Will it Be You?

Hey, do you like Chick tracts? What am I asking, of course you do. Who doesn't love Chick tracts? The terrible art, the hilariously wooden dialogue, the smug-yet-totally-inept proselytizing, people who say "Haw Haw" a lot, the rampant bigotry against basically anyone who's not a born-again Christian, though with special venom reserved for Jews, Mormons, Catholics and Muslims...what's not to love? Chick tracts are to comics as those bizarre Left Behind books are to actual novels.

And here is the best Chick tract ever.

Except, it's not really a Chick tract, but a spot-on parody that's every bit as funny as anything Jack Chick ever produced, except this one's funny on purpose. Enjoy.

With Guns. And Knives. They're Fighting For Their Lives...

An interesting credit appears on the screen, and it makes me chuckle.

"What made you laugh?" Emily whispers.

"That's the first time the it's said 'Based upon the novel by Ian Fleming' in the credits of a James Bond movie in a long, long time," I reply.

The main title theme to Casino Royale, "You Know My Name," sung by Chris Cornell, late of Soundgarden, just blows. Terrible. Up there (down there?) with Tina Turner's GoldenEye and Gladys Knight's License to Kill. Happily, that's about the only thing in this movie that's not fucking awesome.

One of the best things about the movie is that the credit that made me laugh is no joke. Casino Royale follows Fleming's novel quite closely, hearkening back to the early days of Dr. No and From Russia With Love, before the writers and producers started veering wildly away from the plots of the books and adding absurdity on top of absurdity. It's been modernized, of course - the villain, Le Chiffre, is a banker for terrorist organizations instead of Communist fifth-columnists, of course. Plenty of action has been added, too, as Fleming's book doesn't feature a whole lot of that trait.

And action, it turns out, is something for which Daniel Craig is well-suited. He makes a very muscular Bond in both a literal and figurative sense. Best since Connery? No doubt. He has the right combination of physicality, forceful personality and intelligence to make the character hit all the right notes. There's an on-foot chase early on that's one of the best chase sequences I've ever seen in a movie.

The movie does drag a bit in the middle. It proves my long-held belief that one of the most boring things a human can do is watch other people play poker. Unlike the supreme boredom of watching the World Series of Poker on ESPN, at least in the movie there's an actual plot that I was invested in. Also, there are some nice breaks in the poker sequences for Bond to go get in fights and kill people.

There's not a whole ton of humor, but that's a good thing. The over-the-top silliness and the long-cliche "I think he got the point" post-killing-somebody one-liners are gone. There is just enough, and they wisely reserve the funniest moment in the movie as comic relief in an otherwise brutal and highly disturbing torture sequence.

QIR wanted to sit through the end credits in order to see where the movie had been filmed. I didn't mind. Instead of the crappy theme song or some new techno-y remix, they were playing the classic Monty Norman electric guitar and orchestra James Bond theme. Sweet.


Thanks to the super-heroes, whose tireless efforts protect us all from the nefarious plans of Lex Luthor, Dr. Doom, the Red Skull and their ilk.

Thanks to the Illuminati, the Freemasons and the Shadow Government, for controlling the entire world so we don't have to.

Thanks to the professional wrestlers, whose high-flying acrobatics, absurdist soap-operatic shenanigans and somewhat hushed-up steroid abuse entertain us all in such a delightfully lowbrow way.

Thanks to James Tiberius Kirk, for rocking the two-fisted-club punch and being a general Intergalactic Lothario for all these years.

Thanks to the Denver Broncos Barrel Man, for being a fat old man so devoted to a professional football franchise that he allows himself to be seen in public wearing an orange barrel, a Stetson hat and cowboy boots.

Thanks to Masi Oka for being thoroughly charming and entertaining each week as Hiro Nakamura on Heroes.

Thanks to the folks at Ocean Spray for inventing the idiotic word "Craisins" because they surmise that the average American consumer is too dumb to understand what "dried cranberries" are.

Thanks to Trey Parker and Matt Stone for continuing to create snarky, insanely juvenile humor with a light patina of social comentary.

Thanks to Neil Gaiman, just for being himself.

Thanks to the potheads of the state of Colorado, for failing to pass pot-legalization initiative Amendment 44 in such a hilariously spectacular/spectacularly hilarious way, and for their reaction to to its inevitable failure being even more hilarious.

Thanks to monkeys, for flinging their poo and being hilarious.

Thanks to reruns of Seinfeld and the early seasons of Friends for proving to us all that the fashion trends of the '90s are no less silly than those of the '70s or '80s, just silly in a different way.

Thanks to meth-buying, gay-prostitute-hiring Pastor Ted Haggard for being a source of absolutely delightful and comical schadenfreude.

And finally, as my lovely Thanksgiving Day winds down, a big, heartfelt thanks to turkeys, for being so, so delicious.

Good night, and good luck. And happy Thanksgiving.

Headwear, Liver Damage, Lung Damage

Last night, I wore a fez, I drank exotic liquor, I smoked strawberry and mint flavored tobacco in a hookah.

Many thanks to Leah and Simon for a lovely evening of not exactly debauchery, but good times, good booze and one of the more interesting smoking experiences I've had. Even the finest cigar or bowl of pipe tobacco has a tendency to leave a kind of assy taste in one's mouth afterward. Smoking a hookah is somewhat like smoking a bong, only moreso and with tobacco rather than weed. Smooth, cool, mellow smoke, and no assy aftertaste. That would be the slogan if I were an adman working on a big hookah campaign.

The promised Casino Royale review is coming when I manage to get around to seeing it - maybe today, maybe tomorrow.

Men want him. Women want to be him.

Tomorrow, there's going to be a new James Bond movie. Because I'm as nerdy a nerd who ever nerded, this is very exciting to me. I think that all the naysayers who are up in arms about how much Daniel Craig is going to suck are way wrong. They clearly haven't seen Layer Cake, in which Craig proves himself to have the chops to play a good 007. Simon, the Boy of A Girl & A Boy, predicts that Craig will be the Best...Bond...Ever... amongst a lengthy and hilarious discussion of the making of Honey Martinis. Of course, he predicts that Craig will steal the title from Timothy Dalton, so maybe take his statements with a grain of salt.

Bonds in order from best to worst - Sean Connery (natch), Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan (points subtracted for being named Pierce), George Lazenby, Roger Moore.

Seriously, anyone who says they think Roger Moore is the best Bond is simply not to be trusted. That dude just flat-out sucked. The Spy Who Loved Me is pretty good, but that has more to do with cool villains, the strong female lead and a fucking Lotus that turns into a submarine.

My controversial choice for best Bond movie? On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Lazenby's weak, but everything around him is great. Blofeld's mountaintop hideout, Diana Rigg, the first-and-still-the-best ski chase, and the cherry on top that is a fistfight on a bobsled at the end.

Worst Bond movie: A View to a Kill. San Francisco is a beautiful location, one of the most photogenic cities in the world. And that's about all this movie has going for it. Moore is old and bored, that "Charlie's Angels" chick is just terrible, Christopher Walken is weird and creepy as usual but never terribly entertaining.

I'll be back with more Bondy goodness next time I post (Tomorrow night, maybe, more likely Sunday or Monday) with a full nerdy-ass-nerd review of Casino Royale.

Pitagora Suicchi

Dude, Japanese TV is cool.

The video is pretty long, so don't feel obligated to watch all of it, but it's pretty amusing.

For the final project in my 3D Design class, I've got to make a Rube Goldberg machine that makes a mark of some sort on a piece of paper. It can't involve fire, hazardous materials or live animals. It has to have some sort of overall visual theme. The process has to be repeatable in a relatively short amount of time. Other than that, the requirements for the project are pretty wide-open.

So...readers, any brilliant ideas? If I could just re-create the Breakfast Cooker from Pee-wee's Big Adventure, I would. But I can't, so I'm looking for inspiration from all sources. Anyone?

Guatemala Schmolla

Katherine was having a lousy time at the Marine Corps Ball...

Until Matt showed up and saved the day!


Walk-and-Talk to be Replaced by Just Walk

I've tried. I've watched every episode so far. The first one was good enough to keep me interested. I've watched the rest hoping it would at least get back to that level, if not better. No such luck. I've officially given up on "Studio 60."

I came to a few realizations last night while watching this show.

1. There's really no possible subject matter for a TV show more boring than studio politics. On Sorkin's previous (and highly, highly superior) "backstage" show, "SportsNight," there was the occasional subplot about, "The big bosses want this and that," but mostly the show was about the people working on the show-within-a-show and the various ways they related with one another. "Studio 60" is just constant, unending waves of "the guy from 'Wings' wants this, Chandler Bing and Whatsisname from 'West Wing' don't want to do it, and Whatsername Who Can't Act makes a compromise." It never ends, and it's like watching paint dry, only it's on television, so you don't even get the mild high from the fumes.

2. The bits and pieces of comedy sketches we see from the show-within-a-show? Not even remotely funny. Smug, sarcastic, trying way too hard to be funny? Yes, all of these things. But actually make-you-laugh funny? Nope. Sorkin can do funny - "SportsNight" was, in its day, one of the funniest shows on TV. But he's not doing it here...

3. Following on that, one of the main reasons it's never funny: Too much Jesus. The half of the show that doesn't revolve around boring-as-fuck studio/network politics revolves around Chandler Bing writing sketches that mock Christianity, and somebody, usually but not always That One Blonde Chick Whose Character is a Christian But Not One of the Bad Ones, gets in a snit and says, "You're mocking the deeply-held beliefs of millions of people!" I think Sorkin just wants to see how many weeks in a row he can include the same line in a show, because with little variation, it seems to be there every week. Last night, special guest star John Goodman got to say it.

And the thing is, they're right. If Observation #2 weren't true, it would be a different story. That is to say, if we were seeing them mock Christians and Christianity in a funny way, it would be easier to buy that there's actually an argument worth having there. But as it stands, all they're doing is taking smug, easy cheap shots at Christians and Christianity, and it's stupid and insulting. Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending the hypocritical Jerry Falwells and Ted Haggards of the world, who deserve every cheap shot that gets lobbed at them. But as much as Sorkin tries to disguise it, he seems to be pretty clearly of the opinion that the entire religion and all of its adherents deserve no mercy from his (and his proxy Chandler Bing's) rapier wit.


At the other end of the "shows about a not-so-thinly-veiled-standin-for-SNL" spectrum, my not-so-secret Secret Girlfriend Tina Fey's "30 Rock," which I've caught a couple of times now, has been at least entertaining and amusing if not uproariously funny.

Also, "Heroes," about which I was cautiously excited, just rocks, and is getting better and better.

In Which Wolverine and Batman are Total Dicks to One Another

Went to see The Prestige last night, and I dug it quite a lot. Batman and Wolverine are both excellent, Michael Caine is as good as ever, Scarlett Johannsen is quite good in a small role and, of course, quite lovely to behold. It's also nice to see David Bowie in a movie and not have to spend two hours unable to look away from his mule knuckle. Also nice to see Andy Serkis getting work from someone besides Peter Jackson. The plot turned kind of science-fictiony partway through, which bothered Emily, but did not bother me. Some aspects of the inevitable surprise ending are a bit Shyamalanian - kind of forced and meant to be surprising but ultimately predictable. Still, it's a fairly minor flaw in an overall outstanding movie.

It's kind of difficult to write much about this movie because it's similar in so many ways to The Illusionist. A lot of the ideas and themes in both movies are very similar. Both movies even used Ricky Jay as a technical advisor (Jay even has a small role as the magician that both Batman and Wolverine work for early on in The Prestige). A lot of what I might write about this movie, I already wrote a month ago. And this isn't like comparing Deep Impact (kinda dopey and forgetable) with Armageddon (willfully stupid and almost insultingly bad), as both of these magician movies are quite good. The key difference is that The Illusionist is a love story and The Prestige is a hate story. It's difficult to pick sides in The Prestige, as neither of the leads is terribly sympathetic. Not only are Wolverine and Batman, as noted in the title, total dicks to one another, but they're also total dicks to pretty much everyone around them, too. Obsession is a key element in both movies - but where Eisenheim is obsessed with saving his true love in The Illusionist, here Wolverine and Batman are obsessed with destroying each other. Both movies have similar themes, but take them in interestingly different directions.

The Wolverine/Batman pairing, as you can probably tell, amuses me to no end. It's almost as good as the 1994 romantic comedy Speechless, in which Batman (Michael Keaton) and Superman (Christopher Reeve) compete for the affections of Geena Davis.

Wolverine is a busy boy these days. We also saw the trailer for The Fountain, starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz, which looks fucking awesome. Also the trailer for Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, which looks very strange but also potentially pretty good.

A Rag-Tag Fugitive Fleet

How often is the remake as good as the original? Almost never.

How often is the remake actually better than the original? Maybe one in a million.

How often is the remake leaps and bounds beyond the original, a complete improvement in pretty much every way? I can think of exactly one example.

My brother and I were huge "Battlestar Galactica" fans when we were kids. But then, we were kids, and just about anything with spaceships and rayguns and evil robots is cool as hell when you're a five-year-old boy. The original "Battlestar Galactica" was cheesey as hell, featuring Ben Cartwright and Faceman from "The A-Team" in velour spacesuits doing battle with guys in chintzy robot costumes. Also, there was a cute kid with a robotic dog.

I always thought the basic story concept was interesting, and could be done well. Turns out I was right.

We're partway through season "2.5" of the new "Galactica" on DVD, and every episode just blows my mind. A lot of nerds are saying it's the best sci-fi TV show ever, and I'm inclined to agree. My love for "Star Trek" in both Classic and Next Generation varieties knows no bounds, but "Galactica" is at least the equal of those shows. Great characters played by great actors, compelling plots, just the right amount of action...what's not to love? Toss in a bit of eye candy for men (Katee Sackhoff is just wikid, wikid hot) and for women ('cuz I know craggy, pock-marked Edward James Olmos just drives the ladies wild), and you've got a great show.

To call it the best sci-fi show is to damn with faint praise. It still ghettoizes the show, lumping it in with crap like "Stargate" and the last couple of "Star Trek" spinoffs. "Battlestar Galactica" is as good as anything on TV right now.

White People Food

We arrive home from a couple of days away, hungry but unwilling to go to the grocery store. I've just been driving for three hours; Emily spent most of the day working. Neither of us has much creative energy. Desperate times call for desperate measures. We must make do with what is in the house.

The green beens are rotten. The bread is moldy. There is some chicken, but not enough to make a meal for two. I gather what I can, and set to work.

Forty-five minutes later, I present Emily with what I proudly proclaim to be, "the Whitest meal ever served that doesn't actually involve Wonder Bread or Velveeta." I've browned a bit of plain ground turkey with diced peppers and onions and mixed it with mac-n-cheese. On the side, owing to a shocking lack of edible vegetables, I'm serving the best I could come up with, glazed carrots. It's all mitigated somewhat by the fact that it's Annie's organic shells and cheese rather than the ever-reliable bluebox Kraft Dinner. Moreso by the fact that, not hampered by the standard whitebread middle-America aversion to seasonings more exotic than black pepper, I've actually managed to make a fairly tasty rendition of White People Food.

Still, eating it makes me feel like Emily and I should watch some "CSI," then read a few pages of a John Grisham or Danielle Steele novel before settling down for the night in Pleasantville-style twin beds, finally lulling ourselves to sleep with comforting thoughts of the Republican party defending Traditional American Values and protecting us from the illegal immigrants and the gays...

Right. Curried red lentils and naan for dinner this weekend, then...