New pornos

This is ridiculous, but stay with me.

A friend won tickets for the New Pornographers on Saturday. She then realized she had to be out of town this weekend. She gave them to me. I then realized that I had a huge magazine conference this weekend. “But,” I thought, “the concert doesn’t start till the time our party will be ending.” Aha! It happens that I’m accompanying some friends to a Halloween party, which I also just realized.

The point is this: If you want to go Saturday with a harried New Pornos fan who will show up late to the 930 club and keep checking his watch, email me. If you want to go and to bring a friend, tell me that you want both my tickets.

If you’re a pal (at least via facebook) you have my email.

Heroes season 1

I finished this on DVD just yesterday, just about 20 hours ago, and I have some thoughts.

– If you were to make the case for hating this show, you’d start with how derivative it is. The political plot? Wholesale from the Manchurian Candidate (this becoming clear when evil mom puts her son’s coat on for him). The fake catastrophe that’ll unite the world? Ripped right from “The Architects of Fear” and Watchmen (and nowadays from 9/11 conspiracy theorists). The evil future world where heroes are tagged and imprisoned? See: Every X-Men story ever.
– Mohinder Suresh’s narration is not, perhaps, the worst framing device in history, but it’s not good either. After the second go-round I was giggling and imitating his incoherent Rod Serling-via-Charles Darwin tones. “Evolution is more than a process. It is more than destiny. It is a processtiny.” It doesn’t help that he doesn’t really understood evolution.
– This is a big problem: American TV seasons are too long. A 15-episode season of Heroes would have been about as long as a season of Doctor Who (with Christmas specials) and wouldn’t have gone down the same dead-end roads to fill time. No character suffered from this as much as Hiro, the obvious breakout character who, as a reward, was given ridiculous, stupid side-plots about gambling in Las Vegas and rescuing his friend from an evil showgirl. All that time wasted and yet when his father teaches him to swordfight Hiro becomes an expert in three hours, in one episode.
– Sylar. What a great concept for a villain, and what a hodgepodge of bad movie villain cliches. The heavy who keeps getting captured and escaping as the captors overlook something. The guy who’s completely invincible and can be anywhere until he decides to slowwwly walk toward Peter or he lets down his guard as Hiro stabs him.
– Dialogue. It often sucked.

That’s enough churl. Here’s the stuff I liked:
– Cliffhangers and twists. OK, Tim Kring, I surrender: You are the king of this stuff.
– Pay-offs. For the most part they actually paid off. The Niki/Jessica thing made no sense from a psychological perspective, but having Niki fuse the personalities when she was in combat with the shapeshifter who had made herself look like Niki–that was cool. Applause all round.
– The look, the special effects, the gore–All of this hit. Even telegraphed scenes like the murder of Charlie by Sylvar were turned into edge-of-your-chair, oh-now-I-have-to-pee stuff by the trickle of blood down her forehead.
– The Petrellis and Hiro, all terrific characters. The rest had their flaws but I definitely want to see them again.

Fox envy

This is a bit late, but I’m catching up with last week’s Fox Sunday lineup (the 90-minute version that doesn’t include the loathsome American Dad) and, uh… did Family Guy make a joke about King of the Hill being boring? Family Guy has been on an obvious, Cliffs of Dover-steep decline for the last season or so. Witness the pointless “subplot” in the 10/1 episode that consisted of Jon Benjamin and Seth Green getting stoned and talking about 90s movies. King of the Hill, though, refuses to flag. This episode when Bobby Hill becomes a Powder Puff cheerleader and the PTA is run by a Lynette Scalvo-style sociopath was as good as anything in the single-digit seasons.

“If this was a movie, we’d get to cheerlead again. And Kurt Russell would be my dad!”

Some Journey

I finish up at work and leave to buy a book, at a store three blocks from the office. It’s 60 minutes until I need to jump on my bike and head to the house of a new-ish friend who’s decided I’m worthy of playing Trivial Pursuit with on a weeknight. But I want to buy a book for a friend, and I mosey around the store for a while, grabbing a nice one and some stuff for myself (ooh, the Skeptic’s Dictionary!) when–boom–out of nowhere comes a blast of gut-rattling, carpet-browning, nurse-hold-my-hand diarrhea. I Barry Allen it back to the office and expel water and waste with the force of an exploding silo. Can I justify skipping this get-together? Not really, not when I have a change of clothes. So I wearily mount my bike and start heading toward Mount Pleasant.

Here was my second problem: Mount Pleasant is basically impossible to navigate. Most D.C. neighborhood follow some sort of grid, while MP is laid out like Narnia, all hills and gnarled side streets and rehabbed Bavarian castle-like things adjacent to hideous apartment complexes. I know the house is off Adams Mill, but Adams Mill is painfully hilly so I head parallel to it–or so I think! Actually, I end up circling the neighborhood twice through two different circuits of painfully steep streets. I’m ready to pack it in when, on the left, there it is: a one-block conduit with the street name I was looking for! The house is on another hill, I lift my bike up, and when I get high enough to peer in the window, there’s… a bunch of unfamiliar guys watching football.

It’s pathetic, but I give up. I can go one of two ways: due east, up Park Street, or southeast, down Adams Mill. I choose the latter. For 8 p.m., it’s pretty barren. I don’t have to compete with any cars. I don’t even see any pedestrians. And then I hit Irving Street and coming on the left sidewalk, parallel to me, there’s a skinny skinhead in a red fedora, a T-shirt and shorts. Usual hipster type. I wouldn’t have thought much about him except that he was walking one step ahead of a bodybuilder-fit guy in his early 40s who craned his 19-inch neck around to look at the fast-moving bicyclist.

“Hey,” I say. The two guys nod their heads at me and keep walking.

And that’s how I met Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins.