Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Serenity. I Saw It, And I Still Say See It

Thank you for responding. You are on the list for the 7:30 PM show on Tuesday. Go to the front and ask for a press pass.


So I email them a day or two later, when I still had no email from them. And emailed Big G, asking if he knew if I should be getting some email instructions.


An email arrives, with specific instructions. I am confirmed and on the list.


Another email arrives, in response to the one I sent. This email says thanks for your interest, but we're all full.


I write back, informing them I got the instructions in the meantime after all.


A third person writes back, saying I'm on the list, but not guaranteed a seat. I could make the trip to the theater (close to an hour), but I might be turned away. This email is cc'd to Big G, who in a fit of divine intervention, has apparently forwarded what I wrote to him, to them. It's up to me, third guy says, if I want to take that risk.


So Miss Tori and I are in the car heading up to the theater from Bunktown. Third guy had reiterated that I should get there at least 45 minutes early. Who knows how traffic will go, so we end up being a little more than an hour early. The Brownshirts are there. This is a fan club with a big block of tickets for their members, and another lady named Dianne, possibly, so let's stick with Dianne. She fetches the Universal rep, whom I've been instructed to contact, and he arrives. Sure enough, I'm on the list. The guy has a number of tickets, maybe ten or fifteen, extras apart from the ones for the bloggers who have been guaranteed tickets, cause they're faster and I suck. He peels off two, Dianne asks us to follow her, and we're in the lobby.

It's been years, but in the past I had been to this theater dozens of times, so I'm a little concerned when i see the line in the lobby. You see, the particular theater we're going to is way down at the end of the building. This is one long line. And I say to Dianne, "so that's the line huh?" Oh, I love it when a plan comes together. Dianne says that is the line, but we won't be waiting for it. She escorts us down the line, past all these people, and into the theater. There's like only twenty people in there, about half of whom are local radio people, comic book store owners, and Universal people in charge of the assorted promotions that got all these people here to see the movie. I can taste the sweet justice. Or maybe it was the Snickers Popables I got at the snack bar. Either way, it rocked.

We saw the preview for Doom. Not too impressive. Maybe it will be all right, but any movie derived from a video game leaves me with a huge negative bias. That was the only preview. At this point, I should tell you that I watched the series when it was on the air, but don't have the DVD's with the extra unaired episodes. Nor did I read the comics that served as a bridge between the series and the movie. So I came in with a familiarity with the crew of the space ship Serenity and some of the major plot points of the series (small fry former rebels on the run from the big megacorp type government, the weird girl who is a mystery, the strange race of zombiefied bad guys that swoop in from time to time out of nowhere), but not much else.

You can imagine that the movie begins with some introductory scenes that help establish the characters. I learned a few details about some of them that I either had forgotten, or perhaps hadn't been visited fully when the series was cancelled. I wasn't bored during the catch everyone up on who these people are scenes, is what I mean. You may recall that Miss Tori, when I mentioned this movie to her, asked if it was the one with Joey, because the guy playing the captain also played some guy Joey on One Life To Live in the 1990's. Her comment: "At the beginning, Joey seemed so mean!" He redeemed herself in her eyes by the end of the movie. I asked her if, as a person who had never seen or even heard of the show, the movie was clear and easy to follow, or if it seemed directed to fans, leaving new audiences in the dark a little. Nope, very accessible even to a complete newcomer.

But is it so much better for a fan of the original series? Tough question. I know that for a while, it seemed a little slow. I didn't mind it, but I worried about word of mouth. Would action hungry, limited attention span audience members pan the movie for not being wall to wall explosions? The steady pace paid off, because the movie began a slow rise to extreme action that was more effective due to the earlier quiet. We had a really good chance to get to know the characters and become invested in them. The other possible problem with the first fifteen minutes or so was that a few laugh lines seemed old and tired from seeing them in the previews. I worried for a moment if all the good stuff had been in the previews already. Other people laughed, but the gags were flat for me. Having seen the whole thing, I feel comfortable saying they got rid of the preview gags early, and I laughed out loud several times elsewhere in the movie, and the whole audience roared with laughter.

One concern with a TV show becoming a movie is whether or not it was worth it. Is it just another TV episode that happens to be on a bigger screen? I was not disappointed with the plot. I enjoyed the big plot point and the revelations about the origins of some key characters. I especially enjoyed the bad guy. He not only knows that what he does is evil, he freely admits it. And he admits that because of his evil, he has no place in the society he is serving. But his belief in that society, and the necessity of his work, gives him full motivation with no qualms about the things he does. Maybe he personifies the notion of the ends justifying the means

Belief is a key theme in the movie. There are things worth believing in. There are things worth fighting for. There are even things worth dying for. But a life without belief is not worth living.

There is violence in the movie, but it is carefully edited so that more is suggested than actually seen, and gore is very minimal. You don't have to worry about sex or language. I'm not getting anywhere close to spoilers, cause there are a few shocks, but this was a very satisfying experience that can be enjoyed by old fans and new audiences alike. I was not disappointed in any way with this movie. Oh, except that the theme song from the series never got played, unless it came very late in the closing credits after we had left. I really wanted to hear that song again. If you go to this movie, you might find yourself wanting to see it again as well.


A copuple of tidbits from Dianne. First, the series is unlikely to ever come back with new episodes on TV. Contracts and rights are involved that will prevent new TV episodes for ten or twelve years. Second, Universal needs at least $80 million to consider a sequel. While there are die hard fans, and there are sure to be new fans who see the movie and want more, $80 million is the number they're looking for before they will even consider another Serenity film.


Full Disclosure: As you saw at the top, I got in thanks to a few very kind people. I got in for free. The exchange was to write about it here on this blog. Having said that, I'll also say that the review above is genuine, and my opinions of the film expressed above weren't influenced by the free tickets. Having said that, I'd also like to say thanks to Ted, Dianne, and the others who ran the promotion, and to the Big G for whatever part he played in all of this. Hey, I just realized I was compensated for something I wrote. It wasn't exactly money, but it's still pretty sweet. Almost makes me a professional, which is certainly something no one reading this blog would ever expect.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Firefly = Serenity = See This Movie!

This past summer, when Arrested Development faced cancellation, there was a big internet drive to keep the show on the air, the Get Arrested campaign. It was a massive success, and one of the best shows on the air was saved. You can watch it Monday's at 8PM on Fox.

Unfortunately, Firefly, another Fox show, was not saved, and a great series came to an end. But your chance for redemption has arrived. This is one of the shows from the past that you actually wanted to see on the big screen, and September 30th, your prayers will be answered. In movie form, Firefly has become Serenity. For the unfamiliar, here's a little intro they've prepared for you:

Joss Whedon, the Oscar® - and Emmy - nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family –squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.

If you were a fan of the show, you will be there. If you never saw the show, go see this movie. Then go buy the DVD's and see the show you never saw but should have. Who knows? Maybe it will come back as a series. It may be just a pie in the sky dream, but as the song says, "You can't take the sky from me."

But I'm no singer. Here's the Firefly theme song for you; I'd love to hear it again:

Theme from Firefly

Take my love.
Take my land.
Take me where I cannot stand.
I don’t care, I’m still free.
You can’t take the sky from me.

Take me out
to the black.
Tell ‘em I ain’t comin’ back.
Burn the land and boil the sea.
You can’t take the sky from me.

Have no place
I can be
Since I found Serenity.
But you can’t take the sky from me.

Words & Music by Joss Whedon
Performed by Sonny Rhodes.

TV, movies, and music. The guy's some kind of genius. Here's a couple of pics as well. I like to call the first one "You'll take my Serenity when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers."

When I was trying to describe this movie to Miss Tori, based on the trailer we saw a while back, she didn't connect to any of the space stuff, the action, the adventure. No, her connection was "Oh! You mean the one with Joey????" No, not the Joey from Friends, which was what I was thinking when I told her it's not him. She means the Joey from some soap opera, One Life To Live, I think. Sheesh! But yes, it's him, playing the captain of the ship Serenity. He's made the leap from soap opera to space opera, and he's on the right in this next pic.

And since we're big on full disclosure in the blogosphere, I should tell you that I have a chance to see an early screening on Tuesday. Said chance is partly contingent on mentioning the movie here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Team Magnum Rises From The Ashes

And Princess Wolfie pays a visit from her new office. Coming soon.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


The War At Home Bad - Arrested Development Good

Most of the reviews I've done have been positive, but here's a negative one for you. Sundays on Fox at 8:30 there is a show called The War At Home. It is not a great show. It is not a good show. Well, it's good at being offensive and insulting to anyone who actually watches it.

What's it about? Well if you've seen more than three sitcoms, you'll know exactly what I mean when I say it's a Stupid Dad show. Dad is some kind of knucklehead lucky to have found a woman who'll put up with him. See, we've got the dad and mom, we'll just call them Jason and Maggie, and three kids we could call Mike and Carol and Ben. No, wait . . . I refuse to slander a show I actually enjoyed in my youth by comparing this current piece of crap to it.

But at least the script is original. See, cause the dad had an IM with some total stranger lady from another state, discussing some sex type stuff of the cyber sort, and the mom has been carrying on an email correspondence with an ex-boyfriend discussing not sex issues but emotional issues. They never had IM's or emails on Growing Pains! See how original? Yeah, like no one's ever seen a sitcom with some mistaken notion about one or the other person having the affair but the other person is up to something shady too and isn't it nice how it all works out in the end? I mean, Ross got screwed, literally, and figuratively, when he and Rachel were on a break; he was innocent of any wrongdoing, but it was still a long time before he got any Rachel poonanny again. But everything works out perfectly for mom and dad.

They've also been running with the son presumed gay schtick, a typical wacky misunderstanding situation. The boy dressed in mom's clothes so he could get away with taking her car for a joyride. See, people would think he was his mom. Pretty clever, right? Except for the parents thinking he must be gay. Even when he tells them the truth (honesty is the best policy, he is advised by his obvious to us but hidden form anyone on the show itself gay buddy), they give him the old it's ok we still love you even if you're gay bit. It's not until the traffic cam sends them a ticket in which they can see the son driving in mom's dress that they actually believe him. And of course dad is, you guessed it, relieved! His son is no sissy. But you see, it's all original cause they threw in a traffic cam!

Look, someone might have said something about how there are no new stories to be told, that everything is going to be something you've seen somewhere, in some form. There might have even been a South Park episode that was all about how the Simpsons had already done every idea. But at least you can do it good. They say a good actor can read the phone book and make it compelling. Maybe good writers could make these retread plots funny.

It's not just the modern tech references that make this show so insulting. They also do one of those concept things. You know, a character appears on an all white set and talks directly to the audience. I mean please. What's next, is the guy from the Wonder Years going to start doing voice-overs? I call them the "you're too stupid to understand, so we're going to stop all action on the show and explain it to you nice and slow, and we'll do it on a blank empty set so you won't even be distracted by the couch or the family photos on the wall of the stairway just like you've seen in every other show since the beginning of television" take. Yeah, I'm still working on a way to shorten that down.

I don't even know if Woody Allen could make this show work. But speaking of Woody:

Do you realize how immoral this all is?

Max, I've got a hit series.

Yeah, I know; but you're adding fake

You all probably know that's from Annie Hall, in a scene where Woody Allen is watching a laugh track being added to an unfunny show. I could take or leave Annie Hall. It's ok, has funny moments, but for me not a classic. And yet, this movie could wipe its ass with The War At Home, except that would be an insult to actual toilet paper.

The insult to the audience is that this show has a laugh track. The injury this show adds is that even the laugh track sucks. Shouldn't they be trying to make the laughs at least sound like they might have come from an actual audience? Actually watching this show? It always sounds like a bad dub. I could probably take a simple tape recorder, record off the TV the canned laughs they use on The War At Home, and add them to an actual funny show with no laugh track and no audience, like say Arrested Development, and make it sound better than some guy with actual training who is getting paid to do it.

Do yourself a favor. Never watch The War At Home. In that half hour between Simpsons and Family Guy, I catch up on Fellowship of the Ring so I'm up to speed for the next chapter discussion at Tolkien Geek. And for a high quality comedy, you should check out Arrested Development at its new time, 8:00pm Mondays on Fox.

Friday, September 16, 2005


Oh My God, No Survivor Recap! You Bastard!

So after I went to all that effort to pump up Jeff's Survivor recaps from past years, and express my anticipation for recaps of Survivor: Guatemala, he's not doing it. He has nothing else to say on the subject, apparently. Although I'm not really sure I buy that. There are perhaps two components to Survivor: the structure, and what I might call the personality saga. With someone voted off every week, and everyone else working not to be the next one voted off, the personality saga has all sorts of ups and downs. The variety is endless. There's always something more to say, because it's always different.

On the other hand, you have the structure, which doesn't change: a couple of challenges and a vote. I can see how that might get tiresome. But Jeff was writing about the personalities. I don't know. I call BS on having nothing else to say. More like he doesn't feel like it. Which is perfectly fine. He doesn't owe us anything. I'll miss reading it, definitely. But who am I to tell him what he must and must not write? If I want Survivor recaps so bad, why don't I write them myself?

So I'm sorry to get your hopes up, but don't let that stop you from stopping by Jeff's blog; there's plenty of other good content on his site.


So I just got done watching the premiere of this new show called Threshold, on CBS. Pretty freaky and pretty good. I will definitely be back for more. The CBS site for the show is here. You go look now!

And check out the show next Friday at 9PM for most of you, or 8PM if you live near me. I'll think you'll enjoy it as well. Some ads for the show have mentioned critics saying it's the best show if this type since the X-Files. It does have aliens. Their purpose is unclear. It appears they have somehow infected, or at least affected, some as yet undetermined percentage of our population. By the end of the premiere, we as audience members have an idea that many more are affected than the Red Team realizes at this point. Lots of sciency type stuff, techy type stuff, hidden messages, DNA manipulation. I'm certainly not qualified to tell you if the science fiction is reality based sci-fi, or made up from whole cloth, but the show does keep you guessing.

Charles S. Dutton is also on the show as Deputy National Security Advisor. But on this show, the government isn't hiding the truth from the Red Team investigators. Instead, Dutton's task is to get the Red Team the resources they need, while keeping their existense, and the presence of the aliens, a secret from the rest of the government, the public, and even the President. Which is a nice change of pace, having the conspiracy work in favor of the heroes for a change.

In X-Files, the alien stuff happened in the "mythology" episodes, single episodes or two-parters that advanced the aliens storyline, interspersed with the other creepy or weird, yet non-alien related, episodes. Since Threshold is about a team specifically assembled to deal with alien contact, it seems likely that all of the episodes will be "mythology" episodes. I noticed at the end that Brannon Braga is an executive producer, and of course I recognized Brent Spiner playing the biologist on the Red Team, both of whom you may recall from their work on ST:TNG. I've enjoyed it so far, and am looking forward to next week's episode. If you're a punk like me without TiVo, it's what's known as appointment television.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Tolkien Fans Read This post

If you're a fan of Tolkien and The Lord Of The Rings, there is a site you should be checking every day. Gary, the self-proclaimed Tolkien Geek, is engaged in his annual fall reading of LOTR, and blogging after each chapter the highlights, key points, and connections with other chapters and books of LOTR, as well as other Tolkien works and the Peter Jackson films. Drag out your old copy and read along; post a comment or question. Relive the experience with others as this Tolkien scholar takes us through, chapter by chapter, the mysteries and revelations available even to those who have read the books several times. We're only up to Chapter 8 now, so you don't have very far to go to catch up. You should also consider going back to some of the beginning posts, where definitions, FAQ's, and Gary's motivations for doing this project make up pretty interesting reading in their own right. Tolkien Geek is here. You go read now!

Monday, September 12, 2005


U.S. Marines. Does It Get Any Better? And Do My Camera Phone Skills Get Any Worse?

All sorts of people are helping out with Katrina relief. If you're reading this, you've probably already seen several vastly more popular blogs with plenty of info on how to give, and you should have done so already. Scroll a few posts down for one such blog. But there are other ways to help.

We all know the National Guard is in there, but so are the Marines. For a photo essay about some of the Marine relief activities, you can go here.

The Marine home page with lots of info, other articles and photos can be found here.

Also on that page is this link, providing FDA info on drug use and safety in the event of flooding or contaminated water, and temperature sensitive drugs (1 page pdf). You can get that info here.

Even closer to home, you may find Marines on busy streets, solicitating donations from people stuck in traffic. One such is Private Weaver from Manteca, who was kind enough to subject himself to my truly terrible photography skills, as you can see below:

No wonder the U.S. Marines are so kick-ass! If only my pics were half as good. Sorry about that. Just imagine that it's some sort of celestial glory shining down on him for his good work.

The Trouble With Mooburgers (Plus Marginal Pic)

So here's the thing. This place has moo in the name somehow. I can't remember the exact name, so I'm just going with Mooburgers. It's near the theater Miss Tori and I frequent, and we stopped there for lunch one day. The food was ok. Rationally, I could eat there again. However, because I'm so fussy sometimes, I won't be eating there again. Like most places, they give you free refills on sodas. At most places, they'll bring you a new cup of soda, and take away the empty one, but not Mooburgers. They take your cup back to the soda machine, stick it under the spout, and fill it up again. Which in and of itself might not be too bad. However, this particular service person never removed the straw, and never gave me a new one. Instead, while the filling was going on, the tip of my straw was rubbing all over the spout. How do I know whose straw last rubbed on that nozzle, with all their cootie containing drool smearing the spout where my straw now rubbed? And who after me was going to get my drool all over the tip of their straw?
Then again, that wasn't my main concern. Consider this photo:

This is the art on the wall at Mooburgers. Where do I begin? How about this? The cows are being presented as people. They stand, they walk and talk, maybe they're even dancing. So my burger is coming from some ground up intelligent supercows. Or maybe not, because careful examination gives rise to something more disturbing. Check out lady in pink on the far right, and tuxedo man she's grinding up against. They're holding hands, but what's that coming over tuxedo man's shoulder? Looks like a cow "arm" is joining into a three-way hand holding. Who knows what other sorts of three ways are going on when nobody's looking? I submit that Mooburgers makes their hamburgers out of ground up hybrid human/cow offspring that result from bestiality sessions on the glamorous Mooburger Ranch. I mean upper left yellow hair lady is practically frenching the cow. I haven't seen a cow get frenched like that since the so-called groundbreaking lesbian kiss episode of Roseanne all those years ago. Full disclosure: I think the Mooburger kiss is actually more titillating.

The pic is marginal, but a first step with a camera phone for me. So cut me some slack.

(Marine stuff to come; still working on the pic)

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Hey! It's A Schlong! And Other Stuff! Like Survivor! And Katrina!

So a while back, maybe a couple of years now, I was fortunate enough to stumble across a blog that had a great recap of each episode of Survivor either late the same night, or the day after each episode aired. I went to the beginning of the season on the site, this would have been two seasons ago, Survivor: Vanatu. And it was some of the most entertaining stuff I've ever read on the internet.

And when the season ended, I stopped reading that blog. I had lots of other blogs to read, and not enough time anyway. And sometime a few episodes into last season of Survivor, Survivor: Palau, I remembered what a great time I had the season before, and I went looking. Sure enough, he was doing it again. And it was still great. But through whatever mental quirks I have, I felt it would be stupid to be linking and playing it up midway through. If I couldn't start at the beginning, I wasn't going to do it at all. But at least this time, I kept reading even after Survivor ended. And now, with even less time, and down to reading only seven blogs on a daily basis, he's still in the rotation.

More importantly, another season of Survivor is coming up, this time, Survivor: Guatemala. I don't think he's made any announcement or anything, but I'm really looking forward to it. Of course it will be just my luck to promote it here, and then discover that he's sick of it and won't be doing it any more. But I think the chances are good that he will. I seem to recall him saying that doing the Survivor recaps did two things for him. They showed that he is an intelligent, entertaining, funny writer. And they showed that he can produce steady, reliable content, on a deadline (usually 4-6 hours after the episode), consistently, over an extended period. For me, he proved both of those things, in spades.

Who is this genius of the internet? I give you none other than Jeff Harrell of Shape of Days. And if that's not enough of a buildup, you can go here to get a look at his schlong, of which several hot chick readers have commented is either massive in size and/or extremely pleasurable to grind upon. I cannot personally vouch for the second notion. Check out the swollen schlongitude in this post here! You go look now!

And while you're there, you can donate to relief for Hurricane Katrina if you haven't already, or even if you have!

Thursday, September 08, 2005


This Little Piggy Went To Market . . .

Ok so you draw a pig and it tells you what sort of personality you are.

You do it here. You go draw now!

And my own little piggy is right here. You go look now!

Saturday, September 03, 2005


This Blog Could Lead To Anywhere, Or Perhaps Nowhere

At least, that's the tagline for the random blogroll section of The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns. How kind of her to put me there. Not sure why or how it happened; in fact I rarely understand why anyone would link here. And if you're one or the other of the regular readers, you know this blog is a first class ticket to nowhere. Yep, and in my head, it sounded just like Ed Rooney when I wrote that. And if you know what I'm talking about, either of you, let me know, cause you rule!

Fastest Quiz Ever

In a Past Life...

You Were: A Lazy Poet.

Where You Lived: Greece.

How You Died: Decapitation.
Who Were You In a Past Life?

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