shoebox_dw: (peanuts hope)
I've been waiting until the flist reactions came in because I was so afraid, given how massive a reboot really was needed, of all the things they might try to 'modernise' TOS. A mad villain with a perpetual deformed grin bent on undermining the Federation was the least of it.

But according to the reviews thus far, it's OK. They did make one huge change, of course, but apparently only to create an alternate timeline. Somewhere, somehow, there still exists an entire planet of people wearing zoot suits led by Vic Tayback. The reason I will probably end up paying good money to see this thing in-theatre is that the creators, judging by their film, seem to believe that too.

That they comprise most of the writing team from Transformers: The Movie surely doesn't hurt. As per that flick, nobody is under the impression that they're recreating the Big Bang - and with Trek, boy the temptation must've been there. Imagine, being handed the keys to one of the great pop-culture franchises - entities -  of the 20th-century and being told have at it. Being known as the people who saved Star Trek. Even I'm sitting here a little awed by the idea, and I have seen the ep where they turned Quark into a woman.

And, y'know, I think they just might have saved it for reals. Because from all reports, as per Transformers, they don't reboot so much as pay loving homage to what worked (like, obviously, Spock) and fix some of the stuff that didn't (like, obviously, the stupid Captain's Dog) and just generally get things back on track. Which is so cool. Because so much of TOS did work, and so much was still to be explored when it ended, and NextGen basically threw it all out in favour of All Hail the Noble Federation Rah Rah Rah.
Now, I loved NextGen for what it was, which at its best was a damn good action-adventure series, and I loved Patrick Stewart especially for forcing past Roddenberry's perfection of the average and making Picard believably noble. Everybody else...well, they hung out on a starship reminiscent of a Comfort Inn lobby for seven years and nobody so much as suggested a repaint. Something always a little off to me about a Trek where the main cast works best as a backdrop/facilitators for the really interesting stuff.

DS9 fixed most of that, and brilliantly in spots, but they had a much different story to tell. Voyager just sputtered along on reputation and technobabble, and let it lie where it gently collapsed, I suppose.

I cringe a little, whenever I hear anybody going on about Trek's 'vision', and how sacred it is. Because really, very little about TOS was ever coherent in the way Babylon Five or Battlestar Galactica are. Gene Roddenberry had some decent ideas about where humankind was and where we needed to be going, but he also had a space cowboy riding the final frontier with a pretty girl at his side and his fists at the ready. The scripts were intelligent, erudite even, but the execution was sometimes unbearably campy. (Reading the James Blish novelisations - based off first-drafts - well before seeing the eps may give me a sensitivity to that particular phenomenon. Some of the most outre eps were once the most brilliant.)

But the incoherence is precisely why TOS not only worked but became iconic. It had no clear sense of what to be About, so it just went ahead and was about everything - like a certain race of two-legged mammals we all know far too well. Life, the Universe, whatever was on tap that week, Original Trek met it with cockeyed heroism and humour and willingness to throw itself into the philosophical breach. The sheer unbridled humanity of it all has probably never been matched in any dramatic series since.
It was, in short, a celebration of just how screwed up we actually are. The hope lay not in our perfectibility, but in our willingness to try. And at the centre of it all stood a tall, elegant, coolly unimpressed figure able to save us from ourselves whenever needed. Including when we needed to reassure ourselves that we really do matter, which is of course pretty much perpetually. Look! Can't even figure out emotions, the poor sod! Boy, good thing for the galaxy we're out here, huh? Yippy-kay-yay!

OK, yes, I'm one of those annoying Trekkers who can never quite shut up. Short version: There's this new movie. No dog. Lots of Spock. I grok.
shoebox_dw: (bob&ray)
Getting this out of my system early this week, as I've got other stuff to worry about (as in, Oh God I Just Posted All The Fiction Now What?!)

Anyhow, this isn't so much new! and exciting! as housekeeping - I've had these YouTube clips on Favourite for ages, but somehow've never gotten around to linking them here. Which is odd, because they really do deserve it. Besides showcasing B&R at their most personable, it's also a fun little window into the David Letterman phenomenon circa... I'm not sure, really, except it must be the very early stages. There's some background whooping and hollering that suggests Chris Elliott has been newly installed under the seats.

Part One involves intros and a typically unique take on shilling the latest project (the flick in question is Author, Author!, and yes, it's a comedy):


Part Two showcases a couple of skits from their prime (you can tell, because the second opens with a decidedly, albeit good-naturedly, un-PC flourish):


Who who?

Jan. 9th, 2009 09:26 pm
shoebox_dw: (peanuts afraid)
OK, I am a trifle peeved about this whole Matt Smith thing. Because there I was, all set to leap into the Doctor Who experience, and I had figured that this impossibly crazy-sexy-cool Eleven everybody kept promising was going to be my jumping-in point, as it were. I would ride onto the TARDIS on a wave of general fun and excitement.

...Yeah. I don't automatically exclude gangly white dudes from coolness, but I do sort of expect them to at least have eyebrows.

Anyway, my enthusiasm for the revival series has been fading for other reasons. After a rigorous grounding course involving close reading of the show's TVTropes page over lunch, I figured it was time to move on to airdates here in Canada. Thusly over to the CBC, and ep synopses...uh, whoa. At the risk of sounding like I've regenerated one too many times myself, this is not the Doctor I remember.

I recall, as a nine-year-old or so, a lovely slice of low-key cheeze that aired on PBS-wannabe TVOntario. So low-key, I half-assumed it was made by TVO. It featured mildly trippy opening music and an amiable bug-eyed guy in a scarf. Note its appearance on this Classic TVOntario Children's Series tribute site; this is my Doctor. He had a robot dog. He did not have angst. Or Die Hard-level S/F/X, for that matter.

This is a recurring issue with me and most serial TV these days; I don't care about the angst, OK? Seriously. Enough with the self-absorbed whingeing. And while we're at it, down also with storylines so insanely convoluted and self-referential that I now hear people on subways planning to spend entire weekends 'catching up' on Lost. "I haven't gotten to it in ages," they say, with that sheepish 'caught me!' air that used to indicate never having read, say, Proust.

So it's pretty clear that not only will I have to sit through acres of the Doctor upset because being distracted by an ingrown toenail or something prevented him from saving a solar system, I'd have to go right back to the beginning ('Episode 1.01: The Doctor Notices a Certain Redness and Swelling') to appreciate it. Count me out.

Thus my new plan: to somehow, somewhere, get my mitts on the old-school Who DVDs I know must exist, and start from the beginning. Tinfoil Daleks forever!
shoebox_dw: (pbs truism)

So I'm browsing the threads over at the Comics Curmudgeon the other day, and ran across a poster with the handle 'Wally Ballou'. This provoked a mild little ripple of mirth from a few others...along with comments on how unexpected it was that people were getting the reference, as they'd've thought it 'too old' for the audience.

Erm. Given what I've been able to gather about the average age of the 'Mudgeons, also further observations elsewhere...this gave me reason for a rather lengthy pause. Apparently I'm not just the only dedicated Bob & Ray fan online, I may be the only Bob & Ray fan anywhere under 45.

Realising you're this unique on the World Wide Web is, as you can imagine, a deeply bemusing experience. Still, it's rather a pleasantly knowing one, as compared to...perhaps that one person on TVTropes who keeps adding Jem & the Holograms examples. I'm sorry, love, but there it is. On this side, brilliant, groundbreaking comedy; on the other, the '80's version of Hannah Montana.

...About that. Not Hannah, so much as High School Musical. Owing to media saturation around the third edition I have finally figured out what all the hype is about, and I gotta tell you, gang, no offense, but as far as I can tell the reason I hadn't picked up on it before was because there's nothing there to pick up. Something like cotton candy on a hot day at the Ex - one swipe, a shrug, and it's on to the next bright shiny distraction.

Well, maybe not that cheap. I mean, the part where friend[info]shing_ posts hot pictures of shiny wet topless Zac, that I get OK. Not my taste, but I can sincerely appreciate the effort. It's just that...hell, Jem had the computer gimmick, y'know? And Hannah M. has at least the occasional amusingly surreal Dolly Parton cameo. Maybe the ep I watched was the anomaly, but for one glorious moment Dolly was there. Vicki Lawrence, too. And the 'Achy Breaky Heart' guy.

HSM, on the other hand, is...just...there's no there there at all, except inasmuch as its leads are pretty. Yes, historically this has been justification for quite a lot of pop-culture, but this...this is like a running compilation of all the moments that the teen dream media machine itself considers cliche. Realising that the current craze sweeping the post-millennial nation is based around an episode plot used by every single 80's sitcom I ever watched (and a healthy few of the 70's ones, too) is the second most deeply bemusing thing I have encountered this week.

(Especially the 'Sharpay' business. I'm a little slow, so it just hit me: A Shar-pei is a dog breed. A notoriously goofy-looking dog breed. Yeah, I get the joke, but the point is, it's a really stupid joke. I can just about see proud [if slightly dense] new parents gazing down at their little red wrinkly bundle of joy and saying "Awww, doesn't widdle snookums wook just wike a widdle shar-pei doggers!" But a screenwriter naming their blond bombshell rich-bitch nemesis? Not so much.)
shoebox_dw: (peanuts afraid)
[returns from checking Statcounter re: latest entry, looking slightly dazed]

So I guess I really am pretty much alone in this Bob & Ray obsession, huh? People insist on having exciting and interesting lives instead of hanging off my every post, eh?

Well, OK then. I will deal with this in a manner not unreminiscent of the greats of literature; all will become grist for my creative mill...Hey, it's either this or the youngest Shoesis' ongoing love life, a serial in umpty-squillion parts, tickets on sale now at a vaudeville stage near you. The rest of the family keeps urging me to write it up, claiming that it's my ticket to becoming the next Danielle Steel; unfortunately, I'm not yet convinced that even Steel fans would buy into it.

I could also put together a nice little comic setpiece about how Shoemom and I gave up cable this past spring because we were effectively only paying for a few channels...only for the growing realisation to dawn that those channels had a deep-rooted, integral part in our lives. For instance, it's pretty tough to be home sick and not have TreehouseTV for company. (Seriously...I'm not alone in this, right? When you're feeling exhausted and miserable, the soft cheery hum of preschool cartoonage is perfectly pitched to distract and amuse. Right? C'mon, guys? Bueller?)

There was also the thing where Shoemom got all misty-eyed reminiscing about 'sitting down to a cup of coffee and the Weather Network in the morning' but, anyway, long story short. We've decided to allow ourselves to be lured back by deep discounts, also the sheer ridiculous good nature of the twentysomethings who man the services desk at our local Rogers Communications.
These are the same people who charmed us into switching Net providers in their favour not long ago, and they remain just as smart and - the clincher - realistic about their products. This is such a sure ticket to my heart, the demonstration of concern for my needs as opposed to their bottom line, that I am really, really glad more customer service types haven't twigged to the concept. Shoe Central doesn't have that much space available.

...So the point of all this - no, really, go back and check - actually has its roots in the last post but one, in which I mentioned one of my favourite books...come to think of it, I'd been pondering the concept some while before that, back when I was ranting about fandom as a symptom of overexposure.

Read more... )
shoebox_dw: (mythbusters problem) should be pretty obvious by now...I like Mythbusters, the Discovery Channel show. A lot.

As should also be even more obvious, the show has inspired one of the most thorough fandoms in the history of teh interwebz. When the official site gives a link to the Wiki, it's pretty much game over.

Never let it be said, however, that we here @ Shoe Central are daunted by intellectual ubiquity...well, we are, generally, but not in this case. Because we have come up with a bold new angle from which we are reasonably certain the show has never been approached before: We don't care about the science stuff.

Really. This holds true for many aspects of our lives (got any jokes about intelligent design? Keep 'em to yourself). We like to be told about the science stuff, mind; it falls under the general heading of How the World Really Works, aka Huh, Never Would've Thought of That, and this fascinates us in perpetuity regardless of subject. It is in fact a major reason why we are likewise fascinated with history, also why it took us so long to realise that watching Dirty Jobs involved way too many excrement-based professions for comfort.

Read more... )
shoebox_dw: (kitty attack)
So first of all I must mention the loverly little shout-out West of Bathurst creator Kari Maaren was kind enough to award me in return the other day. Given the bit about my being 'a good writer', I will go so far as to add that if she ever does install a forum, I will become a charter member.


This is going to be a quick post. It's only that I have a strange compulsion to comment on the current TV scene; strange, because  I don't watch any of it, or for that matter have cable in the first place. I do however pass huge banks of posters for it every day to and from, which means they're working, I guess. I am starting to feel what I believe are 'vibes' from 'the buzz'. It's either about the new fall season or drinking all that Sprite at lunch, one of the two., huh? This Darkness thing, pretty, uh...dark. Yeah. Weeds, heh, a suburban mom selling dope! See, it's funny, 'cause it's so at odds with her fresh, wholesome image! What edgy concept will those whacky sitcom producers come up with next? Maybe a show about a suburban mom who's really a witch, or something!
Or - wait - a hit woman! Yeah, I'm offering that one for free right here. Called...Babes and Bullets, maybe. They could do an episode where she gets so wound up after a morning trapped indoors with a Dora the Explorer DVD that she finally snaps and empties her semiautomatic into the TV set, screaming "Repeat this, you little ___!" Insta-ratings smash, I guarantee it.

(Slightly) more seriously, there's this one Global ad - in the 'BIG' series, if it helps - that features this shot of a really hunky guy looking all ironically dark and brooding, that I wouldn't mind somebody naming him for me so my flippings through People at the grocery checkout can have some real purpose. The poster is captioned 'BIG Trouble'. If it helps.

Then I get on the subway, and because of the unwritten agreement among rush-hour passengers that we are so not making any eye contact we don't get paid for, I end up spending a lot of time staring at an overhead insert showing all the Desperate Housewives, reruns now on Bravo channel.
'Least, I think it's all of them. Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria and a couple blondes on the ends I don't recognise. They're all wearing frankly inexplicable wine-coloured cocktail dresses, and they're all doing their best to look like Women on the Verge. What scares me a bit is that they're succeeding. I thought this was all supposed to be lighthearted parody, but Teri there especially looks like they gave her a strand of pearls for the express purpose of breaking it with her teeth.

Also, Marcia Cross - whom I cannot for the life of me imagine just calling 'Marcia' - it occurs to me, staring at this thing, that I've never seen a pic of her looking straight on at the camera. She's always looking out at me with a knowing smile from under brows set in little arches of irony, with that great glowing Forehead looming over it all.
It could be a nifty little satirical comment on real female desperation in Hollywood - Behold, the Power of Botox! - but I'm pretty sure that's not what she's going for, and instead of being intimidated I start getting uncomfortable, the way you do when you're sitting and you're talking to someone who's standing. "Erm, Marcia Cro...Marcia? You can let your occipital lobes down now. No, please, really."


Aug. 23rd, 2008 09:20 pm
shoebox_dw: (lucy)
So I'm walking briskly through the usual office corridors on my way to drop off samples - I always walk briskly, because I am hopeful that if I move fast enough my body language will communicate 'successful career woman' instead of 'woman who forgot to make the hair appointment this week'.

Anyhoo, so the walk is brisk and relatively automatic...hello sample rooms, hi random lunch remnants glued to the kitchen microwave, howdy lingerie buyer's office with the nursing-bra-shaped flyer on the door...until I get to the receiving area, which is a hallway that connects the loading docks to the mailroom, and realise I can't go any further as the way is being blocked by several paramedics (!) plus a bunch of concerned and excited-looking passers-by, none of whom I have ever seen in my life. And fresh off the set of Total Non-Sequitur Theatre, here is also an elderly guy in a Hawaiian shirt and straw boater.

Actually, as you may have guessed by now - took me about five seconds to stride briskly the hell out of there and find out - all of these people were on-set for some ruddy Canadian TV show or another, I've long since shirked the duty of keeping track of which is which. It's the one that features Jimmy Buffett wannabes solving crimes next to random special-order appliances, is the best I can tell you. You might wanna keep an eye on the listings.

What gets me about this entire sequence of events enough to record it isn't so much the novelty - those fellow Torontonians reading this are already laughing, shaking their heads and sharing their 'stumbled on-set' stories, possibly their collections. You cannot stride anywhere in Hollywood North without somebody's recording the local colour for posterity. Which, I might add, does not exactly do wonders for preserving the Magic of Filmmaking. I understand that 99.99% of anything is grunt work, and TV is no exception; but there is still something deeply bemusing about watching people make elaborate efforts to document completely mundane walls, alleys, gas stations, that kind of thing.

There are far too many cables and trailers and featureless side streets and not enough Brad Pitt in the Canadian filmmaking mileu, is what I am delicately trying to hint here. Not that any self-respecting Torontonian would ever admit this. Next time we're at a party, remind me to tell you about the time a bunch of apparently frightened squawking kids ricocheted off Shoemom and I - thus, I fondly envision, earning us immortality as Startled Adults Nos. 3 & 4 in That One Kid's Show (Probably Based Off a Popular Scholastic Book Series) Where They Panic Outside the Museum a Lot.

Even under these circs, however, I reserve the right to be genuinely tickled over the cop show filming in our receiving area. I could not for the life of me figure out how it had been selected for the honour. I envision Canadian production execs standing around at cocktail parties, going "Damn, Harvey, if I could only get the right atmosphere for the big murder scene! I want something different, something...shiny. Yeah, reflective surfaces, that's the way to go! The cold, cold Big City reflected in the paramedic's eyes..."

And Harvey goes "Look, Don, I still got the number of that guy who lent us the blanket for the latest Native doc, lemme make some calls."


Jun. 25th, 2008 09:36 pm
shoebox_dw: (lucy)
I know I ought to be updating more often lately, but honestly, even for the (inexplicably) dedicated readers this blog has, there's not much percentage in it that I can see. Life is just sort of puttering along - rather like the weather - here @ Shoe Central. Partly interesting, with a 40% chance of amusing overnight.

I did get my Bob & Ray CDs, but would imagine by now that even the most dedicated readers - say, the top one or two - don't want to sit through another ramble on that subject. Let us just say that I'm having a wonderful time, especially with the ep in which the guys take off on 'modern radio sales techniques' that sound rather alarmingly like, well, modern sales techniques.  ("Hello Dave! My, your hair looks so natural and un-patent-leathery!").
shoebox_dw: (gf enlightened)
So, moving along now. Not that the ongoing FBoFW plotline doesn't continue to bug big-time, because it does (hell, at this point even LJ's fellow 50's relicts are likely all "Whoa, lady, let them sow a few wild oats, eh?").

However. One of the reasons that I started this blog in the first place was to avoid becoming one of those Netizens who believe their life now has Meaning  because they've found a forum to vent about comic strips. (Which does not, I feel compelled to add, include the majority of the posters at Comics Curmudgeon or [ profile] binky_betsy, whose wide and entertaining knowledge of the world is actually what makes their snark readable.) 

Thus we progress with all decent speed from the Settleocalypse to...the Cableocalypse.

See, Shoemom and I have recently concluded a review of the family budget wherein it emerged that we spend upwards of $70/month to watch for all practical purposes, four cable channels: Discovery, Food Network, HGTV and TreehouseTV. Or maybe five, if you count the Turner Classic Movie channel, which you pretty much have to, on account of every so often they snap and show things like They Died With Their Boots On - a biopic of Gen. George Armstrong Custer starring Errol Flynn. Which proves to be about as good an idea as a biopic of Barack Obama starring Keanu Reeves.
I mean, there's historical revisionism, and then there's recasting the arrogant loser of Little Big Horn as a selfless - crusading! - hero in a 40's biopic. The movie's main case for heroism appears to be that he's attracted the love of a woman (Olivia de Haviland, natch) who wears really elaborate costumes.

Barring such incidental pleasures, the more we discussed the matter the more difficult it became to ignore the value-for-money issues surrounding the likes of Smash Lab and Fifi & the Flowertots, to say nothing of Paula Deen.

Read more... )
shoebox_dw: (Default)
Oh, I'm so proud. Today, I take one more step toward becoming a Real Blogger. The (unwitting) Blue Fairy in the case is [personal profile] shing  , who not only provided me the template for the meme itself but the idea for an excuse for using one. :^)

To wit: I've got not a lot of time to work up original thoughts at the moment, it being circuit assembly weekend  (sort of a motivational seminar for Jehovah's Witnesses).
Drifting off during the sessions, even to work on one's literary career, is as you might imagine frowned upon; besides, I have to take notes, there'll be a test later (well, a review, anyway). So without further ado, I present: my TV-watching habits. In glorious Technicolour, natch.


Jan. 1st, 2008 08:49 pm
shoebox_dw: (lucy)
Public service announcement: I really must apologise to all - uh - [glances at statcounter] - any of the readership who may have unwittingly bought seats on the Great Bob & Ray Essay Kaleidoscope these past few weeks.
It started out as just your standard offhand blogger's appreciation I swear; but then an unexpected hit from a Los Angeles IP address started me thinking that it would probably be a good idea, when writing a public tribute, not to leave the impression that any live honourees were deceased. I got interested, and started researching, and realised I'd left out some really great details...well, you can imagine, after forty years there are a lot of details.

So the next thing I knew I was working on a full-fledged little article.
(Should anyone with a personal interest in fact be reading, I'd like to stop right here and say thanks. Not sure what for, specifically, but I have developed a very great need to thank somebody for those forty years.)

'Tennyrate, the really good news is that I've just added the very very last, finishing touches this afternoon. I think. Well, barring any shocking! revelations of late-night cavorting on the set of Bob & Ray & Jane & Laraine & Gilda, the SNL special they taped in the 70's...

...OK, getting grip once and for all. Seriously, as far as I can tell both Elliott and Goulding were perfect gentlemen at all times; even while throwing a spelling bee to a miniskirted Laraine Newman they come off as the dear old grandfathers they were by then. Albeit I do wonder if the little ones were allowed to stay up and watch their Grandpas chorus Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?...

[Um, in business suits. You can put down the brain bleach now. Sorry.]


So life acquires a distinctly whimsical edge anyway, when you conflate vacation days with the holidays...


shoebox_dw: (Default)

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