Saturday, April 09, 2011

Bob Bakker

I happened to come across these pictures of Dr. Robert T. Bakker a while ago, and after posting my dinosaur and cowboy picture, I thought I'd post these, too.

Dr. Bakker is one of my heroes, author of one of the best books about dinosaurs I've ever read (The Dinosaur Heresies), and one of the neatest guys I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. He was on a book tour for his novel Raptor Red back around 1995 or 1996, and one of his stops was the Barnes & Noble I worked at. I got to talk to him for a bit after, and he was very funny and acerbic--he was amused that I'd ask him to sign an advance reading copy of Raptor Red (I'd jumped on that when it came to the store) as well as the novel I purchased.

He told me that he was working with Disney on a film version of Raptor Red, which was to combine computer-animated characters with real (but CGI-enhanced) settings. I was pretty excited by that, but wondered if the novel would really pass through Disney unmolested. Well, Disney never made Raptor Red (which would have been like The Bear but with dinosaurs, which is a movie I desperately want to see), but instead took a great Walon Green script with a similar approach and twisted it into the underwhelming and disappointing Dinosaur, which is basically The Lion King set millions of years earlier.

Such a shame. Disney doesn't like challenging material, so I wasn't really surprised when that happened, but still, what could have been... The Disney film has a very nice opening five minutes are so, which are truly wondrous, but then the animals start talking and using modern slang, and it just becomes another one of those bland cartoons, and the masterful effect achieved by the first few minutes shatters easily.

Too bad. I'd still love to see Raptor Red, but for real.

Sidney Lumet 1924-2011

I have to admit, Sidney Lumet was not one of my favorite filmmakers. I'll be upfront about that. But it feels like another piece of Old Hollywood--at least as Old Hollywood as it gets for my generation--has passed on, and I'm sorry to hear it. Lumet made some films that I really loved: 12 Angry Men, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Equus, The Wiz, Running on Empty, and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Thank you for those.

Happy 21st Birthday, Kristen Stewart!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Re-Hope 2012

President Obama's re-election campaign begins with a video with... no message whatsoever.

Except for a brief admonishment that, apparently, the base is going to have to energize itself because the President is too busy to do it himself, there is no message here other than Obama is important because he's Obama.

Are you sure you didn't want to be more vague?

There's no mention at all of what Obama's accomplished, what his victories have been, what issues he thinks are important to address. Just "there's a lot of problems" and "we need someone to do something about them." No shit; that's true of every year since this whole civilization thing started. Maybe one day we'll be good at it, but not in my lifetime.

It doesn't help that the President has historically shown himself to be pretty peevish about the support he thinks he deserves. A YouGov/Economist poll shows Obama at a 74% approval rate among Democrats. Compare that to George W. Bush's 94% Republican approval in 2003, and he only won by a single state in 2004. Obama likes to about how hard he's working on "the job you elected me to do," but almost a quarter of his own party (and the majority of independents, including me) doesn't think he's really doing that job at all.

How long before he's back to "buck up"? Because that worked so well last year.

If he really wants independents to come back to the fold, he's got to stop caving in to the fear merchants like he did on the Khalid Sheikh Mohammad trial. For a man whose favorite catchphrase is "Rule of Law," he sure isn't interested in putting it into practice. Because nothing says "nation of laws" by circumventing civilian law whenever it's convenient.

It's interesting what's happening in this country right now. There's a lot of buyer's remorse on the part of a lot of people who voted for teatards like Scott Walker. That was a real miscalculation on the part of the GOP--they assumed that disenchantment with Obama meant the country was ready to pull hard to the right, when in fact the opposite is true. We want Obama to act like the Democrat he claims to be, and not the right-leaning moderate he really is. So now Scott Walker is seeing Republican districts in Wisconsin abandon him to become Democrats, and all of this anti-union talk from the Right has been another miscalculation. Now police and firefighter unions are abandoning the GOP, too. Oops!

The stupid mistakes of the GOP are handing Obama this election on a plate. You'd think it would be his to lose. The GOP is hemorrhaging supporters, and the working class are getting fed up with the right wing attack on the poor and middle classes. The events unfolding in Japan have turned everyone off to the possibility of nuclear energy, and we have a Speaker of the House who is willing to shut down all government processes (ironically for a budget debate, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars) in order to stop women from having access to abortions. And you've seen the potential right wing candidates, and they are each and every one of them total dumbasses.

And yet, Obama's losing support, too. Probably because his big change agenda hasn't yielded much in the way of change. "Yes, We Can" has become "But, We Didn't." In January, Gallup showed that only 28% found that Obama was bringing about change. I'd love to see what the number is now, post-Libya. He's very lucky that the Republicans can't seem to put together a candidate with even the semblance of being a well-balanced human being.

Where does this support go? Are we finally going to elect Dennis Kucinich? Because that would be nice. Imagine if everyone voted in their interests instead of just voting for someone they thought could win.

Ride 'Em, Dinoboy!

Becca and I were in Hobby Lobby the other day so she could buy some new art supplies, and I couldn't resist buying this tyrannosaur and the lasso-wielding cowboy. Don't they go together like a duck and sauce? This is absolutely something my home was missing.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Dear John Boehner: Go Fuck Yourself

If you think this looming government shutdown is really about anything other than John Boehner's willingness to dismantle this entire country so that a woman will never be able to make any of her own health decisions again, I have some prime land in the Everglades to sell you. They can cry budget issues all they want, everything from Boehner's office speaks volumes (literally; they've been releasing a lot of paper in the past couple of weeks) about his disgust and hatred for a woman's rights to choose. That's all it is. An ideology that says the most important problem facing America right now is a woman's reproductive freedom.

Get to work, you asshole.

Carl Sagan's Cartoon Cosmos

The Brave and the Weird

I forgot to mention: the fantastic episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold that had Batman and Robin teaming up with Scooby Doo and featuring Bat-Mite's meta-commentary? It all took place at a "Weird Al" Yankovic concert.

This is pretty much the most perfect episode of anything.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Meme of Terror

Once again, questions are taken from TV Tuesday.

1. What's your favorite sitcom?

Currently, How I Met Your Mother. Ever? Probably M*A*S*H. I also love Frasier and Cheers.

2. Is there a sitcom you really don't like?

Sure, tons of them. I hated Friends. Never cared much for Seinfeld. Reruns of Two and a Half Men and Everybody Loves Raymond send me diving for the remote. But the worst sitcom ever is probably Will & Grace, which is a shrill nightmare. You want Afghanistan to submit? Force them to watch Sean Hayes for 10 minutes and they'll be handing over the keys.

3. Which sitcom did you used to like, but now it just seems too hokey?

The Office. I'm telling you, we're just minutes away from an appearance by the Great Gazoo.

4. If your life was a sitcom, what would the title be?

I don't know... what's the point of a sitcom about a guy who sits at his computer all day?

5. Did you watch any of the marathons running this year? In part? In whole?

I watched a marathon of Freaks and Geeks on IFC at... some point recently. I don't remember why it was on, if it was a holiday, or what. I just get caught up in that show.

6. Is there a show you'd like to see run an all day marathon? On the flipside is there a show you'd avoid in marathon?

I've just mentioned several of the shows I'd avoid... I'd love for IFC to do an all day marathon of The Larry Sanders Show. I've been catching the reruns during the week and had actually forgotten just how much I loved that show.

7. What show featuring those who protect your country (fiction or non-fiction) is your favorite?

If we're counting miniseries, Band of Brothers blows me away every time I see it. If we're not counting that, I'm still going to say M*A*S*H.

8. Out of curiosity, what's the longest you've ever watched TV in one stretch?!

I've watched TV from the time I've woken up to the time I've gone to sleep more times than are even worth bothering to count.

9. Do you watch daytime talk TV? If so, which shows do you watch? Do you prefer the calm shows like Oprah or the wilder side like Jerry Springer?

I like The Steve Wilkos Show, which is somewhere in the middle. Not self-promoting fluff like Oprah, nor caterwauling at pathetic people like Jerry Springer. I get the sense Steve is trying to be helpful and listen rather than just exploit people for a living.

10. Which daytime talk TV show would you like to be on? What would the topic be?

I'd love to be on Rachael Ray if the subject were how much I want to do Rachael Ray.

11. Is there a daytime talk TV show you miss that's no longer on the air? Is there someone you'd like to see get a daytime talk TV show?

Nah, not really. Bless Bonnie Hunt for trying; I can't figure out why people don't like her shows!

12. Before talk TV took over game shows ruled the airways during the day, which do you prefer? Or are you a soap opera fan?

Again, the only game show I ever really loved is Jeopardy, and that's on here in the late afternoon. I hate the majority of game shows. I used to watch All My Children during the summers when I was in high school, but other than that, I'm not a soap opera guy. I tried to watch whatever show it was while James Franco was on, but it was dreadful and I didn't make it through his first episode (even when I just tried to forward to only the scenes he was in).

13. Which TV Dad would you have most liked to have for your own dad? On the flipside, who was the TV Dad you'd have least liked to have had?

I always liked Steven Keaton on Family Ties, and now that I'm in my mid-thirties, I understand him even more. I think my favorite TV dad of all time, though--though I don't think I'd have wanted him as my own!--is Red Forman from That '70s Show.

14. Who do you consider the most realistic TV Dad? Who did you consider simply too good to be true?

You know who always rang true to me growing up? Jack Arnold on The Wonder Years. He reminded me quite a bit of my own dad. Ward Cleaver is a fantasy, though.

15. Do you watch infomercials? Be honest now!

Not usually. It has to really grab my attention or have a Kardashian on it. My Mom says there's some infomercial out there for some ab device that has Kris Jenner in a leotard, and I still haven't been able to find it! Kris Jenner in a leotard? More like unfomercial! (If you were on Tumblr, you'd get that.)

16. What's your favorite infomercial or infomercial product?

There used to be an infomercial for a knife that could cut anything that Carl and I used to watch because the guy wielding the knife was bugfuck insane and had this evil glint in his eye every time he brandished it. So that.

17. Have you ever bought anything from an infomercial? If so, what was it?


18. What's the stupidest (most annoying, most worthless) infomercial you've ever seen?

Again, I don't really watch any. But that ShamWow guy really pisses me off. And I never liked Billy Mays, either.

19. One of the latest trends in Daytime TV is re-runs of 80's & 90's hit shows, what is your favorite that's re-running now? If you don't have one which show would you like to see re-running?

I don't really watch the reruns during the day. I watch The Simpsons and King of the Hill at night. I'd like to see more 80s reruns, but we've passed that point, I think, and moved on into the 90s. I did like to watch Frasier reruns in the morning on Lifetime, but the schedule changed and they're gone.

20. On the whole do you feel most Special Reports are really that special? Or are they simply annoying?

Depends on what's happening. These days networks seem to feel almost anything is worthy of a Special Report, unless it happens in another country... And too many Special Reports are of the "We don't have any new information, so we're just reiterating" variety. Tell me new information as you get it, but don't just talk to talk.

21. What special report has effected you most? (IE: (9/11, Reagan being shot...etc)

9/11. That was a terrifying day, watching the second plane hit live and then gradually hearing about other planes. It almost felt like we were being invaded. It was very scary.

22. What's your fondest memory of something on TV?

Weirdly, it's that old McDonald's commercial where Ronald skates with the little boy. It just kind of affected me as a kid somehow. And now when I see it (only on YouTube, sadly), it just reminds me of being a little kid and being together with my family.

23. What's the first show you remember watching regularly?

Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears. I made sure to wake up early on Saturday because it was the first show on and I didn't want to miss it.

24. What is the (pick one: stupidest, saddest, silliest, most disgusting..) thing you've ever seen on TV?

The stupidest thing I've ever seen on TV? It was probably on VH1. Or NBC...

25. What's the best series finale you remember?

I loved the Lost finale. Also, I have a special place in my heart for the last episode of The Prisoner, in large part because it pisses so many people off, and I love that sort of thing.

Marvin Gaye: "Stubborn Kind of Fellow"

Here's yet another great singer that I can't believe I've never had up before. What interests me most about Marvin Gaye's career is how reluctant he was to pursue soul music and how he hated disco music, yet was so great at both genres. This is his first big hit, a classic R&B tune that supposedly made Phil Spector so excited when he first heard it that he lost control of his car.

I Won't Murder You

Enlarge this. You need to.

TV Report: Wookies and Less Important Things

Chewbacca appearing on the season finale of The Clone Wars--and then working with Ahsoka Tano to survive, taking time to show us just how much she's really grown as a character (always bittersweet, because I figure she has to end up dead at some point)--was a total nerdgasm for me. And more than just having Chewie appear, the episode itself was fantastic. This has been another great season for this excellent show. And I remember a time when I didn't really care about even seeing... such a mistake. I adore it.

Other thoughts...

:: I am loving The Big Bang Theory. Ever since Leonard and Penny broke up, they've done a great job of giving Penny her own geeky circle of friends in Bernadette and Amy. It's a better match with the guys on the show than just "they're geeks and she's a hot girl." Now if they could just ditch Priya before they make her any bitchier.

:: I thought Michael's proposal to Holly on The Office was sweet and well-intentioned (and a much needed step in the maturity of the character), but it was still pretty over-the-top with the candles and the procession of proposals... does Chris Claremont write for this show now? Because the show can't have an emotional scene without throwing in five other layers that don't need to be there. I don't think the producers and writers even know what emotions are anymore; they just know they can get away with the manipulation because people adore this to Friends levels now. When Michael's gone, so am I.

:: If you missed this week's Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode where Batman and Robin teamed up with Scooby Doo and Mystery Inc, with meta-commentary by Bat-Mite (once again voiced by Paul Ruebens) you really missed something spectacular.

:: I loved the How I Met Your Mother episode where Barney finally found his father. I didn't check the fan reaction--I can't check it on this show anymore, because I think people are missing the point of it now. I think they just want more of the same forever, and aren't grasping that a major part of the show has always been that Ted is really telling the story of how he and his friends grew up. Sorry, Barney's going to have to grow up sometime. He can't always be a cartoon. The first half of this season was uneven, but this second half is paying off.

Did they just drop the Zoey storyline, though? It was so obvious that it was coming, and then they kind of justified it, but now they seem to just be ignoring it... I hate when this show does that. They did they same thing with Stella. They made it a big focus of the show that Ted win her love, and then when he did, all we ever saw of her was how wrong they were as a couple, which made her an intensely unlikable character.

:: I just love Castle so much. I know I say it every time I do one of these, but it never stops being true.

:: And before I go?

Wookies. Wookies make everything 100 times more awesome. It's science.