Flashback Time

All right, so Pam’s tagged me with a music meme. And what the hell, I’ll play along. The idea is to go here and grab the list of the top 100 songs from your high school graduation year (though I’m not exactly sure what measuring stick they’re using to pick the “top songs”). Then mark them up as directed. (Oh, and I’ve added hyperlinks from the song titles to the track in the iTunes Store — when it’s available — in case your memory needs some refreshing... or if this little trip down memory lane inspires you to expand your collection.)

I’m going to try to do this with my high-school self in mind; in other words, this is what I thought about the songs then (and I was fairly tolerant at the time, going through a bizarre sort of pop/metal phase). In at least one case (and I’ll leave it to you to pick which one) a song I hated has since grown on me, and in several instances a tune I liked has deteriorated in my estimation into a stinking pile of pus.

I don’t think I can realistically ask you to completely withhold judgment, but I can tell you that any barbs directed my way will leave me psychologically unscathed — I’m long past obsessing over my teenage shortcomings (but if you want clarification on any of my choices, ask away and I’ll gladly address it in the comments).

So without further ado, here’s the list.

Green = Made everyone shut up so I could hear it clearly
Black = Could certainly tolerate it, but wasn’t running out to buy the single (yes, we had singles back then)
Red = Actually made the effort to get up and change the dial on the radio
Blue = Um... what was that one again?

  1. That’s What Friends Are For, Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder
  2. Say You, Say Me, Lionel Richie
  3. I Miss You, Klymaxx
  4. On My Own, Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald
  5. Broken Wings, Mr. Mister
  6. How Will I Know, Whitney Houston
  7. Party All The Time, Eddie Murphy
  8. Burning Heart, Survivor
  9. Kyrie, Mr. Mister
  10. Addicted To Love, Robert Palmer
  11. Greatest Love Of All, Whitney Houston
  12. Secret Lovers, Atlantic Starr
  13. Friends And Lovers, Carl Anderson and Gloria Loring
  14. Glory Of Love, Peter Cetera
  15. West End Girls, Pet Shop Boys
  16. There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry), Billy Ocean
  17. Alive And Kicking, Simple Minds
  18. Never, Heart
  19. Kiss, Prince and The Revolution
  20. Higher Love, Steve Winwood
  21. Stuck With You, Huey Lewis & The News
  22. Holding Back The Years, Simply Red
  23. Sledgehammer, Peter Gabriel
  24. Sara, Starship
  25. Human, Human League
  26. I Can’t Wait, Nu Shooz
  27. Take My Breath Away, Berlin
  28. Rock Me Amadeus, Falco
  29. Papa Don’t Preach, Madonna
  30. You Give Love A Bad Name, Bon Jovi
  31. When The Going Gets Tough, Billy Ocean
  32. When I Think Of You, Janet Jackson
  33. These Dreams, Heart
  34. Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone), Glass Tiger
  35. Live To Tell, Madonna
  36. Mad About You, Belinda Carlisle
  37. Something About You, Level 42
  38. Venus, Bananarama
  39. Dancing On The Ceiling, Lionel Richie (a song that I now ridicule mercilessly, but at the time, it didn’t particularly bother me)
  40. Conga, Miami Sound Machine
  41. True Colors, Cyndi Lauper
  42. Danger Zone, Kenny Loggins (maybe this is a Top Gun thing, but I still love it)
  43. What Have You Done For Me Lately, Janet Jackson
  44. No One Is To Blame, Howard Jones
  45. Let’s Go All The Way, Sly Fox
  46. I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On, Robert Palmer
  47. Words Get In The Way, Miami Sound Machine
  48. Manic Monday, Bangles
  49. Walk Of Life, Dire Straits
  50. Amanda, Boston
  51. Two Of Hearts, Stacey Q
  52. Crush On You, Jets
  53. If You Leave, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
  54. Invisible Touch, Genesis
  55. The Sweetest Taboo, Sade
  56. What You Need, INXS
  57. Talk To Me, Stevie Nicks
  58. Nasty, Janet Jackson
  59. Take Me Home Tonight, Eddie Money
  60. We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off, Jermaine Stewart (this one still makes me cringe)
  61. All Cried Out, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam With Full Force
  62. Your Love, Outfield
  63. I’m Your Man, Wham!
  64. Perfect Way, Scritti Politti
  65. Living In America, James Brown
  66. R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A., John Cougar Mellencamp
  67. Who’s Johnny, El Debarge
  68. Word Up, Cameo
  69. Why Can’t This Be Love, Van Halen
  70. Silent Running, Mike and The Mechanics
  71. Typical Male, Tina Turner
  72. Small Town, John Cougar Mellencamp
  73. Tarzan Boy, Baltimora
  74. All I Need Is A Miracle, Mike and The Mechanics
  75. Sweet Freedom, Michael McDonald
  76. True Blue, Madonna
  77. Rumors, Timex Social Club
  78. Life In A Northern Town, Dream Academy
  79. Bad Boy, Miami Sound Machine
  80. Sleeping Bag, ZZ Top (I was a big ZZ Top fan after Eliminator, but this just didn’t do it for me)
  81. Tonight She Comes, Cars
  82. Love Touch, Rod Stewart
  83. A Love Bizarre, Sheila E.
  84. Throwing It All Away, Genesis
  85. Baby Love, Regina
  86. Election Day, Arcadia
  87. Nikita, Elton John
  88. Take Me Home, Phil Collins
  89. Walk This Way, Run-D.M.C.
  90. Sweet Love, Anita Baker
  91. Your Wildest Dreams, Moody Blues
  92. Spies Like Us, Paul McCartney
  93. Object Of My Desire, Starpoint
  94. Dreamtime, Daryl Hall
  95. Tender Love, Force M.D.’s
  96. King For A Day, Thompson Twins
  97. Love Will Conquer All, Lionel Richie
  98. A Different Corner, George Michael
  99. I’ll Be Over You, Toto
  100. Go Home, Stevie Wonder
As for tagging... well, since I pretty much abandoned this blog several months back, I think my readership is about nil. So that means that if you’re reading this, then you’ve been tagged. And I do expect you to participate.



And Now... Codeword Secret

Well, a trailer, anyway. And hosted by MSN Video — which naturally means it’s buggy, and may or may not be visible on a Mac (for my part, I have yet to get the audio to work properly). Gotta love Microsoft...

In any case, if you look closely, you can see me (in my role as a CIA agent extra) ducking in panic as Johnny Newman swings his “ray gun” around wildly. And if you’re particularly intrigued, you can check out some behind-the-scenes photos here.

As I mentioned before, the show will be premiering at the New York Television Festival on Friday, September 7th (and showing again on Saturday, September 8th). The comedy troupe (comprising several members of the Codeword Secret team) will be performing on Thursday, September 6th. And as if that weren’t incentive enough, all the tickets are free! So if you’re in the area, be sure to give it a look!

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Stuff That Only Pisses Off a Typographer

Nitpicking time.

I’m really looking forward to the new Clive Owen/Paul Giamatti film Shoot ’Em Up. Yes, I know the movie requires a ludicrous suspension of disbelief, but it really hearkens back to the heady days of nonsensical ’80s R-rated action films. Rambo, Commando, and the like. The kind of films where you could really turn your brain off and enjoy the cartoonish action. A genre that 1988’s Die Hard — much as I love it — kind of ushered out the door.

The trailer kicks some serious ass. Makes it perfectly clear what you’re in for — either that’s your thing or it’s not.

But the logo drives me absolutely nuts. Just evidence that we are living in an increasingly computer-reliant society, without any capacity for independent judgment.

Look closely. The logo reads: Shoot ‘Em Up.

Notice anything odd?

The apostrophe — there to indicate the omission of the “th” from the word “them” — is backwards. Put simply, they’ve used an opening single quotation mark instead of an apostrophe.

Why? Because word processors automatically assume that a single quote preceding text must be an opening quotation mark. The typed apostrophe (there being just a single key on a standard keyboard for it) is automatically converted. Despite the fact that it’s the wrong character. And whoever laid out that type is too lazy — or too ignorant — to fix it.

A competent typographer would change it immediately. Hell, I manually change all of my quotation marks (single and double) and apostrophes to the correct characters even here, where I have to manually type in the character codes.

And no, the hypocrisy of my criticizing a minor typographical error in the context of a film of this genre is not lost on me. But I’m still irritated.

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The Future Is Coming Back

Texas Firm Readies to Revive DeLoreans.

This excites me beyond all rational explanation. I wish I could say I’m gonna be one of the first ones in line, but alas, I don’t have that kind of scratch. Especially since you know I’d have to do the full Back to the Future conversion...

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David Beckham in LA

Some friends just won a chance to perform at the New York Television Festival in September, as part of the PGP-NYTVF Comedy Talent Search. This is part of the same crew that put together the brilliant Buddy Jackson online sitcom, as well as the pilot for Codeword Secret (on which yours truly was the production designer) — which will also be showing at the festival (Friday, September 8th 7th, at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, September 9th 8th, at 10:30 p.m., in case anyone’s going to be in New York that weekend).

I just figured it might be fun to give you all a look at their winning audition video. Enjoy!

Video: David Beckham in LA - Sketch Comedy

Edit: I corrected the dates above, and should also point out that the Comedy Talent Search final performance will be the evening of Thursday, September 6th.

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Poetic Justice in Action

For the record, I would not have taken this action.

But — and I’m just speaking hypothetically here, since I’m not even a District resident — were I to sit on a jury charged with evaluating the guilt of those who did vandalize a Hummer last week, I’d really have no choice but to vote “not guilty.”

Because what happened in no way approached the level of a “crime.” Was it wrong? Sure, fair enough. But a crime? I don’t think so.

As far as I’m concerned, you buy a Hummer (particularly an H2), and you are explicitly making a statement to the world that you’re an asshole, and proud of it. (Well, you’re also making a statement that you’re a negligibly-endowed weasel living in deathly fear of your own latent homosexuality, but that’s another story.) Frankly, I’m surprised that anyone is rallying to this piece-of-shit’s defense.

Yeah, that’s right — the so-called “victim” in this case is a worthless sack of shit. Now, does that automatically mean that we, as a society, should condone the vandalism that resulted? On the whole, no, probably not. But that said, I can’t find myself working up a shred of sympathy for this scumbag.

You start saying, “fuck you,” to the world at large, you can hardly be surprised when someone says, “fuck you, too.”

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Gosh, Does That Suck!

Okay, so we just got the upgrade to Final Cut Studio 2, and I’m going through the included tutorial DVD. From the look of things, they’re using some kind of Suzuki ad campaign as demo material. Beautiful people, motorcycles riding across salt flats... certainly interesting, and visually compelling. So I look on the disc, and they mention that you can see the full ad campaign at suzukifilms.com.

Hmm... looks like a series of webisodes. Ah, I get it — they must be trying to emulate the success of the BMW Films series, only with one continuing storyline instead of a bunch of individual shorts. Hardly an original idea, but since when is the entertainment business (let alone the advertising business) constrained by originality? But still, let’s see what you’ve been able to do...

Oh. My. God.

Rarely have I seen such an utter lack of... well, anything approaching “entertainment.” This is so obviously the work of some executive whose sole criterion for production was “make the vehicles look good.” And I’ll give ’em that much. Beyond that minimum threshold, every penny was apparently spent on hiring models who can’t act their way out of a paper bag.

Spend a few bucks on a writer? Pshaw! Who needs a script? Just use that briefcase thing from Pulp Fiction. Throw in a twist, make the hot-chick motorcycle gang turn out to be cops. And then everyone chase the cars around. Done! How about hiring a competent director? Waste of funds — we’ve got models! All the director’s got to do is tell them to walk across the screen in slow-motion. How hard can that be? A moment to consider credibility (even by Hollywood standards)? Give me a break — nobody’ll care if it makes sense. I already told you — we’ve got models! So where do I set up the casting couch...?

Comparing this crap to BMW films is like... well, comparing actual crap to a BMW.

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Wackity-Schmackity Doo!

Hey, Patton’s new CD just arrived!

Only listened to half of it so far, but it does not disappoint. Damn, this guy’s funny — his Brian Dennehy story almost made me crash my car.

Go buy it. Right now. (But be warned — don’t expect Remy from Ratatouille or Spence from The King of Queens.)

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Gullibility Reigns Supreme

How can we still wonder at the media’s gullibility (see “weapons of mass destruction”) when they still fall for idiocy like the new “Loch Ness footage”? The ludicrously stupid CNN story would be laughable if it weren’t passing off flagrant lies as “news.”

An “amateur scientist” caught the footage? Um... no. Gordon Holmes is a fringe self-publisher who claims to have photographed fairies. Not exactly a credible eyewitness, and certainly not a “scientist” by any stretch of the imagination.

The Loch Ness monster “was first caught on camera by a surgeon on vacation in the 1930s”? Not even close. The infamous “surgeon’s photo” was a hoax.

I can’t believe there are still people who cling to the idea of a mysterious “monster” in an enclosed body of water. Now, would one — or even a handful — of such creatures be able to escape detection? Perhaps. But seeing as how these stories go back nearly a century (and the creature would presumably have to have been there for some millenia before that), we’re talking about a breeding population. Sorry, but there we’re talking about hundreds, even thousands of animals.

I suppose to the die-hard true believers, it’s something akin to the “intelligent design” argument: This is an instance where God just waved his magic wand and went “poof” — spontaneously generating either an immortal beast or an animal that can miraculously overcome the restrictions of genetics to reproduce indefinitely with only a Noah’s ark-sized gene pool.

But I suppose it’s to much to imagine that the supposedly intelligent mainstream media would have outgrown fairy tales.

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I Tried, I Really Tried

I wanted On the Lot to succeed, to be good. For crying out loud, I’m an independent filmmaker — you’d think I am the target audience for this thing. And if there’s one think Mark Burnett knows, it’s reality TV.

Even once I found out (and you’ll have to trust me on this) that the initial selection process was completely rigged — the show was totally precast — I gave it every benefit of the doubt. I was pissed off at the deception, but I can understand the motivation.

Hell, I stuck with it as long as I could. But last night was the last nail in the coffin.

Initially, the show looked like it had promise. It began as an interesting look at what goes into film production — a behind-the-scenes look, à la The Apprentice — so far, so good. Then out of the blue, they skip an entire episode? Excuse me? They go from teasing a one-page production challenge with 24 contestants one episode to making no mention of that challenge and just 18 contestants the next? Did I miss something here?

Then they change hostesses, drop one judge in favor of a “guest judge” position (maybe I should give Brett Ratner credit for noticing something here), and turn the whole thing into a cheap American Idol knockoff. Burnett, what the hell are you thinking? (Let’s be honest, Spielberg’s just a name on a marquee for this thing. Well, that and money.) The first “results” show was no more than 10 minutes of content stretched out to an hour. Seriously groan-inducing. (Thank god for the “skip forward” function on the DVR.)

And then they sink even further. After having gone through several “challenges,” they decide to throw the idea of actually giving the directors something new to do out the window altogether: They go back to the three-minute shorts the directors did to get into the competition in the first place. And even that they’re dragging out for three weeks.

Sorry, two weeks was all I could stomach on this one. I’m done.

I’m willing to bet that they started with one vision of the show, and then after showing it to test audiences, they radically revamped it, and now they’re just filling time until they can figure out what to do next.

Now, if I were in a position to offer advice, the pragmatist in me would know exactly what to tell the producers — pull the plug. This experiment failed. Give it up and move on. (And I think I can bring up some ratings to back me up on this call.)

But let’s say they insist on going ahead. I don’t think I’m bringing up anything radical in offering some pretty basic solutions, things that they should have thought of beforehand.

  1. Go back to the original format. Seeing how movies are made, how these directors work is the interesting part. Really, that’s all you’re bringing to the table. Having directors sit on stage while you show their films? Tedious and pointless. This is a reality show — we have to care about the contestants.

  2. Come up with new content each week. For crying out loud, you can't go from step D in the competition all the way back to step A and expect it to mean anything. And don’t give me any crap about not being able to make a movie each week. I can show you right now that that’s horseshit.

  3. Figure out something for the judges to actually do. Michael Bay is far from what I’d call a great director (am I the only one on the planet who thinks Transformers is going to suck hard?), but he was the only one in last week’s episode that had anything constructive to say. (If I hear Garry Marshall give one more “I didn’t like this film, but we need more women directors” comment...) And if “America” votes, then really, what’s the point of the judges anyway? Which brings me to...

  4. Drop the whole “America votes” concept. Bad idea to begin with. So far, some of the best directors have been cut, and some of the utter hacks are continuing (and I don't mean the “Getta Rhoom” guy — as offensive as I thought the film was, it was definitely well put together). The whole thing just becomes arbitrary. Survivor had a solid advancement/rejection concept. The Apprentice had a firm (and qualified) judge, not to mention the outsized personality of Donald Trump. American Idol really is a popularity contest, so the voting is fine there. But this totally doesn't work.

  5. Get a real host. Adrianna Costa may be (as Marshall is keen to point out) nice to look at, but she brings nothing to the proceedings. They need someone with industry experience, or at least stage presence. (Okay, so she’s really nice to look at. But still...)
Odd that I have so much to say about a show that I’m not even going to be watching anymore. I suppose it’s just that I had such hopes, and it proved such a grave disappointment.

But the most important thing to remember is that the show sucks. That’s my point here. Let’s not forget that.

Makes me want to try my own stab at television programming...

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I’m Not Dead

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not sure how frequently I’ll be back around. But I suppose that every once in a while something happens that you just have to talk about.

Just saw the Sopranos series finale.


Okay, so I like Ron Moore’s take on it, but still...

Don’t know that I’m actually pissed off, but I am damned stunned.

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Paradigm Shift

Well, the inevitable has finally happened — my PDA has died. The battery won’t hold a charge more than an hour or so, after which point it promptly loses all data. Oh, I can restore from my laptop, of course, but after doing that three times (and hosing my mailing lists once again as the hacked-together assemblage of syncing tools tries to merge data), I’ve come to accept that it ain’t coming back.

So now I’m in a bit of a quandary. It’d be easy if the iPhone were here already (and had passed through its initial growing pains), and I hadn’t just dropped a decent chunk of change on a new RAZR V3i, but that’s not the case. So any real solution is probably a year down the road.

I suppose I could go out and get a low-end PDA. Or try something with GPS capability (a gadget I’ve pretty much figured is an inevitable investment at some point), which even the amazing iPhone doesn’t offer.

But really, I think I might try going without the PDA for a while. Yes, it’ll mean looking at my calendar via iCal a lot more — though my phone does have limited calendar functions. And I’ll find myself taking notes on old-fashioned paper a lot more — though I find that, as a manager, I have more credibility that way anyway). And I’ll lose some of the cool PDA apps I’ve been using — though I don’t really look at pictures or (bad) video that often on it; I don’t cook enough to use the cookbook app (or at the least I could get one for my laptop, as I only cook at home anyway); the old Infocom Hitchhiker’s Guide game is available online (and we have high-speed access at home); and if I really apply myself, I can probably find a decent Java-based Sudoku game for the phone.

Still, this is a really tough decision for me. We’re talking a major lifestyle change — at least emotionally, if not practically. So if I start calling on you people for support, please be understanding. I’ve lost my assistant, and it looks like we’re not planning to backfill the position.

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