Saturday, September 29, 2007

Link Rogers

It's time for the links from the second half of September. Yes, it's monthly now.

* I found FranIAm's three-part series on 9/11 especially moving: parts one, two, three.
* Angry Ballerina has some tips for pole dancers and gets called a racist.
* Marius has a very interesting post regarding sissies.
* Newsweek has a story about a guy who followed every rule in the Bible for a year and is pushing a book about it. Not sure I buy this guy's story, but it's kind of interesting.
* Speaking of God, Byzantium's Shores has a simple but apt summation of that chick on The View who thinks the world is flat.
* I dare someone to try Splotchy's horrific-looking recipe involving M&Ms. He also is disguted with McDonald's, but not for the usual reasons.
* Jess Wundrun is right: playdates are ruining our country.
* Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein has a sad but very lovely reminiscence about his sister.
* The Sapient Sutler talks angst and children.
* No Smoking in the Skull Cave finds some weird pornographic drawings in an old book.
* Lazy Eye Theatre has a story about his son and violence that I found very interesting.
* Read about the world's scariest Celine Dion fan at Apropos of Something.
* RADAR has 100 awkward icebreakers.

Ken Levine has had some excellent posts, including Levine's Laws (ditto the one about Rob Schneider, god damn it), an excellent idea for High School Musical 3, not one, but two posts of Emmy observations, some thoughts on 30 Rock, and some thoughts on Bionic Woman.
* Splotchy reviews the movies 1408 and Live Free or Die Hard.
* Sleestak remembers Joe Kubert's birthday.
* Meanwhile, Dr. Zaius remembers Aquachick!
* MC found a great video crossing The Simpsons and Star Wars. I know, I know, but seriously, this one is actually good.
* No Smoking in the Skullcave looks at a classic Lee Marvin movie, and then looks at pictures of Aria Giovannni, Dayna Delux, Jessica Kramer, Aria Giovanni again, and Keely Hazell.
* My lovely Cap'n Dyke has another episode in the adventures of Muffin, Cross-Dressin' Bear O' Mystery. Long may he adventure!
* Marius has some thoughts on the media's dismantling of Britney Spears.
* Daniel Radcliffe does something with his tongue. I just know Becca will want to see it.
* The All Movie Guide has a post about some of the MPAA's stupidest ratings decisions.
* What Would Tyler Durden Do? proves Dane Cook is a worthless douche by unveiling his new single. Yes, new single. Dane Cook is a singer now.
* Cracked: The 8 Manliest Musicals. Manlier than Dane Cook's new single, anyway.
* Entertainment Weekly lists what they think are the 10 best episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. They're so, so wrong. And I am a nerd.
* retroCRUSH interviews Bangle Debbie Peterson.
* Also at Cracked: The Ten Best Animated Movies for Traumatizing Kids.
* Lazy Eye Theatre elucidates a hatred for Rain Man (it deserves it) and presents some of the great film monologues.
* Hollywood Rag has pictures of Coco that turn me on more than usual. Seriously, though, are you sure she was born a woman? Not that it turns me off, or anything, I just ask.
* Cracked once more: The 10 Most Disastrous Saturday Morning Cartoon Adaptations, by the great Peter Lynn. He's always worth reading. Also worth reading: the stupidly hilarious flame war in the comments section. Who says Americans don't have their priorities straight?
* MWB remembers the greatness of Jim Croce.
* Cityrag combines two great things: cats and Anne Hathaway.
* Despite the title of this post at My New Plaid Pants, there's no such thing as gratuitous Thomas Kretschmann.
* Tom the Dog is doing his reviews of the new fall shows. That link is for the master page. Read them! They're way better or more in-depth than mine.
* Will you dumbasses for once listen to Roger Ebert when he talks about aspect ratio?
* RADAR lists the overhyped. Suck it, Beckhams.
* I've been meaning to point this out for a month: The Animation Podcast has an interview with Ray Harryhausen.

Lee has a hilarious Aquaman parody up at Quit Your Day Job. There's the intro; go and read parts one, two, three, four, five, and six.

I had to steal this perfect picture of Milla Jovovich from Mob. Now if only she'd lose the undershirt. And put on jeans. And a dog collar and an eyepatch. Add pirate boots and strap a guitar on her back and give her the same hair Bowie has on the Aladdin Sane cover, and... I'm getting carried away. Hey, let's do the political stuff.

* The New Yorker has a long piece on how to withdraw from Iraq.
* DistributorCap on the Bush press conference.
* Jess Wundrun on lead in lunchboxes, the creepiness of Ghouliani, and Ahmedinajad in New York.
* I'm on board with Chris and his devangelism plan.
* Dr. Zaius comments on the debate. Is it me, or do the debates get more and more pointless?
* Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein also has debate comments, as well as Bush's unhappiness, a comparison to Germany's government, and a two-part look at a freedom march he participated in here and here. Dr. Monkey also interviews Fraud Thompson; in case you missed them, he's also interviewed Dunky Hunter and Tommy Thompson.
* Bob Cesca: America Used to Be Really Goddamn Awesome
* David Mizner on why Hillary Clinton hates you.
* A soldier takes on Rush Limbaugh, also at The Huffington Post.
* Bill Maher on Iraq as the new Enron.
* The Rude Pundit on Giuliani, Bush, and things that surprise Bill O'Reilly.

Yay, it's nearly Halloween! Here are some early Halloween-related posts:
* retroCRUSH has the top 20 zombie movies, an interview with Rob Zombie, and the 30 greatest ghosts.
* X-Entertainment remembers The Real Ghostbusters Halloween Special and checks out Edy's Pumpkin Ice Cream.
* I-Mockery tells you what goes on in those dark houses, designs a haunted house for wicked Christians, and notices that Halloween is encroaching on Christmas for once.
* And Splotchy presents the newest Green Monkey Music Project mix: Can't Wait for Halloween.

Well, that's it for this month. I may have intermittent Halloween links throughout October, but otherwise there'll be more links at the end of the month. Enjoy!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Ella, Ella, Ella, Hey, Hey, Hey

I got an email from Carl the other day in which he quipped: "It's a good thing Rihanna isn't British, otherwise she'd have to call her hit single 'Bumbershoot' instead of 'Umbrella.'"

Silly joke? Very much so. But I opened the email at work and laughed my ass off. It's exactly this kind of intellectual wit that's more amusing than hilarious that becomes vital to my survival now that I'm working in an office full of idiots. Nothing against (some) of them, they're just very... simple. And they know that I'm an English major, so they ask me all kinds of questions about words and punctuation and stuff like that now.

I notice this kind of joke seemed much funnier to me while I was a student, too.

Thank you, Carl, for helping me keep sane while trying not to drown in a sea of morons.

My Duffster's 20th Year

Happy Birthday, Hilary Duff

Break Out the Giant Martini

Happy 35th, Dita!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

TV Report: What I'm Watching

I'm experiencing the same thing I experienced at the beginning of the 2006/2007 TV season: there's a glut of stuff to watch. I've got a full week of shows, but I did last September, too. Some stuff got cancelled, some stuff got boring, and some stuff just doesn't last too long. Here's the rundown of what I'm currently enjoying.

Sunday
I decided to start watching The Simpsons again, having enjoyed the movie last month. It seemed stronger than usual, so we'll see where it ends up going. I'm actually TiVoing it right now so that I don't have to catch it, because sometimes I do just get tired of watching it. Also, of course, I'm watching King of the Hill, although it's not a good sign that the season premiere started so over-the-top. That's not the strength of this show. As for Family Guy... I had mixed feelings over their big Star Wars episode. Family Guy showed once again that it finds a lot of comfort in simply recycling material. Some of it was just shot for shot, music for music, practically rotoscoped, full on quoting from Star Wars. It's not creative, and it gets tiresome. You can level every criticism at the show in general--it steals material, it thinks references are funny for their own sake, jokes go on way too long, it's not remotely clever, the cutaways are just absolutely stupid--but I also know that fans of the show don't care. And I enjoy it sometimes, it's just that it's frustrating more often than it's funny. The Star Wars episodes had some good moments here and there (I thought the couch gag was hilarious, endless as it was), even some great in-jokes, but for the most part it just seemed like it could have been a half-hour instead of the full hour, since a great deal of it was just Star Wars shots with limited animation over them.

That said, my favorite moment of the episode was a reference: when the Millennium Falcon in hyperspace ended up being the Doctor Who opening credits, Tom Baker and all. So, I'm a geek. You knew that.

Curb Your Enthusiasm is back on. Love that show. Am I the only one who thinks Larry is usually in the right, and everyone else is overreacting? Maybe I'm just surly. And then there's Robot Chicken on Adult Swim, plus episodes of the five-minute series Minuscule and Aardman's Shaun the Sheep on Disney Channel, which are more brilliant than anything Cartoon Network's had on in a while.

Monday
See my NBC post: Chuck, Heroes, Journeyman. Plus, I'm TiVoing Weeds and Californication on Showtime. I'm surprised how much I've grown to like Californication; I actually care about whether or not Hank is going to end up getting back with his ex. I just wish they'd re-up the show's formerly high nudity quotient. It's unbelievable enough to see a writer getting laid so much, at least they could get some tits back on the screen. Come on, Madeline Zima, you know you want to take your top off again, dammit!

My best TV moment of the week so far happened on Weeds.

Kay Panabaker is on Weeds!!!

Okay, I know I'm the only one who will care about this development, but it means a lot to me. I was smiling and smiling when she came on the screen. I first saw her on the Disney Channel series Phil of the Future, and I just fell in love with her. Amy Bruckner reminded me of my sister Ellen on that show; there's something about Amy and about Kay that make me think of the daughters I'd like to have one day. I see Kay and I just want to adopt her. Whe was also on Summerland, which I ended up watching in reruns when I found out she was on the show; there are movies (especially on Lifetime) that I've seen just because she was in them. I love her, I can't get enough of her, and I really hope they keep her on Weeds. It makes up for getting rid of lovely Zooey Deschanel and bringing on scraggly Mary-Kate Olsen. I hope I have a little girl just like Kay one day.

Oh, and also I saw The Big Bang Theory, Dharma and Greg creator Chuck Lorre's latest attempt to find people who are opposites and get them together. I found the interplay between the two lead nerds, Leonard and Sheldon, pretty funny and well-timed. And Kaley Cuoco was cute, although she's not particularly funny and there's really no character there yet. It's the kind of thing I could watch if nothing else were on, but I don't know if I'm going to give it a Season Pass yet. It's cute, and there were some jokes I genuinely found hilarious, but it just seems so outmoded. In the days of single-camera comedy, traditional sitcom makers are really going to have to dig for new ground to make the traditional, canned laughter, multi-camera shows seem less tired. The Big Bang Theory doesn't do anything new, going for the tired setup-punchline string. Maybe it'll get funnier. Or maybe, like Dharma and Greg, it'll get inexplicably irritating.

Tuesday
Well, Beauty and the Geek is back, and once again I've found myself sucked into it. They've pulled a twist this year and made one girl a geek, and one guy a... well, technically he's a beauty, I guess, but his overly-waxed eyebrows, intense gaze, greasy hair, and constant posing seem to make that label incomprehensible.What Sam at least does is prove for the audience that being a looks-obsessed, self-obsessed, overly-made-up bimbo is not just for the type of women they have on the show. And even the girls don't seem to like this creepy pretty boy. He's a "club promoter," which means he basically gets paid to lure girls into a club, which is the pretty boy version of being the hawker outside a porno theater. His big advice to geeks? "Stop. Just stop being a geek and be cool." Sigh, some people need real problems.This girl, Jasmine, a professional babysitter, is almost superhumanly dumb. Sam makes her sound like Stephen Hawking. Seriously, she's dumb. Most of the women I know hate it, but she's the kind of girl who is so stupid that I just want to protect her. She needs to find a good guy to take care of her, because she's far too stupid to survive in the wild.Becca's favorite girl was Amanda, the aspiring Playboy centerfold. I found it hilarious when Amanda came on the screen during the auditions (they showed auditions this year, I guess because they finally hipped to the fact that more people like the American Idol auditions than the actual competition), and Becca gasped and fell in love. Unfortunately, Amanda was the first eliminated, and now Becca doesn't want to watch the show anymore.My favorite, of course, is Hollie, the girl whose sexiness is cartoonish and who, fittingly, plays Betty Boop at a theme park. I want to buy her and keep her as a pet. One day, Hollie. One day.

I also caught the premiere of Reaper, and I have to say that I found it funnier than any of the new shows I've seen so far. There's not much else to say about it yet, but it's hilarious. And Ray Wise was awesome as the Devil. I am definitely going to keep watching this one.

Wednesday
Hump Day is a quiet one for me; I'm only watching Kitchen Nightmares. I know, but I like Gordon Ramsey, and the BBC version of Kitchen Nightmares is probably the best show he's ever done. Of course, this show being American, the histrionics are much more pronounced and people are way more uptight. But it's not bad.

I tried to watch Gossip Girl, but it took less than three minutes to see how awful this was going to be. It's this kind of stuff that makes you see how creative Cruel Intentions really was: it knew it was silly and did things in a playful way instead of a serious way. This is the kind of pretentious crap where everyone acts like 18th century French aristocracy. The voiceover is especially awful; Kristen Bell reads her narration as though she were reading something fun and wickedly sinful, but really it's just stupid. And it makes her look stupid. Although, judging from the one episode of Veronica Mars I've managed to see, narration isn't really her strong suit.

Thursday
Tonight's going to be all about the premieres of My Name Is Earl, The Office, and my current favorite show on TV, Ugly Betty. ABC Family showed a marathon of Ugly Betty last weekend, and I'm back on pins and needles, especially about the fate of Santos. I still think it's the perfect show; I hope it doesn't stumble in the second season the way that, say, Earl did.

Friday
Fridays are Real Time with Bill Maher and pretty much nothing else. Unless there's a new Hannah Montana on. Yep, I said it.

Saturday
Now that BBC America's got it, I'm giving Torchwood another chance. It's really not a very good show, but I'm interested in the revelations they apparently make about Captain Jack Harkness (especially given the throwaway revelation about him from this series' Doctor Who finale). And BBC America is airing the second series of Doctor Who, so I can catch the repeats for episodes I particularly liked: last week was "School Reunion" (My Sarah Jane!) and this week is "The Girl in the Fireplace," a tour-de-force.

And that's the week as it stands right now, then. We'll see what gets cancelled first.

TV Report: Now on NBC

Well, the new fall season is finally upon us, and I've been sampling more new shows than I actually thought I would. As you may have figured out, I am a tad picky when it comes to what I'm willing to watch, so here are some brief words about what I actually did.

I really only watched Journeyman because it was on after Heroes and it starred Rome's Kevin McKidd. Lucius Vorenus being one of my favorite TV characters from the last several seasons, I decided I'd give it a chance. From what I understood, the show was about a man who becomes unstuck in time and.... oh, wait, that makes it sound like it rips off Kurt Vonnegut. I want to get the level of ripoff just right here. See, Kevin McKidd stars as a newspaper reporter who suddenly finds himself traveling uncontrollably through his own past, helping to put right what once went wrong, and hoping that each leap will be the leap home. Yeah, it's a well-worn premise. You get it.

So, I watched Journeyman, and I thought it suffered from the biggest problem that most American genre shows sufffer from: too much atmosphere. We don't even get to know this guy or what his problems are before he's jumping all over the place. There's no real character here yet, and that's a big hole in the pilot. There was a nice moment at the end, with McKidd's character proving to his wife "I'll always come home," but it seemed like the writers built this show backwards from the payoff. There was at least one twist (involving McKidd's dead lover, played by the beautiful Moon Bloodgood) that excited me, but I felt more like I was watching participants get moved around a game board more than characters enveloped in a story. But I'm going to keep watching it for a few weeks and see if it picks up. If it doesn't, I'll probably ankle it.

As I predicted months ago, I fucking hated Bionic Woman. I could've directed and written this thing in my sleep, because I knew it would have all the same problems that most SF has on TV these days: style over substance, atmosphere over story, forced cool instead of ideas, game pieces instead of characters. There is so much nothing to this show. The only idea here seems to be that it worked for Battlestar Galactica, so why not Bionic Woman? Actually, this put me in mind of SCIFI's recent attempt to do the same thing with Flash Gordon, which is a complete failure. At least Bionic Woman got some money spent on it.

Back when they originally announced this show, the only interesting idea was that the main character would have a deaf sister that she'd have to care for. That, at least, seemed to give the show a human center. But over the summer they recast the sister and made her instead the kind of typical chip-on-the-shoulder, angry, whiny stereotype that TV loves to use as a shorthand. Better to err on the side of stupid than actually have to contemplate things with character or ideas. There's nothing going on there that makes the character interesting outside of being able to do cool stuff like replay the scene in Spider-Man where Tobey Maguire realizes he can leap long distances. Well done there.

There's no point here. We don't get to know or like the character before she's thrust into this situation, and even afterwards there isn't a person in there. This is my biggest complaint about a lot of entertainment now: it's not entertaining. It's not for people. It's for robots who just want things to look cool and over-the-top. And I know there are people who like to tell me that this is what entertainment post-9/11 is supposed to be like, which I don't understand at all. It's like saying that, since 9/11, entertainment doesn't have to actually be entertaining in order to be entertaining, which is just a little precious and a lot ridiculous. There are creative ways to do it, and then there's Bionic Woman. I can't be entertained unless I'm engaged on some level, and there's nothing relatable there. And I'm not talking about levity or a sense of fun or winking at the audience or anything like that. I'm talking about earned tension and earned suspense. I'm talking about character and humanity and the glint of an emotion or an idea. If you can be entertained by random imagery with no connection, then fine, good for you for never advancing past the stage where you were easily amused by daddy jingling his car keys. Some of us like to have an actual story where actual people do actual things. Situations and concepts are not enough to substitute for that.

And Michelle Ryan... she bores me. She's an alright cypher, I guess, but she's not particularly talented or personable. Granted, I haven't seen Battlestar Galactica (I really don't have the interest), but I did see her on Jekyll, and there wasn't much there that made me think she needed her own vehicle. And I still don't.

Chuck, on the other hand... I loved Chuck. The concept is pretty damn silly--that an almost aggressively dorky guy who works at a Geek Squad analogue now has every government secret in his head because he read an email--but somehow the execution works. I think it's because Chuck embraces its inherent ridiculousness. Pairing an ordinary loser with a beautiful secret agent isn't really covering new ground, but as the story unfolded I came to really like the characters. The makers of this show know that it's over-the-top and unbelievable, so they go with it by making things even more over-the-top and unbelievable. It's the total opposite of Bionic Woman; it's enjoying itself instead of pretending it's too cool to revel in its own premise. Bionic Woman thinks it's Really Important. Chuck just wants to be enjoyable. And it is.

So, Heroes is back on, and wouldn't you know it, Nathan and Peter are still alive. I was honestly looking forward to them being dead. They were the least involving characters last season (despite some stiff competition from Mohinder and Nikki/Jessica), and now they're going to be the least involving characters this season. Unless this guy West is as boring as I'm predicting he's going to be; he seems to be another in an endless assembly line of emo outsiders who live life by their own rules and try to force the cute girl into being who he thinks she should be and doesn't give a shit what you think, which you know because he's always telling you that after you notice the obscure book he's reading at an angle that screams "Hey, I'm a Rugged Individualist Reading a Book You'd Never Read! Notice It So I Can Tell You How Much I Don't Care If You Notice Me!" But Hiro was awesome, and I'm glad they're going to touch more on this group of people who did something in the past and have set much of this stuff in motion. I hope they bring Christopher Eccleston back.

Still...doesn't it suck that this first episode reminds me of all of the problems I had with this show when it was on last year? It's far from perfect, but it's still good enough to make time for. So far.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Health Report: Week 41

There's not much to report this week. I'm feeling better (especially from last week, when I was sicker than hell), but I still think my job sucks and still want to do something else. It's dead at work right now, which is a mixed blessing, but since I'm part-time, I'm getting off early nearly every day.

I'm looking into my options. With a BA, I think I can get certified to substitute teach for grades 1 through 6. I think that, at this point in my life, for what I want, subbing wouldn't be bad. You don't have to work every day, which is honestly good for me, because I want time to seriously devote to my writing career. I think that's the biggest issues I'm having with work; I don't want to be like a lot of the people I worked with at Barnes & Noble, who really wanted to teach or write but got caught up in working every day. I'm going to make this happen.

I was talking to one of you via email last week, and this person made a lot of sense and was very insightful at pegging my problem. He said that depression was not really a sadness but a sort of crippling lethargy that made it hard to clear your mind and focus, and he's absolutely right. I have a motivation problem, and a focus problem. I am sort of back at rock bottom, especially with my weight and my eating habits, and that just adds to the lethargy. I can't get motivated, and I can't focus on being motivated. Thanks for kicking me in the ass there a bit, because your words made sense. You know who you are.

Things to work on, then: my weight, my attitude, my focus. He suggested counseling and even medication, things I've been scared of and which, thanks to my upbringing, I'm reluctant to seek out. I've always felt that problems should be dealt with alone, and that it's weak to look for help. But, obviously, this approach hasn't exactly been a big help to me over the years. Maybe, one day, when I actually have money to spend again, I can look into that. Because I need something to help me see what's important and what I can do and what I'm capable of. My health is shot, my self-esteem is for shit. That needs to be fixed.

Man, 41 weeks in. I thought I'd have made some real progress by now. And I guess, in some ways, I have. I'm more aware of what I need to do, I just need to snap out of it and do them. I really did manage to let go of a lot of the things from the past that kept dragging me back down. And that's pretty good. Now it's time to do better.

Otherwise, I wanted to share these pictures. What kind of bird is this?

That night a couple of weeks ago when it was 37 degrees overnight, I opened the blinds and saw this on my porch balcony. He was surprisingly placid (or frozen) and I was able to take some pictures of it. I had to go to work, or else I would've waited for it to warm up and fly away so I could get a better look at it, full-bodied. It's obviously some kind of hawk, but it seemed small (and I've seen a lot of gorgeous hawks in flight around here). I think maybe it's an American kestrel, but I'm not sure. If anyone knows about birds and can tell me, I'd love to know.

Next week: progress! At least I hope so. I worked out today for the first time in weeks, so that's something. I'm going to go back to my morning walks, too. We'll see what happens.

My Beautiful Scream Queen

Happy Birthday, Brinke Stevens

Monday, September 24, 2007

September Is Hispanic Heritage Month

Y ese los medios es hora para otra reducción anual del Latinas atractivo que adoro.

ADRIANA LIMA

ALESSANDRA AMBROSIO

AMERICA FERRERA

ANA BEATRIZ BARROS

ANA ORTIZ

CATALINA SANDINO MORENO

CHARISMA CARPENTER

CHRISTINA AGUILERA

EVA MENDES

GISELE BUNDCHEN

JENNIFER LOPEZ

LEONOR VARELA

MARIBEL VERDU

MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ

NINEL CONDE

PAULINA RUBIO

PAZ VEGA

PENELOPE CRUZ

SALMA HAYEK

SHAKIRA

SOFIA VERGARA

THALIA

VANESSA HUDGENS

VIDA GUERRA