Archive for the Television Category

Idle Minds

Posted in General, News, Television on January 18, 2012 by Michael Louis Calvillo

American Idol!!! OMG!!!

Don’t hate. Haters stop right now, pick up the remote control, and turn on Idol. Do it! Lots and lots of people can sing. It’s crazy to see who ends up in the finals. There are like a million applicants. Ryan Seacrest is often standing before swelling masses of hopefuls. These crowds are filling out stadiums. Stadiums of people who think they can sing better than they actually can. But there are some doozies. I’m watching one right now. Lil dude is puttin’ it down.


(The freaks come out at night.)

Okay then, don’t be  crummy and give in. Join us. What else you gotta do? Really. Free your mind and the rest will follow. Yadda, yadda, yadda, wonk-wonk!

Pick a horse, Loyal Reader, and ride it all the way to the gold! Nacho Libre said it best when he said, “I am the gate-keeper of my own destiny. I will have my glory day in the sun.” One of these years I’ll pick a winner (I’ve come close, oh so close).


The Mighty Survivor

Posted in General, News, Raves, Television on December 18, 2011 by Michael Louis Calvillo

Another fluffy post. Sorry, Loyal Reader, but the SURVIVOR finale is on and it’s like three hours long (including the reunion). Needless to say, I’m busy…

Maybe something more meaningful tomorrow? I saw YOUNG ADULT and it definitely deserves a review. We can always talk some shop – writing stuff, etc…

But for now, forget all that! It’s time for SURVIVOR!!! Heck yes! I still got two Survivors in the running (my wife and I always choose two contestants in the first few weeks and then we ride our horses to victory! I always lose. Fingers crossed one of my picks actually pulls out a win!).

The next time you want to do something and think that you can’t do it, just stop whining, play this song and get to it!



Posted in General, News, Television on November 23, 2011 by Michael Louis Calvillo

I watch the X-FACTOR. Don’t know how many of you are – it hasn’t caught on like American Idol, but it’s still cool. It’s nice how the judges are also mentors who work closely with their artists. The prize is 5million bucks! It also seems likely a few of the artists will have careers no matter what happens. It’s kind of exciting. And a whole lot cheesy.


(Go Astro, go Astro, go!)

Astro, a fourteen-year-old rapper, is my favorite contestant, but, since he raps and doesn’t sing, he’s probably going home sooner than later. The little guy has talent and spunk and some real rapping skillz. Though performing covers, Astro tends to write his own verses, which gives the songs life. He spices things up, making them relevant. If he plays his cards right, and LA Reid takes him on, he can move beyond blase reality show arrangements and grow into a proper MC.

These Nerds Be Syndicated!

Posted in General, Raves, Television on November 15, 2011 by Michael Louis Calvillo

And the meek shall inherit the earth

I am watching a scene in which two main characters have been pantsed by a Meathead. They have no choice but to walk home in their underwear. One wears boxers, the other briefs. When they get home, they fall back into their standard, meaningless, sitcom story. It’s pleasant and innocuous. I laughed aloud more than a few times. I like that it features nerds. I’ve watched it about twenty times. It’s officially my new favorite show.

It’s hard to start a new show. I have a busy DVR. Working something new into the mix is tough. Most sitcoms start bad, bad, bad. They take a while to build steam and for their central characters to gell. These 20 episodes of THE BIG BANG THEORY took a bit to sink in. I watched the first one because it was on before Conan O’Brian. Then I kept catching theme before Conan and viola! I dig it.

(Fuzzy, but true…)

I’m still fuzzy with character names (though I have heard them a thousand times, I’m usually watching while blogging or surfing). I definitely know Sheldon. Jim Parson’s super nerd – he’s ridiculous and over the top, but the character is consistent. You start to believe somebody could act that absurd and walk around without getting his ass kicked.

He does this cool, little sidelong snicker, surprising himself as he laughs, that’s weird and then funny and then viral video funny (see the video at the end of this post).

The writing for the show is outlandish and as sitcom-dumb as most every other sitcom, but a lot of the geek references are right on (never mind how I know, I just know!). Most importantly, each of the supporting cast has grown into their characters as well. They form an endearing pack of dorks.

The normal neighbor, originally there for one of the nerds (all of the nerds) to ogle over, has grown into a fully-fledged character. The Chosen Nerd even spends a season or two (I am watching these things in random blocks and sometimes I am uncertain where I am in the timeline) dating the normal chick. They’re friends now. New love interests have been added to spice things up. Another nice touch is how characters get catty, and petty, and jealous, but then end up best friends with their boyfirend’s new girlfriend and on and on…sitcom drama…

(Nerds in action – from the scene I decribed above)

It’s good stuff.

Sheldon does that laugh thing a number of times in this clip. Grammy winning stuff, Loyal Reader…

The Wit & Wisdom of Michael Gary Scott

Posted in Raves, Television on October 3, 2011 by Michael Louis Calvillo

Who memorizes The Pledge of Allegiance to the tune of Old MacDonald?

Who prefers Eddie Murphy in Raw to his performance in Daddy Day Care, but still asserts that both films are “Great movies”?

Who attempts a Survivorman type wilderness adventure, cuts off his slack’s pant legs because it is too hot, then tapes them back together with duct tape when the sun begins to set and things cool down?

Oh, Loyal Reader, I’m sure most of you are well-acquainted with The Office’s endearing, dumb Michael Scott (if not, you’re missing out), but man, I love, love, love the guy!

I watch the show in primetime and then watch episode after episode in syndication and I never get tired of it. I’ve seen some episodes five, six, seven times and I’ll still sit there and watch. The jokes work again and again and again. Michael Scott has me laughing aloud again and again and again.

Understand – I am not a rube. It takes a certain effort to make me laugh. I am a pretentious, jerky, cerebral, pop-culture snob. I am more likely to dislike a show than like it. If Facebook had a dislike button, I’d proudly push the sucker over and over again. Most sitcoms have me grinding my teeth in irritation. But Mr. Michael Scott? That dude is comedy gold.


(It never gets old…)

The Office has a whole bunch going for it. I was worried that when Michael Scott left at the end of last season that the show would suffer, but, two episodes into the new season, and they’ve done some wondrously funny things with their bevy of talented supporting players (the Nard-dog is shining).

The addition of James Spader as Robert California, a man so smart that when applying for a managerial position he ends up talking the CEO out of her job and stepping in, has been a brilliant addition. He inspires and debases without impunity (and often in the very same quip). Mainstream sitcoms rarely kick so much comedic butt.

And while I am looking forward to each new episode, and enjoying laughing at some solid writing, nothing can hold a candle to the wisdom of Michael Scott.

No matter what happens with the show, he will be missed. His pathos, his sad-sack, over-eager doofus offends, then cracks you up, then breaks your heart, all in equal abundance. The poor guy simply wants to be loved. Everybody can relate.

Steve Carell has gotten miles and miles out of the character. He’s done such an incredible job I actually wish the character was real. I wish Michael Scott was one of my friends.


(Groucho Marx: “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.”  Michael Scott: “That’s what she said!!!”)

Remember the time he visited a kindergarten classroom in an economically stressed neighborhood?

During a career-day type event, he enthusiastically promised a class of at-risk kids that he’d put them through college so long as they made it to the big day and graduated from high school.

Twelve years later, each and every one of Scott’s Tots has made it to the big day and they are expecting a full ride. Michael shows up, basking in the fanfare, milking the false glory for all of its worth, dragging things out until the last possibly second when he has no choice but to admit (during a particularly painful speech) that he can’t follow through with his financial obligation. As a consolation, he gives each student a brand new laptop…wait for it…wait for it…battery!


Best episode ever.

Okay then, Loyal Reader, without further adieu – I am proud to present the wisdom of Michael Scott…

Awesome quote #1

Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy, both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”

Awesome quote #2

I love babies. I think they are beautiful in all sorts of different ways. I try to pick up and hold a baby every day, if possible, because it nourishes me. It feeds my soul. Babies are drawn to me. And I think it’s because they see me as one of them. But … cooler and with my life put together a little bit more. If a baby were president, there would be no taxes. There would be no war.

Awesome quote #3

I don’t want somebody sucking up to me because they think I am going to help their career. I want them sucking up to me because they genuinely love me.”

Awesome quote #4

Yes, money has been a little tight lately. But, at the end of my life, when I’m sitting on my yacht, am I gonna be thinking about how much money I have? No. I’m going to be thinking about how many friends I have, and my children, and my comedy albums. I mean, I have a yacht, so I obviously did pretty well money-wise.”

Awesome quote #5

My philosophy is basically this. And this is something that I live by. And I always have. And I always will. Don’t ever, for any reason, do anything to anyone, for any reason, ever, no matter what. No matter … where. Or who, or who you are with, or where you are going, or … or where you’ve been … ever. For any reason, whatsoever.”

And so it goes, on and on and on…

I could post these things all day, but that’s what the Internet is for, right? So, get out there and search for some more Michael Scott quotes. If you are in need of a smile, they work wonders.

See you tomorrow, Party People.


The man can’t help it…


Metal With Melody

Posted in General, Music, News, Raves, Television on September 17, 2011 by Michael Louis Calvillo

My latest obsession is VH1 Classic’s   THAT METAL SHOW, in which three, New Yorker Metal Head Journalists and comedians, host a Metal talk show and banter about hard rock trivia. I like the show’s shaggy approach. The hosts are likable guys.

I get about eighty percent of what they’re talking about. I’ve always been a music buff. I like reading Rock Star biographies and books about rock culture. There are some bands I’ve only read about, but haven’t heard. I’m not so familiar with lots of the older Metal – Deep Purple, Saxon, Iron Maiden (though I loved all of their rock-horror Evil Eddie-the-head art), and even Judas Priest (though Breaking the Law managed to work its way into popular culture thanks to Beavis & Butthead). I’m good with Black Sabbath and AC/DC. Same with most of the hair Metal 80s stuff. Same with some of the subgenre stuff – industrial rock, death Metal.

(Ed The Head – Iconic Metal art.)

I don’t dig most of the atonal thrash stuff. Some guitar riffs really stand out, but musically things are focused on being heavy and the vocals suffer. Grunts and growls suffice. Melody is either accidental or perpetrated by true artistry, but not necessary. Most Metal heads don’t care. They lock into a heavy groove and rawk it. I understand, but thanks to those Beatles, the bar has been set. Some Metal just falls short.

Michelle and I have been to a number of hardcore concerts over the years, from when were young romantics in black up until just a couple of years ago. We’ve seen everything from Gwar to Marilyn Manson to Korn. We even saw Blue Oyster Cult (at a fair ground no less).

(Gwar – The Scumdogs of The Universe sound as good as they look!)

At some of these concerts (when we were young), we got pretty physical – shoved up against the stage, chaos erupting behind us in an explosion of mosh pits and leaning masses. Sweat mingles. Bruises develop. It was an exhilarating time, Loyal Reader.

We don’t go to live music much as of late. The last few shows we caught were mellow affairs. Martini bar type settings with table seating and say…I don’t know…someone like Matthew Sweet (we saw him in San Francisco at The Boom-Boom Room) rocking to the politely drinking room of thirty-something hipsters. A very different vibe, huh?

I prefer the grit and grime of a relentless punk show, but I’m too old for that stuff. Those bruises don’t heal so fast. I can’t shake off an accidental boot to the head like I used to.

But we have THAT METAL SHOW. We can relive our fiery youths through spirited conversation with the rockers who helped make it all possible. It’s interesting, it fuels my pop trivia fire. It’s cathartic.

Eddie Trunk, Jim Florentine, and Don Jamieson, are well-versed in the ways of Metal. Their inner fourteen-year-olds are strong. More importantly, they can carry a show. They make Metal sing.

I’m gonna watch tonight’s new episode right now…

Here’s Steven Adler on an earlier episode…

The Great Reality TV Experiment

Posted in Books, Raves, Television on September 14, 2011 by Michael Louis Calvillo

Ah! TVs! And Kevin James! Some lazy posts lately. Let’s get back to the writing stuff!

Or, how about reading stuff?

Teaching gives me the opportunity to reread and re-teach some of the classics. Right now, I’m in my third week of laying down a solid foundation from upon which to teach Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey. We don’t read the whole Odyssey. The entire book is almost six hundred pages of ancient Greek verse. We read excerpts from a few of the The Odyssey’s many books. About a hundred and twenty pages worth. Not a bad sampling. Then we watch the movie and write essays about all of it.


I love The Odyssey. I even love the word. The way it sounds. The way it rolls off the tongue. And I love Odysseus, the epic’s all-too human hero (you see, he’s got flaws and stuff – that what makes him a true hero, his humility, his humanity). The Gods are JEALOUS of the man’s vigor. His love for life. His obscene thought that he was equal or better than the Gods got them all riled up. How dare the vain man boast that he is better than an immortal?

Spicing things up, interfering with human triumph (and loss), the Gods use Odysseus as their own reality TV show experiment, pitting him against monsters, and ferocious oceans, and wily, seductresses. He engages in a ten-year struggle to escape the war-time horrors of Troy and make his way home to his beloved wife, Penelope. Worse, but awesome for drama, Penelope is besieged by 12o suitors, all eager to marry her and seize Odysseus’ kingdom of Ithaca. They eat her food and drink her wine, in excess, taking advantage of the laws of the land which demanded a widowed queen must be wed and giving the suitors the right to lounge about until she chooses one to take her long-missing husband’s place.

(Odysseus and his bow get mighty bloody. Best. Ending. Ever!)

That reads like a mighty fine movie pitch, doesn’t it? Why hasn’t some Hollywood producer gotten behind a big-budget screen version? We watch a version from the Sy-fy Channel. Simply titled, THE ODYSSEY, it’s a nineties production starring Armand Assante (who is fabulous) and a host of other Greeks. Eric Roberts chews it up as one of the evil suitors. The CGI is nineties bad, but the acting is lively and when the production uses real SFX in conjunction with the clunky CGI, they sometimes pull off stylized charm. It makes the movie fun.

We all know the whole book is better than the movie thing and it definitely applies here. The Odyssey is a masterpiece for a reason. It’s not only old and historical, it’s fun and pulpy. Odysseus is a charismatic dude. The action is fierce. Romantic interludes are sexy. It’s a great read.

The text is a joy to teach. I love the front-loading, where we study Chaos and Gaia and the Titans and the Olympians. I love transporting a crew of kids back four thousand years and reading interesting poetry about monsters and Odysseus’ cunning. I can’t believe I get paid to do it.

(In the beginning…there was Chaos!)

Tonight is a very important TV night. Survivor starts while Big Brother and America’s Got Talent comes to an end. That’s way too much TV! I like to get to sleep as early as I can (10ish), but this lineup is compromising my chances of getting a long night’s sleep.

We are gonna start at 8 and see how long we can go. If Michelle or I go down early, we’ll have to catch up on our DVR tomorrow, except tomorrow, the endings of AGT and BB may be revealed in class (some kids watch the shows). We have to decide which to watch tonight.

Till tomorrow, Loyal Reader! Survivor is calling…