Knee-jerk review: "The Hurt Locker"

1. Can it be a knee-jerk review if we saw it three weeks ago? Probably not.
2. We don't get the title, either.
3. It's the best movie we've seen so far this year. It's Oscar caliber, no question.
4. Director Kathryn Bigelow still has the goods and we're glad to see her back. Point Break and Strange Days are both way underrated.
5. Thanks for the great cameos, Guy Pearce, David Morse, and Ralph Fiennes.
6. Best sequence: the sniper shootout. Who'll be the first one to zero in from a mile out with 50-caliber rifles.
7. It's not without its familiar cliches, like the officer with no real idea what combat is like. You can guess what happens to him.
8. And truth be told, the whole thing with the fearless soldier who's probably a little crazy and probably a lot addicted to the adrenaline rush of war... that's familiar too. But sometimes meat and potatoes are okay if they're this tasty.
9. Packed full of sweaty suspense. As Roger Ebert noted, usually Hollywood gets a kick out of blowing stuff up (cough-Michael Bay-cough), but here you're desperately hoping nothing does blow up.
10. We remain very dubious of Evangeline Lilly's thespian ability.
11. "If he's not an insurgent, he is now."
12. A star-making turn for Jeremy Renner. Good for him.
13. The first great Iraq war movie. Go see it.

Essential dialogue for "Hell's Kitchen"

1. "This risotto is the worst I've ever tasted!"
2. "You donkey."
3. "It's raw!"
4. "Jean-Phillipe, please open Hell's Kitchen."
5. "Yes, chef!"
6. "Shut it down!"
7. "Why should you stay in Hell's Kitchen?"
8. "I'm not here to make friends."
9. "An hour into dinner service and the blue team is still struggling with the appetizers, while the red team is already serving the main course."
10. "Who have you selected for elimination and why?"
11. "Where's my sea bass?"
12. [BLEEP]

The New Rules for Digital Gentleman

Wired magazine next month offers the "New Rules for Highly Evolved Humans," guidelines and rules of thumb for the digital world.

Our favorites, the ones by which we wish all would abide:
1. For marital peace, keep separate Netflix queues.
2. Turn off "Sent from my iPhone" signatures.
3. Ditch the headset.
4. Hunger and fatigue are not interesting status updates.
5. Ignore Facebook polls.
6. Give credit when repeating tweets or blog posts.
7. If you call drops, call back.
8. Provide subjects for all e-mails.
9. Back up your hard drive. Right now.
10. Never bcc anyone.
11. Ask for free tech support only from immediate family or significant others.
12. Avoid looking at other people's screens.

Musings on Michael Jackson

* As the Cheese Fry marinated in unwelcome wall-to-wall 24-hour news coverage of the death, the disposition of the remains, the possible child custody fight, the rehashing of his up-and-down career, and finally the absurd memorial service in a basketball arena, we couldn't help but notice that Jackson has not been relevant to popular music for almost 20 years. What would happen if Beyonce or Bruce Springsteen suddenly dropped dead? Would Larry King have gone on the same sort of self-serving journalistic jihad? Probably not because...

* ...As much as everyone discussed and praised Jackson's "genius" the truth is that we're mostly interested in his death because he's spent the last 20 years as a national punchline, the resident sideshow freak always doing something weird. We're gawking at him even in death.

* The best Jackson song is "Billie Jean." End of story. Followed by "Thriller."

* Joe Jackson is still a complete asshole, near as we can tell.

* Have you ever sobbed over the death of someone you never met? We haven't. These people on TV crying over Jackson's death seemed in worse shape than people who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina. How out of touch with reality can you get? And when was the last time you think any of them actually listened to a Jackson song?

* True, Jackson was a megastar at a time when the world as a lot smaller. Album sales meant everything. MTV united everyone. But when you see someone in his 20s like Justin Timberlake talking about how important Jackson was to him, it seems odd. The Cheese Fry is pushing 40 and almost was too young to truly experience the impact of the "Thriller" sensation in the early 1980s as it was happening. So how could these younger people be so affected by Jackson? Was he really still a sensation in the 1990s? We don't remember that to be the case. It all just feels like bull.

* Speaking of disingenuous hangers-on, how about all of those singers showing up for some face time on stage at the Jackson memorial service? What was that all about? Usher? Seriously? As acidic Hollywood blogger Nikki Finke so astutely noted, where were all of these "friends" of Jackson when the guy was suffering through all his years of legal and financial trouble? Their support sure could have helped. Guess they decided to publicly declare their love for Jackson only after his weirdness can no longer infect their petty careers.

* The most irritating of all was the "Reverend" Al Sharpton, who never met a camera he didn't like, eulogizing Jackson by claiming nothing was wrong with him. We don't have to trash the guy, but let's not insult the intelligence of, well, the entire planet. Any reasonable person could take one look at Jackson and see that he was tortured to no end by some serious mental problems. The plastic surgery, the bizarro need to be around kids, the pathological introversion. And now we're learning of a serious drug habit.

* Another interesting sociological curlicue in all of this is the inequitable way America treat s drug abuse. Wealthy Hollywood elite get addicted to prescription drugs, pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to fancy retreats that call themselves rehab clinics, and rarely do jail time. The rest of us alcoholics and meth-heads do hard time in real prisons serving mandatory sentences. That seems fair.

* How are these Hollywood doctors who provide unneeded prescription meds to the stars any different than my corner crack dealer?

* It we ran Santa Barbara we would be pushing hard to turn Neverland into the West Coast Graceland. It seems like a no-brainer.

* AEG owned Jackson's tour, AEG owns Staples Center. You trying to tell me that memorial service wasn't a way to somehow make them money? Look soon for the AEG DVD of the memorial service. Already there's reports of how AEG is eagerly looking at ways to turn the rehearsal footage of the tour into a movie or a DVD or something, anything, to make money.

* But don't ask AEG to help foot the $4 million bill that Los Angeles racked up to help provide support for that exploitative memorial service. It's the craziest thing we ever heard, putting on an event and doing nothing to help pay for the city services necessary for that event.

* And then there's the heartbreaking reality of Jackson's kids, embodied by the plaintive goodbye by his daughter Paris at the memorial service. He may have been our sideshow freak, but he was her father. And now he's gone.

Top five choreographers: "So You Think You Can Dance"

1. Wade Robson - The resident twisted genius, worthy of the top spot because of his dancing "Ramalama" zombies. A perfect blend of song, costumes, makeup and choreography:

2. Mandy Moore - The show's second best routine: the "Sweet Dreams" job interview.
3. Nakul Dev Mahajan - The Bollywood dude.
4. Napoleon and Tabitha D'umo - The choreographers most resembling an annoyingly good-looking high school power couple: jock and cheerleader. Please see the "Bleeding Love" routine.
5. Mia Michaels - The bipolar choreographer who claims to be the dancers' mothers but who also takes perverse glee in doling our brutally cruel honesty. She likes props: the bench routine, the door routine, the bed routine.