Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

So much for being back to blogging on Wednesday. Here it is Friday, and Halloween to boot, and I got nothin. Sorry.

I'm going to shop for my costume now (Hawkeye from M*A*S*H, have I mentioned that yet?). I also buy gifts on Christmas Eve. I am not a plan-ahead holiday kind of guy.

Have some good clean shenanigans tonight, folks. Make sure you eat so much candy you get sick, because how else will you know you had fun?


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sidebar Update

Before I leave for a few days to visit family in Colorado, I thought I'd leave you with one of my much anticipated Sidebar Updates, which you all know and love so well.

Speaking of Olivia Wilde (which I was last post), she is the current Object of My Affection, because why not? She is lovely as the day is long. Plus she totally kissed a girl in the last episode of House. Sweet!

Still reading Infinite Jest, of course. Page 369. Glad I have a plane trip today to get more uninterrupted reading time.

Watching a lot of Countdown with Keith Olbermann lately. I don't watch much "real" news on TV, mostly I just get it online and watch The Daily Show. But Olbermann's been doing some great stuff leading up to the election. His Special Comments are always essential viewing. Slanted to the left? Of course! But when every other TV news outlet is slanted to the right -- when even CNN can't be bothered to do much more than parrot White House press briefings -- it's a breath of fresh air.

Listening to Unknown Hinson's The Future Is Unknown. Great psychobilly music with a comedic twist, featuring songs such as "Peace, Love and Hard Liquor," "I Ain't Afraid of Your Husband," and "I Cleaned Out a Room (In My Trailer For You)." He's still the best live act I've seen in Austin, and that's saying something.

Hating: same doofus, different picture.

And the Lyric of the Moment, in honor of my impending flight to Colorado, is from Warren Zevon's "Things To Do in Denver When You're Dead."

Time to pack, folks. See you again Wednesday!

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

More TV Rundown

Yesterday, I said that the new season of The Shield has been a little weak so far. Then I finally got around to watching this week's episode on TiVo.

Holy hell. Now that was what I was looking for! Talk about gut-wrenching. I barely took a breath from beginning (with Shane setting his plan to murder Ronnie and Vic into motion) to end (with Shane and family on the run, and every sin the Strike Team has ever committed on the verge of spilling out). How's that for raising the stakes? Brilliant, brilliant episode, highlighted by Shane's wild-eyed caged animal routine, punctuated by his flight from the Barn, and his evil wife Lady Macbeth -- I mean Maya -- confronting Vic's ex-wife.

What else am I watching?

--I've settled into regular viewing of House, which I used to watch sporadically at best, and it's been very enjoyable this year. I have to admit, I like the new team better than the old one -- in fact, I'd prefer Chase and Cameron just disappear entirely, rather than popping up in a random scene once an episode to remind us they still exist. I always love seeing Kal Penn, so his role as Kutner on the new team is much appreciated, and I like Taub a great deal as well. And as for Thirteen -- well, Olivia Wilde is just damn easy on the eyes, folks. Not that Cameron isn't, as well, but I feel like her character has been run into the ground. I'd also like to see the return of Lucas, the P.I. House hired this season, who last we saw was trying to start a relationship with Cuddy. (I haven't watched this week's episode, so maybe he's back already.) That could get interesting. Plus, I like the actor, who played Private Dancer on Scrubs last year.

--Pushing Daisies is amiable fluff. It's always gorgeous to look at, and I like the characters, and I get a kick out of the rapid-fire dialogue, but... I don't know, it just never quite gets over that wall. I'll keep watching it, but I think if I skipped an episode, I wouldn't cry.

--My Name Is Earl is just about done. After squandering all goodwill with that season-long prison/coma digression last year, I find that I'm now watching it out of habit, and not laughing very often. The Office, on the other hand, is still brilliant. Jim and Pam's engagement was handled perfectly, Amy Ryan is a terrific addition as Holly, the new object of Michael's affection, and the triangle between Dwight, Angela, and Andy is excruciatingly hilarious.

--Two imports have left wildly divergent impressions on me. I had high hopes for Kath & Kim, but the first episode was so unbearable I deleted it after five minutes. And I thought Life on Mars didn't have a hope in hell of succeeding, but I've loved the first two episodes, with Michael Imperioli's weaselly detective being the standout, and I look forward to more. I still don't see how they can extend the premise indefinitely, but I'm more than willing to see where it goes.

And there's probably some more stuff, but let's stop here. Any TV you've been especially loving or hating so far this season?

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

TV Rundown

A few brief thoughts on some current TV:

--I keep coming this close to giving up on Heroes, and then still watching, and hating, the next episode. Well, I forgot to set up the DVR for Monday night, and I missed the last episode. And I don't care. That's the push I needed: I'm out. How unbelievably awful has this season been, seriously? It's atrocious. And I'm glad to be rid of it.

--Unfortunately, I also forgot to record Chuck and My Own Worst Enemy. Chuck has been pretty damn good this year. As for My Own Worst Enemy -- I actually still haven't watched the first episode yet, so I don't know if I'm really missing anything there. I know some people were eagerly anticipating this show. Anybody watching it? Anybody liking it?

--I also also forgot to record Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother. Monday is a busy TV night! I can wait for the Big Bang episode to come around again during reruns, but HIMYM is essential viewing for me, one of my five or so favorite shows currently airing. I'm going to have to track that one down online (hopefully it's already up at It's been a little wobbly in the early going this season, but it's always worth watching just to see how Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders play off one another. Great comedic chemistry between those two. And I do love me some Sarah Chalke, but it's obvious she's not the mother, so every time she shows up it feels a little like the show is just killing time until the inevitable breakup.

--I quit on Sons of Anarchy. It's good, but not great, despite some kickass performances from Ron Perlman and Katey Sagal. I've been cutting back on TV this year (hard to believe), and Anarchy never quite made it into that essential viewing category for me.

--The Shield, on the other hand, is in that category, but this final season has been, dare I say it, comparatively weak so far. All the nonsense with the magic Blackmail Box is getting old. And Vic's deal with the Armenian mob was so stupid it was laughable: I stole millions from you, but I'll give you three wishes and we'll call it even. Shyeah, right. But there've been some brilliant moments in there as well, mostly involving Shane. I was thrilled to see Tavon return and put Shane in his place -- that's been coming for about four years. And Shane's moment of realization that Vic and Ronnie had set him up was terrific. Only five episodes left of one of the greatest crime dramas ever. Things should start getting really ugly, really quickly.

More tomorrow. I'm going to track down that HIMYM episode now.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tweet this.

Yeah, as you can see over on Ye Olde Sidebarre, I signed up for Twitter. And there was much rejoicing.

It's gonna take me a while to figure out who all of you folks have Twitter and that I should be following. Let me know if I miss you. And please feel free to sign up to follow me. At least my Twitter updates should be more frequent than my blog updates.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

More YouTube? Yes, more YouTube.

From the people too stupid to live who brought you instructions on toothpick boxes and "HOT" labels on hot coffee comes this latest moronic warning:

At the very beginning of the commercial, at the bottom of the screen in tiny type, it actually says the following:


The sad thing is, if they hadn't included that warning, which essentially says, "This fake scene cribbed from a horror movie is not intended to be taken literally, dummy," some idiot -- or even more likely, some dick deliberately playing the idiot -- would have found some way to sue DirecTV over this.

Somehow I want to blame Bush for this. Can I blame Bush? I blame Bush.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Yes, it fills me up, smart ass... with awful, awful beer

Two things about this commercial:

1. That girl is really cute, even is she does use her miraculous ability to control time in order to be condescending about awful beer.

2. In the final seconds of the commercial, when the "Drinkability" logo appears... it looks like the logo is peeing on itself.

Oh jeez, Drinkability had another accident.

If you watch the commercial again, you'll notice the puddle between the K and the A spreads. Kind of like Drinkability's bladder let loose after a few too many Bud Lights. I guess if I were to be generous, I would guess that that expanding pool is really supposed to indicate frozen ice (?). Or something? But whatever the intent, it looks like the logo is pissing itself. Which is not a good image to associate with a beer.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

That's tough titty, kid.

Levi Stubbs, lead singer of the Four Tops, dead at 72.

There is no way to underestimate the power and influence of the music of the Four Tops, which is phenomenal. But, as Monty mentioned elsewhere, Levi Stubbs' performance as Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors may be the work for which I best know and admire him.

Little Shop is one of my favorite musicals, endlessly entertaining, with Stubbs' incredible voice perhaps the single most important element of the film -- a film which boasts not only Rick Moranis' finest performance, and Frank Oz's best directorial effort, but which features brilliant smaller roles from Christopher Guest, John Candy, Bill Murray, and of course Steve Martin as well.

In memoriam, here is the original ending of Little Shop, which I believe still has never been officially released in any form, cobbled together into three parts on You Tube. This is the dark, test audience-unapproved ending, aka the "Everybody Dies" ending. It's in black and white, with much of the sound unfinished, but it's worth watching if you're a fan of the film, or if you're a fan of film in general: take a look at that blockbuster finale in part three, and tell me if you think there's ever been more money and effort spent on a final sequence which was cut entirely from a motion picture. (Probably yes, but I can't think of one off the top of my head.)

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008


God damn Dodgers.

My only consolation is the abysmal ratings the likely Tampa Bay/Philadelphia World Series will generate. Coulda been Los Angeles and Boston, and gotten the highest ratings in a decade. Instead, nobody outside of Tampa and Philly will watch, and them only barely. Lesson to be learned: cheat harder, umpires! Ratings = raises!

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

World War Hulk

Hey comics people! If any of you still read this! I have a question for you.

As I may have mentioned here once or twice, I've all but given up on a weekly comics fix. But I still buy the random graphic novel here and there because, even if I can't support a weekly habit, I will always have a love for the dang things. (No matter how many times I get hurt by the many, many awful comics out there.)

One of the last comics collections I picked up before nearly completely swearing off comics for over a year was Planet Hulk, the massive hardback collection of the Hulk-in-space storyline by Greg Pak.

I found Planet Hulk to be tremendously entertaining and well-written, easily the best Hulk storyline since Peter David was in charge. So naturally I was greatly interested in the immediate follow-up to the story, World War Hulk. However, as I believe I've already mentioned, I'm not into the whole weekly comics-buying thing anymore. So I decided to wait until the story was over, and the trades came out.

Well, the trades are out now, and I need advice from you comics readers. What should I read? Because there are a lot of tie-ins. A lot. Obviously, I need to get the main book, World War Hulk. But how essential are any of the tangential collections?

I might be best off if I limit myself to the tie-ins authored by Pak. Like, say, Incredible Hercules (which I'm not entirely sure is a tie-in, or rather more of a sequel). But what about:

World War Hulk: Frontline
World War Hulk: Gamma Corps
World War Hulk: X-Men
World War Hulk: Aftersmash

I can probably answer the question, "Are any of these necessary to my enjoyment of the main story?" on my own: no. Absolutely not. Tie-ins are never essential. But are any of them worthwhile? Are any of them actually good? I love the Hulk. And I would love to read good writers creating good stories involving the Hulk. Greg Pak writes a darn fine Hulk. What about those other series?

And what about the tie-ins to other series not specifically created for this event:

Avengers: The Initiative
Ghost Rider
Heroes For Hire
Iron Man
Irredeemable Ant-Man
The Punisher War Journal

Anything worth picking up there? Or any other titles I might be overlooking? For example, I left out the She-Hulk tie-in (which, now that I think about it, may actually have been a tie-in to Planet Hulk rather than WWH) because I'm already a fan of Dan Slott's work on that book, and I'll be picking it up eventually regardless of its crossover relevance. Want to recommend anything else on (or off) that list?

Also, check me if I'm wrong here, but as I understand it, Greg Pak has quit writing the Hulk now, and instead it's Jeph Loeb who is writing about a red Hulk. I don't need any advice on that one: skip it! Jeph Loeb stinks.

Help me out here, folks! Give me a little advice. Who knows, maybe this will help me get back into comics full-time, the way Peter David and Todd McFarlane's run on The Incredible Hulk did for me way back in college (which was, holy cow, 20 full years ago!).

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Obama-McCain 2: Electric Boogaloo

Here's tonight's debate drinking game, which is much simpler than the Palin Bingo drinking game:

Drink every time that crazy old bastard McCain makes you want to. You win when you can't hear his lies anymore.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

My Ideal Crossword Puzzle

Even though the panel cuts it off, I can tell the clue for 1 Down is PART MAN, 3 Down is PART MACHINE, and 4 Down is ALL COP.

From Nothing Nice To Say.

Subsequent callback joke:

Don't tell me, I know this.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

$5 buy-in, $20 payout

The winning card in last night's game of Palin Bingo:

Say 'Pakistan'! Say it, damn your eyes!!!

I did not win.

Say what you will about what a train wreck freak show mockery Palin's selection has made of the whole process, I had eight people over last night for a debate party, and I have never seen, nor do I expect ever again to see, that many people genuinely interested in a Vice Presidential debate. Way to go, Hockey Mom Pit Bull!

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Why are you so stupid, Heroes?

I can't begin to list all they ways in which Heroes has been unbelievably, brain-numbingly stupid thus far this season. But let's hit a few highlights.

Last episode, as Sylar meekly returned to his cell (I'm not even going to touch how ridiculous the "Sylar plays nice" plot thread was), Bennett confided to the Haitian that he was only pretending to accept Sylar as a partner, and that as soon as he found Sylar's weakness, he would kill him.

Hey, Bennett. The Haitian can nullify people's powers. So why don't you HAVE THE HAITIAN TAKE AWAY SYLAR'S POWERS AND THEN SHOOT HIM IN THE FUCKING HEAD??

That might work.

Oh, no, wait, now Sylar supposedly can't ever be killed, because he's got Claire's powers (ignoring for now the fact that the Haitian can take away those powers long enough to burn Sylar into ashes). Except, hold on: we've already seen with Claire and Peter that if the brain is pierced with a foreign object (tree root for Claire, glass shard for Peter), death is permanent until the object is removed. Kill the brain and you kill the ghoul! So again: shoot him in the fucking head. Stupid Bennett. Stupid writers!

Next: take Hiro. Please! (Ha!) His whole stupid, stupid plotline, in which the world is in danger of being destroyed because Hiro was too bored to obey his father and not open a safe, could be resolved if Hiro would just go back in time and prevent his stupid, stupid former self from opening that safe. (How, by the way, to go off on a digressive complaint, how in the world could Daphne -- or, as the AV Club refers to her, Speedy Hot Topic -- know the exact second that Hiro opened that safe and therefore know exactly when to run in and steal the formula? She's fast; she can't see through frickin' walls.)

Anyway: as Hiro told Ando, he would not go back and fix his mistake because going back in time was too dangerous, and he would never do that again. Except, hold on: as we saw earlier in that scene, Hiro was making time skip forward and backward just for fun. Stupid Hiro. Stupid writers!

And then there's Suresh, the stupidest genius in the world. He decided to inject himself with his new superpower serum in a scenario that seemed very familiar to me. Hmmm... maybe that's because the entire thing was stolen directly from Cronenberg's The Fly! Let's break it down: there's the egotistical scientist who makes an amazing breakthrough. There's the girlfriend/soon-to-be-girlfriend warning him about its dangers. The scientist rashly subjects himself to the untested breakthrough. It gives him super strength, makes him euphoric, changes his personality, makes him sexually voracious. And it eventually causes hideous changes in the scientist's body. The whole thing could not have been more blatantly ripped off from Cronenberg. For crying out loud, there was even a scene in which Suresh scaled a wall as though he were a human... fly? Is that the word I'm looking for? Stupid Suresh. Thieving writers!

There are a hundred more similar idiocies which have already cropped up in these first three episodes of the season. Take your pick. I have a high threshold for stupidity in my TV, as you well know. But I don't know how much more of this I can take.

At least they had the sense to kill off Francis Capra in a timely manner. I hate that dude. He's just laughable. As I've noted before, Capra is the tiniest, most unrealistically threatening "hoodlum" since the Fonz.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

So it's root, root, root for the Dodgers

Go L.A.!

All other pop culture malarkey gets put on the back burner today, because the Dodgers (yay!) are playing the Cubs (boo! hiss!) tonight.

It's been a poor couple of decades for the Dodgers. They've gone dry since the Greatest World Series Ever, 1988's Kirk Gibson-punctuated trouncing of the Oakland A's. Despite a plethora of talent, including five (FIVE!) Rookies of the Year in a row in the '90s, the Dodgers have won only one (ONE!) postseason game since '88. Ouch.

Now, I don't need any Cubs fans, or fans of other ball clubs, giving me sob stories about how your guys haven't won a World Series since the Taft administration. Of course they haven't. Your guys stink. We're talking about my guys, the legendary Los Angeles Dodgers. Jackie Robinson! Don Drysdale! Sandy Koufax! Duke Snider! Steve Garvey! Ron Cey! Fernando Valenzuela! Orel Hershiser! Kirk Gibson! The Dodgers are winners, baby, winners! And every year they fail to win is a huge embarrassment. Every year, say, the Cubs fail to win is just another year.

Which makes tonight's game so thrilling. Dodgers vs. Cubs! The Dodgers have a terrible record this year, only six games above .500, the worst record by far of any playoff team, sneaking into the postseason by the grace of the rest of their division stinking even worse than they do. But the Dodgers have a lot of young talent mixed in with some tough veterans, they're on a hot streak, having gone 17-8 in September, including a crucial gut-check of a 12-1 run after losing 8 straight in late August, they've got Joe Torre at the helm, who has a certain amount of experience at guiding clubs to World Series, and, let's face it, if anyone can lose to the Dodgers, it's the eternally jinxed-in-the-postseason Chicago Cubs.

My hopes, I'll admit, are not tremendously high. But as always... you never know! I'm bouncing off the walls in anticipation. Go Dodgers! Play ball!

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