Τρίτη, Ιανουαρίου 31, 2006

Dagnabit

I've been following the race for House Majority Leader, and I've decided I feel strongly enough about the outcome that I'd like to call my representative and express the opinion that under no circumstances should Roy Blunt win.

Unfortunately, my representive IS Roy Blunt. Gah.

Δευτέρα, Ιανουαρίου 30, 2006

Bork Bork Bork!

This, despite the tragedy involved, is quite possibly the best news story ever:
The Swedish chef from the Muppet Show created a world-famous stereotype of laid-back Scandinavian cooks. But a disagreement between two chefs in a Gothenburg canteen has left that image in the soup.

The pressure of cooking seems to have got to the pair, whose bitter row boiled over into a full-blown punch-up. The fight only ended when one of the cooks apparently tried to drown the other in a 300 litres of boiling rice pudding.
Now, not included in this story, but mentioned in the Metro article in which I originally saw it, was the cause of the argument. Was the argument over:

a) The relative merits of US foreign policy in the Middle East (ie "Chimpy McBushitler on the rampage"
b) The proper pronunciation of the movie title "American Pie"
c) The number of minutes after which a pasta is no longer al dente and is then soggy
d) One chef's perception of the other's body odor

Correct answer in the comments tomorrow. Today, take your best shot. No Googling!

Amour

I'd just like to point out that my Muse and I are, collectively, the best big sister ever.

Πέμπτη, Ιανουαρίου 26, 2006

Ah, But Understatement

One of CNN.com's current headlines reads, "Hamas' past casts cloud over the peace process."

No shit, Sherlock! You think?

(Bonus points to anyone who gets the reference in the subject)

Another 20 Minutes at the Office

Okay, "The Office" really has perfected the art of toying with my emotions.

Michael realizing he has no actual friends: Sad!

Jim desperately asking out Brenda: No, babe, no!

The voicemails at the end: Aw!

Τρίτη, Ιανουαρίου 24, 2006

Awesome!

I just wrote a kickass song called "Conspiracies and Mysteries". How much do you wish you were me right now?

Κυριακή, Ιανουαρίου 22, 2006

Art and America

Yesterday I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a friend who is a liberal despite, or more likely, because of the fact that he has absolutely no awareness of what's going on in the world.

And we'd wandered into the American Wing, (his first observation: "Ah, European Art." My response, "No, these look early American to me.") and we happened upon the famous painting of Washington crossing the Delaware. His response: "Wow, I can't believe something like that was painted by an American."

Now, technically, Leutze was born in Germany, travelled to America as a child, went back to Germany as an adult, then died in D.C. Dual-citizenship if you will. But the dumbfounding thing to me was the belief that if it's amazing, it couldn't have been done by an American. I mean, we've only invented the car, computer, home espresso maker, the polio vaccine, deep-dish pizza, gel insole, jazz, musical theatre, basketball, football, put a man on the moon, found the Titanic, saved Europe's sorry hide from destruction at least twice, and managed to offer liberty to millions of people from around the world, both by toppling tyrants and by opening our golden door to the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

So I stood there, my jaw gaping open for about a minute and a half, and he tried to understand what I found bizarre in that statement. He asked me to explain, but how can you? Yes, of course America has faults. But to believe that because of them, we are not capable of producing something magnificent...what is there to say?

Feeding the Addiction

This is exceptionally good news: The Office has been renewed for a third season. Yay!

Παρασκευή, Ιανουαρίου 20, 2006

A!

I'm a bit ashamed to announce it, but the most exciting part of my evening, by far, is the discovery that 'alive' and 'arrive' rhyme.

UPDATE: 'Amend' and 'ascend' also rhyme. Jackpot!

Not Again

F^$%.

Auditions!

I have auditions this afternoon. So exciting!

Being Blunt

QandO has a great post about a blogger conference call with the various options for House Majority Leader, which basically boils down to, "For the love of God, not Roy Blunt." As a native Missourian and someone who voted for Blunt, I have to say -- I couldn't agree with you more.

I voted for Roy Blunt for one reason only: Until we have Osama's head in a hatbox, and Iran is a secular democracy and all the spears have been beaten into plowshares, I will not be voting for a Democrat on the national level, unless the Dem's have some sort of "Come to Jesus" moment that does not appear particularly likely as of now. That's all. I want a Republican majority in congress, not because I love the Republicans, but because the Democrats are out and out deranged at this point. But just because I want Roy Blunt to be a voting part of the majority does not by any stretch of the imagination mean I want him to lead it. I know a lot of folks back home who are very publicly skeezed out by the man, and now it's the rest of the country's turn.

For the love of God, not Roy Blunt.

Πέμπτη, Ιανουαρίου 19, 2006

Reminder

Tonight, 9:30 ET/8:30 CT, NBC. The Office. The best show you're not watching. Unless you're Mike. In which case you are watching. Take the half an hour. It's worth it. I promise.

Τετάρτη, Ιανουαρίου 18, 2006

Review: The Puggle

Cross a pug and a beagle and what do you get? A monochromatic, angry-looking beagle.

Boo.

Τρίτη, Ιανουαρίου 17, 2006

Memo To Hollywood

You may now stop congratulating yourselves for your bravery for writing, directing, acting in, and fawning over gay-oriented films such as Capote and Brokeback Mountain. To hear you talk about it, you'd seriously think that no one has ever made a gay movie before, or if they had, they'd been met by picketers and firebombs.

Remember the The Birdcage riots? Remember when Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews were dragged out into the public square and stoned for Victor/Victoria? How about the boycotts of Bend it Like Beckham in protest of the gay character. And then of course the national outrage that was Queer Eye for the Straight Guy? Remember all of those things? Of course you don't, because they never happened. People have been making gay-centric movies for YEARS and it's continuted to be no big deal.

Now, if we were really going to congratulate some filmmaker for bravery, Theo VanGogh would be a good candidate. Except we can't, because he was killed for the movie he made. Which was about women in Islam, mind you. When was the last time you heard him acknowledged or honored by the Hollywood folks?

Δευτέρα, Ιανουαρίου 16, 2006

Clarify

Did someone just say "as the Reverend Journalist Edward R. Murrow"?

And do they exist in the same general reality as I do?

What Is And Isn't A Musical

I'm sure Joaquin Phoenix was fabulous in Walk the Line but it had no business in the comedy/musical catagory. A biopic about a singer is, almost always, a movie with songs. That does not make it a musical. A musical is where people burst into song to express their feelings. Walk the Line is not a musical. It's also a bit weird to group musicals in with comedies, because, since about 1960, the two have not been synonymous, and in the end, the funny guys end up getting gypped. Which is generally the case. Who entertains me more -- an actor doing an "important" role or an actor doing a funny role? The funny guy. But who gets rewarded? The important actor. Which is a pity, because the funny guys give much better acceptance speeches.

A Policy

I refuse to see any movie that declares itself (or is declared by any member of the creative or artistic team) to be "important."

Excuse me...

Did I just hear them give a Best Foreign Film Golden Globe to the movie Paradise Now from the country Palestine?

That's what I thought.

Of course the film from the politically correct made-up country won. That's why we love Hollywood.

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers Wins!

We get to hear an acceptance speech in a beautiful Irish accent. Yay.

Of course, that acceptance speech is for playing Elvis, which is a bit of a heresy, but whatever.

And it was REALLY short. He actually ran out of people to think. Interesting.

Steve Carell Wins!

Steve Carell just won the Golden Globe for The Office. Yay!

UPDATE: And his speech was really cute. The joke was that he hadn't written anything, but his wife had and handed it to him, and it was consequently very "his wife Nancy"-centric. I love men who love their wives.

Oh, the 'dopted squirr'l

Holly and Susan, this is for you.

Overheard at Duane Reade

Man: "Do you sell motor oil?"

Clerk: "..."


(Duane Reade is the New York CVS/Walgreens)

Spank You Very Much

Really the only decent rhyme* for "Thank you" is "spank you", which is not ideal in the context of a father-daughter song, especially when used by the daughter. And especially when it's not a comedy song. To borrow an expression from a friend, any song that uses the phrase "spank you" ceases to be a drama and is simply an ugly comedy.

*"Yank you" is a bit grammatically obscure. And an even worse mental picture than "spank you". "Crank you" is right out.

Schlock

The trouble with writing at 3:34 in the morning is that my schlock-filter tends to be down. Granted, when you're trying to write a semi-frank to frank love song, that's actually pretty helpful in getting started. I mean, it's one thing if you're trying to write an indirect love song -- you can write about pancakes or whatnot. But all of the really good ways of telling someone you love them have been taken. Repeatedly. By the likes of Barry Manilow. And that hurts. Which is why I write love songs at 3:37 AM. It dulls the pain.

11:00 Number at 3:15AM

There's really nothing like getting to the point where you now have to write the 11 o'clock number. Because it has to be a humdinger. And it has to be new material. I mean, one of the nice things about writing a second act is that you have a lot of material from which to draw reprises. But no. The 11:00 has to be soaring, heartbreaking, uplifting, and entirely original. And, in this case, it has to be this stirring, joyous reunion, that is also somewhat bittersweet. There's nothing that kills the creative vibe like that kind of expectations.

Then again, anybody can write something brilliant when they're feeling the creative vibe. Professionals have to do it when we're not. Like right now. I mean, sure I could wait for it. But I find that inspiration comes to me when I'm writing uninspired more often than when it comes to me when I'm, say, flossing. Granted, the deadline on this song is, like, April, and if it's not right then, I'll just rewrite it, so really, it's not the end of the world.

In any case, I know exactly what song I would steal and use for this moment if Jason Robert Brown hadn't written it first: "All the Wasted Time" from Parade. Which is a frickin' awesome song.

Fametracker

For hours of procratinatory fun, go check out Fametracker, which is probably the funniest, best-written celebrity-oriented website I've ever seen. Lots of great sections, including the "Hey, It's That Guy!" section, the "Fame Audit" section, the "Galaxy of Fame" section, and my personal favorite, "Celebrity vs. Thing", in which the author debates the relative merits of, say, Tom Hanks versus those of bath puffs, of Steve Carell vs.wristwatches, Catherine Zeta-Jones versus bagels, Billy Bob Thorton vs. tealights, Taye Diggs vs. supermarket belt-dividers, Orlando Bloom vs. Roombas etc. Hilarious.

Go.

Σάββατο, Ιανουαρίου 14, 2006

From the Creators of the Duck Test (TM)

I think that this is good advice. I'd add that if you're overcome by the sheer hilarity of the mental picture, he's also probably not the one.

PIXAR at MOMA

I realize that most of you live far away and can't do this, but if you're in the area, run, don't walk, to the Pixar exhibit at MOMA. If I were a visual artist, I'd kill to work there. When you see the range of artwork put together for each movie, just to figure out each color, line, character, etc, it's just amazing. What it appears that they do is give all of their artists the story, and set them loose to make art inspired by it. Collage, sculpture, pastels, watercolors, marker cartoons, whatnot. Just trying to get to the essence of the idea from any possible angle. It's amazing, and unbelievably beautiful. You can see where the level of care and artistry in each of the movies comes from. I can't recommend it highly enough.

And Friday nights are sponsored by Target, and consequently, free admission! What could be better?

Πέμπτη, Ιανουαρίου 12, 2006

The Office: A Confession

Okay, I have a confession to make. I really, REALLY love NBC's "The Office". Yes, I'm sure it pales in comparison to the British version, which I have chosen not to see. I love it anyway. Oh, iTunes, precious iTunes, thank you for bringing it to me.

Tonight's episode, what with the grill and all, was really very funny. It had a certain understated quality about it, weirdly, but was snort-your-applesauce hysterical, especially with the spray bottle. Genius.

The only thing I missed was more Jim/Pam action, but I think that's coming next week. If they don't end up together eventually, I take back every positive thing I've ever said about it.

Except the spray bottle.

Huh

Julie Andrews has gone through virtually her entire life with the same haircut.

Discuss.

Earth to MTA

Remember what I said about pensions being so my-grandma? Well, now Fortune is saying it too.
It really is over for the corporate pension. Now that IBM has opted out, telling employees last week that their pension benefits will be frozen in 2008, it's hard to see what's to stop every last American corporation from preparing its eventual exit from the pension business. Lots of reasonably healthy companies -- Verizon, NCR, Lockheed Martin and Motorola, to name a few -- already have.

This phenomenon, along with the more dramatic cases of companies going bankrupt and defaulting on existing pension commitments (think United Airlines), has gotten tons of press, most of it of the "ain't it a shame" variety. But the real shame may be that we ever put so much faith in such an inherently unstable, unfair and economically perverse means of providing for retirement.
To review, the MTA workers now get half-salary (upwards of 30k a year now, much higher in the future) from the time of their retirement at 55 till the time of their death, which could easily be upwards of 25 years later, a period of time in excess of that that they actually worked for the MTA. Just to point that out.
That's the problem with pension plans that promise a specific benefit in the future -- they amount, pension consultant Keith Ambachtsheer says, to a contract between current and future generations, and those future generations aren't represented at the bargaining table. As a result, they get stuck guaranteeing the retirement income of their elders while receiving nothing in return.
See, THAT's the problem with social security too -- it's the whole pension issue writ large. It's also, fundamentally, the problem with pyramid schemes, which are really swell innovations, except if you're the sucker on the bottom. Which is what my generation is turning out to be. Bring on the private accounts! And in January of 2009, someone please grow a set and bring the MTA into the 21st century.

Pet Peeve

I really hate news stories about polls about facts. You know what I mean -- things with headlines like, "Poll: Majority of Americans Believe Moon is Cheese," or "Poll: Most Americans Think GWB Eats Only Okra for Breakfast," or, as in this current case, "Poll: Iraq won't be governing itself soon." My general belief is that headlines like this are a stealth way of reporting what the media would like you to believe but don't actually have the facts to back up. Because, contrary to what seems to be popular belief [Did you take a poll? --ed.], the governing abilities of Iraqis are not dependent on the beliefs of the American public, at least not in this sense.

I suppose polls like this are useful in measuring the public's temperment in regards to the effectiveness pursuit of the war, which would then influence their continued support for this and other military actions, but at the same time, polls like this are also completely bogus -- the Iraqis either can or can't. Case closed. Their reality is not dependent on our beliefs. Thank God.

Just for the record

The next time someone tells you that the American tendency to consider marriage to be a religious covenant is a relic from Puritan times, you can tell them they are wrong.
The Puritans of New England rejected all of these Anglican ideas. They believed that marriage was not a religious ceremony but a civil contract. They required that this covenant must be "agreed" or "executed" (not "performed" or "solemnized") before a magistrate, and not a minister. They also insisted that if the terms of the marriage covenant were broken, then the union could be ended by divorce. These attitudes became the basis of regional marriage customs throughout New England. But they were not invented in America, or even in England. William Bradford noted that they were established "according to the laudable custom of the low countries," with which East Anglian Congregationalists were in close communication. They were also briefly introduced in England by Oliver Cromwell's Civil Marriage Act of 1653.

Early American Football

And you thought your parents were strict:
The Puritan believed in the Calvinist Theory in which because of Adam’s original sin, all infants were naturally disposed to do evil things in the world. This led the Puritans to believe the utmost purpose of child rearing was what they called "breaking the will."

Breaking the will typically involved strict attention to detail. Children would listen and observe the behavior of the adults. Puritan parents did not hesitate to use corporal punishment when necessary. These methods seem cruel, even by today’s standards. For example, restless children, who couldn’t sit still, would be rolled up into a ball, with the knees tied under their chins, and batted back and forth across the floor by the adults. Sometimes even the older children took part in this punishment.

Other examples of corporal punishment included hanging the child out of the window by his heels or forcing the child to kneel on sharp objects. Some children were forced to wear signs around their necks proclaiming their offenses. These signs would read "Little Lying Boy" or "Finger Biting Baby".
I'm sorry, I realize I am a bad person for this, but I find the child-rolling thing hilarious.

My Tax Dollars at Work

So apparently there are salamanders in Massachusetts. And the people of Massachusetts are committed to their salamanders, as evidenced in the following:
The spotted salamanders commonly seen in New England and the eastern United States are glossy black with two rows of bright yellow spots down their backs and tails. They can crawl up to half a mile. One night every spring they leave their underground forest homes and migrate to wetland ponds to breed. Salamanders are famous for their energetic "love dance." The females' eggs hatch quickly into larvae, and the larvae develop into young adults that emerge from their ponds in summer or early fall to migrate back to the forest. Unlike many amphibians, adults have a high survival rate.

Every year after the first spring rains in Amherst, Massachusetts, volunteer "bucket brigades" used to stop traffic along Henry Street to carry migrating salamanders safely across the road.

That is, until the animals could cross on their own through two underpasses.

Two-lane Henry Street separates salamanders from the warm, fishless vernal pools (small temporary ponds) where they migrate every spring to mate and to lay their eggs. "Local residents knew when the salamanders would head for the pools," says wildlife biologist and consultant Tom Tyning. "They knew the prime conditions for migration - sustained rain, the beginning of a thaw, and temperatures above 42 degrees."

Those who came out to watch the nighttime migration noticed salamanders killed on the road. When word spread about the animals' plight, the British Fauna and Floral Preservation Society and ACO Polymer in Germany provided funds for an experimental tunnel project on Henry Street. The Amherst Department of Public Works, University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Audubon Society, Hitchcock Center for the Environment (a local conservation group), and local residents worked together to make it happen.

In 1987 two tunnels, 200 feet (61 m) apart, were built at the salamanders' crossing site, and short "drift fences" were constructed to guide migrating salamanders into the tunnels. Each tunnel had a slotted top to let in light and provide the damp conditions salamanders need.
You know, I love amphibians as much as the next guy (no, really, I do. I had a frog that lived to be 19) but I would be a bit put off if I was, say, on my way to work or something and got stuck in a traffic jam caused by a bucket brigade transporting salamanders across the road. So I guess I would then be in favor of the underpass....

Puritan Mad-libs

I'm looking for good Puritan terms of endearment. Preferably one that a mother would use for her child. Any ideas?

I'm leaning towards, in this case, salamander. If there are salamanders in Massachusetts. Or England.

Query of the Evening

Did Puritans wear socks?

Puritain Courtship Customs

This is fascinating.
Like the Anglicans, the Puritans brought their customs to the New World. Perceiving the Anglican wedding customs as excessive, they had turned their backs on the belief that marriage was an unbreakable and mystical union blessed by God. To them, marriage was a civil contract and, if the rules were broken, dissolvable by humans.

Puritans believed that true love was the foundation of a good marriage. They allowed their children the “supervised freedom” to discover if those feelings existed. One of those “freedoms” was the custom of “bundling”. This practice, already existing in Holland, Wales and England, was based on lessening the inconvenience of the long distances traveled during courtship and encouraged prospective suitors to stay overnight. The couple was put to bed with a “bundling board” between them — the female’s legs wrapped in a “bundling stocking”. In some areas a girl’s social status was deeply affected if she didn’t have a “night visitor”, or if she was above the age of 18 and still at home. Called an old maid at 25, she was considered a “thornback” at 30!

When a Puritan finalized his choice of a mate, the “walking out” became official. This event was publicly acknowledged when the bride-to-be chose the text of the minister’s next sermon — an occasion equal to an Anglican bride choosing her wedding dress.
Never woulda guessed ANY of that.

Τρίτη, Ιανουαρίου 10, 2006

Totally Teddy

Totally Incongruous Ted Kennedy Thing Of Yesterday:
It was revealed that he owns a Portuguese Water Dog named "Splash".

Totally Incongruous Ted Kennedy Thing of Today:
Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy told Alito that his judicial opinions suggest otherwise.

"Time and again, even in routine matters involving average Americans, you give enormous, almost total deference to the exercise of governmental powers," said the Massachusetts senator.
I'm sorry. I thought the general position of the Democratic party was that I do not know how to manage my life and therefore it should be regulated within an inch of it's life and then taxed heavily. Especially in MA. But I could be wrong...

Quote Of The Day

"Put Katie in the haunted house!"

Truer Words

PJ O'Rourke's review of the new Wonkette novel expresses the deepest desire of my heart:
Creative writing teachers should be purged until every last instructor who has uttered the words "Write what you know" is confined to a labor camp. Please, talented scribblers, write what you don't. The blind guy with the funny little harp who composed The Iliad , how much combat do you think he saw?
I will not write a musical about composers, playwrights, directors, conductors, screenwriters, novelists, actors, filmmakers, poets, or similarly inclined folk, unless the aforementioned person has also done something interesting, like be eaten by cannibals. I accept that my own life, at least when I'm writing, is dull and uninteresting. What I write is interesting. Me eating a pomegranate on my futon while trying to envision a sex scene in a forest as observed, from the future, by the love child of the participants of said scene is not interesting. Sometimes I also scratch myself. This is not the stuff of high drama. Which is why my show is full of witches, devils, sex, hallucinogens, and lots of fire. ROCK! And some of my characters are illiterate, eliminating the risk that they'll suddenly develop an urge to write. Ah, the 1600s.

See for yourself

Here's the song in question from the previous "What meter do you prefer?" post. I'm going to let you see for yourself which you'd prefer. I've decided to go with the meter the song is actually in. It just makes more sense. But you don't have to take my word for it. Click on the thumbnail for a close-up.

This is the 4/4 version.



This is the 6/8-5/4 version.


And this song kinda rocks, by the way.

Κυριακή, Ιανουαρίου 08, 2006

Would You Rather...

...play from a score in which every other bar is 6/8 and rest are 5/4, and the beats fall at their proper locations within the bars, or would you rather play from a score in which all the bars are 4/4, but the beats fall in kinda screwy places in the bars?

Puritan Euphemism of the Day

"He gave her the A, if you know what I mean..."

Σάββατο, Ιανουαρίου 07, 2006

Mad Nejad

E. M. Zanotti over at The American Princess mentioned that she wished she had a good nickname for Iran's President Ahmadinejad. I propose "Mad Nejad". Feel free to contribute other suggestions, or to use mine in your own writing.

"I See Them On The Other Side"

I'm sure most of you have seen this by now, but one of the late Sago miners wrote a note to his family before he died. It read,
"Tell all -- I see them on the other side. It wasn't bad just went to sleep. JR I love you"
His nephew, on CNN.com, said that his uncle had intended to say "I will see them..." and he's probably right. But I choose not to believe that. Pretty much my all-time favorite song is "How Glory Goes" from the musical Floyd Collins, which is when a caver, who has been trapped underground for three weeks, finally dies. I posted the entire lyric here a few years ago, and you should read it all, but the end is what matters here.
Only Heaven knows how glory goes, what each of use was meant to be.
In the starlight that is what we are.
I can see so far...
I realize that Adam Guettel and Chris Innvar have never died underground, but when I listen to "How Glory Goes," I almost believe the note as written. I hope the miners can see forever. I hope they have discovered Heaven, have found how glory goes.

Δευτέρα, Ιανουαρίου 02, 2006

A Fisking in Defense of Orlando Bloom

Today's NYT has an article that basically lays the blame for the suffering of the film industry on the lithe, hairless shoulders of Orlando Bloom. Which might be slightly unfair. Let's look at this.
IT was months before the cameras were set to roll on one of 20th Century Fox's most ambitious projects for 2005, a $140 million historic epic about the Crusades by the director Ridley Scott. And still there was no one to play the leading role of Balian. Mr. Scott had at first envisioned Russell Crowe, the scowling, muscled star of his "Gladiator" hit, to play the role of a blacksmith and reluctant Crusader in the Holy Land. But Mr. Crowe had other projects on his slate, and would not alter them to fit the director's timetable.

It took four more months of searching by casting agents and Mr. Scott to settle on Orlando Bloom, the long-haired, doe-eyed young British actor who was high on Hollywood's list of hot new stars in the making. Mr. Bloom, who had won a fan base of teenage girls with his performance in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and who was fresh off the set of another historical epic, Warner Brothers' "Troy," was the favored choice of Fox executives.

But as it turned out, "Troy" did not catch fire with the audience (not even the teenage girls), or with critics. And Mr. Bloom's next major outing, in Mr. Scott's "Kingdom of Heaven," was a bust, taking in just $211 million in ticket sales around the world, hardly enough to justify its production and marketing costs.
Okay, I like looking at hot men as much as the next girl. But if you think I'm going to find a theatre that's playing (Troy/Kingdom of Heaven), show up at the time of the theatre's choosing, pay $12, sit in a theatre where I have to focus solely on the movie and not multitask, with no escape, for up to three hours, without a compelling story to show for it, you're crazy. I mean, yes, I love Lord of the Rings, and it's an epic, but it's an epic with a great story and rich, compelling, heartfelt characters. My general impression of Troy was that they had lots of hot men and lots of CGI ships. Which is great and all, but see above line of crazy.
And Kingdom of Heaven looked similar, except that there was only one hot man, which was Orlando Bloom, and he was all matted and bearded and mangy looking, and no CGI ships.

See, here's the problem Orlando Bloom's facing, and getting blamed for: Women, especially women under the age of about 25, find Orlando Bloom hot. Men don't get it. At all. But they put Orlando Bloom in big epic dirty sword-slashing war movies, which men enjoy. And women don't get them. At all. It's not really his fault that he can't draw bazillions of people into the theatres -- men don't like him and women don't like the movie. Bad casting.

Moving on.
Next came the lead in Cameron Crowe's comic romance, "Elizabethtown," which pancaked at the box office when Paramount released it in the fall, and exposed Mr. Bloom to a withering verdict by movie critics.
Okay. Elizabethtown sucked. Badly. Which was not strictly speaking his fault. I mean, can anyone tell me what it was about? Or the general idea? Or why the hell Susan Sarandon tapdanced at a funeral? Or why it felt like the longest, most wandering two hours of my life. I mean, yes, his acting was limited. But the writing wasn't helping. And I REALLY could have forgiven the bad acting if someone had attempted to tell some sort of coherent story.

A Broadway writer who I know and respect once said that 90% of the time, when you have to fire an actor because it's not working, it's the fault of the writing. Sometimes, yes, it's a mismatch, but most of the time, it's the writing.

The fact of the matter is, we're not all shallow. If you tell a reasonable story, we'll come see it. If you put someone hot in it, we might see it twice. And if you put Johnny Depp in it, well then...