If you read only one blog full of ranting and raving about sports (local and otherwise), movies, TV shows, miscellaneous pop culture, life and other assorted flotsam and jetsam, make it this one!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Weeks In TV, BTW...

I've decided to stop those weekly summaries of my TV viewing. Besides the fact that it's not like there's a huge audience hanging on my every word, I can't figure out a way to make it consistent. Do I go into huge detail about characters and plots and such? If I did that I'd have to take notes while watching. Also, it would be a pretty brief post when shows are on breaks (as most of them are right now). And it seems like it got repetitive. How many times can I point out the same flaws about "Gotham" from week to week? Anyway, I'm thinking I'll just use Twitter when needed.

Just a couple observations on the shows based on comic books...

I'm really torn about whether to revisit "Gotham" when new episodes return in January. I want it to be successful, but consistent quality just isn't there. They're introducing more and more future Batman villains when they hardy can deal with those they've already established. The crime-of-the-week plots have been pretty dreadful, and so much of the acting ranges from over-the-top to zombie-like.

On the other hand, "Arrow," "The Flash" and "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D" are killing it right now. The two DC properties are intertwined (there will be more crossovers), yet distinct. "Arrow" has deviated a lot more from its comic book mythology, while "Flash" is more faithful in some ways. Both shows are introducing more characters (in a better fashion than "Gotham"), basically building up their own version of the DC Comics universe -- without, of course, DC's biggest stars. It would be great if they could work these shows into their movie universe, if Warner Bros. can really get that off the ground with "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice." But they've already cast a new Flash for a movie sometime in the future, which is too bad.

Meanwhile, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." has not only its own comic book derivations but an already-established movie universe, and Marvel is apparently using the show to not only tie into their movies, but introducing concepts in the TV show that will carry over to future films. It's a shame they can't get the rights to Spider-Man and the X-Men back, though.

The Stones, k.d. lang, AND...

As I explained here, I'm in a desperate and probably futile quest to listen to every song in my iTunes at least once during 2014. (Update: still 3,607 tracks left. I have 17 days left. And that doesn't even count Christmas music, which I don't play the rest of the year anyway.) At one point yesterday, I heard the Rolling Stones' "Anybody Seen My Baby?" from 1997, and I heard something familiar in the chorus (skip to 1:23):

You're probably thinking of "Constant Craving" by k.d. lang (skip to 0:44).

You may recall that, to avoid possible lawsuits, lang and Ben Mink, the writers of "Constant Craving," were given songwriters' credit on the Stones song. And yes, I did think of it. Eventually. But another song popped into my head first:

Not exact, but close enough for me. (Wonder if the writers of this song thought about suing k.d.lang?) Just a little more evidence that it's very hard, if not impossible, to create a completely brand new song. Everything borrows something that came before it, even if only slightly.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Musical Three-Minute Eggs

Lately I've been listening to, as much as I can, all the songs in my iTunes library that I haven't played all year. (Oh, good lord, another year is almost down the tubes...) In order to get as many as I can out of the way, I put them all in a playlist and then put it in order of time (length of the track). That meant a lot of very quick tracks, such as those little interludes (musical, spoken word, whatever) that artists like Janet Jackson put in between songs, or old WAV files such as lines from cartoons, went first, in very rapid order.

The other day I got to the 3:00 mark -- all the songs that, according to the mp3 info, are exactly three minutes long. (We interrupt this story for a DISCLAIMER! With mp3s sometimes being obtained from various sources, there can be a bit of blank space before or after a song, so you may not hear exactly three minutes of music. We now return you to our previously scheduled programming.) This reminded me of something my former boyfriend used to do. He told me that, in order to make soft-boiled eggs, they had to boil for three minutes. So he would play the song "When Will I See You Again" by the Three Degrees, because it was exactly three minutes long. That gave me the idea for this post: the list of 3:00 songs in my iTunes library. And while I don't have that Three Degrees song, I do have a cover, as you can see...

When Will I See You Again - Erasure
You've Really Got A Hold On Me - The Miracles
Children Of The Revolution - Bono, Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer
Hello - Kelly Clarkson
Sing - Kristin Chenoweth
The Way You Look Tonight - Olivia Newton-John
Dance To The Music - Sly & The Family Stone
Every Little Bit Hurts - Brenda Holloway
She Tracks My Tears (mashup) Smokey Robinson & The Miracles/The La's
Darts Of Pleasure - Franz Ferdinand
Christmas in Hollis - Run-D.M.C.
Paid To Smile - The Lemonheads
Burning Man - Third Eye Blind
The Fool On The Hill - The Beatles
Shoplifters Of The World Unite - The Smiths
Do You Know The Way To San Jose - Dionne Warwick
Shiver - Maroon 5
Your Wonderful, Sweet, Sweet Love - The Supremes
The Right Thing To Do - Carly Simon
Vacation - The Go-Go's
The Ballad Of John & Yoko - The Beatles
Now That You Got It - Gwen Stefani
Promises, Promises - Dionne Warwick
The Christmas Waltz - Kristin Chenoweth
Favorite T - The Lemonheads
Candyman - Jason Nevins feat. Greg Nice
The Christmas Song - Ella Fitzgerald
It Takes Two - Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston
Kill The Pain - INXS
Liar Liar - Debbie Harry
For One Night Only - Bodyrockers
Everything Is Everything - Phoenix
Rushing - Moby
Gimme Some Lovin' - The Spencer Davis Group
Give A Little More - Maroon 5
Never Can Say Goodbye - Gloria Gaynor
Airplanes - B.o.B (feat. Hayley Williams of Paramore)
Santa Stole My Lady - Fitz & The Tantrums
Somewhere Along The Way - Nat King Cole
Give Love On Christmas Day - The Jackson 5
Little Of Your Time (Of Montreal Remix) - Maroon 5
Sleigh Ride - Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra
Somebody To Love - Jefferson Airplane
Baby Come Home - Scissor Sisters

Thursday, November 13, 2014

My Week In TV - 11/9/14

This week there were no new episodes of The Flash or Agents of SHIELD on Tuesday. ABC ran some hour-long special about Marvel Comics and their TV and movie forays, followed by election coverage. No idea why the CW had a repeat. But many of the episodes more than made up for it...

Gotham: The best episode of the series thus far. Not perfect. Still some wonky scripting and acting (I'm looking at you, woman who plays Barbara, Gordon's girlfriend) but much tighter. There was no weekly crime to solve, the entire episode focused on the aftermath of the Penguin's public appearance at Jim Gordon's arrest. I was hoping they'd keep this tighter focus but, instead, I've read in the past week of the forthcoming introductions of yet another two future Batman villains.

Arrow: The episode was titled "The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak." Fun episode. Love her. (Her mother, not so much.)

American Horror Story: Freak Show: Wow, did this episode go places! Big revelations and plot turns, and guys in tighty-whities! I actually watched it a second time.

The Big Bang Theory: Big sweet moment when Amy starts to tell Sheldon something important and, after a minute, he stops here with "I love you too." Awwwwwwww.

Bones: I am beginning to wonder if I really need to keep watching this show. It's not awful but it's really rather standard. And with Thursday being a big TV night, maybe I can just let it go, or at least just watch episodes On Demand when I'm not watching anything else.

Scandal: I feel like this show is going in circles at times with the whole B613 thing. Someone needs to be stopped and other characters plot to stop them. And I can't fathom a seemingly smart White House chief of staff, who's played plenty of dirty tricks over the years, being stupid enough to get involved with a guy AFTER he learns the guy's a prostitute, start paying him for their "dates" and even shell out money for a place in lieu of hotel rooms. Shouldn't he suspect someone might be setting him up for something?

How To Get Away With Murder: After this one, only two episodes remain until we, the viewers, learn who actually killed Sam. So then all that's left is to find out how they get away with it? And this has me wondering what will happen in Season 2? I wonder if this show is sustainable?

The Simpsons: "Simpsorama," the crossover with Futurama. Sooooooo much better than the Family Guy crossover. Bender is sent back in time to kill Homer Simpson (as it turns out, because of something Bart did that led to creatures destroying New New York in the 31st century). Lisa: "Why must you kill my dad? Especially when cheeseburgers are doing the work for you?"

Family Guy: Another one I'm starting to tire of. Used to be kind of a guilty pleasure, although I don't really believe in that concept, but now it's more guilty than pleasure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My Week In TV - 11/2/14

Going back to listing these in chronological order, just because...and Family Guy was a repeat again.

Gotham: Another stupid "crime of the week" along with the usual goings-on amongst the regular characters, same major mediocrity -- up until the moment Jim Gordon is being arrested for the murder of Oswald Cobblepot, at the same moment Oswald himself waltzes into the station to reveal that he's alive after all.

The Flash/Arrow: I have a feeling I'll keep lumping these together. This week on The Flash Felicity from Arrow visited Barry Allen (who, you may remember, was introduced last year on Arrow), with the last scene between them taking place on her train going back home. The next night she wasn't on Arrow at all until almost the very end, when she walked in and asked "What did I miss?" wearing the same clothing she wore on the train. Good continuity. Meanwhile, remember the complaint I referred to last time? Here it is: each week the villain was someone who had powers, received in the same explosion that caused Barry's transformation into the Flash. Well, in this episode we were introduced to Leonard Snart, a.k.a. Captain Cold, the first of Flash's "Rogues." He has no superpowers, only a weapon that creates ice, but his real skill is his intelligence, which allowed him to get away with a number of crimes prior to acquiring that cold gun. More of this, less of the so-called "freak of the week" crooks.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: A U.S. Senator uses a Hydra attack on the UN (made to look like SHIELD's doing) as a reason to propose a major offensive against SHIELD. Convienently, his brother is SHIELD agent-turned-Hydra traitor Grant Ward, now held prisoner by SHIELD. A family reunion soon, I'm sure.

American Horror Story: Freak Show: Remember those stories that had Krusty being killed off on The Simpsons? Wrong series, wrong clown. Also, we said goodbye to Patti LaBelle after only two episodes.

The Big Bang Theory: Guest-starring Billy Bob Thornton. He did quite well. I think he could have a future in acting.

Bones: A murder at a forensic scientists' convention. Oddly enough, I happened upon some other show during some remote-clicking that also featured a forensic scientists' convention. I can't remember which show it was, though, thus making this anecdote less interesting.

Scandal: This sentence, describing part of the plot of this episode, demonstrates that sometimes Wikipedia is a mess: "When a former Republican president dies, Olivia represents the allegedly assassinator, Leonard Carnihan; who claims to be innocent and he claims to prove it by matching the bullet used in the assassination to his gun." There's more, but I think I've proven my point.

How To Get Away With Murder: I'm not sure which had me more amused, Asher's dancing (and even sort of twerking) at the start of the episode or the revelation of the woman he hooked up with at the end, both of which took place the day/night of Sam's murder.

The Simpsons: They actually did a somewhat topical story, as Mr. Burns begins fracking, using Homer to persuade the town to sell their mineral rights to Burns (for $5,000 per person), until about the 47th time Marge says "Our water was ON FIRE!" and it finally gets through to her husband. Not bad, as later episodes go.

The Goatee Template

This is a thing?

And this question and answer...I can't even...

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Mess That Is...The 76ers (And The NBA)

I'm a little shocked that I feel the need to rant about the 76ers. Basketball is my fourth favorite of the four major pro sports. So I don't watch Sixers games or other NBA games nearly as much as I watch MLB, NHL or NFL games. But this is brought on by a tool named Scott O'Neil. He's the team's CEO. He was interviewed on WIP-FM, the main sports talk radio station, Saturday morning. I was not up early enough to hear that, but I heard a few lines that were excerpted for the station's sports updates at :20 and :40 each hour. In one of them he commented that the Sixers were "fun to watch," that he had fun watching the game the previous night.


In that game, Friday at Milwaukee, the Sixers trailed 82-81 with 8:21 left in the fourth quarter. And didn't score again. Not a single point. The lowly Bucks scored the final 11 points of the game to finish off a completely forgettable 93-81 win. The 76ers missed their last 14 shots from the field and, during those amazing final 501 seconds, didn't get to the free throw line once. After Saturday night's loss in the home opener, they're now 0-3 to start the season.

But Scott O'Neil thought it was fun.

This comment came a day after he decided to take some verbal jabs at Larry Brown, the coach of the team the last time the Sixers were actually any good, because Brown had the temerity to criticize the team's current approach to building a team: by destroying it completely.

Their strategy the last year-plus has been to get rid of just about every half-decent veteran player they had, ditching high salaries and acquiring draft picks and woefully inadequate, untalented replacements, in order to turn into a mediocre team into one that is not remotely capable of winning, trying to maximize their chances of getting the top pick in the NBA draft. Last season they finished 19-63, second worst in the NBA, but only got the third pick in the draft thanks to the league's lottery system of allocating the top picks.

The draft is the other part of the strategy: picking players with an eye to improving years down the road, instead of players who might help the team now. As a result, for two years in a row the Sixers picked players who were injured in college, and wouldn't be fully recovered for months. In the case of Nerlens Noel the Sixers had him sit out the entire 2013-14 season. This year's top pick, Joel Embiid, seems to be on the same slow track. (Added to the Andrew Bynum disaster, this would make three consecutive years that the 76ers' key summer acquisition would fail to play a single game in the following season.) Also, another draft acquisition (Dario Saric) is under contract with a team in Turkey and can't play in the NBA for at least a year, possibly two.

The end result is a team that will struggle to reach last season's 19-win mark, looking to get yet another top pick, and then hoping that their young talent will flourish. And, with money to spend because they're well under the salary cap, the 76ers hope that will entice quality free agents to sign with them, and voila! they're one the best teams in the league, fighting for a championship.

That's all well and good. But they're charging full price for the tickets they're selling for the slop they put on the court last year, and this year, and probably next year as well. Scott O'Neil doesn't have to pay to watch this dreck so he can have all the fun he wants. The average fan? Not so much.

And this is the NBA's fault. Because of the way the league operates, with ridiculously complex rules for the salary cap and free agency, and a draft system that, even with the lottery in place, still encourages teams to essentially lose on purpose, the only way for most teams to become true contenders is to follow the slash-and-burn process the 76ers are currently undertaking. It's a joke.

Here's a prime example of the cap idiocy: last week the 76ers and New York Knicks made a trade. In addition to a couple of future draft picks (the 76ers may now have 76 picks over the next few seasons; you normally get two per year, one in each of the two rounds), the Sixers acquired a player, Travis Outlaw, from New York and sent one of their players, Arnett Moultrie, to New York.

After the trade, the Sixers cut Outlaw. The Knicks cut Moultrie. Because of the salary cap complications, the Knicks couldn't just cut Outlaw themselves They had to trade him so they could keep another player on the roster.

It's the same stupidity on draft night. Unlike the NFL, where teams will trade up in the draft before the pick comes up, in order to draft a player they want, NBA teams draft players first, and then trade them. It's lunacy. Players get drafted, march up to the podium to pose for pics with the commissioner and put on a cap with their new team's logo. Five minutes later they're on some other team.

76ers fans, to be sure, support what the team is doing. They want a team that can legitimately compete for the NBA title. I can't blame them. But I also can't be bothered to watch any of their games, unless there's absolutely nothing else interesting on TV or someone gives me a free ticket.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Why Will This Man Get Counseling?

I don't even know who he is, but it's been reported that he's going to get counseling.


Because his "reality" TV show has been canceled.


"Utopia" was going to go on for a full year, during which these people were supposed to create their own society. This article pretty much explains why, and also reveals that the show's host, for some reason, was the cartoonist Dan Piraro, of "Bizarro" fame. But no one was interested, so it's been canceled, and this was my favorite part of the story in that first link above:

The show’s online live feeds will also shut down later today, though it’s highly unlikely they will show the cast being informed of the show’s cancellation.

The cast is expected to receive post-production counseling before being returned to their regular lives.


Friday, October 31, 2014

My Week In TV - 10/26/14

Because of the World Series, there was no Simpsons or Family Guy this week.. Once again I'm going to list them in general order of goodness...

American Horror Story: Freak Show: pre-Halloween creepiness! I've previously mentioned Kathy Bates using a Baltimore accent. In this episode Wes Bentley guest stars, and I have no idea what accent he's using.

How to Get Away with Murder: No gay sex scene this week but the mystery continues to play out. No, mysteries. Plural. Not just the murder that is at the heart of the show, but the smaller, interconnected plots revolving around it. Much of this is still far-fetched, though.

The Flash: Still enjoying this. I have a bit of a gripe that I'm going to defer until my next post because the problem's actually begun to resolve itself.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: One thing I regret about not being into Marvel Comics is that when this show introduces characters or hints at whom certain characters actually are or will turn out to be, the geek-out factor is nonexistent for me. Not a real complaint, just a thought...

Arrow: ...on the other hand, as I have a history with DC, when the same thing happens here, I can geek out with ease. (Although if it were a Superman or Batman series it would be even easier.)

Scandal: There were some things in this episode that didn't really ring true for me. I don't enjoy it quite like I did when I first started watching. And there's still a gap of Season 2 episodes that I haven't seen, which makes me feel I'm not quite up to speed.

Gotham: Same old story: need script help, some better acting, ditch some characters, love Oswald Cobblepot's story.

The Big Bang Theory: I was kind of bored by this week's episode. And now they've moved the show back to Thursdays, which complicates my TV schedule. I can record one show while watching another, but if I want to watch something else (like sports) I can't record two other shows on at the same time, so I either have to not watch the game or watch on of the shows On Demand. I don't like On Demand much, since most of the time now the fast-forward function is disabled, forcing me to sit through the commercials.

My Halloween Playlist

In the past I've written about my playlist of summer music. (Not going to bother posting the links. You can search for them if you want.) I haven't done so recently, and now that we're past summer it doesn't seem like the time, but I'll mention in passing that it's up to 213 songs (plus five mixtape compilations from DJ Jazzy Jeff and his DJ cohort MICK, formerly Mick Boogie). A while back I created a playlist for winter as well, but I don't have many songs on it. There's no special vibe about a winter song, unlike summer songs. As a result, I only have songs with "cold" or "chill" or similar words in the title. So I need to work on that at some point.

I also have a Halloween playlist. It's now up to 77 tracks, including TV and movie themes, songs that are obviously Halloween-centric and others that merely have a word such as "evil" or "ghost" somewhere in the title and aren't necessarily (or aren't at all) scary or creepy. It's just over five hours long. (And I've got a list of songs I need to add to my iTunes library.) Instead of listing them by artist or alphabetically, I'm gonna group them here based on various keywords or other categories...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Week(s) In TV - 10/19/14

So I missed a week. Oops. Consider this a two-week summary (any more procrastination and it'd be a three-week summary). Instead of listing them based on the day they aired, I thought I'd rank the shows in general order of awesomeness.

How to Get Away with Murder: The show has really grabbed me. I'm glad I gave it a second chance after the first episode. It's a wild ride with mostly interesting characters. Viola Davis is, not unexpectedly, tremendous, especially at the end of the third episode a week ago.

American Horror Story: Freak Show: I find it a cross between the more sinister, darker Asylum and the more campy Coven. Jupiter, Florida in 1952 is a very strange place. I'm loving the musical numbers (of contemporary songs, not songs from the time period!) and the Baltimore accent employed by Kathy Bates as the bearded lady. (Also, if anyone wants to gift me with a DVD set of Season One, which I have yet to see...)

Arrow/The Flash: I'm combining these because they're practically the same show. Same co-creators, same format featuring current events explained/enlightened by flashbacks, both shows feature the titular hero and his support team. And, of course, Barry "The Flash" Allen was introduced in Arrow last season. There are plenty of differences as well, though. Arrow, while based on a comic book, is a little darker and more grounded in something close to reality. The Flash is more obviously of the genre, but it also makes room for a little more humor.

Scandal: I'm still on board with a lot of this, but I'm starting to tire of the Olivia/Fitz drama. If you're not going to put them together as an actual couple once and for all, and I guess it's impossible -- even on this show -- for a sitting U.S. President to divorce his wife and marry his mistress, then just put this romance far, far away for a while.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: I read an article somewhere which stated that it feels like this season's show will influence events in future Marvel films, unlike last season, when events in the Captain America sequel turned this series around. Of course, if the ratings aren't up to snuff, then there will be no more influencing in either direction.

The Big Bang Theory: Still solid and reliable, but at the same time it's a bit formulaic. For example, there are episodes in which the guys and girls go their separate ways -- in the case of last week's show it was the girls in Vegas while their men were at home being their usual geeky selves.

Bones: Again, kinda formulaic, although they're not above a bit of Law and Order-style headline-ripping. Or tweaking, in the case of the episode where the "corpse du jour" turned out to be an overweight right-wing radio talk show host who, it was said, didn't believe any of the conservative stuff he said but only said it because the ratings were so big. Sound like anyone you know?

The Simpsons: The 25th Treehouse of Horror special was on Sunday. Not bad, but for me the best part of it was the end of the final segment. That segment featured the Simpsons' house being haunted by the ghosts of their original selves -- from the crudely-drawn shorts on the Tracey Ullman Show. Then, under various circumstances, the current Simpsons die and become ghosts. Lisa then wonders if there can be other versions of their family, and a string of alterna-Simpsons suddenly line up at the door, including the LEGO Simpsons from last season and Simpsons looking like characters from South Park, anime shows (Maggie as Pikachu), Archer...and the minions from Despicable Me!

Gotham: I still can't figure out why I haven't stopped watching this mess. I feel like this could be such a brilliant show but they've made so many missteps. Too many characters, plotlines that are either predictable or ridiculous (or both), some bad acting...but this kid playing the young Bruce Wayne is excellent. I'm still undecided about continuing with this show.

Family Guy: Meh. Also, one week the show was a rerun for some reason. The new TV season is a month old and already there's a rerun?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Quick Review: Gone Girl

Okay, so I slipped away from blogging again for a few days. I actually saw Gone Girl two weeks ago. Heavily hyped, I managed to avoid spoilers before seeing it. Sometimes I don't actually mind spoilers, but in this case I really wanted to be surprised. It's the story of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) who comes home on the day of his fifth anniversary to find his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) is missing. After he reports this to the police the investigation (with the help of a media frenzy) tilts towards him as a suspect in his wife's disappearance. Although I figured out a primary part of the mystery quickly, the details and subsequent events proved quite twisty, right up to the end -- which, as the final scene faded to black and the credits began, led at least three people in the theater to yell things like "THAT'S IT?" and "WHAT THE...!" I was not one of them. I enjoy an unconventional ending, as long as it's not so far-fetched or really stupid. This one? Definitely not how I would react if I were in Nick's place, but not too far...gone. (Pun intended.) My grade: A-minus.

P.S. I was watching very closely during the moment where reports indicated Ben Affleck's junk is supposedly onscreen. If it was, I missed it. I'll wait for someone to screengrab it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

WHAT THE HELL...Philly Gay News

So this happened...

This is just...shoddy. I shared that first Facebook post with the comment "Wow. Happy but very surprised. VERY surprised." I should have known by the 193-0 "margin." Anyway, I wanted to mention it on Twitter and that's when I saw this:

(You should follow Josh on Twitter, BTW.) When I returned to Facebook I saw the correction. Obviously it's good that they corrected it, but I have so many questions. How on earth did this information get posted in the first place? Who gave them the incorrect information? Who received it? Did NO ONE check to make sure it was legit before they rushed to post it? Whatever happened to journalism? (Okay, that last question I've been asking for years.)

So, yeah, Philadelphia Gay News, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?????

Monday, October 6, 2014

My Week In TV - 10/5/14

Well, Dallas was canceled by TNT. It seems that once J.R. was gone, so were the ratings. That will make my Mondays a little easier in the future. As for this most recent week, let's start with...

Gotham: I saw enough improvement from the pilot to keep it on my watch list, at least for now. I can do without Jada Pinkett Smith as a new character, Fish Mooney. But on the other hand, Carol Kane guest-starred as Oswald Cobblepot's mother. She would have easily fit into one of the Tim Burton "Batman" movies.

The Big Bang Theory: Silliness as Wolowitz (who spent some time on the International Space Station a while back) was asked by NASA to throw out the first pitch at an Angels game. His athletic ability adding up to zero, he uses a replica of the Mars rover to deliver the first pitch. It goes very, very slowly. That, and giving him a microphone to address the crowd, made the entire storyline ridiculous.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: I want to see where they're going with the mystery of Skye's parentage. It appears she'll be meeting her father soon. Maybe she'll get a last name out of it and we'll know her as something other than "Skye."

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My Week In TV - 9/28/14

Remember how I used to post about which comic books I bought every week, with comments about each book (or comics in general, or whatever else I decided was sort of related to them)? Well, I don't buy nearly as many comics as I used to (go back and read about my issues with the DC comics reboot that led to Superman's using his baby blanket as a cape). So, I thought I'd try something new: commentary on the TV shows I watch each week.

This is in part inspired by what a big week this was for my personal TV viewing, which I will get to. First, though, this won't be about my regular Monday-through-Friday shows -- consisting of the brilliant Keith Olbermann on ESPN2 and, of course, TMZ -- unless something in particular during those shows that I think needs attention. Nor will this be about telecasts of sporting events, again unless I feel it's warranted. So we'll start with the programs that aired between September 21 and 28. (I didn't necessarily watch them in their time slot. I usually DVR everything and skip through the commercials. Also, I hope future posts won't be as long as this one is turning out to be.)

Last Monday started with, thanks to the magic of DVR, two episodes of The Big Bang Theory on CBS, the two-hour third-season finale of Dallas on TNT and the premiere of the new series Gotham on Fox.

Big Bang has been on so long now that I'm sort of waiting for the dropoff in quality. Not sure it's happened yet, because they've been able to have the characters grow out of their established personas. It's very slow, but just enough (such as Raj finally being able to talk to women without alcohol) to keep them interesting. So we'll see. (Note: it's on Monday for a few weeks due to CBS showing some NFL games on Thursdays.)

The Dallas reboot has been surprising since the start. Although ostensibly starring the sons of J.R. and Bobby Ewing, so much of the show has featured the old cast, and killing off J.R. (necessitated as it was by Larry Hagman's passing) led to some of the best television of 2013. Season three ended with a shocking death, although the shock was lessened by the fact that it happened at the very end of the episode and was hyped by TNT: "One...Ewing...Will...Die." Better to kill the character in the middle so it's truly unexpected.

I had tremendous expectations for Gotham, the Batman series without Batman.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Boycott the NFL? What Says Lurie? Philly Media Asleep?

I've been increasingly disgusted with the NFL lately. Although I love football, the NFL and I have issues, such as their overreaction in stadium security which won't let me carry my little drawstring bag* with my phone charger, reading material for the subway/El, etc. into the Linc -- if I even actually got an Eagles ticket, which I can't afford anyway. And their claim that they want to make the game safer and reduce or prevent serious injuries, particularly head injuries, is completely at cross-purposes with their insistence that there be weekly Thursday night games, as well as their consideration of future expansion of the regular season from 16 to 18 games.

But that's nothing compared to the initial outrage over the pathetic two-game suspension originally given Ray Rice by commissioner Roger Goodell, and the league's response to the punishment's total inadequacy (especially when compared with longer bans given players who committed the horrible crime of smoking pot), followed by the responses of Goodell, the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens once TMZ acquired the video of Rice viciously punching his then-fiancee, now-wife in the elevator at the newly-defunct Revel Casino in Atlantic City, followed by the league's totally inadequate responses to domestic violence caused by other players (you MUST read this).

And on top of all that came the news that Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings was charged with child abuse, after beating his four-year-old son with a tree branch until the child bled. For those who somehow think there's nothing wrong with such discipline, think about it. Pause on these words, stare at them for a minute or two until it sinks in: HE BEAT HIS CHILD AND DREW BLOOD. HE MADE A FOUR-YEAR-OLD BLEED!

That was followed by the Vikings' flip-flops on whether he should be allowed to play, deactivating him for one game, then announcing that he would be reinstated, then reversing course after team and league sponsors began distancing themselves from this mess.

And then came today (technically yesterday, since this won't be finished until after midnight).

Monday, September 15, 2014

WHAT THE HELL...Urban Outfitters

Really, Urban Outfitters? Trying to sell a "Vintage Kent State sweatshirt" with fake blood spatters and, after immediate outrage caused them to pull the product, claiming it was never intended to allude to the 1970 shootings by the Ohio National Guard on the Kent State campus, killing four people? Seriously? One, trying to sell it to begin with? Two, thinking anyone would believe this bullshit denial? Three, $129.00?



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Quick Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

I really need to see more movies. (That would cost money, which I can't really spare in large amounts for movies right now. Help.) Almost half of the movies I've managed to see this year involve Marvel Comics characters. The most recent, Guardians of the Galaxy, presented a dilemma  It's one thing for me to see movies featuring Spider-Man, X-Men and Captain America. I'm at least somewhat familiar with the characters, even if I didn't read their comics. The Guardians of the Galaxy, on the other hand? Never heard of them. And I wasn't that impressed by the trailers.

Fortunately, it was a good movie. Solid, not especially brilliant, mainly due to a pedestrian story that, despite its characters being quite different than typical superheroes, still fits neatly into the Marvel movie formula. However, Chris Pratt was a great fit for the role of Peter "Star-Lord" Quill, abducted from Earth as a child who eventually ends up as head Guardian. And, as we're all aware by now, he buffed up for the role. I can never disapprove of that. My grade: B.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dilworth Park, The Councilman and I

(UPDATE: Eventually I was unblocked by Jim Kenney's Twitter account. I voted for him in the May 2015 mayoral primary and will vote for him in November 2015 in the general election.  Original post follows.)

If you follow me on Twitter you know that, besides the various things I get obsessed with (#EverySimpsonsEver) or angry about (#FireRuben), I can also get silly and snarky. However, I can also be quite sincere.

Let's face it: there are lots of problems, here and around the world. Members of Congress (especially Republicans). The Pennsylvania state legislature (ditto). The worst PA governor in my lifetime, who thankfully seems to be on track to be the first one-term governor of the state in over 40 years. The lack of funding for public education, especially in Philadelphia (see above re: PA governor and legislature).

The economic "recovery" in which so many people still struggle because the minimum wage isn't nearly high enough and huge corporations have seemingly every advantage thanks to the aforementioned Republicans and their servants on the Supreme Court. The health care system, slightly improved by the Affordable Care Act but still wildly inadequate and too expensive (just ask my friend Kurt, and while you're at it could you sign his petition, and maybe make a donation to help him get his new laptop? Thanks.)

The moronic fight against immigration reforms. The increasing havoc that climate change is having on our planet. Russia's efforts to take over Ukraine. Everything going on in the Middle East. And hey, did anyone #BringBackOurGirls or find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 yet?

Yet, as pessimistic as I can be about, well, everything, I also realize there are still good things happening. For example, there was another victory this week in the effort to make Philadelphia a nicer, greener, more lively and fun city. Already we've seen success on the Delaware River waterfront with the Race Street Pier. This summer brought the (seasonal) Spruce Street Harbor Park (with the hammocks!) and the (permanent) Washington Avenue Pier. And yesterday, Dilworth Park opened.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WTHIWWY: Cee Lo Green

Cee Lo Green
Let me see if I understand what you're saying, Cee Lo Green. So if a man sexually assaults an unconscious woman it's not rape because if the woman isn't awake to say "no" that's the same as giving consent? Really? Is that what you're saying, Cee Lo? You seriously think you can drug a woman in order to have sex with her?

And now your "reality" show's been canceled; whether it was because you're a pig or because of lousy ratings is possibly subject to debate. (Hey, NBC, can we kick the pig off "The Voice" permanently as well?)


Sunday, August 31, 2014

#EverySimpsonsEver -- Day Twelve

The end. Or is it? FXX is going to air four- or six-hour blocks of episodes five days a week starting Tuesday, the day after the Every Simpsons Ever marathon finally ends. If FXX is smart they won't go too overboard on the later seasons. As you can see from the list below, and the last couple of posts, the pickings are really slim.


9/1 1:30 AM ET “Lisa Goes Gaga” -- The Lady Gaga Express is roaring across the country until she sees some sad billboards for Springfield ("sister city with no one"), so she has the train stop there so she can build up the town's self-esteem. It's just in time for Lisa, whose unpopularity with her schoolmates is at an all-time high. The numerous jokes and jabs at everything Gaga are mitigated by the fact that she's in on them.

9/1 9:30 AM ET “Dark Knight Court” -- At an Easter celebration a prank sends eggs flying into the crowd. Bart is accused but he denies it, and is granted a trial with schoolmates as the jury and Janet Reno presiding as judge (because she plays chess by mail -- snail mail -- with Grampa). The same egg attack and its aftermath leads Burns to become "Fruitbat Man," thwarting "crimes" (townspeople are playing criminals, paid off by Smithers).

9/1 5:00 PM ET “Steal This Episode” -- Tired of hearing spoilers for movies he hasn't seen, as well as today's multiplex experience (such as pre-movie commercials), Homer begins illegally downloading movies...and then starts showing them in his backyard.

9/1 10:30 PM ET “Brick Like Me” -- The LEGO episode. Fun, very well-done, but would have been better had it arrived before The LEGO Movie.


9/1 3:00 AM ET “Adventures in Baby-Getting”
9/1 3:30 AM ET “Gone Abie Gone”
9/1 4:00 AM ET “Penny-Wiseguys”
9/1 7:00 AM ET “Changing of the Guardian”
9/1 8:30 AM ET “Gorgeous Grampa “
9/1 9:00 AM ET “Black-eyed Please”
9/1 11:00 AM ET “Whiskey Business”
9/1 12:00 PM ET “The Saga of Carl”
9/1 2:30 PM ET “YOLO" -- Yo, no.
9/1 4:00 PM ET “Yellow Subterfuge”
9/1 4:30 PM ET “White Christmas Blues”
9/1 9:30 PM ET “Days of Future Future”

Saturday, August 30, 2014

#EverySimpsonsEver -- Day Eleven

Really. It's almost over. One more day after this. (I repeat: stop applauding!)


8/31 12:00 AM ET “The Greatest Story Ever D’ohed” -- The Simpsons join the Flanderseseses on a trip to Jerusalem. Guest stars Sacha Baron Cohen, but not as Borat or Bruno or Ali G.

8/31 5:00 AM ET “MoneyBART” -- Lisa becomes the coach of Bart's Little League team and, using sabermetrics, the team starts winning. Notable for a very unusual opening couch gag from the artist known as Banksy.

8/31 7:30 AM ET “The Fight Before Christmas” -- Formatted more like a Halloween special, with four different Christmas-related dreams, including one with Martha Stewart and another with Katy Perry in a live-action segment featuring the Simpsons characters as Muppet-esque puppets.

8/31 9:00 AM ET “Flaming Moe” -- Not to be confused with "Flaming Moe's," this is one more super-gay-gay-gay episode. With the help of Waylon Smithers, Moe's Tavern becomes Mo's, a trendy gay bar. If you've ever wanted to see Homer and Marge voguing, this is your episode.

8/31 8:00 PM ET “The D’oh-cial Network” -- Lisa creates SpringFace, a social networking site. Featuring a couch gag with David Letterman and a brief bit at the end with Armie Hammer as the Winklevoss twins (just like in "The Social Network"). They're competing in a rowing event at the 2012 London Olympics...against the Bouvier twins, Patty and Selma.

8/31 9:30 PM ET “At Long Last Leave” -- The 500th episode, in which the residents of Springfield vote to evict the Simpsons from the town.


8/31 1:00 AM ET “Chief of Hearts”
8/31 4:00 AM ET “Elementary School Musical”
8/31 4:30 AM ET “Loan-a Lisa”
8/31 6:30 AM ET “The Fool Monty”
8/31 7:00 AM ET “How Munched Is That Birdie in the Window?”
8/31 8:00 AM ET “Donnie Fatso”
8/31 8:30 AM ET “Moms I’d Like to Forget”
8/31 9:30 AM ET “Homer the Father”
8/31 1:00 PM ET “The Real Housewives of Fat Tony” -- Fat Tony marries Selma, making her Selma Bouvier-Terwilliger-Hutz-McClure-Stu-Simpson-D'Amico.
8/31 4:30 PM ET “Replaceable You” -- I can't, for the life of me, remember anything about this episode. Even after reading the Wikipedia entry, reading that Jane Lynch appeared in it, I can't remember it at all. Hey, maybe it's a brilliant episode. But I'm gonna say...no.
8/31 7:00 PM ET “Holidays of Future Passed”
8/31 7:30 PM ET “Politically Inept, with Homer Simpson” -- With the utterly repugnant Ted Nugent.

Friday, August 29, 2014

#EverySimpsonsEver -- Day Ten

We are coming to the end. (Stop applauding.)


8/30 12:00 AM ET “Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind” -- A Simpsonic take on "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" as Homer can't recall the events of the previous day.

8/30 12:30 AM ET “E. Pluribus Wiggum” -- Springfield moves up its election date (because Homer destroyed the town's fast-food restaurants) and it's now the first primary in the nation. Here come the presidential candidates and the media! And a new candidate: Ralph Wiggum! Pick a winner!

8/30 4:30 AM ET “Any Given Sundance” -- Lisa's school project is a short film about her family. Aspiring film producers Skinner and Chalmers enter it into the Sundance Film Festival. The Simpsons are going to Utah!

8/30 12:00 PM ET “Gone Maggie Gone” -- Not a bad episode, but to be honest I probably wouldn't include it here except for the brief, unexpected appearance of none other than the Phillie Phanatic.

8/30 1:30 PM ET “Eeny Teeny Maya Moe “ -- Moe hits it off with a woman he meets over the Internet. When they meet in person, he learns she's a little person. Will he screw it up? Well, yes. But it's surprisingly sweet.

8/30 9:00 PM ET “Once Upon a Time in Springfield” -- Krusty is forced by the network to add a female character to his show. Princess Penelope (Anne Hathaway) is a hit, which infuriates Krusty until he learns she's a longtime fan, and they fall in love. Anne Hathaway won an Emmy for this.

8/30 10:00 PM ET “Boy Meets Curl” -- Homer and Marge, along with Agnes and Seymour Skinner, compete in a new demonstration sport, mixed curling, at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. (Not surprisingly, the episode aired during the Olympics.) Lisa becomes addicted to collecting Olympic pins. Wikipedia says it was well-received by curlers and Canadians. Also, there's a sighting of a character from The Simpsons Movie...the movie only, not a character that has previously been in the series. And it's not Spider-Pig.


8/30 2:30 AM ET “Dial “N” for Nerder”
8/30 3:00 AM ET “Smoke on the Daughter”
8/30 4:00 AM ET “Apocalypse Cow”
8/30 5:00 AM ET “Mona Leaves-a”
8/30 6:30 AM ET “Lost Verizon”
8/30 7:00 AM ET “Double, Double, Boy in Trouble”
8/30 9:00 AM ET “Mypods and Boomsticks” (The spoofing of Apple was okay. The Homer-fears-new-Muslim-neighbors-are-terrorists plot, not okay.)
8/30 11:30 AM ET “No Loan Again, Naturally”
8/30 2:00 PM ET “The Good, the Sad and the Drugly “
8/30 4:00 PM ET “Coming to Homerica “
8/30 5:30 PM ET “The Great Wife Hope”
8/30 10:30 PM ET “The Color Yellow”

Thursday, August 28, 2014

#EverySimpsonsEver -- Day Nine

This, the ninth day of the FXX marathon, features the end of the 17th season, all of the 18th and the start of the 19th. The 18th was pretty weak. Maybe it was affected by a divided attention span, as there was a little movie of note that came out following that season...


8/29 1:30 AM ET “My Fair Laddy” -- More singing. In this episode Lisa is attempting to turn Groundskeeper Willie into Eliza Doolittle...I mean, into a proper gentleman.

8/29 2:00 AM ET “The Seemingly Never-Ending Story” -- Although it's a bit ludicrous, I liked the clever way the story Lisa is telling turns into Mr. Burns' story, then Moe's story, then Edna Krabappel's, then, for a moment, a bighorn sheep's story. (Yes, really. Just go with it.) And they're all connected.

8/29 3:00 AM ET “Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife” -- Written by Ricky Gervais. Homer signs the family up to appear on a wife-swap show.

8/29 4:00 AM ET “Kiss Kiss Bang Bangalore” -- Listed here only because the subplot (Patty and Selma kidnap Richard Dean Anderson - MacGyver!) outdoes the main plot (Homer is chosen to be the boss when Burns outsources his plant to India?).

8/29 11:00 AM ET “Kill Gil: Vols. 1 & 2″ -- The latest temporary guest staying with the Simpsons is Gil, the guy who can't keep a job. It actually serves as a holiday episode, spanning an entire year from Christmas season to Christmas season.

8/29 1:00 PM ET “Springfield Up” -- Modeled after the British documentary "Up" Series (starting with "Seven Up," featuring a group of children, and revisiting them every seven years), a director returns to Springfield to update his series of films, done at eight-year intervals.

8/29 5:00 PM ET “24 Minutes” -- I never watched "24" so I don't know exactly how on target this episode was, but I enjoyed it anyway.

8/29 6:00 ET The Simpsons Movie -- Yes, yes, yes. So good from start to finish. But I'm wondering how they'll edit this, since they're showing episodes without the cuts made for syndication. Will they show the full-frontal nudity or add the little "European version only" black box? Will they leave in Marge's full quote to "throw the goddamn bomb!" or cut out the G-word?

I'm sure this won't be cut from the movie. They're coming after you, Homer!

8/29 11:00 PM ET “Husbands and Knives” -- A new comic book store opens (smart casting: Jack Black as the store's owner) and easily takes business away from Comic Book Guy. A fave moment: Milhouse asks Alan Moore to sign a DVD of "Watchmen Babies in 'V for Vacation.'"

8/29 11:30 PM ET “Funeral for a Fiend” -- It's a "Frasier" reunion. Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob, David Hyde Pierce as his brother Cecil...and John Mahoney as their father. Oh, and they all take part in a plan to kill Bart.


8/29 1:00 AM ET “We’re on the Road to D’oh-where”
8/29 3:30 AM ET “Million Dollar Abie”
8/29 6:00 AM ET “The Monkey Suit”
8/29 12:30 PM ET “Little Big Girl”
8/29 2:00 PM ET “Rome-Old and Julie-Eh” -- Grampa and Selma in love. Ew. Ew. Ew.
8/29 3:00 PM ET “Marge Gamer”
8/29 3:30 PM ET “The Boys of Bummer”
8/29 4:00 PM ET “Crook and Ladder”
8/29 4:30 PM ET “Stop or My Dog Will Shoot!”
8/29 9:00 PM ET “Midnight Towboy”
8/29 9:30 PM ET “I Don’t Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

#EverySimpsonsEver -- Day Eight

We're getting to the point where the pickings are getting slimmer. Even the best episodes are rather uneven (although the same-sex wedding one stands out).


8/28 12:00 AM ET “The Regina Monologues” -- The Simpsons go to...London!

8/28 6:30 AM ET “My Big Fat Geek Wedding” -- Edna Krabappel leaves Seymour Skinner at the altar on their wedding day and rebounds with...Comic Book Guy!?!

8/28 7:30 AM ET “Simple Simpson” -- Homer becomes a masked hero, Pie Man, as in a pie to the face of those who do wrong. Then Mr. Burns (who often does wrong) discovers Pie Man's secret identity.

8/28 12:30 PM ET “Mommie Beerest” -- One of many times Moe's bar has been transformed into something else. This time it becomes an English pub, the Nag and Weasel, on the "suggestion" of Marge (because Homer took out a second mortgage and loaned the money to Moe, she insisted on a say in running things).

8/28 1:00 PM ET “Homer and Ned’s Hail Mary Pass” -- Homer teaches athletes to showboat, and then gets the gig of creating the Super Bowl halftime show.

8/28 2:00 PM ET – “There’s Something About Marrying” -- The one where Springfield legalizes same-sex marriage...and Patty comes out of the closet!

8/28 6:30 PM ET – “A Star Is Torn” -- Krusty hosts a singing competition for kids, and Lisa advances thanks to songwriter/manager Homer.


8/28 12:30 AM ET – “The Fat and the Furriest”
8/28 8:30 AM ET – “Bart-Mangled Banner” -- Wayyyyyyyyy over-the-top commentary on current-day "patriotism."
8/28 12:00 PM ET – “Midnight Rx”
8/28 1:30 PM ET – “Pranksta Rap” -- One of my more-disliked episodes. Bart sneaks out to a rap concert and fakes his own kidnapping to avoid being discovered sneaking into the house.
8/28 3:30 PM ET – “Mobile Homer”
8/28 10:00 PM ET – “Marge’s Son Poisoning”

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

#EverySimpsonsEver -- Day Seven

And on the seventh day, the marathon continues. A few of the episodes I've chosen are probably not entirely must-see, but within the episodes are enough moments of greatness that I don't feel they should be missed. Your mileage may vary.

And while it's not listed below, the Season 13 finale, "Poppa's Got a Brand New Badge," airing at 11:30 am, features one of my favorite all-time lines, one that is just impossible for me to quote in person. In the episode Homer opens his own security firm, leading to this remark to Marge: "You know, I've had a lot of jobs -- boxer, mascot, astronaut, imitation Krusty, baby-proofer, trucker, hippie, plow driver, food critic, conceptual artist, grease salesman, carny, mayor, grifter, bodyguard for the mayor, country/western manager, garbage commissioner, mountain climber, farmer, inventor, Smithers, Poochie, celebrity assistant, power plant worker, fortune cookie writer, beer baron, Kwik-E-Mart clerk, homophobe and missionary -- but protecting Springfield, that gives me the best feeling of all."


8/27 2:00 AM ET “A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love” -- Mr. Burns, responding to a fortune cookie written by Homer (one of the jobs listed above), falls in love with a meter maid played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Burns wants Homer's help in winning her heart.

8/27 3:00 AM ET “She of Little Faith” -- An accident that wrecks the church leads to Burns paying for its repair in exchange for things like ads and vibrating recliners. This leads to Lisa becoming a Buddhist.

8/27 5:00 AM ET “Half-Decent Proposal” -- Artie Ziff is now wealthy but still obsessed with Marge. You can sort of guess from the title what happens. And the ending features an adaptation of Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)."

8/27 5:30 AM ET “The Bart Wants What It Wants” -- The Simpsons are going to Toronto! (Marge: "It's so clean and bland...I'm home!")

8/27 7:30 AM ET “Blame It on Lisa” -- The Simpsons are going to Brazil!

8/27 9:00 AM ET “I Am Furious Yellow” -- The Simpsons are going to...oh, sorry. Bart creates Angry Dad, a comic book character (based on Homer, duh) that is turned into an Internet cartoon.

8/27 12:00 PM ET “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation” -- Would you go to a rock-and-roll fantasy camp with instructors Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Lenny Kravitz, Brian Setzer, Tom Petty and Elvis Costello? I would. And so would Homer.

8/27 2:00 PM ET “The Great Louse Detective” -- Someone is trying to kill Homer. Chief Wiggum decides that in order to catch the criminal he needs someone who thinks like a criminal. Hence, Sideshow Bob moves in with the Simpsons. Bob to Homer: "How can one man have so many enemies?" Homer: "I'm a people person!...who...drinks."

8/27 2:30 PM ET “Special Edna” -- Probably my favorite from the latter half of the series' history. Skinner's ineptness at romancing Krabappel leads to Bart nominating her for the Teacher of the Year awards in Orlando, and the Simpsons get to go along. So many good lines.

8/27 5:00 PM ET “I’m Spelling as Fast as I Can” -- Lisa wins the school spelling bee and works her way up to the Spell-lympics, a national contest. Unfortunately, she's asked to lose on purpose.

8/27 6:00 PM ET “Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington” -- Krusty runs for Congress. Not really a realistic episode but the depictions of Fox News are perfect.

8/27 7:30 PM ET “Three Gays of the Condo” -- Going gay again. After a fight with Marge, Homer moves out of the house -- and into Springfield's gayborhood.

8/27 8:00 PM ET “Dude, Where’s My Ranch?” -- More for the beginning, which features Homer trying to write a new Christmas carol (the one Usher stole), which turns into "Everybody Hates Ned Flanders," which -- with David Byrne's production -- becomes a hit so big even Flanders and his boys are singing along.

8/27 11:30 PM ET “The President Wore Pearls” -- A takeoff on "Evita," despite the closing on-screen disclaimer.


8/27 3:30 AM ET “Brawl in the Family”
8/27 4:00 AM ET “Sweets and Sour Marge”
8/27 6:00 AM ET “The Lastest Gun in the West”
8/27 8:30 AM ET “Gump Roast” -- Another clip show...although it does include the song "They'll Never Stop the Simpsons."
8/27 10:30 AM ET “The Frying Game”
8/27 1:30 PM ET “Helter Shelter”
8/27 3:00 PM ET “The Dad Who Knew Too Little”

8/27 8:30 PM ET “Old Yeller-Belly”

Monday, August 25, 2014

#EverySimpsonsEver -- Day Six

So you know how I said I've been DVRing some of the episodes during this marathon? As we get to the end of the week the DVR has a lot fewer episodes set to be recorded. That will tell you how the number of episodes in these posts should decline.

At this moment, I'm watching live (although this will actually be posted mid-day, not when I'm typing) and they're showing "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson," in which the World Trade Center figures in the plot. After the 9/11 attacks this episode disappeared from syndication for a while.


8/26 12:30 AM ET “Mom and Pop Art” -- Homer's failure to build a barbecue pit leads to his being discovered as a hot new artist.

8/26 3:00 AM ET “Beyond Blunderdome” -- Mel Gibson (as Mel Gibson, before he went all crazy) hires Homer to help him finish his new film, a remake of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

8/26 4:30 AM ET “Treehouse of Horror X” -- One of the more consistently funny Halloween specials. In recent years they haven't been the same. I guess you can say that about the series in general...

8/26 7:30 AM ET “Little Big Mom” -- If for nothing more than the line "Stupid sexy Flanders!"

8/26 9:30 AM ET “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily” -- The death of Maude Flanders.

8/26 10:00 AM ET “Missionary: Impossible” -- Highlighted by the spoofing of PBS, a guest appearance by Betty White and Homer's first time referring to "Jebus."

8/26 1:30 PM ET "Behind the Laughter" -- Genius spoof of VH1's "Behind the Music."

8/26 4:30 PM ET “The Computer Wore Menace Shoes” -- This is really must-see only if you're a fan of "The Prisoner" (series star Patrick McGoohan appears in the episode). Otherwise you may be really put off by it.

8/26 7:00 PM ET “Worst Episode Ever” -- Comic Book Guy has a heart attack and has to stop working at his store for a while.

8/26 8:30 PM ET “New Kids on the Blecch” -- Spoof of boy bands with guest stars 'NSync.

8/26 9:00 PM ET “Hungry, Hungry Homer” -- Homer discovers a plot by the owner of the Springfield Isotopes to move the team to Albuquerque. His hunger-strike song is classic. And now there's an actual minor league baseball team called the Albuquerque Isotopes.

8/26 10:30 PM ET “Trilogy of Error” -- A clever takeoff on the film "Run, Lola, Run" featuring three interconnected tales.

8/26 11:00 PM ET “I’m Goin’ to Praiseland” -- Ned Flanders opens a religious-themed amusement park after finding his late wife's sketch book.


8/26 1:30 AM ET “Monty Can’t Buy Me Love”
8/26 6:00 AM ET “Eight Misbehavin'”
8/26 6:30 AM ET “Take My Wife, Sleaze”
8/26 12:00 PM ET “Kill the Alligator and Run”
8/26 3:00 PM ET “Insane Clown Poppy”
8/26 10:00 PM ET “Simpson Safari”

Sunday, August 24, 2014

#EverySimpsonsEver -- Day Five

It's funny. I own the DVD sets for the first sixteen seasons (plus season 20, which they released very early -- without any deleted scenes or commentaries or such -- just to take advantage of it being the 20th season). Still, I'm DVRing episodes during this marathon. I want to see certain episodes again but I don't feel like pulling out the DVD sets, and if I'm not home or I've gone to bed...anyway, here's what I recommend for Monday:


8/25 1:00 AM ET “In Marge We Trust” -- With a burned-out Rev. Lovejoy, advice-giver Marge and, of course, Mr. Sparkle.

8/25 1:30 AM ET “Homer’s Enemy” -- I can't say that this is one of the best, but it's unusual because of how it ended. It really shocked me.

8/25 2:00 AM ET “The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase” -- Mainly for the brilliant lampooning of the Brady Bunch Variety Hour.

8/25 6:30 AM ET “Lisa the Skeptic” -- The show's take on religion has always been interesting, and more nuanced than you'd expect. Here, Lisa discovers a skeleton of what appears to be an angel.

8/25 9:00 AM ET “The Joy of Sect” -- Members of a cult hit Springfield for recruits, but have a little trouble getting through to Homer.

8/25 11:00 AM ET “Lisa the Simpson” -- Lisa is suddenly not quite as smart as in the past, and she's really worried after Grampa tells her it's because of the "Simpson gene" that causes everyone to lose their intelligence.

8/25 12:00 PM ET “Simpson Tide” -- Homer joins the Naval Reserve and ends up in charge of a submarine during war games, which leads to an international incident.

8/25 2:30 PM ET “Lost Our Lisa” -- The premise is a bit illogical. If Lisa is so intelligent why isn't she able to take a bus to the museum by herself without getting lost? But I really love the episodes where Homer and Lisa bond.

8/25 7:30 PM ET “Mayored to the Mob” -- Homer becomes the mayor's bodyguard and gets on the bad side of Fat Tony.

8/25 8:00 PM ET “Viva Ned Flanders” -- In which we learn that Ned Flanders is 60 years old. Homer persuades him to go to Vegas, where they get drunk and marry a couple of barmaids.

8/25 10:00 PM ET “I’m with Cupid” -- Apu's multiple Valentine's Day gifts to his wife made the rest of Springfield's husbands look bad, so they try to sabotage his last gift


8/25 5:00 AM ET “The Cartridge Family” -- This episode, in which Homer bought a gun and Marge was not happy, was one of the first episodes I rather disliked.
8/25 4:30 PM ET “Bart the Mother”
8/25 6:00 PM ET “D’oh-in’ in the Wind”

Saturday, August 23, 2014

#EverySimpsonsEver -- Day Four

The good thing about the FXX marathon: the episodes are being shown in full, with none of the cuts made to allow for more commercials in syndication. The not-so-good thing: it's been altered to fit the HD widescreen. That whole aspect ration thing. Sometimes it doesn't matter, but sometimes it can ruin a sight gag.

Again, I had to leave out many episodes still worth watching.


8/24 1:30 AM ET “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Pt. 1″
8/24 2:00 AM ET “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Pt. 2″ -- Better than "Who Shot J.R.?" You tell me. Dallas didn't have the advantage of making jokes that led to... (continued three episodes down)

8/24 2:30 AM ET “Radioactive Man” -- The movie based on the comic book is filming in Springfield. With Rainier Wolfcastle in the title role. "Up and atom!" "Up and at them!"

8/24 3:30 AM ET “Bart Sells His Soul” -- I love this so much, especially the beginning, with Bart at the door of the church, handing out sheet music to "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" disguised as a religious song, "In The Garden Of Eden, by I. Ron Butterfly" (Homer to Marge: "Remember when we used to make out to this hymn?")

8/24 6:30 AM ET “The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular” -- (continued from above) ...a line about an alternate ending of "Who Shot Mr. Burns" in which "you would have to ignore all the Simpson DNA evidence...and that would be downright nutty." (This is the way to do a clip show, by the way.)

8/24 8:00 AM ET “Two Bad Neighbors” -- In which George H.W. and Barbra Bush move to Springfield, across the street from the Simpsons. The jokes at George's expense...

8/24 10:30 AM ET “The Day the Violence Died” -- More trouble for Itchy & Scratchy thanks to the Simpson family. Bart meets the guy who actually created Itchy (but was cheated out of the royalties and is now homeless) and helps him win a lawsuit that bankrupts the studio.

8/24 11:00 AM ET “A Fish Called Selma” -- Troy McClure needs to get married to resurrect his career. Enter Selma Bouvier.

8/24 7:00 PM ET “The Springfield Files “ -- Homer claims to have seen an alien and FBI agents Mulder and Scully from "The X-Files" investigate.

8/24 8:30 PM ET “Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious” -- Marge's stressed and Homer agrees to hire a nanny... Shary: “Hello, I’m Shary Bobbins.” Homer: “Did you say Mary Pop-“ Shary: “No! I definitely did not. I’m an original creation, like Rickey Rouse and Monald Muck.” It gets weirder from there, and Shary's farewell is a precursor to an ending to an episode later in the series that stunned me when I first saw it.

8/24 9:30 PM ET “Homer’s Phobia” -- The first time they really dealt with the gay issue. Fabulous. I really want to go to work at the gay steel mill, by the way.


8/24 12:30 AM ET “The Springfield Connection”
8/24 3:00 AM ET “Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily”
8/24 7:30 AM ET “Team Homer”
8/24 12:30 PM ET “Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in “The Curse of the Flying Hellfish””

Friday, August 22, 2014

Quick Review: The Giver

We interrupt #EverySimpsonsEver for a movie. Okay, I actually saw it on Wednesday, before the Simpsons marathon began, so technically I didn't interrupt it. Anyway, "The Giver" is based on a novel that was published in 1993, which means all of the "Divergent/Hunger Games" young-adult books and their film adaptations followed, but still beat this film to theaters. So much of it seems like it's been done before: futuristic society, manipulated by leaders, a young hero. But "The Giver" is still kind of worth watching.

In this future world, there is sameness. Any differences are quite minor. Everyone seems pleasant enough, but it's very muted and bland. There's no music, no bright colors, no warmth or cold thanks to climate controls. Everything is controlled by the Elders, with the chief Elder portrayed by Meryl Streep. (And far be it from me to criticize Meryl Streep, but she did seem a little out of place in a film like this.) Anyway, at age 16 all children are assigned to the jobs they will hold for the rest of their lives, and one such child, Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is designated to be the Receiver of Memory, because no one in this society has any memory of the past that led to the Community's current state. Jonas receives those memories -- the wars, pain and death as well as the love and joy (not to mention snow) from the current memory holder, or Giver (Jeff Bridges). During the process of receiving memories Jonas feels that what has happened to the Community isn't right, and...well, it goes from there. By the way, Thwaites, playing a 16-year-old, is actually 25, so feel free to ogle. My grade: B-minus.

#EverySimpsonsEver -- Day Three

The FXX Simpsons marathon is in full swing! It's still very difficult for me to not just list every episode. I've left out some really great ones. In a couple of cases I chose episodes featuring big musical numbers...


8/23 2:00 AM ET “Krusty Gets Kancelled” -- Filled with guest stars appearing (or, in one case, not appearing) on Krusty's comeback special: Johnny Carson, Hugh Hefner, Bette Midler, Barry White, Luke Perry, Elizabeth Taylor and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

8/23 3:00 AM ET “Cape Feare” -- One of a series of excellent Sideshow Bob episodes.

8/23 4:30 AM ET “Treehouse of Horror IV” -- In one of the tales, Homer sells his soul. For a donut. Mmmm, donuts...where was I? Oh, year. After some family begging the Devil -- Ned Flanders -- agrees to a trial before claiming Homer's soul, and stacks the jury with: Benedict Arnold, John Wilkes Booth, Lizzie Borden, Blackbeard, John Dillinger, Richard Nixon (who was actually still alive at the time this aired)...and "the starting line-up of the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers." But something is wrong with this picture...

8/23 6:00 AM ET “Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood” -- If for nothing else but seeing Bart and Milhouse, on a Squishee bender, going crazy...Broadway style!

8/23 6:30 AM ET “The Last Temptation of Homer” -- A new co-worker is attracted to Homer, and he's attracted to her. They are chosen to represent the power plant at a convention in Capitol City. Nary a visit to a Chinese restaurant goes by without me thinking of the fortune cookies from this episode.

8/23 8:30 AM ET “Homer and Apu” -- Again, a musical number is a standout. "Who needs the Kwik-E-Mart?" Apu does. But he's been fired, and replaced by actor James Woods.

8/23 9:30 AM ET “Deep Space Homer” -- "I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords!" Oh, Kent Brockman, don't ever change.

8/23 4:00 PM ET “Treehouse of Horror V” -- One of my favorite Halloween specials, featuring the "Shining" parody and Homer's toaster-turned-time machine.

8/23 5:00 PM ET “Lisa on Ice” -- A hockey episode! Needing to avoid failing gym, Lisa accidentally discovers that she's a stellar goalie. And once she gets into it, look out: “Hey, Milhouse! Knock him down if he’s in your way. Jimbo! Jimbo, go for the face! Look! Ralph Wiggum lost his shin guard. Hack the bone! Hack the bone!” Homer, at first, has a different view: "Lisa, if the Bible has taught us nothing else -- and it hasn't -- it's that girls should stick to girls' sports, such as hot-oil wrestling, foxy boxing, and such-and-such." Bonus quote: "Me fail English? That's unpossible!"

8/23 7:00 PM ET “Homer the Great” -- Stonecutters. 'Nuff said.

8/23 11:00 PM ET “Two Dozen and One Greyhounds” -- In which Santa's Little Helper becomes a father twenty-five times over, and Mr. Burns offers to take all the puppies in...in order to make a tuxedo. Musical standout: "See My Vest."


8/23 12:00 AM ET “So It’s Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show”
8/23 2:30 PM ET “Another Simpsons Clip Show”

These two are pretty easy. The first is framed by Bart's April Fool's prank on Homer that goes badly (for Homer), and the second by a family discussion of love and romance with similarly-themed clips.