Sunday, December 06, 2009

Getting Down With the Clown!

The other night I just zoning in and out of another predictably underwhelming new episode of Saturday Night Live when I can across one of the most interesting sketches in a long time. Aside from being pretty funny (a most definite rarity in this the third decade era of the show), it surprised me with its acute esotericness. I certainly didn't expect this sort of random Gathering of the Juggalos bashing coming out of the SNL writer's room.

When it came on I was briefly taken back a couple of summers ago when I first came across a youtube clip advertising this surreal Insane Clown Posse themed Woodstock. Everything about it just seeming mesmerizingly terrible and fascinating at the same time. From the seemingly endless list of "underground" (i.e. obscure) random psychotic clown rap, horrorcore, rap rock, death metal acts, to the bizarre yet strangely fitting integration of backyard wrestling, carnival games, camping, and stand up comedy; it all seemed like some sort of mythical event of unfathomable suck. Even the venue city, Cave-In-Rock, IL, seemed like a fantasy location. Despite it being the Faygo soaked polar opposite of every musical, cultural, artistic aesthetic I enjoyed, deep in the back of my mind I kind of wanted to go just to see how much worse it could be, to really embrace the pure unadulterated awfulness.

Looking at the latest, psychotic, mud caked infomercial for the 2009 gathering below, I am pleasantly disturbed that even though the SNL sketch was obviously exaggerated for comic effect, I still find the real thing to be even more surreal and nonsensical.

So anyone up for a road trip to Cave-In-Rock the 11th annual next summer?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Picture This!

After recently watching the music video for "Red Skies" by the Fixx, I came to two conclusions. One, while the whole video is laughably outdated (the bassist in the cape seems particularly out of place) and stylistically looks more like one of those embarrassing "music videos" you once shot with your friends at Six Flags; it was was probably viewed as totally, unironically, slick and awesome in 1982. Second, the lead singer, Cy Curnin, bears a striking resemblance to...

Leading summer blockbuster cinema auteur and generally "awesome" guy, Michael Bay.

You know for a guy who prides himself on being at the cutting edge of cinematic special effects and technology, his hair cut has been firmly frozen in time since the mid 80s.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Hook Brings You Back...

So I just found out that Ken Ober suddenly passed away over the weekend. While I was far too young and cable-less to have seen his work as host of "Remote Control" on MTV, I will forever remember him for his role as the main protagonist in the music video for Blues Traveler's "Hook" and to a lesser extent as the sleazy manager in the video for "Run Around". I hate to admit it but "Four" was one of the definitive albums of my youth; a key touchstone of my early development as a music fan. For about a year and a half, that album was inescapable. When VH1 wasn't playing the hell out of the videos, I got my daily dose it from the school bus driver who firmly planted the bus dial on WEBE 108, the local Adult Contemporary station where it was basically played on the hour.

While I'm not going start wearing a KO patch on my shirt or anything (in fact, I'm actually more bummed out by the other recent death of Edward Woodward aka The Equalizer), it is still a little sad nevertheless.

Farewell, Ken Ober aka the guy from "Hook".

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What Happens When the Money Runs Out!

Anytime I see a fairly respectable, Academy Award winning actor with a history of generally prudent film choices star in some questionable high concept fare or carry a one week and done cheapie or some mindless live action Disney drivel or have a pointless role in some creatively bankrupt sequel, I always suspect that they secretly have some severe financial problem. I'd like to think that these are generally intelligent people with enough aesthetic discretion to know what is a decent script and what is a total embarrassment. Maybe it's serious tax issues or ruinous divorce judgments or severely misplaced investments or a cripplingly costly cocaine addition; whatever the unknown reason it may be I give them the benefit of the doubt that at the end of the day their hand is being forced by the overwhelming need of the paycheck.

How else could you explain Sir Ben Kingley in "BloodRayne" or "Lucky Number Slevin"? Something had to give when Jack and Diane signed up for "Something's Gotta Give". Was Dame Judy Dench really that blown away by the script for "The Chronicles of Riddick" that she had to get on board? How desperately in debt was Jon Voight in 2004 that he was forced to play the villain in both "Superbabies: Baby Genisues 2" and something called "Karate Dog"? Have you seen what Kathy Bates has been up to for the last five years? What sort of extended financial quagmire could be the reason for the last ten or so years of Cuba Gooding Jr.'s career?

So with the recent news of the staggering financial problems of one of the biggest Oscar winning offenders, Nicholas Cage, my pet theory may actually have gained some credibility. Looking at his career after winning the Best Actor Oscar for "Leaving Las Vegas" in 1995, it's pretty obvious that he had drifted away from his more humble cinematic roots (pretty sure he won't be doing any Coen Brothers movies anytime soon) and fully embraced his new career as a blockbuster actor. Sure every once in a while he'd flash some of his acting chops like in "Adaptation" but for the most part it was popcorn action flicks ("The Rock", "Gone in 60 Seconds", "Con Air", the "National Treasure" movies) or slick studio comedy-dramas where he essentially plays himself on auto-pilot ("The Family Man", "Matchstick Men", "Lord of War", "The Weather Man").

On the whole it was a pretty fine career, the sort of generally accepted work that you'd expect from a popular a-list actor. You knew he was in it for the money but he obviously had enough clout to choose his scripts. However as his spending started to spiral out of control and his financial troubles started to mount, you can clearly see that his discretion was starting to take a severe slide as more and more questionable roles kept trickling in. It think you can trace it back to his all time ludicrous performance in the completely unnecessary "The Wicker Man" in 2006. Next came "Next" in 2007. His lone feature for 2008 was the offensively terrible "Bangkok Dangerous" (was he supposed to be an Asian guy here?). 2009 has thus far shaped up to be another banner year with "Knowing" (Cage sees into the future yet again) and voice over work in "G-Force" (that guinea pig movie) and "Astro-Boy".

As his serious financial problems grow, the fear is that he will really start to lose more and more discretion with his movies choices and eventually be driven completely by the needs of his mountainous debt. According to IMDB 2010 and beyond already don't appear all that promising (looks like "Ghost Rider 2" is in development). If Mr. Cage doesn't start taking better care of his personal finances and cuts back on the dinosaur skull bidding wars, he might perhaps one day find himself actually making a snuff film for 8mm 3 (yes they actually made a 2!).

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Red Letter Date in the History of Science

It's downright inexcusable that I have gone through most of today, completely oblivious as to the historical significance of the 5th of November (and no, I'm not talking about Guy Fawkes Day, you limey). On this night, November 5th, 1955, 54 years ago, noted German-American Scientist/Inventor Dr. Emmett L. Brown, after a serendipitous slip off his toilet seat while attempting to hang a wall clock, ultimately uncovered the secrets of time travel.

As we all remember from his famous recollection of the event to his young friend Marty in the parking lot of the Twin Pines Mall on the historic eve of the first manned trip through time:
"I remember it vividly. I was standing on the edge of my toilet hanging a clock, the porcelain was wet, I slipped, hit my head on the edge of the sink. And when I came to I had a revelation, a vision, a picture in my head. A picture of this...this is what makes time travel possible. The flux capacitor!"
Little did the we know what sort of monumental Biff Tannen-related implications this discovery would end up having on mid-80s suburban California...and the world.

Now I've got to go home and hang my ceremonial clock over my toilet.

Happy Flux Capacitor Day Everybody!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Goodbye Geocities

Today, with a relatively quiet whimper that hardly does justice to its lasting legacy, Yahoo! finally pulled the plug on longtime web hosting site Geocities. In an instant millions of long ignored, aesthetically bankrupt, badly formatted pages suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. Perverse slash fiction websites, "unofficial" celebrity fan pages, esoteric web rings and clubs, countless web counters; all now the forever lost recorded ephemera of the primordial era of the Internet.

As part of the generation that was born with and grew up concurrently with the personal computer and eventual evolution of the Internet, the death of Geocities is definitely a somber moment. For many of us our crappy personal Geocities page was our first innocent baby steps into this omnipresent force in our lives called the Internet. One can only look back with wistful pixelated nostalgia about a time when having a scrolling marquee or a three frame animated gif on your page was a big deal, where you could find an AOL trial CD in your mailbox every week, when a thirty second wav file took half an hour to download and a thirty second lo-res porn clip took half a day, when "The Net" seemed like cutting edge futurist cinema. Simpler times, indeed.

Although I lost track of it nearly a decade ago and I doubt that it even survived this long, when I heard the news of Geocities imminent demise I still wondered if one of those doomed long abandoned pages was my first web page made back in middle school. Like a great majority of Geocities sites I spend all of an hour setting it up and nothing more afterwards. It was basically a single homepage with some generic background wallpaper, a picture of Mr. T (I used to love watching reruns of the A-Team growing up, some neon scrolling font welcoming people to what I called my "Super Fun Happy Website", and some random greeting message to anyone fortunate enough to come upon my site. In a way it can be viewed as the proto-Victor Sells Out.

While we'll never know if my site still existed up to today, for the benefit of all you readers out there, I have managed to create a crude artist's rendering from memory of what it may have looked circa 1997, right down to the Netscape browser:

That counter should be closer to 10.

Misty poorly coded memories, of the way we were...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In my beautiful balloon...

Does it make me a callous, warped person that the first thought I had after reading the breaking story about the lost six year old child being trapped inside a homemade hot air balloon was "Up Up and Away" by the 5th Dimension?

Actually what would really make me a bad person would be if I referred the kid as having pulled a "Steve Fossett" (which I sort of just did I guess...). If only the kid was old enough to have read the classic Choose Your Own Adventure Book "By Balloon to the Sahara". That story completely turned me off the romantic myth of free form hot air balloon travel. Every other ending had my party and I getting killed or abducted.

*UPDATE: It looks like the kid was the real villain in all this; little shit was hiding in the attic the whole time. He'll probably get a Today Show appearance out of this.

Friday, October 09, 2009


I just have two minor points to add to my previous post. First, it is nearly unforgivable that I had completely forgotten to reference, in an article about America blowing up the moon, the completely apt "Mr. Show" sketch about America blowing up the moon. Second, to the exhilaration of some and the dismay of others, President Obama was surprisingly awarded the Noble Peace Price today. The official reason stated was for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples", but given that this prestigious award comes on the same day as America's dive bombing of the moon, it doesn't take much to see through that ambiguous diplomatic double talk and realize that the real reason is "hey, thanks for taking a shot at the moon on behalf of the earth".

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Da Earth Rulez #1

Under the thinly veiled guise of conducting "research" our nation's best and brightest minds over at NASA will be conducting a small bombing run on the moon Friday morning. Ostensibly this planned collision is to take a series of scientific measurements with regards to the surface and erupting debris in an effort to seek out possible buried ice water on the barren satellite. However, let's really be honest with ourselves about this whole affair. This is just the latest chapter in man's ongoing quest to stick it to the moon; and really there's no more worthy an endeavor out there for mankind.

Since the dawn of human history our old gray nemesis, the moon, has menacingly circled us, like the Death Star, constantly looking for new ways to wipe us out from Mother Earth. It attempts to drown and purge us by manipulating the tides. It tries its best to block our access to the sun and have, in the past, drove many of our primitive civilizations into mass hysteria. It saddled us with an unreliable calendar system before we changed to solar. It gives us endless swarms of werewolves that continue to plague humanity. It has provided a fertile home for alien races that are hostile to us. It inspired a certain creepy fast food mascot from my childhood that still continues to haunt my adult dreams.

With no immediate end in sight, the unwavering battle between man and moon rages on, with this latest salvo being the most significant strike at the satellite since Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and some other guy first shoved an American flag down its throat for all mankind. It appears that this seemingly eternal war of attrition will continue until the day when either the moon smashes into the Earth and causes a planet-wide mass extinction of all life or when we tame and colonize it and proudly build a Moon Walmart on the lunar surface.

So godspeed on your kamikaze mission LCROSS probe. We will never forget your brave sacrifice for the ongoing effort. I just hope NASA has planned for the obvious counter attack from the moon that awaits.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Well Camus can do, but Sartre is smartre!

You ever have one of those lousy days where everything is just ever so slightly off kilter, and nothing seems to work out the way you expect despite your best efforts, leaving you feeling ultimately powerless and impotent as you suddenly develop a heightened sense of your own mortality and begin to question if your own actions have any meaningful influence in your life as you sink deeper and deeper into a sort of existential funk where you find yourself at the end of the day staring at your bedroom ceiling while desperately pondering the question "why?" over and over again kind of like that famous footage of Nancy Kerrigan surrounded by reporters and doctors after her attack?

Yeah, I guess I could consider today a bit of a wash. Well, it's probably nothing a couple of late night syndicated Seinfeld reruns and a good night's sleep won't cure.

Friday, October 02, 2009

You've just crossed over into...

50 years ago this evening, Rod Serling took America on a journey through a fifth dimension beyond which was known to man -- a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, where the boundaries were that of imagination. Indeed, is the 50th anniversary of the television debut of...the "Twilight Zone".

Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am a massive "Twilight Zone" fan. Watching the "Twilight Zone" marathon on TV was one of my earliest childhood television memories and it still continues to be a bi-yearly ritual for me to catch the 4th of July and New Years marathons on the SyFy Channel (typing out that new name will never stop feeling ridiculous). I have my dog eared copy of the definitive "Twilight Zone Companion", a drawer of full tapes of random episodes I've gotten over the years, and I always make it a priority everytime I'm at Disneyworld to ride the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (despite the fact that they totally nerfed the initial fall to the point of boredom). As a lifelong fan of the show, I really can't add much to say about it that hasn't already been said. It's like a writing a blog post about the Beatles, what more praise can you add?

I could have done some obvious and tedious tribute to mark the occasion like giving my top 10 Twilight Zone episodes, or reviewing the mini-marathon they had on SyFy (still ridiculous) earlier today, or writing about what a pioneering genius Rod Serling was, or how mind blowing this show must have been in 1959, etc. However, I figured in the same unexpected, twist tradition of the "Twilight Zone", I'd go a different route.

While Rod Serling is obviously known for his "Twilight Zone" work, many don't know that he co-wrote the screenplay for possibly the greatest twist ending movie in history, "Planet of the Apes" (if you're actually wondering what this twist I'm referring to is, please exit the cave you've been living in and check out the movie. It's been over 40 years, I figure there's been enough of a spoiler warning). The 1968 movie was actually adapted from the book and it was Serling who came up with the new classic "it was earth all along" ending. The book itself, which I remember slogging through back in high school, was literally about a guy landing on another planet of apes where apes evolved over humans who then went back to Earth hundreds of years later to find it also had become run by apes (it's sort of like the Marky Mark ending from the 2001 remake). It was a mild twist, but far inferior to Charlton Heston screaming in frustration on the shore at a ruined Statute of Liberty.

From the setup to the payoff and the moral message in between, the movie itself really comes off as a feature length "Twilight Zone" episode. It was so much like a standard "Twilight Zone" episode that a few years back one intrepid fan actually edited the entire movie down into a classic half hour, black and white, episode complete with title sequences and introductory and closing narrations. The whole thing comes off as a completely inspired piece of editing. Although things get expectedly a little choppy in the second act of the story, the perfect fit of the opening and closing narration from previous Twilight Zone episodes ("Elegy" and "The Shelter" respectively) alone makes this a classic.

So to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the "Twilight Zone", here's the unofficial "lost" episode:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Michael Collins (astronaut)

I was actually going to write up this post in late July during the 40th anniversary celebration of the moon landing, but shockingly I was sidetracked by procrastination and laziness (totally unbelievable, I know). I could have just scrapped the whole entry and wrote about some other current topic, but as the Catholic church has demonstrated, it's better to have an egregiously belated response than no response at all. Besides, there are far worse examples of tardiness when it come to news about the moon landing.

If you haven't already figured it out from the title, I was going to write about Michael Collins, Apollo astronaut, member of the first manned spaceflight to land on the moon, one of only 24 human beings to have flown to the moon, and the receiver of one of the rawest deals in history. Ask most average people on the street to name the first three men to go to the moon and you're likely to get mostly Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin; but more often then not, Michael Collins would be completely overlooked. Some people might not even have known that there was a third guy involved. It'd be like that episode of Seinfeld where everybody kept forgetting the name of the third member of the Three Tenors after Pavarotti and Domingo (Jose Carreras).

Of course you can't really blame most people for forgetting about Collins, such is the lack of fame one gets for being the poor sap who makes the historic journey all the way to the moon, reaching the zenith of human progress and ingenuity, and then getting stuck with the selfless job of sitting in an idling spacecraft while your other two crew mates go and take a historic jog around the lunar surface for a global audience. Obviously, his role was absolutely crucial to the success of the mission, but you have to believe that somewhere along the crew selection process for the Apollo 11 mission that he must lost a wager or a coin toss to have been relegated to such an undeniably thankless position.

So while Neil Armstrong gets the eternally bad ass distinction of being the first guy on the moon and a soundbite for the ages and Buzz Aldrin get sloppy seconds distinction and a memorable Simpsons cameo; poor Mike can't even beat Irish freedom fighter Michael Collins for wikipedia priority on Google searches. It's really an unfair double twist of history that he would have the least prominent role on the space mission and have a name that was already made famous decades prior to his own birth. Had he even had a cool nickname like Buzz, I figure he'd have at least twice the recognition he has today. It would have been a lot harder to relegate to the forgotten background of history a "Iceman" Collins or a "Superfly" Collins.

Well, at least they got Cary Elwes to play him in HBO's "From the Earth to the Moon" miniseries back in 1998, a pretty flattering choice for any astronaut.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I came across an interesting article in TIME about how a computer scientist at the University of Warwick in England devised a way to modify a Xbox 360, to detect heart defects and help prevent heart attacks. Apparently the powerful computing power of the gaming system provided a faster and cheaper tool for detecting heart defects than the usual supercomputers utilized by current doctors.

When I read this, it immediately struck me as the complete opposite version of those old 3DFX commercials where cutting edge chips and processors are used to play PC games rather than save lives:

Of course anyone familiar with the subpar quality of later 3FDX products would agree that even if they used the technology for medical science, grandpa would still be keeling over at the birthday table. There's a good reason the company has been long defunct. Product quality aside, these commercials were pretty spot on though. Seriously, they're probably about a decade old, but giant tech company ads they are paraodying are still as bland and generic as ever.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Great Lessons of Slick Rick

As some of you may recall, a couple weeks back right after Labor Day, as the new school year was beginning for students all across America, the President decided to give a little back to school pep talk to all the young students out there. Of course there was some notable controversy over this seemingly harmless gesture; some considered it a worthwhile gesture to give kids an encouraging and uplifting message to start the school year, others considered it straight up brainwashing and the diabolical early steps of the gradual cultivation of Stalinesque cult of personality.

There were some protests here, some boycotts there, some counter protests here, kids were pulled out of school to miss it, kids were pulled out of school to catch it somewhere else. Eventually nothing much came of it and people moved on to other substantial controversies (like taking back America one tea bag at a time). As for me, my verdict on the speech was through the perspective of if I was still high school student: it was a harmless presentation to kill some time off the school day with a fairly pretty generic PSA message I'd forget by lunch.

I had all but forgotten about this mildly current event, until I found myself listen to Slick Rick's all time classic 1988 debut album "The Great Adventures of Slick Rick", the album that established Slick Rick as the greatest storyteller in the history of hip-hop. Within all the elaborate, outrageous, arrogant, vulgar, hilarious, raunchy, irreverent, genius, stories spun by Rick over the album's 12 tracks, there emerges more than a few important lessons to be taken away from the Ruler's tales. Through some of the most well known and sampled classic old school hip hop beats and Rick's distinctive British accented delivery one comes away from the album with such valuable life lessons like: the folly of a life of crime ("Children's Story"), the dangers of getting caught up with the wrong crowd ("The Moment I Feared"), the importance of Native American cultural sensitivity ("Indian Girl (An Adult Story)"), maintaining healthy relationships ("Treat Her Like a Prostitute"), and of course properly acknowledging Slick Rick's superior rapping prowess ("The Ruler's Back").

However the track most relevant and helpful to the youth of today and the one that reminded me of the President's speech was "Hey Young World". Stripping away the usual braggadocio and lurid misogyny of his other songs, the Ruler takes a moment aside to directly address the kids (although I can't imagine that many kids buying Slick Rick albums at the time) and sings with the genuine, eye patch wearing "real talk" wisdom of a guy who would eventually be deported for attempted murder. The song is both a great motivational challenge and heartfelt plea to the young people of the country as Slick Rick drops some common sense truth bombs about the perils that are holding back the generation and pushes everyone to realize their full potential as the future of the world.

So in the end I think perhaps the President could have just gone with broadcasting a little MC Ricky D at the start of the day and maybe have avoided the accusations of indoctrination and socialist brainwashing (I mean really who's going to challenge the Ruler?). After all if you boil down the meat of the President's flowery speech he's just saying it's not "cool to look bummy and be a dumb dummy and disrespect your mummy" (in addition to avoiding teenage pregnancy, crack, crime, and being a drop out). Essentially the same.

...and kids do you chores.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Picture This!

So one of the featured stories on the Yahoo! front page was a link to some article about Michelle Williams sharing her grief about the death of ex boyfriend and baby daddy Heath Ledger in the new Vogue issue. Unfortunately the headline of the link and the accompanying picture is sending me some mixed messages.

Click to enlarge

I have always considered Michelle Williams to be one of the more insufferably serious and generally un-fun celebrities around today, but that accompanying picture looks about as happy as I've ever seen her. I just have to say it's a bit incongruous with the "I thought we had lost everything" quote directly to the right of it. I don't know, maybe there are more solemn and introspective looking shots in the magazine.

Also, where would the internet be without a steady stream of "animals doing human stuff" pictures like that surfing dog on the bottom right?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Yo! Bum Rush the Show

Wow, from all the facebook updates currently blowing up all over about Kanye's sudden storming of the VMA stage you'd think it was the equivalent of Kennedy being shot (the president not the former VJ). Frankly, I'm surprised that so many people even watch the VMAs (you know with the almost complete decline into irreverence of the music video as an important cultural force and all).

As for Kanye's actions, I'm not going to hate on him for it. As far as award interruptions go, it was fairly mild. I'm chalking it up to Kanye being Kanye. Nobody's feelings were hurt, MTV's got another great moment to throw in future VMA retrospectives, and we're all obviously better off for it. However, I do have to disagree with his fervent claim that "Single Ladies" is "one of the best videos of all time". I don't see it. I don't think it was even good enough to beat Taylor Swift. Now the 1994 VMAs, when MCA as his alter-ego Nathaniel Hornblower ran up to the stage to announce his absolute outrage at R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" winning best direction over "Sabotage", he was well within his rights to protest that injustice.

"This is an outrage! This is a farce!"

Of course no post about famous music award show disruptions would be complete without mention of the late ODB's moment at the 1998 Grammys, still the gold standard for award disruptions.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Bored Photoshopping: Goofus and Galant

For me (and most likely everyone else around my age) the entirety of my childhood experiences and memories reading "Highlights" magazine all come exclusively from doctors' office waiting rooms. I never subscribed to them and I never knew any other kid growing up who subscribed to them. Frankly to this day I can't imagine anybody in America, aside from private medical practitioners, who would subscribe to them. I don't know, maybe kids growing up in the 40s and 50s subscribed to them. Maybe at the start of every new month they'd eagerly rush home from their stick ball games and their malt shops or whatever kids did before television and video games got big, in the hopes of finding a fresh new copy of the latest "Highlights" magazine waiting for them in the mailbox.

I figure there must be some people other than members of the American Pediatric Society still dutifully renewing their subscriptions because it's surprisingly still around today. Even with all the newspaper bankruptcies, publishing industry struggles, ominous discussions about the impending end of print media, and the recent cancellation of "Reading Rainbow", "Highlights" is somehow apparently still doing business without being reduced to a blog. Despite all contemporary evidence indicating its imminent demise, it soldiers on quietly and unremarkably; like "COPS" or Lindsey Hunter.

I don't know if it was because they were forever associated with dreaded doctor visits or that the articles just plain sucked, but I can't really associate any lasting memories about reading "Highlights". The only thing I (and once again probably everyone else around my age who read them) remember are the Goofus and Gallant cartoons demonstrating proper and improper child behavior. In retrospect, I sort of sympathize with the bad sheep Goofus. Really, his parents are the ones to blame here. Not only did they do a poor job in terms of parenting and establishing proper discipline in raising him, they really stacked the deck by sadistically naming the poor child Goofus. How could a parent name their child Goofus and not expect them to constantly have anger issues and display antisocial tendencies?

On the other side, Gallant is a pretty lousy name to saddle a kid with as well, but at least it has positive, noble-minded connotations. And while I am more than a little suspicious as to what questionable degree of strict disciple and conditioning the parents may have engaged in to create such a disturbingly polite and mannered boy, at least he'll stay out of trouble as he grows up (or completely snap one day and release his long held repression in a murderous rage). It is only quite recently that I actually noticed that his name was even Gallant (like a gallant knight). For years the name I had in my head was Galant (like the Mitsubishi Galant). Apparently I wasn't too off, galant is the original French word for gallant. I actually kind of like my old "Galant" better, it sounds more believable as a person's name.

Still I wonder how old Goofus' antics would stack up against a Japanese mid-size sedan with no free will....

(click to enlarge)

I think I might be safer with the Galant.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Death Be Not Proud

With the start of my third and final year of law school last week, my usual Sunday night feeling of overwhelming melancholy about the start of a new work week have been replaced by my usual Sunday night feeling of overwhelming melancholy about the start of a new school week. On the whole I guess it's a slightly lesser degree of grief, but still grief never the less.

In fact, my impending work week grief follows quite predictably along the famous five stages of grief model which describes the gradual process by which most people supposedly come to terms with tragedy and traumatic loss. Well for me, few things are more tragic and traumatic than the loss of my weekend freedom. I usually wake up Sundays mornings content and happy about another full day of carefree leisure with the upcoming work week being almost an inconceivable theoretical abstract (1. Denial). As the day gives way to the afternoon hours and as I start to becomes aware of the reality of tomorrow being Monday, I begin to resent the fact that the weekend is over just as it started (2. Anger). As the afternoon begins to wane, and I realize I'm hopelessly behind on my work, I begin to think that if only I had an extra day or two I'd be on top of my shit (3. Bargaining). The sun begins to go down and I realize, I'm just dinner, a night's sleep, and change away from Monday and all I can do is helplessly sulk (4. Depression). As the evening comes I end up catching "Til' Death" on Fox (5. Acceptance).

It's not like it's appointment television for me or anything. In fact, between its numerous time slot shuffles and hiatuses, it's actually kind of a challenge for any dedicated fan (there must be some, right?) to actually keep appointments. Most of the time I randomly catch about less than half the show. However, despite my total lack of interest in actually following the show, few Sundays at home have ever gone by over the last three or so years (with the major exception of the football season where everything gets preempted) where I didn't catch some amount of "'Til Death".

In a way, it sort of makes perfect sense that I would eventually associate the show with the sad acceptance of the awful and terrible. It couldn't have been a show I enjoyed because that would have just kept me at the first stage of denial by giving me a temporary reprieve from my harsh reality. My emotional progress towards the eventual peace of acceptance would have been shunted. It couldn't have been a show that was so terrible that it would have locked me into the depths of a harrowing depression stage. It had to have been a show that was just barely awful enough to remind me of my fate, but not so much as to make me downright inconsolably despondent.

With "'Til Death" I get that subtle terribleness. It's sort of like a real life version of "The Lockhorns" except it's not over the top or mean enough to make it interesting. When Brad Garrett (who helped perfect the art of the mediocre sitcom) makes a wacky expression or cracks some punchline about married life that was too dated for vaudeville or gets henpecked by his bossy sitcom wife, I don't laugh but I know there's a joke. The show is almost watchable solely as a fascinating case study on the bare minimum of creativity and sub par ratings a sitcom can have while still being constantly renewed (4th season debuting in October). Despite having shown all the signs of a terminally ill show, from introducing and then changing the daughter, to half of the main cast essentially leaving for the third season, to a shameless parade of B list guest stars (Nick Bakay, Margaret Cho, Will Sasso anyone?), it has maintained an uncanny cockroach like ability to stay on the air. You can sit and watch and deeply wonder what magic element does this show have that other similarly mediocre but failed sitcoms like "Carpoolers" or "Back to You" didn't. With the venerable "According to Jim" finally signing off the air in June (after 8 seasons and 182 episodes!), "'Til Death" now wears the heavy crown of being the worst multiple season sitcom on TV.

Thus this show has managed to become the very symbol of the acceptance of my eventual Monday morning fate. It is that uncanny combination of a complete lack of excellence with an amazing degree of endurance and staying power that has made "'Til Death" such a dependable source of melancholy in my life. And with any luck it'll continue to help me come to grips with unhappiness for many seasons to come.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

That was Jeopardy!

In case you haven't heard, I've been on a few game shows back in the day. While my success varied from show to show from sweeping victories to traumatic choke jobs, overall they were all great experiences. I enjoyed the traveling, the hotel rooms, meeting/alienating other contestants from all over the country, the catered grub in the green room, the nervous competition on camera, the always friendly makeup ladies, and of course the occasional quick buck.

Aside from the fond experiences, the money, and the snagged hotel stationary; the one other parting gift I got from my weird game show odyssey was a set of never fail ice-breaking personal anecdotes. No matter what sort of social situation I'm in I find that if I can get out the personal fact that I was on a few game shows, it always manages to get the other person engaged and interested. So many of my recent job interviews over the summer began with curious inquiries and enthusiastic follows up questions about the "multiple game show contestant" blurb I put in my personal interests section. While the interview usually goes south when it comes to my job experience and academic performance, for the beginning it's all wide eyed wonder about meeting Alex Trebek or winning a quarter million dollars. When I went backpacking for a month through Costa Rica the summer after my last show, conversations about my game show appearances were usually a key part of friendly conversations struck up with other foreign traveling strangers from hostel to hostel. Hell, a good quarter of my Facebook friends are still random folks who found me after watching me on TV. For most people outside of my closest friends and family, for better or for worse, these game shows go a long way in defining me.

While the WSOPC was my single crowning achievement, almost everyone who has asked about my game show past always wants to know about Jeopardy. In fact, more often then not people have no idea what the WSOPC was (a fact that's sadly even more true today). I guess it's not all that surprising though since Jeopardy really is the most well known, longest running, holy grail of trivia game shows. I even have to admit, aside from the money, a loss on Jeopardy felt like a far more esteemed feat than a win on VH1. In addition, while the WSPOC was a group effort with my two friends and I, my Jeopardy appearance was a singular feat among my group of friends. It gave me a special bit of pride to have been on that podium next to Alex with the framed picture to prove it.

So when I recently got a call from my friend that she had been selected to compete on Jeopardy, I was surprised to find my personal reaction turned out to be more a complicated mix of bittersweet melancholy than usual congratulatory happiness. I should have been happy for her, she was a good friend and as a longtime, die hard, Jeopardy fan (who was actually responsible for getting me to take the online test back in the day), there wasn't anyone I knew that was more deserving of a chance to be on the show. However, I couldn't muster what logically should have been the feeling of happiness for her. All I could think about was the sad end of my once solitary distinction as the Jeopardy guy among our friends.

Which brings me back to the above pictured 1972 Miami Dolphins. For those who don't follow football, the 1972 Dolphins have their own solitary distinction as the only NFL team to have an undefeated regular season and to win the Super Bowl. They're also kind of a bunch of obnoxious assholes. The surviving members of the 1972 Dolphins have this insufferable tradition of coming together and drinking champagne every year when the final undefeated team loses their first game and thus ensuring them another year of solitary residency in "Perfectville". It's sort of a dick move to be actively rooting against an undefeated team and garishly celebrating something that happened nearly 40 years ago. I've always been against the 1972 Dolphins and their annoying tradition, even going as far as to root for the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII to complete their perfect season and finally put an end to their decades long arrogance. However, today I started to understand, albeit in only a small sense, the motivation for the 1972 Dolphins' yearly ritual. A pretty distinction is a petty distinction but it's still one's own petty distinction.

Having a record or distinction and having someone else come along and match or even surpass it is a complicated feeling. It's not exactly envy or jealously because you already have what they have, it's just an indescribable combination of sullen psedo-selfishness. You can be as gracious and as magnanimous as anyone, but I think it's only natural to sort of feel a sad sense of loss when something you've accomplished is overtaken; whether it be a game show appearance, or perfect season, or a high score on Gameboy Tetris. So maybe avoiding that feeling is something worth celebrating or actively rooting for. You can try to write it off by thinking that in the grand scheme of things none of these distinctions even matter, but that's just straight up rationalization. Yes outside of the incredibly narrow universe of my circle of friends, being the only contestant on Jeopardy won't matter a lick and to someone who doesn't follow any football, the surviving 1972 Dolphins just look like a bunch of wrinkled Florida retirees; but I live in the universe of my circle of friends and the Dolphins live in the universe of football fans. No matter what perspective you give it, it is still important to yourself.

So do I think the 1972 Dolphins are justified in breaking out the champagne? No. Would I actively root for my friend to crash and burn on her first appearance and not even make it to Final Jeopardy? No. Will I learn to be completely happy about all this? No. Am I still proud of her? Yes.

Well, at least with the cancellation of the WSOPC, I won't have to worry about losing that particular distinction.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lock(horn)ed and Loaded

Well it took a few days and quite a bit of reckless time traveling, but I've finally managed to fully update Victor Sells Out's sister blog "Lockhorns vs. Lockhorns". Unlike this blog with its relaxed lead time and spotty updating, the daily requirements of "Lockhorns" makes it quite a harsh mistress to satisfy. Everyone's free to go back and catch up on the past two weeks (but remember to pace yourself, there's only so much spiteful vitriol one can take in one sitting).

So was it worth all the irreparable damage to the space time continuum to get the Lockhorns back on track?

Well, is Loretta's cooking inedible?

As for this blog, have faith. The upcoming school year should open up plenty of time for me to slack and theory.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Picture This!

Long time NY Lottery commercial spokesman Ralph Buckley; whose name and picture, for someone that is so well known and recognizable to anyone who watches television in the New York/New Jersey area, was unusually difficult to locate online (although there was no shortage of articles and glamor shots of fellow NY Lotto fixture Yolanda Vega)

has always reminded me of...

Legendary Duke Men's Basketball Coach, gold medal winning US National Team coach, and walking typo Mike Kryzewski.

I wonder which of the two have been responsible for more unlikely millionaires?

I Have a History of Losing My Shirt

Can you guess how many more weeks of summer work I have left, now? Cue, the obscenely obvious answer!

Was there ever any doubt? McG at the height of his powers.

I promise I'll start doing some real substantive (well, substantive by my standards) posts after I shake this full time nuisance.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Get Your Ass to Work!

Can you guess how many more weeks of summer work I have left?

You know, after Arnold meets up with Kuato, kills Cohagen and his army of murderous goons, activates the alien oxygen generator, saves the mutants, and ushers in a new era of freedom and prosperity on Mars; he should really see someone about that defective fat lady mask. The mask's inability to handle simple phrases outside of "two weeks" really made things a lot more difficult then it should have been for Arnold. One expects a certain level of quality and reliability when it comes to exploding, animatronic heads.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Picture This!

Today's edition of "Picture This!" is an especially esoteric one, connecting multiple decades of pop culture obscurity.

As I mentioned to my friends a while back, 80's British pop singer Yazz of "The Only Way is Up" fame rocked an awfully similar look to:

90's diet guru, motivational speaker, and general crazy person, Susan Powter!

Apparently none of them look like this anymore, but then again none of them are famous anymore either. Perhaps there is a correlation. Regardless, put any one of these crazy eyed, blond, short haired women in a bright pastel colored, Designing Women-esque power suit with massive shoulder pads and you've basically captured the exact opposite of what I want in a woman in terms of beauty and aesthetics.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bash For Clunkers

Well, it finally happened. After nearly five, All-American, four wheel driving, gas guzzling, turn over risking years, my dear old 2000 Dodge Durango is headed off into the sport utility sunset courtesy of the recent Cash For Clunkers program. As they say, the Good Lord giveth and the Good Lord taketh away. For my Durango, the Good Lord was my pops, Mr. Lee, who in his undecipherable, infinite wisdom bought this pre-owned motoring monstrosity which become my de facto car and it was Mr. Lee who decided he wanted to cash it in on the new federal plan and get a new minivan. While I certainly won't miss the distinct pleasure of cruising at a combined 12 mpg and essentially driving the real life equivalent to a Canyonero; I won't be completely excited to see it go. I will miss the elevated ride, the feeling of highway superiority that came with it, along with its uncanny ability to remain virtually unscathed in any parking lot fender bender; and, despite all my knocks against it, it still dependably got me where I wanted to go for the last five years, albiet in a laughably inefficient manner. However, I take heart in the fact that the cycle of Detroit based automotive life continues on in the Lee household; as one Chrystler company car is laid to rest, it is replaced by yet another Chrystler automobile: a 2009 Town & Country. So, in the end, domestically produced life goes on.

With all the new car buying and Cash For Clunker research and participation I've been engaged in recently, it sort of feels neat to be at the forefront an ongoing national new story. When the Today Show or the nightly news runs their little piece on American households taking advantage of the new program, I can say that's us. Now I know the feeling of identity (minus the feeling of embarassment) and participation fat people must feel like when they see all those news pieces about rampant American obesity with anonymous mid level shots of other fat people walking around in public.

While going through some recent headlines about the ongoing Cash for Clunkers program, I came across this rather novel perspective on the whole program. Really, no one in the mainstream media has covered this angle of the Cash For Clunkers story. All over this country there'll be hundreds of thousands of outdated, inefficient automobiles that are statutorily required to be destroyed one away or another, so why not let the local Tiger Schulmann's branch in on the fun? Okay, so the writer of the article may not appear to be the most credbile of experts on the matter (you wouldn't see too many shirtless muscle poses in the New York Times Op-Ed section) and the act of trying to destroy a multiple ton, solid steel automobile using martial arts seems potentially dangerous; but there is no denying the universal joy one gets from watching a car get destroyed.

I don't know about you, but my favorite part of those old Capcom SNES fighting/beat-em up games like "Final Fight" and "Street Fighter II" were the intermittent bonus levels that involved destroying a car with your character in a set amount of time. You would not believe how disappointed I was when "Street Fighter IV" came out sans car breaking bonus round (not even the slightly less entertaining barrel breaking round was to be found). It was a unforgivable missed opportunity by Capcom that deprived the world of beautifully HD-rendered 21st century, timed, century car smashing joy. It's what the people would have wanted. It's a ceaseless, inherent, primal desire for destruction and domination over our physical word that stretches through the ages from primitive Neanderthal rites of passages all the way to Limp Bizkit's "Break Stuff".

So who knows? Perhaps this mass public car destroying fad will actually emerge and people all over America could take out their pent up daily frustrations by destroying or vicariously finding release in watching others destroy an old Ford Explorer or Dodge Ram. And just to give a crude rendering of what such a martial arts based scrapping of a car would look like and how it would be equal parts awesome and ridiculous, here's one man who is already living the dream:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Can't Read Her Poker Face

You ever wonder when she's not topping the charts, wearing an outfit made of Kermits and masterfully manipulating every last rhinestoned detail of her persona as a staggeringly brilliant, Warholesque pop-art exercise in excess; that Lady GaGa secretly covers up the blinds, lets her hair down, puts aside her giant disco stick, puts on some sweat pants and eagerly watches the latest episode of "NCIS"?

She's got to turn it off sometime right?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

But it's just a sweet, sweet, fantasy baby.

Now that the 2009 Major League Baseball season has officially passed its hump day and entered into the second half, it's that time once again for me to take stock in my fantasy baseball fortunes. As some of you readers may recall, I had posted two individual entries detailing my two yearly Yahoo! fantasy baseball teams way back at the beginning of April when the season was just beginning; when expectations were high, optimism was abundant, Manny Ramirez was free of steroid suspicions, and the Mets were fielding a competitive major league team. Oh, how long ago it all feels.

So how "gang aft agley" have my best laid fantasy plans gone? How surprisingly successful have been some of my outside hunches turned out? How cruelly or well has the unpredictable, invisible hand of the DL treated me? Did I really expect Jeff Francour to have a turn around season? Let's tally up the damages shall we?

Team 1
The Chan Ho Parks
Current Rank: 1st out of 12
Real Life All Stars: 9 (1B Prince Fielder, 3B Ryan Zimmerman, SS Hanley Ramirez, OF Curtis Granderson, OF Carlos Beltran, SP Ted Lilly, SP Zack Greinke, SP Chad Billingsley, RP Mariano Rivera)
Team MVP: SP Zack Greinke
Team Underperformer: 1B David Ortiz
Waiver Wire Star: OF Michael Cuddyer

The Good:
When your team is in first place, the good obviously comes more easily. At the risk of completely jinxing my dream season, I have to say the Chan Ho Parks are cruising along in their league, enjoying a comfortable double digit lead over the second place team. The team's success is buoyed by a pitching staff that is tops or near the top in every major pitching category. A huge amount of credit goes to first half MVP SP Zack Greinke, the 11th round afterthought 3rd pitcher who started out the year with a historic display of pitching dominance; perhaps the greatest start to a season in the rotisserie baseball era. He has somewhat cooled off over the past month but his numbers are still outrageous. Hitting wise, the team has top ranked power and batting average numbers which offset my league worst stolen base rank and middling runs scored. Everyone has essentially lived up to or surpassed their drafted expectations with a few minor exceptions.

The Bad:

The only real disappointment of the team was the thus far worthless season of the completely broken down 1B David Ortiz who the auto drafter saddled me with after showing up at the draft a little late. Fortunately I had plenty of other options to replace him with. Of course it's not hard to replace someone that until recently could only fit in the utility slot. 2B Jose Lopez has been relatively productive for a 2B, but hasn't quite lived up to my personal hype. Waiver wire pick up 1B, OF Nick Swisher was red hot at the beginning of the year but soon fell out of his everyday roster spot.

The DL:
As is the case with most successful teams, a light DL is usually a big key to success. For most of the season, the only resident on the DL was SP John Smoltz, who was a late draft flyer without much expectation to play anyway. The recent loss of OF Carlos Beltran has definitely hurt though (although obviously not as much as it hurt the real life Mets). Aside from that, the team has been a model of health.

Some of the more exceptional players will probably regress but if everyone plays to their expectations (and thus far there has been no indication that they won't), then I think I can ride this hot start straight to the title. Injuries are the only real threat to derail my lead.

Team 2
Team Korea All Stars
Current Rank: 4th out of 12
Real Life All Stars: 9 (C Joe Mauer, 1B, 3B Kevin Youkilis, 2B Freddy Sanchez, 3B Evan Longoria, OF Brad Hawpe, SP Ted Lilly, SP Zack Greinke, SP Zach Duke, SP Edwin Jackson)
Team MVP: SP Zack Greinke
Team Underperformer: SS Jimmy Rollins
Waiver Wire Star: SP Edwin Jackson

The Good:
The 4th place standing, although above average, actually short changes this team. This team has spent most of the season around 2nd and the current spread between 2nd and 4th is so thin that the spots constantly fluctuate. With that being said, the best this team can hope for is a 2nd place finish given the fact that the first place team is completely dominating the league with nearly 25 more points than the second place team. As for my team, I've once again enjoyed the fruits of a SP Zack Greinke (and SP Ted Lilly) containing pitching staff. In addition, my staff was saved by the waiver wire pick ups of both all stars SP Zach Duke and SP Edwin Jackson from the same day. Hittingwise, it's been fairly strong and consistent all around. Oddly enough, despite the All Star nod I don't even regularly start 2B Freddy Sanchez as I've opted for the versatile and surprisingly productive 2B, 3B, SS Macro Scutaro.

The Bad:
The two biggest disappointments on the hitting side were Team Underperformer winner and first round pick SS Jimmy Rollins who has been in a slump for most of the year and 5th round pick OF Matt Holiday, who appears to have lost all his slugging powers after leaving the state of Colorado. On the pitching side Cliff Lee has pitched decently but has come nowhere near his Cy Young season last year, especially on a lousy Indians team. There was also one other negative first half pitching performance that was so exemplary in its awfulness that I have to give it, its own category...

The Chien-Ming Wang:
Would you believe he was drafted by me one place ahead of All Star SP Ted Lilly? There has been a historic fantasy knock against the guy due to his paltry strikeout numbers and average ERA and WHIPs, but he had a reputation as being at least a dependable source of wins. Of course that was before he put together possibly the worst three consecutive starts in modern baseball history. In 6 innings of total work over three starts he had managed to give up 23 runs for a monstrous era of 34.50. I immediately banished him with extreme prejudice but I think the team is still paying the wages of those three horrible starts.

The DL:
The team has been pretty healthy as a whole. The only major DL stint is the current one that SP Brandon Webb has been on since leaving the first game of the season. had it not been for my timely waiver wire pickups, the team would have probably completely fallen out of contention without its ace. Although, it sure would have been nice to have his dependable numbers all year.

Barring a wave a crucial injuries or a series of sustained slumps for the team in first, the best I can hope for with this team is to get that second place sized piece of the pie. I would not be disappointed in this team one bit if it turned out that way, under most seasons this would be a top team. Optimistically I'm thinking 2nd, but more realistically I'm expecting 3rd or 4th.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Piece of the Pie

Well, another All-Star Game, another annoyingly close American League victory. Thirteen years of NL winlessness (we'll always have that tie game in 2002). It makes me yearn for the NL glory days when Jeff Conine was winning All-Star game MVPs and Ozzie Smith would be doing backflips.

While the game was ostensibly close yet strangely unexciting, the other major competitive events of the night could have been found in the ubiquitous Domino's commercials, like the one above, detailing the escalating back and forth battle of words between various regional Domino's factions in support of their particular "American Legends" pie.

All I have to say is shame on you Domino's.

These are trying times for the American people. This nation is currently struggling through such adversities like an extended economic recession, continuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, international threats from abroad, the death of Michael Jackson, and the impending August release of "GI Joe:Rise of Cobra". It is during these trying times that we need to put our personal differences aside as American citizens and recognize that it is only through cooperation and teamwork that we can bring back prosperity.

Domino's partisan pizza rhetoric is definitely not what this country needs. Instead of the "Cali Chicken Bacon Ranch" loving residents of Los Angeles trading insults and ugly stereotypes with the "Memphis BBQ Chicken" patrons of Memphis or the Philly Cheese Steak" eating residents of Philadelphia engaging in verbal fisticuffs with "Pacific Veggie" fans of Venice, they should all learn to respect and embrace their unique nuanced differences and realize that in the end they are all disgusting Domino's pizzas.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I CAN Go For That!

If you're like me, you've no doubt found yourself many times surfing around the Internet, enjoying the wide expanses of the information superhighway, only to be become suddenly overwhelmed by a burning desire to hear one of Hall and Oates' countless hit singles. "Sara Smile", "Private Eyes", "Method of Modern Love"; whatever it may be, you just have a burning thirst for some H2O. You also don't want to waste precious time and effort on loading up your mp3s or searching through your currently play list. You definitely don't want to deal with opening up another window and searching and finding uploaded music videos of the songs on Youtube. Until now you were stuck with these limited options; expound precious energy and effort on manually loading up your favorite Hall and Oates mega hits via one medium or another or just letting that feeling pass in wretched frustration.

That is until now.

Just when you thought between the ubiquitous sea of spam and viruses, the perverse clutter of porno sites, and the pointless, narcissistic cacophony of social networking, that the Internet had all but failed its grand promise to society as a transcendent medium that would eliminate barriers, both natural and cultural, leading to unparalleled progress and collaboration among the human race; it comes up with something that restores our faith in its usefulness.

This fan made labor of love ingeniously utilizes the various resources of the Internet to bring an unmatched Hall and Oates experience. It takes the videos from YouTube, provides its own lyrics, links to retailers of the song and album on Amazon and iTunes, and even gives a novel "Did You Know?" section via wikipedia; all complimented by an elegantly simple interface. In addition, the way it's all set up makes it a completely legal channel to enjoy the music. This was what the Internet was made for; compiling and making use of disparate streams of information to create a wholly beneficial and useful collaboration that's greater than the sum of the parts.

There is, however, one thing to point out. Although the site uses the artwork and design scheme from their definitive, 5 star AMG rated, 2001 greatest hits collection (the aptly titled) "The Very Best of Daryl Hall and John Oates", it's actually not a direct representation of that album. It is missing a few tracks like "It's a Laugh" and the criminally underrated "Adult Education". Still, aside from that, nothing short of brilliant. Perhaps this concept of the fan made, dedicated greatest hits shrine, will become a whole new web based phenomena.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Five More (Slightly Belated) Random 4th of July TV Marathons That Have Very Little to Do With The 4th of July

Is it safe?

The biggest problem with static, date specific, holidays like the 4th of July is that it falls on a weekend every two out of seven years thus greatly weakening their work stopping powers. It was only by the grace of a last minute change of heart by the boss that I actually got Friday off and the benefit of the three day weekend. Unfortunately there are many a workplaces that don't subscribe to the artificial three day weekend policy when it comes to weekend 4th of Julys. I say it's downright Un-American to nullify the classic July 4th three-day weekend just because of a technicality on the calendar. Denying a hard working American their patriotic right to celebrate their nation's birth by over-eating, over-drinking, playing around with dangerous explosives, and watching copious amounts of marathon television? What did our Founding Fathers fight for anyway then?

I must first apologize for the slight belatedness of this year's five marathons. I am quite aware that a good portion of the day and many a marathons have already passed before I realized my posting obligations (I've personally been soaking up the old "Twilight Zone" marathon since yesterday evening). While we may be getting a slightly late start, I assure you, faithful readers, that the following marathons are guaranteed to last at least through the late evening hours (and some well into the 5th). So without further needless delay here are this year's five most random marathons.

BET - Sister, Sister
Really? "Sister, Sister"? I know the BET lineup isn't exactly stacked with long-running, classic shows, but I really think they could have done better than "Sister, Sister". It's not that I have anything against those sassy Mowry sisters (the Williams sisters of the American sitcom), I watched my fair share of their five or so year run on the WB when I was in middle school. What exactly is there about the completely generic, white America friendly, nature of this show that just screams Black Entertainment Television. Comparatively,"Sister, Sister", makes "The Parent 'Hood" look like a Gil Scott-Heron spoken word album. I would have preferred a "Wayans Brothers" marathon or maybe some sort of day long, hastily put together, Michael Jackson retrospective.

Possible Spin for the 4th: I guess you can look at the cast of "Sister, Sister" as a sort of dramatization of the fulfillment of the American Dream. Tamara's well to do father Ray is a self made man with his own company and a giant house that everyone moves into. Tia's mother Jackée is enjoying the fruits of the American promise of upward mobility by moving into Ray's big house. Tia (the smart one) is a model student and upstanding example of how education and a strong family support system can improve anyone's station in life. Tamara's goofing off and constant partying also, in a away, demonstrates the American Dream that minorities can have entitled lazy idiot children just as well as rich old waspy families.

USA Network - James Bond
This is seriously one of the most weak-ass marathons I have ever seen. It's just five random James Bond movies from 9 am to 11 pm. I think there were just regular weekdays on Spike TV that played more Bond movies. This random fiver of movies, aside from failing in terms of length of marathon programming, also fails in terms of depth of marathon programming. For the first two you have "Dr. No" (the fairly boring first film) and "Thunderball" (vintage Connery); and then the next two jump ahead about four decades and three Bonds, to "The World is Not Enough" and "Tomorrow Never Dies" (adequate Bronsnan). Finally the day is capped off with the new "Casino Royale". It seems pretty obvious that the good folks at USA tried to slap together a "marathon" with the cheapest and easiest Bond films they could get their hands on. Makes you miss those old month long nightly Bond movies on TBS.

Possible Spin for the 4th: It's definitely a hard sell for the 4th when you have a marathon of Eurpeon movies about a British secret agent who travels to exotic locations that rarely include the United States. In addition, the most prominent Americans in the series have been: generally useless CIA second banana Felix Leitter and the bumbling Sherriff J.W. Pepper. I guess you can say that James Bond touches on general American values of resourcefulness, toughness, ingenuity, and heroism; but then again what culture doesn't value those traits (please no French jokes)?

Disney Channel - Hannah Montana
Disney Channel goes with the "showcasing your prestige show" route with its Hannah-thon. This is a preemptive announcement of the marathon since it's actually slated to begin at 1 pm tomorrow. So if you were ever thinking about watching a ten hour block of Hannah Montana on a Sunday afternoon, then this is your opportunity. Apparently it all leads up to the premiere of an hour long new episode, so it's a nice little pot of gold at the end of the long rainbow. If only all marathons could reward you like that.

Possible Spin for the 4th: I guess Hannah can bee seen as a wholesome, ideal, all American, girl next door. I'm not sure what kind of songs Hannah sings, but I'm sure they're not subversive or Anti-American. On a deeper level, one might read the constant tension and conflict between her real identity and her stage persona as demonstrating the complex duality of our great nation; the rich and varied tableau of the American population and landscape and our historic and current struggles to reconcile our realities with the lofty goals of equality and prosperity that we were founded on. Or something like that.

Discovery Channel - The Deadliest Catch
This appears to be another case of a channel showing off their money programming via marathon. I've never actually seen a full episode of this show but I'm amazed by the surprising success of it. I mean, wouldn't the novelty of watching crabbers pulling in cages full of crustaceans in inclimate weather wear off after the first season at the most? It's not like fishermen are dying every other episode right? Is it really the deadliest catch when there's no dying on camera? All the marketing would seem to indicate that every episode involves the crew braving towering "Perfect Storm"-esque waves and fighting sea monsters straight out of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". The risk can't be that high, otherwise the price of a mediocre dinner at Red Lobster's would be astronomical.

Possible Spin for the 4th: Well, few things are more American than straight up hard working ambition and gumption. From the harsh beginnings of the early settlers, to the gritty patriots that fought for Independence, to the hearty pioneers of Manifest Destiny, to the men who've walk on the moon; daring Yankee ingenuity and ambitiousness (as demonstrated by the fearless crew) is what made this country into the superpower it is today.

TV Land - Andy Griffith Show, Roseanne, Leave it to Beaver
TV Land is taking an interesting route by cobbling together three shows to form one long marathon. Looking at the schedule, Andy, Roseanne, and the Beaver are working in rotating shifts. Currently, it's Andy Griffith until 8 when Roseanne takes us through the night until the Beaver takes over sometime tomorrow morning (actually. if these schedule is accurate, there will be a slight 4 hour break from the marathon from 8 to 12 for an airing of some show called "She's Got the Look" and Oliver Stone's "Born on the Fourth of July"). I like how the shifts were set up. Andy Griffith and Leave it to Beaver, with their sugary, idealistic 50's-60's sensibilities and story lines clearly belongs in the daytime hours; while the gritty, decidedly unromantic, modern day suburban slice of life that is "Roseanne" belongs after dark.

Possible Spin for the 4th: All three shows, despite their differences are pretty choice examples of middle class Americana. Leave it to Beaver basically set the standard (although a completely ridiculous and unattainable one) for the ideal American suburban life. Andy Griffith showed a similarly idealized, portrait of small town life as simple and light as its whistling theme song. Roseanne, while being in sharp contrast to the other two shows was still cut from the genuine American sitcom cloth, showing the daily trials and tribulations of average working class Americans.