Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Thirty-One Years Ago Today, A Great Eeeeeeeeeevil Was Loosed On the World

A quick "Happy Birthday" wish to my good friend & arch-nemesis Dr. G'ovich, who I unfortunatley missed out on seeing while he and the rest of his clan were in the DFW area this last weekend, thanks to the whole having-to-move thing.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I'm Not Dead Yet

The move is nearing completion, which means I should soon have time to start boring you all on a daily basis yet again. Until then, here are a few random thoughts:

  • Lost finale was everything I expected, and more; that ending has me really curious about the directions next season will take.
  • Finished up season 2 of Deadwood and have decided E.B. Farnum is one of the greatest TV characters of all time
  • Croquet can be surprisingly competitive; isn't that right, Cap'n Cluck?
  • I finished my list of the top 50 DC characters; you can see my picks (and the reasonings) here and here if you have any interest, and then pop on over to The Great Curve for the final tally.
  • I finally bought my first disc golf disc, and promptly lost it on the first hole I played. Darn you, Bear Creek course!
  • While I'm looking forward to seeing my family this coming weekend, I'm not looking forward to the drive to Miamuh after a week of much activity and little rest
  • The news that one of the Everwood producers is heading to Gilmore Girls makes me very happy
  • The fact that I will soon no longer be able to tape one channel while watching another makes me less so.
  • There are times I miss the 70s; what other time could have produced a comic book panel with the dialogue "Someone's bred a giant rampaging Jimmy Olsen!" with absolutely no sense of irony whatsoever? Well, other than the 40s, 50s, and 60s, that is. Bless you, Jack Kirby, wherever you are.
  • I saw X-men: The Last Stand on my birthday. My review shall be written soon, but for now I shall just say that I thought it was weaker than the first two, but still stronger than Fantastic Four


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Rot Rarry Roleman!


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Reasons Why Posting May Be Spotty in the Near Future

1. The Move: as many of you know, by this time next week I shall be moved into a house with Bizarro-Zinger and The Anti-Cap'n. This means that, in the time between now and then, my time will be spent preparing for the move (said preparation mainly consisting of me staring at the chaos that is my apartment in abject horror) which will leave less time for innocent blogging. Plus, once the move begins in earnest, my easy computer access will be curtailed.

2. Deadwood: TV on DVD is a blessing and a curse for me; a blessing because it allows me to see things I otherwise would have missed, and a curse because my borderline OCD compels me to watch entire seasons in one sitting if possible. So, all of my free time last night that could have been spent blogging was instead spent watching the first half of Season 2 of Deadwood; thanks heavens the rest of the season didn't arrive from Netflix yet, or I wouldn't have gotten any sleep.

3. Lost: You can bet your sweet bippie that nothing is going to distract me from tonight's season finale of Lost, and I'm sure my mind will be too blown afterwards for me to write anything up.

4. The damnable Great Curve: Pop culture blog The Great Curve issued a call to the blogosphere for votes for "The 50 Best DC Comics Characters" and pretty much all of my time not spent packing, watching Deadwood, or anticipating Lost has been devoted to crafting the list; Tate and I are taking turns posting our lists over on They Came From Earth K, so the obsession is almost burned out. But, in its place, there's The Frisson of Woo challenge, not to mention a great need in me to compliment the 50 DC character list with a Marvel list, or the burning compulsion to make a "Coolest Characters That I Love But Can't In Any Good Conscience Call 'The Best'" list, or . . . it's a dangerous thing when borderline-OCD and comic geekery meet, no?

But, while you're waiting for me to find the time to actually be entertaining again (and yes, that assumes that I've been entertaining at least once in the past) enjoy this great Defective Yeti post, which contains at least one phrase which is sure to be added to my online repertoire.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

TV Tues - How Classical Is That?

Okay, I don't put a whole lot of faith in these things, but I'm all for grasping at straws, so click here to sign an online petition asking the CW to save Everwood. Not holding my breath on that one though, and have resigned myself to having to bid goodbye to Bright, Hannah, Ephraim, Harold, Edna, and the rest in just a couple of weeks.


Anyway, on to my thoughts on the week that was.

Everwood: Man, am I going to miss this show. I have to admit, they faked me out; I had suspected that Irv was going to be the big death, but when they showed him fixing a tray for Edna, I instantly started crying out "nooooooo!" because I was sure that he was going to walk in and find that she had passed in her sleep. Is it bad that when he clutched his chest I let out a huge sigh of relief? Even if there are only two eps left, it wouldn't be the same without Edna.

Apprentice: Best line of the episode came from Shawn: "The cast of Dynasty called; they want their shoulderpads back." But man, did I love watching the girls turn on each other like a couple of rabid hyenas; my joy was compounded when the Donald took the opportunity to send them both packing. I had hoped in my heart of hearts that that might happen, but for it to actually come to pass . . . it made my night.

Lost: So, I saw a lot of folks jumping on the "why didn't Michael just tell Jack et al what The Others wanted" bandwagon, trying to poke holes in the shows logic, to which I can only say: have they been watching the same show I have? I mean, Michael isn't all that rational at the best of times, and he loses any and all sense when Walt is involved. But let's consider, for a moment, that Michael actually was thinking things through . . . I know, I know, it's a stretch, but bear with me. From his way of thinking, Michael would be crazy to go down the "if I tell my friends about The Others' plans we can set a trap" road. Why? Well, remember, right after he was captured (pretty effortlessly), he got to witness (sort of) Kate, Jack, Locke, and Sawyer getting their heads handed to them by The Others. He has no idea of the true strength of The Others' in terms of numbers or firepower, nor does he really have a clue as to where in their encampment they're keeping Walt, if Walt is indeed being held in that encampment or somewhere else entirely. Trying to trip up The Others is just as likely to wind up with Walt dead as it is any other way; for Michael, the plan which provides the highest probability of Walt being saved is the way to go. True, he's a fool to think that The Others will honor their bargain, but very little that Michael's done so far has given me the impression that he's all that bright. Now, I will concede that his gunning down of Ana Lucia seems a bit harsh, but that's desperation for you; Michael saw an opportunity to set things in motion and took it. If nothing else, the finale should be pretty interesting.

Invasion: Well, as never-going-to-be-resolved cliffhangers go, this one wasn't all that bad, although I do hate that we're going to miss the fist fight that ensues as soon as Russell realizes that Tom just dumped Larkin in the water, and I'm at least a little curious as to what's been gestating inside the mama hybrids.

Scrubs: Even though this season hasn't been one of my favorites (and I know I'm in the minority on this, since almost every critic out there is praising this series for reaching new heights), I am glad that it's coming back; even a less-Todd-friendly (not to be confused with less-The-Todd-friendly) Scrubs is better than most of the other sitcoms out there.

Bones: Not super-keen on the "Bones folks were fugitives" idea; if it had just been the one ep I probably would have been able to accept it easier than I have the "to be continued" vibe.

The O.C.: You know, it wasn't too long ago that I would have been pleased with them bumping off Marissa, but with the whole "moving off with her dad" idea in motion the death felt like a shock for shock's sake. Still, Josh Schwartz is saying that it's going to be the catalyst for a lot of what happens next season, so I guess I'll take a wait and see stance. Besides, as unnecessary as it felt, it was nothing compared to what happened right after on NBC.

E.R.: Sam's ex using the hospital to stage a prison break? Fine. The crooks taking Sam hostage? Why not. Shooting up the ER during their escape? Hey, it's a season finale, right? Jerry getting hit and almost dying? Troubling, but acceptable. Abby passing out and maybe losing the baby? Troubling, and not acceptable if she miscarries. Luka partially paralyzed, gagged by an intubation tube, handcuffed to a gurney, thrashing wildly in impotent rage as he's the only person able to see Abby collapse? Ridiculous; absolutely ridiculous.


24: Did anyone else get the feeling the Martha was two seconds away from hurling all over President Weasel during her seduction routine? And when he hauled off and hit her later . . . let's just say I was very disappointed that he didn't resist arrest. Saw the whole hidden microphone thing coming a mile away, but Jack's kidnapping at the end took me by surprise.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Movie Mon. - Short But Sweet

Not feeling very wordy today, so here are my brief movie reviews.

The Ringer: Johnny Knoxville vehicle about a man pushed into a scheme to fix the Special Olympics. Not nearly as crass and tasteless as the concept or the trailers might have you believe. Instead, what you have hear is a fun little movie that treats people with mental disabilities with, if not respect, at least understanding; they're neither better nor worse than the other characters in the film, just different. Made me laugh out loud several times, think that says it all.

When a Stranger Calls: Bland remake of the Carol Kane thriller about a babysitter being terrorized by phone calls from a psycho. This one was a total waste of my time; wasn't a quarter as creepy as the original.

Winter Passing: Drama about an actress (Zooey Deschanel) who visits her estranged father (Ed Harris) following the death of her mother only to find him cohabiting with a former student (Amelia Warner) and a not-all-there musician (Will Ferrell). An okay film with good performances, although Ferrell's character felt a bit out of place, tonally.

The Mudge Boy: Odd indie about an odd teen (Emile Hirsch) dealing with the death of his mother in odd ways, such as wearing her clothes and speaking in her voice. Not sure how I feel about this one; I enjoyed a lot of the quirkiness of the film, and was impressed by Hirsch, who up till now I had only seen play the stock "rebellious teen" role, but towards the end it turned down some dark corners I would have preferred it avoided.

The White Countess
: A recently blinded former diplomat (Ralph Fiennes) starts a gentleman's club in 1930s Shanghai with the aid of an exiled and desitute Russian countess (Natasha Richardson). Although a bit slow at times, the film did manage to hold my interest, which is saying a lot this week.


Friday, May 19, 2006

As Long As the Movie's Less Cheesy Than This, I Think I'll Be Happy

With X-Men: The Last Stand only a week away, I thought it would be a good time to post the following: a failed pilot for an X-Men cartoon from 1989. True, it's a bit cheesy, and the science of the villains' big plot is kind of wonky, and Wolverine sounds like he's an Aussie rather than a Canuck, and Nightcrawler comes off as a borderline pedophile at times (and this is way before he became a priest, too), but hey, the animation looks cool at least.

Trivia question for all you Futurama fans: which three character voices are done by Futurama vets?


Hi, My Name is Todd, and I'm a YouTube Addict

Wish I would have thought of this a few days ago: cheat sheet audio-visual aids!

Afraid I could only find a couple so far, but I'll be on the lookout for more.

First up: the source of several UHF quotes.

Next, the source of all of the quotes from MTV's The State: if you don't want to watch the full ep, then skip to the 9:41 mark (Rosemary!), then the 15:41 mark (Los Estados Unidos), and finally the 17:30 mark (Go go go go go!)

Man, I wish they'd hurry up and release that on DVD.

And while this I didn't mention the following in my previous post, it's one that Zinger and I reference quite a bit.

Zinger is especially adept at the little gestures from the dad in the final commercial.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Yeah . . . I Didn't Get It" Says N. Syde Joake; Cap'n Neurotic Cheat Sheet , Book Monkey Edition

As suspected, after reading yesterday's post, Zinger brought up a few quotes that had slipped my mind; think I'll save those for my final, miscellaneous grab-bag post on the topic. For now, let's take a look at the things which usually only make sense to The Book Monkeys.

This list feels a bit anemic compared to the previous two, especially since I know the Book Monkeys are rife with inside jokes and running gags; heck, that's pretty much all my Infinite Monkey Press web-page* was based on. Perhaps it's just that the Book Monkeys tended to burn through our running gags quickly; perhaps the other things stuck longer in my mind because they occurred during my younger days; perhaps I'm just suffering from a failure of memory and as soon as I post this my brain will be flooded with a ton of things to add to a follow-up post; or perhaps most of them were just too situation-specific to carry on beyond the group. After all, always exclaiming "poppets!" in a Boston accent when puppets are in view doesn't really translate well without the requisite backstory . . . of course, neither does speaking in a British accent and insisting on calling it a "Boston" accent. Trust me, you had to be there for that one. And, as entertaining as it always was to find different ways to torment Bubblegum Tate by calling Jen from Dawson's Creek a "ho," it's not exactly something that loans itself to everyday conversation.

Quick digression: my favorite "Jen's a ho" gag was when Michelle Williams did a Christmas themed photo-shoot dressed as Mrs. Clause; we took the image, photoshopped it a tad, and made it the front desk computer wallpaper right before Tate's shift, so that as soon as he sat down he was confronted with a pic of Christmas Jen with a word balloon proclaiming she was a Ho Ho Ho.

Good times, good times.

All right, think that's enough filler; on with the other stuff.

You Lie! You lie all the time!: This is a quote from The Bad Seed, which many of the Book Monkeys got together to watch at one of The Mag's "Dinner and a Movie" nights.

The Hunge Many moons ago, Rebel Monkey sent a message about being consumed by hunger, but a typo turned it into "hunge" instead; deciding she liked it, The Hunge became part of our own brand of Book Monkey lEEt speak.

LCPH Our own addition to the ranks of LOL, ROFL, ROFL, etc. This one stands for "Laughing Cervical Pillow Hard." Yes, there's a story behind that.

RCoS Another Rebel Monkey coinage, this stood for Random Change of Subject, a clarifying acronym that was often necessary during our online chats to warn the other participant "okay, veering off into strange waters now."

People are no damn good. This one is Rose Hips the Enforcer's standard answer for why people screw you over.

You can't do that! If I had a nickel for every time I heard The Mag say this in incredulous tones; sometimes it's in response to people's behavior, sometimes it's in response to stupid plot points, sometimes it's in response to people spelling "light" as "lite". I admit that I rarely say this phrase, but I do often hear The Mag's voice in my head during appropriate situations; it was practically drowning out the horror that was Sound of Thunder.

Hola! While waiting in line for La Vibora at Six Flags last year, we witnessed a teenage girl trying to "communicate" with a group of Hispanics in line next to her; basically, she turned to one of them and just kept saying "Hola!" over and over again in the most bubbled-headed voice I've ever heard this side of Melody on Josie and the Pussycats until they finally got tired of ignoring her and grudgingly acknowledged her. We just stood in slack-jawed wonder at her condescension as she talked down to them, almost as if by deigning to grace them with her attention she were reaching out to the "little people." Anyway, for the rest of our S.X.S.F. trip "Hola!" became a sort of "Duh! Hello!" phrase for us.

Ready Randy? Ready Joan. This quote comes from the "Tabula Rasa" episode of Buffy where all the Scooby gang lose their memories, and Spike and Buffy decide that their names are Randy and Joan; for quite a while after seeing this ep, any inquiries into my preparedness from The Mag was phrased as "Ready Randy?", to which I would immediately reply "Ready Joan." Yes, we're geeks, deal with it.

*For the record, the Incredibly Curious Duo was all Rebel Monkey's doing in order to torment Kookamama who was always griping about our inside jokes; the rest of the insanity I claim for my own.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"Ohhhh, in-X-s!" The Cap'n Neurotic Cheet Sheet Parkerite Edition

Continuing with our tour of jokes, references, and random phrases that haunt me, we shall now move into the Parker years.

To start off, I'm going to focus on the more general phrases before heading into the vast abyss known as "things Zinger and I quote all the time much to the consternation of others." This is by no means an exhaustive list, just the ones that sprang to mind the easiest.

Blasphemer! I honestly have no idea where this came from, whether I was channeling a movie, TV show, random person, or what; all I know is, for a good portion of my Freshman year, anytime anyone would make a remark denigrating something I liked (e.g. "I hate coke, Dr. Pepper's the best"), said remark would be greeted without my outstretched arm pointing accusingly while I bellowed at them in an exaggerated tone.

Stop. Stop. Please stop. This one is courtesy of Flunky, who was mimicking a former school official of his who would recite the phrase is a nasal, rhythmic near-monotone. Others of us adopted it as well.

Yah, anyvay This one came from Wrath teh Berzerkr; his parents hosted a foreign exchange student who would say the phrase all the time. Wrath and his sister began imitating it, and it eventually spread to the group.

Bing-bing-bing! During my Sophomore year there was a girl in the dorm who seemed to be with a different guy every other day; a comment about how much she bounced from guy to guy coupled with seeing an episode of the old cartoon "Ricochet Rabbit," led to Ricochet's signature cry "bing-bing-bing!" being added to our repertoire; sort of the Parker version of "'Tis a pity."

No, YOU played college basketball? One of the defining moments of Little Man Stud's time among the Parkerites came at an OSU football game where he expressed disbelief at the news that a certain, shall we say, diminutive dorm resident played college basketball; it wasn't the disbelief itself that stood out so much as the constant repetition of the disbelief. The phrase itself was often used in response to statements of disbelief from LMS and others.

Ohhhh, IN-X-S At some point during our college career, Wrath had a breakthrough when he realized that the name of the band INXS was actually a play on the phrase "in excess"; this became a phrase used when someone was a little slow on the uptake.

Two shiny dimes! This came from a story Dr. G'ovich told about an old guy in a nursing home offering the Doc a princely sum of two shiny dimes to help spring the guy.

Another nacho in his bag Take one Parker resident's complaint that all she was to a certain Eeeeeeeeevil Parkerite was another notch in his belt; add Coronela's mishearing of the complaint; mix well; serve.

Man oh man I hate them fancy lads This quote from Cabin Boy was used by David Letterman in reference to Chris Elliot's character; we appropriated it and used it as a reference to all of the frat boys around.

This brings us to the dreaded realm of TV & Movie Quotes. Since many of the following are either (a) self-explanatory or (b) do not easily fit into any firm usage rules, I'm just going to group them by their source. Trust me, this is just the tip of the iceberg, my blog-monkeys, just the tip of the iceberg.

The fog's getting thicker. And Leon's getting laaaaaaaaaaaaaaarger.

Puff puff give! You're messing up the rotation!

Greg the Bunny
A'ight! (note: pronounced "ah-ig-it" not "ah-ite")

Major Payne
I oughta change my name to Pimp-daddy Payne
Killin' is my business, ladies, and business is good!
Chuuuuuuuugga-chugga-chugga-chugga, toot toot!
I guess I better dig a little deeper into my repertoire.

MTV's The State
Go go go go go!
Los Estados Unidos

The Sandlot
You're killing me, Smalls!

Super Troopers
Littering and . . . littering and . . . littering and . . . smoking the reefer.

Something blue, something bluuuuuuu-uuuuuuuuue
Are you ready Weaver?
Red Snapper, very tasty!

and, of course, the quote that got me some blank stares from The Singles recently:
Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Stupid! You! So! Stupid!


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

TV Tues - You're Forcing Me to Be the Voice of Reason, and It's Not a Good Look for Me!

First off, let us have a moment of silence for the just-cancelled Invasion; here's hoping tomorrow night's finale isn't a major cliffhanger, but I'd almost bet the farm that it is. And I'm afraid that we'll have to have a similar moment of silence soon for the excellent Everwood, whose on-the-bubble status seems to have been popped by the last-minute decision by the CW to renew 7th Heaven; we won't know for certain until the CW upfronts on Thursday.

On the flip side, much rejoicing that Scrubs has been picked up for another season, and if the rumors are right, Veronica Mars will be around for at least 13 eps but again, we have to wait till Thursday for confirmation. Also two of the pilots I was most hopeful for have been picked up by NBC for the fall: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Aaron Sorkin's behind-the-scenes look at an SNL style sketch show; and Heroes, a drama about people developing super-powers which is being touted as the new Lost. Here's hoping they both live up to the initial hype.

I keep meaning to mention this: the Wes Anderson American Express ad?

Genius; pure genius.

Okay, enough random chatter; on with the show.

West Wing: Well, as series finales go, I've seen much worse (I'm looking at you, Seinfeld), but still, I was a bit disappointed with this one. I just didn't feel like they did an adequate job of saying goodbye to everyone. I think the problem is that so much of the series had become focused on the Santos campaign this season that they had to devote a huge chunk of the episode to that section of the cast; while understandable, it sort of short-changed the cast members who've been there since Season 1. I was a little let down that we never got to see Sam interact with any of the old guard outside of Josh; even a quick "hey, you, I know you, I know you" to C.J., Charlie, and/or Will would have been appreciated. And was anyone else bugged that they didn't have a callback to the season premiere flashforward? No? Is that because I'm the only one still watching this? I thought so.

Survivor: As soon as Terry was voted off, I was tempted to change the channel; haven't been this disappointed in a Survivor decision since Colby lost, and at least then he lost to someone I didn't thoroughly dislike. Aras saying he "played the game with integrity"; get real! The final tribal council wasn't nearly as exciting as it has been in the past; the highlights were definitely Courtney's long and rambling lectures on how the experience had helped the others' souls to grow and of course Shane saying flat-out "Terry should be up there."

Gilmore Girls: The ending; the horrible, horrible ending. It blurs the whole rest of the otherwise excellent episode in my mind. I'm now consumed with two questions: (1) How are the new writers going to handle the aftermath of the Lorelei/Christopher matchup and (2) How did the old writers plan to handle it?

My Name is Earl: A good solid episode; a storyline that was big enough to feel like a season finale, and yet the status quo was upheld by the end. With all of the other cliff-hangers floating around, it was nice to have at least one show that had the courtesy to leave well enough alone. Highlight of the episode is a tossup between Hungry Dizzy Hulk and Old Lady Karma.

The Office: What a way to end the season, huh? The fallout from the big kiss should make next season interesting. In the meantime, we should soon have some webisodes featuring the accounting staff to tide us over.

E.R.: Michael's death was incredibly anticlimactic, as any death which has been telegraphed for months and then is over in a flash can't help but be; the one bright spot in the episode was the fact that Clamente is now gone thanks to his highly entertaining public breakdown. Now, if the big shoot-out in next week's episode makes Abby lose the baby, it's very possible that this show will get pulled from my viewing list next season.

Amazing Race: It's official: I will be happy no matter who wins. I've never been in this position before; I don't know how to handle it. I'm still pulling for the Frat Boys, but I'm not going to have one of those "I'm never watching this show again!" moments if either of the other teams wins.

Lost: Questions answered; even more questions raised. The more things change . . .

Invasion: Was nice to see Dave show some initiative in taking out the hybrid cop

Grey's Anatomy: Throughout the finale I just wanted to shake Izzy violently; I also was yelling at Christina to snap out of it and talk to Burke during the surgery, but not as strongly as I was yelling at Meredith and Derek to stop being such promiscuous sluts . . . yes, I get way too into this stuff. The scene where Bailey realizes that the interns are missing was classic; hell hath no fury like The Nazi on the warpath. I also enjoyed the interrogation sequences, especially when the chief tried out the silent treatment on George; think all the interns were lucky that he had more pressing woman problems on his mind at the time. Speaking of which, I hate that Sara Ramirez’s character is so touchy and confrontational; not saying she doesn't have some cause, just saying that it's going to wear me out really quickly.

Malcolm in the Middle: I don't think I've watched a single episode of this season; its schedule change was got it relegated to "will rent the DVDs status." But, this was the final episode, so I felt obligated to watch. While not a knockout, I think it was pretty indicative of the show as a whole. The whole "mom has planned out his whole life" thing bugged me a little; while it was in keeping with the overall tone of the series, I would have been happier if it ended with Malcolm reaching a mature decision without being browbeaten into it.

Prison Break: Good grief, did that finale wear me out.

How I Met Your Mother: Several excellent Barney moments here, from his relationship with Penelope's mom to his reaction to Ted's rain dance (still funny, still funny, still fun -- and, now it's sad) to his being forced to be the voice of reason; I’m really looking forward to a chance to slap someone and blame the universe for it. Was glad to see Amy Acker, even in a brief (and mostly bland) role; was sad that we never got to see her interact with Alexis Denisof, especially since I just got done reading the Angel comic featuring Ilyria and Wesley . . . but I digress. I hate that they're dragging out the Ted/Robin romance, since we know that they don’t wind up together; it just strikes me as a waste of time.

Apprentice: Was very worried that the signage fiasco was going to signal a loss for the guys; at this point I'm really wanting one of them to win, just because the raging self-delusional ("We never roll our eyes") egomaniacs that are Roxanne and Allie make me see red; was soooooooo disappointed to see Tami go.


24: Was Karen's slap of Miles the wimpiest thing you've ever seen, or what? That man deserved a nice punch in the neck, at least. But props to the first lady for her quickdraw skills coming to Aaron's rescue.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Movie Mon - I'm a Sucker for Singing Mountain Goats, I Guess

Since last week I kind of let my unadulterated loathing of The Family Stone hijack my reviews, I'm doubling up this week; of course, the fact is that I've been occupied with other stuff, so my doubling up pretty much equals what would be a normal Movie Monday post.

Rumor Has It: Recently engaged woman (Jennifer Anniston) discovers that her family is the basis for The Graduate and goes off in search of the man (Kevin Costner) who slept with both her late mother and her grandmother (Shirley MacLaine). First, let me say that I have never understood the fascination with Jennifer Anniston; she's not a bad actress, but not a terribly good one either. Whatever charisma she has just doesn't click with me; outside of The Good Girl, I haven't enjoyed much of her work. As for the film itself, my feelings towards it are much like my feelings towards Ms. Anniston; not bad, but not terribly good. The relationship between Anniston and Costner was a tad creepy, and the cheesy, predictable ending was, well, cheesy and predictable. I did enjoy MacLaine as the saucy grandmother, and thought that, creepy factor aside, Costner did a fairly good job. If you're a fan of Anniston and/or romantic comedies, you'll probably find this one enjoyable; otherwise, I'd say give it a miss.

Mortuary: Horror flick from Tobe "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" Hooper about an abandoned mortuary whose new tenants soon discover that there was a reason it was abandoned, namely a strange fungus with a taste for blood. For a low budget film (with some pathetic CGI work), this one wasn't all that bad, thanks to an interesting plot and some entertaining characters, including Tasha Yar herself, Denise Crosby. But sadly, once the action moved into high gear, the film went south fast; horribly choreographed action sequences, nonsensical decisions from the heroes, non-stop screeching from the little girl (trust me, that grew real old, real fast), and one of the worst "this is only the beginning" endings I've seen in a long long time.

Tamara A rehash of Carrie, only this time instead of a prank by the popular kids on an outcast with telekinesis results in much bloodshed, the prank is on an outcast with a penchant for witchcraft. This one was a mixed bag: on the one hand, despite relying on the "spurned outcast" trope, there were some original touches in the plot, especially in the way Tamara used her abilities; on the other, the dialogue and acting were nothing to write home about. But, while not a home run of a horror film, it was mostly enjoyable, and at least its "this is only the beginning" ending made sense, as opposed to The Mortuary.

The Heirloom: Taiwanese horror film about a man who inherits his family mansion, which has been vacant (and possibly haunted) since the inhabitants committed mass suicide by hanging years earlier. This one didn't do much for me; while I thought the idea of "raising ghosts" was interesting, what was done with it din't really hold my interest.

Poseidon Adventure: 1970s disaster flick about a capsized luxury liner and a small group of survivors who try to find a way out. It's really difficult to watch this sort of movie without it being colored by everything that's come after; I'm speaking partly about other disaster films, but mostly about films that make fun of disaster films, most notably Airplane; it makes it difficult to take the "cross-section of humanity" aspect seriously. Plus, the film is definitely a product of its times in terms of characterization, acting styles, etc. But taken for what it is, it’s a pretty enjoyable film; a bit cheesy, yes, and the actors do love to chew the scenery, but there are worse things.

Munich: Story of the Mossad agents sent out as assassins to seek retribution for the Black September hostage crisis at the Munich Olympics. Very well done film; probably the best work Spielberg has done since Saving Private Ryan. Yes, at almost three hours long it's a tad on the longish side, but very little of it feels like filler. I thought Eric Bana did a great job in the lead, and Daniel Craig (a.k.a. the new James Bond) was fun as the gung-ho member of the squad.

Hoodwinked: Animated take on the tale of Red Riding Hood, told as a detective story where none of the four major players are exactly what they seem. I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would. I wasn't always impressed with the animation work, which was a tad inconsistent, but was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed all of the songs. My biggest complaint was the whole "extreme Granny" angle, a one-note joke that wasn't that funny to begin with. The singing mountain goat on the other hand . . .

The singing mountain goat made the whole film worthwhile. Well, him and Twitchy the squirrel. Oh, and the Schnitzel on a Stick song. Yeah, overall, a fun family film.

Forbidden Zone: Now, I'm not going to say this is the most bizarre film I've ever seen; what I will say is that it's probably in the top 3, at least. Words can't really do this one justice, but I'll give it a whirl: the Hercules family live in a house whose basement holds a portal to the 6th dimension; curious Frenchy Hercules gets sucked into the portal, where she becomes a concubine for the diminutive (but insatiable) King (Hervé "Da Plane! Da Plane!" Villechaize), much to the consternation of his domineering (and even more insatiable) Queen, necessitating a rescue effort from her brother, grandfather, and classmate Squeezit the Chicken Boy, whose twin "sister (actually his twin transvestite brother) is also trapped in the 6th dimension. Along the way, people burst into song spontaneously, meet the devil and his Knights of the Oingo Boingo (played by the band Oingo Boingo), and have run-ins with Bust Rod, the Servant Frog. Okay, that still doesn't do it justice: here's a brief clip.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg, folks. It's like a live action cartoon, albeit a slightly perverse one; this one is only for fans of the truly bizarre, which is why this one is a cult classic.


Friday, May 12, 2006

Maybe Cedric Was Right . . . Some Things Are Best Left Buried . . .

Diva mentioned in a reply that she had not only found a picture of us with her green teddy bear (as mentioned in The Ballad of Mr. Green Rabbit's Foot), but had also posted it to her own blog a while back. Curious, I did a quick blogger search and, sure enough, found the relevant post. If you'd like to see some more pictures of the lovely and talented Diva (and, come on, who wouldn't?), then click here; but, if you just want to see a picture of 14 year old Cap'n Neurotic in order to mock him (and, come on, who wouldn't?), then look no further.

I don't know what's scarier: the way Cedric the Destroyer is just sort of oozing out of the darkness to swipe GT (the green teddy) away from Diva, or the look on my face.

Nope, it's my face; definitely my face.


He Totally Put "John Whedon"

Many thanks to Zinger for forwarding this on to me. It's things like this that make me really want one of these T-shirts


"Oh, So That's What That Means": a Cap'n Neurotic Cheat Sheet

Last Sunday night Scuba-girl invited several of the Singles over to her place for dinner after Papa Lightbulb's ordination (yes, he's now the Right Reverend Lightbulb); after dinner we were playing Six Card Golf and someone flipped over their last cards, zeroing out their score, prompting me to exclaim "Nothing! Absolutely nothing!"; in response to the blank stares I merely said "If Zinger were here he'd have gotten that."

You see, one of the hurdles of having so many different groups to hang out with (outside of the logistics of finding time to hang out with them all) is keeping track of what references are applicable for what group, made all the more frustrating at the times when a comment springs to mind, only to die before passing my lips because it dawns on me that it's a Book Monkey comment, and would be lost on The Singles, or vice versa. And then there are those times like Sunday, when the comments slip out anyway, and I get a blank stare from my audience. In an effort to forestall (or at least reduce) these blank stares, I’ve decided to expound upon some of the inside jokes, catch-phrases, running gags, and such that fill my fevered brain. As usual, we'll be starting out chronologically with the Wyandotte years.

There's a ton of jokes and references from my youth that litter my mind; I can't hear Kumbaya without also hearing Frost-E-Frost singing "Someone's burning lord, Flaming Joe"; nor can I see Jasmine Guy without hearing Diva exclaim, in her best Whitley impression, "He invaded my boudoir!" I also still get the first seven lines of "The Stone" stuck in my head every so often, but rarely is it applicable to any given situation. But while these are triggered semi-regularly, there are many others which are more likely to escape my lips.

The mind wobbles. This quote came from one of the first episodes of Married With Children I ever saw when dim-bulb Kelly, confronted with some "astounding" fact, mangles the phrase "The mind boggles." It amused me then, and it amuses me still: I still use this phrase in everyday conversation.

Right, Timmy. Many moons ago there was a TV commercial about microwaveable brownies which included an exchange between two brothers: "Right, Timmy?" "Right, Bobby!" The over-the-top acting of the pair struck a chord with my mom and me, and she would often ask for confirmation on something by asking "Right, Timmy?" However, over time the phrase mutated in its tone, and she began to use it in response to students who she felt were being less than truthful, so that "Right, Timmy" became more of an "Oh, whatever."

I'm feeling much better now. This one comes from John Astin's recurring character on Night Court who would inform people that he had been in a psychiatric hospital but was feeling much better now in a voice that belied the point; think my mom still uses this one a lot.

It burns, it burns! Don't recall exactly why he started it, but one of my former classmates used to say this all the time in his best psychopathic voice, and now, so do I.

"Hey, you; I know you, I know you." My high school years were a prime time for the Not Ready for Prime Time Players, and references to the latest Saturday Night Live skits peppered our discussions: Wayne's World, Toonces the Driving Cat, Chicago Super-Fans, Happy Fun Ball, etc. But one of the most frequently quoted bits came from an SNL anniversary special which replayed the "men's synchronized swimming" skit. This special came out around the time that our school had a student-run closed-circuit morning show, and for a long period of time the opening to the show was comprised of clips from the special; lord knows how many times I sat through the swimmers or the "chopping broccoli" song that year. Anyway, out of the swimming skit came two oft-repeated catch-phrases, of which this line from choreographer Corky St. Clair is the first; it was usually used as a greeting of sorts.

"I'm not . . . I'm not that -- strong a swimmer." I find myself quoting Martin Short's line from the same skit anytime the possibility of going to a pool, waterpark, etc. comes up. Both of these gained prominence during my time in competitive speech, which was a breeding ground for these obscure references, many of which were pilfered from the pieces we performed

"I know that sounds simple and stupid, and maybe I am." Diva and I have already discussed the way that lines from her DD from Steel Magnolias have permanently bonded to our brains, and this is one of the two that come to my mind the most often. Self-deprecation, you are my friend.

"I'm fine, I'm fine! I could jog to Texas and back, but my daughter can't! She never could!"
Not a lot of chances to use this one in everyday conversation, yet still, it lives in my head. On a related note, one thing I always enjoyed was going up to somebody who was freaking out, offering them a cup and saying in a heavy drawl "Drink your juice, Shelby."

"Are you mockin' me, Mr. Finch? Makin' fun of me? Ah don't have to take yo' sass, Ah ain't called upon to take it!" Another speech quote, this is from a DD I did from To Kill a Mockingbird: I seldom get out the whole thing, but will often respond to jokes at my expense with at least the first (heavily drawled) sentence or so.

"'Tis a pity" this comes from when we were having to go through collections of skits to find stuff to add to our speech files, and someone came across a scene from the play 'Tis Pity She's a Whore; this title of course struck us as scandalous, and soon became a sort of short-hand insult.

" . . . Compleatly out of character. An early one that was oft-used, but whose exact origins are fuzzy; I know it was a mocking of a phrase used by someone from another school, with the mockery enhanced by the mimicry of the original performer’s delivery of his phrase about people "doing things compleatly out of character." Without context I doubt it will do much for you (heck, it barely does anything for me, nowadays), but at the time it struck us all as so funny that I put it in the introduction to an HD (an introduction that I quickly composed the morning of the competition); of course, when I did the intro, all of the Wyandotte kids in the audience cracked up, while everyone else just gave us blank looks . . . an early example of the "know your audience" principle . . . a principle that would have served me well this past Sunday, huh?

This concludes the first phase of the Cap’n Neurotic cheat sheet; I’m sure there are many more remnants of my younger years that inform my behavior of today, but the preceding were the ones which sprang to mind the easiest; if anything else resurfaces, I’ll be sure to make a note of it for future posts. In the meantime, I’ll be compiling my list of similar turns of phrase that come from my time with the Parkerites.

This could take a while.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Ballad of Mr. Green Rabbit's Foot.

As promised yesterday, today you will learn about my encounter with Mr. Green Rabbit's Foot.

The story takes place my Freshman year of high school during my very first Regional Speech tournament. Regionals meant an overnight trip; we drove down on Friday, spent the night at a hotel, and then headed over early on Saturday for the day long competition. My first event of the day was an HD based on "Don Brown's Body," and it was an unusually somber round; a few folks were laughing, but not a lot. Especially stoic was one of the judges, a man wearing a green rabbit's foot attached to his shirt pocket, presumably because of St. Patrick's Day.

Not too long after the round ended I headed to my preliminary Prose round, only to find that the door was still locked; I waited outside with some other contestants when Mr. Green Rabbit's Foot walks up to me and proceeds to tell me that the HD I had just performed was the worst thing he had ever seen, that there wasn't a single funny thing in it, that he couldn't believe something so horrible had made it to Regionals, etc. He had barely finished tearing into me when someone arrived to open up the room; Mr. GRF then went in and plopped himself down, getting out his judging sheets. Yup, that's right, minutes after being eviscerated by him in the hallway, I had to get up and perform in front of him again.

Now, don't forget, this isn't the semi-sorta-kinda-stable Cap'n Neurotic of today; no, this was the doubt-filled, paranoid, self-conscious, 14-year old Cap'n Neurotic. Needless to say, I was a bit of a wreck, mentally. I was so shocked by the confrontation that I couldn't even begin to process it; I'm kind of proud of myself for being able to put it out of my mind and compete as if nothing happened. Even then, my skills at repression were top notch.

After the round was over, I went in search of my friends in order to fill them in on my run-in with Mr. GRF; it wasn't long before word spread to our speech coach, Mrs. S., who was livid, as was one of our chaperones, which is understandable, since it was my mom. It's probably a really good thing that MR. GRF never ran into my mom that day; he might not have survived. Anyway, Mrs. S. went to file a complaint with the people running the tourney, and I tried to focus on other things; when the list was posted for the finals for Prose and I saw my name on the list, I stopped worrying about the incident.

Of course, in the midst of all of the Mr. GRF hullabaloo there was lots of other stuff going on, both competition wise and "we're bored out of our gourds and must entertain ourselves" wise. The biggest competition related event that I remember was when my HD partner, who was, at best, a reluctant participant in Competitive Speech, and who had been forced into doing Extemp by Mrs. S., basically just blew off his Extemp round; Mrs. S. was not amused. The biggest memory I have of self-entertainment actually involved Diva, Cedric the Destroyer, and a green teddy bear.

The teddy bear was Diva's, and was, I assume, there partially due to it being St. Patrick's Day. While waiting between rounds, Cedric decided to demonstrate his creativity by transforming the green teddy bear into a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, complete with a styrofoam bowl for a shell and mini-ninja weapons made out of paper. I don't think Diva was quite as amused as we were, and restored her bear to normal. A bit later, her bear went missing; in its place was a blackmail note, complete with pictures of the bear involved in questionable activities involving whips, chains, and leather. Diva left the area for a while, and then returned to find that her bear, overcome with shame and guilt from the blackmail, had hung itself.

Please, a moment of silence for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Bear.

Anyway, the time came for me to go perform my Prose piece in the final round. I went in, a little nervous but not too bad, until I saw who one of the judges was; you guessed it, there large as life sat Mr. Green Rabbit's Foot, also known as the man who had just had a complaint lodged against him on my behalf. I tried to tell myself that it didn't matter, that he probably didn't even know yet, etc. Once again, I got up to perform my piece in a highly agitated state of mind, but it must not have thrown off my game too much, since when the awards ceremony rolled around I was named as one of those qualifying for State; the only other qualifiers from my school were the lovely and talented Diva and her DD partner.

On the way home we stopped at a McDonalds for dinner; so did another couple of busses full of speech kids. While we were eating, one guy came over to our table with one of his friends and pointed me out as the freaky guy who did the really sick and twisted Prose piece. My response? Grabbing a French fry, dipping it in ketchup, reciting a key line from "The October Game" in my best spooky voice ("The witch came to harm and this is her arm"), and then taking a huge bite out of the fry. Reactions from my table: laughter. Reaction from the other guys: looks of fear, confusion, and disgust. It was at that moment that we heard a tapping on the window next to our booth; our heads whipped around to see Cedric outside, mouth firmly placed against the glass and blowing hard, doing his best impression of Anthony Rapp in Adventures in Babysitting. Our table erupted into laughter while the guys from the other school mumbled something about "freaks" and then scurried away.

How people like that made it into Competitive Speech, I'll never know.

But the story of Mr. GRF does not end there: one of the nice things about Competitive Speech was that after a competition you got to keep copies of your score sheets, so you were able to see how each judge ranked you and see what sort of comments they made. It was easy to figure out which judge was Mr. GRF, since he was the only threepeat name on the sheets. For the prelim round, he ranked me #1; for the final, post-complaint round, he ranked me #8 out of . . . 8. Coincidence? Well, since the other judges gave me high enough scores for me to move on to State, I'd say there's a good chance that there was some spite involved.

But, hey, it sure made for a good story, huh?


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The World of Competitive Speechifying

All right, the updated Singles Cast List has stalled out yet again; big shocker, I know. Instead, I've been caught in a "remember that time in high school when . . ." loop. Right now the bulk of my nostalgia is focused on my years in Competitive Speech.

I suppose I should start with a brief primer on the different Competitive Speech events for the uninitiated. The basic speech events (in OK, anyway) were:

  • Prose: reciting a prose piece using no movement or gestures
  • Poetry: reciting a poetry piece using no movement or gestures
  • Humorous Interpretation (HI): one person performing a comedy piece with limited movement and voicing at least two characters
  • Dramatic Interpretation (DI): one person performing a dramatic piece with limited movement and voicing at least two characters
  • Humorous Duet (HD): two people performing a comedy piece with unlimited range of movement and characters and two chairs as props
  • Dramatic Duet (DD): two people performing a dramatic piece with unlimited range of movement and characters and two chairs as props
  • Extemporaneous Speaking: persuasive speech based on a randomly drawn topic with limited preparation time; split into Foreign and Domestic categories.
  • Standard Oratory: reciting a memorized speech written by someone else
  • Original Oratory: reciting a memorized speech written by yourself
  • Monologue: one person performing a brief comedy piece with one character and a brief dramatic piece with one character
There was also two forms of debate (Lincoln-Douglas and Cross-Ex), but almost nobody from Wyandotte ever participated in that aspect of it, and I avoided it like the plague (too much preparation and thinking-on-your-feet for my tastes) so I can't speak about it much.

Out of the other events listed, I competed in all except for the two interps. I think my favorites to do were Prose and HD, since they kind of played to my strengths; in Prose I just had to tell the story in a compelling way and was able to pick things that were a bit dark and unusual, while in HD I could let my goofy side out but also had a partner acting goofy onstage with me; I don't think I was very confident in my ability to carry an HI off without that backup, and so I avoided it in competition, only performing Roald Dahl's Jack and the Beanstalk (which I had done as an HD) as an HI at talent shows. My first HD was with Diva, a piece called "The Treehouse;" my character's name was Harold J. Snugglewumpy, or a reasonable facsimile thereof; I can't for the life of me remember her character's name; I do, however, remember how there was another group from our school who also did the same piece, and how the girl in that group had a very unique line reading. I think just about anyone else on earth would see the line "Hey, why are the guys all running around shouting 'Harold's got a girlfriend, Harold's got a girlfriend' over and over?" and do the chant in the typical sing-song style (HAR-old's GOT-a GIRL-friend, HAR-old's GOTa GIRL-friend); she, however, recited it like it was all one word, with the pitch and volume jumping up only on the last syllable: haroldsgotagirlFRIEND, haroldsgotagirlFRIEND. Kind of freaky.

I also enjoyed doing Extemp, insofar as it really didn't require any preparation at all. Oh, sure, our speech coach wanted us to read papers and magazines and clip out articles about world events to use as references, but we were way too lazy for that. I know at least one girl from my school made up some quotes for a competition at Welch, citing some fictitious man's opinion from a fictitious man-on-the-street interview, concluding the fiction with the line "And why does Mr. Fake-Name's opinion matter? Because he's an American that's why!" . . . pretty sure she placed, too. My all time favorite Extemp question was at a tourney in Commerce: "What does God think about pre-marital sex?" That was a fun one to do, since our prep-room was the school library, which gave me access to a Bible to find the relevant scriptures. My most frustrating question (outside of ones where I honestly had no clue what the questions were talking about and had to fly by the seat of my pants) was one about the Olympics, wherein I mentioned that they had decided to stagger Winter and Summer games, and the judges criticized me for because they just knew that they weren't going to split up the games; not having any physical sources with me, I couldn't dispute their disputations. Probably the most embarrassing Extemp story I know happened to one of the girls from my school, who got a question about whether the electoral college should be eliminated or not, and proceeded to do a speech about universities; the judges waited until she was done to tell her "Um, just so you know . . ."

As for the other events, I didn't mind DDs, was bored doing Standard Oratories, wrote my Original Oratory "The Nerd's Soliloquy" the day of competition, and pretty much loathed doing Monologues with their half-serious/half-comedy/all-eyes-on-me-and-me-alone set-up; only did most of these because Mrs. S. insisted that we take at least 3 things to each tourney, and once you'd qualified for Regionals in an event, you couldn't compete in it again except in "Champ" rounds, and there weren't that many tourneys that offered those.

As I've mentioned before, my first year in Competitive Speech was also the first year for my school to have the program; the bulk of the material we had to draw from in the beginning was provided by Gargamel's speech program, which was nice since we didn't have to start from scratch, but bad in that they were basically Picher's hand-me-down pieces which everyone and their dog had already done. It always bugged me when I'd get my score sheets back and they would compliment me on my performance but rip me apart for doing such an over-done piece; in retrospect I can understand their pain. After all, if I never hear "The Nightingale and the Rose" or "A Sandpiper to Bring You Joy" again in my life it will be too soon.

"Sandpiper" is the worse of the two for me, I think: "Nightingale" drove me crazy because I had to hear the same girl do the same over-dramatic reading of it at umpteen competitions, so I always hear her very Shatner-esque reading of it in my head: "The . . . Nigh-ting-gale . . . sang." Painful the first time around, becoming more excruciating with each additional viewing. "Sandpiper," on the other hand, never bothered me all that much until one round of the Prose prelims at State. I recognized one of the girls in the round and knew that she was doing "Sandpiper," which I'd heard several times before at that point; since we knew what order people were supposed to perform in, I excused myself to go to the restroom while she performed so I wouldn't have to hear it again. I waited outside until I heard the polite applause that followed most performances, and then let myself back in. No sooner had I sat down than the next person to perform got up and launched into (you guessed it) "A Sandpiper to Bring You Joy" . . . as did the person after that . . . and yet one more before the round was over. And then I get comments about doing an "overdone" piece like "The October Game" which I never heard anyone else perform . . . but I digress.

One thing that speech students become very good at very quickly is finding ways to entertain themselves during the long, long wait between rounds; some tourneys were notorious for having interminable waits, with Miamuh's being one of the worst; I don't think a single year went by that we didn't go delirious sitting around the cafeteria, waiting for the names for the finals to be posted. And, being Competitive Speech students (which is really just another way of saying Drama Geeks), our methods of entertaining ourselves were usually loud, often silly, and frequently involved mocking and/or mimicking others; some of these mimockeries were debuted at tourneys and then brought back for an encore back home. I can still vividly recall Diva's rendition of an overly-dramatic monologue she witnessed which began with the performer saying (in a raspy voice), "The first time I saw an abortion, the baby was sucked [inward gasp of air] . . . from the mother's womb," and ended with the screamed phrase "The babies! THE BABIES!" It's hard to do it justice in print

I wouldn't say that I was that great at Competitive Speech, but I wasn't that bad either; I rarely took first place, but there was seldom a local tourney where I didn't place in the top three in at least one event. The only time I remember ever placing first was at my very last speech tournament my Senior year in Picher; I took first in Poetry with my reading of a piece by that world-renowned poet, "Weird" Al Yankovic. But, while placing at local competitions was common, placing at Regionals was less so; out of three Regional competitions attended (the one my Senior being skipped due to my trip to Mexico), I only qualified for State at one, and then just barely, thanks to Mr. Green Rabbit's Foot . . . but that's a story for another time.

Like, tomorrow.


All He's Missing Is "Winding the Watch"

I'm sure quite a few of you have already seen this, but it amuses me, and so I must share.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

TV Tues - No, That Sounds Like Monkey Testing; People Will Picket!

Looks like Blogger has briefly resolved its server problems, so I guess I'd better get this posted before it all comes crashing down again.

It's season/series finale time: Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars tonight, super-sized My Name is Earl and The Office on Thursday, Survivor and West Wing on Sunday, Prison Break and How I Met Your Mother on Monday, and a special two-part Grey's Anatomy on Sunday and Monday.

Still three more episode of Lost, though; plenty of time for them to wrap up some mysteries and unveil tons of others.

On to my pellet reviews.

Gilmore Girls: Will next year's creative crew be able to come up with things like Emily's fear that a Rory Gilmore Medical Research Center would attract monkey-loving protestors or Michel's 2% milk inspired calisthenics? I sure hope so, but I'm not holding my breath. I'm also not holding my breath over tonight's season finale not making me want to vomit and/or fly into a violent rage; I'm very afraid that, for once, the WB ads aren't misleading.

Veronica Mars: Okay, did not see Woody's secret coming at all; good show, Rob Thomas, good show. I'm sure there's got to be at least one more twist in tonight's finale; danged if I know what it'll be.

Lost: Man, Jack's dad sure do get around, don't he? I sort of saw Michael's brainwashy behavior coming, but more in a general "think they've fraked with his head" way than in a "oh, he's going to bump off a couple of drunkards" way.

Invasion: Any frustrations I had over the usual stupid character moments were totally wiped away by Sheriff Tom's decision to crash his car to wipe out the bad guy; very cool.

Amazing Race: It sure is getting ugly out there, isn't it?

Top Chef: Boy, I hated to see LeeAnn go; was pulling for her to win.

Survivor: Terry is practically a force of nature at this point; if he makes it to the final two (which I'm hoping he does) it will be interesting to see which is more powerful: the jury's dislike of him for his "cocky" attitude, or their hurt feelings from being stabbed in the back by their former tribe members.

Supernatural: I was enjoying the season finale up until the cliffhanger; while maybe not quite as gratuitous as last season's Alias car crash cliffhanger, it couldn't help but be hurt by following so close on its heels.

Everwood: No show can tug at my heartstrings as consistently as Everwood, and last night's episode was no exception: Hannah's meltdown, Reid's cry for help, Harold and Bright actually having a moment, etc. all combined to make yet another "excuse me, I think I have something in my eye" episode.

Prison Break: I really question the workability of the elevator aspect of the plan, but I was just so ready for them to finally make it over the prison walls, that I was willing to accept just about anything that helped make it happen.

Apprentice: Was soooooooo disappointed that the women won but, to be honest, at this point I don't really care who wins; I'd prefer it not be Allie, but as for the others, it's down to choosing the lesser of 4 boredoms.


24: Nooooooo!!!!!! So close! We were so close to not having to deal with the weasel anymore; darn the other weasel for prolonging our agony. Well before that sequence, however, the annual 24 burnout had set in. Now, to be fair, it's taken a lot longer to set in than usual, thanks to keeping the stupid C and D plots to a minimum and actually maintaining a sense of menace, surprise, and threats which, for the most part, have flowed well one to another. However, it's this same constant, breakneck pace that has worn me down; it's the same principle that made me grow tired of Goodkind's Sword of Truth books: there was never any sense of rest, no respite from impending doom, just characters careening head first from one disaster into the next. I need to have a sense that the characters experience at least some brief moments of carefree joy between threats, otherwise I just get worn out.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Movie Mon.- Loathing; Unadulterated Loathing

You know, I watch a lot of movies.

A lot of movies.

Some I like, some I don't, some I love, some I'm torn on.

There are very few that I actively hate.

Another one has been added to the list.

The Family Stone.

To explain why this movie created such a strong reaction (outside of the fact that I was already in a foul mood before watching it, and was hoping for a cheery comedy to lighten my mood), I have to go into detail about the plot points that drove me insane, but to boil it down to its most essential factor: every single time the film approached a crossroads and I thought "Whatever you do, don't go path A" the film would indeed go down said path.

If you disagree with my assessment, please, feel free to champion the film in the comments; just don't expect it to sway my opinion.

The basic plot of the film is this: majorly-uptight Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) is invited by her boyfriend Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) to spend Christmas with his majorly-liberal family; unbeknownst to her, he plans on getting his grandmother's wedding ring and popping the question. However, his whole family (with the exception of his stoner brother Ben(Luke Wilson) takes an instant dislike to her, making her time there miserable; not being able to handle staying in the house any longer, she checks into a nearby inn, and calls in her sister Julie (Claire Danes) for reinforcements. Unfortunately, as soon as her sister arrives, the entire Stone family falls for her, including Everett; an ugly altercation at dinner revolving around Meredith and Everett's gay, deaf brother Thad and his black life partner (now, that's what Jeff on Coupling might call "over-egging the 'liberal sympathy' pudding), during which neither her boyfriend nor her sister rise to her defense, sends her running away, followed only by stoner Ben. Following some drinking, some smoking, some pointless misunderstandings, and a major blow-up, Meredith winds up with Ben, Everett with Julie, and the mom dies. Oh, did I not mention that the mom (Diane Keaton) was dying of cancer but didn't want her kids to know? Sorry, my bad; guess I just thought that terminally ill characters go without saying in most romantic comedies, right?

Where to begin, where to begin . . .

I hated that, within seeing Everett and Meredith together for less than a day, the entire family automatically knew that he didn't love her, and began ordering him not to marry her; there was no "what do you see in her," no "please, Everett, help us understand," just incessant "she's so uptight, they obviously won't work, he's obviously doing this because he thinks if he gets married and has a perfect life mom won't die" thinking. Frustrating. I hated even more that they were right; making their knee-jerk reactions turn out to be true almost validates their awful, judgmental behavior.

I hated the whole "sibling swapping" storyline, not only on general “saw it coming a zillion miles away” principle, but because it was so ham-fisted in its execution. Everett falls in love with Julie the instant he sees her step off the bus, for crying out loud! He then spends a single evening talking to her while they're ostensibly "searching" for his runaway soon-to-be-fiancé, and he hits on her; as if I wasn't already disliking both of them as it was for the way they acted during the dinner altercation. Which reminds me . . .

I hated the dinner altercation: I didn't buy that Meredith, who had just gotten onto her sister for being too personal for asking if the multi-racial gay couple cared what race their adopted child was, would then launch into her "you didn't really wish your kids were gay?" speech. I hated that after she did launch into it, that she didn't know when to shut up; I hated that everybody at the table was ready to jump on her not only as a homophobe, but also as a racist; I hated that Everett, instead of being a compassionate near-fiancé and trying to either help her clarify or get her to leave it alone, just snapped at her, and then had the audacity to blame the rest of the family for driving her off.

I hated that Everett, after finally getting the family wedding ring, stuck it on Julie’s finger first; what sense does that make? I hated that this led to Meredith finding out about the proposal beforehand, which led to her outburst of “No, I won’t marry you”; I hated that he felt the need to humiliate Meredith by replying "I wasn't going to ask you to marry me" right there in front of everyone, as if she was the biggest moron in the world. I mean, come on! Like the poor woman hasn't been through enough crap that weekend. Not to mention, she’d just been told by her sister that he was planning on popping the question, so it wasn’t that far-fetched a reaction on her part. Much like with my Meet the Parents experience, one of the few things I appreciated in the film was Meredith actually blowing up at the family, although her explosion wasn't quite as fun as Greg Focker's encounter with Halfrek the Vengeance Demon on the airplane, since her meltdown was more self-pitying. And I really, really hated that it was her asking him "Do you hate me?" What the #$*#&#? Let’s see, she got abused, got drunk, blacked out, and mistakenly thought she had cheated on him and instantly regretted it; he dragged her to his family’s home for Christmas, treated her like crap, actually made her feel like an idiot for doubting his affection for him, then hit on her sister and basically announced to the entire household that their relationship was a sham. Hmmm, who was more in the wrong there, I wonder . . .

And for him to offer no real apology, and then go rushing off after her sister . . .

Pardon me a second, I can’t type right now, too busy seeing red.

Okay, all better now.

I hated the way that Everett ran off after Julie, and tried to get her to stay, partially because it was so predictable, but mainly because by this point I totally loathed him; I loved it when the bus pulled away and she wasn't there, since for an instant I thought the film was going to give him his just desserts; I hated it when they showed a long shot of the bus, because then I knew it was going to stop and she was going to get off; I hated it that I was right.

Now, this film has a lot of champions; lots of apologists who try to convince all the haters exactly why it’s actually a tremendous film and anyone who doesn't like it just doesn't have the cognitive capacity to appreciate the films' subtleties. And while I can understand many of their points to some degree, none of them are salient enough to make me say "gee whiz, you're right, this film shouldn't have made me want to kill something after all."

I think the defense that sticks in my craw the most is the "well, the family could just tell that Meredith was just too uptight and wasn't being herself, and when she let down her guard like with the Christmas gifts, they accepted her" defense. First of all, whether she was trying too hard or not, that doesn't excuse the crappy way they treated her; I'm sorry, but the way to make an uptight person unwind is not to jump on everything they say and then accuse them of being racist. And as for the whole picture thing, she had done that long before her drunken, reefer fueled escapades with stoner Ben, so those gifts were a result of the early, "uptight" Meredith; the point should have been more of a "see, if we had just given her a chance, we'd have seen she was okay," but that gets drowned out by the Everett-humiliates-her sequence that follows.

Another big sticking point for many is the argument over whether the behavior of the characters is realistic or not, with many of its detractors saying nobody would act like that, and most of its champions saying that they would. For my money, it doesn't matter one way or the other; just because behavior is realistic doesn't mean that I want to watch 2 hours worth of it.

Probably the most controversial scene in the film is the dinner table sequence, with people split over who was at fault; to me, it's not so much a question of "who's at fault" as "who is the least at fault"; pretty much the only blameless party in that sequence is the little girl, and maybe her mom. Every one else either throws fuel on the fire, or at the least do nothing to put it out.

Many people who loved the film talked about how sad it was, and how much they cried. Well, I cried too: tears of rage. Rage at seeing such an incredibly talented cast wasted; rage at having to see poor Meredith be abused be others and sabotage herself; rage at having to watch the Everett character get off without any blame being thrown his way, even though he was arguably the biggest jackass in the whole film; rage at my need to watch a movie all the way through in hopes of finding redeeming qualities. Now, is it healthy to feel this sort of rage towards fictional characters? Probably not, but that's never stopped me before.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Thomas Crown Affair! Thomas Crown Affair!

A few random things.

  • since every time a new blog monkey jumps on board the CoIM express they tend to ask the same things, I decided to make an F.A.Q.; you can see the link on my sidebar
  • Courtesy of Zinger: a music video blast from the past
  • I've lost track of the number of times I've had to forcibly remind myself that today is not Friday; tomorrow is going to be a looooooooong day
  • Also courtesy of Zinger: fun messing with Best Buy employees
  • They are releasing the original cuts of Star Wars, Empire, and Jedi on DVD; responses have varied from joy over being able to hear the Ewok victory song and see Han shoot first to anger and disappointment at what feels like money-grubbing on Lucas's part
  • I have every intention of having an updated Singles cast page up before the weekend is over
  • I have had this intention before, so do not be surprised if it does not come to pass
  • I skimmed through practically every post I've written so far (minus the Secret Origins series; didn't feel like depressing myself) in preparation for my F.A.Q., and I noticed a steady decline in Parkerite focused posts; why, it's been forever since I've called G'ovich Eeeeeeeeevil or taken a pot shot at Flunky. Shameful. We'll have to see what we can do about that
  • Being in contact with Diva, Cedric, et al again has made me nostalgic for the days of band and competitive speech (man, that sounds so geeky), so expect some Wyandottian themed posts sometime soon. And speaking of Wyandotte . . .
  • While doing one of those mindless surveys on MySpace about Jr. High, I got the idea to do a search for my school fight song, only to discover that it was nowhere to be found online. Well, as the first born son of the woman who's pretty much single-handedly responsible for almost every high school graduate for the past 20+ years knowing the words to the school song, I believe it is my duty to rectify that situation.

    March Wyandotte High
    With your colors on high
    And shout proudly for
    Dear old school we love so well
    Sing to our dear banner of
    Black and white
    So we will be true
    As we march onward and yell
    The bears will fight!
    The bears will fight!
    The bears will fight fight fight fight fight fight fight!
    The bears will fight!
    The bears will fight!
    The bears will fight fight fight fight fight fight fight!
    Here's to the school that we
    Love best of all
    We march with her colors
    Of black and white on high
    Loyal and true we will
    Come to her call
    And prove that her spirit
    And pep will never die
  • I'm going to go now so I can plot with Bubblegum Tate on the best ways to shamelessly promote They Came From Earth-K Our goal: at least one non-spam comment before 2056; keep your fingers crossed!


Feel My Skills, Donkey Donkey Donkey, Donkey Donkey

Did you know that Sudoku has been around since 1979? It was created under a different name and published as part of the American publication Dell Pencil Puzzles and Word Games, but never really caught on in the States until after it was translated into Japanese, became a success, and then was translated back into English.

That's right: Sudoku is the "Jimmy James, Macho Business Donkey Wrestler" of logic puzzles.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I Still Have STP In My Head a Week Later; Thanks, Rocket!

Well, Rocket tagged me sometime last week and since I haven't had a chance to finish reading anything, and my creative juices aren't exactly flowing today, figured this would be as good a time as any to respond

I AM: Sleepy
I WANT: More sleep
I WISH: to be in bed
I HATE: being awake right now
I MISS: sleep
I FEAR: not being able to get to sleep
I HEAR: noises that prevent me from going to sleep
I WONDER: when I will get more sleep
I REGRET: not sleeping
I AM NOT: going to be able to carry this sleep thing any further in the meme
I DANCE: like a white boy
I SING: constantly
I CRY: when I get really, really ticked off
I AM NOT ALWAYS: confident
I WRITE: a lot
I CONFUSE: most people
I NEED: a new car
I SHOULD: start packing
I START: the commotion
I FINISH: off the Coca Cola
I TAG: Redneck Diva


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Which Super-Hero Am I?

My results:
You are Spider-Man

Green Lantern
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...


TV Tues. - As the Season Winds Down, the Drama Ramps Up

Sunday evening I returned home from an enjoyable evening of hanging out with The Singles at Cap'n Bumper's place only to discover that in my haste to make it to FAITH beforehand I had forgotten to set my VCRs for the Sunday night shows, and am now having to track them down.


Anyway, here's my thoughts on the rest of the week's shows.

Bones: And the award for "sappiest episode ever" goes to the killer bone graft episode; and oh, look, it also wins the "most contrived," "least believable," and "clunkiest writing" awards too; they must be so proud.

Prison Break: Watching this last night I'd almost have sworn it was the season finale, so much crap was hitting the fan.

Everwood: What a downer of an episode. The Abbots' disappointment, Reed's expulsion, and, worst of all, the Bright/Hannah meltdown.

Gilmore Girls: Loved Rory's phone call to the elder Huntzberger; loved Lorelei swooping in to save the day; loved the fact that Luke's reticence was revealed to be partially due to a fear that April would like Lorelei more than him; hated hated hated April's mom's wig out. And after stumbling upon the season-ending cliff-hanger spoiler (darn you, Michael Ausiello!), I'm really, really nervous about where things are going to head sans Team Palladino next season.

Top Chef: Very very glad Stephen's gone; his cocky attitude drove me to distraction. The fact that he still was unwilling to admit any fault whatsoever after being booted and then waxed poetic about how he was going to revolutionize the world of cooking sums up everything I couldn't stand about him

One Tree Hill: I haven't watched this show (which doesn't balance the soap elements half as well as, say, The O.C.) in ages, but I'd seen several critics raving about how great the play within the show based on Haley and Nathan's relationship was, so I taped it and fast forwarded to that section of the episode; man, that time would have been much better spent playing Sudoku.

Amazing Race: And my top two teams squeak through yet again: as long as either the Frat Boys or the Hippies win, I'll be really happy.

Supernatural: I'm not sure exactly what it is about Meg that I don't like, but she's just not an enjoyable villain for me; outside of her "That's funny, John" line, there hasn't been anything in her character that has made me hope that she survives the season finale to plague the brothers again. Of course, I'd take a season's worth of Meg storylines if it meant that the show was picked up for next year.

Veronica Mars: Was I the only one kind of hoping the elevator would get stuck on the way up to the alterna-prom, resulting in Mac finally losing her mind and pummeling Veronica into unconsciousness for setting her up with Butters? I was? Well, moving on then.

The O.C.: Nice to see the Summer/Seth relationship finally get fixed, just in time for everything else to go to hell in a handbasket. I really hope that the reports that next season will focus more on mini-Coop are greatly exaggerated; she's an okay character as a brief foil for the others, but having her around non-stop could be the death knell for the show.

E.R.: I've never liked Pratt, always felt that his name was all too appropriate; I suppose the trip to Africa could serve to make him grow up a bit, but I don't really expect any changes to be permanent.

The Apprentice: I was pretty disappointed when The Donald fired Charmane, not because I thought she deserved to stay, but because I though that it meant Tariq was going to get another stay of execution; but as soon as he told her to sit down, I knew it was going to be a double firing. I always enjoy the multiple firing episodes where the people have been at each other's throats the entire time, just for the fun of watching the incredibly uncomfortable cab ride afterwards.

Masters of Horror: Dreams in the Witch House: One of the first installments of Showtime's Masters of Horror anthology series to be released on DVD. This ep was Stuart Gordon doing what he does best (or at least, what he does most often): adapting H.P. Lovecraft. Pretty good performances, but is hampered by some really cheesy and distracting FX, especially the rat-thing, which is horribly hilarious looking.

Masters of Horror: John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns: This ep was based on an original script co-written by Aint It Cool News critic Moriarty about a long-lost film rumored to cause madness and death in whoever views it. Widely regarded as the best of the Masters of Horror episodes, and I can see why; well written, well acted, well directed, and a tad creepy. Honestly, Udo Kier's death scene was the only thing which made me roll my eyes at all; I thought the idea was inventive and fitting, but the FX took me out of it. But other than that brief moment, I was pretty impressed with the show.


24: Don't have much to say about the ep, other than the fact that I loved watching Chloe wield the stun gun, and I hope that she gets a chance to use it on the extremely annoying Homeland Security guy.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Movie Mon. - It's Hard to Play Sudoku and Pay Attention to Movies at the Same Time

Reduced movie watching this week due to massive Sudoku addiction among other things; here be the brief reviews.

Casanova: Period piece with Heath Ledger playing the infamous ultimate lover, who is commanded to find a wife and settle down or else be exiled from Venice upon pain of Inquisition. I was pleasantly surprised by this one; I went in expecting a stodgy drama, and was greeted by an entertaining comedy instead. It's sort of Dangerous Liaisons Lite; all the intrigue, but 1% of the drama!

Tristan and Isolde: Now, here's the stodgy period piece! Film based on the legend of star-crossed lovers caught up in the wars between the Irish and the Britons following the fall of the Roman Empire. Have to admit, I actually dozed off during this one, and had to rewind it a ways when I woke up and thought to myself "hey, why are the people staging a revolution, and whose head is that Tristan is holding in his hands?" Not a badly done film, but just couldn't keep my interest at all; maybe if I'd tried to watch it while I wasn't sleep deprived . . .

Mammoth: Intentionally cheesy film from the Sci-Fi channel about a frozen mammoth that gets possessed by an alien life form and terrorizes a small town. Not a whole lot to say about this one; its self-aware humor worked some times, and other times fell flat. Most of the times the humor fell flat involved the inclusion of "zany" sound effects, used in a "look, we know how silly this is, all right? Now, back off!" sort of way. Self-aware and tongue in cheek: fine. Slapstick and sound effects reminiscent of the more painful moments in The Batman Film That Must Not Be Named: not so much.

Black Christmas: Slasher film from the 70s starring Margot Kidder and Andrea Martin as girls in a sorority house being stalked by a psycho killer around Christmas time, brought to us by the director responsible for Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, A Christmas Story, and Porky's. Now, Silent Night, Deadly Night this is not; it's actually a very well done little film. It predates Halloween (in fact, director Bob Clark takes credit for the idea for Halloween on the commentary) and thus avoids many of the clichés of the genre which would pop up post Halloween and Friday the 13th. Margot Kidder is fun as the foul mouthed, drunken sorority girl, and most of the other cast members do a good job as well; one thing that's enjoyable about the film is that the characters all feel well developed. Best scene in the movie is probably the murder intercut with shots of the children caroling; switching back and forth from the (mostly off-camera) violence to the creepy little kids was pretty effective. Much better film than I had expected.

Shopgirl: Romantic dramedy based on the book by Steve Martin about a department store worker (Claire Daines) who becomes romantically involved with an older, wealthy patron (Steve Martin). Another film that bored the heck out of me; about the only scenes that held my interest were those involving Jason Schwartzman as Daines' spurned lover, and then only for his terrifically oddball performance. I disliked having Martin do the narration as well as star; the narrator voice is obviously not from the P.O.V of his character, so his pulling double duty was a bit distracting. I would have much rather seen the long-gestating film version of Martin's hilarious play "Picasso at the Lapin Agile", if for no other reason than to see if they somehow worked the "In Order of Appearance" gag into the script. But instead we got this; I have to wonder if the book is any better, but to be honest, this film in no way made me want to find out.


¡Feliz Cumpleaños a Coronela!

A quick happy birthday wish to the incomparable (and bilengual) Coronela, who just barely edges out Wrath teh Berzerkr and Clan G'ovich as the Parkerite I've been friends with the longest.


May Day Mayday - The Earth-K-lians Have Landed

Don't let the title of the blog fool you, it's not quite what you might expect; but it is a subject near and dear to my heart.

My dear blog monkeys, may I present to you the unveiling of my newest side project (with some help from a certain Fellow Book Monkey and Blogger): They Came From Earth-K!

Bets on how long before we miss an update will now be entertained.