This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Friday Sports Notes

A) This is not a sports point, but my TV watching is going along as planned. I saw Grizzly Man last night (and it was nearly as fun and insane as I expected), LOST last night, Survivor last night, MST3K yesterday, and even fit in going over to a friend's house and seeing their newborn baby. I'm very productive. Hire me.

B) Speaking of LOST, there are people on the nerdy message board who loved that episode on Wednesday. "The show is back," they say. Why do they say this? Because they're a bunch of women who want to sleep with/fail to reform evil Sawyer. I hate America. The episode was ok, but that whole Alias-style "make you think one person is evil when its actually a different person" is a little overdone. And if this were real life, somebody would be tracking Sawyer's every move at all times, because he's evil. But hey, the ladies love him. I'm clearly "just jealous," so dismiss me.

C) Speaking of Survivor, the early season seems dominated by that bipolar Iggy Pop guy who misses his son. Do you realize (those of you that watched it last night) that he very nearly started an alliance and then left his alliance-mates out to dry -- in the space of just one episode? Good thing Danielle picked him first, right? NEVER PICK A GUY WHO LOOKS LIKE IGGY POP.

D) Finally, some sports. I'm so glad that 4 fricking Detroit Pistons made the all-star team, since they're clearly the best team, and that's all that matters. This is the team all-star game, right? Best team gets all their players in? What? This is for individual players? Then what the flying heck are Rip Hamilton (21ppg, 1 dimension per game), and Rasheed Wallace (16ppg, 6 rebounds per game. That's right, fricking 6 boards) doing on the all-star list? When Gilbert Arenas (28ppg. That's 2-8.) and Michael Redd (25ppg. That's 2-5) and even Dwight Howard (same points as Rasheed with twice as many boards) exist? Plus, Paul Pierce might be the only thing on Boston worth watching, but him over Arenas and Redd? I thought we were supposed to take team records into account. In fact, I was under the impression that we worshipped team records -- that's why there are 4 Pistons in the game, right? Boston (18-31) gets their best player in, but Milwaukee (25-23) and Washington (24-23) don't? Somebody explain that to me, because what it looks like is the NBA just wants to see older established players in the All-Star game instead of newer better ones. Paul Pierce? Come on.

All I know is this: If I scored 25-28 ppg on a .500-plus team, and I didn't get voted into the all-star game, I'd make damn sure everyone in the NBA knew I was upset. Then I'd rip out 30 a game for the rest of the season, and whenever reporters asked me a question about the game, I'd just say "Paul Pierce who?" and turn around. But that would make me a prima-donna, so there you go. At least being a jerk like that would get me the ladies. Right, American ladies?

E) I don't have the energy to talk about the hockey gambling scandal right now, since it's hockey and all. I will, however, give you a preview of the Netflix diary of Grizzly Man:

"They can decapitate."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I'm a Bad Person Because I Love TV

Big week of TV this week. Big big big. For me, anyway. First of all, tonight there's an all-new LOST for which I haven't even gotten a chance to look up spoilers yet. I heard a commercial on the radio that was like, "The enemy is closer than they think..." which I'm guessing means Abbie (the girl who used to be on Drew Carey, and is seducing Hurley -- is that her name?) is an "Other," or something like it. But why would they be developing her so hard as a good character? I don't know. Maybe Claire is the evil one. Or Locke. Or the whiny afterimage of Shannon.

So then there's that, but also there's Survivor moving forward, and after tomorrow I will have officially missed two episodes of the most wheels-off year ever. I haven't been able to fit Survivor into my already-packed entertainment watching schedule (see below), but I know that I'll probably regret missing it. That's about the saddest sentence I 've ever written. Moving on...

Friday Arrested Development finishes its run on Fox, with 4 new episodes. In one night. Playing opposite the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics. I'm extremely excited about this. This is the end, folks -- unless its rescued by another network, which is getting less and less likely with every passing second. Anyway, I work Friday night, so I guess I'll have to "tape" them. Dang. More stuff for the entertainment queue.

Speaking of which, I now have to plan my entertainment-watching like I'm on a cruise ship, since I work so much and have so many other things to do in addition to that. I have to schedule it, or it never gets done. One thing I've learned in life: For grown-ups, everything is a business deal. There is no "vacation." That word was invented by Madonna in 1984. Anyway, I have the rest of the MST3K version of "Manos -- Hands of Fate" to watch (about an hour's worth). Man, it's funny. On top of that, the Netflix we have in stock at our house are The Life Aquatic and the highly anticipated (by me) Grizzly Man. That's the documentary about the guy who befriends some bears, only to get eaten by them in the end. It's directed by Werner Herzog, who you might remember from such films as Heart of Glass, Fitzcarraldo, and Aguirre, the Wrath of God. I don't think I could conceive a documentary more tailor-made for me, unless David Lynch does one on the Milwaukee Bucks or something.

So here's what I'm thinking. I finish MST3K:Manos in between works today (it's about an hour), doing necessary chores and playing with the dog while it plays. MST3K is a show one has to pay close attention to in order for it to be any good, so it's not the best plan, but I've got too many other things on the docket these days to worry about experiential quality. Tonight, when I get home, I'll pop Aquatic in and start on that a little bit. If my wife wants to watch it with me, maybe I'll hold off on it until Saturday. That's ok. If that's the case, then Grizzly Man is the logical choice, though I'll probably watch it on Thursday night so I can take notes. Yeah, I'm going to do a Netflix Diary. How many times is Werner Herzog going to do a movie about a guy who gets eaten by bears? Probably never again. Plus, I'm watching one Simpsons episode per lunch hour until I get caught up this year. I'll be posting about that, too. On the back burner are Survivor, Beauty and the Geek II, and whatever comes in the mail from Netflix next.


Stand by for News...

...ok, stop standing by, it's here now.

Hey, just so you guys are clear on this, those Danish Muslim Offensive Cartoons are four months old, and the only reason that isolated protests turned into a full-blown global fireball this week is because somebody wanted them to. Anton "The Airport" La Guardia writes that the main factor in all this may be different Muslim factions trying to look like they love Mohammed more than everybody else. He says it's like a competition to be the most outraged. Rioting and burning buildings is the way these people are making a show of their love for Allah, and those who are leading and incensing them are doing so for politcial purposes. Now, what he says makes sense, but I'm always skeptical of some white guy from Britain when it comes to understanding the intricacies of World Religion. White guy from Britain is probably going to see politics in everything, instead of religion. But who knows? He may be right.

That's the kind of hard-hitting news you get here at Epth Nation, where we report, and you decide, and then we go back and look at it again and realize we don't have nearly enough information to decide anything.


A 10-year-long study of older ladies eating varying levels of fat has determined that (for post-menopausal women at least) eating less fat doesn't really ward off death like it should. Now it's back to the drawing board, where now scientists are saying that we probably need to just cut out the "bad fat" (fried food, partially hydrogenated stuff) and eat more "good fat" (Olive oil, Aretha Franklin). I guess we'll have to wait ten more years to find out.

People the study left out: Men, younger women, kids. That's pretty much everyone. So why is this news again? Great quote from this article:
"These results do not suggest that people have carte blanche to eat fatty foods without health problems," said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital, a co-author of the study.
Yes, actually it does, JoAnn. It suggests that very much. You did the study, and you can't process it's obvious implications? Methinks Charles and Marilyn aren't the only Mansons who are in denial.


Brittany Spears was being photgraphed by some paparazzi the other day, and was so afraid for her son's life that she forgot to strap him in a carseat before getting in the car and taking evasive action. Apparently concerned that the evil photographers were going to "steal her baby's soul like they took her own," the shaky-voiced warbler of such dreck as "Hit Me Baby One More Time" and "Oops I Did it Again" chucked the baby into the seat and started driving away. Of course, the evil photographers took pictures of it all, and now Britney's in trouble for not taking proper care of her kid. Her 'splanation:
"I was terrified that this time the physically aggressive paparazzi would put both me and my baby in danger," she said in a statement released late Monday. "I instinctively took measures to get my baby and me out of harm's way, but the paparazzi continued to stalk us."
Looks like someone took the Mel Gibson-produced Paparazzi a little too literally. They're not trying to hurt you, Brittney, they're trying to take your picture. There is a difference, no matter how agressive those evil photographers may seem. Here's a suggestion: How about not going out in public, in Malibu CA, with your mysterious kid? How about staying out of the public eye? How about putting some clothes on and putting down that joint? How about you join the rest of us who actually have to deal with life and stop speaking to us dirty unwashed through breathless P.R. statements that assume we're as dumb as you?

Two words: Womb removal*. It's too late for Ms. Spears, and too late for Madonna, but it's not to late for: S. Johannson, TATU, Ashleeee S., and countless other irresponsible starlets of the present and future.

And, because we love the Washington Post, here's an article about the rebirth of the single, thanks to the digital age. Apparently, the single-song model of downloading popularized by iTunes has created a situation where the market for singles is booming. Here's my favorite quote, from an industry person:
Thus the hand-wringing over the 2005 sales figures, in which albums represented roughly 62 percent of all U.S. music sales and digital singles accounted for about 35 percent, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Just three years earlier, albums had accounted for well over 90 percent of all U.S. music sales.

"Digital sales aren't growing fast enough to replace the losses in our traditional business," Goldstuck says. "The challenge for the industry is to find some balance between singles sales and album sales. We want to create an artist experience, not a singles experience."

So something's working (in this case, single sales), and you immediately want to gripe about it and find a way to stop it. Still think Napster is behind the demise of the music industry? They want to create an "artist experience"? What does that even mean? A Cult of Personality? Is this even about the music anymore?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go wash my eyes and brain. Thinking about all this has sullied me somehow, and I may never recover.

* ed. note -- The author is not actually advocating literal womb removal, as in going into Ashleeeee's reproductive system and snipping out important parts. Nor is he advocating figurative womb removal, which he can't even properly conceptualize. Think of "womb removal" as a concept with no meaning, like "Void Where Prohibited" or "Senate Judiciary Hearings."

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Just Saw the First-Person Part of Doom

Thought it was fun. I don't really need to see the rest of the movie, do I?

Ha! Fooled ya -- this post is actually about Kung Fu Hustle, the Stephen Chow vehicle with the CGI effects and the boinging and the kung-fu and the bad jokes. I saw it last week, and here's my review:

Have you seen Shaolin Soccer? Then you've also seen the essence of Kung-Fu Hustle, a movie so like its predecessor it should have been named Shaolin Soccer II: This Time Without a Bad Sport Involved. Yes, they flatten a soccer ball early in the film as if to distance it from the shadow of soccer, but it's still all about two groups of talented fighters amping things up towards an inevitable conclusion where writer/director/star/Jackie Chan stand-in Stephen Chow ceases being a goofball, realizes his destiny, kicks some butt, and gets the girl. If you're like me, you realize this about 1/3 of the way in, which sorta takes some of the fun out of things. Thankfully, the movie has lots of fun to spare.

Mr. Chow stars as a con man who decides that being good doesn't pay after a bad childhood kung-fu experience. He wants to join the "Axe Gang," a group of kung-fuers that has established a sort of mob rule over the land, and who dance in unison while wearing 1920's garb and carring hatchets. He goes to Pig Sty, a poor village, and gets his fat friend to pretend he's a member of the Axe Gang in order to get a free haircut. This brings the Axe Gang to Pig Sty, and thus the film's fighting engine is started as the Axes try and try again to overcome the Pig Sty villagers, some of whom happen to be extremely unlikely kung-fu masters.

It really is as simple as that. Mr. Chow's character is almost useless until the final act, where his backstory starts to finally (and in totally telegraphed ways) pay off. But just like a Jackie Chan movie, the plot takes a back seat to the style and action, and so better questions to ask would be:

Is it cool? Heck yes. Everything from the Axe Gang to the Kung-Fu Masters to the plain-old village is full of a dirty charisma -- especially the Axe Gang and their perfectly slimy leader. The CGI-fueled fighting sequences are effective and sometimes spectacular, just like in Shaolin Soccer. Every scene ooozes a cartoonish but slick style.

Is it fun? Heck yes. Especially the landlady who has a cigarette dangling perilously out of her mouth every time you see her, even while doing kung-fu. The character are all weird-looking, just like in Shaolin Soccer. Mr. Chow knows how to make a fun, silly, and feel-good kung-fu extravaganza. I just wish there were a few more surprises along the way, and I don't mean people flattening soccer balls or "the people you least suspect" being good at kung-fu. I suspected them, Mr. Chow, I suspected them.

Ahh, but it's fun. 3 out of 5 overpriced popcorns.

Five Blades

Alright, keeping in mind the Face Lady from yesterday and the unmistakable fact that she was anticipated by the horrible John Woo movie Face/Off, take a look at this. Now take a look (warning: lots of bad language) at this brilliant satirical Onion article from February 18, 2004 -- less than two years ago.

That's right, they went to five blades! What was a joke in 2004 is now reality. Do we really need a 5-blade razor? No, I think 2 blades is probably enough. But then again, do we really need Lexuses and rocket-propelled golf balls and Wades? Again, no. But our American thirst (especially among white people) for the Newest and Best thing has forced an absurd joke into reality. The obvious question to spring from this Five Blades announcement: What's next? What will be the next thing to make the leap from fantasyland to earth? Here are some suggestions:

A Jeopardy winner will last on the show for months, prompting renewed interest in the stale show. (David Foster Wallace story) ed. note -- Oh, wait...this actually happened. Sorry.

Terrorists will take over Air Force One, and GW Bush wil kick all their butts. (Air Force One)

Jesus Christ will return and play in the NBA for the Atlanta Hawks. (Onion article)

The FBI will start a special division for paranormal and unexplained phenomena, and then hire an insane guy who'll believe in anything and a hot red-haired skeptic as the main agents involved. (The X-Files)

An agency pretending to be a black-ops division of the CIA, but is, in reality, a nefarious organization bent of gaining world power through the writings and artifacts of a little-known but supernaturally brilliant Renaissnce inventor, will operate out of a bank somewhere near Washington D.C. (Alias)

It will turn out that all of us are just projections of ourselves inside a computer program, and that we actually live in bags of goo that help power that same computer program. (The Matrix)

A pop group consisting of 12-year-old girls will subconsciously convince hundreds of people to commit suicide through their bad music. (Suicide Club)

The government will start training kids to fight wars using video games, but then the video games themselves will turn out to have been the actual war. (Ender's Game)

I'm sure you can think of plenty more examples like this. As things get crazier and crazier out there (what is this? doom and gloom week? come on!) be sure to look for fiction turning into non-fiction, so we can mock it together.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Face without a Face

I don't know what it means, but since I have to post something today, I figured talking about the face transplant lady would be my best bet. I don't want to talk about how the world is daily getting more and more insane. Post-millenialists are receiving body blow after body blow, and I'd rather talk about something pleasant before I get blown up by some madman.

Like I said, I have no idea what the face transplant means in a big-picture sense. Is it a great advancement for science or just a novelty? Whatever it is, it sure looks creepy right now. It will be amazing(er) when she gets some more movement in that new face of hers. Right now, it doesn't look so great. It's ok on video, but still pictures capture the essence of its weirdness a little too exactly for my taste.

I know its been said before and better, but this type of thing would be a lot more impressive if she had a nemesis that received her face, and then they had a suspensful battle-of-wits pretending to be each other. But not every John Woo movie can come true, I suppose.

I tried to post a picture of the face lady, but Blogger has been buggy and tempermental lately. I especially liked how my site was down all of Sunday night.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a pointless meeting to attend.