Not Necessarily Not the News

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert posing with their show logos

The “fake news” block of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report on Comedy Central is a great one-two punch of laughter four nights a week — spiked punch, to mix a metaphor. Last Wednesday’s Daily Show had a first act that’s a perfect example of Stewart and his crew at work, eviscerating the bizarrely persistent idea that our current President was not born in the USA.

Pros in Cons

Cast of three men, all in suits and ties, plus two women, one dressed elegantly and the other in polo shirt with slacks

Leverage is a delight of a TV show whose second season begins tonight at 9 p.m.
ET on TNT. For maximum enjoyment you should record it and buy or rent the just-released first season on DVD, although I have a feeling you’ll get everything you need
to know from tonight’s season opener. [Update: Yeesh... Not their finest episode.]

When the pilot arrived as a screener last December I was impressed.

Luna Ranger

Close-up of Sam Rockwell's face in a space-suit helmet

My last post was about the moon. This one is about the new film Moon, directed by Duncan Jones.

It opens with an in-story promotional video explaining that an isotope of helium abundant on the moon is now mined there to provide much of Earth’s power. The lone man monitoring the collection of the isotope is Sam Bell, played by Sam Rockwell. A robotic apparatus called Gerty is his only company; with satellite communications down Sam can’t even talk to his employers at Lunar Industries, let alone his wife and daughter, in real time. Thankfully his three-year hitch, darn near driving him crazy, is almost up. Or maybe it’s driven him crazy already? (Gerty is voiced by Kevin Spacey in
a tone akin to that of 2001’s HAL, adding to its potential menace.)

Moon Shot

The moon was big and lovely the other night.

a golden full moon in a cloudless pitch-black sky

I didn’t check, but it may have been at its perigee, the point at which its elliptical
orbit brings it closest to us. That word and its opposite, apogee, refer to any planetary body in relation to Earth, not specifically the moon, and they’ve stuck with me since my highly enjoyable 6th-grade astronomy/geology class. Likewise, the more euphonious terms for our proximity to the sun over the course of Earth’s annual revolution: perihelion and aphelion (pronounced not “app-heel-yin” but “uh-feel-yin”; think the Irene Cara song from Flashdance). Wikipedia gives terminology for the distances of objects orbiting various heavenly bodies at the entry for apsis, and there are a trinity
of pairings variously used to describe something — a NASA lunar shuttle, say — in orbit around the moon.

K-a Blam

Man in mask, cape, and bodysuit sitting pensively by a drawing board with large question marks above him

I drew the picture above 15 years ago for CAPA-Alpha #362.


Optimus Prime, a large Transformer
Transformers movie still © 2007 DreamWorks, Paramount, Hasbro.

I was “oh-fer” in my last entries for The Late Show’s online Top Ten Contest. Once I’d recovered from shock over seeing the actual winners, not at all bitter, I went into some kind of fugue state and came up with no fewer than a dozen submissions for the next week’s edition.

My Top Twelve Signs You’ve Encountered a Lame Transformer

12. Only turns into other robots.

11. Is writing a tell-all memoir about its wild night with Jay Leno’s motorcycle collection.

10. Keeps referring to your college bumper sticker as a “tramp stamp”.

30 Days of Tonight

Has it really been a month since Conan O’Brien’s debut as Tonight Show host?

medium shot of Conan O'Brien with Tonight Show title card

I took a look out of curiosity — as well as respect for both Conan and a late-night institution that dates back to before even Johnny Carson. The filmed opening was funny, but the rest of the taped bits offered diminishing returns and my Will Ferrell tolerance is low, so the main take-away for me was merely a vague excitement around the zeitgeist. One also has to wonder exactly what NBC has done to the TV landscape by slotting Jay Leno at 10 p.m. (ET) weeknights come the fall.