Completely Booty.

Well, ho ho ho! It turns out that Lapdance Island was a sham by some Channel 4 “Candid Camera” knock-off. I got a letter that read in part:

The show promised to take ten hot blooded male contestants to a deserted tropical island and have forty lapdancers gyrate around them 24 hours a day.
The truth is there are no lapdancers. There is no island. There is no show.
We made it up to promote The Pilot Show, a genuine series starting on September 8 at 10.30pm on E4. The Pilot Show hilariously dupes unsuspecting celebrities and members of the public into appearing in bogus TV shows.
Sorry about the lapdancers but, as compensation, you can laugh as other people get taken for a ride on The Pilot Show by watching the special preview clips at http://www.channel4.com/pilotshow.

Oh, very witty, ha ha ha. I think that Channel 4 missed out on making some real gutsy TV here, as I would have loved to have seen grown men having nervous breakdowns while surrounded by equally unstable lapdancers in a Lord of the Thongs scenario.
And to think I sent in my answers to their poll:

Drill King Anthology

Holy Moses and the Tournament of Roses! Not many people survive being impaled through the head by an 18-inch long, 1 1/2 inch thick drill bit, but this guy did. (Includes fascinating X-Ray pic).

Splitting Headache: Man survives horrific construction accident
Truckee resident Ron Hunt, who has been dubbed ‘Miracle Man’ by friends, survived being impaled through the eye with an 18-inch long, 1 1/2-inch diameter chip auger drill bit.
While using a drill above his head on Aug. 15, the six-foot ladder he was standing on started to wobble, Hunt’s nephew Ben Hunt said. ‘The ladder started to ‘walk’ on him,’ Ben said. ‘He lost his balance and threw the drill down – which is normal for us (construction workers).’
Then, he fell off the ladder face-first and onto the drill, which went through his right eye and out his skull, just above his right ear. According to Ben, doctors told him the drill pushed his brain aside, rather than impaling it, which could have caused further – and most likely vastly more extensive – damage.”

By way of Metafilter

24 (Season One, Episodes 9-12)

Creator: Robert Cochran, Joel Surnow
2001
Phew, this is gruelling, yet so very exciting.
Patience slightly tested with the usual uselessness of Women in Peril, who spend their time speaking loudly of how they’re going to get out of their predicament (don’t they think somebody is listening?).
24 is definitely a post-Clinton pre-BushJunta thriller, raising issues of realpolitik in both the Bauer and Palmer storylines. Palmer reminds us of the theory that Clinton was named “the first Black president” by some analysists. Yet his Chief of Staff seems to clearly be modeled on Tricky Dick Cheney (the crooked smile, especially).
Palmer is too upright and honest (as far as we know at the moment) to really be a stand in for Clinton, but he certainly does feel your pain. In fact, he just feels pained. The Bosnian angle now coming into the plot also reflects on Clinton’s major war, now feeling like years and years ago. Did we ever fear vengeance would be enacted upon us by angry Serbs?
And would 9-11 have ever happened if the CIA and FBI were as hi-tech as such agencies are made to look in the show? As the 9-11 investigations are showing, some of these offices barely began using email a couple of years back.
I also note with some irony that the actress who plays Palmer’s wife also plays Condoleeza Rice in some made-for-TV movie about 9-11.

24 (Season One, Episodes 5-8)

Creator: Robert Cochran, Joel Surnow
2001
The night turns into day and Jack Bauer becomes entrapped himself.
I don’t know if I could really watch more than four episodes in a row of this, but it does remind me that some British cinema nearly did show a run of the first season in one straight 24-hour block. What would the effect be of watching the show in real time? Would it be interesting to have the screen go black during the space allotted for commercials? What about keeping the black screen but overlaying a stopwatch during the space?
Or how about splitting the show into its requisite parts, screening Jack’s storyline on one monitor, the kidnapped family on another, the CTA on another, and Palmer on yet one more monitor, switching them on and off when need be? Just a thought.
The themes of 24 are starting to come out: family vs. job, sacrifice (of yourself, of others), upholding the law vs. bending it.
And L.A. looks really, really smoggy.

Nearly Fine and Dandy

Well, I’ve nearly got all the archives up and running, thanks in part to Blogger themselves, who had to fix their code, which wants to dump all archives outside the folder it needs to be in. This front page may be the last one to be fixed.
I also have added BlogOut comments to all entries. Now you can finally praise or harass me–the choice is yours! I am looking into adding a stats tracker for all pages, but for now, until I can figure out why I can’t sign in to my virtual server, that’s on hold.
Last job: fixing the CSS so blockquotes don’t come in all big ‘n’ funky.

Greg Palast on Bush and his Saudi Sweethearts

Blockbuster interview from Buzzflash in which Greg comes right out and says it: The Bush Junta is conceding to the demands of Osama bin Laden.

Greg Palast answers “Was the Iraq War a Bush Cartel Effort to Divert Attention from Saudi Arabia, the Home and Chief Financier of bin Laden?” – A BuzzFlash Interview
BUZZFLASH: In the lead-up to Iraq, the Bush administration, primarily through spokespeople, went out of its way to divert attention from the Saudi relationship and to project it on Iraq by claiming Iraq had ties to al-Qaeda. The majority of Americans thought and perhaps still think that the majority of hijackers were Iraqi. And on top of that, [Paul] Wolfowitz, about a month ago or so, admitted in an interview that one of the reasons practically for declaring the war with Iraq a success was it would allow the U.S. to move its Air Force stations from Saudi Arabia to Iraq, which was one of the two main requests of–
PALAST: –Mr. bin Laden.
BUZZFLASH: Mr. bin Laden. So Wolfowitz basically conceded that we conducted a war in part to make a concession to Osama bin Laden and take the heat off of the Saudi Arabia.
PALAST: One of the most stunning things is that while our President did his little Top-Gun, Tom-Cruise number, landing on the ship and running around in that flight suit with his parachute clips around his crotch so he looked like the first chimp in space, at the same time he

24 (Season One, Episodes 1-4)

Creator: Robert Cochran, Joel Surnow
2001
All memories of the pink fuzzball of Legally Blonde were mercilessly crushed
once the first episode of this TV series-now-on-DVD was finished. Fans of the show will not be surprised to learn that after a short break, Jessica and I watched Episode 2…then Episode 3…then checking the clock to see if it was that late…Episode 4. Yep, we finished the whole disc.
Being a rental (along with LB) we’ll have to go back for 5-8.
More thrilling than any multiplex, megagazillion dollar blockbuster, 24 piles on calamity on top of peril and mixes it all up with heavily carbonated paranoia. And on DVD, where there are no commercials (save the product placement by Ford and Apple), the effect is even more like a series of jolts to the heart.
The gimmick of having each episode play out in real time is a good one, and in a way justifies the contant peril that is going on (though in real life this would probably lead to a nervous breakdown). It also allows us to engage in the characters as we would a novel, and to have minor moments play out as major twists. The chessgame that is the Terrorism Unit’s interaction is marvelously detailed, the shifting allegiances dramatically complex.
I don’t know how this will all play out (and if you’ve seen the first season all the way through, keep your mouth shut, please) but Episode 4 showed a bit of slowing down, keeping Jack in a warehouse for most of the episode, and slightly letting things down with a dip into cliche’d dialog: Jack is a “loose cannon” and, the line I love to hate, “You just don’t get it, do you?” fortunately said by a minor character. Will the series remain this tense all the way through? Will it show its narrative strategy too early? Will we have heart attacks by the end of it all? Stay tuned, because I think we’ll be finished with the whole series by the end of next week. Tic-tic-tic-tic-tic-tic-tic…

Legally Blonde

Dir. Robert Luketic
2001
On an anthropological mission,
Jessica and I watched this last night, my wife wanting to figure out why this was the most popular film around her office (which is not a law office). Reese Witherspoon stars as Elle, a sorority queen who winds up in Harvard Law School and a) learns to believe in herself b) teaches others to believe in herself and c) solves a major case through her knowledge of haircare products.
It’s standard Hollywood comedy, with a couple of good lines (“I even had a Coppola direct my admissions video!” she pouts), but making the audience “feel good” is higher on the agenda than making them laugh. What’s wrong here is typical of comedies for the last ten years: the film can’t decide whether to be a farce, with cartoonish characters and crazy situations, or a realistic comedy drama, with the laughs coming out of the drama of well-rounded characters. Unlike Hong Kong or Bollywood cinema, where all genres are thrown into the blender, here the effect is to diminish the comedy.
The first half continually tells us how outlandish Elle is (everybody gets a dropped-jaw moment), but then the second half works equally hard to show us Elle’s innate talent. I would like to think that an older comedy would have just began with the idea of a Barbie lawyer who wins cases through her keen eye for trivial fashion detail, then pitted her against an equally “specialized” lawyer. But as I said, the whole film serves to make us feel good that Elle feels good about herself, that if you “follow your dream” you will succeed, blah blah blah.
I’m curious whether Legally Blonde 2 has a bit more to say about the character…but then again I’m not that curious.
Link: There’s an interesting interpretation of the film as a love letter to itself over at Metaphilm, where a writer simply called Kirby sees Elle representing the film itself, trying to ingratiate itself into the minds of the anti-Hollywood intelligentsia. I think the essay falls apart at the end, but I do like the line: “I have stopped making conscious decisions and have become the dreaming mind of the world.” Is he quoting somebody?