In Defense Of The “Bottle Episode”

imageWatch me do it, little man!

Thanks to Aspire TV, I’ve been introduced to something that I didn’t know existed: The Bill Cosby Show.

No, not the 80’s hit that reminded everyone that black people could be on TV too. And no, not the bad “Cosby” trainwreck that followed. Nor do I mean some variety or talk show or anything with “Fat” in the title. Not ringing any bells? Don’t feel bad – I was pretty surprised myself. In this early 70’s sitcom sans laugh track, Cos plays Chet, a Los Angeles phys ed teacher in a multiracial school taught by ethnically diverse teachers. He’s an everyman who gets into shenanigans with sprinkles of ballyhoo and balderdash. It ran for only a couple seasons because it’s an average show at best. Anyway, now we know.

On today’s show, Chet, the school cleaning lady, and Henry Fonda (playing a teacher) fall into tomfoolery and get stuck in an elevator. That’s where the whole episode takes place. That’s an example of a bottle episode. When you’re trying to save money on your series, now and again you’ll produce a bottle episode because they cut down on set building, location shooting and time. Now we know.

Wikipedia is here to help:
“The etymology of the phrase originates with a similar term used on the set of the original 1960s-era Star Trek . Cast and crew members of the show use the phrase ‘ship-in-a-bottle episodes’ for episodes that took place only on board the Starship Enterprise.”

Sounds like a cool scheme but they can sometimes catch a bad rap. Discerning viewers might consider it lazy or a cop out. In a certain light, a bottle episode from your favorite show might make you feel cheated. And you are if it’s badly written. That’s the trick with these things – you have to make sure you can make 30 minutes to an hour in one space interesting. “Seinfeld” was exceptionally good at this. Everybody points to “The Chinese Restaurant” as their best but I think “The Parking Garage” is better.

Furthermore, these challenges have been known to produce exquisite works. Star Trek’s “Balance Of Terror,” The X-Files’ “Ice,” Community’ “Remedial Chaos Theory” were arguably the shows’ best outings. Hell, almost every time Community does it, it scores! See “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” and “Cooperative Calligraphy.” They are masterpieces.

Even movies can do it. All of “Crimson Tide” is in a submarine. “The Breakfast Club” did it and most of “Speed” is on a bus. Truth is, I think most b.e.’s are pretty good. They offer a lot of exercise for the actors and writers and little for the rest of the contributors, and that’s okay. The bulk of my creative respect goes to writing anyway, but it’s that wonderful acting performance that makes the words come alive. Just check out Breaking Bad’s tour du force “Fly.” You’ll see.

So I’m not going to rattle off a ton of examples about bottle episodes and why each individual production is cool. That’s what Google is for. But I will go so far as to say that Lois and Clark’s “Ghosts” might be the worst bottle episode ever made.

Okay that’s no way to defend b.e.’s. Let’s rename this “In Defense Of The Bottle Episode Except That One.” Pure trash.

That Time Windows XP Got Ditched At The Mall By Its Parents

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Well that’s that. Microsoft has officially kiboshed their interest in their basic, yet wholly functional stepchild. Once the shining star of PC majesty, the dodo bird preserve is being abandoned. Their keepers are packing up, moving on, and directing their energies toward the cultivation of much prettier pets. Pets like unicorns…griffins…exotic animals with noble strides and deafening roars, i.e. the future obsolete. And so it goes; alright, alright, alright.

Do we care? People like myself who just web- slide around on the same internet bobsled until the damn thing begins to gain friction and all the paint chips off – do we care? Will this hamper our mobility along the information superhighway? Will the Facebook statuses get shorter? Will leaked photos of Scarlett Johansson’s naked breasts become inaccessible? Probably not, but on the same accord, the free AbiWord won’t magically turn into the advanced Microsoft Word and Avira damn sure won’t become Norton either.

So what’s to become of the dodo bird? Well, with no one to nurture it, it just goes along on its un-merry way. There will be no updates and no cures for new sicknesses. It becomes locked in time, unable to die but not allowed to prosper. And what is Microsoft’s answer to those of us who either like dodo birds, or are just complacent with having them around? Buy Windows 8! Fly! Fly on the back of the mystical winged horse and experience the wonders of saying goodbye to the START menu! For just $120, you too can make your laptop look like a tablet.

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The writing’s on the wall: evolve or die. Sure, I’ll take your horse flying lessons. If I ever get a job, that is. $120 may as well be a million bucks to the unemployed. But in the meantime, there are ways around change. Not to sound like I’m anti-progress here, but if they’re cutting my system’s healthcare plan, I’ll improvise. Malwarebytes gets regular malware updates to combat the new roaming cancers. Spybot and SUPERantiSpyware do a good job shoo-ing Peeping Toms and my external drive keeps me relieved in case this neglected old bastard just up and dies. So yeah, there are ways around the end of the world. The most important way being that losing support for XP isn’t really going to make much difference to anyone anyway. I mean, it was called the “Dodo Bird” for a reason. Kinda like Bozo the Clown – he wasn’t Bozo the Scientist, now was he? Fuck this bird.

 

Characters From Television Who Wouldn’t Miss Us.

ArchieNah. Too easy.

When you’re as obsessed with TV as I am (there I said it), strange things pop into your head. Things like ranking the women from “B.J. and the Bear” in terms of hotness and imagining a dogfight between Airwolf and Blue Thunder. Recently while thinking back on old episodes of “Dallas,” I wondered if J.R. would just be happier in life if no one else was around. My answer to my own question was “no” because then he’d have no one to pull diabolical schemes on. This abstract thought mutated into something more befitting a man with tons of time on his hands: What TV characters would benefit from being around less people? Or, if no one was around, would this person even give a shit?

Below are a few candidates to this foolishness. And I’m wholly open to further suggestions. Movie characters don’t count. As in, Hannibal or Norman Bates – TV people who originated from film.

carl

Carl Brutananadilewski

Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s disgruntled neighbor would do just fine without us, and he’d be especially happy to see the end of the boys next door. This master pervert knows he’s way too gross to be around, so he’s got no desire for a relationship. He’d be fine in life with just some porn and the occasional hooker call.

Data2366

Data

Yes, the android from Star Trek:TNG. He’s got no emotions (on the show) so he wouldn’t get lonely. In fact, if all other life were wiped out, Data would probably get more shit done. Here is a YouTube video that goes well with my topic.

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Morgan Jones

One of The Walking Dead’s best characters and you only see him in a couple episodes. Well that’s because he’s insane. And he’s built up an immunity to giving a fuck. And knowing that you can’t trust anyone during a zombie apocalypse makes him the smartest crazy person on TV.

burt c

Burt Cooper

“Mad Men’s” only real paternal figure walks aimlessly through life, all shoeless and clueless. This guy goes to work every day and no one notices because he hasn’t done shit for six seasons but get paid. If everyone just disappeared, he wouldn’t notice. He’d go to work, stare at the painting in his office for eight hours, then go home. Every day. This could probably be due to his missing testicles. In which case, I don’t blame him for giving up.

house 3 needle

Doctor House

Because he’s a dick, that’s why. He’s a mean piece of garbage. If he could have a whole city block to himself, with no responsibility or person to get on his nerves, Housey would just sit at home and do drugs all day with zero repercussions. He hates everyone and everything. Even the people he likes, he hates.

grizzly

Grizzly Adams

This man was happy living his everyman frontier life until a murder framing sent him hiding in the woods. And he liked it! With wild animals as his new best friends and the random encounter with an old guy named Mad Jack, Grizzles ended up doing better without us! Hell, one could even argue that Mad Jack was a figment of his imagination.

scrooge

Scrooge McDuck

Face it, as long as he’s got his stacks of money to roll around in, we could all go to hell for all he cares. His isn’t a story of misanthropy – it’s one of indifference. Cash > people. Just look at him up there making out with a handful of singles. I don’t even want to think what he does to Benjamins.

beavis550

Beavis and Butthead

Ever see the show? These two morons only seem to notice when the other one isn’t there. So as long as they can goof off as a pair, nobody else need exist. They can get through an entire day just throwing trash cans at each other. I’ve seen these clowns be on the verge of saving someone from mortal danger, wander off distracted and leave the bastard to die. Do the math.

TimeEnoughAtLast

Henry Bemis

From the amazing Twilight Zone episode “Time Enough at Last,” bookworm Bemis hides in a vault at his bank job so that he can read without anyone bothering him. So when WWIII happens and humanity bombs itself back into the stone age, Bemis sat pretty inside the protective confines of the vault. When he emerges to find Earth all FUBAR’d, the only thing on his mind is tearing ass to the library. If he spent one second saying “Oh no! The world is over! Oh God, the poor people!” it was a fast second. This joker was glad to see us go.

Now, I’m no genius – in fact, I’m far from it and this blog is proof. But I think this is a pretty comprehensive list, and if I missed anyone, I need to know. Don’t feel sheepish about adding that two cents.  Sharing is caring!

My Twilight Zone Series Review

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I thought I saw them all as a kid, but lately found out how very wrong I was after marathoning the hell out of the series thanks to Netflix and boredom. In fact, thank goodness for Netflix and boredom because I missed some awesome episodes.

Overall, the series is a winner. It stands bravely in the face of unforgiving years and creator Rod Serling’s writing still manages to amaze and surprise in most cases. There were times when I’d figured out the plot and denouement within the first couple minutes, making it a very boring viewing. Yet, there were other times, as with the creepy “After Hours,” that kept me guessing up until the end.

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Standout episodes in the series include “To Serve Man,” a story about alien inv…uh, visitation; “Time Enough At last,” with Burgess Meredith; the very unsettling “The Hitchhiker;” and the terrorizing “Living Doll,” starring Kojack himself. Part of the fun is seeing well established and retired actors show up in black and white with bright baby faces, like Burt Reynolds and Robert Redford. Conversely, you will see aging actors taking final bows, such as Buster Keaton. All in the same crazy series chock full of martians, space travel, hell breaking loose…absolute FEAR..

But they weren’t afraid to experiment and take chances. From hackneyed depictions of the future to outright soapbox preachy-ness, one could even consider the series as a trailblazer in showing what and what NOT to do. It’s safe to assume that, despite the writing, shooting some episodes on video to cut costs was a dismal failure. Indeed, the very last episode suffers from a case of the “fuck its”  where Scout from “To Kill A Mockingbird” plays a little girl with a crumbling home life. When the outside shoot had to be voiced over due to technical difficulties, they decided it would cost too much to fly her back to Hollywood, so her lines were dubbed by June Foray. So, sometimes the little girl sounds like Scout, other times she sounds like Rocky the Flying Squirrel from the Bullwinkle show. Not kidding.

The series also failed at producing two very important elements: funny scripts and showcasing minorities. Not even the comedy timing of Carol Burnett in “Cavender Is Coming” could float the terribly unfunny ship that had to resort to goofy music cues to tell the audience when to laugh. And despite the importance of entries like, “The Big Tall Wish,” we didn’t get any others with an all-black cast. This quote from Serling makes me feel like he’s not at fault for that:

“Television, like its big sister, the motion picture, has been guilty of the sin of omission… Hungry for talent, desperate for the so-called ‘new face,’ constantly searching for a transfusion of new blood, it has overlooked a source of wondrous talent that resides under its nose. This is the Negro actor.”

But, the series is legendary because of its triumphs. It spawned a movie and 1990’s revival. And though the comeback was unsuccessful, it gave us the fine sequel to the epic “It’s A Good life” starring original key cast members. So if you’re not revisiting this fantastic series or checking it out for the first time out of curiosity, then you’re missing out on a great example of TV’s strong childhood.

The Pros And Cons Of Cosplay

halo___green_and_blue_by_hyokenseisou_cosplay-d63amppHyokenseisou Cosplay – Halo Green & Blue

I stopped collecting comic books eons ago but I’ll never stop loving superheroes. I love the very thought of them entering my reality. And that’s pretty doable because my reality is fantasy.

That’s why I appreciate costume play, “cosplay” for short. No, it’s not some fetish practice, just play acting that ultra geeks indulge in.

Not only do I admire anyone who nerds out hard enough to dress in a costume, but when the work is done well, you need just that much less suspension of disbelief. It’s magic.

dhalsimDhalsim from “Street FIghter”

Problem is, attention seekers see that target market as prey and swoop in for sexy kills. Lots of female cosplayers aren’t lovers of the genre at all, but mere hotbodies who squeeze their physiques into hero garb and post photos to the adoration of the gullible.

Though there are two sides to every story, I’ve never met one woman who didn’t love an onslaught of compliments. But said predators will not only sell prints of themselves to these doofuses, but accept showers of gifts from them. It’s an old scam – cutie is nice to a sucker and the sucker is putty in her hands. And as much as I sound like I’m blaming the ladies on this, I’m not. I blame the losers falling for their bullshit.

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Many of these girls fall into common debate topics of “is she or isn’t she a true geek?” None of that matters to me, but there’s unfairness in a paid cutie doing it for the money and drool, versus a true geek girl working her ass off at the sewing machine day and night out of artistic passion.

unnamedMad dope skillz, yo.

And it goes even deeper. Deeper because real women don’t look like comic book women. These chicks stay in the gym and will find big bucks to buy big boobs to fit that cantilevered image. Big timers like Liz Katz and Jessica Nigri found “fame” in bought mammaries and pressing them together for the cosplay camera. Again…no hating the players.

jess boobskatz

With the go-go bar “give me gifts and attention and I’ll tease you to death” trade of foolishness, are nuggets of gold worth digging for. There’s some truly great work shining through, and the dedicated get the occasional spotlights on sites like Geeks Are Sexy. And yes, as exploitative as it is, another upside is getting to see a shitload of skin…

Yuna (3)

Epic Yuna cos from Final Fantasy.

Here are my top five favorite cosplays of all time:

5. Master le turned cosplay on its ear a couple years back with his insane War Machine gear, with fully functional features such as the flip-up helmet. It’s a thing of beauty.

war

4. laura lunardi went somewhere few boldly go with this Domino showstopper. As a big Domino fan, I’d love to see more of her depictions but this one is almost impossible to beat.

laura lunardi - domino

3. “Battle-scarred Power Girl” by Eve Beauregard is an inventive idea from a very creative woman. She’s got skills on top of skills and never fails to deliver a great design. Power Girl is overdone by the busty players and I love how Eve put her own spin on it.

Eve Beauregard - Power Gir1

2. VampyBitMe has put together some kickass “gender-swap” displays like this Punisher and her equally notable Nightwing. She’s no stranger to stripping down (mostly) for the camera, but that never foreshadows her true talents. Give her a Google.

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1. This Ani-Mia doing her Serah cosplay and it’s my absolute favorite in the game. Some of the ideas she comes up with are original and new takes on tried and true works. From Quail Woman to Applejack to shit I’ve never even heard of, she has a million ideas in her pretty little head.

ani serah

This is her amazing Zatanna shoot. Holy cow…

Ani-Mia - Zatanna3

Now, I can’t go anywhere without sending a shout out to a cosplayer so GREAT that he’s terrible. No, seriously, it takes an immense amount of ingenuity to be this horrible.

low-budget-cosplay-5Cyclops??

Click HERE to see more and more and more examples of this guy’s absolute brilliance.

The Small-Minded Jerry Springer Mentality

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Since moving to North Carolina, I’ve had to make some adjustments. It’s a culture thing for sure, but I tired of being up top after my divorce, and my family has been living here for a long time. It’s just math.

One thing I just can’t get next to is my family’s interest in this vile periodical called “The Slammer.” It’s a mugshot mag and from it, no one making the slightest legal mistake is safe. The Rural Blog:

“…The Slammer appeals to voyeurism, and
Russell Carpenter of Little Rock told Elliott, “It’s
just someone exploiting, making a buck off of
other people’s miseries.” The notion of stocks
suggests the papers are a disincentive to crime,
but Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay (no
kidding) said he sees no upside to The Slammer.
Holladay said he resisted providing mug shots,
but had to because they are open records. And
there could be a question of racism, because the
papers appear to be most popular in the South
and African Americans may be disproportionately
represented among offenders.”

See, I take particular umbrage with this because of my OWN mugshot troubles. Back in 2007 I was arrested in Jersey for a traffic violation. My mugshot ended up on the net and, in not wanting prospective jobs to Google an unfortunate image, I paid $350 to get it removed. Then, it popped up on another site. And another. I went broke trying to outrun that bullshit before I said fuck it and gave up. So far no more have appeared (knock on wood).

So yeah, I take it personally, this exploitative crap that preys on the vulnerable. And I combat all rationalization with a very important quote I once heard:

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people .”

Is small-mindedness really a goal to shoot for?

Boob Problems.

The Buzzfeed hills have been alive with the posts of boobage for a couple days now, so I’m thinking breasts are popular or something. Shocker, that.

But, for some reason it’s not just about mammary magnificence, but protrusion troubles at hand. These bothersome breasts are breaking wills and busting backs and internet ladies aren’t taking it anymore! Take, for instance, the mounting issues that infest the flat-chested: 17 Things Small Breasted Girls Understand.

I’ve had two very small-breasted girlfriends in my travels, and it seemed they took more umbrage with their A-cups than I did. One even said that her gift to the lucky man she would eventually traverse the aisle with would be a boob job. Man, what a hangup. Personally, I’d much rather have a naturally flat girl at home than one artificially enhanced. Not counting reconstructive surgeries.

And just like we’d expect from society’s lop-sided ranking scheme, the big-boobed ladies get to have MORE problems than their counterparts. 21, in fact. To wit:

Now, in light of the “woe is me!” video above, the DD’s and beyond that I’ve run with might have made the occasional back pain complaint, but for the most part they were in love with their chests. And I can’t bullshit you, big boobs are icing on the goddam cake – but hell, I’m just glad to have cake. At 40 years-old, I’ve found myself getting more and more into a woman’s brain because if I’m considering marriage in my, um, old age, she’s gotta be smart enough to talk to for 40 years. In fact, some glasses would be nice. Librarian > Cheerleader.

Being a man, I don’t know what it’s like to walk the world in a woman’s pumps, so I’ve got no real opinion on the matter of “body awareness.” I guess I have the random issue – never made it to 6 feet tall, but I get over that shit pretty quickly. But you know the internet…next week we’ll get a couple videos about all the wonderful things women can say about their breasts. But fellas, God please don’t take that as a cue to post “Package Problems” because that would just be a mistake deserving of unlimited THUMBS DOWN. I can see it now: “Biking, Boxers and Ball Kicks: Misadventures Of The Unfortunate Crotch.”

Hope everyone’s having a good week. And if the videos above get you all geared up to stop by RedTube, don’t hate yourself for it. You’re only human. 🙂