Monday, June 27, 2011

Man-Crush Island: Things just got Crushier

I know, you’ve been waiting with bated breath. You’ve probably even had time to look up what bated breath even means. Without further ado:

4. Nathan Fillion

Nathan Fillion is one of those actors that are so likable, I’ll see most anything that he’s in. Even when he plays jerks, idiots, cowboys, adulterers, narcissists and murderers, he’s still likable. I’d say that Nathan could take over the world, but he can’t even keep a tv show from being cancelled, so he probably can’t.

Runners up for Nathan’s spot: Joss Whedon, David Borneanaz.

5. Jemaine Clement

Jemaine may be riding Bowie’s coattails, as he’s been known to do a pretty spot-on impersonation. He never fails to crack me up. I’m pretty deadpan, but Jemaine’s deadpan is just immaculate. He’s not the most versatile actor on the planet, but range isn’t really a requirement for my man-crushes.

Runners up for Jemaine’s spot: Bret McKenzie, Rhys Darby, Noel Fielding.

6. Michael Palin

John Cleese is the most famous alumnus from Monty Python. And honestly, he probably makes me laugh the most. But who would I rather be hang out with? Michael Palin. He’s a world traveler. He’s a team player. He’s hilarious in his own right.

Runners up for Michael’s spot: Cleese, Idle, Jones, Gilliam

More next time.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Skills to the pay the bills

A couple of weeks ago, after performing Albi the Racist Dragon, I was talking to an associate. She said to me “It’s impressive you went as far as you did [in the competition] considering you didn’t really have a talent.”

I think this was a compliment, that could have been seen as an insult, but in either case it was food for thought: what is a talent?

What she meant was that I didn’t play the piano, or know how to do tricks with a jump rope. But neither of these are really talents. These are skills, and skills that lend themselves to public performance (the piano more so than the jump rope.) And it is true that I didn’t demonstrate a skill, nor do I have one that lends itself to performance.

Talent, to me, is inherent. It is being good at something without having specialized training. Sure, you can increase your proficiency with training, but there should be some spark to start with.

Skill, is something that you’ve trained yourself to do. It’s a set of capabilities, built over time. Maybe you were talented to start, maybe you weren’t. But through effort and education you’ve become capable of doing something others generally aren’t.

The winner of the talent competition played the piano, and played it very well. And one of the judges made the point during her scoring that after that performance, he could have any lady in the audience. This struck me as odd.

Do I find piano playing attractive? No. I think I value the ability to play the piano as much as the next person, but I don’t find it attractive. I don’t find guitar playing attractive either, but I see its seductive appeal more than playing the piano.

I’m not bashing on the piano, or the piano player winning the competition. That’s fine. I just came to realize that I don’t find talent attractive. If talent is inherent, it’s hardly praiseworthy. Should we praise someone for being tall? For being of Romanian decent? No, they didn’t do those things. They were born that way. We can be more attracted to blonde hair or attached earlobes or nimble fingers, but they’re not praiseworthy.

Skill though, is praiseworthy. But even though I value skill, and the dedication and drive it represents, I don’t think I’m inherently attracted to it either. I’ve dated musicians, artists, athletes and academics. It wasn’t their skill set that I found attractive. It was their passion. Sure, a passion in taxidermy may not be attractive. But generally, I value that the girl is interested and invested in something, but the actual focus of her effort is often inconsequential.

Someone asked me the other day what I was passionate about. I didn’t have a good answer. Dragons I said. The fact that this was my answer, and that I didn’t have a better one, are likely part of my problem. And not my problem losing talent competitions.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A quick trip to South Africa

I can't remember if I posted this previously. In fact, I can't quite remember why I made it. A blow to the head? It must have been for school since half the pictures are in the hospital. Anyway, here it is.

Monday, June 20, 2011


What a poseur I am. Here I am, listing off books, music, movies and television for you to better your life. When, in fact, I have gaping gaps in my pop culture education. This situation requires rectification.

My list of books to read posted previously should help me on the way to literary literacy. But what of film? Left to my own devices, I tend to veer into cult cinema. A movie being interesting is often more rewarding to me than it being good. So I’ve seen Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Repoman and Eraserhead, but have never seen The Godfather. Here are 10 films that I haven’t seen, that I will see, some time in the near future. Maybe by the end of the summer. Or maybe by the time I’m 50. I don’t want to strain myself.

1. The Godfather (And Part II, I can’t make any promises about III.)
2. Casablanca (I’ve seen bits, but never more than 5 minutes at a time)
3. Raging Bull
4. Annie Hall (I’ve seen other Woody, but never this defining film)
5. Top Gun (yes, I see the jump in quality from previous entries)
6. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
7. Amelie
8. The Graduate
9. Seven Samurai
10. Reservoir Dogs

My rock snobbery is also a bit of a lie. A fib at least. This summer I will also be listening to these 8 groups to help better round out my musical education. I certainly know some songs from each, but don’t know nearly enough to consider myself well versed.

1. The Rolling Stones
2. The Who
3. Led Zepplin
4. Pink Floyd
5. The Velvet Underground
6. Simon and Garfunkel
7. The Grateful Dead
8. Iggy and the Stooges

I’m open to comments from the peanut gallery. But hopefully I’ve successfully tricked you over the years into thinking I knew about movies and music so you wouldn’t know of any other lapses in my education. I’ll let you know how summer school goes.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A barrage of reviews of sundry things

Edge of Glory music video – I like it. I wasn’t a huge fan of Judas, but Born This Way actually grew on me. I think it was a wise step for Lady Gaga to dial back the crazy for a minute, and this is the pleasant result.

Born This Way album – I’m not feeling it so much. I think that I rely on Lady Gaga’s visuals to make her fully enjoyable. To some extent this is true for all female vocalists, but doubly so for Gaga. The songs are fine, but the presentation is the important thing.

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues – Their first album didn’t wow me, but I like this one more. I have to be in the mood, but when I am, it hits the spot.

Submarine – I thought this movie was the bee’s knees. I missed a special preview because I was on call, so was glad that it returned to the local art theater. I think the director is hilarious (Richard Ayoade, Moss from I.T. Crowd) so I was interested to see if a hilarious person would direct a hilarious movie. Hilarious is the wrong word, as it’s a dramedy, but it was quite funny. It’s a borrows a fair bit from Harold and Maude, Rushmore, Garden State, Napoleon Dynamite and various other quirk-classics, but these are good sources to borrow from. All in all, very enjoyable.

The Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss. This book was a page-turner in it’s own right, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the first book in the trilogy. It felt overly long, often getting bogged down on side trips that were enjoyable, but felt like they were treading water. So good, but not great.

True Blood – Season 2. Not as good as season 1, but still fairly addictive.

Bob’s Burgers – it’s a cartoon sitcom, so I’m automatically on board. H. Jon Benjamin is good, as always. But what really makes the show are Eugene Mirman and Kristen Schaal as his kids. Sometimes I couldn’t even tell why it was funny, it just was.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Not quite timely

If you think that LeBron James is a douchebag, you're not alone. And you're probably right. And it's your fault.

How can you expect someone to NOT be a pompous arrogant narcissist when you provide this kind of ego fuel?


How can you not be completely detached from reality, believing yourself to be that important?

To address my bias, I am whatever the opposite of a sports enthusiast is. But I am willing to admit that participating in sports makes people healthy and anectodally at least can help promote values. Watching sports can be an enjoyable past time, and provides a worthwhile ocassion for you to gather with your friends and family. Professional sports are a big bloated mess of misappropriated money, attention and acclaim.

Putting a ball through a hoop does not actually help humanity. It doesn't matter. LeBron James is less important to society than any other gainfully employed individual in America. I guess you can say he's more valuable than people than are actively detrimental to society (career criminals, lobbyists, serial rapists, insert-joke-profession-here) in that he is only not helping rather than hurting people. But at the end of the day, he's someone that gets to do a leisure activity all day long. How much should we pay someone who performs a leisure activity all day? The answer: enough to keep them from starving, if anything.

So Cleveland, yes, he was a douche. But he was a douche because you stuffed his head and wallet so full he couldn't help but be one. Care less about sports and you'd have more respectable athletes.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Here's the latest in my Conchords tribute series. It's the first Conchords song I heard, back in July 2007. It didn't lend itself to a public performance as well as my previous numbers, but I'm glad I worked something out.

The performance turned out well. We had hid jelly beans (aka dragon tears) under the chairs in the audience, but unfortunately the MC made a joke about hiding things under the chairs so people found the beans before the act started. But otherwise, no major snafus.

We hadn't counted on a non-YSA judge. Our 2 peers gave us 9s, but the elder statesman was going to give us a 6, but at least bumped it to a 7 due to crowd response. But he did call the act one of the weirdest things he'd ever seen, and something that would terrorize any child, so I'll take that as a 10.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Time of the Week When I Rank Things: Adult Swim

I’ve been watching some odd television lately. I happened across someone that liked The Mighty Boosh, which has only happened one other time in my life. So we’ve been watching that, and Snuffbox. I’ve been watching a bit of Wilfred, a show soon to be imported to the US. And while I’d be hard-pressed to say I’ve been culturing myself, I think there’s something to be said for experiencing intentionally novel, unique and bizarre things. Today I’m going to rank some of my favorite bizarre shows, that have been conveniently compiled into Adult Swim.

I’m not always a fan of avant-garde comedy. As much as I admire Andy Kaufman, I don’t necessarily laugh at his bits. But Adult Swim is just the right mix of highbrow, lowbrow, bizarre and sublime. But even saying that, I don’t like a lot of their programming. Squidbillies? No thanks. I’m only a lukewarm fan of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, one of their most successful enterprises. But below I’ve listed my Top 10 from Adult Swim. Every entry here would bear the warning “Most people won’t like this, but some people will love it.” And that’s the programming I most enjoy.

1. Space Ghost: Coast to Coast

Why do I love this show? I’m not sure. The pacing is often poor. The visuals are atrocious. But it’s got just the right mix of nostalgia and post-modern flair that cracks me up to this day. No one I’ve ever shown it to has liked it other than my two best friends when I was 13, but we loved it. And that’s enough.

2. Sealab 2021/Frisky Dingo/Archer

A bit of a cheat, since these are 3 entirely different shows, and one of them isn’t even on Adult Swim, it’s on FX. But it’s the same humor and it’s out of this world. Frisky Dingo is like Arrested Development, only dirtier, more esoteric and with superheroes. Sealab 2021 was my friend litmus test for several years. Archer is the new kid on the block, but it often makes me laugh with single words of dialogue, like a character saying “Danger-zone.”


For the most part, Adult Swim gets anime shows years after they’ve hit it big, so I’ve seen them and already given them a thumbs up or thumbs down. FLCL came out of nowhere, and remains a favorite of mine. To people that complain about Inception being confusing, I invite you to try FLCL. It’s extremely confusing, but extremely stylish and very rewarding.

4. The Venture Brothers

This was a strange one because I hated the first couple episodes and left it alone for years. A Johnny Quest knockoff? Who wants to watch that? Turns out, me. This show is hilarious. It doesn’t have machine-gun rate jokes like other comedies on this list, but it’s just resoundingly clever. It’s a spoof of a pastiche of an homage of a knockoff. It’s got a gigantic cast of bizarre, endearing characters. It’s got David Bowie. It’s great.

5. Home Movies

I used to watch this show every Sunday night with a group of friends, and the socializing is part of the enjoyment. It’s a much kinder, gentler show than many on this list. But it’s definitely a quality contribution to animated television, especially to squigglevision.

6. Children’s Hospital

I’ve never actually watched this show on Cartoon Network. I first came across it on the internet, but then Adult Swim saw the same gem I saw and snatched it up. Your jaw will drop with the number of funny people crammed into one show. Then it will drop again by the horrible things they say. And then maybe you’ll start laughing.

7. Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!/ Tom Goes to the Mayor

I think I may have posted about this before, but TaEASGJ is the strangest television show I have ever seen. And if you can think of a strange show that I haven’t watched, hats off to you. But truly, the amount of talent required to make this show this weird is breathtaking.

8. Samurai Champloo

This is from the same group that made Cowboy Bebop, one of the greats of anime. It’s not as good as Bebop, but it’s close. And it has samurais and ninjas and rap music and flying squirrels. It’s a success.

9. Robot Chicken

The 12 minutes of each RC episode flies by like 12 seconds. They cut from joke to joke so quickly, you may not register your laugh until the episode is over. And honestly, at least half the jokes are obvious, sophomoric or just uninspired. But the episode goes so quickly, that you’ll get back to a funny joke before you can groan. If you need a show to test your nerd knowledge, this is a good place to start.

10. Paranoia Agent

Considered by some the masterwork of Satoshi Kon, this show is a trip. I realize that 99.5% of you don’t know who Satoshi Kon is, but trust me, he’s talented. And this show demonstrates the complex stories possible on television if you let a talented guy run wild.

Honorable mentions:
Shows that are very entertaining, which have aired on Adult Swim, but which I watched elsewhere:

Cowboy Bebop
The Mighty Boosh
Family Guy
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Death Note

Friday, June 03, 2011


When I have multiple projects to do, I tend to not do any of them. My projects currently running are:

Star Search performance tomorrow -including costume, AV presentation, and debating how much I want to offend the audience.

Thailand Travelogue - I haven't written much about my trip on the old blog, because I'm writing a little book.

Thailand Movie - I'm making little slideshows of the pictures.

These projects have sapped my creative energy (which is finite) and left my blog a bit bereft. If this has had a detrimental effect on your well being, your well being isn't doing very well.

I haven't seen a movie in the theater in many months, so I'm greatly behind. I still need to see Sucker Punch, Thor, Bridesmaids, Hangover II and X-Men First Class. But you don't need my help finding any of those films. Some that you might not have heard of, but that I think are going to be varying degrees of good and entertaining include:

The Beaver

The Trip


Also, Insidious, Midnight in Paris and The Immortals.