Saturday, March 01, 2008

Merde de Batte Aliénée

Is Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard a wacko conspiracy theorist? It kind of sounds like it if this Daily Mail article is to be believed.

The big "bombshell," I suppose, is that about a year ago, Cotillard gave an interview in which she expressed skepticism about the official account of 9/11 and suggested the government was behind it. I mean, I don't believe that, but many do...what makes it really funny is the motive she suggests might have been behind it:

"It was a money-sucker because they were finished, it seems to me, by 1973, and to re-cable all that, to bring up-to-date all the technology and everything, it was a lot more expensive, that work, than destroying them."

Wow...That's weapons-grade stupid. We may have to upgrade the blog here to Defcon 3 in a moment...

It was cheaper to murder thousands of Americans and concoct a massive, intricately-plotted, international conspiracy than to bring the World Trade Center up to code? What le fuck?

Believe it or not, it gets better:

"Did a man really walk on the Moon? I saw plenty of documentaries on it, and I really wondered. And in any case I don't believe all they tell me, that's for sure."

Why is it so hard for people to believe that a man walked on the moon? I mean, is it really so amazing? It's just a rock in space. If you believe that humans can send shit into space (and satellite TV makes this kind of difficult not to believe), why is it so difficult to take the extra leap that we could blast some poor suckers a bit further out to this one really big rock?

But bear in mind, she does believe the United States government could pull off 9/11 and keep it secret. Or maybe all of this makes more sense in French.

[Found via Dlisted]

Ad Nauseum

I've seen two interesting ads for Hillary Clinton in the past few days. Let's take a look:

The first ad comes from the Clinton campaign itself. It's one of those ludicrous "scare" ads that tells you, if you vote for the candidate's opponent, it's most likely your children will die, possibly with their insides on the outside. Or not. We're not sure exactly how your children will be brutally murdered should you vote for our opponent, we just know it is definitely going to happen.

This strikes me as a very Cold War kind of ad. Hillary's the only one we can trust to decide in the middle of the night if we should bomb the Russians. Seems like, in a modern context, most of these kind of emergency, middle-of-the-night decisions kind of decide themselves.

"We've got word terrorists are going to blow up New York!"

"Stop them!"

John Dickerson from Slate asked the obvious question to Hillary's campaign staff the next day: why, exactly, would Clinton be a better person to answer that 3 am phone call than Obama? (More precisely, he asks when Clinton was tested and had to make a major foreign policy decision.) They had no good answer.

I'm thinking, much like the Republicans in 2006 and Rudy Giuliani up until pretty recently, Clinton thinks she can scare people into voting for her. It hasn't really been working in a while. Mercifully, it seems like years of fearmongering by Bush et. al. (and, to be honest, a lot of Democrats, too) have resulted in a populace that's, for the moment, immune to such tactics. I certainly don't think this will last forever, and another terrorist attack on U.S. soil would most likely nip it in the bud, but it appears to be the state in which Obama and Clinton are presently campaigning.

Again, Clinton seems to feel that stressing the same point she's been making over and over again ("I'm more qualified and experienced than Obama on foreign policy") more forcefully will suddenly make voters agree with her, but it's just unrealistic. This ad reminds me of something ridiculous the Romney campaign would come up with. That's not a compliment.

The second ad, made by Jack Nicholson on Hillary's behalf, fares much better:

You've got to love that they went with that Few Good Men "woman you have to salute" quote. Jack rules.

Snow Angels

Somehow, I managed to get in, along with my brother and our fellow Mahooligan Raj, to the premiere of David Gorden Green's Snow Angels at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood the other night. Not sure how it happened...we only bought tickets two days in advance, and then got to watch the film with luminaries including Green, Kate Beckinsale, director Mark Freiburger and (I'm pretty sure) Ryan Gosling. They even had free booze and appetizers outside afterwards.

There was some question, after it debuted at last year's Sundance festival, about whether or not Snow Angels would ever merit a theatrical release. (It wasn't picked up immediately, as you'd expect for a film from a well-regarded director starring Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale.) I understand the reluctance on the part of the studios to take a gamble on this. In addition to being a somber story of failure, loss and regret, it's also probably Green's most underwhelming effort to date. (Warner Independent eventually jumped in and will release the film in major U.S. cities later this month).

That by no means makes it a bad movie. David Gordon Green has a ridiculous track record thus far. His debut, George Washington, may be one of the most audacious, accomplished first films I have ever seen. Since that, he's helmed the beautifully rendered, lyrical romance All the Real Girls and the idiosyncratic Night of the Hunter riff Undertow. (This last film is woefully underrated, available on DVD and features an AMAZING performance from Josh Lucas. Trust me...Netflix it...)

So it's not exactly comparing Snow Angels to Norbit or anything when I say it felt kind of uncharacteristic for Green. Where his films tend to be gracefully composed, Snow Angels is choppy. Where his films tend to have intricately layered narratives, revealing new textures and details on repeat viewings, Snow Angels feels sort of incomplete and half-formed. That doesn't mean it isn't still worth watching or well done. It's just not exactly George Washington. Few films are.

Based on a novel by Stewart O'Nan, the film follows the interlocking stories of three couples in a small, snowbound American town. High school band geek Arthur Parkinson (Michael Angarano) has caught the eye of the pretty, unconventional new girl at school (Olivia Thirlby, who played Juno's best friend) and together they embark on a sweetly uncertain first romance. Meanwhile, Arthur's father (Griffin Dunne) is leaving his mother (Jeanetta Arnette) for another woman.

Arthur works at a local Chinese restaurant with Annie (Kate Beckinsale), who used to babysit for him years ago. Annie's in the process of divorcing Glen (Sam Rockwell), who's desperate to get back into her life and to prove he can be a good father to their toddler, Tara.

Thematically, putting these stories together in one film makes some amount of sense. We're seeing three different periods in the life of a love affair collide in every sequence. Arthur and Lila experience the heady thrill of a first kiss in the same moment that Annie and Glen suffer through a marriage that has worn out its welcome, with Arthur's parents standing in for the uncertain present moment itself. They're asking out loud the questions that may only be vague thoughts in the back of their son's mind as he cavorts with his first girlfriend, the same questions Glen has asked Annie, only to refuse to hear her answers.

In practice, however, Green (who wrote the screenplay as well as directed) doesn't find a way to tie all of his threads together. In Crime and Misdemeanors, Woody Allen employs a somewhat similar structure, following the interlocking stories of a variety of acquaintances, all thematically but not narratively related. However, he has a real powerhouse final sequence that brings all the characters together (physically) and ties all of their stories together (emotionally and thematically).

Green desperately needs a scene like this, and doesn't have one. We're left with three conclusions, but no closure.

It's a shame that the film doesn't resonate more deeply, because it's impeccably put together, just as you'd expect from DGG.

The performances are across-the-board terrific, with all of the leads doing career-highlight-type work. I'm pretty much always a fan of Rockwell's performances, but he's particularly strong in Snow Angels. If it were going to open later in the year, I'd consider him a possible award contender. He tends to play a certain type of guy - eccentric, unpredictable, full of shit - and Glen fits that mold, but there's a rawness and a desperation to this character that's so realistic, it's almost painful to watch. (One scene that's sure to be a subject of post-film conversation and analysis finds Glen, in an alcoholic stupor, dancing with some old drunks in a dive bar. It's an unflinching look at a man hitting rock bottom.)

Beckinsale and Thirlby, and Amy Sedaris in a relatively small role as Annie and Arthur's chatty co-worker, are the other standouts, but the whole cast is pretty terrific. (Manhunter star Tom Noonan shows up in a brief, very funny role as the Marching Band instructor.)

Tim Orr's stark white cinematography is reminiscent of A Simple Plan and Fargo, using barren, blank landscapes to comment on the hopelessness and isolation of the characters. Several transitions cut directly from dark interior scenes to glaringly bright winter exteriors, as if to purposefully cause the viewer to blink, recoil and rub his or her eyes. This is the harsh choice presented to Glen: fester inside feeding off rage, depression and booze or face the unforgiving, demanding and judgmental world outside, where all his sins are exposed and scrutinized.

A lot of talented people did a lot of great work on Snow Angels, so it's a pretty good movie with some things to say and some genuinely compelling individual scenes. But it's various moments don't add up to an entirely coherent whole, and I doubt most audiences will care to invest the time and patience to appreciate such a dour experience.

You Start Thinking About Your Knife...

Throw Me That Statue covers Guided by Voices' "My Valuable Hunting Knife" while riding the ferry from Seattle across the Puget Sound. Like you do.

[More Throw Me That Statue ferry songs]

Bible Basher = Bible Thumper

The title of the BBC documentary "Baby Bible Bashers" is confusing for Americans. Over here, to "bash" the Bible would be to criticize it. I myself am a bit of a Bible Basher (though a bit hirsute for a baby). I'm pretty sure the American English equivalent title would be "Baby Bible Thumpers."

The film is about child evangelists, two of whom live deep in the heart of Dumbfuckistan, the American South. Aren't you proud, America? 2 out of 3 brainwashed zealots under 12 ain't bad!

The entire film is on YouTube, and I highly recommending it, if you have room in your calendar for a decade-long bout with clinical depression. Just as you'd expect, in each of the three cases, we're presented with a demanding stage-parent (altar-parent?) instructing their child to blather a lot of nonsense and generally humiliate themselves in front of strangers.

The delusions voiced by these "adults" and abuses visited on these kids are far too numerous to mention. The father of a 9-year-old Fort Lauderdale preacher Terry Durham could not be any more transparent about his crass desire to profit from his son's "preaching" (really just singing mixed with some of that ludicrous "laying on of hands" pretending to cure people stuff...I didn't hear him say a single coherent sentence about God, Jesus or anything else). It's actually kind of a shame the Dad is so hung up on making a living off of his child's preaching, when he could at least try to profit off of his child's singing. Or, you know, he could get a job that didn't depend on exploiting his 9-year-old.

But I'd take 20 greedy Todd Durham's over one Kendall Boutwell. This nutjob (a former "sinner" himself) is one of these guys who puts on signboards listing off all the various groups of people that are going to Hell and then walks around major cities getting into pointless, violent arguments with passersby. This guy takes his 7-year-old son on the streets of New York and demands that he begins preaching fire and brimstone to strangers.

The kid is clearly not particularly keen on the idea, but fears his father (who beats him regular, to keep him from "rebelling," naturally), so he forces himself to do it anyway. I'm embedding Part 1 to get you started below (the whole documentary can be seen here at Thought Theater), but in Part 5 you actually see this kid, Samuel Boutwell, snap on the streets of Manhattan. This is ugly stuff, a vivid portrayal of a pathetic character so insecure, he must rant at strangers and torment his young son in order to feel powerful.

Oh, and the Brazilian girl sleeps with her father and describes him as "her whole world." This movie makes Jesus Camp look like Wet Hot American Summer.

Thursday, February 28, 2008




Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'm Not Wearing a Tie At All!

So, I liveblogged what could very well be the last Presidential Debate of the season. If Barack decimates HilRod in Ohio and Texas as he has been in...well, pretty much every state for the past month, you're looking at the End of the Clinton Era.

I think we can all agree on one thing...Tim Russert is very much like Lionel Hutz. A halfwit playing at being a fearsome interrogator.

The man you knew as Tim Russert is dead...Say hello to Miguel Sanchez!

Words cannot describe the abject stupidity of Russert's moderation of this debate. It's not just his performance either, although he talks too much and too fast and he actually cuts off and interrupts the candidates while they're in the middle of making a point to re-ask the question they're already answering. (As opposed to Brian Williams, who interrupts the candidates so that he can segue into SUV commercials.)

He's starting from the wrong place. Instead of choosing questions that will provide us with some insight into these people, their ideologies, their values and their intentions, he constantly tries to catch them in some kind of inconsistency. I'm not sure where this fascination with inconsistency comes from. I mean, sure, if someone is constantly taking contrary positions (like, oh, I don't know, JOHN MCCAIN), it's fair game to point this out and ask a question about it. But every single one of Russert's questions carried with it the sole intention to root out some sort of reversal. (Except when he condescended to Hillary by giving her a pop quiz).

On NAFTA: "You said it was good on balance for New York and America in 2004, and now you're in Ohio and your words are much different, Senator. The record is very clear."

On Hillary's plan to create jobs: "And I was reminded of your campaign in 2000 in Buffalo, my hometown, just three hours down Route 90, where you pledged 200,000 new jobs for upstate New York. There's been a net loss of 30,000 jobs. And when you were asked about your pledge, your commitment, you told The Buffalo News, 'I might have been a little exuberant.' Tonight will you say that the pledge of 5 million jobs might be a little exuberant?"

If we -- if this scenario plays out and the Americans get out in total and al Qaeda resurges and Iraq goes to hell, do you hold the right, in your mind as American president, to re-invade, to go back into Iraq to stabilize it?

He's now asking if, at some point in the future, they might hypothetically hold one position on Iraq and then reverse it should the circumstances change. "Imagine how stupid you'd feel if you got our troops out of Iraq and then had to go back. Like if, say, you forgot your wallet in the Green Zone! Wouldn't that be stupid?"

Also, it's theoretical that maybe one day Iraq might "go to Hell" because al Qaeda "resurges." MY GOD THIS GUY'S AN ASSHOLE! Al Qaeda can't resurge there because they were never there in the beginning. He means "al Qaeda in Iraq," which is not the al Qaeda that blew up the World Trade Center, and is only one group responsible for insurgent violence in Iraq. Also, Iraq has already gone to Hell. Iraq went to hell in 2003, and it has been getting worse ever since. Having us there doesn't make it better. It just makes more Americans and Iraqis dead. And it makes us look greedy, bloodthirsty and insane to the rest of the world. And we are all of those things, I just don't know if we need to keep advertising it to the neighbors. Dexter doesn't go around blabbing to everyone in sight about cutting up criminals after hours.

Again, though, note that this whole Iraq question pivots on an inconsistent opinion the candidates might have at some point in the future. This is "gotcha" journalism of the silliest form, where the whole point is to make the subject look foolish, not to get any useful information out of them.

Senator Obama, let me ask you about motivating, inspiring, keeping your word. Nothing more important. Last year you said if you were the nominee you would opt for public financing in the general election of the campaign; try to get some of the money out. You checked "Yes" on a questionnaire. And now Senator McCain has said, calling your bluff, let's do it. You seem to be waffling, saying, well, if we can work on an arrangement here. Why won't you keep your word in writing that you made to abide by public financing of the fall election?

Motivating and inspiring don't have much to do with keeping your word, first of all. Russert just brings it up because he apparently thinks being consistent is the only thing that matters about a politician. (Notice how having good ideas and plans has nothing to do with anything.) Motivating, inspiring and keeping your word are all good things, but not necessarily connected. Someone could be motivating and inspiring and also totally full of shit. It's not mutually exclusive.

This is just so tiresome. Russert kept on repeating the same attack, as well, which only makes it seem more insipid. Russert has no real ability to devise provocative questions or to genuinely challenge his subjects, so he resorts to haranguing, badgering and these kinds of clumsy rhetorical traps. He's trying to bully them, not extract carefully-concealed truths.

There is so much going on that these candidates never talk about...Every debate is health care, Iraq, the economy (and always in the vaguest terms possible) and then these niggling little "can I catch you in some slip or misstatement or inconsistency." When it comes right down to it, who cares if these people used to say one thing and now say another? Seriously. Let's take them at their word and consider what they're actually saying now. We'll never know if they're planning to do the complete opposite once they're in office anyway, so we might as well evaluate their decision-making process, professed beliefs and general intelligence, right?

Okay, so that's my Tim Russert rant. As for the candidate's themselves, I think Hillary came off way way too mean-spirited and angry tonight. I feel bad saying that, because people often characterize Hillary this way and I tend to think they're overstating it, but it's genuinely how I reacted to her performance tonight. Her efforts to attack Obama, for whatever reason, just don't seem to work, ever, and she responds by making them more forcefully, which just makes her seem agitated and angry.

She strikes me as being far better at playing strong defense than offense. When attacked, Hillary can often come up with a reasonable explanation or a carefully-worded evasion. Often, they won't make any sense, but you'll only realize that later. Like her husband, she's hard to rhetorically pin down. But when she goes after Obama, the jabs just never seem to land. Sometimes, she misses the mark completely and winds up seeming desperate.

The most obvious example tonight was the exchange about noted anti-Semite and all-around piece of crap Louis Farrakhan's endorsement of Obama. Russert asked: "Do you accept the support of Louis Farrakhan?" (Another question not worth America's time! What a shocker!)

And Obama answered: "I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments." And also: "I obviously can't censor him, but it is not support that I sought. And we're not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally with Minister Farrakhan."

Which sounds clear enough to me.

Then Russert asked: "Do you reject his support?"

Which sounds like the same question Obama just answered, repeated. To which Obama replied: "I have been very clear in my denunciations of him and his past statements, and I think that indicates to the American people what my stance is on those comments."

Denunciation. Cut-and-dry. Obama denounces Louis Farrakhan and his past statements. Let's move on...Oh, no, wait:

MR. RUSSERT: The problem some voters may have is, as you know, Reverend Farrakhan called Judaism "gutter religion."

OBAMA: Tim, I think -- I am very familiar with his record, as are the American people. That's why I have consistently denounced it.

Ugh. As if this all weren't painful and repetitive enough, Hillary had to jump in by bringing up an occasion when she, too, was endorsed by an anti-Semite:

And, you know, I was willing to take that stand, and, you know, fortunately the people of New York supported me and I won. But at the time, I thought it was more important to stand on principle and to reject the kind of conditions that went with support like that.

So, she's calling Obama unprincipled for not...what...super-double-plus denouncing Louis Farrakhan? What's he supposed to do, ding-dong-ditch him? Fart in his soup? Burn the guy in effigy?

It gets worse:

I'm just saying that you asked specifically if he would reject it. And there's a difference between denouncing and rejecting. And I think when it comes to this sort of, you know, inflammatory -- I have no doubt that everything that Barack just said is absolutely sincere. But I just think, we've got to be even stronger. We cannot let anyone in any way say these things because of the implications that they have, which can be so far reaching.

Wow. This is what you get when one candidate is losing by a bunch and your moderator is an idiot. Utter nonsense in place of actual political discourse.

There were other Hillary moments like this. She's essentially resorted to machine gun tactics: just fire everything you've got at the other side and hope something, anything, sticks. I'm really starting to doubt it will work (and I've been convinced Hillary would eventually be the 2008 Democratic nominee for years now).

My theory on both Hillary and Mitt Romney is this: they are too successful for their own good. They just win all the time, and they're so used to winning and succeeding, they are utterly incapable of processing failure. Romney obviously believed he could buy the Republican nomination, and when throwing millions of dollars at the polls didn't make them go up, he became frustrated and angry. He started lashing out (remember that tiff with the AP reporter in the hardware store?) and generally guaranteed his own political demise.

Ditto Hillary...In case you haven't noticed, the Clintons don't lose elections very much. I'm sure they're not used to it. And I think it's kind of freaking her out.

I AM Veronica Belmont

Mahalo Daily's coverage of the Golden Raspberry Awards...I am your host...

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Return of Tarsem

Tarsem Singh made that movie The Cell with Jennifer Lopez a while back, which was pretty stupid but did contain some creepy yet beautiful imagery. It felt like the work of someone who wanted to make something personal and idiosyncratic but had to cram it inside a mundane serial killer formula.

Eight years later, Tarsem's back with The Fall (presented by David Fincher and Spike Jonze, no less, who apparently have rescued the film from total oblivion). It certainly looks visually impressive, reminiscent of a Middle-Eastern Terry Gilliam, I'm almost tempted to say:

Don't Mess With Sexas...I Mean, Texas! Texas!

How do Texans do it? Even if you intentionally tried to elect the most enormous asshole to the governorship of your state, it would be hard to beat the record they've got going. George W. Bush and Rick Perry back-to-back. Oh my stars and garters...

Pandagon points me to this intensely hilarious yet terrifying interview with Rick Perry, who has recently completed a book about how the Boy Scouts were justified in banning gay troop leaders. Not an article or an op-ed piece, mind you. A book. An entire book. Not sure there's really a book's worth of material there. Let's see..."Ewww! Gay dudes! Gross!" Nope, it's only five words. I guess you use a big font and add lots of illustrations.

What do you think of Barack Obama? I think he is a very attractive, very intriguing and, to many, a very stimulating candidate. I think he is one step away from being a socialist.

And it's awesome right off the bat. He uses three words to describe Obama: attractive, intriguing and stimulating. Are we starting to get at the root of this guy's homophobia or what?

And can you really be "one step away from being a socialist"? (Not that Obama has demonstrated a strong inclination towards socialism. Out of the two Democratic candidates, whose voting records are both relatively moderate, he's the less inclined towards massively expanding social programs and mandating public participation.) I just mean, socialism is a vague term to describe a whole raft of ideologies and policies. You either accept some or all of these beliefs, or you don't. If you do, you're a socialist (though maybe a moderate socialist). To describe someone as "one step away from being a socialist" would mean that you believe they will one day subscribe to these ideologies and policies, but presently do not, which would be a weird thing for Rick Perry to say about someone he probably doesn't know that well (and may not have met). How does he know Obama's mind?

I think what he really means, if I can translate from the original Texan, is "I'm a coward who's too scared to come out and say 'Barack Obama is a socialist', so I will moderate this statement just enough to make it toothless and evasive, thus preventing me the shame and embarrassment of being called out on my bullshit."

The conversation then moves on to Perry's book about icky gays trying to ruin Scouts. The title? "On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For" Blurgh.

Why do you see that as a worthy cause? I am pretty clear about this one. Scouting ought to be about building character, not about sex. Period. Precious few parents enroll their boys in the Scouts to get a crash course in sexual orientation.

This guy is such an idiot. I mean, aside from the obvious "bigot" thing, he also just misspeaks constantly, much like his predecessor, President Chimpface McStumblefuck. "Precious few parents enroll their boys in the Scouts to get a crash course in sexual orientation"? I'd say approximately zero parents enroll their boys in Scouts so the kids can learn whether or not they enjoy the intimate company of members of their own gender. Unless the child happens to be Canteen Boy.

Reporter Deborah Solomon asks the obvious follow-up:

Why do you think a homosexual would be more likely to bring the subject of sex into a conversation than a heterosexual? Well, the ban in scouting applies to scout leaders. When you have a clearly open homosexual scout leader, the scouts are going to talk about it. And they’re not there to learn about that. They’re there to learn about what it means to be loyal and trustworthy and thrifty.

But don’t you think that homosexuals might also be interested in being loyal and thrifty? The argument that gets made is that homosexuality is about sex. Do you agree?

No. Well, then why don’t they call it something else?

Um, what? They don't all call it any one thing. We, speakers of the English language, have decided to use "homosexuality" as a term to denote those people who prefer to engage in sex acts with members of their own ("homo") gender. As opposed to those people who prefer to engage in sex acts with members of a different ("hetero") gender.

This is an argument? "Teh ghey wants to seduce your children and that's why he put the word sex in the middle of the word describing his sexual orientation"? Has Gov. Perry ever noticed that the word of his professed orientation, "heterosexual," also has the word "sex" in it? Solomon doesn't bring this up, possibly out of fear of blowing Rick's mind.

Bear in mind, Little Ricky wrote a fucking book on this subject! Hard to believe. Maybe it's one of those small books for preschoolers made of cardboard with only a few words per page. Or maybe the last hundred pages are just the words "Screw Flanders" written over and over again. I'm certainly not going to look for a copy and find out.

Liveblogging...We're Liveblogging...We're What's Happening...

It occurs to me that I spent all day liveblogging the Oscars and haven't written a word about it here. I guess it all just seemed kind of inconsequential this year. After months of expecting it not to happen, I think everyone just sort of got used to the idea. And I know they like to keep it at a reasonable length, but everything felt really rushed tonight. No spontaneity. It was very rigid.

I think the fact that it wasn't more competitive hurt as well. Best Actress aside - which was a two-way race between actual winner Marion Cotillard (whose movie I have yet to see) and the other favorite, Julie Christie (whose movie I also have yet to see, the plot of which Stewart turned into a weak Clinton joke) - all the big categories went to the expected winners. Many of the awards were TOTAL locks...Daniel Day-Lewis, Javier Bardem, Diablo Cody, No Country winning Best Picture. There was essentially no chance they weren't going to win. (I heard a few people mention Hal Holbrook for Best Supporting Actor, but Bardem was always the Conventional Wisdom). It kills any kind of momentum or suspense the show might have if everyone already pretty much knows who will win, and their expectations aren't subverted once.

And some of Stewart's lines were kind of funny (I loved the Norbit thing in the monologue about the Academy FINALLY recognizing films that weren't any good), but not so much the pre-planned "bits." (The whole thing with Travolta double-parking his jet was laaaaaaame. He'd never go for that kind of crap on "The Daily Show.") It felt like he was holding back, replacing his usually incisive wit with Bob Hope-inspired jocularity. And, legendary Oscar host though he is, I've never been a big Bob Hope guy.

Finally, what was up with all the Best Song nominees being from Enchanted? I know it's Alan Menken and all, but come on, people...was that all 2007 had to offer? Disney-style musical numbers starring the aggressively smiley Kristen Chenoweth? Where was this year's "Whoop That Trick"? Three 6 Mafia, we need you back!

Because I did the liveblog, I have a record of my Oscar-viewing experience, so I can treat you all to some highlights, with some commentary too mean-spirited or inappropriate for Mahalo:

- I really hated those "remember winning an Oscar" videos with all the legendary famous people. It's not the star's fault, really. There's no way to make a little film like that about being given an award and not come off like an egomaniacal show business phony. Even attempting humility during something like that would make you come off like an even bigger phony. Still, what was up with that Spielberg "winning an Oscar is like male menopause" line? He's got some pull in this town, right? He could ask them to edit that shit out of there...Just sounds weird and creepy.

- Speaking of ridiculous show business phonies, they had that montage of Best Actress winners and it showed Cher saying "winning this doesn't mean I am somebody, but I'm on my way." That might be the most insipid mock-humility I've ever heard. I'm constantly mystified by Cher's longstanding fame and popularity. Where, exactly, are you on your way to, 1988 Cher? (She won for the 1987 film Moonstruck). A featured role in the Farrelly's "slightly less forgettable than most other Farrelly Brothers movies" classic Stuck on You? A Michael Jordan-esque string of faux-retirements followed by half-assed reappearances?

- It's weird to me that Katherine Heigl appeared to have horrible stage fright, considering that she's a famous actress and all, but it makes sense. She got famous on television, not the stage. It's theoretically possible that she's never really had to do any performing at all in front of more than a few dozen people at a time.

- Why is The Rock still famous? He doesn't wrestle any more. He's never really made a good movie. (Some people like The Rundown, but it's mediocre at best, let's be honest. And if you like it, it's probably not because The Rock is great in it.) Can we all just move on from The Rock, please? I think we've all smelled what he's cooking at this point, and most of us just aren't really that into it for whatever reason.

- Seeing clips of Cuba Gooding, Jr. winning an award is officially Sad as of this year. It was funny a few years ago, when he was disgracing himself with Boat Trip, but I think appearances in both Daddy Day Camp AND Norbit in one year marks a paradigm shift. We're no longer talking a respectable actor who's made some odd choices. We're talking about a guy who is changing what it means to be an Academy Award winner. It now means, "individual who may or may not appear in Norbit."

- It's nice that Owen Wilson is apparently healthy again and ready to resume being a celebrity-type person, but I feel like he should have cut the tension with a joke or something. It didn't necessarily have to be a suicide joke. But he just kind of took the stage and got right into it like nothing had happened, but the whole world knows some shit happened. It's like, "you're the star of that odious-looking piece of shit Drillbit Taylor, right? Wacky it up, fucker."

- I didn't even watch Bee Movie, but from the marketing alone, I'm sick of death of this fucking Seinfeld Bee and wish he would go away and die forever. How is it that I love human Seinfeld so much but so desperately loathe his bee counterpart? They sound alike. They even kind of look alike. What is the deal with that? Who are these people?

- I've seen every nominated performance in this category. I probably would have given the Oscar to Cate Blanchett for her take on Bob Dylan in I'm Not There, easily the best performance in that movie. But Tilda Swinton would have been my second choice, and as you may recall, I wasn't much of a Michael Clayton fan. Though she was playing a stock character (hyper-aggressive but secretly vulnerable female executive), she really threw herself into the role. The wordless scene in which she freaks out in a restroom was probably the most impressive, performance-wise, in the film. (I really wasn't crazy about Clooney in the movie at all, save maybe the extended close-up at the end.) I thought she had the best speech of the night - no hysterics, no crying, just some thank-yous, a few quips, and it all came off really sincere.

- All of Jon Stewart's "pregnant celebs" jokes were kind of creepy, right? Especially the part about Jack Nicholson impregnating more women during the show. I get it...he used to be a ladies' man...We've all seen and enjoyed Carnal Knowledge. But the guy's like my grandpa's age, alright? It's gross now.

- Did I mention how much I hate James McAvoy? Who the fuck is this guy and how did he talk his way into a film career? In the movies, he's just bland and forgettable. In real life, he's obnoxious. It's really something...

- I wonder if the orchestra was at all affected by the flood of flopsweat gushing over the stage during Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen's "bit" about Judi Dench and Halle Berry. That was a 3 minute award presentation that seemed to last about 12 days. "See, it's funny, because they're fat young men, not and old lady and a sexy black woman!" Somebody get me Judd Apatow! We need 30 cc's of prime-time-TV-appropriate dick jokes, STAT!

- Harrison Ford and Jack Nicholson, at this point, clearly dread the Oscars and go out of a sense of obligation or to promote whatever they're working on. You could feel Harrison Ford wincing as he had to go through the motions tonight. "Oh, man, more of this bullshit. Do I still have that roach on me? It may be time for a bathroom break." It's kind of awesome.

- I know I should see Once and that everyone loves it...but I just can't motivate on it. It's in my Netflix queue, but never seems to make it to the top there...

- Most awesomely retarded statement of the night: Upon winning Best Original Score for Atonement, Dario Marianelli says "It's called a movie because it's a very moving film." Um, no. They're called movies because they are pictures that are moving. As in the phrase, "moving pictures." Not everything that's called a movie is moving. For example, Epic Movie. Also, Atonement was not particularly moving. In other words, STFU.

- One of the two women who won for that Documentary Short Freeheld (no, I haven't seen it) had the most irritating voice I've ever heard broadcast on TV. I actually wrote that on the Mahalo liveblog, if you can believe it. I don't know what came over me. I have to share my displeasure with this shrill voice with the entire world! Here's what I wrote:

First Oscar nomination and win for Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth. They're very excited, clearly, and thank HBO for showing this film. I'm sure it's a great film and all, but this woman has a very irritating voice. They thank the produces who believed that "a 38 minute movie can change minds."

What a dick. Also, I wrote "produces," not "producers," because I was going too fast. Dang.

- I would love to see the Coen's teenage project, Henry Kissinger: Man on the Go.


Oliver Willis points me to HilRod's blog, where she's pointing people to a "grassroots" pro-Clinton website,

He then points out a few facts about the site's founder, Reshma Saujani...She's a political insider, not a private citizen. There's nothing "grassroots" about her support for Hillary Clinton. (I feel like there should be some kind of a joke here. "There's nothing grassroots about her support for Hillary Clinton, unless you mean...FILL IN WRY TURN OF PHRASE HERE". But I got nothing. This is one of those occasions where I end up sitting at my keyboard trying desperately to think up something funny until I realize it has been 10 minutes and I'm wasting my life).

In Oliver's list of facts about Saujani's political involvement over the years (she worked for Clinton as an intern, she's a frequently contributor to numerous campaigns, she was a NY delegate at the 2004 convention, etc.), one stood out to me.

"She works for the Carlyle-Blue Wave hedge fund, part of the Carlyle Group."

THE CARLYLE GROUP! [Thunderclap]

And what family's famously involved with the massive global investment firm, the Carlyle Group?

- George H. W. Bush, former U.S. President, Senior Advisor to the Carlyle Asia Advisory Board from April 1998 to October 2003.

- George W. Bush, current U.S. President. Was appointed in 1990 to the Board of Directors of one of Carlyle's first acquisitions, an airline food business called Caterair, which Carlyle eventually sold at a loss. Bush left the board in 1992 to run for Governor of Texas.

If you'll excuse me for just a moment, I'm going to go put on my tinfoil hat.

No Country for Old Milkshakes...With, Um, Juno

This SNL skit from this weekend is getting pretty viral. Daniel Plainview and his son, H.W., host a Food Network Show about milkshakes...Guess what it's called???!??!?!?

We thought of the idea for a possible Mahalo Daily a few weeks ago, and I had actually argued against it. Seriously, a podcast in which Daniel Plainview travels around the neighborhood drinking people's milkshakes. "It's just repeating the line he says over and over again in the movie!" I protested, and I guess I won the day because we didn't end up filming the episode...or maybe they just never got around to it.

Seeing it done by television professionals with decent impressionists...I still don't really think it's the funny. He's still stuck repeating Daniel Day-Lewis' dialogue from There Will Be Blood and drinking milkshakes, which actually has very little to do with the character or the movie. It seems to me that Daniel Plainview could be placed in many situations that would be far more amusing than an ice cream shop, but then you couldn't use the catchphrase.

But, it's There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men themed, so I put it on the blog. And on Mahalo's "I Drink Your Milkshake" page.

The Best Part of Oscar Night

It wasn't on the Oscar telecast. It was Jimmy Kimmel's star-studded response to Sarah Silverman's "I'm Fucking Matt Damon" song. I give you..."I'm Fucking Ben Affleck":