What am I thankful for?

November 27th, 2008

Or, more about more appropriately, approved for what am I thankful? Many sappy things of course (family, friends, The Enabler, life, liberty, &c.) but I’d like to take a moment to discuss a decidedly non-sappy thing for which I’m very thankful, and which I think has a special connection to this very American holiday: TV.

I know I sound like a dullard or an illiterate yokel, but the fact is that TV has brought so much into my life, and I’ve only really realized how much joy it brings since I have to frantically suck it from the internet’s tubes like Christopher Reeve getting stem cells from a fetus. So far our beloved Sanyo CRT is only used to play Wii Fit and play the occasional Netflix DVD we both feel like watching at the same time, and the poor TiVo is just sitting there underneath it, not even plugged in. It’s so sad!

We originally decided to deprive ourselves because our apartment complex only offers DirecTV through a cable, and it’s hilariously expensive. (where was my mother to yell “that’s how they get’cha!!”?) Now however, with the discovery that we might be eligible to get AT&T U-Verse, The Enabler and I are considering breaking our temporary fast and bringing TV back into our lives in the new year. When we were in CT, TiVo was an integral part of our lives, allowing us to watch all sorts of things whenever we wanted….reality shows, Daily/Colbert, comedies and scifi, all whenever we wanted! I don’t think “How It’s Made” ever left our subscriptions page….it was the old standby: there was always one there, you know what you were getting into, and it was always enjoyable. (except for the stupid line-drawn cartoon segments and the occasionally insufferable narrator Brooks More….oh, you haven’t seen it? I’ll stop alienating you now, then.)

What do I miss most? In no particular order: Ace of Cakes (Oh, Duff), The Soup (Oh, Joel), How It’s Made (Oh, Brooks), Star Trek Voyager (Oh, 7 of 9), The X-Files (Oh, OK I’ll stop now), whatever VH1 reality show was in season (I only recently found out about A Real Chance at Love, and completely by accident!!), Mythbusters, Chelsea Lately, Top Chef, Project Runway, and the occasional discovery of new wonders. This discovery is even less of an option now than it was in the strictly regulated TiVocracy of the last two years, but I have managed to add these two shows to my repertoire.

Kath & Kim, a new show based on a popular Australian sitcom featuring Molly Shannon, Selma Blair, and previously fetch-featured John Michael Higgins, is maybe not the brightest star in the galaxy of network television, but I take peculiar pleasure in it. The plots are so-so, the jokes chuckle-worthy, but I find the characters so spot-on that I cannot help but love the show. All it takes is for Molly Shannon to make a face, any face, and I melt. And Higgins’ slightly effeminate portrayal of Kath Day’s fiancé Phil Night (the pilot of both the US and AUS versions leading up to a beautiful pun on their surnames) is constantly entertaining. Like other shows with which I have been obsessed (Arrested Development springs to mind) it’s the little things that keep me coming back – in almost every scene there is a slightly misused or misspoken word or phrase (“Je no say crawl”), some of the outfits are just priceless, and the sheer amount of time they spend at that goddamn mall is so frightening!

Now for Show and Tell! Here, Kath is concerned that her daughter might be gay.

And this clip (from start until 5:20 – just wait for Shannon’s “beyotch” face), which functioned as a promo for the pilot, sums up basically the whole dynamic of the show.

It may not last long, but it’s pretty reliable and easy on the brain. The last five episodes are available on Hulu.

The other (not new) show which I’ve actually grown to love with all my little offensive heart is “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” I had heard of this show, but was always turned off by Danny Devito being so present in all the promo material (I enjoyed him in Ruthless People, but who else was I supposed to enjoy besides Bette? Judge Rheinhold? And yes, I only remember that bitch’s name because of Arrested Development…….) Turns out the first season does not feature DeVito on screen, and I think is all the better for it…..by the time he becomes a regular in the second season I was hooked and could basically watch around him to my heart’s content. (it’s not that hard, after all) The premise is like Seinfeld, in the sense that none of the characters are likeable and the show is basically about nothing, but here it’s taken to its rude, crude, reprehensibly ego-centric, and vulgar extreme. It’s most of what I liked about South Park before it got completely message-y, but somehow it’s harder to believe when actual people are acting how you think no one should ever act.

Somehow I can’t think of a particular cogent example…..here’s the opening scene of the fifth episode: Gun Fever.

Really you should just treat yourself to one of the first season episodes, they are all gems and a good way to get a feel of the show. With the odd exception, all episodes are available on Hulu, but due to content you have to sign up (free!) to affirm your age.

So that’s what I’ve discovered recently, at least in part because of the limitations of my avenues of obtaining entertainment. But of course, this whole re-acquisition of cable thing could just be an exercise in futility, so for a good visualization of this, to cleanse the palette a little, and with hopes that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, I present the following:

I’m off to visit the fam and go to a wedding, but I’ll see you in December!

Really? I mean, COME on!

November 25th, 2008

I don’t have any words………

In case you can’t read that, decease it says “A collection of semen-based recipes.” Human semen.

So first I screamed, and then I screamed “FAKE!” Sadly, it’s not, or at least it seems that I could pay $24.95 to have one shipped to me. Holy fucking Jesus. Although it’s doubtful any of these pictures are actually of the recipes they describe, it still flabbergasts me to imagine someone coming up (no pun intended) with all these crimes against humanity.

Some highlights of the description and contents (God, I wish I was making this up):
- “semen is inexpensive to produce”
- “this book is written for consenting diners of semen”
- “as long as the semen is fresh and properly harvested, there is little risk of contamination”
- “we strongly recommend that you intentionally not attempt to alter the taste of the semen used in cooking”

Please just go to the link above and browse through some of the recipes……there are also many HILARIOUS comments, some of which touch on the obvious issues, but many of which convey an almost Colbert-like sense of devotion to the character….the one about semen’s place in a fruititarian diet is pure genius. (Also, the author’s name is Fotie Photenhauer….really Fotie? Do you live on 123 Phake Street?)

A quick recap, and more fetch

November 25th, 2008

Just for fun I did a youtube search for “fetch” and then “so fetch.” I’m glad to say that this video was only a few clicks away…..

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8l2D_Gcgdo

Again, from HSM 2. It brought into sharp focus the connection that some review made (I thought it was the New Yorker) to the Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney “Back-yard Musical” series. (Babes in Arms, Strike up the Band, Babes on Broadway, &c…..never seen ‘em? Try this on for size for dialogue. Or this for music. But try and forget about this.) I mean, the Busby Berkeley-esque synchronized swimming shot from above is pretty specific, but more generally they’re fun romps about young love and that indescribable human need to put on a show. (the practically engrish tagline for Babes in Arms was “The big musical fun show!” If that doesn’t sum up HSM I don’t know what does……)

This song is my favorite from the movie, so I’m glad that youtube thinks it’s fetch too (the first commenter opines that “ashley is sucj a goos actresse”). It’s not quite as good as its counterpart in HSM3 (sadly only available in a pastiche version, but you get the idea….) but it’s unabashedly honest and off-message, which I appreciate in a film otherwise drenched in the old-fashioned feel-good-ery that made their forebears so charming, but ultimately feeling horribly dated.

You know what’ll never get old, though? This other kind of fetch:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PcL6-mjRNk

I love how for a while it’s someone practicing in the other room, and then it switches to clearly a recording of better quality and with an appreciable reverb.

This is like Julia Child giving cooking lessons to the Swedish Chef

November 25th, 2008

Even that Star Wars reference won’t make this any less gay:

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BSBe42Fb48

I was incredulous when I looked across the room and saw this on the enabler’s computer. (that sounds like a good nickname for him here, especially because he’s always enabling fetch in one way or another) Did this really happen? I had the same expression when I saw Debbie Reynolds on Will and Grace, or Betty White on Ellen as a catburglar (sadly, footage not found), or even Gladys Night’s brief appearance on 30 Rock.

But things like this do happen. Al Gore (again on 30 Rock) utters the line “Quiet! A whale’s in trouble…I have to go.” James Lipton and Liza Minelli on Arrested Development do a brilliant job of playing themselves and their characters. There’s that whole arm of the Geico ad campaign with the celebrities, (Charro? Really?) and people are constantly appearing on The Simpsons and saying things you thought you only dreamed they would say (Joe Mantagna as Fat Tony badmouthing Godfather III, Lucy Lawless showing her true powers, Wolfgang Puck jumping into the Puckmobile, Dolly Parton using her makeup remover to corrode the bars of a holding cell, and the list goes on….). And don’t get me started on that whole Bea Arthur thing again…..

Although it can be overdone, this kind of meta/in-on-the-joke thing gets me every time. But things like this clip – and in its own way, High School Musical – confuse me because it seems too improbable to be unintentional (Efron MUST know how silly he looks when attempting to appear angry), but maybe it’s actually being presented with a certain kind of seriousness that I am too jaded to enjoy at face value. Maybe Ru and Diana were introduced at an event most fabulous, got to talking and thought this would be a really cool joint venture (they’re both musicians, after all, and both have, as Linda Granger would say, a solid homosexual fan base….). And so in the spirit of sisters helping sisters they organized a parade in WeHo and procured the requisite number of costumes (the phrase “how many tea services can you do?” springs to mind….) and just put on a show. (Oh, and are they both lipsynching? Yes, yes they are.)

I hope I never take myself seriously enough to stop appreciating humor like this, or to stop seeing it in the things that I do. I mean, what do I do for a living? Wave my arms around and make people feel good about themselves. And then I come home and see RuPaul and Diana Ross on my boyfriend’s computer and my first thought is: “how FETCH!!!” If that isn’t ripe for parody………..

A quiz

November 22nd, 2008

Who is the mysterious dame in this priceless pic, population health and/or what film is it from?

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If you said “Sharpay Evans” and/or “High School Musical 2″ you would be correct.

I would be sad, physiotherapy and you would be correct, injection and we’d have to never speak of it again.

Thanks to a certain “enabler” who commented that I should Netflix High School Musical 2 (an enabler with whom I share not only a taste in movies, but an address) I have indeed just finished watching said film. I won’t go on for hours about it here, as I’ve expressed quite enough about its big-screen sibling in a previous post. I will say that as much as I appreciated the heightened drama and attempt at character development (I said attempt: Efron’s nervous squint and Hudgens’ askance sigh do not a conflict make) the movie suffers from the same symptom as do a lot of part-twos made with their part-threes already in the works – it’s a middle child. Not quite the big-screen spectacle of HSM3, but with clear growing pains as it tries to get beyond the small-screen charm of the original. Efron’s rage aria is almost as bad as in 3, and the baseball vs. dance number was everything I hoped it would be. (spoiler alert: dance basically won)

The context of the scene pictured above is not terribly important if you’re not familiar with the films (and Efron’s treasure trail is not the point, so stop looking), but it did cause me to exclaim “because if anyone would fart pink taffeta, it would be Sharpay Evans.” I then spent the next two scenes of the movie trying to remember what that shit is actually called, because even though taffeta is a funny word, it’s not what that is. Thus began possibly the gayest thing I have ever done: sitting on the couch under a blanket with my boyfriend and our cat, watching High School Musical 2, and browsing the wedding section of michaels.com looking for pictures of tulle.

And what could be more fetch than that?

Did I mention don’t pay him any attention? Ah yes, I did.

November 21st, 2008

Sometimes I feel like I’m not doing my duty here. I mean, abortion after those first few posts about opera I’ve managed to suppress most my classical-music-nerdiness for the sake of broader appeal, erectile but now maybe I’ve dug myself a new hole with all this talk about Murder, She Wrote, The Golden Girls, and Betty White. I mean, if that’s not narrow appeal, I don’t know what is. So I’ve been trying to think of something a little more “now” that could bring fetch to the masses, or at least bring the masses to fetch. Maybe this’ll even bring the Germans back.

It was while pondering this that I realized that the last thing I am is “now.” My last non-classical iTunes album purchases were Shanghai (Twelve Girls Band) and You’ve Stolen My Heart (Kronos Quartet and Asha Bosle, so it only half counts). Of the top 10 tracks on iTunes I have heard of three of the artists (Beyoncé, Kanye West, and Britney Spears) and I have heard only one of the songs.

Luckily, this song is #1 at the moment – Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” (I’m glad that the convention of enclosing the song’s hook in parentheses after the actual title to make it more recognizable is still used) and not only had I heard it, but I am dimly aware of the youtube phenomenon that has sprung up around the video; it’s no Soulja Boy, but still…..

There is of course the original and the SNL sketch featuring Justin Timberlake. (watch that one before it goes down) Then there are the hundreds of people on Youtube who have taken it upon themselves to do homáge to the rather catchy choreography, and of these this one is undoubtedly the best. (if you have to verify your age don’t worry: his outfit’s just a little skimpy. here’s a mashup with the original video and without the age restriction, but with some annoying annotations) If you can’t get enough of this guy, there’s the local CW news team’s story about him, as well as his appearance on the Bonnie Hunt show. (wait, really? she has another ill-hated TV venture? I could do a whole MSW/Betty White-style post about her….no! must….be………..mainstream……..ackkkkk)

Besides the good Mr. Mercado’s famous rendition, here are my other personal picks:
- alone in the snow of Alaska. Finally, a mention of Alaska without Palin!
- a pretty talented ensemble….much more together than the corps of some ballets I’ve seen (no! must be mainstream!)
- this rather confusing video which took this and made it into this. Apparently this is not the first song to receive such treatment. NEWSFLASH: This meme might have actually BEEN THE INSPIRATION FOR THE VIDEO. What?????

OK, I have to stop now. That discovery made the meta-ness of this whole experience way too creepy. But before I go, might I suggest the following for protracting Youtube’s obsession with this song:

- a video with the song overlaid on clips from LOTR. Also acceptable: new lyrics to the song which describe Frodo’s journey.
- perhaps a video featuring other things on which one can put a ring, capitalizing on that pun
- to return to the underlying meme, videos of Beyoncé’s choreography with different music. Might I suggest this, which is of poor quality but is in fact of my own creation? (spoiler – it’s not me dancing…)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhu7K606uuM

(It breaks down a bit in the middle, but don’t leave without seeing 1:14 to the end: I worked hard on that final cadence. HARD.)

I’ll admit, at the end of this little experiment I’m right back where I started: with the lame classical music jokes. Oh well….I should probably just stick with what I know……….

Old people pretending to not be old are funny

November 20th, 2008

OK, story so I was watching M,SW (I should just omit that in the future….it’s practically redundant to actually state it) and I thought I recognized this actress (Anita Morris). Went to her IMDb page to find out why, turns out she was the rich bitch in Ruthless People. But not only that, she was on a thing called Circus of the Stars in 1988, which was hosted by none other than Bea Arthur! This got me all excited, but unfortunately this was all I could find, and the quality’s not that great.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqehSxkSlZw

But then I thought: what would happen if I type just “Bea Arthur” into youtube? Would I finally find her one-woman show? Some outtakes? Hilarious moments from Maude? (good luck with that one) No, but this did pop up, and I am completely astonished and mortified.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMLITlAA0QM

If you couldn’t read the credits and the faces don’t jog your memory, the other dames involved are  Sally Struthers, Charlotte Rae (Facts of Life), and Katherine Helmond (Soap, Who’s the Boss). If you can’t make it all the way through (the middle’s a little flat when Bea’s not on camera) the other guest star (whom you may recognize) at the end is WELL worth the wait. Holy shit.

Verbing weirds language

November 20th, 2008

As I noted in my previous post by the use of the neologism “Netflixed, dentist ” I am a huge fan of the popular online DVD rental service. In fact, since now we don’t have cable, my only outlet to popular video entertainments are the DVDs from Netflix, Netflix’s own online video player (where I’m getting my Murder, She Wrote and Xena: Warrior Princess fixes), southparkstudios.com for, yes, South Park, and Hulu for more shows of the now: 30 Rock, The Office, The Simpsons, Fringe, Kath & Kim, The Daily Show/Colbert.

So for you inquisitive minds, here’s what I currently have at home:

High School Musical 2 [thanks, mysterious enabler!]
Ugly Betty: Season 1: Disc 1
Magnum P.I.: Season 7: Disc 2 [this is for you, people, you'll see....]

and in my queue:

Star Trek: TNG: Season 2
That Touch of Mink
Murphy Brown: Season 1
Monty Python’s Life of Brian
All of Me
Troy
Poirot (Volumes 6-12)
Adaptation
A Clockwork Orange
Star Trek VI
Divine Madness
Oscar
Kentucky Fried Movie

and the list goes on….something like 100 items, most of them dreck. When the fetch happens, you’ll be the first to know. For example, this amazing clip from MSW that I watched this morning:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWm7XuHEZLA

p.s. bonus points for anyone who can name the source of the subject line. No googling!

Is this really the last chance to get it right?

November 19th, 2008

I should have done this a few days ago, capsule but here goes.

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I feel like an alcoholic at the beginning of a twelve-step meeting, but I went to see High School Musical 3 last weekend. To say that I was dragged there not of my own volition is a half-truth at best; having Netflixed the first HSM last week, I was simultaneously horrified and intrigued, and enough of the latter to make it worth the $10 to see how the new one stacks up. Although the original bore all the hallmarks of a made-for-Disney-Channel movie, it managed to get more things right than it deserved (and I’m not just talking about Efron’s boyish charm) and so my enjoyment of the film managed to tread that dangerous line between ironic and genuine. I’m not sure I can say the same for HSM 3.

The setting is again Albequerque, NM, and the movie begins with the trademark East High Wildcats in the middle of a fast-paced championship-basketball-game-cum-musical-number, as the twinkish Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and Chad Danforth (Corbin Bleu, another alumnus of my high school) sweat their life away and grimace as much as possible. The end of the game thankfully also ends the direct involvement of basketball in the plot (further separating it from the first, where it played a major role in the primary conflict) although to take it’s place is the well-worn trope of college applications and the accompanying separation anxiety. This in turn brings into play such hilarious plot points as Juilliard recruiters doleing out scholarships like Halloween candy and an early-decision honor’s program at Stanford that yanks students out of their last semester of high school to come to the campus to do nothing more than ride bicycles, wear flowy skirts, and have adult-sounding cell phone conversations with their friends back home (not to mention forcing their parents to come with them and sell their house in I’llbequirky) It’s decided that the spring musiCALE will be about the students’ own lives at East High, which causes some musical confusion I’ll discuss later. Problems arise even without the help of show-stealing meddlesome diva Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale), and as the show seems doomed to failure the phoenix rises clumsily from the ashes on opening night, and all are satisfied. I’m glossing over the relationship troubles of Troy and Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens), partly because it’s more than a little hackneyed and partly because it gets in the way of my fantasies. There’s also more focus on Troy’s inner conflict between theatre and basketball (is this really such a big deal?) and by extension his conflict with his father’s desires and his own.

Now to preface my opinions: one of the things which I think was a failure of the first movie was never seeing the show-within-the-show. In my experience this is always the best part: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Babes in Arms, Singing in the Rain (not counting the stupid treadmill dream sequence), the Producers….not to mention Noises Off or Waiting for Guffman! Musicals within musicals are well-enough trodden ground (Kiss Me, Kate or the musical of The Producers) and it’s easy to disambiguate the impromptu singing and the “scripted” singing of the inner show. Cabaret is another good example of how these two can interact and comment on each other while still remaining fairly distinct.

HSM3, however, totally fucked with this in an unacceptable way. Some of the numbers started in “RL” and then transitioned into a rehearsal of the musical, or made their way into the musical later. (this reminded me of the end of Singing in the Rain: how preposterous was it that Velma and the orchestra knew that song that Don sang to himself on the rainy street weeks earlier? It just doesn’t add up….) And just when I thought I’d figured it out, Efron and Bleu broke into their choreographed machismo number “The Boys are Back” (homoerotic does not even BEGIN to describe it….) and when the dancers came in from the wings and the set instantly lost all trapping of reality, I imagined we were now in the rehearsal of this number for the show. Except we weren’t. This might have been an attempt at whimsey, but it left me even more confused.

I was pleasantly surprised with the plot: again, I didn’t see HSM2, but 3 was definitely a step up from the first one, which was a confused muddling of clichés hastily stitched together with middling musical numbers. It managed to surprise me a few times (in a good way) and I continued to enjoy the outrageously one-dimensional characters, despite the fact that they tried to take the two characters that might have been gay (Ryan, the snazzily-dressed choreographer, and Kelsey, the brooding composer of the shows) and threw them together to make us try and believe that everything was on the up-and-up. (I mean, they share a love of terrible hats, but that’s not enough to overcome their obvious sexual proclivities) I also completely loathed Troy’s rage aria, not only because it was so poorly acted, but the rain of CG basketballs would not even have passed muster in 1994. Oh, and did I mention that the recipients of the Juilliard scholarships (which were being awarded based on the applicants’ performances in the musical) were announced during the musical? What?? The climax at actual graduation (not fake graduation during the musical, when the awards were announced) was decidedly anti-climatic and probably the worst ensemble number in the movie.

Knowing that I went to an arts-oriented public high school, you might think these types of movies make me nostalgic. I haven’t seen Fame, but Camp is another good example of a movie that supposedly sums up my high school experience, but it doesn’t. And that’s just it: no one went to East High. It is at once our best and worst memories of the high school experience, as defined so eloquently then and since more by society and its depiction in the media than by our actual surroundings. High school is about learning to cope with the massively complex realities of life which had been theretofore suppressed or ignored, and every movie, book, play, or TV show set in high school attempts to reconcile one aspect of this reality through the lens of what we perceive as a culturally shared experience. (Even though there were no jocks at my high school  – there were no sports – the idiom is one which I understand) I thought the first movie had a direct (and horrificly transparent) message: it’s OK to dabble in various already-socially-acceptable forms of expression, but they still (even in a plurality) define who and what you are. I’m not sure that HSM3 was so worried about continuing or updating this message, but it leave me questioning how many decisions I’ve made and how many have been made for me.

So can I reccommend HSM 3? Not completely, but don’t deny yourself the hilarity of at least renting this fantastic trio of films. Don’t watch them alone, as you might find yourself enjoying them at face value. Rather, if you can’t go to a theater and sit behind nine screaming girls while simultaneously laughing at the movie and them, as we did, see it with a few friends and some drinks, and feel free to discuss it openly amongst yourselves – you will not be talking over gripping or important dialogue.

And after you’ve seen them, head over to www.southparkstudios.com and see last week’s episode “Elementary School Musical.” Genius.

Servus!

November 18th, 2008

Legions of Fetch, buy we have a mystery on our hands. And no, diagnosis I’m not referring to one of the mysteries in the many, many, MANY episodes of Murder, She Wrote to which I’ve been treating myself lately: this mystery does not involve a murder in which one of my friends/neighbors/nieces/nephews/sympathizers has been implicated.

I got a spike of traffic from Deutschland recently, one area in particular called Kaiserslautern….have I forgotten that someone I know recently begun life anew there and did they perhaps decide to visit my site over and over again to get a little bit of that down-home American faggy charm? Was it people looking for Josh Groban? (pleeease don’t tell me it was him) Or am I Germany’s new favorite source for all things fetch?

(Ich weiss nicht, wie man “fetch” auf Deutsch sagt. Vielleicht weil “fetch” ist eine verkürzte Form von “fetching,” “bezaub” oder “fessel” passen könnten?)

OK, I’ll stop trying to dust off my rusty German. I’ve never had the pleasure of going to Germany, and I’m still not sure if my semester in Vienna improved or worsened my German overall…..which reminds me – before said sojourn my aunt bought me this t-shirt:

thinking, I’m sure, that it was very funny indeed. I never wore it there, not only because even I couldn’t bring myself to appreciate it ironically, but because she got it in size 2XL. (I’m not THAT big in Europe, people…..)

Well look, whatever it is let’s keep it coming. America’s image abroad is not going to heal itself, even with such a great shot in the arm as our new President-Elect (Ja, wir können!), so I want to help it in any way I can. My friends, what brings you here? How can I serve you better? Comment away! In the meantime, here’s the funniest thing I found on a youtube search for Kaiserslautern.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYWSlyipXfs

Ich bin ein Kaiserslauterner!

  • About

    Things. People. Places. The movers and shakers that make it happen. Fetch, that is. What's Fetch? Maybe this will help explain. Dedicated to LQ and her fierceness.