Saturday, January 31, 2009

I'll take potpourri for $4,800, Alex

ESPN went through one of their typically hyperbolic "ranking" processes, though this one got less pub than their "Mt. Rushmore" or "Who's Now" nonsense, to determine the "Prestige Rankings" of various college football programs. According to their system, UGA ranked 14th.

TWOP has a good recount of the comedies and dramadies that were cancelled way before their time. A sad list.

The NYT has a nice look at Adam Baldwin (Chuck's Casey, Firefly's Jayne).

JJ Abrams talks to the LA Times about the new Trek. Part 1 here, Part 2 here.

Ray Lewis says his free agency plans are in the hands of god now
. No word on whether or not the big guy upstairs will chat with afterlife denizens Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar to get their take on the particulars of the LB's contract negotiations.

A question from Bill Simmons latest ESPN chat:
Tommy Hawk (Crozet, VA): Is it just me or have Juliet's "hoo-ha's" gotten bigger through these seasons of Lost? If this is a side-effect of time travel, then there are going to be a lot of women risking the nose bleeds and finding themselves a "constant" to get on this island!
An astute observation. Yet another reason to love Juliet.

Extraterrestrial Roman Empires. (As a kid, I had a hardbound copy of that "Trigan Empire" comic collection. It was pretty damned cool).

DawgSports looks at breaking out the black jerseys in the future. For the record, I voted "Only games against major rivals should be blacked out, and then only on special occasion"

Could some craptacular Gulliver's Travels movie keep the delectable Emily Blunt out of Black Widow's spandex? Noooooo!

One more reason to love the oh-so adorable Jenna Fischer. She calls the message indicator on her CrackBerry the "red light of love."

The Weather Channel founder weighs in again on the "global warming" scam.

One of TV's best shows, The Middleman, coming to DVD!

Cute! Guess the Lego movie star.

A look at the hottest women of Star Trek. Some interesting choices in there, but I don't agree with their number 1 selection (if the list isn't topped by the reason we have a President O, then the list isn't entirely valid).

Finebaum's takedown of Hello Kiffykins.

The Daily Beast talks to Joss Whedon about Dollhouse.

Mo Ryan previews Monday's 3-D Chuck. Look, I like The Office. But don't we think that several years in, it's as big as it's going to get? Wouldn't it be better to give the post Super Bowl slot to a show that's a bit of an undiscovered gem, and could use the boost? Like Chuck, for example?

Good films by supposedly bad directors.

AWESOME "chart porn" from io9 on how to create your own original Star Trek adventure.

A funny look at how to write a Super Bowl story, depending on your forum.

TV Guide's favorite Sawyer nicknames.

No matter which way you take it, I'm buying what she's selling.

Please, please spare me this drivel during the game. Does Odin care who wins the game? Does Zeus? Does Anubis? The Flying Spaghetti Monster? However, I think Garuda might be pulling for the Cardinals.

Japanese Watchmen toys. Adorable. (which is kinda funny, given the nihilistic and dark tone of the book).

More ridiculous pandering and posturing and wasting of taxpayer dollars
from our elected officials. (Isn't there a little bit more to be preoccupied with now?!) To save the children!! Look, does anyone think this noise would be loud enough to actually be heard? Or that regular (non "noise making") cameras wouldn't be used for "nefarious" purposes? Or that video couldn't be used instead? Jesus Tittyfucking Christ, this kind of stuff makes me understand the terrorists.

Stewart Mandel looks back at the high school QB class of 2005. (Joe Cox was number 6, BTW).

An unbelievably fun look at 1970s sci-fi. How many do you recognize?

Are these the ugliest uniforms known to man? Even worse the the Vols, Gators or Clemson?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"I don't want to go on the cart!"

Here's a new interview with Lost's delightfully saucy redhead, Rebecca Mader, in which she proclaims that she's "not dead yet." (which of course, always reminds me of this).

Things we're not sure of (certainly not a complete list):
  • Where they are in the shooting schedule, vs. what's aired.
  • If Rebecca is being honest or misleading with her answers.
  • How much do they tell the actors about where their characters are going (or, as is the case with Lost, where they've been. Or when they've been).
Nevertheless, I'm always happy with more Charlotte on my TV.

The Name Game

Another Wednesday, another spectacular episode of Lost. (And it goes without saying that if you haven't watched it yet, don't read further).

The revelations came hard and fast this week, kiddies, and at the end, your brain probably felt like someone opened up your skull, and put the amazing cyclonic cutting action of The Magic Bullet to work on your grey matter.

"Jughead" was just about a perfect episode, one that I think will stand the test of time and rank among the very best the show has to offer. We had mysteries. We had ANSWERS. Of course, we had questions, too. We had pathos. We had laughs (thanks, Sawyer and Miles and Juliet).

The big "theme" this week was the question "what's in a name?" Names had a lot to do with things, starting the title of the eppy:

"Jughead." When you of this, undoubtedly you thought first about Archie's comic book pal with the funny hat. However, it turns out that "Jughead" was not the name of a person, but rather the name of a "thing." A big, honkin' thing. An H-Bomb! (cue literal and metaphorical playing of the Gap Band here). Dropped on the island by the US military during testing, that didn't detonate, and is now hung in a big ol' wooden derrick. Probably with enough juice to blow up the entire island. Oh, and it's "leaking." Oh, and it's 1954.

"Charlie." That's the name of the little squirt Desmond and Penny conjured up. Almost assuredly named after Charlie Pace, the marooned rocker whom Desmond repeatedly tried to help avoid his eventual fate, and who spoke with Penny, leading to the eventual reuniting of our star-crossed lovers (and rescue of the O6). Now, while that's a sweet notion, there's another layer to consider. Obviously, Penny realizes that her feared father's name is also Charles. Wouldn't it be slightly uncomfortable for them to give their child the same name as the man who tried to keep them apart? And whom Desmond has to realize is a very bad man? Also to consider, if you want to bend your brain: Do we know if Des and Penny are "legally" married, or if the little Charlie has any specific "legal" birth documents? The reason I ask is, what if something happens to Des, while he's on his search for Daniel's mother, or attempting to assist the O6 in getting back to the island? What if in trying to "do the right thing," Des goes missing in time, or gets killed? And if Penny and/or young Charlie resent the fact that Dad leaves them? (Or even worse, if young Charlie should come to believe that *gasp* Des plays some role in getting Penny killed?) Wouldn't Charlie be more likely to take his mother's name, rather than "Hume," his father's name? That would make him Charlie Widmore. And on a show with time hopping, could it turn out that young Charlie "Widmore" winds up becoming Charles Widmore -- is essence his own grandfather? Or own grandson, depending on how you look at it? Talk about your fucking "grandfather paradox!"

"Widmore." Speaking of which, the English speaking gent who threatened Sawyer and Juliet, who was wearing the uniform with the "Jones" name patch on it, turns out to be a young Charles Widmore. HOLY SHIT CHARLES WIDMORE WAS ON THE ISLAND IN THE PAST. That adds a whole new layer of complexity to the story, and puts the elder version of Widmore's efforts to find out more about the island (Black Rock diaries, research), hide the island (fake 815 crash) and infiltrate the island (the freighter team) into sharper relief. We have been shown the elder Widmore's ruthlessness in the "near present," but that wasn't a recent development. He was all about the hand-chopping in the jungle, and didn't think twice about breaking a comrade's frakkin' neck when he got too talkative with John, Juliet, Miles and Sawyer. We now know that the unis they "Others" were wearing were those scavenged from a killed team of US soldiers, hence the misleading "Jones" nameplate, but the way the show revealed Widmore's identity was classic, with Alpert scolding the badass that didn't want to back down when Locke showed up in their camp. Locke's calm recognition was also cool. Another thought: does Charles Widmore in "our present," look in his 70s? Let's assume the island Widmore in 1954 was at least 20. That would make him at least 70+ in the "present." Do people on the island, or who spend significant time on the island, age more slowly? Ben appears to have aged normally, however, but on the other end of the spectrum, Richard doesn't age at all.

"Ellie." The blonde chick in the Others camp, responsible for taking Daniel (at gunpoint) to see the bomb, was called "Ellie." Daniel remarked that something seemed familiar about her. Could she be a younger version of his mother (who we believe to be Mrs. Hawking)? It appears that on the 8 PM repeat of last week's ep, which featured a pop up trivia guide, Mrs. Hawking was identified as "Eloise." Now, we're not sure if that's exactly canon, since we didn't see that in the episodes proper, but it would seem to make the puzzle pieces fit. This begs a few questions: Was Daniel born on the island? This encounter takes place in 1954, and Daniel looks to be in his 30s. So Daniel was probably born in the early 70s. So if in fact that is his mother, did she give birth to him on or off the island, some 16 or so years after this meeting? Does this play into Daniel's ability to understand the unique properties of the island? Could babies be born on the island then, with the mother and child surviving? If not, how and why (and when) did Eloise leave? And who is the father? Could it possibly be Charles Widmore? Is that why "present" Widmore is funding Daniel's research (and taking care of the catatonic Theresa)? Would that make Daniel and Penny at least half-siblings? Also, if Daniel really wanted to get a message to his mother (via Des, in Oxford), couldn't he have just told "Ellie" something she'll need to know 50 or so years in the future then, while they were together on the island? And if you'll recall, Daniel named his "test rat" in the maze "Eloise." Naming your lab rat after your mom? Tiny bit icky?

See what I mean? Open Magic Bullet. Insert Brain. Push down and julienne. Wheeeee!

Okay, other questions, quotes and observations from "Jughead:"

That one quick scene with the rifle looked very much like a first person shooter video game. Odd stylistic choice by the director, or something meant to convey more?

"We didn't put them here. You did."

"Well, gee, I didn't have time to ask that with Frogurt on fire and all."

In the lab, who was in the picture with Daniel? Theresa, the comatose chick? Someone else? Was that his girlfriend?

Does this mean the US government knows about the island? Well, I mean, of course they know about it, since they were testing H-bombs there and sending troops in. But do they know about the "magical" properties of the island?

"Bury it and don’t worry about it. It can’t go off, because it didn’t go off."

Is the bomb buried in the bottom of one of the stations? Didn't Des and (I think) Sayid encounter a wall that was extraordinarily thick with concrete reinforcement? And does anyone else think that this bomb will go off at some point toward the end of the series, erasing all traces of the island?

Are we sure that Daniel is a "reliable narrator?" For example, he said what they do in the past couldn't change the future. But isn't his telling them to bury the bomb changing the past? Isn't Locke telling Richard who he is (and affirming that with knowledge of Jacob) changing the future? Would Richard have popped up at John Locke's birth, or given him the Dalai Lama test, if not for this trip to the past by Locke?

Ellie mocks Daniel, saying, “Aren’t you the Romeo?” To which he replies, “Far from it, I assure you.” Are his feelings for Charlotte genuine? Or is Daniel, who is possibly in cahoots with Widmore in the grand scheme, up to something more nefarious?

The only thing that didn't quite ring true for me in this ep was the very forthcoming and helpful "janitor." He seemed to pop up out of nowhere, and tell Des what he needed to know, and not ask too many questions (as would a normal maintenance dude who just found a stranger breaking into a sealed off lab). But could this have actually been intentional? And that the janitor was actually supposed to be stilted and helpful, as an agent of Widmore or Ben?

Is the 1954 Alpert aware of the island's special, and time-hopping, properties?

What do characters other than "our own" see and think after the flash that removes people that were just standing there? And when, chronologically, did this start for the people moving through linear time on the island? Could this be Alpert and the Others' first clue that the time traveling story Locke just told them is true?

I actually knew that that was an M-1 Garand. (Built lots of army models, had lots of old school GI Joes, and watched lots of war movies).

"Could be 5 minutes or 5,000 years." "That's just awesome."

If Theresa is afflicted with time-travel sickness, why isn't she dead? It certainly took down Minkowski (and presumably others) fairly quickly. But it appears Theresa has been hanging on for a while.

Noooooo! Not "Ginger!"

Miles just kept bringing the funny: “Yeah, me too. I’m great too.”

As did Sawyer: "Hate to bust up the 'I'm an Other, you're an Other' reunion."

And damn, more hilarity:

"Good luck with that."

"You TOLD her?"

"Others 101. Gotta know Latin. Language of the enlightened!"

I loved that Penny saw right through Des after he came back, but didn't badger him about his "mission." She knows the risks involved (or at least some of them), but didn't play the typical "whiny naysayer" that we might have been conditioned by ordinary TV to expect.

If Mrs. Hawking is working with Ben, and Ben and Widmore are at odds in a blood fued, then why would Widmore have Hawking's address so handy right there in his rolodex?

Yep, 3 for 3 this year. "Jughead" was a heaping buffet of awesome.

What did y'all think?

Until next time, Namaste.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Legos meet Galactica and it's frakkin magnificent

If you're a fan of BSG, or Lego, or just of teh awesome, check out this post on Gizmodo.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I'll take potpourri for $4,700, Alex

Mo Ryan of the Chicago Trib continues to grab some geektastic interviews, this one with Ronald D. Moore about his directorial debut on Friday's BSG (which he also wrote). As for "A Disquiet Follows My Soul," I thought his direction was solid, not showy, and his script was an effective character study following the revelation and shock heavy mid season opener from last Friday. And here's another good interview with RDM. And one with the final Cylon.

Hey ladies.....I'm eminently qualified.

Did any other Dawg fans realize that Brandon Coutu was quietly in Seattle all year?

One side did seem to get all the attention on this issue, didn't they? I applaud the Big O's removal of the "gag order," yet I'm still perplexed why the government feels compelled to steal our money at gunpoint to use for "family planning" in other countries in the first place.

Additional thoughts on Lost now that I've had a couple of days to reflect on my original post:
  • The issue with Locke being "dead" and the concern Ben, and his off-island butcher, were showing for his corpse: could John/Bentham be under the influence of the same drug that put Nikki and Paulo in a death-like trance? But he probably went through a coroner and embalming, since he's in a coffin at a funeral home and there was a public announcement (in the paper), right? Or was that part of a conspiracy, since Ben obviously has other off-island contacts?
  • Why is Charlotte the only one of the "island time travelers" being affected with nosebleeds? Is it because she was the only one of the group born there on the island? And if she was born there, why is she traveling through time with the Losties and not remaining in one place like The Others?
  • When Sun shows Kate a picture of Ji-Yeon, it's a pic of a baby and not of a toddler. Usually, I don't give a shit about kids, but this struck me as odd, since Ji-Yeon is obviously older now. Intentional and signifying something, or just an innocuous prop?
  • A funny take on "previously, on Lost."
  • The guy who keeps track of continuity on Lost.
A fond look back at the Bush years. That's related to Bulldog football, not lower taxes.

Kurt Warner a better QB than Peyton Manning? The numbers sure are interesting.

The "hobbit people" were not human. But just when you thought they were about to die off, there was another ending.

7 of the most embarrassing names in sports

Cool movie poster "remakes" by Olly Moss

Though the whole body of the inauguration speech was infected with overt religiosity, it was nice to hear a brief shout out to some of us. And of course even that draws criticism, though "we" make up a sizable portion of the voting -- and paying -- constituency.

Michelle Ryan as the new Doctor's assistant? It has been confirmed that she will be in one of the remaining specials with Tennant, but could she be signing on for duty with the 11th Doctor also? There were myriad problems with Bionic Woman, and the failure of that show wasn't entirely her fault. But some actors (like Hugh Laurie and Simon Baker) can be charismatic while suppressing their natural accents, and others can't. Ryan clearly couldn't, and I only found her really appealing when she went undercover as an English exchange student. So maybe that would be a very good choice (and certainly much better than the rumors of petulant twat Lily Allen as a Doctor's companion).

Fun set interviews from Big Bang Theory. And "Spock" actually signed the napkin!

Women at Deadspin ponder the role of religion in sports. After suffering through Tebow, and another week of Warner, this made me giggle:

But seriously, wouldn’t it be freakin’ amazing if there was a little equality? We have equality in everything else, why not religion too? How about someone doing a post-game presser and thanking Satan for an amazing tackle that splays a player out unconscious? Wouldn’t that be awesome? “Thank you oh Dark Lord for laying waste of my opponent.”

Or how about thanking Mercury for the speed to run a race past 3,000 non-believing runners. “I’d like to thank Thor for the power of the Gods that I might press that 800 lbs and not crush my spinal column.” What happened to those religions? They were fun. No, we’re down to just a few popular deities.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Death, now $123 cheaper

When I moved here, I was aghast at the cost of ciggies. At the supermarket, which back in the motherland generally had the cheapest smokes (along with QuickTrip), they are exorbitant. Last year, on my first trip to the grocery store, I walked up to the counter and they told me my tasty tobacky friends would be $50 per carton. Wha - huh? I was used to paying around $35 at the local Publix, and that was shocking. And that $50 was BEFORE they raised the tax on them another dollar per pack, bringing the total to $60 per carton. I begrudgingly paid that a couple of times, before I ventured back south for the Dawgs games, and "stocked up" there.

Over the course of the summer, without regular supply runs to the south (or a Dharma drop) I did some research on how to cut the prices locally. I checked out ordering by mail from an Indian reservation, but that seemed like a pain in the ass, and the Feds regulate it such that you can't order by credit card, and I didn't feel quite right mailing checks or giving my bank account info to Chief Crazy Tumor. I finally found a local c-store that claimed "lowest prices in town!" and reluctantly shelled out $52 for a carton (but I got a free bic lighter!). Thankfully, football season rolled around again, and I was able to fill a duffle bag with a few cheap cartons of smoky treats during each visit. (I had to wedge them in, because I pack like a chick). But recently, the stash I'd built up from my last trip home in November was running low, and I was wondering what I'd do. So after some googling, I realized that Virginia had one of the lowest "sin taxes" on smokes around, and figured I might plan a trip there. (Actually, I had heard this before, but I have ZERO sense of direction, and didn't realize how close it really was). I made a few phone calls, and realized that the Rite Aids and CVSs there peddled cancer for $33 per carton. I also had a few coupons sent to me by the friendly folks at Marlboro (as part of their direct mail efforts I noted down in this post) that the local c-store wouldn't accept.

So this afternoon, I drove to another state, which it turns out was only about 30 miles away. Thank Zeus for the GPS though. I picked up 6 cartons of ciggies, and used two $4 off coupons and two $3 off coupons. I figure I used about $5 worth of gas, so all in all, I came out $123 dollars "ahead" for an investment of about an hour's time. I listened to Ron Moore's podcast for last week's awesome BSG (where he frequently drinks whiskey and "turns the smoking light on" so he can blow through a half a pack of American Spirits while recording it, which seemed to fit thematically with my journey) and all in all, it was a worthwhile trip.

So, to sum up: Thank you Virginny. Frak you Maryland state government. Thank you BSG podcasts. Thank you Marlboro.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The most fascinating thing in the world... this:

Or at least it is to the kids. In case you couldn't tell from the pic, it's one of those plastic pull tabs typically featured on beverage cartons. Since I drink a fluid fuck-ton of coffee with half and half, I always have these things around. And it's not like they make a lot of noise when you pull one off, but the cats come running from another room when they hear it being removed. (Much the same way we did in college when we heard the pop top on a brewski).

I don't understand the obsession with them. They don't move. They haven't been baked in an opium den with catnip. They don't flash and sparkle. But they remain, by far, the favorite "toy." And I've tried other things. Doorknob hangy things with feathers. Rolling balls with bells. Mice shaped toys stuffed with herbs. But they know what they like, and dammit, that's what it is. They're cheap (or no cost, depending on how you look at it), however, the only downside is that they don't play well with the vacuum cleaner. They're easy enough to avoid when vacuuming, though, so it's a small price to pay for the eternal gratitude and constant joy they seem to bring.

So let's hear it for plastic pull tabs, the most fascinating toy known to man. Or cat.

Just for the "awwwww" factor:

Technical Difficulties....Maybe

News for readers and subscribers: Evidently, Feedburner has been acquired by the Google monolith. They assure us all that feeds burned for the blogs have been transferred seamlessly, but I've noticed some wonky things going on under the hood. All this is a long way of saying, if you subscribe via an RSS reader (like Google Reader) or via an email subscription, just check it out to make sure you're getting the latest and greatest content. (For example, comparing what's published here on the actual blog, vs. what shows up in a reader or your inbox).

If you want to "re-up" your subscription via email or feed, I've updated the two widgets on the right side of the page with the supposed most current feed.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dude. Don't waste that hot pocket!

If you haven't watched last night's two hour premiere of Lost, then 1) proceed with caution, because I'll reference the details, and 2) what the hell is wrong with you?

For those wondering what's happened on the previous 4 seasons, you could have watched the hour long clip show that preceded the premiere. Or, you could just leave it to Hurley to explain for you:

Awesome. Makes perfect sense, right?

WOW. What a great return from a show hitting on all cylinders. I won't go into all the plot machinations and details, but it basically boiled down to this: Hour one set up the situation our castaways find themselves in for the foreseeable future (past? present?), both on the island and off the island. In essence, something has caused the island, and possibly some of its inhabitants, to go "skipping through time." Hour two looked at the consequences of the O6's big lie, particularly viewed through the prism of the most "human" and "honest" of the castaways, the endearing Hurley. We ended up not knowing exactly where -- and when -- all the players are, and with a 70 hour sense of urgency to get the O6 back to the island. Or "god help us all."

And in between, we got redshirt deaths, nosebleeds, mysterious alliances, island history, cameos from long dead Losties, a snippet of the hit TV show Expose, death by dishwasher, a butcher shop with questionable HAACP practices, Willie Nelson and flying hot pockets. How's that for ya?

In no particular order, questions, quotes and comments from last night's shows:

The cold open was fantastic, with Pierre Chang (aka Dr. Marvin Candle, aka Dr. Mark Wickman, aka Dr. Edgar Halliwax) waking up with his wife and newborn, and putting on a record. The records skips, of course, setting up the theme of the season and playing into Daniel's later analogy. So, why all the aliases? Is Chang really the brains behind Dharma, or just an actor engaged to portray the brains? And in some of the previous appearances, it seemed that he was missing part of his left arm. However, last night, he wasn't. Does this have anything to do with the "hand chopping" that Juliet was threatened with later in the evening, by uniformed island invaders speaking with an English accent? (Forces of Widmore, perhaps?) Also, Chang and wife have a baby. Was the baby born off island, and then moved there? Or is this an exception to the pregnancy problems plaguing the island dwellers?

Were the soldiers who caught up with Sawyer and Juliet the same ones who attacked the camp? If so, why the anachronistic combination of flaming arrows and rifles? Or, in this particular time period, are there two separate forces, the soldiers and the original Others (who don't know our Losties at this point)?

Past Ethan (!) didn't recognize Locke at all. But past Richard did. Is this because Richard is special? And never ages? (But Richard also admitted that at some point, he himself wouldn't recognize Locke). Why did all the gang with Sawyer and Juliet move together, but the Others didn't move with Locke?

Is the island itself moving in time, and some of the inhabitants "staying" (like pulling a tablecloth quickly off a table, but leaving the dishes)? Or, are the inhabitants the ones moving through time, while the island itself stays on a "normal" timeline? Or are both happening? And will someone please put together a handy linear timeline to help us all keep this straight? I'm confused, but at this point, not frustratingly so. I expect we'll be kept unsure of the timelines for a while, and I'm okay with that.

Could the "time shifting" be a plausible explanation for the various encounters with dead people? That the folks they're seeing aren't necessarily "ghosts," but rather people "out of phase" with time? And some are able to manifest more prominently than others? Could this also be an explanation for all the "whispers" in the jungle? Just "echoes" of previous (and future) inhabitants?

If Faraday is back in the 70s at some point (his wonderful close encounter with Chang and the drillers, who found the frozen donkey wheel behind a wall of rock), can we assume the rest of the gang is also back in that timeline with him?

“Son of a....(white light, whooosh, time travel)...bitch.”

If Faraday actually did speak to Desmond during his hatch time, why didn't Des remember this previously (and not before it came to him in a dream, when he was off the island with Penny on their boat, and in the "present?")

“You know, maybe if you ate more comfort food, you wouldn’t have to go around shooting people.” Suddenly, I have a craving for something from a drive-thru. Or killing my neighbor with a carving knife.

And who is Daniel's mom? Is it Ms. Hawking, the lady who advised Des back in "Flashes Before Your Eyes?" Or is that just what we're supposed to think? And speaking of Ms. Hawking, what the hell is going on with her and Ben? Are they working together? And when are they working together? The PC in her "lair" appeared to be an old Mac. Has she missed the entire technological revolution, or is that just state of the art tech from the early 80s, where she might "be?" But if that's the case, how exactly does this "70 hours" thing work, since we're led to believe that Ben went from his present time planning with Jack (at the motel), to see her. Is that 70 from a fixed point in the current timeline (where we assume Jack, Kate, Hurley and Ben are now)? Delightfully intriguing.

“I need a cool code name.”

So there are plenty of people off the island helping Ben, including the chick at the butcher shop who is going to watch over the corpse of Locke/Bentham?

"Libby says 'hi.'" That was a cool cameo from Ana-Lucia, and one that also gently poked good spirited fun at the actress's own tangles with the law.

Who does Sun really blame? Ben? Or Jack and Kate? Or Widmore?

I guess Locke should have picked the compass in the Dalai Lama test when he was 5 years old.

Charlotte's getting nosebleeds! Noooooo! We need a hot, English-accented ginger!

And speaking of Locke, he is dead, right? Ben didn't answer that definitively (like we would expect that): Jack: "He's dead, isn't he?" Ben: "I'll see you in six hours, Jack."

And why does Richard tell Locke that he has to die?

If Jacob knew how moving the island would cause such distress for Locke and everyone else, why exactly did he want the island moved?

“Why is there a dead Pakistani on my couch?!”

Why is Sayid no longer working for Ben? And why does he advise Hurley not to trust him at any cost?

Is Des "special" because of what happened with the failsafe, and his proximity to it? Did this cause more than just his ability to see snippets of the future?

Nice use of "Dream Police" as background music when Hurley was in the c-store.

All in all, I was extremely enthused about the two eppys we saw last night. As always, it provided a delicate balance of entertainment, answers, action, humor, character and yes, of course, more fucking questions.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Plain as the nose on your (Cylon) face

Now that we know what we know, the infamous "last supper" picture makes a LOT more sense now, doesn't it:

I'll take potpourri for $4,600, Alex

This week's roundup features and extra helping of geek. Enjoy.

RIP, Ricardo Montalban. Just for good measure. Also, 16 things you may not know about TWoK.

As well documented in the blogosphere, ESPN is increasingly populated with self-absorbed asshats with a tired schtick. However, a rare bright spot on the tube and on the radio is Scott Van Pelt. Here's a good interview with him at The Big Lead.

The Mad-Pocalypse has been averted. Matt Weiner signs for two more seasons. Everyone fuck around, have a martini and smoke up!

A Veronica Mars flick? Get me tickets and popcorn, I'm there.

The Top 50 sci-fi costumes. And here's a detailed history of one all the geeks know is on that list.

Soft-core sci-fi sex coming to Skinemax

I consider myself a treasure trove of nerd trivia. But I never knew that EJO was offered the role of Captain Picard.

Here's another one for you. Did you realize that Nathan Fillion auditioned for the role of Crichton on Farscape (that eventually went to Ben Browder)?

I'm too old, and geographically undesirable. But seeing ads like this gives me hope for mankind.

The talented and smoking hot Emily Blunt in the Iron Man sequel, possibly as The Black Widow? Mmmmmm.

Speaking of hot and talented, an interview with Amy Acker.

Mo Ryan continues to get geektastic interviews, this time with the Lost boys. Good stuff. Wednesday! Wednesday!

After all the naysaying and hand-wringing over Dollhouse, a few reasons to be optimistic.

Good news for Mondays: Leonard's mom on BBT gets cast, as does Chuck's dad on Chuck.

A solid list of the Top 25 episodes of Angel, along with the 5 worst
. (And yep, those are definitely the top 2 worst).

17 revamps that went better than expected

Reasons to look forward to the new TV season.

Tim Tebow! Praise be to Allah!

Some insight into what's shaping up to be another great season of In Treatment.

Finebaum's SEC coaching rankings. Hard to argue with it.

Am I a Cylon? (BSG Spoilers Ahoy)

For those of you that didn't watch the premiere of Battlestar Galactica season 4.5 last night, it's probably a good idea to go away now if you don't want to be spoiled.

I mean, if you're a fan of the show, there's no way you missed the episode "Sometimes a Great Notion" last night, right?

Okay, last chance.

Well, here we go then.


In reading non-spoilerific previews and articles about the final eppys of BSG, there was a recurrent theme present. Most everyone agreed that if we thought previous seasons had been "dark," we ain't seen nothing yet. And the first outing of 2009 certainly lived up to that.

Within seconds of the show starting, we had the "previously on" montage, and I was surprised that it featured Dualla. I mean, yes, Dualla was a recognizable character. She played a part in the love quadrangle that wouldn't die (with Lee, Kara and Sam). Before that, had been Billy's girlfriend up to the point he was killed, and was regularly featured in CIC, but I wouldn't have put her front and center in the show's overarching mythology. So what did it mean that she was shown in the previouslies, along with all the core cast? In regular TV shorthand, I thought this meant the producers were telegraphing that Dualla would turn out to be the 5th and final Cylon. And when we spent roughly the first half of the ep with her, gradually reconnecting with Lee and trying to put a "sunny face" on the apocalyptic situation the crew found themselves in with the discovery of a nuked and scorched Earth, I thought for sure this was a way of "re-introducing" the character only to show us at the end that she would be the final Cylon. I almost got distracted from the show at hand, pondering what this meant and being slightly disappointed in the eventual reveal.


Turns out, this was a very skillful bit of sleight of hand. Dualla was not the final Cylon, but was instead meant to put a tragic, and very real, face on the shattered dreams of the fleet. Dee had lost Billy. Dee had lost Lee in the most humiliating way possible. And the only thing she (and probably many in the fleet) had to live for was the idea that they would find Earth. And the 13th colony. And hope. However, what they found wasn't a dream. What they found was a barren, radioactive wasteland, devoid of life and hope. Somewhere on the flight back to the Galactica, Dee just checked out emotionally. Decided that she simply couldn't go on this way and live in a world without hope. She wanted to make her last day a good one, and she embraced Lee, and gave him the support he needed to step up in a time where the other leaders in the fleet were too devastated to do anything. That done, she and Lee had a delightful dinner, and she went back to her cabin, neatly hung up her locket and ring, and blew her frakkin' brains out.


That was about as brutal to watch play out as you might expect. But with a show known for flaying your emotions, we weren't done yet. Not by a long shot. There were three more devastating gut punches (and that's before we even get to the reveal of the final Cylon):

Watching Laura Roslin become completely spiritually destroyed by the fool's gold that was Earth (and the prophecy that the "dying leader would take them there"). Her arrival back on the Galactica, with the entire deck waiting on her words of wisdom or encouragement, only to watch her shake her head in disillusionment and run away, unable to speak or face the truth, was haunting. Her scenes with Bill, where she was burning the prophecies, page at a time, and her later fetal position withdrawal, clutching only a small sprig of greenery from Earth, were equally, and tragically, mesmerizing.

Where Laura retreated into herself, Bill decided to take action. He grabbed a crewman's sidearm and marched resolutely through the corridors of the Galactica, all the while the ship was going to hell (I loved the ancillary depictions of chaos, with the crew fighting all while our eyes were locked on Adama from behind). He entered Tigh's cabin, and tried to commit suicide by Cylon, goading, in the most vile ways imaginable, his oldest and dearest friend to shoot him. That he used Ellen to make his point only underscored what would come later. This was a master class of acting, and Olmos and Hogan knocked this out of the park, without a shred of vanity in their performances.

And finally, we had Starbuck searching Earth for the transmission signal that led them there in the first place. What she found was perplexingly horrific: the wreckage of her Viper that had disappeared during the previous season, before she mysteriously popped up out of nowhere in the S3 finale promising to lead the fleet to Earth. But not only was it the wreckage of the same Viper that had seemingly blown up in "Maelstrom," it also contained a body. Her body. Even Kara's creepy Cylon stalker and philosophical tour guide, Leoben, was freaked the fuck out by this, running away from her and leaving her to scream "What am I?" Later, she burned "her own" body, Viking-style, wondering, like us, what the hell this means.

Amidst the emotional carnage, we learned a few other things:
  • Earth was nuked and destroyed about 2,000 years ago. As you will recall, the original 12 colonies also had a cataclysm around 2,000 years ago.
  • All the bodies found on Earth appear to be Cylon. So was the entire "lost tribe" made up entirely of Cylons? Does that mean that all life on Earth was Cylon? Does this mean I'm a Cylon? Could this mean that perhaps, the "original" life form was Cylon, and that the "humans" were the creation? Since Cylons are the monotheists on the show, could this mean that the ideas we understand as an "afterlife" (and "heaven and hell"), are in some way related to their resurrecting and downloading?
  • Also, they found what appeared to be the remains of a Cylon centurion. But it looks more like the "old school" TV show centurion that the "reimagined" TV show centurion. Interesting.
  • Three of the final four Cylons (Anders, Tory, Chief) started to remember "past lives" on Earth, just before the apocalypse. Were they, in some conscious form, actually there? And what is their connection to the four that are with the fleet now?

And then, of course, we get to the big finish. Ellen Tigh is the Final Cylon.

I am so thrilled that BSG didn't drag this out, "who shot JR" style, over the remaining episodes. The reveal couldn't possibly live up to the hype at this point, and I'd much rather spend the remaining episodes of the finest show on TV examining the "why" and impact of it all, rather than waiting on a name. I have to admit, I didn't see that one coming (I thought it would be Zak Adama). The last scene was beautifully played, with Tigh walking out into the ocean. Was he finally cracking, also? Going out into the ocean, like the foxes referenced in the story he and Bill discussed in their drunken conversation over loaded firearms, to die and get carried away by the currents? Or did he "sense" some connective tissue just below the surface of the water that drew him there? Or maybe both? But just like the Tory, Anders and Tyrol, Tigh had a flash of his previous life on Earth, too. And this time he was there with Ellen, holding her in his arms just before the nuclear devastation. And she told him with confidence that they would be reborn, and together, again.

So what did you think, BSGers? Emotionally crippling and dark enough for you? I thought it was an unbelievably harrowing and unflinching hour of television.

Mo Ryan of the Chicago Trib has an in-depth interview with Ron Moore, and David Weddle and Bradley Thompson (the writers of the ep) here, and it's a must-read. I didn't realize until I read this where the title of the episode came from, even though I read the book in college (I followed up Kesey's "Cuckoo's Nest" with this, and was disappointed, actually). After watching "Sometimes a Great Notion," the title, taken from the Leadbelly song "Goodnight Irene," makes a lot of sense:
Sometimes I live in the country
Sometimes I live in the town
Sometimes I get a great notion
To jump into the river an’ drown

Friday, January 16, 2009

I can tell you what it's NOT

Was reading through the great pop culture blog Pop Candy today, and it was mailbag time. This question (and answer) appeared:

I was sitting around with my friends, and we started to discuss R.E.M. I asked them to tell me their all-time top 10 favorite R.E.M. songs. We had a long and very heated discussion on this topic. To help us settle this, can you give me your all time top 10 R.E.M. songs? -- Bill K.

This changes all the time for me, and I know I've written about this before. However, on this day, at this moment, here are my favorites:

1. Driver 8
2. Fall On Me
3. (Don't Go Back To) Rockville
4. Begin the Begin
5. Country Feedback
6. Cuyahoga
7. E-bow the Letter
8. So. Central Rain
9. Pretty Persuasion
10. It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

I like Whitney's list quite a bit. After I read this, I started thinking about my own R.E.M. Top 10. Given where I went to school, and the timing of it all, there's probably no band on earth I've heard (and seen) more. It goes without saying that they are indeed my favorite band. So I've listened to every song they've ever done hundreds, if not thousands, of times.

But before I consider the favorites, I can definitively state what song will NOT be appearing on this list: "Swan Swan H." I honestly think I would rather listen to a Debby Boone rap album than this tune. Back in the college days, there was a group of us that lived together and we always played cards or darts while partaking in a bit of the devil's parsley and listening to tunes -- usually R.E.M. We all loved Life's Rich Pageant, but the second -- and I mean the second -- that "Swan Swan H" started, the four of us would frantically reach for the remote. Even in a bambalachi haze, when Stipe started moaning "swan....swan....hummingbird song..." someone would hit "forward" or "stop" or "mute" or anything just to get the madness to stop. If the remote wasn't in easy grasp, one of us would jump from the card table in a hippie lettuce stupor and and sprint like Usain Bolt across the living room to hit a button, any button, on the CD player.

Anyhoo, that's more than enough time spent discussing a song I hope to never hear again.

As for my top 10? I feel similarly that this changes all the time, depending on mood and what you've listened to lately. When Accelerate came out this summer, it marked a great return to form for the band, and I played the hell out of "Living Well is the Best Revenge." So that's perhaps a bit overcooked in my memory right now, or else it might make the list. And I don't necessarily consider this the "best" of R.E.M., but rather a list of my favorites:

  1. Pretty Persuasion
  2. Chronic Town (Box Cars)
  3. (Don't Go Back To) Rockville
  4. Turn You Inside-Out
  5. Begin the Begin
  6. Can't Get There From Here
  7. It's The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
  8. So. Central Rain
  9. I Believe
  10. Perfect Circle
  11. Just a Touch

Okay, I cheated and added an extra to the Top 10. Sue me. Also, special mention has to go to some of the oddities from Dead Letter Office, including "Voice of Harold," "Windout," "Walter's Theme," "Toys in the Attic" (which I actually heard before Aerosmith's original), "Pale Blue Eyes" and the drunken "King of the Road."

What about y'all?

Don't try this at home

Ever tried to transition from one "primary" PC to another?

And make sure that...

  • All the same applications are installed the same way? And that every setting for each of 30+ applications is the exact same as it was?
  • Every single peripheral and device (external hard drive, printer, scanner, monitor, modem, router, iPod, CrackBerry, etc.) is installed and fully functional?
  • Every document you've ever created is moved and in the exact same place in the same folder on the new PC?
  • The financial history of your life in a 6 year old Money program is flawlessly backed up, moved and reinstalled?
  • All your emails are archived and accessible?
  • You can move your iTunes library, along with all its related settings, ratings and playlists, to another PC?

If you have, then perhaps you can understand why there's a mandatory waiting period on the purchase of handguns.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

If the cancer doesn't kill me, the neuroses will

I was cleaning up the other day, and in the process of moving things off the coffee table to dust and polish, I realized how completely neurotic and OCD I am about my smoking. Not that this comes as a surprise, exactly, given how I am about most other things. But I started making a list of the things that have to be "just so" that I do, and I realized I should probably get a nice white dinner jacket that ties in the back.

For example...
  • Going along with my "law of backups," I have not one but two zippos. One is always fully fueled and sitting beside a candle on the coffee table. Should the "primary" ever run out of fuel, I pick up the backup, and then immediately refuel the other one, placing it by the candle to serve as the backup. It helps to have them evenly rotated.
  • Along the same lines, zippo users know that you have to have a flint to make a spark. My dad showed me a trick (damn, I feel like John Bender here) where you can store extra flints in the bottom of the outer case, below the insert/felt, so that if for some reason you run out where you don't have access to the little plastic six pack of flints, you always have one ready. If I use this trick to replace the flint, I get antsy until I can put another backup in its place.
  • When I leave the house, I always put the smokes and the lighter in the same pocket. Left front.
  • I'm a fan of "having the smokes where you are." Instead of opening one pack, and carrying that and one lighter around to various rooms in the house or to the car, I have a pack and a lighter everywhere I could be. The full pack and the zippo are the "traveling" combo, but I have an open pack and a lighter (disposable) on my desk at home. I have another combo in the living room. (When I had a large house back in the motherland, I had combos placed in the bedroom, the office, the kitchen and the basement). I have another combo in the car. Lazy? I mean hell, how much hassle is it to carry a lighter and a pack of smokes around? But with a little foresight, I don't even have to think about it. And how do I have so many disposable lighters? There was a tiny c-store I found here, where (for a while) they had the cheapest ciggies around (not saying much, since they fucking tax you to death here). With every carton you bought, they gave you a free Bic. So I stocked up. And of course, they're all stored in a specific rubbermaid container in the pantry. But for a while, when I was journeying back to Georgia for the ballgames, I would get cartons and cartons there (about $15 - 20 cheaper per), and they didn't give out free lighters. Without the excessive taxation, perhaps they thought it would cut into their margins. Which reminds me, I probably need to make a sojourn to Virginia, to take advantage of their more smoker-friendly pricing.
  • I also get paranoid about running out of a pack, or of a supply. Right now, I have about 15 packs in the pantry, 2 in the briefcase and 3 in the car. And I'm wondering when I should restock, before the situation becomes dire. (Not that I really smoke THAT much. Probably less than a pack a day, unless it's a big drunken weekend).
  • I realized I am an ambidextrous smoker. When I'm driving, I use the left hand (the world is my ashtray!). When I'm at my desk at home, I use the right (which is odd, since that's the "mouse hand.") In other situations, it just depends. I knew someone who could only use their left hand, and frequently burned themselves or dropped the ciggie when they tried to switch hands. Idiot.
  • I don't use the ashtray in the car. The ashtray in the car is kind of like my tiny "junk drawer." I keep paper clips, pens, frequent shopper keychain cards -- all on one keyring with a label that says "frequent shopper, natch -- and other bullshit in there. (Change goes in a special zip bag on the left door compartment).
  • I hate looking at butts. At home, where I have an ashtray, I also have an empty coke or beer can. When I'm done with the ciggie, I put it out in the ashtray, and then put the butt in the can. (Benefits: don't have to make as many trips to the trash can, don't ever inadvertently light a filter - ugh, and don't have to see the butts pile up). I lived with another smoker for a while, and the supposed deal was that we would alternate drink mixing and ashtray emptying. When one of us went upstairs to mix another round of cocktails, the other was supposed to empty the ashtray. Needless to say (especially for those of you familiar with the situation), one end of that bargain didn't always get held up. So I would then take the butts and line them side by side around the outside of the ashtray. I thought of it as a cancerous arts and crafts project. Also, you know it's time to empty the ashes from the tray when you can't see the bottom. You don't let a huge mound build up like a mini-Pompeii diorama. A while back, when my hetero lifemate was smoking, he had a pickup truck. He would throw the butts out the window, too, but would use the ashtray in the dash of the truck. But I think he emptied it once a year. It was a ginormous mountain of ash, quite possibly obscuring his view of the road. I was always afraid he'd make a quick turn one way or another, and I, in the passenger seat, would suddenly feel like I was on Mrs. O'Leary's Wild Ride (cow optional).
Crazy? Any crazier than smoking itself? I was gonna make a new year's resolution to quit. I thought about it for a few minutes, and said "eh." I assume I will eventually. (Well, of course I will eventually. Just like I'll quit watching TV, walking, breathing and drinking whiskey. But in a less definitive sense, I'll probably quit sometime in the next couple of years. I just had an end of year physical, and surprisingly, the doc told me I check out okay. Yes, even the lungs and the liver. Keith Richards can SUCK IT!).

Until then, I've got a system and I think I'll stick to it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I'm feeling Rand-y

Check out this interesting article from the Wall Street Journal.

Perhaps some folks are realizing that what's going on about us sounds.....familiar?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I'll take potpourri for $4,500, Alex

I'm just going to close my eyes and put my hands over my ears and chant "lalalalalalala" and totally ignore the financial machinations of Fox, which might delay the release of Watchmen on its scheduled date. And instead, watch two new videos: A featurette on story and characters, and a look at the making of the iconic "Minutemen" photo. (in Quicktime)

An awesome recap of i09's 2008 "triviagasms."

Lost fonts and logos!

Happy birthday, my favorite hairstyle (er, just to be clear, not for me).

Mandel's early preseason top 10
. The plague of evil is number one. And since it's a Mandel column, UGA is nowhere to be seen. Anyone else have that vague "2005" feeling yet? 2004 was the swan song of some celebrated players, and there were great expectations that fell short that year. The next year, we flew a bit under the radar and took care of business. Too soon?

Betty Draper looking smoking hot.

AJ Green voted to all-freshman team
(along with Julio Jones). So who was the SEC freshman of the year? Depends on who you ask. Coaches say AJ. AP says Julio.

The top 500 worst (aka "most common") passwords of all time. Evidently, the list was compiled from people that have no imagination, like their own name, are geeks (NCC1701!) and enjoy casual profanity. A funny list to peruse.

Statistical savant Bill James on why the computer models used for the BCS suck.

Apple's latest and greatest:

Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard

Young John Connor talks about the upcoming eppys of T:TSSC,
and addresses one of my (few) complaints (too many terminators coming back from the future).

A dog, and elephant, and....aaaawwwwwwww. Sniff.

Recap of this week's Mentalist eppy. A good reason why this show is resonating: it delved into the arc, but upended "regular procedural expectations." When Jane decided he was going after Red John, as a viewer we've been conditioned to think that Lisbon would have a big argument with him and try to talk him out of it. Instead, she was supportive. I like the team here, and it makes this procedural better than average.

The Breakfast Cereal Club. Hilarious.

Interview with Lisa of "Wendy and Lisa" fame. Hot, talented, funny AND a comic-book fan? Awesome.

Let's just make sure we understand the truth: it's NOT a "tax cut" if you don't pay taxes. (It's theft and welfare at gunpoint). It makes my blood boil that the mainstream media ALWAYS overlooks this point. And why do breeders get more of everyone's money? It's a fucking choice.

A baseball writer has some thoughts about Dale Murphy for the HOF.

A little light reading for all the "climate change" and "global warming" nuts. And a prominent politician doesn't toe the "politically correct" line. Good for him.

I love the whole "houndstooth" thing at 'Bama. Look at the gloves.

A pretty misogynistic and disgusting look at dating from one of those "pick up artist" types. But underneath all the disturbing and offensive rhetoric, is there perhaps a kernel of truth? I can probably pick out one horrific and life-wrecking moment from my past, and think that in hindsight, I should have taken the "Danger Will Robinson!" warning signs seriously. Sigh.

And along the same lines, Micheal K never fails to crack me up.

Where were these teachers when I was in school?

An NFL draftnik is a little surprised after doing an analysis of Matt Stafford.

Top 25 fictional ads in sci-fi.

Is this the first step in Skynet and the rise of the machines?

Good list of 14 disastrous revamps.

The flat-earthers take umbrage over a holiday greeting on a sci-fi blog.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Incest ahoy in Miami!

Holy uncomfortable sibling fondling -- Dexter Morgan has married his sister!

Okay, the characters Dexter and Debra Morgan haven't tied the knot. But the actors that play them, Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter, have.

I think I heard a while back that they were dating on the down low. And it didn't creep me out watching them interact as siblings on the the show. But now that they're out in the open about it (obvs, being married), will it change how you look at Dex and Deb? Of course, that's assuming you weren't already creeped out by Deb's neverending and colorful stream of expletives, and Dex's, you know, serial killing. (Both of which I found utterly charming, BTW). Speaking of creeped out, I recently rewatched The Exorcism of Emily Rose, where Carpenter played a girl possessed by the devil, and she was totally freaky and disturbing in that (in a good performance way). Perhaps Tim Tebow should have laid hands on her and cast out the demons.

Anyhoo, congrats to the newlyweds. We're all looking forward to the fourth season, provided they don't dwell on the potential new addition to the Morgan family, as so artfully described by Deb: "A baby? A motherfucking roly-poly chubby-cheek shit-machine; Are you kidding me?"

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Conference pride? Or white hot enmity?

Well, the day is here for the mythical national championship game. And the age old question returns: do you want a bitter conference rival to win, for "conference pride?" Or does your hatred for them run so deep that you don't care about conference bragging rights, and just want to see the object of your antipathy ground into a fine paste?

My team is out of the equation, so why should I care, really? Maybe the whole "conference" issue is more of a southern thang, but I do believe it has taken on more prominence in recent years, with the rise of the blogosphere, ESPN's endless touting of conference bowl records and the epic FAILs of certain conferences on the big stage. And I've always had mixed feelings about it. Of course I think the best football in the country is played in the SEC. I pulled for LSU to win last year's MNC game. Despite the fact that Nick Saban is a huge asshat, I would have been actively pulling for 'Bama to win against Oklahoma tonight (should they have beaten the Jorts in the SECCG). I pulled for all the SEC teams in their bowl games, even the Chickens. (A total conference support record was probably aided by the fact that UT - number one on my shit list -- didn't go bowling this year). But this last game is challenging my conference loyalty.

I have nothing against Oklahoma, and I despise Florida with every fiber of my being. I hate no coach past or present (and yes, that includes Spurrier) the way I do the smug, sanctimonious Urban Meyer. And there is no player I loathe more than the over-hyped, holier-than-thou Tim Tebow.

So what to do while relaxing with a fine, potent beverage tonight watching the game? At the end of the day, seething hatred probably overcomes SEC chest-beating, and I will be pulling for the Sooners to completely dismantle the despised Jorts. (Sadly, my head tells me those rooting interests will be in vain).

Monday, January 5, 2009

Marla Singer is one thing, a monkey is another

How hot does someone have to be for you to suffer through their movie? We all have our "celebrity crushes" or "Top 5" lists. (And of course, being the OCD that I am, TNRLM has an actual "list" on the CrackBerry, albeit one much longer, and probably more obscure, than 5). And it's a wonderful thing when your chosen hotties appear in high quality and/or entertaining flicks. That way, you can indulge your crush and see them on the silver (or small) screen, all while appreciating the surrounding flick as a work of art. For example, I've always had a crush on Diane Keaton. And it certainly doesn't "hurt" when I watch The Godfather or Annie Hall, because those are all-time pantheon movies. Or for a relatively more contemporary reference, Carrie Anne Moss is hot. And The Matrix is a modern sci-fi classic. No problem watching that. But what kind of crap will you put up with just to see a crush for 90 minutes or so?

I thought about this last night while I was flipping channels, and got caught up watching two different movies, featuring list designates) that really pushed the limits of my quality movie watching endurance. First up was Doomsday, starring Rhona Mitra. Now granted, I have a lower quality threshold for genre flicks. This was a Mad Max meets 28 Days Later mashup, with a dash of cannibalism thrown in for good measure, that featured lots of groan-inducing dialogue and people with mohawks. But Rhona? HOT. But that was nothing compared to what was on another channel, schlock-meister Uwe Boll's adaptation of the videogame BloodRayne. Sure, it sounds like it might offer some passable entertainment: Kristanna Loken as a half-human, half-vampire seeking vengeance on a vampire king played by Oscar winner Sir Ben Kingsley. Okay, "passable" might be stretching it, but how bad could it be? Turns out, downright shitastic. Quite possibly one of the worst movies I've ever seen. But I flipped back and forth between the two until the gory end of both. Glutton for punishment? Bored and horny? Too many glasses of wine? Nothing else on? Perhaps all the above. However, Rhona and Kristanna were on "the list," so I watched.

Now, I wouldn't have rushed to the theatre and plopped down $10 for the privilege of watching these cinematic disasters, but when you have hundreds of channels at your disposal, and you're all caught up on your TiVo, was it really that bad? (And obviously, we're wading into the shallow end of the pool here. There's nothing wrong with Angelina in Gia or Girl Interruped, or Kate Winslet in just about anything, from a quality movie perspective). Surely there's some underlying formula to this madness. So I thought about it, and came up with the "Hottie/Movie Quality Quadrant Analysis." If you rate both the hotness of your celebrity crush (in purely subjective terms) and the quality of the movie on scales of 1 - 10, and put it on a standard four quadrant grid, you can see more of what I'm talking about:

Green means that you're dealing with a total celebrity crush in a top flight movie, and you can watch (and even purchase the DVD) and feel good about it.
Yellow means proceed with caution. Either the movie is an all time classic (and/or expertly executed piece of cinema), OR you're dealing with someone you find on the upper tier of your hotness scale. The hotter the hottie, the more you're willing to put up with.
Red means that you might have a great movie on your hands, with no hotness present (think The Shawshank Redemption or 2001: A Space Odyssey), OR that someone is pegging the top range of the hottie-meter and you just might suffer through a movie that appears to be similar in quality to something you shot in your backyard with a Super 8 camera when you were 12, though probably without the tall busty bisexual in tight leather and fangs. (The above-mentioned BloodRayne would fall in this category, of course. Plotted on the graph as 9 and 0.25. I think you can figure out the axes).

So, using some of TNRLM examples:
  • Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation or Vicky Christina Barcelona? Definitely Green. ScarJo in The Island? Red to Yellow (probably orange).
  • Helena Bonham Carter in Wings of the Dove or Fight Club? Great movies. And I think I want to marry Marla Singer. Helena Bonham Carter in monkey makeup for Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes remake? A challenge.
  • Grace Kelly in Hitchcock movies? Total green all the way.
  • Kate Beckinsale in the Underworld movies? Her hotness definitely makes up for the schlockiness. A razor sharp bob and black leather can overcome a lot of bad special effects and wooden scripting. Same with Angelina Jolie in the otherwise terrible Lara Croft films.
  • Carla Gugino in everything. Being number 1 in the TNRLM list, I will watch her in anything, though I'd prefer it be something like Watchmen or Sin City, rather than Rise (but yeah, I watched that too).
  • On the other side of the coin, I never got the "hot appeal" of Katherine Hepburn, though she's admittedly an absolutely terrific actress. So she was elevated by The Philadelphia Story, for example.
  • Or Katherine Heigl. From everything I read about her, I find her particularly annoying (though she does smoke, which is good). And I loathe Grey's Anatomy. But I actually found myself watching parts of 27 Dresses the other day, because yes, she's hot (and also because it featured the delectable Judy Greer).
  • God knows how many by the numbers boring thrillers I sat through featuring Ashley Judd. But yeppers, I watched 'em. Though it was much better to enjoy her, and a great movie, in Heat.
So what about you? How far will you go with your movie watching to indulge your celebrity crushes? What's the worst flick you've watched featuring a "lister?" Surely some female readers have suffered through much of the Keanu Reeves oeuvre just to see their boy? Or some other less than stellar flicks to see Clooney, Pitt, Cusack, Damon, Denzel or another object of affection?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

"Do I look like a ditchable prom date to you?"

That line is from a Season 3 episode of Supernatural ("No Rest for the Wicked"), spoken by the character below:

I'm okay with Bobby, who is one of my favorite characters from the show. In fact, I have a nice track record on the "who are you" TV quizzes:

Find out Which Lost Character Are You at!

Doctor Gaius Baltar

You are "Doctor Gaius Baltar".
Often paranoid and feel that your peers misunderstand you.
Are extremely intelligent, but can't handle power well.
You get into relationships which you are unsure about
and show emotion too much.

Apparently, I'm kinda smart, kinda loyal, kinda star-crossed, kinda haunted and probably crazy. And might bring about the end of the world.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I'll take potpourri for $4,400, Alex

Today's roundup is especially list-heavy, given all the year end compiling and judgments. Enjoy.

A list of the Top 15 anticipated TV events for 2009. Here's another anticipatory list from Kristin at E! And because you're dying to know what I think, here's TNRLM's list (in reverse order):
  • American Idol (Top 12 Only. And please new judge, be cutting, cogent and coherent, and minimize the time devoted to "personal stories" and Randy and Paula)
  • Reaper
  • Big Love
  • Goldblum on L&O:CI (nice to see one of the critics above give a shout out to the little watched, but compelling, Raines)
  • Lie To Me
  • 24
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Lost
  • Dollhouse
Who? The new Doctor will be revealed sometime today. Some interesting choices there, but you can't argue with the perfect casting for the last two. Whoever it is, they will have some big shoes to fill, as Tennant has been spectacular. I haven't heard his name much until this article, but the spellcheck-crippling (and mucho talented) Chiwetel Ejiofor would be an inspired selection.

This makes a lot of sense
, and why should 16% of the population continually be ignored?

Alan Sepinwall has a great interview with Ron Moore about the last part of BSG. Of particular note is his "checklist of question." And Mo Ryan has some thoughts on the next episode as well. I'm a reformed spoiler whore. I used to scour message boards and articles to find out everything I could about a show before it aired. Now? For the "major" shows (like Lost and BSG) where the surprise of the narrative is important, I try to stay as spoiler-free as possible.

Devin at CHUD is doing a very thorough and funny trek through all the original episodes and movies of Star Trek featuring the OG cast.

Speaking Trek, who knew there was Trek porn?

10 New Year's Resolutions for geeks.

I spent an inordinate amount of time going through these next 2 lists, watching video clips. It's a fascinating read. Den of Geek has assembled the Top 50 Movie Special Effects and the Top 24 Worst Movie Special Effects.

Another good cliptacular article; io9's Top 20 TV moments.

Oh fuck. Is XM Sirius in trouble next year? That would be horrific for my listening enjoyment.

Is Twitter better than SMS? Personally, I prefer SMS for "communicating" and Twitter for microblogging (when you SMS, you have to enter fewer address characters, at least on the CrackBerry, to send a message. And not all of my regular peeps are on Twitter).

A review of the Dr. Horrible DVD. (BTW, my favorite Evil League of Evil application was from Tur Moyel).

More listacular goodness -- counts down the Top 100 of everything, along with several other good listy recaps.

Pop Candy's Top 10 TV of the year.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A "Horrible" start to the new year

I recently received the hot off the press Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog DVD, and watched it through three separate times the past couple of days. First, just to savor the whole thing on a regular TV screen (I had previously watched it streaming on my PC, in iTunes and then again on my iPod). Then, I watched the DVD with the cast and crew (talking) commentary. Finally, I watched it with "Commentary: The Musical!" turned on. In case you didn't know, this is an episode "commentary" where the cast and crew sing all new songs, addressing such subjects as why Nathan is better than Neil in ever way, the writers' strike, why nobody wants to be "Moist" and Felicia's acting "process."

For fans, this thing is a total treat. Even if you've already seen Dr. Horrible (which made an incredible number of year end "10 best" lists), you really need to pick up the DVD. In addition to the program itself and the commentaries, you'll find a making-of program and several very funny fan applications for the Evil League of Evil.

Dr. Horrible Site can be found here, with links to iTunes (for the original) and Amazon (for the DVD).

They still haven't published the lyrics for "Commentary! The Musical" on the official site yet, but I did find where someone online had done a great job of transcribing them. I put them in a google docs document here.

Make a resolution to start your new year Horribly!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

TNRLM's Best of Television 2008

In many ways, 2008 was a down year for television, with the strike disrupting or derailing the continuity of the programming schedule, and "reality" TV continuing its plague-like spread across the airwaves. Yet amidst the chaos, several shows stood out above the rest, and here is the TNRLM Top 10:

(Quick note: two shows that appear on virtually every Top 10 list this year are The Shield and The Wire. For whatever reasons, I never got into either of them, and can't accurately assess their quality. Perhaps that will be a summer DVD Project).

  1. Lost. Now that Team Darlton have a confirmed end in site, the show ratcheted up the pace and responded with a stellar season light on the filler and heavy on the drama. The "flash forwards" added a thought-provoking new dimension to the narrative, and the new characters (Faraday, Charlotte, Miles, Lapidus) were all fascinating, well acted and spot on. Plus, Lost gave us the single best hour of television this year with "The Constant."
  2. Battlestar Galactica. The sci-fi show for people who don't like sci-fi shows. This gritty, mesmerizing drama features the finest ensemble cast on the tube, and despite being set in a world with robots, spaceships and prophecies, always retains its focus on what matters: the characters.
  3. Mad Men. Season 2 refused to push the "action" forward at a breakneck pace, instead languorously taking us through the existential crisis of adman Don Draper, and we were all the better for it. Like Lost and BSG, Mad Men offers a cast with depth and talent to burn, and the stories that didn't focus on Don (Peggy's growth, Pete's realizations, Duck's machinations, Roger's divorce) were just as fascinating.
  4. The Middleman. This (sadly) little watched gem on ABC Family pulled off the most difficult high-wire act of the year, straddling the line between cult and camp with a verve, wit and energy I can't recall seeing before. The laugh out loud scripts and wordplay were matched only by the precisely calibrated and endearing performances. "Mutual of Omaha!" "I’m as serious as a hefty bag full of rottweilers " when I say I will buy this baby on DVD the second it comes out.
  5. Pushing Daisies. Thanks to my relocation, I missed the boat on this one when it first started, but I quickly caught up and found this quirk-filled beauty a total delight. I was also in love with Bryan Fuller's other fantastical show, Wonderfalls, and Pushing Daisies upped the ante on that show in every conceivable way. The central premise is intriguing enough (a piemaker who can raise the dead, and solves crimes with his just resurrected longtime love and a caustically sarcastic PI), but you compound that with candy-acid set design and cinematography, Emmy-worthy performances, musical interludes and a rich mythos, and you have something truly unique. Despite their radically different settings and concepts, one thing the top 5 shows here all have in common is their uncompromising and brilliant scripting.
  6. Chuck. Once you get past the fact that everyone seems to be connected to some espionage organization, you can just sit back and enjoy the easy charms of this action-spy-comedy. The antics at the Buy More are just as entertaining as the main plots that drive the action, and the Chuck / Sara romance takes what could be a cliche and finds equal parts humor and pathos. Plus, any show that saves the world by getting high score on a Missile Command arcade machine is okay in my book.
  7. In Treatment. HBO's novel experiment - a five night a week, 30 minute drama, with each episode being one session between a shrink and one of his patients -- delivered the goods with claustrophobic and searing performances. All of the sessions were involving and dramatic, but the ones with damaged gymnast Mia Wasikowska were riveting.
  8. CBS Monday Comedy. Okay, I'm cheating here (and on the next one) by combining two shows into one entry. But the one-two punch of How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory is a treat on a night crammed with eminently watchable TV. HIMYM continued being one of the best under the radar classic sitcoms ever, and the fractured narratives and pop culture concepts (like "the naked man") never fail to amuse. Season 2 of Big Bang sanded off some of the rough edges, and made all the characters engaging and involved. Now we can laugh with them, instead of at them.
  9. NBC Thursday Comedy. Despite an overreliance on guest stars, 30 Rock easily produces the highest laugh / minute ratio of any show on TV. Liz Lemon is a dysfunctional Mary Richards for the modern era, and Alec Baldwin's Jack Donaghy is an inspired comic creation. The Office ventured away from some of the unbelievably stupid (like following a GPS into a lake) antics and found its groove again with Micheal's relationship with the dorktastic Holly.
  10. Burn Notice. This burned spy caper show is an easygoing marvel of efficiency. The plots hum along, giving viewers lots of little "how to" insights into the world of spycraft, all while providing a healthy dose of sex appeal, action beats, humor, yogurt and geek deity Bruce Campbell.

Honorable Mention (in no particular order):
  • Supernatural. I'm not sure why I didn't latch on to this show when it started, but I just spent the xmas break devouring the first 3 season on DVD, and catching up on TiVo'd season 4. A worthy successor to the Buffy/Angel/X-Files tradition of character-based drama, scares and laughs.
  • Law & Order (original recipe). The new cast is the best since the glory years.
  • House. House and Wilson are as great as ever, but I don't care about Cuddy's baby (showrunners: please stop adding kids to shows. I tune out. Thanks. TNRLM). And as hot as Olivia Wilde is, I don't care that much about Thirteen. Or Foreman.
  • Life on Mars. Intriguing and entertaining. Worth watching for Michael Imperioli's mustache.
  • Dexter. Micheal C. Hall is certainly Emmy-worthy (as always), Jimmy Smits was a live-wire foil for the year and Deb is still delightfully profane. But see House above: please stop adding babies.
  • The Closer. A by the numbers procedural, anchored by an electric central performance and a talented supporting cast.
  • Fringe. Could have easily made it into the Top 10 with a greater sample. Many don't like Anna Torv's Olivia, but I think her stoic performance is right in line with the character (plus, we got to see her lighter side late in the season when she was doing shots). Walter Bishop is the best new character on TV, and his son Peter is delightful snarky.
  • Eli Stone. I want to dislike this because of the religiosity and consistently preachy lefty politics, but I can't. It's too well crafted.
  • True Blood. It took a while to find its footing, but this deep south vampire show showed considerable promise.
  • The Mentalist. TV's highest rated new drama was yet another procedural, but one with a charming and star-making performance from lead Simon Baker.
  • Torchwood. Upped the body count this year, and just as kooky, sexy and entertaining as year one.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I'm getting a little tired of the terminator of the week being sent back in time, but the central mysteries, dramatic performances and character conflicts keep me coming back eagerly.
  • Bones. A modern Moonlighting for the cadaver set, without the lead actor antipathy. Charisma to burn, and the addition of Sweets was a smart move (and goes a long way to make up for the Zack debacle).