Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The best damn news I've read all week?

No, not that Britney, Paris, and Lindsay have formed an unholy trinity of... I don't even know what to call it. (Thanks, Spinster Girl.)

I'm probably at risk of really letting my geek feathers show this week, with yesterday's spaceship post. But with today's news (just read at this late hour - hey, I was busy today) from The Hollywood Reporter (via Pop Candy) that HBO is developing a series based on one of my all-time favorite "graphic novels," I'm a giddy little late-night blogger.

Preacher might be (hyperbole alert!) one of the best things ever committed to paper by pencil, ink, and color. The title character (Jesse Custer) is a minister having a crisis of faith who suddenly finds himself merged with something called "Genesis," the unholy spawn of an angel and demon. This gives him the power of "The Word," which Custer can use to make anyone do exactly what he says.

(Custer's use of "The Word" leads to some hilarious scenarios throughout the series, such as when he tells some poor sap to "go #@$% himself." And that's exactly what the guy tries to do, which doesn't quite agree with human physiology.)

The main thrust of the series is that Custer decides to use his power to find God - not in a spiritual sense, but a literal one. And once he finds God, the plan is to confront him and make him answer for what he's let happen to the world.

But it's all about the journey, not the destination, as they say. And the authors of the story, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, created one fantastic cast of characters. There's Custer's girlfriend, Tulip, who happens to have once been an assassin. The two of them eventually hook up with Cassidy, an Irish alcoholic vampire with a mutual admiration for Bill Hicks.

You've also got Arseface, a kid with a severely disfigured face as the result of trying to kill himself as Kurt Cobain did. Herr Starr, who pursues Custer on behalf of The Grail - which tries to keep the bloodline of Christ alive - only to become a Wile E. Coyote type of figure that always loses. The Saint of Killers, an old cowboy who's basically a hitman for God. Top them off with the inbred descendant of Jesus Christ and the ghost of John Wayne, and you have yourself one hell of a series.

C'mon - tell me you don't want to read that now. (And if you're already a fan, let me know if I missed anything.) Nod your head in agreement that there's no way a two-hour movie could've adequately captured the whole thing. You need the serial progression of a weekly series, and a medium that allows for a larger, over-arching story. It's perfect for a HBO show.

Well, except the pilot is reportedly being written by the man who brought us Daredevil (with Ghost Rider soon to come) and the director of such gems as The Replacements and The Whole Ten Yards. Okay, it's kind of movie-snobby, but that's a bit of a concern. I'm not sure I care, however, if it means I get to see Preacher's sick and twisted brilliance brought to live action.

Make this happen, HBO. Remember, you're not just TV. (And though he's already starred in another one of your series, see if this guy's interested in playing Jesse Custer. He's good.)

▪▪ Here's more from The Movie Blog.

▪▪ And a list of all the Preacher trade paperbacks at

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Name your spaceship!

I found this via the "Table of Malcontents" blog at It's a list from, ranking the Top 10 Movie Spaceships.

They seemed to get it right, because I can't think of any spaceships to add to the list off the top of my head. At least I can't think of anything from movies, other than the X-Wing and Tie Fighters from the Star Wars movies. (Tie Fighters rule! They could spin all around, you could fly three of them side-by-side in a Death Star trench, and they made that screaming noise when they flew by! Plus, they were just easier toys to handle as a kid.)

I could rattle off a few from TV shows. The Colonial Vipers and Cylon Raiders from Battlestar Galactica (old and new). The Star Fighters and Draconian Marauders from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

And then there's the one ship that I was ready to shout out, but kept quiet because I thought it was only on a TV show. But wait - it was also in a movie! (The Wired blog mentioned it too, so it's not like I thought of it first.) The Serenity! From the movie, which happens to be also titled Serenity. And the TV show, Firefly! Not ringing a bell?

So if I say a "03-K64 Firefly-class mid-bulk transport with a standard radion accelerator core," that does nothing for you?

Um... Browncoats, unite? No? Still nothing?

Okay, whatever. But if you're making a spaceship list, the Serenity should be on there, man. Is there anything we're missing?

Monday, November 20, 2006

That's what she said! (Episode #8.0)

It was the moment fans of The Office have been waiting for all season, so big that NBC "super-sized" the episode, and promoted the hell out it of all week: the reunion of Jim and Pam, following the merger of the Scranton and Stamford branches of Dunder-Mifflin.

Was it the best episode of the season or "worst. episode. ever"? Are you on "Team Pam" or "Team Karen"? Did you think Jim behaved like a jerk? And even if he was, did Pam deserve that kind of treatment for breaking the poor guy's heart? Or should she be left off the hook after serving her emotional penance?

Okay, that sounds kind of heavy. That's not what we said on That's What She Said this week. But as usual, we looked at it from virtually every angle, along with the other storylines from the episode, such as the beginnings of a feud between suck-ups, and debating whether or not a woman should use a breast pump at her desk for the whole office to see. (And man, did I work hard not to say something stupid there.)

Episode #8.0 is available for your downloading and listening pleasure, either from the That's What She Said home page or via iTunes. Feedback and constructive criticism are always much appreciated, so if you feel the need to chime in, please send along some e-mail. And as always, thanks for listening!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Truly a Michigan man

Legendary (and I'm not using that word thoughtlessly) Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler passed away this morning at the age of 77.

Suddenly, tomorrow's Michigan-Ohio State game seems like nothing more than that: Just a game. And I'm struggling to find the right word for the timing of this, because so many apply.

I have a couple of Bo Schembechler stories that I'd like to tell, one of which is particularly special because it involves my father. Dad loved Michigan football and admired Bo greatly. (No one could say the words "a Michigan man" with more pride and quiet ferocity than Coach Schembechler.) And at some point, I really want to write about the time we both met Bo because I really do feel like that day had an impact on my life. Right now, however, it doesn't feel quite right.

Rest in peace, Bo.

Oh, this should be fun

I don't talk much about The Office here, other than posts and links to That's What She Said - mostly because it's Matt's show, and he just invited me along for the ride (for which I'm extremely grateful, by the way). And it's not until this season that I really became a devoted viewer.

But I happened to be online last night while the show was on (working on something), and a few people sent me instant messages, looking for some instant reaction. "Oh my God - how can you not be watching?! Jim and Pam! JAM! PIM! JAMMER! Reunion!"

Unfortunately, the computer's in a different room from the TV (Papa needs a brand new laptop), and now that I belong to the DVR Nation, I knew I'd just catch it later on.

It was pretty amusing (and believe me, I'd have rather been watching TV at that point), but I probably shouldn't have been surprised. Last night's episode, "The Merger," was hugely anticipated, with the moment fans have yearned for all season.

But since then (just over 12 hours, I realize)... the reaction has been sort of mixed. And that leads us to stuff like this:

Whose side are you on, man? (Check out the blogs that led to the t-shirts.)

If you listen to TWSS, I don't think I've been too coy about where I stand. I find exotic-looking women who could've been fathered by G.I.s rather appealing. But judging from this thread at Pop Candy, I may not be as much in the minority as I once believed.

But while chatting with Spinster Girl last night, I realized that these might not ultimately be the sides to choose. Whose side are you on between Jim and Pam? Are either of them being immature? Does someone deserve what he or she is getting? Think about that over your coffee this morning, 'hoss.

Matt, I can't wait to record the next episode...

Monday, November 13, 2006

The "Lights" are staying on

Congratulations to my buddy Clint, and everyone else associated with Friday Night Lights, as they got some great news from NBC today. As first reported by TV Guide's Michael Ausiello, the show was picked up for a full season by the network, meaning 22 episodes will be broadcast.

I was able to briefly chat with Clint this afternoon (just an hour after they got the news themselves - that Ausiello guy is fast!), and he said a celebratory lunch was being enjoyed by all. I'm sure those were some damn tasty sandwiches.

I know it might seem like I'm saying this just because my friend works on the show, but Friday Night Lights is some damn fine television, and I've become insanely fond of the show.

If you haven't given it a chance yet, I don't think you'd be sorry for giving up an hour of your time. Tuesdays at 8 p.m.! Plus, FOX moved House to 9 p.m., so nothing good is standing in your way anymore.

That's what she said! (Episode #7.0)

It's not like I wasn't going to watch The Office anyway (especially now that I'm doing the That's What She Said podcast with Matt), but when you take the time to stick with a show, you want to be rewarded. You want to see those dangling storylines addressed, and you hope the writers give you answers in a satisfying way.

We knew that the Scranton and Stamford branches of Dunder-Mifflin were going to merge. We just didn't know how. And it was fun to see the machinations that the writers set in motion this week to make that happen.

Best episode of the season? Well, I'd probably still go with "Gay Witch Hunt." But "Branch Closing" was a very close second. And I might go so far as to say that our podcast covering the episode was TWSS' best. I should let you guys be the judge on that, however.

Episode #7.0 is available for your downloading and listening pleasure, either from the That's What She Said home page or via iTunes. Feedback and constructive criticism are always much appreciated, so if you feel the need to chime in, please send along some e-mail. And as always, thanks for listening!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Some overdue plug-ola (and admiration)

Apologies are necessary to my buddy (and new partner in podcasting crime), Kevin Antcliff, who recently started a new blog to track his weight loss. I admire the man for being so open about this stuff, as well as using the blog as a way to maintain discipline and keep a little pressure on himself.

Speaking of discipline, it's worth noting that Kevin isn't hiring a personal trainer. He's not trying any special diets. He's doing this the old-fashioned way: Eating less and exercising more.

I should really (really, really) follow Kevin's example, but I'm not quite as brave a guy. And I guess I'm still too giddy from joining the 21st century. Nothing promotes weight loss like having a new reason to spend more time in front of the TV, right?

Kevin's new blog is titled The 100 (or is it now called "The 87"?), and can be found at

And I really should mention my podcast with Kevin. It's called The Sporting Noobs, and is posted each Tuesday. On each podcast, we'll talk about the big stories and games from the past week in sports, and try to keep things funny, while we're at it. We've done two shows so far - with topics including the World Series, the NBA's new "no talkback" rule, and the big NFL match-ups of the week - and are hopefully getting better.

Give it a listen, if you're interested. (And if you like what you hear, please leave a comment at the show's page, or even better, a positive review on iTunes!)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The revolution will be televised

Yesterday was a big day at Casa de Casselberry. Big. Grande. As in, things will be changing far too much to ever go back.

First, a bit of context: My family has always been behind the times when it comes to technology. We'll join the party a good two to three years after various innovations become a mainstream part of the culture.

The microwave? Everyone else had one first. We were still heating up Hungry-Mans in the regular oven.

A VCR? At least we didn't get one of those top-loading ones. But again, all of my friends had long begun assembling a collection of movies on videotape and never had to miss a favorite TV show.

A personal computer? This one is really embarrassing. I don't know how my sister and I went on to college with only an electric typewriter/word processor to work with. Even when we finally got one, it was a Mac - and that was before they became cool again.

Due to this near-Luddite upbringing, I'd like to think that my sister and I - now adults with semi-disposable incomes of our own - have managed to outgrow our parents' tendencies. We still lagged behind a bit when it came to cell phones and DVD players, but at least we're not the only kids in the neighborhood looking for pay phones and movies on VHS anymore.

We might not be a step ahead of the curve, but at least we ride the crest of the wave. (Did I just mix two cliches there?) We have digital cameras. We're not using dial-up to connect to the internet. We listen to iPods when we're working out (or in my case, pretending to work out).

But when it's come to cable television and all that it currently offers, I've acted more like my parents than I'd care to admit. (Cable TV, by the way, was something we got long after my friends did. However, my parents did unwittingly make me one of the cool kids by subscribing to the Playboy Channel.) While everyone else has been upgrading to digital cable and feeding on hundreds of channels, I've been puttering along with my near-basic package of 80 or so choices.

But hey, at least one of them was HBO. Ian needs his "Sopranos," "Entourage, "Deadwood," and "Wire." Actually, my insistence on pulling in HBO forced me to partially upgrade my service. Comcast required a digital box for a premium channel. And that began the feeling of "You can look, but you can't touch." I could scroll down the digital guide menu and see all the channels that were available. But I couldn't watch any of them, thanks to my stubbornness (and frankly, willingness to part with disposable income).

The tipping point was the end of my VCR. About a month ago, the thing decided that it would rather eat videocassettes than play them. I tried to address the problem rationally. But trying to pry a cassette out the VCR's mouth with a screwdriver, only to realize that four episodes of Battlestar Galactica were now mangled and lost, sent me over the edge.

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. And the VCR didn't either - especially after I euthanized it. Not one of my most mature moments in this lifetime. There was throwing, smashing, and stomping. I wasn't going to be satisfied until I cracked it open and left its innards sprayed all over the floor. But you know what? It's not healthy to keep those feelings inside. Or so I hear.

My friends were happy for me. Now I could finally join the 21st century and get a DVR. But I still resisted. Money was a bit tight. And I still had my eye on replacing the laptop that left this earth approximately three months ago. (R.I.P., you hunk of junk.) So I thought I could get by without taping any television. I was home most evenings. I would just make sure I was in front of the TV when my favorite shows came on. That's how they used to do it in the old days, right?

But then people would call while these shows were on. Or I wouldn't finish my work in time. The biggest problem, however, was that the baseball playoffs demanded my attention like never before. Even with the networks showing mostly reruns, I was still missing too much. I was out of the loop. I'd fallen behind on some of my favorites, like Nip/Tuck and the aforementioned Battlestar Galactica. I had to face reality: This was not working.

So yesterday, I finally gave in to progress. (Plus, I have a little bit of money to burn now.) I got me one of those fancy-schmancy DVRs. (And as a result, I had to upgrade my cable, so I now have NFL Network. Oh, and other stuff like the National Geographic and Sundance channels, but they don't show football on those.) No longer will I be missing my shows. And if I want to watch House in the morning over breakfast, I can. Last night was wonderful. Me and my remote control in bed, under the sheets, setting recordings for my favorite programs.

I'm positively glowing today. Complete strangers are asking me for my secret. I grabbed the woman behind me in line at the coffee shop this morning and just kissed her. Dipped her and then laid one on her. And she didn't slap me. She just fixed her hair and smiled. Because she could tell I was a changed man and had to share my joy with the world.

It is a brand new era at Casa de Casselberry. One in which I will watch even more TV. Oh, I should be getting plenty more done.

Monday, November 06, 2006

That's what she said! (Episode #6.0)

What's that, you say? An American sitcom writing an episode that takes place within a celebration of the Hindu holiday, Diwali? That sounds like some potentially groundbreaking television, my friends. And what fertile territory to mine for laughs!

But, um, what if that episode isn't very good?

That's what That's What She Said faces this week, as Matt and I break down the latest edition of The Office, appropriately titled "Diwali."

What kind of mess has Michael Scott gotten himself into this time? (And should any mortal man expect to endure such an emotional beating?) Was Jim's new co-worker taking advantage of his Jager-bombed state? Has Pam become a meanie? Don't you wish you worked at a place where the boss passed out the Kama Sutra? And should there have been more, well, Diwali stuff? All this and more on the latest TWSS podcast.

Episode #6.0 is available for your downloading and listening pleasure, either from the That's What She Said home page or via iTunes. Feedback and constructive criticism are always much appreciated, so if you feel the need to chime in, please send along some e-mail. And as always, thanks for listening!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Trick or tradition?

Okay, I meant to post this yesterday, as it would've been much more timely. Posting it the day after Halloween doesn't quite give it the same juice.

I would love to cast blame upon circumstances such as my brain being fried from working on my new podcast with Kevin Antcliff - which (ahem) you can find here - or finding myself having to gather up a fall season's worth of leaves in one afternoon, before the city comes to sweep them off the street.

But I can't whine as much about raking leaves as I have in the past because this year, I'm rocking out the leaf blower. Yep. Finally, I can blow leaves onto my neighbor's lawn as he's "accidentally" done to me over the past few years. Oh, and I will also blow out my #@$%ing ears because the thing is so damn loud. Somebody's shopping for protective headphones tomorrow. Oooh, I should blog about that!

Am I digressing? Pardon me. What I wanted to say was that I was a total grouch on Halloween. No candy for the kids! I see 'em walking through the neighborhood. I know they're out there. I know they want their candy. I wanted it at their age, too. (And man, did I get it.) Also, my father loved passing candy out to trick-or-treaters. Every year, he dug the same jack o' lantern lamp out of the basement - the one he bought when I was a toddler - and stuck it in the front window, so the orange glow would pull the kids up our driveway. It was like a Bat-signal for the sweet-toothed.

I would've liked to continue Dad's tradition of bringing joy to the youth. Because children, as you know, are the future. But I kind of have my own tradition now. It's one of cowardice - or more specifically, hiding in my bedroom to watch TV with every single light in the house turned off.

I even tried to get my car really dirty, so moonlight wouldn't reflect off of it, giving the children a glimpse of light, and making them think that my door was willing to be knocked on. Oh, my dad would surely be proud.

But I've been scarred. Or jaded. Take your pick. A few little $#!+s in Iowa City ruined Halloween for me - and thus for every candy-seeking child within walking distance of my house - two years ago. Here's my original post on the subject, titled "You have to wear a costume!" which I also linked to last year. And guess what, I'm linking to it again this year. Yeah, that's right. Is that lazy? No, it's a tradition!

That's your trick, kids. That's what you get for being greedy. And even worse, for not even taking the time to dress up. If I have to get up off my ass every two minutes to answer the door, the least you could do is entertain me. (And no, your hot single mom waiting in the driveway doesn't count.) Bah!