Saturday, October 08, 2011

Halloween: More Random Commercials

Saturdays are Halloween commercial days here in October.

First, this bizarre McDonald's commercial. Is it French? Or Canadian? I just know this is something they wouldn't air in the US...

I remember this one, from 1991: the Pepsi/Doritos Monster Match game, featuring a henpecked Frankenstein's Monster.

Apparently Cap'n Crunch fights zombies on Halloween. But, with Peanut Butter Crunch? I'd rather have the brains, thank you.

More next Saturday!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Halloween: Poltergeist

I really, really need to watch this movie again. I haven't seen it in a few years, and it's one of the best movies of its time.

Black C-3PO

Funniest shit I've seen all day.

The Muppets Want a Bazillion Likes on Facebook

Seems doable.

Things I Don't Care About

A few things I just can't be moved to give a shit about right now.

:: Steve Jobs. I don't care. I understand there are people to whom the passing of Steve Jobs means a great deal, and that's fine. I'm just not one of them. Stop trying to shame me into giving a shit about Steve Jobs dying. The guy meant nothing to me. I own exactly one Apple product (my iPod), and I have zero interest in accumulating any more. The Mac zombies have made it so distasteful to buy these overpriced gizmos.

:: The presidential election. I'm sick of talking about presidential elections years in advance. Look, we already know the outcome, don't we? Mitt Romney becomes the GOP candidate, even though Republicans don't seem to like him, and then he loses to President Obama, and then we move on and Congress still gets nothing done. Romney used to have some good ideas--I used to feel, long ago, that he was the wrong messenger with the right message. Then he started pandering. The guy might as well come with a sign that says "WILL PANDER FOR PRESIDENCY." But when it comes down to it, I really can't be arsed by this, because what difference is it going to make who's president? People aren't going to change. Deal with it. Enjoy your life before it's over.

:: Political discussion. All the past decade has shown me when it comes to politics is that it's impossible to discuss them in a rational manner online. I'm not interested in ever having anymore political discussions with anyone. I'm not a liberal, I'm not a conservative, I despise both positions, and no, if you know how to use your brain, you don't have to be only one or the other. I'm sick of the idiot notion that you have to pick a side instead of taking each issue individually.

:: Ron Paul and online libertarians. One nice thing about getting my old tumblr deleted is that my libertarian commenters can't find my new tumblr. I had four different people arguing with me about my annoyance with Ron Paul and his hypocritical magical thinking. Yeah, guys: Paul believes in individual rights provided you're not a woman or black or anything. And he named his son after Ayn Rand, and she was a massive hypocrite, too.

:: Attempts to shame me via internet comment. It's hilarious. Nothing makes me laugh more. No, I don't feel bad about deleting the idiotic comments that you think are so smart. No, I don't feel bad about posting pictures someone else is mad about. No, I don't feel bad about thinking Gandhi was a hypocrite. No, I don't feel bad about despising Winston Churchill. Oh, and if you really think it's important to go off on a tear about how you're disgusted by naked black women, please find somewhere else to do it. This is my blog, not yours. It ain't a community. Just because you can leave a comment doesn't mean I am obligated to engage you in any way. If I don't want your hate and stupidity here, it's not going to be here. Go. Away.

:: Glee. Stop telling me to watch Glee. I've seen one episode of Glee, and it was the dumbest thing I've ever seen. I'm also not interested in Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, or probably any other show that you just think is so amazing and important. If you love those shows, by all means, continue to love them. You can even tell me so. But stop acting like me also loving those shows is necessary for your self-validation, okay? And stop being mad at me when I don't watch them, because you just look like an ass.

:: The so-called obesity epidemic. Do I think the American lifestyle and most of what we consume is designed to make you fat? Yes, I do. Should I be doing more about my own weight problems? Yes, I should. But I'm as sick of hearing holier-than-thou "experts" screaming at fat people as I am of hearing about how demanding healthier school lunches is somehow socialism or whatever buzzword people throw around that they clearly don't understand. I just do not care about it.

:: Boba Fett. Still don't give a shit.

:: Also zombies. Get over it, already, internet.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Halloween: Ghostbusters #1

I don't think I've ever read anything from IDW before, but just for the hell of it (and because it's October), I decided to check out the first issue of their new ongoing Ghostbusters series. I don't know whether or not this is coming off of any Ghostbusters miniseries, but I did like this one.

It was a little off-putting in tone at first, just because of the cartoony humor. It's kind of a cross between The Real Ghostbusters cartoon and the recent video game (especially if you, as I, played it on PS2, where the graphics were apparently cartoonier and more stylized).

I also don't know what this series considers continuity or not. The style has nods to The Real Ghostbusters (Janine Melnitz looks almost exactly the same as she did on the show), but when Slimer puts in an appearance, it doesn't seem like he's been, basically, the firehouse dog. There is a lot of talk about the events of Ghostbusters 2, so I don't know if they're ignoring everything else, or really if it makes a difference or not!

What got me right away was this moment:

They don't name the guy, whether he's Joliet Jake or John Belushi, but he's obviously the ghost of someone Ray has some previous history with. I'd love to think of this as a crossover, since I'm a big geek, but I like the nod.

It's very comic book-y. It's not sophisticated. But it is fun, and that's all too rare in modern comics, so if you want to spend a few minutes with a licensed property comic book, you could do worse. It didn't quite satisfy me--why are all comics so damn decompressed these days?--but it merits a seconds issue.

(I should just start reviewing comics all the time, since that's half of what I do now...)

And the Dust Settles on the New 52

I don't know that many people are going to follow up with all of the new DC second issues--why bother when the immediate marketing stunt is over?--but I wanted to point out that of all the issues released yesterday, the first Wednesday of the second month of the New 52, I only picked up one second issue: Swamp Thing #2. I briefly flirted with the idea of picking up the second issue of Batwing, since I sorta kinda liked the first issue and found the premise sorta okay, but I just didn't bother. I don't feel like investing in this sort of decompression where these modern comics somehow manage to let 5 pages of story sprawl out over 22 pages of poor layouts.

I liked Swamp Thing #2, for the most part. There's more narrative meat here than in the first issue; really, everything in the first issue could probably have been skipped over entirely. This really should have been the first issue. It introduces or reintroduces the whole mythology of the Green and the idea and purpose of Swamp Thing and sets up a conflict with a coming entity bent on taking over all life. The final few pages, though, turn into The Walking Dead fan fiction; a TV show I haven't seen, and a comic book I stopped reading a long, long time ago. I was disappointed that this issue seemed to have turned away from horror comic and taken it into, well, the douchey new DC type of stuff. An action comic starring Swamp Thing? Not sure if want. I guess I'll see what happens with the next issue. The good outweighed the bad on this one.

Also, a question: where is Justice League #2? Is that bi-monthly, or is it already late?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Charles Napier 1936-2011

Very, very sad about that. Always a favorite of mine. I need to watch Supervixens again... And The Critic. Damn it.

"We Demand Sweeping Unspecified Change!"

Yeah, that's pretty accurate...

Quote of the Night

"Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

--the late Steve Jobs, quoted endlessly on Tumblr tonight by a lot of people who follow their hearts... to spend as much time as possible on a social networking site not doing anything.

Chase Owns the NYPD

JPMorgan Chase recently donated an unprecedented $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation. The gift was the largest in the history of the foundation and will enable the New York City Police Department to strengthen security in the Big Apple. ... New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly sent CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon a note expressing "profound gratitude" for the company's donation.

That kind of money buys a lot of police brutality.

Halloween: Um... Goatse Halloween?

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

I tried to go into this one completely fresh. I remembered the characters, but I slacked off watching this one after a few weeks when it originally started airing in 1993. (By that time, Star Trek: The Next Generation was in its 6th season and I wasn't watching it at all.) Turns out I remembered even less of this show than I thought, and I have to say the quality of it surprised me. It benefits greatly from two things.

First, it's a spin-off: no need to go too deeply into explaining the Federation and Starfleet, because that's all been done already; there's a fully realized fictional universe here, with some depth and history, so the show needs less shakedown time. Second, because it's set in a space station instead of a new location every week, the show can afford to take chances and let its characters and premise build and breathe. Stories can carry over instead of the Enterprise just flying off to some other situation every week. I like that a great deal. You can see right from the beginning that DS9 is willing to break the shackles of A-B-A storytelling and go into A-B-C. That alone is pretty damn exciting.

So, here are my thoughts on the first season.

1. Emissary (my rating: 5 out of 5)
This is a great pilot. I've seen it a few times over the years, but always gotten bogged down in it. I think because I'm older now, and find the politics much more interesting than I did when I was a teenager, I got much more involved in it. I also find it endlessly interesting that here we have a Star Trek series so open to a real consideration of the science vs. faith debate. You could see it growing in TNG, but never quite handled with real intellectual curiosity. Putting an atheist in command of a station near a wormhole that is seen by an entire race as the home of their deities is a fascinating idea, especially for American television.

I think I appreciated this even more after delving into all of those DC reboots this month. Here we have a premiere, a first episode, that introduces its characters and premise efficiently, makes you interested in them as people, and tells a complete story while leaving the door open for more to come. Imagine that; a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Let's talk about the characters. Of course I'm thrilled to see Miles O'Brien come over from the Enterprise. Not all of the characters work for me right off the bat, but none of them truly annoy me (with the exception of Dr. Julian Bashir, whom I find very irritating indeed, though part of that is deliberate on the part of the show--this doctor is arrogant to the point of nearly having a God complex).

But the real triumph here is Commander Benjamin Sisko. He's a command character we haven't seen in Trek before; Kirk was the adventurer and hero, and Picard was the thoughtful, artistic intellectual, but Sisko is something different. He's smart and thoughtful, of course, and his sense of duty is obvious, but there's something about making him a widower and a father and a baseball fan that puts Sisko on a more realistic and personable level. He's not so imperious. He's reasonable and open, but firm and commanding. I really like him, and I was really invested in his discussion of linear life and the way he eventually assimilates the loss of his wife into his current life instead of living in the past. Avery Brooks is a very interesting actor, and it's hard to picture anyone else being this interesting in the role; he's curious and open to experience, and has an interesting vocal cadence, but he's also tough and a man of action.

Great scenes between Sisko and Picard, too. The best Star Trek pilot so far.

2. Past Prologue (2/5)
A bit of a drop off for me; I think it loses something by throwing in the Duras sisters as a tie to TNG. This show seems to work best in the first season when it's not trying to remind you that this is all the same fictional universe. I do find the political situation on Bajor very interesting, though, and I think the Cardassians work better than any "enemy" race introduced on TNG. Also, Andrew Robinson is a delight as Elim Garak. I know he recurs and I can't wait to see more.

3. A Man Alone (2/5)
I just find Dr. Bashir's interest in Jadzia Dax creepy. I'm interested to learn more about Odo and I think it's interesting the show is even acknowledging the problem of legal jurisdiction (re: station security vs. Federation security), but I was more invested in the playful friendship between Jake and Nog, and Keiko opening a school on the station. I also didn't care for the whole Sisko calming the mob scene; it's like the producers just wanted to have their Atticus Finch/Western in space moment.

4. Babel (4/5)
The aphasia virus was just scary as hell; the nightmare look on everyone's face as they begin to jumble their language was terrifying. Genuinely suspenseful; Major Kira really comes into her own in this episode for me. I like that not being a Federation officer gives her some leeway to break the rules. She's the strongest woman I've seen on Star Trek. I also loved Quark having to help Odo run the station when everyone else is infected. The way Armin Shimerman just delights in playing the character redeems every shitty, uninteresting, nigh-insulting portrayal of the Ferengi on TNG.

5. Captive Pursuit (4/5)
Here's where things really get interesting, I think: seeing what kind of life is going to come through the wormhole and out of the Gamma Quadrant. The Tosk and the Hunters are genuinely interesting aliens, the kind of characters we haven't seen so much in this world. Having this unexplored quadrant of space gives the creators of this show so much room to define what's going on out there in truly foreign worlds. I think the ending of this is a little too pat, though it's nice to see O'Brien start to realize that he can break the rules if he has to. Extra points for Gerritt Graham, whom I will always see as Beef.

6. Q-Less (1/5)
Terrible. Q just does not work on this show. I do like that Sisko isn't afraid to just pop him one, but with Picard we have two intellects philosophizing over the state of the universe and humanity's role in it; here, Q is just chasing tail. And it's Vash, at that, which I just don't get. I was thrilled when this one was over.

7. Dax (4/5)
An interesting exploration of the symbiotic nature of the Trill; is Jadzia responsible for the crimes committed by an earlier host of her symbiont, Dax? It's a great question, one even the show can't answer, as it does away with the trial through new information before an outcome has to be decided. It's a much, much more interesting look at the ethics of the Trill biology than that horrible TNG episode "The Host" was.

8. The Passenger (1/5)
I liked the deeper look at security jurisdiction on the DS9, but the main plot is so hammy and ridiculous. It's that old SF standby, the evil entity taking over someone's body, and it's just as hammy and stupid as it usually is. This also highlights a lot of Siddig El Fadil's weaknesses as an actor, which are many. The overacting onboard the cargo ship is insane!

9. Move Along Home (3/5)
Another hoary old SF premise: characters who are trapped in a game and fighting for their lives. It's not an incredibly well-written episode, but I like a few things about it. First, the gaming between Quark and Falow is actually tense and is well-acted. Second, it keeps up the level of foreign weirdness coming from the Gamma Quadrant. Third, it's impossible for me to ever not like Joel Brooks. And fourth, the punchline. Yes, it's one of those episodes that is only there to lead up to a punchline, but it genuinely made me laugh.

10. The Nagus (5/5)
This is how good Armin Shimerman is on this show: he makes me thrilled when they do an episode that goes into more depth on Ferengi culture. Also, Wallace Shawn is another actor it's impossible for me not to like. I really dug this episode and pretty much everything about it (even the intentional parody of The Godfather, something which TNG could never have pulled off). It was nice to see Rom put himself forth a little more (he's a hilarious character with a genuine heart to him), and I was genuinely touched by Jake's resolve to stay friends with Nog. The scene where Sisko finds Jake teaching Nog to read really moved me. Fantastic stuff, possibly the highlight of the season for me.

(Also, Armin Shimerman reminds me a lot of Frank Gorshin. Anyone else see that?)

11. Vortex (2/5)
I wanted to like this one more than I did. I want to learn more about Odo, but I found the Croden character thin and predictable. One of those times when DS9 tries too hard to be a Western in space, though I liked Odo's change of heart and that well-earned smile.

12. Battle Lines (1/5)
Heavy-handed anti-war statement. This feels like the kind of message-over-drama episode that Gene Roddenberry would've liked on the original series.

13. The Storyteller (2/5)
DS9 does The Man Who Would Be King. Some interesting ideas that aren't laced into a very interesting story, though I do like that O'Brien is as reluctant to spend time around Dr. Bashir as I would be. I liked all the stuff with Jake and Nog, and Varis Sul getting to spend time being a kid.

14. Progress (1/5)
Another self-conscious Western, this time with Major Kira trying to get a grizzled old Bajoran to leave his frontier home before it becomes toxic. The stubbornness of the farmer is really grating after a while (as are his homilies), but Nana Visitor's quite good. Once again, I was more interested in Jake and Nog. This feels like an episode of Little House on the Prairie.

15. If Wishes Were Horses (2/5)
Ridiculous, but cute. I dig Keone Young on this episode as Buck Bokai and his talks with both Ben and Jake Sisko.

16. The Forsaken (3/5)
I really thought I was going to hate this episode; after seeing how badly Q and the Duras sisters fit onto DS9, I expected Lwaxana Troi to also be an ill fit. Between this and TNG's "Dark Page" this year, the Trek writers did a really good job of humanizing her and turning her into less of a caricature from The Women. I like the scene in the turbolift with Odo where she opens herself up to him and removes her wig. That kind of character scene is so welcome.

17. Dramatis Personae (2/5)
The "everyone is acting out of character" episode that all of these shows do. (I think it's funny that the writer of this episode pats himself on the back for being gutsy enough to do a show like this, where everyone's so out of character, so early in the run of the show. Meanwhile, TNG did it in their second episode). Exhausting.

18. Duet (5/5)
Powerful and incredibly well-acted. What starts as a political mystery becomes so much more, and ends up exploring not only Kira's character and past, but also the ethics of war crimes and the meaning of justice. Harris Yulin is amazing as a Cardassian prisoner who may or may not have butchered countless Bajorans, and Nana Visitor outdoes herself in one of many fine performances on this series. Utterly riveting, one of the best episodes of any TV show that I've ever seen.

19. In the Hands of the Prophets (5/5)
For its season finale, DS9 builds on the breathtaking tension of the previous episode and creates a very brave episode, one that not only spells out the real danger for Bajoran attempts to rebuild post-occupation (the religious class, with various orders willing to murder one another to become Kai, much like the violent papacies of the 15th century), but also seizes on everything left unsaid in "Emissary" about science and faith. In a way, it's the contention of Evolution vs. Creationism, a "debate" which always comes with its entrenched politics. Here we have terrorism, idealism, politics, science and religion competing in this community, and innocent victims caught in between (and, of course, all of this a smokescreen for something more sinister). A brilliant close to an uneven but fascinating season that hints at more to come.

I can't wait to keep going on this show.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Simpsons Cutbacks: My Two Reactions

There's a story today that they're trying to cut back financially behind the scenes at The Simpsons. Apparently Fox wants the actors to take a 45% pay cut; the actors are willing to take 30% if they can get a cut of merchandising and syndication deals. I don't know what could ever cause Fox to loosen their grip on Simpsons profits; frankly, they make so much money on the syndication now that it might be more profitable for them to just dump the show and let it run forever in syndication and make room for the newest Seth McFarlane piece of shit that looks like it costs eight bucks to produce.

My two reactions:

1. It's a fine example of the greed that's SOP at NewsCorp. Those actors have helped make that show a hit for two decades, and asking them to give up nearly half their pay is ridiculous. Doesn't it just feel like Fox is setting it up to get the actors to quit and then paint them as unreasonable?

2. If Fox does dump the show, it'll only be about 11 years after it stopped being consistently funny...

Halloween: Lego Monster Minifigs

Monday, October 03, 2011

TV Reportage

So I like Pretty Little Liars now. A close friend pushed me to watch it because it's basically her favorite show, and of course I dug it. Becca says it's like living with a 17 year-old girl, but I always get sucked into these soapy shows with pretty girls and mysteries. It's the same way I got sucked into Desperate Housewives. I have fun with it.

:: Melissa McCarthy was funnier on Saturday Night Live than she is on Mike & Molly. I wish she was an SNL cast member. She could replace my odious nemesis Kristen Wiig and her "he he he, nervous laugh, I'm socially awkward, he he, look how cute" delivery in every single sketch.

:: I hope the producers of 2 Broke Girls are paying Kat Dennings what she's worth. I don't think it's the unwatchable show people have said it is, but it is very canned, and the only thing that makes it work is that Kat Dennings doesn't have the typical, shitty, over-rehearsed sitcom delivery a lot of bad shows do. Think of the dope who played the son on Shit My Dad Says and then look at what Kat does. If that show has any chance of getting the time to get better, it's because of her.

:: I have two episodes of Pan Am in my TiVo and have yet to watch it. Has anyone else seen it? Is it promising at all? I decided to just delete The Playboy Club and not bother.

:: Planet Dinosaur on Discovery Channel is pretty awesome. The best dinosaur show I've seen in a while. They haven't taken the same care with it as Walking with Dinosaurs--the computer animation isn't the best I've seen, not remotely--but it's still a well-made show. It's specifically dealing with dinosaurs that have either been recently discovered or that we have a lot of new information about. I think it's fascinating to see, as our knowledge advances, the concept of what these animals looked like becomes more and more changed. If you love dinosaurs anywhere near as much as I do, give it a look.

:: Regarding The Big Bang Theory, I'd much rather see Penny and Amy get together than Leonard and Penny or Leonard and Amy or whatever the hell they're going to end up doing this season.

:: I've been in heaven with all of the Jar Jar and Gungans on this season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Just watching them take down General Grievous, even though General Tarpals had to die to do it, was breathtaking. I still love this show. I love this show better than Attack of the Clones, that's for sure.

:: Netflix has Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for streaming now, so as of Saturday, we've been watching that. (If anyone's interested--and I am--they also have Star Trek: The Animated Series up, too.) I'm two episodes away from finishing the first season of DS9, so I'll be giving it a short review the way I did TOS and TNG, if anyone's interested. I'm not sure why you would be, but hey, it's what I do.

Halloween: Sugar and Spike

As I get older, I get much less invested in a lot of ongoing comics characters. For the past few years, I've been pulled more towards old comic strips and old humor and children's comics. I just want to be entertained, and most comics just aren't cutting it anymore.

One of my recent pleasures has been reading old issues of Sheldon Mayer's Sugar and Spike. Sure, it's the same joke over and over again, but it's funny. Here are some Halloween covers that give a pretty good sense of its sublime silliness.

Kristen Bell Mondays

Sunday, October 02, 2011

TV Report: Doctor Who: Series 6

Uneven season for me, yes, but what an epic ending. I was waiting on pins and needles to see how Moffat got himself out of the corner he'd written himself into, and I wasn't disappointed. I guess that would be almost a literal deus ex machina. Doctor ex machina? Isn't doctor a Latin word? Anyway, very clever; the kind of thing I should have seen coming but missed because I was caught up in the emotions this last half of the season (and my continuing frustration with Amy).

I didn't mention it, but I particularly loved last week's episode, too--the return of Craig and almost no Amy Pond. (And Cybermen!) Man, I love Craig.

Can't wait for what comes next. More River Song would be nice; Alex Kingston has been utterly marvelous, one of the best characters in Doctor Who's long history.

Song of the Week: "Cottleston Pie"

Because it may be my favorite scene from The Muppet Show (and featuring my favorite Muppet). Milne set to music, and a perfect lullaby.

Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed Married

I can't help thinking what was going through his mind was "There, that ought to shut her up."

I Always Wanted to Do That