Thursday, April 28, 2005

Confessions of a Ticketbox Gopher

"Life ... is like a box of chocolates. A cheap, thoughtless, perfunctory gift that nobody ever asks for. Unreturnable, because all you get back is another box of chocolates. You're stuck with this undefinable whipped-mint crap that you mindlessly wolf down when there's nothing else left to eat. Sure, once in a while, there's a peanut butter cup, or an English toffee. But they're gone too fast, the taste is fleeting. So you end up with nothing but broken bits, filled with hardened jelly and teeth-crunching nuts, and if you're desperate enough to eat those, all you've got left is a ... is an empty box ... filled with useless, brown paper wrappers." -- The Cigarette Smoking Man

Damn B, I was watching the classic CSM-centered X-Files ep today for a few minutes when I got home and was re-blown away by how freakin' good that episode and that show is. What show today would have the creativity, the wit, the sheer intelligence to provide quotes like the one above? None I tell you, none. Man I really miss The X-Files.

I am SOOOOO tired right now. Working at Ticketbox all day is absolutely draining. Just legions of people who are angry, upset, impatient, or just plain STUPID. Seriously, I wish I filmed them all with a video camera. Okay, people, you are GOING TO A TV SHOW. It is supposed to be FUN. Why is everyone in such a bad mood when they come to our office? This Southern family that came today was so upset that the 2 pm studio tour was sold out that they were throwing this huge group tantrum in the office, but the hilarious part was they were, no kidding, yelling stuff like "Dagnabbit!" and "By gum!" People actually say that? And EVERYONE wants the rules bent for them. It SAYS no photos on the wall and on all tickets. So why is some idiot pointing a camera at me and taking pictures ... JUST AS I'M TELLING HIM TO PUT HIS CAMERA AWAY? That'll be a good one for the scrapbook. Doing ticketbox you say the same thing over and over. You have to be 16 to go to the Tonight Show, you must have photo ID, get there early, it's not a guaranteed ticket, no I can't put you in the front row, please refer to the sign RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU for the answers to all ten questions you just asked. I swear to God, during the time in which people are coming in to check in with the guest list for Leno, there is a very large sign right in front of me stating very clearly that check in will not be until 3:15 pm. And YET, a good 65 percent of everyone coming in fails to notice or care what the sign says and approaches me to check in. Good times. Good times indeed.

And then they want to buy stuff. But they can't just buy stuff. They change their minds every five seconds, ask a million questions about each item, and ask repeatedly if we have T-shirts for this are that show, as if we would magically have them in a back room somewhere and not display them if we did. And this is just super for me who has little cash register jockeying experience.

So from 7:30 am to 5 pm, it's nonstop madness. The sheer stupidity, rudeness, and obnoxiousness that one has to deal with during that time is absolutely unbelievable. This one New Yawkish family, as so many others inexplicably do, was just lingering around the store for no particular reason, poking at every item and asking me about 10 billion questions for no particular reason, most of them not actually questions but mean-spirited statements. "You mean there's nothing else to do around here?" "So you don't really see anything that interesting on the tour?" and the kicker: "You know, you'd think that you guys would try to keep this place looking a bit more presentable. I mean I expected more. And it's very mildewy in here ..." Oh my god, leave, now, thinks I.

Now I foreget if I have ever documented this before, if I have then I apologize for repeating myself, but this phone call to NBC's ticket office was so absurd that while I'm talking about absurdity it bears (possibly repeated) mention. Here is an approximate transcript:

WOMAN: Hi, do you guys have any of those things ...?
ME: You mean tours?
WOMAN: No, not tours. Like, where they have studios and TV shows?
ME: Well we are NBC Studios, we do shoot TV shows here like The Tonight Show.
WOMAN: No, not like that. Like, where people can actually go to them.
ME: Well you can go to the Tonight Show ...
WOMAN: No I mean like kind of interactive ... like multimedia ...
ME: Okay I'm not sure what you mean ...
WOMAN: You know ...
ME: Sorry I really don't.
WOMAN: Well see I'm at Universal Studios. Don't you guys have those same things they have there?
ME: You mean RIDES?
WOMAN: Yeah, rides!
ME: No we're not a theme park, just a studio.
WOMAN: Well I'm on this thing now, it's called, um, Terminator 3-D. Don't you have that kind of thing?
ME: No, we are a studio wehre we make TV shows. We're not like Disneyworld.
WOMAN: Oh, you're not?
ME: No.
WOMAN: Well what other studios have rides?
ME: None! Universal Studios is a THEME PARK, like Disneyland. It's a totally different thing.
WOMAN: But they make movies here. I saw them.
ME: Yeah, but they are also a separate theme park. They are the only ones who do that. There's no NBC-Land, or Paramount-Land, or Warner-Brothers Land.
WOMAN: There's not?
ME: Nope, sorry.
WOMAN: Well that's too bad.

THIS CONVERSATION REALLY HAPPENED, PEOPLE! Holy lord I wanted to bang my head against a wall just typing that.

So yeah, ticket box and the people who come to it are not my favorite thing to do at NBC.



Finally - a classic game - and whatta game it was. Heats-Nets, Double OT, Vince Carter with some big shots (Half Man, Half Amazing) but it wasn't enought to overcome Batman Robin and Alfred (okay Alfred had kind of a crappy game). But Dwayne Wade might be the best player in the NBA, and the Heat are (excuse the pun) on fire.

Reggie Miller has another out of body experience. 30+ points, again, and the Pacers whup the Celtics. Some fists flew between A. Walker and J. O'Neal, if any suspensions occur it could be huge.

Dallas comes back and beats houston, and it's now 2 to 1. Dallas could come back and win if T Mac and especially Yao don't step it up a notch.


Crappy plot (amnesia!), but some nice acting and character moments save yesterday's ep from sucking. The actors really shine on this show, and they really have charisma and chemistry amongst each other -- too bad they are stuck in the SAME PLOT EVERY EPISODE. My grade: C+


No OC today thanks to Prez. Bush interrupting it.


Whoah. Missy is dead! Wow, did not see that one coming. And double wow, this episode, as has been the case recently, was excellent. It seems like the threat of cancellation has really loosened up the show's writers and given them the will to cut loose and aim high. Every story arc in this ep was was really on the ball, from the Missy stuff to the Jack-Courtney saga to Bobby on a school field trip with his mom as chaperone. Really good. Check out this show. My grade: A

For all those observing passover - keep on truckin' for a few more days and Say No To Bread.

J-Lo hits the Tonight Show tommorow.

Today - can you believe they had to add extra security to today's Leno taping because of guest Jane Fonda? Why? Because people are still pissed at her for PROTESTING THE VIETNAM WAR! Get over it, so did half the country.

Oh, I must say I really enjoyed Rosie O'Donnell on yesterday's show. Yep, you heard me. I was really happy for her that the crowd seemed to be responding positively as well. I don't know what happened to her lately, why she was suddenly all ultra mean spirited and had such a bad attitude, but the fact is that the woman is, believe it or not, a very talented comidienne. It was great to see her back cracking wise and being witty and funny, yet still keeping her down to earth, cheery persona on yesterday's show. Hate all you want, but her segment was one of the better interviews I've seen on the show in a while. (ps - Laura Bush's interview the other day turned out to be terrible! she was awkward and without much of a sense of humor, and Jay was awkward and pandering and not that funny in the first place -- overall it was pretty bad --- next time, book the Bush twins - now THAT could be entertaining!)

Alright, those crazy run-on sentances mean it's time to call it quits for today. Happy Friday.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

That's My Bush - - - and the NBA Playoffs!

Laura Bush in da hiz-ouse!

Yep, today was my own personal episode of 24, when Laura Bush (the First Lady for those of you not up on these things) invaded (ha!) the Tonight Show, and the usually casual corridors of NBC Burbank were flooded with all manner of Secret Service, security detail, and lots of ominous Men In Suits. Sweeeeet. Yep, as I taped off seats for the Tonight Show, I was in the company of bomb-sniffing dogs, and real genuine Secret Service dudes. How cool is that? Oh yeah, some undercover-ish ones were actually planted in the audience (they had a good sense of humor too, one of them jokingly asked to have his taped-off seat labeled as being for "Hidden Dragon" -- haha ... badass!). Sidenote: wait, can I even talk, let alone JOKE about this stuff? I hope so. If not, uh, sorry!!! But yeah one of the undercover ones kept getting out of his seat, and I lost track of where he was sitting. So I accidentally REPLACED him with someone else! Whoops ... So he comes back and was like "Oh, that was my seat." And I'm like "Oh sorry, I'll just put you somewhere else." And he's like "No, I have to sit here ..." [pulls me aside and loudly whispers] "... I'm SECRET SERVICE ..." Oh. Damn. Funnily, he whispered so loudly that everyone in that row heard him, and looked up quite amazed at this guy, who though incognito, probably knew like 50 ways to kill them with one hand. Luckily he got his seat and didn't have to bust out the Leopard Death Blow right then and there to teach me a lesson about not messin' with the Secret Service. Lesson learned.

Well, in any case it was fun to be among such a big time event. Especially all the usage of codewords and stuff. Fellow page and Tonight Show CB Diane was even overheard saying cool things into a walkie-talkie like "Repeat: the eagle has landed in the nest." Coolness. As for me, today was a good chance to dust off the ol' Dubya impression honed and done ad nauseum by my BU flatmates and I in London two springs ago. You know, back during the First Four Years (shudder).

Now I haven't actually seen the interview yet but I'm sure it's not exactly going to be The O'Reilly Factor. I was a bit disappointed while observing rehearsals to see Jay cut jokes just because they dealt with somewhat off-color subject matter, due to Mrs. Bush's appearance. I mean come on, have some backbone. Then again, ya don't want to get those Secret Service guys mad (see last night's 24 for why).

Anyways, forget about the First Lady, the playoffs are goin' on.

Damn, how surreal was it to see Shaq and 'Zo on the same team together, getting along, and combining to be a major force. Well it sure was nice to see one of the greats, Alonzo Mourning, come back and flex like old times, scoring a monstrous 21 points tonight.

And how funny is this whole Batman, Robin, Alfred thing with Shaq, Wade, and Damon Jones. Those graphics they are whipping up on TNT are downright hilarious. And Damon Jones is really milking his 15 minutes of fame, but ya can't fault him for it. Seriously, Ernie Johnson, Kenny, Charles and Magic are killing me tonight. TNT's Inside The NBA = funniest program on television? Could be.

Yesterday was all Ellen, all day.

No great guests though I did see Jason Alexander of Seinfeld - a notable BU alum, as well as a reunion of Loggins and Messina, doing, no not the Top Gun soundtrack (which would have ruled it) but a rendition of their classic "Your Momma Don't Dance," a perrenial favorite of middle aged parents everywhere.

No need to talk 24, since I covered THAT particular base in my last post.


Tonight's ep: was kind of losing me for a while, but the ending sequence was quite a shocker. First we see the evil Kane hitman guy threatening Wallace's mom, and then ... could it be? Veronica's new love Logan was revealed as having provided the drugzzzz at that fateful party one year ago, so does that mean that HE is the one who raped her? That would be an interesting twist, one which would have been expected a few weeks agobut now would really throw a wrench into things. Oh, the plot about the explicit video being released is kinda funny thinking back to the infamous BU porn video from a few years back. From what I hear that thing is STILL circulating. Could one of the Veronica writers have attended BU ...? Anyways, next week it's time to dispense with the mystery of the week stuff and get to the real plot -- where is Veronica's mom, where's Duncan Kane, and most of all -- WHO KILLED LILLY KANE? Can't wait. As far as this ep goes, kind of a mixed bag, but lot's of good stuff in there, and a hell of a cliffhanger. My grade: B+

Alright, there's a guy in a dark suit coming after me with a tazer. At least I HOPE that's a tazer. I didn't do it, I swear! I'm a good American! Um, the next post may be coming to you from a prison cell in Abu Gharib, where I'll be getting whipped by Donald Rumsfeld wearing leather chaps and a dog collar.

Blocking out that horrifying image ...

Let's think of nicer things ...

It may just be the Passover-induced bread-depravation talking ...

But who's down for some pizza?

The Chloe Power Hour



Back soon with more, but for now, quick 24 thoughts:

Chloe = deadliest nerd ever!


"He said you're the best analyst we have." "I know." = gold.


Okay, what's with this show suddenly being talked about like it has a conservative agenda? Look, I consider myself pretty liberal, but if some terrorists are about to nuke our country I think a little extreme violence in order to get avert disaster may be justified. And need I point out that the shows' Nixon-esque Republican president is about to be usurped by the former Democratic prez, David Palmer? Personally, I commend this show for dispensing with the overly PC-TV crap and not forcing the terrorists to be British white dudes or whatever just to avoid offending anyone. Plus, it's entertainment. Last I checked I don't want my ass-kicking action heroes to be week-kneed peacenick hippies (that would be pretty boring TV).

Where is the Sec. of Defense? Maybe the CTU dining hall served up some bad burritos about four hours ago?

The timeline on this show is totally crazy, as some others have pointed out. Everything is 5 minutes away from CTU - but when someone's life is in danger it takes like 5 hours to get to them!

Nerds and their fragile egos! Come on Edgar, bow down to your Geek Lord: Chloe.

Hmm, maybe Jack Bauer should ditch that annoying Audrey and give Chloe some "field action."

Now that Palmer is back will he still appear in all those Allstate commercials during the show?

Damn the secret service and their bumbling ways!

Gotta love Castle - he has no personality as of yet but he seems ready and willing to fill in and kick some terrorist ass when duty calls.

Definitely some old-school La Femme Nikita influence in tonight's ep: anyone remeber the one where Birkoff had to go out in the field even though he was the tech guy, and he had to use a gun and jill some bad guys and afterwards he was all shaken up? Anyone? Anyone?

That Mike Novak sure gets around from president to president ...

Why do terrorists always have their secret headquarters in sketchy euro-trashtastic nightclubs? Especially since they never seem to dance, and their hired muscle guys are always really conspicuous, since they are just standing there looking all tough and not getting their grooves on ...

Hmm, I wonder how many nightclubs have secret underground tunnels to be used by terrorists as getaway routes in case of infiltration?





For the unconverted, watch 24, will ya?

My grade: A -

Uh oh, we have hostile targets, approaching at a twenty degree radius. Gotta set up a perimeter and coordinate with tactical. Baram out.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Praised Be He Who Brought Us Up From the Dung-Hill

Happy Passover - the holiday of choice for those on the Atkins Diet.

I had quite an interesting seder experience - basically I was a guest at the household of the extremely nice Grodsky family in Burbank ... the Grodsky family who I had never met before last night. Responding to some inquiries made by my parents, the Grodskys were nice enough to invite me to their family seder. So yeah, it was a bit weird and awkward spending Passover with a completely random family that I had never met before. But hey, it turned out to be very nice, and it is probably the most food I'll have on any given night over the course of the next eight days. So again, chag sameach to all those celebrating Passover.

Meanwhile, the NBA playoffs are now in full swing. The unexpected highlight so far was today's huge upset in the Denver-San Antonio game. I can't believe the Pacers got demolished by the Celtics like they did. Man, the C's could be a force in the postseason if they keep firing on all cylinders as they did yesterday. Oh, and thank the lord today's games were mostly on TNT. They have, by far, the two best play by play men in the business - the legendary Marv Albert and his spiritual succesor, Kevin Harlan. Meanwhile ABC and ESPN, for the most part, offer up extremely lame commentary teams and in-studio personalities. The grizzled and always informative Hubie Brown is the highlight of ABC's coverage, but otherwise, they leave a lot to be desired and make one long for the classic days (and themesong) of the NBA on NBC. On TNT you can always count on the Inside the NBA team to bring the entertainment, while ABC and ESPN lack any kind of humor (well, except for Bill Walton's classic exaggerations). In general the playoffs seem to be off to a little bit of a slow start, with few games that really had that big-time feel, as of yet. Still, I think business will pick up soon as some of the series go on.

Hey, Mr. Monkey - thanks for the comments on my previous post. Nice to hear comments from an award-winning blogger like yourself.

So they finally released pictures of Brandon Routh as Superman. Okay, whaaaaaat? He looks like a nerd. Way too skinny, costume is kinda dumb looking as well. The "S" is way too small, the additional S symbol on the belt looks dorky, and I don't know why they are using that Spiderman-esque woven fiber material for the costume. Superman should be big, bold, iconic, larger than life. Come on, Bryan Singer (if your name IS really spelled with a Y ...), give us a kick-ass Superman, not metrosexual Supermodelman. If you need help, see the short film "Grayson" for what Superman should look like.

Oh yeah, my car was finally fixed. New front bumper, baby. Gotta love that $500 deductible, means I only have to pay ... $500 dollars. Uh, nice.

Man, the Passover food selection is pretty lacking here in Burbank. I got some Matzoh, Crispy-O's cereal (pretty much THE essential food item), potato chips, and macaroons ... but come on, hook me up with the good stuff - I'm talkin' kosher for passover Passover ice cream, now can you dig? Well, the Danny B special - Matzoh-Pizza - is going to be a-plentiful this week.

Tommorow: working at Ellen, expecting the usual craziness. Oh, this time though I am OFFICER IN CHARGE of Ellen. I'm moving on up.


Malcolm in the Middle: What other show on today would be random and offbeat enough to do a story about one of its characters befriending a pack of dogs, becoming progressively more canine-like? FOX Sunday Night mostly took the night off tonight, but Malcolm came through with a pretty over the top episode (Dewey "cheating" on his mom with another mom, Hal becoming an accidental motivational speaker, the aforementioned dog plotline) that was nonethless crazy-funny in a way only Malcolm can be. My grade: B+

Next week FOX brings us "Animation Domination." Yay (sarcasm).

But, it will be nice to have Family Guy back (though seriously, this show has become so overrated lately by its fans. Yes, it is at times very, very funny, but what's with people acting like it's the greatest thing ever? Well, all you have to do to see that creator Seth McFarlane doesn't turn everything he touches into gold, see American Dad ...).

I also caught last week's ep of The Office (American version). Probably the best one yet, but it's funny, it seemed that while the plot was much different from what you'd have found on the British series, many of the actors, notably Steve Carell, were clearly trying to emulate their British counterparts more so than they had been. Note Carell's use of one-word exclamations for example. I'd give the ep a B -. Decent, but still nothing amazing.

Oh yeah, the OC kinda sucked this week. Again, all the forced romantic-tension storylines are getting REALLY annoying. Wait, Summer is mad at Seth persuing his dreams because ... why, exactly? And could the Kirsten possibly tempted to cheat on her husband story get any more contrived? Oh look, we're stuck in a hotel together ... didn't see THAT one coming. On the plus side, the Julie Cooper stuff has been good, as has the slow build in the Ryan's brother-Marissa subplot. Overall though, I hate to say it, but don't jump, cuz a shark is swimming just below. My grade: C


MANHUNTER, by Mark Andreyko and Jesus Saiz:
- This one is a surprise because it's a modern revamp of a classic but underused character. Basically, back in the 40's Paul Kirk was a big game hunter who became an adventurer and hunted the world's most dangerous prey ... man! Pretty sweet, right? Well the character disappeared for a while, but was brought back in the 70's in a now-classic series by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson (you can buy the collected version in your local bookstore). Since then, there have been a few different versions of Manhunter, but none have been all that exciting since the Goodman-Simonson collaberation, which is one of my all-time favorite comic stories. So this new update was likely to suck, right? Turns out it is actually pretty damn good. This ongoing series from DC sees a divorced, stressed-out mom, Kate Spencer, grow frustrated with her career as a criminal attorney in the DC Universe. She prosecutes the supervillains, but they keep getting out and killing again, you know, the classic hero vs. villain conundrum. So Kate, who is also a single mom, steals a bunch of old superhero equipment and weapons from an evidence storage room, and takes matters into her own hands, crossing the line and actually KILLING the murderous villain Copperhead, and giving herself instant street cred as the new Manhunter. Anyways, this comic is witty, dark, action-packed, and has awesome art. It is strongly tied into the DC Universe but also uncharacteristically mature and edgy for a DC title. Plus it has a strong, assertive, take-no-prisoners female lead, which is pretty cool. Sure, the premise sounds a bit like Daredevil, but trust me, this one is worth checking out, it's not quite like anything else out there.

SUPERMAN by Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee:
- Well, that kind of sucked. For twelve issues Brian Azzarello led his readers on a convoluted, vague, twisting journey which ultimately had no real payoff. Sure, the art, courtesy of legend in his own time superstar penciller Jim Lee was very nice, but the story, oh man, the story went nowhere. Basically, there was something about a bunch of people disappearing, in an event called The Vanishing. Superman goes to investigate, and is so determined to find the missing people that he willingly allows himself to be Vanished, thus entering a weird dimension where Clark Kent and Superman are two different people, the evil General Zod is wreaking havoc, and nobody knows what the hell is going on. Oh wait, the big twist is (SPOILERS ...) Superman created the dimension himself, as a way to save earth in case it ever met a similarly tragic fate to Krypton. What follows is a preachy, ambiguous meditation on religion, messiahs, and a bunch of other pretentious crap that doesn't need to be the dominant action in twelve straight issues of Superman. Brian Azzareelo has said in interviews that he is not really a fan of Superman, and that bias is painfully obvious throughout this story. If you're a diehard fan of Jim Lee check this out when the trade paperback collection comes out, otherwise, skip it.

Alright, enough nerdiness for one day.

Go Pacers.

Enjoy yer' matzoh.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A Man Named Puck

Well it's been a while but today I had a real Hollywood moment. Okay, well, not exactly. You might describe it more as ... surreal.

So all's quiet on the NBC ticket office front. It's the late afternoon, not much is happening. The phone rings, and some guy is asking about reserving tickets for the Tonight Show. Sorry I say, we don't do that. But wait he asks, not even for ... nope not even for you. Wait, who did you say you were again? You know, PUCK? From THE REAL WORLD on MTV?!?!


While my enthusiasm for the show has really waned in the last few years, I used to be a bigtime Real World fan and that season is the one that really got the ball rolling - you know the one, with Puck, Pedro, Judd, etc. The one from when MTV was still great, when The Real World was truly revolutionary, and an obnoxious smartass named Puck caused viewers to tune in week after week. And he was on the phone, asking for Tonight Show Tickets. Wow.

And not only was he on the phone, but he was pretty darn chatty. He was actually really cool, and was talking about everything from why the Real World is so lame now (duh, cuz they won't cast anyone as unique as him!) to a meeting he once had with Jay Leno (something about hand buzzers?) to why The Surreal Life won't cast him (after I recommended he get on that show), to how he couldn't believe how someone as young as me could have been watching his Real World season (hey, it was a long time ago now, but it was all the rage in middle school, I explained). And then the kicker - I give him the number for Doctor Phil, as his wife was interested in attending that show. So like five minutes later he CALLS BACK and is like "Danny (I had told him my name), this sucks, there's no tickets for Dr. Phil!" And then we talked for a little bit longer. Crazy!

What else do I have to report?

Last night of NBA season! New Jersey wins, Cleveland loses! No playoffs for Lebron, but Vince Carter, aka Half Man - Half Amazing, is back and gunning for Shaq and the Heat, in what is definitely going to be a marquee matchup. Reggie Miller plays his last regular season NBA game in Indiana, and gives a moving, tearful goodbye to the fans (after a vintage technical foul call which almost saw him get ejected in his last game!) But dammit all, he's not done yet - it's Miller Time - aka the playoffs, baby! Indiana vs. Boston in Round 1. Now I am a Boston fan, but come on, this has gotta be Reggie's year! (see previous posts for rants and ruminations on Reggie's greatness) This is going to be an awesome ride so let's get it started. Nothing beats the NBA playoffs, and this is likely the last time in a while that I'm going to have a real personal investment in who wins, so I'm going to be glued to the games.


Smallville: Nice ending, but ultra cheesy episode that was painful at times to watch despite some entertaining moments, especially the scenes in which Ma Kent channeled the spirit of a valley girl teenager (she was possessed ...). But please, this is what, the 5 billionth time that they've used mind control and/or body-swapping as a plot device? How many times have they done a story where the characters don't act like themselves because of some crazy mind-altering scheme? It's like every other episode, seriously. And it is LAME. Hire me as a writer, please.
My grade: Well my mind-controlled, EVIL self says: Best. Episode. Ever. My real self says: Some decent stuff going on, but GET A NEW PLOT. What's that grade again? I give it a C.

Meanwhile, hold the phone, the underrated and much-improved JACK AND BOBBY had a GREAT episode tonight. This show is back to dealing with the BIG issues - faith, religion, family, morality, growing up - and it's doing a great job of living up to its epic premise. THIS is what a show about the future US president should be about. Excellent job by all involved and what could have been a cheesy after-school special-esque episode about teen pregnancy was a well-written, complex, and mature look at the issues involved that had no easy answers or solutions. Well done. My grade: A


- Raise your hand if you read my blog.

- There's a new Pope, who used to be a Nazi. Yes, he was forced into it, but, still. Kind of ominous if you ask me. Plus he sort of reminds me of the Emperor from Star Wars. Discuss.

- Blast from the past: Super Dave Osborne was on today's Tonight Show. Remember him? I kind of do, vaguely. Didn't he have a cartoon show at some point?

- For reasons I'm not totally clear on, I have a subscription to Time Magazine. Have to say I don't like it. I'm a Newsweek kind of guy. And Time is definitely the Tucker Carlson to Newsweek's John Stewart. All I had to do was look in disgust at the pandering cover story in the latest issue of Time regarding Ann Coulter, which made me feel slightly ill while reading it. Give me Newsweek and the brilliant editorials by Fareed Zakaria any day.

Final Thought: (it's not an original one, but it was today's Question of the Day ...) If Number 2 pencils are so widely used, why aren't they Number 1?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

2000+ hits, Suckaaaaaaa

From the depths of the sea, I'm back with another round of blogtastic nirvana.

First off, let's talk Veronica Mars, shall we? Another eventful episode tonight, with about 12 different plots / subplots all coming into and out of the picture, as the mysteries start to simultaneously unravel and deepen. Ugh, why Veronica why are you making out with Logan? Oh well, at least she admits she "hates" him. Does the young deputy guy ever stop smiling? And could he be EVIL?!?! Dang, that was a hardcore beatdown that Aaron Echols gave to bandcamp girl from American Pie's sleazy boyfriend - cool! Hmm, appears Weevil knows something about Lilly's murder - but what? Oh, and weird dog girl uses a TAZER on the evil dog kidnapper kid! Some theories: a.) Veronica was supposed to be murdered by someone from Kane Software, but they got Lilly instead, by accident. Revealing who did it would have exposed the Kane's plans to off Veronica, thus they covered it up. But why did they want Veronica dead? b.) not sure, but it clearly must have SOMETHING to do with Mr. Kane cheating on her husband with the former Mrs. Mars. c.) Weevil has been piecing this all together, and has been pointing Veronica in the right direction, taking the fall for her. d.) Kieth Mars knows who did it, but can't prove it. e.) The Echols family is somehow involved. Maybe Logan was also a target for murder, but broke up with Lilly just in time to escape the Kane's wrath? Maybe the MIA Mrs. Echols was somehow also involved with Jake Kane? Man, these last few episodes are going to seriously rock. What a great show.

While I'm on TV reviews, tonight's episode of Gilmore Girls made me happy. Commence your mocking ... now.

The Tonight Show is actually kind of funny tonight due to KEVIN SMITH being on and totally silencing Jay Leno with his obscene questions directed at the host. Hilarious. Oh yeah, Mischa Barton is on too (with the obligatory dumb actress comments that make her look like an idiot).

While I am tired as hell for waking up so early the last few days, working at the ol' ticket office actually hasn't been too bad so far, pretty laid back for the most part. Let's hope it stays that way.

You know you're living in LA when: you flip to the local public access channel and see a Glendale city council meeting in which the skinny guy from The State and Reno 911 (blanking on his name, he has a mustache and is kinda funny lookin') is arguing about why the city should work to preserve the "pastoral" character of his residential neighborhood. Trippy.

Speaking of which, I am pretty sure that the other day the kid who plays George Michael on Arrested Development was driving along Alameda Ave. behind me for about 10 minutes.

Oh my god, by the way, June 16th is gonna be crazy. Apparently the reunited Backstreet Boys are going to be on Leno, and we're already getting TONS of letters and calls requesting tickets for that day.

For some reason I went on a Fleetwood Mac downloading binge yesterday. Well, I kind of know why. I heard "Edge of Seventeen" on the radio the other day, and was like "oh yeah, that cool song from School of Rock." So I downloaded that and a bunch of other Fleetwood Mac songs, even though I never have been a big fan of the band. I guess they fall under the category of bands who can alternatively suck or rock, depending on the era or other varied factors. Think of people like Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, etc. who are widely known by many for their easy listening-friendly music, but at some point or other, have really rocked and/or rolled. But damn, Stevie Nicks' "Edge of Seventeen" is an awesome song.

Anyways, who's ready for the NBA PLAYOFFS? Me! (Lamest. Sentance. Ever.)

But seriously, some awesome matchups this year, and there is still the possibility of a first round Pacers-Pistons series. Now everyone and their cousin wants to see this, but will it happen? It would take an improbable series of events, but hey, David Stern has arranged for stranger things to happen. Yep, I am putting the "NBA is all a giant conspiracy" card out there. Okay, it isn't really, but in the NBA, more so than almost any other sport (discounting the long-desired Redsox World Series win), the big matchups seem to just magically fall into place. So will Philly win and Indiana lose this week to make this series happen? Bet on it.

But if it DOES end up being Indiana - Detroit in Round 1, I say BRING IT. But please, Indy, ride what's gotten you to this point - REGGIE MILLER. When he scores, you win. When the skinny and fragile Jermaine O'Neal demands the ball, everyone else becomes complacent. So if he's not having a 25 + point game, you're royally screwed.

So who's the MVP this year? STEVE NASH. Sure, Shaq still dominates, but he is not having a career year, and Miami's success is due in large part to Dwayne Wade's emergence as a superstar. Yes, the Laker's suck without Shaq, but they are also without nearly every other piece of the puzzle that made them champions. Nash has been having a banner year, and has turned around Phoenix, which has the best record in the league.

Coach of the year = Nate McMillan (totally turned around Seattle from last year).

Rookie OTY = Ben Gordon (helped make 'da Bulls a playoff team again).

Sixth Man OTY = Jerry Stackhouse (a bigtime scorer who has added a ton of depth to Dallas)

Alright - it's 2000 and beyond. Thanks to everyone reading. Write me some comments sometime if you haven't yet, it will make me feel special. And finally:

Ridiculous thing of the day:
Every day the Tonight Show guest list has a buffer seat that is affectionately named for a different movie character each day by Scott, the guy in charge of managing the list. Every day we try to guess what movie the character is from, and sometimes they really are pretty hard to figure out or just plain obscure. But, today, the character was one of the most iconic and recognizable in movie history, and NO ONE in the office got in, so I had to step in even though I wasn't working at the Tonight Show today. The character? Ellen Ripley. The movie? Alien. And Aliens. And Alien 3, and so on. Come on people, do you not work at NBC?

Seriously, though this is a sort of stupid and trivial example, what are you doing here if you don't have passion? And don't tell me it's because your friend's cousin got you the gig. Love it or leave it.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

"I said COT."

Dammit, please tell me that was not the last episode ever of Arrested Development.

Seriously, if so that is just ridiculous, sad, pathetic, and wrong. Take away Arrested, give us Stacked. Fair trade, huh? Honestly, I don't understand why this show wasn't doing better in a somewhat cushy post-Simpsons spot in the lineup. I think, basically, people are stupid. I know, the truth hurts, but it just is so. How else to explain the success of the endless parade of crappy reality shows. How else to explain the fact that shows like Arrested and Veronica Mars, despite being among the best on TV, have found themselves near-death? Sure, Arrested D required a little effort on the part of the viewer, as it contained ongoing gags and a somewhat serialized plot (rare, I guess, for a comedy), but it's a lot easier to follow than, say, Lost, which seems to be doing pretty well. I think it's basically the Conan O'Brien vs. Jay Leno syndrome of comedy. Conan is funnier, wittier, edgier, smarter, and cooler than Jay, yet many older and even some younger viewers claim not to get Conan's humor and prefer Leno's boring, repetitive, yet comfortably predictable form of bland comedy. So while According to Jim, Reba, etc. continue on into eternal craptitude, Arrested D stands poised to die an untimely death, joining the TV heaven currently occupied by Andy Richter Controls The Universe, Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, My So Called Life, and Futurama.

As for the final (?) episode: great, great episode. If only things didn't have to be so condensed - it was obvious they were cramming A LOT of stuff into 22 minutes, even more so than usual. But the show was hilarious, and did a really admirable job of wrapping up / addressing a number of plot threads, even if many things are still left dangling. The George Michael - Maybe romance in particular, which started out last year as kind of a weird subplot, really stole the show. Buster's realization that Oscar was his father was great, and Michael, Gob, Tobias, Lindsay, and Lucille were in fine comedic form as well. The preview for "next season" was either just funny, or bittersweetly ironic, depending on if the show is renewed. If not, at least it went out with a bang. My grade: A

I also have to give some more kudos to Malcolm In the Middle, with another great episode. No, this show has NOT jumped the shark, and in fact is having a rennaisance of sorts this year. Cloris Leachman, as always, is golden as Lois' mom. Hal and Reese's bonding over horror movies was classic, and what other show is so cruel in its depiction of brotherhood that it has two siblings knowlingly CAUSE EACH OTHER TO BECOME DEAF? No other show, ever, has so reminded me, in a twisted, weird way, of what it is really like to grow up with brothers. I know that my own brother and me regularly inflicted plenty of harm to each other, from poked eyes to blows to the head to exceesive applications of the Sharpshooter. Haha oh man ... anyways, the fact that Dewey, upon realizing he was deaf, immediately blurted out "Mom's gonna KILL me!" made me cringe in recognition. Awesome, funny episode: A

Simpsons: Eh. Why do they insist on still doing these "potential future" episodes when they are never any good. Only the original attempt at showing a future version of the Simpsons stands as a decent episode. Now, there were some very funny moments here (something about seeing a jacked up yet still emotionally fragile Milhouse was inherently hilarious), but overall, kind of a weak effort. Still, it was kind of funny how they didn't even really try to realistically imagine the future this time and were just throwing stuff out there (like, how all the policemen resembled Robocop). Oh, nice Bender cameo (even if it makes no sense, really, since he lives in the year 3000 - I know, I know, just a cartoon ...). My grade: C+

King of the Hill: Pretty good episode. I was worried that they were somehow going to endorse smoking as being cool, but then they turned it around and did a nice little commentary on how teenagers will find anything cool. Good stuff. My grade: B+

Whoah I am watching Stacked as I write this and please ... tone down the laugh track. Oh Christopher Lloyd, how the mighty have fallen ... (although I admit he is kind of funny on the show ... still, Stacked? I mean, are they serious?).

What is this Malcolm in the Middle animated thing next week? Um, this better be a one time only deal. Screw you FOX and your Animation Domination crap.


- Well, I got a reclining chair from IKEA (where everything was tax free this weekend), so now my apartment setup is pretty much complete. Yes, I braved that Swedish maze of weirdly shaped madness and came out semi-intact, and I even assembled the chair myself in record time. That place though, whoever designed it obviously used to be one of those scientists that sends rats scurrying through mazes. It literally takes like an hour to walk from one end of that store to the other, and god forbid if you defy the arrows on the floor and turn around to walk backwards. And getting to the wharehouse area is like descending down into the earth's crust. Those wacky Swedes.

- This week it's all ticket office, all the time. I'm ditching my page uniform for business casual and trading walking the aisles of The Tonight Show for sitting in an office all week, 9 to 5, sorting mail and answering phones. Fun. Oh yeah, I am ticket office HEAD, so that means I am actually RESPONSIBLE for what goes on. Not good.

Well I seem to have gotten some writer's block (having Stacked on in the background for half an hour will do that to you) but don't worry, I'll be back with more soon. As always, stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Back With A Vengeance, And This Time, It's Personal

It's been a while.

Last week at this time things were looking very grim indeed. My car was dented, I couldn't find my page key (very important for doing my job at NBC) and yes, my computer was down and out thanks to some crazy virus I contracted. Well, my car is still dented, but I found my page key and yes, finally, thanks to an express mail delivery of my Dell product recovery CD-ROM direct from Bloomfield, CT - Windows is reinstalled and, barring anymore unforseen digital shenanigans, I am back online.

First, on being offline for a week ...

Hmm, that was actually kind of refreshing. No annoying, unwanted IM conversations (don't worry, YOUR IM conversations are never unwanted or annoying, obviously). No wasting time reading websites all day. Less eye strain. So aside from my inability to check emails, do anything productive, listen to my MP3's, etc., it wasn't all THAT bad having my computer being kaput, especially not being in school and having papers and stuff to write. Seriously, this computer, still kicking since FRESHMAN YEAR OF COLLEGE, has survived more near death experiences than Ozzy Osbourne.

Now ... my car is still awaiting repair, but again, my computer is once again back from the brink, and, AND ... I finally got my couch! Yes, I now have a sofa-bed / couch, courtesy of the fine folks at LL Bean, for your (well, sorry, not YOU, per se) visiting pleasure (unfortunately I also have a studio apartment, so, um, yeah ...). On the bad news front is that my back has gotten increasingly sore this past week following my car accident. It seems to get better as the day goes on but I keep waking up really stiff and sore in my lower back especially. Hopefully it gets better soon.

Workwise ... things have been pretty good. But, BUT ... everyone is leaving. From my page class Britney is already over at Universal on assignment, and soon Brian G. will be joining her there as well. Hopefully I can soon get in on some sweet assignment action, though I am trying to be patient and wait for something to open in the area I really want - development.

On Monday I helped escort one of my all time sports heroes, Sir Charles Barkley, to his Tonight Show Dressing Room (any of you who know me probably know how I used to idolize the Round Mound of Rebound and hope against hope he'd win the NBA title every year). Now this experience wasn't what I was hoping it'd be, as I was running around trying to seat people on the show's guest list, and due to some really bad timing on the part of some guests, I basically missed the Chuckster's arrival and arrived to see hime already on his way to his dressing room. So I didn't get to talk to him or anything. Oh well. At least I've now seen him in person, after just missing him this summer in NYC. He was, as usual, freaking hilarious on the show.

Tuesday was a Dennis Miller marathon-er, with Steve Carell being the only real guest of note through the entire eight hour day, though at least me and Brian took advantage of our lengthy lunch break to hit up the fine all-American cousine of the local Big Boy restaurant down the street from NBC.

Today was another round of the hellish task known as ticketbox. Luckily today was a pretty slow day so it wasn't too bad, more boring then anything else, not too crazy like previous experiences. Maybe it had something to do with there being not a one guest of note on the Tonight Show today. Tommorow though, oh tommorow is gonna be crazy. Mr Gerard"I have a fan club of thousands of rabid women who worship me" Butler is on once again, and judging from the hardcore fans who got in line TODAY to get tickets tommorow at 8 am, it's going to be even crazier tommorow than it wa last month. Luckily, I am doing Ellen tommorow, so although I never thought I'd say this in relation to working at Ellen, I am being spared the madness. I will say though, the Gerard Butler fans, or "Tarts" as they are called, are a wonderful bunch as far as hardcore fans of things go, and sure they are a bit nutty, but hey, they seem like nice people (and they seem to like me as well, so if any "Tarts" or otherwise unafilliated fans are reading this by some chance - mad props, yo, you guys are all right in my book). Oh yeah, as if Gerard Butler and his rabid fanclub wasn't enough pandemonium, a little celeb named FARRAH FAWCETT, and some indy band, don't get much airplay, THE KILLERS, are on tommorow's show. Yeah, it's a gonna be kerazy. Again, I'll be at Ellen, where things should be (shudder) relatively calm (aside from the hundreds of middle aged women dancing for two hours to Toni Toni Toni).

Well I'm sure there's some other stuff I left out, but before I go I want to cover a few ...

RANDOM (okay, slightly premeditated) THOUGHTS:

- Saw SAHARA this weekend. Now I've seen some positive reviews of this movie, but I have to agree with the haters and say this movie, aside from a few kewl action scenes, kinda sucked. The plot was very anticlimactic and made little sense. The villain was pointless and it was never really clear what his motives or purpose was. Matthew McCanauhey was decent as the lead but didn't really do much except squint a lot, and it's not like he was thrust into the middle of some epic plotline ala Indiana Jones. I mean, for most of the movie he's SEARCHING FOR A LOST CIVIL WAR SHIP. Ooooh, exciting. Steve Zahn is pretty good here, definitely the highlight of the move, and Rain Wilson also has a few very funny moments. But William H. Macy is mostly wasted in a small, pointless role, as is Penelope Cruz, who plays Bland Love Interest who inexplicably falls in love with the main character just because the script said so. Sure, there are some nice chase scenes in the water and a few semi-sweet fights / action, but overall, not worth seeing. My grade: C


- Yes!!! VERONICA MARS IS RENEWED FOR A SECOND SEASON! Oh, praise thee UPN, for putting some stock in your only decent show, which isn't just decent, but frikkin' awesome. By the way, another great episode this week, but why oh why did Veronica make out with Neptune High's resident psycho-asshole Logan?!?! I haven't screamed at the TV like that in a while. Still, quality show and thank the stars it's coming back.

- Now - ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT must, MUST be renewed. And also, let's hope that the show that has improved the most over the course of the year, JACK AND BOBBY, comes back as well, as it's really been picking up lately and living up to its high concept potential.

- 24 once again challenged my ability to suspend my disbelief and made me wonder why JAck never brings more backup with him on his missions ... but, as usual, the episode kicked seven degrees of ass despite whatever internal logic flaws the show may have. Next week, Jack vs. the terrorists AND his own government? Nice.

- SMALLVILLE is back, and it just had it's best episode in a long while tonight after a pretty lackluster season as a whole up until this point. Lex finally goes all out EVIL, and it was a joy to watch. Sure, this cast is going to be supplanted eventually by the Hollywood hitsquad of Superman Returns, but Kevin Spacey is, yep, I said it, going to have a damn hard time living up to Michael Rosenbaum's Lex Luthor, the most definitive portrayel of the classic villain EVER on screen.

Take THAT computer viruses! And THAT. And THAT.

You want some, come get some.

(Note: If you are some kind of crazy, sadistic computer hacker reading this, screw you and don't you dare infect my computer.)

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

What If You Found A Portal ...?

"What if you found a portal to a parallel universe? What if you could slide into a thousand different worlds? Where it's the same year, and you're the same person, but everything else is different. And what if you can't find your way home?"

- Quinn Mallory

Dude, did I ever used to be into the show Sliders on FOX. It replaced The X-Files after that show moved to a new timeslot back in the mid 1990's, and at first I was almost as enamored with Sliders as I was with The X-Files. Those first two seasons of the show were just plain awesome - a young grad student, his on again off again girlfriend, his genious physics professor, and a down on his luck soul singer who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time get swept into a portal that takes them to an alternate universe. And they can't find their way home. Each episode was a new adventure in a new parallel earth. Man, what a great show. Sure, it eventually went way, way downhill, and then suffered two seasons of mostly mediocre episodes when it was reincarnated on the Sci Fi Channel. But, at first, this show was amazing and ahead of its time.

So ...

It was kind of cool that, while walking out of The Tonight Show today I bumped into none other than Quinn Mallory himself, Jerry O'Connell! He was on the show along with his brother Charlie (who joined the cast of Sliders in its later years) to promote their various upcoming projects. Coolness.

Today was also cool in that many of my fellow NBC Pages and I attended a talk and Q and A session given by the president of entertainment programming of the company. He was a very nice and brutally honest guy who's no B.S. opinions were quite refreshing to hear, and he offered a nice mix of inside industy info and how-did-I-get-to-where-I-am anecdotes. Definitely one of the more noteworthy and valuable experiences I've had since I started at the page program.

Otherwise I've mostly been bogged down in this annoying car stuff. Hopefully I'll have my rearview miiror fixed tommorow morning, but the dent I suffered from my collision probably won't be repaired until sometime next week at the earliest (see yesterday's post for the unfortunate details of my auto accident - and in case you were wondering, don't worry I'm pretty much okay).


LOST - I really enjoyed tonight's episode, and found it to be a very powerful mix of emotional highs and lows. Now I've heard / read some negative opinions of the episode, declaring it too obvious and telegraphed to have ( ................................ SPOILER warning .................................) Boone die. But I don't see why they need to kill a character for shock value alone - this is a different type of show than 24 and is much more character driven. Boone's death leaves Locke isolated and targeted as a potential murderer by Jack. It leaves Shannon confused and unpredictable. It leaves Jack absorbed in guilt and anger. It's a death that made sense plot-wise. So who cares if it isn't shocking or whatever? Anyways, it was a great episode in my opinion (except for the flashback ... so what was the point of it exactly, except to show that Jack is / was married?). And the build towards the season finale is really picking up steam. Apparently the two hour finale will end on an incredibly huge, twist-ending cliffhanger. Hopefully it will live up to the hype. But it's gonna be a fun ride getting there. My grade: A -

- So in LA this classic rock station has now become "Jack 93.7." Basically they play completely random songs in no particular order, spanning a wide range of genres, from pop to classic rock to oldies to 80's one-hit-wonders. At first I hated it, but now I am kinda starting to warm up to this format, it is like an mp3 player on radio, in a weird way. Definitely an interesting format, and you never know when a really good song might come on. But you definitely do hear some obscure or underplayed songs that you normally would never hear on a regular radio station.

Well, barring any accidental forays into parallel universes, it's time to wind down and head to sleep. Raise the roof.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Twisted Metal


Sunday: I'm coming home from Wrestlemania - I had a great time and it was a truly spectacular event. I drop off Paul Lurie at his apartment, and start heading back towards Burbank from North Hollywood. I'm cruising down the street when this SUV speeds into a left turn onto the highway. Their turn intersects with my lane and suddenly I see a big ol' vehicle right in front of me and slam on the brakes. The front of my car hits the rear corner of their car. Luckily, no one was hurt (though my back has been kind of sore ever since), but both of our cars were damaged. Now the insurance agencies are sorting things out as I await the cost of repairs to my car (to fix the dent in the front bumper and my rearview mirror, which got detached from the impact). Seriously, while I'm happy it wasn't worse an that nobody was hurt, this sucks. To make things worse the woman who hit my car has a totally different view of things from me, so that's going to have to be sorted out as well. I won't go into details on that front, but hopefully this can be over quickly with minimal cost and damage. And once again, I will soon be without my car.

Well, anyways ... aside from that ...

Wrestlemania was awesome. Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle was a technical masterpiece, full of moves and countermoves, psychology and emotion - one of the greatest matches I've ever seen, live or on TV, and it was definitely the highlight of the event. The appearance by Hulk Hogan was an awesome surprise, and it's always a treat to see one of my childhood idols live, even if he's getting up there in age. The appearances by other legends like Stone Cold Steve Austin and Roddy Piper was pretty cool as well. The championship matches were somewhat disappointing, but the HBK-Angle match, Randy Orton vs. The Undertaker, and the six-man ladder match easily made up for any shortcomings the other hyped up bouts may have had. There's no crowd like a wrestling crowd. Where else can you chant things like "You Suck!" "Holy Shit!" "You *%#$'ed up!" etc. at the top of your lungs? Good times. Plus the seats, in row # 7, couldn't be beat, plus there were a lot of celeb sightings, from Adam Sandler to Hal Sparks to ZZ-Top. What, you think wrestling, in general, is just plain dumb? Go to Wrestlemania and see why you're wrong. Whooooooo.

If you're reading this and it's before Wednesday night: Watch Ellen today (featuring Cynthia Nixon and Al Green) to see a brief cameo by me as I usher in a group of fans and direct them to their seats! (exciting I know).

Nice to see Fran Drescher on the Tonight Show yesterday. She was hilarious and extremely blunt, which was pretty funny (telling Matthew McConneheigh (sp?) that Penelope Cruz was only going out with him on the rebound). Although my post-TGIF years saw me start to sour on most traditional laugh-track sitcoms, I always did appreciate the classic, New York / Queens - Jewish - inspired humor of The Nanny.


- I was so hyped up from Sin City on Friday that I watched an earlier Robert Rodriguez / Tarantino film, From Dusk Till Dawn, the next day. Kind of an updated Army of Darkness type of film, I felt it kind of dragged at first but eventually this film won me over with its totally over the top violence and twisted sense of humor. Definitely a good film to have in the collection.

- Didn't watch any FOX Sunday night stuff, though I have Simpsons and Arrested D on tape (dammit, didn't tape King of the Hill and Malcolm due to daylight savings time mishap).

- 24 was awesome! Sure, predictable, but the tension, action, and intensity was off the charts. What other show would have the cajones to have terrorists steal a stealth bomber and use an air to air missle to blow up air force one? Wow, you knew it was coming but I mean, wow, they actually went through with it. Not really a shocking twist, but quite a powerful way to end an episode, which also included copious amounts of Jack Bauer kicking terrorist ass (yet Marwan got away! What?!?!). Now let's see if they can keep the momentum going ... My grade: A

- Another veerrrrry sweet ep of Veronica Mars - business is really picking up, as the Lilly Kane mystery is starting to completely unravel. This show does a good, old fashioned MYSTERY like no other. You know the clues are there - we're not being jerked around by the writers or anything, and you know that the ultimate revelation will MAKE SENSE (which already is looking like a longshot for, say, LOST). And hey, was that they guy who played Louie from The State in a guest role as a sleazy detective? Yes, yes it was. Cool. My grade: A -

- Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, GOODBYE. Good riddance to the LA Lakers from the NBA playoff picture. Now we won't have that arrogant wannabe Kobe hogging TV time come May, and the championship picture is a lot more interesting. On another NBA note, man I would have liked to see that Pacers-Knicks game tonight - Reggie Miller's last in NYC. You know a player is great when he recieves cheers, in the end, from fans in a city where he was long one of the most hated villains.

Well, this would have been a great weekend and everything if not for that STUPID CAR THING. Ugh, I don't even want to think about it. LA drivers, seriously, need to get with it. But yeah, let's hope this gets settled soon, and that the repairs are quick, easy, and cheap, and no further complications arise.

TOMMOROW: Listening to a talk / Q and A from the President of Programming at NBC Entertainment. I could be a huge geek and ask: Why did you cancel one of the greatest shows of all time, Freaks and Geeks after 12 episodes? Why are you insisting on making pale Americanized imitations of classic British shows? Why do you keep churning out Law and Orders, bad sitcoms, and reality shows? BUT, yeah, THAT AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN. I will listen, be nice, and hopefully it will be a good learning experience.

- Alright, here's to getting this car stuff over and done with, and avoiding any more trouble.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Sin City Review, etc.

Danny's Rant-Style Sin City Review:

Sin City is a graphic novel come to life. More so than any previous comic-to-film adaptation, this is the real deal. It's not that the characters from Sin City were adapted. It's not that the basic iconography or plot was adapted. Nope. This IS Frank Miller's Sin City. This is Frank Miller's gritty, chiaroscuro pencils in three dimensions. This is Frank Miller's noir-ish, over-the-top thought captions read aloud as a kind of running inner monologue of the characters. This is what a comic book movie should look like, a movie that succesfully celebrates the medium from which it is derived, in look, feel, and soul.

The movie follows three seperate but intertwining stories, all set in the rain-soaked, grimy streets of Sin City. But to be honest, it isn't the details of the plot that are really important here. The amazing, violent, and graphic imagery is what makes this movie, along with a number of amazing performances.

The first thing you'll notice about the movie is the look. Shot on greenscreen, this is one of the most artfully shot movies you'll ever see. It literally opens up whole new ways of presenting a story on film. Just as Frank Miller's comic book pencils have a stark, simple, gritty look, so too does everyone and everything in this film, giving it a quasi-animated feel that is unlike anything I've ever seen before on the screen. A step up from the somewhat disjointed use of greenscreen in Sky Captain, Sin City's black and white world is a nightmare come to life, with shocking splashes of vibrant color in just the right places. You can't take your eyes off this movie -visually, it is amazing.

Acting-wise, you couldn't ask for a better cast. First and foremost, Mickey Roarke steals the show as Marv. Under a thick layer of makeup and prosthetics, Roarke's scenes in the movie as Marv are easily the film's highlights. A mixture of Hellboy, Dirty Harry, and Frankenstein, Marv is a confused, lonely sould who also happens to be a tough as nails ass-kicker. Marv is pitted against Elijah Wood as a mute serial killer with whited-out eyes, and the legendary Rutger Hauer as a carnivorous man of the cloth. Forget Frodo Baggins. This movie will make you believe that Elijah Wood is just about the scariest, most sadistic bastard that ever lived. And we all know not to mess with Rutger Hauer. Marv's scenes are a surreal, action-packed trip into insanity, a kind of Memento meets The Incredible Hulk roller coaster ride that, basically, friggin rocks. The other two leads, Bruce Willis and Clive Owen, are excellent as well, though both of their segments suffer a bit in that they fail to live up to the pure excitement and awesomeness of Marv's portion of the film. Clive Owen, however, is surrounded by an amazing supporting cast for his scenes. There's Benicio Del Toro as an obnoxious undercover cop, Britanny Murphy as a sad bartender, and Rosario Dawson as the leader of a band of prostitute-warriors. Yup, you read that right. Just to give you an idea of how wonderfully twisted Clive Owen-as-Dwight's segment is, it features said Rosario Dawson in full dominatrix getup, a headless Del Toro, a ninja prostitute, Nazi thugs, a place called the "tarpits" that are some kind of dinosaur burial ground, midgets, and oh yeah, Rory Gilmore as an underage femme fatale. Yikes, I knew this movie had an impressive cast but I did a double take when I saw Yale-student and overall goodgirl Rory in full on street-walker mode sporting a devious smile and eyes that shone with bad intent. Bruce Willis' segment is perhaps the weakest of the three, though it of course has its moments. Jessica Alba is surprisingly excellent as a girl who was saved by Willis' grizzled cop character when she was only eight years old. Michael Madsen is a little TOO over the top in his role as Willis' slimy partner, which is saying a lot in this movie, and some of the slower-paced scenes in this part of the movie do drag a bit. But Willis plays his part well and he faces an enemy who is so disgustingly over the top grotesque and evil that it's almost painful to watch him -- Nick Stahl as the Yellow Bastard - a monstrous freak who is literally bright yellow. Let's just say that even after all the crazy violence in this film, the Yellow Bastard cranks things up a notch.

And that is definitely going to be a point of contention with this movie. Is it too violent? I think not - because if any movie, if any vision, ever was meant to be disgustingly, brutally violent, it was Frank Miller's Sin City, which has a darkly humorous sense of nihilism behind its endless series of severed limbs, gun battles, and hand to hand brawls. This is Sin City, the worst place on earth, where only a sadist can really live, where it's kill or be killed. This movie celebrates violence, in a way, but it also shows its futility. Nearly everyone in the film ends up dead or miserable, and that's kind of the point.

Another point of contention is how stylized this film is. It straddles the line between film noir dialogue and cartoonish, almost humorous exchanges between its characters. Personally, I think it works. While one or two lines are just TOO cartoony ("he's got a bum ticker."), this isn't a Kevin Smith movie, it's not about realistic conversations. It's meant to have that pulp feel. Sin City is about channeling Dashell Hammett and Mickey Spillane, except on steroids and acid. unlike Kill Bill, however, its not directly paying tribute to anything, it's not really referencing any outside sources. It's one man's vision brought to life.

The biggest problem with the movie isn't the violence or the stylized dialogue, but the story structure. The three tales in and of themselves have a very nice, almost literary sense of symmetry and closure. The use of repeated phrases ("An old man dies, a young girl lives.") gives some really nice closure to the individual stories, but taken as a whole, the movie kind of stuggles to work as one cohesive film. Two bookend scenes featuring Josh Hartnett do a decent job of setting up and wrapping up the movie respectively, but ultimately things seem a little overly condensed. It's a tribute to the movie's great performances that you kind of wish, for example, that the whole movie could just be about Marv. In comics this approach can work because their serialized nature means that we as readers assume there will be more Sin City stories to come. But a movie is a more self-contained experience. We want to know everything there is to know about the characters, and see their journeys from start to finish. That is my one real complaint with Sin City - no real closure to the movie as a whole, even though the stories did end tightly in and of themselves.

In the end, unless you have a weak stomach for violence, you have gotta see this movie. It's not as purely fun and kickass as Kill Bill or as simple and classically presented as classic film noirs like The Maltese Falcon or Chinatown. But visually it is groundbreaking, and character-wise you'll be left with the images of Marv, Dwight, The Yellow Bastard, and an army of bad-ass hookers burned in your brain long after you've seen the movie. And despite how ugly, violent, and deadly Sin City is, you'll realize that despite it all, you wouldn't mind going back there for another visit.

My grade: A

- Tommorow: Wrestlemania 21 at the Staples Center! Ladies and gentlemen, leeeeeet's get rrready to rrrummmmbbbllle!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Cuz Stone Cold Said So

Tale of Two Dennis Miller Shows:

Show #1 - usual stuff, some interesting if slightly drawn out political talk, less than enthusiastic crowd including the expected group off sketchy looking Eastern Europeans Who Don't Speak A Word Of English. Did meet some cool people who work at the show who I had never spoken to before, one of whom interned at Conan about eight years ago. After the show grabbed some lunch and then came back, slightly giddy, because I learned that Show #2 was going to potentially kick some ass ...

Show #2 - total pandemonium, thanks to special guest STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN. Yep, he must be making the media rounds, because after making the ticket-yielding appearance at the Late Late Show he came by Miller's show to promote Wrestlemania. And legions of diehard WWE fans came along with him. Suffice to say that Dennis Miller's show, usually barely able to fill its seats, was overrun with Austin 3:16 T-shirt-wearing, "What?!?!"-chanting, wild, out of control hardcore wrasslin' fans. Nice. Well I had to hold back my inner wrestling fan and try to stay professional, although the repeated chants and general arena atmosphere of the crowd made me so hyped that I couldn't resist chatting up the fans a bit and flashing a few NWO 4 Lyfe signs for old time's sake. though I did have to lay the smack down a few times by telling the rowdier audience members to please quiet down and not yell stuff out. Man, the Dennis Miller crew had no idea what hit 'em, but I was quite amused at how wrestling fans are able to turn any event into a powder keg of over the top, WWE-style mayhem. Gotta love it.


- The barstools I ordered arrived at my apt today. So now I can finally eat cereal in the morning at my kitchen counter. Yes! Now I just need a couch.

- First electric bill for the new apt arrived as well ... dammit.

- Oh yeah, I've been meaning to give my 2 cents on the new Americanized version of The Office, now that I've seen the first two eps. Well, while it is a nice change of pace from the usual American sitcom format, I'm sorry to say that it pretty much sucks. The first ep was a near word for word translation of the British pilot, and came off like a pale imitation of the original, and in any case was simply not funny, thanks to being dumbed down and overly simplified from its source material. I had high hopes for the second ep, since it was an original script and seemed like it'd play more to the strengths of the American cast members. Well, it did kind of do that, with a more outrageious, less subtle script that seemed to be more fitting for the less subtle characters in the show. But again, just not that funny. Steve Carell's version of David Brent is the only character with any life on the show, but he is too one-dimensional and very grating after a while. But basically the worst thing is that the American characters have exactly one dimension to them while the British ones were much more multilayered, which was evident as soon as the first few eps of the BBC series were aired. This made the humor of the original so natural and real seeming that the show was often hilarious, since like a Christopher Guest movie the dialogue had that improvised feel where the jokes have a natural, unpredictable flow. My grade for the U.S. Office: Episode 1: D, Episode 2: C

Tommorow: Pretty easy day at work, and then, finally, SIN CITY.

FINAL THOUGHT: Aw yeah, Indiana punked the Miami Heat tonight, with another classic, 30+ point performance by Reggie Miller. I can't wait to see what the Pacers can do in the playoffs this year - hell, bring on the Heat, Indy is 3 and 0 against them this year. And a note to TNT, ESPN, and ABC: The Lakers are terrible this year, they now almost certainly will not make the playoffs, and they are barely even trying at this point in the season - so please, GET THEM OFF MY TV.

And that's a wrap.