Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Black Knight gets a lick in

"Ohio Gov. John Kasich vaulted into the top tier of GOP presidential contenders."

Plus the Iron Law of Presidents: "Since World War II, either the winner or runner-up in New Hampshire has gone on to take the GOP nomination."

America can only hope that South Carolina voters have more brains than the "Live Free or Expand Medicaid" voters. But even if they do, this blunder means we'll be listening to this guy for weeks.

And now for something completely different

Seems mislabeled, somehow. Shouldn't it be "Certified Professional Innovator Professional Certificate of Innovation Program"?

Late To The Party

For months I've been hearing how good the TV show Jessica Jones is, but I only just got around to watching it.  And since it's on Netflix, I can watch its first season--13 episodes--at any pace I choose.  So far, I've seen the first three hours.

Jessica Jones is based on the Marvel character, but since I've never read any of her adventures, it's all new to me.  Perhaps fans of her comics know what's coming, or at least know what's in the past, but I am blissfully ignorant.  In fact, until she demonstrated her powers halfway into the first episode, I wasn't even sure if I was watching a superhero show.

Jessica Jones is a cynical private eye, who takes sleazy jobs and seems to have a sad and bitter past.  Among the characters in her life are Trish Walker, an old friend who now hosts a popular radio show; Jen Hogarth, a powerful attorney who sometimes hires Jessica; Luke Cage (I'm sure some of you Marvel fans recognize that name) who owns a bar and is sometimes used as a booty call; and Kilgrave, a man with the power to bend other minds to his will, and who once had Jessica under his control.

Though there's action in each episode, the whole show (as much as I can tell) is a long reveal, as each episode teaches you more and more about the characters, though perhaps at a certain point we'll know everything about the past and live strictly in the present.  The main plot of the first season seems to be the return of Kilgrave, whom Jessica thought was dead.  He's back in town (the town is New York, by the way) and using more and more people to do his bidding while Jessica plots to bring him down.

Krysten Ritter (of Breaking Bad) is solid as Jessica.  She plays hard-bitten well enough to hold the show together.  The rest of the cast--including Carrie-Anne Moss, Rachael Taylor and Mike Colter--have had less screen time to establish their characters, though three hours in they're starting to make a clear impression.

So I like it.  I wouldn't call it a revelation, but it's better than most police and/or super hero dramas out there.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

I don't think it means what he think it means

America Is Flint

He's The Queen Of France

The Oscars are always fun (at least them handing out the awards are--the lengthy show surrounding this activity often leaves something to be desired), but they're a lot more fun if you've seen the nominees. I generally see most of the nominated features and performances, but not always the shorts.  But I did get a chance to see the five from the animated category.  Here they are.

Bear Story


Sanjay's Super Team

We Can't Live Without Cosmos

World Of Tomorrow.

If you've seen any, it's probably Sanjay's Super Team, a Pixar short shown before The Good Dinosaur.  Pixar has been nominated--and won--before, but I don't think this is its year. That's because while all the films are well done (Bear Story is especially impressive in its technique and We Can't Live Without Cosmos has a solid story), one truly stands out--World Of Tomorrow.

It could be called a science fiction film, but that doesn't really give you the proper impression.  It's by Don Hertzfeldt, who's been doing his own hand-drawn work for a couple decades.  He started with short, funny films with an absurdist bent, such as Billy's Balloon, the film to first get him a lot of attention.  He followed it by a classic, Rejected, which was nominated in 2000 for an Oscar and (inexplicably in retrospect) didn't win.

Since then his films have gotten a little longer, and more serious, but are still filled with quirky humor.  World Of Tomorrow is a 17 minute film about a little girl being instructed by a woman of the future on what her life will be like.  But that bare bones description misses both how bizarre yet touching the story is, not to mention the look.

Here's a clip:

The Academy blew it last time.  Here's their chance to make it up.

Monday, February 08, 2016

The times, they are a changin'

So I just looked up my record at one of our local libraries. My card there was issued in 2002. It's nice to know that; it makes me remember how I happened to get a card at this library.

But what I really love is the expiration date: 2050.

Say, isn't something important supposed to happen then?

Art Vandalized

A friend sent me this list, from Vulture, ranking all 169 episodes of Seinfeld.  It's so wrong I'm sorry that it exists.  It would be best to just ignore it, but let me note a few things.

I'll start from the bottom and work my way up, as the list does.  The two worst episodes are "The Puerto Rican Day Parade" and "The Outing."  As far as I can tell, they're at the bottom because they're politically incorrect.  It's certainly not about the comedy, as "The Outing" is a classic or at least near-classic. (It's where a newspaper article appears claiming Jerry and George are gay, and they keep noting "not that there's anything wrong with that.")

In general, the first two season, where the show was good but still finding its way, and the last two seasons, where the show was getting tired and Larry David left, should have the most in the bottom half, but there seem to be more that there should be from the middle years.

The fourth worst episode--#166--is "The Jacket," a fine episodes where the guys meet Elaine's tough-guy father, memorably played by Lawrence Tierney.  #160, "The Ex-Girlfriend," has the classic moment where a girlfriend dumps Jerry because his act is not funny enough.

Others in the bottom 69 that shouldn't be there:  "The Gum," where Lloyd Braun is going crazy; "The Shoes," where George looks at Bob Balaban's daughter's breasts; "The Susie," where there's confusion at J. Peterman over Elaine's name; "The Soup Nazi" at #143, when this is top ten for sure!;  "The Watch," where George screws up the NBC deal; "The Big Salad," which is top 100 for the salad stuff alone; "The Wink," one of the better episodes with George and the Yankees; "The Junior Mint," the classic "Mulva" episode which may be top ten and is certainly top 25; "The Strike," which brought us Festivus and has only improved through the years; "The Comeback," where George will go to any lengths to deliver an insult; "The Switch," where Jerry and George plot on how Jerry can change from his girlfriend to his girlfriend's roommate; "The Boyfriend," the one with Keith Hernandez and pretty decent for a two-parter; "The Parking Garage" where they spend the whole episode looking for their car; "The Virgin," where George gets Susan in trouble he kisses her; "The Pitch," where George insists to executives his show is about nothing; "The Andrea Doria," where George tells his sad life stories to win enough sympathy to get an apartment.

(Let me also note they say of the pilot that the Jerry-George scenes don't work but the Jerry-Kramer stuff is good--if anything, the opposite is true.)

Here are episodes listed from #99 to #51 that are either too high or too low:  "The Calzone" where George's tip isn't seen by the employees is too low; "The Junk Mail," where Kramer discovers a conspiracy at the post office, is too low; "The Sponge," where Elaine decides which suitors are "spongeworthy" is too low; "The Yada Yada" is too low; "The Busboy," an early episode, is one of the worst; "The Pony Remark," an early episode where Jerry mistakenly insults a relative, is too low; "The Puffy Shirt," a classic, is too low; "The Chinese Restaurant," a classic, too low; "The Pilot"--not the pilot, but "The Pilot," is too low; "The Dealership," a weak, late episode, is too high; "The Frogger," a weak, late episode, is too high; "The Pool Guy," a weak episode, too high; "The Marine Biologist," a classic where George explains how he found the golf ball, is too low; "The Barber," one of the worst episodes, is way too high.

The top 50:  "The Cigar Store Indian," not a great episode, should be lower;  "The Trip" is okay, but not top 40; "The Voice" is a weaker episode, bottom fifty; "The Bris" is a horrible episode, bottom ten, why is it listed at #35?; "The Stall" is no classic, rated way too high; "The Burning" is not great, far too high; "The Bizarro Jerry" is a top five episode and only makes #27; "The Café" is okay, but shouldn't be anywhere near #21; "The Gymnast" is okay, but not top 20; "The Mom & Pop Store" is okay, but not top 20; "The Conversion" is okay, but not top 20: "The Merv Griffin Show" is okay, but is regularly overrated; "The Secret Code" is good, but not top ten; "The Old Man" should be in the bottom fifty; "The Pen" is a memorable episode, but nowhere near the top ten; "The Subway" is okay, but no way is it #2.

So once again, my main point: ignore this list.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit and New Orleans, Alex

Who are next year's championship game teams? Not hardly.

Self knowledge is the best knowledge

"I ought to be running in a Democrat primary."

Take It Away, LJ

Laurie Johnson turns 89 today.  He's one of the top British composers of TV and production music.  You may not know his name, but you probably know his tunes.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Positive Vibration II

Is it 2050 already?

I doubt that's the right use of "virtual."

Positive Vibration

Bob Marley would have turned 71 today.  He died in 1981--hard to believe he's been dead almost as long as he was alive.  In the short time he was around, he proved to be the greatest reggae artist ever.

Friday, February 05, 2016

We're not worthy

He executed two wives, one more than O.J. Simpson allegedly managed.

If his head's a-hit, you must acquit.

Montel Williams endorses Kasich

Like Clockwork

Nothing is more predictable than people claiming a movie nominally set in the future successfully saw what was coming.  Especially when it's a negative outlook--a film like Network, or Brazil, or, as in this article, A Clockwork Orange.  In it, lead Macolm McDowell discusses how the film saw what was coming.

The nationwide release of “A Clockwork Orange” was 44 years ago — on Feb. 2, 1972 — but today its star, Malcolm McDowell, says the movie was more prescient than it seemed at the time.

Based on a novel by Anthony Burgess, the Stanley Kubrick film shows “a world in which all older people stayed indoors with their televisions on,” McDowell told the News. “And that’s basically what happened.

This is just silly.  A Clockwork Orange--published as a novel in 1962--was simply reporting on what had been going on already.  Yes, there's exaggeration, as there was in Network and Brazil, but the trends were already firmly in place.  But as far as Malcolm is concerned, everything was rosy back then:

The book was released in 1962 and shooting for the film began in 1969, “so this is really before huge gang violence and drugs happened,” McDowell said.

Wait, drugs began after the 60s?  And gangs, too?  People have been complaining a long time about roving gangs of youths menacing the population and making the streets unsafe.  There were countless scare stories in the news (in America and elsewhere) about the rising tide of juvenile delinquency in the 1950s, and how things were going to hell like never before.  Anthony Burgess was well aware of this. If anything--in America, anyway--things have calmed down a fair amount in the last few decades.

Why has it calmed down?  I don't know. Some would claim it's because cops and courts have gotten tougher here.  What does Malcolm have to say about that?

"I don’t see any aversion therapy thank god [he's referring to the Ludovico treatment his character goes through in the movie], but it’s amazing how there’s so many people incarcerated in America,” McDowell said. “We are so backward in our thinking, we are so medieval.”

I'd love to hear his forward-thinking solution, if it's so obvious what's wrong.  But watch out, Malcolm, or A Clockwork Orange might start looking even more prescient than it is now.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Do they teach separation of powers in Washington?

Nominee for Most Crucial:

The state's high court, however, already is fining the legislature $100,000 a day until it comes up with a new formula to comply with the court's 2012 McCleary ruling that said the state's public schools are entirely way too dependent on local property taxes and that the state must pour millions more dollars into the formula. In the meantime, the fines are going into a special account for education.  Legislators are stumped on finding where to get that money from and coming up with a way to equally distribute it across the state. Most crucial is finding a way to boost teacher pay. 

Remarkable. What's the budget item number for Supreme Court salaries? I'd start there and then move to their retirement. This is just entirely way too much.

How's The Coz doin'?

-Ly Ballou No Longer Here

Bob Elliott of Bob and Ray has died.  The duo had an deadpan style mixed with spoofs and out-of-left-field ideas.  They were never huge, but they maintained a cult popularity for decades in TV and radio.  Bob was also the father of Chris Elliott.

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