Archive for tv

Postcards from Inside My Head

Posted in Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream) with tags , , , , , on June 2, 2008 by tigereye

I’ve got a few things I want to write about, but frankly, the past two weeks have mainly consisted of two things: migraines and work. Work has been OK; in order to avoid whining I won’t go into the migraines, except to say I’m really, really tired of this.

So, without any theme for the day, here are a few things I’ve read and heard and watched and done recently, in the hopes that someone else will find them interesting and read/listen to/watch one of them, and maybe your life will be changed for the better. Or maybe you’ll just be entertained for a few hours. Better keep those expectations low.

 Danielia Cotton.  I discovered her thanks to NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, which has exposed me to so much terrible music over the past few weeks, I was going to sleep through it again, but then this amazing voice woke me up and made me write down the artist’s name. Danielia Cotton is a rock singer who reminds me of Tina Turner or Aretha Franklin singing over the Black Crowes’ music. The album NPR featured was Rare Child, which was phenomenal — not a bad track on it, which never happens anymore. Her first album, Small White Town, is almost as good. Not only does her voice knock me out and her music speaks to my raised-on-classic-rock soul, she’s a heartfelt lyricist too: I don’t think anyone’s talked to my heart like she does since I first discovered Gigi Dover or the Indigo Girls. I like her so much that when I Googled her and came across a snarky review, I wanted to crawl through my monitor to celebritycafe.com or wherever the hell it was posted and personally hit the “writer” in the mouth. Check her out. She rules. At this point, she’s far ahead of everybody else as being my Best Musical Find of the Year.

Duffy. OK, she’s no Danielia Cotton, but she’s pretty damn good. This is evidently going to be the Year of the Female Singer, which is fine by me. Duffy is a tiny little Brit chick with a voice the size of Aretha’s (hi again, Aretha — I promise this will be the last time I drag you into anything today) and a really cool Motown-ish sound to her music. Her album, Rockferry, isn’t as strong as either of Cotton’s, but then I doubt anything else is going to be, and anyway Rockferry isn’t at all bad, just a little first-album-ish in places.

Jill Tracy. She’s not new, even to me — I should explain. One of my major fixations is NPR’s Music from the Hearts of Space, which produces a one-hour show every week of ambient/post-new age music, and a few years back their Halloween show featured this haunting singer, accompanied mostly by solo piano. She had an otherworldly voice that sounded like she was channeling Marlene Dietrich’s cabaret act. Well, a couple of weeks ago, my friend Little Fluffy Cat sent me a YouTube video accompanied by… that same singer. I took it as a sign and hied myself right off to iTunes. Jill Tracy isn’t as accessible as the two women mentioned above, but she’s absolutely lovely to put on at night, when you’re reading a good book, the cat’s dozing in your lap, and maybe there’s a glass of good white wine beside you and a storm brewing outside… If any of this sounds appealing, give her a try. (For anyone who hasn’t seen me pimp Hearts of Space yet, by the way, its site is www.hos.com and I can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone who loves trance-y, floating ambient music.)

 Iron Man. I only went to this because I was bored and I’d done nothing but work for three days straight and needed a break, and I’ve always been a Robert Downey Jr. fan. This movie blew me away. In fact, it approached my personal Gold Standard of superhero flicks, the first two Superman movies, which nothing has equaled in almost 30 years. It was hilarious in places, it had an amazing supporting cast (Terrence Howard, I am so in love with you… and I didn’t even mutter “Oh for God’s sake” when annoying Gwyneth Paltrow showed up), it was action-packed and the special effects were appropriately awesome without being distracting. I should also point out, I always read DC comics instead of Marvel, so all I knew about Iron Man was, well, nothing. I’m probably going to see this again right after I find out what Indiana Jones has been up to lately. I should also add that I’d like Iron Man to show up and bitch-slap the entire cast of Sex and the City.

Born Free, by Joy Adamson. I’ve always loved the story of Elsa the lioness, raised by humans and returned to the wild, and recently I came across my copy of the book and realized I’d never read it. It’s terrific: most naturalists, especially before the ’90s or so, bogged down their interesting stories in dry prose, but Joy Adamson tells the story of raising the lioness with the same matter-of-factness that I’d use when explaining how my cat lost his leg, and it’s very friendly and accessible. There are two sequels that deal with Elsa after she went back to the wild; I just found both of them, used and beaten to hell, on Amazon, and if they’re as good as the first book I’ll let y’all know.

Indian Killer, by Sherman Alexie. I read this about eight years ago and can’t put it down now, even though I know how it ends. Like Hearts of Space, I really can’t possibly praise Alexie enough — he’s Spokane Indian and writes beautifully and movingly and furiously at times about Indians, although in interviews he’s one of the jolliest people I’ve ever heard. This is a novel about an Indian raised by a white couple, mentally ill and conflicted about his heritage; a white writer who desperately tries to convince himself he’s an Indian; and a serial killer, identity unknown, who begins stalking white people. The end of this book will give you the same delicious chill you get from the very best Stephen King. (I’d also recommend two story collections by Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and The Toughest Indian in the World.)

And finally, The Closer. It’s not back on TNT yet — it starts in July — but come on, network people, I’m ready for it NOW. Lost is over, Good Eats is in perpetual reruns, and there’s only so much Countdown with Keith Olbermann I can watch without having a stroke.

So that’s it — lots of good music, a fantastic movie, and two books. If any of you test-drive any of these recs, let me know how you liked ’em, and I’ll be back shortly with more to say, because as you know, I always have more to say.

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Joe Blow Eats at the Green Cottage: What the Hell?

Posted in Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream) with tags , , , , , , on February 27, 2008 by tigereye

I’ve been exposed to far, far more daytime television than is good for me during this stint of unemployment. While I’ve successfully avoided soap operas, there have been a few casualties: I’m now a sometime watcher of the “Today” show, God help me, and I’m hooked on “Meerkat Manor” since the “ER” reruns have gone into the show’s boring, original cast-less years.

Another casualty is exposure to commercials.

There’s this lawyer — in this case, the term “ambulance chaser” would not be an inaccuracy — who advertises liberally during “Today,” and it seems every morning, while I wait for Ann Curry to give me the news, I’m faced with this guy. He’s technically an insurance chaser more than an ambulance guy. He stands in front of a backdrop with his firm’s logo printed on it, exhorting anyone who’s ever stubbed a toe at work or caused a small accident while drunk to call him. That’s fair enough: it’s what they all do. I imagine the kind of law schools that would accept these guys (and by the way, why are all the men so, uh, generously sized? Maybe they should literally chase a few ambulances) have classes on how to shill in front of a camera.

But what interests me is the fine print.

One morning last week I read the fine print under the “Joe Blow Law Firm” logo, and was, frankly, intrigued. Among the usual required information, like where to find his office and what states have licensed him, is the following sentence, apropos of nothing: “Joe Blow enjoys eating at the Green Cottage.”

(It’s not really the Green Cottage. It’s a cheap-ass steak house. But if Joe Blow enjoys eating there, I’ll be nice so I don’t get sued.)

I’ll say it again, ’cause it’s freaky: “Joe Blow enjoys eating at the Green Cottage.”

Now, this was not your average everyday fine print.

I’ve been trying to figure this out ever since, because now it’s all I watch for on his ads, buried early on in the fine print beneath Joe Blow’s ample gut. Is he advertising for the Green Cottage? Does he own stock? Maybe he’s being evicted from his office and wants to give potential clients a heads-up: Hey, if the office tells you I’m at lunch, you can find me here! I don’t know what it means, and it’s driving me crazy. I can’t find anyone else who has a better idea, either. Did he win a lawsuit for the Green Cottage? Did he lose a bet with them?

Can anyone out there shed some light on this? I want the Joe Blow business explained before I have to go to work and concentrate on, you know, anything important.

Keith Olbermann, I Love You

Posted in Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream) with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2008 by tigereye

It took her over a year, but my friend Laura kept sending me transcripts of Keith Olbermann’s editorial pieces on his MSNBC show, “Countdown,” and she’s finally done it. There’s been a breakthrough, folks. Keith has just jumped over several people who are lined up in my head for me to carouse with. He’s passed Colin Farrell, Will Smith, and Dean Winters completely, ending up behind Joe Perry of Aerosmith (who has the coveted #1 spot in line) and just barely ahead of Bill Clinton.

I’m a complicated person. I like strange people.

Anyway, Olbermann…

I’ve been clicking onto MSNBC a lot lately, mostly at 8 o’clock when Food Network’s “Good Eats” is a rerun (will they ever have a new season?). Watching Olbermann is a lot like I imagine it would’ve been to have a crush on one of my professors. He’s older than me, although not prohibitively so, and clearly smart as hell, and I love the way his eyes almost twinkle behind those strangely attractive glasses, like he’s got the infectious good cheer of Santa Claus. I could use some infectious good cheer — it’s an election year and I’m already chewing my nails down to the skin.

And he goes off on diatribes that make me downright jealous.

I rant fairly well, thankyouverymuch, but Keith puts me to shame. That great voice is part of it — my vague southern accent often serves to soften whatever it is I’m saying, even if it’s “I’ll shoot your sorry ass if you don’t get the hell out of here.”* Also, Olbermann’s voice picks up speed as he goes on, like the words are just building and building inside his chest and he has to get rid of them NOW.

I’m kind of surprised that MSNBC lets him go off on the kind of rants he does. The man has no use for the Fool-in-Chief or his suckups, yes-men, cronies, “advisers,” or anyone else who mouths kind or excusing platitudes about our current president. He also has some kind of ongoing feud with Bill O’Reilly, and I gotta tell ya, if I were O’Reilly I’d drop it, because you’re not going to win. Bill O’Reilly is neither bright enough nor eloquent enough to mount anything like a defense against someone like Olbermann, yet he keeps trying to pick these fights, like the neighborhood bully yelling at the other kids while hiding behind his daddy’s legs. He can’t win. Why doesn’t he just go home and play with his loofah collection?

Last night, with the heading “SPECIAL COMMENT” onscreen beside him (MSNBC was taking no chances here), Olbermann took George W. Bush’s latest foolishness apart for a fascinating 5 or 6 minutes, calling him out on his incessant shrill yapping about “this good bill” and “we are still in danger” and the need for AT&T to keep my phone (I am a proud and registered Democrat, which is about all it takes) jacked into some poor bastard’s monitor. The fact that I almost feel sorry for any schmuck who has to listen to me making hair color appointments or dithering with John about recipes seen on “Good Eats” (even the reruns) doesn’t change the fact that the leader of this country is about as interested in keeping it free as I’m interested in going on paying nearly $3 a gallon for gas so some Exxon exec can buy another fucking Jaguar. Olbermann called him out with information I’m just too lazy to string together into a rant, because who would listen? (I don’t get nearly as much traffic here when I go political, although it doesn’t seem to stop me.) He came right out and called the wiretapping a fascist tactic — I bet there are more wires jacked into Olbermann’s phone lines than there are on a phone sex business — and called Bush out for fearmongering. Called it contemptible. Laid into the man, and his grandstanding fellow party members in Congress, for suggesting that terrorists were coming for us if this bill didn’t pass with the provisions he wanted in it.

You know what this reminds me of?, and I half-waited for Olbermann to say this too — it’s like Oral Roberts, twenty years ago, telling the entire damned country that he’d die if he didn’t get more money. Bush is just as shameless. Everyone who’s looked up from their PlayStation once or twice during the past 7 years knows if the man had done his job well enough to scan an FBI report, the World Trade Centers might still be standing, and that he’s used the nation’s greatest tragedy to slap down every civil liberty he can get his nose-picking little fingers on.

And Olbermann is clearly just as disgusted with this as I am, and he has a TV show on which he can stand up and say it.

This alone is proof that GWB hasn’t managed to stamp out every civil liberty yet, or at least hasn’t been able to reach every cable network yet to remold it into Fox Lite. It’s a little bit of relief at the end of a long day of being threatened by my president and repeating myself over my clicking phone. There aren’t a lot of people I’d trust to speak for me, but my new man, Keith Olbermann, is clearly one of them.

*This may or may not have been something I’ve actually said. You’ll just have to wonder.

Fever Dreams in the Twilight Zone

Posted in Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2007 by tigereye

I’m still sick. Alert the media.

This sucks, because I’ve got a kitchen full of medications that don’t work very well individually, but I’m warned that if I combine them, my liver will crawl out of my body through my nose and officially resign. It’s still tempting. I’ve mixed meds before and lived to tell the tale, but then again that was when I was in college, and was younger, dumber, braver, and drunker; it was probably my one free pass.

All I can do when I feel this miserable is feel sorry for myself and stare numbly into space, and there’s nothing like cable for staring into space AT something, so I’ve spent the whole day watching the SciFi Channel’s marathon-of-the-day. I got lucky today: it was “The Twilight Zone,” which is easily my favorite SciFi offering, slightly ahead of “The X-Files.”

There’s something about “Twilight Zone” that’s just perfectly suited to sickness and fever and the kind of apathy that parks your ass in front of a TV screen in the first place. You see the show’s same favorite actors over and over, in different costumes, with different accents: Burgess Meredith, Jack Klugman, William Shatner, that blonde actress who I know is somebody but I can never catch her name in the credits because the SciFi Channel crunches them down to a fraction of the screen in order to advertise… more “Twilight Zone.” I’ve started wondering if Klugman actually did any non-“Zone” work before he grew up to become the “Quincy” of my childhood. Ditto for Burgess Meredith, who went on to become Mickey and got paid to call Sylvester Stallone a bum, which is a good gig for anybody.

Today’s shows were the one-hour “Zone” episodes, which are never as good as the half-hour shows to me. An hour just takes too long to build and ends too abruptly; the ending that leaps out at you at the end of thirty minutes loses some of its punch over an hour’s buildup. There was the one with the title I didn’t catch, about the museum guide who takes home the “Murderers’ Row” wax dummies of Jack the Ripper and other famous killers, only to become so obsessed with their maintenance that he joins them in the end. Well, duh. Even feverish I could see this coming. Did we really need the whole interlude with his wife’s suspicious brother? All that was left to imagination was the last frame, when he’s immortalized among them at another museum later on. (Sorry if I just ruined this episode for anybody, although “Zone” usually makes me feel like I’m the only person alive who’s never seen every episode sixteen times.)

I got up and took some cough syrup and damned the instructions and took some Excedrin with them, and parked in front of the TV again, this time switching my allegiance over to Animal Planet, where I scored big. I caught them on what must have unofficially been Big Cat Afternoon, and watched swimming lions and cheetahs speeding in slow motion, ignoring the slight ringing in my ears, which I could barely hear over one ear being stopped up by this cold anyway. I watched jaguars slinking through the South American jungle and thought about how the whole afternoon had become a long fever dream about spotted cats, coughing fits, and Allstate ads. I caught another favorite “Zone” that featured Julie Newmar as the devil, fitting nicely into my semihallucinatory state.

I hope this isn’t how I spend Thanksgiving Day, knocking back cough syrup shooters and throat drops over at John’s family’s house and then rejoining everyone in the living room to watch the Lions/Packers game. On the other hand, I’m kind of curious to see what overmedicating myself might do for the Macy’s parade. I’ve always wanted a giant Snoopy balloon.