Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Vikings Sunk: Well, it's looking like the inevitable collapse has started. I knew I was doomed when I picked Miami to beat the spread and they failed to do so by one. You see, I was tempted to pick Washington instead. But by not picking Washington I put the double whammy on myself. The Vikings don't win and my decision to not pick Washington haunt me. The Vikes can still make the playoffs if they win next week and Washington loses. Dr. Bitz's prediction? Both Washington AND Vikings lose. Vikings miss out on the playoffs...again.
Silva Lining: Well the Seattle Mariners signed former Twins pitcher Carlos Silva to a 4 year $44 million contract. Apparently, performance and stats are not taken into consideration when Seattle makes contract offers. This also keeps the Seattle Mariners' trend of signing overweight, Hispanic Twins pitching castoffs alive. Dennys Reyes, you're officially on notice!
Santana Sweepstakes: The Twins still have yet to trade the best pitcher in baseball. I have a lot of venom stored up waiting to be spewed once this trade goes down. Let's just say I see a rant in the future regarding the Twins being cheap and me wondering if I should take the Twins seriously since they don't take winning seriously.
Christmas Songs: Well, instead of two front teeth, all I want for Christmas is a Twins contract for Johan Santana. OK, that was a terrible segue and is, in fact, false, but nobody asked you anyway. I'm sure you're all dying to know what my favorite non-traditional Christmas songs are. I made a list and looked like this:
That Wham Song
The Chipmunks Song
That Paul McCartney/Wings song
Happy Xmas by John Lennon
Seeing as how a list like that will ensure that I'm never voted president...of anything, I've decided to do just a list of my top 5 Christmas Songs:
The Christmas Song by Bing Crosby
Happy Xmas by John Lennon
Little Drummer Boy
O' Holy Night
Snoopy's Christmas by The Royal Guardsmen
That looks better...but I'm still not getting elected president.
Also, my top (or bottom depending on how you look at it) 5 worst Christmas songs:
That stupid Frank Sinatra/Cyndi Lauper duet of Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
That dumb Hippopotamus Song
That stupid Rod Stewart/Dolly Parton Baby, It's Cold Outside Duet
Two Step Round the Christmas Tree
Christmas Shoes (Naturally)
If you like any of those songs then you need to take a good, long, hard look at yourself in the mirror.
I'm sure there are some songs I'm missing, but I can't think of more right now. But if you want to make the Christmas Shoes song better, just imagine the shoes the kid is buying are some gaudy, bedazzled green elf shoes that only a kid would think were beautiful. Maybe they even have red bulbs that blink on ends of the toes!!!
Happy Holidays: Well, to all 3 people who read this blog, I wish you happiness in whatever you celebrate (if anything) this time of year. I believe the preferred saying is "Happy Holidays." (If you hate baby Jesus.)
Anyway, I hope you all hear plenty of scary ghosts stories, I trust the traffic will remain terrific, and I wish you all a great holiday season.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
4. Christmas Eve/ Sarajevo (Trans-Siberian Orchestra): I love this song enough to have specifically bought the CD it was on, thinking I was bound to enjoy at least several of the other songs on it. Turns out, not so much. With the exception of this song, everything else on the CD was such crap that I barely remember it, and quickly got rid of the CD itself. This one song, though, man, I love it. It’s the only Christmas song I’ll listen to year round.
3. Swiss Colony Beef Log (Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics): Cartman’s love song to the Hillshire Farms-esque Swiss Colony beef log sounds like a power ballad straight out of the eighties and is easily the best song on the enjoyable South Park Christmas album. It’s also hilarious, and approximately sixteen different kinds of awesome.
2. Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Band-Aid): Whereas this song actually is straight out of the 80s. A Who’s Who of 80s pop stars (Sting and the Police, U2 and Bono, Boy George, George Michael, Phil Collins rocking it out on the drums) gathered together to record a song for famine relief in Africa, with lyrics written to point out to 80s yuppies how much better they have it come Christmas than the starving people in Africa, who too busy being hungry (and perhaps, not even Christian, but that’s another song) to realize its Christmas at all. It’s filled with wonderfully melodramatic over-the-top lyrics:
And it's a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is
The bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that are ringing
Are clanging chimes of doom
Any song that has Bono singing the line “well, tonight thank God it's them instead of you”, gets an A in my book.
1. Dominic the Donkey (The Italian Christmas Donkey) (Lou Monte): Yeah, you've probably never heard it. They don't play it on the radio all that much. Go here and check out the awesome. Yeah, that's right, your mind just got blown, didn't it?
Thursday, December 13, 2007
There are bigger 'stars' on the report, such as Roger Clemens and Miguel Tejada, but Rondell White clearly was the most shocking name. With players like Roger Clemens steroids could explain why they were so dominate. With Rondell White fans and experts alike are confused as to how somebody could play so ineptly and be taking performance enhancing substances. The thought of what Rondell White would be like without steroids is truly mind-boggling.
Kirk J. Radomski, former Met bat boy and well known steroid supplier, notes that Rondell White was the 'black sheep' of his steroid customer base.
"Yeah, I really don't like talking about him [Rondell White]." Radomski admitted. "I mean, I gave the guy steroids thinking it would improve his game and then I saw his 7 home runs and .246 batting average in Minnesota during the 2006 season...let's just say it was bad for business."
Rondell White allegedly began taking steroids in the year 2000. Oddly enough, in that season he saw a decrease in home runs and batting average. Apparently, the steroids he took were no match for his complete sucktitude at the game of baseball. He reached a career low in futility when entering the friendly confines of the Metrodome and playing for the Minnesota Twins in 2006 and 2007. Throughout the two injury riddled seasons White managed a paltry 11 home runs and a putrid .210 batting average.
Victor Conte, founder and owner of the infamous steroid lab BALCO, emphatically states that White's results are NOT typical.
"Listen, I don't know what kind of crap Radomski was distributing but our stuff can make a home run god!" Conte stated referring to frequent Balco customer and record breaking home run slugger Barry Bonds. "Rondell White is giving steroids a bad name. Steroids makes athletes better! We are efforting to get White's name stricken from the Mitchell Report. It's an embarrassment I tell you, an EMBARRASSMENT!"
Ex-Twins General Manager Terry Ryan was the person who signed Rondell White in 2006 and was as confused as anybody.
"Honestly, steroids wasn't even on our radar." Ryan admits. "We just signed him because he was an aging veteran who came at the right price. The Twins motto is, 'If it ain't fiscally responsible, it ain't the Twins.' So a steroid slugger is usually out of our price range." Ryan then looked off into the middle distance and scratched his head. "Steroids...Rondell White...really!?"
Rondell White could not comment on the situation. The vacuum created by his own sucktitude made audible communication impossible. However, ex-teammate Michael Cuddyer could comment and probably said it best.
"Ro-White was taking steroids?" Cuddyer questioned. "Well, I guess you can put chocolate sprinkles on a dog turd but it will still taste like [Expletive Deleted]*."
*Author's Note: I considered using [Expletive Deleted] to replace all occurrences of the words "Rondell White" but that made the article too confusing.
Monday, December 10, 2007
The schtick is that you define words, and for every one you get right, 20 grains of rice are donated to the United Nations World Food Program. It gauges how many words you get right and determines your vocab level, giving you words slightly above that level.
Of course, you can read all about the details on the website but definitely check it out. Improving my vocabulary AND helping a good cause? Sign me up!
Sunday, December 9, 2007
After I saw No Country for Old Men I went online and looked at the reviews. They were all glowing, said the movie was wonderful, and declared this movie one of the greatest of all time. Nobody pointed out the glaring flaws that I saw in the film. After reading the 10th review that declared this movie a masterpiece while ignoring its obvious issues I decided that it was time to take a good hard look in the mirror. Perhaps the problem wasn't with the movie at all. Maybe the problem was with me. Perhaps movies having climaxes and conclusions and tying up loose ends is just simply overrated. Maybe movie critics are just plain smarter than I am. If that's true, if I'm just not smart enough to realize that the problems I saw aren't really problems at all, then this review is worthless. I could try to think like all those non-retarded critics and write a review from their perspective but Thomas Nagel has taught me I can never truly know "what it's like to be a bat." So I must review this movie the only way I can, from my own perspective.
No Country for Old Men takes place in the heart of Texas and mainly focuses on a Vietnam veteran named Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin). Llewelyn stumbles upon a pile of money left over at the site of an apparent drug deal gone wrong. Llewelyn takes the money and is soon pursued by many a people who would like the money themselves, most notably the very creepy and very deadly Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem shown right). Other people, like Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson), get in on the action and soon it's an all out free-for-all for the case full of dough. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is a no-nonsense-cop-that's-worn-down-by-life that tries to sort out this mess and hopefully save Llewelyn.
Let's face it, this movie is about a case full of money and a lot of people shooting at each other to get it. The scenes (directed by the Coen Brothers) were exquisite and the acting was spot on. This was my type of movie and it had me hook, line, and sinker. I loved it...until the last 15 to 20 minutes.
Unfortunately, since the final 15 to 20 minutes constitutes 'the end of the movie', I'm having a hard time portraying what I disliked about this film without ruining it for you. The best I can say is that near the end the movie branches off quite suddenly to a different direction. The story was building up and moving towards an exciting climax that is never shown. I know some of the reason this happened.
The theme of the movie is incredibly nihilistic and definitely not of the feel-good genre. So a lot of the meandering plot that takes place at the end of the film is to drive home this theme. But I think there are ways to get the theme and point of view of this movie across without screwing the fans over and denying them of any real ending or answers. I believe there's a happy medium to be found and I wish the directors would have strove for it. I'm not saying that every question needs to be answered in a movie nor am I saying a movie should strictly adhere to a formula. Just because a movie is walking down one path doesn't mean it can't throw you a curveball and send you veering down a completely different path. However, with No Country for Old Men, its the numerous questions left unanswered combined with the curveball combined with the lack of climax combined with the seemingly random events and scenes at the end that left me feeling ultimately unfulfilled.
With all that being said, if you read this review and decide to see No Country for Old Men then I would almost guarantee that you'll like this movie more than I did. Like I said before, the writing and acting is superb and now you'll be prepared for the unorthodox ending. So, in a strange way I'm compelled to recommend No Country for Old Men since, with the knowledge that this movie has a less-than-fulfilling conclusion, you'll be much better equipped than I was to enjoy the movie.
The Good: Great acting. Great writing. The movie starts off as riveting. It will suck you in. The scenes of Llewlyn on the run from Chigurh are as tense and exciting as any movie I've seen.
The Bad: This movie infuriates me to no end. The movie spends an hour and a half showing me just how incredible a Coen brothers movie can be and then they screw it all up. But enough about the ending. Another thing that bothered me was the constant message of how society is going to Hell. I mean, if you listened to all the old-timers then you'd think hordes of gang-bangers are out raping and pillaging major cities at all hours of the night. Let's all calm down. Things aren't as bad as they seem. I suppose I'm showing my own bias. Just because I don't agree with a message doesn't mean the movie doesn't have the right to say it, but I just felt like I was being beat over the head with that particular message. (In the movie's defense, though, a character does bring up the point that perhaps things aren't that much worse than they were 50 years ago. Perhaps people are just selectively remembering the good parts of that era.) Oh...a lack of nudity doesn't help anything either.
The Disappointing: I'm going to have say I was disappointed in the critics response to this movie. Or, more specifically, the critics not addressing the end of this movie. All they talk about is the great acting, writing, and directing. It's like walking into a house and discussing how nice the kitchen and master bedroom are and ignoring the giant pile of dead hookers in the living room.
*Insert Picture of Giant Pile of Dead Hookers Here*
I know you guys would love to see that picture but, alas, we have standards...yeah right. I did a Google image search for "Giant Pile of Dead Hookers" and the first result to come back was this:
Uhhh...OK...let's move on.
Drink to best accompany this movie:
Three Fingers of Whiskey
Whiskey (Preferably Cheap)
Fill a glass as high as the width of three of your fingers
Yeah, this movie's rough and gritty. So grab a glass, fill it with cheap manly-man whiskey, and slam the sucker. It'll go down smooth but the finish will burn your throat. It's a hell of an aftertaste, but you're tough, you can take it.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Mohinder going after Sylar the moment he realizes Sylar is powerless. Of course, it’s Mohinder, so he fails completely, but still, it’s the thought that counts.
The look on Sylar’s face when Maya started freaking out about Sylar killing her brother. “Oy, I have to deal with this now.” That’s how the audience has felt too, every time she’s opened her mouth.
Elle’s continuing character growth. She is slowly becoming more than the assassin/weirdly sadistic sexpot she started out as, and I’m enjoying watching her struggle with her desire for her father’s approval while wondering if that’s something she even wants anymore. When Mohinder called her a hero, she had this look that said “huh, I kind of like the sound of that.” Also, I hope she and Bennet will
have more scenes together next season.
Speaking of Bennet, I laughed out loud when he was bouncing the ball off the wall ala Steve McQueen in the Great Escape. Loved it.
Is it wrong of me to say Nikki’s death? I mean, I feel bad for Micah, but her character has never interested me, and often aggravated me. So I won’t miss her. Unless she isn’t really dead (Mrs. Teebore pointed out that with the cutaway shot they did before the explosion, they could come back and say that her power returned in a moment of great need and she escaped out the back before it exploded, or something. Rumor has it that of the two characters who apparently died, one is definitely dead and one is definitely not).
The showdown in Texas. Hiro trying to reason with Peter, planting the seeds of doubt and exhibiting a greater control of his power than we’ve seen (less constipated squinting). Matt stepping in, trying to telepathically force Peter to stop Adam, resulting in something I’d almost call a telepathic battle. Nathan finally bringing GulliPeter to his senses, while Hiro takes care of Adam. Not exactly the slam-bang big-screen style super power throwdown I want to see, but a lot more dynamic and natural than the showdown with Sylar in Kirby Plaza last season.
Hiro’s ‘defeat’ of Adam. A clever way to deal with an immortal and largely invulnerable character without killing him.
Nathan deciding to step forward and reveal the existence of the ‘heroes’-potentially giving him a new purpose by setting him up as a political leader of the heroes while at the same time making amends for his complicity in Linderman’s scheme last year. Of course, just when the dramatic landscape of the show was about to be changed in a new and exciting way, he was shot. Hopefully, Peter will contain his grief long enough to realize that his blood can do the same thing as Adam’s and bring back his brother. And hopefully, the show doesn’t drop the “going public” thread, as I think doing so would lead to some exciting and original things.
Question I want answered in the next volume:
What’s the deal with the Company? So, it was formed by the Elder Heroes, before they split up, right? Ostensibly to track and catalogue the emerging Heroes, which it continued to do even after the Elder Heroes split up? Right? So what are they doing now? What do they really want? What does Ma Petrelli really want? For something that is essentially the overarching Big Bad of this show there are far too many unanswered questions about its purpose and motivations. “Generations” seemed to suggest we’d get more answers but really, we didn’t. So “Villains”, which makes the suggestion even louder, had better provide some.
Where does the Haitian go when he’s not with Bennet? Is the Company aware he was working with Bennet against them? Could the Haitian kill Adam/Peter/Claire by negating their healing abilities, then, you know, killing them? What’s his connection to Ma Petrelli? Why does he seem to have two powers (most people seem to only have one that is sometimes used in different, creative ways). He’s more or less a minor character so the lack of these answers hasn’t taken away from the show, but once you stop and think about it, it’s high time we got some answers about him.
Sylar: what are his powers? What really happened after Kirby Plaza? He “knows how things work.” Great. Whatever. So is he eating brains? Something else? And what happened at the end of the first season? Candice said she wasn’t working for the Company-was she? Mohinder said he was infected with the Company virus, after all. So did they abduct him, infect him, and then he was stolen away by Candice, for some reason? Again, too many mysteries still swirl around the show’s other main villain. Answers were promised in volume two, and they were few and far between. Again, calling volume three “Villains” suggests that Sylar will be front and center, which better mean some answers.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Minnesota Vikings (2007 NFL Sports Team): I'm actually staring to believe in this team which means they're headed for a big time collapse.
Tales of the Abyss (Playstation 2 2006 Video Game): A very solid RPG with an interesting battle system but the game is long as hell and they expect people to play through it twice?
Beowulf (2007 Movie): Some cool action with a giant lull in the middle but, and I may sound like a cranky old man saying this, I can't believe this movie is rated PG-13.
The Departed (2006 Movie): Awesome!
Tin Man (2007 Sci-Fi Channel Mini-Series): The first installment shows that it has some promise but the problem with made for TV Movies/Miniseries (and the Sci-Fi channel especially suffers from this) is that the special effects are lacking to say the least.
The Transformers (2007 Movie): If you can ignore the plot holes this movie can be a lot of fun!
The Transformers (1986 Movie): If you can ignore the plot holes this movie can be a lot of fun!
Enchanted: Mrs. Dr. Bitz says that I shouldn't be too harsh on this movie becuase I should keep in mind that this movie is intended for 10-year-old girls...I weep for 10-year-old girls everywhere.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
‘Sideshow’ Bob Underdunk Tewilliger is the best kind of villain, in the Dr. Doom mold: erudite, cultured, and intelligent; the kind of guy who could be a bestselling author, famed classical actor or renowned university professor, if not for the fact that he’s a homicidal maniac.
Despite (or, perhaps, because of) his sophistication and high class pedigree, Bob was forced to endure physical gag after physical gag as Krusty’s sidekick, forced to remain silent, communicating only via slide whistle.
His career as a frustrated criminal mastermind began when he framed Krusty the Clown and took control of Krusty’s show, transforming it into a kind of “Masterpiece Theatre” for children. Exposed by Bart, this led in turn to Bob’s psychotic obsession with killing Bart Simpson in revenge. From there, Bob engaged in scheme after scheme, only to have each foiled in turn by Bart (and, to a lesser extent, Lisa). He married Aunt Selma (planning to kill her for the money), ran for mayor, set off an atomic weapon, and tried to kill Bart, a lot, all the while humming a Gilbert and Sullivan tune or spouting off Shakespearean quotations.
Favorite Sideshow Bob episode: I have three: season five’s Cape Feare, when Bob’s desire for revenge forces the family to enter witness protection, season six’s Sideshow Bob Roberts, in which Bob runs for Mayor, and season eight’s Brother from Another Series, where Bob claims to have reformed and helps his brother Cecil build a hydroelectric dam under the suspicious eyes of Bart and Lisa (I wish the ending of this episode had stuck, with Bob legitimately reformed and over his obsession with Bart but imprisoned alongside his criminal brother nonetheless. I was disappointed when Bob had seemingly returned to his murderous ways in his next appearance. But I digress).
Amongst those three, the favorite is easily Cape Feare. I remember the first time I saw the rake sequence (in which Bob, tracking the Simpsons to their new home, inexplicably finds himself surrounded by rakes, all turned so they slap him in the face as he takes a step) it caused one of the hardest and longest laughs of my entire life. If I had to pick a favorite overall episode, that one would definitely be in the running. But that’s another post.
Favorite Sideshow Bob lines: You want the truth! You can't handle the truth! No truth handler you! Bah! I deride your truth handling abilities!
Well, if it isn't my arch-nemesis Bart Simpson. And his sister Lisa to whom I'm fairly indifferent.
No children have ever meddled with the Republican Party and lived to tell about it.
Your guilty consciences may force you to vote Democratic, but deep in your hearts you long for a cold, Republican leader who'll cut taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king!
"Attempted murder?" Now really, what is that? Do they give a Nobel Prize for attempted chemistry?
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I've debated whether or not I should review this movie. It's not because I didn't like the movie, I've been waiting to write a review savaging a film. I was unsure because I didn't love the movie nor did I hate it. It was just there. And I'm not even sure what about this movie didn't click with me. It just didn't. But I suppose nobody said movie reviews are easy.
American Gangster is the "based on a true story" movie that follows Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) as he becomes a New York City druglord and follows Richie Roberts (Russel Crowe) as the straight arrow police officer who attempts to rid the streets of drugs. In some ways, the two men are mirror images of each other. Both are consider outsiders in their industry. One lives a good personal life but has a morally suspect occupation. One is moral in his occupation but has issues with his personal life. One man is living the "high life" while the other is struggling financially. I suppose all this duplicity somehow fits into some overall theme or meaning but it's all Greek to me. Or Ebonics, as the case may be.
The acting is superb. But with a cast including Denzel Washing, Russel Crowe, and Kevin Corrigan I would expect nothing else. OK, I mention Kevin Corrigan (better known as Eddie from Grounded for Life) because he seems to show up in a lot of movies that I watch. Particularly gritty gangster movies. But I digress.
Despite good acting and solid plot, nothing grabs me with this movie. It was, for lack of a better word, boring. Most people think this means there wasn't enough explosions for me. And while I do believe a good explosion can only improve a movie, there are plenty of movies I like that are not considered "action packed." One of my all-time favorite movies is The Shawshank Redemption and last I checked Andy and Red weren't engaging in breathtaking gun battles and setting off massive explosions. (That's what sequels are for.) There are other movies I could list but my point is I don't need high octane action to enjoy a movie. But I need something that grabs my attention, and this movie didn't have that something. I suppose watching a gangster use shrewd business tactics and a sharp tongue to rise the to the top of New York's illegal drug ring only to head for a painfully inevitable downfall just doesn't interest me. It felt like Scarface without the action and funny accents.
In the end, I'm not sure if I'd recommend this movie or not. It was critically acclaimed, that's why I was excited to see it. But, despite the good acting, I just wasn't engaged. So if I was asked what my opinion of this movie was I'd have to say that it was just plain boring.
The Good: Great acting. There was also female nudity, which is always a plus.
The Bad: Missing that special something to keep my attention.
The Disappointing: You had rooms filled with topless women and they didn't make out. For shame. And where was everyone's favorite American Gangster?
I am 350 pounds, all muscle.
Sure you are Kingpin. Tell that to the two dozen Krispy Kremes your downing.
Drink to Best Accompany this Movie:
Classic, sophisticated, perhaps a little boring? I figure American Gangster is like an well-aged, unseasoned steak. It'll taste good enough (supposedly) but don't expect to be wowed. Nothing goes better with a bland steak than a fine Merlot.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Heroes: Yeah, it started slow this season, but the last three episodes have been pretty awesome. Too bad we’ve only got two more episodes before it goes into Writer’s Strike Limbo. Now there’s one thing I’m not thankful for…
Marvel’s Essentials and DC’s Showcase Presents volumes: We live in a golden age of accessibility, when a plethora of comics from all ages are available in thick black and white tomes, crammed with countless comics goodness, all for under twenty books. There are more released in a month than I can possibly afford to buy, and that’s a good thing. It’s better than having all the money in the world and nothing to spend it on. And that’s not even mentioning things like the Complete Peanuts collections and DVDs of favorite old TV shows.
My Nintendo Wii: The missus and I are having a blast playing Star Wars Legos. And I can’t wait to download and revisit a bunch of classic games: Castlevania II, Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, Ocarina of Time, the list goes on…
Fables: Consistently excellent, month in, month out. Probably my favorite of all the books I read. If you’re not reading it, you should be.
The Comics Blog-o-verse: It is often more negative and snarky than I care for, but it can also be a daily celebration of everything that is awesome about comics, and about being a geek.
That episode of GI Joe where Cobra Commander uses a giant laser to carve an image of his face into the moon.
The first ten minutes of last week’s Simpson’s episode: For ten minutes, I was watching the best Simpsons episode in ages (the last twenty minutes: meh). It was pandering to my bias and I’m sure it wasn’t nearly as funny for non-comic book geeks, but for those of us who are, man, it was hilarious.
Finally, I am thankful for the lovely Mrs. Teebore, of course, and all my family and friends who are, for the most part, hale and healthy and reasonably happy, and a job that keeps a roof over my head, puts food on the table and comics on the floor by my nightstand.
Monday, November 19, 2007
TCM is certainly closest to the mark: they air old school “classic” films, many of them obscure to all but the diehard film buff and most introduced by film historian and guy-who-strikes-me-as-being-an-awesome-grandpa, Robert Osborne. They run a “Thirty Days of Oscar” in the time leading up to the Oscars each year, and often in the catalog of Oscar wining movies they air are winners for more obscure awards, like costume design or production design, in addition to the traditional run down of best picture/director/actor winners.
Now, this is not going to devolve into a discussion of what is or isn’t a classic, or how we define classics. I am not a traditionalist when it comes to those discussions; as far as I’m concerned, “classic” is a term that can be widely defined and highly individualized based on tastes and experiences. There are certainly subsets: classic horror movies or classic westerns, for example, films that are classics of their genre but perhaps not classics when placed alongside the entire catalog of film.
Of these two channels, AMC is certainly the one that plays faster and looser with the definition of “classic.” Nothing is more fun than to see one of the movies they are playing and quip, “That’s a classic? Hardly.” But I’m willing to stick up for them, and for the most part, give the programmers the benefit of the doubt in my mind. Like I said, I have a liberal and circumstantial approach to defining classics. I understand AMC’s desire to both develop an identity independent of TCM (“they’re the classic classics, we’re the modern classics”) and to feature more modern, potential “hip” films, which might appeal to the more sought after “youth” demographic. Jaws? Well, that’s a classic. At the very least, classic Spielberg. Halloween? Classic horror movie. Mission: Impossible? Okay, well, that’s a classic Tom Cruise movie, I guess.
But of late I have noticed them airing at least two films that I cannot, under any circumstances, define as “American Movie Classics”: Tomb Raider 2: Cradle of Life and Catwoman.
Hell, I’m not even sure they are movies, let alone classic movies. Classic pieces of crap, maybe. Catwoman isn’t so much a movie as it is a make-up commercial and the second-to-last nail in the coffin of Sharon Stone’s career. And it wasn’t even successful enough that you could defend it on the “kids will like it” platform. I heard its total revenue was just enough for the studio head to splurge on lunch one day and supersize his #2 at McDonalds.
As for Tomb Raider 2…I don’t even know what that movie’s deal was. It was just horrid. Ask Dr. Bitz; he’ll tell you all about it. All I remember is that the bad guys had no motivation (“We’re evil! Mwah ha ha!”) and that the whole movie seemed like an excuse to get Angelina Jolie into skin tight outfits, then make her bend all over the place. And look, that’s all well and good but if you’re going to make a movie for the sole purpose of showing off a hot body, air it after ten on Skinemax and stop trying to pass it off as an “American Movie Classic”.
So, sorry AMC. I was willing to go to bat for you, but not any longer. Until you stop trying to pass off Catwoman: You Kids, You Like Halle Berry, Right? and Tomb Raider 2: Isn’t Angelina Jolie Hot? as classics, you’ve lost whatever defensible position you once may have held.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I was Senator Larry Craig!
Anyway, whether the retail industry likes it or not, Thanksgiving is closing in and will occur before Christmas. As a kid I was never excited about Thanksgiving Day (aside from enjoying the days off from school). As far as I was concerned Thanksgiving was that lame holiday between when I got candy and when I got toys where I had to dress up for dinner and eat something that wasn't pizza. But I hear for some people Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday....losers.
Since I'm a vegetarian now I'm not very excited about the food these days either. But visiting with my family can be fun...sort of......sometimes.
Well, that's the subject of the poll located the left of this post. Vote on it or forever be known as the person who didn't vote on the Thanksgiving Day poll!
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Settling Accounts: In At The Death by Harry Turtledove
This is the fourth and final book in the Settling Accounts tetralogy, which is the third and final series in Harry Turtledove’s American Empire series. The entire series is an alternate history tale that chronicles events from World War I through the end of World War II in a world where the Confederate States of America won the Civil War and became a political power on the North American continent.
The Plot Against America by Phillip Roth
If In At The Death is an alternate history text book, then this is an alternate history memoir (the main character even shares his name with the author). Phillip Roth is a Jewish school-age boy growing up during the late thirties and early forties. Through his eyes the reader sees the events of the world around him: the fear of his parents as the anti-Semitic Charles Lindbergh captures the presidency from FDR, the rage and frustration his cousin experiences at America’s growing friendship with Nazi Germany and its fierce isolationism, the growing family schism as his brother embraces the patriotic zeal of his opportunistic aunt.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I always thought that the only way to make being an environmentalist cool was by making the outdated slogans that are used hipper. Let's face it, slogans like "Give a hoot, don't pollute", "Only you can prevent forest fires", and "Please be kind, rewind" simply don't resonate with today’s kids. I figured using slogans like "Stop playa' hatin' the environment", "Make not starting forest fires your bitch!", and "Rewind...foo" would really strike a chord with the youth of America. I was wrong. It really only took one person to make environmentalism cool, Al Gore. You heard me right.
Al Gore made being environmentally conscious cool.
Read that sentence again and try to absorb its complete meaning. Be careful though, your head may explode.
If seven years ago you told me that in the future being green would be cool then I would've laughed in disbelief. If you told me that in the future Al Gore would make ANYTHING cool then I would've slapped you and called you a liar. If you told me that in the future Al Gore would make being environmentally conscious the cool thing to do, then I would have had you committed. But you would have had the last laugh because you would have been right and I would have had to say I’m sorry. Although, I doubt my apology would make up for the years of genital electroshock therapy that you’d have endured. But a guilty conscience would be the cross I'd have to bear. Unfortunately, the inability to be aroused or procreate would be the cross you’d have to bear.
Anyway, my point is being green is cool now and we have Al Gore to thank for that. But I’m a bit wary of this. You see, I’ve been pro environment for a long time. It's not like I've given up all my possessions and live off the land, but I do try to do my part. And I’ve been this way long before it was the ‘cool’ thing to do.
Now, this isn’t a rant like how someone thinks some indie rock band is cool, and then the band becomes popular and that person gets all bitter that everyone else likes the band now because it makes that person less special or makes everyone else posers or...some reason. But speaking of which, what’s up with that? You spend all this time talking about how great something is and how you wish everyone could see how great it is but now you’re upset that people agree with you? Shouldn't you be happy that what you like is now popular and more accessible? Oh well, I’ve been guilty of such bitterness myself from time to time, so I can’t talk about it too much without being a hippogriff.
No, the environment is much bigger than a rock band or TV series and is not something to be petty or jealous about. I’m glad that more people are being environmentally conscious. I’m just suspicious of their motives.
On the one hand, it doesn’t matter why you’re being environmentally conscious just as long as you are. The results are the same regardless of motive. Who cares if you recycle because it’s the right thing to do or just because you’re trying to be cool? The point is you're recycling and that’s a good thing to do. However, what will happen when recycling isn’t considered the cool thing to do anymore? That’s where I worry.
I’m worried that this whole movement to be green is a fad. And that, like all fads, it will die away and once again, when I recycle, people will think I’m a dirty hippy that smokes pot all day and can’t get a real job.
I hope people realize that you can’t just be green while its hip, being green has to be a complete lifestyle change. If people make only a short term attempt to aid the environment than the effects will be minimal and we won’t be any better off than before Al Gore stormed onto the scene.
However, if everyone abides by these lifestyle changes and does what they can to help out the environment for rest of their lives, then I think we can have a positive effect on this planet and this generation can leave the Earth in a little better shape than how we received it. That’s what I hope for.
Of course, if being green does go the way of the slinky and yo-yo, then we can always count on Pimp Gangsta’ A Doggy G to make it hip once more.
Waddup yo! Big ups to trees, mad props to clean water, and recycling is nowhere near the hook. Word!
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Near as I can tell, the sticking point between the writers and the producers is how much of the profits of DVD sales the writers get, and some issues regarding compensation for “new media” (internet and cell phone downloads, crazy futuristic holographic downloads or other such things that haven’t been invented yet). Last I heard the dispute over DVD sales amounted to this: the writers currently get $.04 for every DVD over $20.00 sold. That’s right, 4 cents. They would like to double that, to $.08. This is apparently too much for the producers to part with. At a negotiation session before the strike, the writers agreed to drop this requirement in an effort to avoid the strike, and focus solely on the new media revenue. The producers still have yet to budge.
Obviously I’m biased in favor of the writers. I am a writer, and hope someday to actually get paid to do it. So of course, I am inclined to sympathize with them. But I try to stay open minded about it: I’m not witnessing the negotiations, I only know what I know through the media's filters (granted, most major media outlets are controlled by the people fighting against the writers, so if anything, I should be biased against the writers).
And I’m not some crazy pro-Union firebrand, either. I’m fairly neutral on the subject; unions can be good, and they can be bad. They do some good work, and were certainly necessary a hundred years ago when rich people looked like the guy on the Monopoly game and Teddy Roosevelt was busting trusts with his big stick. But they can also be corrupt, laborious (pun intended) and paralyzed by the weight of their bureaucracy, more concerned with their well being than that of the people they represent.
But the fact remains: the writers demands seem more than fair. According to the information available to me, in this instance, the writers are the good guys, fighting a valiant struggle against their evil fatcat masters. Granted, I don’t know anything about the specific new media demands, but I’m pretty sure that at least meeting the writers halfway will cost less than what the industry is poised to lose if the strike continues.
Of course, another factor in this whole debacle is that the actors (SAG) and directors (DGA) are poised to renegotiate their contracts later this year and the prevailing thought is that the producers are playing hardball with the writers to show the actors and directors (who, of course, are far more important than writers…) what they can and can’t get away with when they come to the bargaining table. If the producers cave to the writers now, then it’ll be that much easier for the actors and directors to get the same kinds of terms. So it sounds more and more likely that the strike will continue on for awhile yet, simply so the producers can show everyone how tough and powerful they are.
Then again, the last strike in 1988 went on for 22 weeks and cost the industry an estimated 500 million in lost revenue (and helped bring about that wretched finale to the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, largely considered the worst season finale in the history of existence). In 2007 numbers, that amount would be significantly larger, and the industry today, including DVDs and whatnot, is a juggernaut compared to what it was 1988. So the longer this strike goes, the more money everyone, especially the producers, are poised to lose. And the last thing anyone wants is that (or another episode of Riker flashing back to important events in his life which, coincidentally, all took place during the first two seasons). So maybe the producers will come to their senses ad wrap this thing up early.
Looking further into the future, some yet-to-premiere shows may or may not air. 22 weeks (the length of the last strike) puts this one running until sometime around the beginning of April. The word is that Lost has anywhere from 8 to 14 of its 16 episode season completed (or at least past the point of needing the writers) so presumably, they’ll be back on the air in February as planned. Then again, there is some talk that in the event of a prolonged strike, they may put the kibosh on the whole season, not wanting to risk starting and then stopping after eight new episodes when the strike still hasn’t ceased, meaning we won’t get any new Lost episodes until February of 2009! (Seriously, if this strike cancels Lost, we will have words, producers. We. Will. Have.Words.) 24, which was delayed by a variety of factors, has only 6-8 episodes in the can, and it sound like they’ll pull the season rather than run the risk of airing eight episodes and stopping mid-story. Mid-season replacement shows, like The Sarah Conner Chronicles, should air in their entirety, as they’re done and in the can. Of course, many mid-season replacements suck and get yanked accordingly, but it’ll be hard to get the ax when you’re the only scripted shows around.
There may be no award ceremony for the Oscars this year (someone has to write the jokes for the host, and the stuff the presenters read off the teleprompter) and if the strike lasts long enough, even the film industry could be affected (because films operate even farther in advance than scripted TV, it’ll be awhile before they run out of scripts, but it could happen).
But if you’re a reality TV fan, boy, are you in luck. The reality TV writers (yes, they have writers too) are not part of the WGA so prepare yourself for an even greater onslaught of reality TV. CBS is prepping a post-hiatus launch for Big Brother, and rumor has it NBC may pull some shows from their cable networks and air reruns of shows like Top Chef and Project Runway to fill airtime. And of course, I’m sure American Idol will be back and really, isn’t that all America cares about anyway?
The more I read and hear about this strike, the more it seems the writers are in the right and the producers in the wrong. Bottom line, the writers are hard working and generally under-appreciated; I don’t think there is anything wrong with their wanting some share of the revenue their product helps generate. After all, without the creative talent the producers would have no product to make any money on. From what I’ve read, a lot of the writers aren’t even striking for themselves, but for future writers, so that twenty years from now those writers won't have to go on strike to a get quatloo for every TV show we purchase and download directly into our brains. To me, that’s perfectly fair and reasonable.
It seems like the producers are quibbling over pennies on the dollar while poised to lose millions, maybe even billions, as the industry grinds to a halt, all so they can save face and look like a Big Man. Seems asinine to me. In the meantime, the writers don’t have jobs and we’re left with nothing but crappy reality TV to watch. And that really grinds my gears.