June 25, 2009

For posterity

No comment to make - I sort of just want to save this paragraph from the New York Times web site for posterity:

NBC, which had scheduled a one-hour tribute to Farrah Fawcett tonight at 10 p.m., has now expanded that special to two hours, beginning at 9 p.m., to cover the deaths of both Ms. Fawcett and [Michael] Jackson. CBS will broadcast a special report covering both deaths at 10 p.m.

OK, two comments, actually.
1) From my office window, I can see three of the helicopters covering the action - to the extent that someone still being dead is "action" - at the hospital where Jackson died. So I've got that going for me.
2) How big a bottle of Champagne is Mark Sanford drinking right about now? Yesterday was clearly the right time to admit having an affair with some chick from Argentina. Nice going.

Five more losers, Hollywood style

Despite all of the headlines it generated - not to mention the breathless publicists who were "shocked" - I don't think I really care at all about the news that the smarties behind the Academy Awards decided to start naming 10 nominees (up from five) for the Best Motion Picture award.

It almost as if all of these movie-industry pundits don't realize that it basically just means five more movies are going to not win the award, which they were going to do (or not do) anyway.

I do find the announcement ironic, though. This being the year that Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and He's Just Not That Into You were released, it seems like an odd time to expand the number of films up for awards.

- -

And, not that it's going to affect your day or anything, but I get to see/hear Wilco tonight! As my sister might say: Yeah, baby.

June 24, 2009

And one to go

In my first real job, one of my responsibilities was to call staff at sports teams all over the country to find out what their latest marketing plans were. If that doesn't sound like fun to you, don't worry: There were a few perks.

One of those perks was that after I had worked at that company for a year, the owner installed a heater in the bathroom, a long overdue upgrade because (1) our office bathroom was one metal door away from being outside, and (2) our office bathroom was located in Chicago, which, as you might have heard, gets a little chilly for five or six months out of the year.

Another perk was that some of the calls I made were to area code 803. That was especially nice whenever the recipient of my call was a woman, because I tended to think that South Carolina women have a great accent - somehow, noticeably better than that of their counterparts in both North Carolina and Georgia.

Apparently, however, South Carolina's governor doesn't find that accent quite as mellifluous as I used to, because Mark Sanford went south - way south - to hook up with a woman not named Mrs. Sanford.

As you've probably read by now, not only did the ex-rising-star Republican publicly admit today to having an affair - "extra-marital," the New York Times article helpfully points out - but he flew to Argentina to do it. That's first class.

Then he admitted to being AWOL with her in Argentina the last week, while his staff told people he was "hiking on the Appalachian Trail." Maybe they just meant that as a euphemism. Well, what the affair lacked in convenience, it did make up for in creativity, I guess.

I find this news especially exciting, because of that old rule of thumb about politicians' career-ending extra-marital affair admissions coming in threes. (That might not be the exact rule of thumb, but it's close.) Arizona's John Ensign - who must be breathing a sigh of extra-marital relief right now - was last week, now Sanford, and I'm thinking we'll have ourselves another before too long. When we do - as Sanford himself might put it - y'all come back now, hear?

June 18, 2009

Hard to say I'm sorry

Is it just me, or does this apology not seem very timely?

I am glad that the resolution made headlines today, though, because it gives me a chance to mention what I think is one of the stranger names for a restaurant chain I've ever seen. Here in L.A., we have a handful of eateries operating under the evocative name Souplantation. Whenever I drive by one, I imagine sharecroppers harvesting the vegetables that will be used to make their bisques, chowders and gumbos, which I have to say, doesn't make me feel great about stopping in.

Just out of curiosity, I went to the company's web site to see how many locations it has in the deep South. (Note, the same company operates Sweet Tomatoes restaurants, and if you click through to the map, those are the ones you'll see in North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.) Wanna guess?

June 16, 2009

Arizona senators: Manna from blog heaven

Amid all the talk of furloughs in my adopted home state - and, actually, not just talk, but actual furloughs - I have apparently been on something of a self-imposed blog furlough lately. Sorry it's been so slow. I just haven't come across much lately that struck me as blog-worthy, until just a moment ago when I checked the New York Times site.

The news that brought my blog-jones back to life was this wonderful item about Arizona senator John Ensign. Frankly, it seems like it's about time we get a story like this. I've been feeling a real post-Spitzer, post-Blago political crash-n-burn lull the last few months. So I think I speak for all Americans when I say: We wanted this story. We needed this story.

My first thought was: Really? It's just that it seems soooo cliche now for Republican senators to have affairs with their staff. Good lord. Get out a little bit. Be creative. Meet a waitress at Hooters or something.

My other first thought was: God bless Arizona senators. Whether their names are John or Jon, they're usually good for a blog entry or two (or three) every year.

June 12, 2009

Viewing pleasure

A few random thoughts about stuff on TV:

1) I'm sure glad this is happening today, only because it's enough with the reminder ads already. The intensity of the public awareness campaign for the DTV transition has made me think that this is one of the 10 most important events of my lifetime - like if people fail to switch, we're about to experience another Y2K-type doomsday scenario, and we all remember how catastrophic that turned out to be.

2) You might have seen General Motors' new TV spot, which debuted this week, but if not, here ya' go. My impression? GM's comeback plan seems to center on two points: trying to re-engineer the business plan so that it has the potential to turn a profit (which, the ad basically makes clear, is the opposite of how they used to do things), and liberal use of generic sports photos.

For my money, the strangest image in the ad is at 0:26, when you see a hockey player lying face down on the ice, like a ... um ... dead car company?

3) Predictably, someone has already spoofed the new ad, using the same video, but tweaking the dialogue for maximum comedic effect. Best line of the faux ad comes when the video mocks key elements of GM's strategy: "Greener, faster, smarter. In effect, more Japanese."

4) In case you missed it - and if theater awards telecasts are as big in your household as they are in mine, I'm guessing that you did - the 80s hair band Poison performed its very very not recent chart-topping hit song "Nothin' But A Good Time" on the Tony Awards last week. Which made me wonder what took the Tony Awards people so long to realize that an 80s hair band would be the perfect musical palette cleanser for all of the Broadway theater aficionados out there.

The main point, though, is that at the end of the performance, Poison's lead singer, Bret Michaels, gets absolutely decked by the stage set for the next number. Somewhere in there is a lesson for all other metal bands considering performing on future Tony Awards telecasts. I'm just not sure what it is.

June 5, 2009

Runner's high

Just so I'm clear: Is CNN recommending that I take up recreational drugs?

I've always wanted to do a triathlon, but all of the running and swimming seemed a bit over the top. (Let's be honest: How bad can the biking be?)

Anyway, reading a story on CNN.com today, I realized maybe I'd have an easier time if I followed this guy's example - go on a three-day pharmaceutical binge and then kick my newly adopted bad habits by getting all Mark Allen on ya'.

That should work, right?

June 3, 2009

Hootie 2.0

This might make me a music snob, but I'm OK with that: Around 1997, I basically stopped talking to a friend of mine because he told me that he was - willingly - going to a Hootie and the Blowfish concert. 

Well, 14 years ago this week, one of Hootie's biggest hits, "Let Her Cry," was inexplicably near the top of the charts. Although, apparently, it was just a dark period in pop music history, because the No. 1 song in the land at the time was Bryan Adams' immortal "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?" which featured this soul-crushingly inane lyric: Just tell me have you ever really, / really, really, ever loved a woman? You got to tell me / Just tell me have you ever really / really, really, ever loved a woman?

See how he got "really" to rhyme with, um, "really?" I know, brilliant, right?

Anyway, I've been thinking about Hootie lately because in the history of popular music, few songs have annoyed me as deeply and consistently as did the Blowfish's big hits of the late 1990s. In addition to "Let Her Cry," there were musical atrocities like "Only Wanna Be With You" and "I Go Blind." Actually, what annoyed me wasn't that the songs were so unthinkably terrible - which they were - but that radio stations just kept playing them over and over and over and over....

Now, it's Kings of Leon that have unleashed their Hootie-esque aural assault. Every fricking time I turn on the radio, it's playing "Use Somebody" or "Sex on Fire." And I just... can't... take it anymore. And I mean they're on every station I listen to - I swear the country and classical stations are playing them just to mess with me.

I complained six months ago about the unfathomable number of times Viva La Vida was being played on L.A. radio, but that was nothing compared to my Kings of Leon nightmare. So I'm writing to ask you to please let me know when the radio is Kings-free and it's safe to turn on my radio again. Until then, I shall take refuge in my iPod.

Add your two cents below: Are there any new releases that you've heard about a thousand times too many? Click "Comments" to share.

- - -

Two more things:
1) We're closing in on Sorry For The Convenience's 10,000th hit - now just 54 away! I'm going to have to do some kind of celebratory contest, but I need to figure out how to work it. Stay tuned.

2) Blogger just made it easier to become an SFTC follower. If you're logged in to your Google account, you should see a button at the very top of the screen (up there on the line with the "Search Blog" button) that says "Follow Blog." Knock yourself out and join up, baby.

June 2, 2009

Hug it out

I read a story in the New York Times last week that's still bugging me, so even though it's a few days old, I thought I'd share.

So, you know how everyone is always complaining that the U.S. educational system is falling apart at the seams and how American students keep falling farther behind their peers from around the world, and they can't find Canada on a map, and goofy stuff like that?

When I think of the problems plaguing schools, I think of factors like woeful funding shortages, crappy teachers who can't be fired (interesting recent coverage by the L.A. Times) and disinterested parents, not to mention the threat of deadly violence (Columbine, et. al.). Oh, and also homework - I always thought that was a major drag.

Apparently, when some other people think about what's wrong with schools today, they zero in on another scourge that I hadn't even considered: Too many students are hugging each other.

I never thought I'd read this sentence in an actual news article, but there it was: "Schools from Hillsdale, N.J., to Bend, Ore., wary in a litigious era about sexual harassment or improper touching — or citing hallway clogging and late arrivals to class — have banned hugging or imposed a three-second rule."

It's an awesome idea. Seriously, how can students be expected to learn in an environment where people are embracing each other? Animals.