the universal conflicts it explores.  When Hollywood players David and Amy return to Amy’s hometown in rural Mississippi, the couple ignites a powder keg of culture clashes — city vs. country, privileged vs. poor, liberal vs. conservative, North vs. South, and atheist vs. believer.  Pretty boy David (James Marsden) is a lightning rod for Blackwater’s football-loving, beer-guzzling good ol’ boys. And Amy is a source of constant temptation.

Marsden is convincing as a proponent of the “can’t we all just get along” school of thought, but he lacks Hoffman’s charisma.  Bosworth is a credible small-town-girl-turned-TV-star, but she also projects a bland personality.  Hoffman and George were unforgettable.  I’ll remember them, but I won’t remember this remake.       Grade:  B-




Director:  Rod Lurie   Cast:  James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgard, James Woods, Dominic Purcell, Rhys Coiro, Billy Lush, Laz Alonso, Willa Holland, Walton Goggins  Release:  2011




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