Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The 13 Clips of Halloween #13 : That's What Halloween Means to Me

And so our Halloween video parade comes to a close with yet another homemade music video. However, this one is a bit more creative than the other two with its efforts to capture the spirit of a song I've loved ever since I heard it on the Dr. Demento's Delights album, which also introduced me to the terrors of Camp Granada and bunny multiplication, but those are tales for another time.


If Zinger had sent me this clip a few days ago, it probably would have replaced "Cry Little Sister" in my list: as is, it's just too creepy and disturbing (not to mention hilarious) not to share.


The 13 Clips of Halloween #12 : Joss Whedon Is My Master Now

You didn't think I'd actually make it through this without showing somethng from the Buffy musical, did you?

And now, a brief musicless interlude: Numfar! Do the dance of joy!


The 13 Clips of Halloween #11 : May I Now Present a Cultured, Sophisticated, Man About Town

Entering the home stretch now, boys and girls, so it's time to break out something that even the horror-shy among you should enjoy*.

This one's for you, ma.

*Unless you're Pooh or Flunky, who for some reason didn't like this comedy classic. No accounting for taste, I suppose


The 13 Clips of Halloween #10 : If You Like the Six O'Clock News, Then You'l Love . . .

Yeah, I know you're all probably getting tired of the movie clips, but I think we all know by now that my borderline OCD won't let me stop until I've fulfilled my 13 clip committment. This clip (which I meant to post last night) is another homemade YouTube vid, this time combining a favorite horror movie themed song by the greatest musical genius of our time, set to clips a relatively recent horror-ish film.

Let's call it "Nature Trail to Sleepy Hollow"


Monday, October 30, 2006

The 13 Clips of Halloween #9 : Cry, Little Sister

One of the interesting things to me about YouTube is just how many people there are who like to take songs and make up their own music videos for them, with varying degrees of success. This is one of the more straightforward ones, which takes a song from a horror movie soundtrack and splices it onto a series of clips from the movie. Loved the movie, loved the song, so it's a win-win.


The 13 Clips of Halloween #8 : The Set is Very Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Don't You Think?

You, know there are lots of good vampire-related songs out there, but most of my favorites (Sound of Urchin's "Fearless Vampire Killers," Crankcaller's "I Am Vampire") don't have any videos that I could find. However, this little video is for the song which first introduced me to My Chemical Romance, a couple of years before they hit it big with Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge


Saturday, October 28, 2006

The 13 Clips of Halloween #7: Deadly as the Democrats that Empty Out Our Stores

I had really planned to post something in between each vid post, but various factors have combined to keep this from happening; at least 95% of these factors are laziness-related. However, while I have been languid and unproductive, I have not been under the influence of the horribly dangerous (and apparently zed-word causing) substance warned of in the title song of the recent movie musical Reefer Madness.


The 13 Clips of Halloween #6 : All Work and No Play Makes Jared Leto a Dull Boy

Here's another horror movie homage, with Jared Leto and his band checking into a version of The Overlook from The Shining; like the song, and like the video, but was very, very disappointed by the lack of creepy twin girl ghosts. I mean, what's a Shining homage without creepy twin girl ghosts?


Friday, October 27, 2006

The 13 Clips of Halloween #5 : We' re Comin' to Kill Ya, Comin' to Kill Ya

Along the same lines as #3 on the list, we have another humorous zed-word focused musical number, this time from Dead and Breakfast; as with the Shaun clip, this one is rated NP as well, mainly for the f-bombs sprinkled through the zed-word's country rap.


The 13 Clips of Halloween #4: Nosferatu! Nosferatu!

Saw this Lenny Kravitz video maybe once or twice back in the day, but it left quite an impression on me with its Nosferatu style vampire makeup, and was always disapointed it never got more airplay. So, thanks, YouTube.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

The 13 Clips of Halloween #3: Kill the Queen

For our third clip, we take a small departure from the music videos for a music-oriented scene from a horror-comedy. The following is one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies; you just can't beat people beating zed-words to the driving beat of Queen . . . beat.

Warning: the following clip is rated NP* due to brief use of the f-bomb, zed-word violence, and recreational equipment related head injuries.

*No Prudes


The Following Was Inspired by a Recent Message from Frost-E Frost

In the days of the Book Monkeys it was Buffy, Angel and Dawson; nowadays it's Lost, The Office, and Heroes; but back in the Wyandotte days, there were only two shows which really counted as water-cooler (or, since it was high school, water-fountain) shows. The first was Saturday Night Live, which was, in the early 90s, at one of its high points. This was the time of Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, of Chris Farley and David Spade, of Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider, of Julia Sweeney and the late, lamented Phil Hartman; this was the time of Toonces the Driving Cat, Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, Wayne's World, It's Pat, Chicago Super Fans, and, of course, Happy Fun Ball. Each Saturday night, there would be multiple skits which would provide ample fodder for inside jokes and running gags for weeks at a time. But while SNL engaged a wide variety of fellow students, the other much-discussed show appealed to a much narrower demographic. The name of the show? Seinfeld.

The biggest Seinfeld fan I knew at the time was Frost-E Frost, who went around mimicking Kramer's head injury inspired speech patterns from Season 4 for months; I still can't hear the name "Yo Yo Ma" without thinking of Frost-E. It was during this season that Seinfeld aired the infamous episode, "The Contest," which revolved around a topic so taboo on TV at the time that the actual word, despite being the focus, was never used throughout the episode.* This was the episode which won Larry David an Emmy for best screenplay; it has been named as one of the best episodes of the series on countless, countless lists and was, at the time, one of the funniest things I had ever seen on TV. I was looking forward to hearing Frost-E's thoughts on it the next day, but when I asked him about it, I just got a resigned grunt.

You see, of all nights, that was one in which Frost-E's mom sat down to watch the show with him. Horribly conscious that he was watching a show about The Sin of Onan with his mother, Frost-E was too busy concentrating on not laughing to fully enjoy the episode. Which is funny in and of itself, in a laugh-at-your-friend’s-discomfort sort of way; what's even funnier is that not too long after that, his mom told my mom that she, self-conscious about him being there, had also stifled any and all amusement she had had at the risqué episode. So there they sat, both doing their darndest not to let the other know that they found anything about the show even the slightest bit funny.

Of course, my mom and I had also watched the episode together . . . and both laughed our butts off through the whole thing.

*Even though it had been used on screen just a few episodes earlier; those crazy censors


The 13 Clips of Halloween #2: Evil Dead: the Music Video

The Mag recently informed me of a musical version of the cult classic Evil Dead currenlty playing off-Broadway; unfortunately, there are no good clips of it available online at this time. So, instead, I present you with a recent music video which serves as a homage to the film which is in a roundabout way responsible for how awesome the Spider-Man movies were.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The 13 Clips of Halloween #1: Rise of the Monstrous Music Videos

Well it's now less than a week until Halloween, and I feel like I've been neglecting everyone's favorite pagan holiday this year, especially compared to the massive amount of reviews I did last year, so I've decided to spend these last seven days posting some horror-tinged video clips. And what better way for me to merge my Cap'n Gorehound persona with my Cap'n Songburst persona than to focus my efforts on finding horror themed music videos? And what better way to kick off my odd idea than to start with the granddaddy of all horror music videos:


The One Where Coronela Sees More Than She Wanted

One day during my Freshman year of college, a nice quiet afternoon relaxing in the Parker living room was suddenly interrupted by the arrival of Coronela, who ran into the room emitting loud, incoherent cries of distress, circling the couches a couple of times, and then exiting, followed by Captain Ego who was running after her exclaiming, "I saw it too, Coronela, I saw it too!" I, being highly concerned about my friend's well-being, of course, and not being the least little bit nosey, nosireebob, followed, and was just able to hop on the elevator with the two of them in time to hear them commiserate about their shared trauma.

You see, it had been a nice day outside, and several people had been running around enjoying the nice weather. One of these active individuals had come back inside and sat down on the floor, back against the wall, knees bent, feet on the floor, legs spread just far enough that his shorts . . . well, did you ever see that episode of Friends about Phoebe's boyfriend who wore shorts? Yeah, that's right; as Coronela was walking by, something caught the corner of her eye and she wondered to herself why this guy had a hot dog hanging out of his shorts . . . and then realization set in, and the screaming began.

To this day, I have no idea if the guy had any clue about just what sort of show he had put on, or if he ever knew that from that point on most of us referred to him only as The Hangman.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

TV Tues. - You Say That Like It's Famous

Still playing a bit of catch-up with some of the stuff I missed due to our time without cable, which is why there's no Supernatural review, and why the Monday night CBS sitcoms are still a week behind.

**Mon Oct 16**

How I Met Your Mother (CBS 7:00): A highly Barney-centric episode, and therefore the best ep of the season so far.

The Class (CBS 7:30): While I enjoy this show a lot more than The TV Gal does, I do have to agree with her recent comment that the amount of adultery on the show is somewhat troubling. The Duncan/Nicole affair has bugged me from the beginning, and then to find out that Richie is running around on Darlene Conners . . . troubling. I do have to disagree with her assertion that Ethan and Kat have no chemistry; their scenes together have been some of my favorite moments on the show.

**Tues Oct 17**

Gilmore Girls (CW 7:00): The new creative team is still stumbling a bit here and there, but I think this ep was an improvement over the last few, which could be largely due to the fact that we didn't see Lane and Zack at all; I swear, the writers have absolutely no clue how to handle those two. Of course the highlight of the episode was Lorelei's reaction to Emily's jailbird experience; her giddiness at her mom's discomfort was right on target.

Veronica Mars (CW 8:00): Although I liked the idea of Weevil working for Keith, I think the custodial position is going to work a lot better in terms of giving Veronica access to the campus; he's basically the new Wallace. Which reminds me; did we see Wallace at all in this ep? Don't think we did. Anyway, still loving the show, and really looking forward to tonight's ep in which Logan from Gilmore Girls guest stars as Logan from VM's half-brother.

Help Me Help You (ABC 8:30): Normally, the "main characters lies to impress a girl" storyline drives me crazy, but for some reason it worked for me in this ep. Don't know if it's because of how the doc approached it, or because of his ex-wife's constant skepticism, or just the fact that the lie was not totally idiotic (a la "milking cats") or something that would blow up in his face if the relationship lasted longer than a one night stand (a la Frasier and his "I'm Jewish" or "My dad's gay" lies). I think it probably is because of the latter, and an understanding that his lies were born out of a combination of ego and desperation; his motivation made sense to me, so I could accept it. Which is a whole heck of a lot of thought to put into why I found this funny rather than annoying, but I know if I hadn't, somebody would have called me on it. Best part of the ep had to be the "love song" he wrote for her; classic.

Boston Legal (ABC 9:00): Yes, I'm still watching this show; no, I'm not sure why. There's usually a couple of things each ep which make me laugh, and I'm curious about how the murder trial is going to turn out, but I'm not sure how much longer this is going to stay on my radar.

**Wed Oct 18**

30 Rock (NBC 7:00: Okay, Zinger (president of the "I Hate Tina Fey" Club) is going to call me names and question my sanity for this, but, heaven help me, I'm actually enjoying 30 Rock. Somehow the combination of three actors I generally don't care for (Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, and Tina Fey) has created something greater than the sum of its parts. Baldwin is definitely the ultimate scene stealer, but the oddball NBC page is a close second.

Lost (ABC 8:00): I find it endlessly fascinating just how disparate each Locke flashback is from the others, but I think that the wide changes in attitude and occupation fit well with the character. At the core, John is a Hunter with a capital H, and he's not just hunting for sustenance, he's hunting for a purpose, he's hunting for direction, he's hunting for validation, he's hunting for a connection to something greater than himself; it looks like he may have finally reconnected to that something greater this week, so we might see a full-on return to cool Locke from season 1, and not self-doubting Locke from season 2. I also find it endlessly fascinating that we still have no #$*(# clue how he wound up in the wheelchair. The big question the episode left for me is just how the hatch implosion affected Desmond: did he just get a glimpse of the future, or is he full-blown psychic now? And if the former, how much of the future did he see?

The Nine (ABC 9:00): The critics raved and raved about this one, but I'm still not feeling it. I'm still sucked in for now, just out of curiosity for how the robbery is going to play out, but outside of Foote I don't have a connection to most of the characters.

Jericho (CBS 7:00): And the mysteries deepen on Jericho as more and more hints are dropped about Skeet's past and Hawkin's purpose; I'm happy that this has gotten a full season order, since that means there's a good chance we'll actually find out the answers to some of the questions.

**Thur Oct. 19**

My Name is Earl (NBC 7:00): Not one of the better eps overall, but pretty much every scene with Giovanni Ribissi was pure gold.

The Office (NBC 7:30): I wish someone would post the opening sequence with the riddles online so I could send it to riddle-master Magic Pants. Once again, so much great stuff in the ep that I don't know where to begin. Dwight's attempts to mold Ryan were great, especially his series of questions: "What is the Dharma Initiative?" Although seeing Jim out of his element in the first ep or two was fun, I like seeing him warm up to his office-mates, and vice versa. I'm also glad that they do occasionally show that Michael is actually good at being a salesman, so that the fact that he's been able to keep his job isn't totally ludicrous, only partially ludicrous. Oh, and I loved Stanley's excitement over Pretzel Day; never thought I'd live to see the day when he voluntarily gave Michael a high five.

Ugly Betty (ABC 7:00): I liked the fact that Betty semi-bonded with the other assistants; curious to see if it will last.

Grey's Anatomy (ABC 8:00): Was I the only one hoping to see Bailey leap at the condescending doctor and rip his throat out with her teeth? I'm sort of sorry that they've decided to have Izzy come back as a surgeon; I was kind of hoping that they'd find other things for her to pursue. Although, I suppose her going off in other directions would have made it more difficult to interact with the main cast, so I suppose it's for the best.

Six Degrees (ABC 9:00): The basic mystery of why May was on the run has been solved a lot faster than I expected, but there's still the deeper question of what exactly is in the box, which I'm betting won't be resolved for a while. I'm wondering if there will ever be a point when all six characters intersect at once, or if the show will forever keep them at a max of two or three together at a time.

**Fri Oct. 20**

Battlestar Galactica (SciFi 8:00): You have no idea how happy I was that the long-rumored female character death was Tigh's slutty, slutty wife, and not just because it meant that we're not losing Starbuck, Rosalind, Cally, or Dualla anytime soon; no, I have despised Tigh's wife from pretty much her first moment on-screen, and the fact that I won't have to see her manipulative face anymore made me a very happy viewer. I'm hoping that the next ep will jump forward several months so Jamie Bamber can get out of that fat makeup; it's a practically seamless makeup job, but distracting nonetheless.

**Mon Oct 23**

Heroes (NBC 8:00): My two biggest complaints with the show right now are (a) how skeptical Dr. Suresh has become all of a sudden for no good reason and (b) just how conveniently the characters lives keep intersecting. The intersections work on Lost because you have this sense of some greater force shaping the characters' destinies; here, it's just "Oh, hey, we need to have them meet up, so why don't we have the flying congressman happen to land outside the diner with time traveling Asian?" Some over-riding directive force might be revealed at some point, but right now it's coming off more as a horribly inorganic plot contrivance. All that being said, I'm still enjoying the heck out of the show; favorite non-super-powered moment of last night's episode had to be the negotiation between Nathan and his would-be blackmailer; it's like he's playing Profit again, only this time with super-powers. Oh, and I guess I must have blinked and missed it, but when exactly did Peter draw stick figures predicting the future?

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC 9:00): Taste is a funny thing; I loved the first two eps of this show with a bloody passion, and have felt a little let down by everything after that. Meanwhile, a co-worker didn't really care for the first few eps, but now thinks that the show just keeps getting stronger each week. Lot of stuff to like this week (Matt and Simon recruiting the new writer, some insight into Simon's past, Jack trying to pick a fight with Danny, any and all scenes with Jordan) but there was also some stuff that felt forced (the senile writer, Tom's dad's outburst about the brother overseas). Favorite part of the episode was Tom's tour guide mention of Abbot and Costello's "Who's on First" routine, and his dad's reaction: "You say that like it's famous." I can identify with Tom's shock at someone not recognizing what can only be described as one of the most classic comedy bits of all time; I mean, it was just a couple of week's ago that I discovered that PigPen had never heard of Happy Fun Ball. Kids today, huh?


Monday, October 23, 2006

Movie Mon. - But I Like the Cookie!

Salvage: Low budget horror film about a girl who keeps having dreams about a psycho killer coming after her and her friends. When PigPen read the description on the Netflix sleeve, he asked "So, is this supposed to be like Nightmare on Elm Street?" I wish. Instead, we have a never-ending torrent of dream sequences which have absolutely no consequence whatsoever for the bulk of the film. Towards the end I started to suspect that this was going to turn out to be a twisty film in the vein of November, but the actual twist took me by surprise, which gives this enough bonus points to not count as a total waste of my time . . . but it's close.

The Omen 666: Remake of the 1976 horror classic with Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles taking over the Gregory Peck and Lee Remick roles as the unsuspecting parents of the young Antichrist. Not a bad movie, and from what I can recall it was pretty faithful to the original. That being said, I think if you really want to see this story unfold, you're better off just renting the original, which was less glossy and thus a tad creepier than this one.

The Break-Up: Comedy featuring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Anniston as a couple whose relationship disintegrates but who remain living together. Let me start by saying that I had very little desire to see this one; a little of Vince Vaughn goes a long way, Jennifer Anniston annoys me more often than not, and the idea of watching them bicker for nearly two hours just left me cold. But, after hearing such wildly differing opinions of it (almost every guy I know who saw it loved it, and almost every girl I know who saw it hated it), I was curious enough to give it a try. The verdict? Eh. Had some funny moments, and not nearly as painful as I had feared, but I had little to no empathy for either of the wholly self-absorbed main characters, which made it hard to care what happened to them one way or the other. I think that the film did do a good job of illustrating the point that one of the biggest problems in relationships is that too often people dance around what they want to say and play games with each other instead of communicating effectively; however, I don't necessarily want to spend my time watching this couple self-destruct, especially when the self-destruction wasn't all that funny.

Metropolitan: Early 90s Indie about a clique of upper-class New Yorkers which begins to splinter in the midst of the winter debutante ball season. I had seen this one many, many moons ago (read: before Netflix), but after watching the special features on Kicking AND Screaming and hearing the director talk about how this was one of the reasons he wanted Chris Eigeman for that film, I decided it was worth another viewing. Very talky film, with lots of banter and pseudo-philosophical discussions and Oscar Wilde style comments from Eigeman, but very little in the way of actual plot; even the romantic sub-plot feels more tacked on than anything. This is a dialogue-driven film, which I enjoyed, but it's definitely not for everyone.

The Feast: Bloody, disgusting, and very funny horror film about the patrons of a desert bar being picked off by a family of mysterious monsters; probably the best horror flick I've seen since Slither. This was the winner of the third season of Project Greenlight, and was thus made on a shoe-string budget, but it definitely doesn't show; the FX are almost all practical rather than CGI, and are done exceedingly well. The movie also boasts a talented cast including Navi Rawat (Theresa on The O.C. and Amita on Numbers), Eric Dane (Madrox in X3 and McSteamy on Grey's Anatomy), and Henry "His-friends-call-him-Hank"* Rollins ('cause I'm a Liar, a Liar! Liar, Liar, Liar, Liar!). So, what did I like about this one? Pretty much everything. Some critics blasted it for its shaky camera work, but that didn't bother me; others have blasted its "clichéd" plot, but the whole point of the film was that it took a cliché and did unexpected things with it (such as Honey Pie's fate); still others hated the way the characters were introduced, but I thought that the decision to only give the characters generic descriptive names (Hero, Beer Guy, Harley Mom) and rate their survival prospects (Name: Bozo. Job: Unemployed. Occupation: Town Jackass. Life Expectancy: Dead by Dawn.) was ingenious, especially once you realized that the life expectancies weren't necessarily accurate. Not for the squeamish at all (there was even one thing that grossed me out), but horror aficionados of the splatterpunk variety should definitely give this one a shot; this is my Halloweeny pick-of-the-week.

Over the Hedge: Great animated film based on the comic strip about a group of woodland creatures adapting to life next to the suburbs. Stellar vocal cast, especially Steve Carrel as the ADHD squirrel Hammy, who is responsible for what is now an oft-quoted line by PigPen and myself:

It's much funnier in context, but it's all about the delivery. Best animated film I've seen in quite a while; I probably laughed at loud at this one more often than I have at most comedies I've seen in recent months. Highly recommend this one; it's my family-friendly pick-of-the-week.

*Inside joke alert


Just Blow Out the Candles and Have a Piece of Cake

In honor of the birthday of the greatest musical genius of our age, I present the video for the catchiest (and most educational) song off of his latest album.


Friday, October 20, 2006

For Science!

One thing that I have to relearn as I adjust to life with new roomies is just what TV shows and movies I can and can't watch while the roomies are around. It's not that I'm embarrassed about my viewing choices (I wouldn’t be broadcasting them here on CoIM if I were), it's that, well, let's just say that I had a difficult time really enjoying this week’s ep of Gilmore Girls with PigPen speaking up every few minutes from the other room with things like "Damn, she is already annoying me" or "Good, he shut her up, hope he's faster next time" or "Don't you have some DVDs you can watch instead?" In a similar fashion, over the past few weeks I've started to compile a list of PigPen's dislikes:

  • He finds Lauren Graham annoying
  • He hates the sound of Jerry Seinfeld’s voice
  • His mind cannot even begin to fathom how someone could be interested in Ugly Betty
  • He detests county music
  • He thinks that 99.9% of all commercials were written by brain damaged monkeys on LSD
Really not too inclined to argue with him on that last one.

Having just recently learned that Rebel Monkey has been selected to be a Theater Manager at this year's Austin Film Festival, and will therefore be hobnobbing with film makers, I think I'm going to see if she can use her newfound connections to help me bring my recently inspired idea to fruition: Two-Step Sally at the Downtown Doublespeak Ranch, an over-the-top romantic comedy starring Lauren Graham as Sally, the fast-talking proprietor of a new Country and Western dance club and Jerry Seinfeld as the neurotic advertising exec who falls in love with her while working on an ad campaign for the club and creates commercial after commercial (each shown in their entirety with a driving honky-tonk soundtrack) to win her heart. Once this is completed, I will then trap PigPen in a room where the film is playing in a continuous loop and see how long it takes for his head to explode.

For science, of course.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Grudge

I try to be an understanding and forgiving person, and I think, for the most part, I succeed. A large part of that is due to my mom, who would always meet my childhood rants and raves about those who had wronged me with insights into their lives, forcing me to always look beyond the surface into the root causes of behavior. In fact, she trained me so well that she later came to regret it, as she would become incensed on my behalf, questioning why I was still friends with so-and-so after they did such-and-such, only to have the "you have to understand where they're coming from" line thrown back at her. Because of this, few and far between were the instances in which I gave way to utter loathing for those who crossed me. One of the ones that did manage to stick started in Junior High, thanks to the 7th grade hazing process known as Initiation.

I don't know when I first started hearing the horror stories of Initiation, but I'm sure they were in full swing by the end of my 6th grade year. Being a painfully nerdy boy, I was understandably nervous about the prospect of being set upon by upperclassmen, fearful of the accompanying physical pain in the way that only those who've never experienced any such pain can be. But while there was a part of me that was fearful, I somehow managed to rise above it and not obsess over the possibilities. Honestly, it's truly amazing just how un-bullied I was a child, considering my nerdiness and fear of confrontation, and there was a part of me that thought I might be left off the hook since my mom was one of the more feared teachers at the school. No, I never played the "you know who my mom is" card, but on at least one occasion I know that a potential bully was stopped by one of his compatriots who invoked the name of Mrs. E. And so, as the first week or two of Junior High passed with no sign of a devastating Initiation on the horizon, I relaxed and forgot about it . . . until the day an 8th grader came up to me between classes and said "You're initiated" moments after punching me in the family jewels.

Now, this wasn't the first time I'd suffered trauma to the testicles, nor would it be the last; heck, it wasn't even the most painful. But it was the first and only time that said injury had been deliberate. My reaction is a bit of a blur; all I remember is making a bee-line for the restroom, in hopes of escaping the halls before the inevitable tears started flowing. Did I tear up a little or bawl like a baby? My recollection is the former, since I mainly felt shocked and numb, but I could be mistaken. Of course, I might not have had much of a chance to break down, since as soon as I made it into the restroom I was almost immediately surrounded by several upperclassmen who had witnessed the Initiation, and who weren't happy about it. Why weren’t they happy? Was it because I was such a beloved figure at the school that the very thought of someone assaulting me was enough to drive them into paroxysm of rage? Surprisingly enough, no, that wasn’t it at all. The real reason was simple: they were all Freshmen who had been raked over the coals the previous year after the initiated boys ran and told on them. So, seeing one of the previous year’s tattlers engaging in Initiation on the new generation . . . nosir, not happy campers at all.

Were there any consequences for the 8th grade ball puncher? Not that I'm aware of. I mean, yes, word did get back to some of the teachers, and one in particular did tear into the 8th graders about how ticked she was that they had gone and done to others what they had whined to her about having done unto them the previous year, but I never officially ratted out the offending party, and if anything happened to him at the hands of others, I was not privy to it. Regardless, that started my 5 year grudge against the red-headed racker.

Now, my biggest complaint against the guy wasn't that he had punched me in a highly sensitive area; I mean, yeah, I wasn't too happy about that, but I think I could have gotten over that relatively easily. No, what really griped me was that not a week before I had seen him just lightly punch one of my more popular classmates on the arm and say "That's it, you're initiated." Little bit of a difference there, no? It was that discrepancy that went all over me. For me, getting socked in the groin wasn't just a hazing ritual that applied to all of my classmates equally; no, it was a very clear message of where I stood in the grand scheme of things, a reminder that I was at the bottom of the social ladder and had little to no chance of climbing up. And so for years, a part of me hated him for that.

Oh, there was no really outward sign of that irrational loathing; sure, we had a few friends in common, but we didn't really run in the same social circles, and we never had a class together, so my contact with him was fairly limited. And my distaste of him demonstrated itself in the way it often does: my complete and total shutting down of any and all verbal activity in his presence. His voice grated on my nerves, his every word and deed seemed to me filled with the cockiness and arrogance that fueled the fires of my long-simmering anger, but all of that just stayed locked up inside me, repressed.

The full strength of my despising him wouldn't actually dissipate until the first time that I was around him for an extended period of time. It was at a TSA conference at NEO; I had been active in TSA for years at that point, but it was pretty much the only time the object of my ire had gone on a TSA trip. There was a pretty big gap in-between competitive events for a few of us, so we wound up sitting together in one of the lounges just talking. I think the fact that we were sort of on my turf might have helped a bit; I was more relaxed and acting like my real self than I usually did at school, and consequently actually had almost normal interaction with this person who had, up until that point, pretty much loomed in my mind as a total waste of space who held me in nothing but contempt. But the truth was that to this guy, I probably wasn't even a blip on the radar, and in all the time I'd spent directing negative vibes his way, he probably never gave me a second thought. And, after an hour or two of having normal human interaction with him, I felt years of built up bile fade away.

Of course, there was no sort of long-term bonding born of this. Outside of that one afternoon I doubt I ever spoke to him more than a couple of times in the following years, and at least one of those was when I ran into him at the Hastings in Stillwater my Junior year at OSU. But while we may not have become the best of buds, the whole experience did reinforce in me the futility of holding grudges. Which is not to say I never fell into that trap again; I have been known to irrationally harbor ill feeling towards a person or two. However, I don't think I've fallen into it quite as far or as hard. Yes, there are people I don't like, and people I try to avoid, and people who make me want to claw out my brains rather than have to deal with them, but on the whole those are based on long-standing and fundamental personality conflicts, and not predicated on a one-time burst of juvenile behavior.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What, No "Make Like a Tree and Get Out of Here" Reference?


Wonder How Much It Would Be To Bump Us Up to the "White Trash" Package . . .

So, apparently I signed us up for Charter's "Ghetto Cable" package without realizing it, complete with cable box which refuses to download the program guides and remote control whose battery panel keeps falling off, whose buttons are totally faded and impossible to read, and whose "OK" button does not work, making it impossible to access any menu options or even select a channel from the descriptionless guide.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

TV Tues - By the Time You Read This, I Should Have Cable Again

Yes, after weeks of many stumbling blocks and much procrastination, we finally have cable back. With luck, we'll have Internet up and running by tomorrow. And now, on to my reviews, which should be up to full strength by next week.

**Mon. Oct. 9**

How I Met Your Mother (CBS 7:00): Yes, this is a review of the episode from last week, not last night; I won't get to last night's until next week. Fun, no? Anyway, I know that I had to have been really, really tired not to have realized that "Ted Mosby --Architect" was really "Barney Stinson -- Liar" earlier than I did.

The Class (CBS 7:30): Again, last week's, not last night's. This one continues to grow on me, although I didn't like the fact that Jason Ritter's character was so shallow towards the elephantine eared blind date.

**Wed. Oct. 11**

Lost (ABC 8:00): Every time I watch this show, I wind up saying "Curioser and curioser" to myself over and over again. Looking forward to tomorrow night's ep focusing on Locke and Eko and the aftermath of the hatch explosion; wonder if we'll finally find out how Locke got in the wheelchair? I'm enjoying the mystery of The Others, and can't wait to see where it leads next.

Six Degrees (ABC 9:00): The whole "Puncher" thing was great, although PigPen was a little too enamored of it; if there are sudden reports of a random guy going around puching complete strangers in the greater DFW area, I'll just be waiting for the eventual call for help with bail. As for the show, I'm glad they didn't drag out the "doesn't know her fiance's a philanderer" or "dad can't see his son" storylines any further; those were going to wear me out quickly. This show has its moments, but I'm not totally sold on it yet.

**Thurs. Oct. 12**

My Name Is Earl (NBC 7:00): Think this was probably my favorite episode of the season so far, which had a little to do with the always excellent Amy Sedaris, and a lot to do with it being a Randy-centric ep.

The Office (NBC 7:30): So many great moments in this one that it's hard to pick any one to discuss. Laughed my butt off through the whole ep; so glad NBC gave this show a chance to develop.

Ugly Betty (ABC 7:00): The over-the-top makeover was almost too over-the-top for me; I realize Betty is supposed to be a fashion victim, but come on! Still, the show's campy humor hits more than it misses, so I'm sticking with it for now.

Grey's Anatomy (ABC 8:00): Meredith on morphine was great; Bailey being ignored by McSteamy was great; Alex telling Addison off was great; Derek actually stopping to consider the consequences of his actions was great. What wasn't great was the string of dumpings in the ep, although I think the resultant McSteamy/Callie hook-up will make for much fun when George finds out.

The Nine (ABC 9:00): Such a great cast, but still undecided on this one. Has promise, but has yet to fully engage me.

**Mon. Oct. 16**

Heroes (NBC 8:00): The super-powered aspects of the show: very cool. The character motivation and actions aspects: not so much. Okay, that might be a bit of a sweeping statement: there are some characters who I like (Claire, Hiro, Greg Gunberg), but there are others who are driving me crazy (Adrian Pasdar, Milo Ventimiglia, the doctor's son).

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC 9:00): Was I the only one majorly disapointed that Sting actually got more dialogue than Lauren Graham? At least it looks like she'll be in the next ep as well, actually interacting with folks outside of the show within a show context. Although I'm still enjoying it, the show just doesn't have the same energy as the first couple of eps anymore, which is disapointing; also, by this point I wish I had a little better handle on the personalities of the cast outside of Matt, Jordan, and Harriet. The others are either ciphers or just broadly defined. I'd like a little bit more meat in the characterization. Oh, and if they could make the Studio skits actually, y'know, funny, that wouldn't hurt.

And finally, playing a bit of catch-up on a new series.

Jericho (CBS, 7:00 Wednesday): The Anti-Cap'n had been taping this one, but we hadn't gotten around to watching any of the episodes. But after talking to my dad on Sunday and hearing him rave about the show, I figured it was about time to get caught up. Due to the cable mishaps, we missed out on the third episode, making for some confusion while watching the fourth (Tanks?), but even that break in my usual "must watch every episode in sequence!" routine didn't distract from my enjoyment of the show. Sure, there were a few "are these people morons?" moments, but so far this post-apocolyptic drama has me hooked.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Movie Mon. - No, Seriously, What Was Up With the Clocks? I Have to Know!

Kicking AND Screaming: Not to be confused with Kicking & Screaming (as Zinger pointed out a while back), this is a mid-90s Indie about a group of friends having trouble moving on with their lives following college graduation. Funny, witty, dialogue-driven film which highlights the acerbic skills Chris Eigeman as the pessimistic Max. This one got marketed as a romantic comedy back in its day, but that's quite a misnomer; I think the marketing folks had no idea what category this really fits in. It's really more of a character study, focusing on four verbose guys who have no idea what they want out of their lives. I enjoyed this one a lot.

Headspace: Fairly well-done low budget horror film about a guy whose brain kicks into overdrive, imbuing him with heightened intelligence and psychic abilities, with the side-effect of gruesome deaths befalling anyone he encounters. Production values are pretty high, and the acting and dialogue are a cut above most horror flicks, but by the mid-point I had grown so bored that I actually fell asleep. Woke up, was confused by what was going on, rewound, and found that it didn't really help clear anything up. A few too many plot holes for my liking.

Eight Below: Family film about a group of sled dogs forced to fend for themselves in Antarctica for several months while their owner tries to find a way to save them. Now, as you can probably tell from most of the movies I tend to enjoy, I'm not exactly a "feel-good flick" kind of guy; that being said, I enjoyed Eight Below quite a bit. The actors were likable, the script was funny, and the dogs were cute and entertaining without being cloyingly so.

The Roost: Odd low-budget horror film about a group of friends who break down in the middle of nowhere and are besieged by a swarm of killer vampire bats whose victims turn into zombies. A little slow-moving at times, and the inclusion of B&W creature feature host segments sprinkled throughout made for an unusual viewing experience, but all in all I enjoyed this one.

Click: Innocuous Adam Sandler vehicle about an over-worked family man who acquires a mysterious remote control which allows him to affect reality. Mildly amusing film has a few chuckles, but overall nothing to write home about. Sandler's character didn't strike me as all that likeable, making it hard for me to get into the film at times.

Stay Alive: Horror film about a haunted video game which kills anyone who plays it is not nearly as bad as that concept makes it sound. There are some logical gaps here and there, and actor Jimmi Simpson continues his streak of playing characters who annoy the ever-loving crap out of me every time they open their mouths, but it had some interesting ideas and a couple of cool effects . . . plus, it didn't put me to sleep, which has to be a point in its favor.

The Puffy Chair: Low-budget Indie comedy about a guy who goes on a road-trip with his demanding (and not all that likable) girlfriend and his hippie-ish brother. This one made it into my queue because it won an award or two at Sundance. The acting in it is interesting, in that it's not the horrible wooden acting of full-on grade-Z films, but neither is it the polished acting of a Hollywood flick. Instead it's somewhere in the middle, feeling somehow both natural and forced at the same time, if that makes any sense. Not a bad little film, but I had a hard time liking most of the characters, which made the film a drag at times.

Population 436: Interesting horror film about a small town whose population has remained static for decades and the unsuspecting census worker (Jeremy Sisto) who stumbles onto the town's dark secret. This one's more of a psychological horror film than a gorefest; in a way, its plot reminds me of the original Wicker Man, although that film was much, much creepier. But while Po. 436 might not be the scariest or creepiest flick around, it was still an entertaining film, if for no other reason than to see Fred "Limp Bizkit" Durst playing the incredibly naive "aw-shucks" small town deputy, and doing a really good job of it at that. The movie fell apart a little at the end, and I still want to know what the heck was up with the clocks, but on the whole this was a well made, well acted, dark and amusing flick.

A Prairie Home Companion: The latest from director Robert Altman is a snapshot of the behind-the-scenes action during the last night of Garrison Keilor's A Prairie Home Companion radio show. As to be expected of an Altman film, this one is almost entirely character work with very little plot. In fact, what plot there is is kind of out there, between Kevin Kline playing private detective turned security worker Guy Noir (apparently a recurring character in the real Prairie Home Companion) who is just a bundle of slapstick waiting to happen, and Virginia Madsen as a strange woman wandering around who may or may not be the Angel of Death. Although I enjoyed the film a lot, the fact that neither Guy nor The Dangerous Woman really seemed to fit into the same world as the rest of the cast took me out of it several times; once again, consistency of tone is a big factor in my enjoyment of a work. Definitely not for everyone, but if you're a fan of Altman or Keilor (who plays a fictionalized version of himself), this is worth a view.

Art School Confidential: Off-beat and often dark comedy by the creative team behind Ghost World follows the misadventures of love-stricken art school freshman Jerome Platz as he tries to capture the heart of a beautiful model amidst all the politics and hypocrisy of the art world. Funny film that has fun with all the typical art school stereotypes, while also mining some dark comedy with the subplot of a serial killer. Interestingly enough, although a lot of critics blasted this film for its lack of focus and inconsistency of tone, I had no problem with it. For me, the disparate plot threads blended together well; yes, the film grows darker as it progresses, but that mirrors Jerome's spiral into depression and his eventual desperate actions. The movie didn't strike me as having the yo-yo effect of swinging wildly from one extreme to another, which is when such inconsistencies really gripe me. I will admit to being a bit let down by the ending, and I really wanted to smack Jerome around for not figuring out who the killer really was (so painfully, painfully obvious), but I enjoyed the rest of the film so much that I can easily forgive a brief stumble or two at the end.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Saturday at Six Flags pt.2 - The CAP'NS Experience

We now return to the tale of my day at Six Flags last Saturday, this time from a chiefly CAP'NS point of view.

Cap'n Cluck and I had decided to get a relatively early start on our day, planning on leaving from my place at around 10AM. I actually woke up quite a bit earlier than I wanted, despite having been out late bowling with PigPen and Peanut, so I made a quick doughnut run and stopped by the Public Library to hop online and see if anyone had responded to my Call for Topics. After reading the 4 or 5 responses that had come in, I headed back home to wait for Cluckity. I devoured several Krispy Kremes, and left the following note on the box for Slacker Magee in case he hadn't gotten his lazy self up before we left: "Yes, PigPen, you can have some. Signed, Cap’n 'Downtown' Neurotic." Surprisingly, PigPen was up and around before Cluck got there; even more surprisingly, he refused to comment on my latest feint in the Battle of the Trigger Songs. He was heading back towards his room when he suddenly stopped dead in his tracks by the front door. He stared through the blinds on the door for a minute before motioning me over to join him. It seems that Cap'n Cluck was standing outside, pushing the doorbell repeatedly, not realizing that it didn't work. PigPen wanted to wait and see how long it took her to actually knock, so we both stood there watching her through the "we can see out but you can't see in" blinds before I finally opened the door and said "It doesn't work." She swore she had heard something when she pushed it; it was probably PigPen's maniacal giggling. I offered her a Krispy Kreme for her troubles, and then we were on our way.

Before we got to the park Cluck suggested that we should make an effort to ride all of the much advertised Ten New Rides, the joke being that after all of the hype they had turned out to be almost solely kiddie-friendly rides. I might have gone along with the suggestion if I hadn't known from the get-go that there was no way I was gong to ride the Acme Rock-N-Rocket which hangs you upside down for extended periods of time; I learned my lesson about those rides the hard way at Frontier City, where a similar attraction made me sick for the rest of the day. So, instead we started off on an old-school kiddie friendly ride: The Sombrero. I tried to do my best impression of my mom's usual reaction to the ride for Cluck's edification, but I know I didn't come close to doing her uncontrollable madcap laughter justice.

The park was a lot more crowded than the last several times I'd been there, so we only got a few of the big rides in before our hunger became overpowering and we headed to our traditional dinner spot of Cheddars across the street. The only real excitement came when we were a couple of spots away from getting on my favorite coaster, The Titan. After the cars had emptied out, a couple on the unloading side were trying to help their physically disabled friend on before the gates opened up, when suddenly one of the workers came back and told them they needed to wait. The worker then proceeded to walk down the tracks to where the next train was waiting to be taxied up and unloaded. It didn't take us long to figure out what the problem was, as we watched the other workers grab sawdust, cleaning solution, and gobs of paper towels. Yes, someone had hurled in the front seat. After some serious scrubbing, they got on the speaker and announced that that particular car was going to run empty three times. I quipped that it was the spin cycle, but Cluck posited that by the time the unclean car had finished its empty runs, there would be nobody left in the main line who had known what was going on. Either way, just glad it happened before our turn.

After our dinner at Cheddars, Cluck and I were both a bit stuffed, and so when we returned to the park and happened to stumble by the USA Stage just as the featured musical show was starting, we decided to grab a seat and enjoy the show. We had wandered past during a few of the earlier showings, and had had great fun mocking what few snippets we had seen, but that was nothing compared to the shear awesome cheesiness of the full show. What was so special about this show? Well, don't forget, this was Fright Fest, so it was nominally Halloween themed, with five struggling singer/dancers wearing "scary" costumes and acting "spooky" while singing songs by such "terrifying" acts as Marilyn Manson, Linkin Park, KISS, and . . . Ashlee Simpson. Granted, that last one is terrifying in a completely different sense than the others . . .

Although the performers were given character names, most of them didn't stick out, so Cluck and I tended to refer to them by their most striking piece of clothing. There were three different groupings.

First were The Bad Girls, whose outfits were designed not to be scary but “tough”:

Maven (a.k.a. Ms. Neon Green Bodice), who looked and sounded like she had just escaped from a road company putting on a Day-Glo production of Rent in the role of Mimi.
Angelique (a.k.a. Ms. Slutty Skirt), who did little to stand out other than being a blonde in a slutty Catholic girl skirt but, hey, it doesn't really take much more than that, does it?

Next were the Bad Boys (or, perhaps more accurately, the Bad Boy Band Boys) who were also in “tough” clothing, with the added feature of faces done up in full-on KISS makeup

Fang (a.k.a. Mr. Gold Lamee Jacket), who would probably be the "goofy/sensitive" member of any boy band he joined; the fact that that aspect was so striking even while he was in full on KISS makeup is just kind of sad.

Crash (a.k.a. Mr. Leather Chaps), who was by far the best singer, and who was also by far the worst dancer. There was a look of intense concentration on his face every time they'd move into a group dance number. "Okay, step 1-2-3, kick 1-2-3, clap, clap, clapclapclap, hands down, wrists limp, now spin!" Honestly, you'd think that after doing four shows a day who knows how many days a week the stuff would start to come naturally. Then again, maybe his brain was just constantly repressing the memory that he had to keep doing dance moves that inspired Cluck to repeatedly say "We did that in drill team in high school!"

Last but not least, there was the leader of the pack, The Big Bad. His name was Spike, which, by the way, is pronounced “SPIGARRRRGGGGHHH”, screamed in guttural tones while writhing in psychotic paroxysms, flapping your long black trenchcoat and bugging out your eyes.

I think that was the real delimiter in the three groups: their attitude towards the performance. I mean, first, we had The Bad Girls, whose outfits had little to nothing to do with Halloween, unless they were going as slutty dancers from an 80s video. The Bad Girls knew why they were there: to shake their hips and act all sexy. The Bad Boy Band Guys were a little more in the Halloween spirit, but even so, they were more pseudo-punk than spooky/scary. As for the intent of their performance . . . well, I’m not quite sure what their purpose was supposed to be, but if it was to make everyone in the audience wonder if they were going to head to The Blue Oyster Bar* after work, well, mission accomplished! But SPIGARRRRGGGGHHH was totally into the “demented psycho-killer singer from H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks” shtick, and never broke character for an instant.

If I had written this post the day after we had seen it, I could have gone into excruciating detail about the joys of the show, but after almost a week it has all melted together in my memory into one big glob of glorious, glorious cheese. I think the high point for me was when Mr. Leather Chaps belted out Styx’s “Renegade” while the whole company danced around with (I kid you not) motorcycle handlebars complete with functioning headlights. I think it was at that moment when I turned to Cluckity and proclaimed that even if we never found Clan G’ovich, the day out had now totally been worth it. Cluck replied that watching the show kindled a desire in her to go see the American Idol tour, since it would almost certainly be almost exactly like Howl . . . only, y’know, less SPIGARRRRGGGGHHH.

After the wondrous spectacle was over, we headed towards The Shockwave, which is when we ran into the Parkerites. We visited for a while, then split up to ride our respective last rides before gathering again for the grand Fright Fest finale. The finale started off okay, but improved vastly once the stage was filled with a whole company of costumed singer/dancers including (you guessed it) The Bad Boy Band Boys and SPIGARRRRGGGGHHH; not sure where The Bad Girls were, but just getting to see Mr. Leather Chaps butcher more dance moves and SPIGARRRRGGGGHHH writhe like a madman made for a nice cap to the evening.

The next day while recounting some of our experiences to The Singles, Cluckity and I briefly demonstrated a particularly egregiously cheesy dance move from the Howl show, which I had commented should be outlawed; upon seeing the move, both PigPen and Peanut exclaimed “Never do that again. Ever!”

I guess there was some “terror” in Howl’s performance after all.

*Yes, I just made a Police Academy reference. I’m very ashamed.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thinking Out Loud Thursday - Downtown!

Feeling a bit scattered today, so here's some of the random things slogging through my head right now.

  • PigPen and I have recently been engaged in a Battle of the Trigger Songs, which began after I stupidly complained about having a song stuck in my head, and PigPen began to plot ways to make sure it stayed that way. "Hey, Cap'n, I got a joke for you, it's dang funny. Now, stop me if you've heard this one: I ain't saying she's a gold-digger . . .” Within a few days, however, PigPen got a song stuck in his head as well, thus giving me some ammo as well. "Hey, PigPen, want me to pick anything up for you when I head . . . Downtown! Where all the lights are bright! Downtown!"

  • Gotten quite a few responses to my Call for Topics post. Some lined up well with things that were already percolating, some were new inspirations, and some made me think "Man, I wonder if I can get away with just dumping that into a random blog post . . ."

  • Been thinking about changing the name of The Singles to something a little less limiting, since there's a growing number of non-single folks involved. First thought: Church Monkeys.

  • For the last month or so I've been going to watch my roomies play softball on a team put together by Cap'n Bumper. The good Cap'n named the team Last Place, figuring it would wind up to be oddly ironic or highly prophetic. Right now, the irony is in the lead, as they've managed to take the #1 seed in the playoffs. Of course, in their first playoff game last night they played the worst I've ever seen them; I told Cap'n Bumper's wife that if they lost to the other team (which had a record of 0-8 to our 7-1), we were going to have to disavow any relationship to them. Luckily, after a horrendous first couple of innings, they pulled themselves together and wound up run-ruling the other team

  • I've been rethinking a couple of blog monkey nicknames because they either feel unnatural and don't flow very well in my storytelling, or don't really fit the person all that well. Of course, I have come up with nothing at all, so it's kind of a moot point.

  • On a semi-related note, I have dubbed PigPen with the alternate nickname "Slacker Magee." Why? Because the name popped into my head one day and I needed a target. Ol' Slacker Magee was slacking in the right place at the right time, and voila!

  • I finally got a chance to see Baby Disaster, a.k.a. The Most Beautiful Baby Girl In All The Worldtm at church on Sunday. All I have to say is this: dang, does that girl have a lot of hair.

  • I shall be revamping the Cast List in the very near future, abandoning the old format for a more narrative one, with possible photographic identifiers. All possible cast members may now consider themselves warned.

  • Update in The Great Cola Debate: recently, we ran out of Dr. Pepper and Slacker Magee grabbed one of my Cokes to drink, punching large holes in his "Coke is the devil" stance. After all, a true die-hard would have driven to the closest convenience store and paid their exorbitant prices for the cola of choice rather than subject his or her taste buds to the evils of the Other Cola.

    Advantage: Neurotic.

  • And finally, The Singles will be heading to the Texas State Fair this weekend, so you can soon expect a report back on the merits of the latest addition to Fried Fair Food: fried Coke Although with the combination of Coke and fried food, how can you go wrong?


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Another "What I Watched" Wednesday - Boom Goes the Dynamite!

I'd like to start this belated log of my TV viewage from last week by thanking Cap'n Cluck for her aid in making sure the Boys of Benjiman Street didn't miss out on some vital TV shows; it's much appreciated, Cluckity.

**Tuesday Oct. 3**

Gilmore Girls (CW 7:00): It amazes me how many people were ready to write the show off after the season premiere; Hercules, the main TV columnist on AICN, went on a long tirade about how horrible it was, how the feeble attempts of the new staff to try to emulate Team Palladino proved that the show was doomed, yadda yadda yadda. Personally, I didn’t find anything in the season premiere to be out of character, and yes, some of the speeches might have suffered a bit from overcompensation, but come on! If you compare the first post-Palladino Gilmore Girls to the first post-Sorkin West Wing, I’ve got to say that GG has weathered the creative storm a whole heck of a lot better. Besides, Team Palladino are some pretty big shoes to fill; why not give the new team a chance to find their footing before throwing them to the wolves? All that being said, I thought this second ep was a little bit of a stumble, but it was all worth it just to see Kirk doing his best Luke impression.

Veronica Mars (CW 8:00): Oh, Veronica, how I missed you. So glad that Mac is finally a full-time cast member, she adds a great dynamic to the show. And while Michael Ausiello was all jazzed about Veronica’s adoption of “frak” into her vocabulary, I was much happier by the unexpected “Boom goes the dynamite” reference. What’s that you say? You’re not familiar with “Boom goes the dynamite?” Allow me to rectify that right now

There, don’t you feel much better after watching that?

Help Me Help You (ABC 8:30): Although The Class gained some ground last week, this one is still my favorite new sitcom of the season.

Boston Legal (ABC 9:00): This was the first episode of the series I’ve ever watched, since I’m a bit gun-shy when it comes to David E. Kelly shows. In my experience, they start off smart, funny, and off-beat, stay that way for a season or two, and then begin to add so many characters every few episodes that the entire show soon implodes due to its massive gravitational pull. But, with the cable out, and ABC already tuned in for HMHY, The Anti-Cap’n and I were just lazy enough to give last week’s ep a shot. My opinion? Strange, strange show. And you all know I loves me some strangeness, but this . . . I don’t know. There are two distinct acting styles on the series: normal, understand acting, and scenery chewing, caricatured, Shatneresque acting. If the show featured one or the other, I could probably handle it better, but trying to have them work side by side . . . distracting. It did make me laugh quite a bit, however, and I have to say I’m a bit intrigued by the mystery of who killed Quark’s wife, but I just don’t know if I have it in me to add this to my watch list, especially since I’ve missed so much of the backstory.

**Wednesday Oct. 4**

Lost (ABC 8:00): Finally, Lost has returned! My enjoyment of the premiere was dampened by the fact that it was a highly Jack-centric ep (when Juliette said “You’re not stupid, you’re stubborn,” I really wanted to argue with her that he was obviously both), but still, the glimpses into the status of The Others have merely whetted my appetite for more. I still have faith that the writers of the show know where they’re going with everything; maybe that’s naïve of me, but I’m going to stick to that as long as I can. Oh, and I'm pretty sure the Stephen King book that The Others Book Club was reading was Carrie.

The Nine (ABC 9:00): New drama about nine strangers whose lives become intertwined after being involved in a hostage situation. Kind of hard to judge what the show itself will be like, since this first ep was so obviously just the set-up. For now I’m in, although I have to wonder how the flashback-heavy premise will be able to sustain itself all season. At least Lost has the ability to pull flash-backs from all sorts of points in time, and not just the hostage situation.

**Thursday Oct. 10**

My Name is Earl (NBC 7:00): Although the storyline with the freaks was fun, it was Joy's continuing legal drama that gave me the most enjoyment. Her interactions with Marlee Matlin (not to mention her reaction to Matlin's voice) cracked me up.

The Office (NBC 7:30): The office filled with people playing Call of Duty cracked me up, not only because I've known of offices who've done similar things, but also because just a couple of nights previous PigPen had stayed up all night playing it, so a nice bit of synchronicity there. Lots of great stuff in the ep, as usual, from Dwight's strange knowledge of Jan's fashion preferences to Michael's attempts to get Dwight to crack to Creed's creepy perv stare. I do miss having Jim in the Scranton branch, though; it's just not the same without him and Pam giving each other looks during the latest Dwight-oriented prank.

Survivor (CBS 7:00): I liked the way J.P. reacted to getting voted out; was shocked to see that a couple of the guys voted for him.

ER (NBC 8:00): You know, I never thought I’d see the day, but the fact that Morris is going to be sticking around makes me happy. A big part of my turnaround on Morris was them actually showing him to have at least a modicum of competence; having a complete and total screw-up making it through med school might work on a show like Scrubs (and yes, deadly “Nervous Guy” Doug is one of my favorite supporting characters on that show), but on ER it rings false. So, letting Morris show some skill and allowing his character to be humanized has worked out well. What’s funny is, I actually would have been okay with him leaving the show after the season premiere, since it showcased his character so well; I should have known that that meant he was staying, since traditionally ER has been horrible about giving its characters weak send-offs. I still can’t believe that Erik Palladino isn’t coming back as Malluci.

Ugly Betty (ABC 7:00): Second ep was just as over-the-top as the first, which is a good thing; the fact that this show doesn't take itself seriously goes a long way towards making it watchable. Love the fashion TV reporter played by Lucy Davis, better known to most Yanks as either Dawn from the BBC version of The Office or struggling actress Dianne in Shaun of the Dead. Definitely not for everyone, but as long as it can keep its slapstick tendencies under control, I'm onboard for a while.

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC 8:00): George's behavior towards Callie is bugging the heck out of me, and not just because Sara Ramirez kicks ass and I want her to stick around for a long, long time. Having all the disenfranchised docs checking into the same hotel at the same time was a bit contrived, but funny enough to make me forgive it. And you gotta love George's denial of comic geekiness followed by his super-hero rant. Oh, and the super-hero girl repeatedly asking people to punch her in the stomach was great.

Six Degrees (ABC 9:00): Was a couple of eps behind on this one, but am all caught up now. The second episode really got on my nerves due to the way it practically beat you over the head with the "look, they're all connected and don't even know it!" idea. That works well on Lost because you only see a glimpse of it in flashbacks; but here, when every scene has one character narrowly missing an encounter with another, it gets old fast. Luckily, the third episode seems to have dropped this in-your-face method completely, and was much the better for it. Still not sure how long this will stay on my viewing schedule, but for now I'll keep watching just for Campbell Scott and Hope Davis, who are both doing great jobs with their roles.


Legion of Super-Heroes (Kids WB): My biggest problem with the translation of the Legion from the comics to the TV screen so far (outside of some of the really ugly design work) is the treatment of Brainiac 5, who isn’t the Brainy that Bubblegum Tate and I have come to know and love; no, instead he’s Silver Age Brainy’s brain stuck in a spray-painted Gear’s body. Yes, it’s fun to hear him talk constantly about his 12th-level intellect, but I much preferred it when that intellect was his only power, and he wasn’t some mega morphing machine. But, as quibbles go, that’s a relatively small one. Right now I’m just waiting to see when some of the other Legionnaires are going to make more than a background cameo. Speaking of which, was that Tyroc I saw in the back when Brin was making his oath? Interesting choice if true.

**Monday Oct. 9**

Heroes (NBC 8:00): Third ep was much better than the second, although some of the character choices are driving me crazy. The biggest annoyance is the fact that Peter, who is all gung-ho about finding out the purpose behind his powers, has not even thought about going back to talk with Isaac, whose pictures inspired Peter to finally take the plunge; you'd think that would be his first stop. But, a few clumsy logic gaps aside, I'm glad that this has gotten a full season order.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC 9:00): Liked this week's ep more than last week's, but still not quite up to the stellar level of the first two eps. I do want to go back and re-watch the episode, because I think this is a show which improves with multiple viewings. And while I've always loved Sarah Paulson, I never realized how effective a mimic she was until now; very impressive.

**Tuesday, Oct. 10**

Gilmore Girls (CW 7:00): Hey, wait, didn't I already talk about this show? Yes, yes I did; but, since I didn't get this posted yesterday, and I had already written my thoughts on the previous episode sometime last week, I figured I'd go ahead and talk about last night's shows while they were still fresh on everybody's brains. The show still feels a bit off at times(especially Emily's explosion at Sookie, which was way out of proportion), but there's still a lot of good stuff here as well.

Veronica Mars (CW 8:00): Nice to see that "frak" has remained a part of Veronica’s vocabulary; Michael Ausiello will be so proud. Quite a few familiar faces popped up in this one (Rider Strong, Samm Levine, Kerri Lynn Pratt), making me wonder how many of them will pop up again later in the season.

Help Me Help You (ABC 8:30): I have no clue how this is doing in the ratings, and I'm kind of scared to find out; anything that makes me laugh out loud this often is pretty much doomed to cancellation. And speaking of which, was nice to see Henry from the late, lamented Sons and Daughters make an appearance as the leader of the Frodo12 WoW collective.

Boston Legal (ABC 9:00): Still not sure what to make of this one; I think a part of my problem is the cognitive dissonance I experience by actually finding William Shatner entertaining. That's just not supposed to happen!


Monday, October 09, 2006

Saturday at Six Flags pt.1: The Parkerite Experience

A couple of weeks ago, Rocket G'ovich posted on the PFL message board that the whole G'ovich Clan was going to be in the area the weekend of the 7th, and that while their itinerary was up in the air, they were definitely taking the kids to Six Flags on that Saturday, and everyone was welcome to join them. I replied that I was always up for Six Flags, since it meant I might actually get my money's worth out of my Season Pass for once. Not too long after that I got an email from Cap'n Cluck inquiring about when we could try to get a group to head down to Six Flags for Fright Fest, since she also was concerned about getting her Season Pass's worth. I told her I was probably going to go with the Parkerites, and that she was more than welcome to come; thought this would be a good chance for members of two separate blog monkey groups to actually meet. Of course, there seems to be some force that is determined to make such meetings difficult (see the recent Survivor Weekend fiasco for an example), and in this particular case the force manifested itself as it often does in my dealings with Parkerites: poor communication.

You see, although I had responded to the initial post about Six Flags and had chatted briefly with the Doc about their weekend plans, I never made any firm plans to meet up with them. Oh, I had every intention of doing so, but then I wound up calling in sick last week, and they were already on the road when I once again had Internet access the next day. But, I thought to myself, no problem, I can just call them on their cell and make plans. Then I got distracted by other pesky little things like “work” and “getting my butt kicked at bowling” and didn't get around to trying to call them until Saturday morning, which is when I realized I didn't have their number in my phone like I thought I did. But, again, I thought there was no problem, since all I had to do was call Pooh to get it . . . which is when I found out that Clan G'ovich was currently without a cell of any kind. And, since the last I had heard, nobody else was planning on going to Six Flags with them, making contact with them was looking like an impossibility. All of which I discovered, by the way, while Cluckity and I were eating lunch at a Taco Bueno about five minutes from the park.

My spirits weren't too terribly dampened; I mean, yes, I had been looking forward to seeing Clan G'ovich, but I knew they would be in the area at least another day, so I figured even if I missed them at Six Flags I could catch them at The Eskimo's place the next night, The Eskimo having called my cell while we were in line for The Titan to invite me. So, while Cluckity and I navigated the massive crowds I kept an eye out for The Doc and company, but without much hope of actually seeing them. I did tell Cap'n Cluck that if we saw them out and about, I wanted her to go up and ask the kids if they wanted some candy, to see how well Doc and Rocket had installed stranger-fear into the little ones, but as the day wore on I had resigned myself to yet another missed blog-monkey-meeting opportunity.

A little after 7:00, after Cluckity and I had eaten dinner and watched a show*, we were heading to the Shockwave in hopes of getting it ridden before the Fright Fest Finale at 9:00. As we were walking by the Superman Tower of Power, I was half-heartedly scanning the crowd for signs of Parkerites when something caught my eye, something which looked suspiciously like the back of The Doc's head. Now, I had been fooled by similar looking individuals earlier in the day, but as this figure turned in profile, I realized that it was indeed The Doc, standing in line for some food with his oldest daughter. I stopped in my tracks, turned to Cluckity, and said "Go up to that girl in the red shirt and ask her if she wants some candy." Or, that's what I thought I said; however, in my excitement at actually having discovered G'ovich, I apparently spoke in such a hurried pace that all Cluck caught was "girl" and "shirt,” so she stared at me quizzically. Made unusually impatient by the unlikely discovery, I headed over to the line myself, prompting Cluck to think that I was going to ask this little girl to turn around to show of her t-shirt, which confused her even further.

I came up behind them, leaned over, and in my best creepy old man voice said "Do you want some candy, little girl?" Young G'ovich spun around, seemed to recognize me, and made a face. The Doc turned towards the sound of a stranger offering his daughter candy with a stern look on his face, one that barely changed after he saw it was me. I greeted him, and his was oddly noncommittal. The person in front of them had finished ordering, so I motioned to the window and said "They're waiting for your order." The Doc slowly turned back to the window, and so I asked Young G'ovich how she was doing, calling her by name. This got another turn out The Doc, who looked at me intensely for a few seconds. You see, he had no clue who I was; when I addressed them by name, he started going through the lists of all the people they had known while living in Plano, before finally registering "Oh, wait, it's that guy I used to room with who I've known for 13 years." A great bolster to my ego, that was.

His defense? That I was "incognito in a hat."

Anyway, after realizing that I wasn't some random weirdo harassing his family, but instead a well-known weirdo harassing his family, The Doc lead Cluckity and myself over to where the rest of his family were sitting . . . along with Clan Eskimo, who had decided at the last minute to join them on their Six Flags excursion. So, if I had just made an off-hand comment to The Eskimo when he called earlier, we could have met up with them earlier in the day. Oh, well, such is life.

We visited for a little bit before Clan Eskimo decided to head home to put their little one to bed. Clan G'ovich headed off to the Sponge-Bob ride, while Cluckity and I finished our trek to the Shockwave, and then we all met up at the front afterwards to watch the big Fright Fest Finale. Afterward we trekked towards our vehicles, which turned out to be parked fairly close to each other. I said goodbye, and said I'd try to get over to The Eskimo's place on Sunday.

Of course, after spending an entire day outside at this time of year, I felt horrible the next day, barely made it to and from church, and knew there was no way on earth I was going to be able to make it to McKinney and back, so I instead just collapsed on the couch and home and hoped that everyone would understand.

If they even remembered who I was, that is.

*More on that in Part 2


Movie Mon. - The Great State of Vermont Will Not Apologize for Its Cheese!

Thank You For Smoking: Smart comedy about an incredibly smooth-talking lobbyist for Big Tobacco (Aaron Eckhart) who lives his life by the credo "If you argue correctly, you're never wrong." Funny, well-written, well-acted, and a tad dark at times . . . just the way I likes 'em. Great appearances by Rob Lowe as a high-powered Hollywood agent and William H. Macy as an anti-smoking Senator from the great state of Vermont. Most striking, though is the appearance of Creepiest Kid On Earth Cameron Bright in a *gasp* non-creepy role. Bright does a good job of portraying a highly intelligent kid without falling into the "Dang, that's one freaky little kid!" chasm that most of his previous roles have pushed him into. This really isn't a film about smoking; it's a film about double-standards, and the importance of choice, and the power of persuasion, and the possible perils of flexible morals. Great movie, highly recommended

The Woods: Well-done horror movie about a troubled young girl (Agnes Bruckner) who discovers that the forest bordering her new boarding school (run by the always excellent Patricia Clarkson) is filled with supernatural secrets. One of the better horror movies I've seen recently; engaging characters and dialogue help offset the fact that the special effects are occasionally sub-par. Some really poor CGI here and there, but with such a good cast and entertaining story I was more than willing to forgive the film its budgetary constraints. Plus, it's got Bruce Campbell, king of the B-movies; can't go wrong with Bruce.

Calvaire (The Ordeal): Very odd French horror film about a struggling musician whose van breaks down in the middle of nowhere, leaving him at the mercy of a demented innkeeper. Have mixed feelings about this one. Some inventive takes on the horror genre here and there, as well as some very obvious homages (Texas Chainsaw Massacre dinner scene being the one that really jumped out at me), but there was just something about this that didn't click with me.

The Burial Society: Average thriller about Sheldon Kasner, a mob accountant on the run who tries to fake his own death with the help of the Chevrah Kadisha, a Jewish society which performs the rituals necessary to prepare bodies for burial. Has some entertaining moments (particularly the scene where Sheldon fakes his death), but on the whole the movie left me cold. Not bad, but not great.

Edmond: Psychological thriller about a nebbishy man (William H. Macy) who leaves his wife and goes on a self-destructive journey which leads to a night filled with sex, violence, and death. It was only five minutes into this film before the dialogue annoyed me into remembering that this was a David Mamet film; it was about 10 or 15 minutes in when I began to wonder when Mamet decided to branch out into soft-core porn. Man, did I hate this movie. Yeah, there were a couple of mildly entertaining sequences, but over all, the lack of likeable characters mixed with the overly artificial Mamet dialogue (which was much more reminiscent of the much-hated-by-me Oleanna than, say, Glengarry Glenn Ross) made me almost stop watching. Instead, I turned on the sub-titles and let it play at double-speed so I could enjoy all the annoyance in half the time. Sure, some might say that doing so robs the film of its nuanced performances and directorially mandated pacing; I just say that it let me reassure myself that I wouldn't have missed anything if I'd ejected the freaking disk at the half hour mark. Unless you worship at the altar of Mamet, I say avoid this one.

Satan's Playground: Low-budget horror film about a family whose car breaks down in the Jersey woods, leaving them at the mercy of a family of psycho killers and the infamous Jersey Devil. Not terribly good, but definitely the good sort of terrible; the whole mess was worth it just for the mallet-to-the-head sequence, not only because it was wonderfully over-the-top cheesy but also because it fits in with one of my Film & TV Truisms: "Someone getting hit in the head: always funny."

X3: The Last Stand: PigPen rented this yesterday and I made myself watch it to see if it was one of those movies that would strike me better now that I have some distance. Well, sorry to say, the things that annoyed me the first time annoyed me just as much this time around, if not more (I'm looking at you, Halle Berry's strident and obstinate Storm!). Still, I'm glad he rented it, if for no other reason than I got to watch Kitty Pryde through a whole new set of eyes now that I realized she was played by the creepy kid from Hard Candy.


Friday, October 06, 2006

A Call for Topics

I've been in a bit of a blogging mood recently, in case you couldn't tell. I did have an idea for a post for today, but I haven't had enough time to do it justice, so it will have to wait until next week I'm afraid. But in the meantime, I shall open up the floor to you, my blog monkeys, to answer this question:

What should I blog about next?

I know that over the past year I've made lots of statements about what certain topics and ideas I'd be blogging about, and that sometimes those ideas get lost in chaos that is my brain, so if there's some promised blog idea that you were dying to read and have been consistently cursing my name for months and months for denying you the pleasure, please, give me a reminder, and I'll do my best to do it justice.

While we're at it, let's open up the floor for other suggestions. Is there anything in particular you'd like for me to wax pathetic, I mean, poetic, on? Specific tales from elementary, high school, college, church, etc.? My thoughts on a particular book, movie, TV show, genre, or theme? An examination or explanation of a particular facet of my neurotic personality? A defense of a particular apparent contradictory piece of behavior? Other stuff? Ask now while the blogging urge is high; who knows when the opportunity will arise again?

Actual odds of anyone actually posting suggestions: 1 in a Gazillion


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Everybody Likes a Little . . .

In addition to rekindling my nostalgia for the Parkerite days, having roomies again has had another effect: it has awakened the smartass within from its long, deep slumber. Well, okay, it was probably more like a brief, light catnap, but the fact remains that in recent years my inner smartass has grown slow and flabby due to lack of exercise . . . much like the outer smartass.

I come by my smartass nature honestly; my mom's side of the family is rife with smartasses. It’s practically hardwired into our genetic code.* In my younger days I was a well-practiced smartass at home, but was also a big enough nerd to seldom display it during class, for well I knew that way lay detention, sentences, and (horror of horrors) swats. I only revealed my smartass proclivities during times when I could let my smartass behavior fly, free of fear or retribution in any form other than reciprocal smartassery from friends and family.

So, if I've been a life-long smartass, why has my smartassiness atrophied in recent years? Changes in social environment. During the Parker and Book Monkey years I had ample opportunity to exercise my smartass skills in the company of other veteran smartasses, both at home and at work. However, when I moved to Denton, I found myself in a work situation where the smartass population was much thinner, and it was many, many months among The Singles before I felt comfortable stretching my smartass muscles. And, as the membership of The Singles class changed, and I was placed in a leadership position, the resultant dynamic made constant smartass behavior problematic. I must confess that there are times when I miss the good old days when I was the one who got to sit back and make smartass comments during the lesson instead of trying to corral the smartass population. I occasionally feel like a traitor to the smartass cause.

So, why the sudden resurgence in my smartassishness? I think it's all part and parcel of Hanging Out With The Guys. When I was living alone there was little HOWTG, and so my regular dose of verbal sparring was minimal. But pretty much as soon as I moved into Bizarro-Zinger's place it began in earnest. The two of us fell into a steady pattern of behavior: he'd make some comment designed to get a rise out of me, and I'd turn it back on him in as deadpan a manner as I could muster. At one point he told me that he thought I'd fit in well at the fire station since I never let anything get to me.

If he only knew, eh, my blog monkeys?

But in regards to Biz-Z's jabs, he was right; I didn't let them get to me. Chalk it up to personal growth, or the knowledge that this was how he interacted with everyone, or the fact that he obviously didn't have The Doc's knack for knowing the right psychological trigger to make me wig out. Occasionally he would catch me distracted and unable to frame an adequate come-back. He would immediately pounce: "What's the matter? You're usually full of smartass comments."

Hey, nobody's perfect.

The dynamic of the new place is different, and I find myself abandoning the deadpan mode to adopt a more combative style of smartassery that's more in keeping with the tone set by new roomie PigPen and his pal Peanut, who have been good friends for years and therefore know exactly how to push each other's buttons and drive the other into a murderous rage. How else could you know they were best friends? Anyway, the day The Anti-Cap'n and I signed the lease at the new place was also the first time we'd spent extended time around P&P without any of the girls around to temper their behavior; quite an eye-opening experience, in a "what the heck have I gotten myself into?" sort of way. At one point when The A.C. and I were shaking our heads in disbelief, Peanut looked at us funny, and then said "Oh, yeah, I guess you guys don't really know us that well." Briefly after that, I made a couple of cracks (one at Peanut's expense, the other at The A.C.'s), and PigPen acted shocked at my coming up with "two in a row."

Obviously, they didn't know me all that well either.

The moral of the story: old smartasses never die; they just get smartassier**.

* My dad's side, on the other hand, is responsible for me having the "ornery" gene, although I'm afraid it might have been recessive in me.

**All variations on “smartass” are dedicated to Strengthy Girl and Redneck Diva, both of whom know the importance of creating your own vocabulary.


Little Lady

Last Sunday was our church's annual Ministry Fair, where representatives of all the different ministries in our church set up booths to provide folks with info on how they can help out. Or, more accurately, to give the hard sell to anyone who ventures within range. Since there were only a few people in my class, we decided to postpone the lesson until next week and partake of the fair, where H.Q. and Freezeout were manning* the Singles Ministry booth and Papa Lightbulb (who flew in that morning and flew back that evening) had a booth to help promote his Austin church plant. These booths and many others were located inside the gymnasium, but we decided we'd start with the few booths that were located in the lounge area outside.

We barely managed to escape the very first booth.

You see, the first booth was run by a very talkative elderly gentleman who obviously felt very strongly about his ministry and the many, many, many publications they produced, which he kept handing to us one by one. Now, I commend his commitment, but his steady stream of conversation gave us no real opportunity to offer to sign up for anything, let alone move on to the next booth. The crowning moment of our encounter came when he began talking up one of the booklets in particular, telling us about how he knew of a 10 year old boy who used it to witness to his best friend. And then came the moment that makes this story worth telling: he leaned over towards Squiggly, held out the booklet to her, and said in his best grandfatherly tone, "And this little lady could take it and witness to her friends."

Yes, the kindly old man mistook the grad student for a pre-teen.

That made the 20-minutes trapped at the booth more than worth it.

*Yes, and womanning