Tuesday, August 31, 2004

TV: Scrubs

Hey, NBC is sneaking the season premiere of Scrubs on the air tonight! Those crafty little monkeys! I wasn't expecting it until next week. Woohoo!!

All of you watch Scrubs, right? Right?!? It's only the best comedy on the air, dammit! (Currently sharing that title with Arrested Development.) You've gotta watch it. It's the new M*A*S*H. No, seriously! J.D. is Hawkeye, Turk is Trapper John, Dr. Kelso is... uh, Frank Burns -- no, Major Winchester! -- and the Janitor is a malevolent Radar. And... Jamie Farr is Klinger. Okay, the comparison doesn't quite hold. But it really is very good. Trust me.

Except I might be wrong. Because Heather Graham joins the show tonight as a recurring (eight episodes) guest star, and if there's one thing that'll ruin this show, it's Heather Graham. God, she's awful! Why do people keep casting her in comedies? Because she's pretty? I have to assume that's it. Cause she sure as hell isn't funny. Her timing is bad, her delivery is flat, her big vacant eyes always make her look like she's not even getting the joke... man, if she hadn't gotten naked in Boogie Nights, none of us would have to know who she is. She'd still be a total nobody, and that would be just great with me.

But instead, she parlayed her Rollergirl rep into actual fame. And now, as another Heather (Locklear) threatened to do before her, she's in danger of ruining Scrubs because the producers want a well-known attractive blonde guest star to increase their ratings -- who cares if she can actually act?

Ah, tune in anyway, in spite of Graham -- or maybe you like the pretty pretty girl. Then tune in because of her. Just tune in.

EDIT: Please note Scrubs begins tonight at 9:25 (that's on the West Coast). Because NBC hates you.

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 30, 2004

COMICS: More 8/25/04

Astonishing X-Men: So Colossus is back. Prompting me to ask the question: he was gone? Seriously, he's been dead? Okay, if you say so.

I'm joking, a little. Don't post a comment telling me when and how Colossus died; I've gleaned as much as I want to know from other blog entries about this issue. But before this week, I honestly did not know he was supposedly dead. Nor would I have cared. I'm not an X-fan by any stretch; I only pick up the books when I'm interested in the writers, such as Whedon, Grant Morrison, or Peter David. This issue highlights why it's so hard for me to care about the X-characters even when good writers are in charge: there's just so... much... crap. All the titles, all the characters, all the stupid, stupid, sub-soap opera quality plots. I'd much prefer a writer to do something new with these damn mutants, rather than resurrecting the dead, or rehashing ancient stories. Even Morrison did it. Jean Grey is the Phoenix again? You know what? FUCK the Phoenix! Jesus Christ! Trying to write a new and interesting Phoenix storyline is like trying to come up with a new and funny chicken-crossing-the-road joke. It can be done, I suppose, theoretically -- but why? Move on, people, move on.

I probably should stop buying this book.

We3: Speaking of Morrison... This book swept me up in a way Morrison's Seaguy totally failed to do. Maybe because it's not quite so relentlessly, mind-scramblingly weird for the sake of being weird. I mean, it's weird, don't get me wrong. But the art by Quitely, gorgeous as always, helped me ease into the story in a way Seaguy's artwork did not, and, though the story is weird, there actually is a story. And it's somewhat coherent!

I don't mean to rip on Morrison so harshly. I like almost everything he's written. I appreciate a comic which is challenging; I don't much care for a comic which I feel is mocking me for not getting it, like I felt Morrison was doing with Seaguy. I look forward to the next issue.

Amazing Spider-Man: I hope Flash Thompson is the father. Does Flash Thompson even still exist in the Spidey universe?

Street Angel: I finally got a back copy of the first issue, and while it wasn't as wildly, inventively, hilariously over-the-top as the second issue, I still enjoyed it a great deal. One of my favorite new comics. Which means it probably won't make it to issue four.

Runaways: I enjoyed the first TPB so much, I went and got the next four-part storyline out of the back issue boxes. I could've waited for another TPB. It was a decent story, kind of fun, but in the end it didn't go much of anywhere, and being broken up into four parts didn't help. The second arc is pretty early for what's basically a placeholder storyline. But hell, now I'm so close to the current issue, I might as well keep on buying the back issues, right? (This is why I'm always broke.)

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

TV: I will literally die if I don't get this off my chest. (Not literally.)

Nat Gertler recently (and by recently, I mean over three weeks ago; I'm a little slow on this one) posted the following on his fine TV blog, Nat's TV:

As I prepare for friends to gather here for a poker night, I am reminded of the worst advice I've seen on TV lately.

On Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, one of the Fab Five recommended that people holding a poker night keep a second deck pre-shuffled, so it's ready to play.

Trust me, any poker player willing to play with a "pre-shuffled" [deck] will be willing to let you hold his wallet, and will take your word for it that you aren't bluffing...
Since he doesn't have comments on his blog, I must respond here. No, really, I must. This bothers me so much, I feel an actual physical compulsion to reply.

Pre-shuffling doesn't mean someone brings a deck from home that he has carefully arranged in order to cheat with, and then deals a hand without letting anyone cut or otherwise touch the cards. Pre-shuffling is a very simple and expeditious practice that happens right at the table and continues all throughout the night.

You have two decks. Player one, the dealer, deals a game with deck one. Player two, who will be the dealer next, shuffles deck two during this game. When the game is over, player two (after player one cuts the deck) is instantly ready to deal a game with deck two, and deck one goes to player three to shuffle in preparation for the following game. Makes the games move much more efficiently, and it's all done right there at the table, so no one has to worry about cheating.

Possibly Nat already knows this, and was pretending not to, for the sake of a joke. In which case, that's a faulty comedy premise (as defined by Andy Kindler), and my objection stands.

Let me wrap up with a little friendly advice: Nat, if you play poker with people whom you actually believe would cheat, if only given the opportunity, then perhaps you should not play poker with those people anymore.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, August 29, 2004

TV: Olympics Wrap-Up

The Olympics are hardly over and I already miss them.

I regret missing so much of the coverage this last week, due to the fact that, unlike most of the first week, I wasn't on vacation. I didn't see any of the Decathlon, for example. And yes, I actually wanted to. And I entirely missed the Archery competitions, dammit!

But I caught enough wonderful moments to keep me satisfied. For example, the U.S. Men's Basketball team having to settle for the Bronze, like the overhyped, underpracticed, non-team oriented chumps they were. There was the crazy disturbance in the Men's Marathon today, when some lunatic defrocked priest actually ran out of the crowd and attacked Vanderlei de Lima of Brazil, who was in the lead at the time, and who still went on to win the Bronze. There was popular U.S. Men's Wrestler Rulon Gardner, who, after winning the Bronze, removed his boots and left them in the wrestling ring to signify his retirement. I honestly could not care less about wrestling, be it Greco-Roman style or WWE, and even I got choked up at this beautifully simple statement. That's what the Olympics can do to you.

But enough about the Bronze. What about the Gold? Look no further than the U.S. Women, who seemed to win the Gold in every team sport. The softball team eradicated their competition on the way to their third straight Gold, winning all nine of their games by a combined score of 51-1. That's lopsided, folks. The Women's Basketball won their third straight Gold using the exact fundamentals and unselfish team spirit the Men's team was so sorely lacking. The Women's Soccer team captured their third medal, and second Gold, of the last three Games, and, with the retirement of Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, and Joy Fawcett, ended the incredibly dominating dynasty begun with their World Cup win way back in 1991. And then there's Women's Beach Volleyball:

Admit it, you scrolled down to this picture without reading any of the junk I wrote up there first.

See you in Beijing in 2008! But first, Torino, Italy, in Winter 2006, and you know what that means: curling, baby, curling!!

Labels: , , ,

Friday, August 27, 2004

MOVIES: Garden State

When Garden State is good, it's wonderful. Unfortunately, it's only good about half the time.

Where it starts becoming wonderful is when Zach Braff meets Natalie Portman. Until that moment, Garden State has been interesting, if not overwhelming. Braff plays Andrew Largeman, a mildly successful L.A. actor making a living between gigs as a waiter. He exists in a numb daze created by the many medications prescribed by his psychiatrist father, medications he's been on most of his life. When his mother dies, Andrew goes back home to New Jersey to attend her funeral, meets old friends, and stirs up bitter memories in his father, who blames Andrew for the accident which turned Andrew's mother into a paraplegic.

Andrew's emotionless existence is conveyed very well. Braff's expressive face and exuberance is reined to a halt; we see the world racing past him without even making a ripple. But when he goes back home, he leaves his meds behind, and slowly he, and the world around him, become alive.

Then he meets Sam (Natalie Portman) in a neurologist's office, and the film also becomes alive.

Sam is a compulsive liar, but she sweetly admits and apologizes for her lies afterward. She's also a bundle of energy, and the first day she spends with Andrew is exhilarating to behold. She displays all of the natural charm, joy, humor, and vulnerability George Lucas has managed to bludgeon out of her in recent years. During a quiet moment she blurts out that she's not going to make out with Andrew; she advises him to kick her aggressive dogs in the balls; she performs an impromptu tap dance; and in the film's best, funniest, most touching scene, while burying her pet hamster, she feels all the pain and sorrow for Andrew's mother's death that he is unable to feel himself.

It's a tremendous first half of a film. But ironically, as Andrew more fully wakes up from his medicated haze, the film begins to go to sleep. His newfound awareness is portrayed in a most ham-fisted manner, pounding home cliched and uninsightful discoveries about life, while Natalie Portman's astonishingly original character is reduced to little more than a weepy crutch for Andrew. And Ian Holm as Andrew's father is criminally wasted in an underused and underwritten role. I kept waiting for Holm to display some emotion, to experience some kind of development, to have one powerful scene. But when the long-awaited confrontation between father and son finally comes, Holm just sits there and absorbs Braff's words, like a garage door for Braff to hit tennis balls off of. This is the most glaring evidence of Braff's novice status as a writer, a director, and an actor; a more seasoned, more confident individual would've acknowledged that Holm could act him right off the goddam screen, and would have given him the room to do so.

Garden State has a number of fine moments, from oddball but believable characters (like the guy who made a fortune from the invention of silent Velcro), to striking visuals, to small, truthful moments of humor and poignancy. But for the most part, they're confined to the first hour. The second half just drifts. That it doesn't result in a bad film overall is a testament to the goodwill generated by Braff in the early stages. But it does leave you wondering, and lamenting, how great it could have been, instead of just averaging out to pretty good.

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 26, 2004

COMICS: Wed. 8/25/04

I didn't update yesterday, because I'm a bad, lazy man, and yet my hit count was slightly up from Tuesday, when I did update. Weird.

Just a quick one to let you know I'm still alive. And also because I've only read two of my comics so far. Spoilers ahead.

Brit: Red, White, Black & Blue: I've only read one of the previous one-shots of Brit, so I was a little lost in this one. First of all, I didn't even realize Brit officially tied in with the rest of the Image universe; seeing Savage Dragon and Invincible pop up during the big fight scene was a little surprising. Second, the whole thing with his son being shot into the sun really left me scratching my head, as did Brit's friend with the robotic body. I'll have to assume this weird stuff was explained in a previous issue. And Brit's ex-wife has claws? Whatever.

I was disappointed that Tony Moore wasn't doing the art, but I did enjoy the artwork. The story was kind of weak. Aliens invade, how original. And the instantaneous way they suddenly go into attack-mode didn't really build up any suspense or drama. Just all of a sudden, Independence Day is happening. And what is the point of having the French be the aliens' allies? Just a swipe at the French for the hell of it?

The scene with Brit's ex-wife getting killed is truly shocking, though. Anyone who's ever heard the term "pornographic violence" could look at that panel and understand the meaning. Not that there's anything sexual about: it's just so horrifically, unexpectedly, unnecessarily graphic, that I just stared at it in disbelief for probably a full minute. I'm not suggesting the violence should have been toned down, I'm just saying, it really caught me off-guard, and that rarely happens, in comics, films, or any medium. There was violence throughout the comic, but mostly involving the aliens, so it was cartoony, Mars Attacks! violence. Brit's ex-wife's death, in contrast, seemed disturbingly real. It felt like the whole purpose of this comic was to get to that one panel.

Overall, a disappointing issue, but, due to that one sequence, it'll stick with me for a while.

The Authority: More Kev: Funny stuff, though about 90% of the humor is gay-themed insults. Midnighter's eventual bashing of the homophobic and stupidly overconfident Kev was especially satisfying. And the final page was a great reference back to the original Kev one-shot. The stupid bastard's killed the Authority -- again! I've never been a big fan of the regular Authority comic -- it always seemed a little too creepily, unironically fascistic to me -- and Ennis plays right into my dislike, by mocking and belittling the superhero team as they so richly deserve, and just outright killing them every once in a while. Good stuff.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

TV: O'Grady

I just caught the first couple of episodes of O'Grady, the new animated show from the people behind Dr Katz: Professional Therapist, Home Movies, and Science Court. And like all of the above, O'Grady features the same distinctive and eye-catching (though fairly static) animation and lively, low key, funny, seemingly improvised banter that made them all worth watching.

O'Grady (which airs on Noggin, or "The N," as the evening teen-oriented bloc of programming apparently likes to call itself) is about a small town infested with "weirdness," which means, using the two episodes I watched as examples, suddenly everyone might be stricken with random attacks of short term memory loss (heralded by their heads making gong-like noises), or they might all start thinking that they're cats. The two leads, Abby and Kevin (voiced by Melissa Bardin Galsky, from Home Movies, and H. Jon Benjamin, the funniest part of all of the above shows), and their best friends, Beth (Holly Schlesinger -- I think; unbelievably, IMDb.com has yet to create a page for this show) and Harold (Patrice O'Neal, of Shorties Watchin' Shorties and Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn), have to deal with the normal crises of high school life in addition to whatever "weirdness" might be plaguing O'Grady that week.

The humor partly comes from the slapstick antics generated by the "weirdness" (and the slapstick works well, especially in the memory loss episode), but primarily it comes from the excellent voice cast. I have to assume this cast (unlike many cartoons) is all together in the recording booth at the same time (or, at the very least, the two leads are); I can't otherwise explain the way they play off of each other so wonderfully, layering joke after joke on top of verbal tics and wry asides, sometimes going off on what you can tell are unscripted tangents as they seize on something that strikes them as funny and milk it for all it's worth.

The show is obviously aimed at teens (it's set in high school, and it's on The N, after all), but then, so was Daria, and everyone loved that show, not just teens, right? Right?? O'Grady hasn't quite reached the emotional heights (or depths) achieved on Daria yet, and it probably doesn't want to; it's far less about teen angst, and far more about goofy teen fun. But it is equally funny, and the characters are equally likeable. If you can find Noggin on your dial, you should check it out.

[Thanks to Reid Harris Cooper of Pop Culture Spectrum for making me aware of this show!]

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 23, 2004

TV: The Fastest Men Alive

There's a new fastest man alive: on Sunday, Ben Gatlin won the gold in the 100-meter dash, in an incredible 9.85 seconds. Even more incredible, the silver went to a time of 9.86 seconds, the bronze to 9.87 seconds. Fourth was 9.89, fifth was 9.94, sixth was 10 even. That's inconceivable to me. How can you even register 1/100th of a second difference? Is one guy's nose longer than the other's? You can't help but think of that Seinfeld joke about the minute differences between Olympic heroes and nobodies. "First place, [moves head back two inches] dead last. [Moves head forward two inches] Greatest guy in the world, [moves head back two inches] never heard of him."

(I promise I won't write any more about the Olympics today, except to note that I've been enjoying the women's diving competitions for all the wrong reasons.)

Meanwhile, the fastest man alive is missing in action on Justice League Unlimited. Where the hell is the Flash?? We're four episodes in, and he hasn't even had one line yet. I can't even recall if he made an appearance in the first episode. Not to say I haven't been enjoying the show. Last week's episode with the Justice League Babies was hilarious, especially young Wonder Woman's crush on young Batman, but it was a light, inconsequential episode that probably should have come later in the season, after the new rotating cast premise had been better established (apparently, this was originally supposed to air as the fifth show of the season, rather than the third). And this week's Hawk and Dove episode was decent, if not overwhelming. The voice-casting of Hawk and Dove was inspired (Wonder Years brothers Jason Hervey and Fred Savage, with Hervey here switching roles as the younger, kinder brother, Savage playing the older, tougher one -- come on, you couldn't have had a guy named "Savage" play the Dove, could you?); in addition, Michael York was a great villain's voice, and Ed Asner as Hephaestus had some cute, borderline naughty wordplay with Wonder Woman (involving the tightness of her costume).

But dammit, where's the Flash? Is Michael Rosenbaum too busy on Smallville to make the trip to the voice sessions? Hell, he's practically out of the opening credits as it is; the new opening animation suggests Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are the Justice League, and Flash, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter are now merely part of the giant supporting cast -- featured supporting players, yes, but not the headliners.

Maybe it's just as well; the writers have never really known how to portray Flash's powers accurately. When they've used him to the best effect (as in the brilliant "A Better World" two-parter), he's nearly a match for Superman; more often, though, he's a clown. Comic relief, that's one thing, but he's just a clown, in and out of battle. He's been taken down by the lamest villains, and his speed, which should be supersonic at the very least, near light speed at best, is often reduced to barely that of a speeding car.

Over on Teen Titans, the same can be said of Beast Boy. His powers are phenomenal, but he rarely uses them to their true potential; hell, most of the time, he forgets he can turn into something that can fly. This week, while in wolf-form, he got his foot trapped under a rock. Rather than turning into any of a hundred animals that could've escaped (from an elephant to an earthworm), he turned back into his human form (still trapped) and tried to reason with his attacker, Terra. More emotionally affecting, perhaps, making heartfelt pleas to his erstwhile friend, but stupid from any practical point of view.

When the writers have used him well, Beast Boy has been more than a match even for the Titans' arch-nemesis, Slade (though, having defeated Slade a couple episodes ago, BB reverted to his usual clown-like self and allowed him to walk away with Terra in tow). I don't mind comic relief in my superhero teams; I just wish more often they'd live up to their superheroic capabilities, rather than taking all the pratfalls.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, August 20, 2004

TV: Even More Olympics 2004

-- I caught some of the women's shot put competition earlier this week, and I got a kick out of how the distances were marked. Wherever the shot lands, some guy walks over and points to the spot with his toe. That's high tech, baby.

-- I'm disappointed Andy Roddick and Venus Williams both lost their chances to bring home the gold for the US. But Roddick, at least, was playing like a maniac. His second round against Tommy Haas was one of the most amazing tennis matches I've ever seen, with Roddick fighting off a double match point to stay alive, then surrendering a triple match point to give Haas a chance to get back in, before finally winning 9-7 in the third. But I've got a complaint about the television presentation of the match: where the hell was the score? It's pretty standard practice these days to keep the current game's score constantly displayed onscreen, in that little box on the upper left. Not only was the score not there, they didn't even flash the score in between points, which left me floundering during several games. Very frustrating.

-- Another game new to me that I instantly became addicted to: handball. I watched Croatia beat Slovenia, and I was riveted. It's so simple: it's like soccer.... with your hands. But the games are fast, the scoring is high, and the action is rough; more than one player was brutally knocked to the hardwood floor (it's played indoors), and I even saw one guy grappled by his opponent and wrestled to the ground -- and he still managed to score, hurling the ball past the goalie as he fell. Amazing.

-- I watched some judo last night, and I was struck by the strange, soporific movement of some of the competitors. I'm sure it's just my novice eye, and they're competing at a level far beyond my comprehension, but they mostly appeared to be making slow, infrequent, ineffectual lunges at one another, as though they were sleep-judoing. And when they did make contact, they would kind of rumple up the bathrobe-like costume of their opponent, then eventually let go for some reason or another, and back away for another attempt. I don't think I get this event at all.

-- I think it's funny that of the fifteen headlines Yahoo has so far compiled in its Olympic weightlifting section, six of them specifically mention failed drug tests. Wow, you mean there's a problem with weightlifters taking steroids?? Knock me over with a feather. Also, I don't care how mature you are, it's just plain funny that one of the weightlifting events is called "snatch".

-- The worst thing about the US men's basketball "Dream Team" isn't how spectacularly they've failed to live up to that name (falling 92-73 to Puerto Rico in the first round, winning less than convincingly in their subsequent games), it's that the arrogance surrounding them has permeated America to the point that TV Guide actually stated as fact that Tim Duncan and the Dream Team would be competing in the gold medal game on Aug. 28 -- in last week's issue, before the Olympics had even begun. What a bunch of dicks. Man, I love this country, but now even I hope the Dream Team loses.

-- And how about those fans, folks? By which I mean, where the hell are they? As King Kaufman of Salon.com has already joked, judging from the poor turnout, Greece appears to be the first host country to boycott the Olympics. Venus Williams, possibly the most popular tennis player in the world, played one of her center court matches in front of five hundred people. That's nothing. She gets a bigger crowd than that practicing in her backyard. And the Greeks have been stubborn sons of bitches about it. During early gymnastics rounds, most of the fans were stuck in the upper tier, while the lower level was sparsely populated with little more than family members and press. I don't care how greedy you are, if you can't sell those tickets, then at least let the people in the upper tier come down and fill them, so it doesn't look so bad on camera. Whether or not Greece is making back its financial investment (they claim they are), all those empty seats gives the appearance of a monumental failure. Just suck it up and start handing free tickets out on the streets, already.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 19, 2004

COMICS: Wed. 8/18

Taking a breather from my Olympics coverage (don't all cheer at once) to go over this week's comics haul. And it was a pretty decent-sized one.

Demo #8 & #9: I liked both issues, but I have the feeling I would've liked them better if I hadn't read them back to back. It feels like they're going over the exact same territory. Hell, the whole series may be going over the same territory; the only other issue I've read is #1. And all of the issues I've read are moving, sometimes sweet, sometimes painful, sharply observed examinations of relationships (with a little supernatural thrown in). They all feel real -- but they also all feel the same. Possibly the other issues branch out in different directions, but #8 and #9 are both about the exact same thing, a couple breaks up. Sure, one is by way of suicide -- but still, the story structure is the same: a woman explains (post-mortem in the latter case) to a man why they can't be together anymore. It's good writing, and I'll probably pick up the next issue, too; I just hope the writer has another trick up his sleeve.

Ex Machina: Brian K. Vaughan continues to keep my interest, although the bad guy is so far poorly defined and without any real sense of threat. It's the politics that make this series compelling, and I'm glad it hasn't degenerated into superhero punch-em-up yet.

She-Hulk: ...like this comic. I kind of get the feeling the writer is under pressure to make the series more reader-friendly with this two-parter, which featured new, more traditional artwork, and a big superhero punch-em-up. This one was down from the high standards set in previous issues. I hope Jen returns to the courtroom next time.

Plastic Man: Intermittently funny, but a mess overall, like Baker was just throwing out ideas as they occurred to him. The "Abraham Lincoln must die!" story crossed over from absurdly funny to kind of creepy pretty quickly, and the wrap-up was abrupt and sloppy.

Invincible: In the letter column, Kirkman calls this issue the big one, the one he's been waiting for. Really? Hm. I thought it was the worst issue of the series. Kirkman is starting to stretch himself way too thin -- like, Bendis thin. What's he writing, five comics now, counting the upcoming Marvel Team-Up? I'm afraid the quantity will make the quality suffer.

Daredevil: Speaking of which... This is in my "Why am I still buying this?" category. Why am I still buying this?

Supreme Power: See above. I can't fucking believe there are spin-offs from this series already -- and NOTHING HAS HAPPENED IN IT. Why am I still buying it?!?

Girl Genius: Decent, not great. I love that it came out so quickly after the previous issue -- by which I mean, not five months late -- and I liked that some backstory about Wulfenbach and the Heterodyne Bros. was revealed, but overall, just an average issue of a way above average series.

Fantastic Four: I've already seen some people grousing about this issue. I thought it was great, especially after the ho-hum previous story. I like that we're seeing Johnny back in the business office of FF Inc., I loved Ben's "Human Torch" costume, and the menace from above was the kind of cosmic, epic threat that often brings out the best in the Fantastic Four.

Runaways: Last week, I finally picked up the TPB of the first four issues, and I really liked it. I should've known I would, what with Vaughan's track record. I don't like the digest size of the book, though; my eyes are bad enough without having to make out the print at 60% size (or whatever it is). I love it when I finally check out a book everyone's been talking about, and, if I like it, there's a whole load of back issues I can get all at once.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

TV: Or maybe she's like Vin Diesel in Pitch Black

Hey, when I was talking about Amanda Beard earlier, did I forget to mention she's a killer robot? I did, didn't I?

Oh yeah, she's a replicant, no question. Check out her cold, silver, death-dealing eyes:

If the massive teeth engineered specifically for the rending of human flesh don't convince you, the liquid mercury eyes should remove all doubt. In the pool, they really show off their metallic quality, possibly because they are designed to target her prey underwater as well as on dry land. Am I the only one who sees she clearly is a steely death machine, bent on world domination by way of winning Olympic swimming medals? (Somehow.) It's quite frightening, in a sexy kind of way.

Labels: ,

MUSIC: Rotting faces full of slime, don't you know it's terror time

I shall now admit to you possibly the very guiltiest of all my musical guilty pleasures:

"It's Terror Time Again," by Skycycle, from the soundtrack to Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island.

I can't defend it, other than to say: it rocks. Seriously. As does the movie. Seriously.

Skycycle also does an excellent cover of "God Only Knows," for those who may be into that sort of thing.

Labels: , , ,

TV: More Olympics 2004

-- It's funny how games I wouldn't normally watch on a dare become fascinating in the Olympics. I couldn't get enough of badminton! Did you know that the shuttlecock reaches speeds of up to 200 MPH? (Heh, I said "shuttlecock.") And ping pong -- excuse me, table tennis -- is also weirdly compelling. But I keep wondering: where do they put their beers while they're playing? Shouldn't their red plastic keg cups be on the corner of the table? That's how I always played.

-- My favorite part of the women's gymnastics is the goofy little dance moves they're required to make in between doing the really cool stuff. And by favorite, I mean, "easiest to mock." Like, Carly Patterson does an amazing triple back flip on the balance beam -- and then she has to do a little hokey-pokey step while moving her arms like she's backing up Madonna in the "Vogue" video. I guess the men have to do some of that, too, but for some reason it's really blatant and distracting in the women's routines.

-- My favorite gymnast? Svetlana Khorkina. And no, not because of not-safe-for-work pictures like these (well, not entirely because of that). I just love how unapologetically arrogant she is. All the other gymnasts, before every routine, salute the crowd with two hands high in the air, arched back, posing with big, toothy, forced smile. In contrast, Svetlana merely raises one hand, brief, humorless, indifferent to the crowd, regally gracing them with the merest suggestion of acknowledgment of their presence. That rocks. She's such a delightfully cranky presence among all the other relentlessly cheerful Stepford gymnasts. Plus, she's 25, which qualifies you for an AARP card in the gymnastics world.

-- American swimmers Amanda Beard and Natalie Coughlin both have disturbingly, almost predatorially large, prominent, unnaturally white teeth. Check out Amanda's smile in this shot:

That's some set of choppers. And damn, she's got more gum than Bazooka Joe.

Just an observation. I still think they're both lovely as the day is long. Check out Natalie in my alma mater's gear:

Go Cal! And Amanda in a picture from Men's Fitness magazine:

I have no idea what that has to do with men's fitness. And it's entirely possible photos like that in men's magazines cheapen and diminish the great accomplishments of the female athletes in the Athens games. And, as it turns out, I'm all right with that. Grrrrrrowwwl.

That's all for now. I'll try to get to soccer and basketball before the Olympics are actually over.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

TV: Olympics 2004

I'm back from vacation, and you will probably be unsurprised to hear I spent a great deal of it watching TV (due to the constraints of having to plan all outside activities around the fussiness quotient of the world's cutest niece). And the majority of that TV watching involved the Olympics, which, as always, I thought I wouldn't give a rat's ass about, but wound up being totally sucked into. I haven't yet found a sport I've never watched before and totally fallen in love with it, as I did with curling at the 2002 Utah Games, but I've found an awful lot to love, and of course hate. Some thoughts:

-- Michael Phelps is a great swimmer and all, but how pointless was it to build up such a gigantic wall of hype around him, one which was absolutely impossible for him to live up to? I don't care how much they talked him up, if you did even the laziest of research, you knew that he never, ever, ever had a chance to beat Thorpe or Hoogenband in the 200M freestyle. Still, he set a personal record, an American record, and won the bronze medal, which is pretty spectacular -- but instead of triumph, the inflated expectations made it feel like defeat.

-- I thought I would like fencing -- women hitting each other with swords, how medievally cool is that? -- but the women's saber competition turned out to be confusing and irritating. Both fencers have lights in their helmets which flash when they've been struck, which you'd think would make things easy to keep track of -- but no. On almost every point, both players would land a touch, and both helmets would flash, and you would only know who landed a touch first by the fencers' reactions (I quickly came to hate silver medalist Tan Xue of China for her banshee shriek after every single point she won). And sometimes, the fencers' reactions were wrong: both helmet lights would flash, and both would cheer in victory, until the judge would declare which of them actually won the point. The obvious question: if it's possible to rig the fencing helmets like this, is it not also possible to rig them so that only the fencer who is touched first lights up? We can put a man on the moon...

-- The women's beach volleyball is so great it almost hurts. Four immaculately chiseled women in skimpy bikinis jumping and diving in the sand, and patting each other on the butt after every point? Yeah, sign me up for that. But it doesn't hurt that the action is also impressive, with Kerri Walsh and Misty May especially showing amazing athletic ability in their matches. And, unlike the American women's softball team -- which has shut out every contender, including mercy rule annihilations of Italy and Australia, and is steamrolling its way to the gold -- May and Walsh, though clearly the best, have actually had to fight for their wins, which makes the matches all the more exciting.

-- The men's beach volleyball is okay too, I guess.

-- Synchronized diving is lame -- as King Kaufman at Salon noted: as opposed to synchronized swimmers, who may be silly, but at least are doing something unique, "synchronized divers are doing the same thing regular divers do, only they're doing it in pairs, and they're not doing it as well as the regular divers do it." And I hate that so much primetime TV was wasted on it. But I love the technology devoted to it. The dive-cam, which drops the full height of the platform, following the divers from their jumps all the way underwater. The time-lapse photography, showing each minute flaw of the divers all at the same time. Has there ever been so much money and footage invested in something so totally lacking in worth or interest? Aside from Paris Hilton?

-- But I did enjoy seeing the utter meltdown of every other team which let the Greeks win the gold, and then watching them race around the pool in celebration, especially when one of them wiped out on the slippery tile. My brother-in-law and I had a field day with that: "Did he forget to put on his flip-flops?" "There's a sign posted right there: 'No running in the pool area!'" "Right next to the 'Welcome to my ool' sign." "Only it's in Greek: 'Welcome to my oolakamakalakapakis. Notice there's no π in it. Please keep it that way.'"

-- Yes, I speak in Greek symbols.

-- I didn't care for what little of the women's field hockey I watched. I don't know what I was expecting, what with "hockey" right there in the name, but it really was just like hockey, with the ball almost always right on the ground. I kind of thought they'd be tossing the ball through the air with those sticks, like lacrosse or something. And those sticks they use are way too short, forcing the players to be all hunched over to reach the ball. The chiropractors must make a mint off field hockey players. They either need longer sticks or shorter players.

-- I apologize to synchronized swimming, which I had previously thought to be the most boring Olympic sport ever. Because now I've seen dressage.

I probably have far too many other observations to make about the Olympics so far, but that's plenty for now. There's a thing or two about tennis I'd like to get to, and I haven't even mentioned gymnastics yet. More later.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, August 13, 2004

In other news...

...I'll be on vacation until Tuesday. Try not to miss me too much. Wait, don't do that. Miss me desperately!


MOVIES: Far up! Far out! Far more! James Bond 007 is back!

I've been a little comics heavy on the blog recently, so to balance things out, my defense of the much-maligned James Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Not only do I disagree with the apparent majority opinion that it's the worst James Bond film, I actually think it's one of the best -- top three, at least. (And how anyone can think this is the worst when A View to a Kill exists is beyond me.) If Sean Connery had stuck around to star in it, I think everyone would agree it was the very best.

Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: George Lazenby is no Sean Connery. I know that. He's not my favorite actor, either. In fact, he's almost certainly the worst actor of the five to have played Bond in the series (the "official" series; I'm not counting the Bond spoof Casino Royale). I personally liked Roger Moore less in the role than Lazenby, but judging purely on acting skills, Moore was better. Lazenby was a novice actor in a high profile gig taking over from an incredibly popular predecessor, under a great deal of pressure to fill an iconic role. He couldn't possibly meet such expectations, even from those who bothered to give him a chance. That said, Lazenby wasn't terrible. He actually wasn't half bad -- certainly not as bad as some people want to believe he was. He definitely had the look, and, though wooden at times, he musters enough charm and competence to get by.

The Bond girl, on the other hand, was excellent. Diana Rigg had already made her name on The Avengers, and she's great in this film, playing a similarly strong, smart, dangerous, beautiful woman. Who eventually caves to Bond's seduction, sure, but what kind of a Bond film would it be without that? The fact that Bond actually gets married to her sets a milestone in Bond's character development, and the development of the series as a whole. No other Bond film has had such an emotional core to it.

Blofeld is the ultimate Bond villain, and he exacts the ultimate vengeance against Bond -- by killing his wife, Blofeld takes away the only thing Bond has ever loved. James Bond, for all the women he's gone through, has never cared for any of them. He's at heart a cruel and selfish man. The fact that he allows himself to fall in love in this film marks a real change in the character, which makes her death all the more powerful. And Telly Savalas is great as Blofeld.

The film's snow chase is also one of the most spectacular stunt scenes in any Bond film -- which makes it one of the best stunt scenes ever filmed. Ah, for a return to the days when actual people performed stunts, rather than computerized images!

The film has its faults: Blofeld's evil plan is kind of dopey, but then, so are the plans of most of the Bond villains. And Lazenby's looking at the camera at the beginning of the film and muttering a complaint about "the other guy" (meaning Connery) was a jarring, awkward, integrity-breaking way to get things started. But the film makes up for it in so many ways, from the scenery and music (yes, even the music is great) on up. If you like the Bond films, but have always had something against this one, I say give it another chance -- this time, without thinking every other second, "Connery was better". Of course he was. But thinking like that keeps you from enjoying a great film.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 12, 2004

COMICS: Wed. 8/11/04

Bite Club: This one isn't really holding up in the long run. First Risa has her silly, kitty cat-inspired epiphany last issue; this issue Leto goes from good guy to bad way too quickly to be convincing. One minute he's a priest, next minute he's taking over the crime family, feeding the Monsignor to the crocodiles, giving his sister a hot kiss, and banging his old girlfriend. This book never transcended its "vampire gangsters" high concept the way I hoped it would.

Challengers of the Unknown: On the other hand, I think Chaykin's other book is getting better each issue. More backstory filled in, more frighteningly evil activity from the Fox News surrogates, and now this religious mysticism -- when she says "Holy Grail," is that a euphemism, or is that really the Holy Grail? I still couldn't name the five Challengers for you, but I'm fascinated by their story, and Chaykin's storytelling with his art is fantastic.

Captain America: I am really disappointed with this book. Kirkman's writing, which I enjoy so much elsewhere, is mediocre at best here. It's by turns corny, obvious, and dumb. Seriously, Diamondback slips a mickey into Cap's drink? That's the Red Skull's brilliant evil plan? Lame. And the SHIELD conspiracy is even lamer, falling for a trick from Red Skull more obvious than "Throw me the idol, I'll throw you the whip." And Batroc? What the? Laaaaaame. And what's with Batroc saying he's never seen Captain America so brutal? #1, Cap certainly is nowhere near "brutal" here, and #2, Batroc obviously missed those Marvel Knights issues where Cap was nothing but an intense, "brutal" downer. Kirkman is trying to make Cap lighter and more brutal at the same time, and you simply can't have it both ways. He's aiming for goofy, old school fun (I presume), but he's really missing the mark. I had high hopes for Kirkman coming over to Marvel; I'm still looking forward to his Marvel Team-Up, but much less so now.

SpyBoy: Pop Mhan's art looks different, and nowhere near as good as it normally does. Is it just me? Is it a rush job? Is the inker not quite getting his style? What? And this story seems off to me. Alex's grandfather and the SHIRTS agent seem surprised by the appearance of SpyBoy, when they really shouldn't be. And if SpyBoy is going after SpyGuy with extreme prejudice, why didn't he just shoot him when he had the chance? This story isn't coming together very well for me at all.

Fables: Now that's a hell of a next-issue teaser: Frankenstein vs. the Wolf Man! Cool. Too bad Mark Buckingham is off the art chores for this story; I can't tell one damn soldier from another. This issue is a decent enough interlude, but I'd rather get back to the main Fables action. This is only going to be a two-issue story, right?

Powers: Okay, we learn a little more about the new Retro Girl. Could she be the original Retro Girl's daughter? Could Walker be a daddy? I have no idea if that's the conclusion I'm supposed to be reaching or not. And Deena may be a badass in the interrogation room, but she really needs some lessons in her field work. She's always getting her ass kicked. Why would she go by herself to a superpowered suspect's door? An okay issue, mostly for the interrogation stuff, but not great.

It seems like I'm forgetting something. I usually do. Oh well.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Forces of Good

From Stefan Blitz's Forces of Good:

On October 1st, 2004, www.forcesofgood.com will go live. An online-magazine dedicated to pop culture, forcesofgood.com will feature interviews, articles, reviews and a bullpen of regular talented columnists all with a love for the kind of stuff you didn't learn in school. Some of the first interviews will include adult film star Tera Patrick, comedian Patton Oswalt, UFO abduction expert Dr. David Jacobs, former MST3K host Michael J. Nelson as well as a number of comic book creators including Mark Waid, Jeph Loeb, Geoff Johns, Walter Simonson, Matt Wagner and Mike Allred.

If you or anyone you know would be interested in being a contributing writer, please send an email to forcesofgood@hotmail.com for submission information.

"we like pop culture"
I'm going to be writing a column about television for forcesofgood.com, as well as contributing various reviews, unless Stefan suddenly comes to his senses and bans me from the site. I encourage any of you who might be interested to email him and find out about contributing. It sounds pretty damn cool to me -- the exact kind of thing I would try to create, if I had an ounce of ambition. And if you don't want to contribute, at least check out his blog, linked above. It's good fun.

Labels: , , , , ,

COMICS: The comics I didn't buy

I gave up on The Punisher this week. I had it in my hand, and finally forced myself to put it back on the shelf. I hate this stupid, meandering, boring storyline! Why should I stick around for three more issues of it, other than a foolish, masochistic desire to be a "completist"? I'll be back when you're done with this one, Ennis.

And as I've recently mentioned (more than once, I believe), I gave up on the Bruce Jones Incredible Hulk ages ago. But I had to page through issue #75 at the store, because it actually looked like a Hulk comic, with the Hulk clearly pictured on the cover and everything. And the Hulk even appears inside! It's a Christmas miracle!

It's far too late for me to want to jump back in now, even if this looked like a good issue (which, aside from the Hulk actually appearing in a Hulk comic, it doesn't), but at least this should clear up some questions from Sean Collins (no relation) (that makes sense if you know my last name is also Collins). He recently posted some questions about Jones' run (in response to one of my posts, hooray for me), and I'm guessing this issue holds some answers for him. Well, I know it holds one answer, at least (the answer he already guessed), but as for his other question, whether Jones will finish his big conspiracy storyline before he leaves the title -- this issue certainly looks like it's wrapping things up. Which is good for Marvel. If I'd been following that story for as long as it's been going on, and it abruptly ended without resolving anything, I do believe I'd storm the Marvel offices with pitchfork and torch in hand.

Also didn't buy X-Force #1, which was a no-brainer on my part. Man, it looks exactly like the first X-Force #1, from, like, twelve years ago, when I actually had no brain, and purchased multiple copies, because comics will make you rich! Idiot.

Mike pointed out some choice artistic crimes within the covers (one panel in particular, in which one character appears to be 18 feet tall in comparison to the woman kneeling in front of him -- ew, not kneeling like that! Get your minds out of the gutter), and then added that he had asked the owner of his shop if he could punch anyone who bought it. Permission granted, soldier!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

COMICS: Fandom

I wish I were the world's biggest fan of something.

Mike is the world's biggest Swamp Thing fan. Corey is the world's biggest Green Lantern fan. Dorian is the world's biggest Wildcat fan. Neilalien is the world's biggest Dr. Strange fan. Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag is the world's biggest Aquaman fan.

I'd like to say I'm the world's biggest Incredible Hulk fan, but if that were true, I would've been the one to create the brilliantly funny (but too-infrequently updated) Hulk's Diary. Plus, I'm only a fan when the comic doesn't suck, which it currently does. It's possible I'm the world's biggest Grimjack fan, but only if Uncle Elvis has left the building. Hell, I thought I might even be the world's biggest Replacement God fan, but even an obscure (but excellent) b&w fantasy/humor comic that hasn't released a new issue in five years has its own (mostly abandoned) fan site.

So I'm just going to pick something and go with it. As of now, I am officially the world's biggest fan of...

Rick Jones.

Author, folk singer, talk show host, professional sidekick. He was indirectly responsible for the creation of the Hulk; he was Captain America's replacement Bucky; he was sidekick to Space Knight Rom; he was bonded via the nega-bands to two Captain Marvels.

I am now his biggest fan in the world. (Prove me wrong, children, prove me wrong!) And I will not rest until Rick Jones gets his own ongoing monthly series! Or until I get bored with him.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


TV: I'm getting way behind in my TV watching, which isn't healthy for my TiVo at all. It's backlogged with episodes of The 4400, Insomniac with Dave Attell, Less Than Perfect, the movie Clerks, and, unbelievably enough, last week's Amazing Race, which I usually watch as soon as possible. I think I'm nearing the TiVo danger zone, where shows are going to be automatically deleted to make room on the hard drive, if I'm not careful.

Speaking of TiVo, I'm a little alarmed by reports (found via Mark Evanier) that it's not doing so well, business-wise. Which I can't believe. Everyone should have one. It's the greatest invention since... well, television. They're dropping the prices this month. You must get one, I'm telling you.

MOVIES: Run, Ronnie, Run

I loved Bob Odenkirk and David Cross' Mr. Show, which spawned this film, but I didn't much care for the film itself. For one thing, it's inspired by a sketch from the show which I never liked in the first place: Ronnie Dobbs, a poor, stupid, white trash troublemaker, becomes famous for being arrested multiple times on a Cops-like show, and eventually an entire show is built around him getting arrested every single week. The movie stretches this thin concept way beyond its breaking point, while adding in various weak satires of other reality shows (a Survivor rip-off in which the losers are killed and eaten), and it fails to ever really pick up steam.

There are tons of cameos by some very funny people (such as Ben Stiller, Garry Shandling, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Patton Oswalt, Scott Thompson, Patrick Warburton, and, most random of all, Jeff Goldblum), but they never really do anything funny. I mean, when you've got Dave Foley and Andy Richter and Sarah Silverman in the same scene, and my only response is, "Eh," you're doing something wrong. The only one of these cameos that worked for me was Jack Black's performance of a hilariously vulgar song in a "deleted scene" from a Mary Poppins-esque musical.

There were a number of laughs throughout the film; I especially enjoyed the music video interlude by faux soul group Three Times One Minus One (played by Bob and David), and a Mortal Kombat-style fight scene toward the end had me in stitches. But I mostly felt like this film was a series of missed opportunities. The central concept could've been utilized to better effect, and the film could've been funnier still if the central concept weren't such a dud to begin with. Good job on putting Nikki Cox in a bikini for most of her scenes, though. Very good job.

"Summer, if you grade-grub one more time... I will send you back to the first grade."

I have to admit, I did a little grade-grubbing yesterday. About 7:30 PM, I noticed that I had 89 hits via my Sitemeter counter. So I pinged my blog (that sounds dirty) to get it refreshed on the Comic Weblog Updates page. I'm not proud of myself. But I finally got triple digits in hits, which I take pride in. Oh, wait, I guess I am proud of myself. Anyway, just before midnight, the site received its 100th hit of the day, which is a landmark for me. Drinks are on the house!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, August 09, 2004

TV: CatchphraseCenter

I caught last night's SportsCenter -- the 90-minute special edition called SportsCenter Old School. These special editions, which will be running all week in celebration of ESPN's 25th anniversary, feature alumni of the show returning to once again take the anchor's chair and call the highlights. Last night, it was Craig Kilborn coming back to take a seat next to Dan Patrick. And as I watched, I realized: not only do I not miss the smug and smarmy Craig Kilborn, I don't even miss SportsCenter.

The last time I watched the show with any regularity was about four or five years ago, when I worked in an office with a big football pool, and felt like I had to do my homework. Nowadays, I'll watch football when it's on (NFL only, no college -- unless Cal is playing, and come on, how often does that get televised?), and I'll occasionally sit still for a Dodgers game called by Vin Scully, or the women's nine-ball tournaments, which for some reason I love, or the odd tennis match or three, or golf if it's Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. But I certainly don't care about what's happening in all those other sports events I'm not watching, which makes SportsCenter kind of useless for me.

Especially since it's so goddam annoying. (Back me up here, King Kaufman.) The point of SportsCenter long ago ceased to be delivering sports highlights; the point is for the anchor to insert himself into the highlights with his "wry" "hip" "humor" and "clever" catchphrases. Old School illustrated this fact by showing highlight reels of Kilborn's catchphrases, having Patrick quiz Kilborn on his catchphrases, having Kilborn first coyly refuse to revive the catchphrases as he read the baseball highlights, which became redundant and annoying enough to be a catchphrase unto itself ("No catchphrases, that's simply a home run"), and finally having Kilborn use every one of his not-so-fondly-remembered catchphrases after all ("Jumanji!" "Krakatoa!"), even adding a few new ones ("You stay classy, San Diego," straight out of Anchorman).

All the current SportsCenter anchors are guilty of this catchphrase style of announcing to some degree or another, but it's Stuart "Booyah!" Scott who is currently the most egregious offender. He so desperately wants to be stolen away from ESPN by a major network, or to host his own talk show, that it almost hurts to watch him. But Chris Berman's nickname-game isn't far behind in terms of obnoxiousness.

The only two SportsCenter catchphrases I've ever enjoyed aren't even SportsCenter catchphrases. The first is "Sweet sassy molassey!" from the classic Saturday Night Live send-up of SportsCenter, as spoken by Ray Romano (which, of course, the ESPN people immediately appropriated for themselves). The second is of nebulous origin: I seem to recall that it was from a Rich Eisen-hosted ESPN game show, a very short-lived one (not 2-Minute Drill), and I believe Peter Gammons was actually the contestant (maybe this was some 20th anniversary special show that I'm not recalling correctly). Anyway, the question was, "Which of the following is not a catchphrase used to describe a home run on SportsCenter?" I forget the other three choices, but the correct answer, the one not used, was "a four-base hit," which was by far my favorite. Wouldn't you like to hear the sentence, "And Barry Bonds gets a four-base hit!" "That is an upper deck four-base hit for Sosa!"

I was kind of looking forward to watching all of the Old School specials this week, catching everyone's return appearances (except for Keith Olbermann, who is still hated at ESPN, and wasn't invited back). Now, I'm thinking I'll just watch whatever the heck I want to watch on TV tonight, but describe whomever I'm watching as being "en fuego," or shout out some random word, Tourette's-like, every few seconds: "Yahtzee!" "Roanoke!" "San Buenaventura!" That should be about the same.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, August 08, 2004

In other news...

...today's my birthday! And it's the first one where I actually feel like lying about my age. Which is just a silly way for a 34 30 27 23-year-old like myself to feel.

Off to watch more of my Futurama Season 3 box set birthday gift. And possibly yell at kids to get off my lawn. I don't know why, I just feel the urge.

Labels: ,

MOVIES: Gratuitous nudity that's necessary to the plot

Franklin Harris of Franklin's Findings has directed my attention to Sky.com's report on the mathematical formula for the Ultimate Horror Movie. The formula is (es+u+cs+t) squared +s+ (tl+f)/2 + (a+dr+fs)/n + sin x - 1. Feel free to click the link if you give a rat's ass what all that crap stands for.

Franklin goes on to note the formula's fatal flaw: it "has no variable for 'gratuitous nudity.'" Too true, Franklin, too true. Joe Bob Briggs must be spinning in his grave. I suggest the immediate addition of variable gn to the formula. In fact, I think it calls for an entire subset of variables:

  • to: topless only

  • ff: full frontal

  • ss: shower scene

  • sd: skinny dipping

  • sp: strip poker

  • sm: strip Monopoly (Captain Corey had better get that reference)

  • nws: nudity without sex

  • swn: sex without nudity (makes baby Jesus cry)

  • kwn: killed while nude

  • kfbn: killed for being nude

  • kbn: killed by nudist

And, most important of all:

  • nbsyaho: nudity by someone you've actually heard of

...which means, for example, that although Vampire Lesbian Kickboxers may have more total nudity, it would be outranked by Dressed to Kill for its Angie Dickinson shower scene.

There is a small possibility I may have given this entirely too much thought.... Nah! As if that were possible!

Labels: ,

Saturday, August 07, 2004

This Week in IMDb Chatboard Idiots

Every once in a while I like to click around the IMDb chatboards. If you think comic boards are filled with trolls, fools, hotheads, people ignorant of any basic concept of grammar or spelling, etc. -- trust me, they're nothing compared to IMDb.

This week I ran across a thread on the Orlando Bloom page which was started by an obvious troll, but which has received 90 responses so far:

shegami: Hi. This be Shegami. I be good good hacker. I hack into Orlando computer and see he look at many site for engagement ring. So Shegami think Orlando be get marry soon. So too bad all you girl who love Orlando so so much. He going to marry probably Kate!!!! Hahahahaha!!!!!

Love and kisses and hug,
All the girl who love Orlando so so much immediately take the bait:

Sugahunni: Thats stupid! He probably doesnt have a computer he hates the new technology.
...which, if true, makes Orlando seem dumber than anyone on his boards. Yes, shun the new technology, Orlando, that'll make it go away.

Rockin-Robin: LIEK 0mg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111111111 u tink u haked into hiz k0mpter?!?!!11 LOLzzzzzzzzzz if u wre a reel fan u wld no he dont' have a kmoptrr cuz Orlizz a tekanafobe!! n if 0rliz wz l0kin fer egangemanet rings 0n the internet den dey were fo me cuZ he's marring me so0n!!!! hez in ma bed rite n0w!!!!111
I take it back. That's enough to make me hate the new technology.

AssortedDonutHoles chimes in by pointing out that shegami is a troll, and it's stupid to respond. But since AssortedDonutHoles is clearly smarter than 99.9% of the participants on the IMDb boards, the responses continue.

It really gets hilarious when CheLiTo ChiP chimes in to correct shegami:

CheLiTo ChiP: Shegami need to enter to english academy and learn to spell right!
shegami: You think you so smart. Shegami be good good speller. Look at all Shegami words. They all spell correct. Shegami NEVER misspell word. And Shegami have English as second language. Do you speak Japanese? NO THINK SO!

Love and kisses and hug,
CheLiTo ChiP: I'll correct your text for you to see little girl,

You think you are so smart. Shegami is agood speller. Look at all Shegami words. They are all correct. Shegami NEVER mispelled a word. And Shegami hasEnglish as asecond language. Do you speak japanese? I DON'T THINK SO!

love, kisses and hugs

Okay little girl, let me tell you, you need to learn somethings yet!! I actually speak chinese which is similar than Japanese but kind of easier.
Then, my first languge is spanish. I live in Southamerica but I'm half chinese and half american. So, LMAO!
I love how she misspelled "mispelled". I think CheLiTo ChiP works as a copy editor for Harry Knowles.

Soon missyemmie14 is leaping to CheLiTo ChiP's defense.

missyemmie14: and shegami we just spell wrong cuz it's internet lingo. we do it because it's alot faster then typing this with all capitals and crap like that. ur a freak wow u know english like one of your poeple know english but ALOT of americans nkow japanese and other languages. ur porbably one of the only japanese poeple who noes english. because america is diverse. but japanese poeple r dumb. china is like 100% better they rule u!
Wow. Is 14 her age, or IQ?

shegami then goes on to insist she can hack into people's brains, because of the chips implanted by the American government.

shegami: Dear sparrowsrum123,
Shegami be glad you like thread. You be good good fan of Orlando. Shegami read chip and see you be nice person, but you sometime be scare because you think maybe alien come and kidnap you and take you to spaceship. This be deep thought that be in subconcious brain. But it okay, it okay. Lot of people scare of alien.

Love and kisses and hug,

P.S. Orlando maybe be scare of alien too. He go to alien website before. Shegami no sure if he really scare of alien because he no have chip in brain, but he go to alien site two time.
Eventually, it all collapses into a troll vs. troll battle, but before it does, we get my favorite exchange in the entire thread:

iamfinethx: you be elite haxor, yes.
camapily: h4x0r, learn how to spell, dumbass.


Friday, August 06, 2004

COMICS: The New Frontier

I've been saying for a while now that, despite the seemingly unanimous praise from everyone else, Darwyn Cooke's The New Frontier has failed to blow me away.

Then I read issue #5.

From Hal Jordan's experimenting with the Green Lantern ring and almost dropping a mountain on himself, to Superman's and Batman's meeting, with Superman questioning Batman's new child-friendly appearance, to Jimmy Olsen's "Well jeez, Rocky. He's Superman", to Aquaman's "At my back, the largest army in the world", to the bloodied interior of Wonder Woman's invisible plane, to Lois Lane's "You get this shot or I'll throw you off this goddamned chopper!", to the blurry first view of the Centre, to Flash taking up his costume again, to Hal's "Let me tell you something Miss Rich Bitch", to his and Carol's kiss in front of the jet engine, to the destruction of Paradise Island, to Superman's "I see I have your attention" and his rousing speech --

Yeah. This was the one that blew me away.

Labels: , , , , , ,

COMICS: Wed. 8/4/04

I'm late on this week's comics reviews, but I have a valid excuse: I was absolutely overwhelmed with the sheer volume of new comics I purchased this week. I truly went overboard. I mean, here's the list:

1) Y: The Last Man

Oh, I guess that's it. So really, I have no excuse, and I'm just a lazy bastard.

Here's my review:

I liked it. Naked butts are funny. The end.

Okay, wait, I've got one or two other thoughts. Number one is, of course, what a great ending it was. After 25 issues, it's about damn time we saw what Beth was up to in Australia! Now, I just hope they don't drop her for another 25 issues. I get the feeling the next arc will feature Beth in a big way, though Dorian, for one, does not -- he tells me that solicitation info for the next issues indicates it's more adventures with Yorick, this time in San Francisco. Well, Vaughan can switch back and forth from Yorick to Beth, can't he?

Also, I get the feeling a lot of people were a little unhappy with this two-part story, but I enjoyed it, both for Yorick reaching a big milestone (the last man on Earth finally gets laid! Geez, Abe Vigoda would've gotten lucky before this guy), the shots Vaughan (via Beth #2) took at the Left Behind books in part one, and just the overall feel that this was a breather between bigger stories. It was a fine change of pace -- but I'm ready for something big to happen next.

Other stuff I bought:

Ultimate X-Men: The New Mutants TPB, which I haven't read yet. It's Bendis, I had to get it. It's a sickness.

PvP at large, which I have read, and which had me laughing out loud many times. Kurtz has a great cartooning style (although I noticed in this book that some of his lines look a little rough-edged, possibly due to transferring the strips from computer to print; I don't know for sure if he does all his art directly on the computer, but I kind of assume he does, which unfortunately results in a little pixellation-blur in the printing process), and the jokes are funnier for the characters' facial expressions (sometimes just a raised eyebrow works) and well-developed personalities.

The New Frontier, issues 4 and 5. I'd gotten the first and second issues because of all the wild praise they were getting, and I wasn't blown away. I dropped the book, but then Ian and Corey were raving about it at the store on Wednesday, so I decided to give it another shot -- no copies of #3 were to be found, though. I read #4 last night, and liked it better than the first two, but still, I'm not feeling the overwhelming love for it everyone else is. Maybe when I get all six, I'll appreciate it more. This is a lot of money I'm investing in a hunch (that I will gain appreciation for it); I mean, it's seven damn bucks a pop! I am looking forward to reading #5 tonight, because I know Hal Jordan is finally getting his Green Lantern ring, and I've heard all about the Wonder Woman/Invisible Jet sequence, which sounds really cool.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It's all so self-referential, I just can't stand it

Now that I'm actually getting a certain amount of regular traffic at this site (it's still double digits, but it's high double digits, baby!), I need to be more diligent in my updating. Maybe a little something in the morning, just anything to let people know I still exist (like this post), followed by something with a little more thought behind it when I've got the time.

Let me take a moment to acknowledge the fine bloggers who have linked to me in the past couple days (such as Jog - The Blog, Polite Dissent, and Blog THIS, Pal!), or, even better, have actually mentioned me specifically in a post (like Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog, Ringwood Ragefuck or The Comic Treadmill, which I almost forgot about because, for some reason, that link doesn't appear in a Technorati search of my web address -- almost forgot, but didn't, because it was such a swell mention).

And that's not even mentioning Progressive Ruin, by good ol' Mikey Sterling, who is the founder and patron saint of the Associated Comics And Pop Culture Webloggers Of Ventura County, CA And Outlying Environs (or ACAPCWOVCCAOE, which, hilariously enough, he actually pronounced as a word at the comic shop on Wednesday-- I had to admire the obvious effort he had put into developing and memorizing the pronunciation). He's always willing to throw me some of his outrageously voluminous web traffic by mentioning me in a post. The other fellas in that group, Dorian, Ian, and Corey, are always more than worth checking out as well (as long as I'm in name-drop mode).

In summary: thanks, all, for stopping by. A regular comics post will follow soon.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, August 05, 2004

COMICS: Pretty sneaky, sis

Yesterday, at the comic shop, I bought the new PvP collection:

There was something oddly familiar about the cover. I stared at it for a long while, until it finally hit me:

If I hadn't already been a fan of Scott Kurtz, I would be now. That's just pure genius. And there can't be more than one person out of a hundred who would get that. I'm extremely proud of myself, in a kind of ashamed way.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

COMICS: Hulk is coolest one there is!

You know what I like? The Incredible Hulk.

I've always liked him. Ever since my first comic reading days as a kid, I liked how he was different. He wasn't like all those other superheroes, who went around looking for someone to help -- looking for trouble, basically. The Hulk didn't want trouble. The Hulk just wanted to be left alone. I loved that. The Hulk just wanted to kick back in the forest, away from all the puny humans, feed grass to an innocent deer who didn't know to be afraid of the green monster, compose some haikus, I don't know -- and then some dumbass supervillain would always come along and drop a building on the Hulk's head. And so the Hulk would have no choice but to GRRRAAAARRRRRR HULK SMASH!! and whale the holy living shit out of the bad guy. The Hulk didn't go looking for supervillains. The Hulk didn't give a gamma-irradiated rat's ass about supervillains. He wasn't proactive, he was purely reactive. Mess with Hulk, Hulk smash.

Also, the Hulk was the strongest one there was. And you knew because he would tell you: "Hulk is strongest one there is!!" There wasn't anybody who could beat the Hulk in a straight-up fight. Even Thor -- who's a god, for crying out loud -- could only fight him to a draw, at best. How sweet is that?

And best of all: half the time he was puny Banner, so nobody would see it coming. The element of surprise, turning the tables on the assholes -- that was great. I mean, you see a giant pile of orange rocks walking down the street, you go, "Hey, it's the Thing." But not the Hulk. He's just this meek little rocket scientist -- and then some hooligans start thinking they can get tough with him, or maybe they just won't stop talking on their cell phones in a movie theater. Next thing you know, they're standing in the shadow of (if I may quote) "7 feet, 1,000 pounds of unfettered fury!" and crying for their mommies. Now that's comedy.

Then, of course, came the TV show. The Incredible Hulk TV series changed a ton of stuff from the comic -- from the main character's name ("Bruce" was deemed too effeminate for a hero, so they called him "David" instead), to his backstory (adding a wife who died in a car accident) to how he became the Hulk (self-administered dose of radiation, rather than accidental exposure), to the Hulk's strength (bullets could actually hurt him, rather than just bouncing off) and speech (rather than childish language, the Hulk never spoke at all), to who was tracking him down (not the obsessed General "Thunderbolt" Ross and Ross's daughter, Betty, who loved Banner, but some reporter named McGee). But it was still great. Where else could a nine-year-old see primetime superhero live-action on TV? (Well, Wonder Woman, I guess, but that was fun for an entirely different reason, even at that age.) "Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." So true, so true.

The Hulk is even what got me back into comics. In 1988, my freshman year of college, down at the Student Union there were these guys handing out "welcome packages" -- little boxes with various crap from local merchants inside, like shaving cream or scotch tape or whatever. And there were some comic books, too. I hadn't collected or even read comics for about 8 years, but when I read that issue of The Incredible Hulk in my welcome package, I was instantly hooked again. Because the Hulk was... he was grey! And he was smart! And a little bit... bad, too. He was cunning, devious. Banner was on a mission, and the Hulk was cooperating with him, but for his own selfish reasons. And the art was very new and striking, stylized in a way that was totally different from the comics I had read as a kid, much more dynamic, and grittier, too -- drawn by some guy named Todd McFarlane (who has done little of note since then).

It was all wrong! And totally compelling. I bought a slew of back issues (all written by the fantastically entertaining Peter David, who would stay with the series for about 13 years, an amazing run from beginning to end), and I was suddenly a comic book fan again.

The there's the movie. I liked Hulk (not The Hulk, for some strange reason) more than I know many people did. It had the handicap of a CGI-created main character to overcome, which turned out to look better that I thought it would, but still, it's hard to invest yourself in a bunch of 1s and 0s on the movie screen. And I think it made a mistake in not having the Hulk speak; that left him as a personality-less destruction machine. The destruction was pretty awesome, true, but I'd have liked to hear him say "Hulk smash" at least once. I mean, throw me a frickin' bone. And where's Rick Jones?

But I liked Eric Bana as Bruce Banner, I love Jennifer Connelly in anything, and I appreciated both the slower, more subtle character moments as well as the inventive visual "comic book" style of the movie. I liked that the film spent time developing Banner's repressed psychological scars, which helped to create the Hulk persona bottled up inside him -- and that it showed Banner enjoys releasing that rage. And that tank fight: come on, that was kick-ass.

Right now, though, I'm having a tough time liking the Hulk. Because all I've got to go by is the comic book, by current writer Bruce Jones... and the comic sucks. I flat-out hate it. For one thing, it suffers from Marvel-itis, in which a two-issue story is painfully stretched out to a trade paperback-friendly five or six issues. For another, it's all X-Files-type conspiracies and mysterious covert agencies and that's all fine and good in the beginning, but eventually you have to start coming up with some resolutions to those mysteries, and, like The X-Files, for what few questions it did supply (before I finally dropped the book), it fell far short of the expectations it had created. And worst of all, a capital crime for an Incredible Hulk comic: it doesn't feature the Incredible Hulk!! Bruce Jones got the bright idea of using the Hulk in a very limited capacity only. Which meant that for a good number of issues, the Hulk only appeared in brief flashbacks, or by implication (gang of toughs threatens Banner, cut straight to gang of toughs with their asses kicked, with no sight of the Hulk in between), if he even appeared at all. That might be fine once or twice, as a change of pace, but when I buy a Hulk comic, I want to see the goddam Hulk. I don't buy a Superman comic for 22 pages of Clark Kent reading internet jokes from his mom at work, and if I wanted 22 pages of Bruce Banner, then I'd buy a goddam comic called Bruce Banner, not one called The Incredible Goddam Hulk!!

But. It appears Jones is out. He's signed an exclusive deal with DC, which means his run on the Hulk will soon be over. And good riddance. The buzz in the fan world is that Peter David is a possible candidate to take over from him, which couldn't make me happier. Problem is, according to his website, nobody's offered David the job yet (although if anybody has a brain at Marvel -- which you may debate amongst yourselves -- they will soon), and what's more, he speculates that the Hulk might not even continue in an ongoing series. Which would be terrible. Why a bevy of A-list writers aren't clamoring for this gig is beyond me. Peter David, among others, has shown that the Hulk can be so much more than a one-note "Hulk smash" character. Hell, at this point, returning the Hulk to all "Hulk smash" all the time would be a daring new direction in itself.

Bottom line is, Marvel had better get someone up to the task of helming a monthly Hulk comic, and they had better do it fast. He's one of their most popular, interesting, challenging creations ever, and I want to see someone who can bring the comic back up to a consistently entertaining level. Forget all this men-in-black crap.

Or Hulk will smash.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

MOVIES: The Butterfly Effect

I just finished watching the DVD of The Butterfly Effect and... wow. That was interesting. I mean, don't get me wrong: it's a train wreck. It is definitely a failure. But it fails in such uniquely spectacular and fascinating ways, that I can't help but admire it a little.

First things first: I'll admit, Ashton Kutcher isn't as bad as I thought he'd be. I actually like Kutcher on That '70s Show. I've never been an Ashton basher. (Except for that Punk'd crap he does on MTV. That is some seriously lame shit.) I think he can be very funny. I just didn't think he'd be able to pull off a dramatic role. And... he doesn't, exactly, but like I said, he's not as bad as I thought.

Where the film goes wrong, and keeps going wrong, over and over again, is in the relentlessly brutal torture of its characters. The plot, as you know, is a remake of the "Stupid bug! You go squish now!" episode of The Simpsons... well, not really, but it might as well be. Kutcher, like Homer, finds a way to travel into the past, but every change he makes in the hopes of making the future better actually makes it exponentially worse. Ned Flanders never places the Earth under his totalitarian rule, but if the movie had been ten minutes longer, he might very well have.

Here are the horrible things that happen to Kutcher's character Evan before he even goes back in time. (Spoilers, natch.) Evan suffers from a series of blackouts. His father has been locked away in a loony bin. The girl he loves (Kayley) is forced to perform sexual acts with him on camera by Kayley's alcoholic father -- when they're only seven years old. (Eric Stoltz gives an amazingly creepy performance as the father, by the way.) The girl's brother Tommy watches them, and it turns him into a psychopath. Evan finally gets to meet his dad -- who then tries to murder him. Evan, Kayley, Tommy, and Evan's best friend Lenny accidentally blow up a woman and her baby girl. Yes, I said blow up. Tommy puts Evan's dog in a sack and sets it on fire. Lenny is driven into near-catatonia by these events. Evan's mother moves them out of town, leaving Kayley to fend for herself against her lunatic father and brother. And, to top it all off, when Evan seeks out Kayley again after a seven-year absence, he drives her to commit suicide.

Yeah, and that's just an appetizer. Perhaps you begin to see how comically over the top this film is determined to go.

Evan discovers that by reading the journals he kept growing up, he can project himself back in time -- it turns out the blackouts were during periods of time travel. If he concentrates on a journal entry concerning one of those blackouts, he goes back into his body at that time, and is then able to influence the events that happened during his blackouts. (Many more spoilers ahead.) First time he tries to do so, it seems everything is just peachy dandy. He's turned into a frat boy douchebag for some reason, but he and Kayley are happily in love. Then Tommy shows up and tries to kill Evan, but Evan kills him instead. Cut to: the slammer! Evan's doing hard time for murder. And for murder, you don't go to white collar resort prison. You go to federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison. Yes, that's right, on his first night in the joint, Evan gets introduced to the wonders of prison rape. Ouchie.

Well, Evan thinks he can fix everything, and he really really means it, this time for sure. He goes back in time again, and tries to keep Tommy from killing his dog, but through a whimsical miscommunication, he accidentally convinces Lenny to murder Tommy. Oopsie! Back in the future, Lenny is strapped to a bed in the loony bin, and Kayley is a scar-faced junkie whore. Let's try that again: Evan goes back in time to keep the woman and her baby daughter from getting blown up, and he's successful! Back in the future, everyone is happy and healthy -- even Tommy has turned to the Lord and changed his evil ways. Small hitch: the explosion blew off Evan's arms. Dagnabbit! Pesky time travel! Evan sees how much better off everyone else is, though, and decides to take one for the team and stay with this timeline. Then he finds out his mother is dying of cancer. To the Wayback Machine! This time Evan figures he'll get rid of the explosive before it can ever be used. Funny thing, though, little monkey wrench in the plan: he accidentally blows up Kayley instead. Butterfingers!

This time, back in the future, Evan's in the loony bin himself. He's got one chance left to put everything back in order, and he does so by going back to when he and Kayley first met, and telling her he will kill her if she ever speaks to him again. Nice and subtle, there, chief. But it works! Evan returns to the future, and by never having known him, Kayley and Tommy turn out just fine. It's a wonderful life!

The DVD has an extra little kick in the ass that I love. It ratchets up this unrelenting torture-fest into whole new levels of agony. There's the theatrical ending -- in which, eight years further down the line, Evan and Kayley pass each other on the street, but keep on going. There are two alternate takes of that scene -- one in which Evan turns to follow Kayley, and one in which Kayley and Evan stop and have a sweet little meeting. But then there's the director's cut. Oh ho ho, the director's cut goes an entirely different and jaw-droppingly sadistic route. On Evan's last trip to the past, instead of going back to his first meeting with Kayley, he goes all the way back to his birth. At the hospital, while still in his mother's womb, he gains his entire lifetime of knowledge. And he decides his best option is to (I have to italicize and boldface this) strangle himself to death with his own umbilical cord. I swear on my life that I am not making this up. The best option for everyone else in his life to have a happy ending is for him to commit prenatal suicide. Gee, I wonder why the preview audiences didn't embrace that ending?

It's an awful movie, but it's so original in its awfulness. Each new horrible wrinkle in time leaves you agog in disbelief. "He's got no frickin' arms?? Oh, come on!!" It actually began reminding me of Showgirls a little bit as it went on, just a total misfire of epic proportions. The very bad things stop coming across as very bad, but rather very funny. It's just ludicrous after a while. You just have to start laughing. And the movie (like Showgirls) is so committed to its badness. The fact that nobody who made this movie is aware of its badness makes it all the funnier. But the thing is, you can't look away! You just have to watch in gleeful awe at its audacious awfulness.

Would I recommend it? It depends on how much you like bad movies. If you made it through the entirety of both House of the Dead and House of 1000 Corpses, or, for that matter, all of Showgirls, then you might get some weird form of entertainment out of this film, like I did. If you want a good time travel movie, you're better off with Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure than this thing. And if you want a good Ashton Kutcher movie... well, good luck.

Labels: , , , , , ,

COMICS: PvP vs. the World Crime League

I love comics. But I love comic strips even more. I'd gladly trade away Spider-Man for my daily fix of Doonesbury. If it came down to Batman or Dilbert, Batman would be out the door so fast his freakin' cowl would spin. If I had to choose between Peanuts and... well, no need to even finish that sentence. I would give up every comic ever for Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

What's got me thinking about this is one man's plan to renovate the comics page: Scott Kurtz's post about comic strip syndication. Kurtz, as you may or may not know, is the creator of the fine and funny online comic strip PvP. And in a few short paragraphs, he's put forth an argument for a comics page business model that's so radical, so revolutionary, so crazy, that it just might destroy the comic strip syndicates, and completely change the world of comic strips.

I'm not going to go into his plan here; if you're interested, he explains his ideas much better than I could. He's got some sound logic and some grand ideas. But he also has some holes in his proposal; primarily, he totally fails to consider that, even if the newspapers want the syndicates to fall, many of the comic strip creators will not. Even with the promise of ownership of their own creations, as well as 100% of the profits from the books and assorted other merchandising the strips may spawn, many creators will still prefer the safety and security of the syndicates to a free market. For one thing, not every strip has a lot of merchandising, nor even the possibility of it; for every Garfield, there are dozens of Mr. Boffos or Drabbles or One Big Happys, for which there's barely a market for the books, let alone the kind of greeting card/birthday hat/plush toy merchandising that would generate enough money to make abandoning the syndicates worthwhile.

I said he fails to consider that fact, but perhaps he has considered it, and discarded it. For one thing, he is presupposing that the comics page is ready to self-destruct on its own, that newspapers are already close to rejecting the syndicates and shutting down their comics pages altogether. And it sounds like his plan is for a younger, newer crowd of strips to take over the comics page, to hell with what came before. And while it may be fine for Get Fuzzy to suddenly be in competition with hundreds of free (or much cheaper) new comic strips, and while it may also be fine for relics like Dennis the Menace, The Family Circus, Marmaduke, and so forth to be permanently retired, what about those established but deserving strips that suddenly find themselves unable to compete in such a market? For Better or For Worse might be a good example here. I think it's still a decent strip, though clearly of another generation. Would it suddenly be lost in the shuffle?

All this is idle speculation, obviously; it may even sound like I'm against Kurtz, but I'm not. The truth is, it's more than likely that Kurtz won't change anything with his plan, and even if he does, it will be in slow and minute increments. But I admire him for proposing such an ambitious plan. And I'm hoping that if he (and hopefully other online cartoonists) and the newspapers successfully take a stand against the stranglehold the syndicates have on the comics page, that one of my fondest dreams may at long last be realized:

Cathy will finally die.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, August 02, 2004

TV: I'm Ted Koppel, and this.................................. is Nightline

A nagging question about last week's Democratic Convention coverage by The Daily Show was just cleared up for me on Dana Steven's Surfergirl TV blog (which I have under my links, yet I had to be made aware of the post by a link on Mark Evanier's blog... the blog world, it's all so incestuous, isn't it? Oh, man, I dread the Google searches that word is gonna net me. I've already gotten a hit from "women+and+dog+fantasies". Why, I don't know. But I digress).

My nagging question was, why didn't Ted Koppel show up for a scheduled interview on Thursday's Daily Show? Stewart didn't even mention Koppel's absence, which I thought was weird. Dana Stevens appears to have the answer: on Wednesday, Koppel spoke to Stewart on Nightline. And it appears Koppel does not much care for Stewart or The Daily Show. I wish I had seen that segment; it sounds like Koppel went off on Stewart, although it also sounds like Stewart held his own, and perhaps was even more gracious than Koppel deserved.

That's a shame, because I have a tremendous respect for Koppel, but he really doesn't get it. People aren't watching The Daily Show as a news source, as he accused Stewart, they're watching it (or at least I am) to get an alternate spin on the news. Stewart's coverage of the coverage of Al Sharpton's speech at the convention is a good example. Several media outlets treated the speech dismissively, writing Sharpton off as little more than a crank, with nothing of significance to say, with Chris Matthews for one actually interrupting the coverage of the speech because he felt it lacked importance. Stewart and The Daily Show, meanwhile, showed an impassioned Sharpton enthralling and galvanizing the convention with his words.

Is The Daily Show's take more reliable? Not necessarily -- but it is a different take, a take that can see past the old conventional wisdom of Sharpton as no more than a jogging suit-clad loudmouth, a take not bound by network sensibilities or political filtering. Even if you don't like Stewart's take (and certainly he -- and the show -- are more biased toward the left than not), you have to admit he often presents a candid, bullshit-free side to the news which other, "real" news outlets should be ashamed for neglecting.

Labels: , , , ,

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com