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November 2003 Archives

November 30, 2003

David Cronenberg on Alias


David Cronenberg was on Alias last night, playing a neuroscientist with an experimental method for recovering lost memories through the use of drugs and lucid dreaming. The episode itself is almost an homage to Cronenberg's ideas and visual style...as Sidney undergoes DC's process, the show turns into one of the more visually and conceptually cinematic bits of TV I've seen in a while, full of Cronenberg's illogical logic, layered realities, and of course the requisite bit of Cronenberg's nonsensical corniness. In any case, before the experiment gets started, DC's character offers a nice little monologue about simulation, postmodernism, lucid dreaming, and fake bacon. Because we are nice people, we offer you this:

David Cronenberg on Alias talking about postmodernism and reality [mp3, 2.5 mins, 1.8 mb]

If you missed him this week, he'll be on next week, too.

Update: Battle of the Red-Haired Crimefighters

My Alias post reminded me that I left Jennifer Garner and the show's early days off my discussion of red-haired crimefighters last week. Relatedly, our friends over at Stingy Kids sent in some research to clarify whether Nancy Drew was indeed a redhead:

Nancy Drew was blonde until the cover of the Haunted Showboat (#35, 1957) depicted her as a titian-blonde (reddish blonde). According to this site, it was due to a printing error of some kind. I remember her described as a reddish-blonde but most covers show her as a classic blonde.

God bless the New York Times

Every now and then, the Times comes out with an edition so full of interesting information, it's like getting 6 papers in one. People complain about how biased the paper is, or how arrogant, or how power-mad, but when it comes right down to it, it's just a better paper than all the other ones. So we haven't done this in a while, but here's a list of most of the interesting articles we could find in today's paper:

This is just from poking around on the paper's website. If you sit down with the whole paper on your couch, you always come across even more interesting stuff than you ever seem to find online.

November 27, 2003

Laura's "Oh My God! Trista and Ryan Are Getting Married, You Guys!! Wedding Show" Recap!

I'm pretty sure everyone got completely sick of Trista just from watching the promos for this show, and so nobody actually tuned in, but it takes more than an annoying fiance obsessed with pink to keep our relentless special guest Bachelor-recapper Laura from watching. So here you go...Laura's recap of the Trista and Ryan Wedding Show:

Three words: Pete the Rapist. Yes, I’m depending on Ryan’s friend-and-groomsman to keep this shitty yawn-and-barf wedding show afloat. He even tried to rape a mannequin at one point! My God! All the boys were in Kenneth Cole’s special dressing salon, trying on their costumes, and the narrator described them as being “rowdy.” What I saw was Pete groping the dress-doll’s plastic bumps at first, then slinging her over his shoulder with all the gusto of an American G.I. nabbing a 12 year-old Vietnamese girl. Really, it’s pure horror to watch him; he is everything I despise in the male race. A big walking, talking block of meat – even one of Trista’s empty-headed friends seemed repulsed by him when he leaned over to tell her he wasn’t sure about Trista and Ryan (gasp!) – he said he thought T. seemed “high-maintenance.” That phrase should bring to mind someone like Diane Keaton in her early Woody Allen days, or Holly Hunter at her best: a smart, sexy, neurotic-as-hell woman. But Pete the Rapist (PTR for short) is talking about TRISTA here – take a good, long look at her, folks. In his raping crusade has he mixed words around, taking “high maintenance” to mean “low-class nearly-a-hooker” instead? It’s possible.

Trista IS a pain in the ass, if that’s what PTR meant. Aside from her trailer-park love of “pink, pink, pink,” last night we saw this two-bitster waited on hand-and-foot by the best designers in the world…and she STILL managed to choose the sleaziest, tackiest wedding dress and shoes available. Incredible. Not that I’m particularly fond of “top designers,” but some of them manage to produce spurts of classy inventiveness. T’s mom accompanied her on the dress-shopping splurge, so of course we had to see the obligatory mom-crying-at-daughter-in-wedding-dress scene. We were watching with a couple of “Bachelor Virgin” friends (it’s never too late to get hooked, you know), and as a sort of test we asked them: Why on earth is Trista’s mom crying? Their answers, in question form, put us at ease: One said, “Because Trista’s so ugly?” The other said, “Because she’s a whore?” These are obviously newbie Bachelorites on their way to becoming full-bred Initiates.

Trista has some kind of denim wear for every occasion – all different shades of jean jacket, including the anathema 80s “whitish blue” jean jacket, and a white denim skirt with blue butt-pockets that could have made Grace Kelly look like a Ho. I’m sure T’s outfits were made by Badgley Mischka (sp? Who cares?) or Ralph Lauren, but I could have cut ABC’s bill in half by going out to Penney’s myself and picking up their finest denim wear, and no one would have known the difference. A Ho is a Ho is a Ho.

Ryan was a walking zombie through this whole thing; he seemed absolutely miserable, except when he was hanging out with his platoon buddies. As T. led him around by the nose saying, “Pwetty!” or “Oooh, pwetty!” or “That’s sooooo pwetty!” or “I like pink fwowers!” to Mindy, the carefully preserved corpse of a wedding planner, Ryan seemed to have left his body. Where could this man’s tiny mind have been? Was he thinking how COOL it was to have Mindy, who planned ADAM SANDLER’S wedding, planning his own? That’s AMAZING!!!

The only one, besides Trista, who really seemed to give a shit about being involved in the terrible wedding-planning process, was, surprisingly, her father, who should have been screaming and jumping for joy. He said he felt “left out” when they were choosing the cake, the dresses, and the invitations. I guess there’s no need to comment on his sexuality here. Trista resolved this issue (not his sexuality, but his hurt feelings) by telling Mindy The Planner to “shoot him an e-mail update every now and then” so he wouldn’t feel so left out. Everybody felt MUCH better after that.

Oh my god, Mindy planned ADAM SANDLER’S wedding! That’s fucking huge!!! And CHARLIE SHEEN’S too!!

When they were scouting out the location for the ceremony – it looks like they’ve chosen some depressing golf course, spotted with palm trees, in the backyard of what passes for a fancy hotel these days – Mindy dyked out by insisting she and Trista rehearse walking down the aisle (at about the 18th hole?) toward Ryan. As Ryan watched the two lesbos approaching, he had a solemn moment: he said (in his head), that everything was becoming “more real for him.” When he and Trista tried on their hideous matching diamond wedding rings, things became really real, too. Also when she tried on her dress and also when Ryan was trying on his tux at Kenneth Cole’s and also when they were deciding which invitation to send out and also when they were hanging out with their friends at the party.

On a final note, let’s return to Pete the Rapist’s touching speech at the dinner for the wedding party. It wasn’t the rehearsal dinner, just the occasion when Trista and Ryan gathered their “closest and most dear” friends to tell them how lucky they were to be intimately involved in this crappy sideshow. Well, PTR stood up and told everyone how his dad had always told him, when he was choosing a woman, to make sure she had childbearing hips and good teeth. (There was a third category in there that we all missed). PTR actually had the decency to say that he “hadn’t seen Trista’s hips yet,” but he could see she had good teeth (from that relentless grin, I imagine), so he felt like Ryan had made a good choice. Trista was on the verge of tears at this, and he and Ryan embraced.

(By the way, I had initially planned on calling him The Date Rapist instead of Pete the Rapist, but my husband pointed out that this guy’s rapes would NOT necessarily have occurred/have to occur on a date. Excellent point.)

On to St. Martin’s, where we’re promised scenes of two hookers double-teaming Ryan at his bachelor party, leaving Trista to wander around saying, “wheaw did he go?”!!! -Laura

November 25, 2003

24: Use guns responsibly because Fox says so.

24gun safetyI'll let Amy fill you in on the details, but Tuesday night's bloody episode of 24 was so violent, Kiefer appeared in a public service announcement immediately after the broadcast to tell viewers, "In the world of 24 there is sometimes depictions of gun use that include deadly and tragic consequences. If you own a firearm, please practice responsible gun safety and keep it locked and stored away safely." (Note the ungrammatical elocution error of "there is...depictions.") As Kiefer spoke, an on-screen graphic referred viewers to the website for Americans for Gun Safety, which features a little 24 section. -adm

The riveting, unforgettable, and astonishing events of last night's episode left me a little cold. Personally, I was hoping that Kiefer would have to shoot Chase, preferably in the presence of Kim, thereby ending this whole misguided "partner" concept for the both of them. I guess the really especially mind-blowingly astonishing part was when the prison guard played Russian roulette and lost? Was that it? It was surprising in that it was the first time I have ever seen anyone play Russian roulette on TV or in a movie and lose. Has anyone else ever seen this? It was a tense moment, but as soon as Kiefer steps in and reassures the trembling, freaked-out security guard, "Just do it man, it's OK," well, that guy had to bite the big one. As soon as an anti-hero like Kiefer personally accepts responsibility for someone's life, that person's chances at survival are shot, so to speak.

The riveting TV that has me interested is the big secret on tonight's The O.C. I bet Kirsten's mom turns out to be Zsa Zsa Gabor. Or gee, I don't know, that Ryan and Luke are related. -amy

Losing Russian roulette on TV is something that doesn't happen too often, but I think I've seen it once or twice. Didn't it happen on the X-Files once? But I'm sure I've seen it in movies before -- there's the Deer Hunter and everything. Nonetheless, it wasn't particularly shocking to see it on 24, especially since the guard never said the usually obligatory, "Come on man...I have two kids." The only really surprising thing about it is the way that Kiefer is pretty responsible for the man's death, a development we predicted in our comments the other day. -adm

Mexican New Wave

Well, it looks like Newsweek beat me to writing an article on Mexico's New Wave, but they do highlight different filmmakers than I would have. Like this piece, mine would have centered on I驕rritu and his second movie 21 Grams which opened last week. This is an awesome movie. (I was about to say "amazing", but I think that Estella from "The Bachelor" has already stripped every bit of meaning from that word for the rest of my life.) Even though it was written in Spanish, then translated, even though it stars Sean Penn (who is admirably restrained in this performance, hopefully halting his worrisome progression towards Al Pacino-ness,) even though its complex, non-linear structure might have put off some reviewers (like Time Out, but they get nervous around weird structures,) it is incredibly powerful and great. Actors like Naomi Watts, Benicio del Toro, and even Sean Penn are all very good at physically transforming themselves from attractive, hopeful people to haggard empty shells when their characters are going through difficult events. Since this movie is mostly about soul-destroying pain, and the kinds of chance occurances that can make you lose the will to live, they all do a lot of these transformations. I wonder if I驕rritu was inspired by Naomi Watts' dual performance in Mulholland Drive: her character in this movie goes through similarly extreme shifts.

And then Guillermo del Toro. If you saw The Devil's Backbone, hey, even if you saw Blade II, you know what I'm talking about. The Mexicans have it for emotional intensity that still kicks ass, and they don't have to resort to obvious symbolism and stagey Sean Penn monologues to do it.

24: Groundbreaking because Fox says so.

24The radio promos for tonight's episode of 24 claim that there have been certain moments in television history that are so astonishing is to be unforgettable. They claim that tonight's episode contains such moments. The situation apparently involves hostages, so I guess we can expect to see Kiefer be semi-responsible for a bunch of hostages being killed in cold-blood. 24 is always at its best when it treats human life as disposable, so try not to miss it. We're told it will be unforgettable. And riveting.

Average Joe: Queer Eye for the Average Guy


Now that Melana has kicked out all of the nerds except for the two tall and not-completely-out-of-shape ones, it's clear that in the end, dorks don't really have much of a chance with hot ex-cheerleaders. But, we might find solace in the fact that Melana rejected one of the new surprise hot guys from last week in favor of average guys Adam and Zach.

But A and Z still face some stiff competition from Jason Storm, Pretty Boy. Jason, you see, wants to be a weatherman. "I've got a named picked out and everything," he said. But, Melana was concerned about which team he plays for. In an otherwise romantic moment on a covered bridge she asked him, "Do you like only girls?" He said yes, but you can't be too careful nowadays, ladies! When Melana asked how his friends would describe him, he said, "They'd say I'm a pretty boy." Do you know what we have on our hands here, folks? It's reality TV's first official Metrosexual! Plus he's a good kisser!

If last night's episode offers any interesting commentary on dating in America it's this: even hot guys get all starry-eyed around beautiful women. As the new guys return from their dates, they all come back talking of love and how amazing Melana is. As one of the average guys said, "You've got the Melana bug now. It's contagious." Well, if Jason Storm has it, Zach and Adam must have caught it by now, too. Gross!

The promos for next week's ep contain tantalizing images of an uglyish overweight girl tearing off a latex mask, about to reveal someone who is apparently not uglyish or overweight. Mini-spoiler: the promos claim it is "Melana's cousin," but I guess it'll turn out to be Melana in disguise, checking up on how the guys treat ugly girls. In a clip from next week, Zach complains, "It's not reality...It's bullshit!" He must be talking about Joe Millionaire, though.

Until next week, here's a quick NBC publicity interview with Melana.

Joe Millionaire: The Fakest Show Ever


Everything about this show was fake. Certainly, all other reality dating shows are fake, in that they put people in an artificial environment, but this show took artifice so far that it became almost impossible for the participants to have a moment of genuine interaction. Perhaps the only spontaneous moments in the whole series came in the closing moments of last night's finale, in which Cowboy Dave thinks he's lost Linda forever, only to discover her waiting for him at a ranch back home in Texas.

In every episode, Linda has talked incessantly about her "connection" to David, and that's been the only legitimate emotion we've seen since the show began, but the sum total of our knowledge about this connection is: Linda says it's there. We never see any substantial evidence of it, we never see David have a real conversation with her, we never see her do anything but cry or smile as she ponders the connection. After watching these people for 6 weeks or however long it's been, can we say we know anything at all about them? Do they know anything about each other?

From its earliest moments, the show's producers have seemed to control every second of everyone's time, and by the middle of last night's marathon episode (was it seven hours? Eight?), you felt like you were watching a director rehearsing with his cast: Go there, say this, then leave, then come back, then say this. Cowboy Dave, Linda, and Kat moved around mechanically saying lines they couldn't remember, and even the off-camera reaction interviews seemed scripted. When David tells Cat he rejected her, she's speechless for 5 seconds and then Dave abruptly leaves. If these people had any kind of real emotional bond with eachother, wouldn't they have wanted to say goodbye or explain what happened, or offer some kind of sincere gesture towards each other? We didn't get that. Stand over here. Say this. Leave.

But maybe David is nearly as much to blame as the producers. He seems incapable of expressing himself in a spontaneous way. Listening him try to string sentences together is as agonizing as listening to President Bush offer ungrammatical and incoherent remarks. Here's how he tells Cat he wants to be with Linda: "I don't mean this bad, but, like, I didn't choose you." As David tells Linda, the woman he supposedly loves, his true feelings, this is how it comes out:

I want to tell you a story. From the moment I first seen you, I knew you were special, you know. You have this presence. I think you're an angel. You are the most pure thing I know. I chose you.
Nevermind the "I seen you" usage. Just look at his last words, "I chose you." This is the language of the show, not of a person who truly cares for someone else. Even at the most emotional moment he's had on the show -- and maybe in his life -- David adopts the interactional method of a game show contestant which, of course, he is. Whereas other reality dating shows tend to feel like a game early on, eventually the artifice slips away as people begin to develop true feelings for each other. By the time the end of The Bachelor came around, it felt like you were watching two intimate people sort through their real feelings. By contrast, Average Joe seems only interested in mechanically presenting robotic contestants who do whatever they are told to do and feel whatever they are told to feel.

It was a relief to see David at the ranch finally react genuinely to Linda, who was obviously overjoyed at the opportunity to get to know him better. As she expresses to the camera her hopes for the future, she reveals this little gem: she comes from a "poor family" (her words). She even says she's going to use the money she got from the show to help out her mom and her family. The whole premise of the show is built on the notion of class: What's going to happen when these jet-set girls learn that their rich suitor has no money. In the end, though, when we finally get a small peek into Linda's life, it turns out that despite the producers' best efforts, the show wasn't about class at all: it was about two people who maybe actually aren't all that different trying to have a natural relationship despite the artificial obstacles thrown in their way.

November 22, 2003

Is Johnny Hart's B.C. comic strip anti-Islamic?

After this comic strip ran on November 10, readers wondered whether the strip may be designed to insult Islam by comparing the religion to shit, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement decrying it. The issues are summarized in this Washington Post article, which claims that the first public questioning of the the strip occurred in a WP-sponsored internet chat session [scroll to bottom].

Berkeley Breathed, creator of "Bloom County" and "Opus," a strip debuting on Sunday, discusses the strip and Johnny Hart in this in-depth profile of Breathed in the LA Times and in this chat session, also sponsored by the Washington Post.

Hart denies the the accusation, saying "This comic was in no way intended to be a message against Islam -- subliminal or otherwise. It would be contradictory to my own faith as a Christian to insult other people's beliefs." However, it's hard to find any meaning in the strip otherwise. Also, Hart is described as being deeply Christian and recently offended many readers with a strip on Easter Sunday 2001 that ended with the Biblical words "It is finished" over an image of a Menorah turning into a cross, a gesture that seemed to be an affront to Judaism.

November 21, 2003

Finally! Laura's Bachelor Recap: Post-post-partum Depression

estellakelly jo

I apologize for the delay, but I'm just now recovering from the melancholy that always grips me following the final episode of a "Bachelor." So, after a brisk round of enemas, poppers, and self-administered electroshock therapy, I'm ready to roll. (What's really keeping me going is the thought of Trista & Ryan's wedding show beginning next week AND the tape I haven't watched yet of the Post-Bachelor show that aired Thursday night -- when those end, I'll be screwed anew).

To maintain the illusion (for myself and all of you) that there is no finite end to this season, I've chosen to write this recap as a list of questions, many of which penetrated the doldrums of my post-finale hours. This will hopefully entertain you while it keeps me from jumping off…some bridge here in Wisconsin.

Do they have bridges here in Wisconsin?

Did Kelly Jo's rejection have something to do with the metal bar she wore across her breasts on the day Bob dumped her?

Can the word "amazing" really be used every five minutes and retain its meaning and/or impact?

Why does Bob's sister share a name with my security blanket (Dee Dee)?

Why can't I give up my security blanket? Is it a sign of mental illness?

Are Bob's sister (Dee Dee) and mother (Nora) actually the same person?

Is Estella really the skeleton of a toddler, or does she just talk like one?

Did Kelly Jo's rejection have something to do with the greasy jheri curl she sported on her last date with Bob? Was it just too much like looking in the mirror for Bobby?

Is it my imagination, or did Kelly Jo put on weight during all of this, thereby earning the moniker "Piggy" my husband bestowed on her from the very first show?

Can true love and companionship be based on a mutual affinity for real estate?

Is Bob's mother (Nora) really an alcoholic man?

Would Bob be able to get into a time machine and go back six weeks and stay there? (My husband's question)

If this had been an unrated show, would Bob's dad have taken Kelly Jo into the bushes during their walk around the lake and taken her from behind? And would she have acquiesced, in her attempt to win over the family?

Would Bob's brother-in-law have joined in?

(If so, that would have been the hottest action I've seen since the Amy's Robot Sex Tape.)

If Nora is an alcoholic man, and if she and Bob's sister actually are the same person, does that mean that his sister is also an alcoholic man?

So then is my security blanket an alcoholic man?

What does that say about me?

Even if these questions can never be answered, it's clear from Wednesday's finale that "The Bachelor" always teaches us something about ourselves, and about life. I learned a bunch of stuff from Estella, of all people! I really thought she was a bimbo, but during the finale she was a fucking Buddha! I'll leave you with some of her brighter advice to Bob, who was suffering under the pressure of having to choose one from among THREE mistresses, not two: Kelly Jo, Estella, and Sweet Phat Freedom. Here's what Estella said on their unromantic picnic by the shitty Michigan lake:

"Follow your heart. Be true to yourself. Whatever happens is meant to be. Simplify things. We humans always complicate things."

These pearls of wisdom were not as perfectly strung together as they appear above, but it was pretty damn close.

So she won.

I think my husband summed up the rightness of Bob's choice in just a few words, words that recall Estella's gems in their deceptively simple expression of philosophical complexities:

"Well," he said, "she won't run to fat like the other one, and her ass looks good in jeans." -Laura

Brainwashing or Persuasion?

The Washington Post analyzes the concept of brainwashing, particularly as used as a defense in criminal court. One of the sniper suspects says he was brainwashed to kill. This defense has never stood in court, even for Patty Hearst in the 1970's, one of the first popular "brainwashing" victims. The CIA admits that its attempts to brainwash people were failures (theirs are the only records we have of scientific research on the effects of mind control)--they concluded that brainwashing doesn't exist. Nice to know that our government sorted out that little psychological riddle for us.

A lot of psychologists believe that subverting one's identity and behaving according to a captor's commands are logical survival techniques, resulting from fear and confusion. You can control, manipulate, and intimidate a person, but their compliance with your wishes doesn't mean that their identity and self-awareness has been erased. The former president of the American Psychological Association says, "Brains don't get washed, but extreme forms of social influence happen all the time. Coercive persuasion? Sure it exists. But juries find it hard to believe. Nobody wants to believe human nature is so pliable."

So, ADM, come on. Brainwashing, nothing. We all know that you went along with videotaping your sick robot sex romps because part of you, deep down, wanted to do it.

November 20, 2003

The O.C. gets in shape

Good things are starting to happen to The O.C., a show that we have never been too hopeful about, particularly when the show lost all sense of tension at the start of the Fall season. Last night's episode finally used the pun I have been waiting all my life to hear: Ryan is from Chino. On Thanksgiving, Ryan goes back to Chino with Marissa, unbeknownst to her domineering drag-queen mother. When said d-q mother overhears Seth saying "Marissa went to Chino", and asks what he said, he repeats, "Marissa... has no chinos. She... she has no pants." The world fell over and died for Seth Cohen all over again.

Many other good points summed up by TWoP. Some advice for the writers: this show works when it's a sparkling, goofy comedy about rich people and their crazy lives in Newport Beach. It doesn't work when you remember that you're trying to make a serious statement about class in America, and you end up with dialogue like, "You've got a chance, little brother. You have to leave me behind." Can we please just restrict Ryan's screen time, and that of his unwashed friends from Chino, to making out with people, and let the other, funnier, rich characters do the talking?

November 19, 2003

The Pre-Laura Bachelor Mini-Recap [updated]

kelly jo

Laura will weigh in when she gets a minute [update: Laura is working on several nights without sleep, but is staying up even longer to bang out that recap...so just hang in there. -adm], but in the meantime:

We was robbed! Bob chose Estella?! CRAP. I called my bookie halfway through and put a yard down on Kelly Jo. I thought it was a sure thing! How can you deny that chemistry? All Bob could talk about was how great she was, and then he/ABC pulls the old switcheroo on Kelly Jo and us AGAIN (just like The Bachelorette last year! Will we never learn?) and we are left WITH NOTHING, and Estella is left with THE RING -- albeit on her right hand, which apparently in some cultures signifies (according to Bob) "a promise." A promise that I'm going to sleep with you as often as possible until I decide whether I want to move that ring over to your other hand, that is.

Kelly Jo says she wants someone to give her as much love as she can give him? KJ, I'm your man! I have so much love to give, and I will slurp your lips by the fireside repeatedly until you love me back. What? You have to be the center of attention everywhere you go and my mom doesn't really like you either? What's that? You only like reading romance novels? What? You wear a sexy-but-weird metal clip across your boobs on the biggest day of your life? Um, well, you know what, um, on second thought, I take it all back. I guess I would have chosen Estella, too. -adm

Because I was so easily duped last year when Trista chose Ryan, after careful editing and blatant suggestion led me to think she'd pick that other, greasier guy, I didn't have high hopes for poor little K.J. However, I have a theory as to why Bob picked the squeaky-voiced, pretend-sophisticated, manipulative, and crinkly Estella. I haven't seen any footage of Bob's first wife, but I bet she was a lot like Kelly Jo. You know, cute, Midwestern, perky, not too bright, with maybe some undercurrents of overbearingness. This really is the ideal type for a guy like Bob. Someone who will be sweet and cuddly, and not give him a very hard time. But given that the first wife didn't work out, I bet he went for Estella because she is the opposite of her: nervous, openly needy to the point of being cloying and demanding, whiny, and bony. I don't think he stands a chance against a woman like that. Anyway, I'm glad this show is over, so that my boyfriend no longer has to hide in the bathroom on Wednesday nights to escape the horrors of Bob talking about his interior, emotional life. -amy

WTC Memorial Animations

Maybe this will save you a little time. Here are links to the animated "fly-throughs" for each of the WTC memorial finalists. Each link goes to a high-bandwidth streaming Quicktime file.Interesting how the names of several projects share forms of the following words: light, memory, suspend.

24: Prison Break!

24Some good developments on last night's 24 episode: that irritating surfer dude virus-transmitter Kyle has been locked up in an isolation chamber with his trashy bad-dye-job girlfriend to mate and spawn new little idiot virus babies and generally stay off the show for a few weeks. Kiefer goes renegade (again! finally! the whole appeal of this show centers on Kiefer going renegade) and strangles Chase, Male Model to within an inch of his life, and also shares a tender and breathless telephonic moment with his one true love, President Palmer. The long silence when they just breathe down the line at each other gave me shivers.

Many of the best moments of 24 have taken place in jails. Kim Bauer picking a fight with her slut-rival-enemy in the first season, and now last night's prison riot breakout scene. Hoardes of swarming undershirt-clad tattooed muscle-man prisoners busting out of their cells and running rampant through the prison, and hopefully into the unsuspecting streets of L.A., and maybe, (oh please oh please) across the country until they descend on NYC's Hell's Kitchen. We'll welcome you with open arms, hot rioting escaped prisoners.

November 18, 2003

National Book Awards

Tomorrow we learn the winners of the National Book Awards for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children's literature. There were free readings all over the city this afternoon, and you can see all the finalists read tonight at the New School. My own Serbian hometown poet, Charles Simic, showed up late at the Astor Place Barnes & Noble today, after he encountered some wicked traffic on the Henry Hudson, but still read. His stage banter is also better than most rock stars' and celebrities': anecdotes about Chinese restaurants in the Village he frequented in the 1950's, his cat, and some improvisation about the self-help books surrounding the podium. Maybe he'll be asked to host Punk'd next season after the Ashton backlash hits.

Amy's Robot Sex Tape

amy's robot sex tapeparis

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past week, or you're the sort of out-of-touch rube who doesn't read two dozen blogs a day, I am sure you've heard about the latest scandal to rock the internet: the Amy's Robot Sex Tape.

It seems that a certain ex-friend stole a certain compromising video tape from the Amy's Robot video archive, and has distributed bootleg copies around Los Angeles, New York, and Hattiesburg. This outrageous and defamatory gesture will not stand!

After spending the last several days in a wicked K-hole brought on by a despair like you've never known, Amy and I have decided to make the only sensible move under such horrifying circumstances.

We are releasing the tape. Let me warn you though...It's raw. Very raw.

You ask: Why would we release this abhorrent display of orgiastic perversity? Because our therapist told us we needed to confront our pain. And you need to confront it with us. So, beloved readers (whom I love with a transcendent love, just as Kelly Jo Estella loves Bachelor Bob), I give you:

The Amy's Robot Sex Tape (Quicktime req'd)

I just hope we're doing the right thing.

ps. Here's some reference material if you need it. (In other words, if you haven't seen that other sex tape making the rounds, you might not enjoy this one very much.) You also need Quicktime.

Average Joe: Here come the hot guys!

Last night's episode saw Melana whittle her selection down to Zach (the arrogant prick), Adam (the nice version of Zach), and some other dork. All the vanilla nerds are sent home, but sadly, so is Tareq who is probably the most interesting of the bunch. During a competition for a private date with the girl of his TV dreams, he becomes enraged with himself for "not being able to master the sport of golf in a matter of minutes." The scenes of him golfing, or trying to, all the while chanting positive visualization messages to himself is the funniest stuff I've seen on any of these reality dating shows. Eventually, though, his frustration overcomes his self-hypnosis and efforts to "program" himself (his word), and he throws his golf shaft across the green, a move that demonstrates his symbolic castration, and doesn't do much to impress Malena, who abhors shows of temper. So long, Tareq.

And so then, after the elimination, the "surprise that changes everything" occurrs, just as we predicted a few weeks ago (see the very end of this post), and a bunch of hot guys (well, two hot guys and one sketchy-looking guy) show up, and Malena is knocked out, as are the remaining Average Joes. If the scenes from next week are any indication, Malena doesn't waste any time seeing if hot guys can kiss as well as dorks.

Joe Millionaire: The Return of Linda; David Breaks Down


In this week's episode, David gets the opportunity to call back one of the girls he previously rejected, and you could damn well bet it would be Linda, the only girl he seemed to have a genuine connection with. So Linda returns, and almost immediately, she begins exhibiting the same insecurities which led her to abandon the show in the first place. Cat, picking up on Linda's persistent weakness, manipulates the hell out of her, revealing all sorts of intimate details about what she's done with David since Linda jumped ship a few weeks ago. You see the delight in Cat's eyes as she tells Linda (in some language other than English) something like "On the date, David wanted to do it." Linda looks horrified as she realizes that some people in the world, apparently, have sex before marriage. Linda is paralyzed by visions of Cat and Cowboy Dave jumping in her head, and her anxiety leads her to nearly blow her second chance, while Cat is off actually blowing Dave. On their morning date, Linda makes the bone-headed, head-slappingly-stupid decision to (a) confront David about kissing other girls while she was away, and (b) backing away from David when he moves in for a kiss. Honey, it is too late to be coy! If you have any self-respect at all, you'll jump in there and start slurping! David is not smart enough to read the the implicit message in your prudity -- he needs explicit physical signs of love. Cat understands this: she actually WALKS INTO THE BATHROOM while David is in there, and God knows what kind of watersports the two of them get involved in. As she says, it's a game, and you have to do whatever is necessary to win, even if it means walking in while your man's on the john. Meanwhile, Linda is back in her room writing gushy love letters and wrapping up the overly symbolic present she bought for David: an angel figurine. Linda: at this point the only way that angel figurine is going to get you anywhere is if it dispenses KY jelly and you're the one dispensing it! Cat is going for broke here, and you better catch up.

The confusion brought on by Linda's non-kiss causes David's brain to split in two, and he spends most of the last half of the episode swearing and apologizing for swearing, as his cowboy brain struggles to decode Linda's reluctance and Cat's ruthless overtures.

The re-appearance of Linda does, however, raise some questions about the role of the producers in this show. It seems evident that the idea of bringing back a rejected contestant was entirely theirs, since they realized what David didn't: without Linda, the show and the relationships had no heart. There is some hearsay evidence that this is precisely what happened: at one point, either Petra or Kat is explaining to the home audience what David said about Linda's return: "He tried to tell me it wasn't his idea." Well, if it wasn't his idea, then who's was it? Obviously the Powers That Be told David, hey, the show sucks, we're bringing back Linda, and he was like, "Yes, masters." Amy and I were talking about the move before the show, and she pointed out that if you think about it, no similar show would ever have a reason for bringing back someone who was already rejected. It just doesn't make sense in the format of the show. But, since the producers realized they had a turkey on their hands without Linda, they made the only move they could. One can assume they didn't ask Cat what she thought about all this. Besides, she was probably too busy studying up on the Der Freude am Sexen to have much of an opinion about anything besides how to put her Offnung on his Grosse Aufsatz, if you catch my meaning.

Linda, we're pulling for you, but honey, put your mouth where his money is. And soon!

November 17, 2003

Battle of the Red-Haired Crime Fighters

If you watch any primetime cop dramas, you might have noticed an abnormally high number of red-haired investigators tracking down bad guys lately. Obviously, CSI: Miami has veteran investigator David Caruso working cases, but the original CSI features Marg Helgenberger, Law & Order: SVU recently added Diane Neal as a red-haired assistant district attorney, and on Law & Order: Crimininal Intent, the pregnant Kathleen Erbe has been replaced by Samantha Buck, yet another redhead.

So why the sudden density of flame-haired investigators, particularly flame-haired female investigators? Is their hair a metaphor for their passioniate approach to their cases? A message that their steely exterior will become red hot if we push them too far? Or, perhaps, are they there to remind us of a certain investigators from the past, namely...Dana Scully.

scullyDoesn't TV feel a little empty since Scully left? It seems possible that the shows' producers have introduced these neo-Scullys to assuage, or take advantage of, our yearning for her. They knew we would tune in every week to watch Gillian Anderson redefine what it meant to be a crime-fighting woman on television, so maybe they assume we'll tune in again to watch these new ladies follow in Scully's footsteps, much as Scully picked up where Clarice Starling left off. But since the connections between these shows and the X-Files are not as close as X-Files was to Silence of the Lambs, they've relied on cosmetic, rather than conceptual, similarities. They figure our brains will make the subliminal connection between Scully and Marg, Samantha, and Diane, and project on to them all the lingering positive feelings we have for Scully. More, more, more. The trouble is, although all of these women approach their characters with the same cool temperament Scully made famous, they lack the softer side that she would reveal to us at the end of every few episodes. I don't watch CSI enough to know how Marg plays her emotional moments, but when SVU's Neal tried it, it felt tacked on and forced. On Criminal Intent, Buck hasn't been around long enough to do much self-reflection, but so far, she's played it completely straight around good ole Vincent D'Onofrio. Her character seems slightly in awe of his Sherlockian manner and brilliance, but doesn't want to let on, so she's tough all the time, and never emotional.

To tell you the truth, I think Caruso's character landed on CSI: Miami for a similar kind of nostalgia, except in this case, the producers are playing off of a nostalgia for Caruso himself. Not that I really watched his earlier show, but after Caruso left NYPD Blue in the early days to pursue what would become a failed film career, it seemed like he had been from the show untimely ripped, and the hole he left there was never filled. So fans of NYPD Blue have been sitting around for 10 years or so waiting for Caruso to return to a cop drama, and with CSI, they finally got their wish. His supporting cast is so invisible, they may as well call the show NYPD Miami.

I would like to think that the prevalence of red hair in mysteries could be reliably traced back to earlier influences than Scully and NYPD Blue, such as Holmes' case of The Red-Headed League, but without color TV back in the 1880s, how could we know? I think I'm not alone in this notion: when Mystery!/Granada TV put together the outstanding Sherlock Holmes series starring Jeremy Brett, I believe Irene Adler, the nemesis from A Scandal in Bohemia whom Holmes would never forget, was cast as a redhead. Unless, of course, I'm just projecting my nostalgic love for Scully onto her, too.

ps. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Melissa Leo as Det. Kay Howard on Homicide: Life on the Street, a role she took on around the same time Gillian appeared as Scully. And: Did Nancy Drew have red hair? Not sure.

Update to this post.

November 14, 2003

Renowned NYC chef caught in 9/11 fraud

The NY Post reports today that David Bouley, the owner of Bouley and Danube, two big-time Tribeca restuarants, is under investigation for 9/11-related insurance fraud. He reportedly charged the Red Cross $5.8 million for feeding their workers from his temporary food service stations, but then neglected to report this income to his insurance company when filing claims for losses sustained by his two restaurants.

This is a shame. I worked for Bouley serving meals to rescue/recovery workers in the aftermath of 9/11. He and I spent several hours one night in the back of a semi-truck throwing 50-lb sacks of carrots and potatoes to a line of workers who conveyed them to the kitchen where meals were prepared and then shuttled to Ground Zero. Although I didn't know him well, I may have never seen anybody work as hard (besides the recovery workers) as Bouley did in the weeks following the attacks. He was onsite almost 24 hours a day for weeks on end, and almost single-handedly established "the green tarp" food service location just a few feet from the pile of rubble. The firefighters and steel workers I met were universally grateful for the amazing food David and his team provided while they worked long and dangerous hours on the pile.

And yet, as the weeks wore on, there was some buzz that Bouley was going to take the unusual step of bidding on the long-term catering services for Ground Zero employees who, within 5 weeks of the disaster, were comprised mostly of non-unionized day laborers who were given inadequate training and protection. While everyone from (I think) Aramark/Marriott to the Red Cross bid on providing services, Bouley low-balled everybody, and people wondered how he was able to provide services for such a low cost. The answer: volunteer labor. The word around was that while all the other service companies had to pay their employees, Bouley was going to continue to rely on the volunteers (like me) who had worked the site in the earlier days after the attack. This rubbed some people the wrong way, but Bouley got the contract anyway. I am not sure how it worked out, but I do know that his restaurants' staff members were working long hours for no pay while the restaurant remained closed, and Bouley got into a rather heated and prolonged confrontation with them about what, if any, pay they could expect. I imagine that after the volunteer spirit wore out, Bouley relied on paid employees, but it was no secret that he stood to make a windfall from the Ground Zero contract, despite the closings of his restaurants.

If you Google around for info on Bouley, you'll see a lot of negative comments on his personality and management practices, and this latest report only seems to buttress these allegations, but in the days after the attacks, he was doing something to take care of the rescue workers' basic needs, while nearly everyone else was sitting around wondering what to do.

A bit of a disclaimer: this account is based mainly on my memory of events around 9/11, and most of that info was based on rumors I would hear around Ground Zero. I'm sorry if any of it is inaccurate.

Downloads for DJs

Tom Silverman, the chair of Tommy Boy Records, plans to launch a new download service called DJ Xpress, where you can buy three versions or remixes of any song for $2.79. Looks like vinyl sales have fallen along with the rest of the industry. Now you'll be able to get all those old Dust Brothers mixes that are too obscure for iTunes and also didn't get compiled. -amy

That may be fine for the Crobar and Avalon set, but how are Amy and I going to scratch MP3s at the DMC World DJ Championships next year? Besides, we can't do our patented synchronized-handstand-on-each-turntable move on an iPod. -adm

November 13, 2003

Laura's Bachelor Recap: The Sorority/Cheerleader Reunion Episode

leeannBefore I begin, THANK YOU HOLY OF HOLIES FOR GIVING US TWO HOURS NEXT WEEK. It's about time. Is it possible we saw a teeny tiny glimpse of Kelly Jo sporting a Bob-look-alike JHERI-CURL on her Last-Chance date with Bob?? Beautiful acts of desperation, way beyond giving up the (rhymes with) stuff, are in store for us all.

Trista and Ryan are getting MARRIED, you guys!!! The fun does not have to end with this season. It's such a relief.

You guys, I feel like I haven't been totally honest with you in the past recaps. I feel like I've been putting on a voice that wasn't true to my heart, and I want to follow my heart, because all of the girls on the show have been so honest, and I respect that. So for the recap of last night's reunion show I知 going to open up and reveal my inner self.

meredithWHAT was Meredith wearing last night that made her look so fat? I thought she was a Kappa, but now me and my friend (who is also a Kappa) think she's probably a THETA. Thetas are lower in the order of things if you don't know. I mean they're kind of like Kappas, but a little bit more down-to-earth is what they would say. We would say they just don't quite have the class that Kappas have. Although she could still be a Kappa, because she was like, "get me out of here," for that scene in the hot tub when they were all cheering. It's true some Kappas may have been cheerleaders, usually in middle or high school, but they would never be cheerleaders in college, and they certainly wouldn't be cheering on TV. So she obviously has some class even though her parents weren't exactly what we expected - they seemed a little bit poor, right? Not that there's anything wrong with cheering in the hot tub, actually -- I think she was probably just jealous because those girls were much younger than her and had a lot of spirit. She should have been like, "hey, you guys are really talented" instead of rolling her eyes and making fun of them. So this just came into my head, but here's a cheer for Meredith:

Hey! Big Sister! Hey hey, Big Sister!
You don't have to be so glum
In the hot tub with your chums
Why don't you just loosen up
But DON'T wear off-the-shoulder stuff
Hey! Big Sister! Hey hey, Big Sister!

maryI don't know why I'm calling her Big Sister but it seems to fit, especially since she's so much older (and bigger) than everybody else, except for Mary who is the "oldest bachelorette ever." Oh my god! How embarrassing would that be?! I mean, I respected her for opening up the way she did and for still looking really good at that age, but I would just die if everyone knew I was 35 and had also been dumped by TWO fiances on top of Bob, who is not that hot in the overall scheme of things. I think it's really possible they might pick Mary to be the next Bachelorette, but I think she'll have to have some work done because you can see her age a little bit, especially around the eyes and the mouth. She could at least have some Botox injections, which are way cheaper than other types of plastic surgery, and even some younger women do it sometimes, just to freshen up the face a little, like a mask that lasts longer.

Mary, Mary, don't you cry
Even though you're thirty-five
Hopefully you'll have more tries
Or at least just one more try
Go Mary, Go Mary, Go! Go Mary, Go Mary, Go!

I want that last part to send her out there with a lot of positive spirit, because everyone knows she needs it. But back to Meredith for a second - her idea that she was totally to blame for what happened with Bob (mostly because of her grandma dying) was way out of line. I mean, he came right out and SAID he didn't want her, but she still kept saying, "it's all my fault." So in that way I guess she kind of IS more of a Kappa than a Theta because Kappas are really proud so they would totally deny that a guy could break up with them unless it was because of something they did on purpose, and not something he chose to do. But she should NOT have taken him to the graveyard -- no guy would ever be into that, especially on a second date or ever really, even after you're married. I would never tell my guy that my grandmother had died and I was sad, can you help me, that is such a major turn-off.

Okay, I wrote a cheer for blondes because I felt so angry at Bob - it was just like that kind of ugly blond girl said last night: why did he dump all the blondes? And before I cheer, I have another question: who were all those dogs in the audience? Are they the girls who sent in applications but didn't get even past the first round so they gave them tickets to the reunion show or something?

Oh! My God! Oh, oh my god!
Blondes are so awesome! They can really rock!
Bob doesn't like 'em, but hey we just don't care!
He's kind of fat and greasy, don't like his beady stare.
So Bob, if you're listenin', this one goes to you:
We are so perfect,

That last part you have to kind of lower your voice and do what we call a "grunt" in cheering, even though I didn't cheer after middle school, but I remember the grunt because it sounds almost like an animal. It's really fun to do and adds some anger to the end of a cheer, which can be really important if your team is losing, not that blondes are ever losing.

I'm kind of embarrassed to say this, but I LOVED Lee Ann last night. First of all, she was so pretty, she looked way better than Meredith, and really she has her head together and knows what she wants. What she said about not being a bridesmaid but being a bride, for instance, makes a lot of sense. But everyone still seems to hate her, especially the live audience. But why should she care about that audience? They were just ugly, jealous girls who didn't make it as far as she did.

Heeeeeyyyyy Lee Ann!
Goooooooooo Lee Ann!
You will get a man!
You might not have no friends, but you will get a man!
You're still young and lively, some say you're a bitch,
But hey you're really thriving, those girls just have the itch!
Goooooooo Lee Ann! Gooooooooo Lee Ann!

Someone who just read that said it looked like "goo" but it should be "go" just with a really long "O" sound. And also, "the itch" isn't supposed to be something gross, I just meant jealousy! But I guess it could also have two meanings, that makes it more interesting, even though I usually wouldn't say stuff like that. But it's a cheer, so it's different than saying it.

kelly jo When Bob came out, oh my god! I was so surprised to see him! He was really uncomfortable when that girl from the audience asked him about intimacy, and I thought his answer was really good when he said it was a private thing that was totally up to the individual couples, and NOT something to talk about on television. Haven't these people ever heard of dignity? And why was the girl who asked that question SO UGLY and kind of fat? Where did they get these people? Bob is not perfect, and he must remember being fat not so long ago, and you know that people who were fat once can easily slip back into that, but still, they should have screened the audience more. You know, I don't really understand everyone's problem with Lee Ann because isn't that the way life works? Maybe these girls are just too immature or something, but I think it's totally natural to say, hey how are you, and smile and stuff, and then the next minute be like, "Get away from me, and don't take that guy because I like him, and I'm going upstairs with him before you can get your dirty hands on him you bitch, and I'll kill you if you try to beat me." That was my take on the show last night you guys. I'm still totally betting on Kelly Jo, and even though I like Estella and really want her figure (she has a way better figure than Kelly Jo), I think Kelly Jo will win because basically she's a Tri-Delt (kind of slutty but cute and outgoing) and Bob is a Kappa Sig (football players), and those two go together like PB & J.

Good luck Estella! Good luck Kelly Jo!
Estella, you're so skinny!
Tri-Delts are mainly ho's!
Just remember, Stella, when he picks Kelly Jo,
Hey, you've got your figure
Kelly Jo can be a ho and have the Joe whose weight will yo-yo-yo-yo-YO!

Wow, that one came out really strange, but I kind of like it. I hope that last line comes across without me actually doing the cheer for you. Anyway, thanks for letting me open up and be real this time, you guys. I can't WAIT for next week. -Laura

Southern Ex-Democrats speak out

The LA Times features a dispatch from Greenville, SC, with interviews with regular people about what happened to the Democratic party in the south, and how people are responding to Dean. As you might expect, white southerners are increasingly thinking of Democrats as the Black Party. As more and more middle-class white people populate southern states, there are fewer working-class people to ally themselves with the labor issues that used to be the backbone of the Democratic party. As people who identify as working-class feel increasingly out of touch with the Democratic party (many people interviewed cite gay rights battles as an alienating force,) they are turning to what they view as a more traditionalist group, the Republicans. The only hope, if southern people continue thinking of party identification as an extension of social class, is that our tanking economy will realign those on the brink of financial trouble with the Democrats. The President of the state's Democratic party says, "I don't want horrible things to happen so the Democrats can gain. But if this keeps up you're going to see Democrats start to win."

So now the Democrats are the guys that we call in to clean up the Republicans' economic mess? Look you Southern ex-Dems: you elected Bush. Don't give me your bigoted, homophobic neuroses as an excuse. This isn't about regional identification, this is about trying to keep our country from getting ruined.

November 12, 2003

Babies + Cockroaches = Angry Brits

Barnardo's, a prominent UK children's charity, has drawn criticism for a recent gross-out ad campaign that features babies with things other than silver spoons in their mouths. See the ads here. In their defense, the organization makes the case for using shocking images to convey shocking living conditions for nearly half of London's children, who live in poverty.

24: Secret Crushes Revealed

Lots of magical things happened on last night's episode of the Season of Nonevents and Nonmurders at 24. The immediate, full-force, chainsaw-weilding attack of the CDC people on the non-drug-dealing kid's apartment, and the tasteful use of plastic shower curtains to seal off the virus were thrilling, and probably one of the more interesting sets the show's designers have gotten to do. Also ingenious was the headset that Kiefer wears inside his CDC spacesuit, and the scene in which he learns of the lawyer's murder, lurches into a super-fast biohazard shower, emerges from all the shower curtains, rips off his spacesuit helmet, and pukes. And the nearly instantaneous chemical analysis of the non-cocaine using some kind of virus-to-ethernet interface, via a laptop, was the most baffling use of whatever technology yet this season. I was already wavering on this season, I admit. But now that everybody's secret crush, Tony Almeida, has been shot in the neck, and lies bleeding and writhing on the second story floor of the Los Feliz mall, well, I guess they got my attention. Tony, just so you know, I am momentarily redirecting my ardent celebrity love for Mark Ruffalo to you, with the hope that my passion will cauterize your wounds. Please don't die. -amy

Amy, that is very selfless of you to you redirect your love for Ruffalo to Tony so that he will live, but that is a slippery slope. Ruffalo's floppy penis, as exhibited in In the Cut, has a mind of its own, and it may not respond well to your lack of attention. Instead, you should submit to Ruffalo's fleshy member -- as it wants you to -- and ask it to use its healing powers on Tony. Shot in the neck? Only one thing can save him now: the life-giving powers of Ruffalo's floppy love shaft. -adm

November 11, 2003

Joe Millionaire: The Long Last Gasp


Ever since Czech beauty Linda took herself out of the running on this show, there really hasn't been much of a reason to watch it, since David just seemed to be trying to convince himself that he was interested in the remaining ladies. If the show was to hold your interest at all, it was because of the cruel antics of Olinda, the potty-mouthed, gold-digging Swede. Last night, Fox aired two consecutive episodes of Joe Millionaire, International Edition, a move which seems to indicate they just want to be done with it as soon as possible, due to its poor ratings. They should have aired three in a row.

Over the course of the two episodes, Olinda, who is so obnoxious you can't even stand it, picked on Cat so much that Cat went back to her bed and started crying. But it was Cat who hooked up with Cowboy Dave on their date and snuck back into his room while all the other girls were sleeping, a brilliantly calculated move. Eventually, after what felt like 6 hours of Millionaire (even though I fast-forwarded through most of it), David (who seemed oblivious to Olinda's cruel ways) eliminated Olinda, leaving Cat and two very beautiful (but otherwise non-descript) girls behind.

And now, officially, there is no reason left to watch this show, unless you're the sort of person who likes flavorless yogurt for dessert.

November 10, 2003

America's White Sweethearts: The TV Movie Versions +

america's white sweethearts

Fittingly, last night featured the movie-of-the-week versions of the Jessica Lynch and Elizabeth Smart stories. Each movie does a disservice to its subject, as both Jessica and Elizabeth are portrayed as spineless, wide-eyed blonde waifs cast adrift in a scruffy-bearded sea of troubles. Since TV movies tend to glorify their subjects, this treatment was surprising. Rather than focus on the courage that each woman must have had to get through her experience, the movie plays up their helplessness and concentrates instead on the tireless efforts of the men who worked to rescue their damsels in distress.

Jessica has about 10 lines of dialogue in her movie, and spends most of it on her back, looking scared as hell, shaking and sweating her way through two hours of primetime until some burly male soldiers show up to haul her home and she gets her moment in the spotlight with her now-famous confused tagline, "I'm an American soldier, too," uttered as if to reassure herself of that fact and to pre-emptively establish her courage and patriotism to all the viewers back home, especially since the movie presents very little evidence of her being a soldier. It is the Iraqi lawyer who risks everything, including his family, to save Jessica who gets most of the attention here. His wife is depicted as resisting his efforts and chastising him for his stupidity, and yet she saves the day towards the end by correcting the errors her husband made on the map he prepared for the US soldiers. She's given short shrift, though: unlike her husband, she doesn't earn so much as a handshake from the US commander after Jessica's been saved and everyone is patting each other on the back.

Meanwhile on another channel, you could watch Elizabeth go along with whatever her unkempt captors asked her to do, and again, we don't get the impression that she formed much of a mental or physcial resistance, besides occasionally sucking her teeth or glaring at them disdainfully when they weren't looking, as if she were just along for the ride on an unpleasant vacation with some overbearing parents. Emmanuel and Wanda Barzee are well-played and menacing, and are the only characters in either movie that viewers can really understand psychologically, which is odd, since they are also the most demented. Dylan Baker, as Elizabeth's father, Ed, adds a touch of Kafka to the role as he finds himself trapped in a hero/victim role in which no one will listen to anything he says. During the sequences when this is most evident (the immediate aftermath of the kidnapping and, much later, the fallout from Mary-Katherine's remembering Emmanuel), it's impossible not to be a little sickened by the plodding and misguided response of the police as they fail to do anything at all to bring Elizabeth home. As I've mentioned before, nearly the only person who really seemed to do anything at all to bring her home was Emmanuel, who voluntarily returned to Salt Lake after receiving a message from God. Though Mary Katherine's sudden recollection of Emmanuel's face is crucial, too, the movie plays her older than she really was, which slightly undermines the quasi-miraculous nature of her remembering, after so long, who she saw abduct her sister. Nonetheless, the movie seems to frame her as more of a hero than Elizabeth herself.

From a technical point of view, the Jessica movie is the better of the two. Its narrative made sense, and the shots are unobtrusive but occasionally noticeably good, as during the presented-without-commercial-interruption initial battle scene. Although it is highly derivative of Black Hawk Down, the sequence is well done and presents an image of the battle that I hadn't really envisioned. Having said that, I have no idea if anything the movie says happened actually happened. Was there actually a school bus blocking their way? Were there snipers on rooftops? Will we ever know, now that this movie has replaced the official version of events (which was already built on lies and half-truths)? The Elizabeth movie was a mess narratively and photographically. The director couldn't decide what style he wanted to pursue, and his inconsistency muddles the whole movie. There is one ridiculous extreme-wide-angle shot of Dylan Baker next to a police officer that looks ripped out of a film school assignment on German expressionism. Later, as Elizabeth makes her one attempt to escape, blurry stop-motion shots supposedly convey her panic Predator-style, though it would have been much more effective to just show her running through the woods at full speed. There are story-telling gaps, too. The movie fails to explain why Emmanuel decides to return to Salt Lake or the degree to which Elizabeth wwas brainwashed. In fact, the brainwashing gets almost no treatment at all, which (besides the missing sexual assaults Amy mentions below) is probably the movie's most glaring omission. Each movie's style might be interpreted as a metaphor for the events they depict, however. The Jessica movie is very competently and precisely engineered, much like the mission that rescued her, whereas Elizabeth got a sloppily rendered movie that is similar to the chaotic, inconsistent, and misconceived investigation into her disappearance.

Last week, we heard that Elizabeth wanted to play herself in the movie and was disappointed that she couldn't. Maybe this is the ultimate direction of all made-for-TV-movies based on such events: instead of merely re-enacting a dramatized version of events, producers should hire all the actual original participants to recreate their personal trauma for the cameras, sort of blending the TV movie with a reality show. And then this time, if Emmanuel could convince Elizabeth to marry him of her own free will (no brainwashing or threatening of family members allowed!), the happy couple would get One Million Dollars.

Anyway, here's my earlier post on the topic of Elizabeth Smart and Jessica Lynch. -adm

Some other thoughts: I was not enough of an American to sit through the Jessica Lynch story and all the Do You Love Your Country, Soldiers? speeches delivered by TV Army officials, but I was struck by the "getting kidnapped is SUCH a bummer" attitude projected by the kidnapped Elizabeth Smart in her movie of the week. She was also characterized as being more crafty and self-aware than I think the real girl was during the later part of her captivity--she certainly doesn't fight for her own liberation, but also didn't appear to be as totally without an identity as she was reported to be when she was found. However, recent interviews with the real Elizabeth Smart are pushing the idea that everything has gone back to normal, it's almost like it never happened at all, so our viewing public might not want to be reminded that this girl was very successfully brainwashed, and complied totally with her creepy captors.

Also, Whiskas points out that the sexual violence inflicted on these subjects was also absent from their respective movies. Why? Would America be less sympathetic of its sweethearts if they were identified clearly as rape victims? Do we not want to revere damaged goods? Perhaps especially in the case of E. Smart (since J. Lynch says she can't remember any sexual abuse,) this is a major element of her captivity. Maybe it's just as important that she be presented as pure in the eyes of the public as it is that she is "pure in the eyes of God," as her minister insists. -amy

November 7, 2003

KLM ones and twos

KLM Airlines has hired Dutch DJ Lucien Foort to be their resident DJ for in-flight music. Be sure to pack your shiny club bra in your carry-on.

Political Regionalism and Irrational Voting

We do a lot of posting of Paul Krugman's NY Times op-eds here at the 'bot, but as long as he continues to write insightful pieces about politics, economics, and the social factors that shape our country's policies, we'll keep posting them. Today he looks at why poor southern people vote Republican, why New Jersey's Democrats had such big victories this week, and why Howard Dean is confronting racial political party divisions when nobody else is. Most residents of states like Mississippi probably won't benefit from Bush's economic plan, but have been manipulated into supporting him and his party through what Krugman calls "racially charged symbolism." Funny that the US flag and the confederate flag are both used as symbols of the new southern right wing. Also, Krugman tells us that his wife is black--a personal tidbit that doesn't entirely fit here, unless he's trying to demonstrate his own liberal racial symbolism. -amy

Well, ole Krugs may be a little too much of an apologist for Dean on this one -- would he have let a Republican who had said the same thing off the hook so easily? -- but his point that people in the South are voting for the wrong person is well made. It does, however, rest on the assumption that people should vote solely because of economic reasons and not for ones related to social policy. Maybe white Southerners willingly sacrifice economic benefit for the sake of having someone who shares their conservative values in the White House. As for his aside that his wife is black, he seems to be using it as leverage in his argument that "by and large African-Americans" share Krugman's belief about Dean's statement. Paul: one person doesn't speak for the majority, even if you're married to her. -adm

I'm about to lose control, and I think I like it

Our favorite electro-punk feminist band Le Tigre is out on tour with Bands Against Bush. We saw them last night at Irving Plaza. The matching outfits, the synchronized dance moves, the hordes of 16 year-old lesbians in the crowd, and the incredible energy of the femme-tastic punk-alicious ladies of Le Tigre--if you care at all about feminism and punk rock, you'll want to go see them too. Tour dates are here. See Kathleen Hanna pogo around the stage during their cover of "I'm So Excited."

By the way, does everyone know that Kathleen Hanna coined the phrase "smells like teen spirit"? To find out which incarnation of Kathleen Hanna you are most like, take this test. I think I am best represented by the KH incarnation that currently lives with Adrock (bottom of page). Hey Kathleen, he's my boyfriend too!

November 6, 2003

Official Documents: Partial Birth Abortions

Here's the bill as signed into law, Nebraska's injunction, and New York's injunction. [all PDFs]

The opening paragraph of the law is surprisingly graphic, though the language is so vivid it almost sounds propagandistic:

A moral, medical, and ethical consensus exists that the practice of performing a partial-birth abortion -- an abortion in which a physician delivers an unborn child痴 body until only the head remains inside the womb, punctures the back of the child's skull with a Sharp instrument, and sucks the child's brains out before completing delivery of the dead infant -- is a gruesome and inhumane procedure that is never medically necessary and should be prohibited.
To bolster its case that Congress can do its own fact-finding (as opposed to relying on the Supreme Court), the law also quotes a 1962 case involving Puerto Rican communties' voting rights and two cases involving Ted Turner's cable empire. Also, the law provides restitution for the father of the aborted fetus in the event that a mother undergoes the procedure:
The father, if married to the mother at the time she receives a partial-birth abortion procedure, and if the mother has not attained the age of 18 years at the time of the abortion, the maternal grandparents of the fetus, may in a civil action obtain appropriate relief, unless the pregnancy resulted from the plaintiff's criminal conduct or the plaintiff consented to the abortion.
The "relief" includes "statutory damages equal to three times
the cost of the partial-birth abortion." And the woman herself, of course, can be prosecuted for violating the law. Nonetheless, the law ends with this conclusion:
it is the sense of the Senate that (1) the decision of the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade (410 U.S. 113 (1973)) was appropriate and secures an important constitutional right; and (2) such decision should not be overturned.
Anyway, here's an informative Q&A about the procedure from the BBC.

Laura's Bachelor Recap: The Porking Episode, in the style of literary lions

Considering that ABC gave us just one measly hour (part of their cheaply titillating new m.o.) to absorb what I like to call "The Porking Episode," I feel obliged to provide a little set-up for this major event. First, a brief word on the format: Bob had private dates with each of the three remaining girls: Kelly Jo, Mary, and Estella. At the end of each date, an invitation arrived, to everyone’s great (!) surprise, giving each lady one of two choices: A.) Practice abstinence and face definite dumping at the next ceremony, or B.) Give up the booty in a "fantasy suite" and still possibly get dumped. That may not be the exact wording on the card, and usually everyone claims to have "cuddled" all night long, but we all know what’s going on, down, and in and out.

My fellow dedicated Bachelorites will surely remember the parallel episode from last season, during which Tina from Wisconsin, something of a prude, ended up moaning (off-camera but ON sound) in the arms of Andrew "Wooden-Man-But-Must-be-Smooth-Hands" Firestone. The moans began way too soon for full penetration (they had JUST turned out the lights), but digital expertise cannot be ruled out. Despite giving (some of) her all, she was dumped shortly thereafter. Too little too late? A lesson from which ladies should learn.

Another parallel episode, very first season, was one of the best Bachelor moments of all time: Alex doing Amanda in a hotel room for "dessert," complete with chocolate fudge, whipped cream, and not a cherry in sight, believe me, and a POLAROID to prove it. The photo, briefly flashed on the screen, showed Amanda’s drunken, leering face smeared with chocolate, with her bare cleavage just visible in the shadows below. It looked like she was on her hands and knees. I swear. I have no witness to this because I watched it alone, and whenever I tell people they don’t believe me. I know it happened, and by golly, it worked! She got the final rose and snared the sleaziest Bachelor of all, for a few days.

A word on Bob, after enduring him through last night’s show: The saddest thing on earth may be watching three nice, pretty women fighting for the love and eternal companionship of an UGLY PUFFY GREASY-HAIRED JHERI-CURLED RAT-FACED EMPTY MAN who will only grow puffier and greasier as the years go by, as his millisecond of fame sinks deeper and deeper into the murky waters of Lethe. Why does someone like Bob get to turn down someone like Mary, who is perfectly nice, has a big heart, a great bod, a pretty face and just wants someone to love her and make babies with? It made me angry and sad. This was not a fun "Porking Episode" at all. I miss all the bitches bitching in their villa together. I miss Lee Ann and can’t wait to see her next week for the reunion show.

That said, I’ll do my best to represent last night’s show, in the spirit of Meredith carrying on so bravely just seconds after her grandmother’s death. The ladies were putting it all on the line: Kelly Jo declared her love outright and told Bob she required him to say nothing in return, nothing at all, and she willingly went off to do him. (Imagine howling sounds from my husband, who couldn’t believe Bob’s good fortune in this.) Poor Mary came right out and told him she was in love with him, but she also made the fatal mistake of asking IF HE COULD POSSIBLY BE MAKING SEX with the other two ladies? Bob’s response was appropriately biblical, and highly successful: "Girl," he said, "to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Mary nodded her understanding and consented to the Fantasy Fuck Suite, which ended up doing her no bit of good. Estella was perfect in Belize. Absolutely perfect. She must have learned her lesson in Las Vegas, because she was the bubbly, empty skeleton-vessel of which every sleazy man dreams!

On a technical note, the camera work was excellent last night. At one point they took the cameras underwater on a sorkeling trip. UNDERWATER, man! Fuckin’ awesome.

Now the fantasy dates, in summary form, after Hemingway, Faulkner, and Stein, respectively:

Alaska (Kelly Jo) (Hemingway)

He stood behind her as the huskies pulled their weight. Without warning, she stepped up beside him to hold the reins. When the ride stopped, the huskies mounted her. Then he mounted her. They rolled and rolled in the snow until the chopper landed beside them. Back at the lodge, he mounted her on the bear rug. There were candles all around. This is heaven, she sighed. He downed a final shot of whiskey then probed her gullet. I’m in love with you, she whimpered. He led her to the bedroom and shut the door.

Wyoming (from Mary’s / Benjy’s perspective) (Faulkner)

They came, the ladies came, and rubbed us down with honey and spices. They rubbed us so hard it was good but much better was Bob. Bob took my feet. He took them in his hands and loved them. So good it was in the shower when the honey and spices dripped down my body and Bob rubbed me off and it was good the man I love rubbing me down in the shower. We ate rich food by the fire, not fire, but candles, candles around us flickering. He knows me and loves me and now we will marry, make babies by the bushel. First, Bob said, we must practice the making of babies. I watched the flames flickering all around as he lay me down.

Belize (Estella) (Stein)

She is a very good girl. She gave Bob her best voice. Her best voice was something like Leila’s voice, Leila who is three years old. Leila knows when to behave, when to stay silent, and when to speak. So does Estella. Estella is very small. She is obedient in her smallness, her boniness in the bikini she wore in Belize. This is good, she told Bob. Everything is good. I am so happy, she said. She told him she did not think anything about the other girls. Not a thing. Bob was glad. Bob said he was glad she was happy. They swam with the sharks and fish in the sun-dappled clear water. Where is Belize? Estella asked. Dunno, Bob replied. But it’s straight trippin, yo, he added. Estella behaved. Where are we? She asked. Dunno, Bob answered. He gave her a rose. He asked her if she would take it. You better Belize it, she smiled. -Laura

Let it Be...Naked. Or not quite naked.

A new version of the Beatles' last album, Let it Be, is about to be released [nyt]. The big news is that the overbearing orchestral garbage that Phil Spector added over simple, acoustic songs like 'The Long and Winding Road' and 'Let it Be' has been removed, so we can hear the songs as they were originally recorded. Sort of--there's now a new layer of studio mucking, with new versions of songs constructed from multiple takes. The article gives a good overview of the many iterations this album went through before its release in 1970, without much input or consensus from band members.

November 5, 2003

24: Deus ex Crapina

Our favorite of 24's plot devices of convenience, the deus ex machina, started peeking around the set on last night's episode. We need to find the terrorists who might release a deadly virus into the population of LA? Let's just shoot a random small-time drug dealer in the leg and get information from him, like who the big supplier is, complete details about a suspiciously expensive shipment of cocaine moved over the border, and the name of the unwitting kid holding said shipment! Isn't this counter-terrorism stuff easy?

Speaking of which, why does Kiefer have a partner this season? We all know he works better alone, when there's no one to prevent him from going renegade and breaking the rules. Especially when that partner is some pissant Euroboy male model like Chase, you know he's just holding up the action.

The action. What action, right? Hey producers, could we get a little movement on the body count, please? Have I just gotten used to the formerly fast pace of this show, or is this season just dragging along? When the audience has time to question dubious plot points and bad dialogue, the whole show's appeal is damaged.

Here are some elements that might save this season:

  • More people getting killed;

  • More shots of badass Kiefer taking his shirt off and displaying his new tattoos;

  • Swearing. Seriously, if Kiefer could just swear on this show, lines like "Get in the truck, Chase," "CTU has ruined every relationship I've ever had," and "Shut up, stupid!" would be greatly improved.
It appears that much of the thrilling violence of 24 has been transfered to Fox's New Big Show, The O.C., in the form of lots of fist fights and people getting randomly shot at beach parties. Which would be OK if The O.C. hadn't also lost the action during the transition from summer premiere to regular fall season. Where has all the action gone? That '70's Show?

Superman, Like Fonzie, Attempts to Jump Shark

Remember a couple years ago when everybody was like "Jump the shark! Jump the shark!" and everything, no matter what it was, was jumping the shark? Buffy jumped the shark, Tom Brokaw jumped the shark, J. Lo's ass jumped the shark, etc? We couldn't get enough of jumping the shark. And then all of a sudden you never really heard that phrase anymore? Did things just get better or stay the same? Or did jumping the shark jump the shark? Or worse, did saying "jump the shark jumped the shark" jump the shark?

Anyway, jump-the-sharkers may be given new hope with tonight's episode of Smallville, a show I haven't watched since it jumped the shark in the middle of the pilot episode. Here's what happens: Clark finds "a kryptonian medallion that allows him see bits of the past," including some preparations his father Jor-El made for him. According to the promo I heard on the radio this morning, much of the episode is a period piece involving Clark and Lana in "a past life" in which they share a connection even stronger than what they have nowadays. Wow, that sounds like a very special episode. Who plays his father? Ted McGinley?

November 4, 2003

24: The Nothing Episode

24Not much going on in last night's ep. One good thing that happens is Kim tells Kiefer about her relationship with Chase, Jack's partner. I was worried that waiting for her to do so was supposed to be "suspenseful" and we'd have to keep watching her amble distractedly around her dad's office every week waiting to tell him about her new boyfriend while the world is getting ready to end and everybody all around her is freaking out about trivial stuff like, you know, people's lives.

We also get a Whopper of the Week (to borrow a phrase from Slate). 24 is infamous for its ridiculous plot twists that seem never to correspond with the rules of reality, and this week's 24 Whopper is no exception: there's another mole at CTU. He's got his secret double-agent office set up right inside CTU HQ this time and everything. You'd think after the debacles with Chili Pepper and Nina in season one CTU would spend 5 minutes running a background check on all its new employees, and maybe take a second to figure out what that suspicious blue glow coming from the janitor's closet is all about. No such luck. The double agent doesn't seem too interested in being logical, either: he has about 6 giant flat screens monitoring the goings-on inside offices that are literally 10 feet away from him.

We also learn that President Palmer's white girlfriend has something in her past that "could be damaging to all of us" but we'll have to wait til next week to find out what. Maybe I was being too optimistic that 24 would offer the world a guilt- and consequence-free interracial relationship: turns out the white lady could be bad news after all.

Pregnancy, Drinking, and Amy's Robot's Intellectual Capacity

The New York Times tells us today about recent studies that suggest that any consumption of alcohol during pregnancy affects fetuses more significantly than we used to think. Certainly more than my mother used to think, who drank (moderately) while pregnant without thinking anything of it. Everyone did, she says. I hardly blame her: I often find myself wanting a cocktail at the end of the day, and I don't even have to contend with being gigantically pregnant during a long, hot summer, and with a hyper-curious three-year-old running around my tiny apartment. But now it looks like I might have 5 additional IQ points and better motor control (which anyone who has tried to play volleyball with me can tell you, is a spectacle of pathetic flailing) if she didn't drink at all. The first boy who ever displayed a crush on me suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and engaged me in a surprisingly intelligent discussion of the meaning of Michael Jackson's 'Black or White'. Maybe he recognized my damaged synapses, or other symptoms like "attention problems, hyperactivity, learning problems -- particularly in arithmetic -- language problems, memory problems, fine and gross motor problems, poor impulse control, poor judgment, intellectual deficits and difficulty integrating past experience to plan and organize future behavior." The really surprising thing is that snorting cocaine and smoking during pregnancy is probably less harmful to the fetus. Just be sure to get your intoxicants straight while gestating, girls.

Average Joe vs. Joe Millionaire

cowboy dave vs. average joe
These two "reality" shows revolve around two very unreal situations: a cowboy is dropped into a hive of international bombshells, and a bunch of dorks are given a fighting chance with a Miss USA contestant. If love is a naturally-developed connection between two people, is it possible for anyone to find it in such an environment? If last night's episode of Millionaire is any indication, it would seem not. Apparently because of the producers' strict rules of engagement for this show, Cowboy Dave saw his best hope for love ruined by the impossibility of being able to have a private conversation with one of the girls. Meanwhile, it's too soon to say what's going to happen on Average Joe, but Melana seems at least willing to give the guys a chance. Despite their overproduced circumstances, both shows seem to be trying to answer the same question: can love flourish between people who seem to be from different worlds?

As one of the participants astutely points out, the contestants on Average Joe quickly divide into two familiar groups: "the thinkers and the drinkers." Before the first episode is even half over, the men seek refuge in the company of the similar. The overbearing frat boys hang out at the pool getting wasted and doing cannonballs while the nerds retreat to the living room to bond and strategize. When they meet Melana as a group, the show becomes an object lesson in survival of the fittest. The big brutish aggressors drag her off for some "alone time" of grunting and chest-beating, while the nerds group up and tout their friend's virtues to her. While the drinkers engage in the usual bar-side banter ("So you're a dancer?") the thinkers hang back ("I haven't been this nervous since the climbing the rope in gym class") and observe. When finally given the chance to talk with her one on one, they come out with an unpracticed method of flirting that is at once charming and bizarre. "Do you like broccoli?" Tareq asks pointedly. "How about peas?" His follow-up is this bit of self-revelation: "I am not fascinated by green food." The two worlds collide memorably when the biggest brute of them all -- Zach, a salesman (surprise!) from New York (surprise!)-- comes from nowhere to smash an egg over the head of the Marc, the smallest nerd. This act, as one of the other nerds notes, has the effect of "dehumanizing" him.

In a sense, the show dehumanizes all of them. It takes away any kind of natural social environment and pits them against each other in a rigorously controlled, tightly scripted setting that is controlled by people (producers) with a vested interest in conflict. We meet them as caricatures of themselves, and given the "us vs. them" set-up, it's hard for them to be anything else in the company of each other. It's a brilliant concept for a show, but you can't help but feel sorry for the little guys, whose competitive instincts don't seem particularly well-honed. As you watch the hard-drinking frat boys spill drinks over themselves and slur their words at Melana, you're reminded of how much like the other primates we really are: We win the right to mate by getting noticed. Can't say I disagree, but it's a little sickening to see this play out in primetime, especially as the show's editors make the link explicit from time to time, as when they show one of the drinkers stuffing his face into some kind of nacho dip and ravishing in it -- captured from just the right angle and broadcast to millions -- a craven synthesis of the primal and the technical.

Melana keeps insisting that she's willing to give everybody a fair shot, and will be "fair" and make her judgments based on personality and charm, and I think we want her to. At the same time, can we really blame her for being a bit let down? She seems so happy when Mike, a handsome "Bachelor"-type guy, steps out of a stretch limo (as if he were a dream come true), only to be disappointed ("I wish you could stay! I wish you could stay!") when it turns out he is not actually a contestant and is just there to introduce her to the average Joes, each of whom moons over her in the same way she swoons for Mike. "You're so beautiful!" we hear over and over again, as each guy acts like he's never seen a pretty girl before. And, among the other guys, they keep repeating "She's so hot! She's so hot!" After hearing almost nothing but comments about her looks for a few minutes, you begin to realize a certain irony about the men in this show: they complain about how girls are not interested in them because of their looks, but then when they meet a girl, all they can talk about is her appearance. In other words, their behavior makes them complicit with the same social mechanism that discriminates against them. This puts Melana in a bit of an awkward and unwinnable position: to look like a nice person, she has to be "fair" to them and ignore their appearance, while they are free to obsess over hers. Again, a great concept for a show, but an unfair one.

Meanwhile, over on Joe Millionaire, Cowboy Dave finds himself in what seems to be a similarly unwinnable position. Linda, the Czech model whom he seems to have a legitimate connection with, can't bear the pressure the other girls are putting on her to leave the show. She admits that she is easily influenced by other people and nervous about what other people think about her, and she eventually folds, asking David (in front of the other girls) to eliminate her from his life. In the immediate context of the show, you can sort of see the pressure mounting on her, but after some reflection, it's unclear exactly why she felt compelled to escape. David starts to like and pay attention to her, and this causes some jealousy among the other girls, jealousy that Linda can't handle. But isn't the whole point of the show to develop a mutual interest in the guy? So exactly what negative thoughts could anyone have about her? She won David's heart? Big deal. She was far less conniving and shallow than the other girls, but seems too timid even to follow her heart for a few days, leaving it up to David to ultimately make her choice for her...which he does, in the show's most agonizing moment so far. As I watched David prepare to make his decision, I was hoping -- for his sake and for Linda's -- that he would see there was a solution to this problem: eliminate the girls who were causing the most problems for Linda, thereby relieving most of the pressure on her and keeping her around to get to know better. It seems like this whole problem might have been avoided, however, had David had the opportunity to just pull her aside and tell her how much he likes her and ask her to hang on for a few more days until the other girls could be sent away. But the invisible hand of the producers intervened, apparently, and they were left without this chance or the chance to be together.

Without Linda, David is left with a bunch of girls whom he doesn't seem particularly interested in, and two of whom -- Olinda and Cat -- seem a thousand times more wily and malicious than he does. That's bad for him. But worse for us is that with his one chance for true love out of the picture, we will miss the opportunity to discover whether two people from such unrelated backgrounds -- in this case a poor cowboy and a Czech model -- can fall in love if given the opportunity.

So that leaves Average Joe. Will Melana fall for the thinkers or the drinkers? If the scenes from next week are any indication, it seems like the "look-at-me" crowd has taken an early advantage. Melana seems like the type who is used to a stronger personality, but like I said last week and as we all have learned, on this sort of show, the rule of thumb is clearly "You never know."

But even if Melana does become interested in any of the guys, the show may be rigged against them in a way they haven't even begun to figure out yet: it seems to be that the surprising twist this show is destined to take is that just as Melana starts connecting with some of the guys, the producers will introduce a bunch of hot guys into the environment, and then we'll really see how far personality will get you.

November 3, 2003

Hurray for Puffy


His music sucks, he practically killed hip-hop, and he's often a reckless pain in the ass, but let's hear it for P. Diddy. In running the marathon yesterday, he raised $2 million for the children of NYC. What makes this remarkable -- apart from the fact that he barely trained and he had a bad knee -- is that he gave our kids twice as much money as AOL did for that Dave Matthews Band concert in Central Park. That event, sponsored by the one of the largest media companies in the world and attended by a few hundred thousand people, was heralded by much hype and self-congratulation and resulted in less than enough money to feed every school kid breakfast for a day. But Puffy, all by himself, showed just how much one person can accomplish if he sets his mind (and body) to it. His efforts are all the more admirable considering he finagled his ex-girlfriend and her annoying boyfriend into giving him $77,000. Way to go, Puff. So now please don't ruin it by shooting up a Times Square club again.

About November 2003

This page contains all entries posted to Amy's Robot in November 2003. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2003 is the previous archive.

December 2003 is the next archive.

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