Monday, July 28, 2008

Movie Mon. - They're Filming Midgets!

Not only did I finally get around to watch several of the Netflix which have been sitting on our coffee table for weeks, I actually enjoyed all four of them quite a lot.

Excellent animated adaptation of Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical comic book about growing up in Iran following the overthrow of The Shah in the 70s. Alternately funny and heart-breaking, I can definitely see why this one won so many awards. I watched a little of the English dub, and I thought it was better than most, but for my money this should be watched in the original French with subtitles . . . then again, I always vote for subtitles, even though not being in the mood for subtitles is the main reason this sat around the house for several weeks before I finally popped it into the VCR. I also recommend watching the making of features, which not only give an entertaining look at the real-life Marjane, but also has a nice sequence showing a Foley artist at work, which is always fun to watch.

Drillbit Taylor:
Surprisingly funny comedy about a group of geeky kids who try to hire a bodyguard to protect them from a bully and wind up with Drillbit, a homeless bum trying to fleece the kids out of money so he can head to Canada. I was afraid the comedy was going to be too broad and stupid for me, but it turned out to be just broad and stupid enough. About the only thing that annoyed me was how easily the bully was able to pull the wool over the eyes of the parents, but that's a small quibble for a movie that gives us the kid from The Ring as the geekiest of geeks

Definitely, Maybe:
Cute love story which centers around a just-divorced father (Ryan Reynolds) telling the story of how he met his estranged wife to his daughter, but with the names changed to see if she can guess which of the three romantic possibilities is her mom: the college sweet-heart (Elizabeth Banks), the passionate writer (Rachel Weisz), or the carefree best friend (Isla Fisher). This one was worth watching for the cast alone, but also boasts a funny and touching script that doesn't become too maudlin or saccharine. A bit predictable, to be sure, but well worth a viewing.

In Bruges:
Dark comedy about two hitmen (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) who are directed by their boss (Ralph Fiennes) to leave London and hide out in the picture postcard Belgium town of Bruges after a hit goes bad, a move that just about drives the younger hitman insane until he makes a discovery:

Midgets and beautiful women; guess Bruges can't be all bad after all. Then again, midgets are people too:

This was the Odd Squodd movie of the week; it's very dark and extremely twisty sense of humor had Li'l Random and I laughing our butts off through the whole thing. Think this one would appeal to fans of Snatch or Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; might not be as fast paced as those, but the tone and humor fits pretty well, and there is a touch of the old ultra-violence thrown in towards the end to keep things interesting. My favorite movie of the week.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Scottish Fireplug

On PigPen's birthday a couple of weeks ago a group of us took him out to Pete's Dueling Piano Bar in Addison, which is an annual tradition for him. Now, as most people who've been to Pete's might be able to guess, it's not exactly my type of place. On the one hand, yes, there's lots of music and sing-along possibilities, which is nice, but on the other hand, it's also crowded with drunk folks who like to smoke. Last year we got a table near the stage, which was cool since, y'know, I could sit down and fight off the smoke-induced headache, plus I was less likely to be crowded and shoved by people fighting to get from Point A to Point B -- although I did get whacked in the head by a beer bottle brandished by a totally plastered and oblivious blond who eventually got escorted away by a bouncer. This year, however, there was to be no table sitting, as we were much later getting there than usual due to us heading there straight from picking PigPen up at the airport. So, it was while Cap'n Cluck and I were trying to cool down by virtue of moving away from the tightly packed crowd and hovering near the front entrance and its accompanying breeze that I first saw The Scottish Fireplug.

Of course, that's not how I first thought of him; no, my original nickname for S.F. would have been closer to "That short, white-haired, wrinkle-faced, incredibly creepy, totally drunk old guy in the bright red t-shirt." It was the red t-shirt combined with his short, stout physique that made me think of him as The Fireplug. Standing about 5 foot or so, he first drew my attention by stumbling back and forth in front of us several times, running into various people and then fixating them with a look that can only be described as the height of creepiness before making his way back to his lone companion, a guy in his late 20s/early 30s who was probably 6'2" or so. After awhile he wound up standing pretty close to us, and somehow either Cluck or I caught his attention and he started to move closer to us, gazing creepily the entire time. After standing there for a minute or two with him swaying on his feet, cigarette coming dangerously close to Cluckity a few times, she and I decided it was time for a change of location. Luckily he didn't decide to stalk us, and while Cluck was done dealing with him for the evening, I got to witness his excellent social skills a few more times before the evening was over.; two of these times took place in the rest room.

The first time he was leaving the rest room just as I was entering and some jovial drunk decided to strike up a conversation with him; Mr. Creepy jabbered something back at him that I wasn't really sure was English at first, but soon discovered was actually a thick Scottish brogue worsened by the heavy amounts of alcohol he had apparently consumed that evening. Ironically, when I was finally able to decipher his ramblings, I realized he was telling the other person that he couldn't understand what they were saying.

The next bathroom encounter was a bit less pleasant. There was a pretty long line to get into the rest room at that point, and I had just moved through the door into the crowded room when I heard a huge commotion coming from the sole bathroom stall, with a belligerent drunk hollering that he was about to kick somebody's ass; three guesses who the target of his ire was. I'm still not sure precisely how it all started, since the open rest room door blocked my view, and by the time I poked my head around to see what all the hubbub was about the Scottish Fireplug was stumbling from the stall, spouting off his gibberish while the other guy was ranting about how S.F. had gotten in his face, threatened to push him, you just don't do that, he needs to learn to watch his mouth, etc. etc. The guy right in front of me in line stepped in to break it up, and since he was a big dude who probably could have taken the angry guy out with one hand tied behind his back, things calmed down. The peacemaker was trying to get angry guy to back off, saying "he's just an old drunk dude, let him be." S.F. kept mumbling things that were incomprehensible to most folks, but the elderly bathroom attendant -- apparently schooled by many hours offering hand soap and paper towels to barely coherent drunks -- stepped in as interpreter and claimed that S.F. was apologizing, a claim I kind of doubt but who can say? Finally S.F. stumbled out of the room and as he went past all of the people who had been standing outside hearing the commotion without being able to see the action I heard several people making sounds the likes of "oh, it's him," signaling that I wasn't the only one who had marked S.F.'s creepy presence. The folks behind me in line started talking about things he had done that night, but the only one that really jumped out at me was the fact that supposedly earlier that evening he had gone up to some guy who was sitting down and licked him on the ear; this, of course, resulted in a drunken chorus of "Dude, that's so gay! Like, so, so gay!" The Peacemaker said "Oh, come on, he's just a squirrel looking for a nut." It was at this point that The Lovable PigPen happened to wander into the restroom and say "Well, he's looking in the wrong forest, that's for sure."

I didn't see much of The Scottish Fireplug until after closing time. Li'l Random and I were standing outside the main entrance to Pete's, which is located on the second floor, waiting on Cap'n Peanut and PigPen to come out, when S.F.'s companion came out and started talking to one of the bouncers in a thick, but understandable, Scottish accent of his own. After a minute or two of looking around for S.F. he finally saw him sitting on one of the benches right inside the entrance, slightly slumped forward but still conscious. The Young Scot went over to gather up his older and drunker pal, but apparently our Scottish Fireplug didn't want to leave and when the Young Scot was insistent, S.F. took a few half-hearted swings at him. The Young Scot immediately dragged S.F. to his feet and began to march him towards the stairs, S.F. struggling the whole time. Li'l Random looked over at me and said "I'm going to follow them out and watch." I tagged along, figuring I could get the valet to retrieve my car and get a show on the way. After fending off a few blow from S.F., The Young Scot had had enough and sought to neutralize S.F.'s striking ability, grabbing both of S.F.'s wrist and yanking them up over his head. And so they proceeded to and down the stairs, S.F. not even muttering or mumbling any more, just feebly struggling in The Young Scot's grip; halfway down the stairs they reached a landing and made room for someone else to pass by, a move that enabled S.F. to free one of his arms and throw a few more hammer fists at an increasingly less patient Young Scot who shook S.F. hard and began to threaten his general well-being if he didn't calm down. They made it down the stairs and out into the night with no more incidents, thus ending what both Li'l Random and I considered the most entertaining part of our evening.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Movie Mon. - Super-Hero Masterpiece

So, this weekend I saw what will surely go down as one of the true masterpieces of the super-hero genre, thanks largely to a fascinating super-villain who steals the show due to the masterful work of the incredibly talented actor portraying him.

I am of course talking about

The brain-child of Joss "Buffy, Angel, and Firefly" Whedon is a relatively short made-for-the-Internet film about aspiring super-villain Dr. Horrible (played by the always amazing Neil Patrick Harris) whose plans to enter the Evil League of Evil are derailed when the woman of his dreams falls for his arch-nemesis, the smug and smarmy hero Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion, a.k.a. Mal on Firefly) . Originally presented free online as a promotion, it is now only available on iTunes . . . at least until the DVD release, that is -- a DVD release that is promising to contain behind the scenes footage and insight into all of the little easter eggs, like the way the pots and pans in this shot

look amazingly like Serenity. Plus, "Commentary -- The Musical!" how can you beat that?

A couple of my favorite songs are currently available to watch via YouTube, although the quality isn't the best. Still, if you want to sample the product to see if it's worth pursuing, you could do worse than seeing NPH strut his super-villainous side, first by reveling in his decision to put Captain Hammer away for good

and then by executing his plan in a song whose style proves that Whedon is Sondheim fan

And if that's not enough to entice you, then maybe I need to talk a little bit about Bad Horse, the Thoroughbred of Sin who leads the Evil League of Evil with an iron hoof and his terrifying death whinny . . .

Wait, what's that? You say you were expecting me to talk about a different super-hero masterpiece with a fascinating super-villain who steals the show due to the masterful work of the incredibly talented actor portraying him? Oh, yeah, there was that other little movie that came out this week, huh?

The Dark Knight: Excellent, excellent follow-up to Batman Begins continues to show the world that not only does a Batman film not have to be campy and cheesy to work, it's actually exponentially better when it's not. I don't want to get into too many details for those who haven't been willing to fight the crowds to see it yet, so I'll just say that Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker is every bit as amazing as all of the critics have been saying, and it alone is worth the price of admission.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army: The follow-up to the stellar adaptation of Mignolla's excellent comic book finds H.B. and the B.P.R.D. transferring their battle from Lovecraftian evil to the realms of the Fairy Folk. I'm afraid this one suffered from my high expectations; really need to see it again to appreciate it for what it is, rather than what I wanted it to be. Not that I didn't like it; it's chock full of good stuff. Unfortunately, it also has one love story too many, and an incredibly over-the-top portrayal of new B.P.R.D. member Johann Krauss, a.k.a. "Stereotypical German Guy." Still worth seeing, just not quite what I was hoping for.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Fragmented Friday - Cap'n Word Herder vs. The Nuclear Man

I have been awake since 3AM for no good reason; cursed insomnia. At around 5Am I decided I might as well go ahead and get up, get some breakfast, and go to work early. When I stopped at the Sonic where I usually get breakfast I was surprised to see the lights were all off, since I was pretty sure Sonic usually opens at 5Am, but since I'm not usually up at 5AM I figured I was mistaken and that they must open at 6Am. Still, since it was only five till 6, I thought I'd just park and wait for the lights to come on so I could order. However, no sooner had I pulled in than a worker came out and signaled me to roll down my window. Turns out my original thought was right and Sonic does usually open at 5AM; however, apparently the person who usually opens didn't show up and so they were way behind schedule, having just started turning everything on, so it was gong to be a bit before they were able to cook anything. I decided to go ahead and wait since I wasn't exactly in a hurry, so I spent the next few minutes just reading on The Bonehunters, the sixth book in Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series. The same Sonic worker came back out before too long and asked what I wanted, telling me they'd go ahead and start cooking my order, and then handing me a couple of coupons for a free drink and free burger. Then, when my food finally came out, the carhop apologized for my wait and told me the food was on them. So, something good came out of my early rise, but I would have gladly paid the 5 bucks for breakfast in exchange for a few more hours sleep.

As I mentioned the other day, I had to go get new glasses because one of my lenses was cracked. On Tuesday I called pretty much every optometrist covered by my insurance before finally finding one who had an appointment on Wednesday; this optometrist operated out of the Wal-Mart building, so after I got my prescription from him I headed into the Wal-Mart vision center to get the glasses made. However, while I was in the process of having them check to see if my insurance would do anything for the frames or lenses I discovered that it would take them 5 to 10 business days to get my glasses in. Since I didn't think either I nor my rickety old glasses themselves could last that long, I instead headed to EyeMasters, whose signs proudly proclaim "GLASSES READY IN ONE HOUR" with the caveat in slightly smaller font "In Most Cases." Hoping that I would me one of those cases I headed inside, handed my prescription to one of the workers and asked if they could get me some new glasses made that day; he took one look at the prescription and said "Maybe." I figured that was probably as good as I was going to get, so I went ahead and let him help me pick out some frames*, as well as talk me into getting prescription sunglasses for practically no cost**. As someone who has pretty much never been able to wear sunglasses, it's taking some getting used to.

Last week was fairly peaceful since The Lovable PigPen was off on a family vacation***; of course, peaceful is boring***, as I no longer had a readily available antagonist****, although Cap'n Shack-Fu did an admirable job filling in for him. In fact, barely an hour and a half after I dropped PigPen off at the airport I was engaged in a wrestling match with the Shack-man, who trounced me, but not without much complaining about the fact that I've improved too much over the months since we last tangled. "Old Todd would have submitted by now!" was his catch-phrase of the day. While knowing that I was a tougher opponent made me feel good, being able to actually beat him would have made me feel even better. Of course, I told him he only won because we were wrestling at his house and he had home-field advantage.

Even if PigPen had been around last week our sparring would have been primarily verbal, as he apparently decided to celebrate the year anniversary of breaking my finger by injuring his own hand. Of course, he chose to injure his left hand and not his dominant right, and probably only chipped the bone on one of his knuckles instead of breaking a finger right on the joint and doing full on tendon damage, but it's the thought that counts. He's currently waiting on a call from his doc with results from the x-rays they took on Wednesday to see how bad the damage is.

I was going to tell the story of The Scottish Fireplug here, but I think that one might deserve its own post; if I don't tell that by the end of next week, someone remind me, okay?*****

I emailed Flunky the other day just to catch up with him since I haven't been able to catch him on IM for a month or so. I of course gave him a hard time about being an uncommunicative son of a gun because, well, that's what I do; he, rising to the bait, replied a few days later thusly:

Flunky Lover is making me write this message because you know I would never respond to you on my own. In fact, I'm making her type this one handed with a baby in the other arm.
In other words, she forces him to do the right thing, and he forces her to be his stenographer and take care of the kids.

The other day while we were driving to pick PigPen up from the airport, Li'l Random was on the phone with B.B.; being the random generator that he is, Li'l Bro made some comment about being the thunder before the lightning, then paused and restated it as lightning before thunder, and then paused again as he tried to make sure which way was correct. I said "lightning before thunder, because light travels faster than sound," but apparently B.B. was saying the opposite. A few days later while we were at the gym, Li'l McEvil brought it up again just to watch us debate******. B.B. stuck firm to his thunder-first stance, I tried to combat it with my logical explanation of lightning-first, which caused B.B. - - who works with the preparedness arm of FEMA that deals with nuclear safety -- to exclaim "Look, I'm a Nuclear Man, I know things! You, you're just a word-herder! Walking around, pushing your carts, shelving your books, herding your words. Don't mess with the Nuclear Man, Word Herder!" Therefore, from now on B.B. has a new nickname:

Wave to Firestorm, everybody. Oh, for the record, oh great Nuclear Man? The Word Herder wins.

*He nixed one pair I tried on saying that another pair didn't make my face look quite so wide; I was tempted to ask him if he was saying I had a fat head, but let it pass.
**Li'l Random, upon seeing my new shades, informed me he's now going to start calling me Morpheus.
***In addition, the Week Without PigPen was really just a warm-up for Life Without PigPen, as it is now only three weeks until he moves out of our place and moves down to Lewisville with Cap'n Peanut.
****His little sister was home on leave from Iraq, so the family decided to spend a week with her down in Cozumel. Feel free to send jealous thoughts his way, I know I did.
*****And by someone I pretty much mean Zinger, of course
******Odds are pretty good that one or both of us was picking on him and he decided to have us turn on each other to spare himself; he's good like that.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Obligatory "Not Dead, Just Lazy" Post

Yeah, I know, I'm a slacker. No really good excuse, just haven't been in much of a blogging mood recently, due to lots of reading (read Soon I Will Be Invincible in a day, more on that later) lots of TV watching (finally watching the first season of Burn Notice, courtesy of, excellent show, you should all watch it now if you haven't already), and a little bit of illness (missed work on Monday, slept until noon, felt slightly better). Plus, the tiny crack in the left lens of my glasses decided to become a not-so-tiny crack and has finally infiltrated my general field of vision; as such, I went for a long-overdue eye exam, got my new prescription, and will be picking up some new glasses in an hour or so, along with prescription sunglasses, a first for me.

I'll try to get motivated to post some more stuff before the week is up, but no promises.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

"Lt. Shack-Fu Said We Could": A Tale for TV Tuesday

A little over a week ago Cap'n Shack-Fu was finally released from Oklahoma and allowed to come back to Denton. After a particularly grueling deployment, he decided to take a whole week off to recuperate. Since I hadn't really gotten much of a chance to spend any quality time with my best bud in quite a while, I took off a little early on Thursday so we could hang out. The original plan was for us to go to the park or go hiking or something like that, but that plan got derailed when he got called up by his commanding officer in the Texas State Guard who asked him to be one of a group of Guard members who were interviewed for the local CW affiliate's program DFW Closeup, which was devoting a whole episode to the Texas military. Shack invited me to tag along, and far be it from me to turn down a chance to hang out with my Best Friend and see the inner workings of a TV show.

There were three groups of people being interviewed for the program: the first was a representative of The Friends of San Jacinto, followed by a couple of members of the Texas Navy, with Shack-Fu and his fellow Guardsmen wrapping it all up. The members of the first two groups were wearing suits and ties, while Shack's group were all decked out in their uniforms; I, on the other hand, felt a tad under-dressed in my Serenity t-shirt and jeans, so I hung way at the back of the pack when we all filed into the studio to meet the host, Shana Franklin. And when I say "filed" I mean "filed," with the military men (and woman) almost instinctively falling into a single-file line, which caused Shana to cry out "Please, spread out, I feel like I'm in a receiving line!" Throughout the time we were there she was constantly trying to get everyone to loosen up and not be so formal, a difficult task for folks who are very cognizant that they are representing their respective military organizations.

They set up a series of folding chairs just outside of camera range for us to sit in while the other folks were being interviewed. As soon as we sat down, everyone got very quiet as Shana and the San Jacinto rep prepared for the first segment; however, Shana quickly put the kibosh on that, calling out to us "Don't get all quiet on me, talk, please, talk, as long as you're not yelling we'll be okay, you're making me nervous like that." So, everyone started to talk quietly among themselves. When Shana was ready to start taping she said "Alright, let's get started," and everyone got quiet again, causing her to look over and yell "Don't do that, keep talking!" And so, we did.

Shack and his two compatriots spent some time trying to figure out what they were going to say and worrying about misspeaking; Shack's two lower-ranking companions -- a corporal and a warrant officer -- jokingly declared that if they screwed anything up too bad they would just tell the higher ups that it was all Shack's fault, with "Lieutenant* said we could" becoming their mantra. Finally it was their turn to get up on stage with Shana, with the corporal and warrant officer to Shana's right like the previous guests and Shack becoming the first to sit to her left** . . . you know, the sinister side. Kind of fitting, huh?

Shana told them she was wanting their segment to have more of a conversational feel rather than just an info-dump, which is sort of how the first segments came out, but that she was still wanting to sort of divvy up who was planning to talk about what first. She said "So, one thing we'll want to cover is exactly what the State Guard does; who wants to answer that?" Shack-Fu spoke up, saying "We enhance and support local authorities." Shana turned to look at him, put her hand over her mouth, and let out an incredibly theatric yawn, following it up with "I'm sorry, but this airs at 7 AM on a Sunday, we want to wake people up not put them back to sleep." Shack-Fu tried to explain that he was just trying to answer her question, saying "I'm sorry, I thought you asked for your own edification," but she apparently thought he was just stuffy, since she started telling him she wanted him to lighten up, loosen up, show some energy, etc. I began to mutter to myself "Lady, you're playing with dynamite and you don't even know it."

But being in uniform kept Shack from entering into full-fledged HyperForce mode, no matter how much Shana poked the sleeping hyper-bear. However, I think she did start to get a sense that there was more mischievousness lurking beneath Shack's exterior than she expected a few minutes later as she was reiterating that she wanted the segment to flow like a conversation, telling them that while they had sort of assigned who would focus on what topic, if anyone had anything they wanted to add they should just jump in, or try to get her attention -- at this point Shack leaned over and tapped her on the shoulder with a little evil grin on his face. She turned, looked at him, and declared "Do not do that while we're taping, I will totally lose it if you do." He assured her that he would never do such a thing, but couldn't resist tapping her on the shoulder at least one more time before they finally started taping.

While not exactly the way I'd been expecting to spend my afternoon off, all in all it was a pretty interesting and entertaining time; you can take a gander at Shack's 6 minutes and 57 seconds of fame right here.

*Yes, while he holds a blog-monkey rank of Cap'n here on CoIM, in the Guard Shack was recently promoted to First Lieutenant.
**Shack-fu's seat meant that he was pretty much facing straight at me; I was threatened with great bodily harm if I started making faces at him. Luckily for all involved, for once I was able to control my suicidal tendencies, and would not provoke Shack into kicking my butt for several more days.


Tardy Tuesday's Movie Monday Makeup

Only a few more days until Hellboy II: The Golden Army comes out, and then it's only a week until The Dark Knight premieres, and then the summer of the super-cool comic book movies which get off to a great start with Iron Man and kinda-sorta carried on with Wanted will be over. But, at least I'll still have super-cool comic book TV to watch in the form of The Middleman, which is still kicking all sorts of butt.

Hancock: Will Smith vehicle about a drunken lout of a superhero whose horrible attitude and behavior have made him an object of scorn, until a well-meaning PR consultant decides to make him his new cause. An okay film; I might have enjoyed it much more if I hadn't already seen practically the entire first 2/3 of the film in the trailers. I suppose I should be happy that the bulk of the final act of the film wasn't spoiled for me, but this was definitely a case where careful avoidance of promotional media would have increased my enjoyment a lot. Plus, that final act felt very rushed, and the "big bad" was a bit of a let-down. All in all, I'm not sorry I paid matinee price for it, but probably would have been satisfied to wait for rental.

10,000 B.C.: So-so blockbuster about a young mammoth hunter who undertakes a quest to rescue his tribe members who were kidnapped to be used as slaves to build the pyramids. Probably would have been a better movie-watching experience on the big screen, where the special effects would have had more impact; as it was, watching it on a regular sized TV just made the mediocre plot stand out more.

Vantage Point: Thriller about an assassination attempt on the President, told from the P.O.V.s of a news crew, a Secret Service agent, a local cop, a civilian bystander, the President himself, and the conspirators behind it all. An interesting idea, and executed fairly well for the most part, but I couldn't help feeling like there were some problems with the overall timeline of events, and the Forest Whitaker storyline grated on my nerves, for the inclusion of the little girl as resident damsel in distress if nothing else -- seriously, was that whole thing truly necessary? My favorite part of the film was the opening sequence with Sigourney Weaver as the news producer; if only the rest of the film had engaged me as much. Worth a rental, but glad I didn't pay full price.

Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj: Lackluster, cliche-ridden sequel which follows Taj Mahal Badalandabad to a new college in England, where he adopts a group of outcasts and misfits (comprised of a Brain, a Brute, a Beauty, and a Brain-dead Bozo) and whips them into shape so they can win the coveted Camford Cup, all while wooing his lovely supervisor who just so happens to be dating his arch-nemesis and head of the raining Camford Cup champions. Yup, nothing derivative there, nosireebob. Watched this due to a bit of synchronicity; somehow the movie came up in a discussion at lunch on Sunday and PigPen mentioned that he was morbidly curious in seeing how it stacked up to the original, which he really likes. Later that evening, as I was flipping through the channels I saw that it was on Showtime, so we figured we'd give it a whirl since it wasn't going to cost us anything other than our time. Well, we made it all the way through, so it obviously wasn't a horrible movie, but neither was it all that good. Couple of chuckles here and there, but, yeah, don't waste any money on it.

The Bucket List: Entertaining film about two terminally ill cancer patients (Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) who decide to embrace life in their last days on Earth. Both funny and touching, this is one of the few films I saw this week which I would recommend with no hesitation. A bit predictable, yes, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Charlie Bartlett: Excellent film about a too-smart-for-his-own-good wealthy teenager who struggles to find his way after being kicked out of private school, and soon winds up finding popularity as his school's resident amateur therapist, complete with pharmaceutical aid. A very funny and smart film which is built on a solidly entertaining script, but which is propelled by stellar performances from its cast, particularly the titular role as played by the talented young Anton Yelchin. Honestly, for me the film was worth it just for the sequence where he tries out for the school play; everything after that was just gravy. If Li'l Random wasn't out of town this week, I would have used this as the Odd Squodd pick of the week; as that implies, this one might not be for everyone.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

TV Tues - Face-plant!

Really not watching a lot of stuff on TV right now; need to run to and get all caught up on Burn Notice so I can start watching the new episodes. Never have watched, but lots of folks rave about it (including Li'l Random, who, as all good blog monkeys should know by now, shares a dark and twisty brain with yours truly) so I really need to give it a shot.

Ultimate Fighter
: I know the finale was a few weeks back, but I just wanted to say how pleased I was that Amir won it all; nice guy, funny, unassuming, self-deprecating, much more someone I would cheer for than the cocky C.B. This was probably one of the most entertaining seasons just for the coaches, really looking forward to seeing Rampage and Forest face off this Saturday.


The Mole (ABC, 9:00):
Although I'm enjoying the revival of The Mole, it still isn't the same without Creepy Anderson as host; I miss Creepy Anderson.

The Middleman (ABC Family, 9:00): Love this show. I mean, come on; straight-laced super-hero and his more jaded side-kick fighting off mad scientists and comic book evil all while spewing out witty dialogue at a screwball-comedy pace? Love it, love it, love it. Sure, the fx are cheesy, and this is surely not for everyone, but as long as the quality of the scripts holds up, I will probably by buying this on DVD when it comes out. For now, if you're curious, you can check out the last couple of episodes online here.


Deadliest Catch
(Discover Channel, 8:00): Phil amazes me. Here he is, horrible health to begin with, then gets the crap knocked out of him in a storm, bruises if not out-and-out breaks his ribs, and still keeps puffing away on the cigarettes 24-7. "Yeah, I'm in pain *puffpuffpuff* can't really breathe *puffpuffpuff* thought it would get better but for some reason it keeps getting worse *puffpuffpuffhackcoughpuffpuffpuff* oh, look, now I'm coughing up blood *puffpuffpuff* anybody got a light?" Craziness, man, craziness.

Wipeout (ABC , 7:00): PigPen and I finally got around to watching the premiere episode of the new game-show Wipeout (a.k.a MXC Lite) and there are some pros and cons. to it.

  • Pro: get to see lots of people face-planting on the obstacles
  • Con: so far they seem to be picking the loudest, most annoying contestants possible
  • Pro: you get to see these loud and annoying contestants face-plant on the obstacles
  • Con: The commentary is really only funny about once every twenty "jokes"
  • Pro: The show can be just as enjoyable by muting the TV and making your own, much superior commentary as you watch contestants face-plant on the obstacles
  • Con: The first two stages are face-planting heaven, while the last two stages were much less devastating to player egos and thus much less enjoyable to watch
  • Pro: It looks like they may vary the third stage up a bit to allow more face-planting, and there's always hope that you'll get a really clumsy contestant who will totally humiliate themselves in the final found.
So, in the end, I think the Pros barely outweigh the cons . . . if nothing else we can just tape it, watch the first 30 minutes of face-planting glory, and then go about our lives without worrying about who won it all.