News 2005-09

And no matter what you say or do...

Just when you think things can’t get worse for Van Halen, they do.

For one, they haven’t put out a studio album since I was still an undergrad in college putting it sometime before 1997. Yeah, they had that Best of Both Worlds hits collection a year or so ago with a few new songs, but that’s been about it. Three songs does not a new studio album make.

For years, we Van Halen fans suffered through a prolonged will they/won’t they complex in which we battled amongst ourselves about whether the brothers Van Halen and their bassist Michael Anthony would rehire original vocalist David Lee Roth or second vocalist Sammy Hagar as their singer, record an album, and hit the road. A few years ago, they did rehire Hagar, albeit briefly, for a tour and the three new tracks on BOBW.

Soon after, Sammy returned to his own solo band, The Waboritas, and VH returned to their perpetual state of professional silence.

This morning, at the gym, I opened up a copy of RedEye, a subsidiary tabloid-style newspaper put out by The Chicago Tribune, and found a snippet about VH in the “Whoville” section on page 75 (that’s how much merit stories about Van Halen warrant anymore). Here’s the text of the article…

A Family Affair
Van Halen is becoming a family band. Eddie Van Halen has tapped his 15-year-old son, Wolfgang, to replace Michael Anthony as bassist, reports.

It is unknown who will serve as the band’s vocalist for the 2007 tour, but rumors continue to swirl that David Lee Roth will be back in the fold for the first time in more than 20 years.

The ever-articulate Roth said he thinks a reunion is “absolutely as an inevitability.”

“To me, it’s not rocket surgery,” Roth said. “It’s very simple to put together. And as far as hurt feelings and water under the dam, like what’s-her-name says to what’s-her-name at the end of the movie ‘Chicago’ – ‘So what? It’s showbiz!’ So I definitely see it happening.”

Three letters for ya here… WTF?!?!

Not just about Wolfgang on bass, but “absolutely as an inevitability”?!?! What does that mean???

“Rocket surgery”?!?! Huhwhudda???

“Water under the dam”?!?!  Oooooohhhhh… my brain hurts.

How much colloquialism mixing can this guy manage in one interview? Rocket Science + Brain Surgery as well as Water Under the Bridge + Water Over the Dam. What’s next? Is he really the best answer for Van Halen? What about having a incoherent, rambling ass like that around your teenaged son? I’m sure Valerie’s loving it right now.

Oh VH, how I loved thee. What the hell happened to you?

There's a party goin' on right here...

I heard a crazy little rumor that the World Series wrapped up this weekend.

Wrapped up? Hell, I barely noticed that it even started.

I don't want to take anything away from the St. Louis Cardinals and their World Series win, but for such a big deal event in which the "best" team in Major League Baseball is crowned as champion, it sure seemed to pass without creating so much as a blip on my radar. I think the entire story warranted nothing more than a bottom corner of the sports page of  one of our local papers. Hell, the Red Sox, when they won two seasons ago, got banner headlines... in Chicago newspapers!

Perhaps this is Chicago's revenge for having the White Sox relegated to a call-out circle on the cover of Sports Illustrated after winning the whole shebang as opposed to being given the entire cover like so many World Series champs before.

So is it just a Chicago thing that nobody really knew or gave a rat's ass about the Series this year? Were we just oblivious because we didn't have a team in there? Or am I not the only one around the country who thought this baseball season just wasn't worth squat and we should, finally, officially crown football as "America's Sport"?

"I think we shocked the world," World Series MVP David Eckstein was quoted as saying.

I'll bet you did, but not in the way that you may be thinking.

He would sing his, "Go, Cubs, Go!"...

Wanna hear something funny? I'm finally starting to get into the baseball season. Just in time for... the end of the season. Heh.

Now you wanna hear why? Because the Cubs, whom I like a lot, but have despised with a passion this season, may finally do some good next year. Not only has team President Andy MacPhail (or "MacFAIL," as we like to refer to him) stepped down, but the Cubs' press corps have announced that Manager Dusty Baker will not be back next year either.

Woo hoo!!!

The Cubs may actually stand a chance.

Nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, good bye!

Has Joe Girardi been given his walking papers down in Florida yet? He'd be a great manager! We'd welcome him back to the Friendly Confines considering both that he's a former Cub (1989-92 and 2000-02) and what he's done for the Marlins.

Sorry if you non-baseball types find this post boring. But someone out there will appreciate it. I hope.

I am Iron Man...

I am a fan of Robert Downey Jr. Always have been a fan. He always plays quirky, flawed characters that you just can't help but love. And this despite how screwed up his real life tends to be.

I loved him in stuff like Heart and Souls and Chances Are. He was great in Two Girls and a Guy, Wonder Boys, and Good Night and Good Luck.  Of course, who can forget such 80s classics as Johnny Be Good and Weird Science? And I really thought he was spectacular in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. He was also the best Charlie Chaplin since the man himself.

But now he's been confirmed for a role I never thought I would see him take... a superhero. More specifically Iron Man.

Iron Man is not one of the more recognizable comic book superhero of all time. In fact, more people may recognize the name from the Black Sabbath song than from the comic book.

So not only am I surprised that Downey is playing the role, I'm simply surprised it's being made at all.

But, I'll probably see it. It has Downey in the title role and it's being directed by Jon Favreau of Swingers, Made, and Elf fame. Both can be pretty quirky kinds of guys so that may bode well for this movie.

Have you heard the news, makin' all the headlines...

Fletch_1 After years of speculation; a revolving door of stars, writers, and directors; and a series of hate-filled messages from Chevy Chase aimed at formerly attached Director Kevin Smith; it looks as if Irwin M. Fletcher may be returning to the big screen after all.

I, like Sandra, am a huge (nay... GINORMOUS) advocate of the movie Fletch. It's all about a snarky L.A. Times investigative reporter known as "Fletch" played to perfection by Chevy Chase.

It is easily one of the funniest films ever to come out of Hollywood and proves that you don't need gross-out humor to amuse an audience... just damn fine scripting.

And that's what Fletch is all about, the script. Quick-fire dialogue is the key to both the movies and the original novels by Gregory McDonald, which are also damned hilarious.

Hell, Kevin Smith even asserts that the inspiration for his dialogue-driven movies came from McDonald's writing style.

This time around, though, it looks as if Zach Braff (Dr. John "J.D." Dorian of Scrubs) will take the lead role of Fletch in what will become Fletch Won, chronologically the first book in the series (hence the need for a younger star). Scrubs creator, Bill Lawrence, will adapt and direct the movie.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this casting decision. While I like Braff... a lot... I don't see him as Fletch. Yes, he's better than some of the rumored casting "shortlists." But he's not nearly as good as two of the early frontrunners for the role. He's always struck me more as the goofy comic whereas Chase as Fletch was always more of a wry comic throwing out the subtle zingers that you may or may not even catch on to.

Continue reading "Have you heard the news, makin' all the headlines..." »

Woah-oh-oh, Janie's cryin'...

And for good damned reason.

I know this is a bit old (like a month old), but it's been quite some time since I've sought out any Van Halen news. I harbor no hope of them ever getting back together again and doing anything that a normal band would do like record an album, go on tour, make public appearances, sate the fans.

I've given up hope on them entirely.

But, for whatever reason, I found myself looking for news about Van Halen recently, and this is what I get...


Eddie and Alex Van Halen made a surprise appearance during Kenny Chesney's June 17 performance at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA.

During the show, the two brothers backed Chesney on the Van Halen original "Jump" and The Kinks' "You Really Got Me," a cover version of which appears on VH's 1978 self-titled debut.

It's the first time the Van Halen brothers have been seen on stage together since Van Halen's 2004 tour ended.

I'm at a loss... I... wow... um, yeah... I'm gonna go join Janie now.

You are the talk of the town...

I've received some interesting comments regarding a couple of my recent posts about television and the Prez Bush press conference interrupting shows.

It started on Monday a little something like this...

Claire: "Be warned that the President has an address tonight so that may throw off things if you're TiVoing."

Me: "BASTARD! At least I'll be home so I can figure things out for when Katie gets home from work. What time? This is going to piss off the networks and fans immensely."

Claire: "8-8:30 is what the listing I looked at said. They're actually showing last night's GA ep again at 8, but it's getting cut in half by the address. I just don't want it to cut into the finale of HIMYM."

MadIrishMan: "Get ready. Now that a former FOX guy (Tony Snow) is the White House Press Secretary, Bush will be cutting into a lot of programs in the future. If and only if the networks give him the time. Some regular networks might not give him the air time. Most of his speeches will be on cable news."

Me: "Claire and MIM, this is just crap. I don't want it cutting into HIMYM or Grey's Anatomy. And, sadly, I'd rather watch CSI: Miami than our president. If he keeps screwing up networks' schedules like this with his incoherent BS, it's likely they'll give him less and less time. They don't want anything pre-empting their season finales. This is May Sweeps. The ratings here determine their advertising income for the next season. There's no better way to lose viewers than to pre-empt season finales with our dipshit of a president. Why does this reek of bad PR effort to save face? It's just going to backfire."

Claire: "It's supposed to be about immigration legislation which I am interested in, but I'm not sure I can make myself watch him. 'I'd rather watch CSI: Miami than our president.' Miami has been so bad this year, I stopped watching; nonetheless, I think the same is true for me. Guess I'll just look up a transcript later on."

And it continued on Tuesday's post like this:

MadIrishMan: "Maybe that is President Bush's idea. Ratings will be down when he is on and it could hurt the networks. ;) But, to his credit, this is something he should have been doing 4-5 years ago. I cannot remember a President that has spoken on TV driectly to the public less than GW. Just a stat I heard. This was the first time GW has spoken to the country from the Oval Office on a domestic issue. Now how bad is that?"

Tracy Lynn: "That stupid man forced me to miss most of the ball game so that I could watch my shows last night. Bastard. Why can't he prioritize appropriately?! ;-) He did NOT need twenty minutes to say what needed to be said. He could have just dropped it into a commercial space, that would have been way more considerate, and would have allowed me to Tivo AND fast forward through it."

Me: "MIM, I agree he should be doing something far more regularly than just once a year. He's a media troll. Just don't interrupt us and our shows."

But it was Tracy's comment that got me thinking... is there a better way for the President to handle this sort of situation? Is there something he can do to get the information out via the mainstream media and not piss off both the networks and viewers?

And here is the solution that I came up with...

Continue reading "You are the talk of the town..." »

C'mon, let's get it started...

Since I'm not exactly feeling inspired at the moment (ironic considering I just proclaimed how I rarely struggle for a post topic... go fig), here are a few notes.

MisclivingwithwarNew Music
As sad as this sounds, I still have to buy the latest Pearl Jam album from iTunes. I can't believe that I, the Pearl Jam fan I am, have not yet picked it up. Katie's brother may be sending it my way, too. I think that's why I'm holding out, to see where I get it first.

But has anyone listened to the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album Stadium Arcadium yet? Is it worth buying the whole thing or are there only a few tracks that are worth the download? I'm curious.

I think I may have to pick up the new Neil Young album Living With War. What I've heard sounds pretty good. And it's been a while since I bought an album off iTunes.

Any other good stuff I'm missing out on? Let me know.

Summer Reading List
Each year, the library staff where I work puts out a summer reading brochure containing reviews of books from faculty and staff. When they sent out the e-mail requesting reviews from us, I sent them the link to Fun With Dead Trees and told them to use whatever they wanted to fill in the gaps.

They thanked me with candy.


President Bush
Oh how I cannot stand this guy! Just when you think he can't find any new ways to piss me off, he decides to pre-empt an evening's worth of season finale programming with a press conference about the immigration issue.

You know what? Just give us the bullet points in an online article, Dubya, okay? I can't stand hearing your incomprehensible voice prattling off information that you barely understand. And to do so on a night when I'm trying to watch the finales of How I Met Your Mother and Grey's Anatomy while depending on my TiVo to record 24, I just cannot forgive you.

As a good American, I know I should care, but I just don't. I want to watch my TV shows and not have to deal with you.

And you have now pissed off the networks as well since you're pre-empting a couple of the biggest shows around with a press conference during May Sweeps. That is the time when ratings determine advertising rates for the coming year. I'm sure these networks are none too happy that you are dragging down the ratings for the night with your nonsensical ramblings.

I will admit that the networks managed to deal with it appropriately. They either aired a filler episode in the remainder of the hour around Bush's press conference or they were able to delay their schedule the necessary 20 minutes and got enough notice out to their netlets and the cable providers so that DVRs could reprogram accordingly.

NBC 2006-2007
It's been quite a while since I've had reason to believe in the theory that NBC can actually put together a solid primetime lineup. And with some of the shows they are throwing around for next season, I'm not exactly thinking that next year will be much better.

Apparently, NBC will debut six new dramas in an effort to boost their lagging ratings.

  • Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip featuring Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford about the behind-the-scenes happenings at a TV variety show. Sounds like it could be interesting, but NBC is already putting all their eggs in this basket, which frightens me. Coupling and Miss/Match, anyone? I'll still give it a shot, I think. Someone in their post-Friends career has got to finally have some luck (aside from Jennifer Aniston whose luck began before leaving the show).
  • Friday Night Lights about a high school football team. Movies about H.S. football? Sure. A television series? Not sure about that one.
  • Kidnapped about the abduction of a teenage boy. While I can understand, and enjoy, a show about investigating the kidnappings of many, different random people -- Without a Trace -- I don't see how you can build a show for an entire season around a single kidnapping.
  • The Black Donnellys about an Irish family involved in organized crime. This could be interesting. I'm sure MadIrishMan will be all over it. But this isn't expected to premiere until January.
  • Heroes about everyday people who discover they have special powers. Ummm... haven't we had enough of this supernatural predilection lately?
  • ... Wondering what #6 is? So am I. The article mentions six new dramas, but only winds up listing five. Go fig, eh?

NBC also has two new comedies coming out: 20 Good Years with John Lithgow and 30 Rock with Tina Fey. I only know that the latter is about a writer (Fey) on a TV variety show. So what, now everyone's going to program about Saturday Night Live-esque shows? That's two for NBC alone. Aye aye aye.

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Evil minds that plot destruction...

I was watching a TiVosode of The Daily Show from Monday night when they asked a commercial-break trivia question that really disturbed me...

The current war in Iraq has been going on since March 19, 2003. That means it clocks in at three years and, at the time the question was asked, one day. Based on this fact, which of the following is the only one to last longer than the Iraq War?


The War of 1812

The 100 Years War

U.S. involvement in World War I

Nick and Jessica

The answer is obvious, of course. But it disturbed me when I realized that the Iraq War has lasted longer than our involvement in WWI. How messed up is that? And it shows no sign of ending any time soon.

Sorry to go all political on your weekend.

Everybody hurts... sometimes...

People die.

I hate to be so blunt about it, but that's the way it is.

And, since we all became connected on the Web, it seems like we hear about death more often than ever before. Such and such actor or actress died... some politician collapses... a beloved athlete loses his battle with some incurable disease... a musician ends their life... the list goes on and on.

But, because of the Web and the proliferation of this sort of news, I think we are not nearly as affected by it as we might normally be. Reading about death becomes so commonplace that we have become completely, and unfortunately, immune to it. Mortality desensitization of a sort, I suppose.

That's the way it seems for me anyway. I read about all these people that have died and maybe I shrug my shoulders... perhaps I call Katie at work to tell her... sometimes I might read into it a bit more.

But rarely do I blog about it.

Before today, I only blogged about a few "celebrity" deaths. One was John Ritter because I was deeply affected by his death. He was one of my favorite actors growing up. I was a junkie for Three's Company as a kid and I watched a lot of his later stuff, as well, and always seemed to like the guy. His passing was a terrible thing for me. There were also the deaths of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in relatively close succession. I still think they are the greatest on-screen duo of all time. The final, however, was some actor whose name eludes me at the moment. I only blogged about him because he committed suicide and it had been so long since I had heard his name that it caught me offguard. I'll have to scour my archives and see if I can figure out who it was.

Then, this weekend happened.

And two other actors who were part of my childhood passed away as well.

The first was Don Knotts who died Friday. As I said, I was a huge Three's Company fan and he, as Mr. Furley, was just as important to that show as Ritter's Jack Tripper. The interplay between the two of them was enough to keep me amused for hours. As I grew up, I discovered his other great work such as The Andy Griffith Show. But, to me, he will always be Mr. Furley.

The second was Darren McGavin who passed away on Saturday. According to IMDb, the guy amassed an amazing list of acting credits that rivaled just about anybody (well over 150 credits, including starring and guest spots in movies and TV shows). However, I will always remember him as the leg lamp-lusting father in what is singularly the greatest holiday movie of all time, A Christmas Story.

It may not be all that big a deal to many out there. Some may shrug it off as just another Hollywood death much like I have to so many other celebrities in the past.

But, to me, these two are something else altogether. These are two passings that I will remember and personally mourn because they are significant to me.