Saturday, May 20, 2006

An Easy Post in Lieu of Actually Having Something to Say

Here's another meme that was forwarded to me.

1) How old were you?
THEN: 1996 - 20
NOW: 2006 - the dreaded 30 hits in just two months. Actually a little less...

2) Where did you work?
THEN: 1996 - Barnes & Noble, and then a rinky little printer called Jais Inc.
NOW: 2006 - unemployed for my fifth beautiful year, but a full time college student

3) Where did you live?
THEN: 1996 - shitty but nice apartment in Villa Park, IL
NOW: 2006 - shitty but slightly nicer apartment in DeKalb, IL

4) How was your hair style?
THEN: 1996 - parted on the left
NOW: 2006 - messy, umcombed, and pointed forward (most days)
WAY BACK: 1979 - thin, white-blonde, and baby fine; hey, I was 3, kill me

5) Did you wear contacts?
THEN: 1996 - no
NOW: 2006 - no

6) Did you wear glasses?
THEN: 1996 - yes; got them in 1993
NOW: 2006 - yes; do you believe I've had the same frames since 1996? Aviators.

7) Who was your best friend?
THEN: 1996 - I don't like this question; all of my friends are great; I spent the most time with Carl, though.
NOW: 2006 - I don't like to go out if I can help it.

8) Which of your pets were still alive?
THEN: 1996 - Cleo
NOW: 2006 - Thumper

9) Who was your boyfriend/girlfriend?
THEN: 1996 - Becca
NOW: 2006 - still Becca

11) Who was your celebrity crush?
THEN: 1996 - Kate Winslet, Lucy Lawless, Heather Graham
NOW: 2006 - Jessica Simpson, Anne Hathaway, Heather Graham, Asia Argento, Liv Tyler... it just goes on and on and on

12) Who was your regular-person crush?
THEN: 1996 - no one
NOW: 2006 - Anea, this hot waitress at my favorite diner

13) How many piercings did you have?
THEN: 1996 - never even contemplated it
NOW: 2006 - still haven't

14) How many tattoos did you have?
THEN: 1996 - none
NOW: 2006 - still none, though if I were to get any, I know at least two geeky ones I would get: the Superman symbol and the number 42

15) What was your favorite band/singer?
THEN: 1996 - David Bowie
NOW: 2006 - David Bowie

16) Had you smoked a cigarette?
THEN: 1996 - yes
NOW: 2006 - I haven't had a cigarette, cigar, cigarillo, or pipe smoke since I moved here in 2001. Sadly, that also includes marijuana.

17) Had you gotten drunk?
THEN: 1996 - nope
NOW: 2006 - nope; I've never goten drunk. Now I just (literally) overdose my already hypertense circulatory system with caffeine and crash on that. I don't recommend it.

18) Looking back, are you where you thought you would be in 2006?: No, but the dream lives on.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Back Off, Already


No Throwdown today. I just don't care about anything going on in Hollywood right now. Paris and Lindsay are fighting a turf war for total irrelevance, while Nicole Kidman gets engaged and people are willing to die so no one sees The Da Vinci Code. Whatever. About the only thing that got me going this week was the constant scrutiny over Britney Spears and her son, Sean Preston Federline. Now, granted, this kid's got a hard future ahead. His parents are redneck idiots, and any book-learnin' he gets will probably be accidental. But could we just lay off of Britney, already?

Yeah, alright, she may not know what she's doing as a mom. But you know what? She's got no experience with it. She's making the same mistakes every new mother makes. But she's so heavily scrutinized that any mistake Britney makes is compounded with intense media interest and bloggers who scream and whine that her child should be taken away for the simple crime of not ever having had a kid before. Look, I guarantee you that your mother dropped you, or let you roll off the couch, or something else that was horrible at the time, but which you obviously survived. It's just life. It's what happens. Britney driving with Sean on her lap? Hell, my mom used to sit me down on the floor of the passenger seat! She didn't know! She'd never had a kid before. Jeez Louise, here.

And then she almost drops the kid one day, and people blame her stupidity and the fact that she was wearing high heels, rather than the fact that the paparazzi were crammed around her and threw her off balance. God forbid that every second of her life isn't documented in minute detail. But hey, let's blame the victim. After all, she's rich and she's a woman, two things America despises.

But you know the part that really pisses me off? It's the fact that the heaviest criticism of Britney's attempts to figure out this mothering thing is coming from women. Remember when women used to support one another? Remember when they told us, over and over, that it was a woman's right to have a baby and still have a career? And they were right. But nowadays, women seemed to have changed their tune. Their opinion now seems to be that Britney should get back in the home and not come out again, because she has a child now. Because the current conservative atmosphere in America has got women believing they're second class citizens, apparently. And they're loudly enforcing it. And since, God forbid, Britney's not perfect at every second she should be forced back into the home and her child taken away from her.

All of this armchair quarterbacking of Britney's motherhood is really making me sick. She's a new mother, she's going to make mistakes. It's not your problem. Let it go. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Don't I Keep Telling You People I'm a Super Genius?







How grammatically correct are you? (Revised with answer key)




You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

Congratulations! If your mission in life is not already to preserve the English tongue, it should be. You can smell a grammatical inaccuracy from fifty yards. Your speech is revered by the underlings, though some may blaspheme and call you a snob. They're just jealous. Go out there and change the world.
Take this quiz!








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Peter, seriously, from one Grammar God to another... suck it.

4 Unrelated Conversations

I am 6 years old. Me and my sister Jayne (age 3) are on Guam, visiting my grandparents, and we've both been punished by our mother for some reason or another.

ME: I hate Mommy. I want a new one.

JAYNE: Me too. Let's get a black mommy.

ME: You can't have a black mommy! You're white!

JAYNE: I'm not white! I'm pink!

************
Age 14, in junior high. Thanks to the rising popularity of The Simpsons, the school is making changes in the dress code. A friend, John, comes up to tell me the news.

JOHN: Dude, did you hear? We're not allowed to wear any more Bart Simpson shirts.

ME: Really? Why not?

JOHN: Well, I guess we're not supposed to wear the ones that say "Underachiever and Proud of It," because the principal says it promotes underachieving and makes it look cool. And we're not supposed to wear ones that say "Eat My Shorts."

ME: Are you serious?

JOHN: The principal suggested "Eat My Shirts" as an alternative.

ME: But isn't is just a way of avoiding "Eat My Shit"? What makes shirts so much better than shorts?

JOHN: Shirts don't taste like dick.

ME: Oh.

************
On Sunday, Mother's Day, I spent the day with my mom, my sister, and her fiance Glenn. My mom has been trying to get me to buy her current car, but it's a manual so I don't want it.

MOM: See, and you made fun of Daniel Craig for being James Bond and not knowing how to drive a stick. Glenn, isn't is, like, manlier to be able to drive a stick?

GLENN: Well, it's fun. You know, it's like riding a horse or using a rotary phone. It's quaint, but it's totally unneccesary in today's world.

My mom sighs.

************
Last night, I'm talking to Becca when she interrupts me so she can pay close attention to a commercial for The Omen. I take offense immediately, because I hate religious-themed horror movies, movies about hauntings, and movies about possessions, because they suck 99.8% of the time.

BECCA: Okay, sorry. You were saying?

I just stare for a moment.

BECCA: I'm sorry. What's that look for? Are you mad?

ME: No, it's not like you raped a child or something.

BECCA: What does that mean? What does my watching a commercial for The Omen have to do with me raping a child?

ME: It means that, when you stop and watch a preview for one of these movies you always know is going to suck, and then you express interest in it, I'm as disappointed in you as if you had raped a child.

BECCA: Ah.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

ALL THAT JAZZ (1979)
This film really blew my mind. Roy Scheider plays a legendary, womanizing choreographer-director who has a heart attack, looks back on the mistakes of his life, and dies during surgery. Bob Fosse wrote this film while convalescing after bypass surgery, then died of a massive heart attack eight years later. Creepy. I know the woman playing his wife is supposed to look like Fosse's real-life ex-wife Gwen Verdon, but his current lover and protege Ann Reinking essentially plays herself. Rarely is this kind of therapy this compelling and exciting to watch; I was completely riveted to this movie. Scheider's performance is incredible, Reinking is much better than she was in Annie, and Sandahl Bergman makes a powerful appearance as a dancer. The final scene is stunning despite being completely over-the-top. Is this movie pretentious? Yes, but brilliantly so. **** stars.

THE MUSIC BOX (1932)
THEM THAR HILLS (1934)
TIT FOR TAT (1935)
I'd never sat and watched any Laurel & Hardy shorts, but it turns out I love them. The Music Box is that old bit about two guys pushing a piano up the stairs. Did you suddenly think of that horrible episode of Perfect Strangers, too? Them Thar Hills and Tit for Tat center around a conflict with a short grocer whose temper gets the better of them. Good stuff; each one gets ***1/2 stars.

LEGALLY BLONDE 2: RED, WHITE & BLONDE (2004)
The first movie had its moments, but this one... well, it's crap. And all I could think of was that Reese Witherspoon has recently gone off on a tear about how much she hates dumb blondes who are famous for being ditzy. Right, but not enough to get famous playing one, I guess. Unlike anyone in this movie, she's not willing to give women a chance to prove themselves, huh. Judgmental bitch. It was nice to see Bob Newhart in something, even though the movie completely forgot he was in it during the second half. I can't think of a single other redeeming factor, so * star it is.

ADULTERY: A USER'S GUIDE (1995)
A pretentious French film that is not remotely interesting. *1/2 stars.

DALTRY CALHOUN (2005)
Johnny Knoxville is, surprisingly, a pretty decent actor. I really liked this movie, where he plays a guy who is reunited with his long lost daughter (a very likeable Sophie Traub). It's one of those pleasant movies about Southerners that is completely fake, but it's fake in a nice way. It's a hell of a lot better than that Junebug piece of shit, anyway. Junebug isn't honest about how fake it is. ***1/2 stars.

DIRTY LOVE (2005)
The Golden Raspberry Awards gave this movie its Worst Picture of the Year Award. This is more proof that the Razzies are garbage that no one needs to pay attention to. Calling a Jenny McCarthy movie the Worst Picture is easy and obvious; calling Crash the Worst Picture, which it was, takes a little more guts, especially since this movie is just kinda silly and Crash is offensive and pretentious. Anyway, Dirty Love. I love Jenny McCarthy, and I enjoyed this movie. The ending was obvious, but I like the way Jenny's always tried to show a sort of reality about being a woman. She's got good comic timing, people just don't use her well enough. This is like The Sweetest Thing, only more honest and less crappy. I don't know if I'd recommend it, but I liked it. So there. *** stars.

The 2005/2006 TV Season Scorecard

Last year, I went through the new television schedules. I know, the punishment I'm willing to take on myself. And, with the season winding to a close, I thought I'd sort of revisit it and see what went wrong, what went right, and--with the new upfronts upon us--where I hope we're going. I'll be blogging about the new schedules later this week, just as I did last year. But for now, let's see what's what.

ABC
* I still don't watch much ABC; if you don't like The Bachelor or Wife Swap, there isn't much reason to, is there?
* I accurately predicted a fast cancellation for Emily's Reasons Why Not, and I accurately predicted that I would watch it because it starred my dear Heather Graham. I don't know, I thought it had potential, but that turned out to be just me. If ever a show got railroaded quickly...
* Good to see that Jake in Progress got cancelled, though. How many of those mid-life crisis shows do we need to endure? And speaking of, What About Brian finally came and went pretty fast, too. Programming executives, mostly male, love shows about that one youngish guy who can't get his shit together, but they're never any good. Brian was created by J.J. Abrams, whom I'm now certain I don't like at all; Lost I put down to Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. Abrams has barely worked on it. I don't know, maybe I'll Netflix Alias and watch the first season in its entirety.
* I still don't really know what the fuck Rodney is.
* Commander-in-Chief seems to prove that no show is too good for Steven Bochco to run it into the ground. I don't know, they're blaming him for it. I nevr saw the show, though I was hoping to at some point. From what I hear, it started off as a strong show, then Bochco changed the direction, and the ratings died. Too bad, this could have been very interesting. I guess ABC is waiting for the show where a young guy who can't get his shit together becomes president and starts dating a model or something.
* I still don't know a single person who watches George Lopez. But now I don't know a single person who watches Freddie, either.
* I got into Lost when they started rerunning it last summer; then they started skipping episodes, so I waited for the DVD and watched it all the week before the second season started. And despite all of the reruns and the sporadic schedule, I'm still with it. I just hope it doesn't start pissing me off again, because this season really dragged. For the millionth time, would it be so bad if we reduced everything down to 12 episodes and no filler? Because solving the mystery may be beside the point for the creators, but for the viewers... I mean, does anyone complain about a 14-episode season of an HBO series dragging? Just saying. And to kill Michelle Rodriguez! Not only was she the sexiest woman on the show, she was one of the only characters with any depth that I cared about! I would've traded almost anyone on that show for her. Especially Jack. And especially Kate.
* Can anyone tell me if Invasion was really as crappy as it looked? Because it looked so crappy that I didn't watch it. That one chick was hot, though.
* I also predicted an early cancellation for the remake of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, but I think everyone else did, too. Network audiences just don't like overt SF. Look how the SF on Lost gets pushed to the side. I was wrong about Invasion (I thought ABC would cancel that very early), but Hot Properties did get cancelled, which I also predicted.
* Last year, I said that ABC seemed to have little faith in their schedule, because almost everything had a new timeslot. And given the shuffling and cancellations that went on, I guess I was right. Is ABC even interested in creating shows people will watch, or are they just filling time now?

CBS
* I still think of CBS as the network for old people.
* Are they finally going to cancel The King of Queens? Because it's enough now. I watch the reruns sometimes on a local station because I think it's cute and I've adored Leah Remini ever since she was on Saved by the Bell (and I even watched that piece of shit she used to be on with Sharon Lawrence). But come on now.
* Oh, I get it. How I Met Your Mother is a straight ripoff of the British series Coupling. I mean, a heavy, heavy ripoff. I caught this show at some point in January for about four weeks, and then I had to stop. The two guys are annoying dipshits played by terrible actors, and Alyson Hannigan is cute as always but has nothing to do. Neil Patrick Harris was brilliant, though. Too bad he wasn't on a good show. Bad framing device, too.
* Last year, I said that I'd never once even thought about watching Two and a Half Men. It continues to be true.
* I still don't think people are watching Survivor.
* Fuck, enough with shows about lawyers! Even if they have Jenna Elfman! Who fucking cares about Jenna Elfman?!
* I watched the last four episodes of Ghost Whisperer. At first, I thought it was something I could watch. J. Love is still hot, I adore Aisha Tyler, and there are so few really good genre shows on right now. True, it's based on Van Praagh, whom I despise, but in a fictional setting, I can deal with it. But that season finale, with the guy who was supposed to be the devil or something? I call BULLSHIT! Sorry, no more for me.
* Wow, until I looked back at the CBS post, I forgot that Threshold even existed.

NBC
* NBC has really become the show for people who just want to waste time before going to bed. They're not really doing anything to catch the attention of the audience anymore.
* I tried to watch Medium, because I love Patricia Arquette and people told me it was pretty good. But Kelsey Grammar as Death? Who is writing this show, the staff of the 1965 Batman sitcom...er, series? I don't think I need to ever tune into this one again.
* I did vow, a year ago, that I wasn't going to watch My Name Is Earl. Now it's become one of the only shows I will make time for. I loved it, I loved everything about it, and I can't wait for more. If it comes out on DVD, I'll buy it. Sometimes first impressions are wrong.
* I can't believe people are watching The Office; after its first season showing, I thought for sure it was doomed. I adore this show and its surprising depth and sympathy. I already bought this one on DVD; give me the second season, I'll buy that one, too. I know it's heresy, but I'm actually starting to like this one better than the British original. I just wonder where they can possibly go from that season finale.
* I can't believe anyone ever liked Will & Grace, which was somehow even shittier than Friends, Frasier, and Everybody Loves Raymond combined. Good to see Joey is gone, too.
* ER does seem to be alienating people; I mean, the few people who didn't stop watching it three years ago, when it was still almost good.
* Is Crossing Jordan still actually on?
* Wow, until I looked back at the NBC post, I forgot that Fathom even existed.

FOX
* I never watched Prison Break, because no matter how long it's on, it still looks incredibly shitty. Still, as a serialized show, it made sense. But to extend it past one season is just an asinine idea, and I've read a lot of bloggers who say they're not going to watch it anymore. My mom described it as "a thinker," so I know it must suck.
* I kind of want to like Bones. I've seen it seven or eight times or something, but I find it hard to pay attention to. It's like they don't know what direction to take the characters in, and the big holographic Bat-computer is ridiculous. I like David Boreanaz on it, but they can't find the character; he's "off-model," as it were, pretty often. I like Emily Deschanel, too, but her character is a cliche of the Lt. Mary Jane variety. If this gets renewed (and I think I remember reading that they did), they really need to get some decent writers on this thing to hammer out the direction they want to take it in.
* I tried to watch House once. To quote another TV doctor: "I don't like it."
* Boy, whatever happened to Stacked?
* Did The Gate ever even air?
* I'm glad that Fox started showing King of the Hill again, and even renewed it. I love that show.
* I know I ask this every year, but: isn't it time to put The Simpsons out to pasture now?
* Jesus, The Loop was even worse than I thought it was going to be.
* This year's Fox cancellations (pre-upfronts): Kitchen Confidential (who didn't predict that?), Head Cases, Reunion (good concept, lame execution), Malcolm in the Middle (alas), and Arrested Development (you fucking bastards).
* Thank you for bringing Katharine McPhee into my life, but can we please make next year's American Idol somehow take less than an epoch to finish? Because it's so fucking boring after a couple of weeks, and it feels like a chore to watch.
* Can't wait for this year's upfronts. Is Fox still the network that will put literally anything on the air and see if it sticks? I think they are.

The WB
* Remember briefly when it was the "dubba-dubba-dubba-ya-bee"?
* Of course, the WB and UPN are merging into one network next year, the CW, and like many, I'm on the edge of my seat to find out what is staying and what's going.
* Does anyone still watch Gilmore Girls? That thing wore itself out by the time Logan came on. I can't even watch it anymore. I still think they're going to cancel it.
* I never saw Supernatural. Was that any good?
* That last episode of Reba sure felt like a series finale. But I really hope not. I like it, and I love JoAnna Garcia. And what the hell happened to Living with Fran? Cancelled or what?
* Modern Men was big piece of shitty shit. God damn you, Bruckheimer!
* I've expanded my feelings that Blue Collar TV should be wiped from the planet; so should anyone who watches it.
* Pepper Dennis: Girl Reporter, or whatever the hell its called, looks like crap. I don't know anyone who's seen it.
* Gee, looks like I was right about the crappy scheduling of non-like show with non-like show. They scrambled to work that one out after just a month of programming last year. It'll be interesting to see how the CW works itself out, won't it?
* I saw a lot of commercials for The Bedford Diaries, but did they even air it?
* Cancellations during the year: Just Legal, Seventh Heaven (which has been resurrected for the CW), Related, What I Like About You (goodbye, Amanda, my love), Twins (which was wretched), and Charmed (only four years too late).
* Shows that never aired: Misconceptions. Probably for the best, it did have French Stewart.

UPN
* It was never a real network, anyway, and now it's merging into the CW. I have a feeling it isn't going to be so, you know, black-oriented. Is this the death of the African-American sitcom?
* I don't really know what these shows are: One on One, All of Us, Girlfriends, Half & Half, Sex Lies & Secrets, Love Inc., or Eve, but I know one of them has Kyla Pratt and she's suddenly got herself all sexy.
* Still never seen America's Next Top Model. Tyra Banks is a bitch.
* Still haven't seen Veronica Mars, but it is in my Netflix queue.
* I watched the first five episodes of Everybody Hates Chris, and I thought it was... okay. Vastly overrated. I stopped watching it; it was nothing I hadn't seen on other shows before.

Other Shows
* I've managed to break away from watching so much damn Disney Channel, since they cancelled Phil of the Future (you motherfuckers) and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody is just so damn bad, despite the presence of the delicious Brenda Song. Hannah Montana is total crap, and Miley Cyrus is amazingly unappealing.
* Even though I don't watch The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, or Deadwood, there's always something on HBO for me. I've really gotten into Big Love; it's not very good, but I'm always anxious to find out what happens next week. Chloe Sevigny has been doing some of her best, most complex acting. I have to say that, even though I love Curb Your Enthusiasm, this last season should be the last one: they can't ever top that ending. And I can't wait for the new season of Entourage to start. And why can't they just air Real Time with Bill Maher all week long? And is Rome coming back, or what? And The Comeback is about the worst thing HBO ever aired...
* I'm glad to see that "Cartoon" Network renewed Robot Chicken, but I keep missing it, and every time I turn on a weekday rerun, it's a first season episode. What the fuck? I love that show, but they need to air it a lot more. I also find Moral Orel pretty hilarious. And I hear The Venture Brothers is coming back!
* Oh, VH1, that can't really be the end of So NoTORIous, can it? I was enjoying the hell out of that. Tori Spelling finally found her niche! I'm also glued to Hogan Knows Best for completely prurient reasons.
* Did anyone catch The Closer on TNT? I always hoped they would put it up On Demand, but they never did. Is it any good?
* I really enjoyed Daisy Does America on TBS, and I wouldn't mind seeing another series.
* I love what he did, but I never really thought Comedy Central's The Colbert Report was that funny. I don't even watch it anymore.

Well, that's all I can think of. Bring on the upfronts, and the summer programming!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dellamorte Dellamore

Anchor Bay Entertainment is finally releasing one of my favorite movies, Cemetery Man, on DVD on 13 June. I've waited a long time for this to come out, so I'll probably end up buying it right away. I think I must own more Anchor Bay DVDs than any other kind; they released Dawn of the Dead (the original), The Wicker Man, the good versions of the Evil Dead trilogy, many of Dario Argento's movies (which is enough to recommend them) and most recently, the Masters of Horror series (which I plan on reviewing when I see the entire thing).

The film follows Rupert Everett in an underrated performance as Francesco Dellamore, a cemetery caretaker who, with his partner Gnaghi, keeps a night watch to kill "returners"--the recently dead who have risen from the graves. But Franceso falls in love with a beautiful young widow (and it's Anna Falchi, so can you blame him?), and must choose between doing his duty and having what he wants. The ending is one of the biggest mind-blowers I've ever seen, but I won't spoil it for you. See this movie.

Cemetery Man is based on Titziano Sclavi & Angelo Stano's great Italian comic book Dylan Dog, but takes a real departure under the direction of the great Michele Soavi (whose previous film, The Church, is also on DVD from Anchor Bay in an uncut version and has the lovely Asia Argento in it). It's gory as hell, sure, but it has an interesting fairy tale element to it that makes it a deep, affecting, unforgettable movie.

I can't wait.

Theories of Ice and Fire

A couple of theories on George R. R. Martin's exciting series, A Song of Ice and Fire. If you've read those wonderful books, it'll make sense. And if you still want to, there's lots of spoilers here.

One: Ned Stark is not Jon Snow’s father.
He is the son of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Ned’s sister, Lyanna Stark, and therefore the heir to the throne of Westeros. Howland Reed knows the truth, which is why he is not participating in the war. Lots of people believe this theory, so I'm not going to get real deep into it. But do you remember when Jeor Mormont's crow called Jon a king?

Two: Daenerys is Azor Ahai reborn.
It’s all in the prophecy the Maegi told Cersei as a child: that another queen, younger and prettier, would take everything away from her. Cersei thinks it’s Margaery, but she’s way off. There is a prophecy that Azor Ahai, the Defender of Dawn, is destined to be reborn. Melisandre thinks it’s Stannis Baratheon, but it’s got to be Daenerys. Azor Ahai’s sword, Lightbringer, was forged three times. The first two times, it broke; when he plunged it into the heart of his wife, it held. Dany tried to hatch the dragon’s eggs three times; the first two times, she failed, but when she burned them on her husband’s funeral pyre, they hatched. Are the dragons Lightbringer? Some people think Lightbringer might be the greatsword Dawn of House Dayne. This is especially intriguing if, as some people believe, Edric Dayne is the third head of the dragon. Dawn was forged from the metal of a fallen meteor.

Three: The Prince Who Was Promised is still alive.
In the Houses of the Undying, Daenerys sees several things, one of which is the birth of her cousin, Aegon, to Rhaegar and Elia. In the vision, Rhaegar calls Aegon "the Prince Who Was Promised." George R. R. Martin himself has hinted that Aegon might still be alive. So who is he? He has to be a little older than Daenerys, which counts out Podrick Payne (whom some people think is connected to the future). Some people point to Edric Dayne, which might make sense, given his past connection to Jon (they were milk brothers). Plus, Edric has the Valyrian silver hair and purple eyes of the Targaryens. But I’m betting on Samwell Tarly. The question always comes up: why leave the heir to Westeros with gruff old Lord Randyll Tarly? Well, because Tarly is a Targaryen loyalist who fought against Robert Baratheon in Robert’s Rebellion. This makes sense, too, when you consider that Lord Randyll forced Samwell to join the Watch and renounce his claim to House Tarly; Randyll wanted it for Samwell’s younger brother. Could it be because Samwell is not his real son, and Lord Randyll despairs of a Targaryen return to power? Either way, I’m certain that the Prince Who Was Promised and Azor Ahai reborn are two different people.

Four: There is a conspiracy of Targaryen loyalists moving against the Lannisters.
The conspiracy is most likely led by the Martells and the Tyrells, and is being orchestrated mainly by Varys the Spider in conjunction with Magister Illyrio, who helped to protect and raise Daenerys and Viserys. When Arya hears the conversation under the Keep, it seems clear the two men are Varys and either Illyrio or Maestar Ballabar (who is a servant of the Redwynes; Lady Olenna Tyrell is originally a Redwyne). We also know that Prince Doran Martell wants revenge against the Lannisters (specifically Gregor Clegane) for the murder of his sister, Elia, who was the wife of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Elia was killed by Gregor during Robert’s Rebellion. The Martells have a much larger part to play yet, and Doran is one of several who have sent an envoy to find Daenerys. Furthermore, I think even the church is in on this scheme; look carefully, and you’ll notice that Marwyn the Mage, whom Samwell meets at the Citadel, is at Magister Illyrio’s party at the beginning of A Game of Thrones. What’s going on here?

Five: King Joffrey was not the target of the poison; Tyrion was.
Tyrion is a cunning man, and at the time of the wedding, was married to Sansa Stark, whom Lady Olenna Tyrell wanted to take to Highgarden to wed one of her sons. Lady Olenna would recognize the importance of Winterfell (and after Robb’s death, Sansa is heir to Winterfell) and want to secure an alliance with the North. Getting Tyrion out of the way would only strengthen the Tyrell position when the Targaryen line is restored. It seems to me that Littlefinger provided the poison through Dontos the Red; Littlefinger gave Dontos a comb with a pearl in it to give to Sansa, Olenna fiddled with it and took the pearl out, and suddenly Joffrey was dead. But why kill Joffrey? To protect her granddaughter, Margaery, from Joffrey’s temper? Lady Olenna is smarter than that; she would have been perfectly able to protect Margaery and put Joff in his place. If Olenna was behind the murder (and I have no doubt that she was, despite some rather loopy theories that the poisoner is Tywin and the target was Joffrey), then the target must be Tyrion. It’s important to note that Joffrey did not die because of his drink; he takes Tyrion’s pigeon pie and eats that, then starts to choke and drinks his wine before dying. Even though Littlefinger was involved in this murder, I don’t think he’s involved in the Targaryen conspiracy. He probably only provided the poison and just assumed later that Joffrey was the real target.

Six: Coldhands is not a character we’ve seen before; he is going to make Bran king of the Wildlings.
Coldhands seems like a wight, and he wears the garb of the Night’s Watch. But I don’t think he’s Benjen Stark, as many seem to. Frankly, I’m certain we won’t see Benjen ever again. I think Coldhands has been calling Bran over the Wall for some time; he is obviously the three-eyed crow of Bran's dreams. The Wall has been a source of fascination for Bran, and in one dream, the crow showed Bran something terrifying beyond the Wall and said, "Now you see why you must live." Bran obviously has something to do; I think it’s to unite the Wildlings against the threat of the Others. We now know that Bran is a warg, and that he can enter and control Hodor. Perhaps the two of them will be able to lead the Wildlings into the north (probably to settle in the Gift) and into their own kingdom. I also don’t think that Mance Rayder really has the Horn of Winter; the real Horn of Winter has to be the one that Ghost found on the Fist of the First Men. And I think Bran is going to find it, too.

Seven: Ser Gregor Clegane is not dead. Sansa will kill him at Winterfell.
It’s obvious that Oberyn Martell’s poisoned spear did not kill the Mountain That Rides. In A Feast for Crows, it’s pretty clear that Cersei is sending a replacement head to Prince Doran and that her lackey, Qyburn, has been able to save him. Bran has a crow dream in A Game of Thrones of his sisters with three shadows around them. The first, with a hound’s face, is obviously Sandor Clegane the Hound. The second, with beautiful armor, is Jaime Lannister. The third is "a giant in armor made of stone, but when he opened his visor there was nothing inside but darkness and black blood." The sheer size of the shadow, as well as the stone, leaves little doubt that it must be Ser Gregor. In A Storm of Swords, Arya hears the dreams of the Ghost of High Heart; one dream says: "A maid at a feast with serpents in her hair, then the same maid slaying a Giant in a castle of snow." Sansa is the maid; the serpents in her hair is the poisoned pearl that killed Joffrey, and the feast is his wedding. It is said that the second part of the dream merely foreshadows when she destroys Robert Arryn’s doll after he wrecks her snow castle at the Vale. But that would be too easy and insignificant for one of George R. R. Martin’s prophecies. Winterfell would also be a castle of snow, and the Mountain is gigantic. Every shadow--the Hound, Jaime, and the Mountain--must play a large role in the lives of Arya and Sansa. The Mountain and Sansa have yet to cross paths.

Eight: Sandor Clegane is not dead.
Nothing can make me believe that George R. R. Martin would kill a character this dynamic, this interesting, and with this much focus on him, offstage. Until we see the body, I don’t buy it. The Hound is out there, and he’s going to come back into the lives of the Stark girls. He only hates knights because his brother burned him; despite being a rank opportunist, he has some sense of honor, and has defended both Sansa and Arya in the past.

Nine: Euron Crow’s Eye had Balon Greyjoy assassinated.
Melisandre doesn’t take credit for this murder, and the Ghost of High Heart dreamed of a man with no face waiting on a swaying bridge, with a drowned crow with seaweed hanging from its wings sitting on the man’s shoulder. The story is given out that a gust of wind knocked Balon into the ocean, killing him. But the man with no face implies a Faceless Man, an assassin. The crow is harder to decipher. Most people assume that it’s Euron Crow’s Eye, who has been successful in taking the throne of the Iron Islands, is a great mariner, and has coincidentally shown up just as Balon is dead. Euron has probably been to Braavos, where he could have hired a Faceless Man. But the crow is drowned and wears seaweed, and so does Aeron Damphair. But Aeron has renounced his claim to the throne; what possible motive would he have to kill Balon? To make Victarion king? I have to think it’s Euron this time around. An interesting thing to ponder: Is Varys a Faceless Man?

Ten: A dragon has been released from Winterfell.
Both Jon and Bran have feelings of dread about the crypts beneath Winterfell; Jon has a recurring dream that something about his destiny is down there, while Bran dreams something to do with Jon is in the crypt. Is it the truth, that Jon is the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna? Or is it something much more physical; a dragon, the symbol of Jon’s true parentage? Most of the characters assume that there are dragons in Westeros that can be reawakened in fire. Perhaps Summerhall was destroyed in an attempt by Rhaegar to raise one. Stannis needs to sacrifice royal blood to awaken a dragon at Dragonstone. But when Winterfell is burned, Bran’s direwolf, Summer, looks up in the sky and sees a lizard in the sky, breathing fire. Some people think it is how Summer views the comet; but who can say for sure? Even Osha says "We made enough noise to wake a dragon."

Eleven: There is some kind of connection between the Targaryens and Podrick Payne.
I think that Brienne of Tarth must be descended from Ser Duncan the Tall, if only because the design of her shield is the same as his (she remembered seeing it in her house as a child). She comes from a modest house, and she is often described in the same terms as Dunk: tall, lanky, unsure of herself. If she is meant to recall Duncan, her companion, the child Podrick Payne, must be meant to recall Aegon ("Egg"). I can’t bring myself to think that he must be the third head of the dragon, and he’s too young to be Daenerys’s supposedly dead brother, Prince Aegon. But there must be some connection; otherwise why keep him around? And why try to purposely make the reader think of the Dunk and Egg stories? Maester Aemon, a Targaryen, keeps talking about Egg throughout A Feast for Crows, too.

Twelve: Something very important lies in Tyrion’s future.
He’s always being referred to as a giant in a dwarf’s body; sometimes, he’s called kingly. He has more in common with the Targaryens--his interest in wildfire, the way the dragon skulls under King’s Landing call to him--than with his Lannister family. Some people are convinced that he is the third head of the dragon, but I'm not so sure. Where is all of this foreshadowing leading?

Nick Cliche

At last, it’s here: Nick Lachey’s second solo album, the one rumored to be about his rocky marriage and breakup with Jessica Simpson. Since Becca is a) a Nick Lachey fan, and b) an employee of Borders who gets promo copies of albums, I knew it was only a matter of time before this thing ended up in my lap. I don’t do enough music reviews (I always wanted to), so here’s one.

Nick Lachey’s first album, Soul-O, came out during the run of Newlyweds and just laid there (conversely, the show helped turn Jessica’s third album, In This Skin, into a hit; the difference is, her album is good). This album sets out to be Nick Lachey’s first real musical statement; and in that respect, it fails. Unless, of course, middling pop star is the musical label he really wants. As a vehicle, it’s almost a decent launch; but for a man his age, it’s a slow start, bogged down by self-pity and a complete lack of emotional depth. Here's a breakdown, song by song.

WHAT’S LEFT OF ME
It actually doesn’t sound like it’s about Jessica, despite the video for the thing (right down to the wedding ring on a chain disappearing scene). Sounds more like a love song, although it’s a little pleading. Sounds pulled from the last Backstreet Boys album, crossed with a little neo-Coldplay production, and turned into some fake-emo piece of crap. Sadly, it’s probably the best song he’s ever done, tied with the song 98 Degrees did with Stevie Wonder for the Mulan soundtrack. He wants to be serious, but he can’t shake the boy band persona and the boy band flourish.
Self-pitying lyric: “I don’t wanna waste another day stuck in the shadows of my mistakes.”

I CAN’T HATE YOU ANYMORE
More of the same; nice, but predictable. Accusatory, but without the balls to be damning. “You’re not the person that you used to be, the one I want who wanted me,” he sings. “And that’s a shame, but there’s only so many tears you can cry.” He’s more concerned that his audience feels sorry for him than whether or not he gets across any genuine emotion. His whiny voice doesn’t help, either. The big rumination: “Sometimes you hold so tight it slips right through your fingers.”
Self-pitying lyric: “I’m letting go of everything we were; it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.”

ON YOUR OWN
A little too slick and polished to be what he wants. So magnanimous, too, promising to wait for his “only love I’ve ever known” to find herself. But he’ll always be there for her. This is the whole theme of this pussy album: walk all over me, I love you. Pathetic.
Self-pitying lyric: “When you’re lost the only light you had to guide you, and you’re cold and barely breathing, I will find you and carry you back home.”

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
Tries to be a reawakening, realizing he’s no longer a part of his own world. Lots of whiny self-regard, but the song comes across about as fake as any of Nickelback’s “heartfelt” songs about life and shit.
Self-pitying lyric: “Wasted moments trying to be someone I never wanted to be for you.”

SHADES OF BLUE
So fucking whiny. Are there any other facets to his personality right now? By this point, the songs are completely fading into one another. The vocoder effects are incredibly cheesy. “Why did you have to leave?” he whines. “Why did you have to set me free?” Once again, another song with no fucking clue about itself, and yet another song with the same theme: I set you free because you needed to find yourself, and I don’t understand it, but I’m a good enough guy to let you go... for now.
Self-pitying lyric: “The only peace I find is pretending that you’re still lying next to me.”

BEAUTIFUL
Wow; now the angry critiques really come off. Since Nick has no idea how to critique himself, he looks at his woman, lamenting that she’s “gonna sell your soul under the lights,” and is angry that “you’ve got it all but still you long for more.” In other words, why wasn’t I enough for you? She’s drifting to “the empty place” where she once was, and he seems to really hate her for it.
Self-pitying lyric: “Don’t ever let the mirror tell you lies, just look at your reflection through my eyes.”

EVERYWHERE BUT HERE
The message is clear here: stay home with me, damn you. I should be enough. It’s rather stridently antifeminist, completely against the idea of a woman (especially a wife) having her own career. There is also a double meaning in the lyrics: why aren’t you with me anymore? My life doesn’t make sense without you. But the other meaning stabs through violently.
Self-pitying lyric: “It’s a mystery how you can be everywhere but here.”

I DO IT FOR YOU
Accusatory (“the way you keep pretending is such a crime”) and massively whiny, but so fucking pleasant. He can’t commit to what he’s feeling; he wants to be liked by the women in his audience so bad that he can’t really bare his soul. He’s doing the Backstreet Boys, but this song calls for a stark Nick Cave sound.
Self-pitying lyric: “I want you to burn, I want you to steal, I want you to bleed, and see how it feels, I want you to beg, I want you to crawl, give more than you take, and smile through it all, and know that everything you do, I do it for you.”

RUN TO ME
Even for a Nick Lachey song, this is overproduced; probably because the song suffers from such a lack of confidence. We’re back to the recurring theme: I’ll let you go and find yourself, and I’ll find you when (presumably, he decides) it’s time to come back. His self-pity is so unappealing, so strident and utterly gormless, as though he has no idea how he comes across. He thinks he’s being genuine, but he’s so prepackaged and slick; he’s too much of a plastic product to be able to convey a deeper meaning.
Self-pitying lyric: “When I was lost, hangin’ on by a thread, I knew that I could run to you, find myself again.”

GHOSTS
This song is some kind of add-on; it’s produced and written by the overused Kara DioGuardi and some other people. Everything else on the album is produced and written by the same people. I hate when they add a song by someone else on these things; it breaks up the uniformity of the album. This song has nothing to say, and the production is pretty obvious; in the song, Nick claims to be ready to move on. It’s obviously been added so that the album has some kind of affirmation to it, instead of being 100% loathing; if there’s a second single, I’ll bet you a thousand dollars this is it.
Self-pitying lyric: “It is easy to have fallen into a world that is so maudlin [. . .] I will leave it to exist somehow.”

YOU’RE NOT ALONE
Laughable in its attempt to use hard guitars and sound “dark.” It’s about as hard as your average Evanescence piece of junk. And after “Ghosts,” the return of the bile-spewing anger is pointless; does Nick really need one last round of hatred to aim at his wife? We get it, you’re pissed. It’s tiresome by now, and this song is genuinely more hateful than what’s come before. This is the wrong place for this song; it should have come earlier. The “dark” sound, though, gives way too early for more of that pleasant, lame sound, and still, still, no matter how pissed off he is, he promises to be there and rescue her when she finally burns out and, by implication, gets this silly career thing out of her head and is ready to be the woman he really wants. It’s so fucking smug.
Self-pitying lyric: “Do you really know me? Do you really see me?”

RESOLUTION
Stark, black and white, and at least pretends to be emotionally honest. Nick professes “I just wanna be the best man I can be,” but it sounds disingenuous after everything that’s come before. Coupled with “You’re Not Alone,” it’s pretty jarring and almost mean. It’s only Nick’s (admittedly good) voice with a piano, and it’s the only song that comes close to how this album should sound. But, like with the entire album, it’s too plastic to work; he isn’t genuine, he’s trying to appear so.
Self-pitying lyric: “All I want is something real that I can feel.”

It’s better than Soul-O, but what isn’t? As usual, this is totally the wrong type of music for Nick. He’s one of the only white men I’ve ever heard who doesn’t sound like a complete douche bag when he sings Stevie Wonder songs; he actually has a voice for real soul music. But he can’t shake being a boy band member and move on from it. As for What’s Left of Me, he doesn’t hate himself enough for the album to work. To interpret the lyrics, the only thing he ever did wrong was to love her too much; he doesn’t realize how condescending it is, or how tiresome. He only has one facet. The album tries to be a boy band Blood on the Tracks, but without the varying attitudes of Bob Dylan: “Tangled Up in Blue” is bemused and honest, “Idiot Wind” is snide and disingenuous, “Shelter from the Storm” is grateful and heartfelt. Here, every song is whiny and fake; Nick doesn’t have the balls to be honest about how he sees his life, so he couches bilious, toxic criticisms of his situation and his wife inside melodies and harmonies that are comforting and generic. The music is far too soft for what are jarring lyrics; it’s like drinking watered-down beer. He doesn’t take any chances, except the chance that, were he still married, Jessica would have a lot to think about how much he resents her.

Is this album about Jessica? You’d have to be a complete idiot not to think so, especially with Nick co-writing ten out of the twelve songs on the album. He began this album when the last season of Newlyweds was filming; the anger he tries but fails to express goes back before their breakup. It was already there when they were married. Nick wants to ask: “What do you need that I can’t give you? Why wasn’t I enough for you?” The answer is obvious to anyone who watched Newlyweds: because he was condescending, commanding, and too much of a pussy to stand up to her father. He always wanted to sacrifice her career for his own, was short with her, acted like a sullen child who pouted and became passive-aggressive when he didn’t feel included. He was obviously jealous of the attention. He never seemed to stand up to her enough to curb her very bratty tendencies.

And now, after months of carousing with anything that walks, breathes, and has a pussy, he decides he still loves his wife? Amazingly, just before this album comes out. Dude, are you seriously using your impending divorce as publicity for your album? It’s the kind of move a little bitch makes, and this is little bitch music. Maybe Nick Lachey should be asking for spousal support; based on this album, his music career’s going nowhere.

Nick’s got a decent voice, but his real problem is that he has no idea who he is and what he wants to say. He could move on from this into something that is less pleasant and more emotional, assuming he’s not so timid the next time around. He’s going to have to alienate someone rather than what he’s doing now, which is trying to be someone anybody could like. If you wanted to buy your grandmother something for Mother’s Day, here you go. Sadly, this album is the best thing he’s done musically, but I can’t imagine anyone listening to it even a year from now.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day


Electronic Cerebrectomy would like to wish Liv Tyler, Britney Spears, and all the other sexy mommies out there a happy day just for them. And if no one is getting the love they deserve on this day, I am willing and able to make you feel special. A special message from SamuraiFrog, President of the United States of Love. Posted by Picasa

Sunday Hottie 67


MONICA BELLUCCI Posted by Picasa