Well, I guess it was better than calling him "Behind the Green Door"

After nearly 4 decades of silence, the world's most famous anonymous tipster stands revealed. The man referred to as "Deep Throat," the confidential informant who helped Woodward & Bernstein blow the lid off of Watergate, turns out to be Mark Felt, former second-in-command of the FBI. And now, with one of the great mysteries of modern American history solved at last, I can't help but feel, well... a little underwhelmed, truthfully.

Don't get me wrong - I'm sure that Felt's story and the truth behind his motivations will be fascinating, and that it will provide fodder for endless debates, books, television shows and films for years to come. And the fact that Deep Throat was, in fact, someone so high up in the security food chain is pretty astounding. It's just that before tonight, I had never heard of the guy. And I was the type of kid who paid really close attention in history classes, too. Dean, Ehrlichman, Haldeman, Liddy, Haig, Kissinger... I know them. Felt, not so much.

Like most people, I always assumed good ol' DT was one of those guys (okay, probably not Liddy), and perhaps always really hoped that it was one of the oddball candidates, like Pat Buchanan (then a Nixon speech writer) or Diane Sawyer (a White House press assistant at the time). And I thought it would be incredibly funny if it turned out that this Deep Throat turned out to be the actual Deep Throat, Linda Lovelace. Not bloody likely, sure, but you have to admit, it would've made a great story.

Still, I think this is pretty exciting news. I know that Woodward promised to reveal all one day, but I always kind of figured something would happen to prevent that, and the true identity of Deep Throat would remain one of the Great Unanswered Questions of the 20th Century, like "Who really killed JFK?" or "Who is Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain' really about?" It's truly great to finally know the answer, but I always expected my response would've been "Wow," not "Huh."

A Hamster Wonderland!

Posted by Hello

Some things you post just because you can.

Plus, Habitrails were awesome! They were like Logan's Run for rodents ("There is no Add-On Sleeping Den with Curiosity Cube!"). I remember the children's section of the public library having a particularly excellent set-up. I think that's how my parents tricked me into literacy at a young age. "Hey, let's go see the hamsters. And look, books!"

Back before hamsters danced, they ran around in little yellow space stations for our amusement. Life was better then.

* * *

I've added Snark Free Happy Joy Comic Blog and Dial B for Blog to the roll, as they are both excellent beyond belief. Check 'em out if you haven't yet done so.

And while you're checking things out, give a peep to my eBay auctions, and maybe even bid on something. (as I said, I can shill with the best of 'em).

Two items about as unrelated as any two items could possibly be (like Sputnik and Cheez Wiz, for instance)

Hey, I'm one of Thursday's winners for Yet Another Comics Blog's Free Comic Book Month giveaway. Woot! I won the first issue of The Sandwalk Adventures, the book about Charles Darwin discussing evolutionary theory with a follicle mite living in his eyebrow. Odd concept, but it got great reviews and looks really cute. I always meant to get around to checking it out but never did, so I'm really looking forward to this. Thanks, David!

This doesn't exactly make up for not winning Powerball on Wednesday night, but I'll gladly take it just the same.

* * *

In other news, people really seem to be in an uproar over
that new Carl's Jr. TV ad featuring Paris Hilton, don't they? I saw the ad online the other day (we don't have Carl's Jr. in Rhode Island, and I was curious to see what all the furor was about), and I have to say, the real issue in my mind isn't the content of the ad, because there are actually a few positive aspects being overlooked here. First, given Ms. Hilton's reputation, it's actually pretty tame. She's just washing a car in an allegedly sexy manner and more or less fellating a sandwich; we should be thankful she isn't doing anything truly obscene with the sponge, a torque wrench and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, you know?

Second, it promotes the idea that Paris Hilton actually eats. Given the countless misguided teen girls who probably worship her and may go to dangerous lengths to look as waifish as she does, that's probably not a bad image to convey.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, in terms of actual content, it isn't any worse than a Whitesnake video. If society could withstand those without crumbling (and though it was an undoubtedly close call, we're all still here), the human race can persevere this time, too.

I think the real issue here is the ad just doesn't do it's job. In order for the concept to work on you, you need to find the woman attractive. I think she's pretty repellent, myself, as do most people I know, come to think of it. I honestly believe the reason a lot of people think she's sexy is because we're continually told that she is; I just don't get it. Anyway, it sure as hell doesn't make me want to eat a Carl's Jr. hamburger.

What does make me want to eat a Carl's Jr. hamburger is the burger itself. I mean, good lord, did you see that thing? Sweet Jebus, that looks like one huge, tasty burger. I thought the idea of a fast food chain selling burgers for $6 was pretty ridiculous at first, but I totally get it now. Carl's Jr., one day one of your burgers will reside briefly in my tummy, and that'll be a good day. And if you also sell Mr. Pibb, I just may have to move in.

I guess the idea behind this commercial is that we, the horny American public, are supposed to wish that we were the burger that Paris Hilton appears to be orally pleasuring. Maybe it's just me, maybe my priorities are way the hell out of whack, but honestly, I wish I was the person with the burger. If that means being Paris for a little while, so be it.

Just not when she's making home movies.

I can shill with the best of 'em

Did somebody say eBay?

No. Clearly not. But I'm saying it now, because I have
several items of comics-related goodness up for auction. There's the first Mage collection, the first Walking Dead TPB, a lot of the first two Fables books, some Peanuts books from the 60s and, last but not least, the hardcover Lloyd Llewellyn collection from Fantagraphics, signed and numbered by Dan Clowes (#59 of 2000, if that means anything to you). Bid early and bid often! Baby needs a new pair of, well, everything, really (Except onesies. Boy, have we got onesies.).

* * *

Psychbloke, the copy of Bonesharps, Cowboys and Thunder Lizards you sent to me arrived in my mailbox yesterday. Thank you very kindly, friend! I most definitely owe you a pint at some point in the future (or whatever the karmic equivalent ends up being).

* * *

This Rann/Thanagar thing continues to heat up. I'm showing my support with that nifty new banner over in my sidebar, courtesy of Robby Reed at
Dial B for Blog. If you support the obvious superiority of jetpacks, rayguns, aerodynamic headgear and the attractive daughters of bald scientists (and honestly, what right thinking person doesn't profess their love for these things every single day?), you'd do well to go over there and get a banner of your very own. But if you're a Thanagar backer, the type who gets all hot and bothered over the Audubon Society calendar, well, I guess that's your own deal.

* * *

Speaking of freakish sex practices as related to comic book characters (can't wait to see the sort of hits that sentence spawns),
here are some comments about the Legion of Super-Heroes made by Jim Shooter when he was LSH scribe back in 1976 (found via Joanna). Let's just say that in Jim's eyes, Dream Girl was pretty much the village bicycle of the 30th century and leave it at that. Creepy stuff. Definitely "traffic accident" material... you want to stop, but you just have to keep reading.

Revenge of the Foregone Conclusions, and some other stuff.

Erin and I saw Episode 3 this weekend, and yea, verily, it was good. Not Clone Wars or "Lego Star Wars: The Video Game" good, and certainly not Empire good, but quite enjoyable all the same. It's definitely the best of the prequel trilogy (which, I suppose, is sort of like being declared "World's Tallest Midget," but there ya go), and maybe even the third best over all of the whole series (after Empire and the original Star Wars), but I'd have to watch Jedi again before I can really claim that comfortably. It has some of the same problems as Eps. 1 & 2, those being dialogue, dialogue and dialogue, but overall, it's funny where it needs to be, tense when the situation called for, and gloomy as all get out by the final reel, and it ties up most of the loose ends quite nicely. Overall, a decent movie. And considering it's probably the last time I'll get to see a movie in the theater for the foreseeable future (less than four weeks until baby time, if the doctors are at all right), it's a good note to go out on.

* * *

Two bits of coolness posted over at
This is Pop! :
  • Russ Cochrane discusses the possibility of EC Archives volumes, a la the DC Archives, to be sold at book stores everywhere (please oh please oh please, and do a Carl Barks set while you're at it, Russ!)
  • British ska/pop legends Madness plan on releasing a new album this July, with their original line-up no less. This makes me quite happy indeed!

* * *

On a quasi-related-to-the-Madness-bit note (at least in that this relates to music, too), a new Aquabats CD in June and a new Juliana Hatfield CD in August. Woot! Better start saving my pennies now.

* * *

The Absorbascon continues to stump for Thanagar in the ongoing Rann/Thanagar Bloggyverse War. If you prefer a planet full of of fascist bird fetishists to one where they hand you a jetpack, raygun, head scientist's hot daughter and title of Big Time Hero Man #1 just for showing up a few days a month and fighting off B-movie monsters, I guess that's just your own deal. There's hope for friend Scipio, though, as he introduces us to the concept of Freed Comic Book Day (where you "liberate" your collection of the stuff you know you're never going to read again, and possibly wonder why you even read it in the first place) and tries to get the Martian Manhunter a pop song of his very own. And there's always Superhero Radio. You're not beyond saving, Scipio! Step back into the light!

* * *

I'm not entirely certain why, but I find this picture very funny.

* * *

Vayo con Dios, Frank Gorshin! You were always my favorite villain on Batman, and a really funny guy in your own right.

A "missed FCBD" appeal, and two bits of comics linkblogging

Due to the various family-related goings on connected with Erin’s baby shower, I managed to miss Free Comic Book Day (I’m not complaining, mind you… expensive baby stuff for free is a very good thing, and they brought home copious leftovers for me to feast on, so I was a happy man). A few stores here in RI still had a good deal of leftover books, though, so I was still able to pick up most of what I was looking for. There were a few I couldn’t find, however, so I was wondering if anybody out there in Bloggyverseland (be you retailer or person with extras) can hook me up with copies of the following FCBD books:

Superior Showcase
Alternative Comics Presents
Comics Festival
Johnny Raygun
Bonesharps, Cowboys & Thunder Lizards (Update: Psychbloke helping me out with this one)

And I know it’s a longshot, but if anyone has an extra of that Batman Heroclix kicking around, that’d be pretty cool, too.

Any help you could offer would be very greatly appreciated. I’ll gladly refund postage and maybe throw in something fun by way of reward, too. Leave me a comment or email me at prufrock30 (at) hotmail (dot) com if you can help. Thanks!

* * *

Joe Rice has a number of really great Marvel Family sketches posted over at his blog (scroll down to see 'em all) that are well-worth checking out, even if you aren’t a fan of The Big Red Cheese and his associated hangers-on (And if you aren’t, why the hell not? It’s good comics, people!). The sketches by Jim Mahfood and Jaime Hernandez are particularly excellent, as are those done by Rice’s own students. That’s right… kids! Drawing Captain Marvel! You’re doing the Lord’s work, Joe Rice, and don’t forget it!

* * *

Scipio over at
the Absorbascon may be a Thanagar supporter (I’m pro-Rann, and I vote!), but he puts together a great little geek-oriented playlist. Give his Live365 station, Superhero Radio, a listen. You may be surprised how many decent songs there are out there based on the cape & tights crowd (XTC wrote a song about Supergirl? How have I never heard that one before?). The number of “Aquaman’s life sucks” songs alone is pretty astounding (in that there’s, you know, more than one).

Coolness abounds.

Palisades Toys is now selling the long-rumored Jim Henson Muppet action figure:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Coolest. Toy. Ever.

The only problem is, they're $20 a pop, and then you pay another $5 for shipping. I have a baby on the way in less than a month; no way can I justify spending $25 bucks on an action figure. Sigh... Oh well, maybe they'll have a sale or something down the line, or at least have 'em up for grabs at Wiz World Boston in October, where at least I won't have to pay shipping. If you'd like to pick one up, though, for yourself or, and this is just me thinking out loud here, me maybe, go here.

* * *

Because no one demanded it, the Music Meme, as copied from Lefty Brown and Shane at Near Mint Heroes, among others:

1. Of all the bands/artists in your CD/record collection, which one do you own the most albums by?

Juliana Hatfield (her solo stuff alone would probably give her the title; include her stuff with Blake Babies, Some Girls and The Lemonheads and she’s a shoo-in)

2. What was the last song you listened to?

"Octopus’s Garden” by the Beatles

3. What's in your CD player right now?

Actually, the audio book of "The Kid Stays in the Picture" by Robert Evans (as read by the man himself). But before that, The Beatles' "Abbey Road."

4. What song would you say sums you up?

I don’t think there’s a specific song that sums me up as a whole, but there are plenty of songs that definitely equate to different aspects of my life. “Saturday Morning” by the Eels takes me back to life in footie pajamas. “Feelin’ Massachusetts” by the Juliana Hatfield Three reminds me of growing up in what I felt was the middle of nowhere. “Save Tonight” by Eagle Eye Cherry takes me back to having to say goodbye to Erin when she went to Austria for a year in college. “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds says exactly what I’ve always wanted to say to Erin about how I feel about her. “The Great Provider” by Barenaked Ladies reminds me of leaving home for good. And there’s many more, I’m sure.

5. What's your favorite local band?

I don’t know many Rhode Island bands, but Piebald is based out of Massachusetts, and they’re amazingly great, so that’s good enough for me.

6. What was the last show you attended?

I don’t know if I’ve been to a show since the WARPED Tour 10th Anniversary Show at Foxboro Stadium last year. Good times, but way too hot to be in the sun all day.

7. What artist do you consider to be very underrated?

Juliana Hatfield. Her last album, “In Exile Deo,” was one of her best ever.

8. What's the shittiest band you've ever seen in concert?

Blink 182. No question about it.

9. What band do you love musically but hate the members of?

If I don’t like a given band’s or performer’s attitude, I can’t like their music. I just can’t support someone I think is an asshole.

10. What is the most musically involved you have ever been?

I played the clarinet from 5th through 9th grade, and hated every stinking moment.

11. What show are you looking forward to?

My son is due to be born in a little over a month. Concerts are not in my future for some time, I expect.

12. What is your favorite band shirt?

I like my Less Than Jake shirt with an airplane that’s dropping Pez like bombs, and the They Might Be Giants shirt Erin bought me for my birthday.

13. What musician would you like to hang out with for a day?

Either Ben Folds or Weird Al Yankovic (odd combo, I know).

14. Metal question- Jeans and Leather vs. Cracker Jack clothes?

Jeans and Leather. What the hell are Cracker Jack clothes? Do they have a prize inside?

15. Sabbath or solo Ozzy?

Sabbath, I guess, if only for “Iron Man.”

16. Commodores or solo Lionel Ritchie?

Hmm… “Brick House” or “Hello.” Do I even need to answer that?

17. Blackjack or solo Michael Bolton?

Death first.

18. The Eagles or solo Don Henley?

Eagles, I suppose. Wider variety of hits to choose from.

19. The Police or solo Sting?

The Police all the way.

20. Doesn't emo suck?

As Sturgeon’s Law states, 90% of everything is crud. So yes, a lot of emo does indeed suck, because a lot of whiny, screamy, moody, “no one loves me” music sucks. But there’s plenty of good stuff, too, like early Piebald, The Get Up Kids, Six Going On Seven and a bunch of other bands Erin could name (when we met in ’96, she was the first emo fan I ever met; I had no idea what she was talking about). Hell, if you like the first two Weezer albums, what you’re grooving to is essentially emo!

21. Name 4 flawless albums.

1. The Beatles – Rubber Soul
2. The Juliana Hatfield Three – Become What You Are
3. Weezer – Pinkerton
4. Barenaked Ladies – Gordon

22. Did you know that filling out this survey makes you a music geek?

I am already several kinds of geek. One more won’t hurt.

23. What was the greatest decade for music?

Historically, the 60s, hands down. For me specifically, the years 1993-1996 (Junior year of high school through Sophomore year of college) were probably the very best.

24. How many music-related videos/DVDs do you own?

Between 5 and 10.

25. Do you like Journey?

Not so much.

26. What is your favorite movie soundtrack?

Either About A Boy, Angus or High Fidelity

27. What was your last musical "phase" before you wised up?

Truthfully, I don’t think I’ve ever really followed many of the musical trends over the years.

28. What's the crappiest CD/record/etc you've ever bought?

That first Jewel CD. I needed a third selection to get that month’s discount from BMG. For reasons I don’t get to this day, I chose that.

29. Do you prefer vinyl or Cd's?

Records are great, but you can’t play ‘em in the car, so CDs for me, thanks.

30. What is your guilty pleasure CD, that being the CD you love but would be ashamed to admit you have in your collection?

By conventional definitions, either my K-Tel ABBA greatest hits record (“The Magic of ABBA,” IIRC) or the new Emma “Please Stop Calling Me Baby Spice” Bunton CD, “Free Me.” But I feel no shame in owning these albums, so maybe they don’t qualify.

Sadly, people got paid to be involved with these things.

I'm the first to admit that cheesy, borderline-crass TV advertisements are one of life's great pleasures, but there's a new series of ads out there now that just drive me nuts. They're for a supposed hangover remedy called Chasers, and they're just so far out of whack that they leap well beyond the territory of "entertainingly misguided" and into the land of "the people this sort of thing would appeal to kind of frighten me a little." There are two I've seen thus far, one featuring a man and one a woman, and they both go a little something like this:

"You know, if there's one thing I really enjoy, it's going out every night and getting completely obliterated on that sweet, sweet booze. Hangovers are such a pain though, and really bring an evening of pleasant brain cell slaughter to an unhappy ending. But now, there's Chasers. You take these little red pills here before you start your night's hard drinking, and then you won't have a hangover the next day. Science rules! So anyway, I woke up this morning in the gutter, my hair caked with vomit, excrement and semen, wearing nothing but wooden clogs and 27 apparently stolen Medic Alert bracelets, all warning of peanut allergies. I have the names of 8 strangers tattooed on my ass, a Latvian passport, and the unsettling feeling that someone may have tried to copulate with my left nostril. But no hangover... thanks to Chasers!"

The actual words spoken differ a little, but the intent is definitely there. It's like an SNL parody, or one of those fake-out Geico ads... you keep expecting there to be a punchline, but it never arrives. Both commercials are just so lecherous - you know the guy would keep these things in the same pocket as his roofies, and the woman seems about 5 seconds away from proudly proclaiming herself as the village bicycle. Mom and Dad are so proud of you both, I'm sure. It's all so grimy, and unless the product being sold is soap, a commercial shouldn't make me think I need a shower. Scrub all you want, but you just can't wash away the evil.

A borgasmord of ramblings from the liberry.

It’s Finals Week here at the school, so I find myself in the unenviable position of working here at the library until 2 a.m., and in the doubly unenviable position of closing by myself. It’s not so much extra work per se, but it’s hard enough to kick everyone out when we close at midnight during the semester. The few brave souls who stay all the way until 2 during finals are really hesitant to leave. I don’t know whether I should admire their dedication or pity the fact that they, like Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman, have no place else to go.

* * *

Erin had her baby shower this weekend. Got to see lots of family and friends we don’t see that often, and my parents even came down to visit, so you know that’s a real happening occasion (getting my dad to leave Maine is only slightly less difficult than getting a devout Hindu person to order the Double Whopper Value Meal). Well, Erin got to see most of them, anyway. My job was to keep our dads occupied while this went on, and then come in at the end to carry the presents home. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, because A.) baby showers bore me (which I know for a fact from being required to attend one or two held during lunch breaks at my old job); and B.) I got to eat a large portion of the leftover food (cake two weekends in a row… woo!).

This reminded me of two things that have amazed me most about the whole baby thing these past 8 months (you know, besides the whole “miracle of life” deal). The first thing is the sheer amount of astoundingly cool but in-truth-probably-unnecessary baby-related items on the market today. I mean, countless generations of parents got by without Diaper Genies, Boppy pillows or babywipe warmers, so I’m willing to bet we don’t truly need ‘em either. But do we want them anyway? Oh hells yes! Who cares about the necessity of a babywipe warmer… it’s damn cool!

The second thing is the sheer number of these items you can get emblazoned with Winnie the Pooh on them. Damn, when I was a kid, the only place you could buy Pooh stuff was Sears. They had stuffed animals, pajamas and maybe shoes. End of list. Now you can buy Winnie the Pooh lotion, fer cryin’ out loud (Just think of the number of Poohbears cut off in their prime and squeezed to make that stuff. Sad.). And since we have decorated Liam’s room with a Classic Pooh theme (meaning it looks more like the original books than the Disney movies… and by the way, it all looks pretty effing awesome, if I do say so myself), we now have a firsthand look at the amount of Pooh merch available for a baby’s every conceivable need. By the time we get everything set up and put away, the room will look like A.A. Milne’s head exploded in there or something.

* * *

If there’s a greater video game out there than Lego Star Wars, I don’t know what it could possibly be. This could have been just another run of the mill platform jumping collect-a-thon, but the designers pulled out all the stops here, creating a game that controls intuitively (playing equally well to game newbies and seasoned pros), delivers a new and quirky take on familiar material and looks truly unique. It captures the look and feel of both the Star Wars and Lego universes in a way that manages to stay true to both without sacrificing any crucial elements on either side of the equation in order to make it work. And it’s crazy fun (and funny). Rent this at the very least (though if you have any sense of fun at all, you’ll buy). And if you don’t have a game system or strong enough PC to run it, make a run to your local big box electronics store and fix that problem toot sweet. We’re talking killer app here, kids.

Still more proof that the less George Lucas is directly involved with a Star Wars project, the better it tends to be (see also: Clone Wars cartoon, Episodes V and VI)

* * *

Speaking of seemingly ill-advised but surprisingly cool Star Wars / pop culture mash-ups, I had to cave and buy a Darth Tater. It’s too bizarrely cute for words. Well worth the investment, if only because 25 years from now, you’re going to try and explain to people that there was once this Mr. Potato-Head that could dress up as Darth Vader, and they’re going to ask you if you’ve taken your medication yet today. The conversation will go much smoother if you have some actual proof to back this up.

* * *

Speaking of still more bizarre pop culture mash-ups, I picked up an awesome book today (in the check-out line of Old Navy, of all places) called Krazy Kids’ Food! (exclamation is the book's, not my own) It’s one of those little art books put out by the Taschen people that shows pictures of old advertising and packaging for candy, cereal and other treats aimed at kids, ranging from the surprisingly hip (Krazy Foam cans looked awesome in the pre-licensed character days, a bit like the older Pez) to the just-plain-odd (Gigantor bubble bath, or candy kisses in a box bearing the likeness of Lee Falk’s The Phantom… who wouldn’t want a taste of confectionary love from good ol’ Mr. Walker?*). Some great stuff to be found, if you like that sort of thing (I do).

* * *

Lastly, Alan David Doane over at Comic Book Galaxy started what he called an “unmeme,” asking people what they watch on TV these days. It’s late and there isn’t really anything better to do here, so I’ll bite.

Do to my bizarre work schedule, I watch very little TV anymore, and what I do manage to see is very rarely at its time of original airing. If not for Tivo and the amount of shows on DVD these days, I doubt I’d see anything anymore. It’s made even worse by the fact that I don’t enjoy watching a lot of shows by myself anymore, so there’s plenty of stuff that I really like when I do see it (like Lost or The Amazing Race), but if Erin isn’t there to watch it with me, I have no interest whatsoever. But anyway, here’s what I have seen lately in one format or another and really enjoyed.

Good Eats – Truthfully, this is probably my favorite show on TV. I’ve eaten very well these past few years thanks to Alton Brown.

CSI: The Good One – AKA the original show, the Vegas one. Still consistently intelligent and riveting (mostly) after all this time, though the annual “Let’s Campaign to Get Marg Helgenberg an Emmy” episode usually ends up getting on my nerves (this year’s was no exception).

The Alternative – A block Modern/Alt/Prog/Punk rock videos from the 80s and 90s on VH1 Classic, which is one of the best music channels on all of cable (in that it actually plays videos). Though the programmers of this particular show are a little too obsessed with Johnny Rotten’s other band, Public Image, Ltd, which strikes me as odd. That’s like being the world’s biggest Paul McCartney & Wings fan or something.

Arrested Development – Discovered the first season via DVD, and it’s probably the funniest sitcom I’ve ever seen. I’m a bad person, though; I haven’t watched more than 5 minutes of the second season on actual TV and am waiting for the DVDs so I can catch up then. I’m part of the problem, I know.

Robot Chicken – Funniest show on Adult Swim, bar none. Seth Green and the other guy (you know, the not famous one) make toys do even crazier stuff than the scenarios we’d invent as kids on Pixy Stick highs (prostate cancer PSAs with Optimus Prime, re-enactments of the movie Midnight Madness, etc).

Wonderfalls – Well-written, great cast, intriguing premise, and quirky as all get out. Never stood a chance, did it?

Freaks and Geeks – See also: Wonderfalls.

Justice League Unlimited – If only the freakin’ comic books it was based on were this good.

The Daily Show – Like so many Americans now, this is the only news source I trust. I can’t figure out if that’s a sad commentary on me or on the state of American journalism. Probably a bit of both.

X-Play – The only show on G4/Tech TV that doesn’t make me wish my head would explode. Informative and well-thought-out video game reviews delivered by genuinely funny, entertaining hosts (though a little Adam Sessler goes a long way; Morgan Webb is more tolerable over a longer period of time).

*For the Ghost Who Walks.

Don't Panic! Well, okay, maybe panic a little bit.

So we went to see The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy the other night.

Short version? Meh. A loving meh, don’t get me wrong, but a meh all the same.

Now, bear in mind that I’m a huge fan of Adams’s work, and have enjoyed the story in its many forms over the years, and have basically been waiting for somebody to make this movie since I was about 13. So I tried to go in without any expectations; that, of course, was impossible, but I did try. That counts for something, I think.

I don’t mind the changes or additions they made to the story. As I’ve said before, I expected there to be differences from what has gone on before because every version – radio show, book, TV show, computer game, etc. – is in some way different from everything that came before it. In fact, I think it’s a testament to Douglas Adams’s ability as a writer that the basic premise can undergo so many permutations over time and still be interesting. Given that the man was an affirmed Darwinist, you can’t help but wonder if such a process of literary evolution was at least a little bit planned. So I didn’t mind the extended presence of the Vogons, or the plot point about splitting of Zaphod’s brain amongst his two heads (in fact, these are adaptations of ideas from Adams’s later Hitchhiker books). The bits involving John Malkovich’s character added a nice touch of creepiness and menace to the proceedings, and the Arthur/Trillian/Zaphod love triangle, while probably unnecessary, was executed in a much better fashion than I expected it to be. In all, the various alterations and additions help add a bit of structure to what was, admittedly, more a collection of increasingly bizarre occurrences than an actual story.

As for the casting, I thought that all worked, too. Martin Freeman was a pitch-perfect Arthur Dent. Mos Def truly surprised me as Ford Prefect, bringing the right mix of alien aloofness and general befuddlement that made the character work so well on the page. Zooey Deschanel brought a bit of depth to the historically one-note Trillian, which is no small achievement (and she looked quite foxy in tiny shorts and knee-high argyle socks, I might add). Sam Rockwell stole the whole damn show as Zaphod Beeblebrox, and was there ever a better Marvin, the Paranoid Android, than Alan Rickman?

(Erin wants a toy Marvin of her very own, now, by the way. Do they make such things?)

So with all this working in the film’s favor, how did it all go so tragically meh? I blame director Garth Jennings. You’ve got a script co-written by the concept’s creator, a great cast at your disposal, and the backing of Disney, who probably wouldn’t mind a successful summer blockbuster. On paper, it can’t go wrong. But the film just drags in places, and slows to an almost complete stop in others. The manic pacing that made the other versions of the story so successful is sadly missing here. Instead of being the story of an ordinary shlub forced out of his humdrum life and into a series of wild, inexplicable events, we get the story of an ordinary shlub forced out of his humdrum life and into a series of should-be-wild but inexplicably humdrum events. With the resources at Jennings’s disposal, I find this inexcusable. It also really bugged me that the Malkovich character’s subplot (involving the POV gun) is left completely unresolved, and that one of the major plotpoints, the fact that the Earth is the computer constructed by Deep Thought to figure out The Question, is never explicitly stated in the film. The two people I saw this with, Erin and our friend Jill, have never been exposed to any prior version of the story, were quite shocked when I explained this to them. “Why didn’t they actually say that in the movie?” Jill asked, so obviously it wasn’t just me that missed the explanation. That’s just sloppy filmmaking, if you ask me.

In the end, maybe my expectations did get the best of me, but it just didn’t manage to come together in quite the way I was hoping it would. If I were the sort of person to grade such things, I’d give it a B: it was a respectable attempt, but it didn’t blow me away. Under a different director or studio, things might’ve been different, but at least what we did get was decent, if not particularly outstanding.

On a related note: All this talk about the Guide has made me want to go back and listen to the original radio show, which I haven't heard since high school (and even then, only in the form of the U.S. released records, which only had the first 6 episodes). Checking online, I see that the BBC CDs collecting the initial 2 series aren't in print here in the States. I could order 'em from Amazon UK or Auntie Beeb herself, but when you work in currency differences and international shipping, you're looking at close to $50, which is a whole damn lot for 2 cds. Anybody out there know where I can buy these stateside, or maybe, I don't know, own copies of the discs that they'd potentially be willing to copy for me (ahem, not that I condone such blatantly illegal actions, mind you, wink wink)? Comment or email me over at the address listed on the sidebar if you can help.