I Love It When A Mashup Comes Together

If you need help and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the Lost A-Team! Locke as Hannibal, Sawyer as Face, Jack as Murdoch and Hurly as B.A. Baracus – a great mix of the opening credits of the A-Team and most of the action scenes from Lost.

An Rx for Oscar

Suppose they held the Oscars and nobody came? While that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon, if the show carries on being such an anti-climactic snoozefest people will continue to tune out and I’d rather not see that happen. We need to have common cultural experiences and film is a powerful medium to rally around, especially as the Academy Awards are opening up to more international filmmakers and stories. Hollywood has been exporting to the world for decades and we’re now seeing the results.

But even while Oscar is opening its golden arms to a diverse range of movies, the telecast itself is falling behind the times. As an industry that is geared towards entertaining and getting big bang for the buck, how is it that the telecast is so tedious? Sure, the show is self-congratulatory, but I expect that. As an award show put on by the some of the most privileged, navel-gazers on earth, it’s bound to be.

What needs to go are some of the technical categories – sound editing and mixing, art direction and makeup. The typical movie fan can judge the rest of the categories, but those four should be moved to the technical awards. They will still get Oscars for them, just not in the televised part. I’d also like to see the original song category dropped altogether – so often these songs are played over the closing credits and add nothing to the film. They are also pure torture in the middle of a show that is already too long.

The Academy should also move up the date of the show again to try and cut the legs out of all the other shows that have cropped up over the years. Something needs to be done to make the awards not seem like a foregone conclusion. Other than Alan Arkin taking the best supporting actor Oscar, the other five top categories were locked in weeks — if not months — ago. It hardly makes for compelling TV.

Despite all that, there were still some things to love about the show. Forest Whitaker’s heartfelt love of the craft; Jack Black threatening to beat Peter O’ Toole with his Nickelodeon award; host Ellen DeGeneres getting Steven Spielberg to take her photo with Clint Eastwood using her point ‘n’ shoot digital. And, of course, it was great to see Martin Scorsese finally get the Oscar that he so desperately wanted, even if it wasn’t for his best work – but that’s a whole other rant.

So You Want to Win an Oscar (Pool)

Head here for 2008's version of
winning an Oscar Pool.
Despite what the media is trying to tell you, the Oscars are likely to be a dull affair, at least in terms of the mystery of who the big winners will be. The top categories have been set for weeks, with big wins at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild awards, BAFTAs and all the other guilds and associations. But there is a vested interest in making people believe there could be an upset, otherwise why would anyone watch or read all the lead up?

Of course I will be watching and needed to fill out my ballot for the party. So I’ve decided to share my process, for what it’s worth. The two best places for top-notch Oscar picks are Film Experience – which has the best in-depth analysis of how the votes will go – and Entertainment Weekly, which has an unerring ability to pick the winners. I’ve also checked in on Roger Ebert’s picks and the latest Las Vegas odds on the show. All are below, with quotes and my picks at the end. Share and enjoy!

Best Picture
Film Experience: The Departed
“on account of its solid performance in each quadrant of success: box office + critics + media support + precursors.”
Entertainment Weekly: The Departed
Vegas Odds: The Departed (Odds: 5-2)
Roger Ebert: Babel
Me: The Departed
“I haven’t had a chance to see Iwo Jima and The Queen doesn’t interest me in the latest, so of the other three I’m going with The Departed. Sunshine was fun and I’d chose Babel to win, but this feels like Scorsese’s year.

Director
FE: Martin Scorsese
EW: Martin Scorsese
“Whatever happens in Best Picture, this one is in the bag.”
Vegas: Martin Scorsese (Odds: 5-1)
Ebert: Martin Scorsese
Me: Martin Scorsese
“Looks like the Academy is going to make up for years of snubs, both picture and director with this one, even though it wasn’t his best. ‘Tis the way of Oscar.

Actor
FE: Forest Whitaker
Forest Whitaker's long lead will pay off on Oscar night.
EW: Forest Whitaker
Vegas: Forest Whitaker (Odds: 2-5)
“Run Forest Run! It looks like Whitaker can start walking now with the lead he has built.”
Ebert: Forest Whitaker
“Oscar voters love it when actors remove themselves from the typecasting game and play a totally original character.”
Me: Forest Whitaker
“A great transformation – Whitaker always loses himself in the role and this was no exception.”

Actress
FE: Helen Mirren
Exactly as expected by everyone and their mother and their friends and their dog and their dogs fleas.
EW: Helen Mirren
Vegas: Helen Mirren (Odds: 1-15)
“With all due respect to the other nominees, I just can't see Helen on the canvas”
Ebert: Helen Mirren
Me: Helen Mirren
“The only mystery here is why anyone would write down another name on their ballot.”

Supporting Actor
FE: Eddie Murphy
EW: Eddie Murphy
Vegas: Eddie Murphy (Odds: 4-5)
Ebert: Eddie Murphy
“It would be an upset if anyone else wins this category.”
Me: Eddie Murphy
“Who am I to argue with such prognostication?”

Supporting Actress
FE: Jennifer Hudson
EW: Jennifer Hudson
Vegas: Jennifer Hudson (Odds: 3-5)
“I still believe Jennifer is going to grab a victory, but if there is a surprise in the four top acting categories, it's this one.”
Ebert: Jennifer Hudson
“Hudson's story is the kind beloved by movie audiences”
Me: Jennifer Hudson
“See above – these categories have been set in stone.”

Original Screenply
FE: Little Miss Sunshine
EW: Little Miss Sunshine
Ebert: Babel
“The academy will honor "Babel," not only because of its complex achievement, but also because of the thought and care that went into it.”
Me: Little Miss Sunshine
“After all the talk of Little Miss Sunshine being the Best Picture dark horse, this will be the consolation prize.”

Adapted Screenplay
FE: The Departed
EW: The Departed
“Monahans fast-paced, talky script touches every base: suspense, intrigue and unexpected humour.”
Me: The Departed

Foreign Film
FE: Lives of Others
EW: Pan’s Labyrinth
Ebert: Pan’s Labyrinth
"Pan's Labyrinth" is fresh and innovative, and was rumored to be in the running for a best picture nomination. It is the one to beat.”
Me: Pan’s Labyrinth
“I would like to say Water, but opinion is leaning heavily to Pan’s Labyrinth, so I will too.”

Animated Film
FE: Cars
EW: Cars
“People love penguins. But probably not enough for Happy Feet to outpace the actor-friendly Cars.
Ebert: Cars
Me: Cars
“Never bet against Pixar.”

Documentary Feature
FE: An Inconvenient Truth
EW: An Inconvenient Truth
Ebert: An Inconvenient Truth
“I have only once in my almost 40 years as a film critic written these words: "You owe it to yourself to see this film." That was the power of Al Gore's movie about global warming.”
Me: An Inconvenient Truth
“Hollywood can’t say no to an issue, and they still feel bad that Al isn’t President, so they’ll give him the best thing they have.”

Cinematography
FE: Children of Men
EW: Children of Men
“Everyone who sees Children of Men comes out raving about those tracking shots, it will probably win.”
Me: Children of Men

Art Direction
FE: Pan's Labyinrth
EW: Dreamgirls
“Dreamgirls eye-popping stage sequences and meticulous ‘60s re-creations will take the prize.”
Me: Pan's Labyinrth

Costume Design
FE: Dreamgirls
“I’m predicting Dreamgirls by a hair or maybe a sequin. Voters do prefer musicals in this category.”
EW: Marie Antoinette
Me: Marie Antoinette

Editing
FE: Babel
EW: United 93
“The showier United has the edge.”
Me: Babel

Score
FE: Pan's Labyinrth
EW: The Queen
“So give this prize to The Queen’s Alexandre Desplat.”
Me: The Queen

Sound Mixing
FE: Dreamgirls
EW: Dreamgirls
“The Academy often goes for music-oriented films. So stay tuned for a Dreamgirls win.”
Me: Dreamgirls

Sound Editing
FE: Pirates 2
“I’m thinking this goes to Pirates of the Caribbean with ease. The winner of this category is usually big, loud, and actioney”
EW: Pirates 2
Me: Pirates 2

Song
FE: I Need to Wake Up – Inconvenient Truth
“I’ve always loved Melissa Etheridge and I think her power anthem “I Need To Wake Up” is a terrific straightforward match for the movie that houses it”
EW: Listen - Dreamgirls
Me: Listen - Dreamgirls

Visual FX
FE: Pirates 2
EW: Pirates 2
“Yo, ho, ho there’s no contest here.”
Me: Pirates 2

Make Up
FE: Pan's Labyrinth
“Pan's Labyrinth had stunning makeup effects. And they LOVE prosthetics when it comes to this prize.”
EW: Pan’s Labyrinth
Me: Pan's Labyrinth
Animated Short
FE: The Little Match Girl
EW: The Little Match Girl
Me: The Little Match Girl

Live Action Short
FE: Binta & The Great Idea
EW: Eramos Pocos
Me: Eramos Pocos

Documentary Short
FE: Blood of Yingzhou District
EW: Two Hands
Me: Recycled Life
“Because I need to go out on my own on something.”

From Heroes to Zeroes

What would you do with extraordinary powers? What if you had no powers at all? If you were just an ordinary person with a relatively pointless ability?

I Started a Joke...

It’s just not funny anymore, Britney. The quickie Vegas marriage and even quicker annulment was hilarious. The talentless hack that moved into your mansion and womb provided for some great eye-rolling moments. The Cheetos, the bare-feet-in-the-gas-station and the C-section barring upskirt photos were icing on the cake, but I’m finding it hard to keep laughing.

When the former pop princess entered a salon and shore off her locks in full view of the paparazzi before heading off to get tattoos on her neck and wrist it seemed more of an act of desperation than another chapter in the Wacky World of Ms. Spears. To be sure it was a plea for attention, but something had changed. It seemed sad and bewildering.

Many of her fans and former aides agreed, calling on Spears to get help of some kind. She heeded that call today, checking herself back into rehab – for what, nobody is saying. Rehabilitation clinics are the retreat of choice for celebrities these days but perhaps she could use some counseling on the underlying problems, not the substances she’s using to blot them out.

She finds herself at 25, a soon to be divorced single mother of two after a meteoric career that saw her go from the Mickey Mouse Club to headlining stadiums in a few short years. Now she is facing a dwindling if not dead career while the bright, blue light of fame continues to fry her crispy. The list of child stars that have imploded in their adult life is long and impressive, but Britney appeared to have escaped that fate, though perhaps the effects of being on display since before she was a teenager are beginning to take their toll.

Not that she hasn’t done well by her career – homes worth tens of millions of dollars and all the other toys and trinkets that come with that kind of wealth and fame. Nor would anyone consider her a shrinking violet, as there have been times where she couldn't say no to a camera. Those were the days when people could fantasize about her, taunt her, or both. These days the fantasies are creepy and the laughs cheap. The talking tan that is Ryan Seacrest smirked on American Idol tonight that contestant Phil Stacey, who’s bald, had a Britney Spears look. The joke couldn’t have died any faster – it was like he was in an empty room.

Of course not everyone feels the same. The Heathers (Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan) are reportedly as supportive as one could expect. At Hilton’s birthday bacchanalia in Las Vegas, the newly shorn star was the talk of the town. "Britney was the butt of everyone's joke. All the girls kept saying how fugly she looked as a baldie," one Hilton pal snickered. Esther's Haircutting Studio, where Brit went bald, has subsequently set up BuyBritneysHair.com and is offering her locks for the mere price of $1 million, but you also get the clipper she used, the Red Bull she drank at the salon and her cigarette lighter. It gets easier to understand why she had a breakdown.

Once she cleans up, she should sell the mansion and shun the media and attempt to live a quiet life. Fans, media and the paparazzi will always be interested but it will die down eventually. Take care of all your addictions, Britney, and that includes the one to fame.

Update - Feb. 21:
What was I thinking? Here I thought Brit had hit finally hit rock bottom and would chill out and dry out in rehab for a stint and try and pull it together. Nope, in less than 24 hours she checked out of her second clinic in a week. Nice - I've had longer flights than that. It's amazing, she's doing the impossible and making Kevin Federline look like the resposible one of the pair and he is now seeking an emergency custody hearing. Well done, I'm sure the judge will be impressed with your few hour dabble of a 45-day program. Good luck to you and hopefully the next post won't be about your hospitalization.

The King of All Reality Media

Fifteen minutes of fame? Not for Rob and Amber Mariano – the pair have parlayed their appearances on Survivor into careers on reality TV. In a boob tube schedule littered with reality shows, it’s an impressive feat to stand put from the crowd.

I have, for better or worse, watched every season of Survivor and other than Richard Hatch, Rupert, Rudy and the dude who said his grandmother died, I don’t remember a single one of them, and that includes the women who dropped trou for Playboy. That leaves over 200 people who were just fodder for the cameras, never to be seen again. Same goes with The Apprentice – I don’t remember the winners, let alone those fired by Trump. So when a couple manages not just one reality show, but six, they have clearly managed to capture the couch potato’s imagination.

Three seasons of Survivor, a reality TV wedding, Rob’s attempt to become a pro poker player in Rob and Amber: Against the Odds and now a second chance to win Amazing Race. One episode in and they have already easily cruised into the lead, displaying all the bravado that fans and competitors have come to love and hate. ''If you asked us who we'd really like to race against, there's really nobody. But if you ask anybody else, they'd say Rob and Amber,'' said Amber modestly on the premiere of Amazing Race: All-Stars.

It’s just fun to watch them as they have a genuine understanding of what they are there to do. Win. They aren’t there to make alliances, to come home with friends; it’s about winning the million and expanding the brand. They were so far out in front that they showed them completing the Checkpoint and then returned to the rest of the teams trying to find the Detour. It’s like professionals joined the Laff-A-Lympics.

Can You Picture That?

Ever watched a film and heard a song that so fits the scene that you forever associate it with the movie? The A.V. Club recently ran a list of the 15 Pop Songs Owned By Movie Scenes, which I found a link to over at Culture Kills. They both made lists – check ‘em out – but there were still a few songs that have gotten stuck in my mind over the years.

“Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),” Nancy Sinatra, Kill Bill, Vol. 1
A bloodied, beaten, quivering Uma Thurman as The Bride in the opening scene of director Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill will forever be connected to Nancy Sinatra’s song. It was such a perfect pairing that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t written for the scene. It also let me know there was more to her than “These Boot Were Made for Walking,” a song now ruined for me by Jessica Simpson and Pizza Hut.

“I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow,” The Soggy Bottom Boys, O Brother, Where Art Thou?
This wasn’t a song I’d ever heard before but it is now so inexorably tied to George Clooney’s spectacular lip-synching that I can’t imagine how any other film could ever use it. A film moment as unique as the Coen Bros. themselves.

“Miserlou,” Dick Dale, Pulp Fiction
Tarantino is clearly the master of the soundtrack, so even though his work was well represented by the A.V. Club and Culture Kills, there is always room for more. The opening guitar licks of Dick Dale was the beginning of a stunning film experience and opened me up to the world of surf guitar. “Everybody be cool, this is a robbery…”

“Perfect Day,” Lou Reed, Trainspotting
The outstanding song of Trainspotting is without a doubt Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life,” but that one’s been taken. The other, music-laden scene that has never left my head is of Renton sinking into the floor after overdosing on heroin and being dumped at the hospital. For a brief moment we thought of using this as the first dance at our wedding, but wisely thought the better of it.

“Bohemian Rhapsody,” Queen, Wayne’s World
The best head banging ever captured on film in a scene that just nails the exuberant goofiness of the characters. I’ve tried to recreate this moment at karaoke many times but have never quite gotten it right. Party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth.

“Singing in the Rain,” Gene Kelly, A Clockwork Orange
“You ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence?” I cannot hear this song without imagining somebody taking a brutal beating. I saw the Gene Kelly original years later, but even that could not erase the images from my mind.

“Sympathy for the Devil,” Rolling Stones, C.R.A.Z.Y.
It’s Christmas Eve in a Montreal cathedral in the ‘70s and a teenaged boy named Zac is getting though the service with the help of some psychotropic substances, when the choir begins singing “Ooo, who, who, Ooo, who, who” as he rises to the rafters with a Jesus Christ pose only to land back at his family’s home. A fantastic scene.

“Wise Up,” Aimee Mann, Magnolia
In the midst of the film all of the characters are alone, but they all begin singing Aimee Mann’s “Wise Up” wherever they were. Very powerful, but don’t take my word for it – watch it yourself.

Ain’t No Cure For Love

Nothing says love like having five would-be fathers for your baby. The potential sperm donors are lining up to claim parentage of Anna Nicole Smith’s bundle of money baby and each is stranger than the next. There’s photographer Larry Birkhead, her lawyer Howard K. Stern, her bodyguard Alexander Denk, and the two truly bizarre: Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband Prince Frederic von Anhalt and Anna Nicole’s long-dead husband J. Howard Marshall via an artificial insemination. What a romantic tale – she inspires us even in death!

Speaking of odd couples, Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise are teaming up for a big screen version of The Hardy Boys – The Mystery of Studio Greenlighting, I assume.

But enough of the mushy stuff, time to hit something. Now you too can make like an over-reacting Boston bomb squad and as you try and take out as many Lite Brite versions of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force Moonites as possible. It’s like Whack-a-Mole, so of course I couldn’t resist. When I was done my haircut rating was hipster. I’m assuming that’s a good thing. Despite all the hype, rating for ATHF aren’t improving, leading the head of the Cartoon Network to resign last week over the controversy. This proves the lesson learnt by Snakes on a Plane – just because something is a web phenomenon doesn’t mean people will watch it.

Which, inevitably, leads me to Vanilla Ice. The infamous white rapper, who wishes he was a C-list celeb, has been hired by TurboTax to promote their Tax Rap contest. Rob Van Winkle busts out the finance rhymes and lays down the gauntlet for Kevin Ferderline as the two battle for the King of Self parody crown.

The Customer is Always Wrong

I bought some music the other day and I felt like a chump. I could have downloaded it, with ease, for free, but I didn’t. I could have bought it for less online, but I didn’t. I purchased the full price, CD version and people looked at me like I was crazy.

Why not get it free? It’s out there at the click of a button. You can get the single, the album, or the entire discography in a zip file, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. If the variety store at the end of the street had bags of chips sitting out that I could take whenever I wanted I wouldn’t do it, and I really, really love chips. (Mmmm, salt and vinegar) Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Now I’m no saint – I’ve got my share of illegal downloads. I sample bands I’ve never heard of to find out if I’d like them, but if I get more than a few songs I go get the album. I’ve also picked up some music that I already own, but not in a digital format.

So why not pick it up from an authorized digital retailer like iTunes or Puretracks? The short answer is DRM: Digital Rights Management or Digital Restrictions Management if you’re not so hot on the technology. Count me in the latter group. When you buy music on the web, you are essentially renting the tunes. There are restrictions on copying, where they can be played and how often they can be shared. Compare that to the CD, which I can play wherever, copy as many times as I like and is still even after a hard drive meltdown. Sure, you can find ways around the DRM, but then you’re right back at the filching music conundrum.

And who does DRM restrict? Anybody who wants to get the music for free can – it only penalizes those who actually decide to pay. But now there is an unlikely ally who also doesn’t think much of DRM either – Apple CEO Steve Jobs, whose company is the creator of the almighty iPod and dominates the legal download market. Last week Jobs called on the major labels to drop DRM altogether.

"Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat,” wrote Jobs. “If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store."

Will the labels heed the call? Not any time soon. Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman called Job’s suggestion “completely without logic or merit” while EMI is mulling over the idea. Dropping DRM won’t solve all the industries ills, but it will at least be a step towards treating music fans like criminals. Then they can get to work on a perpetual content license so I don’t have to keep buying music that I’ve already bought a couple of times.

More Real Than Reality

Survivor was on last night and I felt like checking if it was a rerun. Not even two months after Yul was crowned Sole Survivor another group of castaways are bickering on a beach in Fiji.

When did this happen? Last season there was a huge build-up over what turned out to be a non-controversial separation of the races. This season, nothing. I admit I haven’t been keeping close tabs, but the first I heard of it was Tuesday.

It’s too soon – it feels like I just watched the finale and now there’s more of the same old, same old. If you don't want to make the show appear formulaic, don’t run them back-to-back. Just ask Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Anyway, all of the contestants started together on the same beach instead of the four different tribes from last season. I figured keeping them together would allow for the tall poppies to rise and get cut down, but evil mastermind Mark Burnett had other plans. After supplying the castaways with tool and supplies to build a solid shelter and supplying them with food, on day three they were split in two teams for an immunity challenge. The winning team was allowed to keep the fancy beach digs while the losers were sent to a new location with next to nothing – shades of the current season of Apprentice. The ideas are running thin these days.

But that’s not the only deus ex machina on this “unscripted” reality program. Only two of the contestants actually applied to be on the show, while the rest were recruited from pubs, restaurants, MySpace and even the US Table Tennis Association website. I suppose it’s not a horrible revelation, but the manipulation of the storyline is becoming more and more obvious. Why not just bring in an improv troop, tell them their characters and let them loose? Hmm... I either need to call Burnett or Christopher Guest.

Live Fast, Die Youngish

Anna Nicole Smith has completed her transition into a 21st century Marilyn Monroe by following the blonde icon to an early death.

The former reality star, Playboy playmate, ex-wife of a billionaire, diet pill spokeswoman and all-around public train wreck died today after collapsing in her suite at the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, as apt a place for her death as any. No cause of death has been announced at this time, but blogs are rampant with the news that it was a drug overdose – the same way that her 20-year-old son went just a few months ago – and the same way her idol Marilyn went.

Like Marilyn she will never grow old in the pop culture pantheon. While she didn’t have the acting ability of Marilyn, Anna Nicole gained her fame through reality TV and became famous for being famous – two methods that are as legitimate these days as having actual talent.

Like Marilyn conspiracy theories are already swirling about her death. Anna Nicole was still fighting for her share of the late J. Howard Marshall’s estate, an 89-year-old oil billionaire she married when she was a 26-year-old stripper. A court ruling could hand the fortune to her five-month old daughter Dannielynn Hope, who has two men claiming to be the father. Smith’s mom has speculated that one of the men, Anna’s lawyer and companion Howard K. Stern may have contributed to the death of her son, putting him one step closer to getting the hands on the money himself.

Was she a tragic story? A gold digger? Was she pretty or did she just look that way? In any case it was a fittingly tabloid end for a woman who’s desire for money was only topped by her craving for attention.

Still Lost

I want some answers. I’m a big fan of Lost and its deep mysteries, but it’s time for the show to start giving up some secrets and dolling out some facts. The castaways returned tonight, after months in TV’s version of purgatory, with promises that we would get some insight. Did we? Not so much.

Our heroes Kate, Jack and Sawyer were still in mid-escape from the Others, having gotten nowhere in the preceding months, with Dr. Jack taking his God-complex quite literally by keeping his captor, Ben, on the edge of death. While the dash off the island continues we find out more about Juliet, the Other that befriended Jack, and her fertility research. All very interesting, but not very enlightening. We learnt that the Others are willing to kill the castaways, even each other, but we have no idea why. I accept that so many people survived the crash of Oceanic Airlines 815; that so many of them are connected in their past lives; that the island has mysterious powers. But I can’t abide not having any inkling as to what the Others are up to. Why are they kidnapping people? Why do they think they are good?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been defending the glacial pace for sometime:
Lost has done just that, parceling out tiny bits of information every week -- just enough to tantalize, but leaving the big picture hidden away - Land of the Lost

That’s what I love about this show – it answers questions with mysteries. You may now know a small segment, but it has opened a host of new questions. - Lost and Found

Does this rabbit hole have no bottom? If it does, I hope we don't get to it anytime soon. - A Real Stickler
But as the episode neared its conclusion, even Jack appeared to know that the island's riddles remained wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, remarking: “After everything that I have been put through, you owe me an answer.”

Agreed. I have invested a lot of time into the show and I’d like to get a little back in return. I remain a big fan and have no need for it to be all spelled out for me in big capital letters. I’m not asking for all to be revealed, but how about a little something?

Three, Three, Three For My Heartache

Everyone’s for sale, I understand this. Despite that, there’s still a little piece of me that shrivels up and dies every time I hear a song on a commercial that makes me realize another pop culture icon has discovered what their sell price is.

I know, selling out is an outdated concept - the evidence is all around us. Prince played last season’s finale of American Idol and the Super Bowl halftime show on the weekend and the most controversy he managed to stir up was when he made a penis shadow puppet with his guitar. This from a guy who used to writhe about stage in orgasmic pleasure. So I moved on when Supergrass sold out to MasterCard and I accepted that The White Stripes were shills for Coke. I even, grudgingly, understood when Sloan sold a guitar lick to Futureshop.

What I never expected was to see was some schlub happily strutting back to his dreary cubicle with a bag of greasy Wendy’s, to the tune of Blister in the Sun.

When I'm a walkin' I strut my stuff, and I'm so strung out
I'm high as a kite, I just might stop to check you out
Let me go on, like I blister in the sun

Sigh. Why Violent Femmes, why? I hate the advertising exec who figured out how much money to put in the dump truck they backed up to their homes. I sure hope it was a lot, because it wasn’t just the fact that they sold the song but the juxtaposition of a teen angst anthem with the crushed reality of office life, where your only pleasure is shoveling down some fast food before the next meeting. You guys might have been paid, but I’m the one who feels ripped off.

Fox Not So Freakin’ Sweet

Why can’t Fox take a joke? The network’s overpriced lawyers are throwing their weight around and coming down heavy on Swiss Family Guy Robinson, a small stage show by Canadian Brian Froud, that blended the characters of Family Guy with the 1812 novel Swiss Family Robinson.

Froud’s one-man show debuted at the Toronto Fringe Festival and was an immediate hit with fans and critics alike. He turned it into a regular performance and started touring the show. All good, right? Not exactly. Despite Family Guy being the king of the meta reference, Fox didn’t see the humour in the show.

"When we learned that this production had made unauthorized use of the Family Guy characters and material, we asked that the producers cease and desist and they have complied. Protecting our intellectual property and copyrights is something we take very seriously at Twentieth Century Fox Television," says Chris Alexander, vice president of media relations for Fox Television.

It seems the network that is famed for broadcasting and then canceling creative shows – Arrested Development, Futurama, Greg the Bunny, Titus, Undeclared, Action, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Firefly and Family Guy twice – is now concerned about protecting its artistic integrity (investment). The oddity of this is Family Guy wouldn’t exist without the plundering pop culture’s past. Each episode is a pastiche of other people’s movies and TV shows that if the same cease and desist was applied to the show it would never have made it on the air.

Froud doesn’t get it either: “We are huge fans of the show ourselves and would never do anything to harm it's stellar reputation. We simply want to frolic within the hysterical realm of the freakin' sweet madness created by Mr. Seth MacFarlane,” states the comedian on his blog.

Seems that Fox doesn’t want anyone else getting a piece of the pie now that the show is lucrative.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force is The Bomb

When the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie was announced last month, some (me) wondered how they would turn a 11-minute cartoon into a feature length film. Most, if they noticed at all, wondered what the hell a Meatwad was. But when the bomb squad was called this week to detonate a Lite-Brite version of one of the characters, the show hit the big time.

On Wednesday a number of blinking, electronic signs were discovered in Boston on bridges and other locations leading to the closing of a highway and the dispatching of the afore-mentioned bomb squad. Turns out the potential bombs were just battery-powered led lights attached to circuit board versions of the Aqua Teen characters Ignignokt and Err giving passerbys the finger.

Two men were arrested and the Cartoon Network owned up to the guerrilla marketing campaign. "We apologize to the citizens of Boston that part of a marketing campaign was mistaken for a public danger," read a company statement, which added they understood "the gravity of the situation" and "deeply regret the hardships experienced as a result of the incident."

Do they really? Similar devices had been up for a couple of weeks in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia before a paranoid Bostonian said the word “bomb,” blowing up a small awareness campaign into an international story. Thousands of stories and newscasts followed, all talking about a previously obscure cartoon about a group of life-sized fast-food mascots, Frylock, Master Shake and Meatwad and their upcoming movie. Marketing failure? This is pop culture gold!

Below, the guerrilla marketers in action:

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