Tuesday, November 6

Rob's Review of Woody Allen's "Bananas"

I have decided to re-introduce myself to the cinematic works of Woody Allen. I'll be making my way through his directorial canon, in a more-or-less chronological progression, and, when the mood strikes me, or when I remember, I will offer up my "who the hell cares what you think" reviews.

I had recently (in the past couple of years) seen his first couple of directorial efforts (What's Up Tiger Lily, and Take The Money And Run), had mixed reactions to them, and decided to pass on reviewing them.

So, first up:  Bananas (1971)


Bananas is a slapstick comedy that, not surprisingly, derives most of its comedy from bits of slapstick.  Some of gags still hold up and are (and, I presume, always will be) funny, and more than some left me waiting for that particular gag to end.

My least favourite moments came during South America excursion, where the comedy was more "miss" than "hit".

I liked the ABC Wide World of Sports bookend, with a game Howard Cosell playing along (and cracking up during the final in-bed interview)

Laughed at a whole bunch of little moments, like Woody's face when he's being accosted by the toughies on the subway (one of which was a very young looking Sylvester Stallone!); the bit where he tries to set the right tone for his romantic interlude with Louise Lasser's character and ends up covered in talc; Woody as lawyer interviewing himself on the witness stand...

Louise Lasser was Dianne Keaton before there was a Dianne Keaton.

What i found most surprising:  there were some moments of actual, honest-to-goodness great acting, especially from Woody.  I always thought that his acting was underappreciated, and was surprised that there were some really nice moments in this broad, slapstick comedy.

So, not a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, but more than enough little snickering moments of comedy that hit their marks, and more than make up for the moments of misses.






Friday, July 27

Father Son Act Off - The Spit Take

The latest challenge in the Father Son Act Off series.  This time, Rob and Cameron compete to see who does the better spit take.
Have a look!

Tuesday, May 15

Rob's 7-Word Reviews of some IMAF Short Films

I went to Friday night's IMAF 2012 "Funny Ha Ha" screening at The Guild, in Charlottetown.  Actually, just didn't "go", but co-hosted with Graham Putnam.

I thought my hosting got off to a rough start when I said something about how the shorts we'll be seeing aren't necessarily funny... my goal was to point out how "funny" is such a personal thing, and what's funny to one isn't necessarily funny to others.  But I think it may have come out as me declaring that none of the videos were funny.  At least that's how my brain has since remembered the moment.  Probably wasn't quite like that.  My hosting for the start of Act Two seemed to be more smooth, I thought.

So, were the shorts funny?  Well, here's a 7 word review of each of them.

Uptown Charlottetown by Lennie MacPherson and Fraser MacAllum (PEI) - Too long. Edited like a rough draft.

Superscience by Joel MacKenzie (NS) - Sophomoric presentation, amateurish performances. Didn't even smile.

Home Sweet Hell, ep.1 (and ep.2 later on in the evening) by Fox Henderson (PEI): Dated spoof misses the mark. Terrible sound.

The Fourth Minute by Ross Vincent Moore (NFLD): Uninteresting script, uninspired. Two minutes too long.

Buzz Off by Renee Laprise (PEI): Tries way too hard to be funny.

Afghan by Pardis Parker (NS): Smart, interesting, sharp. A bit too long.

PEI Encyclopedia: Intelligence (and later : Fighting) by Dominique Girouard (PEI): Lowest comedic denominator; like cumming into Kleenex.

Goodbye Robot Army by Greg Jackson (NS): Looked good, but that's all. Predictable & long.

Dead Guy Sleeping (or The Quiet Guy) by Nils LIng (PEI): Pointless, predictable, perplexing. Unintersting script, unmotivated delivery.

The Wake by Andrew Winter (NFLD): Hated it. Unlikeable characters. Obvious, unfunny punchline.

Hurricane Harry by Neil Wiley and Richard DesRoches (PEI): A mess. And here's five more words.

Ken Fucks Up by Ruby Boutilier and Sarah Byrne (NS): Interesting idea, funny moments, a bit repetitive. 

Bunkerdown: A Friend For Dinner by Jason Rogerson (PEI): (disclosure: this is a Sketch22 video, and I was involved in the creation of it)  Cartoonish "Jerry" performance distracts from tone. Ambitious.

Was I in a bad mood that night?  Not very many positive reviews. I only smiled a handful of times and laughed only a couple of times.

I guess it's true: comedy is hard.

Friday, May 4

How To Make The Next Season of Survivor Awesome

I'm a big fan of Survivor.  However, I've been discouraged the past few seasons by the routine to the strategies: On Day One, a handful of players from each tribe commit to each other to be a strong, small alliance until the very end.  More and more, these alliances remain strong, and a result is that suspense and strategy about who might be voted out for any episode is pretty much non-existent.  When the contestants walk up to Tribal Council every week, we pretty much know (despite the producers' best efforts to create red-herring possibilities) who will be voted out.

When I heard about this season's "twist", that the contestants would all be sharing one beach, I was intrigued.  I thought it might make for some interesting cross-tribe secret alliances.  But, when the teams were divided by gender, that pretty much smothered any chance for cross-tribe alliances, since it pretty quickly became a Women's Tribe Against Men's Tribe situation.  That Women vs. Men vibe has maintained throughout the season, and as a result, once the numbers were in the women's favour during teh Individual Immunity portion of the season, there's been very little suspense episode to episode as who might get voted out.  We know/knew it'd be a man.  Maybe not *which* man, but it'd be a man.

Anyway, Survivor is still a great show to watch, but it is becoming a bit stagnated when it comes to surprising strategy.

So, I came up with what I think they should do next time to drastically increase the potential for surprises and scrambling by/for the contestants:

EPISODE ONE: Keep the idea of all contestants on one beach.  Day One, Jeff tells them that they are all sharing one camp, and that they'll be divided up into teams later on.

Let them all do what they usually do on Day One - try and scramble to create their small, strong alliances.  This will become much more interesting in these first few hours, because the players won't know what team they'll be on, so alliances will likely be more tenuous.

At the first Tribal Reward Challenge, Jeff informs them that they'll now be divided into two teams.  How they get divided doesn't really matter.  They get divided, are told the team names, and then compete for reward.  One team wins, one loses, and then they go back to camp.

Now that they've been divided, they'll begin to create what they think are more substantial mini-alliances with contestants from *their* team.

Onto the first Tribal Immunity Challenge... They compete as teams again, and the players from the losing team go to Tribal Council where one of them gets voted out of the game.  That's Episode One.

EPISODE TWO:  Bring them to Tribal Reward Challenge, and this is where the bomb gets dropped.  The teams from the last challenges are completely disbanded, and brand new teams are randomly created (must be random).  These two new teams will compete against each other in the next Reward and the next Immunity challenge.  Jeff informs them that this is the way it will continue - random new teams each round - until it's time to switch to Individual Immunity challenges.

They do the Reward Challenge, with these new teams.  Go back to camp and freak out as they realize the implications of the Always-Changing-Team-Members format.  Go to Immunity Challenge, and you might be competing against alliance members, and they might lose, and be voted out that night.... then your alliance is in shambles.  That's Episode Two

The subsequent episodes would continue in the same way:  Every week, they're divided up into new random teams - always switching up who you are competing with/against each time...

If they did this, it would totally change the way the contestants play the game in the first third of the season.  They'd still try and form alliances, but sometimes they'd be competing against people in their alliances, and there'd be more possibiltiy of people in one's alliance getting voted out when they're on the losing immunity challenge team.

Thursday, March 8

How I Would Have Improved This Week's "The Walking Dead"

I cannot count the number of times this season when, about 15 to 30 minutes into an episode of The Walking Dead, I vowed to stop watching the series.  I have been beyond frustrated with the season, ever since they got to that damn farm.  All they do on that farm is argue and debate and complain and whine.

Yet I am still watching. Still hoping that *the next scene* is when the series will become exciting and enjoyable again - only to have the next scene be two characters walking from the house to the camp and arguing with each other about something inconsequential.  There seems to be maybe 2 good (occasionally *great*) scenes per episode, and the rest is just awful.

I understand the characters are rather 2-dimensional (they are based on the comic book counterparts, after all), and I don't really have a problem with that.  2-dimensional characters can be entirely satisfactory if they are put into situations where something *real* is at stake.  But put 2-dimensional characters on a farm where they are relatively safe (*why* they are safe on this farm, I am not entirely sure of) and comfortable, and their problems get pretty shallow and insignificant pretty quick.

So, after 3 paragraphs of setup, I get to the point of this post - I am going to state how I would have improved this week's episode.

First, a quick recap of the episode - spoilers abound for anyone who hasn't seen it.

-we see Bow & Arrow Guy (I'm not good at remembering the names of the characters on this show), beating up the wayfaring stranger kid.  To get information out of him.  I don't know why the kid is withholding info, but he is - until he gets beat up enough to divulge that there's a group of about 30 guys in another group, and they're men of questionable morals.

-the kid of the group (who is a total pain in the ass this episode - made worse by his awful, awful acting) keeps showing up in scenes where he's told by everyone else not to be showing up in (why is nobody keeping an eye on this kid?).  He's ignorant and rebellious, and steals a pistol and goes walkabout until he comes across a walker who is stuck in the mud.  He throws rocks like a girl and, with Fake Stakes Brain (a syndrome I just invented where a character does something so ridiculous and stupid and so obviously wrong and out of character that it is done ONLY to create fake stakes), gets within touching distance of the walker, and almost gets deadened.  He leaves the walker alone and runs off.

-Everyone argues and debates and questions and wonders and debates some more about whether they should kill the wayfaring kid.  It is a foregone conclusion that they will kill him (psyche!!!), but still the whole episode is wasted on them discussing whether it should be done.  Dale, the only one who wants them to NOT kill the kid, walks off in a huff and ends up getting deadened by a walker (on this so-called supposedly *safe* farm? Huh?)  The kid sees that the walker is the foot-stuck-in-the-mud one he had come upon (and subsequently realeased from the mud), and by the end of the episode, blames himself, it is assumed.

-Sheriff can't go through with killing the wayfaring kid because the way the rebellious boy tells his dad to shoot Wayfarer, Dad is suddenly horrified and ashamed by what he was about to do.

That's about it... But let me emphasize how much time was spent this episode with them debating whether to kill or not to kill.

It was another intolerably long and argument-infested episode where really nothing much happened, except in that one scene where Dale died.

So, here's how I'd improve the episode (and the series):

- start with gun pointed at the head of the wayfaring kid, in the barn (we can allude, if we must, to the debates they've had about whether to kill him or not).  He's about to be shot.  In his panic, he divulges the info about the other gang.

-Dale comes in, pleading not to kill him - we get the whole argument (and the point it was trying to convey) over in one scene.  They refuse and Dale walks off, stating he'll not be a party to this (just like in the actual episode).

- Before Dale leaves, the rebellious kid shows up (through a line of dialogue we learn that he's not supposed to be there, and has been a pain in the ass today) and is sent to his room *where he stays for the rest of his time on the farm*.

-Sheriff shoots wayfaring kid. He is dead.  (If future episodes require the wayfarer *not* to be dead, then he doesn't get shot - but it's not because Sheriff can't do it, it's because they get side-tracked by the Dale Gets Attacked By Walker Situation).

- The walker kills Dale (just like in the actual episode - although I have issues about how that happened - how did the walker sneak up on Dale?). The group realizes that the farm is not safe, and they hastily pack and leave the farm. Some can choose to remain.  Who remains?  Any characters from the dozen or so on the farm who haven't spoken a line of dialogue in the past four episodes - I'm looking at you Black Guy and at you, Other Younger Male Guy Who Is Part of The Farm Family, and at you, Suicide Girl.

-The rest of the episdoe (about 20 minutes more, I figure) is about them adjusting to being back on the road again. 

-If we must (and only if there is a later payoff for the kid's guilt), we can see in flashback (while they're on the road), the rebellious kid coming across the walker and setting him free - the same one who killed Dale.

-Something exciting and future-plot-relevant happens on the road, as the final act of the episode, that makes us eager for what might happen next episode.

Tuesday, February 14

I'm Glad She's Dead

Sybil Monroe didn't give me the time of day when we was going to school.

She thought she was too good for me.

And she'd laugh at me clothes.

Well, the last laugh's on her, because now she's Dead.

And I'm glad.

Oh yes.

I'm glad she's dead.

Oh yeah.

I'm glad her poor old mother outlived her.

And her stuck-up friends,

Like Gladys Kennedy, or that fat one, Charlene O'Connor,

Crying their tears and smudging up their makeup at the funeral,

Can go to Hell too.

Moe Gorman

Monday, January 23

Darts - Twenty

My son and a couple of his friends, and I, have invented a darts game that we are liking quite a bit. It's called "Twenty".  Before I explain the game, I should say that it is not a game for good darts players, as it would be quite boring for them.  But if you're of a certain low level of ability, it's a pretty great game.

By "a certain low level of ability", I'm talking about people who are inconsistent in hitting the number or section on the board that they are trying to hit.  If you can consistently hit the number you're trying to hit, then you shouldn't be playing this game.  If you, on the other hand, miss your target more-or-less often than you hit it, you're perfect for this game.


Two to however many players can play at the same time.  For each Round, each player throws three darts (if needed) per turn.  You win the round, you get a point.  We play the first to five points wins the set, and a match is the first to win 3 sets. (if more than 3 people are playing, you'd probably want to lower those to, say, three points wins the set...)

To win the round (and get a point), the goal is to reach, during your turn, a total of 20. (each round can have several turns)

Let's say you hit the 5 with your first dart.  That means you try to hit the 15 with your second dart (to total 20). Let's say you hit the 19 with your second dart.  That means your total is now 24 (5 + 19) and on your third dart, you would try to hit the 4 (24 - 4 = 20).  Let's say you hit the 14 with your third dart.  That means you carry-over with a 10 (24 - 14), and on your next turn in the round (if you get a next turn), you'd start by trying to hit the 10.  

In short, you're always trying to achieve a total of 20 points (by either adding or subtracting the point value of each dart thrown) to win a round.

At the beginning of each round, everyone starts over with a 0 (zero) total.

The Doulbes ring is worth the double value of the point, and the triple ring is worth triple value of the point.  The outer bullseye is worth 25 and the inner bullseye is worth 50 (just like in other darts games).

(one special note about scoring: Your total cannot go into the minus numbers.  So, let's say you get 5 with your first dart, and 19 with your second dart.  Your total is 24 and you're trying to get the 4.  But instead you hit Triple 20 (which = 60).  Instead of subtracting 60 from 24 (your current score) which would give you a minus-number, you have to add 60 to 24, meaning on your next dart (or series of darts) you'd be at 84 (meaning you'd need 64 to get to the 20-total.  Follow me?) In short, if, by subtracting the score on the last dart you threw your total would become a minus-number, you have to, instead, ADD the score of your last dart to your current total.

Getting Twenty to win the Round

The One-Dart Twenty:  Let's say you get a 20-total on the first dart of your turn.  That is called a One Dart Twenty". In that situation, all other players get a chance to play out the round, and each gets one dart to try and match your "One Dart Twenty".  If someone else gets a One Dart Twenty, then the round is tied, and everyone starts the round over (everyone starting at zero).

Examples of One Dart Twenty Rounds in a 3-player game:

P1 hits a 20 in one dart.  P2 hits a 5 on first dart and is out (he needed to hit 20 in one dart to tie P1).  P3 hits 20 to match P1.  That means it's a Hold-Over and all 3 players start the round over, each starting at zero

P1 hits 20 in one dart.  P2 hits a 1 on first dart and is out.  P3 hits 12 and is out.  That means P1 get one point, and a new round starts, each players starting at zero.

P1 hits a 4, then an 18 (4 + 18 = 22) then a 6 (22 - 6 = 14).  P1 now needs a 14 during his next turn.  P2 hits 20 on his first dart.  P3 (needs to hit 20 to tie) hits a 12 and is out of the round.  P1 gets a chance to tie P2.  If he hits 14 (which is what he needs to get 20) it's a Hold-Over and all 3 players start the round over, each starting at zero.  If he misses 14 in one dart, then he is out and P2 gets the point.

There is a special One-Dart Twenty rule for games with 3 or more players:  If P1 hits 20 on his first dart, and P2 hits 20 on his first dart, P3 (or the rest of the players) gets a chance to *win* the round by hitting the red (inner) bullseye with one dart. If he gets the bullseye, he wins the round and gets the point.  If he (or all subsequent remaining players) misses the bullseye, then the round is tied, and everyone starts the round again at zero.

The Two-Dart Twenty: Let's say you get a 20-total in two darts on your turn.  That is called a "Two Dart Twenty".  In that situation, all other players get a chance to play out the round, and each gets two darts to try and match your Two Dart Twenty.  If someone else gets a Two Dart Twenty, then the round is tied, and everyone starts the round over (everyone starting at zero).  If someone (when trying to match a Two Dart Twenty) manages to reach twenty in One-Dart, then the remaining players (those who haven't already tried to match the Two Dart Twenty) must try and match the One Darty Twenty.

The Three-Dart Twenty: Let's say you get a 20-total in three darts on your turn.  That is called a "Three Dart Twenty".  In that situation, all other players get a chance to play out the round, and each gets three darts to try and match your Three Dart Twenty.  If someone else gets a Three Dart Twenty, then the round is tied, and everyone starts the round over (everyone starting at zero).  If someone (when trying to match a Three Dart Twenty) manages to reach twenty in One-Dart or Two-Darts, then the remaining players (those who haven't already tried to match the Three Dart Twenty) must try and match the One-Dart or Two-Dart Twenty.

Starting the game & starting each set:  To start the game and each set, each player tosses one dart.  Closest to the bullseye goes first, second closes goes second, etc.

Order of play (for more than 2 players):  When playing with more than 2 players, the order of play often keeps changing, depending on the outcome of the preceeding round. Basically, when you throw your darts you go to the end of the line.  That order is maintained, unless someone other than the first thrower wins the round.  The person who won the preceeding round throws first in the next round, and the order of the line changes to reflect that.  For simplicity's sake, the basic rule is "after you throw your dart(s) in the round, go to the end of the line.  Unless you win the round, then you go to the front of the line."

Monday, January 9

Rob's Ten Commandments

I saw something out of the corner of my eye-nternet, about *the* Ten Commandments.  Some politician was complaining about others not following them, and then it was revealed that he couldn't name all ten of them.

That made we wonder whether the ten commandments were still relevant, and, assuming they probably weren't, I wondered what *my* ten commandments would be, if I had to come up with them

So, that's what this is about.  I'm making my own Ten Commandments.  Because 


1. Don't kill anyone. Unless they're attemting to harm you or your family in some serious way, and there seems to be no other option.  (by "serious", I don't mean "he stole my hubcaps" or other matters of material inconsequence. )

2. If you made a vow of some sort to someone, don't break it, unless it is better for all parties to break it. 

3. Morality starts and ends with you.  YOU know if what you're doing, or are about to do, is wrong.