Friday, March 31, 2006

(STRAY THOUGHTS) Topic: Movie Monsters

When I saw this story on the Columbus Dispatch's web-site about the IMAX version of Superman Returns having certain scenes in 3-D, I remembered an earlier report I heard, I can't remeber where, that the filmmakers had digitally retouched certain scenes to play down star Brandon Routh's rather"package" Yes, as Robin Williams would say, in those tights you could "tell what religion he is." Yes, imagine that in 3-D on a giant screen.....Good Lord, what deficiency in my upbringing causes me to have these twisted thoughts.

(Now, THAT'S Trivia #8) The "M" Is For Mobile...and Married

I was watching the DVD collection of the ninth season of M*A*S*H earlier this week, so this week's quiz is going to be about that show.
By the way, I've been watching quite a few DVDs recently, including the Star Wars: Clone Wars toons and the Dukes of Hazzard movie and I'll be giving you my opinions on those in the near future
For now, back to the trivia:
Q. Which 2 M*A*S*H characters where married and divorced during the show's run?
And for a bonus question, can you remember which one of those two never even got to spend any time with their spouse during the entire brief duration of their marriage?
The answers, as you well know by now, are at The Answer Blog

Thursday, March 30, 2006

An Even More Rambling And Pointless Post Than Usual

Outside the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the temperature lurks around the 70 degree mark, children run amok on the playground and one begins to suspect that spring may finally have taken hold at last...but I wouldn't count on it. It's still early in the season and I say there's a 25% chance that we're up to our asses in snow again by noon on Sunday. I'm not putting the sweaters in mothballs just yet and the winter coat is still within easy reach.
The fickle fluctuation of the weather the last couple of weeks has combined with a lack of sleep and general stress to leave my immune system vulnerable to a touch of whatever virus has been making the rounds of the stomach and heads of my co-workers. Of course, going out with Joe last night and getting embarassingly stumbling, puking drunk didn't help anything either. Couldn't skip work today, though, because even though I could barely face Joe after the way I fell apart in front of him last night, it would have been even worse the next time I had to work with him if I'd blown off today.
Needless to say, I did not get around to watching Unanimous last night, as I long since passed out by then. I do have last weeks debut episode on tape, though I've yet to find the time or courage to actually watch it. I'm fairly certain, though, that my initial impression, based on the promos, of yet another "reality" show that puts people in situations purposely and solely designed to bring out the very worst in human nature will be born out. Of course, it could turn out to be compelling TV in that car wreck, can't-help-but-stare-even-though-you-know-you-shouldn't kind of way that Big Brother is at its best, or worst, or whatever.
I suddenly realize I've been staring at the computer screen for about ten minutes without writing anything. Time to snap out of it, upload this sucker, and go lie down. I think I'm going to lie low and rest this weekend after I post the trivia question tomorrow, maybe head over to my sisters place and hide in the basement with some pens and work on that story I'm supposed to be inking for Brien Wayne Powell that I want to have done by SPACE or maybe I'll get a new spiral notebook and do some serious writing. Either way, I'm running out of time and I've wasted enough of mine and especially yours, so I'll just go lie down now.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What I do for Love...

I kind of want to write about that new "reality" show on Fox, Unanimous, but that means I'm going to have to actually watch the blasted thing, and based on the promos I've seen, I'm not entirely sure I want to do that. However, for you, my beloved readers, I will make that scarifice. I'll watch the dreck and report back to lyou when I've recovered.

Magnum Farce

The Movie Blog reported a couple of days ago that there's a Magnum PI film in the works and that the top contenders for the title role are George Clooney and Vince Vaughn.
Frankly, I am not all that enamored of either choice and thus offer my own: Jason Lee. Yes, the star of My Name Is Earl, also known for his roles in such Kevin Smith productions as Mallrats and Chasing Amy. He's got the quirky charm and offbeat good looks the role requires and, even more importantly, he's got the moustache. Seriously, check out the flavor saver he's sportin' on Earl. That is one Magnum quality 'stache, my friends.
Now, having cast Magnum, I thought I'd take a stab at the rest of the cast. Higgins is basically a comic relief character, so you're looking for a Brit with a flair for comedy, which obviously suggests, to me at least, one of the erstwhile members of Monty Python. John Cleese leaps immediately to mind, but I think Terry Jones might be a better choice. Actually, when I think about it, I realize the one former Python most suited to play Higgins would have been Graham Chapman, but he is, sadly, no longer available.
Finally, for Magnum's buds Rick and TC, I'm thinking Jack Black and Ving Rhames.
Oh, one more thing before I go and upload this thing: To John Campea of the Movie Blog--"zany" is spelled with only one "n", and, besides, nobody uses that word anymore.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Study In Scarlett

I'm tired, I'm hungry, I'm depressed and I just want to go home and go to sleep. Yet, I still feel obligated to throw something up here lest I disappoint my legions of fans who eagerly await the daily dispensation of my dubious wisdom....But seriously, I have made a commitment to updating this thing daily and I'm going to keep that promise, even if it really matters to no one but me, which is probably the case.
So, in the interest of getting this over with, I thought I'd find a news item or blog entry that I could dispense with in as few words as possible and this bit from The Movie Blog fit the bill:
In fact, I can sum up my reaction to that one in one word:
Any man who's ever seen any of her movies doesn't need FHM magazine or anybody else to tell us Scarlett Johansson is hot. Just check out Lost In Translation or Ghost World if you don't believe me. Oh, yeah, she can act as well....Not to mention that she's only 21 years old, so she's got a long career ahead of her of great films and most likely topping this list for years to come.
Okay, then, my work here is done. I just hope I can keep my eyes open to get from the library across the street to my apartment.
See you tomorrow, people.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Buck Owens Gone

Here we go again.

Listening to Weekend Edition on WOSU radio while enjoying my normal nutritious breakfast of a pot of coffee and half a pack of cigarettes when I hear that yet another pop culture icon of my childhood has bit the old dust. Its enough to make a forty year old blogger and cartoonist already predisposed to morbid thoughts turn once again to considerations of his own mortality, which, with a diet such as I described above, might not be that far off.
Buck Owens, best known, to me at least, as the co-host, with Roy Clark, of Hee-Haw, as well as for writing a song, Act Naturally, that was covered by the Beatles, died on Saturday at age 76.
As I grew up and became "sophisticated," I came to look down my nose at Hee-Haw, but when I was just a kid who didn't know any better I loved it. After all, with its mix of old jokes, silly songs, goofy characters and even a little animation thrown in, Hee-Haw was the very archetype of a classic kids show.
Hmm, let's see if I can find some sort of point here....ok, let's try this:
"Sophisticated" as I may be, there are times when I miss the simple pleasures of childhood, especially when dealing with my job and bills and all that other crap that "adults" do, and despite the years I spent denying it, Hee- Haw was one of those simple pleasures and unfortunately it took the news of Buck Owens' death to remind me of that.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Idol Speculation

All back to the important stuff--like American Idol.

Many veterans Idol watchers have prognosticated that Chris Duaghtry is going to walk away with the title this time out. After this week's performance show, I'm beginning to think they might be onto something.
The judges keep talking (and talking and talking etc...) about the potential Idols need to make the songs they sing "their own." Well, no one, not even Chris himeself, has done that as effectively as he did with his rendition of I Walk The Line on Tuesday. I'm a big fan of the Man In Black, aka Johnny Cash, and yet, as many times as I've heard I Walk The Line, it was as if I were hearing a completely new song when Chris got his hands on it. He definitely needs to put that one on his first album.
Well, I'm gonna go ahead and venture a prediction of my own. I won't go so far as to predict the final outcome, but I will say that I am fairly certain that when it comes down to jsut two, those two will be Chris and Mandisa. At that point, I'll be equally happy no matter who wins. After all, the runner-ups on Idol have often gone on to equal or even greater success than the winners.
I believe Clay Aiken came in second to Ruben Studdard, but it's Clay everyone talks about while Ruben has kind of dropped out of the spotlight and may, for all anyone knows, be working at a Burger King in Poughkeepsie.

Just One More Thing....

Sorry to keep flogging the decomposing corpse of this dead horse, but there is something that I meant to write yesterday in my "final" post on this week's little dust-up over my now infamous Marie Osmond post on Tuesday. I, for one, think it's worth saying and if you don't then feel free to leave a comment and tell me so. As you should know by now, I love a good on-line feud.
Anyway, it's just that its funny, in both the "laughable" and "odd" sense, what some people will chose to let get under their skin. I mean back when I revived this blog last month, I tried to stir up a little controversy in my posts on the raid of Conti's Pub & Club , but for the most part noone took the bait. Since then, I've called the Vice-President of the United States a "vicious little prick," posted one of the cartoons of Mohammed that touched off riots around the globe, practically accused Oscar voters of homophobia for not voting Brokeback Mountain Best Picture, and even admitted to having smoked marijuana.
Yet, for all that, the thing that most offended someone was when I had the balls to question the parenting skills of a second rate artifact of 1970's kitsch.
You don't have to try to offend people. I guess that's my point here. No matter what you say, no matter how seeming innocuous, in a public forum in today's easily offended society is bound to piss someone off. Apparently people think that having respect for them means that you're not allowed to say anything that they disagree with.
Anyway, nothing's going to change here at The Word From On High. After all, only the blandest of entertainments are totally unoffensive. If I were to worry about who I might possibly offend before writing every post, I would be too afraid to say anything worth saying or worth reading, for that matter.

Friday, March 24, 2006

(Now, THAT'S Trivia #7) 100

On Monday, before I got off on that whole ridiculous Marie Osmond tangent, I commemorated the 100th post to The Word From On High. So, this week's trivia question is about another such landmark, namely the 100th issue of Marvel Comics' The Amazing Spider-Man.
In that issue, Peter Parker decides he doesn't want to be Spidey anymore, and so swallows a formula he developed to remove his spider powers. Of course, there was no way he could have tested it before using it on himself, so he could not have foreseen the bizarre side-effect of the serum.
The question, then, is: What was that side-effect?
The answer, as always, is over at the aptly named Answer Blog.

Our Long National Nightmare Is Over

I'd like to apologize to regular readers of The Word who actually like reading my rantings on pop culture for getting distracted from the business of providing pithy thoughts on TV and movies by getting into a feud with an anonymous pissed off Marie Osmond fan. I sort of have to thank the quy because I was having a slight case of writer's block, and he gave me something to write about.
It appears that the feud is over, however; since as I write this there've been no comments on my latest response to his idiocy. Perhaps he finally realized that by arguing with me he was just feeding my ego. I get off on the attention and am a firm believer in the old adage that there is no such thing as "bad" publicity. The important thing to me was that, love me or hate me, at least he was reading me. Not only that, but what he read made an impression and moved him to respond. While I welcome and cherish all the positive feedback I've gotten, I have observed that people are far more likely to write a letter or leave a comment when they're pissed off. I hope my anonymous "fan" keeps reading, if only to see just what stupid and insensitive crap will spew forth frommy keyboard next. (If you hated my Marie Osmond rant, just wait 'til next week when I tear into Pat Boone.)
The only thing that worries me is "i hope you die" turning into "im gonna kill you," which I sincerely pray is only a paranoid reaction to having watched the movie Talk Radio, in which a "shock jock" is murdered by an angry listener, one too many times.
Anyway, its time to get back to the really important things; like this week's trivia question.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Pickin' At The Scab

I should just drop this. I know I should. But I can't. I know that it's crazy to dignify by responding to them the ranting of someone who won't even leave his name, but I just can't let it go. I must defend my honor, and besides, I really can't think of anything else to write about today.
Anyway, I received another comment from "Anonymous" yesterday on my response to the comments on Tuesday's post. I'm assuming it's the same "Anonymous," but because the comments are "Anonymous" there's no way of knowing. For all I know it could be just one person or there could be a whole League of Ray-Haters lurking out there in cyber-space. Anyway, my No. 1 fan today wrote:
"dude, you are such an insensitive a**hole i hope you die and worms eat your feet"
Poetry. Sheer poetry.
Well, you won't be disappointed if you're not in a big hurry. After all, as much as I'm loathe to admit it sometimes, I am merely human and thus will die eventually. However, worms will not eat my feet as I wish to be cremated.
As for me being insensitive, is it insensitive of me to suggest that an eight year old child should have proper adult supervision? No, rather it shows a concern for the welfare of the kid rather than the mother's "image," which is all that "Anonymous" seems to care about. It appears to bother him less that a child was playing with fire and could have been hurt or killed than that I have said mean things about his beloved Marie Osmond. With those kind of priorities, its no wonder he doesn't want to leave a name.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

(STRAY THOUGHTS) Topic: Pizza! Pizza!

Whatever happened to Little Caesar's? You may remember that they were the pizza chain whose commercials featured the little cartoon guy in the toga running around saying nothing except "Pizza! Pizza!" It recently occurred to me, and as I type this I have no recollection what triggered this revelation, that it's been quite a while--several years, perhaps--since I've seen one of those ads. Did they go out of business? If anyone knows, leave a comment. Or I could try to find out for myself. That's what Google is for, right?

Response To An Angry Fan

I'm a little tired right now and probably not thinking clearly or I might reconsider the wisdom of what I'm about to write and then send forth into cyberspace, but I got a comment on my Marie Osmond rant from yesterday taking me to task for not having all the details and I want to respond. I'm sure that I'll regret it later, but here goes:
The commentor, who did not leave a name, said: "If you dont know the whole TRUE story then dont say anything at all" Hey, I never said I knew the whole story; I really don't care enough about Marie Osmond to meomorize every little bloody detail of her life as you obviously have. I was just commenting on something I saw on TV, which is what I do here at The Word From On High and which I have a right to do, no matter what my opinion is or what you think of it, as a citizen of the United States of America.
Secondly, "Anonymous", look down at the bottom of this post; that's my name, my real name ('cause I couldn't make up a name like "Tomczak"--pronounced Tomcheck, by the way) which I'm not afraid to attach to my rantings here no matter how stupid or uninformed they may be, and, frankly, I have no respect for the opinions of anyone who won't do the same, though you enjoy the same free speech rights I spoke of above, which, I suppose, include the right to attack people anonymously.
Finally, the "TRUE" details you provide really don't make any difference. In fact, it just makes the situation worse, in my view. She's out of state and the kids are left with man who can hardly care for himself because he's recovering from a brain tumor. That hardly qualifies her for a wife or mother of the year award.
I do, however, sincerely apologize for saying the child was playing with a lighter when apparently it was matches he was fooling around with. I am so sorry for the confusion and thank you so very much for clearing that up.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Leave Her Alone--She's FAMOUS!

This past Friday evening I found myself watching Access Hollywood, only because the far more intellectual and high minded program that I would normally watch at that time, Wheel of Fortune, had been pre-empted for the NCAA tournament. Anyway, one of the first stories featured an interview with Marie Osmond, who shared with us the pain of the recent fire which destroyed her house.
Describing how the blaze got started, Osmond related how her eight year old son had been playing with a lighter and managed to catch a broom on fire. According to Marie, the boy ran off to fetch some water with which to quell the flames, but on the way back was distracted by cartoons showing on television, causing him to forget his mission and sit rapt in front of the idiot box while flames engulfed his house.
Osmond laughingly made a snide remark about the "power of television", perhaps in a half-assed attempt to lay the blame for the conflagration at the feet of the entertainment industry while failing to acknowledge her own blinding obvious culpability.
C'mon! An eight year old playing with a lighter!?! "My God, Woman!" I howled at my TV set. "Where the bloody hell were the ADULTS?" Seriously, why wasn't anyone watching this kid and, furthermore, what idiot left a lighter lying around where he could get it?
Marie seemed blissfully unaware that what she had just freely admitted to on national television would, were she almost anyone else, be enough grounds for the state to swoop in and take the little firebug and the rest of her kids away from her for their own good. Believe it; if she weren't a "celebrity," rather than appearing on Access Hollywood, she'd be appearing in front of an unsympathetic judge in family court tearfully begging to be given her family back.
However, such is the power of fame in this country, even for an untalented, washed up, has-been whose career peaked some three decades ago and who'd have been nothing if she didn't have her brother Donny's coattails to ride, that she could starve and beat the obnoxious little brats and lock them in cages in the backyard and be free to chuckle about it on Access Hollywood.


On a cosmic scale, compared to vast, mindboggling length and breadth and unknowable age of the universe, 100 is a tiny sum, a piddling amount. On a human scale, however, confined to one small planet with our three score and twenty lifespan, 100 of anything is a big fat freakin' deal. That is why we commemorate 100th birthdays and 100th anniversaries of historic events, and celebrate 100th episodes of TV series or issues of periodicals. It is also why I am pleased to announce that you are even now reading The Word From On High's 100th entry.
I began this blog, as some of you loyal readers may remember, as a supplement to my writing for The Atomic Tomorrow during my brief and ill fated association with that publication. After I left TAT, a story that I promise I shall tell some day, Atomic Pop, as it was then called, after the section of the paper which I edited, lay dormant for many months, and I was without a venue to share my writing with the world.
So, a couple of months ago, I was reading Hey, Rube!, a collection of columns by Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson has been one of my favorite writer ever since I first read Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas over two decades ago. More than any other writer, reading Thompson's work fills me with an almost insatiable desire to write, and even these later writings, though a pale shadow of his landmark work of the early 70's, did indeed get my dormant creative juices flowing.
I once remarked to a friend of mine, whom I'll call Doug Wykoff because, what the hell, it happens to be his name, that I wanted to write like Thompson. "You couldn't handle the drugs," was Doug's offhand reply.
Which is true enough. I get tipsy after half a beer and the farthest I've ever gotten into drugs was passing around a joint with friends at a party, which I'm sure 87.5% of you did back in your college days. However, Doug missed the real point not only of my statement, but of Thompson's writing. I certainly didn't want to drop acid and other even more exotic chemicals, run amok in Vegas and skip out on my hotel bill, though that certainly sounds like fun. No, I said I wanted to write like HST, not act like him. What I sought to emulate was his passion, his savage humor and finely honed sense of outrage and uncanny ability to get to the heart of any story and place himself there.
But it wasn't just Thompson's prose in Hey, Rube!that inspired me, it was where those columns had originally appeared: the Internet, specificly's page 2.
I can imagine that the lightbulb that signifies someone having an inspiration in cartoons was clearly visible above my oversized and vaguely football shaped head as I decided that I would revive this blog. All I had to do was change everything about it from the name and the look right down to the URL. Fortunately, I was able to do all that but I wasn't sure what I should call it. However, the title The Word From On High; derived not only from my egotistical wish to be seen as an expert on absolutely everything but also from the street where I live, High Street, the main drag running North and South through the very center of Columbus; Ohio, had served me well as a column title in both the Small Press Syndicate's Rap Sheet and TAT, so I saw no reason not to revive for this endeavor.
Since then, the business of updating this blog has gone from a once in a while, on and off, whenever I have the time kind of thing to a daily obscession, as withnessed by the fact that in six months of its Atomic Pop incarnation, this blog saw only about 30 entries. All the rest leading up to and including this 100th post have all been logged since I converted it to The Word on February 6.
I would like to thank everyone who has been reading this on a regular basis and especially those who've taken the time to leave comments. Special thanks in that department goes out to my most frequent and outspoken commentator/ critic, "Ineffable" Eric Clark. But even more gratifying than having my friends read and comment on my blog has been finding comments from people I don't know. This is a sure sign that The Word is getting out there in the world and having some sort of impact, in as much that people are thinking about what I'm saying and being moved to respond to it. That is what I would like all my writing, be it my comic strips or these jumbled rantings, to accomplish.
Thanks again and Keep Reading. I'm just getting warmed up.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

But What's Up With That Name?

Fountains of Wayne is now officially one of my favortite bands.
A couple of years ago, I saw the famous video for Stacy's Mom on a VH-1 Top 20 Countdown and liked the song, so i cashed in some bonus points with the CD club, figuring that even if Stacy's Mom was the only good song on the album, it was wowrth it because all i had to pay was shipping.
Well, not only is Stacy's Mom not the only good song, its not even the best song on Welcome Interstate Managers. Competing for that honor are such gems as Mexican Wine, Bright Future In Sales, Hey Julie and Peace And Love.
Later, I listened to an earlier FoW release, Utopia Parkway and that is when I became a true fan. Parkway demonstrated to me that FoW was capable of producing not just one hit single or a solitary great album, but of churning out a consistent level of high quality, clever, witty, catchy pop music song after song, album after album. What I really like about this band is how much their sound resembles the early 80's "New Wave" music that I loved in high school.
I don't know why (besides the fact that I listen almost exclusively to NPR news and talk radio) I didn't hear of these guys earlier. Now, that I have, however, I'm hooked.

(STRAY THOUGHTS) Topic: Help Desparately Needed

I wonder if Cathy Guisewhite, creator of the comic strip Cathy, uses assistants, as most syndicated cartoonists do, to aid her in the production of her strip. If so, she should probably be investigated for violations of child labor laws, since all of those assistants must be under five years old. Where else could she find anyone who draws that crudely?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Look At Me, Dammit!

You know those T.D. Waterhouse commercials--the ones with Law & Order's Sam Watterston? They really bug me. Wanna know why?
It's the way they keep switching the camera angle, while Sam doesn't move, so that at least half the time he appears to be looking off somewhere over the viewer's right shoulder. The man is presuming to advise the viewer on the extremely important subject of how they should invest their (presumably) hard-earned money, so, to my way of thinking, Sam should be facing the viewer, looking them right in the eyeball, the whole time. You need to trust the people you invest your money with, and having their spokesman staring off into space really does very little to engender that trust.

Friday, March 17, 2006

(Now, THAT'S Trivia #6) He's 80? Really?

Yesterday was the birthday of clown extraordinaire Jerry Lewis, and yes, he is in fact 80 years old. In honor of one the movies' most influential comedians, today's trivia question is is about Jerry:
Q: How many roles did Lewis play in his 1965 film The Family Jewels?
The answer, as you well know by now, is at The Answer Blog (which is why I named it thusly)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

(STRAY THOUGHTS) Topic: The Tease

Last week, I saw a promo for the ten o'clock news on Columbus, Ohio's Channel 28 which promised an American Idol update. the thing is, the promo aired during Idol, and thus you could assume that anyone who saw it really wasn't gonna need that update. Plus, if they gave a damn about what was happening on Idol, why wouldn't they watch the show instead of waiting two hours? Frankly, I'm wondering just who this promo was aimed at. Maybe it was fans of the reporter presenting the update, Johnny DiLorretto.

Alan Moore at the Movies

With V For Vendetta opening tomorrow, fans of Alan Moore are wondering whether someone has finally succeeded in making a decent, or even watchable, film adaptation of one of his works. Moore himself claims not to give a crap about movies in general and definitely not those made from his comics. He has just cause for turning his back on Hollywood, as they've screwed up his graphic novels just about every time they've turned a camera on one of them. From Hell was a waste of film and two hours of my life I'll never get back and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a mess. Both are so far removed from anything Moore wrote that you wonder why they even kept the titles. Frankly, I don't hold out any hope for the in-production Watchmen movie either. The only decent film version of an Alan Moore comic was an episode of Cartoon Network's Justice League Unlimited which adapted "For The Man Who Has Everything" from 1985's Superman Annual #11, though I feel the episode concentrated too much on the battle with Mongul in the Fortress of Solitude while giving short shrift to the Black Mercy inspired fantasy of a life on Krypton that was playing out in Superman's head.
It occurred to me a couple of days ago that if it weren't for a bad movie we, at least those of us on this side of the Atlantic (or, as Marvel's Aubrey Sitterson would say, the Pacific), may never have heard of Alan Moore. It was, after all, the dreadful 1982 Swamp Thing film that led DC to rescue the character from comic book limbo. It was this revived Swampy series that Alan Moore inherited with its 20th issue, as it stood on the brink of cancellation, bringing a fresh new voice and original ideas not just to Swamp Thing but to the American comics industry as a whole, and using the clout the book's popularity and acclaim brought him to go on to do such projects as Watchmen and From Hell.

X-3: How Much Is It Gonna Suck?

In all of movie history, only two franchises in the super-hero genre, Superman and Batman, have been successful enough to make it to a third film, so it's hard to call it a trend and you know that I don't believe in "curses," but with that third movie, both of those series begin to seriously stink. Whether this mini-trend continues with this summer's X-Men: The Last Stand is something we'll have to wait and see, but there are some negative indicators. The biggest is that, just as in the case of the third Bat film, Batman Forever, the director and guiding light of the first two films, in X-Men's case one Bryan Singer, has moved on. He is replaced by Brett Ratner, a man whose resume does not exactly inspire confidence in his ability to steward the X franchise, as he is responsible for the celluloid wasting Rush Hour films, including, and, Dear God, I wish I wish I were making this up, the upcoming Rush Hour 3. Yes, the one thing the world needs less than another Adam Sandler film is another film starring the incredibly annoying Chris Tucker. (Sorry, my despair at the very idea of the horrid spectacle of a third pairing of Tucker and Jackie Chan led to wander off topic for a moment.) Getting back to the subject at hand, there's also the packing in to X-3 of even more mutant characters, including the Angel and the Beast.

Having said all that, I will say that I really like the casting of Kelsey Grammer in the role of Hank McCoy aka the Beast. McCoy is, after all, in many ways a blue furry version of Frazier Crane.
And now that, with the addition of Beast and Angel, all five of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's original Silver Age X-Men are in the movie's cast, it would be ckind of cool to see at least one scene of them working together again for the first time.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I Read It For The Articles

On Sunday, I wrote about the growing acceptance by the cultural mainstream and the Hollywood community in particular of comics. A more in-depth exploration of the phemonon can be found appearing under the title "Of Maus and Supermen" in the pages of the April issue of Playboy. The article's authors, Robert Levine and Scott Alexander, trace the renaissance in comics from 1986 and what they term the "holy trinity"--Maus, Watchmen, and Dark Knight--to the current spate of literary comics and both super-hero and non-genre "comic book movies." They also include a sidebar interview with mature comics guru Alan Moore and a recommended reading list that includes not only the three titles mentioned above but such others as The Invisibles, 100 Bullets, Transmetropolitan and Harvey Pekar's The Quitter.
To those who follow the medium, of course, all of this is pretty much old news. There's really nothing in "Of Maus and Supermen" that I didn't already know. It is, however, gratifying to see an article such as this appearing in such an unlikely venue helping to spread the message to an audience that might otherwise remain unenlightened. Whether you're a comics newbie or lifelong fan, the article is worth checking out.
Besides, if you get bored with it, Miss April is on the very next page.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Aloha, West Wing

After a few weeks off, The West Wing returned last night with new episodes as it enters the home stretch toward the conclusion of its acclaimed and award winning seven year run. Many critics lamented the announcement a couple of months ago that NBC was cancelling the show, but I was relieved. I'd actually been afraid that they might attempt to continue The West Wing beyond this season. The reason I felt the show should not continue wasn't that it hasn't been the same since creator Aaron Sorkin left at the end of season 4, though that is certainly true. (However, this season, with it's focus outside of the White House on the campaign to replace President Bartlett, has seen something of a creative resurgence, with an episode written by Bradley Whitford, aka Josh Lyman, being a particular highlight) No, the reason that West Wing had to end is because the Constitution of the United States says so. Yes, West Wing may be the only show in the history of TV to have a legally mandated lifespan.
You see, just as presidents are limited to two terms in office, so is a TV series about a presidential administration limited to a maximum of eight years on the air, and Wing picked up the story of Jed Bartlett's presidency approximately eighteen months into his first term, thus further limiting itself to seven seasons.
To have tried to continue the show would have meant rplacing the entire cast. Now, other shows, such as ER and Law and Order, have replaced the entire original cast and survived, but they did it gradually, over the course of many seasons, not all at once. To make such a radical move in the eighth season of a series would have been disastrous for ratings and Wing would have been gone by January anyway.
So, while I will miss The West Wing, especially the sheer brilliance of the first four seasons under Aaron Sorkin's stewardship, I am glad that it is going out with some semblance of its former glory still intact, rather than going down in flames in a futile attempt to stay on the air.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Notes From The Bottom Of The Barrel

Osama bin Laden's niece to star in reality TV show

Sure, as the article says, she's dropped the infamous surname, but nevertheless she apparently has no compunctions about cashing in on it. Would any TV network be even remotely interested in "her as-yet unfulfilled 'quest for stardom'," would any men's magazine ever have asked to pose in its pages if she weren't a distant relative of the world's leading terrorist and murderer? The old Magic 8-Ball sayeth,"Are you freakin' kidding, buster?" Of course not.
Frankly, using the deaths of thousands of innocents on 9/11, as well as before and since, to get your fifteen minutes of fame is beyond crass; it's sick.

The New Comic Book Movies

For many years now, the comics community--creators, retailers and fans--has striven to spread to the American cultural mainstream the gospel that comics can be, and are, more than superheroes with their testosterone driven mindless violence and depictions of women with boobs that would make Dolly Parton say "That's just too much, girl!" Hollywood, which is endlessly questing for new sources of material so that none of these so called "artists" ever actually has to have an original idea, seems to have gotten that message. In addition to the "usual suspects" such as Batman Begins, Spider-Man, and X-Men, "comic book movies" of recent years have included such non-genre titles as Road To Perdition, Sin City, Ghost World, A History of Violence and From Hell. Of the major comics based films on the horizon for the next few months, only Superman Returns and X-Men: The Last Stand fit the traditional stereotype of the "comic book movie." The other major comics making their way to the silver screen soon are Frank Miller's 300, a tale of ancient Spartan warriors, and the dystopian Science Fiction thriller V For Vendetta, which opens on Friday, if the March issue of Playboy is to be believed, may be the first decent film to be made from the works of Alan Moore.
While I'm looking forward as much as anyone to Spider-Man 3, I most definitely would like to see this trend toward non-superhero "comic book movies" continue and fervently (though, most likely futilely) hope that it leads a few more people to check out the source material and give some respect to the comics medium's true literary potential.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Classic Mean "Yeah, Right."

The word "classic" is much abused in our society.
Take cable TV channel American Movie Classics, for instance. Does anyone really think that Child's Play 2 is a "classic"?
Special note to "Classic Rock" radio programmers: Just because a song is by a "classic" artist does not necessarily mean that the song is a "classic." Bob Seger's Shame On The Moon is a good example of this principle. Seger has recorded many classic tunes in his long career: Old Time Rock n' Roll, Turn The Page, Katmandu, Fire Lake, and The Hoizontal Bop to name just a few, but Shame On The Moon is most emphatically not one of them. The song is an overly sentimental collection of maudlin cliches, and when I hear it presented as "Classic Rock" I want to pick my radio up and toss it out, or through, a window.

I'm Sure This Would Be Really Interesting If I Could Read It(or not)

Before signing on to Blogger to update The Word, I clicked on a link on the homepage for Gerhard's Blog, thinking that maybe it might be the weblog of the former Cerebus background artist and all around cool guy known to the world only as Gerhard. Of course, that turned out not to be the case. It appears instead to be some old Swedish guys poetry. So maybe I should be glad I can't read it.

Hurry The Hell Up, Already!!

I am not, by nature, a patient man and while I keep hearing about how the pace of modern life has supposedly sped up so much in the 21st century, you wouldn't know it by some of the slowpokes and timewasters, who must be carrying some turtle DNA in their genes, that I inevitably get stuck behind, especially when I'm late or pressed for time.
Why, for instance, do some people take so blasted long at ATMs? One time I was waiting to use the cash machine at my bank and waited for five minutes with just one person in front of me using the machine. If the operation he needed to perform was so complex and time-consuming he should have waited until the bank was open and gone inside so that the rest of us who actually know how to use an ATM could get out cash and get on with our business. After this guy finally finished or gave up and left and it was my turn, I timed myself. I was in and out with my money and on my way to the BP to buy cigarettes in about a minute and a half, which is as it should be. Anyone who takes longer than three minutes at an ATM should have their card shredded into razor-sharp shards which would be spit back at him at high speed, causing severe bleeding and permanent, ugly scarring. That would teach them a lesson. Pain is the only thing these morons understand.

Friday, March 10, 2006

My Cousin The Movie Star

Today is Sharon Stone's birthday. You know, I can remember a time a couple of decades ago when the only newspaper you could read about Stone in was the Meadville Tribune, the daily rag of Meadville, Pennsylvania, her hometown. I'm from Linesville, which is about twenty miles west of Meadville on the border with Ohio.
I followed a link on Stone's Internet Movie Data Base page and found a list of other actors born in Meadville; a list that did include a familiar name: Josh Janiak. Now, I really only barely know him, and, in fact, have not seen him since he was about three years old and I haven't even spoken to his mom, Judy, since 1994, but nonetheless, Josh Janiak is my cousin. I'm not telling you this so you'll think I'm cool or special or anything like that (if you're a regular Word reader you already know that I'm all those things), but just as an example of some of the unexpected stuff you can find on the web if you're not looking for anything in particular.
I wonder what he and his mom been up to recently, after all the only film credit on Josh's page is a decade old... I suppose I could ask his grandmother, my aunt Ann, that is if I where still talking to her.

(Now, That's Trivia! No. 5) Trivia and Candy

Trivia time again! Yee-freakin'-Haw!!

This week's question once again concerns a bit of trivia that is so trivial that even I sort of wonder why the hell such a useless piece of information is taking up precious space in my brain.
Q: In 48 Hours, when Eddy Murphy complains of being hungry and Nick Nolte buys him a candy bar from the police precinct house's vending machine, what kind of candy bar is it?
As always, the answer, and a fairly sane explanation of why I know something like that are at The Answer Blog.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

My Favorite Comic Book

So, I was scanning some other blogs to try and find something to write about and I came across a recent entry from Mark Evanier's News From ME in which Mark reminisces about the over-sized "Treasury Edition" comics of the 70's. Y'know, I loved those books, mainly because they were BIG, just like the pages of the newspaper Sunday comics sections that first sparked my love for the comics medium. Plus, being mostly reprints, they gave me a chance to see classic comics stories that I was too young to have seen the first time out, such as the origin of the Earth-2 Flash, Batman's first clashes with arch-foe Ra's Al Ghul, Superman's races with the Flash, and my all-time favorite tale of Marvel's super-team The Avengers, issue #58's "Even An Android Can Cry."

My favorite book in this format, however, was a Gold Key adaptation of the original King Kong. I came home from school one day to find it lying on my bed. My dad, despite his frequent bitching that I spent too much time reading comics, had bought it for me, and for that reason, along with my inexplicable affection for giant ape stories, it was one of my favorite comics.
Unortunately, I left most of my comics at home in the care of my brother when I went off to pursue my short-lived radio career in Kane, Pennsylvania,and when I retrieved my collection I discovered that almost half of them were missing; lost or stolen--we never found out which. I've since purchased new copies of most of the lost comics.
But not Kong. That book was irreplaceable.
Here's another recent blog entry you might find interesting

Belated Oscar Thoughts

Since I went and made a few pre-Oscar predictions on Saturday, you've probably been waiting breathlessly these past few days for a post show wrap-up. If so, please--for your own sake as well as mine--GET A FREAKIN' LIFE FOR THE LUVVA GOD!!! I haven't written anything on the awards because there has been plenty written about it by other people and I really don't have any fresh or original insights to add. Now, isn't it refreshing for a media pundit to actually admit something like that? Yeah, you'd never hear anyone on The McLaughlin Group admitting they had nothing relevant to say, even though most of the time they just don't.
Besides, I didn't watch the show. Well, actually, I started to, but fell asleep after the first hour. I'd been up 'til after two in the morning playing poker and just couldn't keep my eyes open.
It does appear that the "trend" I spoke of on Saturday held up. I went to sleep before the show was over and the awards for Best Picture and Best Director were split between two different films. Of course, it wasn't a total surprise, not as if they went totally off the menu to give the honor to Land Before Time 19: Teenage Dinosaur Biker Sluts On Crack. After all, Crash was the film people expected to win if Brokeback Mountain didn't. Despite what I theorized, it's really hard to know if Crash won because the Academy voters honestly thought it was a better movie than Brokeback or because, as I conjectured, they just weren't ready to honor a "gay cowboy movie."
John Stewart seemed a little less sure of himself in his monlogue than he usually does on The Daily Show, but still had some good lines. My favorites were when he greeted the crowd with "Ladies, Gentlemen, Felicity," referring to Felicity Huffman's role as a transgendered person inTransamerica, and when he conflated a well remembered event from recent Oscar history (Bjork's swan dress) and a story from the news of recent weeks (Dick Cheney's "hunting accident") for a particularly well-crafted punch line. (Wow! Did I overthink that joke or WHAT? I mean, did I really just use the word "conflated?" The question is: Did I use it correctly?)
Dolly Parton's performance--along with an infomercial for a CD collection called Superstars of Country that I'd seen earlier that evening--served as a reminder of how much today's crop of Country "music" artists really, really suck.
And King Kong did win the Visual Effects award. Score one for Giant Apes, baby!!!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Spider-Man 3 Speculation

The Movie Blog recently put up a pic of Spider-man in a black costume, along with much idle speculation about whether this means that Venom will be challenging the webbed wonder either in this installment or a future chapter of the Spidey saga.
I've done a little research and I don't think that Venom will not be popping up in Spider-Man 3. The announced villain for the film is The Sandman, to be played by Thomas Haden Church of Wings and Sideways fame, and, so far at least, director Sam Raimi has avoided the multiple villain, throw in everything including the kitchen sink mentality that made every Batman film after the first one such a bloody mess. There is, however, an article on the official Spidey movie site quotes Raimi as saying,"Spider-Man will face double the trouble in our next film..." so it's just possible he might find himself facing two super-crooks.
The real mystery is the addition of That 70's Show star Topher Grace to the cast in an as yet unspecified role. The above quote is from the article announcing his casting, so maybe he will be another villain.
Well, all of this just guess work until May 4 of next year, the scheduled release date.


A couple of days ago, I was listening to Blue Oyster Cult's 1981 album Fire of Unknown Origin for the first time in years, and I found it kind of funny, in a bittersweet sort of way, how songs that I thought were just the coolest thing I'd ever heard when I was 15 now strike me as laughably pretentious crap twenty-five years on. (Y'know, I feel the same way now about Styx's The Grand Illusion, which was the first album I ever owned.)

Today, I heard BOC's Godzilla, which I still think is incredibly cool and always will no matter how old I get, and it occurred to me how relevant the song's refrain was to certain recent events. Perhaps it could be updated to reflect this, like so:
"History's shown again and again
How nature points out the folly of men--
That sentiment perfectly sums up the whole situation, from the failure of FEMA to the folly of building a city below sea level in an area vulnerable to hurricanes in the first place.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Curse of Bonanza

Yesterday, I wrote about the so-called "Superman Curse" which supposedly dooms anyone foolish enough to agree to appear in a Superman movie or TV show. This, however, isn't the only "Hollywood Curse": I have heard that the cast of Bewitched (the TV series) was cursed, and a few years ago Access Hollywood, or maybe it was Entertainment Tonight, devoted an entire episode of their expanded weekend edition to the curse of the Little Rascals. (A bunch of 80+ year old former child actors were "mysteriously" dying--must be a "curse")
But what about the curse of Bonanza? Never heard of it? Of course not, I just made it up. However, there must be a "Bonanza curse." After all, of the original four actors who played Ben Cartwright and his sons, only Pernell Roberts is still alive, and probably only because he had the good sense to bolt after six seasons, presumably before the "curse" kicked in.
And what about poor Michael Landon? Boy, if ever anyone was cursed it was that guy. I mean, he was only the most successful TV star in the history of the medium, with only a handful of TV seasons going by between Bonanza's 1959 debut and his death in 1991 that he didn't have a hit show on NBC, all of which ran a minimum of five years.
Yeah, man, if that's a "curse," where do I sign up?
Y'know, it just occured to me--what if someone reads this and takes me seriously? Suddenly, the Bonanza curse becomes part of entertainment folklore and Leonard Nimoy is narrating a special about it on E!
Actually, that would be kind of cool.

Monday, March 06, 2006

What's Wrong With This Statement?

The following is a quote from Marvel Comics Assistant Editor Aubrey Sitterson from Comic Shop News #972 describing a book entitled Marvel Ai, one of the "super-hero" romance comics in Marvel's Valentine's Day stunt I (Heart) Marvel:
"(Marvel Ai) our shojo Manga issue of I (Heart) Marvel. All three stories are written by manga connoisseur C.B. Cebulskiwith art by Tomoko Taniguchi, Kei Kobayashi, and toga; three Japanese artists who, while unknown on these shores, have been doing fantastic work across the Atlantic."

Now, can you, my astute and non-geographically-challenged readers, spot just what is wrong with that statement?

Curse You, Superman!

With a new movie in production, that ridiculous old urban legend about the so-called "Superman curse" has reared its ugly head again. According to proponents of this theory anyone working on a Superman film, especially those playing the lead roles of Supes and Lois Lane, are doomed from the moment they sign on to the project. The supposed evidence for the curse is as follows: George Reeves (apparently) killed himself in 1959; Christopher Reeve was paralyzed after being thrown from a horse and Margot Kidder suffered a nervous breakdown and was, I believe, found confusedly wandering around Hollywood in her nightgown.
While all these events are tragic, that they all happened to people who had been involved with Superman films is simply coincidence. No, I don't believe in curses. If I did, I'd have to believe my life was cursed. Besides, if it were a curse, wouldn't everyone who's ever played Clark or Lois have suffered some horrible fate. But, of course, that's hardly the case.
Bud Collyer, the first actor to play Superman, on radio and in the Fleischer studios cartoons, played the part the longest, continuing to lend his voice to the Man of Steel in TV cartoons until shortly before his 1969 death. Kirk Alyn survived for nearly fifty years pretty much unscathed after being the first person to actually put on the big S on screen in the serials Superman and Atom Man vs. Superman. Nothing bad has happened to Dean Cain so far, unless you count his career kind of fizzling since Lois & Clark ended.
Now, to be fair, Collyer's story could used to make the case for the curse. According to his bio on the Internet Movie Data Base, Collyer "died of a circulatory ailiment at age 61." I will admit that, by today's standards, 61 is a relatively young age to shuffle off this mortal coil, but if there is a "Superman Curse," why did it take thirty years from the time he began doing the radio series in 1939 to catch up with him?
As for the Lois Lanes, things since Lois & Clark have only gotten better for Teri Hatcher, since she's currently enjoying great success as one of the Desperate Houswives. Phyllis Coates, the Lois from the first year of Adventures of Superman, is apparently still alive and healthy. The first, best and, to me at least, "real" Lois Lane, Noel Neill, certainly appeared to be at the peak of both physical and mental health when I met her a couple of years ago at Mid-Ohio Con. She even has a small role in the new film, Superman Returns.
No, there's no "Superman Curse"--unless you count people back in 1983 cursing as they left the theater after paying good money to see Superman III.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

(STRAY THOUGHTS) Topic: Influence

David Brooks used the word "kerfluffle" in his analysis on the Newshour Friday night, which is not a word a lot of people use, or even know, these days. In fact, the only other time that I know of it being used by anyone in a public forum is by me in a post on the "Cartoon Controversy" a week or so ago.
Say, do you think David Brooks reads this blog? If you're out there, David, leave a comment and let us know.

Do The Research, Morons!

Just about every damned week in The Other Paper, Columbus, Ohio's free weekly rag for people who want to think that they are "alternative", there is fresh evidence that the majority of TOP's writers have no bloody idea what the hell they're writing about, as if they somehow believe that a cynical, snarky display of "attitude" will make up for utter lack of accuracy. This week's gem of poor research and just not paying attention comes from the regular Media Morsels columns:
"If Ohio State football is a religion, the writer of the blog Tressel's World had better go hide somewhere with Salman Rushdie and those Dutch cartoonists."(emphasis added)
Interestingly, there's no byline on this column, allowing the idiot who writes this crap to go on practicing his stupidity in blessed anonymity.
Anyone who's paid even cursory attention to the firestorm in Europe and the Middle East over the cartoons lampooning the Muslim prophet knows that the cartoonists responsible, or at least the newspaper that commissioned their work, are Danish.
It is unforgivable for the writer, whoever it may be, of a MEDIA column not to know even the most rudimentary details of the biggest international story of the year so far, which dominated the news media for the better part of two months. It's like a Washington correspondent listing the address of the White House as 1700 Pennsylvania.
Honestly, there is just no damned excuse for such ignorance of current events from someone whose job is to watch the freakin' news.
Y'know, if it weren't for Tom the Dancing Bug, I wouldn't even bother with that lame waste of paper.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Word's Oscar Picks (Sort of)

The Oscars are tomorrow and everyone has an opinion on who will or should win, even people who haven't seen any of the nominated films, people such as, to pick an example totally at random, me. Of course, in my capacity as a self-appointed non-professional pop culture pundit, it is my sworn and solemn duty to have, and to share you, my panting public, opinions on such matters of earth shattering import, regardless of whether or not I have any idea what I'm talking about. So, I quickly scanned a list of nominees, formed a few opinions on the fly, and I am now ready to make an ass of myself in front of the entire world, or at least the half dozen people who read this thing.
Since I've already admitted that I haven't seen any of the films up for best pictures, I cannot say which one deserves to win, however; despite the "buzz", the other awards, and the fervent wishes of critics everywhere, I don't think Brokeback Mountain will take the award. I may end up being proven wrong tomorrow night, but I think a "gay cowboy movie," as it Brokeback has been called, is still a bit too radical for the Academy to give its top honor.
In the Supporting Actor category, I would like to see the statue go to William Hurt for his work in A History of Violence. As a longtime supporter of, and practitioner in, the comics medium, it would warm the cockles of my shriveled little heart to see a film based on a "graphic novel" (a.k.a. "comic book") take one of the major awards.
Actually, there is one nominated film that I have seen: King Kong (I'm a sucker for giant ape stories) The film is nominated for Sound Editing and Visual Effects. The effects are spectacular and I'll be pulling for Kong to win.
Most years the Best Picture and Best Director awards go to the same film, but twice in the past decade they've gone to separate films. Oddly enough, those were the years that I decided to go to bed a few minutes early, after the Director statuette was handed out, figuring that Best picture was a foregone conclusion. So, this year I'm in for the long haul.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Now That's Trivia No. 4--Relativity

Back on Tuesday, I waxed eloquently (at least I think so) nostalgic about comedian/actor Wally Cox and the old Hollywood Squares. Now, Cox is a pretty common surname, so its no surprise that Wally is no apparent relation to former Friends (and Misfits of Science) star Courtney Cox. However, Wally's fellow former Hollywood Square Charlie Weaver is. So this week's question is: How are Courtney Cox and Charlie Weaver related?
For the answer head over to The Answer Blog.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Here's A Good Spot for a Picture

Since's there's nothing else to look at on the Word From On High main page at the moment other than that stunningly sexy portrait of me over to the right there, I thought I'd throw up another of the pics I took at various festivals around the city of Columbus, OH last summer. This is just what it looks like: A guy standing on a bridge downtown playing a tuba. It was taken at Jazz & Ribs Fest in July. I was just so struck by this sight that I had to get a picture.

Waiting for Will & Grace

The worst thing about NBC wasting five hours of primetime air on the execrable Deal or No Deal is that it will be one more week before Will & Grace returns. Frankly, it was a pretty sleazy thing to do to run an episode that ended in "To Be Continued.." just before preempting the show for three weeks of "event" programming that nobody gives half a crap about. I admit I've been kind of indifferent to the show so far this season, but Grace's liitle bombshell at the end of the last episode really got my attention.
To review: Grace had just married Will's boyfriend, James, so that he could get his Green Card, but nearly fainted during the ceremony. The next morning she announced that she's pregnant. Then: GOTCHA! See you in a MONTH, suckers!!
NBC is making no effort to build up any suspense over who the father is, since its pretty obvious. The only man that Grace has been with for months is ex-husband Leo, who returns in next week's episode.
I can't say where this storyline is headed, but I'm pretty sure that as W&G marches toward its finale, we'll see some serious changes in the lives of all four major characters, and I wouldn't be surprised if there's another live episode along the way.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Deal or No Deal: The Ultimate Game Show

Y'know, I wanted to write something about NBC's Deal or No Deal, but I just can't figure out what to say. The thing is so damned lame it's hard to work up a decent rant about it. It's just not worth the effort.
If you've somewhat more sense than me and have avoided this bloody trainwreck, this description from the show's official site sums it up:
"The rules are simple. Choose a briefcase. Then as each round progresses, you must either stay with your original briefcase choice or make a 'deal' with the bank to accept its cash offer in exchange for whatever dollar amount is in your chosen case. Once you decide to accept or decline the bank's offer, the decision is final."
Put another way, it is the game show genre boiled down to its bare essence: unadulterated greed combined with pure dumb luck. They'd have called it Greed, I bet, except that title had already been used for a Chuck Woolery hosted piece of crap on Fox a few years back. That show, though, at least had the contestants answer questions. Most game shows, in fact, even Wheel of Fortune, require some some modicum of skill or knowledge (Wheel does require its contestants to know the alphabet at the very least), but not Deal. You just pick a number and hope the case you picked has a little sign in it that says $1,000,000. It is either the peak or the nadir of the form, depending on your point of view.
What it really is, though, is not really very interesting.
Finally, what's up with this new look for the show's host Howie Mandel? With the shaved head and stupid looking goatee, he seems to be going for some sort of comic book mad scientist kind of vibe, sort of like Lex Luthor's idiot younger brother. "Hi! I'm Howie Luthor and I'm gonna rule the world someday--just as soon as I figure out how to make this deathray work."
Hey, looks like I could work up a half-way decent rant, after all. Still wasn't really worth the effort, though.