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July 2005 Archives

July 28, 2005

Lessons in Copyediting

Oh, A.P. How you disappoint us with your headlines. So many words! No "s" replaced with a dollar sign! What are your copyeditors thinking when they run this headline over potentially the greatest tabloid gross-out story ever?

Yonkers man who was being eaten by maggots dies after he is taken from filthy home

I'm sure our readership can come up with something better. Please feel free to submit your own headlines. We'll be accepting submissions for the rest of the day.

Extra points if you work in a $.

July 27, 2005

Daily News discovers the TUSH

A piece in today's Daily News is oddly reminiscent of our musings from 2 weeks ago about what this year's Totally Ubiquitous Summer Hit might be. Not that we want to use any fightin' words with author Breanne L. Heldman like "rip off" but, well, here's what the Daily News has to say about "summer anthems":

"We're talking, of course, about summer anthems, and such hits as 'The Thong Song' and 'Hot in Herre.' As the summer of 2005 heats up, we're left to wonder: What could possibly be in store for us next? Summer anthems provide the soundtracks to our scorching days and sweltering nights. They permeate, well, everything. They blast from the booming systems in Jeeps to transistors at the beach to makeshift stereos on folding tables at neighborhood throw-downs."

So what tunes does the Daily News think are contenders for this year's TUSH?

"Today, an album like the Black Eyed Peas' 'Ele-phunk' seems entirely primed for the clothes-shedding months... The group's single 'Don't Phunk With My Heart' has been at the top of the radio charts ever since the temperature soared. But the field of competitors for 2005 anthem champ is crowded. Artists such as Gwen Stefani, the Ying Yang Twins and summer specialist Will Smith each have entries vying for this year's title."

Then they go on to list the TUSH of a number of summers past (including of course "Hot in Herre" and "Crazy in Love", the songs that first inspired us to follow the TUSH,) going back as far as "Faith" by George Michael from 1987.

Maybe Breanne and I are just listening to the same radio stations/Jeeps, but we've come to strikingly similar conclusions.

July 26, 2005

Wes Anderson - Owen Wilson = unhappy critics

On Slate today is a longish piece discussing the success and sometimes perfection of Wes Anderson's movies that were co-written with Owen Wilson (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums) vs. the relative un-greatness of the one he did without Owen Wilson (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.) I liked The Life Aquatic, though I will admit that it didn't quite hold together as well as the other movies, and it was this lack of structure that turned a lot of moviegoers off.

So, can we say that it was Owen Wilson's input that is the differentiating factor in these movies? Is the guaranteed-funny Owen Wilson a great writer, as well as being a fantastic comedic actor (he was even good in I Spy) and general all-around loveable person, and not only because of his ability to always look, sound, and act as though he has just ripped an enormous bong hit? Wes Anderson knows what he's doing, but it's nice to see Owen Wilson getting some of the credit he deserves.

FameTracker's adoring Fame Audit of Owen Wilson is here.

Spitzer takes down Sony+

Eliot Spitzer, the enthusiastic New York State Attorney General who makes all your big-business-busting dreams come true, has won the first settlement against the music industry for paying radio stations to play their songs. Sony BMG Music Entertainment is paying the state $10 million, and there are three other big companies that have also been under investigation who have yet to reach agreements. The money is going to be given away to New York State music education nonprofits.

Radio programmers sure were raking in the payola. Many of those "listener contests" you hear about on stations were shams that existed only to provide cover for expensive trips and electronic merchandise that were given to programmers and radio staff. And, of course, programmers were just bribed outright. The best part of the story is the inclusion of entertaining payola-engineering emails among record execs in the Attorney General's Office press release. Some examples:

"Two weeks ago, it cost us over 4000.00 to get Franz [Ferdinand] on WKSE. That is what the four trips to Miami and hotel cost . . . At the end of the day, [David] Universal added GC [Good Charlotte] and Gretchen Wilson and hit Alex up for another grand and they settled for $750.00. So almost $5000.00 in two weeks for overnight airplay. He told me that Tommy really wanted him to do it so he cut the deal."

"WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO GET AUDIOSLAVE ON WKSS THIS WEEK?!!? Whatever you can dream up, I can make it happen." [Maybe try getting them to release a decent single. -Amy]


Looks like a lot of "independent music promoters" out there are going to start having to buy their own iPods. Sorry fellas.

Of course, this kind of case is technically supposed to be handled by the FCC, but since the L.A. Times reports that the FCC has "imposed only one fine in a payola case in the last decade"--of $8,000--I'm happy to leave it to our boy Spitzer. - Amy

But honestly - doesn't it make you feel a little better about the world to know that listeners aren't actually requesting Good Charlotte? - Emily

July 21, 2005

Scarlett, it's a long way down

Scarlett in Ghost World

From time to time comes a little nagging thought at the back of my mind regarding some actor or famous person who I generally think well of, a thought that maybe this celebrity has launched themselves into a majestic downward arc of career-destroying crap, and that maybe I just can't love them as much anymore. So in an airport the other day, I happened to catch sight of this week's issue of Entertainment Weekly with Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson on the cover, and the once brilliant and promising Scarlett's expression is one of total blank vapidity. In this photo, Scarlett personifies "Duh."

Sure, we've all looked like morons in a few bad pictures, but the last couple of years had already shaken my faith in Scarlett, by her vigorous and relentless efforts to cheapen and degrade herself.

And right on cue, Fametracker does a like-minded Fame Audit for that little sell-out Scarlett, and while I really encourage you to read it, here is a little taste:

"It's the classic Hollywood fable. You co-star in a beloved indie. Then you star in a breakout indie. Then you have sex with Benicio Del Toro in an elevator. Enter Michael Bay."

"The only problem is that, while you might place your lips to the money teat while thinking, 'I can always do indies on the side,' you can't, in fact, always do indies on the side. Scarlett, don't you think Ben Affleck, while being hoisted in a harness into a model of a fighter plane against a green screen on the set of Pearl Harbor, was thinking to himself, 'I can always do indies on the side'?"

Well, Scarlett, I'm glad you're rich. You deserve it. You can put your top back on now. Oh, and enjoy those hot makeout sessions with Woody Allen (ew) because he's about all you've got for credibility these days.

NY's response to London bombings: everyone's a suspect

Mayor Bloomberg announced this morning that police are going to start doing random searches of the bags and backpacks of people entering subway stations, presumably in response to the second and unsuccessful series of bombings in London. Passengers who don't want to be searched can apparently exercise their constitutional right not to use public transportation; Police Commissioner Kelly says would-be riders can "turn around and leave," and also notes that his officers will not engage in any kind of racial profiling.

I don't think Bloomberg is an idiot, and this announcement is probably an attempt to do something proactive in the face of repeated attacks on London. Better to make a half-assed gesture that will make New Yorkers feel like progress is being made in their security.

But, as The Economist would say, this is wrong. The notion that one can secure a subway system at all, short of installing scanners and x-ray machines like we use in airports at every subway entrance, is a total illusion. New Yorkers are well aware that we don't live in a safe world, and everybody has more or less come to believe that we were never as safe as we might have thought.

Putting more police officers on the subway so that they can stop potential bombings isn't the best use of the officers' time. Cops are good at patrolling neighborhoods and stopping muggings and assaults. They are probably less good at stopping suicide bombers from achieving the one mission that matters more to them than anything.

Bloomberg concedes that his plan for random searches is "a little bit" intrusive. Actually, it's a violation of freedom and privacy and shows delusional thinking about the nature of security. Wrong wrong wrong.

July 20, 2005

David Lynch hearts Sexy Sadie

David Lynch and the Maharishi

Since the day I found out that Giovanni Ribisi was a Scientologist, I should have known it was only a matter of time before more of my favorite famous people started publicly embracing embarrassing cultish celebrity religions. Today in Page Six, David Lynch discusses his love of transcendental meditation and his devotion to John Lennon's old friend the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

And much like Doug Henning before him (whose plans for a TM theme park called Veda Land would have cost $1.5 billion,) Lynch says he hopes to open a number of TM schools, and will raise $7 billion to run them through the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace.

I've loved David Lynch for a long time, particularly his reported frequent use of phrases like "okey dokey" and "I'll be ding-danged" while making great and unsettling movies about all the dark sick stuff of life. So reading a passage like this in the New York Post... well, I hardly know what to think: "Despite 'hating speaking in public,' Lynch, 59, says he decided 'to stop being quiet' about his passion for the 47-year-old Hindu chanting technique after observing the sad state of education in U.S. schools. Today's students 'are even more stressed out. Their schools are hellholes. They're getting pathetic educations. They're not going forward with full decks of cards.' [OK, true enough, but just wait. -Amy]

"Students who meditate will start shining like a bright, shiny penny, and their anxieties will go away. By diving within, they will attain a field of pure consciousness, pure bliss, creativity, intelligence, dynamic peace. You enliven the field, and every day it gets better. Negativity recedes.'"

OK, I like doing some yoga on a Sunday afternoon after a particularly toxic Saturday night, but DAVID LYNCH? The man who put white makeup on a weirdly beautiful Dean Stockwell's face and guided him in mincing around with a lamp lip-synching "In Dreams", a perverse image that will haunt me forever?

Pure consciousness and DYNAMIC PEACE?! For crying out loud.

As a side note, the unifying element of celebrity religious/mystical institutions such as TM, Scientology, and Kabbalah seems to be that they are all unbelievably expensive.

July 19, 2005

Who'dat?™: Women Without Makeup Edition

Today's Who'dat™ is a cautionary tale, an important reminder to celebrities that you should never, ever leave the house without applying at least a little lip gloss*. That's right, not even at 11 a.m. Not even when you're just going down to the corner to pick up some Bugles™ and a case of diet coke. Because Amy's Robot is here to tell you - you just never know when an US Weekly stringer is going to jump out from behind the cantaloupes.

Make your guess and click on the picture below to see if you're right.


* Unless you are Liv Tyler, and then you can just walk around in a smock looking luminously gorgeous 24/7.

July 16, 2005

Reuters photographer is Loverboy fan


loverboy album cover

Or maybe he just likes Charlie's Angels?

charlie's angels poster

July 15, 2005

The Departed on 46th Street

Following in the footsteps of Al Pacino and Jonathan Demme, trendy filmmaker Martin Scorsese is shooting some scenes of his next blatant Oscar bid on 46th Street today. The Departed is a remake of Hong Kong gangster movie Internal Affairs, about a cop (Leo) who goes undercover with a gang, and a gangster (Matt Damon) who goes undercover with the cops, and their efforts to sniff each other out. Watching these two clean-cut all-American vanilla boys play tough-guy gangsters, and tough-guy cops pretending to be gangsters, should be fun. See some set photos (that I did not take) here, including some of Jack Nicholson covered in blood.

Interestingly, Scorsese is setting the movie in Boston, but due to New York's generous 15% tax credit for filming here, opted to shoot most of the movie in New York and try to make it look like Boston. I guess that will mean moving out everybody who isn't white and closing up all businesses at 11. I'm not sure what this says about New York's cache as a movie location, real or otherwise, but Toronto might be a little nervous about its future as the go-to cheap stand-in for New York.

July 13, 2005

Headlines can be misleading

An AP headline from yesterday afternoon:

"Bush Calls for Jailed Reporter's Release"

Of course, he doesn't mean that reporter. He means an Iranian reporter: "President Bush called Tuesday for the release of an Iranian journalist jailed for writing articles linking government officials to murder. Akbar Ganji was sentenced to six years in jail in 2000 after his investigation of the murders of five dissidents by Intelligence Ministry agents. Ganji was convicted on charges that the articles he wrote violated the law.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said in a statement that Ganji has been jailed for his political views and that Bush calls on Iran to release Ganji 'immediately and unconditionally.'

'Mr. Ganji, please know that as you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.'"

But Judith Miller? She can rot. Rove? No comment.

Who'dat™: Summer Movie Edition

This handsome young actor caught our attention at a recent movie premiere. Who could it be?

Make a guess and click on the picture below to see if you're right.


Continue reading "Who'dat™: Summer Movie Edition" »

July 10, 2005

People, we have a TUSH

Last summer was a sad time in pop music. We got through the whole summer without a Totally Ubiquitous Summer Hit, or TUSH, surfacing and taking over. Every year, we wait for that irresistibly catchy number that we hear again and again on the street, playing from people's car stereos, in Rite Aid, on the radio, and in bars, and we find ourselves growing fond of it even if it's completely goofy and disposable. Hell, BECAUSE it's goofy and disposable.

In past years, songs like "Hot in Herre" and "Crazy in Love" weren't songs you had to seek out; they were unavoidable, and everybody you know can sing the chorus, probably including your mother. Last year, we got nothing. So over the past few weeks, I've been wondering if the era of the TUSH had come to an end. But we've got some contenders.

Through June, it was looking like that Black Eyed Peas song "Don't Phunk With My Heart" might be the 2005 TUSH. It got played like crazy, and was catchy enough to be instantly memorable. ADM heard it just about every day while traveling in Europe in May. Unfortunately, it was also an irritating little gnat of a song, and though it's still strong on the charts, it came out in May and peaked too early. This weekend, I heard it at breakfast in the West Village, but hadn't heard it for a week or two before that. And that stupid title drives me crazy.

Now it's looking like our TUSH is going to be "Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani. I personally find Gwen's nasal voice a little grating, but those booming beats are fantastic, and the video with its high school cheerleaders/ Japanese marching band style fits perfectly. (Norman K. also noticed that the video is weirdly reminiscent of Matthew Barney's Cremaster movies; you half expect Gwen to dance around with some blimps or be naked apart from a diaper.) "Hollaback Girl" came out in May as a single, but it still seems to be gaining momentum. I heard it playing in a Diesel store yesterday (where the DJ mixed it in to "Get Ur Freak On", the 2001 TUSH--clearly a sign,) then today in the video store, where a 10 year-old boy was singing along with it as it played on the radio.

It's also a song that gets better with repeated listenings. I didn't like it the first time I heard it, but now when she gets to the "This shit is bananas! B-A-N-A-N-A-S!" part, I have to admit I like it. Unfortunately, just about every other word in the song is "shit", so the radio version is so heavily edited that it mostly sounds like complete nonsense, but then again, I can't understand the unedited parts either.

We'll see if it continues to grow into total ubiquity over the next few weeks, but I think we've finally got our TUSH. Those Neptunes, who produced the song (as well as 2002's TUSH, "Hot in Herre" by Nelly,) understand how make a solid, juicy TUSH.

The thing about the TUSH is, everybody knows the song. Everybody hears it a billion times. So if think there are other contenders for the 2005 TUSH, please add a comment.

July 6, 2005

Bushes in Denmark

Before heading to G8 in Scotland to solve the world's problems (or rather, to convince the other world leaders to "scale back goals" and pretty much forget about solving the world's problems,) the Bushes partied it up with the royal family in Denmark. Perhaps they were celebrating Bush's birthday today, which he shares with 50 Cent.

Let's check out some pictures:

Jenna gets cozy with a giggly married man (Danish Crown Prince Frederik) at lunch.

Jenna Bush at G8

Bush has a toast with Queen Margrethe of Denmark.

Bush at G8

Better be Diet Coke in that wine glass, birthday boy, or Jesus will hate you.

July 5, 2005

Benevolent Rock Stars

jon bon jovi live 8

This weekend, rock stars across the globe made entertainment and philanthropic history by picking up sweet gift bags, hugging famine victims, and protesting the economic policies keeping Africans in poverty.

Of course, for some activists this is just one stop on the summer political awareness tour. Why, just three weeks ago Jon Bon Jovi was making philanthropic history by supporting the economic policies keeping Americans in poverty at the Wal-Mart Annual Meeting.

Luckily, the set lists were different.

Live 8:
Bad Medicine
Dead or Alive
Social Disease
I'll be There for You

Livin' on a Prayer

[tx Cushie]

July 2, 2005

Looking (out) for Deep Throat

mark felt

In case you missed this in the last few sentences of a WP article the other day:

Woodward writes he finally called his old source, who was now living with his daughter, Joan. In the course of their conversation, Felt said -- among other things that cast doubt on his mental state -- that he had no memory of being convicted or pardoned.

The next month, Woodward went to see him. Felt knew they had met, Woodward writes, but appeared to remember nothing about their Watergate transactions:

"Did he recall being my source, the one that was called Deep Throat? He said he didn't know."

Says his daughter, who pushed him to come forward:

...We could make at least enough money to pay some bills, like the debt I've run up for the kids' education. Let's do it for the family.

Related: Deep Throat film rights bought by Hanks' firm

July 1, 2005

A Kinder, Gentler, Zombie Film

save us from zombies

Dear readers, I know what you've been thinking: "Hey! Land of the Dead came out a week ago - why has Amy's Robot been silent on this, the most important film release of the year?"

It's because we've been thinking a lot about it. The post-9/11 zombie film has brought many changes to the conventional model - faster zombies, scarier zombies, gorier zombies. And now, at last, George Romero has brought us a kinder, gentler zombie.

By which I mean, it blows.

Yes, that's right Roger Ebert, and David Edelstein, and Manohla freaking Dargis: it blows. There was no story arc, the characters were uninteresting, the zombies weren't scary, and even the flesh-eating money shots weren't very inventive. But all of these problems stem from the core issue: the greatest, and most unforgivable, crime of this movie is that it goes against the entire zombie ethos.

Land of the Dead is set years into the zombie plague. Dennis Hopper has annexed a luxury tower in lower Manhattan for the rich and privileged while the rabble entertain themselves in Bartertown, using zombies for target practice and cage matches. But wait! You can't just push zombies around! They have feelings too, and a sense of justice - and when one of them realizes how to use power tools, he leads a zombie insurgence through the city. Why? Because it turns out that zombies just want to be left alone, to live (unlive?) out their days in peace. They just want to find a place to go, just like the living!

Except, of course, that ZOMBIES EXIST TO EAT LIVING FLESH! Has everyone forgotten this?! For christ's sake, you can't live in peace with the zombies! If you want to make a movie about ideological warfare, then just use bugs! Or monkeys! Or - or rabbits!

This hurts me very deeply, because the zombie genre is my very favorite of film types. It combines every great social paranoia - fear of the supernatural, alien invasion, disaster, disease, slashers, the total loss of social order - in one deliciously gory package.

A zombie with a purpose completely deflates the whole premise of the genre. Zombies feed on our fear of the irrational. Who are they? Where did they come from? Why is this happening? Why are they eating the living? How do I defend myself? Who can I trust? Will I become one? Zombies don't have motivations, or desires (beyond the need to eat the living). They are a threat because they can't be rationalized or explained. And that is why they make such effective social commentary - because they reflect human nature in the face of complete chaos.

I know that the reviewers I mentioned above in this post would be all "But you don't get it!" Yeah, I get it - it just doesn't work. Yes, I know Romero is commenting on our militaristic culture and man's inhumanity to man and the class divide and blah blah blah. You know what? Every twelve-year-old knows the proper vehicle for that shit is aliens!

You want to show how people deal with the complete breakdown of society? You want to show what people will do to survive? You want to show some intestines getting ripped out? Well, then you make a zombie movie.

About July 2005

This page contains all entries posted to Amy's Robot in July 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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