Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Career Opportunity

Are you worried about job security? Of course, we all are! But don't fret...I'm here to tell you about the #1 growth industry for the 21st Century. That's right...you too can become a Cult Leader.

"But Chris," I hear you ask, "isn't leading a cult time consuming & complicated?" Not at all. If you have a few unemployed friends, easily manipulated family members and a cool pair of sunglasses, you too can have an exciting new career that's recession proof and profitable.

With all the strife and unrest all over the world, there's never been a better time to start a cult. If you convince one person that the world is going to end and they should join you in your secluded compound deep in the mountains, and they convince two people & those two people convince two other people in no time at all you'll have more followers than you can shake a stick at (if that's your idea of a good time.)

Want to spend more time with your family? Nothing brings a family closer together like a standoff with the Feds. Teach the kids about firearms safety while shooting it out with ATF agents. And Mom can hone her chemistry skills, cooking up another batch of crystal meth to sell to finance your whole operation.

So act now...just head on out to you local Army/Navy surplus store & pick up your very own Cult Leader starter kit. Just remember to pay with cash so the secret cabal of Shriners and Rotarians who run the shadow government & are in cahoots with Ecuador and the Grand Galactic Leader from Zargon IV to take over the world & implant mood-altering chips in your head can't find you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Monsters vs. Aliens...My Review

So, I got to go to a preview screening of "Monsters vs. Aliens" last night. I've been seeing the trailers for the past few weeks, thought it looked funny & was very excited to see it. Unfortunately, this is one of those movies where the individual parts are better than the whole.

The film takes way too long setting up it's premise & introducing the characters. Once Susan (the 49 1/2 foot tall woman, voiced by Reese Witherspoon) is locked up with the other monsters, it's explained to her by General W. R. Monger (Keifer Sutherland) that the government has been capturing and containing monsters for 50 years. Ten minutes later, when the earth is invaded by a probe from space, General Monger explains to the President (Stephen Colbert in a glorified cameo) that the government has been capturing and containing monsters for 50 years. You know, just in case anyone in the audience was suffering from that "Memento" short-term memory loss thing & forgot the speech they just heard.

The kids in the audience (at least the ones last night) aren't going to care about Susan's relationship woes with obnoxious fiancee Derek (Paul Rudd at his smarmiest). I know I didn't care about them. And with all the strong, empowered female characters available today, having a heroine who spends half the movie crying about how awful it is being different sends a troubling message. Yes, Susan does learn to accept & overcome, but it takes far too long for anyone to care.

Worse, the interesting supporting monsters, Dr. Cockroach, Bob & The Missing Link wind up basically becoming a Greek chorus/cheering section for Susan. They never get a chance to become truly rounded characters, outside of a few moments of glory. Which is a shame, because they're a lot of fun and wickedly voiced by Hugh Laurie, Seth Rogen and Will Arnett.

I know, I know, "It's a kid's movie. You're being too hard on it." I don't think I am. Kid's movies today (especially one with so many homages to classic science fiction films of the past 50 years) have gotten so much smarter and strive to be so much more, that "Monsters vs. Aliens" feels like a missed opportunity. Which is a shame, since I think it wanted to be so much more than it turned out to be.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Some Way Out Of Here

I've watched & loved the reimagined "Battlestar Galactica" since it showed up on Sci-Fi just over 4 years ago. I didn't expect to love it. Actually, when I first heard about it I thought it was a spectacularly bad idea. That is, until I actually saw the show. Then I was hooked.

So, here are a few thoughts & observations on the final episode....Spoilers ahead:

*Overall, I enjoyed the finale. I'm still torn on the "give up technology & live off the land" twist. On one hand, what better way to break the cycle of violence & alienation than by having to rely on other people & nature to survive. On the other hand, who wants to live without antibiotics & toilet paper?

*Everyone, more or less, got the ending they deserved. Lee finally gets to be his own man & do his own thing. Chief gets to avenge Cally. Laura gets to lay her burdens down after getting her people home. Ellen & Tighe finally get to be together. Baltar & Caprica Six (who were together at the end of the world) get a second chance at the beginning of a new world. And Starbuck (who was never my favorite character) gets to go away.

*Poor Felix Gaeta. If he'd just held on a little longer, he would've been "Admiral Gaeta", if only for a little while.

*I want a Tyrol action figure with Tory Neck-Snapping action.

I was most surprised that this show, which could be bleak on it's best days, had a more or less happy ending & a much smaller body count than I imagined.

My thanks to Ron Moore, Edward James Olmos, Michael Hogan & the rest of the cast and crew for one of the best shows of the past 5 years. So Say We All!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

United We Stand

Who could have ever guessed that the one issues that would unite our divided population, that would bring together every race, color, creed & gamut of the social and political spectrum, that would heal the divide and have the entire country come together as one, would be the morons at AIG giving out millions in bonuses after taking bailout money from the government.

Seriously guys...when the dudes who burned the house down at Enron are looking at you & saying, "That's seriously not cool.", then you've perpetrated jackassery of the highest order.

Me Tube

As a person with an unhealthy love for television (if I don't turn my set on, the cable company will call and ask if I'm OK), I've often dreamed of programming my own network. Because I know you've been sitting around asking yourselves the burning question, "What shows, past & present would Chris put on his channel?", I'm gonna tell you.

The Big Bang Theory
WKRP in Cincinnati
Northern Exposure

The West Wing
Law & Order: Criminal Intent

The Andy Griffith Show (Black & White episodes only)
The Dick Van Dyke Show
Star Trek

30 Rock
The Office
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Battlestar Galactica

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Doctor Who
The Rockford Files

Dragnet (68-70, Dirty hippies version)
Andy Richter Controls The Universe

The Simpsons
King of the Hill
American Dad
Night Court
Hill Street Blues

There were a lot of shows I love that didn't make my prime time schedule. Rest assured, I would find slots for them in other dayparts. But this is a schedule that would keep me glued to my seat every night of the week.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall

Usually I'm not one of those people whose mood is adversely affected by the weather. If I'm gonna get whiny & emo & moody, it's because I'm broke or tired or it's a day that ends in "Y." But the weather, I can take or leave.

However, after four days of cold, gray and generally miserable weather, I have gotten into a funk that makes Morrissey look like Mister Rogers. I'm thisclose to shopping at Hot Topic. My Chemical Romance is telling me I need to lighten up. In short, I'm a bit bummed out.

But there is hope (there's always hope)...the one/two combo that is "The Big Bang Theory" & "How I Met Your Mother" made me laugh last night. It wasn't raining on the way to work this morning. There are unsubstantiated rumors that, at some point in the next 24 hours, a big flaming ball of gas will appear in the sky (no, not Rush Limbaugh) and it's actually going to warm up. I have coffee & new episodes of "The Daily Show" & "The Colbert Report" to look forward to. New comics come out tomorrow and the end of the week brings ComedyWorx's 20th anniversary shows & Week 4 of Super Sparkle Showcase.

So all is not doom & gloom. Things will get better. The sun will come out & rainbows & puppies & unicorns will frolic like they've never frolicked before. I'll put away Bob Dylan, throw in some Jimmy Buffett & head for Margaritaville and be my usual happy self...at least until we hit a day that ends in "Y."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Long & Short Of It

I've been asked by a few people why I don't perform long-form improv at ComedyWorx. Is it because I hate it (No.) Is it because I think short form is better (Again, No.) Is it because I sucked at it when I did it (That's a matter of opinion, but I hope, No.)

For me, it was a question of time & availability. I took levels 1 and 2 and enjoyed the classes. I felt they helped my overall development as an improviser. But I had to make some decisions before level 3 started.

I knew that potentially adding another night of practice on top of my regular Thursday night ComedyWorx practice was going to severely test the patience of Sainted Wife. She's been very gracious & accomodating these past 5 years where shows and practices have been concerned. There have been many weeks when I've been gone three nights in a row and two of those were weekends. Any additional time commitments (coupled with the fact that it's about a 25 minute drive from Durham to the club) would be asking an awful lot of her.

Secondly, while I like long form, I realized that I truly love short form. I get a huge kick out of performing in the 8:30 shows...it makes me happy. So I decided to stick with the form that brought me the most joy.

I'm thrilled that ComedyWorx offers something for lovers of all kinds of improv. I also marvel at the talent I see onstage during the Late Night at the Worx shows. That's the cool thing about improvisation as an art form...there's something for everyone!

My 100th Blog Super Special Edition

Wow, my 100th blog. This puts an enormous amount of pressure on me to make it extra special. I've gone through my mental list of possible topics, but I just can't decide on the right one for an event of this magnitude...

*100 Ways America Has Neglected The Poor & Downtrodden Since The Industrial Revolution: Nah, too much of a downer. Plus I'd have to do research & learn stuff about, well, America's neglect of the poor & downtrodden since the Industrial Revolution.

*My 100 Favorite Simpsons Episodes: Who can pick just 100, really?

*100 Reasons Why I'm Awesome: Who can pick just 100, really?

*100 Ways To Leave Your Lover: Paul Simon got it right, there are only 50.

*My 100 Greatest Improv Scenes: When I get past 7, I might come back to this one.

*100 People I Would Hate To Be Trapped In An Elevator With: Almost finished this one, but Rush Limbaugh took up like 60 spots on the list & Ann Coulter took up 37 more, which left no room for the cast of The View, so I had to punt.

*100 Best Internet Insults: Worked on this for a couple of days. FAIL

*100 Funniest Moments From Mad TV: I got nothing at all for this one.

So, there you have it. 100 blogs about stuff I think is interesting and/or funny. I know it's not always been interesting and/or funny, but if you've taken the time to read it (even if you weren't related to me) and maybe enjoyed it once in awhile, I thank you. It's been cheaper than therapy and a whole lot more fun. Keep reading!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Lay Your Hands On Me

Just saw a commercial for a local Lasik provider. One of the ladies in the spot said it worked so well that it was like, "Jesus just laid his hands on my eyes and said "You're healed."

Just a couple of observations:

1) I don't think those were the healing hands of Jesus ma'am...that was a laser cutting into your eyeballs.

2) If it was Jesus who healed you, I don't think Our Lord & Savior would ask for $2,500 because your insurance company wouldn't cover elective surgery.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Who's Watching The Watchmen?

Just a few thoughts on the not-yet-released-but-long-awaited film adaptation of Alan Moore's "Watchmen."

*What we're getting is not Alan Moore's "Watchmen." It's an adaptation. There are going to be differences (some minor, some major) from the graphic novel. Rabid fanboys, and I say this with nothing but love & affection because in many ways I am one of you, GET OVER IT. I know you won't & I know you're going to waste an inordinate amount of time over the next 72 hours or so yelling and screaming about how Zach Snyder destroyed a national treasure & calling for his head on a platter. Save yourself the grief. Nothing Snyder does will change one word or image in the copy of "Watchmen" on your bookshelf. It's there any time you want to read it.

*I truly believe there's going to be no middle ground when it comes to reviews. People are either going to love it or despise it. It's not the kind of material that lends itself to "That was OK" reviews.

*There are also going to be any number of critics who won't have bothered to familiarize themselves with the source material. I predict that they definitely won't get it.

*No matter how it turns out, there's only one shot at this. Thankfully, "Watchmen" doesn't lend itself to sequels or a franchise. So whatever is up on the screen on Friday is the best we're going to get (at least until the longer Director's Cut DVD is released.)

*As for me...I'm going to see it. I can't wait & I'm hoping for the best.

In the immortal words of Rorshach..."Hrm."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Song & Dance Man

For someone who can't sing & can't dance, I've got an inordinate love for Broadway musicals.

I think this is because one of the first films I fell in love with was "West Side Story." I saw it when I was in elementary school and thought the Jets & Sharks were ridiculously cool.

Growing up with Disney movies like "Mary Poppins", where people bursting into song was commonplace, helped develop the necessary suspension of disbelief to buy into musicals. It didn't hurt that I was taken as a child to the Cumbeland County Playhouse to see live versions of shows like "The Fantasticks", "The Music Man" and "Bye Bye Birdie."

So naturally, I grew up thinking that nothing could be better than getting the opportunity to sing & dance onstage. And then, life played the first of its many cruel tricks: I discovered that not only could I not sing well enough to fulfill that dream, but also that rhythm had also been genetically bred out of my family pool. Oh, cruel fate how you mock me!

So I'll never be a Broadway star. But I'll always be a song & dance man at heart.