Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cinematic gems #13: The TV Set

The TV Set, Jake (son of Lawrence) Kasdan's 2006 pitch-perfect satire of network television, is a biting, funny, clever spiral into the madness of pilot production. The film stars a sublime David Duchovny as writer Mike Klein, who is in high spirits as the pilot he penned is about to enter into production. An intensely personal project for him, Klein, who is expecting a baby with his wife (Justine Bateman), feels he must make concessions to an ever-hands on Network president (played with icy zeal by a never-better Sigourney Weaver). Those concessions include replacing TJ, his preferred leading man (a bearded and funny Simon Helberg) with insecure, over-the-top Zach (Dollhouse's Fran Kranz, appropriately irritating) and changing many story specifics--including the suicide of the protagonist's brother, which was the entire impetus of his show. It also takes a toll on new good-guy executive Richard (Ioan Gruffudd), a Brit brought over to the states to add some perceived "class" to the network, who does his best to smooth things over with the production while his marriage (to The Office's Lucy Davis) falls apart. Will Mike make it through the back pain, added fart-effects and constant humiliation to see his show make it to the fall lineup? Or will reality programming and the Seth Green-hosted Slut Wars put him out of the running?

The best satire is grounded in reality, and this world will ring true to anyone who has dabbled in the industry. Weaver, whose role was originally written for a man, particularly excels here as Net Pres Lenny. An ultimately clueless big-game talker with brass balls, she's the kind of powerful Hollywood player that drives an artist nuts. Judy Greer is great as Mike's peace-keeping manager (who, in a very funny scene, admits she has never seen Scorsese's "The Taxi Driver" but will rent it soon). The rest of the cast is more than game, and features a ton of familiar faces, including Matt Besser, Matt Price, Lindsay Sloane, MC Gainey, Katherine Joost, Jonathan Silverman, Philip Baker Hall, Alan Blumenfeld, Nat Saxon, Andrea Martin and Willie Garson (who is a hoot as a dense director with no concept of shot composition). The slow-burning layers of Klein's ultimate breakdown are brilliantly constructed, and played perfectly by Duchovny, who the audience really feels for. Kasdan's script and sense of tone are spot-on, making The TV Set a strong snapshot of a futile business, where it's a wonder that, ultimately, anything gets made at all.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

These tattoos are PERMANENTLY awful!

This past weekend, I was in lovely New Orleans, LA for a wedding. During the many hurricanes, mint juleps, and "3 for 1" beverages, the topic of tattoos came up, with two of my sister-in-laws considering getting one while they were there. I have nothing against tattoos--the right hidden pic or meaningful phrase can be a source of pride and add character. There's just nothing I can think of that I would want to have permanently inked onto my body (other than, of course, John Stamos clinging to the back of a giant panda, or Reginald Vel Johnson flipping off the Statue of Liberty). I've heard many horror stories of some tattoo mistakes friends have made, but none can be as bad as the tattoos I've collected and commented on below. Take a look, but be forewarned: SOME ARE ADULT IN NATURE!

So...their offspring would be purple right? Purple, mythical, and horny.

Well, they got the comedy right...but the rest is a real "tradgey."

"No no no! I said I fucking love vegetables, not vegetables fu--nevermind. *sigh*"

"What do you mean Tower Records doesn't exist anymore? Where am I going to work?"

Hi ho, hi ho, don't wanna see this no mo'...

Well, we don't need to wonder anymore--now we know EXACTLY what Voldemort would like like with a Fu Manchu.

Hey baby, I hear tattoos a'callin.' Tossed salad and scrambled eggs!

"Get these mutha' fuckin' snakes off my mutha' fuckin' plain...ol' arm!"

I support the format, too, but...I guess it's not as mortifying as the BetaMax tat on his forehead.

Hours upon hours were spent on this design. Elegant, yet simple. A tattoo triumph. Dick Butt, indeed, kind sir...Dick Butt indeed.

"I mean, I really, really love Dolphins. And marijuana. Those are, like, my two passions in life. Porpoises and Pot. Do you have anything in your book that encompasses both of--oh shit, you do!"


Worst tattoo ever, or BEST TATTOO IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD? I'll let you be the judge. (I hope this isn't how I now remember Patrick Swayze...I love the guy!)

Not cool be confused with Vanilla Ice, who is cool AS ice, not Mr. Cool Ice. I like the "aww shucks" expression of the skeleton.

For all true HulkamaniBACKS.

This one is pretty epic, epic tattoo art failure. When beauty becomes beast...

Upside: For your armpit, EVERY week is Shark Week!

I'm shakin' for a little Cl'aiken! If I were invisible...I'd be a much better tattoo!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Because you didn't ask for cover of the Riverbottom Nightmare Band song!

As you've probably guessed by the title of my blog (or read the very first post), I'm a big fan of Jim Henson's perennial holiday classic, Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas. It's still as magical to me now as it was when I was a child (this was my favorite, my brother Shea was obsessed with Henson's The Christmas Toy). As much as I loved Emmet, his ma, and the Bob Dylan-esque Percy Woodchuck (his rendition of "Barbecue" is timeless), the real stars of the piece where the ruffian Riverbottom Nightmare Band, the roughest, toughest Bear/Weasel/Lizard/Frog/Fish band anywhere on the planet. Their self-titled psychedelic song in the talent contest was constantly rewound and watched over and over, with every nuance memorized and repeated to family members, friends and acquaintances. Once I finally got Garageband on my MacBook, one of the first things I recorded was an all-a capella version of the song, with me doing several layers of multi-tracked vocals approximating every instrument and lyric of the piece. Granted, I was using a piece-o-shit $20 USB microphone (I've since got the Blue Snowball Mic, which is amazing), but the results are pretty good. I mentioned in my very first blog post that I would post the song, so, late as it may be, here it is! Crank it up, and consider yourself an honorary Riverbottom Nightmare Bander!


I've also included the YouTubed version of outtakes from the television special--it's amazing to see Henson's crew improvising in character. So check em out!

**More then 3 days since my last blog post, so it's time for another Scott Baio photo...this time from the Jugband Christmas Edition. Sorry for the delay--I've been traveling (New Orleans!) and it's my Birthday, so back off!**

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The MVPs of PSAs!

I really miss the ol' public service announcements (PSAs) from the TV of my youth. With Smokey the Bear, McGruff the Crime Dog, Woodsy Owl and celebs like Nancy McKeon, Soleil Moon Frye, and Jason Bateman doing their part, we learned about safety, drugs, the environment and all sorts of life lessons while filling our heads with mindless entertainment. With a little poking around, I found a bunch of my favorites from when I was kid. So here are a few of them. Enjoy, but most importantly...LEARN!

Still quoted to this day by my generation, witness the best/worst parental/child drug confrontation ever.

Simple, effective, timeless...and somehow appetizing.

Telling the truth isn't going to be easy for tiny Alfonso Ribeiro after he breaks old man Robinson's window with a baseball in this rockopera by the Mormon Church. I never associated this with religion at all as a child--but I did learn that if I SUNG the truth, things could all work out in the end.

I sure was hankerin' for a hunka cheese after these spots ran on Saturday morning. Never mind that it's a creepy pale yellow stetson-wearin' walkin' thing trying to sell us on an afternoon dairy treat.

If Pee-Wee won't do crack, neither will I. I mean, he's a loner, a rebel, Dottie, but he's not stupid. The site of Reubens deep in character in this deadly serious spot always stuck with me.

Look, it's stressful being a droid, and sometimes R2 just needs a drag or 2. I just wish C3Party Pooper understood.

Not only did he introduce me to the Secret World of Og on Saturday mornings, but Captain OG Readmore took time to remind us of the power of reading. And if a cartoon cat with a Captain's rank tells me to read, then I am going to.

We all know the drill--in the city, or in the woods, help keep America looking good. At least that's what giant Robin-Hood wanna Owl Woodsy would like us to do. The song really resonates, especially when it's signed to me.

In order to fight crime, you need two things: Chutzpah, and a giant over sized walkie talkie.

Tiny Jason Bateman does his best to caution us against noise pollution. So if you're an 80s punk with absolutely horrid taste in music, do not force it upon passengers on public transportation.

Poppin. Lockin. Advisin.'

***It's been more than 3 days, so this is where normally you'd get the required Scott Baio photo.
I'm gonna go one better, and give you an early Love Boat clip with Scott Baio falling for Kristy McNichol. Talk about storybook romances!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My oh my...those are some terrible mascots!

I'll just put this out there:


Sure, they can be fun for families with small kids, but most of the time, they are distracting from the game going on at hand. For everyone fun iconic one like the San Diego Chicken, there are a dozen like the ones I am listing below. Odd, weird, inappropriate or just plain dumb mascots--and all of these are real. Take, for example:

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
"Big Red"
You've probably seen him on the ESPN commercials, and maybe he's won you over with his pizazz, but in reality, he's a giant red blob that runs rampant on the sidelines. He's like Grimace, but with a terrible rash.

Rhode Island School of Design Nads
Yeah...this is real. You've got to have one helluva backbone to don a giant dick suit, especially one that EXPOSES YOUR FACE. Though I bet it would be fun to see the look on the clerk's face when you take it in to the dry cleaners (lots of 'Permanent Press' jokes come to mind).

Oberlin Yeomen
It's a super odd choice to represent your school--watch out, rivals, 'cuz you are about to take on land-owning free members of the working class!

Whittier University Poets
Nothing quite strikes fear into your opponents than the thought of all that iambic pentameter coming at you in the fourth quarter!

Trinity Christian College Trolls
Fi fie fo fum, I smell the blood of a mascot dumb! Though does have a competitive advantage in games played under bridges.

Syracuse University Orangemen
"Otto the Orange"
So your mascot is a citrus fruit with a German name. Das ist dumm.

Standford University Cardinals
"The Tree"
From what I understand, the mascot technically belongs to their band. Though after M. Night Shyamalamadingdong's The Happening, the tree is a little scarier than it used to be. Gets the award for the cheapest looking of all mascot costumes.

Stetson Hatters
Ok, I get it, if your University is named after a hat it seems logical. Still, at least be MAD hatters so you will seem unpredictable to your opponents.

The Tampa Bay Rays
Like a scary refugee from a third-world Chucky Cheese, Raymond serves only to creep out fans in Florida. What the hell IS he, anyway?

Delta State University Fighting Okra
Yes, fighting OKRA. A boxing-gloved vegetable, forced down the throats of children everywhere who don't want to eat him!

Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Truly the pest of the mascot world, it would only be impressive if he could carry the whole team on his back. Literally. I mean, ants are supposed to be able to lift 10-50 times their own body weight, right?

Grays Harbor College Chokers
Named after tree-cleaning settlers, chokers are truly brave, tough individuals. But in sports, if you name your team CHOKERS it's just not going to end well on the score sheet.

Evergreen State College Geoducks
Or "Gooey Ducks," as they are referred to, these slimy mollusks are a bizarre choice for a mascot. Plus, the costume is downright creepy, looking a bit like frosted sugar cookies with a pickle in between them.

Presbyterian College Blue Hose
Ok, ok, so the picture is wrong...they are actually named after a stocking-clad Scotsman. Still, weird sounding choice.

University of Santa Cruz Banana Slugs
Ah, yes, UC Santa Cruz and their mascot, the Banana Slug, who's Latin name A. Dolichyphallus translates as "giant penis." I'm not kidding--Banana Slug members are nearly their entire body length. Maybe they should face off against Rhode Island and Scrotie.

Austin Peay State Governors
Watch out--they may veto that last minute shot you were thinking of hoisting at the buzzer.

Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes
They'll be in serious trouble if they play the Sacramento Shallot-Thyme Drawn Butterers or the Western Washington Mustard-Worcestershire Sauce.

If you have any other weird mascots to share, kindly wax about them in the comments.