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February 2011
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March 2011

Snake on the Town

It's absolutely hiss-terical.

The silliness started about noon yesterday, as @BronxZoosCobra tweeted, "I want to thank those animals in the movie 'Madagascar.' They were a real inspiration."

Since then, the tweeting snake has taken in a Broadway show, hunted Donald Trump, taken a class at Equinox, watched a taping of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, eaten cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery and pranked Peter Alexander of NBC News.

 

Some of my favorites:

• "I do speak Parseltongue, but with a thick Bronx accent."

• "What does it take to get a cab in this city? It's cause I'm not white, isn't it?"

• "Holding very still in the snake exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. This is gonna be hilarious!"

• "Leaving Wall Street. These guys make my skin crawl."

• Upon being invited to a store sale... "If I recognize a single belt..."

• "At the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Temple of Dendur really kicks some asp."

• "A lot of people are asking how I can tweet with no access to a computer or fingers. Ever heard of an iPhone? Duh."

 

Meanwhile, @BronxZookeeper is having a tough day. His day started with, "SHIT." Since then, he has stolen a pedicab, broken his snake net, avoided Union Square, gotten drunk in a pub, stolen nets from Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, pedicabbed over the Brooklyn Bridge and generally been much more foul-mouthed and crankly than the errant serpent.

 

His highlights:

• "Seriously, @BronxZoosCobra. I give you special entrance to the rodent exhibit and this is how you re-pay me? NOT COOL."

• "Which one of you sons of bastards put a Madagascar DVD on my doorstep!"

• "Buying fireworks out of unmarked van in Chinatown. Cobras hate fireworks, didn't you know?"

 

Best exchange:

BronxZoosCobra: "Just FYI, I've had it with Samuel L. Jackson too."

BronxZookeeper: "Bastard won't return my calls."

 

Over the weekend, you see, the real female cobra at the Bronx Zoo escaped and has not been recovered. The real zookeepers believe the snake has not left the reptile house, and are conducting repeated sweeps, lures and traps to coax her out of hiding.

The snake herself says, "Follow me on Twitter. I really don't know how to make it easier than that. Well, I could join FourSquare, I guess." 

As of this writing, the snake has 48,753 followers. Her nemesis has only 2,913. It's all about the snark, man. SNARK, not snake.

And as for that wascally weptile.... fangs for the memories.


Attack of the Snerking Lizards

Contrary to popular belief, I do have a life.

Sometimes that life gets in the way of important television viewing. When I'm working on a new book, preparing for a book release or touring, I get behind. When I'm doing all three at the same time, as I've been doing this month, the Tivo really fills up.

So I may be three weeks behind on V, but that doesn't stop my shock from finding out that....

Um....

This is tough, folks. Really tough.

But V is actually.... good.

Or, it was good. The Feb. 15 episode, "Siege," was tense, emotional and generally fantastic any time Anna's simpering wasn't onscreen. Not that I don't like Morena Baccarin - as any good Browncoat does, I adore her, even though she needs a cheeseburger badly. But Anna's plasticized sneer is pretty annoying in its placid malevolence.

That said, I should have known V was warming up with the recent botched assassination attempt on Anna, and Erica's brilliant decision to order them to go forward... but put herself between the guns and Tyler. The fact that every viewer wants Tyler to die in a hail of bullets, preferably speechless, is beside the point. She's a mom.

But "Siege" took this show to a whole new level, a game-changer that probably has been totally undercut in the ensuing episodes, but as I said, I'm behind. Spoilers ahead!

Ryan the Turncoat Lizard is captured by Eli and the Fifth Column (band name!). Erica shows up to ask him whyyyyy before Eli turns him into a pair of snazzy boots. Ryan tells what should have been blatantly obvious to anyone with a higher IQ than a Hollywood scriptwriter: Anna has his daughter hostage and makes her hurt if he doesn't do what she says. Duh.

Erica is therefore caught in the middle when the FBI shows up and surrounds them a la Ruby Ridge (helped by Anna, gleefully munching gerbil-flavored popcorn on her magic spaceship and sneering at Mommy Dearest in the basement). Because they somehow believe that Erica needs to stay in with the FBI to be useful, even though they never use her FBI contacts, they decide to make Erica their hostage. QED.

Except Ex-Husband Joe decides to be a hero and bust in to save the day, because that's logical. He gets the help of Anna's henchlizards, of course. Now both of Tyler's parents are "hostages," and Anna munches more popcorn. Eli distracts those pesky FBI folks by taking real hostages with suicide bombers, because that never backfires. Eli is not exactly the world's most effective terrorist, but you have to admire his penchant for grand gestures.

This pisses Erica off something awful, because she's still opposed to collateral damage. Speaking of collateral damage, the least-injured character in this ep is the estwhile Father Jack, who gets de-collarized so that he can get chummy with Erica. Okay, it's because he defied the Vatican by saying nasty things about the Visitors. But we know what the writers are really up to. Especially considering how this ends.

Speaking of which, Eli knows this ain't gonna end well, and so he hands the reins of the Fifth Column over to Erica, because she's the only one who knows the words to the songs. And then Ex-Husband Joe seals his doom by kissing Erica and telling her they have so much time to make up for. He's got a real future in Starfleet Security.

So as the hostages get released, Kyle takes over Ryan's role as Official Turncoat by blowing up Ruby Ridge. Somehow Kyle's got somebody he loves that the Visitors have kidnapped and because he trusts them to keep their word, he kills Eli (and maybe Ryan? I missed that) with a giant explosion. Ask Ryan how well that whole scenario works out, Kyle you weasel.

For no explicable reason, the FBI and the Fifth Column start shooting at each other over the heads of the hostages - spurred by henchlizards, maybe? And because I've watched TV before, I was completely expecting Ex-Husband Joe to buy it big-time before Erica's horrified eyes, dying in her arms in the middle of a firefight.

I didn't expect it to be GOOD. For a moment, the cast remembered they were actors. Erica and Tyler damn near broke my heart weeping over the body of the man who rejected them both for the same lying reason, his belief that Tyler wasn't really his son. Of course it happened just as they were reconciling back into a real family, because that's how TV works. Unfortunately, that's sometimes how real life works. Acting! In V! Who knew it was possible?

Extra credit to Erica's New Partner, who I had pegged for the secondary red shirt given the relatively short half-life of Erica's partners. He has a confrontation with Ex-Father Jack (who is at the scene for no earthly reason except to look horrified) and demonstrates his affection for Erica by threatening Ex-Father Jack. I smell weirdness there, and it was really nicely done. Maybe he gets to live a while longer.

Because Tyler is a snotnose who needed a spanking about two seasons ago, this is the final wedge that drives him away from his mother and off to join the V's. Erica slaps him, which he richly deserves, and now he can go hate his mother and mourn his father in the company of the lizards. And Anna's simper reaches new heights.

In short, it was an awesome episode. Every time I almost give up on this show, it pulls me back in, just like the Mafia. And now Erica will really and truly be in charge, which makes the whole thing into a giant Mommy Fistfight between Erica the Good Mom and Anna the Bad Mom for the future of humanity, which is a whole new level of meta.

Now I want to watch the rest of the episodes. If they suck like last season sucked, please don't tell me. For the moment, I want to bask in the glow of actual GOOD science fiction television. It's been so long....


Charlie Sheen upstages the Oscars

Um, The King's Speech won.

Oh come on. It's two days later, it's not a spoiler.

I was live-Tweeting the event instead of blogging, because I was sort of busy with the day job. If you want my snark, drop by @edonald on Twitter – it's still there. In all, a fun show, though it's been entirely sidelined by the slow-motion demolition derby of Charlie Sheen in entertainment news.

People are finding Sheen's cataclysmic craziness funny in an oh-no-he-didn't way. I do not find it funny. I find it awful and sad, because I remember when he could act and did it well. Every time I read about another insane thing he's said or done, I think about Martin Sheen and the way he sat down Aaron Sorkin - his boss - and told him if he needed time to get clean, he and the rest of the crew would shut down The West Wing to give him that time.

I think about the sadness of a father watching his son self-destruct, declaring he loves his son and will help him get clean just as he would help him recover from cancer. And then I think of Sheen's ex-wife, Denise Richards, trying to explain and/or shield their children from the crashdown of a drug addict. And I don't find it funny. So I'm not going to mock Charlie Sheen here, folks. Sorry.

The Oscars, on the other hand, are fair game.

Low Points

The opening sequence. Inserting the hosts into the nominated movies has never been my favorite bit, except when Chris Rock woke up on Brokeback Mountain with Billy Crystal. That was hilarious. This one, not so much, though CultureGeek Jr. loved seeing the DeLorean. (Why was it in the reel? I got nuthin'.)

The director, who didn't let us see Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin dance across the stage. Meanypants.

James Franco. Speculation ran rampant that he was stoned. I couldn't say, but I will say that he wasn't exactly sparkling. As straight man to Hathaway, he was more like a wooden plank – and I know he can act. Perhaps it was simply the terror of hosting the Oscars coupled with his own nomination, but he just wasn't quite there. However, he does look lovely in a pink evening gown.

• Speaking of dresses, why did poor Anne Hathaway have to change dresses so much? I counted seven, not including the tuxedo for the musical number. Okay, I get costume changes for a joke - I still remember Whoopi Goldberg striding out as Elizabeth I and stating grandly, "I am the African Queen." That was awesome. But apart from "let's play with jewel tones" and Hathaway's adorable do-the-twist to make her dress dance like spaghetti, there seemed to be no reason for the poor woman to endure ninja-fast costume changes offstage – complete with total hair redo each time. Those poor ninjas must have been exhausted.

Inception didn't win best director for Christopher Nolan or best picture. It was my dog in the fight, and I thought it was an astounding picture. Netizens were pulling for The Social Network, but the Film Professor was rooting for King's Speech. I reserve calling foul until I see both movies, but at the moment, I feel like the dreamworld was robbed.

The Obit Reel (always a sniffler) excluded Corey Haim, Peter Graves, Rue McClanahan, Lisa Blount, Jean Simmons and Tom Boseley. Last year they left out Farrah Fawcett, Bea Arthur and Brad Renfro, among others. They include agents, business managers and other people nobody outside Hollywood cares about, but Jean Simmons?? I could write a whole column on the chimpanzees on crack who decide who does and does not make the Obit Reel, but I choose to let my blood pressure rest today. RIP.

• Speaking of "wuz robbed," Jeremy Renner lost best supporting actor for The Town, which failed to get anything despite being early Oscar bait. Seriously, is Hollywood's memory that short? (Silly question.) Also: Tangled deserved at least a nomination, if not the win. Let the girls play too, gentlemen.

Christian Bale's beard. Yikes.

 

High points:

Kirk Douglas. What stroke? He flirted shamelessly with Anne Hathaway and then Melissa Leo, who hilariously asked him, "What are you doing later?" He used his cane as a shtick and then Leo took it away from him. Great moment, and Douglas was trending on Twitter for hours afterward. I tried to help along, push him back up to No. 1 with the hashtag #iamspartacus. I'd vote him for next year's host, but the stress might kill him, and the world is a better place with him in it.

• Melissa Leo. Everyone bashed her speech, but you know what? I like it when they're obviously flustered and overwhelmed and forget who to thank. You know why? It means they're real. I don't mind a smartass crack or a political statement (if it's not too obnoxious), and it's fine if they smoothly take out the index card of people they need to thank. But when they lose it, it's because this is the pinnacle of their careers and they know it and we know it too, so quit being such sourpusses. Leo slipped enough to say fuck at the Oscars, and as a veteran of Homicide: Life on the Street, I think she's entitled.

• One of the few high points of Franco's nonperformance (see below) was his comment after Marisa Tomei informed us of the Tech Awards (i.e. Awards Too Boring to Broadcast): "Congratulations, nerds." I giggled much too hard at that.

Anne Hathaway, who was enthusiastic and fun and smartass and all the things we love in a good Oscar host. I particularly loved her Les Miz "serenade" mocking Hugh Jackman for refusing to sing with her, after the terrific Frost/Nixon Tango they did in 2009, and the running gag between them (somebody cast them in a movie, quick!). She wins eight out of ten Billy Crystals - especially for bowing before the famed ex-host when he presented.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, practicing their Odd Couple schtick so artfully performed in the first Sherlock Holmes movie. I love the way these guys bicker. It was awesome. Can we write Law into Iron Man 3? Please?

"He doesn't own a shirt." Hee. And thankfully, the only appearance of Twilight at the Oscars.

• President Obama, who rightfully nominates "As Time Goes By" for the best movie song ever. Look for an in-depth analysis later this week of the socialist-fascist themes inherent in Sam's performance throughout Casablanca...

Aaron Sorkin finally won something. Plus one of the best lines of the night: "Roxie Sorkin, your dad just won an Academy Award. I'm going to insist on some respect from your guinea pig."

The ending, with public-school kids singing us out as the winners gather on stage. Classy, sweet, fun and a good change of pace. Usually it's just one final wisecrack from the host and a quick fade-out to the nightly news, but this was a welcome breath of reality among the plasticized glamour while acknowledging the movie magic that we love, the real reason we watch. All Oscar shows should end that way.

And for next year? Whaddya say, Academy:

Hugh+Jackman+&+Anne+Hathaway