Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

LEAVE, and don’t come back

This blog is defunct.  We’ve moved to:

I switched from (which is a wonderful place to write a blog) to a self-hosted blog.  I am still using WordPress, but I got the install package for WordPress 2.6.

Thanks for visiting – please come see us at our new home.


Chris Penn – My Review

My Review: 7

I’m keeping this post short and silly.  I think that’ s my strong suit anyway.  I was recently thinking about Chris Penn, and how much I miss him.  Not like we were friends or anything, but I think he was great.  I was watching an episode of Entourage recently (I think from season 2) and Chris had a cameo, boxing with Johnny Drama.   I think it was some of the last work he did. 

In my opinion, he was a phenomenally strong actor, woefully underrated, and especially excellent in character roles.  He was known best for his roles in 80’s classic Footloose, and for his role as an under-boss, Nice Guy Eddie, in Reservoir Dogs. But my favorite role for Chris was in Best of the Best, the cheese-filled 90’s karate movie with Eric Roberts and James Earl Jones. 

Chris was the younger brother of the much more famous Sean Penn, though I always liked Chris a lot more, not least because Sean Penn is kind of a douche.  There’s lots more information about Chris Penn available on IMDB, and on Wikipedia.

Hulu, a video website

My Review: 9


I first read about Hulu, as usual, on Techcrunch. I also go my invite to the private Hulu beta back in January by reading an article Mark Hendrickson wrote for Techcrunch.  Many people across the blogosphere have now written about Hulu, largely with good things to say.   I don’t plan to be unique in this instance – I have good things to say too.  Below is a brisk, bulleted battery of reasons why I think Hulu is excellent and likely to be a winner in this space.  Note to developers and Hulu competitors: most of my likes have to do with, you guessed it, user experience.  Try to keep up.

  • Hulu has lots of good content, most importantly: full length movies as well as TV shows
  • Great selections from multiple networks (Fox, NBC, etc.)
  • Fun, old school TV content as well as new / popular content: lots of old school shows like Battlestar Galactica (the original), Knight Rider, and Flipper 🙂
  • Incredible Selection of full length movies
  • User Interface and User Experience:
    • The in screen player shows video in very high quality
    • There is a full screen mode, still very good quality
    • There is a pop-out player, so you can arrange your desktop as you like – the pop-out size is adjustable
    • Outstanding memory features: I watched 1 1/2 hours of a movie, and then had to close my computer.  I came back the next day and as soon as I logged into Hulu, it the movie restarted from the exact same spot where I had stopped
  • Queues and Favorites – you can easily set up a list of favorites or shows / movies that you want to watch


The site is clean, easy to navigate, and well thought out.  There are some basic social features, for instance you can set up a profile with your favorite shows, movie, books and music.  And you can rate content as you watch it, and see feedback from other users.  I’ve used many other video sites before, like Veoh, Daily Motion,  and obviously YouTube.  None of them even come close to Hulu in terms of content variety, content quality, or user experience.  Huge thumbs up and a resounding 9 out of 10.

Big Bang Theory Theme Song

My Review: 8

CBS recently started airing a television sitcom called The Big Bang Theory. The show centers on two physicists living in LA; both are nerdy and socially stunted. They live next door to a very attractive woman, and shenanigans ensue. The show is actually pretty funny, but it is not the subject of this review.


Rather, I wanted discuss the theme song for the show. The first time I heard it I said to myself “that sounds like the Barenaked Ladies.”

1962133.jpg bnl_bigbang_loressm.jpg

And I was right. BNL wrote and performed the song which describes the development of the Universe and the human race in one minute and forty-five seconds. I love BNL and have since I was 16 and Sol played Gordon for me for the first time. (Gordon is their first album, and probably still their best.)


So I decided I really wanted the song. I searched around a bit, but I couldn’t find it on iTunes or on my favorite Russian site. Then I remembered that my good friends at Amie Street had struck up a deal with BNL to sell their music through the site. Sure enough, I found the song there. Currently it is selling for $0.83. I believe I bought it for $0.79. The Amie Street model is a market-driven one; all songs start at $0.00 and each time they are purchased the price goes up a little bit, until it reaches the maximum price of $0.99. I love Amie Street.

I think the song is awesome. It reminds me of their older, more goofy style (similar to what you find on Gordon.) Today they are a very slick pop band. The music is still good, but I miss the more laid-back silly style. The song also reminds me a little bit of They Might Be Giants’s pseudo-educational music, songs like Mammals and Why Does The Sun Shine.

I uploaded the song to my box – if you look to the widget in the right hand column you will be able to listen to it. It is fast paced and the lyrics come rapidly. The content is fun and funny. I think the song deserves and 8 out of 10. So that is my rating. Listen and enjoy.

Unexpected Film Roles for Jews – Part 1

My Review: 9

“Hallo. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

Many of us have heard that line hundreds of times. He says it a total of six times throughout the movie, and I’ve seen the movie at least 27 times… you do the math. But did you know that Mandy Patinkin is the actor who plays Inigo? Further, did you know that Mandy Patinkin is Jewish?


Mandy Patinkin is an Emmy and Tony award winning Jewish actor, singer and entertainer. He loves to sing and perform Yiddish songs and theater, and has published books on Yiddish culture. He has performed on Broadway. Recently (in the last few years) he has starred in a prime time television series called Criminal Minds. A few weeks ago he left the show, but his work there was excellent as well. Wikipedia has a good overview of his career and personal life, and there is no need for me to re-write here. Though it is cool that he was a classmate of Kelsey Grammer’s at Juilliard.


It is hard to see him acting today, in various roles, and not hear the faux-Spanish accent coming out of his mouth. I am so primed to see his scarred visage in the role of the greatest swordsman in the world. But it was even crazier when I found out that he was Jewish. It just never occurred to me that the actor playing Inigo might be Jewish. I suppose that’s why they call it acting – the person in the role does not need to be anything like the character they are portraying. Maybe it’s about association. I first saw Topol in Fiddler on the Roof, so now I think of him as Jewish and a Jewish actor. If I had first seen him in Flash Gordon, as Dr. Hans Zarkov – he might have made it into this series.


In my next edition of Unexpected Film Roles for Jews, I will tell you about a villainous, dirty culprit from many of your favorite familiar Westerns. Stay tuned.



My Review: A Brutal 9

A friend at work turned me onto a cartoon on Adult Swim, it’s called: Metalocalypse.


This show is awesome. It’s about a fictional metal band called Dethklok – they’re the greatest metal band ever and “represent the 12th largest economy in the world.” They are forever in search ways to make the world more “metal.” The lead singer, Nathan Explosion wants all of their music to be as “brutal” as possible.

The bassist (William Murderface) and drummer (Pickles) as well as the lead singer (Explosion) are all American. The other two members are Scandinavian: Toki Wartooth (2nd fastest guitarist in the world and group punching bag) is from Norway. Skwisgaar Skwigelf (the fastest guitarist in the world) is from Sweden.


In the show, fans of Dethklok are routinely maimed and killed – they sign “Pain Waivers” to release the band of all liability. In the first episode a giant metal box containing the band is dropped from a helicopter and crushes dozens of concert attendees when it misses the landing pad. Brutal.

I don’t want to focus on describing the show – there’s a Wikipedia entry that gives a good synopsis, and you can always join the official Dethklok MySpace page if you want to be friends with Nathan, Murderface, and the guys and learn more about them.


No, what I want to focus on is how much fun this show is to watch. Even if you don’t like Metal music it’s pretty cool. The plot lines are ridiculous, and that’s what makes them awesome. From recording an album under water (at the bottom of the Marianas Trench) to an interview with a thinly veiled Larry King (who dies in the course of the interview) the shows are sick, funny, and fun. They are bloody, raucous affairs that only last 11 minutes with no commercials, so even the worst ADD TV addict can still enjoy them.

Veoh has quite a few of the episodes up and available if you want to watch. One of my favorites (where we meet the band members families) is up here. I think you should watch it and judge for yourself. But I am of the opinion that this show kicks butt. It’s brutal. It’s metal. I think I’m in love.