Thoughts, notes, observations on the everyday nonsense of American Pop Culture from one of the most not-hip people on the face of the planet...

Friday, March 31, 2006


Oh God! Didn't Sharon Stone get the memo? She's too old to be in a follow-up to Basic Instinct. And she looks it.

Sweet Jesus that's gross.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

"Big Love" needs more of it

So I’m sure that by now, you’ve probably heard (and/or ignored) about the new HBO drama “Big Love” and clucked about how controversial it is. And you’d be wrong. In fact, it doesn't even seem to be controversial enough to gt HBO viewers to like it.

The show is so incredibly far out in left field on everything that no one can really get a full grasp of what would upset them. This seems to be a problem for HBO’s viewers, who seem to have absolutely no interest in the show. And that’s the real puzzle.

Much like its lead-in “The Sopranos”, “Big Love” revolves around the dual lives of mild-mannered polygamist Bill Hendrickson (Bill Paxton). Sure, he has three wives and seven kids who share a backyard in a society that rejects and criminalizes polygamy…but that isn’t his problem. Bill also happens to be a successful businessman who has some serious "mob ties" threatening to bring him down - only in this case, the “mob” happens to be the polygamist sect in which Bill grew up and the “boss” out to get him happens to be both a creepy spiritual leader and a father-in-law.

Of course there’s a lot of sex (it is HBO after all). There’s a great deal of family drama (and an open door to the soapy hijinx of a “Melrose Place”). And I think it is because of the appearance of such "normal" drama that HBO viewers just don’t seem to care for it (yet).

Anyone who switches off HBO after “The Sopranos” because they see a show preview filled with feuding wives, weeping women and Bill Paxton’s ass is cheating themselves of the real fascination behind “Big Love”: The completely fucked-up world of polygamy.

Bill has three versions of a wife living essentially under one roof: The sensible mother figure (Jeanne Tripplehorn), the scheming drama queen (Chloe Sevigny) and the childlike baby momma (Ginnifer Goodwin). The balance of power between the women and of Bill over them never ceases to be absolutely awe-inspiring in its old-school carnality– it’s like watching a Discovery Channel segment on lions.

And the scenes from the backward polygamist compound where Bill grew up are so odd you’ll want to watch them over again for a repeated shock value. There we have child brides, warlord geezers, and wives and kids galore – every week serving as the token explainer for why polygamy is a bad idea. It’s delightfully creepy.

Of course, the only people really ticked off about the series are the Mormons. They don’t like even tangentially being connected with polygamy – let alone hyper-sexed polygamy. They’d rather you forgot about their history, so they want to send polite emails to have it cancelled. They seem to think this is NBC and that the network will cave to any hint of religious controversy (don’t do it, HBO).

Because of (not in spite of) that – all people who pride themselves for being super-special HBO viewers need to watch “Big Love” and make it a certifiable hit. Give it a place alongside the shows that “glorify violence” (“The Sopranos”), “demean women” (“Entourage”), encourage sexual misconduct (“Sex in the City”) and “revel in bad language” (“Deadwood”). Prove that no one loves vice more than you do.

After all, you don’t want the weirdoes who ruined network TV to come after you and the shows you pay extra to see. Do you?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

It's not TV, it's HBO

I forgot to report last week that after years of being inexplicably annoyed by HBO viewers - I decided to become one.

I'm not sure if it was because "Arrested Development" is gone or that I've seen every episode of "Family Guy" enough times to quote it without even having the sound on - but I knew it was time for a change.

Wow - what a new world HBO has brought me. Television shows without commercials. Movies. Sex.

Yes, the sex. It surprised me quite a bit at first - seeing R-rated sex on my television without the aid of a DVD. Then, late at night, it even veers into NC-17. Who knew?

And it was then that I knew I made a good decision.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The much-ballyhooed return of The Fugees

I don't know if you have heard the oft-advertised new single from the Fugees, "Take it Easy." Yes - it's that one from the Verizon commercial.

I was elated to hear the Fugees were getting back together - but this was not what I expected. After years of crafting solo careers and reuniting as a sort of supergroup version of their former selves - the Fugees return as latter-day shadows of their former sound.

I don't know if it is the reliance on backbeats and sound effects, the somewhat-stumbling overlapping of voices or the goofiness - but Lauryn, Pras and Clef sound so new (and not in a good way). They sound like the Black Eyed Peas singing a cover of a Fugees song (and as much as I love the Peas - they ain't the Fugees circa 1998).

I haven't heard anything beyond the preview single - but I hope it isn't representative of their new work. Goofy dance-hop is not for the Fugees (past, present of future). A return to form (that would be that fabulous blend of soul, reggae and hip-hop) is what the music industry needs now - and what the Fugees can bank on for newfound success.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Live action Simpsons?

Seems someone leaked a live action promotional intro for the debut of "The Simpsons" on British TV. That's right: Real people as the Simpsons.

It's weird to imagine the Simpsons without animation - let alone to see it. Everyone seems about right, I guess - but I miss the yellow skin and blue hair. What a novel idea.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Deep thoughts...

I know, I know - I haven't written anything of value in forever.....but I did have to share this bit of wisdom about music:

(From Alex - sic)

"It’s a scientific fact that emo is the world’s queerest music. No, that’s not just my opinion. It’s empirical. You can pull out your oscilloscope, your Bunsen burner, your Jacob’s ladder, whatever. Run emo through it, and it’ll turn pink. It’s also a scientific fact that metal is the world’s most socially awkward music. Listening to metal means having absolutely no idea what’s cool. Metal is a guy in a faded dragon t-shirt drawing pictures of hot barbarian babes on his binder. Metal is trying to attract girls by having swordfights on the quad with PVC pipes wrapped in duct tape.

Furthermore, it is beyond dispute that prog-rock is the nerdiest music in the world. Prog-rock is all about geeks writing computer programs to settle the Neil Peart vs. Mike Portnoy debate. Prog-rock bands are so desperate to be high art that they’re content to sidestep art altogether, resulting in fat guys in pillbox hats playing ten-minute solos on fourteen-string basses. Prog-rock is an elaborate, terrified denial of the fundamental rock and roll fact that no matter how virtuosic and sophisticated a band gets, some junior-high dropout could step up with a guitar with four broken strings and play a song with enough soul to blow them out of the water forever. "