Friday, May 29, 2009

Home Is Where The Weird Is

It's been a weird couple of weeks for my various hometowns.

Today, while we were working hard of course, my boss, who also lives in the illustrious Orange County (the one with motorcycles, not real housewives), saw a link about Jon from that awful awful show Jon & Kate Plus 8. He was apparently seen in a nearby town called Newburgh with two ladies. I just thought that was funny. If I can offer Jon one piece of advice, stick it out till they're 18 and THEN bounce, otherwise that's a hell of a lot of child support homey.

Also, last week I was listening to NPR on my way to the train station (cause I like to be cultured for no less than 5 minutes a day when I'm not listening to Fall Out Boy CDs) and heard about the super crazy mayor of Toledo Carty Finkbeiner. He apparently asked people to mow the area parks with their own mowers. Hey not so crazy right? Here's the video.

Not only is it awesome that the much younger dude is walking next to the old man while he mows the lawn, but how does the mayor have time to go out and mow the grass every week? Fix the town! I mean it's not like the economy has shit the bed, the automotive crisis is having any repercussions or Toledo was voted THE worst medium sized city to try and find a job in! Goddammit! I feel my inner Lewis Black coming out.

Now, if this is your only experience with Finkbeiner I can hear you wondering "Why'd you call him crazy? This isn't so bad." Well, my ignorant friend, listen up. In his first term as mayor of Toledo, a city of over 300,000 people, Carty made headlines with two ridiculous statements. First up, he went on record saying that deaf people should all move out near the airport because they can't hear the planes anyway. Hey, maybe that's not so bad. Think again. This statement immortalized Toledo in the boardgame Trivial Pursuit. I tried figuring out which card it is to scan for you fine readers, but I couldn't nail it down. If any fellow Toledoians are reading this and now, please let me.

The other point of national infamy brought on my hometown thanks to Carty stems from an appearance he did on the Daily Show. This was back in the mid 90s when they would routinely search out politicians from podunk towns with crazy ideas. Well, it seems Carty wanted to convince the world that Toledo was the Hollywood of the midwest. Oh how I wish this clip was floating around the internet. Instead, more ridicule. On national television. Thanks Carty.

If these sound like isolated incidents, please click to the 20 or so controversies on his Wikipedia Page which include maybe roughing someone up!

Oh, DO go on.

In Defense of Brett Ratner

Brett Ratner gets a lot of shit thrown his way thanks to the internets. Especially the folks over at /Film (my main source for movie news). A search on their sight for "Brett Ratner hack" brought about 5 pages of responses at 10 links per page. Obviously /Film isn't the only entity out there with a mad-on for Ratner, they're just one example of man. Now, granted, some of the criticism is appropriate (X3), but after watching Rush Hour 3 I think the dude has gotten a bad wrap. Much like Michael Bay, who you know I'm a fan of (especially when teamed with Kurtzman and Orci), Ratner makes big, summer popcorn movies with lots of explosions and fights and I don't see anything wrong with that.

I had a great time watching Rush Hour 3 (2007). I've seen the other two, but don't really remember them, and I probably won't remember too many of the details of this one, but I was looking for something fun to watch on the train and I got it.

One thing that occurred to me while watching was that it actually felt like an 80s action/comedy (like Fletch or Beverly Hills Cop) but with more explosions and bigger action set pieces. I like that Chris Tucker plays a character much like Fletch or Axel, in that he's really good at improvising once he's in a bad situation, while still being funny. You don't get that a lot anymore. It's the same kind of story as those aforementioned flicks, but with a presumably bigger budget.

I also really like how Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan played off of each other (they felt like they'd know each other for a long time, which is the case considering the first Rush Hour came out almost 10 years prior). Watching RH3 was like getting back together with some dudes you sat near in high school but were never really that close with, fun but not deep.

The story is fairly typical by 80s standards: cops trying to track down something the bad guy (who also happens to be kinda related to one of the cops) wants, all the while kicking ass, taking names and saving pretty girls.

Looking through the rest of Ratner's filmography as a director, I was surprised with how many of these movies I liked. You've got the Rush Hour flicks of course, X3 which I didn't hate as much as my nerdy brethren though it wasn't very good, I remember liking Red Dragon when I saw it, After the Sunset was pretty good when I saw it in college, plus he directed the pilot of Prison Break, a show I loved before I missed most of this last season. Add to that some music videos and that Guitar Hero or Rock Band commercial from earlier this year (who can keep it all straight?) and that's a pretty good record in my book. He's not making the kinds of movies I'll remember forever or even put in my DVD collection (for the most part), but, like a candy bar, I will enjoy it while chomping down on those flying bullets, one-liners and pretty ladies.

On a completely different note, IMDb is weird. On Ratner's page it lists something called Untitled David Diamond/David Weissman Project (2005) (TV). Now I get why something like this would be there in the "In Production" section or something, but why is it still around four years later if it was never made/saw the light of day? If you click through the link it's got a full actor list including John Leguizamo, Claire Forlani, John Cho and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. There's no notes on the story or anything, so I'm curious why it would still be there. Even if tt was produced or a pilot was made, shouldn't the actual name of the show/movie be on the page or at least listed as an AKA? Oh well, IMDb, you befuddle me.

Oh, DO go on.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Halloween Scene: Seeing Halloweeners

Much like spying Lost cast members, I love seeing folks from the Halloween movies (well, the ones I've seen and liked at least) in other flicks. I've recently had the pleasure and surprise of seeing Danielle Harris and Donald Pleasence in various flicks I didn't even know they were in.

Danielle Harris popped up as a kid in two flicks about dads she doesn't really like who get into some crazy situations. First up, I watched a movie called Back to Back (1996) starring her and Michael Rooker (who I've only seen in Mallrats, he looks kinda funny with hair). Oh, Bobcat Goldthwait is in it too and is super annoying, but don't worry, he gets blown up pretty good.

Back to Back is not a good movie. It's not altogether bad, it's just kind of unremarkable. Rooker and Harris get kidnapped by this Asian guy who has a score to settle with someone for some reason, so he escapes from a police station and blah blah blah. I guarantee you've seen this kind of movie before done better. But, if you're like me and you're looking for something to watch on Netflix Instant, you can probably do worse.

Harris also appeared as the angry daughter in The Last Boy Scout (1991). I'll be honest, I wasn't all that interested in the movie and still haven't finished it from early last week (I had pretty bad luck picking movies as I'm sure I'll get to in further detail in upcoming posts). I'm sure there's some good stuff in there, I just need to finish it out. Thanks to this commute, though, it'll be rough. Anyone want to give me one of those plug-in internet things? I'd greatly appreciate it and even plug the heck outta you, for what it's worth.

On the Donald Pleasence front, I peeped him in two movies as well, first up the Sean Connery James Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967). In it, Pleasence plays Blofeld, the big villain for the early Bond flicks. Pleasence was the first guy to play Blofeld in person (you saw him petting his cat a lot and feeding fish before this) and boy does he look crazy nutso, but in a good way. It's pretty clear that Donnie here was the inspiration for Dr. Evil in Austin Powers (down to the suit and even some of the mannerisms).

Pleasence also appeared in the 1979 version of Dracula starring SkeletorNixon himself Frank Langella as Drac. I read about the movie on Horror Movie A Day and thought it sounded pretty good. I was bored to tears for most of it, but Pleasence played a mental institute-running Dr. Jack Seward. He didn't do much but be a dad for the parts I saw (this was another movie I couldn't get through, even being a captive audience on a train. Ah well, you can't go wrong with crazy Pleasance, though he still, in my opinion, never topped the upper echelon's of crazy-old-guy he reached in Halloween 6.

Oh, DO go on.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Live Blogging From Russia With Love (1963)

For Christmas I bought my dad and I the complete James Bond Box Set (up to that time at least, it doesn't have Quantum of Solace in it, which I still haven't seen yet). Dad and I used to rent various Bond movies and we'd always enjoy watching when (I think) TNT would do their Bond marathons. So, like with Saturday Night Live, I'm a fan because of that, but also because these are some of the craziest, coolest, most over the top and gadget filled movies of all time and, of course, I love all that stuff.

So, without further ado, let's jump into From Russia With Love, the 2nd Bond movie, and, of course, stars Sean Connery.

*I don't think I've ever seen this one all the way through.

*You can't take Bond out that easily...oh, okay.

*Can't go wrong with projecting the credits onto hot lady parts.

*Looks fantastic on this TV.

*Hehe, I like the gigantic chess board so people in the crowd can watch. I can't think of a more boring "sport" to watch.

*Message in the water glass, nice way to get your point across. Oh man, I thought he'd have to throw the game, but he put that nerd DOWN! WHAT WHAT!

*Blofeld? Yup. How can such an evil man have such an adorable kitty? Unfortunately, the cat is almost always looking at the camera, very unprofessional.

*Nice, they referenced the previous movie.

*Why HELLO there sun bathing beauty. Yeah, you better take off your skirt and blouse to massage that guy on the blanket outside.

*Dude, SPECTRE has their own island? Jealous.

*Hot damn, I love a good "walking through a training/testing area" shot and no one does it better than Bond filmmakers.

*Woah, that is a tiny towel Mr. Badguy. He totally passes the "get punched in the gut with brass knuckles by a creepy old woman" test.

*Blondy likes Klebb's riding crop me thinks.

*We still haven't seen the real Bond yet. Ah, there he is, making out with a hottie in a boat.

*I think Moneypenny would do a threeway with James and any other broad.

*Q!!! With the super briefcase (gun, knife, sniper rifle, gold, tear gas and a secret way of opening). Score!

*Invoking the title! By writing it on a picture no less.

*Who's this goober in a mustache and beret?

*They're trying to bug him, but you can't fool James Bond. Fools.

*Wowzers, who is THAT? Woman in orange. The 60s were awesome!

*Underground river? Super cool.

*Gypsy's know how to party. Gypsy cat fight? Hahaha, awesome.

*Who's the blonde guy with the mustache? Why are people attacking the gypsies? I should be paying better attention.

*Bond asks to stop the girl fight? WHAT? Oh, he gets to decide, so I assume he boned them both. Yup.

*"Oh James will you make love to me every day in England?" "All day and all night."

*Aw, the funny guy died.

*No, James, that's the bad guy!

*See, I think Bond should be a much more formidable foe.

*Heh, he's gonna get gassed!

*Cool train fight.

*You can't take the real Bond out like you did in the beginning you punk!

*Klebb's back-up plan was to kill Bond with a shoe-knife? Seriously?

*James Bond is a literer AND he did that stupid wave.

Oh, DO go on.

Don't Worry, I'm Back

Hey Gang, I'm sure some of you were wondering where I disappeared to since my last post on Thursday. Well, I went back home to Toledo for my cousin Bryan's wedding (to Megan, the latest addition to the Dietsch clan, welcome!). It was a lot of fun seeing family I hadn't seen for quite awhile and finally being able to tell people I actually work in NYC now (for YEARS, I had to explain that I did not work in the city and did not actually make comic books, oi). After that we spent some time at my parents' cottage where we saw some of those same family members again and we got visits from some friends from home. It was great seeing everyone and getting the chance to relax sans internet, but I'm back (though my laptop doesn't seem to have faired so well thanks to the trip, I'm hoping the Mac Geniuses can fix it).

Anyway, I'm back, look for new posts soon (like in 5 minutes).

(This post does not go on, for the record)
Oh, DO go on.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dapper Dan Is Awesome

I recently received a critique saying I used the word "awesome" too much. While that may be, I'm not gonna stop, especially when I come across an artists like Dapper Dan whose pop culture-inspired art blows me away so thoroughly.

Thanks to a post on /Film about his recent Back to the Future piece, I found my way to Dapper Dan's Deviant Art page and spent a good deal of the day going through it. I'm a big fan of artists who take the time to create pieces of art using their favorite characters from comics, TV, movies, video games and anything else (especially if they're all thrown together). Between his page and Gallery1988, I've got plenty to pour over.

But if you're too lazy to click over to the link, feel free to browse his images in the gallery below, though these are only a few of his albums and you're definitely missing out if you don't check everything out.

Here's his DC album.

And here's his Ghostbusters album.

Oh, DO go on.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Season Premier: Glee (kinda)

So, now that just about everything we watch has season finaled, Em and I were pretty excited to see an ad for a new show called Glee on Fox that premiered after American Idol last night. Well, we tuned in, but it turns out it wasn't really a season premiere.

Well, I guess technically it was because it's the first episode of a season, but the actual weekly show doesn't start until the fall. I can understand wanting to get as many of those American Idol viewers as you can, but is it wise to show this thing and then wait for three months? Will people even remember it? I dunno.

I liked a good deal of the show. The premise is this teacher who used to be in the glee club starts it back up or takes it over or something, getting a rag tag group of outcasts together who sing like champs (even though they look different!). He's also married to a character I hated by her second scene and has Charlie the Waitress from Heroes (hey, I used to like the show before I hated it) who is super cute and obviously a better choice for him as a mate.

Here's the problem with the show. I'm bored with the above premise of the cool guy being with a crappy girl while there's a much cooler girl right there. It's one thing if it's in a movie where you know things will get better (or not) within an hour or two, but here you have no idea how long it'll last. Will it be a Niles and Daphne situation? A Ross and Rachel? I'm good on that, thanks.

I also wasn't very impressed with the background characters, especially the d-bag football players. There's one dude on the team who's also in the glee club and, of COURSE, his teammates (who also pick on the other geeks in the glee club) give him a hard time about it. The thing is, these guys just come off as one dimensional, overly-threatening menaces. I'm not sure what it was, but these guys felt like actual bad dudes because they never did anything okay.

Now, I know it's maybe not fair to judge an entire show based on one hour of television, but that's what they want us to do right? That's the whole point of this early, early viewing. That's another problem, the show should be (and hopefully will be) just a half hour.

All that being said, it did have it's good parts. I liked all of the main cast, including the glee club weirdos, Jane Lynch and Stephen Tobolowsky. And, of course, the song numbers were pretty sick. I liked the rival team's rendition of "Rehab" and then, of course, Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" at the end was rad. It was good enough to get me to come back in the fall (if I remember AND it's not opposite something we regularly watch).

Haha, oh, that reminds me of one other thing that left me scratching my head. They did a "next time on Glee" kind of thing the previews the season or whatever where they completely SPOILED what seems like a major plot point. SPOILER. One of the problems in the pilot is that the main guy's wife (who, remember, I hate as a character) is pregnant. Well, she's a shady lady so I figured something was up. Well, if you saw the "next time" thing, you know that she's not really pregnant, but having a Hysterical pregnancy. I kind of think they threw it in to be like "Hey, he might not be with her forever!" Eh.

OH! It also takes place in Ohio, so it gets points for that. I can't quite place where they are, though they say that Arkon is south and they're near Carmel. I think that's near Cleveland? I dunno, until proven otherwise, I'm gonna say it's Toledo. Yeah Toledo!

Oh, DO go on.

I Am So Psyched For The Hangover

For me, the current wave of awesome comedy flicks didn't start with Judd Apatow (though much respect him as he's done most of the heavy lifting). No, comedy started getting awesome for me again (like the previous golden age thanks to the National Lampoon/SNL/SCTV folks in the late 70s and early 80s that I grew up on) in 2003 with the release of Old School, which I've talked about before.

Well, Todd Phillips, the mastermind behind Old School, along with Road Trip (2000), Starsky & Hutch (2004) and School for Scoundrels (2006) which I didn't love, has a new movie coming out soon called The Hangover about three dudes (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis) who wake up Dude Where's My Car-style in Vegas missing the their buddy the groom. You know what else it has? Mike Tyson and Phil Collins together! (kinda). I laughed so hard the very first time I saw the first trailer, I almost couldn't stop. i then showed it to everyone int he office and laughed as much every time. It's the one with Tyson punching a dude, amazing. Well, I'm so enthused about this flick I thought I'd provide you with every trailer I could find with a basic search on YouTube. Enjoy!

Haha, of course, I write this whole thing only to find that most of the trailers on YouTube have had embedding turned off. Well, here's the one I could find, check for links below.




Oh, DO go on.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci Are Awesome!

Damn, these guys are awesome. For those of you who might not know, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are the screenwriters behind Transformers, it's upcoming sequel (which I'm very excited about), The Legend of Zorro, Mission Impossible III, Fringe, Star Trek and The Island, the last two I watched recently.

Right off the bat, I've got to admit that I don't really remember Legend of Zorro or MI3, so I can't speak to their ability writing those or for shows like Xena, Hercules, Jack Of All Trades and Alias, but everything else I've seen that they're written has been rad. As you might have noticed, Kurtzman and Orci have a history of working with producer, writer and director extraordinaire J.J. Abrams (Alias, Fringe and Trek). Not shabby company to keep if you ask me.

What I love about these guys is how thoroughly they think through genre stories that, a few years ago, would have probably been tossed to guys who were just looking to get a paycheck. Transformers didn't have to be a good movie (and many of you might disagree with me on this), but it was. It was also full of crazy fun action scenes. Aside from the incredible stories you see on the screen, I've heard a number of interviews with the writing duo thanks to the Creative Screenwriting Podcast. Most recently I listened to the Star Trek one and it blew me away at how well they were able to address and answer logically many of the geek and logic-based questions. A few holes in the movie were filled in the original writing stage, but were later cut and there's all kinds of other information they have to offer in these interviews. I highly recommend them.

Like I said, I watched The Island (2005) and Star Trek (2009) last week. I'm thinking of going back and listening to the Island podcast interview actually because I'm curious to hear what they have to say about their first original movie, which ended up getting directed by Michael Bay (who I've gone on record as loving). The Island is a very cool movie though it seems at first to have a ton of plot holes (how do they go from naive teenage-level beings to pulling off this crazy scheme?). But, the more I think about the various apparent holes, the more I can explain them. Ewan McGregor's character is growing memories right? So maybe he's growing a few character traits here and there. It's these kinds of questions I think would be addressed in the podcast, which I will, now that I think about it, definitely be downloading from iTunes tomorrow.

What I do know just from watching the movie without any background is that it was clearly influenced by some of the classic 70s sci-fi flicks I watched back in January. It was fun watching the movie, kind of knowing what the twist was, but not really knowing how completely it would flip. SPOILER: I knew they were clones, but I didn't know the details, like that they were living in a complex created by someone who saw Logan's Run a time or two too many. Even knowing what I knew, I still couldn't figure how it would be revealed, so that's a testament to the writing.

I definitely recommend The Island to anyone. It's got the assumed Michael Bay chases and explosions. Even a car chase with a truck dropping big scary things while being chased by a smaller vehicle (cars in Bad Boys II, train wheels here). Plus you get McGregor, Djimon Hounsou, Sean Bean and Steve Buscemi who are always good, and Scarlett Johansson who's at least nice to look at. Plus if you like their later movies, I think it's always cool to go back and see how they broke into the movie business.

So, from their first to their latest, I have to throw my hat in with just about everyone else in the world and say I really dug Star Trek. I didn't come out of it feeling like I did when I left Iron Man (PUMPED!), but I still really enjoyed it. It might be because I'm not a Star Trek fan. Before trying to tackle the Original Series this past year, I had seen only a handful of episodes from any of the series' (that one episode of DS9 where they Tag and Bink their way through the Tribble episode) and the movies starring the original cast. I knew the basics, it's hard not to when you've worked for some of the geekiest magazines in the world (don't forget, I was in the research department while InQuest was still around). But, even not knowing much, I had no problem watching this flick, which was great, but I still got some of the nods to past stories.

I appreciate the amount of thought that Kurtzman and Orci along with director J.J. Abrams and producer Damon Lindelof put into this epic story, especially the way they made everything you know still make sense while starting this new continuity. Honestly, I really wish this cast would get together and just do a TV series. How cool would that be? Just forget about Heroes (I dislike that show so much that I actually wanted to hate Zachary Quinto as Spock, but he was so damn good I just couldn't) and fly Simon Pegg and John Cho in between movie roles and get that DONE!

Also, how cool was that drill scene? I started laughing as soon as the guy in the red suit showed up while Sulu and Kirk were wearing different colors. Em asked me what I was laughing at and I whispered "That guy's gonna die." She asked me how I knew and I told her just to watch and, man, they did NOT disappoint with that moment. Even better, though, was how Sulu and Kirk handled themselves given a crappy situation. I love how Chris Pine perfectly embodies that "never say die no matter how bad things look" mentality. Obviously, I'd like to see everyone return for a sequel, but I really hope Pine does a superhero movie. He could do justice to a bunch of heroes.

So, next up from Kurtzman and Orci will be Transformers: Rise of the Fallen and the last two episodes of Fringe that I missed and I'm pretty psyched about both.

Oh, DO go on.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Seanson Finales: How I Met Your Mother

So, as Ben so astutely pointed out last week, this week actually had the How I Met Your Mother season finale (hey, we all make mistakes, right?).

So, we got the full cast back for the season finale which actually didn't deal with Ted's search/discovery of his future childrens' mother, but on the other characters. We had Barney and Robin dealing with their potentially budding relationship, Ted trying to design a BBQ restaurant, Marshall wanting to take a literal leap of faith, Ted fighting a goat and, most importantly, Ted deciding to take on a new career, a career we are promised will lead directly to meeting the woman he will marry.

I liked the season finale because I like all these characters (Marshall really got to shine in my opinion) and it even referred back to its own continuity (the goat and Ted's birthday). I do feel a little peeved at the fact that we're kind of left at the same place we were last season. Last season they showed us that Ted's future wife would be sporting a yellow umbrella like his. Then we got teased with Stella coming back, but she doesn't have the right umbrella. So now, we end another season by showing us a big space and telling us that the mother is in the group.

It's not a huge deal, and like I said I really like the show, but I hope they actually introduce the mother early next season. I've talked to some people who say that that will be the end of the show, but come on, it's just the basic premise and that can change. As a fan, I'd have no problem watching Ted and his future wife go through all the bullshit that couples do, especially if the writing stays consistent and we get to see even more development with all the characters. I've got faith because I think these guys put on a really good, well-thought-out show. In a weird way, it's actually kind of like Lost because you're got these interesting ways of telling a story and playing with structure telling a long-term story with an end goal in mind that will take some twists and turns along the way, while always remember where it came from. Good stuff.

Oh, DO go on.

Season Finales: SNL

I'm still going to stand by my claims last week that Justin Timberlake's episode was the best of the season, but Will Ferrell's season finale was pretty rad too (plus, I love Green Day). I really like the amount of skits that involved most/all of the cast in one way or another, plus there were an amazing amount of random guest stars (like Amy Poehler coming back for update), though you don't get a good sense of that from these clips. I realize half way through the episode that there's a difference between your average host and a returning cast member hosting. Sure some of the celeb hosts who host a bunch have a character or two I like to see again, but with a returning cast member, you're never quite sure what favorite characters you'll see come back. Well, here's the Hulu clips. I do wish there were a few more, as I fell asleep before the last skit and completely missed it, but you work with what you have.

Another good monologue, but what's with the scarf?

How can you not like the Celebrity Jeopardy skits? Especially with Tom Hanks as himself and another very special guest I talked about last week.

This was a pretty weird skit about a funeral, but it got almost everyone involved.

I don't know anything about the Lawrence Welk Show, but this got some laughs.

Of all of Will Ferrell's characters, Harry Carry is the last one I expected to see again.

Oh, DO go on.

The Sexiest Sub Commercial Ever?

I saw this version of this commercial late one night and was pretty surprised at how sexy is was. It was about the same time I saw the lady-trimming commercial. Later Em asked me about it but there's a different version on TV that, I think, lacks the "put it in me" part. Just watch. You'll laugh. And maybe get turned on.

Oh, DO go on.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

King's Crew: The Monkey

Around the time The Mist movie came out, I decided to pick up Stephen King's short story book Skeleton Crew. I got through The Mist and then read the next story Here There By Tygers before putting the book down for quite a while. Well, thanks to my commute, I've got a lot more time to read and decided to pick Skeleton Crew back up.

I read The Monkey yesterday during the trip and it was pretty good, though it definitely felt like I had seen this kind of story before (though, never read it). It's your basic "killer/crazy toy/doll story." The main difference is that, the way King tells the story, I was constantly wondering if Hal, the main character, was crazy or if these things were really happening.

The story is that Hal and his family go to his aunt's house to clean it out after she dies and he finds the toy monkey that terrorized him as a kid and that he also threw down a well as a child. Only Hal ever heard the monkey clang his cymbals together and its voice in his head threatening to kill him and his family members. The thing is, though, that the monkey tends to be right on the money. As an adult, Hal's boys find the monkey and he's worried that the cycle will start over again.

Like I said, the story feels very familiar and I wasn't sure if Hal was crazy until it turned out that one of his sons hears the same things in his head too. After that, the end is pretty intense and worth the nearly 40 pages of story. It's not the best thing of King's I've read or even the best thing in this book (The Mist was awesome), but I'm hoping that the stories will only get better from here. My main complaint with the story would be that it feels overly long and may have a little too much packed in. I get that King wants me to think Hal's crazy because he lost his job and knocks his other son around a bit and his wife pops pills, but it just felt a bit long for what it was considering I was just waiting for the finale the whole time. Kinda like watching Bullit all over again.

Oh, also, I thought that the movie Monkey Shines was based on this story because of the poster, but Alex tells me it's not. Apparently the movie has a real monkey. Who knew?

Oh, DO go on.

Lords of Dogtown (2005) ... Is Awesome!

So, as some of you know, my job recently moved into NYC. As a result I've got a couple hours on the train every day to get to work, which means I've got time for reading and watching movies. It's nice to have something to do, but it also means I'm watching a movie in pieces instead of all at once. The first movie I watched like this was Lords of Dogtown.

Man, this was a rad movie. It took a while to watch the whole thing, but the great thing about the movie is that, even watching it that way, it was still crazy fun, engaging as hell and hit me in the guts at the end.

LOD is a biopic about a group of kids who were skating back in the 70s and went on to become a pretty big deal in the skateboarding world. It stars Emile Hirsch, some other kids who I hadn't heard of but were AWESOME, Rebecca De Mornay as Hirsch's strung-out mom, Heath Ledger as the surf and skate shop owner and Ethan from Lost as De Mornay's one-time boyfriend.

The kids start off just skating in their neighborhood, join up with Ledger's skate crew, getting big in the skate world then getting drawn on to bigger companies to skate for.

The crazy thing about the movie is that, I recognized Ledger early in the movie when he was surfing and then didn't realize it was him as the surf shop owner because he really gives himself up to the character. I really thought it was another guy because he puts on this great Cali-dude voice. Ledger's character isn't the center of attention by any means, but he's the character I felt for the most. He helps them out, sponsors their team, gets them into the game and then everyone bails on him for bigger and better (or, well, less and close-to-nothing).

So, on to the actual stars of the movie. I really like all these kids, even when they're being unlikable (a true testament to their abilities). Hirsch really shines as the troubled kid from a bad place who slowly slips into what appears to be the life of a gangster after walking away from pro skating.

I realize I'm not capturing how much I liked this movie or how good it really is, but I think what I liked about the movie is that it was real and, even though it kind of followed the biopic pattern of small time guys getting big and then burning out, there's a huge glimmer of hope at the end of the flick, well, for most of the characters. And, as a plus, unlike most biopics, everyone isn't dead at the very end.

Seriously, if you've ever liked Emile Hirsch or Heath Ledger in a flick or have any interest in skating or 70s period pieces or just damn good acting, you should definitely check Lords of Dogtown out. I'm looking forward to seeing the documentary it was based on Dogtown and Z-Boys.

Oh, DO go on.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Live Blogging Dennis Hopper's Space Truckers (1996)

Inspired by the Dennis Hopper list I already mentioned for Topless Robot, I just had to watch all of Space Truckers. It's definitely ridiculous and (I'm hoping) tongue-in-cheek, but worth a look, especially if you're drinking with your buddies.

*30 seconds in and the effects are already more convincing than Spirit.

*Pretty good killer robot attack scene.

*"You astonish me." [Heh, I have NO idea what this refers to.]

*Ooh, double cross.

*It really is a space truck, looks like a Transformer.

*Zero grav mustarad and hot dog, that's goofy but a great way to apply condiments.

*Hauling Square Pigs.

*The space truck chair looks like an amusement park ride.

*Magnetic floor, extra arms, they really had fun with this. He looks like Doc Ock.

*Yup, those are square-ass pigs, probably have space pig flu.

*"That's not how you throw a punch in zero gravity, this is the recommended technique."

*Stephen Dorf and Debbi Mazar (Empire Records!!!!)

*Even with all these space effects, they can't make it look like George Wendt is punching Hopper

*Space bar brawl!

*Bathroom lady robot secret passage - crazy.

*Anti grav lingerie!

*His computer sounds like annie potts

*"It's black rock!" - Lost tie-in!!!

*Zero g strip "tease" - looks ridiculous.

*Boarded by pirates.

*"Is he talking about my dick?"

*"Is this your dick?" "No." "That one's mine." - weird.

*Woah, this guy's a crazy cyborg with a cyborg butt, he looks kind of like Metallo.

*Haha, pull cord penis like lawn mower.

*Everyone on the crew is gonna bone Debbi? Ew.

*They're spending a LOT of time being captured.

*The killer robot is a dick! and he looks kinda like ROM.

*How are there 30 minutes left? I'm already sleepy-drunk.

*The robot activation scene actually looks pretty cool.

*His plan is to actually crash the truck full of killer robots onto planet Earth hoping the reentry will fry them? Not a great plan Dennis.

*Oh okay, he could parachute to safety, no worries.

*And the president of the world old guy? It seemed like they were making a big deal of him, but I don't recognize the guy.

Oh, DO go on.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Series Finales: Thursday Comedy

As you all know, I'm a big fan of NBC's Thursday comedy line-up (well, everything but Parks and Recreation). Well, I was pretty happy with the season finales for My Name Is Earl, The Office, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock.

My Name Is Earl had some pretty obvious twists when it came to the end of the episode (Em called both of them), but I freaking love Norm MacDonald so that was awesome. It even makes up for the fact that they pulled MONKEEa Lost and are making us wait the summer to find out who's kid is whose.

Parks and Recreation was okay. There was some stuff with Leslie and Mark, but it ended up just being weird. I do like seeing her let loose, go the club and try to break a bottle in the pit, but I'm hoping that it carries over into next season (if there is one). As it is, I think I like Kath and Kim better on a week-to-week basis, but I don't necessarily want to see either show get canceled.

The Office was epic on all kinds of levels. When you start off with Dwight making that horse doctor joke, then follow up with reuniting Michael and Holly, THEN kick things up with a pretty hardcore volleyball game and THEN end with SPOILER Pam being preggo! Oh snap. Plus, you've got Dwight's friend giving Angela shit for being a cheater, Charles vs. Jim on the court and Dwight and Jim actually hugging! Oh and the super awkward moments between Michael and Holly on and off the stage, all of which culminates in Michael's heartbreaking view of his relationship with her through the lens of When Harry Met Sally. Ugh, awesome.

And of course, 30 Rock kicked ass. Again. As always. There were too many awesome moments for me to actually make note of them all, but I LOVED all the musician references. We got Liz being selfish, another good Kenneth and Tracy story and Jack being Jack. Here are the high point notes I took:

*"Fruit Blindness!"

*Tracy watching fake rain, awesome.

*"Suburban 7th graders have more sexual experience than you." - Jack.

*"What do you think this is, Wings?" - Jack.

*Elvis vs. Clay.

*MJB is hilarious, Loch Ness Monster Charity!

*Clay is Kenneth's cousin, awesome!

*"7th hour of the today show." - Cerie.

*"S that D, Shut it Down." - Liz, my favorite recurring quote.

*Tracey's speech is awesome.

*"Okay but I'm allergic to horses." - Tracy

*"Sit down Quiznos in Midtown?" - Liz

*The Beastie Boys are jerks.

*Oh man, I want to see the spin off of Tracy, Kenneth, Dot Com and Grizz in college!

*5 seconds in and the song is awesome.

*"We sure had quite a year." - Liz "What are you talking about, it's May." - Jack. Great ending. Great song. Great show.

Oh, DO go on.

Season Finales: Lost

I'm sure most of you Lost fans have checked out the episode by now along with plenty of blogs, like Sean's, and websites like Lostpedia but, if you're like me, you're still not sick of talking about it.

I loved the season finale, even though it killed my theory (I hope) and I'm not really sure how I feel about Jack and Juliet using their relationships as a reason to blow up the island. But I think what the creators were trying to show is how far gone Jack is. Or maybe not, we shall see.

I also liked the Jack/Sawyer fight, hopefully they got it out of their system, though it got dirtier than I expected.

Also, how cool was is that Ben got played? I'm operating under the assumption that Fake Locke is either the smoke monster (and thus the guy in the black shirt from the beginning) or in league with him. So, what you had was the smoke monster as Ghost Alex telling Ben to listen to Ghost Locke (possibly the same person/thing). On top of that Ben reveals he's not as with-it as he seemed when it comes to the island. Of course, all this raises even more questions, like what was the deal when Locke and Ben were in the cabin and what kind of relationship did Ben have with the smoke monster before this? And a bunch more of course.

Hopefully you checked out Sean's blog that I linked to above. It's a great read, but one thing I do have to disagree with him on is that I will never get sick of that "car out of nowhere" scene, even when it's super obvious (like it was last night). It was almost as good as seeing Locke falling from the building behind Jacob (which I called as soon as we saw Jacob sitting thing, though I have no idea why). Speaking of calling it, I gotta give huge props to Em for realizing that Locke was in the box.

Finally, the black text on white background was awesome and obviously deliberate. I wonder if it means things will get flipped. The two big schools of thought I've encountered are that 1) the people in the past succeeded in changing things and will be starting over in the first season (or another earlier time period) or 2) the pasties (heh, just came up with that) will be reunited with the current folks and we'll see a fight for the "soul" of the island. I'm hoping for the latter, because I think it'll offer up more answers than the former.

Damn, January seems really far away. I'm thinking of rewatching the previous seasons this summer to see how the story flows as one big piece to get ready for the final season.

Oh, DO go on.

I'm On Topless Robot

Hey gang, I just got my first list feature posted over at Topless Robot. It'll hopefully be the first of many (as soon as I figure a few more out). It's called Dennis Hopper's 10 Most Questionable Movie Roles and it was a lot of fun to put together.
Oh, DO go on.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Jason Alexander's Awesome 80s McDonalds Commercial

It's no The Burning, but you gotta love a young Jason Alexander dancing around advertising a new kind of burger container.

Oh, DO go on.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Halloween Scene: Halloween (2007)

I've been avoiding Rob Zombie's Halloween reinterpretation for a while now. When I first heard that Halloween was being remade I was skeptical to say the least. This is one of my all time favorite horror movies and probably on most other horror fans' top 10 (at least). It's a near perfect movie. So, why remake it? If anything, why not make a new sequel?

After it came out I didn't hear any good things and figured it'd be best if I just left it alone. So, why did I watch it? It was in my house. It was sitting around for a while before I finally popped it in the old DVD player and was not impressed.

I'm not going to say that Halloween is a bad movie, but I will say that it seems to completely miss the mark on Michael Myers as a character and what makes something really scary. I know I'm not the first person to say that I don't need to see Michael Myers' crappy life to understand why he's a psycho killer. What exactly is that point of showing us SO much of Mike's childhood? All it does is kind of make us feel bad for him. But only kind of because that kid they got to play young Michael is way creepy. Just get to him being a huge killer killing people already. To paraphrase Patton Oswalt, I don't need to see where the things I like come from, I just like them.

I'm going to switch over to my Live Blogging notes from here on out. To be fair, I was much harder on this movie than I would have been on a movie called Hallows Eve or something else, but hey, that's what you get for recreating the BEST HORROR MOVIE EVER! Most complaints are in reference to the original movie.

*Oh, he has a shitty life? Thanks, I get it.

*Little Michael looks like a girl, he's also too old.

*The bully looks like Shia.

*The principal looks like a zombie.

*Haha, now they're saying Loomis was around before Michael went crazy? Ugh.

*The point of Michael Myers is that he's just pure evil, showing him as an abused child (even a crazy one who kills animals) elicits at least a little sympathy. Also, I like the Michael just snaps in the original, it's not a decline into madness it's an elevator plummeting into the depths of hell.

*How is the bully letting himself get beat to death? Just get up! In real life, I feel like he's try and get up.

*The blood looks like chocolate syrup.

*Why is his mom with that ass? I get making him a jerk, but seriously, what's the point? There's no explanation.

*Yeah, I get it, it's the 70s, play something that ISN'T on the Dazed and Confused soundtrack. "Love Hurts"? Are you kididng me?

*Her boyfriend's a douche "I want to do it with the mask on." The MICHAEL MYERS mask? Ugh.

*Slits that mean bastard's throat after taping him up. Pretty smart move for a kid.

*So, the boyfriend (steve) either is done banging the sister or is kicked out so he goes downstairs to make a sandwhich.

*Oh look, he's hitting someone to death again. Inspired.

*Sis is next.

*Oh, also, killing everyone you know because you couldn't go trick or treating is STUPID. this makes Michael seem like a bitch.

*Oh wow, he put on the MICHAEL MYERS mask. How prophetic. Blarg.

*Hey look, the baby we haven't seen since the first scene. Will he kill her? OF COURSE NOT! Way to have no dramatic tension whatsoever. The people die in the exact order you think they would.

*Is that what an actual 10 year old looks like? I really have no idea. He seems older.

*So, he's a normal-ish kid now in the asylum? Ha, and he's oblivious. Perfect.

*Doesn't remember what he did? Ugh. I hate this kid.

*YEAH, DANNY TREJO!!! Best interview I ever did.

*Danny tells him to live inside his head...wonder where THIS is going. CRAZY TOWN.

*He's making masks. One of which is clearly Leatherface.

*HE'S SUPPOSED TO BE SILENT AFTER GOING TO THE INSTITUTION!!!!!! [I could definitely be wrong on this one, but I was not liking this movie pretty intensely at this point.]

*Woah, that nurse is a bitch. Also, probably dead soon.

*Oh no, the mom wants to kill herself. WHO CARES?!

*Old Danny Trejo!

*Why would they let him make all these masks?

*Tyler Mane DOES strike an imposing figure.

*Loomis isn't supposed to LIKE Michael.

*Of course, the redneck guards are rapists.

*Why would you f**k with a GIANT?

*Michael just kills everyone now?

*The scene between Michael and Danny is tense (will he attack or won't he?). Yeah, of course he does because this movie's soulless.

*Why does Michael keep pulling Danny out of the water if he's trying to kill him? A real murderer wouldn't do that, it's movie bullshit. Or he just wanted to smash him with a TV.

*Why does he zero in on this dude in the bathroom? There were a half dozen guys out there.

*Hey another knife kill. Wow.

*How is the jumpsuit not covered in blood?

*So, Laurie's a crazy bitch? Awesome. [Introducing good girl Laurie with a lewd bagel/sex dance is a poor decision, first impressions and all that.]

*As if it needs to be said, we spend WAY too much time with Michael.

*How/when did he hide that knife and mask under the floorboards?

*DANIELLE HARRIS!!! I should have gotten an autograph when I saw her at Big Apple Con a few years back.

*Now they're saying she's Mother Teresa? After her weird bagel dance? Doesn't jive folks.

*"Just keep the monkeyhouse locked until the monkey dies of old age." - Loomis. This is great casting. I want to see him in a Halloween 6 remake, completely bat shit crazy.

*The girls are yelling shit at Michael. Why doesn't he just kill them right there? That's what this Michael would do.

*I'm still upset about the whole bagel thing too, mom.

*Micheal's just walking down the freaking street! What happened to his stealthiness?

*Sid Haig, of course. I'm actually not afraid of him though for once.

*Why the heck are there title cards like "Trick or Treat?" After telling me it's Hoddonfield and Halloween are these necessary?

*Haha, they party in the Myers house. Not a bad touch actually. Except he's standing right there on the balcony!

*Michael's killing yet another dude post coitus. A dude who wore a disguise of some kind. Yawn.

*Why do I recognize the gun store owner? [Can't remember the character's name by The Monkees' Micky Dolenz is in this!]

*Holy crap, he just killed Laurie's parents.

*Danielle vs. Michael, round 4, FIGHT!

*Cop's face against the dooor as he gets stabbed looks pretty cool.

*Blah blah blah.

*He's dead. Of course he's not.

*Loomis: "What the hell?!" That's a great line.

*Blah blah blah, she's in the ceiling, they both go off the balcony.

*Empty that gun in his FACE! Aw, out of bullets. Of course. You should really check that ahead of time.

*Ken Foree was in this? Oh the dude in the truck stop.

*If it wasn't called Halloween I think I'd be okay with it. You just can't redo the classics.

Oh, DO go on.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Season Finales: Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother

Okay, spoiler warning right off the bat for anyone who watches Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother but may not have watched the season finale.

First off, I really dug the Big Bang Theory season finale. Yes, it kind of leaves us in the same place we were last season, though without the geek getting the girl. Better yet, the girl WANTS the geek, but he's gone. My one complaint with BBT is that, at the end of the first season, Leonard and Penny were together, but were split up by the first episode of the second season. It seemed really rushed and strange, but everything else was great this season.

First off, Bazinga should be the new "punk'd." Just saying. Anyway, I like how Penny has been gradually realizing she like Leonard without slapping us in the face with it. I also like how our favorite nerds actually ended up going to the pole, but am worried that they'll have Penny with someone else when they get back after the summer ala Ross, Rachel and Mona (errr, Mona). All in all, a good season with a satisfying season finale, though I hate to see the season end.

With HIMYM, we've been waiting four seasons to find out who the mother will be. I thought last week we'd finally be introduced to her with the whole umbrella thing, but I was enraged to see Stell back. She left him at the freaking alter. It can't be her!

My biggest fear with HIMYM is that they'll pull some hackey "THIS was your mother the whole time" reveal. Also, I hate Stella because she left him at the alter (as I mentioned) and because I hate Scrubs. I was rooting for Ted to stay strong and he did! That's my boy!!!

Also, they said "Murder House!" I don't remember when it started, but Em and I say that about sketchy looking houses and buildings whenever we see them. "Ted you can't design a murder house!!!" made it even better.

A few quick notes of awesomeness: the crazy neighbor lady coming out and saying random stuff, Barney freaking out in prison and the fact that Ted's cell phone ring is Robin's teen pop song. Gotta a love a show with it's own continuity. Plus, Lilly's back!!! (She's been gone for a few weeks because Alyson Hannigan gave birth.) Anyway, hopefully we'll get into the mother meeting for real in season five.

Oh, DO go on.

Best SNL Ever (At Least This Season)

Guys, I've missed well over half of this season of SNL, but last weekend, Justin Timberlake hosted for the third time and it was glorious. I've never been disappointed with a JT episode or cameo and this one may have been the best yet. Ben's the only person I've talked to about the episode, so I'm guessing most of you missed it to. Being the humanitarian I am, I've decided to embed as many SNL clips as I could find on Hulu (minus a few here and there, like the musical guest), so here goes.

Even the monologue was fun, with JT singing and dancing his way through the studio.

I don't usually enjoy the Target Lady skits, but JT in drag made this one a winner.

This might be the best "Come on down to BLANK-ville" mascot face off skit yet. Plus, boob jokes!

JT pokes fun at himself in an Immigrant Tale.

The hilarious sequel to JT and Andy Samberg's "Dick In A Box" digital short. "Motherlover" rocks.

If your mom is like mine and has called Aerosmith Aerostar and Meatloaf Meatball, then you'll laugh your ass off at the Mom Celebrity Translator like I did.

And finally (because I didn't find the Barry Gibb Talk Show all the entertaining, though big props for getting Jimmy Fallon to come back as a guest and not ALL of the skits have been posted) two Weekend Update exceprts. One is about Trekkies starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy and the other pokes fun at the current and former Governors of NY (and New Jersey).

Oh, DO go on.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Big Lost "What If?"

A CRAZY thought crossed my mind last week while watching Lost. Hit the jump for more and consider this your spoiler warning.

Okay, so Faraday has this crazy theory that blowing up an atomic bomb on the island in the past will stop the survivors from crashing on the island in the future, right? Well, what if he's right and Jack succeeds with this crazy plan? What if there isn't really another season and we've been duped?

I'm not saying it's going to happen, but wouldn't that be crazy? Sure there's a time paradox or twelve in there, not the least of which would be, assuming Faraday's mom is still on the island when the bomb goes off, how does Faraday come back in time to figure things out if she dies and he's never born? Interesting.

Just a thought.

Oh, DO go on.

Countdown's Not SO Bad

DC's been losing my interest more and more with their weekly comics over the past few years. 52 combined most of my favorite writers with some really interesting characters (thanks to those writers) into a comic that rocked my world week in and week out. Then Countdown came along and I was with it for about half of the series before giving up. And I've only read one issue of Trinity. I'm super excited about Wednesday Comics though.

I think my biggest problem with Countdown was how much they tried to tie the rest of the DCU into the book. Plus there were just too many stories being spread thinner than maybe they should have. Did the Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding REALLY need to tie-in? How do Superboy Prime and Kyle Rayner fit in here as compared to Sinestro Corps? What the heck was the point of Salvation Run?

Well, to try and answer some of those questions for myself and to give the book a fair shot, I decided to read the stack of Countdown trades I've acquired. I've got the four trades making up the regular series (52 total issues) and then a number of the tie-in books (pretty much everything with Countdown in the title). I wanted to start off with just the main book and see how well it reads on its own.

I'll be honest, it read a lot better than I thought it would. I definitely liked Adam Beechen's issues the best and there was some pretty good art by guys like Scott Kollins, Jim Calafiore, Jamal Igle and Freddie Williams III. Overall, aside from the continuity head-scratchers that people still reference (how did all this tie into Final Crisis exactly?), the story suffers from being too long and seemingly directionless for the first half of its issues. You've got characters like Holly the former Catwoman, a tainted Mary Marvel, Jimmy Olsen, Pied Piper and Trickster and of course Donna Troy, Jason Todd, the Ryan Choi Atom, Kyle Rayner and Bob the Monitor taking a tour of the microverse and then the multiverse. For the most part in the first half of the story, head writer Paul Dini and his crew of Sean McKeever, Tony Bedard, Adam Beechen and Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray do a good job of advancing these various stories (some more successfully than others), but they don't really tie-in for a while (there's also a lot of carry-over problems that lead to pacing issues and small things like the fact that at the end of one issue, Piper and Trickster are falling out of a plane with no bag and in the next, they have Trickster's bag of tricks).

I know a lot of people didn't like Mary Marvel's transformation from goody goody superheroine into badass, evil chick, but reading the whole storyarc in a few days, I actually liked the progression. However, I did not like the turn they gave her towards the end of the book, but what are you gonna do? I also liked the Earth they showed us that Ray Palmer has been hiding out, though the twist right after that felt a little rushed.

Speaking of the main characters, I never really got a sense of Jason Todd's character. I think it's because he kept bouncing between hero and killer and he had been handled so differently by different writers over time, plus I know how (pun intended) Bat-shit crazy he's gotten lately. And, on a final quick character note, as a big fan of Kyle Rayner (he was the GL that got me into that world), I found it annoying that they kept referring to him as someone who shouldn't exist. I get Jason "Wall Punch" Todd and Donna "Been Dead and Back a Bunch" Troy, but what'd Kyle do? It's never explained, he just shows up and is lumped in the the so-called Challengers (a name never actually established in this book, just stamped on at some point). I wonder if they'll ever reference these Challengers as watchers of the Monitors again, but I kind of doubt it.

I've got a few more complaints that I've got to get off my chest. Where the heck did Superboy Prime and Monarch explode to? This may have been addressed since, but I can't remember the events chronologically. I was bummed to see Monarch's awesome army of multiverse evildoers getting taken out so quickly. I was hoping they'd be a bigger part of the story. Also, what the heck is the purpose of the Monitors? We're never told anything more than they watch over their multiverse. Anything else? They seem to be pretty powerful at times, but not at others, what's the deal? Another thing that bugged me was how they just took old Elseworlds stories and made many of those the 52 worlds. Sure, 52 is a pretty big number of worlds, but do you really want to give a whole UNIVERSE to "Batman is a vampire?" Seems like a waste. Related to that, why were we given two full issues showing how one of the Earth's becomes the Jack Kirby-created Kamandi/OMAC world? I actually really, really liked those issues, but what was the point? Especially when they haven't been referenced since (like the rest of the multiverse, sadly).

And finally, I was disappointed in the presentation of the trades. I get that people were over Countdown as soon as the last issue hit, but there could have been an intro or two or even a kind of director's commentary. Worst of all, though, is that there weren't any kind of recaps about what happened outside of the Countdown series. We're not told anything real about Superboy Prime's previous dealings or what happened at Green Arrow and Black Canary's wedding. I'm totally fine with small paragraphs catching people up, they would have been a nice addition, especially when the book was so tied to continuity at the time.

Overall, it kind of feels like the creators either chose the most random characters they could find or were handed them and then asked to create a story. It's not until Keith Giffen gets brought on as story coordinator about halfway through that the stories start coming together and making sense. So, while it feels like a clean-up job, the book definitely takes on new life in the last two trades. There were even genuine moments where I was worried for the characters and pumped my fist when cool stuff happened (especially Red Robin and a Batman jumping into the fray).

If I thought it would make any sense I would suggest just getting the last two trades, but the second volume actually has Giffen's recap issue that kind of sets everything into motion. In the end, you don't really need to know what happened in Countdown to understand the DCU right now (and not reading it will probably keep you away from some questions, especially continuity ones) but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and got through the four volumes reading them on and off over the past five days which says something. If I really disliked it, I wouldn't have been able to finish the books.

So, I won't suggest that you've missed out on something big or that you should even spend the cover price of $19.99 per volume on these bad boys, but if you find them in a cheap trade bin at a con or on Amazon, it might be worth your time to check them out. For me, it definitely helped that I was a few months back from all the craziness of the DCU at the time and agonizing over where the various stories fit in (I AM a continuity nerd after all). Now on to some of the supplemental stuff like the Search for Ray Palmer one-shots, Countdown to Mystery and Adventure, Death of the News Gods and beyond.

Oh, DO go on.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Time Travel Shenanigans

This Sunday was kind of an unusual night now that I think about it. As a complete coincidence I ended up watching three movies that night dealing with time travel in in form or another: Terminator (1984), Primer (2004) and Next (2007). And oddly enough, I watched them in chronological order. Weird.

I actually didn't watch Terminator alone as I usually do with rad movies from the 80s. Thanks to the sick looking trailers for the upcoming Terminator Salvation, Em wanted to check out the Terminator flicks. I had recently added the movie to our Netflix Instant Queue, so we finally checked it out.

The first Terminator movie I ever saw was T2 on TV with my parents. I remember them letting me stay up late and watching the end of the movie in their bedroom. Later, when I got my Family Video membership, I checked out the original and wasn't too impressed. Stupid kid. Even though some of the Arnold masks don't look that great, first off he's a robot and second off it was '84. And damn those exoskeletons and robots look real, even if the stop motion gets a little shaky. Plus, I like to think that Linda Hamilton's crazy hair is a special effect all its own.

[Potential LOST SPOILER coming up if you haven't been watching this season.] It's actually kind of funny that the time travel mechanics are very similar between Terminator and Lost. You've got people heading back in time and affecting the future. Reese heads back and fathers John Connor. He always did that, he just didn't know his role yet. It's the "Whatever happened, happened" idea (which I have to toot my own horn and say I voiced a few weeks before the saying popped up on the show).

From there I went on to finish Primer, a low budget (supposedly made for $7,000) time travel movie that I heard about on both Horror Movie A Day and The Totally Rad Show. I won't pretend like I understood the movie (I had to look it up on Wikipedia to get a better idea of the plot and mechanics), but it made me feel like I did when I was 16 working at Barry's and Drew (whose last name I don't know and haven't seen in almost 10 years now) told me about Reservoir Dogs and The Usual Suspects and then later when I saw Lost Highway and Clerks and some other flicks. Aside from feeling incredibly original and new, Primer showed me you can make an amazing movie that doesn't talk down to its audience. Now, the above-mentioned movies don't seem to have much in common on the surface, but the all showed me different ways of looking at movies, from a story standpoint and general presentation to how much you need to let your audience know.

Primer's beautifully confusing (there's so much jargon and science in there, it'd make my freshman year roommates jump for joy, what's up Bryan and Hatem, you guys especially should check this one out). One piece of advice I'd give anyone trying to watch Primer (and understand it), is, don't drink too many beers and try not to fall asleep halfway through. I fell asleep and then tried watching it a week or so later and had an even hard time remembering the whole story. I can't wait to check it out again.

I will not, however, be watching Nic Cage's Next again. As I've mentioned again and again I have a strange relationship with Nic Cage movies. Sure The Rock and Con Air are awesome, but somewhere along the lines, Cage seemingly went crazy and has been playing a kind of caricature of himself since then. Or has he? Maybe I'm the one that expects him to be crazy (there's good crazy like in the National Treasure movies which I love and bad crazy like the amazing Whicker Man YouTube video).

Well, the last two Cage movies I've watched from the past few years (Next and Bangkok Dangerous) have just been boring. Even Cage's craziness can't save a fairly boring movie with some really bad CGI effects that breaks my cardinal sin of storytelling: don't make everything I've just seen pointless, even if it is a tale of what could happen.

You might be wondering how this fits in with the time travel theme and it kind of doesn't. But it kid of does, because, as Cage explains early in the movie, he can see a few minutes into his own future and just by seeing the future you're changing it. Sure, it's a tenuous connection at best, but it's there.

Now I've just got to get Em to watch T2 which I have on DVD. But the last time I tried watching it, I wanted to rip Edward Furlong's squeaky vocal chords out of his throat and feed them to the T-1000. Ah well, I'm sure I'm a lot more mature now (eh, not really, this was only a few months ago). Also, I might mine these flicks for a Live Blog post or two as I took copious notes.

Oh, DO go on.

Trailer Time: Community and ... Dance Flick?

Usually, trailers give me way more than I want. I don't want to see too many details and scenes, especially important ones that give away too much of the movie. The ad campaigns that really did their job as far as hooking me as someone who didn't really care at first, but got me more and more excited as the release date got closer and closer were Transformers, Iron Man and the upcoming Star Trek and Terminator Salvation. But then, sometimes trailers come up and surprise you for one reason or another.

Sometimes a trailer surprises you because you had no idea it was even int he works. I'm not the most connected guy when it comes to Hollywood news, but I like to think I stay pretty current on what's coming out. Well, I was completely surprised when NBC posted the following trailer for an upcoming show called Community starring Joel Mchale and Chevy Chase (yes, FLETCH!!!) and produced, directed or created by someone involved in Arrested Development. Assuming Mchale stays on as the host of The Soup, I don't see how Community won't rock my face off.

And then, sometimes a trailer comes along that you fully expect to hate and it actually makes you want to see the movie. I felt that way when I first saw the trailer for Dance Flick. I'm assuming this is being made by the same people who made the sloppy and (from what I've heard, I haven't seen them) awful, Movie Movies (Date, Epic, Scary, etc.). Well, I'm not sure if it's because I've seen most of the goofy dance movies Dance Flick seems to be riffing on, that I have a soft spot for slapstick movies (I love Airplane, Hot Shots and the Naked gun movies) or the fact that it's actually a quality movie, but this trailer did everything it's supposed to. First it got me laughing, then it got me laughing harder. I'm not saying it ranks up there with the movies I mentioned above and they probably should have given the movie a more original title to separate this movie (which at least seems to have a more zeroed-in focus as far as what it's satirizing), but Dance Flick actually looks funny. We shall see though.

Oh, DO go on.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

R.I.P. Dom DeLuise and Bea Arthur

It's been a rough few days for comedy. Last week, Bea Arthur passed away and now I find out that Dom DeLuise died today.

I am a huge, closeted Golden Girls fan, so it hit me kind of hard when I heard she passed away last week. I was randomly flipping through channels a few months back and landed on what turned out to be the Golden Girls series finale. Dammitall if that wasn't some touching television. I remember watching GG when I was a kid with my parents and liking it back then, which speaks volumes to the performances of the four leads. I was 2 when the show started and 9 when it went off the air and I was pretty bummed out when it ended. A 9 year old missed a group of senior citizens on TV. An impressive feat to say the least (though I also liked watching Matlock and Murder She Wrote reruns on USA, so maybe I have a predilection for the elderly).

Plus, did you see her on Pam Anderson's Comedy Central Roast a few years back? She MURDERED it. I had no idea how funny she was.

And of course, as Kickin' It Old School readers will remember, I am a HUGE fan of Cannonball Run 1 and 2, so today's news that Dom DeLuise died hit me in the gut. His Victor/Captain Chaos was a huge part of what made those movies super enjoyable. He was just such a lovable dude, you couldn't help but want to hang out with him.

He's also, of course, in some of the funniest and coolest movies of all time. Blazing Saddles, Smokey and the Bandit II, The Muppet Movie, History of the World Part 1, An American Tail, Spaceballs and on and on. Looking at his IMDb page is like a list of movies I will be adding to my Netflix Queue (The Skateboard Kid and Loose Cannons among others).

Rest in peace Bea and Dom, our loss is comedy heaven's gain.

Oh, DO go on.

Songs I Should Hate, But Don't: "I Love College"

Wow, this was supposed to be a quick post. Tell you how much I like a song I shouldn't, throw up the video and be done with it. For some reason, though, the people behind Asher Roth's "I Love College" video don't want it embedded anywhere on the internets. I don't really understand this practice, considering a music video is basically a commercial for your product and why wouldn't you want that commercial plastered in as many places as possible?

Anyway, I first saw Roth performing this song on those between-the-show-and-commercials that MTV does. The d-bag flag went off immediately in my head, "Another goofy white kid rapping. Oh, and it's about drinking at college? Blarg." Well, thanks to Fuse, MTV and VH1 I've seen this video a bunch of times and it's really grown on me because, all in all, it's just a fun tune.

No, college isn't really like that (at least mine wasn't), but the days that got close were the most fun and the ones I remember today (like drinking martinis at 10AM after the waitress gave us the stink eye and asked us if we knew how early it was). Damn, good times.

Also, upon further viewings, Roth doesn't seem as douchey. Sure he's bragging about a rad party (a seemingly endless one), but aren't most rap songs about braggadocios dudes telling you how awesome (or terrible) their lives are. I'll call myself out and say that I discounted Roth because he's white (and probably younger and more successful than me), but I'm glad I've given this song a few more listens because it's a lot of fun and I think there's a smile and wink somewhere under all the "my life is awesome" talk. But, hey, if not, I'm still down.

For those of you who didn't click through on the link above, you can watch a picture of Roth while the unedited song plays below. Yeah, it's lame, but I'm not looking to spend anymore time trying to find this damn video to embed.

Oh, DO go on.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Blackest Night Theory

First off, apologies to all of you non-comic readers, but Blackest Night is a pretty big deal story in the DC Universe (that's Superman and Batman, not Spider-Man and X-Men) focusing on the Green Lantern Corps. The story's been building for years and the Blackest Night story itself focuses on the Black Lanterns, an evil group of zombies made up of dead characters from the DCU.

Tales of the Green Lantern Corps TPB

Okay, assuming all the non comic fans have probably dozed off, I'm going to get into the nitty gritty. DC recently released a trade called Tales of the Green Lantern Corps that reprints a three issue miniseries of the same name from the 80s (I believe), along with some back-ups starring individual GLs from throughout the cosmos. It also sports a rad re-painted Brian Bolland cover.

Assembled GLC

Well, the main story not only feels like a possible inspiration for Geoff Johns' wide-sweeping epic, as the entire GLC gets together to face a potentially galaxy shattering event, but elements of it seem like they could potentially play into Blackest Night. I'm not saying that that Johns stole from this story at all, so don't think that's the point of this. It's been clear in Johns' JSA, GL and Superman books that he's a big, big fan of DC's history so I'm guessing he's at least read this story and might refer back to it. Also, it's possible that DC put this trade out to get people ready for a story that Johns will be referencing (kind of like when they released that Jimmy Olsen trade around the time of Countdown).


Anyway, on to my point. The book's main threats are Krona and Nekron. Krona was a member of the Guardians' race before they became the Guardians. He was obsessed with seeing the beginning of the universe and actually created the big bang and, I believe unleashed evil into the universe. As punishment he was turned into energy (because he, like the Guardians are immortal, and, in theory, can't be killed) and sent to travel the universe. After some shenanigans Krona eventually reached the end of the universe where he found himself in Nekron's death dimension. Nekron's a pretty powerful dude because, at the end of the universe, everyone's dead, so he leads everyone.

Guardians vs. Nekron

The thing is, Nekron doesn't want to only be in charge of the dead, he wants to be in the regular world. So, he gives Krona physical form and some henchmonsters to wage war on the regular universe, focusing on killing Guardians because, when an immortal dies, it opens the rift between dimensions.

Nekron Explains

There's a battle and all that, and, surprise, the good guys win, but only after the bad guys show some of the GLs images of their dead relatives asking them to join the realm of the dead. Once everything's cool, they celebrate like true players, drinking from GL goblets! So, this leads me to my theory. I'm guessing that Nekron and or Krona will play some kind of part in Blackest Night. I guess that's not much of a theory, but there you go. We've seen that Scar will probably be/is the Guardian of the Black Lanterns who seem to be lead (at least for now) by Black Hand (as seen in this awesome piece of art by Doug Mahnke from the Free Comic Book Day giveaway Blackest Night #0) and they all have something to do with the Anti-Monitor's corpse. Obviously already connected to death and considering how Johns brought up the Controllers when it came to Agent Orance, it would not surprise me if Nekron was the driving force behind the Black Lanterns.

Oan Pimp Cups

So, there you have it. I haven't seen this theory anywhere yet online, but I haven't looked too too hard. Maybe I'm onto something here. What do you think?

(Sorry for the crummy scans, this is my first big image post in a while. And of course, all the images are copyright and trademarked to DC Comics.)

Oh, DO go on.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Live Blogging Best of the Best (1989)

One time in high school my group of friends rented a cabin in a place called Maumee Bay State Park. We did this on a number of occasions, so I'm not sure exactly when this happened, but we were up pretty late watching Best of the Best 3, making strange comparisons between the main character and Chad Mikrut's dad (like Chuck Norris-isms). Suddenly, the power went out and we were all a little freaked out because we were kind of in the middle of nowhere with one dad (not Chad's) and no weapons. Being the horror fan I was, I used my knowledge to freak my friends out. Eventually the power came back on and none of us were killed. With that kind of memory attached the the third Best of the Best movie, I had high hopes for the original.

Unfortunately, this flick isn't good for any of the reasons it's supposed to. I was hoping for a pretty badass action movie and instead got one of the slowest in history. But, on the plus side, it stars Eric Roberts, James Earl Jones and Chris Penn. Without further ado, let's get into this. The movie's about Eric Roberts who gets picked to join a team of fighters who are facing off against the North Koreans in some kind of championship. Jones is the trainer (along with, gasp, a woman!). Roberts is the main characters and Penn's one of the other fighters. We also have Phillip Rhee as Tommy Lee, the fighter with a sex tape (or a shadowy past, I can't remember).

*Is that Hobie? [Nope, it's not Baywatch's Jeremy Jackson, but Edan Gross, who plays Roberts' kid.]

*Eric Roberts looks the freakin' same! [I only really remember him from Heroes, but he hasn't changed much.]

*What the hell is James Earl Jones doing in this movie? [You're DARTH VADER!]

*Chris Penn as a fighter? [I've only ever seen Penn in Reservoir Dogs and Stasky and Hutch, so seeing him kick ass was kind of a surprise.]

*There's an ass-kicking team? [The whole plot of the movie centers around these guys getting picked and trained to fight. Not really sure why, but there's medals involved.]

*The Buddhist guy looks familiar. [Because he played Andrew on Touched By An Angel, one of my mom's favorite shows.]

*I love the fighting nerd. [He's their tech guy and has video and stats on every fighter in the world. Old computers make me giggle.]

*Uh oh, bar fight incoming. [For once I was right. This is the last actual fight until the end of the movie...sigh.]

*"I want him, I want his balls." [Said by the antagonist in the bar fight, hilarious.]

*A girl's joining the team? No way! Whew, just as a trainer. Look out boys!

*Holy jeez, dual training montages.

*Ha, young Ahmad Rashad as a sportscaster.

*This movie's kinda boring isn't it? You get some cool scenes in the beginning then a bunch of training and drama and now finally the ultimate tournament.

*James Earl Jones Invoked the title!!!

*Finally, the tournament.

*Sonny's not looking so good, loses. [The guy who played Sonny, one of the five on the team, never acted again, huh.]

*Virgil (the Buddhist) probably gonna win, uh, oh, he's looking like a punk. He loses!

*Now Chris Penn has to win, otherwise they're out of it, right? A demonstration of strength decides it. Whoever breaks the most bricks. Aw, he freakin' lost!

*Oh, total points decide the winner, thanks Ahmad. They probably should have made that clear int he beginning. Well, they might have and I missed it.

*Roberts' moves look really slow, he just seems to hit hard. A martial arts master would whoop him silly.

*"I'm gonna take your head off." [I assume Roberts said this to his opponent, but I really don't remember.]

*"Pop it, pop it, pop it!" [Haha, I think James Earl Jones says this to someone, but I can't remember!]

*Ahmad keeps staring right at the camera, which makes sense because he's commentating, but it looks weird.

*Haha, Roberts beats that guy with one arm after getting hurt. Still, should have been more badass.

*Holy shit, Kane Hodder's in this as Burt, one of the guys in the bar fight. Thanks IMDb!

*Ooh, big showdown, one-eye vs. Tommy. [I didn't take notes during the middle of the movie, but Tommy's brother was killed by this one eyed dude in a tourney. Tommy was afraid to unleash his full power because he didn't want to hurt anyone. Or something. Whatever, now they're fighting.]

*Tommy needs to stop being such a bitch.

*Even this feels slow and it's supposed to be the big one.

*Berserker rage!!! That's what you get one-eye!

*One-eye looks like a zombie.

*I don't think James Earl Jones REALLY wanted him not to kill that guy. A brief "no" and a headshake don't make me think you're serious.

*They f**king lost? Stupid movie.

*Tommy was in all the BOTB flicks, even directed the last two. [More IMDb facts while the movie's wrapping up.]

*Gag, one-eye apologizes and then "offers himself as your brother." Blarg. Kick his head off! Did a dude actually write this movie?

*Now they're all giving the Americans their medals? This is stupid.

*Roberts' kid is the voice of flounder.

So, I can't really recommend BOTB for anything other than a potential drunken marathon of all four films with plenty of MST3K or Manly Movie Night-style jokes tossed out.

If you're still looking for a good, rad movie, I've got to offer caution and instead recommend you watch the following clips. That's all you need. First up, the bar fight.

Then, the Eric Roberts fight Part 1:

Part 2:

And Tommy Lee's fight:

Oh, DO go on.