Wednesday, November 08, 2006

tv grab bag

I've already turned up my nose at Studio 60, but the rest of the TV season is still out there. Most of the shows have had enough episodes to work out the early kinks and also reveal the pretenders that just had a really good pilot. Let's take a quick overview, shall we?

First, the no-likies. The Nine got off to a quick start with a pilot that really snapped, then proceeded to just... fizzle. The show's time-shifting gambit is neither innovative or revealing (in the way it was in Soderbergh's Out of Sight). Strong performances from most of the cast, especially Tim Daly, Chi McBride, and John Billingsley, but the show's concept just doesn't have legs.

Runaway is already canceled, but it deserved it. If the show is about a family on the run from Johnny Law, I don't think you're supposed to root for the po-po to catch the protagonists. Leslie Hope was grave as the mom, but the whole thing reeked of flop from the opening credits. So long, we won't miss ye.

Standoff just irritates me. The show's tagline is "
There's no crisis situation they can't handle ... unless it involves each other." Pee-yuke. I hope Ron Livingston's banking the paychecks until his next interesting gig comes along.

Kidnapped is already gone. NBC yanked it from Wednesdays, promised to burn off the eps on Saturdays, then blanched at those ratings and decided the internets would be the perfect place to let the show reach resolution. Too bad. I liked Kidnapped. Jeremy Sisto was very good as Knapp, a private kidnap resolution specialist, and Delroy Lindo, as usual, ruled as Latimer King, FBI agent who puts off retirement to take one more case. Timothy Hutton didn't do much as Conrad Cain, mogul father to kidnapped son, but the show did an interesting thing by refusing to follow the "cops vs. private eye" cliches. Knapp is a former FBI agent who still respects the bureau; he now has different priorities. Latimer King knows that Knapp is good and trusts him, even if King must follow a different set of procedures. These two were very good. Not so good: a minor-league Hannibal Lecter that Knapp visited in prison every third episode or so. I like to think that if the show had continued, exec producer Jason Smilovic would have gotten rid of him. Kidnapped was a minor pleasure.

I like Heroes. It's not perfect, not by a long shot, but it knows how to work a cliffhanger and the show enjoys its pulpiness. Points for a character (Hiro) who embraces his powers and really, really likes being able to stop time. The show is so much fun that I barely notice that it stars Milo Ventimiglia, an actor whose appearance makes me throw up in my own mouth.

I grew up in a small, football-crazy town and I live in a small, football-crazy town and I will tell you that Friday Night Lights gets it real good. From football action that looks realistic to soap-opera that stays on the right side of plausible, the show has heart and chops. Plus it has the smoke-hot Connie Britton.

30 Rock is an okay comedy with two huge advantages. Tracy Morgan does a wonderful, smart turn as an egocentric movie star sliding into television. Morgan is fast, funny, sly and committed to his awful character. 30 Rock's crown jewel, however, is Alec Baldwin. "The Italians have a saying, Lemon. 'Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.' And though they've never won a war or mass-produced a decent automobile, in this they are correct. Mark my words, in five years we'll either all be working for him....... (looooong pause) or dead by his hand." That monologue by Baldwin is hands-down the funniest line of the year so far, and 85% of it is in the delivery. Baldwin is headed for an Emmy. A big, blustering Emmy win.

I don't think Jericho is really that good, but I'm watching. John Rogers at Kung Fu Monkey put it best: "It's the best TV show of 1988!"

I do think Ugly Betty is that good. Adequately written, pleasantly twisty, and tongue so far in cheek that everyone has to mumble, UB lives and dies by one person: America Ferrera. Don't mistake my meaning. Eric Mabius is very good and Vanessa Williams is a hoot (as well as still seriously hot), but America Ferrera has a quality that make you want to have her over for tea and to tell her everything will be all right. So far she has kept Betty grounded and believable. That's no small feat in a confection as airy as this one. When she walked into Central Park as the pilot ended and the camera craned up as KT Tunstall's "Suddenly I See" came up on the soundtrack, I actually came out of my chair.

Monday, October 09, 2006

studio 60... yeah, it's monkey nuts time

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip lost me at the beginning of the first episode when the Judd Hirsch character (Wes Mendell) loses a showdown with a network geek over a sketch entitled "Crazy Christians." The stewing Mendell breaks into the show and delivers a "stinging" off-the-cuff monologue tearing TV a new one.

What crap. Hirsch/Mendell is a grizzled veteran, the producer of a long-running, successful TV show. The idea that this guy would make a principled stand for something as abstract as "art" is laughable. He might behave badly because he resented being put in his place by a flunkie twenty-five years his junior, but for "art?" Hey, when was the last time Lorne Michaels looked like he was concerned about anything other than his next dinner reservation at a five-star restaurant. Studio 60 pretends to take us backstage, but it really takes us to FantasyLand.

Next, the impromptu diatribe is supposed to be a national contretemps. Riiiiiiiiiggggggggggghhhhhhhhhttt. Sure, it would play round-the-clock on YouTube, but aside from providing great material for Letterman and Conan, there would be zero impact. Also, does anyone believe that "Crazy Christians" was really that funny? Probably more like that lame "Hillbilly Clinic" sketch that they can't seem to get enough of at SNL.

Third, Amanda Peet plays a network president who apparently has no other responsibilities other than mother-henning this show. Maybe if she was the exec producer, but the network prez?

Fourth, Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford look too much alike. It's creepy. Stop it.

Fifth, stop the "smoldering love affair" between Harriet (Sarah Paulson) and Matt (Perry). This story line is an anchor. It stops the show colder than Horatio Sanz "cracking up" during every single sketch in which he appears on SNL. Paulson and Perry have the same intense chemistry visible between Mr. T and George Peppard on The A Team. While we're at it, why is it important that Harriet be a Christian? It's not even a facet of her character; it's more like a tic or a temporary tattoo. As a Christian, I'm more offended by this tepid biscuit that supposed to make the show seem "balanced", "nuanced", "complex", or whatever it's supposed to do than I would be by the actual airing of "Crazy Christians". The character is supposedly based on Kristin Chenoweth, but Chenoweth works on Broadway. That's a completely different environment than TV and if you don't believe me, watch Chenoweth, who is a legitimately galvanizing stage performer, on TV. She's terrible. I don't buy Harriet as a great talent, as a committed Christian, or as a human being who has any kind of conflict between her faith and her profession. Paulson is a fine actress, but she is so miscast that I don't believe she can overcome these obstacles.

I will continue to watch. Why? Because in spite of all this, when Sorkin gets his little dialogue windmill going, it is always entertaining. Not smart, not complex, not many of the adjectives people use to describe his writing, but entertaining. Unlike The West Wing, Studio 60 does not linger. The West Wing often felt as if you were watching something important. Sports Night, Sorkin's first show (it had faults, but it also had the brilliant episode "Draft Day") was sleek and attractive compared to the drivel around it. Studio 60 sort of sits in the middle; self-important, a show ostensibly about comedy that doesn't even attempt to capture the whirlwind rush produced by making people laugh.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

a change in emphasis

Since the fall TV schedule is now well and truly under way, I was planning a post about the new season. You know, what shows I like and dislike, which "critical favorites" actually suck monkey nuts, that sort of thing. Not today. No, not today.

Rep. Mark Foley pretty much put paid to the idea. Actually, Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) and Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) put paid to it. The incipient predatory sex scandal is such a succinct summation of the last six years that it's almost hermetic in its perfection.

Homosexuality plays a part in this affair. Even people who try to be fair about the place of gay people in society may experience a physical discomfort with the actual notion of gay sex. That's not homophobic; it's human nature to be uncomfortable with something that is foreign to us. Still, it seems to me that many anti-gay sentiments are almost comical in their shrillness. I go to church with a guy who constantly gets worked up about what "the queers" are doing to the country. His long tirades about how disgusted he is at the thought of "them doin' it" worry me. See, I don't think about gay people doin' it. I don't think about the straight people I know doin' it, because if I did conjure a mental picture of some of the couples I know engaged in sweaty sexual congress, I would be forced to heat a barbecue fork until it glowed cherry-red and then gouge out my own eyes. Hey, I don't even want to picture what I look like doin' it. I just wanna do it.

I worked for years at a bookstore. One of the assistant managers was gay. We closed the store many nights. At no time did I think he was peeking over the counter to check me out as I restocked the magazines. That's not the way it works. I may have many beliefs about homosexuality, but I'm pretty sure that the average gay man does not try to recruit straights. It occurs to me that many of the most extreme partisans on either side of the issue end up agreeing. Another gay employee at the bookstore held the firm belief that everyone is gay and that heteros just haven't discovered it yet. Right-wing culture bloviators have waxed eloquent at length that if we don't fight tooth and nail for heterosexuality, we will all turn gay because, I guess, the gay is irresistible. See, more unites us than divides us.

Finally, the Foley scandal isn't even really about homosexuality. It's about hypocrisy, predation and hubris. Foley isn't a hypocrite because he's gay; he and his fellow Republicans are hypocrites because they made their bones demonizing gay Americans. It's about predation not because F0ley is gay, but because he used his position of power to make sexual advances to those over whom he exercised that power. It's about hubris because these fat bastards thought they could get away with it.

Update: They might get away with it. The mighty evangelical "values" team seems to have suddenly discovered the right to privacy and the idea of personal, rather than collective morality.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

in which laura ingraham and i finally see eye to eye

Laura Ingraham claims that the high ratings for 24 prove that Americans are in favor of torture. I am elated. Not that I'm in favor of torture, but the right-wingers have finally come over to my way of thinking. If enough people want something, then that makes it okay.

That really opens the vistas for an economic revival that will sweep us all into McMansions. After all, if enough Americans want man-on-dog sex, then it's okay for Rick Santorum to provide it (regardless of where you stand on gay marriage, I find it interesting that the first place most conservatives go to is man-on-fill in your favorite animal here). In my neck of the woods, a lot of people seem to think meth is okay. Now that it will become legal and morally acceptable to cook crank, I'll finally be able to buy Benadryl without having a tracking chip implanted into my earlobe.

Plus, Ingraham's admission means I can go to church without chanting "neener-neener" whenever someone starts to bloviate about the Bush administration's commitment to unshakeable moral truth and standards. I guess moral relativism in the defense of liberty is no vice, although it's a piss-poor slogan.

Digby has an excellent post on this conundrum. It's called "Faith-Based Torture." It's excellent.

Friday, September 15, 2006

"it is unacceptable to think..."

I know that there's more to that statement. I know that it was a slip of the tongue, an unfortunate pause. And yet...

Could it get any more Freudian? Not only regarding the Mangler in Chief of the English language, but for our society at large? At this point, I believe that nothing scares our nation more than the idea that they might have to actually engage their brains and, you know, think.

I 'm aware that America has never been a real fountainhead of intellectual profundity. That push westward didn't allow lots of time for reflection, and America is still a young country by the measure of history. Still, we seem to have turned our backs on even the most rudimentary standards of critical thought.

Take the torture question. The hammer that the pro-torture position always wields is the old "it's one hour 'til a nucular bomb explodes and we've got a guy in custody who knows where it is. Now, are you tellin' me that you're such a pussy that you wouldn't hook the guy's nuts up to a car battery to save thousands of lives? Oh, and your mom's in the blast radius!"

First, the scenario assumes that we have the right man in custody. What if it turns out we just think we've got Ali ben Bommah in the clink? It might just be some guy who happens to look like, you know, one of them. Then there's the "one hour" canard. Let's say we decide to buzz Ali's testes with good ol' fashioned DC current. All Ali has to do is scream, "It's at 1234 Blue Balls Road!" when he knows that it's really at 4567 Numb Nuts Lane and there's your hour wasted. Boom ka-boom and torture did nothing. That scenario is a fraud.

Our language is empty and futile. Hackneyed phrases and wrung-out sentences that sound as if they mean something dominate our public discourse. I challenged someone to explain the phrase "we must fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here" to me. They could not, but it sounded so strong, so substantial. Now, I agree that nuance chills the blood somewhat. It is hard to maintain a frothing patriotic rage when you're trying to actually quantify problems and test solutions.

I've been reading Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language." Now, I'm not an Orwell scholar, but you don't have to be a genius to see the bright straight line that connects Orwell's assertion that "
the word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies 'something not desirable'" and our culture's use of words like "liberal." Frankly, liberal has no meaning today; it's a device for letting everyone know that a certain position need not be considered or debated. It's used the way others use "Nazi." No content, just code.

And it cuts both ways. I read many progressive blogs and I often find references (in the comments, not often in the blog) to "fundies" and "Christofascists." The term "fundie" is just as pejorative and dismissive as Rush Limbaugh's use of "liberal" and "feminazi." It betrays a worldview short on thought and long on knee-jerk. Many have written that there can be no such thing as "Islamofascism" and they are absolutely correct. There is also no such thing as "Christofascism." One of the few bloggers to deal with this sort of junk is maha over at the Mahablog. In the interest of full disclosure, I must say straight up that I am a Christian and, theologically, pretty evangelical/fundamental. It works itself out in my life a lot differently than in some of my acquaintances, but I'm still under that umbrella. It saddens me to see actions and stances credited to/blamed on religion when more often religion is used as a cover for base human nature. Do we really think that (for example) Eric Rudolph was fair-minded, rational, and respectful of other human beings until he went to church? Now, there are groups out there who will give people like Rudolph the material to build his own scaffold of justification, but the bile was in him.

We are not going to fix our problems, we're not even going to make any real progress, until we can begin to think. And making the mistakes we accuse others of making is no way to begin that process.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

exhale america. katie's in control.

Well, our long national spell of breath-holding is past. Inhale deeply, for finally that which wise men sought and prophets foretold has come to pass. Katie Couric is officially the anchor of the CBS Evening News. Column inches have been filled like Al Roker at a Golden Corral and words have rained down like toads on the eve of the apocalypse. I should have a strong opinion.

But I don't. Any phrase describing my reaction would have to include the phrase "rat's ass." Who cares? Do you really know anyone who thought this was a big deal, other than your weird cousin who pleasures himself to old rebroadcasts of Rush Limbaugh? It matters to those guys, since the knowledge that the High Priestess of Liberals and Soccer Moms is filling Cronkite's old chair sends a frisson of such masochistic pleasure through their central nervous system that I expect several precincts to experience a shortage of KY Jelly. But anybody else? Not so much.

Local news still has some relevance, for the weather and sports if nothing else, but national broadcast news is wheezing like Dennis Hopper trying to sing "Tears of a Clown." It simply has no relevance, only inertia. My parents and in-laws still watch because they've always watched, but I haven't watched network news in a good ten years and I'm not that young. I don't know if my younger brother has ever watched it. Couric's Botoxed, zombified countenance is not going to lure me back or convince him to give the stuff a try. News really only matters when you're committed to it, and network decisions to treat news divisions as profit centers pretty much guarantees the continuation of the trend away from any sort of real analysis and toward tepid health and lifestyle segments clustered around a 45-second "expose" about the fleecing of America. Hey, isn't Scrubs on Comedy Central?

That's the real story to me. Professional who are supposed to know what they're doing have invested millions of dollars and their own future employment on something about which most people simply do not care. There seems to be a furor over Couric's 13 million viewers on opening night. Chet Huntley wouldn't have wiped his ass with 13 million viewers. Game over, folks, game over.

Monday, August 28, 2006

emmy whining

Okay, 24 won best-drama Emmy. I got no problem with that; I love 24. I watch it faithfully and enjoy it immensely. If The Sopranos had won, I would have no complaint. The other three? House is a brilliant performance surrounded by a repetitive, cliched premise. Grey's Anatomy... I don't get. Doesn't mean it's bad, just means that I see no reason to watch it, ever. West Wing? Loved it early, lost interest, glad it didn't win a sympathy award on the way out.

What bugs me is the pearl-clutching in certain quarters about the Academy' s failure to nominate Lost or Desperate Housewives. So what if they were past winners? Neither deserved to be on the list. Want a drama that really got shafted? Hi, Veronica Mars! Good to see ya! As far as DH, hey, I'm no fan of Two and a Half Men, but that doesn't mean the housewives needed hardware.

Oh, and Jack Bauer, hope those heathen Chinee aren't abusing you too badly.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

kathleen parker makes my head hurt

My local newspaper publishes weekly. I subscribe to the nearest daily paper from a city some 60 miles away. The opinion page carries Clarence Page and Molly Ivins, Donald Kaul and Cal Thomas, along with assorted local thinkers and one-shot columnists.

And Kathleen Parker.

I have no idea how Parker got into the opinion business. I suspect it's a tale rife with Satanic deals and ritual slayings. She is the director of the School of Written Expression (whatever sort of sinecure that is) at the Buckley School of Public Speaking. The Buckley School is the creation of Reid Buckley. Reid is William F. Buckley's younger brother. The school was founded when Reid's heart was moved with pity by the terrible plight of Union Carbide executives following the Bhopal disaster in 1984. It's a spin academy. Parker is part of the consulting faculty (which I assume means that her commitment to the school extends to cashing the checks), along with L. Brent Bozell and various members of the extended Buckley family. I will extend a personal exemption to Christopher Buckley on the grounds that he can be really, really funny.

Parker's latest brain belch is entitled "Intellectually Curious George." Her thesis? George W. Bush ain't inarticulate--he's from Texas. You see, George feels so inferior, due to his po' folks upbringin' in Midland that he just tries too hard. His embarrassment at his humble beginnin's causes him to try to talk purty in a way that jus' ain't natcheral to a native son of the windblown soil. See, Kathleen was the guest of a guest at a private lunch with a hundred Bush supporters. Appparently his command of simile and metaphor coupled with his grasp of the issues and the butter-smooth lilt of his political patter caused Kathleen to succumb to the vapors.

I'm so glad I had my baseball cap on, because that little gift-shop investment is all that kept my head from exploding. I may have blacked out for a moment. Imagine, the man feels more at home in front of a hand-picked group of supporters. Who'd a thunk it?

That pales next to her attempt to re-create GDub as the son of migrant workers who, through something we real Americans call pluck and a generous helping of grit, became the first member of his family to finish high school, then entered politics at the behest of the people when all he really wanted to do was continue to run the little hardware store he had founded after graduation from SW Texas State at San Marcos. This quote is the topper:

"Anyone who speaks before cameras knows the taste of humility and can relate to the agony of being George Bush."

Well, maybe he wouldn't have that problem if he had attended the Buckley School of Public Speaking. In the interest of full disclosure, I have spoken before cameras and, unlike our CEO Prez, was able to clench my verbal cheeks and keep my rhetorical sphincter under control. Actually, GW's biggest flaw is that he doesn't know the taste of humility. He's never been within sniffing distance of the stuff.

Really, it's hard enough that I have to try and hold some measure of respect for the man. Now I'm supposed to feel sorry for him, too? Quick, Ms. Parker, perhaps you can use some of your influence and get George a hardship admission. I'm sure Reid has a soft spot for the truly handicapped.

Update: Doghouse Riley read the same column. He no likey either.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

this takes "meat and two veg" to a ridiculous level

On Monday, August 7, John Hendren of NPR reported this:
This is how staggeringly pointless the killing in Iraq is getting: shepherds in the rural western Baghdad neighborhood of Gazalea have recently been murdered, according to locals, for failing to diaper their goats. Apparently the sexual tension is so high in regions where Sheikhs take a draconian view of Shariah law, that they feel the sight of naked goats poses an unacceptable temptation. They blame the goats.

I’ve spent nearly a year here, on more than a dozen visits since the early days of the war, and that seemed about as preposterous as Iraq could get until I heard about the grocery store in east Baghdad. The grocer and three others were shot to death and the store was firebombed because he suggestively arranged his vegetables.

I didn’t believe it at first. Firebombings of liquor stores are common, and I figured there must’ve been one next door. But an Iraqi colleague explained matter-of-factly that Shiite clerics had recently distributed a flyer directing groceries how to display their food.

Standing up a celery stalk near a couple of tomatoes in a way that might – to the profoundly repressed – suggest an aroused male, is now a capital offense.
My first reaction was "John Ashcroft's in charge." I know it seems like a strange connection, but let me elaborate.

One of the signal events of the Ashcroft tenure was his decision to drape a sheet over the nude statue of justice. This action was cause for much amusement, but the real truth of the matter is this: The attorney general of the United States couldn't walk past a statue without becoming aroused. Oh, maybe not aroused to full attention, so to speak, but at least thinkin' 'bout it. I come from a Christian tradition very similar to Ashcroft. I've spent many an hour listening to authority figures lecture girls and women about how they should dress. This always raised a question in my mind. Let's say a woman dresses really, really provocatively. You know, dress cut up to here, down to there, showcasing the merchandise, you know what I'm sayin'. Isn't it within my power to turn my attention away? I once heard Barbara Coloroso say that in the Talmud, it is no sin to go naked, but it is a sin to look. I like that concept. What I look at and think about is my responsibility.

The more I listened to these lectures and observed the rules they produced, the more I realized that the men making them were obsessed with sex. A woman could cut a hole in the middle of a 16'x16' tarp and put her head through it. They would still find a way to brand her a harlot, because they couldn't put sex, or at least the thought of having sex with her, out of their minds.

Which brings us back to John Ashcroft. There's only one reason to drape the statue of justice, and that's because you can't walk past it without thinking about how sweet it would be to bend justice over your podium and do her.

Which brings us back to Gazalea. I guarantee you that if you scratch one of the sheikhs who made this decree, you'll find a goat-humper. And I don't even want to know what his neighbor is thinking about the stew.

Update: Lance Mannion has a post that deals with much the same issue here. His is better written and more comprehensive.

the heart of the game

I took the Golden Child to the movies on Monday. There's a little independent theater about 70 miles from our house. It's been there about a year. I saw Nightwatch, Brick, Tristram Shandy, and District B13 there, among others. Thirty years ago, we wouldn't have been able to get a sniff of those movies unless the university was showing them as part of a series, and then you would have been watching them in a cramped, ancient college auditorium on a stained screen with dim projection. Trust me, it's much nicer to sit in padded seats and see a crystal-clear image on a big screen whilst I sip a Fitz's root beer.

The Golden Child and I piled into the car and trekked to the Moxie to see The Heart of the Game, a highly praised documentary. I was a bit chary of the film since it revolves around the well-known "much beloved coach who makes a great impact in his players' lives." I played football and basketball in high school and college and most of my coaches were self-centered asses at best, borderline psychotics at worst.

The Heart of the Game got me. Bill Resler, the women's basketball coach at Roosevelt High in Seattle, and Darnellia Russell, a dominating player who comes from a different section of Seattle than most of her teammates, leave indelible impressions. Resler seems to be that rarest of creatures: a coach who loves the game, but loves his players more. Let's just say I want to play for him. The way he deals with tough losses and the words he offers to his team are marvelous. Russell takes over the screen the way she takes over the court; you cannot look away from her.

There's an old cliche that says "If you wrote a script like this, Hollywood wouldn't buy it." You could say that about The Heart of the Game, only Hollywood would buy it. They'd just turn it into crap. Filmmaker Ward Serrill follows the Roosevelt team for seven years and so can shape the narrative of his film for maximum impact. He trusts his story and doesn't hype it. The action tells the story. He even gets lucky with the final showdown. Roosevelt's ultimate opponent is their crosstown rival, and while the Roosevelt players are photogenic and friendly, the opposing players (at least those on camera) look downright scary.


Resler vows to play every player in the state final, even if it costs Roosevelt the game. Wouldn't you know it, players with almost no playing time during the regular season make key contributions.


Every element of the movie save one works. That weak link is the narration by Ludacris. I understand that it's a smart commercial move (his narration was recorded after the film made the festival circuit), but it's tepid in execution.

This is a good documentary. It would make an outstanding double feature with Legacy, Tod Lending's film from 2000. Find out where The Heart of the Game is playing and go see it.

follow this link

Lance Mannion has a post you should read. I not only agree with him concerning Pratchett, but if you are burned out on all the Left Behind nonsense that passes for reading, get your hands on Good Omens, a collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Pratchett that is soda-out-the-nose funny while doing no damage to its source material. In other words, the LaHaye-Jenkins crowd cannot call it heresy. Read it, I say, read it!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

iron west

Amazon, via the USPS, delivered my copy of Doug TenNapel's Iron West this afternoon. Now, I'm a fan of his work dating back to Earthworm Jim. I deeply love Creature Tech, and so I was stoked to get his newest work.

I was not disappointed. Iron West reads like the best evah episode of The Adventures of Briscoe County, Jr. A story that combines aliens, robots, Native American spirituality, and Sasquatch. A hero who even looks a little like Bruce Campbell. The requisite fallen lady with a heart of gold. TenNapel is one of those storytellers who weaves together disparate elements in a way that makes them seem not only compatible, not only natural, but inevitable. It's one of the coolest things I've read since Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead, a zombie saga that combines and outdoes both Dawn of the Dead and Land of the Dead.

hello, it's me.

Why am I blogging?

After all, isn't a little late to get in the game? Am I not brother to the guy in the Progressive Insurance commercial, the last lone loser in an empty stadium? Isn't this kind of like being the last kid to get bell-bottoms in 1969, or the last girl to wear legwarmers in 1986?

Maybe. And I would be fooling myself and trying to fool you if I thought that I had any deep thoughts or original takes on life that you, the reader, really needed to hear. I think it's more about things I need to say.

You see, I live in a small town in the Great Midwest(tm), and by that I mean a really small town. I'm not talking about a suburb of 15,000 some twenty minutes from Chicago or Indianapolis or Des Moines. I mean a real, honest-to-goodness small town, 4500 free-standing souls isolated enough to think that Des Moines is a very big city. It's a small place that looks askance at boat-rockers, and isn't real crazy about opinions that venture too far off a well-beaten path. It's full of good people trying to get through life, but who would rather watch Benchwarmers than Brick.

But I like Brick. And I hope that through this blog, I can connect with other people who like Brick. Or the music of Jon Dee Graham and Habib Koite. Or the comics of Warren Ellis. Who have a religious faith with which they grapple and that they take seriously, not a set of rules that they use to elevate themselves above others. Who think that we need new ideas, but aren't smug and certain about what those ideas might be. If you might be one of those people, or interested in eavesdropping on us, welcome aboard.

And I promise that the next post won't make me seem like such a whiny, self-aggrandizing ass.