Monthly Archives: January 2008

Yeti9000: Published Photographer

This past week, several of my strike buddies (Aaron, Nina, etc.) were interviewed by a reporter from the New York Times for an in-depth article about life during the strike…financial concerns, getting day jobs, eating free meals at Bob’s Big Boy, stuff like that…

The Slackmistress rocks Hollywood! (Nov. 20, 2008)

I was not interviewed myself, but the photo I took above — of strike mate Nina Bargiel aka “The Slackmistress” rocking her biker boots @ the Hollywood Rally on November 20th — will be making an appearance in the article instead. Yeah!

So, if you happen to be near a news stand, check out today’s (Sunday, January 27, 2008) NY Times Art & Leisure section to see my credited photo. And if you don’t have the bread to buy a newspaper, check out the link below to read the whole rocking article: “The Agony of Spare Time”

My picture is on page two under the pic of Aaron Bob’s-ing it. Enjoy!



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With everyone gearing up to see all the Oscar nominated films they missed this weekend, I thought I’d add one more to the list…Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s rocking “Persepolis”!

“Persepolis” production still (2007)

We saw this kick-ass animated film at a screening back in November and loved it so much that we literally spent the entire night talking about it. It’s layered, complex, beautifully told and best of all, surprisingly realistic for an animated film. Our immediate thought was: “What a fantastic film. Too bad it won’t get nominated for an Oscar…”

But guess what? Despite the odds, the French-language “Persepolis” managed to snag one of the three coveted slots in this year’s Best Animated Feature category! Yeah…sometimes, I’m happy to be wrong.

And while it will probably lose the gold to Brad Bird’s enormously popular “Ratatouille” — which was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay — just being nominated is a huge deal for a movie like “Persepolis” because it means people might actually, you know, see it.

Punk rockers in “Persepolis” (2007)

Based on a pair of award-winning graphic novels by Iranian-born author, Marjane Satrapi, the film is the touching, and often hilarious story of a rebellious young girl coming of age during the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

I know it sounds heavy — and sometimes it totally is — but since everything that happens is filtered through the eyes of the quirky, insanely-opinionated Marjane, the movie is also much funnier than you would expect given the subject matter.

Marajane marching against the Shah in “Persepolis” (2007)

Like her central character, the real-life Satrapi has spent most of her adult life in France, and thus chose French as the language for the film. And when paired with the simple, strikingly beautiful animation, the French could not sound more lovely. You seriously wanna bathe in this movie…it’s that gorgeous.

And the voice casting…wow…Satrapi and Paronnaud have peppered the cast with some of the finest actors in Europe. The legendary Catherine Deneuve voices Marjane’s mother, Danielle Darrieux the Grandmother, and Chiara Mastrianni (the real-life daughter of Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve) lends her voice to the main character Marjane.

Trust me, you haven’t heard acting like this in an animated film in years…if ever. Simply put, the cast, like the rest of the film is amazing!

Marjane and friend in “Persepolis” (2007)

So since you’ve probably already seen “Ratatouille” (we actually have not seen it yet, but plan to rent it soon) and the other nominee in the category is “Surf’s Up” (Yikes!) make sure to check out “Persepolis” on the big screen while you can.

Oh yeah, and if you like the movie, check out Satrapi’s lushly illustrated graphic novels as well, because they too kick some serious ass!


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“Not Nigella 6-Toes”

This post is coming a couple months later than planned — literally, as it actually happened way before Thanksgiving — but here at long last is the story of our book signing adventure with our favorite female UK celebrity chef, the crazy-beautiful Nigella Lawson. I know, I know, technically, Lawson is not a chef, but as someone who has sampled many of her dishes, this bird can cook!

Nigella book signing poster @ Williams-Sonoma (Nov. 10, 2007)

Though we have met Jamie Oliver at a number of stateside book signings, Nigella Lawson sightings on this side of this pond are much more rare.

So, though we’d already had her sign our entire back library of her books the last time she was here — in 2005 to promote her best-selling cookbook, “Feast” — we couldn’t resist heading out to the posh Williams-Sonoma in Pasadena to have Lawson sign her latest tome for us.

Released to coincide with her snazzy new Food Network show, “Nigella Express”, Lawson’s latest cookbook “Nigella Express: 130 Recipes For Good Food, Fast” couldn’t be cooler.

Nigella & Laura! (Nov. 10, 2007)

As always, the recipes are simple, easy to make and downright delicious. And the pictures…wow, beautiful! Christine’s favorite is the inside cover shot of the interior of Lawson’s well-stocked spice cabinet. Amazing…

And though we got some pretty cool pics of Lawson last time we met her, this time, we came bearing gifts! Much to Christine and my sister-in-law Laura’s dismay, I brought a picture of our very own Nigella (our six-toed kitty, for our newer readers) lounging atop one of Ms. Lawson’s books with the words: “Nigella the cat @ seven months! Enjoy, Tomás & Christine” scrawled on the back.

I know, nerd-tastic, but I thought Lawson would appreciate the tribute.

Me & Christine with Nigella! (Nov. 10, 2007)

And man did she ever! When we finally got through the line outside to the book signing table, I presented the real-life Nigella with the picture and told her that we sometimes called our giant-clawed cat “Nigella six toes” as a joke.

Lawson and the Williams-Sonoma staff nearby burst into laughter and then, the real kicker came when Lawson wrote the following inscription in our book: “To Tomás and Christine, Love, Nigella (not Nigella 6-toes)”.

Nigella’s inscription in our book… (Nov. 10, 2007)

Ha! We were dying! Not only is Lawson the hottest female cook in the biz (sorry Giada De Laurentiis) but she also has a rocking-good sense of humor. So, thank you “Not Nigella 6-toes” for another signed book and some awesome pictures!


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Marvel inks Interim Agreement!

Yesterday, Marvel Studios joined indie powerhouse Lionsgate in becoming the latest two companies to sign interim agreements with the WGA. Basically, this means that they agree to abide by the totally fair terms we are proposing in our new deal offer to the AMPTP. But more importantly, it means that WGA writers can begin working for them again, as both Marvel and Lionsgate are no longer struck companies.

The Hulk (Nov. 16, 2007)

As you can see from the picture above, Marvel all-star, The Incredible Hulk was elated at the news of the interim agreement. Let’s hope he stays that way…

In the meantime, while the WGA continues to engage in “informal talks” with the greedy bastards at the AMPTP, Marvel and Lionsgate execs can sleep better knowing they did the right thing by joining other groundbreaking companies such as the Weinstein Company, Tom Cruise’s recently revitalized United Artists, Spyglass Entertainment, MRC, Jackson Bites, Mandate Films, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants in securing interim agreements that get writers back to work sooner rather than later.

Rock on, interim agreements!


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Heath Ledger (1979-2008)

Wow…every once in a while, a celebrity death really just throws you for a loop, and today was one of those times. Christine had the day off and we were just getting ready to head out to the picket line together when she came across the news of Heath Ledger’s untimely death online.

RIP, Heath Ledger (1979-2008)

Like the rest of the world, we were stunned. And no matter how and/or why he died, everything about Ledger’s death is shocking and downright tragic. Here was an actor’s actor, a guy who could have easily skated by on his looks — OK, sometimes he did. I mean, let’s face it, “Casanova” was no “Shakespeare in Love” — but chose instead to pick challenging, often tortured roles that involved some serious heavy-lifting in the acting department.

Christine and I have been huge fans of Ledger’s since he first burst onto American screens in the teeny-bopper ode to Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew”, “10 Things I Hate About You”. The movie kind of sucked and I still cannot wrap my arms around Julia Stiles (in anything!) but even here, he had something special and totally elevated the material.

The next thing we saw him in was Mel Gibson’s ‘The Patriot” and here again, Ledger’s character stole every scene he was in and became pretty much the heart and soul of the picture. When he dies, the movie dies with it. Seriously, you might as well stop watching because it’s all downhill from there.

Heath Ledger circa “Lords of Dogtown”

But the first time we really were shattered by Ledger as an actor was in his haunting portrayal of the doomed, suicidal son of Billy Bob Thornton in the so-gut-wrenching-I-defy-you-to-watch-it-more-than-once, “Monster’s Ball” (2001). Here Ledger showed the startling range and depth that his earlier roles only hinted at. Everyone talked about Halle Berry — and rightly so, as she was awesome — but Ledger was like, James Dean good in that movie.

And then, there was his Oscar-nominated turn in his most famous film to date, “Brokeback Mountain”. I had some problems with the movie overall, but I defy you not to weep like a little girl when he clutches Jake Gyllenhaal’s denim shirt to his chest and cries…wow…that is some acting for the ages, amigos. Powerful shit!

But the thing I really dug about Ledger is that he always seemed to be having fun with whatever it was he was involved in. Even that “Brother’s Grimm” crapfest looked interesting (we haven’t seen it) and even if it wasn’t, I’m sure he and co-star Matt Damon had a kick-ass time making it. There was no ego or star bullshit with him, he was like a character actor with a leading man’s face.

Ledger (far right) and castmates in “Lords of Dogtown”

And speaking of, two of my favorite performances of his were in smaller supporting roles. In the first, as the shaggy elder statesmen of the skate punks in the wildly uneven “Lords of Dogtown”, Ledger rocked as a stoner trying, and ultimately failing, to keep his struggling skate shop in business. I swear to God, he was either stoned in every scene in that movie or he’s a better actor than I thought. This performance alone should qualify him for the stoner hall of fame. Classic, realistic and f-ing awesome!

My second favorite of his performances was in last fall’s trippy masterpiece “I’m Not There”. His “interpretation” of Bob Dylan seemed the most balanced of the six actors playing him. Ledger wasn’t all good and he wasn’t all bad either, instead his version of Dylan was a messy, screwed up mélange of misogyny, sweetness and prickly genius.

And though you sometimes hated him for the way he treated Charlotte Gainsbourg (who played his beautiful, long-suffering wife) Ledger’s Dylan was perhaps the most human and real of the bunch.

Heath Ledger in “I’m Not There” (2007)

So, while I’m sure the marketing for his final completed film — Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Batman sequel, “The Dark Knight”, with Ledger playing a grungy, maniacal Joker — will be understandable subdued in light of his passing, I can’t wait to see what magic Ledger works with such an awesome, iconic part in a big summer movie.

And though we may not see the likes of Heath Ledger again, I gotta say, I’m glad we got to see him at all. Like James Dean and River Phoenix before him, Ledger left an idelible mark onscreen and he will be greatly missed…

Thanks to my new Flickr friend, Howie_Berlin for the use of the photo at the top of this post. To see more of his Heath pics, check out his photostream at:


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Oscar Nominees 2008

Earlier this morning, Oscar-winning actress Kathy Bates — who actually looked kind of hot rocking this new blonde hairdo — and Academy President, Sid Gannis announced the nominees for the 80th annual Academy Awards.

And while there is much to celebrate — Ellen Page for Best Actress in “Juno”! “Persepolis” snags a Best Animated Feature nod! Hal Holbrook finally scores his first-ever nomination as Best Supporting Actor for “Into the Wild”! — the fact that the bloated, pretty-on-the-outside, empty-on-the-inside “Atonement” scored a whopping seven nominations is just plain criminal.

Best Picture Nominee “There Will Be Blood”

OK, the little girl was good — Saoirse Ronan, who scored a well-deserved best Supporting Actress nomination — but Best Picture? Over “Into the Wild” and “American Gangster”? Are you f-ing kidding me? Ridiculous…

The inexplicably dismal showing for “Into the Wild” aside, I was thrilled to see “Michael Clayton” (one of our favorite pics last year) tie “Atonement” with seven nominations! This movie seriously rocks, so kudos to all the nominated cast and crew, but a special shout out to the incredible Tilda Swinton, a first-time nominee for Best Supporting Actress! Go, Scotland!

Also awesome to see “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood” pick up eight nominations each (the most of any film). These are muscular, stand-out movies and they totally deserve every honor they are showered with this year. So, rock on, guys!

Best Picture Nominee “Atonement”

But perhaps the biggest surprises came in a totally out-of-left-field nomination for Tommy Lee Jones as Best Actor for “In the Valley of Elah”. Huh? Who even remembers that thing? My thinking is that they wanted to honor him for his far superior work in “No Country for Old Men”, but the Supporting Actor category was too full, so they plopped him down here. Odd choice, I would have gone, again, with the devastating performance given by Emile Hirsch in “Into the Wild”. But that’s just me…

Also, very cool (and kind of shocking) to see a comedy director like Jason Reitman nominated for Best Director for “Juno”. That hardly ever happens, and though I had some problems with the first half of the movie, by the end, I was loving me some “Juno” big time. So, rock on Reitman!

Best Editing Nominee “Into the Wild”

Same goes for “Michael Clayton” writer/director, Tony Gilroy. This is his first time directing and he scored a nomination, so, congrats! Speaking of writing, was also delighted to see the ladies make such a strong showing in the Best Original Screenplay category. Not only did “Juno” scribe Diablo Cody score an expected nomination, but so did former “Six Feet Under” scribe Nancy Oliver for “Lars and the Real Girl” and Tamara Jenkins for the hysterical “The Savages”!

And speaking of “The Savages”, I was totally shocked to see the always-amazing Laura Linney score her third Oscar nomination for her work in this film. She is hilarious, desperate, heartbreaking and sometimes all in the same scene. This was a surprise nomination, but man, does she deserve it!

The same goes for Johnny Depp’s all-singing performance in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” and Viggo Mortensen’s iconic Russian gangster in “Eastern Promises”. These guys were both awesome!

Best Actor Nominee Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises”

Kudos also to double nominee Cate Blanchett — Best Actress for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” and Supporting Actress for “I’m Not There” — I really think she is the one to beat for her mercurial turn as Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes’ masterful “I’m Not There”. And if she wins, it would be Blanchett’s second Oscar for playing a real-life celebrity, after winning a Supporting Actress Oscar a couple years ago for playing Katherine Hepburn in “The Aviator”. Kind of funny…

And finally, though I am still stewing over the incomprehensible omission of Eddie Vedder’s towering “Rise” from “Into the Wild” in the Best Original Song category, I was thrilled to see the amazing duo from “Once” score a well-deserved nomination for the soulful “Falling Slowly”.

Best Animated Feature Nominee “Persepolis”

If you haven’t seen “Once” yet, stop reading now and go rent it immediately…it is wow…out of this world amazing. Seriously, I cannot wait to see those shaggy hippies dueting on the Oscar stage come showtime…well, you know, if there is a show this year…

So, for now, here are the Oscar nominees in most of the major categories. For a complete list of this year’s nominees, check out the Academy’s fancy new homepage at:




“Michael Clayton”

“No Country for Old Men”

“There Will Be Blood”


Paul Thomas Anderson – “There Will Be Blood”

Joel & Ethan Coen – “No Country for Old Men”

Tony Gilroy – “Michael Clayton”

Jason Reitman – “Juno”

Julian Schnabel – “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”


George Clooney – “Michael Clayton”

Daniel Day Lewis – “There Will Be Blood”

Johnny Depp – “Sweeney Todd”

Tommy Lee Jones – “In the Valley of Elah”

Viggo Mortensen – “Eastern Promises”


Cate Blanchett – “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”

Julie Christie – “Away From Her”

Marion Cotillard – “La Vie en Rose”

Laura Linney – “The Savages”

Ellen Page – “Juno”


Casey Affleck – “The Assassination of Jesse James…”

Javier Bardem – “No Country for Old Men”

Hal Holbrook – “Into the Wild”

Philip Seymour Hoffman – “Charlie Wilson’s War”

Tom Wilkinson – “Michael Clayton”


Cate Blanchett – “I’m Not There”

Ruby Dee – “American Gangster”

Saoirse Ronan – “Atonement”

Amy Ryan – “Gone Baby Gone”

Tilda Swinton – “Michael Clayton”


Diablo Cody – “Juno”

Nancy Oliver – “Lars and the Real Girl”

Tony Gilroy – “Michael Clayton”

Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava & Jim Capobiano – “Ratatouille”

Tamara Jenkins – “The Savages”


Christopher Hampton – “Atonement”

Sarah Polley – “Away From Her”

Ronald Harwood – “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”

Joel Coen & Ethan Coen – “No Country for Old Men”

Paul Thomas Anderson – “There Will Be Blood”




“Surf’s Up”


“Beaufort” – Israel

“The Counterfeiters” – Austria

“Katyn” – Poland

“Mogol” – Kazakhstan

“12” – Russia



“The Kite Runner”

“Michael Clayton”


“3:10 to Yuma”


“Falling Slowly” – “Once”

“Happy Working Song” – “Enchanted”

“So Close” – “Enchanted”

“That’s How You Know” – “Enchanted”

“Raise It Up” – “August Rush”


“The Assassination of Jesse James…”


“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”

“No Country for Old Men”

“There Will Be Blood”


“Across the Universe”


“Elizabeth: The Golden Age”

“La Vie en Rose”

“Sweeney Todd”


“American Gangster”


“The Golden Compass”

“Sweeney Todd”

“There Will Be Blood”


“La Vie en Rose”


“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”


“The Bourne Ultimatum”

“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”

“Into the Wild”

“No Country for Old Men”

“There Will Be Blood”


“No End in Sight”

“Operation Homecoming…”


“Taxi to the Dark Side”







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Happy Birthday, Dr. King

Had he not be felled by assassin James Earl Ray’s fateful shot in Memphis on April 4, 1968, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 79 years old today.

So, in honor of this truly iconic American’s birthday, we decided to finally post some of the many pictures we took this past August at the amazing National Civil Rights Museum in downtown Memphis.

Lorraine Motel, Memphis (August 16, 2007)

Housed in the beautifully preserved shell of the historic Lorraine Motel — the site of Dr. King’s assassination — the museum does not allow cameras of any kind inside, so though we have no pictures of the powerfully moving contents of the museum , trust me when I say that this place is really something special.

Stepping inside, you are immediately transported back in time through a series of photos, videos and dazzling interactive displays to the darkest days of the pre-Civil-Rights-era South. Everywhere you look there are letters, pictures and actual items from the era.

One display, centered around a carefully preserved segregated lunch counter (from a diner somewhere in North Carolina) incorporates real-life documentary footage on a screen overhead. The hateful racial epithets hurled your way as you stand at the counter are bone-chilling, and I can tell you I heard more than one grown man reduced to tears.

The balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Memphis (August 16, 2007)

But perhaps the most moving of the interactive displays on the main floor is a scale replica of the Birmingham, Alabama city bus where Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat.

Stepping onto the bus, the first thing you see is the haunting life-size figure of Rosa Parks sitting up front. You are encouraged to sit nearby and then, almost immediately, the lights dim and a light pops on over your head as the seat beneath you vibrates jarringly to life. It was so startling that I almost hit my head jumping out of my seat.

And then, a light pops on over the bust of the driver up front and he loudly orders you to move to the back of the bus. If you refuse, he gets angrier and louder until finally a soothing female voice comes over the PA system to tell you that had you not moved by then, you would have been arrested and thrown in jail. I know it sounds kind of gimmicky, but the effect is chilling.

But the real goosebumps come towards the end of the self-guided tour as you begin to follow a winding ramp upstairs. Everywhere you look are timelines and beautiful displays detailing — hour by hour and sometimes, minute-by-minute — Dr. King’s schedule leading up to that tragic day in April, 1968.

A view of the balcony @ the Lorraine Motel, Memphis (August 16, 2007)

And then, with Mahalia Jackson’s voice ringing in the distance, you suddenly find yourself on the second floor of the Lorraine Motel, standing between two glassed-in motel rooms used by Dr. King and his supporters the day of the assassination.

Inside, everything is left as it was that day, cigarettes in an ashtray, newspapers on the bed, food wrappers on the table, it literally looks and feels like someone is still staying there. And then you notice the window between the two motel rooms. Moving closer and peering outside, you can actually see the balcony where Dr. King was shot and died.

The effect of seeing the balcony up close was so powerful, I actually gasped. And trust me, gasping was a relatively calm reaction compared to other visitors nearby. But who can blame them…I mean, this is no interactive display, this is the real place where real history unfolded in all its gory detail and…wow…you just wanna break down and cry. It’s insane…

“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” gate @ Civil Rights Museum, Memphis (August 16, 2007)

Collecting our thoughts and grabbing some Kleenex from Christine’s purse, we then headed back downstairs to the second part of the museum across the street. Just behind a striking iron gate (pictured above) incorporating a memorable section from Dr. King’s final “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, you walk down a long, subterranean hallway.

Overhead, footage of Dr. King’s funeral is accompanied by stirring quotes from politicians, world leaders, well-known actors and even just regular folks. I actually wish we could have spent more time soaking all this up, but the museum was closing, so we had to move through there pretty quickly.

The Boarding House where James Earl Ray slept, Memphis (August 16, 2007)

Upstairs, you realize for the first time that this portion of the museum is housed inside the actual boarding house (above) where Dr. King’s killer, James Earl Ray, stayed in the hours before the assassination.

Here too, Ray’s room is preserved exactly as it was when he was there. And though the room itself is glassed-in, even from a distance, you can see the window from which Ray took aim and fired upon Dr. King on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel across the street.

The thing that really creeped me out is how close the Lorraine is from the boarding house, I mean, even a lousy marksman could have made that shot. And staring out that window at the balcony with the wreath is just…wow…

MLK memorial wreath, Lorraine Motel, Memphis (August 16, 2007)

The rest of this second wing of the museum is dedicated to an in-depth examination of the assassination. There are compelling displays about the trial, detailed police reports on the shooting, court documents, and one wall is entirely devoted to conspiracy theories about the assassination. I was dying to spend more time here, but since we were practically escorted from the building due to the hour, a deeper examination of this room will have to wait for next time.

But the final display of the museum is perhaps the most moving of all. As you leave the building, you are reminded of the legacy of Dr. King through clips of modern-day political activists like Bono, Nelson Mandela, Jesse Jackson and even Oprah Winfrey. Here again, I found myself moved to tears, but in a good way. I’m not kidding, it was pretty inspiring stuff…

And so, on what would have been his 79th birthday, here’s hoping that the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King lives on. Happy birthday, Dr. K!


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Chili Spaghetti for 12,000…

While our WGA leaders peruse the finer points of the DGA’s deal with the AMPTP this weekend, I thought today would be a perfect time to thank Mr. Drew Carey for his much-needed support of our cause. Why Drew Carey you ask? Well, let me tell you…

Bob’s Big Boy goes Union! (January, 2008)

Since mere days after the strike began, Carey began paying the tab for each and every card carrying WGA member who ate at his favorite haunt, the historic Bob’s Big Boy in Toluca Lake. Rock on, Mr. Ohio…this “Price” isn’t just “Right”, it’s perfect! The deal includes breakfast, lunch and dinner, whatever you want on the menu, Drew’s got you covered.

And let me tell ya, I’m gonna owe him a lot of Pappy Parker’s Fried Chicken by the time this strike is over. Seriously! Thanks to Mr. Carey’s kind offer, myself and dozens of other grateful striking writers have been “Bob’s-ing” it quite often these days. And yes, since my strike captain (and frequent Bob’s-mate, Aaron) first coined the phrase, we are using the term “Bob’s-ing” as a verb.

Me & my new best friend, Bob’s Big Boy! (Dec. 5, 2007)

Aside from leaving him a Christmas card at the front desk (signed by a bunch of us regulars) Aaron and myself have actually ran into Drew at Bob’s twice. The first time we saw him, we thanked him for his “food support” and shook his hand. The second time, we left him alone, fearing he might recognize us and cut us off or something. Ha! Actually, he looked kind of engrossed in his reading, so we left him alone…

So until our paths cross again in the car hop, thank you, Drew Carey for keeping a bunch of rowdy, foul-mouthed writers fed on a daily (and sometimes TWICE daily) basis. Go, union!

Oh yeah, and for the record, I have not sampled the chili spaghetti myself, but Aaron swears by it.


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“American Gangster”

I know this post is coming too late to influence any Oscar voters out there (the nominations are set to be announced on Monday) but just in case, wanted to rave here about Ridley Scott’s latest cinematic epic, “American Gangster”.

Denzel and cast in “American Gangster” (2007)

We had tried to see this movie earlier in the season but were turned away as the screening room overflowed with people. Usually a full house means one of two things: that the movie is either really good or massively over-hyped. In this case, it was the former. Aside from truly stellar turns by Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, the movie takes what could have been a fairly standard real-life gangster biopic and flips it on its bloody head.

A beautifully produced, rousingly good movie with a climax that will literally leave you breathless, “Gangster” is hands down one of the best movies we’ve seen this year. Originally set to go before the cameras a couple years back with Washington and Oscar-winner Benicio Del Toro (“Traffic”) in the role now played by Crowe, the movie was shut down at the last minute, over budgetary concerns, by a skittish Universal.

Crowe in “American Gangster” (2007)

Since then, more than one director has tried to revive the movie, but it took the rocking A-list team of Scott and Oscar-winning screenwriter, Steven Zaillian, to finally get the balance right. And man, did they ever…

“Gangster” has the gritty, epic feel of such late-seventies classics as “Serpico”, “All The President’s Men” and “Three Days of the Condor” and while it didn’t exactly wow audiences at the box office this fall, it is totally up there with “There Will Be Blood”, “No Country for Old Men” and “Into The Wild” as one of the best films of the 2007.

Washington in “American Gangster” (2007)

I don’t wanna give away too much of the plot — anyone familiar with the true-life story of how Washington’s character, Frank Lucas, smuggled drugs into the country will know what an ingenious bad-ass this guy was — but essentially the movie details Lucas’ glorious rise from mob driver to international drug kingpin in Vietnam-era Harlem.

The phenomenal Russell Crowe — seriously, this part rivals his iconic work in “The Insider” — and his motley crew of undercover detectives are the good guys here, working against the totally corrupt “Serpico”-era NYPD to catch Lucas. I know it sounds like typical gangster stuff, but it isn’t. This kick-ass movie really shakes up the notion of what a crime-world movie can and should be.

Russell Crowe as Det. Richie Roberts in “Gangster” (2007)

And the supporting cast…wow…amazing! Josh Brolin, Ruby Dee, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Cuba Gooding Jr., Ted Levine, rappers RZA and Common, and a startling good Carla Gugino (as Crowe’s wife) make every scene better than the last. But our favorite bit of casting was the amazing John Hawkes as Crowe’s right hand man, Det. Freddie Spearman. This gangly genius, so spectacular in Miranda July’s cult fave “Me and You and Everyone We Know” is pitch perfect as the wild-eyed misfit at Crowe’s side.

So, while far lesser movies collect the gold this season — yeah, I’m talking to you “Atonement” — check out this flick while you still can in theatres. And keep your fingers crossed for the cast and crew on Monday morning…


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The DGA deal: A New Hope

As many of you may have heard by now, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP late yesterday afternoon.

And while that seems like good news on the surface, what this deal means for the WGA — whose wants and needs are often worlds away from those of the DGA — is still wide open for debate.

The DGA’s George Lucas celebrates his deal with the Sith Lord!

Since most of the DGA’s core members (Unit Production Managers, Assistant Directors, etc.) are not as reliant on residuals as writers and actors, the Directors Guild tends to focus more on boosting the up-front payments from the studios. Which is great, I mean, everybody’d like a little more cash up-front. But, man alive, those residuals can really help a brother out during lean times too.

So, while many of the issues addressed by the DGA’s “New Deal” seem cool, I think I’ll hold my applause for a bit while we review the fine print and see if this is a deal writers can live with as well.

Lord Vader “alters the bargain” for a stunned George Lucas!

I guess for now the best news today is that the AMPTP, after weeks of flat-out stonewalling, has finally offered to resume “informal negotiations” with WGA leaders. So after cleaning house earlier this week by decimating 65-plus writer development deals at the major studios and networks — under the dreaded “force majeure” clause, which basically means the studios can nullify their contract with you if any “unforeseeable circumstances” occur — the AMPTP is finally ready to talk business. Yeah!

But, like I said, hold your applause till we know more. And in the meantime, enjoy these stunning pics taken at the joint DGA/AMPTP press conference held today at the Death Star…

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“American Idol: Season Seven”

Let me start by saying that I don’t plan on documenting every twist and turn of a show that plays practically every night of the week…but, that said, I did want to write a little something about last night’s rocking Season Seven premiere of “American Idol”.

Crazy Black Chick in white hat & boa! (Jan. 15, 2008)

Yes, I know FOX is the enemy right now, and reality TV is an even more insidious enemy, but that said, as lame and cheesy as it can be at times, I simply cannot resist the gravitational pull of the early “freakshow audition” episodes of Idol.

Christine is totally not with me on this as she tends to favor the singing and dramatic elimination episodes to come. But to me, Idol is, first and foremost, all about the freaks!

Crazy Paul Robeson dude w/weird voice! (Jan. 15, 2008)

And this year’s premiere — masterfully culled from two-days of auditions in Philadelphia — did not disappoint. There was the strange moaning of the Paul Robeson dude in the yellow suit (above); the screaming, swearing meltdown of the rail-thin rocker chick (below); but best of all was the chunky black chick with the weird hair and the morbidly obese mother. I know it’s terrible to enjoy this, but man, was it awesome!

Crazy rocker chick! (Jan. 15, 2008)

This poor girl opened by saying she wanted to win the competition for her ill mother. OK, right there you have me and Christine reaching for the Kleenex…but then, she sang. Lord in Heaven…you never heard such a thing. Just the saddest, weakest voice imaginable. And when they let her down gently, she burst into tears. And once again, we reached for the Kleenex.

Randy, Paula and Simon felt so bad for this girl that they actually walked her back outside and hugged her wheelchair-bound mother. Pretty stirring stuff…but then it was back to work.

Sad bad singer w/morbidly obese momma! (Jan. 15, 2008)

There was the million-year old dude in the leopard-print vest (he said he was 39, but, well…does he look 39 to you?), the stalker dude (not pictured) who sang a self-penned ode to Paula where everything rhymed with “stalk” (Simon actually had him ejected by Security), and the insane “Hello Dolly”-era Barbra Streisand impersonator who they barely touched on. We were kind of dying to know what he/she sang…oh, well.

NOT 39-year-old dude! (Jan. 15, 2008)
Crazy “Hello Dolly” chick! (Jan. 15, 2008)

But the true stars of the night were the Princess Leia impersonators. Forget gravitational pull, these two were so entertaining I was in a freaking Imperial tractor beam. The saddest thing is that I actually saw not one, but BOTH of these people IN PERSON at the 30th Anniversary “Star Wars” convention here last May. I know…insert nerd joke here.

As you can imagine, neither of them could sing worth a damn, but who really cares how you sing when you’re rocking a cool Princess Leia costume?

Crazy Princess Leia chick! (Jan. 15, 2008)

Oh yeah, and the dude in the slave Leia outfit actually left for a bit to wax his chest for Paula…hilarious! I was expecting them to show the waxing and then use that “Ooo, Kelly Clarkson!” line from “The 40-year-old Virgin”, but alas, “Idol” — like so many reality shows — doesn’t employ WGA writers, so, no cool “Idol” throwback jokes for them. Ha!

And lest you think all the folks who auditioned last night were freakishly untalented, they did end the show with two genuinely good singers with truly touching back stories.

Crazy Princess Leia Dude! (Jan. 15, 2008)

The blonde (pictured below) is from Selma, Oregon, which is like, one town over from where Christine was raised…so, even if she sucked, she’s got our vote. But rather than suck, this girl rocked! She sounded amazing, AND she had to sell her beloved barrel horse (Christine knew what they were) so she could afford a plane ticket to the auditions. Wow…that is a story America can rally behind…you go, Oregon! You win that shit and buy yourself a whole bunch of barrel horses!

And then, they pulled out the big guns. This sweet-faced black chick (as you probably noticed, I didn’t remember any of their names…too early in the show for that stuff) came out and burned the audition room down. She was awesome and just in case her voice wasn’t enough to push her through, she has a young daughter with a disease that made her brain stop growing. OH MY GOD…we were literally sobbing when they showed her clip. Seriously, forget the competition, just give that girl the title already!

Super cool chick from Selma, Oregon! (Jan. 15, 2008)

And on top of everything else, the judges were truly hysterical. This part of the show is really their time to shine, and shine they did, baby. Simon was on fire last night, and this is only night one of what is sure to be a greatly expanded season. So…wow…lots of savage UK wit to look forward to!

I know what you’re thinking…we should so NOT be supporting Rupert Murdoch’s evil Empire by watching this crazy show, but I’m sorry, it’s literally like candy to us…and you know Christine and I loves us some candy.

Sweet-faced single-mom! (Jan. 15, 2008)

So, for now, we’re keeping the Kleenex close and the curtains drawn as we settle in for another kick-ass season of “American Idol”…


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Starless night…

OK, I know I’m a couple days late with this verdict, but my review of this year’s Golden-Globe-Awards meets-Access-Hollywood-suck-fest can be summed up in three simple words: WORST SHOW EVER!

My Golden Globe photoshop creation! Enjoy!

Someday, when the strike is long behind us, we should band together as a nation and try Access Hollywood’s curiously-orange Billy Bush and Nancy O’Dell for crimes against television. Seriously, NBC’s coverage of the event was probably the most painful hour of television I’ve sat through since some of those wobbly season three episode’s of “Lost”. I mean, wow…not only was the so-called “LIVE” feed obviously NOT live, but that banter was like, excruciatingly bad…

“Wow, I didn’t think she’d win…I thought [blank] would win…” For the love of Pete, who cares who you thought would win? You’re Billy Bush!! And then, the real kicker came when Mr. Bush and Ms. O’Dell totally skipped over the screenwriting award. Nice one, NBC. Real mature…

The HFPA’s Golden Globe Press Conference (Jan. 13, 2008)

NOT Mary Hart @ the HFPA’s Press Conference (Jan. 13, 2008)

In their defense, the Best Screenplay award wasn’t the only one they skipped over, but seeing as the original press conference only took 35 minutes and NBC broadcast their show for an hour, it would seem that they’d have plenty of time to get to all the awards. But, no such luck. You could almost hear the NBC suits laughing: “We’ll show those striking writers…muh-ha-ha-ha!”

But hey, skipping the writing award — they also didn’t announce the winners of Best Foreign Film, Score and Best Mini-Series or Movie Made For Television — was really just the nail in the coffin of an already epically bad show. I’m not kidding, compared to the crap NBC cobbled together, the Hollywood Foreign Press’ boring — but factually “Live” — reading of the winner’s names seem positively riveting!

The HFPA’s “GG” Press Conference (Jan. 13, 2008)

And in honor of that fact, aside from my photo collage above, I’m only including pics today of the Hollywood Foreign Press event. So, right back at ya, NBC!

But speaking of the HFPA’s event…wow…who would think we’d live to see the day when Mary Hart seemed regal and well…entertaining? Man alive, we were so hungry for star-wattage at that point that we just totally ate her up! But, sadly, even Mary’s delivery was a bit forced at times. So, in the end, we just felt kinda bad for the winner’s…I mean, this thing was a total disaster all around.

The glamorous Mary Hart @ the HFPA’s Press Conference (Jan. 13, 2008)

But once again, a disaster that could have been easily averted weeks ago had the AMPTP not broken off talks with WGA leaderships back in December.

I’m just praying the Studios and Network honchos “man up” and return to the bargaining table soon, so we can avoid another nightmare like this come Oscar time…I mean, hello, we’ve got a party to plan!


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WGA Award Nominees

With the Directors, Editors and Cinematographers all chiming in this week with their guild award nominees, it’s only fitting that the WGA joined the fray with some rocking nominations of our own. See…we’re not totally opposed to awards!

The WGA award in all her glory!

While there are no major surprises this year, I have to say that this is the closest my ballot has ever come to reflecting the actual nominees. Six of the movies I picked got nominated this year, three for Best Original Screenplay and three for Best Adapted Screenplay. So, yeah for me!

Since the WGA has elected not to hold an awards show until after the strike is resolved, the winners will be announced on February 9th. Although, if what some sources online are saying is true, announcements may not be necessary at all…

It seems that the WGA’s initial press release did NOT list the nominees in alphabetical order. Instead, they listed front-runner’s “Juno” and “No Country For Old Men” first in their respective categories, followed by the rest of the curiously non-alphabetized nominees. So, did the guild mistakenly reveal the nominees in order of popularity or was this a simple clerical mistake?

Hmm…I guess we’ll have to wait till February 9th to find out! In the meantime, I give you this year’s ALPHABETIZED nominees…


“Juno” – Diablo Cody

“Knocked Up” – Judd Apatow

“Lars And The Real Girl” – Nancy Oliver

“Michael Clayton” – Tony Gilroy

“The Savages” – Tamara Jenkins


“The Diving Bell And The Butterfly” – Ronald Harwood

“Into The Wild” – Sean Penn

“No Country For Old Men” – Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

“There Will Be Blood” – Paul Thomas Anderson

“Zodiac” – James Vanderbilt

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Golden Globes Update…

Wow…this week just keeps getting worse and worse for NBC. Not only are they not televising an award show — crews are actually tearing down the set for the show as I type — but they have also lost exclusive rights to their fake-ass “news conference” they were going to hold on Sunday! And that means, no picketing for us…yeah!

“Miss Golden Globes 2008″ Rumer Willis in a scene from an upcoming film!

It seems the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the entity behind the Golden Globes, has re-assumed complete control of the press conference and decided that rather than give exclusive rights to the show to NBC, they’d open the event to all media outlets!

Wow…I guess NBC’s plan to reclassify their fizzy awards show as “news” actually worked. The show has become news and as such, is open to all. In the words of “The Simpsons” Nelson Muntz: “Ha, ha!” And while I think NBC can only blame themselves for the enormity of this clusterfuck, I gotta say I feel a little bad for this year’s Miss Golden Globes, Rumer Willis (pictured in the bizarre dunce cap get-up above and a more normal pic below).

“Miss Golden Globes” Rumer Willis in gold!

For those of you not familiar with the tradition, Miss Golden Globes is the pretty young thing chosen each year to hand out awards onstage. The HFPA usually choses daughters (and sometimes, sons) of Hollywood celebrities. For instance, last year’s Miss Golden Globes was the daughter of Jack Nicholson, the year before that, it was the daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith.

Sadly, this year’s pick, Rumer Willis (daughter of Bruce and Demi) will now go down in the Hollywood history books as the Miss Golden Globes that wasn’t…

Sorry, Rumer. But who knows, maybe if you’re lucky they’ll let you hold some of the awards at the news conference!

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Missing Moguls!

Found these hilarious “Missing” posters of the six major Hollywood CEO’s — who pretty much control the AMPTP — last night on and had to share them with you…

My favorite is the scary-ass picture of Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone seen below. As if that fossil wasn’t freaky looking enough already, this “artist’s rendering” of him is downright horrifying!

Sumner Redstone!

Oh yeah, and just heard today that the WGA may NOT be picketing the Golden Globes “news conference” after all. Things are still up in the air, but if and when we picket, you can bet your ass I’ll be there in my red or grey shirt, camera in hand. Until then, enjoy this rogues’ gallery of “Missing Moguls!”

Rupert Murdoch!
Les Moonves!
Barry Meyer!
Jeff Zucker!
Bob Iger!

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Johnny Grant (1923-2008)

Yesterday, we were saddened to hear of the death of iconic Hollywood huckster, Johnny Grant at the age of 84. The unofficial “Mayor of Hollywood” for as long as anyone down here can remember, this dude seriously put the show in show business.

Johnny Grant awarding a star to Godzilla!

And though I never had the joy of meeting him, he has shopped at Christine’s store a number of times and she said he was just as bouncy, funny and awesomely insane as he appeared on TV. I’m not talking literally crazy, but bigger than life crazy. Like Angelene, or that loopy black dude with the singing puppet at the Hollywood Bowl, Johnny Grant was one-of-a-kind and a true Hollywood original.

In his seven-decade career Grant worked in TV, radio, movies and even hosted a couple of early game shows, but he’ll probably be best remembered for presiding over literally hundreds of Hollywood Walk of Fame induction ceremonies. And not only was he known as the “Mayor of Hollywood” but he was also the town’s biggest cheerleader!

David Arquette, Kermit & Johnny Grant!

Even before Hollywood Blvd. began it’s Hollywood & Highland/Kodak Theatre glamification in the 1990’s, Grant realized the importance of keeping the town’s legacy alive. And if that meant coaxing A-list talent down to hooker-strewn Hollywood Blvd. for a lively induction ceremony or the long-running Hollywood Christmas Parade, then so be it.

If you wanted some old-school star wattage at an event, Johnny Grant was your man. Young or old, celebrities loved him and more importantly, they showed up for shit when he invited them!

And though I still question his wisdom in awarding a star to “American Idol’s” Ryan Seacrest, I gotta say, that perky little dude with the glasses kept the Hollywood dream alive — not just for Angelenos, but for the world — even when the town itself was truly ghetto-tastic.

The munchkins finally get their star!

So for that, and the super cool fact that you awarded stars to a guy in a Godzilla suit, the surviving munchkins from “The Wizard of Oz”, and a muppet, we salute you, Johnny Grant! This town won’t be the same without you…

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WGA to picket Golden Globes!

Desperately struggling to maintain some semblance of the usually record ratings (not to mention millions of dollars in lost ad revenue) they garner each year from the Golden Globe telecast, NBC has officially reached rock bottom.

Details are still being worked out, but apparently the network is planning on airing a four-hour evening of Golden Globe “news” and clip segments culminating in a one-hour news conference at 6pm PST to announce the winners.

Duran Duran “Red Carpet Massacre” album cover (Jan. 9, 2008)

I know…sounds riveting, doesn’t it? The crazy thing is that all this insanity could have been easily avoided had the AMPTP simply returned to the bargaining table and even attempted to negotiate with us in good faith. I mean, come on, NBC, you’d rather cripple one of the highlights of your broadcasting year than even begin to talk to us about new media? Madness…

Anyway, this evening of stellar television will be written and produced by NBC’s news division. Which means they can call the nominated film clips “news” and use whatever they like while having their “news” writers (who are not on strike) draft up some witty banter for the Hollywood Foreign Press’ “news conference” announcing the winners. Aha, what a clever little Peacock you are!

But the bad news (pun intended) for NBC is that many of the planned post-Globe parties that they had been hoping to cover that night have been scrapped. So, that red carpet that NBC was still hoping to roll out to greet the nominees (if they even showed up) as they arrived for the after-parties looks like it might go the way of the rest of the show.

“Red Carpet Massacre” detail (Jan. 9, 2008)

And the best news of all is that no matter what kind of weak-ass “news” event NBC attempts to cobble together on Sunday night, striking writers will be there in force! Because earlier tonight, the WGA announced that we will, in fact, be picketing outside the Golden Globes from 3-7pm on Sunday evening. Yeah!

And while I don’t predict any of the bloodshed depicted on the otherwise totally unrelated Duran Duran album cover above, I loved the title and couldn’t resist posting these rocking pics. And in case anyone was wondering…I hear from reliable “Duranies” that the new songs aren’t nearly as good as the cover art, but wow, what cover art! Go union!


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The Ron Paul Revolution…

On Monday, firebrand Republican Presidential Candidate, Ron Paul made his way across the WGA picket line for a pre-New Hampshire primary sit-down with “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno. And though I missed Paul’s dramatic arrival at NBC’s back gate, I did get to meet boatloads of his fervent supporters out front after the show, and man alive, do these folks love Ron Paul.

“Ron Paul Revolution” signs @ NBC Burbank (Jan. 7, 2008)

I don’t know too much about Paul’s politics, and even though his crossing a picket line to appear on Jay’s currently writer-less show calls to mind a certain Huckabee that I hate, I must say that anyone that engenders that much fanatical support from their followers has gotta be doing something right.

I’m not kidding, these guys were impassioned! And as soon as the “Tonight Show” taping ended, they hurried over to our Strike Captains on the picket line to explain exactly why Paul had crossed the line.

WGA members meeting Ron Paul supporters! (Jan. 7, 2008)

According to them, Paul was angry after being completely shut out of the last couple of televised Republican debates, so when the offer came (apparently from Jay himself) to appear on “The Tonight Show”, he took it.

I don’t know if I exactly buy Paul’s excuse, but either way, that dude got his message out! Big time! Watching the show later, I was stunned by how totally rational Paul sounded. Especially for someone who said his favorite Democratic candidate is Dennis Kucinich. I mean, hell, I love Kucinich myself, but wow, aligning yourself with a little stoner like “Tiny K” takes guts!

Me and Ron Paul’s number one supporter! (Jan. 7, 2008)

So, even if I didn’t see eye to eye with Paul (or his fiery supporters) on everything I still gotta give the guy credit for maintaining such an intelligent, well-spoken and insanely loyal following.

And though that charming older woman in the red shirt (above) scared me a bit — Christine said you can see the fear in my eyes — I’m still proud to live in a country where people like Paul and Kucinich can run for the highest elected office in the land…even if they have no chance in hell of winning.

Rock on, America!

The fiery Ron Paul sunset @ NBC Burbank (Jan. 7, 2008)


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Happy Birthday, Elvis!

Today would have been Elvis Presley’s 73rd birthday, and since Christine and I are still in our first full year of crazy Elvis fandom, we were a little unsure of how to celebrate. There was never a question of celebrating, mind you, just what exactly to do?

Elvis Presley birthday shrine! (Jan. 8, 2008)

So, just after midnight last night, I gathered all the Elvis paraphernalia I could find in our place, set up a shrine to The King and finally lit that rocking “Forever Elvis” prayer candle we bought last August at Graceland.

And that’s just the beginning…Christine has toyed with the idea of making a cake later tonight and possibly even peanut butter and banana sandwiches — done Cali-style, with crunchy peanut butter NOT smooth — but trust me, nothing we could do, could possibly compare to the celebration happening today at Graceland.

Elvis paraphernalia on parade! (Jan. 8, 2008)

Apparently not as well attended as the Elvis Week festivities held each August (culminating on August 16th, the day he died in 1977) the annual Elvis Presley birthday celebration at Graceland is nothing to scoff at.

According to, the annual cake cutting on the front lawn will be even more festive this year with the appearance (for the first time EVER at this event) of none other than the ex-Mrs. Elvis herself, Priscilla Presley. Very cool!

Then, complimentary birthday cake and coffee will be served at the Chrome Cafe across the street from the mansion! Wow…we didn’t get no free coffee for Elvis Week! And even cooler still, the cake is being designed by the “culinary artists” at the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis, so it should be pretty cool looking.

Anyway, wherever you are and however you chose to celebrate Elvis Presley’s 73rd birthday, have a good one…and long live The King!

Elvis Presley birthday vignette by T. Romero! (Jan. 8, 2008)


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“Iron Chef America”: Oliver vs. Batali

OK, normally Christine and I are not huge fans of the U.S. version of Food Network’s “Iron Chef America”, but after last night’s epic throw-down with two of our favorite celebrity chef’s, Jamie Oliver and Mario Batali, well, we might just change our tune…

“Naked Chef” Jamie Oliver!

Since they are both best known for their rocking Italian “sapore”, these two kitchen Jedis couldn’t be more perfectly matched. And watching them go head-to-head in that crazy-big kitchen stadium was downright thrilling. They were quick, informative and funny as hell!

And they weren’t the only ones that were funny. Mario’s sous chef, Anne Burrell, seemed to be smiling and/or laughing the whole time and to really shake things up, Jamie brought along his old-school mentor, the “Italian Rasputin” himself, Gennaro Contaldo, who was absolutely hilarious. You have not lived till you’ve seen this dude crack an ostrich egg with a hammer and a screwdriver…awesome!

“Iron Chef America” star, Chef Mario Batali!

As for the food, I can’t remember what kind of fish they used as the “secret ingredient”, but I do know it looked way better cooked than it did when they first fished it out of that tank. Yikes…

And just when we thought things couldn’t get any cooler on this already amazing episode, the host revealed that one of the judges was none other than our favorite Asian robot, Julie “Chenbot” Chen!

“Big Brother’s” Julie “Chenbot” Chen!

I’m not kidding, Christine and I were in geek nirvana…Jamie and Gennaro; Mario wearing his iconic orange Crocs (pictured below); and “Big Brother’s” Chenbot actually eating food! On the same show! Whoa…and they said the strike would ruin our TV prospects in the new year! Ha! Whatever Food Network genius dreamt up this “perfect storm” of a line-up deserves an Emmy! Big time!

I won’t give away the ending by telling you who actually wins the competition, but I will say that that sassy Chenbot did her fair share of drooling over Jamie’s dishes…and I’m not talking about his fried fish and chips with mushy peas…if you know what I’m saying…

Officially licensed Mario Batali Crocs!

So, if you get a chance to catch this one in repeats (which I’m sure you will as they run these things non-stop) I encourage everyone to check it out. Even non-fans of the show will have — in the words of Señor Oliver — a smashing good time!


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The Chenbot Revealed…

While searching for some cool pics of Julie Chen for the next post, came across this pair of amazingly bad pictures and simply had to share them with you.

Non-fans of “Big Brother” — and they are legion, especially on the picket lines right now — might not appreciate these warts-and-all pictures of Ms. Chen, but any true fan will tell you that the Chenbot is never seen in public without every hair on her shiny plastic head in place. Until now…

The Chenbot unmasked…

The Chenbot setting her lasers for stun!

Apparently, these screencaps are from a “Big Brother: All Star” gag reel put together by the crew at the end-of-season rap party. I have no clue what she’s saying, but the sight of a hot Asian robot in curlers is just hilarious to me…even if she is married to the mad robot king of CBS himself, Les Moonves.

Ah, well, nobody’s perfect…rock on Chenbot!


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SAG to boycott Golden Globes!

Just got word from above that the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) — with the staunch, whole-hearted approval of each and every one of their Golden Globe nominated union members — has agreed to boycott this year’s Golden Globe awards!

That means that if the strike is not resolved before the 13th of January (next Sunday!) and the WGA pickets the Golden Globes (as they have vowed to do, and I vow right now to photograph for you) then no SAG member will cross the picket line either to announce the winners or to receive their awards. Wow, that’s some serious support, guys. Thanks!

Getty Images pic of the Golden Globes homebase, the Beverly Hilton Hotel

And as for the greedy bastards at NBC (the longtime home of the Globes) well, good luck with that whole “putting on a show” thing…

Included below is SAG President, Alan “heads will roll” Rosenberg’s official statement from the SAG website. Enjoy!

“After considerable outreach to Golden Globe actor nominees and their representatives over the past several weeks, there appears to be unanimous agreement that these actors will not cross WGA picket lines to appear on the Golden Globe Awards as acceptors or presenters. We applaud our members for this remarkable show of solidarity for striking Writers Guild of America writers.

“We have also been asked about our position regarding network talk shows. We urge our members to appear on the two programs that have independent agreements with the WGA, The Late Show with David Letterman and Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. However, actors who are asked to appear on the struck network talk shows will have to cross WGA picket lines, creating the same situation that has led to the consensus among actors to skip the Golden Globes.

“As I have said since this strike began on November 5th, we must stand united with our brothers and sisters at the WGA.”


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We Hate Huckabee!

Since I’m sure most Iowa caucus voters have already decided which way they’ll vote, and I highly doubt that we have any readers out there anyway, the political fallout from this post is probably gonna be pretty minimal at best.

“What the Huck?” picket signs @ NBC Burbank (January 2, 2008)

But just in case there are a few Iowan’s on the fence about who to vote for today, I offer you these amusing picket signs protesting Republican Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee’s picket-line-crossing appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno”.

“WWJD? He’d watch Letterman” picket sign @ NBC Burbank (January 2, 2008)

While the expected “I Don’t Heart Huckabee” picket sign was still my favorite, some of these others ones came pretty damn close. So, enjoy the ongoing parade of WGA Huckabee bashing picket signs!

And if you’re a Republican in Iowa, I’d say vote for McCain or the Mormon. They might waffle a bit on the issues, but you’d never catch either one of them crossing a union picket line. Well, you know, at least during an election year…

“Why does Huckabee hate working people?” picket sign (January 2, 2008)
“Why does Huckabee hate America’s Unions?” picket sign (January 2, 2008)
“Huckabee, Jesus wouldn’t cross” picket sign (January 2, 2008)


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The Return of Late Night…

Having just power-Tivo-ed through all four of the major late night shows that returned to the air tonight, two of which employed WGA writing staffs (“Late Night With David Letterman” and “The Late, Late Show With Craig Ferguson” on CBS) and two of which, sadly, did not (“The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and “Late Night With Conan O’Brien”) I can offer you now, a verdict.

The “Tonight Show” picket line @ NBC Burbank (January 2, 2008)

And to accompany that verdict, here are some pics from today’s picket line at NBC. As you can see there were huge crowds picketing the network’s heavily promoted “Return of Late-Night”. And isn’t it funny how none of the publicity mentions what the shows are returning from…writer’s strike? What’s that?

Anyway, onto the shows. While old Jay and Conan tried their damndest on NBC, I gotta tell ya, man, the WGA staffed shows (who were allowed to return to work when Letterman’s company Worldwide Pants brokered an independent deal with the guild) were far superior to the lamely improvised bits that filled up much of Leno and O’Brien’s air time. And the guests…yikes?

“Jay, you’re gonna miss your writers” picket sign @ NBC (January 2, 2008)

His best “Bill Clinton with the band on Arsenio” imitation aside, the guitar-strumming Republican Presidential Candidate, Mike Huckabee was a real snooze. And Jay’s well-intentioned, but painfully unfunny auidience Q&A made Ellen Degeneres’ recent material look funny. It wasn’t entirely Jay’s fault (and in his defense, he has been really good to us folks at NBC) but man, it made for some pretty horrendous television.

Conan was a little funnier, but by the twenty minute mark, it was clear that even he was running out of steam. And when your guest is the criminally unfunny Bob Saget (host of NBC’s criminally awful “1 vs. 100” ) you don’t have very much to work with. It was like Conan’s usual show, just not as funny.

“Not ‘Tonight’ Honey” picket sign @ NBC (January 2, 2008)

And try as they might, both Conan and Jay came across as a little desperate, trying to fill time however they could with whatever they could. Which is really never a good idea…

On the other end of the spectrum was Craig Ferguson, who I am not at all a fan of. But he was very funny and quick with the jokes, and though the total absence of guests (was no one from a third-rate CBS reality or game show available?) was kind of odd, he did make up for it by referencing the strike many times. So, kudos to you, Highlander!

Beefed-up “Tonight Show” security @ NBC Burbank (January 2, 2008)

And then, there was David Letterman. I’m not kidding, his first show back will someday be the stuff of TV legend. It was biting, hilarious and truly, spectacularly entertaining. Not only did he reference the strike and the fact that the WGA’s demands are beyond fair, but he actually opened the show with dancing girls with WGA picket signs. Hilarious!

And the searing strike commentary by his head writer was awesome. It is really hard to find the humor in much of what has transpired these last nine weeks, but wow, he nailed it. Christine and I were stunned that old Les Moonves even let that shit air. I mean, it was pretty incendiary stuff!

CBS news interviews a “Tonight Show” audience member (January 2, 2008)

And even though Robin Williams was, as always, imminently fast-forwardable, the rest of the show more than made up for his antics. My apologies to Jimmy Kimmel, whose show we couldn’t Tivo or watch as we were busy with the others, but I hear he got up on his WGA soapbox a few times too, so, cool!

And last but far from least, I gotta say Conan and David Letterman’s rocking “strike beards” have to be seen to be believed. Seriously, they put my puny attempt at facial hair to shame in a big way.

Me and Patty antagonizing the CBS news crew! (January 2, 2008)

So, rock on strike beards, long may you grow! And remember, if you’re looking for good late night TV from here on out, stick to union shows. Go, Letterman!

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Funky Knitted Necklace & Scalloped Scarf

Wow, I know, 2 in a row from Farmer’s Daughter. I have been busy fulfilling my “Make” duties! These again are for girls I work with. The necklace was started in August. I even brought in the car on our Music Highway tour of Tennessee. It was a bit difficult to make. I’d like to challenge anyone to knit closed a ball while holding the stuffing inside it!

Funky knitted necklace by the Farmer’s Daughter Bean (Dec. 2007)

Once I got the hang of it, it wasn’t so bad, but it still was awkward. Natalie had seen the pattern in a book I checked out from the library called “Domiknitrix”. She showed some wicked enthusiasm (Tom’s words, not mine) for the necklace, so I had to make it for her.

Funky knitted necklace by Farmer’s Daughter Bean (Christmas 2007)

The scarf was crocheted for Sarah. I haven’t done a lot of crocheting, so it started off as a bit of a challenge too. I had tried to knit several different scarfs, but every one was coming out too manly. I wanted something pretty and feminine for her, so I pulled out “The Happy Hooker” and found this pattern. It’s made with organic cotton yarn and is really soft.

Scalloped scarf for Sarah by Farmer’s Daughter Bean (December 2007)

Both girls really seemed to like their gifts, so, yeah for me! Now if I could just finish that scarf for Yeti9000, all would be right with the world…


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Handmade Toys

Farmer’s Daughter here again. I’ve been waiting to write about some cool Christmas gifts that I made this year. I didn’t want to give away any surprises before the gifts were given, but now it’s safe.

“The Kidnapper” and “Bad Guy” handsewn toys by the Farmer’s Daughter (Christmas 2007)

These were all made for girls I work with at The Library Store. The 1st two are from “The Cute Book”, which has lots of sweet things too. The ones I chose just happen to be more on the sinister side. The one holding the bag is called the Kidnapper and the other one is Bad Guy.

“The Kidnapper” by Farmer’s Daughter Bean (December 2007)

They are made with felt, most of it handsewn together, a few pieces glued on, and stuffed with polyfill. They are as tiny as they look, so it was definitely difficult to stuff them. I used a toothpick, but even that was hard. Alyssa appreciated them and said they were her two favorite characters from the book.

“Softie Tooth” by Farmer’s Daughter Bean (December 2007)

The tooth was for Natalie who loves teeth things. It’s a bit bigger and so it was easier to make. It’s made the same way, but no gluing on this! Those face details are embroidered! It’s from a book called “Softies” which has tons of cool toys you can make and includes patterns for most.

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