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March 2005 Archives

March 31, 2005

Help Me Achieve Snack Nirvana+

When The Phantom Menace came out, I was so totally beside myself about the prospect of a new Star Wars movie that I wanted the entire movie-going event to be entirely different from anything I had ever experienced before. That meant seeing the film in a new theatre, with a never-before assembled group of friends, and obviously, while consuming a completely untried snack food. Because of its total decadence (peanuts, peanut butter, caramel, nougat, and chocolate) and my unfamiliarity with the product, I selected the Reese's Nutrageous™ as the Official Candy of The Phantom Menace.

Needless to say, I now have a very bad association with the Nutrageous™.

But that doesn't mean I don't still love a ridiculous, over-the-top candy bar. Which is why, when I saw an ad for THIS:

Hershey's Take 5

I fucking flipped out.

In case you're wondering, the "5" in question here are:
Peanut Butter and

People, this is not only a new level of delicious extravagance - it's an ingenious combo. Is there anything better than the combination of sweet and salty in a single treat? I'm not the only one who thinks so: our favorite snack consumer advocates have given the Hershey's Take 5™ a Snack Satisfaction Index of 9.3 out of 10.

Again, even though I've been searching for a week New York City seems to lag behind the rest of the whole goddamm country when it comes to innovative snack foods. Readers, have you seen this candy anywhere? If you can find me a retailer, there's a Take 5™ in it for you, too.

Hershey's Take 5

Thanks to reader suggestions, the elusive Take 5™ was finally hunted down in the secondary candy aisle of a local Eckerd. The verdict? Frankly, I was disappointed. Like many Hershey's products, the Take 5™ is just too damn sweet. The combination of caramel, milk chocolate, AND sweetened peanut butter is way too much. My suggestion to the Hershey's product development team? Eliminate the caramel and introduce a Dark Chocolate Take 4™ - now, you'd really have something there. I'd take a case.

March 30, 2005

Update on Afghanistan

Laura Bush and Karzai

From the Washington Post:

"Under heavy security, Mrs. Bush spent just six hours on the ground in Afghanistan after flying nearly halfway around the world. U.S. troops manned M-60 rifles at either end of four helicopters that flew the first lady and her entourage to Kabul University.

'We are only a few years removed from the rule of the terrorists, when women were denied education and every basic human right,' Mrs. Bush said at a teacher training institute. 'That tyranny has been replaced by a young democracy and the power of freedom is on display across Afghanistan.'"

Then Mrs. Bush bought a box of cookies from a bakery, paying the shop owner one dollar (U.S.) for them. "Good deal," she said. Outside the bakery, she gave gifts to three children who were "positioned to receive gifts from Mrs. Bush": a bookmark and a kaleidoscope.

"This matters much more than hundreds of millions of dollars," Karzai said of Mrs. Bush's visit, although the fragile democracy is heavily dependent on international aid. "Much more."

President Bush has never been to Afghanistan.

From the New York Times:

"Shortly before Bush landed in Kabul, a car bomb attack claimed by the Taliban killed one person and wounded another in the city of Jalalabad, 75 miles east of the capital.

Rights groups routinely decry violence against women and children and, while the militant threat has receded, many ordinary Afghans fear rising violent crime.

Taliban spokesmen Abdul Latif Hakimi said the Islamist guerrillas were behind today's attack and others elsewhere in the country recently, including a mine blast that killed four American soldiers in Logar province on Saturday.

On Tuesday, two U.S. soldiers were wounded in an ambush in the central province of Uruzgan and overnight two rockets hit a section of the airport in the western city of Herat occupied by U.S. soldiers, but caused no casualties, the U.S. military said."

So keep those invaluable bookmarks coming, Mrs. Bush! And those nifty kaleidoscopes, too! The kids love them.

By the way, while you're off risking your life in war-torn Afghanistan to make diplomatic visits, it looks like that impish husband of yours is getting awfully friendly with the locals in Iowa.

Bush gets friendly

Worker Protections+

I'm just saying, if I had Parkinson's, pneumonia, a breathing tube, and a feeding tube stuck up my nose, my employer would at least let me go out on disability.

Update: The Amy's Robot Specialist for Employment Rights notes: "In a similar case in the UK, a union was organizing Church of England vicars. However, they were deemed to be office-holders employed by God, and therefore not covered by employment law. Perhaps God does not offer disability?"

Other things God does not cover: contraceptives
Things God presumably does cover: Durable Medical Equipment (wheelchairs, canes, Popemobile); feeding/breathing tubes.

March 29, 2005

Who'Dat?™: Starlets that won't go away

Today's Who'Dat?™ game features an actress on the red carpet at last night's premiere of Sin City, the 147th movie that wonderboy Robert Rodriguez has made in this decade, so far. This starlet has been in loads of movies, but she has also gone through many looks, and many increasingly psychotic phases in which she says inadvisable things in interviews. So that makes it harder than usual to identify her.

Try to identify this celebrity, then click on the photo to see if you are right.


[link fixed]

If Sin City wasn't directed by Rodriguez, I would be afraid it's going to be just another Sky Captain. But every single one of his movies is at least pretty good. I have hope.

March 28, 2005

I'll decide what drugs you can take, missy +

The latest group of control-freaks advocating for legislature that would allow them to tell lots of other people what to do appears to be pharmacists. The Washington Post today has a terrifying article on a topic I have been trying to avoid in the hope that it would all get sorted out before articles like this started getting written.

The topic is this: some pharmacists decide that the drugs doctors prescribe for their patients are unethical, and therefore refuse to dispense them. So which drugs are these pharmacists so morally opposed to? Viagra? Xanax? OxyContin, or other addictive drugs that are often abused? Nope! The drugs they most commonly refuse to dispense are birth control pills and morning-after emergency contraception pills. Women's rights and reproductive rights organizations are freaking out, anti-birth-control Christian fundamentalist groups are desperate to protect pro-life pharmacists, many of whom get reprimanded or fired from their jobs, and the American Pharmacists Association and lawmakers aren't sure what to do.

And women are terrified.

Kathleen Pulz and her husband got a prescription for the morning-after pill when the condom they were using broke. Their local Walgreens pharmacy in Milwaukee refused to fill it. "I couldn't believe it," said Pulz, 44, who with her husband had long ago decided they could not afford a fifth child. "How can they make that decision for us? I was outraged. At the same time, I was sad that we had to do this. But I was scared. I didn't know what we were going to do."

Suzanne Richards, 21, had a prescription for the morning-after pill that was rejected by a drive-through Brooks Pharmacy in Laconia, N.H., and by the time she found another pharmacy that would fill it, the 72 hours in which the pill had to be used had long passed. "When he told me he wouldn't fill it, I just pulled over in the parking lot and started crying," said Richards, a single mother of a 3-year-old who runs her own cleaning service. "I just couldn't believe it. I was just trying to be responsible."

Responsibility is certainly not something these renegade pharmacists are thinking about, especially those that not only refuse to fill a perfectly legal prescription, but also refuse to pass it along to another pharmacy. The American Pharmacists Association's policy for their members is that pharmacists can conscientiously refuse to fill prescriptions as long as they support their customers' legal right to get their medications some other way.

But that's not how pro-life advocates see it. The seriously misguided and delusional Karen L. Brauer, president of Pharmacists for Life, thinks it's fine for pharmacists to hold legal prescriptions hostage, refusing to transfer them to another pharmacy. She says, "That's like saying, 'I don't kill people myself but let me tell you about the guy down the street who does.' What's that saying? 'I will not off your husband, but I know a buddy who will?' It's the same thing." Yes, she is equating using birth control with assassination. Brauer was fired from a Kmart pharmacy in Delhi, Ohio, for refusing to fill birth control prescriptions.

Now this one will really drive you crazy. Brauer goes on to say, "Our group was founded with the idea of returning pharmacy to a healing-only profession. What's been going on is the use of medication to stop human life. That violates the ideal of the Hippocratic oath that medical practitioners should do no harm." Who is she suggesting is being harmed when a pharmacist fills a prescription for some birth control pills? Some unfertilized eggs? People who are being responsible and avoiding a future of child-support payments for unwanted children? Durex stockholders? The Pope?

The issue hasn't hit the courts hard yet, but here's what the article says about what's coming down the pipeline: "Pharmacists are regulated by state laws and can face disciplinary action from licensing boards. But the only case that has gotten that far involves Neil T. Noesen, who in 2002 refused to fill a University of Wisconsin student's birth control pill prescription at a Kmart in Menomonie, Wis., or transfer the prescription elsewhere. An administrative judge last month recommended Noesen be required to take ethics classes, alert future employers to his beliefs and pay what could be as much as $20,000 to cover the costs of the legal proceedings. The state pharmacy board will decide whether to impose that penalty next month.

Wisconsin is one of at least 11 states considering 'conscience clause' laws that would protect pharmacists such as Noesen. Four states already have laws that specifically allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions that violate their beliefs. At the same time, at least four states are considering laws that would explicitly require pharmacists to fill all prescriptions."

This could turn into a huge mess on the state level, and might precipitate yet another federal case on an issue that really has nothing to do with anybody besides patients and their doctors. - Amy

Attempting to regulate healthcare issues like they are ethical issues is total bullshit. Due to the sad, broken state of our healthcare system these women are most likely paying for these medications out of their own pockets, not through any kind of federal program or even private insurance (which is a whole other issue). It's ludicrous for the government to attempt to limit access to FDA-approved medications for which they are not paying, and it's a pharmacist's job to safely and accurately dispense those medications, not to pass lifestyle judgements.

To paraphrase Will Ferrell, these kinds of arguments make me feel like I'm taking crazy pills. How do people object to family planning, but allow children to live in poverty with no health coverage? How do people decide it's unethical to let a vegetative woman die, but also propose $15 billion in cuts to Medicaid with no regard for the family that will be bankrupted paying for her care? - Emily

Some World Leaders Doing Better Than Others

Could it be that our own President George W. Bush is sapping the life force of Pope John Paul II?

Stay with me here.

On the one hand, you have the Pope, whose rapidly failing health left him, according to the Daily News, "speechless",

speechless pope


anguished pope

and "grimacing"

grimacing pope

on the most Pope-centric day of the Catholic year.

Is it just a fluke that this sharp decline coincides with reports of George Bush's recent "frisky" and "impish" behavior? According to biking buddy (and sometime chief media strategist) Mark McKinnon, the President is "as calm and relaxed and confident and happy as I've ever seen him."

fruity bush kisses

Far-fetched, you say? Well, how else to explain this bizarre quote from the President's rather creepy Saturday radio address?

"In this season of renewal, we remember that hope leads us closer to truth, and that in the end, even death, itself, will be defeated. That is the promise of Easter morning." [emphasis mine]

Before you get any ideas, I'm already pitching this to HBO.

March 25, 2005

Names for Bands

In today's Guardian there is an article that I think I could spend the rest of my life thinking about and never grow bored: "Branding the Band", about how bands' names affect their careers and success. As someone whose almost non-existent experience with actually being in a band consists of thinking up the perfect band name, rather than actually writing any songs or playing any instruments (names include The Fertile Turtles, Ha Ha Snowsuit, and Rhododendron,) I have long believed that a band's name is equally important as the music it produces.

The article reads like an essay version of an especially popular I Love Music thread. The author discusses the ways that a band name can work against an otherwise great band (Radiohead first worked under the name On a Friday,) and how an outstanding band name can lead to disappointment when the music doesn't measure up (he includes God is My Co-Pilot, who unfortunately "dealt in fairly unlistenable lo-fi tomfoolery rather than deicidal power rock.")

He goes into the great and eternal bands who achieved their status despite names that are sort of silly or rely on goofy puns, like The Beatles and U2. I would add R.E.M. to that list, as well as Guns 'n Roses, which I've always thought was too self-conscious and dippy a name for such a bombastic band. The rest of the band were obviously letting Axl indulge his ego, which interestingly is also the main reason the band eventually fell apart.

But my favorite part is where he discusses bands who have achieved perfect alignment in their music and their name. In these rare cases "you get a kind of etymological perfection that's somehow close to onomatopoeia." Bands he includes here are the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Happy Mondays, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Who, Elastica, Suede, Motörhead (it's the unnecessary umlaut that does it, of course), Public Enemy, and "if only for the way it walks the line between fantastic arrogance and stripped-back simplicity," the Band.

In my list of bands whose success is surely due in large part to the perfection of their name, I would include Bikini Kill, Joy Division (tricky, but it somehow fits perfectly), Underworld, the Cocteau Twins, and the Dead Kennedys. (Jello Biafra's famous "Names for Bands" spoken-word piece should itself be part of this discussion. The man that came up with "Dead Kennedys" as his band name has obviously spent some time thinking about this stuff.)

There are also a few supernaturally lucky bands and artists whose own names are perfectly matched to their music, like Van Halen and Johnny Cash.

Well, I could go on all day.

Please add your commentary on notable band names, from great (Metallica) to disastrous (Archers of Loaf).

March 24, 2005

Sympathizing with Terri

Maybe you're having trouble, like I am, understanding how the protesters outside the hospice center where Terri Schiavo currently is can continue such embarrassing displays of self-righteous idiocy, crying and wailing and praying and holding big FEED TERRI! signs and shaking giant spoons at the cameras, and insisting that it's God's will to keep a vegetative woman alive via a robot feeding machine. Though she didn't ask to be at the center of such invasive political manipulation, I do find myself feeling sympathetic toward Terri. Especially since I saw this photo from her wedding in 1990.

Terry Schiavo's wedding

If that mother of hers had any hand in selecting that dress, and that hat, she clearly has some problems in exercising good judgement.

Daniel Day-Lewis has blisters on his fingers

Reclusive whackjob actor Daniel Day-Lewis has emerged bearded and wild-eyed from his hermitage to appear in a new movie The Ballad of Jack and Rose, written and directed by his wife Rebecca "daughter of Arthur" Miller. Since we love Daniel Day-Lewis, and since the movie also stars Catherine Keener, we'll likely be seeing it.

To publicize the movie, Day-Lewis has given a rare interview to Time Out New York magazine, which features a photo of him on the cover of this week's issue, in which he eerily resembles Charles Manson.

Day-Lewis as Charles Manson

The editors at Time Out must have realized this, because this is the quote from the interview that is exerpted on the cover of the magazine:

"People talk about New York as if the whole city is running helter-skelter toward Armaggedon!" [tx Agent 0019]

Guess how many movies Daniel Day-Lewis has appeared in since he won an Oscar for My Left Foot in 1989? Only 7.

March 23, 2005

The future of Europe today! Or in 2006, anyway


Remember a couple of years ago when France decided that their language, culture, and unjustified superior attitude were being threatened by popular usage of the word "email"? They decided to ban it from official use, replacing it with the French "courriel", which might have been a reasonable move that had some marginal impact on the world if they had done it, like, 10 years earlier.

Anyway, now all of Europe has made a similar bafflingly outdated gesture toward modernity by creating a new extension for internet addresses: .eu. Which will launch in 2006. It took the EU from 1997, when they first starting discussing the idea, until 2002 to apply to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers for the new extension. Oh EU, you silly Old World slow pokes, you!

March 22, 2005

McCain sucks it up for Bush

The beleaguered John McCain has emerged from his world of tears once again to support the President, this time by expressing support for Bush's social security overhaul.

Actually, he didn't exactly come out in unambiguous favor of the Bush plan, which cuts benefits to all recipients of Social Security, especially the disabled and children whose parents die young. What McCain said at the rally is this: "I say to our Democrat friends: Come and sit down at the table and let us work together to save the safety net for future generations of Americans. The door is open to the White House and on the Republican side of the aisle. We must do this together. We know how much money is coming in. We know how much money is going out. Does anybody believe we should wait — we should wait until there's no money that we have to cut off people's Social Security checks?"

Translation: "Hi, Democrats? You wanna help me out here? This guy is CRAZY! GET ME OUTTA HERE!" just like poor Catherine Martin screaming at Jodie Foster from the bottom of Jame Gumb's well of torture.

But Bush is glad to get any time on stage with McCain in which he plasters that tight smile on his face and mouths words of half-hearted support. Photos from the event show that polite but weary-looking McCain we've seen so many times before.

McCain smiling

But in an unguarded moment, McCain can't help but show the world what a horror his life has become, as he winces in anguish at how the ideals of his party have become warped beyond recognition.

McCain grimace

Poor John McCain!

March 21, 2005

What Happens When You're Written off The OC?

Well, when you're Lindsay (Shannon Lucio), you go from canoodling with the delicious Benjamin McKenzie


to....Spring Break Shark Attack!

lindsay shark attack

For those of you who sadly missed this brilliant film on CBS last night, let me assure you that it features some of the greatest televisual images ever...

spring break shark attack

...and also, perhaps, a cautionary note about what life after The OC holds for young actors.

bloody shark water

I hope you're listening, Adam Brody.

Not quite keeping it together on 24

I've been getting worried about this season of 24 lately, which I recently called the best season yet. Overall, it's still doing much better than any other season, mostly due to non-stop action, multiple extended shoot-outs between Kiefer and swarming hordes of bad guys, and a number of outstanding early episodes featuring our beloved husky-voiced Dragon Lady of Persia. The past couple of weeks have been slow though, and ADM thinks the season has crossed over onto the other side of the proverbial shark. Even Dave Barry notes the season's downward turn on his blog. Let me enumerate some problems:

  • Too much talking all around.
  • I'm sorry to say it, but the return of Michelle. She's not as good looking as she was in the past two seasons, she makes bad decision after bad decision, and her scenes of tentative reconciliation with Soul Patch have been agonizingly talky. Plus she is a non-stop bitch.
  • Fox went way overboard in hyping the Middle Eastern brothers who own the gun store, site of last week's shoot-out, as patriotic Americans who will do anything to kill those evil terrorists. We got it after the Kiefer pro-Muslim-Americans PSA.
  • The filler is starting to show. All those scenes of William Devane talking to his weepy daughter about how Kiefer may be a torture-mad sadist but is still a wonderful and loving man? The many long scenes we sat through waiting for the evil mercenary squad of corproate soldiers to start shooting at Kiefer as he squinted and muttered in the gun store? CUT CUT CUT. Too much talking, not enough action.
  • And excuse me, but where is our Dragon Lady?

Luckily, it looks like there are a few developments coming down the pipeline that might get this season back on track. The preview for tonight's episode involve a lot of velvety huskiness between Kiefer and Dragon Lady, whose combined sexual energy could match the shock Sarah got from that taser (note to producers: shocking people with tasers, in the neck, is one of your better and most jaw-dropping ideas of this season. [Sarah: "Please! I swear I don't know anything!" Taser: BZZZZZZZZZT.] Thank you! We heart torture!)

Also, tonight's episode reportedly includes the return of Chloe, the controversial and irritating character who was my personal favorite part of last season. Driscoll, this year's moronic head of CTU, dismissed Chloe as a part of her 100% Wrong Decisions strategy, but now that Driscoll is gone, we get some more of Chloe's spastic dorky attitude.

We'd also better start seeing some action from the Phase 2 Terror Sequence that usually kicks in around mid-season. This year it looks like Air Force One is going to be hijacked by a terrorist in an Air Force uniform, who Television Without Pity has appropriately dubbed Poor Man's Eric Stoltz. Could this story line lead to the expected return of Dennis Haysbert as former President Palmer, as news sources reported earlier? Yup. Hopefully the trend from previous seasons of all of Palmer's scenes being plodding momentum-killers won't continue this year.

March 16, 2005

The Collective Wisdom of 100 People

Dawson's feud

Now, I'm not going to make any apologies for my deep love of Family Feud. Frankly, when the winter's dragging on and you're a little congested, there's nothing better than coming home to the PAX channel at the end of the day for a little entertainment lite. Today's Feud, hosted by that guy from Home Improvement on a sterile, brightly-lit set, is the ultimate in empty-calorie entertainment. It's kind of like the sugarless gum of television; tasty and generally harmless, but also not particularly good for you.

This Feud, while calming after a long day, is a far cry from the show I used to love. I speak of course of Richard Dawson's Feud. Dawson's show was a little off kilter; appealing, yet slightly sleazy. The brown set looked like your basement rec room, and the contestents were so sadly anxious to please. If you were a female contestant, you knew that Dawson was going to tongue-kiss you and your mother - and that you were both going to like it. A gentleman of my acquaintance is fond of saying that "you only have to look at that guy to know he smells like scotch."

But the host is only part of the show's overall brilliance. The genius appeal of The Feud is that to win, you don't have to be the smartest team, or have the most knowledge. All you have to do is think like everyone else. Has there ever been a more empowering concept, particularly in our current climate of opinion outweighing fact? People, there is a sociology dissertation in there somewhere.

One of my favorite examples is this classic Dawson exchange I witnessed on the Game Show Network a while back, during the "Fast Money" round. This is the part of the game where two team members must answer the same questions without duplicating each other's answers:

First round:
R. Dawson: Name something, besides food, that makes you thirsty.
Family member 1: Pretzels.

Second round:
R. Dawson: Name something, besides food, that makes you thirsty.
Family member 2: Pretzels.
[Buzzer: errr! errr!]
Family member 2: Cake.

This exchange begs the question - do Feud editors throw out nonsensical or incorrect survey answers? I think not. On one legendary episode, a family member answered the question, "A time most people go to bed" with, "at night." The audience laughed, but I'll be damned if 2 of those 100 people surveyed didn't say the same thing. The only way to be wrong on The Feud is to not agree with everyone else.

But sometimes it upsets you to find out what the rest of America believes. And this is what happened to me Monday night, when this question came up: "On a trip to New York, name one thing you'd be sure to see." My specialty!

"Homeless people!" I shouted excitedly at the television. "Scientologists! Hot dog vendors!"

As it turns out, I don't think like 100 people surveyed at all. What were the top answers? Statue of Liberty. Empire State Building. Rockefeller Center (which they gave to the contestent who said "Radio City Music Hall" even though they are not the same thing.)

And of course, Ground Zero.

I didn't really know what to do with that. I don't think the family did either. It's not really the answer that makes you want to scream "GOOD ANSWER GOOD ANSWER!" and high-five your sister-in-law. Even though that happened.

I guess what really bothered me was that the Family Feud Seal of 100 People Surveyed now ensures, beyond a doubt, that the site of a national tragedy has become a tourist destination. And that made me very uncomfortable.

I hate to end on such a depressing note, so let's address another important issue. Are we too safe in our entertainment choices today? Can we only accept the sugarless gum of the PAX channel? Or is it time for the naughty Dawson-era Feud to make a comeback?

We think it is, and that's why we're taking nominations for a new host. Imagine, if you will, that the Feud is going to replace Wheel of Fortune at 7:30 on a major network. This host needs to be someone charming, relatively mainstream, and a little bit dangerous. I choose Chris Rock. Amy suggested O.J. Simpson but I think he's just too damn scary.

100 Amy's Robot readers surveyed - top answers in the comments section!

The Legend of Who'dat?™

See if you can identify this aging celebrity, who made an appearance at this week's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Dinner in New York, and will appear at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin. Then click on the photo to see if you are right. Hint: not an elderly woman.


March 15, 2005

Stump the Band night on WFMU

It's fundraising marathon time at WFMU 91.1 FM, one of the only independent radio stations in the NY area, and the best. WFMU got its start as a college radio station at Upsala College in East Orange, NJ, which closed in 1995. Since then, the station has been independently run, and is totally listener-supported.

They're located now in Jersey City, and it's still really hard to get reception in most parts of Manhattan. Luckily, you can listen to the station online. Tonight's fundraising programming features the annual Yo La Tengo request-a-thon from 8-11 pm, in which listeners pledging $65 or more get to request any song in the world, and Hoboken's own Yo La Tengo will play it live from the studio. This event has been very successul in past years, and the band say they're excited about tonight. "It's live, it's messy, and it's always fun," says bassist James McNew. "And it's exhausting." Last year's show involved some collaborations with station staff and friends of the band: a DJ sang lead vocals on "Tonight's the Night" by Rod Stewart while the band struggled through the music, and Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley's niece sang on requests for "Build Me Up, Buttercup" by The Foundations and "Hey Ya!"

Yo La Tengo's own music doesn't exactly captivate me, but they always seem like genuinely great people in interviews, and the concept of this show is irresistible. If anyone gets the band to do "Talk Dirty to Me" by Poison tonight on the air, I will personally match your pledge.

What happens to dead 24 characters?

They guest-star on Fox's new medical drama House, of course!

In February, Teri Bauer from Season 1 of 24 (Leslie Hope) appeared on House as a schizophrenic homeless woman who starts convulsing in a club (description of the show on Episode 10 page, which I cannot link to directly. Damn Flash!) Turns out: she has ovarian cancer. And is delusional. And has rabies! Her character on 24 was kidnapped, raped, nearly shot in the head many times over, then rescued, only to be shot in the gut by her husband's ex-mistress. The Fox network just cannot get enough of putting poor Leslie Hope through one horrible trial after another.

Tonight's episode features Sarah Clarke, who played everyone's favorite villainess, Nina, on Seasons 1-3 of 24. From the previews, it looks like Nina is suffering from an agonizing muscle disorder. After all, the appeal of both 24 and House is based on putting characters through seemingly endless torture and pain.

Maybe Mrs. Palmer will appear in the House season finale and withhold Dr. House's Vicodin pills while he writhes and screams and gasps for air on the floor.

March 11, 2005

There are some actors that we don't necessarily want to come back

I don't know how the planets had to align for this one to happen, but it appears that Kevin Costner is making some kind of comeback. The new movie he stars in with Joan Allen, The Upside of Anger, is by many accounts not a totally successful movie, but his performance is being celebrated, not ridiculed.

If you grew up during the 1980's you might remember a time when it was reasonable that photographs like this would exist:

80's Kevin Costner

When he was starring in movies like The Untouchables and Field of Dreams and (I hate to say it) Bull Durham, Kevin Costner was a real live star who people found charming and who many women honestly thought was hot.

Then came Dances With Wolves, which won a slew of awards, but put Costner on shaky Self-Important Artist ground, and today looks pretty goofy. Then there was the embarrassment of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. And before we knew it, Kevin Costner was doing projects that became punchlines. The Postman. You're snickering inside right now, aren't you? You should be.

The Postman

But things are looking up for Kevin Costner. FameTracker brings us an incredulous Fame Audit in which they also praise his decision to take an unflattering role in The Upside of Anger and in doing so, regain some of his old charm. Much like Michael Douglas chose to play the washed-up, pot-smoking, pathetic, droopy old professor in The Wonder Boys, Kevin Costner has also realized that he can play aging, balding, and charming all at the same time. From the Fame Audit: "Costner's reappeared in just the kind of role, in just the kind of movie, that he needs to be in right now: as a sodden, slightly depressing, but ultimately charming ex-jock, opposite Joan Allen. In other words, he's playing your mother's ex-boyfriend from high school! The guy who had it all, then got kind of sad and flabby and old, but who knows it, and can smile about it, and so retains a sliver of charm! He gets it! He finally gets it!"

A.O. Scott in the New York Times: "Mr. Costner somehow comes most alive as an actor when he can loosen up enough to mix pride and disappointment, charm and sleaze. Denny, paunchy and slovenly, has gone so far to seed that you expect dandelions to sprout from his head, but he holds onto just enough of his old winner's optimism and grit to keep him from being completely pathetic." He calls the film "a seriously flawed movie wrapped around two nearly perfect performances."

Slate's David Edelstein: "Costner clearly hopes this will relaunch his career as a character actor the way Terms of Endearment added luster to Jack Nicholson's. And he's funny and likeable—his timing is great."

I don't know how the hell one ever comes back after 3000 Miles to Graceland, but I'm proud of you, Kevin Costner.

March 9, 2005

Who's Older™: Oscar Couples Edition

Last week's first ever Couples Edition of Who's Older™ was such a resounding success that we're bringing you one more. In honor of Hollywood's gracefully (and not so gracefully) aging 2005 Academy Award nominees,

annette and warren

clint and dina