Monday, July 31, 2006

TODAY AT MERLE'S: Lionel Richie

If you commute on Chicago's Brown Line train, you're no stranger to the massive reconstruction project that started earlier this year. My stop has been blissfully unaffected these past six months, but that's about to change; the Francisco station will soon be shutting down for its six month facelift, and to lament its closing I'll be providing updates covering the following:

Every morning, Merle's, the cafe next to the Francisco stop, helps us commuters get ready to face the day by broadcasting a "light favorites" radio station over its outdoor speakers at ear-bleed volume. Each day we're treated to another adult contemporary classic. But in a matter of a few short weeks, this grande helping of poptastic ear candy will be ripped from our lives like a Band-Aid off a scraped kneecap.

So in honor of the closing of the Francisco stop, I present "TODAY AT MERLE'S", spotlighting my morning's imposed musical gem. . .

TODAY AT MERLE'S: "All Night Long" by Lionel Richie

What self-respecting American citizen could hear this song at 7:20 a.m. and not find themselves facing the uncontrollable urge to get their piña colada on? I was shocked to see people with the nerve to actually stand still as this song graced the airwaves. Not everyone I met was jamming in the street, and I felt cheated. Indeed, three of them were so uninspired by Lionel's ode to communal stuff-strutting they actually cut in front of me as the train pulled up. They didn't exactly look like they were in the mood to party, karamu, fiesta, forever -- they just looked like they wanted to sit their asses inside some air conditioning, pronto.

Listen to a clip of "All Night Long" in RealPlayer. Come join our party, see how we play!

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CRUISEWATCH™: Curiouser and Curiouser

On Friday, I posted about the mysterious disappearance of the "Help me, Tom Cruise!" dialogue in the TV commercials for Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, wondering if Mr. Cruise wasn't up to his old censorship tricks again.

It seems I'm not the only one who was curious about this. As I discovered this morning upon googling the phrase "Help me, Oprah Winfrey", everyone's favorite search engine™ returned the following result (among only three other web site references, including this very blog):

So I followed the Yahoo! Answers link, only to find this:

I'm smelling conspiracy. What about you?

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

We Don't Need Another Hero

Surely the elephant in the room within the field of celebrity news this weekend, Mel Gibson's obscenity-laced anti-Semitic tirade upon being arrested for drunk driving has captured the hearts and minds of America. Although The Passion of the Christ's director has since apologized for the drunken display of his Max Cady-like true colors, you can relive his pre-sober whirlwind of racism and sexism in this semi-sensationalized report which also features a PDF file of the police report of the incident.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

CRUISEWATCH™: The Blanding of Ricky Bobby

It has come to my attention that the television commercials for the new Will Ferrell romp Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby may be the latest victim of the Tom Cruise censorship crusade.

The commercials were altered this week to delete Ferrell's cry of "Help me, Tom Cruise!" (in the scene when Ricky Bobby thinks he's on fire) and replaced with "Help me, Oprah Winfrey!" Apparently the man who claims he can't remember the last time he's had a common cold due to his Scientology Super Powers doesn't want word getting around that he also has the power to extinguish fire.

Fortunately the online trailer for the film still retains the Cruise line . . . but for how long?

Any information regarding the nature of this sudden change should be sent immediately to johneats[a] (just replace the "[a]" with a "@"). We will continue to monitor this story as it develops.

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Ya Mo Be There (Up And Over)

Just now, while googling the title of the James Ingram / Michael McDonald song "Ya Mo Be There" (no, don't ask why), I stumbled across a virtual Rosetta Stone: the phrase "Oh My God, There's An Axe In My Head!" translated into nearly every language imaginable. Enjoy.

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American Mandate!

Today the White House takes time out from its busy schedule in order to play host to a bevy of superstars from American Idol. A curious statistical detail is included in the following excerpt from this BBC report on the event:

More than 63 million votes were cast in the final of the fifth American Idol series in May, when Hicks triumphed over McPhee.

George Bush received almost 60 million votes during the US presidential election in 2004.

Does this mean some canny TV producer will realize that the next presidential election could draw more voters if it were run as a reality show? I know I'd be all over America's Next Top Politician as long as Tyra, Miss J and Jay Manuel were involved.

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Just Who The Hell Are Nonpoint, And More To The Point, Just Who The Hell Do Nonpoint Think They Are Anyway

Miami Vice, the year's most anticipated Jamie Foxx movie, opens this weekend and no doubt you've been lucky enough to catch some of the pre-launch marketing hype. After all, Miami Vice is far and away the summer's biggest movie (well, at least since Superman Returns. No, wait, since Dead Man's Chest. Wait, I meant since X3. Sorry, I keep forgetting which movie I don't want to miss the most this summer).

In your perusal of this upcoming summer blockbuster's promotional material you've probably already noticed that someone has covered the original Miami Vice and Michelob - The Movie classic "In The Air Tonight" by perennial divorce-by-fax king Phil Collins. This stunning bit of ironic re-interpretation has been carried out by none other than Nonpoint, a self-described "Rock/Metal/Funk" band whose MySpace page allows you to enjoy their new cover version as often as your browser will play it before crashing.

The band, featuring ecstatic face-pulling bass player "Bastard" (pictured upper left, whose real name "Ken" can be gleaned from a quick glance at the image's file name) have turned a seminal slice of pudgy, bald British synth-and-drums pop into a milieu of faux-grunge guitars and spittle-inflected vocals worthy of a prime slot in nearly any post-9/11 big-budget action film's end credits suite. Still, I can't help but shed a tear at the bastardization of a landmark of the cross-platform music-video-as-marketing-tool era. If the original song did anything right, it succeeded in being atmospheric; the only atmosphere Nonpoint's version creates is "INTERIOR: FRAT PARTY - NIGHT".

I realize that Nonpoint may have been waiting for this moment all of their life, oh Lord, but why couldn't they have been enlisted to cover Collins' "Take Me Home" for a relaunching of the ill-fated mid-to-late-80s CBS newsmagazine West 57th instead?

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

HASSELHOFF HOTNEWS™: Shine, Sweet Freedom!

Rejoice, ladies--walking celebrity joke David Hasselhoff's divorce is finally official!

UPDATE: Not so fast, ladies. Looks like you might want to give the man some time to heal before you let yourself into K.I.T.T.'s passenger door. Seems he's not taking the whole divorce thing too well and has just had to deny a bout of public drunkenness at Heathrow Airport:

“He was drinking alone and staring into space. He started ranting incoherently. It was clear he was talking about his wife and the divorce. He was sobbing and nodding his head.”

“Passengers saw him pick up a shop manageress, stagger around and mumble to people,” The Sun claimed.

The manager who was picked up by the actor reportedly told him: “I don't think you're fit to fly, sir”, to which Hasselhof allegedly replied: “I think you are right.”

Way to get that publicist on the scene for damage control, David. But we all know where those celebrity denials ultimately lead . . . just ask Lance Bass.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Looking for that perfect gift for:

Mother's Day?
Father's Day?
Valentine's Day?
House Warming?

Then why not try the dazzling array of products for sale at My Photo-Art™, where "skilled artists and weavers" (translation: recent BFA graduates operating PC-driven heavy machinery for minimum wage) will craft whatever photo you provide them with into just about anything vaguely art-like you can imagine?

You can purchase things like an amazing approximation of a painting (complete with "artistic brush strokes" - make sure you click to enlarge, and read the FAQ to find out more about their proprietary "digi-Brushh" technology)! Or a "wooven" throw blanket, so you can cuddle up to that special someone's MySpace photo you just can't get enough of! Thanks for the add!

Whatever product you choose, you'd better order quickly to give those skilled artists and weavers plenty of lead time -- there's just 151 shopping days left until Christmas.

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His efforts to out-Shatner William Shatner as the King of All Media Irony shifting into high gear, walking celebrity joke David Hasselhoff fires off his latest salvo in the war of post-modern self-deprecation for monetary gain: this magnificent commercial for UK broadband provider Pipex.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Photographed in situ at Capstone Consulting -- not in 1996, but in 2006 -- this 8.5" x 11" wonder should have the clients lining up in droves. Everything about it screams professional, from its circa 1982 "Dawn of the Home Computer"-era headline design to its prodigious use of Times Roman Bold Italic (flush justified in an uncomfortably broad column width, of course), right down to the widowing of "without," a word so utterly devoid of positive connotations that no self-respecting advertising designer should ever shy away from giving it visual emphasis. And let's not forget the "Everything In Its Place -- That's Right, THE CENTER" composition. Oh, and the copy writing's a real corker as well.

A graphic blunder of astronomical proportion, or a miracle of post-modern irony?

You be the judge.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Celebrities Look, Read Better Than You

You owe it to yourself to take a look at all of the celebrity "READ" campaign posters currently for sale at the American Library Association. There are some true gems available for purchase. I'm particularly fond of the Britney Spears poster as her dedication to fine literature and eclectic book choice will certainly inspire kids to think for themselves and not just do things to try to fit in with their much cooler friends. Or how about "sultry Mexican movie star" Salma Hayek using her poster as an opportunity to shill for a vanity project? Was Colin Farrell thinking about Joyce's use of epiphany as metaphor in Dubliners when he made his last internet sex tape? When was that Jimmy Smits photo taken, like 1993? Who can resist hunky Mel Gibson in his pre-religious nutter phase, holding (if not reading) a book that might be considered left-wing? And what cunning art director got Julia Styles to actually dress like a librarian for her poster?

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Sunday, July 23, 2006


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Wish I Could Have Eaten There.

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