Friday, August 8, 2008

Meeting Pam Beesly

Wednesday morning while at work, I got a call from my roommate. She said, "Guess who's on campus."

Now, the previous evening, she had been talking about the start of fall football camp, so I figured she was talking about some player, or maybe a past Trojan visiting. Heck, maybe even an NFLer.

I was definitely not expecting her to say "Jenna Fischer." I will be eternally grateful for that call.

You see, there have been plenty of celebrities on USC's campus, and not once have I felt compelled to seek them out. But this was different. I named my car Pam Beesly for crying out loud.

As it turns out, two work studies in our office have been catching up on "The Office," so I told the only one who was in what I had just heard. We ventured out and staked out the set for about twenty minutes with no luck.

Later that day the third work study joined us as we went back and stayed for more like an hour this time. At one point, we saw the back of John Krasinski's head as he was walking to his trailer.

And then, someone noticed Jenna Fischer at the craft services table. At first none of us did anything, and then we decided to approach.

She was talking to someone else getting snacks, so we awkwardly stood there waiting for a chance to say hello.

I'd say we talked for about a minute and a half to two minutes. She shook our hands. She asked us where we were from, and since the work studies were both from California, I got to stand out when I said "Alabama." I told her that I love her blog, and she seemed genuinely happy about that. (I forgot, however, to tell her about my car.)

And she mentioned that she has a friend who works on campus, so she visits here sometimes. Awesome.

She was just as cute in person. Shorter than I expected, but that's a common thing. And she was incredibly sweet and nice.

Obviously I can't say I know her, but from reading her blog and the brief interaction I had with her, I'll say this. It's not more celebrities that should be like Jenna Fischer. It's more people that should be like Jenna Fischer.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Paris For President

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

The responses I've heard to this video have ranged from declaring that this is actually McCain's energy plan to wondering what effect it will have on twenty-somethings that Paris called him "a wrinkly old white guy." But everyone is missing the biggest story to come out of this: Paris Hilton can act.

Believe me, I never thought I'd write that sentence. But for full disclosure, and to be fair to her, I've never seen any of her performances other than her short cameo on The O.C. (Well, I was a fervent watcher of The Simple Life during its first season, and I suppose it could be argued that this was also a performance.)

So while I might not be able to have a truly informed opinion, reading the reviews from her films, combined with watching her host SNL, left me feeling that she couldn't act to save her life.

But maybe they just couldn't find the right material for her because this video is legitimately funny. In fact, I think she actually out-acts the material. The punchline is Maui? Not exactly brilliant writing, but she does everything she can with it.

Of course, a lot of the humor comes from the old joke of having a character everyone thinks is an idiot (or actually IS an idiot) suddenly say something incredibly intelligent. In this case, the character happens to be a real live person.

Sure, it's good for an easy joke, but give credit where credit is due. Not every girl can pull it off and sound convincing. Here, it works.

One can't keep doing this character over and over, so this might be the end of Paris' true acting career. But I have to give credit where credit is due.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Just Add Money: Stupid 911 Calls

Two days in a row, there have been news stories about stupid people calling 911 for idiotic reasons.

One man became belligerent at a Subway when they didn’t put the spicy sauce on his Italian sub. They locked him out of the store when he went outside to call the police, via 911. Why this malady couldn’t easily be corrected I don’t know, but the fact that the man called 911 lets me know he wasn’t exactly rational. My favorite part is that he called a second time because police weren’t arriving quickly enough.

In the second story, a man called to report that a slot machine in a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino stole his money. He also called twice, so the “heat of the moment” argument is busted.

It just so happens that both of these calls happened in Florida. Not to say anything negative about a whole state based on just two people, but it must be full of idiots.

Anyway, I’m curious to hear more about these incidents, as there are a lot of questions left unanswered. Did these men later realize the error of their ways, or are they still insisting they were in the right? How exactly do the police handle such things when they show up? Why are people still eating at Subway? (Was there not a Quizno’s nearby?)

But there’s something more urgent than getting the answers to these questions. I want to hear more of these stories. Everyone loves a dumb criminal story, but these are even better. (The ultimate would be criminals calling 911, which I’m sure has happened numerous times.)

This could easily be a TV show. It’s like something Fox would have done in the 90’s. Which means it’s something pretty much any network would do now.

Title: I’ve thought about it, and honestly, there’s nothing that beats Idiot 911!

Format: Obviously you’d need to present the story, but there are a number of ways you could expand it. Interviews with the police or other people involved. If you could get interviews with the person that called, even better, especially if they still don’t think they did anything wrong.

You could even do a sort of parody of the old Rescue 911! and have badly staged reenactments. I might feel bad about myself afterwards, but I’d watch that show at least once.

Tone: No one would ever go for this, but I think it would be hilarious if it was played seriously, sort of like The Colbert Report. But let’s be honest and say that it would be snarky to the max. Actually, you should try to get Perez Hilton to host. At least these people deserve to be mocked.

Story: Well that’s up to the American people to be stupid. I’m sure we won’t be disappointed.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ode to an Ad: "Little Children" Trailer


After rewatching this trailer, I was surprised to find that it did in fact contain some, though very little, dialogue. In my memory, the only sound was the train. This means that the train motif, combined with the other visuals, was powerful enough to make a lasting impression. The dialogue certainly doesn’t detract from it and lets you know outright that the film is about an affair, but I believe you’d get most of that without any words at all.

I didn’t have any strong desire to see this film, but the trailer hooked me. Obviously the pairing of Kate Winslet and Jennifer Connelly helped, though the latter is criminally underused in the film, especially considering how prominently she’s featured in the preview. But all I knew about Patrick Wilson was that he was the guy from Hard Candy, a film I hadn’t seen at the time. (Actually, that’s still pretty much all I know about him.)

The idea of a train suggests a number of things: movement, change, speed, and most importantly, inevitability. Things are going to continue to barrel forward, and they only have one path to take. If another’s path happens to be headed towards your own, a collision is unavoidable.

That goes for both the film’s two lovers and their respective spouses (more so Connelly, since Winslet’s husband isn’t shown in the preview.) At some point Winslet and Wilson are going to unite in something that, while horrible and painful and destructive, couldn’t really be avoided. And together, they will create a new path, one that will eventually lead to an even worse crash with more consequences.

The fact that you do not SEE a train for much of the time adds an ominous tone, especially when the sounds are featured over shots of such quiet moments as a family meal and poolside lounging. It hints at some energy lying right under the surface, which in the film manifests itself first as a desire to give into temptation, and then as a secret that desperately needs to be kept.

I agree with the sentiment of unfortunate destiny up to a point, or rather, after a point. Perhaps after reaching a certain moment in the relationship, their affair is unavoidable, but they made the initial choices to reach that point in the first place.

Regardless of your opinions on the central theme, it’s a great way to hook you and leave you wanting to know more. After all, everyone loves watching a train wreck.