Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Clown Prince is Dead

Damnit, damnit, damnit. Why does this shit happen? I thought that the story on Superherohype.com was a sick joke, but it's on CNN.com. I was not terribly familiar with Heath Ledger's work as an actor. I know he's had his time in the gossip rags, and I know he's been perceived as aloof and serious about his work, but goddamnit, why does this have to happen? Chris Nolan's brilliant direction in "Batman Begins" breathed fresh life into an all but dead franchise. It was ok for comic book geeks and respectable people to like comic books again, and who didn't get a shiver at the ending? A sequel was a sure bet. With "The Dark Knight," there was finally going to be some respect paid to one of the least understood villains in pop culture. Cesar Romero was friggin' great, and Jack Nicholson was an obvious knee-jerk choice, but The Joker was finally going to be one scary bastard thanks to Heath Ledger. I hope that the Joker will be as constant a character in the movies as he has been in comic books.

My heartfelt condolences to those that loved him, especially the daughter he leaves behind.

Monday, January 21, 2008

It's Not TV, It's Crap

One of the few reasons there is left for me to watch HBO now is "Real Time with Bill Maher." I love that show. I love Bill Maher's "Take No Shit From ANYONE" attitude. There was one episode last season in which some jackass in the audience started yammering about some 9/11 conspiracy, and Bill Maher shouted back to the jackass something to the effect of "Can I get some fucking security in here, or do I have to throw you out myself?" Bill leapt into the audience and along with security, he gave a hearty "va fangu" to the morons. This shut up even a loudmouth like Chris Matthews (who was, of course, in the wingnut seat). One of the best parts of "Real Time with Bill Maher" is his "New Rules" coda segement in which he skewers particularly egregious assholes with a short, yet stinging rule.

Right about now, "Real Time with Bill Maher" is trying to get momentum going for its new season in the midst of the Writers Guild Association strike against The Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers. This has cripppled television, killed shows, and has affected the development of films from script to grossly overpriced tickets. The strike has continued since July 16th, 2007, and while the Directors Guild Association has recently tried to intervene to resolve this conflict, I strongly feel that things are gonna get worse. Bill Maher was able to get some kind of waiver to go on with his show minus the opening monologue, comedic interludes, and unfortunately, "New Rules."

In other words, "Real Time with Bill Maher" has been partially neutered. As a Bill Maher fan, it pains me to say this, but it sucks. The show still has its merits, but imagine if you've driven an Aston Martin DB-5 for years...and someone tells you that you have to ride a Big Wheel until they tell you you can have your DB-5 back. Some shows have actually bought the farm, and it's really tragic that shows like "Scrubs" won't be able to end in the way they dserve because of a bunch of greedy bastards.

Right before July 16th, 2007, there was an insane rush to get scripts approved and put into production at movie studios. They knew the shit was gonna hit the fan for a long time, and they wanted to get their biggest projects taken care of. There will still be big movies, and reality shows have flourished, because for the better part, they're unscripted. That giant sucking wound is not the usual lack of creativity in mass media culture - but the pronounced lack of even rancid shit dressed up to look respectable.

So, while there hasn't been much of anything to watch on TV recently outside of stuff we've seen endless times before and documentaries, I have one question. Why has there been no massive rush to libraries and bookstores? What does it say about us that we'd rather watch recycled old crap than read a book?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Happy New Year, Whitey

This is my buddy Whitey's lil slice of the Big Apple, the Pond at Central Park. From this map, it doesn't look all that impressive, but it's a beautiful little quantum of solace, and that's probably one of the main reasons my girlfriend and I visit this part of Central Park so much. That and to hang out with Whitey. He doesn't ask for much, and we try and bring him some nice stuff to eat.

On Dec. 30th, we went to see Whitey with bags of birdseed for him and the rest of the ducks. Something looked odd about the Pond, but I didn't pay too much mind about a duck shortage, and a strange accumulation by the water's edge all along the perimiter of the Pond. Whitey has been missing before, and it's not for me to question the ways of Whitey. He was with some Mallards, and they were grooming themselves. On Dec. 31st, we saw him and a few ducks on the other side of the Pond in a spot where we could not get to him. I don't think he heard us or knew that we were there. I know he was kinda distracted, because he usually waddles, swims, and on occasion flies right for us, because he knows well have good food for him and his buddies. Still, we didn't see one duck in the Pond. Something DEFINITELY happened, and this is how we found Whitey on New Year's Day.

Ducks are NOT supposed to look like this. There's a gland that produces an oil used to clean themselves off and to make sure their feathers are waterproof. If they can't get whatever is out of their feathers, they're gonna die. Needless to say, my girlfriend and I were worried shitless. One of the people we regularly see at Central Park told us that he noticed an oily spillage in the Pond after Christmas, and it looked like it was coming from Wollman Rink, or a vendor there. It could have been some chemical spillage or oil, but no matter what it was, this was not right by a longshot.

After calling up the Central Park Conservancy and the Cenrtal Park Rangers' office, someone was sent out to investigate. I later found out that while precious little has been done short of putting up a boom to collect whatever had been leaking into the Pond, the going theory was that it was used cooking oil. The Central Park Conservancy did their best to flush the crap out of the water. They ran a hose, and it was running solid for at least a couple days. Still, while he lookd better the first week in January, he still looked spooked by the water. He was hardly swimming, and that broke our hearts. Just last week he began to swim for a lil bit, but he was doing his damnedest to get back to his old silly self. He'd carefully tread over icy bits to come to where we were. His feathers looked remarkably better, and I knew he was on the mend. Over the past couple of days, he'd swim for a lil bit, and he came to us easier. Just this part morning, he came waddling for us whe he heard the clicking sound, and he was swimming around after he had his fill. Whitey was practically all better, and while I should feel some degree of peace of mind, I want to know who thought it was ok to dump that much oil into the Pond. Even if that asshole doesnt understand that what they did will have an impact on the environment, I'm damn sure that this was illegal, and I want to know that this asshole is going to get punished. Since there's not a whole lot we can do about that, my girlfriend and I will continue to go to see Whitey, and feed him and his buddies.