Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Brother From Another Planet >Robert Downey Jr delivers the most controversial - and damn funny- performance of the summer in 'Tropic Thunder'

There are performances that take balls. There are performances that take the kind of stones that makes Hillary Clinton’s vote-counting look like amateur hour. And then there’s the role of Kirk Lazarus in Tropic Thunder.

On its face, the idea is ghastly. Robert Downey Jr. stars as an Oscar winner who plays as African-American soldier in a war epic. And if you’re thinking there’s no way anyone would be dumb enough to play blackface for laughs in 2008, well, that’s exactly what he does. The whole thing is a high-wire act over a pile of chain saws, but Downey blows co-stars Jack Black and Ben Stiller clear off the screen with his unblinking commitment to the gag. As Lazarus becomes more and more convinced he actually is black – to the alarm of his colleagues – the unhinged joke becomes clear. It’s about race. It’s about spoofing puffed-up Hollywood vanity. But more than anything else, it’s about that essential element of all great comedy: danger. Somewhere, Lenny Bruce is smiling.

-Dan Fierman, GQ august 2008-

What I've Learned: Jenna Jameson

Actress, 34, Los Angeles

C’mon downstairs. I just got a new couch. We can break it in.

The first thing that comes out of my mouth is always right.

If I have daughters, I wouldn’t want them to go into pornography. That’s not really a conflict with who I am. You don’t ever want your children to struggle. You want everything to come to them beautifully and perfectly. My industry is not cut out for harmony. I don’t want my little girl to have to worry about whether or not those whispers are about her.

Don’t let your son read my book until he’s sixteen.

Duxiana. It has this technology that doesn’t allow you to bounce all over the place, yet it’s still really supersoft.

Getting a tattoo should hurt. It’s a rite of passage.

I’ll be out having a good time and stick my gum on the side of my cup -- I know, it’s a horrible habit -- and people will steal the cup. I’ve had girls come up in crowds and rip out my hair. Not because they’re being mean. Because they want a piece of me. It’s really weird.

Women’s vaginas go back to their normal size after sex. They don’t stretch out. Whatever you’re born with you’re kind of stuck with. And once you have a baby, you can always have extra stitches put in, right?

I did my bathroom like that on purpose. The photo of Jean Harlow. The one of me spread-eagle across from the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. I think what you see is such a beautiful contradiction. That room is me in a nutshell.

I’m a paradox wrapped inside a paradox.

Yeah, I see those “Increase your size” e-mails. So sad. To have someone actually put some implant into your penis -- that’s crazy! If I were a man, for me to even think of doing that, it would have to be inverted.

I’m a powerful woman. I think that’s intimidating to a man, on every level. That’s why I always go out of my way to be ultranice and ultrasweet and coy, because it makes people feel comfortable, and I want people to feel comfortable around me before I put them in a headlock.

I would never cheat on the person I’m with.

I think more people out there need to have more sex.

There are certain things that I just didn’t feel comfortable with on film, and anal sex was one of them. It’s just too intimate. To this day, I equate doing it with only someone that I 100 percent trust. It’s very private for me.

Dancing at a strip club is a job. Men don’t want to feel like they’re giving us money to do what we’re doing. They want to feel like we’re doing it on our own. Guys have to realize that the money they’re giving a stripper is paying rent and making car payments.

I hate getting political and stuff, but when really right-wing people get into office, they worry about things that should be the least of our worries. Whether or not I’m getting it doggy style from a black man should not be their concern. They should be worrying about health care, about our homeless, about the war. How about bringing the troops home? Call me crazy.

George Bush has read my book. Don’t act like he hasn’t.

What the news is feeding us is so different from what is happening.

When I was first approached about debating at Oxford, I was like, How am I going to do this? I barely got a diploma. How do I debate against professors? But my husband at the time said, “Do you think those professors know more about pornography than you?” So I wrote a ten-minute speech. But I never looked down at it once. The passion just poured out of me. I could see how many people in the audience were against me in the beginning. But as I got into my story and talked about all the things I’ve learned along the way, I could see the tide turning. I could see the women in the audience understanding that I’m just a normal girl, and slowly they started to relate to me. After a debate at Oxford, the audience can walk out of one of two doors -- one for pro, another for con. I stood there watching nearly everybody go through the pro door. It was beautiful. There are certain moments in my life that I remember kind of stepping back and thinking to myself, Please print this on your brain, because this is something that you want to be able to tell your children. That was one of those moments. I win, motherfucker. I win.

When you’re fearful, you stumble.

My definition of courage is never letting anyone define you.

I don’t know what happens next. At the end, I just want to feel completion. What’s completion? I don’t know.

I remember finishing my book and thinking, Okay, now I’m going to settle down, have kids. I’m going to ride off quietly into the sunset. Now look. It seems like I will forever be that crazy girl who never rides off into the sunset. I’m always going to be the one riding the fucking bronco. In assless chaps.

Jameson was crowned porn's best new starlet in 1996 and inducted into the industry's hall of fame in 2006. She left acting behind to write her memoirs and launch a clothing line: House of Jameson.

by Cal Fussman, Esquire August 2008-
-photo by Shawn Mortensen-

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Grey Tie Infatuation

Retail therapy is evil. Therapy itself was invented by the devil so the wicked could justify their actions. At least, that’s what Ray Wise told me.

Retail therapy only gives you a temporary sense of pleasure, until you realize how much you’ve actually spent. Or worse, when you pay by plastic, because you’ve spent money you don’t have. Which would explain why the term ‘credit card debt’ seem so common these days.

Usually this problem rarely concerns me because, usually, it belongs to the feminine world. Men aren’t familiar with the term retail therapy or any problems associated with it. In fact, most men aren’t familiar with the word ‘retail’ at all.

However, on few rare occasions, it decides to infect one of the male species and it becomes quite the worry. Especially when it decided upon me as its latest victim last Monday.

All I wanted to do was to get a fresh Himalaya facial wash to replace for the one I had run out and be done with it. And it is usually a hassle free errand even if it is at Suria. I’ve been there a million times. What could possibly go wrong?

And I was telling myself exactly that while I was standing in the middle of Parkson, at the men’s tie section. In front of me resting snakily on the display table was a gorgeous D&G grey silk tie.

‘I could use one of those’ I said to myself.

But that would be impulsive buying. And you know how I am not into that. At least, for the time being. So, I decided to check out other places. Besides, it’ll only take five minutes to the Himalaya store. And so it began.

What started out as a simple browsing exercise turned into an obsession to find that elusive grey tie.

Why a grey tie? I’ll tell you why.

While a slim black tie will always be on that go-to basics on hand list, this fall a simple grey tie belongs right beside it. One that’s matte silk or wool – there’s nothing essential about a shiny grey tie – in a medium-to-dark shade. It’ll add balance to solid-colour shirts and go well with a crisp white shirt, too.

Tie by Steven Alan

And, since in all of Parkson the D&G tie is the only one to come close to the shade I’m looking for, I began to suspect that the lesser brands were so obsessed with patterns to even considering offering their customers a plain grey. With that in mind, I just couldn’t help myself but to designer-store hopping.

But, before we get there, let me tell you something about designer stores. The ones in Malaysia, that is. They can be so arrogant at times. If I’m led to believe, designer stores in Europe (particularly in Zurich, and some even say Frankfurt) really pamper you as customers. It doesn’t matter if you don’t buy anything in the end. Upon entrance you are offered a seat AND a drink. And you’re there just to look at cuff links.

Over here, well, I’m sorry if I don’t look Middle Eastern enough but the people at Dunhill did not even acknowledge my existence when I walked in. I could have bought something, you know. I have the financial means, you bunch of plonks. But I wouldn’t now for that insulting lack of attention. At least the people at Aigner greeted me, before immediately carry on with their own business (which is sucking up to their Middle Eastern customers). And, sadly, Hugo Boss did not fare quite well either. Greeting, yes, but then the stalker move by the attending store staff which as if to suggest I was looking to steal something rather than pay for it. I say ‘sadly’ because I have tremendous respect for the Hugo Boss line. I guess, that as far it’ll go for the time being.

The better ones were Ferré, even though they don’t offer men’s ties, which they politely pointed out. And, of course, Giorgio Armani. I had to decline ‘assistance’ from them twice. Mainly because they didn’t have any plain grey ties. I left without being offered any champagne but it was flattering nonetheless.

However, despite my visits to numerous designer stores, which includes Zara and Ralph Lauren, none had the right one. All my hope laid rest on one more stop: Isetan’s men’s section.

And, although the tie section once again disappointed, I finally rested my eyes upon a fine piece at Raoul’s corner. It is grey, it is plain, it is silk, it is perfect. I went to pay for it almost immediately. And, at 50% discount, it was quite a bargain.

I was making my way home a delighted man, having coveted a stylish looking tie. The euphoria was insurmountable. That is, when I finally arrived home and took out the latest addition to my wardrobe again to have a closer look. All by myself in my room, without the glitz of a shopping mall, I realize my grey tie look ominously like a silver tie. And how I begin to hate myself for it. It’ll be one of those ‘why did I bought this?’ moments.

It does say ‘grey’ on the tag but it could easily pass as silver. Which means it is not the medium to dark shade that I was supposed to look for. Which means, my efforts were ruined. Well, maybe ‘ruined’ is a bit strong. I mean, it is a Raoul tie. Couldn’t be that bad, could it?. It just means I need to find a darker shade grey tie next time. Now, how hard could that be?

And while at it, I could probably scout for my other three ties. Because, truth is, there’s no such thing as a tie for every occasion. Sorry, there’s just isn’t. The good news, however, is that a man can survive on three ties alone. A dark stripe, a bright solid, and a subtle pattern like the ones shown here are versatile and classic, and between them you’re ready for whatever life throws your way.

And a grey one (among others e.g. Donald Trump's gold) would compliment the three.

From left: Ties by Brooks Brothers, Hickey Freeman, DKNY

Oh, just so you know, I did manage to get myself a new Himalaya facial wash in the end. I told you retail therapy is evil. See what I mean?

Bring Out The Gray, Will Welch, GQ August 2008
Esquire's $5000 Wardrobe

Thursday, August 07, 2008

What Everyone Will Be Talking About: Movies

This is hard to believe but Penélope Cruz has become one hell of an actress. Even in English. See her (naked!) alongside Ben Kingsley in Elegy, a surprise bit of Oscar bait that mines male commitment phobia. Then watch her (kissing Scarlett Johansson!) in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which thankfully, is more Match Point than Scoop.

-Mickey Rapkin and Kevin Sintumuang, GQ August 2008-

"It's really the least sexy thing you can ever imagine!"

-Scarlett Johansson on that kiss-

You're Not Hot

Now, here’s a hypothetical question.

Let’s say, you want to piss off someone, who would it rather be? A US Senator or a 20-something blonde socialite? And you may answer, ‘Why would I want to piss off a 20-something blonde socialite?’ Exactly. But that's what John McCain did.

You should notice flashes of Brit and Paris before Obama’s face came up and it is the McCain camp’s strategy to liken Barrack as a celebrity akin to those two. ‘It’s beyond dispute that (Obama) has become the biggest celebrity in the world. But do the American people really want to elect the biggest celebrity in the world?’ asked Steve Schmidt, McCain campaign strategist.

And, (surprise, surprise) someone did not take this lightly. But you know what? It wasn’t Barrack.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

(Here's a direct link if the video won't just fuckin' appear)

I think we all can learn a lesson here. To mess with a US presidency candidate is one thing, but don’t you even dare crossing paths with a billionaire heiress. Especially the one with a pet Chihuahua.

Monday, August 04, 2008

But I'm Still Not Calling You JT

Quality time with my mother usually involves spending time together in the living room watching the TV, apart from the occasional trips to the movie theatres. And she’s the one holding the remote during these important family moments. Which means, if there’s no Jennifer Lopez movies on either HBO, Cinemax or Star Movies (which would offer me some form of entertainment), she’d flicked on to the Asian Food Channel. And, as of luck would have had it that day, Sugar was not on and neither was Michael Smith. So, I had no choice but to endure the Hallmark channel as she pressed the numbers 702.

But, in truth, it is not that bad, really. I mean, that Doc Martin can be quite amusing at times. And, wait a minute, actually, it can really be that bad. But Hallmark just had to pull out its trump card on me that day. They just had to do their worst.

Oprah was on.

And my mother was more than happy to settle on that. Oh the things a son must do for sacrifice.

However, surprisingly (and I really do hope this does not turn out to be a trend), I rather enjoyed this particular show, as I had the chance to see this:

This performance was so good it gave me goose bumps. I mean, I did not even notice Scarlett Johansson wasn’t even there.

I honestly cannot believe that I am writing about Justin Timberlake again. I used to have so much beef about him. For some reason I could not shake off his former N’Sync image. To me, he’s still that ginger haired teeny bopper doing his Bye Bye Bye routine. And, somehow, managed to bed Britney, then Cameron and now Jessica. Not to mention sharing the pool with Scarlett. I was so envious of him that I fucking hate him! And now, he came up with this. For which I cannot lavish enough praise upon. Suddenly, I no longer see the boy band. Suddenly, I see Justin Timberlake as one seriously cool guy.

And now, I no longer hate him for snogging all those women. Well, bravo. I mean, the closest I ever got (and the rest of the male population) to seeing Britney’s private parts is through those famed pictures. Although I may have to thank Paris for that. She might have convinced Brit with that whole ‘breeze’ thing. Nice going, Paris. Seriously. But back to Justin.

And, may I add, the only person I know who can successfully pull off that half-beard look. I tried to imitate but I only managed once, by accident, when I forgot to shave one day. And it only lasted for an evening. The next morning, I began to look like a homeless person.

And one more thing about Justin is how incredibly funny the guy really is. I know The Love Guru has been receiving awful reviews but the moment I saw the trailer, I can’t get enough of his Quebec Pizza joke. Y’know? Like in the porno? And that was just that beginning. He soon followed it up by hosting the ESPY Awards and he suddenly became a world of his own. I know chances are he was not involved in any of the writing. Okay, possibly a bit. His last name is not DeGeneres. But, then again, I could not recall any pop stars who can pull off a comedic performance so well as such as he did. Could you?

He’s funny, he was, is and probably will always be dating Hollywood’s best looking babes and all the while selling millions of records. And don’t forget that half-beard.

It seems, at long last, I have to admit that Justin Timberlake has earned a respectable notch in my book. You are the man, Justin. But I still think Bringing Sexy Back is a stupid song.

Friday, August 01, 2008

A Change Of Style: Malaysia ala Arsenal

When Man United finally released a club statement saying they would not be coming to Malaysia for the friendly match following the Asian Cup furore between FAM and AFC, sometime late July last year, football fans throughout the country cried foul and branded the dispute ‘stupid’ as in the end, it was football who were the ultimate losers.

Few, if any, would have noticed, but it could have turned out to be a blessing in disguise after all.

One year later, at the Shah Alam Stadium, Malaysia was to take on Chelsea and fans were coming in droves. And I don’t think they were mainly consist of Chelsea fans. Well, obviously some do came to support the national team but I looked around and some of them were wearing Barcelona, Man United shirts and one even wore an England strip with the name ‘Rooney’ at the back. I think, coming to see Luiz Felipe Scolari and one of the finalists of last season’s Champion’s League is one attraction, but some quarters were there just to witness world-class football. Period. More so it has been quite a custom in recent years to have some fancy football team coming to our shores for a warm-up game before their actual season starts in Europe or a summer tournament and with last year’s dispute which left Man United unable to come and appease their fans, that hunger and anticipation never went fulfilled and you know when temptations are left unsatisfied. Suppress that for a year and the result is a near capacity Shah Alam Stadium. There were at least 50 000 football crazy fans present and Steve Darby correctly put it ‘This is what Shah Alam should be’. Because, honestly speaking, rarely has Shah Alam experience such a crowd, even when Selangor were doing well.

A huge crowd? That’s it? That’s your blessing in disguise? Well, I haven’t finished yet. The huge turnout was only the first part. The second part was the football match itself.

Chelsea, one of the elite teams in Europe against Malaysia, a team ranked 166th in the current FIFA rankings. Quite simply, it was a David vs Goliath match. What’s more, Chelsea thrashed their previous two opponents, Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals and Chengdu Blades 4-0 and 7-0 respectively. Certainly the omen did not look good for Malaysia. The coach promised a fighting display but we all heard that before. Usually a smokescreen for the inevitable.

However, the inevitable did not happen.

Malaysia, quite remarkably, played surprisingly well. And there was at least 50 000 people who bear witness to that. Probably millions more after Wednesday’s delayed telecast.

Finally, after years of frustration, the Malaysian national team came onto the field and turned on the style. And they did it, in the most acrimonious fashion yet. On home soil, against a team led by the England captain and in front of more than 50 000 local fans.

Sure the team lost and Chelsea only viewed it as a ‘match training’ but when you’re ranked 166th in the world, coming head to head even against Scott Sinclair’s explosive pace is a challenge in its own right. It did not matter Chelsea was not taking it seriously. Point is, Malaysia did and it showed.

No more evident were the long balls we were so accustomed to when the national team takes on foreign opposition. Balls were played out of defence. Attacks were coordinated through a series one-twos and short passes to take advantage of off the ball runs. Quite frankly, they were similar to Chelsea’s way of play. But of course, they are stronger, quicker and more technically gifted.

Even so, looking back at the result, a 2-0 loss is quite commendable. ‘2-0 is a football score. While 7-0 is not,’ pointed out Steve Darby. And those two goals were legitimately conceded. It was not a result of stupid or individual mistakes. They were not from corners, penalties, free kicks or own goals. The first one needed a pinpoint through pass from Joe Cole to release Anelka while the second came from a cleverly disguised shot from Lampard to feed Ashley Cole right in front of the keeper. Chelsea was made to work for them. Apart from that Mohd Helmi had blocked a shot well from a rampaging Michael Essien into the penalty area and took care of that volley from Deco. On the other end, Petr Cech was not left alone scratching his buttocks and was made to work on a couple of occasions. Including inside three minutes when Amirulhadi Zainal came bursting through only to drive his shot millimetres wide of the right post. Overall, despite Chelsea enjoying the bigger share of possession, Malaysia gave a good run for their money. As the statistics would show, each team had 10 attempts on goal. Chelsea had 6 on target while Malaysia had 4. Again, not bad. I even think that’s even better than some Premier League teams could manage.

Which now begs the question of how, by the power greyskull, did we manage to achieve that? How did we get the nerve and audacity of not just holding the world stars of Chelsea at bay but also trying to beat them at their own game of carefully constructed build-up play? Where did that composure, finesse and overall confidence come from? And almost successfully pulling it off? I’ll tell you one thing. It is not something coincidental. There’s a reason behind this change of philosophy. And akin to every football team who had experience such a transformation, credit can only be due to the head coach. As in this case, will the real B. Sathianathan please stand up?

Witnessing, then and there, how Malaysia put on a brave fight against the mighty Blues, it has become apparent that the Merdeka Tournament victory was no fluke at all. Far from it. It was rightfully earned. I would not lie to you that when Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah personally appointed him as the new head coach of the senior team right after the victory ceremony, I was one of the skeptics doubting his abilities.

Surely enough, the World Cup Qualifiers did not present any new surprises. Malaysia never stood a chance against the likes of Bahrain. And when the 2007 SEA Games came along, a priority tournament, we managed to get 1 win, 1 draw and 1 loss in the group stages which, inevitably, prevented us from reaching the semi-final stages for the first time since 1999. It was the same old story for Malaysia.

But as any frustrated and arrogant Malaysian football fan, I never actually saw those matches. Nor did I give much care. I only saw the results and dismissively disregard them just as much. And that is not how you assess a football team. Not even by watching them play on the telly. No. As that only gives you half the story. You do it just as how Sven-Goran Eriksson does it. By attending the matches yourself and seeing the action live on the pitch. And I am pleased to say that I was one of the thousands of people in Shah Alam that day who had their eyes opened of what’s really been going on with our national team. The enterprising play was uncanny.

Which again brings us the question. How did B. Sathianathan achieve what other previous national coaches have failed to do? That is, improving the national team and most importantly introducing a new style of play, which may well be offer something solid to fall back on in future development. And I think I know the answer.

Before the nation celebrated its emphatic victory in the Merdeka Tournament, before B. Sathinathan became a household name, before he became the coach of the Under 23 side, he was a coach for the Arsenal Soccer School Malaysia. Which means, at one point in time, he was working with a guidebook from the Emirates hierarchy that would include personal insights from Arsene Wenger himself on how to make your players play as he makes Fabregas & Co play. I knew there was something oddly familiar about that performance in Shah Alam. I was right about it being a little BPL-ly.

So, Malaysia following the Arsenal blueprint. Is it the right thing? Well, it should be. Too long now has the national team has been playing ugly football and you can only get way with it by winning something just like the Greeks did with Euro 04. Malaysia has not and that makes it rubbish. At least now we know how to play sexy football. And that, we can have no complaints. Kind of like Arsenal fans. And, kind of the Arsenal team, we’d probably win nothing either.