Disney has acquired the rights to film a new version of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” The film will be written and directed by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet.
Just a guess: There will be a lot more cursing in this version of Anne Frank than there was in the actual diary.
Hard to top this one. Nice going YouTube's barringer82.
A little something for everyone.
(HT: Mrs. Zaius)
If you were a teen-ager during the 1980s and you hear that news and you didn't feel just a little twinge of sadness, well, you're not human.
Michael Jackson made us dance back then. But John Hughes provided the soul.
UPDATE: Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Here is a subject on which Joel and I can agree: Lauding the greatness of John Hughes. I'd forgotten (if I ever realized) that Hughes was also responsible for "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," a movie that always makes me laugh — especially this scene (WARNING: LOTS OF F-BOMBS that are essential for this hilarious scene).
Holy cow! Arlo Guthrie is a Republican!
Next time I'm down at Alice's Restaurant, I'll plan to have the home-made meatloaf. I understand it's actually a metaphor for capital gains tax cuts.
I didn't watch Sarah Palin's farewell address the other day, and, beyond a few reports about her parting shots at the media, read little about it. I didn't realize until I watched Conan O'Brien on Monday night that Palin wove a bit of poetry into her speech.
Reasonable people will disagree whether Palin has a future in national politics, but there can be no doubt that poetry jamming is best left to the professionals.
Sadly, this is probably the only way California's Democrats will listen to reason and cut the budget.
An honor that never went to The Simpsons. I believe South Park expressed my feelings about this:
We've added some spambot countermeasures to Infinite Monkeys because, frankly, I'm tired of deleting crap from the comment approval queue. The upshot is, if you haven't registered, you really should. (I'm looking at you, Christian Toto!)
No, I think of Flight of the Conchords. I know, I know: The New Zealand folk power-duo's international super-hit single is all about robots vanquishing humans. But did you hear that the defunct HBO series and co-star Jemaine Clement have been nominated for Emmys? How great is that? The humans are very much alive -- and 30 Rock will almost certainly dominate -- but I still think the news calls for a binary solo...
...for the truth! Or something like it. According to America's Finest News Source, "FBI director Robert S. Mueller III announced Monday that the entire manpower of his increasingly disillusioned agency has been diverted into a massive nationwide search for some semblance of genuine, concrete truth."
There's no comedy like pretentious, existentialist comedy!
I love this cutline on a picture of a couple of FBI agents: "The FBI's counterterrorism division has been reassigned to watch sunsets and listen to Pink Floyd."
Questions pondered in this podcast:
• How much music is it possible to listen to and still find songs and albums worth cherishing and listening to again?
• How much destructive power is William Shatner capable of?
• Hello, Lucille, are you a lesbian?
• Do heavy metal songs really sound better when covered by a band playing Moog synthesizers?
• Remember mixtapes?
• Are kids today losing anything by having the entire universe of music available at their fingertips?
• Is William Shatner actually awesome?
Music heard in this podcast (deep breath):
• "Just Give 'Em Whiskey," Colourbox.
• "Sex Gun," Colourbox.
• "Symphony No. 3: V. Lustig im Tempo und keck im Ausdruck," Gustav Mahler.
• "Theme From Cyrano/Mr. Tamborine Man," William Shatner.
• "Hello, Lucille, Are You A Lesbian?" T. Valentine.
• "Sweet Home Alabama," Moog Cookbook.
• "Hot Doggie," Colourbox.
• "Magic Johnson," Red Hot Chili Peppers.
• "Common People," William Shatner.
John Mellencamp is all about speaking truth to power when a mean old economic royalist occupies the White House. But as Pam Meister at Big Hollywood observes, put his guy in charge and all of a sudden he turns into a Herbert Marcuse acolyte.
Here's Mellencamp in an interview with Country Music Television on the First Amendment-as-collective right:
"I don’t think people fought and gave their lives so that some guy can sit in his bedroom and be mean. I don’t think that’s what freedom of speech is,” he continued. “Freedom of speech is really about assembly — for us to collectively have an idea. We want to get our point of view out so we can assemble and I can appoint you to be the spokesman. That’s freedom of speech — to be able to collectively speak for a sector of people. But somehow it’s turned into ‘I can be an a****** whenever I feel like, say whatever I like, be disrespectful to people and not be courteous.’ It’s not good for our society. Not being courteous is not really freedom of speech. . . .
There is a lot of discourteous speech out there, no question about it. (As an aside, but sort of on point: As much as I love the reader comments on newspaper sites, I wonder if the Wall Street Journal's recent decision to open its Web pages to reader comments will hurt the brand in some way over the long term. Look upon the comments to Peggy Noonan's column and despair.)
John Mellencamp is, of course, is free to say the stupidest things about what freedom of speech should or should not be. What I find funny is the presumptuousness of it all. Mellencamp clearly considers himself one of those appointed spokesmen. Oh, I suppose he speaks for a certain segment of the population with a certain point of view. But, like Professor Marcuse, he seems to have little or no regard for people speaking for what he would consider the repressive "status quo."
(In the Salon story I linked to above, he says: " most people who are Republicans, they're not rich enough to be Republicans! I don't get it." No, he doesn't.)
Freedom is simply too messy... too inequitable. For Mellencamp, in a perverse way it's pink houses for me but not for thee. Well, he can keep his pink house and his goofy, collective ideal of freedom. That ain't my America.
Update: Julie Ponzi at NoLeftTurns expounds cleverly on my comments. Key paragraph:
In Mellencamp’s America, the "home of the free" with its little pink houses would be for a freedom of speech that is more a kind of General Will voiced by the anointed tongues of a select group of American royalty. Jack and Diane needn’t trouble their little heads with worrying about the big questions. They can busy themselves with Diane’s Bobbie Brooks slacks till it "hurts so good," make a public spectacle of themselves while they’re at it, call THAT freedom of speech, and content themselves with their imagined moral courage. But if they dare to voice vigorous opposition to something like Cap and Trade and, in the course of that expression, utter an ungracious opinion about the anointed--an opinion that according to Mellencamp qualifies Jack and Diane as "a-holes" THAT will be too much because, "[n]ot being courteous is not really freedom of speech" according to the scholars at the Mellencamp School of the First Amendment.
Julie also makes some thoughtful points about civility in the public discourse. Please read the whole thing.
Out of respect for the recent demise of Michael Jackson, Robert McNamara and Sarah Palin's political career, I'm going to put my blogging on hold indefinitely. I firmly believe that the American people will emerge stronger from the loss of these eminent public figures. But for the time being, I believe that a retreat into solemn reflection, contemplation and prayer is the best way to move forward.
Competitive eating is serious business, certainly for the antacid industry. And on this Independence Day, all Americans can take pride in the fact that, Joey (Jaws) Chestnut was again crowned the champion in the Super Bowl of competitive eating events, the 94-year-old Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island. Yes. The mustard-yellow belt remains in America's hands!
"Jaws" also set a new world record, wolfing down 68 hot dogs (and their buns) in 10-minutes. Joey's arch rival, Takeru Kobayashi, was hoping to snatch back the crown from the United States. But the six-time hot dog eating champ from Japan fell short when he downed just 64 dogs.
Huzzah! And God Bless America.
The Stoning of Soraya M. is a "Schindler's List" for a new generation — a film that starkly exposes the brutality of a regime that is almost impossible for the modern Western mind to comprehend, but is true nonetheless. It won't be seen as that, I fear, by the elites in modern American culture.
If you read my review — which is more of a commentary on the larger issues the film raises than a critique — you'll see that my fears have largely been validated. I have some real problems with Roger Ebert's morally vapid review. Anyway, more excerpts:
If The Stoning of Soraya M. has one enduring message, it is that Iran under Sharia Law is as savage, brutal and unfree as any society in modern memory. And the fact that this is happening to women (and men) in Iran, even today, should be an international shame. These atrocities have to end. And it is perhaps divine providence that this film debuts in the same month that young Iranians are taking to the streets and enduring the bullets of their oppressors to topple their barbaric regime. ...
This movie is the most profoundly feminist film I've ever seen. Iranian-born actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her work in The House of Sand and Fog and gave an unforgettable turn in Season 4 of 24, should be nominated again for her performance in this film. The moral center of the film — expressing the shock, fear, outrage and heartbreak of the audience — she landed and delivered the performance of a lifetime for an actress. (She has also been an activist for women in Iran and defeating the Islamofascist regime, having escaped the country during the revolution).
Kindly read the whole thing, and feel free to leave comments both at The American Culture and here at Infinite Monkeys. Reading what Monkey friend Christian Toto has to say about this film is also highly recommended.
A sad, sad day. Billy Mays, a favorite son of my home town of McKees Rocks, PA, was found dead in his home today. The relentlessly cheerful pitchman with the unmistakable Pittsburgh accent is gone.
R.I.P., King of the Informercial.
From Fox News:
DEVELOPING: Television pitchman Billy Mays — who built his fame by appearing on commercials and infomercials promoting household products and gadgets — died Sunday, FOX News confirms.
Mays was found unresponsive by his wife inside his Tampa, Fla., home at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday, according to the Tampa Police Department.
Police said there were no signs of forced entry to May's residence and foul play is not suspected. Authorities said an autopsy should be complete by Monday afternoon.
Mays, 50, was on board a US Airways flight that blew out its front tires as it landed at a Tampa airport on Saturday, MyFOXTampa.com reported.
US Airways spokesman Jim Olson said that none of the 138 passengers and five crew members were injured in the incident, but several passengers reported having bumps and bruises, according to the station.
Authorities have not said whether Mays' death was related to the incident.
"Although Billy lived a public life, we don't anticipate making any public statements over the next couple of days. Our family asks that you respect our privacy during these difficult times," Mays wife, Deborah, said in a statement on Sunday.
Update: Here's Billy Mays, with this "Pitch Man" partner Anthony Sullivan, appearing on Conan O'Brien just last week:
Update: More from the AP:
His ubiquitousness and thumbs-up, in-your-face pitches won Mays plenty of fans. People line up at his personal appearances for autographed color glossies, and strangers stop him in airports to chat about the products.
"I enjoy what I do," Mays told The Associated Press in a 2002 interview. "I think it shows."
Mays liked to tell the story of giving bottles of OxiClean to the 300 guests at his wedding, and doing his ad spiel ("powered by the air we breathe!") on the dance floor at the reception. Visitors to his house typically got bottles of cleaner and housekeeping tips.
Discovery Channel spokeswoman Elizabeth Hillman released a statement Sunday extending sympathy to the Mays family.
"Everyone that knows him was aware of his larger-than-life personality, generosity and warmth," Hillman's statement said. "Billy was a pioneer in his field and helped many people fulfill their dreams. He will be greatly missed as a loyal and compassionate friend."
I'm indulging the grand Monkey Server at this point. But when I was about 12 or 13 years old, I wanted to be a drummer. That's because I listened to my older brother's Genesis albums — more specifically, Abacab.
Anyway, your humble Jr. Dr. Zaius was so inspired by Phil Collins' percussive prowess that he started working on it. Ended up having the chops to play in the hard-to-qualify-for University of Pittsburgh Drumline — affectionately called "The Crew."
Monkey readers with kids: Teach your kids to drum. They won't regret it. At the very least they will learn rhythm and transfer their knowledge from the hands to the feet and not embarrass themselves at weddings.
Anyway, before I reached high school, I had learned many Rush songs, and had worshiped at the Church of Neal Peart. But I always felt that Phil Collins was great at tuning his percussion in a soulful way with Genesis (with as much soul as you could inject percussively in "prog rock"). And, yes, I studied the great drummers who took part in the Buddy Rich tribute concerts. Studio legend Gregg Bissonette (who drummed for David Lee Roth's Eat 'Em Up and Smile record) was always a favorite. And all who were called to pay tribute to Buddy Rich are without peer.
But the following "Drum Duet" with Phil Collins and Chester Thompson? I must have listened and jammed to it a thousand times before I reached high school. It also came in handy as a lesson on how to feel the groove and play drums with others — and since I wasn't the strongest reader of music (I could get by, though), it came in handy when matching up with several others in the Pitt Drumline.
Monkey Ben, as a fellow drummer, I'm sure he can relate.
And, come to think of it, Bissonette's work is good enough to embed. More than good enough, in fact. He wears his Big Hair mullet not well with his tux. But his bass work is just sick.
While we're at it, here's the master, Buddy Rich — who makes me feel confident about sticking to "traditional grip" drumming as opposed to "match grip." I'm so glad I learned those Haskell Harr fundamentals!
George Harrison. Jeff Lynne. Phil Collins (and, I think, his excellent horn section) ... and is that Elton John on keyboards?
Oh, and Ringo's helping Phil out on drums, too.
Just because ... everyone needs a bit of George once in a while. And just because Dr. Zaius wants to lighten it up a bit around here (yeah, go figure). And, well, we all could use some happy sunshine ....
Do not click on this link if you've eaten shellfish or a sketchy hoagie. But for those of you who are strong of stomach, I present to you the latest from People Magazine, which is in a furious competition with Newsweek for the most embarrassingly slavish coverage of the Obama White House:
There's a new couple in the White House and seemingly overnight our nation's capital – a town known for filibusters, not fun – is suddenly a magnet for Hollywood starlets, reality TV shows and high-profile idealists wanting to get in on a little high-minded action. Here's a look at some of those beguiled by the Beltway ...
The article treats us to the "rumored" dating life of brilliant Obama speech writer Jon Favreau (no, not the talented Hollywood writer and director, but the guy who groped a Hillary cut-out) and Rashida Jones — C-list celebrity (former supporting player on The Office, daughter of Peggy Lipton and Quincy Jones, and currently playing in NBC's not-quite-funny-enough-yet Parks and Recreation). We're also hipped to the long-known fact that Kal Penn left House to join the Obama administration to be the "Asian outreach" pooh-bah ... or something.
Those are the highlights. Be sure to read the rest to be up to date with the rest of People Magazine's middling celebrity/entertainment EXCLUSIVE! that it has managed to scrounge up. Have we ever seen such coverage of a president, even from the checkout line — especially from what stares back at you when you're in the grocery store checkout line?
You want real Hollywood connections? Ronald Reagan had them — but they were a mark in the "he sucks" ledger. Bush, for what it's worth, had (mostly frightened) support in the entertainment industry. But everyone knows that country singers are soooo out of touch and lame ... unless they're the Dixie Chicks and hatin' on the current occupant of the White House.
I'll eat my greasy hoagie tomorrow. Don't have the stomach for it at the moment.
National Review Online features a symposium on the life and legacy of John Wayne, who died 30 years ago today. Included among the experts are novelist Andrew Klavan, Big Hollywood editor John Nolte, S.T. Karnick, and our own Dr. Zaius.
"The fact that the words 'John Wayne' are a slur of the Left, even today, is proof enough that he was a great American," Zaius writes. "Squinting across the plain, The Duke would surely drawl that a man’s character is defined as much by who chooses to be his enemy as by who chooses to be his friend."
Elsewhere in the same symposium comes this bit of provocation from Bill Kauffman, the self-described "front-porch anarchist" and "Little American," whose writings I always look forward to reading in the American Conservative:
His favorite actress, Maureen O’Hara, said as he lay dying, “John Wayne is not just an actor and a very fine actor. John Wayne is the United States of America.” Wrong. John Wayne was California: always moving, never stopping, drunk on booze and possibilities, a chickenhawk though a boon companion, unfaithful to his wives, and neglectful of his children but sincerely regretting it — yet at the same time Wayne created and inhabited the single most enduring and resonant screen presence in the history of American film. I love The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and The Shootist, but my favorite is True Grit, perhaps because of its source: the great novel of the same title by Charles Portis of Arkansas, one of America’s most underrated writers.
I wouldn't call myself a rabid Wayne fan, but I love "Liberty Valance," which includes one of the finest explanations of America's founding ever put on film.
John Ziegler has made his return to Los Angeles talk radio, and he got a good "get" on his second day Tuesday as a host from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on KGIL: Gov. Sarah Palin.
You can listen to Ziegler's interview with Gov. Palin here.
Near the end, Ziegler asked Gov. Palin how it's like when she "flies commercial." My sister-in-law works for Alaska Airlines and can vouch for how well she treats everyone who recognizes her when she travels.
Sarah Palin is (by all public accounts) a regular person, an outstanding governor, a great national political voice for less government in our lives (it's in the Alaska blood), and the target of the most vicious personal attacks on a politician in the shortest amount of time in our history. She gets it from all sides: The "comedians," the media, the political opposition, the bloggers, and even snobby Republicans.
Yet she handles it all with grace. She may not be the future of a Republican restoration, but the contenders could learn a lot from her.
Ronald Reagan died five years ago today. Most conservatives will remember where they were when they heard. Monkey Ben shared with me on Twitter a little while ago that he got a call at his son's second birthday party. I don't remember where I was when I heard the news, I must admit. But I do remember being on a dinner date with friends in Alexandria, Va., when Reagan's casket made it to his final resting place on June 11. I remember looking at the TV in a bar, the sun approaching the horizon of Pacific Ocean as the last of his eulogizers paid their respects.
Ronald Reagan also embodied another great cause - what Arnold Bennett once called 'the great cause of cheering us all up'. His politics had a freshness and optimism that won converts from every class and every nation - and ultimately from the very heart of the evil empire.
Yet his humour often had a purpose beyond humour. In the terrible hours after the attempt on his life, his easy jokes gave reassurance to an anxious world. They were evidence that in the aftermath of terror and in the midst of hysteria, one great heart at least remained sane and jocular. They were truly grace under pressure.
And perhaps they signified grace of a deeper kind. Ronnie himself certainly believed that he had been given back his life for a purpose. As he told a priest after his recovery 'Whatever time I've got left now belongs to the Big Fella Upstairs'.
And surely it is hard to deny that Ronald Reagan's life was providential, when we look at what he achieved in the eight years that followed.
Others prophesied the decline of the West; he inspired America and its allies with renewed faith in their mission of freedom.
Others saw only limits to growth; he transformed a stagnant economy into an engine of opportunity.
Others hoped, at best, for an uneasy cohabitation with the Soviet Union; he won the Cold War - not only without firing a shot, but also by inviting enemies out of their fortress and turning them into friends.
I cannot imagine how any diplomat, or any dramatist, could improve on his words to Mikhail Gorbachev at the Geneva summit: 'Let me tell you why it is we distrust you.' Those words are candid and tough and they cannot have been easy to hear. But they are also a clear invitation to a new beginning and a new relationship that would be rooted in trust.
We live today in the world that Ronald Reagan began to reshape with those words. It is a very different world with different challenges and new dangers. All in all, however, it is one of greater freedom and prosperity, one more hopeful than the world he inherited on becoming president.
The freedom and prosperity (yes, even in a global recession, Americans live better than most people even of the Western World) are the birthright of every American. And as Reagan well knew, that inheritance must be constantly cultivated, lest it wither and die.
As Reagan said in the great "Time for Choosing" speech on behalf of Barry Goldwater on Oct. 27, 1964:
(Click "read more" at the end of the string of words just below the little icons)
Joel Mathis and I take a break from politics to have a wide-ranging discussion about movies and film music with Washington Times critic/Denver film maven Christian Toto and Fistful of Soundtracks host, blogger and fledgling comics writer Jimmy J. Aquino.
Among the vexing subjects we tackle with our guests in this edition:
• Whether Drag Me to Hell is suitable for toddlers and why Sam Raimi should be admitted the Overrated Artiste Club.
• How the symphonic tradition up and moved to Hollywood and whether soundtracks deserve more respect than they get
• Why Ed Asner should be made into an action figure and Walter Matthau was a great if unlikely action hero
• Who deserved to get the Matthau role in the Taking of Pelham One Two Three remake
• Christian Toto's childhood in a Turkish prison
• Remedies for Joel's summer snobbery
• Why comic books may hold more promise as a story telling medium than film or TV
• "And much, much more!"
Alas, none of us had seen UP when we recorded this episode, but if we had, I might have confessed to bawling through half the movie. Because I'm a sap.
After you've listened to the podcast, visit What Would Toto Watch and A Fistful of Soundtracks. And graphic novel fans may want to check out Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology, which feature's Aquino's story, "Sampler."
Jim writes on his blog of the experience:
Ben and I are from opposite ends of the political spectrum, but there's one thing we agree on: the awesomeness of the scores of Yoko Kanno, Michael Giacchino, Jerry Goldsmith and Basil Poledouris. Many of the scores Ben and I like are ones that are listenable outside of the movie or TV show. During the chat, I admitted that some of the scores I enjoy and have chosen for airplay on A Fistful of Soundtracks are from movies I've never even seen, like the 1999 cannibal horror flick Ravenous. It's an interesting discussion about music in movies, and I got to talk about aspects of film music and AFOS I haven't even addressed on this blog yet!
I'm sure there's more than one thing we agree on. But he's right!
Music heard in this podcast:
• "High Anxiety Main Title," by Mel Brooks and John Morris (from "High Anxiety: Mel Brook's Greatest Hits Featuring The Fabulous Film Scores of John Morris")
• "Up with Titles," by Michael Giacchino (from "UP")
• "Enterprising Young Men," by Michael Giacchino (from "Star Trek")
• "Chase," by Giorgio Moroder (from "Midnight Express")
• "Making Time," by Creation (from "Rushmore")
• "Main Title," by David Shire (from "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three")
• "The Great Migration," by James Horner (from "The Land Before Time")
• "Brock Graveside," by J.G. Thirlwell (from "The Venture Brothers")
• "End Titles," by Vangelis (from "Blade Runner")
Be thankful, Monkeys and Monkey friends, to live in a glorious, enlightened age of plenty and comfort.
Craig T. Nelson, an affable fellow and great sit-com actor — as proven from his time on the underrated classic "Coach" — was a guest on Glenn Beck's Fox program the other day. He's had it with the way California has been run. It's not a state anymore, he said, but a hedge fund. He doesn't want to be a part-owner of GM. He also doesn't want to pay income taxes to California anymore. And he's not moving. He's just refusing to pay.
Beck asked Nelson when was the last time he read "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine. "Two years ago," was Nelson's reply. Not bad, for a Hollywood actor.
He even pulled out a copy of the Declaration of Independence that he had in his pocket and read a bit from it. Again. Not bad. Kind of impressive, actually.
Here's an actor who is thinking about these issues seriously — and is willing to take the consequences of his actions (at least he says he is) by going to jail for not paying his state income tax.
Nice to see that all the radical thought in Hollywood isn't chasing lefty dreams. Maybe all that subversive anti-left stuff in "The Incredibles" sunk in.
(HT: Big Hollywood)
He lost his aunt, he went through a divorce. He had two f---in kids.
His husband turned out to be a user, a cheater, and now he's going through a custody battle. All you people care about is….. blog traffic and making money off of him.
HE’S A HUMAN! What you don’t realize is that Bill is making you all this money and all you do is write a bunch of crap about him.
LEAVE HIM ALONE! You are lucky he even gave talking points to you BASTARDS! LEAVE BILL ALONE!…
Ok. So Jack's almost dead — and delirious, since he thinks "President Palmer" still makes the calls in the "24" world. But that's understandable. He's gonna die (but not really, since there's a 2010 season of "24 on tap, and some miraculous cure for his sickness-by-bio-terror-weapon is obviously upcoming). But Jack gives it something good to the whiny, liberal Garofalo character, Janis Gold, who is saying, basically: "Ooh, I know we might die at any moment, but let's call the ACLU before we charge up the old CTU servers.".
This might be my favorite "24" clip of all time. (Joel, cover your ears).