May 31, 2010

Justin Bieber and Jeremy Renner for MTV

This is a funny little promo for next Sunday's MTV Movie Awards which makes fun of 3D, Justin Bieber and Jeremy Renner all at once.  

May 28, 2010

Mapping the NYC Subway System

After more than 10 years, a new version of the NYC Subway Map is coming out next month.  There is a write-up in today's TIMES talking about the changes to the new map; Manhattan is 30 percent wider, no more weekend schedule info (which was often wrong), less detail on bus connections.  But overall, the map sticks with the approach the MTA took starting in the late 1970s, after years of complaints about the iconic and somewhat modernist map by Massimo Vegnelli (pictured here).

Of course, this being the age of the Internet, the MTA does not have the last word on it's own maps anymore.  There is a competing map, downloadable to your iPhone, which has more than 250,000 fans of it's somewhat retro approach.  Using the Vegnelli design as a starting point, the Kick Map goes back to the future while also adding some of the more familiar surface references too, like streets and landmarks.  In fact, it's an admitted compromise between the two warring map factions.

In some ways, it is curious that NYC is the only major US city that takes the topographical approach.  The argument is that there needs to be a more direct connection to the street because there are so many tourists and new arrivals from all over the world.  However, tourist-stricken Washington DC has stuck with it's own modernist map since the system debuted in 1976.  Despite the MTA's improvements, I think the Kick Map has got the right idea for clarity and ease of use.  Now all I need is an iPhone....

May 27, 2010

Whitney Biennial Pulls 3 All-Niters

Starting at midnight last night, the Whitney Museum will be open 24 hours a day until Friday at midnight.  It's the final days of the museum's Biennial exhibit, featuring the work of more than 100 artists.  

The all-niter concept was the work of an artist too: Los Angeles conceptual artist Michael Asher. His art consists of altering the hours of operations of museums and other institutions....really.  So he made the proposal to have the Whitney be open for a whole week but the museum couldn't afford the staff for that sort of operation so they cut it down to three days.  Still, it should be a unique experience to stop by the museum at 4am to see the latest the art world has to offer.  And admission is pay what you want. 

May 26, 2010

NetPix: The Men Who Stare At Goats

Last November, a weird little movie called "The Men Who Stare At Goats" was released in the annual run up to awards season.  Unfortunately, it didn't hit with audiences or critics.  It had a A-list cast (George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges) with a  Z-list premise; a story about the history of pysch-ops in the U.S. Army from the 1970s to the war in Iraq.  Not exactly the stuff that Oscar dreams are made of. 

However, I'm happy to report this quirky little movie is a real treat.  It tells a mostly true story about the bizarre goings-on in the post-Vietnam era Army which led to the formation of a unit of so-called Jedi warriors who thought they could win battles with their minds.  Apparently, President Ronald Reagan was such a fan of their "work" that he kept the unit going even after it hit some seriously Congressional skepticism.  

As for the movie, it's kinda like a very modern Bing Crosby-Bob Hope road movie....On The Road to Baghdad. It has a certain shaggy dog charm and is surprisingly entertaining.  Expertly directed by first-timer Grant Heslow, the film follows a journalist (played by McGregor) and a former Army psychic kook (played by Clooney) as they make their way from Kuwait into the war zone.  It's all inspired by the true story of the Army's pysch-ops as reported by Jon Ronson in his 2004 book .

The best thing I can say about this movie is that I had absolutely no clue where it was all going, which is a total rarity in mainstream American filmmaking these days.  The movie is filled with surprises, and laughs and even some genuine emotion.  It's also beautifully shot by cinematographer Roger Elswit, who has made some stunning images for many of Paul Thomas Anderson's movies. And yes....George Clooney does kill a goat by staring at it.  He also kills the audience too.  Is there any role this guy cannot handle?    

May 25, 2010

LOST and The Final Episode Conundrum

There is an inherent problem with final episodes of TV shows--they usually suck.  OK, so maybe that is a gross generalization but seriously, can you think of a final episode that was universally loved?  Maybe the wrap-up for "The Mary Tyler Moore" show, but that was what....almost 40 years ago?  Since then its been a history of train wreck swan songs....from "Seinfeld" to "Sex and The City" to "Will and Grace".  

Anyway, as LOST fans bitch and moan this week about questions answered, unanswered and essentially ignored (not to mention the big dopey reveal at the end), I have to say that the problem is not with LOST itself but with the way American television operates.  I say American because in the UK, where series usually don't last more than 2 or 3 six-episode seasons (other than Dr. Who & East Enders).  Their system works beautifully because the shows are more like mini-series.  But series creators in the UK don't have to deal in the harsh capitalism that drives American broadcasting.  Here, if a show is a success, it must then run for at least 5 seasons so there are enough episodes for syndication.  Then, once a show is generating so much cash it's hard for the network to turn that faucet off so shows often outlive their premises by many years.  For example, "Friends" was fresh and funny for about 3 years...but by season 10?  It was staler than 10 year old bread. 

The essential nature of American TV shows is that you get to hang out with the same group of characters week after week and nothing really changes.  Witness the success of "The Simpsons" going strong after 20 years.  But, if a series has to end, that is often a massive change which often forces shows to operate totally outside their comfort zone.  Remember the mawkish finale of "MASH"?  It was so far removed from the average, hilarious episode that it might as well have been another series entirely.  

One show I can think of which had a beautiful ending lasted only 13 episodes; Judd Apatow's 80's flashback "Freaks and Geeks".  Apatow knew the show was doomed so he was able to craft a final episode that worked and still felt like an episode of "Freaks and Geeks".  As for the LOST team, they knew they were doomed in an opposite way. They admitted that they had no grand scheme for the show when it started so when it became a worldwide mega-hit, they, like their characters, got stuck on that island for five more years than they had planned.  So, like most TV writers, they have been making it up as they went along and I mean that in a good way.  They were very creative and clever as they turned 13 episodes into 113.  So I'd cut them a little slack on number 114.

May 24, 2010

Animation Ad for Olympus Cameras

This is a really extraordinary animated ad for Olympus digital cameras that was supposedly made with images shot on an Olympus.  Even though it's essential a commercial for Olympus it's a cleverly conceived and beautifully made film.  I wonder how long it took to very sunny day or multiple, equally sunny days.  There wasn't much info on the video at YouTube other than the details that 355 pictures were printed to make it and the director is guy named Takeuchi Taljin.  Enjoy!  

May 21, 2010

Goldfrappe's Awesome New Video: Goths v. Spandex

A good friend of mine who knows my taste for 80's Spandex, glitter and all things Xanadu sent me this new Goldrappe video yesterday which is totally awesome.  It's a battle to the death between aerobics instructors lead by a messianic ONJ figure with a massive blonde, vintage perm.  Needless to say Spandex wins as her feather-haired minions turn into glittery vampires after being zapped by faux Olivia's animated Xanadu-esque neon beams.  Genius!  And the song's not too bad either....  ;)

May 19, 2010

Worst Sexy Album Covers Of All Time

This is a funny feature from  Remember Cracked magazine?  It was MAD for teenagers back in the day.  Except I thought it had gone the way of glitter iron-on tees.  I didn't know it was still around.  And maybe it isn't.  Except for this website. 

But the list they've compiled here is very funny and has some astounding images in very bad taste. You have been warned.  Semi-NSFW.

May 18, 2010

Gentlemen, Start Your Tunnel Boring Machine

More than 6 stories underneath 2nd avenue, a massive 50 ton Tunnel Boring Machine has started its slow march south from 92nd Street to 63rd.  The link above to Second Avenue Sagas has some great pics and video that Ben shot at the official ceremony last Friday.

I've posted before about the Launch Box for the TBM and now, it's on its way....chewing up a dozen yards of earth a day as it makes it's 30 block journey south.  The downtown tunnel will arrive at 63rd Street in December of 2011 and then they will go back and do the uptown tunnel.  Trains will be running in 2016 and, of course, we'll believe that when we see it.  But this is a huge step forward in the long-delayed expansion of the NYC subway.

May 17, 2010

Singing Soap Operas

As daytime soap operas disappear, they are resorting to more and more desperate to tactics to grab viewers waning attention; shooting on location, hot gay romances and now terribly executed musical numbers. 

Brian Moylan at Gawker posted some video from last weeks "One Life To Love" where they unleashed their own take on the Go-Go's "Our Lips Our Sealed". The number kicks in at a beauty salon as part of a run up to prom in the fictional town where the show is set.  It's pretty awful, like something from the 80's Mousekeeters Club (the one Britney was on) except for one difference...none of these girls can sing or dance. 

It all seems like a lame ploy to grab some GLEE fans as the soaps try to postpone their slow but inevitable trip down the TV drain.  

May 14, 2010

Jedi Junkies

My friend and fellow filmmaker Jerry Kolber has been working on a doc about Star Wars fanatics called "Jedi Junkies".  There's a trailer up on Daily Motion this week and the full movie will be available on DVD May 20th.  I love the guy building a life-sized Millennium Falcon in his backyard!  l definitely want to check this one out....

May 13, 2010

The Original Calvin Klein Underwear Model

In 1982, Tom Hintaus went from being a moderately successful pole vaulter to a worldwide sensation as the first Calvin Klein underwear model.  Until that iconic image appeared in Times Square, underwear ads had, oddly enough, never been innately sexual.  

They were usually straight shots of very average looking guys wearing briefs over what looked like two other pairs of briefs so they resembled anatomically correct Ken dolls. The closest they came to selling a little sex was maybe Jim Palmer in his underwear for Jockey back in the late 70's. But he was smiling and friendly.....the guy next door in his underwear by chance.  Tom is more like the Greek god of sex.  In fact, the image was shot on an island in Greece by photographer Bruce Weber. 

I remember seeing this poster in Times Square on a high school field trip in 1983.  I was so hypnotized that I nearly got run over.  It made such an impression on me that I put a little homage to it in my film "Pool Days" when the main character sees a different Calvin Klein image in a department store and can't turn away. 

Anyway, all this is on my mind today after reading an article in today's TIMES which serves as a retrospective of Calvin Klein underwear models.  Fashion writer Eric Wilson takes note of the fact that three models have gone on to star in Janet Jackson videos and two have been nominated for Academy Awards.  Current model Kellan Lutz is causing a stir with his roles on 90210 and the "Twilight" series.  And what's Mr. Hintnaus up to these days?  He's 52 now, works as contractor in Hawaii, but says he would not be averse to coming out of underwear model retirement for a line of briefs for Boomer men.  

May 12, 2010

Lady Gaga Takes on Grade School

This video is flying around the Internets today....a sixth grader's interpretation of Lady Gaga "Paparazzi". This kid has got serious talent!  But what is even more fascinating is watching his classmates in the background who look somewhat stunned and speechless.  And his big grin at the end is awesome too!

I can't imagine this sort of recital when I was in elementary school.  It was all Chopin and John Phillip Sousa.  The Gaga Effect continues....stay tuned!

May 11, 2010

The Drone Wars

Below the headlines about Elena Kagan's nomination and the oil spill in Louisiana, there was a small story in today's TIMES about a drone attack that killed 14 militants in the western tribal region of Pakistan.  Drones fired nearly 20 missles in the bombing.  

Carried out by the CIA and directed from a facility in Colorado, these drone attacks have been stepped up in the days since the failed Times Square bombing.  This despite the fact that there has been some reporting that Shazad carried out his plot because he was angry over the drone attacks.

Though it's been something of an open secret, we are basically engaged in a third front now in the 9-year "War on Terror".  It's somewhat bizzare to think it's a war of machines piloted from half a world away. It almost makes George Lucas look like a modern prophet.

May 10, 2010

Something Special From 1991

I found this bit of archival footage on D-Listed over the weekend, posted to celebrate the birthday of Vegas-cheester Clint Holmes.  It's the opening number of the Miss America pageant from September, 1991.  It's sorta fabulous and sorta freaky and sorta gay...but then again, the gays were probably the only ones watching at this point.  Correction: gays and grandmas.  I missed out on it that year as it was in the middle of my college/grad school TV Blackout (1987-1994).  But thank the Internet gods at YouTube for keeping the shoulder pads and baggy tuxedos alive! 

May 7, 2010

A New Music Video

This is a new cute music video I saw on a friend's Facebook page.  It's from a band called Hot Chip and it's their song "One Life Stand".  It's quirky and fun.  I can dance to it.  Hopefully you can too....have a great weekend! :)

May 6, 2010

Another Homophobe Bites The Dust

One of the founders of the extremely homophobic Family Research Council and an infamous "ex-gay" activist, George Rekers is in the midst of a gay scandal. Quel suprise!  He apparently hired a 20 year old guy from to accompany him on a trip. Rekkers claims that he needed the young buck to carry his luggage as he is old and infirm.  This might be a reasonable explanation except for the fact that suddenly, the Family Research Council has wiped his existence from their website and also now says they're not really sure if he was actually one of the founders.  Hmmmm.....

Andy Towle has extensive coverage of yet another homophobe whose holy, sanctimonious curtain is pulled back to reveal a scared and lonely man.  This sort of story has played out a lot in recent years, most famously with the Ted Haggard soap opera.  Amazingly, William Shakespeare got it right a few centuries ago when he wrote, "methinks the lady doth protest waaaay too much." Alright...emphasis and extra a's added :)

May 5, 2010

Art On ChatRoulette

An artist has been surfing the global chat wave and creating instant online portraits of those he encounters.  His name is Paz Bernstein and he's located in Israel.  It's definitely the most creative use of ChatRoulette I've seen.  Stay tuned for his last portrait at the end.....a sleeping beauty.  The perfect subject.

May 4, 2010

Great GLEE Preview For Tonite's Episode

Last week's Burt Bacharach "Home" episode was one of the best of the season; musically, thematically, story-wise....and it even had a scene in a roller disco.  Cha-ching!  But this little preview of tonite's GLEE looks like it could be seriously funny.  

I love that the brain-dead cheerleader and her bizarre non-sequitur's are becoming such a regular part of the show too.  She is challenging Sue for consistently having all the quotable lines.

May 3, 2010

Jack In A Box w/Mary Testa

Michael Cyril Creighton is the star/creator of a cute little web series I've been following called "Jack In A Box". It's about the wacky adventures of an NYC theatre gay who works in a box office.  Recently, "Jack" left the box for greener pastures and went home to visit his mom and nutty aunt, played by Mary Testa and Alison Fraser. There are some hilarious bits of Mary and Alison talking pop culture w/Jack.  This is one of my favorite episodes with two of my favorite B-way ladies. Check it out!