Monday, September 8 2003

Big food

A relatively constant factor in my life is the weekend gaming/cooking session with friends. We have a large stable of entertaining games from companies like Cheapass, Steve Jackson, and (pre-Hasbro) Wizards of the Coast, and an Xbox or two. The recipes come from a variety of sources, including my still-under-construction online cookbook, built from assorted MasterCook-format archives.

This weekend was at my place, which gave me an excuse to do some massive house-cleaning and show off my newly-completed landscaping. Since I had so much cleaning work to do, I insisted that the meal should be relatively simple, which meant steaks.

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Thursday, December 25 2003

A Stargate Christmas

Stargate, the movie. Not what most people would think of as a typical Christmas Eve film, but I’m a bit burned out on anime after the ending of Mahoromatic (although I didn’t feel nearly as betrayed as Steven Den Beste, partially because I’d read the spoilers and they were even worse than the reality. But I digress). After polishing off my traditional Christmas dinner (pizza with pepperoni, onion, green peppers, and extra cheese, with a $20 tip for the delivery driver), I went through my piles of DVDs and picked this one.

Stargate holds a special place in my heart as one of the most godawful big budget science fiction films ever made. Magnificent visuals, but plot holes you could drive a truck through. I am constantly amazed that the producers of SG-1 managed to salvage a mostly coherent backstory out of this turkey.

It was quite a remarkable feat, really. They didn’t just keep the visuals and the names, they managed to use almost every element of the story, jettisoning only the most ludicrous aspects, and subtly tweaked what they kept. Better still, their new material fit in almost seamlessly, creating a rich universe ripe for exploration.

The biggest achievement of SG-1, however, was that it hit the ground running. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another SF series where the actors slipped into character so quickly and believably, and did things that made sense. Even with the occasional weak episode, the on-and-off casting, the rare slip into handwaved technobabble, and the Sci-Fi Channel’s habit of jerking the schedule around, it’s one of the few tv shows I actually look forward to.

I sort of follow Smallville (the first time in history that Lex Luthor has actually had a personality!). I mostly follow Angel (where do they find those women?!?). I usually watch Good Eats. I never miss Stargate: SG-1.

I’m told that the producers of the Stargate film felt horribly betrayed when MGM turned the property over to the people who developed SG-1. They wanted to make a feature-film sequel, taking the story in a completely different direction. To that, I can only say, “thank you, MGM”. I can’t shake the feeling that their sequel would have had all the charm of a flashback to the planet Zeist.

[much like the final episode of Mahoromatic; guess I can’t stop that digression after all. I suspect I’ll be gathering and extending the comments I’ve been exchanging with Steven on this one; I think I can beat his 5700 words and explain why I initially told him that the last five episodes “didn’t suck” :-)]

Monday, February 2 2004

SuperBowl Scandal

After reviewing the highlights of the game (which, for me, were the few good commercials), I used my DishPlayer to hunt for the Justin-strips-Janet scene that’s getting lots of negative attention today.

When we originally watched it, it looked very deliberate. If we hadn’t had the volume muted, the fact that his last words were “…gonna have you naked by the end of this song” would have supported that impression.

Watching it again, though, I’m convinced that Justin’s grab-and-yank was actually intended to remove the rest of her costume, leaving the bra intact. He just grabbed a little higher than he had during rehearsals.

The clincher was seeing the still photos that make it clear that she wasn’t wearing pasties. It was a nipple shield, held on by a piercing, not something the FCC would be happy to see.

I figure that by tomorrow, every fetish shop on the planet will be advertising “Janet’s Sunburst”.

Update: The official word from Janet’s fetishist, er, publicist is that it was in fact the bra cup that was supposed to tear off, but the red lace was supposed to stay behind, covering the breast. She also claims that it was set up after final rehearsals, without the knowledge of MTV or CBS.

Update: Sure enough, sales of nipple shields, and the piercings to wear them with, have gone way up.

Wednesday, February 4 2004

“I disbelieve”

The more they try to explain it away, the harder it is to swallow:

Freston, whose company produced the halftime show for CBS, said Timberlake was informed of the stunt just moments before he took the stage with Jackson.

Thursday, February 19 2004

A week with Neilsen

I’ve spent the past week filling in my Neilsen Ratings diary. It’s been interesting to actually participate in the numbers that have shaped television programming for so many years.

The basic system is simple: for every fifteen minutes that each TV in your house is on, write in the channel it was tuned to, the show that was on, and who (if anyone) was watching. I live alone and didn’t have any guests this week, so it was pretty easy.

What was difficult was dealing with the fact that Neilsen hasn’t caught up with the times. For several years, I’ve had a Dish Network DishPlayer, which has PVR functionality. Like TiVO and Replay, this box completely changes the way you watch television. You no longer care when the station chooses to air a show, and with your favorite programs regularly recorded to disk, you spend less time watching random crap.

Neilsen’s diary can’t cope with this. There’s a single page at the back that lets you write in up to ten programs that you recorded on a VCR or DVD-R, but that’s ten for the entire week. I recorded only 26 different shows last week, and that’s primarily because it was a dull week and I had a lot of anime DVDs to catch up on. And it doesn’t account for the shows that I’d normally save up for a few weeks and then watch all at once.

It was easy for them to add DVD-R recorders to their data, because it fits in with the model they understand: time-shifting as the exception, not the rule. As PVRs increase in popularity, Neilsen runs the risk of becoming irrelevant, and TiVo’s much-hyped ability to count how many people “rewound” to check out Janet Jackson’s nipple shield is not a replacement. TiVo’s data gathering, like WebTV’s before it, is missing the critical data: the number and demographic breakdown of the people watching.

Tuesday, March 16 2004

Note to the writers of Stargate: SG-1

Yes, yes, Kinsey is a villain composed of equal parts pure evil and arrogant condescension. We get it already, okay? Could you please drop the Snidely Whiplash act and get on with the story now? Yeesh.

Monday, February 28 2005

Believe it or not…

I picked up the DVD box of the first season of The Greatest American Hero, and watched the two-hour pilot episode Saturday night with some friends. It held up surprisingly well. Dated as it is in many ways, the acting was at least as good as in most TV pilots, and there’s some great humor, the product of good writers working with actors who “got it”.

I have vague-but-fond memories of the series, and if the rest of the set lives up to the pilot, it should keep me happy until the Hogan’s Heroes box comes out in a few weeks…

Friday, August 19 2005

Spam that almost works…

Got three of these today so far:

Subject: Best prices for complete Thundercats and more
Subject: Sabrina the Teenage Witch DVD giveaway
Subject: Whole series of transformers on dvd

They’re selling bootlegs, obviously, but there were no concealed URLs, no viral attachments, no embedded images. For junk mail, they’re positively wholesome; the closest thing to obnoxious porn was that they listed “The Nanny” as an available series…

Thursday, January 31 2008

Cheese-stuffed cheese in a light cheese sauce, with a side order of cheesy bread, and for dessert a cheese-dipped cheesecake

Um, wow. Shin Cyborg Shibata, starring the members of Melon Kinenbi. I may have to buy both DVDs.

[Update: Warning! Do not exceed recommended dosage. Excessive viewing could prove fatal.]

Tuesday, July 15 2008

Oh, yeah, I’m buying it

Birds of Prey, on DVD. This is worth it just to ogle Dina Meyer. The storyline was cheese, but considering the quality of the actresses involved, it was smoked cheese. Astonishing that it took this long to reach DVD; there was a time when the words “Mia Sara shower scene” would have been enough to justify an immediate extended unrated multi-angle director’s cut box set.

Thursday, June 11 2009

The problem with “Letterman’s rape joke”…

…is that he never made one. In all the outraged coverage of the incident, you think someone would have bothered to mention that little nugget of information.

I watched the clip everyone’s linking to. He made a joke that implied that a player for the Yankees (who is good-looking, quite successful, and has been caught fooling around in the past) left the field in the middle of the game and had sex with Sarah Palin’s daughter. The exact words were “her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez”. Not a single word about rape, and, in fact, one could easily reverse the outrage by pointing out that these people are insisting that sex between a light-skinned female and a dark-skinned male must be rape.

Letterman and his writers obviously thought they were talking about Palin’s adult daughter, an unwed mother who was knocked up by an athlete. They’re guilty of being too lazy to check which daughter attended the game, or perhaps of not even knowing that there was another daughter. But that’s all.

If you happened to know (as Letterman and his equally-clueless writers obviously did not) that the daughter at the game was 14 years old, you could interpret it as a statutory rape joke, but I haven’t seen anyone say that. Unless something’s been edited out of the clip (and I got it from a site that was feeling the rage), there’s just no rape in this “rape joke”.

Sunday, September 6 2009

Dear Erika Yazawa,

(updated with Youtube embed, which actually works…)

You’re a very cute, very busty, quite popular, just-turned-18 member of a popular idol group, with numerous sexy photobooks and DVDs to your credit, and this is how they’re advancing your career? You’re not kidding? This is not a parody trailer?

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Wednesday, December 11 2013

Agents of R.E.E.K.

The Agents of SHIELD series has been weak from the start, with actors not fitting into roles, characters not coming together as a team, and second-rate stories being told badly. And after taking a week off, they came back this week to show us that they knew how to make it worse.

I can’t even count how many ways this episode sucked. Most of the actors looked like they were playing their characters for the first time, reading their emotions off of conveniently-placed sticky notes. And whoever was responsible for Coulson’s green-screen driving scene should be banned from the industry for life. Was there anyone on set that day watching him frantically jerk the steering wheel like he’s riding out a storm on the high seas, while the projected background has him driving in a straight line down a perfectly uncluttered suburban street?

And there was nothing about any scene that involved flower-dress-evil-chick that wasn’t stupid from scalp to ankle.

Worse, the preview for their triumphant return in January made this episode look good by comparison.

Wednesday, April 9 2014

What we did before the Internet…

Friday, October 10 2014

Ranking the modern Doctors

  1. Eccleston
  2. Tennant
  3. Hurt
  4. Smith
  5. Morrissey
  6. Capaldi

Wednesday, November 5 2014

Peter’s Progress

(Capaldi, that is)

Early in this season of Doctor Who, those of us who found the reality not living up to the hype were scolded for leaping to conclusions without adequate evidence. Also reminding us that Smith had some real stinkers his first season.

Well, we’ve now got 11 episodes, and for the third week in a row, it’s Wednesday and I still haven’t gotten around to watching the latest one yet. In fact, it wasn’t until just now that I checked my Amazon account and realized that I was behind; I still thought the tree thing was current.

I’m still watching Doctor Who. In fact, I’ve watched five episodes in the past week: Aliens of London, World War Three, Dalek, The Empty Child, and The Doctor Dances. I’m just not the least bit impressed with this season. Capaldi has had a few moments where he really felt like the Doctor, but most of the time, it’s not working for me.

[Update: finally watched 11. Missy was just as annoying as her teaser appearances promised, and the Big Reveal elicited only a small groan of pain]

[Update: watched 12 last night. Reaction: meh. Seriously, that’s what they spent the entire season building up to, with Clara’s love life and the Doctor’s assholiness and Missy? Lame as fuck, and they don’t get a pass for referencing the Brigadier, especially after Osgood.]

Sunday, October 11 2015

Dear Doctor Who,

1. Last week’s odd soliloquy worked as part of the teaser, but was dropped into the actual episode with all the grace of a flaming bag of manure.

2. This week’s fourth-wall-breaking was… jarring, to be kind. Vaguely condescending as well, which would be fine if it were Doctor-to-companion rather than writer-to-audience.

3. Hey, at least Missy didn’t show up.

Friday, October 30 2015

Sexism in Heroes Reborn

Belatedly, it occurs to me that in last week’s episode of Heroes, Emily was chicksplaining comic books to Tommy. I feel triggered! Start a protest march!

Tuesday, December 1 2015


What I’ve been watching recently, more or less:

Doctor Who
Better than last season, mostly due to the relative lack of Missy. The high point for me was coming up with a decent way to bring back Osgood and tie into the excellent 50th-anniversary special. The most recent episode, however, left me nodding off repeatedly due to the laconic pace, and the whole Louie Punch solution was… “disappointing”. The one before that was only notable for a tediously drawn-out gratuitous death scene, and the special-effects animation in Clara’s bra.
Heroes Reloaded
Frequently whiny and borderline incoherent (due in part to the expectation that of course everyone watched the web-only mini-episodes featuring the loser whose name I can never remember), the nicest thing I can say about it is that the often-dead female cast is quite attractive when they’re not trying to look fierce. Or dead.
   I never had a big investment in Heroes after the writer’s strike took the show down, but I agree with the critics who’ve been saying that they still think the things they pioneered in season one are fresh, rather than tired clich├ęs overused by everyone else since then. The Japanese dialog has been quite odd in places, with only a loose relationship to the English subtitles, and often seems to be at the wrong level of politeness. Also, the whole meet-cute between Miko and Ren felt like they left out about an episode’s worth of interaction.
   On a related note, Kiki Sukezane can actually do a decent fight scene …in her demo reel on IMDB; the stuff they had her doing for most of the season was utter crap by comparison. (her training is in Tate, a school of dramatic stage fencing, which doesn’t seem compatible with how they staged her fights)
Agents of SHIELD
I originally dumped this during the train episode in season 1, then used the wiki to catch up because people told me it got better. The current season started off with a major emphasis on Daisy’s bustline, and even managed to get Gemma stripped down and pushed up. Oh, and there’s some kind of story involving the outbreak of Inhumans; I’m two episodes behind at the moment. Doesn’t suck, but I hope they wrap up the “rival agencies” crap soon.
The Librarians
They ran a marathon of season one a while back, so I whimsically set my DVR to record it. Quite good, actually, and the only thing I actually watch as soon as a new episode shows up.
Man In The High Castle
Watched the pilot when it came out, loved it. Watched the second episode when it came out, loved it. Haven’t sat down and watched the rest yet, but expecting to love them.
I’m still a full season behind, but that one’s now free on Amazon Prime, so I’ll catch up soon. I’m completely in love with Rosalie, of course.
My DVR failed to record episode one, but I happened to catch the second one. Wasn’t as good as the original teaser trailer promised, but I’ll try to record the inevitable reruns and catch up some time.

Thursday, January 7 2016

Agent Carter

Thanks to Christmas and my Amazon wishlist, I finally got to see the Agent Carter series. My DVR had skipped the first episode, and I never got around to watching it any other way, so the Bluray went onto my list. Well worth it, and now I can watch season two in two weeks.

…unless my DVR flakes out, of course.

Monday, August 22 2016

A Spooon! in every pot

The pilot for Amazon’s new The Tick series is pretty good. I hope it gets a full season. Vote Tick; the only sane option in 2016.

Tuesday, September 27 2016


Coming next year, a full season of The Tick on Amazon. The pilot episode was a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to more.