Brought to you by asap and The Associated Press, The Slug tastes pop culture for you — just in case it's been poisoned. E-mail us at theslug@ap.org.


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Friday, December 29, 2006

Our Favoritest Things in 2006

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Our long national nightmare is almost over! The year-end lists that plague this time of year will be null and void at the stroke of midnight Sunday. So before we take off for a three-day weekend full of speculating and drinking, here's, um, yet another year-end list! We skipped the crap and just went for our favoritiest pop culture nuggets from 2006. If you disagree or think there was something better, we probably didn't see it — or you're just wrong.

Favoritest Viral Video: Reverend Alecia. She simply spun, spun, spun around on a gold lamé-covered office chair to "give praise to the name of the Lord," but there was something so hilariously beautiful about it. And just when you thought you've had enough, she spins via split-screen.

Favoritest Song: "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley. Sure, it's played out now, but we remember when, we remember, we remember at the beginning of the year when the infectious beat and repetitious lyrics shook our tush. While OutKast was busy making a movie, Gnarls Barkley's Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo filled the genre-spanning void with the bestest ditty of 2006.

Favoritest Commercial: Little Richard for Geico. Usually we cringe at celebrities shilling in ads. (Case in point: Alan Thicke offering a "second honeymoon" at the Tahiti Village in Las Vegas. Oh, brother.) But Little Richard steals the show while hawking car insurance with the best description of Thanksgiving dinner ever. Whooo!!!

Favoritest Reality TV Show: "Survivor: Cook Islands." It started with a scandal and could've gone horribly wrong. Instead, viewers of this aging reality show were treated to a season of interesting twists that had nothing to do with that racial divide. By season's end, we were left with a dominating multicultural alliance who concluded the potentially viscous game with more integrity than any previous season.

Favoriest Movie: "Borat" and "The Queen." We know. We know. We're lame for the tie, but we couldn't pick just one. Surprisingly, we sorta loved both for the same reason. These scathing looks at two very different cultures successfully undulated between real and fake, fact and fiction. "Borat" did it for laughs. "The Queen" did it for chills. And we're better for watching both.

Favoritest Roller Coaster: Tatsu. Opened in April, this soaring Japanese-themed coaster, which suspends riders horizontally, whirls 170-feet above Six Flags Magic Mountain's other rides and — gulp! — the ground. When we visited Los Angeles in October, we rode in the front and truly felt like Superman.

Favoritest Game Show: "The Price is Right." You can keep "Deal or No Deal," "1 vs. 100," "Identity" and all those other prime-time game shows. They're boring and, frankly, seem phony. We'll take the crazy everyday men and women who compose "The Price is Right" audience any day of the week. And although Bob Barker announced he's retiring next year, we think he's still got it.

Favoritest Scandal: Clay Aiken's hand. When the "American Idol" runner-up put his hand over Kelly Ripa's mouth on "Live with Regis and Kelly," it ignited a firestorm across daytime television. We're surprised it didn't cause any havoc in Harmony on "Passions."

Favoritest TV Show: "Heroes." While "Lost" was busy dragging out its tiresome mysteries — there, we said it — this superhero drama moved forward with superhuman speed, improving upon a very ehhhh first episode and veering clear of copying "X-Men" by focusing intriguing they-could-be-real characters. We can't wait until 2007 to find out if we're on the list!   

Favoritest Video Game: "Loco Roco." Our favorite game this year wasn't on Wii or PlayStation 3. It was on — gasp! — the PlayStation Portable. With spirited graphics, addictive soundtrack and innovate gameplay, we think this gelatinous puzzle game was more vanguard than anything on those next-generation consoles.

Favoritest Blog: Adrants. We love this marketing and advertising blog for exposing bizarre commercials, flogs and silly P.R. campaigns. In a year when the line between entertainment and advertisement became even thinner, Adrants was there to point its finger and giggle. (And no, we didn't pick Adrants because they linked to our HeadOn post.)

Favoritest asap Story We Did: Waiting for Cats. This past year, we had the opportunity to create stories about amazing people (Mr. T, Bazooka Joe), amazing animals (Lassie, mascots), amazing places (Costa Rica, Flea World) and amazing things ("Second Life," Mardi Gras), but our favoritest was simply tailing a group of talented teenagers who were putting on an amateur production of "Cats."

Welcome to the Toy Department

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Time for one last look at an upcoming midseason show before 2007! If you count the AH-64 Apache Longbow or Dragon Skin body armor among things that are cool, you should check out Discovery's "FutureWeapons." Unlike sister show "MythBusters," the testosterone-fueld eye candy here isn't tenuously wrapped in a "Mr. Wizard"-like science lesson.

Nah, all baldheaded host and former Navy SEAL Richard "Mack" Machowicz does is excitedly explain what advanced weaponry is about to be detonated, fired, blasted, ignited, exploded or imploded. Then cut to the detonation, firing, blast, ignition, explosion or implosion. It's really that simple and fun.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Reviewing the Trailers of 2007's Comic Adaptations

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"Transformers." The robots in disguise are, well, not in disguise in this trailer. They're tromping around our planet, smushing scenery and forcing Shia LaBeouf stare up in awe. But will they talk like in the cartoon or just beat the hell out of each other? Oh, who cares! We haven't been this excited for computer-generated creatures since "Jurassic Park." You know, the first one.

"Spider-Man 3." Yes, we know this trailer has been out for awhile, but we haven't said anything about Spidey on The Slug since he and Topher Grace were in our neighborhood last summer. The third installment looks like it'll be just as good as the first two. We just have no idea what it'll be about. Black goo? Revenge? Marriage? Venom? Looks like director Sam Raimi is trying to cover a lot of ground. Hope it works!   

"Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer." Instead of the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am editing of most blockbuster sneak peeks, the trailer for this sequel focuses on one chase sequence between the Human Torch and the Silver Surfer, the conflicted intergalactic badboy whom the action will revolve around this time. We loved us some Silver Surfer in the '80s, but this guy looks too much like the T-1000 from the '90s. Ehhhh.

"The Simpsons Movie." Here's another trailer that leaves us puzzled as to just what the movie will be about. Please tell us it won't have anything to do with Homer and Bart fixing the shingles on their roof — because that's the only glimpse you'll get of the yellow-skined characters in this quirky trailer that mocks three-dimensional animation. Luckily, Homer makes sitting through the clip worth it with his whiny delivery of this line: "This film is not yet rated."

"Real Housewives of Orange County" is Really Back

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We get it. Bravo's "The Real Housewives of Orange County" is supposed to be a reality TV version of "Desperate Housewives" peppered with notes of "The O.C." But after viewing the first four episodes of the second season, premiering Jan. 16, The Slug says this sugarcoated grapefruit of a guilty pleasure is neither. It's something entirely different, a quadruplet of convoluted gated community fairy tales that's fun to watch but not enriching in the least.

Four of the "housewives" — it's a stretch to call any of the spoiled dames that title — are back. And a new women is introduced. Her name is Tammy, and she lost her Courtyard by Marriott  of a mansion in her divorce. To make matters worse, her house flooded, her daughter is dating a pitbull breeder and her ex has married a young Thai woman. Gasp! We just can't look away!

"Real Housewives" is at its best when the women and their families drop their guards in front of the camera. Moments such as Vicki covertly wearing a skimpy bikini and drinking beer like "high-class white trash" at Lake Havasu, Jeana's sons getting into a heated argument over a golf cart and Jo confronting trophy-wife-to-be Lauri at the local home and housewares expo about dating her ex-fiance incite both cringes and giggles at just how ridiculous yet entertaining these out-of-touch folks can be. Or maybe we're just jealous.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Gay, Straight or Are You Serious?!

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We're continuing our preview of midseason shows this week. First on our list is Lifetime's "Gay, Straight or Taken," which premieres Jan. 8. Sounds like a "Saturday Night Live" sketch, but this reality-dating show actually tests a woman's gaydar to figure out which of three men is gay, straight or has a significant other. (Wonder how Blanche Devereaux would do at this?!) If she chooses the straight single guy, the two win a trip. If she chooses either of the other two, they get the prize.

The show sorta sets gay rights back a few steps because, in the episode The Slug previewed, the lady used stereotypical stuff like what kind of swimsuits they wore and what kind of car they drove to decipher the dudes' inclinations — although maybe there's something to be gleaned from that, especially when the stereotypes aren't correct. We're not quite sure. However, we're 100-percent sure "Gay, Straight or Taken" will be a guilty pleasure to play along at home.

Is Santa a Metal Head?

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Hope you had a super holiday and got everything you wanted. (In case you were wondering, Santa Claus did bring us some houndstooth slip-ons. Not the exact ones we wanted, but we ain't choosy.) Speaking of the jolly guy, did you watch the "Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade" yesterday morning while shredding open gifts? At the end of the parade, St. Nick was shooting devil horns at the crowd. Oh my. Rock on, Santa.

Friday, December 22, 2006

What a Card!

122206cards (AP Photo/Derrik J. Lang)

Merry Christmas from The Slug! We're peacing out for the next few days. Check back next week as we'll continue to preview midseason shows. Enjoy the holidays. As our Christmas gift to you, we're gonna let you peep at some of our favorite holiday cards that we received from various networks, record labels, media outlets and public relations firms. Come inside and make yourself warm.

Continue reading "What a Card!" »

"Smokin' Aces" is a Hot Number

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Is "Smokin' Aces" even on your movie-watching radar? If you liked "Resovoir Dogs" or "Out of Sight," it totally should be. This loony action flick, which opens Jan. 26, stars Jeremy Piven as a mobster/magician with a $1 million contract on his life and a bunch of other folks (Ryan Reynolds, Ben Affleck, Ray Liotta, Alicia Keys, Common, Nestor Carbonell, Jason Bateman) as hitmen and/or FBI agents who are out to kill and/or rescue him. Even Matthew Fox from "Lost" shows up as a security guard.

The exposition takes a little long to explain and the ending is completely redonkulous, but the entire middle of "Smokin' Aces" is a flawless, mindless roller coaster ride to the penthouse of a cheesy Lake Tahoe casino where Piven's washed-up character is holed up. Check out director Joe Carnahan's blog for some cool "Smokin' Aces" posters that were rejected.

We Want Houndstooth Vans for Christmas

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The Slug recommended 12 gifts for each day of Christmas. Now we want something in return. Here's the deal: When we were in Malaysia earlier this year, we spotted some sharp-lookin' Vans slips-on with a black-and-white houndstooth pattern at a couple of stores in the Sungei Wang Mall. (Not even Ryan Cabrera has them. See above.)

Unfortch, they didn't have mens size 11. So we figured we'd just pick up at pair when we got back to the States, but these babies are nowhere to be seen. Macy*s. Journeys. Barneys. David Z. Yellow Rat Bastard. Dr. J's. Nowhere! We even sent a letter to Vans, but they haven't responded. Look, we don't want you to buy them for us. We got our own flow. Just e-mail us at theslug@ap.org and tell us where we can get a size 11. Then it will be the best Christmas ever.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

We Saw Mommy Kissing Dr. Ablow

122006ablow (AP Photo/HO/Warner Bros.)

Dr. Keith Ablow, Oprah's least annoying friend with his own show, just e-mailed The Slug some tips for dealing with family stress during the holidays. Oh, Dr. Ablow. Thank you. You shouldn't have! Because we know many of you will celebrate the holidays with families more like the Griswalds than the Waltons, The Slug presents Dr. Ablow's tips — with our sarcastic addenda in parentheses. You can catch Dr. Ablow's "Holiday Family Feuds" episode tomorrow. Check yo' local listings.

1. Call any family member you're in conflict with BEFORE the holiday and tell him or her that you're going to be really positive and make Christmas special. (In other words, lie like you've never lied before.) Suggest talking problems out AFTER the holiday, maybe even set a time. (Like next summer's family reunion.)

2. Keep your distance, if possible. (Depending on what the restraining order states.) That means heading to the kitchen if need be to avoid your rage building in the living room. (Once in the kitchen, wash away your personal rage with all the egg nog in the fridge.)

3.  Focus on loving your kids and theirs. (Meanwhile, blame the elders for everything.) Let the trouble spots recede behind your goodwill toward the youngest generation. (Don't hit them.) Buy special gifts for the children of the family members you traditionally have the most conflict with. (This will make the little brats like you more than everyone else.)