31 August 2007

Brown 'N' Serve Links

'Cause I feel compelled to post something tonight (why I don't know) and yet don't feel up to a comic review, book review, comment on this week's very funny Mad Men, or haiku...here are some things that caught my eye today (really it's yesterday now, isn't it?)

  • I say let's give Amr Waked his own action franchise with helmer Michael Bay. That's the best way to stick it to the frakin' Egyptian Actors' Union.
  • I thought it was funny when Jonathan Franzen sorta dissed Big O. And again when she got embarrassed by "bad boy" James Frey (who's about as tough as Tucker Carlson). But hoo-boy is this story from The Times Picayune's Chris Rose hilarious. "AS NOT SEEN ON OPRAH!" via Levitt and Dubner
  • Had lunch with my buddy Jared today. We hadn't gotten together in a few months and it was great catching up. Did not hurt one bit that our itty-bitty tight and toned waitress had Tinkerbell tattooed on her limber lumbar just above her sacred sacrum. A vast improvement over the last waitress we had at this restaurant (not her fault: she was sorta cute, but the restaurant makes the girls wear the skimpy miniskirt and skanky mini-shirt even if they shouldn't). We chatted about a wide variety of things and he mentioned his interest in blogging on his commuting tactics. It may sound lame, but he manages to go 25 miles in 30 minutes on the 101 in rush hour traffic. (This is AZ, not CA. Let's not be crazy here.) I told him I thought that would make a nifty post. See for yourself, here. I swear, he's not even the slightest bit Asperger-y.
  • Wil Wheaton's got a problem with DirecTV. Great. I've already been pissy for two years now that I can't upgrade to a new TiVo because I've got the one and only HD DirecTV-TiVo box ever built (and those two don't like playing nice together anymore). I'm very worried that we're going to have to go to cable when it's finally time to replace the TiVo (or worse...use whatever shit DVR DirecTV had built in Hyderabad). Now, I've got to worry that my next TV will only have HDMI inputs instead of composite and I'll have DRM issues. DRM issues. With a TV. That's cracked.

28 August 2007

Stall Tactics

Harsh light on cold tile
Hot blood beating against skin
Yearning with stance wide

26 August 2007

Immapperacy Hurts

There's video here, FeedReader
Won't you please join me and Lauren Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina Teen USA 2007, in helping to stamp out the growing problem of immapperacy amongst US Americans? Every bit helps. For just 50 cents a day, you can adopt a map-deprived youngster, providing her with legends, scale markers, topographical contour lines, and boundaries. You'll not just be adopting one child, but helping her whole village learn north from south, east from west. You'll receive letters and pictures, showing her progress. You'd be surprised how many maps we can buy with your donation.

Any donation will help. Five dollars, ten dollars, a used map of the Twin Pines Mall, or even a poster of that old Saul Steinberg New Yorker cover. Let's stamp out immapperacy in our times. Let's help the US, and South Africa and Iraq and the Asian countries.

Supershort read: I Love You, Beth Cooper

There's an ad link here, FeedReader
I was looking for a quick read the other day and saw this sitting on one of the sky-high piles of books to read on my nightstand. The wife had enjoyed it, the reviews were decent, and it wasn't going to take more than a few hours. Four hours later (after some interludes in which I had to actually help with an upholstery project I said I would do) I turned the final page. My life was permanently changed.

Nah. It's not earth-shattering. But it was funny, light, and compelling. All the while I was mentally casting the characters for the movie soon coming from the tortured psyche of Chris Columbus. (You remember in Multiplicity when they cloned the clone of Michael Keaton? That's how John Hughes made Chris Columbus.) In fact, it's clear from reading the book that Larry Doyle - former writer for The Simpsons, Beavis and Butthead, Daria, and more - had been shopping his screenplay around town for awhile until he got so frustrated he figured he'd prose-ify it.

Haha! Joke's on the clowns who passed before. This slight book garnered enough attention and sales to warrant more money than if they'd just bought his screenplay the first time around.

If you have a soft spot for sweet-hearted teen comedies like Can't Hardly Wait, Ten Things I Hate About You, or the classics like Sixteen Candles, you'll enjoy this book. If you find their empty calories vapid and charmless, avoid this like the plague.

Sepinwall on the Sitcom Room

Image stolen with little to no regard from Sepinwall

Well, I've joined good company. Like that other bald, heavy, huggable sociopath above, I've shown up in the Jersey mob's paper of record, the Star-Ledger. Dismember a few weeks back (oops, sorry, that should be "remember"...I've got to get Tony outta my head), I spent a glorious weekend at the fabulous LAX Hilton at Ken Levine's Sitcom Room? My favorite TV critic's written about it here.1

After the all-nighter we pulled in our writers' room and my quick nap/workout/shower/shoveled breakfast, I headed up to the main conference room for the "Sitcon Room" and the performance of all our re-written scenes. I heard my team leader Liz say hi to Alan Sepinwall and figured I'd walk on over and say howdy. I've been reading him just about as long as he's been blogging and about six months ago realized he'd edged ahead of the SacBee's Rick Kushman as my go-to TV critic. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep, or maybe the mega-dose of MSG from the Chinese "food" Dan O'Day brought us on Saturday night, but I was as pleased to meet Alan as I was to meet Ken and all the amazing writers on Sunday afternoon's panel. (Just kidding, Alan. It wasn't the exhaustion or the flavor enhancement.)

Alan had taken a side trip over from the TCA summer press tour because he's a big fan of Ken's (and I suspect he wanted a break from some of this year's more contentious sessions). He probably thought this would be a fun lark for a few hours. I can only guess how excited Alan was when he witnessed the obvious quality of our output. I mean, here's a guy whose vocation and avocation is writing about television, witnessing the emergence of the next generation of great comedy writers from the womb of the airport Hilton. Being the smart guy he is, he grabbed a few of us and practically begged us to be interviewed. We tossed the guy a bone and a few of us gave him our email addresses. I mean hell, it's not the last time he'll need to interview us.2

In case you're wondering, the A-Team joke really is funny, but Jesse's right...it's a "sitcom joke". Trust me though, it's not the joke I feel bad about. Be careful what you say in a writers' room late at night. It might end up in the script against even your own better judgment. Especially if everyone belly-laughs for a half-hour.

1 Be careful with this one. I'm blogging about an article in which I am interviewed, written by someone who will also blog about writing the article, and possibly refer to the blogs of those of us he interviewed. When you unwind this recursion, be sure you end up where you started, Achilles.
2 Unless Sam Simon's right. Then we're all fucked. Or if we're untalented hacks. I shouldn't discount that possibility, as remote as it may be.

24 August 2007

Sweeney Dud? I hope not, but...

There's an ad-link here FeedReader...and you should buy this if you don't own it.

Over the next several months the hype for Tim Burton's version of Sweeney Todd is going to increase. Were any other director attached to this, the hype machine wouldn't get turned on, but all the Burton freaks of the world are going to be pimping this flick to their utmost. And it is most likely going to suck balls. Big, massive donkey balls. The sort of hairy balls that Benjamin Barker could shave smooth as a novice's knees in the time it takes to whistle a happy tune.

I don't hate Tim Burton, but I think he's got a few problems that make him particularly ill-suited to bring my favorite musical1 to the big screen. Let's count out those problems!

  • He insists on casting the missus in just about everything. Hey, I've got nothing against her, and I thought she was great in Wallace & Grommit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, but Mrs. Lovett? She's no Murder She Wrote.
  • He has a massive man-crush on Johnny Depp2. I know Johnny can sing (at least his bandmates told him so) but at a booming baritone? Maybe that will work out, but I have my doubts right now. Also, honestly, he's too pretty. Anthony, he could play. Todd?
  • Tim Burton hates you. Yes, you. He doesn't give a shit about your hopes, dreams, and childhood pleasures. All he cares about is his vision.
  • Tim Burton hates everyone else. He hates Pierre Boulle and Rod Serling. He hates Frank Miller and Bob Kane. He hates them all. They're all hacks who lack his vision, his brilliance, his panache and style.
  • Tim Burton hates himself. At least, if he had an ounce of sense and taste he would. God knows the sensible among us hate him for all the reasons above.
Hey, what do you know? I do hate Tim-tim!

I've commented on a couple of other blogs about Tim-tim's lack of love for anyone but himself and anything he didn't "put his stamp on". I realized it would be a lot easier for me to just put it all together here and link to it every time I read something about how wonderful Sweeney is going to be by one of Tim-tim's adoring fanatics.

Anybody who knows me knows I would never read a comic book.
Which I guess explains "Batman".

Maybe I'll be wrong this time. Maybe this will be the time that Tim-tim has even the tiniest spark of respect for the source material. Maybe Sondheim's veto powers are broad and sweeping and Tim-tim couldn't steamroll his "vision" onto the screen. Maybe I'll be shocked and amazed by what he brings to screen.

Still, would it have hurt to cast Victor Garber somewhere? I mean, it's nice he gave a wee speck of a role to ASH, who's got quite a solid musical background. But no. It was more important to find space for Sacha Cohen3 than for the original Anthony. Beautiful.

Then again, I'm sure Tim-tim has never listened to any of the cast recordings. Why would he want to muddy up his perfect vision with other, inferior products?

1 That's actually a tough call. It could be Camelot or even Guys and Dolls instead, but I think the multi-layer vocal pieces pull Sweeney ahead by a nose.
2 Honestly, who doesn't? The problem isn't that I don't love the Depp.
3 His cousin does some really good research into autism. I will leave it to the gentle reader to make snarky comments about who inspired him to go into that field.

22 August 2007

When I was on Top of You

There's video here, FeedReader
Someday, damn it, Matt and Trey are going to put Cannibal! on Broadway so it can get the proper orchestral arrangements it needs. It's a pity such lovely songs have to be backed by a Casio.

Stop Snitching!

There's video here FeedReader

♫ They call him Melo Yelo ♫

21 August 2007

Life on McBeal

Good news-ish on the casting front for David E. Kelley's American cover version of Life on Mars: Colm Meaney has been cast to inhabit Phil Glenister's shoes. If there's anyone in America who can pull off Gene Hunt, it's a crusty old Irishman like Colm. He'll be doing it with an American accent, of course.

Of course now I'm sure Kelley's going to settle on Boston for his Manchester replacement. I'd really hoped he would look for a city with some old, interesting character instead of sticking with his standby, but he's going to write what he knows. I suppose it could be worse. He could take the AS-P route and write about a place he passed through once as though he'd never even passed through1. Colm is a fine actor and will certainly do a great job with this role. The fundamental problem isn't going to be him.

A show that ran for two seasons of eight eps each is going to be tough to translate to an indefinite run of 22-per. Compound that with an American setting that isn't going to have a tenth the character of Manchester and the normal inclinations we have toward irony and kitsch as opposed to sincerity2 and I think this is in for a Coupling-level translation from the English.

The biggest problem? By the time the show airs no one will not know about the big twist at the end of the series. I haven't even seen series two yet, and I know what it is. Then again, I miraculously nailed it when I saw the pilot.3

1 That's right Amy, I'm calling you out for your dreadful mischaracterization of my home state. Not since Green Acres has someone made CT look so little like CT. In fact, I'm pretty sure Green Acres was more accurate than Stars Hollow.
2 Please see Hutch, Starsky and Phillips, Todd et al 2004 if you need any support for that statement.
3 First off, if you don't like spoilers, don't read this footnote. Second, if you think it's a spoiler to a show that aired a year ago just because BBCAmerica hasn't aired it yet, you're cracked. Third, I'm not actually going to give the spoiler, just the link above to my review of the pilot. Fourth, I don't technically know that I know, but I've accidentally seen enough information to be pretty sure I'm spoiled. Fifth and finally, I'm not patting myself on the back. At the time I thought I was making an interesting and unique observation about the cinematography, but in retrospect I merely picked up something that was intended to be seen by anyone paying attention. If anything, the fact that my observation (may have) turned out to be prescient only dilutes its cleverness.

19 August 2007

Can you hear me now? Wait, I'm still in Scottsdale.

I had to make a personal call the other morning at work, but I get no cell coverage in my office. Wait, let me elaborate: I get no cell coverage within the borders of the city of Scottsgrad, AZ. I hear rumors that people with other carriers get decent service, but inside the city limits I'm one bar, two if it's 3:15pm on the second Thursday of a month with an 'R' in it.

No biggie, as I figured I was going to make my call over Skype. This was last Thursday. Oops. I'm calling long distance and don't want to charge it to the company, so I've got to find somewhere I can get a stable cell signal. So I step outside. No go. I get in the batmobile. No go. I start driving.

All kidding aside, I was pretty sure I'd catch a decent signal by the time I'd hit Scottsgrad Rd. I'd pull into a Starbuck's, grab an iced coffee, and have my chat. No go. Aaargh! So I keep driving west. I know by the time I hit the PHX border I'm going to get a signal, so I watch the phone as I'm driving down the road. Sure enough, I cross the line and my signal jumps from one/two bars straight up to four.* I park, grab a drink, and have my chat.

Golly, I love the fact that Scottsgrad puts a camera on every street corner, traffic enforcement vans on every third block, tries to shut down good, hard-working citizens, and won't allow cell towers because they're a "blight" on the community. It's a gulag with golf courses.

* No, I'm not exaggerating for effect. My phone literally went from piss-poor to rock-solid signal when I crossed the line. It was as though they had signal jammers running.

Catch and Release

There's a link above, with an image of a randomly selected baseball glove for sale at Amazon. Feel free not to click it if you don't want to buy it. It is there as a visual cue.

Watched The 4400 this evening. It's a guilty pleasure. By "guilty", I mean it's a mildly entertaining mish-mash of X Files and J. Michael Straczynski's Rising Stars series (someday, someday, Sam Raimi's production company is going to get off its collective asses and bring that to the small screen). Still, I enjoy watching the trials and tribulations of agents Baldwin and Skouris, the messianic majesty of Jordan Collier (a fantastic Billy Campbell), and some great recurring guest turns from Summer Glau, the adorable (but not-too-talented) Lindy Booth, and the Reanimator himself, Jeffrey Combs.

So I watch the show, am mildly entertained by most of the performances, and keep coming back, hoping they're going somewhere. Tonight, they did. They went somewhere surprisingly big which will probably require them to make some other rather large adjustments in the coming weeks. Good for them. It does seem that they have a game plan.

Why do I bring up this moderately entertaining show about which I've never posted? Why is there a link to a baseball glove at the top of the post?

Because tonight, for at least the third time in my life on TV or in a movie, I've seen someone "prove" that an American male was left handed by throwing a ball at his head and seeing him catch it with his left hand. Really? An American male?

Are these shows written exclusively by people who've never played sports? Never played American sports? (By the way, I'm not trying to discriminate here...a right-handed hockey goalie would have the same reaction, but this is basically an American show, though it shoots in Vancouver.) Trust me. If you ever played baseball or softball and are right-handed, your reaction is to catch with your left hand. You might barehand a hot roller, or a slow bunt, but generally you're going to use your glove hand and then transfer it to your right. American, Cuban, Dominican, Japanese, the list goes on for quite a while.

I don't know why this particular thing irritates me, but every time I see it I want to hurl a ball - with my right hand of course - at the screen.

Slammed by Slamdance

Looong weekend. Decided on Friday that I'd try to get a spec pilot ready for the Slamdance deadline on Monday. I'd written one back in June but just wasn't happy with it - all plot and limited characterization. I had a much better idea for an A story using the same setting and characters, both of which I think have some real long-term viability, so I broke the story on Saturday and started pounding it out last night.

Progress was pretty limited on Saturday. I knew what I was writing, but got bogged down in a transitional scene. Finally gave up and hit the sack. Parker got me up bright and early this morning and I got right to it. Ripped right through my transition problem and the remainder of the screenplay in about seven hours. At the end, I had a really solid draft. Needs to be punched up and the third act needs another minute or two, but it's pretty solid for 12 hours of work.

The problem is that it's solid but not superior. That's to be expected for a weekend rush job, of course. It needs a day of repose and reflection, and ideally some coverage before it sees the light of day. I could submit it, but it's no winner. All I'd get is some paid coverage back (and from what I've heard, the Slamdance readers might not be super-detailed.) Better I hold it back and get it polished up for the agent search which starts in earnest in September. One spec + one spec pilot = time to find an agent.

The great thing about my weekend efforts is the end of the writer's block with which I've been suffering. I've been vacillating over that damn 30 Rock spec for a month. I was pretty sure I'd figured out last week how to get through the story block but was worried I still had a bigger problem. After this weekend's slam-fest I'm feeling more confident.

18 August 2007

NPH == Dorothy Lamour

There be video here FeedReader
"What's up with the guy with the weird eyes? He handicapped or something?"

17 August 2007

U-N-C-L-E F****

There's video here, FeedReader!

Apparently, ladies in their sensibilities don't like it when we make with the longshoreman talk. For those delicate flowers, I offer the video above.

16 August 2007

Well met, helmet

Back in the day I was quite into cycling. Fit my personality beautifully, providing me hours of quiet time with my thoughts. I had quite the crush on the ebullient Rebecca Twigg, in small part for her two-wheeled prowess, in (very) large part for her awesome cuteness, and in (probably bigger than the former but smaller than the latter) part because she'd gone to college early (16, as I recall) and graduated in short order.

It was no small cause of grief between me and my 'rents that they'd prevented me from skipping grades the two times it was offered to me in school, and this aspect of the lovely Ms. Twigg just enhanced her appeal to me. Smart, athletic, AND cute. A triple-threat. (Wifey-poo, as you read this you should realize why you're such a catch to me.)

So about seven years ago, I'm talking with my Fly Tenafly buddy, O. He'd also been into cycling in his teenybopper years and the topic of Ms. Twigg came up. And his recollection of her cuteness equaled mine. "To the Internet!!!"

Oh, we found Rebecca. She was working on her MS in computer science at UCCS and had a ***resume*** out there! Unfortunately, her emphasis on UI wasn't going to fit in particularly well at our company dedicated to building network monitoring/management tools, but we did think about seeing if we couldn't convince her to fly out to Cali for an interview...just to bask in the glow of the Twigg.

So the other day my mind was a-wandering and alit on a Twigg. So I made like Barney Google with the Goo-goo-googly eyes and looked for her footprint. It's actually smaller now than it was at the turn of the millenium! I didn't know that was possible, at least not for someone still actively involved in software. From what I can gather, she finally finished up her thesis work and got her Masters this past spring. But really, I'm just guessing there. There are a few faint echoes of her time at UCCS, but nothing like what one would expect for an Olympic medalist and former postergirl who'd just finished up her MSCS. Rebecca, Rebecca, wherefore iz-it thou?

You've got to park if we're going to chat

Didn't get up for the gym this morning, and didn't leave early enough to avoid some of the nastier traffic (and multiple school zones) on the drive to work. Now, having lived in places with actual congestion, I'm not really complaining, but I do hate spending my life behind lap traffic. So I'm doing my best to bob and weave, but having limited success. Then, I pick a right lane at a light (about 10 or 12 cars back) expecting a few people to peel off on the turn. They do, but something (pedestrian, old person) causes the lane to start quite late and I lose ground. So much, that I almost don't make the light and have to cut back to the left lane to get out as it's about to turn red.

About 100 meters down the road we come to a grinding halt for school zone #2 and a d-bag in a GMC truck comes up on my ass. I mean right up on my ass. I'd left this guy in the right lane and seen him run the red in my rear-view, but I've got no idea what he wants. I assume he wants to know what my car is; that's a pretty common occurrence. But no. He thinks I cut him off, so now he's cursing and flipping me off.

Um, yah. While I have cut cars off in my life, it's a pretty rare occurrence. What usually happens is that I make a move at high speed and some dimwitted slow driver thinks I was close to hitting him. Or thinks he needed to slam his brakes to avoid hitting me, despite the fact that when his tiny lizard brains finally gets the signal to his foot (left, I'm guessing...that's the kind of drivers these are - left-foot brakers) I'm already gone. There was only one way in which I could have cut him off, and that's if he thought he'd make the lane change from right to left without signaling or checking to see if it was clear. Even then, he was still firmly in the right lane when I was through the light.

Now, I'd point out that his daughter was in the car for his diatribe. The little Lohan-in-training's even getting into it, flipping me off along with dear old dad. I was not pleasant in response, though I wasn't a ball of rage. I merely responded with a few choice bon mots intended to point out his lack of masculinity and preferred forms of lovemaking, then suggested he follow me. About a mile up the road we'd come across a shopping center where we could "talk".

I got behind him for a moment, but of course he thought he could trick me into rear-ending him. This is pretty typical of people who drive quite poorly. They think everyone's reflexes and judgment are as poor as their own. So I pull back alongside and pass - getting the daddy-daughter-double-flipoff on the way. He swerves. Again, like I didn't see that coming? My car gets crushed and it has to go back to the factory in Georgia...do you think I'm going pass a moron like you without leaving space?

Back in front, I start waving him to follow.

Poor lad actually did. I mean, it would have been fine if the daughter hadn't been in the car. But first he teaches her how to be a skank, then he teaches her how to blame everyone else for his inattention to the road, and then...

...I pull over when I enter the lot and he blows by. So I follow him. Mind you, this sort of sucks for me what with all the speed bumps, but I manage. He stops his car - conveniently in front of a place with a really good breakfast burrito; I might be hungry after this. He opens his door. I park. I get out. He closes his door.

Sidebar: this guy's built like Lance Armstrong. I'm built like...a fat muscular soccer player. I'm certainly not huge, but I've got about 70 ell bees and three inches on Mr. Flippyfinger (see, funny names ARE funny...just not this one). I walk up to the truck, he's still yelling and screaming, but his foot's hovering over the accelerator. I tell him he's gotta park if we're gonna chat, but he peels off.

Didn't work out this morning, and didn't work up an appetite chatting with my new friend, so I skipped the burrito. Very depressed about that. It's a really tasty egg-white scramble with veggies and salsa.

Now, if his daughter were smart - ie: adopted - she'd realize what an incredible pansy daddy is. Unfortunately, she's probably super-proud of her daddy this morning. No shame, no lessons learned about humility or keeping your mouth shut or watching the road. Just pride that daddy ran away from a fight that he tried to instigate.

I've got nothing but respect for people who don't fight on principle. If I weren't such an angry guy, I'd aspire to that level of enlightenment/peacefulness. But this guy was clearly itching for a fight. He couldn't stop screaming and cursing even as he was driving away with his tail between his off-road tires. He nearly slammed into me from behind, jammed his brakes trying to get me to do the same, and tried to swerve into me. He used his car as a weapon; he was anything but peaceful. All he was was a big-mouthed, scared little boy trying to act tough who ran away when someone actually called him on it.

15 August 2007

Just call me Bartholomew McRufflepants

for the myriad readers of the feed, there's a video above me...
It's readin' for those who hate readin'. No. 50 from the book Comedy by the Numbers, available from the fine folk at McSweeney's.

14 August 2007

Gone, and soon forgotten

I've avoided saying anything about Karl Rove, but I'm tired of this continuation of the meme that he's some sort of evil supergenius. He's evil - in a banal, self-serving, modern GOP way - but he's no genius. He didn't figure out how to game the system; he didn't reinvent politics. And he's probably not going to have a big political comeback.

Karl Rove is the Moneymaker of the Bush administrations. A poor gamesman who doesn't really understand the game he's playing who got on a ridiculous hot streak for awhile. He's the "Crazy Internet Qualifier" of political hacks.

That's not to say he didn't have some big wins and do some of the most egregious things this country's ever seen from a political operative. I'm just saying most of his efforts have been clumsy, telegraphed, and shown the insight of drawing out a gutshot straight for a pot-sized bet. Lucky (and frumpy). Not brilliant.

12 August 2007

WB Application Is Off

Put together and offed* the application for the WB Writers Workshop today. It's super convenient, meeting as it does every Wednesday night for 15 weeks in LA, but we decided to find a way to make it work if I get it. Hey, what's the worst that happens? The control freak who thinks she runs HR at my office gets her panties in a bunch when I take off midday on Wednesday? Hell, that's just an added bonus.

Course, I'm not feeling particularly confident about my submission. I got some great feedback on the spec from one of my fellow Sitcom-Roomers, but instead of incorporating any of it this week, I kept banging my head against the wall with my 30 Rock. Then yesterday was errand-filled. That left me today and I came up short. I made some formatting changes and some smaller structural changes, but I couldn't make some of the bigger thematic changes the story needs. Oh well.

I still think that it's a pretty good spec and gives me a decent shot at both WB and Disney, but I'll feel a lot better when it gets another pass and I've got that damn 30 Rock banged out. Then the agent hunt begins in earnest.

* Yah, it feels like I killed it. At least I killed a bunch of trees printing it.

10 August 2007

David, that's my standard for life in general

Nick Hornby interviews David Simon in The Believer: "My standard for verisimilitude is simple and I came to it when I started to write prose narrative: fuck the average reader."

09 August 2007

Lick and Blood: Main characters

Alright, a few changes on "Lick and Blood" (sure it was a lame joke, but I can keep one of those running for weeks). Here's what we're going with now...

Blood - a 150-year-old by-the-book Weredog. One still and moonlit evening, this proud and loyal Irish Wolfhound was walking on the fens with his master Heathcliff when they were set upon by a vicious lycanthrope. Blood fought the beast bravely and killed it, but suffered a grave wound in the battle. Now, when the moon is full, he changes from a giant, powerful canine into a slightly larger, still powerful canine with shaggier hair and yellower teeth. Cursed to walk upon the earth until he is the last of his kind, he hunts creatures of the night.

Lick - a 500-year-old Vampire cat. Once the beloved pet of Vlad Tepes, Lick was true to his name on the fateful evening the Son of the Dragon was turned to the darkness by an ancient vampire. A few drops of the sire's blood was all it took to turn the bluepoint Siamese into a creature of the night. For half a millennium he has hidden among us, sleeping all day and "playfully" attacking his hapless masters at night. Recently, Lick became aware of a prophecy about his greater destiny, but he is still unable to abide and obey his senior partner or his lieutenant. Lick is untrainable.

Lt. Cattillo - a tough tomcat from the Barrio, he scratched and clawed his way through the academy and his early years as a beat cop. Along the way he buried three partners and divorced five wives. His life had finally settled into a quiet routine until Lick and Blood came into his precinct. He's been hitting the catnip a bit harder of late.

08 August 2007

I still won't eat their flamebroiled "meat"

Here I am, about to pitch my idea about a zany vampire dog that teams up with a by-the-book were-cat to fight crime.

It's called "Lick and Blood".*

* A bright shiny nickel to the first person to get that. Two nickels if you don't have to google it. Three nickels if you can tell me who would have played Blood back in the day.

Dancing with the Juice

For the non-sport folk out there who didn't see this on Deadspin today...

Jonah Hill passed over for OJ.

Sure Jonah's not the hottest dude out there, but that's part of his charm. He certainly isn't fit enough to swing a knife dozens of times.

Kattan Buy Me Love

We just got cockblocked by Chris Kattan. Even without parts 1 & 2, this is great.

07 August 2007

Third-hand Hearsay from Beyond the Grave

What with the Body Thetans attacking John Travolta on film these days, I'm reminded of a story.

So I used to work with a woman from Baltimore. Not that woman. So this woman was a graphic artist and had worked on this movie by John Waters. Maybe you've heard of it? Hairspray? Her job on the movie (as she told it, and as imdb sorta confirms) was to paint the roach dress (which, shockingly, I can't find a picture of). Okay, that's cool.

But what's much cooler is the story she tells about being in the car with the Truly Divine one. They're driving down the road, and see young Ricki Lake - the star of the movie - walking beside it. Divine yells out...

"Run the Bitch OVER!"

A sentiment I imagine has been expressed oh so many times, but never so eloquently.

So as the would-be Jonnie Goodboy Tyler missteps and mis-sings on the big screen this summer, remember what was and could have been. Remember Divine.

The Amazing Adventures of The Escapist

Look out, Boys it's Here!
THE FIRST BOOK COLLECTION EVER of the original Amazing Adventures of The Escapist, the legendary yet seldom-seen comic book feature that riveted generations of readers for decades--and served as the secret inspiration for Michael Chabon's Pulitzer-Prize winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Thrill to over sixty years' worth of carefully selected stories from the classic days of comic book industry production, when men were men--and there was still money to be made. Included rare art and stories by Howard Chaykin, Jim Starlin, Gene Colan, Michael Chabon, Glen David Gold, and Kevin McCarthy, this is no collection to miss by any serious student of comic book history or fan of contemporary literature. But it now!
Fortunately, the arbitrarily bold backcover sales pitch is only more entertaining than a small portion of this book's contents. Chabon's story - the Escapist's origin story from The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - is the high point of the book. Sad, as he's not the comics guy, but he's not alone in producing a good read.

There are a couple of other decent tales: Kevin McCarthy's "Divine Wind" and "Prison Break"; McCarthy's Luna Moth story, "Old Flame"; and Glen David Gold's "The Lady or the Tiger" which closes the book on a bittersweet note that echoes the opening's. In between there are some other good stories and a few very silly efforts.

The conceit of the book and the subsequent volumes is that The Escapist was a real funnybook character, created by Kavalier and Clay, who were then loosely fictionalized by Chabon in his novel about the birth of the comics industry. This volume then collects decades worth of stories of various quality, including the many years when the intellectual rights on The Escapist were disputed and the stories were anything but classic. Conceptually, this is brilliant. As an art installation, I'd be amused and entertained. As a collection of comics, I'm far less so. Especially when I see what could have been when reading the masterful first and last stories, or imagine the Kane-inspired comics Chabon could have scripted for these fine artists to bring to life.

That's the one constant throughout (excepting two stories where bad art was part of the joke): the art is top-notch. In particular, the three Luna Moth stories are quite beautiful. This makes sense, as Joe Kavalier's art for the character was supposed to be revolutionary. Bill Sienkiewicz does a masterful job with McCarthy's "The Mechanist" and Dan Brereton's colors pop off the panels of McCarthy's "Old Flame". Christie Scheele's Luna Moth, while not as painterly, juxtaposes light and dark to good effect.

The most evocative art for me comes with the final tale...and now that I've taken the time to reflect, it might even be better than Chabon's origin story. But I'm a sucker for bittersweet. And I was blown away by Gene Colan's layout. More than anything else about his art, the way he blows up panels and uses whitespace between them for effect is striking. He generates a real sense of claustrophobia when The Escapist is underground, and heightens the tension of a protracted chase sequence while Tom Mayflower pursues the mysterious Lady of the title. When Colan finally comes at you with the full-page full-bleed, its impact is that much more profound.

For comics folk who've never read Kavalier and Clay and probably never will, I'd say skip the book. You'll just find it an odd and pointless exercise. In fact, you're probably better off hanging out at DC message boards arguing about whether Renato Guedes has made Kara fat or not. For those who have read K&C and hate comics...I think you missed the point. Go reread K&C. For the Chabon fans who also like the funnybooks, this slender volume should be a treat.

Stardust Friday

Neil Gaiman's getting a little antsy...

(If you're in two minds about Stardust, about whether or not to see it or even when to see it, please go and see it this weekend. Friday night if you can. Take friends. If necessary, take them at gunpoint. They will love the movie so much they will forgive you afterwards. And if they don't forgive you, you can dispose of them quietly -- you're the one with the gun, after all -- and you will have a wonderful time for the rest of your life with the new friends you made at the Stardust screening.)

01 August 2007

Lost Tales, Found on Doorstep!

Had a crap day today. Spent most of it trying to get GWT working with a Sourceforge library that adds access to the map api. Yeah. That didn't work so well. Wouldn't build when I finally managed to get everything stitched together, and my initial assumption was yet another Mac problem. So I decided to confirm on Solaris. Right. Except GWT is built on SWT, and I decided I didn't want to work around that, too. So GWT is out.

So it was with great joy I found B5 waiting for me on my doorstep. It's been far too long since I got to enjoy these characters and these stories. Unfortunately, all I got was Sheridan1 and Lochley. Man, how pissed is JMS at Claudia Christian that he couldn't have called her back home. Lochley. Ugh.

The efx looked good, though there was one chroma scene where the cgi guys didn't put enough depth of field into the background and it looked like an old-style rear-projection shot. Also, the exteriors were a little too video-gamy for my tastes. I'm impressed with what JMS accomplished with a small budget, but I've been spoiled by BSG: I want battle-scarred dull steel space vessels, not floating, spinning kaleidoscopes.

Clearly a lot of the budget savings on The Lost Tales were on cast. This was the definition of spartan2. Seven, no eight, on-screen speaking roles and a couple of OS lines. And one of the on-screen speakers had one line. Much more like a two-act play that was filmed (with some efx) than an episode of the finest SF show ever created. There weren't even enough extras to make the station feel like its old, bustling self.

JMS used this disc as an opportunity to work on his directing skills (I guess he already had his guild card from Sleeping in Light). I hope he's picked up some good tricks to bring to bear on the next disc. And I want my damn Garibaldi story!

So, it was worth the $15 bucks. It was worth the time to watch - the low-key memorial to Andreas Katsulas and Richard Biggs would have been worth the price and time alone to me - and I recommend it to any fans. If I were to compare it to its siblings, I'd say it was better than Crusade, better than Legend of the Rangers, but worse than about 60 of the original flavor episodes.

1 Not to imply there's ever anything unfortunate about watching Scarecrow work. He's always a joy.
2 Okay, sure. It's not the definition of Spartan. There were no Greek warriors anywhere in sight, and not once did someone get kicked in the chest by a scantily-clad dude in a beard. Also, there were chairs. A special point was made about chairs. No throw pillows, but chairs.