I don't watch the televisions at the gym, and can't listen to them (why they haven't figured out closed captioning, I have no idea), but in context, there is no amount of stationary biking I could do, no number of squats--and playing tennis never got me close--that could ever fill out my woefully flat, quintessentially white-guy hindquarters. And that's why I was looking--I'm just sensitive to these things.
I was too far away this morning (and honestly, I was trying to not look) to realize that Venus Williams was, in fact, wearing flesh-colored bottoms on her bottom, and that the
presentation spread coverage the attention that was given to her outfit across five simultaneous screens was relatively unfounded. I suspect the usual combination of titillation and disapproval was being employed by the networks, bringing in the entire middle American Good Morning America demographic, both the prudes and the unhappy people they're married to. ABC was definitely showing her off as they scowled, and the local news didn't hesitate either. Oddly, Fox and Friends made their angry faces without highlighting any revealing serves. (CNBC and the NFL network did not mention the incident at all.)
And if she looks that good, well, who can blame her for showing off? Venus is
a badass cool.
I still haven't seen a single episode, not even the pilot, which I avoided only due to the usual confluence of business trips and mild aviophobia. I don't necessarily shun commitments requiring lengthy analysis of lesser art, and even though I consider my time too valuable these days to comb the waste for improbable diamonds, I can't deny that I've wasted many happy hours discovering how the discussion and speculation can blow up into something far more entertaining than the story itself (and sometimes the story can pleasingly confound your expectations too).
Anyway, I got into a conversation with the microscopy guy on Friday about this very thing, and he attempted to convince me (as others have tried) that Lost really did so have it all plotted out from the get-go, and that it's totally worth the five years of your life. I've got far too much invested in being a non-watcher at this point, so I'm not likely to engage until well after the post-mortem, if at all. Nonetheless, it's fun to have opinions, and here's my top five predicitons, based on knowing not a goddamn thing about this show:
What do I win?
2. Iron Man 2
(Okay, let's note a certain method to the numbering here. Ain't I something.)
Speaking of surpassing expectations, there was a lot to like about the first Iron Man movie. To be sure, there was quality acting (including the Dude taking a turn as a meticulous, technologically savvy villain) that could sell it, but there was almost a--I don't want to go so far as to label it verisimilitude--there was also a low threshold for suspension of disbelief that let me accept Tony Stark flying around at unsurvivable accelerations and looking totally kickass. It's fairly obvious that they hired a technology consultant for the films, and even if putting a little fusion reactor into his chest made little medical sense (what, it was an electromagnet meant to prevent the migration of shrapnel? That's silly.), what makes Iron Man believable over Marvel's panoply of mutants is that you could convince yourself that these are merely engineering challenges overcome, not outright magic. The reactor in particular was a smart touch, with throwaways that it was a long-running failure by the company. It resembles a tiny tokamak (and the one in their lobby was a a more plausible big one, if you could imagine they'd build 'em with glass walls, or would keep one running down the grid as a demo piece), a real device and actual long-running failure, which is screaming for some revalatory inspiration from a gifted scientific mind. The suit too, in a compelling discovery sequence (a directorial achievement given its length) had its struggles and successes, to the extent that it was believable enough to warrant viewer apology (we assume that Stark Enterprises must have already developed some wicked shock absorbers, etc.).
Good stuff, but on to the sequel, and we're running into problems. First of all, palladium is a noble metal, and considering it doesn't react with things very much, I am not convinced that it's especially toxic. (Hey Tony, I realize that in the comics universe radiation often gives you powers instead of kills you, but maybe the neutron damage is, you know, the problem.) You encounter this in science, where a limited set of material properties (usually with complicated interdependence) gets in your way and I suppose with enough computational effort, you could identify hypothetical materials that are more amenable (and then hind them in your futurama floorplan for some reason). But a new element? What the fuck is up with that? Did they find a new number between 1 and 107 that no one has thought of before? And that shit isn't toxic and radioactive? Let's ask the science consultant how one might go about doing this. It was great that Tony built a particle accelerator in his garage, on top of old milk crates and piles of laundry, though I'm even more impressed that he could shoulder it and wing around a glowing beam like a laser. (See all that stuff inside, Homer? That's why your cyclotron didn't work.) And all he had to do was hit that little slab with his harmless high energy proton beam (or whatever), and blammo, a little coathanger made out of unobtainium. Man, if nuclear chemistry is that easy, then I'm back to the basement to work on my gold machine. Meanwhile, some nerd chucks off his glasses in disgust.
It's the sort of thing that makes me look for other flaws. The antogonsist Ivan Vanko, now given the run of a defense contractor's full secret facilities, can run giant production items without using any of the people on the floor, no people at all, except an occasional complaining visitor. Ivan had great potential for a character, and Mickey Rourke damn near sold him as both an impressively scary motherfucker and a brilliant physicist, but given his origin story, whatever's contributing to this guy's amorality really needed to be filled out. Revenge is usually a passionate enterprise, you know? (Also, did Iron Man just cold-cock him in a suit powerful enough to throw a tank? And he lived?) And Sam Rockwell was unpleasant and non-technical enough, but I'd no indication of how he could possibly run a big company. So at least that part was plausible.
Of course I wish that I could age as well as Robert Downey Jr.. Getting older has only made him better looking, and I was surprised to learn that Gwynneth Paltrow shares this quality. Scarlett Johanssen plays an alluringly blank-faced enigma, which, beautiful as she may be, might best be described as her "entire range." The silliest casting was Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, a pointless excercise that lengthened an already-long movie with sequel tie-ins: have they learned nothing from casting this guy as Mace Windu?
And they dared to crack open the military/technology/arms race can of worms, but then left it there stinking up the joint. Maybe it was better that way, at least approaching some basic philosophical challenges about the very existence of this stuff and leaving the questions open to the fanboys. I found myself thinking that the world would be bad enough off with one Iron Man, accountable to anyone only by his acquiescence, but an army full of them was even more terrifying. I'm not expecting deep political analysis from a superhero movie (and it's implied that Iron Man, as well as a number of other too-dangerous-for-just-anyone technologies will be relegated to oversight by special entities which would never, ever be tempted to fight covert or unjust wars), but no good is coming out of this. Didn't anyone regret the collateral damage when 20 giant robots started blowing up Madison Square Garden?
At least in comic book land, we can count on moral resolve from the good guys when we need it.
I like this show enough to only stay a week or two behind. There's the well-developed character dramas, of course, but you can watch it for the music alone, for what it means (and doesn't mean) in the culture. Sneaking in that many of the local artists was an act of sheer brilliance, but I want to tell Mr. Simon that there's a threshold for this sort of thing. Anyone who's routinely featured on television, or who's crossed the bar in record sales is going to be conspicuous, and their introduction needs a deft hand. When the dialogue reads, "Oh my god, that's Elvis Costello, famous musician and record producer," then something's a little off in the way you're bringing in your special guest cameos, even if some characters might actually talk like that in the situation. "That's Tom Colicchio, and he brought along Eric Ripert and Wylie DuFresne. They're notable New York chefs!" Or maybe there's just no good way. Why wouldn't people like that show up? Of course they would.