Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween: Darkness Falls Across the Land, The Midnite Hour is Close at Hand ...

Darkness Falls Across The Land
The Midnite Hour Is Close At Hand
Creatures Crawl In Search Of Blood
To Terrorize
Y’awl’s Neighbourhood
And Whosoever Shall Be Found
Without The Soul For Getting Down
Must Stand And Face The Hounds Of Hell
And Rot Inside A Corpse’s Shell
The Foulest Stench Is In The Air
The Funk Of Forty Thousand Years
And Grizzy Ghouls From Every Tomb
Are Closing In To Seal Your Doom
And Though You Fight To Stay Alive
Your Body Starts To Shiver
For No Mere Mortal Can Resist
The Evil Of The Thriller

Well hello there boys and ghouls, let me show you into my laboratory. The master will see you now. He's just been conducting experiments into the nature of life ... specifically, the reanimation of corpses. You see, after a Monday of working 11 hours on assignment, otherwise hale and hearty persons can start to exhibit signs of a most grim transformation. Normal, healthy people begin to rot and decay, to be alive yet not alive. They hover on the precipice of hell, for they are ... the UNDEAD! In leyman's terms, the happy-go-lucky boy you once knew as Danny has become a mindless, brain-devouring ZOMBIE~!

And so another Halloween has come and gone. And like Shaun of Shaun of the Dead, I have begun to realize that there isn't always all that much difference between the living and the undead.

But despite my zombie-like exhaustion from another long day at work, things are finally starting to at least kinda sorta come together at my assignment. I mean, no way is it as stressful and anxiety-filled as my first few days. But just when things seem to be calming down ...

... I end up being sent on a freakin' quest across NBC for a freaking hammer / chisel. And do you know why I needed said hammer? No, not to bash my brains in, but so that a certain executive could SMASH HIS GIANT, 9-POUND NESTLE'S CRUNCH CANDY BAR INTO SMALL CHUNKS SO THAT HE COULD EAT IT! Okay, I know I probably shouldn't be talking about stuff like this online. But come on, absurdity of this magnitude deserves to be put into the public forum. I will not elaborate on this any further, suffice to say ... COME ON.

All I know is, if I ever become famous / wealthy / powerful, I will still do all normal things that one normally does for oneself BY MYSELF and FOR MYSELF. Why? Because that's what NORMAL people do!

Otherwise ...

The assignment is going pretty well. I'm starting to pick up on most of the daily / typical tasks that I am expected to carry out, and I am beginning to get a good feel for how the office works. I've gotten to check out a number of in-development scripts that are in the works at NBC, and overall really expanded my understanding of the ins and outs of this industry in only a week's time. I've met some very nice people, and of course I can still communicate with my fellow pages-on-asignment through the AIM-like application known as sametime (I know, I thought it was a sexual reference too when I first heard that term. What, that was just me ...? Hey, come on now ... what is one supposed to think when out of the blue some girl says "so me and Pete were "sametime-ing" for three hours last night?).

Oh yeah, I did get to hear a pretty cool talk today as well from Ted Frank, a veteran of TV programming @ NBC, who had some very interesting insights into the state of the industry and the past, present, and future of communications.

I guess as the weeks go by things will come more naturally and I'll get more used to things. Waking up at 7 every day? Not so much. (I usually hate when ppl use that expression - it's terrible - but oh well I'm a hypocrite).

Oh - one cool thing that happened today - I came across a script for an original sitcom pilot written by JALEEL WHITE HIMSELF! Yep, Steve Urkel wrote a sticom pilot! And it's like Family Matters meets Step by Step, and I really liked what I read! Come on NBC, step up to the plate on this one ... (haha it has no chance of being made, it's an old script fro ma few years back if I didn't salvage it out of curiosity it would have ended up in the trash ...).


Anyways ... this weekend saw the continuation of a cherished BU tradition, my annual Halloween horror-movie marathon. This year's NBC page-filled bash was a pretty good success, with a nice turnout and plenty of scariness to go around. I even took an added step and allowed the attendees to vote on much of the movie selection. Of course, things didn't go exactly according to schedule, and we got way behind, thus leaving no time for the evening's intended grand finale presentation of Bruce Campell kicking unholy ass in Sam Raimi's classic, The Evil Dead. But, we did get through a pretty decent lineup of horrifyingly entertaining entertainment, as we blazed through two classic Simpsons Treehouses of Horror (seasons 4 and 5 for the curious), indie British zom-com Shaun of the Dead, Mel Brook's classic Young Frankenstein, and finally the eerie stylings of Roman Polanski's classic tale of the spawn of Satan, Rosemary's Baby.

Now while Shaun of the Dead was a very likable, enjoyable film, I feel that the latter two movies suffered a bit from "Jared Cohen Sleepover Party Syndrome." What the Deuce is that, you may ask. Let me explain. Way back in middle school (Solomon Schechter Jewish Day School, to be precise) sleepover birthday parties were all the rage. A typical party would be highlighted by one or two "forbidden" scary movies, the more gore the better. I remember seeing A Nightmare on Elmstreet, Predator 2, Pet Cemetary, and yes, even Leprauchan at said sleepover parties, for example. Now Jared Cohen, when he had his sleepover party, it was clear that his parents were a bit more strict than most (probably only mine were stricter, hahaha). So unstead of a typical slasher horror flick, Jared's dad tried to hype us up for a special VHS showing of ... Dracula. Yep, the old-school Bela Lugosi version. Suffice to say, the slow pace, black and white cinematography, and old-timey feel was pretty perplexing and/or sleep inducing to just about everyone but me (I thought it was awesome). Unfortuantely, I think the old-time Vaudvillian humor of Mel Brooks and the late 60's-era, slow-building tension and dated dialogue of Rosemary's Baby had a bit of the Jared Cohen effect. Now I get this. Try as I might for example, I just can't get all that into Blazing Saddles, while I find the slightly more modern take on the ol' Mel Brooks formula of Robin Hood: Men In Tights to be hilarious, despite the latter enjoying nowhere near the legendary status of Blazing Saddles. But, come on now people. We are not in middle school anymore. Rosemary's Baby is pretty freaking classic, and at this stage I definitely appreciated its mood-building ambiance and subtle turns of the proverbial screw, a far cry from the cheap thrills and easy scares that many wannabe badass horror movies try today. See, if we could only have stuck to the schedule, we could have closed things off with some Evil Dead, Ash-induced mayhem to shake off the cobwebs, so to speak.

Basically, I can't take responsibility in any case, because it was a DEMOCRATIC VOTE. Same reason Bush is in office, in theory.

Oh well. All in all it was a pretty hardcore marathon, and if you know me you know that I do things hardcore or not at all. I even set up a Wall of Horrors (inspired, I admit, by the similarly themed wall at Page-O-Ween), featuring such icons of horror as Alfred Hitchcock, Rod Serling, Alice Cooper, Kang and Kodos, Elvira, and yes, Count Duckula.

We'll do it (the time warp?) again next year. Bwahahahahaha.

Seriously though, it's Halloween and it was 80 degrees today here in LA. WTF, mate? This place is KRAZY I tell ya.


- November sweeps means lots of new TV and all kinds of nutty stuff happening. People dying on Lost, for example. Yep, it's that time of year again.

- Working the Tonight Show for old times' sake on Wed. and Th. Yep I'm donning the polyester once again and showin' the newbies how it's done, BLOOMFIELD style.

- May or may not survive Week 2 of the assignment.

- Congrats, Brian, on getting a job with Nielson! Why couldn't you have been working there when Freaks and Geeks was on the air, and fudged those numbers a bit?

- And finally, 5000+ hits as of last week on this here blog! Wow, someone is reading! Or maybe I just hit "reload" a lot ...


Wait, what's that howling in the distance?


There! Wolves!

Gotta love it.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Welcome to the Jungle ...

Longest two days ever.


The last two days have been 11 hour workdays at NBC, and there's no sign of things slowing down. Even better, since I have nobody to train me I am basically left to fend for myself, learning as I go, making each hour a struggle to keep a smile on my face and not screw up too badly. I mean, I am grateful for this opportunity. I am around tons of scripts for new and still-in-development shows. I am around many of the top creative execs at NBC. But dayum, the days are long and the stress level is high, at least so far. I've already had to drive out under a time crunch and pick up lunch for the whole office (sans myself), and today I had to lug the heaviest box packed with legal documents ever all the way across the NBC lot. And each new thing I am told to do, from fed-exing to filing to covering phones, I am mostly left to figure out for myself, trying to polease people who need things done in a hurry and with little room for trial and error. So yeah, while I am grateful for this opportunity, I don't know if I forsee myself persuing the assistant route long-term. Trust me, this is one case where working in showbiz is anything but glamorous. But hopefully I can start to adjust to these long days and get focused. I need to just do the best job I can in this assignment and make the most of the contacts here.

But god, working in this type of office environment is just so ... ugh, it's like I have a newfound need to blast the hardest rock music I can find as soon as I get in the car to go home. I have to be so careful what I'm doing and saying at all times. Most of the time it's just silence in the room, except for the chatter of phone conversations and the hum of new email messages being received. You just want to scream. Probably this is mostly just coming from it all being such a jarring transition from the college-like atmosphere of the regular page program, but wow, this is a BIG adjustment. I guess there's some comfort in the fact that hey, I'm still just a page. I can only be held accountable for so much. And apparently, not keeping enough of everyone's favorite carbonated beverages stocked at all times carries with it a lot of accountability. Haha, I know, I'm being a little over dramatic. But when you can't be dramatic during the day, I guess it comes out at night, ya know? (Now I know why parents tend to come home grumpy all the time).

Anyways, this is the working world, I guess. Love it, learn it. And remember that this is just one step on the ladder, baby. I've had to work hard to get here and I don't plan on stopping now.


TV Show Reviews:

PRISON BREAK - Wow, damn good ep this week, lots of action, plenty of twists and turns ("Ms. Vice President ..."). Continues to take it's game to the next level, and the pulpy writing and acting knows just how to build the drama. My grade: A -

GILMORE GIRLS - Back on track after last week, this week's episode was packed with enough emotionally-charged moments that even the hardest of hearts may be tempted to break out the kleenex. The long-term plotting on this show is just so well done - even as the longterm arc continues from week to week, each ep has such great individual little character moments. Like here for example, when Luke gives Rory his birthday present for her - I mean, what a great moment for a great character. Anyoneinterested in well-written and acted TV should take a look at this show - both witty and heartfelt, as exemplified in this week's outstanding episode. My grade: A


Honestly, I got nothing for ya. My brain is totally fried. So yeah, I'm done. Baram out.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

"And Now, For the MAIN EVENT ...!"

And so it begins ...

It's time to get on east coast standard time, because it's going to be all early mornings from here on in.


Finally - tommorow, I begin my assignment at NBC.

Now things have the potential to get a little crazy. The previous holder of this assignment is going to be away, and won't be able to train me in the ways of phone conferencing, script filing, and fedex delivering. So I'm gonna have to self-teach or die as I get welcomed into the jungle that is the primetime development department. So it's time to get the game face on. No more goofing off, no more being late in the morning, no more late weekday nights. It's on. For the next few months I am going to be in the zone. Or at least, that's what I'm going to tell myself for now. Because the truth is I am walking into Parts Unknown (so to speak), and it's going to be a LONG week ahead - a LOT to take in in a short amount of time, probably without much guidance. Already, my short training session Friday evening had my head spinning with things to remember which I have likely already forgotten.

But hey, these West Coasters don't know what the New England puritanical work ethic is all about. This stuff is cake, right? Answering phones? Filing? Faxing? Bring it on. Or, as one of my fellow pages might say ... IN YA FYCE!

So to my loyal readers (all 3 of you ...), you can probably expect less frequent blog entries in the near future, as my days will mostly be spent working from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm, with barely enough time to come home, have dinner, and check out a quality TV show or two before it's time to hit the hay and prepare for another day. Which is why I may need to like pre-plan every hour of my life from now on. Or not.

Tommorow it's on like donkey kong, beeyotch.


This weekend saw the long-awaited PAGE-O-WEEN party at la casa del Scott y Sean, and it was pretty much a scarily succesful evening. The pages were out in full force, and all manner of strange costumes were on display. My own Clark Kent / Superman getup went pretty well, and if you check out my facebook or myspace sites there's a few funny pics of me with jedi knights, cowgirls, bunny rabbits, construction workers, French maids, glam rockers, and Willy Wonka himself. And yes, certain ghouls and ghosts were in attendance as well. Let's just say that Spi Der, Cof Fin, and Drake U Lah may have popped in for a visit. Hahaha, sorry - NBC page humor. Anyways, I have to say, it's been fun being around a bunch of fellow Halloween nerds who love all this stuff. This October has been one giant celebration of Halloween, between Page-O-Ween, Knotts Sacry Farm, etc., and it's been great. I can't believe we still have a whole week to go before the actual day itself.

Also, I should say another Chag Sameach to everyone as us in the J-Crew celebrate Succot. If only I could be back at BU to eat under the succah at hillel - always a memorable time with Aksel and the rest.



- So I caught a free screening of DOOM at the Universal Studios lot this weekend, and of course there was no way I was gonna pass this one up - it's a videogame movie and it stars The Rock - meaning that it was a must-see. Haha, okay for many people those two factors are not exactly encouraging, but come on, where's yer sense of fun? Basically, Doom is a pretty bad movie. It's a B movie with a ridiculous script, one-dimensional characters, and almost no plot. But it is also fun as hell to watch if you go in with the right attitude. Go in ready to laugh, to mock, to not take things too seriously, and to see some stuff blown up real good, and you'll enjoy the movie as I did. And really, this is a problem that many people have. Because many people STILL somehow don't understand the differences between videogames and movies. Most videogames, with only a few exceptions, use plot and story only as a means of providing context to the actions of the player. These things are only secondary to the most important thing - gameplay. Since movies don't have interactivity, the only way they can really approximate the gaming experience is to at least try to recapture the visceral thrill of playing a game, where every moment is do or die and kill or be killed. In this way, Doom does a pretty bang up job. This movie earns its R rating with tons of ultra-violence, and some nicely done encounters between man and monster. With its pounding soundtrack and kinetic energy, Doom captures a part of the game, and I mean really, what else do you want? Also, the movie has a first-person perspective sequence that is simply kickass, looking like something right out of the game, and moving with an intensity and amazing level of choreographed violence that is pretty sweet to watch. In the end, this is really a poor mans' version of action classics in the commando squad vs. unstoppable beast genre, like Aliens or Predator. But for what it is, it's a fun little movie that just begs to be seen with a group of guys who can kick back, enjoy, make fun, and revel in the pure thrill of seeing The Rock wielding the BFG against some badass mutants. My grade: B -


LOST - continues to frustrate me, though I do enjoy the Jin / Sun flashbacks as they have that cool foreign film feel to them. But come on, all this mysterious talk about The Others and whatnot is getting infuriating. My grade: B -

VERONICA MARS - Great stuff this week, again, as the mysteries continue to pile on. I hope they don't go end up making Veronica TOO unlikable though, as they are treading that line of her being a paranoid smartass where at times you take the position of her father and just want someone to put her in her place. Still, TV right now doesn't get much better. My grade: A-

SMALLVILLE - The attempt to being in Aquaman (as a green and orange-clad surder-dude no less) was kind of cheesy (kind of inevitable, I guess), but there was some good stuff here including EVIL Lex and some nice interaction between Clark and Lois. And ya gotta love the little in-jokes, like the reference to the JLA (the Junior Lifeguards Association, hahaha). So far this season is progressing well, but I am still hoping that it's only uphill from here. My grade: B


Well as I try to get pumped up for my assignment tommorow, I am reminded of the importance of a good pump-up song to get you out of bed and ready to kick ass in the morning. So what are my ... TOP 10 PUMP UP SONGS OF ALL TIME?!?!

1.) Thunderstruck - AC/DC
2.) Princes of the Universe - Queen
3.) Party Hard - Andrew WK
4.) For Whom The Bell Tolls - Metallica
5.) All Around The World - ATC
6.) Astrocreep - Rob Zombie
7.) Kick Some Ass - Stroke 9
8.) Welcome to the Jungle - Guns N' Roses
9.) The Kids Aren't Alright - The Offspring
10.) Higher Power - Boston

Okay, that is just a small list, there's plenty more I could probably add (Andrew WK's entire first album alone is basically one long pump up song, and just about anything by AC DC is up there). But never underestimate the importance of hearing the right song in the AM to shake off the cobwebs and get the adrenaline a-flowing. And if all else fails, just blast Real American (Hulk Hogan's patriotic theme song), rip your shirt, and begin flexing for all the Hulkamaniacs, brother.

Alright, little dudes. Big day tommorow, so I've got to pull it back a notch, if ya know what I mean. But hey, if you talk to me in the next few weeks and I begin acting like an uptight corporate stooge and not like my usual self, I give you permission to slap me and say "Come off it, man!" Even if I'm working for 'em, ya still gotta fight the man.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

"My Name Is Danny Baram. I Am A Bounty Hunter."

Back in the saddle again.

Just as a point of interest: as of this morning I am obsessed with the song "I Need A Lover (Who Won't Drive Me Crazy)" by John Cougar Mellencamp. I don't know why, except that last night I heard it playing in the soundtrack of some really cheesy early 80's movie on TV and have yet to get it out of my head.


So the countdown begins to the big Assignment. This week is being spent in the ticket office at NBC guest relations, answering phone calls from crazy people and stuffing envelopes and stuff. I do miss out on seeing some cool stars / bands (namely my sports hero, Sir Charles Barkley, tommorow and Weezer on Thursday) on Leno, but hey at least it gets me on a more regular sleep / waking up schedule so as to prepare me for the next few months that will most likely see me getting to work early and leaving late. And it creates some much needed away-time between me and the ol' page program polyester.

Other than that I'm just biding my time until Monday. I just hope that my biggest fear doesn't occur where I walk into the primetime development offices on Monday and they're like "um, and you are ...?"

But anyways, thanks again to everyone for your congratulations. I have no idea what to expect really, but hopefully it shall all be good.


Just another example of how sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do - I did, in fact, buy the Batman Begins deluxe edition DVD today, the day of its release. I wasn't going to, but my brother called me as I was driving home from work, from Best Buy in Boston, and told me of his own trek to purchase the long-awaited 2-disc deluxe edition (with packed-in comic book). Well he got my blood flowing despite my weary post-work state, and I quickly detoured towards Best Buy in search of my own copy of Batman bliss. Of course, this being the outskirts of Hollywood, they were sold out of the special edition, with only the barebones regular edition left for sale. So I went to Circuit City. Also out. So I went to the mall, and to like 5 different stores there. Finally at Suncoast Video I found a coveted copy. Sure, it was without the Best Buy-exclusive holographic DVD case, but dammit all, there was no going back now - I had to have it. Ah, the plight of the hardcore fanboy.

Speaking of kewl stuff, a seriously BIG KUDOS to, of all things, TIME MAGAZINE. Why? Well in their latest issue they have an article about the 100 greatest novels of the modern era. And what is included on the list? None other than WATCHMEN, the graphic-novel masterpiece by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. This canonical work DESERVES to be mentioned alongside the works of other, more traditional literary giants. Look, I minored in English in college, and I've read my share of the great books of modern literature. Of everything that I have ever read, ever, WATCHEMEN is, maybe, my favorite. I'm not going to say definitively that it is, but it's up there, and it truly is to comics what something like say Ulysses is to novels - an incomparable work that fully takes advantage of its medium. Try as they might to make a movie version, Holywood can never hope to replicate the real Watchmen experience in film, because this is a work that is wholly comic book, through and through. But seriously, if you've never read Watchmen, READ IT. Go to Borders and buy it. Find out why Alan Moore is one of the greatest literary minds of all time. Find out why Dave Gibbons is one of the greatest illustrators and storytellers. Find out who watches the Watchmen.


- Saw DOMINO over the weekend, and while at first the film annoyed me, and at times confused the hell out of me, overall I came away thinking "hmm, that actually kinda kicked ass." This movie has gotten A LOT of bad press, and people keep describing it as a love it or hate it type of film. But while I didn't love it, I definitely enjoyed it a lot, and I think that behind the crazy psychedellic cinematography there is actually a pretty deep character study going on. To sum up my opinion on director Tony Scott's approach to this film - it is undeniably excessive. The movie plays like one long music video, and every movement is cut to carry the utmost dramatic weight, even if all that's happening is a blink of Domino's eyes. While it can be cool at times when it's more appropriate, like the final, frenetic action-packed showdown, most of the time I think that Domino could have benefitted from a somewhat toned-down directorial style. At first, the crazy colors, hyperkinetic cuts, and nonsensical editing almost totally took me out of the movie, but eventually, I got sucked in. Part of that was because of the awesome cast. Contrary to other reports, Kiera Knightly is pretty effective as Domino Harvey. Sure, she's small and waifish, but she nails the whole angsty disaffected punk-rock rich girl bounty hunter thing. She's like some crazy cyberpunk videogame character come to life. Mickey Rourke rules, in a part he was born to play as a tough as nails bounty hunter. Christopher Walken is hilarious as a forgetful TV show exec. Let's stop right there for a second. Rourke and Walken kicking ass - how can you wholly dismiss a movie when it has that going for it? Oh yeah, you've got some unlikely, great comedy relief from Mo'nique, and from Brian Austin Green and Ian Ziering, a pair of 90210 alums playing themselves, as well. And then, you've got the script from Donnie Darko guru Richard Kelly, which yes, is at times bogged down by Scott's manic directing job, but really shines through in key moments. The first time I thought "yeah, now THAT'S Richard Kelly" was the totally tangential but very funny scene with Monique's character appearing on Jerry Springer - totally surreal and reminiscient of Patrick Swayzee's oddball scenes in Donnie Darko, this is where the movie starts to find its feet and suck you in and actually start to MEAN something. Basically, this is a story about somebody's life, one that is pretty tragic and bleak, being turned into fodder for others to take advantage of - whether its men in lust, fellow bounty hunters, TV producers, the FBI, or mobsters, everyone wants a piece of Domino Harvey basically just because she's a girl with a gun who knows how to use it. Overall, this is a worthwhile movie, and hey, despite the negative reviews it got an ovation in the theater where I saw it as the closing credits, featuring the real Domino Harvey, rolled. If you can get past the confusing, surreal nature of the story, and Playstation game on an acid trip (er, mescaline trip, to be specific about it) approach to filmmaking that Scott employs here, there is a pretty good, even thought-provoking, movie hiding underneath. My grade: B


Not much worth going into detail about right now. Earl was decent, Office had a pretty lackluster episode this week considering how good it's been lately, and Gilmore was kind of treading water but had a very nice cliffhanger ending. My grades: Earl: B -, The Office: C+, Gilmore: B

- Been Watching DA ALI G SHOW Season 2. Holy crap, funniest thing ever. Borat straddles the line of tastelessness and I've never laughed so hard at almost anything. If you have yet to experience ALI G, and you like to laugh, check out the DVD's. Otherwise you are just really missing out. Booyakasha.

Alright, I am falling-down tired right now. And tommorow it's more giving bad directions to NBC to people coming from LAX. Just remember: IT'S ALL STREET PARKING, WE DON'T HAVE A FRIGGING LOT!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

"Well, I stand up next to a mountain ..." ASSIGNMENT NEWS and MORE, MORE, MORE!

Finally ...!

I have an assignment at NBC!

So after a series of increasingly intense interviews, I figured it was time to once again play the waiting game while the Powers That Be mulled over their choice for the Primetime page assignments. But (gasp!), their decision as rendered with surprising quickness, and somehow, someway, I actually got the job! Yes, I can now proudly announce that next Monday I'll start work at NBC's primetime development department, basically as an assistant to an assistant of the VP of series development. Sure, it will mostly be grunt work, but I'll be hanging with the big dogs, so who knows where this could lead. It could be a big step, or it could be that in three months time the assignment is over and I'm back to giving tours. Who knows. But whatever, it's got a lot of potential, that's for sure.

So here's a quick FAQ to answer those burning questions you may have.

Q: What is primetime development?
A: Basically, as I understand it so far, it's the dept. that evaluates the shows that NBC has in the pipeline, and decides what to go forward with and what to give the axe to. They meet with writers, producers, etc. to determine what shows will be finding a home on NBC.

Q: Will I now be raking in the big bucks?
A: Nope. The big-time cash-money will not yet be a-flowin', as I'm still an NBC Page and still subject to our rear-inducingly low paid-by-te hour salaries, and still eligible to be pulled to give the occasional tour or work the occasional Leno, Ellen, or Carson, so I am not retiring the ployester uniform just yet. But I'l ldefinitely be working A LOT more hours than I am now. (Every part of me doesn't like that prospect, except the part that likes to get paid. Damn the part of me that still refuses to enjoy waking up early! This isn't college anymore ...)

Q: How soon can we expect big changes at NBC?
A: Almost immediately. Within days I plan on implementing a full-scale house-cleaning of the network. We'll be scrapping Martha, ditching Law and Order, and putting Surface to rest. In their place will be "Cyborg Doctor," " Real Animal Cage Fights," and "The Danny Baram Funtime Hour."

Seriously, it's been a long and sometimes grueling quest to navigate the rough waters of the NBC page program, and now finally I can take full advantage of its opportunities and go on assignment. So I think this calls for a:


And hey, thanks to all my fellow pages and other friends who were so supportive and who were rooting for me. If they only knew how much money I had to fork over to get this assignment ... KIDDING! But yeah, it was kind of funny how on Wed. I didn't even step into the page offices until like 2 pm, and so everyone knew about it before I did, and was just waiting around to see my reaction. In other circumstances I may have broke down and wept like a schoolgirl, or dropped to my knees and pumped my fists to the heavens in a Michael Jordan meets Mick Jagger-like gesture, but really the whole suddenness of the thing just took me off guard, and I didn't even know what to think. Of course, having been raised by neurotic Jewish parents, I was quickly thinking things like "how am I gonna screw this up?" and "will this interfere with my daily eating habits?" Oy.

Before I get too sappy for ya', there's nothing like a nice grim n' gritty Jewish holiday to put things in perspective, namely Yom Kippur, and its yearly reminder that we are all sinners and need to pray for the sanctity of our very souls. So yes, I chose to bask in the glory of my new with-assignment status by going to synagogue, fasting, and asking forgiveness from God for a virtual cornucopia of sins that I may or may not have (but probably did) commit in the last year.

Honestly, I think that Yom Kippur is kind of an annual wake up call to look at the big picture and actually consider questions like "Am I a good person or a total a-hole?" I think that the whole world should be forced to observe Yom Kippur and actually look inward with some degree of accountability for one's own behavior. Of course, it's probably the ones who are actually decent people who even bother to feel guilty about the stuff they've done wrong, while the real jerks are able to remain that way because they probably aren't really inclined to pause to really consider themselves, let alone spend the majority of a day in a synagogue fasting and praying for forgiveness.


I hope that everyone has a Shana Tovah - a sweet and happy new year. May everyone remain happy and healthy. May the world arrive at a better place than it is now. Let our country - America, Israel, and all others who practice freedom work together towards common goals under strong and wise leadership. Let us all enjoy the company of friends and family. Let us strive to be good people and to practice Tikun Olam - the healing of the world.

Alright, well there's my Yom Kippur spiel.



Aside from all this assignment rigamaroll, it's been a pretty cool week at The Tonight Show.

Aside from seeing The Killers kick ass earlier this week, and other cool stars like The Rock, yesterday I got to check out Ms. Veronica Mars herself, Kristen Bell, as she appeared on Leno. Decent interview, though it was pretty short and not much conversation about the show, which I am sad to say seemed to be mostly unknown and/or unappreciated by the Tonight Show crowd. Too bad, because ...


- This week's VERONICA MARS was, once again, awesome! Man, I agree with some others who say that this season is getting REALLY dark. But, I love it. Man, this week's darkly comical scene with Mr. Casablancas being forced to flee his company via helicopter after being exposed for real estate fraud - that was great! Dark, sure, but pretty topical too. I think part of the reason for this show's greatness is that it really does capture the zeitgeist, ya know? Scandalous actors, class warfare, shady businessmen - Veronica has it all. And oh yeah, unlike it's 9 pm Wed. competition, LOST, this show HAS a building, growing, spider-web of a mystery that I actually have complete faith in. You don't get much more tightly-plotted than this - subplots coming out the ears, all weaving together to form ... could it be? The best show on TV right now? Check it out and see what you think. My grade: A

- Yeah, like I said, LOST is totally struggling right now in my eyes. This week's ep was just SO .... SLOOOWWWWWWWWW. Even the presence of DJ Qualls couldn't save a boring series of Hurley-based flashbacks that really added nothing to the overall character. This is a typical LOST conversation lately:

CHARLIE: Tell me about the hatch.
LOCKE: Okay.
CHARLIE: What's in it?
LOCKE: A button. You have to keep pressing it.
CHARLIE: Or what?
LOCKE: Something bad happens.
CHARLIE: How do you know?
LOCKE: I have faith.
CHARLIE: Oh, cool.

Sorry, but this sucks. This show is on a path to really sucking. If the characters and mysteries of the island hadn't been built up so well through most of last season, I would have no patience for this current wave of lameness. My grade: C

- Meanwhile, SMALLVILLE is enjoying a second renaissance, apparently. A third really good episode in a row? Whaaa?!?! Lots of stuff happening here, but the case is holding things together nicely, and they are all doing a pretty SUPER (ahem) job of bringing these characters to life. The ongoing plot threads are actually COOL and INTERESTING right now, unlike last season, and the stakes are higher, and the show just seems more mature, yet still more fun than most other stuff on TV (see LOST, where it seems to pain the writers to actually have to deal with a little thing called PLOT). My grade: B+

- Oh yeah, I give a big JEER to TV GUIDE for changing its classic format to a new magazine-sized look. Unfortunately, the articles are still mostly craptastic fluff pieces, and unlike its much cooler and more respected British equivalent, the venerable Radio Times, TV Guide is hardly the place to go to get cutting edge news or reviews. At least they used to have the handy, pint-sized format going for them. Now, nada. What a waste of paper. And this is coming from someone who used to eagerly await the Fall Preview issue each year (what, you can't be surprised by that ...).


- Why the lack of political commentary these days, you ask? Well, our current national scene is so pathetic that there's really no need for me to comment, as the failings and flaws of the Bush administration are now painfully obvious to just about all but the most hardened observers. All I know is that I shudder to think about the monumental rulings that will be coming from our Bush-league Supreme Court in the next few years and even decades (as once yer Supreme Court, it's 4 Lyfe, baby).

It's the holy grail of geekdom - DC Comics' sequel to the Crisis On infinite Earths, the biggest, most important, most epic universe-spanning miniseries of the last 25 years. Actually, it's been exactly 20 years since the original Crisis, and so DC is breaking out the big guns once again and producing yet another earths-shattering series set to once again change the face of comicdom. So after literally YEARS of buildup (Unofficially kicked off in last year's heralded but controversial IDENTITY CRISIS), FIVE lead-in miniseries, and an alomst INFINITE number of scattered crossover issues in titles ranging from Superman to Wonder Woman to Robin, WAS IT WORTH THE HYPE?!?! After looking at those beautiful twin covers by Jim Lee and George Perez, after gazing open-mouthed at the stonning interior art by Phil Jiminez, and after rushing through a Geoff Johns-penned 30 page opener that read like 10 Hollywood blockbusters jammed into one book bursting with history, pathos, and emotion ... the answer is a resounding YES! This is it folks. You've got The Spectre running wild in Gotham, a fleet of OMACs gathering for something called Project: Truth and Justice, an intergalactic WAR going on in the Polaris galaxy, and wait - TWO Lex Luthors running around, each forming their own Society of Super-Villains? Dayum, business is really picking up, and we barely even know what the hell's going on yet, as this is just issue One of Seven. But I do know that the battle between the Society and the Freedom Fighters (can you say Uncle Sam (yes, THAT Uncle Sam) vs. Deathstroke?!?!) was awesome, and I can say that Batman telling Superman that "the last time you actually inspired anyone was when you were DEAD." is an early candidate for line of the year. And while the last page will have comix newbies saying "Huh?" and longtime fans beating their chests in spasms of joy, it definitely showed that big things are a-coming. So yeah, if you haven't picked up any comics in a while, or even if you've NEVER read a comic but wondered what was so special about 'em, then THIS is a good place to start, because, well, it's like the biggest comic book story ever! Or, at the least, it's gonna be one hell of a ride. My grade for Issue 1: A -. Butwhen all is said and done, this could be the opening chapter of something truly special. RUN OUT and BUY IT. And ask me if you have questions (you'll probably be wondering things like "what's a multiverse?" and "who is Conner Kent?"). I'll try to explain.

Okay, fanboys - now that I'm a bigtime NBC playa I got to go and do bigtime things, like sleep. Or wait, don't I get an assistant to do that stuff for me? Peace. Leave me a comment and I'll have it forwarded to my manager. Yeah ... that's the ticket.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Savin' The Drama For My Mama (and my blog)

So much drama in the N.B.C. ... (lay down your own rhyme here).

Man the last week of work/life has felt right out of Saved By the Bell or something. There's been barely a moment, until now, to just relax and take it all in, ups and downs and all.

Most importantly though, today was my interview for the NBC primetime series development assignment, basically a new assignment just created and in need of a ready and willing page to answer the call of duty. Honestly, who knows how it will turn out. I'm just ready for some kind of finality at this point, after having three interviews and one sudden-death application in the last few weeks. But I'm hoping for the best, so once again, all I can say is ... stay tuned.

Today was kind of cool in that I got a chance to explore the vast underground tunnels that lie below NBC studios in Burbank, connecting various sections of the facility via a series of labrynthine hallways and corridors. Kinda cool, though unfortunately we couldn't find the rumored secret rec room that Jay Leno and others are said to use on occasion.

Hey, lots of kickassness at the Tonight Show lately. Monday saw Kiera Knightly, aka the bounty hunter Domino, chat up Jay - posh Bri'ish accent and all. Plus, The Killers rocked out hard with that "I got soul but I'm not a soldier" song. Today saw The Rock electrify the millions ... and millions of The Rock's fans. Actually, today the studio was the emptiest I've ever seen it, as we had many empty seats. Hmm, just like the WWE circa 2001 - 2002. Well, despite their being like oly one or two hardcore Rock fans in the house, it was still a good interview. Interesting how Dwayne Johnson said he used to equate success with owning a Rolex watch. Wonder if that had something to do with the stylings and profilings of a certain Nature Boy? Oh, and how funny was the 11 year old kid from The Greatest Game Ever played doing impressions of Jay, dropping the People's Elbow, and talking about how he doesn't like the Yankees? Bwahahaha. Well, anyways Doom looks like a pretty sweet 1980's style shoot 'em up balls to wall action movie. Gotta love it. And then, tommorow, VERONICA MARS herself, Kristen Bell, makes an appearance, which should be a good time.

Yesterday however, I am sad to say that one of the ugliest, most disturbing incidents I 've ever seen since working at NBC occured while working with the Tonight Show line. I won't go into the full details, but basically, it just really saddened me that every day we let all manner of obnoxious hangers-on into the show, no questions asked, via their NBC connections or whatever, and yesterday, we denied entry to a group of ticket-holding women who were late to get in line. Why were they late? Because one of the women was just returning from her chemotherapy. She had a terminal form of cancer. She was dying, and she wanted to see The Tonight Show. I tried to reassure her that we'd get her into the show, and for all intents and purposes they SHOULD have gotten in. But bureauocracy and "the rules" got in the way, and before I knew it the studio was full and they didn't even get into the show, despite having "guaranteed" tickets. One of the most depressing things I've ever seen. Anyways, sorry for the downer, but it was one of those horrible moments that just made me want to leave work then and there. I guess stuff like that just happens sometimes.

Anyways, on to other things ...

Gotta say that tonight's GILMORE GIRLS was quite simply one of the best hours of TV I've seen in a long time. The mix of humor, heart, and genuine emotion came together to pack a really powerful punch. And what about the grandparents on this show, Richard and Emily? The actors who play these roles deserve so much credit for bringing these wonderful characters to life, and making you alternatively hate and love them as if they were a part of your own family. Man, what a powerful performance by Edward Hermann as Richard tonight (Emmy!) - I about stood up and cheered when he chewed out Logan's sleazy dad in defense of Rory. And how funny of a character is Kirk? There are few other shows out there that bring out the emotion of everyday life, the humor, the relationships, the struggles, like this one. What a great episode. My grade: A

MY NAME IS EARL continues to ride the line between mildly funny and really really clever/funny. I don't know, it just isn't clicking on all cylinders at this point. Once again there were some decently funny moments tonight, but mostly it's just recycled sitcom plots dusted off and fed to Earl - a breakout character in search of some good situations to bring the comedy. My grade: C+

THE OFFICE on the other hand is really hitting its stride. Another almost painfully dark episode that still managed to be awkwardly hilarious. Dwight is now officially the breakout character of the show, and the writing seems to keep improving to include a plethora of memorable / quotable lines with each new episode. My grade: B+

Tommorow: INFINITE CRISIS is here!

- Oh, the humanity!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Now You're Playing With Power

Well this was one of those weekends that I'm going to need the week to recover from.

First of all ... KNOTT'S SCARY FARM on Friday. A horrifyingly good time was had by all, but I have to say that by the time I got home, at an hour past 3 am, I was so unbelievably tired. I'm talking cannot even think straight tired. As in, I slept most of the next day tired. I guess that's just the plight of the working man. But anyways, I definitely recommend Knotts in October. The haunted mazes were pretty sweet, and the place was just dripping with Halloween atmosphere. The "Carnival of Carnivorous Clowns From Outer Space in 3-D" was definitely a highlight, like something out of some insane post-Ringling Brothers acid trip. Also gotta love "Lore of the Vampire" (complete with goth nightclub scenes!) and "Red Beard's Revenge," as you simply can't go wrong with undead pirates. Also gotta recognize the awesomeness that was the "Ghostrider" wooden rollrcoaster, which despite a way-too-long line was awesomely intense, old-school style.

So yeah, it was a scary good time, except for one brief incident involving an asshole security guard who almost kicked me out of the park for no reason, because he thought I was cutting in line, when all I did was leave the line for one minute before coming back and joining my friends. As someone who deals with lines of people every day, I could see the absurdity in not letting someone rejoin their party in line (hence the fact that at the Tonight Show we ask people to tell us if people are missing from their party in line so we can account for that), and so I wasn't having any of it. Luckily, this power-mad jerk didn't get his way and I was able to remain in line, but I did have to speak with this guy's superiors, and though they tried to explain that the guy was only doing his job (what? his job was to be a dick and harass people?), they clearly saw that he was overstepping his bounds and allowed me to stay in line. But hey, I came close to getting kicked out of Knott's Berry Farms for no reason whatsoever. Gotta love the the idiots who think it's their perogative to ruin others' good times just so they can feel important. Oh well, that one incident didn't come close to putting a damper on the evening, as despite that and also my extreme fatigue it turned out to be a memorable NBC page excursion.

Saturday I mostly did nothing but I did get out to Barney's Beanery in Hollywood to help celebrate Patrick D's birthday with a variety of recent BU alumni. Once again, good times.

Oh and how about those Red Sox? Dammit, wha' happened? I guess that it's only fitting for a team such as the Sox that winning a World Series turned out to be a one-time-only deal, but they could have at least made a better run for it. And dayum, talk about a long game, how about that Houston-Atlanta game? See, this is why I am not a huge baseball fan. This game was so freakin' long and slow. Sure, it was cool to see Clemens kicking ass out of the bullpen, but baseball really should have some type of sudden death situation to prevent games from lasting this long. I almost wish there was a time limit for pitchers between pitches - do you really need a full minute or two between every pitch? While there's nothing like being at a baseball game live and in person, some of these games are just painful to watch on TV, at least to me.

With baseball winding down though I am starting to look forward to the NBA's return, and I hope that this season will be a real changing of the guard, with teams like Pheonix and Cleveland and Orlando finally stepping up to the top of the league. But of course, the old stalwarts like San Antonio will likely once again be the favorites. As long as the Lakers continue to suck, all will be right with the world. Sad though how all my old favorite players are now retired and the Shaqs, Duncans, Iversons, and Garnetts are suddenly left as the elder statesmen of the league.


SNL: taped sat.'s ep and watched it ... sorry but it still beings the suck. Some of the new ppl seem to have some talent and potential, which is good. But the writing is still piss poor and the sketches still go on for way too long despite not being funny. My grade: C -

Veronica Mars: Wow, saw the 2nd ep of the season on Saturday and it really started to suck me into the new mystery. Cool, if not totally unexpected ending, and they are really building towards something big. My grade: A -


Friday's tonight show saw Rene Russo, Dominic Monahgan of Lost, and Wynonna Judd. Who knew that Wynonna kind of rocks? Not me, but I'll fess up to it, the woman is large, in charge, and can kick some ass when called upon.

This week on the Tonight Show: THE ROCK, KRISTEN BELL, THE KILLERS, and WEEZER! Hot damn, business is picking up.

But what about those ASSIGNMENTS?!?! Still no word, hopefully something soon, hopefully something good.


- Nerds unite! Wednesday is the big day, when finally, the INFINITE CRISIS is upon us!

- Thursday: The Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. Definitely gonna be some hardcore praying going on.

- Next weekend: The first ever All-Star All-Page All-Skillz Basketball game?!?!


Thursday, October 06, 2005

"Has anyone seen that movie Tron?"

Here I am, rock me like a hurricane.

And in answer to this post's title, I say: "No, no, no, no, no, yes ... I mean, no."

Man, this week has been like one of those weeks in college with 5 papers due and no sleep and lots of late nights and Pepsi and pizza and stuff.

First of all though, SHANA TOVAH to all my fellow members of the Jew Crew. Hope everyone had a happy Rosh Hashanna and a sweet new year.

I did attend services this year at Temple Emanu El in Burbank, and it was definitely a kind of surreal experience to be going alone to a strange synagogue on Rosh Hashanna. But at least I did get to do some much-needed praying, because you know how it is, sometimes I gots to pray just to make it through the day. I did bump into the very kind Grodsky family, whose Passover seder I partook in thanks to their generosity back in April. They were nice enough to invite me to their home again for a post-services lunch, and though it was a little weird suddenly being forced into a social situation with a bunch of strangers, including the temple's rabbi and cantor, it was a nice time, and hey, it was something different, that's for sure.

Unfortunately my Rosh Hashanna eve, usually a time to do nothing at home and bask in the glow of a big meal and another Jewish holiday gone by, was spent frantically working on an application of sorts for the primetime programming assignment at NBC. I won't go into details, but it's just funny and weird how writing this relatively short thing became this huge endeavor. I felt so out of practice in terms of writing something on a deadline - it was definitely a college flashback moment. And it was just like old times, with a bottle of soda on one side and a bag of chips on the other - the accessories needed to help will myself to get the application done before it was due the following day. Yeah, it was definitely a sign that I'd been out of school for over a year now.

Otherwise I've had a pretty light schedule at work. Been working the Tonight Show and Ellen. Saw Paul Walker on both shows, heard the same story about his encounter with a Portuguese Man O'War both times. Saw My Name is Earl's Jamie Pressly on Leno, and also the Drrty Girl herself, Christina Aguilara, on Ellen, performing a souldul melody along with piano legend Herbie Hancock. Saw George Clooney today on Leno - his new movie about Edward R. Murrow and the Joe McCarthy hearings looks pretty interesting - I've always been really intrigued by that particular historical era, especially the effects of McCarthyism and the media's response to it. Also saw Blue Man Group on Leno today, always cool, though their performance was a bit lacking this time around. Still, the musical highlight, and biggest surprise, for me recently was definitely a performance by American Idol's Constantine a few days ago, who did an awesome rendition of Queen's legendary Bohemian Rhapsody, backed up vocally by the cast of We Will Rock You - the Queen-based musical which I can testify kicks lots of ass. I am not an American Idol fan, but this was a really great performance of a classic song.

Basically I'm just going with the flow at work until I hear anything about these assignments. Until then I'm just trying to enjoy it while I'm here.


ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT: Hilarious episode. Super Dave Osbourne as Jeffrey Tambor's doppledanger! Scott Baio with the self-deprecating humor! Steve Holt! Charlize Theron! Tobias is a combination analyst and therapist - an analrapist!!! Genious I tell you, genious! Watch this show, please! My grade: A

MY NAME IS EARL: Best episode of Earl yet, in my opinion. Good mix of humor and plot, best laughs of the series so far, and the cast is really starting to shine. The quality and sharpness of the writing still has some catching up to do with the great premise and awesome cast, however. My grade: B+

PRISONBREAK: Hot damn, that was some intense action. This is easily the best new show of the season, with an awesome cast, the most evil, vile villains on TV (that white supremicist redneck guy is FREAKY). Lots of cool action, great character moments. Of all the FOX shows that are going ot be preempted by baseball, this is going to be the hardest one to miss. My grade: A

GILMORE GIRLS: Man I love the characters on this show, they are just so real and well-developed. That being said, I hate Logan and I can't wait for next episode when the grandparents side with Lorelai and lay the smackdown on that preppy jerk. Yeah, I am pretty sucked into this show, good ep this week, they are really building things up well. My grade: A -

THE OFFICE: This may have been the darkest episode yet, and I like it. Rain Wilson is just kicking all kinds of ass as Dwight on this show, and he is easily becoming the standout character here, providing the best lines and biggest laughs. You honestly start to feel bad for Steve Carell here, which is a step forward in giving him as Michael some depth. The Jim character still annoys me though - so far Jim-Pam is no Tim-Dawn. My grade: B+

SMALLVILLE: I fully expected this episode to revert back to last season's suckiness after the awesome season opener, but lo and behold it was pretty good. Darn good even. The Lex versus Clark stuff here was really well done, and it's cool to see the antagonism between the two really develop. I can't believe how much less annoying Lana is now that she's rid of Jason and all that witch crap. Plus, some cool supervillains. My grade: A -

and finally ...

LOST: Okay, rant time. Now let me first say that yes, I am as hooked on this show as anyone. I can't deny that it has great characters, great production, and a mystery that keeps me coming back every week and eagerly anticipating each new episode. And yes, I understand that the writers must keep many things mysterious - nobody wants everything spelled out all at once. And I give them credit - this ep explained A LOT about the island's nature. BUT ... What the hell? Do they have to write the characters as morons for the sake of keeping things mysterious? In the wake of the big revelations about the island, is anyone talking about it? No, they are having philisophical debates about wheter to push a freaking button! It reminded me of that Ren and Stimpy episode where Stimpy can't decide whether or not to press the shiny red button that may or may not cause the universe to implode. Basically, while it was cool to see the Rsident Evil-style video explaining ever so vaguely the history of the island, the coolness of this was negated by a ton of things going on here that were just frustratingly moronic. It seems like the Lost writers are trying to channel Ray Bradbury and do these vague science fiction morality plays. But sorry guys, you are not Ray Bradbury - you can't have your characters seriously investigate the island one episode and then, when confronted with the answers, just act like nothing important has happened. The whole thing with "the others" is just stupid. Why doesn't anyone ask who these others are and where they come from? It's also kind of insulting that they are making the other group of survivors, in reality just ordinary people, look like these weird island savages just to make them seem dangerous. And the flashbacks this ep were kind of pointless as well. As much as I think that Terry O'Quinn may be the best actor on TV today, this ep's Locke-centric flashbacks just didn't have the punch or the pure greatness of earlier efforts like "Walkabout." As for the video ... sure, I was enthralled like everyone else, and I of course echoed Locke's sentiment that "we're going th ohave to watch that again." But come on, an "incident" happened? Please, explain. I don't know, it just feels like we are being jerked around here, and the writing of the show is reflecting a constant need to just throw stuff out there rather than set up a consistent and solid plot. But yeah, I am hooked, so I'm with this show for now. But damn if it isn't one of the most frustrating shows I've ever watched. My grade: C+

No Veronica Mars this week as it was preempted by baseball ...

Speaking of which, GO RED SOX.


It's an NBC Page trip to Knotts' Scary Farm! A fright-tastic time is sure to be had by all, even if I'm sure to be pretty tired by the time we enter the gates after a long day of pagedom.

Continuing with the theme of getting into the Halloween spirit, I leave you with a question to ponder: Addams Family or The Munsters? And why?

I gotta go with the Munsters. Why? One word: Grandpa.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Burbank's Burning - Birthday Aftermath - and: History of Violence Review

Well, well, well ...

Hellfire and brimstone! You may have heard that over the weekend these wildfires spread to right here in Burbank, and there was, as the song goes, fire on the mountain.

Want to say a quick thank-you to everyone who came out on Saturday to the Hard-Rockin' Birthday Bash. While it did prove to be a more-difficult-than expected endeavor to plan, it turned out to be a kickass time, so a big thanks to everyone who showed up and made b-day number 23 a memorable one. I'd say we had probably over 30 people who showed up at some point in the night, including solid representations from the NBC page program and from BU. So for those of you who came to rock, I salute you.

Now, it's back to reality. Or at least whatever passes for reality 'round these parts. This week should be eventful, as there may be some news regarding assignments at work, and of course the High Holidays kick into gear on Tuesday. And hey, it's October, which is kind of weird as here in sunny LA there's fires burning, as opposed to in New England, where a chill begins to permeate the air this time of year, the leaves begin to turn color and fall off the trees, and it really begins to, well, to feel like Halloween. But I do love Halloween (big surprise there), so irregardless of whether you're in Boston, Bloomfield, Burbank, or Bismark, crank up the scary music, eat some candy, do the Time Warp, and let the countdown begin.

One of the best things to do to mentally prepare oneself for the Halloween season is to set the right atmosphere by keying up some quality monster-jams. I know I have my "Halloween" category all lined up and ready to go on Winamp (yes, I still use Winamp). So, in honor of Halloween, I present to you:

DANNY'S TOP 13 SCARY-ASS ROCK SONGS (and no I don't mean in the way that Mmmbop or anything by David Hassehoff is scary - that's a whole other category):

1.) Alice Cooper - Feed My Frankenstein
2.) Michael Jackson - Thriller
3.) The Rolling Stones - Sympathy For the Devil
4.) Sam the Sham - Little Red Riding Hood
5.) Ozzy Osbourne - Bark At The Moon
6.) Iron Maiden - Fear of the Dark
7.) Rob Zombie - Living Dead Girl
8.) Ozzy Osbourne - Mr. Crowley
9.) Tool - My Shadow
10.) Kiss - God of Thunder
11.) Oingo Boingo - Dead Man's Party
12.) Metallica - Enter Sandman

and of course ...

13.) Bobby Picket and the Cryptkickers - The Monster Mash


Hey, I gotta tell you all about an amazing movie that everyone whould see ...

So here's my:


You know, it's been a long time since I've seen a movie that wasn't so much about plot or action as it was about IDEAS. And I don't mean narrow ideas like character studies, but big, epic, philisophical ideas. This is a movie about a man and his story, sure, but more than most movies, this is a film that works on a number of levels, telling a personal story that has huge, almost cosmic metaphorical meaning. Like the title suggests, this is a somewhat violent movie, but it's also ABOUT violence, about the nature of violence - how is it instigated? How is it propagated? How is it both glorified and condemned - considered a necessary evil but also a tool of righteousness? On one level, this movie is about Viggo Mortensen as Tom Stall - a Rockwellian family man who kills two criminals to defend his small-town diner, and then becomes a reluctant hero, and then a target for some angry mobsters seeking revenge. But in the course of this absorbing movie, directed with an air of detached surreality by David Cronenberg, the questions begin to mount, and they begin to lead to a number of startling revelations about who Tom Stall really is, and how a seemingly ordinary man was capable of such efficient displays of violence. But Tom Stall's story soon becomes something more - a parable about the nature of violence. It's a story about survival of the fittest, and about how civilized societies do so many uncivil things in the name of justice. And it's a story about America - about how under a facade of innocence and moral purity lies an inherent predilication for violence and an unhealthy obsession with the idea that might makes right. Yep, this movie gives you something to think about.

What makes it all work though are the phenomenal performances from the actors. Viggo Mortenson is superb - his transformation from everyman to violent antihero is subtle but shocking at the same time. And Viggo's amazing performance is only augmented by the brilliant way i nwhich Cronenberg lays out the story. Like a good book, or like the graphic novel which this is based on, we see scenes from the first half of the movie parallelled later on with contrasting scenes, creating startling juxtapostions. For example, there is an almost uncomfortably realistic sex scene at the beginnning of the movie - later on, a similarly uncomfortable scene occurs, but this one completely different from the first - showing Tom Stall's transformation from a loving husband and father into an animalistic, almost primitive aggressor. It's almost a little hard to watch at times, but there's some pretty profound stuff going on. But don't get me wrong, this may be a pretty deep movie but it doesn't skimp on the ass-kicking, which often comes in the form of Ed Harris, who is creepily cool here as a scarred mobster with a mysterious vendetta against Tom. Harris, as usual, is great, and owns the screen whenever he appears. And then there's William Hurt, an underrated actor who is one of my favorites from his roles in movies like Body Heat and Dark City. In a very short amount of screen time, Hurt absolutely rules it, acting his ass off and almost stealing the entire movie. I won't give away who he plays, but let's just say that business really starts to pick up once he enters the picture. In addition, the rest of the supporting cast is great. Maria Bello is great as the wife of Tom Stall. She takes the part and really makes the most of it, and becomes a lot more than just the typical suffering / angsty wife-to-the-hero character. She pours her heart into this role and leaves an impression. Honestly, I think that Viggo, Ed Harris, William Hurt, and Maria Bello could and maybe should all be nominated for Oscars for this movie - that's how good they are here. Special note must also go to the young actor who plays Stall's teenage son, as he gets in some really good scenes, ones which play a crucial part in developing one of the movie's key themes - namely - like father, like son?

I think it's been so long since this type of movie has been released to the mainstream that it kinda sucks that people don't seem to know what to make of it. It's like, what if David Lynch released Blue Velvet or Mulholland Drive today, in this age where every theater seems to be overrun with loud, obnoxious moviegoers? Like Blue Velvet, this is an unsettling, slightly surreal movie that does have a lot of black humor. But it's also too bad that people will see this in crowded theaters and hear people laughing at serious moments as a defense mechanism for coping with some unsettling or shocking scenes. Oh well, I'd still urge you to go see this in the theater, because it's a really, really great movie - one of the best of the year and one of the best and most thought-provoking movies to come out in a long while. Plus, it's pretty kickass to boot. My grade: A


Quick shout out to MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE, which despite what some will say, is still DAMN FUNNY and clever, as evidenced by its strong season premiere, which was a pretty hilarious episode about the family's trip to the Burning Man festival. So yes, Frankie Muniz is pretty odd looking at this point, but who cares as long as the show is still good? My grade: A-


Alright - tommorow I once again must face a long day manning the dreaded NBC TICKETBOX OF DOOM. Sucks, but what are you gonna do about it?

And let me just say: