Saturday, July 28, 2007
Anyway, I see to my surprise and pleasure in Entertainment Weekly that ABC is returning it to the air for the last six episodes. That's ABC, a network otherwise notable for bringing you what I predict will be the first cancelled series of the year: A sitcom based on those cavemen in the insurance company commercials.
Perhaps I shouldn't be so snarky, as it turns out, I may owe ABC an apology...
But anyway, if you're in the exclusive club who knew what a good show it could be, heads up: The final episodes begin airing Wednesday, August 1, at 10. PM.
Picking me to include among:
those prolific souls who often leave comments that cheer me up and let me know that I’m not so alone in the world
So: Who are the people that I'm talking about, when I talk about my vast reading audience?
A'mee. Ah, the stories I could tell you. But I won't, for fear of her going all Basic Instinct on my ass...
Jeopardygirl. She's Canadian, but I try not to hold that against her. Plus, we have almost precisely the same musical taste.
Becca. Arguably the one of you I'd most like to go drinking with-but we'd probably end up fighting over the same girl. BTW, you guys know what it is to be "cock blocked"-that's when a guy succesfully hits on a girl who you've been trying to hit on.
You know what it is when a girl does it? A muff bluff.
PJ herself, one of my erstwhile interviewers, with good eye for lovely women (and men, I suppose).
George, generik and the rest of the RFB campaign staff. Even though George does have a tendency to carp, they comment on my blog a lot more than I comment on theirs (hangs head in shame)...
bbovenguy. One of the closest things I have to a Hollywood connection-and a fellow veteran of "the Tara incident." My other Hollywood connection being Corey "star of Spiders!" Klemow, but he tends not to comment on the blog publicly.
As for you runners-up and also-rans (Dr. Monk, J.D., Gordon..."and the rest")...you can do better. I know you can.
You can't help thinking (I can't, anyway): What if they'd made a Simpsons movie around 1994 when, IMO, the show was at the height of its powers? Again, this movie is well-made and the extra time they were able to take with it surely does show.
It will probably be staggeringly popular at the box office, and then again in DVD sales. People will want to look for the sight gags or lines of dialogue they missed while people were laughing. And I was laughing right along with them-this is a keenly-made comedy, and I don't want to lose sight of that.
I guess I have no choice but to doh! this movie with faint praise. It's good, but after almost 400 episodes, there's just very little they can show us about the characters we haven't seen.
Friday, July 27, 2007
A woman wrote in to Roger Ebert's site about the poster for the upcoming Dane Cook/Jessica Alba movie "Good Luck Chuck." She was offended, because it is a "parody" of the Rolling Stone cover photo taken hours before John Lennon was shot; she considers it tasteless.
Ebert reminds her of the many parodies of works that some consider "sacred," as she says she feels about the Lennon photo. I know what he means, but...still. To take a photo like that, and not just parody it, but use it as advertising for a movie that...
...well, the cast and crew doesn't exactly fill one with confidence that this will be an example of Film As Great Art...
This has been a public service announcement.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Do YOU want to be interviewed?
1. Leave me a comment saying “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with a post containing your the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interviewsomeone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
Here's Becca's queries:
1. Okay let’s get the Dr. Who question out of the way. I can’t remember if you’ve said or not but who is your favorite Doctor and why? Who is your favorite companion?
Who is my favorite Doctor? Peter Davison, the fifth. Why? Because I think he was the best damn actor ever to play the part, with some of my best-loved scripts, especially the two by Chris Bidmead.
David Tennant, I'm sorry to say, I started out really admiring-"Christmas Invasion" was my favorite "new Doctor" story in years-but I've begun to feel that he's letting the side down a bit. Of course, he also hasn't been half as well-served by more recent scripts...
Favorite companions include Bernice, from the books (sometimes called "Benny" but that makes me self-conscious). Not just because of the way she is but the way she was created.
I've said this before but something her creator, Paul Cornell, said in an interview has been coming back to me in recent years...asked why he thought Bernice had been so succesful, he replied that most men wrote the kinds of women they wanted to date (or maybe at least sleep with), and...
"I don't want to date Bernice. I want to be her."
I liked Nyssa from the television series.
Partly because Sarah Sutton was just to die for, but also because I thought she was temperamentally the best suited for the Davison Doctor, with Tegan not far behind.
I also kind of liked Chris, from the books. Peri is a guilty pleasure-and I thought Martha Jones started out very well but ultimately failed because they drove her into a dead end.
2. If you crash landed on a tropical island in a plane filled with survivalist supplies (what luck!) what 5 things would you want to have with you on the tropical island?
Is all I need to protect me from the sun included in the survivalist supplies?
Are there any dinosaurs on the island?
A solar-powered computer with the best damn wireless connection you've ever seen.
A solar powered radio that only plays music and no news from the outside world.
A copy of either The Hobbit or The Essential Ellison.
A friendly dolphin.
And either Emma Watson or Jennifer Wayman, from Jr. Hish.
3. Where did the name of your blog “Dictionopolis in Digitopolis” come from and why did you choose it?
The name of my blog derives from the classic book and movie The Phantom Tollboth, both of which were favorites of my youth.
I'd be surprised if you haven't read and/or seen it, but just in case: In both, you see, Dictionopolis is the kingdom of words and Digitopolis the kingdom of numbers.
A blog, being comprised of words on the internet, which is comprised of numbers, is therefore...
You see how it all balances out.
4. What in your opinion are the 5 most underrated musical acts of the last 40 years?
1. Bobby Darrin. He's probably less underrated than he used to be, but I'm honestly not sure whether the Kevin Spacey movie helped or hurt. I still haven't seen the movie. I just can't bring myself to.
2. Kirsty MacColl (bless her). My pro-Kirsty bias should be obvious to anyone who reads this blog for even a month or two. I think she was a goddess, a supremely talented singer and songwriter whose exquisitely sung, sometimes multi-tracked vocal arrangements will be remembered by people who really know music when soulless American Idol runner-ups have been forgotten.
But in the spirit of "show don't tell," this is Kirsty performing "Days," originally written by Ray Davies, on TOTP.
She is glorious.
3. Thomas Dolby. I think most people see him as a one-novelty-hit-wonder, even bubblegum. Sure, some of his records were novelties-he did write songs for the Howard the Duck movie, y'know. And lord knows he's got the keyboard hooks. But a novelty artist he was not.
Watch this video for his record of the Dan Hicks song "I Scare Myself." This is just good. I don't know quite how else to say it.
BTW, there's no signifigance to the fact that the two songs I chose are both ones the performers didn't write, MacColl and Dolby are both very fine songwriters. It's just a question of which records I can find videos for on YouTube that I feel show them to best advantage...
4. Dan Hartman. The I Can Dream About You album is so awesome. People know it because of the title song and "We Are The Young," but the whole thing is packed with solid songwriting by Hartman and his collaborator, Charlie Midnight.
That album had more of a dance/club feel, but he also co-wrote and sang lead on "Free Ride" for the Edgar Winter group, and co-wrote and produced James Brown's last top five hit, "Living In America."
5. Chaz (or Chas) Jankel. Best known as a member of Ian Dury's Blockheads, and the cowriter of discs like "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll" and "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick," in the early to-mid eighties he released two or three solo albums that became instant favorites of mine.
My first play was ultimately titled after one of his solo songs (also cowritten with Dury, as it happens).
5. If I recall correctly you are a writer!
If I recall correctly, I am too.
As a writer who are your biggest influences and whom do you think are the most interesting writers working today?
Mark Evanier's an influence, but probably more on my nonfiction (including this blog) than my drama and fiction.
When it comes to writing in the dramatic form, James L. Brooks is a big influence, especially his script for Broadcast News. And the sense I get from interviews with Simpsons writers, DVD commentaries and such is that a lot of the "heart" of that series comes from him.
Also he created and worked on Taxi, which has to be on any short list of the greatest sitcoms of all time.
I can't forget my hero, Larry Gelbart. He's best known as the man who developed M*A*S*H from the movie and book into the TV series, and wrote and/or directed much of its first four years. He also cowrote the screenplay for Tootsie, cowrote the stage musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, wrote the movie Oh, God!...
He's done so much for so long that I once formed a theory: You can connect Larry Gelbart to anything funny done on stage or screen in the past 45 years or more, in six moves or less.
I suppose John Hughes is an influence. I'd be perfectly happy if one of my stories stayed in people's minds the way one or two of his have in mine.
From the world of comics writing, Neil Gaiman and Peter Milligan are aspirations and influences...Milligan not so much since he took Shade from dark to totally black, but that's another post...
And though I'm not a cartoonist or any kind of a visual artist, Charles Schulz, Ted "Dr. Seuss" Geisel and Howard Cruse are influences at least as much for the way they lived their lives as the quality of their work, including writing.
Some people are influences even if (so far, anyway) I don't write in their genre, like the aforementioned Cornell. I haven't written a mystery, but I love the personal stamp that writers like Robert Crais and Gregory McDonald put on theirs. I would hope that my own stories have mine.
I've also yet to write a horror story (well, not the kind with razor-fanged clowns anyway). But I like having the keen grip on my reader's throat that Stephen King can get. I've had one or two people tell me that after starting one of my pieces they could not do any other work or put it down till they finished it. I take that as one of my favorite compliments.
Oh yes, and that Aaron Sorkin fellow. Anybody here need me to re-state what I think of his work? I didn't think so.
Sometimes I don't really think I write the way they do, but they're still an influence, like Harlan Ellison. Ellison was also an influence on my criticism back when I was writing more of it, as were Roger Ebert and the late Kenneth Tynan.
Some of the most interesting writers working in recent years would include Nick Hornby, John Irving (both influences),
Crais and King.
Oh, and I've lately been trying to write a young adult book, for which my models are my memories of authors like Robert Cormier, Chris Crutcher, and Judy Blume.
Sorry you asked?
What kept this film interesting for me was that I kept imagining it as a story I was being told in his trademark coked-up (even if he's straight) verbal style. The characterizations overall seemed to me to be about as dimensional as a piece of cardboard, and the woman's part...
Well, far be it from me to stereotype, but if you didn't know already that Scorsese was Italian...
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
(Most of the Quotes and Scene Summaries come from The Simpsons Archive, with one from TV.com and one from memory)
Homer: Bart, did you hear that? What a name! "Santa's Little Helper." It's a sign. It's an omen.
Bart: It's a coincidence, dad.
--Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire (The Simpsons Christmas Special)
Burns: This anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the
election, and yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one
to go to jail. That's democracy for you.
-Two Cars in Every Garage, Three Eyes on Every Fish
Homer tries to recall the good ol' days.
Homer: Remember when I used to push you on the swing?
Bart: I was faking it.
Homer: Gasp! Liar!
Bart: Oh yeah? Remember this? ``Higher, Dad! Higher! Whee!''
--I still can't believe they got away with it, from Brother From The Same Planet
I Love Lisa is line for line, the best Simpsons script ever, but I'll just pick one:
"Watch this, Lis. You can actually pinpoint the
second when his heart rips in half."
Homer: Lisa, did you see the Grammys?
Lisa: You beat Dexy's Midnight Runners!
Homer: Well, you haven't heard the last of them.
--Best Dexy's reference ever, from Homer's Barbershop Quartet.
Runner up: In Clerks there's a porno titled "Cum On Eileen."
Treehouse of Horror IV:
In the room with a "Hell Labs: Ironic Punishments Division" sign on the door, Homer is strapped into a chair with mountains of donuts all around. "So, you like donuts, eh?" his keeper queries. "Uh huh," Homer answers uncertainly. "Well, have all the donuts in the world!" his keeper ripostes, and a metallic machine monstrosity starts cramming donuts towards Homer's mouth by fours. Eagerly he devours them.
Much later, the machine still works overtime, and Homer has become a grotesque blob, but his relentless masticatory pace hasn't slowed.
There are almost no donuts left in the room, and Homer's keeper is
confused. "I don't understand it. James Coco went mad in fifteen
Bart: We come now to the final and most terrifying painting of the
evening. To even gaze upon it is [dramatically] to go mad.
Homer: [looking at it] Aah! They're dogs...and they're playing poker!
Abe: Quick! We have to kill the boy! [holds a stake and mallet]
Marge: How do you know he's a vampire?
Abe: He's a vampire? Aah! [runs away]
Homer, Marge, and Lisa arrive in the car.
[Homer drives into a preserved deer statue]
Lisa: A deer!
Marge: A female deer...
--From Bart Gets an Elephant
[Skinner walks in, sees Homer]
Skinner: What's he doing here?
Bart: Well once he found out we were going to get Ned Flanders
fired, he insisted on helping.
Homer: That is true.
Bart: Here's the plan: once Chalmers comes for his next inspection
and sees how crappy the school has gotten, he'll fire Ned on
Skinner: Er, one question remains: how do I get out of the army?
Bart: No problemo. Just make a pass at your commanding officer!
Skinner: Done and done. And I mean done.
--Well, he's efficient anyway. From Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song
Nelson: Hey, Bart! Your epidermis is showing.
Bart: [worried] It is? [checks himself]
[the kids laugh]
[Bart falls, starts yelling]
Nelson: [to Kearney] See, "epidermis" means your hair.
[Bart lands with a thud]
So technically it's true. That's what makes it so funny.
Pardon me a moment --
[at Bart] Ha ha!
Milhouse: Hey Nelson, he's really hurt. I think he broke his leg.
Nelson: [exasperated] I said, "Ha ha"!
--Nelson's best "Ha ha" ever, from Bart of Darkness.
Treehouse of Horror V :
Homer: So what do you think, Marge? All I need is a title. I was
thinking along the lines of "No TV and No Beer Make Homer"
Marge: [timid] "Go Crazy"?
Homer: Don't mind if I do!
Marge: I guess we could get more involved in Bart's activities but then
I'd be afraid of smothering him.
Homer: Yeah, and then we'd get the chair.
Marge: That's not what I meant.
Homer: It was, Marge, admit it.
--Marge and Homer are great parents, from Bart's Girlfriend
Kid: The switchboards are lighting up!
Kid: Two calls: that's our best ever! [answers one] Hello? No,
Janice doesn't live here...[answers other] Hello? Yes, I am
interested in long-distance savings! Very interested.
--It's the little things in life, from Homer BadMan
Marge: [voice over] It all started on the thirteenth hour, of the
thirteenth day, of the thirteenth month. We were there to
discuss the misprinted calendars the school had purchased.
Homer: [shivering, looking at the calendar] Oh, lousy Smarch weather.
[spies the thermostat with a note from Willy over it]
[reads] "Do not touch Willy." Good advice! [cranks it]
--From Treehouse of Horror VI
Lisa: Being myself...didn't work. Being somebody else...didn't work...
--The Simpsons line most likely to make me cry, from Summer of 4 Ft. 2
Nelson looks warmly at Lisa, and takes her hand. Their romantic
evening is spoiled by Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney.
Dolph: Oh, man! You kissed a girl!
Jimbo: That is so gay!
--Unclear on the concept, from Lisa's Date With Density
Bart: ...so then I says to Mabel, I says...
[Homer walks in]
Homer: Hi, kids!
Bart: I'll finish this later. Hi, Dad.
Homer: Where's your mother?
Lisa: Out back.
[Homer walks out]
Bart: So anyway, I says to Mabel, I says...
--Don't ask me why, I just love it.
From El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer
[The Mysterious Voyage of Homer]
Marge: Homer, didn't John seem a little... festive to you?
Homer: Couldn't agree more. Happy as a clam.
Marge: [insisting] He prefers the company of men!
Homer: Who doesn't?
--From Homer's Phobia
Bob: You wanted to be Krusty's sidekick since you were five! What
about the buffoon lessons, the four years at clown college?
Cecil: I'll thank you not to refer to Princeton that way!
--The Brother from Another Series, representing all the Sidehow Bob episodes of the first nine seasons
Judge Snider: I find the defendent not guilty. As for science vs.
religion I'm issuing a restraining order. Science should
stay 500 yards from religion at all times.
--Great idea, from Lisa the Skeptic
I stopped believing everything will be alright
We are broken
I'm walking uphill being turned around and round
Secret in motion when my feet are on the ground
We are broken
In my mind's eye
One little boy into one little man
Funny how time flies
(Words by Tears For Fears. Images found on Google.)