Wednesday, December 10, 2008

PopBliss Favorites of 2008: Dexter

Now, in its third season, Dexter has become one of the most compelling, creative, well-acted, and twisted shows on the tube. In case you didn't know, Dexter, played by the insanely talented Michael C. Hall from Six Feet Under (another classic show), is a serial killer by night and a Blood Expert for the Miami PD by day. This is the basic premise, but the show works on numerous levels. Unlike other police procedural dramas, the viewers are Dexter’s accomplices as we are the only ones with access to his internal monologue. 

This season has been the best so far; for one, the plot lines are no longer based on the books, which has given the writers more freedom. But the major coup was scoring Jimmy Smits. I always thought the dude was talented, but as Assistant District Attorney Miguel Prado, I've been consistently blown away by his sometimes nuanced and other times flat out ferocious acting. In a recent scene, Miguel discovers that Dexter is trying to keep him in check, and like a geyser set to erupt, Miguel unleashes his fury on Dexter: "I am not the person to fuck with because I will fuck you back!" So, why, when Dexter decides to end Miguel's life does he go out without much fanfare? This is my only complaint about this season. I was looking forward to some type of throwdown or struggle. The whole season has been steadily building up to this point, and I would've liked to see Miguel get his just due. Anyway, there's still one last episode left, and every Dexter finale has been insane so I would expect nothing less.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bat Shit Crazy: Man Tries To Pay His Utility Bill With Spider Drawing

Today I came across this story on MSN. A man attempts to pay his overdue utility bill with a drawing of a spider. I could analyze and dissect it, but really, it's just funny. Check it out:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

PopBliss Favorites of 2008: The Renaissance by Q-Tip

Over the next few weeks, I will be listing my favorite CDs of 2008, and there were a bunch of good ones.  This year marked the return of one of hip hop's most talented and influential MCs, Q-Tip. In the 90s, A Tribe Called Quest blended jazz, funk, and intellectual lyrics to create a fusion of old school and new school. Then, they broke up and Q-tip released his first solo album Amplified, and that was eight years ago. Finally, the Abstract Poet has unleashed his new album The Renaissance. Apparently, he's been working on it for a while, but some typical bullshit with the record company delayed it. Nonetheless, it was worth the wait. 

The opening track, "Johnny's Dead," let's you know that Q-tip is back in solid-form: "And it's up to me to bring back the hop-e/Feeling in the music that you could quote/Not saying that I hate it cause here/I kinda dig it/But what good is a'ear/if a Q-tip isn't in it." That last line couldn't be more true. Like Tribe's music, the overall vibe is laid back and the beats are funky and there's plenty of jazzy riffs to go around. But, what I love the most is Q-tip's unique delivery--every line flows and he even rips it freestyle on the tune, "Dance on Glass:" "Who can make it up, dark ages here in rap/And the constant conversation has been let's bring it back/Corny rap style niggas they lack the pedigree/Deep waters they be in when they are just the manatee." Not only does he call other musicians out, but who else can fit "manatee" into their rhymes. This is the work of a man on a mission to make authentic hip-hop, and this is truly a renaissance for the genre.

Check out Q-tip's performance of "Move" on Letterman: 

Monday, December 1, 2008

"Dude, This is the Best Mix Tape Ever"

When I was in high school, I always tried to impress my friends with the coolest mix tapes of all time. For a while, I was into psychedelic rock, so side A might kick off with the mellow notes of Pink Floyd's epic "Dogs"and Side B would finish off with Hendrix's trippy tune "Axis Bold as Love." Over the years, however, my musical taste has shifted away from classic rock, though hearing "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" always transports me to another time.

That's the beauty of music and a perfectly crafted mix tape can tell an entire story. In fact, Rob (John Cusack), the record store owner in High Fidelity and mix tape aficionado claims, "The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules." 

Of course, once CDs took over, mix tapes became an artifact and now iPod playlists are the current trend. So, how do you combine the best of both worlds? There is a new product out called the USB Mix Tape. Its 64 Megabytes and holds about an hour's worth of music (like most cassettes). If you remember, the 90 minute or longer tapes would always get stuck or slow down and then you'd have to take a pencil...well you know the rest. The coolest part is that the USB drive comes in a mock cassette complete with an area to personalize the playlist. For people who grew up in the '80s and early '90s, this is pretty damn cool. And, it makes an even better Christmas gift.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pushing Daisies Headed to the Afterlife

Maybe I'm beating a dead horse, but I am extremely disappointed about the recent canceling of ABC's Pushing Daisies. For months, there was talk about the show getting murdered, but now it has finally come to fruition. At first, I thought the show was all style and no substance, but in its second season, the show's insanely kinetic energy, lively characters and candy-colored settings have grown on me. 

The facts are these: the protagonist Ned brings dead people back to life with a touch of his finger, but when he touches them again they die. This is a bizarre concept, but that's part of the fun. 
The problem with a show like Pushing Daisies is that it's a bit quirky for mainstream viewers. Most Americans like their shows to be predictable, formulaic, and semi-satisfying. Think CSI, ER, NCIS (are you noticing a pattern?) Maybe if Pushing Daisies changed its name to PD, more people would watch. I have to admit, there are times when the show can be a bit annoying with its overwhelming use of puns and fast-talking characters, but it's like sushi. At first, you're a little weary about it, but curiosity takes over and after you've eaten it a few times, you get addicted. Unfortunately, if you're thinking about giving it a try, you might be too late. 

However, there is a movement to get Pushing Daisies back on the air after the thirteenth episode. You can even sign a petition or at the very least check out Save Pushing Daisies. And hey, maybe we can return the favor and bring Ned and the gang back to life (no pun intended)

What do you think about the cancellation of Pushing Daisies?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Unbearable Solace of Bond: A Review of Quantum of Solace

If you are planning on seeing the new Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, be aware that it is a sequel to Casino Royale.  Quantum is the first sequel in the Bond franchise and this is just one of many problems with the film. I enjoyed Casino Royale all I remembered was a high-stakes poker game, Bond getting his balls whacked by a dude whose eye bleeds, and that it was Daniel Craig's first appearance as the iconic super spy. Though I am not the hugest Bond fan, I know that these movies work best when they are self-contained and do not bring back barely memorable characters like Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini). But, even if you remember that Vesper was the previous Bond girl's name, the plot is so convoluted it won't really matter.

From what I can remember (are you noticing a theme yet?), Bond is seeking revenge for the death of Vesper and somehow that is linked to  Dominic Greene (Mathieu Almalric), the leader of the Quantum group. Greene poses as an environmentalist, but he is planning a coup of Bolivia, so he can get control of the water supply. Wow, that sounds really boring doesn't it? Apparently, the writers and new director Mark Forster were going for a more politically and socially relevant film, which is fine, but this is a Bond movie after all. 

Look, there are tons of action scenes, which satisfies that wanna-be-hero in all of us, but after the first scene--Bond's Aston Martin is racing down a road while being chased by the bad guy--cut to Daniel Craig looking cool--cut back to bad guy looking mad--oh no here comes a giant truck! You get the idea, right? Maybe it's the new director or maybe I've overdosed on long, elaborate chases scenes, but after awhile, it becomes monotonous. And I know that Bond is not a super hero, but  during a chase scene, the guy literally bounces from roof to roof like a godamn trampoliner. 

Here's the biggest flaw: the movie is humorless. Where is the witty banter between Bond and the villian, the sarcastic quips? Casino Royale is by no means Wedding Crashers, but when Bond is poisoned by the villian and nearly goes into cardiac arrest, he comes back to the poker game and replies: "I'm sorry. The last hand nearly killed me." Yes it's dumb, but in Craig's deadpan droll, it makes you chuckle. Like many critics, I'm a Daniel Craig fan; he has a strong presence and the man can kick some ass, but enough with the broodiness, ultra-violence, and utter lack of humor. In a way, it makes me miss, dare I say it, Pierce Brosnan. However, I have faith that Craig and the writers will get it together and give me a Bond film that I can remember five minutes after I leave the theater. What was the Bond girl's name again, Maria? Carla? Cute girl with a Spanish accent? 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dollhouse Sent to the Doghouse

It was recently announced that Joss Whedon's upcoming show Dollhouse will now be shown on Friday nights. If you're a fan of Whedon, then you know that he is the man responsible for creating genre classics Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly. His last foray into television was the critically acclaimed Firefly, which was cancelled after only 11 episodes. By now, the shit that went down has become TV Lore (Fox didn't show the first episode, fans tried to resurrect the show, DVD sales went through the roof, and a movie was made). Now, Whedon's new show, which will premiere in February of 2009, has been scheduled for Friday nights. For Whedon fans, this is exactly what we were dreading--another death sentence. 


The show, starring Buffy alumni Eliza Dushku is a risky proposition. According to Entertainment Weekly, the show is "about a creepy organization that strips people of their personalities." If you've seen the previews, the show looks intense, sexy, mysterious, and dark. Compared to other faux sci-fi shows like Fox's beloved Fringe, which by the way is the reason why Dollhouse has been sent to the doghouse, it's hard to not be ecstatic about Whedon's imminent return to TV.  Whether you're a fan of Whedon's shows or someone who appreciates quality television, it's up to you to get the word out and create a buzz so the show can grow and evolve. I will keep you updated as we get closer to premiere date. Check out the trailer.