Monday, August 28, 2006

The Show Is Over the Sharktank Now, Sir

"CSI" is about to jump the shark as we speak...K-Fed's going to appear on the long-running but now-certain-to-be-cancelled CBS program....

Looks like the 28-year-old husband of singer Britney Spears will be shuffling over to the small screen, where he will appear in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation on CBS this fall, People magazine reported.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

From DCFUD - Beerfest on 1/8th Scale

sam Adamsss.JPG

Last night, several of your erstwhile DCFUD writers met at Murphy's in Woodley Park for a pint or three and good ole' fashioned pub grub. (mini-review - the Murphyburger rocks, the seafood bisque is dandy, and the meat pie was fine; avoid the overly spicy and greasy shellfish soup. Avoid musicians baffled by feedback coming through the sound system).

We were approached by a marketing rep from Sam Adams who asked if we'd like to sample a few of their beers. I think we said "Yes!" faster than Jennifer Lopez accepts a marriage proposal.

The rep poured us samples of the classic Boston Lager and their Light to get us started. A wise move, as none of us were drinking a Sam Adams' product beforehand, the small samples would get us prepared to the brands' general taste. She then poured us Type A and Type B - two potential beers that they'd release next year. "A" was a Honey Porter, and "B" was a Smoke Ale.

"A" was delicious, with ZAF summing it up that "(we) could get along nicely." It's a nice, smooth beer, not terribly heavy, and the honey notes add a softer touch. Amazingly, it doesn't taste sweet, but a little less acidic than the standard Sam's.

"B" was an alcoholic travesty. Comments from the table ranged from "it tastes like smoked ham" to "it tastes like smoked gouda" to "it tastes like they added that Liquid Smoke stuff." As a rule, beer should not be described as tasting like a barbecue sauce. The best we could say is that it would make an excellent marinade for the Thanksgiving turkey.

Fortunately, Murphy's Irish-centric beers and ciders drowned out the horrors of Sample B.

2609 24th Street NW
Washington DC 20008

Monday, August 21, 2006

"Hi, Pot? This is Kettle. You're Black!"

The Washington Post had an article this weekend regarding Michel Richard, one of the most renowned chefs in the world. It's a tale of his obsession with food and his upbringing in France, plus the limitations of illness and age. It's a good story, and the descriptions of the dishes he creates are enough to make any food lover hungrier than a carnivoire on Vegan Island.

Today, writer April Witt hosted an online chat about the article. For the most part, the questions were normal...until this one.

Rockville, Md: I think the article is disgusting. While plain folk are trying to figure out how to pay for basic utilities and gasoline, both of which are skyrocketing in costs, you are writing about some pie in the sky Rich Chef, who caters to even richer clientele. The idea of a $275 dinner is disgusting. Don't you think those people would be better off giving that money to Charity?

This is coming from Rockville, Maryland. Rockville is the economic core of one of the wealthiest counties in the country, Montgomery. Rockville is next to Potomac, where $10 million dollar homes might be outnumbered by $20 million dollar ones. Try finding a condo or a townhome in Rockville for less than 3/4 of a million dollars.

ANYBODY from Rockville complaining about price needs to get their head out of their ass.

If you're so altruistic, Rockville poster, then why do you live amongst the mansions? Why not live in much-more-affordable Germantown or Frederick, and donate YOUR savings on housing and taxes to the poor? Or, better yet, why not move into Southeast D.C. where it's even cheaper, and you can donate your money to your new neighbors? Why do you even bother to drive, when you could easily ride a bike to work and use that extra cash to donate to the poor?

I think we all already know the answer to those questions.

A meal at Citronelle is not a daily experience. Few can afford to buy a meal that costs as much as a nice iPod every day. It's a once-a-year kind of place for some, or once-a-lifetime for many. For the rare few who can eat there regularly, congratulations on having some cash.

To her credit, Ms. Witt doesn't stoop to that level. Her response:

April Witt: I can certainly understand your response. I don't spend $275 for dinners. The vast majority of Americans can't and don't. I've spent much more of my career writing about poverty, and the suffering of the poor, than I have chronicling the lifestyles of the rich and famous. That said, one of the things that I like best about being a journalist is the opportunity to take readers places they would never go except vicariously through the magic of reading. I don't judge the people or places I go. I just try to understand them so I can accurately show them to readers. I make no apologies for that.

If *I* had the chance, my response would be:

Ray Bradley - You live in Rockville, so, you can't be too bad off. You're obviously sending this question through a computer, so you either own one or work at a job where you use one. Those connote a certain level of wealth. Knowing that wealth or taste, as with all things, are comparable commodities, rather than looking at Citronelle's regular diners with a sense of haughty disdain, try looking at yourself through the eyes of someone less fortunate. To borrow your words, "While plain folk are trying to figure out how to pay for basic utilities and gasoline, both of which are skyrocketing in costs, you are living in one of the richest, safest counties in the region, with plenty of recreational choices, fine communities and wonderful schools. The idea of a $25 dinner at Chili's is disgusting when people are starving."

Simply stop looking at what you don't have and what you do. And savor your next meal, whether it be $270 at Citronelle, $25 at Chili's or $2.50 at 7-11, because no matter what you eat, it's still more than some people will have today. So, rather than gnash our teeth and complain ourselves into inaction over all the worlds' ills, I'm going to avoid guilt, and eat what, and where, I like, and give thanks that I am able to do so.

Snakes on a Plane - Reviewed by the Five Paragraph Bitter Film Critic

After a year of hype and the kind of internet buzz only nude photos of Anna Kournikova in 1999 could produce, Snakes on a Plane finally came out. The Five Paragraph Bitter Film critic was there, and, this film has made the Five Paragraph Bitter Film Critic wonder where his priorities really lie.

Why? Because I knew, going into it, that this movie would suck. The plot is thinner than Nicole Ritchie, has more holes than the US border with Mexico and makes as much sense as change from a penny. The cast, though, does as much as can be done with such a plot. I mean, when the plot is the title of the film, what can you expect?

To add insult to intellectual injury, I am seeing this movie before seeing such well-made and well-regarded films like The Illusionist, Little Miss Sunshine or Scoop. Or, for that matter, even My Super Ex-Girlfriend.

The cast, outside of Samuel L. Jackson, is made up of That Actors. Like Julianna Margulies, you know, That Actor who played Nurse Carol Hathaway on "E.R." back in the Clooney days. And Rachel Blanchard, That Actor who played Cher on the TV version of "Clueless." There's Todd Louiso, That Actor from "High Fidelity." Can't forget Lin Shaye, That Actor who played Magda in "There's Something About Mary." Of course, the movie also features the ultimate comedic force, That Actor who played Champ Kind, inventor of the Whammy!, David Koechner. For the record, there's more B's in that cast list than my high school report card.

Still, the movie is just silly fun. It's not to be taken seriously, and its implausibility makes it that much more fun. Most of the snakes are simply CGI, and not nearly as scary as the real hissing cobra Indiana Jones faced in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Some of the special effects are a little suspect, but, when Samuel L. drops the already-famous line about wanting these motha-f*ckin' snakes off this motha-f*ckin' plane, it's all somehow worth it, and makes those lil' art-house dramas look like the pretentious pieces of snake crap they really are.

9 out of 16 Whammies! Why 9? Why 16? Well, I figure that I saw some pretty hot actresses, and a set of real breasts exposed in this movie, so that's good. And Sam Jackson's a hoot. And it's got Champ Kind. And it's fun. So, by the power vested by me using the New Math, that's worth 9 Whammies! It's also got the worst dialogue I've heard in a film, and considering I've seen Robot Jox, that's got to be worth 7 Non-Whammies!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I made the McPaper (and I use the term lovingly)

My delightful roommate Jayme works for the USAToday as an editor in the Life section. Having a roommate with such a gig allows for some cool hookups - advance copies of TV shows, movie merch, juicy tidbits on various celebs, unpublished pictures of baby pandas. Sometimes I get to assist, not as a real editor or anything, but by giving feedback, proofreading and just by being another set of eyes and ears.

She approached me recently with a request for some Lost-related questions. One of their reporters was going to have a question-and-answer session with the cast, and the paper wanted to have some questions from fans. Sadly, they didn't receive that many good questions, and I'd suspect that many of the ones they received would mirror this sentiment - "Which cast member do you think is the hottest?"
There's only so many times you can ask, or be asked, that question.

So, I dutifully wrote up about 10 or so questions for a few members of the cast, Jorge Garcia (Hurley), Matthew Fox (Jack), Daniel Dae Kim (Jin), Josh Holloway (Sawyer) and Evangeline Lilly (Kate). I figured that by submitting a few, it would help give the writer some more material, and have something to say to each cast member, rather than focusing all on, say, Holloway or Lilly, leaving poor Terry O'Quinn (Locke) looking lonely and unwanted in the corner.

Here's my question, from USAToday:

Q: Your character came this close to hooking up with Cynthia Watros last season. Did you lose an on-set bet that she got killed off before the big romantic scene?— Ray Bradley

A: "That romance was fun. It meant a lot to me because a guy my size usually doesn't get a love interest in a prime time show. It was a special thing as far as breaking categories. I'm curious how this tragedy may effect him — and finding out that Michael was the cause. There may be some kind of change in him — perhaps more stoic. Or maybe vengeful."

I like how Jorge Garcia answered that question. It appears that he's thought that through, and appreciated being considered for a romantic story arc.

Still, I kinda wished the paper used my favorite questions...

Daniel Dae Kim:
1) How many people figure that you can't speak English, and then are stunned that you're from Pennsylvania? How hard was it to relearn so much of the Korean language?

2) My roommate has a wicked crush on you. Not a question, but, more a comment really.

Evangeline Lilly:

2) You're still pretty new to the acting world, yet you seem to be handling fame a lot better than others - so far, you've kept out of the scandalous tabloids and avoided some of the scuffles with the law other stars have. Is this from a good upbringing or are you just better at not getting caught?

3) I have a wicked crush on you. Not a question, but more of a comment, really.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

From DCFUD - Bobby Van's


Back when the Restaurant Week lineup was announced in July, I scanned the list and saw that Bobby Van's was one of the participants. I quickly made reservations, given their sterling reputation in New York. I used to work with a young lady from Massachusetts who summered in the Hamptons, and she raved about Bobby Van's Bridgehampton location. Now, I'm just a relatively middle class guy from Maryland. I'm guessing that "summered" is rich person code for "sunbathed in an expensive resort and did nothing but revel in luxury." I've never "summered" in my life. I've "weeked" - well, if you consider Ocean City's or Dewey's crowded beaches, all-you-can-eat buffets and sexually-suggestive t-shirt stands luxurious.

In my previous Restaurant Week entry, an anonymous commenter told me I made a mistake in selecting Bobby Van's for dining, saying that they catered only to the VIP crowd. I took the comments seriously - perhaps this anonymous person is a former employee, wrongfully terminated, or a diner who received shoddy service when they dared pay for their meal with a Discover card instead of an AmEx Titanium Card. Or, conversely, since the commenter chose to remain anonymous, perhaps it was a former employee rightfully terminated with an axe to grind, or somebody associated with a competing restaurant, hoping for a good plug. In the end, I chose to keep my reservation, and had four friends join me.

Let me assure you of this - a full 15 hours after dining there last night, I can still taste the perfectly-prepared medium rare Petite Fillet Mignon, accompanied by slightly-smoky mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. The Caesar salad, and the rich chocolate cake and incredible New York cheesecake rounded out the courses, and each bite was fantastic. I had feared that a "Petite" filet would be small 5 or 6-ounce serving, but our steaks were closer to 12 ounces. Even the well-done filets came out thoroughly cooked, and not butterfly-chopped like in other establishments. Our server was professional, friendly, and made a distinct point to make us aware of the Restaurant Week courses on a separate sheet from the regular menu. One of their chefs, Eric, made a friendly tour of the dining room, making sure everybody was enjoying themselves. The table adjacent to ours had a bit more menu diversity than my steak-obsessed crowd. Somebody there had the Crabcakes (the recipe is on their website) and another had the Andouille Sausage and Pulled Chicken Rigatoni, both of whom raved about the quality.

For a high-end steakhouse, the atmosphere was professional, yet relaxed. It's classy, but not stuffy - there's no dresscode, and patrons wore suits or jeans in nearly equal numbers. Valet service is a manageable $6. The anonymous commenter's fears couldn't have been more dispelled - if not for a four-course tasting menu at Palena in May, last night was the best meal I've had in D.C. all year. Everything was so tastefully done that I have already planned a September dinner there, where their acclaimed "Porterhouse For Two" sounds less like a luxury and more like a rite of passage. I am so impressed by Bobby Van's strong Restaurant Week showing that I practically walked out singing The Happenings' classic tune "See You In September."

Bobby Van's
809 15th Street, NW
Phone: (202) 589-0060

Monday, August 07, 2006

Talladega Nights - Reviewed by the Five Paragraph Bitter Film Critic

There are two types of people in this world - those who like Jack Black a lot, and those who hate Jack Black a lot. Same thing goes for Will Ferrell - many love him, and others can't stand him. If there was a Venn diagram of the two stars' fans, I'm sure there would be many overlapping fans on both sides of the love/hate coin. I was firmly in the hater's camp of Will Ferrell back in the mid-90s. I thought his work on Saturday Night Live was pretty...well, not funny. Sure, the Cheerleader bit was OK once in a while, but they went to that well *WAY* too often. My opinion began to change when Jim Carrey hosted the show - you know, the episode where even the last skit didn't suck - Carrey was a meth-addicted weight loss specialist, and Ferrell was using Carrey's program to lose weight. Not only did he lose weight, but he felt possessed by the Devil, and proceeded to throw a shout-out to the classic movie Scanners.

I will humbly submit that there are two Will Ferrells. The lousy SNL Will Ferrell who came up big once or twice a season, and the movie Will Ferrell. ((side note - Talk all you want about more cowbell, but that scene was CLEARLY Christopher Walken's)). The Movie Will Ferrell has a knack of playing lovable goofballs who aren't quite as bright as the world around them, and will do pretty much anything for a laugh. His characters have a certain warmth, and even a realism - as though a six-foot tall elf really *could* walk through New York.

This movie is definitely the Movie Will Ferrell in grand form. His character, Ricky Bobby, comes from a broken home to NASCAR superstardom. His best friend on-and-off track is Cal Naughton, played brilliantly by John C. Reilly, and together, they form NASCAR's most feared 1 - 2 punch. His "smokin' hot wife" Carley (Leslie Bibb, reappearing from obscurity) and sons Walker (Houston Tumlin) and Texas Ranger (Grayson Russell) nearly complete Ricky's comfortable, sponsor-aided life. Until Sacha Baron Cohen shows up as conniving French driver Jean Gerard, bringing jazz, homosexuality and Andy Richter into Ricky Bobby's country-fried world.

As with Anchorman, the laughs are spread out through the cast - it's not just the Will Ferrell show. Reilly shines in the buddy role he perfected in Boogie Nights. Green Mile star Michael Clarke Duncan plays Ricky's crew chief Luscious, leading Anchorman vet David Koechner (inventor of the Whammy!) and Upright Citizens Brigade alum Ian Roberts. Ricky Bobby's children both have shocking, hilarious lines that just about broke the audience up in coughing fits - until grandma Lucy (Best in Show's Jane Lynch) knocks some manners into them - and they're still funny after that. And Leslie Bibb is smokin' hot. Still, as Steve Carell's Brick Tamland ended up being the funniest character in Anchorman, Gary Cole's turn as Reese Bobby, Ricky's deadbeat dad, and Sacha Cohen's Jean Girard do the same here. Bill Lumburgh absolutely kills as Ricky's hard-livin', hard drinkin' speed freak pappy, and the former Ali G gives Girard a bit of dignity - well, at least as much dignity as can be summoned when playing a gay French NASCAR driver married to Andy Richter.

There is a rather large logistical jump in the movie where Carl betrays Ricky out of nowhere, and it left the audience scratching it's collective head. At that point, the movie loses some momentum, and it takes a while to get back up to speed. It's not quite as bad as Wedding Crashers' second-half collapse, but, it's tangible. I wonder if the Director's Cut DVD release (oh, come on, you know it's coming) addresses this flaw. Still, the movie is an honest-to-God hoot, a knee-slapper, and several other Southern terms meaning funnier-than-hell. I dare say, this might even be a hootenanny.

17 out of a possible 20 Whammies! 11 Whammies! were awarded to the above-mentioned cast - one Whammy! each. Another Whammy! is given to Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is pretty natural in front of a camera. A special Whammy! is given to Amy Adams, who could challenge Isla Fisher from Wedding Crashers for "hot redhead supremacy." Four more Whammies! were given to the hilarious out takes at the end of the film. Non-Whammies! were given to Molly Shannon, who is spectacularly unfunny in a completely unneeded subplot, and the criminal underutilization of David Koetchner and Ian Roberts.

That crying you just heard...

...was Mel Gibson learning that his Hollywood career is, effectively, over.

As no doubt everybody in the solar system knows by now, courtesy of the breathless reporting by every entertainment rag, TV show and wanna-be insider, Mel Gibson made a royal ass of himself last weekend at a traffic stop. Drunk driving and belligerent, sexist, and made anti-Semitic remarks. Pretty much hit the Obnoxious Quartet there, Mel. One more comment, like, say, how you hate black people, and you would have gotten the 5 Team Parlay.

Mel has since sobered up, asked for forgiveness, and pledged to change. I'm willing to give the cat a break - after all, he is admitting to being an alcoholic, and Lord knows booze can mess anybody up.

However, Hollywood is undecided over a Gibson Resurrection, no matter how well The Passion of the Christ did. While some folks have gone apoplectic over his remarks, others are hoping he gets the help he needs. Legendary actress Jodie Foster came to Mel's defense this weekend, having gotten to know him while filming "Maverick." She attributes his weakness not to a hatred of Jews, but on alcohol.

The death knell, though, comes courtesy of Rob Schneider, star of the Deuce Bigalow franchise.

"I, Rob Schneider, a 1/2 Jew, pledge from this day forward to never work with Mel Gibson, actor-director-producer and anti-Semite."

— A full-page ad in Variety, Aug. 3.

Strong words from The Hot Chick.

I'm guessing that Mel will be gnashing his teeth knowing he won't ever be considered for a part in "The Animal 2."

The incredible irony of this whole thing is that two weeks ago, just about every woman on the planet would have LOVED for Mel Gibson to call her "sugar tits."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Who's the Hottie?

When Michael Jackson wrote "Smooth Criminal," he didn't have this chick in mind.

from WBAL in Baltimore.

WESTLAKE, Ohio -- Maybe she should have paid better attention to her server.

Last week, a waitress at the Moosehead Saloon in Westlake, Ohio, asked a woman to show proof of age after the customer ordered a drink. When the waitress looked at the ID, she realized the customer's ID was actually her own license, police said.

The waitress, a 22-year-old Lakewood, Ohio, woman, had reported her wallet stolen from a bar on July 9. Her driver's license and credit card were in the wallet. The credit card had already been used for $1,000 in illicit purchases, police said.

As the waitress called police, the woman apparently got suspicious and took off, according to police. She was identified by a friend as Maria Bergan, 23.

Bergan was arrested at her home Saturday night and remains in the Westlake City Jail. She has been charged with identity theft and receiving stolen property.

Police Captain Guy Turner said the odds of something like that happening defy calculation.