Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Jonesing for Walking Dead?

If you've got withdrawal symptoms for The Walking Dead, maybe this short film will help:

It was a finalist in Tropfest Australia 2013, "the world's largest short film festival." Great job!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Calvin & Hobbes... the movie

Would you watch a dark, gritty reboot of Calvin & Hobbes?

Hell yes!

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Walking Dead - Welcome to the Tombs

So, Season 3 is in the books.

After all this build-up I really wanted a satisfying end (particularly Zombie Milton eating The Governor), but instead got an ending similar to Star Wars as The Gov goes spinning off in his TIE fighter to who knows where, with his last two surviving goons (Martinez and Bowman) along for the ride. (Why the hell would they get into the truck after all that, or not shoot him at the first opportunity?)

The whole fight was kind of a let-down, actually. They'd been stringing us along all season with skirmishes and negotiating ploys, but I kept thinking -- it'll all pay off with that last episode. The battle started out well -- I liked the tension of searching the prison while not being sure if Rick's crew was there or not (I was thinking they'd run off to Woodbury for a showdown with Tyreese, which didn't happen until later), and then... ambush!

Usually when someone takes his helmet off after an ambush and says something like, "We won! They're retreating!", he gets shot in the head. But this time, they really were retreating. The show had laid the groundwork -- while Rick and company were roughing it in the woods, learning how to fight like a team, the Woodburians were watching gladiator fights and picking off walkers from behind their huge walls. When the actual shit started going down, it made sense that they panicked and fled. But still, it was over way too quickly for me -- after all this build-up I needed more action. It didn't even look like any of them got killed! I can't blame the Governor for being annoyed and shooting the cowards after that despicable showing.

Also... I know I'm not alone in thinking Carl did the right thing in shooting the "boy" in the woods. Look, we all know this trick from movies -- when someone says "drop your gun!" and you step closer as if you're going to hand it over instead of dropping it, it's a trick.

Way to go, Carl! Besides, did we really want Season 4 to have another Randall?

So we lose Andrea, who, let's face it, was probably irredeemable after this season. She doesn't even get the benefit of a redemptive death, though she does get a chance to explain why she was being so annoying, naive, and two-faced. "I just wanted everyone to live" -- yeah, good luck with that, on a show called The Walking Dead.

Adios, Andrea. I still love you in the comics.

And the ending... all the people from Woodbury who couldn't go on the raid, basically little kids and old people, are taken in by Team Prison. I guess this is supposed to show how Rick -- who has turned down every wanderer he's come across this season -- is becoming a nice guy again. OK. But instead of taking in the Woodbury huddled masses, why not simply take over Woodbury? I guess you could argue the prison is more defensible, although the gates keep getting knocked down, and there's a whole wall down where Tyreese came in. Woodbury has those nice big walls. On the other hand, it took a fairly large number of people to patrol those walls, and most of those people are dead now. Ah well.

Overall, I thought it was a good season -- the first half was very good, but it got bogged down in the second half except for Clear. The second half felt like they were padding -- we have to get to 16 episodes, what else can we do? -- and that led to a lot of frustrating dead ends. I don't have a problem with dead ends, but I do have a problem when we KNOW they are dead ends. We knew the negotiations weren't going to go anywhere. We knew Andrea wasn't going to kill the governor. We knew Rick wasn't going to fall in love all over again with Ghost Lori.

I know it's a problem if you have a 16-episode run and only 12 episodes worth of stories to tell. It's such a heavily serialized show that you feel every week you have to advance the ball. If I was on Scott Gimple's writing team (have your people call my people), I'd suggest avoiding so many dead ends by working in more stand-alone episodes like "Clear". Wouldn't it have been cool to have an episode that was maybe 10 or 15 minutes of life in the prison, and the rest about the hitchhiker, or the Spanish-speaking family, or whoever? And then an episode or two later they pop up again, and you think they'll become part of the story... but no, they're just passing through. Or maybe have some people who don't even pop up again. There's endless potential. Explore the world of Walking Dead, instead of just this one group in the prison.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Walking Dead: This Sorrowful Life

A couple weeks ago I wrote about how I was optimistic about next season because the writer of "Clear" -- the best episode since the pilot -- was going to be taking over as the showrunner. Alas, Scott Gimple also wrote this episode, which was yet another example of the uneven writing that has plagued this series since the beginning.

The problem is we all knew that Rick was not going to turn Michonne over to the Governor. It's been a long time since Rick was paralyzed with indecision over what would be the just thing to do with Randall, the young prisoner they had on the Farm. Remember those days? Rick refused to leave Randall stuck on the spiked fence. Then he refused to abandon him in the overrun factory yard. Then he refused to execute him. And yet all this time he also refused to consider allowing him to join the group.

I get that Rick is a much harder man now. He wouldn't stop for the hitchhiker (twice) -- only pausing long enough to pick up his backpack after he gets eaten. He's also the guy who won't allow Tyreese and his crew to stay in the prison.

So he's not going to help strangers. I get that. But is he now the type of person who is going to hand over a member of the group, albeit a relatively new one, who he knows is going to be tortured, maimed, and killed?

Hey, if they were seriously going to take this show in that direction -- if they were going to make Rick a cold and cruel pragmatist with no thought about sacrificing others to protect himself -- then fine, let's go that way.

But no, of course not. It's just another excuse to navel gaze for 20 minutes as Rick ponders what to do. If this was written better, or maybe acted better, maybe it would be compelling drama, watching Rick agonize with his decision. Instead, it's just dull as we watch Rick inevitably come to the decision we knew he'd make all along.

But oh! There's a twist. Because while Rick is hemming and hawing, someone else comes along and makes the decision for him. Wait, that's not a twist? That's right -- they've done it before, with Shane. Shane was the one in Season 2 who ultimately decides what to do with Randall. (He's also the one who decides to take out the walkers in Hershel's barn.) They've also done it in Season 3, with The Governor taking aggressive actions against the Prison while Rick mopes.

Rick is the Hamlet of Walking Dead, thinking, plotting, agonizing, while others run around actually doing stuff.

I'll give him the line of the night: "I'm not your governor." But it was amusing how he delivers a big speech about how it's no longer a Ricktatorship and they will have to decide together what to do... then he walks away without listening to what they had to say!

I also don't quite get Merle's logic -- OK, not that he has any -- in carrying out Rick's wishes by delivering Michonne, when Merle is the one who has been saying all along that it won't make any difference to The Gov, who intends on wiping them all out no matter what they do.

But once we finally get away from the prison, it's not a bad episode. Michonne was cool, maybe a little too cool, going along with Merle and really not making any effort at all to escape. Nice line though, about how she's not going to leave until she has her sword back. I loved Merle pretending to give the zombie a drink of whisky and then cackling. And bringing all those walkers into the compound and then ambushing the Governor's ambush was pretty cool.

It was very symbolic that Glenn rips off two fingers to get a wedding ring from a zombie, and then later, The Gov bites off two of Merle's fingers. It was symbolic of... uh... fingers, I guess? I dunno.

Daryl killing Walker Merle was the second time someone has had to put down a sibling... Andrea killed her zombiefid sister Amy way back in Season 1. I'm guessing they had Walker Merle moving slowly not because he recognized Daryl, but because they just wanted to linger on the scene. I don't think there was supposed to be any "recognition" of Daryl or anything like that.

So pour out a shot of Wild Turkey for ol' Merle and let's bring on the season finale next week!

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Walking Dead: Prey

I didn't hate this episode as much as some people did, but it did have some glaring flaws.

I especially like the one-eyed governor spotting Andrea in a field as he whizzes by. He's got good peripheral vision out of that patch. I think he should probably keep his one eye on the road while he's driving, don't you?

The flashback between Michonne and Andrea had the potential to be interesting, but it was just the same ol' same ol'... people asking Michonne direct questions and her just glaring instead of answering.

The extended cat-and-mouse scene in the old building -- what I presume was a factory that made improvised weapons for serial killers in slasher movies -- went on far too long, but had a nice payoff of Andrea unleashing the zombie staircase horde on the Governor. (What do you think those people were doing before they turned -- fire drill? Smoke break in the stairwell?) When she walked out, leaving the Governor to swing his Vorpal Shovel at the zombies, why didn't she just take his car? If he didn't leave the keys, at least slash the tires. Sheesh.

And what about Milton? He says he knew Phillip before he became the Governor. Does that he mean he knew him pre-Apocalypse, or just pre-Woodbury? Maybe they're brothers? He obviously wants Andrea to stop him, but then doesn't let her shoot him. And it goes both ways -- the Governor obviously thinks Milton burned up the walkers. but doesn't do anything about it. Hmm.

I'll go ahead and predict that Milton becomes zombie'fied and then eats the Governor. So many people "deserve" the chance to kill him -- Rick, Michonne, Glenn, Maggie, Merle, and of course Andrea -- that I think they'll go another way and give it to Milton. And it's almost inevitable that the bad guy who sees the light gets to die a redemptive death. Anyway, that's my prediction.

Line of the night goes to Rick:


As he's looking across the field with his binoculars and thinks he sees something, but... is that Andrea? The ghost of Lori? A zombie? Ah, fuck it. Note to Team Prison: The guy who is seeing hallucinations probably isn't a good choice for a look-out.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Thoughts on Brennan Boesch

I know this move is getting mocked in some circles -- O how the mighty have fallen! The Yankees are picking up other team's rejects. The Yankees are scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Whatever. Signing Boesch is a good gamble -- low risk, medium reward.

Boesch is still relatively young (he turns 28 on April 12) and at $1.5 million, relatively cheap. More importantly, he's finally the left-handed power bat the Yankees have needed as a stop-gap until Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira come off the D.L. in May. (Supposedly... I know Granderson will be back, but I think Teixeira's time table might be optimistic.) With so many right-handed outfielders in camp -- Juan Rivera, Matt Diaz, Melky Mesa, Ronnier Mustelier, Thomas Neal, Ben Francisco -- they desperately needed a lefty. With so many singles hitters in the lineup -- Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, and whoever is playing catcher -- they needed a power bat.

Boesch has had a strange career. He came up in April 2010, and after a 6-for-23 start, he flat-out raked -- .345/.378/.595 in May, .337/.400/.625 OPS in June. Then he completely fell apart -- .564 OPS in July, .531 OPS in August, .489 OPS in September. The obvious story is that pitchers adjusted to him, and he didn't adjust back. Or maybe it was his ridiculous .390 BAbip in May and June, which faded to .253 in July, .231 in August and .224 in September.

In 2011, he had one incredible month (.380/.437/.620 in June), again thanks to an unsustainable .422 BAbip. He had a good April (.319/.390/.451, .359 BAbip) and a mediocre July (.267/.305/.478, .279 BAbip), but was awful in May (.551 OPS) and August (.621 OPS), then missed all of September with a thumb injury.

Last year was a complete disaster, hitting .240/.286/.372. He had just one good month, July (.295/.329/.538, .328 BAbip), but the rest of the year he was putrid -- take out July and his numbers fall all the way to .230/.278/.339. His troubles were mostly due to his completely losing the strike zone, seeing his walk rate drop from a league-average 8% in '10 and '11 to an unacceptable 5% in 2012; he also saw his BB:K ratio fall from a mediocre .41 in '10-'11 to an awful .25 (26 BB, 104 K) last year. But Ks come with being a power hitter. The real problem is Boesch, when he struggles, hits a ton of ground outs. Last year, half of Boesch's balls in play were on the ground, with just 16 percent line drives and 34 percent in the air. That's unacceptable for a power hitter, and hopefully something Kevin Long can straighten out.

So, Boesch is the proverbial girl with the curl. When he was good, he was very good, but when he was bad he was horrid. The good Boesch -- the guy from those two months in '10, three months in '11, and one month in '12 -- is a Hall of Famer (.326/.378/.555 in 555 AB). The bad Boesch -- the rest of his career -- should be working at Sears (.213/.272/.317 in 807 AB).

Which Boesch is he? His minor league track record says we shouldn't bet on Cooperstown. Detroit's 3rd round pick out of UC-Berkeley in 2006, Boesch hit .291/.344/.435 as a 21-year-old in low A, but the next year slumped to .267/.297/.378 in A-ball. In '08 he moved up half a level to the Florida State League, and struggled again, hitting .249/.310/.379. The Tigers promoted him to Double-A in '09 anyway, and he showed a little life, hitting .275/.318/.510. They moved him up to Triple-A the next year and he went nuts, hitting .379/.455/.621 in 15 games, punching his ticket to the show, and he stayed on fire for the next two months. Outside of those hot three weeks in Triple-A, there's no sign he's a diamond in the rough.

But still... when Boesch is hot, he's really hot. We only need him for two months. Why not roll the dice? If he can be the good Boesch for those eight weeks, we've got an unbelievable bargain. If he's the bad Boesch for those eight weeks, well, we'll all be overjoyed to see Granderson again.

One more thing. Boesch's career numbers at Yankee Stadium, while in just 32 plate appearances, are encouraging: .367/.375/.533. Sure, it's a small sample size, but it's something. I just wish his career numbers against the Red Sox weren't so embarrassing (.181/.198/.301).

By the way... one of Boesch's pluses is that he is left-handed, so he can face righties while Rivera, Diaz, Francisco or whichever right-handed outfielder makes the team can hammer lefties. But wait a minute -- Boesch's career numbers vs righties (.250/.305/.412) are actually worse than his career numbers vs lefties (.286/.348/.420). Is he a reverse platoon player?

It looks like a fluke to me. Boesch's numbers vs lefties came in just 336 ABs, and are inflated by his ridiculous .337/.403/.548 in 104 ABs against them in 2010. Boesch put up a .421 BAbip against lefties that year. The next year, his numbers against lefties fell to .302/.356/.396 in 106 AB -- again, with an unsustainable .365 BAbip. Last year, they fell again to .230/.292/.333 in 126 AB, still with a lucky .314 BAbip. Overall, Boesch's career BAbip against lefties is an unrealistic .364, while it's a normal .278 against righties. In short, his numbers against lefties are a mirage. Play him against righties and hope for the best.

Finally... what will be his John Sterling home run call? I predict "It's a bash from Boesch!"

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Walking Dead: Arrow on the Doorpost

After last week's great episode, The Walking Dead returned to another blah-blah-blah fest. Lots of people talking but not actually doing anything.

I don't get The Governor's whole negotiating strategy -- or why Rick bothered to sit down to negotiate with him at all. People on this show seem to have a lot of short-term memory problems. Like when The Governor brings up that "we could have killed you all" when they attacked the prison a few weeks ago. Rick could have pointed out that a) the half-assed attack resulted in one dead on either side, and was at best a draw; and b) when Rick and Co. launched their attack on Woodbury, it resulted in several Woodburians getting killed (and alas, poor Oscar), including The Governor's own zombie daughter. Not to mention his eye.

You'd think Rick would bring this up, but no, he just likes to glare. I would have loved it if instead he had just pulled a Malcolm Reynolds and shot The Governor as soon as he hung up his gun.
Andrea continues to be the most annoying person on the show, but everyone else isn't helping. You'd think when she explicitly asks what The Governor did to Maggie, Hershel might tell her. But no, let's just let it lie. Because otherwise it would make it too painfully obvious that Andrea is backing the wrong team, and we have to leave her "conflicted" for another few episodes... even if we all know no sane person would be conflicted in her position.

Line of the week goes to Glenn, who can't get it on with Maggie while the walkers are watching. So romantic! Also, props for having people on guard duty fuck around, literally, and nothing bad comes of it... so far. Probably the first time in television history that a distracted guard didn't result in an immediate attack.

Dumb line of the night goes to Milton, who says he wants to see Hershel's stump because it's important to know how high above the bite the leg was amputated. Um... how are you supposed to figure out where the bite was by looking at his stump? Do you think he carries around the amputated leg in his pocket? I thought Milton was the smart one.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Walking Dead: Clear

The best episode since the pilot is, I hope, a preview of what next season will be like. The writer of this week's episode, Scott M. Gimple, is taking over as showrunner next season.

I know... who the hell is Scott M. Gimple? His middle name is Milhouse. He's from New Jersey. He's written five episodes, including "Save the Last One" (where Shane shoots Otis) and "Pretty Much Dead Already" (where they kill all the walkers in the barn, and find Sophia). Those are two really good episodes, and along with this one, I'm really encouraged about next season.

If you hate Gimple's writing, well... just give it a little while. Walking Dead showrunners have about as long a lifespan as hitchhikers on this show.

I felt bad for the hitchhiker, and of course we all would like to think that of course we'd stop for the poor guy. There's an empty seat in the back, after all. But if there's one thing Rick has learned, it's not to be nice to strangers. As I pointed out last week, if you're a latecomer to Rick's crew, you're better off finding the Governor. Rick isn't going to let you join.

But if you think about it, how many times has Rick survived because strangers took him in? Morgan... Jenner... Hershel. What ever happened to "pay it forward"?

The highlight of the episode was Lennie James as Morgan. The guy is just electrifying on screen. You really felt his horror and anguish as a man damned to live in Hell on Earth. Of course I wanted Rick to bring Morgan back to the prison, even though that means (given the show's strict "one black man at a time" policy) that Tyreese would be permanently on Team Woodbury. But you knew Morgan wasn't going to go. He survives while everyone he cares about dies around him, not because he's brave but because he's weak.

Does anyone else feel the last three seasons would have been awesome if it was about Morgan and Duane? Season 1 ends with Morgan, realizing he and Duane are in over their hands, finally turning on the walkie-talkie. Season 2 ends with Duane getting eaten by his mother. And Season 3 ends with Rick's return.

Not in this universe.

In the real Walking Dead, Michonne finally emerges as they give her something to do other than glower. She even gets the line of the night:
Rick: We're eating his food now?
Michonne: The mat said welcome...
When Carl gets annoyed and stomps off by himself, she does the smart thing and follows him at a distance -- letting him know she's there but not crowding him for space. Close enough to keep an eye on him but not so close that he runs away. Wow, she's already a better mom than Lori "Where's Carl?!" Grimes.

There were a few stupid moments in this episode, though. I get that Michonne is a bad-ass, but now she can teleport? She bamfs up to the roof to go after Morgan, and then bamfs into the restaurant to get the picture (and the weird cat sculpture). Pretty impressive.

I also liked when Carl is told to stay outside the restaurant, so he stands with his back to the doors (with windows) as a horde of zombies inside pounds away. That sounds like a smart idea.

But this was by far the best since the pilot. I'm looking forward to more of Gimple's work.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Walking Dead: I Ain't No Judas

I don't have much to say about this episode, another one where it felt like the writers were stalling for time.

What happened to last week's big finale of dumping walkers into the prison? I didn't think a yard full of zombie was as big a problem as they were making it out to be last week, but I thought it would be at least a little bit of a problem. Rick, Daryl, and Merle getting back into the prison wouldn't be much of a challenge... but why not show it?

I actually think leaving the yard full of walkers is a good idea -- use the walkers as a defense. If nothing else, the Woodbury people (Woodburians?) will have to shoot at the zombies first.

We did get some nice scenes of Andrea and Milton -- aka Smithers (thanks Scott Adsit) making a pet zombie. But other than that, and Tyreese and crew making their way to Woodbury, nothing happened in this episode. Andrea is completely clueless and just runs around lecturing people. Michonne actually had some speaking lines for once, but came off as whiny and petty.

Merle had the line of the night, when he told Michonne he was "just following orders" when he tried to kill her.
Michonne: "Like the Gestapo?"
Merle: (brightly) "Yeah!"
Let's look at the big picture. The Woodburians are gearing up for war. They have more people. They have lots of powerful guns, thanks to killing those soldiers (and Rick's bag o' guns, which he took from Andrea). They have a strong, ruthless, and wacky leader. They have a competent #2 in Martinez, although he didn't exactly impress us with his marksmanship last week, and he seems like a bit of a hothead.

Meanwhile, Rick's merry band is confused, disorganized, and disheartened. They have much fewer people and they're low on ammunition. On the plus side, they're a lot more competent when it comes to killing -- quality, not quantity. Rick, Daryl, Merle, and Michonne are the best fighters on the field. (And when Hershel proved to be a crack shot when he finally picked up a gun during the last stand on the farm.) They also have a fortified position, but as Merle pointed out, the Governor could simply surround the prison and starve them out.

Then we have the wildcards of Andrea and Tyreese. What will they do in an all-out war against the prison? Will they side with the Governor, or with Rick?

Andrea is a mystery. The writers clearly don't know what to do with her. We've seen too much of The Governor's evil side -- and she has, too -- to simply write it off as her not knowing he's a monster.

I can understand her desire to broker a truce between the two sides. But if she's convinced The Governor is evil, why return to Woodbury? If she's not convinced, then why hover over him with a knife? I just don't get how we're supposed to read her.

Meanwhile, Rick's decision to freak out and boot Tyreese and his people went from being a dumb decision to a catastrophe when they showed up at Woodbury. The Governor knows not to kick people out when you're gearing up for war... especially people who have inside information about your opponent. 

Which makes me think -- who would you rather follow, Rick or The Governor? They're both crazy now, so put that aside.

Yeah, The Governor is a ruthless prick who wouldn't think twice about feeding you to the zombies... but Rick has done the same thing, either directly (Andrew) or indirectly (Tyreese's group). Let's face it, if you weren't around in Season 2, Rick isn't going to be your buddy. Judging from the Tyreese experience, if you were wandering the post-apocalyptic world, you'd be better off coming across The Governor instead of Rick.

But neither one is a great choice. I wonder if that Hispanic family would let me sit in the back.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bring back Alfonso Soriano?

Within minutes of getting the X-rays back, the buzz started that the Yankees would trade for Alfonso Soriano to be their new starting left fielder.

No, they will not.

Alfonso Soriano is making $18 million in 2013... and $18 million in 2014. Plus a $1 million bonus for each year.

If the Yankees were willing to pick up $38 million in salary, don't you think they could do better than Alfonso Soriano?

Soriano has a no-trade clause. Presumably he'd want some kind of compensation (as if $38 million isn't enough) for waiving it. After all, once Granderson gets back -- in just 10 weeks, remember -- Soriano will be reduced to a platoon role.

Speaking of which, Soriano is a right-handed hitter... which is all the Yankees have when it comes to in-house replacements: veterans Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz, already in camp; Melky Mesa and Zoilo Almonte, up-and-coming prospects; and Thomas Neal and Ronnier Mustelier, a couple of wildcards. All six are right-handed outfielders. They don't need another one.

Where do these rumors come from?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Walking Dead: Home

So, Walking Dead.

Eh. Again, lots of blah blah blah in the prison. Glenn is apparently the new boss, but I'm not quite sure who he is the boss of, since it doesn't appear that anyone is listening to him, or doing anything really. We see Glenn trying to figure out how to defend the prison with, I kid you not, Beth and Carl. That's the A-Team right now.

Andrea is off in Woodbury playing Vice Governor. Daryl is back to hunting squirrels with big brother Merle. Dale, Shane, and T-Dog are dead.

The only chance for replacements, Tyreese and his friends, are gone. There was a terrific scene as they grimly walked away with the prison behind them, Tyreese casting one last look over his shoulder... no, wait, that didn't happen, they just weren't in this episode. I guess they left after Rick freaked out last week... and who could blame them?

So who's left?
  • Rick, wandering around looking for Lori's ghost;
  • Michonne, standing outside glaring at weeds;
  • Hershel, who somehow got passed over as Vice Rick but seems to have settled into the consigliere role, though most of his advice seems to consist of saying, "are you sure you want to do that?" and then staring mournfully as that is indeed what they do;
  • Maggie, hiding in her bunk;
  • Carol, who is growing her hair out;
  • and Axel, who suddenly has lines this week. (Ut-oh...)
What I'm bitching about this week:
Where'd they go?... Where'd WHO go? Daryl and Merle are off in the woods playing redneck when they hear a baby crying. Which is kind of strange because the baby's crying during a zombie attack and the people are defending themselves by shooting guns. But again, they don't hear the gunshots... they hear the baby crying. All right. Daryl and Merle -- well, mostly Daryl -- helps kill off the zombies. Then, without so much as a vaya con dios, the two groups go their separate ways again. You know, if I lived in a post-apocalyptic zombie world and came across another group of survivors, I might want to ask a few questions, like... where did you come from? Where are you going? Why is your baby so freakishly loud? Nope.

What's on Daryl's back? Merle and Daryl have to argue about whether or not they should have robbed the other group, because you can't do anything on this show without getting into an argument about it. In the course of the argument Merle rips off Daryl's shirt to expose the big tattoos on his back. Actually, no, you weren't supposed to notice the huge tattoos, but rather the scars on his back, which Merle immediately recognizes as coming from getting beaten as a child, even though he'd apparently never seen them before. (I guess they didn't share a bedroom growing up?) I'm not sure what the tattoos are supposed to be -- they appear to be winged men of some sort. Angels? Demons? Hawkmen? I dunno.

The last 10 minutes... The first 50 minutes seemed like nothing was happening, but then those last 10 minutes -- woo! Guns! Swords! Zombies! The last 10 minutes were lots of fun. But also a little confusing. What exactly was the Governor's plan? You'd think if it was a full-out assault on the prison he'd bring more than a couple guys, but whatever... maybe this is just a scouting mission. Except it is a full-out assault! They even get a guy into one of the prison guard towers (how'd that happen?) and flank out Martinez to pin down the survivors. Victory! All they need to do is pick them off one by one and... er, well, not exactly. Because other than the guy who shot poor Axel, it appears that everyone on this show went to the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy. In fact, a couple times The Governor just stands there firing his assault rifle into the air with a big grin on his face. What exactly are they doing? Then the Governor hears a truck coming, and, oh boy, here it comes! It's not an attack... it's a diversion! The big ol' truck crashes through the gates and dumps out a load of zombies. The driver jumps out of the truck in body armor and a motorcycle helmet with a tinted face shield, firing a pistol and running to... I'm not sure, they never show her again. (Yes, I said her, because it looked like a woman's body and also, when people on TV shows wear motorcycle helmets with tinted face shields, they always turn out to be women.) Ah, so that's the real attack -- send in the zombies while you remain outside and pick them off one by one and... nope, that's not it either. They unload the zombies and leave. Let's call it a day, fellas!

So I guess the plan is use the zombies to wipe out Rick's group, but that doesn't seem like a brilliant plan either -- the Governor knows these same people killed probably 10 times that many zombies in order to take over the prison in the first place. Hell, Michonne killed a half-dozen in about three seconds before the Governor even left. Even if there are, what, 20 zombies wandering around the yard, it's not like that's an insurmountable problem.

But I'm sure they'll spend a lot of time talking about it.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Walking Dead is back!

How many eyes rolled in last night's "Season 3.5" premiere of The Walking Dead, "The Suicide King"?

I don't mean how many eyes popped out and rolled across the ground, although that would be fun to see. No, I mean how many times did something happen that made you roll your eyes. I really like this show, but it drives me crazy sometimes.

Last night's eye roll count, for me, was four. Spoilers ahead, of course.

1) Glenn replacing Lori as the "how dare you do exactly what I just told you to do" person in the group. He tells Rick that under no circumstances can Merle be allowed to return to the prison. Daryl says if Merle can't go, he's leaving too. Rick tries to convince Daryl to stay, but Daryl isn't having it. In the very next scene, Glenn is screaming at Rick... for letting Daryl leave. What?

2) Maggie not telling Glenn that she actually wasn't raped. Glenn obviously thinks she was -- why wouldn't she say she wasn't? I can understand a woman not wanting to tell her boyfriend that she was raped... but in this case she wasn't. The bad guy wanted to make her boyfriend think that she was. Why wouldn't she say she wasn't? Because he wouldn't believe her? OK, but... why wouldn't you try? This show has a long history of characters talking endlessly but not actually saying what needs to be said (paging Michonne...), and it really gets annoying.

3) Andrea staying with the Governor even after figuring out that he's evil and her friends are still alive. Granted, she doesn't know where her friends are. But you would think she would start making plans to leave, not stand around making speeches endorsing the Governor.
4) Rick freaking out at the new people even as he surely realizes that they need all the extra hands they can get. I especially love when the others bring up the fact that Oscar proved to be a worthwhile ally, Rick retorts: "Where's Oscar now?" He died fighting for you, dumb ass! Don't blame the Ghost of Lori, either -- he was saying no before she showed up. Speaking of which, I know a lot of people are annoyed with Rick's "I see dead people" moment, but I'm withholding judgment on that for another week. Could be interesting to see him go totally bonkers.

Again, I really like this show, but I hope they're not sliding back toward the Season 2 morass.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Trouble, trouble

Since my eldest daughter has evolved from princess songs to pop songs, I have to hear this song a lot:

Every time I hear it though, I think about this commercial:

Which is a much better song anyway.

In case you're wondering, it's called "Trouble" by Ray LaMontagne. It might sound like it's from some old Mississippi bluesman in the 1930s, but he's from Maine and it was released in 2004.

Great song and I love his voice... so much raw emotion and angst. He really sounds like he's in trouble.

I hope he adopts that little dog and they make each other happy.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

With malice toward none

Well, we finally got around to seeing Lincoln.

I know it will win a buttload of Oscars, but... am I allowed to say I was a little bored? Was I not supposed to know that (spoiler alert!) Lincoln freed the slaves?

So if you're like me and you get bored with the actual story, you'll spend a lot of time trying to recognize all the famous actors playing people you sort of remember from American History II. Here's a chart.

“Hey, that’s…”
Abraham Lincoln
Daniel Day-Lewis
…the guy who is in every movie set in 19th century America.
Mary Todd Lincoln
Sally Field
William Seward
David Strathairn
…the guy from Good Night, and Good Luck, but let’s face it, you only know him from the Bourne movies.
Robert Lincoln
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
…the kid from Third Rock, but he’d much rather be thought of as the guy from Looper
W.N. Bilbo
James Spader
…the guy who really hopes he’s not remembered as Robert California from The Office.
Preston Blair
Hal Holbrook
…not the guy from Barney Miller. That’s Hal Linden.
Robert Latham
John Hawkes
…the Jewish guy from Deadwood.
Alexander Stephens
Jackie Earle Haley
…Kelly from Bad News Bears, Rorschach from Watchmen, or the creepy child molester from Little Children.
Edwin Stanton
Bruce McGill
…D-Day from Animal House.
George Pendleton
Peter McRobbie
…Judge Bradley on Law & Order.
Elizabeth Keckley
Gloria Reuben
…Jeanie from ER.
Clay Hawkins
Walton Goggins
…Shane from The Shield, Boyd from Justified.
Thaddeus Stevens
Tommy Lee Jones
…Tommy Lee Jones.

Lots of great actors. Lots of great acting. If you're into that kind of thing.

Personally, I preferred this Lincoln: