Monday, September 21, 2009
One is left wondering her age, and lets face it, she can be anything from 20 – 45…but she is SIXTEEN! Yet she seems to have more balls in her voice than Bono, and more purr in her performance than Patti Smith! She was 7th among the finalists…poor girl, yet she is a winner in our books. As for the videos – straight to the Dept. of Awesome, right?!
The final curtain (singing her swan song after having been nominated to leave the academy)
Nav (to a lesser to extent) & Laiona (Nav is embarrassed)
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I am very sad to report that there is a three way tie in the CeDeLiGa race, with the death of Ted Kennedy. Roger astutely added the cancer patient to his list at the start of the year and it paid off. Although just last week Roger did say that he would rather lose this CeDeLiGa point than lose Kennedy's vote in the senate with the healthcare reform bill in the balance. Ever the political scientist.
I must say I shed some tears this morning for good 'ol Teddy. It is the end of an era.
Well, to the business at hand...the CeDeLiGa standings are as follows: Me - 1 point for Bea Arthur, Jster - 1 point for Ed McMahon and Roger - 1 point for Ted Kennedy. This is the closest race in CeDeLiGa history and with more cancer patients, overweight diabetics, drug addicts and octogenariens remaining on peoples lists it is only going to get more exciting! Stay tuned!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
It is actually one of my favorite songs ever...
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Driving around today we listened to an old Fresh Air podcast (convicted NPR nerd. Sue me) that had an interview about the evils and frailties of concert tickets, scalping and the heinous duopoly Ticketmaster / Live Nation. Not much that I didn't know about, but the piece was really good, putting the bits and pieces together to show a compelling picture of general assholiness by evil corporations and devious scalpers.
We know how it goes. Hot act has a concert, and sets prices for a venue. Ticketmaster has the tickets, adds outrageous fees and you buy them. The fees are high because they are a de facto monopoly; no one else sells tickets for the new hot band, so you can bitch and moan all you want, they will crush you anyway with an iron fist. On top of that, you have the pack of scalpers getting in and reselling for outrageous prices, making a killing because the shitty Ticketmaster servers crashed on you.
I am not going to waste much time on Ticketmaster; it is pretty obvious by now that they are an evil, despicable corporation that is making a mockery of antitrust laws. If you give a shit about music, call your Senator and Congressman and ask them to go nuts on them as soon as they can. I bet Obama will love to crush that evil corp. I will focus more on the scalpers, and how they are not actually a bad thing - in fact, they are a sign that the artist is a moron.
The problem, however, is that we are not using the correct pricing model for concert tickets - the model is just broken. Bear with me, but it is all a matter of economics: a concert is an event that has a supply of tickets, and a certain level of demand. The supply is fixed (the size of the venue), the demand depends on the price. Each person is willing to spend a certain amount of money to go to a concert; I would go to see Daughtry for free, I would pay real money for first row tickets for Radiohead, and you would have to pay me a heft sum if you want me to go to a Nickelback concert.
When a band is popular, this means you have a good amount of people willing to pay for the seats; probably more that the amount available. If the price is low, pretty much every fan will accept it and try to get in - you will have unmet demand (people with no tickets) that will be willing to pay an extra to get in. Here is when you have scalpers: when the face value of the tickets is too low. The opposite can also happen, as the empty seats in Yankee Stadium this season show; no one wants to buy seats, so you can get to see the Yankees paying less than face value to some idiot that tried to make a killing in the secondary ("second hand") market.
If prices are too low, the artist is leaving money on the table, and some random dude is reselling tickets and making money on their backs. Not too fair. How we can make the ticket system better? One simple idea: auctions.
Let the fans bid for the tickets - simple as that. Have a three to five day window open where you can call your price in a bling auction; if the venue has 3,000 seats, the 3,000 top bids get tickets, paying whatever they called. Seats are assigned from top to bottom; those who paid the most get the best seats, and then we go down from there. Big artists would make a killing; smaller ones would be able to fill smaller venues with certain ease, as mildly interested people would be able to call a low price. If the venue needs a certain revenue, you can add reserve prices (minimum bids). And if you feel like a cool dude, you can always set aside a limited amount of tickets at a low price, to be assigned by lottery, and requiring to show ID to get in to avoid scalping.
This way the artists would get more money, venues will be easier to fill and scalpers would be deeply, deeply screwed, as people will be able to offer the outrageous prices themselves. If you want to further piss them off, have a last minute batch of tickets for auction right before the concert, to make sure that the artist can always get the money.
Would this leave the fans screaming that the artist sold out? Yes, no doubt. So what? Musicians need money. They deserve it. They don't see much from CD sales (yay for rampant piracy and evil labels), so they should milk their wealthy fans if they can. This model, in addition, will be great for cult bands with a rabid fanbase; the crazier your followers, the more they will pay for your tickets.
Still, to make this work, we first need to kill, maim and mutilate Ticketmaster and their iron grip on live music. Call your politicians and yell at them. It is higly satisfying.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Well at least SYTYCD dominated in the Best Choreography category, nabbing 4 out of 6 nominations. For those of you who are unfamilier with the show I have posted below the nominees. For those of you who are super fans of the show like me, enjoy once more. BTW, Bleeding Love with Chelsea (now on DWTS) and Mark is my fave because Mark was the love of my life last season. Although Mercy is AMaaaazing.
Tabitha & Napolean: Bleeding Love with Chelsea & Mark
Mia Micheals: Mercy with Katie & Twitch
Tyce Diorio: Adam & Eve with Jessica & Will
Dmitry Chaplin (former cast member): A Los Amigos with Chelsea & Joshua (the winner last season)
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The movie, in my opinion, is the best Potter movie yet. Adaptation-wise, there were definite ommisions (some good, some bad) and additions (most of which were good), but for three distinct reasons the movie worked:
CAST/ACTING: The three leads (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) have all grown leaps and bounds as actors. They are so much more natural and you can see their natural comraderie that only comes from working with one another for years. The supporting cast is amazing as always. The new addition of Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn was perfection.
HUMOR: This is by far the funniest of the Potter flicks. If I am not mistaken, some of the cheeky lines that got the biggest laughs were not even from the books. The screenwriters should be commended. Slughorn and Luna have some of the juciest comic bits, but teenagers in love/lust are funny enough on their own.
MATERIAL: After rereading the last couple books, although I have strong feelings for Goblet of Fire, Half Blood Prince is the best of the series. It strikes a wonderful balance of mystery, humor, dread, hormones and sadness.
If you aren't a dorky-ass Potter fan I really think you will still enjoy this movie. I think I will be giving it a repeat viewing in the theater myself. If anything, this movie has gotten me out of my Twilight stupor. Go Potter!!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I am a political junkie. Guilty as charged. Better get out of the way if you don´t like it on social occasions, and avoid leaving any opening for me to start blabbering about legislation.
There is a way to mix and match those two strands of my brain, however: the documentaries. I love them. I don´t care about those about African monkeys, killer bugs and crap like that, but I adore those that involve policy or politics. I loved "The Fog of War" (and know that Robert McNamara is dead, it is worth revisiting), I adored "Boogie Man" (if you know who Lee Atwater is, you will understand why) and I was enthralled with "The Smartest Guys in the Room" (Enron, remember?). They are fun. I love them. They teach you cool stuff.
Sometimes, though, you see a documentary that it is not just fun. It is important. Al Gore made one not long ago; now in theaters there is another of its kind, and you must go see it right now: "Food Inc.". "Super Size Me" might have changed the way you looked at burgers, but this one is going to make you change how you think about food completely, and I mean it.
I don´t want to get too much into detail (this is not my policy blog, after all; go gorge yourself with my wonkery here), but the idea is that the food that we eat is bad. Not bad as we make bad choices and don´t eat veggies; it is more about eating meat that is basically produced in the worst possible farms you can imagine, vegetables that are controlled by giant corporations, and all subsidized by a farm policy that ends up being welfare for rich companies and help for the worst possible food.
Seriously, go see this movie. It is not just fun or interesting. It will make you see things a complete different way by shedding light to a whole bunch of issues that you didn´t even know they existed. I mean it.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Billy Mays was awesome. He is the only human being that is allowed to speak in Caps Lock ALL THE TIME EVEN WHEN HE IS ORDERING FOOD AND/OR HAVING SEX WITH HIS WIFE:
Actually, the though of Billy Mays having sex with his wife while selling HIS BIG UNIQUE DICK AND WAIT THERE IS MORE in Billy-Mays-speak is highly disturbing, and I wish I hadn´t put it in your brain. Sorry.
I just did.
Jokes aside, Mays was actually a really impressive individual. He started pitching junk in Atlantic City, and impressed the owner of a little known cleaning product (OxiClean) enough that he decided to put him on TV. He made the brand, and it hasn´t been the only thing he build from the ground.
I really don´t know how he did it (I think his voice is hypnotic, in a bizarro, I am blasting you with the sonic equivalent of a ton of bricks kind of way), but he did sell his stuff. Death of salesman indeed.
Friday, June 26, 2009
They have a ton of good songs in this game, but they are missing something. They are missing the holy grail of music games, the band to rule them all. No, it is not Led Zeppelin, you idiots. The Beatles: Rock Band is coming this fall.
As you see from the (excellent) trailer, the game is a trip down the band's career. It looks sweeeeeet. Just in case we were wondering if the guys at Harmonix were going to nail the art design completely, they released recently the opening animation of the thing. And boy, does it look pretty. Check it out.
Anyhow...the Celebrity Death List Game is now a dead heat (pun abso-freaking-lutely intended): I have one point for Bea Arthur and my friend Jster in Cali got one for Ed McMahon. The funny thing is that she only picked one and gosh darn it - it hit!! She better get to picking her final two because if Dick Clark goes next she'll be sorry!!
As for this whole Michael Jackson death - I really think it is such a big deal because he truly is the first major death of an idol of the tech generation. Twitter and Perez were crashing when the news broke. I don't think that there will be another freak out like this until Madonna or Oprah goes. I don't feel upset about his passing but if he had died in the early 90s, before his weird ways got out of control, I probably would be sobbing. Don't Stop til You Get Enough is in my top five songs of all time.
The best thing that has come out of MJ passing is this video. Anderson Cooper interviewed Sheryl Crow last night and played this clip. I do not think I have EVER seen bigger hair. Enjoy.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Anyhow - to the point - this past week's episode was about origin stories and there was one I just had to share. It turns out that Peter Sagal (amazingly funny host of another NPR show, Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!) wrote the script that would later become....wait for it.....Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights.
Turns out Peter was commissioned by Lawrence Bender (producer of Pulp Fiction) to write a gritty script about politics in Cuba during the rise of Castro. Of course the wise powerful people in Hollywood asked him to tone it down and make it more like Dirty Dancing, which had just been a big hit at the time. He did his best but totally hated it and it ended up sitting on a shelf until the early 2000s when somebody decided to take it off the shelf, blow the thick layer of dust off of it and turn it into the gratuitous sequel of the best movie in the world.
I you have no clue who Peter Sagal is, I recommend listening to a few episodes of Wait Wait, then you will realize how absolutely amazing it is that he is responsible for that movie.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Now the fucker has to go be funny as well...I hate talented people.
When Plasticville gets posted on Hulu I will let you know, cause that is my new favorite.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Some movies are just sweet - and that´s it. You don´t need anything else; you just have to put two sweet, lonely people walking up and down a long New York City night and let them meet each other. Nick & Norak Infinite Playlist is one of those movies, and it is really a nice, sweet little gem.
We got it from Netflix about three months ago - one of these BluRays that get stuck in a shelf and never manages to make it to the PS3. It was one of those movies that we sorta wanted to watch when it came out, missed it, and got into it late; we didn´t remember that it really hadn´t reviewed all that well. You know what? The critics can suck it. Nick & Norah is a wonderful little movie; a cross between High Fidelity, Before Sunrise and Dazed and Confused for milenials.
Don´t be mistaken: it screams indie the way all corky indie comedies do. For some reason, it just fits the history perfectly; after all, it is about two teenagers born in the weird, odd world of the 2000 - a planet where we are all a bit lost in the shuffle, swamped by our little internet obsessions and infinite access to our little corner of choice in the pop culture universe. Pop culture references are a matter of identity, not random witty blurbs. Nick & Norah are just two lost, confused teenagers trying to find someone that has their slightly odd, warped, cute view of the world. It is the kind of movie that adores New York City, the place of a thousand of lost little cultures and magical touches.
I am not sure if is a movie for everyone. Maybe only geeks and ackward loners will see themselves in the movie. Still, I really, really, really loved it; it really feels like a small, bite sized chunk of how nerds would like to love at the turn of the century. A little marvel.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Yesterday we got to know that Eminem is actually a fairly good sport (if the whole Bruno thing was actually staged) and that the cutting-edge trendsetters that watch MTV (fucking tweeners) love the trashtastic Twilight series. The fact that they gave acting awards to the not exactly Shakesperian High School Musical 3 is just cute, really. Not that Zachie can´t be funny (he was pretty decent in SNL) but seriously, that is really reaching for the bottom of the barrel. It is not even "so bad is good" - HSM is just Philcollinesque is its sheer lameness.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
A few years ago, when I was young(er) and dumb(er), I remember asking my mother what was the big deal about the Beatles. They had a ton of famous songs, but they really did not sound all that much better than other bands. Catchy, yes, but nothing that no one else was doing. My poor mother might be not a pop culture junkie, but gave me the perfect answer: "you don´t know how dull music was before the Beatles came around".
The Beatles is only one example of band, movie, game or TV show that does not look all that impressive for the untrained eye, mainly because they have been so massively influential that they don´t look all that exceptional anymore.
For someone that did not had to slog across the dreadful movies of the eighties, "Pulp Fiction" is just another clever post modern artifact. Yeah, wicked script, clever writing, tons of witty quotes and cute time line gimmicks. As artifacts go, it is a very shinny one, but it is not that different. Of course, that misses the point that movies got a whole lot better after/because "Pulp Fiction", basically because they were shamelessly ripping it off. The movie was such a change of direction that it is easy to forget what it spawned.
We have this kind of movies across the decades, hidden in plain sight. "North by Northwest" is just another clever action thriller; of course, it just invented the whole idea. "Jaws" it is just another summer blockbuster - just the one that invented the concept. "Night of the Hunter" basically invented the psychokiller movie. Even "Citizen Kane" is only obviously great if you have watched some of the stilted wrecks that were typical of the era - movies that no one watches anymore.
The same goes for TV shows (and that´s why "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is awesome, kids), videogames ("Ocarina of Time", "Half Life", or even "Super Mario Bros"), music (Joy Division, for instance), comics (Watchmen) or even novels (Don Quixote, if I have to be a snob). Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but sometimes it has the side effect that it makes your work invisible - what you added to the art gets such a widespread use that it is easy to forget that you are the one that brought it to life.
And yes, "Buffy" is that kind of show. One hour drama with long arch plots, character focused episodes (no, Lost did not come up with that), irony, pop culture references galore and smarty-pants self awareness looks common now, but it wasn´t used all that often a few years ago. But that´s a discussion for another post, where we workship the Whedon as he deserves.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
I love radio contests. My friends always tell me that I am so lucky because I tend to win a good amount of radio contests, but I just tell them that it is just a matter of taking the time to enter everything. For example, last week I saw that kc101 was giving away chances to see Tinted Windows perform in the studio. I thought, "What the hell? I'll sign up for that" and guess what - I went to see them perform three acoustic songs on Wednesday. And it was awesome. You can't win if you don't play people.
By the way, in case you are wondering who Tinted Windows are: Singer - Taylor Hanson of Hanson, Guitarist - James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins, Bassist - Adam Schlessinger of Fountains of Wayne, Drummer - Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Yeah, vinyl. You know, the big black music thinguies from years past; that old analog contraptions that tried to do carry music using a sadistic looking, needle totting machine to scratch the thing into submission.
Well, in another dark, geeky corner of pop culture, we can find some cultists also venerating old pieces of apparently useless tech. People that enjoy using outdated relics that offer sub-par performance, annoying noises and basic, barebones, simplistic experiences. People that love old, basic hardware. Old videogames. Retro gamers.
I became a member of the cult awhile ago, when I misteriously obtained (cough - cough) a Sega Dreamcast. After much scouring the internets for games and scoring some old classics from Ebay, I must say that the thing has gotten quite a bit of play.
The Dreamcast, however, is not really that old. It came out in 1999, after all; it is barely older than the Playstation 2. Nintendo, however, came to the rescue, with what is probably the most evil ploy to make people spend money ever: the Wii Virtual Console, aka how to make me spend money in 25 year old pieces of code that look like ass on a HDTV, but we love playing anyway. I have given money to Konami way too many times to play Gradius, and that sucker is still fun.
The crown jewel on old relics, however, is my favourite Christmas gift ever: The Nintendo 64 that my wife got me this year. It is a cranky piece of hardware, and some games refuse to work. I really haven´t played that much with it. But it looks so good, under the TV, a tribute to all things fun and Mario that I just adore the thing. Same with the Dreamcast, really; more than the games, it is about owning a little piece of pop culture history - a piece that happens to be fun.
No, I won´t get into the "games back then were better". They were not. The Legend of Zelda on the NES is still fun, but it is a bit like watching a Battleship Potemkin - to appreciate what you are doing, you need to understand at least a bit what the game meant (Zelda is the original sandbox game, by the way; no Zelda, no Grand Theft Auto IV). Most games in some of the "transitional" generations (specially the clunky early 3D, Playstation, Saturn, N64 era) are downright klunky, and don´t have much to enjoy. The few exceptions (like Mario 64) are fun, but downright ugly; early 3D lacking the ultraminimalist charm of pixel art. Nostalgia has a lot to do with it.
In any case, old stuff has its charm. I like old stuff, specially the beeping interactive kind. Next time you see an old, forgotten videogame, remember that it is a little piece of history. 100 years from now, Contra and Bionic Commando (NES versions) will be treasured as we know treasure Harold Lloyd movies.
Total rip off. Shame on you IMAX.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Some people, however, are not talented. They are not fun. They are basically an annoyance, a waste of everybody's time, talentless hacks clinging to their 15 minutes with desperate energy and fearless abandon. They suddenly appear in the pop culture world, and they just stand there, hogging the limelight for a bit, until the public realize they suck and they get kicked out of the stage.
Talentless hacks usually try to develop elaborate mechanisms of survival. They like fame, so they try to stay famous, no matter what. The creativity of those antics varies wildly, going from the mildy amusing (getting into a reality show) to the pretty bold (celebrity sex tape) to the just plain disgusting (Screech sex tape). Some of the pathetic crappy losers even manage to become sorta acceptable if their desperate attempts reach the level of performance art - say celebrity meltdown or Joaquin Phoenix in Letterman.
Of all the tactics to stay in the spotlight, the most obnoxious of all is those pricks that go on and procreate. They get pregnant. The call their siblings. They multiply and populate the radio waves, filling hours of pop culture with repetitive inanity. They become, in other words, the fucking Osmonds, or even worse, a serial adopting agency & procreation factory nightmare named Angelina. They transform from being a single annoyance to a clan.
This is bad for two reasons. First, siblings tend to suck. If the first brother was no good, the siblings are not going to be better. If the mom or dad were talentless idiots, the descendants are only going to inflict more pain, to make us forget. Just look at the wise, wise, wise advice of Palin (mom) and the got-kid-preach-abstinance trainwreck that is her daughter. Second, babies are basically evil, and seriously, we don't care how yours looks like. He will grow up talentless. Get out of the way.
We need a filter. We need a way to wash bad celebrities out of the system, so they never come back. Who, on its right mind, allowed Sanjaya get into a reality TV show? Does America really need more Sanjaya? What have we done to deserve this? Save us. Please. Make it stop.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
For some reason, over 10 years later, ABC decided to let Rob Thomas take another crack at Cupid. Just in case you don't know, the concept of the show is this: Seemingly normal guy claims to be cupid. He says that Zeues sent him to earth to punish him for arrogance and the only way he can back to deity status is by connecting 100 couples (true love only) without using any powers. Of course regular earthlings think he is crazy and he is assigned a shrink.
The premise is odd but it worked with Jeremy Piven. The biggest difference between these two shows is that Jeremy Piven actually had sexual chemistry with his shrink (played by Paula Marshall) and it drove the show. This remake stars Bobby Canavale as the title character and Sara Paulson as his skeptic shrink. Unfortunately Bobby plays the character kinda gay (actually he plays him realllly gay) so you don't feel any sexual chemistry between the two. I normally like Bobby Canavale (Station Agent baby) but he is horribly miscast. Sara Paulson has better chemistry with Matthew Perry (as we saw in Studio 60), who I think would have been a much better choice.
I wanted to like the new Cupid but if the guy playing Cupid is wrong - the whole thing stinks.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
If you love animals (or hate them) this blog is for you.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Why have I not heard of Florence & the Machines until now? Her voice is ridiculously amazing. This is a live video of Dog Days Are Over. Here is a link to the official (very creepy raggedy ann on crack) video. They do an awesome cover of the Cold War Kids' Hospital Beds. Check em out loves.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
The Celebrity Death List Game just got interesting! I was very sad to hear about the passing of the amazingly talented and funny Bea Arthur; however with her passing came the awarding of the first point of the year! And that point goes to me!!!! I had her on my list last year and I stuck with her and it paid off. Patience can work in the CeDeLiGa. There is only two Golden Girls left and one of them is on my remaining list (I'm looking at you Betty!) Roger was shocked that Bea beat Swayze and Ted Kennedy to the grave, but he will have to deal.
But seriously I am really sad that Bea Arthur is gone. I am a huge "Golden Girls" fan and Dorothy Zbornak was by far my favorite character. She was the original fierce ~ she was bold, intelligent and bitingly funny.
Norman Lear took a chance on Bea when she was in her 50s and straight out of the theater. He put her up against Archie Bunker in "All In the Family," as his super liberal cousin, who was able to finally give a voice to the opposition of Archie's staunch conservatism. He (Norman) and America loved her so much that she was given her own spin off sitcom, "Maude." "Maude" was an extremely groundbreaking and important show in TV history. Its uniquely ultra-liberal message, including a two-parter where Maude decides to have an abortion (which aired two months before Roe V. Wade decision), was shocking and surprising popular. The show was in the top ten for the majority of its run.
Dylan (the General) and I sang "Thank You For Being a Friend" when we heard of her passing on Saturday, as a tribute to the great lady. Bea Arthur was awesome. I will miss her. Score one for me:-(
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Yes, it is true. Ben is the true hero in Lost. Smokey the monster says so. He is not the master manipulator; he is convincing. He is iluminating. He is working and making all work to save the Island and the world from the evil Charles Whitmore, that lazy psycho that is Jack Sheppard, and that whiny annoying fuckup that Kate has become.
Yeah, he murders. Whatever. Ben Linus is our man. He is our savior. Quoting the great Barney Stinson, he is like Hans Gruber: just missunderstood.
"The Office" is a wonderful sitcom. It is loopy, nicely embarrassing, painfully insensitive and strangely poignant and grounded in real, slightly insane human beings. For all the insanity, however, it somewhat grounded in reality. The world needed more workplace comedy. More office insanity. This time, however, it could not be grounded by reality or common sense.
Enter "Better Off Ted", the delightfully berserk office nightmarish comedy of R+D doom. Think "30 Rock" meets "Office Space" meets "Wild Science", only with more cryogenic experiments on employees. The boss in Veridian Dynamics is not just an evil sociopath; she just believes in herself and modern capitalism a bit too much. Portia De Rossi is just awesome as a completely demented careerist that you can only admire: no one is that ruthless without being friggin' awesome.
The show is still young, mind you; it is not yet flawless. "The Big Bang Theory", "How I Met Your Mother" and "30 Rock" are still funnier. This is sitcom word, however; good comedies only start reaching full potential after 10-15 episodes, when the writers get a hang on what makes characters tick and what ideas can really drive the show. After all, BBT was not Sheldon-centric from the get go; it takes a bit to see what works.
"Ted", however, has a ton of things that are great, and getting better. Portia De Rossi is just perfect; the show can not have enough of her. Andrea Anders is funny, and can play insanity like the best. And any show that parodies the overleveraged finance industry, military procurement, happy pills and corporate discipline on drugs in a single episode is definetely going places.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Mistresses - So many crazy, naughty and funny things happen in every episode! It is so addicting. And Domenic (the co-worker Siobhan started nailing when her perfect husband was too technical in the sack because they were trying to get preggers, who of course gets her pregnant instead of her sterile husband - this was in like 3 episodes) is waaaay hot.
Gavin & Stacey - By far the sweetest, funniest, crassest and adorable sitcom I have ever seen. I seriously adore this show - thankfully the shows creators Ruth Jones (Nessa) and James Cordon (Smithy) are working on series 3!! The Welsh accents of Nessa and Bryn kill me - Whats occurin? Thats crackin. Can't embed but check out the link.
BBC America lets me release me true anglophile self. I do believe that all of these shows will be available to purchase from the bbcamerica shopat some point. Please take a look if you can!
Joss Whedon´s Dollhouse is a show that was just kinda good when it started, and it has been getting steadily better ever since. The last few episodes I have watched (my DVR has a few waiting to be enjoyed, so please, no spoilers) have been from very good to just plain awesome, and the mythology of the whole thing keeps getting deeper and deeper, and more and more engaging. It is a worthy successor to Buffy and Firefly, that´s for sure.
Of course, we all know how things went with Firefly, and that brings me to my point: why the hell Whedon went back to Fox for his new show? The network is notoriously fickle with their scheduling, and horribly prone to kill, maim and mutilate shows that do not open to good ratings. Dollhouse is on the Friday evening slot of doom that sent Firefly to the scrap heap, and it feels like Fox are starting to think along the same lines regarding the new show.
The whole thing is kinda ironic. Whedon writes a show about people with their minds erased kidnapped in a beatiful house. He proceeds to pitch it around, and ends up going to the place that had him locked in a crappy timeslot and did an horrible job selling and pushing his last show.
Oh well. I am just awesome picking shows to follow that get cancelled shortly afterwards. The problem is that if the show gets canned, it is in part Fox´s fault; they insisted on delaying mythology episodes to the end of the season, forcing a very contrived pilot that was plainly hard to follow, and generally making their usual horrible job selling the show. Worse still, Dollhouse is not an expensive franchise like Terminator is, so they are probably even more reluctant to give the show a shot. Just sad.
Let´s hope it survives; it is surely worth it.
Friday, April 10, 2009
It is no surprise that the Producer of Southland, John Wells, also produced...wait for it...ER!! The pilot episodes of both series revolve around a rookie's first day. Officer Sherman shoots and kills a perp at the end of his first day and there is a nice shot of him staring over the body contemplating in shock what he has done. When his superior officer sees him like that he pulls him aside and give him a great speech, "[...]This is a front row seat to the greatest show on earth [...]. Yes sir, you can and you will, I guarantee it. Because it is relentless and it gets to you. And it seems like it changes nothing, but a day like today, with some interesting capers and a few good arrests...that's good. But every once in a while you get to take a bad guy off the streets for good and that my friend is God's work. Now you wanna be a pussy and quit, then you quit. You're a cop because you don't know how not to be one. Feel that way...you're a cop. If you don't...you're not. You decide."
On Dr. Carter's first day he sees a lot of crazy shit and ends up getting sick at the end of the day. He goes outside for air and is followed out by his superior, Dr. Greene, who gives him a great speech, "See there's two kinds of doctors. There's the kind that get rid of their feelings and the kind that keeps them. If you're gonna keep your feelings, you're gonna get sick from time to time."
You gotta love it when TV recycles!! How green(e) of them!
Monday, March 16, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
I am really reluctant to review Watchmen. For starters, I don't like the book; I worship it. It is one of my favorite novels of all time, which makes any adaptation struggle against a very, very high standard. The only movie that had to climb a mountain this big to convince me before was The Lord of The Rings, in fact; and as much as I appreciate Tolkien's work, I don't know if I have obsessed as much with the themes of his novel.
It is not that LOTR is a "shallow" novel, by any means (and any victim of catholic school will probably be able to point out how deeply religious and theological the book is), but Middle Earth was for a long time a place were I slayed Orcs and Trolls with my buddies on a RPG setting. Watchmen, I read it later, and I was already a uptight, snobbish intellectual when I got a hold of the book. My worship is equally strong, but it is far brainier. Not a good thing.
Anyway, back to the movie. The test for Watchmen was if it would get the same overwhelming feeling that I got in LOTR when I realized that Peter Jackson had been on my brain and made the movie I always have dreamt about. The Fellowship of the Ring was pitch-perfect in looks and tone; it was exactly what I had in mind when reading the book. It made the book hard to read after the fact, as the images are so fully realized on the screen. With Watchmen... not so much.
Before watching the movie I would have said that it was impossible to cram the comic into a 2h 40 min script; it just had too much detail. Visually, however, I believed that making a good movie was a given, as you had the mother of all storyboards as starting point, and a pretty clearly defined tone and grittiness in the plot and visuals. Something like Blade Runner-meets-Dick Tracy; a Fifth Element without flying cars and crazy camera movements.
Well, Watchmen does the hard part right, with an excellent, brooding, layered script with all the right cuts and changes, but totally, utterly, massively fucks up the easy side, with Zack Snyder fucking up the visual style something fierce. We got what could be described as Michael Bay-meets-Batman; a garish, overshot, wildly exaggerated style that overuses slow mo and the glossy, plastic-fab look of blatant CGI "upgrading" to highly distracting levels. To top things of, the movie has what is probably the worst sex scene seen in a Hollywood movie since Showgirls and the fierce swimming pool of hair splashing; a scene that has ruined one of the best songs ever for future generations.
We end up with a really odd movie. The themes are there. The script is wonderful, and noting the reactions of many critics that have read the book (Roger Ebert, giving it four stars), it really gets the point accross. In addition, you get the feeling that the extended edition of the movie will be even better, as some of the things cut out (Roscharch's backstory, for instance) would get back in. The overall "feel" of the movie, however, is completely off, in part of the annoying visual flourish, in part because it should not really be sold as an action movie at all. Watchmen, the book, essentially has only three very, very short "action" sequences.
In terms of nitpicking, there is plenty; most of it having to do with minor changes to characters that have some influence in how to interpret the themes of the movie and book. For instance, Rorschach is much more of a blatant fascist in the book than it is in the movie; he is not really a bad ass, but a maniac. Veidt is not such an asshole in the book, either; he is more suave and subtle. Sally / Silk Specter is much more of a mess in the book. Nite Owl, the Comedian and Manhattan, however, are all spot on.
To tell the truth, I could be riffing on the whole intellectual-philosophical thing behind the book and movie for hours, so I will spare you of that... for now. I do answer questions and requests. If someone is really masochistic, please go read my upcoming post in my other blog (in Spanish) for all the PolSci nerdiness.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
This dude wrote V for Vendetta, Watchmen, the Swamp Thing, From Hell and a ton of cool stuff. He is not just a nerd-god, he is a hell of a writer. No one yet* has been able to translate his work into film well, so do yourself a favor and grab one of his books and enjoy it.
*No, I haven't seen Watchmen yet. Should I go to a midnight showing? Dilemma. In any case, I still believe it is an impossible film; the only way to do it justice (and I am not sure it would work either) would be a 12-episode, 12-hour miniseries.
Monday, March 2, 2009
A damn shame, I might add. "Life on Mars" was a very good show on the path of becoming truly excellent; a wonderful take on a -supposedly awesome; I haven't seen it- BBC series of the same name. The premise was really clever (a 2008 cop gets transported to the 1970s) and the show was using it well; it was funny, interesting and as the characters were allowed to develop, more and more revealing and layered.
I guess it was not doing well in the ratings. Actually, it was doing fairly well (not stellar, but decent) up to late November, when ABC put the show on hiatus and left it of the air for a cool two and a half months; then the ratings sucked. Playing it on Wednesdays at 10 pm was sorta dumb as well; "Lost" hasn't been the best lead in show for ABC (fans are too busy hitting the interwebs after an episode to pay attention). Of course, it was specially dumb to change the show's slot on the first place, but that's besides the point.
So ABC has a procedural with a clever twist, killer cast, amazing visuals, fun concept and good writing and -my guess- high budget, and they manage to kill it. Congratulations. That's the second show that I like that you guys fuck up before it goes anywhere; "Pushing Daisies" broke my heart. Don't expect me to trust you with another series for awhile.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
But then, I am not a theater critic. I am a big nerd that hates a lot of stuff and demonizes those who deserve being demonized.
It turns out that the theater critic of the almighty NYT didn´t like the Broadway revival of Guys & Dolls, a play that we saw in previews and I greatly enjoyed. To tell the truth, I believe my problem is that I have the whole concept backwards; I always believed that G&D was a delightful, classic musical in the same sense that pre-Citizen Kane movies are delightful and classic. That is, it is a great piece, considering what was going on during the period.
The thing is, the original material is sorta flat. G&D has quite a few great songs, but the plot is just a couple steps up from a bland daytime sitcom; if it wasn´t for the music, no one would even remotely remember the play. That´s the whole point of some musicals, after all; you buy into the whole happy fiction and forgive that the whole thing is a bit of a contrived mess. Like opera, but sung by humans and without needing years of education and snobbery to get it.
So this G&D is slightly clunky and a bit flimsy. Well, the play sorta is. So what. The actors are engaging, the play flows really well, and everyone buy Craig Bierko (at least the day we saw it) can deliver a good tune. The critic bables about the lack of chemistry, but to tell the truth, I think it was there in plain sight. In G&D, there is not much depth into the whole character thing, so it is all about the actors making you have a good time, and I had it. It is not the best play of all time, but that´s what´s on the script.
If you want depth and all that, wait until Sondheim.
Friday, February 27, 2009
If you do not have plans for March 20th then I am telling you now to go to the movies and see I Love You Man. I was lucky enough to see a sneak preview (thanks to the General) last night and, I hate to gush but, god dammit I laughed my ass off.
The story is simple, Peter (played by the under appreciated for far too long Paul Rudd) just got engaged to the smokin' hot Rashida Jones. She discovers that he does not have any male friends and is slightly weirded out by it (she has a couple hilarious besties - one played by Jamie Pressly).
He decides to search for a male best friend. He goes on blind man-dates that go horribly wrong, until he randomly meets Sydney (played by Marshall himself - the phenomenal Jason Segel) at the open house for the Lou Ferrigno property (yup - the Incredible Hulk). Bro-mance sparks fly and the two soon become inseparable. Sydney helps Peter connect with his masculine side. According to my sources, Sydney's man-cave is like the mecca of all man-caves.
I Love You Man is one of the first movies I have seen that genuinely depicts the tight rope that is finding a hetero male bestie. It also is not afraid to show that friendships can definitely have parallels with relationships. There is the courtship, the honeymoon, the fall out and sometimes the break up.
Jason Segel and Paul Rudd completely sell this movie. They are funny, dumb, sweet, crazy and have an unhealthy appreciation of Rush. Please go see this flick - I swear you will be slappin' the air bass Leprechaun style as you leave the theater. By the way - the trailer does not do the movie justice. My cheeks hurt after watching the movie from laughing so much....seriously.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The problem with Rock Gods (with capital letters) is that sometimes have egos that veer from the gigantic to the humongously megalomaniacal. They are not very happy to know themselves. They don´t just go around proclaiming how big their penis* is. That's not enough to satisfy them. They don't have enough with having mad monkey sex (TM) with thousands of adorating fans. That doesn't fill their ego. They just don't feel fullfilled by being reviled for perverting the morals of kids, destroying western civilization and just being plan fucking annoying.
No, that's not enough. Some Rock Gods feel like they are bigger than that. Some Rock Gods believe that they are powerful. They can move mountain. They can open the seas. They can change the world using the awesome power of Rock. They can muster their charisma, their awesome soundglasses, the deep, intense, cult-like adoration of the fans to change the course of human civilization as we know it.
There is one of these Rock Gods amongst us. He is so fucking awesome that he doesn't even has a name. His name is a latin word for some obscure legal shit or a virtue. He is so fucking amazing that he can make George W. Bush cry. He is fucking Bono, and he can cure cancer with his tears or by singing a little lulaby.
Bono is the best example of what we call Boneheaded Onanistic Narcicistic Oligophrenia Syndrome, or B.O.N.O. Syndrome for short. We find that in many musicians that believe, with all their hearts, that they fart rainbows and sweat expensive champagne and can solve any problem with a bit of music magic. There are many of them, prancing around happily, feeling that they are worth something.
Please, don't touch them. They are fragile. They are not aware that they are mortal. Trying to bring reality to them will probably confuse them, bring them to their knees and take them to the mountains of madness. They are precious, little snowflakes. Don't damage them.
*Side note: the history of Rock is the history of grown men and women discussing how big their penises are. True. All that grief in love songs is in fact disappointment for the lack of apreciation for their penises. True.
For those that watch comic book movies with the right level of nerd adoration, the Samuel L. Jackson cameo in Ironman playing Nick Fury was like a gift from the gods of Valhalla. Marvel comics retconned and redraw Fury to look like Sam L. Jackson. For some reason, Samuel L. Jackson was chickening out on playing him on new movies, to the dismay of the fans.
Until now, that is. He is in. He is going to be Nick Fury. All is right in the world.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
2. Surprise foreign film winner! If a massive upset falls on a forest and no one has seen it, does anyone care? -I sorta do, for once, I wanted to see most of them-
3. I remember when I used to wake up at 2.30 am to watch the Oscars, back in Europe. The friends were good and it was fun, but I will rather see it on a more rational time.
4. It is me, or this year was terrible, deaths-wise. From Paul Newman to KHAAAAAN!, plus Ben Hur and many directors. Sad.
5. Reese Whiterspoon is talented, but I can't believe she has an Oscar. If you waste your talent only doing garbage cash-in, you don't deserve it. And yeah, I am not talking about the Slumdog death march. It is getting boring. Trainspotting director winning the Oscar, though, pretty crazy.
6. And I liked the movie! Less than "Milk" and "The Wrestler", though.
7. The ceremony so far pretty dammed good. It is actually stilish and fun.
8. Now, actress... About fucking time. Holocaust movies sell, people. Best thing of the speech was her dad's hat, the Peter Jackson shotout (Heavenly Creatures!) and the fact that she is almost as cute as Ann Hathaway.
9. Actor: I loved Sean Penn in "Milk". I really did. He is a sick actor. I really feel that Rourke was playing himself, but his performance has stayed with me so hard, so much, so deeply than I would have voted for him. Penn deserves the Oscar, but even him singled Rourke out in his speech.
10. Best picture: duh. It is a very good movie, but not that good. I admire it and see all the things it does well, but for some reason, it really doesn't click for me. I guess that I can't really get behind the destiny and salvation-by-lottery themes. It feels odd, out of context, like they needed to add fairy tale to madness.
That's all for me this evening,folks. Wrap up tomorrow.Hope you had fun!
No big surprise here as Slumdog Millionaire takes home the big mamma jamma. Jai Ho (or how I thought it was pronounced, Tally ho!)!!! Those little kids are having the best night of their life. It was such a good idea to bring them to the show.
To sum up the evening - my predictions were spot on!! Too bad I was not in any pools this year. I believe that my fashion predictions were also quite good - Anne Hathaway and Kate Winslet did not dissapoint. Hugh Jackman was great and will probably be asked back next year if they are smart. The only prediction I dont know about yet is the Aniston/Jolie catfight...we will have to wait until tomorrow.
Best Director is yet again no surprise. Slumdog wins again -Danny Boyle rocks my world so there is no complaining from me. This pretty much locks them for best picture, which was the prediction anyway.
Best Actress time, which means more ego-massaging for the nominees. Standing ovation for the past best actresses, including Sophia Loren and Shirley Maclaine. Kate Winslet finally broke her losing streak!!! Her speech was a big improvement from the Golden Globes, where she was practically hyperventilating.
Best Actor now. Maybe this whole thing with the former winners is to soften the blow for the losers. Robert DiNero's talk about Sean Penn was awesome. Great paparazzi reference. And Hells Yeah!!!!!!! Sean Penn takes it!!!!! He was amaaaaaazing in Milk. And he by far is giving the best speech.
The music categories are up now. Best original Score for Slumdog is no surprise. The music rocks from that flick. The performances of the original songs were really good. I must admit I am very partial to John Legend (ummm he is hot and can sang). They melded the songs really well - it worked. Jai Ho took home the gold from Slumdog, again no surprise.
We are heading into the last leg - only a half hour to go (in theory). Foreign Language was a big surprise. I thought for sure it would be Waltz with Bashir or the Class but it went to Departures from Japan. Have to admit the Director's speech was the best of the night so far. Is it just me or have the speeches been totally lame up until now? Penelope Cruz's was ok, as well as the Milk writer but not so much for everyone else.
This year for the In Memorium they are having Queen Latifah sing a song over the video instead of having the awkward random applause that turns into a popularity contest. Good move. Accept the audience didn't get the memo and they are clapping for the big names anyway. It was a very rough year for celebrity deaths. Sadness.
2. Heidi Klum is everywhere.Yet another ad.
3. So far, the academy has a odd fixation on the Button borefest and on cheering the poor. Sign of the times, I guess.
4. Jerry Lewis is really funny. I am not French, and I love the movies. I am from close to the French border, so maybe I am tainted, but please go see the movies again.
5. WTF is on with Seymour Hoffman's head? I hope he has a good reason / horrible gangrene on his scalp to justify that hat.
2. Jackman was born in the wrong Hollywood decade. Give him a 50s musical, ASAP.Beyonce, not so much, as the 50s were not as nice with colored women, sadly. The medley is actually pretty awesome, very old Hollywood. Me likes.
3. Of course it was Bahz Lurman's. Moulin Rouge was robbed!
4. Glad to see Joel Grey. The five supporting actors are wonderful picks (Cuba excluded), although Arkin won it for the wrong movie. In terms of the winner, really, who else could win. Heath was just inhuman; the most terrifying anarchist ever seen on a screen. He carries what for me was (fuck Slumdog) the best movie of the year. Period.
5. For accepting Heath's Oscar, I would rather have seen Gary Oldman being humbled or Christian Bale freaking out at the guy that does the lighting.
6. Seeing Bill Malher (who is awesome) cracking jokes and talking about highbrow documentaries is just odd.
7. Less tributes to action and comedies and more true recognition. LOTR aside, nerds have been left in the dust in these shows. Christ, a lot of good action this year; "Iron Man" alone was a riot worth four Benjamin Butons. Using The Hives, in any case, screams awesome.
8. FX for fucking Button. Really. Really. Have they seen it? While awake?
9. Less moron presenters, more Tina Fey. Please.
Finally Dark Knight wins a non-Heath Ledger award for sound editing! Well deserved! Slumdog has taken home sound mixing which is also deserved. They must have had to deal with so much ambient noise filming in such a densely populated area. As for editing (my fave category) we have Slumdog taking home the golden statue. The editing is great for this flick but personally I would have given it to Milk.
The Pineapple Express comedy short was excellent. Comparing The Love Guru with Slumdog Millionaire was inspired.
We are getting into the heavy commercial section of the evening. Less show more breaks. Uggh.
Musical number!! Here comes Beyonce in a slinky red number. Hugh Jackman is both affable and charming as I predicted. I think Beyonce is lip sinking. WTF? Ok -random cameos by the high school musical douches. As well as Amanda Seyfried and the hottie boy from Mamma Mia. Not sure why they needed the marching band, but I'll just go with it since Baz choregraphed that little number.
The Best supporting actor award is going the same way as the actress - old winners coming out to talk about how wonderful the nominees are, blah blah blah. Not a big fan of this set up. Cuba Gooding Jr.'s bit about RDJ was pretty good though. Not surprisingly Heath Ledger wins. So so so sad that he is not here. Question of the day posed by fellow blogger from WTF - Would he have won - or even been nominated - if he had not died? I am a strong believer that he would have - especially since he didn't win for Brokeback. The Academy has a way of paying you back for past performances, aka Renee Zellwegger for Cold Mountain (payback for Chicago) and Nicole Kidman for the Hours (payback for Moulin Rogue). She is skeptical because comic book flicks tend to be ignored. Discuss.
2. Happy that Penelope won. The movie was woefuly underrated, I must say. The academy only remembers Woody when he is quoting Bergman. Yeah, "Annie Hall" won, but in the 70s they were on drugs.
3. Talking about nobodies, the creep from Twilight is up there pretending the movie was any good. And introducing a pointless montage on love or something.
4. The more I see the gorgeous clips from WALL-E, the more I believe it deserved better than best animation. The second half of the movie is not as brilliant as the perfect first 45 min, but is a masterpiece anyway.
5. Hugh Jackman is awesome, but Ms. Hathaway... Marry me!
6. Ben Stiller as the Joaquin-on-drugs. Fucking awesome.
7. On a sidenote, did you know that "Gran Torino" has made more than $120 million? And my wife doesn't want to go see it!
The art direction/makeup categories have been given out to Benjamin Button and Duchess. All I can say is that Sarah Jessica Parker is going to knock herself out with those puppies!! Poor Daniel Craig - I barely looked at him because all I could see were those things poppin out like 3d!
Ben Stiller doing Joaquin is amaaaazing. One of the funniest moments of the evening by far. Slumdog take home another award - Best Cinematography. I was a bit disappointed because it is one of the few categories Dark Knight was nominated for, but alas no love.
Of course they have the obligatory hot actress hosting the tech awards blurb. This year Jessica Biel. They always do the joke about how it is the real happening party. Whatever.
So what we have seen so far:
1.The spawn of Phil Collins in the form of Disney channel tweener fodder is everywhere. Damm you ABC. And sorry, Cyrus is too young to be seen as hot and not feel bad about it.
Jennifer Aniston looks hot - take that Angelina Slutlie!! It must be weird having Brad and Angie in the front row staring at you. Big Shock - Wall-E wins best animated feature!!!