Thursday, March 30, 2006

"What You Want Natalie?" -- Lost, V. Mars, and more

Damn, great night of TV last night.

First of all -- LOST:

This episode was mostly great for one reason -- the brilliant acting of Terry O'Quinn as Locke. The man is simply uber-talented - he imbues John Locke with a quiet humanity and inner demons that makes watching his performances simply a joy. Like I've said, I've been a fan of the actor since his understated turn as Peter Watts on Millenium. While O'Quinn doesn't quite have a presence the caliber of the great Lance Henrikson to bounce off of on Lost, he does have the good firtune of playing one of the coolest, most complex, and most interesting characters to be seen on TV in a while. So while an analysis of this show sees yet another foray into Lost's typical meandering techniques of having little actually happen - it stalled for time, had tons of red herrings, and never quite revealed anything (as usual!), who really cared - as this was a really, really entertaining episode. Still, even the most diehard Lost fan has to admit that it was a bit of a cop out to IMMEDIATELY contradict last week's cliffhanger by having Henry Gale assure us that his chilling statement to end last week's episode was only a joke. Then, we end this week's ep with pretty much the EXACT SAME cliffhanger - Henry Gale is an Other! Dun dun dun ... Only Lost could get away with that type of backpeddling. But on the plus side, as I was saying - the conflict in the hatch as the doors sealed shut and the timer counted down to zero was exciting due to the great acting chops of the players involved. And the flashbacks, featuring the always enjoyable Katey Segal, were typically great - heartfelt, moving, great stuff. All around, this was an exemplary episode of Lost thanks to the great stuff they do with their characters and the great cast. Plotwise, as a self-contained episode this had some good conflict, some good tension, but still suffering from Lost's usual decompression. But yeah, great stuff overall - it's episodes like this that remind one that this show actually won an Emmy for Best Drama. My grade: A -


Wow - this may have been one of the all time great single episodes of the series. Just great stuff, and one of the best, msot biting performances yet from series star Kristen Bell - she needs to be in consideration for a Best Actress Emmy, after this ep I am finally convinced of that. In an ycase, how could one NOT love an episode that featured the actors behind Arrested Development's George Michael AND Maebe in supporting roles. Both are really talented young actors, and it was awesome to see them in different roles here, and both did a great job. We had the return of Veronica's ex-boyfriend Troy from season 1, who has always been an entertaining character. And multiple TAZER shots. Niiiiice. Great stuff with Logan and his continuing problems. Excellent main plot, cool subplots with Kieth Mars and the sherriff. Just an amazing episode all around that crackled with sharp dialogue and witty banter. If this is a sample of what A Veronica Mars set on a college campus would be like, then I say bring it on. Because in one episode, the show just did for the dark underbelly of college campus life what it always does for high school - turn it into a a shadowy, noirish dangerous place begging for someone like Veronica to expose its resident cheats and crooks and con-artists. Awesome ep - please, watch this show, soon to be on Tuesdays, so we can get that third season. My grade: A+

- What else?


- A lot of interesting debates going around these halls about how to handle the so-called "viral" spread of NBC-Uni content like SNL's Lazy Sunday or Natalie Portman rap sketches. Both were everywhere on the net following the oriinal SNL airings - but should we crack down on this or simply bask in the net-generated buzz? I definitely have my opinions - what do you guys think?

- Speaking of net-generated buzz, how 'bout this Snakes on a Plane phenomena? It's amazing - we're in an age where a whole generation is being entertained by small bites of internet content - pop culture parodies, satires, subversive humor .... So is this the first full-length movie to really take advantage of this new pop culture paradigm? The first movie spawned of the age of YouTube and MySpace? Will be VERY interesting to see how this one does in the box office. I know I'll be in line, if only to see Samuel L. Jackson PISTOL-WHIP some dude with a freaking snake, as seen in the sublime teaser trailer currently all over the web.

- Speaking of movies - anyone seen the Superman Returns cover of the latest Wizard magazine? Holy schneikies - TERRIBLE. Please lord let this movie not suck.

- Hmmm ... PEARL JAM is coming to LA in July ... any interested parties?

- I can't wait to finally hear CHINESE DEMOCRACY. It's only been 500 years in the making.

- Damn, why isn't THANK YOU FOR SMOKING playing anywhere nearby?

- I finally ordered a new cell phone - and am getting it essentially for free thanks to Verizon's new every two deal. Yep, it's two years later and my current cell phone completely sucks. The battery now only lasts like half an hour for some reason and it's about to fall apart. Literally. For like 5 months now the whole back panel is only attached thanks to the magic of scocth friggin' tape. That new phone cannot get hear soon enough.

- WTF? Why is it, how is it, that the DMV nearby me is open only on the third Saturday of every month? How can they do that? Why should one have to take off from work just to go to the DMV? Why do DMV's suck so badly? And guess where I'll be on the third Saturday of April? That's right, in Bloomfield, CT! So if I happen to get pulled over (please God no) before I get my new CA license, I will tell them that I work unlike most people in LA and therefore am waiting for the third Saturday of the month to go get my CA license. Man, I wish I had done this research BEFORE i got pulled over last time- I would have had plenty of ammunition with which to chew out that cop.

- The weekend draws ever closer ...

- Back to work. Back to the grind. Back in the saddle. So long, for now, until the next time.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Telling It Like It Is: 24, Politics, and more Rants O' Doom

So here I am, rocking like a hurricane.

Last night a few fellow aspiring writers and I got together for a first-ever writer's group meeting, and despite pouring rain and the usual inclination to go home after work and collapse in a shriveled heap of immobility, we did get a small handful of people out and about to discuss all things writing-related.

And you know what? Sure, I wish more people had come. Sure, I wish we'd had a better location to meet. And sure, I wish that people were more centralized here so it'd be easier to get a group of people to actually come together on a weekday. But in spite of that, just the sheer act of talking creatively for a change, of talking about structure and characters and plot as if they really matter - well, that in and of itself was great. Because that's what I'm here for, isn't it?

I mean sure, moving to LA is a LIFE decision. It involves living in a new city, meeting new people, and getting adjusted to a whole new environment. But why am I living here and not NYC or Boston or Alberquerque? Because I want to be a writer, and this is the place where I'm trying o do that. So here's a little pointed wake-up call to anyone who has plenty of time to party at any given chance but no time to actually get down to business and get things done - it's time to make it happen. But of course, so many of the people out here just somehow fall into entertainment. They love showbiz because of the parties, the gossip, the allure of celebrity and the contact high of being around all of it. Honestly, I could care less about any of that stuff. And I hope that I can get back in touch with my real reasons for being out here and find more like-minded people who live to CREATE STUFF. I mean, at BU I have to say that I got so much out of my time as a member of OVEREXPOSED, our student sketch comedy show. To an outsider looking in, the whole thing was kind of pathetic. We had no actual TV station, barely shot anything, and had to struggle to assemble a barebones crew for every shoot. But for the writers of O/X, it was a different story. We met every week, and every week at least a few people had new material. Because we all loved to write, we all loved comedy, and we all got a kick out of having our stuff read aloud and sharing our ideas and being creative. So THAT is what I'm trying to recreate here - a little of that old O/X magic. I mean, if a bunch of guys can write stuff every week with little to no hope of any of it ever actually being made, then why can't we get people to write stuff when it is actually an integral part of our career goals, and we've come this far, to LA, why become complacent now?

I once read somewhere that the only way to make it as a writer is if you can't imagine yourself ever doing anything else as a career. So for those on the fence, there's something to think about.

There's my rant of the day.

Speaking of rants, sometimes you just need a good-old-fashioned head-bang-athon, you know? If you're feeling in the mood to jump around your apartment, thrash the devil horns and play some air guitar, I recommend the song "45" by Shinedown, which has just the right amount of anger and angst with which to channel all of one's rock n' roll energies. Another older song I've recently come across is "Bed of Nails" by Alice Cooper - man, that guy knew / knows how to rock. "I'll drop you like a hammer on a bed of nails!" Yeoooooow.

And again, speaking of rants - man am I tempted to go off on Bush. Once again, I feel like it's kind of pointless because, really, what more do I have to add to the discussion that hasn't already been said. But if you can still stand in support of our President - after his comments regarding how the matter of Iraqi withdrawel will be for the next President to decide ... I think it's clear to most at this point that whether you approved or disapproved of the war - Bush had ALWAYS planned on taking up arms against Iraq from the moment he got into office. Everything else - terrorism, the threat of WMD's - all of that was just after-the-fact justification for a war that was always in the cards. And you know what? Maybe people would have supported the war in a circumstance where our sole reason for it was to remove Saddam from power. You can certainly make an argument for that war. But at a time when we had a real, legitimate threat in the form of Al-Quaida, the less imminent threat of Saddam became our number one priority simply because it had always been in the cards. As we can now see thanks to recent documents printed in the NY Times, Bush had long settled on his decision before issues of UN resolutions had ever even come up. So a finger of shame on the American public for being so quick to listen to whatever the President, the media, or their friends tell them without scrutiny. And another finger of shame to Bush, but hey, he doesn't need me to tell him.

- An aside from all this ranting - I am now in a better mood after an excellent chicken sandwich from koo-koo-roos. Tasty and healthy? Sa-weeeet.

- I am also in the midst of watching a demo DVD of Real Housewives of Orange County for work. All I can say is ... Holy Lord. If I ever become a millionaire I am totally living in a NORMAL community, just my house will be filled with really sweet stuff.

Okay, enough about that ... here's what you've all been waiting for:


Prison Break:

Man, yet again a GREAT episode. Lincoln's near-execution was brilliantly done, and the back-to-business approach of Michael following the trauma sets the show back on a steady course towards the long-promised break out. Plus, ya gotta give props to an episode which so prominently features THE PSYCH WARD. Great performances all around as usual, and a lot of intriguing story possibilities beginning to open up. Looking forward to next week's flashback epsidoe, which should give some much-appreciated context and history to some of the characters. As for this episode, My Grade: A -


Once again, this episode was more than deserving of a hearty cry of: "Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn!" Great stuff with Jack confronting Audrey, with Jack finally displaying a rare hint of emotion. While a part of me was kind of hoping that Audrey would turn out to be evil, it did set up a very intense conflict between Jack and the Homeland Security people that proved very entertaining. Gotta love Jack Bauer's uncanny ability to RUN FASTER THAN FIRE in the closing sequence, and man, what an ending! We barely have time to grasp what had just happened, with Jack and his nemesis Bierko seemingly trapped in an exploding car and appearing to be blown to smithereens, when the familiar 24 countdown pops up and the episode is over - as always, to be continued. Awesome stuff, and the last 10 minutes or so, which crammed in more action than LOST has seen in a year in between two sets of commercial breaks, was simply great. Worthy displays of villainy by Bierko, awesome comradery in the field between Jack and Curtis (that look they gave each other to signal that it was ass-whupping time was great). And hey, Aaron Pierce, agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., had possibly his greatest moments yet as he singlehandedly took out an army of terrorists and rescued Wayne Pierce from certain doom, all the shile sporting a stoic, bemused look of pure badassness. BTW, where did Wayne get that BFG?!?! Dayum. Nice to see that one girl form Jack and Bobby (RIP) finding work at CTU, although do we really need yet ANOTHER wacky side character? Hmmm, in any case, awesome stuff, pure intensity, overflowing with gravitas. My grade: A

Tonight: LOST is back -- will it be another good episode or another letdown? The previews looked promising, and Terry O' Quinn as Locke looks to feature prominently, so that's usually a good sign. We shall see. VERONICA MARS is also new, and let's hope the ratings begin to rise as the show preps for its move to Tuesdays. Thursday, SMALLVILLE is finally back!

What else?

That's about all I've got right now. Busy weekend coming up and I've gotta get a new driver's license sometime soon. Ugh. But a lot of fun stuff coming up as well, and in a short matter of weeks I'll be home in CT for Passover. Thank god, because I have a hard enough time providing nourishment for myself under normal circumstances, let alone during an eight day period where I'm trying to keep kosher for Passover.

Alright. Time to ball, shot-call, regulate, playa-hate, drop rhyme, do time ... you know, the usual. Peace out, suckaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Anyways ... Veronica Mars, The Simpsons, The Inside Man, and More!

And I'm back.

Once again I just want to remind people though - the whole beauty of the blog-o-sphere is that it is the perfect medium for quick, spur of the moment, instantaneuous, unedited, unfiltered writing. And that's what I'm doing here. I'm not writing essays, columns, or well thought out arguments. I'm just writing as it comes to me. So please, don't read too much into anything I'm saying here, and realize that when the situation calls for it, you will get the occasional rant of doom ala my last entry. That's what the blog is for -- don't put much stock in it.

Let's roll.

FOX Sunday Night TV:

Malcolm in the Middle: Decent episode ... stuff with Hal and his poker-playing friends was funny, but the Malcolm/Dewey and Reese subplots were kind of bland. This show REALLY needs to do a few final episodes that are centered around Malcolm. Remember how he IS the title character? Remember how back in the day all the best epsiodes were centered around him and his escapdes? Like I've always said, this show deserves tremendous respect for what it's accomplished, but I want to see it go out with a bang. My grade: B -

King of the Hill: Wow, first off, gotta say that I'm very happy to see that this show is coming back for one more year. Now let's see if FOX will do the right thing and put it back on at 8:30 pm where it belongs and deserves to be. But yeah, tonight's ep was yet another outstanding entry that had a number of big laughs and a great premise (Khan tries a get rich quick scheme after getting fed up with his going-nowhere career). Vintage King of the Hill here, and ya gotta love the fact that the end is not quite as near as was once thought. My grade: A -

However ... damn, if only those Futurama rumors had proven true! For a few days, it looked like Fry, Bender, Leela, Zoidberg, and the rest were headed back to TV, and oh man would that have been amazing. But as of now looks like it's not gonna happen. Oh well, at least that show went out with an amazing and fitting final episode - even if it was continually screwed with by FOX. Long live Futurama!

The Simpsons: FINALLY, the event I had been waiting for -- RICKY GERVAIS WRITES THE SIMPSONS! Would it be the brilliance of The Office meets the brilliance of old-school Simpsons? Or would it be an odd clash of styles that continues the show's slide into mediocrity? Well, after hearing some negative reviews I lowered my expectations and braced myself for the worst. But wait! After a half an hour of continuous laughs, hilarious Gervais-isms combined with vintage Simpsons humor, and a coherant plot that was both funny, inventive, and heart-filled ... well, I am a believer! Gervais did it, by gum! I know this episode already has some haters - but screw 'em --- this was THE SINGLE BEST SIMPSONS EPISODE IN YEARS. Sure, there've been some pretty good eps this season, and every so often the sho has managed to pull out some old fashioned goodness ever since the decline began almost a decade ago. But at first, the show was still FUNNY, but NOT the show that we all remembered. Then it was just not funny, at least not consistently. But this was great. Lots of memorable dialogue, lots of great character bits, and even a song that was a match in comedy heaven -- Free Love on the Free Love Freeway meets Who Needs The Quickie Mart. Sure, the mix of styles was a bit awkward at times - Gervais' dialogue seemed trasnplanted from The Office rather than organic within the Simpsons universe. But it was still funny, so who cares. And the best thing was that for the first time in YEARS, I got that old urge to call up friends and say "Did You See The Simpsons?" as was commonplace in the glory years. Not as good as Season 3 to 8 quality, but far beyond much else we've seen in the teen years. Good stuff, good stuff - and I am pleased to give this episode a grade of A.

Family Guy: This ep was pretty freaking hilarious. Again, not much substance as has been the case of late, but the jokes were hitting on all cylinders tonight. "No, that's the Brady bunch. No that's Street Fighter." A Street Fighter joke! Yes! And that's all I got to say about that. My grade: B+


Veronica Mars:

This past Wednesday's episode was great - a tight mystery and tons of intriguing advancement with regards to the overarching season-long mystery. Logan is quickly becoming less of an outright villain and more of a multi-dimensional character whose motives are not quite clear cut. The Terrence Cook mystery is deepening nicely, and it's always great to see Ken Marino (of The State and Wet Hot American Summer fame - he was the "I Wanna Dip my Balls In It" guy), as a sleazy rival P.I.. Gotta love Charisma Carpenter as the sultry femme fatale with more going on than meets the eye, as always. And man, the show is just bursting with details, plot points, and clues that you just can't wait to see come together as the tapestry unfolds. This is a MUST-WATCH, and for all of you who are busy on Wednesdays watching the almighty LOST - fret no more - Veronica Mars moves to TUESDAYS in a few weeks, so all will be right with the world - that is, assuming people watch this show and it gets renewed, as it must, so it can find the success on the CW that a show of this quality rightly deserves. My grade: A

- Speaking of The State - why has Michael Ian Black been reduced to appearing in cheesy TV commercials? And also, when will the STATE come out on DVD? In this lifetime, please.

- Ah, sweet validation. You've got to love a publication with as good taste as Entertainment Weekly - whose latest TV-centric issue served as a nice reassurance that prominent publications like EW are capable of realizing the good stuff that people like me contantantly advocate to the brainwashed and oblivious masses. Among EW's top 10 dramas on TV were 24 (#1~!), Lost (#5), Gilmore Girls (#7), and yes, Veronica Mars (#9). In its Top Comedies were The Office (#2), sitting alongside other no-brainers like The Simpsons and The Colbert Report. Also included in the mag's list of the 84 Best TV Shows were Smallville, Conan O'Brien, Prison Break,and hey, even the dancing craziness of Ellen was included. Yeah, NBC's gotta be happy (And we are ...), as The Office, Scrubs, My Name Is Earl, Battlestar Galactica, Law and Order, Conan, The West Wing, Will and Grace, and Dr. Who all made the list. Sweet, we have EW's two best comedies. NBC wins.

But yeah, all the doubters who think I'm nuts for my support of Gilmore, Veronica Mars, or for my unbridled enthusiasm for all things 24 need only turn to this week's EW to see how right I am, baby. Because they just proved that they have pretty darn good taste.



Ah yes, the Spike Lee Joint. So it's a joint, not a film. Should I have different expectations going in? Not sure, but I do know that even from the commercials, you could tell that this would be a fairly, um, commercial movie as far as Spike Lee Joints go. So when I saw it at a free universal screening this weekend, it did kind of play out as Spike Lee does The Usual Suspects, which made for an odd juxtaposition of great character moments over a heist plot that never really quite comes together. I mean, take a look at the cast - you can't go wrong. Denzel does here what Denzel does best - the protypical Denzel character of too-cool-for-school law enforcer who is a straight-shooter but doesn't quite play by the rules - an Everyman who happens to moonlight as a badass man's man with a ready and willing wife/girlfriend/groupie waiting breathlessly for her man to finally come home (here it's literally - Denzel's girlfriend spends the WHOLE movie lying in her bed in her underwear sweatily anticipating the moment when her other half gets home for some lovin' ...). You have Jodie Foster in full on high-powered lovable bitch mode, shwoing once again why she's A-list all the way. You have Clive Owen doing a friggin' GREAT job as the lead criminal - a morally complex guy who's in it for the thrill of the chase. And man, even the supporting cast is bigtime. Christopher Plummer reeks of gravitas as an elderly bank mogul whose business is the sight of Clive Owen's robbery. And geez, they even got WILLIAM DAFOE of all people to play a pretty minor role as a cop under Denzel's command. Talk about a loaded cast - this is a who's who of acting greatness, an acting all-star team if you will. If only the plot could live up to the cast. Don't get me wrong, this is a highly enjoyable movie - the dialogue is sharp, over-the-top, classic heist-movie material. The movie is filled with classic Hollywood exchanges that could only ever occur in movies. It may not be your cup of tea if you find that kind of thing cheesy - but if you live for the exchanges in movies like Lethal Weapon and Die Hard, you'll be in heaven with this one. And Spike Lee really puts together a number of great moments here. So many scenes are, on their own, awesome. Especially, believe it or not, when Lee's trademark social commentary is involved. Deride it if you want, but this movie really shines when it's making a statement about post- 9/11 New York and the state of our culture in its aftermath. One scene, where a young kid is playing a violent videogame where you get points for pulling heists and brutally killing gangstas - and the kid shows it in admiration to Clive Owen's character - is just hilariously brilliant. And as a kind of statement film about post 9/11 urban American life, this really works as a film - and it nearly does reach a certain kind of greatness. But the plot and characters are kind of barely there, unfortunately. We never really figure out who Jodie foster's character is supposed to be, or what her deal is, and that lack of info proves pretty irritating as the movie progresses. The twists and turns of the heist are at first riveting, but soon become meaningles once it becomes clear that the movie isn't really going anywhere except to a Usual Suspects-style "Oh! I just realized how he got away with the crime!" moment that never proves all that interesting or surprising. And the motivation and reasoning behind Clive Owen's heist never really resonates. The direction by Spike Lee is a little overdone, with some out-of-place, gimmicky camera shots and some oddly cartoonish scenes of hostages reacting in terror to their captors. But again, as a character study, and as a collection of moments, this is a really fun film, filled with A-List talent and well worth seeing in my opinion. I really enjoyed it, and was willing to overlook some of its shortcomings for the sake of seeing such an all-star cast act their way through so many interesting, funny, and thought-provoking cinematic moments.

My grade: B+

Alright, back to work tommorow means the need for sleep is calling.

Tommorow: Jack gets medieval on former-girlfriend Audrey Raines on 24!
Lincoln Burrows heads for The Chair on Prisonbreak!
Hey, that's all I've got. It's Monday, what else is there to look forward to?

Later, folks.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Nice Guys Finish Last, Get Fined, Ticketed, And Generally Screwed Over

As Sid Vicious once famously shouted:

"Whyyyyyyyy Meeeeeeeeeeeee?"

Dammit, it's only been a mere matter of months since my last foray into the unpleasant world of traffic tickets, and then, last night, I once again have a fateful run-in with Johnny Law. And you know what, I've said it before but I'll say it again - I never want to become one of those people who hate the police. I support law enforcement agencies and the job they're trying to do. I recognize that policemen have a really, really tough job and that it's their perogative to crack down when they see fit. But man, they are really pushing me. My experiences with Los-Angeles-area police have been nothing but negative. Since I've been here I've gotten totally screwed after being part of an accident. I've been fined and ticketed for the heinous crimes of: a.) parking for 10 minutes in the alley RIGHT BEHIND MY APARTMENT, and b.) not coming to a full stop at the stop sign that is practically in MY OWN DRIVEWAY, RIGHT OUTSIDE MY APARTMENT.

And now, of all things, I get a ticket for a freaking illegal U-turn. Yep, the policeman in Studio City saw fit to come afer me with sirens blaring and his voice booming over his car's loudspeaker. He saw fit to scream at me as if I had just committed murder. And of course, since this is me we're talking about, and I have about the worst luck ever when it comes to these things, I get called out about my CT driver's license and slapped with a misdemeanor as well for driving with an out-of-state license. And oh yeah, according to this Big Bossman wannabe, I am lucky that my car was not impounded for the perpetration of such godawful crimes against humanity. You know what, maybe Public Enemy had a point all those years ago ... and if you catch my meaning, I am kind of beginning to echo their famous sentiment ...


So in an instant, because of one ill-advised U-turn, I am totally screwed. I shudder to think what these fines are going to be, dollar-wise. I also shudder at the thought of having to complete driving school yet again (assuming I can since I did it so recently). I know, I know, this is just me freaking out, but what is the point of this blog if not as an outlet for my freakouts?

And you know what? The whole concept of the CA state law that one must have a state-issued driver's license within TEN DAYS of residency is absolute crap. And you know what else? I know of almost no CA transplants who acatually HAVE a CA license. But don't worry, friends, I have taken the fall for you. While YOU will probably never have to worry about whether you are driving with the correct state's license, I will be shelling out hundreds of dollars, likely going to Gov. Ahnold's motorcycle-buying fund which is funny since CA's OWN GOVERNOR blatantly admitted to FREQUENTLY DRIVING MOTORCYCLES WITHOUT EVER HAVING OBTAINED A VALID LICENSE TO DO SO. Luckily for him, the fines are mere pocket change. Hypocricy much?

I don't get it. I don't claim to being much, but I will claim to be a nice unassuming guy who is not really looking to cause any trouble. And yet I seem to just be a walking trouble-magnet when it comes to this kind of stuff. Me and authority figures on power trips just do not seem to mesh very well. And in cases like this, I come out on the losing end of YET ANOTHER stupid traffic-ticket-yielding encounter. And all because of a stupid U-Turn.

This kind of thing just gets me so upset. I bet you that in the 15 minutes that that cop was dicking me around, someone was robbed within a five mile radius. Maybe someone was raped, murdered, swindled, or harrassed. But yeah, let's pull over the nice Jewish boy in the unfortunately-tinted shiny red car and get off on making him panic and sweat a little. Well hope that some power-tripping member of the LAPD got his jollies. You really earned your paycheck last night, buddy.

And if it hadn't been for that unfortunate incident, I would have had a pretty fun night. It actually was a pretty fun night in spite of all that crap. But when I got home and looked at that ticket, and realized that now, in addition to all the usual stuff I have to worry about, there was all THIS, well, damn, it's just a bit much to deal with.

I have a lot more I'd like to talk about. I want to review The Inside Man which I saw today. I want to remind people about tommorow's Ricky Gervais-penned episode of The Simpsons. But no, I'm going to let this entry stand on it's own. Self-contained. A testament to the fact that sometimes, life really does seem to be unfair and you just don't understand how all the forces of ths universe seemed to conspire to trap you in that one exact moment where a small mistake promises to kickstart a downward spiral - a series of events that just turns and turns the screw until you really are screwed.

Yeah, I know, this has been a pretty rambling rant. But is it really any more worthless than one of those stupid myspace surveys? This is just me, makng a little attempt to excorcise my anger by putting it in written form. So thanks for bearing with me. See ya next time.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Let's Join The Super Adventure Club

Okay, so I've never been a big South Park fan.

I just have never really found it to be all that funny. Clever sometimes, and definitely original, but I just don't really think it compares with the animated greats like The Simpsons. It's humor is more like the work of two twelve year olds sitting around and making fun of stuff than it is a reflection of the best and brightest comedy writers satirizing society.

But one thing I gotta respect it for - with it's ultra-quick turnaround time, South Park has become must-see viewing of late just because it is so freaking of-the-moment. And even better when the show generates external controversy, as with the recent Isaac Hayes / Scientology affair. Because everyone knew that by this Wednesdays season premiere - there would be a pull no punches response to it all locked and loaded and ready to go.

So I still find the humor to be pretty stupid, but damn if I did not enjoy last night's South Park as a pure pop-cultural touchstone, and a well deserved F-U to the lunacy that is scientology. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are not to be messed with, that's for sure.

I honestly don't get scientology. Can ANYONE out there explain to me in a non-creepy way what the deal is? Not the history, I mean - WHY would anyone join it? WHAT makes it so appealing as opposed to any other belief system? Aside from the fact that they likely find out secret info on you and force you to do their bidding, why the rush to join the cult, I mean church, or scientology?

Anyways, kudos to South Park for becoming the go-to show for timely satire of those who most need to be ruthlessly mocked. Out of sheer respect for that, and yes, out of appreciation for some scattered moments of undeniable hilarity, I'll give this episode an A.


I really did enjoy last night's Lost, more so than I have most of this season's episodes. So see, I do not just bash the show all the time - it really can be good when it's on its game.

First of all, I always like the Jin / Sun centered episodes for the simple reason that I get a kick out of the fact that 10 million Americans are forced to read subtitles on their TV screens while watching - something that our nation's aversion to foreign films shows that many of us are usually loath to do.

Second, both of those actors are really good, and they bring a level of class to the show that some of the other characters (Ana-Lucia, Claire, etc) sometimes don't. I really enjoy their storyline, and I am intrigued by the mystery of who, if anyone, is really the father of Sun's baby. I often complain that this show uses the flashbacks as a crutch, but when they actually offer ood conflict and mystery like these ones did then I really can't find fault.

Thirdly, I haven't been that big on the Henry Gale subplot for its sheer absurdity (why would Locke allow himself to be manipulated by this guy of all people?). But, I have to admit, his closing monologue was awesome. Bringing to mind the big Ozymandius-as-villain reveal from Watchmen, that was some chilling stuff - that actor is pretty sweet who plays the guy too. Cheesy, yes, but hey I am a sucker for newly-revealed-villains-revealing-their-already-in-progress-and-seemingly-unstoppable-evil-plans moments, I guess.

Still, Henry Gale had a good point when he wondered why Jack, Locke, and company never questioned anything, ie what the nature of the hatch is, what the Dharma corp is, etc. WHY DOESN'T ANYONE EVER DISCUSS ALL THE WEIRD STUFF GOING ON ON THE ISLAND?!?! I mean, if the show itself even points out this fact, there's gotta be something wrong, right?

Otherwise, I feel like they actually may have thrown some interesting ideas into the mix with this episode, and I wonder if the guy who was teaching Sun English was not some Dharma operative or something. But I think we DO need SOME kind of inkling of why these Others are so hostile. Right now it's just sooo vague. At least tell us if they're trying to protect something or what. Give us something to get invested in plot-wise.

Continued frustrations with lazy plotting and stretched-out, decompressed storytelling aside, this was a great standalone episode with cool flashbacks and one of the best endings in a while (an for once they didn't end on a cheesy musical montage of random people doing stuff on the island!). So yeah, Lost can still get it done - let's hope the streak continues, as the previews for next week look pretty cool.

My grade: A -

- Have yet to watch last night's Veronica Mars -- I know, I should be supporting it but I'm not a Nielson guy anyway so it doesn't matter what I watch and what I simply record, right? Brian?


- Man, there is lots of work-related stuff I'd like to talk about, but I am starting to feel more and more protective in terms of what I talk about on here with regard to NBC-Uni stuff. I'd like to tell you what I think of Heist, or this fall's upcoming Kidnapped, or some of the other unannounced stuff we have in the pipeline, but I'm going to hold off for now ...

- Very interesting cover story in the latest Time magazine about how wired and overstimulated today's kids and teens are. And I think it pretty much applies to people of my age group as well. I think the article is a good wakeup call to get off of myspace, turn off your cell phone, shut off your Ipod, and just relax ... at least for a little while.

- Speaking of myspace, what's with people who are in their early 20's listing one of their main interest or hobbies as traveling? I mean, sure, most of us like to travel, but when are people doing all this travelling, and how? If you're 18 - 25, you should either be in school or working in a soul-crushing entry level job, and not have time or money for frequent travel to exotic locales. So once again, what person my age counts travelling as a hobby?

- Speaking of jobs, what's with people in Southern California not having them? Whenever I leave work during the day to grab some lunch, I drive past homes and see people sititng around outside, watering their plants, etc. What gives? And in my apartment complex in Burbank ... on the few occasions when I've run home during the day, it's teeming with people. But when I leave for work in the morning, and when I come home in the evening - it's a ghost town. Nobody checking their mail, nobody doing laundry, nobody coming home from work. What is the deal? Who are these people / non-people? I guess it kind of puts things in perspective that I have been able to meet so many relatively normal people via NBC when in fact so many people out here are total nutjobs who don't work and don't check mail or do laundry.

- Alright, back to work. Don't go and do anything dumb like become a scientologist while I'm gone.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

This Is Not A Secure Channel ~!

Hmm, I may have to use some discretion with this post, you never know WHO may be reading ...

But I've gotta say:

How intense is Monday night TV now with 24 and Prisonbreak back to back?

Dayum ... that was some good stuff Monday night ...


Wow, GREAT episode. Serious intensity, fun pulpy action, great acting as usual, and what show has better supporting players than this one? Stacy Keach owns it as the prison warden - old-school mustache and all. The guy who plays the main prison guard is so awesomely evil and slimy, you really love to hate him. Dominic Purcell is simply great as Lincoln Burrows - the scene where he seems to have finally come to peace with his execution, then suddenly explodes in rage, hurling a table and yelling "I didn't do it!" was just chilling and classic. This show is really tightly plotted as well. They did a great job of showing us all the reasons why Michael Scofield will NOT be able to pull off a last minute stay of execution -- and yet we know he has to have one last trick up his sleeve. But what is it? Nice cliffhanger, as the suspense for next week, with Lincoln about to get fried, is ratcheted up to eleven. The one scene that was laughably cheesy was when everything stops as the governor calls the Warden, only to tell him that he has NOT decided to cancel the execution! What?!?! Why would he even call when nobody else was aware he was even considering this? Very cheesy, but hey, that's what you've gotta love about this show - it has enough of a sense of fun to make stuff like that amusing rather than simply annoying. Overall, this was an AWESOME ep that was a great return for the season's best new show.

My Grade: A


Well, this episode was a little bit of a mixed bag compared to the last few weeks of unbridled intensity and drama, but that ending ... the ending saved it. Overall I really enjoyed the ep -- Jack vs. the German spy, Buchanan's attempts to stave off a Homeland Security powerplay, the increasing tension in the White house - all very cool. But what was up with Tony? He is apparently dead and barely gets a sendoff? If he really is dead, which looks to be the case, this is a really lame way to send off one of the show's best and longest running characters. But, one caveat -- if Tony is NOT dead, and this is all a ruse to get ultimate revenge on Peter Weller - well then, good show. And I wouldn't put it past this show to do something sneaky like that. But come on, one way or the other, the Soul Patch must get his props, cops. Also, what is up with trying to make us empathize with CTU when, come on, they have like 5 employees at this point! Who in their right mind would allow them to head up antiterrorist operations when they just lost 40 % of their personnell in the nerve toxin attack? The fact that CTU has always had such a large role in saving the country has always been a bit tought to swallow, but at this point it's a bit ridiculous - as pretty much Jack Bauer is seemingly the only guy capable of getting anything done in all of CTU, and he doesn't even work for them. Once again they need to do a better job of making CTU look like a real functioning operation and not just Jack Bauer and Friends.

But still, the ending was an awesome twist. What other show would have the balls to pull out something like that, and (spoilers)


... make one of its longest-running, still-alive characters evil?!?! Okay, so we don't KNOW that Jack's old flame and DOD liason Audrey Raines is evil, but it sure seems that way. If she is, it opens up a whole range of interesting possibilities, a pandora's box, if you will - so I hope they run with it. Hmm, could there be a cabal of evil-doers whose ultimate goal is the destruction of Jack Bauer? Oh, the possibilities. In any case, this episode had some problems, but it is starting to hint at some cool potential directions. My grade: B+


I did succumb and watch last Thursday's ep of everyone's favorite so-two-years-ago teen soap. And nope, still kinda sucked. Although I have to say some part of me wanted to know whether Ryan would drop his leftover feelings for Marissa and just get with that new girl already. Still, aside from this small amount of curiosity regarding OC hookups, what is there left for this show to do? It has nothing to do with high school anymore, and the characters have been squeezed like a sponge for every last drop of storyline potential. Evolve it or end it. My grade: C+


I taped the newest incarnation of Dr. Who and finally got around to watching this Sci-Fi by way of BBC series the other day. Some great concepts and a fine cast, but overall I had a hard time getting into it. Just too slow and too much of a mishmash of random ideas and situations without much of a driving point or purpose. I guess it was maybe just too British for me. I am usually a fan of the British style of storytelling, but as far as dramas and scifi goes they do tend to be a bit rambling and slow for my tastes. I loved some of the crazy aliens and other outlandish creatures in the second episode, but overall just had a tough time getting into the whole mythology of the show - it just seemed too meandering and without much real drama or sense of urgency. Still, there is potential and I hear good things about the upcoming episodes, so I'll prob check in periodically to see what the deal is. My Grade: C+


- Well, my luck in the NCAA brackets has pretty much gone downhill. But hey UCONN could still win it all, so there's that, at least.

- So I'm trying to get a writer's group together of people who want to meet weekly and discuss their writing and have it critiqued. I am really excited about this coming together, because I think I like many others work better under deadlines, and having some external motivation to actually get something done will be a huge aid in me actually doing more regular screenwriting. I have so many ideas, the trick is just seeing them through to the finish, with only limited spare time in which to get it all done.

- Passover is coming and I may head home to CT for a few days. Watch out Bloomfield.

- Food recommendation of the day: Stonybrook Farms Chocolate Underground nonfat yogurt. Not bad, and who doesn't love foods that have a chocolatey surprise when you get to the bottom of the cup? Plus it's nonfat, so guilt free. However, writing this has really put me in the mood for a DRUMSTICK, perhaps my favorite of all childhood desserts. Nothing beat biting into that chocolatey outer shell, and then eating the ice cream, chomping on the cone, and then finally reaching that inner stash of chocolate candy crunch. Seriously, what is better than a Drumstick ice cream bar? (rhetorical question)

- Hmm, I'm pretty hungry now - time to go. And I think I'm intercepting some hostile frequencies on this channel - must be the Ruskies.

Until next time, and remember: "Wherever you go, there you are."

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Remember, Remember - the ... 18th of March? V for Vendetta Review, WizardWorld Report, and More!

What up mah nerds?

So another weekend has come and gone, and it's back to work once more. This weekend did offer up a good amount of crazy escapism though, so let's get down to business.


One year ago, Brian, Diane, Adriana and I ventured down to Longbeach for a day of celebrity panels, movie previews, comics, pop culture, and more, at WizardWorld - where we were able to get in for free thanks to the power of our NBC Page I.D.'s. Can you say Press Passes? So ..

It's ONE YEAR LATER (sorry I'm a huge nerd, I know) ...

... and the original band is back together for one mo' go-round, except this time the big event is in our own back yard, here in LA proper, right by the Staples center at the big convention center nearby. Funny, last year we were all newly-minted NBC Pages. This year, I'm at Universal, Brian's at Nielson, Diane's at Last Comic Standing, and Adriana's in grad school -- craziness. Anyways, after convening at Adriana's USC digs, our party moved to the convention center, where we entered a land of sight and sensory overload, teeming with blaring music, roaming booth babes, and more merchandise for sale than you can shake a stick at. Don't worry, plenty of pictures were taken with the likes of Batman and friends, a fishnet-clad Black Canary, Homer Simpson, and the planet-eating Galactus himself. Good times, good times. Some more highlights:

- A very cool and insightful panel featuring three current writers of LOST - Jeph Loeb, Damon Lindelof, and Javier Grillo-Marxauch. Al three have serious geek-cred, as Loeb is of course a prolific comic writer and Smallville alum, and Damon and Javier are each working on Marvel projects in addition to their regular gigs on Lost. Londelof in particular had some hilarious anecdotes about his experiences in Hollywood and in the writer's room at Lost, and as much as I rag on the show lately it was really cool to hear him explain the vision for the show and the challenges involved in churning it out on a weekly basis. Great panel.

- Gotta love the Spike TV booth that featured appearance by the master of the el-kabong, Jeff Jarrett, and Tough Enough winner Ms. Jackie Gayda.

- Once again we were all entertained by the musings of writer/director/geek KEVIN SMITH. who hosted his own panel, in his usual anything-goes Q and A format. Interesting to hear his thoughts about the new Superman movie, the failed Green Hornet project, and even his opinion of pal Jason Lee's newest hit, NBC's own MY NAME IS EARL. Looking forward to CLERKS II, but I think we'd all like to see Smith challenge himself a bit and move on to something new.

- Saw a ton of sweet artists around the show floor, doing their drawing thang. Josh Middleton, Dustin Nguyen, etc.

- The DC panel was pretty cool as well, though those types of things tend to cater to the ultra-hardcore fanboys only. Still, it's always a thrill to be sitting a few feet away from some of my all time favorite writers like Geoff Johns and Mark Waid, along with bigshots like DC VP Dan Didio, the always prolific Jimmy Palmioti, and rising star penciller Ethan Van Sciver. They definitely got me hyped for the upcoming 52, that's for sure.

- Picked up a bunch of merchandise, including deeply discounted copies of the first three collections of NY Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman's SANDMAN, the late 80's / 90's cult hit that I've been meaning to read for years now.

- I may or may not have stuck up conversation while in line for lunch with TV's original Batgirl, Yvonne Craig. Holy randomness, Batman!

- Only disappointment was lack of big movie previews. Last year we got exclusive looks at Batman, Fantastic Four, War of the Worlds, etc. No such luck this year. Nothing new to report on Superman, The Prestige, Clerks II, etc.

- Overall it was a great time. Tiring, but lots of fun. Looking forward to doing it again next year.

So after a long day of nerdiness, it was only appropriate that we cap things off with a viewing of V FOR VENDETTA, the long-awaited adaptation of Alan Moore and David Lloyd's graphic novel. Joined by Dan K, we grabbed some Queez-nos and then braved the rain and cold to make it to a sold out 9 pm showing of V. Yes! This was it baby - but did it live up to hype and expectation?


At the LOST writers' panel earlier that day, there was a very interesting discussion concerning why it's so damn hard to translate material from comic books to the big screen. And it's a valid question - there's lots of reasons why the transition is tough, but at least with some concepts like Spiderman or even Sin City, you have a core visual that lends itself to the big screen. Batman and Superman are a bit trickier, but the iconography of the heroes makes audiences able to forgive most of the implausibilities of their origins. The fact is that the comic book fan's expectations don't necessarily jibe with that of a mass audience. And part of that is due to writers like Alan Moore. In the 1980's, writers like Moore and Miller took these concepts that were essentially kids' stories and turned them on their heads. Characters who had been written simply and for all ages were suddenly fair game for mature, challenging, and dark stories that jumped off the page with all the literary flair of the great novels and films. And while comic fans have long come to expect a certain amount of maturity and sophistication from seemingly juvenile premises, the general public is only now beginning to catch up. Only now is the mainstream realizing the potential for dark and sophisticated tales with characters like Batman, The X-Men, etc.

But Alan Moore - this is what he's been doing his whole career. In his work on mainstream comics characters, Moore has created the definitive modern-age tales for the likes of Batman and Superman. Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tommorow takes all the fun, silly concepts of the Silver Age and turns them on their heads, for a story that is both dark and whimsical. Batman: The Killing Joke is a twisted, disturbing look at the insanity of the Joker. Moore took a character with a B-movie name, Swamp Thing, and spent years crafting a darkly literate, philisophical horror epic that is just amazing - and it's a saga that introduced a fan-favorite hard-living British magician by the name of John Constantine. Of course, there's Watchmen - which EVERYONE should read, right now, if you haven't already - it's one of the greatest things ever written, period - pretty much the last word on heroes and power and the myths and legends we create for ourselves. Moore has just done so much A + level work, it's no wonder that he's unanimously considered THE comic writer - the gold standard.

But Moore is so hard to translate to movies. He's worked with a number of artists, so there's not one visual style that is associated with him, ala Frank Miller who has often drawn his own work ala Sin City. And really, it's Moore's way with words that is what defines him. His narratives are beautifully written, multi-tiered, littered with layers of meaning and depth. He is a master of graphic storytelling. Even though he's not an artist, he uses the comic book page like no other - interweaving overlapping images, startling juxtapositions of words with pictures that work on multiple levels. His dialogue is both naturalistic and full of emotion and resonnance. And with all that said - nobdy does the big moment - the shocking revelation, the holy $%&, jaw on the floor moment quite like Moore.

And this brings me to V for Vendetta.

Hollywood has screwed with Alan Moore to no end. They made a Joel Schumacher-worthy adaptation of League of Extraordinary Gentleman. They cast Keanu Reeves of all people to play the quintisential British bastard Constantine, for pete's sake. But here, you know what? They pretty much got it right.

No, I haven't read V for Vendetta. I've been meaning to, but haven't gotten around to it. So I'm sure that there's a lot that has been cut, altered, and generally screwed with in the movie. But as a movie, it works. And it's one of the better sci-fi high concept movies to come out in a LONG while.

Sure, it lacks the complexity of Moore. It lack the intricacy, the literacy, the complexity. This movie was touted as uncompromising, but it clearly is compromising something.

And yet, compared to most Hollywood action movies, it is surprisingly uncompromising. And it makes you think. It makes you listen to the rythm and detail of the dialogue. It makes you read the actors body language for any telling gestures. It presents its politics in shades of grey - not dumbing itself down enough to either be wholly apolitical or to be a clear commentary on current events. No, V for Vendetta avoids being too heavy handed, and that is one of its greatest strengths. You're not quite sure what to think of V, or of his modus operandi. Sure, you get caught up in the whole coolness of the look and the action, but you also question the man's sanity - is he hero or villain? And that is the poignancy of this story - is V a terrorist or freedom fighter? Is Guy Fawlkes? Is Nelson Mandella, George Bush, or Osama Bin Laden? Now therein lies the danger of this movie. It is simple to the point that some 15 year old could watch it and take away the message that governments are evil and that anarchy is cool and that there's no difference between our president and the Taliban. Like other reviews have pointed out, there is a kind of overly simplistic corporate approved Rage Against the Machine vibe to this movie - it is never quite as uncompromising as it wants to be, yet subversive enough so that those looking for a commentary on current politics will find one.

But I could go on and on here, what I really want to get to is that this is Hugo Weaving's movie. Weaving own the part of V and thoroughly kicks seven degrees of ass. His line delivery, his expressiveness as V despite being FULLY HIDDEN under mask and cloak the entire movie - simply AWESOME. This is just great work - Oscar worthy work - and it's Weaving as V that lights up the screen and makes this movie as enjoyable as it is.

Natalie Portman is also excellent as V's reluctant disciple Evy. Portman really lays it on the line here. And you know what? Between her and Weaving- their back and forth, their sharp exchanges - for many moments this does really feel like Alan Moore's work. The wordplay, the sheer Britishness of it all, the bombastic imagery - you've gotta love it and appreciate what the filmmakers and actors are accomplishing.

The rest of the cast is great. John Hurt as the resident Big Brother is awesome, as are the collective members of his slimy inner-circle in his totalitarian regime. And the members of the investigative crew on the hunt for the elusive V are great as well - world weary and beginning to question the delicate thread on which their conception of truth hangs.

The look of the movie is great as well. Dark, bleak, stylized. Sure, its overedited in parts, but you can feel the Wachowski's flaie for extreme stylization at work - with a number of images tha mya not serve much of a narrative purpose, but look damn cool anyways (think V toppling a huge V-shaped pattern of dominoes in his lair). V himself looks awesome. The streets of London look appropriately old-world dystopian, and the chilling government chambers evoke the Obsolete Man episode of the Twilight Zone with the jumbo screens and ominous face of the High Chancellor barking commands like a hopped up Hitler.

What keeps this movie from being a classic? It feels rushed. The relationship between V and Evey is too rushed - she goes back and forth between resenting him and devoting herself to him too quickly and frequently. Simialrly, the Inspector's turn from pawn of his government to rebel truth-seeker is too abrupt - there's never that one big aha! moment that forces him to turn away from everything he believes in. Natalie Portman's final description of V - as a brother, a mother, a father, a friend, etc. - hints at plot points that were never quite extrapolated. We're clearly missing SOMETHING here - and once again, it all comes back to the challenge of condensing the free-flowing and complex work of Moore into a 2 hour movie. Likewise, we know that V is a complex man, but the true extent of this complexity is only hinted at. We know we are meant to wonder if he is hero or villain, bt we are never quite given the reasoning behind both sides of the argument.

Still, this movie is so much more than a typical actioner. It is only frustrating in that it could have been legendary but just misses the mark. But as it is, it is merely extremely good, highly enjoyable, and yes, very thought-provoking for what it is. Amazing acting by Weaving and his supporting players, some great action, a great look, a great new world is created and brought to life here. So far, this is probably my favorite new movie of 2006, and it is just reassuring to see one more comic movie that doesn't suck. Not only does it not suck, but it is a fully realized translation of the dark sensibilities of the 1980's modern comic book. In the last few years we've gotten a take on Batman: Year One, Hellboy, Sin City - the mature takes on comic book fantasy of Miller, Mignola, O'Neal. So after numerous screw-jobs, it's about damn time that Hollywood began to catch up with the legendary sensibilities of the best comic book writer ever, Allan Moore. My grade: A -


Quick 2nd batch of DC One Year Later Reviews:

Superman: One Year Later - Like Batman the other week, Superman goes back to basic here with a heavy-hitting writing team of Geoff Johns and Kurt Busiek. Solid writing, a lot of intriguing mysteries set up, and spectacular art by Pete Woods, by far doing the best work of his career thus far. My grade: A -

Nightwing: One Year Later - The former Robin, now all grown up, has been burdened with meandering stories, inconsistent art, and a strak of bad luck that was just difficult to stomach in the last few years. Now it's one year later and writer Bruce Jones tries to get Dick Grayson back on track, but he results are mixed. The former Boy Wonder is now a down on his luck ladies man living in NYC? Between this and his Outsiders appearances, what is with the odd characterization of Nightwing lately? Sure, the prospects of a Nightwing vs. Nightwing, Dick Grayson vs. Jason Todd showdown, is intriguing, but this just seeemed ... off. My grade: C

Birds of Prey: One Year Later - On the other hand, Nightwing's former better half, Barbara Gordon, has long been in excellent hands thanks to the sharp, fun, witty writing of Gail Simone. Gail keeps things simple here, though she does shake up the status quo with an odd aliiance between the Birds and their former enemy, Shiva. Good stuff, and Gail brings her usal falir for fun dialogue and great characters to the Birds one year later. My grade: A -


Malcolm in the Middle - pretty funny, good stuff with Reese, but too much Lois lately - my grade: B

King of the Hill - excellent episode - Bobby-centric episodes are almost always funny, as are Propane-centered episodes, and this was both ... My Grade: B+

The Simpsons - Wha' happened? This episode was back to being amateurish, inconsistent, and pointless after a few weeks of old-school style goodness. THANK GOD that next week we will have a bonafide present from the comedy gods - A RICKY-GERVAIS PENNED SIMPSONS EPISODE. I cannot wait. Hopefully Ricky can erase the bitter aftertaste of lame wannabe Simpsons eps like tonight's - My grade: C

- Tommorow: 24! Prisonbreak! Gaahh, too .. much ... intensity. Will Tony Almeda live?!?! Or is the power of the soul patch really quelled?

Okay - that is all. I bid you goodnight. So, um, who wants to go put on a Guy Fawlkes mask and like, burn stuff? Remember, remember - the 28th of September! Go libras.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Shut yer pie-hole ya wee bastard!

Ah, Irish people -- they talk funny.

But hey howsabout everyone's favorite Irish punk-rock band the Dropkick Murphys? Did you know that I was in the same high school class with band member Tim Brennan? Yep, us CT folks really get around - just saw the band recently on Conan O'Brien - my former workplace - and it was pretty surreal to see a guy I went to school with rocking out on national TV ...

Some quick thoughts as I wind down for the night ...

- Tonight's THE OFFICE: Well, I can already predict that there are some among my friends who will love this episode. And I did like it, but I really felt like this episode laid on the schmaltz WAY too thick. This is supposed to be an offbeat comedy, and yet this ep had only scattered comedic moments in between a bunch of cheesy character arcs that had all the subtlety of getting hit on the head with a brick. What made the British version of The Office so amazing was that the serious, raw, dramatic moments materialized in surprising and poignant ways, often when you weren't expecting them - much like real life. This episode of The Office seemed fully NBC-ized to the point where they could have inserted a laugh track and a chorus of "awwws" and it wouldn't have seemed too out of place. It was too manufactured, too desperate to pull at our heart strings. And sure, it was pretty effective at doing just that, but it came at the expense of the comedy. Great work as always from Rainn Wilson and Steve Carell, but this show can do better. And I realize that there are those who are going to think I'm crazy and say this was the best episode of the show to date. But I say go watch an episode of Full House if this is what you want in your comedy. Sure, there were a few great moments, great performances, and a nice premise for the episode. But this is The Office, dammit all, and the legacy of that name carries with it a certain obligation to transcend typical TV comedy, and where a show with this much potential is concerned, I expect more than the typical sitcom fare. My grade: B-

- I caught the new FOX comedy THE LOOP, and I have to say it had a few decent moments and was well put together, but overall it just turned me off with its shallow, stereotypical characters and lack of depth. I really like the lead actor from his time on Grounded for Life, a very underrated sitcom, but his character here - a young guy who is a corporate worker by day and a partier by night - was pretty boring. I was excited to see a show focused on characters my age, but disappointed at how lame the show turned out to be. Compared to this, the preceding episode of THAT 70's SHOW looked like an all-time classic sitcom. Sure, its jokes are played out and it's been going on forever, but the show has great characters, a funny cast, and a formula that works. And I hate to admit it, but Fez still cracks me up after all this time. And yet, it is pretty absurd that this show has gone on for one last seson without it's two lead actors. My grades: THE LOOP: C, THAT 70'S SHOW: B

- I was very heartened to read a very positive review of the new SUPERMAN RETURNS trailer on Ain't It Cool News. Could there be hope for this movie after all? Here's hoping they have some exclusive previews at WizardWorld on Saturday.

- I am a diehard Alan Moore fan, but I just don't get his stubbornness when it comes to movies based on his work. By all accounts, V for Vendetta is a faithful, high-quality adaptation of Moore's graphic novel, so why must he still refuse to even acknowledge its existence? Then again, Moore's work HAS been butchered by Hollywood time and time again. Need I mention the travesty that was League of Extraordinaey Gentlemen? What about Keanu Reeves as John Constantine? And what about the debacle that has been Hollywood's failed attempts to adapt the legendary Watchmen into a feature film? Still, who wouldn't want to see Moore take a more active role in adapting his work to film ala Frank Miller with Sin City? In any case, even if I don't quite get his attitude, I don't waver in my stance that Alan Moore may be one of the best wwriters of all time, no matter the medium.

- NCAA Tournament! After a rough start to my brackets this morning, I'm now back on the road to victory as BC, Gonzaga, and some of my other picks pulled through. Of course I have UCONN going all the way though.

- Alright, like I said, just a quick post today ... back later with more.

- BTW, Conan had an awesome line last night in his monologue - you NBC people should get a kick out of it. It was something like: "So the other day Saddam Hussein threw a fit during his trial and proclaimed that the procedings had become a comedy. Yeah, within five minutes, NBC heard this and called about putting it on their network."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax... you're %$#& right I'm living in the &%#$ past!" My Hollywood Moment + More

A few quick things I'd like to put out there in the blogosphere ...

Firstly, a belated Chag Sameach and a Happy Purim to all my fellow Jews out there. For many non-Jews Purim is a bit of a mystery, but those of us who grew up Jewish likely have fond memories of Purim, as it is marked by dressing up in costumes, eating delicious humentashin, and spinning the noise-making gragers during each mention of the name of the villainous "Haman" as we read the miraculous story of Purim.

Unfortunately I can't say that I enjoy the convenience of being surrounded by a large, young Jewish community as I was while at BU. There, a quick walk down Com Ave and I was at Hillel, where dozens if not hundreds of Jews gathered to celebrate Shabbat dinner as well as holidays like Purim. Sure I had my issues with the BU Hillel over the years, but now that I am among so few practicing Jews on a regular basis, I really miss having that community there to turn to. Going to Friday night dinner, seeing old friends and new faces, groaning at the Rabbi's cheesy speeches, gathering in the dining hall - those were good times.

Now Passover is almost here again and still, I don't have somewhere here that I can rely on to go to for a Seder. Last year I had a nice but somewhat awkward time as a guest of a family referred to me by a CT connection, but I would have much rather been somewhere among familiar faces.

That's one thing that I don't think people who grew up non-religiously can fully understand - the importance and comfort of traditions.

Anyways ...

So get this:

Next to where I live in Burbank there's a very convenient shopping center with a Vons grocery store, dry-cleaner, Togos sandwiches, etc. But oddly, there is also this sketchy-looking bar / restaurant called Sardos, that happens to be a popular hangout for people of a certain unsavory industry. In fact, every Tuesday, Sardos actually hosts a special karaeoke night just for these, ahem, industry folk. So my friends and I always joke about Sardos - in fact we've been joking about its sketchiness basically since I first moved into my current apartment over a year ago - and yet none of us had ever actually been inside the place. So last night, after picking up my car from the car dealership, fellow curiosity-seeker Liz and I decided that hey, it's Tuesday, we're right here, let's actually go in to the fabled Sardos and see what the deal is ...

So we go in, and it's pretty empty. It's dark and pretty small and feels like some weird dive bar out of a film noir or something. We sit down and lo and behold, RIGHT NEXT TO US, poring over a karaokie playlist, is none other than ...


Yep, John Goodman - aka Rosanne's TV husband, aka the live-action Fred Flinstone, aka COMEDIC GOD due in large part to his legendary role as Walter Solchak in THE BIG LEBOWSKI. He's right there, and yes folks, he is WASTED.

So soon enough, the patrons begin to trickle in, and yes, many of them do seem like they may actually be of The Industry (including one soulful singer by the name of Larry Vegas). Now as the house begins to fill up, the kareoke kicks in and first up to the plate is none other than JOHN FRIGGIN' GOODMAN! He gets up to the stage and is just belting out the lyrics to some old song I didn't know in this crazed drunken slur. Amazing. Over the next hour or so, this SNL regular and Cohen Brothers favorite graced the dimly-lit bar stage of Sardos twice more, regaling us with soulful, wildly drunken renditions of You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' (in a version that put Tom Cruise in Top Gu nto absolute shame), and then, the finale - a blistering, and yes, quiveringly drunken performance of Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire! Oh. My. God. Definitely one of the most surreal things I have EVER seen, and a moment that could almost have been a deleted scene from King Ralph in its sheer outpouring of blue-collar, drunken pathos. Whether Mr. Goodman got up for even more songs after Liz and I left I do not know, but I do know that the man was so drunk that my attempts to pat him on the back and congratulate him on his epic performances were met with simple grunts. Ideally I would have liked to have mentioned to The Man himself that his performance in The Big Lebowski is one of my all time favorite comedic turns ever in cinema, but alas, the opportunity did not present itself, even though Liz and I were literally seated RIGHT next to John Goodman for a long while. Once again, THIS was a real, raw, Defamer-worthy Hollywood moment. Or maybe it's what you'd call a Valley moment. Whatever it was, it was most definitely a moment. Unreal.


- VERONICA MARS RETURNS - pretty good episode tonight, though the main plot was a bit convoluted and boring. The revelations pertaining to Terence Cook and the ongoing mystery of the bus crash though, on the other hand, were pretty riveting stuff. It was great to see this show back again, and here's hoping that the CW picks it up and gives it the marketing push it deserves. Simply put it's one of the smartest, most stylish shows on TV, and definitely one of a kind. My grade: B+


- St. Patty's Day Friday ... my opinion = meh. Never really got why I should care about an Irish holiday, and basically the people who get really excited about getting trashed on St. Patty's day are the same ones who are already getting trashed every weekend as is, St. Patty's day or not.

- WizardWorld LA on Saturday! I'm very excited, although I have to say that now that I'm so immersed in the working world it's hard to be up and energized for an all-day event like this. Ideally we'd get an early start to this sure-to-be-awesome day of geeked-out nirvana, but I guess we'll see what happens. Still, should be a great day, capped off by what is pretty much THE movie event of the first half of 2006 - V for Vendetta! I am primed and ready for this movie to kick my ass.

- I am definitely getting more and more addicted to MySpace, although that site continually finds new ways to make me fearful for all humanity. I just don't get people who carry out whole conversations about personal things via bulletins that anyone can read. Why not just email or IM the person rather than place your interpersonal business in the public forum? Between blogs that air one's every anxiety and personal detail into the open and those neverending surveys that are simply IDIOTIC, MySpace truly can be a scary place that may or may not signal the downfall of human civilization. And yet it's like a trainwreck that I can't look away from. No, I don't care if you've made out with anyone in the last seven days - why do people even fill out these surveys and post them in the first place? Have they no shame? Nope, everyone is an exhibitionist in the twisted, quasi-pornographic world of MySpace. And to think, this is probably how today's thirteen and fourteen year olds are now spending their afterschool hours - posting away on their pervy blogs and checking out each other's Maxim-style digital photos. Oh what a comforting thought. Parents, watch what your kids are doing online, for the love of God. And for all of you college grads who apend your hours filling out pointless surveys and self indulgent crap and posting it for all the world to see, get a life. At least try to write something insigtful or intelligent, not a questionaire concerning what you have or haven't done in the last three days.

Alright folks, I've had my say, and you can have yours too. It's information overload, baby. But remember, if you become rich and famous you too can go to shady dive bars and sing drunken kareoke on porn night. And now I think I've gone and gotten myself depressed ... Well, at least he'll always have the brilliant Big Lebowski to his credit. Because as a wiseman said: "Sometimes, you eat the bar, and sometimes, well, sometimes - sometimes the bar eats you."

Monday, March 13, 2006

24: Vengeance - Thy Name Be Soul Patch!

If this is it, if this is truly it ...

... then let me just lower my eyes, droop down the corner of my mouth to one side, and say one, final, and always, always monotone:


Here's to you, Tony Almeda. You went from being a barely-there side character in the 24-niverse to everyone's favorite soul-patch wielding CTU-bred ass-kicking machine. We were there for you as you slowly courted the lovely Michelle in a fairytale interoffice romance. We were there for you when you were shot in the neck and yet still lived to fight another day and kick even more terrorist ass. We were there when you had to put your wife's interests ahead of those of your country. We were there for you when you fell off the wagon, got ditched by Michelle, and started taking up with underage waifs. We rooted for you upon your glorious return to the field, where you saved Jack's life and made him forever in your debt. We were there when you reunited with Michelle and seemed to walk off into the sunset, mission accomplished. And then this season tragedy struck la casa del Almeda once more, as Michelle fell victim to a terrorist car bombing, and Tony barely survived, slipping into a debilitating coma. We waited and waited for Tony to emerge to wreak unholy havoc on those who would ruin him. And finally he awoke, but as deadly toxins leaked into CTU, the revenge spree was put on hold.

Finally, tonight - Tony vs. the mastermind - Henderson - the man who was behind Michelle's death. Tony goes in for the kill, defying orders as usual. But damn that Robocop - he was playing possum! And the weapon that would be his undoing instead became the possible death-dealer for a true hero, a true warrior, a true wielder of the Soul Patch of Mystical Fury. For in that soul patch is the Spirit of America itself, and as Tony fell, a Nation mourned as its hopes and dreams came crashing to a sudden and terrifying end.

If this is truly the end of Tony Almeda, then this truly is a sad day indeed. But wait! The final 24 countdown did not go silent as is the custom when a a main character passes on, as it did last week when our old pal Edgar met his untimely fate. Could Mr. Almeda once again have defied the odds and cheated death? Could fate have stayed her cruel hand, granting Tony life to fight another day, so that vengeance might yet be his? We can only hope. But if not, if this is the end, then surely, surely - we shall never forget - we shall never forget the day a Soul Patch died.

But yeah ...


- Intensity from start to finish! Literally, people were holding their breath. Man, if I had been in Jack's shoes I'd be a goner for sure.

- "Jack, are you okay?" ... ... ... "No." = Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn!

- Hmm, Vice President is named Hal Gardner. President is Charles Logan. Any other comic geeks out there who see the connection?

- Martial Law, baby! Do it!

- And let us not forget another who passed. Sean Astin, aka Samwise Gamgee, aka Lynn McGill, is no more. While his memory will live on, we bid a fond farewell to Lynn McGill, who though he was abrasive at first with his OCD, controlling ways, soon grew on us all as a man who simply wanted to do right by his country. Though he survived the fiery pits of Mordor, our portly hero could not survive the deadly nerve toxin unleashed upon CTU, and tonight - tonight he made the ultimate sacrifice. While he was only on 24 for a short while, McGill shall not go quietly into that great CTU in the sky. He will go out not as he came in, but as an honorary lietentant in the army of Jack Bauer. And I ask you, loyal reader, in the world of 24, what greater honor is there than that?

- It looks like Kim Bauer is out of the picture for the time being as well. Her return was brief, and mostly uneventful. Needs more cougar traps, says I.

- The Bad: "How did they infiltrate CTU?" Duh! "I'm a clinical psychologist." = LAME.

- But overall, this was great. Epic battles. Some lived, some died, and the mighty JAck was reduced to a quivering, eye-twitching lump of pent-up RAGE. One season 5 stalwart is definitely dead meat, Buckaroo Banzai is still on the loose awaiting a date with the cold hand of desitiny (aka a PISSED OFF Jack), and a Soul Patch's life hangs on the brink of oblivion. To be continued? I'm there. Next week, Prison Break is back, and that's cool, but dammit all, make mine 24. My grade: A

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Pirates Ho! Hear, O ye landlubbers: heed their dev'lish cry: SURRENDER THE BOOTY! Pirates! Sickness! Random Thoughts and More!

Well, this weekend was the big day - the long awaited voyage to the one and only (okay, true, there's another one in Orlando), the dinner-theater phenomena known only as Pirate's Dinner Adventure! Well, a good time was had by all, but it was a miracle I even made it there in the first place. Because Thursday, I got sick. Really bad.

I think it started on Wednesday night, where of all things, it was my laundry that killed me. I should have simply called it a night, as things at work had been taking a toll on me, but no, I insisted that I must have clean clothes for the week ahead. So I did my laundry, but then I had one of those annoying episodes where I lie down for a quick breather, next thing I know I'm fast asleep in my jeans. So I wake up at like 1 am, realizing that my clothes were still lying wet in the laundry room. So I force myself up, put 'em in the dryer, wait for them to be done, and then of course I'm overtired and can't fall back asleep. So I can't really be sure, as I think this is when the fever began to take hold, but I may have gone to work the next day with as little as four or so hours of sleep in me. And oddly, I felt fine in the early morning, and never considered not going to work. But as soon as I got there, oh man, I was fried. I had chills shooting up and down, headache from hell, and thought I might lose my lunch (um, yesterday's lunch), at any moment. Pleasent, I know. So I really tried to tough it out, but by about 1 pm I literally thought I was about to pass out. I drove home and got into bed, and was DONE. I mean, for the next 24 hours, I felt worse than I had in years. I just felt so weak and feverish, I could barely even process rational thought. I was slipping in and out of these weird dreams involving geometrical shapes and some vague notion of being stuck in a multi-dimensional game of Tetris (analyze that one, folks). I mean, wow, I was just done. This purgatory-like state of fever-dreaming and immobility continued until late Friday, when I willed myself out to pick up some essential supplies, including Chicken Soup - my own personal mana from heaven. All the while, I was just hoping and praying that I'd feel better for Saturday and Pirate's.

I basically just did a lot of reading, watched some comfort TV (Step by Step, episode where Dana has to psychoanalyze Cody for school), caught up on a little Resident Evil 4 ... but otherwise I was just out of it, in and out of sleep, confined to my bed. By Saturday morning I looked like a refugee from LOST, unshowered, unshaven, and dazed, like I had just woken up from a two day nightmare. Luckily, my fever had begun to break, and by Saturday evening I was more or less ready to go, thank the heathen Pirate gods. And I guess that the combo of having been confined to bed for two days and being so isolated from all civilization at work lately made me ready and raring to go to set sail for some plundering, pillaging and Pirates. But for those who were with me, don't let whatever energy I had Sat. night fool you - from Thursday morning to Saturday morning ... well, let's just say it was not a very fun time.

But anyways, enough about that unpleasant episode, what about ...


So after much last minute preparation, I downed some chicken soup, some advil, and some Pepsi, and set off with Scott "Sometimes-BlackBeard" Carter, Liz "Wench-In-Training" Liggett, and Brian "Yo (what up?) Ho' " Grabow to CA's own version of Orlando, Florida, where clustered together one finds all manner of over-the-top attractions, from Disneyland to Knott's Berry Farm to Medieval Times, and of course, Pirate's Dinner Adventure. In short, a little, very cheesy, slice of heaven, for those of us who are so inclined. We drove up to the faux Spanish stronghold that was our destination, donned our souvenier bandanas, and then, souvenier goblets in hand, we headed into the galleon for a night of pirates, wenches, buccaneers, a feast worthy of a a Captain, and, and ...


... off-broadway musical-style song and dance numbers? Yep, Pirate's Dinner Adventure has it's share of duels, fistfights, and feats of skill, but the bulk of it is guys in unbuttoned shirts singing kid-friendly songs, the most memorable of which was the not-quite-original campfire classic : "What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor?" -- yep, this was "Camelot" with pirates, as produced by Cinemax, music composed by Raffi. Basically, as we enjoyed our Pirate's Feast, our gang of scurvy sea-dogs laughed and rooted for our section's own Pirate of choice, the Blue Pirate Benjamin, who was quite prominent whenever there was singing or music-making to be had, but clung to the shadows whenever there was violence afoot. Of course, our section got the wussiest pirate ever, with about the worst pirate name ever -- Benjamin ... yeah, that one's gonna inspire fear in the locals when the ship comes a-pillagin'. "Oh my god everyone, run away, BENJAMIN is here! And he's brought his dastardly friends, ROBERT and MILTON!" Actually, it turned out that our section's own Benjamin was like the hero of the whole big Pirate musical-shindig (not that any of had any real clue what was going on), and by the end of the thing I'll admit that he kicked his share of ass, fake stage-fightin' style. Still, he looked like some guy who was like an extra in Cats and then did this when that show eneded it's run, or something.

Still, we had an excellent time, and even if we had no friggin' idea what was going in in the "story" most of the time, we still yelled and cheered and made merry (whatever that means). My impression is that this was a lot more fruity than Medieval Times, and also more kid-friendly (mostly just because kids were included in many of the "interactive" portions of the show). I mean, at Medieval Times you can tell that it's actually pretty hardcore in terms of being all about reflecting actual medieval times. Here, they kinda played fast and loose with the whole pirate thing (ie, Pirates making reference to Mr. Roboto, playing, of all things, YMCA to end the show ... weird, I know). While Medieval featured authentic medieval weapons, jousting, lack of eating utensils, etc, Pirates didn't quite have the same commitment to authenticity (and yet, both venues inexplicably become makeshift all-ages dance clubs after the main show is done ...).

Anyways, I came away convinced that not only is the opportunity ripe to tune up Pirates to make it an even more (pirate) booty-licious experience, but there is nearly unlimited potential to open up other themed dining adventures. Picture it: Homer's Greek Dinner Odyssey - a truly epic experience. The Haunted Mansion Mystery Dinner - where the ghouls are dying to serve you. Super-Awesome-Shoryuken Ninja Dinner X-Perience. Outer Space Outpost. Samurai Sizzler. Rainforest Cafe, dammit all. Oh, wait ...

Oh, one more thing, as I mentally prepared myself in the morning for the Pirate experience, I listened to such classic songs of the sea as "A Pirate's Life For Me," And "Friggin' In The Riggin," (on second thought, not quite sure WHAT that one's about ...). But anyways, I was dying to walk into Pirate's and hear some classic, epic pirate music that would put me in the mood for plunderin' and privateering. But no, the music of choice sounded like a wannabe version of Rent, sung by Pirates. Highly questionable.

In any case, like I said - great time was had by all. I was definitely happy that I was there for a much-needed escape. From the crazy, quasi-interactive "challenges", to the hearty meal - we came, we saw, we walked the plank - and a true pirate adventure was had by wench and buccaneer alike. Yo ho!


On another note, I really enjoyed the Lakers vs. Sonics game today on ABC, but it reminded me of so many things that are wrong with the NBA today. Unfortunately, these aren't things that can be easily fixed. But there is just such a marked difference between today, when the NBA's best and brightest are wallowing in the shadow of underperforming teams, as opposed to the glory years when the Best fought the Best on the biggest stage of all. Take Ray Allen for example - unquestionably one of the best talents in the NBA today. He makes everything look easy, and he's a classic shooter on par with the greats like Bird and Miller. And yet he's stuck on a Seattle franchise that is absolutely going nowhere with its current roster. Now, you might argue that Allen should be able to elevate his team to greatness, as others like Jordan and Miller did. But let's be realistic - Michael Jordan played on some incredibly well-rounded teams, and whenever he was successful in the playoffs he had a near all-star cast around him, whether it was Pippen, Kukoc, or great supporting players like BJ Armstrong or John Paxson who were true winners. Now you have great players like Ray Allen, Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, and more playing on crappy teams that keep them out of the spotlight. And even some of the big superstars like Kobe, Lebron, and Tracy McGrady are fighting simply to make the playoffs and make any sort of championship push. And yet, perpetually good yet consistently boring teams like the Spurs and Pistons continue to utterly dominate the league. Who else wishes that the big stars were once again on the big teams? The league is now so watered down that the people who should be the next breakout talents are wasting away in obscurity. Back in the day you had one or two amazing players, like say Dominique Wilkins, who never quite got the spotlight that their talent deserved. Now, popularity is by necessity not equated with winning, as all of the most charismatic, exciting players seem to be lagging in their careers. The NBA needs to eliminate some teams and distribute its talent a bit better, because we as NBA fans can only take so many more San Antonio vs. Detroit matchups before we say forgettaboutit.

Rant Over.

Quick TV Reviews:

Not much in the way of new stuff lately. Veronica Mars finally returns this week, and the countdown to Prisonbreak Season 1.5 is on. But for now ...

Sons and Daughters: Whoah, what happened? I'm not sure what's up here, but I found the pilot to Sons and Daughters hilarious when I saw it this past summer at NBC's LA Screenings. I believe it was reshot since then, but in any case, this past week I found the hour-long premiere of this much-anticipated show to be just, well, pretty boring. I had a memory of a pilot that was like Step By Step meets Arrested Development, with a host of hilarious one-liners and smart, improvisational humor. Well, that memory was mostly overwritten by the reality of a show that was like one really long SNL sketch that was never that funny in the first place. I found a lot of the characters unlikable this second time around, and just didn't quite get it. Weird, I have no idea what happened. I'll probably give this another try just to see what's up, but I have to say the while the show is worth checking out, it's going to need a lot more work than I thought to develop into something special. My grade: C

OC: You know what? I didn't watch or even record the new episode of the OC for the first time in a while, and I have to say that I don't really regret it. This show is just plain sad lately.

The Simpsons: And we have 2 very good episodes in a row! A fun story structure and a clever plot made for an entertaining episode. The story-within a story-within a story thing was a cool gimmick that actually tied together pretty well, and there was some pretty good humor in there too, though not much really side-splittlingly funny or anything. The last two weeks have felt more like vintage Simpsons episodes than anything they've done in a while. My grade: B+

Family Guy: Oh man, whatever was in the air tonight, I was rolling in laughter at tonight's episode. The plot was almost an afterthought here (Quagmire gets married!), but the cutaways and the Stewie subplot consistently cracked me up. I loved the spaceship rollercoaster cutaway. Peter on Wheel of Fortune was hilarious, and there was lots of other really funny stuff, including a very funny dig at NBC and Joey, courtesy of Adam Corrolla as Death. My grade: A -

Conan O'Brien Goes to Finland: While this wasn't as laugh out loud funny as I had anticipated, I wstill would easily call it a GREAT show. It was funny, interesting, smart - all things you'd expect from the king of Late Night. But hey, you know what? It was actually a very cool, almost heartwarming hour of TV that left the viewer with good vibes and a feeling that Americans can actually still go to other countries and spread goodwill rather than negativity. But yeah, many portions of this special were pretty hilarious, in that crazy, Mad Magazine meets Harvard Lampoon way that only Conan can really tap into. Fagerstrom = hilarious! Conan's reindeer dance was gold, and his phone conversation with a random friend's estranged best friend was both hilarious and a nice moment. Conan on various Finnish TV shows was just awesome, the best being the weirdo 80's new-wave-looking guy and the two evil kids who asked questiosn like "in America, does one have to be a funny-looking old man to have his own talk show?" Bwahaha - good stuff. Conan rocks, and this is why. One of those eps where I'm proud to say that I worked for the guy. My grade: A


- One and only one good thing about staying home sick - I remembered how enjoyable it is to actually sit down and read for more than a few minutes before going to sleep.

- Next week: Has it been a year already? I guess so, as me and my fellow geeks now privy to Page alumni status once again go to Wizard World LA! Can't wait. Will Kevin Smith once again regale us with his perverse tales of he and his hetrosexual lifemate Jason Mewes? Will we once again behold exclusive trailers to much-anticipated movies? Will we once again run off with armfuls of free schwag and overly expensive signed goods? I hope so! Plus, it promises to be the geek weekend from heaven as V FOR VENDETTA finally comes out! Remember, remember, the 5th of November. Okay, so now it's mid-march, but who's counting? Bring it!

- Post-Aerosmith II, I am now in search of the next big concert event. Suggestions? On my list of still-performing bands that I must see but never have: AC/DC, Metallica, Rush, Def Leppard, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, White Stripes, The Darkness, The Donnas, The Offspring, Alice Cooper, and, hmm ... lots more.

- I finally made the plunge and got a digital camera. I have to say I still don't like digital photos - they are just way too ... digital. Who wants to see someone's every pore when looking at a photo? Not me. That being said, I've been playing around with my new camera a lot and trying to figure out how to get the best usage from it ... I do love new toys. Om the downside, my pics from Pirate's, my inaugural digital-camera-equipped event, came out pretty poorly. Not sure why, but an investigation is underway. Also, I think that this may be a revelation: you don't want your picture taken by someone too much shorter than you - makes for bad angles, ya know?

- At work I've had a chance to listen to The Ricky Gervais Show podcasts, and yes, they are amazing and hilarious. Where else can you hear a bunch of mad Brits debating the merits of everything from Time Travel to animals' intellects to dating? Seriously, listen to these 12 radio shows - they are yet more comedic brilliance from Ricky Gervais and friends.

- Last week I wsa doign some clothes shopping and accidentally bought a pair of those Levis jeans with no zipper but just like three buttons for the fly. Okay, I know I may be a little late to the party in asking this, but who in the blue hell wants this type of jean? Give me a good old fashioned zipper fly any day of the week.

- I think the lesson learned from my potentially laundry-induced bout of super-flu this weekend is: laundry is evil. A necessary evil, yes, but one of life's evils nonetheless.

- I went to Wendy's today for the first time in a long time. Ideally, in a perfect world, such amazingly tasty items as Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwiches would be fat free and nutritious, but alas, they are basically insta-heart attacks, and thus most trips to Wendys nowadays leave me disappointed and torn because all I really want from there is a Spicy Chicken Sandwich. So I go to Wendys today on a whim, determined not to order anything unless I could be reasonably health-concious about it. And lo and behold, I am probably like the last person to hop on the bandwagon, but Wendys is now a virtual mecca of healthiness. I had a quite satisfactory grilled chicken combo, that included a side salad rather than fries. And the menu included things like mandarin oranges and a bunch of other healthy crap. So sure, I threw in a small Frostie for good measure, but overall I was quite happy that my trip to Wendys yielded a meal both reasonably healthy and reasonably delicious.

- Flashbacks to a long-past and disasterous childhood trip to the now-infamous IHOP ( I think it was) in Cape Cod, MA, when today I thought that I happened to be in the same Target as Liz, when in fact we were in separate Targets. I knew something was off when, on the phone, we both claimed to be standing in front of Customer Service, and yet neither of us could see the other. And hilarity ensued ...

- Oh yeah I saw that new shoe Losin' It on FOX tonight also. Kinda funny, but just too all over the place and the side characters weren't really that endearing. It felt like a bunch of forty year old guys were trying unsuccesfully to write about life for current young post college kids, and the best friend was like out of some bad 80's sitcom, mullet and all. Has some potential though. My grade: B-

- How badly do I wish that more people would move into the empty 7th floor where I work. At this point I'll take anyone. Well, almost anyone ...

- 24 Tommorow! Who will die? Tony or Audrey? Intensity! Jack! Robocop! Gravitas!

- Alright, that's all for tonight. I've given you all I have, people! And what do you give back? 8,000 + hits and counting baby. Sure, that's miniscule compared to the Googles and Myspaces of the world, but who else from Bloomfield CT has this many hits? Huh? Yeah, that's what I thought.

-So goodnight Pirates and Wenches! Surrender your booty, board the ship, and set sail for the spot marked by an X, because there, treasure there be!

Monday, March 06, 2006

NOW: with more GRAVITAS~!








Holy Soul Patch! 24 just rocked Jack Bauer style and barely let up for a second! Okay, the Kim Bauer stuff was a little lame, and the President Logan-his wife-Aaron Pierce thing was kinda, um, odd, but ...

OH MY GOD! Amazing episode! Let's review some highlights:


RIP Edgar Styles - you were many a 24 fan's favorite rotound computer geek, and all I can say is that I'm sorry that you never had your big chance with Chloe. It's just not fair I tell ya! And the big guy's death was just heartbreaking! Running up the stairs, towards the quarantined room, unable to escape the all encompassing nerve toxin floating in the air. He sees the secret love of his life, says her name, and collapses to the ground in a thunderous meeting of CTU hard metal floor and portly tech guy. And even the mighty Jack Bauer could do naught but bow his head in grief - for he too had lost not just a coworker, not just a trusted ally, but, dare I say it - he had lost a friend. Oh Edgar Styles, we hardly knew ye.

- Tony awakens! And he's pissed! Unleash the soul patch fury so that the great Almeda can wreak his unholy vengrance on those bastards who killed Michelle.

- And then Tony gets stuck in a room with Robocop, aka Supreme Heartless Badass Villain Numero Uno! Oh man, that is going to be a Wrestlemania-caliber throwdown. If either one can move that is.

- Kim returns! And she has odd-looking Random Guy with her!

- Jack Bauer shoots Buckaroo Banzai's wife in the kneecap! And Buckaroo doesn't even flinch! He's STILL half-machine, I say. And even Jack can do nothing but yell at Peter Weller in frustration and call him a heartless bastard!

- Sam Gamgee's sister is gunned down! The terrorists take his key card to CTU from her, and once again prove that CTU is possibly the least secure location on earth -- all terrorists, moles, and hired mercenaries welcome!

- Curtis contains the nerve-gas device with mere seconds to spare! Some days, you just can't get rid of a bomb. Could Curtis, whose track record is not too shabby, now be in line for a Tony Almeda -level push to main-eventer?

- Shades of Season 3 and Gaiel as DEADLY TOXIN spreads through ventilation systems!

- Chase reference! Chase reference! That jerk left Kim when the chips were down! Could he be the one-armed man with the master evil plan? Doubtful.

- Robocop says that if he reveals what he knows, it will open a Pandora's box that will put our country in jeapordy! What does he know? Does it involve a mole? Could it be the VICE PRESIDENT is EVIL? Could AARON PIERCE be EVIL? Dammit all, someone here is EVIL and I gotta know WHO.

- Sidenote: That trailer for X-Men 3 was actually pretty sweet. Sure it's just a trailer, but I think this may surprise people by actually being decent, even as its major summer competition, Superman, surprises people by being a steaming pile.

- Next week: Someone will die! Oh man, whenever they say someone's gonna bite it I always think that Tony is a deadman. But no, my prediction for next week is that everyone's favorite D.O.D. liason, Audrey Raines, will make the ultimate sacrifice. Let's face it, her usefulness has pretty much expired, and she seems to be living on borrowed time.

- Damn, this show is just on a roll, providing three straight hours of unbridled entertainment and nonstop INTENSITY, brimming with dramatic tension and yes, GRAVITAS.

My grade: A

Best show on TV right now.