Friday, May 30, 2008

Here is a reason why I am not as depressed as the cartoon cat.

This is a thing that I did last night:

New album: Let's All Go To Bed

I went and saw The Mother Truckers at the Continental Club. And it was fun as hell. The co-lead singer, Teal Collins, plays a dang ukulele, for crying out loud! How can you not love that? It is impossible!

There was some filming going on during the concert. They were making a video for their new album. (Look for me in the crowd, I will be the handsome one.) The band told us that earlier in the day, they had done additional filming for the video, featuring four adult film actresses. These four women then came out on stage and danced for a couple of songs. I approved of that.

Also featured in the video (and I know Monty will appreciate this): the Hot Rod Honeys, one of Austin's Roller Derby teams.

Team Captain: Cat Tastrophe

A half dozen of these lovely young ladies also danced on stage for a couple of songs. And my approbation continued unabated.

As has previously been illustrated, pretty much any time I am at the Continental Club, it is awesome. I should go there more often.

I am not really as depressed as Roast Beef. Roast Beef is the cat pictured below.

This life is non-conducive to happiness.

Wisdom from Achewood. Bonus wisdom: "Any cake is a wedding cake if you call it that."

Monday, May 26, 2008


Hey, so I'm watching New York, New York for the first time, and wondering what my buddy Ian, a huge Scorsese/De Niro fan, would have to say about it (since I don't think there are a ton of other people I know who have ever bothered to sit through this thing). And what should I find when I go browsing around the internet later but the official announcement that Ian has landed a big editorial position at BOOM! Studios.

Congratulations, Ian! Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Now I can say, "I knew him when!" As in, "When we played Rampage! for four hours straight one day, for some reason." Or as in, "When he got really drunk at my apartment and pretended to be the voice of Silver Batman." Or as in, "When... all those other times we got drunk!"

Good for you, Mr. Brill. Hope you enjoy it, and I know you deserve it!

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Hey folks. Complications are arising in the real world, which will result in slim to nil posting from me for a good long while. Think good thoughts.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Last night for the first time I watched 1941, the film that has been vilified as Mighty Young Spielberg's first flop: a bloated big budget spectacle that was half juvenile sex comedy, half post-Pearl Harbor military paranoia farce, and all unfunny. And I have to say, it lives down to that reputation.

It has its moments, as even the weakest of Spielberg's films (what few weak ones there are) inevitably do. It very much has the assured Spielberg look, with gorgeous cinematography, long, complicated action sequences, dramatic camera movements and angles, and a soaring (and often jarringly out-of-place) John Williams score. (All it's missing is daddy issues.) And it has the pleasure of a fantastic cast, a steady procession of young comedic upstarts (making it feel at times like a reunion for Animal House, or a prequel to Stripes) and veteran character actors that had me blurting out with every new sighting, "Hey, it's ______!" As in, "Hey, it's John Candy!" "Whoa, Toshiro Mifune!" "Holy cow, it's Warren frickin' Oates!"

But god, is it a humorless mess. As Evan Almighty recently proved, throwing millions and millions of dollars at a comedy does not automatically make it funny. When a comedy is tied into huge special effects, and the comedy fails to be funny, the huge special effects make it appear to fail all the more spectacularly.

The special effects and set pieces are certainly impressive, on a technical level, such as Ned Beatty's cannon-blasting of his own house, or Dan Aykroyd's tank plowing through a paint factory. But the comedic effect of those moments is undercut by the fact that the characters aren't funny. In fact, they're barely characters, more caricatures programmed to play their roles as over-the-top as possible in this grand farce. And when the characters aren't funny, the situation isn't funny. When the tank plows through all those paint barrels, it was a completely empty and unfunny scene, and it left me thinking, "Wow, what a waste of paint." There was no point to it. Just a worthless expenditure of time and money (and paint!). The characters don't react to or comment on or influence the action in any way. There's no build-up, and it's over as quickly as it begins -- sustaining the moment to the point of absurdity might have created some laughs, but it doesn't even go for that. It's only there because it could be there, not because it needed to be there.

I did laugh sporadically, but often not at what I was supposed to be laughing about. For example, the opening scene is a take-off on the opening of Jaws, even featuring the exact same actress having an unexpected aquatic encounter. It wasn't really funny in and of itself, but I found myself laughing at the sheer audacity of it –- what balls it takes for Spielberg to parody himself. When a film parodies a scene from another film, for the parody to work the scene being parodied generally has to be a classic, an iconic moment in moviemaking. So basically, this is Spielberg crowning himself, declaring his own work to be iconic. I mean, he's not wrong, even if 1941 is only four years and two movies removed from Jaws, but still –- that's some balls.

And sometimes the casting alone was enough to make me laugh. Like Eddie Deezen –- he's just an inherently funny guy to me, even though his character wasn't necessarily funny (he's up on a Ferris wheel the whole movie, exasperating his buddy and playing with a ventriloquist's dummy, for some reason –- his character only exists to have someone on the Ferris wheel when it breaks loose and rolls free in the climactic action sequence). Or then there's Michael McKean and David Lander, who show up as two soldiers late in the picture –- they don't do anything funny, but hey, it's Lenny and Squiggy! Other high moments based purely on adroit casting: John Belushi's energetic looniness is fun, even if he's essentially playing Bluto as a fighter pilot; I always get a kick watching Aykroyd do his Aykroyd thing, reciting paragraphs of highly technical jargon in enthusiastic fashion; and Slim Pickens is frequently amusing, doing a variation on his Dr. Strangelove role.

But so many other incredibly talented people flounder aimlessly, struggling to keep their heads above the spectacle, and so very, very much of 1941 is painfully, embarrassingly unfunny. The triangle between jitterbugging Bobby Di Cicco, USO dancer Dianne Kay, and the lecherous soldier played by a young Treat Williams is just unbearable... and it's the primary storyline of the film! Also unbearable: Tim Matheson's attempted seduction (via airplane) of Nancy Allen, which is ceaselessly clumsy and stupid (though I have to say, Nancy Allen is sexy as hell). Robert Stack, Toshiro Mifune, Christopher Lee, and Warren Oates, despite game efforts from them all, are among those who might as well not have bothered showing up.

And it's so long!* I watched the Director's Cut, which is nearly a full half hour longer than the original, and I find it hard to believe any of the extra 28 minutes were essential (certainly no more so than the original 118). Before the movie hit the two hour mark (and it stretches almost to two and a half), I was yelling at the screen, "When does this damn movie end?" It ends 40 minutes after I've lost all patience with it, that's when it ends.

I did get one great thrill from this movie, during the end credits: someone I know was in it! Steven Mond, an old friend of mine from Cal, plays one of Ned Beatty's rambunctious kids. You may know Steve as Arnold's red-haired pal Robbie from Diff'rent Strokes, if you know him at all; he quit acting in his early teens. He turned into one hell of a great bowler, I can tell you that much, and he was (and I'm sure still is) a hell of a nice and funny guy. Hmm... I wonder what Steve's up to these days? Powers of the internet, I command you: find Steve Mond! Hey, Steve! Leave a comment!

Well, now I've seen 1941, so I never have to do that again. Hopefully I'll catch Kingdom of the Crystal Skull this weekend, so I can see a good Spielberg movie.

*That's what she said.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Shout out!

Today's Questionable Content reveals my secret origin:

Click to view biggie size on original site.

Now that you know, please do not clone me.

Haloscan Wackiness

Something weird has been happening with the Haloscan comments on this blog over the past few days. The last half dozen comments or so sometimes appear, sometimes don't. Sometimes the posts say there is a comment, but when you click on the link, no comment appears in the pop-up box. Sometimes the reverse happens. And it keeps changing.

I'm not erasing your comments! Hopefully Haloscan will get this glitch fixed soon.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rory Root

Rory Root, a legend among comics retailers, a goodwill ambassador to the non-comics inclined, and a tireless promoter of the artform -- the literature -- that he loved, passed away this week.

I was going to say this in a comment at Mike's blog, but since I recently seem to have acquired a reputation as a retailer hater, I thought it might be best to share my thoughts here.

Comic Relief was my comics shop of choice during my Bay Area years. I probably spent more on comics in Rory's shop during my four years at Cal than on all the comics I've bought ever since. Hell, I probably spent more time in Rory's shop than in any other single structure in Berkeley, including any given classroom. Comic Relief is where I met such luminaries as Grant Morrison, and Neil Gaiman, and Dave McKean -- first through their works, and then in person. Comic Relief isn't where I first fell in love with comics, but it's where my relationship with and respect for comics and their creators blossomed.

Most of my expectations of comic books and comic retailers were formed there, as were most of my best comics-related memories. It's the second best comics shop I've ever been to (a friend of mine runs the first). I didn't know Rory very well, other than by sight, and by reputation, and by his imprint on that hugely important and influential establishment, but this is a shock and a sadness nonetheless.

My deepest sympathies to his friends and family.

My Unfair Previews, Fall 2008: ABC & The CW


Amazingly, ABC is only introducing two new shows this Fall, so I'm combining them with the CW, which has three. Let's hope that among them, they produce one show worth keeping.

--On Tuesdays, ABC brings us Opportunity Knocks, which looks to be a combination reality/game show. The show comes to your home, sets up shop in your neighborhood, and asks you questions based on how well you know your friends and family. Which counts a misanthropist like me right out.

Actually, this looks like an interesting concept, provided they go the family friendly route suggested by the preview site ("Who last loaded the dishwasher?"), rather than, say, the Fox Moment of Truth way ("Have you ever cheated on your husband?"). Not that I would ever consider watching it, but I appreciate the effort. Strikes against it: produced by Ashton Kutcher; hosted by former Sex Wars host JD Roth.

--And on Thursday, we have Life on Mars, which has had troubles before even making it to the air. The pilot was written and executive produced by David E. Kelley, but he has been removed from the show now that it's gone to series. The show is a real stretch: not only is it an adaptation of a popular British program, it's pretty damn weird, involving a modern police detective who is somehow zapped back in time to 1972, where he's still a cop, and trying to solve a case which may or may not help him find his girlfriend, who went missing in 2008. Got it? Hope so, because 90% of America won't. I'm guessing six episodes and out.

Which is a shame. Seems intriguing, with a cast I mainly like, including Star Trek: The Next Generation's Colm Meaney, Lenny Clarke from The John Larroquette Show and The Job, and Rachelle Lefevre, who was so great in... okay, she's just really, really pretty. So sue me. I think I'd like this show to succeed. But it won't. Oh, man, will this tank.

--First up on the CW: Tuesday's 90210, which is tearing me apart. On the one hand, it's produced by Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) and a couple of the writers from Freaks and Geeks, and it features Lori Loughlin, who is adorable, and Arrested Development's Jessica Walter, who is awesome. On the other hand -- it's 9021fucking0. Good Christ.

I think I'm out. It'll probably be a huge hit for the CW, but I just don't think I can do it, even with what presumably will be a certain amount of talent in the writing. I watched way too much of the original, back in my college and post-college days, and it was awful as hell even when it was aimed at someone my age. Now that it's aimed at someone half my age -- no, I can't bring myself to watch this crap, not twice. I'm out.

--Right after 90210 is Surviving the Filthy Rich, a title which I like. But I don't see much else to like here. A wannabe journalist Yale grad becomes live-in tutor (live-in tutor?) to a cosmetics mogul's twin daughters... I'm already tuning out. It doesn't help that one of the daughters is played by Jaime's shitty, hateful little sister on The Bionic Woman. I'm betting this show will be as dead as that one by December.

--Next: Stylista, a title which instantly makes me hate the show, for some reason. And looking at the details, it appears to be a mash-up of The Apprentice and America's Next Top Model, with Tyra Banks producing. Hey, I was right to hate it! I don't watch reality shows, so this one never had a chance, but even if I did -- this one never had a chance. I can't imagine a premise more guaranteed to make me change the channel. Unless it was hosted by Tila Tequila.

Tomorrow, CBS.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Unfair Previews, Fall 2008: NBC

Hey folks! The TV networks have unveiled their Fall schedules, which means it's time for me to mercilessly mock them, sight unseen, based only on their titles, casts, and capsule summaries on their respective websites. It's completely unfair and totally inaccurate, except in the cases where I call a show awful and it turns out actually to be awful, which is about 80% of the time.

We're kicking things off with NBC, who got the jump on the other networks, which all revealed their Fall lineups last week. NBC revealed their Fall lineup several weeks ago, for some reason. Way to shake things up, Peacock! Let's see what you've shat out for us this year.

--Kicking off the week is My Own Worst Enemy, which stars Christian Slater. The easy thing to do would be to immediately rip on Slater. I'm better than that: I'm going to save it for the next paragraph. The concept here is that Slater is a suburban everyman with an alternate personality, one which is a super spy. When the dividing line between the two personalities begins to erode, hilarity and/or action-packed drama presumably ensue.

Sounds terrible. And somewhat familiar: NBC is already exploring a similar fish out of water/spy concept with Chuck (which I actually like, and I'm glad to see will be back next season). This won't make it to 2009. And as promised, here is the cheap (but obligatory) slam on Slater: The website describes the super spy personality as "an operative who speaks thirteen languages, runs a four-minute mile, and is trained to kill with his teeth." With his teeth? Typecasting!

--On Tuesdays is Kath and Kim, a remake of what is apparently the most popular comedy in Australian TV history, about a wacky mom and her spoiled daughter. Bear in mind, however, that Australians are a bunch of crazy bastards. Also bear in mind that foreign programs translated to American TV are a very dangerous proposition. For every The Office, there are half a dozen Couplings.

But I can see this working. Molly Shannon is Kath, and I like Molly Shannon when her mania is properly channeled. Unfortunately, most of the time it is not, and she is irritating as hell. Selma Blair is Kim, and I love Selma Blair. A lot. So there's not the intense whiff of doom about this show as the rest of NBC's offerings, but it's still got just the slimmest of chances to succeed. Also, Molly Shannon is only eight years older than Selma Blair, so that's kind of a burn on Shannon.

--Let me ask you: what was the single worst thing to air on television over the past season? I'll bet more than half of you said the new Knight Rider TV movie, even if you didn't watch it. Even if you didn't know it existed -- that's how bad it was. Even I could only watch five minutes of it, that's how immediately and obviously awful the very idea of this revival was. Clearly, NBC knows better than we do: they loved it so much, they want to turn it into a regular series -- and air it twice a week. I'm not kidding: new episodes Wednesdays, repeats on Saturdays. Why do you hate us, NBC?

What other tidbits can be gleaned about this impending disaster? Well, KITT now morphs into three different cars, making the show essentially an hour-long commercial for half the Ford line. And NBC's website proudly displays many photos from the movie's premiere party at the Playboy mansion, including this one, which appears to be of several topless women who have had the words "Knight Rider" spray-painted onto their breasts:

You stay classy, Bruce Davison.

Classy, NBC. (Hey, I never claimed this site was classy.)

One last, practically unrelated note: I once watched an episode of the original Knight Rider in Spain. It was entirely dubbed into Spanish (of which I speak barely a word), and it was retitled El Coche Fantastico. And it was awesome.

--Finally, on Thursday there is Crusoe, which apparently is actually based on the Daniel Defoe novel, rather than just stealing the name (which I was assuming). Dude gets shipwrecked for 28 years, makes friends with Friday. Good in book form, but not exactly the kind of thing you want to follow in series form, unless there are some generous liberties taken with the structure. It's hard to tell from the meager info NBC has provided whether the island parts are flashbacks, or if it's really just Crusoe and Friday hanging out week after week, fishing, competing in immunity challenges, avoiding the smoke monster, etc. In fact, no cast info has even been given, which isn't a promising sign. I know the pilot season was delayed by the writers strike, but to not even have an actor attached is pretty slapdash. This won't last six episodes. Unless there really is a smoke monster.

And that's it, only four new shows for the Fall launch. The networks are making a big stink about how they're shaking up the Fall season format, and deliberately holding back more shows than ever for the midseason. But I just can't bring myself to go through those shows, too -- not now, at least. Maybe a big round-up post at the end of the week. There's only so much I can take at one time.

Coming soon: ABC, the CW, CBS, and Fox. In that order.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Peace, Love and Hard Liquor

The TV networks came out with their Fall line-ups this past week, and I have yet to get around to writing up my traditional Unfair Previews (see the sidebar for previous years). Once again, Austin fun has been overriding my blogging time. For example, Friday night I finally got to see Iron Man at the Alamo Drafthouse, the greatest movie theater chain in the world. And Thursday night I went out to the Continental Club to see a fantastic double bill:

When you're in Lubbock, any man'll do

That's Lynda Kay Parker on the left, cute as can be, with an amazing voice and playing tenor guitar and kickdrum suitcase (!), and the incredible Danny B. Harvey on lead guitar. They play some awesome rockabilly with a great sense of humor behind it. I'd never heard of them before, but by the time they were done I was a big fan, and I would've been well-entertained if that were the entire show. But fortunately, there was even more:

The King of Country Western Troubadours

Looking like an undead cowboy, with his trademark vampire teeth and fake black eyebrows and muttonchops, Unknown knocked my socks off from the very first second he stepped on stage. This guy is incredible, both funny as hell and a wickedly talented guitar player -- my jaw dropped watching his hands blur on that guitar, most especially during a ten minute-long cover of "Manic Depression." He's a psychobilly maniac with both hilarious send-ups of country-western cliches ("(I Can't Believe You're) Pregnant Again," "I Ain't Afraid Of Your Husband") and face melting straight-up rockers (such as "Rock 'N' Roll Is Straight From Hell"). Hank Williams III has a tattoo of Unknown on his arm. Tom Petty once cornered Unknown backstage to ask how he gets his sound. Oh, and for you Adult Swim fans, he's the voice of Early on Squidbillies. If you don't know this guy, you really should make the effort, and make sure you see him when he comes to your town. I guarantee you will be entertained.

My point is, I'll get to my Unfair Previews next week.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Iron Man

Best superhero movie ever? No. (I still say Spider-Man 2, followed by Superman and Superman II.)

Really damn great superhero movie? Hell yeah!

I'm sure I'm the last person in America, let alone the blogging world, to see this movie, but I'm throwing up a SPOILER ALERT anyway, for reasons I will soon make clear.

First of all, what a brilliant cast. Robert Downey, Jr. is off-the-charts amazing as Tony Stark. Just a pleasure to watch, every single second. The film overall is strong, but Downey propels it to another level entirely. I love Gwyneth Paltrow, and while she doesn't have a lot to do here as Tony's loyal, smitten assistant Pepper Potts, she helps bring some humanity to the film and certainly brings plenty of chemistry to her scenes with Downey. Terrence Howard is great as Tony's military pal Jim Rhodes (who, if we're playing by the comic book's background, is destined to don armor as well, and become the superhero War Machine); in fact, casting Howard in this role is bordering on overkill (same with Paltrow). And Jeff Bridges is tremendously satisfying as the villainous Obadiah Stane, a warmongering weapons manufacturer -- kind of the anti-Lebowski (sorry to drop that name again, which I feel I've done a lot of over the past year, but I've watched The Big Lebowski enough now for me to associate Bridges primarily with that character). Bridges is a great actor, and he helps to elevate a cartoonishly obvious villain far beyond the script.

Let me make clear, though: I'm not slamming the script. It's a tight and thrilling two hours, and I was never close to bored. An evil industrialist is cartoonishly obvious, yes, but the script doles out Obadiah's villainy in appropriately increasing increments, and Bridges sells the hell out of it. Downey's transformation from shallow playboy to... slightly less shallow playboy with a conscience (my favorite line comes after his transformative experience in captivity: as he enters the big gala, he responds to a beautiful woman's plea, "Remember me?" with a callous, "Sure don't!") plays out quite well; it's believable, from the writing and the performance, that Tony never even gave a thought to how his weapons might be misused until his face was rubbed right in it, until he saw American soldiers and civilian innocents threatened and killed (not to mention getting himself near-mortally wounded) by the weapons he built and sold.

And the direction is also fantastic. I haven't seen director Jon Favreau's space adventure Zathura, which is the only thing on his resume that comes close to the FX-loaded Iron Man, so I was incredibly impressed to find he had the skills to pull off a blockbuster like this. It's obvious he cares as much about the characters, maybe more (probably much more), as he does about the big whiz-bang action scenes, which is exactly the opposite of most blockbuster directors, who treat story and characters as excuses to get to explosions. Favreau also blatantly mimics (or homages) Robert Altman's signature overlapping dialogue throughout the film, which creates, with its attempt to mirror the reality of everyday conversations, a significantly different feel from any other superhero movie ever filmed. That said: he still blowed up shit real good.

What didn't I like about the film? Not much I can put my finger on. The Afghani terrorist villains were a bit uninteresting and generic, though I enjoyed the fact that the terror network was called the Ten Rings. And I don't think the main terrorist was ever definitively killed off -- does that mean he'll return in the sequel as the Mandarin? (As I had to explain to my non-comics reading buddy after the movie, and as I will now explain to the non-comics readers among you, the Mandarin is one of Iron Man's greatest enemies; his power comes from ten rings, one on each finger, each of which has a different super-cool effect.) But other than that... it was missing a certain je ne sais quoi, is about the best I can explain it. I loved it, but it's not immediately selling me on the whole "best superhero movie ever" thing. I'd like to see it again (and probably will many times on DVD), and see if it can convince me, because I have the feeling I could be convinced. There's just something a little bit off about it -- a vague feeling that it's falling short of some threshold of epicness I was expecting -- that's making me withhold that ultimate stamp of approval.

Oh, and as for that last shot, after the credits -- hell yes, I loved seeing me some Samuel L. Motherfucking Jackson as Nick Fury. Sadly, the fact that this was going to happen was spoiled for me by, of all people, Sean T. Collins, which is disappointingly uncharacteristic of him. I mean, check his spoiler alerts for this post about Lost, or this other Lost post, in which he takes care to edit out character names from events that happened seasons ago. Or this recent post in which he laments another blogger's spoiling of M. Night Shyamalan's upcoming film The Happening. I'm not trying to be a dick or call you out or anything, Sean, but -- come on, man!!! Your blog was the last place I expected to see a spoiler like that. (Whether the revelation of an actor and the character he's playing in a ten-second cameo is a legitimate spoiler or not, you may all debate -- but I vote yes. Saying there's something after the credits that has to be seen: no. Saying exactly what it is: yes.) Hence, the spoiler alert on the top of this post. Because you just never know.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

So you can take that cameo and stick it up your YEAH!!

I watched this week's episode of House on TiVo last night. It was a tremendous episode, smartly written, tensely dramatic, with a scarily realistic bus smash-up and a great twist at the end. Plus former OoMA Lisa Edelstein in a sexy schoolgirl outfit. That ain't bad. But it all leaves me with one nagging question:

What in the hell was up with that Fred Durst cameo?

And cameo it was, despite his high billing in the opening credits -- he even got a "with!" As in: "with Fred Durst." And all he did was hang out behind the bar in one scene, and speak two words: "You are." The average performer has to speak more than two words to qualify as more than an uncredited extra! Fred Durst speaks two words, and he gets a "with!" Does SAG know about this?

The way this episode wound up, it looks like the story is a two-parter, continued next week, with House still trying to recover his memory. So I imagine he'll have to go back to the bar and speak to bartender Fred Durst, to try to fill in the gaps. I guess that's where Durst will earn his screen credit. Uh... hooray?

Still: Why? Why Fred Durst? Are he and Hugh Laurie drinking buddies? And why that role? If they're doing stunt-casting, why not have him do something a bit flashier? Like Dave Matthews did a while back? Which reminds me: Why Dave Matthews?? What is with this show? I think the casting director makes decisions based on his iPod's shuffle mode! "We've got to cast the role of a neurosurgeon who also suffers from Tourette's syndrome. [listens to earbuds] Hey, what's the lead singer of the Spin Doctors up to these days?"

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Graphic Nudity

I've noticed something a little disappointing about movie ratings recently: if you see the words "graphic nudity" in the ratings advisory for an R-rated film, it almost certainly isn't referring to female nudity. It means you're going to see a wiener. And to me, this is disappointing for two reasons: #1, I like seeing naked women, and I don't like seeing naked men. And #2, it suggests a lingering fear and taboo of male nudity, coupled with a permissive attitude toward female nudity, which indicates an undeniable and disturbing societally approved homophobia running rampant in American cinema (bearing in mind that most of our movies are made by and for straight men). And yes, I'm aware that there's a whiff of hypocrisy when you contrast my #1 and #2 reasons, so you don't have to point it out to me.

You don't see the graphic nudity tag often. But when you do, it almost always means a man has gotten naked. We're used to naked women in movies. You have to get pretty extreme for a woman's nudity to earn a "graphic." (Though it does happen every once in a while, as in Babel or Broken Flowers or Dr. T and the Women, none of which, to my knowledge, feature any male nudity. And how the hell is Dr. T's fleeting, barely visible nudity "graphic," anyway?) But for some reason, a man's nudity is so inherently shocking and disturbing, it demands being labelled "graphic." Check out this brief list of films, all of which acquired "graphic nudity" status due to the visibility of male genitalia, and almost all of which use that nudity for humor rather than sexuality.

Walk Hard: Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language. Don't expect to be seeing Jenna Fischer's lady parts. What this means is you get to see a close-up of some dude's wang behind John C. Reilly as he talks on the phone.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Rated R for sexual content, language and some graphic nudity. Think that means a naked romp involving Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis? Nope, it means you'll be getting up close and personal with Jason Segel's bait and tackle. Twice.

Sex and the City: The Movie: Rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language. Frankly, it's a wild guess on this one, since I haven't seen the movie. Not because it hasn't come out yet, but because I would rather die than see it. But my powers of deduction tell me that since this is a film made by and for gay men (and maybe a couple of women), and since no female nudity on the TV show could ever have been described as "graphic," the rating suggests one or more naked dingalings. Prove me wrong!

Angels and Insects: Rated R for strong sexuality and graphic nudity. This is going back a ways -- 1995 -- but it's a notable film for the fact that it may be the first (and possibly the last) theatrically released R-rated film to feature an erect penis.

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay: Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, pervasive language and drug use. I have yet to see it, but apparently it features a dong or two.

Fur: Rated R for graphic nudity, some sexuality and language. I haven't seen this, nor has anyone else who wasn't in it, probably. But I understand there are a couple scenes set at a nudist camp, at which some bare dorks are visible.

Borat: Rated R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language. Sure, Pamela Anderson's in the movie. I can't blame you for thinking this means she'll be recreating one of her Playboy layouts. What it actually means is you'll be treated to a view of every single inch of Ken Davitian's body.

Damn, America, why you so afraid of willies? Of course, some of these films also contain female nudity, but that's not what earns them the "graphic" label. Somehow, male naughty bits are just more graphic than female naughty bits. So watch out for that "graphic nudity" label: it more than likely doesn't mean what you want it to mean. (Assuming you want it to mean what I want it to mean.)

Friday, May 09, 2008


Coming to America on July 22nd:



For the first time in North America, all 14 episodes of this absolutely brilliant sitcom are coming to DVD. Featuring new commentary tracks from Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Bill Hader, Matt Stone, Patton Oswalt, and Diablo Cody, at least half of which are deserving of such an honor.

I admit, I'm a bit worried about what musical changes may have been necessary due to rights issues, a la WKRP. But that's a small concern. The bottom line is, we are all happy this is finally happening, and we will be a better country for it.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Lyrics Quiz 3 Winners

It's a tie! With three correct answers each, Bill Sherman and The Eyeball Kid (possibly not his real name) split the honors. Congratulations! A golden trophy and a satchel full of a million dollars for each of you are being flown direct to you on my private Lear Jet. And Gordon was just edged out of a three-way tie by naming the wrong Pretenders song. So close!

A good showing for everyone who entered. I threw some kind of unusual songs out there this time, and you got all but two: "When the Morning Comes," by one of my all-time favorites, Hoyt Axton (study up on Hoyt, folks, he will appear in future quizzes!), and "Mike Post Theme," by the Who, off their most recent album, Endless Wire, which I think no one in America has listened to except me and SamuraiFrog.

Hope you guys are still enjoying these quizzes, because I sure get a kick out of them. Plus, easy content filler when I can't think of anything else!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

It's Nitpick Corner

[Opening theme music]


On today's Nitpick Corner: "Handlebars," by the Flobots.

In the song "Handlebars," by the Flobots, there is a line which goes:

And I can split the atom of a molecule
Of a molecule
Of a molecule
This demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of atoms and molecules.

[Closing theme music]


Monday, May 05, 2008

Lyrics Quiz 3

Here we go with Lyrics Quiz #3! It feels like kind of a weird one to me. See what you think.

As always, provide the name of the song and the artist in the comments. And no Googling, or Cthulu will get you!

And happy Cinco de Mayo!

1. "You're the Great One, I'm Marty McSorley." Kathleen Edwards, "I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory" (Peter)

2. "Taurus: Contemplate domestic turmoil. Aquarius: Abandon hope for future plans." They Might Be Giants, "Hide Away Folk Family" (The Eyeball Kid)

3. "Sense of security, like pockets jingling." Faith No More, "Midlife Crisis" (Davinder)

4. "But I'm proud to recall that in no time at all, with no other recourses but my own resources, with firm application and determination, I made a fool of myself!" Danny Kaye, "The Maladjusted Jester" (The Eyeball Kid)

5. "Gee, our old LaSalle ran great." All in the Family, "Those Were the Days (Bill Sherman)

6. "And Thor said, 'I'm gonna kill 'em all with my hammer, like I killed the giants.'" Hedwig and the Angry Inch soundtrack, "Origin of Love" (PhilipF)

7. "You were the best thing I should never have seen." The Pretenders, "Human" (Gordon and Catherine)

8. "Grade on a curve and you'll observe I'm right below the horizon." They Might Be Giants, "Boss of Me" (The Eyeball Kid)

9. "With a gun and a rope and a hatful of hope, we planted our family tree." Bonanza, "Bonanza Theme" (Gordon)

10. "A brave man once requested me to answer questions that are key." Johnny Mandel, "Suicide Is Painless" (Monty)

11. "Por el camino del desierto el viento me despeina." Gipsy Kings, "Hotel California" (Todd C. Murry)

12. "I tripped on a cloud and fell eight miles high, I tore my mind on a jagged sky." Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" (Josh)

13. "The monkeys stand for honesty, giraffes are insincere." Simon & Garfunkel, "At the Zoo" (Noel Murray)

14. "You asked me why I came here, but you're the one who phoned." Hoyt Axton, "When the Morning Comes"

15. "They needed a man who was brave and true with justice for all as his aim." Frankie Laine, "Blazing Saddles" (Bill Sherman)

16. "The noonday train will bring Frank Miller; if I'm a man I must be brave." Tex Ritter, "Do Not Forsake Me (The Ballad of High Noon)" (Dr. K)

17. "Here I am like a kid at a school, holding hands with a god, I'm a fool." Maureen McGovern, "Can You Read My Mind?" (SamuraiFrog)

18. "There's such a lot of world to see." Audrey Hepburn, "Moon River" (Gordon)

19. "There's not a line that goes here that rhymes with anything." Camper Van Beethoven, "Take the Skinheads Bowling" (Bill Sherman)

20. "There comes a time in every little punk's life when he has to write a song for his common-law wife." The Who, "Mike Post Theme"

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Hey Stinky!

New lyrics quiz tomorrow. It's gonna be kind of a weird one, I think. That is all.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Bah humbug!

Clearly, I've been spoiled by so many years of having the awesome Ralph's Comic Corner as my local comics shop. Here's how Free Comic Book Day works at Ralph's: you walk in and Mike gives you three big bags full of every single free comic available. No muss, no fuss.

Here's how it works at Austin Books, which has a reputation as one of the best comics shops in the country, let alone just Austin: you walk in and see piles of comics spread out all over the front desk. So you have to pick them out yourself. And when you do, an employee snottily informs you that you can only take ten. And when you leave, you get stopped by a couple of other employees stationed by the door who fastidiously count the books you've chosen, to make sure you weren't planning on stealing an 11th "free" comic!

Ten! Out of forty available titles. And many of the titles (as listed in this article) weren't available at all, such as the three Neotopia graphic novels which I was especially interested in checking out.

So I went to Dragon's Lair, another comics shop near my house. And I found just a handful of free comics available, less than ten titles in all, randomly scattered over several tables. I was there before 11 AM, less than an hour after the store had opened, and already they were nearly out of everything. At least the employees there didn't treat me like a thief.

I never realized how well Ralph's was taking care of their customers, what with, you know, planning ahead and everything. Making sure they ordered more than enough comics to cover the crowds that would be checking out the event, and making sure they had every title being offered. Plus there was crazy old man Mike to entertain you with stories of the good ol' days.

Anyhoo. I wound up with exactly thirteen comics, which is such a small sampling it hardly seems worth going to the trouble of reviewing them here. (But I probably still will.) At least I know most of the ones I picked will be worthwhile, thanks to this rundown from Dorian.

Oh, and Iron Man was sold out at the Alamo last night. This is turning into a real sucky comics-themed weekend!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Free Comic Book Day tomorrow!

Well, son of a gun. I'm so out of touch with the comics world these days, it took a Salon article to remind me that tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day!

Sweet. I may have cut comics from my meager budget over the past couple years, but that doesn't mean I stopped loving 'em. I can't wait to get my grubby mitts on a bundle of free books tomorrow morning! And you can expect my capsule reviews of them -- which may very well be my only comics-related writing for the year (frowny face!) -- to appear shortly thereafter.

Plus, tonight I'm going to see Iron Man at the Alamo Drafthouse. It's a whole comics-themed weekend!

Because you've all been wondering

I finished it!

Well, the main storyline portion of it, anyway. Which puts me at only 60% complete for the whole game, what with all the miscellaneous goofiness (jumps, races, etc.) I have yet to get to. Since I'm sure not getting that Playstation 3 (and Grand Theft Auto IV) any time soon, guess I'll get to work on all that stuff now.

Or I could go outside, and interact with people, and whatnot. We'll see.

Quick Blogger Complaint

When I started this blog, I was in California, on Pacific time. Now I'm in Austin, on Central time. When I write a post, the timestamp on it is still Pacific time. Here's my problem: if I manually change the time on the post to the accurate local time, Blogger thinks I'm postdating it, and holds off on publishing it for two hours, to match California time. (I think this is a new thing; I could swear this wasn't happening a week ago.) But if I change my account settings to Central time, Blogger wants to go back and adjust the time on all my posts ever. Which, in many cases, would actually change the date on the post, too, since I often publish late at night, between 10 PM and midnight. And I don't want that.

Here, look at this post: I'm leaving the timestamp on it as is, which means it will publish well before the post I wrote a half hour ago. I'm time traveling!

It's just irritating, is all. Felt like sharing. You're welcome.

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