Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Double dumbstruck

September 11, 2022

Gassing up for the long commute.

“This heat’s not good for the brain. Turns out nothing much is good for the brain in the 2020s. TV rots it, the Internet turns it to jelly, the miserable climate bakes it, 90 percent of what we call ‘work’ is deliberately designed to actually erase the human brain; this has been proven. Podcasts: Now there’s a guaranteed way to reverse years of book-learning and social skills. There’s online gambling, TikTok … and then Queen Elizabeth II passed away and it was like a Bat-Signal in the sky to make everybody go extra double-dumb. … Only in Ireland did they seem to sort of be enjoying it all.” — Ken Layne, “Like a Hurricane,” Desert Oracle Radio

You said a mouthful, brother.

The news has been so relentlessly grotesque that I found myself double-dumbstruck, which is to say rendered speechless by astonishment while simultaneously catching a puck in the gob from a wildly flailing eejit.

The prospect of commenting on any of our ongoing Dumpster fires felt like pissing into the drinking water in Jackson, Mississippi — an enhancement, to be sure, but not a solution any sane person would swallow.

So I kept it zipped. Averted my eyes. Instead I watched the hummingbirds mobbing our feeders; the little buzzbombs will be leaving us shortly. Played with Miss Mia Sopaipilla, who remains extraordinarily kittenish for a 15-year-old cat. Rode the bike(s) — 130 miles last week, 140 this week.

With “Better Call Saul” in the rear view we branched out a bit in our evening TV-watching. I can recommend “Letterkenny,” (absurdly funny Canadians); “This Fool” (snarky South Central working-class vatos); “Belfast” (The Troubles through a child’s eyes); and “The Sandman,” derived, like “Watchmen,” from a high-gloss DC comic of which I had been ignorant.

• Honorable mention: “Funny Pages,” a bent coming-of-age story about a teenage cartoonist who gets an up-close-and-personal look at the subterranean bits of “underground comics.” Could be straight out of “Zap,” “Bijou,” or pretty much any other comic you read back when weed was still illegal. And yes, Your Humble Narrator recognized more than a few unsavory aspects of himself in this film.

What about literature, you ask? Check out a couple road-trippers on the ragged edge: the cabbie Lou in Lee Durkee’s “The Last Taxi Driver,” and the shaggy mercenary Will Bear in Dan Chaon’s “Sleepwalk.”

• Honorable mentions: “Night of the Living Rez” by Morgan Talty (his first book; dark tales of a Native community in Maine) and “Homesickness” by Colin Barrett (his second; darkly funny tales of the Irish at home and abroad).

If none of these diversions from the daily disaster does the trick for you, find a hummingbird to watch or a cat to play with.

Bats, man

August 9, 2022

“Uh, sorry, Batgirl. Misdial. We were trying to reach The Taxman.”

“Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.” — U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, speaking at a U.N. conference on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Oh, good. I’ve often wondered what it would take to put an end to the proliferation of dumbass superhero movies. A global thermonuclear holocaust might just get ’er done.

Or maybe we just need the right supervillain.

It wasn’t the Joker, the Penguin, or the Riddler who croaked “Batgirl” in her crib. No, the killer was the Green Eyeshade at Warner Bros-Discovery-HBO Max p/b AT&T, who discovered — with tens of millions already pounded down this particular Bat-hole — that writing off a made-for-streaming Bat-flick on the conglomerate’s Bat-taxes would not be at all, well … batty.

Industry insiders cite two changes between concept and execution. The first, in ownership, makes this one-time “purchase accounting maneuver” possible, as long as the movie is never released in any way, shape, or form; and the second, in strategy, aims to once again give theaters a head start over streaming as in days of yore.

With a budget made for television, “Batgirl” apparently began life as a B movie in more ways than one. But it can’t be a net positive when the entertainment press is quoting sources as saying that “the film tested once, and the result wasn’t that bad. …”

Too bad for TV? Have these people seen TV?

But when studio CEO David Zaslav tells investors in a second-quarter corporate earnings call, “We’re not going to put a movie out unless we believe in it. And that’s it,” well … piss on the fire and call in the bats, son. If a cameo from Michael Keaton can’t save you, you’re fucked.

Speaking of fucked, how many of you have bomb shelters? Raise your hands … yes, you there, crouched under your desks as if we were all reliving Those Fabulous Sixties.

Which we very well may be, if you listen to the U.N. secretary-general.

“The clouds that parted following the end of the Cold War are gathering once more,” Guterres warned in his remarks to the 10th Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

“We have been extraordinarily lucky so far. But luck is not a strategy. … Eliminating nuclear weapons is the only guarantee they will never be used.”

Yeah, well, good luck with that, Tony ol’ tiger. We can’t even cut back on “Spider-Man” movies.

While we’re debating whether “The Sandman” is true to Neil Gaiman’s original vision, you can bet your Batarang that some miscreant is trying to steal a tactical nuclear weapon from the Russkies, hoping to vaporize a hospital full of nuns, widder women, and crippled children in Ukraine, and then sit back and watch the fun.

The subsequent tit for tat as old scores get settled would quickly strip the planet of its tits, and also its tats. Anyone who can swing a bat (har de har har) will be stepping up to the plate, and the game will not be called on account of accountancy. Not even Michael Keaton can save us.

The good news is, this will make for some spectacular TV. The bad news? It will be on every channel at once. Welcome to Fyou Island, folks.

Not everyone will get voted off the isle, of course. There will be survivors, in remote spots like Tierra del Fuego. And people being what they are, some bored techie-turned-sheepherder in the former factory town of Rio Grande will eventually link one of the locally produced netbooks, powered by a solar panel, to the scattered strands of the once-mighty Internet.

Of an evening, weary of sheep, he will follow this thread, and then that one, and who knows? He might even unearth the digital archives of Warner Bros-Discovery-HBO Max p/b AT&T, buried deep beneath the glowing remains of Tinseltown in a blastproof vault.

Maybe he stumbles across that unfinished “Batgirl” movie, with its Latina star, and watches it.

“Hijo de la chingada,” he will mutter to himself. “This sucks.”

Pup fiction

October 21, 2020

Anxiety dreams last night: I was walking the earth, like Caine in “Kung Fu,” hoofing it from place to place, meeting people, and getting in adventures.

And everywhere I went nobody was wearing a mask.

I was outraged, weaving through the shambling hordes of brain-dead booger-bags as though they were zombie cowboys bent on nativist misbehavior, until I realized that I was likewise unmasked, with my ugly mug hanging out in the wind.

No doubt any competent brain mechanic could make sense of this. I’m guessing it means that deep down I think we’re all in the shit together. Just another kernel panic in MeatWorld™.

Probably didn’t help that I saw a bunch of maskless wanderers on my bike ride yesterday. Or that the guv’nah gave New Mexicans another dressing-down for spreading El Buggo® like honey on a sopaipilla. We are not yet in the actual shit, she sez to us she sez, but we are certainly circling the bowl.

I’m doing my part, boss. Staying home except for grocery shopping and exercise. Washing my paws. And wearing my mask.

Whenever I’m awake, that is. Who doesn’t dream about not wearing a mask?

Wish you weren’t here

April 26, 2020

Uncomfortably dumb.

“Miley Cyrus plays Pink Floyd?”

All in all, you’re just another shtick in the mall.

 

R.I.P., Jim Lehrer

January 23, 2020

It’s -30- for Jim Lehrer, co-founder of “The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour” on PBS.

Lehrer started out as a print guy, and maybe that’s why I liked him. He worked for papers in Dallas, where he covered the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and then shifted to TV, where he and Robert MacNeil were all over the Watergate hearings. He went on to moderate a dozen presidential debates.

MacNeil praised Lehrer for his “very direct manner of interviewing” and his “extraordinary ability to listen.”

“You know the hardest thing to do on TV is listen,” he added.

Sometimes the hardest thing is to watch, especially given the motley crew of talking heads that fills screens these days. Unlike the bulk of them, Jim Lehrer will be missed. You can read his obit in The New York Times here.

R.I.P., Terry Jones

January 22, 2020

One of our family jokes is, “’Ee’s not the Messiah, ’ee’s a very naughty boy!”

That was only one of the innumerable killer lines delivered over the years by Terry Jones, who died at home Tuesday. He was 77, and had suffered from primary progressive aphasia, a cruel disease that stripped him of his marvelous powers of communication.

As a member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Jones generally wrote with Michael Palin, co-directed “Holy Grail” and “Meaning of Life” with Terry Gilliam, and flew solo as director for “Life of Brian,” which gave us that family gag we use so often.

Condolences, peace, and egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam, or Lobster Thermidor au Crevette with a Mornay sauce served in a Provençale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pâté, brandy and with a fried egg on top, and spam, to Jones, his family, the surviving Pythons (“Two down*, four to go,” notes John Cleese), and their friends and fans.

* Cleese forgot to count the Seventh Python, Neil Innes. No spam for him.

Super, heroes

December 11, 2019

“Just one more thing. …”
Photo hijacked from the Internet. So impeach me already.

So this is impeachment.

With just two counts at the moment — basically, being a dick and punking Congress — it feels a lot like a cop catching one of the FBI’s Most Wanted driving a stolen Brinks truck full of automatic weapons, fentanyl, and dead teenagers, and then warning the guy about a busted taillight and waving him on before getting back to his donut.

I’m not sure this is gonna be must-see TV for a viewing audience grown fat on “Watchmen,” “Avengers: Endgame” and “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” It’s more like Mickey Mouse.

And anyway, seriously, fuck a bunch of Batman. I think a lot of us would settle for Columbo right about now.

Channel surfing

November 12, 2019

TV or not TV? In this case, it’s definitely TV.

Any of yis care to weigh in with a recommendation for a new TV that’s not insane?

I’m hunting one for the mom-in-law, who needs it for the new digs. Nothing huge, probably a 43-incher or under, and preferably a model with easily navigated menus and a remote that doesn’t look like the dashboard of the Millennium Falcon. Just your basic Ralph Spoilsport model, a personal remote-controlled, picture-sized color TV, with matching brass knobs, the kind where you reach above the bar and press the button right there under the handy laminated imitation-masonite Wild West gun rack with the look of real wood, for the channel of your choice.

We’re dealing with the elderly and feeble-minded here, which is to say me, a guy who hasn’t set up a new TV in the better part of quite some time.

Thanks for the insurrection, and now back to our morning concert of afternoon showtime favorites — the Magic Bowl movement from Symphony in C Minus by Johann Amadeus Matetsky.

Keep on the sunny side

September 20, 2019

We’ll go honky-tonkin’ ’round this town.

Anyone besides Charlie Pierce and me digging the latest Ken Burns documentary, “Country Music,” on PBS?

I’ve watched the first three episodes and my toes have been tapping throughout.

I didn’t grow up on country music, though the old man was from Florida by way of Louisiana and mom was out of Iowa. They were into crooners like Frank Sinatra and big bands like Glenn Miller and His Orchestra.

Country got me as a hippie, of all things, when the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Flying Burrito Brothers, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, and other alt-country groups were ascendant.

Those dudes get their due in Episode 6, and I can’t wait. Yeeeeeeehawwww, etc.

The doors of perception

May 2, 2019

The’ hell is that? Jon Snow lopping the noggins off wights? The Night King riding Viserion to battle like Robert Duvall in a Huey? Melisandre lighting it up? Nope. Just Maester O’Grady taking a picture of his TV in the dark.

And now, for something completely different. …

If you thought Sunday’s epic battle between the dead and living seemed a little, well, dark, even for “Game of Thrones,” you’re not alone. But before you dash out to buy a new TV, attend ye to the wisdom of Maester Devin Coldewey at TechCrunch (h/t Jason Snell at Six Colors).

Speaking of the walking dead, Matthew Butterick (h/t John Gruber at Daring Fireballhas a few words to say over the lumbering carcasses of the typographical foot soldiers employed so far by the Democratic candidates for president. The lede? It kills:

“You cannot bore people into buying your product,” according to David Ogilvy. So true. Nevertheless, election season arrives, and radical boredom inevitably becomes the preferred strategy for most candidates. Let’s have a look at the typography anyhow.

And yes, today’s headline is drawn from William Blake via Aldous Huxley and Jim Morrison.