WRKO’s Howie Carr has been yakking on the radio for a long time. He has developed a following and a reputation. Like most radio talkers, there is a necessity to create controversy. Saying outlandish, over the top statements gets listeners’ hackles up. They respond, which impels ratings, which attracts advertisers. It is a simple format and one designed to make everyone happy unless you have a more discriminating palate.

Occasionally the talk show host strikes gold. A national tragedy, or an international incident or an untimely death stirs the national conversation. To be a part of that conversation, people join by flocking to the ‘experts’ and listening as they dispense their pearls of insight.

Prior to the capture of the infamous Whitey Bulger, Howie Carr was a guest on Fox TV’s Bill O’Reilly show. He was there to parse the FBI’s TV ad campaign to capture the aforementioned Bulger by focusing on his girlfriend and her tendencies. The FBI ran ads on some specific TV shows including THE VIEW. Here is what Boston’s self-acknowleged Whitey Bulger expert and radio host said.

“Yeah. I don’t quite understand it, Bill. They haven’t seen either Whitey or Catherine Grieg in the United States since 1996. They haven’t been seen anywhere in the world credibly since 2002. I don’t know why they are running all these spots on American TV because I don’t think they have been here for a long time.”

Of course that all was moot because hours later Bulger was arrested in Santa Monica. Now Bulger is making the rounds as the ‘Go to guy’ on Bulger even though he totally missed it the day before.

There is no problem when an expert gets it wrong, but let’s sit back a moment and consider what Howie Carr would have said if the person who made the error of assessment was in his cross hairs, say a politician or a Harvard professor or someone in the arts. Now lets consider why no one is calling for Howie Carr to atone for his error.

There is a word for this, but let’s no go there. Let’s simply say it seems that what is good for this goose is not good for the gander.

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The Frugal Yankee is opinionated and thrifty, not necessarily in that order. Find out more at FrugalYankee.com where you can buy FRUGAL YANKEE GUIDE TO SUPERMARKETS.


Food prices are getting worse.

Floods in the Midwest disrupting plantings. Tornadoes destroying crop land. Fuel prices shooting up affecting fertilizer prices and transportation costs. The global food supply is upset by political unrest. Global warming is changing crop yields.

The result? Coffee prices are at a 14 year high. Corn prices have doubled in 12 months. Meat prices are heading higher. The big cereal manufacturers are increasing their prices. Everywhere we look these days, food is either higher in cost or to compensate, smaller in size.

Belts have already been tightened as the recession lingers. Making due is a regular state of affairs and with these new pressures on food supplies, feeding a family is now tougher than ever.

And it doesn’t look like it will get any easier soon.

For decades Americans have benefited from an advanced agricultural infrastructure. From the farms to the supermarkets, food costs as a percentage of total family expenditures had reached historic lows. Now that benefit is being challenged by everything mentioned above.

With all of that in mind, understanding how supermarkets work can help families save thousands of dollars every year. Stores use loss leaders, items at very low prices to draw people in. Many savvy shoppers look for these and stock up. But many stores also work on 13 week schedules. So an item that is not seasonal maybe a loss leader one week and then again 13 weeks later.

Many tips like this can be found on FRUGALYANKEE.COM, but just as important if you have a tip or idea on how to save money at the grocery store, please share. We’re all in this together.

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The Frugal Yankee finds real value in the real world. Check out their new book GUIDE TO SUPERMARKETS.


No more hiding them under the mattress or stored away in the attic. Playboy has announced a new service called i.Playboy.com, where those looking for the articles can find the entire 60 year collection of Playboys digitized, cover to cover. Opinions vary as for the services chances at success. Some claim Playboy’s initiative is too dated. Others think it will find a niche audience.

Me? I was amazed to find that Playboy still published a magazine.
Maybe we’re getting nostalgic for the good old days like the 50s and 60s when corseted clad babes in high heels was naughty enough to titillate a society. That nostalgic angle gets more play when you consider one of the new TV shows hitting the broadcast air this fall is situated in a Playboy Club, and called THE PLAYBOY CLUB circa early 60’s.

The drama seems to be blending several concepts near and dear to Hollywood’s mercenary heart. They want to tap into the MAD MEN zeitgeist, they want to show beautiful young women’s bodies off, and the format allows for multiple story lines.

If well done, the show could spark a resurgence in all things PLAYBOY. Not sure if that’ll be a good thing or not. For example,  if you take a close look at the trailer, the cinematography fetishistically adores the ‘Playboy key’, a faded item of power & remembrance. Washing the Playboy Clubs with a brush of nostalgia will say more about our current sexual confusion than about the actual time of their ascendancy.

Doesn’t this all sound like a quaint anachronism?


The Oscars nominations came out and as soon as they hit the airwaves, the pundits, mavens and know-it-alls all began to question why this person was left off, or how come this movie was snubbed. Well, heck, we’re no different. We looked at the list and wondered the same thing. So here is out list of films and people snubbed by that august body of geriatrics known as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In the Best Supporting Actress category, lots of people talked about Mila Kunis’ performance from BLACK SWAN. Yes, she was fine, but doesn’t it say more about Darren Aronovsky’s direction that he got such a good performance out of her? Remember BOOK OF ELI came out this year and Ms Kunis played it not as if she were in a post-apocalyptic world, but as if she were heading down to the Galleria Mall in the Valley.  Then others talked about Barbara Hershey in BLACK SWAN as well. Yeah, she was good. For my money, Juliette Lewis’ white trash meth head in CONVICTION was great turn. Too bad the film drifted off into oblivion, otherwise she might have been mentioned.

Keeping in the actress category, for Best Actress tow snubs were Julianne Moore and Emma Stone. Ms Moore as the counterpoint to Annette Bening in THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT. Ms Bening is odds on favorite, but her performance would not have reach its stride without Ms Moore. In yet another smack down of comedy, Emma Stone’s EASY A performance was Oscar worthy. The film would have been another mindless teen comedy without her intelligence and comic timing. When will the Oscar honchos realize that comedy needs its own categories?

There will be lots of conversations about Justin Timberlake or Andrew Garfield were stiffed in the Best Supporting Actor category. Or how Mark Wahlberg’s co-stars all got nods, while he was left out of the ring, but the most egregious failures of this year’s Oscar nominations come in the directing category. How Christopher Nolan was omitted for INCEPTION is mind boggling? Or how come TOY STORY 3, the highest grossing film of the year and arguably one of the best was stiffed? In both cases their genre probably hurt them. Yes, they can be Best Film nominees, but the directors had less to do with it than some other aspect of the film. It is the bias of the voters which gravitate towards smaller, more dramatic films when it comes to direction. None of the five nominees made classic blockbusters. Yes TRUE GRIT and SOCIAL NETWORK have grossed extremely well, but that says more about the audience than the industry.

Another directorial snub was Ben Affleck’s THE TOWN. Affleck’s assurance and intelligence as a director makes anticipating his next film an optimistic endeavor. One final snub in the directorial category was Debra Granik for WINTER’S BONE. Taking a small premise, a minuscule budget, and unknown actor and turning it into one of the best films of the year is a hard task. Ignoring that feat, is an Oscar mistake.

When we sit back and analyze the Oscar nominations, it is easy to pick it apart and say, what about this one or that one? The people who vote for the Oscars do have their prejudices. These prejudices are evident. The next step is to guess what will actually win or lose. Come back soon to this column. There are predicators, tips and insights on how to get good at that. First tip,


With the Golden Globes happening this Sunday, is it a coincidence that the perennial awards show based on foreign journalists’ movie & TV picks is getting bad press? Nope. A disgruntled lead publicist is blowing the whistle right before their big day. Hey, that’s what publicists do. They’re timing is excellent, but this scandal is nothing new for the Golden Globes.

The former lead publicist for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, aka the Golden Globes has filed a lawsuit claiming they are taking all sorts of inducements from the studios to favor their films. Really? Anyone with a brain can see that. THE TOURIST is  an award worthy film? No, but the Golden Globes said it was. How did that happen? Hmm, was someone influenced?

So how did this glam fest become a sham? Two decades it was a small insider event. Now it is huge. What changed? The HFPA parlayed their fest into a studio marketing device. They created a cozy relationship with them. Then the studios use the glam fest to tout their product on a less than skeptical public. It’s an easy formula. Influence teh awards. Win the awards. Sell the awards as a reason to see films.  It is also easy to sway the 88 or so part time “journalists”. They love all the attention the studios bestow on them. It makes them feel or so important in a town where feeling important is more important than being important. Now toss in broadcast TV’s insatiable desire for ratings, and the result is an event that has grown disproportionate to its real value.

For years, industry insiders have known that the Golden Globes was simply a Hollywood dress up night. It was perfect for the publicity departments to tout their films prior to the real event, the Oscars. Insiders also marveled at how the management of the Golden Globes have taken this joke of a awards fest into a $12 million a year TV event. The lawsuit asserts that there is a new deal in place for the Golden Globes to get $26 million from NBC/Comcast even though they have publicly stated no deal is in place and no deal will be even discussed until 30 days after this current show closes the curtains. They lied? I’m shocked!

Is this new? No.

Remember Pia Zadora? The pixie sized actress best known for her early role in SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS, married well, and the new hubby promoted her to the Golden Globes. The result she won the 1981 New Star of the Year award. At that time, insiders were buzzing about how one could get a Golden Globe – for the right price.

So when Michael Russell sues the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, it is not a surprise. What is surprising is how long it took for someone to report that the emperor is actually naked and all those fancy new clothes are bought by the studios, paid for by the studios to promote the studios’ interests. Everyone has been in on it, including the broadcasters who have aired this sham glam fest.

There will be denials. There will be rationalizations. But the bottom line is that the Golden Globes are, and have been, a tainted affair. Sure some of the awards, maybe the majority of them, have been fairly won, but like the game show scandal of the 50s, when media interests collude to drive ratings or box office grosses, the outcome is never golden.

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The Frugal Yankee is Garen Daly, a film industry veteran for over three decades as well as penny pinching New Englander. Follow him on Facebook.


 

REGIFTING, SEINFELDModern mythology places the origins of re-gifting to an episode of SEINFELD, that’s more urban legend than reality. Although the Seinfeld episode probably brought the idea and the name into the popular conscience, people have been re-gifting since the before humans recycled #2 plastic. It has gotten so prevalent that one web site is promoting National Re-Gifting Day, that would be the Thursday before Christmas for those who are wondering. None of this would have happened if we didn’t have a problem.

Every holiday season, we all receive gifts that makes us gag or are destined to collect dust in an out of the way closet. It could be a fifth of booze for the recovering alcoholic; clothing that isn’t only the wrong size, but truly hideous; a decorative item that best suited for gracing the confines a round filing cabinet; these and more, are unwanted.  Perhaps they can be returned, but not knowing from whence they were spawned makes that difficult. Asking the giver is a landmine of poorly navigated manner and dicey feelings. The modern alternative to those deep, dark closets has been re-gifting.
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It just makes sense. It’s the best kind of recycling. It’s a money saver. It’s ecologically sensitive and in the nest of all possible worlds, it means giving a nice gift to someone who will appreciate it.  But before you decide to take that remarkably, amazing item from its place of banishment and bestowing it on a trusting friend, beware. Re-gifting requires commonsense and tact. The cognoscenti of these issues, etiquette experts, have nothing against re-gifting as long as it’s done correctly. As expected, there are rules. Here are a few.
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•   The re-gifted item has to be brand new.  A pre-worn, obviously opened item is a no-no.

• Handmade gifts should not be re-gifted unless it is of very high quality.

• Never re-gift promotional items unless it is in good fun or a jest.

• Never re-gift in the same circle or don’t re-gift where you eat. For example, don’t re-gift something gotten at the office back into the office. That’s just asking for trouble.
REGIFT
• Be sure to check expiration dates. Anything that has a short term life span or is even about to expire is not something to re-gift. This includes Gift Cards, more on that in a second.

• Only re-gift things that are appropriate to the person receiving the gift. Don’t just ‘unload’ something on someone else. That’s tacky. Ask yourself, “Is your intention good?”

• Make sure the gift looks good. Clean if needed. Re-wrap and retag.

• If an item is age inappropriate, re-gift it when it is appropriate.

• The person who gave the original gift should not know it has been given to someone else.

• The person getting a re-gifted item should not know it is a ‘re-gift’.

• Some gifts can be put on a ‘re-gifting shelf’. Then when a birthday or other gift giving time comes up, a perfect gift may be available. Be sure to put a post-it on the gift citing the name of the person who gave it originally. That way you don’t re-gift it to the person who gave it to you in the first place.
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• One option to re-gifting is donating the item to a worthy cause.

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Remember we mentioned Gift card earlier? Some folks will re-gift them. This can be problematic. Some cards have processing fees, monthly fees or expiration dates. Any or all can diminish the gift in the yes of the giftee. If Gift Cards are something on your re-gifting list, be very careful. It can easily be a bad idea.

Overall, re-gifting fits nicely into our post-millennium culture. It’s frugal, environmentally sound and it can bring pleasure to all concerned. The key to successful re-gifting is use common sense and follow the rules. Now if I can only find a home for that paint by numbers cute kitty set?


End of the Year, HOLLYWOOD, Mel Gibson, Kristin Stewart, Lindsay LohanIn 2010, Hollywood produced over 500 films that were seen by 1.25 billion people. In the course of last year, films taught us several important lessons. Here are a few of them.

Republicans and the Tea Party acolytes succeeded in gutting the health care bill, because 2 centuries from now, a crippled Marine veteran is forced to take a job as an avatar on Pandora.

Hollywood taught us in 2010, that if convicted of a crime, make sure you are blessed with a spunky sister (played by Hillary Swank), or be married to a pudgy college professor (played by Russell Crowe). They will free you come hell, high water, 18 years in the educational system or escape proof prisons, which ever is worse.
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Buy a house that has ghosts. Paramount Pictures will pay handsomely for some grainy, choppy footage of things that do more than go bump in the night. Remember to assert you made the film for less than $20,000 and you never took a cinematography class in your life. The bad cinematography will be directly proportionate to its box office take.

Speaking of 3D, how come the best 3D movie of the year was JACKASS 3D? Does that say more about movies, the public or the technology? And why can’t we try these antics at home? Go for it. It may lessen certain segments of the population in need of culling.

End of the Year, HOLLYWOOD, Mel Gibson, Kristin Stewart, Lindsay Lohan
In 2010 we learned, that prehistoric picsine biters prefer beer-fueled bikinied bachelorette babes for brunch. Or, as they like to say, ‘the other white meat’ served, of course, in 3D.

Why is Jennifer Lopez judging American Idol? Three words: THE BACK-UP PLAN

Katherine Heigl WILL make a scintillating, sparkling, funny romantic comedy. It just won’t be in our lifetime, or even hers.

The anthropomorphizing of animals continued its downward trend with MARAMADUKE, YOGI BEAR, FURRY VENGEANCE and more. It is official. Pets are now as lame as their owners and they are embarrassed. Expect revolution.
End of the Year, HOLLYWOOD, Mel Gibson, Kristin Stewart, Lindsay LohanKristin Stewart’s insufferable pouting & vacant “romantic” (?) staring made her a ton of money while her good acting got unnoticed, THE RUNAWAYS. Teenagers, go figure.

It’s good to know that Facebook was created to get the schicksa goddess. Looks like the Geeks will inherit the Earth or if not, at least have a few hot dates.

Romantic comedies, or in the parlance of the cognoscenti RomComs, haven’t been good since marriage was the only legitimate way to have sex. How can you have sexual, comedic tension when nookie is just another Jagermeister away.
End of the Year, HOLLYWOOD, Mel Gibson, Kristin Stewart, Lindsay Lohan

Move over Ida Tarbell, the new muckrakers are here, to wit, documentaries WAITING FOR SUPERMAN, INSIDE JOB, RESTREPO, THE TILLMAN STORY, EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP and THE ART OF THE STEAL are just a few of the films posing tough interesting questions. Now that electronic media journalists have abrogated their journalistic responsibilities to the pursuit of the latest LindsayLohan/Mel Gibson melt down, these documentarians will make money preaching to the converted.

Once again, Hollywood’s attempts at converting European art house hits into mainstream megaplex grossers has tanked. This doesn’t bode well for anything written by Steig Larsen.
End of the Year, HOLLYWOOD, Mel Gibson, Kristin Stewart, Lindsay Lohan

Speaking of not boding well, Mel Gibson is the poster boy for what happens when you drink too much, smoke too much and believe your old press releases. You get ugly, really ugly.

Question of the year – what does THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE say about our world? That we are rectally connected?
End of the Year, HOLLYWOOD, Mel Gibson, Kristin Stewart, Lindsay LohanThe Golden Globes proved worthy of its long tradition of dubious selections. Once again proving that 89 part-time writers are easily manipulated by well financed studios hype machines who will take full advantage of them. Meanwhile, regular Americans will think the Golden Globes actually mean something or have integrity.

And if all goes according to plan, 2011 will be a year when sequels dominate the screens, where there will be at least 75 weekly “America’s #1 Film”; where exhibitors will bitch about distributors; where distributors will kvetch about exhibitors and where studios will waste more money than God. I just wish they send some of it to deserving people, like me.

Did you learn something from the movies? Well, share it then!