Monday, July 31, 2006

Disc-y Business

Dear "D.L. and J.K.",

Thank you for your repeated donations to my disc golf driver collection.

I realize that you aren't actually giving me free discs, but are instead losing them. If you had put a phone number or some contact info on the back of the discs instead of just your initials, I'd probably have made the effort to get in touch with you, seeing as how I've now found two of your discs on two different occasions. But as it stands, there's really not much I can do.

Well, not quite. I can offer you the following two suggestions:

1) You should consider buying discs in some color other than yellow. You don't seem to be able to find them very easily, even when they're in relatively plain sight.

2) You may want to consider skipping the sixth hole when you go to the "Demon Course" at Golden High School. You've lost two discs there now. And those are just the ones I know about.

If it's any consolation to you, though, your discs have found a new home where they're getting used.

Thanks again,
Dr. Heimlich

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Dead Men Don't Sign Releases

You've heard of viral marketing? Well now, behold spectral marketing. The makers of the spectacularly mediocre Ghost Whisperer (I speak from the unfortunate experience of having watched a couple of episodes) claim that images of ghosts are showing up in raw footage from their show. And they're putting this footage up on their web site for your perusal.

Imagine you're a ghost. You've spent who-knows-how-long trapped between this world and the next, trying to make contact with someone, somehow, to complete your "unfinished business." Finally, you manage to break through, and have your image show up on a split second of footage shot on the set of some television show. And instead of help, your likeness gets pressed into service marketing said television show.

The final indignity.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A Chimp and a Chair

They say all it takes in poker is "a chip and a chair." In this year's World Series of Poker, is out to prove that it takes even less than you think. They have staked "Mikey the Chimp," a trained chimpanzee who plays No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em, in the 2006 WSoP Main Event. You can read a short article about this total insanity here.

The web site sponsoring Mikey is offering any player who gets busted out of the tournament by Mikey a free $10,000 stake in next year's Main Event. And nice though that is, I think there's no consolation in the world that could possibly make up for getting knocked out of a poker tournament by a chimpanzee. Can you imagine ever living that down? That's like the opposite of getting knocked out by one of the legendary great players of poker, multiplied exponentially. You could only pray that no one you know would ever find out, except that you know when this event gets covered on ESPN in a few months, they will show footage of any player actually getting beaten by the chimp.

Somehow, I'm thinking there might be a revision to the rulebook before 2007's event.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Please To Be Shhh In Library

I wasn't going to post this link, but then Shocho went and talked about how weird Japanese game shows are. So now I figure it's a meme in the making. Any other bloggers out there who want to hop aboard, this is the level of "what the hell?" you're trying to top:

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Odds and Ends

A few short tidbits to cover tonight...

Since talking about my door sparked more comments than anything I've posted in months, I figured you all might want to know that it came out just fine. It only took a day. (I have no idea how long during that day, since I wasn't home.) As "Roland Deschain" pointed out, the paint was black, black, black. So black that at night, there's just a hint of "dark portal to hell" going on. I don't think that comes through in the photo, though.

As "the mole" pointed out, The Animaniacs DVD (which I'd plugged two or three times over the past few months, even though I get no proceeds from that) did come out this Tuesday. If you didn't pick yours up already, you're probably going to have to order online, or wait for a bit. I hear they're sold out almost everywhere. I was there right after work on release day for my copy (and of the Pinky and the Brain collection), so fortunately I'm not stuck waiting for a re-stock.

Over on his blog, Shocho mentioned the pilot (and thus far, only episode) of The Amazing Screw-On Head. It ran on the Sci-Fi Channel for the first time tonight. You can watch it on their web site, or catch it on TV next week (check your local listings and stuff). I'm not sure I'm giving it Shocho's enthusiastic praise, but it sure had a neat visual style to it, and more than its share of bizarre and funny lines to quote out-of-context with all your buddies in the know. So... more good than not. If you want to see more episodes of this show produced, you should fill out the survey on the web site, telling them you liked what you saw.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Gonna Make You Happy Tonight

Usually, the only way I find out about songs/groups this odd is during KVSC trivia weekend. But thanks to Kyle, I've now discovered the comedic musical stylings of Tripod.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Search Tension

If you ask someone what they do for a living, and they say "I'm a masseuse," that's not really a strange reply. Not the most common of occupations, but not at all strange. But ask that masseuse where they work, and get the answer "Google"?

Now we're in some strange territory.

Yes, Google employs a masseuse at their offices in Seattle. I have no idea if it's just a walk-in thing, if you need an appointment, how frequently you can go... I just know it's weird. And, I suppose, kinda cool. But mostly weird.

Actually, it's not the only thing really weird about the article I referenced. Check out this excerpt from the piece, an interview with an employee:
"Most of what we do, you can point to and say, 'That's really Googley,' " Wilson said.

And what is that, exactly?

"To me, Googley products are things that make people think of Google..."
Google products are things that make people think of Google? Does anyone think of Google in any way other than its search engine? I know I don't.

Sorry, but a "Googley product" involves eyeballs of some kind. End of story. Maybe they could get me to associate Google with free massage, if they could figure out how to export that bizarre job benefit to the masses.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Modern Masterpiece

This notice from my apartment complex was hanging from my doorknob on Saturday. The intent is pretty clear, of course. But the choice of words is pretty humorous.

They're going to start painting my door on Monday, and they should finish by Friday? Five days just to paint my door? And they're not even sure that's enough time! They should finish by Friday, but they're leaving room for the possibility that it might take longer.

What size paintbrush are they planning on using? If they're being that meticulous, is my doormat really in such danger that I need to remove it? Or are they somehow simultaneously tedious and sloppy?

Are they doing something special on the door I'm not aware of? Even if they are, come on... Bob Ross could paint the entire damn countryside in 30 minutes.

Years of dealing with ambiguity (and perceived ambiguity) on TCG cards have corrupted my brain.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Back to the Drawing Board

This afternoon, I completed a movie trifecta for the weekend by going to see the new animated film Monster House. I wasn't exactly dying to see this movie, but a few little things pushed me into going.

For one, it had been getting some pretty enthusiastic reviews. Many critics were calling this the best animated film so far this year. Those of you who recall my love of Over the Hedge might thus understand that I figured even if it wasn't quite that good, it would still be enjoyable.

Secondly, it was on the screen with the digital projection. And in 3D. The "RealD" system (used most often in 3D Imax films) is pretty amazing to see. Very much worth trying, if you never have. It's not enough to take a terrible movie and make it good, but it can take a decent movie and really put it over the top.

Unfortunately, in my movie trifecta, I did not save the best for last. The best kids' movies do a fairly good job of aiming some bits at the adults in the audience. This one fell pretty flat in that department.

The story wasn't particularly clever or novel. There were perhaps one or two moments that were neat in that they felt like if taken just a few notches in another direction, could have fit perfectly into a true, traditional horror movie. But one or two moments don't usually make a whole movie.

The animation of the house itself was pretty incredible, but again, that's not enough to save the movie (even if it's the title "character").

All told, I give the movie a C+. Actually, it probably deserves a C-. I'm probably being generous for all the fun 3D sight gags flying at me.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Great Expectations

Barely 12 hours after Clerks II, I was back at the movie theater again, this time for the film I was most looking forward to this weekend, Lady in the Water.

I'm a huge M. Night Shyamalan fan. The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable are both in my top 10 movie list. Signs is in the top 40.

Then there was The Village. There's no way around it -- I was really disappointed when I saw it in the theater. But later I watched it a second time on DVD, and my appreciation for it really increased. (Not into top 100 territory, but it still greatly increased.) I realized on the second viewing that my reaction to it the first time was a problem of bad expectations.

Movies by "Night" have always had strange trailers. One of the best things about the trailers for The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable was how they gave little away of even the premise of the movie, while still tantalizing you. But The Village had a bad trailer. It set you up for one seriously scary movie about monsters in the woods, a film scarier than any of his three previous hits. Instead, The Village was essentially a romance movie. Upon a second viewing, I came to decide it was a pretty good one. But still, show up to the theater expecting a scary thriller and end up watching a Victorian-esque romance, and you're going to be disappointed.

So with Lady in the Water, I was trying to have appropriate expectations. The very first trailer for the film (months ago) spelled it out: this was "a bedtime story." Then came the later trailers, which (just as The Village trailers before) suddenly tried to make it out to be a scare-the-crap-out-of-you thriller. But I didn't bite. Bedtime story. Fairy tale. That's what I was mentally prepping to see.

Then the critics' reviews started coming in earlier this week. They were, to put it lightly, not kind. They weren't at all going to get me to not see the movie, but they did make me probably not only adjust my expectations, but actually lower them. I was going to see a bedtime story, not a thriller, and possibly not a very good one.

As to what expectations of quality a viewer should have going in, I can't say. But I thought this movie was great. And very much a fairy tale. If you're going expecting any other kind of movie, you're not going to like it. And I think this goes a long way toward explaining the negative reactions of a lot of critics.

"It doesn't make sense," many have said. Does it make sense that Goldilocks thinks its okay to go into a total stranger's house, eat their food, and go to sleep in their bed? Of course not, but we don't care because it's a fairy tale.

"It's not scary," others have said. Do we really fear for any of the Three Little Pigs when the Big Bad Wolf blows their house down? No. The tale is moral, not frightening.

"Is that supposed to be a surprise twist?" others have said. Here, I just shake my head at the critics, who more than anyone ought not to be expecting Shyamalan to keep jumping through the same hoops like some trained animal.

Then on top of the faulty expectations, add the fact that one of the characters in the film is a book and film critic. And he is very much the butt end of some big jokes. Not every real-life critic is so petty to become indignant at this, but I guarantee you a few simply couldn't take the joke.

Set aside all this stuff that has nothing to do with evaluating the film, in and of itself, for what it is supposed to be, and here's what you're left with: a beautiful fairy tale. There's wonder. There's deep emotion. And as with all of the director's other films, it is meticulous. Every single character, every line of dialogue they speak, every fact we learn about them, is all there for a very specific reason, that all adds up perfectly in the end.

But... I'm still topping out at an A- here. There were two small flaws in what to my mind was otherwise a pretty perfect film. One... it has some rather ham-fisted exposition delivered in rather clunky bricks at a few points in the movie. Two... it dips a few times too many into the Shyamalan well of cinematography tricks. For example, the first few times Shyamalan ran a dialogue between two characters by only showing the face of one and leaving us the back of the other's head for the entire sequence, it seemed novel. In Unbreakable in particular, it really heightened the performances in key scenes. But in Lady of the Water, it felt very much like a familiar gimmick being repeated here. And just like a copy, it lost some of the clarity of the original.

But despite these minor blemishes, I still truly loved this film. And you may too... that is, provided (and I cannot stress this enough) that you know what it is you're going to see, and treat it accordingly.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Dante (and Randal)'s Inferno

Although there's more than one movie opening this weekend I'm interested in seeing, it worked out that the one I made it to tonight was Clerks II. My perspective coming in was one of a moviegoer who has laughed quite a lot at previous Kevin Smith movies, but doesn't think as highly of him as some do. (For my money, Office Space far surpasses the original Clerks as the best "disaffected workplace comedy" film.)

I'm pleased to say the movie quite exceeded my expectations. It had more of the fun "wow, you so cannot say that" kinds of conversations that were the hallmark of the original. It had the geek pop culture debates beloved in all the Kevin Smith films. It had enough specific nods to the original film to make this a true sequel to Clerks, and not just another "ViewAskewniverse" film. It had the one or two over the top "gross out moments" that have popped up in the later View Askew films like Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. It had the handful of cameos it just had to have. Above all, it brought the funny.

No, I amend that. Above all, it actually had a message. I was rather stunned by that, given how "fun, but disposable" most of Kevin Smith's other movies have been. This movie was fun and actually had a statement to make about finding one's way in life and meeting expectations.

Or, put another way, Joel Siegel is a big baby, and actually missed out on something really good.

I give it a B+. If you're a big Kevin Smith fan, it probably gets an A or A- instead... I know the audience at my screening was far in the Smith tent, and they freakin' loved it.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Brownback Mountain

I shamelessly continue to find my daily blog content on This was on The Daily Show last night, regarding Bush's recent veto of the stem cell research bill passed by the House and Senate. The real funny stuff starts at about 1:43 into the clip, with footage of Kansas senator Brownback's presentation on the Senate floor.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

This Girl Is Really In A... Predicament

I don't make a habit of watching Maury Povich, but I suspect this has to be one of the weirder things he ever featured on his show:

Let's set aside for a moment the very strong possibility that this girl could be an actor and that the whole thing is staged. If it's actually real, then how big a bastard is Maury Povich?

He has this girl sitting with a giant screen TV immediately to her right, showing images of the pickles she's deathly terrified of.

He forced her to go to pickle factory so they could video tape her reaction.

He mocks her for shaking in her seat.

He basically goads the audience into laughing at her as she flees the stage.

In short, Maury Povich is a total bastard!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

TV To Make You Gouge Your Eyes Out

Or rather, probably your ears. As if you didn't get enough of that obnoxious Boston accent during two installments of Survivor and one of The Amazing Race. That's right, someone has decided that the world needs more Rob and Amber. (That's "RobannAmbuh" to you.)

One of FOX's cable ventures, lacking anything (anything!) better to put on the air, has commissioned a new reality series starring these two TV whores now trying to wring minutes 16 and 17 from their allotted 15 of fame.

The network exec quoted in the article says this show will "appeal to the channel's reality-crazed audience." I think he at least got the "crazed" part right.

I'll watch only under threat of death.

Monday, July 17, 2006

It Sounds More Important If You Call It a World Series

So, as long as I'm on the subject of "cotton candy TV" from VH1 (that is, sweet and sugary and fun, and completely devoid of nourishment), then I might as well mention that I've been sucked into the World Series of Pop Culture. I didn't mean to be, but between a friend recommending it, and having it crammed down my throat in Entertainment Weekly magazine (a partner in producing the show), I couldn't stay away.

If you can get by the annoying, Who-Wants-To-Be-A-Millionaire-esque slow pacing of the question asking, it can be pretty entertaining. (Easy... just watch it on TiVo and skip the boring parts!) The contestants usually have a fun sense of humor, and the host gets in an occasional dry bon mot of his own.

The questions themselves are hit and miss. If you're a pop culture junkie like me, then you'll find that in any given category with which you have even passing familiarity, you'll be able to get at least 5 out of 6 questions right. (Or often, run the category.) But every now and then, the category will simply be out of your area, and you'll be out of your depth -- lucky to pull out one or two answers.

It's not for everyone, but I think some of my regular readers would find it right up their alley.

I'm now done pimping for VH1 for a while.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Dislodging Food for Over 30 Years

If you're a fan of Heimlich Maneuvers, then you ought to check out VH1's latest ode to nostalgia and pop culture, I Love the 70s, Volume II. I mean the actual Heimlich Maneuver.

Apparently, there was so little going on in the way of movies, television shows, newsworthy events, and childrens' toys in the year 1974 that the folks at VH1 who put these shows together decided that covering the Heimlich Maneuver would be a good way to fill the time. (For you Eddie Izzard fans, that's: "A fist! A hand! Hoo-cha, hoo-cha, hoo-cha... lobster.")

There's a reason VH1 got this whole thing started with I Love the 80s. It's simply the only one that makes sense. As was the case with I Love the 70s the first time around, half their regular "celebrity commentators" were either not alive, or not old enough to remember, any of the things being covered on the show. And when they did I Love the 90s, it was too soon to look back on any of it. (It had only been 5 years since 1999 at the time.) In both cases, the whole nostalgia factor was pretty well shot.

But then, what were they supposed to do when their first installment of I Love the 80s drew what were probably the highest ratings their network had ever received? (Besides rerun it a billion times. Which they do.) Franchise, baby!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Deep Thought

Today, I heard this nugget of... well, let's call it wisdom.

"In the '60s, things were normal, and people took drugs to make things weird. Today, things are weird, and people take drugs to make things normal."

Friday, July 14, 2006

Interpretive... Juggling

This is pretty damn impressive, but would be even more so if the camera editing wasn't totally crappy.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pretty Pictures

I recently borrowed the movie Stay on DVD. Starring Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, and Ryan Gosling, this film was out in theaters for perhaps just slightly longer than a day or two last year. I didn't go at the time, because of pretty negative reviews and word of mouth. But for free... well... that was a different proposition.

I can think of no better way to put it than this: I don't think I liked this movie. And I strongly encourage you to see it. Now... let me see if I can explain this bizarre contradiction.

The story itself is incredibly disjointed, and doesn't make a lot of sense. Given what's going on (which, I believe, is better for the viewer to know nothing about going in), it's largely meant to be that way. But it's just a little too disconnected, a little too odd, and doesn't really come together in a way I found satisfying at the conclusion.

However... this movie is gorgeous. It is made with an attention to detail I can't readily compare to any other film. Every little detail of every frame is painstakingly considered. I may not have been satisfied with how it all added up, but there was a reason behind it all.

The cinematography used in telling the story is extraordinary. They twist a lot of conventions about how simple dialogue scenes are supposed to be shot. None of that classic "wide / over / over / close-up / close-up / wide / end-of-scene" stuff. More than once, they do things that made me truly think to myself: "did I just see what I think I saw?" Each scene is more brilliant than the last in its use of cutting, light and shadow, morphs, angles, and more.

In fact, I'm thinking I might actually go out and buy this movie for my own collection. It's just that amazing, from a directorial, editorial, and behind-the-scenes standpoint. I could easily watch it again just to watch it all again.

Of course, there remains that nagging matter of the story, which I'm pretty sure I didn't like. I simply can't reconcile it all into a "grade," as I normally do in my movie reviews. I'm going to have to ponder it for a while. And if you like movies, I encourage you to see it and do the same.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Thunderlords! Ho!!!!!

Finally, someone is tapping the vast, unrealized market of heavy metal for children.

Somehow, I don't see the Thunderlords making it into Guitar Hero II.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

All In, With Few "Outs"

"Rule #1" of Heimlich blogging is out the window today. This post is unabashedly political. (I may have to downgrade the rule to a guideline, at this rate.) But I know many of my readers will take interest in this one.

This afternoon, the House of Representatives passed a bill to, in essence, ban online gambling. It passed by an overwhelming margin. (Here, incidentally, is how that vote broke down.)

Of course, just taxing it like any other "sin" wasn't an option for the majority of our elected officials. And of course, exemptions had to be carved out so that states could still separate their citizens from their money through the lottery.

If you live in a state with legalized gambling, this law is saying it's okay for you to gamble, so long as you don't do it in the privacy of your own home.

Perhaps most aggravating of all was the exemption also made for horse racing. Gotta let the states where that's big slide through. So essentially, this law is telling you that certain types of gambling are okay, while others are not. Somehow you can "lose your house with the click of a mouse" (to paraphrase the words of one congressman) playing online poker, but not betting on horses online? Idiocy. (Though only slightly more idiotic that the horse racing lobbyists who actually think that online poker players, restricted from their game, would actually turn to horse racing as an alternative.)

Only one obstacle remains before the U.S. Government forces you to fold your poker hands for good -- the Senate. The bad news: there's no reason to expect the bill would not pass there as easily as it did in the House. The good news: this issue has not been debated or prepped for voting in the Senate. There are only four weeks left before our "hard-working" senators take a one-month break until Labor Day, and then only another four weeks after that before they're out of session until the 2006 elections. Procedure dictates that if the bill is not passed before the end of the session in which the House approved it, the House vote is invalidated.

So bottom line: if you're against this law, you have to hope that the government does its typical job of not getting its shit together, and is unable to bring it to a vote in the eight working weeks remaining. Because if it doesn't come to vote, you have the chance to elect new congressmen for 2007 that won't try this crap again.

If it does come to vote? Well, then you'd better write to your senator if this is something you care about, and hope that they actually give a shit. (Unlikely as that may be.)

Otherwise, you're looking for this century's version of a speakeasy.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Gore in Cinema

I headed out to the movies once again today, this time to see Al Gore's documentary about the dangers of global warming, An Inconvenient Truth.

I really don't know how to review this movie. It strikes me that I'm not really sure who it's for. The theater I saw it in was almost totally sold out, and stuffed full of people like-minded to me -- that is, predisposed to be receptive to the message being delivered. We're already "in the tent," "on board," pick your phrase. We were a willing choir, being preached to.

Meanwhile, anyone on the other end of spectrum, those kinds of people who the people like us wish would see the movie, would never set foot anywhere near that theater. And with as much objectivity as I can muster, I don't think any of those people would have been swayed by the movie, even if they'd somehow been there and forced to watch it. Why?

Well, for one, the messenger. Al Gore is a bit of a boogeyman to some. And I'll readily admit, he is not the most engaging speaker. He comes off less robotic and more genuinely impassioned in this film than he did on the 2000 election campaign trail, but he's still no silver-tongued advocate for his cause.

For another, I imagine those predisposed to doubt the existence of global warming would find no greater substantiation of the phenomenon here than they do in all the other ways evidence for it has been presented. Al Gore has enough charts and graphs to put Ross Perot to shame, but "showing one's work" (to borrow a phrase from junior high algebra) would of course make for pretty boring cinema. Thus, assertions that have ample supporting evidence are presented without that evidence itself -- a sure loophole through which the "unconverted" could easily slip.

Of course, that's all speculation. As someone already "in the tent," I can say I found the film compelling, but not perfect. This is no "I have a dream" or "we choose to go to the moon" around which all the people will rally. But I believe it is strong enough to motivate people around the fringes to "do their part." And to its credit, the movie is instructive on ways one can do exactly that, pointing people to for simple, sensible, easily doable things Americans can do to cut down on their CO2 emissions.

I suppose I'm giving Al Gore's "presentation" a B, with the endorsement that if you're in the tent, or near the tent, see this movie. If you know anyone else close to the tent that would be receptive, tell them to see this movie.

And if you personally know of anyone actually "won over" by the film, I'd love to hear about it. Perhaps it is better than I'm giving it credit for.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Psyched Up

Last night was the premiere of the new series Psych on USA. You might be thinking that TV is already saturated with crime-solving shows, and that the USA network in particular already has its quota of both them and of psychics. And that's probably all true.

Nevertheless, this show is worth your time. The first episode was funny, entertaining stuff. The gimmick of watching the main character fake being psychic works. He's an entertaining character to watch, and the actor portraying him seems perfectly cast.

The techniques in which they show you how the character's mind works are pretty clever. He's a sort of modern day Sherlock Holmes, but funnier, and possibly more neurotic. (Possibly. Maybe not. Holmes certainly had his share of addictions and compulsions.)

His "sidekick," played by Dule Hill of the recently-departed The West Wing, is very enjoyable. That actor got to play his fair share of comedy on his former series, but he really shines doing it in a show less dramatic in nature.

Granted, it's only one episode, but I think it shows great promise of a show that won't just be "good because not much really good is on in the summer," but because it's genuinely good.

Friday, July 07, 2006

This Film is Rated ARRRRR!

Ahoy, mateys! Tonight, I went to see the new Pirates of the Carribean film. (For those of you native to Denver, I saw it at the Belmarrr theater.)

I know many people who are big fans of the first film. While I myself didn't hold it in such high regarrrd, I enjoyed it well enough. By this, I mean to say that I didn't hold high expectations for the sequel; I was simply looking to once again have a pretty good time. And I'd say that's just what I got, for the most parrrt.

Some of "Dead Man's Chest" is truly terrific -- specifically, the sections which are light-hearrrted. The first 45 minutes of the film are straight-up fun, and really gave me hopes for liking this film better than the first. But then there was another 45 minutes or so of rather boring stuff, trying to play at emotions too serious for a film of this nature. (Though I did enjoy seeing a version of Perudo being portrayed on screen.)

Then came a half hour of action and humor even better than the opening chunk, and I thought "well, at least they're going to finish up strong here!" Unfortunately, the movie lost its fun factor again, despite going on for another half hour before reaching its conclusion. All the good stuff had once again been marrrrred.

At two-and-a-half hours total, the movie was farrr too long. But even trimmed of 30 minutes or so, there would still be a fair chunk of the movie that forgets what it's supposed to be: fun and adventure.

Still, what's good in the movie is really great. So I give it two-and-a-half starrrs (out of four). Or, in my usual manner of rating these things, a B-. (Which is better than the high C's!)

Oh, and I should also add for anyone seeing it that there is something after the end credits. I don't know that it's as "worth staying for" as, say, what waits at the end of the third X-Men movie... but those of you who want to "see it all" are hereby advised to wait it out.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Hollywood Crack Pipe

I noted last night that I wasn't expecting Battlestar Galactica to receive the Emmy nominations it richly deserved this year. I thought I was resigned to that fact. Then I saw the actual list of nominees this morning. They were so incomprehensibly weird that it shattered my wall of "resignation" with a giant wrecking ball labeled "WTF?"

I couldn't possibly cover all the oddities and omissions among the nominations, but here are a few highlights that jump out at me:
  • How did Lost get so shut out? Some would argue this season wasn't as good as the first. I myself would argue it was more uneven than the first, but still just as good or better when at its best. But did it possibly drop in quality so far as to go from being last year's winner for Best Drama to not even nominated this year? None of its actors were nominated either. They only got one acting nomination, for a guest star. And as much as I did like the character of Desmond, I can't believe he got picked over the riveting, creepy performance of Henry Gale that carried the show through its mid-season lull.

  • Deadwood overlooked for series and acting? I'm only recently on board with that show, but very much an overnight fan, impressed by its quality. You could deservedly nominate virtually any actor from the show for an award. But not even the showier parts played by Ian McShane and Powers Boothe got anything. Too much goddamn swearing for those fucking Emmy cocksuckers, I guess.

  • Nothing for the phenomenal supporting cast of The Office? John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer, besides being hysterical, pulled off the office romance plot even better than the British version of the show.

  • William Shatner and Candice Bergen for Boston Legal, but no James Spader? Sure, the two actors who were nominated are good, but the category is Drama Series, and it's Spader doing the heavy lifting every week. I say the take them all, or take none of them.

  • Sure, Desperate Housewives kinda stank this year. But they pick one actress from it, and it's Alfre Woddard? It must be the "we're sorry the writing for your character sucked" nod, because otherwise the "one slot" would be going to Marcia Cross.

  • I don't watch House, but even a non-viewer like me can recognize the idiocy of awarding it a Best Drama nomination while not nominating Hugh Laurie.

  • Nominate both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report for Best Variety Program -- okay, I'm with you. Colbert's not quite as funny, but it still makes the cut. But then nominate Stephen Colbert for best performance and ignore Jon Stewart? Huh?

  • The nominations that particularly made me feel the Galactica snubbing were the acting nods for Martin Sheen for The West Wing, Gregory Itzin for 24, and Geena Davis for Commander-in-Chief. All three performances were good, and all shows had good moments in their seasons. But if you're going to nominate performances as "The President", none of those conveyed the power of Mary McDonnell as Roslin.

  • Galactica's snubbing even extended down to most of the categories that usually get thrown out of pity towards "genre shows." No recognition for Bear McCreary's incredible music? The second season soundtrack has been in my car CD player non-stop since the day I bought it.

  • And as long as I'm now whining about "deserving shows and actors I didn't really think would get nominated, but now I'm disappointed anyway", poor Veronica Mars and Kristin Bell.

  • And not that many people pay much attention to the "Casting" categories, but those nominations are preposterously out-of-sync with the low numbers of actual acting nominations received by those same shows. Apparently the message is, "you people did an amazing job casting bad actors on your shows."
It all might drive a television lover to total insanity, but not for the very few things the voters actually got right:
  • In the Best Animated Program (One Hour or Less) category, both Family Guy and South Park received nominations, and both in recognition for their best episodes of the season, "PTV" for Family Guy, and "Trapped in the Closet" for South Park. Those episodes might just be among the best of the series for those two shows.

  • 24 received more nominations than any other show this year, and finally picked up acting nominations for people who don't attack Christmas trees in their spare time. But even this is somewhat bitersweet to me, as I happen to think three of the four past seasons of 24 were superior in quality to the one that just finished.
Hopefully, the folks out there doing quality work on television realize that just because the Emmy voters don't know it doesn't mean there aren't plenty of viewers out there who do.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Kobol Goes to Springfield

I'm jonesing for new Battlestar Galactica episodes even more than I am for 24 episodes these days. And I'm anticipating that with tomorrow morning's Emmy nomination announcements, despite being the best show on television right now, Galactica is going to get completely snubbed by stupid-ass voters who thumb their noses at "science fiction."

Add it all up, and I need me a Battlestar Galactica fix. This was the best I could find. (Beware, any of you who have not yet watched the last half of season two. There be spoilers in there.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Open Rebellion

With continuing drought conditions and record temperatures in Colorado (and thus, the fire hazard being about as serious as it can get), fireworks of any and all kinds were banned pretty much state wide for this Independence Day. We're not talking the typical "nothing that leaves the ground" bans that seem to be popular in many states. We're talking no fountains, no firecrackers... I don't even think sparklers were allowed. And fines for being caught setting off anything were raised this year as well.

Of course, this didn't stop tons of folks from lighting up the night tonight with their contraband.

What I find interesting here is: when you shoot these huge monsters brought in from Wyoming or wherever, aren't you basically sending up a signal flare to any cops who might actually be around saying, "I'm right here, officer! Come give me the ticket!"??

I do wonder how many fines were actually issued tonight, and how much of it was just talk.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

A Warrior's Game

Those of you into board games might have heard the buzz around the relatively new game Caylus. I got word that it was "the new Puerto Rico" a few months ago (albeit from a different designer), read up a little more about it, and decided to order a copy.

I've played it a few times now, and I give it the thumbs up. I wouldn't really compare it to Puerto Rico, though. The only real similarity is that there are a limited number of "things" that can be done each turn, each by only one player out of the group. It's possible that players in front of you will choose the thing you want and you'll get shut out. But really, this is a superficial connection to Puerto Rico, as it actually plays out. At least, I think so.

There are perhaps a handful of other games one could try to compare to Caylus. For example, it has maybe a little in common with The Princes of Florence (in terms of figuring out how to gather the right resources to build the things you want to build, when you're in direct competition with other players to actually gather said resources). But the truth is, I found it largely to be its own entity -- and much to its credit.

At an average two-hour game length (though it will depend on who you play with), it takes a little bit more time than some of the favorite "deep strategy" German board games. But it's worth the time. I'm looking forward to the next time I get to play it.

But that name. Caylus? Granted, the spelling is totally different, but every time I mention it, visions of the Klingon messiah pop into my head. (But after all, Kahless is "Unforgettable.")

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Stream of Consciousness

It's nearly midnight, and somewhere on the first floor of my building, this frakking little yapper dog is barking its head off. Not non-stop.... no, that might actually get its inconsiderate owner to do something. Just every now and...

Oh, wait. It has actually stopped now. Apparently, all I needed to do was actually express my complaint somehow, to someone, and the cosmos answered.

If it starts again, though, I am putting on my shoes, and I'm going to be pounding on someone's door at oh-dark-thirty in the morning.