Sunday, December 19, 2010

My movie weekend

Since awards season is underway with the announcement of the Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations, that means I'm spending more time at a theater near me.
After having to wait out the less-than-worthy movies, and still regretting not seeing Toy Story 3 when I had the chance, I'm starting to put together a list of which ones to see.
As usual, I go to the bargain matinees. I'm cheap and proud of it. So what if I have to wade through semi-flooded streets to save a few bucks. So be it. That's what I did to see The Black Swan.

At least one person has said this movie is The Wrestler in a tutu, or something like that. In this case, it's a bade of honor. It's directed by Darren Aronofsky, who shows us the ugly side of stardom and what one has to do to keep up.
Remember Randy the Ram? He relied on steroids and very unhealthy habits to stay in the pro wrestling game, even if he was way past his prime.
What has that got to do with up-and-coming ballerina Nina Sayers, played by Natalie Portman? Actually, a lot. Even if she is moving up the ranks of her ballet company, she has to undergo a punishing physical process to stay in shape and do the routines over and over. She's up for the Swan Queen in Swan Lake, even though director Thomas Leroy, played by Seymour Cassel, isn't sure she can do it. He wants someone who can be pure and then seductive. She does get the role, but now she has to fight to keep it.
Her rival is Lily, played by Mila Kunis. Lily is a free spirit, and the first ballet dancer I've seen with a tattoo of swan feathers. It's no coincidence.

Looking at this movie, you have to see Nina's life. She may be an adult, but inside there's a scared little girl who wants to be perfect. Technique she can handle, but trying to be the white and dark swan may be too much for her. It may also be a metaphor for trying to achieve emotional maturity.
Her family life is a little scary, too. She lives with her mom Erica (Barbara Hershey) who was a dancer until she gave it up to raise Nina. She keeps Nina in a little girl world. Compare that to Randy the Ram's attempts to reconnect with his daughter. While that relationship fell apart, Nina is way too close to her mom. Both extremes wind up hurting the main characters.

When Leroy explains to his cast how his version of Swan Lake will end, I had a flashback to how The Wrestler ended. Let's just say both involve a leap of faith.
I'm trying to keep spoilers to a minimum, but I can Natalie Portman is incredible as Nina, the ballerina who gives everything, and maybe to much, for her career and her role as the Swan Queen. Unfortunately, it's a little too similar to how much Randy the Ram gave to wrestling, right down to the cheering of the crowd.
I also liked Kunis as Lily, She's also believable as a ballerina, as she represents the darkness Nina wishes she could embrace, but also fears.

Meanwhile, I also decided to use up a Crest Theater movie card by seeing The Fighter, about boxer Micky Ward and his brother Dicky. I'll make this short by saying Christan Bale is fantastic as Dicky, a former boxer who trains brother Mickey. Much of the drama centers around the Ward family, and how mother Alice manages Micky's career. Melissa Leo is great as Alice, but Amy Adams is a big surprise as Charlene, Micky's love interest who the family doesn't trust because she thinks Micky should take career in a new direction. This is especially true when Dicky winds up in prison. Forget Gisele or the nun she played in Doubt. Adams has real edge as Charlene. She and Leo may wind up competing for Best Supporting Actress several times this winter.

So, what's next? True Grit, for one. I'd like to see how his Rooster Cogburn matches up with John Wayne. I already think Hailee Steinfeld will be much better than Kim Darby.
But, I have a lot of over cash I have to spend: three AMC passes, 25 dollars in Fandango cash gotten at a 50 percent discount, and two e-Movie Cash tickets. The toughest part will be using the AMC passes (provided by Coke Rewards, by the way) because I live in a Cinemark town. I can use them in L-A and San Francisco, and they won't expire. I hope to use two of the AMC passes, if the Citywalk Cinema has the right movies there. Of course, that means True Grit, Tangled and (if necessary) Tron Legacy.
I'll also be in L-A when they announce the Oscar nominations. That will also influence my choices. Of course, I could also go to a DVD kiosk to get Winter's Bone, which may play a big role in the final results.
If nothing else, I'll be a more informed Oscar viewer.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas in Downtown Sacramento Isn't the Same

Time for me to add holiday cheer to my blogs, web page and Twitter page. Before I do that, I took some time to see what Christmas is like in downtown Sacramento.

The recession has already taken a toll on Downtown Plaza. The annual lighting of the traditional tree was cancelled. Instead we have this...

I'd rather have the big tree

A toy display in front of the former Hard Rock Cafe. If that is not symbolic of hard times in downtown, this is...

This is NOT the same

A dozen small trees with lights is not the same. We could have just one in my house.

So, it's left to Old Town to bring in the big Christmas cheer. They have a new show called Theater of Lights that happens twice a night from Thursdays to Sundays. It's a bit of Disneyland in Old Town. It's hosted by a guy who says he's Mark Twain.....

Mark Twain? Maybe

He gives a brief history of Old Town, but the highlight is a reading of The Night Before Christmas. The performance I saw on November 27th was actually a hoot. We have Santa with his eight reindeer...

Here Comes Santa Claus

Then he ho-ho-ho'ed just a bit too much, resulting in this...

Hey! Santa's hair is attacking him!

He should perfect this part of the job in no time, and do it perfectly by Christmas Eve.

There's also the tree as the area's centerpiece. This is a lovely view at sunset.

Old Town Christmas Tree

I also liked this row of trees, with hats instead of angels on top.

Christmas Trees With Hats

So, if you happen to be at Old Town this holiday season, take some time to enjoy the way they celebrate Christmas. It also shows the advantage of having local businesses. I bet Westfield decided to pool all their holiday cheer at the Roseville Galleria and neglect Downtown Plaza because people would rather go to Roseville and its better variety of shops. Well, adding a Hyundai store to Downtown Plaza doesn't make up for not having a tree this year. Not in my opinion.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Is It Too Soon To Judge Conan?

It didn't take long for people to decide if Conan O'Brien's new show on TBS would be a hit or a miss.
After big ratings Monday, they have dropped, as expected. It happened when he took over The Tonight Show. In the long run, he did pull in a bigger audience than Jay Leno, but NBC wanted that "comfort midnight snack" that carried the show since 1992.
After three days, USA Today is saying the show is just like the one he had on NBC, which is both good and bad. Entertainment Weekly, for some reason, is upset he makes fun of TBS a lot. Yeah, and why shouldn't he? The other hosts mock their networks,. It's kind of like federal law.

I think I know the problem: everyone wants Conan to be the TV version of the Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on TV Tour. They expect that because they think cable can allow it.
You know, they may be right. I'd like to see Conan go free-form a bit more, and maybe involve his guests in comedy bits, make it more of a variety show with interviews. Tuesday's whale-watching bit with Tom Hanks proves that. Imagine what they could do with Jon Hamm, the most handsome SNL host in years, and damn funny to boot.
Maybe Conan isn't sure what he can do or get away with right now. He's starting the new era with what he knows best, which is the show he's been doing since 1992. Then, he can decide what walls he can remove.
Here's another idea: bring back the characters he had in the NBC days, and say, "OK, NBC, I expect your gun-toting lawyers tomorrow. Come and get me!"
That would be worth it, to see Triumph, the Masturbating Bear. the Preparation H guy, S&M Lincoln, and the like. Heck, bring back Amy Poehler as Andy's little sister Stacy. This time, since she's grown up since then, we can see if she still has a crush on Conan or is dating a Jay Leno clone.
Also, with the Conan Blimp being grounded by winds, why not do a bit about that? Conan can say the Blimp is grounded because those assassins who shot him in the first show now want to blast the blimp out of the sky. However, you get the pilot armed with a "say hello to my little friend" rocket launcher, and he blasts the assassins away. Then, the blimp flies again, and finally starts its West Coast swing.

The point is this: we shouldn't say if Conan has succeeded or failed after a week. We shouldn't complain about his choice of jokes. Let him spit out the last of the NBC-caused venom. Let him mock his new surroundings, even if they're nicer than the old set. Let him admit his new situation. he'll know that after a week or two, he'll tell the crowd that he's gone through the Seven Stages of Grief, and from now on, it's gonna be Conan time every night.
If there is a time to make any judgement, it should be during the holiday break. Then we can decide what works, what doesn't and what changes can be made.
Heck, he had a hard enough time trying to keep his job at NBC during his first year. Let's not be hasty. That's too prime-time. It's also too much like pro sports.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nice Little Vacation

Well, that was five days that went fast.
Much of it was spent hammering out stories about the "Weekend of Whedon", which apparently is giving Whedonopolis a lot more visitors these days. I was sure someone else would recap what happened at several other websites. Apparently, I have been thanked for going the extra mile getting all the big stories.

Aside from that, I did something I hadn't done since Comic-Con two years ago when I wanted to see the premiere of Inglorious Basterds: I woke up at the crack of dawn to get a standby ticket for Conan O'Brien's second show for TBS. As you can see....

Not the premiere, but close

I made it, but barely. I was number 11 on the standby line, and the magic number was 14. Still, it was worth sacrificing some sleep to get to see the real beginning of Conan's career on basic cable. I got there about seven a-m, and wondered how many people would be there. There were seven people in front of me, including five that had been here since 2 AM. It was cold but at least it was dry. I had a book about Dollhouse to keep me occupied. Couldn't have brought the iPod, since I could also prove it doesn't record anything.
The best part, of course, was Tom Hanks very happy to get the new show on a good start, since his next movie is more than eight months away. The best part was when he got drenched by the CGI whale. You can bet the backdrop will be the scene of many a strange situation. That's one-up on most late-night shows, except for Letterman. At least his backdrop can feature some trains, planes, and orange blimps.

Because of the usual prohibition of cameras, I decided to take a picture of some of the first fans from Monday's show.

Lucky Ones

A food truck called the Patty Wagon dropped by, to sell sliders to hungry Conan fans. It didn't show up for Tuesday's show, for some reason.

I also got a chance to see a taping of Jeopardy. The shows won't air for four months, but they have one guy who just make take the show for a lot of cash.
It was a lot better than the Catch 21 taping I saw last year. The seats at the Sony studios are much more comfortable. The set looks high-tech, but it's the contestants we're supposed to look at. Alex Trebek is also a very sharp wit. If Dancing With the Stars started ten years ago, he'd host it..or should.

So, that's my last visit to SoCal of 2010. I'll make another trip in late January. I hope this time the people who run The Ellen DeGeneres Show will accept my request to get a ticket. I lost out last year because they changed the schedule, and still got my "guaranteed" ticket three weeks after the episode aired. If my request for the November 9th show was accepted, I never would have gone to see Conan. I'll ask for tix for both, and maybe I'll be lucky this time. Getting a ticket to Kimmel is never a problem.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Changing Times

As you may know, it's the end of Daylight Savng Time for this year. We all experience something we haven't had to do for aware at 7:25 AM while thinking it's still 8:25.

At least I put the extra hour to use by finishing my stores from the frist day of the LAX CreationCon. They'll be posted later today at Whedonopolis. They're basically summaries, but with pictures very few people can see anywhere on the net. I really wish I could have talked to Nick Brendon some more abut his recent role in Private Practice, such as what convinced him to take the role, what's been the response (pretty good so far, according to yesterday) and whether he'd take darker roles in the future. If I do get a chance in the future, I'll do that.

But back to time itself...

It's interesting the reaction we have when we have to change our clocks. In the spring, we get upset that we've lost an hour right off the bat. Once we see we can stay out in the sun a bit longer, that anger is gone.

When we turn our clocks back, we think we have an advantage. We wake up an hour early, and realize we woke up just in time for football. Others, meanwhile, wonder what can they do when the sun is up earlier, and whish they could sleep a little longer. They are also usually the ones with big hangovers, and I don't mean from Election Day.
Once we see the sun set an hour earlier, we see that "profit" we had in the morning go away. Soon, our body clocks will be reset, and we'll get used to earlier mornings and longer nights. At least, though, it's just in time for Christmas.

Friday, October 29, 2010

World Series: View From the Knothole

It's not too often that San Francisco has had a chance to set the baseball world on its ear. That accomplishment was done by Oakland in the 1970's and 80's, because it has the cooler ball park that's also near a BART train stop.
1962. 1989. 2002. Those were the three chances the Giants had to bring a World Series win to the Golden Gate. In order, they came within a line drive of beating the Yankees, got swept after an earthquake, and was beaten by a rally monkey from Anaheim.
I never even got the chance to get close to a World Series because I was too far away, or I had to work. I finally got lucky when a day off on October 28th, which I requested to see a Rifftrax movie, got turned into a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I got to see the middle innings of game 2 through the famous right field Knothole. About 450 people got that rare chance to step inside and see a very important game, or part of it, for free.

Being behind Cody Ross

Sure, people could have gone to the Public House to see it on HDTV, or at several nearby bars, restaurants and small grocery stores. Still, being just a few feet away from Edger Renteria's homer in the fifth is still something special, even under the bleachers separated by a fence.
In fact, people waited for hours to get a wrist band to get in for three innings.

It ain't Comic-Con this time

Thanks to my Comic-Con training, and a filled iPod, I managed to get a writsband to see the game in the middle innings after waiting two hours. People who wanted to get into the first game waited since two a-m for their wristbands.
Looking back, I should have gotten some kind of World Series souvenir, but I bet one will be in my hands sooner than later.

Here's another view from inside the Knothole....

New Knothole Gang

For those who could not get in, that didn't matter...

But then who needs to see the game?

As long as got a glimpse somehow of the action, that was enough....because this was the World Series, and it's only the third time it's come to San Francisco since 1962. At AT&T Park, it's a very special atmosphere. Even if you couldn't get inside, being around the place, and watching the game at the bar outside the park is good enough.
Otherwise, just sail on McCovey Bay, and hope a home run ball comes your way, like these guys...

Traffic Jam At McCovey Cove

Since the game came just before Halloween, a lot of people came in costume, from kids whose faces dressed like Brian Wilson to a guy named the Rally Pumpkin....

It's the Rally Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Brian Wilson Jr.

Here's a link to the entire set of photos I took. I might add more from a sports bar in Sacramento, but that depends on what happens this weekend.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Why Being A Giants Fan Is Blissful Torture

It was a difficult Saturday night for me, wondering if I was actually going to check off something from my ever-changing Bucket List: being near a World Series.
C'mon, you know how much tickets costs? You need to win Fantasy 5 at least twice.

Anyway, while the Giants were battling the Phillies in Game 6, I watching many things besides that game.
Why? Well, I kind of blame Marcos Breton of the Sacramento Bee.
When PBS aired Baseball: The 10th Inning last month, he was a featured commentator. He talked about how he waited for years to see the Giants get back to the World Series and win it all, and that Barry Bonds would lead the way. He also recalled how the Giants were six outs away from doing just that in the 2002 World Series.
Of course, the Angels and that Rally Monkey ruined that.
Then there was a column he wrote last week after the Giants lost game 5 at home. He talked about how the Giants failed to win the 1986 NLCS and 2002 Series after leading three games to two. He sounded very print.
AND...the Phillies were practically expected to dismantle Texas when the Series starts Wednesday. These were the Phillies of the 21st Century, far more advanced than their ancestors.

So, I wound up watching the NFL Network, seeing a show about why there are a handful (literally) of left-handed quarterbacks that had good careers. I saw a Ken Burns documentary about radio. I kept checking on the Oklahoma-Missouri football game.
Occasionally, I watched the Giants and Phillies, fearing the worst.
I also started working on my Whedonopolis story about Amber Benson doing a book signing at Borders in Sacramento the night before.

Finally, I committed to watching the game around the sixth inning. I wondered what happened to Johnathan Sanchez, but that was before I heard about him hitting a guy with a pitch, and how that sparked a near-riot. The Giants bullpen kept the Phillies at bay, and it stayed tied at two.
Then came Juan Uribe's homer in the 8th. I was hopeful, but not confident.

Torture. Giants fans were feeling it again.
That included Breton, whose comments in the Baseball documentary suggested that the Giants were the West Coast version of the Red Sox. Every few years, they get to the World Series, yet fail to bring a world title to Northern California.
The A's did it several times, even against the Giants in 1989.
Not the Giants. Six outs away, then looking forlorn as the Angels celebrated in 2002. So similar to what the Red Sox felt in 2003 against the Yankees, or 1976 and 1986.
Sure, Boston finally got that World Series title in 2004, then another in 2007.
But the Giants are not the Red Sox. They were not supposed to be pennant winners in 2010. The Phillies would come back, then win game seven the next night, and clobber the Texas Rangers a week later.
It all came to this: Brian Wilson against Ryan Howard, who was due to drive in some runs and end this silly idea of the Giants beating the Phillies.
3-2 pitch. Howard didn't swing.
He should have.
The Giants won the pennant. The Giants won the pennant!
Breton, of course, wrote a much happier column, and an even happier one will likely follow that.

Wonderful news for Northern California fans, but not so much for Fox TV executives who were hoping for a Yankees-Phillies rematch. Even a few web reporters are predicting a Giants-Rangers World Series will attract fewer viewers than Lone Star, the show that lasted all of three weeks against Dancing With The Stars.

Well, so what? People wondering whose these guys are will attract enough interest and fans.

This also changes by plans for this week. A while ago, I asked to have this coming Thursday off so I can see the annual Rifftrax (or MST3K 2.0...Cinematic Titanic is MST3K 2.1) Halloween Movie Barbecue. Mike Nelson and the guys were going to riff on the original House on Haunted Hill, which would be colorized.
My request was granted, mainly because I was piling up some vacation time anyway.
Now, with the Giants playing on Thursday at home, should I choose between Rifftrax and the Series?
Let's see...Rifftrax is 12 bucks, and they're likely going to do another holiday spectacular in December. The World Series is five zillion dollars a ticket, and that's in the bleachers.
Well, naturally, I'd go to Rifftrax, but it doesn't cost that much to stand outside AT&T Park while the Series is being played. There's also bound to be a lot of activity before the game itself. That's reason enough to go.
I'll hang around until about seven p-m, then I'll head to the Century Theater at Market, and see Vincent Price's mustache be mocked.

Of course, if for some reason, I actually get a real ticket...welll.....
I doubt it, naturally. I was at the Citywalk outside the MTV Music Awards last year, and was glad about that after the fact since Twilight swept everything.

So, we'll see what happens. I'm glad this blog got published at all, since heavy rain and some blown transformers cut off power twice in 30 minutes. Thank goodness for auto-save,

Sunday, October 17, 2010

RED Almost Lives Up To Hype

When I saw the previews for RED at Comic-Con more than two months ago, I thought ths would be one cool movie.
I'll admit it. Helen Mirren with a machine gun was really the selling point. What other reason would get her there, considering her past roles?

Saw RED yesterday, and it was a solid action movie. With some tweaks, it could have been more awesome, such as more Mirren.
The plot, of course, is that some retired CIA agents are marked for death by someone. Bruce Willis does a heck of a job as Frank Moses. Even at his advanced age, which isn't that advanced, he kicks butt. Mary-Louise Parker as his reluctant sidekick, Sarah, is really quirky. I just wish she was allowed to fire a few shots at the bad guys. Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich are also good. I think John's response to someone trying to kill him with a rocket launcher should be on a t-shirt, sold by the AARP.
I am kind of torn about Karl Urban, as Cooper, the CIA official sent to kill Frank. When we first meet him, he is seen as ruthless, but also talks to his kid on the cell phone. That's supposed to show he's not totally without a soul, like his supervisor. From then on, he's ruthless and rather arrogant in his efforts to bring Frank down. His fight with Moses enlightens him a bit, but not enough to realize he's being used by the real bad guys. Either they make him soulless, or have some compassion and sense. He and Frank would have been very scary as a team. However, that would have gone against the comic that the movie is based, which, again, would have been reason to make him ruthless.

Also, did you know Bran Cox is in this movie? He plays Ivan, a Russian agent who's also been put out to pasture, and is asked by Frank to help out. Maybe the trailers sould have mentioned this.
And speaking of the trailers, they spoil a plot point when it appears someone has the drop on Freeman's character, but they don't reveal what eventually happens and why.

The movie hasn't been as well-received as most action movies right now. It could be because of the reasons I mentioned. It could also be due to the fact that it came after The Expendables and Machete, which were both action packed and bloody. Maybe people were hoping RED would be just as insane as The Expendables, which also include aging block ops guys. Well, it isn't, but it's a good movie that could have been better with a few more Killer Helen Mirren.

So, what's next? If Let Me In is still in an AMC theater in L-A next month, I'll get to that. I still regret not seeing Toy Story 3 when I had the chance. I will get it soon, like maybe when it's released on DVD. If I buy that and The Shepherd's Tale, I save on postage. From the trailers I saw yesterday, Dwayne Johnson looks like revenge on two legs with Faster. I also expect the GOP to demand that everyone connected with Fair Game (the Valerie Plame movie with Naomi Watts and Sean Penn) be charged with treason. It'll keep Fox News busy for a month, that's for sure. I think it's time to find an indie to see, like Nowhere Boy or It's Kind of a Funny Story.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

17 Years Between Innings, But Worth The Wait

When PBS aired Ken Burns' epic history of Baseball in 1993, people were fascinated by how the history of the game reflected America. It reintroduced modern fans to the greats from Ty Cobb to Willie Mays and everyone in between . made Buck O'Neill a star

Last year, Burns announced he would make a tenth inning to cover what has happened up to today. Considering that he'd have to look at the 1994 strike, steroids, and how 9-11 impacted the game, he'd have a tall order. It's already been previewed in special events, with the premiere scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thanks to dumb luck, I managed to get a DVD screener of the four-hour "inning", and gave it a whirl yesterday while Stanford was clobbering Wake Forest.
Burns has met that tall order and more in this update of the classic series. I do have a few quibbles about it, but I'll get to that later.

The main point is this: how does Burns condense 15 years of history in four hours? He concentrates on the main issues that affected that period. The biggest one is the popularity of steroid use, and how it may not that surprising it would happen. In fact, one person gives a really good reason why players would turn to steroids, and you'll be surprised who says it.

He looks at how the game is passed on from father to son, especially in the case of Barry Bonds. If nothing else, this documentary explains his development as a player and person very effectively. You may not be a fan, but you see him in a new way.

It looks at the 1994 strike, and how it robbed fans of what would have been a history-making season. Ask any Montreal baseball fan. It also looks at how the chase for Roger Maris' home run record practically brought the game back from the brink, even though it may have been helped by...yep...steriods.

The second half looks at how the Giants came so close to finally getting a World Series title to San Francisco, while the Red Sox finally reached the holy grail. It points out the Sox really won in the American League Championship Series, not by sweeping St. Louis a few days later.
It also looks at 9-11's impact on the game, and it also looks at Steve Bartman, but thankfully briefly.

If anyone does dominate the "inning", it would be Bonds. He was a guy who's the son of a player, and thought his abilities should be recognized. When they were not due to the Mcgwire/Sosa home run chase, he did what he thought he had to do. Then, once he did achieve two major home run records, the adulation he thought he'd get didn't quite happen. That's baseball, especially if you remember the previous nine innings of the series.

Some commentators from the original series are back, including George Will, Gerald Early, Daniel Okrent, and long-suffering Red Sox fan Doris Kearns Goodwin. They're joined by Keith Olbermann, Sacramento Bee reporter Marcos Breton and Mike Barnacle. In fact, the second half is dominated by Barnacle, and how he suffered along with his Sox against those damn Yankees.

As I said, I do have some quibbles. For some thing, where was Jack Buck's poem just before the Cardinals resumed play after the 9-11 attacks? Why just 8 seconds for the Chicago White Sox winning the World Series? Was Burns afraid he'll make too many Cubs fans mad?

Well, maybe this "inning" should have been a bit longer to fit them in. Still, "Baseball: The Tenth Inning" is a great update of an already classic documentary series. Let's just hope we get an 11th inning in a few years.

Monday, September 6, 2010

An Interesting Way To Test Your Health

A while ago, I got a chance to interview Juliet Landau, aka Drusilla on Buffy, when she was in San Francisco. That interview is at Whedonopolis.
It took place at a small pop culture shop called Neon Monster at 22nd and Castro. It's interesting for several reasons...

Neon Monster

The monsters are very popular, along with the comic books and records they have. Also, this is at the foot of the door...

Neon Monster's Previous Life

This means this used to be a drug store before it was a comic book store. Reusing old buildings isn't that unusual, but I would think they'd replace that tile with the monster logo.

The most interesting thing about this place is that you have to climb a VERY steep hill to get there. If you can walk from the Castro Theater to 22nd and Castro, and not wind up out of breath, that really proves you're physically fit.
In fact, if you can walk to certain parts of San Francisco,and be able to conquer its hills, you're physically fit. Walking around town is better than a membership at 24 Hour Fitness.


When I created Impaler General's Home Page in 2001, I did it as a place to do my Buffy and Angel recaps, and commentaries about what I felt about the show. I kept it going when Firefly was launched, and even through Dollhouse. I dedicated sections to my favorite conventions from Comic-Con to the legendary Flanvention, Browncoat Backup Bash, and Wolfram and Hart Revue, the original Buffy movie and even the late, lamented WB Bronze.

However, times do change. There's a ton of places where you can get the latest Whedonverse news, or get it even faster through Facebook and Twitter. Not only that, blogs are becoming the new webpages where we put our two cents worth about anything in the verse. I'm also a regular contributor to the Whedonopolis news site.

So, I have had to make some changes to the old home webpage. It used to be my home. Now, like most old real homes, I've changed mine into a museum. It will still be there as a place where I dedicate memories of classic cons. It will still have links to my blogs and Twitter.

It also brings up an interesting question: what's easier to have, a blog or a website? Well, I guess it also depends on the needs of the average fan. While fans want everything from pictures to news links and testimonials about their favorites, I am a reporter and commentator. Thus, blogs are better for me.

That being said, I just hate to get rid of my best memories, from Summer Glau saying I looked great being dressed as Simon in the Serenity movie premiere to my first Whedon con where I was pressed into being a temporary MC...and also talking to David Fury about those puppets from the Angel episode "Smile Time".

So, for all the latest rants, pleas come to this blog or The JW Network, or Whedonopolis under my impaler general byline. They'll still be going strong. I should be done with the conversion just before the NFL season starts.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Rifftrax: "What About Juvenile Delinquency?" Revisited

Nearly two years ago, Cinematic Titanic revisited an MST3K classic, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. As any hard-core fan would do, I reviewed it and compared it with the original version on this blog.

Now Rifftrax has taken a second look as a classic short called "What About Juvenile Delinquency?" That was the short before "The Atomic Brain". It's been nearly 15 years, and the Rifftrax crew thought it needed some refreshing. That means getting rid of a few dated jokes, and putting the emphasis on something else. For example, in the MST version, Mike Nelson starts off with "What About Juvenile Delinquency? That's a viable career option." In the Rifftrax version, he emphasizes the name of the film series, "Discussion Problems in Group Living." To be honest, that's not as much fun.

I decided to take a few pieces to compare the riffing. First, the gang waits for their ride.

MST3K: (Crow) The Martin Milner Gang (Servo on the logo) Oh, they're so klandikto (callback to "Clash of the Moons")
Rifftrax: (Mike on the logo) It's the Fearsome Electric Fried Egg Gang.

Then they decide to beat up a bald headed guy who's driving too slow

MST3K: (Mike) When good natured ribbing goes too far
Rifftrax: (Mike) Don't hurt me! I've got Mitch Miller tickets

Followed by the picture of the driver, who is really Jamie's dad. Jamie's with the gang, by the way.

MST3K: (Crow as Jamie's mom) Oh, Willard Scott, I'll gently polish you
Rifftrax: (Bill) His high school graduation photo

When the gang goes to the dry cleaners or the H&R Block place, depending of your version, Jamie hears about how his friends clobbered a big bald headed guy in a yellow Buick. They wonder why Jamie is so interested.

MST3K: (Mike) Just trying to draw you out. Want some fries?
Rifftrax: (Mike) Because your story was a little flat. I think the kind of car he drove really helps paints a vivid picture.

Jamie comes home to find his wounded dad. He asks mom how he is

MST3K: (Crow) He's kind of rubbery
Rifftrax: (Kevin) I've given him three intravenous chuck roasts.

When Jamie meets the gang the next day at school, they urge him to come back to the club or else. While MST talks about how they tell Jamie they can beat up their other dads, Rifftrax talks about "nobody leaves our club...except for the guy who did last week"
Then the football captain, student body president and senior class president talk to Jamie about the city council meeting, and how they'll ban everything to protect the city from the wild teens. While MST was afraid of the student body president's face, the Rifftrax crew seems to be scared of him and the football guy speaking up close.
Then the class president says "They'll listen to you Jamie, because it was your dad who...."

MST3K: (Crow) Awkward....
Rifftrax: (Kevin) made a pass at me at the wrestling meet.

The mean gang is about to stop them from going to city hall, when the oldest teacher in school walks by. The gang is intimidated for some reason

MST3K: (Mike) It's Martha Graham. Run!
Rifftrax: (Mike) Cheese it. It's Orville Redenbacher

Then the final scene when the mayor asks Jamie and his friends what they can do to fight juvenile delinquency..

MST3K: (Mike) They called our bluff. What do we do?
Rifftrax: (Mike) uh...put a pop machine in the lunch room? I don't know!

I prefer the MST version better, only because the Rifftrax version had too much riffing. On the other hand, you could hear a bit more of the story, such as it is.

This brings up an interesting question...what other shorts or movies should Rifftrax re-riff? Mr. B Natural? Junior Rodeo Daredevils? Gamera? Manos (despite what Mike's wife thinks about that movie)? Maybe the final episode of Undersea Kingdom, or even Eegah?

It may not be necessary for Rifftrax or Cinematic Titanic to recycle past MST3K shows, since there are plenty of lousy reboots and cheesy dramas to attack...not to mention really bad monster movies from the Philippines. But, maybe, they could.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Way Overdue Comic-Con Entry About Expendables and RED

I know this is two weeks late, but it's also relevant since one of the movies I will rant about is coming next week.
As I said before, the worst thing about Comic-Con is that people are spending more time standing in line for panels they wind up missing. That's why we should thank God for YouTube, which allows us to see the moments we missed.

However, I did see three movie panels from Hall H. This included Angelina Jolie plugging her new movie, Salt.

This is Salt

I was more interested in The Expendables, the manly movie that will kick Julia Roberts' That goes for Scott Pilgrim, too.
Sure, those guys will pick up their fans, but who could possibly resist a movie with the most famous action stars under one roof?
Here are some of my favorite pictures from that panel.

Ready for business

Stallone ready for business

Hey, man!

Gets a hug from Bruce Willis, who was part of the RED panel, while Dolph Lungren looks on

Mt. Rushmore of Kick-Ass

Mount Rushmore of Kick-Ass, with Stallone, Lungren and Randy Couture...and a bit of Stone Cold Steve Austin

How many times he clobbered Stallone

To be fair, here's all of Stone Cold

To be honest, I am more interested in RED, coming in October. Seeing Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman kicking butt at their age is one reason, but this will get people to the movie:

Pistol-Packing Queen

This woman with a machine gun in one hand, and a tea cup in the other.
Of course, after Helen Mirren pulls this off, Meryl Streep will have to be in a movie where she's tossing hand grades right and left...and she'll probably make sure that happens.

The Queen with the Bruce

Seeing Helen with Bruce Willis will be great, too, but imagine John Malkovich with as the NRA with legs. He wasn't at Comic-Con, but it's something to anticipate.

Shhh, that's really Nancy Botwin

Let's not forget Mary Louise Parker, who's a low-level CIA employee who sides with RED after figuring out that killing ex-agents considered too old to fight back is just wrong. It also doesn't work.

Warren Ellis, who wrote the original comic book series, was also there. He admitted that he did this for the money, which is why the movie is very different than the original comics. Still, it's because this man wanted to fill his wallet that we'll see The Talented Mr. Ripley turn bad guys into hamburger, and The Queen into Dame Rambo.
Come to think of it, could Diana Rigg be just as deadly as Grandma Emma Peel? Someone will ask her after this movie opens...and makes a pile of dough.

State Fair: Weird Al Comes To Town

Weird Al Yankovic, who can mock music like no one else, has been a staple at the California State Fair. For the first time, though, he wrapped up the fair...which means I could go.
It was a good show, with a mix of original spoofs and the usual parodies. Thing is, my camera battery chose that time to be on its last legs. What I got is still pretty good.

More Weird Al

It's the Lady Gaga/Ke$ha Polka

Oldie But Goodie

Al Yankovic, Lounge Lizard

This last one was really a stunner. I've seen him as an Amish guy, Kurt Cobain, and Devo, but never like this! This is why he's a Grammy award winner, and still a fave in the music industry.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cinematic Titanic in San Francisco: It's Better Than Hippies

Castro Organist Plays Before CT Crew

Well, Dave "Gruber" Allen said so, but he was probably joking.
Still, it's no joke that the Cinematic Titanic crew, one of the two major Faiths For Protesting Against Bad Movies In A Jovial Way (Rifftrax being the other), has an intense following in San Francisco. They just had their third visit to the Bay Area this past Tuesday, and second time at the Castro this year.

Cinematic Titanic in Town

Some fans had CT t-shirts, but I think I saw a guy wearing a green furry jacket, as if he was Big Daddy Clayton Forrester.
And there's this guy....

The Gizmonic Guy That Didn't Get Launched Into Space

He's in bliss wearing the Gizmonic uniform.

They had the basic opening act from crazy haikus from J. Elvis Weinstein and DVD's Frank Coniff's Convoluted Man, but had some interesting additions. Allen did a cool rap to introduce J. Elvis' rendition of "Year of the Cat," while DVD's Frank suggested that the movie version of Mamma Mia shouldn't have a sing-a-long version as Grease just did. What he did suggest...well, it's a bit more dark. He may repeat the joke, which is why I won't say it. Actually, what he suggested would be more appropriate for Glitter, Step Up 3-D, or even the Hannah Montana movie.

Now, the target for that night: it's called War of the Insects, but it was originally called Genocide. It's supposed to be a monster movie about how insects are killing people at a remote island. Cool, huh? Mothra-sized bees eating people?
Uh, no. Actually, it starts as a wartime drama where some Japanese guy named George cheats on his pregnant wife with a blond while the Army is looking for a missing H-bomb after one of its planes crashed. Also, a Black Air Force guy named Charlie freaks out after seeing a bee outside the plane, just before a few thousand more insects force the plane to crash. Oh, and George is charged with murder because he tries to sell a watch from one of the pilots.

After that, we get to see these characters interact aimlessly, even including the blond flirting with a Japanese doctor who's interested in the insects on the island. Suddenly, the action ramps up when we see the local insects sting two Air Force guys to death, while Charlie laughs uncontrollably while firing a pistol and molesting the pregnant wife.
Then we find out the blond has something to do with the insects attacking humans. Something about insects upset that man is destroyng itself with these H-bombs. Even the ending is creepy.

So, how does the CT crew react to a Japanese movie that makes them wish it was a Sandy Frank production? Well, they welcome the movie's first image of a bomb exploding with the words, "Sarah Palin's first day as president" (which is actually familiar if you change the name to Dan Quayle). At one point Joel Hodgson wished that Gamera suddenly came to attack anything. We get jokes about Dollhouse, Flavor Flav, Monty Python and LSD. At one point, two local hoodlums try to find the George, and Frank says "Crockett and Tubbs, Miami Rice".
Two jokes stick out in my mind. When the Doctor's nurse says "I don't understand", Trace Beaulieu says "Who likes Glee?" The other one was when the doctor carries a cross for Charlie's grave, Joel asks "there are vampires, too?"
As for the creepy and bleak ending, J. Elvis sings Tomorrow like you've never heard it before. Of course, the sell-out crowd enjoyed every minute of it. I think it was even better than the "Danger on Tiki Island" show a few months ago.

Afterward, the crew stuck around for autographs. Since I have lots of their autographs already, I just talked to them. I told Frank I noticed they were using iPads for their scripts, and he said it wasn't a big deal. He's right, since TV stations are starting to replace scripts with iPads. I asked J. Elvis about future DVD plans, and he said that was up in the air. Personally, I wished they'd go back to the time tube with War of the Insects, since its end-of-the-worlds message would be appropriate. They can also claim the live tour is paying for the shadowy group's plan. The only other "new" movie that's part of the tour is Samson and the Seven Miracles, from the old East European school of fantasy that produced The Day The Earth Froze.
And..I got a new photo with Joel...

Me and Joel

Finally, I thanked Ron DeGroot for getting me a guest ticket for this, after I had that entry for the "what happened to Pearl?" contest on another MST site. He assured me the CT and Rifftrax groups truly support each other. That stoked my hopes that we'd have a super-riff doubleheader as the entire MSTverse takes on Eclipse and Jonah Hex..or maybe a Godzilla movie that was never released here.

For now, I'll be waiting for my next Rifftrax DVDs, and also watch Star Trek 2009, fully riffed. I'd never bother with the Twilight movies unless I got those movies at gunpoint.

Monday, July 26, 2010

OK, after Kate Bennett throws Richard Castle to jail....

Fans of Castle may already know that he'll start season three as a murder suspect. It goes without saying he'll clear his name and will probably figure out who did it before the cops do. Still, the damage will be done: he'll have serious trust issues with Kate Bennett for years. After all, if she's eager to arrest him for anything, it's obvious he thinks he'll never be good enough for her. Any sexual fantasies he's got for her will wind up in his books. She may even arrest him for that, too.

Also, he'll be busy with a movie adaptation, Alexis dating and a serial killer Kate can't catch. They won't have any time for failing to connect romantically.
As a veteran of past romance shows where the male and female leads try to connect, but do a terrible job at it (from Cheers to Moonlighting), I suspect Castle is stuck in this track, It's not like Friends, where Ross did win Rachel after all, The Closer, where Brenda Johnson did marry her beau, or The Office's Jim and Pam.

That being said, what can we expect on Castle for the next five years?
First, I'm guessing when Kate does corner the serial killer that will taunt them all season, the killer may be about to kill her. Then Castle saves her, and she gets mad at him because he never stays in the police car after telling him to. However, Castle gets shot with a serious wound. He recovers, but she's so mad she doesn't visit him at the hospital.

The experience inspires him to write a third book where Nikki (Kate) and Jamison Rook (Castle) battle a serial killer. The only difference: Jamison is also shot, but dies. This would serve two purposes: it means a lonely life for Nikki Heat for another book or two, and it forces Castle to stop living out his sexual fantasies in his books.
The book is well-received, but fans are upset Jamison is dead. They eventually get over it when Castle explains he's just aiming the Nikki Heat series towards a new direction. He does think about a Jamison Rook prequel, but doesn't mention it.
However, a really crazy fan expresses her anger over losing Rook. She kidnaps.....Kate Bennett, thinking that Kate told Castle to kill Jamison because everyone thinks those scenes are really her and Castle. The fan demands that Kate confess this, or at least admit she loves Castle, but just can't tell him because she doesn't think it would work out. Surprisingly, Kate does just that, or just enough. Kate's rescued, and she asks Castle why he killed Jamison. He repeats the "new directions" explanation, and that is that. The fan sees this, and starts to think she kidnapped the wrong person.

So, when will Kate figure out the truth? I am guessing another obsessive fan will approach her, but only to ask Kate if Castle killed Jamison because he doesn't think he's good enough for her. Kate asks this other woman if that means it's her fault, and the other fan backs off. Still, Kate thinks she's got to confess her feelings, but never does because of another case or something.

After that, well, maybe Castle will once again save Kate when she doesn't want him to, and that finally does it. The producers should realize that if you take too long in pairing up Kate and Rick, the fans will get bored, if not upset, about it.
After all, if they want to see a pretty couple exchange banter but never have sex because they don't want to try, they can watch Bones. If Hawaii 5-0 gets much more successful against Castle, Nathan Fillion may have to rethink his comments on G4 about why Kate and Rick should never get together.
Two words, Captain....The Closer. And besides, Wash and Zoe were interesting as a well-armed married couple....

UPDATE: Just had to admit that I was right that someone wound up getting shot at the end of season three...and it was Kate. Not only that, it was Castle who said those magic words. I will not guess about what will happen next until the ComicCon panel on the show. Of course, I'll be 99 percent wrong...but what I speculated could have happened..maybe. Except I'm not part of the show's writing staff, so what do I know?

Heading Back to Sacramento

Well, another Comic-Con has come and gone.
The good news is I met Patten Oswalt, attended my first Hollywood party, kind of, talked to the Guild about that Bollywood video, and already wrote four reports for Whedonopolis. I will later predict what will happen on Castle for the next five years. It will NOT include Kate and Rick having sex for real (but only in the books he writes).
Again, for all the economic power this convention produces, I think it's now too big for San Diego. People will get more out of the con through YouTube than any other way now. The lines are getting longer and longer while the space only expanded a little. Adding the Marriott and the Hilton Bayfront may help, but as Tom Petty once said, "the waiting is the hardest part." It also robs you of having some time to buy stuff. I only got a replacement plug for my iPod Touch, two Doctor Who tote bags made out of billboards (one will be sold on ebay), and three comic books (two that got autographed).
The enjoyment of the panel I did wind up seeing, from Joss and JJ, The Expendables, The Guild and Castle, does make it worth while. It's just that people may decide the only way to really enjoy Comic-Con is through what they can see from another guy's Flip Video Camera. If you don't believe me, see how many clips you can find of Conan O'Brien's recent tour on YouTube.
Marsia Powers, who works with me at Whedononpolis, says she's heard from professionals who also also sick of the lines and crowds. She thinks Comic-Con should lower the number of attendees to 100 thousand and raise prices. That's unlikely, but may be better than turning the rooms into large sardine cans...or places where people fight each other over chairs.

Still, some are keeping the faith. I saw this just after the last event ended...

Captain America..and his skunk?

Some are not going to let go of Comic-Con without a fight. We will know for sure soon. I agree with Captain America that Anaheim wouldn't work because the only downtown that's there is part of Disneyland. If downtown L-A had a Vons or Trader Joe's, then the decision would be over. You can also use the Metro Rail, too.

So, I will be back in 2011, working laptop and all. I just wish the organizers would turn up the wi-fi so you can do live blogging, even in Hall H or the Hilton Bayfront Indigo Ballroom. They should also set aside space for press if they ask. The real issue, though, is where will Comic-Con be in 2013, and whether fans decide it's better to see it on the Internet.
Otherwise, they'll be on-line...and I mean the line that never moves outside Hall H.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Am I getting too old for Comic-Con?

Maybe, or maybe it's getting too bad for San Diego.
Two days, and I spent most of those days on line.
Sure, the end result was worth it: seeing Joss and JJ Abrams, then Joss alone. Seeing Angelina Jolie. Seeing Helen Mirren blow people away with big guns. Seeing the Mount Rushmore of Kick-Ass. Riding in the Black Beauty.
only one thing: it's getting to the point where an attendee has to choose between missing several panels to see one big panel, usually at Hall H, or spend all day in line to miss a chance at buying cool stuff. Either buy stuff or stay in line.
That's not right.
Maybe it will get to a point where it'll be easier to see Comic-Con on pay-per-view than going there live. Imagine it: the Hall H Channel or Ballroom 20 channel, shopping on-line instead of being on the floor. It'll get to that.
Of course, it would be easier if those with press passes sign up for specific panels to be guaranteed a seat...if they have just cause. That would make things easier.
But for the average fan, not so much.

If I am asked to return for Whedonopolis, I would. I just wish Comic-Con would give priority access for the press if they sign up. Hey, that's why there are fast passes at Disneyland.

Well, if I do manage to get a major get tomorrow, it will be worth it. At least my laptop works. Too bad the wi-fi in the main building is hit and miss. They should flood the place, including the rooms, with wi-fi. Relying on specific hotspots just doesn't work.

So, for today, it's off to the new Hilton for the Guild. After that, I'll have to miss the Marvel event. I'll bet to accommodate everyone, they'd have to use Petco Park. If only they could.

If I finally win one of those autograph drawings from Dark Horse, that would also make up for the past two days. Doubt it, though.
I will have full reports Sunday night after I finally give the Westin 15 bucks for internet

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Dream Is Over...for local sports bars

The 2-1 loss by the U-S to Ghana in World Cup 2010 is bad news for local sports bars. Seeing England and Mexico lose over the weekend doesn't help either. Still, we can expect some local bars to offer World Cup action through the next two weeks for soccer fans, or those who are looking for a place to cool off.

This past weekend, I decided to visit three different places to compare how they celebrate the World Cup, after two games at the Streets of London Pub. Before I get to that, I noticed something else.
It's starting to bother American sports fans that our soccer team lost to Ghana in extra time, 2-1.
They're concerned that we let the other team score first, and we had to make a comeback in all four games of the tournament.
They wonder if the team will get better for 2014 because our top players are getting old, and maybe we need a new coach by then. They want changes to be made so that we'll finally be at the level of Europe and Brazil.
In other words, the USA finally cares abut soccer.
Not quite as much as Arena Football, but we care now. We're almost England, or maybe Nigeria.
Remember, we really didn't care about soccer until England 1966, followed by two pro leagues and even TV coverage. Pele helped in the '70s, but not enough to give soccer a foothold. After all, most countries have soccer as their only major sport, with nothing to compete. They're the ones who do the best in soccer. In America, four sports, celebrity ballroom dancing, and the Olympics get our attention before soccer does.
Univision and Cable TV have changed all that. So have Twitter and Facebook, which can spread opinions faster than the angriest tabloid newspaper.

So, we'll look forward to who wins the Cup this year. Lost of interesting possibilities are coming, like maybe a Brazil-Uruguay semifinal that's 60 years of revenge in the making, or maybe an outsider making the final four like a Japan or Ghana. If Brazil does win it all, it has a chance to repeat while hosting the Cup four years from now. Sounds almost automatic, doesn't it?
For Brazil, sure. France and Argentina pulled it off, but it's not easy.

So, let's get to my tour of sports bars hosting World Cup viewing parties:

World Cup Fever at Devere's

Concerned USA fans

I saw the first half of USA-Ghana at DeVere's, an Irish pub in midtown. It's much bigger than the Streets of London, but the crowd wasn't in the mood to chant or shout. Since Ghana scored the first goal, and the U-S was desperate to score, that made sense.

Wearing USA bunting

Then I walked over th the MVP Sports Bar, which moved a few blocks to 21st street. These guys were much louder and spirited. Some wore bunting which is similar to the flag, but is more commonly seen as decorations for baseball games. They also had chants like "America, F*ck yeah" and "Ghana-rhea"

Happy fans

The crowd was really pumped when the score was tied. When Ghana got the goal early in extra time, the mood was much different.

The end of the magic

I was surprised how excited the crowd was for this. As I left I saw someone in the men's room baning on the wall, angry about how we lost. One other fan said he was glad he's Mexican. He still had that team to root for, as they prepared for Argentina the next day.

For that game, I went to Zocolo's, a Mexican restaurant located at the site of a former car dealership. It's quite fancy, but was filled with Mexican fans and a sprinkling of Argentine supporters.

This ain't a small pub

Just Wanna Bang On My Drum All Day

Once Mexico lost, this gal had the last laugh.

Doing the Maradona twist

She was joined by two other fans, and a woman who waved a small Peru flag.

So, I will settle for watching the rest of the Cup at home, until the final on July 11th. I'll go back to Zocolo's because they promise a lot of hoopla plus samba dancers. I guess they've already decided who will reach the final.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

World Cup Fever Is Real In Sacramento

As I'm typing this, I am recording the USA-Algeria game from yesterday on a DVD. I want to have a keepsake of the USA team's wild ride to round two...and hopefully beyond.

I think World Cup fever is real because it led me to do something I have never done before....postpone by bedtime by four hours to see history. I could have went to bed and taped the game, but this was important. We had to win to get to round two, and wipe away the bad memories of Germany 2006.
After all, the world is starting to accept the fact the US is truly a soccer nation, or at least one that accepts its existence. Even with the 1950 upset over England, the US didn't care about soccer because Mickey Mantle, Jim Brown and Bill Russell's exploits distracted us. Oh, and hockey with Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe. That alone kept Canada's interest away.

We didn't start caring until 1967 when England's win inspired a pro soccer league that didn't catch on. Pele comes in, and that gives US soccer more attention. Without enough home-grown stars, or even playing in the World Cup, that didn't work for long. It wasn't until qualifying for Italy 1990 (and getting clobbered) and hosting USA 1994 that soccer proved it's here to stay. Getting more opportunities to see soccer anytime though cable TV sure helps, too.

So now we are at the Streets of London Pub, two blocks from my house, where USA and England fans gather to see their heroes get to the sweet 16.

Take your choice

USA fans enjoy the big screen, while England fans make do with the smaller but brighter flat screens. It's almost like picture-in-picture.
I did have a picture of fans celebrating the USA's goal in the first half, but that was disallowed. I had to delete it.

With the US staying scoreless while England scored a goal against Slovenia, the fans got worried, including this guy....

Wrapping the flag

At this point, I was hoping Slovenia would tie England, and put the US back on the road to round two. Of course, the US could do it themselves with a goal, but bad aim and even worse referees was making that unlikely.
Some still hoped...

Let's Go, USA!

but past 90 minutes, it looked bad.
Until...Landon Donovan saves the day. I can't embed this wideo, so here's a link to the game, including his goal in the 91st minute.

The reaction from Sacramento....


and that's it!

and Mr. Flag Guy...

Happy fan

I was even interviewed by KCRA, but any video proof of that interview is nowhere to be found. Since I am a radio guy, that's fine.
So, what now? I will try another soccer bar when I see the game against Ghana Saturday. There's an Irish bar nearby, which was featured in KFBK's coverage of "people watching soccer and drinking Guinness before work". I will see how they celebrate the game.
Sunday should be even better. Mexico plays Argentina, and there's a restaurant that's located on the site of an old auto dealership. It includes a mariachi band, so watching soccer there will be a much different experience. I'll be careful to wear a Mexican jersey in order to be welcome.
From there, who knows? I just don't think a sports bar is the best place to see a World Cup match. A small bar, out of the way, filled with jerseys and scarfs is much better. Once NFL pre-season starts, then you need a sporta bar.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

New from Cinematic Titanic: "Danger on Tiki Island"

There seems to be a split on whether the Cinematic Titanic crew should stick to live shows, or go back to the traditional route where they have to riff on movies for future generations because of some electron scaffolding or other. For all we know, some ex-Gizmonic employees are trapping Joel and the gang because they feel threatened by a group who they think will destroy life as we know if....RIFFTRAX!!
I just dare them to come out and say that.

That being said, the latest live DVD, Danger on Tiki Island, is now available. Once again, this is from their Largo Theater performances in Los Angeles. We'll try to describe the plot while tossing out a few choice riffs from the show:

A handsome Peace Corps volunteer is joined by Dr. Henderson and her undersexed wife on a trip to a tropic isle. While the natives look at their new visitors ("Native #2, he's got an Igloo cooler"), the doc wants to examine how nearby atomic bomb testing has affected the area ("This guy's like Bob Goulet after a Grand Slam Breakfast"). She wishes the doc would examine her in fairly obscene ways, The Peace Corps guy just wants to help the natives.
Anyway, they soon find out the natives have reverted to primitive ways. They have a Shirley Jackson lottery to choose who will be sacrificed to the forest monster who is now their god ("Sigmund the Sea Monster, NOOOO!"). Peace Corps guy falls for one of the natives named Alla, and we see a mysterious rich guy called Estaban ("Juan Stamos?"), complete with mysterious accent. He lives in a mansion run by very small natives who care often compared to Oompa-Loompas.

There's plenty of walking scenes, with the only excitement coming from the trees who sometimes attack passers-by with their branches ("I'm sorry I forgot Arbor Day")...then turn back into normal trees suddenly. Once one of the trees get violent, the tribe decides more sacrifices, and this time Alla's chosen. Peace Corps guy objects, and he takes her away. He goes to Esteban's mansion, where the doc and horny wife are staying.

Later that night, the doc's wife is unable to arouse him ("Is he playing dead or playing gay?"). She tries to seduce Esteban while he's sleeping, but his manservant Goro interrupts her. She tries again the next night, but gets lost in the violent forest. She then meets the monster, who's basically a pickle mascot gone horribly wrong. Let's just say her wishes do come true but in a horrible way ("Oh, she's thinking about it").

The doc gets Peace Corps guy to help him find his wife, but Goro battles the doc in a terrible fight scene that's more like Tom DeLay's performance in Dancing With the Stars.
This, of course, leads to the final battle, and the slightly shocking truth about the monster. Joel, of course, gives the perfect description of this movie: Roger Corman's South Pacific.

There are flubs, especially from Frank, but having the CT crew riff live makes it more real. We wish these guys would be included in showings of lousy movies, with them giving their comments from the wings. Imagine what they could do to the Twilight movies or Jonah Hex....or 99.999999999999 percent of romantic movies. While we may have another studio DVD in the future, having these guys live would be great, too. The Rifftrax guys are already seeing how live shows can work, thanks to their special theater shows in the past year which are also available on DVD (especially the Christmas show from 2009).

The DVD also has interviews with the crew, who say nice things about each other, and why they're back in the movie riffing game. We learn TV's Frank is quite a show biz expert, and has an interesting fan base. Of course, we also hear from the fans who can't get enough of watching bad movies get humiliated...and we never will.

A couple of years ago, everyone from MST3K got together for a special panel on the show at Comic-Con. We should have it again. We could have a riffing rumble, but I'm not sure if the CT crew would be the Sharks or the Jets. Then again, we could have a rumble where the CT's are the Torgos and the Rifftrax guys be the Krankors or Brain Guys. Now THAT should be shown in theaters across the country.

Until then, the CT live tour continues with shows in Ann Arbor, San Francisco and Los Angeles..and even more stops well into next Spring. I think the next target is a Japanese movie called War of the Insects. At least Sandy Frank didn't give us this movie.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Cup Fever At A Sacramento Pub

The whole world in taking the next 30 days off to see what they think is the most important sporting event, the World Cup in South Africa.

Normally, we Americans wouldn't care about soccer. Any sport that forbids using your hands and scoring six points at a time is not a sport. Two "distinguished" commentators called soccer a "women's sport" and barbaric because it was invented by South American Indians who used a human head as the ball.
Then again, some people think basketball's origins can be traced back to a Mayan game where teams had to put a ball through a hoop...and the losers are killed. That was even pointed out in an NBC sports NCAA broadcast in the 1970s. It's no more outrageous than what these "experts" think about soccer.

Some Congressmen have shown their patriotism by not having any idea what the World Cup is. I read a story in Fox News Radio where one member hoped North Korea wouldn't wind up winning the whole thing. Sure, it beat Italy 44 years ago, but that's as close as it got.

Anyway, to all you haters...

Starting the rebellion

More soccer fans

So who is HE with?

Soccer is an American game. It may not compete with the eternal battle between a Celtic and a Laker, but soccer is part of this country. We've been in the World Cup for 20 years after a long drought from the 50s to the 80s, but we matter. Besides, you can see soccer from several countries if you can handle the cable bill...or the beer tab, if you prefer seeing it at a bar.

I went to Streets of London Pub to see USA-England. It was the first time I saw the World Cup there since 2002 when the US was a goal short of reaching the semi-finals.
It was loud and crowded, with face paint and beer. Pitchers sold as quickly as pints there. And there was this...

One scary England fan

I couldn't get the red-eye out of this picture, and I think it expresses how he felt about his team.

Also, my camera almost didn't survive this game. As Clint Dempsey scored the tying goal, I tried to get a picture. Someone knocked the camera from my hand, and it looks like it was broken. Thankfully, it wasn't, and at least I got this response of people seeing the replay...

Reaction to US tying game

I think people were relieved it ended in a tie. Now both England and the US will be under pressure to win over Algeria and Slovenia by 7-0 margins to get to the next round.
If the US gets to the quarterfinals, I may consider going to another pub to see the game. Going to Pyramid Ale or a sports pub wouldn't be as authentic.

Soon, I will be at Raley Field to see an MLS exhibition between San Jose and Chivas USA. It should be interesting what type of crowd will be coming. They had Mexican league teams play before to sellout crowds. Tonight shouldn't be any different. It'll be almost like being in a World Cup game.