Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Day After the Day After Thanksgiving!

I've been thinking about traditions recently. The good, the bad, and the tradition for the sake of tradition. When I was a kid, Thanksgiving meant the whole extended family would get together at my grandmother's house or my uncle's house. We'd watch football and make small talk with cousins that I got to see only a few times a year. We'd gorge ourselves on turkey and stuffing, then fall asleep on the couch watching more football. Then we'd wake up and have pie. Then we'd wrap up a plate of leftovers with foil and go home and call it a day. But now that I'm an adult, getting the extended family together is much more difficult. I've got a family of my own now, complete with inlaws, and so does my sister. So now we all kind of do our own think and maybe we get together for dessert or something. So some traditions stay, like the turkey and the stuffing, and others go. I would have thought that I would miss those other traditions, but I really don't. It turns out that making new traditions is just as fun.

Case in point. I didn't watch any football on Thanksgiving at all. For a couple reasons. One, my Eagles weren't playing, so I really didn't care about any of the other games. And watching a football game that you don't care about with a room full of uncles and cousins is one thing, watching it alone is boring. Plus, I'm tired of watching the Lions and the Cowboys play every year. That's definitely one tradition that can end. And no, I didn't watch the parade either. I partook in a new holiday tradition. The holiday cable TV marathon.

TVLand had a "Brady Bunch" marathon. A&E had a "First 48" marathon. The Travel Channel had a "_____ Paradise" marathon (Donut Paradise, Deep Fried Paradise, Steak Paradise, etc.) And the one that I settled in with, Discovery Channel had a "Mythbusters" marathon. So I spent my Turkey day watching Adam and Jaime blow shit up. So what did you guys do?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fairly Topical Movie Review: "Paranormal Activity"

So every once in a while I do manage to see a newer movie, one that’s still out in theaters. Sometimes it’s even a grown-up movie, as opposed to the ones I take my daughter to see. And while I’m sure that all of the five-year-olds in my reading audience would love to hear my thoughts on “Partly Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs”, this week I thought I’d bring you all up to speed on “Paranormal Activity”. As I’m sure you’ve heard, “Paranormal Activity” has become the most profitable movie of all time, since it only cost $11,000 to make. Americans love a success story, almost as much as they like getting scared.

Meet Micah and Katie. Micah is a day trader, and apparently a pretty good one considering the house they live in and their very large television. Katie is a student and has been experiencing paranormal activity since she was young. One of them is an asshole, and the other is an idiot. I’ll let you decide which is which. They decide to setup a camera in their bedroom to catch some of the shenanigans and goings on. Some lights go on and off, some doors move on their own, and that’s what passes for scares in the first half of the movie. During the daylight hours, Micah follows Katie around with the camera and the two argue. And argue. And argue. Oh boy do they argue. This movie is about 90% arguing and around 10% scares. Micah antagonizes the spirit (whatever it is), some weird shit happens, Katie yells at Micah that the camera isn’t helping (though why it was supposed to is never really made clear), escalate and repeat. There are a few genuinely creepy moments and a couple of scares, but most of the movie is spent waiting for something to happen. That’s why I think there are so many audience reaction shots in the trailer. They set up the tension so thick that the audience ends up jumping and screaming to nothing more then loud thumps.

I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that I think it works. Is it enough of a payoff to justify and hour and a half of watching a couple fight and some doors open, I guess that’s up to you. Here are a few things that I think they could have done to make the movie better:

At the end, the camera turns to reveal Jason Vorhees, who then puts a machete through the two leads’ heads.

When they are running through the first floor of their house at night, chasing phantom noises, Heather Donohue should run through their kitchen and scream JOSH!

Ashton Kutcher shows up at their door and tells them that they’re being punk’d. Then he pulls of his mask to reveal that he’s really M. Night Shyamalan. He says “What a twist!”, and then he puts a machete through the two leads’ heads.

My Netflix Rating: Three out of Five Stars

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It Used to be About the Food, MAN!

Remember when MTV used to be about the music? Yeah, me neither. What about SyFy, remember when they were all about Sci-Fi and spelling things correctly? Crazy, I know. All cable stations seem to start out focused on some niche market, and as soon as they become popular, they completely abandon it. Why? Because popularity means viewers, and viewers mean sponsors, and sponsors mean money, and money means more money and the desire for more money, and that means making sure that the network has the broadest appeal possible. So now we have no music on MTV, wrestling on SyFy, and reality shows EVERYWHERE! So what, you may say. This is hardly new, why talk about it now? Because I’m starting to see the effects of this phenomenon on one of my favorite channels, and once something affects me personally it then becomes important.

I can’t be the only one who watches the Food Network, right? I mean, it’s statistically impossible. The whole point of this trend is that it happens to networks that become too popular. The personalities are so famous now that they’re getting network shows and national endorsement deals. So why does no one else I talk to ever admit to watching it? Why do people think it’s so weird whenever I watch it? Is it some kind of guilty pleasure thing that I’m just too stupid to feel guilty about? My point is, the Food Network used to be about the food (MAAAAAN!!!!). And for the most part, it still is, but I can see the signs. First there was “The Next Food Network Star”, and then there was “Ace of Cakes” and “The Next Iron Chef” and “Dinner Impossible”. They were easy to avoid at first, but they’re multiplying. But I think none of these shows illustrates my point and shows the progression of the trend better than “Food Network Challenge”.

“Food Network Challenge” started its life by televising actual cooking competitions, ones that existed with or without the Food Network. It was interesting for all the reasons that reality TV is supposed to be interesting and yet never is, because it was real. Real real, not ‘Flavor of Love’ real. And then they started making their own challenges, which was fine. Most of these involved chocolate or sugar sculptures. Then they realized that people liked it when the sugar sculptures would break. It was dramatic, it was heart-wrenching, it was other people’s pain on display, which is exactly what reality TV is all about. So they made them carry their pieces to the judging table. And when that didn’t result in enough broken pieces, they made them carry it through an obstacle course. Okay, a little much but I can put up with it. I think the turning point for me was when they started doing the judging American Idol style, in front of the audience and the contestant in question, complete with snarky comments and soul-crushing cruelty.

The last one was a Simpsons cake challenge, for the twentieth anniversary of the show. And for an additional degree of difficulty, each cake artist was paired with a Simpsons super-fan as an assistant, who knew nothing about making cakes (or more accurately, the sculptures that are made out of cake that these shows create). And then they brought in Yeardley Smith, who knows nothing about cakes, to pick the winner. This isn’t even a legitimate competition anymore, it’s just a series of situations that are designed to make people have a nervous breakdown on television for our viewing pleasure.

This may seem like a lot of complaining over nothing, and mostly it is. My point is simply this: Everything does not need to be turned into a reality show! Every menial profession, every vapid celebutant, every has been or Z-list celebrity with nothing going on, and every moron on the street who wants to be famous without having to actually do anything to earn it DOES NOT NEED A TELEVISION SHOW REVOLVING AROUND THEM! We’re becoming a society of voyeurs and exhibitionists, of narcissists indulging in cruelty and classism, worshipping the false idols and equating fame with success instead of any kind of actual achievement. I know it seems harmless, but it’s bad for us, and we all need to stop.

And for all of those people who enjoy these shows ironically, you’re only encouraging them.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Opie & Anthony Clip O' The Week

In this clip the boys suggest alternate plot lines for the Sex and the City movie, to bring the guys on board too. Enjoy.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Now that Halloween is over, the following is a list of words that I never want to hear again.


Okay, the last one doesn't have anything to do with Halloween, but I still don't like it. Please comply with this request or I shall be forced to use violence. That is all.