Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hall & Oates - Devil Worshippers

Remember when music videos were awesome?

And if that's not enough Hall and Oates for you, give 719-266-2837 a call (trust me, it's what you want) and sit back. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011: A Year in Falls

I dare you not to watch all 12 minutes of these...

Wanna Go for a Bike Ride?

This is slightly insane...

Dance Dance Evolution

I know what you're thinking...this can't get possibly better than an elderly gentleman with stylish mismatched socks and red suspenders shuffling like a mad man, but then, at the 30 second mark, shit gets real...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cool Shit

I'm a sucker for anything abandoned, so I was thrilled to see someone took eerie pictures of China's answer to Disneyland, Wonderland.

If you were a fan of Lost, I think you'll get a kick out of this. And no, it has nothing to do with the cobbled together ending.

If you have a Kindle, and have 99 cents to burn, why don't you check out the country's highest ranking private detective? Haven't gone through any of these yet, but the price seems right to take a risk...

Speaking of reading, there are few things I enjoy more. And part of that is discovering new books out there that challenge, frustrate, entertain, and satisfy me. The website The Millions is a great place to do that, especially now, with their A Year in Reading series. Check it out.

Like drawing? Like cars? Like checking out other people's drawings of cars? Well, you don't have to have such specific interests to enjoy this site, but if you do have them, I definitely recommend you check it out.

I recently finished Everyone Loves You When You're Dead, by Neil Strauss and found it to be a fascinating look into the many different personalities of popular music. Specifically:

  • Courtney Love is cheap
  • David Pirner is insecure
  • Orlando Bloom could be perceived as not the sharpest guy in the world
  • Ludacris is exactly how you'd expect
  • Bo Diddley is bitter
  • Chuck Berry is smarter than you think

And it goes on and on. A great book to pick up when you want and find out not just about these individuals, but also how fame and celebrity can affect a person.

Snow Sculptures That You Might Recognize

For Calvin and Hobbes fans everywhere...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Expendables 2 Trailer

I can't tell if I'm extremely excited for this movie, or dreading its existence. I can tell you there's no middle ground - it's all or nothing...

I've also happily included the synopsis for the film here, since it pretty much tells you the entire movie, including the ending! Bets on which Expendable dies early? My money's on Jet Li.

The Expendables are back and this time it's personal... Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Lee Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren),Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) -- with newest members Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan) aboard -- are reunited when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) enlists the Expendables to take on a seemingly simple job. The task looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his band of old-school mercenaries. But when things go wrong and one of their own is viciously killed, the Expendables are compelled to seek revenge in hostile territory where the odds are stacked against them. Hell-bent on payback, the crew cuts a swath of destruction through opposing forces, wreaking havoc and shutting down an unexpected threat in the nick of time -- six pounds of weapons-grade plutonium; enough to change the balance of power in the world. But that's nothing compared to the justice they serve against the villainous adversary who savagely murdered their brother. That is done the Expendables way....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dance Like No One's Watching

Oh sure, it's easy for you to dance like no one's watching in a public laundromat, but that's because you're an attractive woman. I try to do something like this and the next thing you know I have to keep my distance from schools.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cool Shit

A sporadic posting of things I determine pretty dang cool. It can include music, movies, websites, apparel, and even general information...

Ok, so this is more "cool that you know the information" kinda way. It's a look at how much sugar is in cereal. 2 things jumped out at me...

  1. The awesome defense that Kellog's vice president used when asked for a comment on Honey Smacks (it's down a bit in that article)
  2. Fruity Pebbles aren't in the top 10?
Next, here's a song I've loved ever since I heard it a few years ago...and I'm willing to bet you've never heard of it or its band. And if you have, bravo. Please enjoy - I'd say it's better than 88% of the current music being spun today.

I didn't watch the whole thing, but the premise alone made me want to include it here. What if the moon landing was faked by NASA, with the help of Stanly Kubrick? (Apparently this is a French "mockumentary" on the subject)

Finally, here's a site for fans of the A-Team, Simon and Simon, and every other 80s action series that included an explosion in the opening credits. I probably pushed the button 47 times already...

The Coolest Thing You Will See This Week

I want you to watch this and guess what it is trying to sell:

That's right! Shoes! In Germany. In the 70s. I was born at the wrong time.

Dogs in Cars

I'm a dog person. I know that means I'm forever in war against cat people, and by extension, the entire Internet (since we all know cat pictures rule the internet). But whatever side you're on, I think you'll enjoy this video of dogs sticking their heads out of car windows in slow motion. And if you don't, I'm sure you can find a picture of a cat doing something crazy somewhere.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Skating Through Tokyo

Yes, I know this is supposed to inspire me to buy awesome shoes or something, but that doesn't make it any less cool...

Best Christmas Card Ever

I have got to get me on the mailing list of the mayor of San Juan Puerto Rico!
For a look at the story (translated since it's in Spanish) go here)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Everything is Better in Slow Motion Part: A million

By now, I don't need to sell you on the awesomeness of slow motion...

Mesmerizing. Hypnotizing. And making me thirsty-izing.

(From Coudal)

New offering: Cool Shit

Stuff I find that I think you should know about, that aren't quite significant enough for their own post. Maybe it's a movie I saw recently, or something coming up, or a podcast that I feel deserves some attention. Too often we let things in our life slide by without recognizing what it took to make it; if I can change that even a little bit, I'll feel good.

Some of these are difficult to look at. Then you read the stories behind them and they become that much stronger. Flipping through these pictures, 2011 seems like the beginning of something. I'm not sure if that's good or bad.

Advertising for creative studies means your ads better be creative. These are.

I've grossly neglected The Talking Heads for the first 38 years of my life. I'm going to rectify that. Oh sure, I know the one with the big suit, and the Psycho Killer, but seriously that's just ignorant on my part.

Joss Whedon's The Cabin in the Woods

I'm mildly intrigued, which means I'll see this when I flip past it on cable some late night. But I know Joss Whedon has a big following, and I also like movies come out of nowhere (like this one supposedly did).

Seriously, don't you think I would look awesome in it? Ok, take my word for it, I would look awesome in it. If you guys get together and buy it for me, I promise to send you a picture of me in it doing something awesome. It's only $950. Thanks in advance.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Most Captivated Audience

We finally know the answer to the age old question:

"Do you think cows would enjoy a stripped down version of 'When the Saints Come Marching In?'"

Tremendous thanks to @calindrome who linked this via Twitter!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Walking Dead: Pretty Much Dead Already

Well, we finally got an answer to the "Where the fuck is Sophia in the land of zombies?"

And it was a doozy.

I've obviously criticized this show a bunch, so I don't want to go much further in praising the conclusion of this plot. The final scenes of this episode did a lot, both viscerally and symbolically.

But let's hold off on that for a bit...

We know (or I've stated at least) how inconsistent season 1 is. After the great premiere, it dipped into boring character development and cliches before ramping up a bit with the CDC. The ending immediately gave us fear and hope, and gave season 2 at least a destination (Fort Benning).

Unfortunately, season 2 followed the same trend. Good premiere (though I had problems with it, the payoff with Sophia was at least unexpected so I'll give back some points I took away) followed by a slow down as new characters were introduced and then had to be developed. Aside from a couple of truly harrowing moments (everything at the school, and...well, maybe you can insert your own harrowing moment in here), we have been on the same trail as season 1, right down to the barn zombies being the CDC (in thematic devices, not actual locations and conflicts).

Yet while the CDC set the survivors off on a specific mission, the resolution of the barn zombies simply created a completely new set of rules for the world they now live in, making for a much more interesting journey (hopefully).

So I'm very happy to say that I am excited for the season to pick back up in February. I absolutely assume we will still get the same problematic approach we've seen in the first two seasons, but this episode felt like a game changer. It looks like the survivors have turned the corner on "hope," and might have to simply look for "survival." Sides have been picked, and you could argue that morality is the underdog.

But let's take a closer look...

Glen tells the survivors about the barn zombies (quick aside - doesn't "barn zombies" sound so much better than "walkers in the barn?") with predictable results. the survivors, who have been out in the real world and know the dangers this implies, rightfully get a little agitated with their hosts. And yet Rick wants to be a little more diplomatic, since you know, he's going to be a dad again. And that makes sense. The farm hasn't been attacked since they've been there, and it seems it could be defended fairly well (I guess - I mean it has a fence and everything), so while I don't think he's in love with the idea of the barn zombies, he has other stuff to think about. Being a leader is tough, I tell you!

So yeah, obviously Rick has to have a talking to with Herschel. And that goes as you might expect. Herschel, bible in hand, is casting Rick and co. out and sticking to his guns, even after the pregnancy card has been played. Herschel wants his barn zombies and refuses to budge. Even after his daughter (granddaughter?) even calls him out on it, he doesn't seem to want to budge - though he does appear to have some doubt. That will come about later though.

Meanwhile, Dale notices Andrea has changed and is so totally into hunky Shane. So, while we're not sure if Dale thinks of Andrea as a daughter or a lover (seriously, the writers are doing us no favors by playing this so ambiguous), he still reaches out one more time to Andrea and tells her he has misgivings about Shane. Andrea, not wanting to hear it, tries to let Dale gently (either as a dad or boyfriend) but she still comes off as dickish. And thankfully (hopefully!) Dale kind of washes his hands of her, but not before realizing just how much power his RV wields as the holder of guns. So yeah, he totally takes them.

Darryl is around and back on his feet and wanting to go after Sophia...and I guess Carol is crushing on him a little because of his devotion to the search for her daughter, but yeah...that whole part isn't believable to me at all. It looks like they are setting Darryl up to have to make a choice down the road. One that will involve heading off with his brother or staying with the survivors, so I'll let this go right now, but I hope they handle it deftly and not how they're handling it now.

Shane, still angry that they're still looking for lost cause Sophia, and now also angry that they're not carving up the barn zombies Caligula style goes off on Rick. But Rick's got the Draw 4 card here; and he drops it on Shane. You can see Shane doing some quick calculating as Rick walks away. I actually thought this scene was pretty nifty; a lot was conveyed without words.

Shane of course goes and finds Lori, who immediately tries to cut him off at the path. But Shane, now a possible daddy, ain't hearing it. And this conversation, more than any of his other actions, is pretty much why he has become the villain of the show - because he attacks Rick...and attacks him in a conversation with his wife. Regardless of how you think of Rick as a leader, and whether Shane's decision making might be better, this conversation shows he has gone past the point of no return. Talking to Rick's wife and telling her her husband is not going to survive in this world is a hail mary for her affection. And methinks it will have larger ramifications down the road. Lori poo poos him though and tells him the baby is Rick's regardless of whose it is biologically. That sends Shane into a bit of a tizzy.

A tizzy that takes him down to the zombie barn (well, first a tizzy that takes him over to Carl, but I'm kinda sick of this kid who has matured about 15 years in the span of 3 days. SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE COMICS SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON'T WANT TO POTENTIALLY RUIN THE SHOW:

I understand Carl can possibly play a big role in the show based on what he did in the comic, and therefore it needs to be set up, but it seems like it's getting set up awfully quick. Sometimes this show moves at a glacial pace, other times it breezes through character's motives so quickly it's easy to miss (see Dale's turn on Shane). I assume they are setting up Shane to die and Carl to be a part of it, so they have to make him break the bond he and Shane have developed. But they don't have to do it in the span of half an episode. Also, I'm not really into kids acting like adults, so I'm a little bored by it all.)


Now a potential dad, Shane sees the zombie barn as more of a threat, so he's off to TCB with all the guns, except where are the guns? Not in the RV! Quickly assuming Dale stashed them somewhere (seriously, sometimes these characters make ridiculously farfetched yet accurate assumptions whenever the plot needs them to) he goes off to search for them. And either he's an absolute beast in the tracking department, or Dale is just really bad hiding things, because Shane finds him in about 6 seconds. Obviously there's a confrontation, because Dale, the wise old sage of the group has Shane pegged.

Now, I like Dale. I think he's a great character, and as I've said before, I believe he acts as the Greek chorus of the show. His observations are sharp and he is the most like the every person. So this sudden change, with him confronting Shane, seems silly. And his astute observation about what happened back at the high school with Otis didn't help the scene either. It felt necessary to move this conflict along, which suggests poor writing. I realize it has to come out, but wish we were given more clues of Dale's distrust throughout the series, and not these last two episodes. Anyway, plenty of threats are thrown between the two, but no one gets shot.

While that happened, Herschel drafted Rick into what may have been the craziest act of the show so far...zombie wrangling. Look, I'm sure on paper, the whole "wrestle zombies out of the swamp to hold in the barn" looked like a good idea, but it just didn't work for me. The comedy of seeing them so up close to the zombies, slipping about in the swamp mud hijacked the tension the scene was supposed to portray. You may feel different, but it didn't work for me. Of course, I realize something of that magnitude (showing Rick will do anything to keep the people under his charge safe, including something that he's opposed to (more political analogies) had to happen to reach the climax of this episode, so I'll go with it.

Shane wanders back and sees Andrea lounging about with the other people on the porch of the house. Which surprises him, since she was supposed to head out with Rick to look for Sophia. So now, everyone is wondering where Rick is, which makes his appearance leading two zombies with Herschel and the other guy really poor timing.

The group runs down to the barn, led by time bomb Shane. After some screaming, Shane pumps one of the zombies full of bullets to show Herschel the futility of keeping these zombies around. He then goes over to the barn, and breaks the lock, unleashing the barn zombies out to walk into a killing field. It's a dramatic scene, watching the group pick up guns and take out what of course used to be Herschel's family and neighbors. Rick can only watch, as he won't let go of the zombie he has, and his look the entire time says, "this isn't going the way I planned." Hannibal he is not.

Herschel slumps down, watching the carnage. The camera pans across everyone, effectively showing the different reactions and emotions the survivors have as they create the zombie carnage. A nice touch was Glen, gun in hand, and ready to shoot up some corpses, looks to Maggie for guidance. She, obviously in a twisted state of emotion, tearfully nods her acquiescence, obviously tortured by what she wants, and what needs to be done.

I'd be remiss if I didn't point out one shot I loved, and that was the overhead shot, above everyone, immediately following the slaughter. You could see Dale walking over to the scene, and I thought that would have been an awesome way to end the show, but I of course was wrong, because there was still one whopper to reveal...

One lone zombie remained in the barn, and now it peaked out the door, smelling the blood of living creatures. Stumbling out, she mindlessly faced the murder squad.

Zombie Sophia!

I know I griped a lot about how long it was taking to resolve the outcome of Sophia, and it felt like the pacing was a little off in the past 3-4 episodes. But this reveal completely surprised me, and made up for a lot of that. It's a shame when writers are put in a corner based on the schedule of a television show, but I think that's what happened here. This mini-season needed a shock at the end, and this one was a doozy.

Sophia's appearance gave everyone the grim perspective they needed. Herschel needed to realize the people he loved were completely gone; the survivors needed to realize it's not easy to give it up so easily when faced with someone they love.

Rick calmly walked up to Zombie Sophia, and punctuated that point by shooting her, and changed the game. That Rick did it showed the difference between him and Shane. His kill was one of mercy; not just for Sophia, but for everyone there. Shane's act of killing was mindless. For me, it was a great way to end this mini-season, and I'm excited to see where the show goes from here. Sophia's death felt like the end of part one, where the heroes and villains were fleshed out; book 2 will see the real conflict of the story. (By the way, that is not a comic spoiler in any way, just how I perceived the scene.)

Diving a little deeper, the scene is going to go a long way into what happens in the next set of episodes. Not only is there a big question about how/when/ Sophia got into the barn, but also if Herschel knew about her there, and if he did, how much did he keep from the survivors, knowing they were looking for a little girl. Methinks he is going to have a mutiny on his hands, and mutinies rarely play out well for the captains.

But more than that, it also pushes the rift between Rick and Shane further apart, albeit subtly. I'm not sure if we're supposed to take away the idea that Shane didn't shoot her because he couldn't (and if we were, that doesn't feel exactly right; they've been positioning him as being able to do anything), but having Rick step up and kill her shows that he is willing to do the things necessary to survive. Whether this is change in his character time will tell, but it countered nicely with Shane's earlier speech about how Rick won't survive in this new world.

Had Shane been the one to kill Sophia, it would have been the clear "turning to the dark side" moment for him, which I don't think we needed, and not what these writers like to do. Everything we've seen so far with these characters has been painted using shades of grey. Shane's actions make us hate him, but one can also argue that they were necessary. Lori's struggle with the decision of whether to allow her child and fetus to die were hard to hear, but also "realistic" given the circumstances a zombie apocalypse would create.

Only Rick has been kept pure, with his "no one gets left behind" approach. And yet now, with his shooting of Sophia, even that might have changed. This is a zombie landscape, and all bets are off. Yes, he wants to keep his humanity, and will struggle to do the right thing, but the realization of the world he's living in I think, has finally dawned on him.

I guess we'll see in February if I'm right!

Thoughts? Let me know! Tell me I'm loony!

Neighborhood Skiing

Man, if my town was all hilly and shit, I would totally do this...

JP Auclair Street Segment (from All.I.Can.) from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.

Buger King wants you to "Eat Like Snake"

I can't imagine this working in the United States, but who am I to judge...?

I hope beyond anything else that the music is legitimate. I have a feeling it isn't, but I want to believe that it accompanied the commercial. I would dive into the comments section of youtube to see if anyone verified it one way or the other, but I want to keep my sanity too.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thoughts on The Walking Dead Episode: Secrets

Before I get started I wanted to come up with my own title for this episode:

Good Intentions, Bad Results
Melrose Place: Of the Dead
Empire Strikes Back with Zombies
The Episode that Proves This Show Needs Darryl Involved to be Good

Seriously, was everyone in this episode wearing Bad Idea Jeans?

Everyone has secrets. In a normal society that's bad enough. But when you add an apocalypse and zombies, the problems they cause multiply exponentially. Glen understands this, which is why he hates keeping secrets. Dale understand this, which is why he tactfully attempts to get them out in the open. Lori understands this, which is why she tries to murder them (or "abort" them according to how you define "life." Thank Goodness The Walking Dead is entering the abortion debate fray. I thought I was going to get bored with all the zombies.)

Unfortunately, life (there's that word again), has a funny way of fucking around with everyone.

Glen is racked with guilt about the secrets he's keeping for everyone. So he goes and gets Old Man Dale's opinion on things. So, off we head to Herschel first...

The walkers in the barn? They're family - and sick. Who's to say when (and if) their life is over? Or if they're even alive? Or dead?

That the entire debate is happening around a horse is especially ironic. I'm really hoping the writers did it on purpose, but I can't say subtly is really their specialty.

Striking out with Herschel, Dale stumbles into Lori, and waxes on about his pregnancy (or more accurately, his deceased wife's) experience. It wasn't great, and it doesn't seem to make Lori feel any better about her upcoming experience. So Dale is kinda 0-2 on his talks.

Meanwhile, Sophia is STILL missing. Rick is still intent on finding her, but also wants to make sure everyone can shoot. I guess. This part was a either a little confusing, or I was fast forwarding liberally. Apparently, Shane is the Yoda of weapons instruction. What he IS NOT the Yoda of is...

Handling his emotions
Saving people from Zombie attacks
Subtly wooing married women from their husbands during a zombie apocalypse

So the gang heads off to practice some shooting. When Andrea shows a knack for it, she graduates to the next class, which is "Learning How to Shoot a Swinging Tree Branch as You're Being Yelled At Like You're in Full Metal Jacket." 101. And she totally failed.

And as usual, Andrea totally martyrs up and walks out on the instruction, forcing Shane to chase her down, apologize and then offer the olive branch of "being his back up" into an neighborhood where Sophia might be. Sure why not? So they head there, and start searching the houses. Well, I think they search the houses. Shane says they have to search every house. And we see them in one house searching, and it feels like it's the first house, but then the zombies come, and Andrea totally uses the force to become one with her gun and mow them all down and they leave. So that was a little confusing.

What wasn't confusing was the total "fuck me eyes" she was giving Shane in the car. And the subtle crotch grab. So apparently zombie carnage is a turn on for Andrea. Shane, not one to turn down car sex is down for it.

Of course, when they get back to camp, the sex is stamped all over them, giving Dale a his last chance. Although I'm not 100% sure going up against Shane is the best of moves, I applaud his chutzpah. Framing it in a way that suggests he's concerned about the group, and totally not concerned Shane is going to satisfy Andrea in ways he can't, he brings up the whole Otis thing. Which...I thought was a little reaching. Save, going on a cruise, a zombie apocalypse has to be one of the easier times to get away with murder. And really, there's been no suggestion anyone doubted Shane's story. But then, Dale reminds us all about how Shane had Rick in his rifle sights back in Season 1, and so we can at least believe Dale has had some doubts about Shane. It's a little clunky, but the dots connect somewhat.

Surprisingly, Shane's a little perturbed by Dale's sudden defiance, and threatens him. And I'm not sure if we were supposed to think Dale's reaction was fear or bravery, since I have to imagine Dale would at least think his line of interrogation here was going to get Shane riled up enough to threaten him.

Meanwhile, Maggie gets attacked by a zombie, which is probably going to get her thinking that her mom, currently in the barn chasing a chicken with a broken leg (quick aside - do we really have to hinder the chicken that much? Wouldn't a healthy chicken be more sporting and therefore take the zombies longer to catch and therefore be more satisfying? Zombie apocalypse era PETA is going to have a field day with this!) is less her mom and more a creature that wouldn't give a second thought to devouring her daughter's brain.

Lori comes clean about the pregnancy to Rick, though in the most horrible of ways possible. I'm starting to think the actress who plays Lori may have kicked one of the writer's dogs or something, because they have painted an ugly picture of her. Though by the end, I guess it's possible we've turned a corner with her (now that she's come clean to Rick about everything, including Shane) and she'll be a little more likable, but seriously, she has done nothing to suggest she has too many redeeming qualities. Time will tell I guess.

So...tensions are rising, and something tells me the gang is wearing out their welcome at Herschel's homestead. What say you?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cool Music Video - Join the Game - Pelbo

Cool song. Cooler video.

Nice long continuous take - though there might be an edit or two hidden in there before we get to the train platform. Still, cool.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Walking Dead Death Pool

Though I spent a good chunk of yesterday going over the reasons The Walking Dead wasn't very good, it doesn't mean I won't continue to watch it and be entertained by it. I find the show still has a lot of potential, and with some minor changes, it could really elevate itself. And that's why I've decided to create The Walking Dead Death Pool - a place where I will arbitrarily give odds for the characters chance of dying in the next episode...

Rick Grimes (100-1)
Good or bad, he's the emotional heart of the show, and he's not going anywhere anytime soon.

Carl Grimes (75-1)
With him apparently out of immediate danger due to being shot, I'm pretty sure he'll stick around at least for a little bit. Plus, it's also hard to imagine a television show would kill of a child. And if they've gone ahead and offed Sophia, it's really hard to believe they would kill two kids off.

Lori Grimes (75-1)
While it felt like they were setting her up to bite the bullet earlier in the season (with her damning flashback admitting there were potential problems with her and Rick; her suggestion of letting her son die) but now with the pregnancy reveal, I'd have a hard time believing they'd kill her and her unborn child.

Shane Walsh (50-1)
His slow turn to villainy hasn't come fully developed yet. That needs to happen before he challenges someone in the group enough to kill him, or he sacrifices himself for redemption. It will happen, just not in the next episode.

Andrea (4-1)
Andrea really isn't making any friends with her recent behavior. With her stupid gun fetish, fascination with death, and shooting of Darryl after being told not to use a gun, there isn't much left for her to do EXCEPT have a redemption scene of sacrifice. The writers have taken her up the big hill on the rollercoaster of hate - I don't think too many viewers would mourn her loss. She's one to keep an eye on. The only reason they might not take her out is to give Dale a chance to get some action.

Dale (10-1)
Not the quickest of the bunch, but close to the smartest, Dale certainly tries to stay on top of the situation (well zombie situation excluded). As sensible as he is amongst this group, I'd have a hard time believing the writers would kill him off. But he is slow, and we've seen some zombies really be able to move so...

Glenn (25-1)
A fan favorite, Glen probably isn't going anywhere. He's been established as the group's scrounger, as well as their guinea pig. While those two positions put him in a lot of dangerous situations, we also have to remember he just got into a relationship with one of the farm people. That has to resolve itself before Glen's usefulness goes away.

Daryl (11-1)
Viewer uproar would be immense if Daryl gets it in the next episode. Possibly the most complex and well developed character on the show (though that's not saying too much) Daryl is too much of a survivor to get killed by a bunch of zombies in a barn. Besides, I don't think his struggle to survive in the last episode would have received so much attention just to kill him in the next episode. Of course, if the writers want to shake it up and truly show no character is ever safe, this is the one to take out without completely disrupting the show.

T-Dog (6-1)
Racially speaking, the only reason T-Dog might be around is to buck the trend of "the black guy always gets killed first in a horror movie." I wish they gave him slightly more to's not like it would be difficult. And the weird racial undertones they are keeping alive between him and Daryl leads me to believe we're on a collision course with Merle (alive Merle, not hallucinatory Merle) where the race stuff explodes. So while T-Dog isn't really doing much now, give it 3 episodes and I bet he comes to the forefront.

Carol (5-1)
I think we need Sophia resolution before we can truly get a read on how long Carol lives. If Sophia winds up dead, I predict a suicide. If she ends up alive, I predict at least a few more episodes for her. Of course, with how long it's taking to resolve the Sophia situation, Carol could be on the show for years.

Maggie (8-1)
I can't imagine killing her off so soon after sexing up Glenn. How cruel that would be for the one guy getting some on the show

Herschel (2-1)
Something's gotta give, and his explanation of barn zombies better be really good or he's going to have a mutiny on his hands.

Patricia (7-5)
Just lost a beloved one as we sit on the precipice of a significant confrontation? It's been nice knowing you Patricia.

Field (1-10)
You don't want to be a minor character on this show. Not since volunteering to get beamed down with Kirk to some alien planet has it been so hazardous to be a minor character on a show.

Did I miss anyone? Have any other thoughts?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What's Going on with The Walking Dead

I like zombies as much as the next guy. I like apocryphal stories as much as him too. So when the two genres have a baby, it feels like it should be right up my wheelhouse.

Only it's not. The Walking Dead has been unbearably frustrating for me, and I'm trying to figure out why.

The first season, after the pilot, (that was shot as gorgeous as any "end-of-world-scenario" could be shot) I was hooked. Unfortunately, the pilot set up an unrealistic expectation of what was to come. The series and its narratives ground to a complete halt, as it introduced boring character after boring character, with little to none additional action (The whole go back to Atlanta plotline was pointless; and went nowhere to boot).

Once they got to the CDC however, it picked up somewhat. The external (zombies) and internal (Shane's a potential rapist!) conflicts developed some gravitas, and the finale gave viewers a goal (Fort Benning) that offered some hope. Hope is important both in a zombie world and a zombie television show; without it there's no reason to live, or watch.

So, once the second season started, I was guardedly optimistic. Sure, the show was doing gangbusters, but I felt that was simply because zombies are alluring right now, and I didn't want to get swept up in that onslaught (it's here where a better writer would weave in an allegory about how the rabid viewers of The Walking Dead are zombies themselves, mindlessly taking in the show without questioning it's writing or overall arc, because let's face it - the writing is inconsistent at best). And with the news in between seasons of the show runner being unceremoniously dumped (mixed feelings here - I loved the pilot, which Darabont, the showrunner, directed, but what happened to the rest of the series under his watch?) there was definitely a curiosity to see how the show changed.

Well, I'm not sure it changed. Or if it did, it just moved sideways...

After catching the first two episodes "live" (meaning when they first aired) I fell behind and started recording the show. That in itself, should say something. It no longer became the "must see" show it had once been for me. It was now a "if I have nothing else to do I'll watch it" show.

And now that I've finally caught up, I feel I can say that it still has problems, and they need to be fixed or viewers will stop tuning in, ravenous as they might be for zombie fare.

Let's ignore some of the smaller, immediate gripes for the moment - oh ok, I'll just list them in quick detail...

How come in the premiere for the second season, the survivors could hide under cars and not be smelled out, when in the first season we had an entire episode devoted to getting covered in zombie guts to walk amongst the dead? Inconsistencies like that suck.

You would think with kids being raised in this world, their parents would suggest to them if they ever found themselves in danger, they should run toward a human and not down an embankment off the highway into a forest of unknown and potential zombie repute. At least that's how I'd raise my children in a zombie apocalypse.

Rick stashed Sophia in a hollowed out trunk in order to get the zombies to chase him real far away so that he could...kill them fairly easily real far away? Why not just kill them right where he found her? You know, the sensible solution?

Why do some zombies seem smarter than others? I've seen high school students dumber than that zombie trying to get at Andrea in the bathroom.

Why do the survivors split up every chance they get?

Anyway, I could sit here for hours and nitpick, but I'd like to get hopefully go a little deeper and get at the root of the problem. And that's the idea that the characters on The Walking Dead are not likable. Save for a few (and we'll get into that), the characters have little redeeming qualities. I find myself after every episode thinking that I would split the first chance I got if I was ever stranded with these people.

The women characters are horrendous. Stereotypical caricatures of what women really are like. Honestly, it feels as though men are writing their characters. And the male characters aren't much better. Let's take a look...

Lori - She lives with the guilt that she cheated on Rick with Shane. I understand that this would weigh on her a lot, but then why did we have the flashback that suggested she didn't have a happy marriage to begin with? And then why does she have to be the one that contemplates letting her son die so as not to raise him in this world? Honestly, it's been like 2 months since the zombies started walking the streets! You'd think she'd give it a little more time (also since she has the Fort Benning knowledge) before the hopelessness settled in.

Andrea - Even living in a zombie world can't stop her from getting catty with the rest of the survivors and holding grudges. What Dale sees in her...I don't get it. That she show Darryl isn't helping her cause either.

Carol - She has the thankless task of grieving for her daughter. And that's it. She doesn't get to do much else.

Dale - probably my favorite character, because he's playing the greek chorus of the show, acting and saying how the audience feels a lot of times, though on occasion he's used to advance the plot (not sure I needed him hammering home how bad of an idea it was for Glen to sleep with Maggie. We get it. Daddy's not going to be happy.)

T-Dog - It's hard to say much about him since the show gives him so little to do.

Glen - Used to be a great character, that was underused, but now has stepped up in the past few episodes and has shown that he can be as unlikable as all the other characters. Look, I didn't have a problem with the sex in the pharmacy. Guys are horny and when they can get some, they're going to act on it, regardless of the zombie threat. It was the way he acted immediately following the sex that soured me on him. The period stuff? Really?

Darryl - Probably the audience's favorite character, and with good reason. He takes action when it needs to be taken, but he also has a sensitive side. In fact, he's the most sympathetic character on the show right now. It remains to be seen how he takes the hallucinatory thoughts of his brother back with the group, but I hope he doesn't attempt to usurp Rick. Darryl seems the type that would just go off on his own and leave the others behind.

But these characters don't drive the show. It's Rick, and to a lesser extent Shane. The constant power struggle between the two former cops is obviously building to some sort of confrontation. I do think the shades of grey they're giving Shane to play with are interesting; sure he shot Otis in order to save himself...but his intentions, if slightly misguided, were in the right place. Otis shot Carl. Carl needed the supplies the two were getting. It wasn't a plan Shane concocted beforehand - he seized the opportunity the situation gave him and made a horrible choice. But looking back, was it a choice that had to be made? Maybe. And that's why his slow conversion to evil is being handled well so far. His confrontations with Rick (about Sophia, about the guns, etc.) are not wrong. If there's one thing that is intriguing about this show to me, it's that the sense of right and wrong have been flipped on its ear. Zombie world means right and wrong aren't so far away from each other now. Shane is representing this shift very well.

Unfortunately, the character of Rick is not. Obviously his intentions are good, and the decisions he's made have been the decisions the majority of the audience will agree on (continuing the search for Sophia), but it's very difficult to write a sympathetic character that is always facing doubt. Every decision he makes seemingly is questioned by everyone in the group, which causes the audience to start questioning the decisions too, and then ultimately begins to question the character.

It's very similar to what happened with Jack on Lost. But the Lost writers occasionally gave Jack some moments of pure heroism that helped sell Jack as a leader. We've yet to see that with Rick on The Walking Dead. Each decision Rock has made has not only been questioned, but the outcomes have not necessarily been good either. To be a leader, there has to be some sort of track record; Jack was a doctor who went around saving a lot of lives after a plane crash. Rick used to be a cop and...that's it for his leadership position.

Season 2 has been better than season 1, mostly because of Darryl. While the pacing still has some issues, the new characters have helped, and the school scenes with Shane and Otis delivered great tension. The Sophia storyline however is really being dragged out for no real reason than to give Shane and Rick something to argue about, and really they could argue about something else just as much (say, staying vs. leaving the farm). The barn zombies are obviously going to create a new tension between the characters, I just hope it gets resolved somewhat quickly (seriously, wouldn't they just pack up and leave, and let Dr. Crazypants hang out?)


Monday, November 14, 2011

Oh Those Wacky Germans

German band Rammstein, known for their pyrotechnics and general insanity, looks like they chose to go a different route for the video of their latest single, "Mein Land."

Well, at least for the first 3 minutes.

Warning, it gets decidedly NSFW.

Breakdancing Slowed Down

What's better than an awesome breakdancing video?

An awesome breakdancing video in slow motion...

Earth in Time Lapse

You think I might be exaggerating, right? I'm not. This time lapse of the planet Earth, seen from above, is mesmerizing and awesome in its sense of ifiniteness. Enjoy...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Not Your children's Snow White

Did I just get a little excited for a Snow White movie?

I think it's a key marketing strategy to focus on Charlize Theron here; Stewart will bring her Twilight fans no matter what...Theron might bring a bigger audience.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hands Free Bike Tricks

Not what you're expecting.

Sure, some hipsters cobbled this together after the local, chic thrift shop had a sale on bikes, but that doesn't stop it from being good. My favorite? The "Tony Blair Giving a Speech," followed closely by, the "Guilty Man Leaving Court."

What's yours?

One man. One Phone. Awesome music.

It's stuff like this that makes me feel like I can create music, despite not having an ounce of musical talent. I know that's not the case, but it won't stop me from trying some day.

Enjoy what a true musician, Jamie Lidell, can do with an iPhone, and an app called iMaschine.

Zach Galifianakis Early Stand Up

From 1999...comedian Zach Galifianakis takes us on a journey:

He gathers the crowd with the first two jokes, and then veers completely off course. Honestly, I hoped a little bit he just stayed in that vein to see where he would go, but it seems like he knew he was about to lose the crowd, so he reined himself in, before peppering the rest of the set with some absurdist humor.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Surf Video - Matrix Style

This is probably unlike any surf video you've seen before. Even if you're a connoisseur of surf videos...

White Salmon River Dam Is No More

The White Salmon River used to have a dam on it. But then someone blew up the dam (legally and on purpose!) and in 2 hours, the river no longer is impeded by a dam.

Don't believe me? Watch this video of how it turned out.

Dancing Sword Girl

What could be better than checking out this girl's awesome sword dancing skills (I'm sure there's a more proper name for what she's doing)?

You'll have to watch and see. Bonus to Grandmom hanging out and soaking in the performance.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

#wildlyoverrated: Ice Cream Cakes

Lots of people like cake.

Lots of people like ice cream.

But an insane number of people talk about ice cream cake in tones usually reserved for being blown by someone with a mouth full of gummy worms and heroin.

I don’t get it.

In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that Ice Cream Cakes are #wildlyoverrated.

I know what you’re thinking to yourself, “Good lord, I have a lot of Bed Bath & Beyond coupons. Thankfully, the world economy is about to collapse and these will soon be recognized as valid currency.”

Or, less interestingly from a socio-economic perspective, “That Cline, he’s just a hater. It’s a lot easier to curse the dark then light a candle. Also, I think in mangled clichés.”

But for just a moment, let’s step outside the syphilitic tollbooth your brain has devolved into and consider ice cream cakes.

Start with the parental motivation. Sheer laziness. I’m not saying you need to make a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting (all from scratch). Forget for a second that I have done that on numerous occasions for fun and profit. But I’ve known sciatica-riddled 2nd-graders who were capable of throwing some eggs towards a box of Betty Crocker and cranking out a half-decent pile of Funfetti. And I can only blame the sissification of America for rendering parents’ wrists too flimsy to scoop out some ice cream to go on top of the cake.

Next, the ingredients.  I’ve yet to find an ice cream cake that didn’t use rock-hard, sub-standard ice cream for 75% of its substance. I didn’t realize that the government had branched out from its wildly successful cheese operation into the world of dairy-centric desserts.  The rest was dry, crumbly cake that was not only mediocre, but teeth-destroying cold. Who likes cold cake? I mean, other than Ron Paul.

I know you’re nostalgic for days full of promise and wonder and not knowing what the phrase “garnish your wages” or “between the hours of 8 and noon” really meant. But peer past the gauzy romantification of your equally overrated youth. Behind the gauze lies mediocrity. And beyond that, hey, it’s an ice cream cake!

I will give ice cream cakes one point in the “Pro” column. But that’s only because the Carvel commercials from my youth have not lost their whatthefuckamiwatchingness.

Fudgie the Whale goes on the Mount Rushmore of Carvel legends, along with Cookie Puss, Cookie O’ Puss, and Tommy Carvel’s lawyer. Hey, those pedophilia cases aren’t going to throw themselves out based on technicalities by themselves, ya know.

Standard-issue Carvel wackiness, this time centered around Halloween:

Huh. These cakes look eerily similar to Fudgie the Whale and both of the Halloween ones. Pretty sure all the Carvels in each state shared the same 3 molds.

This is a terrible stereotype of Irish people made of sugar. Luckily they’re usually drunk and diabetic, so it’s not a big deal.

And then there’s this.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

American Horror Story: "Murder House"


I almost didn’t write this.

Last week, I forgot to DVR the show, and it didn’t air again until last night. So really, I had an excuse and everything to simply let this fade into the ether and never mention American Horror Story again.

But I’m a glutton for punishment.

So here you go. And now I have another week to convince myself to drop this stupid show from my memory. Maybe I’ll get hit by a car. I can hope.

Goofy font informs us it’s 1983…

Sexy maid is making a bed in what presumably is the Horror House. A man watches her and makes his move. Also suggests this isn’t the first time it’s happened. The maid fights him off, but this is back before the “No means No!” campaign so he just gets attackier. While this is going on, a woman is heading up the stairs with a gun. It’s Lange – and she shoots the maid right in the eye, right before shooting her husband. Well, this is a fine how do you do part of some back story we’ve got going here!

“Clever” editing takes us back (forward? I don’t care enough) to the present day… where Ben and Vivian are fighting. At first, I assume we’re to assume they’re arguing about his recent Boston trip, but no! Apparently, this family is in the 99%! She wants to move, but due to some unfortunate investments that Ben hasn’t been forthcoming about, they really can’t afford it. I love how one of Ben’s main arguments about not moving is because he has an office in the house. The same house where his wife and daughter were almost raped and murdered in. But you know, his patients meet him there!

She ends the conversation with the “Don’t lie to me again or we’re through,” which yeah…

Creepy credits!

Vivian meets with the realtor and lays down the law with her. I’m not up on my California real estate codes, so I’m not sure who’s right in this confrontation, but I have to imagine the realtor at least wants the opportunity to sell the house and get a commission, no? Instead, she tries to get out of the whole thing, before Vivian finally threatens to sue her.

Back in the kitchen, Ben and sexy maid are trading glances.

Then 6 Feet Under maid finds Lange (I guess in the haunted house, it’s never made clear (Ever, actually. These sets all look the same) stealing silver. They too start a cat fight, filling in a few more details about their history. And what a history it is!

Ben has a new patient. She’s depressed about going through a divorce. It’s quite a sob storyA boring sob story. Ben is struggling to listen, as much as I’m struggling to watch this show.

Then he (and we) suddenly finds himself outside in the yard with blood on his hands. He comes back inside and sees sexy maid…from behind (yes I meant that as a double entendre). She’s cleaning up what she says is blood in the hallway. It leads to more sexy time until Ben has had enough and fires her.

This of course then sets up the most ridiculous confrontation between the (three?) (four?) of them: Ben and Vivian, along with each representation of the maid they see. Ben pleads his case, but obviously Vivian doesn’t buy it. The maid (6 Feet Under) pleads her case, and then gets a bit huffy about it all, threatens a lawsuit if they fire her and storms off.

Knowing the power of the threat of a lawsuit, Vivian suggests they keep her, and tells Ben he’s screwed up. Which he is of course, just like every other character in this stupid show.

And now just like that, we’re outside, where Vivian is doing a little gardening as the murder tour pulls up.

Violet is outside as well, sneaking a smoke when Ben catches her. But he’s in cool dad mode, and isn’t mad! He offers to find someone to talk to her about what happened. He leaves, and Tate comes out of the bushes to talk about how great of a dad Ben is. Not like a ghost or anything. And I seriously have no idea why this scene was even included. It doesn’t do much of anything, except take a weak stab at making Ben a character with some positive traits. Unfortunately, it takes more than this to make him even slightly sympathetic. So we’re left with nothing. As usual.

Ben, fresh off his “Dad of the Year” audition, goes in to confront sexy maid about his now missing tape recorder he had during his recent patient session. She seductively tells him she has not idea where it is, and also his next patient is in. Ben is all like, next patient? I don’t have anyone else scheduled? Oh but you do Ben, you do…it’s his mistress. So let’s play why is she now in California.

A. She didn’t have the abortion

B. She decided to move out to California to be closer to Ben

C. She wants Ben to pay for the move and her living conditions so he can be a part of the child’s life.

D. All of the above.

Thankfully, this awesome plot contrivance is interrupted by a detective. Not a homicide detective however – a missing persons detective (huh?) who is looking for the now officially missing patient Ben treated. After making some wide generalizations about a whole bunch of stuff, he ogles sexy maid when she walks in and then leaves.

And now we get to the part of the show where we seemingly jump around from place to place with no rhyme or reason!

Cut to: some weird possible flashback of a guy murdering another guy in an alley, over misconceived homosexuality. I almost break into a nervous sweat thinking that this is a new plot point to cover when thankfully it’s revealed it’s just stop on the murder tour, which Vivian is on. I guess she’s trying to find out more information about her house and the ghosts fuck around too much with Google in her house.

And now we get some more history on the house. A surgeon to the stars built the house in the 20’s, but like all successful doctors got into a Frankenstein fetish. So much so that he would often be late to dinner working on his “bat-pig” experiments. His bitchy wife (shout out to Philly!) constantly nags him about everything. So while he wants to go back down to the basement and make his pig bat, his wife, ever the entrepreneur, wants to continue their lavish lifestyle.

And what better way than by opening an illegal abortion clinic in their basement?

Vivian, listening to the story, and really realizing she doesn’t want to live in an old abortion clinic, suddenly realizes she is bleeding from her, uh…baby canal, so she rushes into the house.

So now we’re in the doctor’s office with Ben and Vivian. Vivian checks out, everything is normal, and the blood is attributed to “spotting.” And I thank God/evolutionary randomness that I never have to deal with “spotting.” Of course then the doctor also demands they plan on moving for the next nine or so months, due to the stress a move puts on people…people like Ben who suddenly faints.

Cut to: Lange is out walking her Dachshunds, and waves at Tate who is standing in a window of the horror house. The realtor, putting up the “For Sale” sign looks to see who she’s waving at and of course sees no one there. Instead of this scene, I just wish Tate would wear a shirt that said, “Yes, I’m a ghost.” It would be subtler.

Cut to: Ben power walking and who does he run into but into half-melted face guy! They talk. Well, HMFG talks and Ben yells and threatens. Then he gets mad and power walks off in a huff.

He comes home and tears up his office in an attempt to find his voice recorder, before blacking out and waking up in the yard again. Feeling as though he might have had something to do with his patient’s current missing status, he grabs a nearby shovel and starts digging up some recently dug up dirt in his yard. Lange pops over to chat about this and that and not digging up the yard. But Ben is determined. 6 Feet Under maid glumly stares out the window.

Cut to: Vivian answering the door again this time to the original owner’s wife, though wearing modern fashions. Vivian “Fool me once shame on you…”) still really wants to sell the house, and lets crazypants in anyway. Crazypants because she loves the old parts of the house, but hates the new, modern pieces of the house – like a pasta hook, or something. Something that would scare me. As they’re talking the camera spins around to the back of the woman’s head where we see a huge gash. Vivian turns to get the tea she’s making and when she turns back the woman is gone! So it seems Doc Bat-Pig Inventor got bored enough with having to split abortion profits with her and does her in at some point. We’ll either learn about it next episode or it will never come up again.

Ben is still digging in the yard and the missing persons detective comes back. His patient has been found in some hospital somewhere, with the voice recorder. So Ben didn’t killer her! Though he may have wished he did after we get to hear what’s on the recorder. The patient got so annoyed that Ben was barely listening to her that she slashed her wrists in his office. Ben grabbed her bloody wrists to stop her, and then proceeded to let he walk out with his voice recorder. Makes enough sense for me to just ignore it.

Cut to: Vivian and Violet checking out a new apartment, because Vivian is not about to let her stupid doctor tell her what she can and can’t do. Unfortunately, she might not have the same strategy with her daughter. Violet goes off on her pregnant, recently tortured mother about not moving, ending with the ultimatum that she will run away if they move. And adds the ol’ “yeah and there’s no way you’ll ever be able to find me because I’m a master ninja and CIA operative that is an expert in getting off the grid.” Or something like that.

Cut to: Ben is on the phone getting his blood work back from when he fainted. He had some weird drug in his system that causes memory loss, that I guess explain his black outs. But before he can really confront sexy maid about it, Hayden, his REAL sexy mistress from Boston, is at the door, screaming about him standing her up. Also in the screaming is her yelling that she is going to tell his wife all about the baby and whatnot. Ben calms her down, and suggests they go somewhere to speak rationally, and that someplace can’t be his house. She agrees, and walks out of the house and into a swinging shovel from HMFG. Ben, just about completely off his rocker at this point, oscillates between going to the authorities and letting HMFG handle his situation his way; burying the body and keeping a secret.

Ben goes inside to think about it and vomit while HMFG buries the body in the hole Ben already started earlier. How fortuitous! Digging a bit, he finds what we presume is the body of sexy maid, at the same time 6 Feet Under maid wistfully looks on from a window above. Lange shows up behind 6 Feet Under, and says, “Now you’ll never get to leave.” Ben, deciding to take the sneaky approach with his dead mistress promptly builds a gazebo over the gravesite. And when I say “promptly, I mean it. Seriously, the guy has a future in carpentry. And after all, who wouldn’t want to sit and sip tea on the site of their buried mistress?

And finally, we cut to Vivian sleeping and abortion doctor/Bat Pig creator’s wife watching her sleep. Because, why not?


So there you go. It hardly seems possible, but each episode finds a lower point. The AV Club is suggesting it’s one of those things that’s so bad it’s good, but I’d argue against that. Usually, guilty pleasures and other things that work on the level of “so bad it’s good” start with a serious endeavor. And I refuse to believe this show is taking seriously by anyone. The clincher had to be the somber pop song playing over the scene where HMFG is burying Ben’s chippy Boston mistress.

So, at least on some level, the show wants to be taken seriously in some parts. As most horror type projects have to do. But it also wants to remain campy in some areas, and those two things are not good playground buddies. Shaun of the Dead pulled it off, but when you think about it, it started with the comedy and as it went on ratcheted up the horror until the comedy pretty much went away.

No, American Horror Story wants to be everything to everyone, and that’s pretty much impossible. I can only hope the American public will wise up about that soon.

Book Trailer for John Hodgman's Latest and Greatest

I'm a sucker for anything with Dick Cavett...

Monday, October 24, 2011

You Are About to Save So Much Time

Wait, you take your shirt off arms first? Head first? Why do you spend so much time doing it the stupid way?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Shatner Being Shatner

I got to the "Open your eyes" line and tapped out. I just couldn't go further.

Thankfully, the above video does give me reason to repost this video, which I could watch a hundred times over...

Michael Winslow Does Led Zeppelin

If this isn't a commercial for why we need a Police Academy 9...

The Better Movie Trailer

Sure, the Avengers movie is grabbing a lot of attention and hype, and the recent movie trailer that came out is only helping that cause...

But seriously, isn't this sweded version of it totally better?

I enjoy the fact that the sweded version took a lot of effort - probably more effort by the people involved than the actual trailer.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

American Horror Story: Home Invasion

After last week’s underwhelming premiere, I thought long and hard about continuing the recaps of American Horror Story. Unlike the Killing, my last foray into following a television series, American Horror Story, is a complete mess, and we're only 2 episodes in. It seems the creators/writers/whoevers simply have a list of famous horror movies that they then pay homage to, with little rhyme or reason. I’m have some faint hopes that a centralized story (other than “dysfunctional family moves into haunted house, bloody, improbable hijinks ensue”) will start to develop, but so far I haven’t seen much evidence of one.

The other reason doing the Killing recaps was fulfilling was the amount of familiar people I knew also watched it and commented. It made watching the show slowly devolve at least palatable. So far, no one I know is watching AHS. I would beg them to start but that wouldn’t be very nice of me.

Anyway, I guess the reason I’m sticking with this is I’m a masochist at heart, and the show is very sadist, so in a way we’re made for each other.

Once again we start with a flashback; our jaunty font says we’re in the year 1968. We’re in the house following 3 girls getting ready to go to a Doors concert. This is immediately unbelievable as one of the girls is black, and if I know anything it’s that black people hate the Doors. I mean, most white people do. Regardless, they head down the stairs off to their concert, making snide comments about two girls who opted to miss the Lizard King and study instead. Well, one of them is studying, the other one appears to already be a nurse. And…I have no idea of the dynamic of these five girls. I guess it’s not too important, as we’ll soon see, but it just seems like really poor writing.

The two shut-ins settle for a night of studying and Laugh-In just as there’s a knock on the door. It’s a guy who was in an accident and could he get some help? Help as in “I really need to kill some nurses because I hate nurses and thankfully I found a house that contained an actual nurse and a nursing student.”

No, really. He quickly overtakes them, makes the student dress up in a nurse outfit that I guess he brought with him? And proceeds to lay her out on a white couch, in her white uniform, and stab her. It’s quite graphic. Yes, if you want me to get specific she prays and he says that’s not going to help her, and he’s right. So is the house the devil? Good lord would that be annoying. We don’t see what happens to the other, actual nurse, but assume she upstairs masturbating. Although with this show…

Cue clichéd credits...

Ah, back in the present day…Ben is working with crazypants teen (aka Tate) and they’re verbally sparring. Tate tries to get under Doc Ben’s skin by telling the doctor his sexual thoughts about Violet, his daughter. Now call me crazy, but I doubt he would still be treating him. Remember, he already found him in Violet’s room. Anyway, before we come squirm out of that moral wormhole, he gets a call on his cell from a woman simply saying, “I’m pregnant.” Which I assume is the woman/girl with whom he had the affair that started this whole thing.

Next, we find ourselves in an abandoned pool with a bunch of skateboarding teens. Violet and her coke fiend girl nemesis are now a bit more chummy. Or at least not fighting. I guess demon attacks are a good thing to bond over. They talk about what happened in the basement. Violet tries to play it off as Tate just scaring her (even though she seemed pretty spooked last week about it). Crazy chick isn’t buying that though and shows Violet her now streaked, white hair. Kinky!

Cut to: Violet now asleep, in the house. And who shows up but Tate, watching her sleep? Because what says completely sane and normal more than creepily watching someone sleep? Unless of course Tate is a ghost. Which he totally is. Suddenly, the house alarm goes off. Ben grabs a bat and heads downstairs to find the front door open. Ben’s next stop? The basement…where he finds Addie, playing with a ball. And I realize that Jessica Lange is crazy, and Addie has down syndrome so she’s not a normal child, but seriously – it’s late enough where everyone is asleep. We can’t keep a girl with down syndrome in check? Obviously there’s a subtly hint of supernatural stuff (seriously, the ball Addie was playing with mysteriously rolls across the floor when no one is there – but more seriously, are we supposed to be spooked by that? We had a rubber suited man rape a woman last week. The ball-across-the-floor seems slightly underwhelming after that) before Ben turns off the lights and heads back upstairs.

He explains the situation to Vivian who promptly tells him she’s afraid for her baby. You see, this pregnancy seems different than the last one. And while I know next to nothing about pregnant woman, isn’t that uh, kinda normal? Like women who vomited a lot with their first child didn’t vomit at all with the second? Whatever, I guess we have to build some suspense for the baby here since it’s the product of a rubber-suited man demon.

Cut to: a new, blond woman patient with Ben, spouting some ridiculous nonsense about Karen Carpenter and an elevator. Unfortunately we aren’t just told though, we’re shown her freaky, “I’m gonna get chopped in half dream.” Then she turns it on Ben and asks about the murder house and tells him how his house is on the murder house tour. She seems obsessed about the murders. And the house. (Bianca)

Cut to: Ben calling Tate’s mom and telling her he can’t treat Tate – which at least shows the creators are trying to ground the show in a little bit of reality. Meanwhile, crazy blond patient wanders in lying about how she got “turned around” when she was leaving. And there we’ve effectively eliminated the reality because I can’t imagine any psychiatrist with a home office simply tells the patient to show him/herself out the door and leaves them alone. Well, I guess any psychiatrist with an office NOT in a haunted house.

Let’s go wander over and see what those oh-so-wholesome neighbors are doing. Why, it looks like they’re baking something! And spitting in it and putting ipecac syrup in it. How lovely. I can only imagine who that’s for.

Cut to: Ben running again in the apocalyptic valley and having flashbacks of what I can only imagine is his affair girl. Melted head guy shows up, and talks more about the house and seems to have a lot of Ben’s personal information. Ribs him a bit about the affair which, yeah – why not? He also gives the audience the cliff notes version of his story, just in case we missed it last week (plausible) or there are some new viewers this week (extremely implausible). He predicts Ben is going to lie to his wife and so we…

Cut to: Ben lying to his wife about why he is flying to Boston.

During the lying conversation, Constance comes over and brings the cupcakes with the explicit instructions that Violet eats them, which I don’t get, and can only assume will be revealed in the future as to why Constance wanted to make Violet sick. At least I hope it’s revealed, and not just a stupid way for the cupcakes to come up later in the episode. I really hope they explain why Constance baked yuckcakes for Violet, when we’ve seen little interaction between these two characters. Good lord I feel like I’m in for disappointment. I mean more disappointment.

Anyway, Constance non sequitors into a premonition that Violet is “with child.” Because she’s a ghost, right? And Violet, maybe because she’s losing 5% of her brain with the pregnancy, or maybe because it’s just shoddy writing, invites Constance to stay so she can talk more about her unborn child with her, all the while teasing the audience with the yuckcake in her hand. Will she or won’t she eat it? Will we care or not?

Constance doesn’t seem to want wife to eat the cupcake, but she also doesn’t go to too many great lengths to prevent it. Then Ben walks in. Then 6 Feet Under maid walks in. And it seems Constance and the maid have a history together. A prickly history. Constance also makes sure Ben doesn’t eat a cupcake. Like he was going to. He’s way too busy ogling sexy maid.

Cut to: Violet’s room With Ben gone, I guess mom and daughter have to talk. Of course as every mother/daughter conversation goes, Violet calls her mom “fat” and “weak.” You know, the usual stuff. Vivian leaves the yuckcake with her, but Violet leaves it out in the hallway, presumably to poison a rat. Or ghost. Or homicidal wannabe woman actress.

Vivian feeling rather glum, goes and calls Ben. Ben is of course with his little chirpy, sipping wine in her apartment. And its here I start questioning the timeline of everything going on. If we’re supposed to believe the that Ben’s affair chick’s unborn child is his…did he have the affair and then 2 weeks later pack up the family to move to California? I thought there was time in between the affair and then the move? Or, is this not his kid? Or, am I putting way too much thought into this? I

I think we know the answer to at least one of those questions.

Anyway, he makes the mistake of checking his phone in her presence, she goes all psycho, and then he apologizes and seemingly slips his phone into her pocketbook? I rewound like 4 times to see if I could understand what was going on, since that seems like the stupidest thing anyone could ever do in his situation, but that’s what it looked like. I mean, I realize she asked him for the phone during her tantrum, but he wisely said no and refused to give it to her. Then they hug, and he seemingly slipped it into her bag unbeknownst to her. And you wonder why I’m currently banging my head on they keyboard in frustration.

And now starts what may be one of the most ridiculous plot lines in a television show. And that’s saying a lot coming from a show based in fantasy: Vivian is laying in bed watching some movie, when she hears someone banging on the front door. It’s a woman employing the same tactics as the 1968 guy who killed the girls in the beginning of the show. Thankfully, Vivian isn’t a stupid nursing student and doesn’t fall for it. She looks around for her phone before screaming for Violet to get her phone and call 911. She goes back to check at the door, and glimpses the woman, now wearing a creepy black mask. Simultaneously there is a man in a black mask creeping up on Violet, who is frantically looking for her phone.

It’s a home invasion, sadly without the Ice-T soundtrack. There are three invaders, and one of them is the woman patient from the beginning, this time with two of her goon friends…and they really are obsessed with the murders that happened in this house, so much so they’re going to recreate them! (Un)Thankfully Violet and Vivian aren’t so submissive and they fight back, as much as they can. Violet breaks away and runs upstairs. Tate shows up, and tells Violet to get the three of them into the basement. Makes a bit of sense, since we saw what he did with coke addled teen friend when Violet got her in the basement. And that was just to scare her! Meanwhile, Vivian is trying to talk herself out of getting murdered, when we see Addie creeping into the house. Guess there are some positives to leaving your door unlocked. Other than letting homicidal house invaders in. Violet Subtly tries to tell her to go get help. Meanwhile Violet is caught and is being forced into a nurse outfit where she is going to be drowned. Apparently that is what happened to the other woman in the beginning scene. Of course, why that was not revealed in the beginning, and held to this moment makes little sense, but at this point we just have to go with it. Right? I mean there’s no way to actively change a television show on the fly is there?

Just as we’re about to get on with Violet’s drowning, blond wannabe actress homicidal maniac comes strutting into the bathroom gnoshing on the yuckcake that Violet had left out in the hall. Because everyone knows murdering makes you hungry!

Cut to: Constance getting busy with a young man. A studly, young man. Unfortunately, before she can remove his trousers with her tongue, Addie upends the mood with news of what’s happening next door. But of course, since she’s a television character with down syndrome, we know where this is leading, right? Well, not where it eventually lands, but we can guess that Constance won’t believe her.

So yeah, Constance doesn’t believe her, and puts her in the “bad closet” to “look at herself.” The bad closet is a closet full of mirrors. And so I guess all the scenes leading up to this point is just to show off that one of the writers came up with the bad closet concept. Because seriously? This has nothing to do with anything.

Back in horror house, the blond murderer girl is vomiting. In a stupor, she’s looking for her crime cohorts, before Tate comes out of nowhere and buries an ax in her stomach. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, and I know it was something like five minutes ago, but weren’t we lead to believe a little earlier that Tate needed the three home invaders to go in the basement before he could “act?” I guess that’s out the window. But then why did he wait to act? Why didn’t he help them out before…oh just forget it. I blame myself for picking this show apart at such a logical level.

Downstairs, Vivian is getting prepped by the dude to get stabbed. But wait – there’s a struggle! and she gets the upperhand.

Meanwhile, Violet, per Tate’s implicit instructions, is leading the last remaining kidnapper to the basement. And there’s Tate with a tub. Vivian and Violet escape and run down the street, leaving Tate to handle these crazy kids anyway he wants. And how he does that is conjures up the nursing student ghosts. Because, of course.

Back in Boston Ben and his chirpy look like they’re waiting in a high school gymnasium sponsoring a blood drive. And maybe they are. We know she was/is a student. And I can only guess that he will get a phone call and have to leave, and she’ll be pissed. Which is pretty much what happens.

Cut to: Constance, Six Feet Under Mom and Tate standing over the bodies of the kidnappers. Tate suggests that if they want the doctor to keep treating him, they have to get rid of the bodies. Uh oh, careful here, we’re getting a semblance of a reason this show exists. Now don’t worry, I’m certain it will be forgotten about. They hatch a plan to get rid of the bodies.

The aftermath. Ben is home and the family is being interviewed by the police. The one girl was found down the street with multiple ax wounds; the other 2 haven’t turned up yet. Ben confronts his daughter about Tate being in the house. She snarks back. You know usual snark stuff after a home-invasion-almost-murder. Vivian ends the episode with “we’re selling this house.”

Something tells while she may have the best intentions, she isn’t going to get her wish.

So, what are we left with? Suggestions that Constance isn't a ghost (since we see her outside of the house) which lead us to believe that the house makes people go crazy internally. Tate also shows possibilities of both being a ghost (all the basement talk) and not being a ghost (actually stabbing a real life person with an ax). So basically, we know nothing.

I'm really dreading next Wednesday.