Hey SPOILER WARNING Angelina finally left Jersey Shore tonight! Rejoice! There’s actually two fights in this episode one between Angelina and Mike when the episode begins and one to end the show between Snooki and Angelina. It’s fantastically trashy. Let’s just jump into the live blog which picks up from where last week’s episode left off. Continue reading Jersey Shore Season 2 Episode 10
Big Bang Theory seems to have settled into a pretty nice-working formula that shines the spotlight mainly on Sheldon, throws in liberal amounts of Penny with him and then has Leonard dealing with him and Raj and Howard making jokes. I don’t expect the formula to be stuck to explicity (in fact, that would probably turn awful pretty quickly), but it’s working for now until they figure out what to do with Leonard. Tonight’s episode also brought Apple inventor Steve Wozniak on as a guest and a pretty cool photo op:There’s also Sheldon trying to run and inventing a robot, so let’s jump into the live blog.
8:00pm – Haha, Leonard asks Sheldon if he’s looking to trap the roadrunner because he’s got several dry erase boards. He’s really trying to figure out when he’s going to die.
8:01pm – KBB = “Killed by badger.” Poor Uncle Carl.
Sheldon’s new gaspy laugh is kind of creepy. Sheldon thinks he’ll live for another 60 years, but he needs to live longer so he can put his mind in a robot.
8:02pm – He’s worried about missing the dogopus, “Man’s underwater best friend.”
8:05pm – They’re all eating pizza and Penny doesn’t throw money in right away. Raj tells Howard that if he had woman parts he’d eat for free the rest of his day, but Penny says he wouldn’t be able to talk to himself. Burn.
8:06pm – Sheldon’s not eating pizza on pizza night anymore because he wants to live longer.
“Didn’t you already do that?” Penny asks regarding Sheldon becoming a robot.
8:07pm – Sheldon’s also looking to start exercising. I can’t see that working out well. Raj suggests through Howard that Sheldon should jog with Penny. Howard says that Raj watches her through high powered binoculars, but he’s just giving Raj shit.
8:08pm – That night, Sheldon’s having stomach pain and thinks he has cholera. “There’s no cholera in Pasadena.” – Leonard.
8:09pm – Leonard thinks it’s his appendix and Sheldon goes on a diatribe about the organ and it’s origins.
Haha, that was a long way to go for a fart joke. Blame it on the brussels sprouts.
8:10pm – The next day Sheldon’s wearing a Flash t-shirt, black socks and plaid shorts to go running with Penny.
Haha, Penny runs till she’s hungry and then stops for a bear claw. Penny’s stretching and shows Sheldon how, but he’s super stiff. Can’t go wrong with Penny stretching 😉
8:11pm – They start running down the stairs, Sheldon falls and then farts.
8:12pm – Haha, Raj orders chicken nuggets from the Indian place.
Damn, Penny owes Leonard $1400. Raj is right, she doesn’t have to put out to get free stuff.
And here we have the Sheldon robot with a TV and a Green Lantern T-shirt hanging from it. He’s decided the world is too dangerous and he needs to protect himself, sending the robot out into the world to interact with humanity. 8:13pm – RoboSheldon still has a problem with Penny sitting in his spot.
8:18pm – Penny doesn’t see much interest in RoboSheldon. Sheldon tells Leonard he’ll have to disassemble him to carry him down the stairs. Sheldon says his body is in a secure location he swears isn’t his bedroom.
8:19pm – Leonard goes into Sheldon’s room. Penny offers to sell her underwear to Raj or Howard for $1400, they don’t answer.
“Pay no attention to that man in the bed.” – Sheldon.
Sheldon asks the most likely way for someone his age to die and Leonard suggests “By your roommate?”
8:20pm – Haha, Sheldon wrote a clause about just such an occasion into the roommate agreement, as you might expect.
Haha, seeing RoboSheldon in the car is pretty hilarious.
Sheldon plays “Greensleeves” on is record for Leonard to relax.
Sheldon wonders why Leonard doesn’t like this as it’s kind of like Knight Rider. “Except in Knight Rider, the car isn’t a yammering sphincter.” – Leonard. Then Sheldon talks about sphincters. “I was wrong, this is exactly like Knight Rider.”
8:22pm – Why is Sheldon trying to make Leonard do a hidden picture while he’s driving? Totally unsafe, but he doesn’ care because he’s not in danger.
Leonard turns the monitor off and then it comes back on with a “Bazinga” that almost makes Leonard crash. Sheldon built an override in.
8:23pm – Haha, RoboSheldon gets to work and can’t open the door to his office because he has no arms or hands.
“Oh look, it’s Leonard and R2-Dbag.” Howard, but he swiped that joke from Raj.
“Be a lamb and open the door for me.” – Sheldon. Gah, Raj opened the door for him.
8:24pm – They’re at the Cheesecake Factory and Penny’s embarrassed.
“I say we take him to Tatooine and ust sell him to some Jawas.” – Howard, stealing from Raj again.
Haha, he extends himself upwards trying to get the manager and then spots Steve Wozniak.
8:25pm – Penny knows who he is because he was on Dancing with the Stars.Sheldon goes over and tells him he’s his 15th most favorite technological geniuses.
“Thanks we were shooting for nifty.” – Woz.8:26pm – Sheldon tries bringing his computer to the Cheesecake Factory for him to get it signed, but falls down the stairs. Woz calls him a nerd. Awesome.
8:29pm – RoboSheldon just runs into Penny’s door saying “Penny.” Sheldon wants Penny to sing “Soft Kitty” for him because he’s hurt and can’t get out of bed. Sheldon accompanies her with his recorder.
BATMAN: CACOPHONY (DC)
Written by Kevin Smith, drawn by Walt Flanagan
Collects Batman: Cacophony #1-3
I’ve gone on record as a big fan of both Kevin Smith and the podcast of his friends Walt Flanagan and Bryan Johnson, so it might seem like the comic Smith and Flanagan created together starring one of my favorite fiction comics would be a home run, right? Well, not so much.
The first time around when this book came out in issues, I was still at Wizard and read the first one or two issues. The problem I’ve found with Smith’s comics is that they’re wordy as hell and even if the dialogue is fantastic it can feel like trudging through the best marsh with your eyes. That’s what I realized the last time I tried to go back and read his Daredevil run again. Man, there’s a lot of words on that page. Cacophony doesn’t suffer from that too much because, as Smith reveals in his intro to the collection, he read a blog post someone did that pointed out how uncharacteristically verbose and melodramatic Batman came off in the first issue. Smith read this, agreed and went back and tightened up Batman’s words both spoken and thought, which was really necessary (you can read the original script to #3 in the back of the book along with reprints of the variant covers).
The other reason I stopped reading the book back then was that I couldn’t figure out where it fit in with continuity, a problem that I’m embarrassed to say has put me off of many a comic. And, hey, it doesn’t really matter, a good story is a good story and this is a good story. It’s not great by any means as the Smith-created villain Onomatopoeia breaks the Joker out of Arkham and Batman has to deal with both madmen. I’m actually kind of surprised this was just a three issue mini instead of being drawn out into six issues, but instead kept to a number of issues that actually serves the story and still makes a pretty good trade thanks to all the extras. Sure there’s the off color sex stuff like Joker dropping his pants and offering his butt virginity to Onomatopoeia, but what really made this a worthwhile story for me was the conversation at the end between Batman and a heavily medicated Joker who Batman saved from death. I’m used to Batman wondering whether he should kill Joker or let him die, but I dug them talking and Joker telling Batman that he’s crazy because Batman’s in the world. Bats doesn’t say it, but you know it kills him. I’m sure this conversation has happened before and I’ve read it, but this one gets bonus points for referencing Gran Morrison’s JLA story when Martian Manhunter jumps into Joker’s brain (so, continuity-wise, it takes place after that).
The writing’s fun and solid for the most part, but one of the big questions about the book has to focus on the quality of Flanagan’s artwork. I dug it. It’s not the best, most breathtaking artwork you’ve ever seen, but it’s solid and dynamic. Smith addresses the accusations of nepotism in the intro by saying that Flanagan got him into comics, so without him Smith’s comic career would probably not exist and possibly his movies. I say good on him for bringing his friend along for a wild ride and it’s not like Flanagan’s some scrub, he’s got chops, so it’s cool. The pair’s working on Batman: Widening Gyre now (I think) which I wasn’t curious about before but am more so now. I’ll give it a whirl once it’s all out in trade.
As I promised, this week’s column (hopefully columns, actually) will focus on breaking into the world of pop culture writing. I did it the hard way by becoming an intern first. During the Christmas break of my Junior year of college I found an old issue of Wizard that had a whole feature about how to become an intern at various comic companies and what you could expect from the experience. With that and some addresses I found online for a few magazines, I applied to places like DC, Marvel, Rolling Stone, Wizard and some others. I sent out a bunch of resumes in envelopes on nice paper, went back to school and waited (this was right on the edge of when physical resumes were losing favor and everything transferred over to digital).
One day towards the end of the school year, I was awoken by a phone call. I didn’t have classes on Fridays that semester, so I could sleep as long as I wanted. The only reason I even got out of bed was because our phones were set up so you could tell if the call was coming from within the school system or outside (different rings). I figured it might be important, maybe a parent call or something, but it turned out to Matt Senreich, then of Wizard, but soon to leave to go start Robot Chicken. We did a phone interview that I honestly don’t remember much of, though I was worried I sounded like I just got up and a week or so later I found out I got the internship! I was on cloud nine, but I also had a few worries: what if DC or Marvel called and wanted me to intern for them? Where the hell was I going to stay?
Well, the first turned out not to be a problem because I didn’t hear from either of them and don’t know if they ever even got my resumes on pretty paper. Even if they had, I figured that Wizard would be the best place because I’d be potentially interacting with people from all kinds of companies at various levels. My other problem was also soon taken care of when the folks at Wizard suggested renting a room at a nearby religious university called Nyack College. I had a problem with this place right off the bat because they wanted me to sign a paper that promised I would neither do drugs nor dance while on school premises. I swear to you, both of those items were in the same sentence. There was also something forbidding drinking as you might expect. It wasn’t that I wanted to do drugs or dance, but I didn’t like signing away my rights. Without any other real alternative, I swallowed my moral indignation, signed the papers and spent nine weeks living in Nyack, New York, driving to the former site of Wizard in a nearby town on the weekdays, working and spending the weekends in downtown Nyack hanging out in bars and going to barbecues at staffers houses.
I had a ridiculous amount of fun meeting my fellow interns and the rad people who worked at Wizard, ToyFare, Anime Insider and InQuest, but that’s not the point of this piece and I’ve waxed historical for a bit too long I think. I went in thinking I would be a coffee monkey or tasked with making copies, something along those lines and while I did make copies, I also got to mix it up a little by doing some writing and also helping to organize the comic book library. We also got to sit in on planning meetings for upcoming issues which was hugely interesting to me as the various writers and editors threw out ideas for features based on comics that wouldn’t see print for months!
When I wasn’t making copies or filing comics, I would get small assignments. Most of us cut our teeth writing sidebars in the Price Guide. Luckily we were working with some really solid editors who would take the time to pull us aside and tell us what we were doing right and wrong in our pieces (using incorrect tense or verbiage and just getting facts wrong). We also got to write some news stories which sometimes involved actually talking to creators, but I had one assignment that turned into my white whale. I was assigned to talk to the director of that movie Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow, a guy named Kerry Conran. The Hollywood editor at Wizard gave me contact information to set things up with his assistant. I was nervous as hell because even though the director hadn’t done anything (and hasn’t done any features since, this dude was Hollywood and on a whole different level), but gave the assistant a call and…Conran couldn’t do the interview. I called a bunch of times after that trying to nail things down, but it never happened because the movie was like two weeks away from being completed and the timing was really bad. The assistant was super nice and at least sounded like he felt bad about things not working out, but it’s not his fault and there’s no hard feelings, I even dug the movie when I saw it. But I learned a few lessons through this ordeal: not every assignment is going to come through and keeping your editor up to date on what’s happening is super-important, no matter how seemingly bad the news might be. They’d rather find out ahead of time that something’s not going to happen than when it’s too late (I learned that lesson again during my tenure at Wizard and can’t tell you how much I regret needing another lesson).
I learned a lot in those nine weeks. I had no idea how magazines were put together before going in and learned probably about half of the steps that summer (the research and design departments were like foreign territory at that time). In fact, I can honestly say that I leanred more about the magazine world during my few weeks there than I did in four years of college. The amount of lead time magazines work on, especially monthlies, is kind of shocking when you think about it and a lot can go wrong between the time you close the issue (finish all work on it and send it to the printers) and when it comes out. Creators can jump off books or the news can get leaked before the issue comes out, any number of things, but you’ve got to just power through and hope the next issue kicks even more ass.
I also learned basic interview skills. I had done some of this with friends for the lame journalism class I took the first semester of my Freshman year, but I knew those people and I idolized everyone in the comics world, regardless of their status, so it was intimidating. I still get nervous when I interview anyone, even friends in the industry, but it’s all about putting that aside and asking really good, interesting questions and knowing when to freestyle follow up questions. I learned that checking out other interviews with your subject really helps because you can pick up where other interviewers left off and hopefully get more and better information out of them. You don’t want to do the same exact interview they’re doing other places right? The thing to remember is that all of these people, even the biggest names in this or any industry, are just people like anyone else. In my time I’ve talked to down to earth directors and top shelf artists. I always tried to keep my interviews levelheaded, respectful and not too fanboyish. I’ve been present for ultra fanboy interviews and they’re just painful and don’t get great results from what I’ve seen.
The most important thing that I learned at Wizard was time management. In the magazine world, you’ve got a very set time table to do your work in or else it won’t make the issue, someone will have to fill the space and you’ll probably get yelled at. So, even if you’ve got to spend an hour in the comics library organizing the Justice League comics (no easy task unless you’re an uber fan like myself) you’ve got to have a handle on doing the research for your Price Guide sidebar and arranging the interview for your news story. I had those skills before, thanks to high school and college, but my internship showed me exactly how important that skill is when it comes to work. And boy, do I use that now what with writing for several different venues all of which have their own cycles, time tables and due dates. Being organized is key.
So, what you’re really probably wondering is, “How the hell do I get an internship?” I recommend keeping an eye on Journalism Jobs, Media Bistro and Craigslist for whatever area you feel comfortable traveling to. I personally haven’t used those sites to get an internship (before my time), but when I look for new freelance opportunities from time to time I invariably see postings on those sits looking for interns. Be warned, they’re usually unpaid. Even with the seeming decline of print media in New York City, this is still the best place to look for internships at magazines or websites. There’s always someplace you can stay and the fact of the matter is that if you don’t want to move for an internship, they’ll easily fill it with someone else. Maybe you can crash with a relative, family friend, school friend, guy you meet on the subway, rent a hotel room or even get a room at a place we dubbed Footloose University.
Hell, on the way out to New York, my parents drove me in their car and towed my car behind theirs. Somewhere in the Poconos my dads car broke down thanks to a dying alternator. There we were stranded in an SUV with a trailer and a sedan hooked up to that that we couldn’t drive because the drive shaft was disable for towing purposes (or something like that, I don’t know much about cars). I was reading “The Langoliers” at the time which made everything even creepier. We sat there on a busy highway at night waiting for a tow truck that could not only tow my dads car but also my car behind it. He was a really nice guy who also broke the rules and gave all three of us a ride in his cab which was against the rules. We got a hotel room and luckily a mechanic was able to fix my dad’s car soon after. He also fixed my car and I drove it the rest of the way. That night the idea of this whole endeavor being cursed swam through my head and things looked dire (what would happen if I missed my first day as an intern the following Monday?), but then I said something that my parents repeat to me all the time: If it was easy, everyone would do it. Sure, that’s an extreme, weird situation and has nothing to do with writing or working in the pop culture world, but it’s a good motto to live by because there are thousands of people out there who WANT to do the same thing you want to do, but a much smaller number of people who actually do that thing. Another good motto comes from the greatest poet of our day, Jay-Z: “I’m a hustler homey, you a customer crony. Got some, dirt on my shoulder, could you brush it off for me?” Be the hustler, not the customer, but take care of your own shoulders, otherwise everyone will think you’re an asshole.
Give the internship thing a shot. You’ll probably learn a lot of the same things I talked about and a whole lot more as many internships are in the field of website and blog news. This industry is always changing, so the more information you can absorb, the better!
I saw these bug toys in Target and was intrigued because, first, they seemed to hearken back to gross toys of the late 80s/early 90s and second, what’s with that name? Why go with something complicated like Legend of Nara when you could just call these things Bug Fighters and be done with it? Apparently, it’s a whole big thing, as if kids needed an excuse to want to play with fighting bugs. Anyway, these actually look kind of lame (do they just run into each other and see who gets flipped over?), but, hey, more bug toys!
Before 7th grade I wasn’t much of a KISS fan. Sure, I liked “Rock and Roll All Night” and “Detroit Rock City” as much as the next kid who was learning about rock and roll for the first time, but aside from that they weren’t really on my radar. Then they reunited with all four original members (Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehly and Peter Criss) in 1997 and kicked off a tour. My dad–a huge rock fan in his own right who helped introduce me to all kinds of classic rock from the 60s and 70s–brought the idea up to me: “Do you want to see KISS?” I thought about it for about two seconds, said yes and then we started trying to get tickets through the Ticketmaster at Kroger (I don’t believe Ticketmaster was online at that time and if they were, waiting for dial-up to load on our Compaq would have taken longer than the several dozen phone calls I made trying to get through to Ticketmaster). Unfortunately, we didn’t get through and figured we’d have to wait until the next time they came to town.
Later that week, on the way home from dinner or church, we pulled into another grocery store with a Ticketmaster (Food Town, I believe) and my dad ran in. Turns out they had released another group of tickets that were really great seats (up in the stands to the right if you were onstage, but right by the railing). He snatched two up and we were set to go to my very first rock concert. And holy shit, was it amazing. There are plenty of better bands out there in the world than KISS, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find a band that puts on a better stage show. They started playing and it was awesome, then, out of nowhere, a whole wall of speakers raised up behind them, but that was just the beginning. There was fire and flying and blood and the members of the bend coming out on these extending platforms and playing above the crowd (right near us in fact) and it was just awesome, like going to the circus, really. I also think that was the show where the guy next to my dad asked if “your friend” (meaning me) wanted a hit from the dude’s joint. He told the guy that I was his son and the guy was like “Oh, okay, do you want a hit?” My dad declined, but it’s still a funny story. After that, I was hooked. Not so much on the music, but the whole idea of KISS. In fact, I own more toys based on the band than actual KISS CDs (the only ones I own are the greatest hits Double Platinum and their post-reunion original Psycho Circus. Hell I even had a KISS tie (the third from the left in the picture above). See, I went to an all guy Catholic high school where we had to wear a shirt and tie every day, but they didn’t care what ties. I distinctly remember sitting in class one time and this dude leans over and says “Hey, KISS sucks,” like it was going to destroy my world. I looked at him and said “No shit, but they put on an awesome show.” He then said they weren’t as good as Jimi Hendrix which made me want to dope slap him and say “No shit,” but I didn’t. Sure, I’d rather see Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd live in concert because they are and were amazing musicians and bands, but that’s not happening so I’ll take what I can get. Like I said, the action figures from Todd McFarlane came out at just the right time because I was not only a huge comic and toy geek, but also getting into KISS. There’s not much of a leap from liking superheroes to liking KISS what with their masks, crazy costumes and that fact that toys were being made of them and of course every geek worth his salt knows that Simmons borrowed elements of Blackbolt’s costume for his stage look. I got all of the above figures and still have them in a box in our storage unit along with a few others. I think my dad may have gotten them for me for Christmas or my birthday or something. It was cool because he was never into toys or comics, but this was an easy bridge for us to meet on. Soon enough their highly anticipated (eh maybe just somewhat anticipated) new record Psycho Circus came out and the band went on another tour that my dad and I got tickets for, but this time we took my dad’s brother and his son who’s about three years younger than me with us. Ted Nugent opened for them which was awesome and then KISS came out and did their thing. I think my dad and I were into it way more than my cousin and uncle, but what are you gonna do? I don’t remember that show as vividly, but I know I had a good time and anticipated all the gags I remembered from the first time around and wasn’t disappointed. There’s something about sitting in your seat and feeling the heat from the pyrotechnics that just screams ROCK to me. I even like the record, especially the song “We Are One.”Such a fan was I that I even picked up a bootleg copy of the TV movie KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park which is awesomely bad and ridiculous. I wish I had my copy here in New York because I really want to watch it for my upcoming daily horror movie double feature throughout October. The only scene I really remember is one where the band (or maybe just Gene) are sitting on director’s chairs outside and some guy runs up to them. Man, it’s bad, but perfectly so.
Anyway, my love affair with KISS would not last forever. Eventually Gene and Paul became too much to work with and Peter and Ace bounced (or were bounced? I don’t recall) from the band and I didn’t really care about seeing them live anymore (what’s the point of seeing impostors once you’ve seen the real thing?). Plus, I went to realize what an asshole Gene Simmons is. I always knew he was a world class hustler getting the KISS name on everything from coffins to condoms, but I’d learn from various sources that he’s also an asshole. The last nail in the coffin for my fandom was seeing his “reality show” Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels which stated off as what seemed like a look at a fairly down to earth family who just happen to be famous and wealthy and turned into one of the worst, stagey reality shows I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot of them). Oh and then his son plagiarized a bunch of manga for his comics or whatever. Blech.
So, while I wouldn’t call myself a die-hard KISS fan anymore, I still have a lot of fond memories from the band thanks to their tours and every now and then I’ll smile when one of their songs comes up on my iPod’s shuffle mix, but I don’t think I’d call myself a fan anymore. They served their purpose and really built a concert bond between my dad and I that I hope we can continue at some point (the last show we went to together was The Who’s tour right after bass player John Entwistle died back in 2002), so for that I’ll always be thankful.
Unlike say, Salt & Pepper or Murderer’s Row, Sergeants 3 is a full-on Rat Pack movie because all five remembers actually appear in it. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford make up the main leads, but Joey Bishop’s also there too. I think Ocean’s 11 is the only other movie that boasts the full roster. Anyway, this one’s apparently a remake of Gunga Din, though it might not have been intended as such. Hollywood legend (and the IMDb Trivia Page for the flick) says that the filmmakers had to pay out a bunch of money towards the makers of GD in order to get S3 released. Whether it was an out-ripe rip-off or a series of honest mistakes I have no idea because 1. I wasn’t there and 2. I haven’t seen GD yet (it’s sitting in my to watch pile from Netflix).
So, here’s the basic plot as far as I could follow: Sinatra, Martin, Lawford and Bishop are all in the Cavalry out west. They’re a rambunctious group who loves carousing, drinking and fighting, but they’re also apparently pretty damn good at their jobs which include trying to find a bunch of murderous Indians called Ghost Dancers. Meanwhile, Lawford wants to get out of the service so he can get married and Davis–a freed slave–wants to join up and kind of tags along, helping where he can here and there.
I’ll be honest, the plot seems a little overcomplicated and I didn’t quite catch everything. The Sergeants 3 spend so much time not chasing down the Ghost Dancers, that you almost forget that’s the point of the movie. I’ll also say, some of the editing is crap, but I think that comes from the well known fact that Sinatra would only ever do one take of anything, which results in some off-looking fight scenes.
However, as a Rat Pack fan, this film is fantastic. Dean plays the charming drunk as a cowboy really well and does one of my favorite gags in the movie involving shooting Roman candles at the invaders which Lawford accidentally replaces with dynamite. Frank is basically Frank, being the tough guy leader, Lawford brings some legitimacy to the proceedings with his acting skills and Bishop (who I’m not sure if I could pick out of a line-up) does well as the straight man but Davis really shines in this flick. This guy was SO talented. The movie might feel a little uneven with its mix of seriousness and cartoony action (the aforementioned dynamite scene), but Davis always feels genuine and real. I even got a little choked up when he got what he wanted throughout the whole movie at the end.
So, in the end Sergeants 3 isn’t the greatest movie ever made. It’s got crazy mood swings and feels like what it is: a movie made by a bunch of friends so they could make a movie and hang out, but even with all that, I love seeing these guys on screen together. And, for what it’s worth, the movie looks amazing. They shot out in Utah and man, that desert and mountains look amazing on film even all these years later. I bet this thing would benefit from a Blu-ray transfer.
The missus and I have been wanting to head to the Warwick Drive-In all summer, but the pairings of movies have either been uninteresting or we’ve either been out of town on good weekends. See, they’ve got three screens set up and each one shows two movies. We had never been to this drive-in, but we had a great time when we went last night to see Going The Distance and The Other Guys. As an added bonus, I could see the screen showing Expendables and kept peeping the awesome action scenes while listening to Other Guys.
Before getting into my review of Going The Distance, which I dug, doesn’t that not look like Drew Barrymore in the poster to the left? It’s kind of unsettling. Otherwise, I dig the poster.
Anyway, the movie’s about Barrymore and Justin Long a pair that meet in Brooklyn’s Barcade (one of the few hip places I’ve been in the city, though I could barely handle the overabundance of hipsters, go fig), but the problem is that Barrymore is an intern at a NYC paper and will be heading back to California in a few weeks. They don’t plan on making a big deal of their relationship, but find that they really dig each other and give the long distance relationship thing a shot.
Sounds kind of formulaic, right? Yeah, it kind of is. Both Long and Barrymore have sexy friends and coworkers of the opposite sex who make the partner jealous. But, even with all of that, I thought the movie was surprisingly funny. I didn’t realize it was rated R and they really go with it, having the usually disgustingly saccharine Barrymore dropping F bombs and drunkenly telling a huge biker to suck her dick. So, I went in expecting yet another Barrymore romantic comedy with Long’s awkward comedic stylings (which I like for the most part), but with the inclusion of Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day as Long’s friends and Christina Applegate and Jim Gaffigan (who is the only comedian in recent memory to make me laugh so hard I cried) as Barrymore’s sister and brother in law there’s a lot of funny moments going on like when Day, Long’s roommate, starts DJing Barrymore and Long’s first hookup and they’re both okay with it. Those unexpectedly funny moments made me laugh.
The problem with some of those moments and others where they seem to be letting Sydeikis or Applegate riff is that the movie feels about 10 minutes too long which is fair considering it’s 102 minutes. I’m a strong proponent of comedies not exceeding the magic 90-minute marker. Instead of cutting the funny bits, though, I would have just gotten rid of Applegate’s sexy British work friend who winds up disappearing after an awkward moment between the two when Barrymore gets super drunk. All in all, though, I was surprised at how funny the movie was and how much I didn’t mind the tropes of the romantic comedy genre shown by some legitimately funny actors and actresses.
I’m not a huge fan of writer/director Adam McKay’s but I’m getting there. Anchroman befuddled me when I first watched it, but I think that’s because I didn’t know what to expect and definitely wasn’t thinking it would be a life-like cartoon. Talladega Nights and Stepbrothers were pretty good, but didn’t blow me away, however, I really loved the shorts he did with his daughter Pearl “The Landlord” and the like. Plus, he wrote tons of sketches for SNL that I’m sure I loved during his long tenure on the show where he met up with Will Ferrell, the star of all the aforementioned movies and videos.
The Other Guys is about two low-men-on-the-totem-pole cops played by Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg who go after a low level criminal which winds up being a huge deal, referencing many of the financial problems we’ve seen in this country over the past few years. The plot reminds me of a lot of 80s and 90s buddy cop action movies I like, which is fun because they reference that genre by featuring the Rock and Sam Jackson as your action-packed cops.
I was glad to see Ferrell not playing his usual manchild character. Sure, he’s cartoony, but this time around he’s more buttoned up, but has a dark side. Meanwhile, Wahlberg plays the caricature of the pent-up cop perfectly. You’ve also got actors like Damon Wayans Jr., Rob Riggle, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan and Eva Mendes doing great, funny work in the movie that makes it a lot of fun to watch. There’s lots of silliness going on here, but I think it’s the most grounded movie that McKay and Ferrell have made, which would probably also make it the most accessible (having Wahlberg and Mendes can’t hurt either). I dug this movie and appreciated that I could watch the action scenes in Expendables and not miss any plot points. Speaking of action scenes, the one in the beginning of Other Guys features the Rock and Sam Jackson in a car chase that gets stuck in a double decker bus. It’s awesome.
Both movies were set in New York, so it was fun looking for the few locales I’m familiar with. The two movies also had some interesting connections for Six Degrees fans: Rob Riggle appears in both as an asshole and both feature The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers, a driving range that overlooks the Hudson River. I’ve never been there and didn’t even know it existed until I saw Long, Sudeikis and Day hitting balls there in the first movie and then a helicopter landing on it in the second. Fun stuff!
The drive-in experience was a lot of fun. We took the missus’ car which has a hatchback and built ourselves a nice little nest in the back. I wasn’t sure how comfortable it would be lying in the back, but it was pretty great and the weather was perfect. The food we bought there wasn’t too bad, but the snacks we brought in were kind of unnecessarily and I wound up with a stomach ache (combining hamburgers, chewie Jolly Ranchers, soda and Kit Kats is not the best idea). Hopefully we can get a few more double features in before the end of the season! Also, I think I might have seen a UFO!
I missed last week’s installment of Sketchbook Saturday and this week, I’m not continuing the chronological order I started with previous installments, instead carrying on this week’s theme of Preacher, which I talked about in great detail in this week’s Trade Post. Hell, I’ve even posted this image before, back when I talked about 2009’s Wizard World Philly. As I mentioned back then, I was dead set on getting a Steve Dillon sketch. I didn’t have a lot of responsibilities during the show (I was working for ToyFare at the time), but I would have shirked them all to stand in line for a Dillon Preacher sketch. Even though I didn’t have anything else I had to be doing, I was still paranoid that one of the big bosses would pass by and see me there. I’ve never been good at using what little name I have in the industry to get sketches and I have no problem standing in line for something I really want, but I was looking around like a hawk.
For the record, Dillon looks like a complete badass, like he just fought his way from wherever he was last week. He hurried in, sat down, pulled out some drawing materials and went to town. The missus was standing with me in line and I was losing my geeky mind waiting for my turn. I don’t remember how much I paid for the CBLDF donation to get the sketch, but it was completely worth it. Watching him draw one of my all-time favorite characters is one of my favorite comic-related memories. I still remember how he drew the hair! Actually, now that I think about it, this might have been the last sketch I got. I need to man up and start getting more!
THE PLAYERS: Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson on guitar and vocals.
THE STORY: The four baddest outlaws in country music got together to sing some of the best damn story songs in the history of music. They recorded three albums before Jennings passed away in 2002. Nuff said.
I remember the very first time I heard about The Highwaymen. I was an intern at Wizard, rooming with Brian Warmoth at Nyack College over the summer and he played a few songs from one of their records on his laptop. At the time I might have picked up one of those Walmart Johnn Cash Super Hits CDs or that might have come later, but I did have a general disdain towards country–you know the stuff they play on the radio or even VH1 sometimes. I didn’t realize there was so much better country out there. Anyway, he explained the supergroup to me, that it included Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson. The idea of it was very intriguing. Later, during my senior year of college, I went to Walmart once again (there’s not a lot to do in Delaware, Ohio) and picked up a Super Hits Highwaymen CD. Damn, it’s good stuff. Since then, I’ve gone on to listen to lots more Cash and was blown away when I got Nelson’s Stardust earlier this year. The most I’ve listened to Jennings is on Highwaymen records and the only extra Kirstofferson stuff I’ve heard was on my SNL DVDs when he hosted way back in 1976 (he was better known to me for his turn in the Blade movies).
Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to come across the Highwaymen’s first record which was just called Highwayman. At the time, the band didn’t really have a name, they just went by their last names. It wasn’t much of a leap from Highwayman to Highwaymen and there you have it. Many of the tracks on the first record are on the Super Hits version I have, so they were familiar to me by the time I listened to it, but there were a few newbies like the Cash/Nelson sung “Committed To Parkview” a haunting track about two men in a mental institution. On their own, these guys were masters of the story-song, but together they’re like a Voltron of the form. Much like the Traveling Wilburys these four men came together to play some amazing music which retained their individual skills but also sounded awesome together. I’ve only listened to the Super Hits and the first record, but I’ve got my eye out for the other two and will look around to see if there’s any performance DVDs on Netflix. My one complaint about the recordings is that they’re kind of over-produced. You could have just put these guys in a room with their guitars, amps and a few mics and just put it on wax like Rick Rubin did with Cash towards the end of his life and also Neil Diamond on 12 Songs. Maybe a more lo-fi remaster is in order.