Saturday, July 05, 2008

80 Years of Warren Oates

I fucking love him.

How Many Posters Does This Make?

The Dark Knight has a LOT of posters, but this is another freaking cool one.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day

The Muppets released a brand new video in honor of Independence Day, and I think it's hilarious. Hope you do, too.


And if you missed it earlier: Danny Boy

Throwdown 7/4

Random thoughts, questions, and observations for the week.

1. The big news this week: Angelina Jolie Baby Watch. Seriously, I flipped past E! (Porn for 13 Year-Old Boys!) and they actually broke into a program to talk to the French doctor (no translation) because they were, and I quote, “on Brangelina Baby Watch High Alert!” I honestly can’t imagine anything more pathetic right now than people glued to E! in the hopes that Angelina will have those twins. Wow, chick’s going to pump out a unit; has that ever happened before?

2. Has anyone else seen the trailer for The Tale of Despereaux? Wow, they’ve taken all of the heroic character and flavor out of Kate DiCamillo’s lovely book and put in a lot of jokes and a very contemporary mindset. Why do they keep doing this in animation? Why not just make a good movie instead of worrying how jokey it is? Sylvain Chomet, director of one of the best animated films I’ve ever seen, The Triplets of Belleville, left the project some time ago because it was obvious to him that Universal wanted something more commercial and less dark. Sounds awesome… I’m disappointed they went this route. It could’ve been a very good movie. Instead it looks like a DreamWorks rip off.

3. And where is Where the Wild Things Are? After seeing that test clip that went around, which was oddly beautiful, I really was getting excited about seeing the movie. Then they pushed it back a year, and now Warner Bros. has completely taken it off their schedule. Do you think they’re really just reshooting the entire movie to make it more kid-friendly and give it lots of jokes about farting and getting whacked in the balls? Isn’t there some kind of bootleg or download we can just all pirate and see? Because I want to see the movie that has the same tone as the test clip. And I want to see Fanboys. Do movie studios still claim they have no idea why people pirate these things?

4. Stephen Baldwin says he’ll leave the country if Obama wins the election. Stephen Baldwin needs to shut up, lest he look like as big a fool as his brother Alec did when Alec said he’d leave the country if Bush got elected, then didn’t leave the country. You Hollywood dopes just keep talking. Nothing you say really matters.

5. Crocs? Well, there goes the last bit of Steven Tyler’s credibility. Hard rockers should all die before they hit 40 at the latest. Unless they’re in the Rolling Stones.

6. Last week, in tribute to George Carlin, NBC aired the first episode of Saturday Night Live, from 1975, which George had hosted. It was a lot of fun to watch it; I love the old SNL, but I haven’t picked up the DVD sets (they’re more than I can/want to pay), so I’ve only seen the old show in those half-hour best-ofs they used to air on Nick at Nite (or on old compilation videos like The Best of John Belushi or Gilda Radner or Chevy Chase or what have you. I’d never, for example, seen any of Jim Henson’s SNL material. It was great to see the whole episode. At some point, they advertised that next week’s show (tomorrow’s) would be a rerun of an episode I didn’t see with Jon Bon Jovi and some other guy, and I thought: Wow, wouldn’t it be great if they just aired old episodes during the summer? Then I’d actually watch it. And frankly, it might be a good idea to just air old episodes all year long…

7. Donald Trump is badmouthing Anne Hathaway for possibly ratting out her criminal boyfriend to the FBI, saying she ran as soon as the money ran out. Don’t you just think it’s hilarious that Trump still thinks he’s in some kind of position to look down on anyone anywhere for anything?

8. I used to like Will Smith a lot. Then I got a little tired of him. Now I actively hate him, if only because he won’t just come out and admit that he’s a scientologist. Just admit it. You’re a member of the “church” (good to see other bloggers finally putting it in quotes like I do, by the way), you started a scientology school, and your new movie, Hancock, is a scientology movie. I know it is, because I read the script, and just like in Phenomenon, it’s all about powers that come from scientology and Thetans and all of that garbage. They should just call the movie Super Thetan. You’re just saying you’re not because you don’t want to fuck up the box office. Good luck with that.

9. Sophia Loren is asking people to help clear out the garbage and clean up her beloved Naples. I hereby volunteer to give La Loren’s Naples as much of a cleaning as she wants or needs.

10. I’ve seen a lot of disproportional outrage this week regarding Barack Obama. Now that he’s the nominee, he’s kind of thrown and Scarlett “We’re email BFFs” Johansson and Wesley “Making an actual legitimate point” Clark out of his way. And he’s back down from his positions on NAFTA (no longer “a mistake,” that was apparently “amplified”), handgun bans (now they don’t seem like a great idea), and FISA (maybe telecoms should get immunity). He’s also, rather unsurprisingly (he needs the religious vote, after all) decided to make expanding funding to “faith-based programs” the “moral center” of his campaign. The thing that gets me is the number of people who are already crying betrayal on this, as if a politician has never moved to the center and pandered some to get elected before. I still trust him a hell of a lot more than I trust McCain. Give me a break, is he running for president or messiah? He’s just a politician, and if you’re still looking to politicians to save us…well, maybe it’s time to grow up a little.

11. By the way, the Associated Press reported that, in a poll, it was shown that more people would rather have a cookout with Obama than McCain. I assume this story was written for five-year-old, because the AP actually reported “People would rather barbecue burgers with Barack than munch meats with McCain,” in what I assume someone very, very, very old thought was a bit of clever wordplay. I guess we can call the election now, since this is usually how they’re decided.

12. And, finally, another piece of my childhood goes: Larry Harmon, the best Bozo the Clown (Pinto Colvig was the first), died yesterday. He was 83. Congestive heart failure. Of course, pieces of your childhood never die; it’s always there in your mind. But the man who made it is gone, and that’s pretty sad. Rest easy.

13. Oh, but wait, there’s good news to end on: Jesse Helms finally died. Let me just say: good. Have a happy Fourth!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The WALL-E Girl

Because I'm a big softie, I was utterly charmed by the story of Courtney/Eda Cherry, who posted this video of herself bursting into tears at the WALL-E trailer (I understand, girl, I understand, and then went to visit Pixar.

I especially love this story because it was just people at Pixar being nice and decent and warm and kind people, and not a story that Disney or Pixar jumped on for publicity for the movie.

It's a nice story, you should read it.

Eeeewww: Music

More of Entertainment Weekly's so-called new classics. Their 100 best albums of the last quarter-century. I'll go ahead and just bold the ones I own.

1. Purple Rain, Prince and the Revolution (1984)
I'm not sure this goes all the way to number one for me, but it is the best album from one of the best artists of the eighties. At least I think so. I love Prince's music, and this album has "When Doves Cry," "Let's Go Crazy," "I Would Die 4 U," the gorgeous title track, the sleazy "Darling Nikki," "Computer Blue"... there's not a dud here.

2. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Lauryn Hill (1998)
And it continues being vastly overrated. I like "Everything Is Everything," but I have no real use for this album. I can't believe it's still this well-regarded. Is it really so transcendant?

3. Achtung Baby, U2 (1991)
I'm not a big U2 fan. Usually I like one or two songs from every album; I have a mix CD (I do have the albums Boy and October), and that's good enough for me. "One" is one of my favorite songs. Otherwise, I can chuck it.

4. The College Dropout, Kanye West (2004)
That's it, keep feeding his ego. He's not this good. This is way too high. Quit accepting that he's a cultural force just because he keeps childishly saying he is.

5. Madonna, Madonna (1983)
This is way too high. Why, because "Borderline" is on it? It's a so-so relic of its time, but there are better albums of hers you could pick, I think. Like a Prayer and Confessions on a Dance Floor (except for the embarrassing "New York") are about the only albums of hers I can hear all the way through.

6. American Idiot, Green Day (2004)
I like the title track, but that's about it. I'm not going into this album and why I didn't like it again. It just didn't hit with me.

7. The Blueprint, Jay-Z (2001)
I don't get Jay-Z, honestly. I don't think he's that good, but people tell me he's phenomenal in the realm of talking quickly over music in a semi-rhythmical way. I liked The Gray Album. You'd think EW would pick The Gray Album just because it bucks the system and puts the music in the hands of the listener or some such revolutionary statement garbage. But it's a good album.

8. Graceland, Paul Simon (1986)
There's a cliche. Every father in his thirties and forties had this album in the suburbs in the eighties. Nothing against Paul Simon (another artist whose work I enjoy fits on one mix CD--not counting his Simon & Garfunkel output, which I love), but putting Graceland in the top 10 (but near the bottom) is the kind of thing you do to make your list seem all critical and serious instead of just more frivolous EW crap. Anyway, "Boy in the Bubble" and "You Can Call Me Al" are great songs.

9. Back to Black, Amy Winehouse (2007)
Okay, this is separate from however I feel about how disgusting Amy Winehouse is. Taking her musically: I still don't get it. I don't get the love of her music at all. Some of it is not unpleasant (I like that one song of hers--no the other one; I can't remember the name of it, but it wasn't "Rehab"), but the admiration for her seems to surpass the actual quality of her music. Although white people do love it when a white woman can sing like a black guy, which isn't at all sort of weird and condescending; Joss Stone should never have stopped covering funk and soul, it killed her career--white critics loved her because she could do black music but be a British white girl, which inherently fascinates music critics. Come on, the ninth best album of the past 25 years?

10. In Rainbows, Radiohead (2007)
I'm surprised they didn't go the obvious route and just pick OK Computer. I don't really get the whole Radiohead trip, either. I mean, I get it, but I just don't dig the music. And I don't dig the fans, sometimes. It's cool that you have a favorite band, but some of you need to stop acting like worshiping Radiohead makes you smarter somehow.

11. MTV Unplugged in New York, Nirvana (1994)
Again, why not go the obvious and pick Nevermind? You can just feel the smug smile of some editor at EW thinking they're being all clever. Anyway, Nirvana was never a trip I dug either. But it's nice that the reaction to "The Man Who Sold the World" got Bowie's ass back in the studio.

12. Stankonia, OutKast (2000)
I have their hits album. Does this one have "Ms. Jackson"? That's a good song. I also own Speakerboxxx/The Love Below and Idlewild. I'm good with what I have, I think.

13. You Are Free, Cat Power (2003)
I'm not a hundred percent sure I've ever actually heard Cat Power.

14. Disintegration, The Cure (1989)
Okay, 2 for 14. I think this is a great album by a great band. Probably their last great album, if I'm being honest, but I like a single every now and then. Everything since is pretty much covered for me on their singles collection Galore and the single "The End of the World."

15. The Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem (2000)
I like Eminem's production, but I hate his juvenile sense of humor and his smug sense of self-importance. He's produced very well, but I don't own a single track by him.

16. Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)
Excellent choice. I'm not sure why I don't own this, actually, except I just haven't gotten it yet. I do own Bone Machine, which is probably my favorite Waits album.

17. Odelay, Beck (1996)
I like maybe three Beck songs, one's a cover, and I'm not sure any are on this album. In fact, I kind of hate this album.

18. People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, A Tribe Called Quest (1990)
I don't mean this to be terribly insulting, but is liking A Tribe Called Quest a way for white people to show how hip they are with world music? Because I've never seen the appeal, really.

19. Dangerously in Love, Beyoncé (2003)
I got this for free for taking a survey. I remember thinking it was quite a strong album, and I liked a number of the songs, but I haven't listened to it in years.

20. Tidal, Fiona Apple (1996)
I don't like Fiona Apple at all.

21. The Emancipation of Mimi, Mariah Carey (2005)
What an odd thing to say. I'm hard pressed to tell any one Mariah Carey song from another, but I almost always enjoy her music videos, even if they do threaten to give me carpal tunnel syndrome.

22. 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul (1989)
Not a fan.

23. The Soft Bulletin, The Flaming Lips (1999)
I've tried with the Lips, but there's something that ultimately I can't get into with them. I like a track here and there, but I don't own any of their albums. Is this the album with "Do You Realize" on it? Because I love that song. Incidentally, it's the first song I heard when I was driving to my dad's the day my sister died. So it's got the connotation. Cried my eyes out and screamed to the heavens.

24. Come On Over, Shania Twain (1997)
Shania Twain is one of those artists who can put out a great pop song that is really good while it's getting played to death, and then you just forget about it. That's the nature of pop.

25. Turn On the Bright Lights, Interpol (2002)
Not a fan of Interpol.

26. Time Out of Mind, Bob Dylan (1997)
I have every Bob Dylan album. This one's not bad, but it's a little hard to judge his later work objectively. You still kind of compare it to his classic work in the sixties and seventies and even early eighties. So what I'm saying is, I don't know if I'd put it on this list, but I like this album.

27. Funeral, Arcade Fire (2004)
I liked it. I still listen to "Tunnel."

28. Illmatic, Nas (1994)
I don't like Nas. In fact, I kind of hate him. Dude, Egyptians weren't Negroes. Crack a history book.

29. Breakaway, Kelly Clarkson (2004)
This is a very good pop album. I didn't like anything off of Kelly's first album, but I liked a number of songs here. I still play "Since U Been Gone," and the title track still bores me. There's something about Kelly Clarkson that I still just like, and I think this qualifies to be on here somewhere...

30. Appetite for Destruction, Guns N' Roses (1987)
...but probably not ahead of this classic album. This is one of the best hard rock debuts out there, and still actually holds up today.

31. FutureSex/LoveSounds, Justin Timberlake (2006)
This being Entertainment Weekly, there's way too much stuff from the last couple of years on here. I like a couple of Timberlake's songs; a lot of it has to do with how well-produced it is (well-produced enough that it could almost be anybody singing).

32. Life's Rich Pageant, R.E.M. (1985)
I'm not sure what's on this album, but every R.E.M. track I like can also (and does) fit on one album.

33. As I Am, Alicia Keys (2007)
I honestly think Alicia Keys is pretty lame. I don't ever want to hear "Fallin'" again.

34. Is This It, The Strokes (2001)
Not much of a fan of them, either.

35. Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette (1995)
For some reason, I just like Alanis. I didn't always, and I hated this album when it come out (except for one or two tracks), and I don't own any of her albums (though I have a number of tracks), but I just like her.

36. CrazySexyCool, TLC (1994)
I never saw it. You know who I liked? Salt 'n' Pepa. TLC sounded wimpy to me. One note spelled "L-I-T-E."

37. The Moon & Antarctica, Modest Mouse (2000)
I need to get this; I liked Good News for People Who Love Bad News and We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, both of which I own.

38. Raising Hell, Run-DMC (1986)
A classic which I don't own. And I do think it's a classic. I think a lot of rap from the eighties sounds silly and dated now, but not Run-DMC.

39. Sheryl Crow, Sheryl Crow (1996)
I quite hated this album when it came out. Now I kind of dig Sheryl Crow and like a number of her songs. Nothing off of this album, though. I hated "All I Wanna Do" and its ubiquitousness, "Every Day Is a Winding Road" was just cloying, and "Be My Man" or whatever it was called just kind of offended me. "Lie to me, just please don't leave?" Gross. (Update: Someone informed me that I was thinking of a different album, Tuesday Night Music Club. I have no idea what's on this album.)

40. Ready to Die, The Notorious B.I.G. (1994)
Don't dig it.

41. Legend, Bob Marley and the Wailers (1984)
Good stuff, but I think it's kind of cheap and intellectually dishonest to pick a hits compilation on a list of great albums. It's not an album--it's a hits compilation. If we're going that route, why aren't those Elvis Presley and The Beatles number one collections on here, too? It's still far better than most of the music of the past 25 years.

42. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Wu-Tang Clan (1993)
Never liked them, either.

43. Paul's Boutique, Beastie Boys (1989)
The Beastie Boys are okay, but I don't own any of their stuff.

44. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Lucinda Williams (1998)
Don't own it, don't want to.

45. If You're Feeling Sinister, Belle and Sebastian (1996)
I never really got into them.

46. Homogenic, Björk (1997)
Not a fan of hers, either.

47. Exile in Guyville, Liz Phair (1993)
The song "Fuck and Run" was okay, but I thought this was overrated.

48. American IV: The Man Comes Around, Johnny Cash (2002)
I love this album. I love all of the American albums, but I think this is the strongest.

49. A Rush of Blood to the Head, Coldplay (2002)
Sadly, Becca loves Coldplay. I think they do a cute little U2 impression, but I fucking hate them. "Clocks" and maybe "Speed of Sound" are about all they've done that's worth a damn, and I once heard a mash-up of "Clocks" that substituted the vocals with the vocals from "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" that made the song sound like it had balls. They're clearly caught up in how Important they are. No Coldplay anything is ever going to belong on the list of best anything.

50. Sounds of Silver, LCD Soundsystem (2007)

51. The Score, Fugees (1996)
Other than a plodding cover of "Killing Me Softly," what did they really do?

52. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Spoon (2007)

53. King of America, Elvis Costello (1986)
I think Imperial Bedroom and the much-maligned Almost Blue are better. After this album, I think everything I like is one The Best of Elvis Costello.

54. Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814, Janet Jackson (1989)
What a non-event that was.

55. It Takes a Nation of Millions..., Public Enemy (1988)
Isn't the album actually titled It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, or does EW have the official title right? Anyway, I never got into the whole Public Enemy trip but, as you can tell, I'm not the biggest fan of rap in the world. Public Enemy I'm willing to reassess, though.

56. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco (2002)
Don't care for it.

57. Harvest Moon, Neil Young (1992)
After about 1980, I'm not so into Neil Young. Before then, wow.

58. Surfer Rosa, The Pixies (1988)
I like the Pixies, but I don't own the album.

59. Ray of Light, Madonna (1998)
I like a surprising number of songs off of this album, but I wouldn't put it up here.

60. Crooked Rain Crooked Rain, Pavement (1994)

61. Paid in Full, Eric B. & Rakim (1987)

62. OK Computer, Radiohead (1997)
There it is. This is Becca's, which makes it part of the library. It mainly reminds me of how much more awesome King Crimson was.

63. The Joshua Tree, U2 (1987)
I hope I never hear "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" again. But "With or Without You" is one of my favorite songs.

64. Mama's Gun, Erykah Badu (2000)

65. Elephant, The White Stripes (2003)
Nothing I haven't heard the Kinks do better.

66. The Chronic, Dr. Dre (1992)

67. Metallica, Metallica (1991)
I think someone left this at my house and it became part of the library. It's actually not a bad album at all, but obviously their previous albums are better. This was more mainstream, which is why it's here. But I still like "Unforgiven" and "Nothing Else Matters." And yes, I am one of those people who stopped liking Metallica after this album, and especially after they cut their hair to look like Beck. Call me a snob all you want.

68. Wrecking Ball, Emmylou Harris (1995)
A fantastic album and one I'm surprised to see here.

69. Give Up, The Postal Service (2003)
I'm not really sure what this is, to be honest.

70. My Life, Mary J. Blige (1994)
Ugh, I'm so sick of her. She has a Kanye-sized ego.

71. Rock Steady, No Doubt (2001)
I have Tragic Kingdom and Greatest Hits. That might actually be more than I need. No Doubt has great singles but their albums can be a chore.

72. 1984, Van Halen (1984)
I have all of the Van Halen albums (and none of the Van Hagar ones). I think it's a great album, a bit of a step down from their first three or four, but a great album, nonetheless.

73. The Queen Is Dead, The Smiths (1986)
Yes, love it, love the Smiths.

74. Play, Moby (1999)
Yes, love it. Absolutely love this album. I love 18, also.

75. Born in the U.S.A., Bruce Springsteen (1984)
Fuck no. This took an artist who as silly-but-energetic and turned him into a synthesized joke. This album sucks, and it's overrated as hell.

76. Heartbreaker, Ryan Adams (2000)

77. Dummy, Portishead (1994)
I liked "Sour Times," but I never listened to the album. I know a few people who love it.

78. Vs., Pearl Jam (1991)
There's not enough room here to go into how much I despise Pearl Jam. I'd rather lie back on pavement and let children jump up and down on my hands than hear Pearl Jam.

79. Let It Be, The Replacements (1984)
I'm not a big Replacements fan, either.

80. Back to Basics, Christina Aguilera (2006)
Good in parts, but there's so much of it. Stripped is the better album, I think.

81. The Downward Spiral, Nine Inch Nails (1994)
Thanks, Becca. I only ever liked one Nine Inch Nails song, and that's a Joy Division cover.

82. Grace, Jeff Buckley (1994)

83. Learning to Crawl, The Pretenders (1984)
I like a couple of singles, but I've never been a fan of the Pretenders. I don't feel the need to get any of their stuff.

84. Low-Life, New Order (1985)
New Order is a fantastic singles band, and as a result I have Substance and The Singles.

85. Home, Dixie Chicks (2002)
I'm going to assume that this is the album with "Not Ready to Make Nice" on it. That's a decent song. Otherwise, Dixie Chicks just sound like a lame Fleetwood Mac cover band to me (even when they're not covering Fleetwood Mac).

86. Loveless, My Bloody Valentine (1991)
What's with the My Bloody Valentine revival? Is it one of those ironic dealies?

87. All Eyez on Me, 2Pac (1996)
Not a fan.

88. So, Peter Gabriel (1986)
I like Peter Gabriel, but I don't have this album. I have a few tracks from it on, yes, a Peter Gabriel compilation CD I burned. The only Gabriel albums I have (and all I need, really) are his first album and Passion, his excellent score for The Last Temptation of Christ.

89. Bachelor No. 2, Aimee Mann (2000)
"Luka" was a good song. Otherwise I'm not into Aimee Mann.

90. Toxicity, System of a Down (2001)

91. Siamese Dream, Smashing Pumpkins (1993)
It's not bad, but I think Gish is much prettier.

92. The Writing's on the Wall, Destiny’s Child (1999)
I just don't get Destiny's Child and for some reason I can't take them seriously.

93. Either/Or, Elliott Smith (1997)

94. Synchronicity, The Police (1983)
It's a pretty good album. None of their albums satisfies me completely, but I own them all. I like them more often than I don't.

95. Trap Muzik, T.I. (2003)
T.I. sucks.

96. Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, PJ Harvey (2000)
Never got into her.

97. Britney, Britney Spears (2001)
Look at this: number 97. It's so begrudging, like they have to acknowledge her but will only do so at the very end. Yes, I do have all of her albums, so I know for a fact that Britney is not a good album artist at all. She's got some great tracks, some excellent singles (from this album, "Oops! I Did It Again" is a great pop single... that Richard Thompson does better...), but none of her albums should be on a list like this. She has yet to make an album that's strong from start to finish.

98. Transatlanticism, Death Cab for Cutie (2003)
"Death Cab for Cutie" is a great song by The Bonzo Dog Band. That's it. They're a shitty band that no one dug until Seth from The O.C. told them to. Which is sad.

99. Live Through This, Hole (1994)
Finally, thank you. This is a great fucking album.

100. Faith, George Michael (1987)
I like the song "Father Figure," but that's it for me.

This is such a contemporary list that it's painful. There's so much missing that could have snuck on here that I'd put up against any of the shit from the past few years. Bowie's Let's Dance, Tina Turner's Private Dancer, Billy Joel's An Innocent Man, just to name three. I also loved The Traveling Wilburys album Volume One.

Of course, it doesn't matter what's good, does it? This is Entertainment Weekly, after all. Rest assured that if this list were done in 1995, besides having a bunch more grunge albums, the Spice Girls would be on there, too. They just want people to buy the damn magazine and think they're in on the zeitgeist, even though they've never known what the zeitgeist is.

Fancy an Ice Cream?

Just in Time for the Holiday

So, are we all supposed to believe it's some kind of incredible coincidence that just as the Fourth of July holiday is about to begin, crude oil prices reach a record high? On a weekend when people typically use a lot of gas?

Because if you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

It's Bailey's Birthday

And, therefore, a perfect excuse for me to post a picture of Jan Smithers, the actress who played Bailey on WKRP in Cincinatti and... well, you get the idea. She's 59 today. Happy Birthday, Jan Smithers!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Film Week

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

There's nothing substantial at all about these Narnia movies, but I like them. I think part of it might be that I never really liked the C.S. Lewis novels and never really expected to enjoy the movies, either. Still, I like fantasy stories, and this one was pretty well-made. The child actors got a little better since the last movie, although the older kids still aren't overly good (but Georgie Henley as Lucy is still a cutie). This one offered at least a more expansive idea of the land of Narnia; the first movie seemed to be taking place on a set while events of supposedly dire importance happened to a small few. This one at least looks at Narnia as a larger place. I could see all of the historical and biblical analogues, of course, but the stuff about faith doesn't really bug me here. The computer animation was much better; Reepacheep was a fantastic character to see animated, and Aslan had some good facial expressions this time around. In the end, it's a better movie than the first (having Peter Dinklage in it helps enormously), but I think I like the story in the first film better. Plus, the first movie had Tilda Swinton, and I loved her in that movie; she appears in a scene here and is as alluring and ethereal as she was in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. They're inconsequential, not among the great fantasies, but I enjoyed it and I wouldn't mind seeing another one at all. *** stars.

WALL-E (2008)
I have to admit, Pixar's last two movies, Cars and Ratatouille, didn't blow me away like Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, and especially The Incredibles had. This one did. Finally, Pixar is topping themselves again. I adored this movie, especially the nearly wordless first section, which just involves a little robot, WALL-E, who is the last robot on the planet. Earth has been abandoned for 700 years, when it became too full of garbage and pollution to sustain life and everyone jumped into spaceships for five years while the WALL-E robots were supposed to be cleaning everything up. Now our hero is the only robot left on Earth, and he's lonely. He lives with what appears to be the last cockroach on the planet, and collects things of interest that point to a past life (lighters, a Rubik's Cube, and a videotape of Hello, Dolly! which he watches over and over). He feels love missing in his life, and he falls for EVE, a feminine probe robot on a mission to find plant life on Earth. When she does, she's picked up by a ship, and WALL-E follows her to the survivors of the human race, so fat and ignorant that they simply live in hover chairs and let robots do all the work while they lazily consume. It's a savage but apt satire on the way our culture has become corporatized. Seriously, sometimes it's like shopping at Wal-Mart and the only thing different is that in the movie they have spaceships and robots. But more than just being a dystopian science fiction film, there's a lot of hope in the human race's drive to survive and to wake up out of their commercial-enforced stupor. I think it's one of the more hopeful movies I've seen about coming out of our complacency and active participation in a system that keeps us dull, stupid, and inactive. The animation is tremendous, enhanced by the interesting use of live action in places. WALL-E is an especially great character, the kind of ramshackle 'bot you just instinctively feel protective toward because he looks like he's falling apart. Ben Burtt designed the sound and does the electronics that serve as the voice of WALL-E, and they're very much like the sounds he created for Star Wars, which is nicely familiar. I can't praise this movie enough, honestly. I truly loved it. **** stars. (The short it's playing with, Doug Sweetland's Presto, is breezy and hilarious in a 1940s Disney sort of way.)


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Eeeewww: TV

Another lame Entertainment Weekly list, another lame commentary on it. Why? I have no idea. I guess because, when a magazine pulls out a list called "The New Classics," you feel you need to write your own entirely subjective opinions.

These are EW's 100 best TV shows of the last 25 years... I'm not going to bold this time, just comment.

1. The Simpsons
Not a surprise to see this at number one. Certainly it's had a lot of impact on the culture, but it's sort of a non-entity to me right now. It just started getting so lazy and bad at some point. Actually, that point was the episode where Bart and Homer got a race horse and Homer fell into the Land of the Jockeys. As soon as they started singing yet another uninspired song, I finally went, "You know, maybe they have jumped the shark after all." It was less fun for a few years, and when they finally did an episode that had Homer and Marge meeting each other in the early nineties, I just stopped watching. I didn't care anymore. I loved the movie, but I feel like the characters just aren't there anymore. It lost a lot of viewers when the humor and characters moved beyond the generation of adults (Matt Groening's generation) who first enjoyed the show. Now it's moved beyond my generation as well. So I don't watch it anymore.

2. The Sopranos
I watched a little of it when it first came on, but I didn't think it was very interesting. Some people are just really fascinated by the Mafia, but I don't find it inherently interesting. I watched it for about a month and thought, well, I've seen Goodfellas (love it) and I've seen Analyze This (hate it), so what's the point?

3. Seinfeld
I just hate this show. I watched it for a long time, and there are some episodes I consider classics, but whenever this show comes on in reruns in the evening, I turn the channel as quickly as I can. It grates on me. Jerry Seinfeld specifically grates on me (I always liked Jason Alexander on the show, doing his Larry David impression). And I think what especially grates on me is just the number of budding yuppies I knew while the show was on, declaring up and down that it was exactly what life was like. It's like Jesus; after a while the rabid fans ruin something kind of nice.

4. The X-Files
Is it a government conspiracy? Is it something real? Or is it just a hoax? No, wait, it's all three of those things on a show that always tried to have it every single way they could! I just did not like this show any time I saw it. I knew some people who loved it, but it just never clicked with me. Even before I hated Joss Whedon, I hated Chris Carter. He did the same sort of thing, in my opinion, which was trying to make the audience feel clever while being "too good and smart" to really be funny. I know this kills my geek cred with some people whenever I say it, but I don't like The X-Files.

5. Sex and the City
I will say this, just come right out first thing: I always wanted to fuck Kim Cattrall. Ever since I was 10 years old and first saw Mannequin (in the theater no less), I wanted to fuck Kim Cattrall. So I watched this show when it first came on and just didn't get swept up in it. I admit, of course, that I'm not really the audience for this show, anyway. I caught it occasionally and I only really ever liked Evan Handler's character. I also caught the last season, because I was recording it for my mom (who didn't have HBO) because I'm a good son who will suffer through that kind of indignity, and I was really pissed by the way the show ended. I can't believe there were people who actively enjoyed watching someone invent new ways for them to be unhappy.

6. Survivor
I caught a little of it in the first season and didn't see the big deal. Is this such a groundbreaking show that it's up at number six?

7. The Cosby Show
This was good for a while, but went on way too long. It came on when I was 8, and I immediately liked it and stuck with it for a number of years, but some time after Raven-Symone came on I got very tired of it and stopped watching. I guess this was a groundbreaking show at the time; it showed a black married couple as city professionals raising a family, which was a step forward for a lot of people. Personally, I didn't even think about it at the time; the idea of a black doctor and a black lawyer seemed perfectly reasonable to me. Still does. I understand why this was a groundbreaking thing in 1984, but I also like that I wasn't raised to think that it was.

8. Lost
Too soon to call. With a show that has a geek factor this high, it's probably a good idea to wait until it's over to proclaim it a great show. Right now, I'm sick of it.

9. Friends
It's finally slipping out of the top five, and that makes me happy. That said, I despise this fucking show with the kind of hatred Captain Kirk reserved for the Klingon bastards who killed his son. And I knew way too many people who thought their lives were just like the show, and acted like self-obsessed little fucktards, too.

10. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Goodbye, geek cred. I hate this lousy show. I've gone on at length about why.

11. The Wire
I've never seen it, though I keep hearing it's great. I'll have to catch this one day.

12. South Park
I still love this show. I love the satire, and it makes me laugh harder than most of the shows I watch.

13. Freaks and Geeks
I used to think this must be the most overrated show about teenagers in history (after My So-Called Life, of course). Then I saw it. And it's awesome. It only lasted one season, but what a season. What a great damn show. And I fell in love with Linda Cardellini, who would be the perfect nerd girlfriend (outside of Becky Grutzik and Zendulo, that is).

14. The Daily Show
This post says it all. I'm sick of the fucking thing.

15. The Oprah Winfrey Show
Whatever. Does Oprah own EW now? God, they suck up to her like there's no tomorrow. I still remember her from when she started, and all she ever talked about was being molested by everyone she ever met. She self-pitied her way in, and now she can tell millions of women what to do and they'll unthinkingly do it. Don't bother telling me that's a stereotype and you're not like that (I didn't say you were), because I worked at Barnes & Noble when her damn blook club started, alright? I've seen it for myself.

(Little side note I think about from time to time: Carl worked at B&N with me--he already knows where I'm going with this--and after two or three months of women rushing in to get the new book Oprah had commanded them to read, he suggested to the management that we empty out a case in the fiction section and make it the Oprah's Book Club section, so that women could find the books right away instead of scouring the fiction section. They looked at him like he was crazy. Just a short month or two later, you couldn't go into any bookstore in America without running into the Oprah's Book Club area. Some men are simply so full of sense that it mystifies the common mortals around them.)

16. Arrested Development
One of my favorite shows of all time. I'm sure there are people who are sick of hearing about it. But I love the whole thing (except for the stuff with Charlize Theron; that was a bad bit there).

17. The Office (UK)
Of course, you apparently have to say you like the original version better because, well, it's the original version. But I personally like the US version better, probably just because I relate to it a little more (I've worked in an office) and it hasn't weakened creatively yet. Not to belittle the original, because it's brilliant (though I personally think Extras is Ricky Gervais's stronger show), but I just have to buck tradition and say I like the American show better.

18. American Idol
As a marketing phenomenon, I understand it's a big deal. As a watchable TV show, it's shit.

19. ER
Meh. It's gone on long enough, dammit. Ever since Mark Green died; it probably should've stopped there. I know that Carter is supposed to be Michael Crichton and so, you know, naturally he must be the most interesting character, but I've always found him to be a self-important douche and once George Clooney and Anthony Edwards were gone with no one strong to replace them, the show fell apart and I have no interest in going back to it, even to catch it's supposed final season (they've been saying it too long for me to believe it now).

20. Beverly Hills, 90210
Oh, fuck off. I thought this was lame even in high school. Sadly, though, I watched it for a while, probably because everyone else at school was and there was nothing else on. Plus, I love Tori Spelling. I still do.

21. Roseanne
Another show that went on far too long. I liked it for a while, but then I got bored with it. It was too sad-sacky, too full of its own sense of suffering. And they really reveled in it. What? Becky ran away? Well, let's let David move in, because we need more sad sacks to suffer on our "comedy"!

22. The Real World
I watched the first season and thought it was okay, but I caught it on one of those marathons where they showed every episode in a day or a weekend or something. I didn't get all caught up in it like other people at my high school. The second season made me laugh because it was so obvious. I know a lot of people think that teenagers are too dumb to know when they're being sold something, but they aren't. Most of them just like stuff being sold to them because it makes them feel like someone is interested in the age group. In the second season, the machinations of the producers became so obvious, even to me as a teenager: let's select the most diverse group of people possible, and then we'll lock them together. So we get the Irish guy to pick up the black city girl and the white country boy and drive to the mansion in a camper. And after the second season, they were always picking a guy they knew would make trouble and have to get kicked out. Blurgh. Is this really some kind of cultural force, like they keep portraying it?

23. The West Wing
I always found it pompous.

24. Star Trek: The Next Generation
I liked this show, but it went on too long and kind of recycled the same plots over and over. There are some classic episodes of this show that I still really enjoy, but I've gone past the point of wanting to watch Star Trek anymore. I'm a little weary of it. But Captain Picard is probably one of my favorite fictional characters. This show typifies the sort of A-B-A writing of most science fiction television, where everything goes back to status quo at the end of the episode. That gets a little old, especially for a show that was on as long as this one. How about A-B-C for a change, like Babylon 5, Doctor Who, or Farscape?

25. Miami Vice
I don't think I've ever actually seen an episode of this show. Was I missing something?

26. Chappelle's Show
Meh. I liked some of it, but I didn't think it was the Second Coming.

27. Law & Order
Another show I've never seen an episode of. And yet I'm sick of it.

28. The Larry Sanders Show
Another favorite of mine. Where are the DVDs, for chrissakes?

29. The Shield
I've never seen it. I don't know, I tend to hate most of what they play on FX (It's Never Funny in Philadelphia has to be one of the worst things I've ever seen).

30. The Late Show with David Letterman (CBS)
He was funnier on NBC. He had more time to do something entertaining. So did Carson. Now it's all monologue, bit, a series of guests who have about six minutes to push a movie, the end. BO-ring! Face it, the format's dead.

31. The Civil War
We're counting miniseries, too? Well, this was an excellent documentary series, but I think Ken Burns's recent The War actually surpasses it.

32. Gilmore Girls
Blurgh. I hung onto this show for far too long because I liked Lauren Graham on it. But they kept giving Rory the most boring and obvious boyfriends she could possibly have, and finally I couldn't stands no more. I don't ever even want to see it again. I'm sorry, but Logan's big secret is that he and a bunch of other overprivileged idiots who need to know the pain of a hard day's work and a near-crippling bar fight dress up like they're in The Great Gatsby and have little garden parties? Fuck off!

33. My So-Called Life
Overrated as hell, and boring, to boot. Jordan Catelano can suck my cock.

34. 24
I've never seen it. I've occasionally thought about renting the DVDs, but I've never committed to it.

35. CSI
I saw the first episode when it was premiered, giggled through it, and never watched it again.

36. thirtysomething
Meh. I was too young to really get it, and now I don't care.

38. Beavis and Butthead
Never thought it was funny.

39. Six Feet Under
Every time I saw it, it just came across a little too precious. I could never get interested.

40. Mr. Show with Bob and David
I love it, I have the DVDs, it's one of my favorites. I don't think David Cross or Bob Odenkirk (especially Bob) have really equalled how funny they were on this show.

41. Frasier
I got tired of it after a couple of seasons and stopped watching. I'm amazed it last as long as it did. I liked Frasier better on Cheers. (See, now is Cheers ineligible for this list because it premiered just a year or two before this list starts? Even though most of the show's existence was during that period? That doesn't make sense; it's one of the greatest shows ever.)

42. L.A. Law
Never saw it. Never wanted to. Great theme music.

43. Late Night with Conan O'Brien
Meh. I have no real interest in late night talk shows. Not since Carson retired and Letterman left NBC.

44. Jeopardy!
I still love to watch this show. I'm pretty good at it. It's more fun to watch it with other people, though. Then you can compete and don't have to listen to boring Alex Trebeck boringly interview the boring contestants.

45. Curb Your Enthusiasm
As I said, one of my favorites. But I think they need to end it. The season finales kept getting more and more brilliant, but I don't know how they'll maintain it. I thought the episode where Larry died and was sent back to Earth for being so argumentative and difficult was brilliant; a perfect way to end the series. Then they came back for another season, I kind of assumed because Larry David was getting a divorce in real life and needed the money. But it turned out to be hilarious, and the ending, with Larry getting a new family, was genius. How do you expand on that? Even a show this brilliant can go on too long.

46. Homicide: Life on the Street
Never saw it. I guess procedurals don't really interest me very much.

47. 30 Rock
One of my favorite current shows, but it's still a little early to put it this high on a list of "new classics," really. It's just that I don't trust American television, especially on a network, not to completely ruin a great show simply by leaving them on the air long past the point of creativity. It's the American business model, apparently.

48. Ally McBeal
Please. Is this list all going to be filler from this point on? Dare Entertainment Weekly suggest, Katherine Heigl-like, that there just wasn't enough great American television in the past quarter-century worthy of honoring?

49. Twin Peaks
Never seen it, and I'm not sure I really want to. I can only take so much of David Lynch, and I really only like three or so of his movies (The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, and The Straight Story).

50. Baywatch
This is an ironic choice, I guess? I never actually watched this, despite my love of a number of young ladies who were on it (not Pamela Anderson).

51. Melrose Place
So, we're not supposed to take this list seriously. Well, how could you, really?

52. Felicity
A hilarious choice.

53. Will & Grace
Grating bullshit.

54. Moonlighting
I liked it when I was a kid and haven't seen it since. I wonder if it holds up.

55. Pee-Wee's Playhouse
Such an EW choice. I enjoyed it as a kid. I still want to see if it's good when you're high.

56. Desperate Housewives
Never seen it and I don't want to. I have better things to do on Sunday night than watch a bunch of hags pretend Dynasty never happened and this shit is original.

57. The Amazing Race
Seems like an amazing waste of time.

58. The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Tripping over punchlines and sucking up to celebrities since 1992, when I stopped watching The Tonight Show.

59. Battlestar Galactica
Probably too soon to call, but I've never actually watched it. It just doesn't look like anything interesting or new to me. I'll probably see the DVDs one day, but the people who love it and tell me to see it are the same people who loved Firefly and told me to see that, and I fucking hated Firefly.

60. Xena: Warrior Princess
I liked it while it was on, but I don't think it really holds up. I have no desire to watch it now, unless I come across an episode with Bruce Campbell.

61. The Office (US)
Too soon to call. I love it, but I still see no reason not to expect it won't get as sucky as any other show that lasts more than a couple of years on NBC.

62. House
Tried to watch it. Was bored to shit.

63. Mystery Science Theater 3000
One of my favorites.

64. The Osbournes
No, I don't think so. Seriously? Why? Because it ushered in a new area of irritating celebrity has-beens and their families doing little documentary series about themselves? Well, gee, thanks so fucking much.

65. Family Guy
Crap for undiscerning potheads and retards. There, I said it. You might as well play episodes of The Simpsons in the background and make little models out of your own feces, I'd respect you more.

66. Grey's Anatomy
I tried to watch it once and got bored with all of the slow-motion crying-into-the-camera-while-a-sappy-pop-song-plays scenes.

67. Planet Earth
One of the most incredible things I've ever seen.

68. Jackass
A description of the viewer right there in the title.

69. The Colbert Report
The Daily Show's clumsy kid brother, and all the entertainment value that provides.

70. Everybody Loves Raymond
Hate it. Oh, isn't it cute that his wife can't cook and his parents are over all the time? No, it's fucking horrifying and unfunny!

71. Friday Night Lights
Already? Never seen it. That is to say, I never saw it.

72. NewsRadio
One of my all time favorites. Just Shoot Me was like a really watered-down, unfunny version of NewsRadio.

73. Oz
I've never seen it, but I am getting sick of all the parodies where characters from Oz (or songs from the Judy Garland movie) are used. It was mildly amusing the first time, now it's just dated and unfunny.

74. Wiseguy
Nope, never saw it.

75. Project Runway
Not interested.

76. In Living Color
I liked this show for about one season, then I got tired of it.

77. The Golden Girls
I just don't get the appeal. And I love Bea Arthur!

78. I'll Fly Away
Seriously? Why?

79. The Comeback
One of the worst programs I've ever seen.

80. King of the Hill
I still like it. It's amiable. So amiable you forget that it can often be very, very funny.

81. Murphy Brown
I'd like to be able to see this again. I enjoyed it so much when it was on, even when it started (let's face it) ripping off shows like Seinfeld, and I'd like to see how it holds up.

82. The Hills
Oh, fuck you. America is way too fascinated with rich people and their shit.

83. Absolutely Fabulous
I never really got into this one, actually. By the way, are you seriously telling me that there are only two British comedies on this list? There should be a lot more than are already here. They're all better than The Hills, that much is certain. Where's The Vicar of Dibley or Father Ted or Little Britain?

84. Northern Exposure
I hated this show, too.

85. The Kids in the Hall
Much higher, I should think. I love this show. When I was working nights I'd watch it every day on Comedy Central and never, ever get tired of it.

86. Prime Suspect
Still haven't seen the show, and I really need and want to. Why not Wire in the Blood, too? I love that show.

87. Deadwood
Haven't seen it, though I'd like to sit down with it.

88. Malcolm in the Middle
A favorite of mine, especially the later seasons with Kenneth Mars. It always cracks me up.

89. SpongeBob SquarePants
Hate it.

90. Dawson's Creek
That show never knew what to do with itself. Why do people think that pussies whining about their wishes not being handed to them are so compelling?

91. Mad Man
I have yet to see it, but I've heard lots of good things about it. And I love January Jones. Isn't this a tad early to call, though?

92. The Ben Stiller Show
I do hate Ben Stiller more often than not, but this show is brilliant. I have the DVD, and it's a great watch.

93. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
I've never watched it. I'm not interested in makeovers and such.

94. Married...with Children
Only 94? I would place it higher, personally, but I liked this show the whole time it was on. I still like to watch the reruns.

95. Designing Women
It was pretty good up until Delta Burke was forced out.

96. The Arsenio Hall Show

97. Party of Five
Ridiculous. That show was ridiculous. "Hey, look, my Parkinson's went into remission, I don't have to just lay around and feel sorry for myself anymore!"

98. MacGyver
It never did much for me.

99. The Bachelor
Is this a joke entry? Yeah, it's that groundbreaking show were women whore themselves out to marry a rich stranger.

100. Saved by the Bell
This one is a joke. It's become a thing now for people my age to talk about this in hushed tones as if it were some kind of seminal program we all watched and adored and that bound us together as a generation. My generation (and the generation before) has completely overdosed on loving and doing things ironically; hey, if you like crap, at least be honest about it. I am. What's the point in liking something because it supposedly gives you some kind of faux-hip cred with people you don't even know? "Well, I like to put it in it's larger pop cultural context..." Screw it, Saved by the Bell is one of the dumbest shows in history and no one should remember it. This is fucking ridiculous, and so is Entertainment Weekly.

Happy Birthday, Larry David

I love Larry David, but I hate Seinfeld. Is that weird? Curb Your Enthusiasm is one of my favorite shows of all time, though. Anyway, he turns 61 today, and I thought I'd mention it since he's a fellow Cancer, he's a brilliant comic, and I get teased sometimes for only mentioning the birthdays of sexy women (although it is Ashley Tisdale's birthday, and I like me some Tisdale...).

Did I ever mention my theory that Larry David was secretly writing episodes of Hannah Montana? I'll have to go into that sometime. I can't ever write enough about stuff no other person in the world would ever care about.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Happy Canada Day!

The Health Report, Year 2: Week 29

Well, what can I say about this year's WizardWorld that Becca didn't say here and here? We had a good time, and unlike last year I was able to actually go all three days without crippling myself with horrible leg cramps. It was interesting, fun, exciting, and very tiring. We saw lots of neat costumes (like the one above, a very sweet girl at her first-ever con) and fun tee shirts and sexy chicks and beautiful artwork. I talked to a couple of the same people from last year, including Casey Heying (co-writer and artist of the very good Oz/Wonderland Chronicles; I specifically had hoped to catch up on the new issues and they were the first things I purchased) and Becky Grutzik of Planet Doom Studios, who had an ashcan of her new comic Moot and was looking exceptionally cute and awesome. I'm totally in love with Becky Grutzik, by the way. She's so cool and wears black glasses and has red streaks in her hair and reminds me of Linda Cardellini on Freaks and Geeks. Yowch.

And, of course, there were the requisite moments of Oh, man, I wish I was rich so I could totally buy that! I did end up adding to my Doctor Who action figure collection. I want a nice collection of monsters and aliens, and ended up getting the black Dalek, a scarecrow from "Human Nature," the Judoon captain and a Clockwork Man from "The Girl in the Fireplace." I guess this has become my new action figure collection since I got all of the Muppets figures I wanted. I also got the Master's laser screwdriver to go with the sonic screwdriver I bought last year. I played the new Incredible Hulk video game and thought it was pretty sweet; I need to get in on a mail rental service for video games. And I finally purchased the first Mouseguard collection, which I'd read but didn't own. It's wonderful (Becca also managed to snag the PVC figure set of Mouseguard characters).

I stayed good by doing some of the things I didn't do last year. I didn't walk in such a hurry this year; I paced myself, walking around a few different times instead of marching around the whole thing at once (I have real patience issues); I put pads in my boots; I drank water and electrolyte-replenishing Gatorade all day; I actually ate lunch the three days I was there. My calves were swollen every night when we got home, but I didn't cramp up the way I was afraid I would. That made this year much more enjoyable to me.

What really sucked was finding out that Flashback Weekend was going on at the same time, and they had Cassandra Peterson and George Romero over there. WizardWorld gets shittier and shittier guests every year as they drive the convention further and further into naked commercialism. Mostly it's wrestlers, the occasional person from an old genre show, reality show stars (Johnny Fairplay? kiss my ass, Wizard magazine!), the same comic book pros over and over again, and Lou Ferrigno (just try to keep him away). I remember when they had science fiction authors and B-movie stars, but that was back when it was still ComicCon and not WizardWorld. I never even try to get autographs anymore; I'm much more interested in the small artists over in the Small Artist's Ghetto or whatever they call it. The days of actually talking to people I liked, like Harlan Ellison and Claudia Christian and Cynthia Rothrock and Brinke Stevens are apparently over.

What really sucked was looking at a booklet they had there for this year's DragonCon. Just a sample of the guests they have this year: Sean Astin, Linda Blair, Bob Burden, Brad Dourif, Gigi Edgley, Larry Elmore, Bill Fawcett, Dr. Pamela L. Gay, Erin Gray (Oh, Col. Deering!), Lance Henriksen, Virginia Hey, James Hong, Joe Husko, Ted Naifeh, Hayden Panettiere, Mike Resnick, Rowena, Dr. Michael Shermer, William Stout, George Takei, Greg Theakston, Adam West, Bernie Wrightson, and Dean Yeagle--to name only a few. They have fantasy authors and science fiction authors and film screenings and panels on science and skepticism and things that used to be in Chicago. Time was, those people would be coming to the ComicCon in Chicago. Now Wizard is selling tickets to get in a line to get Missy Peregrym's autograph (nothing against her, because she's very sweet and I adore her on Reaper, but charging to wait in line? come on). I did get a look at the wrestler Dawn Marie, who looked very sexy in a tight, clingy, white one-piece. But I wasn't excited the way I used to be by a con. I went one year and Will Eisner was the guest of honor. Harlan Ellison, my favorite author in history, was there. This year the guest of honor was Warren Ellis. He's very talented, and I like his work (especially Transmetropolitan and Planetary, two of my favorite comic series of all time), but I think it was just his turn, because he turns up quite often. One year it was Brian Michael Bendis, who's always there. I like his work, too, but it's just so commercial. Alex Ross. Kevin Smith (great speaker by the way). It's not so... special anymore.

But it was fun just being there with Becca (except when someone showed up who told me in an email she didn't care if she ever saw me or Becca ever again, then came over to say hi and act like nothing happened and tried to make me feel bad for not speaking to her or looking at her even after all of the shitty things she said to me and had her friend say to me and telling Becca last year how much she really, really hated me--yeah, I was supposed to jump for joy, right?). We had a good time just hanging out and drawing and people-watching. And it didn't cripple me like I thought it would. So that's not bad at all.

Good weekend.

Eeeewww: Books

Entertain Me Weakly is in another list-making fury, perfect since all of the other self-designated pop culture authority outlets are pushing nostalgia for just a few months ago. They've picked out the best 100 books and movies of the past 25 years.

Of course, the problem with these lists is that they're done by Entertainment Weekly. And to them, everything has to have some sort of cachet as a pop cultural EVENT, and quality is basically besides the point. But, inspired by my own laziness, my inability to think of something interesting to blog about, and Jaquandor's post doing the same thing, I thought I'd comment a little on the lists. This is the list of books, the 100 greatest (according to EW) of the past quarter-century. Like Jaquandor, I'll bold the ones I've actually read.

1. The Road, Cormac McCarthy (2006)
I've never read Cormac McCarthy. I'm asking seriously: should I? Am I missing something? I read constantly, and I'm always looking for recommendations. The fact that McCarthy's books and stories are getting adapted to film so much gives me some pause (I remember when everything was a Michael Crichton or John Grisham movie, and those are hardly great lit), but I don't know. Anyone?

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)
I feel the same way as Jaquandor; Prisoner of Azkaban is the better book.

3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
If you don't put one Toni Morrison book on the list, Oprah gets pissed.

4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
One of the greatest works of literature I've ever read.

8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
This is one I feel like I should read, too.

9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)
I had a number of people tell me they loved this novel. I saw the movie and absolutely fucking hated it; it was so shitty and awful and predictable and tired and stupid. I imagine the book could only be better. This is another one I'm on the fence over.

10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87)
Of course. It's excellent.

14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
Still somewhat plan on reading this.

16. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
I very much want to read this book and haven't gotten to it yet.

17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988)
I think I'd like to read this, too. I've never read any of Marquez's novels, only short stories, but I usually like them quite a bit.

18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
Another case where I've only read Updike's short fiction but really liked it. Actually, I did also read The Witches of Eastwick, but I haven't read the Rabbit novels.

19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
I thought White Teeth was very good, but I haven't read this one.

20. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding (1998)
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000)
I've had a lot of writers tell me they loved this book. Maybe I should just suck up my hatred of Stephen King and read it. Incidentally, I usually recommend a great book by Isaac and Janet Asimov called How to Enjoy Writing. (Also, notice how EW gets to pick a Stephen King book without having it be one of his shitty novels; they'll only be so populist.)

22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
This is the first one I've never actually heard of.

23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985)
I read this back in high school. I need to read this again, I think.

25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989)
I loved it.

26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
Being such a science fiction fan, you'd think I'd have read this, but no. I've never really been interested. The whole cyberpunk movement is lost on me once we get past Philip K. Dick, anyway.

27. Possession, A.S. Byatt (1990)
Gorgeous. Byatt's short fiction is excellent, as well.

28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
I'm not so into David Sedaris, but I know a lot of people who just love him.

29. Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (2001)
30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien (1990)
One of the single greatest books I've ever read.

32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)
34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002)
I've had this recommended to me a lot, too. I'd like to read it eventually.

35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
36. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996)
I worked at a Barnes & Noble when this came out and caused a huge sensation. As a result, I'm sick of it and I've never read it.

37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)
Another beautiful work. Satrapi also has some very nice shorter works, Embroideries and Chicken with Dumplings. This is a favorite of mine.

38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998)
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
Another case: I love her short fiction, haven't read her novels. I really should, because I love her writing. I like a lot of the stories in this book.

40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000)
So, I'm counting this even though I only read The Golden Compass, thought it was tripe, and then couldn't make it past the halfway point of whatever the second one was called. I thought The Golden Compass had a lot of wasted potential. Also, why the entire trilogy of books, but only one Harry Potter novel and not the entire series, then?

41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
A beautiful book.

42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)
46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996)
Another entire series instead of just picking one. I've read the entirety of Sandman, and I love it. I have favorites, but the overall is wonderful, too. I do think there are some stories I like a little less than others, but it's one of my favorite comic book stories of all time. I will always be happy that Neil Gaiman decided to end it when the story was over, instead of following the comic book/TV show/movie series example of going on past the logical ending point and sullying what's come before with an attempt to stay alive commercially just because they're making money off of it. Score one for authorial integrity.

47. World's Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985)
48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)
I'll read this one eventually, too.

51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992)
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000)
I even own this book and haven't read it yet. What the hell? I've got to jump on this book.

54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)
Pure wonderful.

55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)
56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987)
58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)
59. Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat (1995)
60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)
One I intend to read. I think I'm a little scared of finding out things are even worse than I know they are.

61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)
64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)
65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
I'll read this one day as well.

66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003)
The movie really affected me. I'll read the book, too.

68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)
73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989)
74. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (1990)
75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)
I love Carver. I had to adapt the story "Cathedral" into a screenplay for my Lit & Film class at NIU. It was hilarious to be in a class full of people talking about story integrity and how bad movies were for not doing the original stories "right," and then be in a group discussing "Cathedral" and hear one of them ask, without irony or sarcasm, "Does it have to be a cathedral?"

76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)
77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
This is an excellent book, very compelling. I read this very quickly.

78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002)
Anything's got to be better than that horrible movie, though, right?

83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)
I saw this movie and it made me terribly sad. I should probably read this, too.

87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
I want to read this. I loved A Simple Plan.

88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995)
A.K.A. the only Nick Hornby book I ever liked from start to finish. Also, in my opinion, the only one where he could think up a satisfying ending. I don't like Hornby, but this is a very good book. It reminds me of working at Barnes & Noble from '95 to '97; we used to create our own top five lists and talk about nothing, too.

89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999)
Is this the one that has "Brokeback Mountain" in it? I assume, this being EW, that it does. Anyway, I read that story and it was beautiful. I like Proulx's writing style and want to read more of her work.

90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001)
91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991)
I read a bit of her short fiction in high school and then read this novel. It was pretty good, I thought; it's basically King Lear on a farm but I like the women's perspective on it. I heard the movie was rubbish.

94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001)
95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003)
A book I will never read and can't be very good at all. I just can't believe it is. This is really only on here because of the stir it caused, and Entertainment Weekly can't resist a pop cultural EVENT. Putting this on here kind of makes this list bullshit, especially since I don't see Jurassic Park or The Firm on here at all. I read those books back when they were a big deal, and they were the same kind of breezy bestseller airport read for people who don't like to be challenged. As I've said many times, no one goes broke making dull people feel clever...

97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
I saw the movie and thought it was pretty good. I didn't know it was a novel, actually.

98. The Predators' Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995)
100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004)
I thought it was funny as hell. Obvious choice for EW, though.

Since I read a ton and don't keep lists of what I've read (maybe I should start), I'm not sure what else I'd really add to this. I am a huge fan of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, though, so I'd say that. And surely there's more great nonfiction that could be on there? Come now. And I love everything Julian Barnes writes. I think Generation X by Douglas Coupland is kind of a seminal work. I'm kind of surprised A Man in Full isn't on there; when it came out, EW and every other magazine were talking about it as though Tom Wolfe had singlehandedly saved literary fiction...

Liv 31

The main reason I'll eventually end up seeing The Incredible Hulk:

Happy Birthday, Liv Tyler!

The Girl with the Liquid Heaven Voice

That voice hit me like a shot to the pelvis when I was about five years old. The first woman I was ever sexually attracted to, and all because of the "ooh-ooh-ooh-ah" in "Heart of Glass."

Happy Birthday, Debbie Harry!

I'm a Tie, But Not a TIE

Which Star Wars Character Are You?

You are part C-3PO. You are dedicated to others and will do anything for them- even if you don't think they have the best plan. You contain a wealth of information and have a very serious nature. You would jump in front of a speeding truck if it meant protecting someone you cared about from harm. You can take the world a bit too literally, and should probably loosen up just a little! You are a great friend and people know that they can always trust you.

You are part Luke Skywalker. You are adventurous and love to be where the action is. Your curiosity runs wild and you have to seek out the answers to all your questions or else you will not be at peace. People see you as a great leader, although you are uncomfortable with this because you don't see yourself the same way. You just believe in being honest and focusing on the good in the world. You are sweet and lovable and have many friends that would be lost without you.

Find Your Character @

That's a weirdly interesting result. I found this at Atomic Romance.

Monday, June 30, 2008

70 Years of Superman

In June 1938, Action Comics #1 marked the first appearance of Superman. Happy birthday, big guy.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Song of the Week: "Crybaby"

The last single from Todd Rundgren's band Utopia, 1985. Not much to say about it, except that it's very eighties and I think it's great. Not an intellectual argument, I know, but fuck it, Todd's birthday was last week and I should put up a song. (My Song of the Week on 1 June was the New Cars song "Not Tonight," so the month begins and ends with Todd.)

I Finally Figured Out Exactly Who It Is George W. Bush Keeps Reminding Me Of

"Uuuhhh... he did it!"

My Name Is Bruce

FINALLY, My Name Is Bruce is going to be released in October. Better late than never. They're also going to do a sequel. Something to be xazzed about.