Exhibit A: The latest monstrosity from Hot Pockets, featuring a horny idiot guy, a blowup-doll of a woman, and whatever the fuck Hot Pockets are.
Exhibit B: The latest billboard hyping McDonald's Fish McBites, featuring a complete failure of a tagline, which is succinctly dissed by AdPulp here. (Seriously, "The Catch That's Caught Here"? A five-word phrase featuring "the," "that," and two uses of "catch"? AND WHERE IS 'HERE'??)
In the battle of "Who had the most EWWWWWW moments," last night's episode of Girls beat out The Walking Dead by a wide margin. HOW CAN THIS BE?? Find out by hitting the jump for my spoilerific recaps of both shows, AND your observant observations in the comments. Welcome to The Walking Dead (and Girls) Chitty-Chat Club!
It's the showeveryone'stalkingabout, and watching it can be a distinct pleasure (even if the producers have the sketchiest notion of what constitutes "addiction"—a woman who takes 200 laxatives a day doesn't have a "strange addiction," she has bulimia, and should therefore be on A&E's Intervention).
Since you're all about watching entire series on Netflix now (and you've already lost an entire weekend burning through House of Cards), why not lose another few days of your life on a brand new Netflix exclusive series starting in April called Hemlock Grove? Eli Roth (Grindhouse, Cabin Fever) is your producer, and Famke Janssen (yum), Lili Taylor, and Dougray Scott are your stars in this horror series about two dudes suspected of killing a young girl—one of whom is rumored to be a werewolf (!!!)—and their attempts to find the killer. The trailer kind of reminds me of Twilight—if Twilight had a bunch of sexy nude people in it, and was well written. Check it out!
Jay Leno, whose job materialized presumably because he had some major dirt on a high-level executive at NBC, is rumor-legedly going to retire. Said rumors also purport that Jimmy Fallon is to take his role. If the television industry were anything like an actual capitalist market, something like this would have happened years ago.
As you may or may not know, Julia's on Broadway throws a viewing party every Monday for RuPaul's Drag Race hosted by Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme. A LOT of people already know about this—by last night's 8 pm pre-show, people were being turned away in droves. What you get at the viewing party is Jinkx and BenDeLaCreme bantering during commercial breaks and taking questions from the audience and bantering further and performing songs and still more bantering. Occasionally, there are special guests, as there was last night. I squeezed myself into the crowded room to bring you the highlights.
• Jinkx on how packed it was: "I'm going to try crowd surfing later."
• BenDeLaCreme on being stuck in an airport in Chicago recently: "Airport bathrooms are not as much fun as they sound on the news."
Welcome once again to the only TV recap in America that recaps both The Walking Dead AND Girls—at the same time. (What do you mean I "shouldn't be so proud about that"?) Hit the jump for my spoilerific thoughts about last night's episodes—AND your "oh-so-observant" observations! LET'S START CHITTY-CHATTING!
This weekend Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were the musical guests on Saturday Night Live (hosted by Kevin Hart). The last Seattle artist to appear on SNL was the Fleet Foxes in 2009. And before that it was Pearl Jam and Death Cab for Cutie, who both performed in 2006 (PJ's show was hosted by Lindsay Lohan!). It's a rare and awesome opportunity for us Seattleites to see a 206 face on the show, and it's something worth celebrating, even if you think the R. Kelly joke in "Thrift Shop" is, like, so last decade.
We're not the city of grunge anymore. Right? People are done calling us that now, right? Surely they are after this:
But in Season 5, it appears we’re back to glamour-land, with a slate of queens who, with a few execptions, seem to value being “fishy”—i.e., as convincing in their imitation of women as possible—above all else. I challenge you to find a five-minute block of any episode that doesn’t contain that word flopping around on deck. But fishy has its limits, and they were never more apparent than in this week’s episode, which featured the Snatch Game, a fan-favorite over the past few seasons. Styled on the 1960s hit Match Game, the contest begins with Ru asking an innuendo-laden question of a duo of guest “celebrities.” The queens, who are all meant to be impersonating specific celebrities (Cher, Madonna, and so on) record their answers on cards. Ru then compares the celebrity answers with the queens’ to see if there is a match. This rarely happens; the point of the exercise is comedy, not points.
As you might expect, much of that comedy comes from the impersonation skills of the queens themselves. They not only need to look like their star, but also must channel that figure’s idiosyncrasies, clichés, and neuroses to humorous effect—they need to be, in a word, campy. Unfortunately, Monday’s edition of the Snatch Game revealed almost all of this season’s contestants as fish out of water. Alaska and Roxxxy Andrews were passably funny as Lady Bunny and Tamar Braxton, respectively, but the clear winner of the night—partially because she had no competition—was Jinkx Monsoon as Little Edie, the troubled and transcendent cousin of Jackie Kennedy featured in the canonical camp documentary, Grey Gardens.
Jinkx’s interpretation of Little Edie was excellent, and she deserved to win. But, based on the admittedly edited version of events that we saw, none, not one, of Jinkx’s peers seemed to know what Grey Gardens even was. And worse than that cringe-worthy ignorance was the embarrassing gall some of the queens displayed in making fun of Jinkx for her camp knowledge. When Coco Montrese, until now a favorite of mine, tried to “read” (that is, artfully insult) Jinkx during the Snatch Game by asking Ru who Little Edie was, I almost felt pity for how stupid she looked. Almost.
Think it's weird for me to recap The Walking Dead and Girls as if they're the same show? WELL, THEY ARE THE SAME SHOW. Join me after the jump for this week's spoilery recaps, and chime in with your own Walking Girls comments!
(This post has been updated to change the live-Slog start time.)
...and here is my one rock-solid Oscar prediction: Everybody I want to win will lose, except maybe Daniel Day-Lewis. Here are things I cannot predict about the Oscars:
Will host Seth MacFarlane be the douchiest Oscar host ever, or will James Franco hold onto the title for one more year?
Will Anne Hathaway's feigned shock at winning an Academy Award be even remotely believable?
Will the James Bond tribute involve too much or just enough modern dance?
Will every single male star in attendance be wearing a Tom Ford tuxedo, or will Alan Arkin buck fashion trends by digging up an old Armani?
Will Ben Affleck take his revenge on this year's Best Director winner onstage, or after the show?
Will Snow White and the Huntsman actually win one of the two Academy Awards for which it's been nominated?
Dan Savage, David Schmader, Christopher Frizzelle, Megan Seling, Dominic Holden, Goldy, and I will be discovering the answers to all those questions and more in a live-Slog right in this here blog-space today, starting at 4:30 pm Seattle time. Bring snacks, booze, and a desire to mock beautiful people. We'll take care of the rest.
Did you watch The Walking Dead last night? Oh... okay, so a few of you did. How many of you watched Girls instead? Just about as many! So let's chitty-chat about BOTH, whaddayasay?? Join me after the jump for my spoiler-filled observations, and leave your own in the comments! LET'S START CHITTY-CHATTING! (Oh, and you can talk about Downton Abbey too, if you wish.)
Slog tipper Dan let us know about the sad case of Cinema Salem, which had to cancel its popular Walking Dead screening series:
Hey there faithful Walking Dead fans! We have noticed that over the last few days you’ve been inquiring as to whether we’ll be showing it on the big screen again when the mid season premiere happens on Sunday. The answer is no, and here’s why. Towards the end of the last part of the season we received a cease and desist letter from AMC demanding that we not show episodes of their show because the screening was unlicensed. We responded that our business license from Direct TV allowed us to show television to our customers. We continued showing you the episodes.
After the season finale, we got another letter, which said that our business license was irrelevant because of the size of our screen. We did not respond because we were in the process of switching from Direct TV to Comcast. We did not think it would be useful to appeal to Direct TV since we were going to be discontinuing service with them. Comcast has since told us that they do not think screen size is relevant to whether or not our screenings are licensed, but have yet to produce anything in writing to that effect. So we will not be screening The Walking Dead until we feel secure in our legal right to do so (which may be never).
Bullshit like this is pretty commonplace because networks and movie studios apparently hate fun, and they especially hate it when large numbers of fans come together to watch their products in large groups. Dan points out that AMC also killed a Walking Dead screening series hosted by a Portland comic book shop in November. These events are publicity for the shows, and they help create a feeling that the shows are not-to-be-missed events. I don't know why anyone would think it was a good idea to shut them down. Could you imagine if the NFL tried to make it illegal to watch football games in bars? The entertainment industry keeps trying to make sure that fans don't enjoy their product, and it's painful to watch them do this again and again.
You know those times when you see news stories about teenagers doing terrible, stupid things and you feel awful about the future of this country? Leonard Cooper on the Jeopardy! Teen Tournament is the exact opposite of those stories. We're going to be just fine.
Let's talk about my brain for a minute. You know... how advanced it is. To help you understand the advance-iness of my brain, let's use the most fanciest, most expensive crystal goblet in the world as a metaphor. Would you fill the most fanciest, most expensive goblet in the world with a daiquiri made out of motor oil, used Band-Aids, battery acid, toenail clippings, Cool Ranch Doritos, and donkey sperm? No, of course not—you'd be called a goblet murderer.
WELL, AH-HAH! I'VE LURED YOU INTO MY INSIDIOUS LOGIC TRAP! Because, just as you would not ruin the world's most precious goblet with such a foul concoction, neither would you fill the world's most precious brain with confusing television shows!
After decades of producing mindless gibberish—shows such as The Nanny, Mad About You, Home Improvement, The Bachelor, Grey's Anatomy, and any number of CSI, NCIS, and Law & Order spin-offs leap to mind—TV is now flipping the script and producing shows designed to make you "think." Unfortunately, after years of turning our brains to mush, we've actually lost the capability of cognitive thought! So what the networks want us to say is this: "By the shimmering sword of Perseus! This refreshingly edifying episode of Fringe is the mental equivalent of a soapy handjob from Helen of Troy (whose face and soapy handjobs launched a thousand ships)." However—thanks to our now mushy brainpans—what we're really saying is this: "Durrrrrr... me not understand. Why am lady in show wear pants? (Drrroooool)."
Community finally returns with new episodes tonight, but without series creator Dan Harmon on board, Mike Hale at the New York Times says it's a shadow of its former self. You should read the whole review, but here's the nut:
The show has been dumbed down, its humor broadened past recognition, and the two episodes provided for review — Thursday’s season premiere, “History 101,” and the Feb. 21 entry, “Conventions of Space and Time” — have fewer laughs between them than a single good scene from the old “Community.”
It sounds like everyone's worst Community nightmare has finally come true. But in cheerier Community news, the writing team did an Ask Me Anything on Reddit last night, and it had all sorts of neat little tidbits, including more slagging on Chevy Chase and this genius idea from a deleted scene:
Abed and Troy had an inflatable couch filled with helium in their apartment — you know, so it could float back up to the ceiling when not in use — and the bit got cut. (They lost the ottoman, but then it flew back in the window at the end of the scene.)
KIRO 7 "Investigates" is promising to blow the lid off Seattle's gun buyback program in an exclusive special report. "Seattle’s gun buyback program is designed to make streets safer," KIRO's website teases, "But when KIRO 7 starts digging, it looks like it all might be for show. Watch the untold story Thursday at 5."
Wow. Talk about over-promising. And I'm talking about KIRO, not the gun buyback program.
The problem is, KIRO is starting from a faulty premise: "Fewer guns, fewer crimes. Streets are safer, so you're safer. That's the hype, so they claim," the KIRO promo leads in with. Except that's not at all what the program's sponsors ever claimed. The buyback was never about getting guns out of the hands of criminals. It was always about getting guns out of the homes of people who didn't want them.
Yes, those unwanted guns are now no longer available to be stolen, so perhaps a gun related crime or two was indirectly prevented there. That's been mentioned by public officials. But the main goal of the buyback was always just to make hundreds of homes a little bit safer. Because study after study shows that the presence of a gun in one's house substantially increases one's risk of death or injury from firearms:
I am offended by the gay acceptance message this skit protrays. The implication is clear, if we got past our fear and tried anal sex, we would like it and then accept it.
During the "What Up With That" skit on SNL, actor Samuel L. Jackson said "What the Fuck" and "this is bullshit" during the show. I was watching with my gay friends and we were very upset. Thanks.
This has me very concerned for my safety and many others. Last night on Saturday night live Jamie Fox called for the killing of all white people. This occured during his monolog at the beginning of the show. All through his threat he used Obama's name. I want to make a formal complaint against NBC, Saturday Night Live and Jamie Fox. Jamie Fox needs to be removed from society until this threat is over.
Get the dvd and you will probably see a lot more than I saw because I turned the channel because I was so disgusted and sickened. I would never record or even consider buying a dvd with such wickedness and filth on it even to send you a copy so you could see how terrible it was.
It's a good look into the minds of... well, of people who e-mail the government at all hours to complain that SNL jokes are too dirty. WOWZA.
Thanks, Hot Tipper Alithea! You find all the best funnies!
It shouldn't be much of a surprise to regular readers of Slog, really, that I'm enjoying the hell out of Netflix's House of Cards. It's a political show about the ugly business of Washington DC, starring (and, in a weird, Shakespearean way, hosted by) a duplicitous snake, a politician's politician. What's more, the first two episodes are directed by David Fincher, and the rest of the series takes its cool design sense from Fincher's toolbox. So you have an unsentimental story about politics at its absolute worst, with a great visual sense, strong female characters, and a very interesting power dynamic between the protagonist and his wife. I couldn't look away if I tried.
I don't think I'd be able to critique House of Cards because I'm such a fan of it. Sure, the politics is a little dumbed down—that's fiction at work—and the dialogue can be a little on-the-nose. But the reporters and politicians in House of Cards are all fascinating characters, and the series, whose first season has just been released in one huge lump, is such a great exercise in plot. I haven't seen the British TV series or read the novels that House of Cards is adapted from, but I can still tell that this is a brilliant adaptation; it feels wholly American. I can't imagine what the British version is like, because it's so inextricably tied to the American political system.
My favorite thing about House of Cards is that it feels like the anti-West Wing. Don't get me wrong—I loved the West Wing* for its optimism and love of wonky policy chatter. But Kevin Spacey's Francis Underwood feels like the flip side of President Jed Bartlet, and it the reality of Washington D.C. falls almost exactly between the smarmy Machiavellian plots of House of Cards and the shining hope of the West Wing. In Wing, laws are passed because they're for the greater good. In Cards, they're passed to advance a personal agenda. There's a little bit of truth to both, and if you blend the two shows together, the lights and darks combine to form what could be considered a realistic portrait.
* Well, to be clear: I love the first three seasons and the final season of the West Wing. Everything else is barely watchable television.
Obviously, The Adventures of Pete & Pete was the best Nickelodeon TV show EVER obviously. And in this Funny or Die vid, some of the cast get back together for a 20th anniversary reunion show—which almost goes terribly, TERRIBLY WRONG. Okay, so it does go terribly wrong. Nice ponytail and bloody tattoo, Little Pete!
The Organist is a new podcast from the folks behind The Believer. The first episode includes interviews with George Saunders and Nick "Ron Swanson" Offerman, and it features Greil Marcus talking about Bikini Kill and Percival Everett, too. Plus: A reflection from someone who defected from the Jehovah's Witnesses, and Matmos talking about how they created a song on their new album. That's a whole lot of pod to cast. Go listen here.
Two days ago, I slogged about the Season 5 premiere of RuPaul's Drag Race, featuring Seattle starlet Jinkx Monsoon/Jerick Hofer.
In the post, I noted how Jinkx came out as narcoleptic on the episode, and asked "Seattle's premier Jinkx Monsoon historian" Adrian Ryan, "Is Jinkx Monsoon a narcoleptic, is Jerick Hofer a narcoleptic, or neither? (My secret dream is that he's faking it as a hilarious character trait for Jinkx, but let me know what you know.)" Adrian's reply: "oh hell no, he's totes faking it. it cracks me up."
Well, it turns out Adrian Ryan is actually Seattle's premier Jinkx Monsoon fabulist, as I learned when I put the above question—Is Jinkx narcoleptic, is Jerick narcoleptic, or both or neither?—to Mr. Hofer himself. His response:
Jerick is Narcoleptic, so Jinkx is sometimes narcoleptic. It's less of a Jinkx characteristic and more of a, the person who plays Jinkx is narcoleptic....To answer it simply, Yes. Jerick Hoffer has narcolepsy and has since he was 17. My sleep attacks are not fake. They are edited conspicuously on the show, but that's for ratings. Fact of the matter is, that's real.
Oh my God! Would you be up for answering a couple more questions? I'm mostly just interested in what it's like to navigate the world of live performance with the potential for sleep attacks part of your life. The fact is, you do navigate it, incredibly well, full-time, professionally and brilliantly, and that you're doing it with this sleep disorder is amazing and I'd love to know more if you're up for talking about it. (And if you don't care to discuss medical concerns with members of the media, I understand and totally no hard feelings.)
Well, to be honest, my case of narcolepsy is fairly moderate. Only a very small percentage of the narcoleptic community experience ALL the symptoms at an extreme level. A larger portion experience SOME of the symptoms at varying degrees of severity. I manage my specific case by taking naps when I can, natural/homeopathic remedies, nutrition and stress control.
So narcolepsy as a daily obstacle, but a manageable one while my symptom level is at where it's at. But ask anyone in the cast of RENT, whenever I wasn't rehearsing, I was sleeping. Ha ha. (Ben DelaCreme can attest to this as well.)
Jon Stewart did a tremendous job last night with what could easily have been a puffball interview to promote a book. He kept asking Al Gore how he could justify taking so much money—Gore might be wealthier than Mitt Romney now—from the fossil fuel industry when he sold Current TV to Al Jazeera. Gore never produced a satisfactory answer. Here's Politico's quick-cut of the interview: