Saturday, October 09, 2010

70 Years of John Lennon

"That's part of our policy, is not to be taken seriously, because I think our opposition, whoever they may be, in all their manifest forms, don't know how to handle humor. You know, and we are humorous, we are, what are they, Laurel and Hardy. That's John and Yoko, and we stand a better chance under that guise, because all the serious people, like Martin Luther King, and Kennedy, and Gandhi, got shot."

I May Have Unfollowed You

It's not because I hate you, or am bored with you, or you pissed me off in some way. I've been having some kind of weird problem with my Google Reader for a couple of weeks now, and I can't stand it anymore. So I'm unsubscribing from everything and using my very sloooooow Google Reader only for sites that post a ton of picture sets or entire issues of old comic books.

I exported my subscription list and have moved the other blogs I follow to Firefox's Sage add-on, so I'll still be reading everyone on an RSS, but I'll just be doing it on one that doesn't take me hours and hours to load and sort. I guess Google Reader's just gotten to that point that almost every web service does, where functionality becomes a secondary concern.

Anyway, if I've disappeared from your followers, it's just because I'm clearing out the stupid Google Reader and moving my subscriptions to a service that's easier to use (read: actually usable). I just wanted to let everyone know because I know how annoying it is to see your follower count go down.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Halloween: I Need to Eat These

Gummy Brain from ThinkGeek.

Roy Ward Baker 1916-2010

The director of A Night to Remember and two of my favorite Hammer movies, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde and The Vampire Lovers, has died. In this season when I watch Hammer movies with more frequency than any other, it's sad news to hear.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Halloween: Jack Skellington

Just a couple of pictures I snapped today when I noticed the candle made Jack look extra-creepy.
The Betty Boop was a gift from John. And the little girl in the frame on the left is my late sister Ellen. She's 4 in the picture.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A Death in the Extended Family

My friend John in Liverpool lost his mum, Marie, today. She hasn't been well for some time. She was chairbound for a year or more, and John's been caring for her as much as he can, putting things on hold and devoting as much of his time to her as possible. He had been sharing some of the things from my blog with her, and Marie started calling me one day out of the blue and we became friends. We would just talk about how we were both doing or politics or what we'd seen on TV. One time she told me about working at a relief station for American GIs during World War II. I think she just needed the outside contact, and I was happy to oblige, because she was very nice and we sort of understood one another. It sounded like John was mostly caring for her by himself, and not many people were coming to see her.

Last week, she had a minor stroke and was taken to a care center. John called me to talk about it. He took it very hard. He sounded relieved that she was getting more professional care, but also a bit guilty about feeling relieved, and it was strange to him not having her at home all the time anymore. Sadly, he sent me an email just now informing me that Marie had passed away.

I wanted to publicly share my sadness, because she liked my blog and I loved talking to her on the phone, and I'm going to miss her a great deal.

John's pain I can only imagine.

I think Marie raised a really great son; one who did all he could for her, and one who misses her very much. I think John is a good testament to her.

Goodbye, Marie. I'll miss you.

Halloween: Shaun the Sheep of the Dead

Trailer mash-up combining Shaun of the Dead with scenes from my beloved Shaun the Sheep. It's more funny than cute, but I put it up because I'm such a Shaun fan.

Film Week

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

Alan Arkin is very good as a seafood restaurant owner who thinks he's missing out by not having an affair. He makes three awkward attempts at it with a sexy, modern woman (Sally Kellerman), a flighty young lady (Paula Prentiss) and a friend's wife (Renee Taylor), but each time is a disaster. Along the way, there's much mid-life crisis introspection, pretty much what you expect from Neil Simon. Not a bad movie, but like a lot of Simon, it gets a little tedious. *** stars.

Jeff Daniels stars as a reclusive author who wrote a very popular book 20 years ago and is now trying to reconnect with the world. It becomes easier when he falls in love with a sunny chiropractor (Lauren Graham), but their relationship is rocky and, honestly, movie-manufactured. Most of the rocky moments they have don't come organically, but through the movie's need to keep the drama going. There are some great observational moments, but they're tempered by the way the movie meanders towards a grand point it never really makes. Kat Dennings and Olivia Thirlby have criminally small roles. **1/2 stars.

The only thing scary in this unbelievably ridiculous horror movie is Tom Selleck's hair. His car is pretty hilarious, though; they want Selleck to zip around the Philippines in this little roadster, but his legs are so long he can barely get out of it without stumbling. No stars.

Ugh. I hope someone apologized to George Sanders for putting him in this before he kissed the world goodbye. No stars.

Edward Fox plays a nameless assassin hired by a radical group to assassinate Charles de Gaulle. A procedural film, following the Jackal's preparations for the assassination, and the attempts of the British and French police (led by Michel Lonsdale) to capture him. It can be a tad dry, but it's also riveting. **** stars.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Halloween: Pancakes?

Sure, why not. Halloween ads are always fun. And, honestly, so are pancakes.

TV Report: No Ordinary Family, Etc.

I wonder how long No Ordinary Family is going to end up staying on the air. There's something a little too high concept about it that just doesn't really work. I can see the pitch meeting as I'm watching the show: "It's Modern Family meets Smallville!" and it doesn't make me enthusiastic.

The show centers on a family who get in a place crash and develop ironic, Marvel Comics style superpowers. Frustrated Dad wants to be strong enough to hold his family together, gets super strength. Harried Mom who can't make time for both her career and family gets super speed. Daughter who is always texting remains clueless about her cheating boyfriend and betraying friends; suddenly she's a telepath. Son with a learning disability becomes a genius. You can predict what their powers are going to be long before they get them.

The show has fairly likable characters played by likable actors (always glad to see Kay Panabaker show up; I adored her on Summerland and Phil of the Future), but it's hampered by at least five major problems. First, there's the predictability. A lot of critics have been referring to it as "The Incredibles without Pixar," but really it's just Fantastic Four. Second, there's the implication at the end that the show is going to get very mythology-heavy, which, after Heroes is not an encouraging sign. Too many characters and the show will just sink under the weight of them. Third, the lame framing device of Mom and Dad in marriage counseling, talking straight to the camera (a camera which never stops moving or shaking, making it hard to look at this show). Fourth, the fact that it's going to take this show far too long to decide if it's about superheroes first, or family first.

The fifth problem is that it's derivative. I'm still making my way through old Marvel comics, and after reading through the first 40 issues of Fantastic Four, you can really see where all No Ordinary Family has really done is advance television to a point comic books were at five decades ago. It's not really a groundbreaking concept, it's just a complicated one for network TV to handle. The second episode airs tonight, and while I'm still intrigued, I can already feel my interest waning.

Other stuff:

:: Last Thursday's was the best and funniest episode of 30 Rock in some time.

:: I can't even remember watching Saturday Night Live this week, except that they did another "What's Up With That?" sketch. I know it's just one joke, but I like it. It's punchy, it's silly, and I dig the music. It's random and stupid, but it's one of the only things SNL does anymore that makes me laugh.

Oh, right, sketch where Kristen Wiig is supposed to be sexy. I find that funnier than anything she's done on the show this season. Also, whichever new girl that was doing the Miley Cyrus impression, her impression is hilarious, but there was no point to that sketch other than it's supposed to be funny that teenagers are flighty and, um, young. Find something to do with it: the impression itself is really, really funny.

Zack Snyder Directing Superman

I like it.

It's no secret that I loved 300 and Watchmen, and I like the idea of seeing a Superman film in the same style. It's got to be better than that Bryan Singer abomination, at least. I'm still not xazzed about Christopher Nolan overseeing the whole thing (haven't seen Inception, but I really don't like The Dark Knight), but I'm really curious to see what Snyder does with it.

I know a lot of bloggers are ranting today about this, but frankly, consider that it could be Robert Zemeckis or Tony fucking Scott making the new Superman movie. I wouldn't even bother to see that mess.

The only problem I have right now is the news that the villain in this movie is apparently going to be General Zod. I think that's a lame idea. One of the biggest problems I had with Superman Returns--other than the terrible casting and that it turned Superman into such a pussy--is how slavishly devoted it was to Richard Donner's 1978 classic. It had the same score, it had some of the same shots, it had Marlon Brando... it was, as I said at the time, as if Bryan Singer just wanted to take Donner's work and sign his name to it. So hearing that the sequel to that lesser carbon copy may just be a lesser carbon copy of Superman II is pretty depressing.

Come on, guys, crack a collection of Superman Archives, or something. There are so many other villains out there besides Lex Luthor or Zod that haven't been seen in a Superman movie. Use Brainiac or Bizarro or Darkseid or Metallo or Parasite or Livewire or, shit, even Toymaker. At this point, I'd rather the villain were Mr. Mxyzptlk than just watching a remake of Superman II, no matter who directs it.

Step it up, DC. Bad enough Marvel just wants to offer me movies that are nothing but set-up for The Avengers. Make something worth watching.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Past Time for This Year's Halloween Banner

As you can see, I couldn't bring myself to ditch Kristen Bell entirely. So, while Pulse is a terrible, absolutely wretched movie, it's a horror pic with KB. This is Electronic Cerebrectomy material.

Halloween: William Shatner Recites "The Raven"

Kathy Griffin Addresses the Recent String of Gay Suicides

There have been a tragic number of gay suicides in the last week or so. It distresses me to read about kids being bullied so badly that they kill themselves. Bullying--any kind of bullying--is wrong. It's the thing that angers me the most.

What I especially appreciate in this video is the way Kathy lays this at the feet of, in part, the government. When we pass things like Prop 8 or DADT, what we're doing is not just legislating bigotry, but legitimizing homophobia. We're saying it's normal to hate, marginalize, and legally bully people because they're gay. I'm tired of being patient with such infantile notions. These suicides are made possible because our government coddles people who would take the rights of others away out of hate, fear, or discomfort.

Kristen Bell Mondays

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Song of the Week: "Over the Rainbow"

I've been listening to a lot of jazz the past few days--early stuff from the 1950s--and this version of "Over the Rainbow" by Bud Powell just really struck me today. It's a nice day for it: quiet, cool, and sunny.

Halloween: Mickey Mouse

Had a couple of pics from The Haunted House hanging around. Halloween-related cartoons today are too cute.