Wednesday, January 31, 2018


There are tonal shifts, there are abrupt tonal shifts, and then there’s the “twitterpated” sequence in Bambi.  The iconic and heartbreaking scene of Bambi’s mother’s death is admittedly hard to follow up on in any respect, so the filmmakers just turned into the skid by going immediately from that scene to….Bambi, Thumper, and Flower now suddenly teenage bros in the thrones of hormones.  Far me it for me to suggest that a 70-minute movie should’ve had an intermission, but maybe this would’ve been a good point for the film to go to a shot of Walt Disney sitting behind a desk, singing “Let’s All Go To The Lobby.”

Obviously you’re going to read things differently in 2018 than in 1942, but man, this scene has gone from comic interlude to unintentionally comic pretty hard.  I mean, I guess since Bambi, Thumper, and Flower apparently hadn’t seen each other in years, their near-immediate ditching of the others once they find their female counterparts is understandable, but man, it comes off as cold.  The internet, letting me down as always, couldn’t even provide a GIF of that image of Flower popping up from the flowerbed to dismiss his pals with a laugh and a “whatcha gonna do?” shrug.

After Flower comes Thumper, and, let’s see how to put this.  He meets the female bunny and then immediately starts, uh, “thumping.”  Nothing euphemistic about this, folks.  For pete’s sake, Thumper even falls asleep afterwards.  Disney couldn't have hit us over the head any more unless the movie had actually stopped at that point for a Kleenex commercial.

And finally, here's the star of the show, Bambi himself. First of all, the movie omits another major part of puberty, the point in life when Bambi (in the tradition of guys who went through the first part of their lives known as Mikey, Ricky, Matty, Jordy, etc.) must have demanded that his name be shortened to sound more mature. In this case, he'd just insist that Thumper and Flower start referring to him only as 'Bam.' Maybe it was a deleted scene.

Anyway, Bambi meets his fawn in the woods and they go jumping around on clouds in another subtle metaphor.  All is well and good until another buck shows up to make a play for the fawn, and Bambi just goes hogwild (deerwild?) and throws down on this dude.  The movie suddenly morphs into Mortal Kombat, and Bambi's fatality is to push this other buck off of a cliff to his death.  Good lord, that escalated quickly!  Take it down a notch, Bambi! Just take a more passive-aggressive approach, like 'accidentally' spilling water on the guy's pants or making subtle jabs at his job.  Neither of these would've worked in this particular case (the other buck wasn't wearing pants, nor was he in O.R. scrubs), but even still, there must be an easier path to Feline’s heart than straight-up murder.  On the other hand, she seems to be into it?  Was there a Bambi 2, where Bam and “Fel” go on a Bonnie & Clyde-esque crime spree around the forest?  The comparisons between Thumper and Michael J. Pollard are hard to miss.  

So, to sum up, Disney views puberty as being a time when you abandon your friends, start virtually pleasuring yourself in the woods, and being driven to jealous murder.  If the movie had worked in, say, a squirrel dealing with acne, that would've covered it.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Neon Movie Posters

An old link but a very cool one showcasing a collection of movie posters re-designed as neon signs.  I may have to license that Clark Kent one after I open my Superman-themed diner, the Fortress of Eggsitude.  Spoiler alert: my restaurant will serve tremendous eggs.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Conan's Successor

The Vice-Conan?  The backup Conan?  (Or Conan O'Backup.)  Will this lead to David being trapped in a glass box with "in case of emergency" written on it?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Oscar Nomination Reactions

So, what’s going to win Best Picture?  This hard-to-predict Oscar race is still slightly askew even after this morning’s nominations.  Going by the traditional precursors (the major guild awards and the Golden Globes), it seems like all of the contenders are missing at least one usually-key statistic in its favour. 

“Shape Of Water,” for instance, cleaned up in Oscar nominations but wasn’t nominated for a Screen Actors Guild ensemble award.  “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” was seemingly scoring everywhere but then Martin McDonagh didn’t get a Best Director nomination.  Everyone loves “Get Out” and “Lady Bird” as underdog candidates but neither were nominated for an editing Oscar.  “Dunkirk” seemed to be losing momentum by the second and nobody really seems to like the movie, yet it notched all of the Academy’s key categories.

You have to say that Shape Of Water is still the favourite at this point, though who knows, Three Billboards can still get in there based on the seemingly lessening importance of the Best Picture/Best Director connection.  Only one of the last five Best Pictures saw its director also win, and one of those films (Argo) won despite Ben Affleck being snubbed entirely from the directing slate.  You also can’t count out Get Out or Lady Bird, though the fact that they’re both in the running could split the “beloved underdog” vote.  Dunkirk could still yet sneak in, or maybe I should be making more of “Phantom Thread” emerging from out of semi-nowhere as an apparent Academy darling.  Quite a bit if still up in the air, and I’ll believe any scenario come Oscar night — a tie, another mistaken winner announced, whatever.

Some more observations…

* This is the first time in a while that I haven’t seen every Best Picture candidate by the time the nominees were announced.  You’re still on my list, The Post!  I have a vague “eat your vegetables” sense about my desire to see the movie, thanks to that damn Bridge Of Spies.  Don’t let me down again, Spielberg!

* Man, that Best Director category is just about my favourite slate of nominees ever.  I didn’t even much care for Dunkirk, but Christopher Nolan was so absurdly overdue for a directing nomination that I don’t begrudge him finally getting on the Academy’s list.

* First-time acting nominees: Margot Robbie, Daniel Kaluuya, Timothee Chalamet, Sam Rockwell, Mary J. Blige, Lesley Manville, Laurie Metcalf and Alison Janney.  It seems like at least one of the winners will come from this list — one of Metcalf/Janney will win Supporting Actress, and Rockwell has to be the favourite in Supporting Actor.

* Speaking of that category, you could see Rockwell and Woody Harrelson split the votes of the Three Billboards supporters, paving the way for Willem Dafoe (long overdue, critics’ awards darling), Christoper Plummer (respect for his emergency bailout of his film) or even Richard Jenkins (if Shape Of Water sweeps).  Rockwell has to be considered the favourite, but still, suspense!

* If there was a category for Best Supporting Location, the winner is clearly Call Me By Your Name, which honestly could’ve been two hours of just the Italian countryside and that gorgeous house and I would’ve been satisfied. 

* Perhaps the most notable first-timer in more than one sense is Rachel Morrison, who is somehow the first woman ever nominated for a cinematography Oscar.  ONE female nominee in 90 years?  Yikes, Academy.

* Can she win?  Well, Morrison has the advantage of going up against famed Oscar-loser Roger Deakins, who is still trying to land that first trophy through 14 freaking nominations.  There isn’t really a bad choice in this category (scratch that…Darkest Hour, huh?) but man, Deakins losing again and again is just getting ridiculous at this point.  Not as ridiculous as, say, womankind’s 90-year cinematography losing streak, but still.

* So with eight first-time acting nominees, that means we have 12 familiar names filling out the rest of the categories.  Meryl Streep got her record 21st acting nomination, Denzel Washington got his eighth, Daniel Day-Lewis his sixth, Frances McDormand her fifth, Saoirse Ronan/Willem Dafoe/Christopher Plummer/Octavia Spencer/Woody Harrelson their third each, and Gary Oldman/Sally Hawkins/Richard Jenkins are each up for the second time.  Streep and DDL can each tie Katherine Hepburn’s record of four Oscars with a victory, while Denzel can join the three-Oscar club with a win.

* I had a bit of a personal stake in this year’s Academy Awards, since an acquaintance of mine worked on The Shape Of Water.  (On the special effects side of things, I should note…I’m not (yet) friends with, like, Sally Hawkins.)  While the film got nominated in 13 categories, however, I’m not at this moment sure my chum will get to share in the fun, since Shape Of Water didn’t score a Best Visual Effects nod.  Not that the five actual nominees weren’t deserving either but man, throw a local boy a bone!

* Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood is an Oscar nominee!  The strings in Phantom Thread (not a pun) were so gorgeous, give him the trophy, Academy!

* Agnes Varda, in the same year she’s getting an honorary Oscar, is also up for first competitive award.

* Here’s a question I never thought I’d ask: what does Tom Hanks have to do to get nominated for an Oscar?  Do you realize it’s been 17 years since he last got a nod?  I haven’t seen The Post yet so I can’t judge if he deserved one or not this year, but between that, Bridge Of Spies, Sully, Saving Mr. Banks, and (especially) Captain Phillips, a curious pattern of overlooking is developing.  To be fair, the only one that is a real overt omission is Captain Phillips, yet you’d think Hanks would’ve scored at least one “aw, we love Tom, let’s nominate him!” nod over all these years.

* The Thomas Lennon who made one of the nominated documentary shorts is sadly not the same Thomas Lennon from The State.  C’est la vie.

* A great year for superhero movies is recognized in the form a best adapted screenplay nomination for “Logan,” which was strongly deserved.  I was vaguely hoping that Patrick Stewart could’ve snuck in there for Supporting Actor but I’ll take what I can get.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ranking Key & Peele's Football Players

In this era of sending a link to someone and titling it “Hilarious!”, few items have delivered more soundly on that promise than the Key & Peele East/West Bowl sketches, a.k.a. the Football Names bits.  Realistically, they *probably* didn’t need to stretch it out to a third one and include cameos from actual NFL players, but whatever, it’s a pretty foolproof concept.

In honour of these comedy classics, here’s my personal ranking of every character played during the sketches by Key and Peele themselves (with two exceptions).  That means no actual NFL players, A.A. Ron Balakay, Firstname Lastname, or the pride of BYU Dan Smith.  My ranking is based on pure amusement at both the goofiness of the name itself, or possibly some elements of Key or Peele’s look or how they delivered the line.  I won’t lie…even by my standards, this is a pretty arbitrary list.

Not included: D’Marcus Williums and TJ Juckson, the first two names and characters from the first sketch.  I made the judge’s decision to omit these two since Key & Peele made the wise move to ease the viewers into the ridiculousness, giving us a couple of more normal names to start with (the odd ‘u’ spellings of the last names notwithstanding) and then getting gradually sillier.  It’s safe to say that by the third name, T’Variusness King, business was starting to pick up, which is why T’Variusness was on the list (albeit not very high).

Without further adieu, and with a note that Further Adieu is a great name for a linebacker, onto the list!

81. Squeeeeeeeeeeps
80. Nyquillus Dillwad
79. The Player Formerly Known As Mousecop
78. Wing Dings
77. Logjammer D'Baggagecling
76. T’Variusness King
75. J’Dinkalage Morgoone
74. Quiznatodd Bidness
73. Cosgrove Shumway
72. Legume Duprix
71. Stumptavian Roboclick
70. Faux Doadles
69. Myriad Profiteroles
68. D’Pez Poopsie
67. Equine Ducklings
66. Decatholac Mango
65. Turdine Cupcake
64. Bisquiteen Trisket
63. Fartrell Cluggins
62. Fudge
61. J.R. Junior Juniors Jr.
60. Ewokoniad Sigourneth Juniorstein
59. King Prince Chambermaid
58. Vagonius Thicket-Suede
57. Benedict Cumberbatch
56. Rerutweeds Myth
55. Grunky Peep
54. God
53. Swirvithan L’Goodling-Splatt
52. Mergatroid Skittle
51. Saggitariutt Jefferspin
50. Jammie Jammie-Jammie
49. Strunk Flugget
48. Ladadadaladadadadada Dala-Dadaladaladalada
47. Morse Code
46. Harvard University
45. Beezer Twelve Washingbeard
44. Elipses Corter
43. Bismo Funyuns
42. Marmadune Shazbot
41. D’Isiah T. Billings-Clyde
40. D’Squarius Green Jr.
39. Blyrone Blashinton
38. Ibrahim Moizoos
37. Triple Parakeet-Shoes
36. Quatro Quatro
35. Shakiraquan T.G.I.F. Carter
34. Swordless Mimetown (editor’s note: my fantasy football team name for the last three years)
33. Leoz Maxwell Jilliumz
32. Donkey Teeth
31. Torque [Construction Noise] Lewith
30. Cartoons Plural
29. Splendiferous Finch
28. Doink Ahanahue
27. L’Carpetron Dookmarriot
26. Takittothu' Limit
25. Goolius Boozler
24. Coznesster Smiff
23. Jackmerius Tacktheritrix
22. Hingle McCringleberry
21. Sequester Grundelplith M.D.
20. X-Wing @Aliciousness
19. Quisperny G'Dunzoid Sr.
18. Eqqsquizitine Buble-Schwinslow
17. Ozamataz Buckshank
16. D’Jasper Probincrux III
15. Tyroil Smoothie-Wallace
14. Creme De La Creme
13. Davoin Shower-Handel
12. Snarf Mintz-Plasse
11. T.J. A.J. R.J. Backslashinfourth V
10. Huka'lakanaka Hakanakaheekalucka'hukahakafaka
9. Dahistorius Lamystorius
8. Ladennifer Jadaniston
7. Quackadilly Blip
6. Eeeee Eeeeeeeee
5. Busters Brownce
4. Scoish Velociraptor Maloish
3. Xmus Jaxon Flaxon-Waxon
2. D’Glester Hardunkichud (he just seems like such a confident, and even trustworthy, fellow.  Hardunkichud 2020, people!)
1. Javarius Jamar Javarison-Lamar

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Hot! Live! U2sic!

You’re The Best Thing About Me…..Get Out Of Your Own Way
The band is making the promotional rounds for “Songs Of Experience,” and when I say the band, I really mean mostly Bono and Edge, with a few helpings of Adam Clayton along the way.  Is Larry Mullen just taking his “don’t talk much” thing to a new extreme, or what?  (At least when Larry talks, he avoids making asinine comments about rock music being “girly,” unlike some other people in the band.)  In a related lack-of-Larry story, it’s also perhaps a bit concerning that all of these promo appearance performances sound really good when the songs are performed either acoustically (i.e. here), or with a full orchestra (i.e. U2’s recent BBC concert).  The jury is still out on how most of the SOE songs when it’s just the band in their normal state, though I guess we’ll find that out on the tour.

North Star
Speaking of stripped-down performances, I found this YouTube listing of U2 “acoustic sessions,” which seems like it’s mostly just cribbed from various live performances over the years.  Whatever the source, they sound lovely.  I’ll include “North Star” since it’s a hidden gem of U2’s library that has never really been properly released apart from (of all places) the Transformers 2 soundtrack.

A lovely old version of “Kite” from the Vertigo Tour, at a show Cate Blanchett apparently intended.  Wouldn’t shock me to see this song get dusted off for the coming tour, given the heavy SOE focus on parenthood.  Will I end up sitting or standing next to Cate Blanchett at the concert I'll be attending? Who's to say (where the wind will take you...)?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Other People's Writing

* Longtime OP'sW favourite Wesley Morris is back with a wonderful interview/profile of Jordan Peele, who is hopefully only a couple of weeks away from notching a couple of Oscar nominations.  I didn't think anything could top the 'football names' sketch in Peele's hierarchy, but Get Out managed to do it.  (I'm not even being snarky with that comment ---"football names" is one of the best sketches of all time.)

* The Ringer created a list of the best 100 Simpsons episodes of all time, and while it may not be THE definitive episode ranking, it's still pretty solid.  Honestly, it's hard to screw up a Simpsons top-100 unless it inexplicably features a lot of content from seasons 13-28.  I only had "Last Exit To Springfield" at #32 on my list, though I heartily acknowledge it as a worthy candidate for the top spot.

* I'm not sure if even the Simpsons could've come up with something as bonkers as a dog eating a heart meant for transplant, yet The Ringer's Andrew Gruttadero is here with the oral history of how the "One Tree Hill" writers came up with this unreal plot twist.  This piece has everything --- Joel McHale quotes, "Chad Michael Murray declined to comment for this article," the real-life Crazy Joe Davola, complaints about ice cubes, "I mean, there would be absolutely no way that a cat or a dog or any other animal would ever be found inside a hospital," and the reaction GIFs!  Oh, the reaction GIFs!

* This one scene notwithstanding, it's a shame that drek like One Tree Hill lasts on the air for years while gems like The Weird Al Show get barely a season.  Rolling Stone's Caseen Gaines talks to Al and others to get the oral history of a show that young Mark absolutely loved.  (Who am I kidding, modern Mark would absolutely love watching this again.)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Cats Countdown

After devoting so much time to Would I Lie To You? and QI, I’ve fallen down the British panel show rabbit hole again with “8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown,” which is technically a combination of two shows.  You have Countdown, the long-running game show, being played by the goofy regulars (Jimmy Carr, Sean Lock, Jon Richardson) of the panel show with the ever-confusing name of 8 Out Of 10 Cats.  Those three comedians are joined by Countdown’s resident math and words experts (Rachel Riley and Susie Dent) and a revolving door of other panelists.  The other players are all from the UK’s roster of around 45-50 comedians that just appear on all of these programs in constant circulation.  It’s quite amazing if you watch enough of these shows, the same names will inevitably pop up again and again.

Anyway, the actual playing of Countdown is just curtain dressing for the comedians to mess about with various anecdotes and other nonsense.  And, having seen actual Countdown and actual 8 Out Of 10 Cats, I prefer the mashup of the two programs rather than the original versions — proper Countdown is too dry, and proper 8 Out Of 10 Cats is too unstructured.  It’s the best of both worlds, like how a drive-thru window combines the best of getting food with the best of being incredibly lazy.

You can’t go wrong with most of the episodes, I suppose, though this one is particularly legendary.  A murderers’ row of guests (Holly Walsh, Greg Davies and human laugh machine Miles Jupp) and a particularly memorable Sean Lock bit.  None of this has anything to do with learning about words or math.  None at all.


Saturday, January 06, 2018

Black Mirror Episode Rankings (Updated!)

Another winter, another batch of Black Mirror episodes.  There were some slight adjustments to my ranking of the previous 13 eps due to re-thinking them and, in the case of White Christmas, a rewatch.  Some brief comments on the new ones...

* I know that it wouldn't be a Black Mirror episode without a technology angle, but "Crocodile" would've been a lot better without the memory-recreation device aspect.  Also, I feel like I say "wow, this actress is really good, I'll have to IMDB her...wait, it's Andrea Riseborough again?!" every time I see her on screen.  Forget a crocodile, she's a chameleon.
* On the opposite end of the acting spectrum, the guy who played Rolo Haynes in "Black Museum," yikes.  Apparently Douglas Hodge is some super-credentialed theatre actor, but I have no idea what he was going for here.  Between his outfit and his (how can I put this without a spoiler?) different way of speaking by the end of the episode, I half-thought Hodge was trying some take on Heath Ledger's Joker.
* This is a pretty duh observation that could be applied to anything, but great acting really does help elevate so many of these S4 episodes beyond some rather shaky premises.  You can basically guess everything that happens in "Arkangel," for instance, within the first 10 minutes, but the performers really do a great job in making that episode worthwhile.
* My top two and bottom two are pretty much everyone's consensus picks for those slots, though what's interesting about this show is that there is such a wide variance of opinion on the others.

19. Nosedive
18. The Waldo Moment

17. Fifteen Million Merits
16. Black Museum

15. Men Against Fire
14. Crocodile
13. White Bear
12. Arkangel

11. Playtest
10. Metalhead
9. USS Callister

8. Shut Up And Dance
7. Be Right Back
6. The National Anthem
5. Hated In The Nation
4. White Christmas
3. Hang The DJ

2. The Entire History Of You
1. San Junipero

Friday, January 05, 2018

NFL Playoff Predictions

The playoff picks are usually a weekly staple for this blog in the month of January, though this year's edition will be limited to just this post only since the Packers didn't make the playoffs, sighhhhhhhh.  Their downfall was inevitable after Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone, and at least I'm glad to see that the franchise is shaking up the front office and coaching staff, correctly identifying that the team's problems were due to far more than just one injury.  (Now if the Pack would just go all the way and fire Mike McCarthy, that would be the icing on the cake.)

The other reason for the shortened playoff picks is that honestly, this postseason seems pretty easy to call.  I'd be shocked if the AFC title game was anything but another New England/Pittsburgh matchup, though I guess with the Steelers' propensity for mailing in about one game per month, it wouldn't be a total surprise if they were caught looking ahead to the Patriots.  The NFC also seems like it'll pretty clearly be the Vikings against whichever lucky team gets to face the Carson Wentz-less* Eagles in the second round.

* = A brighter mind than I would come up with a "Good King Wenceslas" rhyme here, yet Xmas is over, I don't want to think about carols for at least 11 months.

Ergo, I'll just go ahead and predict a Vikings vs. Patriots Super Bowl, which would have no shortage of storylines.  Would Minnesota become the first team to not only enjoy a Super Bowl home game, but also avoid being the first team with an 0-5 record in the big game?  Could the Patriots win their sixth championship since 2002?  Since I can't pick against New England in any Super Bowl unless Eli Manning suddenly shows up as the Vikings backup quarterback, I'll go chalk all the way and predict another ring for Tom Brady and company.