Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oh Peacock, You're So Fine...

So, Katy Perry's new album, Teenage Dream dropped. It has a few songs I'm obsessed with, and a few I am sure I will be obsessed with once the DJs I work with jam it, club-style, straight into my brain via my buzzing ears.

One song that has installed itself in my frontal lobe and commenced snacking on my gray matter would be "Peacock." In the vein of "If U Seek Amy" by Britney Spears, this song doesn't even try to obscure its "hidden meaning." Clearly it is Katy's businessman-created, written, tested, and executed ode to Russel Brand's gigantic throbbing member. Katy isn't winking at us so much as holding up photos of penises as she sings the catchy beat.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with this. I am saying, however, why bother? It's not like she'll be pulling a fast one on us. While it can be argued that Sara Bareilles successfully duped us into thinking an attack against a record executive was a vengeful anti-love tuner, there is no argument to be levied on behalf of the "hidden" meaning of Peacock.

At least If U Seek Amy expected us to spell (which Britney can't even do, so plaudits go to her for challenging herself). In this song, Katy goes ahead and says Peacock once before saying "cock" four hundred more times. And, unless we find out that Russell Brand has an aviary in the backyard of his mansion that houses extremely large birds, an aviary that he has yet to let Katy visit despite her pleas, I'm pretty sure we can close the book on this song.

Does anyone else catch themselves thinking of the song "Mickey" (as in "Oh Mickey you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind") when they hear this song? I know I am. Whether this is an officially sampled beat, or just something that's uncanny-valley close to what I'm associating with, I do not know.

It makes sense, then, when given how bluntly this song cockslaps you in the eye over and over again, that Gay Softcore Pornographer and Music Video Director Ryan James Yezak has tackled this video as a sequel to his sexy (and New York bashing) California Gays video.

He certainly doesn't disappoint. He has come a long way in 1 month's time. His number of on-camera, barely clothed twinks has near doubled. He's gotten his hands on a number of sets (versus a beach, boardwalk, and street). These sets include a bright white bedroom set (I feel really bad for whoever got stuck with THAT cleaning bill). He's also now lined up a sponsor in American Apparel and somehow gotten his hands on a live peacock-cock-cock.

His editing, as always, is stellar. I still take issue with some of Christian Beasley's choreography. Sometimes it doesn't fit in the frame, and sometimes it just looks silly (and not in a sexy way). Why are they back-flapping fake arm-wings? I don't know. Also, the black paint on white sheets, for some reason, makes me think Lady Gaga, whether it's actually a Gaga trope or not. And when the music pauses for a brief dialogue scene, the microphone makes Beasley's weakly delivered line, and this video sound a lot lower in quality than the rest of it looks. And finally, I think I may be growing tired of Yezak's use of the "three guys dancing, now I'll transition to them doing the same dance but in a different arrangement" editing trick. It was impressive in California Gays, and it's smoother and better executed here. But perhaps when he makes his next video, he can branch out to other camera trickery.

But don't think my criticism is saying that this video is subpar. It certainly is not. I have already watched it twice, gritting my teeth through the shitty resolution and choppiness of YouTube. That says a lot. This is a great, high-energy, scintillating, and visually explosive project. And I imagine they did it in a very short period of time. His use of typical "fantasies" including the football locker room and the doctor's office are executed with a nice mix of sexiness and cuteness, making you laugh and suppress your arousal at the same time. I also found myself a fan of his "white outfits on white background" portion, basically showing his dancers as a group of free-floating limbs. Bonus points for the "letter play" with the t-shirts - did American Apparel print those on demand?

Also, I think the people who are saying that this video is "terrible" over at PerezHilton.com can go get trampled by non-metaphorical peacocks. Get over it, boys. Whatever deep-seeded issues you have that drive you to pee all over this peacock, they have nothing to do with this fantastic homage to a hotter than hot pop goddess.

And now this leaves me to wonder: what will Yezak do next? I haven't listened to the Perry album enough to levy a guess. Maybe he'll step away from Katy and do another artist? Ke$ha perhaps? I'll tell you this much: I'm excited to find out. I'm also curious to see if Yezak can parlay this into something else - television, or a legit directorial gig. Eyes are certainly on him (even though they're probably mostly gay eyes.)

And of course, I have a hard time critiquing Yezak's work simply because I cannot do what he does at all. I am a jokester with a flipcam who occasionally video tapes go-go boys licking each other's sternums. As is evidenced by my most recent video project, a video highlights reel of BoiParty.com, Pepper Mint, and Dougie Meyer's booze cruise this past Sunday night, which is shamelessly included below. If I deserve any credit at all, it's for finding a good reason to re-use Andy Samberg and T-Pain's "I'm on a Boat."

Either way, I am critiquing Mr. Yezak because I am not-so-secretly rooting for him to make it big. To get more of these videos out. To let me see more and more of those ridiculous cuties, Joe Lauer and Spencer Titus. And if you boys end up reading this and come to NYC any time soon, I will happily talk Alan Picus into having you perform at our parties all week long. You'll find a healthy fan following here, I can assure you of that.

I wanna see your emu-moo-moo...
- J.

It Takes A Diva To Suck This Hard.


When actors play musicians in movies, the results are often spellbinding. Take Joaquin Pheonix as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, Angela Basset as Tina Turner in What's Love Got To Do With It, and Jenna Maroney as Jackie Jormp-Jomp AKA Janis Joplin, which we can only assume would have been amazing if it weren't just a storyline on 30 Rock. And that's just the ones based on real people. Jeff Bridges just won an Oscar playing a country music star named Bad Blake. Terence Howard was awesome as a fictional rapper in Hustle & Flow. Gwyneth Paltrow's upcoming role in Country Strong could land her at the top of the charts and on the red carpet come Oscar season. Almost Famous...Amadeus...Ray...the list goes on and on.

You know what's not spellbinding? When Hollywood tries to reverse that winning formula and lets musicians pretend to be actors. I call to the stand Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, and now Christina Aguilera, along with every other musician who thought looking convincingly-pure-yet-secretly-horny in a music video meant they could carry a movie. I'm looking at you, Madonna in Swept Away! And now I'm looking away, because it hurts.

Are there exceptions? Sure. To the surprise of many, Justin Timberlake has proven worth his salt as an actor - witness him as the creator of Napster in David Fincher's upcoming "Facebook movie" The Social Network. Bjork powered through the notoriously difficult Lars von Trier's Dancer in the Dark, her first film role (and last, she has vowed). And Eminem made it all the way through the Academy Awards without committing a hate crime when he was nominated for 8 Mile's "Lose Yourself," a film in which he capably portrayed a young white rapper from Detroit. Hmm.

But for every Jennifer Hudson, there's a Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini, who weren't even convincing as characters named Justin and Kelly in From Justin to Kelly. (Lucky for them, they happened to find a script in which the characters had their same first names. What are the odds? Imagine how much worse it would have been had they not played themselves? World-endingly bad, I'd guess.) In fact, musicians fail at playing themselves surprisingly often. Mariah Carey was more convincing as a social worker with a mustache in Precious than she was as a pop diva in Glitter (never mind that both movies sound like her pre-Mimi album titles). And it's been awhile since I saw David Bowie as a drugged-out space oddity in Labyrinth (that counts as playing himself, right?), but all I remember is a giant codpiece, which probably isn't a good sign.

Despite these past horrors, young musicians are still neglecting to brush up on their Meisner technique, judging by the latest crop testing their acting chops by playing characters very similar to themselves - and still failing. Naturally, I avoided seeing Valentine's Day because I don't hate myself and did not wish for my penis to fall off, but a friend turned me on to the jaw-droppingly-atrocious acting by Taylor Swift in this "romantic" "comedy." This clip begs the question: is this improv? Did she know the camera was rolling? Was this honestly the best take? Or somehow, possibly the only take? Is Jennifer Garner supposed to act that uncomfortable, or is she as horrified by Taylor Swift's appearance in this movie as I am?

I present Exhibit A, to make of what you will:

How did this happen? I know Ms. Swift is considered very down-to-earth and relatable because she prefers sneakers to high heels and sits in bleachers, but this girl could not act her way out of a paper bag. If both she and a paper bag were up against each other for an Oscar, the paper bag would win, hands-down. If only Kanye would appear in this movie and drag Taylor out of it! I won't comment on whether or not she deserved that Video Music award, but she sure as hell didn't deserve to be cast in this movie. Not when there are plenty of other talented actresses, paper bags, and house flies out there who could have brought more depth and believability to the role of Completely Ordinary Girl. You can wear T-shirts all you want, Taylor, but you have blown your cover.

Faring only marginally better is Miley Cyrus in The Last Song, a role that was written for her by Nicholas Sparks. Reportedly she wished to stretch beyond the limitations of playing a musician on a Disney sitcom, so guess what! She plays a musician. But on a bigger screen. Oh, and this time, she stubbornly refuses to play the piano anymore because she's mad at her Dad, and is punishing him by declining her admission to Julliard. This means she spends the movie making out with an Australian, saving sea turtles, and trying to solve the mystery of who burned down the local church instead. (No, seriously.)

That's fine by me, I didn't want to hear her sing anyway - but guess whether or not she eventually does sing, and decides to give Julliard a shot after all? She does! And guess whether or not someone dies of cancer? They do! And guess if Miley at one point dons a blond wig and becomes a wacky country superstar? Well, no...but that didn't stop me from laughing at the movie as if it were a sitcom anyway. As Nicholas Sparks heroines go, Ms. Cyrus is no Rachel McAdams or Robin Wright, nor an Amanda Seyfried or Diane Lane. I can't say her acting was truly terrible because there was nothing good in the film to compare it to. The highest compliment I can give her is that she didn't make the movie suck any harder than it was already going to. Sparks has a true gift for making two specific demographics cry: 1) women, and 2) me. But for very different reasons.

Now this Thanksgiving comes the latest offender, and quite possibly the most delicious of them all: Christina Aguilera in Burlesque, which looks something like Chicago meets Showgirls - meets guilty pleasure heaven meets a great big smile on my face. We get not one but two divas-turned-actresses! We also get singing, dancing, and Alan Cumming, officially making this the gayest movie ever made. And yes, I am including gay porn. Sure, maybe it's unfair to judge the movie before it comes out, but something tells me Christina's acting debut will be more Beyonce in Obsessed than Beyonce in Dreamgirls. And that something is the trailer for the movie:

You'll note that "Academy Award-winner" Cher also appears, and probably recall that she, too, got her start as a singer. Does that mean there's hope for this movie? I don't think so. Yes, Cher won an Oscar, but that was a long time ago - way back when she could still move her face. Judging by her big, uncomfortably long moment in this trailer, the Academy will be stopping by Cher's fortress any day now to "repurpose" that Oscar, and I seriously doubt they'll be handing it over to Little Miss "Sex for Breakfast" any time soon, either.

Still, it's about time Aguilera made her acting debut. Fellow Mouseketeers Justin and Britney have been at it for years, and Mandy Moore has all but left her pop persona in the dust after snagging juicy roles in the likes of Saved!, American Dreamz, and Entourage (plus one Nicholas Sparks movie). Better late than never: Burlesque is poised to be Christina Aguilera's Crossroads. Remember that debacle? No? Oh, stop pretending.

Here, let me remind you:

To be fair, it's not Brit-Brit's performance that is so bad as it is the material she has to work with, which is true of so many of these poor divas. Ms. Spears is actually quite the thespian - you may recall her performance as Someone Who's Not Batshit Crazy during the first several years of her career. She had us all convinced then, didn't she? If we only knew.

Anyway. The plot of Burlesque places Christina as a small-town girl - but stop right there! It's already ridiculous. Which small town is she from? Obviously A Divaville, Nebraska? I've bought Ms. Aguilera in a variety of roles, including S&M kitten, Boogie Woogie Bugle Girl, genie in bottle, mud wrestler, third wheel in a ménage à trois with Britney and Madonna, and even the reflection of a cartoon Asian princess in drag. However, I steadfastly refuse to believe that the girl has ever milked a cow, or even looked at one. I have no doubt that Christina will give Burlesque her all, but I am afraid "her all" will not nearly be enough to save this sucker. When Stanley Tucci tells her, "Great enthusiasm, terrible timing" in the trailer, I have a feeling this is really just him giving the songstress a few acting pointers when they didn't know the cameras were rolling. Am I being too hard on Burlesque? Well, any movie with a character named Alice and a "Wonderland" punchline deserves all the mockery I can muster, if you ask me.

There's virtually no way Burlesque can be good. Thus one can only hope it lives up to its ludicrous trailer and is as much of a jumbled, awkward mess as Christina's album Bionic, which dropped earlier this year with a big, fat THUD. I sure hope the director found room for "Vanity" amongst the musical numbers! In fact, I'd forgive Christina all of Bionic if the album's worst tracks (and there are plenty) were written specifically to go along with campy musical numbers in this movie. Cher doing "Bobblehead"? Well, a boy can dream.

Regardless, I know exactly what I'll be thankful for this November - a big, fat turkey like Burlesque.

Gobble gobble,


Monday, August 30, 2010

Baby We Were Born to ROTFLOL

I was not in front of a television last night to see the Emmys, as I was actually somewhere drunk along the Hudson River on a big gay boat cruise. But that doesn't matter. Thanks to the state of the Internet, I don't need to be anywhere in order to see anything any more. Case in point: I just watched the opening to last night's Emmy Awards featuring Jimmy Fallon, a bunch of Glee characters, and far too many amazing cameo celebs just this second.

And it's made me really want to write an award show opening number. Taking a tip from the Tony Awards (or so I'm guessing), it seems that every award show now needs to have live performances kicking off their often boring festivities. In a world where viewers have four thousand niche channels to which they can surf, you have to work, and work damn hard to keep their attention. Last night's opening number is a perfect example of an epic win.

Once upon a time, musical numbers were pretty much limited to the Tonys and the Grammys. Then, at some point, the Oscars got in on the game by featuring live performances from their nominated "best song" category (X, feel free to correct me here, I'm too lazy to look up whether this is true or not; however, if Jimmy Fallon and Jon Hamm were singing the information to me, I might be more likely to pursue the knowledge.)

But here comes The Emmys with a 6-minute piece that I will probably watch at least 4 more times while composing this post.

Seriously, check out the cast in this number! Do we remember the time when actors were too "above it all" to get involved with these petty entertainments? Their job was to show up, walk the red carpet in their borrowed finery, sit down and make interesting facial expressions when the camera turned on them. But now?

Well, just look at it! My personal heroine, Tina Fey is willing to show up, make jokes, and get splashed with fruit juice. Jon Hamm, who is quickly becoming basic cable's George Clooney, abandons the seriousness of his troubled advertising avatar to booty dance with Betty White, who is probably the second coolest octaganerian I know (the first being my Grandpa, who was asked to co-star in this video, but had to turn it down because the Yankees were playing a double header last night).

And then we have the tragic Kate of Kate plus twenty, or however many spawn she brought into this world via reality television. Good for her, though, allowing all of us to laugh at her. Sure, she's probably thinking: "hey look! screen time! om nom nom." But, still, the fact that she plays in the joke that is really just a joke about her is excellent for this.

Add to this video Randy Jackson of American Idol, Tim Gunn of Project Runway, that fat guy from Lost, Jane Lynch (who will probably just start BEING Sue Sylvester, since everyone seems to really prefer her as bitchy, dykey, and sardonic), and the painfully sexy Joel McHale of The Soup and Community and you have the equivalent of the most hilarious orgy I would ever ask to be a part of.

This points to a new brand of celebrity, i feel. The old guard is being left behind for the Feys and Hamms and Whites who are willing to take the extra time to show up at the award show location a day (or more) in advance to practice and film, all while making fun of themselves. Why? Because long gone is the day where movie stars and TV stars were figures so far out of our reach that we were only allowed to see them on the screen. Today, where the average attention span doesn't have time to watch a YouTube video on their phone while running to the store, you need to pull out all the stops and make sure you are everywhere.

Another example of extra effort being put in would be the equally funny "Modern Family" segment featuring both Stewie Griffin AND George Clooney.

(Look out, Jon Hamm, Clooney's onto your trickery, and he's willing to sleep with gay men to keep his place in the spotlight.)

Again, here the humor is perfect. Stewie's referencing Married with Children is something I know I think about every time I enjoy Modern Family. And who, gay or straight, hasn't considered the 3-D power of Gloria's breasts? 

This stuff is brilliant - it is right up my alley as far as humor goes. It is complex in that it references multiple shows, winks so many times at you that you might think it's having an epileptic fit, and doesn't bother dumbing down the jokes for you. And I want in on this.

How do I get a job writing award ceremony sketches and openings? I would LOVE to fight back the dry and useless late-show-esque monologues of yesteryear (yes, I know they still exist, but each year we beat them back further and further with the help of song, dance, and video montages... keep it up!)

I would love to have the full roster of television's stars at my disposal. I'd throw the Simpsons together with John Stewart and Hugh Laurie as Doctor House. I could do whatever I wanted with Kyra Sedgwick as The Closer and Conan O'Brien. The possibilities are endless, and potentially endlessly hilarious.

Apparently last night's Emmys was one of the best awards show broadcast in history. Quick. Funny. Some cried "overkill" (again, I didn't see it.) But allow me to come in on the side of overkill: I'd rather have a show with far too many jokes than one with not enough. Bravo Jimmy Fallon. Bravo writers. Bravo TV actors. I can't wait to see what you have inspired in the other award shows that broadcast in the coming months.

And to close out this post, I won't bother trying to be funny or succinct... I'll just show you Jimmy Fallon saying goodbye to "24", "Law & Order", and "Lost".

Presented without commercial interruption,
- J.

Pandora's Box Office.


In the crowded movie marketplace, you'd be forgiven for missing it: a little James Cameron movie about blue aliens amongst this weekend's crop of box office hopefuls.

The tally? At the top, The Last Exorcism makes $21.3 million. Avatar comes in 12th with a paltry $4 million.

Say it with me now: "Pooooor Avatar."

James Cameron's "Special Edition" of his 3D epic was bested even by Vampires Suck and Nanny McPhee Returns. I guess more people wanted Nanny McPhee to return than the Na'vi. You know what sucks even more than vampires this weekend? Avatar! (I've stopped myself before an expandable/Expendables joke. Oh wait - no I haven't!)

When Avatar was released just nine months ago, a live action 3D movie was still a pretty nifty concept. Was Avatar mind-blowing? It was. Were the special effects special? Yes! Visually, we'd never seen anything like it. (Thematically, well, some of us had seen Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest, but it had been awhile.) I think we all recognized that there were certain story flaws inherent in Avatar, but to the vast majority of moviegoers, it didn't matter. We were wowed. We were awed. We felt as if James Cameron had truly transported us to Pandora. Another world.

And yes, maybe we were there about 20 minutes longer than we needed to be. And maybe it cost us roughly $4 more than we should have paid. But it was worth it.

Now fast forward a few months. Three dimensions are sooo last Christmas. Everything and its mother is being released in three dimensions. None of this 3D is as good as Avatar's, because didn't James Cameron spend like 70 years making that movie? Also, none of these movies are as good as Avatar. The Last Airbender. Clash of the Titans. Piranha. Step Up. I would be a lot happier if the extra dimension was character depth, and for that you don't need to put on any silly glasses.

It doesn't surprise me that the rerelease of Avatar didn't fly. For one, it's too soon. We all just took out second mortgages on our homes so we could afford the upcharge on 3D movies to see it the first time. For another, Avatar is available on DVD. This "Special Edition" comes with 9 minutes of extra footage that I'm sure is really great, and hopefully contains the subtlety and nuance that was originally cut from the film. But are those extra 9 minutes that somehow weren't good enough to put in the film the first time, but are suddenly so good that you absolutely must shell out another $645 to see it on the big screen, in 3D, on IMAX? Then there's also the matter that, back in December, Avatar was pretty much it for 3D, and now thanks to that film's $750 million take, we have been inundated. I never thought I'd say it, but Hollywood: Less depth, please!

Personally, I'm not a fan. Aside from Avatar, I have never wanted to see a film in 3D. I enjoy films such as Toy Story 3 in 2D as much as I possibly could, no extra depth required. In most cases, I think 3D is just a distraction from the elements of films I like: story, characters, dialogue. None of these are enhanced with such technology. In fact, the whole reason Avatar was received so well is because the 3D distracted from story, characters, and dialogue. Because, watch Avatar without those glasses on, and you'll see those elements seem flatter than ever.

The real problem with the rerelease is this: a mere nine months after its release - and only six months since it was the top rival to the year's Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker - Avatar is cheesy. Those blue people running around look like cartoons, that military bad guy is so over the top he might as well have a cape and twirly mustache, and "I see you" is no "I'll never let go, Jack" and never will be. Back in January, I placed it in the #10 slot on my list of 2009 films. Did an alien creature take over my body and force me to do this? No. Back then, all those months ago, Avatar was spectacle. I, like many, was enamored of it. But on subsequent viewings on DVD, it doesn't quite hold up. Is our world really changing at such a rate that yesterday's Biggest Movie of All Time can already be such old news? Is Avatar already just a punchline?

I don't think Avatar is a bad movie; I think it's far better than it could have been. The story and characters are serviceable for what it is. There are certainly worse blockbusters out there. Did you know there's even a way to learn the language of the Na'vi people from home? (Yeah, because that'll be a marketable skill someday. If you're going to take the time to learna foreign language, good for you - but please choose one that exists.)

I can't help but feel this "Special Edition" smacks of money-grubbing greed on the studio's part, especially when this is already the highest-grossing film of all time. How much more money do you need, James Cameron? If this edition is so special, why didn't you just put it out the first time?

Personally, I'm pleased that Avatar didn't fare so well in its rerelease. That moviegoers stood up to the Man and said, "No more. Not this time." I'm well aware that 3D isn't going anywhere, but this gives me some hope that all is not yet lost. (However, I will shamelessly admit that it's been a good 13 years since I saw Titanic in theaters and I am definitely up for a 3D Special Edition of that one. Jack + Rose 4eva!)

Still, I can't help but feel at least a little bad for James Cameron. I mean, sure, he has directed the two highest-grossing films of all time, but he also watched his ex-wife beat him in multiple categories at the Oscars this year. For a guy like Jim, a $4 million weekend at the box office must really sting. James Cameron probably spent $4 million on breakfast this morning. (And then rereleased his breakfast with 9 extra minutes of footage right afterward. In IMAX.)

Poor king of the world. I bet he's feeling really blue.

I'll never let go,


Friday, August 27, 2010

...You Gonna Eat That?

Every Friday is Improv Friday at Said Panties. On Facebook, X and J take a poll of their friends for a topic (any topic) to write on. The most popular, ridiculous, or random is selected, and both X. and J must write about it. This week's topic, The Newsworthiness of Eating Used Condoms, comes from Michael Steinwand.

In our 24-hour news cycle, urgency is a resting state. The second something isn't controversial, exclusive, or dire, the general cable news audience will switch to the next red-faced screaming pundit. Every bit of news is BREAKING, BREAKING, BREAKING with large graphics that "swoosh!" in and "kaboom!" out of frame. Crosshairs are focused over children's faces, tombstones transform into blood-dripping Islamic signs.

These days you aren't watching the news so much as it's coming out of your television and chewing on your eyeballs. It should come as no surprise to anyone, then, that all of this breaking news has effectively broken cable news. You don't tune in to Fox or MSNBC to learn about things, you tune in to get enraged, to get your marching orders and daily list of hate targets. They're too busy focusing on one non-story all day to bother actually delivering you a full serving of news. They'll happily show you the same five clips, over and over again, while interviewing people who don't actually know what's happening.

But I don't need to tell you all of this. That's what The Daily Show is for.

But when the story of a little boy snacking on a condom in an Atlanta hotel makes the news, you know it's a slow day, and I need to cry foul. This isn't news. This is filler. It's flavorless Oreo cream, or the air they fill bags of chips with to make them look more full than they actually are. It doesn't need to be reported, and I think they know this.

What's the matter, Fox? Did Obama lock himself in the oval office today? Did not one member of the administration make a gaffe ten years ago that you could blow out of proportion? Can't Glenn Beck just do another one of his blackboard drawings connecting anteaters to nazis to Joe Biden's next door neighbor? (THE CONNECTION IS THERE, I'M JUST INFORMING YOU!)

Well, whatever the reason, the result is here before us: the dumbest news story ever created (I know, I know, there's probably worse stories than this. Still.) Even the poor Fox writer assigned to this story knows that there's nothing really to report: a kid stuck a used condom in his mouth, he developed a fever, he is being STD tested, we do not know what happened after that. But I'll bet the writer was elated not to have to write another fantastic piece of ad hominem trash accusing Nancy Pelosi of being a back alley abortionist with the power to turn men gay with her gaze during her college years.

So instead, the writer turns to DYNAMIC language. The story isn't exciting or urgent, so his language must take care of that problem. The result, I think you'll agree, is like a treatment for a really great horror movie that tragically never follows through.

Observe some excerpts:

"The incident happened on Aug. 1 at the Wyndham Gardens hotel in downtown Atlanta, where she had taken the boy and his cousin for a weekend of family fun."

This would be where we cue the ominous music. The Grandma, grandkid, and cousin are driving along a mountain road. Perhaps The Shining's Overlook Hotel in the misty background. Perhaps a bat is flying above their car.

"Jones said at first glance room 329 looked perfectly clean, except that there was no soap and no towels."

Foreshadowing! Even the hostel in Hostel had soap and towels (and lots of bare-breasted travelers.)

"Then, she said, she noticed something more troubling."

Oh my God. WHAT IS IT? No mints!?

"I'm like, 'Girl, you know, these sheets don't smell clean,'" Jones said."

This is similar to the "I'm just going to go check out where that sound in the woods came from. I'LL BE RIGHT BACK, GUYS."

The next morning, Jones said, she awoke to a horrifying scene.

Of course, at this point, you're picturing a room full of dead bodies. Or an infestation of alien spiders with hungry eyes. Or that the child has transformed into a vampire.

But, no, our little victim was merely giving a tongue job to the worst eclair he's ever tasted.

Anticlimactic? You betcha. I mean, sure, it's horrifying. But not in the standard type of horror we're used to. We usually reserve horrifying for things like unknown beasts devouring people, or blood being let out of elevator doors. I'm sure the Grandma could have awoken to far more horrifying scenes like the cousin stabbing the grandson, or any scene from High School Musical 2.

This, Fox News, is a bit of overkill.

Also, am I the only person who sees a lot of inconsistencies in Grandma's story of terror? First of all, who the hell is going to go to sleep in a bed that smells "off"? And what, exactly, does "not clean" smell like? I know what clean smells like. Flowers and fields and bunnies. I'm going to assume that "not clean" smells like ass or jizz or slut sweat. If that's the case, wouldn't you give a quick ring to housekeeping?

And why didn't she call to complain about the absence of soap and towels? This to me is proof of neglect. Those children in Granny's care were left unwashed for an evening, or forced to bathe, soapless, and then air dry, which could certainly get them sick any way. At this rate, I'm wondering if the Grandma maybe traipsed this filthy rubber into the room, having picked it up earlier when she took her kids swimming in the local dump (it doesn't smell clean!)

And finally, I think it's quite convenient that Grandma awoke to find her grandson giving head to the condom. I ask you: how long was junior tongue-jabbing the jimmy wrapper? And there was still semen in it? He could have been slurping on that thing for hours. I also imagine that the intimate practice of used-condom-tasting is a silent one. Again, Granny's story falls short.

You know what I think? This is some sort of grand set up. Grandma trashed those sheets. She planted the condom and FORCED the kid to eat it. Now THAT is a horrifying scene. Like that lady who threw a cat in the garbage can this week. And shame on Fox for picking this story to be the first instance where they don't assume the worst of their subject, adding in vague yet accusatory statements like "some folks say the Grandma fed her grandson the condom because he had told her he supported Obamacare."

If you're going to make news of anything and everything, then let's be sure to treat it like news, Fox. Get that STD-infecting, not-clean-bed-sleeping, octogenarian geriatric monster on camera and force her to fess up. If we're going to decide, as you claim we have the choice to do, then get crackin' with the reporting.

Heeeeeeere's Herpes!
- J

Dental Damn.

Every Friday is Improv Friday at Said Panties. On Facebook, X and J take a poll of their friends for a topic (any topic) to write on. The most popular, ridiculous, or random is selected, and both X. and J must write about it. This week's topic, The Newsworthiness of Eating Used Condoms, "comes" from Michael Steinwand.

Here's something new: did you hear the one about the cum-guzzling toddler?

No, I'm not talking about the star of the underground porno Baby Facials 7. I'm referring to the grandson of one Ms. Carmen Jones, who was found snacking on a used prophylactic in their Atlanta motel room. The boy has had an outbreak of blisters and is being tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

This is pretty horrifying, and almost not funny.

I feel sorry for this kid - and his poor grandmother, who will never, ever be entrusted to take care of a minor again. Imagine, you're trying to do a sweet thing and take your grand-tot to Six Flags for a nice getaway. You intend to take your pride and joy on Superman's Ultimate Flight and to Bugs Bunny's Carrot Patch.

But instead, you inadvertently take him on some Two Dolla' Tranny's Gonorrhea-Go-Round, and then straight to the nearest Planned Parenthood.

Some grandmothers get chewed out for buying their little darlings too many toys or letting them have cookies before dinner, which, at worst, might make them fat and greedy. Grandma Jones, on the other hand, has let Junior play with something kids nowadays don't encounter until they're at least nine or ten, and the consequences are far greater. Suddenly, those warnings not to let the boy snack on unhealthy items all weekend take on a whole new meaning. Hot dogs and churros are looking pretty nutritious now, aren't they, Mom? When compared to the herpes-riddled ejaculate your boy has been slurping. Spoil-weekend with Grammma FAIL.

Given the boy's outbreak of blisters, prognosis is not looking good. Luckily, HIV is not known to survive outside the body for very long, but that doesn't mean feasting on a stranger's discarded baby-making fluid can't do damage. What are the odds that this condom contained at least one STD? I don't have a great deal of faith in people who have sex in motel rooms, especially those who are too lazy to throw out their used condoms when they are done. (I suppose it's heartening that they used protection at all, but this is probably only because they were committing adultery. Who else goes to a motel?) Maids must find several dozen of these critters in beds, on the floor, and stuck between the pages of that complimentary Bible every day. They must wonder why guests are unable to dispose of such waste themselves. Throwing away your own used condom is a minor inconvenience; throwing away someone else's used condom can be a traumatizing, life-altering experience. Note to all human beings forever: please discard your contraceptives after utilizing them.

I really wish someone had captured this moment of discovery to put on YouTube - although, I don't know. Would that qualify as kiddie porn? I've already probably been flagged by the FBI for the combination of words used in this entry.

This highlights another point, which is that kids are dumb. I know the boy was only four years old and should probably get a pass, but come on! I'd like to think that, even at the tender age of four, if I had found a balloon in my bed that had a slightly musky odor and was filled with a mysterious milky ooze, I would have had the good sense not to try and inflate that balloon. I have it on good authority that condoms are not tasty (well, unless they're flavored - but who really uses those, besides junior high school girls counting calories?). So why Junior had his tongue all in and out of this soiled rubber, I'll never know. Still, no four year old who only wanted to blow up a balloon should be punished by watching his own face blow up...with herpes. It'll be rough being the only kid in kindergarten with a sexually transmitted disease - you know, the one kid to whom "Ew, boy cooties!" actually applies.

Any bets on what the kids on the playground will nickname this poor schmo?

"Jizz Kid?"

"Mister Blister?"

"Spunk-Face Jones?" 

I know. Sad, isn't it? Kids can be so cruel.

And what of the fact that this item is reported as "news"? Clearly the sensationalism of the piece trumps any pretense that this information is being shared for the good of the people. This item could not be any more salacious and gossipy if the article read, "OMG! OMG! OMFG! A little boy had a used condom in his mouth, you guys! It had spooge in it and now he has blisters! Ewwwww!!!!" Who are we kidding? This is exactly the sort of story people email to their friends and laugh uproariously at, then pause for a second and make a sad face and say, "But it is kind of sad, though," to be clear that they are not a monstrous human being incapable of empathy for children who make unfortunate mistakes involving a stranger's semen. And then resume laughing. Few things in this world are truly shocking anymore, but a doe-eyed moppet ingesting a load of stale man-milk and breaking out into sores still raises some eyebrows. This makes me feel like there's still hope for America.

Is this story newsworthy? I'd say so. Grandmothers everywhere will be checking the sheets more carefully before tucking in Junior. Nobody wants to be "that Nana." Motels will be more diligent in making sure post-coital love gloves are removed before opening the room up for a sweet old lady and her precious tyke in tow. And maybe, just maybe, unfaithful spouses will take that extra thirty seconds before showering off from that "workout" at the "gym" to dispose of their seed, thinking, "Wouldn't it be terrible if a four year old rented this room before it was cleaned, found this condom, and put it in his mouth, prematurely contracting the herpes simplex virus that I am myself am currently unaware I carry, but will soon face the consequences of when this very STD alerts my wife that I'm cheating on her?"

Why yes, Unfaithful Spouse, it would be terrible.

Just ask Spooge-Face Jones.

Ribbed for her pleasure,


Thursday, August 26, 2010

When You're A Stranger.


I, like J, have never been on Chatroulette. This is because I take great care to avoid ever coming face-to-face with your average American. Especially those with enough free time on their hands to spend hours webcamming with strangers.

Most of what I know about modern-day human beings, I know from Starbucks. Starbucks collects a smattering of life forms. Once upon a time, Starbucks was considered a white upper middle class cliche. But not anymore. Now it attracts people in every age bracket and social class, of every creed and color. And an awful lot of schizophrenics. Why, just today, in the very seat I am sitting in now, there was man obsessively cleaning his glasses and cell phone with a little vial of fluid, then arranging them neatly, only to resume cleaning them immediately after getting them just so. Somebody get this guy a venti soy Zoloft Frappuccino pronto!

So it follows that my only experience with Chatroulette is seeing people on it at Starbucks. Yes, at Starbucks. Because people often seem to confuse Starbucks with their own living room, behaving in ways that are really only appropriate in the privacy of your own home. This includes taking your shoes off, feeling up your girlfriend, and trolling hookup websites for hours on end. About the only thing I haven't seen someone do at a Starbucks is play Russian roulette, but I assume it's only a matter of time.

The "brilliant" feature of Chatroulette is that you can do anything, and with the click of a button, vanish, never to be seen by the person on the other end again.
I believe it is still illegal to flash your penis to a stranger on the street and then run away, but for some reason this cyber-equivalent is perfectly acceptable. It's the "ring your neighbor's door bell and then hide in the bushes giggling" for the 21st century.

And I thought technology was suppose to advance us? Talk about adding a new meaning to "Ding Dong Ditch."

The "supposed" function of Chatroulette, I'm guessing, is friendship and perhaps even romance. It harkens back to the chat rooms of the 90's, when the people we spoke to online would generally be total strangers who live hundreds of miles away. In the years since, with the advent of Myspace and Facebook and the like, that style of chatting had all but gone out the window, until someone thought to combine this with webcams.

Now, I know not everyone uses webcams for erotic purposes, but I can't help but associate them with naughtiness. It's always disturbing to me when a family member or other person I don't want to think about naked mentions using one, even though I know (assume) there was no X-rated activity involved. In college, my mom offered to buy me a webcam so she could see me while we talked on the phone. I flatly refused, as if my mother suggested I host a meth-fueled "golden showers" party in my dorm room. I'm sure there are some people in this world who would use a webcam completely innocently, but these are not the kinds of people I consort with.

So inevitably Chatroulette was going to be about T & A. Well, T & A & D & P. If there's one thing your average American is good at, it's wasting time. If there's another thing, it's shameless narcissism. Chatroulette combines both of these American pastimes, like apple pie smeared on a baseball. And as if the people you meet on the internet are not fickle enough, Chatroulette allows you to just...disappear. Craiglist is full of Missed Connections like this one nowadays, with people who feel they have really, truly bonded with you and your naked appendages over the past twenty minutes and now are left with no way to contact you.

In fact, it feels like the main reason for Chatroulette's inception is so that Hollywood can produce a gimmicky movie about it, the way they try and do with every new technology. Imagine the possibilities:

1) CHATROULETTE: THE HORROR MOVIE - A Rear Window for 2010 in which someone witnesses a murder on Chatroulette, but no one believes him.

2) CHATROULETTE: THE ROMCOM - A woman finds the love of her life on Chatroulette. He has a beagle. But - oh no! - Chatroulette "automatically nexts" them before they have exchanged the proper information! She must track him down using what little she knows about him: his location, his taste in decoration, what his penis looks like, and the name of his lovable beagle.

3) CHATROULETTE: THE INDIE DRAMA - A young girl encounters herself on Chatorulette - or, rather, the long-lost identical twin she never knew she had. They go on a road trip of self-discovery together, come of age, and encounter lots and lots of quirky people along the way. But - uh oh! - her twin secretly only has six months to live.

4) CHATROULETTE: IN 3D - You haven't had this many strange breasts and unfamiliar penises flying at your face since last Cinco de Mayo!

Perhaps someday, if I'm bored enough and possess a webcam, I will check out Chatroulette myself. Until then, I suppose I'll just have to see an unattractive stranger's body parts the old-fashioned way: by waiting for that guy in the trenchcoat who frequents the local playground.

Press "next" to find new person,


Thrustin' Roulette

Hi, I'm J. And I've never been on Chatroulette. But chances are that you have. Or, if you haven't, you've been on at least one of its ten million imitation wannabe competitors.

And I guess my biggest question is: why? Why on earth would you ever go on Chatroulette? And why is it so damn popular? So widely used that everyone needs to imitate and launch a million more websites like it?

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, the conceit is a simple one to grasp: Chatroulette is a randomized webcam site. As in you sign on, fire up your web cam, and two screens and a chatroom appear, in one screen is your poorly lit face, in the other: a random stranger.

Of course, a person is not always what you will find in that other screen. From what I understand, more often than not you will find a penis. Or a person dressed up like a tiger. Or a person dressed up like a penis. Or (if you're lucky), Ben Folds singing you a song with a crowd of thousands cheering behind him.

Okay, so that last one is pretty awesome. I might go on Chatroulette, digging through penises and furries and Alaskans with ukuleles, in the hopes of coming across Ben Folds serenading me. (Though, his observational song might be something like: "Hey guy, why are your eyes bleeding? Why do you look like you've observed something terrifying? Oh guy, don't cry. No, don't put your eyes out with that letter opener...")

Even the name, Chatroulette, I contend with. Because, in roulette, you are hoping to win and, while you might not win, the punishment is merely loss of money. Imagine if playing Roulette in Atlantic City had the same consequences of Chatroulette. "Sorry kid, double zeros! Now please sit here while this 80-year old man in grease paint and a pair of torn bicycle shorts straddles your face!" Would people still play? Well, some might. The same people who go on Chatroulette.

I suppose Chatroulette is more akin to Russian Roulette: the game played only in James Bond movies. In case you don't know what Russian Roulette is, it involves passing around a gun with one bullet inside and everyone takes turns sticking it in their mouth and pulling the trigger. If you lose this game, you die. Winning is exciting in that you're not dead, but losing really sucks. Problem is, using this analogy, Chatroulette would be like a gun with five thousand bullets loaded in it, and you're playing by yourself, continually shooting yourself in the face.

Then again, I might sooner play Russian Roulette than go on Chatroulette.

So I wonder: what is it that people love about Chatroulette? Is it the fact that you never know what type of penis will appear on your screen? Is it like the excitement of opening a box of Cracker Jacks, only to find that it is filled with odd people (and their penises) you'd never want to know in real life?

Or maybe it's like going to the monkey cage at the zoo. You can walk up to the bars and watch them scratch themselves, smear poo on each other, and do vaguely almost-human things, all while knowing that you're safe from their grasp. On Chatroulette, all of the exhibitionist weirdos in the world are the fecal flinging monkeys, and yet they can never grab you, mangle your face, and drag your cadaver around their cages. You are safe. And if anyone gets too creepy, you can always skip to the next crazy stranger.

Either way, Chatroulette is so hot right now, and so everyone is copying it. There is a Chatroulette for stoned people (penises and canabis). There are tons for gay people (penises and... more penises). I'm sure there's a Catroulette and a Ratroulette and a Drat! roulette (no penises, and it never works). Because when I'm looking to be flashed by someone, I want to decide what TYPE of wacko is flashing me, god dammit!

This is silly, and very, very stupid. Because Chatroulette is a bad enough idea already. We don't need five million more bad ideas flying around, further splitting and dividing the nice solid group of weirdos we've safely confined to Chatroulette. It's better that we keep them all in one place, so we can better observe them and determine how they can be defeated.

The disagreement between myself and technological trends is not something new. FourSquare, to me, seems like the most useless social media tool in the world. I have no interest in knowing that you have just re-captured the mayorship of your bathtub, or that you just checked in at the laundromat to find the sock you left behind. But clearly others think it's important that all of their friends know that they've stopped by the card store on their way home. And they REALLY want to earn that "nickel off a beer" you get by being the mayor of that bar they don't really like.

Not every tech trend is terrible, though. At least in Twitter you have to give some editorial or insight ("At the laundromat, saw a random penis! Sooo chatroulette up in here"). I dig Twitter. I get Twitter. And Facebook. And Blogs. Even Tumblr. All of these things make sense in some way. But FourSquare? Or Chatroulette? No. Those make no sense whatsoever. They are testament to our society and generation's sudden need to over-broadcast, letting people know where we are, how often we've been there, and making sure that every random stranger gets to see our penis.

Unfortunately, it seems like the Internet doesn't follow Darwinian logic. If Chatroulette were a living creature, it would be weighted to the ground by all of its exposed genitalia and would drown when the first Ice Age hit. But because of the democratic nature of the Web, and the fact that there are tons of people sitting around bored with un-noticed penises all day with nothing to do, I am pretty sure that Chatroulette and its ilk will be sticking around for a long, long time.

And if that's the case, perhaps I should just jump on the trend, do some quick manscaping, and start broadcasting my goods to the people. Perhaps it is my duty. Does anyone know where I can buy a grizzly bear costume?

Ra-Ra-Ra-Ra-Roulettes Face,

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Exes of Evil.


Watching Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is like watching Juno on speed and ecstasy. And by that, I mean the character Juno is on speed, and you're watching the movie on ecstasy. The hipster slang comes out flying with a vengeance, although in the heightened reality of this movie, it makes a lot more sense. In some ways like a cartoon, in some ways like a video game, Scott Pilgrim evokes a level of geekiness heretofore unseen in cinema. Game on.

My own experience with video games is basically limited to those with the word "Mario" in the title. Nintendo 64 was as advanced as I got before I outgrew such things. Still, I can fully appreciate the references, since they are mostly throwbacks to the arcade-style games of the 80's and 90's. When Scott defeats an enemy, coins spill, giving him points. At one point, he literally "gets a life."

The story concerns Scott Pilgrim, a member of the rock band Sex Bob-Omb, who is dating a Chinese schoolgirl named Knives Chau. (Despite the sharp imagery, Knives is by far the sweetest character in this movie.) Then he spots Ramona Flowers, who in true hipster movie fashion, dyes her hair alternating bright colors, signaling that she is rebellious and deep and the love of the protagonist's life. Obviously. The romance is essentially an early 20's clone of Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, complete with a surreal snowy location where they hit it off. The connection between them isn't nearly as affecting as it was between Joel and Clementine, but that might be because we still have Seven Evil Exes to worry about.

Yes, Scott is duly informed that he must fight against seven of Ramona's former flames who have ganged up to take down her new beau, including her experiment with bisexuality and a pair of Japanese twins. (That also leaves a movie star, a music producer, a Vegan rock star, and a mascara-loving weirdo who does a Bollywood number accompanied by a fanged harlot backup dancers.) Luckily, nerdy little Scott is quite the Jackie Chan when the situation calls for it, though to defeat a couple of them he also resorts to mind games and outsmarting them. This is possible because almost of Ramona's exes are dumb; they all seem gay, with the possible exception of the lesbian. But it's not like Michael Cera is Butch Cassidy, exactly, either, so I guess the girl has a type: effeminate and evil.

That any of this works at all is a testament to director Edgar Wright, who skillfully keeps the tone light and playful while managing to tell a mostly coherent story. (It never makes an attempt to follow real world logic or "make sense," and is probably all the better for it.) What really grounds the film is the inherent metaphor - a person brings baggage from previous relationships to any new ones, and that is something they must overcome in order to make it work. Scott's exes also figure into the mix: Knives Chau attempts to take out Ramona, and Scott's sexy bitch of an ex-girlfriend (now a rock star) is dating one of Ramona's exes. Even in this completely absurd Donkey Kong-level of reality, the film gets on thing right: the he-likes-her-but-she's-with-him-who-used-to-date-me messiness and complexity of modern love.

I had a lot of fun at Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. The movie is consistently funny, with a slew of talented performers like Anna Kendrick, Chris Evans, and Brandon Routh popping up briefly (and hilariously). Michael Cera more than holds his own with excellent comic timing and delivery, but the real scene-stealer is Ellen Wong as Knives Chau, who is totally over the top as Sex Bob-Omb's rather clueless lovelorn groupie (while still reminding us of actual girls we knew in high school). She could have her own movie.

There are, of course, a few drawbacks: toward the end, the fight scenes get a bit overlong and repetitive; the one with the Japanese twins especially feels rushed and inconsequential. And there are moment when I wished the manic pace of the movie might slow down and give way to a bit more gravity and character development, if only to make the stakes of those fight scenes greater. I also found the depiction of gay characters in the film disappointing. Scott has an unusual relationship with his gay roommate, Wallace: they share a bed and Wallace reports everything Scott does to his sister Stacey (Anna Kendrick) in record time. This is quite funny, but then there are several unnecessary developments with Wallace sleeping with Stacey's boyfriend, then sleeping with Stacey's boyfriend and his own boyfriend, then sleeping with someone totally random. These are all played for cheap laughs, and I can't say they don't stem from a certain truth, but they felt out of place in this movie.

Sure, the movie pokes fun at a lot of stereotypes, from hipsters to vegans to Chinese schoolgirls - you can't take much of it seriously. But I wish the film had at least focused its gay caricature around one trait: here the gay character is a gossip and unfaithful and a shameless flirt and disloyal to his friend Scott and promiscuous. It's a bit much, especially in a film that gives the other (non-evil) characters heart to go along with the kooky storylines.

But that aside, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is decidedly one of the most clever films you'll see this year. It's practically dripping with fun. And perhaps I even enjoyed it more than most, for if ever there were a movie tailor-made for me, it is a movie about a League of Evil Exes teaming up and then getting the shit beaten out of them. Like Ramona, I have also found that my past relationships tend to come back to haunt me, sometimes by joining forces.

This may just be a fact of life, and I suppose there's something to be said for time healing all wounds. I've done the mature thing and let bygones be bygones, plenty of times. I've moved on like an adult. But wouldn't it be better if we could just kick their asses?

I, for one, think we'd all be a little happier if, after a bad breakup, we just have at it, Mortal Kombat-style. A fight to the finish. Five minutes and you're done. That's one way to get over your ex - stab him through the heart with a flaming sword, and he explodes into money. Then you not only vanquish your evil ex-boyfriend and earn the freedom to begin a new relationship, you also get quarters for laundry. Bonus!

Wouldn't that be so much faster and more efficient than yoga, drinking alone, sleeping around, crying yourself to sleep, making voodoo dolls, and countless hours of therapy?

Your princess is in another castle,