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.