This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

So I just saw "The Village"

...and liked it.

Thie movie has gotten some of the most strangely diverse reviews I've ever seen. This fact should tell you something: On Rotten Tomatos, it has a 47% rating(meaning 47% of movie critics gave it a positive rating), which is just about half. So, it's a so-so movie, right? Wrong. Most of the people who gave it a negative review just loathed the movie. They just ripped it to shreds. Here's a sampling: "Maybe the worst movie of the year"; "A maddingly miscalculated hack job"; "I see a dead movie". I can't say for sure why they hated it so much, since I have trouble figuring out this particular group of people (They didn't nominate Eternal Sunshine for Best Picture, for pete's sake), but I have my theories. This movie sure can be disappointing if you: 1) Go into it thinking it's a horror movie, or a even very suspensful (M. Night sold it as a thriller, so in some senses he deserves the criticism he gets for it not being very scary); 2) Can't get into the 19th Century dialogue they have going on; 3) Are expecting some sort of extra dramatic twist at the end that never materializes, just like the Sixth Sense; 4) Don't like stories that are told slowly.

You see, this movie is a story first, and an idea movie second. There is no third. Sure, there are a few cheap scares here and there, but the bulk of the movie is a slowly-told unfolding of events. That's it. People can't take that these days (especially when they secretly hate the director -- which I suspect also has a lot to do with the vitriolic reviews) because they expect something more from movies, like big monsters or a shocking ending. This ending doesn't telegraph its shockingness, but it is just as shocking as M. Night's other movies if you think about it. That's what he's doing -- making people think.

I don't want to spoil the movie for the rest of you if you want to see it, so I'll end my favorable review of the movie with this: It's about grief and people's reactions to it, more than anything else. I love a good allegory more than the next guy, but this is not one. Resist the temptation to make it one, and just allow the story to get into your head. Otherwise, you might just see what you think is the worst movie of the year.

(and that's not to say it's a superb movie, either. The aforementioned slowness does wear on you after a while, and the scares are cheap, and a couple plot elements are not explained completely enough for my taste. But the "worst movie of the year"? Come on. These reviewers need to remind themselves that last year included "Daddy Day Care" and that Scooby Doo sequal, plus at least one Pokemon movie (or did it? Is that guy dead finally?). So get a grip, people, before I smack you.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Icerocket is Cool

Well, I was all prepared to give a great rating, but then I looked up "epth". But first, the good:
  • Many of the search results have thumbnailed screenshots, which allow you to see where you're going before you go there.
  • You can search in News and Images (but not newsgroups) like in Google, but you also can search "blogs", "Phone Pics", and Multimedia (which is mostly a conduit for purchasing MP3's from "legal" song services). The Image Search is better, and includes some things like Webshots and Getty Images, which I always thought should be included in those things anyway. What I'm trying to say is it's fun to play with, much like Google was when it first got popular.
  • Using Icerocket with Firefox makes you feel like you're really sticking it to the Man somehow. It makes the internet seem new and not boring.
  • The amount of search results seems to be equivalent to the other search engines.
Now, I wish to register my complaint. When I look "epth" up in the "Blogs" section, I can't find it. When I try to add it to the Blog search list, I got the message saying it was already added. "But it's not there", said I. I found it in the regular web search, but still. It's a blog, dang it. It might in fact be the #1 blog in the USA if given the chance. Mr. Cuban, give me that chance. Tear down that wall. Stop kicking that dog.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Breaking News...

Upon viewing the MTV website (oh, the pain I go through to write this blog), I saw mention of a "Sweet Sixteen Bonus Clip Marathon" on Saturday. They let you vote on what clips you want to see. My people are currently investigating this, and Mouse says we'll have a bead on what all this means pretty soon. In the meantime, here's a fun quote from Mark Cuban on a totally unrelated subject:
There have been millions upon millions of blog entries. I know at, we have indexed at least 6mm pages of blogs. I don’t know the number of political bloggers, or the number of pages posted, but I can tell you this, every single one of them with any aspirations of popularity is looking for a way to stand out. The way that happens is to knock one of the gatekeepers off their perch.
Hey! Mark! I have aspirations of popularity and I don't want to knock one of the gatekeepers off their perch! Nice plug of icerocket, though. Next up: My review of the search engine icerocket. Boo-yah!

Ok, Mouse has just informed me that from 2-5pm CST on Saturday, they're running all the episodes of Sweet Sixteen in order, so I'll finally get to see the start of episode 2. Plus, they wouldn't have you just vote online for nothing, so I bet there will be "deleted scenes" included. It's like having a DVD (you can only watch once, at this specific time)! Double Boo-yah!

This "Marathon" will also make my end-of-season awards better. Yessss.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

My Stupid Sweet Sixteen, er, I mean, Fifteen?

My Super Sweet Sixteen, Part VI -- "Krunk"

At the beginning of every episode of this show, MTV does a montage detailing what we can expect to see the following 23 minutes. I knew I was in trouble right away when after this montage I had the girl’s name written down as “Thierrah” (it’s really Sierra) and had her saying, “I’m a stupastah”. I suppose she really said, “superstar”, though I have not gone back and confirmed this. I like the concept of the Stupastah anyway, like the “stupid star”, or “star in a stupor”. It’s positively krunk. I should mishear stuff more often.

This weeks subject is a hard girl to get a handle on – on the one hand, she’s respectful to her parents, resourceful, and has actual human emotions I recognize, like self-doubt; on the other hand, she’s obsessed with being a “diva”, a “stupastah”, and “the center of attention, like she deserves”. Seriously, I must’ve heard the word “Diva” come out of her mouth 10 times, and “Stupastah” another 10. Sierra is what happens when otherwise decent parents raise their kids in MTV culture, since Sierra’s dad is a rapper named “Cee-Lo” (What, were all the good rap names taken?), and it looks like all the rapper families hang together in one big snotball in Atlanta. So Sierra's mom and Cee-Lo are fighting a losing battle with the Rich MTV Krunkified culture they helped create. We do indeed reap what we sow in life. I should get off the soapbox now, my feet are getting all slippery.

Back to Sierra -- One thing I noticed about Sierra is her inability to wear anything close to the same hairstyle on consecutive days. I wonder how long it takes for her to do her hair in the morning, because on day 1 it had red in it and on day 2 it didn’t, and on day 3 it was long and on the day of the party it was blonde. She must be wearing wigs, unless she colors her hair daily (which is a little much, even for this show). It seems she gets her hair habits from her mom, who later on in the show is seen wearing curly and poofy blonde pigtails. That’s right, pigtails. Krunk hair is obviously important to these people. Is that a proper usage of that word? Can hair be krunk? In this episode, Sierra applied the adjective to both herself and her Party, so I’m assuming it applies to hair as well.

Sierra starts by saying, “I’m always the center of attention – like I deserve”, which is a real bad sign. We also learn that she’s having a Sweet 15 Party instead, although it’s unclear as to why. Are her parents afraid she’ll be dead in a year and don’t want her to miss out? Has MTV run out of affluent and insane 16-year-old’s to exploit, after a grand total of 6? Krunk.

The only thing the viewer can do at this point is accept her age and move on, although the prospect of an even more immature subject is pretty harrowing. MTV shows off her immaturity next as she discusses her grand entrance with a couple of helicopter pilots. Sierra wants to be lowered on a ladder down into a tent where her peeps would be waiting for her (and presumably oohing and ahhing). She doesn’t say this, but she clearly thinks it would be a krunk way to be the center of attention. Hey, it beats randomoid shirtless dudes carrying you. The men tell her that she would need a special helicopter for this, and that it would be a massive safety issue. What they really want to say is: it’s not going to happen and you’re insane to even think about doing it, but Cee-Lo is probably paying them a lot of money so they don’t. Sierra tells them, “Well, I want that to happen”. She’s taking the hard-line stance that there will be no helicopter entrance if she doesn’t get to ride in on a ladder. They next go to FanMan to see how much he’ll charge to drop her into her adoring crowd. Later on she must have softened her position on the insane ladder trick, because when the actual party happens there is no ladder in sight. Of course, MTV wouldn’t want to show her in this or any moment of rationality, because they promoted her as a spoiled Junior Diva. Why would anyone go on MTV? Oh, that’s right…the fame whore thing. Gotcha.

Next we see the Q5(?) models in white tuxedos that Sierra(‘s dad) has hired to pass out her invitations. The invitations come with – I kid you not – small cakes in two flavors, chocolate and not-chocolate. We’ll call them “Krunk Cakes” for short. Say what you want about Sierra, she (or someone she’s listening to) has got some pretty creative ideas. First the helicopter, now Krunk Cakes. But wait…it gets better. Sierra is talking with the models, and she’s instructing them on what to say when they pass the Cakes out. It’s all going well until she tells them to say, “If you can’t bring a gift, then don’t come”, which causes at least one of the models’ eyes to bug out in disbelief, according to the MTV editing scheme. Leave it to Sierra to spoil an idea as great as Krunk Cakes by saying something as boorish and presumptuous and decidedly un-krunk as that when handing them out.

Uh-oh, somebody call Hart’s dad, because I see another stretch limo. How krunk must…Pennsylvania be that it’s so much cooler than all these other places with their embarrassing stretch limos. Anyway, oblivious Sierra is riding around in said limo with her hired models, driving to kids’ houses and passing out the Krunk Cakes. The kids look surprised to be greeted at the door by food, good-looking people in tuxedos, and MTV cameras. Sierra is wearing fur of some sort, a black do-rag on her head, and oversized old-person sunglasses. Admittedly, I don’t understand fashion, but is that something a Diva would wear? I mean, any Diva besides Aretha Franklin? She looks ridiculous as she calls to her friends in their doorways, and they all seem to be thinking, “What will that crazy Sierra do next?” We see the tuxedo girl whose eyes bugged out before tell a person, “No gift, no party.” At this point I would have no problem with both of those.

I gotta say, at least Sierra found a way to pass out invitations in a personal and creative way that doesn’t seem based on the concept of making people who aren’t invited feel bad, like the rest of those Sweet Sixteen imps did. They could learn a little bit about class from this girl. Of course, with the “No gift, no party” thing, she shoots that whole classy thing to crap. This is what happens when we let MTV raise our kids, people. As the Krunk Cakes run out, Sierra says, “They’re thinking now that I’m no joke”, which is precisely the opposite of what they’re thinking. She’s riding around with granny glasses on, for krunk's sake.

Next comes the obligatory “pick out a nice outfit” scene. Sierra comments that she’s going to be “the krunkest girl at that party”, which if I’m defining krunk correctly is a really cocky thing to say. Bow Wow (further evidence that all the good rap names are already taken) is at the store, and Sierra is like sooooo excited about him because he’s cute and famous. Bow Wow barks to her for a bit, and Sierra invites him to the party. He says, “I’m gonna have to think about it”, which is what we in the rap world call a diss. Cee-Lo’s going to have his little doggy butt in a sling over this, if I know my rap culture. Anyway, after she berates him with talk of a $200,000 party, he lies and says he’ll come. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Bow Wow is the artist formerly known as Little Bow Wow, and is none other than the son of Snoop Dog himself. Maybe he’s just too big time for the daughter of a rapper with as lame a name as Cee-Lo. Dad should change his name to Blastadon. We’ll see who shows up then.

Crisis strikes as it turns out Sierra is actually dumb (whoh…I’m shocked and appalled), and has gotten 2 C’s and 2 D’s on her report card. Doesn’t she know that with one line you can turn those D’s into B’s? Anyway, mom can’t handle this show of bad schoolmanship, and tells the poor girl that the party is off. A word about mom: young. If you ran into her on the street, you would guess her age to be 22. She looks like Sierra’s slightly older sister. She’s being all hard with Sierra, though, and in an extremely refreshing and krunk burst of parenting, Sierra’s pleas to Cee-Lo don’t get her anything but a “we not doin’ da party” from him. You go, Blastadon. See? It’s better than Cee-Lo.

The Cee-Lo family dynamic is so very unusual for this show. Sierra actually says “yes, maam” when she speaks to her mom! She shows them respect, and they actually parent her. Wow. Of course, they let her have her party (since the show isn’t called My Super Non-Sweet Sixteen…but then again, she’s 15, so...) in the end, but Sierra at least has to do some chores and get a cute tutor first. And people say that rap culture is destroying America.

Like I said, Sierra gets her party by doing the necessary make-up work, but not before coming up with a creative and disastrous Plan A first. She says, “I’m a Diva, and I control my own destiny” even though her parents are technically the ones in control of her destiny, at least with regard to the Party. What would a Diva do in this situation, you ask, with her “reputation at stake”? Get two of her friends (named Jasmine and…Delicia – why not just name her “Tasty”? Why start your daughter on the path to porn like that? Was someone eating steak in the delivery room?) to beg mom for the party, of course. This turns out to be the worst possible idea, and mom is hopping mad now. She’s also wearing hoop earrings that are nearly the same diameter as her head, but that’s not important right now. Sierra learns some responsibility, her parents relent, and she immediately goes back to the cocky “literal wannabe” attitude that got her into trouble in the first place. By the way, when mom tells her the Party is back on, she (mom) is sparkling like Ava’s dress. Now that’s some krunk post-production. MTV should win some sort of award for this.

With the party train back on the tracks, Sierra goes to try on outfits for the party again (didn’t we already do this with Bow Wow? Was that just to get Bow Wow face time on MTV?), and this time tries on what appears to be a hefty bag with a giant hole cut out for her cleavage. It’s positively krunktastic. Mom says no, thankfully. Mom says no a lot, because Sierra’s taste in clothes requires her to find the ugliest thing in the store and throw it on. Seriously, I don’t have any idea what Sierra was thinking with some of these outfits. I guess I just don’t understand fashion.

At this point Sierra gets super-cocky according to MTV and you hear her ask, “Where’s my latte?” But we don’t know what the context was, so they could just be making us think she’s getting cocky. She has some pictures taken (at the clothing store, I think – I’m not really sure why), and a large woman who appears often but I don’t know the name of says, “They better be hella-fied”, which I think is referring to the photos, but again, no context is provided. What a ridiculous language English has become. If you ever hear me say “hella-fied” in a non-ironic way, please slap me. I don’t even know what hella-fied means. Is it anything like the “krunktastic” I used in the last paragraph? Maybe I’m part of the problem. Sierra then says that photos are the “best part” of the celeb life, which is the dumbest thing anyone has ever said on this show (and that’s saying a lot). Seriously, better than the money, and the fame, and the power? Hasn’t she ever heard of the paparazzi? I’m sure 5 years down the road when Sierra is a household name, she’s going to just invite the paparazzi into her mansion and feed them Krunk Cakes and Captain Krunk and let them take hundreds of pictures of her as she’s going through her day. Exactly how vain do you have to be to think that photos are the best part of being a celebrity? Maybe I’m just overreacting to a throwaway statement that the girl made, but I think it makes her interest in being the “Center of Attention” look like more of an obsession. I hope all 15-year-olds aren’t this empty-headed.

We cut to the day of the Party, and everyone’s pumped. Sierra goes to the so-called “top hairstylist in Atlanta”, who no lie has the same exact hair Dennis Rodman had during his San Antonio Spurs days. It appears to be a tight-cut afro painted white. It’s the worst hair ever, and Sierra is putting this chick(?) in charge of her golden(?) locks on this fabulous(?) day. Ok, I’ll stop with the question marks. Sierra’s now got long blonde flowing locks, and her mom has gone away from her disastrous foray into the world of pigtails. As her hair is getting done, Sierra gives us a glimpse into her mind as she worries out loud that people will have heard that Ludacris is going to be at the Party, and will be disappointed when he doesn’t show. This is something MTV hasn’t show us from a Sweet Sixteener before: depth. It’s a tender moment, but as we all know these moments can’t help but be fleeting when there’s krunkosity afoot.

Everybody looks fine, but mom takes about 2 hours too long to get ready. Sierra’s freaking out, just like I would be. There’s a $200,000 party they’re letting go to waste! The cameras show mom putting on her boots, which have like 3-inch death heels on them. Also, she and Cee-Lo appear to be drunk or high on krunk or something, because they are awful goofy in the limo on the way to the helicopter. There are a few seconds where MTV makes us think that the family is lost and the parents are on drugs, but in the end everything seems to be ok, except for Sierra’s outfit, which looks like a diamond-studded flight suit. It must have been specially made for the helicopter entrance, which is just sad considering how gosh-awfully hideous it is.

Like I said, Sierra gave up on the whole Ladder of Death scenario and was just helicoptered in like any human who’s not a member of the A-Team. The people at the party loved it – one young-looking kid says, “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s Sierra!” which makes me wonder where he would have heard that Superman reference, seeing as how he’s 14. I barely remember it at age 32. Some of the other girls shiver in the cold breeze of the helicopter, and everyone pretty much agrees that it was a krunk entrance.

From this episode, it seems like there is an affluent black community that sticks together and doesn’t associate with a lot of the affluent white community. Is the affluent community really this segregated? I counted like 10 white people at the Party (although I wasn’t really looking), and all the friends they showed receiving Krunk Cakes were black. Don’t get me wrong, if I were Sierra I wouldn’t be hanging out with lunatics like Ava and Lauren (from episode one), either. But it seems like the rich would be colorblind. Is this just an Atlanta thing? A “Dirty South” thing? For some reason, it made me sad.

Sierra says, “Now lets get krunk.” I thought krunk meant “good”. “Let’s get good”? There must be something I’m missing here – I’ve been misusing it this whole time? I guess that’ll teach me not to try to speak jive. Maybe it’s just a generic variable word, like “smurf” to the Smurfs. Come to think of it, Sierra kind of reminds me of Vanity Smurf, without the mirror.

Sierra dances a bit, but it’s hard to find time for dancing when you have 5 outfit changes planned, “because a celebrity changes outfits”. The depths of her celebrity obsession have reached a new low. Here are her krunk outfits, as far as I could tell:

1) Diamond Flight Suit; 2) Ugly 70’s-looking white bulky dress with pink and black (for lack of a better term) stripes running down one side; 3) Black boob-accentuating jungle top and jeans (she, like all the subjects on this show save Jacqueline and Hart, has a gigantic chest. The difference between Sierra and the rest of those clowns is that mom makes her hide it most of the time, which earns mom an A+ in my book); 4) Pink ruffly prom-y dress. I didn’t see the fifth outfit, although she’s later interviewed wearing a black dress with a ghastly floral print.

Ever the innovator (if it serve to get her attention), Sierra has a fashion show at the party with herself as one of the models. This is really boring and pointless, except for the one guy in a Clinton Portis jersey who gets confronted by mom for booing(!) Sierra. Now that takes stones – booing the person who invited you to their Sweet Sixteen, er, Fifteen Party. The boy’s like, everyone was booing, which would be super funny were it true. We’ll just go with MTV’s assertion that this kid was the only one who was booing, and congratulate him on his krunk sense. I’ll leave it up to you to determine whether or not I’m being sarcastic.

I’m disappointed…they promised a nacho bar in the promos, and then didn’t even mention it once. Mmm, nachos.

The party wraps up with mom and Cee-Lo giving Sierra the most impractical gift of all: a diamond tiara. Now, where exactly is she going to wear that? At least it will get her attention…from muggers. She calls it a “perfect gift for a Diva” and says that it’s “worth like 3 cars”, which is news to Natalie’s dad. Let’s see, at $715,000 a car, that would make it a $2,145,000 tiara. Maybe she means three Hyundai Accents with broken krunkshafts.

At the end, Cee-Lo sums up the series pretty well as the credits roll. He says the MTV is going to have a new reality show, called “Dad Goes Broke on Birthday Party”. Hee. Prediction: Because of this show, next year will see a dramatic rise in the number and complexity of overblown Sweet Sixteen Parties among the rich and powerful, and MTV will be there to film them all. Next season will have like 30 episodes in it. Just you watch. We should be so krunk.

Mission accomplished.

(Stay tuned to this space, because my end-of-season awards are coming soon! Don’t miss it! There’ll be a nacho bar, I promise!)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Some thoughts on Alias Season III

(It took me while to finish this. Sorry, I’ve been kinda busy.)

Last month my wife and I finished Season III of Alias, otherwise known as the “Lauren Year”, or the “Covenant Year”. It’s quite unlike Seasons I and II, as well as the first 5 episodes of IV. The first half of the season is consumed with Syd’s trying to find out what happened during her two “lost years”, during which her boyfriend got married to the British daughter of a US Senator who happens to work at the CIA for another government agency, and her dad kept in touch with her mom through a secure chat room, and megalomaniac Sloane cut a deal with the government and became this huge humanitarian, and a shadowy organization called “The Covenant” became more powerful than all the members of the Axis of Evil combined. Then, midway through, Vaughn’s wife turns out to be evil and she and Sark like, take over the Covenant for unknown reasons. So the last half of the season is about everyone finding out that Lauren is a total skank double agent and dealing with it and some other Rambaldi crapola that predictably turns out to be nothing.

In some senses, it was very much the same as what had come before it. It still had the stylistic touches, and the Rambaldi madness, and the plots that seem life-or-death but are forgotten about 2 weeks later. But it was just different, with Dixon being the boss, and Will and Francie (even Evil Francie) gone from Syd’s life except for in the one loose end episode. It was Bizarro-Alias. It was like one of those old Marvel “What If…” comic books. “What if Sloane was good?” “What if Dixon were the boss?” “What if Marshall procreated?” “What if Irina Derevko had a sister played by Isabella Rossellini,” and so on.

Off the top of my head, the characters in Season Three who have past involvement in David Lynch movies: Katya Derevko (Blue Velvet), Lauren’s Mom (Twin Peaks), The first Covenant leader Sark and Lauren kill (Twin Peaks). That is all. I guess that’s not very many, but I fully expect to see Joan Chen and Chris Isaak make appearances this year. There were also 3 Kill Bill-ites involved: Q. Tarrantino himself (in a head-scratching appearance that looks like it should recur, but never does), Vivica A. Fox (in a role that doesn’t seem like a recurring one, but is), and of course David Carradine, who drops one of the big plot twists on Sydney as he dies.

At this point in my Alias watching I realize that half the time the show is throwing up classic red herrings in order to fool me into thinking something – that Jack is evil, that Sloane is evil, that that one Senator’s wife played by the (curiously young-looking) lady from Twin Peaks is not evil. That’s where the plot twists come in – each show has a few little ones built in, and then the big ones come out of the blue at the end of episodes. This is Alias’ way of operating. When you see 80 episodes in a month and a half’s time you come to understand this. You also understand that characters (like the Senator’s wife or Irina Derevko) come and go like the wind, appearing only if they serve to advance the plot. This gives the writers a lot of flexibility, but makes the viewer a bit cynical, like when Lazarey’s contact at the CIA just happened to be Will from Seasons I and II, which enabled massive loose end tie-ups to occur. They think we don’t notice that, but we do.

Very quickly, now, my favorite parts of Season 3, because as we all know I like to see the good in things…

1) The Sloane/Jack love/hate relationship. I especially liked when Sloane took the bullet for Jack, and when Jack helped Sloane fake his own death. These are two hard-butt cold characters, man. I like that the show makes Jack evil sometimes, and that Sloane got a little redemption. A lot of season 4 so far has been Sloane-hate from Syd and Dixon, which is understandable but sometimes it’s like season 3 never happened. Maybe the show is trying to distance from it. Anyway, I liked Jack and Sloane

2) Anything with Isabella Rosellini. She might be the ugliest woman on network TV, but she is sure mesmerizing. I especially liked when she mocked Syd for using a tranq gun and then shot her men with it. Hee hee.

3) That one episode where Kendall shows up and explains everything. Any show with Kendall is a good show. I guess I should also put Mr. Tarantino’s appearance in the same category, but I can’t since he sucks so bad as an actor.

4) Will “Loose End” Tippin killing Evil Francie. She is dead, isn’t she? Man, I hope so. Also good was Will’s reaction to seeing Sydney – he thought she was an evil doppelganger. Greatness.

5) Nadya pretending to be catatonic, then helping Sydney fight. No explanation necessary, it was just cool.

6) Sloane having that one big NSC guy killed, even though they telegraphed it more than Vinnie Testaverde does a pass.

I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole Lauren character. On the one hand, she was British, and way better than evil Francie. On the other hand, she turned evil overnight with very little explanation, and that whole Vaughn/Lauren drama just didn’t do it for me. I guess it was a wash. Sark, as always, was hard to figure out. Why was he working for the Covenant? The money. But then he becomes a big playa in the Covenant. Why does he do all this spy stuff anyway? Why is he ruthless one minute but sensitive the next? Nobody knows. Tune in next week to find out.

Work Notes

I'm not exactly sure, but I think one of the people I work with is pretending his mother-in-law is still alive so he and his wife can continue living in their house. That's what I seem to be overhearing anyway. Sounds like a movie, doesn't it? I don't mean the dead body is stil there, I just mean they're keeping the death secret from the people who own the house. I'll try and confirm this and let you know, because it's just crazy.

I still don't have a key for one of the doors that keep me from entering my room in the morning. The General Manager suggested (kiddingly, of course) that I climb up the walls and over the ceiling tiles to get to my room. It might actually work, if I were a monkey or Spider-Man.

One of our salesmen is an Arab, like from Palestine, and he occasionally has customers who don't want his help just because he looks like an Arab. I had something else to write, but I can't think of it right now (maybe that's pulling the curtain back a little too far).

Monday, February 21, 2005

Sunny Day in Dallas

This is why I love Dallas, even with all its foibles. I hate driving here, but I like living here. 82 and sunny in February. Boo-yah!

I was punishingly social last weekend, going to two parties where I got good free food. It was fun to be around people again like my college roommate, who is now a Pastor, and might be reading this, so stop cussing.

Sometimes even I can't believe the stuff that comes out of my ears.

Work is hillariously stupid today. I can't believe that either.

My Stupid Sweet Sixteen, Part V

My Stupid Sweet Sixteen, Part 5: I Think I’m Just Getting Used to These People.

Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I just didn’t feel the hate I usually do when watching the show this week. I’ve been crying out for these people to do a little introspection, a little self-checking. The subject this week, Natalie, does that, though only for a few seconds (of course, she could be fricking Socrates and we would never know, because of the MTV editing scheme that requires her for purposes of the show to be at the very least self-absorbed). Also, her dad, while clueless, is not (obviously) nuts like many of the parents we’ve seen. I don’t know. Well, let’s unwrap this episode and see what we can find, then render the verdict on Natalie and her ilk.

The show starts with a sentiment that has become all too typical of Sweet Sixteen Party subjects, as Natalie says, “You’re not invited, get over it.” Later on, we find out that she’s saying this in response to some freshmen who are making fake invitations to her party. She turns out to be quite proactive on the keeping-freshmen-out front, moreso than most of the others we’ve seen. She calls out some “hits” on them later…but we’re getting ahead of ourselves, because of the way MTV frames their episodes. Sorry.

Natalie is a blonde girl who everyone seems to think is hot. I have a theory about Natalie w/r/t her hotness: A lot of it has to do with the fact that she is also the “New Girl”, having just moved to California (where her rich dad makes this episode possible) from Roswell, NM. She’s novel, and hot, so people think she’s super hot. I remember my senior year of High School we got a transfer named Heather that everyone thought was hot, but after a month, we realized she was just above-average. I’m totally serious, this happens. As for Natalie herself, I can see why 16-year-old boys find her attractive, because she’s blonde and has gigantic bosoms. I’ll just leave that there and move on.

As I mentioned, Natalie’s the New Girl, and is also known as the “Car Girl” because of her rich dad’s car collection, which includes a gold $715,000 car, which is a totally ridiculous thing to own. That car is worth about 5 times the house I could afford right now. I guarantee you I work harder than Nat’s dad, too, so I must be doing something very wrong. Anyway, Natalie shocks the MTV world by showing just an inkling of introspection, even if most of that introspection revolves around the fact that she’s hot and rich and she knows it. She comments, “Sometimes I feel guilty for that (meaning being rich and getting everything she wants)…but I deserve it, because I’ve always been the nice girl, not the rich girl.” Now, I’m not saying you should feel guilty for being rich (and it’s interesting that you frame it that way), but rich and nice are not mutually exclusive, except possibly on this show. And I also wonder what she did to become the “nice girl”. Befriend some people that aren’t quite as hot? Serve food in a homeless shelter? Start a “Just Say No” campaign?

I just got a thought: Nat’s from Roswell – she could be an alien, like those teens from Roswell. Man, that show must have been a beating for the real Roswell High during away games, eh? I wonder what kind of creative cheers their opponents came up with…

Sorry I keep getting sidetracked. I guess that means that Natalie didn’t keep my attention quite as well as the Ava Trainwreck or the Hart’s Dad Debacle. Anyway, Natalie’s glad she’s “High Class Now”, which means that instead of being a hot nice nobody, she’s going to become just another mean rich skank with no real friends. To this end, she proceeds to attempt to buy the friendship of the cool kids with this lavish party. This whole Sweet Sixteen Party thing is just a means to an end for her – she wants to get noticed, and she wants to be adored. Maybe I don’t like Natalie after all. That’s more like it.

Predictably, Nat’s dad has an attached woman that’s way younger than her mom must be (who we never get to see but seems to live in Roswell – maybe they can’t show her because she’s an alien, which would make Natalie half-alien, which if you’ve seen “V” you know that somewhere Natalie has a brother who looks like a lizard. It would also explain her boobs), a fiancé named Melissa who – and this is the most positive thing I’ve said about a person on this show, so get ready – seems nice. Dad owns 5 nightclubs out there in Cali, and Natalie must have seen him and his location as an opportunity to get herself famous. Dad also seems nice, except for his fascination with cars. I think he probably doesn’t really discipline Nat enough, but she doesn’t really do anything too bad in the 23 minutes we see her, so we’ll never know.

Natalie has a tendency to overstate things, like, “Nobody has had or ever will have a Sweet Sixteen Party like this.” As Kip Dynamite would say, “like anyone can even know that”. She also says, “Nobody is going to Vegas to go shopping (for a dress)”, which is funny considering Ava went to Paris, which is in France, for a dress, and even Hart went to New York to buy some hoes. Clearly, Natalie doesn’t realize how high the bar is for the Sweet Sixteen Overparty. If they played the Natalie episode before those two, her comments wouldn’t seem so overstated. Oh, well.

She goes to Paris with friends and Melissa (I think) to shop for dresses. A word on Natalie’s taste in dresses: Cleavage. In all the dresses she tries on, her cleavage is practically blinding us. She knows where her bread is buttered, so-to-speak. The dresses are so tight she has to use a special shoehorn-type tool to cram her boobs in there called the “boobhorn”. Nobody seems to mind or protest the cleavage-fest, but somehow Natalie decides to go with the white “jungle-style” dress (that’s what I call a dress with one shoulder strap) that’s tight enough to show off her “hotness” but doesn’t blind people with headlights when she’s facing them. That’s right, I wrote headlights.

The overeager teenage salesman clearly smells money when Natalie’s entourage starts shopping, and is working it hard. Natalie says she heard that Paris Hilton shops there, and what’s a salesman to do except agree, even if it’s not true. Natalie’s a bad shopper -- too eager to overspend. The salesman must be thinking, “What are you, from podunk Roswell or something?” Natalie decides on a $900 dress, which to Ava would mean “something to wear once to the grocery store and then throw out”, but Natalie seems very happy, and to her credit does not say, “Nobody has ever paid $900 for a dress”. Good for her.

Natalie and her friend are sitting outside, doing the now-familiar ritual of deciding who and who not to invite to the party. They don’t say who they’re going to invite, but they are definitely not going to invite “Freshmen”, “Non-Social Losers”, “Wastes of Time”, “The Infirm”, “Black People”, and “People She Doesn’t Know and Hasn’t Heard Were Cool.” They decide to invite exactly one freshman, a girl who they think is totally groovy, and they give her the invitation when she’s sitting with her friends, whom they make an explicit point of not inviting. You just know Natalie is being mocked behind her back for this type of behavior. This is her plan – making people want to be at her party, because it’s going to be so cool. She has delusions of importance. MTV interviews some people who didn’t get invited, and they seem nonplussed: “I don’t even know who that is.” I guess if you don’t know somebody, you don’t care that they don’t invite you to their Sweet Sixteen Party. The real problem is Natalie’s treating herself like the arbiter of who’s cool and who’s not at this school, which will garner her much more hate than admiration, no matter how cool the party is. A telling moment in this scene is when Natalie says that people “look up to her” for having a rich daddy who gives her everything she wants and spoils her. Memo to teenage girls: Jealousy and Respect are two different things. Natalie’s jonesing for some serious jealousy here and it’s somehow translating in her blonde brain as respect.

Natalie, despite what you might think, made friends in Roswell that have agreed to come to the Party. MTV cuts to them in Roswell, and the cute-as-a-button Sara is attempting to choose between two different black dresses – a hand-me-down and a dress from Target. Her gay friend (not explicitly said, but come on) who I didn’t catch the name of but we’ll call him “Coby” is helping her. MTV is trying to establish these two as Natalie’s “roots”, so far away from the “High Class” life Natalie is living now. Will there be conflict when Sara and Coby see what a wench Nat has become? Stay tuned, but here’s a hint: no.

Hot opinion of the day: Sara’s better looking than Natalie, and her hand-me-down dress is better than Natalie’s $900 special. Had to be said.

Meanwhile, Natalie’s getting decadent with diamond-studded toenail polish (that’s a good investment) and preparing for her friends to come. Earlier she stated that, “Nobody in Roswell thinks she’s actually going to have this party”, which makes her so angry. How dare they think something! She’s also upset about the freshmen sneaking-in thing I mentioned before. “Who does that?” asks Natalie’s henchwoman. One could also ask that question about New Girls who try to buy everyone’s friendship with a Sweet Sixteen Party, but nobody does. Natalie says, “Grow up. You’re not invited. Deal with it.” Natalie hands these things out like they’re a ticket to coolness and she wonders why people might want to get back at her by crashing the Party. Natalie’s an idiot who should take her own advice.

Natalie can’t wait to see her Roswell friends, and it appears to be kind of genuine, as in not just so they can go back to New Mexico and shove the party in those doubters' faces (although she does say, “I can’t wait till they go back and tell Roswell about me”). Sara and Coby arrive and Dad picks them up in one of his patented Cool Cars, this time with a dashboard that flips over and does tricks. Coby guarantees himself face time by naming an MTV show (I’m not going to tell you which one, but it rhymes with, “Chimp my Hide”), and then delivers the funniest line of the episode when he sees something Natalie’s wearing and gush-asks, “Chanel?” 16-year-old boys should not ever say, “Chanel”, no matter how gay they are.

It’s Hair Time, and Natalie’s nervous about it for some reason. Her hair looks great, but it apparently doesn’t meet her self-hotness standards, so she’s pissed. Dad comes out in an Elvis costume for no apparent reason (To cheer her up? To get MTV attention? To just be goofy? Because he lacks a clue?) and Natalie looks like she wants to throw him out the window. She says, “I hate him”, which no doubt caused hurt feelings upon their watching it later. This is why I don't want a daughter.

Cute little Sara’s also getting her hair done at a Salon, and the skank (named “Angel”, which is to laugh) in there is making fun of her Target jewelry and how little it cost. Amazing isn’t it, the upside-down world of the rich and stupid? Sara says, “I look great on a budget.” Which is kind of lame but what else can you say to that crap? Angel thinks she’s speaking a Foreign language and says, “What is this…bud…jet…you speak of?”

Cleaning up some loose ends: They promo a catfight at this point, with two girls pushing each other and grabbing hair, like on “Jose Luis” or “Jerry Springer”. Don’t get excited, however, because the catfight is only one little part of the “party is going crazy” montage, and lasts about one second. Boo, MTV. But it does last twice as long as the clip they promoed all last week of people (actually, one person) climbing the walls of the club to get in, however. What a gyp. I wanted to see more monkey kids.

Also, Roswell, NM, which MTV is setting up as total Nowheresville, is a town of est. 65,000 people. But it only has one mall, so I totally see what they mean.

The party finally happens, and a Latin American gentleman tries to get in with sandals. It’s unclear whether it’s the Latin American-ness or the sandals that are keeping him out. Earlier on, Natalie mentioned self-importantly that “all the kids are renting limos for this thing.” I wonder if Hart’s dad is watching, and if so, did a little part of him die. I guess that’s the difference between Cali and the ultra-hip state of...Pennsylvania.

During the party, 2 main themes develop as MTV talks to people in the crowd: Nobody really knows who this Natalie girl is; but, they’ve seen her and she’s like sooooooooo hot. MTV edited things so that people appear to have no other feelings on the subject of Natalie, the Party, the club, the food, the music, etc. It’s just a) she’s F------ hot, and b) we don’t f------ know her. I wonder how many would have shown up if she would have had the same party, only been butt-ugly. It would be an interesting California sociological experiment. One thing’s for sure: MTV wouldn’t be there to film it.

At the party there’s a lot of booty dancing going on, which needs to stop everywhere now and forever. Natalie’s dad also brought in his own hoes to dance on platforms, but they didn’t make a big freakin’ deal about it like Hart’s dad did. I wonder if Nat’s dad paid Hart’s dad royalties for using his concept of the “Crawl Room”.

It also must be mentioned that this is the coolest-looking of the 5 parties we’ve seen so far. It looks expensive, and huge. It looks like Nat may succeed in buying friendship after all.

MTV does a great bit next as Natalie finds out one of the accursed non-invited freshmen girls snuck in. Natalie’s going crazy looking for this girl, and she tells one of this crasher’s friends that “You can stay, but she’s out.” Nice. There is no English word to describe the speed at which I would leave this party after telling Natalie off, if I were this girl. MTV highlights the offending girl for clarity, and she is thrown out by Natalie’s Security Section.

This Security Section surrounds Natalie in an annoying bubble, and it’s not long before they begin to cramp her style. She asks, “Where are the hotties?” because she wants to dance with a boy on her birthday. There’s one problem: Dad has instructed Security Section that no boy is to touch her without losing whatever body part they touched her with, and with all this booty dancing going on, you know what that means. Sara and Coby also get their own Security Section, and they laughingly tell MTV that some dude ran into her too hard, and they told Security, and Security said to the kid, “You. Are. Out.” I guess you had to be there.

I cannot emphasize enough how cute Sara is. Maybe she’s the reason I think I didn’t hate these people enough.

Remember Jacqueline from week one? Well, she was at this party, and is creepily gracious when she says that this party, “Totally demolished hers.” That’s the word she used – “demolished”. I wonder what her parents think when they hear that – “yeah, but we got Pauly Shore.” And in defense of Jacqueline’s party, she wasn’t desperately trying to buy friends.

Natalie succeeds in her mind at the friend purchasing, and it only cost her dad $450,000 to do it. (Now Ava’s got to be really pissed, because this more than doubled her take. Bring on the Bat Mitzvah). Natalie says, “That’s all I really wanted – I am the popular girl.” No, you’re the hot girl, and the rich girl, and you’ve got big cans. Is that really what you want to be known for? This is what the other kids are saying: “Remember when that hot what’s-her-face threw that big party? Yeah, that was great until I got thrown out by Security for trying to dance with her. What’s the use of being hot if I can’t touch you? Anyway, what was her name again? Her friend Sara was hot.”

At least she’s not the “nice girl” anymore. That was like, sooooo boring and lame.

Next week: A helicopter! A nacho bar! A fashion show! A season finale!