Pop Culture Gadabout
Thursday, April 07, 2005
      ( 4/07/2005 02:04:00 PM ) Bill S.  

JOURNALISTAS – I read that the new issue of The Comics Journal has appeared in stores this week (which means I've probably got another week before I see a contributors' copy): a big Will Eisner appreciation which includes a brief re-examination by yours truly of the man's first two Dropsie Avenue graphic novels, A Contract with God and A Life Force. TCJ's website contains a listing of all the contents and also includes Gary Groth's full essay on Eisner’s career. Worth checking out. . .
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      ( 4/07/2005 11:24:00 AM ) Bill S.  

HALF-MEME-ING – Here’s part of a movie meme, taken off Peiratikos. The italicized entries are movies I’ve watched. The original meme also asked to bold those movies you own, but I decided to skip that part of the exercise:
· Adaptation. (2002)
· The Adventures of Robin Hood (1939)
· After Dark, My Sweet (1990)

· Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)
· Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)
· Alien (1979)
· All About Eve (1950)
· Amadeus (1984)
· Amarcord (1974)
· American Beauty (1999)
· The American President (1995)
· American Splendor (2003)

· The Animatrix (2003)
· Annie Hall (1977)
· The Apartment (1960)
· Apocalypse Now (1979)

· The Apu Trilogy (1955 - 1959)
· Around the Bend (2004)
· L’Atalante (1934)
· Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)
· L’Avventura (1960)
· The Band Wagon (1953)
· The Bank Dick (1940)

· Barefoot Gen (Hadashi no Gen) (1983)
· Batman (1966)
· Batman (1989)
· The Battle of Algiers (1967)

· Battle Royale (2000)
· The Battleship Potemkin (1925)
· Beat the Devil (1954)
· Beauty and the Beast (1946)
· Being John Malkovich (1999)
· Being There (1979)
· Belle de Jour (1967)
· The Bicycle Thief (1949)
· The Big Heat (1953)
· The Big One (1997)
· The Big Red One (1980)
· The Big Sleep (1946)
· The Birth of a Nation (1915)
· Blowup (1966)

· The Blue Kite (1993)
· Blue Velvet (1986)
· Bob le Flambeur (1955)
· Body Heat (1981)
· Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

· Le Boucher (1970)
· Bound (1996)
· Bowling for Columbine (2002)
· Breathless (1960)
· Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
· The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
· Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)

· Broken Blossoms (1919)
· Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
· The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
· Casablanca (1942)
· Casino Royale (1967)
· Chasing Amy (1997)
· Un Chien Andalou (1928)

· Children of Paradise (1945)
· Chinatown (1974)
· A Christmas Story (1983)
· Citizen Kane (1941)
· City Lights (1931)
· Clerks (1994)

· The Color of Paradise (1999)
· The Color Purple (1985)
· Comic Book Villains (2002)
· Conan the Barbarian (1982)
· The Conversation (1974)
· Cries and Whispers (1972)
· Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
· Crumb (1994)

· Damage (1992)
· Daredevil (2003)
· Day for Night (1973)
· The Day of the Dolphin (1973)
· Days of Heaven (1978)

· The Decalogue (1988)
· Detour (1945)
· Die Hard (1988)
· The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
· Do the Right Thing (1989)
· La Dolce Vita (1960)
· Donnie Darko (2001)
· Don’t Look Now (1974)
· Double Indemnity (1944)
· Dr. Strangelove (1964)
· Dracula (1931)
· Duck Soup (1933)
· Dune (1984)
· E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

· The Earrings of Madame de… (1953)
· Easy Rider (1969)
· Edward Scissorhands (1990)
· Ed Wood (1994)
· 8 1/2 (1963)

· Elektra (2005)
· The Elephant Man (1980)
· Eraserhead (1977)

· Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
· The Exterminating Angel (1962)
· The Fall of the House of Usher (1928)
· Fanny and Alexander (1983)
· Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
· Fargo (1996)
· Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
· The Firemen’s Ball (1968)
· Five Easy Pieces (1970)

· Floating Weeds (1959)
· Four Rooms (1995)
· The 400 Blows (1959)
· From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
· From Hell (2001)
· Gates of Heaven (1978)
· The General (1927)
· Ghost World (2000)

· Gigli (2003)
· Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
· The Godfather (1972)
· Goldfinger (1964)
· Gone With the Wind (1939)
· The Goodbye Girl (1977)
· The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1968)
· GoodFellas (1991)
· The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964)
· Grand Illusion (1937)
· The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

· Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
· Great Expectations (1946)
· Greed (1925)
· Groundhog Day (1993)
· The Hand (1981)
· A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

· The Hearts of Age (1934)
· Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
· Hellboy (2004)
· High Fidelity (2000)
· Hiroshima mon amour (1959)

· Hoop Dreams (1994)
· House of Games (1987)
· The Hustler (1961)

· I [Heart] Huckabees (2004)
· Ikiru (1952)
· In Cold Blood (1967)

· The Incredibles (2004)
· It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
· Jackie Brown (1997)
· Jaws (1975)
· JFK (1991)
· Jules et Jim (1961)
· Juliet of the Spirits (1965)
· Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
· Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)
· Killing Zoe (1994)
· Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
· King Kong (1933)

· Lagaan (2001)
· The Lady Eve (1941)
· The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
· The Last Laugh (1924)
· The Last Picture Show (1971)
· Last Tango in Paris (1972)
· Last Year at Marienbad (1961)

· Late Spring (1972)
· The Lathe of Heaven (1980)
· Laura (1944)
· Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
· The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

· Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
· The Leopard (1963)
· The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
· The Lion King (1994)
· Lolita (1962)

· Lolita (1997)
· Lost Highway (1997)
· M (1931)
· The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
· Mallrats (1995)
· The Maltese Falcon (1941)
· The Man Who Laughs (1928)
· The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
· Manhattan (1979)
· The Matrix (1999)
· The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
· The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
· McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
· Mean Streets (1973)
· Metropolis (1926)
· Mon Oncle (1958)
· Moonstruck (1987)
· Moulin Rouge (2002)
· Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (1953)
· Mulholland Dr. (2001)

· The Music Room (1958)
· My Darling Clementine (1946)
· My Dinner With Andre (1981)

· My Life to Live (1963)
· My Neighbor Totoro (1993)
· Nashville (1975)
· Natural Born Killers (1994)
· Network (1976)
· The Night of the Hunter (1955)
· Nights of Cabiria (1957)
· El Norte (1983)
· Nosferatu (1922)
· Notorious (1946)
· On the Waterfront (1954)
· One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

· Orphée (1949)
· Out of the Past (1947)
· Pandora’s Box (1928)
· Paris, Texas (1984)
· The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
· Paths of Glory (1957)
· Patton (1970)
· Peeping Tom (1960)
· Persona (1966)
· The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

· Pickpocket (1959)
· Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
· Pinocchio (1940)
· Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)

· Pixote (1981)
· Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
· Playtime (1967)
· The Producers (1968)
· The Prophecy (1995)
· Psycho (1960)
· Pulp Fiction (1994)
· Raging Bull (1980)
· Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

· Raise the Red Lantern (1990)
· Ran (1985)
· Rashomon (1950)
· Rear Window (1954)
· Red River (1948)
· The Red Shoes (1948)
· Reservoir Dogs (1992)

· Return to Glennascaul (1951)
· Rififi (1954)
· The Right Stuff (1983)
· Roger & Me (1989)
· Romeo and Juliet (1968)
· Romeo + Juliet (1996)
· The Rules of the Game (1939)

· Le Samouraï (1967)
· Santa Sangre (1989)
· Saturday Night Fever (1977)
· Say Anything (1989)
· Scarface (1983)

· The Scarlet Empress (1934)
· Schindler’s List (1993)
· The Searchers (1956)
· Se7en (1995)
· The Seven Samurai (1954)
· The Seventh Seal (1957)
· Shane (1953)
· Shaun of the Dead (2004)
· The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
· The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
· Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
· Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
· Solaris (1972)
· Some Like It Hot (1959)
· South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999)
· Spider-Man (2002)
· Spider-Man 2 (2004)
· Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
· Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
· Star Trek: The Search for Spock (1984)
· Star Trek: The Voyage Home (1986)
· Star Trek: The Final Frontier (1989)
· Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
· Star Trek: Generations (1994)
· Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
· Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
· Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
· Star Wars (1977)

· The Straight Story (1999)
· The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It (1977)
· The Stranger (1946)
· Strangers on a Train (1951)

· Strictly Ballroom (1992)
· Stroszek (1977)
· A Sunday in the Country (1984)
· Superman (1978)
· Sunrise (1928)
· Sunset Boulevard (1950)
· The Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
· Swing Time (1936)

· A Tale of Winter (1992)
· The Tao of Steve (2000)
· Taxi Driver (1976)
· The Terminator (1984)
· Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

· Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
· The Thin Man (1934)
· The Third Man (1949)
· This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

· The Three Colors Trilogy (1994)
· Three Women (1977)
· Tokyo Story (1953)
· Touch of Evil (1958)
· Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954)
· The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
· The Trial (1962)

· Trouble in Paradise (1932)
· True Romance (1993)
· 12 Angry Men (1957)
· 28 Days Later (2002)
· Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)
· 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
· Ugetsu (1953)

· Umberto D (1952)
· Unforgiven (1992)
· Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election (2002)
· The Up Documentaries (1964-1998 [so far!])
· Vertigo (1958)
· Victim (1961)
· Walkabout (1971)
· West Side Story (1961)
· Where the Buffalo Roam (1980)
· Wild at Heart (1990)
· The Wild Bunch (1969)
· Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

· Wings of Desire (1988)
· The Wizard of Oz (1939)
· Woman in the Dunes (1964)
· A Woman Under the Influence (1974)
· A Woman’s Tale (1992)
· Written on the Wind (1956)
· X-Men (2000)
· X2 (2003)
· xXx (2002)
· Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

· A Year of the Quiet Sun (1984)
· Yellow Submarine (1968)
All told, not a bad listing for me. Only a few of the non-italicized items make me wanna me hang my head in shame, while a couple of the items (like Michael Apted’s 7-Up and onwards documentaries make me wish that some of the items weren’t clumped together). Like Rose and Steven, I’m not very good about passing these things on, but if you wanna play, go right ahead. . .
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      ( 4/07/2005 07:42:00 AM ) Bill S.  

"GO WEST!/LIFE IS PEACEFUL THERE!" – So West Wing capped its season with Jimmy Smits' Matt Santos and John Spenser's Leo as the big Democratic presidential ticket. Hmm, a politico from Texas and a wizened second-in-command with heart problems: where've I seen that before? Despite the producers' attempts at keeping it all suspenseful, it became fairly obvious that Smits would be candidate once stories started circulating that he (along with opponent Alan Alda) had been signed for next season. Still, both Smits and Alda have been fun to watch in their respective roles (Gary Cole's stiff of a veep would've been deadly as the Dem candidate, though Ed O'Neil brought a surprising degree of dignity to his role as possible last-minute spoiler candidate), so I have to state that Aaron Sorkin's baby ain't qutie dead yet.

Don't care a whit about the unresolved Bartlet White House subplot around who-leaked-what to the press about the Astronauts in Trouble (trademark: Larry Young), though. Feels too close to places we've already been (remember when everybody thought Donna Moss had been indiscrete?) But I suppose we needed something to remind viewers that the old administration remains in place – and that there remain plenty of opportunities for Allison Janney's C.J. to continue to struggle 'twixt her idealism and recognition of the realities of the political life. . .
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Wednesday, April 06, 2005
      ( 4/06/2005 09:36:00 AM ) Bill S.  

"NEVER A HELP AND ALWAYS A HINDRANCE!" – With TCM smack dab in the midst of its April Fool's marathon, I recently spent part of my morning watching two shorts by a duo who didn't manage to make the cut: Clark & McCullough.

Another comedy pair who first made their name on Broadway in the 20's and 30's, the two starred in a series of shorts for RKO Pictures. They even shared the same house director (Mark Sandrich) as Wheeler & Woolsey, though to the best of my knowledge the pair never managed to graduate to regular sound features. Would've been interesting to see if the team could've maintained the comic energy that they put in their shorts for the length of an entire film, but, unfortunately, straight man Paul McCullough's suicide in the mid-thirties put an end to the team.

The two shorts on display for me, courtesy of C & McC fan Aaron Neathery (who even has a web page devoted to the twosome), deserve to be discovered by a larger audience, though. "The Iceman's Ball," in particular, is of interest to old movie comedy lovers, featuring as it does Laurel & Hardy nemesis James Finlayson (doing the same patented look-into-the-camera double takes that he developed in L & H shorts), Three Stooges authority figure Vernon Dent and a young lookin' Walter Brennan as cops being bamboozled by the boys. With dialog written by Bobby Clark and Sandrich, the short opens with our heroes being tossed out of the local Iceman's Ball (the only connection that the movie has to its title) – and Dent & Brennan's city cops showing up to haul in Clark & McCullough. Instead, the twosome swipes the police car, take it to the precinct house and convince the desk sergeant there that they’re new hires. In their new uniforms, they tool around in the commandeered cop car, looking for babes to impress. They find one (Shirley Chambers), only she turns out to be Dent's wife. The trio make their way to a swinging party at the Garfinkle Arms, where Clark spends his time making lecherous plays toward every women within eyeshot (including Betty Farrington, its zaftig hostess) and McCullough keeps coming onstage with a fresh cream pie in his hand. "Deep down in your heart, you know somebody's gonna get that pie," Clark notes, and, of course, he's right.

As a comedian, motormouth Clark has a lot of affinities with Groucho Marx. Though where the latter's seediness added just the slightest patina of defensiveness against a world that constantly let him down (you can see this best in the resigned way he frequently relates to his perpetually scheming co-stars), with Clark, you get the sense he's the way he is because he just likes being the way he is. He's an equal opportunity reprobate – as likely to go after the chubby hostess (without, as with Groucho, any ulterior motives) as he is the shapely blond bimbo. Like Marx, he's fond of double-talk wordplay and puns, and, occasionally, he'll speak in calculatedly archaic sentence construction for comic effect. ("Shall I take this money or shall I the not?") And as with Groucho with his moustache in the earliest Marx outings, Clark contains greasepaint on his face – a pair of painted on glasses, in his case, which rise and fall with every eyebrow cock he makes – without any concern for how phony they look on film.

McCullough is the chubbier, more childlike figure: with a shrill voice and a propensity for cackling at his own or his partner's gags. He's a much less dynamic presence than Clark, though the shorts move along so rapidly that you barely notice when he isn't really doing anything more than bringing in another pie. Clearly, Clark wrote himself more good lines than he did McCullough, but I'm not certain that the big guy would've pulled many of 'em off, anyway.

Both of the shorts I viewed provided an enjoyable blend of fast talk and slapstick, though a repeating gag featuring a nattering dispatcher in the police short got old long before the flick's twenty minutes were up. In "Snug in the Jug," the second C & McC, the two are ex-cons who get a job putting up wanted posters. They so plaster the town with 'em that Slug Mullins, the poster boy in question, decides to bump the twosome off. There's another party sequence where Clark is once more given opportunity to leer (and animal growl) at a full-figured babe plus some nonsense around a kidnapped criminologist and a jewelry robbery. Some of the Mullins scenes (most notably a bit where the boys plaster posters in the hallway outside his hideout) reminded me in places of those Three Stooges shorts where the boys run afoul of pugnacious mobsters, though C & McC don't indulge in the same level of extreme physical comedy so inseparable from the Stooges shorts.

There's a nice outlandish moment at the end of "Jug," though, where the boys find themselves in the same jail cell as Mullins. They do an immediate panic take then run toward the bars, which they magically manage to pass through like cartoon figures sprinting into a painted tunnel. They stop to momentarily consider the impossibility of what they've just done, then dash away to safety. The Stooges, you know, would've simply crashed through the prison wall, leaving it a pile of bricks and rubble, then been shown in long shot as they scurried away with their tails between their legs. Clark and McCullough, however, are afforded their own improbable moments of victory: nobody's fall guys, more like comic survivors in Depression Era America – where even a stint in jail meant you were at least guaranteed a roof and a meal. . .
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Tuesday, April 05, 2005
      ( 4/05/2005 03:31:00 PM ) Bill S.  

THE KIM BAUER WALL OF STOOPIDITY – After seeing it repeated in last night's recap, I've decided that the dumbest moment of this season's 24 thus far is the moment when the CTU brain trust decides to place two different tracking devices on their young boy terrorist patsy (one subcutaneously) – on the dubious theory that once the bad guys discover one they'll stop looking for any more. Naturally, the evil terrorists quickly find 'em both with what looks like the spy game version of a stud finder. C'mon, people, can't you keep up with the latest technology?
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Monday, April 04, 2005
      ( 4/04/2005 12:10:00 PM ) Bill S.  

"BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM/GONNA SHOOT YOU RIGHT DOWN" – John Lee Hooker's moanin' on the CD player; it's the start of a bright Spring week; so let's do some bullet-pointing!
  • To a onetime altar boy who left the Catholic Church decades ago, the number of plaudits for a church leader who had less and less to say to me take on the quality of, oh, I don't know – sports talk, maybe. I know that the subject consumes the lives of many men and women, but there are moments I feel perplexed by the way that it can so thoroughly supplant everything else. Just a godless heathen, I guess. In any event, another lapsed Catholic, Roy Edroso, has what seems to me the best take on the late pontiff.

  • Speakin' of March-Madness-Edged-into-April, I work in Champaign-Urbana, IL., and the ol' town's been looking a bit crazy today. Drove past a high school on my way into the office, and saw packs of teenagers wearing U. of I. tee-shirts to class. Way too much bright orange for these eyes on an early Monday morning, I thought. . .

  • Captain Spaulding is staying on top of this month's April Fools fest of movie comedies broadcast on Turner Classic Movies (every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in April). Spent some time this weekend checking out the flicks I want to sample (wish the net made their festival schedules more immediately scannable), and after my first run-through I've managed to mark down April 11 (Buster Keaton), the morning of April 15 (Abbot & Costello wannabes Brown & Carney), the morning of April 18 (Eddie Cantor), April 22 a.m. (a slew of Wheeler & Woolsey) plus the morning of April 29 (Marie Dressler & Polly Duran, who later played the married forewoman in Adam's Rib). Early morning seems to be the time when TCM is featuring its less well remembered movie comedians, though many of these entries are the ones I'm personally most interested in viewing. No matter how much I continue to love Laurel & Hardy or the Marxes (and I do) – and enjoy re-watching their movies, catching more obscure comedians at their peak can be provide plenty of pleasure. And if it's a choice between viewing one of Dressler & Duran's better comedies over a skippable piece of Marxiana like The Big Store, then I'm goin' with the ladies. . .

  • Back in the 70's, when yours truly was a scraggly-haired grad student, I had housemates who were heavily attached to Telly Savalas' Kojak. We may've been a bunch of freaks, but we still loved toughguy cop shows – Koj, Ironsides, et al – in part out of campy appreciation for these reactionary icons, but mainly because onscreen hard-assedness can be fun in ways that real-life exemplars of it aren't. (Once underwent a police interview conducted by an investigator who did not hide his scorn for the squishy social service counselor type that I repped – and it was not a pleasant experience.) I wasn't a big fan of Kojak, but I couldn't help knowing it. Truth be told, I was more of a Baretta fan.

    Watched the first two eps of U.S.A.'s updating of the show over the weekend, though: Ving Rhames has the requisite toughness for the role, but I miss Savalas' barking delivery. (You really notice it when Rhames calls out for "Crocker!") The new Theo Kojak is the son of an old jazz man (we get to see Rhames listening to platters of his old man's outfit in the two-hour premiere movie) and a considerably snappier dresser than his forbearer. But he still does repeated bits of bizness with that lollipop, which is featured with heavy-handed literalness in the show's opening credits.

    As cop shows go, the series is calculatedly retro in its approach: maverick, rule-bending cop gets the job done, often by going off on his own instead of relying on his peers. In last night's episode, for instance, our hero walked into a hostage situation before the negotiators even arrive because, well, because he's Kojak, that's why! With so many modern day procedurals emphasizing the team approach to police work, I'm guessing there's still an audience for this kinda overly familiar gerne piece. Bet my old housemates would've loved it. . .

  • Personal distractions have kept me from hitherto mentioning a comic project I shamefacedly admit to anticipating – if only because it sounds so goofy: UK comics publishers AP Comics' upcoming series of Mr. T Comics. I have no familiarity with the work of either scriptwriter Richard Brunton or artist Neil Edwards (very steroidal, but how could it not be?) but I'm still attracted to the idea of a comic series about Mister T – and not just out of campy appreciation for this reactionary icon either. . .

  • As for aforementioned the p.d.s, I will briefly note that we're near to finishing work on our house next door – and indicate that selling trades on Amazon netted me more quick money than selling via auction on eBay. For those of you interested in the deeper personal existential crisis stuff, I've added a link on the right to my personal blog.
So much for that. More later.

(Background Music for This Round of Bullet Pointing: Rhino's The Very Best of John Lee Hooker, "Big Legs, Tight Skirt" indeed!)
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Friday, April 01, 2005
      ( 4/01/2005 11:51:00 AM ) Bill S.  

STILL WINGIN' IT – With just one more episode of The West Wing scheduled for this season, now's a good time to do a check-in on this once mighty teledrama. Amidst stories about the show’s ratings slippage, Wing's producers have brought in a whole slew of familiar teevee faces to prop up a new presidential election plotline. Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits are the biggest new headliners, but also within the new ensemble are such stalwarts as Patricia Richardson and Steven Root. The show, in prepping for a changing of the guard that sure feels at least a year too soon by its own established timeline, has obviously been looking 'round with an eye toward actors who could fill the cast once a new administration steps into the office vacated by the Bartlet presidency.

With so much focus on the politics of presidential electioneering, many of the series' long-standing regulars unfortunately have been left in the dust, though. Smart move to get Brad Whitford's Josh and Janel Moloney's Donna on competing Democratic campaigns, even if it seriously toppled the enjoyable sexual dynamic that existed between the two. But Richard Schiff's Toby has been given precious little to in his new role as Press Secretary, while I still don't buy Allison Janney's CJ in her new role as John Spenser's replacement: her character remains too damn earnest to be effective as Chief of Staff. I also seriously miss the little-seen First Lady, but that's mainly because I continue to have a serious thing for Stockard Channing.

I've enjoyed the campaign strategizing storylines, even if they don't have the Big Stakes intensity of, say, the Bartlet Administration struggling with Qumari terrorism. With Wing, the real pleasures are outside the characters' politics and within the ways that working in this high-pressure world impacts on these characters' lives. When Smits' Matt Santos had to consider putting up his house mortgage just raise the funds to continue staying in the presidential race, though, it was one of those moments that reminded you of just how personally and financially risky the political life can be. Watching that ep, I frankly wasn't sure which step Santos should take.

The producers are keeping tight-lipped about who wins the White House for next season, which is probably wise. At this point, the Republican candidacy has been sealed, and the season finish'll be primarily focusing on the Dems, as Bartlet and his staff struggle to stave off a too chaotic seeming convention. I've got no strong leanings toward either of the highest profile candidates, Alda/Arnold Vinick or Smits/Santos, though it'd probably provided a bigger series shake-up if Alda's moderate Republican took the White House from the Democrats and started to reshape it to his agenda. Think all dem "Hollywood Liberal" writers could actually manage it without seriously squishifying the character over the length of a season?
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      ( 4/01/2005 06:47:00 AM ) Bill S.  

"I'M JUST HOO-HOOKED ON BOOKS" – A short book meme that was sent my way courtesy of Tom the Dog (who put icing on the cake by saying nice things about me):
  • You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
    Given my increasingly swiss-cheesed memory, my first impulse is to go Where the Wild Things Are. But, seriously, for me, this would be a book that was a world you wanted to inhabit: perhaps something comic like P.G. Wodehouse's Code of the Woosters or science-fantasy like Michael Moorcock's The Final Programme and/or Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash.

  • Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
    Aside from ones I've had a hand in creating, I'd say Wren Douglas, the plus-sized model and "most beautiful fat woman in the world" from Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City" novel, Significant Others.

  • The last book you bought is:
    A remaindered copy of Tom deHaven's Dugan Under Ground.

  • The last book you read:
    Not counting graphic novels (most recent of which'd be The Legend of Wild Man Fischer), William Safire, Language Maven Strikes Again

  • What are you currently reading?
    Michael Moorcock's The Dream Thief's Daughter
    Stephen King's Hearts In Atlantis

  • Five books you would take to a deserted island:
    I'd first go with big, thick books that were dense enough for multiple rereads:
    Charles Dickens, Bleak House
    Matthew Lewis, The Monk
    Michael Moorcock, Cornelius Chronicles
    Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
    And then:
    Walt Kelly, Ten Everlovin' Blue-eyed Years With Pogo (for the most Pogo in one volume).
  • Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
    Because I'm late on this 'un, a lot of folks I'd sent it to have already picked it up – so I'm just passing it to whoever takes it. . .
Second time I've mentioned Code of the Woosters in less than a week; I’ve gotta re-read that little gem. . .
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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:

A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page

Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine


Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery


Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett


Michael's Movie Palace

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag


News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

Peter David

Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Marc Bernardin

Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby


The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter

A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.

My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Roy Edroso


Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman


Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends

Blogcritics: news and reviews
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