Saturday, August 18, 2007

Stuff for Me, A to Z

All the cool kids are doing it.

Issac Asimov -- my personal hero and my favorite writer. I'm getting closer and closer to being a tenth finished with my goal of getting a copy of wach of the 515 books he wrote.

Bone -- one of my favorite comic books; the conscience of Pogo, the artistry of Cerebus, and the epic quality of The Lord of the Rings.

Comics, comics, comics! -- Oh, how I still love comics. From superheroes to epics, indies to a little Manga, I love the comics. And the strips, too.

Dinosaurs -- because, hey, they're awesome.

Harlan Ellison -- my other favorite writer and a huge influence on my snarkiness, my intellect, and my writing.

The Flash -- still my favorite superhero.

Glam Rock -- my single favorite kind of music; glam and anything that sounds glam, like Queen. From Bowie to T. Rex to the Sweet to Mott the Hoople to Slade to Cockney Rebel to Roxy Music to Wizzard to Alice Cooper to Hello to many, many others.

Hong Kong Cavaliers -- I want to be one so bad.

Ub Iwerks -- the man who drew Mickey Mouse and directed one of my favorite cartoons, The Skeleton Dance. And he helped start Disney, the company that essentially owns me.

Scarlett Johansson -- of course! That beautiful starlet! She's the ginchiest!

Kermit the Frog -- and all the rest of the Muppets!

Language -- one of my chief interests, especially how it changes over time and how few people in America seem to be able to learn their own.

Madness -- one of my all-time favorite bands; their music makes me smile. Hail Lord Suggs!

New Romantic/New Wave -- my second favorite subgenre of music. Adam Ant, Prince, the Human League, the Bangles, New Order... too many to get into.

Oz -- a place I still love to visit. 14 wonderful novels by L. Frank Baum; many more by many others.

Playboy -- my favorite magazine. I don't care if it's cliche or not. Still the best political reporting I see. And the naked women don't hurt.

Quotidian -- I just love that word. I also love the word Quixotic. And Querida; I especially love Querida. Lots of good words start with Q.

Robots -- because who doesn't love robots? Any and all robots, I love them: Cybermen, Daleks, B-9, Artoo Detoo, Rodney Copperbottom, Daneel Olivaw, Tik-Tok, Norby, Robbie, Gort, the Iron Giant, Mechagodzilla, Bender, K-9, Optimus Prime, Tom Servo, the Vision, the original Wonder Man, the original Human Torch, the Awesome Android, the Metal Men... almost any robot. Except for Twiki. I hate him.

Bedrich Smetana -- my favorite piece of Romantic era art music is Smetana's Ma Vlast, or My Country, which contains the beautiful "Moldau" and the majestic "Vysehrad."

Tarzan -- I still want to live like him, among the animals with the woman I love and no society for me to get pissed off at.

Uncle Scrooge McDuck -- a great character, a great comic book.

Vixen -- is she woman or animal? I don't know, but I'm going to name my daughter Vixen. Or Ayla. Or Pim.

Doctor Who -- continuing to delight me throughout my life. "Hmm? Doctor Who? What's he talking about?"

Xmas -- not a Christian, but I really do love Christmas. And yes, I love commercial, Elvis music, "Chipmunk Song," greeting cards, Santa with a Coca-Cola Xmas. I especially love hearing those morons prattle on about "You're x-ing out the Christ!" for their phony War on Christmas fears, while ignoring the historical fact that the Greek letter chiasmus (symbol X) was used in Ancient Rome as a symbol of Christ when they were meeting underground. So, actually, X is a Christian symbol. Learn your own history, Jesus Fan Club.

The Young Ones -- only one of the many, many British comedies I dearly love. I tend to follow Vyvyan Basterd's approach to problems: "This calls for a special blend of psychology and extreme violence."

Zappa -- for "Peaches en Regalia" alone, man.

Wow, there are so many other things I could name. Many, many things. This was fun!

I've Never Been Deciphered

Your Score: Linear A

Not much to say, really. You're Linear A, the first alphabet ever written by the proto-Greeks - at least, as far as survives. Unfortunately, you made a bad career move and ended up being used by accountants and fish mongers, rather than to record epics. However, you did manage all your SEC filings on time.

The Which Ancient Language Are You Test written by imipak on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test.

Ride Me!

You're a Horse!

Versatile, powerful, and true, you have quite a reputation for hard work and a certain unbridled spirit. Many look up to you as an example of what people can really become, though somewhere deep down, you admit to feeling a little bit broken. You hate racing, but are still exceptionally good at it. Beware broken legs, dog food, and glue. If your name is Ed, you do a surprising amount of talking.

Take the Animal Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Có thê...

You're Vietnam!

After years of muddling through on your own, you've finally repaired yourself to a point of respectability. You would have been much better off had people you didn't like not kept insisting on spending so much time with you. But those times are fading quickly and these days you're pretty sure you won't get burned. Star power!

Take the Country Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid

Oh, man, Dr. Monkey gets to be a fun country.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Throwdown 8/17

15 random thoughts, questions, and observations for the week.

1. I’m just not feeling Sweeney Todd. Frankly, I’m tired of Tim Burton and I’m tired of Johnny Depp, too. I’m just not interested in Tim Burton’s latest attempt to be just bizarre enough to interest people and just conventional enough not to make them nervous. His films are safe and, since 2001, boring.

2. Wow, even I’m not buying this Evan Rachel Wood media attack. We get it, you’re quirky and weird. If you’d asked me a few months ago, I’d say you had the talent to not have to pander like this. Maybe I was wrong.

3. I just heard Amy Winehouse is going to be on The Simpsons this season. The report didn’t say, but my guess is she’s going to play an anorexic junkie gypsy who can’t sing anything interesting and vomits a lot. Just a guess.

4. Avril Lavigne, apropos of nothing, said she likes to run around naked when she’s drunk. She also said “Buy my new album!” and “Please, please, God, just pay attention to me!!!”

5. I think it’s hilarious that Nicole Scherzinger is going to have a solo career. She already does: she actually sings every frigging part on that Pussycat Dolls album. Still, I’m interested to see what her sound is going to be. Is she still going to be propped up by big-name producers and guest rappers on nearly every damn track? She can obviously sing, though, so maybe she’s got a good career in pop ahead of her. Hey, as long as we don’t have to look at the rest of those hideous walking love toys, I’m fine with it.

6. It’s just hard to get the media when they keep mixing their messages. Not only does this ad hold up anorexic Keira Knightley as a model of beauty, it also uses photographic enhancement to make her boobs look much bigger and rounder than they are. So not only is it promoting Chanel, it’s promoting anorexia and big breasts at the same time! There’s no standard for beauty, but how about finding what’s beautiful about any woman, instead of telling her that being painfully skinny and still having huge boobs is all she should be?

7. Speaking of fake boobs, here’s Paris Hilton, denying that she has them: “I don’t need it and I would never get it. It's gross - and it always ends up looking really fake. But if a girl is miserable and that's the only way to make her happy, then that's fine. Years ago I asked my dad for a boob job and he said it would cheapen my image. So I decided not to do it.” Seriously, now, what do you guys think? Do you think she really assumes everyone is dumb enough to believe what she says? Or do you think she just has no level of self-awareness whatsoever?

8. What do you think? Photoshopped like mad or just Britney’s face on someone else’s body? Or, I guess, we could just all play along with what she wants us to think and just assume Britney’s 1999 body was magically restored?

9. What do you imagine this smells like? I’m thinking sweat, shame, musty drapes, old cigarettes, stale sheets, and dried cum. But then, that’s what I always imagine the Beckhams smell like.

10. They should immunize for stupidity. There’s a rumor going around that Jessica Alba may have gotten herpes from Derek Jeter, which implies that Jessica Biel, Mariah Carey, and Vanessa Minnillo (whoever that is) may also have it from him, which also implies by extension he’s given it to Cash Warren (whoever that is), Nick Lachey, and Justin Timberlake. God, people are stupid. Not just for the herpes thing (seriously, how hard is it to protect yourself during sex, idiots, it’s not like condoms are brand new), but also for even going near Jeter the Cheater. God, I fucking hate him, and hope one day I will have the pleasure of landing a punch right on this idiot’s nose.

11. And speaking of Justin Timberlake, can HBO just calm the fuck down? Enough with the pretentious ads! You’re airing a live concert of a flaky Michael Jackson wannabe, not getting first broadcast rights to an exclusive interview with a returning Jesus.

12. Do you ever get annoyed at these celebrity activists who claim there’s too much violence in the world but have no problem exploiting it as entertainment for a paycheck?

13. I didn’t write about the Karl Rove resignation. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I mean, I’m surprised he’d resign with an election coming up and so many other evil people he could go around playing Grima Wormtongue for. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he’s gone (for now), I just think the announcement came at a weird time. Are we invading Iran as we speak, and the Rove thing is a distraction for the media?

14. Tom Tancredo says we should bomb Mecca and Medina if the jihadists attack the US again. Tom Tancredo is a moron. This is the kind of logic that shows why he will never be the president of anything, much less our country. He thinks threatening Mecca and Medina is a deterrent, when it’s actually going to just create more terrorists. Plus, Mecca and Medina are in Saudi Arabia, an ally. Moron.

15. The awesome failure of the No Child Left Behind Act is up for reauthorization. President Duh says it needs to be renewed so that children can have the curriculum they “need” to get from one grade to another. Hey, here’s a radical idea for education! How about we use it to make the kids smarter instead of just making sure they move from grade to grade?

I Told You, Never Link a Monkey

Hmm, what's this supposed to make me think of? I mean, that I don't already think of when I see pictures of Gwen Stefani?

* Splotchy has posted the first Green Monkey Music Project mix, which I was too late to participate in, dammit. He also has a trip to the Illinois State Fair and non-mouthwatering uses of the word fudge.
* J.D. repeates one of my favorite movie monologues. Yes, it's from Scary Movie 3, but it's funny.
* Peter Lynn posits what Dane Cook's political material might be like.
* Becca has pictures from WizardWorld Chicago here, here, and here.
* Tom the Dog reviews the horrible-sounding new Flash Gordon, sends a message to those "first poster" idiots, and, like me, thinks Zac Efron is a creepy fuck.
* Conversational Terrorism (thanks, Dr. Zaius)
* Ken Levine tells you how to interview a celebrity.
* Exquisitely Bored in Nacogdoches posts about a Disney classic.
* Allen L.'s Guide to Adam Ant.
* MC has one of the funniest videos I've ever seen: Child Beater II: The Revenge.
* PJ found a great cartoon statue.
* Mental Floss has a so-so special effects quiz.
* X-Entertainment has the weirdest bathroom reading material I've ever seen.

Hey, that's what the government is doing to us! What else are they doing?

* Jess Wundrun on the Rove resignation and what Dick Cheney used to think about invading Iraq.
* Tengrain on the great achievements of President Duh.
* Realitology on the "wonderful" economy (via Fairlane).
* The Rude Pundit on Mitt Romney's gay kids.
* Bob Cesca looks at Rove's claim that Bush is "Middle American" and not an elitist.
* Gareth Porter on Cheney and Lieberman's plans for Iran.
* Dr. Zaius on the surge and FISA.
* Infidel753 looks at the Ukraine's precarious election.
* Cracked: The 6 Most Over-Hyped Threats to America (And What Should Scare You Instead)
* And Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein hates Wal-Mart, explicates the difference between fascism and socialism, asks some questions no Republican seems to have an answer for, and questions Bush's non-elitism.

Who News

Well, the fourth series of Doctor Who has started filming, and rumors abound everywhere.

Apparently, producer Russell T. Davies is leaving the show at the end of this series. But what makes up for that is the rumor that Steven Moffat is going to take over the reins. I’m absolutely thrilled about that. Not only has he written four of the best episodes of the new series, he’s also the creator of two great BBC series, Jekyll and Coupling.

Does anyone know if David Tennant really does intend to leave the series, too? I’ve been hearing it a lot; there’s even a rumor that Moffat’s Jekyll star James Nesbitt may be the next Doctor, which I don’t think I’d hate. Still, it’s hard to tell what to believe from the Who rumor mill; I’ve also heard that Ben Kingsley will play Davros this season and/or that the Rani is going to return. Still, if Zoe Lucker were to play the Rani…

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Viral Marketing, Part 3

I cannot wait to see Superbad. Here are Michael Cera and Jonah Hill in a fake press junket interview being conducted by Edgar Wright. Hilarious stuff, NSFW language.

There Must Be Light Burning Brighter Somewhere

For me, Elvis Presley was always a good cautionary tale about what could happen to you if you surrounded yourself with self-serving pricks.

Thirty years ago today, Elvis Presley died, bloated and drugged, tired and, at the age of 42, prematurely old. His career had been one of ups and downs, of triumphs and lies, of shock and irrelevence, and, saddest of all, of a crippling lack of self-awareness. Elvis was a great singer with a great personality, but he was without the ability to see how much he was being exploited, and the effects it had on his personal life, his relationships, and his health.

But he was a great singer. I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't aware of Elvis. He's just part of a Midwestern American upbringing--you're gonna see John Wayne, you're gonna watch Mickey Mouse, and you're gonna hear Elvis. Hell, I remember my dad telling me that when he was very young, in the late fifties and early sixties, my grandmother wouldn't allow him to see any movies unless they were John Wayne movies, Disney movies, or Elvis movies. Elvis has just always been a part of my life, and I like having him there. There's something about his best music that's reassuring and warm. Manufactured pop music? Sure, but who cares? He sells it well.

That's really the thing Elvis had going for him. He could project this image of a guileless but sincere man who connected with his music. It's the same thing Sinatra did--sold it with sincerity, no matter what it was. Elvis's detachment came much later.

Elvis was kept stupid by his manager, "Colonel" Tom Parker, a shady man who didn't want anything to make his cash cow to aware of its value. Elvis was lied to and kept in the dark, even when his film career faltered and people stopped paying attention to him. He was cut off from people who could've enriched his life and, because he was some dumb hick from rural Mississippi, he didn't realize it. Personal growth wasn't encouraged nor, really, was artistic growth. He was given over to a systematic exploitation, and it finally killed him.

That's why That's the Way It Is, his 1970 concert film, is kind of painful to watch. He's so detched from his music, tossing off the Vegas performance in a way that seems to say to the audience "I know, it's bullshit, but what're ya gonna do?" He's bloated from drugs and overeating, and sweating like mad. It's like watching a man who was once so promising be relagated to a sideshow for the rest of his life. Even the movies didn't want him anymore.

That's why I'm posting this video again: "If I Can Dream," from his 1968 comeback special. This is what reconnected him with audiences. In this special, he makes fun of his image and the mistakes he's made in overselling himself and coasting on his reputation, and seems to make an artistic promise that was never really fulfilled. This is the time that Elvis seems most self-aware, and it's actually inspiring. I'm sorry he never turned it around. I'm sorry people were so bent on exploiting him that they're still exploiting him to this day. He'd be 72 years old if he were alive today; he was taken much sooner than a man should be.

But he had this one moment that made it all worthwhile for me.

TV Report: More Random

This summer I've mostly been keeping busy watching shows on cable and on DVD. I've seen a hell of a lot of British comedy this summer that I never got the chance to watch before, and I loved almost all of it. By far the one I liked best was The Vicar of Dibley. Richard Curtis really knows how to wring feelings out of you, and genuine feelings at that. He's never bitingly funny or witty and satirical, but he does observe a gentle, humorous side of human nature that I enjoy. I also quite enjoyed Ardol O'Hanlon's series My Hero, which was slapsticky and very silly, but genuinely funny. The only one I saw that I didn't like was The Worst Week of My Life, which always looked funny to me but was far too earnest and terribly boring. It was like a poor attempt to re-do Coupling, but without the wit (right down to the casting of Sarah Alexander).

Other than that, here's a bit about some of the other shows I've been watching, completely at random.

Big Love (HBO)
This was a show I was on weird terms with the first time around. My mantra right to the finale was: "I'm not sure if I like it or not, but I want to see what happens next." I liked some of the characters and a number of the actors, especially Chloe Sevigny, whose Nikki Grant is one of my favorite television characters and easily one of the more complex. This second series, of which two episodes remain, is much more assured than the first. Now that the set-up is out of the way, it can tell its story, and it's become a very tense and anxious one. I'm enjoying it a lot more this time around. I hope it can keep it up through the finale.

Entourage (HBO)
Why do I watch this show anymore? It's not a show that I really want to make the time to watch like I used to, and I find that episodes tend to stay on my TiVo for days before I finally watch them. It's gotten stale and repetetive, I think. I've never really liked the characters; the business aspect of it was always my favorite part. But that's just repeating itself now, too. I hate the character Billy Walsh, and everything keeps getting reduced to him being a freaky artistic type and not doing what everyone wants and pissing everyone off, but everything (like everything on this freaking show) magically turns out wonderful and okay. It's getting really old. Good call on adding Anna Faris, though; I love her, and I hope she's around for the rest of the season. It'll make up for getting rid of Carla Gugino, fuckers.

Weeds (Showtime)
The third season finally (finally!) premiered this week, and I loved it. It did not disappoint me at all. I caught the first two seasons on the internet earlier this year, and I thought they were great. I like shows where there's a lot going on, as long as it doesn't get too full of itself or too complex for its own good. And I especially love Mary-Louise Parker on this. And Justin Kirk, I think he's great. There's something about this show that isn't necessarily funny, just kind of audacious--it's over-the-top to ask an audience to believe a show like this, but that's the fun of watching them try to pull it off. Great stuff.

Californication (Showtime)
I still don't like David Duchovny. And I'm not sure this show is remotely interesting. But the nudity factor is extremely high, which is nice, especially in a country increasingly terrified of sex but in love with violence. Note to the producers: thank you for this.That Madeline Zima is a beautiful girl.

Footballers' Wives (BBC America)
I adore this show. I know there are no redeeming qualities to it, no matter how much I am deeply in love with Zoe Lucker, but I still love it. They do this kind of show so badly in America; they never really embrace the sleazy silliness of the whole thing, and that's a real shame. This show is like a textbook on how to produce over-the-top, sexy soap drama and still make it actually fun to watch. It's just so happy being what it is that I love it. One thing, though: please take the character Jackie Webb off this show. Her son cracked up, she had Jason Turner's intersex baby and had to pretend it was her grandchild, her husband was murdered, she was raped by her stepson, and she was nearly raped again by her husband's boss. Hasn't she been through enough, man?

Robin Hood (BBC America)
After John reminded me that this was meant to be a kids' show, I took another look at it. I liked the first couple of episodes a little better this time, but after a while, I got tired of it. It's pretty lame, actually, sort of a British version of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys but not as much fun. The leads are pretty bland (damn, Marian's got a lot of makeup on), although I like Sam Troughton as Much quite a bit (which is nice, considering how much I hated him on Hex), and Keith Allen is having so much obvious fun playing the Sheriff of Nottingham as a right shit that he's actually a joy to watch. But I just stopped watching it and probably I won't see the rest.

Jekyll (BBC America)
Have you seen this? If you haven't, you have to start watching it right now. There are only five episodes, and they've aired three. See if you can catch some reruns on the weekend, this is a fucking great show. It's written by Steven Moffat, the writer of Coupling and some of the best episodes of the new Doctor Who: "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances," "The Girl in the Fireplace," and "Blink." James Nesbitt stars as Dr. Tom Jackman, a man with another, more dangerous personality who is apparently wanted by one of those shadowy agencies. He just wants to find out more about who he is. I have to admit, I really thought I knew which direction this show was going to go in, but it constantly surprises me. Nesbitt is excellent, creating two separate and distinct personae and commanding the attention of the viewer. It's tense and it feels very fresh; there's nothing this good on American television, especially in the realm of science fiction. Plus, it's got Gina Bellman on it!

Hell's Kitchen (FOX)
I really thought for sure they weren't going to do a third series, but apparently they're even casting for the fourth right now. Anyway, this series was much more obvious than the previous two as far as manufacturing situations goes. They're not even pretending this is real anymore, which is kind of too bad, actually. Still, I like Gordon Ramsey, and I enjoyed the show. I thought Bonnie was extremely hot and sexy, and that made up for a lot of other deficiencies. What can I say? Sometimes these shows are fun time-wasters, and this is one of them. They're ephemeral and then they're gone. I'd much rather watch this than any more fucking American Idol.

Hannah Montana (Disney Channel)
Yeah, I've been watching my usual Disney Channel shows. I know no one cares, but I just have to say, I really like Miley Cyrus. I think she's really good for what she does (a broad sitcom where she has to sing). She's not Amanda Bynes, but she's surprisingly aware of how she comes across and what she can do, and I like that. And she does a lot of physical comedy for laughs, and I like that too. I'm a man of simple pleasures in a complex world.

Masters of Science Fiction (ABC)
Two episodes in, and this anthology series is a bit of a wash. Of course, any anthology show is going to be uneven, but I think there's a lot of promise here that is being wasted. Like most SF series, it relies a little too heavily on twists and not enough on simply being smart and interesting. I'll keep watching it until the end, but it's not exactly at the top of my Season Pass.

Freaks and Geeks (on DVD)
It's been a long wait to get this on Netflix. I finally got the first disc yesterday and didn't waste any time watching the three episodes that were on it. I know I'm, like, the last person to point this out, but damn, that's some great television. I love this show. There are two things I especially like about it. First, it's one of the only shows I've ever seen about high school that is accurate to the feeling of being in high school. I wasn't a freak or a geek in high school, but I wasn't popular and I certainly didn't fit in with any one group. None of the characters really reflect me in total, but I identify with a lot of the feelings being expressed and the behavior being displayed. Most shows about school get the types right, but not the feelings. Freaks and Geeks does. And second, the show consistently surprises me. It doesn't go the same route as, say, a show like The Wonder Years. The plots never go entirely in a conventional manner, and I like that a lot. Also, there's a third thing I especially like: the complexity. So far, it hasn't relied on simple characterizations. It sees everyone, even comic relief characters, as people and not plot devices. It's like My So-Called Life without the whiny indulgence or the easily hateable characters. The characters are both unique and universal, and that's just good writing and good acting.Plus, Linda Cardellini is, like, insanely gorgeous. Like Jennifer Connelly was when I was ten years old; I'm that kind of crushing on Cardellini right now. What a waste it is for her to end up on a show like frigging ER.

That's about it for now. The new season starts soon, and I don't know if I'm really looking forward to any of the new shows. Of course, I'll be jumping back on to Heroes, Ugly Betty, My Name Is Earl, 30 Rock, The Office, and... well, that's it. I'm definitely going to catch at least the first episodes of Viva Laughlin and, to my surprise, Pushing Daisies, which probably isn't going to be any good but which, you know, maybe. I was thinking of checking out Bionic Woman, but the reports I keep hearing about the retooling being done make the show sound even less watchable to me. And the next series of South Park episodes starts on 3 October.

Well, there'll always be something on, at any rate.