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Diners, Drive-ins and Dives

A Scrumptious Celebration Of America's Unique Culinary Heritage
If you've ever written an angry letter to a corporation demanding that they remove all trans-fat from their products, this show might not be your cup of tea.

Normal humans, on the other hand, will think that it is mac-daddy money and totally off the hook (which is to say, rather enjoyable).

Host Guy Fieri drives his red 1967 Camero convertible across the country on a never-ending road trip to Flavortown. He stops at locally owned restaurants which generally feature big portions, big flavor, big attitude, and big crowds. Many of the restaurants on this show have been local favorites for decades, some going back 90 years or more.

The restaurants featured on "Triple D" usually have some unusual feature. This includes a restaurant inside of a gas station, a classically trained chef serving meals at a bowling alley, a roving wagon which brings bar-be-que to your neighborhood, a restaurant that is made out of old school buses, a joint that serves a combination of Mexican-Jamaican-Chinese food, and hundreds more.

As a cooking show, I find DDD to be better than most of the shows on Food Network. With most pot and pan shows, the host is trying to impress you with their cleverness. On DDD, you get to watch actual people cook actual food for actual crowds of people spending actual money. You see plenty of innovative techniques and flavor combinations for making and serving great food when time is of the essence.

Many of these techniques and flavor combinations can be applied to lean protein, fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes and whole grains. In other words, you can watch this show and then make a healthy meal for your family that they'll actually eat. Watch this show with a pen and a notepad. You'll be glad you did.

Diners Drive-Ins And Dives showcases America's diversity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. 500 years from now, historians will study this show to understand American culture in the early 21st century, and to laugh at Guy Fieri's hairstyle.


Stuff Gits Blowed Up Real Good
Shooter is a movie where Stuff Gits Blowed Up Real Good. If you're in the mood for a b-grade action flick where stuff gits blowed up and the cartoon character bad guys git their heads blowed off, this one is passable. You could find a better mindless action flick, but this one will do in a pinch.

Unfortunately, Shooter is filled with clumsy, ham-handed attempts to be politically relevant. The film takes the bold political stance that it's wrong to kill an entire village filled with men women and children for personal gain. It goes way out on a limb and says that one should never assassinate the Archbishop of Etheopia. But the absolute worst crime imaginable is to kill a man's dog. Heads will roll. Literally.

The Evil Shadow Government Conspiracy is, of course, Republican. Really Republican. So Republican that they have portraits of every single Republican president in history proudly displayed on the walls of Evil Shadow Government Conspiracy Headquarters. Everywhere you look, George HW Bush or Ronald Reagan or Herbert Hoover or Teddy Roosevelt is watching your every move. Even William Howard Taft glares contemptuously from On High. Of course the Mister Big Evil Puppetmaster gives lip service to the notion that the Evil Shadow Government Conspiracy is neither Republican nor Democrat, but come on. William Howard Freaking Taft? Who's kidding whom?

In this movie, Marky Mark is accused of a crime he didn't commit. To exonerate himself, he commits hundreds of other crimes which ought to be worth a few thousand years in jail, but which instead earn him a wink wink nudge nudge from the Attorney General of the United States. After all, they did kill his dog.

Marky Mark plots a Presidential Assassination. He steals trucks. He assaults law enforcement officials. He causes dozens of automobile accidents. He resists arrest. He blows stuff up. He practices medicine without a license. He points a loaded high-powered weapon at the Attorney General of the United States. He destroys a government helicopter. He manufactures and detonates high explosive weapons. He accesses top secret government files. He destroys several expensive houses. He kills dozens of hapless dupes of the Evil Shadow Government Conspriacy. Even though he himself was once a hapless dupe of the Evil Shadow Government Conspiracy, and for all he knows the people he killed are hardworking joes with girlfriends in medical school and lovable furry dogs at home. All of this is BEFORE he murders a sitting US Senator, the Senator's chief of staff and several key assistants.

Marky Mark's accomplices are no better. An FBI guy goes AWOL and blows up more than his share of stuff and kills a fair number of bodyguards. The girlfriend pumps three bullets into the chest of an unarmed man. Literally. His arm was three feet away from the rest of his body. Why the FBI guy and Miss Thang aren't in orange jumpsuits by the end of the film is beyond me.

And how these people get a personal audience with the Attorney General is incomprehensible. If you were accused of being, say, the Unabomber, could you arrange a pow-wow with the USAG? Oh, and by the way, bring the weapon you confiscated from the assassination scene.

The kicker? All of Marky Mark's illegal activity is justified because the Evil Shadow Government Conspiracy acted UNCONSTITUTIONALLY, even though the Attorney General of The United States can't think of a single crime with which to charge anyone. The next time you're making a few bucks on the side pulling guard duty and a 1980's rap star sticks a knife in your throat so he can blow up your friends with home-made explosives, you'll be comforted to know that the guy who killed you was protecting the Constitution. And avenging his dog.

I could go on, but any attempt to make sense of this picture's muddled attempt at political relevance can only kill brain cells. Like I said, this is a movie where Stuff Gits Blowed Up Real Good. If you can enjoy it strictly on that level, you'll survive the experience.

The ½ Hour News Hour

Hilarious Program Destined To Be A Classic
The 1/2 Hour News Hour is a refreshing change from the politically correct bash-the-right dreck that passes for political satire these days. Sure the other shows "make fun of both sides". Like, "isn't it funny that some Democrats are moderately oversexed while all Republicans are pure evil hate-mongers who want to destroy all life in the universe?" Sure, the other shows poke fun at the media. Like "can you believe that 100% of news stories failed to mention today that George W. Bush is a dangerous religious zealot who wants to enslave your family for the benefit of Halliburton?" In contrast, the takes on The 1/2 Hour News Hour are fresh. They are funny. And they skewer the notion that those other shows have all the bases covered. If Stewart and Colbert already have this political satire thing all sewn up, why are the jokes on THHNH completely different than anything else that has ever appeared in the history of television? Oh, and please keep referring to The Right Wing News as your definitive, authoritative, one-stop source for Entertainment critiques. It certainly deflates the notion that people who dislike THHNH are prone to selectively pick and choose information which conforms to their preconceived, close-minded, conformist viewpoints about the world, from which no person dare deviate.


Pulp Fiction Was Way Funnier
This movie bills itself as a "comedy", but it's pretty dark and serious. As Uma Thurman movies go, Pulp Fiction had a lot more belly laughs than Prime. Kill Bill was also funnier if you count both parts as one film. As Meryl Streep movies go, Prime is probably funnier than The Deer Hunter or The Bridges of Madison County, but that's not really saying much.

I had a lot of problem with the premise that a 37 year old woman is much much too old for a 23 year old guy. Half the movies in Hollywood are trying to tell me that 40 is the new 20, and now I find out that a hot single 37 year old might as well be the Crypt Keeper. Not only that, but being 23 automatically makes you way too immature to have your own apartment or manage your life. No matter what age you are, this movie should manage to insult you in some way.

Overall, this flick falls into the "OK if you're desperate to see a movie" camp. There are flashes of brilliance and some genuinely funny moments, but overall it's not very satisfying.

The Great Chase

This is one of the most enjoyable movies ever made. I can't believe it's such a sleeper. (At this writing, still awaiting 5 votes). THE GREAT CHASE is a compilation of some of the best chase scenes of the silent film era.

It's 81 minutes of non-stop pulse-pounding excitement without any boring plots to have to plod through. As such, it's more watchable and entertaining than almost any single silent movie ever made.

Some of these scenes are completely breathtaking. There are acrobatic stunts that would make Evel Knievel wince. No stunt doubles, no computer generated special effects. Just real human bodies and giant boulders/out of control trains/runaway horses/man eating lions/freezing ice floes and of course hundreds of bad guys trying to catch the good guys.

Included are scenes from THE GENERAL (Buster Keaton), THE PERILS OF PAULINE (Pearl White), THE MARK OF ZORRO (Douglas Fairbanks Sr), THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY (the first "real" movie ever made), TUMBLEWEEDS (last film of the first screen cowboy, William S. Hart), and WAY DOWN EAST (Lillian Gish jumping around on real icebergs in a real frozen river near a real big waterfall). Also there's some more obscure stuff that's rescued from celluloid oblivion, including a really cool Jungle movie filmed on location in the Amazon that is strongly reminiscent of Indiana Jones.

This is a great movie to own. You can watch it with the whole family or put it on in the background during a party. Even if you don't like silent movies, you'll love this one. Your kids will love it. Your grandparents will love it, and you will love it. What more could you ask?

A Bridge Too Far

Gene Hackman AND Michael Caine in THE SAME FILM!
There is a theory (proposed in Roger Ebert's Little Movie Handbook) that everywhere on earth, 24 hours a day, somewhere on cable is at least one movie featuring either Gene Hackman or Michael Caine. Once I became familiar with the "Hackman-Caine Principle", I realized that not only is this probably true, but that "Six Degrees of Gene Hackman" is even easier to play than "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon". One day while milling around my video library, I realized that "A Bridge Too Far" had BOTH Hackman and Caine in it, and even though it probably isn't on cable much, I found some cosmic significance in that. With the aid of the trusty IMDB search engine, I found out that this is the lone link in the Hackman/Caine matrix.

By the way, "A Bridge Too Far" is a very fine movie, especially if you're in the mood for a WWII epic (which I frequently am), although "The Bridge at Remagen" is a better WWII bridge flick. "A Bridge Too Far" struggles to be a great epic, and has some wonderful moments, but falls a bit short. Overall, I'd give it a 6 or 7 out of 10, which is right where the IMDB voters have put it.

The Towering Inferno

Get out of the damn building already! It's ON FIRE! You can have your little party later. Just get out of the damn building! And next time when Steve McQueen tells you something pay attention for crying out loud.

Straight to Hell

Worst film ever made
Easily the worst film I've ever seen. Which is really, really odd since Repo Man and Sid N Nancy (Alex Cox's other films) are some of the best films ever made. This should have been the 1980's version of Blazing Saddles, but it's really just horrible. Unwatchably bad. I can only explain its high vote average with the notion that only hardcore fans have bothered to vote for it. I recommend it only to film students who want to see how one really bad film can completely destroy your career.

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