“Safety Not Guaranteed” Trailer [FB]
Mar 29th, 2012 by Dan

If there’s one breakout actor from Parks and Recreation for me it’s Aubrey Plaza. Take a silly premise and what looks like a quirky indie film about the funniest wanted ad ever and I’m game.

Mad Men S5E01: “A Little Kiss” [IB]
Mar 27th, 2012 by Dan

Mad Men is back, y’all, and it’s better than ever! Season four flirted with perfection, but that was somewhere around 17 months ago. Now it’s time for something new.

I think it’s fair to guess that season five is probably going to deal with the civil rights issue that its protagonists have mostly dodged for four seasons now. The bookends to the episode involving Y&R and SCDP’s various pranks at least promise to make it an important issue for at least two episodes, but I’m betting we see it take greater importance as the season wears on.

The bigger issue at hand is the obvious one: Don and Megan. We were left feeling gobsmacked and surprised at the end of S4 since we had no clue who this French Canadian secretary was outside of a few scenes. Matthew Weiner did a fantastic job of setting up why Don chose her over Faye, what with all the scenes with Sally and his children peppered throughout the season, but now’s our chance to understand what marriage between her and Don is like and…it’s interesting.

Make no mistake, a relationship rooted in boss/subordinate and old man/young woman will always have power issues and “A Little Kiss” brings that to the forefront with many a barbed insult traded between Don and Megan, their deviancy in the office, and with the explosive domination sex at the end of the episode. There are clearly problems brewing in SCDP too as Don regards Megan’s work there as something for her to do while he’s at work. It’s evidenced by him calling her away in the middle of meetings or projects or even in the fact that she shows up habitually late with him at her side. It seems like she wants to be taken seriously, but she’s constantly undermined by Don who, himself, is not taking his work very seriously.

That’s the most alarming thing by far. A Don Draper who cares very little about his work is a Don Draper we’ve rarely seen. His work habits have deteriorated to when he was drinking far too much last season (or worse). Last season we saw him fall and fall and then turn it around. Will we have a similar arc or will he continue to coast?

And then there’s the party:

We know that Don doesn’t let anyone in on his life, but here he is with people in his home despite Peggy warning Megan not to throw this party. It makes sense that he’s mad, especially with the way that they’re both treated at work following the party. Sterling can’t restrain himself from teasing Don now that he’s not the only buffoon. Megan is suffering from ridicule by her peers. It’s tense and I loved every part of it.

I don’t know what Weiner has planned for those two, but I don’t necessarily see the implosion (or explosion) that people have been predicting. She does know about Dick Whitman, after all. No, I think that they will remain together, if not a little strained at points. Maybe Megan does truly get Don/Dick. Nothing about their behavior screamed out to me that their relationship was doomed, just that it was maybe ill conceived. What’s more worrisome is the way that Roger and Jane now interact. After their silly stupid soiree in the third season (this show is calling back/referencing all kinds of old things a lot) I’m sure that this all looks like the mistakes they used to make. They’re nowhere near as playful as they were before.

Speaking of call backs, how great was it to see Pete on the train from the suburbs. He’s clearly hurting to get back to the city that he loves so dearly, but now he’s got precisely what he wanted from Don in season one. Like Don warned him though, no one seems to treat him with much respect, save perhaps Lane, because no one really likes him. Sterling continually tries to undermine his every effort to get the recognition and status that he ambitiously demands. It’s interesting stuff to watch.

I’m also a fan of the Trudy/Peter relationship. Despite Pete’s sociopathic tendencies (or perhaps because of), he and Trudy are the most conscious of manners and what’s actually going on around them. Their commentary at the party along with their style of dress shows that they’re perhaps the most clued into the 60s of anyone in the senior levels of SCDP and it’s awesome.

Joan’s plot about being terribly bored at home rings perfectly true to her character and her acidic mother makes it very clear why Joan is the way that she is. Her horribly tragic heart-to-heart with Lane was heartbreaking as it made clear how out of sorts she was to be alone with her baby and I was particularly touched by the detail that no one went to visit her. It seems odd that she’d be out of sight, out of mind so quickly, but considering the staff at SCDP and their multitude of issues in the past eight months I suppose it makes sense. The big question will definitely be what Greg will want of her when he gets home.

The last big story I want to talk about is Peggy. Still the shining creative light at SCDP, she’s becoming increasingly frustrated with a blissful Don Draper. The fighting spirit that Don seemed to have for their entire working relationship seems to have vanished and, while she’s increasingly capable of doing her work without Don’s input, it most certainly greases wheels for its acceptance. It was telling to me that her frustrations with Megan seem to be more frustration with Don over his lack of focus rather than resentment of her place on the staff. There’s no outward hostility directed specifically at her, despite the way she interprets Peggy’s drunk/high mini-row with Don, but there is a sense of frustration in that he is proving too much of a distraction for her to get work done. On a separate note, I did like the scene with her, Pete, and Joan’s baby. Great work by the Mad Men crew to give us a few seconds that spoke volumes almost completely non-verbally.

Minor Points:

– Harry is the closest thing to a whipping boy this show has. He was able to make a complete fool of himself over the entire two hour episode and it was hilarious.

– The prank war between Pete and Roger that sent him to Staten Island was great! More of Pete usurping Roger please!

– Cooper’s marginalization continues. I’m not bothered by it. He won’t have a Blankenship-ian joke end, but I could conceive of his death in this season.

– Sally didn’t seem hostile toward Megan. I was shocked by that, but then again her psychologist probably helped her deal with these kinds of feelings toward Henry.

– New actor for Bobby!

– Didn’t really care for the Lane/wallet story, but it was alright. I liked that his politeness kept throwing people off and I liked how innocent-seeming his attempts at lewdness were. Still kind of an aimless story to me, but it might bear fruit later.

– If the old receptionist is still there next week I’ll be surprised. Bringing in the gag gift from Y&R was a huge mistake and I could see them letting her go to help cover the new secretary.

– Lots of secretary placement subtle comedy and a close to over the top moment with Pete tripping into the pillar in his office.

– Ken’s wife is Alex Mack!

What I’ve Been Doing 2 April 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Mar 26th, 2012 by Dan


Seann William Scott is so innocently dumb in this movie, but it's actually quite good. (Picture courtesy nxusco)

Guys, Goon was really good. More later, but you should check it out. This week was a real scattershot weekend as I tried to play a bunch of games I didn’t give much time to before.


Martha Marcy May Marlene – The cult in the movie is an interesting contrast to the fundamentalist Christian society in Higher Ground and the hippie commune of Wanderlust. This movie really ratchets up the tension of not knowing what’s real and what’s not. Ideally they would have made Patrick a scarier presence, but the movie is still on pretty solid ground with what it accomplishes. Congrats on the fantastic part, Elizabeth Olsen. Keep it up!

Goon – This is a mostly sweet movie about a guy who had no place in life other than to fight on the ice. It’s done pretty well and it’s funny and it’ll definitely win you over. Alison Pill, who played Kim Pine in Scott Pilgrim, is great as a Canadian hockey girl and Seann William Scott is endearing. The violence of hockey and hockey fights is really the thing that might put you off the movie. It gets pretty brutal if you don’t like it.


Mad Men – Last week’s premiere was amazing and I totally loved it. Can’t wait to see yesterday’s episode tonight!

Breaking Bad – Finished the first season. The six episode arc they had to work with never went anywhere with any definitive statement, but I think they’re playing the long game for all the seasons. Doesn’t mean that it was bad, just that I’m used to a more dramatic season arc. The progression of Walter White from teacher to meth cooker has definitely been interesting as is the seething anger that lurks beneath hsi outside personality.

Happy Endings – A great tribute to all the sitcom tropes of old. Some really good jokes in there that helped keep it from being too hack-y (like it was when the episode started). Elisha Cuthbert’s Ellen was hilarious.

New Girl – I liked the episode, but I’m rather chilly on New Girl at the moment. It’s not bad, but it’s not amazing either.

Justified – Another table setter. The final two episodes of this season are going to be bananas. I’d like for Limehouse to continue to be a force in S4, but we’ll see if he survives the next two eps first.

Community – It’s entirely possible that this episode contained the first “boner” joke I’ve laughed at since I was 13. The Subway corpo-humanoid is the highlight of the ep. Also a highlight: “Put it in a letter, Jane Austen!”. Alison Brie is so awesome.

Up All Night – This show is kind of meh to me too. At least it’s enjoyable meh. I’d rather watch New Girl because Zooey Deschanel is cute, but this is the better show.

The Wire – Finally finished S1 and the commentary of S1. Can’t wait to get moving through S2 because S3 is amazing. I love the attention to detail in The Wire and the devastating verisimilitude of it all.


“Heaven” is one of the best tracks on the Persona 4 soundtrack, but it’s also pretty awesome to listen to any time. Don’t believe me?


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – I’ve got like 10 pages left. So tired of this book.

Video Games

Ghost Trick – Weird ending to this game. Just plot twist upon plot twist. Still one of the better story games I’ve ever played and excellent practice for my Spanish.

Devil Survivor 2 – Still haven’t caught the entire breadth of this story, but I do dig it. Interested in seeing where it goes, but my major play time will probably come when Min and I go to Vegas (he’ll probably sleep through the flight)

Mass Effect 2 – Slowly tearing through this a few missions at a time. For some reason I can’t stomach playing it for long periods of time. I think it’s because ME3 is clearly better and they’re so similar.

Poker Night at the Inventory – Put in a few mins to get some achievements and just play some poker. Still fun.

Jamestown – Was feeling like finally putting some time into the weird quasi-historical/quasi-sci-fi version of the Jamestown settlement in Virginia. Fighting the Spanish conquistadors and the Martians is weird, but fun. I like all the different ship types.

Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness Episode 1 – I played and beat this many moons ago, but I wanted to play ep. 2 and that required playing this. Decent RPG and pretty funny still.

Sine Mora – Tried it out on XBL. I might pick it up when I finish a few other games. Seems interesting.

Pac-Man CE DX – Um…best game on my Xbox. Period. This game is so good I had to force msyelf to stop to play…

Galaga Legions DX – I was tired of only having like two achievements in this so I went and got to 11/12. Might not get the last one (more annoying than tough), but I’ll probably cave and just do it. Not as good as Pac-Man at all, but still fun.

Shadow Complex – Cave Story + made me think the same thing this game does: Why don’t game companies make more Metroidvania-style games? They’re really addictive and fun. Weird. Also weird: Nolan North in a half-tuck role that’s NOT NATHAN DRAKE! I think the shooting is a little awkward with the right stick because they added the whole 3D aspect to it, but otherwise fun.

What I’ve Been Doing 26 Mar 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Mar 26th, 2012 by Dan


Season 5, y'all! (Photo courtesy Roman Skrada)

Mad Men is BACK…but shhhh! I haven’t seen the premiere yet. Trying to finish S4 first and I’ve got about three episodes to burn through. I’ll get it tonight. Don’t worry.


Was supposed to watch one, but…didn’t get around to it.


Persona 4: The Animation – This show continues to be awesome. The Nanako stuff was really emotionally tough to watch, wow.

Archer – Oh man, the space stuff was so great. This show is so zany and awesome.

New Girl – I haven’t been able to enjoy this show as much since I started watching Happy Endings. That show just seems to do the same thing a lot better.

Fashion Police – My girlfriend makes me watch this. It was great when it was a half hour…now it’s always an hour long. At least Joan Rivers is kind of funny.

Community – Back to weird for Community. The impersonator stuff was hilariously odd. I wonder what they’re setting up with all the Dark Abed and Chang stuff.

Happy Endings – This week’s episode was weaker, but I went through the whole series with Min again. Can’t wait to catch the first half of S2 because the show is a lot better in S2. Not that it was bad in S1, but they’re a lot crazier and funnier in S2.

Justified – the old lady with the milkshake was awesome. The animosity toward the outsiders is pretty amazing. The standoff between Quarles and Raylan was great. Loved when the bartender got into it too.

Up All Night – The Chris on the show thing was pretty obvious, but it had its funny moments.

Mad Men – S4 was pretty great, wasn’t it? Just saw “The Beautiful Girls”. An astounding episode. The scene in “The Summer Man” where Joan tells off the men with respect to Vietnam gives me chills every time.


La Vida Boheme – Check it out.


The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – If I don’t finish this book this week I’m burning it.

Video Games

Mass Effect 3 – Still enjoying the multiplayer, but I want to unlock some Krogans and Asari already!

New Super Mario Bros. Wii – Still pretty brilliant. The Yoshi level was fun since Min and I were antagonizing each other a bit.

Super Street Fighter IV – Min and I fought for a long while. Lots of fun playing one of the sharpest fighting games out there. Reminded me how out of practice I was.

Celebs Can Read What You Tweet [ER]
Mar 22nd, 2012 by Dan

Jimmy Kimmel reminds us all that celebrities see what you tweet at them.

A Tribute to Warren Spector [ER/GO]
Mar 20th, 2012 by Dan

The Mega64 guys team up with Cliff Bleszinski to honor the achievements of video game luminary, Warren Spector.

What I’ve Been Doing 19 Mar 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Mar 19th, 2012 by Dan

They are a group of six friends evenly split among men and women. Haven't seen this formula before! (Photo courtesy

I’ll get into it more later, but despite it being pretty standard fare for a sitcom, Happy Endings is actually hilarious and kind of awesome. I blew through season 1 this weekend (half on Netflix, then I bought the entire season on DVD).

Just catching any TV is impressive considering that I haven’t watched a second of it since Mass Effect 3 came out. Now that I’ve beaten that I had a chance to catch up on all the TV I’d missed.


The Descendants – Picked up the movie at Best Buy this weekend too. Great flick. I think Tiffany liked it despite its Oscar film plot meanderings.


Community – Oh god, so glad it’s back! So glad! This week’s episode was pretty solid work for Community. Everyone showed up and was great. Even the Britta stuff was hilarious. I loved that she was a wizard with domestic stuff and wedding planning. Then of course she Brittas the entire thing by getting too drunk with Jeff.

Archer – Space! Pretty excellent episode of Archer. Can’t wait for the finale next week

New Girl – “Did you just Fredo kiss me?” The singing part was kind of “eh”. “Are those cannons on your back”. After watching a lot of Happy Endings later on in the weekend, I think that New Girl is a less good version of that. Bummer. Still, it’s coming into its own and I dig it. Max Greenfield’s Schmidt is hilarious.

Parks and Recreation – The Ron stuff was great. I guess I’m pretty tired of the Ann and Tom stuff too.

Bob’s Burgers – Kristen Schaal and Eugene Mirman are HILARIOUS! Footloose warehouse dancing is great! “No more lick foot”. “If guys had uteruses they’d be called duderuses” Great episode.

Justified – The show knows how to make things seem real bad. “I found the gun.” “Did you touch it?” “What am I, an asshole?” I think Winona’s great! Is she gone for good? Good to see Ava returning to prominence. I like her too. Boyd’s got a real firebrand preacher streak and that’s always fun to see. This season is about to get more real quick and I love it!

Up All Night – Maya Rudolph is great. Spitting the scotch back out was pretty hilarious. The stinger with “gift” and “seed” was the best part. I kept wanting to use that as a line, but it’s so gross.

Happy Endings – Not too bad. Wow. Extra Hot Great turned me on to this show and I spent all weekend watching as much of it as I could. I thought it was pretty hilarious. It’s got a modern Friends vibe, but with the jokes pace of a Community, 30 Rock, or Arrested Development. Just BAM! BAM! BAM! Jokes, jokes, jokes. I really enjoyed it. If you know me I hope you don’t mind me making you watch it.


Just listen to more Rhythm Heaven music, guys!


The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Ok, Martin Vanger is dead already. Why does this book still have like 100 pages left?!

Video Games

Mass Effect 3 – Finally finished this sci-fi epic and…I loved it. Naysayers out there will tell you that the ending is terrible. They’re kind of right, but that doesn’t mean the game isn’t fantastic.

Ghost Trick – This is another one like Dragon Tattoo that I’m getting closer and closer to beating and I just need to put time in to finish.

Mass Effect 2 – Coming back to this after 3 is rough. Combat is slower, the engine is not optimized for PC, it’s trying too hard to be edgy…Still good, but I like 3 and 1 better.

Official Spoiler Rules [ER/IB]
Mar 17th, 2012 by Dan

I think a standardized set of rules regarding spoilers would do the world a lot of good. All of these fine actors agree.

Zainichi Funk: Japanese Funk You Can’t Forget [F/ER]
Mar 16th, 2012 by Dan

Have you ever found yourself thinking, “Self, what would kickass Japanese funk sound like?”

Well, it would sound a lot like 在日ファンク (Zainichi Funk)

The above song, “爆弾こわい” (“Bakugan Kowai” or “Scary Bomb”) is…awesome. Give it a listen. You might be disappointed if you have no soul, but I can’t see not liking it otherwise.

The Mariners Have Creative Ad Men [WMQ/ER]
Mar 14th, 2012 by Dan

I love the punch line in the impressions one (I LOVE ICHIRO!).

The other great one is this riff on Rocky:

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