Saturday, April 30, 2005

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Concert Review @ Anaheim House of Blues

I wasn’t sure what to expect going in but I was hopeful.

I’ve had a long history with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy going back to “my” Swingers days, and when I say “my” I mean I and a certain number of my close friends had a relationship with this movie. In a weird way it was influential, almost tangible – its comedy, its life philosophy, its proximity to the life and times of young men trying to figure out what being “young men” meant in the 90s and all that it entailed in hitting the scene and finding a girlfriend and going right on down to the little things, like not brutally and catastrophically swallowing your tongue when trying to talk to a pretty girl.

The music was a part of it too, of course. Big brassy swinging horns and crooning vocals and wild jumping jazz rhythms as though out of a beat novel and into the flesh and alive. Far different, far more alive and joyous then the 300th recitation of Stone Temple Pilots mopy grunge tripe blaring from the tired radio, at any rate.

There was that scene, near the end of Swingers, at LA’s famous Brown Derby, of course, when Mikey (Jon Favreau) finally gets the girl and they’re dancing and Trent (Vince Vaughn) and his crew are drunk and there’s Big Bad Voodoo Daddy jiving for all it's worth on “You and Me & the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)”:

Hey Jack...I know what your thinking
That now's as good as any to start drinking
Hey Scotty...Yeah! What's it gonna be?
A gin & tonic sounds mighty mighty good to me

Man I know I gotta go
It's the same thing every time
But I don't think another drink's
Gonna make me lose my mind

So I think about my next drink
And it's you & me
And the bottle makes 3 tonight!

And there I was with my old road pal and traveling companion several years after those early New York gin and tonic days, 3,000 miles from home on a road trip to end all road trips down the East Coast and across the desert wastes of the South. We had made it to Los Angeles and found ourselves in that very Derby under the blaring sounds of that smooth-yet-exhilarating retro swing beat.

My pal, far more daring than myself, ensnared two pretty young ladies in conversation and brought them back to our table, perhaps the very table that Trent caroused at whilst cheering his pal Mikey on to go-man-go. I found myself next to a redheaded gal who, it turned out, wanted nothing to do with me but made eyes at my pal. It turned out he had made an incorrect logistical assessment and had chosen the wrong girl. Nonetheless, the two ignored Fate and made cross-conversation the whole night through as I dug the swing and tried to act vaguely writerly and not at all Nervous.

The next day I got assembled and hauled off to Mexico with four Asian girls and a young stoner I barely knew while my pal embarked on a whirlwind romance with his redheaded beauty.

Cut to nine months later and I’m living with my pal and two other guys in a shoebox apartment in the Greek Mecca of Astoria, Queens. The whirlwind romance was still going on cross country and it was a howling, hot gusts followed by cold blasts.

Somehow, someway, I got swept up in it all.

Over a six hour gyros and coffee session at the New Bel-Aire Diner (right near Steinway St. and the N Train) it was decided, impossibly and irrevocably: we were moving to San Francisco later that month in my car, the Millennium Falcon of automobiles.

It was crazy. It made no sense. The stormy redhead was in LA and we were stuck in an apartment with an immigrant’s view of the Empire State Building. But the West came calling and something in my gut made me answer. I had a lackluster job and like Jack Kerouac before me had a vague itch to get out on that groaning American highway once again.

Cut to seven years later. I’m still in California, now living outside Los Angeles in Pasadena with my beautiful wife (well met we were in Berkeley), dog, and cat. Pal’s relationship went down the tubes the very week we arrived those years back, and he’s now happily settled into a little town in Massachusetts with a fine young lady of his own.

And here I was that night, in Anaheim’s beautifully designed House of Blues for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, my past come a calling once again.

And it was magic.

From the moment the nine members of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy took the stage, they owned the place. No ultra-polished bore-fest for the aging yuppies here.

They brought a party – but not what we’re used to these days, with cheese doodles getting soaked by the overflow from the beer tap or microwave hor’dourves to go with the cheap supermarket wine.

We’re talking old school hep cat swing: Champaign, suit and tie, wingtips, and don’t hang your hat at the door, kids: sport it fresh with an attitude to match. And in fact, kids better stay home because Daddy’s gotta get his Daddy-O on.

We’re talking upright bass spinning under the steady rhythm of Dirk Shumaker, nodding his head and smiling along to the beat; horns blaring, swooning, crying, cheering and mournful, sometimes all at once. A whole fisted lot of them their were, with trombones, saxes, clarinets, and trumpets singing in magic oneness.

In the middle of it was Scotty Morris, who put on a show for the ages. With a martini lounge croon that could change up with delightful ease, he owned an audience that was left hanging for more as each song sadly ended.

Each member of the band clearly loved being there, being part of the dance, digging the scene and blowing great music. It’s the kind of party you always want to be at, the kind of party you wish every party can be. The musicians played it up with frolic and antics, swaying from side-to-side, doing circles and figure-eights on stage, even stumbling around “drunk” near the end of You & Me. It was picture-perfect professionalism all around and maximum energy and vibe and wit.

The House of Blues was the perfect receptacle for the brand of musical religion the Voodoo Daddy preached. From my seat off the loge-level balcony, I looked down and saw fans resting their arms on the stage, fingers snapping, palms popping, creating a perfect and intimate enclosure to receive exquisite sounds. The acoustics were outstanding and perfect for the mix of horns, bass, and jive daddy groove.

You couldn’t ask more from a venue, a band, a party, a night.

It took me back to Swingers and my old traveling days, but more than anything it showed me what it means to live in the moment, to do what you love, to share it with others, to put it all out there to shine because you’ve worked your ass off and because you can. Most of all it showed me the best night I’ve had in a long time.

My wife and I sat next to a couple and began chatting away toward the latter part of the show. The gent, it turned out, was the manager of the Anaheim House of Blues. Clearly as enthralled as I by the show, he talked about how the House attracts a lot of punk bands nowadays, and how it’s a shame that there weren’t more bands out there like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy nowadays.

I couldn’t disagree.

Laura Bush to White House Correspondent’s Dinner: I’m a Desperate Housewife

The annual White House Correspondent’s Association dinner is usually a time when the President lets his hair down and tries some jokes on for his size for the award-winning journalists being honored. As recently as a few years ago, President Bush stirred up some controversy by making light of the war on terrorism.

However, this year it was First Lady Laura Bush’s turn to rock it hilarious in a bit of stage play and canned tomfoolery usually only witnessed at every entertainment awards show broadcast in the history of time.

As President Bush began to deliver his typical remarks, Laura Bush “shocked” those in attendance by interrupting the proceedings.

According to the Associated Press:

"Not that old joke, not again," she said to the delight of the audience. "I've been attending these dinners for years and just quietly sitting there. I've got a few things I want to say for a change."

The president sat down and she proceeded to note that he is "usually in bed by now" and said she told him recently, "If you really want to end tyranny in the world you're going to have to stay up later."

The cavalcade of jokes continued in the general vein of The President is a No Fun Loving Geek Who Goes to Bed Really Really Early. And then, finally, we are led up to the headline producing punch line:

She outlined a typical evening: "Nine o'clock, Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep and I'm watching `Desperate Housewives'." Comedic pause. "With Lynne Cheney. Ladies and gentlemen, I am a desperate housewife."

Clearly, we can now see where the Bush daughters, who joked it up at the Republican National Convention last summer, get their sense of humor from.

But is this light-hearted moment a throwaway line in a time of war and general unease, or is it an underhanded statement of what this administration sees as the ideal social condition:

Man and woman happily married (or not). Man goes to sleep early as he has a “country” to run in the morning. Wife settles into the nightly soaps, joking about the desperate normalcy of it all.

Is this a veiled desire to transport back to the idealized Ozzie and Harriet days of the 1950s?

Is this a new call for censorship, a plea for a further straight-jacketing of the American Creative Spirit?

Or have I just lost my sense of humor?

Friday, April 29, 2005

Cathode Ray Fray: The Week in TV – 4-29-05

As always, I take on the shows I watched during the week, and provide you with links to some of the other fine TV work going on at BlogCritics.

Overall take on the week:

Best show on television: Project Greenlight and The Office… ascends to the top spot for the first time! (tie)

Get back up in here: Lost

Upper-tier shows: The Office, The Shield, The Contender, The Apprentice

Falling… perhaps off the radar: Trippin’, Making the Band III (MTV needs to step up to the Fray), Alias

Cathode Ray Fray is now a regular segment on my podcast, Dumpster Bust Radio.

Check out the other regular television features going down at BC: Chris Beaumont’s The Week That Was.



The Contender - NBC
Overall, I like the format of this show and think it’s an improvement over The Apprentice. As we enter the second round, I’m liking the format even more: the winner of each physical challenge dictates the elimination bout. Lots of interesting strategy to think about.

Key Moment #1
The remaining fighters voted back in Ahmed the “Baby Face” after Juan de la Rosa pulled himself out. This seemed crazy at the time, but Ahmed did seem to control himself, aside from his normal squeaky bluster. The strategy behind the vote – to piss off and rattle Ishe – was both stupid and funny in that sophomoric high school way (of which I am often accused, I must admit).

The physical challenge was actually fun and cool to watch this week: the fighters had to run while carrying three medicine balls through multiple layers of elimination, ending with the prospect of making baskets with the heavy balls (all the while wearing boxing gloves!) followed by smashing a sculpture of a fighter’s face. Jesse won: you have to admit that the little dude is quick, agile, and will likely be around until very late in the competition.

There were two shows back-to-back this week. First up was Ishe v. Sergio Mora. I’ve said before that Mora is a likeable, charismatic guy. He reads fairly widely and didn’t vibe with the voting Ahmed back into the competition thing, which means he’s likely sane.

Key Moment #2
The Ishe v. Sergio “Latin Snake” Mora bout was unbelievable – among the best boxing matches I’ve ever seen. Mora worked the Sugar Ray-inspired psych out approach to perfection, frustrating and finally defeating the heavy hitting Ishe. Mora put on a mental clinic – I was skeptical of the kid’s tactics (make him beat himself, etc.) at first, but he proved me dead wrong. Count me on the Mora Bandwagon from now on.

The Contender comes across as great reality TV because in the end it’s real: it comes down to professional athletes battling it out with every inch of their bodies and every ounce of mental fire.

In the second fight, Gomez soundly defeated Ahmed. It wasn’t as exciting a fight, during which the thing that surprised me the most was how much I rooted for Ahmed to make it a good match. He came on late, but his overall conditioning was no match for Gomez’s dogged, bashing style.

Was there ever a reality show contestant that had more hot air and less to back it up with than the trash-aholic Ahmed?

Key Moment #3
During the physical challenge (pulling harness carts filled with family or loved ones around the horse track at Santa Anita) Joey let Peter Manfredo win, ceding him control of the subsequent bout as well as control of a new truck. This caused a big stink in the house – lots of power play and psychological tactics talk. I thought it was a little overblown as the remaining contestants got a little too into the “mental aspects” of the competition.

But, you know, whatever works.

Six fighters are now left… the fights are getting really good. Very hard to say who will win.

I dig The Contender. Good stuff, good TV.

Locusts - CBS
Matt Paprocki gets to the bottom of some kind of locust investigation-swarm-thing going down.


Trippin’ - MTV
This week, the Goofy Factor lessens by a factor of 50% without Drew Barrymore. However, host Cameron Diaz accounts for other 50%.

Key Question #1
Has anyone told Diaz how unbelievably crazy her laugh is?

Key Question #2
How close is Diaz to her character in There’s Something About Mary?

We were treated to Kid Rock (sporting cornrows), some professional surfer dude, and Chris Chelios the NHL hockey dude as the guests this Trip, this time to beautiful Honduras and its fragile coral reef.

The scenes where everyone swam with the dolphins were pretty spectacular. I also
learned that I could save 2000 gallons of water a year by turning off the sink whilst brushing my teeth. We were also told some pretty cool facts about the coral reef.

Weird show. Don’t know if I’m going to continue to hang with it. We’ll see.

Medium - NBC
swingingpuss gets into the middle of what makes Medium tick.

American Idol - Fox
There is a mega-ton of American Idol talk this week, as always. I don’t subscribe to the madness myself, but check out the uber-post here.


The Shield - FX
Things started to get really interesting during the scene when Mackey (and the audience) learns that drug dealer supremo Antwon Mitchell has ordered Det. Shane Vendrell to kill him (Michael Chiklis) in exchange for the body of the young girl murdered (killed by Mitchell with Vendrell’s gun) a few episodes back.

“A body for a body.”

Chiklis is at his best when he allows the stress and frustration and brewing explosion play across his bulldog’s features.

Aceveda’s gunning for him, Rawling (Glenn Close) is selling him out to protect her precious seizures program, and Vendrell may be out to kill him.

Man, this is getting good.

The Office - NBC
This comedy is reaching that point where it is safe to say, “The Office – The American-version Office – is a great show, a great comedy… you should definitely watch it.”

It’s consistently funny. It’s painful and awkwardly funny like its Brit predecessor, but it also manages to bang out the laughs in small places in which the UK preferred to keep it more real and documentary-like. The A story line (boss Michael Scott -- Steve Carell -- making an ass of himself) meshed well with the far more interesting and ongoing B story of the flirtation between engaged Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim (John Krasinski) due to the arrival of a redheaded purse saleswoman. Dwight (Rainn Wilson) continues to shine in his role of office bizarro-loser… and actually adds a depth and humanity to the role that the hilarious but ultimately soulless Gareth (Mackenzie Crook) always lacked.

Pam continues to shine as one of the best actresses on television. Her subtle and realistic gestures are in turns hilarious and powerfully engaging. This week: her reaction to hearing that Jim had a date was priceless.


Lost - ABC
Re-cap episode this week with some kind of vaguely creepy voice over dude saying lots of things like “What would you do…” followed by scenes of planes exploding and so forth. That said, I enjoyed it as it kind of put the season together without going much into the character development and sort of got everyone ready for the end of the season.

I really really hope they don’t kill off Locke, which is what the promos seem to keep trying to tell us.

Alias - ABC
From the gorgeous mind of Wife:

”The secrets you’ve been keeping aren’t yours to keep.”

Are the secrets that Alias gives us no longer worth keeping? I can’t escape feeling as though too much is let out of the bag. Wouldn’t it be more fun to wonder who is after Nadia than wonder if Sophie, the orphanage matron, is under the control of Elena (yet another Derevko sister)?

In previous seasons, the viewer would have been left wondering what the pill was that Jack extracted out of his hand. There are questions yet to be answered but a spy show is supposed to be about intrigue, and so for this season is still lacking.


Project Greenlight - Bravo

We were treated to the final week of shooting on Feast this week – a week that wouldn’t have existed had it not been for timely funding by the Maloof brothers – and I must admit I grew a bit sad.

I’ve been hyping Project Greenlight for weeks and still believe it’s the best show on television: a brilliant melding of reality television, documentary film making, and the aspiration to inject some new blood and creativity into the Hollywood film beast. Most of all it’s a clinic on how hard it is to make a good movie, an interesting movie, a movie that is willing to risk and take chances.

The obstacles, we’re learning each week, are enormous.

Because there was less conflict and less drama this week (save for Miss Thang Krista Allen… see more below) this was not the most compelling episode yet aired. Still, it was nice to see first-time director and contest winner John Gulager pull his production over the finish line through the force of his sheepish yet hefty personality.

Key Moment #1
Blood-smeared Krista Allen sneaking off set in her SUV after she had “wrapped” herself, twirling her hair. Basically, Allen decided it was time to go home, so she went.

Key Moment #2
The monster/effects dude getting mightily pissed off whilst trying to stick his 40 lb. pelt-shrouded monster head through a tiny hole while everyone else joked around and ate sushi.

Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

Key Moment #3
The producers and director cutting their hair in short-bus prisoner a la 1925 style so that reticent actor Balthazar Getty would consent to cutting his hair for continuity.

Come on, Steve Spielberg can wait for that lid to grow out… who’s with me?

Key Moment #4
Smooth-as-a-robot Dimension money-man Andrew Rona saying “I like it” over the phone after viewing an “assembly” of scenes from Feast.

To quote Beck on his latest and brilliant Guero:

Hell yes!

The Apprentice - NBC
Last week, Alex taught us the meaning of true friendship, Apprentice-style: first hug, then tear hearts out of chests Indiana Jones Temple of Doom style, then hug.

Caring means sharing.

This week, we learned about “bedazzlers” and rhinestone-usage in tee-shirt design.

Oh yeah, and Alex lost again and finally, thankfully got his slickster college-boy paper tiger ass streamlined.

Key Moment #1
Alex picking Tana to join him on Net Worth, leaving the dysfunctional married couple of Kendra and Craig to duke it out.

And the latter pair won. Wasn’t that kind of extraordinary? Big points go to Kendra for coming up with the marketing idea that likely won the task: e-mailing 3,000 art fans who would go for the “collector’s item” tee-shirt commemorating 50 years of tee-shirt culture.

Kendra’s been stealthily sneaking her way to the top for weeks now and now only has the bright-but-limited Craig and the now nicked up Tana to go through in order to land the Trump-land job.

Key Moment #2
Alex invoking Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

Note to Alex: This ain’t The Contender, bro. Now back to those books with you.

Key Moment #3
Alex came close to pulling off yet another boardroom miracle but thankfully Trump’s loser-ometer kicked in. Tana lucked out in getting rescued from her worst performance thus far.

Now, all together: can we forget the damned beads already?

Will the final two episodes of The Apprentice bedazzle? I’m guessing not, but I’ll be tuning in nonetheless.

Check out The Apprentice uber-post here.

Making the Band III - MTV
We finally got our cuts on! But now we’re told that next week is the season finale? Are we actually going to see the band get made at some point, or was this entire season an exercise in watching girls get yelled at on the dance floor while being instructed, “This is not a game, okay?”

Well, you know what: I ain’t playing. Where the band at?

Dumpster Bust Semi-Major Sort of Announcement

Crazy week this week as I wrapped up a month straight on the road. I’ll be getting back to a regular publishing schedule very soon, however, bolstered by our all-star roster of guest columnists (The Sorest Loser, Duke de Mondo, and Greg Smyth).

I’ve also been doing some Big Picture thinking about some nitty-gritty DB-related retooling. I’ve enjoyed getting Dumpster Bust Radio (the podcast) off the ground and I enjoy writing Cathode Ray Fray, the Week in TV, but the time required to do both at present leaves me little time to hit on the multitude of topics that (I hope) makes what it is: a place to find a little bit of everything under the sun.

I’m going to keep doing both, but I’ll be cutting down the length of each podcast, which makes sense for a number of reasons and should result in a better podcast. I’ll also be cutting down on the overall length of Cathode Ray Fray – it’s been bourgeoning to upwards of 2,000 words each week, which is kind of a Titanic in online/blogging terms.

Anyway, just some Notes From the Perimeter for all of y’all. Thanks for all of the feedback and encouragement, and thanks most of all for reading.

Eric Berlin

Monday, April 25, 2005

Dumpster Bust Radio: Podcast #5

Here it is to be dug or buried by all:

Dumpster Bust Radio: Podcast #5

Packed show this week, featuring everything from Goodfellas to ska to the new frontier of communication and community. Where can you find that anywhere else?

Oh: and stamp lickers across the Globe definitely want to check in with this week’s show.

DB Radio #5 Presents

Find out how I recorded the show, lost it, then recorded it again with a bold move toward the improvisational.

DB Film Squad: Goodfellas - The Perfect Gangster Film?
The new Perfect Film series kicks off with the one of the all time greats… but is it the perfect gangster flick?

Featured Song #1
“003 ½” by Div & the Divs

Pods Are Mod: The Blogging, Podcasting, Music, & Content Nexus
It’s a revolution of the mind, and we’re gonna crack that nut.

Featured Song #2
“Refugees Us” by Cookiepuss

Cathode Ray Fray
We delve into the best of the week in TV.
This week, special guest Mike Valdman, sometimes known as The Sorest Loser, joins us to slice and dice The Apprentice.

Track Listing for Dumpster Bust Radio #3

Dumpster Bust Radio always has RIAA-free music playing in the background to complement the Featured Songs, which is when you get a break from my tortured vocal yodeling to enjoy some of the best independent and emerging artists on the Planet.

Track #1 (Show Intro) “Black Star” – Apash
#2 “Meltdown” – The Brownies
#3 “Bass Melody with Guitar” – Michael Renkema
#4 (Featured Song) “003 ½” by Div & the Divs
#5 “Cuando Llegera” – Stucky
#6 “Sasquatch in China Camp” - BIF
#7 (Featured Song) “Refugees Us” by Cookiepuss
#7 “Sequencer Funk” – UNIT-E
#8 (Show Outro) “Blue Bird Tattoo” – Circe Link

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Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Sorest Loser: The Culture of Life

It's easy to poke fun at the seeming inconsistencies of those who purport to defend "The Culture of Life". Intensely passionate about life at the margins, they are relatively indifferent to life between the margins. One would think that someone committed to a culture of life would be equally concerned about life in all of its stages and manifestations, but in practice the only lives of note are those of the human vegetable, the embryo, and the fetus. They will march and pray for every aborted fetus or discarded embryo, but they will barely lift a finger for a child without health insurance. It seems they lose interest in the child the second she's born, and they don't regain their interest unless she winds up in a persistent vegetative state. Clearly, this is a peculiar point of view.

But it is not necessarily inconsistent. Defenders of the culture of life will tell you that they are guided by one simple principle: all human life is equally valuable. Or, more precisely, that all innocent human life is equally valuable. This principle puts embryos and human vegetables morally on a par with normal children and adults. On this view, killing embryos is just as wrong as killing children.

There are at least three objections to this view:
(1) One can deny that embryos, fetuses, and human vegetables count as human.
(2) One can argue that accepting this principle commits one to fight for universal health care just as vigorously as one fights against abortion.
(3) One can reject the inherent equality of all innocent human lives.

(1) is fruitless. (2) is an interesting approach and might succeed, but I prefer (3). I think it's demonstrably false that all innocent human life is equally valuable. To see this, consider a simple thought experiment. Suppose that you had the power to determine whether the next 100 fetuses to be born would be born normal or crippled (suppose they'll be born without arms). Suppose that, if you push button A, they'll all be born normal and healthy. If you push button B, they'll all be born without legs. Now, if you genuinely believe that all innocent human life is equally valuable, then you should be indifferent between pushing A or B -- essentially, you should flip a coin. But clearly no sane person could be indifferent in this situation. It would be monstrous to flip a coin. Anyone who would seriously consider pushing B is so gripped by a dogma that he's beyond the reach of rational argument.

The right thing to do is to push A, and that reveals the absurdity of believing that all human life is equally valuable. And without that principle, the Culture of Life doesn't have a leg to stand on.


The Sorest Loser provides political therapy for the masses and can sometimes be found lurking here.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Cathode Ray Fray: The Week in TV – 4-22-05

As always, I take on the shows I watched during the week, and provide you with links to some of the other fine TV work going on at

Overall take on the week:

Best show on television: Project Greenlight… will it ever get knocked off its perch?

Great this week: The Shield, The Contender, The Office, The Apprentice, The Simpsons

Damn you technology! Damn you farmers! Damn my stupidity with regard to technology!: Arrested Development

Wife makes her first Cathode Ray Fray appearance: Alias

Damn you pre-May Sweeps hiatus!: Lost! (again!)

Falling: Making the Band III

Cathode Ray Fray is now a regular segment on my podcast, Dumpster Bust Radio.

Check out the other regular television features going down at BC: Chris Beaumont’s The Week That Was and Matt Paprocki’s Sci-Fi Channel Originals.



Arrested Development - Fox
I have no idea why my DVR didn’t record my beloved show for me, and the season finale at that. I asked it to record the show, I pleased with it, I gave it cookies and warm milk before bedtime the night before to get it well rested and ready.

And yet, still, it refused to heed my wishes.

Once again, again: Damn you technology! Damn you farmers! Damn you me!

The Contender - NBC
Another surprise conclusion to another surprisingly good episode of The Contender this week. What could have easily been a filler show – we’re at the end of the first round at this point, where the original 16 boxers have been chiseled down to eight via one-on-one bouts at the end of each show – turned into an interesting and satisfying match-up between Joey Gilbert, the strapping son of a marine just returned from Afghanistan in time for the fight, and Jimmy Lang, a tough veteran of the ring from Virginia.

Before I go any further, I have some worldwide breaking news to drop on all of you: was it just me, or did Jimmy Lang’s dad look like a dead ringer of Bill Murray circa Kingpin? He had the baldness going up top coupled with a mullet for starters, the kind of rugged features necessary for such a comparison, and to top it all off: a strange gray and white shirt/tie combo that screamed (to me at least) I am the king of this here bowling arena.

The fight, as per usual, was a really good one. These guys really go after each other every week.

Juan de la Rosa getting his quit on was also an interesting development. It was clear that even ringleaders Sugar Ray Leonard and Sylvester Stallone had little stomach for Juan’s “I need to think about my career” kind of talk. His hand and eyebrow were busted up a little, but everyone seemed to know that even in victory the week before, the young “prodigy” was exposed as a flashy young amateur.

The remainder of the episode involved an end of the first round break to Las Vegas and Caesar’s Palace, the site of the final bout, which will result in the winner claiming a $1 million purse. While it was amusing to watch the fighters walking around sunny Vegas in their tricked out pimp daddy hats, you could clearly see the wonderment and hunger in their eyes: this variety of glitter and glam represents the kind of lifestyle they might expect if they were to obtain celebrity-athlete status.

I’m looking forward to the second round. We know all of the personalities, and everyone who made it this far is at least competent – and certainly determined – in the ring.

There’s going to be some good fighting and intrigue ahead for sure.

The Simpsons
I’m just blown away by how good, how funny, how right on, how subversive this little cartoon that could continues to be.

I laughed throughout this episode, in which Bart and Lisa get a glimpse of there future circa the time of their high school graduation via the nerdy scientist dude. In fact, I saw a basis of a whole new Simpsons – a ridiculously futurized version with Bart and Lisa off at college and Homer and Marge living at their new abode, under the sea.

It was that good.


Trippin’ - MTV
Trippin’ involves the (many many) laughs and adventures of Cameron Diaz and some cohorts, which includes gal pal Drew Barrymore and that Farnsworth Bentley dude, the dressed to the old school nines guy who started out as P Diddy’s assistant and is now something of his own media phenomenon (he was great trying to get Da Band’s act together on Making the Band II).

This show got panned right upside its eco-self by Slate, but in the weirdest of ways, I’ll contend, it holds its own goofy charms.

Oh, did I say goofy? This show brings the goof in enormous measure. In fact, who knew that Diaz and Barrymore, two legitimate Hollywood film stars, are as goofy as thirteen-year old girls at a slumber party replete with marshmallows, training bras, and Tiger Beat magazine, basically at all times and all hours.

Giggling, laughing, guffawing, chortling. Is Trippin’ referring to sheets to acid here, is the air in remote regions of Chile (Note: I actually learned that Chile holds some of the last remaining bastions of temperate rain forest in the world from this program) goof-ified with oxygen, or can two grown women be that damned goofy au natural?

That said, there were some nice and actually redeeming elements to the show. It’s concerned with conserving our resources and environment before it all gets washed away into the dirty hell-mouth of rampant consumerism.

Will this odd combination eco-challenge travel show and celebrity knee-slapper fest hold up under the weight of its own goof-ocity?

Only time will tell.

American Idol - Fox
There is a mega-ton of American Idol talk this week, as always. I don’t subscribe to the madness myself, but check out the uber-post here.


The Shield - FX
The more this gritty cop drama focuses on its season story arc and less on episodic caseload one-offers, the better it gets. The changed dynamic between Antwon Mitchell (drug lord turned People’s Representative turned drug lord) and Vendrell has been fascinating: because Mitchell has a dead body filled Vendrell’s bullets stashed away, he’s treating the dirty but inhuman cop as his plaything. Things are getting tense, and Mackey’s for sure going to end but being in the room when the final match gets lit.

“Shit rolls down hill,” goes the saying, and Captain Rawling (Glen Close, who gets better every week) pushing the thumb down on Mackey (Michael Chiklis) will be fun to watch indeed.

‘Cause Mackey don’t take to thumbing very well.

The Office - NBC
A fine, loopy time of it our pals down at the Scranton paper merchant made it this week. The name of the game was basketball this time round, and of course boss man Michael Scott (Steve Carell, who owns the part more each week) had to make a gloriously bad, wonderfully painful mess of it all.

Key moment #1:
The tall, chubby black gentleman in the office who gets offended when Scott openly assumes he’ll be playing on the team… only to showcase his awesomely awful dribbling skills (was his off-hand over the back of his shoulder? How do you do that?) circa game time.

Key moment #2:
Dwight (Rainn Wilson) can actually hoop it really really well. In fact, Scott’s entire team can ball… except Scott.

Key moment #3:
Scott’s weird groin maneuver celebration dance.

The B Story line continues to be the most interesting: the Jim (John Krasinski), Pam (Jenna Fischer) and theoretical hubby-to-be Roy storyline.

I say this every week, but: Fischer is an astoundingly good physical comedienne. She says volumes and leagues with her facial expressions, which fits in perfectly in this mockumentary-style show where “realistic” reactions are vital for extending disbelief.


Lost - ABC
Yet another blasted repeat… but a really really good one, perhaps my favorite of the an amazing debut season. This is the kind of episode that makes you wish you could have a show about just the one character: in this case the rough, mysterious Sawyer. What makes him an intriguing, even fascinating character is his vulnerability, which was fleshed out remarkably well by his back story.

The early trauma, the vow and hunt for vengeance, the scamming and conning years, the piercing agony of new blood shed and sweet vengeance still unfulfilled. And then there was the magnificent conversation in the bar with Jack’s father: the stuff of greatness that seemingly random meet-up was.

But on Lost, nothing is random, seemingly or otherwise.

And then there’s the island. What does the island know?

We’ve got to wait until blasted May sweeps to find out, apparently.

Alias - ABC
I haven’t had the time or energy to get back into this show this season, even after exhortations from several sources. Finally, Wife took it upon her own beauteous shoulders to tell the tale herself:

Temptation’s a bitch.

It’s the kind of bitch goddess that compels me to ignore the aggravation of repeating plotlines week after week, sucking me into the heart of this genre mixed spy-romance-suspense show yet again.

What brings me back? The shiny red apple of Rambaldi, is what.

This week finds the gang facing not one Arvin Sloan (Ron Rifkin), but two. Is Arvin really “reformed,” or do Arvin #2’s activities reveal his true heart? And what the hell is the Seduction of Rambaldi, for that matter?

Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

It’s more than Rambaldi that brought me to the party, however. I was addicted to Alias during its first three seasons on the air. You just never knew where it was going. But prior to the last few episodes, I had to seriously wonder if creator J.J. Abram’s energies were being sunk into Lost while Alias’s plotline got, well, lost.

Things got seriously tedious this year: Arvin’s back at the reins of the super-secret spy group… band’s back together! Yet another character, this time round the loveable Marshall (Kevin Weisman), can’t stand lying to his family. Then we have the next chapter in the Jack’s good, Jack’s bad, Jack’s a lying bastard epic (Jack = the great Victor Garber). Meanwhile, Weiss (Greg Grunberg) finally pulls a girlfriend and it’s just not very exciting, I’m afraid. There was nothing to piece together, not much left to really care about.

But at least I’m finding my way back to temptation. Is Vaughn’s (Michael Vartan) father really dead? Will Jack, Sydney’s (Jennifer Garner) own pop, die?

What other long held secrets will be revealed? I am finally jonesing to know and will certainly tune in next week to get my fix.


Project Greenlight - Bravo
We’re getting into the minutiae, the grunt work, the haul-and-heave of day-in, day-out film production. People are getting tired, people are getting cranky, people aren’t getting along… and I don’t like it.

I love it!

An interesting new angle opened up as the second week of filming Feast, the low budget horror flick helmed by first-time director John Gulager, wore on: we got to see the crew and producers scurrying around trying to keep their director on the straight and narrow any damned way they could. Everything became about the film “making its day,” meaning that the scenes scheduled to get shot that day got shot.

Key Moment #1:
The script supervisor, a friend of Gulager’s, getting fired by a consortium of the Assistant Director and the producers.

Key Line On the Firing That Showcases Hollywood In Full – Producer to Gulager:
I don’t need to hear you say you agree; I just wanted to let you know that it’s going to go down (see more on getting stabbed in the heart with a spoon below).

Key Moment #2:
A bottle of water resting in what looked like a vat of maggots on set.

Key Moment #3:
Clu Gulager, the bartender in Feast and John’s 70-ish dad, going apeshit about the director and actor needing the time/space to collaborate on set. It’s like, get a Clu, you know. Sorry, Clu’s right there (Clu’s got a clue?) – make a bloody film, not a piece of tripe, if there’s any way you can help it.

And Finally:
Why aren’t we seeing more of Henry Rollins, pray tell? There should at least be twenty minutes of each episode devoted to He of the Mighty Spoken Word Wisdom and Rock and Other Stuff Too.

The Apprentice - NBC
There should be a motto that goes underneath The Apprentice logo and Donald Trump and his hair cap, and it should go something like this:

After you carve your “best friend’s” heart out with a spoon in the boardroom, hug him and say, “I love you, bro.”

Now onto show recap.

Just this week on my podcast, Dumpster Bust Radio, I announced dear Bren as the People’s Candidate, an actually nice and competent guy in a sea of heartless sharks.

Well, you know what they say about nice guys, and buh bye Bren.

I won’t feel too badly about it as Bren elaborated in the cab ride end-of-show segment that he was exhausted and didn’t really feel cut out for the cutthroat entrepreneurial environment of Trump World. I actually believe him too, based on what I’ve seen of him and the fact that he pretty much refused to defend himself in the boardroom v. Alex, “best friend” turned attack dog turned greed-fiend.

You know what, I just thought of something: Alex reminded me of Gollum looking upon the ring, the One Ring, on the long trek to Mordor… something about the eyes. Maybe it’s just me.

And now there are four. Watch those spoons folks, as they’ll likely find flesh soon enough.

Check out The Apprentice uber-post here.

Making the Band III - MTV
P Diddy finally makes a serious opinion! We finally got some girlie cuts on! But only two? Come on Didds, those of us left hanging in there want to see some serious girl band cutting already. And we lost two of the only really hanging story lines up left remaining to the solitary cuts: Levantae and her atti-snap!-tude, and Patty and her sad tale of Mom at home with worsening cancer.

Next week looks like it will bring a lot more of the cuts. That’s what I’m trying to say.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Duke Arrives: Musings Regarding

Hey Kids,

The roster of guest columnists just keeps getting better and better. Over the last week or two I've introduced Mike Valdman aka The Sorest Loser. Look for new political ruminations of the sharpest and sorest sort over the weekend. Meanwhile, our own TSL will make his first appearance on Dumpster Bust Radio: Podcast #5 if things go according to schedule.

Greg Smyth has also joined the house party all the way over from the North of England and will be providing music reviews and commentary via his excellent Swing Batter Batter!

And now... I must introduce He Who Can Not Be Put Into Mere Words: Duke de Mondo. Better yet, you must read his words to get the full flavor. He comes to us via Northern Ireland and Mondo Irlando. He's a real Renaissance Man, the Duke, waxing poetic and prophetic and excellently profane (DB Note: profanity be laying ahead, folks, so put thou children under cover and ear muffery) on such topics as music, film, the bitchery of love, and always always always: Kirsten Dunst, who we must refer to as Her and She.

He's also a damned fine singer-songwriter in his own right and the man behind The Mondo Podcast Thing. It's reason alone to get up on the podcast revolution, my friends.

Without further adieu, I give you The Duke... Enjoy!


The other day I was flicking through the NME [New Musical Express, UK-based mag], as is my wont of a Thursday afternoon, alternating between being enraged by a remarkably stupid article concerning university education, and being enraged by a review of Ryan Adams that refers to our man as “Dad Rock” etc etc.

If it’s a choice between the monotonous, crushingly dull bollocks spat onto vinyl by your Coldplays or your Athletes, or the whiskey-drenched whoring and drugging and reminiscing of Mr Adams and his “Dad Rock”, then I guess it’s the crack-pipe and slippers for Yours Truly.

Which is all part of the fun of NME, of course. The fuck wants to agree with these sonsa bitches? Unless I throw my copy down in disgust at least four times per page then I’m pissed as a motherfucker hell bent on vengeance, let The Duke state for the vinyl.

On my second EP, there was even almost a song called I Wanna Be On The Cover Of The NME, but then what happened was it fucking sucked.

It might show up on my work-in-progress compilation of Stuff Fit For Nothin.

Anyway, what I stumbled across during this particular trawl through the waters of The New Musical Express, was an article all about this malarkey that everyone’s banging on about. It’s a kind of a cross between Friendster and Friends Reunited, except it’s also got blog tools for a fella to molest, and there’s a fair dose of the old Am I Hot Or Not type shenanigans. Best of all, it’s free, and there are all sortsa things for to keep a fella entertained, like the ability to upload MP3’s and so on for a whole new audience to ignore.

Apparently folks all over the global earth are jumping at the chance for to upload photos of themselves and wax a little about this is what I like / dislike, and maybe even blog now and again. Turns out, though, that it’s not only us normal folks that are doing this kinda shit, but celebrity types too, folks like your Brody Dalle from The Distillers or Andrew W.K or Har Mar Motherfucking Superstar.

So what you do is you set up your own profile thing with your blog and your photos and the like, and then you go about browsing through pages and pages and pages and pages of tiny little photos of other folks, and maybe some of them you invite for to be your “friend”. Before you know it, there’s a whole motherfucking network built up, a whole host of tiny little photos that represent a fellas friends, and so all the more people end up finding your slab of myspace, and ignoring it, or clicking on “Add To Friends” and then never ever communicating with you ever again.

So I signed the fuck up and next thing you know, there’s The Duke, typing names into the “browse” box for to see if anyone I know, or at least know of, is also involved in this whole shebang. I ain’t gonna tell you what name I tried first, but I figure maybe some of you folks who pay close attention to this bullshit maybe figured that one out a couple articles ago.

And yeah, I asked if I could be Her friend.

And no, I ain’t go no reply as of yet.

Thing is, there’s a lot of impostors on there. Yeah, you’ll find the real Brody Dalle and Andrew W.K and Har Mar Superstar, but there’s also a handful of folks all claiming to be Johnny Depp or Sarah Michelle Gellar, for example. Chances are, not one of those motherfuckers is Sarah Michelle Gellar, even though some of them have done their homework, and litter their profiles with apparently obscure asides. In addition, there’s all sorts of pages constructed by P.R folks, like the one for Billy Corgan from out of that band back in the day. Mudhoney or whoever.

Probably the real-life Paris Hilton is on there, though. I don’t know, I didn’t look.

The first thing I gotta tell you, man, is that the whole myspace adventure proved to be an intensely depressing experience. A man just can’t cope with the level of self-obsession and vanity required for to keep things afloat on there. A man needs to act like a rentboy stood on a crowded street attempting to convince some business-type cat that yeah, my arse is the one to go for, I’d wager, if he hopes to survive for a motherfucking second in the cut-throat world of rankings and kudos and what have you.

On one hand, it’s all too personal, and on the other hand, it's disturbingly distant. You clock up all these friend types, some folks have thousands of the fuckers, and yet what does it amount to? A couple comments about wow, that photo is sexy as all bejeesus, what I wanna do is maybe cream on your face on account of the sexiness of it all. A man’s insignificance is thrust into his trembling yap at every turn. You’re a statistic is all you are, another “friend” on a list filled with page upon page of “friends”.

Who would choose you, with your whining and self-deprecating “humour”, when look here, a thousand jock types with muscles and nudity. There’s even at least one fella with a close up photo of his arse-hole, wide as the day is long.

Let me tell you this for nothin’, if I saw My Profile, the last thing I’d do is add me to my friends list. Look at that shit, would you ever. A posing photo (it was for a CD demo I sent off to a few folks a while back), a blurb all “About Me”, filled with horrific waxing and links to songs from off of my EP’s, a thing about what music / books / films I enjoy, what the fuck? It’s just wretched is what it is.

But then the upside.

Take a look at that friends list right there, underneath the waxing and the promoting and “me me me me me”. For sure, there’s only seven of them, but I think I’d be happy with that seven right there, let me state in no uncertain terms. Mind you, I’d be happier if I could say “What about maybe we go grab a coffee or go check out that Amityville remake. For sure, it’ll be no Amityville II – The Possession, but it might be alright.”

Instead, what a fella needs to do is maybe leave a comment or send a tiny email or something along those lines. Fuck the tiny email, I wanna go grab a coffee with you.

Also, that tiny email is competing with thousands of similar emails, and loads of them are gonna be about “My god you are so HOTTT”, and then when they get The Duke’s shrug and “You're really rather fantastic”, they’re gonna think, fuck that. He didn’t even once say he wants to crack one off over my photo, not like these other folks.

But then conversations do on occasion crop up, thanks to the old IM and so on, and it pleases me no end that I’m just as crap when it comes to the virtual conversing as I am when it's the verbal, real-life sort.

After a couple embarrassing attempts at having a yack with folks I never in my life have met, I decided something along the lines of fuck it, and then next thing I know a fine lady by the name of Jennifer catches me unawares and it’s 4.30 in the AM before a fella knows what’s going on.

Jennifer proves to be wonderful, and shares my disdain at the types a sentiments dripping from myspace. Apparently, one fella commented on a lasses photo with the following awe-inspiring come-on;

“Were you born a maggot cause you are FLY”

For fucks sakes.

How can a man compete in this world of maggot talk?

However, the Jennifer Yack convinced me that not everyone on here fits within the stereotype I had constructed within five minutes of hitting “Sign Me Up, Motherfucker” or similar.

In fact, this very eve I had a pleasing discussion with a young Irish lady by the name of Sinead. I’ve had much worse discussions is what I’ll say, coyly. Not many better, mind you, I'll also hint.

So what I find is that all a damn sudden a fella’s addicted to the whole get-up, checking the inbox for to see if maybe some of those folks who don’t live too far away, certainly no further than a three-hour train journey, might wanna go grab a coffee or see Amityville.

Folks like our Sinead, who you may remember from a couple sentences ago. I have no end of praise for Sinead. If maybe you were thinking of setting up an account since look, NME said Har Mar Superstar is on there, you can be content in the knowledge that there are also folks like Sinead, probably 97% better than Har Mar.

She turned out to be great, as a matter of fact, more than great, wonderful, and yet a man still has to jump onboard the “me me me” train for to even consider hitting the old Instant Message box thing.

Turned out to be worthwhile, though. Virtual conversation with Sinead was a world away from the virtual stammering and making jokes and then apologising that went on with reams of folks in the pre-Sinead world. I still did that, but turned out not to be that horrible a thing.

I just get intimidated by the fact that you need to get your entire personality across in a couple typed sentences, and how fucking depressing if you succeed? I prefer to sit and maybe pass awkward glances across a table for a week or two before I even think about speaking. I wanna have innumerable fantasy situations concocted, a whole lifetime spent cavorting with this individual, filthing and singing and discussing Kirsten Dunst and Pasolini. I wanna have twenty-five songs written about them before I can even bring myself to say hello.

It’s all fucked up is what it is.

So what the hell. I think we should grab a coffee and see the new Amityville. It's even got her outta Home And Away doing the Lois Lane bit.

Thanks folks.

DB Note: You can find The Duke lurking at Mondo Irlando. And for all of those anxiously awaiting the weekly installment of Cathode Ray Fray, the weekly dose of TV banter and review, it's coming soon, my sweet minions.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

DB on TV: The Contender Wraps Up Round One

Sunday, April 17
The Contender - NBC

Another surprise conclusion to another surprisingly good episode of The Contender this week. What could have easily been a filler show – we’re at the end of the first round at this point, where the original 16 boxers have been chiseled down to eight via one-on-one bouts at the end of each show – turned into an interesting and satisfying match-up between Joey Gilbert, the strapping son of a marine just returned from Afghanistan in time for the fight, and Jimmy Lang, a tough veteran of the ring from Virginia.

Before I go any further, I have some worldwide breaking news to drop on all of you: was it just me, or did Jimmy Lang’s dad look like a dead ringer of Bill Murray circa Kingpin? He had the baldness going up top coupled with a mullet for starters, the kind of rugged features necessary for such a comparison, and to top it all off: a strange gray and white shirt/tie combo that screamed (to me at least) I am the king of this here bowling arena.

The fight, as per usual, was a really good one. These guys really go after each other every week.

Juan de la Rosa getting his quit on was also an interesting development. It was clear that even ringleaders Sugar Ray Leonard and Sylvester Stallone had little stomach for Juan’s “I need to think about my career” kind of talk. His hand and eyebrow were busted up a little, but everyone seemed to know that even in victory the week before, the young “prodigy” was exposed as a flashy young amateur.

The remainder of the episode involved an end of the first round break to Las Vegas and Caesar’s Palace, the site of the final bout, which will result in the winner claiming a $1 million purse. While it was amusing to watch the fighters walking around sunny Vegas in their tricked out pimp daddy hats, you could clearly see the wonderment and hunger in their eyes: this variety of glitter and glam represents the kind of lifestyle they might expect if they were to obtain celebrity-athlete status.

I’m looking forward to the second round. We know all of the personalities, and everyone who made it this far is at least competent – and certainly determined – in the ring.

There’s going to be some fighting and intrigue ahead for sure.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Monday Night Football Moves to ESPN, or Why I’ll Have More Time This Fall

Where I live, Basic Cable is not a given. Not for me, anyway. I ain’t no kind of Fortunate Son, I guess. Purchasing a cable package that includes the basics – we’re not talking any kind of fancy-schmancy “premiere” channels HBO or Starz or Digital Whozeewhatsits here – costs in the neighborhood of $60 a month.

That’s $720 a year for mostly crappy stations.

Now, my family pays $14 a month for what I guess would be considered low-budget basic. We get the local channels, and we still get a decent smattering of cable stations such as Bravo, FX, HGTV, and USA. This deal, however, isn’t even advertised by the cable company: I had to practically pry it out of them.

Because I basically can’t afford stations such as ESPN and TNT, what really suffers is the part of me that used to be a sports fan, the part of me that is dying a slow death, year after year. As a native New Yorker transplanted to LA, I rely on catching the odd Knicks, Yankees, and especially my beloved New York Giants game on broadcast television to fix my sports jones and reconnect with my childhood, my home town, and my formative years looking up to sports greats such as Phil Simms, Lawrence Taylor, and Don Mattingly.

The announcement that Monday Night Football – an institution among sports media institutions – is moving from ABC to ESPN will likely close the door on my interest in professional football forever more.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Monday Night Football," the second-longest-running program on prime-time broadcast television, will leave ABC for ESPN at the start of the 2006 season in an eight-year deal worth a reported $1.1 billion a year.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You want to get all Reservoir Dogs on me: suck it up and cough up a few bucks for Basic Cable, you cheap bastard. I just can’t do that. It’s more than the money. I just can’t see paying that kind of cheddar for entertainment that I used to enjoy for free on network television. And, to be honest, it is about the money as well. If that makes me a cheap bastard, so be it.

The 2005 season will mark Monday Night Football's 36th and final season on ABC, which began the Monday night franchise in 1970. Only the 37 seasons that "60 Minutes" has been on CBS tops the football showcase's run.

Talk about the end of eras. There’s been a lot of them lately.

I hope this news doesn’t mark the final descent of Big Time Sports into a money-mad maelstrom.

In any case, I’m not sticking around to find out.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Dumpster Bust Radio #4: Pods Are Mod, Since You Asked…

Hot off the digital press:

Dumpster Bust Radio: Podcast #4

We’ve scrapped the Featured Story this week so that we can bring you even more things that you didn’t know you needed to know but then found quite necessary to reside in your informational medulla-type storage capacital recesses. And other stuff.

Oh, and we’ve upped the ante on Featured Song: two for your money this week to titillate your fancy, or fancy your titillation. Your choice: I assure you.

DB Radio #4 Presents

Look out for the Traffic Report, updated throughout the show.

Pods Are Mod
Delve into some of the best podcasts out there at present (Keyword = The Duke).

Featured Song #1
“Sympathy” by Froppo

Hooked on the Net’s “Since Your Asked…” advice column, by Cary Tennis.

Featured Song #2
“New York New York USA” by Maininblack

Cathode Ray Fray
We delve into the best of the week in TV.
This week, we take a closer look at The Apprentice.

Track Listing for Dumpster Bust Radio #3

Dumpster Bust Radio always has RIAA-free music playing in the background to complement the Featured Songs, which is when you get a break from my tortured vocal yodeling.

Track #1 (Show Intro) “Black Star” – Apash
#2 “Hydate” – Hoodooh
#3 “Achtung (…hier kommt der Schlocker)” - Schlockmaster
#4 (Featured Song) “Sympathy” – Froppo
#5 “Time is Near” – Vital Message
#6 (Featured Song) “New York New York USA” - Maininblack
#7 “Ethiopian Dream” – Anyma
#8 “Blue Bird Tatoo” – Circe Link

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Friday, April 15, 2005

Cathode Ray Fray: The Week in TV - 4-15-05

As always, I take on the shows I watched during the week, and provide you with blurbs and links of some of the other fine TV work going on at BlogCritics.

Some shows are going into repeat mode as May Sweeps approach and others are ending their runs. Who will step in to step up?

Overall take on the week:

Best show on television: Project Greenlight

Damn you technology! Damn you farmers!: Arrested Development

Damn you pre-May Sweeps hiatus!: Lost

Rising: The Shield, The Contender, The Office

Rocking It Steady:The Apprentice

Falling: Making the Band III

Season’s over, hoping for a new one soon: PoweR Girls

Cathode Ray Fray is now a regular segment on my podcast, Dumpster Bust Radio.

Check out the other regular television features going down at BC: Chris Beaumont’s The Week That Was and Matt Paprocki’s Sci-Fi Channel Originals.



Arrested Development - Fox
Once again, my DVR bedeviled me due to the recent switch to Daylight Savings Time, causing me to miss a precious episode of my beloved AD. I’m still confused about whether this thing aired at all, and if so, when? I’m ready for a Zapruder film on this one.

In any event, according to the official website, this week concerned Lucille going into rehab and George Sr. getting kidnapped. But isn’t knowing that information almost worse than not seeing the damned show?

Once again: Damn you technology! Damn you farmers!

The Contender - NBC
I snapped back into this pugilistic reality play after spending a week or so wondering if I should bother with it anymore. Sticking around paid off an emotional… tickle? Nah. Slap upside the cranium? Closer… Punch? Yes, that will do. Punch.

The episode kicked off with tensions flaring in the house after Anthony “The Bullet” Bonsante’s victory over Brent, otherwise referred to The Kids’ victory over God. In any event, Ishe was pissed off that Bonsante hadn’t picked the fighter the West team had agreed upon when it was time to “toe the line,” which is perhaps some kind of old school boxing terminology for “I fight you, cool?” But was Ishe pissed off with good reason, or because he lost his bible-study buddy?

After the typical physical challenge sequence, which was actually pretty cool this week (loading up pick up trucks with smashed up bits of concrete and hauling them up to the top of some kind of overpass), a nice build to a classic Experienced Dude Who Got A Second Chance vs. The New Kid fight was established.

By the way: has anyone noticed that the hip hop music factor has been amped up to the moon during the physical challenge sequences the last few weeks? My theory is that the producers, spooked by low ratings, are trying to give this weekly segment some juice. They also may want to drown out the bromides thrown out by the old trainer guy and Robinson. “Come on, you can do it!” They should change that up at times, throw out a “Yes, you are aware that you are able to perform it!”

Or something.

The five-round elimination bout continues to be the best part of the show, by far. In fact, I wish they’d show more, though the editing is actually quite brilliant: you get to see the absolute best seconds of the fight at the best angles. The move to slo mo is used far too often, but in all, it’s exciting stuff, aided by the fact that you’ve gotten to know the fighters through the course of the episode.

In the end, youngster Juan de La Rosa of Texas knocked off Tarick in a close, interesting matchup. I thought Tarick was going to knock the head off the smaller, quicker upstart (La Rosa had just turned 18) but I have to admit that the kid has chops, and a serious punch.

One more week to go and then we finally get to the second round. I’m looking forward to it.


24 - Fox
Temple Stark explains why things are getting weak during yet another real-time hour of hellish action for the Kiefer-led gang.

American Idol - Fox
There is a mega-ton of American Idol talk this week, as always. I don’t subscribe to the madness myself, but check out the uber-post here.


The Shield - FX
This show has been getting edgier by the week, and more interesting too. It’s not so much that we’re talking Originality Central here, but the consistently solid performances, gritty production, and perky dialogue keep things popping.

Captain Rawling’s (the eminently watchable Glenn Close) property seizures policy is yielding both good and bad results. More than anything it’s rocking the boat, causing those on high (Aceveda, when he’s not reenacting the trauma of his wife’s rape with a high-class call girl, is working on undermining Rawling) and on low (Antoine Mitchell, emerging very quickly as the season’s chief Big Bad) to scramble.

Meanwhile, Detective Vendrell (Walt Goggins) may have finally burned the candle too closely fine at both ends (and Goggins plays a great candle-at-both-ends guy, doesn’t he? He looks hopped up, coked up, and/or riled up at all times) as the super dark ending of the episode illustrated:

Mitchell shot a CI – a young black girl – with Vendrell’s gun after issuing out some dirty copper beat-downs, then issued the following proclamation:

From now on, when I say, “Suck my dick,” I want you to say, “Do you want me to lick your balls, daddy?

That’s about the size of it.

The Office - NBC
This episode pays off on the promise I talked about earlier in the season. The characters and chemistry at this little paper merchant in Scranton are gelling, and the result is big, big laughs this week. The “alliance” bit between Jim (John Krasinski) and Dwight (Rainn Wilson, who is slowly making me forget my attachment to the great Gareth from the BBC version) was outstanding, and the supporting players continue to make this show a fun ride. Their deadpan looks of utter abject horror at boss Michael Scott’s (Steve Carell) antics are just about worth the price of admission right there.

Krasinski can hit the overacting button from time-to-time, but he’s genuinely funny and interesting to watch as the center of the B story line: scheming to piss off Dwight and his budding flirtation with the engaged receptionist Pam (Jenna Fischer), who always makes the most of every second on camera.


Lost - ABC
Another blasted repeat… damn you May Sweeps!

However, it was a damned good one, poignant even, as we learn how little Walt came into Michael’s life… and the strange powers that may be at work within the young lad. We get some nice Locke screen time as well (they’re making it seem awfully apparently that he gets shot during the promos for the next new episode, aren’t they? Stop messing with our very heads, ABC!) along with the just and dearly departed Boone.

Best line: Charlie to Sawyer after the latter smacks the former in the mouth over Claire’s diary:

You punch like a ponce.

I loves me some alliteration. And I loves me some Lost.

Come back, Lost!

Revelations - NBC
The Prynce bestows upon us a review about a new limited series that takes a look at the End of Days.


Project Greenlight - Bravo
Feast finally begins production, and we’re treated to the madness and doom that lurks behind every corner as a Hollywood film production on a flimsy budget and tight schedule gets off the ground. Add in first-time director John Gulager (winner of Project Greenlight’s directorial competition) and a mad scramble to land a lead actor (Eric Dane was slotted in a mere half-day before he was due to stand before the camera) and you’ve got what continues to be the very best show on television.

And, for the record: it would have been pretty cool had the maggot flying out of Beer Guy’s nose shot would have worked.

Key moment: seeing Jason Mewes in some kind of devil-mask prosthetic and Henry Rollins looking like Russell Crowe circa The Insider in full business-guy garb, standing in the sun during yet another no-one-knows-what-the-fuck’s-going-on meeting.

I hope Gulager gets it together. He’s a semi-tragic figure in that he’s bright, talented, and somewhat likeable but has very little ability to communicate his vision of filmmaking to others.

The Apprentice - NBC
We finally bid buh-bye to Chris on his seventh and fatal trip to the boardroom in a row (an Apprentice record that may stand for some time). The dead wood’s finally gone from the current group of applicants, and that’s a good thing because the wood was full of the corpse-looking logs this time around.

Interestingly, the tension and conflict on Magna, the winning team, was much higher than for Net Worth this week. Craig and Kendra and Tana look like they’re ready to rip each others throats out, and upcoming scenes look to get no nicer in that department.

Kendra was impressive this week, relying on her print publishing experience and ability to pull an all-nighter to make an impressive-looking brochure for Pontiac.

Key moment: Tana and Kendra looked like they were about to go cat-fight (meow!) during the presentation to the Pontiac execs over who was going to take the lead role.

Bottom line: Kendra and Tana and Bren now look to be the frontrunners to snag the Trump-y job.

Check out The Apprentice uber-post here.

Making the Band III
I managed to get the DVR operational enough to catch up on my two MTV delights.

A few overall thoughts on Making the Band III:

What happened to Diddy? He’s hardly making appearances this season. Maybe he senses the show’s a bit more dull than last year?

What’s up with the 25 weeks of the audition process? Last year, the audition was about one show, followed by the trials and tribulations of Da Band (you know, you remember: DA-BA-ND!!!). Say what you want, but that was one fascinating show: creating hip hop pieces in the studio, putting an album together, hitting the road, peeps hitting each other, and so on.

This season… not so much. Lots of girls dancing and getting yelled at, and that’s about it. At least the Jason drama’s finally over. Speaking of: I got the distinct impression that I may have been duped by the entire Jason “character arc.” He may well have been dropped into the show to act a part because not much else was going on.

This week: Michelle dropped out on the competition to go back to school. Word.

I hope Diddy’s training for a triathlon or something.

PoweR Girls - MTV
I always feel like I have to justify why I like this show… but I just like it, ‘nuff said, okay? And I’m a little bit sad that this week was the season finale after a fairly short run. I hope they pick the show back up, as it offers a surreal, edgy, yet somehow upbeat slice of reality television.

This week, we got a dose of the Valli Girls, some kind of teenage girl pop/rock act from… The Valley, we’re assuming. This The Gemz with a few more years on them. It was great fun to watch Lizzie Grubman’s crew try and train these youthful rockers for the red carpet.

Key moment: when “boy drama” is thrown out there when talking to a reporter, the “rebellious” Valli Girl feels the need to mention her “period drama.” Nice.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Up in Your Guero: New Guest Columnist Greg Smyth Reviews Beck's Latest

Comrades and mamacitas,

The stable of all-star guest columnists has just gotten larger. Greg Smyth, a stellar music writer who hails from England, will be providing his eclectic and hipsterized take on all things music right here at the mighty mighty DB.



Ignore everything you've read so far about this album: Guero is not a return to the "glory days" of Odelay. And nor should you want it to be, because, despite what a plethora of slavering rock hacks would like to think, Beck is exactly the wrong sort of person to want to rehash an excellent previous album. As if you needed reminding, Beck Hansen is the eclectic genius who brought you everything from the slacker jams of Mellow Gold up to the unfairly maligned melancholic brooding Sea Change via the neo-funk Prince-isms of Midnite Vultures. Beck has always been about change and experimentation - why should he be any different now?

It does, however, see the return of Odelay's producers, The Dust Brothers. But where that album was all schizoid beatboxing, Guero is much more a sum of the various aspects of Beck. Like a Best Of filled with entirely new tracks, Guero gives nods to each of Beck's musical personalities: the mellow moments, the slightly bizarre electronica, the samplefests. There's the driving rhythm of "E-Pro," first single and easily as Odelay as it gets, likely to be rocking every indie disco this side of the next decade. "Earthquake Weather" is a sublime slice of tropicalia (or, indeed, "Tropicalia"). Meanwhile, the Casio-tone intro on "Girl" wrongfoots the listener before morphing into a shimmering summer pop anthem that could easily have dropped off Sea Change.

Unfortunately for the music press, this album is not their much hoped for return to form. A superb showcase for his inventiveness and musical catholicism, Guero proves Beck never lost form.

DB Note: Greg Smyth is a UK-based music writer and scientist. Read more of Greg's reviews at Swing Batter Batter!"

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

DB Film Squad: Sideways - DVD Review

I just loved Sideways. If you consider yourself intelligent, if you love what movies can do to you – where they can take you, how they can make you feel, the times and places and people they can recall in yourself – you need to see this film.

If you haven’t seen Sideways, there aren’t a whole lot of spoilers I can throw out there that will ruin it for you; it’s just not that type of movie: no explosions, no revelations that that dude is really a chick or anything like that. It’s just an expertly written, directed, and acted movie about friendships, relationships, and lives. And of course, it’s about wine: lots and lots of wine in Sideways.

It’s a perfect blend of comedy and drama, which is the kind of story that I find really stays with me the longest – particularly dramas where the comedy derives straight from the story and the characters, and not from gags. That’s why I’ve always enjoyed dark productions, such as shows like The Sopranos or films like Goodfellas, which also bring some of the loudest laughs.

I’m going to take an unusual route though with this movie and compare it to 1996’s Swingers, a comedy that had strong elements of drama in it. The strong connection between the two films is the relationship between two old friends, men in both cases, and its evolution over the years, and really how men relate to one another and to the world. The drama and comedy in both films is built upon this foundation, and it’s just magic to watch.

In Swingers¸ we have Jon Favreau as Mikey in the lead role and Vince Vaughn as Trent. Mikey is getting over a bad relationship and really struggling to get his life together as an aspiring actor in LA. We don’t even really know what Trent does, but he’s really good at lying his way into girl’s pants with talk of being a director or actor or racecar driver, so it almost doesn’t matter. What matters is the dynamic between Mikey and Trent. Mikey’s an everyman: he’s uncomfortable in new situations, has trouble talking to girls, and in fact seems to screw up every golden opportunity he gets. Anyone who has seen this movie will never forget the painful, excruciating agony of Mikey leaving message after message for Nikki, a girl he met at a bar that very night.

And, of course, Swingers brought home great line after great line that stay with you for years:

“You’re money baby, and you don’t even know it.”

That one’s kind of a cliché by now.

“This place is dead anyway.”
“Business class.”

There are lots of them.

Sideways brings many of these qualities, except with characters who are perhaps ten to fifteen years older. We have Miles as the everyman in this case, played supremely well by Paul Giamatti. He’s two years divorced but still pining for his ex-wife, he’s got anxiety and depression brewing just under the surface at all times, and he drinks far too much wine. He’s also an expert on wines, an aspiring and perhaps failing novelist, and an eighth-grade English teacher.

Then we have Thomas Hayden Church as Jack, again the character who could give a damn about the ramifications of his actions, who thinks the world exists to send women his way, and really acts like an older version of Trent, who might have hit it big in acting for a few years, but has now settled back upon lying his way into girl’s pants.

Both Giamatti and Church turn in powerhouse performances, alongside Virginia Madsen – who was really glorious in this film – and Sandra Oh, the female leads in the film.

The story centers upon the buddy relationship between Miles and Jack, and the road adventure they find themselves on in the Southern California wine country. I realized that this sort of tale – when told right – has always been the most captivating for me. From the time I was a teenager, I tore through Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and was fascinated by everyman Sal Paradise (who I later learned was a close approximation of the author himself) and Dean Moriarty, who was based on real-life figure Neal Cassady.

I saw myself as Paradise, and as Mikey later on in Swingers: the guy struggling to figure it out, how to get girls, how to get through life not like a bumbling fool.

And it’s the same with Miles. He’s the guy none of us want to become: really smart, really talented, but with the Big Picture priorities ass-backwards.

The premise of the story is that Miles is going to take his old friend Jack out on the road for a week wine tasting at various vineyards and golf under the sun as a kind of Gentleman’s Bachelor Party to send the late thirty’s or early forties Jack off into sublime married life.

Of course, it doesn’t turn out that way. Jack ends up on a sort of dark sexual journey, getting involved with Stephanie at some point, who is wonderfully portrayed by Sandra Oh. More importantly, perhaps, is that Miles is forced to confront all of his demons: his loneliness, the possibility of failure, and most of all his attachment to his ex-wife. It all comes to a head with his relationship with Maya, played with Oscar-caliber acting by Virginia Madsen.

Every time Madsen/Maya shows up on screen, I wanted to stand up and scream at Miles: Dude, if you don’t go for her, I’m going to throw my TV out the window!

The magic of the film is in the performances and the absolutely stunning direction by Alexander Payne. Payne just keeps getting better and better. I loved Election, was knocked on my bottom by About Schmidt with perhaps Jack Nicholson’s finest performance in the last 15 or so years (better than As Good As It Gets) but Sideways is better. Much better.

It’s all in the subtlety. As I took notes while watching Sideways, I kept using the word subtle: the way the film is shot, like a soft 70s afternoon in a California vineyard, in the way the story is allowed to slowly evolve at its own easy pace, the way the actors are, to borrow a musical term, laid back in the cut. And there’s a great, relaxed yet upbeat soundtrack throughout that keeps things moving.

I’m insanely tempted to say that this movie is like a fine wine – because it bloody well is – but I can’t because it’s too obvious. Well there, I said it without saying it. But the way the story is told demands an intelligent audience, a kind of thoughtful and patient audience. But that attention is really paid off one-hundred fold.

There’s startling moments of honesty in this movie, which is funny, because in the commentary track Paul Giamatti keeps relating that the film is about the way we all lie to ourselves and to others. The commentary’s a ball by the way, with Giamatti and Church rapping like old chums, and you can really see how that chemistry translated to the film.

I’ll finish by rolling off some of Jack’s best lines. I’m tempted to say that Church gave the best performance of all – they’re all certainly up there. But when he delivers a deadpan line, it’s so out of left field and so funny – exactly the way the best comedy derives naturally from the truth and pain of drama.

When Jack says the following line to Miles after Miles painfully and awkwardly begs off from pursuing things with Maya to go to the hotel and go to sleep, the relation to Swingers broke through my mind like a flood light.

Jack says, “This girl is looking to party and you tell her we’re going back to the motel to crash. Jesus Miles!”

Another great line, in the midst of Jack berating Miles, is when he refers to his “depression and neg-head downer shit.”

Throughout, Jack has a wonderful way of needling Miles, and Miles has a wonderful way of bristling with anxiety.

I’ll end with two of the best lines of the film, both from Jack and both leading up to a big outing with the ladies.

The first: “Just try and be your normal humorous self, okay? The guy you were before the tailspin.”

And: “Don’t drink too much. I don’t want you passing out or going to the dark side.”

The very best line: honest and painful and gut-ripping, is near the end of the film, from Miles this time, to the mirror. I’ll save that for anyone who hasn’t yet seen the film yet.

If only all of us could be so original or apt in real life. But that’s the wonder and magic of great films.

And that’s Sideways. I loved this film. It’s out-of-the-park territory – one of the best films I’ve seen in the last 10 years, and perhaps ever.

DB Note: This review was featured on Dumpster Bust Radio #3.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Dumpster Bust Radio #3: Sideways, & Other Ways Too

Hot off the digital press:

Dumpster Bust Radio: Podcast #3

This week, the melding of independent music, comedy, and thoughtful, nearly tearful commentary on a variety of topics continues. DB Radio translates to Miracles From Mind Trash: you just get a little bit of everything, and sometimes seconds when, like Oliver Twist, you ask for s’more.

DB Radio #3 Presents

General madness and tomfoolery

Feature Story
A DB Film Squad look at Sideways, now out on DVD.
But is it a worthy successor to Swingers?

Featured Song
“I Feel Human” by Pacemaker Jane.

Cathode Ray Fray
We delve into the best of the week in TV.
This week, we take a closer look at The Shield on FX.

Track Listing for Dumpster Bust Radio #3

Every show has RIAA-free music playing in the background to complement the Featured Song, which is when you get a break from my tortured howls into that good e-night.

Track #1 (Show Intro) “Black Star” – Apash
#2 “Reach Reach” – AA
#3 “Australian Vacation” – Maticulous
#4 “Making Daddy Proud” – MC Random
#5 “Straight Homicide” – Universol
#6 (Featured Song) “I Feel Human” – Pacemaker Jane
#7 “Funk Bus” – The Band That Saved the World

Subscribe to DB Radio!
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Saturday, April 09, 2005

The Sorest Loser: Was it right to invade Iraq? Don't Look to the Middle East for Answers

Hey kids,

I'm really excited to announce that Dumpster Bust has added a Guest Columnist to the roster: The Sorest Loser. TSL, as I like to call him, has been producing some of the best political writing in the blogosphere for some time now, and I'm thrilled that he has agreed to share his work over here.

Check out The Sorest Loser's home website here.

Without further adieu...


Recent elections abroad have transformed the political debate at home. But the most profound transformation has not been to people’s minds but to their arguments. Elections in Iraq, Palestine, and the Ukraine have compelled both the president’s critics and his supporters to embrace the arguments of their opponents. A year ago, many of the president’s critics felt vindicated by the chaos in Iraq while many of his supporters pleaded for time and patience before passing final judgment on the wisdom of the Iraqi invasion. Today, many of the president’s supporters feel vindicated by recent events while many of his critics insist that it’s still too early to pass final judgment. In short, the president’s supporters and critics have switched arguments without necessarily switching sides.

In addition to being interesting in its own right, this argumentative flip-flop reveals a crucial point of consensus among many of the war’s critics and supporters. While the president’s critics and supporters disagree about the wisdom or rightness of the war in Iraq, they both agree about how the war’s wisdom or rightness should be determined. Both sides agree that whether the war was justified depends on the war’s actual outcome -- a stable and democratic Iraq would justify the war while a chaotic and barbaric one would not. So they look to the Middle East to see which description Iraq more closely resembles. But this is a grave error. As I’ll explain, the war’s justification rests not on its actual outcome but on its expected outcome. Or, more precisely, the war was wise, right, or justified only if the expected benefits of going to war outweighed its expected costs. Accordingly, what actually happens in Iraq does not affect the war’s justification.

To see this, suppose that I sink all of my money into the State lottery in the hope of winning big, and that the drawing is tomorrow. Is this wise? Am I doing the right thing? If an act’s wisdom or rightness depends on its actual consequences, then we can’t answer this question until tomorrow. To know whether sinking all of my money into the lottery was wise or right we’d have to wait and see whether I actually win or lose. But this is absurd. Since state lotteries are not rational gambles (the expected costs exceed the expected benefits), I am making a poor choice. There is no wisdom in going for broke in the state lottery. Whether I actually win or lose doesn’t affect my decision’s justifiability. Unfortunate outcomes don’t make wise gambles any dumber, and fortunate outcomes don’t make dumb gambles any wiser.

Like many gambles, the war’s eventual outcome will be at least partly determined by factors beyond our control. In part, Iraq’s fate hinges on the character and the ability of its emerging leaders, on the civic engagement of its citizens, on the cooperation of its neighbors, and on how well its leaders are able to massage simmering ethnic tensions. Indeed, for all we know Iraq’s future may hinge on something as unpredictable as the weather. Bad weather could lead to a season of poor crops, which could lead to unemployment, which could lead to unrest, instability, and ultimately to civil war. My point is merely that the invasion of Iraq was a gamble, and that a gamble’s wisdom is determined by its expected value rather than by its actual outcome.

If I’m in the market for a new house, and someone offers me a fantastic deal, I ought to take it. The wisdom or rightness of buying the house is not challenged if, say, it is later destroyed by a falling meteor. In a manner of speaking, George W. Bush has bought us a house. For the first two years his critics insisted that it was dilapidated while his supporters begged for more time. Now his supporters are singing the house’s praises while his critics are asking for more time. Both sides, however, assume that the actual condition of the house determines the rightness of the decision to purchase it. But it doesn’t. If we want to know whether the war was justified, we should look at the available information at the time the decision was made and determine whether it was reasonable to believe that the benefits of going to war would exceed the costs. Looking at the actual state of Iraq and the greater Middle East tells us little about the war’s wisdom or rightness.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Cathode Ray Fray: The Week in TV – 4-8-05

Several shows trended to the dark side this week (The Shield, Lost), but what was really dark was the news that Peter Jennings has lung cancer. Check out Eric Olsen’s piece here.

As always, I take on the shows I watched this week, and provide you with blurbs and links of all the other fine TV work going on at BlogCritics.

Overall take on the week:

Best show on television: Arrested Development, Project Greenlight

Close but no cigar this week: Lost

Rising: The Shield

Rocking It Steady: The Office, The Apprentice

Falling: The Contender

Will never watch again (probably): Alias

Cathode Ray Fray is now a regular segment on my podcast, Dumpster Bust Radio.



Arrested Development - Fox
This show just keeps on bringing it. Another consistently funny episode, though it took about five minutes to get up to full cruising speed. The catalyst needed to fuel the boat this week? Franklin the African-American puppet/mannequin. As soon as George Bluth Sr. (played brilliantly by Jeffrey Tambor… yes, he’s got more in the arsenal than “Hey now!”) speaks in Franklin-voice from the attic, with Franklin off-camera, then proceeds to yell at the puppet/mannequin (the most surprising laugh I’ve had in weeks) I knew we were in for the goods.

Second funniest moment: “Take me to your secular world.” Enough said. If you were there, you know.

The guest star roster for Arrested Development continues to be stellar. This week, among others, brought the great Alan Tudyk to the party. You may not have heard of Tudyk, but he’s been in a bunch of things over the years. He’s close to my heart, of course, because of his involvement with Joss Whedon’s Firefly project… which will soon be released as the full-length feature Serenity.

Oh, in ye Browncoats we do trust!

The Contender - NBC
This week’s episode and climactic bout boiled down to this: God vs. The Kids.

Hell, I should turn promoter.

You see, Brent Cooper, the Tennessee lad fighting out of the East Team, is a man of God. Literally. He talks God, he breathes God, and he may, on occasion, eat God along with his lunch. “God has a plan” is basically stenciled into the guy’s wallet in the place where, for Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, “Bad Motherfucker” is inscribed.

Then we have Anthony “the Bullet” Bonsante, who, we were told again and again, lives and breathes and eats so that his kids can live and breath and eat. He cries, he gets intense, he pisses off everyone around him with his Kid Talk and I’m Going to Fight Who I Want to Fight So That My Kids Can Eat et al, and so on.

So, finally, interminably, we get to the fight where we learn that yes, sometimes The Kids can take out God.

Sorry God. Good show. You’ll get ‘em next time.


American Idol - Fox
Lots of American Idol talk this week, as always. I don’t subscribe to the madness myself, but check out the uber-post here, brought to you by our sistah station,


The Shield - FX
Things down at The Farm trended steadily darker this week, with no one getting what they wanted and everyone getting at least a little bit dirty in the process. We've got Dutch (Jay Karnes, who really turns in a great, natural performance every week as the slightly anal, slightly brainy white bread detective) playing games with the DA to protect Wyms (CCH Pounder), who by the anyhoo is busy scoring some medical-type weed for afflicted fam. Meanwhile, Det. Shane Vendrell (Walt Goggins) is playing at shield-wielding crime boss and dealing with Antoine Mitchell to boot. Capt. Rawling (played by the great Glenn Close, who turning in fine work) is losing cred with the community with property seizures, and Aceveda, now a City Councilman, is trolling for high-class hookers and embarking on some kind of a dark sexual journey to deal with the fact that his wife got raped.

Compared to all of that, Mackey’s (Michael Chiklis – always fun to watch in every scene) tough guy vices seem pretty small in comparison. The plot is coalescing well around the bald bull dog, and the writing is blending episodic caseload plotlines with an umbrella story arc. And that's what I look for in a weekly drama.

Vendrell and Mackey and Rawling and Mitchell are going to be a lot of fun to watch down the stretch.

The Office - NBC
A good sitcom with solid laughs. Not great, but just being able to make that statement is a fairly big achievement in today’s comedy landscape. There was some nice character development this episode, such as the budding flirtation between Pam Beesley (Jenna Fischer) and Jim Halpert (John Krasinski).

For brief moments, there’s still too much of a lean upon on the brilliantly awkward BBC version, but hopefully that will abide over time. Indeed, it has to as the Britcom only totaled twelve total episodes during its entire run.


Lost - ABC
Another show that drifted into darker territory: this week brought the slow, painful death of Boone (Ian Somerhalder). Almost every character on this tremendous new show has been compelling and interesting, but losing Boone cut deep.

That said, it tied into Jack’s (Matthew Fox, who wears the nominal leading man mantel exceptionally well) character development beautifully: Atlas, who must bear the weight of all on his very soul. I realized this week too that Jack’s last name, Shepard, suits him perfectly. All turn to him when the chips are down, even the slowly mellowing Sawyer.

Boone will certainly be missed. But on Lost, it’s hard to tell what is real and what is possible, so perhaps it’s possible that we'll see more of Boone in time.

The West Wing - NBC
Temple Stark waxes Temple-rific on the nomination of Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) as Democratic nominee for President.

I haven’t watched this fine show regularly in a while (though I get a goodly dose of it via repeats on Bravo), and I’m happy they’re moving forward with a new administration (if it doesn’t get cancelled, of course), but a non-House of Bartlett is going to be really weird.

Eyes - ABC
Saw the promo, didn’t see much worth watching, myself.


Project Greenlight - Bravo
Jason Mewes (Jay of Jay and Silent Bob and oh ye comedy God Kevin Smith fame) and Henry Rollins are going to be in Feast? Wow, that’s pretty fucking cool. Okay, now back to the weekly report.

This week, yet more insight revealed into the knife in the front with a smile and a kiss culture that Hollywood lives and breathes on. The casting director screwed over not just first-time director John Gulager, but the producers as well in squeezing young hottie Navi Rawat (of The OC fame) in the role of Heroine. The best moment of the show was when Miss Casting Director got haughty about Gulager’s restrained remarks in her direction.

“I thought we were all adults here,” she said.

Yes, that’s right, if you mean the ice-hearted manipulative self-serving kind.

It was nice to see something of a compromise, however, in that Clu Gulager, John’s father, and Diane Goldner, John Gulager’s longtime girlfriend, were cast in smaller roles in the film.

Promo scenes for next week’s episode are looking rather dire as shooting begins. This could end up being a textbook study on how to make a piece of crap B horror flick.

Now, you see kids: take a dozen rewrites, a low budget, seven decision-makers, add flour, and then soak in the straight-to-video section of Blockbuster for seven-to-nine lifetimes…

The Apprentice - NBC
Angie gets the boot and wins The Biggest Loser competition as she and Chris wound up in the boardroom for what must be a record sixth week in a row.

Conversation between wife and I:

I: If Chris goes to the boardroom again, he’s gone.
Wife: Oh yeah, definitely.

It’s surprising that either made it this far… but not so much considering the relatively weak crop in this third season of Apprentice action.

It’s starting to get down to crunch time as there are now only six remaining applicants. There are three remaining candidates who have a shot at winning, in my ‘umble opinion:

#1 - Tana
I think Trump wants to avoid hiring another white guy, and Tana’s just about the best overall candidate anyway right now.

#2 - Bren
Bren is smooth as silk and gets along with everyone. He’s bright, he’s an attorney, and he’s savvy. He also hasn’t spent much time in the boardroom, so it might all come down to boning up on late-season Trump-speak.

#3 - Alex
Trump accused Alex of being a winner who ended up hanging out with losers (Angie and Chris) and therefore transforming into a sudden-loser himself. Trump was harsh… but right. Alex needs to step it up pronto if he wants to get back in Big Daddy T’s good graces.

Personally, I like Craig but I think he’s too much of a loner/independent-type to suit Trump’s high-gloss corporate culture. He might be better off running a creative, dynamic, smaller company on his own.

Check out The Apprentice uber-post here.

Making the Band III and PoweR Girls - MTV
My DVR screwed up somehow due to Daylight Savings Time so I missed these shows this week.

Damn you technology! Damn you farmers!

That said, it allowed me to get five hours of sleep instead of four. Such is life in the C-Ray Fray.

I’ll try and catch up and double up for next week.