One Last Report

Unless you are completely deaf to the media, you know that last night was the final Colbert Report on Comedy Central.  Yes, Nation, Stephen Colbert will take his talents to CBS soon, where he will backfill for the retiring David Letterman.  So some people are probably thinking, no big deal, we’ll just see him on the network in a couple of months in Dave’s spot.  But wait – many viewers don’t realize (or don’t fully accept) that the Stephen Colbert on the Report is a caricature, a character, an ironic construct.  And that’s because he’s kept up this persona in front of the camera for nine + years, almost without fail.  He hasn’t done many interviews or public appearances out of this character at all.

So what’s he going to do on late night – that’s the question.  It will be different; enough hints have dropped that we know he’s doing interviews and jokes as more of himself.  How much will this confuse the Nation?  How will the viewers adjust? Continue reading

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Quick Rec – Lego Movie

Not a full review here, but another quick recommendation :  The Lego Movie.  Yes, you can add us to the many, many others lauding this clever and funny family show.  Does it help that our kids are really into legos right now, that it’s their go-to creative time pursuit?  Absolutely.  But don’t dismiss our thumbs-up as simple consumer bias…

Writer-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller deserve the accolades for a fun story that gets to the heart of playing with legos – the following directions precisely mode vs. free-build creative mode.  Each has its merits, but to the surprise of no one, the movie favors the latter.  Creativity is the principal theme here – what it means to our kids, how we perceive and value it.  And Lord and Miller so effectively capture childhood perceptions of playing and imagining with broad strokes like the different themed lego-lands the characters visit as well as small details like various sound effects (child-produced) or the artifacts from our mundane world.

And, if all that seems a little uppity, well – the jokes are really, really funny.  There are a lot (and we mean a lot) of them, rapidly delivered, with numerous parenting and pop-culture references squarely aimed at the grown-ups.  Due to the vastness of the lego line, the movie drops in all sorts of famous people and character cameos, and the writers obviously had a ball with these scenes and jokes.

The Lego Movie is easily Top 3 for family movies we’ve seen in the last several years – probably our favorite since The Incredibles.  So we say, take your kids, grand-kids, or nieces/nephews to the cinema and enjoy.

Why all the laughing in the basement?

If you had come by Beemsville HQ this weekend, you would have heard persistent chuckles, snickers, and belly laughs floating up from the basement.  The basement, to which yours truly often retires to watch sports, less kid-friendly programming during kid hours, and to hit the PS3.  So sometimes you might hear shouts of frustration and occasional cursing (Illini football, losing at FIFA Soccer to some kid in France, etc.)

This weekend: laughter.  Why?

Easy.  IFC was running an Arrested Development marathon.  The first three seasons, back-to-back-to-back.  Surely you remember Arrested Development, yes?  Ron Howard-produced (and narrated), Michael Hurwitz-created, starring Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Portia De Rossie, Michael Cera, and others… (Hit the wiki.)  Maybe you don’t recall, because it never received much in the way of ratings, which is why we only saw three seasons.

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Books: Redshrits

In Brief: In Redshirts, John Scalzi cleverly riffs on the Star Trek universe and its many imitators from the point-of-view of the junior crewmen.  You know, the guys with short life expectancies wearing the red shirts.

Pros:  The book has some laugh-out-loud funny parts, and Scalzi’s economy of language and ability to set up characters and scenes makes for smooth reading.  The story also toys with ideas of creativity and the overused sci-fi paradigm of alternate universes in a smart and entertaining way.

Cons:  If you don’t like Star Trek or have some familiarity with some of the tv series, you won’t get the full extent of some of the humor and scenarios.  Conversely, if you’re an overly sensitive Trekkie who takes umbrage at any implied criticism of the Enterprise and its continuing missions, you may want to duck and cover.

Review:  Last summer we heard John Scalzi plugging Redshirts on a radio interview and the book immediately went into the reading queue.  Here’s the premise, straight from the novel’s back copy:

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, with the chance to serve on “Away Missions” alongside the starship’s famous senior officers.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to realize that 1) every Away Mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces, 2) the ship’s senior officers always survive these confrontations, and 3) sadly, at least one low-ranking crew member is invariably killed. Unsurprisingly, the savvier crew members belowdecks avoid Away Missions at all costs.

Then Andrew stumbles on information that transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

Having read and enjoyed some other Scalzi books, it didn’t take much to get me on board.  What I recall from the radio interview was how much fun he obviously had writing this project and describing, as well as how much fun the interviewer obviously had reading it.  Throw in the fact that Scalzi worked as a writer/creative consultant on the Stargate: Universe tv show, so know his mass market and media sci-fi.

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Supes and Bats discuss stuff over coffee

The guys at Howitshouldhaveended.com – which is worth a youtube subscription – have a new short linked below.  It’s Superman and Batman in the super cafe coffee shop discussing the new Man of Steel trailer.  This is my kind of geeky stuff.

Here’s the Supes trailer if you haven’t seen it.  And of course, it’s all funnier if you can recall last year’s trailer for Dark Knight Rises.

They’ve done a number of super cafe entries over there.  Quality stuff if you’re killing time and want a laugh.  Great dialogue and character knowledge.  Of course their more standard alternate ending videos are good fun as well.

Here’s a link to a recent compilation of older super cafe videos.  Enjoy on a Monday.

Youtubery: Do or Do Not

Do talk to your kids about Star Wars.  It’s important to them, to you.  Think about how you will approach this.  Have a game plan.  Know your sequence and your preferred editions.  And if you need assistance, consider this public service announcement…

Do use the power of cheap video editing and the inter-tubes to mash-up cool scenes that didn’t happen, but perhaps should have…

Do not mess with Chuck Norris – even on Endor…

Chuck and Yoda agree:  there is no try.

Street Bowlers & Saddest Hits

Checking in with the Sad on Vacation crew and their latest on the mean streets of Chi-town with America’s latest youth craze:  Street Bowlers.

Gotta love the weird juxtaposition of 80s Public Service Announcement/distraught documentary interview.  These guys are good.  A lot of TV show could do a lot worse than hiring Mark, George, and company to write and create for them.

Check out a recent Saddest Hits montage here for more skit comedy goodness.  If you get the chance to take in a show by these guys – in Chicago or elsewhere – don’t miss it.