Sunday, October 31, 2010

Did you watch the first season of Covert Affairs?

Honestly, I never thought I'd think of Piper Perabo as anything more than the outline of her character in Coyote Ugly. That was an awful way to judge an actress - judging a role not seen in its entirety, but only from clips of TV Spots and Trailers.

If you saw the first season of the new USA draction (get it?) Covert Affairs you were probably as pleasantly surprised by Perabo as I was. She's not going to be nominated for an Emmy, but she made the show a fun and interesting watch although I did have issues with some of the direction the writers chose.

There are a lot of shows out there that are quazi-throwbacks to shows such as The A-Team or even The Incredible Hulk in which the viewer is required to suspend some belief to rationalize a bunch of lunacy in the plot or characters. But it's a refreshing watch - these shows such as Justified and the new Hawaii 5-0. Not every show needs to be held to standards such as The Wire for cultural relevancy or 24 for nonstop intensity.

And for me, trying to open up to new shows in a post Lost world, I take comfort in the entertainment a perky new CIA agent running down trains and foiling international plots in the interest of National Security provides.

By the way, I did hope to continue my recent Monday theme of "Woman of Note over 30" but I needed to post this a day earlier for two reasons. I already have a post I've been wanting to post on November 1 and today is actually Parabo's birthday. Once again, if not for IMDB's front page of new birthdays, I would have assumed she was well under 30.

Pieper, I hope you enjoy the company of Minka, Amber, and Kim.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

What is the cost of free HBO?

I was hesitant when I first read "FREE HBO FOR 3 MONTHS (NO STRINGS ATTACHED)." I actually asked a couple friends if it was legit, and there was really no meaning to not think it was such since it did come from my Cable TV provider, not some unrecognizable 3rd party. It was agreed that the offer was a mix between banking on people either falling in love with HBO and will be convinced that they need to pay going forward or that people may be too lazy to cancel it once the free period ends.

The true cost was experienced today, as I waited until just a day before offer expired (I wanted to wait in order to have as much content available in On Demand as possible before the clock started ticking). The final step in the free sign up is a required "chat session" with the Comcast Analyst completing the order. But, it's worth it. I'll take 15 minutes of my day and typing "no" three times to their other special offers that are not free. I think that Comcast is willing to give me 3 months of HBO in order to have my undivided attention to sell me more of their products (since I don't pick up their telemarketer calls or open their mailed literature).

What's first? True Blood boobs, Entourage anal sex jokes, Real Time liberalism, Boardwalk Empire blood, In Treatment psychoanalysis or (insert Matt Damon movie title here)?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Who should be the Mayor of Winnipeg?

Over here in Illinois, there's an open seat for the U.S. Senate. One commercial, that consists of interviews with people voicing their negative opinions about one of the candidates, ends with an outrageous comment of, "I wouldn't trust him with my left shoe!"

If you think that's an odd way to end a political ad, wait until you see this:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Who is this week's XXX star?

I've lost count how many times I've texted, "Welcome to Club XXX" to a friend on their 30th birthday. It's classic (as in Roman Numeral) pun humor. I'd like to wish another into the club: Kim Kardashian.

She had her 30th party at TAO nightclub at The Venetian. I bet she got a lot of money for hosting it there. Some of us didn't get such a venue (but I'm not complaining although a tad jealous).

She is now legitimately famous for being famous, although I still think Joel McHale had it right when he frequently called her, "...famous for having a big butt and a sex tape."

Ms. Kardashian has gotten some press from this latest cover shot. She went as far to say as this is the last time she's posing nude... that she wanted to get it all out of her system before she turned 30. Memo to the obvious: in the age of the Internet, you pose just once (or make a sex tape) you've posed forever. Shots like these are just spitting into the ocean.

Maybe I'll try to find a new focus and continue the Monday Thirties trend begun by Minka and Amber. However, did you you see what this 30 year old did? Not cool for us thirtysomethings.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Can you justify spending that much for a dark room?

Let's quickly run through the various properties I have stayed at in Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada, United States of America:
Golden Nugget
Treasure Island*
Caesar's Palace
Mandalay Bay
Monte Carlo
(*denotes multiple stays)

I'm planning on going back to Vegas in March 2011 for five nights, which is the longest time I've ever spent out there in one stretch. If the upcoming trip was of my usual 3 day / 2 night variety I'd try to find a way to finally stay at The Mirage, or see if there was some special that could allow the stretch for The Venetian or (gasp, pray to God) at Wynn. But as the screen shot above illustrates, I'm not looking in that... tier of hotels.

Complicating the plan that involves a longer stay is that it's over a very expensive week of the year for Vegas: the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. The usually reasonable priced Treasure Island, a place I would love to stay at again in the future, has their cheapest room priced at $224.96 for the Saturday night of my intended vacation. For that amount of money, I can pay for my entire stay at the Days Inn as well as five meals at the In-N-Out Burger (which happens to be next door).

Did you catch that? The Las Vegas In-N-Out Burger is next door. Next. Door.

I'll tell them I'm at the "Wild West Gambling Hall" and people will laugh. Who do I need to impress anyways? By that time I'll be a 32 year old t-shirt (hopefully to support a MU game?) wearing dude more interested in poker than poking her. I won't be in a club trying to take America's Rejected Reality Show Tryout back to a swanky hotel bed.

If you couldn't tell, I'm trying to convince myself of this thought process. I haven't booked the room yet.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What are this year's favorite songs from last year?

For the past few years I've started a "Best of-" playlist that gets populated and adjusted throughout the year. This year, more so than in years past, has been difficult as I seem to frequently be a year late to the party. That's why I had the great idea last month to make a B-Side to last year's "Best of 2009" which was as follows:For the record, "1901" was my self proclaimed Song of the Year. I think it's important to not adjust the above playlist. A lot of these playlists are a snapshot into my ears. I like going back to an old playlist to bring back why I was listening to so-and-so at certain points in my life. It's great how I went nearly two years unable to NOT include "Take Me Out" by Franz Ferdinand on every damn mixtape I burned.

Here is the list for Best of 2009: Part 2

I'm not ready to publish a Best of 2010 so far mixtape mainly because there are three highly anticipated albums I know I'll be purchasing the day they drop. Two songs from those three have a very inside track to making it to that list. More importantly (to me only) is the tight race for Song of 2010. In years past songs like "Touch Me I'm Going To Scream, Pt. 2" were runaway selections. It was as if I instantly knew the song wouldn't be topped. No such song is separating itself from the pack this year, but the front runners are "Sweetest Kill," "Ready to Start" and the dark horse "No Big Deal."

P.S. There's an internal controversy over the above Freelance Whales selection. iTunes has the track as a 2009 number whereas Amazon has it listed in 2010. It's gonna hit the fan in early December when I hear that song live at Lincoln Hall because that song has the potential to take the top spot of 2010.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Will you give the new AMC show a chance?

AMC has a new show premiering at the end of this month. Fittingly, The Walking Dead has a 90 minute debut on Halloween.

Although I don't personally like Mad Men, I'm somewhat happy for its success because it's going to keep AMC in the business of producing original content that the three (or four) networks are unable to provide. I stand behind my claim that Breaking Bad is the best TV show currently in production.

However, I do have to admit that I no longer watch Rubicon. I gave it a solid effort, but I lost interest in whatever conspiracy they were selling. Go ahead and blame the horrid Lost ending for why it's tough for me to trust fictional television.

I'm not one that seeks out Zombie content, but I am going to give The Walking Dead a solid trial run in my DVR. Here's the trailer:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Is 30 the new 20?

Last week I went a little overboard posting here and here about Minka Kelly, Esquire Magazine's sexiest woman alive. There's something refreshing about having that title go to someone over the age of thirty.

Speaking of people you are shocked are 30, Amber Lancaster!

Odds are if you are over 30 you haven't heard of Ms. Lancaster because she's currently famous for having an integral role in MTV's high school dramedy The Hard Times of RJ Berger. The show is an entertaining and heartfelt show (albeit raunchy) about a struggling teen daydreaming his way into the upper class of school popularity. Currently filming it's second season, I'm sure MTV will start rerunning the holy hell out of it before the launch of its second season.

Although I'm sure most actresses in Hollywood don't want their age known, let alone shouted as a strength, but it's a nice feeling to those of us who can't go a month without hearing, "Oh my God! I'm turning (an age lower than yours)! I'm OLD!"

Someone new heard my personal theory on my own age perception - it got a chuckle from him so I'll share it here:
I won't consider myself old until I stop involuntarily taking two stair steps at a time walking up to my condo and I won't consider myself elderly until I'm forced to take two footsteps per one stair.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Do you want to "follow" the Jersey Shore cast?

In one of my recent sleepless nights I started playing a little Six Degrees of Twitter and stumbled upon the entire cast of Jersey Shore. With their season finale airing this week, perhaps you'd like a way to keep tabs on your favorite fist pumpers?
Nicole PolizziNicole Polizzi @Sn00ki (758,000+ followers)
JWOWW JWOWW @JENNIWOWW (440,000+ followers)
Pauly DPauly D @DJPaulyD (438,000+ followers)
Vinny Guadagnino Vinny Guadagnino @VINNYGUADAGNINO (334,000+)
Michael Sorrentino Michael Sorrentino @ItsTheSituation (323,000+ followers)
Samantha Giancola Samantha Giancola @MTVsammi (187,000+ followers)
Ronnie Magro Ronnie Magro @MTVRonnie (163,000+ followers)
All of those numbers were as of early Sunday night, no doubt those numbers have changed by the time you are reading this post.

Either Angelina does not have a Twitter account or nobody of the above cast have chosen to follow her. I can't believe the above wouldn't want to if able, for the smallest reason of knowing if (or perhaps when) she is tweeting trash about them. It's expected for Snooki (note that somebody must've gotten to that username first, for she has to use zeros for her name) to have the largest follower base but I'm surprised to see see JWoww in second. I would've assumed Pauly D, currently having a "hit" on the charts right now, to have a larger number. The Situation's relatively low follower number wouldn't be too surprising given the negative portrayal he's received in the recent episodes but he's also been on Dancing with the Stars during the same time span.

Nino Giaimo Nino Giaimo @RealUncleNino (13,000+ followers)
Caitlin Ryder Caitlin Ryder @Ryder__ (7,000+ followers)

I'm not currently following any of these people... Although I am tempted to follow Uncle Nino because it's rather clear from his tweets that he's doing it himself - not though a proxy.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Where can I buy a song that I think is called "Mind Heist?"

If anybody out there in [wherever you are] knows where this song exists for mp3 purchase, please tell me.

I loved it's use in this video more than the one that's embedded.

Friday, October 15, 2010

How are cranberries grown and harvested?

Earlier today I was about an hour north of Madison, Wisconsin at a bog learning about cranberries.

Picture an entire football field dug down four feet below the surface surrounded by a moat like ditch. Then fill that bed with with cranberry vines. Once the cranberries are ripe and ready to be picked, the bed is filled with water. Once ripe, the cranberries practically* fall off the vines themselves (*a truck runs through with a large front-rake-type of attachment to knock all the cranberries off the vines). Cranberries float up to the surface of the water and are corralled by a boom, not unlike how oil is gathered after a sea spill.

I wasn't the only one thigh deep in a cranberry bog today. A known associate was with me:

Bowling Pin amongst the vines of ripe cranberries, before it gets flooded.
Bowling Pin at the edge of the bog, standing on the boom.
Bowling Pin floating with the cranberries in the bog.

These three pictures will soon be added with the others.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What is an umlaut?

The lasting effect from my Twitter campaign will be the blogs I have discovered from other users. Two such blogs are Lost In Concert (@lostinconcert) and easy tiger (@coconnell1 ). Both were found by wandering through who else follows @MetroChicago.

Earlier this week Christine (of easy tiger blogdom) posted a track by Röyksopp. Like I just did, she used the umlaut when typing Röyksopp. It's unknown to me if she actually knows what keystrokes are needed to find that foreign character, of if she (like me) just copy and pasted from an iTunes music file. Since I'm also a fan of Björk, whenever I see an umlaut in use I like to give credit.

The duo Röyksopp, let it be known, is talented beyond their punctuation. I'll embarrassingly admit it; I first heard them as background music for a Car Insurance TV spot:

But thankfully later a coworker let me borrow their impressive Junior album, which included "Vision One." It's a song that's found its way onto many mixtapes in the last year and half:

Finally, here's the song "This Space" posted earlier on easy tiger:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Did anybody else like Waitress as much as I did?

Originally posted on the MySpace's defunct View de TQ blog on Monday, December 03, 2007:

I want Keri Russell to make me a pie.

The following is my review of the 2007 movie Waitress.
Please note that I am, and have been, a fan of Keri Russell (the leading actress of Waitress) since we were both Freshman.

Now I understand that Keri wasn't really a freshman, but the character she played on the underrated TV series Felicity was trying to adjust to college life at the the same time as I.
I've been in awe of her for over 9 years now.

The following are mini-reviews of Waitress, which I all believe to be correct.

*Keri Russell plays a waitress who loves to make pies. She is a quirky character working with more quirky waitresses. They also love to make pies, but all know they can't make them half as good. They struggle with their lives, customers, and finding the next great pie recipe. Although set in contemporary times, this is a throwback story to a classic era of Americana.

*Keri Russell plays a waitress who is only at peace when making pies. However, she doesn't let that get in her way of her life - which is filled with zany southern characters including a new to town doctor, a older horny waitress, and even Andy Griffith (who plays a grumpy old man customer who also owns a pie diner). Although with its serious moments, this is a charming comedy that will make you want to eat a pie.

*Keri Russell plays a waitress at a crossroads. One of the darkest character studies you'll see, don't let the warm lighting and southern hospitality fool you. Domestic violence takes on a new shape in Jeremy Sisto, who will make you think his character may be more common than we want to believe in America. With every moment the of the story's progression, you will hate him more and more. Although rated PG-13, this is a movie that sheds painful light on what it feels like to be poor, trapped, pregnant, scared and with perpetually diminishing hope.

*Keri Russell plays a waitress who takes a bold stance. Yes, she is pregnant - but no - she is not happy about it. As one who refuses to blindly accept a new pregnancy as the greatest thing that could ever happen, she is not afraid to admit or view her sudden immanent fear of her future. Reaching out to cope in ways she's always have (making pies) and ways she never thought she could (falling in love with her doctor), she ultimately finds her path. A path that that includes pies and redemption.

Waitress is one of the best made movies I have seen in a while. My high acclaim for it lies completely (well, the non-Russell crush aspects) in its ability to have the amount of depth to make all four views of the film exist in my mind. If only one of these views were true, I may have pressed "eject" well before the end credits.

I don't think this is a movie everyone will enjoy. Obviously, most will write this off as a part of my Keri Russell is amazing agenda, and not have anywhere near the deep view of the story. But give it a chance. It's worth seeing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why should Running Wilde get cancelled?

As difficult as it is for me to admit, for I love nearly all involved, Running Wilde needs to be canceled to allow its excellent cast to work on projects that better utilize their talents.

The writing as been on the wall predicting the end of Running Wilde. Today on Twitter many of the show's stars (and their famous friends via retweet) have been rallying supporters to halt it's demise. Facebook "save our show" pages aside, I need to tell them to "BIOYA" as my friend would say.

I've seen every episode, including tonight's effort, and my opinion remains steadfast against this show continuing. I'm sure there were fans of the sitcom starring George Clooney, Jason Alexander, and Mary McDonnell - but that show ended and those stars went on to iconic performances in other TV Series that have massive followings long since the shows ended by its own accord. For the record, tonight's show was the best one of the first four. I will continue to watch the show for however long it it runs, even if I do wish it wouldn't go much longer.

I love Keri Russell, and have been accused of having overtly favorable reviews of her work. However, unlike when I defended her Felicity character's haircut, I can not excuse the show despite her warm nature. Hopefully she lands a starring role in an hour long drama soon - I know she can carry a show again.

Will Arnett is one the funniest people today. I will watch anything he is in simply because of his inclusion and have enjoyed it (with this sole exception). Sadly, it hurts to see that his Steve Wilde character was written to be a predictable shadow of G.O.B. Bluth. Us fans know his range is larger than Running Wilde is allowing.

Should Mitchell Hurwitz be blamed? I don't know. He could do no wrong with Arrested Development, one of my top five favorite TV shows of all time. His Running Wilde efforts only seem to remind us simultaneously of Arrested's awe and Running's ruin such as having David Cross make a forced "Blue Man Group" reference.

As long as I'm piling on: Andy Richter is TV Series poison. Again, I think he's funny but his appearance on tonight's episode will go along his other notable TV Acting Roles such as his Arrested Development appearance in it's final shortened season and two failed sitcoms. He willingly left his most successful show, NBC's Late Night, and we all know what happened when he returned with Conan. Granted, that last comment was a cheap shot.

Is there any way for me to convince you of my intended connotation? I love all of the names I have seemingly tore apart in this post (even Richter, who I hope will find renewed success with Conan on TBS). It's because I love them so much is why I want them to all lose their jobs immediately - to make way for them to soar like a phoenix all the more sooner.

If anybody connected with the show happens to read this, I sincerely apologize if my views have been offensive or bothersome.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Which awesome song is FREE today on Amazon?

The iconic "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega is today's free mp3 download on Amazon!


I love this song, and not just because it's about "my" restaurant.

You should note that the free version is the original version from the early 80s. Even though you may prefer the remixed, more dancy, version - I think you'd appreciate the stripped down original down tempo gem.

C'mon, it's freakin' free!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Who paid money to see Neon Indian?

It seems like a lot of people who have ever bought a ticket to see a Metro show were sent an e-mail on Saturday giving away a free ticket to see Neon Indian. It was a very odd read, going as far as to say, "If you'd like to bring a guest, please print out two of these emails."

I have only "heard of" Neon Indian, which means I don't own any of his music and have actually never listened to two tracks of his in succession. In the last year the act has performed at Bonnaroo, SXSW and the Pitchfork Music Festival: Rather large venues to get noticed and build a following.

How much would it suck to have been someone who had already bought a ticket to this show, but I'm guessing there aren't that many people in that boat. Monday night isn't exactly a big "going out" night I guess - but I'd probably blame the low attendance projection on Miike Snow performing elsewhere in Chicago the same night. Neon Indian can't win a fight against that act.

Let me know if you want to go to see him for free - I'll forward you the e-mail.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Did you feel the Power?

Q: Who cracked the mold?
A: Kanye!

This is more than just a great track.
This is an artist - it's performance art.

If you haven't seen the performance that Mr. West put on last Saturday in New York, here ya go:

Honestly, I just wanted to post it here so I have an easy place to go watch it myself... It's been on near constant repeat all week.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Why am I ecstatic to be insulted?

Q: Did actor/comic Kevin Pollak call me a dumbass?
A: Oh yeah, but that's not why I'm ebullient.

I've always been a fan of Kevin Pollak, especially because of his consistently awesome guest appearances on talk shows. A little over 5 months ago I saw him interviewed on Attack of the Show. In that interview, he mentioned his own show: Kevin Pollak's Chat Show. (My description of the show in four words: Charlie Rose, but funny)

It has taken me five months since seeing that interview, conducted just after his show's been on for over a year, to get fully caught up with its back episodes. Now I'm someone who eagerly downloads the video podcast as soon as iTunes allows me. The show encourages audience participation; I always knew I wanted in somehow. Last week I wrote in a question:
Based primarily on your explicit preference over Facebook, I recently started on Twitter (@TomQuestion). Besides, “edit” what are your suggestions for beginners?
My question was read, and answered, at about the 9:00 mark of the most recent episode.

It feels pretty cool to be zinged. Every bit of his answer, from the split second he goes cross eyed to him dozing off in the middle of responding, was a treat for me. Without a doubt, my favorite part of his routine was the opening:

Kevin Pollak made fun of my last name! A well set up pun joke, but not in the way I've grown to anticipate.
With a last name like mine, it was impossible to get through a week of high school without a homophobic pun joke at my last name's expense. It was always easy to deflect due to the sheer unoriginality of it.
Pollak's joke will be heard by exponentially more people than anything anyone has ever said previously (and most likely ever in the future), rendering all other insults relatively unheard by anybody.

Thank you Kevin.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What words will get you retweeted?

Q: What are the most commonly retweeted words?
A: Words not as interesting as the least retweeted words.

Oh Alyssa. Once again she helps me learn more about the Twitter. Today she posted a link to an article Fast Company wrote that detailed strategies for successful tweeting - specifically about getting "retweeted."

I'm trying to be a good citizen of Twitter. If I happen to see a funny twit, or a knowledge heavy link - I give credit. For example, the comic Todd Barry has a great twit-wit. I was happy to try to pass around a more meaty piece (that's the column I tweeted). Comics like Todd Barry make me want to be a better writer. I truly appreciate the skill it takes to tweet a successful joke. These comics have no control over timing or context, and have such a limited space to get in and out with an effective punchline.

Which is why my early twittering is becoming a writing exercise in the short form (not my specialty). Today during lunch I read that Fast Company article, and found the top ten (and bottom ten) retweeted words noteworthy. I decided to go inside my mind and write a tweet that used each of the top ten words. This was more difficult than I had thought, but it was a nice way to pass the time at lunch.

In something that probably speaks more truths than I'm willing to admit now: I was able to develop a tweet using the least ten retweeted words with much greater ease.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Who are the pillars of Twitter?

Q: What was the first noteworthy observation since joining Twitter?
A: The hubs of information.

If Kevin Pollak's Chat Show has taught me nothing, it's taught me that many people follow Oprah, Paris, Demi, Tyra, Gaga and Britney on Twitter. These are people I don't yet have an interest in following.

As of posting, I am following 76 people. I know none of them personally save two. I think that's the way I may want it. The largest chunk of those 74 unknowns are comics, or comedic actors. The rest are rounded out by bands/musicians or sites such as Texts from Last Night or Pitchfork.

But there are three, that although are celebrities in their own right, have a force beyond most on Twitter. I call them Pillars of Twitter because they are apparent hubs of information that pass what's Twitter-worthy onto the masses. From my early impressions, I seem to be currently following at least 3 Pillars:

Roger Ebert @ebertchicago: Noted for being a film critic, currently tweeting at an amazingly high volume. He tweets past articles/interviews of people and spreads current information like a trusted friend who forwards you links.

?uestlove @questlove: Noted for being the drummer for The Roots, currently a self appointed music snob and pop cultural radar analyst. I remarkably feel more cool following him that if I did not.

Alyssa Milano @Alyssa_Milano: Noted for knowing who the boss was, currently a beautiful human being on Twitter. I can't quantitatively explain her tweets. She has posted a few "guides to Twitter" that have been helpful and she's like watching Spanish Language Television.

Allow me to explain: I loved watching Spanish Language Television as a kid. I didn't have cable, so anything on TV beyond the major networks was always refreshing to watch - even if I didn't understand it. Most times, the shows featured highly attractive women and I would trick myself into thinking that if I watched enough Sabado Gigante I'd end up learning how to understand Spanish. I'm following Ms. Milano with the enthusiasm of a small kid having a crush on an unattainable beauty and as a foreigner attempting to familiarize himself in a strange land.

For the record, I'm not following Ashton Kutcher.