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Monday, April 29, 2013

Hemlock Grove: And So It Ends


Wait.  Roman's a vampire?  Seriously?  I know that he demonstrates a sick fascination with blood, his own and other's, and possesses eerie psychic powers, but I thought he was just a confused, brooding teenager, albeit one with eerie psychic powers.  So, his reflection shows up in mirrors, he walks around in the sunlight third-degree-burn free and he appears to subside on nicotine and scotch rather than sweet, sweet blood, but he's a vampire?  Fine, I guess.  Whatever.

Look, I didn't know Roman Godfrey, played with a forever-faltering American accent by the jaw-droppingly handsome Bill Skarsgard, was supposed to be a vampire until I read a couple different reviews for Hemlock Grove that labeled him as such.  That kind of seems like a problem, doesn't it?  Maybe I wasn't watching close enough.  I mean, there were all of those clues, like, the handsomeness and the bad accent.  After all, that's how you can tell the vampires from the humans on True Blood.

The fact that Roman is a newfangled vampire creature for the 21st century--one born out of the sexual union of a young girl with a rat tail poking out from the base of her spine and a teenaged gypsy, who can only fully realize his full vampire potential following a failed suicide attempt (Yup.  For real.)--doesn't bother me too terribly much, as his friendship with Peter, and their subsequent Hardy Boys-style team-up to solve The Mystery of the Half-Eaten Teenage Girls, is, in the end, the only thing this series truly has going for it.  If this was a show about a gypsy werewolf and a rich dick vampire driving around in a vintage car solving mysteries, I'd be all for it.  But it's not that.  Not really.
What are you dudes staring at?  Oh, wait.  I remember.  The rest of you should stop reading if you don't want spoilers galore.  Just saying

I don't really know how to proceed.  Hemlock Grove tosses so many plot threads and wacky characters into the mix, that it's hard to get a good reading on what any of it means.  By the final episode, most of the plot threads have been left to dangle until and the bulk of the ancillary characters have either been murdered or rendered batshit insane.  Nothing is wrapped up satisfactorily.

I don't like to be jerked around by television shows.  More specifically, television show creators.  I have never seen a show that seems more slapped together without a second thought than Hemlock Grove.  It feels as if the writers sat in a room one afternoon brainstorming, and instead of crafting a coherent story around some interesting characters with dark histories that live in a quirky town in the shadow of a creepy science lab full of secrets, they just shat every nutball idea onto the page with reckless abandon:

"Put a werewolf in there.  Oh, how 'bout a weird Frankenstein's monster girl who communicates through a cellphone and glows when she's excited.  Explain it?  We don't have to explain it.  Just put her in there.  Oh, and there's another werewolf only this one's crazy and it mauls sexy teenage girls.  Oh, and there's a mad scientist dude, but you don't know what he's up to and you never find out.  Oh, that's good.  And vampires!  Shit, I almost forgot.  Put some vampires in there.  And gypsies.  And mental patients.  And an ancient order of werewolf hunters.  And telekinesis.  And boobs.  Don't forget boobs.  And everyone should be smoking constantly.  Everyone!"
Let's find out if any of the questions I posed in my previous Hemlock Grove post were answered.

1. What is the Ouroboros Project and what's inside that box? Why is it glowing? Is whatever is glowing in the box the same thing that makes Shelly glow?

I have no idea what the Ouroboros Project is, but I know what's in that glowing box.  It's the fetus from the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Glad to see he's still getting work.

I don't know why everybody's glowing and sparkling and shit.  At least Roman isn't sparkling.  Ugh, I couldn't handle more sparkly vampires.

2. What is Olivia anyway?

A vampire, I guess?  Forget it.

3. Did Roman impregnate his own cousin and then use his mind powers to convince her it was an angel that knocked her up? I think I'm right on this one. He is waaay too into his cousin.

Roman is the father of Letha's baby, but I think he had been enchanted by his mother to knock her up or something. I don't know why this coupling was so important to Olivia however.  In the end, Letha, Olivia and the baby are all dead, so, your guess is as good as mine.  (Note: Please do not waste any of your precious time attempting to make a guess.)

4. Also, why was Roman all Freddy Krueger-faced when he was born?

I don't know why, but Olivia ate all that weird shit off of his face after his birth.  Ew.

Oh, I almost forgot.  The evil werewolf killing everybody was Christina, a character I described in the last post as the "least interesting/necessary character."  I don't think it's ever a good idea when your mysterious killer is revealed to be the least compelling character on your show.  But who cares?  Hemlock Grove doesn't give a shit, so why should you?

I liked parts of Hemlock Grove, but the terrible acting, cheesy dialogue, meandering plot threads and deeply unsatisfying conclusion make it really difficult to recommend.  So, I won't.  

Final Grade: C-


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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hemlock Grove: 7 Episode Binge


I hadn't seen any reviews for Hemlock Grove anywhere, so this week I conducted what the kids call a "Google search," which is, quite literally, a search for something (anything you can imagine, really) on the internet search engine known, in most circles, as Google.  Specifically, I sought out whether or not my beloved AV Club had put in their proverbial two cents.  Turns out they had.  Turns out they'd given Hemlock Grove, the series, as I read enough of the review to see that the reviewer in question had viewed the the series to completion, a big, fat "F."

I'd already embarked upon a seven episode binge of Hemlock Grove and, in my head, adjusted my own initial grade of "D+" to, well, something else.  I already kind of had this post mapped out in my head as well.  So, in the spirit of fairness, to both Hemlock Grove and myself, I chose to hold off on reading the AV Club's review, not wanting to taint my own experience.  I will say I was pretty disappointed to see the "F," as I put a lot of trust in the opinions and come at the world of entertainment and pop culture from a similar viewpoint as  the AV Club's, but I can't say I didn't get it.  I mean, I watched the first two episodes and kind of hated Hemlock Grove.  I've seen nine episodes now, and I actually like it a lot.  Sorry?


I'm still annoyed by the bad acting and the constantly-shifting accents, but the story has its hooks in me deep, and I'm, for now, down for whatever Hemlock Grove wants to throw at me, even if that whatever is a pregnant werewolf in a derelict jail cell.

Since we last convened on the topic of Hemlock Grove, the follow events have occurred (on the show...just to be clear...):

--There is a new dead girl, this one missing the bottom half of her body.  Apparently this girl was a lot more popular than the first girl because literally no one (the police, the student body at Hemlock High, etc) seems to care about the first dead girl anymore.  Poor first dead girl.

--Christina (the least interesting/necessary character) went nuts after kissing said dead girl on the lips, so nuts, in fact, that after her first kiss with the boy she likes, she freaked out and tore his face apart.  

--Roman cut himself a lot with a razorblade, possibly raped a girl and then erased any memory of the assault from her mind with his weird, Jedi mind powers, and fell into a coma of self-discovery.  Also, the actor who portrays Roman, the impossibly handsome Bill Skarsgard, has started to forget he's playing a Pennsylvanian.  Keep a grip on that accent, son.

--Peter got likable.  I'm as surprised as you.

--Dr. Clementine Chausser, a Department of Fish and Wildlife agent/werewolf-slaying member of the Order of the Dragon, was introduced.  I like her.  

--Dr. Johann Pryce, a compellingly weird scientist who runs the Godfrey Institute and displays thrilling acts of what he calls "hysterical strength," has become a villainous character I greatly enjoy.

--All of Peter's cousin's shirts shrank in the wash.  Oh no!

None of that will mean anything to you if you haven't watched Hemlock Grove, but it should at least give you some idea of how incredibly weird this show is.  I don't know where it's going--I assume somewhere immensely disappointing judging from the AV Club's "F"--but I'm pretty psyched to find out.

I did have a theory as to who the murderer is (the lesbian teacher who has appeared exactly once, in the first episode), but I've come to realize this theory was both dumb and impossible.  I have a new idea, but I'm not going to share it just yet.  If I'm right, I'll let you know.  If I'm right, Hemlock Grove may be looking at another F, but right now, I'm giving Hemlock Grove a B-.  Now don't let me down.

Lingering mysteries:

1. What is the Ouroboros Project and what's inside that box?  Why is it glowing?  Is whatever is glowing in the box the same thing that makes Shelly glow?

2. What is Olivia anyway?  

3.  Did Roman impregnate his own cousin and then use his mind powers to convince her it was an angel that knocked her up?  I think I'm right on this one.  He is waaay too into his cousin.

4. Also, why was Roman all Freddy Krueger-faced when he was born?


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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hemlock Grove: 2 Episodes In

I've been a Netflix member for years.  I've stuck with Netflix through the dumb times and the stupid times, the asinine times and the 'they're-changing-what-now?' times.  And throughout those times, I've had very few complaints.  I guess what I'm trying to say without sounding like a paid advertisement for the Netfilx service although I'm totally open to that if someone from Netflix would like to contact me and get me on the payroll, is that I kind of love Netflix.

I am especially intrigued by this newfangled original series direction Netflix seems to be headed in.  Like any comedy nerd worth his novelty salt, I'm obviously excited for the fourth season of Arrested Development (May 26), and I've heard good things about House of Cards.  But it's Netflix other new show, Hemlock Grove, that I was looking forward to last week, not because I was a fan of the book, a book I didn't even know existed until Hemlock's opening credits, or any particular members of the cast, but because I'm pretty much always game to give a new horror series a try.  Also Eli Roth is involved and I liked Hostel or whatever.

Horror series typically vary in quality.  Some are great.  I am a big fan of AMC's The Walking Dead, mainly because of its great characters.  I like zombies all right too, but, I mean, what more can we do with zombies, really?  I'm hoping this summer's World War Z provides a satisfying end to the modern zombie craze and gives us all a much deserved break.  

And not for nothing, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of my favorite television shows of all time.  And I really enjoyed the first season of American Horror Story for all its campy and insane bullshit.

Some were great.  When True Blood premiered, I was all in.  It wasn't perfect, but there was enough weird, gory shit going on to keep me interested.  Then it kind of lost its way for a bit, leaving me feeling exasperated and betrayed.  Then I kind of imposed a trial separation period between the two of us.  Nothing permanent, I just needed some time apart to weigh my options.  Then it suddenly got very interested to me for a hot second.  Then I didn't care.  Then we dropped HBO from our cable plan because it was too expensive and we now had an extra mouth to feet and butt to diaper.  I find that I don't even think about True Blood anymore, nor do I care what's going on in Bons Temp.

And some are bad.  Hemlock Grove might just be bad.
I'm not ready to declare that definitively just yet however.  I am, after all, only 2 episodes in.  I guess that's one of the problems.  When I see the words "Eli Roth" and "new horror series" together, I instantly expect 13 episodes of something that I won't be able to pull myself away from. 

I watched the first episode ("Jellyfish in the Sky") Friday night, later than planned as I got inexplicably caught up in NBC's coverage of Boston Marathon bomber Suspect #2's boat stand-off (They got him though, so, yea!), telling myself, "I know you're tired, but you've got to be ready to go all night with this thing, Matt.  I mean, c'mon, how is this not going to be completely awesome?!?  Brew some coffee, because we are going to powerwatch the shit out of Hemlock Grove tonight, son!"

So, there I was with my fresh cup of coffee and my high expectations and then...

Meh. 

I hate writing that, but seriously, meh.  The episode ended and I didn't know how to proceed, Wii-mote pointed at the screen, the onscreen arrow hovering above the 'Play Episode 2' button.  In the end, I decided I'd get more enjoyment out of going to bed, and that bothered me a little.

What's Hemlock Grove about, you ask?  Well, that's the problem.  It's kind of about a lot of stuff, so much stuff, in fact, that it kind of feels like it's about nothing, and not in the fun, Emmy-winning way Seinfeld was.

Ostensibly it is about a high school girl who is brutally killed by an animal of some kind in the small, quirk-filled town of Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania.  It's sort of like Twin Peaks if Twin Peaks wasn't especially interesting.  But the dead high school girl is really the only thing Hemlock Grove has in common with David Lynch's classic, early 90's TV creep out.  Well, that and the fact that if Hemlock Grove was on network TV it would almost assuredly be canceled post haste.

Ugh.  I hate being so harsh, because I wanted to like this so much.  I just don't at this point.  I mean, sure, Hemlock Grove needs to have a little bit more than a dead girl mystery to make it stand apart from the Twin Peaks-s and The Killing-s of this world, so here's what it adds to the mix, and keep in mind that I've literally seen two episodes: 

A gypsy boy who is also a werewolf; the second-coming of every rich asshole character James Spader played in the 80's who possesses the Jedi-like ability to control people with his mind; a hulking, mute beast girl with a weird reptile eye on one side of her face and hands wrapped in gauze; a teacher/student secret lesbian affair; a virgin who has been impregnated by an angel; something about genetic experiments; and Famke Janssen speaking in a ridiculously bad British accent.

I'm going to keep watching Hemlock Grove because I want to find something to like in it.  So far, I do like Roman, the James Spader-clone I referenced above.  The actor is just as bad as everyone else, but at least his character is semi-interesting.  I feel like the show really wants its audience to love Peter, the gypsy/werewolf/quip machine, but I can't, in fact, that might be the very reason I hate him.

On the acting: I don't know if it's the actors or the writing that is the problem.  I'm not sure America's finest working actors could make this dialogue sound any better.  I'll lay off the actors for now.

As I continue to watch it, I sincerely hope this grade changes, but for now, I'm giving Hemlock Grove a solid D+




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Friday, April 19, 2013

Food Porn Friday: Burrito de la Ruleta from Plaza Azteca


Wednesday night, the ladies and I tried a new Mexican eatery in the area, Plaza Azteca.  Jen ordered the Enchiladas del Puerto, crammed with shrimp and crab and liberally covered with cheese sauce; Quinn got her standard Mexican meal (Spanish rice, refried beans and an entire bowl of guacamole to herself); and I had the pleasure of eating the beautiful object pictured above, the Burrito de la Ruleta.  I don't know what it means, but here's what it is:

One flour tortilla stuffed with grilled steak or chicken (I chose chicken), rice, beans and onions. Topped with cheese sauce, ranchero sauce and pico de gallo. Served with rice.

Sounds like a fairly basic burrito, right?  Well, it is, but the flavors in this thing were phenomenal.  I mean, this burrito was otherworldly.  I'm not convinced it wasn't stuffed with some kind of psychotropic spice or blessed by a shaman on its way out of the kitchen.  It was rich and creamy and insanely delicious.  It was so delicious, in fact, that I could not finish it, which if you know me and are familiar with how and what I eat, should floor you.  It floored me.  I was floored.  

I was also feeling the effects of this burrito long into the night, and I'm not talking about the way you're thinking (i.e. pooping).  Somehow, as my body digested the Burrito de la Ruleta, an intense, yet relaxing, wave of euphoria swept over me.  It was the closest I've come to a religious experience in a long time.  I FELL ASLEEP AT 8:30, DUDES!!!

Everything about the Burrito de la Ruleta is wonderful, but the very most specialist thing is that ranchero sauce.  And they know it, because they dole it out ultra-conservative-style.  They're all like, "The first taste is free, but if you want more, you'll have to come back again and again and again even."  I detected a heavy dose of cumin in Plaza Azteca's ranchero sauce and I'm pretty renowned around the Lawson house for having an excellent palate.  

And while I've got you here, I'll add that Jen's seafood enchiladas were also super delish.  I'm usually pretty leery about eating seafood at non-seafood-centric establishments, but the Enchiladas del Puerto were really sweet and really creamy and really tasty.  

I would love to tell you about the guacamole, but Q inhaled it before I could dip even one chip.  Next time.


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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Splash (Season 1, Episode 5)


I think we can all agree that this has been a pretty fucked up week so far.  Needless to say, I was not in the mood, or more accurately, I was even more not in the mood than usual, to watch tonight's installment of Splash.  But in the spirit of moving forward and refusing to let the terrorists win, I tuned in.  And wouldn't you know it, Louie Anderson was back, clad in an ill-fitting stars-n-stripes bathing costume.  Surely at the time of this episode's taping, no one was aware of  just how instrumental Louie's patriotic garb would be in the healing a weary nation.  Or maybe it just cheered me up a little.  Either way, God bless America.

Louie's return was made possible by the departure of Katherine Webb, who injured herself during last week's dive.  And, boy oh boy, did Louie pick one humdinger of an episode to return to.  Tonight's challenge (theme? goal?  whosit?) was to dive from the 10 meter platform...THE HIGHEST PLATFORM IN ALL OF EXISTENCE!!! (Not really, probably,)  That's three stories at 35 miles per hour, Jack!  And since Louie had been on stand-by, he was jumping in without the benefit of any practice whatsoever, which seems odd, since Webb explained that she had been experiencing shooting pains through her spine and legs all week.  The producers couldn't have let Louie get some dive time in just in case?

But Louie didn't need any practice.  Hell no!  Louie dove right into that pool, all 399 pounds of him.  It was pretty impressive, really.  I know I couldn't do it.  And so what if he looked like a lumpy bag of garbage falling into a pool.  He looked like a patriotic bag of garbage and, in the end, that's all that really mattered.

Here's what else happened:

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who told the producers of Splash before even signing on that he would not on any condition be jumping from the 10 meter platform, dove from the 10 meter platform and got hurt.  He was fine after a commercial break, but for a minute there, it was touch and go, or it would've been if you were someone who has never once watched any kind of reality competition show.  We call this "manufactured drama," and it's something that has been perfected and drastically overused since the very genesis of reality TV.  It's bullshit, but at least Kareem was all right.

2. Rory Bushfield talking about his dead wife sure brought the room down.  It was also the first genuine moment in this ridiculous show's history.  Rory's dive would've made his wife proud.  

3. Why is Steve Foley always compelled to announce Louie's weight in every damn episode?  We get it, man, Louie's fat.  Move on.

Wife Quote of the Night: Walking up momentarily: "What's Louie doing there?  Is this a nightmare?  Zzz-zzz-zzz."


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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Last 3 Movies: Creature/The Dunwich Horror/Wreck-It Ralph

I watch a lot of movies.  After every third movie I watch, I like to take a moment and reflect on those last three movies.  I do this in a feature I've decided to call Last 3 Movies.

[A quick apology: While reflecting upon and writing about the three movies included in today's post, I completely forgot that our 2nd Lawson Family Movie Night had fallen between my viewing of Creature and The Dunwich Horror.  We watched The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, which is a film that follows Sesame Street's Elmo on a quest to retrieve his stolen blankie from Mandy Patinkin.  It includes a scene featuring a farting chicken.  I don't know how I could've forgotten this shining gem of cinema when compiling this installment of Last 3 Movies, but I did, so, no Elmo in Grouchland.  I'm thinking about doing a Movie Penguin Monday for it sometime in the future.  Don't worry.  I won't deny you nice people my thoughts on the Elmo movie.  For now, let's all try to get past this.  I realize by leaving Elmo in Grouchland out of this post, I am essentially lying to all of you, and for that I am very sorry.]  
Film: Creature (1985)

Why did I watch this?: I dunno.

The viewing experience: Do you like Alien rip-offs?  Are you an insomnia sufferer who has yet to find a cure for your lonely, sleepless nights?  If you answered 'yes' to either or both of these questions, Creature may be the movie for you.

Look, I don't know why I do these things.  That's kind of a lie.  I do know.  I go into every obscure movie viewing experience hoping to discover something special.  I've had some successes (The Deadly Spawn; Tourist Trap; the "Dreamhouse" segment in Screamtime) and I've experienced some crushing defeats (I Can See You; the remaining segments in Screamtime).  Creature, unfortunately, falls squarely in the failure column.

This is another one I fell asleep to.  Why did I bother even finishing it, you ask?  I'm afraid I don't have an answer for you.  Wanna hear something crazy?  I didn't even finish watching Creature the next evening.  Nope, I waited almost a week to watch the second half.  You're right to shake your head and frown.  I'm an idiot.

Fun Fact: Wendy Schaal, the voice of Francine on American Dad, plays a major role in Creature.  It's fun to close your eyes whenever she speaks and imagine it's Francine.  Of course, in doing so, you run the risk of falling asleep.  Which I did.

This might be a reason to watch?  Maybe?: About 30-minutes in, Klaus Kinski pops up as a randy, marooned German astronaut.

Film: The Dunwich Horror (1970)

Why did I watch this?: I am a fan of both H.P. Lovecraft and Roger Corman.

The viewing experience:  I totally didn't fall asleep, guys!  I actually watched this one on a sunny Saturday afternoon rather than some ungodly hour on a weeknight.

The Dunwich Horror starts off pretty good, then slowly gets worse and worse.  Dean Stockwell is fun to watch as Wilbur Whateley, with his buggy eyes and his laid-back Satanic hippie routine, and Sandra Dee is easy on the eyes, but the movie loses its way once the titular "horror" is released.

Recommendation (The Dunwich Horror): Head to your local library and check out a book of Lovecraft's short stories.  "The Dunwich Horror" will probably be in it.  Read that.  It's tons better.

Recommendation (Dean Stockwell): Watch Blue Velvet.  He lip-syncs "In Dreams" into a flashlight.  It's fucking nuts!

Film: Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Why did I watch this?:  Family Movie Night #3

The viewing experience: Despite it's glaring lack of Elmo, the sole reason for her cruel dismissal of Toy Story 3 on our very first Family Movie Night, my daughter very much enjoyed Wreck-It Ralph.  And why wouldn't she?  The bright candy colors, the adorable characters, the fast-paced action, the hilarious hijinks: Wreck-It Ralph has it all.

Best of 2012?: If I'd seen it in time, Wreck-It Ralph would've taken the #2 spot on my Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2012 list, that's how much I loved this thing.  I recommend watching it as soon and as often as possible.

Memorable Quotes: "If you want to see Daddy cry at a cartoon, look over here right now."  --me, to my daughter while watching/sobbing during Wreck-It Ralph


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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Splash (Season 1, Episode 4)


It's Tuesday night!  Where my Splash-heads at?!?

I am shocked every single Wednesday morning when I log onto Yahoo for the latest news updates and see a story about Splash.  For instance, last Wednesday the phrase "Kendra Wilkinson quits" was one of the top five entries on Yahoo's "TRENDING NOW" list.  That was trending?!?  Where?  Somewhere other than the Wilkinson's house or this blog???  I guess I can't figure out who watches this abomination and why.  It is a terrible, terrible program, but not in a good way, like, McDonald's is terrible, terrible food.  Neither Splash nor a quarter pounder with cheese from McDonald's, offer any sort of healthy sustenance for one's mind or body, but at least the quarter pounder is fun to eat, especially with a side of fries and a large Hi-C Orange.  And probably some McNuggets.  If a small carton of chicken nuggets popped out of your TV set every time Splash went to a commercial break, then, maybe, I might be able to see the value in such a program.  Maybe.  Depends on what kind of dipping sauces I get to choose from.

Anyway, tonight was Somersault Night which meant, obviously, Louie Anderson was going home.  He did, but not before tumbling off a 20-foot diving platform like a Teddy Ruxpin that had just been kicked down the stairs by an unruly toddler.  It was, however, amazingly unfunny.  I've either matured since the start of this season or I'm too disgusted with what my life has become to care anymore.  Seriously, what kind of man man watches Splash, forces his wife to join him and then writes about it on the internet?

So, Louie is going home, Katherine continues to dive wearing fetish costumes, and Kareem remains freakishly tall.  That was the fourth episode of Splash, I guess.

Quote of the Night: "I can barely flip in bed."  -Louie Anderson, on how he felt about performing a somersault (That is so depressing.)

Wife Quote of the Night #1: On Katherine Webb's profoundly shitty dive: "She looked like an SVU victim being thrown into the channel."  (I'm not sure what channel she was referring to, but you get the idea.)

Wife Quote of the Night #2: Finishing host Joey Lawrence's sentence which began "So, who will go home tonight...": "The one in the giant bumblebee costume or the one in the sexy bathing suit?"

Splash-related Tweet of the Night: @GlobeEricWilbur "It all comes down to Louie Anderson." A phrase never uttered until tonight. #splash #forthetroops


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Sunday, April 7, 2013

100 Episodes I Love: #4. "Pal Joey" (Full House) (Season 2, Episode 15)


You guys, I think I may have just seen the most bonkers episode of Full House ever.  I don't know if I "loved" it, because, I mean, can anyone ever really say they've "loved" an episode of Full House?  I did have a strong reaction to it which was akin to love, but also to shock.  Maybe I should go ahead and just tell you about it.  That's typically what we do here at 100 Episodes I Love.  No reason to stop now.

In "Pal Joey," Jesse Katsopolis and Joey Gladstone have not only started working for an ad agency from their home (AKA Danny Tanner's home, AKA Joey's basement apartment in Danny Tanner's home) (for details, see Season 2, Episode 13 "Working Mothers"), but they've become closer friends.  This budding friendship threatens Danny, who makes a Saturday basketball date with Joey in order to fix what isn't in any way broken.  More on that following the synopsis.

Meanwhile, middle Tanner child, Stephanie, loses her boyfriend, Harry, to oldest Tanner child, DJ, after DJ teaches Harry how to subtract.  So, there's that.

On Saturday, Jesse interrupts Danny and Joey's weird one-on-one basketball game to invite Joey to an ad agency party, which angers Danny who pouts, takes his ball and leaves.  Joey and Jesse go to the party because a) it is important for work and b) they are adults with jobs and obligations.

When Jesse and Joey return from the party, Danny picks a fight with Joey, who is appropriately flabbergasted, and announces that they are no longer friends and that he is going to dig up some friendship capsule they buried at the elementary school where they first met in 1968.  We are treated to a flashback of this meeting, which I promise to get to in the post synopsis reflection portion of this post.

Back on the love triangle front, Uncle Jesse helps get Harry and Stephanie back together.  Problem solved.  

Danny and Joey dig up their prized childhood possessions (Danny's is a San Francisco Giants baseball cap; Joey's a book of insults) and realize they are being idiots.  They invite Jesse to become their "soul brother for life" (their words, man, not mine) and force him to bury his hair dryer.

OK.  So, that doesn't sound so weird, does it?  Well, it is.  Trust me.  Let's do this in list form.  Everybody likes a list.

1. The first scene in Joey's basement is batshit crazy.  Dave Coulier does a shitty Pee Wee Herman impression that repeatedly cracks John Stamos up; Michelle keeps answering the telephone to the idiotic delight of the studio audience; and every time anybody says the word "office," Coulier and Stamos throw their arms around each other and 'scream real loud, with Michelle joining in at the end, adding a horrifying mouth stretch and an extended tongue to the mix.  The scene is played fast and loose and threatens to careen off the tracks at any second.  There is an impressive bit of tongue-twistery wordplay when Jesse discusses "chocolate nutty chunk cookies" or whatever the shit with his boss, which the audience responds to with maniac glee.  "That had to be, like, the seventeenth take," I said to my wife, who I believe was asleep.  "That audience is relieved."

2. Danny's conduct is deplorable in "Pal Joey," and this makes the episode very offputting.  I'm assuming it was on purpose, but Danny's jealousy is really weird.  I mean, the fact that Danny does not seem to have any friends aside from Jesse and Joey, nor has made any since fifth grade, is strange.  And I don't want to turn this post into a series of "Danny totally wants to pork Joey" jokes, but, I think Danny totally wants to pork Joey.

3. Harry repeatedly refers to Stephanie as "Chief."  If it was explained, I missed it.  It was cute.  And weirder than shit!

4. After Harry breaks her heart, Stephanie moves out of the room she shares with DJ, and moves Michelle in.  HOW IN THE HELL IS THIS POSSIBLE?  Stephanie has somehow moved her bed out of the room and Michelle's crib into it without any assistance.  Michelle reveals that she doesn't even know how she got into DJ's room.  Weird.

5.  The flashback to Danny and Joey's meet cute is very telling.  Danny has apparently always been obsessed with cleanliness and being friendless, Joey has always had his "Cut. It. Out" thing, and Jesse (yep, Lil Jesse appears in the clip, chasing girls and growling "Have mercy" at a pretty teacher) has always been a ladies man of sorts.

6. Why is Joey Gladstone so obsessed with the state of Michigan?

There isn't really anything special about "Pal Joey" (well, there is one very funny moment, but I'll get to that in a second), but it's consistent weirdness makes it an episode worth checking out.

Moments I Love

An African-American student witnesses Lil Danny and Lil Joey performing their "soul brothers" handshake and shakes his head.
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I don't know if I described it well enough, but that basement scene is off-the-rails nuts.
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Harry: Hi, Stephanie. (To DJ)  Hi, Honey.


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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Springtime for idiots and imbeciles...

Yo, idiots, did you think you were safe just because we hadn't posted anything about your ilk recently? We here at Giant Electric Penguin have been diligently monitoring idiocy all over the world, but focusing mainly on the States and mostly on anything connected to the History Channel's The Bible miniseries.  One of our field reporters, the lovely and talented "List Lady," brought this story to our attention, and I think you'll agree that it features quite a specimen of blatant idiocy.

Idiot: Tyshekka Collier

What she did: Smacked the hell out of a sick child who was in no way related to her and then, after acknowledging the mistake and making amends, dropped her own progeny to the floor in front of school officials.

Spartanburg County sheriff's deputies say 36-year-old Tyshekka Collier went to Fairforest Middle School Wednesday morning to pick up her son. Principal Ty Dawkins called authorities after Collier walked into the office, mistook a boy for her son and slapped him in the face.

Dawkins said that boy was sick and had been waiting to be picked up.

Look, I don't advocate spanking, slapping or any other form of punishment that could slide very easily into the child abuse category if not regulated, but I understand Ms. Collier's frustration.  Her son was being suspended and she had to leave work or wherever to deal with it.  That's annoying.  But take a minute to make sure you recognize the child you are about to smack across the face before you, I don't know, smack a child across the face.  I mean, she must have barreled through the door like a hurricane made of slaps.  I'm surprised more people didn't get slapped.  The receptionist, the school nurse, the principal.  There is pure, undiluted anger at play when you can't even take a second to make sure you're hitting the correct child.  However, you probably shouldn't be hitting any children in the first place, so, you know, there is that.

Oh, but the story gets better, by which I mean worse.

...once Collier realized her mistake, she apologized, then walked over to her son and knocked him to the ground.

Collier was arrested and has had all three of her children taken away.  Guess you shouldn't slap your children around, huh?  You idiot!


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Thursday, April 4, 2013

100 Songs I Hate: The Songs That Made Me Turn My Back on the Radio (37-40)

In the latest installment of 100 Songs I Love, I casually mentioned that my brief love affair with Top 40 radio was over.  In today's installment of 100 Songs I Hate, I name names, and reveal the songs and artists responsible for my newly-re-minted hatred for the dark cloud of suck that is modern pop radio.  Join me in my public shaming of these terrible, terrible songs, won't you?

37. "Don't You Worry Child" (Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin)


First of all, their name is Swedish House Mafia.  That used to be enough to incur my unending hatred, but I'm older now, more mature, and I can look beyond stupid names and simply judge a band, or whatever Swedish House Mafia is, by its shitty music.  I like bands with names like Neutral Milk Hotel and Death Cab For Cutie, so I'm not going to be a dick and hate something because it's titled ridiculously.  But, c'mon, Swedish House Mafia?  The mafia kills people, guys.  How about a little respect for the millions (trillions?) murdered by the Italian mafia every year.

Secondly, the song itself is lame (the toothless lyrics, the hackneyed techno beats, etc), but fairly inoffensive.  Every other song on the radio sounds like this now.  It's the current trend apparently, so I'm not going to fault SHM for that.  They're making a cash grab.  And, hey, I enjoyed every other every-other song on the radio, with the similar bass drops and equally empty lyrics.

Wait.  Why do I hate this song again?  Oh, yeah.  I remember.  Every Top 40 station in my town thinks "Don't You Worry Child" is the only song in existence.  Try this experiment next time you're driving through the Triangle (The name given to the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area in North Carolina, for my out-of-state readers): turn your radio dial to any Top 40 station at any time during the day or year.  Is "Don't You Worry Child" playing?  It is?  I told you.

A note on the video: What a fun concert.  Did you see how Swedish House Mafia stood there and played records?  Neat.  (I say this as someone who has seen Moby live twice.)

38. "Scream & Shout (will.i.am featuring Britney Spears)


THIS ISN'T A SONG!  REALLY, GUYS, WHAT IS THIS???

Short answer: it's terrible.  I guess it's folly to expect more from these two luminaries of mediocrity, but you can't fault me for trying.  I mean, will.i.am and Britney Spears are, for better or worse, permanent fixtures in the music industry.  Certain people respect will.i.am for his producing abilities, and I don't know anything about anything when it comes to writing, recording and producing music, so I can't comment on whether or not this respect is justifiable or not, so I won't, but this song isn't a song.  It's nothing.  It's two moderately talented pop artists farting over boring beats downloaded from a free sound effects Web site.  "Scream & Shout" is dumb and bad, but it's biggest crime is being completely boring.

A note on the video: Britney Spears has never looked better.  Or sounded worse.

39. "Thrift Shop" (Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz)


Remember that experiment I had you do earlier?  Do it again.  If "Don't You Worry Child" isn't playing, it'll be "Thrift Shop."  Was I right?  OF COURSE I WAS!

Look, something happened when I was re-listening to "Thrift Shop" for this post.  I realized I didn't hate it for the original reasons I thought I did.  I get what Macklemore is talking about and I like it.  The song is funny, its got an interesting message about crass consumerism and bling-centric rap culture, and its not at all difficult to dance to.  I still don't like the song, but I get why people do.  It's really the radio's fault on this one.  This song is severely overplayed, but I can't stay mad at Macklemore.  Keep doing what you're doing, sir.

Honest admission: A big reason I didn't like this song at first was because everybody (people I like and respect, dummies I neither like nor respect, etc.) liked it, but then I realized that was hipster shit and I don't do that anymore.  See, I really grew up while writing this post.  You should all be very proud of me.

40. "Sweet Nothing" (Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch)


Listen, we've had a lot of fun bashing the popular hits responsible for twisting my love of Top 40 radio into a nightmarish hatred, but now it's time to get serious.  If I had to pick one song to label as the song that toppled my hastily constructed pop music love shrine (what?) and, basically, ruined the radio for me forever and ever until the end of time, it's Calvin Harris's "Sweet Nothing."  The combination of familiar beats, nonsensical lyrics, and its monopolization of the radio airwaves, puts "Sweet Nothing" on my short list of Worst Songs Ever.  I hate this song so much, and I'm genuinely sorry that Florence Welch had to get pulled into it.  I've never heard a Florence + the Machine song all the way through (They were on an episode of Gossip Girl that I barely remember and I think the William McKinley High School glee club performed one of their songs), but my sister likes them and they probably aren't all that bad.  I actually asked my sister, a radio listener who has not yet soured on the medium, if "Sweet Nothing" sounded anything like Florence + the Machine's output and she responded with a hearty, "Not at all."  So, that's good to know.

This song is the worst.

Things I've said when "Sweet Nothing" has come on the radio:  These are direct quotes from a recent road trip I took with my wife and daughter.  We were on our way home from New Jersey, we had just driven through a freak snowstorm, and me and my wife were scanning the radio dial for anything that would keep us awake.  One station seemed promising and then "Sweet Nothing" came on:

--"If I have to hear ["Sweet Nothing"] one more time, I'll puke my face off."

--"I would rather sit through an entire Maroon 5 concert than listen to ["Sweet Nothing"] ever again."


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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Splash (Season 1, Episode 3)


"One thing I don't do is quit."

And with that, Kendra Wilkinson quit Splash.

Guess what, everybody?  Splash has made it to three episodes!  I'm as shocked and saddened as you are.  Probably more!  But as long as Louie Anderson is on TV diving into a pool, you better believe I'll be there.

In my opinion, Louie's lucky Kendra broke her one important life rule and left the pool tonight, because there was no way he and Kareem weren't going to be at the bottom and there was no way he was going to beat Kareem in a dive off.  So, while I'll miss Kendra's whining, sobbing, irrational hatred for Greg Lougainis and poop announcements, I'm happy Louie gets to stick around for another week.  After all, next week is Flip Week.  Flip Week, people!

I don't have much to say about tonight's team diving competition.  Drake Bell and Katherine Webb performed a dive called The Javelin that was legitimately nerve-wracking, but everything else was pretty vanilla and boring.  That is until judge David Boudia and Greg Louganis revealed they were wearing tear-away clothing!  Man, oh, man, did things in the Splash arena heat up after that.  Things got so hot, I thought Joey Lawrence's plastic hair was going to melt all over his dumb, vacant face.

Here's a very quick rundown of what happened tonight:

1. Louie wore yet another swimming outfit from the Guy Fieri Diving Collection.  Hey, if this ridiculous show gets a second season, can we get Guy Fieri to throw himself off of a diving platform for our amusement?  

2. They replayed Nicole Eggert's tumble from last week 2 TIMES tonight!  Can we keep that up for as long as possible, please???

3. Watching Greg Louganis fake his way through an answer to Joey Lawrence's stupid "why'd you team these particular people up with one another?" question was the highlight of tonight's broadcast for me.  Maybe write things for these dummies to say.

4.  Joey Lawrence loves jokes about European women's facial hair!

5.  Hey, look, Lawrence's Melissa & Joey co-star, Melissa Joan Hart, is in the audience tonight!  Who gives a shit?

6.  These tailor-made theme songs have got to stop.  Team Mom's theme song was neverending!

Quote of the Night: "Ride 'em, cowboy!  Woo!"  --Joey Lawrence, apropos of nothing

Wife Quote of the Night: On David Boudia's Speedo: "Could they have given Drake Bell a smaller Speedo?  That is obscene!" 


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