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July 2006 Archives

July 30, 2006

May you be in heaven half an hour...

Tomorrow morning Sidney Lumet's new movie Before the Devil Knows You're Dead will be shooting in Hell's Kitchen, on 45th between 9th and 10th Aves. Looks like the trailers are going to be on 46th.

The movie stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke as thieving brothers, and also features Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei. The plot summary on IMDb suggests that a heist-gone-wrong is at the center of the movie.

We're totally guessing here, but we bet that one of the brothers is the younger, more foolhardy one whose love for his wife gets in the way of the job, and one is the older, more controlling one who might have a dangerous, maniacal streak seething just below the surface.

Hopefully Sidney Lumet is back on form for this movie, after this year's Find Me Guilty: Vin Diesel With Hair!, which was probably pretty good, but I don't think many people saw.

July 26, 2006

Tits for Peace!

We Love Beirut, too

Inspired by this woman's ingenious strategy at a recent demonstration in Prague protesting Israel's military activity in Lebanon, we've been thinking about how to best use some of the world's most impressive racks to bring peace to the Middle East. Let's embrace our common humanity here, people!

So we have designed some politically provocative leaflets to be dropped across the warzones in both Israel and Lebanon, featuring one of our favorite half-Lebanese celebrities*, Salma Hayek.

Salma Hayek leaflet

Of course, this strategy could work in many troubled parts of the world. Does anyone know any busty Somalians?

* the other one is Shakira

July 25, 2006

Clerks II, Mad Cowgirl

Clerks II

Over the weekend, I went to see Clerks II. I had low expectations.

The reviews in Time Out and in the tabloids were terrible, and even though A.O. Scott at the NY Times liked it OK, I suspected he was just trying to show how down with the people he could be, since he just wrote a long piece about how audiences regularly love movies that critics are disdainful of. But since I liked the original Clerks, and hadn't seen a Kevin Smith movie since the unfunny Dogma, I figured I'd better go for my own good.

Well. Clerks II was everything I ever could have wanted it to be. You've got to remember here that this is 1) a summer movie, 2) a sequel, and 3) a sequel to Clerks. Saying that the movie is a failure because the humor is juvenile is not really a valid argument. Not every joke is funny, a lot of the banter is stupid, and just about every scene with Dante and the Rosario Dawson character talking goes on for too long, but it was still one of the funnier movies I've seen this year.

Clerks was all about Dante, the long-suffering Quick Stop employee, and his girl troubles. The other characters were peripheral. But Clerks II is really Randal's movie, the guy who worked at the video store in Clerks. The scenes between Randal and the young guy that he and Dante work with at the fast food restaurant are relentlessly and hilariously mean and abusive, and his visual interpretation of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy is now my favorite rip on those movies. I didn't see Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, for the same reasons hardly anybody else saw it, but in Clerks II, Jason Mewes as Jay is as good as he's ever been.

I'm not like the guy sitting a few rows behind me in the theater, who apparently thinks that every single thing Kevin Smith writes is uproariously funny, but I do think he's good at making a certain kind of movie. What is so good about Kevin Smith's movies about the losers in Clerks is that he really knows and understands his characters. When I was watching Dogma, which I didn't like, I kept getting the sense that he was working with characters that he didn't really relate to. He got so wrapped up in trying to make a point about religion and being kookily blasphemous that the movie doesn't go anywhere.

But when his movies consist of scenes that go nowhere about some guys fucking around at their crappy jobs in a town they hate, complaining about their lives but fearing change, you get the sense that he really knows what these people are all about. Mostly they're about filthy sex jokes and really offensive insults. As long as he sticks with what he knows, Kevin Smith can still make a good movie.

Mad Cowgirl

I also went to the Pioneer theater to watch Mad Cowgirl [official site]. I was expecting some pretty weird stuff in this one, and I got it. The movie is about a young woman who works as a meat inspector, who is becoming increasingly paranoid about BSE, and also going through a lot of confusing relationship stuff with her creepy middle-aged televangelist boyfriend, and with her brother (played by the smoking hot James Duval.) Incest!

There's a lot of other stuff with television martial arts programs and religion and some kind of brain tumor that the woman gets diagnosed with (which may or may not be BSE) and eventually she sort of enters the martial arts show through her own insanity and frustration and there's a murderous rampage. It's an incoherent movie, and all of its various themes don't seem to be connected to each other in any way, but I liked the main character very much, which in this case counted for a lot. In case you ever plan on eating meat again as long as you live, this is not a good movie to see.

Mad Cowgirl is only playing at this one theater in New York now, no news yet about any other cities.

July 21, 2006

Michelle Rodriguez and Colin Farrell at Miami Vice premiere

Michelle Rodriguez and Colin Farrell

"Hey, Colin! What's up, man?"

"Hey, Rosario! Long time!"

"It's Michelle. From S.W.A.T. So, I bet you heard that crazy shit about how I've got my eye on you, right? How I want a man who's a free spirit, who can run with me naked on the beach. You heard that, right?"


"I've been waiting for you to call me, man. I've been out on the beach, I've been naked... So call me, you can come over, I'll read you some of my prison poetry, we can run naked on the beach. Then we can each drink a bottle of Wild Turkey and shoot some steroids and I'll kick you in the teeth. It will be so free and beautiful."

"...[burp]...Michelle! OK!"

"Good to see you, call me!"

July 19, 2006

Reuters photo essay on the Gay Games

This week, Chicago is the host city to the Gay Games VII, a sports and cultural festival open to all competitors. Basketball, hockey, figure skating, water polo, synchronized swimming--pretty much all the same sports are featured as in the regular Olympics. But which sport do you think Reuters chose to cover in their photo essay on the Gay Games?

Wrestling! And it's gay wrestling, right? The Reuters editors have made sure that every single photo is a crotch-shot, an ass-shot, or a flirtatious sweaty-embrace shot.

gay games wrestling

gay games wrestling

gay games wrestling

gay games wrestling

gay games wrestling

And as an added bonus: a Reuters photo of preparation for the women's Physique event.

gay games wrestling

July 18, 2006

2006 TUSH

It's mid-July, and you know what that means. Time to start paying attention to the songs playing in Old Navy, in delis, at the gym, and on Jeep stereos to identify that one song that has seeped into your unconscious to become our nation's Totally Ubiquitous Summer Hit!

So what songs have we been hearing again and again this summer? In May, there was still a lot of treacly whine-rock floating around, and everybody in the world heard that damn "Bad Day" one million times. But one of the most important qualities of a true TUSH, apart from its total ubiquity, is that is has to be an upbeat, positive, fun song that you (or a teenage version of you) could conceivably dance to. The prime example of the TUSH is probably "La Macarena" from 1996, and also "Crazy in Love" from 2003.

Many music fans were hoping that "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley would achieve TUSH-level widespread popularity. During the 15 seconds that I hear KTU every morning when my alarm goes off I sometimes hear "Crazy", and many people have seen it performed on the MTV Movie Awards and Conan. And it's still at #2 on the Billboard charts. But ubiquitous? Sadly, I don't think so.

I've been hearing a lot about this new Nelly Furtado "Promiscuous" song, which appears to be gaining some popularity. But here's the thing: I hated this song about one minute into the video with its unsuccessful attempts to look sexy by Ms. Furtado, who looks to me like she's trying too hard. And please, "Promiscuous"? Just keep your shirt on there, Nelly.

I don't usually like to suggest a TUSH that was released during the mid-spring, but in this case, there's no denying it. Rihanna's "S.O.S.", which came out in April, is still absolutely everywhere. I hear this song several times every single week being played on car radios, in Duane Reade, at the video store--it's unavoidable. It's not the most captivating song, but that "Tainted Love" sample makes it instantly recognizable, and I like Rihanna's relaxed delivery and deep, sexy voice. It first hit #1 on the charts at the beginning of May, but this song has not faded away at all as the summer moves on. There are definitely newer and cooler summer hits out there, but have you heard any of them as many times as you've heard "S.O.S."?

The Post weighed in on the TUSH issues a few weeks ago, and many of their "experts" support either "Hips Don't Lie" by Shakira (which came out in March) and this "Promiscuous" garbage. Some think Justin Timberlake's new single "Sexy Back" may yet emerge as a late-summer TUSH (but it won't, it sucks), and I'm also interested to see if Paris Hilton's surprisingly not-loathsome "Stars Are Blind" goes anywhere. We'll see what happens in the next few weeks. But for the moment, it looks like 18 year-old Rihanna has it. If I'm just wildly out of touch and have missed a more ubiquitous tune, please leave a comment.

TUSH 2004, 2005

July 13, 2006

A Scanner Darkly

A Scanner Darkly

"This is a world getting progressively worse. Can we not agree on that?"

Robert Downey, Jr.'s character says this at the start of Linklater's A Scanner Darkly in a failed attempt to help his wigging-out addict friend calm down. It's true--everything is pretty bad in the movie's world: the drugs, the dealers, the cops trying to bust dealers, the rehab clinics, the drug industry, the government. Life is mostly disorientation, paranoia, and manipulation, death is just the recounting of your sins. And like all the best dark movies, this one's both sad and funny.

The cast is great: Keanu can handle roles in which he is confused by multiple identities and realities pretty well (like in The Matrix); Robert Downey, Jr. is hilarious as always and steals a lot of the crazy circular drug talk scenes. Rory Cochrane as Freck has some perfect moments during a long suicide consideration scene; Woody Harrelson almost rivals Matthew McConaughey in stoner freakjob excellence. And this is definitely the best thing Winona Ryder has done since Heathers.

The rotoscoping animation technique allows for some cool visuals (the scramble suit), but in general I found it unnecessary. Weirdly shifting objects that sort of undulate on the screen certainly make the movie look trippier than if it were live action, so maybe that's its main purpose.

I haven't read the book, but my understanding is that it's one of Philip K. Dick's most thematically autobiographical novels, and that the movie sticks closely to it. Dick wrote in an author's note to the book, "I myself? I am not a character in this novel, I am the novel."

The elaborate official site for the movie is surveillance-oriented, it's cool. Also, Charlie Kaufman wrote a screenplay for A Scanner Darkly in 1997, here's a review and a link to his script.

July 11, 2006

Who'Dat?™: Celebrities and legends

Today's Who'Dat?™ concerns a special favorite of ours who participated in last weekend's Taco Bell™ All-Star Legends & Celebrities softball game in Pittsburgh.

To play, try to guess who this person is, then click on the picture to see if you are right.


July 10, 2006

Hookers in Hell's Kitchen

hookers in hell's kitchen

The New York Post has never been our city's most sensitive newspaper, but we can usually count on them to make the rich and entitled of New York look like jerks and take them down a few notches. But in today's "Hooker Hell" piece, it seems that it's perfectly OK to take a self-important attitude, as long as you're condemning prostitutes.

The stroller-pushing yuppies that have been moving to Hell's Kitchen in droves are shocked to find some hookers walking around early in the morning: "I walk out of my building in the morning to see these girls with their asses hanging out," said Kimberly Solop, 34, who shares a $3,000-a-month two-bedroom on West 48th with her husband and their 2-year-old son. "I don't want him growing up looking at that. It's a lot of money to be paying to have this activity going on."

So, Kimberly, your rent is too high, so you don't want any nasty whores on your sidewalks? Or maybe, like a resident of the fancy Clinton West condos on W. 47th St, you're frightened that these savage prostitutes are threatening your personal safety: "I'm scared," said a resident too afraid to provide his name. "I have two kids, and I live on the first floor, and I don't want anything coming through the window."

Like what, a stiletto heel? People, I understand that hookers hanging out outside your apartment at night can be noisy, but they're certainly no worse than the entire population of Jersey City that gets drunk in the bars on 9th Avenue every weekend, and they're less likely to puke on your stoop.

While they're complaining about prostitution in the neighborhood, residents might consider that many of our city's prostitutes are victims of human trafficking, homeless, live in extreme poverty, get harassed and assaulted by police and their clients, and have only minimum-wage jobs to consider as an alternative to working on the street. Prostitutes may have been part of Giuliani's "quality of life" problems, but I wish the residents of Hell's Kitchen remembered what these women's lives are like before deciding that their expensive rent should mean that they don't have to look at poor, vulnerable people.

Read more on the realities of prostitution in NYC on the Urban Justice Center's website.

July 9, 2006

Go Wacky at Pee-wee's Playhouse!

Pee-wee and his underpants

If you're in that summer television funk - you know, irritable that Meerkat Manor* is only on once a week - this is just a friendly reminder that Cartoon Network starts showing all 45 episodes of Pee-wee's Playhouse tonight on Adult Swim.

If you haven't already bought the dvds, now is the perfect time to watch Paul Reubens in his greatest role - and it might even help you understand why Natasha Lyonne grew up to be such a weirdo.

Or, just watch it for the highly addictive theme song, which has been running through the back of my head continuously since around the late 1980s.

* And seriously, if you're not watching Meerkat Manor, which is essentially Dynasty with meerkats, you really, really should be.

July 5, 2006

Gnarls Barkley: the drink

Gnarls Barkley drinking Gnarls Barkleys

I've been really impressed by the Gnarls Barkley album, "St. Elsewhere". Perhaps you've heard of it, as it's been in the press pretty much nonstop since the spring. I like them, I like their music, and of course I really like their promotional photos.

So one night last week while on vacation at a sleepy little lake in Vermont, I realized that Gnarls Barkley deserve their own drink. Something with all-American ingredients that was sort of Southern, and sort of like what teenagers might want to drink the first time they get really drunk on their parents' liquor cabinet and whatever they find in the fridge. With some experimentation (first attempt turned out to be a modified Scarlett O'Hara), and some help from my drinking buddy and Joe the bartender, we hit upon Gnarls Barkley: the drink.

In a highball glass:
A good, long, healthy pour of Jim Beam (or Jack Daniels)
Fill most of the glass with Dr. Pepper and ice (or Mr. Pibb if you want to be extra southern)
Add a splash of cranberry (doesn't add any flavor, but makes the drink a nice deep red)
Crush a mint leaf, add that in
Garnish with lime

It's delicious! Sort of a less classy mint julep. Drink up!

July 4, 2006

Are flip-flops hurting your career?

Turns out the Reuters article that asked that question last week was more timely than we thought...


Steven Green, a 21-year-old former private, was led into court wearing baggy shorts, flip-flops and a Johnny Cash T-shirt. A federal magistrate ordered him held without bond on murder and rape charges that carry a possible death penalty.

ps. Here's a July 4th Quiz for you: Who will spend the most time in prison? This guy, American Taliban John Walker Lindh, or Osama's driver? Note: this might be a trick question, given that this guy might be eligible for the death penalty. (Although probably not the rape penalty, or the murder-your-family penalty.)

July 3, 2006

Which Summer Movie Should You See?

Brandon Routh or Al GoreAl Gore or Brandon Routh

There's nothing more delightful in the hot, muggy summer than a cool, air-conditioned movie theater. But what to choose when some summer releases are so similar as to be nearly indistinguishable? I'm speaking, of course, about the special effects extravaganzas An Inconvenient Truth, and Superman Returns.

Below is a handy guide to help you decide where to spend your summer movie dollars. (Warning: Potential Superman Returns spoilers. If you're a Republican legislator, there may be a few Inconvenient Truth spoilers too.)

How long will I be in air-conditioning?
Superman: 2 hours, 37 minutes
Inconvenient Truth: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Superman: Soap star Brandon Routh, who looks very similar to Christopher Reeve's Superman, but much younger.
Inconvenient Truth: Presidential nominee Al Gore, who looks very similar to Christopher Reeve's Superman, but older and paunchier.

Charm and Charisma Factor
Superman: Routh is very pretty, but a little bland, and there's nowhere near enough of the Clark/Lois interaction that is always the most entertaining part of a Superman movie. He's also frequently computer-generated.
Inconvenient Truth: Gore is suprisingly charismatic and exhibits much of the dry humor one wishes he showed more of as a presidential candidate.

Superman: Lex Luthor
Inconvenient Truth: Carbon dioxide (and Congress)

World Crisis
Superman: Crystals from Krypton are used in real-estate plot to create a new continent, submerging North America and other land masses.
Inconvenient Truth: Greenland melts, raising global sea level by 20 feet and submerging major world cities.

Threat to New York City
Superman: Major earthquakes, eventually total submersion under the Atlantic.
Inconvenient Truth: Lower Manhattan destroyed, but Amy's Robot residences in Brooklyn, Midtown, and Upper Manhattan should be fine.

9-11 References
Superman: Indirect. Many shots of Twin Towerless lower Manhattan, references to terrible things happening in Superman's "5-year" absence.
Inconvenient Truth: Comparison of destruction of Towers to potential destruction of all of lower Manhattan.

Casualties if Crisis Is Not Averted
Superman: "Billions"
Inconvenient Truth: "Hundreds of Millions"

Special Effects
Superman: Non-stop, including planes, boats, crystal landmasses, and possibly Routh's muscles.
Inconvenient Truth: Endearing attempt to make it seem like Gore knows PowerPoint, including many shots of him scrolling through the presentation on his laptop.

Superman: Suprisingly, with the exception of an early plane rescue, no. Earnest, and kind of a drag.
Inconvenient Truth: Surprisingly, for a movie based on a PowerPoint, yes. Earnest, but engaging.

About July 2006

This page contains all entries posted to Amy's Robot in July 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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