Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cap'n Shack-Fu and the Tale of the Roadhouse Tea-Cup

Recently Shack-Fu and I have been eating at Texas Roadhouse quite a bit; the staff there might not recognize us as readily as those at Frilly's, but they're getting there. After all, it's kind of hard to forget Shack-Fu, who will talk to anyone about anything, and who delights in giving the wait-staff a hard time. This past Sunday, we had a particularly lively waitress who was enjoying the banter with us quite a bit. When it came time for us to go, Shack asked her if he could have a to-go cup for his sweet tea. She said "Well, the cups are only this big, do you still want one," while holding up her hands to simulate a size that's probably close to a medium or large drink at most fast food places. Shack said that would be fine, so she went off to get his drink; when she came back, it was obvious that her skills at mime needed much improvement. "That's it?" Shack exclaimed. "That's so small!"

"I said it was about this big!" she exclaimed, repeating her earlier mime exactly; Shack-Fu held the teeny cup up to her hands, showing her that the real cup was a good two inches smaller than her mimed cup. "Sorry," she said. Shack-Fu, continuing our trend of giving her a hard time, very forcibly demanded "Bring me another one!" She jokingly made a big deal about how demanding he was, and he assured her he was just kidding. A few minutes later she came back, said "Here!" and slammed his replacement cup down in front of him, which caused both Shack-Fu and I to nearly fall onto the floor laughing. For you see, the replacement cup looked suspiciously like what it usually held was a substance that rhymes with tea . . .

Yes, she had filled one of those little to-go containers for sauces with sweet tea, and yes, it looked eerily like a specimen cup filled with urine. Which didn't stop Shack-Fu from whipping off the lid and downing it like a shot because he didn't want it to go to waste.

And yes, she did bring him another regular to-go cup of sweet tea.

And yes, she did get a very good tip from both of us; anyone who can get Shack-Fu like that deserves to be rewarded.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"No NaNoWriMo" No Mo'

So, you know how this blog's update schedule has devolved from a steady stream of at least 5 posts a week to an uneven, erratic, who can guess when it'll be updated again mess? Well, prepare for it to get worse for a while.

"Worse?" you say? "How can it possibly get any worse? And, perhaps more importantly, why?" Well, the answer to the why can be summed up in one word: NaNoWriMo.*

Okay, so technically that's just an abbreviation for four words and not a real word itself, but my point stands: this year I'm planning on taking part in National Novel Writing Month, and there's a good chance that when the time comes for something to get thrown under the bus to make time for what is sure to be a major obsession for me, the blog posts will be one of the first things to go; I'm sure many long-term blog monkeys will have TOFKAP/In a Cabin flashbacks.

Now, some of you may remember that last year I listed my reasons for avoiding NaNoWriMo, and if so are probably asking "What's changed?"

Not much, to be honest. I still feel like the full-steam-ahead, no-editing-for-a-month approach may drive me crazy; I'm still not happy about the timing which will interfere with Sweeps and Thanksgiving; and I'm still leery about the deleterious effect taking part in the event will have on my mental health and social life -- although with PigPen and Cap'n Peanut down in Lewisville, Li'l Random traveling constantly for work, and Cap'n Shack-Fu being this close to heading off to Quantico that whole social life thing isn't as big of an issue as it was last year. Honestly, there's no way I could have pulled off NaNoWriMo when I was rooming with PigPen -- the distraction factor would have been way too high**. But I digress.

Honestly, the biggest factor in getting me to do this is that it hit me recently that it's been almost three full years since I wrote In a Cabin and, outside of my few meager contributions to the now defunct Write in the Thick of It challenge, my fiction writing output is pretty much zilch. Yeah, I sketched a few follow-up story ideas here and there, but in terms of a full-blown finished product, pretty much bupkis. And since it looks like the odds of me ever getting off my metaphorical butt and writing anything other than rambling blog posts and neurotic emails without some sort external motivating factor are slim to none, I decided that shackling myself to the NaNoWriMo paradigm and putting myself up for all other NaNoWriMo participants to encourage, pester, and mock as needs be would be just the kick in the pants I needed.

Now, at first the prospect of writing 50,000 words in 30 days sounds daunting, until you consider the fact that I finished the over-65,000 word In a Cabin in about the same amount of time -- an effort that included time for re-writes and editing and constructive criticism, not to mention the basic conceptualization. That last bit won't be quite as burdensome, as I already have an idea in mind:a semi-sequel to the two "Talent" stories from In a Cabin featuring Panic, a character from my story Deprecations on the Themed. The tentative titled is The Gateway Drug, but that's subject to change depending on if the initial story idea I have is meaty enough to sustain 50,000 words, or if I'll have to fill in some gaps between the In a Cabin stories and Panic's story via flashbacks.

Probably the biggest difference from In a Cabin is that the goal there was to make a finished, readable product within 30 days. With NaNoWriMo, the only requirement will be that I get the story told in any way possible, clunky writing and wild divergence in style and theme be damned; the clean-up and re-writing will take place in December, a.k.a. Massive Novel Revision Month, or MaNoReMo. Now, that's not part of the typical NaNoWriMo schema -- most folks finish their novel and never want to think about it again -- but you can bet that if I take the time to write a 50,000 word story in November, I will not be able to fully rest until it is suitable for public consumption.

Who knows; some folks might be getting a very bulky and wordy stocking stuff this year for Christmas . . .

*Or, as I'm going to start calling it, MaNoWriMo: Masochistic Novelists' Wretched Month
**Plus, y'know, hard to type with broken fingers . . .


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TV Tues - Still Straggling

I'm still a bit behind on viewing, I'm afraid, so please bear with me. Oh, and I have officially given up on Kath and Kim; got maybe 10 minutes into the second episode before my disgust at the selfish spoiled brat behavior of Kim drove me insane. So, one less thing to worry about keeping up with.



Privileged (CW 8:00): I'm discovering that I enjoy the show more when it focuses on Megan and the girls or Megan and Charlie than I do when the grandmother or Megan's family are the focus.


Pushing Daisies
(ABC 7:00): The flashback to Emmerson's childhood was great, as were the scenes with "Downy," who cracked me up with her super-cheery demeanor. Plus, I want one of those hug machines.

Private Practice (ABC 8:00): Scenes with Violet, Cooper, Dell, and Charlotte were golden; scenes with Naomi and Sam were excruciating, unless they were scenes with the aforementioned golden characters. So, y'know, par for the course of the show.


The Office (NBC 8:00): It was nice to see Phylis kind of wind up on top for once; I feel bad that she's always getting the short end of the stick.

MONDAY, Oct 27

Heroes (NBC 8:00): I just don't know what to think of the show anymore; right now Daphne, Ando, and Noah are the only characters I really care about, most everyone else annoys me with their stupid actions. Am ecstatic that Maya is gone, saddened that she didn't take Mohinder with her.



(CW 8:00): We finally get to meet Megan's father; here's hoping it's less painful than meeting her sister. But even if it is, I think there will be plenty of pain in the promised Charley/Megan confrontation.

Mentalist (CBS 8:00)


Pushing Daisies
(ABC 7:00): Thank you, ABC, for being the only network to air your regular programming instead of a 30 minute political ad, thank you very much. Plost wise, a friend of Ned's father shows up and Emerson reconnects with Simone, the dog breeder from season 1.

Private Practice (ABC 8:00): Sam and Naomi fighting for who gets to be in charge -- great.

Ultimate Fighter (Spike 9:00)


(CBS 7:00): The blurb promises a shocking twist with the possibility to change the course of the game, along with two contestants being voted off.

My Name is Earl
(NBC 7:00): A Hallowwen party Earl; I can't wait to see the costumes.

The Office (NBC 8:00): The biggest downside to the "Pam's in art school" story is that it has drastically reduced the amount of Pam we see each week; luckily this episode should rectify that a bit as we get to see her embarrassment over being the only person at the corproate office to show up in costume on Halloween. Plus: Dwight sets out to get under Andy's skin.

30 Rock (NBC 8:30): The return of the sitcom I never thought I'd like, but which has grown to be a must see for me.

Grey's Anatomy (ABC 8:00)

Life on Mars (ABC 9:00): Sam meets his mother in 1973


The Simpsons
(Fox 7:00): Although I've kind of let The Simpsons slide off my viewing radar the last season or two, I still feel compelled to watch their annual Treehouse of Horror episode . . . even if it does come after Halloween.


The Big Bang Theory
(CBS 7:00): A grad student is attracted to Sheldon; need I say more?

How I Met Your Mother (CBS 7:30)

Two and a Half Men (CBS 8:00): Judith kicks Herb out; hope that's only a temporary thing, because, as Charlie said, "I've grown fond of the big lug."


Monday, October 27, 2008

Movie Mon. - A Smattering of Horror Reviews

I'm a little disappointed in myself for not living up to my usual standards of horror film reviews this Halloween month; I blame Cap'n Shack-Fu's presence back in town this month for the distraction. Of course, as far as distractions go, having my Best Friend around again is one of the better ones.

Death Note:
Live action Japanese adaptation of the popular Manga series about a brilliant young man named Light who comes into possession of a mystical notebook with the power to kill anyone whose name is written in it, and decides to use the power to rid the world of evil, becoming a cult figure known as Kira. A relatively faithful adaptation of the first several volumes which shifts a few things here and there, shrinking the timeline and shifting some character actions around. I did feel like the decision to have Light espouse pro-Kira thoughts to his girlfriend was totally out of character, and the movie really dragged up until the appearance of Light's nemesis, the brilliant but eccentric detective known as L. Not a bad film, and I'm looking forward to the sequel which will wrap up the first half of the Manga series, but I couldn't help feeling it paled in comparison to its source material.

The Strangers:
Occasionally tense but also occasionally frustrating thriller about a couple who are terrorized in a secluded house by a trio of masked strangers. A lot of the reviews I read compared this to Ils (Them), and while I see the link, I found this one to be more suspenseful and more enjoyable overall, although ever since having to suffer through her breathy, whiny version of Betty Ross in The Incredible Hulk, I've been a bit down on Liv Tyler, and watching her trade in whispers with the equally soft-spoken Scott Speedman --seriously, was having Felicity flashbacks at times with all the whisper-talk -- was more distracting for me than anything else. But, that may just be me.

The Substitute (Vikaren):
Off-beat tongue-in-cheek Danish SF/Horror comedy about a bizarre substitute teacher who some of students discover is actually an alien in disguise. A bit uneven, the film still earned high marks in my book for having a diverse cast of kid actors who managed to be entertaining without being cutesy, and for the performance of Paprika Steen as the odd-ball alien substitute; her whip-crack emotional transformations from ice cold to maniacal laughter to overflowing with faux compassion made the movie. Although nominally a horror flick, the only blood is courtesy of a slaughtered chicken or two.

Strange film about a nursing home worker (Mena Suvari) who accidentally hits a down-on-his-luck man (Stephen Rhea) with her car while driving home intoxicated from a party, resulting in the badly injured man being stuck in her windshield and leaving her to decide whether to turn herself in or wait until he succumbs to the injuries and then dispose of the body. Not quite what I was expecting; the original synopsisI read made it sound like the bulk of the film took place in the car where the man tried to talk her into saving him, which sounded like an interesting psychological film. Instead, we have her running around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to figure a way out of the mess while the man lies bleeding and battered back in her garage. I had a hard time getting into it at times just because none of the characters were all that likable, including the victim.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Are You Messing With Me?" ; A Tale of Cinna-Man and the Cola Wars

Last week Cap'n Shack-Fu and I headed down to Lewisville one night to have dinner with PigPen and Cap'n Peanut at Logan's Roadhouse, which is Shack-Fu's favorite steak place. As soon as our waiter took our drink orders, Shack asked him if he would mix up some cinnamon and butter together so Shack could have some cinna-butter for his rolls*. The waiter gave him an odd look and then headed off to the kitchen. When he came back, he just had a little cup of cinnamon and asked Shack-Fu if Shack wanted to mix it himself, or if he really wanted the waiter to do it. A patient Shack explained to him that usually when he requested it the waitress would put the butter and cinnamon in a bigger bowl and mix it all up until it was a nice, thick, cinnamony paste. The waiter gave him a serious look and asked "Are you messing with me?"

Now, normally, this question might not have been too surprising considering that this was basically a HyperForce 3000 gathering -- I give you our evening at On the Border as Exhibit A -- but for one reason or another none of us were feeling particularly HyperForcey, so the accusation of tomfoolery took Shack-Fu off guard; he quickly said no, he wasn't messing with the waiter, and that the wait staff had always been happy to do it for him before. "

Are you sure you're not thinking of Texas Roadhouse?" the guy asked next. No, Shack-Fu assured him, he wasn't -- not feeling it necessary to inform the waiter that at Texas Roadhouse you don't have to request them to mix stuff up for you, since they have it already ready to go -- and he asserted that if the waiter asked his co-workers they would confirm that such a thing had been done many times before. "I can do it if you don't want to," the always courteous Shack-Fu continued, "but if you wouldn't mind getting a bigger bowl and doing it for me, that would be great!"

The waiter finally grudgingly agreed to go back and mix some up**, and when he returned he was obviously still half-expecting some sort of "Gotcha!" from us; apparently he had gone ahead and asked all of his co-workers, and none of them had ever heard of such a thing, and they all warned the guy that he was being messed with***. "Are you sure it was this Logan's where they did it?" he asked Shack, obviously not realizing that questioning your customer isn't exactly the best way to earn a good tip.

But in retrospect that's not too surprising, since very little he did that evening showed that he knew how to earn a good tip -- and I'm not just saying that because the only time he brought me a refill it was filled with hated Dr. Pepper. Suppose I can't blame him too much, as he was probably just a little confused thanks to PigPen and I going through the same routine we go through every time we're at a restaurant together:

Me: I'd like a Coke, please
PigPen: Give him a Dr. Pepper!
Me: No! Coke!
PigPen: Yes! Dr. Pepper!

As of this date we have not gone so far as to devolve into fisticuffs in public due to such an exchange, but I occasionally think it's only a matter of time****.

Anyway, most of the time our little back-and-forth will initially catch the wait-staff off-guard, but they will quickly clue in to the fact that it's just The Lovable PigPen tormenting me as usual*****; however, this poor creature waiting on us that particular evening pretty much froze in his tracks like a deer in headlights at our banter. When he accidentally brought me a Dr. Pepper, I was not entirely surprised. Disgusted and offended, sure, but surprised, no.

But even beyond the drink mix-up and questioning of the validity of the cinna-butter request, our waiter's performance was sub-par; not quite Valentine's Day Meal Massacre bad, mind you, but, pretty pitiful nonetheless.

*As you may recall, one of Shack's other nick names is Cinna-Man, due to his love of the cinna-butter
**I think it was around this time that PigPen opined that Shack's persistence was earning us meals seasoned with our waiter's spit
***This struck Shack-Fu as odd, as he couldn't believe that nobody working there had ever had a request for fresh made cinna-butter before; he and I eventually decided that more than likely the poor waiter was indeed being messed with, but by the rest of his co-workers and not the Shack-man.
****Just a few days earlier I had narrowly avoided a Dr. Pepper sneak attack at lunch when the waitress came by to ask for drink orders while I was in the rest-room; luckily Trouble stepped in and saved me from the horror, much to PigPen's consternation.
*****For the record******, PigPen isn't alone in the cola torment; he can usually count on Shack-Fu, Li'l Random, and Mei-Mei joining in his cause. Luckily, I have allies as well in the form of Cap'ns Cluck and Peanut.
******Also for the record, trust me, if I could find some way to torment PigPen as easily he as he torments me, I would do so in a heartbeat. No innocent victim, I, just an inept attacker


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'd Also Settle For Any of the "Dwarf in a Red Raincoat" Clips

Back in February 07, I posted the following review:

Unconditional Love: Little known off-beat comedy about a recently separated housewife (Kathy Bates) whose love for a Tom Jones-esque singer (Jonathan Pryce) leads her and the singer's "valet" (Rupert Everett) on an adventure after the singer's death at the hands of The Crossbow Killer. I stumbled across this one while looking up Meredith Eaton (Bethany on Boston Legal) on IMDB. Thought it sounded kind of interesting, put it in my queue, and thought no more about it until it showed up at the house; I then let it sit on the coffee table for well over a week, not really in the mood for it. Finally, one day I decided to watch part of it during my lunch-break; PigPen came in about 20 minutes into it, and sort of rolled his eyes when I told him the title, but sat down to eat his lunch in front of the TV anyway. Then, when it was time for me to head back to the office, he practically snapped my head off when I pressed stop: "You can catch up later!" Long story short, we finished the movie as soon as we got home that night, took a brief break to recover our breath from having laughed so hard that we erupted into coughing fits, then watched certain scenes over and over again, and then two nights later forced Li'l Dill, Shack-Fu, and The Anti-Cap'n to watch it, and then added several pieces of dialogue from the film into the HyperForce 3003 lexicon. In other words, we liked it. So, if you hear me break into "Getting to Know You" after witnessing some reckless driving, or witness a chorus of HyperForce members chanting "normal*" anytime someone uses the word, or hear PigPen declare "Oh, bugger off," you know you can blame this movie, which I will undoubtedly be purchasing sometime soon so I can force it upon everyone I know. Consider yourself warned.

Well, here we are over a year and a half later, and someone has finally posted the origins of the "Getting to Know You" gag

As well as the inevitable mid-funeral call-back which also gave us "bugger off"

Now if someone would just post the "normal" clip I could rest easy.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TV Tues - Transcending the Situation

Afraid I fell behind on TV viewing last week, so quite a few shows won't be getting their proper review today; maybe next week.



Pushing Daisies
(ABC 7:00): It appears that the first episode of the season may have just been a brief misstep; I blame the ton of exposition which forced the rest of the plot to move at even faster speeds than normal, criminally wasting the talents of both Missi Pyle and Autumn Reeser. But I digress; while not as consistently laugh-out-loud funny as the circus ep had been, the nunnery themed episode was still a great time.


Survivor: Gabon (CBS 7:00): Well, the elephant sighting was nowhere near as traumatic as I'd hoped, nor was G.C.'s tardiness.

Grey's Anatomy (ABC 8:00): Think this may have been the first episode this season where I felt like all of the characters were actually acting like themselves. I am so happy that they've decided to make George likable again; he was always one of my favorite characters in the early days, but the last couple of seasons he kind of went off the rails. All of the scenes in the dermatology lounge were great as well.

Life on Mars (ABC 9:00): Well, luckily the beating Sam received at the hands of a bunch of uniforms was not as a result of them blaming him for the shooting, as I had originally feared, so that's something, anyway. Still, this much more volatile version of Sam keeps throwing me off; I'm also unsure of how I feel about the substitution of the Mars rover for the Test Card F Girl as Sam's recurring hallucination of choice, and not just because having a Mars rover pop up feels a little too on-the-nose -- no, I just really, really miss the creepy girl with the creepy clown. Yeah, the Test Card F Girl might not be the cultural icon here in the states that she is in the UK, but I made it through both series of the original without knowing who she was supposed to be, and I still enjoyed the heck out of it. The one positive change for the American version so far would have to be the introduction of Sam's spacey neighbor, a nice change that helps to distance this from the original without destroying its spirit.


UFC 89: Bisping vs. Leiben (Spike, 8:00): All in all, not the most exciting batch of fights; as Cap'n Peanut pointed out to me, it was strange to see so many matches stay almost completely on their feet, hardly any ground game at all. About the only fight that was really worth our while was the Chris Lytle/Paul Taylor match; those two came out swinging and never let up. Three rounds of non-stop action -- don't see that nearly enough.

MONDAY, Oct 20

Big Bang Theory (CBS 7:00) : Sheldon wins the rationalization of the week award for his reasoning behind quitting the driving lesson: "I'm not giving up -- I'm transcending the situation." Greatness. As was the scene with Sheldon screaming for his life on the back of Howard's scooter. Man, I love this show.

How I Met Your Mother (CBS 7:30): What?!?!? You mean Stella's not the mother? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you! Seriously, though, how telegraphed was the "Stella's going to hook up with her ex" thing? Some nice gags here and there (Barney and the whiteboard, everyone's reactions to no booze or meat at the wedding, alternate future timeline kids), but all in all, not their strongest ep.

Two and a Half Men (CBS 8:00): First of all, does anyone out there regularly sing Bringing in the Sheaves in church anymore? Secondly, that last shot of Alicia Witt seems to be setting the stage for her to become a Rose-substitute; I will only endorse such a move if it paves the way for Rose to return and take on her rival for the title of Charlie's Ultimate Stalker.



(Fox 8:00): The team tries to track down a Typhoid Mary-esque case.

Privileged (CW 8:00): The fall-out from Charlie's realization the Megan will never see him as anything other than a friend.

The Mentalist (CBS 8:00): A locked room mystery

The 2008 Scream Awards (Spike 8:00): Spike's annual award show for Horror, SF, Fantasy, and comics; I expect lots of posthumous awards for Heath Ledger's Joker.


Pushing Daisies
(ABC 7:00): Really looking forward to this one, which not only introduces David Arquette as a new recurring character, but also Emerson's mother, as played by the incomparable Debra Mooney, a.k.a. the no-nonsense nurse Edna from Everwood.

Private Practice (ABC 8:00)

Ultimate Fighter (Spike 9:00)


(CBS 7:00): Now that G.C. is gone, Ace is next on my "please vote off now!" list, but from the previews it looks like this week's ep might cement his place on the show for a while.

My Name is Earl (NBC 7:00)

Kath and Kim (NBC 7:30): Since I haven't watched last week's ep yet, I haven't made a final decision on whether to jettison this one or not

The Office (NBC 8:00): Michael and Holly go on a date; the geeky behavior should be at an all time high

Grey's Anatomy (ABC 8:00)

Life On Mars (ABC 9:00): This week the show takes its first giant step away from the original series by not mutating an existing plot, but making up its own: the murder of a Vietnam vet.


UFC 90:
May or may not get this, still up in the air; really want to see the Anderson Silva fight, and would love it if Thiago Alves kicked the crap out of Josh Koscheck, who is stepping in for an injured Diego Sanchez.

MONDAY, Oct 27

For some reason all the CBS sitcoms are re-runs this week

Chuck (NBC 7:00): Chuck gets called to task by the Buy More efficiency expert, as played by Tony "Buster on Arrested Development" Hale

Heroes (NBC 8:00): Return of Elle

My Own Worst Enemy (NBC 9:00)


Monday, October 20, 2008

Movie Mon. - This Blog Not Approved by the ASPCA

Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat: Tongue-in-cheek horror Western about a group of vampires who relocate to the remote ghost town of Purgatory and try to cultivate synthetic blood to curb their murderous impulses. A bit uneven, the film is at its best when it highlights the vampiric community, and at its most bland when it focuses on the human scientist who has been called in to help with the synthetic blood production and his family. Originally filmed in 1989, the movie is notable for a young, thin, and scenery-chewing Bruce Campbell as a Van Helsing. Worth a look for horror fans and Bruce fans, but don't expect too much.

Max Payne:
Lackluster video game adaptation about a loner cop who becomes implicated in the death of a woman who might be connected to the death of the cop's wife years earlier. Note to all those whose only familiarity with this is from the trailers and not the actual video game: this is not a supernatural film about the battle between Heaven and Hell as some of the early trailers made it out to be. Both Cap'n Shack-Fu and Li'l Random thought this was going to be a lot like Constantine, but it's not even close. Even taking the misleading trailers out of consideration, this just wasn't that good of a film. Most of the performances were fine -- I especially like Mila Kunis as a butt-kicking assassin, quite a departure from her days as spoiled princess Jackie on That 70s Show -- but the overall script was weak, and several of the action set-pieces asinine and pointless. Wishing now I'd stuck to my guns and not paid full price for it.

You Don't Mess With the Zohan:
Incredibly uneven Adam Sandler vehicle about a near-super-human Israeli counter-terrorist agent who becomes fed up with a life of constant battle and fakes his death so he can come to America and become a hair-dresser. On the whole I really only found it amusing when it focused on Zohan's outrageous physical prowess, such as the only scene in any of the trailers that made me laugh

or during the moments of more absurdist comedy, such as Zohan's arch-nemesis The Phantom's training regimen

or the variation on hackey-sack which had me rolling for several minutes

although I think "hackey cat" rolls off the tongue much better than "cat sack." But despite how much joy I got out of the brief moments of comedy*, the movie as a whole left me dissatisfied.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall:
Pretty entertaining comedy about a guy whose efforts to forget about his ex-girlfriend are thwarted when he accidentally winds up going on vacation to the same spot as her and her new boyfriend. Funny script and great performances made this one fun to watch, but it became an instant classic for me thanks to two little words: Dracula. Musical.

And then became a Super Tiger Dragon Edition instant classic at the end of the film when those two little words become three little words: Dracula. PUPPET. Musical. (WARNING: Clip contains major plot spoilers, especially early on; the really good -- and not quite as spoilery -- stuff starts at 1:40, and the moment that had me dying laughing for a good 5 minutes happens at around the 3:30 mark)

Yeah, I know the quality of the last clip is crappy -- and will probably be removed before too long -- but that's the best that's out there right now and I couldn't very well let all of October go by without posting some sort of horror-themed musical clip, now could I?

Street Kings:
Okay thriller about a cop whose attempt to rough up his former partner who he thinks is ratting him out to I.A. goes awry when his partner is gunned down before his eyes. Pretty predictable, not much here to set it apart from all the other cop dramas out there. Now there was one scene which Li'l Random and I found highly amusing, but sadly nobody else out there seems to have found Jay Mohr ripping apart a dvd player to get a disc rather than simply hitting the eject button nearly as YouTube-worthy as we did.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster:
Very interesting and entertaining documentary about steroid use as seen through the eyes of the director, a former power lifter whose siblings are both regular steroid users. Some thought-provoking stuff about the stigma against steroids and what some of the myths about them are. Plus, you get to see some freaks of nature, like the Belgian Blue bull with its genetic mutation that allows it to grow twice as much muscle as a normal bull

and Gregg Valentino, world record holder for Biggest Biceps; the really freaky shot comes at about the 1:02 mark

Yes, I know both of the last clips featured cruelty to animals heavily, but I gotta say, if laughing at people swallowing live baby chickens and playing hackey sack with a cat are wrong, I don't want to be right! Which reminds me of when my dad's cousin accused my mom and me of being sickos for thinking this Far Side strip was hilarious.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TV Tues - Intervention



(CW, 8:00): Don't know which bugged me more: Megan's over-the-top reaction to thinking that her sister stole something, or the fact that she was right and everyone (including her) now thinks she was wrong. I enjoy the show much more when it's her interacting with the girls and not her interacting with her family.


Pushing Daisies
(ABC 7:00): Remember how last week I said that I keep going back and forth on this show? Well, after what was, to me, a disappointing season premiere, the second episode of the season knocked it clear out of the park. Laughed out loud many, many times throughout the episode, especially the crashed clown car gag; disappointed in myself for not seeing it coming, but the execution would have carried it regardless.

Private Practice (ABC 8:00): This one is kind of circling the drain for me; how long can my love for Cooper and Violet make me overlook the fact that I don't really care for any of the other characters all that much?

Ultimate Fighter (Spike, 9:00): Wow. Just . . . wow. Dana gives Junie a second chance, and he pretty much blows it immediately. What a tool.


My Name is Earl
(NBC, 7:00): Not necessarily a big David Arquette fan in general, but thought he did a really good job in this one. Thought the extra junk in the trunk of his ex was a little over the top, and even thought it made me laugh when she first showed up, the sight gags that came after that kind of took me out of the show.

Kath and Kim (NBC, 7:30): No idea how well this captures the spirit of the original; all I know is that I may have laughed a total of twice in the entire episode, and spent the rest of the time wishing that the two main characters weren't no unlikable. Will probably give it another chance since I tend to just tape from 7 - 9 on NBC that night, but if there isn't a glimpse of more redeeming qualities in the leads in next week's episode, I'll probably just be fast-forwarding through it from now on.

Survivor: Gabon (CBS 7:00): Dagnabit! If they had waited one more week before switching up the tribes, most-annoying-cast-member G.C. would have been ousted; as it is, he's now suddenly in a majority in his tribe and will probably be around for a while. Curses!

The Office (NBC 8:00): Great episode, from Michale's tackle-hug of Jim at the beginning, to Holly and Michael's "Let's Get Ethical" dance, to Meredith's method of obtaining discounts and steak coupons to Jim's policing of Dwight's time thievery, which lead to the second best line of the episode: "Being this vigilant is exhausting. I may have to go home early." The best line of the episode? "Also, they're not your family. You've been cuckolded by a stronger, smarter male." Awesome, awesome, awesome.

Grey's Anatomy (ABC 8:00): The Chief bugged me this ep with his dismissal of Bailey's concerns; don't care how concerned he is about their standings, that's just stupid.

Life on Mars (ABC 9:00): I wound up watching the entirety of the BBC version before I tried out the American remake. The verdict? The BBC version is awesome to the awesometh power, and the American version is, well, very American, i.e. coarser and more violent. Which, considering how much Gene Hunt and crew liked to rough up their suspects in the British version is saying quite a bit, but I'm not just talking about fisticuffs; I'm talking about actions and attitude of the lead actor. The BBC Sam would have his explosions, true, but there was also an air or restraint around him; the American Sam, however, just radiates violent energy. Not exactly an improvement, in my opinion. My biggest question right now is this: will the American version have a variation of the Test Card F girl?

The Eleventh Hour (CBS 9:00): Oops, forgot to tape this. My bad.

MONDAY, Oct 13

Chuck (NBC 7:00): Taped, but have not yet watched.

Big Bang Theory (CBS 7:00) : Sheldon's attempts at a faux smile were definitely the highlight of the episode.

How I Met Your Mother (CBS 7:30): By far the best episode of the season yet; the multiple interventions gag was great, as was Barney's old man gimmick. Many, many laugh out loud moments this time around, which have sadly been a bit lacking in the earlier eps.

Heroes (NBC 8:00): Why oh why couldn't Maya have gone ahead and bumped off Mohinder? Or, better yet, why couldn't Vortex Guy have popped up and sent the two of them both swirling off into oblivion? I had started to have some suspicions early on in the episode about the real power behind the return of Linderman, and was surprised to have my suspicions confirmed by the end of it.

Two and a Half Men (CBS 8:00): Just a so-so episode, although Alan's request for a gun ("Nothing fancy, I'll only be using it the once") and his girly screams at the end were fun.

My Own Worst Enemy (NBC 9:00): Interesting premise, but time will tell how well it can hold my interest.



The Mentalist (CBS, 8:00): This could be the make-or-break episode on whether the smugness of the main character veers more into charming or annoying.

Fringe (Fox, 8:00)


Pushing Daisies
(ABC 7:00): Murder at the nunnery

Ultimate Fighter (Spike, 9:00): We get to see how badly Junie shoots himself in the foot.


My Name is Earl
(NBC, 7:00): Earl takes Randy to cheerleading camp so that Randy's cheerleading dreams can come true; who can resist a plot like that?

Kath and Kim (NBC, 7:30)

Survivor: Gabon (CBS 7:00): Elephants attack the camp, and G.C. disappears right before a challenge; drama!

The Office (NBC 8:00): Michael has Dwight research birthing information to prepare for Jan's upcoming delivery; joy!

Grey's Anatomy (ABC 8:00)

Life on Mars (ABC 9:00): From the ads it looks like this episode co-opts the plot of the second episode of the British version, wherein Sam's "modern" policing leads to a tragedy that further ostracizes him from the other police. Of course, in the BBC version such ostracism was merely social, while in the ads for the American version it looks like Sam is getting the crap kicked out of him by a bunch of uniformed cops . . . yikes. Seriously, I want to give this show the benefit of the doubt, but right now the shadow of the British version is hard to shake


UFC 89: Bisping vs. Leiben (Spike, 8:00): One of the rare times when a numbered UFC event is shown for free on cable and not via pay-per-view; this is due to the fight taking place in London, where it is pay-per-view. Some of the guys may be coming over to my place to watch this, or they may hold off until the next Saturday when UFC 90 takes place; all depends on which one fits their schedules better

MONDAY, Oct 20

Chuck (NBC 7:00): The gang goes to Sarah's high-school reunion on assignment.

Big Bang Theory (CBS 7:00) : Too bad they couldn't have aired this one last week; it's theme of the group holding an intervention for Sheldon over his fear of driving would have fit in well with last week's HIMYM

How I Met Your Mother (CBS 7:30): Stella and Ted must contend with exes

Heroes (NBC 8:00)

Two and a Half Men (CBS 8:00): Alicia Witt guest-stars as a former teacher of Jake turned stripper after a fling with Charlie; I wonder if this is the same teacher Jake mentioned in the previous episode? Anyway, if Witt-fan Bubblegum Tate still had cable, he'd be tuning in for sure.

My Own Worst Enemy (NBC 9:00)


Monday, October 13, 2008

Movie Mon - I Wish "The Happening" Hadn't . . . Happened, That Is

Very light movie watching week, due to me spending most of my free time watching the BBC version of Life on Mars.

The Happening
: Total misfire from M. Night Shyamalan about a wave of mysterious suicides that are originally thought to be part of a terrorist attack, but which turn out to be something more mysterious. I want to start off by saying I have been a pretty big fan of Shymalan's work in the past; I loved Sixth Sense, Signs, and Unbreakable, found a lot to like in Lady in the Water, and at least appreciated the cinematography of The Village if not the predictable plot. In fact, a lot of my appreciation for his work has been tied up with his visual style; no one's ever going to accuse him of being an actor's director, and his plotting and dialogue have been hit or miss, but at least his work was visually engaging But with The Happening it's like all of his weaknesses were magnified, and all of his strengths had totally deserted him. I've seen people who took him to task for the reveal of what was causing the suicides, but that's something I didn't have a problem with. What I did have a problem with was the fact that the film featured several actors I usually enjoy watching and somehow stripped them of any likability or evidence of acting talent; not quite the horrible woodenness of the Star Wars prequels, but more of an overly cheesy and histrionic style that took me right out of things. Add onto that clunky dialogue and poor character decisions, and the fact that the film doesn't feature much in the way of visual techniques to separate it from the usual mass produced Hollywood dreck, and you have one big fat disappointment. Now, I will say that there were a couple of nice images based around the suicides, but on the whole, not really enough for me to be able to recommend the film to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Jack Brooks, Monster Slayer: Low budget B-movie about a guy with massive anger management issues due to his witnessing his family being slain by a werewolf at a young age, who later finds his calling in life when his night class chemistry professor (played exceedingly well by Robert "Freddie Krueger" Englund) is possessed by a demon that decides to turn the class into his own personal buffet. Kind of an innocuous film; nice effects, workmanlike script, acceptable if not exceptional acting jobs from all but the veteran Englund. By the end of the movie, I was not particularly overjoyed to have seen it, but then neither was sorry I had watched it. All in all, not a bad way to pass an hour and a half, but only if you happen to catch it on cable.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

TV Tues - Remakes On Parade



Pushing Daisies
(ABC 7:00): I still go back and forth on this show; there are moments when I love it, and moments when it just doesn't quite do it for me; the season premiere was, unfortunately, one of the latter.

Private Practice (ABC 8:00): If anyone out there was actually using my blog as a guide for what to watch when, I apologize for forgetting to mention the return of this spin-off, but there's a good reason for that; I didn't even realize that it was on, and only wound up seeing it because I let the VCR run while taping Pushing Daisies. There were quite a few character moments that I liked, but the overall sturm-und-drang of the "we're going broke!" storyline wore on me.

Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir (Spike, 9:00): The saran wrap prank was nice; I can get behind pranks that inconvenience folks but don't actually involve destruction of property or bodily fluids. Kind of sad that the huggy guy didn't get on Mir's team, although I think Nogueira's attitude is much less likely to crush the guy's soul, so I guess it all worked out for the best.


My Name Is Earl (NBC 7:00, 7:30): Two great eps. Joy continues to be one of my favorite characters; all must fear the tiny pink Hulk! And Randy's shifting personalities with the hats was great, especially his attempts to sound sophisticated and British. And how can I not mention Joy being up to her elbows in Pigsquatch? Like I said last week, the show is definitely back on track.

Survivor: Gabon (CBS 7:00): The one thing that will occasionally frustrate me about Survivor is how the outcome of the immunity challenge will often be telegraphed by the editing leading up to the challenge; when most of the show is devoted to all of the bickering, maneuvering, and in-fighting in one tribe, you can pretty much guess that that's the tribe that's going to tribal council. A small complaint, on the whole, but it does remove a bit of the dramatic tension while watching the challenge.


EliteXC: Heat (CBS 8:00): Think I've covered this one pretty extensively


Chuck (NBC 7:00): While I like the cloak and dagger aspects of the show, I tend to enjoy it the most at the moments when it focuses on the supporting cast; anytime the spotlight shines on Morgan, Anna, and/or Captain Awesome, it's going to be a good episode in my book.

Big Bang Theory (CBS 7:00) : Not sure which made me laugh more: Sheldon's attempts to comfort Penny ("There there"), Sheldon inadvertently making a date for himself, or the moment Penny realized she really had a problem. Although I gotta say, they're going to have to work a lot harder than that to make her appear unattractive.

How I Met Your Mother (CBS 7:30): Barney's commitment to the knuckle bump -- priceless.

Heroes (NBC 8:00): Hopefully that exchange between Hiro and Ando will settle the whole distrust issue, which has been painful to watch; also hopefully as Peter tries to change the future, one of the things that will change is the fact that Mohinder survives that long. Seriously, I keep hoping the next catchphrase will be "Kill the horribly self-righteous yet unbearably hypocritical whiny scientist, save the world."

Two and a Half Men (CBS 8:00): Drunk Jake didn't quite live up to its potential, but Tasered Allan made up for it.



(CW, 8:00): No Fringe or Mentalist this week, thanks to the debates, so it looks like this piece of escapism is my only option for escape from the dreary realities of an election year. Tonight's episode promises romantic hijinks aplenty.


Pushing Daisies
(ABC 7:00): Murder at the circus; expect lots of clown-fear jokes.

Private Practice (ABC 8:00)

Ultimate Fighter (Spike, 9:00): Once again, some knucklehead is going to blow the opportunity of a life-time thanks to out of control behavior while drinking; will they never learn?

South Park (Comedy Central 9:00): It's baaaaaaaaaaaaaack


My Name is Earl
(NBC, 7:00): David Arquette guests as the latest person on Earl's list, while Joy buys a hand-gun; guess which of the two storylines I'm more interested in.

Kath and Kim (NBC, 7:30): New sitcom starring Selma Blair as a woman recently separated from her husband who is forced to move back in with her mom (Molly Shannon). Based on a popular Australian sitcom, I figure it's worth a shot.

Survivor: Gabon (CBS 7:00)

The Office (NBC 8:00): Michael + business ethics seminar = free-for-all

Grey's Anatomy (ABC 8:00): Derek moves in and tries to get Meredith to move everyone else out.

Life on Mars (ABC 9:00): The second American remake of a popular foreign series premiering tonight, this time a drama about a modern day cop who gets hit by a car and wakes up to find himself suddenly living life as a cop in the early 70s. I have unfortunately never had the privilege of seeing the much-lauded BBC original, but am definitely looking forward to sampling the remake with its off-beat premise.

The Eleventh Hour (CBS 9:00): The third and final American remake premiering tonight, this adaptation of the short-lived BBC follows a consultant to the FBI (Rufus Sewell) who is called in to deal with crimes based on abuses of science. I'm not totally sold on this one, if for no other reason than something in the creators' pledge that it will deal with "real science, not science fiction" smacks of "ripped from today's headlines!" style panic-pandering to me; plus, Rufus Sewell is just flat out creepy.

MONDAY, Oct 13

Chuck (NBC 7:00): The return of Bryce Larkin.

Big Bang Theory (CBS 7:00) : Raj makes a play for Penny? Is it a dream? A hoax? An imaginary story?

How I Met Your Mother (CBS 7:30): An engagement intervention.

Heroes (NBC 8:00)

Two and a Half Men (CBS 8:00): Charlie's romantic life causes difficulties for Alan; better known as "the same ol' same ol'." And yet, I'm still watching, so they've got to be doing something right. Right?

My Own Worst Enemy (NBC 9:00): Series premiere of the new action series starring Christian Slater as a secret agent whose cover identity is actually a totally new personality, and what happens when the walls between the two personalities begin to break down. Intriguing enough concept; curious to see how well it plays out.


Monday, October 06, 2008

I Think "Elite" May Be a Misnomer .. .

I spent most of Saturday night splitting my time between trying to follow the OSU/A&M game online -- a necessity since out of the six Big 12 games being played that day, that was the only one not televised -- and watching CBS's broadcast of EliteXC: Heat.*

As much as I love watching MMA bouts in the UFC and WEC, I always feel a little sullied after sitting through any EliteXC programming. The quality of the fighters is, on the whole, inferior to those you'll find in the other organizations; the presence of scantily clad female dancers surrounded by pyrotechnics smacks more of WWE pandering than anything else; the refs tend to stop the fights the first time a fighter is even slightly dazed instead of giving them a chance to recover; and the announcers, oh my word, the horrible, horrible announcers, who seem determined to make sure that you know without a doubt that the fight you are watching is, indeed, one of the greatest fights in the history of all mankind, and, in fact, all of the world will soon be talking about the astounding things that have just happened in the octagon, for never in all of space and time has there been a battle such as this, and so on and so forth. Heck, even the refs get pulled into the hype game, not just doing the usual "I've explained the rules, obey my directions at all times, touch gloves and begin" spiel but padding it out with an additional "Okay, now let's go out there and show all of CBS's viewers just what the world of MMA is all about and let them see what a gosh-darn awesome sport this is" bit of patter thrown into the mix.


Honestly, the only things keeping me watching EliteXC events are (a) unlike UFC and WEC they have women fighters, most notably Gina "Conviction" Carano, better known to most people as Crush on American Gladiators** and (b) the Kimbo Slice/morbid curiosity factor.

For those who don't know, Kimbo Slice became a huge Internet phenomenon with YouTube videos of his backyard brawls, as he traveled around the country to fight anyone anywhere; now, he's made the move to MMA, and has brought his built-in audience with him, a built-in audience that EliteXC has been feverishly marketing to. However, being able to kick butt in a backyard slugfest and being able to kick butt in MMA are totally different things, and despite all of the hype that's been built up around him, from his first couple of fights it became pretty obvious that anyone with a good chin and even a decent ground game could take him out of a fight pretty easily. And yet, even with some pretty lackluster and sloppy fights under his belt, the Kimbo/EliteXC press machine continued to build him up as some sort of instant superstar, and I've been watching mainly to see how long before it all came crashing down around him.

I thought Saturday night might be the night, since Kimbo was going up against veteran MMA figure Ken Shamrock; sure, at 44 years old Shamrock isn't exactly in the prime of his career, and following a pretty definitive beat-down by Tito Ortiz in 2006 that marked the end of his tenure in the UFC he's only had one fight, which ended in him getting knocked out in the first round, but as a man who once held and successfully defended the UFC Superfight Championship belt, there was a even chance that Shamrock's experience in the octagon might turn the tide. However, Shamrock had to have stitches for a cut on his head -- supposedly obtained from a head-butt during warm-ups a few hours before the fight, although the Internet conspiracy theories are legion already -- and the EliteXC folks scrambled to figure out what to do now that there was a possibility their most recognizable cash cow might not be able to perform. They quickly got one of the under-card fighters -- Seth Petruzelli, a cast member of Ultimate Fighter second season -- lined up as a replacement and, after a bit of negotiating, got Kimbo to agree to the fight . . . a fight that lasted a total of 14 seconds and, according to the announcers, was one of the most shocking and unbelievable upsets in the history of all athletics, a moment which would catapult Petruzelli to super-stardom and make him a household name.


Now, for me, the surprising thing wasn't that Slice lost; like I said, I've been expecting him to collapse under the weight of his own hype at any time. No, the surprising thing was that he lost not by submission or ground-and-pound, but from a TKO.

Of course, the EliteXC folks are already doing damage control; their VP Jared Shaw has made comments suggesting that Kimbo was only dazed because of an illegal blow to the back of the head and that he was not given an appropriate amount of time to recover before the ref stopped the fight, although he's also quick to say that he doesn't want to second-guess the ref . . . even as he's, y'know, second-guessing him . . .

Sadly, despite many articles and posts having been written about the fight over the last couple of days, most of them are focusing on whether Kimbo made the right move accepting the fight and whether Shamrock's injury was shady or not, but don't seem to mention what was, for me, the most interesting moment of the evening; a dazed Kimbo apparently mistakes the ref for his opponent, shoots on him and drives him into the cage. We barely catch a glimpse of it, as all the cameras are busy following the giddy Petruzelli making his victory lap around the octagon, but I think if anything argues for supporting the ref's judgment that Kimbo wasn't quite all there at the moment, that might be it.

Or maybe he was just ticked, that instead of losing to an over-the-hill UFC washout, he lost to a relatively young UFC washout . . .

Cap'n Peanut was disgusted that he even wasted time watching the fight, but I tried to look on the bright-side: at least we didn't have to pay to see it.

*This was originally going to be part of tomorrow's TV Tuesday post, but it kinda took on a life of its own . . .
**And known to The Lovable PigPen as "My Baby" -- as in "My Baby kicked butt in last night's fight!"


Movie Mon. - Your Mileage May Vary

Eagle Eye: Thriller about a slacker (Shia LaBeouf) and a single mom (Michelle Monaghan) who are coerced into helping a mysterious figure who is practically omniscient thanks to a mastery of electronics. Enjoyable enough as long as you don't think too hard about the plot holes; luckily the movie moves along at a fast enough speed to make shutting your brain off and enjoying the ride fairly easy. Liked it, although I didn't really care for the cop-out ending.

Student Bodies:
Early 80s horror movie spoof that I saw countless times as an adolescent thanks to it playing ad nauseum on It, the only pay cable channel that ever made it all the way out to our farm in Wyandotte; I recently learned that it had just been released on DVD not too long ago and was curious to see how it held up to the span of years since I last saw it approximately 25 years ago. The answer? Some parts kinda, others not so much; can definitely tell you that there were several bits I got this time around that were totally lost on 8 year old me.

Horror film about a group of sociopathic med students who play a "game" where they murder people and challenge the others to figure out the cause of death. Really didn't like this one at all; couldn't really stand any of the characters who were all too horribly obnoxious for my tastes.

Set in the 1920s, this romantic comedy follows the misadventures of "Dodge" Connelly (George Clooney, who also directed), a professional football player during the time when professional football was a joke, and how he tries to save the sport he loves by recruiting Carter "Bullet" Rutherford (John Krasinski), a war hero college footballer to his team, a move that's complicated by the presence of Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger), a female reporter who has been sent to dig up dirt on Rutherford and who, naturally, is wooed by both men. As a paean to screwball comedies, this film is at times frustrating as the rapid-fire dialogue that typified the genre is all too rare in the script, and even then it falls short of the mark set by such classics as The Philadelphia Story. However, while it might not quite be able to recreate the magic of the older films, the movie managed to create a charm of its own for me. I do wish that they had managed to develop Krasinski's character a bit more; while not quite a cipher, he was more of a plot device than a full fledged character. Still, every time Clooney and Zellweger were engaged in their verbal sparring, I was totally sucked in. All in all, one I would recommend.

Run, Fatboy, Run:
Touching comedy about a inveterate slacker who, years after leaving his pregnant girlfriend at the altar, tries to redeem himself by competing in a marathon to prove that he can get his life together. This Simon Pegg vehicle is a bit of a departure from his collaborations with Edgar Wright, and not just because Nick Frost isn't along for the ride; a bit more slapstick, a lot less pop culture references, and a much more earnest tone. Now, while I would never suggest that this film could compare to the comedic masterpieces that were Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, I will say that managed to make me both laugh quite often and tear up a couple of times. Outside of the always enjoyable Pegg, the best moments of the film had to come from Dylan Moran of Black Books infamy as his best friend. Liked this one a lot.

Chapter 27:
Drama that follows Mark David Chapman through the three days leading up to his assassination of John Lennon; the title comes from the fact that at the height of his psychotic delusions Chapman thought he was turning into Holden Caulfield, the lead character in The Catcher in the Rye, a novel that had a total of 26 chapters. The film is probably most notable for the fact that star Jared Leto, the former teen heart-throb from My So-Called Life, gained 67 pounds to play Chapman; less notable to others, but definitely notable to me, was that Judah Friedlander shows up in the film minus his trademark glasses and trucker hat. An okay film that managed to hold my interest, but just barely.

Supernatural film from Hong Kong that is billed as a horror film about a writer who is terrorized by strange occurrences straight out of the new book she is writing, but which feels much closer to one of Neil Gaiman's dark fantasy stories like MirrorMask than out-and-out horror as the writer finds herself trapped in a dimension that houses all discarded things, be they characters or toys or, in the film's most horrific sequence, aborted fetuses. Slow moving int he beginning, and a kind of pointless ending, but from the moment the protagonist gets sucked into the other world, it's the visuals which rule the film; you can get a pretty good sense of them from this trailer.

Felt like there was some wasted potential here, but the other world created by the Pang Brothers did make the film worth my while.

The Foot Fist Way: Low budget comedy starring Danny McBride (best known for his supporting roles in Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder) as an arrogant, oblivious Taekwondo instructor who finds himself hurtling out of control after he finds out his wife cheated on him. This film has already developed a bit of a cult following, but I'm afraid it just didn't do it for me; yeah, there are some pretty funny moments here and there, but overall, just didn't gel for me. Think a big problem was that McBride's character was incredibly unsympathetic for the bulk of the film; I have a hard time enjoying films with such blatantly unsympathetic characters as the main focus -- your mileage may vary.

Mildly entertaining film about a man who goes on a vigilante rampage against what he sees as the scourge of modern civilization: car alarms and other noise pollutants. The opening ten minutes or so showed great inventiveness and potential, but after that it devolved into just an ordinary film; couple of flashes of interest here and there

but all in all, the opening sequence drew me in so well that everything after it felt like a let down. Again, your mileage may vary.

Burn After Reading: Coen Brothers film that's probably closest to Fargo in its dark and twisty sensibilities; the plot follows a disgruntled CIA agent (John Malkovich) whose memoirs are found by a couple of gym employees (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt) who are convinced they've stumbled across some top secret stuff -- mayhem ensues. I know a lot of people let down by this one for some reason, but I liked it a lot. And Brad Pitt is freakin' hilarious throughout as the dim-witted physical trainer. Now, here's some really vague and ambiguous comments that are designed to be spoiler free while still allowing me to discuss something that really struck me in the film: There's at least one scene in the movie that reminded me of a very similar scene in a move from the early 90s that had generated a huge debate in my film criticism class about whether the scene was funny or not, and why or why not. And, much like with that earlier film, the scene in question had me rolling; also, much like with the earlier film, I'm sure there are scores of people who would have looked at me with confusion in their eyes as to why I found something like that so hilarious. Is it any wonder that I saw this one with Li'l Random?


Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Pros and Cons of Emotional Exhaustion

So, after two weeks of Monday through Friday blogging, I wind up with a week of Tuesday-only blogging. What's up with that, you might be asking, especially those who went rappelling last weekend and were eagerly awaiting my blog post; interestingly enough, therein lies part of the problem.

Last weekend Cap'n Shack-Fu was granted a brief reprieve from deployment thanks to jury duty and doctors' appointments; since there was no telling how long it might be before he gets sent out again, he and PigPen planned a quick rappelling trip on Sunday. Throughout the day, I lost count of how many times I was told "Ooo, that's got to go in the blog!" or "That needs to be the blog title!" or "Boy, you should start carrying a notebook around with you so you don't forget any of this, it's gold!" etc. Now, while on the one hand it's nice that the group was so interested in seeing my take on things, at the same time the constant reference to how much they were looking forward to reading said blog did what such a statement of high expectations always does to me: it made me freeze up in fear that nothing I wrote would measure up.

"But hold on," you might be saying, "that only explains why you didn't post about the rappelling trip; what about Movie Monday? Or Fragmented Friday? Or any other day?" Well, like I said, the rappelling trip was only part of the problem. The rest of the problem is, well, complicated.

You see, despite having a lot of fun at times this weekend, there was a lot of other, less happy-go-lucky stuff going on at the same time, stuff that was affecting people I care about, stuff that was activating my high Blue tendencies and making me switch into overly-empathetic mode and putting the weight of worrying about everyone else's problem on my shoulders . . . in other words, stuff that I can't really talk about in any detail. Yes, I know it stinks when I only talk in generalities, but honestly the situations that were going on around me had next to nothing to do with me, other than me being kind of caught up in it all as the guy that people feel comfortable talking to, so I can't in good conscience go into any detail whatsoever. Suffice it to say that by the time Monday rolled around I was mentally and emotionally exhausted, especially as some of the emotional fallout from the weekend drifted over into the next several days, and was unable to summon the willpower to write about much of anything.

Now, I went back and forth on whether to even mention the emotionally exhausting portion of the weekend, since in the past when I have remarked on this sort of thing people's reactions have been to say "Well, I won't burden you with my problems anymore because I don't want you to get so stress out." Which is not in any way shape or form what I want. I mean, I have to admit I like being the guy people trust enough to talk to about what's going on in their lives; I like the fact that people know that if they ask me to keep something to myself, I will; I like being able to be there for my friends and offer my empathy and sympathy and advice, even if no one ever, ever takes said advice, ever. Ever. There are times that I learn things that I really don't want to know, but even in those cases I often think it's better than the alternative for me. Honestly, it would probably do me more mental damage if people stopped confiding stuff in me, because I'd most likely slip into neurotic what-have-I-done-to-lose-their-trust mode. That's right, I'm going to find a way to be emotionally exhausted and a mental basketcase with or without y'all's help; at least if it's from being the confidant and secret-keeper, it will come from a place of feeling trusted, wanted and needed.

Yes, I am a horribly needy bastage, but we all knew that already, right?

In all seriousness, last weekend was a case where there were multiple things going on all weekend long, and I was busy trying to process one problem while another one sneaked up behind me and whacked me upside the head with a psychic two-by-four; individually I probably could have handled any one of the situations okay, but taken all at once . . . I will say that, while I was in the middle of it all, there was a large part of me asking "Why me?" But, once the dust has settled, I can look back and realize that the only thing I would really change would not be being in the middle of it all, but instead how I dealt with being in the middle; if I could have said this instead of that, done that instead of this, found a better way to help my friends in need -- that's what I would change. Everything else pales next to that.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

TV Tues - Return of the Zeljko Ivanek Effect, Featuring Zeljko Ivanek



(Fox, 8:00) Three episodes in, and the show keeps getting better; a good sign.

Privileged (CW, 8:00) A slight improvement over the weak second ep, but still not quite up to the quality of the pilot. Still an enjoyable show, don't get me wrong, but there's just something missing.

The Mentalist (CBS, 8:00) : I've mentioned a few times before my "Zeljko Ivanek Effect" theory, wherein I find it easy to predict the culprit on a procedural due to casting; sure enough, when the credits of the series premiere of The Mentalist featured the eponymous Zeljko, I knew who would be going off in handcuffs by the end*. Didn't detract at all from my enjoyment of the epsiode, however; liked this show a lot.


Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir (Spike, 9:00): I kinda hope the huggy guy gets on Mir's team, just to see how that plays out.


My Name Is Earl (NBC 7:00, 7:30): Loved Seth Green's large array of hand signals for awesomeness; the show feels like it's back on track after its meandering third season.

Survivor: Gabon (CBS 7:00, 2 hours): Well, they got rid of the most annoying person on the show right off the bat, which is nice; here's hoping the rest of the annoying people go next. But, as this is Survivor, there's no way in the world I'll be that lucky.

The Office (NBC 8:00, 1 hour): I really like Holly; hope she's around for a while, it's nice to see someone who could be conceivably compatible with Michael and yet still be likable.

Grey's Anatomy (ABC, 8:00, 2 hours): Glad the Rose sub-plot got finished off right quick and in a hurry, and it was fun seeing the former Journeyman star staple his own wound closed. Pretty promising start to the season, although I hate that the Alex/Izzy friendship is back in the gutter.

MONDAY, Sept 29

Chuck (NBC 7:00): Love Casey, love Anna, love Morgan, love Captain Awesome, love pretty much everything about this show, so glad it's back with a full-season order.

Big Bang Theory (CBS 7:00) : I'm going to have to start coming up with new ways to say "Sheldon is one of the greatest characters of all time," because, y'know, he is, but me saying that every week is going to get old. I do like that his interaction with Penny has evolved. And Sara Gilbert cracks me up.

How I Met Your Mother (CBS 7:30): The various descriptions of how much each person loved their burgers were the highlights of the episode for sure.

Heroes (NBC 8:00): Despite some moments which had me stretching my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point in terms of character motivations, I found myself enjoying this episode quite a bit more than the two hour premiere and couldn't really put my finger on why -- not, that is, until I saw the ad for next week's show which will feature Mohinder prominently and I realized that this one had been a Mohinder-and-Maya free show; explains a lot. Oh, and that opening bit with Mama Petrelli's "gift" to Sylar: awesomely frightening. Remind me not to get on her bad side.

Two and a Half Men (CBS 8:00): Felt like a bit of a "been there done that" plotline, but the scenes with Herb made it worth watching.


Fringe (Fox, 8:00) The opening sequence which introduced The Observer: golden. Some hits and misses along the way in the rest of the episode, but I'm still on board. Was also glad that they finally had a case which didn't directly tie into Global Dynamics.

Privileged (CW, 8:00) Have the wide-eyed and more naive sister being the more sexually experienced was a nice touch.

The Mentalist (CBS, 8:00) : So far Simon Baker has been able to walk the fine line between cocky-entertaining and cocky-obnoxious; hopefully he'll be able to keep that up as the series progresses, but I can see how his smug behavior could wear on me after a while . . . as could Robin Tunney always doubting his hunches and conclusions, even though he always turns out to be right.



Pushing Daisies
(ABC 7:00): I've read quite a bit about some of the plans for this season, and am eagerly looking forward to them; there's even supposed to be a semi-Wonderfalls cross-over at some point. Man, do I miss Wonderfalls.

Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir (Spike, 9:00): Now that the fighters are moving into the house, we expect the real drama to begin.


My Name Is Earl (NBC 7:00, 7:30): Another hour's worth of Earl, but not Office this week thank's to the V.P. debates.

Survivor: Gabon (CBS 7:00, 2 hours):


Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles
(Fox 7:00) Yes, I'm behind on this again, but yes, I'm still watching it and enjoying the heck out of it.

Chuck (NBC 7:00): John Larroquete as a spy come to train Chuck in the ways of seduction so that he can make the move on Melinda Clarke, a.k.a. The O.C.'s Julie Cooper.

Big Bang Theory (CBS 7:00) : Penny becomes obsessed with online gaming; a sure recipe for fun.

How I Met Your Mother (CBS 7:30): Oh, look, Ted's fiance and possible titular character will be showing up again; how nice.

Heroes (NBC 8:00): A trip to yet another alternate future, although this one looks like it might be more Kingdom Come or Earth X than Days of Future Past. Not that Heroes has ever cribbed anything from popular comic book story arcs before . . .

Two and a Half Men (CBS 8:00): Jake + alcohol = comedy gold? We'll see.

*Honestly, every time I see his name in credits I cry out "Zeljko!" in delight. But that's mainly just because I like to say "Zeljko!" C'mon, try it, it's fun. "Zeljko!"