Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I'll take potpourri for $7,100, Alex

Time for a linky roundup, y'all.

Great piece about the trailers for the new Star Wars games. I'm not much of a gamer today, but I would certainly watch a film or show developed by the people behind the creation of these trailers and games (and really, watch 'em in HD/Widescreen).

In honor of World Cup coverage, the 10 Most Annoying Sounds. Two of my personal annoyances not on the list: children in any way, shape or form, and the sound from when someone rubs their fingers across a fold of paper. That last one happens all the time in office environments, and makes me cringe, then makes me stabby.

Anyone else get caught up watching the Buffy marathon of Top 30 Viewer's Choice Best Episodes on Sunday? I did. If you're curious, here's the whole list. Not bad choices, and I think there are still a LOT of Spike fans out there.

Speaking of the Buffster, here's where you can find Whedonverse writers on your tube.

And one more: someone else joins the cult (Unreality). It's also fun reading "new to me" writeups on the Buffyverse from Cultural Learnings, and the AV Club.

You tell 'em, Stephen.

22 Fictional Characters Whose Names You Don't Know
. (What does it say about me that I knew over half?)

What's a good foundation for law and government?
Dennis the Peasant: Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
Arthur: Be quiet!
Dennis the Peasant: You can't expect to wield supreme power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!
Neither is talking, flaming shrubbery.

Absolutely adorable video of new Doctor (Matt Smith) and Companion (Karen Gillan) interviewing each other.

Dawgs fans could have told Cowboys fans this type of thing was coming.

Good thing Lady Gaga didn't go see Dr. Gregory House, because it's NEVER that.

Please (insert deity here), make this happen.

I lost my passion for American Idol this season, and Simon leaving certainly won't help rekindle it next year. But #3 on this list might do the trick.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Summer TV

The "official" television season ended a couple of weeks ago, though a couple of series wrap up their runs tonight, FX's brilliant Justified and FOX's Glee.

And that brings us to the fluffy "summer season." In the past, the major broadcast networks virtually abandoned the summer, airing reruns and reality excrement, while the cable nets used this as an opportunity to gain a foothold with original programming. That hasn't changed dramatically, although a few of the big guys are trotting out scripted series.

Here are a few shows I'll be checking out this summer:

Lie To Me. This kicked off last night with a terrific episode, showcasing Veronica Mars star Jason Dohring as a psychopath matching wits with Tim Roth's Cal Lightman.

The Good Guys. 80's (or 70s?) cop show throwback, from the creator of Burn Notice, and starring Bradley Whitford's mustache.

Persons Unknown. Added it to the DVR last night, knowing virtually nothing about it, other than it comes from the writer of the Usual Suspects.

Weeds. The show went off the rails a few seasons ago, but Kevin Nealon, and particularly Justin Kirk, are hilarious, and Mary Louise Parker is hot.

Warehouse 13. What a delightful surprise this was last season. Kind of a mashup of the X-Files and the old Friday the 13th television series, this follows a pair of government agents who track down mystical artifacts. The cast has great chemistry, and the show is a lot of fun.

White Collar. The master plot got a little muddled during its first season, but the show is perfectly representative of USA's strategy: engaging, character-driven popcorn.

Covert Affairs. Another USA entry, with Piper Perabo as a entry level spy. Maybe it's like a high-calorie La Femme Nikita?

Rescue Me. I've stuck with Rescue Me through thick and thin, and last year it seemed to rebound after threatening to bottom out like FX's other one-time showcase, Nip/Tuck. Please bring the funny, 62 Truck .

Happy Town. The first few eps were confusing, incoherent and aiming for a quirky tone it didn't quite hit, and this is just a series burn-off at this point. But...Amy Acker.

Psych. The very definition of summer cotton-candy fare.

Futurama. Hells Yeah! Back from the grave, and returning to Comedy Central with all new episodes!

Burn Notice. Another show where the master plots kind of lost their way.

Doctor Who. Not exactly a summer series, since we're midway through the first season of Matt Smith's Doctor. But the show seems more tightly arc-ed with Stephen Moffat running things, and Karen Gillan's Amy Pond is already my favorite companion.

Being Human. This BBCA offering is about a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost living in a flat in England. Not quite to Buffy, or even Supernatural, levels, but quite engaging.

Scoundrels. The first of ABC's summer series airing on Sundays (which is suddenly a crowded night for original scripted programming), it seems like Desperate Housewives with criminals. And....Virginia Madsen!

The Gates. The second of ABC's summer series airing on Sundays, it seems like Desperate Housewives with vampires. And....Rhona Mitra!

True Blood. I think we already know how I feel about this one.

Hung. This never got the buzz of some of HBO's other offerings, despite being about a newbie male escort with a huge schlong, but it was well done, and a bleakly funny and melancholy look at desperation, loneliness and the economic downturn. (sounds like fun, huh?) And I love Jane Adams.

Entourage. At this point, I'm not even sure why I still watch. I really don't like any of the characters, and the limited plot variations seem completely played out.

Leverage. Ocean's 11 style capers on the small screen every week, carried out by an engaging cast. Seems like this should be on USA, but it's definitely worth a watch. Lots of fun, and one of the many, many shows featuring Mark Sheppard as a recurring character (which is a good thing).

Memphis Beat. Another TNT show, this one with Jason Lee as an Elvis-impersonating cop. That alone merits checking out the pilot.

Haven. Syfy show, based on a Stephen King story, that sounds a lot like a supernatural Eureka.

Eureka. Speaking of which, this charming Syfy show returns for its 4th season.

Mad Men. The Best Show on TV comes back for its 4th season also. Here's hoping for less Betty Draper, and more lawnmowers in the ad agency. And who doesn't love Roger Sterling? And...Christina Hendricks.

Monday, June 7, 2010

10 Things That Make Me Happy

Tag! I'm it!

Yesterday, one of my "virtual friends" that I know from twitter (@LaJollaJennifer) and blogdom (The World According to Jennifer) tagged me with a list meme. The list to be generated was "10 Things That Make Me Happy." (You can see Jennifer's list here).

This is probably not an opportune time to try to conjure such a list, as I just came off of 4 days of soul-crushing moving, mass chaos, uncooperative vendors, backbreaking labor, technical snafus, automotive failure and staggering bills related to all the former. Not to mention complicated work "opportunities" piling up like horny moms outside a midnight showing of a Twilight movie. Plus, even without an avalanche of clusterfucks rolling downhill, and given my caustic, cynical nature, I really don't know that there are 10 total things that make me happy. (Can I just list all the episodes of Firefly and call it a day?)

Still, I can hardly resist a chance to make a list, so here's my take:

1. The Kids. No, not the mewling, squawling, shitting, writing-on-the-walls-in-crayon, bank-draining burdens that haunt you for two-plus decades. These kids:

2. Whiskey. Need I say more?

3. Coffee. And cigarettes. Honest to Thor, the best single part of every day, no matter my location, situation or emotional state, is waking up to a big-ass pot of freshly brewed coffee and enjoying a smoky treat while firing up google reader and catching up on the news and ephemera of the day.

4. Television. When I was a kid, I looked forward to TV Guide's Fall Preview Issue like other kids looked forward to the Sears Wishbook. I've always loved TV. One of my true regrets in life is that I didn't take my degree in Journalism (with a double minor in English and Drama) from one of the finest purveyors of such teachings in the country (and home of the Peabody) and turn it into a career in TV writing behind the camera, as a screenwriter, or on the other side of the tube, as a television critic. Songs are short bursts of emotion. Movies are a two hour story, over almost before they begin. Books are leisurely narratives that can be picked up and put down. At its best, TV is a medium that totally envelops you in a rich tapestry of a world, filled with interesting and ever changing characters, has a driving and evolving narrative, enriches most of the senses (with moving scores, provocative images, crisp dialogue, etc) and keeps you there for hours and hours upon end. TV is my deity, and I am its disciple.

5. HD. Given my #4, I can't believe I waited as long as I did to make the switch. Partly, it was my brand loyalty to TiVo, but once you get it, you can't fathom that you ever lived without it.

6. My BlackBerry. Although I'm eagerly anticipating getting a new model (I watched a 16 minute Japanese language sneak peek of the 9800 this weekend on some Asian YouTube equivalent, like it was illicit porn), the thought of being without my Berry for even a few minutes gives me the shakes. Everything I need to know, and everything I could want to know, is right there in the palm of my hand. Real keys to type on and perfect synchronization with multiple computers across multiple platforms and in the cloud, it's really the perfect device for me. How the fuck did we live before them?

7. My DVR. Also related to #4 and #5, this is probably the most life-changing and fulfilling device ever invented (short of the computer and the internet. And the wheel. And maybe fire). Watch what you want, when you want, and never miss a thing (unless you have a Comcast version, and it consistently jackhammers you like a prison rapist with its incompetence).

8. French Fries. Short. Long. Thin. Thick. Crinkle. Wedge. Waffle. Steak. Drizzled with cheese. Dipped in ketchup. Covered in salt. Topped with chili and bacon. I have yet to meet a fry I don't love.

9. Organization. Both my parents were OCD, and it must be both genetic and learned, because I always remembered the parental mantra "everything has a place, and everything in its place." Though this past few days was filled with unspeakable chaos and horror, there was no better feeling than settling down Sunday night knowing that every single item in my home had found its way to a logical resting place, properly identified, organized and labeled. I never would have survived this long without having a nervous breakdown if I wasn't a compulsive list-maker and organizer, and almost nothing makes me happier than knowing where everything is, what's going on, and that it's all under control. I've had some people wonder if this type of personality disorder is confining, and I couldn't disagree more. Once you commit to it, it's actually freeing and liberating, because you never have to worry about the little things - you can free your mind up for flights of fancy and bouts of intellectual spontaneity. I've never missed a bill. I've never lost a wallet or keys (or really, anything). I've never looked for something that I couldn't find. I've never run out of any household staples, nor had to make unscheduled trips to the store. Never wanted to wear something that wasn't washed and hung in its place or not yet picked up from the dry cleaner. File folders, labels, sharpies, color coding, spreadsheets, lists, containers, notes, plastic containers....these are the brushes with which I create OCD art.

10. The Dawgs. Hey, we're less than 90 days away. What else would I say?

Jeez, reading back over this list, you would think I'm some kind of neurotic whackjob, sitting around alone with his cats all the time drinking, smoking, list-making, surfing the intertubes and watching TV. Oh....wait.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Aiiiight, here's the deal, bitches.

True Blood is returning soon, and I, for one, can't wait.

Now, would I call True Blood a great show? No, not at all. The writing is all over the place, some of the performances miss the mark, the metaphors are about as subtle as a frying pan to the face, and the tone is wildly inconsistent. But ya know what? The show is damned FUN. Southern Gothic trappings, deep fried 'til crispy. Enough sex appeal to satisfy every inclination under (or out of) the sun. Melodrama, cheese and over the top outrageousness played like it was opening night at the Royal Shakespeare Company manned by all the drunken understudies. And one of the best theme songs / opening credits in the business. Oh, and vampires. And werewolves. And shapeshifters. And faeries. And the brilliant, dim-bulb wisdom of Jason Stackhouse.

If you've forgotten what's been going on in Bon Temps, here's a little reminder, narrated by everyone's favorite flamboyant fry cook, Lafayette: