Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dramatic December

So in between the myriad World War II melodramas and heavy-handed Pay It Forward holiday schlock, we moviegoers get to wade through insanely dramatic Oscar bait like Doubt or Revolutionary Road. Here's the trailer for the latter of those two:

Now to me, it really just feels like the creators of "Party of Five"

decided they were going to make their Merchant-Ivory film.

Color me excited...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Man on Film: Slumdog Millionaire

This is a review that I have somehow managed to not get around to until now, about three weekends after I actually saw the film. That I have not gotten around to this review--or reaction, or whatever the fuck it is--should not be perceived as an indicator of a lukewarm response to the film.

I am a fan of Danny Boyle's work. I loved how visceral and stark he made the zombie genre feel in 28 Days Later--and yes, it's not technically a zombie film in the strictest sense of the genre, but if you're denying its essence of zombie-ness you are on angel dust. I loved the rollick through the heroin haze that was Trainspotting*. I thought Sunshine was brilliant in that for the first half of the film it is this stunning, coherent 2001 that suddenly turns into a hand-wringing space horror flick yet at no point did I feel like I was watching two different films or that the transition was anything but a smooth one. Hell, I even enjoyed A Life Less Ordinary, despite all of its flaws.

*This is totally not related to this film, but I think my favorite weird travel moment was while I was just dicking around in Edinburgh one afternoon, and I was walking down a hill when it dawned on me that the stairs I just passed were where Spud and Renton were being chased by the cops and Renton ran right into a car on the street, iconically putting his hands down on the hood of the car, staring at the driver for far too long as the police close ground quickly.

All that being said, I absolutely loved Slumdog Millionaire. In fact, of Boyle's body of work, this has to have been my favorite, which is no small compliment. As the film begins, we are introduced to Jamal Malik, a Muslim teen in Mumbai who has been arrested on suspicion of cheating on the Indian version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Over the course of the interrogation, Jamal's biography is explored in epic fashion with his life's story providing the explanation for his knowledge of the answers a young man of his background should not know.

As nearly any film set on the seedier side of life in the slums of a third-world city, it is nearly impossible to view this film without at least making mention of Fernando Meirelles' City of God--for better or worse--and honestly, Slumdog Millionaire holds up exceptionally well. At their cores, though, they're different in that Slumdog Millionaire is propelled as much by a love so strong it seems to have been fated while City of God is a tale of personal perseverance. Past the driving forces of each film, they are both powerfully presented narratives rife with the struggles and dangers of the vast and violent third-world slums.

Where Slumdog Millionaire sets itself apart is the joie de vivre that pulsates from the film. Despite many, many shitty things that happen to our hero Jamal, there is always an overwhelming hope and determination to find the girl he loves, Latika, that overrides his many defeats. Sure, this Dickensian tale can at times border on manipulative, but in the end nearly every film has just a little bit of manipulation and this one seems to ask from its onset for the viewer to subscribe to its fated journey and outcome thus suspending his or her disbelief if ever so slightly. It is the ride itself that is so enthralling so as to make any tugging at the strings from the puppeteer seem welcome.

Regardless, this film is so alive that to miss it would be doing a disservice to yourself.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Whilst dicking around on the internet

I found out that Jason Isbell's new solo record is coming out February 17th. For those of you who aren't like, "Oh shit! A new Jason Isbell record!" Jason Isbell was a member of the Drive-By Truckers up until about two years ago. While he was mainly brought in because of his prodigious talents on guitar, by the time Decoration Day came out, he was contributing songs that were often some of the best tracks on some amazing records. The following were just a few:

"Goddamn Lonely Love" off of Dirty South

a live performance of the title track from Decoration Day from September of 2003

and maybe my favorite song of his "Outfit" originally recorded for Decoration Day but in this instance performed with his new band

Well, if you go to Jason Isbell's myspace page, you can stream his new single "Seven Mile Island", and I've got to tell you it's pretty fucking great. But you should decide on that yourself.

The Best British Baseball Band Ever

Here is an example of something that does not happen nearly enough. Validation of The Outfield ahead:

While Play Deep, their debut album featuring the song covered above, has probably proven to be their work that has left a lasting impression on the public, their 1992 album Rockeye is the one that is nearest and dearest to my heart. When Michael Jordan and the Bulls were winning championships left and right, "Winning It All" was all over NBC's finals coverage to glorious effect. I want to say it was even present when the Bulls won their first title against Magic and the Lakers. If memory serves me correctly, the song was also over the closing credits of the first Mighty Ducks movie. To take you back to where I was then, I was in my living room in La Crescent, elated and this was on (the good stuff hits at about the 3:45 mark--the NBA does not want me to embed it, though).

And, if you'd like a taste of the song covered above, the video for the song is right here (this time there's Sony BMG to thank for me having to redirect you to YouTube). Here's the audio:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Let me see a show of hands.

Who else gets pissed when they see that ProActiv commercial with the piano going on in the background that is very clearly ripping off Bruce Hornsby and the Range? I mean, the music doesn't sound like it's note-for-note but it very obviously seems to be borrowing heavily from Hornsby. Maybe it's just the piano track, but I'd be shocked if Hornsby sold out.

See for yourself.


By the way, it took me about ten minutes to find a version where it was actually the album track. What the fuck, YouTubers?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Notes on "Footloose"

The following notes were taken while watching Footloose, which I'd not seen in years; they are in sequential order and alternate between inane, mundane, and profane at random:
  • When the lead actress, Lori Singer, is straddling the center line standing on both the car and the truck, the truck swerves while she's supposedly standing on its door. She totally would have died there.
  • Either Kevin Bacon's short or Singer's really fucking tall.
  • Was Chris Penn trying to play retarded?
  • Nice ADR when they're getting pulled over...
  • Rock confuses minds and bodies?
  • Red boots are only worn by trollops.
  • Chris Penn is most definitely playing retarded.
  • I miss the 80's convention of name-dropping bands in movies. I suppose when they do it now, though, it only pisses me off (see: Juno).
  • He only maintains his air of coolness because he's wearing sneakers.
  • That high school drug dealer is fucking retarded. Worst. Drug dealer. Ever.
  • His uncle is the missing link between John Ford Coley and Sonny Bono.

  • Oh shit! Here comes the big solo dance scene... Emilio Estevez eat your fucking heart out! David Lee Roth, too!
  • The gymnastics though... Gay.
  • What the fuck accent is she trying to pull off?
  • Did Ren just insinuate that Ariel is a tramp?
  • Is he afraid to kiss her because he knows that she won't be attractive by 2008 standards?
  • I never really thought about this, but John Lithgow is kind of a dick in this movie.
  • I keep waiting for my childhood memory of this movie having taken place in Indiana to be confirmed, thus making the mountains in the background hilarious. Nothing yet. Was I combining a memory of Footloose and Hoosiers?
  • Was that old lady with the tinted glasses Kermit's (from "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues") mom?
  • Maybe I was a really smart kid and drew the John Cougar Mellencamp - Indiana connection...
  • There are those red boots again...
  • Chris Penn's unibrow is really something.
  • Hearing "Footloose" makes me want to dance.
  • Was that Allyce Beasley in the bar?
  • "Why don't you just flake off." Really? Was this originally going to be Rated R like I always suspected Empire Records was supposed to be before the studio presumably interfered?
  • Child abuse!!! Lithgow = Dick.
  • Vi? That's Dianne Wiest's name in this? Weird.
  • His wife called him out--will he slap her, too?
  • Whoa, "dumb sonuvabitch fag"? Shit.
  • Male ass! More male ass!
  • I swear I saw a movie within the last week with "Let's Hear It for the Boy". Maybe I'm thinking of something in Fletch or the other Herbert Ross movie I saw this week, The Secret of My Succe$s.
  • She be gettin' slapped. Again? If there's a lesson to be learned from this movie, it is that it is all right to slap preachers' daughters. Sam, if you're reading this, don't get any ideas.
  • They're gonna throw the Bible at 'em.
  • Who the fuck would want to live in this town? Bomont sucks.
  • Was that a bespectacled Brandon Routh?
  • You know, I wasn't sold on dancing, but after Kevin Bacon's presentation to the city council...
  • The Byrds? That's that fucking Rock and Roll?!?
  • Yo, Rev. Jesus wants these kids to dance! Check Yo' Self.
  • She's not a virgin???
  • Book burning? This shit is getting out of control.
  • Lithgow's human? Fallible? Fuck. The walls around me are crumbling.
  • What town big enough to have its own high school only has one church because that's the impression I'm getting of this town.
  • Dianne Wiest looks like Crispin Glover in that doorway.
  • Holy shit! Lori Singer was Don Johnson's wife in Heartbeat.
  • Chuck is a dick.
  • I love that these kids who can't dance by law can somehow dance in step with one another.
  • That rubber-armed guy is at least two-thirds legs.
  • The weird thing--other than my Indiana memory that is clearly not based in fact--is that I had the fight and the dance reversed in my memory of this film with Chris Penn dying at the end of the movie. I must have been on crack when I first watched this.
On a very odd, yet entirely related coincidence, I turned the channel to Short Cuts once Footloose was over and shortly after I turned the channel I was treated to full frontal Lori Singer nudity with Chris Penn peeping through a fence as she stripped down, jumped in a pool, and played dead.

And for your patience:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Comments and Answers

Since there are so few comments on this little-read blog, I'll take this time to answer/respond to some of them.

"Weibel" just posed the question as to whether reading The Old Ball Game will make him better at fantasy baseball. Well, "Weibel"--if that is your real name--no, it won't. But it will help you appreciate the game more through exploring its origins, if that's any consolation.

"Weibel" also in the midst of his quest to become this blog's most prized reader--yes, I rate you all on scales of importance and frequency of visits like an internet Santa--heaped praises upon Rachel Weisz. I generally like her, but her character was so mean to the Greatest Chiefs' Fan, Paul Rudd, in The Shape of Things that I have a hard time looking at her now. As for Jessica Biel, the writers of this blog are very fond of her. Very fond indeed.

"Ryan" said that he knew that I wanted to head to the House on the Rock. I have actually been there before, although I'd not object to going again. The distance between here and there is insurmountable for the time being. I am working on building a pair of wings. That should solve that. Or I'll die.

Yes, "Little Brother", "The IT Crowd" is awesome. Thanks for the head's up.

There were three comments on the Role Models portion of the two-reviews-in-one-post. I'll address them in bullet points:
  • I did used to dislike Seann William Scott, Weibel--your frequency of commenting has absolved you from the quotes; congratulations (and, yes, I used a fucking semicolon there)--but in recent years my distaste for him has waned as the memory of the shitheap that was the American Pie franchise gets more and more distant in the [cracked] rearview.
  • Little Brother--your contributions to this blog are not lost on me either, nor is your blood relation, hence the quotation mark disappearance--I, too, found the SWS character more likeable than Rudd's.
  • KRD--OK, so I've abandoned the use of quotes now; but not semicolons; I guess I have to do my part to the abuse that Cormac McCarthy has committed against the English language, and it begins in this post--I think Ryan Reynolds is really funny. Do you really want me to explain why Wet Hot is so funny? Well, I'll first absolve you from eternally landing on some imaginary shitlist of mine by telling you that it's all right. You don't have to like Wet Hot American Summer. If you want to know why it's funny to me, I'd have to go on for ages while watching it. In brief, Paul Rudd is absolutely hysterical in it. For the entire movie. I'm kind of lukewarm on Michael Showalter in general (and Michael Ian Black, for that matter) but line that his character "Coop" drops when Marguerite Moreau's "Katie" is walking away is a line that I at least think in my head once a week and laugh out loud. How is "I want you inside me" not hilarious? The string of Chris Meloni aggression followed by depraved sexual admissions followed by lame cover-up attempts is fucking great. The training sequence, along with "Higher and Higher" or "Turn Me Loose"--it was one of the two, but I'm pretty sure it was "Higher and Higher"--is pretty damn sweet, too. I could go on. Watch it with a bunch of people. Drunk. They even like Wet Hot American Summer in Portland.
Little Brother, I knew that you'd like that "Fame" clip. Almost as much as we both liked Carl Peterson's resignation.

I'm glad the Cynicism post stirred up some discussion among you three diligent posters. Too bad the other jerks that come here didn't chime in. I know who you are...

So that covers the last twenty posts or so. Anything further back would be so far back that it isn't really worth commenting on. I do read your comments, though, friends. Thanks for making this more of a communal forum than a meaningless stream of my mental masturbation.

Enter the confessional

I am watching "Definitely, Maybe".

There, I said it.

It's on TV, and I am not keeping it here without a modicum of guilt.

And no, I am not talking about some music doc about Oasis' first album. I am talking about the movie with Ryan Reynolds and Abigail Breslin.

For starters, it is not particularly good. Moreover, I saw most of it the other night before heading out to a party Saturday night.

Still, I sit here with it on. Again.

What is wrong with not-so-young Josh, you might ask? The answer to that question is not a short one.

In this instance, I will have to say that I like Ryan Reynolds. Say what you want, but I think the man is funny. I like his energy. I like his delivery of lines. I think Van Wilder is very funny, and I am not entirely sure that it is the source material that amuses me or its star. He made an otherwise unwatchable "Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place"* entertaining.

*I'll admit that once Nathan Fillion joined the cast there were then two reasons to watch, as his goofy work as the affable blue-collar boyfriend/fiance/husband was pretty enjoyable. Whether or not his addition contributed to the official name-change to "Two Guys and a Girl" is kind of irrelevant because I still refer to the entire series by it's full, first season name--much like the Washington Bullets, the California Angels, or the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and the reverse of "The Hogan Family".

Back to the film, though, I could try to justify my watching this by citing the fact that his character works within the world of politics, which I might like to do someday. I chalk up my motivation for watching the film to liking any or all of the following actresses: Isla Fisher, Rachel Weisz, and Elizabeth Banks.

While those things all have a shred of truth to them, to use one or all of them as an excuse for watching this would be a lie. I am watching this because it's a Ryan Reynolds star vehicle.

So fuck you.

Or something.

P.S. He smokes Morleys in the film. I have to wonder if that's a shout-out to "The X-Files".

P.S. (Part II) Was the hanging of the sign in the deli Two Guys Deli a nod to Reynolds' sit-com past?

Reading Rainbow: The Old Ball Game by Frank Deford

For whatever reason, The Old Ball Game marked my first foray into the writings of Frank Deford--at least past the possible Sports Illustrated article I may have read or his pieces for NPR's Morning Edition.

The Old Ball Game: How John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, and the New York Giants Created Modern Baseball tells an historically vital story about how baseball was revolutionized by the unlikely pair of John McGraw and Christy Mathewson. McGraw was a symbol of the old guard--the coarse, hot-tempered, ever-competitive, occasionally violent manager of the New York Giants beginning in 1902, having left his beloved Baltimore after feuding with the founder of the American League, Ban Johnson. Mathewson was nearly McGraw's polar opposite. Where McGraw had come from an impoverished working class background rife with family tragedy, Christy Mathewson was raised by God-fearing people in the classic American household. He was, quite literally, the archetype for Everybody's All-American, having been the Big Man on Campus at Bucknell and chosen what was then the fairly risky path of the professional athlete. Mathewson was the mild-mannered, even-keeled, devout superstar with matinee idol looks to contrast McGraw's squat, everyday plainness.

While there wouldn't have seemed to be a common ground between the two were one to put them in a room without either having prior knowledge of one another, the two got on famously. It was their work together and their contrasting personas that--in the largest city in the United States--that helped capture the collective imagination of the public and catapulted baseball into the status it long held as America's pasttime.

With Deford's deft wordsmanship and keen eye for colorful source material, their story comes to life, complete with enough tragedy, success, and consequence for ten books. The read is an enjoyable one and can be completed easily within a few short hours, making it a must read for anyone with any interest in the history of Baseball or the turn of the 20th century, as both are covered vividly and deftly within its pages.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

For Little Brother

As I'm about to post in your comments section on your blog, there are a fair amount of videos of Bonnie "Prince" Billy on YouTube. First, there is this video that he shot with Zach Galifianakis:

Clearly, that one is not indicative of one Will Oldham's catalog, seeing as though it's a Kanye song, but it's obviously pretty fucking sweet.

Here's a excellent, albeit weird video for "The Seedling" off of The Letting Go:

This one's got trucks:

Then, there's this weird little tidbit from about two years ago, when Will Oldham (who is Bonnie "Prince" Billy--well, and also was Palace Brothers and Palace Music--for the un-indoctrinated) took to stand-up.

And finally there's this:

Will Oldham seems kind of like he might be a weird dude. All the better for everyone else.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reading Rainbow: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Well, Ryan, I finally read it...

A few weeks ago, I read Coraline, which I found to be entirely enjoyable, but for the obvious reason that it was written for children slightly less than substantial. Not that Coraline was insubstantial, per se, but American Gods was a much meatier read. Richly imbued with characters from myth and folklore, the book was a contemporary fantasy which appealed to me on an even more personal level in that much of the action took place near where I grew up.

Regional favoritism and partiality aside, the ex-con hero, Shadow, and the dark places--both real and surreal--he travels to through the course of the narrative are vividly drawn out by Gaiman. To my delight and relief, Gaiman's prose seldom comes across as overwrought (certainly far less than my own) and is almost entirely engaging. While the first few hundred pages were a bit of a chore for me, due to an increased work schedule, the last 300 pages or so flew by over the course of a few days.

So essentially, if you're interested in a contemporary, adult* fantasy that references Greg Brown, Robert Frost, Tom Waits, and e.e. cummings while intrinsically being about America and its melting pot of cultural influences complete with a largely unpredictable storyline, then American Gods is the book for you.

*And by adult, I mean that there are at times some fairly graphic sexual acts depicted. No, we're not talking the coprophilia and such that got Gravity's Rainbow knocked off the Pulitzer Prize stand, but it is by no means tame, and disturbingly degrades Lucille Ball in "I Love Lucy", which is just weird.

If you're not, then that's cool, too.

I guess.

Late night gift*

*from the sublime "The IT Crowd"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Maybe it's just me

but doesn't it seem just a little bit cooler if the John Carpenter in Bob Crane's life were the John Carpenter? They were both film enthusiasts.

Man on Film: Let the Right One In and Role Models

What follows are two untimely, brief reflections on two films that I saw a few weeks ago. Obviously, these films are not exactly fresh in my mind anymore. I probably could have written this stuff up when I was typing up that entirely masturbatory Kuffs entry last week, but I didn't. Maybe Kuffs just needed the more immediate attention. Regardless, here it goes.


Let the Right One In (or Låt den rätte komma in in Swedish) is first and foremost the best pre-teen vampire movie you will ever see. Its source material was an international bestseller by the same name that was adapted for the screen by the novelist himself, John Ajvide Lindqvist. The story is simple enough: Oskar is a 12-year old brutally bullied outcast who befriends and becomes enamored with a mysterious girl, Eli, who has just moved in next door with her abiding fatherly guardian. Upon their arrival, people start disappearing while a sweet and innocent love blossoms between Oskar and Eli.

Directed by Tomas Alfredson, Let the Right One In deftly balances subtlety and nuance with a generous smattering of suspense while ultimately telling a cute story of love and devotion. The film is very Scandinavian in humor and pacing to go with its wintry climes, and it makes the inspired choice to have many of the onscreen horrors committed by humans, further endearing Eli to the audience.

If you get the chance, it's a great little film that should be seen before the American remake (oh, don't worry, it's already been greenlit--much to Alfredson's chagrin--and is to be helmed by Matt Reeves, the director of Cloverfield) surely tarnishes its name.

If that didn't convince you, maybe the trailer will help:

If you have already seen it, here's a little interview with the director, his diplomatic response to the remake is much more subdued than his initial response at moviezine.se later reported here.


On an entirely different note, after three attempts I finally got to see Role Models, the latest directorial effort from David Wain of "The State" and "Stella" notoriety who previously directed the superb Wet Hot American Summer and the uneven but occasionally funny The Ten. I'd imagine just about everybody who comes here with any degree of frequency is already well aware of the film, so I'll pare my thoughts down to a reaction more than anything else.

The film was pretty funny. It came highly recommended by two readers here, and their enthusiastic reactions were probably responsible for my lofty expectations, which were not met. The kids didn't bother me, somewhat surprisingly since most kids in comedies tend to come off as too broad and/or precocious in the Cop and a Half/Problem Child/Atonement way--which are not good things if you are an adult. Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd were both funny enough, as were many of the supporting cast. There were diatribes on bullshit Starbucks-inspired coffee sizing and running jokes involving bagel dogs, both of which are topics that are near and dear to my heart. Jane Lynch always surprises me at just how funny she is in that awkward alpha-female role. I think the movie is legitimately funny. It just fell shy of my surely unreasonable expectations--which is pretty much the reason I did not ever bring myself to write an entry on Burn After Reading.

Soon to come

I should have plenty of time tomorrow to catch up on posts I've wanted to get done as I'm getting an unexpected, recession-related day off. In the coming days, I hope to have posts up about the book I'm reading, two movies I've seen lately, possibly a long-simmering rant I've been piecing together in my head, and whatever random other things come to mind.

The last post was obviously a little nonsensical if you don't know who Carl Peterson is. If you want a further explanation, feel free to wander on over to my Royals blog for a non-Royals entry about King Carl.

Otherwise, I do intend to take care of the non-Royals blog entries I've put on the back burner for the past week. My apologies.

And now a gift--an old one, but a gift just the same...

Friday, December 12, 2008

"He's Gone" (updated)

Hall and Oates* doing a tribute to Alan Colmes? On the Daily Show? Awesome. As soon as the video is up, you best believe that it'll be embedded in this post.

*By the way, what the hell was up with their minion in the stocking cap behind them on a third acoustic guitar? Weird.

There were weird issues with trying to embed the video, so here's the link for now.

And as consolation:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"So I was watching Kuffs this morning..."

That's pretty much how every one of my conversations start. At least in my imagination.

But for today--and really every day for the past fifteen years of my life--that is a true statement. Anyway, here are my notes on yet another Kuffs viewing:
  • The Old Lady woke up in the middle of the movie (at about 10:15 am) and said, "Are you watching Kuffs?" She immediately fell back asleep.
  • It seems to me that the score in the film is the evolutionary step between Tango & Cash and the Misty Mundae soft-core re-imagining-of-Hollywood-hits oeuvre (i.e. Witchbabe: The Erotic Witch Project 3 and Play-Mate of the Apes).
  • I find it interesting that the villain in the film is the man in the world who, in 1992, was what would have happened if you mixed the genetic traits of the doctor from The Dream Team and Fisher Stevens in a super sperm cell, impregnated a passive ovum that would then allow for only the male characteristics to be passed on to the baby, and then traveled back in time to have that person be a contemporary of theirs.
  • It occurred to me part way through the film that I no longer know which way to pronounce Milla Jovovich's first name. Upon further research, it would appear that it is 'Mee-la'.
  • In case you were curious, the score I was speaking of earlier was composed by the inimitable Harold Faltermeyer. I went to sleep last night watching Fletch, in a pure coincidence. He was also the brilliant mind responsible for the Tango & Cash score.
This is what my life is.

Monday, December 8, 2008

10cc of Self-Esteem Boost

No, this is not going to be a second-straight entry pondering my deeply damaged psyche.

Instead, this is related to having spent about ten minutes watching E! last night. The Special Lady Friend turned it there last night to go to sleep to the Bring It On sequel* starring Hayden Panettiere. In addition to asking its audience to believe that there were no hot African-American females on the Crenshaw cheerleading squad, the ten minutes of film that I saw was fearfully stale and managed to make Panettiere merely moderately attractive. What kind of retard was in charge of casting here? The answer to that hypothetical question is that there were two retards, and their names are Devon Marie King and Pamela Lynn Thomas. You can rest at ease this evening in knowing that neither has been given the opportunity to act as casting director in more than one other film, so you'll not have your escape into a world of more attractive people tarnished by either of these two tasteless fools.

*I was astonished to find out that this was actually the third unrelated installment of the Bring It On franchise. While I actually liked the first one, I don't think anyone could possibly explain to me the necessity for a second, or even more bafflingly (if that's actually a word) a third. What the fuck?

But what is even better is watching the ads on E!, which are life-affirming to say the least. The most ridiculous are the ads trying to add a degree of importance or vitality to E!'s own programming. No fucking way! Both "Hulk Hogan & Family" and "Lindsay Lohan: True Hollywood Story"? "15 Most Infamous Child Star Mugshots" (two whole hours devoted to that). "THS Investigates Cults, Religion and Mind Control" (yet another entrant in the two hour special)? Oh, here's another "True Hollywood Story"... This time it features none other than Star Jones. I'd keep going but that covers about 15 hours of programming, with four hours being eaten up by Paid Programming and at least another hour of Celebrity News programs.

Going so far as to implicate that there was even an iota of quality to that docket of shit is insulting, but obviously there is a demographic that finds this to be a compelling argument. Allowing for that, you can re-evaluate your life, and pretty much no matter how far short you've come of where you thought you would be when you envisioned your life as a wide-eyed 15-year-old, at least you are not so sad as to be won over by their profiles of psuedo-celebrities and masturbatory countdowns.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Nature of Cynicism

There is one item of self-aggrandizement to get out of the way, and then on to the blog: I have been interviewed in regards to my new-ish, Royals-only blog over at Royals on Radio etc. Obviously, I am not often interviewed, so this is noteworthy if only for that reason. I'm sure this will be the last interview that is asked of me, so feel free to waltz on over there.

Now that that is out of the way, my brother called up on the way to the Cities for the weekend (he is stuck working in St. Cloud right now--an undesirable place to land in his judgment) and posited the question as to why we (he, myself, and to a slightly lesser extent, my sister) were so cynical in light of our very normal upbringings. This wasn't meant as a negative assessment of ourselves or our states in life, but he found it odd that we could be enriched (how's that for a positive take on cynicism) with such cynical gifts while people we know who enjoyed largely less stable childhoods have turned out much more wide-eyed and optimistic.

Perhaps it is the same trait* in humanity that leads the poor and infirmed to cling so tightly to their gods, invoking his name with a fervor that other less slighted persons do not appear capable of.

*And I'd hate for this statement to be misinterpreted as insinuating that the poor and infirmed, or for that matter the spiritually-inclined, are somehow less intelligent. That is not what I am getting at. I think it is more a hope that in the next life things will be better, which to this cynic is probably much more reducible to a coping mechanism than a show of lacking intelligence.

So I shall ask this question: What is it that produces such cynicism in people who have not, by and large, been dealt a shitty hand from the start?

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Great Darkplace

So after speaking to a few people over the course of the past week or so, it has come to my attention that many have not seen the supremely funny "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace". For whatever reason, the show did not gain traction with viewers in the U.K. initially. After it had already been passed over for a second series, it caught a second breath of life on this very internet that you are using, of course.

The show's premise is that its creator, Garth Marenghi, is finally getting to air the episodes of a programme that was originally taped back in the 1980's only to be deemed too extreme for audiences by Channel 4. The episodes we're seeing are being aired only because of the "worst artistic drought in broadcast history".

Much of the cast has been involved in other cult hits that have made their way to this side of the Atlantic ("The IT Crowd"--which is currently airing on IFC--and "The Mighty Boosh", for starters) before and after, and their talents are on display in all of them.

I posted a brief clip of an episode a while ago, but what follows is the first episode. To my knowledge, all the episodes are available on YouTube.

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