Friday, June 30, 2006

"Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion. "

You know, I want to be blogging more regularly, really I do. I mean, I don't like the thought of all the eager blog monkeys logging on to CoIM in hopes of a dose of my witty and insightful musing, full of pithy sayings and jocularity aplenty, only to instead be confronted with the *shudder* three-day-old posts. The only thing worse than the thought of dealing such disappointment is when Zinger points it out, taking a quote from one of my favorite movies, twisting it to his own evil purposes, and using it against me: "Todd, sometimes I doubt your commitment to CoIM."

That's just hurtful, that is.

Almost as hurtful as this link that he sent me while I was working on this post*.

Mean mean Zinger.

The lack of blogging can be attributed to a few things

  • Busy schedule: The last month or so has been filled with various activities which have drained my will to blog, from moving to Singles events to a weekend visit from the parental units; add on a Parkerite gathering tomorrow and a Book Monkey gathering on Sunday -- both of which will require much driving on my part -- and you can bet I'll be brain-dead by Monday.

  • Reading: I've been in reading mode the last few weeks, having finally finished Robin Hobb's The Tawny Man series, as well as having read the first two volumes of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the New Olympians series, not to mention having been browbeaten by Bubblegum Tate into starting Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep. And, while I can sometimes blog while watching TV (as long as Biz-Z has left his laptop out), blogging while reading a book just isn't all that feasible.

  • Good Old-fashioned Writer's Block: When I do get the urge to blog, I've been finding myself stymied by an inability to conjure the appropriate words to describe any given situation. That's why you've yet to see my Tawny Man review, even though I finished those books weeks ago; just haven't been happy with any of my efforts at summarizing the plot. I know when I get like this I need to just power through and keep writing, much like I did when working on In a Cabin, but at least with that I knew that I could go back and edit it later before sending it off to Flunky; with the blog, once it's out there I don't like going back and tinkering with it unless absolutely necessary. But, at this point, in order to demolish the writer's block (not to mention get a Zinger-sized blog monkey off my back), I guess I'll just type up whatever substandard, pedestrian crap pops into my head. And with that in mind . . .

I had a bit of a surprise at lunch today; ordered a cheeseburger plain (of course), but when I bit into it, it definitely wasn't plain, but the taste wasn't the usual mayo or mustard or onion or whatever they usually leave on there when they screw up my order. I took off the bun, and saw a whitish sauce with green things sprinkled in it. I promptly spit out the hunk of burger (it was a really big bite), and took the unmasticated portion back up to the front. The cashier double-checked what she had typed in, and saw that she had hit plain and so declared "Well, it wasn't my fault," only to have the girl who had prepared the burger tell her that actually, it was: you see, when she had pressed the "plain" button, her finger slipped and hit another button afterwards . . . a button marked "pesto."

I still can't get the taste out of my mouth.

Hope that brief tale of my discomfort will appease the ravenous hoard of blog-starved blog monkeys clamoring for blood. And if not, well, I'll leave you with one of Dr. G'ovich's favorite songs back in the Parker days.

Disclaimer: major expletives, while deleted, are still easily made out, for those of you with sensitive ears.

*I told Zinger I was going to work the link into the post I was writing. His reply: "I look forward to seeing it next Wednesday"


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

TV Tues - Let Them See the Fury of the Monarch!

Before I get into the post proper, just wanted to express my joy at the official announcement that there will soon be new episodes of Futurama, one of the smartest, funniest animated shows ever. The rumors have been circling about it forever, so it's nice to finally get confirmation. In celebration, enjoy this trailer for An Inconvenient Truth done by the Futurama crew.

And now, on with the usual ramblings.

The Closer: While I enjoyed the antics of Brenda trying to obscure her personal life from her mother, I never got the feeling that her mother was the sort of character who would evoke the strong paranoia that seemed to drive Brenda's actions; I suppose we saw a brief glimpse of it as she was grilling poor Gabriel, but even then it was only a glimpse. Still, an excellent ep as usual.

Last Comic Standing: The heckling competition was a great idea, and I'd love to see more of it at some point. As has been previously stated, I was very glad to see Stella get booted, as was everyone else I know who watches the show.

Saved: To quote The Beatles: "I have to admit it's getting better, a little better all the time (It can't get much worse)." The show is climbing out of the pit of melodrama and heavy-handedness that was the pilot, but oh so slowly; still, last night's full-moon ep was head and shoulders above the silly "suicide" episode of last week, which was still head and shoulders above the pilot. I'm pretty much watching this out of inertia at this point; if it were any other time of year, this would have been jettisoned already.

Venture Bros.: I was able to get the first season DVDs watched in time to prepare me for the second season premiere on Sunday; man, do I love this show. Take one part Johnny Quest, one part Hardy Boys, one part Scooby Doo, one part Fantastic Four, mix together and add in a dash of off-beat, self-aware, borderline absurdist humor, and you've got a show that seems tailor made for a geek like me. Ranks up there with Futurama for smartest and funniest cartoon on the air. I think "Tag Sale . . . You're It" is still my favorite episode, but it's got some tough competition. But the one thing there's no debate about is my favorite character: The Monarch.

Felicity Season 1 DVD: As I watched the pilot for Felicity, I found myself wondering one thing: how in the world after seeing that did I ever watch another episode? Then I watched the one after it and remembered why I stuck the series out when I laughed out loud several times thanks to Noel and Meghan; you see, I never really watched Felicity for Felicity; I watched Felicity for Noel and Meghan and Richard and Sean and Javier. Not that Felicity herself was off-putting or anything, nor was she the blandest character on the show (that dubious honor falling in Ben "The Whisperer" Covington), but honestly, if she and Ben had disappeared after the finals (as in exams, not as in last) episode and the show had suddenly been transformed into "Noel and Friends," I would have been okay with that. Why the finals episode? Because in addition to being the last episode that I've watched so far and one of the best episodes of the entire series, it's also the one that introduced us to Richard, the last truly great addition to the cast.

Now, this got me thinking: how many TV shows are there which I've watched not because of, but in spite of the titular character? Let's see . . .

I watched Frasier not for Frasier, but for Niles, Daphne, and Roz
I watched Will & Grace not for W&G, but for Jack and Karen
I watched Alice not for Alice, but for Mel, Vera, and Flo
I watched Dawson's Creek not for Dawson, but for Joey, Pacey, Andi, Abby (oh, how I missed evil little Abby after she was gone) and Grams
I watched Buffy not for Buffy, but for Xander, Giles, Willow, Anya, Spike, Drusilla, Glory, The Mayor, etc.
Heck, I even watch The Venture Bros. more for the Monarch, Dr. Orpheus, and Dr. Girlfriend than for Hank and Dean.

I'm sure there quite a few other examples out there, as well as some counter-examples (I can't imagine Veronica Mars without Ms. Mars, for example), but those are the first ones to come to mind; if you have any suggestions, please, leave a comment.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Movie Mon. - Who'd Have Thought That Subtitles Would Be My Favorite Part of a Movie?

Not much in the way of introductory thoughts this time around; let's just dive right in.

Syriana: Political thriller about a CIA agent (George Clooney), an energy consultant (Matt Damon), a corporate lawyer (Jeffrey Wright), an idealistic Arab prince (Alexander Siddig), and a disillusioned Pakistani man (Mazhar Munir) who are all caught up in the machinations and dealings surrounding the merger of two major oil companies. This is not one of those movies you can only give half you focus to; it takes 30 minutes for the film to set up the basic plot threads, and from then on it's just a matter of sitting back and trying to track how each of them will intersect all of the others. While I enjoyed the film, it's not one I'd ever want to see again. Although Clooney did a good job, I don't think he really deserved the Oscar for this one; thinking it was one of those pity Oscars they sometimes award when an actor gets screwed over elsewhere.

Minotaur: Low budget reimagining of the story of Theseus and the minotaur, with the minotaur being designed as a giant mutant bull rather than the traditional half-bull/half-man of myth. A couple of interesting moments here and there, with lots of scenery chewing by horror veteran Tony Todd, but not really much here to recommend.

The Hills Have Eyes: Remake of the Wes Craven classic about a vacationing family being picked off by a group of psychotic hill folk, with the added twist this time of the killers being not inbred, but mutated by atomic testing. Fairly well done film, with a likable enough cast of victims, led by the nigh-unto-unrecognizable Aaron Stanford (a.k.a. Pyro in the X-men films). Think most horror fans will enjoy it.

Night Watch: Russian horror/fantasy film about an ancient war between the two factions of supernatural beings known as "The Others" and a prophecy about the coming of a powerful new Other who will tip the balance between the two sides. The first of a proposed trilogy, this movie broke all box-office records in Russia when it came out. I really enjoyed this one, but I do have some conflicting emotions on the version I saw. On the one hand, I know that it's different from the original version shown in Russia, with some scenes trimmed, others added in, and others rearranged; how much of this was done under the control of the original director, and how much was just the studio, I don't know, which is bothersome. On the other hand, one of my favorite features of the film was something that (as far as I've been able to discover) was not included in the original film: animated subtitles. What does that mean? Well, in other words, the subtitles don't just pop up on the screen as plain text; instead, they often reflect what's happening on screen: when a vampire enthralls a young boy, her mental commands appear in a wavering red, initially formed from drops of blood; when the protagonist is screaming for a dark Other to stop her witchcraft, his screams appear in caps, carpeting the screen; at times, the subtitles shift and move around the background as the character walk across screen. It's amazing how much they enhanced the film; even if you're one of those Philistines who listens to dubs instead of the original audio track, do yourself a favor and watch the Russian version of the film.

Glory Road: True story of the first NCAA basketball team to start an all-black starting line-up in the national championships. I'm not exactly a big fan of the inspirational sports movie as a general rule, but I enjoyed the heck out of this one. I think one of the things I liked about it was that while the race card was a factor when dealing with the outside world, it wasn't the driving force of the team dynamic; yes, it reared its head a few times, but not in an overly preachy sort of way. Plus, knowing that it's based on real events helps keep the game outcomes from feeling contrived. Add on strong performances from all involved, and you have a sports movie I can actually feel good about recommending to one and all.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Queue Adds

Time for the semi-regular "list of movies I've added to my Netflix queue" posting; thrilling, I know.

The Promise: Sprawling Chinese fable about a spoiled concubine cursed by a goddess to never know love

Fast Food Nation: It's a Richard Linklater film, so it goes in my queue regardless, although the inclusion of Avril Lavine in the cast does give me pause . . .

Lonely Hearts: True crime story starring John Travolta and James Gandolfini about the hunt for the "Lonely Hearts Killers" in the 40s

Down in the Valley: Ed Norton as a delusional "cowboy" who falls for Evan Rachel Wood.

Running With Scissors: A young man with unstable parents finds himself a de facto member of his mom's therapist's family.

The Covenant: Based on a comic book abour four young men who accidentally unleash an evil supernatural force

The Boondocks Season 1: While I've never really watched the show, I've heard nothing but raves about it.

These Girls: Drama starring David Boreanas of Buffy, Angel, and Bones fame and Caroline Dhavernas of Wonderfalls fame . . . okay, so maybe fame is too strong of a word to associated with Wonderfalls, even if it was one of my all-time favorite TV shows. Anyway, no idea what this is about (hey, I just find the trailers, I don't watch 'em), but the combo of those two makes it queue-worthy.

When Do We Eat?: Comedy about a Passover gathering which gets a little more interesting when the host accidentally takes a dose of Ecstasy.

Last Legion: Period piece about the decline of the Roman Empire

What We Did on our Holidays: Dark British comedy about a family vacation gone terribly wrong.

Quiet Kill: Basically Fatal Attraction with the genders flipped, this horror/thriller gets on my list for two words, and two words only: Claudia Christian. And if that name means nothing to you, then you must go out and rent the first four seasons of Babylon 5 immediately.

Go on.

I'll wait.

See? Ivanova rocks!

Wah-wah: Based on the life of British actor Richard E. Grant growing up in South Africa in the 60s.

Nearing Grace: Drama starring Gregory Smith as a young man dealing with the disintegration of his family following the death of his mother.

Keeping Up with the Steins: Satire about a shy teen who tries to use the lavish Bar mitzvah his father (Jeremy Piven) insists on throwing as an opportunity to repair the rift between his dad and grandfather (Garry Marshall)

See No Evil: A horror movie produced by the WWE and starring WWE Superstar Kane; how can I pass it up?

A Prairie Home Companion: I'm a sucker for Altman's character study style, and if anyone can do Garrison Keilor's work justice, it's him.

Pan’s Labyrinth: I was a big del Toro fan even before he knocked Hellboy out of the park; the super-freaky trailers for this one actually make me salivate in anticipation. Man, I hope they get to work on Hellboy 2 soon.

Step Up: Juvenile delinquent finds redemption through dance.

Breaking and Entering: Drama about an architect who finds his life changed by a young thief. Features Jude Law, Ray Winstone, and Robin Wright Penn.

Babel: Three seperate stories set in different countries, at least one of which features Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.

Marie-Antoinette: I don't care if it did get booed at Cannes, it's got Kirsten Dunst and Jason Schwartzman, so it's a must-see.

Grudge 2: While I wasn't a huge fan of the first one, there was enough creepiness in it to make it worth my while, so I'll give this one a shot as well. Plus, it's got the excellent Amber Tamblyn, which is always a plus.

The Assassination of Jesse James DRAMA: Period piece starring Sam Shepard, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell, Zooey Deschanel, Ted Levine, and Brad Pitt as the titular character.

A Good Year: Ridley Scott film about an Englishman (Russel Crowe) who inherits a vineyard, only to have his ownership contested by an American woman.

Casino Royale: I'm not the world's biggest Bond fan, but I'm curious to see how Daniel Craig does in the role.

Southland Tales: The sophomore film of the helmer of Donnie Darko would be a no-brainer addition to my list even if it hadn't been described as a "comedy-musical-SF-thriller"

Flushed Away: Computer animated film about a posh rat getting swept into the sewers of London.

Dreamgirls: Big screen adaptation of the award winning musical loosely based on the Supremes.

Eragon: Adaptation of the best-selling fantasy series, which is probably known most for the fact that it was written by a teenager.

Bug: Ashley Judd in a drama about a woman and an unstable war veteran stuck together in a seedy motel room in Oklahoma.

The Messengers: Horror film from the Pang Brothers starring Dylan McDermot and John Corbett

Meet the Robinsons: Computer animated film about a boy genius who travels to the future.

Invincible: Mark Wahlberg stars in the true story of Vince Papale, the oldest rookie in NFL history.

Evan Almighty: Sequel to Bruce Almighty starring Steve Carell as a man being tasked to build an ark in preparation of a flood.

Slings and Arrows Season 1: Canadian comedy series about a misfit theater company.

Room 6: Horror film starring Jerry O'Connel and Christine Taylor

Galaxy High: I loved this show as a kid; curious to see how well it holds up.

The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. the complete series: Sadly I missed out on this show back in the day, so I'm glad to get a chance to catch it now.

NCIS Season 1: I never watched any NCIS until recently, but what I saw was entertaining enough for me to give the DVDs a watch.

Dreamland: Film about a young woman living in a trailer park who has to decide between staying to take care of her father or moving off to find her own life.

Straight Into Darkness: WWII horror movie featuring James LeGros

The Zodiac: One of several upcoming films about the Zodiac killer; I'm most interested in the David Fincher one, but this one has Rory Culkin, who has impressed me in the past.

Clean: Drama starring Maggie Cheung as a wannabe singer with a past of drug use struggling to get her life on track.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Dog Day Afternoon

My first night in the new place, Biz-Z asked me if I was going to be around the next day to let the pest control guy in since ol' Biz would be working his first 24 hour shift at the fire dept. I said sure because (a) I'm always happy to help out and (b) I have no life. So, the next evening the pest control guy shows up around 6:30 or so, and I let him in to spray a bit in the house. He then asks me if the gate to the back yard is open and if we had a dog back there. I started to tell him that no, there was no dog here, but then I realized: I honestly didn't know. Thinking better safe than sorry, I told him "I'm not sure, I just moved in, let me go check."

I'm sure that sounds a little strange; I mean, how could I move into a place and not know they had a dog? Well, when I was first getting ready to move in The Anti-Cap'n and Biz-Z both made a big deal about the cat but never mentioned a dog, which lead me to think that the cat was the only pet on the premises. However, the cat was a big deal because it was an inside animal, whereas an outside dog might not have crossed their minds; plus, the barking I had chalked up to being a neighbors dog had sounded awfully close . . . So, while the pest guy goes back to his truck to get some gear, I looked for the gate to the back yard fence, slowly opened it, and thus had my first encounter with Sam.

Of course, I didn't find out his name was Sam until later; at the time, all I knew him as was "unfamiliar dog in my backyard." And as you might remember from my recounting of my encounter with Lucky/Charley/Killer, I have some issues when it comes to unfamiliar dogs, what with having my head ripped open by a German Shepherd when I was 4 and all. So opening up the gate and finding a strange dog staring back at me: not exactly my ideal situation. Still, I knew the pest control guy needed to get back there eventually, so I decided to test the waters. Closing the gate (which was being held shut by a stack of bricks due to latch issues), I went back into the house and approached Sam via the back door, cracking it open just a bit and sticking my hand out for him to sniff. Once my hand wasn't immediately snatched from my wrist I eased myself outside and began to let him get acquainted with me. Despite some nervousness on my part (which I was sure he could sense, which of course made me even more nervous), Sam seemed friendly enough . . . until the pest control guy came through the gate.

At that point, friendly Sam turned into psycho-killer Sam, barking, growling, baring his teeth, and rushing at the pest control guy. Cue my adrenaline rush and elevated heart rate. I called for Sam to come back over to me, even though the last thing I wanted was for the slavering maniac canine to venture in my direction, but Sam tucked his tail between his legs and came back over to me, all signs of aggression gone. Then the pest guy moved towards us, and the psycho pooch rose again until I got his attention. This cycle repeated several times, my efforts to calm Sam hindered by the fact that deep down I was sure that if I got between him and the pest guy he would decided that I was in cahoots with his target and then turn on me as well. But, I kept plugging away, keeping Sam distracted enough to let the pest guy spray around the house. As he finished, I let out a sigh of relief, knowing that he would be leaving and I wouldn't have to play the part of backyard rodeo clown anymore.

Then the pest control guy turned his back on Sam, and I discovered that I had only though I'd seen full-on psycho pooch before.

As soon as the guy's back was turned, Sam took off after him like a shot, his aggressive behavior cranked up to 11. The pest guy whirled around, his tank and sprayer thrust out in font of him as a shield. I tried calling Sam, but it was no use; he was caught up in the mist of The Red, and all he cared about was the intruder in front of him. And as much as I wanted to help the guy, there was no way on God's green earth I was moving close to them; remember, I once froze up because a strange dog licked my hand while I wasn't expecting it -- there was no way my body was moving anywhere near those snapping jaws.

Luckily, the pest guy was able to back out of the gate and get it shut again before Sam actually jumped at him; as soon as the guy was out of sight, Sam instantly reverted to friendly mode, trotting over to him with a happy look on his face, like he deserved a reward for driving off the bad guy. I, in turn, was wondering if my lack of cell service would make it impossible for me to call 911 in case my pounding heart did indeed burst from my chest as it had been threatening to for the past several minutes. I went back inside as quickly as my shaky legs could take me and then headed out front to apologize to the pest guy, who is apparently used to such encounters, having been attacked by a Rottweiler a week earlier.

Note to self: never go into the pest control business.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I Think She Was Going for Funny-Ha-Ha, but Wound Up with Funny-Sad

I want to look away, but can't . . .


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

TV Tues. - Can You Say "It's Rigged" Boys and Girls?

Watchable TV is still in short supply for those of us without HBO, FX or Bravo; thanks heavens for TV on DVD, eh?

Last Comic Standing: Remember how last week I had put forth the hope that there would be funnier acts in the second half of the selection round? Well, the good news it, there were; the bad news is, almost none of those acts were selected. As I watched them calling out the names of the finalists, the only thing that kept my jaw from hitting the floor was the fact that I needed it to help form the screams of "noooooooooooooooooooooo!" that issued forth when I realized that they had passed over Doug Benson, Josh McDermitt, and Nikki Payne for that black hole of comedy known as Stella; honestly, I find Buck Star more entertaining than her, and that's just sad. It's hard to deny that the contestants were picked more for what sort of drama they could bring to the house than for any real comedic talent, and that just ain't funny.

The Closer: It's the little things that make this show one of the best on the air, like watching the look on Brenda's face as all of her co-workers sample her mom's fudge while she abstains. Priceless. And it was nice to see Frances Sternhagen (best known as Cliff's mom on Cheers and Carter's grandma on E.R.) as Brenda's mom.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Movie Mon - I Like My Comedy Dark

Last week was a good week for movie watching, both in quantity and in quality, although there were still a couple of, if not mediocre, than at least less-enjoyable, films in the bunch.

On to the (much belated) reviews

Dave Chappelle's Block Party: Documentary about an enormous block party thrown by Dave Chappelle, featuring performances by a ton of big hip-hop names, including Mos Def, Kanye West, Erykah Badu and a reunion of The Fugees. You know, if it had been just about anyone else organizing this, the film wouldn't have been a blip on the general public's radar, but since it's Chappelle running the show, suddenly this movie that's just a step above a concert film is considered a must see. So, is it? Yes and no. If you're renting this hoping to see non-stop Chappelle goodness, then prepare to be disappointed; yes, there's quite a bit of Dave here, and the sequences with him interviewing people on the street and emceeing the party are pretty funny, but you have to make it through lots of hip-hop performances to get there. Now, if you're a fan of hip-hop, this might bother you; if you loathe it, the fastforward button on your remote might get a bit of a workout; if you're somewhat indifferent, you might just let it play, using the musical interludes as a chance to finish up reading the last book of the fantasy trilogy you've been working on.

Three guesses which category I fell in.

On the whole, I enjoyed the film, and would suggest that everyone rush out and rent it just for the section about the Broken Angel House, which has to be seen to be believed.

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada: Tommy Lee Jones directs and stars in this dark comedy about an overly aggressive border patrol officer (Barry Pepper) who accidentally kills illegal immigrant Melquiades, and who is then kidnapped and forced to travel (with the body) to Mexico by Pete (Jones), a ranch hand who is trying to fulfill a promise to his dead friend Melquiades. This is a strange one, and that's for sure; strange, but good. I found it interesting that in his feature film directorial debut, Jones chose to play a character who wasn't necessarily all there; when the local sheriff (played by Dwight Yoakam) calls Pete "crazy" early on, I put it down to jealousy, but as the film moves on, I began to think that there might have been more to his judgment than the ravings of a green-eyed monster. My biggest complaint with the film is its non-linear storytelling structure early on. Now, I don't normally have a problem with non-linear structures, but here it felt pointless, especially since the chronological confusion was confined to early part of the film. It wouldn't have bothered me as much if there had been a more clear cut way of identifying when we were in the past and when we were in the present, mainly for one reason: I'm still unsure how much of Barry Pepper's actions took place before the accidental shooting and how much took place after. If his over-eager nature when going after illegal immigrants was pre-shooting, the character is just a jackass; if it happened after, then it was a product of his denial, and more understandable. If the intention was to leave things ambiguous, then mission accomplished; otherwise, the mark was missed. But there was so much greatness in the other aspects of this morbid little film that I'm willing to forgive it the stumble out of the gates.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Another dark comedy, this time about a thief masquerading as an actor (Robert Downey Jr.) who gets drawn into a convoluted murder case while shadowing a P.I. (Val Kilmer) doing research for a role. I like to describe this film as meta-noir; throughout the film Downey's voice-over narration points out again and again that he knows he's trapped in something right out of Raymond Chandler story, although most of the noirish conventions (including the narration) are turned on their head early on -- while the film owes much of its style and inspiration to noir, it is more of a comedic deconstruction of noir than a reinvention of noir. Of course, that probably doesn't do much for the handful of blog monkeys out there asking "what the heck is noir and why should I care?" So for you filmic philistines, I'll put aside the noir-speak and just say that I laughed harder at this film than I have at anything else I've seen in the past couple of months. I know this one isn't for everyone; if you look at the IMDB boards for it you'll see that it's a very polarizing film, and I know that some of you blog monkeys won't appreciate its black humor all that much, but if you're the sort of person who thought that the accidental shooting in Pulp Fiction was hilarious, this movie might just be for you. Now, I will say that I found the ending to be a bit over-the-top, but after watching the next movie, it feels like a Merchant Ivory film in comparison.

Running Scared: A low-level mob thug (Paul Walker) tasked with disposing of a gun used by a superior in the killing of a dirty cop finds himself in a world of trouble when the gun is stolen by his son's best friend Oleg (uber-creepy child actor Cameron Bright) and used to shoot a connected Russian. Trust me when I say the following: the above synopsis does not even begin to scratch the surface of the insanity contained within this film. Honestly, I don't think I can even come close to conveying to you just how many weird twists and turns this movie takes; my suspension of disbelief was stretched almost to the breaking point. It's almost like little Oleg was a walking, talking Hellmouth, attracting all sorts of evil just by his very existence. That being said, I found the movie moderately enjoyable; yes, it was so over-the-top that it would have needed telescopic vision to see over-the-top down below it, but even as The Anti-Cap'n and I were yelling "Oh, come on!" at the screen, I was still glued to it. If nothing else, the film earns a gold star for the resolution of the strangers-with-ice-cream sequence; A.C and I both cheered then.

Green Street Hooligans: After being expelled from Harvard under false pretenses, journalism student Matt (Elijah Wood) travels to England to visit his sister (Claire Forlani, who is apparently British and yet still plays an American) and her husband Steve, only to become mixed up in the incredibly violent world of soccer hooligans, joining the West Ham "firm" led by Steve's younger brother Pete (Charlie Hunnam). Very well-done (though often brutal) film which, if nothing else, gave me insight into the world of hooliganism, although I'm sure it's still a far cry from the real world. I know a lot of British viewers were scornful of Hunnam's Cockney accent, but to these untrained American ears, it sounded all right. Clich├ęs abound, but none so grievous as to mar my enjoyment of the film.

Alchemy: Romantic comedy about a computer science professor (Tom Cavanaugh) who tries to save his career by staging an experiment pitting his A.I. against another professor in an effort to win a woman's heart (Sarah Chalke). Goofy, inoffensive, mildly predictable film that suffers from low production value but engages because of the charisma of its leads. Mindless fluff, but in an entertaining way.

The Big White: Still another dark comedy, this time about an Alaskan businessman (Robin Williams) so desperate to claim his long-lost brother's life insurance policy that he uses a dead body dumped by his business to stage insurance fraud, which leads to complications in the form of a relentless fraud investigator (Giovanni Ribissi), the two hitmen responsible for the dead body (Tim Blake Nelson and W. Earl "Dan on Deadwood" Brown), and the prodigal brother who isn't too happy about being declared dead (Woody Harrelson); throw in the businessman's looney-tunes wife (Holly Hunter), and mucho mohoohoo ensues. Or at least, that seems to be the intent. As for the actual execution, well, to me it all felt a bit off. While I like the entire ensemble (which also includes the lovely and talented Alison Lohman as Giovanni's phone-psychic girlfriend), something about the film just didn't gel with me. There were some laugh out loud moments here and there, most of them associated with the foul-mouthed Hunter and the ditzy Lohman, but on the whole the comedy fell flat . . . although, I did feel like the entire film was almost worth it just for Giovanni's reaction to Williams’s speech at the end; priceless.

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things: Disturbing film about the havoc wreaked in a young boy's life when he's abducted from foster care by his druggie, paranoid, trailer park prostitute mother. Sounds really uplifting, huh? Based on the "memoirs" of J.T. LeRoy, who may or may not be a real person, this movie is pretty much guaranteed to leave you feeling all slimy and dirty inside; there are hardly any characters with redeeming qualities at all. Instead, we get to see young Jeremiah subject to abuse in all its myriad forms: mental, physical, sexual, pharmacological, spiritual, etc. Tons of star cameos in this (Kip Pardue, Winona Ryder, Ben Foster, Jeremy Sisto, Peter Fonda, and the nigh-unrecognizable Michael Pitt as obviously mentally disadvantaged Buddy), and all of the actors give fine performances, but the film as a whole did next to nothing for me; too much dark in this one, not enough comedy in this piece of transgressional fiction, I suppose.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

What a Bunch of Mohoohoo!

While there are many things I need to blog about, there's one event which I feel compelled to share first, even though I'm pretty sure most of the hilarity boils down to "you just had to be there."

Still, it's worth a try

Last Wednesday afternoon Cap'n Cluck sent out an email to the Singles inviting us to an impromptu Game Night at her house since her parents were out of town.* She offered to provide hamburgers and hot dogs as long as the rest of us brought the other cook-out accoutrements; I was given the task of bringing buns for the hamburgers and hot dogs, but was only half successful, there apparently having been a huge run on buns at every convenience store and gas station I stopped at on my way to Cluck's. I would have gone out of my way to go get some more, but I decided to stop at Cluck's first to see if they were necessary, since I wasn't really sure how many people were going to show up. Last-minute things don't always get heavy attendance, especially when the invite goes out by email. Now, some phone calls were made, mostly by Scuba-girl and myself. Why not Cap'n C? Because poor Cluckity was in the throes of full on allergy attack resulting in her losing her voice. Out of the people I called I got several "no"s, a couple of "maybe"s, and left a few voicemails, which didn't leave me very optimistic about the turnout for the evening.

But in the end we had a pretty nice sized group show up for dinner: in addition to Cluck and myself there was The Anti-Cap'n, Magic Pants, Trouble, Scuba-girl, and the heretofore nicknameless H.Q.** We were also expecting a friend of Cluck's from Denton Bible who most of us only knew as The Cardinal, since that was the character he played at our murder mystery dinner a while back; before dinner he had texted Cluck to see what he needed to bring, and at the urging of the rest of us she responded "dessert." So, she was quite confused when he called back a little bit later and started asking why she wanted him to bring chicken. There was much confusion and going back and forth that wasn't cleared up until after The Cardinal showed up and we discovered the source of the mix-up. You see, when The Cardinal first put Cap'n Cluck's phone number into his cell, it was right after he had first learned that her nickname was Cluck, and he decided to reference that after her real name; however, for one reason or another, he didn't put Cluck, but "Chicken." Therefore, when he got her text, the message didn't say "[Cluck's real name] dessert", it said "[Cluck's real name] Chicken dessert."

Long story short***: The Cardinal brought chicken.

After dinner, H.Q. had to leave, meaning she missed out on all of the shenanigans to follow. Cap'n Cluck got out the dominoes and we started a game of Chickenfoot, the game which (as you long time blog monkeys might recall) was responsible for Cluck's nickname in the first place due to her "clucking like a chicken" rule. Unfortunately for her, the detrimental effect of her allergies prevented the good Cap'n from clucking much, resulting in much ridicule from The Cardinal. Also unfortunately for Cap'n C., she got stuck with the double-blank at least a couple of times, due to vigilant blocking of the blanks by Magic Pants in myself; when she complained my only response was "now you know how it feels!" since I had been on the receiving end of the same strategy the last time we played.

Following Chickenfoot Scuba-girl had to leave, but the rest of us soldiered on, getting out the Singles staple game Loaded Questions. I believe it was during this game that The Cardinal turned to me, tapped himself on the head, and said "It's scary that there's another one of these out there." This comment was prompted by the third or fourth instance of The Cardinal and I making the same semi-obscure reference at the same time; I assured him that there were many more out there than that, and then pointed at him and began to chant "One of us, one of us!"

I'm pretty sure he got the reference.

Sadly, I don't recall what the exact reference was that prompted his comment in the first place; I do recall a few other instances though:

  • Commenting that for the question "what's the worst place to be waiting in line" he wanted to put next to a hermaphrodite with a Flock of Seagulls haircut and one nostril****
  • The question: if you had a talk show who would you interview? His answer: psychic porn star midgets who were all nude*****
  • Somehow Vatican City was mentioned******, prompting The Cardinal to proclaim "Vatican City, Vatican City, Vatican City!" in a tone and cadence that lead me to sing "Vatican City, we sell Vaticans . . . and that's all!"*******
  • He mentioned Single Female Lawyer; I respond "With the world's shortiest skirt"
  • Someone, for some reason, says "ooo eee ooo ah ah"; The Cardinal, Trouble, and I all belt out "ting tang walla walla bing bang" and carry on with the rest of the song

In other words, The Cardinal was one of my people.

Now, you would have thought that the fact that The Cardinal barely knew any of the people playing Loaded Questions he would have been at a disadvantage, but that was hardly the case; after he got done kicking our but at LQ, we decided to play a game of Beyond Balderdash. For those unfamiliar with it, it's a lot like Balderdash, where you are given an obscure word and have to make up a definition for it, only in Beyond Balderdash you are also given people's names, acronyms, dates, and movie titles. While the game is a lot of fun, I am really, really bad at it; my creativity doesn't work in ways that lend themselves to making even semi-plausible definitions. Plus, I tend to vote for the answers which entertain me the most, rather than the ones which I think are the correct ones. Anyway, we had just set up the board when one of the most recent (and subsequently nicknameless) additions to the Singles class showed up; he had been unable to come earlier due to a softball game but swung by afterwards. We did decide to cut the game short, and so only went around the table once. There were some entertaining things thrown out here and there (such as almost every entry for Spud Melin referencing either potatoes or Spuds McKenzie), but most of those pale in comparison to our final word, selected by Magic Pants.

Now, you have to understand that by the time we finally got started playing BB it was getting pretty late, and most of us were operating on little sleep and much caffeine, sugar, and allergy medication; so by the end, we were pretty slap happy. The inherent silliness of the game was magnified even more by our final word: mohoohoo. In order to get the full effect you must say the word out loud several times, in various tones and cadences; the more you say it, the funnier it becomes.

Well, it worked for us, anyways.

Here then, are the definitions which we had to choose from:
  1. A white rhinoceros
  2. Synonym for silliness or malarkey
  3. The end part of a cow's tail
  4. Cherokee word for peace and love
  5. Hawaiian word for toilet
  6. Cajun spice
  7. Undergarment worn by a Tahitian princess during a mating ritual.

A few of the answers got some chuckles and cute remarks (The Anti-Cap'n wondered if "Cajun Spice" was the lost Spice Girl), but it wasn't until Magic Pants was reading through them again that our group had a mass nervous breakdown. For while reading back the answers a second time, Magic Pants accidentally pronounced Cherokee so that it rhymed with Karaoke; there was a pause as we all pondered what she had just said before The New Guy called her on it and we all burst into laughter. Magic Pants was embarrassed, which of course made it even funnier to me, and I couldn't stop laughing; Magic Pants tried to carry on re-reading the answers through her laughter but was having trouble. I suddenly slapped the table and cried out "this is all a bunch of mohoohoo!"

And thus the "silliness and malarkey" definition was adopted as the official definition of mohoohoo by the group. Even though I knew it wasn't the real answer, I felt obligated to vote for it; The Cardinal would thank me for the vote, which helped move him into victory in yet another game. The real answer? White rhinoceros.

After that we bid each other adieu with much mohoohoo along the way, and headed our separate ways. The Anti-Cap'n had beaten me home and had left the garage door open, so I headed in that way instead of the front door which was all part of his plan, as he was hiding in the hallway waiting to scare the crap out of me; I screamed (but not like a little girl, no matter what anyone might say) and called him a name that probably shouldn't have come from a Sunday School teacher. Luckily, my not-girly-at-all shrieks didn't wake up Biz-Z.

Suddenly not sleepy at all for some reason, I got on my computer to check my email and to jot down a couple of notes about game-night for the blog, when I suddenly had a burst of inspiration and posted the following comment on Magic Pants' MySpace page:

So, when are we going to go out and sing cheriokee at The White Rhinoceros? If you beg off again, I'll feel as low as the end of a cow's tail.

And that's no mohoohoo!

Well, that's what passes for inspiration at 12:30 AM, anyway.

However, it was nothing compared to the inspiration that Magic Pants herself must have felt the next day when she posted the following bulletin on MySpace with the simple title of "Mohoohoo."

Once upon a time, there was a white rhinoceros, also (affectionately) known as a mohoohoo. This mohoohoo decided to join the ballet, and if you've ever seen Lena the hippo doing ballet amongst all those ostriches, you would know this was a bad idea. None-the-less, the mohoohoo decided to dance, so she bought an ankle-length, pink motutu. Unfortunately for the mohoohoo, the motutu had a lot of mofrufru, so she tripped up in the middle of her dance and got a mobooboo.

Now this mohoohoo in a motutu with a lot of mofrufru and big mobooboo decided to see the witch doctor, and this is what she said, "Ooo eee, ooo ah ah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang," while sticking pins in the end of a cow's tail. And as we all know, that did absolutely no good. So after all that movoodoo, the witch doctor resorted to a psychic reading and told her to get out more.

The witch doctor suggested she go to Tahiti for a vacation. However, all those ritualistic Tahitian mating gowns can be rather intimidating for a mohoohoo in a pink motutu with a lot of mofrufru who has a mobooboo. Besides that, she had no more mobuckarooroos after having spent them all on her pink motutu with a lot of mofrufru and all that movoodoo. (Ballet and witch doctors are expensive hobbies!) So she couldn't afford the vacation.

Her next choice was to see her favorite band in concert, but the Cajon Spice Girls were performing in another country (Luxemburg, Antarctica, to be specific) and once again, she couldn't afford the trip.

So the mohoohoo wearing a motutu with pink mofrufru, nursing her mobooboo, said, "That movoodoo is a bunch of mopoopoo!" so she saw the mogoogoo dolls instead.

And with that, it was once again confirmed to me that Magic Pants is also one of my people.

*Yes, I know that sounds like we're in Junior High
**H.Q. = Honors Queen, a title bestowed upon her by the Honors students she advises at TWU during a banquet last spring; no, I'm not above thievery when it comes to nicknames.
***Too late!
****A reference that Trouble got as well
*****I only regret I didn't respond to that by saying "that goat doesn't love you."
******This comment was made during a question about picking a country which yielded answers of "Luxemburg" and "Antarctica"
*******Zinger's about the only other person I know who would definitely get that reference


Friday, June 16, 2006

Can You Say "Someone Has WAY Too Much Free Time?" I Knew You Could

For the non-comic geeks out there, the teams are Thor and Northstar vs. Spider-Man (duh) and the Sub-Mariner.

And yes, Northstar is gay.



Tuesday, June 13, 2006

TV Tues. - The Summer's Looking Bleak

Still a pretty light TV schedule right now, and it's not looking to get any heavier any time soon. However, there was at least one welcome return to the schedule last night.

The Closer: If you're a fan of good TV, and are not watching this show, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. I can understand if you initially passed on it because you were tired of the glut of procedruals on the air; I almost did the same thing in the beginning. But all it took was one episode, and I was hooked. Because, although it is a procedural, it's more about the personalities involved in solving the cases than the cases themselves. Kyra Sedgwick and G.W. Bailey deserve some award show recognition for their roles; two stand out actors portraying stand out characters.

Last Comic Standing: I have to say that I wasn't blown away by any of the performances in last week's episode, but then again, it's really hard to get a good grasp of someone's potential off of such a shortened set. Regardless, I'm pretty pleased with the five finalists selected; for the most part they were the best of the bunch. I'm hoping that tonight's episode provides some better acts.

Saved: I hadn't been too impressed with the previews for TNT's new drama focusing on EMTs, but since I tend to like Tom Everett Scott, and since it was premiereing right after The Closer, I figured I'd give it a shot. My reaction? Nosir, I didn't like it. Too heavy-handed, too on-the-nose, too cliched; honestly, I found nothing in it to be original or outstanding in any way, and the cheesy little flashbacks of the patients lives were distracting and annoying. Plus, Scott's character was supposed to be a "lovable rogue," but somewhere along the way, the whole "lovable" thing got lost. Now, maybe if the show is actually about the growth of the character, I might be able to watch it; but at least with similar shows (such as the far superior Rescue Me), even when the characters aren't necessarily likeable, they're at least entertaining. Odds of me watching this again: slim and none.

Entourage Season 2: I watched the entire second season in a single day; whether that's more of a testament to the quality of the show or to my borderline obsessive tendencies, I'll leave up to you, although I will say that the show is pretty frickin' awesome. I did cringe at some of Johnny Drama's storylines, but overall, the show really hit its stride this season. I especially liked the addition of Ari's new assistant to the cast; Lloyd cracks me up. Looking forward to seeing the Aquaman footage in season 3.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Movie Mon. - Uwe Boll, You've Done It Again!

Very little going on in the way of movie watching this last week, partly due to my getting sucked into season 2 of Entourage and partly due to my spending the rest of my time actually reading for once. So, only got a few movies watched this past week; I need to step it up if I want to get my money's worth for my Netflix this month. Anyway, on to the (brief) reviews.

Flightplan: Jodie Foster loses her daughter on a plane, but nobody believes her. A better movie than I was expecting, to be honest; even though I like the cast, the premise itself never really clicked with me before I saw the film. After seeing it, I still think it's a bit far-fetched, but the tenacity of Jodie's character helps carry the film. An entertaining thriller, as long as you don't think about it too hard.

Hollow Man 2: You know, a lot of people look at Christian Slater as a poor man's Jack Nicholson, but not me; I've always seen him as more of a poor man's Kevin Bacon. So, it was hardly surprising to see the Slater had taken over Bacon's role in this poor man's sequel to the entertaining take on the "invisible man" trope. Although, perhaps that's being a bit harsh; the movie actually wasn't all that bad. Yes, the script could have used a bit of doctoring, and yes, both Biz-Z and I were distracted through the whole film by the fact that the lead actress looked like she part-giraffe, but as far as mindless SF thrillers go, I've seen worse. The invisibility effects were well done, and Peter Facinelli did a good job as usual. All in all, probably worth a rental if you liked the first one, but don't expect too much.

Bloodrayne: Latest video-game based cinematic trainwreck from the infamous Uwe Boll. Personally, I enjoyed this film more than I did his previous ones, but that's really not saying a whole heck of a lot. Lots of star power was thrown at this medieval vampire flick (Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez, Billy Zane, Meat Loaf, Ben Kingsley) which I what I attribute it's increased enjoyability to, but not even that was enough to salvage this film from the gutters. Blame it on a muddled storyline; blame it on horrible fight choreography; blame it on the complete inability of the titular character to act and/or fight convincingly; blame it on the worst editing I've seen in ages; or, just save time, and blame it all on Uwe, since that's all tied up in his special Bizarro-midas touch.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Inching Ever Closer to the Big 3-0

A quick Happy Birthday wish to my new roomie, The Anti-Cap'n, so named because of his constant harrassment of those of us who prefer our foodstuffs untainted by nuts.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Roomies: The Next Generation

Slowly working myself back into the blogging mode . . . very slowly. Right now the only time I'm able to compose anything is when I'm nowhere near a computer; as soon as I sit down to actually type something up, the words desert me.

Very frustrating.

Basically, I'm posting for one reason and one reason only: so Zinger will stop calling me a slacker.

Of course, most of my attention recently has been focused on adapting to my new living arrangement, so let's talk about that, shall we?

First, let me introduce you to the latest additions to the ranks of that unlucky crew known as "my once and future roommates." Roomie #1 is Bizarro-Zinger, who also happens to be the owner of the house. Biz-Z is a former member of the Singles group, and was one of the lucky ones who got to witness my performance of The Popular Song on the rafting trip several years ago; he switched churches a while back along with his girlfriend. A former military man, Biz-Z just started as a full-fledged, full-time firefighter with the McKinney Fire Dept. last week, working a 24-on, 48-off schedule.

I find endless amusement in the fact that this man who was stationed overseas and who rushes into burning buildings for a living refuses to watch horror movies because, and I quote, they make him "scream like a little girl."

Roomie #2 is The Anti-Cap'n, whose first visit to the Singles group happened to coincide with my monkey graduation ceremony, and yet he didn't run screaming for the hills; a good sign. The Anti-Cap'n currently works for DishNetwork, but is pretty set on finding a new job ASAP, preferably one with a more favorable schedule. The A.C. is a big ol' TV and movie addict as well; we're still trying to iron out the best way to coordinate our respective movie-rental memberships so that there's no over-lap. Unlike Biz-Z, The A.C. is no sissy-boy* when it comes to horror films.

As for the living arrangements themselves, I'm still trying to get acclimated to the new environment. Remember, this is the first time I've roomed with anyone since Flunky graduated back in May of '99; not having complete run of the place is a bit of an adjustments. But, not nearly as bad as it could have been, since between their work schedules and active social lives, Biz-Z and The A.C. haven't been around all that much . . . so far.

To be honest, I don't know if their absence is a boon or not when it comes to my accepting this as my new home; when it's just me all alone for hours on end, I almost feel like an intruder. On the other hand, so far there's been absolutely no conflict with the bathroom in the mornings, which is nice.

The location of the house has its pros and cons: on the plus side, the drive home from work takes me right by a CVC Pharmacy and the Public Library, meaning that I don't have to make special trips to pick up medication or books anymore; on the con side, I have to deal with a lot more traffic coming to and from work and church. Also on the con side is the fact that I have practically no cell service here; it's like as soon as I turn into our neighborhood, I enter the "black hole of Sprint service," meaning that I don't get very many calls, and those that I do get have horrible reception. Which wouldn't be as bad if we actually had a phone line for the house, but alas, it's cell phones or nothing.

Another pro/con is the computer situation. On the plus side, there was room for my computer desk in the dining room area, so I didn't have to try to squeeze it into my teeny room; also, we have nice high-speed Internet, so no more slowpoke dial-up for me. On the minus side, with its current location, I can no longer be on the computer while I'm watching TV, which can’t help but impact the blogging.

Having to choose between my addictions is a real drag, y’know?

*Why, no, Biz-Z doesn't read the blog, why do you ask?


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

TV Tuesday : TV Wasteland

Hasn't been a whole lot of time for TV watching recently, but that's okay, since there hasn't been a whole lot on TV worth watching, so it all evens out. Now, if I actually got HBO, FX, or Bravo, I might have a bit more to talk about, but sadly, none of those are included in DishNetwork "Top 60" package, so it looks like I'll be having to add quite a few shows to my "wait for DVD" list.

And speaking of “wait for DVD” shows . . .

Deadwood: I’m very bummed that HBO has decided not to greenlight an entire 4th season of this excellent series, but am happy to hear that they’re willing to allow two 2-hour specials to wrap things up; now, if they can just get the cast to sign on for them . . .

Last Comic Standing: I'm glad to see that after the dismal performance of the last edition NBC didn't write the show off entirely, apparently realizing that it was their messing with the format that killed the show's appeal, and not the show itself. As usual, there were several comics who were given passes to the next round that I thought were awful (the fannypack guy and pregnant gal come to mind), and some comics I really enjoyed who got left behind (why couldn't they give the 19 year old a shot?), but that's to be expected; after all, comedy is a highly subjective art form. I'm just hoping that we wind up with a cast that's entertaining both on-stage and off. Big surprise of the evening was seeing Theo from Road Rules not only doing stand-up, but getting a pass to the next round; not sure how much of that was the judges saying "he's funny" and how much was the producers going "ooo, built in audience, gotta have him!" Was also surprised to see Bil Dwyer, veteran commentator on Battlebots, Extreme Dodgeball and countless VH1 I Love the [insert decade here]'s specials in the race; I would really like to know exactly what the success threshold is for inclusion in the show.

The Apprentice: Not much to say, other than I’m glad Shawn won, just because Lee’s decision to trust Lenny implicitly was a bit foolish

Everwood: Some thoughts as I watch the final episodes of the show.

  • Really, out of the entire cast, Irv is the only one that I could handle being the one to kick the bucket, as he's the only character I've never really been able to connect to. That thought was reconfirmed during the funeral episode, as my emotions were only effected by the reactions of others to his passing, and not his passing itself.
  • While watching Ephraim and Jake have their mini-confrontation at the restaurant, I suddenly thought to myself "Have I ever seen these two characters interact before?" I mean, it's highly possible that they have, since Jake has been on for a while now, but for the life of me, I can't think of when it might have happened.
  • Quoth TVGal: "I didn't even know the show was missing anything until Sarah Drew's Hannah arrived. Now it is impossible to imagine the series without her." Couldn't have said it better myself.
  • I'm hard pressed to think of a show that has done such an effective job of having its characters grow and evolve over time; watching any scene between Andy and Ephraim, or Andy and Harold, or Ephraim and Bright just drives that point home and makes me wish they'd pull their heads out and start releasing the previous seasons on DVD.
  • Was it just me, or was the fact that there was no farewell message from The WB to the cast and crew of Everwood kind of a slap in the face? I mean, granted, it hasn't been on the air as long as some of the other shows that have gotten that send off, but in this day and age, 4 years is a healthy life-span for a family drama, especially one that was all but a lock for the CW until the 7th Heaven finale screwed everything up. Is it petty to hope that 7th Heaven does nowhere near as well next season? If so, then petty I be.
  • While I was glad that there were no eternally unresolved cliffhangers (such as the rumored "Ephraim gets a call from Madison" ending), the last 15 minutes were just a little too pat, y'know? Tons o' speechifying with everyone saying exactly the right thing, and everything working out exactly like it should. The only resolution that felt really forced was Edna deciding to move in with Harold and Rose; the Edna I know is way too bull-headed to be swayed that easily. It all smacked of "holy crap, we've only got 15 minutes to get this all straightened out!" But, it could have been worse: it could have been the Seinfeld series finale. *shudder*


Monday, June 05, 2006

Movie Mon. - Backtracking

Time to play a little catch up with the movie reviews.

London: Upon finding out that his ex London (Jessica Biel) is leaving town for good without telling him, Syd (Chris Evans) crashes her going away party to confront her, only to spend all of his time hiding in the upstairs bathroom, doing cocaine with an unbalanced Brit (Jason Statham), and reliving his past mistakes that have brought him to this point. I liked this one more than I thought I would; for the first time, I was able to buy Evans as a dramatic actor. The film is a bit rough at times, with copious drug use and expletives galore, but at its heart it's the story of a man trying to figure out where he went wrong in his life, and hoping to salvage what he can.

Game 6: Set during game six of the 1986 World Series, this movie follows a playwright (Michael Keaton) who is convinced that his life will be a cursed failure, much like his beloved Red Sox. An odd little film, featuring an odd guest-starring role for Robert Downey Jr. as the paranoiac theater critic who always goes out in disguise packing a gun, and whose reviews have driven playwrights into despair. An interesting and entertaining little film that wasn't the touchy-feely film I had feared from the description I'd read. I also enjoyed the appearance of Harris Yulin (Quentin Travers on Buffy and Roger Stanton on 24) as one of the play's stars who's having trouble with his lines due to a brain parasite.

Transamerica: Story of Bree, a pre-operative transsexual (Felicity Huffman) who discovers that his/her one and only sexual experience back in college resulted in a son when said son calls looking for his father to bail him out of prison; forced to help him out in order to get her therapist to okay her surgery, the uptight Bree struggles to set her son (a druggie hustler whose big dreams revolve around becoming a star in gay pornos) on a better path without revealing to him her true identity. Very well done movie, with an excellent performance from Huffman. The subject matter is sure to turn some away, as there are some pretty frank sexual situations, but I really enjoyed it a lot.

Camp Slaughter: Incredibly low-budget slasher film with an interesting premise: a group of four friends find themselves stranded at Camp Hiawatha, a summer-camp inhabited by rejects from the 80s; they soon discover that they are trapped in a time loop, forced to relive a single day from 1981 endlessly, a day which involved the wholesale slaughter of the entire camp. The movie is an obvious homage to the good ol' 80s slasher flicks like Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp, and has lots of funs with the 80s stereotype characters, all of whom are played over-the-top; I'd like to believe that was a directorial choice, and not just bad acting, but the execution of the rest of the film makes it hard to believe. Horrible camerawork, dismal ADR, and some of the choppiest and most confusing editing I've ever seen, not to mention plot holes big enough to drive a B.U.S.* through. Which is all a shame, since the premise had a lot of potential. Still, there were a couple of inventive death scenes (Ivan's first death being a favorite) and lots of laughs, both intentional and otherwise, so I would definitely recommend this to fans of bad horror films; it's practically begging to be MST3Ked.

School Killer: Another low budget horror film, this time from Spain. This one revolves around a group of friends who visit an old abandoned school only to be plagued by the ghosts of a group of students murdered there years ago. While Camp Slaughter was entertaining in its low quality, School Killer was just boring, not to mention peopled with far less entertaining characters. I'd say give this one a miss.

Date Movie: Parody of all sorts of romantic comedies such as Hitch, The Wedding Planner, Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, Along Came Polly, My Best Friend's Wedding and the like, with an occasional "What the heck?" reference thrown in (LoTR, Kill Bill, etc.) for good measure. All I can really say about this one is that it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be; trust me, that's not saying much. The film survives on the comedic chops of its two leads (veteran Allyson Hannigan and newcomer Adam Campbell) alone, who are able to carry the uninspired script through sheer force of will; also worth mentioning is the always funny Jennifer Coolidge during a great Barbara Streisand impression. I've seen better, and I've seen worse, but I really wish I hadn't had to see the horrible "cat on the toilet" scene; nothing like gratuitous toilet humor to turn me off of a film.

Freedomland: Here's the Netflix blurb:

When a single mother (Julianne Moore) reports that her teenage son was murdered by a black man from the projects, an intrepid African-American detective (Samuel L. Jackson) and a white journalist (Edie Falco) team up to dig for details. But what they unearth is hard to believe.
So, when Julianne Moore's character says that she has a four year old son, and Edie Falco's character claims to be a leader of a concerned parents' group and not a reporter, I kept waiting for their deceptions to be revealed; but, of course, they were telling the truth, and it was Netflix which was lying. *sigh* As for the film itself, I thought it was well acted, especially Edie Falco as the strong-willed crusading mom; her monologue to Moore on the grounds of Freedomland was Oscar-worthy. But unfortunately, the bulk of the film revolved around ignorant characters doing ignorant things which result in a mini-race riot. That aspect of the film kept me from buying into it 100%, but I think the film is still worth a viewing for the performances alone.

Grandma's Boy
: Low-brow comedy about a middle-aged video game tester who gets kicked out of his apartment and has to move in with his grandmother and her two roommates. This is another of those "not as bad as I thought" films; there are some groanworthy scenes, and lots of predictable jokes, but there's also some flashes of wit and originality. The most entertaining character was probably J.P., the former child prodigy who dresses like Neo and acts like a robot when he gets nervous or upset; to be honest, he seemed like the sort of guy who could have lived in Parker Hall back in the day. Now, I'm not suggesting anyone run out and rent this, but if it ever happens to come on your cable and you feel like watching a mindless comedy, you could do worse.

*B.U.S. is what the 80s kids insisted on calling the present-day kids' S.U.V.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Smacked Upside the Head

Well, like any good masochistic blogger, I submitted CoIM for review to the curmudgeons at I Talk Too Much, who take malicious glee in tearing apart the hopes and dreams of bloggers everywhere. I submitted a while back, and of course they choose my "I'm brain-dead and am posting pure filler and YouTube links" phase to review the site. Consequently, the review went like this:

Just another work-a-day, ordinary, plain white bread, POS blog.

Nothing special at all, one way or t’other.

Big ol’ “HEY!” fat meh.

I also got 1 out of 5 "Smacks", which might sound bad, but at least I didn't get the boot, the "golden finger," the "stinky fish," or even "negative smacks."

I wonder how far into the archives the reviewer went (if at all); was his "this is blah" reaction just to the recent, very admittedly "blah" stuff, or did he poke around a bit to my older, wordier posts, and still come to the "blah" conclusion? I like to think that it's the former (self-delusion is my friend!), and that if he had read more, then his reaction might have been stronger.

Not positive, mind you; I have no illusions that me talking about my life and my pop culture addictions would be enough to earn me any better smacking results than I got, but at least it might have garnered a more impassioned review.

I didn't even get any full-on expletives, dagnabit!

And you just know that Redneck Diva is going to be rubbing her 3 Smacks rating in . . .


The Move Is Done!

Finally got everything moved in to the new place, and the old place all cleaned up . . . well, as clean as I was able to get it before the "I don't care, they can keep my frakkin' deposit" thing set in.

It's strange being in a new place after having spent 4 1/2 years at the last one, especially since this is the first time I've had to deal with roomies since Flunky graduated in May of '99. When I woke up this morning it was hard for me to get motivated to get ready, since I felt more like I was a guest at someone else's house, and therefore on vacation. Well, that, and the fact that I pretty much woke up every hour on the hour from 3 AM on for some reason.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to do my best not to fall asleep at work.