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Monday, Sep 28, 2009

Death, where is thy drop off the radar screen? The industry, phenomenon and force of artistry known as Michael Jackson is very much alive, if not its namesake. Columbia Pictures is readying release of Michael Jackson’s This Is It, a film of Jackson in rehearsals for the tour that will never be. The film is set for theatrical release Oct. 28, but advance tickets are available as of Sept. 27 (a smart marketing approach on Columbia’s part, one that seeks to extend the frenzy of a live Jackson show into the multiplexes for what will be nothing less than a cinematic wake).


But the Michael behind Michael, the mystery of the man behind the machine, was the subject of an often-moving segment of “Dateline”, aired on NBC Friday night. “The Michael Jackson Tapes” explores Jackson’s inner hells and private joys, all chillingly documented in his own voice. Programmes consisting largely of crawl lines of words transcribed from audiotape have rarely been this emotionally compelling. Ironically, in its reach for the mysteries of this incandescent figure, the hour-long programme only deepens those mysteries; by the show’s end we’re more familiar with the how; the why of Michael Jackson remains as elusive as ever.


The tapes belong to Rabbi Shmuely Boteach, a longtime friend and advisor Jackson met in 1999, a man who saw the singer through some of his most turbulent times, including the troubling years after his lacerating child molestation trial. Boteach got Jackson to open up, to some degree, on any number of the behaviors that made Jackson a target of opportunity for comedians, bad tabloid newspapers and, let’s be honest, all of us.


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Thursday, Sep 24, 2009
HBO's vampire show managed to grow its ratings and expand its universe in the second season. So why was it so frustrating to watch so much of the time?

True Blood season two wrapped up over a week ago, but I was a little behind on the episodes, so I just finished watching the finale the other night. And I think it’s worth discussing the high points and low points of the season on what has become HBO’s most popular show. Obviously, when talking about the season in total, major spoilers will appear throughout. So if you’re waiting for the dvd release, I’d recommend you skip this entry.


While the first season of True Blood started off slowly, with a few too many “Look, we’re on HBO and we can show explicit sex!” scenes, it gradually rounded into form and became a highly entertaining, engaging show. Season 2 started off intriguingly, as Sookie and Bill dealt with new teenage vampire Jessica, Jason was recruited by the Fellowship of the Sun, and Tara continued to spend most of her time with the mysterious benefactor Maryann and Eggs, a fellow recipient of Maryann’s generosity. On top of that, Lafayette was revealed to be alive, but trapped in a dungeon underneath the vampire bar Fangtasia. And at Merlotte’s, Arlene was getting over the death of her latest husband by cozying up to Gulf War vet Terry while new waitress Daphne was showing herself to be maybe the worst waitress the bar had ever seen.


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Wednesday, Sep 9, 2009

Are you hunting Yeti for business or pleasure? Do you have any Chupacabra or Sloth Monsters to declare? Have you accepted any gifts from Swamp Dinosaurs, Bat Demons or Devil Worms while traveling?


The questions Josh Gates encounters when flying across the world for fun and adventure are slightly more exciting than what the rest of us have to answer at the airport. Still, even though the third season of his hour-long show Destination Truth premieres Wednesday, Sept. 9 on the Syfy Channel, the gig of monster-hunting host hasn’t become mundane.


Since June 2007, Gates has traveled to remote, off-the-grid locales with a small crew to investigate claims of encounters with beasts that could take a bite out of Bigfoot and Nessie. As if that wasn’t enough, his repertoire has recently extended to exploring curses and ghosts – and his adventures with the unknown all occur after he deals with known dangers. But Gates is an affable guy who, at 32 years-old, sports a professorial-meets-adventurer look. Not completely unlike another such explorer who favors a whip and fedora, Josh Gates has learned to take life-threatening work environments in stride.


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Monday, Aug 31, 2009

If you’re like me, then you’re beyond excited to see the cast of Seinfeld reunited during the seventh season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.


And that is why I suggest some contemplation to quell, or curb, your excitement. Let’s take some time to think about Seinfeld, which is, in essence, the founding father show of Curb. That is, Curb is almost a spinoff of Seinfeld. An actual spinoff (like The Jeffersons from All in the Family) isn’t necessary in order to consider the origin of certain story elements. 


I think most sitcoms can be traced to some of the iconic shows from the 1950s. For Seinfeld, I think it’s important to recall The Honeymooners.


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Friday, Aug 28, 2009

So much of The Wire is about watching the characters make things up. Beginning with season one, Lieutenant Daniels, the detail he supervises, their purpose and even their basement location, all come together during the process of the story. 


In Season two, the self-starter-ness of the characters moves every major part of the story; from the fact that Major Valchek wants Frank Sobotka to be convicted of something (he knows not what), to Nick Sobotka’s entrepreneurial venture into the business of heroin dealing. 


Season three takes the make-it-up-on-your-own notion to a whole new level with Major Colvin’s decriminalized drug zone, known as Hamsterdam. We are also introduced to a new and very compelling character Dennis “Cutty” Wise who starts his own boxing gym.  It is in this season where Sergeant Ellis Carver forges a new relationship with the corner dealers.


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