Serious as a heart attack.

Hey y'all. I probably don't have much in the way of regular readers these days and I guess I can understand that. My idiotic medical woes continue. I'll post a Reader's Digest version online in the days to come, for those who give a hoot.

The Bazooka Joe comic version boils down to me resting at home, recovering from my chest and lung infection. When I wasn't looking, a mass of fluid built up in the lung again--so much so at it kicked off a minor heart attack. It was so minor that I didn't know that I'd had one until they told me in the hospital.

Anyway, I hope everyone is happy and healthy. I know that's my goal :)


I'm torn...

As I plod along, healing from the big stupid sickness that almost killed me, I'm torn over if I should write or not. I am a writer. It's just about all I know how to do. I think.

But I really don't feel like writing. With the exception of scribbling down stray ideas in the spiral notebook on my night stand, I have no desire to sit down at the computer and let my fingers fly like in the old days.

I've tried a couple of times and the result read like I was typing with a pair of boxing gloves on. I don't have the internal drive I used to have. But I'm torn because I think I should write anyway, even if it is nothing but crap, to try and get my head back in the game. I honestly feel like I should just stay away from the computer and wait. I should keep taking the bucket of pills the doctors give me and stretch out on the couch until I build myself back up both in body and mind.

I've got a really great concept for a new young adult novel that I'm dying to write, but I know if I try to pound it out it's going to read like it was written by a sick dude who's brain is fogged in by the many drugs he's forced to take.

I think I'll wait. I'll do my physical therapy exercises and work to work on building back up my core strength, and then I'll plop down on the couch and play some tennis or golf on my WII until it's nap time. Hey, speaking of Wii, which I just was, does anyone have any games they wanna loan me for a week or two? Money is tight these days so I haven't been able to buy any or even rent them. I'll take good care of them if they can come over and visit.

Speaking of money, so far the bills for my month-long hospital visit is nearing $800,000 bucks. Cool, eh? Although it would be really bitchin' if it his an even million. Even with Blue Cross covering the majority of the bill, my end is going to take a few dozen years to pay off.

I'm tired. Be good, y'all.

Good lord I complain a lot. Did you ever notice that? I did.


I've been sick...

The last six weeks have been hell, but I'm on the road to recovery and will return...unless I don't, which would be tragic, right?


A happy surprise for me to enjoy.

The other day we were renting movies and Valarie grabbed a copy of Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto. That was fine for her, I thought, but certainly not for me. While she was watching her little slice of Mayan mayhem I could go down to the den and polish my penny collection.

Long story short, I happened to start watching it with her and I never left the room. I was captivated. In addition to a touching love story and buckets of brutal and bloody action, there was a surprising amount of humor.

How much great stuff do I miss out on due to prejudging? Probably a lot.

Please talk amongst yourselves…

The Fountain--an art house classic or a tragic misfire? Everyone I’ve discussed it with is leaning in the same direction. I think the boat is about ready to tip over.



The weirdest thing that’s happened to me today…so far…as of 4:24 pm…

So there I am, minding my own business when I receive an email from a complete stranger who requests a minor favor. No, he’s not from Nigeria and he didn’t request my social security number and bank account number. What he did request is that I sign a bunch of comic books for him.
I can’t remember the last time I had a comic published. It was either the Valiant/Voyager books or the X-Men series from the mid-90s. By that time in my life I was writing a lot of interactive computer games (where I was earning a bunch of money and getting lots of respect) and I simply didn’t have the time or energy to deal with the prima donna high school interns turned editors who were working on my books and making me jump through hoops I was too big for.

Every once in a while I think it would be fun to write another Iron Man script or come up with a new comic book universe, like the one I did at Majestic, but I do believe that ship has long since sailed. It’s such a different business these days I wouldn’t know where to begin.

Anyway, back to the favor. Because I’m stupid/smart enough to have my legit email address attached to this blog, I get some odd mail, including from my new friend Bobby from Texas who would very much like to send me a bunch of comics that I’ve written over the years for my autograph. He says he just finished up his run of Rust comics on eBay.
I don’t have a problem with people buying their favorite comic books on eBay. I buy my share of toys and more Mission: Impossible memorabilia than is probably healthy, off the site. But the notion of someone hunting down and paying three or four bucks plus shipping for some of my comics is just plain weird. Contacting me for my home address so they can get them signed is even weirder (or perhaps simply more weird).
I don’t know what to do. Texas is a healthy distance from California. Should I let him send me the books? If I do should I put out an extra plate setting for dinner tomorrow because Good Old Bobby will be here with his sawed-off and suitcase of body parts?

If I’m never heard from again, have the cops check my email account for clues to tracking down Bobby in Texas. My hotmail password is: StinkyCheesePants123Blastoff007


More cheese, please... Lots more!

Just a few days ago I was complaining about how overly long Hot Fuzz was, but that's the opposite of how I felt about Spider-Man 3. Even though it was hampered by a host of problems that would take days to nit-pick, I simply didn't care. The film had me hooked from frame one and I would have gladly sat in the theater for another three or for hours without complaining.

Everything about this movie was great--even the stuff that was crap. I haven't felt this satisfied by a movie in a long time.

Wallopin' web-snappers!


Shave the Fuzz down a little, m'kay?

It took three days of serious thinking (not counting toilet breaks) for me to figure out what was wrong with Hot Fuzz.

Are you ready?

Of course you are.

I wanted to like Hot Fuzz like a fat boy likes cake—a lot! But when the credits finally got around to rolling, there I sat broken hearted. Val was disappointed as well. I think the biggest problem with the movie was that Shawn of the Dead had made so stinkin’ much money—first in the theaters and then on video.

I think that if Shawn had been a more modest success, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg would have been given a more modest budget for Hot Fuzz.

Hot Fuzz would have been twice as funny if it were half as long. This is my theory.

I found myself bored and checking my watch before Simon Pegg’s character finally gets shipped out of London. Sure, there were some good laughs in that sequence, but they could have simmered it down to the bare bones and delivered it to us before the opening credits were over. Then, when Pegg and his trusty plant arrive in Sandford, we have to sit through another painfully extensive sequence to introduce all the characters and settings—and wow, what a lot of characters there are.

As trim and taut Shawn of the Dead was, Hot Fuzz is flabby and lazy. There are dozens of scenes (and characters) that could have been totally excised from the film and they would never be missed.

I don’t want to sound like the nag that I am, but when Fuzz comes out on DVD it would be great if there were a version that ran about a half hour shorter.

God, what a nag I am.


X marks the Fox...

Okay, there's no debating that he's one of the most talented spinal surgeons on the planet, But, now we're also supposed to believe that he's a top notch race car driver who secretly works for a branch of the government that's so top secret that it doesn't have an offical name or designation?

I like Matthew Fox but I thought for years now that it was Vince Vaughn who was pushing to make this movie happen--just so he could play Racer X. Maybe the studio suits thought that Vaughn wouldn't be taken seriously enough.


The Incredible, Edible Hulk…

I like Edward Norton. I like him a lot. His performance in American History X chilled me to the bone and he flat out stole The People vs. Larry Flynt away from Woody Harrelson. I didn’t necessarily like Rounders and Fight Club but even so, he was great in them.

He brings an edge to his characters that many of his contemporaries are incapable of generating.

That said, do I think this immensely talented actor can successfully portray scientific dishrag Bruce Banner? Nope. Not in a month of leap years.

I think when it comes to casting for a movie or television show, you can almost hear an audible click when you find the right person for the role. Christopher Reeve as Superman--Click. Toby Maguire as Spider-Man--Click. Ian McKellen as Galdalf—Double Click. Michael Caine as Alfred Pennywise--Click. Eric Bana as Bruce Banner—A Mild Click. The cast of Sin City—Multiple Clicks. Edward Norton as Bruce Banner—Silence…Crickets Chirping…More Silence.

My movie-going Spidey sense is screaming at me that Edward Norton is dead wrong for Bruce Banner. Of course it’s betrayed me before. I never believed that Hugh Jackman was going to be a credible Logan/Wolverine. Jackman is not at all who/what I had for everyone’s favorite crazy Canadian, but I’m happy to have been proven wrong. I hope it happens again.


Kinda weird looking, but it's a start...

With any luck we'll only be seeing this suit of armor in a quick origin flashback. I'm still nervous over what the modern suit will look like. I guess I should go worry about something more important.

But still...this is Iron Man we're talking about...and there's a pretty good chance that this is going to be his only shot at a movie...so it's not too much to ask that it rock.

Sometimes it's so hard being a nerd.


Let’s forget about doing live action versions of comic books for a while…

With the advent of CG imagery, has there ever been a better time to be a movie maker, period?

Look at the colossal amount s of grief Orson Wells went through to get Citizen Kane up on the big screen. Today a fairly competent kid with a couple of jacked up iMacs could get the job done on a long holiday weekend.

Always one to do things a dollar late and typically a dollar short, I finally saw the big screen version of 300 today.

I rarely say such things, but at one point I whispered over to Valarie that there was just too damn much stuff going on. The director put the ‘bomb’ into bombastic, which is exactly what a movie like this needs, but still…my petty human brain can only wrap itself around too much stimuli. The same thing started to happen toward the end of Barman Returns.

If movie makers are going to start using these sophisticated tools, I’m going to have to start stepping up to the challenge or Watchman will put me into the hospital for the over stimulated.

Oh, in case I didn’t mention it, I thought 300 rocked.


If this isn't a hoax I'm going to be sick...

I've done a quick check of all the hoax sites and can't find any sign of this being a joke--

A father-of-two hanged himself live over the internet in Britain's first 'cyber suicide'.
Kevin Whitrick, 42, took his life after being goaded by dozens of chatroom users from across the world who initially believed he was play acting.
But as they watched in horror, Mr Whitrick climbed onto a chair, smashed through a ceiling and then hanged himself with a piece of rope.
Kevin Neil Whitrick, 42, was found dead by police in Wellington, after being alerted by a web user who is thought to have watched in horror as the man harmed himself
Stunned by what they had witnessed - broadcast on a popular chatroom website used by millions of people across the globe - chatroom users immediately contacted the police.
Officers rushed to the electrician's home in the Wellington area of Shropshire within minutes, smashing down the door to try to save him.
But despite their efforts to save him, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Last night it emerged that Mr Whitrick had been suffering from depression after being badly injured in a car crash last year.
Friends said that the breakdown of his marriage with wife, Paula - with whom he had 12-year-old twins - and the recent death of his father had also been causing him some distress.
Mr Whitrick told users of web-chat site PalTalk what he was going to do two hours before he killed himself on Wednesday night.
He was logged on with around 50 other users to a special "insult" chatroom where people "have a go at each other".
Today distraught users of the site said that they felt sick and had previously thought the web broadcast was a hoax.
They confirmed Mr Whitrick told friends in the internet chat room of his plans to kill himself but, thinking he was joking, they egged him on telling him to make sure the his webcam was on.
Mr Whitrick, using the user-name Shyboy-17-1, switched on his webcam and went ahead with his grisly plan.
One anonymous user said: "He tied a rope around an uncovered ceiling joist and stood on the chair as he tied the rope around his neck.
"Some of us chatroom users, talking to Kevin over text chat, microphones and video tried to convince him to step down, but others egged him on telling him to get on with it.
"We just couldn't believe he was doing it - it was surreal.
"One chatter said: 'F***ing do it, get on with it, get it round your neck. For F***'s sake he can't even do this properly'."
Another user who did not wish to be named said: "When Kevin stepped off the chair and was left dangling, the mood in the chatroom changed and people began to realise what they had just seen.


And you thought George Lucas had a big goiter?

This dude from China puts Lucas to shame. The paper says that the guy lived with it for seventeen years before he decided to see a doctor about it.


If you've run out of things to collect...

I wasn't aware of the massive number of 'life masks' that were available to collect and call your own. I stumbled across a bunch of them on eBay and they run the gambit from Abraham Lincoln to Tom Cruise.

Below you'll find Angelina Jolie, Christopher Walken and David Bowie. I can only imagine what people are doing with the Jolie mask.

Eric Poulton does Steampunk Star Wars

This guy rocks my world. What a great concept. Check out his Blog for more images.

Ooooooh, that's rich...

Hey all. Do yourself a favor and get some Izzard on by watching The Riches. It's on FX and it's pretty tasty. Really.

Escape From John Carpenter

Lotsa fans of the original Escape From New York have their panties in a bunch over talks about a remake—but not me. The idea of a remake makes me as happy as a little girl.

The only John Carpenter films that I can watch repeatedly are the original Halloween and The Thing—the rest leave me cold (even Big Trouble In Little China). Sure, I kinda liked Escape From New York back in 1981, but the cheese factor in it is much too high for repeated viewings. The premise is brilliant but the execution is seriously lacking—for me. Everyone seems to be hamming it up and almost winking at the camera. Plus, I felt that Kurt Russell was too pretty and light to play a badass like Snake Plissken. The Kurt Russell I see in the upcoming Grindhouse would be perfect.

John Carpenter movies just don’t seem to have a soul. Maybe it’s me. I always get excited when I hear what his latest movie is about (like, Vampires and Ghosts of Mars) but I always walk out of the theater shaking my head. Again, maybe it’s just me.

Rumor has it that they’ve nabbed Gerald Butler to star. The dude can roar—as we’ve heard in 300—I just hope they nab some talented young buck with a bombastic directing style to bring the potential of Escape From New York to life.

An order of Ratatouille to go, please...

This is an Asian advance poster for Ratatouille. Can someone run it through Reed Richards' Universal Translator and tell me what it says?

Oh mommy...

Salma Hayek may not be the greatest actress of our time, but wow is she going to have a happy baby.

My mother never breast fed me--she said she just wanted to be good friends.


Nothing but cheese...

I grew up with two older sisters who controlled the comic book content in our house for a long time. Until I was ten or twelve the bulk of the comics I read were either Archie’s or Harvey’s.

The first Marvel comic that I got hooked on was Marvel Double-Feature, which reprinted Gene Colon’s Iron Man and Jack Kirby’s Captain America. What a combo! If this comic didn’t get you jacked up you probably didn’t have a pulse.

I wonder if way back then I would have swallowed the notion that Marvel would kill one of their cash cows like Captain America. I wasn’t the most sophisticated kid on the block back then, but I’m pretty sure that I would have guessed that the event was little more than a crass marketing ploy.

Does anyone really care that Steve Rogers is going to be killed? I know I’m getting cranky in my old age but the only good I can see coming from this will be watching the dimwits on QVC trying to sell the comics in six months.

Bah. You kids get outta my yard!


Spider-Man, Spider-Man, he's got dynamite in his pants...

Long, long ago in a far off land called New York, I worked in the DC Comics production department under the auspices of the remarkable Rick Taylor.

I took the job because I wanted to get work writing for DC and I figured working on staff would help expedite matters. (It didn’t)

The DC production department was composed of a diverse and colorful cast of characters back then. Earlier today I was thinking of one such character, the always-redoubtable Nick Napolitano. The thing that started me thinking of Nick was this stunning piece of art from the upcoming Spider-Man movie.

Pretty cool, eh? Nick and I shared a cubicle for a couple of months and while hunkered over our respective drawing tables we would combat boredom and monotony by often sharing obscure and inane bits of trivia from our pasts. One such nugget of Nick Napolitano trivia that will make me chuckle until the day I die concerned the theme song to the 1960s Spider-Man animated series. Nick confided in me that he had misunderstood the lyrics to the theme song, and for the longest time instead of “Spider-Man, Spider-Man, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!” he thought the song went, “Spider-Man, Spider-Man, he’s got dynamite in his pants!”

I can’t be too hard on Nick. I guess when you’re a kid the idea that someone with the proportional strength of a spider might need some dynamite from time to time, and hey, the last time I checked Spider-Man didn’t have any pockets in his costume, so why not slip a couple of sticks into your pants. When you’re a kid you find it much easier to justify things like that.


The devil you say...

I haven’t had the chance yet to see Mark Steven Johnson’s Ghost Rider movie, which is currently burning up movie theater screens from coast to coast. It should be hitting the hundred million dollar mark any minute now. Who would have guessed?

If you’ll recall, it was Johnson who wrote and directed 2003’s poorly received Daredevil movie. I’ve always had a soft spot for the film, despite its many flaws, and when I was in Wal-Mart this past weekend and saw a copy of the Director’s Cut for nine dollars I figured I’d give the movie a second chance.

I guess you’ve already figured out that things turned out well—otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this

Mark Steven Johnson’s cut of the movie (as opposed to the studio’s version) clocks in at thirty minutes longer and nearly every minute of it is put to good use. There’s an extended fight scene in Josie’s Bar that we didn’t really need, and a longer version of the end battle with the Kingpin that we really did need.

The biggest addition is a neat subplot that features rapper-turned-actor Coolio. This leads to extended scenes of Matt Murdock in his civies, using his heightened senses to investigate leads and hunt for clues in order to solve mystery. The additional screen time helps round out the characters and gives us more to sink our teeth into than abbreviated bullet points.

Another fun subplot that gets put back in involves Wesley Owen Welch, the Kingpin’s second in command, who recognizes the writing on the walls and makes a deal to land butter side up when the Kingpin’s empire crumbles. This explains why the cops are coming to arrest Kingpin after the end of his slugfest with Daredevil. In fact, it’s not until you see the extended version do you realize exactly how many gaping plot holes were left unaddressed. (I don’t know about you, but when I go to see a superhero or crazy super action adventure film, I try to keep my mind as open as physically possible. You have to be willing to grant huge doses of forgiveness in order to enjoy the movie to any degree. I just bite the bullet and take the good with the bad.)

If you sorta liked the Daredevil movie and have thought to yourself all these years that maybe it wasn’t as horrible as you remember it—the extended cut is for you—it’s exactly for you!



Who knew?

One of my most favorite things in life is talking about myself, but I've been so busy that I simply haven't had the time.

I guess it beats the alternative. You know, I was mad about not having any shoes until I met a man who had no feet.

I'm pretty sure that the chief medical examiner on the series CSI doesn't have any feet. I think his legs end just below his knees so whenever he’s standing he’s constantly balancing himself on his prosthetic legs. Not that long ago people with artificial legs used to try and hide that fact, but not anymore--especially if they have one of those new state-of-the-art legs that is mostly a piece of curved metal. They also have really skinny ones that consist primarily of a rod and shock absorber-type piston.

When I was a kid one of my dad’s brothers was missing a leg and he hated like hell to wear his artificial one. I guess he wore it when he went somewhere, but when he was home drinking beer and watching the Cubs play on television, he didn’t see the point of strapping it on.

There was another person from my childhood who was missing a leg that made quite an impression on me. When my mom would take us shopping on a Saturday or Sunday up and down Michigan Avenue, we would always park our old Buick in the same parking lot. It was adjacent to Gately’s People Store, and it made perfect sense to park the car there because it was always our last stop for the day, so we could finish our shopping and walk out the back door to pile in the car.

Anyway, there was almost always this same fellow who sat on the sidewalk in front of People’s Store. He had either one or two pink prosthetic legs—but it was hard to tell because of his long pants. He always wore the same light blue pinstriped suit and he had a hat that sat one the sidewalk in front of him filled with pencils and loose change. This was in the mid to late 1960s and lots of soldiers were coming home from Viet Nam missing assorted body parts.

I always wanted to buy a pencil from the guy, but my mom would always steer us clear of him, as if losing limbs was catchy. I remember being intrigued by this guy’s cleverness. A.) He was well dressed. B.) He lost his leg(s) fighting for the US of A. And finally C.) He was offering something useful for any donation you might want to make. As far as I could tell, his system really worked—his hat always had plenty of quarters and dimes in it.

I remember for a while the homeless in NYC were ‘selling’ some sort of newspaper. I guess the way it worked was in exchange for a buck or a couple of spare quarters you would get a copy of the Bum’s Daily Gazette. That’s not a horrible idea. I wonder if I could wander the streets ‘selling’ copies of my very own daily newsletter? Hmm. That’s such a good idea I’ll bet someone’s already done it.

Duty calls and I must answer, otherwise it will keep calling until I grab it by the collar and smash it into wedding cake.

Talk wit you soon.


Nothin’ up my sleeve… Watch me make three television shows vanish!

Don’t blink or you’ll miss them…


Vulcans claim they don’t understand it and I’m not sure any of us humans really do.

One of the most agreed upon theories is that humankind developed humor as sort of a coping mechanism. Like religion, only with more fart jokes.

Learned men with neatly trimmed white beards that they stroke absent mindedly while deep in thought, believe that humor is a way for us to deal with the fact that the world can be a damn scary place to live—this was especially the case back before we became the enlightened sophisticates that we are today.

The biggest problem with humor here today in the twenty-first century (in my humble opinion and if I may be so bold) is that it’s so damn subjective that anyone who dares to be a fringe dweller stands a good chance of never being heard (and even if you do find a forum to express yourself and someone does take notice, you have to keep your fingers and toes crossed in hopes that they actually ‘get’ you).

Sedaris and Jeff Foxworthy are both very funny men, but which one are you more likely to find in the bargain bin at the bookstore?

When it comes to movies and television (especially a new television sitcom), it’s essential that they hit the ground running and do whatever it takes to be instantly adored by the masses. Every once in a while one of the networks will give a show they really, really, really believe in a few extra weeks to find its footing and gather a following, but this is hardly ever the case. Look at the series ‘Arrested Development’ for example. It was a critical darling up and down the boards, and if a viewer got within fifty feet of a television while it was playing, they were hooked for life, but the show was on life support since day one. It got plenty of breaks and second chances, but humor being the subjective beast she is, not enough Nielsen Families in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewa or Grovers Corners, New Hampshire really understood the brand of humor the show was dishing out.

We’ve never been asked to participate and be a Nielsen Family, but if you want to know if a new television show you’ve taken a liking to is going to survive or not, just give us a telephone call here and find out what we’re watching. Valarie and I have a long track record of backing losers. I guess we wouldn’t fit in too well in Moose Jaw or Grovers Corners.

Here are three of our favorite new television series. Just for laughs, let’s see if anyone even remembers they even existed come the end of this summer.

--The Class

The first three or four episodes suffered the shaky legs of a newborn colt and the critics had a field day trying to match the characters on the series with their counterparts on the shows Friends and Will & Grace (the comparison was inevitable, thanks to show’s creator David Crane being a driving force behind Friends.

The cast and the writing staff have things on an even keel and each consecutive episode is getting funnier and funnier. Now all that’s missing is a regular audience. It won’t take you long to know if it’s your cup of tea. It’s a show you’ll know by the first commercial break if you love it or hate it. If it’s still on the air by the time you read this, give it a try. If you need help finding a half an hour to spare in your busy schedule, give me a call.

--The Knights of Prosperity

This one is a slam-dunk. If you like Donal Logue and have enjoyed any of the movies or television he’s starred in (especially the comedies like Grounded for Life, American Splendor, and The Tao of Steve), you’re going to know exactly what to expect—with the only major difference being that The Knights of Prosperity is approximately thirty-nine times funnier than anything he’s done in the past.

The show is a product of David Letterman’s production company, which probably accounts for the quality of the writing and the overall polish on the production. They advertised the beejesus out of the series, weeks and weeks ahead of the debut, so you may already know that the plot revolves around a ragtag bunch of working stiffs who decided to rob Mick Jagger’s fifty-two million dollar New York apartment.

It shouldn’t have worked; it really shouldn’t have, but this bombastically preposterous plan being executed by this gang of certified losers, manages to come off as endearing. What they’re attempting is purely idiotic, but at the very least you have to give them credit for trying. The casting for the six lead players is so precise that some sort of laser must have been involved.

And as an extra bonus, like when you get home from Burger King and see that the chimp working the drive-thru window accidentally gave you an order of onion rings that you didn’t order or pay for, it turns out that Mick Jagger is a pretty freakin’ funny guy who doesn’t have any problem with poking a little fun at himself. Interspaced between segments of the show are clips of a VH1-type special wherein Mick Jagger takes the viewers on a tour of his fifty-two million dollar apartment. It’s worth watching the show just to see the new ways that Mick has come up with to torture his silently suffering houseboy.

--30 Rock

I don’t get it.

This show is about the trials and tribulations of a female head writer of a Saturday Night Live-type show. Which is what Tina Fey used to do/be.

One of the Executive Producers of 30 Rock is Lorene Michaels, which is what he does every week for Saturday Night Live.

My problem is that the two of them are doing a thirty-minute parody of the ninety-minute show that they used to do together, and the parody is infinitely funnier than the real show was.

Was Tina Fey saving all her really funny stuff material just in case she would get offered the chance to parody herself?

No, that’s too silly to even imagine. But why wasn’t Saturday Night Live three times funnier when she was the head writer of that show. They had three times the airtime and budget.

I think that 30 Rock is one of the funniest sitcoms currently on the air yet Fey and Michaels’ Saturday Night Live used to put me to sleep. There has to be a complicated story behind all this. Fey will probably write a book about it when all this is done and over. I’ll wait to buy it when it comes out in paperback. It probably all makes perfect sense when you know all the facts. In the meantime, I’m going to soak up the good times.

The casting is sort of hit and miss. Alec Baldwin deserves all the awards they throw at him. My secret favorite is Jack McBrayer’s Kenneth. Do yourself a favor and watch it while you can. It’s far too good to last.

I wish I had a dog...

Cats are fun, but you just can't beat a dog. Well, you can, but it's frowned on by society.


It could have been a contender…

We recently rented Crank, a movie that started out with a fun concept (think Speed, but with no bus or Keanu Reeves) and starred Jason Stratham, one of the most charismatic action stars to come along in the past few years.

The film was co-directed by a couple of newbies, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who clearly have all kinds of energy and are students of the staccato/stylized school of filmmaking that has produced other directors like Darren Aronofsky, Luc Besson, Louis Leterrier, Quentin Tarantino, Tony Scott, Christopher Nolan and Michael Bay.

Crank started out with a bang, but by an hour or so in it fizzled and sputtered along to an unsatisfying ending.

I hope Neveldine and Taylor get another chance. They’ve got talent and with a tight script they could shine.

Oh, and speaking of Louis Leterrier (which I just was a couple of paragraphs ago), it looks like he’s officially signed up to do the new Hulk movie. I have mixed feelings about this. The guy has an astonishing visual style and he’s definitely got a handle on tight, close up fighting (as he demonstrated with Jet Li in Unleashed) but I wonder if he’s got the scope and range to pull in a big scale movie like Hulk 2.


This just in from the "Better Late Than Never" department on the third floor...

For years Val and I have been hearing how brilliant HBO's The Wire series is. For some reason or another, probably the planets never aligned properly, we saw fit to ignore these suggestions.

Until now, of course.

Everyone was right. It is one of the best shows on television at the moment. We're like a couple of kids who have made off with the cookie jar. We're currently gorging ourselves on the first three seasons out on DVD. Who cares what time it is and if we have to get up early the next day, there's always time to squeeze in just one more episode. And then one more after that.

We also know how fortunate we are not having to wait a whole week or two between each episode, and then the better part of year between seasons. It's like digging both hands into the middle of a birthday cake.

Ah, the decadent life. I wonder what the poor are doing right now.

Choosy Mother’s Choose Flint…

There have been spy flicks pretty much since there have been flicks (short for flicker, as in the flickering images on a movie screen), but things really started popping in the early 1960s with the advent of the first James Bond movie, Dr. No. There has been a steady flow of spy movies and television series since the arrival of Dr. No. They range in quality from outstanding white-knuckle rides, to pretty good damn good--I'm going to have to add that to my DVD collection, to a fluffy Saturday afternoon movie or show when there's nothing better to watch. Some of these titles, off the top of my shiny bald head, include The Prisoner, Three Days of the Condor, I Spy, Casino Royale (the new one), Mission: IMPOSSIBLE, The Wild, Wild West, and especially, Patrick McGoohan as Danger Man (a.k.a. Secret Agent Man).

There was also a slew of spy spoof television shows and movies, like Get Smart, the Matt Helm movies, the massively underrated Zoolander, Casino Royale (the 1967 version) and the Austin Powers and the Derek Flint movies.

When I was a young’n I thought Dean Martin’s Matt Helm movies, which included the likes of The Silencers, Wrecking Crew and Murderer’s Row, were the hands down winner in the spoof category. Dino had hot and cold running dames, enough booze to float a boat, and if the mood struck him he’d even croon a little ditty for the situation at hand.

Coincidently, within the past twenty-four hours I’ve had occasion to see a good chunk of both The Silencers and In Like Flint (along with an hour or so of Dr. No,, which is so painfully dated I can’t bear to watch it anymore).

In retrospect, I think the aspect of the Matt Helm movies that was so appealing to me as a kid, is exactly what turns me off to them today—which is Dean Martin’s habit of ignoring the fourth wall and mugging directly into the camera. By comparison, James Colburn, in In Like Flint and Our Man Flint, played it totally straight. No matter how silly the activity, he always kept a straight face and soldiered through.

So, in case anyone out there keeping tabs on such things, when it comes to spy spoof movies, I now officially prefer Derek Flint’s activities to Matt Helm’s. (Plus, it didn’t hurt that the Flint movies had bitchin’ cool posters by Bob Peak. I think the hipsters refer to that as the ‘icing on the cake’.)

And there you go.