Monthly Archives: March 2010

Cop Rocks

So, I pretty much watch at least one episode of the long running television show Law & Order:  SVU every day.  The program serves a duel purpose of entertaining me with its crime-of-the-hour type yarns AND distracting me from working on anything constructive.  Lord knows that there are enough episodes around that I could probably keep this up for a good year or two.  The show itself is a spin-off, of course, of the even longer running show, plain old Law & Order. I love the franchise (except for Criminal Intent…can’t get into it for some reason.)

I bet anybody who has read at least two entries on this blog would wager that today’s entry is being pecked out in celebration of the hotness that is Mariska Hargitay.  Well, you’re only half right.  I’m heartily looking forward to the day that I sit down and Google-image the heck out of sensitive yet capable Detective Benson.  But, my love for SVU goes far beyond just perving over Olivia.  I pretty much love the whole ensemble.  I love Easter Island-headed Christopher Meloni as Detective Stabler and the always earnest Captain Cragen as played by Dann Florek.  I love Tamara Tunie as M.E. Melinda Warner and I love Stephanie March’s Alexandra Cabot (though I miss Diane Neal’s Casey Novak), and yes, I even love you Ice-T!

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Drink!

Actually, my friend Kimie has come up with an ingenious drinking game for SVU involving Ice-T.  Every time someone says something that could be construed as racist and the camera pans to Detective Tutuola–who in turn throws up a squinty-eyed scowl–you take a drink.  You’ll be tanked by the time the focus shifts from the arrest to the court case.

But today’s prize goes to perhaps the most underappreciated of the squad:

125.  Richard Belzer as Det. John Munch

Belzer is awesome for a number of reasons.  His lefty conspiracy-theory enthusiast character–Detective John Munch– is, from what I can tell, just pretty much Richard Belzer playing himself.  His scenes on the program highlight a snarky but wise cop with great instincts.  His character is definitely the longest-running of those on SVU (if only because Detective Munch was actually born on an earlier show–Homicide:  Life on the Street).  Yet, Detective Munch hasn’t lost his ability to care about the victims or other squad members.  He’s just a guy you would want to know if you lived in that world.  And if you wanted to talk about the Illuminati with someone.

Here is more evidence that I have unearthed pointing to his awesomeness.

1.  He is the cousin of The Fonz (Henry Winkler).

2.  He resides in France part time  (I guess when he’s not shooting).  He clearly has good taste in cheese.

3.  He was a warm-up comic for SNL in the seventies.  In fact let’s look at some of his early stand-up, shall we?

I especially like that he’s sporting the same haircut Tom Cruise rocked in MI: 2. I think it looks better on Belzer, actually.

4.  De Niro is said to have studied him for King of Comedy.  I have never seen The King of Comedy.  (I know…for shame.)  But, that’s a pretty cool credit right there.  If I were ever the muse for a movie, that movie would be called The Queen of  Snacking and Procrastinating.

5.  He supports North Shore Animal League.  This is a pic of his one of his dogs.  Animal lovers are good people.  He even blogged against dog-fighting for Huffpost.  Link

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Bebe--she's French.

6.  He’s a cancer survivor.

7.  As I mentioned earlier, Belzer has played Detective John Munch on nine different shows (on different networks even).  Munch has been on some of the coolest shows ever, including X-Files, Arrested Development, and The Wire.

8.  Belzer has featured on Sesame Street three times!  In season 38, he presented the word of the day–which was ‘lazy’.

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His Muppet stuntman--no, seriously...

Here’s a little bit of SVU as interpreted by Sesame Street.  The Belzer Muppet is dead-on.

9.  Silver fox can rock a scarf!

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Steal this look.

I only wish that we got TNT over here in the UK so that I could watch eight hours of Law & Order a day like my American friends get to.  Oh, USA, your streets truly are paved with gold.

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Filed under Characters, comedy, People, TV

And the Award For Best Bit of the Night Goes To…

Well, I’ve never been the most topical blog.  I mean, only last year did I express my love for Madeline Kahn in the movie Clue.  So, admittedly, I’m about two weeks late in coming to this award-party.  But, I just watched The Oscars.  There was a lot done right, in my opinion.  Though I absolutely hate the ass-kissingly awful way they present the nominees for best actor and actress nowadays–“Meryl Streep, the first black president in the Western World was elected last year…but it was your performance in Julie and Julia that really changed the world”–I did like much of the program.  I will readily admit that I’m on the side of the fence that actually liked the dance crew routine for best original score and I think Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin did not disappoint.  I can’t stop saying “There’s that damn Helen Mirren”.  (One of the best lines of the night) and I also can’t stop sniggering about today’s great thing.

124.  Oscar Night’s Parody of Paranormal Activity

I’m not going to pretend that I’ve actually seen the film on which this parody is based.  But, Paranormal Activity was a pretty talked-about pop culture nugget towards the end of last year and I think I got the gist.  Spooky house…married couple can’t figure out what’s disturbing them or what’s happening whilst they sleep…video cam is set up…crazy crap is captured on film…moments of terror ensue.  Got it.  I adore Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin anyway.  Here they are, as captured in two of my favorite films.

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The Jerk

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Beetlejuice

So, I was pretty excited when it was announced that they would be sharing the Oscar hosting responsibilities this year.  I mean, I even want to see It’s Complicated based on the promise of their combined magic.  I love these guys.  Whilst, I wouldn’t call this year’s ceremony a total knock-out (yes even this dynamic duo had a few mis-fires), I thought it was pretty fun.  Without further adieu, here is the best bit of the night:

As someone who suffers occasionally from night terrors, I can relate.  Nothing like getting up and staring in a paranoid fashion at the wall.  Sometimes it takes me ten minutes to figure out that the evil red light is just the alarm clock.  I also reportedly hog the covers and flail endlessly in my sleep (this is according to my gf…though I’m tempted to get some vid cam proof of this myself).  This is all highly familiar territory.

The slap, of course sends me into hysterics.  Watch it again and look at Baldwin’s hand shoot up in the air after the attack.  Perfect.

The Oscar website has an extended version, but I actually think they chose the right one to air.  Link to extended version The extra bits actually make it LESS funny because it presents Steve Martin as being more conscious through it all whereas I think this little satire works because they’re both supposed to be unaware of what they’re doing.  What say you?

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Filed under comedy, Movies, TV

Combos: American Fondue

When I travel back to The States, I like to stock up on a few things:  Entertainment Weekly magazine, novelties for folks at work (things they can’t get…like handcream that sanitizes AND moisturizes–thank you Bath and Body works), and junk food that I miss.  Today’s entry fills two of those categories.  It’s the glorious, non-British, snack food known to us Yankees as:

123.  Combos

Combos have been around since the mid-seventies…just in time for my birth!  They come in several varieties…all involving cheese in its most delicious state (a gel/paste).  You also get to choose from three cheese-containing shells:  pretzel, cracker, and new tortilla variety.

It wasn’t until the airport that I decided that I NEEDED to bring some back with me on this latest trip.  I picked the biggest bag of pizzeria/pretzel variety that I could find.  I wish I had also bought a cracker variety.  But no time for shoulda/coulda/wouldas…they’ll have to wait until the next trip.  Unless someone wants to send me some (Mom).

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A breathtaking variety

Combos are an exemplary snack for a number of reasons.

First of all, they’re actually not as fattening as you think they’d be.  I know that being overly concerned about what your cheese-filled snack is doing to you, calorically speaking, is a bit besides the point, but every little bit helps, doesn’t it?

Secondly, Combos are uniquely American.  The Swiss might heat up their fancy cheese to  bubbling ecstasy.  Yes, they might have boulangerie-fresh crusty bread to dip into said bubbling cheese potion.  But, only Americans would stuff spreadable orange cheese into a tube-shaped snack on a conveyor belt.  We do this because we have no shame.  And thank God for that–because without this hubris-free audacity, the world would be deprived of this beautiful munchee.

Thirdly, Combos are a cheese-filled snack that appeal to even cheese-haters.  My sister is a such an ardent cheese-phobe that she pulls the mozzarella off of her pizza (tragic, I know).  But even she can eat the pizza flavored pretzel variety…though she does turn up her nose at the crackery nacho variety.  It’s too much.  Still, cheese-eaters united with non-cheese eaters makes for a happy household.

Finally, Combos are probably the snack that looks MOST like a dog treat.  Yes, the comparison has been made before, in pithier blogs–but, it’s an apt one.  Look here:  Snausages!

I know that something being compared to dog food should make me like it LESS but for whatever reason, it doesn’t.  I want the whole bag.  Also, I sort of want to eat a Snausage to see what it tastes like.

I’m not the only one in love with Combos.  Check out this article from the Associated Press that describes them rather adoringly.  Newsworthy!

Something I found rather curious about these cheese-filled little Lincoln Logs is the current marketing campaign…or maybe it’s always been this way.  Have Combos ALWAYS been so heavily marketed towards men?  I feel like everything I talk about lately on this blog winds up being scrutinized a bit from a feminist angle.  I don’t mean to be hung-up.  I’m just observant.  You know how us girls obsess needlessly over minutiae.

Let’s look at a recent commercial for Combos, shall we?  This part of a larger campaign called “Man Mom”.  The “Man Mom” ads are silly and fun but are definitely geared towards men…there’s no dispute about that:

In addition to that ad, if you swing over to their official website, you’ll also notice that it’s pretty masculine territory on-line too.  combos.com

It labels Combo eaters as ‘combivores’, celebrates their racecar sponsorship, and postulates that ‘combivores’ would love an invention that would turn their toilet-paper into a sort of tickertape that updated the pooping ‘combivore’ with sports stats and scores as they did their toilet business.

So, OK, you want to target men as your demographic…specifically constipated Nascar fans.  But, I just don’t understand why?  Who is it that decides which food should be marketed to which gender?  Why do women get ick like yogurt and Sun Chips and men get beer and beef jerky?  Girls can be disgusting pigs too!  We’re not all of us always on diets.  Come on, Madison Avenue.  Stop gender-typing the crap that I eat.  As if I need my junk food to label me as even MORE of a tomboy than I already am.

Meanwhile, has anyone tried the new tortilla-shelled variety of Combos yet?  I’m eager to sample them.

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Filed under Vittles

Pre-Clarice Starling Role Models

I know that today’s great thing is not a particularly great film.  Rottentomatoes.com gives it a measly 20% rating. Say what?! But, I’d like to honor it anyway for honorable service to my youth and childhood.  This film was the preferred viewing choice on many a snow day and school holiday.  My sister and I would laze about–Steph on the couch and me sprawled out on the floor with a big pillow–with bowls of snacks and plastic cups of ice tea and watch this movie.  We had about half of it memorized.

122.  Feds

In almost every way, this flick epitomizes what was so good about eighties films and what was so very wrong.  First of all, it’s PG-rated, so there’s an inspirational message behind it (teaming up is great, people need brains AND brawn, don’t give up on your dreams even if they seem impossible, hard work pays off, etc…).  Secondly it’s a perfect example of the highly popular eighties genre–the “buddy cop” picture.  Thirdly, the score is riddled with dancey electronic synthesizers.  Perfection.

If you’ve never seen this picture, you better drag out your VCR because (through some massive oversight, obviously), it’s not yet available on DVD.  You hear that Warner Bros.?  Get on it.  My pre-teen self is screaming out for a copy.  Anyway, in a nutshell, as if you couldn’t figure this out by scrolling down and examining the movie poster, it’s about two FBI cadets who, at first, don’t really get along because they’re, you know, so different from each other.  But, they wind up becoming friends and helping each other to develop the skills that they lack.  Obviously, Mary Gross (sister of Family Ties’ Michael Gross and SNL aluma) is the brainy one and Rebecca De Mornay (Risky Business, Hand That Rocks The Cradle) is the one that can do push-ups.

When browsing around the Internet for clips/pics to use of Feds, I was disappointed to find that the publicity and promotion for the flick was highly sexist.

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Haha...hey, wait a second, screw you, marketing dude!

This poster seems to imply that Americans SHOULDN’T feel safer knowing that there are women like this in the FBI program.  Uh oh!  Don’t give women any guns or power!  Don’t put them in any position of authority!  It’s like that old misogynistic chestnut:  ‘women can’t be president because when they menstruate they’re gonna have their finger on the button’.   Everyone knows that all succesful and responsible female politicians lock themselves into a re-inforced iron-barred werewolf cage when it’s their time of month–just to prevent that sort of international disaster!  So, I wish that kind of paranoid bullcrap would stop.

Even the trailer seems to capitalize on this outdated (even for the eighties) notion:

In reality, the film doesn’t play out like that.  It trades less on pointing and laughing at these characters because they’re women and more on the notion of nerds and toughs coming together.  If the fact that they’re women is an issue at all, it’s really just to celebrate a trend towards diversity in America’s federal institutions.  OK…maybe that’s giving it a bit too much credit, but truly, the movie isn’t as chauvinist as the ads would have you believe.  Thank God.  Directed by Daniel Goldberg (who also co-wrote it with Len Blum), the joke is more on the institutional good-old boys than it was on the ladies who were coming up.

My sister and I probably watched the movie at least twenty times between when it came out (1988) and when she left for college (1992).  I especially liked the scene where (and I don’t want to give anything away here), Rebecca De Mornay totally smokes a male cadet in a pizza-eating contest.  That pizza always looked sooo good.

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In a pizza-eating contest, all who try will win.

I was also, always mildly disappointed that Rebecca De Mornay’s character, Ellie DeWitt got with a guy.  She was so cute with her blond pony-tail and brown leather bomber jacket.  Plus, she was ex-military.  Come on!

The movie also has a few choice quotables in it.  When the two trainees, DeWitt and Gross’ Janis Zuckerman, enter a dive bar to investigate a crime a girl-punk that they interact with tells them to ‘suck shit through a tube’.  Why didn’t I ever think to say that before.  Sucking shit through anything would be difficult and also disgusting.  Truly, a comeback to remember.  Well played nasty punk girl.  IMDB discussion board’s Jim819 agrees that this is hands-down the best line in the film.  I concur.

You know that they’re re-making just about everything nowadays.  What would a remake of this look like?  I’m thinking America Ferrara and Clea Duvall for the leads.

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Pretty, with a strong jaw!

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She'd HAVE to be in Ugly Betty mode as she's actually she's pretty hot.

What do you think, first of all, have you ever seen Feds?  In the theatre, on VHS, or on Lifetime?  Also, who would you cast in an update?

Let’s close with a real recruitment video aimed at getting more women to enroll in the FBI.  Now, don’t get me wrong–all these ladies look like total ass-kickers and what they do is pretty awesome.  But, I still think Feds is a better recruitment vid…

Oh!  One more thing, the whole film is available on YouTube, so if you HAVEN’T seen it, you know it comes with my recommendations.  Open a box of Bugles or Triscuits and pour yourself a plastic cup of ice-cold Nestea and enjoy the eighties.

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Filed under Movies