All things considered, 2012 was a relatively slow news year. Sure, plenty of important things happened, but when you compare it to other recent years, with their tsunamis and their earthquakes and their revolutions, this year mostly offered just "more of the usual". Still, there were some major stories, and many of them can be summarized by single words -… read more!
My wife and I just spent a few days in Australia. What a great place. Expensive as all get-out right now, but still a swell destination for the curious. Obviously it's all quite huge and there's lots to see, but we got enough of a "sampling" of the country for me to make the following nine observations. I'll bet you… read more!
Election Day is tomorrow! Let's celebrate by looking back at the nine most recent American presidents who have been portrayed on screen by famous actors. I'm not including all the various Saturday Night Live performers and sketch artists who have lampooned our Commanders in Chief. These are just the bona fide film and TV stars. George W. Bush. No Obama… read more!
With the return of the hit TV series The Walking Dead and with Halloween season upon us, it's time to address some burning questions about zombies. Obviously, the very genre requires a certain suspension of disbelief, but because most zombie fiction adheres to a strict set of rules (e.g., they only die if you shoot them in the brain, a… read more!
I cannot believe that I have been writing these Lists of 9 for almost fifteen years now - fifteen years! - and yet I have never written the simplest and most obvious list that a filmmaker could write. So I'm writing it now. My nine favorite feature films, more or less in order. (Which is to say, the order is… read more!
Happy New Year! I'm not Jewish, but in honor of Rosh Hashanah, which begins today, I'm writing a slightly on-topic list. It's no controversy to say that a lot people of Jewish heritage have made their mark in Hollywood over the years. Yet despite their prominence in this industry, several actors have chosen to gentilize their Jewish names because of… read more!
Early this year, my wife had a plan: She was going to force herself to like all the various foodstuffs that she had avoided all her life. The idea was that if you make yourself eat something often enough, you'll get over your distaste for it. And you know what? It works! I used to be an excessively picky person.… read more!
I've been slacking in the site updates this summer, thanks to my Lynda.com screenwriting course (taping has now been completed!) and various jobs and travels. So this is a quicky. In short: lately I have noticed a surprisingly large number of major Hollywood pictures having their release dates bumped back a year. Why? The given reasons are numerous, though usually… read more!
This year I keep hearing about various institutions turning fifty, which has led me to one conclusion: 1962 was a pretty big year, especially for pop culture. Here are some of the many things hitting the half-century point in 2012. Sixties music. Technically, sixties music started in, well, 1960. But look at this: in 1962, Bob Dylan released his first… read more!
The most surprising thing about this list (which required far more research than you'd imagine) is that for all the goofy palindromes we grew up with - classics like "A man, a plan, a canal: Panama" and "Madam, I'm Adam" as well as more prosaic entries like "Dammit, I'm mad!" and "Dog doo? Good God!" - palindromes simply aren't used… read more!
For decades, the Top 40 chart has seen the occasional novelty hit sung in something other than English. Think of Santana's "Oye Como Va", Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose", or the Sandpipers' "Guantanamera" - and those weren't even big enough to make this list! Based on their peak positions on the Billboard Hot 100, here are the nine most… read more!
Where do you draw the line between nepotism and a family business? With the Coppola clan, it's often hard to tell. But here they are: Francis Ford Coppola. The patriarch. The man who started with exploitation flicks and forged an A-list career for himself, only to let it slowly dribble away over the last three decades with misfires, interesting but… read more!
There are over 19,000 incorporated municipalities in the United States. I have no idea how many of them have English-based names. It may not even be a majority. But since English is still the primary language of this country, it's easy to assume that it's the default source for most of our city names, e.g., all the Springfields, Fairviews, Greenvilles… read more!
It may not surprise you to learn that, since 1995, I have written down every film that I have gone to see in a theater. In retrospect, I probably should have logged where I saw each film and who I was with. But for now my memory is still strong enough to recall most of these details. Of course, over… read more!
The world of "reality-based" entertainment is filled with spoiled scions, from Paris Hilton to Kim Kardashian. For this list, I'll be ignoring them (and in fact we'd all do well to ignore them universally and permanently). I'm also excluding the many famous actor children of Hollywood stars (Kiefer Sutherland, Angelina Jolie, Michael Douglas, et al). Though born into money, they're… read more!
This Friday, a comedic interpretation of the Snow White story will be released in theaters. It's called Mirror Mirror. Whenever I see a title like this, I think of the Goodfellas character Jimmy Two Times, who was gonna go get the papers, get the papers. Here are nine other examples, other examples. Win Win. Well-received 2011 indie starring Paul Giamatti… read more!
This list is in honor of Pixar's Andrew Stanton, the latest animation director (Finding Nemo, WALL-E) to try his hand at live action (the heavily motion-captured sci fi epic John Carter, which opened this weekend to dismal box office). Now, I myself was trained as an animator. I got into it in high school; when I was accepted into CalArts'… read more!
At first this seemed like an easy list to write; anybody can look up what happened on this day in history without doing a lot of legwork. But as February 29 only comes around every four years, that means it's four times less likely to have had anything interesting happening on it. Thus, finding the good stuff took a bit… read more!
There are bad songs, and then there are bad songs that have a significant and irreversible effect on pop culture. Here are nine tunes which, if I had a big cosmic "undo" button, I would have made sure never came into existence. In some cases, the songs themselves aren't the problem so much as the terrible trends they unleashed. "WITCH… read more!
In Hollywood, "comeback" is a usually just a PR term, since most of the time the celebrity a) never really went away (e.g., Bob Dylan, John Travolta, Betty White), or b) didn't really have much of a comeback (see: Demi Moore in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. Actually, don't). For the sort of musicians whose work is easily dated but carries… read more!