Friday, November 26, 2010

Chance of Brightest Day, Most Likely Blackest Night

The trailer for the first live-action Green Lantern movie came out last weekend. Unfortunately though, when I call it live-action, I am using the term loosely. And this greatly disappoints me.

I am, of course a bit of sci-fi, comic book dork and in the realm of the superhero universe, Green Lantern was my childhood favorite. Superman was an incredibly boring and unimaginative character and Batman was just too mainstream for my taste. I wanted a B-level star to call my own and Green Lantern fit the bill (my choice of Green Lantern over Batman was for the same nonconformist reason that I chose to root for the New Orleans Saints and Houston Astros despite growing up around Pittsburgh and the greatest sport franchises of all time) . I was sold on the galactic policeman. Of course the cartoons that my fandom was built on didn't contain any of that confusing Book of Oa backstory. Just a man and his ring. But by the time I found out that Green Lantern wasn't that special in the comic book world, one of thousands that include a dog, a squirrel, and a cucumber, he had been imprinted on my amygdala. With the kind of brainwashing that only childhood cartoons can provide, I was very excited to hear that a Green Lantern movie was on the way. Of course, at this point my hopes should have been as high as a Democrat on election day but the lessons of G.I. Joe:Rise of Cobra and Transformers 2 didn't seem to fully set in.

The casting of Ryan Reynolds should have been the first warning sign. Yes, Hal Jordan is a cocky test pilot but the Green Lantern of Hal Jordan and John Stewart are definitely serious stalwart fellows. There is no such authority exuded by the Sexiest Man Alive (or Dead for that matter - I can't imagine a dead body being very sexy). He is the jokey, snarky, ironic guy. Just because Iron Man was such a hit, doesn't mean every superhero from here on out has to be Sherlock Holmes as Tony Stark. But I always like Reynolds going back to his days as a guy in a pizza place so I was willing to overlook Hal Jordan as a poorman's Stark minus the alcoholism. Then I saw the preview.....If they were going to use so much cheap CG, why not just make it an animated feature and call it a day. They couldn't even be bothered to fashion a real suit for GL out of real materials. They had to paint him up like on of the girls in the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit issue. It looked horrible. When the next step after the three new Star Wars movies was the Cartoon Network's Clone Wars. I made complete sense. Nothing looked real in those movies. You might as well forget the expensive actors and just make it all computerized. And that is what we have with the Green Lantern movie. A whole lot of really fake looking CG done at the discount rate compared to the cost of Star Wars. If you were going to do this, why not just make another cartoon movie. At least Green Lantern has several options for his Jar Jar.

This blog post is sponsored by Ferris Aircraft.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Who Says TV Isn't Educational

It is very likely that if you are fan of musical theater, you are fan of Glee. I know I'm that toe tapping kind of guy. A weekly song and dance extravaganza staged with tongue firmly implanted in cheek. What is not to like? Well, I will tell you in two words, Will Schuester, the most annoyingly awful main character a popular show has had to bear since Joel Fleischman. It is not clear whether it is the actor or the script that has led to such repulsion but what appears on screen is a most hateable personage unlike anything outside of Wysteria Lane. The first season presented us with a hapless sap with little backbone but the second season of the show has advanced him to a selfish, self-serving whelp with little redeeming value. And every time they try to find an excuse to feature him in one for the show's main pieces, he comes off as if he assembled the entire Glee club in a desperate bid to finally feel like the cool kid in high school (And wow was his rendition of Make 'Em Laugh just painful to watch). A sorry little creature. He is a fantastic argument for home schooling. Let's just hope the rest of the show doesn't go the way of the Schue although the last couple of episodes have shown a troublesome trend. The Kurt storylines have been both heavyhanded and predictable while this week's substitute episode had breakneck shifts between plot points was all over the map. But as long as they keep filling their hours with classics of rock like below I will be there.

Side complaint - As great as Hulu is for subverting commercial TV, it is still a shame their clips have a freshness label on them. It won't be too long in the future until the above highlight becomes non-functional. And won't we all be a little worse off for the loss.

Now for the unreplicated genius of the original source material as well as the best of this lot of educational diddies. "I'm Just a Bill" gives you a better understanding of our form of government than any civics class. Plus it rocks.

This blog post is sponsored by Rapunzhair.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Even if Lebron would have stayed, Cleveland would still be the saddest place on Earth

Yes, "The Decision" has a horrible debacle of excess, ego, and ignorance. Yes, the notion that any other team was being given honest consideration as a final destination was a sham. Yes, the whole fabricated fascination with LeBron's free agency gave the false impression that the NBA was more than the a gussied up version of pro wrestling (aka the outcomes are fixed) that only matters to a dedicated niche population. But in the end, I have to say I respect the final decision that David Stern made and passed off as LeBron's. To see a free agent decision come down to something other than dollars is so rare, I think you have to take notice and give a little golf clap. To take a little less to play with friends and create a unique experiment in how to make up a professional sports team is incredibly interesting and worth watching. And the noise that was made the likes of Jordan and Magic that they would never, I mean never ever (heaven to betsy, how could you even imagine it to be so), give up being the alpha dog and seek out a situation like LeBron has with Wade in order to win a title. That is why Magic demanded to be traded away Kareem and Worthy and why Jordan pushed for Pippen to be sent packing. To prove that they could win a title on their own. Not like that quitter LeBron. Oh, wait they didn't do that did they. And Jordan's days without that strong supporting cast in Washington didn't really work out either. The rhetoric was all so disingenuous. Sure the new Miami Heat haven't set the world on fire yet but I at least am paying some attention to America's fifth most popular sport.

Of course there is the other side of the LeBron equation, Cleveland. That sad little shell of a town. Football team that can be proud that they are now good enough to lose respectfully and a baseball team that is very similar to the Indians at the being of the movie "Major League". I guess the good news is they still have their bustling tourism industry as evidenced by the below video.

This blog post is sponsored by Bromley Marks Pharmaceuticals.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

One More Turn - Then I Will Come to Bed

I am in full recovery right now. I have not partaken in the forbidden fruit for several years. But there was a time when I had it bad. Really bad. It had taken over my life. I was obsessed with it. During those brief periods of time when I wasn't occupied with it, I was pondering when I would be able to get back to it. I couldn't stop thinking about it. Minutes would turn into hours and before I had spent all night cranking away at my addiction. Heck to call it an addiction is to terribly understate the situation. Of course I speak of that dark period of my life after I was introduced to the game, nay, way of life called Civilization.

It was during my freshman year when my roommate first introduced me to it and I was hooked on site. I had always loved the board game Risk and had a brief fling with Axis and Allies so I was easy pickings. Civ, as the cool kids call it, combined all the best features of those progenitors with modern technologies. Allowing your conquering forces to grow and evolve. To build your empire with actual cities named after yourself and dead pets. And all this was in the Stone Ages of the internet when the game was all single player. It was only the best game since Tecmo Bowl. And that is why the below ad for the newest version of the game speaks to me. I am those people. As my wife can attest, there were many a night when she would call down to me at 3:00 in morning to ask when I was coming to bed and I would answer in return, "Just one more turn."

This blog post is sponsored by Shards O'Glass Freeze Pops.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Fathers Day

Any father that is willing to go to this length to deliver a stuffed animal to his daughter deserves to be honored on this day.

Why didn't he just put the bunny back in the box?

This blog post is sponsored by M&M Enterprises, Fine Fruits and Produce.

Award for Best Use of a Tuba

Since I am on the topic of high quality musical numbers from Saturday Night Live, I had to highlight this bit of high art. It has got everything or at least everything that matters to me. Nostalgia for a well remembered piece of pop iconitry. Close but not quite over exposed Dr. Horrible. Overproducing what had typically been considered background noise to a ridiculous level. If only all iconic TV theme songs got such treatment.

This blog post is sponsored by Morley Cigarettes.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bowl Season Wrap-up - Slightly Delayed - Again

With the Big12 barely clinging two life, I thought it might be a good idea to finally finish this post that I started back in January. Two years back, I did a round up of the BCS bowl games by compiling the records of the different conferences. I repeated this little exercise with the results from the 2009-2010 bowl season but to make up for the missing year I also did a cumulative record from the past 3 years. So, is there anything here of interest? Well, the not quite departed but surely to be renamed Big 12 has enjoyed both more recent and long term success than the two conferences that stole their teams. But then again, the moves of those teams weren't driven by seeking a more winning tradition. A bigger TV paycheck was the draw. Oh yeah, and academic alliances - and if you believe that I have some picturesque Louisiana beach front property to sell you. In fact, the two teams that bolted weren't the ones really driving that success of the conference so if anything, they left for a conference that gives them a better chance at winning.

But what I think is the most striking thing about the below results and the recent realignment announcements is what is happening with the Mountain West Conference. The success of the MWC puts the Big East and ACC to shame. They should not be begging to be included in the BCS. The Big East and ACC should be begging to remain a BCS conference. And now the MWC has added Boise State, the most successful non-BCS school outside of the MWC. Yet the MWC is still a second class conference. Ahhh, yet another reason to pay very little attention to college sports. They make money like professionals. They chase money like professionals. They give lip service to the student athlete but care for their education as much semi-intelligent individuals cared for the Lost finale. And they treat the everyone like a typical Glen Beck fan by thinking we will fall for the line that they actually care about crowning the best team as champion. As I have said before, I have no problem with the old bowl system. It never gave us a definitive champion but then it never pretended to. The current system that relegates the MWC to the ghettos of college football with the likes of Northern Illinois and Toledo insults everyone's intelligence.

Final College Football Bowl Standings

Conference W L GB
MWC 5 1
SEC 6 4 1
Big East 4 2 1
Big Ten 4 3 1.5
Ind 1 0 1.5
Big12 4 4 2
Sun Belt 1 1 2
ACC 3 4 2.5
WAC 1 2 2.5
C-USA 2 4 3
Pac10 2 5 3.5
MAC 1 4 3.5

Bowl Season Performance - 2007-2009

Conference W L GB
SEC 19 8 -
MWC 12 4 1.5
Big 12 13 7 2.5
Pac-10 11 7 3.5
Sun Belt 3 2 5
Ind. 2 2 5.5
Big Ten 11 12 6
C-USA 8 10 6.5
Big East 8 11 7
WAC 3 9 8.5
ACC 9 16 9
MAC 1 12 11

This blog post is sponsored by International Genetic Technologies, Incorporated.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's Saturday Night !!!

Despite Saturday Night Live's long history of producing comedy superstars, it has an equally long history of not being funny. With each passing year, critics like to sound the bell that Saturday Night Live has lost its way. It relies to heavily on catch-phrase spewing stereotypes. Skits are based on a single joke stretched out for 5 minutes. The skits meander with no real ending. Blah. Blah. Blah. The complaints don't change. Just the date on the columns. The problem is the complaints could justifiably apply to any year of the show's existence. It has always been the way it is currently described. Our collective memory is just clouded because of the post-SNL success of the actors. Because they are funny now, they must have been hilarious on the show. And then when they cherry pick the best parts of the few good comedy bits for those retrospectives, our distorted memory is confirmed. From the Eddie Murphy era to the Will Ferrell era to the glorious current rein of the Fred Armisten era, the show was and is 95% awful on a weekly basis. The current version of the show only has two parts that work. The Weekend Update is always worthwhile although it was at its best when it paired Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Secondly, SNL does musical comedy well, particularly as part of their internet-driven Digital Shorts. Surprisingly, one of my favorite resent musical jokes came outside of this format in a normal skit. I have to say, I continue to laugh when I see. In fact it was so good that is accomplished the primary goal of all SNL shows, to advertise and sell its host and musical guest. I was so taken with the tune that I went looking for a Micheal Buble song that sported the same melody and what I found wasn't half bad.

This blog post is sponsored by MacMillian Toys.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together

I first became acquainted with Star Trek through syndicated reruns of the "Star Trek Classic". The timing of my introduction to the 5 year voyage couldn't have been more perfect as it came within spitting distance of the premiere of Star Trek:The Next Generation. Because of my temporal proximity to first adventures of the USS Enterprise, I had to check out the new intellectual property. TGN, as the cool people refer to it, took the original concept and built a show that was actually worthy of it. In fact, it was so far beyond the original in quality that it was hard to believe they came from the gene pool. Heck, TGN cast an actual actor instead of a pompous hack at the head of impressive cast of memorable characters such as nerdy son of the ship's doctor that grows up to be time traveling demigod and proliferative blogger, a ship's engineer that teaches kids to read in his spare time, and, my favorite, the omnipotent Q. Sure every Star Trek series to follow TGN, including critics' favorite Deep Space Nine, was a pale imitation of TGN and a waste of hours of my time, but the sheer joy of a weekly sci-fi show with brains when there were no other sci-fi shows on TV will live with me for a long time. The fact that TGN featured the best ever series premiere-series finale bookends doesn't hurt either. It is just too bad they could never successfully translate TGN to big screen, necessitating that overpraised, underwhelming, and internally illogical Star Trek reboot of this last summer (I never would have thought a young Captain Kirk would have such an effeminate speaking voice). At least J.J. Abrams didn't use the bomb in the brain gimmick for the 15th time in this movie.

I say all this to set up the following clip. A mash-up of that same overpraised, underwhelming, and internally illogical Star Trek reboot with the A-team theme song. The A-team - a gloriously cheesy 80's show that I ate up as a kid. Of course they really don't make shows that light weight any more. Too bad. (By the way, the new A-Team movie looks down right awful)

Make it so Number One.

This blog post is sponsored by Biffco Enterprises.