Jersey Shore Season Three Reunion

The third season reunion of Jersey Shore was pretty weak sauce. Filled with mostly boring rehashes of things that were annoying the first time around, there were only a few highlights to mention. Time for bullet points!

*Mike likes to put the girls he brings back to the house in his clothes so they’re easier to remove.

*Snooki does not look good. Way too orange. She also says whatever was between her and Vinny is dead. Vinny does not agree.

*JWOWW says she should have dumped Tom when she cheated on him with Pauly. She’s still with Roger. She looks fantastic.

*Ronnie has a good point: Sammi was happy when Mike told her that the note was real in season 2, but mad when he told the truth about Sammi and Arvin.

*Ronnie and Sammi are still broken up. Neither of them are saying they’ll never get back together.

That’s about it. I noticed two things about this reunion. Actually, the missus pointed out the first one: the laughter and crowd noise sounded really canned. Second, they should just have Pauly host these things as the woman who does is charmless and just keeps asking the same question in different forms over and over again. I’m glad the season’s over. I need a break. What’s that? Real Housewives Of New York is kicking off at the same time soon? Oi.

Blogging Big Bang Theory Season 4 “The Zarnecki Incursion”

I’ve missed Big Bang Theory lately thanks to a mix of reruns and errands keeping us away from the house. This seems like a really strange TV season in that new episodes have been very scattershot ever since Thanksgiving. Anyway, I had fun with tonight’s episode which was split between Sheldon dealing with a hacker who stole all of his in-game World Of Warcraft stuff and Penny dealing with seeing Leonard and Priya together. The episode kicks off with Leonard returning home to see Sheldon in hysterics talking to a police officer about something being stolen. It soon comes to light that it was his WoW account that got hacked and everything he had spent 3000 amassing was now gone. The cop leaves because, well, that’s not what cops do and Sheldon’s left waiting for his friends to get done with baths and other activities to come over and help him figure out what’s going on.

Sheldon really got to shine in this episode as everything was all about him, but without his friends getting annoyed with him, something that rarely happens. They’re all on his side, trying to figure out what’s going on. Penny even brings Sheldon a day-old cheesecake to help ease the pain. She passes Priya on her way back to her place where she soon finds herself complaining to Amy and Bernadette about having Priya’s relationship with Leonard rubbed in her face over spiked ice cream. There’s a great moment where Penny offers Amy Khalua on her ice cream and remembers her mom telling her about peer pressure. She agrees to the taste and announces she’s drunk after one bite. Mayim Bialik is such a perfect fit in this show now that they’ve established her as friends with Bernadette and Penny. Bernadette and Amy decided to be mean towards Priya partly because they’re friends with Penny and partly because it’s what primates do.Back in the boys’ apartment, the guys are assembled to help Sheldon get his WoW gear back. Raj offers to let his lady character have sex with someone to get information about who the thief is. Priya’s none too pleased to be waiting for her boyfriend to play a game with his friends and takes off. 

Next, the boys head to confront Todd Zarnecki after Howard discovers his true identity (and after they stop  by his house to watch Wheel Of Fortune with his mom, though she’s not in the room, of course). They drive down, rocking out to a quest music CD Raj put together, hit traffic and finally get to his house. Sheldon even brought a Bat’leth which I’m ashamed to say I knew right away, though thankfully didn’t know how to spell correctly. Todd’s kind of a giant nerd who refuses to give Sheldon his stuff back and swipes the Klingon weapon, closes the door and the guys are back in the car. Leonard’s car breaks down, so they call Penny to come get them (he lied to Priya and told her he was working late). Penny first notes that Leonard’s lying to his girlfriend and then heads back to Todd’s house, kicks the giant in the junk and makes him swear to give Sheldon his stuff back.

All in all, the episode isn’t really important in the greater sense of the show as an overall story, but it was still really funny and balanced the stories and characters well together, no small feat considering this episode had nine important characters all with their own jokes and beats. Well done all around.

FAVORITE MOMENTS/QUOTES

“They took my battle ostrich.” – Sheldon. “Oh, no, not Glen.” – Leonard.

“Can you at least point me in the direction of a rogue ex cop?” – Sheldon.

“There’s not enough chamomile tea in the world to quell the rage in our heart.” – Sheldon.

Penny explaining she had to carry Leonard when they were dating and she had to drag him to the beach. Bernadette one-ups her by saying that Howard almost burst into flame like a vampire.

“Drunk” and surly Amy.

Priya and Penny walking up the stairs in awkward silence.

Real World Watcher: Las Vegas Episode 4 “Three Hookups And A Break Up”

Hey, everyone, Nany kind of sucks. It became clear to me while watching this week’s episode that she went out to Las Vegas looking for any excuse to break up with her boyfriend. Judging a relationship from the outside is impossible, even moreso when it’s on TV and you only get to see one person taking about it, but it seems like Nany was the bad one in that pairing and Jordy was the good one. I’m jumping the gun again, though. The episode kicked off with Leroy talking about how Adam is clearly pushing Nany to break up with her boyfriend. While Adam and Nany go grab some breakfast, that’s the topic of conversation for the other roommates and Leroy’s opinion seems to be the general consensus. While eating their meal (I’m guessing they get to eat free as long as they’re in the Hard Rock casino) Adam talks about how hard it is living with someone he’s so attracted to who has a boyfriend. Nany replies that it’s equally hard for her and that she feels so alone in the house. Really? Continue reading Real World Watcher: Las Vegas Episode 4 “Three Hookups And A Break Up”

DC Focus Trade Post: Fraction & Hard Time

FRACTION (DC)
Written by David Tischman, drawn by Timothy Green II
Collects Fraction #1-6
A few years back DC tried something interesting called Focus, the idea being to tell superhero/fantasy/sci-fi-based stories not constrained by the larger DCU. None but Hard Time seemed to have any legs as the rest got cancelled mostly within six months. That definitely presents a problem when collecting these comics and it’s a huge problem with Fraction. The concept is solid, with a quartet of friends coming across a battle suit while on a crime spree and splitting its parts between them. The boots let one guy fly, the gauntlets shoot energy blasts, the helmet has a lot of discoverable functions and the chest plate is protective.

The strengths of this book include Tischman’s solid characterization of these four dudes (even if they might come across as a little basic given the first six issues), the concept and Green’s excellent art. He was actually the reason I decided to read this book as I became a huge fan of his when he worked on Starlord.

The problems with this book are in the execution of the story. SPOILERS AHEAD. There’s a guy working for the company that created the suit who has been hired to get the parts back from our “heroes.” He’s a pretty big threat until his boss shuts him down. Unfortunately, that happens around the fourth issue (it’s hard to tell because they don’t break them up with the covers like a lot of other trades) and we’re left without a larger antagonist for our boys to be afraid of. Sure, they’re dealing with the law, but nothing bigger. Four more dudes in the armors get sent out, but the book ends with them literally still in the air on their way to get these guys. Wah wah. It’s kind of like if Darth Vader had been defeated 2/3 of the way through New Hope and the Emperor doesn’t send anyone else to kill Luke Skywalker.

Anyway, with the book’s cancellation or just a poor ending to a six issue run, Fraction doesn’t really pay off for the time it takes to read unless you’re just a fan of looking at Green’s art, which is exactly as awesome as you’d think it would.

HARD TIME: 50 TO LIFE (DC)
Written by Steve Gerber, drawn by Brian Hurtt
Collects Hard Time #1-6
After reading Fraction, I remembered that I had the one and only Hard Time volume sitting in one of my to-read boxes. I figured that would make for an interesting themed post, so I went with it. Hard Time is a take on the Columbine killers if one of them didn’t really want to hurt anyone, didn’t kill himself, had some kind of superpowers and went to jail. When Ethan passes out a red energy monster thing starts running around and taking vengeance on his enemies. This volume focuses on the crime itself (Ethan never hurt anyone and only went in on this as a joke, but his powers did kill his friend/co-criminal) and then Ethan’s early days in prison. It’s a pretty interesting and ballsy comic which should come as no surprise when you look at Steve Gerber’s career. I am surprised DC put the book out though. I’ve been on a Prison Break kick lately, so reading Hard Time was like checking out a different side of that coin.

But, the book is not without its problems. I have trouble buying the idea that a teenager would get sent to gen pop in a prison, especially knowing that he didn’t kill anyone. That’s ridiculous. Having so much trouble with the fulcrum the story balances on nearly made me put the trade down, but I kept with it. The other problem I have with the story is how vaguely defined Ethan’s supernatural abilities are. After six issues all we know is that it can smash a guy into bars, throw toilet paper all over the cell block and walk around mostly unseen throughout the prison. That’s it. I was hoping to have a better grasp of that by the end of the collection, but was left feeling kind of empty.

Unfortunately, DC hasn’t collected the rest of this series which went on for two volumes and 19 issues total. At the end of the first trade, I’m not completely sold on whether I should track down the rest of those issues or not. I’m kind of intrigued, but not super interested, especially if it would cost a significant amount of coin. I think I’m going to let this one fade out of my mind with a possible eye towards the cheap boxes at cons for what I haven’t read yet. I know this book had it’s fans, what do you think?

Ad It Up: Freedom Stick

The first wireless controller I ever had was for the Xbox 360 and that amount of freedom was pretty mindblowing. I can’t imagine if I had that kind of tech when I was a kid (this ad was from Silver Surfer #18, from 1988). Holy crap, I think that’s the year I got my Nintendo. I could never get into this controller set up though. I love it when actually standing up and playing an arcade game, but not when sitting in my room moving Mario around.

A Few Thoughts On Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

I took a break from my consumption of Prison Break to go through a few movies my Instant Netflix Queue told me were expiring soon and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was on the top of the list because it was expiring soonest, was directed by Howard Hawks, stars Marilyn Monroe and, most importantly, it’s pretty short. I didn’t intend for this to be a full-on review, but it kind of morphed into one as I thought more and more about the movie. So, let’s jump in.

I’m always forget the artificiality involved with romantic comedies from the 1950s. In this case, Monroe’s character has a thing for men with money because she wants to be taken care of while her dancing partner played by Jane Russell likes the handsome fellas. Neither deviate from this path, nor do they seem to fully understand the other’s position. Everything ends exactly how you think it will, but it really is the journey that’s important and this journey involves a cruise liner, the US Olympic team and Paris, so at least there’s something to look at aside from the ladies and the dance numbers. On the other hand, there’s a kind of brutal honesty involved in this story and the portrayal of the characters. Sure, things wind up well for them, but there’s something to be said about people staying steadfast to their desires. Those things don’t just change overnight or thanks to an imagined betrayal of trust. People have a hard time changing and this movie goes along those lines from beginning to end, you just keep looking until someone fills the cut-out you’re looking for. Sometimes that’s forever sometimes it’s for now. Relationships are tricky. Okay enough philosophy. Jane Russell was totally barking up the wrong tree if she thought these dudes would be into her:

They ain’t there for love with you honey, but I bet they have a grand old time together. Speaking of which, George Winslow would have been about 6 or 7 if my math is correct when he played Mr. Henry Spofford III and got to sit between Russell and Monroe. If he wasn’t king of his world by that point, I don’t know what it must take to impress Hollywood kids. He also steals scenes from his counterparts like a master pickpocket picking off tourists in Times Square.

Killing it. Anyway, the most famous part of this movie is Marylin performing “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” which I’ve seen before in various clip shows and copied/parodied/homaged a million times. The number itself was pretty much what I expected. This movie isn’t really jam packed with epic dance numbers. I read that the filmmakers had to teach Monroe to dance less sexy and Russell to spice it up a bit. That really comes through in the performances. Russell’s stiff and seems like she should be playing more straight ahead comedic roles without dancing or striking dark ladies in mystery flicks. I know nothing about her, but she does get to show her comedic and sexy sides, I’m just not sure if the dancing fits. Her impersonating Monroe at the end of the film and doing this number on her own is pretty  fantastic. I wish I could dance my way out of my next parking ticket.

Casting Internets

I got to talk to Tim Seeley a little while back about Hack/Slash and the results are now up on CBR. It was a blast.

The lack of video games based on horror icons is pretty shocking. Not since the NES, have we had a Nightmare On Elm Street or Friday The 13th game. Well, The Weinstein Company has just announced a video game branch according to Bloody Disgusting which means you might be able to control Michael Myers or Pinhead sooner rather than later.

Gilda Radner in a comic? More like Young Woman of the Decade, but I won’t quibble with Young Love. Posted on Sequential Crush, via Tom Spurgeon.

Congrats to Diary Of A Wimpy Kid 2 for kicking ass at the box office this weekend. Kinda surprised the teenage boy contingent didn’t come out in droves for Sucker Punch, but them’s the breaks.

This pre-release talk with Zack Snyder on Spinoff doesn’t add to my enjoyment of the Sucker Punch, but his theory on why movies and video games are fundamentally different rings pretty damn true.

I kind of want to make out with Mondo‘s Kill Bill poster. Can’t wait for The Whole Bloody Affair to finally be on DVD.

Neil Diamond’s The Bang Years 1966-1968 sounds like a pretty rad record. Wonder how it holds up to other greatest hits discs of his. (via Rolling Stone)

Ron Marz’s Shelf Life from March 10th about his mom almost made me cry. Definitely worth a read for anyone whose parents encouraged them when they were younger.

Reading Jim Shooter’s amazing blog chronicling his career in comics is not only amazing, but makes me wonder if it’s just too damn hard to get into the comic writing game.

Wish my library looked like this. (via Wired)

I watched The Road last night and was bored pretty quickly. I went back and read the review for the not-really-a-horror-movie on Horror Movie A Day and he sums up my thoughts pretty concisely.

Revisiting Prison Break Season 2 (2006-2007)

To say I’m enjoying re-watching Prison Break would be quite an understatement. I finished the first season in a few days and it only took me five days to watch the second only because the weekend hit and I had other stuff to do. No offense to my lovely wife, but the benefit of liking a show she doesn’t care about is that I can burn through them like crazy. It’s to the point where I’m neglecting most other forms of entertainment from current TV to Netflix discs (I’ve had The Road sitting here for over a week because of this show) and even podcasts, though I still listen to/watch those while cooking or playing Xbox. Anyway, I liked the second season as much as the first but I can see how it might have lost some people. While the first season involved a lot of suspension of disbelief (guards not seeing or hearing things, etc.) this one had a lot of close calls and people showing up at exactly the perfect time to save someone else’s ass. And yet, I don’t care.

The beauty of Prison Break‘s second season is that it doesn’t rest on its laurels. The drama of the first season was how or if Michael’s plan would work, how his tattoos plaid into the whole thing and whether he could trust the people he either brought in or had to bring in to his inner circle to get out. Now, some of those elements are still there (the tats still contain aspects of their escape and he can’t seem to completely escape some of his fellow escapees), but now we’re focused on survival, trying to figure out a way to prove their innocence and eluding a series of enemies all much more formidable than prison guards and fellow cons.

The key to this season, as far as I’m concerned, was found in the performances. Most of the escapees got their own stories and a chance to show what they had before leading to death or further freedom. I still have no idea what kind of accent John Abruzzi was supposed to have, but he was put to the test and failed. C-Note did his damndest to save his family, but it wasn’t an easy road. Hell, even Haywire had more interesting moments than he probably had any right to (which included a guest appearance by future Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco). But, as I’ve come to expect from this series, most of the emotional heavy lifting is done by T-Bag who runs the gamut from slithery asshole to creepy predator and charmer to lovesick fool. The writers give him a ton to do and he bears the weight with ease. There’s moments where you almost, ALMOST feel bad for the dude. The same can be said for Alex Mahone who came in this season as a kind of bad guy, a bent FBI agent whose strings were being pulled with the threat of harm to his family hanging over his head. The linchpin, though, was that he was just as smart as Michael. Another tragic figure in this story, Mahone’s path does not wind up where you would have expected as the series kicked off.

The season ends with plenty of game changers, which is another element of the series I appreciate. Like I said with the first season, it feels like the seasons are planned out as giant arcs with plenty of smaller arcs built into them with plenty of bad things happening to good people to keep you interested. A lot of series’ kick off with a wild first season where it seems like they throw all their best ideas into the pot immediately without much thought for further seasons. Sure, you can never know how long you’ll be on the air, but how bad did Heroes get after the first season? How about Desperate Housewives (yeah, I watched the first season and still think it’s pretty good, though I haven’t seen it since it first aired)? You get the feeling with those shows that they had this desire to top themselves that wound up creating some ridiculous situations or arcs that had no chance of comparing favorably to the more thought-out ones in the earlier/first seasons. With Prison Break it’s pretty simple: Season One has them escaping a prison, Season Two sees them trying to stay free, Season Three has them unfairly locked up in a crazy Mexican prison and the Fourth…well, I don’t quite remember. That’s a pretty basic set-up, but it makes sense. Expect another one of these posts by the end of this week because the third season was shortened by the writer’s strike and comes in at 12 or 13 episodes if memory serves.

Friday Fisticuffs: Sucker Punch (2011)

I was pretty jazzed about seeing Sucker Punch. I dig Zack Snyder as a director for the most part, with 300 and Watchmen being part of my DVD collection, plus the kitchen sink feel of the movie with everything from giant mechs and steampunk zombies to gorgeous ladies and guns really made me curious. Aside from the trailers, I tried to avoid pretty much everything said about the movie because I was really curious how it was all going to fit together. I’m not sure how I feel about the finished product. I think it will get compared to Inception because both are action films operating on several levels of reality, but I do not think Sucker Punch holds up nearly as well as Inception. I’m going to take a similar approach to this review as it’s nearly impossible to talk about this movie without getting into spoiler territory. There will be three levels of spoilers in the review: conceptual, story and ending, each will be labeled with caps at the beginning. Dive in as deep as you want.

CONCEPTUAL SPOILERS I went into this flick knowing that most of the wild action was taking place in our heroine Baby Doll’s mind. I’ve got no problem with that and it certainly helps explain the genre cocktail that makes up a good chunk of this movie. As I mentioned, there’s three levels at work in the movie. You’ve got the real world (which is still a pretty stylized, time-lost one, but you get the idea), a world where the inmates of the asylum Baby Doll finds herself in imagining themselves as dancers/prostitutes and the battleground world filled with robots and zombies. The border between CONCEPTUAL and STORY SPOILERS gets a little blurry here, so let’s assume the following is a little bit of both. Baby Doll is locked up in the asylum, Real World world switches to the Dancer World pretty quickly without bouncing back and forth until the end. It’s while in Dancer World that Baby Doll goes inside herself where a guy dubbed Wise Man on IMDb explains five key things she’ll need to get out of there (this also happens to be Battle World). While in her head in what I’ll call Battle World, Baby Doll is doing some apparently amazing dancing in Dancer World. The items she needs are pretty basic and ones we’ve seen in either Real or Dancer world.

STORY SPOILERS In Real World, it’s explained that a shrink played by Carla Gugino uses theater-like tactics to get the inmates to deal with their pasts. So, it might seem like the whole Dancer World  set-up is supposed to be the girls (or maybe just one girl) working through their issues. In Dancer World the scumbag who runs the asylum runs a club and keeps the girls there. Instead of theater therapy, they go through dance class, but they still have to perform chores around the place.

STORY SPOILERS The problem I have with this world jumping is that they don’t seem to be super related to one another. Even when one of the other girls (Sweat Pea, Blondie, Rocket and Blondie) is doing the swiping of the item in Dancer World, Baby tends to take center stage in Battle World. There’s a real lack of correlation between the two worlds that left me feeling flat. I love seeing hot chicks blasting steampunk zombies as much as the next guy, and I think the creativity put into the Battle World set-ups is pretty fantastic (ie, they’re not JUST zombies, but they’re steam-powered Nazi-ish zombies), but another problem is that the movie gets kind of formulaic and patterned, which gets a little boring, even with the kick ass action. They need something, Baby Doll dances in Dancer World, the girls kick ass in Battle World, they get it in Dancer World and they move on. Things get really crazy at the end of the movie, which cuts off the repetition, but I’m still on the fence as to whether the end makes up for it.

ENDING SPOILERS Things get pretty nuts in the last third or so of the movie. Plans fall through, bad things happen and even worse things happen to the girls. I didn’t feel a lot of tension during this part of the movie because I was a little bored by the repetition, but the surprises were still pretty surprising. There’s a very strange flip at the end that tries to make you buy that SUPER SPOILERS the story is really about Sweet Pea. This came out of left field for me and doesn’t really make sense, especially when you consider that Baby Doll is not only our entryway into the world but also the very clear hero of the entire thing. I guess it’s possible that, since we see Sweet Pea on the stage in the Real World that we jump into her brain from here on out, but I’m not convinced. There’s some voiceover stuff in the beginning and end about guardian angels and dragons, but it didn’t land with me. I was impressed with how sad the ending is (voiceover not included). Things do not end well for these girls, which is kind of surprising for a big almost summer action movie. Maybe things will make more sense on a second viewing, but I’m not jumping at the chance to do so.

It’s too bad that the varying realities didn’t really match up and the ending didn’t land with me because, this flick kicks off incredibly well. Snyder introduces us to Baby Doll, shows us how wronged she really was and places her in the asylum all with very little dialog. He keeps the interesting stylistic choices going throughout the movie, from a shot the pans from one side of a bank of mirrors to the other (took me a minute to realize the trickery here and I have no idea how he did it) to the reflective shots of the girls kicking robot ass, everything about this movie screams “feast for the eyes.” The CGI gets a little obvious at times, but those moments were quick enough for me that they didn’t stick in my craw too much. I think this review came off as a little more negative than my actual reaction to the movie, but things aren’t marinating with me well. Why would all the girls think they were dancers? Are their Battle World get-ups supposed to say something about their characters? If so, I’m not seeing them. I was definitely left disappointed by the story, but I’m not completely writing it off. I’m open to interpretations and theories. Anyone got one?

Casting Internets

I talked to Greg Pak about him ending his run on Hulk with “Heart Of The Monster” over on Marvel.com. I also chatted with David Liss about his upcoming “Storm Hunter” arc on Black Panther.

I also talked to Jimmy Palmiotti about his upcoming one-shot called The Tattered Man with Justin Gray on CBR.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if the director’s cut of the 90s Captain America movie wound up being awesome? /Film only mentions a Blu-ray version, I hope they do a regular DVD as well because, well, I’m a Luddite when it comes to such things. Making it two hours and less action-y, though? We’ll see.

The new US co-produced season of Torchwood kicks off on July 8th on Starz which hopefully means it will be on Netflix Instant the next day. (via Topless Robot)

Yeah, this seems about right. Good work Sean.

My buddy Alex Segura talked to Robot 6 earlier this week. Interesting stuff.

Ben Morse sent me this link about Snooki being three hours late for a WWE shoot and reportedly being pretty sloshed the whole time. Remember when she wasn’t a walking parody of herself? Yeah, I’m starting to forget too. (via 411Mania)

If you’re a fan of reubens and macaroni and cheese, I highly recommend making Rachel Ray‘s Recipe for reuben mac and cheese, it’s AMAZING.

Beau Smith talks about things he misses over on The Flying Fist Ranch. I also miss him writing Guy Gardner Warrior, one of my all time favorite books.

I really enjoyed reading this Rolling Stone article about Alice In Chains from 1992.