Saturday, October 06, 2007

I didn't think I was that far out on the fringe

According to one of those "find your candidate" quizes, if I were to support the candidate with whom I most agree on the issues, that candidate would be...Dennis Kucinich. My other "top matches" included first runner up Mike Gravel, about whom I know little.

We have to wait until third place to find a candidate I actually like, John Edwards. The more the "haircut story" goes around, the more I like him, becuase the more I think he scares Republicans.

Hillary Clinton is fourth. My problems with Mrs Clinton go back at least as far as the chocolate chip cookie recipe thing. Yes, I think there was "a vast, right-wing conspiracy"-but I also think she and Bill played right into their hands.

My "middle of the pack" candidates start with Barack Obama, which surprises me. As with Edwards, based on likability, I expected him to be higher. Then comes Joe Biden, with whom I became disenchanted a long time ago. Chris Dodd is in the same category with Mike Gravel. Ditto Bill Richardson.

Ron Paul scores highest for me among Republicans, which doesn't surprise me, as he doesn't support Bush's war in the middle east. Here's the rest of my "middle of the pack" score:

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) - 28.57%
Arizona Senator John McCain (R) - 21.43%
Businessman John Cox (R) - 17.86%
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R) - 14.29%
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) - 10.71%

And finally, the "bottom of the barrel." Four candidates who will get my vote when they pry it from my cold, dead hands:
Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo (R) - 7.14%
Kansas Senator Sam Brownback (R) - 3.57%
California Representative Duncan Hunter (R) - 0.00%
Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson (R) - 0%

I note with gallows humor that if this is accurate, my nightmare Republican ticket would be Hunter/Thompson. Saints preserve us, Uncle Duke.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Meanwhile, "30 Rock" wins the Emmy. 30 million people watch "American Idol." A "Watchmen" rip-off was the big hit of last season.

Don't get me started on the popular crowd.

Friday Night Lights second season premiere tonight was a good reminder of just what I like about this show which critics love, but most people aren't watching. And what I find so aggravating.

What's aggravating is that sometimes they resort to melodrama in the worst sense, as with a sudden death tonight. And I don't mean the football term. This is the series at its most predictable and, like most, it's best when it's unpredictable.

And sometimes (though this is, thankfully, more rare) a speech feels overwritten. I was willing to let tonight's example slide by because it was spoken by the coach's daughter, Julie, who has always been presented as a little bit different. More literate, if that's not putting too fine a point on it.


Although I don't think I've really thought much about this series since almost a year ago, when I said this-

The acting is particularly strong, and the directing style, lots of hand-held work accentuating close-ups, helps put it over. Another great score by Snuffy Walden, too. The writing is not flashy-great in the way of an Aaron Sorkin, but the words fall easily upon the ear. You believe the characters have depth and an existence away from that moment.

Also, the perhaps-surprising number of strong female characters is lovely.

-I was surprised at how much I liked seeing the characters again; finding out where they all are eight months (in story time) after the end of last season. I've really come to care for them. And as I've said many times, any show that can make me feel this way while being mostly (but not only) about high school football must be doing something right.

A lot of what it does right is what I look for in a good drama: I may not always like what the characters are doing, but I usually believe it's what they would do in a given situation. Nobody's perfect and everybody's broken in some way. The relationships between the characters are dynamic and there's real, not artificial conflict, for the most part.

That's what I like.

New Amazon review

Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years, by Michael Palin.

This is either despicable or just sad

Republican presidential contenders on Friday scolded Congress for extravagant spending of tax dollars, and Rudy Giuliani blamed the issue for GOP losses in last year's elections.

Yeah, that's what it was, Rudy. The spending.

It wasn't that the republican leaders showed themselves to be selfish and ignorant on a scale un-dreamt of by most politicians.

It wasn't that Cheney said "We Will, In Fact, Be Greeted As Liberators."

It wasn't that they made a pedophile co-chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus.

It wasn't ole' Rick "man on dog" Santorum.

The spending. That's what it was.


(Sometimes a man has to resort to sarcasm.)

Ok, this is getting freaky

I decided to post a video for "Pineapple Face," by Revenge. Revenge was a 1990 electronic/rock/house/indie trio formed by Peter Hook, bass player with New Order.

I don't often post two videos in a row, but this is a really good record and one I hadn't heard for a while, although I do still have the album. (A pre-release tape, no less.)

So I do the usual search on Google, and find the video.

Watching it, I'm thinking about how I can get a good joke out of the fact that the imagery is so heavily lesbo. Something I either never knew or had forgotten.

You know, something along the lines of "dear god, I can't get away!" I've done it before. (For any of you who don't know, I have this story I've been trying to sell about a lesbian couple named Annabel and Keitha.)

But then I do a second Google search looking for a little more information about Revenge I can sprinkle throughout this post.

That's when I find out that the single release of "Pineapple Face" contained a credit for "Revenge girl." I'm assuming this is a reference to the model featured in the front cover artwork.

Her name?


Right and wrong - do you know the difference? 'Tween the right and the left and the east and the west...

As I used to say, if you don't like Joe Jackson, there's something wrong with you. Here he is recording "Right and Wrong" live.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pushing Daisies is bad. Life is good.

The new series "Pushing Daisies" is brought to us by Bryan Fuller, the creator of "Dead Like Me," which I know has its fans. I never warmed up to it, but it was better than this. He also did "Wonderfalls," apparently, which I never saw. Executive producer and director of the pilot is Barry Sonnenfeld, who seems to miss ("Wild, Wild West") at least as often as he hits ("Men In Black").

It's about a man who learns as a boy that if he touches something dead (animals, people, fruit) they will come back to life. But if he ever touches them again after that, they will die again, permanently. And if he lets them live for more than a minute, somebody else, nearby, will die to take their place.

You might ask yourself: What would you do if you had such a gift? But what you should be asking is: What would you do if you had such a gift and needed to make it into a workable TV series?

That's right, the man goes into business with a PI buddy to solve murders by simply reviving the victim, asking them who did it, and "putting them down" again. As one would.

To be fair, it's not really the premise of the series that I find such fault with (another one of my minority opinions). Although, it is a rip off of "Tru Calling," which had its own problems but at least offered the fantastic sight of Eliza Dushku running.

Plus an element of "Torchwood" (about which series I can only repeat: Don't get me started). And oh yes, a little "Final Destination," which I haven't seen but I know the gimmick.

But it's the production and writing that really put me off.

The visuals are admittedly rich...too much so. It's like being force-fed a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts. It might sound fun, but after the first couple you'd be coughing and choking.

See what I mean?

The heavily sprayed-on music doesn't help either.

I want to be kind to the actors, so the worst I'll say about Lee Pace, as the man with the gift, is that he's mostly blah. I want to believe he could do better, but who knows?

One series star who I do know can do better is Anna Friel, who plays Pace's childhood love whom he revives and then can never touch again. Friel is a sexy young woman who is also capable of fine work as an actress (see the very engaging "Me Without You").

Another is Chi McBride, as the PI. He's the best thing here. McBride can always be relied upon for killer performances. But if "Daisies" lasts longer than his previous series ("The Nine")...there is no god.

Completing the trio of actors who are better than this material was Swoosie Kurtz (of "Dangerous Liaisons" and more than a few others) as Friel's aunt.

And then there's Kristin Chenoweth, who plays a waitress in the pie shop Pace's character owns who is also sweet on him. I know Aaron Sorkin loves Chenoweth both as an actress and as a woman; I know she inspired (at least in part) Sarah Paulson's Harriet on "S60." But I have yet to fall under her spell.

As for the writing, well, one of the things nearly every book on screenwriting tells you to avoid is voice-over narration. I don't believe that's a hard-and-fast rule, and narration can work (see certain episodes of "The West Wing," "Sports Night" or "M*A*S*H" for TV examples). But 99% of the time, it's a good rule to keep to, and the reason is so you avoid using it for the cheap exposition this show does.

(Even when the narration doesn't cover it, the dialogue has great big lumps of exposition floating around in it.)

There was not one moment in the pilot-not a single one-which we were allowed to discover for ourselves as an audience. Instead, we're hit over the head by a narrator telling us who the characters are, their backstories, and why they're doing what they're doing.

That the narration is spoken by Jim Dale-a great childhood favorite of mine for his performances onscreen in "Pete's Dragon" and onstage in "Barnum" makes it nostalgically relaxing. But it's still one of the laziest, cynical-because of its implied assumption that the audiences are idiots-pieces of writing I have ever seen.

And I've seen "Spider-Man 3" and "Dr. Doolittle 2."

What a release, then, an hour later, to watch the second episode of "Life" (preceded by the announcement: "An all-new 'Life' starts...right now!" If only.)

One or two of the issues I had last week seem to be correcting themselves and yes, that does include letting Sarah Shahi's gorgeousness show more.

I liked it at least as much as the pilot if not more so.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sentences you didn't expect to read

I was prepared to trade the 'shit' for the 'oral sex',

-From Michael Palin's Diaries 1975 (he was talking about negotiating with the censor over Monty Python & the Holy Grail's rating)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I think Jennifer Aniston is really attractive

I'm sorry, but that's just how I feel. In fact-darn, I'll just say it: She's beautiful. And sexy in a way that make my toes tingle.

I know it may not be popular to view young, thin well coifed white women as beautiful. But, what the heck: I have never courted popularity.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Critics are loving Aliens In America like NBC loves Deal Or No Deal

Once again it seems I'm out of step with the general critical reaction to something.

Aliens, a new sitcom on the CW, has been getting a lot of comparison with Freaks & Geeks. My pal Corey tried to turn me on to that short-lived drama a few years ago. It didn't take, but I know it's on a lot of "brilliant but cancelled" lists. You may also notice that the first-person narration owes a debt to The Wonder Years even if, like me, you failed to be enchanted with that show either.

In any case, I'm sorry, but I'm just not feeling it.

Far be it from me to question the reviewers motivation, but I wonder if it wasn't their social consciences that were tickled far more than their funny bones. See, the idea for Aliens is a standard "fish out of water" story: A white family in Wisconsin takes in a Pakistani foreign exchange student, Raja, who attends high school with the son and daughter.

So by praising it, you're also establishing your pro-multiculturalism cred. This is all very well and good, but I simply didn't laugh that much. I did like a scene where Raja's new teacher shows her well-intentioned ignorance. But this was the kind of joke that Everybody Hates Chris was doing two years ago.

I can't blame the actors-they're uniformly appealing. Adhir Kalayan, who plays Raja, is very sweet and Dan Byrd, as the son in the family, is a perfect double for Chris Makepeace in the early '80s.

Lindsey Shaw, as the daughter, may have a character to play, but in the first show, it's hidden behind her (admittedly, perfectly enjoyable) breasts.

She's just returning to school after sprouting them over the summer as the series begins. So when Raja first sees her, we're treated to a slo-mo shot of her tits bouncing in time to middle eastern music.

2007, we're in, in case you were wondering.

The series is too sitcommy in such places (boob jokes!), but not enough in others (timing is really rough).

Amy Pietz as the mother had the worst-written part in the pilot, which required her to be the voice of unreasonable fear for 27 minutes and then turn on a dime.

She doesn't convince, but it's hard to think of an actress who could.

As for Scott Patterson, playing the father, well, it's not like I was expecting him to show all the wry humor and heart he did on Gilmore Girls for seven years. Not in one episode.

But, I would have liked to have had a hint that the character cared about something other than money (also reminiscent of the dad on Everybody Hates Chris).

As a side note, I wonder how Patterson feels about the fact that a pair of bullying brothers on the series is called "the Palladinos?" (if you don't know, GG was created by Amy Sherman-Palladino and chiefly written by her and her husband Dan)

The problem is that you get the feeling the show really wants to be thought of as "absurdist," and that's so easy to get wrong...

God forgive me for this one.

Knock knock knock knock knock...


"Turndown service, Miss Aguilera! I'm here to change your sheets."

"Oh...very well. Come in..."

So you want to hear "Mad World" covered by a Canadian blonde girl singer and acoustic guitarist

We here at Dictionopolis in Digitopolis have anticipated your every need.

I always thought Tears For Fears debut single contained one of the most disconcerting lyrics ever to go to #3 (in the UK):

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had

But I loved them first in spite of; then because of that.

Sometimes it seems like the only sane reaction, other times it's just too damn sad.

I'm not quite sure why, but I dreamed about this song last night, so I went looking for a good clip today on Google Video.

That's where I found this:

The performer, "hulaeve," says she first fell in love with the Donnie Darko version. I know that gets to a lot of people, but it seems to me to engender pretension if not self-indulgence (case in point).

Frankly, Tears For Fears have never needed help being pretentious and self-indulgent.

And that's not a criticism, or if it is it's a loving one.

I think this vocal is kind of fantastic and she plays very well, I really enjoyed it. Hope you did too.

Bijou Phillips is a vampire

See for yourself.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Random Flickr Blogging: 5705

Is it wrong that I instantly and instinctively hate this person?


The Schizoid Women

Ok. We have here seven examples of the faces of two different women combined together in "morphing." Your job: Name them.

Rolling your cursor over the pictures, BTW, will give it away and is considered cheating.

Rosario Dawson's Face Combined with Mena Suvari -

Lindsay Lohan and Sarah Michelle Gellar -

Kate Winslet and Michelle Rodriguez -

Eva Mendes and Alexis Bledel -

Beyonce Knowles and Sarah Jessica Parker Faces Combined Together -

Lacey Chabert and Carmen Electra Faces Combined Together -

Scarlett Johansson and Salma Hayek Faces Combined Together -

R.I.P; Miss Moneypenny

Lois Maxwell, 1927-2007.

Here. with the aid of the "Memorable Quotes" section of their respective IMDb pages, are my favorite examples of "the customary byplay with 007."

From Dr. No:

[Slaps Bond's hand away from the papers on her desk]
James Bond: Moneypenny! What gives?
Miss Moneypenny: Me, given an ounce of encouragement. You've never taken me to dinner looking like this. You've never taken me to dinner...
James Bond: I would, you know. Only "M" would have me court-martialed for... illegal use of government equipment.
Miss Moneypenny: Flattery will get you nowhere - but don't stop trying.

From Diamonds Are Forever:

Bond: What can I bring you back from Holland?
Moneypenny: A diamond? In a ring?
Bond: Would you settle for a tulip?
Moneypenny: [Bond leaves; she sighs longingly] Mm, yes.

And from Moonraker:

Miss Moneypenny: Why are you so late, James?
James Bond: I fell out of an airplane without a parachute. Who's in there?
Miss Moneypenny: Q and the Minister of Defense.
James Bond: You don't believe me, do you?
Miss Moneypenny: No.