Monday, November 06, 2006

NaNoWriMo - 7 - Day 5/6 - Back on the Horse

Now it's really starting to get fun. After three days of feeling practically helpless to get any traction on this story and to get myself out of the rut I was already in, I had a really good writing night tonight. Nearly 3000 words. I made up a whole day today, almost. Now I'm only 2200 words off pace, and with two good days, I can be right where I need to be.

The story is really starting to take some shape. I have a vague idea of where I want it to go a chapter or two ahead of time. Characters are starting to take shape and tell me things about themselves that I didn't know. More eloquent words and phrases are starting to flow from my fingertips rather than the typical "he glanced" or "he replied".

This is really fun.

I think I can actually do this. After Thursday and Friday I had serious doubts, but now... it's entirely possible.

Can't wait to see what happens next with this story.

And I never in a million years thought I'd be writing a political thriller...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

NaNoWriMo - 6 - Day 3 - Chugging to a Halt

Okay... I am/was starting to get worried. I'm getting NO momentum going on this story. I spent all day working on emergency print ads and making some changes to the Global commercial. Then I had to go buy some wireless networking gear for my mom and then go to her house and set it up, and (this was the good part), eat some fantastic gumbo. After that I went to my sister's house and enjoyed their hot tub and spent a nice evening with my sister and her husband (Ryan and Tamara were both home sick tonight). And then I came home and watched a great episode of Battlestar Galactica.

So it was after midnight when I finally sat down to maybe think about writing. I almost just called it an evening, but managed to get in a fair amount of writing. Not a huge amount, but enough so that I feel like it wasn't a total waste of a day, NaNoWriMo-concerned. I'm now up to 1867 words, which is WAY behind where I need to be, but I was able to get back on the horse which is good. Saturday really SHOULD be a good day where I catch up. We'll see.

And I did pretty good today about not bogging myself down with editing and rewriting as I go. I came thisclose to grinding to a halt while looking up the actual geography of downtown Washington DC. That can all wait, and I successfully just plopped something down quickly. I think I'll get better at just going with the flow the longer I do this.

Okay... time for bed again, and a bit of "No Plot, No Problem" reading. Tamara is going garage saling in the early morning and I will try to wake up to join her. It's the mega-neighborhood sale, so there are usually good things to be found.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

NaNoWriMo - 5 - Day Two

So it's 11:45 and I'm just finishing up work for the day (a major commercial for Global Industries). I haven't had a chance to write a single word today, and I'm totally wiped out. I think I'll try to go to bed early tonight (midnight) and wake up really early tomorrow and start writing to catch up.

One good thing I did last night before I went to sleep, was I read a good chunk of the "No Plot, No Problem" book written by the guy that started NaNoWriMo. There was a ton of good stuff I learned because I almost didn't read it, thinking I knew what he was going to say. The main thing that was re-iterated to me was that this month-long contest isn't about quality.. it's about quantity. If I'm going to edit and proofread and rewrite as I go, I'll never finish. Yesterday, I was so caught up in trying to make Craig's first chapter have a different voice that I got bogged chapter one. I just need to WRITE it, as fast as I can, and really get it in my head that I'll be able to edit it later and rewrite it later.

So hopefully, tomorrow will be a more productive day, novelish-speaking. I might have a commercial to produce, but if I don't, then I'll be able to spend a good part of the day working on the novel. I should be able to catch up and maybe even get ahead. We'll see.

One really positive note, Tamara really likes the idea of the book and what I've written so far. It's the first time I've ever seen her interested in, much less excited about something I've written. So if SHE likes it, I might just have something.

Okay... on to sleep.. after a bit more reading of the "No Plot, No Problem" book.

NaNoWriMo - 4 - Day 1.5

Okay.. today wasn't a good day. I haven't felt good all day and I just want to go to bed. However, I did manage to get a few words done. I'm up to 1335 words. Tomorrow should be better.

In spite of my low word count today, I did manage to get some backend work done on the story. I have a much clearer idea of how the chapters will play out and how the duel will be constructed like a game of chess. Each writer will have to plan several moves ahead and anticipate what the other writer is doing, and try to determine what the other writer thinks he knows about

I also think I know who the main antagonists are-- I'll hold that back for now.

Okay... falling asleep at the keyboard. Be back tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

NaNoWriMo - 3 - First Report

Alrighty... it's 2am. I've got 930 words in my prologue. Not bad. I'll have to pick it up just a bit tomorrow night.

I've settled on a title for my story: Word War III. This is the third writing duel between these two writers. In the prologue, I opted to tell it first person from one of the writer's points of view. He's lost the previous two Word Wars, and vows to win this time.

My only quandary at this point is do I continue this first person view throughout the novel? Do I have this character comment on the other guys chapter, interspersing the commentary within the text of the chapter? Do I have him scour the text looking for clues as to what his opponent is intending and potential ways of countering him? Or do I just stay wholly within the narrative from this point on? Or do I have a mini-section at the beginning of each chapter as the POV character comments on what he's just read and ponders what he has to do when writing his next chapter? I kinda like that better. A bridge between each chapter. It might be fun to sprinkle in all sorts of external things happening to the POV character that are then reflected in the next chapter. There can be periods of panic as he struggles to write the next chapter. Periods where he feels he clearly has the upper hand. I like this. These bridges will have to be short so they don't break up the narrative flow of the story itself. With any luck or skill, I can turn this into a deep, multi-layered story with extra layers of meaning behind what happens on the page.

We'll see.

For now, it's sleep.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

NaNoWriMo - 2 - My Plan

Okay... so here's how I'm going to go about this. I've got my basic idea for the skeleton of the story, such as it is. Then each day I'm going to write another chapter (or two, depending on how I ultimately decide to structure it). I have no intention of fully plotting out the story, or even partially. As I type this, I intend to use my Idiot Box game cards to dictate what the next chapters will be about. That way, I have no pressure to have everything line up logically all the way to the end.

This will also allow me to approach this more like the writing exercise it is, rather than WRITING A NOVEL. It will be a fun, creative challenge every single day, and that's got me excited, rather than dreading it. Because I KNOW that if I'm given a few random elements that I can come up with an interesting story in no time at all.

So here's the premise:

The overall story is going to be the duel between two writers who have been co-writing a book. They have had some sort of falling out and have decided to sabotage the story. What they will do is each day, they will alternately write the next chapter of the novel, putting the main character in such a horrible situation that there's no way the other writer can extricate the character from it. This will constitute "winning" in the eyes of the writers.

The rest of the story will be the chapters as "written" by the two writers, told through the eyes of the main character, and with each chapter ending in a cliffhanger.

The ending will be determined, I'm guessing, by whatever themes, plot, and concepts that develop throughout the month.

As I type this right now, all I know is that the main character is named Bernie (as named by Ryan), he works as a car salesman (Ryan) in Lake Charles, Louisiana (Me). He's living a boring life, and something happens at the dealership to propel the rest of this story. I'm guessing there is a hold-up, or someone steals a car with him in it. Hey.. it's a test drive. That works.

One thing I think is that the tone of the two writers should be very different. They should have distinct enough 'voices' that the reader should be able to know who's writing the chapter just by how it sounds. But even still, the character has to be consistent regardless of which writer is at the wheel. I can kind of see one of them being more jokey while the other is more grim. That should provide a wide enough contrast.

At first I was going to make this a battle between the two writers, where they each attempt to sabotage the other's story, but I think it works better as a contest between the two. The first chapter can be the two of them setting up the ground rules for the contest, and the conditions for winning.

At this point, I'm unsure if I'm going to attempt to come back to the two writers during the story. I may not even come back to them at the end of the story. It would be nice to be able to make it work within the context of Bernie's story.

A potential title (and definitely a working title) just came to mind. Word War I.

One other idea I'm toying around with (actually, it just came to mind not ten seconds ago) is making this something like Betrayals in that each chapter is also a completely different style of story, such as newspaper article, blog entry, etc. That might make it more fun for me, but also more difficult, as in addition to coming up with the story, I'd also have to determine a style as well. Probably not, as that would make it more difficult to leave each chapter with a cliffhanger. Okay.. executive decision... same 'novel' style throughout.

Okay... just a little bit longer. I think I'll start a bit early on it.

Updates later.

NaNoWriMo - I'm Gonna Do It

So in three hours, at midnight, National Novel Writing Month begins. I think I've decided to participate. The members of the Barnes & Noble writers group I attend have been talking about it since the first meeting I attended, and until just a few hours ago, I had no intention of taking part. It's going to be a bear to get through.

The way it works is you have until November 30th to write a 50,000 word novel. That averages out to 1667 words per day. On Microsoft Word, that translates to about three full pages per day. Every day. If I miss a day, that means I have to write six pages the next day. It's a tall task.

But... I know I can easily write that much every day. I wrote my Camp David treatment in six hours (from scratch) and that was 6500 words and 13 pages. So 1700 words a day shouldn't give me too much trouble.

The good thing about this is that ultimately, what I write doesn't matter. The whole point of this contest is not to write the next great American novel, or even a passable novel. It's just to get all of the hundreds of thousands of would-be novelists to get off their butts and WRITE something. At the end of the month, you won't have a masterpiece, but you WILL be able to say "I'm a novelist". "I have written something."

While I know that I have several dozen different projects going at the same time, and work, and on and on, I think more than anything, I NEED something like this to get me going.

A short while ago, Ryan and I talked briefly about what my novel will be about. I have a neat idea for a story that really works well with something like this contest. So we'll see....

I'll check back in later.

Monday, February 13, 2006

[ blogarati bulletin ] Yet Another Blogger Fooled by Fake News Story

That's right, another blogger gets caught in the fake news web, this time, niche blogger, Corey Bond, author of a Simpsons cartoon blog. His earnestness about posting this blog is matched only by his apparent ability to cut and paste news articles with the best of them.

In this new era of Truthiness-awarenessness, this comes as yet another black mark against the liberal humor media's loose interest in the truth. Who knows how far and wide this continuation of the mistruthiness will extend? Will this indeed cause legitimate Allah-fearing terrorists to now add Mr. Bond to their fatwahs? And by extension, will that list also now include me? Is it okay to even type the word 'fatwah' anymore? I don't know.

But what I do know is that Corey Bond has been PUNK'D by Australia!

Click below for the link.

Crisis on Infinite Springfields: If I Can't Watch The Simpsons, the Terrorists Win

Sunday, February 12, 2006

[ movie review ] Dark Water aka "The movie that soured me to Japanese horror"

That's right. I've had enough. No more horror movies based on Japanese horror movies.

I'm not sure what's going on over in Japan, but apparently there is an alarming rate of child murders taking place, because it seems nearly every horror movie coming from over there is about a dead kid seeking revenge. I think Japanese Dateline needs to do some sort of expose on that or something.

Anyway, Dark Water, starring Jennifer Connelly, was the most suspense-free horror movie I've ever seen. While some may find that refreshing, I was bored. The acting is good, just judging based on its own merit, but the characters didn't have anything interesting to do.

The ads made it look like it was going to be some sort of Amityville Horror sort of movie, but all the scary-ish stuff from the trailer came from one dream sequence in the movie.

(spoiler alert!)

The dark water in question, is really just the result of a dead kid stuck in a building's spiritual plumbing. Yawn.

It was a mess, and I'm not talking about the icky water.

[ humor alert ] Filliam H. Muffman

I've enjoyed The Colbert Report immensely up until now, but this past Thursday, they finally took it over the top for me and made it something I'll have to watch every day, for fear of missing the next big funny thing. Case in point: Filliam H. Muffman.

The sketch was a rather innocuous little thing called "Stephen's Laws of Love", using celebrity couples idiosyncrasies as the basis for forming successful relationships. They brought the funny when they demonstrated that you have to have a great marketable name by combining your names. Examples used were Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, "Brangelina". Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, "Bennifer II". And William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman, "Filliam H. Muffman".

I died laughing, and it was the first time I saw Stephen Colbert lose it on the show. He barely made it through the segment. I can't think of the name without laughing, and I certainly still have a hard time saying it. Go ahead. Try it out. Let the name roll off your tongue.

I know I can't wait to follow along on the splendiferous adventures of Filliam H. Muffman.

Actually, I'll be curious to see if this gets picked up in real conversation. The people that write the news watch the Colbert Report, and I know I'D try to work the name in somewhere.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

[ tv review ] SNL Steve Martin (live review)

I'm going to try somethign a bit different. I'm going to comment on the show as it happens, skit by skit. Here's hoping that Steve Martin can save the show. I thought it was interesting that a few days ago, Lorne Michaels apparently released some sort of statement (or maybe it was in an interview) talking about how SNL is in a state of 'transition'. Translation: The show is going to be bad for a year or two until we get some funny people in here.

Anyway, on to the show.

Opening skit. Pretty good. Brought an air of importance to the festivities. Kelly Ripa made an interesting appearance. Alec Baldwin in it as well. Funny. Shot on 24p HD it looks like. Good start to the show.

Monologue. enh... it was okay. Viagra clock was kinda lame.

Commercial. Teddy Bear Holding A Heart. A little too obvious. Started off good, but didn't go anywhere you weren't expecting.

Pink Panther commercial. I'm realllly not looking forward to this.

Burger King dumping Gatorade on Don Shula. I love that commerical.

Gillette Fusion. Gillette continues to make these super hi-tech commercials. It's a razor. How exciting can a razor be?

Beniana commercial. I'd never seen that one before. Anime. Odd.

Oprah. Some sort of James Frey story. A skating book parody. It's Steve Martin. I'm thinking this is going to be really obvious. Probably lots of outrageous claims. "Oprah-tunity". That's amusing. Here come the obvious 'lies'. This isn't funny because the real thing was much more ridiculous. They should have gone with more of a direct James Frey parody skit. Hopefully it will end soon. It ended quickly. Good. That wasn't good, especially for a first skit.

Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford book. Funny premise. But how far will they take it? That was kinda okay.

Natalie Portman coming up in a few weeks. March 4th. Are they serious that it's going to be another month before a new episode? They've only had one new ep since Christmas. How can they have SO much time to work on this stuff and not come up with anything funny?

At least the skits haven't dragged on too long so far.

Hamas meets with Steve Martin. Steve Martin appparently has agreed to be a speaker at the Hamas victory party. That was over quick. Almost funny.

SNL Digital Short. Steve is in it. Two guys almost kissing, but just talking. It's uncomfortable, but funny. Enh.... it was okay.

Quick Zoom Theater. This is a one joke skit. Not getting any funnier. A no-zoom at the end. Don't know if that was on purpose, or an accident. I think it can go either way with the way the show has been lately.

New iPod commercial. Jazzy. Looks neat.

Caramel Reeses. "You got your caramel on my Reeses." Amusing.

Apparently Prince is coming on next. Will it be something new? Or something classic? And will be be good either way?

New song. It's not bad.. but it's not something I think I would want to hear again. Something about No fury like a woman scorned. I'm guessing that's the title. Prince is still prince, and he's managed to pull himself out of obscurity, but he's now just another aging rocker. He did do a cool helicoptery-sounding thing with his guitar as left it on the stage.

Bud Light Daredevil commercial. I haven't thought this was funny.

Doom DVD. Ryan and I saw this at the theater. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't something I'd ever want to see ever ever again.

Will and Grace. I'm more glad than ever that I've never watched even half an episode.

Some sort of special news sweeps story about young girls meeting older guys through the internet, through something they like. I'm guessing it's going to be about

Weekend Update.
-state of the union. enh.
-mangaroo. enh.
-parent-terrorist conference. enh.
-brownback mountain jokes. enh.
-alito. abortion, hop to it, amy. enh.
-greenspan retires. enh.
-african american memorial. large black monument. Amusing.
-kate moss. flew without airplane. amusing.
-barbie. enh.
-congressional black-eyed peas. baamp.
-James frey - should be classified as diet book.
-Britney spears on Will and Grace. Kevin Federline janitor. enh.
-HSBBall girl breaks record. playing knicks. enh.

At least it ended quick. Wow, that was the shortes weekend update, maybe EVER. No special guests. No special segment. Nothing.

Firewall. Looks like another Harrison Ford generic action thriller. I'll pass.

Looks like some sort of superbowl skit coming up.

Mcdonalds commerical for fifty nuggets looked cool. Reminded me of the Hitchikers Guide graphics (I just finished watching the DVD, so I have it on the brain)

Superbowl. Aaron Neville singing national anthem. And Aretha Franklin. They are both singing about being hungry. Dr. John. Horatio Sans does a good Aaron Neville, but it's going a bit obvious and too long. Yawn. It's over. Good.

Final Destination 3 commerical. Haven't seen the other two yet, so I doubt I'm going to see this one. Interesting that they are releasing it right before Valentines Day. It's like horror movies are deliberately targeting all major holidatys to open.

Venus de Milo beer commerical. Amusing.

So far, the only good parts of the show were the pre-recorded segments.

Steve wants to renegotiate his contract during the show. Lorne gets 12 million per show. Steve has to make a choice. HA! Alec Baldwin is back, and there's Jimmy Fallon. "I want pie." That was okay.

It's Fred Armeson doing the Prince show. I've heard about this skit, but have never seen it. Pretty good impression. Beyonce is also there. Steve Martin is personal chef. Will the real Prince make an actual appearance in this skit? I have a feeling that when they cut away and cut back that the real prince will be in the chair. Drew Barrymore. Very good impression. Mirror of reflection. You'd think that's where they'd bring him in.. like in the Mick Jagger skit. They keep cutting away. He sure does sound like him. Nope.. no real Prince. I can't believe they didn't go for it. Oh well. The skit was almost amusing.

Gillette Fusion again. I'm guessing five blades.

Brian Wilson 3000. State of the Galaxy address. Chris Matthews hologram. Not looking good for this skit. Darrell Hammond and Seth Myers first appearances tonight. "We're very close to capturing Osama Bin Laden." Hey.. it's a Rachel Dratch sighting. Bad skit.

SNL digital short. A SECOND one... hmm... Fred Armeson won't stop talking. Scarlett Johansen. TRL. NBC news. Conan Obrien. That was amusing! Not bad. It was a coherent story with a beginning, middle and end. Lots of guest stars. It reminded me of a Saturday TV Funhouse skit.

Surfing. Steve Martin's character doesn't fit in with the other surfers. But the joke is going to be it's someone besides Steve. Okay. It is Steve. Yawwn.... I didn't have to waste any energy even thinking about chuckling.

Nissan Murano commercial is really neat looking. Neato.

Why DQ commercials at 11:45? They're not open even if I wanted to go get a steak finger basket.

Prince apparently has a new female protege. One of the backup singer-dancers from earlier is now singing. Prince is playing guitar and singing backup. It's apprently a duet. My bad. This song isn't that bad. It might sound a lot better in recorded form rather than live. She looks like a young Angela Basset crossed with Beyonce. Song might be called "Beautiful".

Cici's Pizza. Making it look like a sitcom. kind of amusing.

New Orleans Mardi Gras commercial. Sounds really desperate. And what they AREN'T saying is significant.

IBC Bee banking. Amusing that it's airing during an SNL.

Okay... the last chance for laughter.

Naturally Crafting. Rachel Dratch. It's steve, with a ponytail. Steve screwed up his line. Wow.. that was lame.

And... it's over. whew.

So not even Steve Martin can rescue the show.

[ tv review ] Justice League 5.08 The Great Brain Robbery

"Am.. YOU... Bizarro's mommy?"

I've watched the scene with this quote about twenty times now, and I've laughed each time. Brilliant. The rest of this episode was pretty good, as well, but this one scene is an all-time classic.

I won't spoil it for any of you that haven't seen it yet (which is almost all of North America), but in a nutshell, through a bit of convenient mind-transference silliness, Luthor and Flash switch bodies. The Justice League is immediately aware of Luthor-in-Flash, and spend the rest of the episode trying to contain him (and in the process, finding out just how powerful Flash could be if he utilized his powers in a different way), while the Legion of Doom is unaware that Flash is now in posession of Luthor's body. Hilarity ensues as Flash tries to pass himself off as evil. (It really is funny.)

But what works best is the aforementioned scene containing Bizarro's classic quote. And he says it with such sincere longing. Your heart will break for Bizarro. For anyone that loved the Cartoon Network short featuring the old Legion of Doom arguing about mundane stuff ("Solomon Grundy want pants too!"), you'll really appreciate this. (I just watched it again... laughed again.)

I believe this episode is scheduled to run on Cartoon Network sometime in March, so set your DVRs, kids!

(guess what? I watched the scene again. Yep. Laughing.)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

[ humor alert ] That Wasn't Chicken

This is funny because a few years ago, I printed out a whole page of fake fortunes (about fifty) that I would swap out whenever I would go to a Chinese Restaurant with someone. While everyone was cracking open their cookie, I would nonchalantly get a fake one out of my wallet and make the switch under the table. No one ever noticed.

I had specific ones made for just about anyone that I thought I might ever have lunch with, and it was always good for a laugh.

Anyway, "That wasn't chicken" was one of the ones I printed out multiple times. And lo and behold, someone else thought of the same thing.

And now you know...

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

[ movie news ] Academy Awards© snub Star Wars (again)

Well, the Star Wars prequels were never in any danger of winning any major Oscars, but how on earth does Revenge of the Sith not even get nominated for visual effects? What more are they wanting?

And as a special bonus for all of you reading this, here is something from the extreme opposite end of the Star Wars visual effects quality spectrum:

Monday, January 30, 2006

[ humor alert ] "Lost" pictures

I found this amusing blog while noodling around on The Fuselage, "Lost's" officially sanctioned message board. The first picture in this series (Hurley's head on a mutant body-builder's body) isn't that clever, but about five or ten down, you start getting some really wacky, amusing pics like the one shown here.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

[ new vocabulary ] plaus

This is part of an ongoing project to discover words you may not know existed. In fact, these are words the Oxford Dictionary probably doesn't know exist. But they are valid additions to the human language and should become part of your everyday vocabulary.

(note: These are NOT Sniglets ©)

The first word in the New Vocabulary is 'plaus'.

plaus (plôz)


the state of being possible, believable or valid.


"Do you really think Cindy would go out on a date with me?"

"Hmmm... that has plaus."

You would use this word to describe anything that could reasonably be expected to come to pass. If something is 'plausible', then it has plaus. If it is 'implausible', then it very likely has no plaus.

You can replace the phrase "I can definitely see that happening." with "I think that has definite plaus."

Plaus is the only noun that quantifies the amount of believability something has. Something can either have lots of plaus, or none at all.

Well, there you have the first word in the New Vocabulary. Enjoy it. Use it. Take it out in the world and discover for yourself how much plaus everything has!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

[ tv review ] The Office Episode 215: "Carpet"

The American version of The Office took a little while to grow on me. Even though I hadn't seen the original British version yet when the American version premiered last spring, I went into it with a negative attitude, since other recent British imports/remakes like "Coupling" were so universally panned. I was thinking this was going to be just another in the chain.

But still, I gave it a shot. However, I wasn't impressed. It seemed to be trying too hard to be funny. It seemed like it was a bad American remake of a very British show. So I stopped watching.

Over the summer, I finally managed to track down the British version of The Office just because I heard nothing but raves about it. I was instantly a convert to the show and it immediately moved into my top five all-time comedies. Brilliant stuff. It was easy to see why they were so eager to attempt to make an American version of it.

Fast forward to the fall season and after deciding to give "My Name is Earl" a chance, we decided to also resample "The Office" (the whole family this time, not just me). I was pleasantly surprised at how The Office seemed to have found its own voice, distinct from the original British Office. They were no longer attempting to do American versions of the British episodes.

So the months have passed, and we are now on episode 15 of season 2 of the office (hence the nifty numerical episode nomenclature). The power hour of My Name is Earl, and The Office has become Must-See-TV. The characters (on both shows, actually, but this is an Office review) have completely developed their own unique places in the comedy pantheon and I no longer even subconsciously compare this show to the original British show. This show now stands on its own.

Tonight's episode was called "Carpet" and that basically was the driving force behind most of the episode. Someone soiled Michael's (Steve Carell's idiot boss character) carpet, forcing him to spend the day sitting among his employees as they replaced his carpet. Nothing ground-breaking about the episode-- solid jokes, excruciating Michael moments, etc. But what made this episode so memorable was the last minute or so, as the main nice-guy character, Jim,
checked his office voicemail at the day. Probably one of the sweetest moments in any episode of a TV show I've seen in a long long time. I won't spoil it any further, but it was a highlight of the series so far.

If you're not watching The Office, then what are you watching?? This is the best non-Arrested Development sitcom on TV right now.

And for those of you that are fans of both the American version of the show and the British version of the show, here's a neat website that acts as both an extensive resource for both shows while comparing and contrasting them. Neat stuff.


Click to go to "The Office vs The Office"

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

[ humor alert ] Onion article - Nation's Snowmen March Against Global Warming

Every two or three weeks, the Onion comes up with a classic.

Click to experience angry snowmen marching on Washington.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

[ tv review ] SNL - Peter Sarsgaard guest hosting or... why do I keep watching this show?

Why do I make it a point to watch a show that I know I'm going to hate? Or at best, be supremely disappointed in?

Every week, I make sure to record Saturday Night Live, and I always eagerly watch it the first chance I get. I record it on DVR, and then edit out the parts I didn't like, leaving a shortened version of the show that I later burn to a DVD.

This season, I don't think I've even filled half a DVD yet with stuff worthy of watching ever again. If there's anything that's generally guaranteed to make it to the DVD, it's the fake commercial they usually do. But even that's only about a minute long at most.

But this season has been abnormally abysmal. It's been said often in the past, but this year I think it truly does apply- -

This is the WORST season of SNL ever.

This past week's episode was the worst of the worst. Peter Sarsgaard is a "who is that guy again?" level of movie star, and he didn't help himself with his performance on the show. In nearly every sketch, he stumbled over numerous words, often causing me to lose entirely what the point of the sketch was supposed to be about. What's worse is that more than most hosts, he was STARING at the cue cards, making his constant flubs all the worse.

The best/worst part was a skit where he was watching a TV newscast featuring one of the other cast members, meaning that the newscast was being shot live on another set with the image being fed into the TV monitor. So halfway through the skit Sarsgaard accidentally bumps the TV causing the image to disappear, but we could still hear the newscast going on from the next set. They had to cut to an emergency camera angle were we couldn't see the TV, and that would be intercut with a direct feed from the 'newscast'. The highlight of all of this is when on the bottom of the screen you could see crew members scrambling to figure out why the TV wasn't working anymore. They got it kinda fixed in time for the last thirty seconds or so of the skit, but by then it was too late.

Yes, it's a LIVE show, but this is par for the course this season. Every episode has some major technical screw-ups that I don't recall the show ever having this bad before.

In spite of this, I can't stop watching the show (Steve Martin hosts next week!! With Prince as musical guest!! Surely THIS episode will be a classic! hint: no it won't)

Why do I keep on watching? Because every once in a while they DO have a classic skit. Something that redeems the whole show... for at least another episode.

Case in point, the one good thing from last week's show was the fake commercial for "Baby Toupee's." Brilliant. The cure for 'male infantile baldness'. If I don't find it online somewhere, I'll post it for all to see.

They TRIED to capture lightning in a bottle for a second time with their latest "SNL Digital Short", but it didn't have the magic this time. As many of you have seen by now, SNL garnered a lot of buzz last month due to their "Lazy Sunday" digital short film, otherwise known as "The Chronicles of Narnia Rap". This was a brilliant little short film that was perfect for the moment in time it premiered.

This week the digital short was another musical parody, this time of a typical 80's power metal rock song, called "Young Chuck Norris". It was amusing, but not nearly the cultural event that "Lazy Sunday" was. (It didn't make it to my SNL highlight DVD).

So for now, I'll keep eagerly watching (and fast-forwarding through) every new episode of Saturday Night Live. When it gets it right, it gets it really right. And one classic skit outweighs the other 85 minutes of crap.

[ tv review ] "24" The best show I might refuse to watch.

Even though I just stated watching this show, and even though I enjoy it immensely, I think I'm going to stop watching.

So we're two weeks and five episodes into season five of "24". I had never watched an episode of the show, always intending to get a DVD set and watch it from the beginning. That was three years ago after season one. That stretched into two seasons and three and finally four seasons (how poetic).

That's nearly a hundred hours and counting. Like I'm ever going to be able to watch all of that. But the storyline for this upcoming season intrigued me more than any of the other previous seasons and seemed like it might be a good jumping on point, withOUT having to watch the other four seasons.

Basically, at the end of last season, for whatever reason, it doesn't really matter, Kiefer Sutherland's character, Jack Bauer, faked his own death and went into exile in the deserts of Tatooine. It might have been somewhere in California. Point is, he was basically starting over and that seemed like a great place for me to start.

And I was right.

"24" is great goofy fun. It's like watching a James Bond movie with a more substantial plot and more believable characters.

Anyway, from the first moment, I knew I was going to like it. I fortunately was able to watch the season premiere with a friend of mine who is a 24 junkie, and I was able to pause the DVR extensively throughout the show to ask questions and get caught up.

Though five episodes, I thoroughly enjoy it.

So why am I thinking of stopping watching it? (man, that doesn't look gramatarically correct)

It's because I think this show will truly be amazing in one condensed marathon viewing session.

The first four episodes were aired in two two-hour blocks on back to back nights. That made it really easy to get into the plot, characters and tone of the show. But then it was a week until the next episode.. and I find that I have forgotten many of the finer details of the show, like all the names of the supporting characters, etc. And it's going to be another week until the next episode.

Unlike my previous threats of watching the season sets of 24, I know I actually will follow through on it this time. I'm hooked.

The only thing is, can I actually NOT know something about a TV show that I'm interested in? Can I not spoil myself with the details of the show before I get a chance to sit down and watch it? Will my friend and my brothers who are rabid fans of the show tell me things I wish I didn't know? CAN I wait? Especially since I know that waiting will make a greater viewing experience.

Unlike a show like LOST that invites conjecture and theories about the mysteries of the show, "24" has more of a straightforward spy/terrorism plot. The rest of the season will just be about finding out WHO is behind the crisis. As much as I like "24", I don't see myself sitting around thinking about it or trying to solve the mystery in my head.

It's quite a dilemma. Can I turn off the TV and NOT watch a show that I like.

Stay tuned. (or not)

[ tv spoiler ] Leaked script segment from upcoming episode of LOST

For those of you that watch Lost, you're well aware of the impending war set to take place on Craphole Island. The following script segment was sent to me by someone I have on the inside.
The following is a more or less verbatim transcript from the upcoming episode right as the Lostaways are preparing for imminent battle.

Okay... I know I don't have to tell any of you just how dangerous this is going to be. If any of you choose to back out, we won't hold it against you.

[Jack glances over at a Lostaway we haven't met before wearing a bright red shirt. This is Gus. Gus nods grimly, but firmly. He's in. With a softer expression, Jack's gaze moves over to Rose, who's brandishing a rifle. She pats her gun, and then pats the large knife strapped to her leg under her comfortable slacks. She's ready.]

Alright. So here's what we're up against. These are the Others. We call them that because, well, because they're not US. And if you're not with us, you're against us.

Unnamed male Lostaway
How will we know it's one of the Others, and not just someone we don't know really well. I mean, until today, I'd never seen that guy over there. [points at Gus].

Unnamed female Lostaway
Yeah... [pointing at an older man wearing a red parka]... that guy's an Eskimo. We've been on this island nearly two months, and I didn't know we had an Eskimo living with us.

You mean Metek? You didn't know about Metek? He wasn't on the plane. He was tracking a polar bear in Alaska or somewhere and ended up here and says now he can't get back.

[Metek nods solemnly and begins gesturing animatedly with his handmade spear and speaking pointedly in his Eskimo language. It's not revealed what he says, but his meaning is clear. He wants to get back at the Others]

Okay, quiet down Santa. You'll get your crack at them... [under his breath] but not until after I've had a little chat with ole Zeke...

There is an easy way to distinguish the Others with a capital O from the others with a lower case O. The Others will be dramatically lit from below, making them look more evil.

What about Ethan? He wasn't lit from below...

Ethan was a spy, and had his lighting adjusted accordingly.

[while leaning over Aaron and putting camo face paint on his face and body.]
What do we do if we see something we've never seen before or meet someone that might be able to help us? Should we ask them some questions?

Questions? What do you mean?

The time for questions is conveniently past us. Now is the time for action.

Okay, now Mr. Eko is going to let us in on some special intelligence he's acquired from his time on the other side of the island. Mr. Eko?

Thank you. I killed some Others with my bare hands. I'd rather not talk about it. Thank you. [sits down]

Okay, there are two special Others that you need to be especially wary of. One of them is apparently carrying a teddy bear and is considered highly dangerous. Shoot to kill, repeat, SHOOT TO KILL. The other Other is a more terrifying prospect. It can apparently change size at will, especially if it senses danger. Do not engage in combat with this Other without backup support.

What do we do with the prisoners, brutha?

That's kind of a silly question, isn't it?

Prisoners? This is WAR. There won't be any prisoners. Prisoners lead to questions. And questions lead to answers. And that's the last thing we want. Now you all have your assignments. Good luck.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

[ comic review ] - All Star Superman #2

What's wrong with comics today? Why aren't they fun anymore? Even though they are more 'real' than they've ever been, they don't evoke any joy.

Granted, there are exceptions, but for the most part, mainstream comics from DC and Marvel aren't fun. It's been such a gradual process, my becoming more cynical, and comics becoming more 'realistic', that I don't even know when the magic went away.

Lest anyone think that this is a negative review, I'm here to say that All Star Superman has more magic and more fun in just its first two issues than the last twenty years of mainstream comics combined.

Its one of those things you don't realize has changed until you rediscover it years and years later. Remember when you found your old Boba Fett action figure from the 70's? Remember how cool it was? It's like that. Except that its comics.

As any of you that follow comics are aware, Marvel comics a few years ago began an imprint called the Ultimate Universe, where they take much beloved Marvel characters like Spider-man and the X-men, and completely recreate them from scratch, in a universe unconnected to any other Marvel comics, and untied to any of the previous decades of Marvel continuity. From all accounts, it's been highly successful, both from a financial standpoint, and from the standpoint of creating a comic where new readers can climb on board and not feel too overwhelmed or lost.

Not to be outdone, DC Comics recently began its own non-continuity, all-ages imprint in the hope that it will attract new (or old) readers who might be put off by having to wade through decades of DC universe continuity. This imprint is called the All Star line, and so far has two comics in its stable; Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, and now Superman.

This isn't a review of All Star Batman, but I will say that it's one of the saddest comic book failures I've ever come across, and almost soured me to the whole All Star comic line. Thankfully I read a short preview of All Star Superman online and was intrugued enough to give it a try, and I'm glad I did.

All Star Superman, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, exists in a universe that somehow manages to restore all of the goofy stuff from the golden and silver ages of comics while putting a modern spin on it. Like "Kurt Busiek's Astro City", there's no deconstruction of comics, or knowing winks to the reader. It's pure, unironic celebration of all that is fun about comic books. If this comparison means anything to you, imagine what it would be like if Superman moved to the world Astro City. It's just like that.

All Star Superman begins in the middle of Superman's story. He's already been Superman for years, he's already had hundreds of adventures, etc. The history of this Superman is both familiar and unknown, and the fun is discovering those details along the way.

The plot is nothing you haven't seen before. The overplot for this first arc is that Superman flew near the sun and absorbed way more 'yellow sun radiation' into his cells than normal, causing him to gain new powers, and increase the ones he already has. This second issue of the comic has Superman revealing his secret identity to Lois Lane and taking her to the Fortress of Solitude.

In true classic Superman/Lois Lane style, she doesn't believe him and actually suspects more sinister motives, and embarks on an issue-long quest to figure out what is going on. It's an incredible synthesis of modern storytelling crossed with golden age sensibilities and style.

Along the way, we are introduced to other classically-inspired bits of joy, like the Time Telescpe (everything has a dramatic name that seeps with history) that allows Superman to communicate with his successors throughout time (some nearly a million years into the future). The Key to the Fortress of Solitude is normal-sized, but it's made from super-dense material meaning noone but him can lift it. He just leaves it right in front of the door.

It's goofy touches like that that make All Star Superman such a delight.

What's more amazing is that I haven't read a Superman comic in nearly twenty years. The last one I read was "Man of Steel", John Byrne's reboot of Superman in the late 80's. Outside of Doom 'killing' Superman a decade or so ago, I have no idea what's going on in the current Superman world (is there still a giant key needed to get in the Fortress of Solitude? For that matter, is there even still a Fortress of Solitude?)

And moreso, it somehow manages to effectively blend in the feel of the Christopher Reeve Superman movies (the good ones, I mean). Just like Astro City mixes together familiar characters and stories from every corner of comic book history to create something new and unique, so too does All Star Superman mix the mythologies of several distinct versions of Superman to create something that evokes all of them.

I can't recommend it highly enough.