Thursday, October 30, 2008

Third Time's the Try?

First, the woman who made Tank Girl was going to make it as a film. (huh?) Never happened.

Then HBO was going to make it as a series (yay!) with the guy who made Daredevil (boo!). Never happened.

Now, per Newsarama and Variety, Sam Mendes and Columbia are going to make Preacher as a film. Hopefully.

While I definitely think, given the scale and scope of the series, that a TV series is the better vehicle here, I'm still curious to see this material as a film. Preacher may well be my favorite comic series ever, and the story is definitely cinematic, if maybe too close to NC-17 for comfort?

I will be following this one with high interest.

Until Whenever

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

The genius of Dylan, close-up. Live from the Rolling Thunder Tour, mid-1970s.

Until Whenever
You Know You're a Geek When . . .
So I caught the new Hulk movie on DVD. Much less ambitious than Ang Lee's take, but more fun, and with a better Banner. A plot that moved, a good blend of action and talk, and convincing CGI. But something still bothered me as I watched. At first I didn't know what it was. And then it hit me.

The Hulk was too skinny. The Hulk should be thick. Monstrous. Heavy. But here he seemed just tall and muscular. I was reminded of the Michael Turner cover on the stands now:

That's not the Hulk. That's a tall and muscular green Euro-model.

The film's Hulk wasn't as bad, but he was still too skinny:


This is how the Hulk should look

Thicker, and squatter, and more monstrous.

. . . your enjoyment of a big dumb super-hero movie is hampered when the superhero doesn't precisely match the vision in your head of what he should look like.

Until Whenever

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

. . . on Teeee - Veee!

So, a good month-plus into the new season, what has caught the eyes of Tosy and Cosh?

The Big Bang Theory is severely under-utilizing new regular Sarah Gilbert so far, and I hope they rectify that oversight soon. I also worry that they are starting to pull a Fonz with the admittedly very good Jim Parsons' Sheldon. He seems to be the focus of nearly every episode. Nonetheless, this is a well-constructed, funny, very old-fashioned sitcom and I'm glad it's on.

How I Met Your Mother seemed to have rushed the Stella story arc, and I suspect a lot of this is due to the scheduling problems of getting Sarah Chalke. I wonder if it would have played out differently had the original choice, Alicia Silverstone, not backed out in a Britney-fearing snit. Still, the show continues to charm, with the Barney-Robin pairing being handled particularly well so far.

Worst Week is well-acted and actually pretty funny, but good god how do these people think they can milk 200 episodes out of this thing?

Two and a Half Men is raunchy and funny and disposable. No harm in that. Still, how is Charlie Sheen getting Emmy nods for his one-note, just-plain-bad performance?

Heroes is done. I haven't watched a single episode. And Sepinwall tells me I needn't bother.

And I'm done with Terminator as well. I watched the premiere and realized that I was just impatient for it to be over so I could delete it from my TiFaux. Not worth the time.

House really has too big a cast. Time to cut. 'Twere it up to me, I'd get rid of Chase, Cameron, and 13. Otherwise, it's doing as good a job as any show on TV of balancing self-contained mysteries each week with smaller muti-episode arcs.

Fringe is really just OK. I was excited for it, and tried to convince myself that it was better than it is, but at the end of the day it's just OK. And yet I keep watching, scared that if the larger mythology becomes compelling I will have missed out. What's wrong with me?

The Mentalist is better than I would have guessed. I've only seen the first two episodes, but I liked them, even though at heart it's just yet another generic CBS procedural. I do think that they need to do a better job of explaining how the mentalist is able to figure out the things he does. Right now it's all a little vague, and may as well just be psychic powers for all of the explication his insights get.


Is there any show on TV as sweet, gleefully silly, and pretty to look at as Pushing Daisies? This show, which will likely be cancelled soon if reports are true, is just delightful, and a wonderful case of many elements (the acting, the music, the dialogue, the costumes) working perfectly together towards a very specific vision.


I am a bit behind on My Name Is Earl, but still enjoy it very much. The actors just give off such a palpable sense of the fun they are having that it makes the show fun to watch. And I also like to keep tallies of who is winning in the war of dirtiest jokers - it or Two and a Half Men. Earl's are certainly more clever.

The Office has become, as Sepinwall or the AV Club noted, can't remember which, one of TV's most affecting romantic comedies ever. Who would have thought. Taking the emphasis on the now-together Jim and Pam away somewhat by focusing on the potential for Michale to find happiness with a one-click more well-adjusted female version of himself was just genius.

I watched two-thirds of the first Kath and Kim and deleted it. Wretched.

I have yet to watch an ER. Casualty of too many late nights at work. I still hope to catch up though.

I've seen just two episodes of Life on Mars so far, and am actually quite digging it. The actors are good, the sense of time and place is excellent and (so far) they are balancing the mystery of how (or if) he time-traveled with the 70s cop stories nicely. I'm intrigued to see where it goes.


The Simpsons is both a shell of its former self and good for a laugh. I'll take it.

Until Whenever

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nascent Form

I just finished watching the complete first season of Picket Fences on DVD (and was dismayed to realize that there is, as of now, no Season Two!). I watched the show when first aired, but only sporadically, and later in its run - I have dim memories of starting to watch with the "freezer murders" arc.

What is so fun about watching Picket Fences now is seeing all, or nearly all, of David E. Kelly's quirks and tropes forming before our eyes. What starts out as a portrait of a small, homey, yet quirky town very quickly becomes a platform to dive into the issues of the day - transgenderism, homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, and many others. And for every one of these issues, the town's sole judge (played beautifully by Ray Walston) gets to, sans jury, opine and rule. Contrived? Of course. But it isn't as if Kelly was suggesting it as anything but a construct that, once accepted, allowed him to tell these stories through the single microcosm of the town of Rome.

Other Kelly tropes quickly became evident as well. The singing. (Through Fyvush Finkel, much better than I recalled as the outsized Douglas Lambau). The twisty murder mysteries. (We see the Practice trick of having someone using the court to get away with murder a few times). The nerdy, romantically longing nebbish. The deft mix of melodrama, comedy, and pathos. The favorite actors. (Richard Kiley. Jamey Sheridan.)
What also struck me was how old-fashioned the series already feels. Long credits, with a prominent theme that gets trotted out every episode. Very few serial traits (all story arcs are tied up in a single episode). Characters making soapboxy speeches, of the kind that you rarely see anymore. Slow-moving edits and camera-work. It, quite frankly, made me feel very old.
Until Whenever

Monday, October 20, 2008

Things I Wonder

Like most of the world, I watched the Palin appearance on SNL Saturday. But what got me thinking wasn't the politics, or any perceived or real animosity between Baldwin and Palin, or whether or not the show used the real Palin effectively.

What got me thinking was the short cameo by Baldwin. When an actor does that kind of walk-on, especially for someone like Baldwin, who knows Lorne Michaels, and has a connection to Tina Fey, and to the show, does he or she get paid? And if so, how much? I worked for Actors' Equity for a while, in the membership department, and know how strict the unions' can be about these kinds of things. So I'm guessing that SAG (or AFTRA, I don't know who gets SNL), would require that an actor be paid even for a jokey walk on like this. But what does he get? Minimum? His regular fee? How does that work?

These are the things I wonder about.

Until Whenever

Friday, October 17, 2008

My New Favorite Thing

I got into Bob Dylan, not through the old stuff, as so many have, but through the recent stuff - specifically, through Time Out of Mind, the first Dylan album I fell in love with.

Now, I had owned Highway 61 for a while, and had listened to it once or twice, and been pretty non-plussed by it. (I know.) I can't remember what spurred me to buy Time Out of Mind, but I did and was presently blown away. What probably surprised me most, given that the only real Dylan songs I really knew knowledge at that point were "The Times They Are A-Changing," "Blowin' in the Wind," "Like a Rolling Stone," and "Rainy Day Woman #12 and 35," was how beautiful this music was. How gentle and sweet and pure.

Because of this, my favorite Dylan period is the one he's in right now - the one started by Time Out of Mind. So the release last week of his latest "Bootleg Series" album, which comprised outtakes, live versions, and cut songs from Oh Mercy, Time Out of Mind, Love & Theft, and Modern Times had me giddy with anticipation.

And I was not disappointed. Each of the two discs starts off with a version of "Mississippi," a song off of Love & Theft. And I find it frankly astonishing how different they are from each other and the release version, and of how good each version is on its own. This album is just an embarrassment of riches. We've got wildly different takes on songs I know well, like the almost martial rendition of "Someday Baby," which on Modern Times was a finger-popping 50s-style bluesy rocker. We've got cut songs that could have easily made the album, like the slowly building and sweetly tragic-sounding "Red River Shore." We've got live versions of songs I didn't love so much originally that completely reclaim the song for me, like "High Water (for Charlie Patton)." We've got an authentic and pristine take on a Robert Johnson blues classic, "32-20 Blues." And we've got wonderful soundtrack tunes I've never heard, like "Huck's Tune."

But most of all, we've got a cohesive, album that sounds nothing like the hodge-podge of stuff it in reality is. Others have noted it, but I must as well - this strong a double-album would be a high-water mark or almost any other artist. For Dylan, it's a collection of stuff lying around.

When I am 90 years old, I am going to tell my great-grandkids that I was around when Dylan was still making music, that I saw him sing and play live, and they are going to react exactly as I would if I met someone who saw a Shakespeare play when Shakespeare premiered it. He's that good.

Until Whenever

Monday, October 13, 2008


I have seen Spaceballs at least ten times, although not in years. Almost all of those ten (or so) viewings came as a teen.

In the last two months, I finally got around to seeing two supremely excellent films - Lawrence of Arabia and The Bridge over the River Kwai.

And, wouldn't you know it, there are gags in Spaceballs that depend on knowledge of those films.

When Lone Star and party are traveling through the desert, the score is from Lawrence.

And when the Jawa stand-ins march, they hum the tune that the British soldiers whistled in Kwai.

Until Whenever

Thursday, October 09, 2008


In a comment to this post, Jaquandor asked why I don't drink. I put this in the comments there, but thought it bore posting on its own.

If you gave me a big bowl of M&Ms, I would eat the whole thing. Now, about a third of the way through, I wouldn't WANT anymore M&Ms. But they would still be there, and so I would still eat them.

Based on this little bit of self-knowledge (and a little bit of family history), I have always suspected alcohol and I should not mix. And we never have. In 34 years, my total alcohol consumption comprises:
  • A sip or two of beer as a kid (thought it was gross)
  • A sip or two of wine as a teen (thought it was OK)
  • A shot of cherry brandy foisted on me after shoveling the driveway of my wife's kindly Greek landlords before we were married.
And that's it. I feined sipping the champagne toast at my wedding, my sister's wedding, and my father's wedding. Such hardcore abstinence may well be overkill. But I'm fine with never finding out.

Until Whenever
When Hollywood Reads My Mind

AMC, which two years ago I don't think anyone expected to be the new go-to sight for compelling, adult TV series, is so far two-for-two. Mad Men and Breaking Bad are two of my favorite series airing right now.

And now they have made a very promising move for number three. According to this, their next series will be based on the first book in what is probably my favorite science fiction series ever - Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars. The Mars trilogy is an epic, complicated saga of the colonization of Mars that is stunning in the level of scientific detail it packs into its story. Robinson convincingly describes the science behind such ideas as terraforming and space elevators, making the trilogy much more than yet another adventures in space tale.

Which does, though, beg a question. How will all of that science (and in the book there is a lot of it - he can go on for pages describing the geography of the planet in minute detail) get dealt with in a series? In a novel, Robinson can lay the omniscient narrator card and just describe stuff for us. In a series, that's a lot harder.

Still, I'm very excited by the news, and anxious to see how this develops over the coming months.

Until Whenever
Get Busy Turnin' Right, Or Get Busy Dying

I was saying the other day to my wife and brother-in-law that, if I had a GPS system (which I don't), that I'd pay extra to get Morgan Freeman doing the voiceover, instead of the generic "pleasant female" voice these things usually come with.

And lo and behold, what do I see on David Pogue's site just now?

You gotta love, though, the latest from Tom Tom: you can buy, for $13, any of 25 replacement voices. So instead of hearing the usual monotone GPS Lady telling you to turn right in 500 feet, you hear John Cleese, Burt Reynolds, Dennis Hopper, Mr. T, Curt Shilling, Gary Busey, or, now, Kim Cattrall.

I haven't looked up the full list, but have to assume that Freeman isn't on it or Pogue would have named him rather than, say, Curt Shilling. Still, only a matter of time, right?


Monday, October 06, 2008

Why Does It Seem So Inviting?

Another absence, another meme to return on. I'm very predictable.

Stolen from the Frog.

Have you ever been apple picking?
Many times. Taking the kids has become a tradition, although this year the place (Masker's Orchards in NY) was out of cider donuts when we went. Not cool, Maskers, not cool.

Is there a dish you make/eat only during this time of the year?
Pumpkin ice cream. Only because evil Big Ice Cream only makes the stuff at this time of year. Jerks. This year, I've managed to get the kids hooked on the stuff. Passing on your addictions to your children can be fun!

Will you attend a tail gate party this season?
No. Went to a few in college and largely missed the allure.

When do you turn on the heat?
Usually at least intermittently by mid-October.

How many sweaters do you own?
Maybe 7?

Are you fond of Nouveau Beaujolais wine?
As its a wine, no. Tosy and Cosh are teetotalers.

Do you get excited about Halloween?
Yes. Much more so now that there are kids to act as beards for my enthusiasm. This year, one will be Cinderella and the other a witch.

How about Thanksgiving?
Yes. I just really like Turkey, plus the idea of a holiday with no real agenda.

Is there an activity you do only in the autumn?
Pumpkin picking, apple picking, pumpkin carving. Raking leaves.

Have you ever burned leaves?
No. Sounds fun though.

Do you own any ‘scarecrow’ decorations?
Two five-footers in the front lawn and two little one-foot decorations inside.

Do you plant bulbs?
We mean to plant bulbs.

Your fondest autumn memory?

When does fall begin for you?
The first time I have to out a jacket on in the morning.

What is your favorite aspect of fall?
The smell of the air. Just wondrous.

What do you like to drink in the fall?
Pumpkin spice coffee.

What is fall weather like where you live?
Northeast New Jersey is very nice in Fall - cool but not too cold with lots of sun.

What color is fall?
Burnt yellowy red.

Do you have a favorite fall chore?
No. I like the idea of raking, but the actuality of raking, not so much.

What is your least favorite thing about fall?
Rainy fall days. Very depressing.

What is your favorite fall holiday?
Halloween, in a pretty easy walk.

What’s your favorite kind of pie?

Do you have a favorite fall book?
Not really.

Until Whenever