Tuesday, December 24, 2002

First, Merry Christmas to all my faithful readers, both of you. (I'd say the more PC Happy Holidays, but, let's face it, it's December 24th, Chanukah has passed, and since everything is closed tonight and tomorrow, we're all pretty much forced to celebrate Christmas one way or another anyway. Expect a longer piece, probably tomorrow, on how the whole "true meaning of Christmas/religious holiday" stuff is a bunch of hogwash, anyway.)

Today, though, I want to recommend a particularly cool comic I just got yesterday: Hawaiian Dick, published by Image Comics. Written by B. Clay Moore and beautifully drawn by Steven Griffin, set in 1953, this first issue tells the tale of Byrd, a former mainland US cop exiled to Hawaii as the result of some sort of unspecified scandal. Working as a PI, he finds himself hired to recover a car stolen from some mobsters working to blackmail their boss. The story is lean and taut without going by too quickly, and the art is just gorgeous, combining pen and ink line art with some beautifully painted colors that bring the setting and characters to life. For want of a better hgh-concept catch-phrase, I'll say it's LA Confidential meets Magnum, PI. I don't know how accurate a portrait of 1950s-era Hawaii this is, but it feels the way you'd expect it to feel. This is the first of three issues, and hopefully we'll see many more stories after that. Check it out! (Or, check out these preview comic strips.)

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Saw the new Lord of the Rings movie, The Two Towers, yesterday. Definitely another great installment. I refuse to do the Internet thing of announcing whether or not I thought it was better than the first one, because:

  • I hate that sort of NASCAR-type evaluation that insists that it isn't enough whether something is enjoyable or not, but whether it's more or less enjoyable than something else. I mean, the logical conclusion to that line of thinking is that there should only be one thing that people should go to for entertainment, because it is the single piece of entertainment to which all others are inferior, and why settle for second best?

  • The Lord of the Rings movies aren't really meant to be individual films, any more than the books are individual stories rather than one really long book published in three volumes because the publisher thought the binding would have been unwieldy if the manuscript wasn't split up. It would be like just reviewing the middle third of a story, and ignoring how the first and last parts put the middle into context.

    • And finally, what's the point? Anyone who enjoyed the first one should go see the second one, because it's the next part of the story. Anyone who hated the first one should probably avoid the second one, because it's the next part of the story.

      I also watched the last (and first) episode of Firefly last night. The first episode, because this is the original pilot episode, the one where the story starts, which Fox had held off showing because they didn't think it would hook audiences. The last, because it's been canceled. (As have Birds of Prey and Robbery Homicide Division.) It's difficult to tell how this episode, "Serenity," holds up as a first episode, because I come to it with the benefit of hindsight. I'm already familiar with, and have affection for, the characters, and I have seen how many of the hints about the future will play out. It's definitely frustrating, knowing that we won't get any new stories about these folks or this setting, barring a miracle. Hopefully, we'll have the opportunity to at least see what we had again, either through reruns on the SciFi Channel or, even better, on DVD.

      Speaking of quality telefantasy being canceled, next month starts up the final run of episodes of Taken, the 20-hour miniseries about alien abductions produced by Steven Spielberg, they aren't going to follow it up with another miniseries or regular series. And they do show Stargate SG-1, which has matured into one of my favorites. But it's hard not to be disappointed when they stop making something I enjoy. Particularly when it's premature, like with Firefly,FarScape, or even Birds of Prey.

      Speaking of BoP, I was watching this week's episode and saw one of those annoying anti-marijuana ads that have been popping up more and more frequently these days. You know, the ones talking about the evils of the Demon Weed, like how it slows your reflexes and dulls your senses. Which may be true, and are things that potential pot smokers should probably be aware of. What bothers me was that the very next commercial showed what a great time could be had by drinking beer--a substance which slows the reflexes, dulls the senses... And let's not forget that, unlike perfectly legal tobacco cigarettes, marijuana doesn't cause cancer.

      Finally, I have come up with my own Star Wars tie-in product, and I post the notion here before somebody else starts manufacturing it: Force-in-a-Box. The great thing is, anyone who is convinced that they just have purchased an empty box obviously doesn't have enough midi-chlorians, and that'll show up in a medical test.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Just another quick one right now: Thanks fo the Giant Colon tour, now everyone in the world can see what it feels like to completely disappear up one's own rectum. (As opposed to everyone who voted the Republicans into power, who already have their heads so far up their own... ah, it's just too easy, and not really any fun today.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

First, please ignore the aborted post from 11/26/02. For whatever reason, I can't seem to delete it.

Second, the last few days, I've been getting an average of seven or eight telemarketer calls a day, according to my caller ID. Plus the usual spam in my inbox. So it's nice to see that someone out there is working on a way to make all this junk mail work for me.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Sorry for the prolonged absence. Between my computer being down and some other stuff, this journal just sort of fell by the wayside. With most of that behind me now, expect more frequent (hopefully, almost daily) doses of vitriol and pointless meandering.

And to bring things back in style, let me speak briefly about the government's Big Brother plan to fight terrorism. The whole thing certainly makes me feel a mite queasy (okay, more than a mite), because, after all, aren't the sorts of freedoms that this sort of plan abridges just the things that are supposed to set America above other nations? And is anyone else bothered by the notion that "it would only take one more terrorist attack and public support is assured?" Not that our government would even consider manufacturing some sort of terror threat to allow them to trample on citizens' freedoms in order to further the agendas of special interest groups at the expense of the public at large...

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Okay, another dilemma solved: Once Birds of Prey ends, I wasn't sure whether I'd go back to watching The West Wing, which I really haven't missed this year, or whether I'd stick a finger in the eye of traditional big network programming and watch UPN's

Monday, November 25, 2002

Yes, it's been quite a while since I've updated anything here. Blame it on a couple of factors: First of all, the Republican landslide victory in the last election still leaves me reeling. I'm sorry; call me opinionated, call me a left-wing communist hippie freak, but giving free reign to the party most self-interested and sympathetic to big business and with a pretty clearly demonstrated disinterest in the welfare of the people--ALL the people--of this country cannot be a good thing. And shame on the Democrats for not effectively presenting themselves as a calmer, more intelligent, informed, and level-headed alternative to the sort of war-mongering, fear-mongering distraction tactics the other guys have been using to cover up their own evil doings. Because, let's face it, the one sure thing the Middle East could do to keep the US from getting involved in any of its affairs is to simply declare that they're out of oil.

Speaking of our greedy, oil-consuming citizenry, I recently heard of a church-based campaign to better the environment by reducing the number of SUVs in the world. And I can't help but feel a little conflicted. I mean, on the one hand, any efforts to remove these schoolbus-sized monstrosities from the face of the earth is a good thing. (I drive a small pickup truck, and I can't find it in parking lots.) On the other hand, isn't the fact that these gas-guzzling behemoths are major contributors to the destruction of our environment, let alone the oil dependency that is helping fuel (pun intended) the conflicts in the Middle East and terrorist activity enough? I mean, if someone can't be bothered to pay attention to that sort of evidence, what does it say about their simple-minded inability to form coherent thought if they will be pushed over the edge once Jesus's name is dragged into it? Gah!

Okay, clearly things have been building within me the past few weeks, and it feels good to finally say them. And I hope to be posting more regularly soon, but my computer still hasn't been fixed since the viral attack. (Nothing to do with Al Quaeda terrorists, honest.) Apparently, what needs to be done is I need to format the hard drive and reinstall everything. I had a friend who was going to help me with that, but it hasn't really worked out. So, I'm going to go it alone. I figure, if my goal is to wipe out all the data on my hard drive, how can I screw that up?

One or two TV tidbits, before I go: Birds of Prey has been canceled, and that's disappointing. It would seem that Robbery Homicide Division will probably go the same way, since CBS opted to show a rerun of CSI in its place last Friday. And it would seem Firefly is hanging on by a thread as well. So please, watch these shows while you can.

Monday, November 04, 2002

According to this news item, researchers have uncovered physical differences between the brains of gay and heterosexual sheep. Which, I suppose, is interesting, unless you happen to be a gay sheep, in which case it's probably sort of frightening, because it means you're that much more likely to have someone cut your head open to examine your brain for
What's up with this Boy Scout excommunication thing? To be clear: I understand that they are a private organization and can make whatever stupid, homophobic, narrow-minded, exclusionary rules they like. I mean, realistically, expecting an organization called the Boy Scouts of America to not exclude folks who, say, aren't male would be pretty silly. But to exclude athiests, while accepting belief in any sort of higher being whatsoever? I just don't get it.

Tomorrow being election day, Las Vegas--like everywhere else in the USA, I'm assuming--is being barraged with an onslaught of political ads. I saw one last night that completely faked me out. You see, there's a measure on the ballot that would require Nevada to acknowledge same-sex marriages. The commercial talked about how a similar law was enacted in Vermont. Now Vermont health or sex-ed classes include discussion about sexual orientation, and they talk about families that include same-sex partners just like they were any other married couple. And I'm thinking that sounds all fine and dandy, and that this is a pro-Issue Number Whatever commercial. And then comes the final line: "We don't want to make the same mistake as Vermont."

Yeah, heaven forbid that we should have our kids learning that the concepts of "right," "wrong," or "normal" are not always simple, black and white issues, or that differences--at least the ones that don't result in unwanted open wounds--are things to be appreciated and understood. Heaven forbid that we take one step closer to abolishing this apparent yardstick of normality that we're supposed to judge others against, and treat them accordingly. Because if we started doing that, it might be harder to justify things like, oh, getting all worked up about an unpopular, unjustified, foolhardy attack against a bunch of foreigners instead of lookin inward and judging our leaders by their own actions, instead of being blinded by a bunch of distracting rhetoric all dressed up in emotionally-charged buzzwords like "terrorism" and "patriotism."

And yes, I am voting for the issue that recognizes same-sex marriages, and the one that makes medicinal marijuana legal. If supporting the things that increase freedom for our citizens isn't patriotic, then I think I've been reading the wrong Constitution.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Okay, it turns out that my computer contracted some sort of virus, so expect few updates here over the next week or so until that gets fixed. I have a friend who will help me do so for free, but I'm at the mercy of her schedule.

In the meantime, anyone reading this who agrees with bunches of what I have to say might want to check out a new comic, Global Frequency, which just premiered this past week. Written by comics' bad boy Warren Ellis, this may be the best example to date of the post-9-11 comic book story. It features big comic-booky, sci-fi menaces like--in the first issue--a guy who can use his powers to blow up San Francisco, but these powerful threats are combatted by a group of ordinary people. The series is scheduled to run for twelve issues, with each issue a completely self-contained story drawn by a different, high-profile artist. Certainly worthy of attention.

And now that we're a month or so into the new TV season, I'm going to once again urge everyone reading to watch Firefly on Fox on Friday nights. Of all the new shows I'm watching, this is easily one of the best, and the most likely to die a premature death. Which is unfortunate, because this is a show that seems to get better and better with each episode. The characters are becoming more and more distinct from one another, and the show seems to be finding its own voice. However, it's not the voice of a science-fiction show at all, and therein may lie the problem. I know plenty of sci-fi fans for whom the surface trappings are the important bits. They want science fiction that explores and embraces all the weird things possible. I think the various Star Trek series are probably a good metaphor: most fans seem to prefer Star Trek: The Next Generation because it had the best science-fiction stories about the characters encountering weird aliens and space anomalies and whatnot. Me, I prefered Star Trek: Deep Space Nine because it focused on stuff I could relate to: interaction between characters, politics, religion, war... only all dressed up as a science fiction show. And, like I said last week, Firefly is a Western dressed up as a science fiction show. It's going to disappoint the people who want lasers, aliens, and plots based around discovering a hole in space. And it's going to repel people who are looking for a good, solid, character-based drama because they'll see the spaceships in the ads and assume it's about all that crap they don't care about, like lasers, aliens, and plots based around discovering a hole in space. Which is a shame, because it's a very good television program about people. So please, watch it while it's still here.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Last week, I was all fired up to write a thing about the Criminal Bush's lack of support for ballistic fingerprinting, and specifically some really stupid, ignorant-sounding pinheaded comments coming from a White House spokesperson. But then my computer stopped working--temporarily, hopefully--and so I can't get to my notes, including the URL for the aforementioned quote. (I'm writing this during a lull at work.) Plus, I seem to have contracted some sort of cold/flu/bug thing, and my head hurts, so I can't really be bothered. Besides, complaining about the Criminal Bush just snowballs any more. I mean, do I complain about the stupidity, the corruption, the warmongering... So hard to pick.

So, instead, I'm going to say that I'm getting a huge kick out of watching Birds of Prey. It is completely, totally, and utterly what it seems intent on being, which is a comic-book superhero series, and it's nice seeing a network television series embrace that. Also still getting a kick out of American Dreams, even though I apparently can't be bothered to look up a link for it right now. Liking it may be completely unhip, because it's just a really good family drama (though not as good as Once & Again; damn you, ABC) but I don't much care. Sundays at 8 pm on NBC, plus they rerun the previous week's episode Sundays at 7 pm. Check it out.

And, while you're at it, check out Firefly, the sci-fi Western from Buffy/Angel creator Joss Whedon. This show seems to be getting a bunch of stick from internet sci-fi fans, as well as comics writers like Peter David and "I'm so hip and British; just ask me" Warren Ellis, and here's my thinking why: it's a science fiction series that's not really a science fiction series. David, in particular, seemed upset that it wasn't turning enough sci-fi cliches on their head. Me, I think it's obvious. It's not a science fiction show. It's a Western. It's a post-Civil War ensemble drama made by people who understand that it's easier to market a science fiction show than a post-Civil War show and who probably don't want to be ham-strung by historical reality. It doesn't break new ground in sci-fi programming because that's not one of it's goals. To paraphrase--badly--Neil Gaiman, it's like ordering a pizza and then complaining that it's this round, flat, bready thing with tomato sauce and cheese all over it. I do agree that the dialogue and characters are more interesting than some of the plots, but it's still a show worth watching, says I.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Somedays, it just depresses me to be living in the land of the free.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Okay, so it's been more than a few days since I've written anything. Chalk it up to working nine days in a row. When I finally got time off, I just didn't feel like writing anything. (Some days it flows better than others, you know?) I had actually started an aborted rant about Ain't It Cool News last week, but it felt like too much griping that would only result in my paying too much attention to a bunch of geeks. So it never went anywhere. Tonight, though, I'm in the mood to talk about TV and stuff (which tangentially touches on some of what I was going to say about Ain't It Cool News, but in a less intense way). And there's some brief political stuff at the end, but you can skip that if you like.

First, Birds of Prey. Now, this isn't going to be a review of this new show on the WB, because I haven't actually seen it yet. It premiered last Wednesday night, and I work Wednesday nights, and it's on in the same time slot as White House drama The West Wing. Now, I've been watching The West Wing since the very first episode, and love it. I even own the first season on DVD. No way was I going to miss one of the best shows on TV.

But Birds of Prey... First, some background: I don't remember where I first encountered Batman. It would have either been reruns of the 60's Batman TV series starring Adam West or in episodes of the cartoon Superfriends. Either way, he must have made a strong impression on me, because while I occasionally drift away from the character and all his assorted, related comics, I always find myself coming back. And without getting into the realm of too much information, Batgirl, as played by Yvonne Craig made quite an impression on my young mind. A few years later, so did Black Canary, the superpowered girlfriend of ace comic book superhero archer Green Arrow. (I'm sure it was the fishnet stockings; Zatanna had similar appeal.) In the comics, Barbara "Batgirl" Gordon was ultimately shot by the Joker and lost the use of her legs, but this didn't end her superhero career. Trapped in a wheelchair, she became the superhero networking agent/information clearinghouse known as Oracle. At some point in the mid-nineties, writer Chuck Dixon brought Oracle and Black Canary together as a team, starring in their own comic book, Birds of Prey. The comic quickly became one of my favorites, between Dixon's skill at balancing characterization and action, and his decision to have the series read more like a non-powered action-adventure book instead of a superheroes-vs-supervillains comic. It was the sort of comic that seemed like it could be turned into a TV series without much trouble. And now it has.

So, my dilemma: The West Wing or Birds of Prey? It seemed like a fairly easy choice. I had been watching The West Wing for the past three years, and it had won my loyalty. Birds of Prey sounded intriguing, and I loved the characters, but it wasn't an exact adaptation of the comic (set in the future, the Black Canary character is now a teenager named Dinah--the Canary's real name--the comic book character Huntress is a series regular, but she's the daughter of Batman and Catwoman like in her original origin, not her current, revised one, blah blah blah), it was getting mixed reviews, and I can only watch so much TV. As the premiere date grew closer, however, I felt like I was deliberately snubbing an old friend, so I asked a friend at work to tape it for me. She did, but I haven't had a chance to watch it yet. I did, however, get home that evening, in time to see the last 20 or so minutes of the show. And I've decided that I'd rather watch it than The West Wing.

When I turned on the TV, the first thing I saw was the image of Batgirl. And I knew then that I'd rather be watching this show. It's got nothing to do with the relative quality of the shows; from what I can tell, The West Wing is still a better-made television program. But what I saw of Birds of Prey wasn't particularly bad. Yes, the dialogue is a bit melodramatic, and the sets and characters and direction are very stylized in the same hyper-surreal vein as the Batman movies. Which, of course, is a problem, because if there's one thing I look for in a TV show set in the future of a world where a man dresses up as a flying rodent to fight a clown, it's realism... But the thing is, I don't care about its shortcomings. I don't care that, on an objective level, The West Wing is almost certainly a better show. What I care about is this: I love the Batman comics. I have a great deal of emotional attachment to them, and I enjoy the feelings that I experience when reading them. Seeing Batgirl, Batman, the Huntress, Harley Quinn, and this world that I know so well come to life on my TV screen prompted the same reaction. And as much as I enjoy The West Wing on an intellectual level, it doesn't reach me in quite the same way. So, my inclination--and remember, I haven't seen a whole episode of Birds of Prey yet--is to watch Birds instead of The West Wing. Crazy as that sounds.

So here's what I'm thinking about: we have these critically-reviled but popular shows like, say, JAG (another personal favorite, but one I can't watch because it's on at the same time as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls, and I refuse to get a second VCR so I can watch that much more TV). Is it the case that the critics are right, that the huge masses of people who watch and enjoy these shows are dull-witted sheep who don't have the sense to realize that what they're watching isn't very good? Or, is it possible, just maybe, that those audiences are looking for something else in those shows, something the critics don't get? I'm not saying that television shouldn't be good. But I didn't see anything in those few minutes of Birds of Prey to drive me away, either. More importantly, it connected with me on a level quite separate from acting, writing, direction, whatever, in a way that The West Wing doesn't quite equal. And that's something I wouldn't have known if I hadn't seen it. It's something no review would ever have been able to tell me.

Okay, here's the brief political bit: I'm pretty sickened by Congress's capitulation on this whole letting the criminal Bush have his way with Iraq thing. I swear, real-world politics shouldn't feel this much like watching Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones. (If that makes no sense, the movie comes out on video next month; rent it, watch it, think about it, then ask me to explain if you still don't get it. I'm tired.) Well, apparently I'm not the only one turning away from The West Wing, and I suspect the reason for the show's declining ratings is this: compare Martin Sheen's President Bartlett to what we've got in the real world. Personally, if I'm going to watch a show that's a complete and utter work of fantasy, I'd rather it be about a hot chick fighting crime in a bustier.

Sunday, October 06, 2002

Another joke:

An elderly man lay dying in his bed.

In death's agony, he suddenly smelled the aroma of his favorite chocolate chip cookies wafting up from the stairs.

He gathered his remaining strength, and lifted himself from the bed. Leaning against the wall, he slowly made his way out of the bedroom, and with even greater effort forced himself down the stairs, gripping the railing with both hands.

With labored breath, he leaned against the door-frame, gazing into the kitchen.

Were it not for death's agony, he would have thought himself already in heaven: there, spread out upon newspapers on the kitchen table, were literally hundreds of his favorite chocolate chip cookies.

Was it heaven?

Or was it one final act of heroic love from his devoted wife, seeing to it that he left this world a happy man?

Mustering one great final effort, he threw himself toward the table, landing on his knees in a rumpled posture.

His parched lips parted; the wondrous taste of the cookie was already in his mouth; seemingly bringing him back to life.

The aged and withered hand shakingly made its way to a cookie at the edge of the table, when it was suddenly smacked with a spatula by his wife.

"Stay out of those," she said, "they're for the funeral."

From Douglas Clegg's newsletter. Clegg
is the author of The Infinite and Naomi,
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Friday, October 04, 2002

Call off the search! Apparently, the world's funniest joke has been discovered, and here it is:

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other man pulls out his phone and calls emergency services.

He gasps to the operator: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator in a calm, soothing voice replies: "Take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead."

There is a silence, then a shot is heard.

Back on the phone, the hunter says, "Ok, now what?"

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

According to this story, a Christian conservative organization is all up in arms because Lifetime Television ran an ad for Applebee's during a show called "Gay Weddings." Please. Like this is anywhere near as upsetting as the Jimmy-Olsen-coming-out-of-the-closet thing mentioned last week. Like anyone really cares about where Applebee's commercials show up. I mean, isn't Applebee's the restaurant people go to when TGI Friday's and Chili's are just too fancy for them? (This venom comes from a really atrocious meal I had at an Applebee's one night, right before I took the GRE.)

And, of course, Applebee's is desperately backpedalling, insisting that they had requested that their ad not run during "controversial shows" like "Gay Weddings." Because, of course, if they advertise during a show like "Gay Weddings," well, the next thing you know, gay people might start coming to Applebee's, and all the nice, good, pure, Christian, Focused-on-the-Family folks might get gay cooties, or whatever the heck it is they're afraid of. And it's possible that if people of all sorts of different beliefs--sexual, religious, whatever--started associating with each other, it might just lead to some sort of horrible understanding of one another, which might consequently lead to hightened awareness and sympathy for the diversity and complexity of life, which would just be awful. Because, after all, if people start thinking that the world isn't just black and white, but a million shades of gray--or, even better, an explosion of an infinity of colors--then they might start realizing things like how maybe, just maybe, there's more to consider about stuff like going to war with Iraq beyond simple rhetoric like, "This country is determined to disarm Iraq and thereby bring peace to the world." And that just opens a whole new can of worms.

And, no, I'm not saying that this Applebee's thing is tied into the war-drum-thumping at all. But willful ignorance is a bad thing, in whatever form it takes, and I'm getting sick and tired of seeing people use it to gain the upper hand.

Something positive: To help our library promote Teen Read Week (the theme of which is Get Graphic @ Your Library), Dark Horse Comics sent us a bunch of posters and buttons.

Monday, September 30, 2002

First, a note about TV reviews: I won't write them. Same goes for movies, comics, books, music, whatever. There are plenty of sources for "thumbs up/thumbs down" sorts of reviews, and I'm sure there's at least one out there that has something interesting or insightful to say. As far as I'm concerned, it's okay to like something despite its flaws (this is pretty much the basis of most relationships), and that's what I'll write about. It doesn't matter so much to me whether or not The Tuxedo was a good movie (which it wasn't); what matters is whether or not I had a good time watching it (which I did). So, with that said, here's my comments about last night's TV:

I have fond childhood memories about Sunday night television. I remember the whole family gathering around to watch The Muppet Show and The Wonderful World of Disney. In recent years, much has been made about cable TV (particularly HBO) dominating Sunday night television. Well, as much as I love The Sopranos, it's not the only thing on Sunday nights any more, and in even more recent years, I've actually found myself watching more network shows on Sundays. And now I'm adding two new ones to the list: American Dreams and Boomtown.

A confession: I'm a sucker for sixties pop music. (Not sure how my friends who work at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame will react to that, but there you go.) So the idea of American Dreams, a family drama set in the sixties, revolving at least partially around American Bandstand and produced by Dick Clark had some obvious initial appeal. Plus, I needed something to fill the emotional void left by the shameful cancellation of State of Grace. Heck, American Dreams even stars Tom Verica, who had a recurring role on State of Grace. And, the good news is, I liked it. Not a perfect show--the father was painted a little too broadly as a complete jerk, for example--but the characters were likeable and believable. There's enough timeless family drama to keep it relevant, but enough historical detail to keep things interesting. I was caught off guard when the family's oldest son gave a typically heartfelt speech to his priest/Catholic high school football coach about how he doesn't want to play football any more because he no longer finds it enjoyable or fulfilling, only to have the priest tell him to get his head together, that it doesn't matter what he feels, just that he has a duty to his family, his school, and his parish. A few minutes later, we see the father of the family, who has spent most of the show throwing his authority around, lamenting that his family is unhappy even though he has achieved almost everything he ever dreamed of. Why, he wonders, isn't that enough for them? These are the sorts of things that wouldn't play in a contemporary drama, but in a historical context, when the world was a lot more comfortable pretending that a woman's place was in the home, and her husband was the king of his castle, it works. And, of course, there's the music. And next week: Michelle Branch!

For a show being touted as one of the most impressive new series, I was less impressed than I expected to be with Boomtown (although I loved the opening credits). The gimmick is that they show the investigation of a crime--or whatever the week's story might be, I guess--from the perspectives of a bunch of different characters: beat cops, detectives, a paramedic, a DA, and a reporter. I like the diversity of roles the characters represent, and I liked watching the pieces come together, instead of seeing the story unfold in a straightforward, linear fashion. And it's a good cast. But the actual story was nothing spectacular, and there was one scene in particular (a cop, played by the usually fantastic Gary Basaraba, runs into an old woman in the middle of a police chase, and the dialogue exchange is just embarrassing) that really turned me off. And although the show started off with a soliliquy about the Los Angeles River, it didn't have the same sense of LA-place-ness as Robbery Homicide Division on Friday. Nevertheless, I'll be back next week.

And, of course, sandwiched between these two new shows came the season premiere of Alias. If I refuse to offer an objective review of anything, that goes double for this show. I love it so. It's the only TV show I turn the phone ringer off during. It's a great action show, and it's a fantastic family drama, and everyone in the world should watch it and love it. 'Nuff said.
From the fanboy/geek department: It seems that one of my favorite comics from my childhood, The New Teen Titans, is being Cartoon Network, home of the excellent Justice League cartoon, as well as the unwatchable He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and Transformers revivals. Only they're going to set it in the future and make it more of a science fiction story. And, of course, die-hard fans are already complaining. Hey, maybe there'll be a petition...

And then there's the Roomba Intelligent Sweeper Vac... As it happens, I have to vacuum today. And I'm sure the cat would get a huge kick out of it, considering how terrified she is of the regular vacuum...
I didn't think anything could top yesterday's story about the cheerleader-lawsuit mom. (That's not entirely true; what I didn't think was that I'd accidentally stumble across anything better.) But here it is, from Warren Ellis's blog at http://www.diepunyhumans.com/: Woman sues God!.
From the "this is why I'm a librarian" department: Everyone knows that every piece of information in the known universe can be found on the Internet using Google. As it happens, I work part-time for a local community college at their reference desk, which is located in the computer lab, which is in a separate building from the college library, because the college administration apparently believes that more students will be doing research online than at the library. Which is probably true. Which is why it's nice to read things like this, because it justifies my existence.
Okay, I was going to steer clear of the politics today and just talk about TV. But then I read this, and I can't help thinking that if this new sort of war (against, well, whoever) is going to be won through intelligence and information, we are so completely screwed it isn't even funny any more.

On the lighter side, I received this in my e-mail this morning from a friend:

"Well, just a little something that a friend passed on to me. It was somewhat entertaining, though I suggest you make sure to turn down the sound if you're at work...


Sunday, September 29, 2002

Now, I'm not saying I advocate any sort of political stance or anything like that. Because heaven forbid anyone should have an actual informed opinion when they could wave a flag instead. But if we're beating the war drums, shouldn't we be considering points like these?
So, once again, we see that the American answer to not getting your way is to sue somebody. On one level, I'm sickened, but on another, I'm trying to see the glass as half full. Maybe my new pick-up line should be, "Go out with me, or I'll sue you."

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Watched the premiere of Robbery Homicide Division last night. Yeah, I know, like I need another cop show to watch, but this one is executive-produced by Michael Mann, and it stars Tom Sizemore, plus it got good advance notices in Entertainment Weekly and TV Guide, although neither of them seem to be putting those reviews online. I did come across negative reviews in the NY Post, which found the show "confusing" (I'm no rocket scientist, and I had no trouble following the story...) and hated the violence (Hello? It's a crime show?) and the Miami Herald, who paid so much attention to the show, they couldn't get the creator credits right (Mann executive-produces the show, but Barry Schindel is credited as creator). So take that for what it's worth.

Me? I liked it. I thought it was stylish and entertaining, with an involving story. The dialogue sounded like real people talking, and it was nice to see a cast reflecting the ethnic diversity of Los Angeles. I'll check it out next week.

It also got me thinking--again--about the difference in feel between cop stories set in New York (or other East Coast cities) versus Los Angeles (or other Western cities, like Vegas). I had similar thoughts while reading Stephen J. Cannell's first Shane Scully novel, The Tin Collectors. When done right, there's a definite feel that the regions have, and it's nice seeing a cop/detective show set in LA, especially produced by the writer/director of perhaps the greatest LA crime movie in recent history, Heat. The New York cop shows are fine, but there's a certain claustrophobic, old-world feel they have by virtue of being set in an older, more congested/urbanized part of the country. The LA stories have a more sprawling feel, and I think there's a certain energy that comes from being set in a place where most things are less than a hundred years old. I need to figure out how to articulate this better, but I like that Robbery Homicide Division actually communicates LA as a sense of place, rather than just being a cop show set in LA because films and television are made in LA, and therefore set in LA by convenience. (Used to be everything was set in LA, and now that's a rarity, isn't it?) The only other show currently on that I can think of that treats LA like a distinct place is Angel, and that show does it in a manner reminiscent of Raymond Chandler. Only with demons.)
Anyone still laboring under the impression that comics are just simple stories for little kids should probably check this out. (They should probably also be reading Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, plus a slew of other pretty literate comics, but that goes without saying.)
This is something you just don't see in the big cities: a town's own personal superhero.

Friday, September 27, 2002

I saw The Tuxedo today, the new Jackie Chan movie. Does it make sense if I say it wasn't particularly good, but I still enjoyed it? The characters were shallow, the tone of the bad-guy stuff was way too serious, it felt like huge chunks had been edited out, or nobody every bothered to fill in the holes in the first place, and there were some sequences (*cough* James Brown cameo *cough*) that felt shoehorned in from another, even worse, movie. And there wasn't as much action as there could have been, making this film more like Gorgeous than Project A. But, unlike a lot of American action heroes, Chan has the charm and chops to carry off a relatively actionless action movie, and Jennifer Love Hewitt was fun, too. Yes, certainly mostly eye-candy, particularly at first. But, as the movie wore on, I found myself smiling at her bitchy, snippy lines, which didn't come off like the usual tough grrl crap that we see in movies like, say, Ballistic. And while the main villain was pretty humorless, Peter Stormare's mad scientist character was more in line with the general tone of the piece.

So, bottom line: Not anywhere near as good as Shanghai Noon, and too weird to have the mainstream appeal of the Rush Hour movies. And HK purists are going to hate it just on principle, even though Chan has said he knows he can't keep making the kinds of movies he used to make. But I had fun.

And I heard the Madonna for the new James Bond movie, Die Another Day on the radio tonight. Not spectacular, but it'll probably sound just fine playing over a bunch of images of nekkid chicks.

When I went out for dinner tonight, I passed by the newly-opened Cheesecake Factory store. Apparently, there is absolutely no other place to get cheesecake in Las Vegas, so everyone in the city had to come to this cookie-cutter chain restaurant. Either that, or they were giving away free samples, plus drinks. (I shouldn't make fun of the folks flocking to the franchise food store, since I was getting dinner at Jason's Deli. And, now that I look at their menu, apparently Cheesecake Factory serves a great deal more than Cheesecake. However, can it really be line-of-at-least-thirty-people-out-the-door great?)
Okay, I must confess, I just read the online petition protesting the Superman movie. (I wasn't even really curious; I was just testing the links for my last blog entry.) They list a series of problems they have with the script, and the number one problem, the very first one they have listed, is that, in the script, Jimmy Olsen is apparently gay. Not only did someone think that this Superman script is an important enough issue to circulate a petition about, but the first reason they want people to read, the deviation from established Superman history that they want to point out before anything else, is that Jimmy Olsen is not gay. Because, apparently, for these people who are so concerned that Superman be translated faithfully to the big screen, for these people for whom this is an important enough to rally the world behind, one of the key, defining factors of the Superman concept is Jimmy Olsen's frelling heterosexuality. God.

And, so far, over 6000 people have "signed" this.
Earlier this week, a friend pointed me to an alleged review of Alias creator JJ Abrams' script for the upcoming, yet to be made, new Superman movie. Friday, he points me in the direction of an online petition to prevent the script from being filmed. At this point, I e-mailed him that I was declaring a moritorium on information about the Superman movie. Not just from him; if I happen to come across a news item about the movie during my too-frequent daily web crawls, I'll skip right over it. Because if I start paying attention now, I'm going to have to listen to somewhere in the neighborhood of eighteen months or so of whining, bleating, moaning, wailing, and gnashing of teeth about how Hollywood/Warner Bros/DC Comics/director Brett Ratner/JJ Abrams/producer Jon Peters/Criminal George W. Bush/Osama bin Laden/Kermit the Frog are responsible for trashing the great, brilliant, wonderful, fantastic, perfect American Icon that is Superman, and what a horrible, awful, miserable, evil crime against humanity it is that this movie should ever see the light of the inside of a darkened movie theater, yadda, yadda, yadda. As if this is the most important thing in a world where the Criminal Bush is stumping for a war nobody wants in order to bolster his political clout and wholeheartedly supporting the commercial rape of our national forests.

I mean, there's a petition, for God's sake. On the Internet. As if, first of all, anyone pays attention to those anyway. Say this petition collects a thousand "signatures," never mind that since they're electronic without any real verification anyway they might as well not count at all. Say a thousand real people actually sign it. Most movie theaters seat, what, three or four hundred people? So those signatures represent, what, the equivalent of three or so empty theaters around the world for one showing of the movie? Say each signature represents ten people. How many theaters are there in the country? We're probably talking about the equivalent of one or two unsold tickets at a fraction of the theaters around the country. And it bothers me on some level that there is this small but vocal group of people that would probably be willing to write their Congressman to stop production of this script before they'd protest Criminal Bush's Healthy Forest Initiative.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Too early to post anything new today, but I wanted to post a link to another friend's blog, High Dudgeon.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Welcome to my brand-new blog, written by a 30-something children's librarian living in Las Vegas, NV. I love comics, movies, TV, books, the internet, and complaining about stuff, and you'll read all about that and more right here. So welcome, and enjoy the ride!

I just finished watching the season premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and it seems like we're off to a good start this year. The show is--amazingly, considering it's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and it's really good--now entering its seventh season, and this episode serves to establish a new starting point, new characters, and new plots that will presumably run through the season. The main story is wrapped up--more or less--but there are plenty of questions left to be answered. I got a kick out of it, but I'm sure you won't have to look very hard to find people on the 'net already declaring this to be the worst season ever. Especially over at Ain't It Cool News, about which you'll hear more in the future.

In the meantime, check out my friend Jim's blog, Strange Interlude, and the San Francisco Chronicle's Daily Fix.