Sunday, September 7, 2008

Teeth a-sinkin'

So I wanted to write this entire blog while listening to the theme from "Doogie Howser, M.D.", but my computer is acting a little weird right now. Guess I have to scrap that plan.

This will more than likely be a whopper of a post covering a Posnanskian range of subject matter, so fasten your seat-belts, 90210 fans, you're about to get knocked up...


The Alan Ball vampire show, "True Blood", premiered tonight. Accents notwithstanding, the show was all right. Its pacing was a bit turgid at times, with seemingly little happening for a fair chunk of the show.

The teaser seemed to do very little to advance the plot. I guess it set up the show's premise, but whether it was engaging or not was an entirely separate matter, and the fangs on the bumpkin in the convenience store were comically bad.

Playing with the light in Merlotte's also seemed a bit odd, as the show is not solely told from the perspective of Anna Paquin's Sookie, so the departure from a reality in which she is telepathic to one in which all the lights dim took me out of the scene momentarily.

Stephen Moyer's turn as Bill, the new vampire to town, was also shockingly leaden, with his performance at times seeming much like he was channeling Mark Heap in "Spaced" while disregarding the tone of the show.

Past that, the show was all right. Nothing that was awe-inspiring. Nothing so pedestrian that I wouldn't watch a few more times.


I hated "Entourage" when it first began airing.

It wasn't funny, and I had problems with its glorification* of a phenomenon that I found to be slightly retarded. The entire notion of the entourage in Hollywood and the sports world is just something I couldn't be bothered to care about, let alone enjoy sitting through a program devoted to such a posse.

*I've also been watching "Gossip Girl" as Jackie has been getting discs in the mail, and I have to say it's glorification of the lifestyle of the spoiled rich kids is quite bothersome to me. In "Entourage", at least someone has done something to warrant the modicum of fame that is then abused by a few. In "Gossip Girl", the audience is supposed to give a fuck about self-absorbed rich kids who throw fancy parties and have no problems drinking at any bar in New York. Aside from that being a ridiculous presupposition to make, the characters are not anything other than milquetoast. Furthermore, they're not even attractive rich kids. At least the 35-year-olds in the original 90210 were attractive.

And while you're watching and hearing Kristen Bell's voice-over as Gossip Girl--the blogger that keeps tabs on all of Manhattan's best and brightest--you can't help but be reminded of how "Veronica Mars" was a show at least partially about the rich but managed to be entertaining and explored depths "Gossip Girl" could only dream of. It also had a stable of writers that was capable of putting a pen to paper and having the result be something not entirely consistent of chat-room diarrhea and "Sex and the City" punnery. But I digress...

Additionally, Turtle and Drama were completely irritating in every way imaginable.

I did not like the show.

Then the second season began airing, and as a result of its timeslot, Jackie and I would sit through it while waiting between shows. The weird thing was that the second season was actually good. I was shocked. It's not often that I make an about-face on a show like that, but with "Entourage", I did.

For reasons related to not having HBO and not caring enough to obtain episodes in less than legal fashion, I didn't see all of the last season. I've seen enough to have gotten the gist of what happened, and I saw the last few episodes, which pretty much got me up to speed.

We now find Vincent Chase at rock bottom, having starred in a historically bad Medellin bio-pic that was booed at Cannes and then gone into hiding on the beaches of Mexico. No one wants him. In fact, Vince is now nothing more than a pawn in negotiations where producers want other actors.

Drama is still aggravating--partially by design, partially by Kevin Dillon's acting. Past that the show seems like it has tapered off a bit since the heights it reached in its second and third seasons. Maybe it can recover. Hopefully it doesn't regress to the lows it occupied in its inaugural season.


Football completely took over my Sunday, and I don't feel good for it.

The Chiefs were not particularly good.

They had it inside the 10 with less than a minute to go and were unable to punch it in to tie the game.

Not surprising. Croyle went down, but the Chiefs were able to take out Brady first, so I guess there's that.


I recently finished two books: Lost Echoes by Joe R. Lansdale and Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson (and the grammarian in me really wants to underline those titles, but I can't figure out how to do that, so you'll have to settle for the italics).

Lost Echoes was a pulpy burner. Lansdale is always a very quick read, and this was no exception. Aside from his off-putting use of the word 'turd', he is a pretty solid writer. Texas native, Lansdale mines the depths of evil that humans are capable of without oversimplifying motives, which is often the fault of genre writers. Unlike some of his works, this one does incorporate a little bit of the supernatural, but it doesn't err to mummy territory like his best known work "Bubba Ho-tep" which was turned into the well-loved film.

Lansdale is also much less broadly comical in most of his work than he was in "Bubba Ho-tep", and Lost Echoes is much more in the vein of more serious work. Don't get me wrong, his down-home tone is still intact, but this is a drier work operating in a more believable reality than the casual reader may be expecting.

All in all, Lost Echoes was pretty solid. Definitely something I don't regret reading.

National Book Award Winner Tree of Smoke was a bit of a disappointment. I've read other Johnson and rather liked what I had read. While Tree of Smoke was not bad, I did feel like I read 650 pages of something with little to no pay-off. It took a full 150 pages for anything of note to happen.

Sure, there is the exploration into the meaninglessness and misspent resources of the Vietnam War that is fleshed out, but that in conjunction with the illustration of the wrong people getting ahead are the main points going for a book that often wallows in what could be described as aimlessness.

Don't get me wrong, Johnson's prose can be arresting. His dialogue is often outstanding.

My disappointment lies mainly in the fact that this won the National Book Award, which has generally resulted in my having been pleased with a book that I've read, but having read other Johnson and having this feel like a lesser work is kind of baffling to me.



I went to Bangkok Dangerous opening night.

Before I go into an in-depth review of the film, I should state that I am a big Nicolas Cage fan.

I'm sure you're thinking, "Oh, he must mean Nic Cage in Adaptation, Raising Arizona, and Leaving Las Vegas."

My answer to that statement is, "Fuck you. Stop putting words in my mouth. I'll like who I wanna like, dick."

I like new Nic Cage. The Nick Cage who does whatever fucking movie he wants to because it's a project he thinks he can have fun with. The Nic Cage who has hopelessly awkward interactions with ladies in films opposite of him. Barring the shittiness of Ghost Rider***, new Nic Cage has been extremely fruitful. We've been treated to his great ass-kicking of women leading to his death in the Wicker Man remake. We've gotten all the greatness that Chris Johnson/Frank Cadillac brought to the table in Next****. And say what you will, but the National Treasure movies have been better than The Da Vinci Code and Indy: KOCS combined.

***I blame this all on Mark Steven Johnson, who on top of denigrating the name of Minnesotans by churning out shit movies has managed to waste the talents of Ben Affleck and Nicolas Cage in the superhero movies he's conned studios into letting him direct. All of the Johnny Blaze moments in the film were awesome (because of Cage, of course) but as soon as CGI-Ghost Rider comes into the mix, the energy of the film is gone. That's a damn shame. Someone should write a new Ghost Rider movie and just let the Ghost Rider shit happen off screen, only to have Johnny Blaze react to what he did, maybe relating the story to an actress other than Eva Mendes, who frankly sucks.

****And as if I needed any further evidence to support my Nic Cage fucking rules argument, just witness the atrocious performance of Julianne Moore in Next if you need to see someone mailing it in. Holy shit is she bad in Next. Nic Cage makes this fucking movie work (well, the beautiful Jessica Biel doesn't hurt). Moore is well-regarded, and that reputation is mostly deserved. But while Nic Cage is acting his fucking ass off, Moore is delivering lines so ridiculously that you actually cringe.

Now hard-working Nic Cage sinking his teeth into vanity projects that are probably beneath an actor who has won an Oscar and been nominated for another may get overlooked by most, but seeing someone throw caution to the wind and take roles in whatever the fuck he wants to do regardless of artistry is bold. And I like it. Call me crazy, but I get to see Nic Cage in schlock, and sometimes schlock is fun.

Unfortunately, Bangkok Dangerous isn't that fun. It has its moments (like the first dinner he has with the deaf pharmacy girl), but unfortunately the film makers don't know how to liven up the film, and the finale is relatively lifeless despite the fact that Cage shoots a lot of people.

None of the film's faults lie at the doorstep of Cage, but Bangkok Dangerous remains a mostly forgettable Nic Cage movie, which is a line I never wanted to type.


That's all I got.

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