Monday, February 28, 2011

Charlie Sheen is the greatest entertainer in the world right now

Do you know why Charlie Sheen is the greatest entertainer in the world right now? Because he is actually trying to entertain us.

He is trying to entertain us all the time. He has made even "The Today Show" worth watching, if only for a few segments. To wit:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

He should be tired of pretending he's not special. He is special.

First of all, can you argue with anything that he says about AA? AA is a scam. Even the reprehensible Dr. Drew Pinsky has said that Mr. Sheen "has a point" about it.

Second of all, yes, drugs do "work." They do change the way you see things, and they can be quite fun to use.

Third of all, Mr. Sheen looks older than 45 years old, especially for Hollywood.

Fourth and finally, there's nothing I can write that could be more entertaining than what I might write, so I suggest watching the whole clip -- despite the presence of the loser interviewer. Most especially his questions for Chuck Lorre, the creator of "Two and a Half Men," about eight minutes into the clip.

"Accept me, Chuck."

Given the amount of money involved, he should do just that.

Charlie Sheen does have tiger blood and Adonis DNA. He's trying to be entertaining. Compare this interview to last night's Academy Awards telecast.

When and if Mr. Sheen writes his "tell all" book, I will be first in line to download it to my kindle. I can't wait to read what his fire breathing fists write.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The ways in which "Two and a Half Men" can continue without Charlie Sheen

Over at When Falls the Coliseum, I offer five suggestions as to how "Two and a Half Men" can continue without Charlie Sheen. Sample:

I. Charlie Sheen’s character goes on an extended vacation with lots of beautiful women.

Although, as I’ve already stated, I have never actually watched the program, it’s my understanding that Mr. Sheen portrays a serial womanizer, who every night has sexual relations with a different woman, such as prostitutes and pornographic film stars. Perhaps the character could disappear (somewhere near the Bahamas?) with one or three or ten of these beauties. An entire season could be built around the “where is he this week?” theme. One of the characters could read postcards and emails from Mr. Sheen, in which he talks about things like,
I fire back once and this contaminated little maggot can’t handle my power and can’t handle the truth. I wish him nothing but pain in his silly travels especially if they wind up in my octagon. Clearly I have defeated this earthworm with my words — imagine what I would have done with my fire breathing fists.
That is probably as funny as anything that’s ever aired on this show before.

And of course, if CBS and Warner Bros. should decide that Mr. Sheen should return to work, his character would turn up back at home just as mysteriously as when he disappeared.

They get progressively funnier, I think. More here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Charlie Sheen and the Hollywood Star-Whacker Conspiracy


The famous actor Randy Quaid and his wife Evi are in Canada, in an attempt to elude the Hollywood Star-Whackers who are supposedly out to get them. The two were facing extradition to California, which would have placed them at the mercy of the very conspiracy from which they were running.

On February 23, the Quaids were successful in their attempt to fight that extradition.
American actor Randy Quaid says he's won his legal fight to stay in Canada, after the Canada Border Services Agency dropped inadmissibility proceedings against him.
Randy and Evi Quaid applied for refugee status in October, claiming they were being persecuted in the U.S. and were possible targets of so-called "Hollywood star-whackers" who were bent on killing actors.
"We feel our lives are in danger," she said at the time of their refugee application.

It turned out that because Evi Quaid's father was born in Canada, she was granted Canadian citizenship on Feb. 10. That allowed her to sponsor Randy as an immigrant.
Evi Quaid's father was born in Canada, huh? Well, that's convenient.

A bit too convenient, if you ask me.

I have already compellingly argued the case that Randy and Evi Quaid are themselves the Star-Whackers. That it is actually they who are at the head of the vast conspiracy targeting Hollywood actors.

And it seems pretty plain that their latest target is "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen.

Just one day after the Quaids's very convenient successful extradition fight, Mr. Sheen appeared on a radio program hosted by the famous conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Over the course of this radio interview, Mr. Sheen made or is alleged to have made some provocative statements. New York magazine has a list of what it conspiratorially calls "The Eleven Most Inexplicable Quotes From Today's Charlie Sheen Radio Meltdown." (Please note that a radio interview is described by the mainstream press as a "meltdown.")

Among those "inexplicable" quotes:
"I'm sorry, man, but I've got magic. I've got poetry in my fingertips. Most of the time — and this includes naps — I'm an F-18, bro. And I will destroy you in the air. I will deploy my ordinance to the ground."
"If you love with violence and you hate with violence, there's nothing that can be questioned. People say, 'Oh, you'd better work through your resentments.' Yeah, no. I'm gonna hang on to them, and they're gonna fuel my attack. And they're going to fuel the battle cry of my deadly and dangerous and secret and silent soldiers. Because they're all around you. Sorry, you thought you were just messing with one dude. Winning."
The only way any of that is "inexplicable" (i.e., "unexplainable"), is if you are deliberately keeping your eyes closed, to avoid facing the unavoidable truth.

Mr. Sheen is playing on a different field from the rest of us.

And for his trouble? The Star-Whacker conspiracy has struck at arguably its biggest celebrity yet.
As Two And A Half Men star Charlie Sheen's erratic behavior escalated today in a series of verbal assaults on the show's creator-executive producer Chuck Lorre, the sitcom's network and studio did the only thing they could in the situation: pull the plug. But they only did it for this season. (Two and a Half Men was scheduled to resume production on Monday for 4 more episodes). So the door is left open for a possible ninth season. "Based on the totality of Charlie Sheen’s statements, conduct and condition, CBS and Warner Bros TV have decided to discontinue production of Two and a Half Men for the remainder of the season," the two companies said in a statement.
That quote above is taken from Deadline Hollywood, which is clearly part of the Star-Whacker party line. Pulling the plug on the highly successful and lucrative show was "the only thing they could do." This based on Mr. Sheen's conduct and condition.

It seems pretty clear that this attack on Mr. Sheen had more to do with the fact that Evi and Randy Quaid are now completely safe and legal in their new power center in Canada.

Don't forget: "Two and a Half Men" makes an astonishing amount of money for CBS and Warner Bros. Money that CBS and Warner Bros. both need to make. The circumstances need to be extraordinary for those corporations to "pull the plug" on something that makes that much money.

The Star-Whacker conspiracy is extraordinary.

For his part, Mr. Sheen isn't taking this quietly. He is still in there, still fighting. Unfortunately, he is firing back at the creator of "Two and a Half Men," in the form of an open letter:
What does this say about Haim Levine [Chuck Lorre] after he tried to use his words to judge and attempt to degrade me. I gracefully ignored this folly for 177 shows ... I fire back once and this contaminated little maggot can't handle my power and can't handle the truth. I wish him nothing but pain in his silly travels especially if they wind up in my octagon. Clearly I have defeated this earthworm with my words -- imagine what I would have done with my fire breathing fists. I urge all my beautiful and loyal fans who embraced this show for almost a decade to walk with me side-by-side as we march up the steps of justice to right this unconscionable wrong.

Remember these are my people ... not yours...we will continue on together...
It's a testament to the power of the Star-Whacker conspiracy that Mr. Sheen doesn't realize it's actually they who are orchestrating the attacks against him. "Two and a Half Men" creator Chuck Lorre is just a patsy -- an unwitting tool of Randy and Evi Quaid. (Don't forget that Mr. Lorre is also the creator of a program called "Mike & Molly," which was recently attacked by the Star-Whackers.)

This is not over. Not so long as the Quaids are in Canada, protected by their laws, with no fear of extradition.

The Quaids, safe in Canada, orchestrate.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Are you with me David Wu? Are you really just a shadow of the man that I once knew? Are you crazy, are you high? Or just an ordinary guy? Have you done all you can do?

David Wu, the congressman from Oregon, has replaced Chris Lee as my favorite politician.

Here is a photo of him:

Whatta guy! He looks so much fun. Hardly your typical politician. First, because he donned the tiger suit. Second, because he is obviously having the time of his life. That is an expression of pure, unadulterated joy upon his face. (Compare that to the stodgy, pretentious, and affected pose of Chris Lee flexing before a mirror.) Third, he posed for a photograph. And Fourth, he actually sent the above photograph to his campaign workers.
Wu said this week that it was "unprofessional and inappropriate" to send pictures of himself wearing a tiger costume to staff members while he was in the middle of a heated campaign last year. He also acknowledged taking two tablets of a pain killer that were given to him by an unnamed campaign donor.

"This was the only time that this has ever happened," the congressman said in a statement of the pain killer episode. "I recognize that my action showed poor judgment at the time, and I sincerely regret having put my staff in a difficult position."
Also, fifth, he took "pain killers" given to him by... someone.

Again I say: Whatta guy!

But, he's also apparently a bit on the shall we say eccentric side. Apparently, after sending out the email to which the above tiger furry photo was attached, he then sent out a flurry of other emails, ostensibly written by his children.
Nineteen minutes later, at 1:22 am PST, a second email from Wu’s official email address went to multiple Wu staffers under the subject line “not funny.”

The email read as if it had come from one of Wu’s two children; the name of his middle-school-age daughter appeared at the end of it as a signature. But it’s not clear whether she sent the email in the wee hours of the morning or did so at the request of her father. Another possibility—the one that apparently disturbed staffers—is that Wu sent the email on his own, pretending to be his child. In any case, the email suggests Wu had been sparring with his staff.

“You’re the best, but my Dad made me say that, even though you threatened to shut down his campaign.”

Ten minutes later a third email went to two female staffers. This time, it contained another photo and a similar “you’re the best” message. The name of Wu’s son appeared at the bottom of that email.

Whether the photo depicted a staged or real event is uncertain. Someone who appears to be Wu is in the full-body tiger costume. He is face-down on a made bed with his arms at his side, as if asleep or passed out.
Please follow the links to the stories above for more of Mr. Wu's shenanigans, they are shall we say interesting.

The tawdriest part of the story is that Mr. Wu's campaign staff, fearing he might be insane, actually hid him from voters. To try to keep his alleged "insanity" hidden from the people who were to be represented by him in congress. Think about for a minute. His staff thinks they're working for a man who is actually insane, and rather than reveal their concerns, or at the very least allow him to make his eccentric appearances which would help the voters to get a fuller understanding of the man who represents them (he's an incumbent), the campaign staff hides him for the last three days of the campaign.

So the voters can't see him.

The man represents Portland. Maybe they want an allegedly crazy man representing them. Maybe they don't. Hiding him like that was the same as lying to the people.

Of course it's not like the voters of Portland didn't have some idea about his eccentricities. Via Wonkette (and check that site for more hilarious photos), is this clip of Mr. Wu complaining of Klingons in the White House. Really.

"There are Klingons in the White House. But unlike the real Klingons of 'Star Trek,' these Klingons have never fought a battle of their own..."

The real Klingons of "Star Trek"? Um, Klingons aren't real. This video is from 2007. Congress elects people every two years. Mr. Wu was an incumbent. That means that he still won re-election after his "real Klingons" speech.

But his staff got concerned after the emails with the tiger costume photos?

Explanation of this post's headline:

Academy Awards offer distorted view of Hollywood life

Over at When Falls the Coliseum, I have posted a rather longish and rather amusingish piece about what life is REALLY like in Hollywood. The post is provocatively entitled Academy Awards offer distorted view of Hollywood life. A small taste:
On Sunday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present its awards for the year’s “best” cinematic achievements. The Academy Awards is a celebration of success. It’s well worth remembering that for most who live in Hollywood, such success is elusive, and the Academy Awards ceremony offers a distorted view of life in the shadow of the dream factory. The following expose is an unflinching and thought-provoking look at the all-too typical of the experiences of Hollywood denizens.

In a rundown bachelor apartment in Hollywood, there lives a dream. A dream denied and battered, scraping by on memories of might-have-been, at that cold intersection of Loneliness and Possibility, but actually closer to Yucca and Las Palmas, literally speaking. For $750 a month, one man who is the living embodiment of Hollywood watches from his window as the traffic, which is a metaphor for the world at large, passes by.

“They’re heading to Chateau Marmont,” he says, knowingly. His voice is gravelly, with the age that comes from wisdom, of having seen and experienced much in pursuit of that elusive dream of Hollywood fulfillment.

I ask him how he knows this, and he replies, “Because it’s where I’d go, if I had any hope.”

His name is Heiney Spitstarsky, I think. That is what it sounds like he calls himself. He becomes severely agitated when asked to repeat himself. 40 minutes before, I first met Mr. Spitstarsky at a Laundromat on Cahuenga. I was doing a load of whites; hot wash, cold rinse. Mr. Spitstarksy came in wearing a shabby LA Dodgers baseball cap (just what is he “dodging”? certainly not life, that’s for certain) a stained polo shirt with a Ralphs logo, tattered jeans and sneakers that were at least five years old, and worn through in places, leaving visible the leathery skin of his feet.

As he approached me, his pungent odor announced him, and I took my eyes from the book I was reading. The Day of the Locust, if you must know.

Mr. Spitstarsky claims to have worked on the classic film "A Thimbleful of Prune Juice," which features Burt Reynolds, William Shatner, Pam Grier, and Jo Anne Worley. Go figure.

Anyway, the whole piece can be read here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Perverted Movie Classic: Too Many Husbands

 This post reveals the ending of the classic film Too Many Husbands. It is impossible to "spoil" a great work of capital-A Art, however, if you don't want to know the ending, don't read the 13th and 14th paragraphs below -- the ones with asterisks.

Set your TiVo's to "PERVERSION" tomorrow, February 23 at 8:45 AM EST, as TCM will be running the Perverted Movie Classic Too Many Husbands, with Jean Arthur, Fred MacMurray, and Melvyn Douglas, based on a play by W. Somerset Maugham.

The film features the delightful Ms. Arthur as a woman called Vicky Cardew, whose husband Bill (MacMurray) has been reported drowned in a boating accident. Although no body is found, he's declared legally dead after six months and she turns to Bill's best friend and business partner Henry Lowndes (Douglas) for comfort. And love.  And marriage. In fact, the two of them can't wait to get married, themselves, apparently. They certainly didn't wait too long.

As the film opens, Bill's name is being removed from the doors of the office that Bill and Henry shared. This is a mere one year after Bill's fateful accident. They are attempting to remove all trace of the man, including even photos. Unfortunately for them, Bill is still alive, having spent a year shipwrecked on an island that nobody had ever heard of. After a shave and a plane ride home, he's met at the airport by Vicky and Henry, who can't bring themselves to tell them that they're now married.

So they sit there, for the entire ride back to the home that Vicky and Bill had shared, and listen to him dreamily muse on how great it's going to be to spend the night making love to the wife he hasn't seen in a year. Oh, how painful it all is!

Finally, they do tell him. And then, both husbands begin fighting for Vicky's affections. Because Vicky is portrayed by the lovely, charming, and beautiful Ms. Jean Arthur, this makes complete sense. If you had married Jean Arthur, would you give her up without a fight? Even if her presumed dead first husband returned? Even if you found out she'd married someone else during the year you'd been away?

Neither man will leave the house, so Vicky puts them both in a guest bedroom. So much for the wonderful night Bill had been dreaming about. But it's about to get a lot worse for the two husbands.

Vicky likes both  men. After all, she married both of them. However, she doesn't like either of them enough to actually choose one over the other. So she makes them compete for her affections. She encourages them to compete for her affections. In fact, she makes them insane -- at one point, to display their strength, the men literally begin leaping over furniture in the living room. What else can they do? They're out of ideas!

Jump over the love seat! Jump over a chair!

That is how crazed these men become.

Of course, both men are physically injured, mirroring the psychic damage that Vicky is inflicting upon them. She just -- can't -- bring -- herself -- to -- choose.

But this is an American comedy from 1940. She's got to choose one of them, right?

*Maybe. At one point late in the film, a judge rules that Bill is Vicky's legal husband. But that doesn't settle things. Not at all. And it leads to one of the best endings of any film ever made. It's one of those I-can't-believe-they-did-that-in-a-mainstream-movie scenes that you can't believe you just saw, even though you just saw it. It's more daring, original, and subversive than most films that are today celebrated for their "edginess."

*Jean Arthur, Fred MacMurray, and Melvyn Douglas participate in what has got to be one of mainstream American cinema's first FMM three-ways. No, they don't get naked in a bed together -- it's a lot more subtle than that. The three of them dance together. It's metaphorical. And the dance is a consummation of their continued living arrangement, with Vicky having decided, well, nothing at all. She wants both men. And they are her willing partners in her little dance.

With lesser performers this movie wouldn't have worked at all. Both Fred MacMurray and Melvyn Douglas are charming and good-looking enough that they could probably have any woman they wanted. But they want Jean Arthur.

Have you seen Jean Arthur?

Beautiful, charming, funny, smart, and superhot. As the great singer and songwriter Robbie Fulks sang,

"God sure threw man a curve
When he made Jean Arthur."

So who can blame Messrs MacMurray and Douglas?

The film actually lightens the source material, the play entitled "Home and Beauty" by W. Somerset Maugham. For one thing, Bill is presumed killed during the first World War. In fact, he has had amnesia and spent time in a German prison. The Vicky character is insufferable and even shallower than as portrayed in the film. For instance, she says things like,
When my first husband was killed, poor darling, I went all to pieces. My bust simply went to nothing. I couldn’t wear a low dress for months.
Moreover, she treats Frederick, Bill's best friend and her new husband, abominably (as you might expect from someone who would utter such a line as that quoted above). And on top of all that, Victoria actually wants to marry another man, a member of parliament with an uncanny knack for obtaining rationed goods.

The best friends, the two husbands, spend the proceedings not trying to win Victoria's favor, but in trying to get themselves out of the horrendous marriage to a horrendous woman. For her part, Victoria decides that, because soldiers are no longer fashionable, she will divorce both of them. The third act is spent satirizing England's divorce laws. It's a great classic in its own right, with an ending that seems less shocking today than it probably did back in 1919.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Poodle Bitch believes humans should govern themselves

Given the current economic situations in which most humans now find themselves, Poodle Bitch doesn't blame them for wanting to vote for new political candidates who represent "change." She would be surprised, however, if humans looked outside their own species for those candidates. Humans are the most arrogant of species.

Actually, Poodle Bitch does not believe that is entirely true. She has heard bad things about dolphins.

Regardless, she was surprised to learn that a canine candidate had been elected to a position of authority, however small that authority may be, in a place called "Annandale."
Running for president [of the Hillbrook-Tall Oaks Civic Association], Ms. Beatha Lee was described as a relatively new resident, interested in neighborhood activities and the outdoors, and who had experience in Maine overseeing an estate of 26 acres.

Though unfamiliar with Lee's name, the crowd of about 50 raised their hands, assuming that the candidate was a civic-minded newcomer. These days, it's hard to get anyone to volunteer to devote the time needed to serve as an officer. The slate that Lee headed was unanimously elected. Everyone ate ice cream, watched a karate demonstration and went home.

Only weeks later did many discover that their new president was, in fact, a dog.

Ms. Lee is a Wheaten Terrier Bitch. Yes, Poodle Bitch capitalized Ms. Lee's credentials because she is both bemused and impressed by Ms. Lee's accomplishment, such as it is.

She was elected to lead a civic association composed of humans who did not even require their candidates to stand before them and present themselves for any sort of inspection whatsoever.

Poodle Bitch is reminded of the classic Alfred E. Neuman campaign slogan, "You could do worse; you always have." Poodle Bitch has no way of knowing what kind of job the previous head of the Hillbrook-Tall Oaks Civic Association did, but she doubts that Ms. Lee could do much worse. The Washington Post article doesn't mention much that is done by the Association -- there are vague references to "ice cream socials" (Poodle Bitch wonders if Annandale is still in the 1950s), grumbling about speed bumps (do they actually place the speed bumps, or grumble about where the speed bumps are placed by the city government?), "annual block parties" (do they really need to meet more than once a year?), and a (losing) "bruising zoning battle against a Montessori school."

In other words, this is a small group of people who feel like they should congregate, but will not do so without an excuse. This would seem to be borne out by the following:
[Mark] Crawford had served three consecutive terms as president and, according to association bylaws, could not run for the office again. For weeks leading up to the election, he begged, pleaded and cajoled neighbors to run for the often-thankless volunteer post. No one bit. Newer, younger families told him that they were too busy juggling work, long commutes and kids. And longtime residents ... said they'd already done their time.

Poodle Bitch wonders if perhaps this should have been a red flag to everyone involved in this civic-minded organization. Either change the bylaws (how difficult would that have been, really?) to allow Mr. Crawford (Ms. Lee's human companion, by the way) to again run for president, or dissolve the apparently unnecessary group. Sometimes it is too much to ask for humans to behave logically.

Human beings have caused their own problems. They should not attempt to rely upon canines to clean them up. Poodle Bitch says, Let them plan their own ice cream socials.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four I mean Future Foundation: Psychosexual braggadocio and corporatism run amuck.

Over at When Falls the Coliseum, I wrote an entirely too long but hopefully amusing essay about Spider-Man joining the Future Foundation. A snippet:

Spider-Man has joined the Fantastic Four. Actually, he's joined something called "The Future Foundation." One member of the Fantastic Four, Johnny Storm AKA the Human Torch, was recently “rebooted to the curb.” And, although the Fantastic Four is no longer calling itself "the Fantastic Four," they still needed "a fourth.” Hence, the inclusion of Spider-Man.

There are a number of disturbing aspects of this story. It is one of cynicism, corporatism, and psychosexual braggadocio.

What is the significance of the strange symbols on the Future Foundation's outfits? You can of course find out by reading the whole thing here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Los Angeles Grammy news reporter's "bizarre on-air episode"

A reporter for Los Angeles's CBS affiliate suffered from -- well, I don't know what it is that she suffered from, actually -- on Sunday night. You can view the video at The Telegraph:

That is harrowing. Clearly, she is trying to say something, and yet she knows she isn't. The confused expression on her face -- why can't I say these simple words??? is difficult to watch. Yahoo claims that she's doing fine now, however:
One of the most memorable performances from Sunday night's Grammy broadcast was also one of the most terrifying: Serene Branson, an Emmy-nominated CBS entertainment reporter began speaking gibberish during the network's post-Grammy newscast. However, after initial fears that Branson may have suffered a stroke on-air, she is reportedly doing OK.

"She was examined by paramedics on scene immediately after her broadcast. Her vital signs were normal. She was not hospitalized," the CBS affiliate that employs Branson said in a statement posted late Monday on its website. "As a precautionary measure, a colleague gave her a ride home. And while Serene says she is feeling better today, she wants us to know she followed-up with a visit to the doctor for some medical tests."
Now that she's apparently, hopefully doing fine, I can reveal what I first thought when I saw this video. It's a bit frivolous.

Back in 1985, CBS revived the classic science fiction/fantasy/horror anthology program The Twilight Zone. They did just about everything right with it. They hired writers like Harlan Ellison, Alan Brennert, and George R. R. Martin. They hired directors like Wes Craven and William Friedken. The show adapted short stories by people like Ellison, Martin, Theodore Sturgeon, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, and Stephen King. They also broke up each hour episode into two or three segments -- so if a story only needed ten minutes, that was all it got.

The episodes run occasionally on Chiller, and many of them seem oddly dated now. Perhaps it has to do with the shot-on-film-but-edited-on-video limitations. But during its first season, it was one of my all-time favorite television shows.

Anyway, my favorite segment of the series was called "Wordplay," which featured the occasionally funny comedian Robert Klein as a salesman who is trying to learn about his company's new medical product line. Slowly, over the course of several days, the salesman hears people "misusing" words -- teaching old dogs new trumpets, that sort of thing.

By the end of the segment, every single word has changed, and the salesman is forced to relearn every word all over again.

The director, Wes Craven, and the screenwriter, Rockne S. O'Bannon, pace it just about as perfectly as they can. The first time he hears an oddly placed word, the salesman thinks he must have misheard. By the end, he's completely overwhelmed and hopeless. It's as good as anything either of them has ever done.

Like any great piece of horror, it works on several levels. On the one hand, there is an ordinary man who is trapped in a world that is slowly changing in ways he cannot control. All he can do is try to cope, yet he's frustrated in these attempts, until finally the world just makes no damn sense to him anymore.

The transposition of the words is, in itself and taken out of context, hilarious. A dog is now called "Wednesday." That is so bizarre as to be funny, and yet the context in which we discover that a dog is now called "Wednesday" is surprisingly moving.

But more than that, I always saw the segment as a metaphor for the onset of dementia. Imagine living your life by one set of rules but then, slowly, because of something like Alzheimer's or herpes, your grip on reality is shaken. Everyone around you seems to suddenly be using an entirely new vocabulary. You try to get your point across and yet the more you struggle the harder it is, the more pathetic and helpless you feel. And the more distance separates you from everyone else.

Of course I hope that Ms. Branson's "episode" is not indicative of any serious medical condition, and that she completely recovers. And I hope that she is not trapped in The Twilight Zone.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Justin Bieber's fan lose their cool

I would not expect fans of Justin Bieber, that paragon of youthful virtue, to lose their cool. Ever. I would expect them to "be Bieber," and accept with equanimity that which they cannot change. However, on Sunday night, when Mr. Bieber failed to join Milli Vanilli, Evanescence, Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, Sheryl Crow, and Hootie ampersand the Blowfish in that elite group of "Best New Artist" Grammy award winners, his fans reacted... negatively.

And their negativity was directed not so much at the voters for that auspicious award, "the Grammy," but the person who was anointed over Mr. Bieber, a young woman with the fantastic name Esperanza Spalding.
"Esperanza Spalding" became the most hated words in a Belieber's vocabulary next to "potty training time" when she drop kicked Justin Bieber's high chair by beating him in the Best New Artist category at the Grammys last night. While most us were Googling Esperanza Spalding to find out who the f*ck she is, the Beliebers (who were already suffering through a severe kind of hyperness from staying up past their bedtimes) vandalized her Wikipedia page with their sprays of Gerber graffiti.
Here, courtesy of Gawker, is a screenshot of Ms. Spalding's vandalized wikipedia page:

The president might like her, but that's not enough to protect her.

Why did they even bother having other nominees, I wonder. Certainly the "Beliebers" must have thought the same thing. It was supposed to be a coronation. Mr. Bieber's fans should have begun their campaign of cyber terror and bullying before the awards. Clearly, they fell asleep on this. Like any fan that is submerged in his world of fandom, they thought there was absolutely no way that their golden boy could lose. And now that he has, they're flailing.

Mr. Bieber had the number two movie in America over the weekend, with nearly $30 million collected. He lost out to a film in which Adam Sandler starred with Jennifer Aniston. Perhaps Mr. Bieber's fans should also vandalize their wikipedia pages? While they're at it, they should go after every single musician whose work outsells Mr. Bieber's. Surely they don't want to live in a world in which we don't all! just! LOVE! Justin!?

There is a weird, very intense strain of fandom in which any deviation from an accepted idea is viewed with contempt -- even hostility. Marketing people know this, I promise you. And they use it. Mr. Bieber's fans are part of the power structure that's been set up to promote him, and they take their job very seriously. If you don't absolutely adore Justin, you are an enemy! You don't like me! And I can use any tools at my disposal to take you down and show the world just how terrible you really are.

The "Beliebers" aren't the only ones -- just check the message boards at Rotten Tomatoes whenever Armond White's new columns go up.

Also: The Washington Post yes The Washington Post has a collection of Bieber fan "reaction" videos, if you're into that sort of thing. Can there be any more pathetic form of groveling narcissism than creating a video displaying your shocked reaction at the loss of an award by your favored celebrity?

Sometimes, it's hard to stay optimistic.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Poodle Bitch wonders about human laws

Doris Muller, and some of her canine companions. (Not pictured: Rage.)

Sometimes, Poodle Bitch is confused by human laws. Case in point: This story, about a woman called Doris Muller in a state called Illinois. Ms. Muller likes companion animals. She likes companion animals a lot.
Muller, 67, love pets. She writes often to this newspaper about her views on animal welfare.

She also is something of a soft touch. A couple of dogs (one is 17 now) came from neighbors who didn't want them anymore. Three more arrived after her daughter's marriage split up.

"They became divorce casualties," she says with a chuckle.

After an adult niece died, Muller took in her two cats. And she also rescued a rabbit no longer wanted by an acquaintance.

Poodle Bitch applauds Ms. Muller's dedication to helping animals that might otherwise be left to roam alone, or victimized by the state. So far, the story is a heartwarming one. Poodle Bitch likes to hear about such things. Unfortunately, the story of Ms. Muller and her animal companions takes a strange and frustrating turn:
Two don't get along: Rage, a 75-pound Treeing Walker Coonhound; and Rusty, a 55-pound mutt. So Miller keeps them away from each other.

Recently, though, she made a mistake: She accidentally let the pair of pooches in the same area. And they started to go after each other.

"That was stupid of me," she says. " ... That wasn't the dogs' fault."

Muller - 5-foot-3, 140 pounds - got them apart right away. So there wasn't much of a fight. She says neither sustained a puncture wound.

As for Muller, she got a sprained wrist from pulling the two apart. And Rage's teeth left a scratch on her wrist.

"It was no big deal," she says.

When Ms. Muller went to the hospital to have her scratch checked, she was told that the incident would have to be reported to local animal control. In the eyes of the law, it seems, a "scratch" is the same as a "bite." And a "bite" is a "bite," whether it's the human companion of said animal, or a complete stranger.
A county animal-control officer arrived at her home with quarantine notice for Rage, the wrist-scratching hound. After a bite, if a domestic animal has not been vaccinated for rabies, it must be kept at a vet or animal shelter for 10 days, says Lauren Malmberg, the county's animal-control director. But a pet with a rabies tag can be kept at home, then taken to a vet for inspection after 10 days.

"Basically, if it's alive it doesn't have rabies, because (with rabies) they'll die in three or four days," Malmberg says.

Muller did as directed with Rage, and her vet pronounced the dog rabies-free - as expected. That cost Muller $45.

Poodle Bitch notes that, because Ms. Muller has at least eight companion animals, she must register herself with the state, which charges her $10 per year for renewal. Presumably, this renewal process includes proof of the companion animals' updated vaccinations.

Perhaps if the "scratch" had been inflicted upon a stranger, said stranger might want to be certain that the animal's vaccinations are up to date. But the human companion of the animal should know. Poodle Bitch wonders why it is that the state was "forced" to act in this way.

Poodle Bitch wonders at the ways in which humans enforce their laws. There was absolutely no way the state could bend in its enforcement of this particular law, and yet, humans are given so much leeway in enforcing other, presumably more pressing and important laws.

Perhaps if Ms. Muller and her canine companion, Rage (and what a loaded name that is!), were more politically connected, there would have been no problem?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Arsole Fantüme, Gentleman Immoralist now available for the Kindle!

Someone once called it "the greatest novel ever written about enema murder." I think that someone was me. Anyway, it can be yours for a mere $2.99, on the Kindle.

For more information on this fabulous book, why not check out the official Arsole Fantüme, Gentleman Immoralist website, which can be found here? Or, you can check out the official Arsole Fantüme, Gentleman Immoralist blog here.

Also, thanks to the great Chris Wisnia for the fantastic illustration above.

Representative Chris Lee victimized by untrustworthy woman

The sending of intimate photos to a romantic or potential romantic partner is a wonderful way to quickly establish intimacy and trust. "Here is a photo of me, at my most vulnerable," it says. "I am at your tender mercy."

The (American) football player Brett Favre sent intimate photos of his most intimate body parts to a young woman, and he paid dearly for that. And now, a man with a slightly less important job -- a "representative" in the US Congress -- has found himself in a similarly delicate situation. All because he trusted a woman.

The above photo was sent by Mr. Chris Lee, then a "representative" of the people of a certain New York state congressional district, to a woman called Yesha Callahan. Gawker has the tawdry tale of the honeytrap:
On the morning of Friday, January 14, a single 34-year-old woman put an ad in the "Women for Men" section of Craigslist personals. "Will someone prove to me not all CL men look like toads?" she asked, inviting "financially & emotionally secure" men to reply.

That afternoon, a man named Christopher Lee replied. He used a Gmail account that Rep. Christopher Lee has since confirmed to be his own. (It's the same Gmail account that was associated with Lee's personal Facebook account, which the Congressman deleted when we started asking questions.)

By email, Lee identified himself as a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist and sent a PG picture to the woman from the ad. (In fact, Lee is married and has one son with his wife. He's also 46.)
A woman -- one of the most untrustworthy of human genders -- placed an ad on Craigslist in which she dared someone to send her a provocative photo. When a man obliged her, he tasted the bitter sting of betrayal.

Infernal woman!
The woman says she cut off contact when she searched for Lee online and concluded he'd lied about his age, occupation, and marital status. Then she forwarded us the correspondence.
He misrepresented certain aspects of his personal life because the two were sharing an online courtship. He wasn't entirely sure she could be trusted (obviously he was right about that!), and yet he still wanted her to know that he felt there was cause to trust her -- hence, the photo.

And what a photo. No, it's not the full-on penis shot of Brett Favre, but it is an intimate display of a man flexing, so as to present himself as a suitable sexual partner. "We will make good babies," that photo is saying. "I am from strong breeding stock."

The photo is that of a man being true to his evolutionary nature. And he was betrayed. Honeytrapped. By a woman who could not be trusted.

And just who is this infernal honeytrapper?
A faculty specialist for the University of Maryland and single mother of a preteen son, [Yesha] Callahan hashed over the e-mails with her social circle of young professionals. Lee's deception was out of bounds, her friends agreed, and Callahan began to see this as a cautionary tale.

"I assumed that other people have probably come across him as well, and he had lied to them," she said. "I felt annoyance at just the audacity of people thinking that they're not going to get found out when they are lying."
She placed an ad in which she goaded men, taunting them, teasing them to send her racy photos. Oh, won't someone prove that not all Craigslist men look like toads? she innocent asked, in that seductive tone (actually it was typed with a keyboard, but it was no doubt a very seductive keyboard). So very innocent. One can see why she'd feel scandalized by the "audacity" of one her respondents.

So much so that she betrayed the man who'd responded to her ad (she placed the ad, don't forget) by gossiping to her "social circle of young professionals."
Callahan said she stopped corresponding with Lee after about 10 e-mails -- when he asked her to send a racy photo. (He'd already sent her the now-infamous shirtless photo of himself.) "I was kind of like, okay, no, he's just looking for things I'm not interested in."
And yet, Ms. Callahan, you placed the ad. You're the one who solicited "the now-infamous shirtless photo")! When he asks you to respond in kind you feign disinterest.

As men continue to use social media to embrace their evolutionary imperatives, women continue to mock, to debase, to humiliate them. Brett Favre, and now, Chris Lee, are the standards of the new media victimization that haunts all decent men just trying to get a little on the side. In this brave new world, women are using mens' natural instincts against them.

I don't mean to suggest that men stop sending such photos of themselves. It is still a great way to show a woman how highly  you esteem her, and how deep your trust runs. For every Chris Lee and Brett Favre there are untold thousands of which we've never heard -- thousands who are not betrayed. I do mean to suggest that men watch for the modern day honeytrap, and plan accordingly.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What does 23 million pounds look like?

23 million pounds looks like this:

And 13 million pounds looks like this:

Salvador Dali's "Portrait de Paul Eluard" set a world record at Sotheby's auction house in London Thursday when it was sold for more than 13 million pounds (21.6 million dollars, 15.8 million euros).

An anonymous bidder paid 13.4 million pounds for the 1929 masterpiece, the most ever for a Surrealist work at auction, breaking a record set in London only last night for a Dali piece at auction.
However, Dali's piece was not the most expensive lot of the night with another anonymous bidder paying 23 million pounds (37 million dollars, 27.2 million euros) for Francis Bacon's "Three Studies for a Portrait of Lucian Freud."

The fee tripled pre-auction expectations and the piece was eventually sold after more than 10 bidders fought it out for more than seven minutes.

"It is an artwork that radiates 'wall-power' with its brilliant colour and dramatic brushstrokes," Cheyenne Westphal, Sotheby?s Chairman of Contemporary Art Europe, said.

"It narrates one of the most impressive artistic relationships of the 20th Century between two titans of British art."
For further context, zero pounds looks like this:

Ricky Sprague's Roman Polanski portrait "Roman Prelude: Champagne and Quaalude". Still looking for a buyer.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Huffington Post: Just like slave owners

Over at When Falls the Coliseum, I wrote a little piece about an LA Times editorial regarding the sale of Huffington Post to AOL. You can read the whole thing here. A little bit:

You might have heard about the Huffington Post being sold to AOL for around $315 million. The internet was "virtually queefing" about it yesterday. Unfortunately, now that the vaginal farts have stopped and the dust has settled, we're getting the slavery metaphors.

Huffington Post runs its organization like an "antebellum plantation." Now, I can't take credit for that particular bit of wordsmithery -- that comes from the mighty keyboard of a man named Tim Rutten who works for a real news organization, The Los Angeles Times. In an editorial with the cutesy-poo title AOL ♥ HuffPo. The loser? Journalism, Mr. Rutten isn't afraid to lay it all on the line:
The other partner to this dubious arrangement is the Huffington Post, which is a new-media marvel of ingenuity, combining a mastery of editing geared to game the search engines that stimulate Web traffic and overhead that would shame an antebellum plantation. The bulk of the site's content is provided by commentators, who work for nothing other than the opportunity to champion causes or ideas to which they're devoted. Most of the rest of the content is "aggregated" — which is to say stolen — from the newspapers and television networks that pay journalists to gather and edit the news.
Huffington Post is a news aggregator that has engendered some resentment for its business practices. Basically, Huffington Post is Reader's Digest for liberals on the internet. They condense stories from other sources, and readers get the gist of the story without having to actually leave Huffington Post.

The difference is that Reader's Digest pays for what it condenses. So, yes, Huffington Post can be likened (metaphorically) to thieves.

Reader's Digest also pays its contributors. Huffington Post doesn't. That, in Tim Rutten's eyes, makes the moral equivalent to antebellum plantation owners. The people who owned slaves. It's a striking metaphor, particularly during the month of February, when we're all encouraged to remember and honor the accomplishments of black Americans.

For some reason, I could not get wordpress to recognize the "♥" in the LA Times editorial headline. Is that a problem with me?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Um. "Queefing" at Mediaite?

The Urban Dictionary defines "queef" as a "vaginal fart." Over at wikipedia, in the "Vaginal flatulence" entry, we get,
Vaginal flatulence (flatus vaginalis in Latin) is an emission or expulsion of air from the vagina that may occur during or after sexual intercourse or (less often) during other sexual acts, stretching or exercise. The sound is somewhat comparable to flatulence from the anus but does not involve waste gases and thus often has no specific odor associated. Slang terms for vaginal flatulence include vart, queef and fanny fart (mostly British).
"South Park" had an episode entitled Eat, Pray, Queef. Jezebel has a page offering queef  etiquette (basic advice: laugh it off).

Why have I got "queefing" on my mind? What kind of question is that? I don't need a reason. But I have one today. I got Mediaite's daily email in my inbox, and it featured a link to a story about the creation of the magazine Entertainment Weekly. The magazine for which that the film "critic" Lisa Schwarzbaum writes. The email features the first few sentences of Mediaite's big stories, to tease you to click over to the main site. Well, in the case of this particular story, the "tease" worked. Here's what I read:
While the internet is virtually queefing itself over news that Arianna Huffington is now Michael Arrington's boss, it's nice to take a break to remember those who have come before us, carving their way through the competitive world of media before any of us had to lose sleep over SEO or slideshows. So, in that vein, here's a pretty cool bit of media history: We've been able to find Jeff Jarvis' original pitch for Entertainment Weekly, from way back in 1988.
The Arianna Huffington/Michael Arrington reference has to do with Huffington Post's sale to AOL for more than $300 million. That is an hilarious story in its own right, but I'm not interested in that now. What does interest me is that big fat "queef" right in the middle of the first sentence of a story on Mediaite.

Mediaite is supposed to be a respectable internet destination for those people who are interested in thoughtful examination of TV news and media. Created by the chief legal analyst for NBC, and former general manager of MSNBC.

I don't expect to read about "queefs" on such a site. I am scandalized. That is why, of all the stories teased in the Mediaite email, it was the one with the virtual vaginal flatulence that I clicked. And what did I find when I got to the Mediaite website?
While the internet is virtually going bezerk over news that Arianna Huffington is now Michael Arrington’s boss, it’s nice to take a break to remember those who have come before us, carving their way through the competitive world of media before any of us had to lose sleep over SEO or slideshows. So, in that vein, here’s a pretty cool bit of media history: We’ve been able to find Jeff Jarvis‘ original pitch for Entertainment Weekly, from way back in 1988.
Did you catch that? The queef is gone, to borrow a line from B. B. King. Replaced with the even less literate "virtually going bezerk" [sic]. Does that mean the same as "queef"?

Here's a picture of the email I got:

Isn't that classy? Mediaite posted on its website a story about the genesis of Entertainment Weekly of all things, featuring a completely superfluous sentence about Arianna Huffington (to make the post "relevant," I guess?), that includes the word "queef" for some reason (to get people to click on the story-- does the author, Alex Alvarez, get paid by the page view?) -- and then they scrubbed the word between the time when the email went out and I clicked on the link.

A queef is just a vaginal fart. Everyone does it. Everyone who has a vagina, anyway. Why is Mediaite so ashamed? Just laugh it off.

And just in case Mediaite corrects the "bezerk," here's a picture of the first paragraph of the story on Mediaite's website:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

In which I take the awkward position of defending Christina Aguilera for botching the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner

Did you hear that there was a "Super" Bowl today? It was played by the two top footballing teams, to decide the national championship. Also, there were some great commercials, I guess.

I am immune to its charms. I watched not one single minute of it. But I understand that something really amazing and painful happened at some point during the nine hours the event consumed on television.

Christina Aguilera flubbed a line in the National Anthem. You can watch it here, if it hasn't already been pulled from YouTube:

PopEater has the story.
Christina Aguilera, always a pro singing the national anthem, couldn't make it through the Star Spangled Banner before the kickoff of Super Bowl XLV. Aguliera, who has handled the task without issue before NBA games, botched the lyrics badly halfway through the song.

Instead of "'O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming" turned into "what so proudly we watched at the twilight's last [unintelligable lyric]."

Luckily, Aguilera had the quick, crowd-rousing "rocket's red glare" line to follow it up, which she nailed and got the packed Cowboys Stadium quickly on her side.

Still, our eyewitnesses in Dallas tell us that the crowd had some drastic reactions. "This was the biggest performance of her career and she blew it," a source with a VIP view tells me. "To mess up the lyrics was a disaster."
First of all, I do not like the Star Spangled Banner. I think it is a terrible song. I understand that it is "our" National Anthem, and saying you don't like your National Anthem is like saying you hate children, and your mother, and the mother of your children, and your own mother, and your own mother's children, but I genuinely hate that atonal, confusing aural irritant.

First of all, look at the lyrics:
Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Let's forget for a moment that the song glorifies war. There's a strong case to be made that America is a country of never-ending war (war on drugs, war on poverty, war on terror, war on hunger, undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) and that our National Anthem should be a war rallying cry. I happen to disagree with that, but I'm in the minority.

What bothers me even more is the structure of the lyrics. It's a series of staccato questions running one right into another sort of like the way this sentence is going on, did you notice what I did? Did you like the way this paragraph is coming together did you expect this paragraph to be structured in quite this way and how do you feel about my argument so far?

Have you ever been around a small child, and you tell them to go to their room or something and they start crying, and asking you why they have to do it, and they forget to take a breath and they just keep asking you questions one right after another, basically the same question rephrased over and over again? That, to me, is what the Star Spangled Banner sounds like.

So, the structure of song is terrible, the lyrics are terrible, the music is terrible. By no discernible measure is the Star Spangled Banner a good song. Or even a mediocre one. It is a bad song. I do not like to hear it. The fact that this is the song that supposedly represents US, as a country, needles me.

Ms. Aguilera botched the lyrics of a bad song.

That said, she took the gig. As the PopEater article notes, she has performed the song before, at other sporting events. She should know the lyrics, and if she didn't want to sing them as written, she shouldn't have accepted the gig.

Anyway, maybe this is a good time to start a "national dialogue" on getting rid of the antiquated idea of singing that ridiculous song at the beginning of major sporting events. How about replacing it with another song, like "This Land is Your Land" (first three verses, anyway)? How about that "purple mountains majesty" song? How about Waylon Jennings's "America"? Or even that Lee Greenwood song?

Or, we could just always play Enrico Pallazzo's rendition, from "The Naked Gun":

Suck on that, Christina Aguilera.

Christina Augilera is so edgy, she botched the lyrics of the National Anthem, at the Super Bowl. Now, that is edgy.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

James Franco is the perfect celebrity

James Franco likes to masturbate. He said so himself, back in September 2010:
"When I'm alone, I do masturbate a lot. I tend to have a four- or five-time day," the hotel-hopping star told the industry website with a laugh
So why am I posting about this now (and I've actually already written about it)? Well, it's about James Franco, and it's about masturbation. Do I really need a reason to repost about it?

Actually, I did have a reason. Mr. Franco is at it again -- and this time, he's bringing along 12 others to join him.
Academy Award-nominated actor James Franco has partnered with Columbia College Hollywood to offer an innovative course through which 12 of the private film school’s best editing students will create a 30 minute documentary film from videographic footage from Mr. Franco’s own unorthodox career.

bq. Mr. Franco’s frequent collaborator editor and Tyler Danna is teaching the course, which has been entitled Master Class: Editing James Franco…with James Franco. Mr. Franco is providing the footage - much of it from behind the scenes on short films he has directed - and the conception for the course and will speak to the students weekly via live feed (Skype) and attend class the weekly class sessions when his schedule allows. The student editors will seek to create a cinematic image of James Franco through the footage. […]

Master Class: Editing James Franco…with James Franco meets on Thursday afternoons weekly. As conceived by Mr. Franco and Mr. Danna, the class sessions themselves will be taped and be part of the final film created by the class or another project.
There is the potential to carry the class forward with 12 different editors in the spring quarter and beyond as the film project continues.
Emphasis added because this class is like a möbius strip folding in on itself and becoming a Koch Snowflake while reflected in a series of funhouse mirrors ad infinitum ad nauseum.

James Franco has become my favorite celebrity. More than any other, he understands and exploits the absurdity of our soulless, PoMo culture.  We want to know everything about these people -- well, James Franco tells us he masturbates (he's a man-- he can't get out of a car with no panties a la Britney Spears). The main goal of more than half of young people today is to become famous. James Franco is creating a class about himself. He is hosting the Academy Awards, the biggest promotional event in Hollywood, on the very night he's a nominee for Best Actor.

I hope the class is real. I really hope it's not just a prank. If it is a prank, it's pretty funny. But if it's earnest, that's even better.
James Franco's Library of America edition is going to be one of that series most interesting.

The problem with Law and the Multiverse: New When Falls the Coliseum piece

There is a blog called Law and the Multiverse, in which two lawyers write entertaining and earnest posts that are occasionally mind-bending in their level of detail about how existing laws would be applied to superheroes. The blog started in November 2010, and they've already been written up by BoingBoing, Volokh Conspiracy, and the New York Times.

It's a fun way to look at the law, I guess, and an interesting (if not completely original) take on superheroes, whose absurdity is often too easy to take for granted. However, there is one major, Mjolnir-sized hole in the logic underlying the blog.

All of the laws that Law and the Multiverse examines would not exist in a world inhabited by superheroes.

Occasionally, comic books attempt to look at what would happen "if superheroes actually existed." Perhaps the most famous and fully-realized of these works is Watchmen (and that book kind of cheats, since there's really only one character with super powers and he works for the government anyway). Back in the 1940s a few superheroes like Captain America and Spy Smasher used the war as starting points for their stories. Mostly, however, you got very half-assed acknowledgements of the real world, like for instance the "World's Finest" -- Batman, Superman, and Robin -- selling war bonds on the cover of one of their comics:

You can read the rest of this piece over at When Falls the Coliseum, if you're so inclined.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The notoriety of contrarianism

Over at the always interesting blog Thrill Fiction, A.Jaye concludes his examination of the new film Black Swan with this devastating paragraph:
The art house Nazis who grovel in Black Swan’s pretentious tide can cheer for the celebration of their beloved ballet in the cinema. Ballet is patronised by the elite. It is exclusive and anti-proletariat. Cinema is for the masses. Film critics should serve as a filter between the film companies and the consumer. Their mass hysteria over Black Swan is a further example of the homogeny of opinion in the mainstream and their desperate elitism.
He also notes that the film currently stands at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes (actually, it's up to 89% now), and at 8.6 on Metacritic (8.2 now among users, and 79 among critics). High numbers. The film has been almost universally praised; a not uncommon phenomenon in the world of film criticism bandwagon-jumping, in which critics often seem to be trying to outdo themselves in heaping praise upon those films they just know are good -- or at least, those films that they know they should like -- to show how smart they are.

Attractive young actress playing a sexually repressed, hypertense ballerina who might be losing her marbles and has a lesbian makeout scene? Well, unless Tyler Perry directed it with Adam Sandler, that is critical catnip.

There has been a lot written about the fact that just anybody can start up a blog now and call himself a "critic." And it's true. There are a lot of film criticism blogs. Some of them are very good. Some stink. Most stink. Probably 90% of them stink, as Theodore Sturgeon might say. But you know what? 90% of all film criticism stinks.

Last month, at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards Dinner, there was a minor brouhaha or kerfuffle or dustup or something between the director of the critically-anointed Black Swan and the chair of the NYFCC, Armond White. In a blog post, Entertainment Weekly film "critic" (yes, those are sneer quotes) Lisa Schwarzbaum gave her version of events.
The New York Film Critics Circle awards dinner is traditionally a festive, elegant affair honoring the filmmakers and actors voted best in their category each year by one of the most prestigious critics’ groups in the country. But after last night’s edition — the 76th in the group’s proud history — all talk of the pleasures of Colin Firth’s charming acceptance speech as Best Actor or Michelle Williams’ sweet presentation to Mark Ruffalo as Best Supporting Actor was drowned out by chatter about critic Armond White and director Darren Aronofsky.
There is so much *s*m*u*g* in that paragraph that one must splash water on one's face after reading it. This awards dinner is traditionally (they've done it so many times in the past!) a festive and elegant affair (they party, but they do so with style!) -- and did you catch that Colin Firth was there (and so, so charming!)? And Michelle Williams and Mark Ruffalo? What a perfectly charming life Ms. Schwarzbaum leads, getting to engage with such fascinating people! Except...

Oh, it was just so ruined by that incident between Armond White and Darren Aronofsky!

Consider this for a moment. A society of film critics (really? do they have to have a club like that? why?) not only hands out "awards" to honor filmmakers and actors (why are film "critics" handing out awards? it is not the job of film critics to give out awards, nor should they be "ranking" films with "top ten lists." that is anathema to art), but this society of film critics invites to such a ludicrous event the very people whose work they are to dispassionately critique. Do you suppose that Ms. Schwarzbaum realizes the absurdity of her position? No, she does not. She is clearly incapable of self-awareness.

Consider also: Ms. Schwarzbaum is a "critic" for Entertainment Weekly.  This is a magazine that is part of the Time-Warner megacorporation that exists as an advertising/promotional pamphlet for TW and the other major entertainment companies. Who buys EW?

When I worked in the marketing department of one of the major studios, one of my jobs was to buy and distribute magazines that featured stories on actors and actresses who were working on films for our studio. We bought hundreds of copies of each issue. Especially if said actor or actress graced the cover of the magazine. Even if the film they happened to be promoting at the time was not our studio's film, we'd still buy hundreds of copies.

Now consider how many studios there are, how many record companies, how many production companies, how many television stations... you begin to get some idea of how many copies of EW are sold to industry people. If you've ever wondered, "How come X musician I love never gets mentioned in EW," or "Why does Y get yet ANOTHER cover, while Z gets nothing?," there's your answer.

That's why I put the sneer quotes around the word "critic" when describing Ms. Schwarzbaum's title at EW. She is a cog in the promotional/advertising machine that encompasses the major media companies.

And, she's part of the New York Film Critics Circle. And she just can't believe how that Armond White is sullying the name of this amazing group that would have her as a member!
White, the notoriously contrarian film critic who publishes in the free weekly New York Press, was the 2010 chair of the NYFCC (of which Owen Gleiberman and I are members), and therefore, by custom, the emcee of the event. And reliably contrary to most of his voting colleagues, he didn’t like many of the choices made by the rest of the group: He disdained Black Swan, The Kids Are All Right, and The Social Network, among others, in reviews that coincidentally have whipped up publicity and generated page hits for his publication even as they have confounded or infuriated or amused readers. Aronofsky, of course, is the director of Black Swan. And in presenting the NYFCC award for cinematography to Black Swan‘s Matthew Labatique, Aronofsky couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a verbal swipe at the evening’s host, saying, “I thought I was giving White the compassion award because if you don’t have something, you should get it. Seriously, keep it up because you give all of us another reason not to read The New York Press.”
He is "notoriously contrarian". The use of the words are deliberate -- notorious meaning "generally and unfavorably known," and contrarian meaning that he takes a contrary position. Both words have negative connotations; the implication being that Mr. White is unfavorably known to take opposing positions. He does this to "whip up publicity and generate page hits." This from a writer for EW.

Again, the woman has no self-awareness.

But she's saying that Mr. White takes his contrarian positions in order to generate web traffic. She says this because she hasn't the inclination to debate Mr. White's positions on their own merits. Whether she doesn't think it's worth her time, or she is incapable of doing so I don't know. Maybe she thinks that because Mr. White has gotten death threats from the RottenTomatoBots that she doesn't have to. But she clearly has a low opinion of the notorious contrarian. She is not a notorious contrarian.

In fact, have you ever read Ms. Schwarzbaum's criticism? I have, on those occasions when I am in medical waiting rooms, and I have already flipped through the copies of TIME, Newsweek, Popular Mechanics, McCall's, Reader's Digest, the local paper, Cosmopolitan, Highlights for Children, the Racing Form, and whatever stray medical-themed pamphlets might be laying around. She is most certainly not a notorious contrarian. In fact, when you want to have the conventional wisdom verified, she is the one to which to turn.

There can be no greater insult for a critic.

Reading Ms. Schwarbaum is like reading 90% of the film critics out there. The same cannot be said for Mr. White. His writing is sharp, witty, unexpected and challenging. He has very specific standards from which he does not waver. I don't always agree with him (for one thing, he's part of a critics society that hands out awards to filmmakers), but why oh why would you want to read a critic with whom you always agree? Critics should shake things up. Critics should challenge. Critics should be contrary.

 Unfavorably known to take a contrary opinion.

As for Mr. Aronofsky's criticism of Mr. White: It is poor manners to accept an invitation to a party and then spit at the host. "Compassion"? Because he did not like your film he lacks "compassion"? More an more, filmmakers are expecting critics to help them push their product -- to act more as arms of the studios publicity departments, and less as arbiters of quality art. As the amounts of money involved increase (in terms of budgets and in terms of ticket prices),  and the economy sinks further, this pressure is only going to increase.

But I don't expect Mr. Aronofsky to behave as anything other than an artist, which is what he is. Ms. Schwarzbaum is supposed to be a critic. She should be held to higher standards of decorum. As for Mr. White, by Ms. Schwarzbaum's own account, he handled Mr. Aronofsky's verbal assault with admirable and gentlemanly restraint:
Then White couldn’t resist the opportunity to respond: “That’s all right. Darren reads me. That’s all I want. And because he reads me, he knows the truth.” The proceedings became ruder from there, more self-referential, more uncomfortable. Introducing Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner to present the best picture award to The Social Network, White offered, “Maybe he can explain why it won best picture.” And closing the evening — his final moment at the microphone  – the emcee threw in a gratuitous swipe at director Noah Baumbach, another filmmaker on his s— list, saying, “I thank the Circle for not awarding a single award to Greenberg.”
As for the rest of that paragraph, one can read Mr. White's response to Ms. Schwarbaum here. Among other things:
Cowed by editors and publishers who have relinquished truth and intelligence to the promotion of power and money—resulting in the overweening tabloid nightmare that is today's mainstream—some reviewers prefer the tired, poisonous myth that critics are hostile and inferior to filmmakers and performers. They forget that it's up to critics, not film producers or publicists, to maintain critical authority and standards and not bend to the will of marketers.
And there's also some dish about Ms. Schwarzbaum and another film "critic," J Hoberman. If you're so inclined, read the whole thing.

Film awards programs are publicity tools, nothing more. Check the commercials and print ads in December and January of any year. "Nominated for X awards," "Winner, Best X, the New York Film Critics Circle." These programs are part of the Hollywood publicity machine. Ms. Schwarzbaum is also part of that publicity machine. She shouldn't take herself so seriously.

No one else does.