Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Friday, July 28, 2006

Something I plan to do next week, Part I

I was just looking at my blog and was reminded of how far behind I am on simple maintenance. I don't know if anybody actually looks at this, but I have a list of stuff I like on the left side that hasn't been touched since, like, March. A lot has changed in my life since March. My blog should reflect this.

I also need to axe the blasted "Does he suck?" Hall of Fame. But maybe I won't.

I pledge to update my blog next week. I'm adding it to the list of things to do on my week off, including: Brainstorm cool story ideas for The P-C; jumpstart my freelance career; clean my house; think of ways to revamp Under 30 column; clean my apartment.

I like to make big plans for my life whenever I have a week off. I just don't like following through. (There's no way I'm cleaning my apartment, for example. I put that on as a joke.) I would like to do the other stuff, but my important "eat pretzels and watch snarky VH1 shows" time could get in the way. I'm also going to my friend's cabin early in the week and Lollapalooza later in the week, so I don't have an overabundance of time.

See, I'm already making up excuses! This reminds me of one of my favorite Onion stories ever. It's right here.

But, seriously, I'm updating this blog. I swear.

Ron Burgundy, meet Jodi Applegate

Jodi Applegate is kind of a big deal, you know. She's an anchorwoman for a big New York City TV station. People know her, love her, respect her. So she doesn't have patience for unruly jokester filmmakers who screw up her important newscast with wacky pranks.

When he leaned in close to the grinder, Casey suddenly shrieked as if he was injured and popped the ketchup packs, smearing the red sauce across his throat before collapsing on the sidewalk screaming.

Seconds later, he was on his feet laughing, "We were just kidding," but Applegate was already yelling at them as the camera panned around the scene wildly.

"No!" Applegate shouted. "We were trying to do a serious thing here, and this is not funny.

"Do not - do not be upset," she told viewers.

Applegate's protracted, angry reaction to what appeared to be a silly stunt struck many as being out of proportion.

A Ch. 5 spokesman said that Applegate's tirade was the anchor simply "doing her job" and that the station was not going to "tolerate that kind of behavior."

See for yourself here.

Remember, if these guys are selling anything on the Internet don't buy it because those guys are jerks.

Shameless self-promotion

Here is the rest of my Under 30 column on balding. Love it!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Further evidence of the awesomeness of Steely Dan

Regular readers know that Under 30 blog LOVES Steely Dan, the yacht rock standard-bearers and genuine subversives wrapped in your dad's finest sweaters. Apparently, the new Owen Wilson movie "You, Me and Dupree" (I think that's the name) takes its premise from a Dan song on one of the non-70s albums I don't own. The song is called "Cousin Dupree" and I can only assume it's about a jackass whose best friend is Matt Dillion.

Anyway, Fagen and Becker took offense to not getting credit and wrote a letter to Luke Wilson on their Web site. And the letter is every bit as smart ass as their lyrics.

A sample:

Um, actually, there will be no sample. I can't copy the thing. So just check out the link. It's pretty funny.

P.S. How awesome would it be if somebody made a movie based on "Hey Nineteen"? Very.

Shameless self-promotion

The Fox Cities Weekend cover story today is on Wisconsin's stalled movie industry. Long story short, the state legislature passed a bunch of fat tax incentives for film companies to make movies here back in May. Unfortunately for a whole lot of state filmmakers, tourism officials and business leaders, the breaks don't go into effect until 2008.

Read more here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Balding blues

I spent last weekend in South Carolina, a place invented to show Wisconsinites what true humidity feels like. (It’s a locker room where hot showers have been running non-stop for two weeks, in case you wanted to know.)

I was there to visit my brother and his family. I also hoped to start a collection of Confederate flag T-shirts and purchase a red, white and blue gun rack. (I’m joking. I wanted a Confederate-colored gun rack. I heart the 1860s!) Anyway, it was a fun visit. The relationship between my brother and me has really grown over the years. Instead of constantly arguing over video games and Wiffle ball, we occasionally argue over video games and Wiffle ball.

Of course, I still can’t beat him at Madden football. (It used to be Tecmo Bowl. But the change in video worlds has not improved my winning percentage.) Kids, if you have a big brother or sister who beats you at every game you play, a word of advice: Give up now. He or she will continue to defeat you well into adulthood. If you do win, it will be because he or she let you win or some sort of mental or physical paralysis has set in. Either way, you can’t enjoy victory.

When I wasn’t being reminded that my hand/eye coordination is just as woefully insufficient in 2006 as it was 1991, my brother and I talked about a more recent troubling development: Balding. Specifically, the balding happening to the both of us.

Let me emphasize the “ing” in baldING when I talk about my expanding forehead. I am not bald(no -ing). I am baldING, which implies there’s still more hair than skin on the top of my head.

It’s a tenuous advantage I might not able to maintain. I already keep a bottle of Draino on call to keep my shower from clogging. Plus, I am starting to resemble “Moonlighting” era Bruce Willis. I fear I will soon look like “Die Hard” era Bruce Willis, which means my “Pulp Fiction” era is on the horizon.

I’m not thrilled about this. I’m a man who believes in justice, and since my chest hair appears headed on a slow but steady collision course with my back, I figure I should at least have hair on my head. I mean, if God really exists, that would be the case, right? Right? Hello? Is this thing on?

Maybe it’s time to start reading Nietzsche.

Read the rest as part of Friday's Under 30 column.

This man is gay?

I thought about posting about this and decided not to because I'm not big on commenting on the sexual orientations of strangers. But I just got a breathless phone call from a friend who immediately asked, "Did you hear about the gay Backstreet Boy?" So maybe people are talking about this today, thus making it blog worthy.

So Lance Bass is gay. (And he was in N'Sync, not Backstreet.) Is anybody shocked by this? I doubt it. Not because people already assumed Lance was gay but because, as my friend put it, anyone who wasn't a 14-year-old girl when "Bye, Bye, Bye" was big didn't have an opinion about the guy's sexuality one way or another. Boy bands are essentially are Ken dolls. For all their washboard stomachs and gyrating dance moves, there's nothing remotely sexual about them. And it's not like you think about puppies or ponies getting it on, either. So whether the guy likes guys or girls ultimately is irrelevant.

Still, I think it's funny that his plan to go to space was intended to divert attention from his gayness. Somebody check Neil Armstrong's CD collection for Village People and Liza sightings.

I bet this revelation helps his career in the same way keeping it a secret made it possible for N'Sync to get all that pub from the Disney Channel. It's not as if the dude was on the cover of People magazine before this happened. In all seriousness, good for him for coming out. Now all those macho dudes who love N'Sync will have to rethink their prejudices.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lights, camera, no action?

You are at a College Avenue coffeeshop in downtown Appleton. While applying cream and sugar to a cup of premium blend, you see Tom Cruise at a nearby table paging through a tabloid magazine that inexplicably doesn’t have his smiling face on the cover. Sitting across from Mr. Katie Holmes is Samuel L. Jackson quietly reciting an expletive-spiked monologue about how the meaning of life is best expressed by “The Facts of Life” theme song. But Jackson’s informal rehearsal isn’t quiet enough for Scarlett Johansson, fetchingly curled up in her own booth, who turns up the White Stripes song on her iPod while sipping the most expensive cappuccino on the menu.

You look down expecting to see your naked body, the only logical conclusion to a fantastic dream borne of one too many late night viewings of “Extra!”

For the time being it is only a dream. But there is hope among Wisconsin filmmakers, tourism officials, business leaders and politicians that the state could become a player in attracting major Hollywood productions, which would bring celebrities from the screen to our backyard to make movies.

Wisconsin’s Hollywood hopes hinge on an alluring package of tax incentives signed into law two months ago offering movie-makers breaks on corporate and individual income taxes paid to workers, tax credits for establishing in-state film production companies and compensation for up to 25 percent of non-wage production expenses like hotel rooms, car rentals and set construction.

When it comes to setting up a movie shoot, you might think a Hollywood big shot would care more about having the right shampoo for his prized Chihuahua than boring old tax legislation. But with movies more expensive to make than ever, producers must pinch pennies wherever they can, especially if it means the difference between casting Will Ferrell for your lead role, or Joe Piscopo. Tax credits equal millions of extra dollars.

Word of Wisconsin’s incentives quickly spread throughout the film industry and put us back on the movie map after years of minimal activity, said Dave Fantle, spokesman for tourism group Visit Milwaukee and task member for grassroots organization Film Wisconsin, which formed last year and lobbied hard for the tax breaks.

Film productions that have expressed interest in coming here include “Poker Brat,” a movie about Madison poker player Phil Hellmuth budgeted at $7 million, and “Cheeseheads,” a feel-good story about a devoted Packers fan from the producer of “Platoon,” “Hoosiers” and “The Terminator.” All told Fantle estimates these films and others looking at Wisconsin have budgets totaling about $78 million. Considering the latest “Pirates of the Carribbean” movie cost more than $200 million, that’s not exactly huge in Hollywood dollars. But it’s not a bad start for a state whose most recent whiff of major movie-making magic was Bernie Mac’s forgettable sports comedy “Mr. 3000” in 2004.

“Just as they look for new faces, Hollywood looks for new skylines,” Fantle said. “We’re talking huge economic impact even after these productions go away … It can serve as a positive advertisement for your destination.”

Here’s the part where the surprise twist comes in (dum, dum, dum): It’s likely none of the movies Fantle is talking about will actually be made here. Because all those juicy incentives don’t go into effect until Dec. 31, 2007. And there already are plenty of other states—35 to be exact—that offer tax breaks right now, including surrounding states like Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa that ratcheted up their film benefits after Wisconsin did. Or before we did, depending on how you look at it.
By putting an 18-month gap between our bark and our bite, did we blow the lead role before we were even cast?

“We created such a buzz with incentives that we already have people very much interested in working here,” said Dave Fantle. “How are we going to get out of the box to say we want those millions now?”

Read the rest of this story in Thursday's Fox Cities Weekend in The P-C.