Truly Horrible Detective

Rumor has it that season 3 of True Detective will be set in the suburbs and they'll just use the same aerial photos over and over. (Image from skyscrapercity dot com)
Rumor has it that season 3 of True Detective will be set in the suburbs and they’ll just use the same aerial footage over and over – because you know, suburbs.  (Image from skyscrapercity dot com)

I’m far from the first person to point out how disappointingly bad the second season of HBO’s “True Detective” has been. I just watched another recorded episode last night, in the futile hopes that the series would somehow pull itself together.  I’d watch the finale but I’ve gotten behind on “Naked and Afraid” and to be honest, even watching filthy digitized people eat barbequed snake is more entertaining than this season’s edition of “True Detective”.

The first season was quite good, and cynical viewers might have expected a certain amount of drop-off in quality for season two, but this has been more along the lines of a bungee jump without the cord.  Here are a few comparisons of how using the same recipe with different ingredients can go horribly wrong:

Season 1: Aerial shots of vast Louisiana swamps and woodlands – worked because it reinforced the plot.  You could easily imagine creepy people doing awful things out in the middle of nowhere.

Season 2: Aerial shots of vast highway interchanges and rail yards – didn’t work because the shots brought to mind strip mining and commuting more than violent crime.  It also seemed like there was twice as much aerial footage – maybe they had extra money in the budget for helicopter shots.  At least it reduced the number of times we had to look at Collin Farrell pushing his Shemp-style hair back out of his face.

Quiet you numbskull! I'm trying to solve crimes and sulk! (Image from movieline dot com)
Quiet you numbskull! I’m trying to solve crimes and sulk! (Image from movieline dot com)

Season 1: Powerful secret organization hides terrible secrets of child abuse and murder – worked because anyone perpetrating such atrocious crimes would be secretive by nature, and who doesn’t suspect that powerful, rich people are up to no good?

Season 2: Powerful men have big sex parties with beautiful prostitutes and/or meet in richly appointed studies to make shady land deals – didn’t work because while the idea of shady land deals is entirely believable, the thought of captains of industry and politicians having orgiastic fun in front of one another is absurd.

I don't care how hot your date is; if you see a couple like this across the room at the mansion, it's gonna be a buzz-kill. (Image from africanewsposts dot com)
I don’t care if you have a hot date and a wrinkle fetish; if you see a couple like this across the rumpus room at the mansion, it’s gonna be a buzz-kill. (Image from africanewsposts dot com)

Season 1: Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughay play cops with personal demons and are dedicated to solving a case despite  overwhelming odds against them – worked because Woody portrayed a blue collar cop who plays fast and loose, while McConaughay’s character is a brainiac whose oddness and intellect are both his best and worst enemies.  Harrelson’s character is responsible for asking McConaughay’s WTF he’s talking about during his philosophical rants.

Season 2: Collin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch play cops with personal demons and are dedicated to solving a case despite overwhelming odds against them – didn’t work because for the most part, it was difficult to have much compassion for any of them.  Every other line had one of them making obtuse comments about the meaning of life.  The is no sounding board character, so the audience must ask WTF these people are talking about during their philosophical rants.

Interesting. Is this a sexual analogy or are there actual blue balls in your heart? (Image from wikia dot com)
Interesting. You say that you should “..never do anything out of hunger, not even eating“.  Is there another reason to eat, or will you explain it to me in the next episode? (Image from wikia dot com)

Season 1: Opening credits, music – worked because the images and music evoked the overlapping of good and bad, light and dark, etc.  Hearing the theme song “Far From Any Road” still creeps me out.  The low, mechanical rumble during suspenseful scenes brings to mind the beating heart of a dangerous, hidden evil.

Season 2: Opening credits, theme music – did not work because…I don’t even know why it didn’t work, but it didn’t.  The theme song title, “Nevermind”  sounds like good advice.  The low, mechanical rumble during suspenseful scenes brings to mind the possibility that someone is having an MRI nearby.

Odds and Ends:

  • The bruised girl singing in the dive bar every time Collin Farrel’s character needs to have a confidential meeting.  I’m sorry, there’s just no way she gets to sing there or anywhere else – not even on open-mike night in the City of the Deaf.  Replace that droning songbird with the karaoke talents of out-of-town businessmen singing The Cowboy Junkies songbook.
  • The cops, one of whom was working in the same capacity as Erik Estrada’s character on CHiPs, have the ability to look at complicated legal documents and instantly determine what the fuck they actually mean.  I didn’t realize that motorcycle cops had advanced training in contract law.
  • Collin Farrel’s pudgy, ginger son – I know about as much about genetics as I do about the legal documents for land transactions, but I know it’s genetically impossible to have a kid who looks like that from any combination of those three parents.
  • They always pick the right door for the plot.  Kitsch’s character is being held in a labyrinth of tunnels which according to one of the bad guys, “runs beneath the entire city.”  He somehow escapes, killing a half dozen special forces guys who shine their flashlights to give him good targets.  After scrambling through miles of tunnels, he emerges via a ladder up to the street level, and the last bad cop is standing right behind the door waiting to shoot him in the back.  In an earlier scene, Rachel McAdams is stumbling around a huge mansion dragging a drugged woman along behind her.  No one is able to stop her despite her sluggish cargo.  She happens to emerge from one of the dozen or more available exterior doors to where Kitsch is standing waiting for her.  I can’t find the men’s room at the Cheesecake Factory but somehow these characters manage to pick the right door.
  • Some of the most stilted, unnatural dialogue I’ve ever heard.  Vince Vaughn’s character alone has more awkward things to say in any one episode than I’ve said in my entire life (including some epic drunken stupors and childhood night terrors).  It’s difficult to imagine an actor reading those lines and not asking for someone to consider rewriting it to sound like it’s being said by a human being.  If you think I’m exaggerating, please note that in one scene, Vince Vaughn’s character made an analogy that not being able to identify his enemies “Is like..blue balls in your heart“.
I'm no cardiologist, but I'm thinking this can't be good.
I’m no cardiologist, but I’m thinking this can’t be good.

HBO has contracted with writer Nic Pizzolatto for one more season.  Like any true optimistic masochist, I’ll tune in to see if the same formula for season 3 yields an incredible souffle or cold scrambled eggs.  A quick FYI; I have a couple of manuscripts on the back burner if HBO is looking for new writing talent.

Batguy Versus Superdude

I revised my brand-new header just for this post.  Enjoy it while you can.
I revised my brand-new header just for this post. Enjoy my labor of love..

A few friends of mine love to ask for my opinion as to who would win if Batman fought Superman.  Now that the trailer for the upcoming film epic has been released, I’m sure they’ll ask again soon.  These knuckleheads also enjoy asking me whether the Flash is faster than the Silver Surfer and whether the Hulk is stronger than the Thing.  They don’t ask me these questions because of my vast knowledge of fictional superheroes.  They ask to annoy me, and because they seem to enjoy my stock answer:

I’m a grown-assed man, ferchrissakes!  Why would I waste my time even considering such an idiotic question?!”

Hey Caped Crusader!  You're gonna have to work that kettle bell more than once every three or four episodes if you wanna get some definition in those arms.  (Image from Reddit dot com)
You’re gonna have to work that kettle bell more than once every 3 or 4 episodes if you wanna get some definition in those arms. (Image from Reddit dot com)

Like most kids of my generation, I watched Superman and Batman on TV.  By Superman, I’m referring to a character played by a paunchy George Reeves on a snowy, black and white screen.

By Batman, I mean a character played by a paunchy Adam West – shot in color but viewed on a Sears black and white TV with an antenna clad in wads of aluminum foil.

When they say "rolled steel" are they referring to that waistline? (Image from warpedfactor dot com)
Does the term “rolled steel” refer to that super-waistline?  Despite rumors to the contrary, the two thugs are not being played by Ernest Borgnine and a very young Abe Vigoda.   (Image from warpedfactor dot com)

By the time Hollywood started making special effects-laden blockbusters about these characters, I had already outgrown men in capes and moved on to women in tights (not necessarily super heroines, just women – and not necessarily in tights for that matter).  I went through a brief transitional period which my therapist often refers to as my “Julie Newmar as Catwoman” phase.

Despite my ardent attention to Ms. Newmar, I don’t think I ever considered whether she would win in a battle with Diana Rigg as Emma Peel.  Irrespective of who would have won, I would have paid my entire allowance for a year to have had a ring-side seat for that clash.

 

Time to create this poster = 45 minutes. Time to figure out how to convert a Word file into a PDF file into a PNG file and post it on this stupid blog = 90 minutes. Time spent shaking your head and wondering why I bother = Infinite.
Time to create this poster = 45 minutes.
Time to figure out how to convert a Word file into a PDF file into a PNG file and post it on this stupid blog = 90 minutes.
Time spent shaking your head and wondering why I bother = Mere seconds.

 

I know that the world is full of unanswerable questions; things like the meaning of life, our fates after death, and why Donald Trump’s hair looks like it does.  These are all things we’ll never truly know.  Despite their unanswerable nature, we’re destined to ask them again and again.

As for Batman versus Superman, my answer is a shrug of the shoulders accompanied by a roll of the eyes.  I’m just amazed that so many people seem to truly care enough to even have an opinion.  My only guess is that whichever superhero wins the first battle will lose in the sequel.

 

 

 

Gaga-Boo Music

By now you may have heard about the Fox News anchor who used a racially derogatory word in her discussion of Lady Gaga’s performance at the Oscars.  The beauty-pageant winner turned newscaster said it was hard to really hear Gaga’s voice with all of the “jigaboo music” accompanying the singer.  I missed seeing the Academy Awards again this year.  I think my streak for skipping that show for 56 consecutive years is impressive, but I’m not here to grandstand.

She's a former beauty pageant winner, and he's a co-anchor.  Is it okay to call someone a co-anchor?
She did well in the swimsuit competition, but faltered during the talent portion, where she showed how limber she was by sticking both of her feet in her mouth. The co-anchor seems to already know he’ll soon have that desk all to himself.  Is it okay to call someone a co-anchor?  That’s not one of those slur-word things is it?

Since I didn’t see it, I guess there’s a slim possibility that Gaga’s back-up music was so raucous and bizarre that the standard English language was simply insufficient to adequately describe it.  If that was the case, the reporter had little choice but to resort to jerky hand gestures or funny sounding slang words like “razzamatazz” or “badonkey-tonk”.

It can be difficult to hear Gaga's beautiful voice, especially in this scene where she sang "..the hills are alive, with the sound of cherry bombs going off in my bra"
It can be difficult to hear Gaga’s beautiful voice, as in this scene where she sang “..the hills are alive, with the sound of cherry bombs going off in my bra”

When criticized for her use of the slur, the news anchor Tweeted her little heart out, spewing apologies and offering the explanation that she didn’t actually know what the word meant when she said it (twice, but who’s counting, right?).  The guy to her left seems to be a little more familiar with it.

In these N-word sensitive times, many white folk simply aren’t up to speed with the broad selection of racial epithets available out there to insult most any group.  In truth, there’s no shortage in colorful words and phrases with which to simultaneously flaunt both ones racist leanings and impressive vocabulary.  I’m not interested in helping popularize any of these lesser known terms and will keep them to myself, unless someone cuts me off in traffic.

As a lifelong speaker of English, I understand that we sometimes say things we don’t mean to.  I say the wrong thing fairly often, such as “Hell yes!” to the offer of yet another pint of beer when I meant “No thank you”.  The difference is that I know the meanings of the words, I just chose the wrong ones.

I know I should've said no, but it's a Goat Boy Imperial Weizenbock!  No one says no to another one of those.  Lookit that cute little goat boy!
No one says “No” to another Goat Boy Imperial Weizenbock, NO ONE !!

When I go to Starbucks, I order whichever coffee drink I’m interested in having, and specify whether I’d like a small, medium or large.  I do not order a yeti or a grande.  Though I’ve certainly been to enough Mexican restaurants to know that grande probably means large, I’m not positive, so I don’t use the word.  To further complicate things, Yeti is another name for Bigfoot, which has the word “big” right in it.  No wonder people are confused.  Besides, the whole thing smacks of pretentiousness, but that’s for another blog post.

My daughter recently brought these back from Seattle, home of Starbucks.  I think we can all make the Yeti/Mocha Latte connection now.
My daughter recently brought these back from Seattle, birthplace of Starbucks. I think we can all make the Grande-Yeti-Mocha Latte connection now.  For the record, Yeti turds have a sweet, nutty taste.

The real story is not that some perky newscaster used a racist term.  The big message is that this woman, who talks for a living, had no idea what she was saying!  Thousands of viewers tune in to find out what’s going on in their corner of the world and this is one of the people who tells them!?    She didn’t know what it meant, and said it anyway – at least that is what she Tweeted, but there’s a chance that she also types things she doesn’t know the meanings of.

No need to bother with a caption, the pic is self-explanatory.
No need to bother with a caption, the pic is self-explanatory.

It’s commendable that people turn on the news in the first place, considering the sensationally tragic nature of most news stories.  Even if some of them are only tuning in to find out who won the game or to ogle the weather girl, at least they’re taking some slight bit of interest in the world around them and not parking themselves in front of a “13 Wives and Counting” marathon on A & E.

Quiet kids, Daddy's watching the news!  (Image from the nayshun dot com)
Quiet kids, Daddy’s watching the news…and learning a little Spanish! (Image from the nayshun dot com)

This talking head has done little to restore peoples’ faith in the news media.  If only she’d stuck to the teleprompter.  In other news, Walter Cronkite is still spinning in his grave like a rotisserie chicken on a cordless drill.  When pressed for a comment, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley both stated they could do a better job handling broadcast news despite their mutual state of deadness.  Stay with us for continuing coverage, we’ll be back with weather and sports after these messages (Pull back to studio shot and cue the Starbucks commercial).

 

Popular TV Episodes Summarized For Your Convenience

First of all, you’re welcome.  I had to do my monthly duty over at the Nudge Wink Report, so I thought I’d summarize the latest goings on of a few popular TV shows instead of coming up with some sort of intelligent topic to write about.  Don’t worry about spoilers though, as I’m actually a week or so behind.  If you’re further behind than that, you need to buck up and take your TV viewing a little more seriously and stop wasting time with more meaningful pursuits, like earning a living, raising children or volunteering at the local ebola clinic.  Since I know that many of you are visual learners, here’s a photo for you:

I found this and figured someday it would be a great illustration for a post, then I saw something shiny and forgot all about it.  Feel free to be disturbed.  (Image from wincountry dot com)
I found this and figured someday it would be a great illustration for a post, then I saw something shiny and forgot all about it. Feel free to be disturbed. (Image from wincountry dot com)

Feel free to thank me later.  You can click on the Nudge Wink link above, or here to jump over there and see my incredibly shallow summary of a few popular shows, which you may or may not watch.

One Man’s Cave is Another Man’s Rumpus Room

I know it's not Tartan Plaid.  Stop splitting hairs - it's not a very manly thing to do! (Image from shopcurated dot com)
I know it’s not Tartan Plaid. Stop splitting hairs – it’s not a very manly thing to do! (Image from shopcurated dot com)

Three things have struck me during my recent viewing of entirely too many real-estate themed reality shows.  First, why hasn’t anyone coined the phrase “realty reality TV” or “reality realty TV”?  Seems like a natural.  Second, why does everyone on these shows say “price point” when they really just mean “price”?  Finally, why is it so important for many of these guys to have a “man cave” in their home?

If these shows are any indication, a man’s home is not his castle after all.  The most guys can hope for is a finished space just off the laundry room where they can burp, scratch themselves and generally be men without fear of being judged – they call this space a man cave.  Historians of the male experience will point out that in bygone eras, the place where a man could act this way was called “anywhere he damn-well pleased“.

Those historians may be a little bitter.  They might also be tempted to dismiss the man cave as nothing more than the modern equivalent of the mid-century phenomenon known as the rumpus room.

Since we’re talking guy stuff, it’s inevitable that things will end up getting competitive.  Bragging rights are at stake, so I’m daring to ask the question; Which one’s better, your neighbor’s man cave, or my Uncle Walt’s rumpus room?  We’ll look at several key components to any architectural space and put the rumpus room head to head with the man cave and see which wins.

Decor

 

Rumpus – Tartan plaid polyester-blend upholstery

vs.

Cave – Neutral microfiber with tasteful accent pillows

Winner – Cave: That plaid upholstery wasn’t comfortable when it was new, and the passage of time has done little to change that.

Rumpus – Console stereo complete with record changer and Scandinavian wood cabinetry

vs.

Cave – MP3 Dock with wireless speakers and sub-woofer

Winner – Cave: The retro appeal of a stereo which is larger than a casket on legs is all well and good, but my Iron Butterfly and Strawberry Alarm Clock albums are hopelessly scratched.

Rumpus – Shag carpeting

vs.

Cave – Pastel tile left over from the kitchen remodel

Winner – Rumpus: That tile might pass muster in your wife’s fancy kitchen, but it doesn’t work for a cave.  Any leftover scraps of shag can be used to give that minivan a make-over

Rumpus -Set of three Vargas girls carefully cut out of old Playboy magazines and framed

vs.

Cave – Digital picture frame from Radio Shack uploaded with several images of Kate Upton

Winner – Cave: Vargas girls are impossibly leggy and really classy, but cutting them out of a magazine is not exactly high brow.

(Image from foodtruckfestivalsofne dot com)
(Image from foodtruckfestivalsofne dot com)

 

Accessories/Entertainment

 

Rumpus – Pocket billiard table

vs.

Cave – video game system

Winner – Rumpus: Your kids will tire of billiards within a few weeks, but they’ll own the video game system.  They’ll beat your ass in any game you choose and claim the room as theirs.  If you don’t have kids, your man cave is located in the master bedroom.  Go breed, Tarzan – we can revisit the rumpus room topic once you’ve got some crumb-snatchers to escape from.

Rumpus – Antique Barber Shop Pole

vs.

Cave – Stripper Pole

Winner – Rumpus: Stop pouting, there’s a logical reason for this.  A barber shop pole is kind of decorative.  A stripper pole is only a chrome pipe, unless there’s a stripper on it.  Whose absence would be more noticeable, Luigi from The Clip Joint, or Kandii Krush from the Playtime Lounge out by the airport?

Maybe if you had a long enough barber's pole, Kandii could use that.  (Image from Etsy dot com)
Maybe if you had a long enough barber’s pole, Kandii could come spin on it. (Image from Etsy dot com)

Rumpus – Dart board

vs.

Cave – Beer pong table

Winner – Rumpus: I realize you may have spent years perfecting the art of throwing ping pong balls into cups of flat beer, but essentially, this is a drinking game popular with young guys who shave once a week whether they need it or not.  Darts is a time honored game for grown-assed men, involving sharp flying objects and a bit of math.  If you’re old enough to have a rumpus room or man cave, you’re old enough to risk losing an eye.

Rumpus – Statue of drunk against lamp post which plays “How Dry I Am”

vs.

Cave –   “Parking Reserved For (Insert Local NFL Team Here) Fans” street sign

Winner – Rumpus: The statue of the drunk is a collectible piece of kitsch.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some Fancy Dan on “The Antiques Roadshow” got himself in a lather over one of them and told the owner it was worth $300 or something.

Few things speak to the essence of maleness more than drunk statuary with music boxes inside.  (Image from ebay dot com)
Few things speak to the essence of maleness more than drunk statuary with music boxes inside. (Image from ebay dot com)

Refreshments

 

Rumpus – Wet bar with tufted leatherette front, butcher block top with assorted beer labels and a few coins sealed beneath 10 coats of polyurethane

vs.

Cave – Wet bar with brushed stainless front and granite top purchased at discount during the kitchen remodeling project

Winner – Rumpus: Tufted leatherette just screams “Manly steakhouse!”  Also, watching guys try to pick up the coins never gets old.

Rumpus – 1958 Kelvinator refrigerator in Bel Aire Blue finish retrofitted into early keg-a-rator complete with partial keg of Rheingold Extra Dry

vs.

Cave – Frigidaire refrigerator in Almond finish, left over from kitchen remodel, stocked with several varieties of micro brews, each with edgy names and artsy labels, plus bottles of mineral water, peach wine coolers and Coors Light

Winner – Cave: That Kelvinator has always had a smell to it and the sheet metal work to convert it into a draft beer dispenser is not exactly shop grade.  Even though that Rheingold is likely flat by now, this one was still close, largely due to the presence of water, wine coolers and beer flavored water in the Frigidaire

Rumpus – Six bottles, including blended scotch, bourbon, Canadian whiskey, gin, vodka, and white creme de menthe

vs.

Cave – Multiple varieties of single malt scotches, boutique bourbons, and triple-filtered ice-distilled vodkas in frosted glass bottles

Winner – Cave: Standard issue booze might’ve been okay for those lushes on Mad Men, but this is 2014.  Spending three times more for spirits aged in French oak and distilled by virgins is worth every penny.  Besides, using the leftover tiles from the kitchen and the old fridge freed up some serious cash

Gimme a Sidecar, two Gibsons, straight up, and a Rusty Nail for the lady.  (Image from fiveoclockcocktails dot com)
Gimme a Sidecar, a Gibson, a Dirty Mohican with extra capers, and a Rusty Nail for the lady in red. (Image from fiveoclockcocktails dot com)

For those of you keeping score (probably the dart players), Rumpus Room has squeezed out a one point victory.  Please stay tuned for more of this exciting hair-splitting in upcoming posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totally Klondike, Dude

He doesn't appear in Game of Thrones wearing a hat much either - not even a derby made of chain mail.  (Image from impawards dot com)
Richard Madden doesn’t appear in Game of Thrones wearing a hat much either – not even a derby made of chain mail. (Image from impawards dot com)

I was originally going to title this little rant “Nine Things I Learned During The First 28 Minutes of Ridley Scott’s ‘Klondike”.  Luckily, the most useful thing I learned from this six-hour dog of a show was how to avoid losing viewers or readers with too accurate of a title.  My guess is that the original title for “Klondike” might have been something along the lines of “Will and Epstein’s Excellent Gold Rush Adventure, Except The Part Where Epstein Gets Killed”

Less than a half hour into the mini-epic tale of gold mining in the 1890’s, I had to pause it and get my laptop out to record the many lessons already learned.  Here’s what I learned in the first twenty-eight minutes of the show:

  1. People in olden days spoke much the same we do now.  Case in point: As they board a train, Will says to Epstein, “If you get me killed on the first day of the rest of my life, I’m going to be seriously pissed off.”  The first part of the sentence is suspiciously close to a quote attributed to Charles Dederich in the 1960’s (“Today is the first day of the rest of your life”).  The last part of the sentence, wherein one can be described as “seriously pissed” can be ascribed to any number of cast members of MTV’s Real World series.  Lots of under 25-ers since then have reported being seriously high, seriously bored and seriously stoked while appearing seriously illiterate.  To add a little frosted whipped topping to my point, Epstein later refers to working as a gold miner as “shit-assed hard work”, proving that butchering salty language never goes out of style.
  2. One sure fire way to make a period piece look a little more authentic is to throw in some cultural stereotypes.  The boys, fresh from graduating college, are found in a dark smokey room, surrounded by inscrutable but vengeful Chinamen.  Like all foreigners people, they have strange customs, including partaking in some sort of exotic gambling involving dried beans.  When Epstein cannot pay up, the head Chinaman produces a large knife.  After a madcap dash through a labyrinth of rooms, including one where an old gentleman appeared to be smoking opium in bed, the boys narrowly escape.  Later, on the train, the boys can be seen winning a few bucks gambling with some of the colored folk who work on board.  This pair of adventurous young bucks seem hellbent on games of chance with minorities.
  3. Graduating from college was a guarantee of big bucks, even in ancient times.  Will reveals to Epstein that he has “$450 – every cent I got from graduation”.  I didn’t score that kind of cabbage when I graduated from college, over 80 years later, but I’m not complaining.  A little web research has revealed a website which gives a conversion factor to see what a buck was worth back then, compared to now.  According to those formulas, Will’s college graduation wad would be worth roughly $9000 in today’s currency.  It’s hard to believe with that kind of generosity that no one in the family appeared to attend the graduation ceremony (which Will left early to go find Epstein who was already gambling with the aforementioned Asians).
  4. Good looking people seldom wear hats.  Will and Epstein climb a snow covered mountain in a conga line of wannabee miners complaining that they’ve been at it for ten days.  Climbing through deep snow on a windy mountain, for a week and a half?  Nah, I don’t need a hat.  Later on the other side of the mountain, our boys meet an impossibly beautiful woman who remembered to pack her low cut gown with the satin bodice, but also apparently forgot to pack a hat.  My premise is confirmed.
  5. Even in the 1890’s, a catch phrase was critical.  Will and Epstein’s slogan was “Nothing in my pocket but a handful of hope”.  That’s a handful of hope?  I thought you were just glad to see me.
  6. When in doubt, cut to the aerial shot of the majestic mountains.  We’re constantly reminded of the fact that it’s another place in time where men were men and sled dogs were scared, but in case anyone loses track of the locale, every tenth shot or so is a breathtaking view of the rugged mountains.  Did I see a ski trail in the background just then?
  7. An avalanche is a minor inconvenience.  Following a massive avalanche which killed dozens of conga liners on the mountain, Will emerges from behind a boulder and shouts at the top of his lungs for Epstein, but no one answers.  He walks a few feet down the hill, grabs a boot or something and pulls his friend from what would have been a snowy grave.  In the next scene, Will and Epstein have miraculously also located their sled.  Apparently having people and belongings buried under a sea of snow coursing violently down a mountainside doesn’t make stuff hard to find afterwards.
  8. “Real stuff” is captivating.  Every time this massive dud came back from commercial there was a message on the bottom of the screen which said “Based on actual events”.  Since something happened in the Yukon over a hundred years ago, today’s TV viewers will just have to accept that real events sometimes result in implausible dialogue, giant holes in plots and men without hats.

You can rest assured, I learned tons more worthless stuff during the remaining 5 1/2 dreadful hours of this turkey.  Such lessons included how dangerous it can be to dance on thin ice while holding a sack of heavy gold bars.  I also learned that whenever a story needs to get philosophical, you can suddenly switch out the regular narrator for a Native American or other indigenous person who can shed light on the foolish greedy ways of the outsiders.  Most importantly, I learned how not to waste 6 hours of my life again watching a really sad example of bad TV.

Squawking Dead – Episode One

To clarify, I meant to write Season 4.  (Image from collider dot com)
To clarify, I meant to write Season 4. (Image from collider dot com)

Season whatever of The Walking Dead has begun.  I’ll admit to being a fan of the zombie apocalypse series.  In fact, I’ve never missed an episode.  That won’t stop me from poking fun at the show.  As my wife will attest, I’m not against mocking the things I love.  Episode 1 of this season’s TWD is no exception.

We rejoin our merry band of survivors in their happy prison home.  The original group’s numbers were expanded at the end of last season by a bunch of refugees from the compound of the evil governor.  Despite the paranoid screening process the survivors typically enforced, they let the whole busload of people in, without even checking them for references or bite marks.

The troop has decided to grow their own produce and raise hogs.  While the population has tripled, only one person, Farmer Rick (formerly known as Sheriff Rick), appears to be doing all the weeding or hoeing or whatever it is that farmers do.   Rick deals with the drudgery of tilling the good earth by wearing earbuds and listening to some vintage hillbilly music.   I realize the  ghouls are on the other side of the fence, but I personally would prefer to keep from compromising my sense of hearing in a world filled with growling brain eaters.   Lord only knows where one goes to charge an iPod or download Boxcar Willy’s Greatest Hits in a low tech world overrun with zombies.

Nothing quite says "Happy Holidays" like Boxcar Willie's rendition of "Away in a Manger in the Ozarks" (Image from last dot fm)
Nothing quite says “Happy Holidays” like Boxcar Willie’s rendition of “Away in a Manger in the Ozarks” (Image from last dot fm)

While it only takes one guy to farm, it looks like it takes quite a few more to patrol the inside of the perimeter fence, killing zombies by poking them through the fence with sharp sticks and in one case, a cane.  The zombies just stand there and take it, almost eager to have their egg-shell thin foreheads pierced.  The chain link posse members dance around looking for the opportunity to shish-kabob zombie heads, as if they require a perfect shot.

There appears to be a budding romance between Hershel’s pretty younger daughter and some young Romeo.  I had always thought that she and Carl would hook up, but that goofy kid is still too wrapped up in wearing Daddy’s cowboy hat and killing things.  I paused the DVR playback and asked my wife who the hell this new young buck was.  She shrugged at me.

Young Romeo joins Crossbow Daryl and a few others to go scout out a grocery store for supplies.  The store had been taken over and fenced off by the military in the early days of the zombie infestation.  As the gang of survivors go inside, the camera pans upward, and we discover there is a wrecked helicopter and tons of walkers randomly staggering around all over the roof.  The usually doglike hearing of the zombies was conveniently absent this time.  None of the roof-toppers heard Daryl and Young Romeo’s five minutes of witty dialogue outside the front doors of the store.  I was going to pause the DVR again and ask my wife how a hundred or so zombies got up on top of a supermarket in first place, but before I could, the camera showed the decomposing roof.  TV foreshadowing experts like myself know this can only mean one thing.

My wife keeps putting tape over this button on the remote.  I don't understand why.  (Image from powerofted dot com)
My wife keeps putting tape over this button on the remote. I don’t understand why. (Image from powerofted dot com)

Despite their constant, random stumbling all around the roof, none of the zombies had thus far managed to fall through the weak spots.  That history changed once the guy inside drew the zombies’ attention by putting a bottle back on a shelf and causing a massive set of shelves of liquor to fall over on him.  True to movies and television, he wasn’t hurt, but his leg was “caught”.   I’ve never pulled a set of shelves over on myself, so I guess it’s possible.

I often wonder how I would manage myself if the world as I knew it ended and the streets were filled with flesh eating zombies.  I don’t know if I’d be able to figure out how to use a crossbow, but I can guarantee those shelves of liquor would not be quite so well stocked.  Before I could make a wise-assed comment to my wife about the overabundance of alcohol, the zombies started falling through the roof.

The world is largely populated with flesh-eaters.  You'd think there'd be a shortage of chianti and fava beans.  (Image from the guardian dot com)
The world is largely populated with flesh-eaters. You’d think there’d be a shortage of chianti and fava beans. (Image from the guardian dot com)

Despite their paper-thin skulls and lack of any sort of balance reactions, most of the falling zombies survived the twenty foot drop onto the concrete floor and came up chomping.  Crossbow Daryl killed one by stomping his head like an over-ripe melon.  Even with craniums like fine china, the zombies manage to have unreal biting power.  One of them caught Young Romeo’s leg and tore a big chunk out of his calf, right through the leg of his blue jeans.  In the spirit of audience participation, readers are encouraged to pause for a minute and go find a pair of Levi’s.  I defy you to bite through the material.

On some less plot-critical points;

It was fabulous luck that the survivors managed to pick a prison with an extensive children’s book selection in their library.

In previous episodes, we’ve watched as survivors go foraging for food anywhere they can find it, but there are one or two cast members who’s anatomy suggests that they are at least partially responsible for the lack of food.  These folks aren’t missing any meals.  They know who they are, enough said.

Some may wonder why I waste my time fussing about a successful TV show.  Who cares, right?  A whine-fest I wrote long ago on The Walking Dead, complained about the lack of untied shoes on zombie feet may have reached the right people.  Camera shots of shuffling feet nearing the rotten parts of the roof, showed zombies wearing untied shoes or missing shoes altogether.  I can only assume that someone in a position of power read my words and made sure to make corrections.  If only they’d conferred with me about the rest of this year’s premier.