thoughts and links

Members of the cast of The Wire reunited for Paleyfest New York. Moderated by @sepinwall.

Posted 10/16/14 @ 10:00 PM #

There’s a Better Call Saul music video and it’s amazing. 

From the Hollywood Reporter:

The hysterical tune is performed by country singer Junior Brown, with lyrics by series creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. The video also provides brief snippets from the show.

The song, presented as an ad for Saul’s law firm, reaches out to anyone who might be in trouble for drunk driving, vandalism or locking kids in a van. Clearly, Saul is aiming high.

Another Andre The Giant drinking story

Andre the Giant — best known for being a massive human being, wrestling and the Princess Bride — was infamous for how much alcohol he could drink.

The Frenchman was billed at 7’4” and 550 lbs and drank to deal with the pain from wrestling.

Wrestlers (not exactly known for their honesty when boasting about themselves or their friends) have said that Andre could down over 125 beers in a single night. These stories have been around for years.

Cary Elwes, who recently wrote a book about The Princess Bride, adds to the Andre the Giant drinking legend.

Right. You mention this special drink he made, “The American,” which consisted of 40 ounces of various liquors poured into a pitcher, and he’d drink several of these in a single sitting.

Yes. The man was extraordinary. He never even slurred his words or was tipsy! He was absolutely a man who could consume vast amounts of alcohol and not have it affect him at all. I’ve never seen anything like it. I went drinking with him after our first screening in New York, and I was sipping a beer all night—which he thought was very funny. There was no way I was going to compete with that, because I knew he could consume 100 beers in one sitting.

Ah, yes. You describe that night of drinking in the book and apparently the NYPD had assigned a cop to shadow Andre when he went out drinking because he’d accidentally fallen on a patron while tipsy?

Yes. Apparently there was one time where he tripped and fell on an unsuspecting patron while waiting for his car, and after that, any time he went out drinking the NYPD would send an undercover cop to follow him around—which, by the way, I always thought was a great gig to get. Andre would just order the cop drinks all night—which the guy happily took, by the way!

You said in the book that Andre got you to taste “The American.” What did it taste like?

I’ve never tasted airplane fuel, but I imagine it’s very close to what that must taste like. It’s very potent indeed, and I remember coughing a lot. But to him, it was like chugging water.

Apparently there are more Andre stories in Elwes’ book “As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of the Princess Bride.”

It also reminds me of another Frenchman who apparently drinks inconceivable amounts of alcohol — actor Gerard Depardieu says he drinks up to 14 bottles of wine a day.

"When I’m bored, I drink," he continued. "Apart from occasional compulsory moments of abstinence. After undergoing bypass surgery (five times), and also because of cholesterol and stuff, I have to be careful. Anyway, I’m not going to die. Not now. I still have energy."

He continued, “But if ever I start drinking… I can’t drink like a normal person. I can absorb 12, 13, 14 bottles…per day. But I’m never totally drunk, just a little pissed. All you need is a 10-minute nap and voilà, a slurp of rosé wine and I feel as fresh as a daisy! I have to admit that when I start counting, doctors start worrying.”

Posted 9/23/14 @ 12:30 PM #

The Heaven’s Gate cult website is still up and running

If you go to, you’ll see a website that looks like it was designed in late 90s. It has the hallmarks of the web design that I learned in high school (I graduated in 2003). 

That’s because it was designed then. And it is still up and running — despite the fact that most of the people who built the website are dead. You even heard about their deaths.

That’s because the people who built the site were one of the most notorious cults in recent memory, the Heaven’s Gate cult.

Gizmodo delved into the still-functioning website and how it is still running all these years after the cult’s mass-suicide. The two who run the site are known as Ti and Do and they spoke to Gizmodo. Definitely worth a read.

It’s not at all surprising why Mark and Sarah were chosen as to run the website. They’ll answer your questions, but will never offer any information that hasn’t been directly prompted. They’re wary—and they have every reason to be. And that quiet reservation is what allows the website—not its keepers—to take center stage. You wouldn’t even know anyone was behind the scenes unless you knew where to look.

But why keep running? As far as Mark and Sarah are concerned, it seems to be more about keeping a promise than anything else. And if they do know what Do truly had in mind, at least for now, they’re keeping their mouths shut. But as Balch says:

[Do] was also very intent on going out with a splash, as one of the ex-members told me. Way back in the very beginning, they believed that they were going to fulfill prophecy by being assassinated and resurrected. Then the UFO would come, the space ship, and they called it a demonstration because this was going to be proof to the world of who they were. More than that, they believed it was going to be witnessed by thousands and broadcast around the world, So when they committed suicide, I think even though they didn’t use the term demonstration, it was the same thing. Going out with a splash—and they certainly did. So the website certainly could be the legacy of that.

One more thing: I had heard for years that the cult members wore Nike Cortez shoes. These are my favorite kind of shoes — they are comfortable and pretty much indestructible.

But when I looked at a photo of the aftermath of the mass-suicide after reading the Gizmodo piece, I noticed… hey, those aren’t Nike Cortez shoes.

They didn’t wear the Nike Cortez. Instead they wore the Nike Decade.

George Costanza, meanwhile, preferred to rock the Cortez.

Posted 9/18/14 @ 11:00 AM #

Bryan Cranston is a national treasure.

While he will always be known as Walter White, he has been doing some very funny things (and apparently some very good things on Broadway, as he is turning his Tony-award-winning performance as LBJ into a TV movie for HBO) since the end of the show.

From being a pawn shop owner with Aaron Paul to congratulating Julia Louis-Dreyfus on her Emmy win by making out with her, he has stayed in the public eye and shown that in addition to being the menacing Walter White (and, in the early episodes, the nebbish Walter White) he hasn’t forgotten how to be hilarious.

This video promoting the MLB playoffs on TBS is the latest, and perhaps greatest, example. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of baseball and seeing Cranston reenact famous postseason baseball moments… well it’s just great.

Can we make this one-man show into a real thing?

Posted 9/16/14 @ 12:06 PM #

Real archaeologists don’t like Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones is the most famous archaeologist, well, ever. And he’s not even real.

Real archaeologists? They don’t like him much.

“That first scene, where he’s in the temple and he’s replacing that statue with a bag of sand – that’s what looters do,” Canuto says, grinning. “[The temple builders] are using these amazing mechanisms of engineering and all he wants to do is steal the stupid gold statue.”

Think about it. Here’s Indy, in some ancient tropical temple whose booby traps have miraculously not turned to dust with age and humidity. All the ropes, wooden blocks, gears, whatever – they still function. This is a treasure trove of information for an archeologist. How did their technology work? How did they get that giant rock to the top of that ramp? What powered their poison darts?

But no, he goes for the least interesting but most economically valuable thing in the temple – a golden statue. A real archeologist would have taken a photo of it, told the Nazis they could have the stupid thing, and spent the next 10 years studying the temple’s booby traps.

The rest of us can keep liking him.

IKEA catalog announcement: It’s not a digital book or an ebook. It’s a bookbook. 

Posted 9/10/14 @ 11:57 PM #