Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 in Brief

My computer is under fire so I have to make this brief from another terminal:


Star Wars Episode III - The Revenge of the Sith. The movie, the DVD, it was all good. Star Wars is finally over on the big screen.

U2 at the HSBC.

Live 8. The show and the DVD. That we forced MTV to do a "do over" becuase they hosed us out of our music was a triumph of taste and judgement.

My Morning Jacket, Z. A magnificent album. The best American album of the year.

My Name is Earl and Office Space on NBC. The future of televised comedy.

Battlestar Galactica. The best cult TV show since Buffy, which was the best cult show since X-Files, which was the best show since Star Trek: TNG. It might even be better than Farscape.

Wilco, Kicking Television. The best live album of the year.

The Flaming Lips, VOID (Video Overview in De-eceleration). Fun music videos and music video home movies in delicious and delirious surround sound.

U2 Live in Chicago 2005. The best live DVD of the year.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling. Dark, heartbreaking.

John Fogerty and John Mellencamp at Darien Lake. Fogerty was mind boggling.

The Peoples History of the United States, by Howard Zinn. It done blew my mind.

Mercury Rev, The Secret Migration. Beautiful.

Star Wars: Battlefront 2 and FIFA 2006 on PS2. Bloody brilliant.

Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run boxed set. Now I truly understand the power of the Boss.

And finally The Tragically Hip, Hipeponymous. The Hip in a nutshell, or a boxed set as it were.

And looking ahead to 2006, new Flaming Lips, new Hip and the Hip on tour, and maybe, just maybe Playstation 3. Eliot Spitzer being our next governor too wouldn't hurt either.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Fast Food

There should be a law preventing fast food chains from advertising in regions where they are not available to back that ____ up. I mean, Breakfeast Bistro Sandwich?!? If that chiabatta bread bun is halfway decent and you put a pat of butter on top that egg and cheese and your choice of bacon, sausage or ham... damn that would be the best ____ing breakfast sandwich ever. Why just this past Christmas Sunday over brunch I said "why if you put some bacon on top of this chiabatta bread... that would be one fine breakfast sandwich" (there was a child present). I kid you not. But because Sonic ain't up this far north we get tormented with such heavenly visions (even their slushees look scrumptious) with no hope of pay off. That's BS.

Fast Food Alert! The Mc Donald's on Elmwood across from Channel 4 has the McRib. That processed pig... the sauce and onion and dill pickle... Goddamn I love the McRib. I haven't seen any commercials so I don't know if this is an isolated event, and to be honest their drive thru is dodgy business at best, but there it is. The McRib.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Boxing Day Report

- Thank Jebus I had today off.

- The Springsteen Born to Run boxed set is unfreakingbelievable. The concert dvd from '75 is magnificent. I thought going to see U2 was like church, the Boss before he was the Boss was like a religious revival with straight up rock and insurgent soul music.

- Media Play has been picked clean. I did get the last of copy of The Art of Star Wars Episode III in paperback, completing my set from I to IV (Empire and Jedi are out of print I think), and like the prequels it is the best of the bunch. I also like the fact that when put on the shelf, I has a white cover, II light gray, III dark, dark gray, and IV's cover is pure black, along with V and VI if memory serves. Cool.

- My favorite character died today and I will miss him. I've seen Vincent Schiavelli on TV and in the movies since I was a kid: Barney Miller, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Star Trek TNG, The X-Files, Buffy, Batman Returns, one of the Bronson Bond movies, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, God- everything. His humor, his class, his physical grace... he was great in everything he did, and he's been in a lot of good stuff. Adios amigo.

- Something is hilariously wrong with our nation when Monday Night Football is calling it quits on network TV. Terribly, hilariously, wrong.

- I sort of skipped the 2nd disc of the Live 8 DVD set last night so tonight I made up for it:

Razorlight - Eh.
Madonna - Great. I like her new fangled old school roller skating jams.
Will Smith - It was fun watching Phillie rapping the Fresh Prince theme for him.
Brian Wilson - I really, really like this second coming of Brian Wilson, boy genius. He was great at Darien Lake a few years back, and he's great here (and everywhere else he's turned up lately).
Snow Patrol - These guys are great.
Toby Keith - I skipped him totally.
The Killers - Fun. I like these guys.
Dave Matthews - The first time I ever liked him.
Joss Stone - She's got a great voice this one.
Scissor Sisters - A real hoot.
Alicia Keys - I really don't understand the fuss.
Velvet Revolver - Stone cold GNR rock.
Jet- Total AC / DC knock offs.

I refuse to watch Sting perform Police songs (until he reunites with that legendary band); and I watched all the hard rocking stuff from the 3rd disc again (Stevie, The Who, Pink Floyd), and Macca, who was good (thankfully he didn't do "Freedom" - yeesh).

Christmas Rock!

It's been a long, LONG time since I've run home to dig into a Christmas present; I couldn't even try to tell you when I've been all a-twitter late on a Christmas night, but tonight I was ALL about rocking to some Live 8 in DTS surround sound and when all was said and done that is what I did, my post Christmas dinner lethargy temporarily vanquished. A word about dinner: it was excellent. The wine, excellent. The port that I had with dessert, excellent. It was all good, and it filled me up (cocktails at the Buckley's helped- hot damn!).

What I watched before the post dinner lethargy came back squared for the night was:

Macca & U2 - "Sgt. Pepper's." Awesome.
U2 - Awesome, a triumphant return to the stage that launched them onto the world stage. God I love U2.
Richard Ashcroft & Coldplay - Ashcroft showed Coldplay up. "Bittersweet Symphony" is one of the best songs ever written (even if some of it was nicked).
R.E.M. - What is the blue face paint all about Michael? A declaration of blue state pride?
Keane - Does what Coldplay does only better.
Travis - The Scottish Tragically Hip. That is a compliment. "Sing" really is a wonderful song.
Green Day - Woke me back up.
Snoop Dogg - So huge.
Annie Lennox - I love her voice. The most soulful white female voice out there.
Roxy Music - Awesome. Cool. I would have been so much cooler in high school had I been listening to Roxy Music.
Neil Young - Not dead yet, and proud of it. Pegi looked good.
Stevie Wonder - It's a shame he had to perform with those punters (those dudes form Matchbox Five).
The Who - Going to see them on tour next year.
Pink Floyd - Magical. How it's supposed to sound, how it's supposed to be, and ultimately why I wanted this boxed set. Thanks Mom. That 97 Rock Bimbo (Anita West is not a bimbo) was totally talking out her ass when she badmouthed this performance. Something I'd wanted to see for a long time, and now it's mine.

I can't wait to rock to the rest of the dvd's, and to rock to this stuff again. Damn this was the best concert ever. Thank God I am off Boxing Day.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


Sure it was a brown Christmas, and the roads clogged with Yuletide jackalopes, but the Christmas spirit was high and the swag was bountiful this year. Of note for this here blog:

- Live 8 DVD boxed set.

- Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Born to Run 30th Anniversary Set.

- The Essential Johnny Cash.

- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix audiobook on cd.

- 2 copies of the new Al Franken! An honest mistake.

- A mini dartboard for my desk at work. One side a traditional cricket style, the back features my new work decision maker (ex. "No" "Take a Break" ).

A good Christmas indeed.

Midnight Mass Fun

- For my money the bittersweet but HILARIOUS Christmas Americana of A Christmas Story mops the floor with It's a Wonderful Life's fairy tale take on capitalism and small town America, and in honor of this I give you audio clips from this American masterpiece. For the babyboomers it apparently gets it right (according to reports), and for anybody who's ever been a kid it get's that right too: gawking at department store window toy displays, the kid-centric inner world where the kids saves the day in his dreams, having your innocence taken for the first time by corporate America, enduring bullies and their toadies, having to wear gifts you wouldn't be caught dead in, getting disciplined for foul language learnt from a parental figure, sticking yer tongue to a frozen metal pole... it captures all of it. God bless Jean Sheppard, and God bless this movie.

- That said Donna Reed is the bomb in It's a Wonderful Life... wholesome and alluring. Ha cha cha.

- Last night's midnight mass at Holy Spirit wasl most likely my last at that venerable parish as it's days are numbered and will soon be folded into another parish community, and that is sad. We've been going to midnight mass for over 10 years, and while the hymnal entertainment fluctuates in terms of quality the buzz I nurse and enjoy during the mass does not. Maybe it's a Buffalo thing, going to midnight mass after enjoying a Christmas Eve's worth of pops, or maybe it's a Parks thing, I don't know; I do know that midnight mass is better under the influence- the frankencense more powerful and my goodwill toward men crests, and it is good, and tonight's was no different. Alas, I will miss midnight mass at Holy Spirit.

- But that great parish will not go softly into that good night! Holy Spirit is opening a food pantry, convening their first parish council in 25 years, and organizing Kissing Bridge ski trips for the CYO and parish at large. Fight the power!

- It was exactly one year ago tonight that the TiVo taped the Austin City Limits with The Flaming Lips and I couldn't possibly delete it: the overabundance of joy in the studio that night... the confetti and balloons and people in cartoon animal costumes dancing and carrying on... the pluperfect rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow"... it is the perfect Christmas Eve entertainment and I enjoyed it again before passing out.

Merry Christmas folks.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


24 hours of A Christmas Story on TBS. Furnace fighting... fudge... shooting your eye out... hallelujah!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Lashing Out

- Man they are really putting the screws to those striking transit workers in NYC and I am beyond cheesed off. The mayor, Pataki, the courts, the goddamned media- everybody is crapping on those valiant folks and I have had enough. How dare Americans FIGHT for their rights and work benefits! Why if I can't have a pension- why should they? Shocking! Jebus, for a country that worships football (America rules) and war this skittishness about workers standing tall and fighting for theirs is frankly un-American p#@@%ness; ruddy wuss out central, and it disgusts me.

- This news story, "Growing Population Shifts Political Power," coupled with this news story, "Kilt Wearing Teen Seeks Dress Code Change" freaked me out. I mean, these ding dongs should not be getting more clout in our country, in the 21st Century. Banning bloody kilts for the prom?!? How damned backward is that authority figure? Are they so closeted out there that they haven't even seen Braveheart? I salute that kid for standing up to the backward dingleberries.

- Those sheltered fools are almost as out of the larger loop as the "intelligent design" crowd, who are apparently so consumed with simultaneously denying that it's all about God AND saying that of course it's all about God that they are blissfully unaware that the fundamental concept of a "higher power" being responsible for complex humans like us has been a trope of science fiction and comic books forever, whether it's benevolent pre-historic aliens on Star Trek, extradimensional mice in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, midichlorians in Star Wars, etc. Yeesh, these people need to either 1) get the hell out of the house or 2) turn on the bloody TV, and definately 3) LEAVE US AND SCIENCE ALONE.

- Oh yeah, this country is @#$%ed. Totally @#$%ed. If seeing that informercial late the other night selling quasi Holy Water that upon receipt blesses your mailbox with money from Heaven (so ludicrous, so profane that I thought it HAD to be a joke- until it went on for 10 minutes) didn't convince me of this then seeing that informercial at work yesterday (the nearby tv only gets Channel 29 lately) which basically featured women with big gazongas selling a scam that involves blissful boobs making LOADS OF MONEY selling "The Best Vitamin in the World" certainly did. Ye Gods! It was preposterous in the extreme, and a horrific portent for the future of our nation... I just can't get the voice of Cletus the Slackjawed Yokel saying "but the teevee sed I could ern tooo thousan' dollars in en hour!" out of my head....

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Good and Bad

It's good that Floyd's Dave Gilmour is hitting the road next year for 10 sure to sell out FAST shows in the US and Canada- heck, it's awesome. It is bad however, very very bad that he appears to be the lone holdout for a Floyd reunion, a disgrace considering that conventional wisdom held that it would be Roger Waters who'd be the spoiler. Shame on you Dave Gilmour.

Tickets for Dave go on sale 1/14 at noon. My computer will be ready.

Paperboy Memories

This blog post got me thinking back to my only remaining vivid memories of being a paperboy (the rest all run together). Both involve bodily pain; I was shot in the hand by a bb gun by the older paperboys busting my young onions rather cruelly- not particularly a fond memory. The other however is a keeper- when the distributor's dickweed son called my best pal Terry a racial slur and got piledrived on his head All American Wrestling style on the concrete for his trouble. Amazingly he wasn't crippled or rendered a retard, but his hash was settled permanently and he bothered us paperboys nevermore. It was bloody brilliant.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

- It is the job of every Western New Yorker to put their mojo behind the Buffalo Sabres for the remainder of this road trip. They are playing magnificent hockey, and it's our DUTY to stand behind them.

- I finally saw the last episode of Long Way Round, the only other reality show I've ever really wasted my time on (the other being Comedy Central's wonderful and hilarious Comediens of Comedy) and it was excellent. Profound. To hell with pitting humans against each other in the name of televised competition as entertainment- I want adventure! True human drama that speaks to our higher nature! Good Christian fellowship! This is what I like, and this is what I got from Ewan Obi-Wan McGregor and Charley Boorman's (some other guy, the son of some director I believe) global motorcycle journey, and I defy you to watch that series and not be moved by the final episode which features joyful reunions and the profound pleasure of fulfilling a glorious quest. I also liked the bleeped out British swearing (as always), and I also thought the Tuetel's were actually cool; riding and kicking it with the lads instead of incessantly hollering at each other as depicted on their own increasingly redundant reality show (what episodes I've seen all seem... the same, except for the bike). Indeed I've never wanted to ride a motorcycle until seeing this show.

- I am getting HELLA-tired of the union bashing going on regarding the NYC transit strike. Pissed even. ABC News did a total sob story piece about the people done wrong by the strike, and in an AP article I read at work I saw that one asshole New Yorker actually likened the strike to terrorism. Apparently the asshole in question was out of town on 9/11, when actual terrorism struck NYC; that or they are just a total asshole, talking out their ass. Sorry for the momentary profanity.

- The Simpsons Christmas episode was titanic: Homer J's version of the first Christmas was genius (Marge as Mary: "I think this non traditional household just might make it"); Grandpa Simpson's delirious Santa Claus / WW2 bit was irreverent and just plain swell, and the Simpsons Do The Nutcracker Suite has to be seen (and heard) to be believed. Way better than the Easter episode, and easily one of the best animated episodes ever.

- I'm not exactly sure what I think about the idea that Flavor Flav has his own reality show. I don't think that can be filed under "Clocking the Time..."

Monday, December 19, 2005


I saw this on Buzzmachine and it is awesome: an online slideshow of Fred's last day on terrestrial radio with Howard and all the attendent mass hysteria. Like Stern's show itself it's unexpurated (including out of focus shots and shots of man-ass), hilarious, and oddly touching.

Buzzmachine is a good blog, and not just because Jeff Jarvis is a total Stern fan; his is a keen wit with a long view on many important and unimportant subjects.

FIFA 2006 is a damn fine videogame: the gameplay is totally immersive and the surround sound totally places you on the pitch of those crazy, majestic soccer stadiums all over the world except here. And it's football people, not soccer, football. We play American rules football, They play football (except for Australia, where they also play Australian Rules Football), and that's just the way it is. Anyhoo, the commentating is by two genuine British football gurus for the authentic Sky Sports experience, and the truly global nature of the game is on full display as the choices of teams is mindboggling and fun to dig into. Also, the music used throughout is great: some Brit rock (Oasis, Bloc Party, The Doves), some weird world music, and some sexy French music that's jim dandy.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Partisan Blogging

Liberals are just way cooler than conservatives; we're also much better looking. Example: the dowdy and dour conservative bird from the San Francisco Chronicle versus The Nation's Katrina Vanden Heuvel on CNN this morning. Example II: the people I run with- frankly I think we're a fine looking bunch of people.

Right wing blogging is just a complete waste of time. Watching the dingus from equivocate and stand behind nothing he was saying on Reliable Sources was just pathetic. True bloggers shoot from the hip... and live and die by what they say, they don't hide and dance like Republicans; Hell, this is essentially what the "new media" is all about: letting it ALL hang out, and when more often than not yer right wing bloggers are just ball-less parrots spouting the party line there's really just no point to it.

Bill Clinton is a SEX IDOL by all reliable reports, lusted after by so many excellent, intelligent women during his recent Buffalo visit that it's clear his mojo is riding at an all time high. El Presidente on the other hand is lusted after by nobody, his mojo utterly kaput.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Karma and Stuff

I have no idea how The West Wing is going to handle to passing of John Spencer. I was really hoping that Jimmy Smits would win and we'd get four more years (at least) of Leo McGarry, and while I cannot imagine Lawrence O'Donnell and co. would go with a Republican in these troubled times (troubled for the GOP), especially now that they've weathered the storm during the height of "The Dark Times," I'm stone cold perplexed as to how they're gonna swing a Santos victory without his sage. The loss of John Spencer is also heavy upon me: I've always been a fan, from his turn in Presumed Innocent to his run on LA Law as the grizzled but vulnerable Tommy Mulaney; and his Leo was the true emotional foundation rock of the show (especially considering they weren't originally going to show all that much of the President- until Martin Sheen turned Bartlett into the President of our dreams, and rightly took over) and he will be missed profoundly.

This is what I get for gleefully anticipating the third leg of the troika of death.

Also worthy of note: CNN's Jack Cafferty goes off on El Presidente. Bloody brilliant and all true. Thanks Crooks and Liars.

How awesome is it that the Sabres hot streak is a Top Story on Yahoo News. Martin Biron is a GOD.

And a new feature: Hollywood Types Who Are Too, Too Skinny (week ending 12/17):
Rachel McAdams
Molly Shannon

Friday, December 16, 2005

OK, I didn't build my entire day around it, but I did catch Howard's farewell speech this morning on his last terrestrial radio broadcast and it was some damn fine oratory- "the last of a dying breed" is right. America is a poorer place for having public airwaves that are now Howard-less; that said America will be a much better place when Howard is running wild and sticking it to the man on Eh- Eh- Eh.

Last night's holiday OC was shrugworthy. Simpsons Season 7 on DVD is not. SS7 is magnificent. Titanic. The best season so far compiled on DVD.

It's official, the consensus is forming and I hereby pronounce it "Correctomundo!": according to Jib Jab and Rolling Stone 2005 SUCKED MOOSENARDS (the new RS with Kong on the cover has a swell feature titled "2005: The Worst Year Ever"). To suggest that God is very, very angry with us is a profound understatement...

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Because I will be out of the office tomorrow today was the last day I'll be able to listen to Howard Stern at work, and it was tough. Even though I'll be making the move to satellite the fact that the increased bawdy factor will make listening to the unadulterated Howard in the office difficult if not impossible, and that makes me sad to be without my work lifeline until 10 AM every day. And today we got the return of Jackie the Jokeman- a beloved voice from the past, and Robin's FINAL news segment on terrestrial radio (tomorrow's Stern is slated to be a real blowout apparently).

A bittersweet morning indeed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More Snap Judgements

- Showtime has renewed Weeds for a second season, and is allegedly in talks to pick up the cancelled classic Arrested Development. Awesome.

- Stern was godlike on the Daily Show last night. Maybe it was because he towered over Stewart, maybe it was the air of triumph in Stern's swagger- I don't know. Indeed a great interview, and I totally like Howard's new black power / gonzo Sirius logo. Godlike.

- Takk, the new album by Icelandic rock heroes Sigur Ros is the best album for driving on snowy evenings, ethereal and calming- especially if you are driving on the 190 or 90. Trust me.

- The movie preview review: the Texas Chainsaw Massacre ripoff coming out on X-Mas day looks like a TCM ripoff whose possible box office success on X-Mas day bodes poorly for our nation's collective mental state; the Vince Vaughn Jennifer Aniston comedy about breaking up holds no interest for me (because I've invested so much in their real life happiness! Not.); and X-Men 3 looks big and ludicrus and heavy on the explosions. Whether it will be any good without writer/director Bryan Singer (whose instead doing Superman Returns) cannot be divined from the preview.

- King Kong is awesome. Too long, and probably too much of a good thing, but awesome nonetheless.

Midnight Cine-a-rama Snap Judgements

Academy Award winner hubris struck Peter Jackson silly and by not subtracting anything from the 3 hour theatrical cut of King Kong he really sticks it to it himself. The film is beautiful. Naomi Watts is luminescent. Jack Black can really act, and Kong is awesome. After all of the dinosaur stuff in Kong- I can say that Hollywood should never do dinosaurs again, or monster movies too for that matter- Kong delivers those goods in spades. There is some truly awesome stuff in this movie, mind boggling stuff really... but by not cutting it down and giving the film some pace Jackson strangles the film and the audience so that any meaningful grace note (the Jackson touches that made LOTR so emotionally satisfying) comes across totally drawn out, almost ludicrus. King Kong is great, but way too frigging long, and that's all there is to it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The High Holy Altar of the Midnight Cine-a-rama

For some cinephiles there is nothing quite like the midnight show: the obsessive film worship of the gathered faithful guarantees no cellphone usage, no outright tomfoolery, and the only talking done after the lights go down is in the worthy service of appraising the previews. Indeed, in this era of going to the movies these niceties are like manna from heaven- it is worship, and it is good. Tonight will be my fourth midnight premiere, after the three Star Wars prequels (Return of the King was shown at 10 PM as part of the LOTR marathon back in 2003 so it doesn't count), and this honor will be going to Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong, allegedly the movie of the year (the film of the year is apparently Brokeback Mountain, hoorah). A review will be forthcoming...

Also worthy of mention this week: Howard Stern on The Daily Show tonight, and an annual Chrismukkah episode on Thursday's OC. The 7th season of The Simpsons on DVD also landed today (I sold some DSL's at work so I had some extra cash-sue me) and it is excellent. Magnificent. The '95-96 season was vintage (on which I will expound later once I've digested the set)... vintage.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Bantha Fodder

Last week while plotting our U2 concert doings my old roommate gave me the business over the phone for being one of those nuts who thinks well of the Star Wars prequels and accused me of being soft on them critically speaking, and my pal further declared himself as standing behind those beliefs before the show Friday night at City Grille over beers. I of course stand by my beliefs too, and will hereby defend myself and explain where I stand on matters where some Star Wars fans like myself and Steve O diverge dramatically:

Jar Jar Binks: Episode I was a kids movie and Jar Jar is George's Bullwinkle- get over it folks. Yes many wanted I to feature an already evil Darth Vader, and they too need to get over it. Lucas wanted IIII to be about how and why Darth Vader became evil, and to do that he needed to be super good to start with, and he totally accomplished that by going with Jar Jar, the teen queen heroine, primary colors, Darth Maul, and kid Vader the kid hero. And it all balances out in III.

Hayden Christiansen: Lucas went with another unknown for a pivotal role and in my opinion he worked- I have it on good authority that the ladies loved him in II (the romance that follows I the comedy), all dark and handsome and tempestuous and ludicrously in love, Romeo and James Dean (he also whines a lot like Luke in IV). In III he conveys the rage, passion and confusion that contribute to his tragic fall into darkness, and by the end his Anakin is ready to become the Darth Vader we remember from IV & V and redeemed in VI.

The acting in general: these movies are of a piece, and the originals weren’t necessarily Shakespeare or profound either dialogue or acting wise. These are Saturday popcorn movies (more specifically, the Saturday matinee serials) for the Planet Earth that also happens to be pop mythology for the world, and as this it works as a whole. And for the record, Natalie Portman totally channeled Carrie Fisher’s willfulness, Ewan McGregor was excellent in all three- the reincarnation of Alec Guiness as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Sam Jackson’s Mace Windu was serene and totally against type, Liam Neeson was awesome as the sage mentor in I, and Yoda was great in all three.

Darth Vader wasn’t evil enough: Personally I thought betraying the Jedi and slaughtering Jedi tots made Vader in III plenty evil, but hey, that’s just me. The key is that by Lucas’s thinking Vader is evil because of his decisions and actions, not because he’s EVIL; this is of course the moral fable component of the Star Wars saga, hell it’s the moral component of fables and myths period. Nobody is born evil. I guess you can be raised evil, but that doesn’t really happen a whole lot. Most times people become evil out of choice, as a result of their actions and how they choose to live their life; and through literature and art we measure ourselves against these mirrors and parables of the human condition. Come on now, the dude chooses power over justice and what is right, kills junior Jedi, attacks his pregnant wife out of jealousy, and tries to kill his mentor-brother-father- trust me, Darth Vader is a bad guy.

On digital vs analog technology (Steve and I didn’t disagree on this point- this is more for the haters in cyberspace): I like George Lucas unleashed and unfettered, and I like the fact that digital technology was there to meet his vision of the “more civilized” era that existed before the oppressive Empire, and I for one loved the fact that IIII was Star Wars on acid, or rather, jazz riffs in the Star Wars idiom that deconstructs (constructs) the Star Wars mythology we knew: the magnificent scale and grandeur of galaxy shaking events that set up IVVI the precise inverse of the scale of the original films we know and love, about fathers and kids and generations interacting forcefully with one another in the name of saving the galaxy.

Also, after watching I to VI on DVD they do match up with the 1997 special editions, and really that’s all that should matter anyway. The saga has finally been told, and I for one am glad.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The West Wing was good, a pleasant reminder of it’s glory days of high drama, pageantry, and multiple balls artfully juggled (there's also something to be said about seeing female series regulars in glitzy gowns and such); also, this week’s was not a Christmas episode- I was hoodwinked by the Christmas Nazis at NBC into thinking it was based on the promo from last week. Bastards. The logic and continuity of The West Wing is indeed intact. The Simpsons also passed muster (the return of Sideshow Bob, and Mister Teeny!). The real question is this: is America ready to truly embrace tv comedies not filmed before a live studio audience and without laugh tracks, or will NBC’s move to revive their Thursday night with the superlative My Name is Earl and The Office fail miserably? By publically pegging their once marquee Thursday night comedy cachet on these.… rather unorthodox programs we will indeed find out…

And what’s with that stoner Jesus from the promo for NBC’s upcoming midseason replacement comedy about Aidan Quinn the priest that seems to be part Father Dowling Mystery, part Weeds, and part The L Word? Criminy.

ADD, a West Wing Conundrum, and The U2 CD of the Day

TiVo is changing America, and not neccesarily for the better: it's never been easier to save miscellaneous stuff (the last Bill Moyers Now, The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show) forever, you can get more TV in than ever before- which could feasibly become a cocoon for people to retreat into, the ultimate reality retreat; and it allows us to indulge in mental foolishness. Example: in the old VHS days you'd watch something like Arrested Development immediately to prevent any tape accidents and or tape-overs; nowadays with the TiVO I was able to push it off- so bummed was I over the imminent end of this fine show and under the misapprehenshion that this was it's final show that I pushed it out until I plucked up the mojo to watch it. I also confess that I checked the "To Do List" and saw that there are a few more episodes left and that also made it easier to deal with. Boy I laughed my ass off to Cherlize Theron's finale on the show (along with Dave Thomas and Super Dave Osbourne!), the show is hilarious on every level and in every way, and I look forward to having the whole show on DVD so I can pass it on. America is just lucky that AD isn't making it into syndication or it would eventually feel really bad for cancelling so awesome a show before they actually watched it. As you can see I am taking this hard.

And can anybody tell me what's the deal with West Wing? Is this Sheen's last season? And if so why is Christmas happening after the live debate but before the Alan Alda / Jimmy Smits election? I just want to know the score so I can plan for the original cast send off (hopefully penned by drug fiend / WW series creator-mastermind Aaron Sorkin). Any help would be much appreciated.

The U2 CD of the day:
Yesterday - Zooropa
Today - Unforgettable Fire
Tomorrow - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and War

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Morbid Fascination, and TiVo Report

Richard Pryor (1940-2005), Senator Eugene McCarthy (1916-2005). You know what that means- the deathwatch is on. Stay tuned for our third contestant...

But seriously, Pryor was a genius who blazed the trail trod by so many other giants of comedy and culture, and Gene McCarthy was a true Minnesota maverick and hero to many long hairs like myself, and both will be missed.

A Quick TiVo Report:

Something happened and the TiVo failed to record Thursday's OC. If you have it taped or saved contact me. This is my first TiVo miss, and it better not happen again. I am very upset.

Smallville looks like a movie, feels like a movie, and frankly it's starting to get mythic. This week's It's a Wonderful Life / Star Trek: TNG "Tapestry" ripoff Christmas episode focusing on Lex Luthor was brilliant. Michael Rosenbaum's performance was magnificent- you feel Luthor's Wonderful Life happiness and joy, which makes his turn to darkside in the cruel cruel real world all the more cold and jarring. The evolution (de-evolution) of Lex Luthor from Clark Kent pal into Superman's future evil mastermind arch nemesis is in high gear. The secondary story with Clark and Chloe saving Christmas in Metropolis (or the Toys for Tots campaign as it were) was swell too. Unfortunately I suspect that John Schneider will be pulling a Glenn Ford as I hereby predict that Pa Kent will indeed be the significant death planned for February's 100th episode of Smallville...

More Random Thoughts on U2

- It's hard to believe that U2 has been on top of the rock music world for almost 20 years (18 since the '87 Joshua Tree breakthrough year), and still at the height of their powers: bestselling album, sold out world tour, succcesful celebrity lobbying efforts, continued relevancy- it's almost ludicrus.

- It's almost harder to believe that these guys have been together for 30 years: teen hooligans, chums, boon companions, brothers. At this point it is true: these guys will be together, and with us, forever.

- I love my customary tour merchandise: my t-shirt is the three symbol jobber (V symbol, peace sign, bomb) that they have for every tour with the tour itinerary on the back- striking and extremely soft to the touch (ooh that African cotton and non sweatshop craftsmanship), and the tour programme is of course swell. Honestly, I do love giving these guys my money.

- It's never been a better time to pick up U2 Vertigo 2005 Live in Chicago on DVD; if you went to the show or missed it, this is an excellent document / souvenir of their current world tour, and because the setlists are rather different you get a real taste of how great these shows are.

- I've said it before and I will say it again: boys please come back next year for some 2006 shows. Do stadiums- a fun summer fiesta circuit, cash in, I don't care. A summer U2 stadium tour would be awesome.

One Love, and The Group of Death

U2 delivered another killer show last night, not as killer as the "profound" 2001 Bflo show (according to the guy in the Bflo News and myself), but powerful nonetheless. The rock was solid ("Vertigo" kicked that show; "Bullet the Blue Sky" shredded), the preaching pitch perfect and inobtrusive (none of that "am I buuuggin' ya?" of yesteryear- Bono's got it down) and I agree of course with all of it, and the "show" was excellent- I am way glad I had a nice buzz going in. I am glad they've incorporated elements of their mad 90's stage shows ("strange and fanciful shit" according to Bono) into their current outting, and I am really glad to see the lads introducing that element of mystery back into their repertoire (ala The Hip and Radiohead) after doing rote setlists to accomodate the visual and technical requirements of ZooTV and Popmart, and to a lesser extent Elevation 2001. I mean, "Another Time, Another Place" sent me to dig out "Boy" to make sure I heard it right, "Miss Sarejevo" was awesome (Bono did Pavarotti proud in my book), and the full band rendition of "Instant Karma" was brilliant. Almost magical ("and we all shine on!"). It was the best of all possible worlds. Needless to say I screamed and sang myself hoarse (how beautiful was that "40"? God.) and am paying for it today, even though I could've still pulled it out and rocked out in Cleveland tonight if I only had tickets...

And why oh why did the USA have to land in the Group of Death in next year's Copa Mundial (World Cup)? The Czechs will be tough, and Italy... we've been Italy's beeyatch for ages, and Ghana is going to be a great unknown, a potential stealth spoiler for our boys. Man, our work is cut out for us next July, that is for sure. Our karma will have to be pure.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

If the first season of Veronica Mars was "The Black Dahlia"- all obsession laced whodunit, then the second is totally "LA Confidential" high school style- the twists and corners of James Ellroy's labrynthine ode to murder, mayhem, class warfare, and moral corruption indeed have found a mirror in this strange gem of a TV show. Veronica even features the heart, humor, and abstract beauty of Ellroy's fiction (except for his last one, that one wasn't beautiful in any way).

If Lost is the mainstream show to watch, mainstream TV's hot "experience," VM is where you go to get your intense on with the cult TV nuts who like their TV hot and heavy for the brain. Thank God for Tivo, that's all I gotta say...

Our Street Fighting Men

I like the classic rock bent during Sabres games, and I like watching the Sabres come from behind to dig it out after a semi-ugly game (that was fun nonetheless). I really like the "Braveheart" game intro that is more nostalgic and beautiful than outright testosterone-o-rama and the fact that I didn't have to endure one Backstreet Boys or cheese pop nonsense. The Sabres are our Street Fighting Men, rumbling and winning and I think the atmosphere at the games is GREAT. What I can't figure out is: what the fudge happened to the non hoi polloi demographic of WNY vis a vis the depressing number of empty seats in the tawny 100 and 200 levels? Are times that tough in suburbialand for the $100,000 - $499,999 crowd? Or is there something better to do in town than go to a Sabres game? Or is the upper crust that lame? I just don't know.

Tomorrow night is U2 at the HSBC. Finally, the tickets that I've owned for 9 months will do something. Yes.

And in the HOT TIP department: UPN is rerunning the legendary Victoria's Secret Fashion Show next Tuesday at 9. I don't think I will ever delete it. Dare I call it art? It's certainly spectacle to be sure, but I also suspect that it transcends mere commerce. Or maybe that's just the video pheromones talking. Who can be sure?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I wasn't crazy about a "Yankee Santa" gift exchange for the Franklin St. IBEW 2213 stewards before seeing The Office, and after- well, it ain't gonna happen. After viewing that hilarious ode to human misery and the subversion of holiday cheer I will say with 100% certainty that we are going straight up Secret Santa. Steve Carrell's utter absence of any shame makes him the most magnificent ass on television today, a glorious fool blissfully unaware of his foolishness. The best TV boss since Ricky Gervais.

The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show was a glorious "@#$% you" to the FCC and the Christian Right, and thus a real treat for hetersexuals across the globe. I am so mindboggled by the televised sexual healing, so confounded by visions beauty that I'm hitting the 'shine so I can get some sleep without hitting the (cold) shower.

The Circle is Complete

At last my Star Wars DVD collection is complete, my Star Wars DVD shelf whole after 4 years of waiting and compiling. Huzzah. Star Wars Clone Wars Volume 2 is awesome, essential SW: the show was good back in March when we were getting squirrely for Episode III, but the 5.1 sound mix on the DVD makes it excellent as the SW sound effects surround you as you enjoy the all out Cartoon Network SW lovefest. Those guys went nuts, honoring the original movies while adding to the prequel series, and it shows in every sequence,;and better yet it contributes significantly to SW canon: Anakin gets Jedi Knighted, gets jiggy with Padme to concieve Luke and Leia (tastefully done- and not another emmaculate conception thank God), has his vision of Darth Vader in a cave, and best of all it clearly underlines the friendship of Obi Wan and Anakin described by Alec Guiness in IV and VI, the friendship destroyed at the end of III. It is all good, and if you are a true SW fan, you're Star Wars DVD collection will be incomplete without it (and Volume 1 of course).

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Conspicuous Consumption Gone Wrong

I saw yesterday that at FAO Schwartz they've got spiffy toy cars for tots; one I saw came with a $30,000 price tag, and another for a tidy $50,000. That's right- cars for kids that cost more than my car. Indeed, times are great for some Americans.

But what happens when Trent Jr. (TJ) or Morgan inevitably drive their sporty toy cars onto actual roads- or highways even(like when Bart and Lisa Simpson accidentally drove Homer's RV onto the highway)? I mean, you know it has to happen eventually, and you know that it's not going to end well for anybody.

The Second Annual Lord of the Rings Extended Editions Marathon (11.5 hours)

While true Tolkien obsessives apparently make reading The Lord of the Rings an annual event, I am not there yet (although, that repeat reading did yield new truths and virtues...) so I will instead settle on an annual viewing of all 3 of Jackson's LOTR Extended Editions in one day, the next scheduled for February 11, 2006 (the Saturday after the Super Bowl), exactly one year after the first go around*. Yes it is an endurance test (in so many ways), but those movies were wonderful, magnificent, and just as much a complete mythological work as the original book taken as a whole; the 6.1 DTS sound is also mindboggling in it's super sensory overload (the REAL sound FX, the sweepingly lyrical and majestic Howard Shore score)- don't worry it's easy to stay awake.

Mark it on your calenders.

Also, the new documentary Ringers: Lord of the Fans is a pleasant hoot: a whimsical and thoroughly reverential look at the pop cultural history of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and the fans who've been there for the ride (Including WH Auden! Zep! Geddy Lee! Clive Barker! That dude from Motorhead!). Literate, self effacing and fun.

* "First go around" on home video that is. I survived the wondrous LOTR Marathon Tuesday in Theater 3 of the Regal Cinemas on Transit Rd. on December 17, 2003- easily the greatest moviegoing experience I've ever had: getting hand stamped like for a bar on Chippewa for easy access, being able to bring your own (not noisy) food into the theater, "nesting" in your seats for the day and evening, the girls dressed as elves channeling their inner Galadriel, and the beautiful vibe that comes from being in a room of fans- this time however actually accomplishing something as a group. Yes it was a bit ripe by the end, but it was an awesome experience.

Video Game Update: I finished the Reign of the Empire feature of the SW:BF2 yesterday morning and the game is going away for a while. It will be back (destroying the galaxy is a nice pressure release indeed), but I want to savor my triumph over the Rebellion...