Thursday, August 21, 2014

10+ Favorite Simpsons Episodes

I was happier than I perhaps should have been about realizing I do indeed get FXX on my Cable system.  Tomorrow begins the massive marathon showing of every Simpsons episode ever.

I was a fan.  Still am, I reckon, though it's been at least five years since I've watched regularly, and probably more.  The show stopped being appointment television somewhere around season 10, truthfully, and stopped being DVR worthy somewhere around season 14 or 15.  (And yeah, I kept watching out of some odd loyalty even after that).

It's hard to say what's changed, necessarily.  Different writers, mostly.  A lack of understanding behind the keys to Homer's humor (the transition from mostly well-intentioned oaf to just a jerkass) and a need to give way to the cutaway style of Family Guy (hey, we'll mention an odd concept, and then show said ridiculous concept in action immediately after since your Mountain Dew reduced attention span can't remember a concept...).

Your best bet for the Simpsons marathon will likely come in the first three or four days of the marathon.  Still, there's interesting stuff here and there beyond....

So, in alphabetical order, my top 10+ favorite Simpsons episodes:

22 Short Films About Springfield, Season 7, 4/14/1996

Seymour!  The house is on fire!
No, Mother.  It's just the Northern Lights.

And Maggie Makes Three, Season 6, Original Airdate 1/22/1995

Winter/Spring 1995 was a good one for Simpsons.  This is one of Homer's best, and I think best exemplifies who he is.  Best Gag:  Homer drumming up business for the bowling alley.  I suggest copying his idea for my store at least twice a year....

Bart gets an Elephant, Season 5, Original Airdate 3/31/1994

Another well quoted episode.  Homer's cruelty speech.  First appearance of Cletus.  I love that.  Reminds me of elephants....

Bart vs. Australia, Season 6, Original Airdate 2/19/1995

This one is the opposite of Family Guy humor.  A lot of okeydoke misdirection.  Again, didn't realize the air mattress gag referenced something else until reading bill Bryson's book on Australia...

The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson,  Season 9,  Original Airdate 9/21/1997

This one grew on me.  I think it was Homer's homemade car that put this one over the top.

Homer at the Bat, Season 3, Original Airdate 2/20/1992

Baseball and the Simpsons.  The favorite wavers, but this might be my favorite episode at the moment.

Homer's Barbershop Quartet, Season 5, Original Airdate 9/30/1993

I still sing songs from this episode.  And Barney's toothpick gag still gets a laugh.  Every time.

Homer's Enemy, Season 8, Original Airdate 5/4/1997

I like this one because I've been in both Homer's and Grimey's shoes.  Homer's power plant model is a thing of beauty, too.

Homer Goes to College, Season 5, Original Airdate 10/14/1993

Damn.  I was 16 when this one came on.  I've used Homer's description of hiding under a pile of coats to describe a co-worker or two....

Homie the Clown, Season 6   Original Airdate 2/12/1995

I think this might be the episode I quote most for the line:  those pants were supposed to be baggy!  That, and the Joe Valachi gag, which I didn't realize was a real thing until much later....

Hungry, Hungry Homer, Season 12, Original Airdate 3/4/01

Dancing away my hunger pangs...

Marge vs. the Monorail, Season 4, Original Airdate 1/14/1993

Another one that gets me singing.  Leonard Nimoy.  I call the big one Bitey.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Had to delete a post where I was not clear about a point in Ferguson, and it sounded like I was defending the actions of the police.  I'd like that clear:  I'm not at all condoning the killing of an unarmed person.  That's wrong, and to my mind there needs to be accountability there.  My point was that both sides of the argument have some right, and a lot wrong in this situation.  And there needs to be a lot of accountability on both sides. With the community, and with the police.  Absolutely.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The listens, this day, 13 August 2014

If you'll forgive my saying so, it's a fucking beautiful morning in my little corner of East Tennessee.  It's my first day off in a week.  I took advantage of the morning to take a walk.  I'd intended to start the Jeff Shaara Civil War book I'd downloaded off Audible (takes place in and around Chattanooga), but instead popped on the music.  It was a good walk:

"Love Roller Coaster"        Red Hot Chili Peppers
"15 Million Light Years Away"       Shooter Jennings
"Maxine"      The Traveling Wilburys
"Say It Ain't So"      Weezer
"In the Hearts of Men"        First Aid Kit
"Hide Me"         Hayes Carll
"Radio Gaga"      Queen
"Holy Roller (Hallelujah)     Portugal, the Man
"the Organ Donor's March"       Kim Boekbinder
"Put Down that Weapon"      Midnight Oil
"Under African Skies"     Paul Simon
"Wilting Flower"       Ten Bartram
"Play the Game"      Queen

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams

Robin Williams died yesterday.  A stocker told me.  I sat down to drink a bottle of water, and thumbed my way through the Twitter, hoping a lot more than I'd have thought that it was a twitter hoax.

A conversation at work among several folks had us trying to create a consensus around several actors and actresses in the broad term of whether or not they were funny.  We said we needed a chart.  There was debate, and many of us came away appalled at the opinions of others.  Benjamin made himself a pariah by stating he was not a fan of Bill Murray's.  A name that didn't bring as much debate as I'd have thought was Robin Williams.

Personally?  I had mixed feelings. I thought he could be a camera hog, and that his volume came from the school where loud = funny, but ultimately I liked him.  I especially liked the silly.  But I also appreciated the dark place his humor came from.

Shyam and I talked about it Sunday night.  In recent months, I've wandered across Death to Smoochy and Insomnia.  I enjoyed both, especially the latter.  I considered both a small attempt at Robin to look into that dark place that his humor came from.

I also caught Jack on tv one afternoon after getting off from work.  It's not a great movie, but I always enjoy watching Bill Cosby ham it up.  I could also note that the flick was the genesis of a crush I carried for Jennifer Lopez for a time.  I was especially struck at what a perfect role it seemed to be for Robin Williams.  A guy who, at 40+, still had the ability...or the play, to be silly.

It's not a great movie.  Flawed in many ways.  If you haven't seen it, Robin plays the titular character as a 10-year-old whose aging process is sped up.  10-year-old mind in a 40-year-old body.  IMDB lists Tom Hanks as the first choice to play the part, but I gotta say that Robin seemed to be the embodiment of that spoken ideal.

I hadn't seen the movie in years...maybe since it came out for rental in 1996 or 1997.  I watched, and was struck by the school scenes.  By Jack walking alone on the playground.  

I think my favorite scene was Bill Cosby, as Jack's tutor, trying to keep Jack's attention, as he is distracted by the boys his own age.  Jack wanting to fit in, and reaching out in the only way he knew being weird.

I hated to hear about Robin's death, especially since it's reported he's taken his own life.  Given that Shyam's and my conversation about the dark place his humor came from came the night before.  It resonated as I sat in the office at work.

I didn't think it'd feel like a punch to the sternum.  But it did.

Thanks, Robin.  Thanks for the silly.

I wish it had gone down differently.

I would like to share this, from Rob Delaney, who is also silly (but quite correct in this) right here:  On Depression and Getting Help

A few favorites....mostly for the silly:

(I still love Baron Munchausen, which I watched a month or so ago as part of my Big Stupid was another flick perfectly suited to Williams.  Everybody is in a scenery chewing contest in that movie.  Loud, colorful.  Perfect for Robin....)

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Big Stupid Tommy's Mindlessly Stupid Project

In the mornings, I watch movies or TV on DVD as I get ready for work.  It's just a habit I've gotten into.  I've found that, for some reason, watching the news or Sportscenter tends to slow me down.  I'll stop what I'm doing to watch a highlight, or catch a weather report.  If it's a movie or a TV show I've seen, I'll just follow along aurally as I go about the business of finding just the right pair of boxer shorts to go along with the black pants, socks, white t-shirt and green, blue or white dress shirt that I wear every day of my life.

Or so it seems.

Please excuse the free floating hostility.  Your old pal Tommy's working like a botard again.

Anyway.  I watch movies or TV.  Usually it's old favorites.  I go in series.  The Star Wars flicks.  The Star Trek flicks.  Harry Potter.  Or by director.  Kevin Smith.  Mel Brooks.  Wes Anderson.  Or, I'll go with a TV show.  Amazon had a good deal on the whole Seinfeld series earlier this year.  I watched those.  Seinfeld was trouble, because there were episodes, especially in seasons 8 and 9, that I hadn't seen since that show's original run, and in one case, never.  Those sometimes slowed me down, made me late.

Should I mention that it's all DVD, in the mornings?  I can't stream Netflix to the bedroom TV (old house, old TV, not worth the effort, when I can watch Netflix in the living room, or on the computer, or on the Kindle or on my phone so much more easily).  So, I just pop a DVD in the player.  I press stop when I need to.

Occasionally, the picking of the next watch became an issue.  I'd stand there at my DVD/BluRay shelf, staring at the 450 or so movies and the 75 or so seasons of TV shows I've accumulated in the 14 years or so I've had a DVD or BluRay player, and just be completely unable to make a quick choice.

Which was stupid, I decided.  I wasn't picking something to sit and watch.  I was picking familiar stuff for background noise.  So, I just decided to go in order.

I'm not too anal about much.  But, I do keep my movies in alphabetical order.  Just easier, that way.

As such?  Easy to pick an order.

I've been on this particular project for a couple months now.  Most flicks, it takes about 3 days to watch.  Usually, it'll run for a half hour in the mornings, and maybe another 15 minutes at night.  Some movies have ended up not taking as long.  There have been a couple flicks that I'd forgotten their charms, and ended up moving them from the bedroom TV to the big TV to give them their proper attention.

Most of what I've watched?  Pretty familiar stuff.  But, there were a couple movies I put into the DVD player, remotely curious as to what exactly made me pick that particular movie up.  So far, both movies made me remember what I liked about them.  This will be a long post, because I want to say a couple words about each movie.  A couple flicks might even warrant longer posts.  

Anyway....what I've seen so far?

8 Heads in a Duffel Bag   (1997, D: Schulman)

Not a great flick, by any stretch of the imagination. I could never find a way to argue such. Still, it's not a bad flick, for a ham handed dark comedy, where Joe Pesci doesn't lapse into parody so much as he wallows in it.  I like it for individual performances.  Pesci, David Spade and Andy Comeau both make me smile.  I think I saw Comeau in a cell phone commercial not long ago....

13th Warrior    (1999, D: McTiernan)

I love this movie.  I have always loved this movie, from the day that I saw it one late summer afternoon on a day off from work.  This is a movie best seen on a cloudy winter day.  I watched it on a summer morning in June.  Yeah.  Hammy.  But I love ham.

28 Days Later   (2002, D: Boyle)

I hadn't watched this one in five or six years, if not longer.  It's not a bad movie, but outside of Brendan Gleeson (making Tommy's Movie Shelf Appearance #1) and Christopher Eccleston, there's not a lot in this movie that I really enjoyed.  The next time I do a cull of what I own, this one probably won't make the cut.

30 Days of Night   (2007, D: Slade)

Another I hadn't watched in a while. Except for the fact that it wasn't wrapped in cellophane, there isn't much that makes me think I'd watched this since I saw it in the theater. That said?  I liked this movie. Plus, I've had some time to get past my "Ugh, this guy again?" thing with Josh Hartnett.

the 40-year-old Virgin   (2005, D: Apatow)

I've gone sour on Apatow's stuff.  In fact, I'd really felt like I'd watch this, and end up taking to trade at McKay's or just donating to Goodwill.  Still, there's a heart to this one.  Somehow, outside of an odd scene or two (waxing scene...), there wasn't much that sounded particularly flat to my ear.  I ended up especially liking the stuff with Steve Carell and Kat Dennings, and Steve Carell having to bail Romany Falco's character out of a tight spot with his girlfriend was still good.  Not an A-movie, but still my favorite of Apatow's stuff....

61*    (2001, D: Crystal)

I hadn't watched this one in a little while.  I can remember calling this one a favorite baseball movie way back in the early days of my Blogamathing.  I still liked it well enough, but I don't put it in my top 5, nowadays.  Pepper's good, and Anthony Michael Hall and Bruce McGill are fun as Whitey Ford and Ralph Houk.  Somehow, I couldn't quite cotton to Thomas Jane drawling his way around this flick. 

300    (2006, D: Snyder)

As much as I want to sneer about Zach Snyder, I own four of his flicks.  He knows how to translate and create a visual for the big screen.  I ended up putting this one on the big TV, with the sound on mute, and listening to Metallica's S&M album.

1941   (1979, D: Spielberg)

I can't call this one a great movie, but I admire its scope and ambition.  Still, I think it's worth noting that I wouldn't have paid much more than the $1.95 I did for it.  It's got ham.  I think we've established that I like a nice hammy comedy, every now and then.   This movie features Dub Taylor appearance #1.

2012    (2009, D: Emmerich)

I like movies with Destructo.  Show me a National Landmark being destroyed, and people running from it in your trailer?  I'll be there on opening day.  (At this writing, Into the Storm is opening later in the week, and I'll be there with bells on).  As Destructo Movies go?  Lots of it.  Still, it's a badly paced mess.  It's almost like Emmerich wants to channel Altman in his flicks, but doesn't quite understand the need for chemistry or even good words to put into their mouths.  There's much cringeworthy here.  Still, I'll pop it into the DVD player once a year.  Another one maybe to put on headphones and watch.

Adventures in Babysitting    (1987, D: Columbus)

Another cheap purchase, picked up after a conversation with Shyam about Vincent D'Onofrio.  Prior to that conversation, I was unaware (or I'd forgotten) that he plays the mechanic in this flick.  I'd forgotten much about this movie.  Major plot points, I remembered, but the one-armed mechanic?  Or Penelope Ann Miller's adventures in the bus station?  Completely forgot. Nice nostalgic rush when the "don't fuck with the babysitter" line pops in there.  My folks had a conniption when they heard that line while 11-year-old me and 7-year-old sister watched and laughed.....

Adventures of Baron Munchausen   (1988, D: Gilliam)

Until I saw Brothers Grimm, I always said Terry Gilliam would never have to apologize for anything he did.  This one isn't a great movie, but I love its fairy tale energy, the huge colors, the seeming scenery-chewing competition that erupts.  Oddly?  I like Sarah Polley's ability to ground the larger-than-life characters.

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence    (2001, D: Spielberg)

Didn't really know how well I'd like this one.  I've always considered it a meandering mess.  Still, there are plenty of creepy visuals.  This movie contains Brendan Gleeson Movie Shelf Appearance #2)

Alien    (1979, D: Scott)

Damn, but this a beautifully put together movie.  Scary as hell, still.  I'm a bit claustrophobic, and this is one of the movies that makes me need to go out and take a walk in an open area after I watch.  I ended up putting this one on the big TV.  Because it deserves it.  I hadn't sat to watch in a couple years, which is a pity.  Every time I watch, it vaults back up into my personal top 20.  (Also a pity?  I owned Aliens, at some point, and I couldn't say where it is.  I don't know if I lent it to Dad during his convalescence a couple years back, or I've lent it to someone else.  I need to rectify this situation.  It is also great, but for completely different reasons).

the Alamo   (2004, D: Hancock)

Another movie I would not own except for the fact I found it at a closing Hollywood Video for two dollars. And if I judged on the basis of performances from Dennis Quaid, Patrick Wilson and Jason Patric, I would probably have overpaid by nearly $1.91.  Still, there's something I like about Billy Bob Thornton's Davy Crockett.  Billy Bob seems best in roles where he's ill-at-ease with public perception.  And the cheesy fiddle scene?  Yeah.  I like ham.

Apocalypto   (2006, D: Gibson)

Had to put this one on the big TV.  It's not an aurally friendly movie, if you're trying to get ready for work.  I like this flick.  Gibson's a raving, racist lunatic with a persecution complex.  That man against the world vibe works in his favor in this flick.

the Aristocrats    (2005, D: Provenza)

I hadn't watched this in years.  Maybe since I first bought it.  Made me want to try standup again.

Army of Darkness   (1992, D: Raimi)

Heh heh heh.  This one is still so much fun.  Boom Stick.

Arsenic and Old Lace    (1944, D: Capra)

Cary Grant has maybe the best double take in all of cinematic history.  

The Avengers    (2012, D: Whedon)

You know, the logistics of making this movie are still amazing to me.  Good on Marvel for getting this one done, and done well.  I still get a Fan Boy grin whenever the heroes are in a circle for the first time.


I'm going to end this particular post here.  The baseball game I'm watching is going off, and my butt's tired.  Currently, I am watching Bridge on the River Kwai.  Between Avengers and that one, there's maybe 15 more movies to write a quick capsule'll come....