Thursday, August 31, 2006

ENTERTAINMENT DROPPINGS™: Travolta - Gay?!?, Jessica and John - Not Gay?!?, 9/11 - Let's All Be There!, Brian May - Still Alive!

• Captain Travolta fastens his seat belt, places his tray table in the upright position, and remembers that in the event of an emergency landing his male companion can be used as a flotation device. [Defamer]

• Homogeneous white celebrities like each other! [US Weekly]

• Scientists not sure if the air is safe to breathe around Ground Zero five years later, but sure of one thing: it smells like ratings victory for NBC! []

• Queen guitarist Brian May upset that three of the people using the Internet actually remember the fact that he's still alive. [Page Six]

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

WHY GOD CREATED YOUTUBE™: The Husserlian Transcendental Phenomonology Of P. Diddy

P. Diddy's got his-self a new "BadBoy Records channel" over at YouTube wherein he posts extremely short clips of himself speaking to a camera (and, in doing so, his peeps) in order to promote his new album (which, as he tells you in nearly every single video, drops in October). And while all those other blogs are pointing you to the video of him just waking up and describing the crusties in his mouth, or the video where he talks about (and demonstrates) the profound sense of release that urination can bring, I prefer to spotlight the above clip of a quieter, more philosophical Diddy checking in with his MySpace family (because if you're on Diddy's MySpace page, "you're MySpace family, not friends") and ponders the meaning of life via revealing he "ain't feeling too good". It's the kind of up-close and personal access one can only get from watching less than a minute of video shot by an assistant who'd probably rather be scoring his boss a venti soy latte or an ounce of blow instead of having to videotape his dementia-powered ramblings 24/7.

And that's why God created YouTube.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

CRUISEWATCH™: T-Cru Announces Multimillion Dollar Investment Deal With Perpetually Dancing Old Man

In a move that doesn't reek of desperation whatsoever, Tom Cruise has angrily picked up his toys, stuck his thumb on his nose while saying "Nyah, nyah," and inked a development deal with three of the major players in the currently bankrupt Six Flags theme park corporation after his very public and very humiliating dismissal from Paramount last week.

Personally, I can't wait for Cruisemania™ to sweep through the Six Flags theme parks, leading to name changes for major attractions (roller coaster Rolling Thunder will obviously be re-branded Days of Thunder), the replacement of the edutainment films at the Pictorium Theater with Vanilla Sky, and the all-new Risky Business Stage Experience featuring a whitey tighty-clad Bugs Bunny dancing to "Old Time Rock 'n Roll."

Plus, the new Eyes Wide Shut Hall of Mirrors should be a big draw for the teen set.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

WHY GOD CREATED YOUTUBE™: 3-2-1 Contact opening credits

Do you ever find yourself thinking "Boy, I wish I could watch the opening credits from the 1980s PBS tween-targeted science show 3-2-1 Contact"?

Well, that's why God created YouTube.™

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ENTERTAINMENT DROPPINGS: Asshole With Ascot Accidentally Wins Award

Ascot-wearing celebrity asshole Jeremy Piven accidentally won an Emmy award Sunday night, giving him the opportunity to finally use the speech he'd been trying out in the bathroom mirror every day for the past month. "I have to make sure to just let my eyes well up a little when I do the dead father bit so that I don't accidentally poke myself in the chin as I kiss the Emmy before lifting it skyward, because with those tears in my eyes I could pretty easily miss and get an ow-ie," Piven told fellow asshole Billy Bush when interviewed on the red carpet Sunday evening before the Emmy award ceremony telecast.

Chicago residents can look forward to the 41 year-old Piven taking his Emmy out for frequent walks during his forays to entice female college freshmen to join him at his condo for an evening of sipping vodka Red Bulls and running their fingers through his hair weave.

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Idlewild Not Nearly As Bad As Everyone Says It Is

My biggest disappointment with Outkast’s new film Idlewild is unfortunately the one thing I never thought would be disappointing: the music. Having managed to avoid reading any reviews that would spoil the musical content of the movie, I was expecting it to be filled with brand new songs to complement the lavish production numbers I’d read descriptions of. Instead, many of the songs are either previously released or slightly retooled versions of previously released songs, some as old as 2000’s Stankonia. Not that this made the music bad by any means, it was just disappointing to hear a lot less new material than I was expecting.

Otherwise, Idlewild is a pretty solidly entertaining movie. Yes, as you’ve no doubt read in other reviews, Andre and Big Boi aren’t onscreen together much at all. Yes, Andre is sullen and reserved for the majority of the movie. But the story, while filled with clichés and stock characters, is still interesting enough to pass the time between the songs, and the acting is surprisingly solid. Big Boi is a particular revelation, as his attempts at reading dialogue in things like Outkast’s videos and Chappelle’s Show have always seemed forced to me, but it looks like somebody might have finally sprung for some acting lessons. As mentioned before, Andre’s character is reserved to the point of neurosis, but as was no doubt the intention this gives him a chance to actually act instead of just mug for the camera.

Paula Patton manages to infuse her performance with just the right amount of hokey 1930s ticks to remind you what period the movie takes place in without being ridiculous (although she tends to lose the affectations as the story unfolds). Macy Gray steals the show whenever she’s onscreen, and Terrence “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” Howard projects a decent amount of oily menace beyond his unfortunate haircut while filling the same character slot that Morris Day did in Purple Rain. To help legitimize Idlewild as a film rather than just a rap group’s vanity project we get Ving Rhames, Ben Vereen, Patti LaBelle and Cicely Tyson providing some old school gravitas that only feels slightly forced.

As disappointing as the music can be, the visuals are that much more impressive, from the costumes and sets to the choreography and wacky digital effects. And although I've read lots of critics dissing the direction and editing I thought both were handled pretty well, particularly the editing, which manages to keep up the pace even during the quiet "boring" parts without making you feel like you're having a seizure. Even still, it runs a bit too long -- about Superman Returns long -- so be prepared to do a little squirming and possibly some watch-checking. But really, give it a chance on a big screen – it’s not nearly as bad as everyone says it is.

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How That Fat-Necked Bastard Killed My Childhood In 122 Simple Steps

Want to see every single visual change made to the original Star Wars since its initial release? Then look no further than this feature/press release (head directly for the link that says "starting the tour here" if you want to avoid all the Kool-Aid®-induced marketingspeak propaganda) which documents the goiter-induced madness of King George. Thrill as he edits out the naughty parts of gunshots (as above)! Gasp in wonderment as he makes the sky look more prettier! Stand up and cheer as he adds shots of even more toys you can buy!

Oh yeah, and Harrison Ford loses his manhood in the Cantina scene too.

Bring on the 3-D version, you Fat-Necked Bastard!

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

ESCAPE FROM THE BOOK DROP OF DOOM™: "The Pigeon As A Military Observer"

While not blogging, I like to spend my free time as an employee at a major university's research library -- primarily so that I can encounter items like these. From p. 364 of the September 5, 1914 edition of The Illustrated London News, a profile of pigeon photographers used as spies during World War 1. When looking at the full-size version of the image, pay particular attention to the "Transportable Pigeon-Loft, With A Dark Room" in the circle at the top. Fabulous!

And for those of you out there who are like me and can't get enough of that pigeon carrying a camera practically as big as its own body, please enjoy the suitable-for-desktopping image below.

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Superman Returns Explained

This single-panel piece of brilliance from Apropos of Something (thanks for the tip, Gene) tells it like it is, but omits just a few vital points:

• Why is everything on the Kent farm manufactured in the 1930s if this takes place in 2005?
• Why did Superman need to take his spaceship to Krypton? Couldn't he just fly through space like he could in the comics? And is his spaceship powered by nudity or something?
• If Superman's such a great guy, why's he stalking his old girlfriend?
• Most importantly: Never mind the asthma - why does Superman have a retarded son?

That is all.

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Friday, August 25, 2006


It's Friday, so it's time for the debut of our brand new advice column, ASK JOHN EATS. As long as people keep writing me with questions, I'll keep answering one every week. Most likely I'll have the perfect answer to your question right off the top of my head since I'm so well-versed in the ways of the world; but rest assured if I can't come up with something decent myself, I work at a research library so I'll be able to find something good enough to plagiarize pretty easily.

I hope you all find my words of wisdom useful. I do this not for any sort of self-satisfaction, but because I just plain care about you, the folks at home reading this. You need help, and that's what I'm here for. That being said, on with our first letter!

Dear John Eats,

I have been a loyal reader since last week Tuesday. I really admire how much you eat every day. I myself would like to eat more, but can’t seem to find the time. Do you have any tips for a wanna-be eater like myself? Or should I just give up and eat vicariously through you? If so, could you please eat something a little higher in fiber from time to time?

Also, the leaves of my pumpkin plant keep getting mildew, though I have tried a lot of chemicals. And it hurts when I pee.


Hungry Onlooker

Dear Hungry Onlooker,

You sure do ask a lot of questions! Adjusting your eating habits can be a very important key component in a healthy lifestyle. And any competent doctor will tell you that a high fiber diet is the way to go. Speaking of competent doctors, did I ever tell you about the time I was nearly killed by a doctor? Oh, this is a great one.

It was back in college, and I'd blacked out during a class ("Special Topics in Anthropology: Religions of Hunting-Gathering and Horticultural Tribes" -- it was the class when we were covering circumcision rituals, and I still have the notebook I was taking notes in when I blacked out. You can see the crazy pen line as my hand slipped off the page while I finished writing the words "mimicking menstruation"). Well, after I woke up, I had a pounding, debilitating headache for two weeks, and when I eventually blacked out again while I was working in my painting studio (I had actually quit painting at the time to work on a graphic novel, and I was inking some panels on an easel when I blacked out, and my head slammed into the page I was working on and I had a big black ink stain on my forehead), a friend of mine insisted on taking me to the doctor after she woke me up by pulling my head off my easel.

Well, the doctor couldn't find anything wrong with me, so I had to get a bunch of tests. One of them was a CAT scan of my brain.

So I go to the hospital for the CAT scan, and I had to lie flat on my back and have my head strapped down so it wouldn't move, which was a really freaky sensation, almost like I was being strapped in for a torture session. Then they had to inject me with something, and it really, really burned when they gave me the shot. I was gritting my teeth from the pain when the doctor giving me the shot said "Does that hurt?" And I said "Yeah, it does, you'd think I'd be used to this by now." And the doctor said "What do you mean?" And I said "I have to get a shot in the arm every week for my allergy." And he was all like "What allergy?" And I said "I'm allergic to bee stings" and this is the best part, all of a sudden the doctor leaned onto the table I was strapped down to and -- this is a direct quote -- said "Shit. Oh, shit. Shit."

He immediately started barking out orders to everybody in the room, and everybody started running around. Keep in mind that my head's strapped down so all I can do is look at the ceiling, so I can hardly tell what's going on. And by this point whatever they injected me with had started working, and apparently it had the same effect on me as a bee sting because my lungs started to fill up with fluid and I couldn't breathe, I was all like "uhhhhhhh...uhhhhhhhh" trying to get air, and the room started to look really dark because I was blacking out.

When I'd been in the waiting room to get the CAT scan, they had made me fill out a form where I listed my allergies, and obviously no one had read it.

Eventually they injected me with some other stuff and I could start to breathe again. Things started to calm down and the room got brighter and suddenly everybody was a lot nicer to me than before -- they were all desperately hoping I wouldn't file a lawsuit, I think. I got the CAT scan, and they never did find out what was wrong with my head.

Anyway, I don't know what to do about your pumpkin problem, maybe try googling "pumpkin +mildew" and see what it says. As for your pee hurting, you might want to go to a doctor or something.


John Eats.

Do you have a question, no one else can help, and you can't find The A-Team? Mail your question to:


Please only send these questions via email. John Eats does not like to be asked questions in person or over the phone, that's during his "Me Time" and he doesn't want to be bothered.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Phil Collins Weekend - Two Days Early!

Ok, I know I've gone a little CollinsCrazy today, but I have multiple motivations for posting this, the original video for Collins' Take Me Home, so deftly sampled by Bone Thugs N Harmony earlier today.

• MOTIVATION 1: The Collins Mullet™. Jesus, it practically needs its own social security number -- that thing is ALIVE.

• MOTIVATION 2: The Batshit Insane YouTube Comment. Check out the description of this video as it appears on YouTube. Somebody's got multiple anal retentive issues including worrying about the completeness of their posted video and Capitalizing The First Letter Of Every Single Word In Their Posts:

Homina Homina Homina!

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Pluto Suffers Devastating Blow To Self-Esteem, Looks Forward To Years Of Medication And Therapy

Who do those freaks think they are, stripping Pluto of its status as a planet? Everybody knows that Pluto is a planet because Jean-Luc Picard said so! And where are the Cybermen gonna come from now, huh? I guess there can't be a tenth planet anymore if there isn't a ninth! Don't these "scientists" realize the permanent damage they've done to Science Fiction? What's more important: whatever the "facts" are, or what we believe?

I thought The Man only beat down people; if He can beat down a whole planet, I guess there's nothing He can't do.

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CRUISEWATCH™: VOTE - Favorite Tom Cruise Moment

US Weekly is asking its readers to vote for their favorite episode of "My Year of Debilitating, Career-Killing Mental Illness" with Tom Cruise.

Pictured above: Tom announcing Katie said "yes" when he asked her go to the prom with him right after they went for a ride on Splashwater Falls during the school field trip (seriously, WTF is the deal with T-Cru's hair in that photo??).

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WHY GOD CREATED YOUTUBE™: Bone Thugs N Harmony vs. Phil Collins

Back in 2002, Cleveland rappers Bone Thugs N Harmony dropped Thug World Order, an album shockingly met by commercial indifference after a string of successes. But the album did produce this gem, Home, in which the Bones boys invited The Specter of Phil Collins' Cultural Relevance to lip sync to samples of his nearly 20 year-old hit at the time, Take Me Home (a song we've recently begged to be covered).

Watch how The Specter of Phil Collins' Cultural Relevance provides a stellar, out-of-context performance including:

  • Rocking an ever-so-slimming Fat Man Long Black Coat™ (someone's been watching Trinny and Susannah!)

  • Just as quickly forgetting to report to Wardrobe one morning and settling for the golf hat he had in the car boot

  • Trying not to look nervous what with all the ballers hanging around

  • Hiding the look of stark realization that this is no longer 1985 and Layzie Bone, Wish Bone, and Krayzie Bone are not Philip Bailey

Lord knows how I missed this video back in the day (thanks for the tip, Dartanjal!) but then, that's why God created YouTube.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

ENTERTAINMENT DROPPINGS: T-Cru, Jar Jar Jones, SoaP, Survivor, B-Routh

• Paramount wakes up and smells the E-meter. [People]

• George Lucas decides he hasn't crushed the souls of every last one of his fans, gives the go-ahead to Indiana Jones and the Lost Sambo from Naboo. [ComingSoon]

• It's only funny until a real snake bites a real breast. [BBC News]

Survivor: Master Race sets out to prove that reality television is not just for honkies anymore. No, really. []

• Superman grows a beard! [People]

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I guess the world didn't end yesterday after all. So whatever you did in a fit of wild abandon yesterday will come back to haunt you for the rest of your life.


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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

THE TIM GUNN SHOW: What Crawled Up Alison And Died?

If you're watching Project Runway (and if you're not, let's face it, you don't deserve to own a television), you were no doubt shocked last week when talented, not-insane Alison was voted off instead of talentless, bitchcakes-crazy Vincent. Well, thanks to the kind folks at (and a tip from S), you can read a surprisingly bitter and pompous exit interview with Alison wherein she blames her ousting on her "plus-size" model while dissing her roommates and revealing a soft spot for everyone's favorite closeted goiter sufferer Jeffrey. My, how our little Alison has changed.

Luckily she's lucid enough to realize Vincent was allowed to remain because he makes better television fodder; I mean come on...any guy with a Brooklyn accent, a laugh like a satanic hellhound and a penchant for repeatedly saying how his designs "get [him] off" is obviously a timebomb waiting to explode -- he could very easily make it to the final three just on his mental imbalance alone. After all, it worked for Jade on the last Top Model cycle, didn't it?

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"Continue With The Operation, You May Fire When Ready"

I had a really detailed, hilarious post all ready to go this morning until I suddenly remembered that today is the day the world is supposed to end (as reported recently on Boing Boing by our very own Crispinus) and I just thought "Oh, what's the use?"*

So y'allz best step off the grid and enjoy your last Precious Moments® of existence. Like, go tell your boss what you really think of them. Or finally reveal your true feelings to that special, secret someone (get ready to have at least one awkward conversation today -- that means you, Whitney Houston!). Or just stand in the street with your fist in the air, shouting "Burn, baby, burn!" as it all comes crashing down around us.

Thank you and good night.

* Okay, fine, I woke up late and had a little bout of writer's block and this was the best I could come up with. Sue me. Before THE WORLD ENDS TODAY.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

TODAY AT MERLE'S: The Bube Is Back!

TODAY AT MERLE'S: Save The Last Dance For Me by Michael Bublé

Aw, Bublé. Bublé, Bublé, Bublé. Last week it was Queen, this week it's The Drifters. Yes, I'm just a crotchety old bastard, but hearing Bublé wrap his golden throat around other people's past glories just gets me all in a tizzy, and not the good kind. Jesus H. Christ, Bublé, is nothing sacred to you?? In the name of all that is holy, just STOP.

Oh, I know that the music's fine, like sparkling wine, but when you sing it it's like it comes out of a $5 Franzia box. So share my pain and watch this clip from ABC's family-friendly Dancing With The Stars, wherein The Bube whores himself out as the musical backdrop to all kinds of wrong.

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SELF-ESTEEMWATCH™: Celebrity Impersonators

Whenever I'm feeling worthless I like to remind myself that no matter how little I mean to the world in the grand scheme of things, at least I don't work as a celebrity impersonator.

Seriously, these people pick me up as much as they depress me. You just know that they're waiting for their big break, for somebody to discover that they really have more talent than just the ability to look vaguely like Tom Cruise if the audience has at least six beers in them and wears glasses smudged with Vaseline. But if these people aren't good for anything else, they're at least good at giving me a false sense of superiority.

Who can look at the images above and not think:

  • Is that really supposed to be Dean Martin, or is it just somebody's drunken uncle?

  • That's not really supposed to be Oprah, is it? That's just The Chief from Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego, right?

  • I never knew just how much Sean Connery looks like Kenny Rogers!

  • Is that actually someone pretending to be Gwen Stefani, or is it just Tori Spelling on her way to a casting couch?

There, now I'm ready to greet the day.

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

TODAY AT MERLE'S: Thelma Houston

TODAY AT MERLE'S: Don't Leave Me This Way by Thelma Houston

Unable to contain my glee, I listened with rapt attention today as Fate smiled upon me once again and brought this disco classic wafting to my eardrums. Combined with the roar of jet engines as fighter planes from the Chicago Air & Water Show passed overhead, along with the strains of The Beatles' Let It Be emanating from a boom box within the hollow shell of Kitchen Chicago's back door loading dock, I was treated to a veritable Cageian symphony on the Francisco platform this afternoon. Thelma's words of triumphant desperation rang hollow, however, as we travellers inevitably boarded the Loop-bound Brown line train and abandoned her, our hearts definitely not full of love and desire for her.

Below, watch a classic Thelma Houston appearance on German television in 1977. You started this fire down in my can't you see it's burning out of control?

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Snakes on a Plane lacks ambition, substance, character development, a coherent plot, stellar performances, realistic dialogue and craftsman-like direction. And those are just a few of the things it gets right.

This weekend's inevitable box office champion has achieved the impossible: it is the most over-hyped movie of the decade so far and yet somehow manages to actually live up to it all. But honestly, it's not hype that's all too difficult to live up to since all that was really expected of this movie in the first place was:



  • SNAKES on board the PLANE

  • SAMUEL L. JACKSON screaming "MUTHAF---ER" at least 20 times

No, it's not perfect -- Samuel L. Jackson would have had to drop at least 15 more "muthaf---ers" for that to be the case, for a start. But what SoaP has done is create the ultimate 21st century movie (so far).

It has cemented the summer of 2006 as the mainstream coming-out party for mashup culture (begun by the overwhelming acceptance of Gnarls Barkley) by overtly stealing so many raw materials it may as well have been made by a veteran YouTube-posting "I made this trailer out of scenes from the Brokeback Mountain trailer and footage from The Ten Commandments -- and the song is Toxic by Britney" director. It steals its opening murder scene from classically awful cop shows like T.J. Hooker. It steals the introduction of the characters on board the plane from every film in the Airport series. In a triumph of postmodernism, it also steals its attitude towards these characters from the disaster movie-spoofing Airplane!. It steals its horror from Anaconda, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and virtually every other movie that's ever featured a snake.

Beyond the theft and derivation, it made the best of its pre-launch hype by actually incorporating the internet-posted ideas -- or more appropriately, demands -- of its target audience into the final movie. After countless artists and musicians tried and failed in the 1990s to create malleable artistic structures within which the audience could participate and collaborate (like any number of failed "interactive CD-ROM" titles by the likes of Todd Rundgren, David Bowie and Peter Gabriel), SoaP finally succeeded in using fan input to create some of its best moments, giving the audience ownership of a movie like never before.

But enough of the pseudo-intellectual bullshit, because SoaP is just frigging hilarious, plain and simple. And it's much better enjoyed in a crowded theater filled with people who are in the mood to watch some crap and who aren't afraid to tell the screen about it. When I saw it last night the crowd was extremely vocal, including the middle-aged woman who sat two seats away from me and didn't seem to quite grasp it all (she went from talking out loud at Samuel L. Jackson's character and laughing along with the audience at the beginning of the movie to saying things like "Why they laughin'?" once the stunningly poor attempts at poignant death scenes began happening, as if she couldn't grasp that this was actually funny instead of tragic -- as if in her head she was thinking "The sad music's on, you can't laugh now!"). Like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, SoaP works best as a communal experience, so do yourself a favor and hit the most crowded theater you can -- preferrably one filled with people whose necks are draped with stuffed snake toys and whose "We Got Snakes On A Plane!" t-shirts are hand-made.

There is a veritable laundry list of brilliantly awful moments to be lauded, but far and away my favorite ingredient in it all had to be the "snake vision" sequences. Nothing says "this muthaf-ing snake is looking at me" like a blurry kaleidoscope in green duotone. Absolutely priceless (although the two instances of passengers drawing while on the plane are a very close second for me, especially considering the fact that one of the characters is a small boy and the other is a grown man and the quality of their drawings is suspiciously similar).

As Anonymous A said after we'd left the theater, it was almost a let-down that we didn't find ourselves forced to walk through a Snakes on a Plane-themed gift shop before being able to leave the theater like you are when you go to a big-budget museum exhibition. And that sums up the feeling you get if you approach this movie the way it should be, with your brain turned off and ready to be just another mindless consumer for the next hour and a half: it is a cultural event that lacks culture. Don't get upset by the non-stop Red Bull and Sony electronics product placements; don't worry about the fact that there are holes in the plot you could fly the muthaf---ing plane through. Just do what the movie poster tells you to do and you'll be fine.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Today's Government-Mandated Snakes on a Plane Content

After you see SoaP this weekend, please copy and paste the inevitable review that you emailed to someone else or posted on someone else's blog into the comments here. Thanks.

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Grade School Science Students Cringe At Impending Memorization Overload; New Planets To Include Ceres, Charon, Xena, 7 Zark 7

So, as Jerry Seinfeld would say, what's the deal with that whole debate surrounding the new definition of the word "planet" thing? The mind reels at the thought of every science textbook on Earth needing to be updated to reflect a new total of 53 round objects in orbit around the sun.

And talk about "an inconvenient truth" -- this would also mean doomsday for large portions of the science fiction community, as the term "Tenth Planet" would no longer avail an author of an easily applied sense of mystery to any solar system-based thriller they currently have in the works. Not to mention it would impose a name change upon any number of sci-fi and comic book shops around the world. And don't even get me started on things like kooky alternative Canadian rock bands, small mom-n-pop film and television production companies, and international web design companies who aren't afraid to display unnecessary and unfortunate Flash video loops on their Internet homepages.

As loyal John Eats commenter Anonymous A put it recently, this must be a conspiracy of some model planet manufacturing cartel who are obviously salivating at the prospects of the huge demand for revised classroom plastic solar system kits this decision will no doubt create.

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Haley Joel Osment Sees Mel Gibson's DUI, Raises Him A Possession Of Marijuana While Driving Charge

Recent hair explosion victim Haley Joel Osment upped the ante for celebrity misdemeanors yesterday when he was officially charged with four criminal counts, including, according to US Weekly:

· Driving under the influence of alcohol
· Driving with a .08 blood alcohol level or higher
· Enhancement of driving with a .15 or higher
· Possession of marijuana while driving

We can only hope word will leak out of a racist and/or sexist rant at the scene of his accident, arrest, or upcoming arraignment on September 19th. You can do it, Haley Joel!

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

THE COVERS THAT TIME FORGOT™: The Morton Downey Jr. Story

Today on THE COVERS THAT TIME FORGOT™: The Morton Downey Jr. Story starring Robert Downey Jr.

Downey Jr IS Downey Jr!

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TODAY AT MERLE'S: And Now A Word From Our Sponsors (UPDATED)

It's been a frustrating week for TODAY AT MERLE'S fans. Every single day so far this week I've only encountered commercial breaks while listening to the obnoxious "lite favorites" radio station on the Francisco platform, and to top it off yesterday I couldn't even hear the commercials because a TV news helicopter was hovering directly overhead (see picture above). And since I'm taking the day off on Friday and will most likely spend the day cooped up in my apartment avoiding both the violent outbursts of my occasionally bellicose cat and the horrors brought about by superfluous human interaction, I've really just got this morning and that's it for the week. So to help the 2.75 TODAY AT MERLE'S fans out there get over their withdrawal symptoms, I present to you a selection of this week's commercials as heard on the Francisco platform...

Are you single? Are you caucasian? Then why not try America's number one matchmaking website for caucasians,

Are you from Chicago? Do you drink beer? Are you caucasian? Then why not drink the beer rated number one by Chicago's caucasian community, Goose Island Beer?

Do you have a problem? Could you use some advice? Do you like bald, overweight Texans? Are you caucasian? Then why not watch America's number one advice show hosted by a bald, overweight and Texan caucasian, The Dr. Phil Show?

UPDATE: Well, it was commercials again this morning, so I might have to force myself to leave the house tomorrow after all. I hope the station hasn't permanently changed their morning commercial break schedule, or this could be the death knell for TODAY AT MERLE'S.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

ADVENTURES IN THE DESIGN WORLD™: Virginia is for dog lovers -- and I mean real dog lovers

What makes a vacation great? Is it walking on a beach? Walking on a beach at sunset? Walking on a beach at sunset with your wife? Walking on a beach at sunset with your wife and dog?

Or is it walking on a beach at sunset while your wife helps you diddle your dog?

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Battle Of The Network Reality Stars!

Actual conversation* I had yesterday with someone else named John:

John Eats: Do you remember Battle of the Network Stars? Man, I wish you could buy that on DVD.

John R.: Yeah, who's got the rights to that and what's holding it up? That sucks! Why can you get Pink Lady and Jeff on DVD and not Battle of the Network Stars?

JE: Why doesn't somebody bring that show back?

JR: Exactly! They should bring it back --


Well, this morning as I was doing research to confirm it was indeed not on DVD (which it is not), I stumble across -- OMFG -- Bravo's Battle Of The Network Reality Stars!!!

Sweet manna from heaven, glory be to Bravo in the highest!

* slightly paraphrased

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Have you ever played Dracula?"

There's still time left to ask Scott Bakula a thing or two.

Don't pull any punches, people.

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Do you have a problem, no one else can help, and you can't find the A-Team? If you are one of John Eats.'s 3 to 7 daily readers, feel free to email your questions about life's little problems to:

(Make sure to replace the [AT] with an @, of course.)

The best questions will be published here along with my advice and answers. Think of it as Lifehacker without the vast resource of technical knowledge, or Metafilter if all of the questions were answered by a bald, white, overweight midwestern man whose current job earns him just about 50% of what he made six years ago.

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ENTERTAINMENT DROPPINGS: B-Fleck, Lance 'n Matt, George O'Dowd, Tucker F-ing Carlson

• B-Fleck announces that fatherhood has changed his life, but not enough to actually motivate him to learn how to provide his own child with sustenance for the past eight months. [People]
• Closeted middle-aged white men Lance Armstrong and Matthew McConaughey take a break from admiring each other's rock-hard abs, continue their pointless charade. [Page Six]
• Boy George just does not care anymore, rocks cutoff sweat pants during first day on the new job. [BBC News]
• Tucker Carlson and Jerry Springer join the cast of Dancing With The Stars; show's producers succumb to moral imperative, retitle it Dancing With The Assholes. [Washington Post]

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LORD OF THE FRIES: Heather puts the island's signal fire out on Hell's Kitchen finale

Anyone else watch the season finale of Hell's Kitchen last night? No? You pathetic [digitally blurred mouth, bleeping] moron.

In one of the most obviously telegraphed reality show endings I've ever witnessed, perpetually crying sous chef Heather walked away with the keys to her own multi-million dollar restaurant, while Virginia became the last chef to be "86'd" (but where was the satisfying ceremonial burning of Viriginia in effigy?).

It was an action-packed final episode, with six of the previously booted chefs returning to help Heather and her opponent Virginia prepare their final service. We even got to see some blood when sweaty, incompetant oldster Tom sliced his hand while cleaning a knife with a towel. Bonus! Weeble™-like B-boy wannabe Keith returned just in time to bribe Virginia, and Chef Ramsay put the Reality™ into "Reality Show" by actually repeatedly stroking his chin while pretending to be making the final decision as to who would be the winner. Oh, the sweet manna from heaven that is 21st century television.

Everyone knew who it would be from the get-go of the episode, however; all the classic reality show devices were out in full force: the bait-and-switch (oh no! Heather's had two plates sent back to the kitchen, and Virginia's acing the quality control!), the selective editing (How could Virginia win when we barely got to hear a peep out of Garrett, the ex-con on her team? Boy, they're really concentrating on Giacomo from Heather's team...), and even the false visual emphasis (Heather was in the foreground during the door-opening ceremony, but we had a better view of Virginia's face -- so the winner has to be Heather).

The "Three Months Later..." epilogue conveniently gave Heather one last chance to shed some tears, as well as another chance for Chef Ramsay to plug the Red Rocks resort in Vegas...which was really what this entire show was about in the end, wasn't it?

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Mike Douglas Died For His Sins

In honor of this weekend's passing of legendary talk show host Mike Douglas, we present this clip of William Shatner appearing on The Mike Douglas Show performing his dramatic interpretation of Frank Sinatra's "It Was A Very Good Year".

"It poured...sweet...and clear!"

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Mail Bombing is Fun Again!

Attention, online shoppers: convicted Unabomber Ted Kaczynski's personal items will be auctioned off on eBay soon, offering you the opportunity to bid on things like his personal journal, a pocket knife, typewriters, clothing, and "a handmade tool." Check out the category this site's version of the story is filed under...yes, mail bombing is fun again!

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Friday, August 11, 2006

TODAY AT MERLE'S: Michael Bublé

A brief technical note before today's exciting installment. One of the 4 to 7 people reading this has asked me where TODAY AT MERLE'S went for the past two days. Unfortunately, since the music at Merle's is provided by a commercial radio station, and I am sometimes only on the train platform for 2-3 minutes, there are days when I hear nothing but commercials coming from the Merle's sound system. So the mystery is solved. Having said that...

TODAY AT MERLE'S: "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Michael Bublé

Call me crazy, but even though he's practically been genetically engineered to appeal to my demographic (what with his application of Rat Pack-era tropes to slightly ironic interpretations of light favorites), something about Michael Bublé's song stylings strikes me as even more crassly disingenuous than Harry Connick, Jr.'s similarly anachronistic affectations of a decade ago. And although I could delve into cheap personal attacks against his physical appearance to try to win you over to my viewpoint (like the fact that he looks like an ex-frat boy who won't really be able to shave until he turns 45), I think I have to bite the bullet on this one and chalk it up to my own neuroses. There comes a time when even my tolerance level for 21st century pop culture's continuous regurgitation of pop's previous decades reaches its limit. No more covers of Queen songs, Mr. Bublé, please. I'm begging you.

Share my pain. Watch this bootleg video of The Bube belting out "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" before it disappears from YouTube.

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Aniston and Vaughn End Months of Speculation, Announce Adoption of Celebrity Couple Ironic Mashup Nickname

Alleged celebrity rebound couple Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, who may or may not have begun dating while filming The Break-Up in 2005, ended months of conflicting reports out of Hollywood today when they announced through their publicists the creation of the official ironic mashup of their names in the tradition of "TomKat," "Bennifer," and "Brangelina."

"Jennifer has been frustrated for months with reporters referring to her and nothing more than close friend Vince Vaughn as either 'Vinnifer' or 'Vaughniston,' neither of which feature part of Jenn's name first which is ridiculous when it's so painfully obvious which one of them has the real star power," Aniston publicist Steven Huvane said from a prepared statement at a press conference in Chicago, where the alleged couple may or may not have purchased a condominium together. "To put it bluntly, Jenn wanted to announce the official nickname before the tabloids blew the story out of proportion. So I'm proud to be the first to inform you that from this day forward, all speculative press materials relating to their possible relationship, non-existent marriage proposals and subsequent divorce rumors should refer to the two of them as Jennivaughn Anistonce."

"Vince knows it's two words instead of one -- by previous nickname standards, a bit of a mouthful," Vaughn's publicist John Pisani said at a separate, unrelated press conference which was convened to also quell rumors of the perpetually baggy-eyed actor's recently alleged night of hell-raising at Bare Assets II, a 24-hour strip club in downtown Chicago. "But he's really looking forward to hearing Pat O'Brien's dulcet tones wrap themselves around this new, official celebrity couple nickname on the next edition of The Insider. No, Pat O'Brien was not along for the ride to Bare Assets. No, neither was Charlie Sheen. Next question."

With the nickname controversy out of the way, speculation is running rampant that an official denial of Aniston's baby bump may be only hours away.

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Submitted for your approval: the curiously serpentine child/adult toy Splash Hosers.

Appreciate the packaging and instructions by clicking on the image for all of its full-size glory.

(Thanks for the tip, A!)

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

THE TIM GUNN SHOW: Oh My Stars And Goiters!

I know Project Runway fans surely care more about that dastardly Keith Michael's recent ousting over the pattern book and Web surfing controversy, but what I'm most concerned with this season is Jeffrey's neck tatoo. As a designer, he must realize that it's not at all flattering to his facial features since it makes his head look like it's exploding out of the back cover of a ninth grader's algebra notebook. So why is it there?

Obviously the man's got a goiter and he's sick of wearing scarves and turtlenecks all the time, that's why!

If Jeffrey were to come out of the closet about his condition, he would join an elite group of fellow celebrity goiter sufferers including (according to every essay-writing high school student's BFF) Frank Sinatra, David Hasselhoff, and both George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush. So do yourself a favor and come clean, Jeffrey, before your neck couture becomes this week's Big Scandal of the Blogosphere™. You'll be glad you did.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Today's Government-Mandated Mel Gibson Content

The imaging specialists over at US Weekly have provided us with one of the single greatest implementations of an image-morphing Java applet ever devised: "Watch Mel Go From Hunk To Drunk," a mesmerizing journey through history where we watch Mel learn to smile, turn his head to his right, and grow a beard. The only thing that keeps this from being 100% perfect is the fact that the "drunk" photo is not his now-infamous mugshot.

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TODAY AT MERLE'S: Bette Midler

TODAY AT MERLE'S: "Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler

The Original Diva herself forced me to greet the day this morning, as the nails-on-a-chalkboard strains of the Beaches hit pummeled the assembled on the Francisco platform this morning.

Of course, in this post-9/11 universe one can not hear this song and not be reminded that Oliver Stone's sure-to-be-smash World Trade Center, the movie that exploits tragedy so hiply it has a MySpace page, is opening this week. So in honor of both occasions, I present this YouTube gem: a commemorative 9/11 slideshow set to Midler's classic. My personal favorite image: the ghostly bald eagle head floating God-like above a presumably Iraq-bound aircraft carrier whose bow is emblazoned with the phrase "PAYBACK IS A BITCH." Who knew the U.S. military was so well-versed in post-modern irony?

If you can't stomach the rest of it, please scroll ahead to the 2:20 mark and pump your fist in the air.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cunning Plot To Wash Man Right Out Of Hair Revealed, Foiled

Anti-landmine campaigner and alleged former prostitute Lady Heather Mills McCartney was at the center of a fracas involving police outside of estranged soon-to-be ex-husband Sir Paul McCartney's London mansion today.

Police were called to the scene when Lady Mills McCartney attempted to enter the property and, upon finding the locks had been changed, sent her security guard to climb over a wall and let her in. She later laughed off any wrongdoing, yet in that same report Sir Paul expressed distress over the following:

"[Sir Paul spokesperson] Mr Hall said the singer had frozen [the couple's] joint bank account and had complained about Lady Mills McCartney taking three bottles of cleaning fluid from his home in Sussex."[Emphasis added.]

Sir Paul, the world's most successful recording artist, was later overheard to say: "Bitch better recognize, ain't nobody steals a whole three bottles of cleaner from Macca and gets away with it. Not when that shit cost me some bank."

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Joke Wants To Write Self

Peeped just now on the homepage of

Where does one even begin?

Oh, my sides ache more than a bunch of GIs with gonhorrhea.

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