Eric D. Snider

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Archive for August, 2005

Season premieres

Sunday, August 28th, 2005

It’s the magical time of year again: time for the networks to bring our shows back for the fall season. Cliffhangers will be resolved, double-length season premieres will be padded, tears will be shed, hearts will be touched.

Following is a list, by date, of all the major networks’ season premieres. Omitted are cable shows, because they don’t usually adhere to a “fall season,” and because I don’t care about most of them.

Shows that are brand-new this fall are marked with an asterisk. Give ‘em a spin! See if they stink! I know I will. (Give ‘em a spin, I mean, not stink.)

Monday
*8/29 – Prison Break – FOX

Thursday
9/8 – The O.C. – FOX
*9/8 – Reunion – FOX

Sunday
9/11 – The Simpsons – FOX
*9/11 – The War at Home – FOX
9/11 – Family Guy – FOX
9/11 – American Dad – FOX

Monday
9/12 – Wife Swap – ABC

Tuesday
9/13 – The Biggest Loser – NBC
*9/13 – Bones – FOX
9/13 – Gilmore Girls – WB
9/13 – House – FOX
*9/13 – Supernatural – WB

Wednesday
*9/14 – Head Cases – FOX

Thursday
9/15 – Survivor – CBS

Friday
9/16 – What I Like About You – WB
*9/16 – Twins – WB
9/16 – Reba – WB
*9/16 – Threshold – CBS
9/16 – Living with Fran – WB

Monday
9/19 – Arrested Development – FOX
9/19 – King of Queens – CBS
9/19 – One on One – UPN
9/19 – Seventh Heaven – WB
*9/19 – Surface – NBC
9/19 – All of Us – UPN
*9/19 – How I Met Your Mother – CBS
*9/19 – Kitchen Confidential – FOX
9/19 – Girlfriends – UPN
*9/19 – Just Legal – WB
9/19 – Las Vegas – NBC
9/19 – Two and a Half Men – CBS
9/19 – Half & Half – UPN
*9/19 – Out of Practice – CBS
9/19 – CSI: Miami – CBS
9/19 – Medium – NBC

Tuesday
9/20 – According to Jim – ABC
9/20 – N.C.I.S. – CBS
*9/20 – My Name is Earl – NBC
9/20 – The Office – NBC
9/20 – Law & Order: SVU – NBC

Wednesday
9/21 – America’s Next Top Model – UPN
*9/21 – The Apprentice: Martha Stewart – NBC
9/21 – Lost – ABC
9/21 – Still Standing – CBS
9/21 – Yes, Dear – CBS
*9/21 – E-Ring – NBC
9/21 – CSI: New York – CBS
*9/21 – Invasion – ABC
9/21 – Law & Order – NBC

Thursday
*9/22 – Everybody Hates Chris – UPN
9/22 – Joey – NBC
9/22 – Eve – UPN
9/22 – The Apprentice – NBC
9/22 – CSI – CBS
9/22 – Cuts – UPN
*9/22 – Love, Inc. – UPN
*9/22 – Criminal Minds – CBS
9/22 – ER – NBC

Friday
9/23 – Bernie Mac Show – FOX
*9/23 – Ghost Whisperer – CCBS
9/23 – Supernanny – ABC
9/23 – Malcolm in the Middle – FOX
*9/23 – Killer Instinct – FOX
*9/23 – Three Wishes – NBC
*9/23 – Inconceivable – NBC
9/23 – Numbers – CBS

Sunday
9/25 – Extreme Makeover: Home Edition – ABC
9/25 – Charmed – WB
9/25 – Cold Case – CBS
9/25 – The West Wing – NBC
9/25 – Blue Collar TV – WB
9/25 – Desperate Housewives – ABC
9/25 – Law & Order: CI – NBC
9/25 – Crossing Jordan – NBC
9/25 – Grey’s Anatomy – ABC

Tuesday
9/27 – The Amazing Race – CBS
*9/27 – Commander-in-Chief – ABC
*9/27 – Sex, Love and Secrets – UPN
9/27 – Boston Legal – ABC

Wednesday
9/28 – George Lopez Show – ABC
9/28 – Veronica Mars – UPN

Thursday
9/29 – Alias – ABC
9/29 – Smallville – WB
9/29 – Will & Grace – NBC (Premiere will be LIVE!)
9/29 – Everwood – WB
*9/29 – The Night Stalkers – ABC
9/29 – Without a Trace – CBS

Friday
9/30 – Hope & Faith – ABC

Tuesday
10/4 – Rodney – ABC
*10/4 – Close to Home – CBS

Wednesday
10/5 – One Tree Hill – WB
*10/5 – Freddie – ABC
*10/5 – Related – WB

Friday
*10/7 – Hot Properties – ABC

Tuesday
11/8 – That ’70s Show – FOX

Wednesday
11/9 – Stacked – FOX

Eric recommends: ‘The Light of Falling Stars,’ ‘On the Night Plain’

Saturday, August 27th, 2005

I have now read all four works by J. Robert Lennon, and I loved them all. Here’s an author no one seems to have heard of who is, nonetheless, astonishingly good.

Let me briefly mention my first two exposures to him. “The Funnies” is a humorous novel about a man who must take over his father’s “Family Circus”-style comic strip when the old man dies, forcing him to face head-on the fact that the idealized version of the family in the cartoon in no way resembles his real-life dysfunctional family. (For example, his brother, the one Dad never liked, doesn’t even have a counterpart in the strip. All other real-life events were mirrored in the comic, except for the birth and subsequent life of that brother.)

Then I read “Mailman,” about a small-town postman who sometimes keeps people’s letters for himself to read. We wander through his memories and his current, cranky musings, and follow him as he flees the wrath of his supervisors and as his world (and his sanity) slowly crumbles around him. Very funny at times, but extremely poignant, too, and a perfect rendering of small-town life.

And now for the other two books by Lennon:

“The Light of Falling Stars” was his first novel, published in 1997. It begins with a small plane crashing in the woods in Montana. From there it follows several threads: the young married couple who live in the house near those woods, who saw the whole thing, and whose marriage was in trouble; the boyfriend of one of the victims; the ex-wife of one of the victims; and a survivor. Lennon’s writing is rich with metaphors, each of them perfectly worded so as to be exactly evocative. You feel what the characters feel — which in this case means sadness, grief, love and hope. It’s truly a beautiful novel.

“On the Night Plain” is nearly as beautiful. It’s set just after World War II and follows a man who leaves his family’s sheep farm to find himself in the world, only to eventually return and inherit the sheep business with his brother. Like the just-mentioned book, it is highly internal and introspective, again brimming with well-constructed similes and metaphors. You think you could never care about a character who runs a sheep farm, but then you read “On the Night Plain” and you care deeply.

I saw a pirate

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005

I saw a pirate yesterday in downtown Portland. He walked past me while I was waiting for the MAX. He had a bandana on his head, hoop earrings, and an eyepatch. He did not have a parrot or a wooden leg or a hook for a hand, nor did I see him blow anyone down or shiver anyone’s timbers, so maybe he is just a pirate-in-training. But still! It was pretty exciting to see a pirate. I never saw them in SLC, what with Utah being a landlocked state.

Angry Letter: ‘Protocols of Zion’ (aka A creepy exchange with an anti-Semite)

Thursday, August 18th, 2005

I saw a film at Sundance called “Protocols of Zion,” about modern-day anti-Semitism, which has seen an upsurge since 9/11. (Amazingly, some lunatics blame the Jews for the terrorist attacks.) The headline I wrote for the review at HollywoodB****slap.com was: “Alas, the idiots who actually believe this crap probably won’t see the film.” Someone named Ken Mathews (vkenod@hotmail.com) sent me this disturbing e-mail:

I read your review of the film Protocols of Zion and I can’t wait to see it for myself. I don’t blame the Jews for 9/11; it is hard to believe any of the conspiracies that you read from the internet and elsewhere. Being the anti-semite that I am I look forward to seeing yet another point of view on who is or who is not to blame for 9/11. I know very little facts about 9/11, I have read everything from remote controlled aircraft, bush family conspiracies, and just about every other article of bulls*** available on the internet. I haven’t read much about the Jewish conspiracy concerning 9/11. I don’t think I have to go into what has changed me into being an anti-semite, as I don’t believe that you care. I just wanted to compliment you on a good review, and to let you know you’re sorely wrong in making this statement “Alas, the idiots who actually believe this crap probably won’t see the film”, You couldn’t be further from the truth.

Ken Mathews

What alarmed me about this e-mail was that he identified himself as an anti-Semite so casually, the way you might mention that you’re from Montana or that your dad is a cardiologist. And where you expect hatemongers to be vitriolic and ranting, he’s very calm.

I replied to him as follows:

Well, if you are one of the idiots who believes anti-Semitic crap, and you do see the movie, then perhaps it will convince you that believing anti-Semitic crap makes you an idiot. I still hold out hope.

Best wishes,
Eric D. Snider

He replied simply:

I watch films for entertainment, and I thought that you said you have very little knowledge of anti-semitism.

I believe the last part means, “How do you get off telling me I’m an idiot for being an anti-Semite when you claim not to know much about anti-Semitism? How do you know it’s not a perfectly valid belief system?”

I replied:

I know only the basics: That anyone who is an anti-something where the “something” is a race of people (anti-black, anti-Arab, anti-Semite, etc.), is an idiot. Regardless of what books or pamphlets you may have read on the subject, there is no reason to hate another class of people, period.

His reply:

I disagree.

Good review though, good luck on your future endeavors

Is anyone else creeped out by this? Someone so calm and seemingly rational, yet possessed of an irrational hatred of Jews? In other words, someone who’s wrong, yet who steadfastly refuses to believe that he is?

Why do you haunt me, Raven-Symone?

Tuesday, August 16th, 2005

I received an e-mail from someone named “Keyamaz,” at the address Shakeemagirl8@aol.com. The e-mail read:

Hey,
Can you e-mail me Raven-symone
e-mail address so i can keep in touch with my god sister!!!

Now, if you are a regular reader of this blog, you are thinking: Eric just wrote an item on people who foolishly think he has celebrities’ e-mail addresses just because he reviews their movies. And in fact, Raven-Symone was the very celebrity who prompted that blog entry!

I thought the same thing. I figured this person, this “Keyamaz,” had to be kidding. So I responded:

Um… You’re kidding, right?

[link to above-cited blog entry]

I assume you have read that and you are making a joke in reference to it.
If you have not read it, please do.

Eric

Keyamaz then sent two replies. In one of them, he/she pasted the entire page I had referred him/her to and then said, “it did not tell raven-symone email address.” In the other reply, he/she said:

Well I read it and couldn’t find Raven-symone e-mail address well can you e-mail me her e-mail please god bless….

To this one I replied thus:

OK, now I KNOW you must be joking.

If you read it, then that means you now know the following things:

1. I do not have the e-mail address for Raven Symone or for any other celebrity.

2. Even if I did, I would not give it out.

So either you are playing a joke on me, or else you did not actually read the link I gave you, or else you are very, very stupid. Please let me know which it is.

Eric

Keyamaz replied:

ummm you tell me and ok bye-bye now and 4ever

I give Keyamaz credit, though. Most people establish their stupidity in only one e-mail; he/she managed to drag it out to four e-mails before his/her stupidity was confirmed.

Critical Mess: ‘Stealth’

Monday, August 15th, 2005

Over at MoviePoopShoot.com, Derek Miner does a feature called “Critical Mess,” where he compiles negative quotes about poorly received movies and makes a fake poster for that movie.

To my great honor, I have been included in his latest work, a poster for “Stealth.” My quote is at the bottom, right underneath Roger Ebert! (He’s not fat anymore, so whatever joke you’re thinking of, it doesn’t work.)

See it here.

(By the way, I was previously featured in the Critical Mess poster for “From Justin to Kelly.”)

The worst job in the world

Friday, August 5th, 2005

I learned a terrible thing tonight. I was chatting with Don, who is the studio rep for many of the press/promo screenings here in Portland. He’s there to make sure the screening goes smoothly, and to jot down audience comments as people file out of the theater afterward. (That last part is pointless, since everyone loves everything if they saw it for free.)

Even without the comment-writing-down afterward, he still has to stay for the whole movie, in case there’s a problem. Like last night, during “Red Eye,” a fight broke out between two audience members, a man and a woman. An actual, honest-to-goodness fistfight, with yelling and screaming and everything, right there in the aisle. Luckily, there was a studio rep on hand to get security personnel immediately. If there’d been no rep, you just know we’d all have ignored the movie and watched the fight until it had run its due course.

(By the way, if you live in Portland you probably will not be surprised to learn that the above-mentioned fistfight occurred at the Lloyd Center.)

Anyway, some movies have multiple advance screenings, to build more word-of-mouth. For example, tonight we were seeing “Four Brothers,” and it was the third time for Don. Luckily, he thinks it’s a good movie. He had to sit through “Stealth” FOUR TIMES, and that was a bad movie. And I said, “Wow, and I thought my job sucked sometimes. At least I only have to see these things once!”

And that’s when he told me: Remember “Are We There Yet?,” starring Ice Cube and two evil children? Don had to see it ELEVEN TIMES. ELEVEN!! I think that may be a violation of the Geneva Convention. I wept for Don when he told me that, and for the parts of his soul that were destroyed.

The Backstroke of the West

Friday, August 5th, 2005

Someone in China picked up a DVD bootleg of “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” on the street and has posted some hilarious screen shots from it. The subtitles are English translations of the Chinese translations of the original English; you can imagine the hilarity.

See it here.

NOTE: Some of the subtitles contain swear words.

ALSO NOTE: If you haven’t seen “Revenge of the Sith,” don’t click on the above link, as it contains spoilers.

Angry Letter: ‘Mulholland Drive’

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005

I received this letter concerning my review of David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive,” from the e-mail address dmnxia@hotmail.com:

I just watched Mulholand Drive earlier tonight and it made perfect sense to me. It’s not a linear plot, but it isn’t difficult to unravel if you have even HALF a brain. There really isn’t much to it. You were right in that it wasn’t a great movie, but it’s not a lousy movie because you don’t have the mental faculty to understand it, what makes it kindof weak is that all of the “mysteries” that you proclaim unsolvable are quite easily solvable, and are mostly there just to point out how to reorder the scenes so that things DO make sense. If you really are too stupid to figure it out, and not just incredibly lazy beg me and I might explain it to you! There is also some biblical creation parallelism in the dream(and some other biblical symbolism elsewhere), which makes sense as what diane is DOING in her dream is recreating the world to her liking. You’re review was completyly pathetic and a waste of my time. I feel dumber having taken the time to even read your opinion, and I certainly never will bother to read anything written by you again!

DmNxIa

This seemed excessively harsh, so I did not bother composing a complete rebuttal. Instead, I replied with merely this:

You’re review was completyly pathetic and a waste of my time. I feel dumber having taken the time to even read your opinion,

Imagine how I feel having to read your e-mail!

Eric

Less than an hour later, emboldened by my apparent weakness, he fired back this diatribe:

Wow, that was a response that my 7 year old little sister could have come up with. Thanks for further validating my point. You can’t write OR argue effectivley. I have no respect for people who attempt to foist their opinion on others without even thinking about why THEY hold a particular belief. [Yeah, sorry I tied you down and made you read my review, then.] Imagine how you feel…I’d imagine that you feel pretty pathetic and ashamed when you read my email, because you realize that you aren’t very good at what you do and weren’t smart enough to figure out a simple plot on your own simply because it was non-linear. On the other hand maybe you just can’t read english above a 2nd grade level…although I considered that in advance and DID try not to use too many big words for you. The most likely option in your case, is that you ARE ashamed of how pathetic you are at your job deep down inside, but you will TRY to shrug it off and act like your pathetic egotistical self. Here’s a tip, confidence is only appropriate if you can back it up. False bravado will be seen through by many of us and we will think even LESS of you for your inability to recognize your own failings. It’s just sad that you’re not even capable of doing actual work of any sort, other than making silly comments on things other people have done and that you could never HOPE to do yourself…and you aren’t even good at that

DmNxIa

OK, now enough was enough. I responded as follows:

So, let me get this straight. You write an e-mail, not even bothering to sign your name to it, in which you call me a bad writer and a stupid person — all on the basis of ONE movie review (out of 1,400) — and to that you expect a well-reasoned, mature reply? You write something condescending, mean-spirited, insulting and outrageously uncalled for … yet you expect something intelligent in response?

I wonder what it is that has happened to make you the way you are. I mean, I’ve certainly disagreed with movie critics before, and thought they were missing the boat on something. And I guess I can see writing to a critic to offer my opposing viewpoint, to point out a detail or two that he seemed to have missed, something that might make him see the film differently. But I CANNOT imagine being SO upset that a critic disagreed with me that I would say he was stupid, lazy and bad at being a movie critic.

I mean, what makes a person become so vitriolic at something as simple as a difference of opinion? You’re just someone who watched the movie and liked it. I watched it and did not like it, for the reasons stated in the review. SO WHAT? Where in any of that is there cause for a 196-word diatribe on the various ways that I am stupid?

Now, as to your original e-mail, which apparently I am obligated to respond to point-by-point, despite its rancor. If indeed “all of the ‘mysteries’ that [I] proclaim unsolvable are quite easily solvable,” you are more than welcome to explain them to me. I’ve noticed numerous theories on various Web sites in which people attempt to explain it, and I’d be glad to read your theory. I understand that for some people, that is the fun of a movie such as this, the post-viewing dissection, the attempt to discover its meaning. For myself, as I said in the review, I have no problem with a film that requires a little thought from its audience. Where I have no patience is where I strongly suspect that such analysis will be fruitless, because the film is not meant to be understood.

Roger Ebert also did not “get” the film, as you must have noticed from the portions of his review that I quoted in mine. (I assume you sent him an equally impertinent e-mail, berating him for his ignorance?) He wrote: “‘Mulholland Drive’ isn’t like ‘Memento,’ where if you watch it closely enough, you can hope to explain the mystery. There is no explanation. There may not even be a mystery.”

That’s how I feel, too. Only unlike Ebert, I don’t consider the film being unexplainable to be a selling point. Why watch something that there is no hope of understanding?

Again, if you believe you have unraveled David Lynch’s meaning in the film, then hooray for you. I did not find the sense in it, nor did I believe Lynch himself even knew where all the pieces fit. I thought he was being self-indulgent, and I didn’t like the film.

Now here we are, disagreeing on a film, and yet one of us is still being civilized! How about that!

Best wishes,
Eric

And guess what? This time, he never replied! Apparently, once he discovered I was not an easy target who could be bullied by his angry, faux-educated rants, he lost his false sense of bravery.

Eric recommends: ‘Middlesex,’ ‘Frankland,’ ‘Approximately Heaven’

Monday, August 1st, 2005

The “Eric Recommends” feature, where I would give little book reports on what I’d read recently, isn’t around anymore. It wasn’t getting much use, and we needed space on the navigation bar for other things. Plus, I went through a phase where I was reading a ton of magazines and not as many books.

But lately I’ve had a resurgence, so you can expect several blog entries in the next little while where I recommend some of the more interesting things I’ve read in the past few months. Why, here come a few now!

“Middlesex,” by Jeffrey Eugenides. Now here’s a book for you. This Pulitzer Prize-winner tells the story of a Detroit man who was born and raised, until age 14, a girl — an actual hermaphrodite (not like Jamie Lee Curtis, who is only alleged to be one). The writing is fluid and beautiful, and the story — which begins with the subject’s grandparents in Greece — is affecting, funny, harrowing and completely absorbing.

“Frankland,” by James Whorton Jr. No Pulitzers for this slim volume, a jolly, lightweight little comedy about a 28-year-old historian with few social skills heading to rural Tennessee to find long-lost documents pertaining to President Andrew Johnson. He encounters many odd locals and much small-town weirdness on the way, of course. Much of the humor is derived from the protagonist’s formal, polite way of speaking, juxtaposed with the informality of the rural South. I love Whorton’s way with words, too. (Upon encountering a sweaty, loathsome man who has recently infuriated him, our hero says, “If there had been a way to slap his face without touching his face, I would have done it.”)

“Approximately Heaven,” by James Whorton Jr. Having read his second book first, I went back and read James Whorton’s first book second, and liked it even more than “Frankland.” It’s just as funny (albeit in a different way), but it also has just a little bit of weight to it, which “Frankland” does not. This one is still set in the rural South, but it is written from the point of view of one of the locals, and Whorton thoroughly captures his voice, his matter-of-fact way of describing things, his countryfied mannerisms. Beer is a constant bittersweet theme, providing humor as well as pathos, as the protagonist and a buddy of his go on a road trip while the former’s wife is threatening to leave. I heartily recommend this very funny, very endearing novel.

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