Self-editing is overrated. Or is it?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

More cowbell!

Do you know what the world has been waiting for?

The world's first modeling cowbell! That's what!

You say you like playing that cowbell, but you want to get different cowbell sounds without switching bells?

HELLO! This is the cowbell for you!

Monday, March 19, 2007

OK, I'm still really sick...

But I can't resist posting this. My eyes are slowly coming back and I think I should be able to start typing for extended periods of time really soon. I'll explain all in a couple of days.

Anyway! You ever wanted to see the moment when a humiliating public event changes a life forever? When you can literally start the clock on how long it will take before someone begins a lifetime of therapy?

I give you the story of 6 year old Etta and American Girl Place.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Please. Just turn off the cameras.

A totally fascinating video, narrated and illustrated by one of the most original animators currently living: Chris Ware.

If you haven't seen "This American Life" on Showtime yet, this may finally be the reason to subscribe to the channel. Besides the soft porn, I mean.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Ann Coulter's next move...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Because, truly, what is St. Patrick's Day without a leprechaun?

One year ago a leprechaun captured the hearts of a small town and became an internet phenomena. My, how time flies. Today, on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, take a minute to remember the leprechaun from Mobile, Alabama and how one town completely lost their minds.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

If The Departed ran a workers' union...

it would be fuckin' AFSCME! Don't ask me what it means!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The new democracy and how to subvert it... (kinda like the old democracy)

All right, I'm not judging (well, maybe a little), but seriously, let's talk about you and your American Idol habit for a moment, shall we?

Having only seen this season a couple of times so far, I can only say that, more than ever, it's not about the singing, it's about the phone calls. Pure and simple. Either that or people keep confusing Sanjaya with Halle Berry, which is actually not so impossible to believe. See?


Anyway, where was I?

OH YES! The phone calls!

Now I hear what you're saying. "Lindsay, what can I do? I call and I call and just keep getting the damned busy signal. I'm a victim of circumstance! What can I do?"

Look, you got a computer, whaddya think it's made for? That's right, manipulating reality to bend to your will!

Introducing Dial Idol, the new computer software specifically designed for speed-dialing Americal Idol and shows of the same ilk (i.e. Dancing With The Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, Is There Nothing You Won't Watch?, etc.).

This is not a joke, this is a real piece of software. According to the website, it works like this:

- You download DialIdol software onto your computer. The software is 100% free & safe.

- DialIdol uses your phone & phone modem to automatically speed dial votes for your favorite contestants.

- DialIdol records the result of every call, a vote or a busy signal, then submits this data anonymously to DialIdol measures the busy signal to determine which Idols are getting the most votes, based on the results it can automatically direct your votes to one of your favorite Idols, but not necessarily your favorite.

- receives results from people all over the country and uses the busy/vote ratio to produce a prediction.

According to the website, DialIdol was 87% accurate for season 5 of American Idol and has accurately predicted the winner of every show it has covered.

PLus, they post constant updates to their predictions of who they think will stay on and who will be booted off. They can even tell what states voted for what contestants! (Memo to Sanjaya: head south when the inevitable happens...)

The only downside: it only works on Windows computers. Well, that, and the fact that you have no life due to your endless obsession over this show in the first place.

Not that I'm judging...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

So did you see The Departed yet?

Here it is, in less than 2 minutes. Just click on the picture.

However, beware! It does have some...uh...rough language.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Where not to hide your money from a burglar robbing your house.

Of all places, the blog called Personal Finance Advice has an interview with a former burglar and asks him where he would and would not look for money when robbing a house.

The answers are actually pretty interesting.

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Do you have a problem with squirrels eating all your bird seed?


Thank goodness. Then you can just enjoy this video of squirrels getting dizzy and falling down off of the Twirl-A-Squirrel like I did. Holy crap, is it stupid and hilarious.

If you wanna watch squirrels fall down in your yard, click here. Or just watch the video again. Trust me, it works over and over.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Whoo hoo! New LCD Soundsystem!

All right, all you techno-geek record collectors out there. You know who you are.

The brilliantly-titled blog "Charles Bronson Vs. God" has the first leak of the new album "Sound Of Silver".

It's called "Someone Great" and I would download it from here right now before Capitol Records sends THAT email that we all know so well.

The answer to your question is: YES, it is better than the mix track that he put together for the Nike/Ipod thing. What the fuck was that shit anyway?

Friday, March 09, 2007

What is the price of irony? At the moment, it's about $950.

What's this, you may ask?

Why, it's a massage table that's available for sale on Ebay.

Why am I showing you a massage table that's for sale?

Well, you may recall a certain minister named Ted Haggard, who while preaching openly against homosexuality, was involved with in a gay relationship with a masseur named Mike Jones.

Wait a minute. A masseur?

That's right. It's THAT TABLE.

Mike Jones, the former prostitute who serviced Ted Haggard, is selling the massage table on which Reverend Ted Haggard enjoyed/tested/didn't-really-do-anything himself.

From Mike Jones' Ebay listing:

The table where it all happened. Table is about 10 years old with a few tears but totaly usable.

Will autograph table if requested and in June an autographed book "I Had To Say Something" by Mike Jones will be sent.

The beauty part of this?

All proceeds benefit 'Project Angel Heart', who provides people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses nutritious home-delivered meals.

Nice, huh?

Maybe there is a God after all.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

If I gotta watch it, then you gotta watch it.

I'm starting work on "Troilus And Cressida" at Chicago Shakespeare this week, and I've been told that seeing the new movie "The 300" would be helpful in researching the time period. It should be said, however, that the New York Times sums it up as "Much butchery, some lechery."

BUT! The damn thing is sold out! We tried to see it at the IMAX last night, and every single show was completely sold.

So here's the first 5 minutes of the movie to watch until I can get in to see the whole thing. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I'll take mine without cream cheese, thanks.

AdFreak found this ad, for the River City Bagel & Bakery in Boise, Idaho, reportedly ran in the Boise Weekly. No wonder the place has a “fun atmosphere.”

It turns out The Vagina Monologues is playing in town.

Hmmmmm. I do not remember that monologue in the show.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Well, if I can't get DUMBASS, maybe this will work...

Click on the picture.

At least it wasn't a tattoo, right?

Monday, March 05, 2007

The sexiest thing that you'll ever see that involves no nudity.

All right. This next post is not exactly NSFW, but if you have those kinds of issues, you might just glance around before going further, or you may have some splainin' to do otherwise.

So we all know what the internet is really for, which is porn, of course. But what is porn exactly anyway? Traditionally, it's images of people having sex, but in this high tech world we live in now, well....let's just say things have gotten a little more complicated.

Which is why something like the website Beautiful Agony is kinda refreshingly simple and perfect, if you think about it.

OK, so the premise is pretty simple: it's videos of people masturbating. However! You can only see them from the neck up! That's right, no nudity, just their face. That's it. These are not professional actors, these are just real people in real places. Men and women. Separately, and occasionally together. They are not paid for their performance.

As if that wasn't enough, there's also a section called "Confessions" where the people tell what the circumstances were when they made the video.

What's it all like? Well, it's a wide variety of things, as you can imagine. It's occasionally sexy, it's occasionally bizarre, it's occasionally "Jesus, what the hell is going on down there?". It's an experience, let me tell you.

Since I first experienced this concept through a music video by a band from Columbus, Ohio called The Sun, I'm gonna put that video here first. While I'm on the fence about the music, the editing is kinda great, and it's a pretty compelling thing to watch.

OK, now that you've seen that, here's what it's really like in context. Don't say I didn't warn you! Choose your format below the picture.

play windows media

play quicktime

Sunday, March 04, 2007

I bet you a dollar that you cannot do this on the flute.

And if you can, I'm coming over.

Meet Greg Pattillo, master of the beatbox flute.

He's a regular performer in Washington Square Park in New York City, and lives in Brooklyn, NY. While I'm not sure I'd buy a whole album of this stuff, it does begin to undo some of the damage caused by 40 years of Jethro Tull.

Although he does play with other bands such as The National Debt (which is basically him and another guy who thinks he's M. Doughty), I recommend sticking with his solo work.

Another one? All right, why not. Let's do one that's popular around these parts, shall we?

Mr. Pattillo, when you're ready...

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Catfights with the sound people!

You know, the common perception about people who work in the sound industry is that we're kinda quiet geeks who hang out quietly in the back, and then occasionally blast loud noises to unsuspecting people in front of us. For the most part, we live in the shadows and never try to steal the spotlight. This is true.


Man, what a week it has been to prove that theory wrong! Sound people have lost their minds!

First, there was Brice Carrington. Brice is a Hollywood sound effects guy, who's name was supplied to a reporter for consideration for an article about him. Brice had a quite a story to tell, too.

Brice had come up from humble beginnings, selling records at swap meets and then eventually was able to get his foot in the door as a sound effects person.

He had received 3 commemorative Oscars for “King Kong,” “Ghost and the Darkness,” and “Jurassic Park.” He has created sound effects for 41 blockbuster films, including "Jurassic Park 3", "Blade, The Blood Hunt", "Rush Hour 2", "Van Helsing", "Superman Returns", "Spiderman", and the "Mummy Returns" sequels.

It was Brice Carrington who gave King Kong his roar, the T-Rex and other dinosaurs their menacing sound in the movie "Jurassic Park", put the hiss in "Snakes on a Plane", the swoosh in Superman’s flight and the swirling sound in Spiderman’s web-shooting. Carrington is the man behind the pops, bangs, booms and blasts of the firepower in "Miami Vice", "True Lies", "The Fantastic Four" and "The Incredible Hulk", etc.

Wow, right? This guy is clearly a Hollywood sound legend.

Only one problem. It was all completely untrue! This man had never done of those things that he had claimed, he just made it all up!

Slowly, other sound designers began to realize that this guy was claiming credit for their work! When the reporter contacted Brice to confront him with these claims, he responded with this admission:

"I am Brice Carrington. I am writing this note to address comments made about me and to state some facts about my work. All the statements made that say directly that I have NEVER worked on a film or have won an academy award for sound is absolutely true. I have never worked on a motion picture nor have I ever won an academy award.

The fact is, I am a sound designer, and I make recreations of sounds found in films and sell them to the public through a brand called Ultimate FX. I am completely responsible for all the misleading or incorrect statements made about me in the press. My effort was to create press for the brand Ultimate FX, which I am the author. I did this foolishly. This is a library where I have made my OWN versions of movie sounds. I have no association with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. I commemorate the Oscars by creating a version of the main characters in films that win Oscars. Like in Jurassic Park, we make a T-Rex using hogs in water, lion growls, a lawn mower and elephant roars. That is My version. I sell this and other sounds complete with the stems to consumers. This is a lawful enterprise, but misleading the public or allowing mis-characterizations is wrong.

I am issuing an apology for making all of the misleading or mischaracterizations of my work. I apologize to those in the sound industry and the makers of the original works and studios that distribute them for this offense. To correct this, I will ask for retractions were appropriate in the press. I will also refrain from any further public comments and allow the brand and the product to speak for itself through traditional means of sales and marketing. To those in the sound industry and those specifically I have offended, you have a right to be upset, and I offer my sincere apology. I am sorry that you had to spend one minute of your time addressing this. b"

Well, at least he came clean about it, but still! That takes balls, kid.

BUT! That's NOTHING compared to the balls of sound mixer Michael Minkler. Minkler, along with his two colleagues Willie Burton and Bob Beemer, won the Oscar this week for their mixing of "Dreamgirls". Among the people who they beat out for this award was sound mixer Kevin O'Connell, who had been nominated for his mixing of "Apocalypto". O'Connell had recently gotten a lot of press as he's the Susan Lucci of sound mixers: he's been nominated 19 times for an Oscar without ever winning. 19 TIMES! Who can't empathize with that?

Well, clearly, Michael Minkler had heard enough about this by the time he reached the press room backstage with Burton and Beemer after he had won his Oscar. A question was thrown to the trio about what advice they had for the losing Kevin O'Connell. While Burton and Beemer had conciliatory things to say -- "Hang in there, Kevin, you'll get your chance," Burton said -- Minkler's words were the opposite. "I think Kevin should go away with 19 nominations, and find another line of work." he said without cracking a smile. "We work really hard, and if we stumble upon an award, we are so grateful. I just wonder what Kevin's trying to do out there by trying to get an award by using sympathy. And Kevin's an okay mixer, but enough's enough about Kevin."

Reporters have a hard time trying to figure out whether Minkler is serious or not. Turns out he was.

But wait! Is Kevin O'Connell there so we can ask him for a response? No, he's not! Where is he?

Wait for it.

That's right. He's with his dying mother. That's right, his mother who was on her death bed, and died immediately following the Oscars telecast.

BOOM would be the sound that I would put here.

O'Connell responded the following morning through email: "As you may or may not know, my mother Skippy passed away on Sunday night right after the Oscars. I was holding her in my arms when she died. I was not made aware of Mr. Minkler's comments until Monday morning. I have not seen them personally and at this point I have no intention of looking at them or reading about them. I'll get back to you when I get that far down on my list of what is important to me. Take care, Kevin."

Certainly a dignified response. Other sound designers remain completely shocked and aghast at this whole thing. O'Connell's sound mixing partner for "Apocalypto", Greg P. Russell, was pissed to say the least as he spoke to about whether or not Minkler was serious about his comments:

"He was absolutely sincere with that BULLSHIT. That man has lost whatever respect he had from a ton of people. Kevin, mind you, left the ceremonies right after our award and went to the hospital where his mother passed away in his arms at 11:32 pm. As if Kevin didn't have enough to deal with. He wakes up to this bullshit."

"It's been a really weird couple of days. I've been fielding all the calls because Kev has been out. The head of our studio came in to say he blasted Minkler for his assault. I even kicked myself for being congratulatory that night. Minkler said to me when I congratulated him that I was always a classy guy and he appreciated that a lot. Integrity is something that means everything to me and this man has absolutely NONE. He stood backstage representing the entire Sound Community in front of the world, only to disgrace us all."

OH, LET THIS BE A LESSON TO YOU, MY FRIENDS. There is one rule in Hollywood that you must never never break. That rule is BE NICE TO EVERYONE PUBLICLY, even if they're screwing you. Especially if they're screwing you. Because you never know.

You never, never know.

Friday, March 02, 2007

How do you make a record?

Here, let's ask Duke Ellington!

This promotional short (or "soundie", as they used to call them back then) for Irving Mills' short-lived Master and Variety labels not only gives us a glimpse of Ellington and his band in the actual Master/Variety studios (as opposed to a soundstage set), but is one of the very few film accounts of how records were recorded, plated and pressed in the long-ago age of analog, shellac and 78 rpm. Narration is provided by pioneer radio announcer Alois Havrilla.

These soundies were short musical filmclips that were played in jukeboxes in the thirties and forties. The device that played them used a mirror. The films were made in reverse and then their mirror images were projected to the viewers.

You can find this film as part of the truly fantastic DVD that's included in RCA's "The Centennial Collection" CD, that's now out of print but still can be picked up here. I bought this cd for a production of "Born Yesterday" that I was doing at Milwaukee Repertory, but spent most of my free time watching this DVD, which is fantastic.

AND CHECK THIS OUT! Also featured on the DVD is this soundie of Duke's "Cottontail", titled "Hot Chocolates" features some ASTOUNDING dancing by Whitey's Lindy Hoppers! Watch this and see if their dancing doesn't blow your mind!

Duke Ellington Orchestra featuring Ben Webster
Whitey's Lindy Hoppers (In order of appearance):
William Downes and Frances "Mickey" Jones
Norma Miller and Billy Ricker
Al Minns and Willa Mae Ricker
Ann Johnson and Frankie Manning

The group known as "Whitey's Lindy Hoppers that appears in this soundie was also known as the "The Harlem Congaroos". They were the undisputed stars of all the groups of Whitey's dancers. After completing the filming of Hellzapoppin', the group had a contract to do a second film for Universal Studios. However, Whitey received an offer for them to perform in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, and decided he did not want his dancers to wait around for a script that was offbeat enough to incorporate the dancers. Such scripts had proven to be few and far between in the past.

In order to break the contract, Whitey agreed to make this soundie, which was an enormous hit throughout the United States. The bombing of Pearl Harbor took place while the Harlem Congeroos were in Rio, and they were unable to get back home to the United States after their 6-week engagement was over.

They spent 6 months working to make enough money to secure their safe passage back to the USA and finally managed to fly back to Florida, where they arrived with no money in their pockets to make the trip back to New York. In Miami they discovered that the soundie of "Hot Chocolates" was a big hit and was on every jukebox! They found employment with a nightclub owner who capitalized on the popularity of this soundie by advertising that he had the "Hot Chocolates in Person!"

All I know is that the peeople dancing in that video are made of elastic. There's simply no other explanation. They have to be.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Who's the guy in the produce section dressed like Darth Vader?

It's Darth's younger brother, Chad.

Chad Vader, Day Shift Manager.

In Madison, Wisconsin, no less!

This is Episode 1.

Go here to learn more about Chad or see all his episodes here!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

When late night TV was really something to see.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is a gigantic piece of crap.

There, I've said it.

I've watched it for some time now, largely due to the fact that there's nothing else on at 3am (when it repeats from its 11:30pm slot), and it is just terrible. I've had the chance to really reflect on why it's so bad, and while I could easily single out the horrendously repetitive band, the toothless jokes, the lame sidekicks, the endless gratuitous pandering to the audience, and the single worst comedy skits ever in the history of television, these are not the main reason why it's so bad.

That reason is a remarkably simple one: there are NO surprises on the show ever. Jay Leno clearly knows all the questions and all the answers in advance, and all spontaneity is crushed by this rush to consolidate everything into an easily digestible pablum. Even the surprises on the show are planned within an inch of their lives and there is absolutely no hiding it. It's honestly the closest thing we have to television programming for androids. It makes me insane. I yell at the tv screen constantly, demanding that the show try harder, but to no avail.

Maybe it's because I have a decent working knowledge of what late night TV used to be, and how dangerous it could be, that it makes me so disdainful of what it's become.

Tonight I was over at the lovely blog Jazz And Conversation, where it was reminiscing about the first television appearance of the Miles Davis Quintet. The year was 1955, and the band made its debut on The Tonight Show, then hosted by Steve Allen. Allen, an accomplished musician on his own, seems very nervous about the band's appearance, constantly referencing how they might put off "fans of Guy Lombardo" and also bringing up Miles winning the Down Beat poll that year for best trumpeter.

But honestly, Allen had nothing to worry about. After all, this is the quintet's greatest lineup with John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Red Garland on piano, Philly Joe Jones on drums and Paul Chambers on bass. The band rips through "Max Is Making Wax" and then gets all sweet on "It Never Entered My Mind". It's a great performance, filled with risk, for both the band and the show.

Take a listen to it here!

But, as strange as Miles must have seemed to non-jazz fans in 1955, they surely cannot compare to the shock that audiences must have felt the year before as Perez Prado, the king of mambo, appeared for the first time on "The Spike Jones Show".

As if it wasn't enough for audiences to be overpowered with the band's primal latin rhythms and Prado's inability to speak any English, his band engages a battle of the bands with Spike Jones's orchestra, in what is surely one of the strangest musical moments in television. Plus, Billy Barty appears from nowhere and gets in a fight with a tall guy in a sombrero!

An incredible event, take a look below! They just don't do it like this anymore.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

You know, they could fly me in this and somehow I'd still be late.

Finally, somebody has figured out the way to beat this whole "I gotta be somewhere in 2 hours and it's on the other side of the world" problem, and the answer has been staring us in the face the whole time!


Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, which has been touting the prospect of "space tourism" in the form of short, expensive flights into space, is joining forces with none other than NASA to investigate the possibility of hypersonic rocketships that could carry passengers between New York and London. In a newly signed deal, the U.S. space agency will trade facilities and services with Branson’s company and explore further collaboration possibilities.

Virgin Galactic has exclusive rights to the spacecraft technologies of Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites, whose SpaceShipOne was the first private craft to reach outer space. SpaceShipTwo, currently under construction, is due to begin testing next year; a rocket called (and I am not making this up) “The Mothership” boosts it through the atmosphere.

In the partnership, NASA will share technology, expertise and research facilities with Virgin; Virgin will let NASA test equipment and train astronauts onboard SpaceShipTwo.

NASA and Virgin Galactic have expressed interest in mutual exploration of space suits, heat shields, rocket motors, and hypersonic vehicles (aircraft capable of traveling at least five times the speed of sound). Unlike the currently planned SpaceShip travel, which basically involved parabolic flight up and down again, hypersonic travel would be geared toward crossing longer distances - for example, covering the distance between New York and London in less than two hours (hello!), or about half the Concorde’s supersonic travel time.

Hypersonic travel will run into all the environmental and noise issues that Concorde encountered and isn’t likely to happen soon (or soon enough, if you’re me). Still, the new deal with NASA gives a lot more credence to Branson’s hopes of opening space travel to, if not the entire traveling population, at least a larger segment of it.

Man! Sign me up! Can we do the same thing to my car too? You would not believe the schedule that I have tomorrow….

Monday, February 26, 2007

A new interview with me!

Well, I've just finished my score for "The Voysey Inheritance" at Milwaukee Repertory, and I'm really proud of how it's turned out! Thankfully, people seem to agree, so it's time for me to take a second to collect my thoughts and think about how things went.

Fortuitously, my old friend and stage manager Mark Sabha interviewed me today for his fantastic TheatreCast Podcast program, in which he profiles people of the Rep, and asked me all kindsa questions about what I do.

Check it out here! You'll need to skip about 8 minutes into the track to hear me, unless you want to hear an interview first with the fabulous directing intern Margo Gray.

If you like what you hear, make sure you go here to subscribe to the podcast, and then go here to cast your vote for it as the greatest podcast ever in the history of humanity!

(OK, not really, but it does good things for the podcast, so make you sure you vote!)

For a limited time, you can download the entire score of the Voysey Inheritance here. Just click on the download link when you get there, and you will get a zip file that contains the whole score. Act fast, the link expires at the end of the week!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Oscar night at my house!

All right. There were definitely some slow moments during the Academy Awards tonight, but we were not discouraged! Sometimes you just have to make your own entertainment, as you can see from this family home video.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

One of the many travel tricks of the trade...

You may notice my link for Free Traveling (to the right - look over there ~>) and wonder what that is.

This is no accident - this site totally rocks if you're having to book your own travel. Is it like Orbitz or Expedia, where you book the cheapest travel through it? Nope. You can't actually book anything through it.

What Free Traveling does do is chronicle any rate MISTAKES that hotels make, as in accidentally listing a room that costs $350 for $35! This means that, if you're fast on the draw, you can get a room for very very cheap or even FREE. Nice, huh?

Well, it's just gotten better. They now list codes for discounts on airfare too! That's right, these codes can be entered when you're buying airline tickets, and presto, you get an instant 10% off the final price. VERY NICE!

If you're traveling as much as me, you'll take any discount you can get, believe me.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I know all the secrets of the Oscars this coming Sunday night!

WARNING! If your name contains the initials "A.B." or you are overly-familiar with the initials "O.C.D." or are otherwise not interested in seeing any advance spoilers for the Academy Awards on Sunday, then you must click here for the one prediction I can make that everyone must know immediately!

OK? Coast is clear? Let's start spilling secrets for the Oscars!

Now, these rumors and predictions are things that I've picked up from looking around the web today (including the fantastic Nikki Finke), and as predictions go, they're pretty solid. So, this is your last chance, if you hate knowing what's gonna happen before it happens, click here now for the one prediction that I can make that everyone must know.

1. This first secret is big. Huge. Gigantic. It's that Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and George Lucas together will be presenting the Best Director award this too-long telecast. What a gimmick. It'll be interesting for Hollywood to watch the interplay among them. (If I'm murdered overnight, then the Academy did it.)

2. I can reveal another secret which the Academy is keeping -- that Tom Cruise will be presenting the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to ex-Paramount mogul Sherry Lansing. (This year, the Academy took the unusual step of not announcing which awards the celeb presenters will give out. This was done supposedly to heighten the suspense. As if...) Having Tom and Sherry do this together is an inside joke for Hollywood. Because both were shown the door at Paramount by parent company boss, Viacom's Sumner Redstone. Trust me, Hollywood is going to get a kick out of this, even if the folks watching at home may not understand its significance. (Then again, the Oscars are always filled with inside jokes enjoyed by the Industry alone.) Of course, Lansing greenlighted many Cruise films during her years at Paramount, where Tom's production company used to have its home. So the choice makes sense. But it's also a corporate laugh riot.

3. Here's another spoiler: Oscar telecast producer Laura Ziskin and Dreamgirls director Bill Condon have planned that each of the Dreamgirls -- Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson, and Anika Noni Rose -- will sing each others' songs from the movie. That's a cool concept: nothing's more boring than having the person you expect do the singing. Or maybe Beyoncé wants a crack at singing Jennifer's songs. Who knows... (But I can knock down right now one rumor flying around which I'll mention just because it's so asinine: that Michael Jackson will sing one of the songs from Dreamgirls. Thankfully, not even the Academy is that blind to the PR disaster of an MJ appearance on the Academy Awards. It's not happening.) Diana Ross, on whose life the Motown musical is loosely based, was asked to sing one of the Dreamgirls songs on the Oscars. But she said no, telling the producers, "I'm not interested in promoting that movie." She still claims she hasn't seen it.

4. Here's another secret: I'm told that there's a big change in the order that the awards will be presented. The Best Supporting Actor and Actress awards will NOT be presented in the up-front portion of the show, as in previous years. Instead, none of the acting awards will be given out until the last third of the telecast. The Academy is doing this, I understand, because Oscar viewership starts out strong and then wanes. Ziskin is hoping that this will keep the audience glued to the entire broadcast hour after hour. But I understand this decision was hotly disputed because it breaks with tradition. All I can say is that now there's not much reason to watch the beginning of the show, either.

5. I can also report that, after a few years absence, three members of the longstanding Oscars' comedic writing team are back together on the job: Bruce Vilanch, Carrie Fisher and Carol Leifer. This is great news for Sunday's telecast because their quick wits make the show that much more livelier and topical. They'd been individually helping -- for Chris Rock or Jon Stewart -- but not as a trio. FYI, they have not written Ellen DeGeneres' opening monologue.

6. Ellen DeGeneres is writing the opening monologue on her own and with her own team. I hear she has decreed it won't be political or mean-spirited. (But expect Vilanch & Fisher & Leifer to insert plenty of references to politics and pop culture into the rest of the show. Because Hollywood expects them.)

7. Speaking of Ellen, I can provide you with another nugget: the Oscar telecast kicks off with an expensive and "inspired piece of CGI trickery", I'm told. Along with other movie scenes from other studios in which she inserts herself, Ellen DeGeneres will be dancing with the Happy Feet penguins. You see, Ellen dances on her talk show, the birds dance in the movie, so we're supposedly talking synergy. Especially since Warner Bros., which is the producer of both the toon and Ellen's syndicated series, spent an enormous amount of money to make this segment happen and hired Happy Feet director George Miller to do it. (DVD out next month.)

8. And, the Oscar broadcast will feature some clip packages directed by top names in Hollywood. Among them, Michael Mann (Miami Vice, Ali, The Insider) looks at how America is portrayed in the movies, and Nancy Meyers (The Holiday, Something's Gotta Give, What Women Want) examines how writers have been depicted in films. I can tell you about the latter: as ink-stained wretches. (Remember Barton Fink?) Believe me, this is when the Kodak Theater audience will laugh the loudest.

9. One of my all-time favorite filmmakers, Errol Morris, is making a new Oscar clip short film! You may remember his last one from 2002, it's easily one of my favorite things ever done on the Academy Awards. Check it out below! See how many people you can name.

10. OK. I saved the worst for last. Sit down, ok? This is gonna be hard on all of us. All right, there's good news and there's bad news. The good news is that the great Italian film composer Ennio Morricone is receiving an honorary award this year. Morricone is known for such legendary soundtracks as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Once Upon A Time In America and The Mission, and generally regarded as one of the modern gods of film music. As a composer and fan of the maestro's work, I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that he is receiving this long overdue honor.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that, in tribute to Morricone, lyrics have been added to one of his great instrumentals from Once Upon A Time In America and the completed song will be sung at the Oscars by CELINE DION! CELINE DION?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? CELINE FUCKING DION!!!!!!!!!!!!! ARE YOU INSANE?!??!! IS THIS SOME KIND OF SICK JOKE!!??!?!


Oh, how I wish that this was a joke, my friends. But it is not.

Morricone orchestrated the song for 1984’s "Once Upon a Time in America," directed by Sergio Leone. Although songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman wanted to write lyrics for the song, the film’s producers felt none were needed. However, with Dion’s version of the song, the Bergmans got their chance to finally screw up one of his songs at last.

I'm sorry, but this is just the saddest development ever. I mean, it's like spending days to make the perfect steak dinner, and then, moments before you serve, you completely cover it in birdshit. AND I DON'T CARE IF THERE'S A TRIBUTE ALBUM COMING OUT! THIS IS THE OSCARS, FOR CHRISSAKES! LET THE MAN HAVE HIS DUE IN PEACE ALREADY!

You know, it's like he's the one composer who managed to get through his entire career without having compromise his music to accomodate some pop star, and his reward for this is to have Celine Dion sing some lyrics over his composition at the Oscars. It just ain't right, people. It just ain't right.

All right, I have one more prediction to make but you'll have to click here to see it!

The one Oscar prediction that I hope will come true

is that Alexandra Billings will be at my house for the Oscars this Sunday!

I have no shame whatsoever. Duh, right?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dammit, I miss Clinton.

I know, it's been a long time now. It seems like forever ago. We weren't in a war, we had a surplus, people were getting screwed in the White House instead of just screwing us. Man, it was great.

And his wife, well...I mean, she's all right, I guess. But she's not as much fun as the big guy, you know?

OK, so not all of you are gonna agree with this. But, honestly, watch this video about his last days in office, and tell me you don't miss him even a little bit. I bet you will.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wait. Isn't this a movie already?

Well, you may recall my good friends Heath Corson and Richie Keen put together a great little comedy called Hooked, about a hard-working schmoe who lucks into a pair of tickets to the Academy Awards, and then has to find a date to go with him. It's a great premise, with a outstanding cast including Jeff Garlin, Zach Braff and Rebecca Romijn, and it did well last year at the film festivals.

That's it, right?

Interestingly enough, no! In a classic case of life imitating art, there's now a guy on Craigslist who claims to be in the same situation, and he's looking for a date for the Academy Awards!

Here's his posting:

Reply to:
Date: 2007-02-17, 2:44PM PST


It looks like due to a huge screenwriting windfall they want to give me 2 tickets to the Oscars. Being single right now means, yes, I need a date. So I thought I'd try to find a "real" date with someone outside my ususal circle of friends.

I'm 38, successful, I'm told I'm good looking, blondish hair with blue eyes, 185 pounds and 6 feet tall. The only thing I ask is that you can be discrete when staring at celebrities, and of course don't be embarrassing while we are at the after-parties. Drunk is fine (and fun), embarrassing is not.

I'd think we should meet up before for a drink and see if we hit it off. Please send a couple pictures when you reply, not just asking me to send one first. I posted this weeks ago and ended up with someone who flaked.


I'd now like to say that I don't know this guy, I have no idea if this is actually real or not, I make absolutely no guarantees whatsoever about any of this.

But if you wanna go, you might wanna send an email and then get those gowns outa storage, girls!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Nine Inch Nails is totally messing with my head. AGAIN!

OK, I have not yet seen this reported by the mainstream press, so let's just keep this on the downlow for now, shall we? All right, here's the story on this up til now.

Nine Inch Nails has a new album coming out on April 17 called "Year Zero", right? They've just begun touring in Europe, and fans are getting to hear the new music for the first time. In addition, the band has slowly begun to leak out some new tracks from the album which sound FANTASTIC.

My favorite so far? I'm really into this super-funky-noisy track called "My Violent Heart", which you can hear here.

OK, so far, so good. So the band goes on tour and they're selling merchandise at the shows, and some intrepid fan notices on the back of the t-shirt that he bought that several letters on the back appear to be in bold for some strange reason.

Now, NIN fans are an obsessive lot by nature, so they put together the bolded letters as a sentence and it spells "I AM TRYING TO BELIEVE." So some wise guy, for the hell of it, types in and lo and behold, it's an actual website! It looks like some superfuturistic hallucenogenic site, where they are discussing a drug called "Parepin". This drug appears to be chronicled in a series of articles. In these articles, the government will have you believe that this is an immune system booster that will protect Americans from biological warfare. People who don't drink the water see something more sinister behind the scenes.

There is also talk of a recent phenomenon known as The Presence where many people have seen what seems to be a giant hand reaching down from the sky, Some people believe it’s god, striking down from the heavens. Others believe it’s a Parepin-induced hallucination. Others believe it’s a Parepin widthdrawl hallucination. One thing is for sure, people everywhere are starting to see signs.

There's an email address linked to the webmaster of the site, who claims to have stopped using Parepin, but any email that's sent to him will get this return email:

Auto-reply from wrote:

Thank you for your interest. It is now clear to me that Parepin is a completely safe and effective agent developed to protect us from bio-terrorism. The Administration is acting purely in the best interests of its citizens; to suggest otherwise was irresponsible and I deeply regret it.

I'm drinking the water. So should you.

Hm, ok, that's creepy.

So, then people started looking at the tracklisting of the album as it was being revealed on the NIN website, and through the bolded numbers and letters there, it led them to a different website:

At first, it looks like a very patriotic site, but you can slowly click on and drag away the imagery to expose a totally ravaged landscape like this:

Under the new imagery reveals a hidden message board, and then within that are a series of audio clips (here, here, and here) of people complaining about government intervention.

From this, we can now figure out that "Year Zero" is a serious concept album, set in the year 2022, which has been rechristened by the government as 0000 (or Year Zero, see?) with a story to explain where we are and how we got here. In Year Zero, there is no longer a distinct separation of Church and State. Perhaps due to an onslaught of bioterrorism attacks, the government has assumed totalitarian control and used the threat of future terrorist attacks to justify their absolute power.

From that, there appear to be a series of characters emerging, each of with their own websites:

Church of Plano

The Church of Plano
is a sola scriptura organization that uses the threat "Whoever Resists the Authority Resists God" to legitimize and support the current Administration. Not much is known about the Church, but it has taken a special interest in the Presence and is sponsoring a "Neighborhood Cleansing Program" so members can "put their faith into action".

105th Airborne Crusaders

Alongside the Church, the 105th Airborne Crusaders, a unit of soldiers whose purpose is to protect and police "God's green Earth" is further propagating the government's political and religious control of the nation. This faith-based squadron was created in -13 BA as a response to the bioterrorist attacks in Los Angeles. The 105th was formed by "those men and women who kept a personal relationship with our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ and allowed the Holy Ghost to guide their rifles true."

Be The Hammer

Be The Hammer appears to be a resistance site, linked to at the message board. It contains seven different sections or "entries".

Consolidated Mail Systems

- This is the site for what must be the main mail service of society (perhaps). It features a description of Opal (a new drug, supposedly for recreational use) stolen from a police officer and his reference handbook, as well as numerous crude drawings, including one of The Presence. It is definitely worthy to note that the page reads "ANGRY SNIPER sent you this message on Thursday, Feb 10, 0000." The title Angry Sniper is most likely a reference to the sound clip that features an angry guy shooting people with a sniper rifle. Interestingly, if you try to click any link on this page, it gives you a warning:

The page at wrote:

WARNING CODE 24.10.4 (All page functionality disabled): You are not the citizen assigned to this account. Close this window immediately and stay where you are. Authorities will be in contact shortly for appropriate reeducation.

Hm, OK, that's really creepy.

Now things get really weird. First, a new USB flash drive was found in the women's bathroom at a NIN concert in Barcelona, Spain. On the drive was a new song: Me, I'm Not and a odd mp3 file, 2432.mp3. This 2432 when run through a spectrograph revealed a new phone number to call: 1-216-333-1810. The phone number was a recorded phone tap provided by the US Wiretap. Now, after listening to the message, the listener is told to go to:

Meanwhile, another fan buys a different t-shirt at a concert and realizes that some of the numbers on the shirt are discolored:

The numbers on the shirt spell out the phone number: 1-310-295-1040, which contains another audio message with clues and a clip of Nine Inch Nails' new single "Survivalism", which you can hear in its entirety here.

Finally, in a totally obsessive vein, fans have begun to discover a series of codes hidden in ALL of these sites that all correspond in a series that indicates that more are coming, but there's no way to know how or when.

THIS IS MAKING ME CRAZY. I'm now completely sucked into this mystery and it's really hard to figure out where this is leading, but I'm totally hooked on it now. There's part of this story that I've left out due to space, but if anyone has any new info, please let me know and make sure you check out the NIN Wiki (who supplied a lot of this info) for the latest update.

Meanwhile, I'm really starting to feel a little paranoid about all this. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 19, 2007

How to unlock your car with a tennis ball.

Handy! If you're not a crook, that is.

(Actually, I bet it's even handier if you are a crook.)