Breaking pretty well, I'd say

Breaking Bad is not, as you may have suspected, the prequel series to Broken Badges.

(Oh, okay, while I expect that my readers are more likely than most to recall that short-lived cop show, I doubt any of you actually thought that. But I felt like typing it anyway.)

What Breaking Bad is is a new original series on AMC, the first on the heels of their creative triumph of Mad Men. It is as invested in its style as that show… although the style invested in is not nearly so attractive. This is the tale of a man leading a life of quiet desperation, when an accumulation of circumstances leads him to live louder. With his finances crumbling and death coming at him even faster than anticipated, meek high school chemistry teacher Walter White enters the crystal meth business.

This is a comedy at heart, but it’s a dark heart indeed. White, played by Malcolm in the Middle dad Bryan Cranston, keeps a quiet burn going and gains nobility in taking control, even if he’s taking control of a low route to destruction.

This year, there’s a lot of thought of stripping stuff from cable channels and using it to fill network prime time slots left empty by the writers’ strike. Even with the willingness to take the dark evil of Dexter, I cannot see any network willing to usurp this series. It’s just too dark for the mass audience, too much tawdry (and not in a fun sexy way), too much Bryan Cranston in his underwear in a meth lab to make it with the big audience. But I hope the audience for it will find it, and I expect to watch it for a while.

Published in: on January 21, 2008 at 2:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Evil use of circles

TV Guide starbucks adTake a quick look at this ad for TV Guide and tell me how valuable that Starbucks card is.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.

(Sound of Nat waiting.)

(Sound of Nat waiting a little while longer, for the slow readers.)

So, whatja come up with? Did anyone say $50? Maybe even just for a second? Mmmmhmmm.

Nope, that’d be a good deal..$50 in Starbucks credit for a $16 purchase. But that’s not really a zero there. Slamming the 5 next to the green logo circle builds a zero in the mind (and treating is as one centered line of text adds to the effect), but it’s just the logo. The card is just $5. The logo has no need of being there — it’s legit to have it in the ad, but not in the location. The word Starbucks is the next word of text, the correct impact would be the same if the logo were before the $… or just about anywhere else in the ad.

This is a slimy ad.

Published in: on January 20, 2008 at 1:15 am  Comments (1)  

Allan Melvin

Allan Melvin is gone. So little of the classic TV crew is left. As Mark rightly notes, Allan was a regular on Bilko, and a strong recurring figure on The Dick Van Dyke Show (in the fine flashback-to-the-army episodes from that late in that show’s run) and All In The Family (Barney Hefner) – acquitting himself well in all of them. That he might be more recognized as Sam the butcher on The Brady Bunch is kind of a sad statement about what settles in people’s minds (although he probably did a fine job.)

Last thing I heard from him was some commentary on Bilko DVDs… which is just another reminder that we should make sure we get the reminiscences from people while they are still around to give them.

Published in: on January 19, 2008 at 8:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Rather spare change

Newt Gingrich was just on This Week, touting how George Bush should use the upcoming State of the Union address to launch a drive for real, substantial change… and then, as the very first suggestion for such a change, pushes making English the national language.

That’s change?

You want change, make Klingon the national language.

‘arlogh Qoylu’pu’?

Published in: on January 13, 2008 at 11:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Cashmere Mafia

The network is really hoping to make something of the Cashmere Mafia, using up their last in-the-can episode of Desperate Housewives to be lead in to the pilot. But then, Cashmere Mafia is one of the few things that they have more than a few episodes of on hand.
And the parallels to Housewives will be drawn, although at least the premiere doesn’t have the degree of humor, and structurally it’s more Sex and the City; a group of friends who have each other to call on, and who meet for meals in New York City.

None of it is too fascinating, but there’s good performances, good actors here. We’ve got Lucy Liu and Tom Everett Scott (presumably, that dar ambulance drama he was doing). But the writing is more silly than real.

Watchable, at least for the first one, but no must-see.

Published in: on January 11, 2008 at 10:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

A daily show

Some sources are
trying to spin last night’s Daily Show as criticizing the WGA stance. These folks are either dishonest or severely humor-deprived, because if you watched the show, it was clear that it was not intended to do any favors for the corporate masters. Stewart let his returning viewers know that what they’d be watching during the strike wasn’t really The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, but merely a daily show, with Jon Stewart. The equation of iPod downloads with Hickory Farm free samples was sarcasm; Stewart himself pointed out that the downloads were selling for about two bucks apiece.
I know that writers are frustrated that talk show hosts are appearing, and seeming to be writing material for themselves — but if there’s any instance they should give a backdated waiver to, it’s Stewart, last night. He spend the time arguing for them, ridiculing the opposition, and generally undercutting any attempt by the network to make this seem like a business-as-usual time.

Published in: on January 8, 2008 at 8:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Yay movie violence!

Apparently, the release of violent movies immediately decreases real world violence. This does not, of course, completely counter concerns about long-term effects, but it does provide an interesting balance to those claims.

Published in: on January 8, 2008 at 9:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Chicken meatloaf

Been a while since I did a meatloaf log entry, because it’s been a while since I did a meatloaf. When you count in all the sodium added in various forms, all the calories, cholesterol, and the large quantities I tend to eat, it all adds up. But with sales on various forms of ground meat, I couldn’t resist the temptation to try something at least somewhat upscale from the cheapest-form-of-decimated-turkey which I usually use. So here were are. At the moment, it’s hours before meatloaf-making time, but what I presume will end up in the mix is:

  • Ground chicken (because, really, they are ground creatures. One rarely sees air chicken. Chicken of the Sea, perhaps.)
  • Chili powder
  • Leftover rice and macaroni&cheese
  • Raisin bran
  • Shredded bread
  • Peas and/or corn

There would’ve been more leftovers, but we lost power for half a day yesterday, and that put too many things in the fridge into the “questionable” range (main loss, a mixture of veggies and turkey and chicken broth and little noodles from my first experiment at stirfry.)

Into the oven update

In addition to all of the above ingredients, the mixture includes:

  • Egg substitute
  • Mixed shredded cheese
  • Grated – well, powdered – parmesan cheese
  • Onion bits
  • Frozen corn
  • Spaghetti sauce

The end result

Well, it wasn’t a We are the Uninvited Loud Precision Band, we’re the best intruding band in all the land!… ‘scuse me, as I was saying, it wasn’t a blow-out-the-doors huge success, but it weren’t a failure either. It falls into a category that we consider “It’s Food!”. I should have used more chili powder; this was my first experience with the stuff, and I was cautious. And/or I should have some chipotle salsa in/on it. It wasn’t dead bland or anything, but Mrs. Nat’s TV thought it could use some pepper, although we haven’t any on hand. (I’m serious, we don’t. We don’t have salt and pepper shakers at this point. We’re weird.) The chicken is definitely workable. If the ground chicken hadn’t been on a buy-one-get-one-free deal, I probably would’ve bought one tray of it and one tray of turkey (got a coupon for the turkey!) and tried a blend. Might’ve been good, but then it might’ve been just two fowl to eat.

Tip for next time: gotta get a meat thermometer, and look up safe interior temperatures for such thing. Pulling it out, cutting open, and drying to judge the inner moistness is just a frustrating way of doing things.

Published in: on January 7, 2008 at 11:08 am  Leave a Comment  


I’m no fan of using eminent domain for private projects, but the real reason I’m linking to this video is that it’s good to see that Drew Carey, the host of Let’s Make a Deal, is really in favor of… making deals!

Published in: on January 7, 2008 at 10:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Nat teaches

I’ll be teaching a
three-hour seminar on writing comic books and graphic novels at the Conejo Valley Adult School in March. If all goes well, this will be the start of more. I’ve done okay talking to classes in the past.

Published in: on January 6, 2008 at 1:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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