I posted my final cartoon making fun of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on Friday. (I don’t usually post new cartoons on a Friday, but I was running one day behind last week.) If you missed it, just check out the Archived Comics page!
See you back here tomorrow…… [continued]
I remember the first time I heard a George Carlin album. It was when I was 13, spending my summers (as I always did, and still do!) at Camp Ramah in New England. Someone in my bunk had a cassette tape with a short routine: Carlin’s classic “seven words you can’t say on television.”
I laughed, and thought the bit was clever. But it was the next summer, back at camp, when I really became a Carlin devotee. Someone (was it the same kid? Or someone else? This I cannot recall) had brought another George Carlin routine on tape. This wasn’t just a bit, this was an entire hour-long album. (Years later I found out that this was the album entitled “What Am I Doing in New Jersey?”)
Something about that recording grabbed fiercly ahold of my 14-year-old mind. And I wasn’t the only one, because my entire bunk spent that whole summer listening to that album over and over again. There’s a bit in there about ways to respond to a cop if you’re pulled over for a speeding ticket that turned into a catch phrase for the bunch of us. (Carlin to the imaginary cop: “Say…aren’t you a public servant? Get me a glass of water!”) To this day I can recite fairly substantial bits of that album verbatim.
I made a copy of that tape that summer (it was probably already a copy of a copy), that I took home with me. (I remember begging my parents to play it in the car on the drive home, and then being embarassed by how raunchy it was!) I still have that tape, and every now and again I bust it out and give it a listen. I still laugh at the things I laughed at when I was 14 (“The Civil War. How can you have a Civil War? ‘Say, pardon me — BAMBAMBAMBAM!”) and also at a lot of things that I know went way over my head back then (like the lengthy bit about the Reagan Administration that kicks off the album).
Over the years I have voraciously devoured all the Carlin material I could get my hands on. I’ve got a ton of his comedy specials taped off of TV…a number of CDs, even a couple of his books. They way he could mix astounding vulgarity with brilliant insights on language and the ridiculous human capacity for bullshit always kept me coming back (even as his routines seemed to get more and more angry and less and less funny over the past ten years). He was a genius. And he was damned funny.
That cop routine from “What Am I Doing in New Jersey” ended … [continued]
First of all, sorry for no new cartoon today! Slight technical difficulties. I’ll be posting it tomorrow — a rare Friday post!
But as Bill Cosby says (in the greatest stand-up performance ever committed to film, Bill Cosby Himself), that’s not what I came here to talk to you about.
So the other week I re-watched The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Aside from having a title that makes Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull appear to be the very embodiment of brevity, I was never a big fan of the huge Narnia film. If the magnificent Lord of The Rings trilogy had never been made, I think I might think higher of the film…but coming after those films, to me the first Narnia picture was just a pale reflection. There was some fun to be had, for sure, but for the most part I found it way too simplistic and made-for-kids. That’s not a bad thing, just means it didn’t really appeal to me.
But with the sequel out in theatres, and getting pretty decent reviews, I figured it’d be worthwhile to re-watch the 1st one. I have the type of personality that pretty much demands that I rewatch the 1st movie before seeing the sequel, so that its fresh in my mind (even though I’m quite sure comprehension of the sequel does NOT hinge upon a recent viewing of the first one!). I also wondered if my feelings about the first film would change upon a repeat viewing.
Well, they didn’t really.
But what I found myself thinking about as I re-watched The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, were all sorts of questions I had about the world of Narnia that the film presented.
What exactly is the back-story? How did Aslan ever lose control over Narnia? Where did he vanish to for a hundred years? How was the White Witch able to shroud Narnia in a perpetual winter, and what exactly happened during the course of the movie that caused her winter to fail?
Why did Aslan choose this moment to return?
What exactly was the deal behind the prophecy about the four Pevensie children? Who gave that prophecy? Why exactly were those 4 kids necessary for Aslan to defeat the Witch? Why couldn’t Narnia be free until they arrived?
How did the magical Wardrobe come to be in the posession of the Professor? The film seemed to imply that he’d been to Narnia before, or at least that he knew of it. What was his connection to Narnia? Did he somehow stop being able to enter Narnia once he grew older, or something like that?… [continued]
I have been (and always shall be) a die-hard Star Trek Fan. But this past decade has been a rough time to be a Star Trek Fan. The last two Star Trek TV series have been terrible (Star Trek: Voyager) and mediocre (Star Trek: Enterprise). The last two Star Trek movies have been mediocre (1998′s Star Trek: Insurrection) and terrible (2002′s Star Trek: Nemesis). There is a new hope (ahem) on the horizon with J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek
relaunch scheduled for next summer, but that’s a long ways away.
These days Star Trek seems to be, in many ways, dead dead dead. My
sci-fi passions are fueled by other shows like the amazing Battlestar Galactica and the late lamented Firefly. But this past weekend, while working on a variety of illustration projects, I popped my DVD set of Star Trek: The Next Generation season 3 into my player. And while drawing and painting away, I proceeded to tear through the entire season. What a magnificent season of science-fiction, and of television period. My goodness I had forgotten.
These episodes originally aired in 1989-90. This was a groundbreaking season for Next Gen. For the first two years, the show had struggled to find its footing. It was popular, but the quality of the episodes were wildly uneven. The writing staff went through constant upheavals. But in Season 3, a talented writer named Michael Piller took over as the show-runner, and proceded to do two important things. One, he re-focused the show on the CHARACTERS. Two, he brought on board a number of incredibly talented writers who would proceed to guide the Star Trek franchise for many successful years to come. These include Ronald D. Moore (who, post-Trek, would go on to create and run the new Battlestar Galactica), Rene Echevarria (The 4400), Jeri Taylor, Brannon Bragga, and many others.
What’s incredible about Next Gen‘s season 3, looking back on it, is just how well it holds up today (as opposed to, say, season 1, which today I find to be pretty much unwatchable). Here are just a sampling of the greatness of this season:
Yesterday’s Enterprise — The Enterprise C travels to the future and accidentally changes history, creating a tme-line where the Federation and the Klingons are locked in bitter, unending war. And Tasha Yar dies again. Time travel has become a much over-used TV sci-fi device, but this dark tale is one of the best.
The Offspring — The android Data takes it upon himself to create a child. Haunting and poignant, its a classic.
Deja Q — The omnipotent Q loses his powers and … [continued]
Every now and then a great, cancelled-before-its-time TV show earns a magical second chance. My favorite recent example of this is the staggeringly underrated Futurama. This wonderfully bizarre and hysterical show, created by Matt Groening, was cancelled back in 2005, but it was revived last year for four direct-to-DVD movies. The first, Bender’s Big Score, came out this past November. The second, The Beast With a Billion Backs, is nearly upon us. Check out the trailer:
If you don’t know what the twist of the story is going to be from the DVD’s title, the last line of the trailer spells things out pretty clearly.
In other news, the creator of the Pringles can died last month, and was buried in…oh yes, a Pringles can. Could I make that up?
Finally, in sad news, Alexander Courage died last week. He was a tremendously talented film composer and arranger…but his most famous work was probably writing the theme to the original Star Trek series. There aren’t too many pieces of music more iconic. What a giant. More information on his life and work can be found here:
That’s all for me for today!… [continued]
Well, its been a somewhat bizarre strike-interrupted TV season. The most exciting new program I watched this year was The Wire which, as I’ve mentioned in this blog before, is what got me through the months-long writers strike. But there was still a lot of fun TV-watching to be had, and these past few weeks of season finales was no different.
30 Rock — In a show that has had no shortage of terrific scene-stealing guest-stars, Matthew Broderick’s appearance as “Cooter” (so nicknamed by President Bush) was one for the books. Jenna’s concept of “backdoor bragging” as well as the explanation as to the cause of Liz’s pregnancy scare were also highlights. A hilarious end to a terrific season.
The Office — Speaking of guest-stars, The Wire‘s Amy Ryan was absolutely terrific as Toby’s replacement, and the genius notion of her thinking Kevin has “special needs” had me howling with laughter. I was a bit put off by the somewhat glum Jim-Pam story, which seemed like a bit of a transparent way to extend their courtship…but that was somewhat redeemed by Andy Bernard (Ed Helms)’s antics as well as Angela’s perfectly-played response to his proposal. “I SAID OK!”
Scrubs — This imaginary fairy tale was pretty terrible, sadly. I can’t totally blame the show’s creators, as NBC made the poor decision to run the episode out of sequence (the show was meant to have taken place earlier in the season), resulting in such oddities as Bob Kelso still working at Sacred Heart despite his having left earlier in the season. Guess NBC assumed that we stupid TV viewiers wouldn’t notice. Still, I can’t imagine this episode would have seemed much funnier even in its proper spot in the season.
Lost – While not quite on par with last season’s phenomenal flash-forwarding season-ender (“we have to go BACK!”), this was a very solid ending to what has been, in my opinion, the best season of Lost since the first. We got some definitive answers to some burning questions (Why is the island so hard to keep track of? Who was in the coffin we saw in last season’s finale?), while also lots of new questions were posed — specifically, about what has transpired in the 3 years since the Oceanic Six were rescued…and about if/how they’ll be able to get back to the island as Ben wants them to. It was a particular kick seeing Walt again — I only wish his scene with Hurley had been longer. Hopefully we’ll see him again next season. I was pretty convinced it was going to be Ben in that coffin…but I was intrigued by the person it was. Can’t wait for next … [continued]