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Request Line: “Round Here”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 2, 2010

Reader DO IT writes:

COUNTING CROWS – ROUND HERE

Hey man, round here, we don’t take orders. Lucky for you, I was kind of looking for an excuse to write about Counting Crows anyway.

Of all the major rock stars of my youth, I’d probably have felt the safest in assuming that Adam Duritz would never merit any significant re-evaluation. If anything, I thought it was ridiculous that we ever gave this guy as much credence as we sort of did–I would look at the AMG’s description of the Crows as an “angst-filled hybrid of Van Morrison, The Band and R.E.M.” and laugh as I pictured the horrified look on the respective artists’ faces at being on one side of that comparison. Duritz was a classic example of an artist taking himself so unbelievably seriously that he ended up convincing others that he was worthy of the treatment as well–despite being a white man with horrific dreadlocks and a penchant for uninspiring figurative language, who ended up dating 1/3 of the primary cast of Friends. As a kid I thought he was brilliant, as a burgeoning music critic, I thought he was an an idiot, and after that…well, I didn’t really think about him very much at all.

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Dr. Pepper

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 24, 2009

Dr Pepper

Is there anything it can’t do?

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IITS Goes to the Movies, April 2009

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on April 13, 2009

We here at IITS don’t make it out to the theaters much–co-ordinating with friends can be a major hassle, going by yourself feels kind of embarrassing, and $12.50 in New York seems a price too high to justify for a transient piece of entertainment that I could probably watch on my computer for free. So when we do go, we try to make it more of an event–and since I had the day off last Saturday, for example, I decided to kill five birds with one stone (or, technically, three stones, since I had to switch theaters a couple times) and catch up on all the movies that I had sort of wanted to see, but not badly enough to dedicate a single trip out to any one of them. Friend of the blog Lisa Berlin was kind enough to join me for the experience, and we went down the checklist. Some notes on those viewed:

  • I Love You, Man. Three things about this movie were very relieving–that Jason Segel played a character that didn’t cry once, that Jon Favreau proved to still be fatter and less likeable than ever, and that Leslie Mann was absolutely nowhere to be found (though luckily for fans of grating, unsightly shrew characters, Mann will be appearing in hubby Apatow’s upcoming Funny People, previewed in at least two movies I saw Saturday). Besides that, and the fact that the movie wasnt actually directed by Judd Apatow but some no-name, non-Wiki-entried dude named John Hamburg, no real surprises to be had here–it’s pleasant (though do ALL these movies really need to take place in California?), mildly clever (bromance presented like actual romance, with same ups and downs, will-he-or-won’t-he’s, etc.), cameo-strewn (David Krumholz, Lou Ferrigno, and Rush, together for the first and last time), and easily forgotten about. This concept now thoroughly exhausted, however, no more Apatow-verse comedies about affectionate male-male relations unless actual gay sex happens in them.
  • Taken. Who would have guessed that three and a half months into our fair new year, the top two grossing movies in the country would be Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Taken? When I first saw the previews I thought it was lucky to escape straight-to-video hell, but apparently America was really in the mood to see Liam Neeson take on an entire country’s underworld–I suspect that our failing economy and pervasive xenophobia are somehow to blame. Anyway, there’s worse fates to be had than watching Liam Neeson in pure Darkman form playing The Transporter for 90 minutes, especially since he actually gets fairly down and dirty in the process (my favorite was probably the triple-kidney-punch he lays on the first baddie he gets his hands on). Only complaints would be that Maggie Grace is about ten years too old and ten times too annoying to still be playing 17-year-olds, and that Famke Janssen’s character is basically the worst mother ever (“God, Liam Neeson, that is so like you to not want our teenage daughter to go follow U2 through Europe for a month with her slutty best friend and no adult supervision!”) Small price to pay.
  • Observe and Report. Though fact of there being two Mall Cop movies released in the calendar year seems to automatically be at least one too many, it seems to me that the release of Paul Blart a few months earlier is probably the best thing that could have happened to Observe & Report, since it gives O&R an undeserved satirical edge it would never have had if there was no Mall Cop genre to satirize. And the two movies are, obviously, very different. Props to Seth Rogen for playing a character that doesn’t ask us to like him, since Seth Rogen is clearly at the point of his acting career where being liked is no longer really an option, and props to director Jody Hill for making the movie teeter tantalizingly close to genuine malevolence. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t quite have the guts to follow through with it, and pussies out a little with a too-easy ending that makes the whole movie feel like a cheap parody and not the impressively straight-faced portrait of a titanically fucked-up individual that it had promised to be for the previous 100 minutes. Nonetheless, Michael Pena is kind of the man, Little River Band is seriously underrated, and it is somehow poetic and just that this movie will come nowhere close to achieving that Paul Blart dollar.
  • Adventureland. This movie seems destined to go down as the most poorly marketed movie of the decade. Its previews and posters basically led me to believe that it was going to be a cross between Waiting and Sexdrive, and instead it ended up being more like Garden State filled out with the cast of Superbad (and in case you’re still harboring stupid prejudices against Garden State, yes, that is a good thing, and I even liked Waiting pretty well). In any event, it’s probably the best movie about 20-something suburban angst since, well, SubUrbia, and the only people who are likely to see it are going to be 15-year-olds who will be inevitably disappointed by the lack of bare tits on display. Seems like it’ll have to settle for cult status, but it’s at least more or less guaranteed that–no movie with a script, soundtrack, and pair of lead performances this good will stay on the shelf for too long. I don’t think I can remember a movie about young people that had two actors as obviously talented and likeable as Jesse Eisenberg (Michael Cera, you have officially been repalced in my heart) and Kristen Stewart (You are much more adorable when lounging in Husker Du t-shirts and not hanging with lame vampmires, Kristen), and their scenes together are riveting–the fight scene between the two where neither can muster a complete sentence is a fucking clinic, especially. And I definitely can’t remember a movie whose soundtrack–The Replacements’ “Unsatisfied,” Big Star’s “I’m in Love With a Girl,” the ACOUSTIC VERISON of Jesus and Mary Chain’s “A Taste of Cindy”–had me swooning as much from beginning to end. Ryan Reynolds plays a great (and believable) asshole, Martin Starr is a stellar downer of an addition to any cast, and even the obligatory Wacky Characters played by Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig were vaguely loveable. If I like another movie more this year, 2009 will be an unqualified success. Yes, that’s right, I say that about a movie with this poster:
  • Shudder.

  • The Watchmen. Missed the first hour of this mistiming my Adventureland viewing, but I think I got the gist from the last two hours–I was smart/bandwagony and read the graphic novel for the first time a few months ago, so I didn’t have to worry about following the plot or anything. Nothing too much to say here, since who cares anyway–liked it, seemed like a faithful adaptation, looked cool, Dr. Manhattan is creepy as fuck, Kelly from Bad News Bears certainly grew up to be a badass, Malin Ackerman looks better as a brunette, whatever. Mainly, I wanted to focus on the two extremely unlikely Seinfeld alums that showed up in this movie–the guy who played Elaine’s svengali-ish psychiatrist boyfriend as Hollis, and the guy who played Kramer’s dwarf friend Mickey as Big Figure. I never imagined I’d see either of these people doing anything outside of Seinfeld reruns ever again, yet here they are, in the same magical movie. By the end, I was on the lookout for appearances from Jack Klompus and Sue-Ellen Mischke, but I think the overlap unfortunately ends there. If there was a third one I missed in that first hour, though, be sure to let me know. Also, I’m not sure if I’d ever heard Leonard Cohen’s original version of “Hallelujah” before, and I realized why–it kind of sucks. I mean, thank God I didn’t have to sit through another emotional scene set to the Jeff Buckley or Rufus Wainwright version, but goddamn, that song was not meant for someone with Leonard Cohen’s voice. “First We Take Manhattan” over the end credits, though–too awesome.

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Clap Clap ClapClapClap / Listeria: Reviewing My Ten Outlandish NBA Predictions

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 31, 2009

phil

Baseball season is very nearly upon us, and while I prep for fantasy drafts, finish up my 30 Teams in 30 Days viewing on MLB TV, and go nuts anticipating the Phillies’ systemic dismantling the Braves on opening night next Sunday, it’s also about time for me to make a couple of unlikely predictions, hoping to hit on a longshot and achieve that elusive dream of the sports geek–the appearance of actually knowing what you’re talking about. But before that, we are also nearing the end of the NBA season, and as you may or may not recall, I threw down a handful of prognostications for that season as well. And since accountability is of the highest priority here at IITS, let’s look back and see what success–if any–our crystal ball had.

10. Against all odds, the addition of James Posey will not automatically make the New Orleans Hornets a championship team. Something of a joke prediction, obviously, but I do feel somewhat vindicated here. Sure, Posey was a nice addition to one of the weakest benches in the league, and his eight points a game, lockdown defense and ability to hit clutch threes are all assets. But for a team struggling mightily with depth issues, especially after Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic spent stretches of the season on the DL, they probably could’ve better used the $25 million they gave him for four years for a couple role players, or at least some similarly-needed cap space. Plus, Pose recently got suspended for throwing a ball at a ref–how ya liking that veteran leadership now, Byron Scott?

9. For the first time in his career, Kobe Bryant will miss 20 games in the regular season. Whiff. I suppose I should’ve known better than to underestimate Kobe with perhaps the biggest chip on his shoulder yet after such a scarring end to last year’s finals, but nothing, not even multiple bouts with the dreaded flu, has clocked #24 out of even a single game this year. Good thing, too, as Kobe and company have sewn up the top seed in the West early on, and can pretty much coast from here on out. Try telling him that, though, I guess.

8. The Washington Wizards will miss the playoffs. And then some–although I definitely thought I was being more outlandish with this prediction than I actually was. I didn’t realize that Brendan Haywood was out for the season as well, that Gilbert Arenas wouldn’t be coming back until late March, that DeShawn Stevenson would shoot 31% for a third of the season before disappearing altogether and that Darius Songaila some guy named Dominic McGuire would be starting a truly disturbing number of their games. But yeah, the Wizards will be lucky at this point to simply not finish with the worst record in all the NBA–and even that would be detrimental to the one glimmer of hope they’ve had this season, the prospect of beginning next season with a core of Arenas, Heywood, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and consensus #1 draft pick Blake Griffin. Here’s hoping, anyways–I love all those guys, and they deserve better than this.

7. Dwight Howard officially becomes the most overrated player in the NBA. Eh, not really–stat-wise, he was more dominant than ever this season, easily leading the league in boards and blocks, and scoring over twenty a game (though he did lose his Slam Dunk crown–a big part of his early legacy–to “Krypto-“Nate Robinson). I still personally believe him to be mildly overrated–an elite player, sure, but not a true MVP candidate–until he can be more of an offensive go-to guy in the post, stay out of foul trouble in big games, and get his free-throw percentage to a respectable 65% or so. Getting the Magic to the third round or beyond in the playoffs this year would be a good start towards proving me wrong–hopefully without going through the Sixers to get there, though.

6. All the big men coming back from big injuries–Brand, Oden, (Jermaine) O’Neal, Bynum–will have statistically disappointing seasons. Gotta give myself some props for this one–the only one who looked like he might prove me wrong here was Bynum, but he checked out of the Lakers’ season just as he was starting to realize that all-star potential. In the meantime, the other three were disappointing, either because they failed to mesh with their teams (O’Neal), couldn’t stay on the court (Oden), or failed to mesh with their teams and then couldn’t stay on the court (only four years and $65 mil to go, Elton). Dunno what it is about these guys, but ’09-’10 can’t come soon enough for ’em.

5. Speaking of Oden–neither he, Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley wins Rookie of the Year. Erm, not looking good here–at first, the Grizzlies’ OJ Mayo seemed like he might interrupt the public’s love affair with Rose long enough to nab the award. But as Mayo’s scoring has tapered and his team has gone down the tubes, Rose–who will likely be leading the Bulls to the playoffs, albeit to a certain first round demolition–seems the consensus favorite. Would like to at least point out that the two rooks I guessed would have the best shot besides these three of winning the award (the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook and the Clippers’ Eric Gordon) both had expectation-exceeding seasons, but their slightly less impressive stat lines and cellar-dwelling teams aren’t helping the cause much. Fair enough–it’s kind of hard not to be in love with Rose anyway.

4. The Denver Nuggets will be this year’s New York Knicks. All right so this obviously didn’t happen, but there were a bunch of things that happened here that I could never have anticipated–Nene coming back to a near-all star level of center play, Carmelo suddenly maturing into a team player (DAMN YOU TEAM USA), hell, even Chris “Birdman” Andersen coming back from hard-drug sabbatical to block like six shots a game. No team–not even the Knicks–has undergone a transformation as dramatic as the one-time Thuggets have this year. Of course, there’s another big factor as to why this might be…

3. Allen Iverson swings a team’s playoff fortunes by getting traded midseason. My crowning achievement here. Happened only like two days after I predicted it–even called him going to the Pistons, and said that “shuffling around their lineup to include Iverson will either sink ‘em or make ‘em the legitimate unstoppable force they’ve always believed themselves to be.” Well, one of those two things certainly happened, at least, though I’d be lying if if I said it was the one I was expecting. And as negative an effect as the swap had for the Pistons, it was about that good for the Nugs to get Chauncey Billups–though they still probably need to win at least one playoff series with Mr. Big Shot at the helm for the trade to be a totally unqualified success. In the meantime, I’ll certainly be rooting for the AI’d Detroit against Boston or Orlando in the first round this year.

2. The Suns finally beat the Spurs in the playoffs. Sliiight wishful thinking here. My prediction looked solid for exactly one day, as the Suns beat the Spurs on opening night. Then they lost the rest of the games in the season series, got their coach fired, alienated their franchise player and then lost him to a lame-o ocular injury, and lost five must-win road games in a row to all but ensure that not only would they not make much of a post-season run, they wouldn’t make the post-season at all. Meanwhile, the Spurs were the Spurs, overcoming early injuries, hitting big game-winning shots and coasting their way to likely Home Court in the West. It’s going to go down as one of the minor tragedies in the history of pro sports that the Suns never got to taste the promised land, and that they will likely never get proper vengeance on the team that ruined so many of their best chances of doing so.

1. The New York Knicks make the playoffs. Admit it, though–they came closer than you thought they would.

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Popcorn Love: The Confrontation in Unfaithful (2002)

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 29, 2009

unfaithful

When discussing the merits of a movie like Unfaithful, it’s pretty rare that you get past the sex scenes. And that’s fair enough–they’re some of the hottest ever committed to mainstream celluloid, making for one of the more uncomfortable movie-going experiences I had with my parents (though still ranking an extremely distant #2 to Y Tu Mama Tambien). Diane Lane had never looked sexier, Olivier Martinez had never looked swarthier, and director Adrien Lyne–the guy who made a hit erotic thriller with Michael Douglas and Glenn Close as the leads–was clearly the man for the job when it came to getting the most out of the brief encounters between the two. Their last tryst in particular, a desperate hate-fuck outside of Martinez’s apartment, in particular, I would rank as an all-time top fiver–one that I’ve watched countless times, and which I could pretty much draw frame-for-frame by memory if called on to do so.

Recently, however, I’ve come to realize that the scene that follows shortly thereafter–in which the devestated Richard Gere confronts Martinez in his apartment–is almost as indelible, if for somewhat different reasons. It’s the scene that basically acts as the fulcrum for the movie, the turning point between the guilt, secrecy and ridiculously hot sex of the first half and the guilt, secrecy, and utter lack of ridiculously hot sex in the second half. Plotwise I could just about take it or leave it–I was never particularly convinced by the twist that occurs at the end of this scene, and I was never really sure that the way the rest of the movie followed was really the direction to go with it. But the dynamics of the scene–the interaction between Gere and Martinez–is unlike those in any other scene I can remember from another movie.

The scene could have very easily been a cliche, especially considering the way it ends–a jealous husband confronts his wife’s lover, and a fight breaks out with tragic consequences. It doesn’t quite play out like that, though, mostly because Gere’s intentions in showing up at Martinez’s doorstep are so ambiguous. Does he want to kill him? Force him to stop seeing his wife? Get information from him? Make him feel guilty for what he’s done? Gere doesn’t seem to be sure, and merely asks to be let inside his apartment. Martinez doesn’t seem to get it either, and in his confused state, doesn’t seem to think twice about granting Gere his request, despite the obvious emotional volatility of the situation at hand.

Both Gere and Martinez’s characters are somewhat unusual for their respective roles to begin with. As the husband spurned, Edward isn’t really the kind of insensitive schlub we’re used to from such a situation–he’s actually a pretty decent-seeming guy, a good father and husband, and he still looks at least somewhat like Richard Gere. The only real knock on him from a spousal standpoint is that he doesn’t seem quite as interested in taking care of business in the bedroom with wife Connie as he probably once did. Meanwhile, Paul isn’t really the kind of dastardly homewrecker he should probably be either. He’s kind of sleazy, sure, but the movie never makes him as evil as we think it will. He never tells Connie that he’s in love with her, he never asks her to leave her husband, hell, he never even goes out of his way to see her, always letting her come to him. Even late in the movie when we find out he was married the whole time, he gets let off the hook when we find out he and wife were separated. He’s not a good guy, but he’s not a particularly bad guy either–basically, he’s just a guy who enjoys having sex with Diane Lane, and knows that he’s good enough to make it worth her while. Fair enough.

Paul’s lack of emotional involvement in the situation is part of what makes the scene here with Edward so interesting. He doesn’t do any of the things you’d expect a side-lover to do when an angry husband shows up–he doesn’t apologize or try to plead his case, he doesn’t get territorial and demand that Edward leave him alone, and he doesn’t brag to Edward about how much better he must be in bed than him. Rather, he just attempts to have polite conversation with the man whose wife he’s fucking, seeming to believe that Edward will be capable of handling the situation as dispassionately as he does. He makes a bad joke about having heard “no complaints” when asked if Connie likes it at his place, he responds to Edward’s furiously informing him that he and Connie have been married for 11 years and have a son with “yeah…she told me” and just keeps offering him more drinks. It’s quite possibly the most awkward encounter I’ve ever seen depicted on film, especially because the whole time you’re watching, you’re just thinking “why the hell doesn’t this guy realize how bad this situation is about to get?”

Of course, the situation does get bad, as in a rage blackout, Edward takes a snowglobe (which Connie had given Paul, despite originally being a gift from Edward), and gives Paul a couple of lovetaps on the head with it, killing him. From there, the movie turns into Gere trying to cover up his crime of passion, and slowly revealing the truth of his actions to Connie, who has, coincidentally, decided on her own to end her relationship with Paul. It was an inevitable conclusion of sorts, I guess, and it does do some interesting things for the rest of the movie, as Connie and Edward go on to play complex mind games over who did what and who knows what about who did what, and eventually realize that the affair/murder has brought them closer together. But it kind of cheapens the scene on the whole, I think–the tension between Paul and Edward is so unbelievable that ending it with a killing almost seems like a cop-out. It doesn’t do the scene’s unique dynamic any justice.

If you only ever watched Unfaithful for the sex scenes, I can’t say I’d blame you. But you might want to hang around for at least a few minutes after to give this bizarre little tete a tete (/ a snowglobe) a look.

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Standing Offer: Don’t You Want More Swiffer Commercials

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 5, 2009

swiffer

dont-you-want-me

In the words of Survivor, let me tell you about the commercial I saw last night. Few things (only 69 of them in fact) made me happier last year than the Swiffer commercial series withe the mops hatching romantic and occasionally creepy schemes to get back into the good graces of their one-time owners (set, of course, to the stirring strains of Player’s “Baby Come Back”), who had recently moved on to Swiffer’s loving arms. They were great, no doubt–among the most absurd and gleeful of the whole year, and treats whenever they popped up in a regular commercial rotation. I could have stood to have another dozen of them along similar lines without every getting upset with them phoning it in.

But the Swiffer ad I saw recently just took things to a whole new level. It featured the same basic conceit of a mop trying to wen back the owner who had spurned it–although now the rejected product is a broom instead–but not content to merely pop out of vegetable racks in grocery stores and peer out from behind trees, Broom has taken to the airwaves. As poor unsuspecting Mary listens to her favorite 80s radio station, the DJ begins his voice break:

“Now a song for Mary…”

Mary smiles, delighted someone out there someone cares enough to dedicate a song to her.

…from a Mister…BROOM!”

Mary’s facial expression quickly drops to an unimpressed, “heard that one before” glance, as the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”–clearly the logical desperate progression from the now insufficient “Baby Come Back”–blares over the radio. Meanwhile, the back in the studio, the DJ (sporting a Flock of Seagulls haircut, of course) does a little breakdance move and points to his guest in the chair next to him–the very broom that Mary had recently discarded. Mary rolls her eyes and continues to go about her day’s business. The 80s DJ and Mr. Broom continue to get funky in the studio.

Now, why am I merely giving you the play-by-play of this wondrous little short, rather than merely posting it up top for all to bask in its glory? The answer is simple–I can find it nowhere on the internet. Admittedly, my tools are limited, but if it’s to be found on Google or YouTube, I’ve exhausted all my search options. In this day and age, for anything to be unavailable on the Internet–let alone a soon-to-be smash hit commercial–is quite unacceptable, and moreover, it’s rather unlikely. No doubt one among you out there in the ether could locate this commercial in a matter of seconds, whereas our brilliance here at IITS tends not to extend to the practical area of problem solving.

Thus, I am offering a $10 bounty for the first person who can provide me a satisfactory link to a clip of this video–or an upload of the clip itself, if you are so able and inclined. Not much, sure, but not bad for what could potentially be less than sixty seconds worth of effort all told (and if more, will at least keep your mind active on what is probably a slow work day). In these trying economic times, can you really afford to be cavalier about freebies such as this? Don’t delay too long, though–as soon as I see it inevitably pop up on YouTube, the offer will be closed.

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Look at Me, Grade Me, Evaluate & Rank Me: The Oscar Acceptance Speeches

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 23, 2009

halle-speech

This year’s Oscars was not among the most attention-grabbing of recent years, and in fact, it was the first ceremonies in years that completely snuck up on me–up until about a week before, I didn’t know who some of the favorites, or even some of the nominees were. The reasons for lack of excitement here are several–a host I couldn’t have weaker feelings about one way or the other, a group of nominated films in which I had little vested interest (with a couple exceptions), and odds-on winners that seemed unupsettable among the bigger ones. Hence, I began to key in on the acceptance speeches, which I began to find far more interesting than the winners who actually delivered them. So from worst to best, most embarrassing to most inspiring, the 24 speeches of the 81st Academy Awards.

24. Kate Winslet (Best Actress, The Reader). Oh boy, what a mess. I’d read in New York magazine that Winslet had given a shameful speech or two in the pre-Oscar award circuit, but that she had been using the opportunities to get her reps in time for the big show. Well, if this is the fruition of that gained experience, then holy shit, because she belly-flopped up there tonight worse than The Life of David Gale. Heavy breathing, long pauses, intermittent sobbing, rambling phrasing…just a wreck. Her dad almost saves the day with his whistle from the back, but then she just keeps going. I mean, I guess going 0 for 5 over the course of 13 years will make anyone a little antsy, but…c’mon, Kate. You’re supposed to be one of the premiere leading ladies in the world now. Pull it together just a little.

23. A.R. Rahman (Best Score, Slumdog Millionaire). “Before coming, I was excited and terrified. Last time I felt like that…was during my marriage!” OUCH! PLEASE A.R. RAHMAN, DON’T HURT ‘EM! I guess American standup comedy after the 60s hasn’t reached India quite yet.

22. Andrew Stanton (Best Animated Feature Film, Wall-E). My problem with this speech is fairly similar to the one I had with Wall-E in general. “It’s been such an inspiration to spend time with a character who so tenaciously struggles to find the beauty in everything that he sees. It’s a noble aspiration to have in times like these.” IT’S A MOVIE ABOUT A ROBOT AND A FUCKING TRASH RECEPTACLE. Get over yourselves, kindly.

21. Chris Dickens (Best Editing, Slumdog Millionaire). Nothing of note here except that dude stutters a lot at the end and kind of looks like a British Moby.

20. Jochen Alexander Freydank (Best Live Action Short Film, Speilzeugland). Pretty much your basic “Wow, look how far I’ve come!” speech that Best Live Action Short Film winners always seem to resort to. Mostly noteworthy for Seth Rogen cracking up when James Franco read his name.

19. Richard King (Best Sound Editing, The Dark Knight). Ugh, another “As a kid growing up in Suburban Florida…” speech. How hard would it have been to call out Danny Boyle and his crew and yell out “THERE GOES YOUR CLEAN SWEEP, MOTHERFUCKAZZZZZ!!!!!” Luckily, Will Smith peppers up the interims with “Boom Goes the Dynamite” referencess–let it never be said that you weren’t up on your YouTubes, Mr. Prince.

18. Eric Barba and Company (Best Visual Effects, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). Thanking “Brad Pitt for an amazing performance”? Come now, your special effects weren’t that good.

17. Megan Mylan (Best Documentary Short Subject, Smile Pinki) My theater tech roommate took umbrage with Mylan referring to filmmaking as a “Team Sport,” not appreciating the association with professional athletics. Gotta concur, it’s a pretty lousy statement. Nice red dress though.

16. Michael O’Connor (Best Costume Design, The Duchess) Yawn, yawn, yawn. Might be the only Oscar acceptance speech ever to thank the musical director, though. I’m sure the guild/union/brotherhood appreciated that.

15. Anthony Dod Mantle (Best Cinematography, Slumdog Millionaire). Why do people take the time to thank the Academy, exactly? Are there really voters or other constituents out there that go “uh oh oh, he did not thank the Academy! BANNED FOR LIFE, ASSHOLE!” Considering how these dudes are always bitching about not having the time to thank everyone they want to thank, you’d think they’d consider freeing up about five – eight seconds by forgoing the requisite Academy nod. Or is it just one of those unspoken rule things?

14. Donald Graham Burt and Victor J. Zolfo (Best Art Direction, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). Pretty meh stuff, though it’s nice to see the props for Fincher, who made arguably the worst movie of his career here, but is still one of the best directors of the last 20 years. Better to see him getting his respects from others tonight, though, rather than by being behind the mic himself.

13. Resul Pookuty and Company (Best Sound, Slumdog Millionaire). It’s possible Pookuty is just really emotionally moved by the situation, but really, he sounds like he’s totally winded from the trek up the steps to the microphone. Speech is unremarkable, but he gets some points form me because his name sounds funny. Seriously, say it out loud. Pookuty. Tee-hee.

12. Kim Bell, Sally Ledger and Kate Ledger (Heath Ledger as Best Supporting Actor, The Dark Knight). I really don’t know what to think here. For a moment I imagine many anticipated to be the most emotional moment of the night, this was an oddly muted speech. I was sure at least one of them would break into tears, and maybe that someone would levy accusations against friends or co-workers for not helping to save him from a role that pretty much destroyed him. But no–nothing but smiles and quiet dignity. It’s a classy move, I guess, but it feels a little hollow, and very underwhelming. Maybe that’s the point.

11. A.R. Rahman (Best Song, Slumdog Millionaire). Yes, that’s right–America simply couldn’t get enough A.R. Rahman tonight, so after winning for Best Score, and performing a Best Song nominee, Rahman took the stage once more to accept Best Song for “Jai Ho.” This time he seemed to sense that people were getting a little worn on his charms, though, and kept the zingers to a minimum. “All my life, I’ve had a choice of hate and love. I chose love, and I’m here.” Fair enough, I suppose.

10. Christian Colson (Best Picture, Slumdog Millionaire). Not quite bringing the fraction of India on stage that the Return of the King crew brought from New Zealand, but pretty great to see the dudes who played Salim and the Millionaire host chilling in the background–wish they could’ve said a few words. I only just learned about all the controversy surrounding the movie, especially all the bits about the kids, though. Yikes.

9. Simon Beaufoy (Best Adapted Screenplay, Slumdog Millionaire). Minus for the flat “Miss World” joke, but definite props for thanking his wife, “for whom repressed English writers have to write love stories because they can’t really say what they mean.” Touche, Beaufoy.

8. Yojiro Takita (Best Foreign Language Film, Departures). A nice broken English acceptance speech, with every word a punctuation mark–“I…AM…HERE!! BECAUSE…OF….FILMS!! THIS…IS…A NEW…DEPARTURE…FOR ME!!” I like the rhtyhm of it, actually. Much punchier and much less draggy than the whole Slumdog lot, at the very least.

7. Greg Cannom (Best Makeup, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). Gets some credit from me for being the ultimate Not Giving a Fuck speech of the evening. From the moment Cannom gets up there and snipes at the Academy for not co-nominating one of his creative partners, he seems completely unimpressed with what he has just accomplished, speeding through his thanks, and leaving ’em while he’s looking good. He was obviously going to win–which, by the by, he’d already done in previous years for Dracula and Mrs. Doubtfire–and he acted like it. Well played, Mr. Cannom.

6. Danny Boyle (Best Director, Slumdog Millionaire). For being one of my all-time favorite directors, I really knew nothing about Danny Boyle as a person before tonight, and judging by his speech, at least, he seems like a pretty cool guy. Enthusiastic, energetic, quick on his feet and entirely charming. He takes the time to remark on how great the cermonies have been–“I don’t know what it looks like on television, but in the room, it’s bloody wonderful”–as if he really had been waiting for this moment for some time. He even thinks to shoutout a guy he’d accidentally snubbed in the film’s closing credits. The only thing that would’ve improved the speech? If it had been given while receiving the award for Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary or 28 Days Later instead. Minor quibble, though–brava, Danny.

5. Penelope Cruz (Best Supporting Actress, Vicky Cristina Barcelona). Heartfelt and emotional, but classy and composed. Nice props given to Woody Allen and Pedro Almodovar, though Christina Ricci’s role in Anything Else still burns a little too bright in my mind for me not to cackle at the suggestion that Allen has written “some of the greatest characters for women.” Loses points for going well over time, but gains most of them back for forewarning of this inevitability at the beginning.

4. Dustin Lance Black (Best Original Screenplay, Milk). Black relates what an inspirational figure Milk was to him, and how much he meant to him as a closeted thirteen-year-old, and encourages all the LBGT kids out there that they are, in fact, beautiful, despite what their churches may say. Probably the most urgent and directly moving of the acceptance speeches, and certainly one of the bolder ones in recent years. Most interesting to me, though, is what Dustin leaves out, giving his father the snub on multiple occasions–he talks about his “beautiful mother and…father…,” and then thanks “my mom, who has always loved me,” saying nothing about dear ol’ dad. Sorry pops, but I guess lying to your business partners about your son’s “roommate” gets you a raw deal come Oscar time.

3. Kunio Kato (Best Animated Short Film, La Maison en Petits Cubes). A few stiff sounding thank-yous, climaxing in “Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto.” Hilarious, setting back racial stereotypes 25 years, or both? Any way, you can’t deny that he went there.

2. Sean Penn (Best Actor, Milk). Funny, personable, impassioned and righteous. An undoubtedly great speech for an undoubtedly great performance. But Penn’s speech will nonetheless forever go down for what it pre-empted–the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness Mickey Rourke accepting an Academy Award. It was obvious that was going to be the high point of the ceremony–if not all of Oscar history–even before Rourke gave his speech at the Independent Spirit Awards. Any other year, Sean. Any other year.

1. James Marsh, Simon Chinn and Philippe Petit (Best Documentary, Man on Wire). Appropriate that my favorite Oscar winner of 2008 should make my favorite acceptance speech–Marsh and Chinn were whatever, but doc subject Petit was every bit as winning and irresistible as the flick itself. “The shortest speech in Oscar history–Yessss!!!” he says, before continuing on, because he “always [breaks his] own rules,” finishing out by making a coin that fellow nominee Werner Herzog gave him disappear, demonstrating that he wanted to “thank the academy for believing in magic.” Then, just for good measure, Petit balances the statue on his chin for about three seconds. The best part? Petit shouldn’t even have been up there, not actually being one of the award’s recepients or anything.

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Commercial Break: Who’s Watching GEICO Commercials?

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 9, 2009

GEICO had so many concurrent successful ad campaigns–the “But there is some good news” series, the GEICO Gekko series, the “So Easy a Caveman Could Do It” series, the immortal Tiny House–that when they phoned it in in 2008, it was nearly devestating. Almost an entire year of nothing but progressively weaker Cavemen and Gekko retreads left a huge gap where you could normally regularly pencil ina half-dozen essential, must-watch ads a year–space where Swiffer, Skittles and Snickers ads had to step up to fill in and help keep us from going mad over terrible Bud Light and Wendy’s commercials. But hey, even the Yankees can miss the playoffs once ever decade or so, so I was willing to forgive and forget if they could start to turn things around a little in 2009.

Enter the “Money You Could Be Saving with GEICO” series. If you’ve been watching TV at all in this calendar year, no doubt you’re well-versed in the general concept–ordinary folk get vaguely creeped out by a stack of dollar bills with glued-on googly eyes that appears to be staring at them, until they are informed that the green represents (or rather, precisely is) the money that they could be saving, were they merely employing GEICO to provide their car insurance. At that point, a cheap house-y cover of Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me” starts to blare, with the “TELL ME WHOOOO’S WATCHIN’?!?!?” line. A couple are even more direct, merely showing the googly-eyed duckets and insisting that the bills are “staring deep into your soul…[knowing] you like to save money on car insurance.”

When I first saw these, I thought that GEICO had sunk to a new low–the ads were cheesy, illogical, and a little bit unsettling. Not the any of these qualities were new to GEICO commercials per se, but there was nary a clever catchphrase or bizarre celebrity to be found to make up for them in these. Gradually, though, I’ve begun to come around to them–partly due to the nature of TV commercials (especially weird ones) being as such that the more you see them, the more acclimated you become to their sick little universes. Especially the one I linked to above–there’s something so quintesentially odd about the rhythm of the whole thing. Who is this rich couple? Why do they seem so unimpressed by the bizarre explanation of the hundo stack staring at them? And what is the vested interest of that weirdo waiter in The Money They Could Be Saving With GEICO? Does he get a cut or a commission or some such? The answers are there somewhere, and by the 137th time I have watched this commercial, I will surely have figured it out.

Of course, a large part of the appeal is in the song choice. People get so caught up in the “Dancing on the Ceiling”s and “Push it to the Limit”s of the world that they forget that coke-fury also inspired a lot of fucked up, exceedingly paranoid songs as well, and “Somebody’s Watching Me” was arguably the best of the bunch–a strangely theatrical, haunted house (both in terms of spookiess and corniness) of a pop song. GEICO of course chose to use the song in its most literal, “My Own Worst Enemy”-esque sense, but the song carries all the surreal associations along with it that ends up fitting these strangety strange commercials pretty well. I don’t get why the trashy dance cover–perhaps Rockwell’s paranoia extends to marketing campaigns as well–but the song functions in these ads the same way “Baby Come Back” did in those Swiffer ads I loved so much from last year, providing a sort of punchline to the commercial that you spend the entire time waiting for and feel a perverse satisfaction out of finally getting to.

I might hate them again in a week or so, though, so don’t quote me on any of this.

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Listeria: The Top Ten Scenes from Marley & Me (I Hope)

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on December 29, 2008

Mar-LEY!

marley-and-me

To be perfectly clear on this: I do not care for dogs. Not even a little. The way they smell, the way they yip, the way they have no concept of personal space, the way most of ’em could probably kick my ass if they wanted to–just an all-around unfan of the species. It might mean I’m not a real man, it probably means that I’m dead inside, and it almost definitely means that if I was ever in trouble down at the old mill, Lassie wouldn’t lift paw one to save me. Regardless , I prefer the cold, independent, mutual respect of cats to the disturbingly subservient dynamic of a dog-human relationship.

That said, I find myself utterly hypnotized by recent ads for Marley & Me. It just doesn’t make sense that they would make such a big-budget movie–a Christmas-weekend blockbuster-to-be, and one that seems geared towards adults, no less–out of the antics of a disobedient pooch (I mean, I loved Beethoven as much as anyone, but they really seem to be swinging for the fences here). I know people love dogs, I know the book was a best-seller…but really, do people actually want to see a movie with 90 minutes’ worth of “Boy, Marley, you sure are the world’s worst dog!!” type jokes?

The answer of course is yes, and in fact I even count myself among their number. It’s rare you get a comedy so unabashedly corny these days, one so willing to court mawkish sentimentality and cliche without so much as an aging-in-reverse gimmick as a hook. And it’s even rarer when you get a movie whose preview actually has a clip of the two protagonists chasing their dog around a big-league stadium (uh-oh!!) I don’t imagine I’ll end up seeing it in the theaters, but that doesn’t matter, since I’ve already watched the entire movie in my head. With that in mind, here are (what I imagine) the top ten scenes from Marley & Me to be:

10. As Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston pick Marley up from the pound, they walk down the hall in slow motion, whiel “O Fortuna!” or something equally fire-and-brimstoney plays in the background. As they approach his cage, the pound lady yells out “Hey Marley, we finally found a family crazy enough to take ya!” The camera slowly pans up Marley’s body to his evil, half-open eyes. He looks at Owen and Jen, shrugs, and turns back around, unimpressed.

9. Owen and Jen take Marley out for a walk in a dog park, and see Marley get visibly excited at the sight of a frilly-loooking femmedog. “Awww, he’s in love!” Jen coos. Marley quickly puts this theory to bed by growling at the bitch and attacking its  jugular, resulting in the two getting a lifetime ban from the park. (“MAR-LEY!)”

8. Owen and Jen try to be “intimate” for the first time since acquiring their new bundle of love. Partway through, they hear a loud thump sound from downstairs. “Should we check on it?” asks Jen. “No, no, I’m sure it’s fine,” responds Owen. “We’ll check on him after.” They then hear the sound of breaking glass, followed by an alarm going off, followed by a loud wail coming from their neighbor’s house. Jen and Owen look at each other, stunned, then stimultaneously bury their heads in their pillows.

7. Owen is watching TV with Marley on a lazy sunday. As he flips channels,  he comes past The Aristocats, sending a previously docile Marley into a stark-raving fury. Marley pounces on the TV, knocking over the cable box and breaking it, then chewing through all of its cables just to be on the safe side. (MAR-LEY!)”

6. Jen makes Marley a cute little doggy t-shirt that says “I got my looks from my mommy” on it. Marley takes one look at it, squints at Jen, and bites the shirt out of her hand, tearing it to complete shreds in a matter of seconds. Jen collapses on the couch in shock and then sobs quietly.

5. Owen and Jen decide they need a break, and hire a seen-it-all babysitter to keep an eye on Marley while they’re out to a nice dinner. They come back to find the babysitter on their front porch, frazzled and chain-smoking furiously. “That dog is sick, man! SICK!” she shrieks at Owen and Jen. “Hey, sorry. We’ll take him to the vet before next time,” Owen promises. The baby-sitter stares back with a look of terror and disbelief that says no way in hell will there possibly be a next time. “He doesn’t need a vet. HE NEEDS A FREAKING EXORCIST!!!!!

4. Starting to groove a little bit with his new Best Friend, Owen puts on a copy of Doggystyle in his car stereo while driving with Marley. Eventually he gets to “What’s My Name,” and Marley starts to start to sing along with the chorus: “Bark–Bark–Bark–Baaaaa-aaaaaa-arrrrrkkkk!!!!!

3. Marley plays something jazzy on the piano while wearing sunglasses. I haven’t quite worked out the details to this one yet but I’m positive that it happens at least once.

2. After Owen has a long period of bonding with Marley–much to the annoyance of Jen, to whom Marley is still fairly cold–Jen confronts Owen, yelling at him (in front of Marley) “You know, sometimes I think you care more about that damn dog than you do about me!” Owen tries to assuage her fears, saying “Baby, no, of course I don’t–” He glances at Marley, who is starting to eye him angrily. “Seriously, come on, how could you think that–” Glances back at Marley, who is now giving him a puppy-ish pout. “I mean, uh…” Jen throws up her arms and storms out of the room. After watching her leave, speechless, he goes over to Marley and rubs his coat a couple times. “I know, buddy, I know…”

1. After having officially won over both Owen and Jen, Marley is now lying peacefully in the back seat of the two’s car as they had off as a family for a nice weekend at the beach. As the strains of light MOR rock raise in the background, Marley turns to face in the camera, and says (in the voice of Dennis Leary): “See? I told you they were trainable!” The car speeds off into the horizon, and roll credits.

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100 Years, 50 Losers: #1

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on December 25, 2008

“It’s a Festivus Miracle!”

gc1
George Costanza, Seinfeld

Played By: Jason Alexander

Born to Lose: I was watching some NFL TV special on the Top Ten Power Running Backs of All-Time, and some guy that when it came to the subject of power running backs, “Jim Brown is #1. And there is no #2.” The same could very, very easily be applied to the case of George Constanza when it comes to TV losers. Sure, there are some great loser characters out there–the great majority of which have been listed on this blog in the last month or so–but they are all nothing compared to George. Mark Corrigan? Amateur. Coach McGuirk? Wannabe. Brian Krakow? Call me in 20 years, kid. In fact, half of the characters on this list wouldn’t even exist if not for the trails that George has blazed for TV loserdom over his eight or so years of existence. Ranking George among the loser TV characters in history is like comparing Orson Welles movies, current Lakers starters, or Gin Blossoms singles–each category has a bunch of quality contenders, but there’s only one Citizen Kane/Kobe Bryant/”Hey Jealousy”. (And please spare me your e-mails, you Lady from Shanghai / Andrew Bynum / “Allison Road” apologists).

Such a classic character is Costanza–not only a slam dunk for the best loser character in TV history, but almost inarguably the best character period in TV history–that I’m not gonna waste precious webspace trying to explain or justify his greatness. Instead, I have prepared a countdown of the Top 50 Moments in George Costanza history–each of which individually can go head-to-head with any of the best moments from any of the 49 other entries on this list. Gotta find your own YouTubes, though–as if you don’t have all these memorized already…

(Happy Holidays, everyone)

50. George argues about death with Kramer, who swears he’s not bothered by it. “See, now that bothers me even more than dying bothers me–cause it’s people like you who live to be a hundred and twenty because you’re not bothered by it!!” (The Parking Garage)

49. George attempts to get a frequent flyer mile discount for visiting his girlfriend’s dead relative. He pisses off the family too much for them to sign off on the death, so instead he just takes a picture of himself by the casket. (The Implant)

48. George feuds with a similarly portly, obsessive man about a nice suit going on sale. The two compete for who will get it to it first once it goes on sale, but George hedges his bets by hiding it in a different rack the night before.  (The Pie)

47. George buys Elaine a Big Salad, but is miffed when his girlfriend is the one who hands it to her, refusing to acknowledge him as the source. He can’t resist but tell her that he deserves the credit, and his girlfriend eventually breaks up with him for it. (The Big Salad)

46. George explicitly hires an unattractive secretary so she won’t distract him, but ends up being impressed enough with her efficiency that he sleeps with her anyway. In the heat of passion, he shouts out “I’M GIVING YOU  A RAISE!!!(The Secretary)

45. George gets upset by Jerry’s refusal to be excited about his relationship with Susan’s friend, thereby eliminating the chance of the four of them spending all their time together. “I thought we were going to be like the Gatsbys!!” he exclaims, to the comprehension of no one. (The Friars Club)

44. George tries to get fired by the Yankees so he can be hired by the Mets, but his attempts to do so all backfire, as when he streaks on the field in the middle of the game, but still wears a body suit out of shyness, getting himself affectionately drubbed “Body Suit Man” by the general public. (The Millennium)

43. George tries to get a picture incriminating him as the guy that once threw his boss’s stereo into the ocean altered so that he’s not in the picture, but instead the photo guy takes out his boss. “You lost a lot of hair,” he informs George. “I AM AWARE!!!!” he responds. (The Slicer)

42. Shrinkage. (The Hamptons)

41. George points out to a woman that her husband never says God Bless You to her, leading her to fall out of love with her husband and start crushing on him. “An affair,” George contemplates. “It’s so adult!(The Good Samaritan) 

40. “We had a pact!” (Only true losers keep a trump card like this in the back of their brain at all times, just in case). (Recurring)

39. George decides that his nickname heretofore will be T-Bone, and orders t-bones at the office all the time in the hopes of acquiring the nickname among his co-workers semi-organically. However, it is instead given to another worker, causing George to try to pressure him into giving it to him. “OK, OK, you can have T-Bone…just stop crying.” “I’m not crying!(The Maid)

38. George tries an ice breaking trick that worked on Elaine–touching the fabric a woman is wearing and asking her what it is–and learns that different seduction techniques work for different people. (The Sniffing Accountant)

37. George is disparaged by his friends for pissing in the shower at the gym. “IT’S ALL PIPES!!!he protests. (The Wife)

36. George neglects to get the details on a big project he thinks he’s supposed to do, but gets clued in that he’s “got to go downtown…just like the song.” He and Jerry analyze the lyrics of “Downtown,” line-by-line, until George concludes, “I got nothing.” (The Bottle Deposit, Pt. 1)

35. George is unmoved by Jerry’s repeated apologies for sleeping with his friend (and George’s potential new squeeze) Nina, remarking “You can stuff your sorries IN A SACK, mister!!” to the comprehension of no one. (The Betrayal)

34. George attempts to reclaim some dignity against a bad date that ruined his sweater and abandoned him years ago by confronting her at her baby shower, wearing the same sweater. He ends up helping her carry her stuff out of the apartment instead. (The Baby Shower)

33. George, having told his unemployment officer that he’s working as a latex salesman at the imaginary Vanderlay Industries (under Jerry’s phone number), hears Kramer telling the officer that he has the wrong number, and comes crashing out of the bathroom with his pants around his ankles, to no avail. “And you want to be my latex salesman…” Jerry gloats. (The Boyfriend, Pt. 2)

32. George is caught eating a bitten eclair out of his girlfriend’s mother’s trash can. Jerry summarizes the situation: “You find yourself in the kitchen, you see an eclair in the receptacle, and you think to yourself: What the hell, I’ll just eat some trash?” (The Soup)

31. George is incensed by a girl breaking up with him using “It’s not you, it’s me,” since George claims to have “INVENTED ‘IT’S NOT YOU IT’S ME’!!” After must badgering, the girl breaks down–“All right, George…it’s you.” “YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT IT’S ME!” he exclaims. (The Lip Reader)

30. George, through a variety of circumstances, convinces his office supervisors that he is disabled, and eventually gets a motorized scooter for his efforts. “Well, it’s nice to know that you’ll be going to hell at no more than three miles per hour,” Jerry remarks. (The Butter Shave)

29. George thinks he’s come up with the ultimate movie commentary track when his exclamation of “THAT’S GOTTA HURT!” draws laughter during the climax of Blimp: The Hindenburg Story. His second time through, he is upstaged by a guy with a laser pointer. (The Puerto Rican Day)

28. George notices that he tends to hurt himself by trying to be funny for too long after making one good joke, so after making his co-workers crack up at a staff meeting, he says “Thanks, folks, you’ve been great!” and makes his exit. Consequently, George’s boss kicks everyone else on the staff off a project but him, explaining “They were BO-RING!(The Burning)

27. George ruins his and Jerry’s pitch meeting at NBC, claiming that their not being receptive to his idea of a “Show About Nothing” is disrupting his artistic integrity. Later at the diner, a seething Jerry fumes at George: “You’re NOT artistic, and you HAVE NO INTEGRITY!!” (The Pitch)

26. George is told by a mutual friend of his and Jerry’s that he faked having cancer. Despite being sworn to secrecy, Jerry sees through George’s infamously terrible “poker face” immediately, and determines that he, in fact, be holding “A FULL HOUSE??!?!?!(The Scofflaw)

25. George, dating a girl who claims that looks aren’t important to her, gets to act out his much-ballyhooed fantasy: Ensconcing himself in velvet, showing up to the diner head-to-toe in the substance. (The Doodle)

24. George, being denied sex by his sick girlfriend, finally starts to think clearly, and discovers that he has untapped reservoirs of brilliance when his mind is not flooded by thoughts of sex. Despite this, he ends up ruining his brain hours before he’s supposed to give a speech at his and Jerry’s old middle school by having sex with a Portugese waitress. “I calculated my odds of ever getting together with a Portugese waitress,” he explains to Jerry. “Mathematically, I had to do it.” (The Abstinence)

23. George’s imaginary Christmas charity fund–The Human Fund: Money For People. (The Strike)

22. George creates a candy bar police lineup to try to ensnare a mechanic who he believes stole his Twix bar. “THEY WERE ALL TWIX!!” he breaks down after the ruse is ruined. (The Dealership)

21. George, able to live off his severance package from the Yankees for a few months, declares it the “Summer of George!” and decides to spend three months watching TV and eating out of his chair-refridgerator. (Side note: Whenever I spent an unemployed summer in college, Victor would pull out the same old “oh, so it’s going to be the Summer of Utz, huh?” chestnut) (Tbe Summer of George)

20. George, having made the rash decision to quit his job over a bathroom-related injustice, breaks down his job prospects with Jerry.

“Maybe I could be like, a [baseball] announcer. Like a color man. You know how I always make those interesting comments during the game?”
“Yeah, Yeah. You make good comments.”
“What about that?”
“Well, they tend to give those jobs to ex-ballplayers, and people that are, you know…in broadcasting.”
“…well that’s really not fair.” (The Revenge)

19. George’s man-crush on Elaine’s extreme-sports beau comes to a tragic end when he accidentally causes Tony a nasty, face-destroying spill while rock climbing. “STEP OFF, GEORGE!!!(The Stall)

18. George advises Jerry on how to pass a lie-detector test with his cop girlfriend about whether or not he watches Melrose Place. “Remember–it’s not a lie if you believe it.” (The Beard)

17. George’s answering machine message, to the tune of the “Greatest American Hero” theme.

Believe it or not / George isn’t at home / Please leave a messaaaaage / At the beep / I must be out / Or I’d pick up the phone / Wheeeeere could I beeeeeee? / Beleieve it or not / I’m not hooooome!!!!

The little dance he does while he sings along with it seals the deal. (The Susie)

16. George, trying to get out of a relationship with a woman who won’t let him break up with her, cheats on her with a woman who refuses to have sex with him. He tries to get them to “discover” each other, but neither is moved enough by his betrayal to allow him to end their respective relationships. “All right…” he resigns himself, repeatedly. (The Strong Box)

15. George is furious when Jerry tells him, off the cuff, that he slept with Elaine the previous night, and then claims he’s “not in the mood” to give details. George offers the following: “You ask me to have lunch, tell me you slept with Elaine, and then say you’re not in the mood for details. Now you listen to me. I want details and I want them right now. I don’t have a job, I have no place to go. You’re not in the mood? WELL YOU GET IN THE MOOD!!!!(The Deal)

14. George achieves his dream existence as a highly-paid, under-worked, over-pursued hand model, but it all comes crashing down when the low-talker pushes him into a scalding hot iron. So close… (The Puffy Shirt)

13. George discovers that he’s better off in life doing the exact opposite of what he would normally do, resulting in him taking it easy while driving, standing up to some punks at the movie theater, telling a woman he just met that he’s unemployed and lives with his parents, and insulting George Steinbrenner during an interview with the Yankees. Evidently, he unlearns this lesson during the Seinfeld off-season and is back to his charmless self by the next premiere. (The Opposite)

12. George gets pitched by Kramer to move to LA, analyzing how pathetic George’s life in New York is. “Do you have any conceivable reason to get up in the morning?” Kramer ultimately poses to him. “I like to get the Daily News,” George meekly responds.

11. George’s dream name for his son-or-daughter-to-be, Seven, is hijacked by Susan’s friends, who are actually expecting a baby. This deeply disturbs George, who berates the woman for being selfish on her way to the delivery room and ultimately pleads with them “PLEASE!! I HAVE SO LITTLE!!!(The Seven) 

10. George gets the benefit of Elaine’s misconception that it was his presence, and not her dancing, that turned her entire office against her at their most recent party, by making himself seem like a bad boy to Elaine’s cute underling Anna. This is eventually undercut somewhat by her discovery of the orthopedic back pillow and FiberCon he keeps in his car, and ultimately completely undone when he cries after getting arrested for bootlegging. “Why did the policeman have to yell at me like that?” he bemoans. (The Little Kicks)

9. George gives the gruesome details of his life story to the approval board of an apartment he wants to move into, so he can out-maudlin the survivor of the Andrea Dorea wreck that he’s competing with. His summation: “In closing, these stories have not been embellished, because…they need no embellishment. They are simply, horrifyingly, the story of my life as a short, stocky, slow witted, bald man. Thank you….Oh, also.. my fiance died from licking toxic envelopes that I picked out. Thanks again.” (The Andrea Dorea)

8. George is seduced by a well-dressed woman who mistakes him for a rich businessman on the subway. She takes him to her hotel room, gets him to take off his clothes and handcuffs him to the bed. She then gets dressed, steals his wallet and, miffed at him only having eight dollars on him, decides to steal his clothes and leave him cuffed to the bed. “Will I see you again??” George cries as she exits. (The Subway)

7. George is petrified by the thought of Elaine starting to hang out with Susan. He explains to Jerry:

“Ah you have no idea of the magnitude of this thing! If she is allowed to infiltrate this world, then George Costanza as you know him, ceases to exist! You see, right now, I have Relationship George…but there is also Independent George. That’s the George you know, the George you grew up with–Movie George, Coffee Shop George, Liar
George, Bawdy George.”
“I love that George!”
ME TOO!!!  And he’s DYING, Jerry! If Relationship George walks through this door, he will kill Independent George! A GEORGE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF CANNOT STAND!!!!(The Pool Guy)

6. George explains to Jerry that his way of ingratiating himself to women is similar to the process used by a commercial jingle–annoying at first, then by the third date, it’s “Byyyy MENnen.”  Sure enough, later in the episode, he pisses off a woman on their first date, but weeks later, she calls him back, saying she couldn’t get him out of her head…”Coooo-STAN-za!” (The Chicken Roaster)

5. George, intrigued by the possibilities of his girlfriend’s vanilla-flavored incense, explores the possibility of combining food with sex, eventually going for the trifecta by adding TV as well. His girlfriend is extremely put off, but as he visits a friend of Elaine’s who is cooking up pastrami (“the most sensual of the cured meats”), she reveals herself to be as interested in achieving the hat trick as well. (The Blood)

4. George fights over a similarly-minded man for a parking space over an entire episode. Resolution is never reached, but clearly it is not a contest decided easily:

“Well, you’re going to have to go to the bathroom!”
Well, you’re going to have to go to work!”
“I DON’T HAVE A JOB!!”
NEITHER DO I!!!!!

3. George pretends to be a Marine Biologist to impress the old “It Girl” from his college, but is put to the test when he and the girl come across a beached whale on their walk (“IS ANYBODY HERE A MARINE BIOLOGIST???“) We never see what happens, but George regales the gang with the story later:

“So I started to walk into the water. I won’t lie to you boys, I was terrified! But I pressed on and as I made my way passed the breakers a strange calm came over me. I don’t know if it was divine intervention, or the kinship of all living things, but I tell you Jerry–at that moment I was a marine biologist! […]  The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to return soup at a deli! I got about fifty-feet out and then suddenly, the great beast appeared before me…I tell ya he was ten stories high if he was a foot. As if sensing my presence he gave out a big bellow. I said, “EEEEEASY BIG FELLA!” And then as I watched him struggling, I realized something was obstructing his breathing. From where I was standing, I could see directly into the eye of the great fish […]  Then from out of nowhere a huge title wave lifted, tossed like a cork and I found myself on top of him face to face with the blow-hole. I could barely see from all of the waves crashing down on top of me but I knew something was there so I reached my hand and pulled out the obstruction!” (Pulls out a golf ball Kramer had hit into the ocean earlier in the episode).

“Well, the crowd must have gone wild!”

“Oh yes, they did, Jerry. They were all over me. It was like Rocky 1. Diane came up to me, threw her arms around me, and kissed me. We both had tears streaming down our faces. I never saw anyone so beautiful. It was at that moment I decided to tell her I was not a marine biologist!”

“Wow! What’d she say!”

“She told me to go to hell and I took the bus home.” (The Marine Biologist)

2. George, dunked by one of his co-workers at an office meeting for eating too many shrimp (“You know, George, the ocean called…they’re running out of shrimp”), believes he’s come up with the absolutely perfect comeback (“Oh yeah? Well, the Jerk Store called, and they’re running out of you!”) Despite the prostestations and superior comebacks levied by all of his friends (and Kramer’s belief that he should just claim to have had sex with the jerk’s wife), George is certain that he’s come up with the zinger to end all zingers (“This is why I hate writing with a large group. Everybody has their own little opinions, and it all gets homogenized, and you lose the whole edge of it! I’m going with jerk store! Jerk store is the line! JERK STORE!!”) and even sets up another meeting (that he has to fly to) with the same jerk (and the same shrimp platter) to get the opportunity to use it.

The jerk repeats his zing, and George winds up and delivers the “Jerk Store” line. The jerk, a little quicker on his feet, responds: “What’s the difference? You’re their all-time best seller!” George, stunned and furious, instead reverts to the Kramer strategy: “Oh yeah? Well I had sex with your wife!!” George is informed that the jerk’s wife is in a coma, and that’s the end of that. But then, driving back to the airport, he mutters to himself “Well, the respirator called…” comes to a decision, and pulls the car back around for round three.

1. George, in the George moment to end all George moments, is at his girlfriend’s son’s birthday party, when a fire breaks out. He panics, pushes some kids and an old woman to the ground, and scampers out of the apartment without waiting for anyone else. Later, questioned by the firemen and attendees about his actions, he offers the following explanation:

George: “I…was trying to lead the way. We needed a leader! Someone to lead the way to safety!”
The Girlfriend:  “But you yelled ‘Get out of my way’!”
George: “Because!  Because, as the leader…if I die…then all hope is lost! Who would lead? The clown? Ha! Instead of castigating me, you should all be thanking me. What kind of a topsy-turvy world do we live in, where heroes are cast as villains? Brave men as cowards?..”
Girlfriend: “But I saw you push the women and children out of the way in a mad panic! I saw you knock them down! And when you ran out, you left everyone behind!”
George: “Seemingly. Seemingly, to the untrained eye, I can fully understand how you got that impression. What looked like pushing…what looked like knocking down…was a safety precaution! In a fire, you stay close to the ground, am I right? And when I ran out that door, I was not leaving anyone behind! Oh, quite the contrary! I risked my life making sure that exit was clear. Any other questions?”
Fireman: “How do you live with yourself?
George: “…it’s not easy.”

Yeah. There’s no #2 to all that.

(The rest of the 100 Years, 50 Losers list can be read in its entirety here, and in case you just need a recap:

50. Matt McNamara, Nip/Tuck
49. The Dog, Foghorn Leghorn Cartoons
48. Xander Harris, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
47. DeAndra “Sweet Dee” Reynolds, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
46. Cassidy “Beaver” Casablancas, Veronica Mars
45. Stuart Stevenson, Beavis & Butthead
44. Roz Doyle, Frasier
43. Hugo “Hurley” Reyes, LOST
42. Trent Lane, Daria
41. Andrea Zuckerman, Beverly Hills 90210

40. Landry Clarke, Friday Night Lights
39. Ted Buckland, Scrubs
38. Richie Cunningham, Happy Days
37. Cavemen, GEICO Commercials
36. X the Eliminator, Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law
35. Bud Bundy, Married With Children
34. Jason, Home Movies
33. John Munch, Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order: SVU, …
32. Edgar Stiles, 24
31. Toby Flenderson, The Office (US)

30. Samuel “Screech” Powers, Saved By the Bell
29. George O’Malley, Grey’s Anatomy
28. Non-Alltel Cell-Phone Service Providers, Alltel Commercials
27. Bill Haverchuck, Freaks & Geeks
26. Cliff Clavin and Norm Peterson, Cheers
25.
Meg Griffin, Family Guy
24. Jess Mariano, Gilmore Girls
23. Seth Cohen, The O.C.
22. Ziggy Sobotka, The Wire
21. Nelly/Lindsay Bluth Funke, Arrested Development

20. Bill Fontaine De la Tour Dauterive, King of the Hill
19. Murray Hewitt, Flight of the Conchords
18. Frank Rossitano, 30 Rock
17. Andy Botwin, Weeds
16. Carl Brutanananadilewski, Aqua Teen Hunger Force
15. Elaine Benes, Seinfeld
14. Phillip J. Fry, Futurama
13. Tim Canterbury, The Office (UK)
12. Charlie Kelly, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
11. Enrique “Ricky” Vasquez, My So-Called Life

10. A.J. Soprano, The Sopranos
9. Turtle, Entourage
8. Trix Rabbit, Trix Commercialsa
7. George Michael Bluth, Arrested Development
6. Milhouse Van Houten, The Simpsons
5. Mark Corrigan, Peep Show
4. Thomas “Tom” Cat, Tom and Jerry cartoons
3. Coach John McGuirk, Home Movies
2. Brian Krakow, My So-Called Life
1. George Costanza, Seinfeld)

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