Monday, October 31, 2005


Was it me or was the trick or treat turnout significantly down from the last few years? What is that about?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Weekly Roundup

Because the Coalition scheduled a board meeting Wednesday (that was eventually cancelled- thanks) the Star Wars marathon got moved up a day, and went off swimingly. Started at 8:30 AM, finished at 10:15, pizza was delivered, feeling was maintained in my extremeties, and yes yes- the Star Wars saga holds up and holds together as a whole (kids movie, romance, tragedy, coming of age fairy tale, penultimate episode loaded with destiny dark and terrible, and climactic tale of redemption)- the story of the Skywalker family, of parents and kids, and of kids making right the wrongs of their parents (no wonder the conservatives got their britches all bound up). And for the record the CGI loaded prequels do match up with the analog originals- it was interesting watching the operatic scale of the prequels burn itself out both thematically and visually after the narrative climax on the lava planet and be replaced by the intimate scale of the originals (God John Williams is a genius), a scale focused squarely on the Skywalker kids and their pals, the technological limits of the analog era serving the story perfectly (although to ILM's credit the FX in Jedi do actually match up with the prequels rather well). On the whole it's a beautiful and ludicrusly ambitious work of (pop) art and pop mythology, and I'm sure more will be said on that in the future here...

It's also interesting to note that after Tuesday November 1 anybody who comes to Star Wars for the first time will be coming to it from the numerical start and not chronologically. Boy it'd be neat to talk to one of those poor souls to get their impressions of the series from I to VI; I tried during the marathon and frankly I am too messed up by growing up and growing older by these movies to pull that off.

November 1 also brings us (me) Star Wars Battlefront 2 for my PS2. Battlefront 1 was the best Star Wars game ever (which for me could make it the best videogame ever)- a guaranteed out of body experience everytime you went into sensory overloaded videogame battle in the Star Wars galaxy, and if the sequel matches or tops it I might not ever leave my house.

"Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit" is great. I didn't not smile through the entire movie, and frequently I laughed raucously loud; the entire production's obvious love of cinema, the dotty Britishness of the entire enterprise, and the film's profound craft combines to make something truly special for the entire family (yes, I occasionally like family films). God I love the British.

Smallville is too racy for it's 8 PM timeslot. Fun, but way too racy. This week Lana Lang in that black skintight Catwoman outfit, Chloe in the Japanese schoolgirl costume, all those skanky sorority girl vampires... and next week Lois Lane undercover at a strip club? At 8 PM... on a show about Superman as a young man.... clearly I am of two minds on this subject.

The audiobook of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is every bit as enjoyable as the first two as read by Jim Dale, who once again nails the simultaneously wry and whimsical tone of Rowling's prose and the nuanced tone of it's numerous characters. A textured piece that exemplifies perfectly the maturing tone of the Potter series. God I love the British.

And speaking of British whimsy (via Scotland) "Donovan's Greatest Hits" is just right (I suspect that new box set is too much). In addition to the standards "Mellow Yellow," "Jennifer Junniper" and "Sunshine Superman" you get Led Zeppelin (Jimmy, John and John Paul Jones) on "Hurdy Gurdy Man," Scorcese flashbacks courtesy of "Atlantis" and "Wear Your Love Like Heaven"- one of my all time favorite songs: trippy and sweet and beautiful, and chock full of timeless sentiments of peace and brotherhood. Everybody should have some Donovan on their shelf, and indeed this should be it.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Mass Hysteria

I have to say I thought it was pretty cool that DC's "Infinite Crisis" mini series got a "LOWBROW-BRILLIANT" rating in New York Magazine's HIGHBROW/LOWBROW-BRILLIANT/DISPICABLE matrix because yes, I do rate myself against those fancy people in NYC and to be honest, I think I do OK. But enough about me- "Infinite Crisis" is jim dandy, an insane pastiche about the armageddon of DC's mythical universe, when everything... everything is going to HELL: blue cyborgs are patrolling the world destroying superheroes and supervillains alike, all of the supervillains have banded together under Lex Luthor (they've already killed the Atom Bomb and the superhero called Uncle Sam- yikes!), all of the magic in the DC Universe is messed up and run amok (think the freaky parts of Constantine on super-crank), every interstellar race in the DC universe is at war (think Hitchhiker's Guide movie- on super-crank and a bad acid trip), and worse, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are taking a break.

Ya see, a few years back the JLA (Justice League of America) fiddled with Batman's memories to cover up a questionable tactic (the JLA mindwiped the Injustice Gang after they switched bodies- the supervillains naturally find out everybody's secret identities, badness ensues and a significant other ends up raped by a supervillain, resulting in the aforementioned super villain mind wipe) , Batman found out (naturally) and ends up building a satellite to spy on the super buddies that he can't trust anymore, a satellite which is subverted into creating the blue cyborgs that are menacing the superpowered community. Batman also finds out about said subversion and is almost killed by Superman, who is being mindcontrolled by a former friend turned mastermind who has planned to use Batman's satellite and blue androids to protect mankind from the superpowered community at all costs, a mastermind who ends up killed by Wonder Woman to save Batman and Superman, both of whom are shocked and chagrined by Wonder Woman's ultimate sanction tactics. Which brings us to the break, and why this books is so much fun, and pertinant: the emotions are universal, raw, and imminently identifiable, and like most of the best DC stuff in the last few years (including Brad Metzger's "Identity Crisis," which really applied adult tragedy and crisis to the stalwart DC Universe to tremendous effect- and started this whole story arc) I feel emotinally there in the thick of this psychedelic supercraziness, and that is groovy and intense, especially when it's all gone to the dogs, when the cornerstones of THE superhero pantheon- the ones that EVERYBODY knows, have gone their own ways (think Fleetwood Mac on super-crank), leaving everybody, everybody (superheroes, supervillains, regular people, hell... THE UNIVERSE) in a serious lurch.

Now that's what I call excitment, and yes, the world is going to hell; it does that occasionally. But in the end, like in the comics, you gotta pull together and persevere, and for the first time in a while I am intrigued to see how the DC Universe and it's holy trinity pulls it off (because... of course they will).

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The TiVO Report

I know some folks like new tv shows talked about immediately (the aintitcoolnews "First!" syndrome), but I am too damned busy, forcing me to rely on my TiVO way too much- usually late at night and days after the fact, so this is what you get (I'm sure you'll get over it):

Smallville is good again, thank God. Last year was rough and all over the place (and occasionally- corny as hell), but this year's all good: Clark and Lana finally get together, Lex is well along on the EVIL path (prediction: the series ends with Lex killing Chloe, sealing the deal), the corn factor is down, and this week they made Aquaman cool (apparently HBO's "Entourage" dissed him pretty good) even without having a harpoon for a hand (an attempt a few years back by DC to make him cool). It's got Spike (James Marsters without the bleach and the accent) for a bunch of episodes, and finally Clark Kent is starting to acknowledge his destiny as the guy who's going to save the world a lot.

Lost is the anti-reality show, where the virtues of the common good and community are exalted above the Darwinian human vs human cutthroatism of the standard "reality" show. It's genuinely suspenseful, occasionally poignant and possibly uplifting, and beautifully shot and presented. As somebody who sort of passed on the first season I hereby proclaim myself a convert, and will say that Lost is worth the hype; in fact it might even have artistic value. Whether it can keep it going is another story, but I will watch it until they stop (or maybe, conclude the series- wouldn't that be something?).

And better late than never: The PBS Independent Lens that featured Parliament Funkadelic was ass shakingly wonderful, a swell reminder of why I got seriously into the funk in college after becoming a Prince fan after the Batman soundtrack, a served a nice bop upside the head when I thought of my current rock pied piper / guru Wayne Coyne (from the Flaming Lips) that said "DUDE, YOU'VE ALWAYS BEEN COSMIC AND WEIRD AND PEOPLE COMING TOGETHER IN THE NAME OF INDIVIDUAL LIBERATION*" and that's always nice, when art inspires insight while shaking your booty. Of course that's what the funk does. Selah, and booyah.

And I am definately getting a season pass forIndependent Lens, weekly documentary film art hosted by Edie Falco.

* Ex: Themes found in the work of Prince, Public Enemy, De La Soul, Pink Floyd 73-79, John Lennon, U2, solo Roger Waters, Neil Young, Flaming Lips.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Quick Shots

The Earl /Office hour on NBC is classic, the start of a new era for television comedy.

Interpol is the best band of the new new wave, and the best dressed (not that that matters). Bloc Party is a close second, the band that is going to say something. Franz Ferdinand is just ludicrous.

Bob Dylan's "Chronicles Vol. 1" is preposterously good, although to be honest I would have preferred a straight narrative instead of the jumping around. His focus and language is hypnotic and perfect... until he jumps ahead a decade and has to get you hypnotized all over again. A minor quibble however

Buffalo Pundit Alan Bedenko is right, the American Girl controversy is perfectly ludicrous, and worthy of our contempt / mocking.

The Star Wars DVD marathon is scheduled for Wednesday October 26 at 9:00 AM (a copy from Blockbuster has legally entered my temporary possesion); after the coalition / radio show fundraiser and before my cousin's wedding (which looks to be blocking going to that damn Ratdog show) and election day madness. Election day madness will then subside in time for the radio show's possible (very likely if I have my way) Wal-Mart documentary showing event thingy, which happens to preceed the fourth Harry Potter movie in IMAX and then it's HOLIDAY MADNESS. It is a busy time, but damnit I am watching those damn movies in the fashion always dreamed by Uncle George, the father of our popular culture feast.

It's only been 28 years in the offing. The countdown has begun.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Tonight's "The Office" is profound; a tour de force of human honesty (and excesses thereof) and insight. As much as I loved the BBC original, I can honestly say I've laughed at the American version more; as much for it's familiar, native vernacular as it's portrait of human suffering and the spirit to prevail. Some purists might say that's a leftover from "Office Space," but who cares? It's funny, and it is savage, but it's got heart too.

Monday, October 10, 2005

For me, The Sopranos came early...

“How you can be so blindly pro Bush?”

“I like his wife Laura. Used to buy weed from her at SMU. Good shit. Good shit.”

"Weeds" was hilarious and I hope they renew it for another season.

And yes, the Yankees are out! Out!

In other news I have made peace with Arrested Development, and accept that it is doomed. While enjoying it's final episodes I will have to move on to "My Name Is Earl," featuring Jason Lee (from the classic Mallrats) in a non swearing TV star turn that is by turns hilariously off color and dark and an outright life affirming half hour. I particularly liked Earl putting himself and white trash Mrs. Lanningham through a non smoking program (God I love that actress, who seems to be great in anything), and any scene with Ethan Supplee (also from Mallrats) as Earl's lovable dimbulb brother Randy.

And a quick DVD Watch: "Kingdom of Heaven" did nothing for me. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" however did much for me, it's dry yet outrageous British humor perfectly complimented by the always creative music video pastiche visual style. Another type of sci-fi fantasy, whimsical and light while being about LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING, and a lovely entertainment in any case.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

If You Like To Laugh and You Don't Watch "Arrested Development" and "The Office" Than Honestly, You Don't Really Like To Laugh

Sorry but it's true: "Arrested Development" works on every level (visual comedy, irony, as post modern sitcom), and this year is even more gonzo than the first two put together (Super Dave Osbourne! Chachi replacing the Fonze!). Truly hilarious. "The Office" however is sublime; a life afirming half hour of comedy that is both wondrously observant and extraordinarily honest about people, the people we work with, and the people who boss us around (at work, or period). I've said it many times and I will say it again: if "The Office" gets cancelled it's because the office work boom of the 90's is over and not enough Americans work in offices anymore- the show's true audience, the folks who will probably recognize somebody they work with, and will laugh at them (truly cathartic).

Watch them both, repeatedly. Trust me on this folks.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


I just read an interesting tidbit in the new Rolling Stone's "Hot List 2005" section in which they slag off NYC as a "Hot Dead Zone" for a variety of reasons, including how "at night the cool kids used to flock to the Mudd Club, Area and Limelight- places with personality. Now New York nightlife is all about soulless, hanger sized enormo-domes like Marquis and Crobar, full of gelled up guidos and khaki clad tools." Hey now. Isn't that what happened to Chippewa... years ago? That is so awesome... the (former?) epicenter of universal cool borrowing a page from our humble Queen City, following in OUR tracks. Yes!

Of course that doesn't do anything about the guidos and tools, to say nothing of the sad homogenization of downtown bar scene afflicting both our great metropolises, but I'm sure the tide will turn eventually.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Enough is Enough

I just saw a commercial for the most ludicrus program on the National Georgraphic Channel- "The Science of the Bible" and now, now I say "ENOUGH!" Is this what they have to put on to appeal to the more Jesus-based parts of the country? "CSI"style flash without substance (to paraphrase Chief Wiggum) meets the 700 Club? God knows we can't talk about global warming (or as I call it, "The Painfully Slow Man-Made Apocalypse)... that would upset... God? no... Dubya... yes... and evolution, that's strictly taboo in 21st Century America... so they stick us with this tripe? On the National Geographic Channel?

God I feel like the pet boy Sherman- tripping in the waaaay back machine. Whoops- they might consider that science too in the Red States and take that away from me too... along with reason and logic.

"Serenity" = Pure Hargle Bargle

Boy I felt sorry for Joss Whedon when the 20th Century Fox drongos cancelled his "Firefly," to know that it was one of the best television shows ever, and to have it shitcanned by corporate dipsticks before it could even start, wow that had to hurt. And then of course being a neurotic artist, he couldn't let go of it, and then the legions of devoted spazes just had to run out and bought the DVD collection, giving another corporate dipstick the ludicrus idea that a canned tv show would be the basis for a movie, which brings me to "Serenity." God I wish I could recommend it to you but I just can't. It just doesn't work: the plot is a hodgepodge and thoroughly purfunctory mess, and unless you watched the show the characters are virtually impenitrable. Yes "Firefly" was groundbreaking tv; it's past / future /eastern /western /sci-fi pastiche was the perfect vehicle for getting down and dirty with the human condition- and the best fodder for dramatic tv ever (although it was also by turns hilarious, sexy, and profoundly observant too). And yes some of the story elements from "Serenity" would have made for a FINE second half of the first season (or second season, because Whedon works best with a large canvass), but in the end "Serenity" just doesn't cut it.

Now if it succeeds enough that they bring it back as a TV show... that would be OK.