Sunday, May 31, 2009

News - Sunday, May 31, 2009

- The live action Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode sounds really ill, so I'm going to check it out shortly after this entry is done. It seems like I'm the only person who consistently watches the show now, or at least it feels that way. Sad Steve is sad. The same goes with Heroes, Family Guy and Saturday Night Live, it seems. I catch pretty much all of them every week, within a few days of the air date.

For what it's worth, ATHF has had a rebound year this year to me. The quality has definitely seemed to improve since they aren't busy with a movie anymore. Speaking of the movie though, the intro to it is still one of my favorite three minutes. And my favorite quote sequence from the show:
Master Shake: Plaque is a figment of the liberal media and the dental industry to scare you into buying useless appliances and pastes. Now, I've read the arguments on both sides, and I haven't found any evidence yet to support the need to brush your teeth. Ever.
Meatwad: I don't know how you'd know; you ain't got no teeth.
Master Shake: Well, I got rid of my teeth at a young age, because...I'm straight. Teeth are for gay people. That's why fairies come and get 'em.
- Because I seem to have an obsession with TV commercials, I like the cover of "Let Your Love Flow" (original by the Bellamy Brothers) that is on some car commercial now. I can't find on the Internetz who does the cover, but it sounds a lot like the same female a cappella group, the Night Owls, that sings at the end of a Zach Galifankis' comedy special.

- For all the talk of how awesome The New York Times is with my snooty journalism friends, they sometimes have stupid headlines to me. For example, this headline without further explanation as linked off Google news: Penguins strike first, but result is similar. An actual story on nature would have been more interesting than what is linked.

Speaking of my old industry, in an attempt to save themselves this past week, a bunch of the biggest papers probably committed collusion, which is just awesome. Not shockingly, most newspapers and media outlets were only too happy to play this up as harshly as they could. Also good on Slate: Why Obama's Supreme Court nomination, Sotomayor, isn't such a slam dunk candidate. At least Slate will probably survive the revolution. I'm somewhat resigned to the fact that I'll probably never work again full-time as a reporter; it was a marginal existence for me two years ago, and it is not improving any time soon.

- Enough depressing stuff: Stripper news time. (And no, there is never not stripper news on Google.) And, shooocccckkinngggg, the news comes from Florida. This is the third or fourth story I've linked from Tampa Bay Online; it might be worth my while to become a regular reader. Anyway, a 21-year-old man was hit by a car as he was attempting to flee a strip club after stealing several rings from a stripper. Even sillier part of this story: He got hit by a Volkswagen Beetle.

- And finally, in bizarre news, a woman staged the kidnapping of her nine-year-old daughter while she instead took her to Disney World, or something like that. I really have no clue, because the lead is buried in this story about the effect it could have on her child. Now, this story started in Pennsylvania, but it ended up in Florida, so I still count that as a point for Gator County.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A slice of everyday life

My day job is now substitute teaching, but I've resisted writing about it until now mostly out of fear. I mean, since that pays (even if it is meager) and this blog does not, there is an incentive for me to not screw it up. But, I realize it is a rather appealing topic. So let me just talk generally about the difference between age groups.

First, each school and even grade has its own sort of social hierarchy. The district I'm at has elementary, middle and high schools, and regardless of the age groups, the oldest class at each is always somewhat collected, and it all goes out the window the second they switch to their new school.

The change is almost shocking to witness. Formerly quiet and composed fourth graders become shrill, excited kids again, similar to first graders, once they hit the middle school. The same thing happens on the switch from middle to high school, with a bunch of puberty-effected freshmen bouncing off the walls. I've had a variety of different classes at each age group, and it doesn't seem to matter who their actual teacher is.

There is also a big difference between fifth and sixth grade, and ninth and 10th grade. Fifth graders still mirror elementary school students in many ways - the majority are well-behaved and open to instruction, and if they are in trouble, it's normally more hijinks than serious. (i.e. Teasing a girl vs. skipping class.)

But once they've been in the school for a year, the attitude comes, and it's like a light switch on. Most of the sixth grade classes I've had have been incredibly bratty and resistant to do anything at all, and the same thing goes with 10th graders and history. By the time they hit seventh and 11th grade respectively, they've again calmed down and work more earnestly, and get more distracted with their own social circles and what not.

Still, the change is noticeable and stark and just plain odd to me, someone without a teaching degree or a ton of classroom experience. I don't think it's an issue of just getting a "bad" group of kids, more that this is how they seem to shake out as they progress. Fascinating, in a way.

Also, to counter a commonly held belief - Today's kids don't really seem any worse to me than how I acted when I passed through the same school system seven to 19 years ago. If anything, things have gotten better, as there are more extracurricular programs offered, and more work being done to either help or separate the kids who just don't want anything to do with school.

My main issue would be the lack of accountability with parents - the most common complaint I've heard from teachers is calling home to remedy a behavior problem, and instead being accused of the one causing the issue. Of course, all teachers aren't perfect or saints, but the vast majority of the ones I've encountered do have their students best interests at heart and are qualified. Most of them aren't going to lie about Johnny F. Poopoopants not handing in their Algebra homework.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

News - Thursday, May 28, 2009

This A-hole was by far the most infuriating part of the original Punch-Out for me as a kid, even if he was only on soda pop and not vodka in the NES version.

- At this point, I'm thinking of robbing someone to secure fundage to buy the new Punch-Out! It has been getting good reviews from even the traditional newspaper sources, and the game itself looks slick. Click here to see it in action.

- I've always been a PC loyalist, possibly because they are all that I know. When I was growing up and much more into computers, back in the days of multiplayer gaming on and Quake: Team Fortress tournaments, I always viewed Macs as, well, not an option. Most good commercial games didn't get released for them, and if they did, they often came many months after.

Of course, all of that changed with the rise of the iEverything of Apple products, which probably partly explains why Dell's profit has plummeted 34 percent, beyond the bad economy. The odd thing that has surprised me about the rise of Apple has been that all of its products are basically hype. An Apple doesn't get viruses because it is a weaker machine, just like a Toyota Corolla is probably going to breakdown less than a luxury auto. (A PC isn't really a Ferrari, and while I would like to compare it to a Lexus or Audi or Benz, I have no idea how reliable any of those are, making the analogy hard.) An iPod doesn't really offer many functional advantages over the majority of MP3 players, and likewise with the iPhone vs. most other cell phones. I agree with Maddox's take on it.

... Yet despite all of that, I just bought an iPod about a month ago. In my defense, I am a consumer whore, and it was only $30 on eBay. Still, in hindsight, I wish I had just gotten an MP3 player instead.

- Piggybacking on the previous paragraphs a bit, this guy sounds like a friggin' loon, but the idea intrigues me. Too bad that the project seems to be dead, since the last blog post there was in October 2007.

- And because a news post isn't complete without stripper news, and because I'm shocked this story didn't occur in Florida, here is a story about a stripper and a strip club owner arrested for knowingly letting a 15-year-old girl dance at the club. Perfectly normal, perfectly healthy. To be fair though, the story is from Georgia, so maybe the taint and foulness of Florida has spread across their borders and polluted the neighboring states.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Say no to stupid commercials

Axe smells horrible anyway.

Since I seem to be critiquing commercials lately, let's move on to Axe Body Spray. Shockingly, I didn't really mind their super-babe commercials, where guys spraying themselves with Axe were beset by hot women. They were so over-the-top (warning: in a foreign language because that makes it funnier to me) that they were hilarious. The people in my Women's Studies didn't share that opinion, as several would try to argue that some men seriously believed that it would work. But honestly, if you believe that Axe works like that, then I also have some stock to sell you.

Unfortunately, for some reason all of Axe's recent spots on ESPN during the NBA playoffs have been the same putrid commercial. Simple summary: Guy has armpits that shoot out sweat when he raises his arm, and Axe stops this. It is absolutely as disgusting as it sounds. What gives?

p.s. Just as I'm about to post this, I realize that it might not be an Axe commercial, and instead might be Tag. For the record, if it's tag, it sucks too. And the Right Guard shaving gel commercials with the jetpacking women.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

News - Thursday, May 21, 2009

"Damn Aceman, you're a genius!"

- Adam Carolla always used to make the point that cities in California needed to be numbered, as opposed to named, with the best receiving low numbers. This story makes the point perfectly clear, as 147 members of a Latino gang were charged in connection with trying to force African-Americans out of... Hawaiian Gardens. Sounds lovely, doesn't it? Yet it is apparently a shithole just north of the also improperly named Long Beach. If you want more funny from Adam, he has his own podcast now, webpage here.

Writing for the Los Angeles Times must be infuriating. On one hand, you have a good investigative story about 147 gang members arrested. On the other, you have Bill Maher contributing vitrolic attacks on the governon, Arnold Scjhalkjhsdfnsdaf.

- In stripper news, this story from Colorado Springs is absolutely insane. I was making a WTF face, if such a thing exists, the entire time I was reading it. And spoiler alert: For strippers, surprisingly disappointing photo. The article itself isn't that insightful, though; mostly a glossy, non-probing (pun intended) profile.

Strippers are always kind of disappointing when you actually see photos, which is why I've never been to a strip club, or really that interested going. Between these photos (SFW) of some Chicago hopefuls, and David Alan Grier's story about having one that had been stabbed seven times, the luster is off the proverbial stripper pole for me.

- Normally when I do these sort of entries, I'll look for bizarre news by inputting random words into Google News. One word never, ever disappoints: chainsaw. In Oklahoma, a fight broke out between two groups after some beer was reported missing from a car. And you can bet your sweet ass that a chainsaw was involved. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any follow-up on the fight. Any follow-up, yet. I'll definitely be scouring for updates on it.

- Slate's TV reporter backs up Jimmy Kimmel, saying that he always mocks ABC at the upfronts. It's a good article overall about ABC's presentation, and some of the shows - V, Flash Forward - sound interesting. By the way, I highly recommend all of Troy Patterson's work; I love his television criticism. He seems more in-touch and even-handed than Slate's movie critic, Dana Stevens, who acts like she's too cool for school in most of her reviews. I also like their advice columnist, who normally has sane takes on seemingly insane situations.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Where is Demi?

Apparently, Ashton had enough free time after a Nikon commercial to say "hi" to Demi.

The title of this post is what I constantly think when I see these stupid Ashton Kutcher commercials with him pimping out the Nikon cameras. (If you absolutely must see these insipid spots, then click here for an example, but honestly, please don't feed the animals.) All the commercials feature a "hey look at me, I'm so clever!" Ashton taking photos of hot chicks, which begs the question posed by the title of this post.

It would be one thing if Demi Moore had turned into some hag, but speaking solely for myself here, she is still a fox at 46. (Ashton is 31, by the way, which is a lot older than I would have guessed.) They are still married, at least this week. If you're coming home to Demi Moore, do you really need to be talking photos of all these other dames? Like, really? It seems somewhat unbelievable to me.

And again, referencing the title of this post, Demi Moore's appearance would actually make these commercials somewhat cute. Suddenly, she pops out of nowhere to see Ashton pulling this S, and he makes some weird, goofy expression that Kelso from That 70s Show would. That's the Ashton Kutcher I want, not the douchebag who photographs models.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Philosophy of the Flying V

Uh oh, look at all these wacky kids! You know craziness will ensue!

Sometimes I forget that other people on the Internet, you know, write stuff. But by chance, I stumbled upon this blog the other day, which is really quite grand, and specifically, this post, about the top 10 selfish sports teams of the 1990s. The relevant overlap to this post I'm crafting right now would be the following paragraph about D2: The Mighty Ducks:

Question: How does a team that barely makes it to the post season in their crappy neighborhood hockey league get selected to represent our nation in the Junior Olympic Goodwill games? Coach Gordon Bombay that's how. I understand hiring Bombay as your coach. The man is an innovator, I mean the flying V? Come on, that's just good hockey. But why choose the whole Mighty Ducks team for Team USA? You're going to tell me that Goldberg was the best goalie our country had to offer?
I concur with bricksexplode (or Josh, his actual name). (And also, creepily enough, he and I have practically the same take and story about Wake Up Ron Burgandy.) Even as a 10-year-old kid, the second Mighty Ducks movie was so implausible to me that it ruined all of the good feelings created in the first one. The series morphed from a plausible story of a team of misfits to a ridiculous farce of a movie with no basis in reality. The final installment is actually somewhat realistic, but I am apparently the only person in the world who enjoys watching it.

The first movie, while no cinematic masterpiece, was a great movie of its type. Just about any kid can relate to being a sort of outcast portrayed in the movie, especially a geeky young kid like myself. Even though I never had (and still haven't) ice skated, there are obvious parallels between other sports and other movies - Little League (The Bad News Bears), Pop Warner football (Little Giants, even though it came out later), basketball (... um, I'm sure there is one I'm forgetting).

It also had a memorable cast of characters with easily-identifiable counterparts in my everyday life. While they weren't exact matches with my friends, there were shared traits: the brash-talking Jessie, the smart-alecky Averman, the fat kid no one actually wanted to hang out with (Goldberg), and the big tough guy Fulton. There was also the subtly-hot Connie, who turned into the actually hot Marguerite Moreau. She has been in 43 credited roles, yet I'm fairly certain I've only ever seen her in The Mighty Ducks films. Everyone also has a friend like Connie - You know she is kind of normal-looking now, but for no discernible reason except for a hunch, you know she will eventually be drop-dead gorgeous.

But let me digress from my sexist digression to the actual topic I started out with. D1 is the classic underdog tale, on ice, and you feel great when they win the championship. The story is as predictible as a Subway sandwich - what else would you expect from Disney, or from a $5 footlong? - but ultimately somewhat believable and satisfying.

The second is just pure "let's make a buck!" fuckery that made me eventually dislike all these movies from Disney. As bricksexplode brings up, the most ludicrous idea is that a team that barely made the playoffs in a Minnesota youth hockey league would represent the United States. I grew up in the woods of Rhode Island, and even our Little League all-star team that would try to qualify for the Little League World Series would be a combination of the best players from all the league's teams. (Speaking to my athletic prowess as a kid, I never came close to making one.)

Deciding to just reunite the whole team is so transparent and shitty, and the opening scenes are some of the worst of the movie. Looking back at it as a 25-year-old, there are a couple plausible ways you could do it. First, instead of setting the movie in Los Angeles, why not have these games come to Minnesota? Then it is more plausible that you'd have to use the Ducks. Or, failing that, at least have some flashback scenes with the Ducks winning a couple regional tournaments and earning their way to L.A. Or, because the kids all live in the same area, and are roughly the same age, why not just have the sequel take place (brace yourself) a year later? Because I had played Little League, D2 immediately seemed fake to me, because even as a kid I realized that shit with L.A. would never happen.

Okay though, looking past that - What the fuck did Iceland ever do to you, Disney? Like, seriously, it is bad enough that they have a horrible, false country name (according to, Iceland is roughly the same weather-wise as New England right now). Hey Mouse, why do you have to shit all over them by making them the obviously-Soviet Union inspired enemy? Either make up a fake country or leave the Icelanders alone.

Anyway, the Ducks recruit some players from other parts of the country for no good reason. I mean, non-movie, they're to include some non-white people in the cast, but in-movie, Gordon Bombay hates them and barely plays any of them. I don't think most return for the third movie, which is great, except for the Goon, who is clearly not even close to being the right age for D2 and D3. The Ducks also recruit a young, trash-talking Kenan Thompson in his film debut, and he is kind of OK despite using a preposterous shot. Also, really, he's playing street hockey out in L.A.? Not basketball? Not skateboarding? Not surfing? L.A. does have that intense hockey tradition, after all.

The whole movie is effing absurd, and if you like D2 the most out of the three, I don't know what's wrong with you. Pull yourself together! Oddly enough, I think it was too much overt zaniness even for Disney, because they went the opposite direction for D3. I actually like that movie because it is super serious and (shockingly) focuses on hockey from time to time. It is plausible (at least in terms of the movie world) that a private school would recruit the Ducks, because the dominant Rhode Island private schools mostly cherry pick their athletes from Rhode Island public schools. D3 also has some redeeming value with the introduction of their new coach. He lacks the charm of Gordon Bombay, but he is an interesting character at least.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The underground soap market

I was replacing the soap in the shower today, as I often do – I enjoy bathing, I must say. Anyway, while doing this, I noticed a curious phrase on the box: Not for individual sale. This immediately made my mind race.

First, if Dove is putting this on the box, it must mean that they've had a problem with it. I mean, otherwise they could have used that space for something more valuable, like some cheesy saying. “Fly among the heavens with Dove.” I believe David Cross or Gallagher (I've got range in the comedians I enjoy) made the same analogy with some ridiculous warning label and McDonald's coffee.

Second, I wonder if these is some elicit soap trade that I just don't know about. The only time I have ever thought about the creation of soap was when they had a few scenes about it in Fight Club, and frankly, I was too busy watching Ed Norton and Brad Pitt beat the shit out of each other to really analyze the soap scenes. (As an aside though, I find Fight Club to beat horribly overrated now. Trading a commercially-oppressive world for one that is full of anarchy and bleakly militaristic seems, at best, a push to me.)

I've never really noticed a big difference from soap brand to soap brand, although some of my ex'es only like to buy a certain kind. Then again, I'm a boy, and I don't even use chapstick, so I might not be an authority on this subject. Maybe there is a flourishing underground market and trade, where people barter five bars of Dove straight-up for three bars of Ivory and four Coasts. It is more interesting to believe that this fanciful market exists, at least in my mind.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fat guys

For no particular reason outside of needing more books to read, I've recently been reading two biographies about fat guys. Elvis: The Final Years by Jerry Hopkins is rather self-explanatory, yet incredibly interesting to me, since I have no real knowledge of Elvis' material.

Well, actually, I shouldn't say that I'm completely ignorant of the King. My mind works like a sponge when it comes to pop culture trivia, so of course I've sucked up some bits about Elvis. Before reading this (somewhat) authorized biography, I knew he had a couple songs – “Jailhouse Rock” and “Hound Dog” that either created movies or arose out of them. I knew that when he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, he had to be filmed from the waist up because his dance moves were too scandalous for the audience at home. I knew that he had Colonel Parker, a flashy, entertaining promoter, who was kind of like the white Don King.

Whenever I'm reading a biography, I always look for a balanced account of a person, and Hopkins' fares pretty well in this regard. While he is very detailed about Elvis' generosity, it doesn't seem over-the-top, and it is balanced with all the pill binges and temper tantrums from his final years. Hopkins does his best to break up the cyclical nature of a music biography – go to town, perform, go to next town, perform, rest, etc. – with stories about Elvis' early days and his excess.

For example, instead of starting out with mundane details about Elvis' life growing up and military service, Hopkins gives the background and sets the scene for the King's famous meeting with the nastiest U.S. President of all-time, Richard Nixon. (For more on Nixon, read anything by Hunter S. Thompson from the 1970s. Nixon will always be my famous president because of all the sleazy things he did; there is sort of a sad humor to it all.) Elvis arranged the meeting with Nixon to offer his services as a sort of double-agent, able to infiltrate the music industry to help curb rampant illegal drug usage and anti-Americanism. The irony is that Elvis was almost surely on quite the drug cocktail himself at the time, albeit a vaguely-legal one, since his many uppers and downers were all prescribed.

The Elvis book really shines when it tells these sorts of stories, and I also enjoyed how it sprinkled in little tidbits and anecdotes in the context of the times. Whenever Elvis performed, janitors would have to deal with hundreds of pairs of soiled underwear left behind by the female audience members, which is hilarious to the seven-year-old part of my humor. Also interesting was the description of an Elvis “record” production. On any given record in the 1970s, only a few songs would be true originals, and almost none would feature just Elvis singing. Almost every record was comprised primarily of material first recorded by other artists, or featured songs that Elvis had already recorded decades ago. The money-making schemes by artists of today are nothing compared to Elvis and Colonel Parker.

The other biography is a bit more by the numbers and traditional, but since the topic is Alfred Hitchcock, it is still an engrossing read. It is more than 600 pages though, densely packed with information in standard type, so it is slow going through it. I've finished about 200 pages in two days, a slow pace for me, and Hitch still hasn't made it to America, so there has been no reference to the films I actually know of – The Birds, Psycho and North by Northwest. Reading about his British films is interesting – I now want to check out The Man Who Knew Too Much, for example – but I still do have a sense of “When do I get to the good stuff?” hanging over my reading. I'm willing to stick with it for now, primarily because the remaining library books I have out are kind of fluffy books about some of the worst films of all-time.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Why Dirty Dancing is my favorite chick flick

At several points, I've been asked what my favorite chick flick, and my answer is always Dirty Dancing. Or, in differing circumstances, I've been accused of liking none of them, because I hate The Notebook, or I've boasted that I'm awesome (not my exact words) because of my love for Dirty Dancing.

Now, as far as Dirty Dancing and I go, it is actually a surprisingly good movie. Despite its logic gaps – Patrick Swayze is definitely more mid-20s and Jennifer Grey is 17/18, which is creepy, and the weird miscarriage / abortion scene in the middle feels very out-of-place – the movie has some great, unforgettable scenes, especially toward the end. Jerry Orbach (a.k.a. Lenny Briscoe from Law and Order) is an especially great supporting character, as the gruff dad of Baby who is gradually won over. He also has the best line in the movie, when he apologizes to Swayze at the end: When I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong.

However, this would just make Dirty Dancing a good movie. In this regard, other chick flicks like Ten Things I Hate About You and Say Anything are just as good. In fact, if I was judging solely based on quality, then Say Anything would have to be at the top of my list. It is warm and affectionate, with genuine chemistry between John Cusack and Ione Skye, the most gorgeous 1980s actress. (Not hot or sexy – That feels like too lurid of a term to use for her.) It features the boom box scene, which is even better than any moment in Dirty Dancing, and the story is more realistic and doesn't take the easy way out.

But Dirty Dancing will always top my list because it is the first time I watched a movie with a girl in a romantic way. I've always found that my feelings, emotions and surroundings coming into a movie can effect my enjoyment of it, and this was definitely one of those cases.

To set the scene, it was during the bus ride up to Quebec City in 2000, when I was in 10th grade and 16 years old. For some reason, a girl in my French III class, a junior named Heather, was kind of flirty and affectionate toward me the entire way up. And, for some reason, we managed to be snuggled together and next to each other under a blanket at one point while watching Dirty Dancing. It was a three day trip, and for most of the trip, we were around one another, kind of flirty and playful in that awkward teenage way, at least from my end.

Nothing really illicit happened – Setting up a horrible condition that plagues me to present time, I clearly had an opening to kiss several times, but never pulled it off. And once we were back at school, the magic dissipated completely. I have no idea what she found attractive about me then, and why it switched off so quickly. (I was definitely into her because she was very attractive and had a sweet personality.) We probably exchanged 10 words before this trip, and 10 words after in the remaining months of school, and she went to another school or dropped out her senior year. (We didn't hang out in the same social circles, but I got the impression she dated dirtbags and generally had issues with her family.) On a whim, I tried to Facebook her a year or two ago, but her name is so common that it was impossible to find. (If you're from Chariho and reading this, ask me and I'll divulge her last name.)

Now, the point of this entry wasn't to try to dredge up the past in hopes of reviving something (but if you are reading this, and are still attractive and single, then by all means contact me), but instead to explore the phenomenon of association. I've always been fascinated by it since it happens to me a lot. Sticking to my love life, I don't like to listen to “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd as much ever since a bad break-up decision on my part, and while Ten Things I Hate About You is a great movie, it makes me cringe at times because it reminds me of my first date, who I saw this movie with, and who I was hopelessly over my head with.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Channel surfing and geekdom

- The other night I was watching the Kill Bill marathon on TNT, and I thought, "This is so unrealistic, there is no way they'd let her carry that samurai sword on the plane!" Then I pondered and thought about of all the things in the movie that are ridiculous, yet I seemingly keyed in on that one.

- They have been playing commercials for some Chipmunks CD every five minutes on ESPN. Like, seriously? I can't imagine there is that much overlap between demographics.

- I played through the Chrono Trigger remake for the DS recently, and it really was splendid. If you have a DS, you need to get it, because it is worth the $40. The extra features, like FMV and four more dungeons, are neat enough, and it's cheaper to get this version than the original SNES. Oh, and the PSX version sucks compared to this one.

- My feet have been killing me because of the court I've played basketball on lately. It's indoors, at an old elementary school near me, and the floor is made out of this 60-year-old rubber. It's so springy that you sink in just a bit when you try to jump or come to a stop, and as a result, my calves have also been killing me. It also means I shoot even worse than normal, but on the plus side, it forces me to focus on the defensive end, since I can't play offense as well.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Guilty Pleasures - TV Funhouse, Home Movies and Lookwell

The always classy Wonderman.

Lately, I've had three TV shows / shorts in heavy rotation on my computer / DVD player.

1) TV Funhouse, both the SNL skit and the standalone show that ran on Comedy Central for a year. Both are primarily created and voiced by Robert Smigel, aka Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. The SNL version is normally more political and related to current events, and generally of much higher quality. My favorite would be Conspiracy Theory Rock, which has an added level of ironic humor because it *was* edited out of future broadcasts by NBC / General Electric.

The Comedy Central show doesn't hit the highs of the SNL version, which is to be expected because it stretched Smigel to half-hour segments. The show is a combination of a crude mockery of Blue's Clues, with an incredibly docile host interacting with Truimph-like animal puppets, and Smigel's cartoons. The mock host segments are very hit-or-miss, and go so over-the-top with vomit and drug and animal testing jokes that they're hard to stomach at times. But the cartoons are consistently funny - Wonderman is a good example of the funnier cartoons.

2) Home Movies, which I've been putting in my away message like crazy. This actually lasted about four seasons, and focuses on Brendan, an eight-year-old making movies with his friends Jason and Melissa.

A lot of their skits are hit-or-miss, so Coach McGuirk (H. Jon Benjamin) really makes the show. Click here for his take on swearing, losing, women, prison and drugs.

3) Lookwell, a failed TV pilot by Smigel and Conan O'Brien, starring Adam West as a washed-up TV actor. A shocking stretch, I know. Only one episode was ever made, and it's on a lot of trackers and on YouTube. If you like Adam West on Family Guy, then imagine that for 22 minutes. I'll end with some good Lookwell quotes:

Ty Lookwell to a police officer: Perhaps if you watched a little bit more television you'd be better at your job.

Ty Lookwell: The working class mind is strange and unpredictable.

Ty Lookwell, as he's being arrested: I'm not a car thief I'm an actor!


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