Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dylan Goes iTunes ...

I don't whether this is the end of the world, or the beginning ...

Read more by clicking the subject line.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pluto voted off of the solar system island ...

Well, not exactly, but it sure seems like that after the International Astronomical Union - wow, just imagine the keggers those guys have - finally determined, after a long and acrimonious meeting in Prague, that Pluto, the icy sphere that has been considered the ninth planet in our solar system for more than 75 years, really doesn't deserve to be called a planet in the "classical" sense. In short, Pluto was bringing down the value of the neighborhood, so it is has been relegated to the ghetto of the land of "dwarf planets."

Pluto's major crime? It didn't help that its orbit isn't totally smooth, that its elliptical path around the sun overlaps with that of Planet Number Eight, Neptune. (In fact, from 1979 to 1999, Pluto was the eighth farthest "planet" from the sun because of that wacky orbit. Hope Plutonians enjoyed that brush with fame.) The official term being used by the IAU is actually "clearing the neighborhood" - really technical, guys.

Besides, stats prove that Pluto is a horrible place to raise children. You know - rampant crime, unattractive environments, average temperature of -387.4 degrees Fahrenheit. That's not exactly Vegas, guys.

So woe for fans of Pluto. Once again, the little guys get the shaft. Residents of Pluto probably will file a protest, but since they do have about 3.5 billion miles to travel to the meet with the IAU, this could take a while.

NOTE: One member of the IAU mentioned that few people would be "excited" by this decision, yet the organization's Web site was down when I just checked, apparently overwhelmed by that teeny level of excitement.

NOTE 2: Some may ask, if Pluto gets ejected from the planetary club because its orbit crosses that of Neptune's, then why isn't Neptune out? Apparently they wrote a footnote for Neptune dismissing that problem. So how does Neptune get out of that mess? Maybe they have photos of some of the more prominent IAU members playing with Uranus! [rimshot]

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Snakes in a ... well, guess

You had to know this was coming ...

From a news Web site in, of all places, central Florida, where you know something like this would happen:

Two live diamondback rattlesnakes were released in an Arizona movie theater during a showing of the new film "Snakes on a Plane" ...

Authorities said pranksters released the young venomous rattlesnakes in a dark theater at the AMC Desert Ridge near Tatum and Loop 101 in Phoenix.

The two snakes caused a panic in the dark theater, according to the report.

"That to me is very scary," herpetological association representative Tom Whiting said. "I would hate to be watching a movie about snakes and have a rattlesnake bite me."

Wranglers were called to collect the snakes, the report said.

No one was injured in the incident and, so far, the culprits have not been caught.

Officials believe the snakes were smuggled into the theater in backpacks.

"This thing is under someone's chair and they go to sit and they just push your foot in the air and startle it -- obviously all they got to do is startle this thing," Phoenix Herpetological Society spokesman Daniel Marchand said. "It's dark. They can't see you, you know that well. If it's scared, boom it strikes."

The snakes were released into the desert.

I supposed in a day in which every other movie starring a rapper as a cop or a robber or something in between is greeted with at least one report about some "prankster" bringing a loaded weapon into a theater, this thing was a no-brainer. But then, how come this crap doesn't happen whenever there's a film about vampires? Where are the rattlesnakes then, eh?

Click the subject line for what I'm sure is some dazzling video.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Well, THAT was interesting ...

Last night, I was seen by a couple million people or so shilling for my new Snakes on a Plane book on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann. It was quite the odd experience for someone who hadn't been on television since he was 17, and that was when I was the captain of my high school's academic team, and it's not that difficult to forget that there's a camera capturing your every move when you're trying to remember who was the President when the League of Nations was formed. This was something new and different, and an eye-opener for a guy who covers TV for a living, I must say. But rather than get long-winded, I thought I would tell this story in picture form. So, here we go!

This is the Lincoln Town Car that MSNBC sent to pick me up. Yeah, just like Herbie Stempel in Quiz Show, only without the NBC logo on the side. Fancy! The car even came with its own driver, Rich, which is good, 'cause I don't know how to drive. Rich was really cool - he knew how to get to the studio without any help.

This is Pacific Television Center, the West L.A. facility where I did my spot. I though they were going to take me to Burbank, but this was much more convenient to my location. Besides, there would be no place for Rich to park there since Leno hogs the parking lot with his 25 cars.

This is Patty, the women charged with the most difficult of tasks - to make me presentable for the air. I'd never had makeup applied to me before, and I can't say I was looking forward to it. But Patty was very gentle with me, and I didn't sneeze once during the process.

Note the protruding bald head, by the way ... scary!

This is the "green room," which of course isn't really green. It's weird to watch a show that you're going to be on actually in progress, especially when they promote your upcoming appearance. It really gives you a lot to think about.


Finally, about 10 minutes before I went on the air, they called me into the actual studio, which is a fairly small room with a chair and a camera directly in front. Here one of the techs is preparing to wire me for sound, as it were. Notice the green wall behind, which was magically transformed into a nightscape, something I didn't even realize until it was all over, distracted as I was.

"Pay no attention to the person behind the black man ..."

This is what I saw directly ahead - a monitor of just me (which I had them turn off because it was way too distracting), a monitor that shows the actual broadcast (which was about 30 seconds behind what the actual interview) and the camera. Note the smiley face below the lens; that's what I was supposed to focus on while I was on the air.

Oh, and this may be a good time to note that Keith Olbermann, who is a SoaP fanatic, was actually off last night. I was interviewed by Brian Unger, whom I believe used to be on The Daily Show. I coped. :)

Patty does a final touch-up ...

I'm all ready to go. Slightly terrified, but ready to go ...

And ... and then I went on. The consensus seems to be that I didn't screw up. If you want to see me in action - and you have a PC with the proper equipment (no Macs allowed, sadly) - you can click on the headline to go to the Countdown page, where there have a link to my interview. But I lived. And as you can see below, I was very, very relieved to have done my thing without saying anything stupid. And on Monday - Geraldo!

A big thanks to my friend Anne, who was my support system and chief photographer for this mission ...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Perspective ...


It's true what they say when they say that friends are the most valuable commodity that a person can have.

True friends are always there for you. They cheer you up when you're down, they pat you on the back when you've achieved something, and they snap you back to reality when your head grows too large for the rest of your body and soul.

I just experienced the last part of that equation, in a subtle but valuable way, thanks to one of my best friends in the world, the lovely and fair Beth.

Beth has been my friend for several years now. She was a co-worker at a previous job, and when that gig went away for both of us, we actually grew closer. Thanks to the companion known as unlimited long distance, we speak on the phone nearly every day, often multiple times, as well as e-mail and the occasional instant messaging. Hopefully some of you have checked out her own blog, which is bookmarked on the right side of this one.

Beth is really an extraordinary woman. She's a great writer, a good singer, an excellent cook and baker. (Brownies - mmmm.) And she's also a good bullshit detector. And I had told her when I started with the Snakes on a Plane book to keep me honest, to make sure that any part of the process didn't go to my head.

And today, it kind of did.

Today, believe it or not, I shot a story about me and my book for Geraldo Rivera's syndicated show, Geraldo at Large. (I know, I know. But it was interesting to see how such spots are put together.) The story will be on Monday - check local listings. But the point of this is that when I got home, I called Beth to tell her about it, since she works out of her place like me and thus is usually more readily available for impromptu conversations than some of my other, office-bound chums. And after telling her my tale, I threw this in: "I hope nothing happens in the world that would bump me out of the show."

What did I say, Beth asked. And, like a lummox, I repeated what I had just said. And then I knew what I had done.

There is a lot going on in the world today, something I don't have to tell you guys. And most of it is far more important than Snakes on a Plane or the book that I wrote about the response to the movie. Sure, films like this are, at their best, necessary diversions from the seriousness of the news. But that's all they are, diversions. And for me to put myself above Iraq or Israel or the oil prices or even the JonBenet Ramsey story - yeah, that was a bit much. And Beth said so in a way that was not scornful or mean, but nevertheless hit the nail on the head.

So I may get bumped on Monday if the world blows up or something. It won't be the end of the world. Well, it may be, but you get the picture. So Beth did her due diligence as a friend, which is precisely why she's my friend. That, and the brownies.

P.S. If the spirit moves you, donate some legal tender to Beth's 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk, the link to which can be found on her own blog site. She does it every year, it's a really good cause, and she is quite the good egg.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A quick thought about JonBenet Ramsey

Now that an actual suspect has been arrested in the murder of JonBenet Ramsey nearly 10 years after her slaying, and it appears to be the guy, I wonder if all of the people who publicly accused John and Patsy Ramsey of killing their 6-year-old daughter will have the balls to go up to John - and to go Patsy's grave - to apologize to them personally.

Just a thought.


And now, a word about women. I love them. Just about all of them, with one or two exceptions (cough-Ann Coulter!-cough), but like most men or gay women, I do have my preferences. They aren't dealbreakers, but they're my things, and that's part of the tapestry that makes this planet so cool, or maybe so frustrating to the point of deadly warfare. Maybe it's somewhere in between.

One of those preferences is size. I prefer women who are curvy. This is not to say that I would turn my head away from a thin woman, but a lot depends on how thin she is. If she's, say, Sarah Jessica Parker thin, where there's some tone to her frame, that works. If she's Nicole Richie thin, then it's a no-go situation. If I'm with a woman in bed, I'd rather not slide off of her during the intimate moment. So you can guess that I'm not a big proponent of the trend that never ends, the Hollywood starlets that think that the best way to show off, to get that big part or that hot guy, is to have the figure of a 12-year-old emaciated boy from the Sudan.

So on the one end, I'm happy to see an article by Holly Millea in Details magazine about the revival of the curvy, healthy Hollywood babe in the forms of such actresses as Scarlett Johansson and Evangeline Lilly, not to mention "old" stalwarts such as Kate Winslet, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Drew Barrymore. What I am not happy about at all is the supplements the Details editors felt the need to add to Millea's piece to make it - oh, I don't know - punchier? Was it really necessary to use a headline such as "Why Fat Is Back in Hollywood"? Since when is Scarlett Johansson "fat"? This country has a serious, real problem with obesity, but it's not a solution to slap that label, however indirectly, on Liv Tyler or Katherine Heigl? And how clever is it to begin an online slideshow of famed voluptuous women with a shot of a pig wearing glittery high heels?

By invoking this tasteless imagery, the Details folks have dropped the ball. Millea's curve-positive article, standing alone, could have been a celebration of the notion that a woman doesn't have to starve herself to be sexy and desirable, in Hollywood or otherwise. Instead the editors went for the cheap thrill in an effort to be funny or cute. All they are, apparently, are idiots. We know where their bread is buttered now.

Click on the subject line to read Millea's article. It may help to use the printer-friendly version.

Monday, August 14, 2006

He's still dead!

These photos of Castro and Hugh Chavez prove nothing - except, perhaps, that they are about to be wed. But would Chavez marry a corpse? Maybe - he's a bit of an odd duck, no?

Look, they match!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

He's dead!

Fidel Castro is dead. How he died, how long he has been dead - no one knows that except the powers that be in Cuba. But ever since they announced last week that he was relinquising power temporarily because of intestinal surgery, I had a feeling that there was more going on than meets the eye. This has all of the signs of what went on in the days of the Soviet Union when one of those old coots in charge would disappear for weeks or months on end, they would say that the codger had a head cold, and next thing you know, they're having his funeral. Since Cuba is the closest thing we have to a Soviet-like system, why wouldn't they do the same thing when their leader gets sick or worse?

And now today, the authorities in Havana have released some photos of their fearless leader to prove that he is still with us. One of them has Castro holding up a newspaper allegedly from today. See, this proves to me that Fidel is wormmeat. To have hom hold up a current newspaper as if he was a hostage or something - no, this has Photoshop written all over it.

Mark my words - in a month, they'll make the announcement. Relapse, they'll call it. But Fidel's in a freezer somewhere.

Snakes on My Blog!

Blogs. Wow, they are pesky things.

They are pesky because once you start one, there are those who, you know, feel that you have an obligation to update it on a regular basis. And that's not as easy as it sounds.

My dear friend Beth has a blog; it's bookmarked to your right (donate to her breast cancer walk!). She managed to blog about something at least once a day. It may be a review of a DVD she just saw or a musing about the state of the world, or even something as silly as an update on her hair. But she sticks with it. Considering she's a writer by trade, and that she's good at what she does, that's not that surprising. But I'm a writer by trade, and I've been told that I'm pretty good at what I do, and yet I've dong exactly one posting in the past two months. The spiders who have spun cobwebs on this blog are going to be pissed that there's disruption going on.

So what's my excuse?

Well, I have been busy, you know, writing my first book and seeing it actually published for consumption by the public. You can see the book pictured to your left, along with the curious face of the author. The book is called Snakes on a Plane: The Guide to the Internet Ssssssensation.

No, really, it is. Can't you see the cover?

It's a long story to explain what it's about and how it happened. Suffice it to say that there is a movie that's about to be released called Snakes on a Plane. It is about ... well, snakes on a plane - more specifically, the crate of poisonous snakes that has been smuggled onto a jet plane going from Hawaii to Los Angeles. The plane that is carrying a witness to the murder trial of a notorious crime lord, with federal agent Samuel L. Jackson covering his ass. The snakes are there to kill everyone on the plane, especially the witness, with no fingerprints from the crime lord remaining. Well, Mr. Jackson gets wind of the plot, and then everyone else did, which explains the flood of SoaP material that has turned up on the Internet, created not by a marketing department but rather by ordinary people with vivid imaginations about what they want this movie to be.

In fact, the fan reaction became so rabid that New Line did the only sensible thing they could - they got out of everyone's way. In the past, other studios have become very protective of their intellectual material, often showering industrious online fans of their projects with cease-and-desist orders to remove any material that comes to close to comfort in their eyes. But New Line went the other way. In fact, they went so far to authorize five days of reshoots back in March based mostly on the ideas of the fans. The result should be a gorier, sexier and much more profane SoaP than the studio was planning for. Soon after than, New Line coordinated a contest to pick an up-and-coming musical act to contribute a song to the SoaP soundtrack. And the official Web page now includes images and mini-apps that people can use for their own sites.

And now, a book about the phenomenon that has been thrust upon us by SoaP. It wasn't my idea. An agent called me out of the blue in early April, had an idea that a book about this would be a big success. I agreed, especially after a cursory review of the stuff that was out there. And so I wrote the proposal for the book, then it sold, then I had basically the month of June to churn out a 96-page manuscript, complete with the images that would accompany the text. That meant a lot of interviews, a lot of transcription, a lot of everything except for sleep and healthy eating.

And the result? Hopefully not only a compendium of the best, brightest and oddest that is out then in terms of SoaP fandom, but also an examination of how a simple, silly movie can motivate so many to put their own brains to the grindstone to produce thins such as a movie short or a song, or a poem or a children's story, or a line of T-shirts. You don't see anyone doing this for Mission: Impossible III now, do you? This is heady stuff we're dealing with here. And by this time next week, we should know how ultimately effective it all was. Personally, I'll be surprised if SoaP makes less than $40 million for its opening weekend. And the worse it is, the better. Just as long as it's not boring.

So that is primarily where I have been for so long. The book kind of took over my life, and it's still there. Because now comes the publicity. Actually, it's been going on for a while. Already I've been interviewed by E! Online, Reuters, The Christian Science Monitor and the Toronto Star. Entertainment Weekly quoted me in their big SoaP cover story last week. And in about five minutes I do the first of several radio interviews set for this week, which is the big push for the book. Oh, and I'm going to be on TV with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC on Wednesday. Olbermann has been a big fan of the film for months now, so me being on with him is to be expected, I guess. This is all so weird for me. I hope I never get used to it.

By the way, if I get a big head about all of this, you'll let me know, right?


Buy my book! :)


Barnes & Noble

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I knew it!

From CNN, regarding today's foiled terrorist plot:

Plotters were to carry a "British version of Gatorade," detonate it with iPod or cell phone, source says ...

You see. I knew that crap would be the end of us someday! Ick!

And don't even get me started on what a British version of that stuff must taste like. Probaby makes Red Bull taste like pure heaven.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cobwebs and dust bunnies ...

Pardon my deliquency when it comes to posting regularly here. I've got a reason, I promise - I've been writing a book, which is now available both in bookstores and online at Amazon and B& I promise I'll get back to writing here soon enough. For now, though, allow me to clean up a little bit ...