• This is one of my top-10 favorite movies. It was one of the first “art films” I saw, and it’s one of those moments when I thought, “Movies can do that?” It’s about loneliness, creativity, male desire… and it’s so damn light on its feet. I’m always torn as to whether this or La Dolce Vita is better, and my heart always leans towards this one.

    Happiness consists of being able to tell the truth without hurting anyone.

    The origins of the movie are exactly as you inferred – Fellini was coming off the high of La Dolce Vita, and everyone wanted to know what was next. But he didn’t know. So he eventually decided to make a movie about a director trying to follow his biggest hit. Fellini had made 6 feature films and 3 short films – or 7 1/2 movies – so his next project was his 8 1/2 movie. Hence the name (it was almost The beautiful Confusion).

    If you haven’t seen Stardust Memories, watch it soon. It’s Woody Allen’s riff on this.

    • Son of Griff

      This was possibly my first “art house” movie as well, and stylistically it really impressed me, although quite frankly, at 15, the story didn’t hold my attention. As I’ve aged I understand what the characters are going through and what the situations mean, but I’ve only seen it in fragments. All this means that its up for a re-watch, despite the fact that I have little affection for the directors work post JULIET OF THE SPIRITS.

      • Yuhaddabia “Big Shot” Dijna

        Not even AMARCORD? That’s maybe my favorite Fellini.

        • Son of Griff

          I do like parts of AMARCORD, but I can’t say it holds my interest as a whole. Overall, I find the scope of Fellini’s interests and obsessions too limited for me to relate to.

    • Delmars Whiskers

      Is it wrong that I kind of prefer Stardust Memories to 8 1/2?

      • I do, too.

      • No – it’s shorter and less self-indulgent. Arguably funnier, too.

      • Ildajharris


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  • Drunk Napoleon

    What did we watch?

    • Drunk Napoleon

      The Wire, Season Two, Episode Seven, “Backwash”
      I can’t remember if I bothered noting the shift of technology underlying the whole series, but it’s starting to come to the forefront, destroying the stevedor way of life and changing the nature of police work.

      Stringer went behind Avon’s back to kill D’Angelo, breaking the rules of the game, but he also gets the payoff of being able to negotiate new product for the towers, which Avon rejects. Stringer is a hard man to read.

      I’ve been consumed with the idea of characters within a show telling stories via monologue in the same mode as the show, and I was inspired by Breaking Bad having that counselor tell Jesse the story of how he killed his daughter, which I thought was very BB (and I thought ahead of Mike’s ‘no half measures’ speech, which did the same thing). This episode, I got a character telling a Wire story, with Frank telling that guy the story of the guy who stole Tang. It had a sympathetic lead character, an intricate explanation of a structure, and existed to make an angry rhetorical point (and even got a counter-story from the guy).

      I’m always kind of annoyed that I never have much to say about The Wire – certainly not as much I usually do about Breaking Bad, which I realise now comes down mostly to me having a complex emotional reaction to each character over a complex intellectual reaction. I don’t feel as hysterically as I do about The Shield, but I feel distressed when bad things happen to these people, as well as a broad, nonspecific anger about how trapped everybody is.

      Breaking Bad, Season Three, Episode Two, “Caballo Sin Nombre”

      This is the episode where Walt throws the pizza on the roof, and that is a big fucking pizza! It’s bigger than my dining room table! It could feed my extended family! I could live off that pizza alone for a week! If America’s concerned about the obesity crisis, maybe you guys should look at your pizza sizes!

      Anyway, my reaction to Walt shifted here, from sympathy to finding him kind of a sad, laughable figure. Someone over at the Avocado observed that the plot slows down around the third season, which gave me a that’s-true-but-I’m-still-surprised reaction because I never noticed the pacing in the third season. I see now it’s because while the story still moves, it has lots of plot-irrelevant details inbetween – Walt cleaning the motel pool for no good reason, for example. These let us see where Walt’s mind is, though I think it also distances us from him a bit.

      As Walt says, he’s at a crossroads, trying to decide where to go next. He acts out by antagonising a cop, apologising afterwards, and he’s collating data on Skyler via his son. Flynn/Jr is mainly remembered as eating breakfast, but he’s really more active in the plot than even I remember, acting as a living device for Walt’s pettiness. Walt sees the effect his actions have had on his family, but he also sees an advantage he can use against Skyler.

      Meanwhile, Jesse discovers his aunt’s house is for sale, and he tries to reconnect with his father. When he’s rebuffed, he decides fuck it, I’m the bad guy, and enlists Saul to buy the house in the most underhanded, petty way possible that fucks both his parents over as hard as possible. Frankly, I found it delightful, though in this case it’s less “trying to win/steal back my family” and more “fucking over my family for abandoning me”. Jesse’s essentially getting back at them for being a bad family.

      Finally, the cousins get to Albuquerque, with Hank on the case. They find Tio in an old folk’s home and talk to him with a Ouija board, which is totally awesome. Mike sneaks over to the White house to plant a bug, only to see both Walt breaking in and the cousins following him, and he thinks fast by calling Gus to call them off. Gilligan said that season three was both unplanned, and intended to get outside of Walt’s head after season two was so deeply in it, so that we could see danger closing in on him before he did; the side effect of this choice is that there are so many more dramatic players, making it more interesting and thrilling.

      High Noon, dir. by Fred Zinnemann.
      I’ve gone through the whole thing backwards – I saw Assault On Precinct 13 before Rio Bravo and I saw Rio Bravo before I saw this. I prefer it to RB, because there’s no faffing about – just straight into the plot and off to the races.

      I know the whole thing was, if not intentionally then at least seen as a metaphor for blacklisting and the communist witch-hunt going on at the time. Unlike On The Waterfront, I found it neither seemed that close a ‘metaphor’ nor, for lack of a better word, relatable – I could project familiar feelings about keeping your mouth shut vs speaking up onto OTW, while High Noon had the distinction of being about a guy who stands up for something that doesn’t even fully make sense to him, and forced to stand alone.

      (Though I’ll happily take anything that pisses off John Wayne)

      • Drunk Napoleon
      • I went Rio Bravo -> Assault on Precinct 13 -> High Noon, and I’d rank them in that order too. I like the faffing about, I think! High Noon is a bit too minimal and repetitive for me, although I can see how its stark nature would be a good thing in the eyes of others.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          High Noon is a bit too long for my taste – its like a good writing exercise that simply goes on forever by its very nature (you have to go to this citizen, and this one, etc.)

          • All the interactions are pretty much the same, too – “you should leave town!” “…no”.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Thinking on it, one of the things I really like about it is how that ticking timeclock scenario gives every action an extra layer of tension, as each step makes time run out. They don’t just go in circles, they circle the drain.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I’m probably being a bit too harsh on it as I saw it as a middle schooler, its just that I think I got what it was doing (and I like the third act because the big action actually occurs) and was nevertheless bored.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            In terms of Westerns, there’s definitely a bunch I’d put ahead of it.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I mentioned this on The Dissolve but I’m weird as I grew up almost entirely with anti-Westerns and Leone movies so my inherent starting point with the West is Little Big Man and The Outlaw Josey Wales, both of which see the stories as bullshit and actually try to see the Native Americans as decent people who were destroyed (its not a total success but they almost get there).

          • Son of Griff

            I’ve suggested this before, but for contemporary viewers, Westerns might be better approached from starting from more recent examples and working one’s way backwards. More so than any other genre, historical revisionism has trumped the tropes and themes of the genre, and it might be easier to appreciate the narrative elements from a modern perspective before you confront the regressive social attitudes embedded elsewhere in the text.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Funny you mention this as I watched The Searchers a few months ago and I don’t think I’d have been struck by the darkness and cruelty of Ethan if I hadn’t started with Leone and Eastwood and worked out from there.

          • Son of Griff

            Perfect example. I think many people, myself included, were primed to view it a revisionist Western when it comes to race, but its really taking race and gender on another, darker, yet more complex direction entirely within a storytelling tradition independent of political sensitivity. Once you reject your preconceptions about what the movie is supposed to represent (an issue that I’ve particularly struggled with in THE SEARCHERS) it’s structure and meaning become more apparent.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          I like Rio Bravo when it gets going, but the long road to the plot just bores me.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Though if you’re into slice of life Western, I could see the appeal.

          • Yeah, I think my tastes do lie that way.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        “Whatever happened ta…Gary Cooper? The strong silent type? He wasn’t in touch with his feelings, he did what he had ta do!”

      • ZoeZ

        Refresh my memory: is the pizza that Walt tosses from the same place where, per Badger and Skinny Pete, they don’t cut it and pass the savings on to you?

        Technology on The Wire: I always liked the bit in the first season about how the police could only afford the chunkiest and most obvious surveillance equipment, basically like strapping a tape recorder to your chest, and so McNulty has to call in favors to get outside 21st century tech. Even when they want to do the work and are fully intellectually capable of it, they run into obstacles of funding, stonewalling, obsolete equipment, etc.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Breaking Bad so rarely went meta that when it did, it was gold.

          Wire tech: I like how that ties into the fact that the gangs consciously chose to use beepers because they were essentially too old-fashioned to hack (as well as being, you know, cheap).

        • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

          Refresh my memory: is the pizza that Walt tosses from the same place where, per Badger and Skinny Pete, they don’t cut it and pass the savings on to you?

          I think it is! IIRC the Badger / Skinny Pete exchange happens in season four, and I think it’s actually written as a callback to the fact that the pizza Walt threw on the roof is conspicuously not cut.

      • glorbes

        I really liked High Noon, though I know a number of people aren’t crazy about it. It worked like gangbusters for me, even if Cooper marrying Kelly was really, really creepy (but not uncommon for a movie of that time).

      • Son of Griff

        Hawks’ complaint about HIGH NOON generally had to do with most of its running time being devoted to people explaining their actions to abandon Cooper in his moment of need when, from a genre standpoint, those reasons don’t have to be explained much at all. The central job of the Marshall, story wise, is to do his job and leave everyone else out of it. Personally, I think its remarkable that the film manages to continue building suspense despite its continuous digressions. I think it works because it integrates those wayward moments into an ebb and flow rhythm that works on a counter-intuitive manner. Great editing doesn’t hurt either.

        I’ve screened both HIGH NOON and RIO BRAVO together in classes as a dialogic double feature, and I’ve been surprised that, overall, students prefer the latter, even though it’s longer and has a more laid back narrative drive.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        Season three’s plot structure seems essentially divided into two seasons; the first four episodes are a bit slow because we know there’s a stall going on– obviously Walt is going to accept Gus’ offer eventually, or there wouldn’t be a show– but then you have moments like Les Cousins Dangereux showing up in his home in episode two, and you realize the writers might have learned a lesson or two about relentless plotting from The Shield. Anyway, the intensity ramps up for the half-season climax of “Sunset” / “One Minute” (with the denouement of “I See You”), then slows down for a few more episodes before the bam-bam of “Half Measures” / “Full Measure.”

      • Bhammer100

        I really liked HIGH NOON when I first saw it (sometime last year actually) and I wonder how the movie would fare if it was remade today. Then I saw 3:10 TO YUMA sometime after that and I thought it did HIGH NOON better than HIGH NOON. They both have that sense of the clock ticking down, and they both have the hero slowly finding out they are going to have to go at it alone. But YUMA lets us get to personally know the villain (Glenn Ford was fucking charming in this movie). And I love that while the hero is slowly find out that he is going to have to do his task alone, he is constantly being seduced by the dark side. It just adds another tension to the movie and character. It kind of saddened me when I saw they kind of skipped over that part in the remake (maybe to keep the pace moving or maybe they thought it would be too predictable that the hero wouldn’t get seduced? I don’t know).

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Chris Gethard: Career Suicide – reviewed Chris Gethard’s new special for Punknews! Really loved it and was surprised at my teariness near the end. The mix of laughs and dark content could be contrived but it never feels that way.

      Lovesick, S02E01/2/3. Overall the show has really improved, especially in terms of having a comic ensemble (save Angus who’s just not that funny to me, sorry pal) and there’s a melancholy and sadness to it that How I Met Your Mother, while having similar non-chronological storytelling, could barely reach. It’s a story about two people who should be together but every aspect of their lives complicates that story, and we see how exactly that all came together to make them unhappy.

    • ZoeZ

      The Leftovers, “Cairo.” Oh, Jill, no. You’re making a huge mistake and you don’t even know the half of it. On the side of Patti, Kevin, and the cabin: this was a terrific showcase episode for Ann Dowd, who is forceful, passionate, and charismatic even when I think the angle Patti is pushing is complete nonsense. And the Guilty Remnant’s plan for Memorial Day is horrific and cruel.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I’m still not totally sure if the Guilty Remnant totally works (its arguably the one piece of the plot that truly feels like a novelist’s device compared to the rest of the series) – the cigarettes and white jumpsuits all feel a bit contrived and too goofy to spread like wildfire. But Lindelof nails the philosophy and why it is so appealing. Its so comforting to give into destructive nihilism when the world has ended, and it feels like a real response.

        • lgauge

          That’s interesting, because the jumpsuits and cigarettes are such visual devices too. I agree that it’s not in the vicinity of realism, but I think it works as a visual metaphor for the psychology of these characters. We don’t have time to really delve into the minds of more than a few of them and this establishes very clearly a kind of collective mania. I also don’t think they would be nearly so menacing without it, which I do think also works as an in-world justification.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I mean can see why it makes sense visually and logistically, it just feels more like something Perotta would make up than anything else in this universe (which is basically fantasy/science fiction but also…not).

        • ZoeZ

          For me, Laurie is crucial in selling the Guilty Remnant: even when operating entirely under its constraints, she’s obviously intelligent, compassionate, and reasonable, a woman using this philosophy to grapple with something immense. She makes that compelling for me even when I get annoyed at them in a nitpicky way–“There’s no fundamental difference between talking and writing things down!” “People can remember the Departure without ceaselessly dwelling on it!”

          To be clear, I think that just means I’d be a poor fit for the GR, not that the show’s wrong to think it would–even in its inconsistencies–be appealing to a lot of people in the aftermath of this kind of event.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I also loved when Patti just started talking to Laurie because…fuck it, no one else is here. It made the cult feel slightly more, if not human, more understandable. Ann Dowd is really good at making the cult’s ideas feel realistic if terrifying.

    • lgauge

      Minnie and Moskowitz: A simultaneous celebration and rebuke of messy, doomed love. Their reputations both preceding them, I’m happy to report that neither Cassavetes nor Rowlands did disappoint me in this first encounter. The film is so alive at every moment, so adept at capturing a human spirit beyond superficial behavior. While the visual direction should not be ignored, one can’t help but feel that a large part of the success is the terrific dialogue and the performances. How else can we observe these awkward people and events, these at times most objectionable behaviors that would send us running in real life, and be taken in by the slow perpetual charm of the moments of cinema that pull us in with just a little more force than we’re inclined to pull away?

      It’s not just that some of the words crackle or that some of the gestures invite and soothe, it’s the entire construction. The structure of the film, what we see and when, the way it just suddenly jump cuts mid-sentence, implying by its absence a whole sequence that may or may not have had a significant impact on the characters and their relationship and/or internal lives. These cuts add by taking away, adding time by removing time, and in so doing make us accept numerous almost ridiculous turns of events. Somehow I found myself cheering for this relationship that’s so obviously bad and wrong. Obviously so for the reasons so incredibly matter-of-factly and uproariously funnily laid out by Moskowitz’s mother, but also because of his temper that always seems like it’s on the verge of resulting in the kind of abuse that Minnie seemed to be escaping when her previous lover ended things. Show me these things on paper, show me these in most movies, and I’m rolling my eyes at this relationship, but here I find myself reluctantly feeling moved by it. The film pulls off a weird magic trick and I’m extremely impressed in my bafflement at Cassavetes and Rowlands, and everyone else for that matter, for making it happen.

      The grainy urban 70s aesthetic is certainly not be underestimated here, with some truly wonderful uses of night time photography against backdrops of shining lights and signs. It’s rarely front and center, but adds the perfect amount of dreaminess to a film whose at times absolute realism arm wrestles with its slightly absurd plot. The sequence set to The Blue Danube is especially noteworthy to me, though obviously in part for how to me personally it can’t help but reference 2001, adding a small pocket of quiet grace to an otherwise mostly erratic or emotionally explosive film. Demonstrating in this sequence most clearly how the film so often can be incredibly tender even in the most volatile circumstances. No small feat at all.

      • John Bruni

        Another significant Cassavetes film. Because he made it for a major studio, he could get permission to include clips of classic movies. Lots of great scenes. Minnie saying to her friend how movies lie to us, and then drunkenly taking a pratfall show Rowland’s talent for living in her character.

        While the jump cuts give the film a European flavor, the use of The Blue Danube is, arguably, Cassavetes’s jab at Kubrick, whose films Cassasvetes felt were over-intellectualized. And the wedding scene at the end, when the priest stumbles over the vows, actually happened to Cassavetes and Rowlands.

      • Son of Griff

        I love this film, particularly in how it melds emotion and a general philosophy towards life. I’m surprised that it isn’t better known within the Cassavettes canon, but being buried in a major studio’s catalogue probably has something to do with it.

        • John Bruni

          Reportedly, the screenplay generated quite a buzz in Hollywood. The problems occurred when the studio made casting suggestions, Nicholson’s name came up. Cassavetes would rather jump off a cliff than to work with star actors, whom he knew from experience (working, and fighting with, Burt Lancaster and Judy Garland while directing A Child Is Waiting, which, in part, got him fired) would make things for him more difficult.

          The studio never forgave Cassavetes for robbing the film of box-office draw, and buried it. Even now, it’s the only film, not disowned by Cassavetes, that has not had a decent DVD release.

          • Son of Griff

            Thanks for amplifying my suspicions as to the reasons for its basic invisibility.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            It was streaming on Netflix for a bit but that was before they really started burying smaller movies.

          • CineGain

            It’s currently for free to watch on Youtube. I’m assuming that a boutique label or Criterion will try to pick up the film for release, speciality CC for their Cassavetes package.

          • Son of Griff

            Cinemoi or another cable channel was running it rather often about 4 years ago, which is where I saw it.

          • clytie

            This TV used to show it too.

    • Twin Peaks, season 2, episodes 4 and 5 – I really enjoyed these two. The first couple of normal-length episodes of this season felt a bit disjointed to me, but the blend of soapy nonsense, dark happenings and plot progress in these two felt just right. I love the Winnebago-driving judge, and Donna telling stories to Harold Smith (especially now I’ve heard another side to those stories by reading Laura’s diary) and Sheriff Truman sending his “best man” to meet Cooper at the Road House.

      Excited for 6 and 7. As I recall, those are good ones.

    • glorbes

      Richard Hatch has arrived to sleaze and smarm his way into the Battlestar Galactica re-watch. And I love it. Tom Zarek is quite a character, and I hope to be half as cool looking as Hatch when I’m his age. Also, Nu-Apollo, while his words and actions are noble, annoys the fuck out of me.

      I also started Arkham City. As Batman-like as Asylum was, I like that I’m actually moving around BUILDINGS in a CITY. Also, making this game Escape From New York but with Batman instead of Snale Plissken, is, well, let’s just say that those are two flavours that go very well together for this guy.

    • lgauge

      *notices the sudden appearance of an actual Film on … post* *glances nervously at @tristannankervis:disqus * *passes out from stress*

      • Drunk Napoleon

        I know! If I’d just waited five minutes…

        • lgauge

          We need a better system!

          • Drunk Napoleon

            We had a working system! The Twin Peaks stuff sort of muddled everything.

          • glorbes

            It’s hard to believe that Twin Peaks could muddle and confuse ANYTHING.

          • THERE’S A FISH IN THE… SOLUTE… POST QUEUE?

          • Drunk Napoleon

            That movie you like is about to come back in style…

          • glorbes

            IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN.

    • Woman in Gold–Boringly middlebrow movie about a topic I think is pretty interesting (reclaiming art that was stolen by the Nazis). Ryan Reynolds wears glasses, so you know he’s serious, and Katie Holmes is a nagging wife, so you know Reynolds is playing a Great Man because she’s holding him back. There are some nice touches, and the flashbacks to the actual Nazi-occupied past are pretty good, mostly because of an always-great Tatiana Maslany (speaking French, in fact–is there anything she can’t do?). But on the whole, this isn’t that interesting.

      • glorbes

        People need to stop making “Nazis stealing art” movies, because they all suck in comparison to The Train.

        • Nazis are stealing art movies? *fiercely protects Malick collection*

          • glorbes

            Heh, clarifying quotation marks added.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            No Wagner? No, deal!

          • glorbes

            No, Wagner. No! Deal!

          • Faster, Wagnercat! Deal! Deal!

          • glorbes

            Beyond the Valley of the NO WAGNER NO DEAL.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            This is the second time in 24 hours that someone’s responded to me riffing on a movie title by responding with a Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! joke, which is incredibly specific a situation.

          • glorbes

            We do have fun, don’t we?

          • glorbes

            I often think about the things that happen in the comments here or elsewhere, and how completely nonsensical it would seem for me to explain any of it to any of the people in my day to day life.

          • “So we just kind of hang out and talk about how great The Shield is. Sometimes somebody complains about The Americans.”

          • I’ve never even seen the movie. It just came to mind.

          • Eh, you’re probably good. Not enough Wagner in those.

          • glorbes

            No Wagner? NO DEAL.

          • *said in Soup Nazi voice* NO ART MOVIE FOR YOU!

        • Delmars Whiskers

          Surprisingly, the vast majority of movies suck in comparison to The Train.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Holmes: Stop being so great!
        Reynolds: Damn it Wife Person, I’m wearing glasses, can’t you see I’m SERIOUS

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Imagining Reynolds saying that in a comedy is cracking me up. He could pull it off.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I feel like he’d happily say that too. Man, how good is he in Mississippi Grind?

    • Handmaid’s Tale, Episode 3 – So Alexis Bledel is great as Rory Gilmore, but I was worried she wouldn’t quite rise to this show. She was absolutely the MVP this ep. She has to convey so much with just her eyes and posture, and it works. But the show keeps getting more and more disturbing – there’s an image that’ll probably give me Kafka dreams for a while, and the sadism is only growing. Bledel’s character is a lesbian – a “gender traitor” – and her lover is hanged, and Bledel is forced to undergo female genital mutilation..

      It’s incredible that a show this dark is getting so much attention. Game of Thrones is dark, right? But it’s a fantasy show, and over the top. So much of the violence is badass. The Handmaid’s Tale is so unflinching and urgent, there’s no distance. It’s not even that violent – it’s just cruel.

      What I keep wondering is how many fetishists will adopt this show. The rituals and vestments perfectly lend themselves to kink, and while I’m hardly one to kink-shame, I feel like it would be missing the point here…

    • Delmars Whiskers

      Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened–the making and unmaking of the original production of Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, as told by Lonny Price, one of the original leads. At first I thought it would be too centered on Price’s life story, but he expands to include the profound effect the show had on fellow cast members, and…

      I should probably point out here that my ex-wife and I tried to mount a community theater production of Sondheim’s Company, and its failure set off repercussions in our relationship that would ultimately doom our marriage. So, although it should have occurred to me before watching that these memories would probably come flooding back, somehow the thought never crossed my mind, and by the time the credits rolled I was weeping uncontrollably.

      Is it a good movie? I think so, but my personal reaction to it makes it kinda hard to be objective.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Something makes me think Merrily We Roll Along is a cursed musical, like the Macbeth of Sondheim plays. Even John Doyle’s revival got scathing reviews.

        • Delmars Whiskers

          A big part of the problem is George Furth’s book. His script is the weakest part of Company, too.

    • clytie

      The most recent episode of Better Call Saul episode 4 of The Leftovers and last night’s episode of Supernatural.

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      I got a few days backlog, so…

      Black-ish, “All Groan Up” – A pretty standard episode about Dre and Bow’s fears of their children growing up, but a little heavier on flashback than usual. (Man, it’s weird to see how much older Marcus Scribner looks now compared to season 1.) Also “Liberal Arts”, AKA clearly the backdoor pilot for A Different World-esque spinoff starring Zoey. It was good, though– and if it goes to series, hopefully we get more Matt Walsh and Chris Parnell. (The writers did not pull punches in their use of Walsh’s character to underline the whole CEO-president profit mentality of universities in our day.)

      Bob’s Burgers, “Linda, Lies and Videotape.” Another triptych with the three children each telling a story, this time about what happened at the school’s Mother’s Day performances when Bob’s video camera (predictably, but still hilariously) fails to record. A pretty good episode. I usually like these.

      Fresh Off the Boat, “This Is Us.” Eddie graduates eighth grade; he and his friends start preparing to go to high school and go over their plans to stick together (the only thing worse than being a freshman is being a freshman with no friends). Evan wants to get into private school, however, which through a long, convoluted (yet believable) series of events, means the Huangs are buying a house in a gated community– and that means Eddie will have to leave his friends behind. Also, Emery makes a video of the graduation and Eddie and friends add Pop-Up Video-style embarrassing facts to it. Then it’s stolen by the stepbrother of Eddie’s sickly looking friend. (I don’t remember any of their names except Trent, who played Chad “Fuck with me and my dad will beat the shit out of your dad and threaten to butt-fuck your mother in front of you” Velcoro in True Detective.) The scene of them getting it back is unexpected and very funny. Apparently the first part of a two-parter to close out the season.

      Making History, “The Duel.” This show’s intriguing premise has led to some all-over-the-place episodes– accidentally changing history, longer plots about people from the past adapting to the modern world– and here we have Neil Casey and John Gemberling as Sam Adams and John Hancock, refusing to return to 1775 and then getting in a duel over the water delivery woman at Deborah’s ice cream shop. They are a pretty entertaining duo, and another intriguing plot seed is planted when Dan (Adam Pally) stupidly gets the idea to publicize the ice cream shop with a piece in the local paper, which leads reporter Natalie Morales to start investigating why the shop was recently bought with cash by two guys named “Sam Adams” and “John Hancock.” (Speaking of, how did coming back to the present day with a bunch of cash from 1919 not immediately raise suspicion? The show has a few too many plot holes and inconsistencies like that.) Alas, that seed will never blossom; the show was cancelled yesterday.

      Norm Macdonald, Hitler’s Dog, Gossip and Trickery. The new standup special from arguably the funniest man alive. I don’t think it’s quite as good as Me Doing Stand-Up, and he uses a couple of jokes I’ve heard before, but there are some brilliant bits in there as well. Norm’s material on death is, as always, incredible, and the special might have the best ending of any standup set I’ve ever seen. Available on Netflix. What are you waiting for? Go watch it.

      Oh, and I finally finished my Norm Macdonald Weekend Update watch– his last episode was season 23, episode 9, hosted by Helen Hunt; it’s the final episode of 1997. He not only made two O.J. jokes, but one of them was an incredible feat of turning the Latrell Sprewell story into an O.J. joke, so it’s no surprise Don Ohlmeyer shitcanned him after this one. (The only people whose late-night or weekly talk shows I think I’ve given a crap about this decade are Norm, Anthony Jeselnik, Larry Wilmore, and Nikki Glaser, so needless to say they were all cancelled in relatively short order.)

    • Bhammer100

      Hell on Wheels Season 4

      Law and order has come to Hell on Wheels – to put it simply, things do not go smoothly. I really love these kind of stories – a seemingly unstoppable and all-powerful opponent rides into town and our main characters have to fight to survive and the tension between the outsider and residents of the town rise and rise throughout the season (Season 3 of Deadwood had this kind of tension with the arrival of George Hearst. As did Season 3 of Boardwalk Empire with the unpredictable Gyp Rosetti. So did Season 3 of Justified with Robert Quarles. Man, a lot of season 3s.). Things escalate quickly in season 4. A lot of bad shit happens. And I think season 4 of Hell on Wheels might be the best the series has had to offer so far. It also doesn’t hurt that this is also the most emotional season so far with the death of Elam and Ezra (who had a small presence in the show but wasn’t an important character) and, to my surprise, Ruth. Ruth definitely hit the hardest, and while I’m sad she’s gone, I’m glad the writers didn’t find a way to back out and let her live (I was actually kind of expecting that to happen. I’m glad the writers took the risk)

      I’ve heard that Hell on Wheels kind of turns into a mess sometime in its run but so far, I haven’t seen it. I think it has actually been pretty consistent in quality – not must see TV but a fairly solid show. It does have problems – some of the characterizations can be a little wonky and the story may not come together as well as it probably could have, but I don’t think it is nearly as bad as something like, say, Sons of Anarchy (which I can’t fully speak to since I haven’t seen the last two seasons yet which I hear is the series at its bloated worst). If anybody has seen Hell on Wheels and thinks the series becomes messy sometime, could you explain why? I am very curious to hear your thoughts.

  • glorbes

    Just a heads-up to you fine soluters. I may unplug/go nuclear on Disqus for a bit. It’s distracting me from work things, and I’m having a hard time keeping on task. Whether I purge this account or not, I haven’t decided, but I feel I may need a re-calibration with regard to social media in this form as well. Being off Facebook was a great step in the right direction, but I may require it to go further.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      We’ll miss ya but totally understandable.

      • glorbes

        I may come back as Fresno Bob…I always wanted that to be my handle (if it’s available). That being said, if someone named Fresno Bob starts posting hateful things, be sure that it isn’t me.

      • Counterpoint: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

      • Whoa, whoa, whoa. Who’s leaving?

        • Drunk Napoleon

          It looks like glorbes left 🙁

          • Miller

            Fuck, I’m hungover for one morning and this happens? I don’t know what the situation is but it sounds tough, I hope things turn around. Stepping away can be necessary, you’re always welcome back.

          • Dammit, I was hoping it was somebody I didn’t know. Man, that sucks. Hope things are okay.

    • Son of Griff

      I will miss your presence here terribly. Sometimes somethings got to give to get life’s priorities in balance., and I wish you the best if you decide to leave.