By Kyle | March 1, 2010
College admissions offices, employers and divorce lawyers are now using social-networking sites against you. How afraid should you be? More in my other Sunday column.
By Kyle | September 25, 2009
Disney buried the ridiculous-looking sci-fi film “Surrogates” until the last possible moment, screening it for critics yesterday at 11 am. Bruce Willis in a floppy blond wig? Puh. Leeze. To my surprise, though, I liked the film — and it turns out there is an excellent reason for Willis’s absurdly fake look. I recommend the movie, though in my 3-star review I tried to warn people that just by explaining the clever setup, I am kind of giving the whole thing away.
By Kyle | June 4, 2009
According to this, 90 percent of Twitter tweets are posted by the ten percent who are chattiest, and most of them are male. Interesting. Are guys more opinionated? Not really. Are guys more willing to make their opinions public? Possibly.
By Kyle | December 17, 2008
And sexy cyborgs are waiting to serve you at PopSci.com.
By Kyle | February 1, 2008
Funniest hed I saw today (from Yahoo news) describes the upcoming Hillary Clinton vs. John McCain November showdown as “Mac vs. PC.” Not the last time we’ll be seeing that one, since Hillary Clinton is the incarnation of political correctness. And I ask you: who doesn’t love a Mac? Whereas nobody ever describes himself as “PC.”
By Kyle | January 15, 2008
EDGE OF BRILLIANCE
3.5 stars out of 4
Rated G/85 minutes
Kyle Smith review of “U2 3D”
I can’t believe the news today: U2 has reinvented the concert film with the dazzling “U2 3D,” which sets an awesome new standard for rock flicks with an all-engulfing sensory bonanza.
The new 21st-century 3D technology, which requires you to wear bulky clear goggles handed out at the theater, has helped pump up otherwise routine blockbusters like “Beowulf,” but it turns out to be ideally suited in recreating the feeling of the blowout stadium concert.
Filmed in 2006 at a stadium in Argentina in front of 100,000 worshippers, this concert features 14 (far from all) of U2’s biggest hits, blasted forth with all of the band’s exhilarating stagecraft: giant video displays featuring both band action and arty figures such as a lonely cartoon office drone marching wearily in place to “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own,” Bono and the others venturing deep into the audience on walkways, bold (yet vague) politics. Nobody ever comes back from a U2 concert saying, “Actually, I disagreed with their stance on peace and unity.”
Bono dances like an Irishman, which is to say that he can’t dance. Unlike Mick Jagger, his body movements are blocky and earthbound. But like Jagger, his only rival for the title of rock’s greatest showman, Bono has an absolute feel for extravaganza, kicking the air during the opening tune, “Vertigo,” and later donning a white Samurai bandana with the Muslim crescent, the Star of David and the Christian cross arranged to help spell out a mysterious word that will appear on the massive video screens: “COEXISTA,” with the crescent serving as the C, the Star of David as the X and the cross as the T. Marvelous. Drummer Larry Mullen Jr. wears a red star, as if to signify he’s a Communist thrown into a Nazi concentration camp. What does it mean? Who cares?
The cameras zoom and roam and fly, among the band members and into the crowd where pretty girls sit perched on unseen shoulders waving their arms in the night air. At times several images are stacked atop of each other–there’s the screen seen in the stadium, the frontman, the atmospheric red fog coming out of the wings and the delighted crowd, all of them overloading the senses and creating the kind of beautiful hallucination that leaves you buzzing and ringing after the best concerts.
In the early days, during the Reagan years, U2 seemed like an angry leftist band of Irish revolutionaries, its very name (a reference to the U.S. spy plane) seemingly a mockery of the West in the Cold War. But who can argue with sentiments like “It’s a beautiful day”?
In 1987,“Bullet the Blue Sky” played as an anti-Reagan harangue. In this film it’s an antiwar statement that samples the Civil War/WW I (and “Dr. Strangelove”) song “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” and concludes not with blame but with a wish for the troops that replaces the “children who run into the arms of America” coda: “Johnny safe home,” says Bono. That’s not Kubrickian irony, that’s seething youth mellowing into middle age.
Similarly “One,” seemingly an intimate song about exhausted love, has now expanded into a stadium-pleaser about world peace and working together. “The difficulties of our past will not prevent us making a better future,” Bono said in introducing the song, putting an almost startlingly optimistic spin on it. But stadium concerts are about partying, not gloom, and “U2 3D” is a smashing party given by the world’s biggest band for the price of a movie ticket. Its only drawback is that, at less than 90 minutes, it’s far too short.
By Kyle | January 13, 2008
My Sunday column:
IF LOOKS COULD KILL
January 13, 2008 — Will stylish women soon be literally as well as figuratively stunning? If the folks at Taser have their way, fashionistas will soon be stopping muggers in their tracks and watching the bandits collapse bonelessly at their well-shod feet – thanks to a 50,000 volt stun gun.
Last week the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas featured a new chick device from Taser that hopes to be the Lady Remington of the pain compliance industry. You may remember Taser from such scandals as the long-running Bernard Kerik Follies of 2004 to two-thousand-whenever (Bernie sold $6.2 million worth of stock options the company gave him while he was promoting their product) and from alarmed reports by groups such as Amnesty International (which has linked the Taser to 280 deaths, although in Amnesty’s typically frustrating way, it did not tally up how many of the victims deserved it).
Taser rolled out its new weapon for femmes fatales, the C2, which puts high voltage into a holster containing a one gigabyte MP3 player with darling little white earbuds. “Fashion with a bite,” says Taser. Wags instantly dubbed it the “iTase,” though we’ll have to wait to see if C2 adds texting capabilities to turn it into a BlastBerry. Can a promotional deal with Jolt Cola be far behind?
Taser boasts that the C2 has enough juice in its lithium battery to deliver up to 50 shocks, although you probably won’t need it that many times unless you live in Detroit.
The C2, which is illegal for civilian use in New York and New Jersey, but legal in California, comes in not only “red-hot red” and “fashion pink” colors but also in a leopard-skin model, because drag queens need personal protection too. (Each time it fires, it also releases a burst of confetti with a serial number traceable to the weapon on each piece, to increase both accountability and fabulousness.) Will such cutesy-wootsyness be enough to convince trendy women? Will the next cliché of headline writers be “The Devil Wears Taser”?
Taser has built its business on sales to military and law enforcement officials, who proved at the University of Florida that if you’ve got a stun gun in your pocket, your tendency is to tase first and allow questions to be asked never. In a way, it’s an ideal weapon for women: Like the passive-breakup model universally beloved by females (stop returning his phone calls and keep telling your friends how annoying it is that he hasn’t figured out he’s been dumped) it’s hostile yet avoids the embarrassing effort of spelling everything out for him.
The C2 is small enough to fit in any hand (although that clunky sideways belt holster makes it look a little like a cellphone circa 1998), it doesn’t leave any gross bloodstains and it shoots the kind of cool invisible hurt-ray that gorgeous women already have experience with, since they learn to fire them from their eyeballs by the time they’re 16. This Taser’s dart-like bursts have a range of up to 15 feet, which means they can reach to the other end of the bar when you don’t feel like explaining to that sketchy guy that no, he can’t buy you a drink.
If Taser is serious about selling to women, though, it’s going about it in the wrong way. It needs to de-nerdify. (So does another device unveiled at CES, the new lady-friendly Sony Ericsson Bluetooth headset, which has slip-on covers in fashion colors and a silver-plated necklace attachment.) Women don’t want to look like they just left the control room on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Taser’s comical logo – a shiny metallic silver lightning bolt ripping through the middle of the earth – also needs work. It looks like it was designed by whoever was doing the covers of Robert Heinlein paperbacks in 1974, or by Paul Verhoeven’s stormtrooper-costume maker on “RoboCop” or “Starship Troopers.”
Taser (the name is an acronym from Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle) should avoid marching in the dork parade of the Consumer Electronics Show and go for a deal with Lucky magazine (“High-Voltage Accessories That Say Both Bad Girl and Girly-Girl”) or Project Runway, which has proven itself more than willing to work with unlikely corporate sponsors. (A recent show featured designers told to make outfits out of candy from the Hershey Store where, it seems safe to say, Elle magazine editors and Heidi Klum don’t spend a lot of their time). Instead, a Taser saleswoman in Vegas cheerfully told conventioneers the device would make a perfect gift for Valentine’s Day. Not in my house.