Archive | July, 2009

Murfins and Burgalinks

31 Jul

REU TELEVISION-AMERICANIDOL/–Captain TryHard Returns– It’s official – lamer Kara DioGuardi will be returning to Idol.  I’m not totally convinced that this is a bad thing; there’s a chance that she’ll take the off-season to reflect on what she could be doing better and will return with a newfound focus and determination to offer real critical feedback.  Orrrrr…. she’ll be the exact same, everyone else will be the same too, and without a Lambert, the show will be brutally uninteresting and I’ll stop watching.  Hmm.  Which do you think is more likely?  Anyway – Idolator’s got the scoop, and an interesting poll, too.

–Fantastic? Remains to be seen– The trailer for Wes Anderson’s new stop-motion film adaptation of The Fantastic Mr. Fox is up, and Pajiba’s posted it, along with an interesting take on it.  I agree – it’s distracting to hear Clooney’s voice coming from Mr. Fox, and the whole thing has such an Oceans Eleven by way of Royal Tenenbaums thing going on that it’s hard to figure out what, exactly, the goal of the film is.  I’ll see it, though, that’s for sure.  At least Anderson’s not resting on his laurels – I majorly enjoyed The Darjeeling Limited, and have a feeling that when all’s said and done, Fox will be really good.

–The Last Child vs. The Little Children– If you’ve been missing out on Joe R’s Low Resolution Trailer Tournament, now’s your last chance to vote.  It comes down to Children of Men vs. Little Children, and is actually a kind of hard vote.  I didn’t see Little Children, but I read the book, and while I appreciate the trailer, it seems a little more intense than the actual story, and a bit misleading.  Children of Men’s trailer, however, is kind of an abridged version of the movie, but I totally, utterly love that movie, so… it’s hard.  I had to follow my heart and vote for Children of Men.  Go vote!

Palin Redline Detail–Find That Woman An Editor– I’m sure y’all have already seen this, but a week or so ago, Vanity Fair published an edited “Redline” version of Sarah Palin’s first resignation speech.  It’s pretty amazing – on one level, it’s funny because it points out all of the ridiculous errors in the speech, and on another level, it actually turns it into a good speech, which is almost more amazing. Also worth noting is that this is the same Vanity Fair that published the brutally incisive expose on Palin merely a week before she resigned her office.  Oh, whoops, I meant her “title.”

–I’ll Have A Bud Light Lime, Mr. President– Speaking of politics, The New Yorker published this imagined transcript of the conversation between Obama, Officer Crowley, and Louis Gates after getting together to have a beer.  Or, from the looks of it, a couple cases of beer.  This was published before Obama went ahead and actually made it happen, which is pretty funny – I’m not sure whether the tone of the article is “wouldn’t it be sweet if they actually did this??” but regardless, they did, and we can only hope that their conversation was one tenth as funny as the New Yorker imagines.

–Real Band, Fake Plastic Instruments– Leigh Alexander of Gamasutra and Sexy Videogameland, recently got together with Brooklyn beard-rockers Gunfight! to see if they were better at Rock Band than people who don’t play instruments.  While the answer to that question isn’t all that interesting (They are!  Some of the time!), the article itself is a fun read, particularly the band’s thoughts on the whole thing.

Eliza Dollhouse–How to Really Watch Dollhouse– Via MNPP, I’ve found this post at io9, which discusses some experimental, possibly optimal ways to watch Dollhouse on DVD.  It’s pretty wild that this show has been so altered by the network that it’s possible to watch the unaired pilot, the final episode, and the unaired bonus episode (which I just saw) and get a better sense of the show than you would just watching the 12 episodes FOX aired.  I mean, that’s 66.6% unaired material. The hell?  Get your shit together, FOX, and let Joss do his job in season 2.

–Joe Bagale, Joe Bagale, Joe Bagale– He is this guy, you know?  He plays several instruments, and he also sings a little bit.  Oh, wait.  I mean, he is a sick guitarist, burning drummer, and absolutely unbelievable singer.  The guy who practically stole the show at Adam’s Hip-Hop Symphony is performing all over the place with his own band, and it’s totally great stuff.  He’ll be playing at Yoshi’s in SF tonight, and I predict awesomeness.  Don’t take my word for it, though, check out this video – it’s like cliff’s notes for a whole show-

Should be a fun weekend, and let’s hope that this stupid flippin’ fog clears up.  Hasta Luego!

So You Think You Can Douche

31 Jul

Daily Show So You Think You Can Douche

Glen Beck! Sean Hannity! Lou Dobbs!  Who will go home tonight?  I thought that Hannity’s solo routine to Carmina Burana was pretty good, but, in a shocker, Beck wins the night with a double-toepick-contradiction that has the audience out of their seats!  This show, I’m telling ya – people say it’s just cheap thrills, but really, the level of douchebaggery on display makes it so much more than that. (Via)

So I Think Lil’ C Just Blew My Mind

30 Jul

Lil C Top Six SYTYCDWow.  I’ve said it before – I, for one, love SYTYCD’s Lil’ C’s particular brand of multisyllabic wordsmithery, but I believe that last night, the man really outdid himself.  At the end of Brandon and Kayla’s (outstanding, if a bit exhausting) Disco routine, we were treated to the following:

“Um… *sigh.*  Being out of your comfort zone represents unfamiliarity, and it also represents darkness.  And when faced with certain challenges, like being out of the comfort zone of your genre, you have to go and befriend characteristics of your challenge.  You have to go and see the music, and when you see the music, you have to see certain pieces of music with your ears, and when you see with your ears, there is no darkness, and I saw no darkness within this routine.”

When I watch C say it, it sounds like he’s sort of bullshitting, but when I read the words on their own, I gotta admit – it’s pretty brilliant stuff.  I don’t know what he means, exactly, but the gist is gotten. It certainly makes me wish I could see the world the way he sees it. He followed up with this gem:

“A lot of dancers they tend to forget that there’s a pocket of music; each specific piece of music has a pocket, and you have to get in between the instruments, you feel me?”

Yeah, C, we feel you. That was, as you might say, a total “Explosion of Excellence(TM).”  It almost feels as though C has heard the mocking/adoring clarion call of the internets and is now playing to the cheap seats, but I for one, don’t care. Between Nigel’s show-pimping, awkward divorce-referencing, goofy white-guy-dancing dorkiness, Mary’s yelling-tempered-with-shockingly-incisive-feedback caterwauling, and C’s stratospheric, meandering vernacular (not to mention Mia’s own brand of insane-cat-woman-from-mars critical devouring), I just love watching the judges on this show do their thing.  And dear lord, they’re so much more enjoyable than Empty Chair, Captain TryHard, Drugged Lady, and Pricky McTightshirt on that other FOX competitive reality show.

Kayla Brandon Disco

Whew.

Okay, um… other thoughts on last night…  I’m in the tank for Jeanine at this point, though I think that Kayla is a pretty phenomenal dancer.  I’m surprised that this year, I’m consistently enjoying the solo routines more than most of the duets – I thought that nearly every single dancer did really well with their solos, though Evan’s shrugging jazz stuff kind of grates on me a bit. I think that Melissa’s was really weak, too, which gives her two lame solos these past two weeks, and that she really should go home tonight.

And though I didn’t love his routines, Evan really impressed me – it’s easy to see the pasty little guy and think that he’s this pantywaist, no match for Ade and Brandon, but the way that he just rocked the moves in the guy’s group-dance speaks to his athleticism, as well as his cajones.  He should go home, but so should Ade, who is increasingly striking me as an empty shirt, a smiling dude who’s kind of shallow. Gotta love that eight-foot vertical, though.

Anyway, rambling complete – not a stellar night, but some good stuff. I predict that Ade and Melissa will go home, which seems about right. I’m really interested to see who wins this thing, though I’m not at all certain I’m ready for another season of this show to start in the fall.  This season has had its moments, but it’s just a B-minus for me, and following the A-plus that was season four, it’s kind of a drag. But hey, as long as they keep the judges around, I’ll tune in.

You say you want more detailed analysis? Well then, check out the as-usual solid write-ups by Vance at Tapeworthy (with whom I agree about just about everything this week) and Joe’s roundtable at Low Resolution.

Michael McKean Smells The Glove

30 Jul

Michael McKean on The Daily ShowI caught Spinal Tap’s recent performance on The Daily Show and damn, they sounded pretty good!  I’m not sure I’ve ever really thought of the band as a real performing entity, for whatever reason; hmm… actually, if you’ve seen the movie (tell me you’ve seen the movie), it’s pretty clear why.

As The Darkness proved, we Americans tend to have a hard time taking rock acts seriously if they’re the least bit funny; for whatever reason, we like our comedy music with props and acoustic guitars, thank you very much. Spinal tap was very funny, and American that I am, I just never considered that they were a serious performing rock group.

I was impressed with everyone’s playing (their hired gun drummer sounded really solid, though the gig must come with hazard pay), but the most impressive by far was Michael McKean, (A.K.A. “David St. Hubbins”). In addition to singing lead, McKean played a mean lead guitar, keeping some notey riffs going during the vocals and taking a pretty damn good solo.  Huh.  I always knew that all three of the guys in the band (McKean, Harry Shearer, and Christopher Guest) were strong players – if nothing else, their acoustic performances in A Mighty Wind made that clear – but it was pretty cool to hear them hold their own in a straight-up rock performance.

best-higgins-mckean

"The French know nothing about shampooing."

I looked up McKean, and it turns out he’s known as much for his musical work as for his comedic roles.  After doing a ton of various musical variety acts in his early career, he was a musical guest on Saturday Night Live before joining the cast (according to Wikipedia, he is the only person ever to be a musical guest, then a host, and then a cast member). The guy is just always working – he’s a quintessential Hey It’s That Guy, currently playing Spinal Tap shows in support of the band’s new album, writing a musical for Broadway, and starring in various plays and TV pilots (one of which, “The Thick Of It,” sounds like it would have been great – Hurwitz! Guest! WTF, ABC? Get on it, HBO!)

Also cool – together with his wife Anette O’Toole, McKean wrote several songs from A Mighty Wind, including the title tune (“Yes, it’s blowin’ peace and freedom, it’s blowin’ you and me“), and the beautiful “A Kiss At The End Of The Rainbow,” a song so great that it single-handedly makes that movie compete with “Best in Show” for my favorite of the Guest ouvre.

And perhaps best of all?  He starred in one of my all-time favorite movies, playing Mr. Green in “Clue”! Mr. Green has long been my favorite character in that movie, and I had no idea McKean played him, though, to be fair, it was long enough ago that he looks completely different.  I guess I’ll just have to force myself to watch that movie again.

So, ladies and gents, I give you Michael McKean -  Singer, songwriter, guitarist, actor, comedian, and undercover FBI agent. Comedy rennaissance man; king of the Hey It’s That Guys.  Props to you, sir.

Michael McKean Mr. Green Clue

"I'm gonna go home and sleep with my wife."

“The Exited Door” Gets Mad Men’d

29 Jul

Mad Men'd JoanIn honor of the coming third season of Mad Men (a program which I believe to be the best currently on television), AMC has set up a site at which a user can upload a photo of him or herself and be “Mad Men’d.”  Similar to past phenomenons like “Simpsonize Me” and “Obamicon Me,” it’s a snap to use, is a great promotional tool, and results in a flood of new Facebook profile pictures.

I have yet to Mad Men’d myself (improper grammar, I know, but that seems somehow better than “Mad Men myself”), because I do not have Flash Player 10, which is required to run the necessary web app.  The reasons behind my dated Flash pluginitude are Hulu-related and not worth detailing here, but the upshot is that, though I would love nothing more than to have a Mad Men’d photo of myself out there, I do not, and I just have to be okay with that.

Fortunately, my friends David and Sonia (she of The Sonia Show), are big fans of the show, too, and after Mad Men’d-ing themselves (o, how the language bends and twists to our desires), they then went ahead and added their Mad Men’d-icized pictures to the cover of The Exited Door, with a pretty amazing result:

ExitedDoorREMIX1

HA!  I’ve never looked so white (well, outside of a wedding reception dance floor, anyway), and Sonia has never looked so much like… Velma, actually. Anyway, this is all a long way of saying that I am incredibly stoked for the show to start back up on August 16th.  I’m ever so curious about what (and when) Don and the gang are up to, and it’ll be nice to once again be able to get all of my smoking and drinking done vicariously through fictional characters.

Dollhouse, “Epitaph One” – The Best DVD Extra Ever?

28 Jul

DeWitt and TopherWow, dudes. On the plane today, I watched the unaired 13th episode of Dollhouse, titled “Epitaph One.”  It comes bundled as a bonus episode in the just-released DVD set of the show’s first season, and holy hell, it’s probably the best, most crucial 50-minutes of “bonus material” I’ve ever seen.  I won’t write any overt spoilers in my reactions/thoughts below, but I will write a little a bit about the episode, so if you’ve yet to see it, you might want to steer clear… suffice to say, if you had even a passing interest in this show and especially if you watched through the finale, you owe it to yourself to rent the DVDs (or use other easier, less “legal” means) to watch this episode.

Epitaph One boots up in the year 2019, several years after the work that Topher and the Dollhouse gang were doing in Season One has reached its logical conclusion, brainwashing the majority of the human race and causing a global apocalypse. The episode stars, among others, Dr. Horrible’s Felicia Day, whose band of survivors stumbles upon the abandoned (or is it?) Dollhouse and begins to piece together what happened all those years ago.  In addition to this A-plot, we see out-of-order and context flashbacks to a still-functional Dollhouse as it reckons with the coming of the brainwash apocalypse.

It’s a brilliantly put-together, riveting hour of television; in fact, I thought it was far, far better than any hour of the show up to this point.  More than anything, watching Epitaph One felt like watching the pilot for a brand-new, upcoming Joss show. I’m kind of incredulous that FOX is really not going to air it, ever.  Can that be true?  It’s such a massive game-changer, imparts such a fuckton of new information, and… well… it’s just so good! Why wouldn’t they just air it?

Dollhouse Epitaph One: Whisky and Caroline

So yeah, killer, killer episode.  I absolutely can’t wait to hear what everyone on the internets thinks – Sepinwall already saw it, and has some choice, enthusiastic words to share, and I’m sure all the other Whedonites out there will chime in soon enough. Actually, they probably all already have.

But for the moment, ahem. I gotta say it. Back when I first wrote about Dollhouse, even while drawing heat from many who said the show was a waste of time, I said this would happen, and now, I just wanted to say:  Neener, Neener, etc. Y’all made me doubt, but here’s what I said at the time:

So, aaaanyway. I’m just sayin’. Provided the show is around long enough, Dollhouse will get good.  They’re going to break Echo out of the Dollhouse, she’s going to have a composite event and start remembering who she is (just look at the end twists in the last two episodes), and the whole idea of mind-reprogramming is going to be explored in new, uncomfortable, and likely awesome ways.

….aaaand BAM.  Without getting too specific or spoiler-y, I was right the fuck on. Maybe the show is still not for you, and maybe you got off the bus during one of the weak-sauce early episodes, but I’m glad I stuck with it.  Assuming that Dollhouse can keep this momentum going, and especially after taking into consideration all of the guest star rumors I’m hearing about (Alexis Denisorf, Summer Glau, Jamie… Bamber? Can that be right?), it seems awfully likely that Season 2 is gonna be some damn good times.

Dollhouse Epitaph One

Midwestern Summer Night’s Dream

28 Jul

Don’t worry, this post isn’t devoted to the content of my dreams last night or anything (though they were pretty crazy – copy-editing was involved), just a reflection on the absolute gorgeousness of summer in the midwest. Today I’m returning home from my second summer trip through/over America – from the hustle and bustle of Brooklyn to the quiet breeze of west St. Paul (sheesh, sounds like a Jeffry Eugenides novel or something) and I thought I’d reflect for a sec. For all the words spilled on the grandeur and beauty of the Pacific Northwest, there really is no more beautiful place than the midwest in the summertime.

Minnesota Sky

Long, rolling landscapes stretch as far as the eye cares to see, the sky full of huge, puffy clouds, windows thrown open to allow the air in… aah! Long evenings spent outside in short sleeves are something we experience with a depressing infrequency in San Francisco, and they make me profoundly nostalgic.

I wonder if there’s a place in the world where the climate combines the temperateness of San Francisco with the summer evenings of the midwest? And then, after wondering that, I roll my eyes and kick myself, because jeez, dude, way to just never be satisfied.

Anyway, today marks the return to San Francisco; back to regular blogging, preparing for the big Rickshaw show on September 3rd, starting work on a music video, writing charts for the kids for next year, and probably a whole slew of other things as yet unanticipated. Heeeeere comes August!

MInnesota Flower

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