Eight ways to say, ”I love you, Glutton” on Valentine’s Day
I never understood flowers. Why pay an obscene amount of money for the privilege of watching something die right before your very eyes? Heart-shaped chocolate boxes aren’t much better. In fact, for a straight-up chocolate traditionalist, they are something of a horror show — instead of chomping down on unfiltered choco-goodness, you find yourself assaulted by coconut fillings and weird pink stuff. (The boxes without some sort of key or guide as to what each piece contains what are especially annoying.) And don’t even get me started on greeting cards. Four bucks for a picture of Snoopy (occasionally in the guise of one ”Joe Cool”) holding up an ”I Love You” sign? That’s just plain insulting. I realize all this makes me sound like some sort of miserly, Cupid-hating Valentine’s Day Scrooge, but none of that stuff interests me in the least. I’d just as soon be spared these things on Feb. 14. That’s not to say there aren’t a few items I wouldn’t mind being hooked up with. In fact, should any friends or family be reading (and that’s a big should), I’ve compiled a list of things that could make for great Valentine’s Day gifts:
Never having to hear or read the words ”Anna Nicole Smith” ever again. Sorry, I don’t understand the fascination. The whole thing is just sordid and sad, and the media’s obsession over it, frankly, makes me sick to my stomach.
To be immortalized in animated form on The Simpsons. I’m actually being a bit greedy on this one. The folks over at Adult Swim — before they started using marketing ploys to set off terror alarmists — animated me in an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law. And Mad magazine once made fun of me in comic-book form. But I can’t help but feel I will not have truly lived until I am mocked courtesy of the finest primetime entry in history. Look, Simpsons people, you don’t even have to give me any lines — just have me in the background getting bashed in the head with a mallet by Sideshow Rahim or something. I can take it.
10 Hours. This is to get back all the time in my life I wasted watching the 2003 Fox reality show, Mr. Personality. You remember Mr. Personality — it was that one in which a woman named Hayden chose from a posse of suitors, the twist being that all of the men — including one who tried to subliminally brainwash her — wore stupid-looking masks the entire time. It was hosted by that pillar of highbrow taste and etiquette, Monica Lewinsky. I actually woke up in a cold sweat the other night recalling this program and the fact that I sat through the entire thing. I am not a proud man.
One of the Dixie Chicks’ Grammys. Oh, like they’ll even miss it. I bet Pasdar scored one. Speaking of awards, an Oscar for Kevin O’Connell would be nice.
One ticket to the upcoming Police reunion tour. Just so I can stand in the front row with a big ”Canary in Coal Mine” sign. Am I still the only one who finds that song title amusing? You know what…don’t answer that.
A Winchester ’73 rifle. So I can shoot my television set the next time Nikki and Paulo show up on Lost. Not since Cousin Oliver completely blew The Brady Bunch‘s even boy-to-girl ratio out of the water have newcomers been so cringe-worthy. Lost creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse claim that we will grow to appreciate them. Not if there’s a big hole in my TV set, I won’t.
A glossy signed picture of a scantily clad Monica Bellucci. Granted, I don’t see my wife tracking this down for me anytime soon. Hey, I’m just a fan of her…”work.”
A time machine. So I can travel back to 2001 and stop According to Jim from ever making it on the air. It won’t be easy — that Jim Belushi is tenacious! — but maybe I can rig a few focus groups, get my hands on the final cut of the pilot and add in some breakdancing werewolves…basically, whatever it takes the suits at ABC to think better of unleashing this upon the rest of the country. Consider this my Valentine’s Day gift to all of you.
ASK A 19-TIME OSCAR NOMINEE
As loyal Glutton readers know, we’ve been hitting the campaign trail hard and heavy for Kevin O’Connell to win an Oscar in the Sound Mixing category for his work in Apocalypto. Kevin’s received a lot of support from you guys, and a lot of great questions, but many of you wanted to know the same thing: What exactly is sound mixing? Kevin, enlighten us, please!
”Sound mixing is where every single element of a motion picture — all the dialogue, all the music, and all the sound effects — come together to create the sound design for the motion picture. What most people don’t understand is that sound mixers are given thousands and thousands of raw elements. For example, if it’s a chase scene, you have sirens, you have car crashes, you have bullets, you have ricochets, you have guns. We have to decide [the level] of every element, what dimension [it] should have in the theater — the left or the right side, depending on where the action is — and then we have to put everything into perspective so that it feels like it is actually happening.”
Okay, Kevin, well how the hell do you judge a category like that?
”It’s a really tough category. [People] shouldn’t think a musical gets best sound just because it is a musical. They shouldn’t see a big loud movie and think, oh, best sound because it’s big and loud. None of that really has anything to do with it. I’ve been nominated for movies like A Few Good Men and Terms of Endearment that didn’t have any action in them. And they weren’t musicals. It’s just like any other craft. Our job should be invisible. You should feel like you’re at the Coliseum if you’re watching Gladiator; you should feel like you’re at the racetrack if you’re watching Talladega Nights. It should never take you out of the movie. You don’t want to draw attention to it. We tell the story through sound.”
That may sound like a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo, but I liken it to a football referee: The best ones you never notice because they compliment the game instead of taking it over. Let’s hope O’Connell scores a touchdown on Oscar night. Honestly, I’m getting excited just thinking about it! True, that’s partly because he has promised to thank me from the stage and I am a sucker for a shout-out in front of 30 million people, but as I’ve also said, Kevin is an insanely decent guy with insanely impressive credentials.
OBSESSION OF THE WEEK
You used to not be able to find a bigger Amazing Race fan that yours truly. And then came the abomination known as Family Edition. I still haven’t recovered, taking in only scattered episodes of the past few seasons. (The fact that the episodes constantly started late because of football games sure didn’t help.) But I can already feel myself geeking out over the upcoming Amazing Race: All-Stars. Unlike the All-Star editions of Survivor and Big Brother, which totally went against the shows’ concepts of forcing strangers to coexist in a strange environment, Amazing Race is less about backstabbing and social interaction, and more about trying your best not to be late or get lost, so there’s much less of a downside to bringing back familiar faces. And who doesn’t want to see if pint-sized Charla will once again attempt to carry a 55-lb. slab of meat on her back? Who doesn’t want to find out if Danny and Oswald will suddenly put the game on hold to go on a fabulous shopping spree? And who isn’t pumped to see the original American anti-heroes Kevin and Drew taking on the competition — and each other — with full force? So bring on Phil Keoghan and his insanely played-out eyebrow arch. It’s time for the Race to be Amazing once again.
They are Hollywood’s first family — the Baldwins. But this fearsome foursome have also been responsible for some pretty scary screen time. This week, we pay tribute (and I use that word loosely) to… The Five Worst Projects To Star a Baldwin.
1) Stephen Baldwin in Bio-Dome
His co-star was Pauly Shore. Any other questions?
2) Daniel Baldwin in Car 54, Where are You?
Perhaps the worst film adaptation of an old TV show ever, and that’s saying something for a category that also includes Addams Family Values, Rocky & Bullwinkle, and The Dukes of Hazzard.
3) William Baldwin in Virus
The bad news — he’s starring in a movie with Jamie Lee Curtis about an alien-turned-robot hanging out on a Russian ship. The good news — well…there is no good news.
4) Stephen Baldwin in Celebrity Mole: Yucatan
As if his participation in Celebrity Mole: Hawaii wasn’t bad enough, Baldwin had to come back and embarrass himself a second time in this Ahmad Rashad-hosted reality show.
5) Alec Baldwin in The Shadow
I love Alec Baldwin. He’s hilarious on 30 Rock, was wicked awesome in The Departed, and is perhaps the best Saturday Night Live host ever. But he was unintentionally comical in this 1930’s-era crime-fighting superhero flick. The film (an adaptation of an old radio play), tries to be all dark and foreboding like Tim Burton’s Batman, but just comes off as second rate and silly.
We already fielded some questions for Kevin. Now’s your turn to let me have it. And E.B. Berman is ready to roll…
Dalton, I read your column every week and find it both entertaining and insightful. However, this week’s column troubles me. Now, your Oscar campaign on behalf of Kevin O’Connell is warranted, and it proves you are the good citizen I always suspected you were. My problem is not with Mr. O’Connell or your patronage of same. My problem is with its placement. This is the second week running where you covered this same territory. It seems to me that this, for you, is something of an…obsession! You seem far more obsessed with the ignominy visited upon Mr. O’Connell by the Dreamgirls-hating Academy than by Sarah Silverman’s new TV show. Sarah Silverman should have gotten the essay/editorial treatment. Kevin O’Connell should be highlighted. —E.B. Berman
A fair point, E.B., but honestly, other than saying that I thought Sarah Silverman’s show was funny, I didn’t have a whole heck of a lot to write about it. Plus, Kevin O’Connell takes a back seat to no man! Or woman.
I used to HATE Sarah Silverman’s material, even though I wanted so much to like her. My boyfriend and I were psyched to watch Jesus Is Magic and then we just sat through the whole thing with blank stares. Her new show, however, is hilarious! My theory is that we must find her jokes funny in the context of a situation rather than by themselves. And having Brian Posehn on [the show] also helps. —Katie Muzik
Agreed on Brian Posehn. I love anyone that used to be on Mr. Show (and that includes Jay Johnston and Paul F. Tompkins, who also appear on The Sarah Silverman Program as cops). Interesting theory about context being the key to comedy, although that would make Silverman the exact opposite of Louis C.K., who is very funny as a stand-up, yet whose sitcom, Lucky Louie, was beyond painful. Maybe he should tell Silverman’s jokes on stage and she should act his out in a show — then everybody’s a winner!
I think the best Super Bowl halftime memory was U2. When they did the scroll of all the names of the victims of 9/11, you have to admit you got choked up. Also, although you are a VERY manly heterosexual, you don’t need to prove it by dissing Brian Boitano! Just leave him and his one-armed trademark ”Taino” Lutz jump alone! :-) —Robin Jacobsen
Sorry, Robin, but I am much more of a Scott Hamilton man….You know what? That didn’t come out right. Scratch that. Anyway, as far as U2 goes: Yes, they are probably the reigning Super Bowl halftime kings, although I’d be down if they just went back to marching bands. How can you not get jazzed about a guy walking down the field with a big tuba. And by big tuba I don’t mean a…uh, never mind. Wow, this entry isn’t going so well. Let’s just move on to the next question…
Dalton, you’re hilarious! Now that I’ve buttered you up, perhaps you can answer a question that has always plagued me: Why oh why are comedy performances always less [appreciated] than dramatic ones, particularly in the lead-acting Oscars? Sure, they might get nominated, but rarely do they actually win. People are always surprised when comedic actors can do drama — [and they] are usually successful — but rarely [does it work] the other way [around]. I’ve always felt that a sense of humor and/or the ability to do comedy is a greater gift than the ability to make someone cry or choke up. The last comedy-performance winner was Frances McDormand. Am I the only one to think that Meryl Streep’s performance this year was sheer genius and should be rewarded with the Little Gold Man? I’m not dissing Helen Mirren, who was wonderful, but Meryl ruled! Just asking… —Selma Hazouri
Excellent question, Selma. And you illustrate it perfectly in that comedic actors like Robin Williams and Jim Carrey do seem to have had more success crossing over into dramatic territory than dramatic actors do into comedy. Even when you do have someone make a successful transition with a hit going the other way (like Robert De Niro in Meet the Parents), it’s usually more because they were carried by good material and were able to lean on seasoned comics (for De Niro, that would be Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson). I’ve long believed comedic star turns have received the shaft from Oscar voters, and that not enough respect is given to the intricacies involved in putting together a great, funny performance. If you want to get an Oscar nomination these days, all you need to do is play a real-life person, seeing as the past few years such roles have dominated the lead acting categories. Of course, many of the old standbys work: a cheating spouse, any sort of tyrant, and, of course, someone who is mentally challenged. You don’t find many comedies that offer these types of roles, unless you’re talking about Johnny Knoxville posing as a Special Olympics contestant in The Ringer, and I don’t think he’s getting nominated anytime soon.
What are some of the greatest overlooked comedic performances? What do you want for Valentine’s Day? And which do you prefer: U2 or marching band? Let me know, and send in your questions, comments, and quibbles to firstname.lastname@example.org or just fill out the handy-dandy form below. See ya next week!