Entourage 8.2 – Out with a Bang

After focusing pretty heavily on Vince’s return from rehab this week, the actor was stuck in the background for most of tonight’s episode, leading me to wonder whether he’ll even get the chance to mount another comeback before the end of the season. Sure, there was a tiny subplot involving him writing the script to that Romanian miner movie he wants Drama to star in, but apart from getting Billy to read the outline and agree to help flesh it out, Vince was surprisingly MIA this week.

He mostly just followed the rest of the gang around like he was part of Drama’s entourage – a scary thought, I know, but things are once again looking up for Vince’s older brother. Despite my personal feelings about “Johnny’s Bananas,” the guys seem to think it has the potential to become a runaway hit, even if Andrew Dice Clay has reservations about it performing well with the public. So when Phil drops by the recording studio to inform Drama and Dice that the show is being screened for a test audience, Dice practically begs him to tag along.

Unfortunately, that may not have been the best decision, because as soon as the Dice Man hears that “Johnny’s Bananas” tested through the roof, he immediately starts planning a mutiny to walk from the show. That’s pretty amateur behavior on his part, no matter how much he thinks they’re being underpaid. After all, the cartoon isn’t even on the air yet, and as Jerry Seinfeld (whose own show famously scored terribly with test audiences) can probably attest to, those scores mean very little in the grand scheme of things. Drama would be wise to keep his cool and not let Dice get into his head, because if he screws this opportunity up, it could very well be his last.

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Breaking Bad 4.3 – Peas and Ice and One Bottle of Champagne

This episode might’ve been called “Open House,” but when it first began, it seemed as though it should’ve been called “Dead Man Walking,” so dour was Walt’s expression when he first entered the SuperLab. But then he poured himself a cup of coffee and found a smile…which, within moments, had turned into something between a frown and a snarl. Yep, Walt’s going through some emotional turmoil at the moment, unable to enjoy his “victory” over Gale because he’s convinced that a final battle between himself and Gus is inevitable, and the addition of security cameras which literally follow him wherever he goes in the lab…well, that’s just the cherry of on top of his seething sundae of hatred for his employer.

But that’s not what this episode is about. Not really, anyway. It’s much more about the two husband-and-wife relationships of the series – Walt & Skyler and Hank & Marie – and, to a lesser extent, poor Jesse, who’s never seemed quite so alone and adrift as he does this week.

Skyler wants to talk about the car wash. Walt doesn’t. Given her persistence to get him to come to the door in the first place, it’s fair to suspect that she would’ve shoved her way past him in annoyance eventually, but once she spotted his bruised eye, it’s notable that her first reaction was concern…not for what it might mean to her and the kids, but simply for Walt. Further confirmation that no matter what kind of ass Walt might be, she still loves and cares for him. Unfortunately, as far as Walt’s concerned, she cares a little too much, dismissing her suggestions to go to the police, then getting grouchy and accusing her of undue passive-aggression. Even when she makes him swear that he’ll go to the police if things get really, really bad, his response of “absolutely!” is utterly devoid of any ring of truth.

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Drink of the Week: The Whiskey Sour

whiskey sourSours are an entire family of cocktail which mostly utilize some combination of lemon juice and sugar. (The sour mix used by many bartenders is, in my experience, slightly revolting.). The Latin American favorite, the pisco sour, is probably a better known drink in many quarters these days, but the whiskey sour has been one of the standard cocktails since cocktails have become popular. Oddly enough, it’s possible that both of these cocktail favorites actually began in Peru.

The Whiskey Sour

2 ounces whiskey (bourbon, rye, Canadian, etc.)
1/2-1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
About 1/2 of an egg white  (semi-optional)
Maraschino cherry or orange slice (optional garnishes)

Dissolve sugar in whiskey and lemon juice and add egg white.  Shake vigorously. You should see a light froth on top of the liquid.

Note that I haven’t mentioned ice at this point. It is important to keep the whiskey, lemon juice and egg white at near room temperature in order for the egg to properly emulsify. Once you’ve shaken the liquid thoroughly, however, it is time to add ice and shake again very vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini, rocks or, if you’re really serious about it, a sour glass.  Add garnishes if you’ve got them.

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Two provisos. One — the “sour” in “whiskey sour” is a serious kind of sour and thus, this drink is not for tartphobes.  Even as an increasingly hardy beverage connoisseur, I found the pucker factor on my whiskey sours to be a bit much, especially without the egg white.

Which brings us to the second proviso. I’m sure some reading this will react strongly against the use of raw egg whites, which can be a bit controversial because of the very small but not quite nonexistent risk of salmonella poisoning. If you’re especially concerned for whatever reason — and if your immune system is compromised or your health is generally shaky, I would be somewhat concerned — you might consider using pasteurized or powdered egg whites or just making the drink without it.

However, be aware that the risk of contaminated egg whites, especially if they are reasonably fresh and kept refrigerated, is actually fairly infinitesimal; whites are less vulnerable than yolks to bacteria and the overall incidence of salmonella has been going down. Also, though I can’t speak to the science of the point, bartenders argue that the alcohol and lemon juice will tend to kill any dangerous microscopic critters. In any case, I’ve been drinking this stuff all week and, aside from being extremely tired of the flavor of lemon juice, I’m doing just fine.

  

Friday Video – INXS with Jimmy Barnes, “Good Times”

Our friends at Popdose – which is the ‘editorial we’ way of saying this writer is involved – are assembling a list of the best cover versions of a song ever recorded. The submissions were a curious bunch, to be sure. From the looks of things, any song that is sung by someone other than the person who wrote it is eligible. This was good in that it opened up songs like “The Air That I Breathe” from the Hollies for consideration, as well as Nancy Sinatra’s Quentin Tarantino-endorsed version of “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).” Who knew that song was written by Cher?


Image courtesy of thetelegraph.com.au

As we were culling our favorites from the list, though, there was one staggering omission, and that is “Good Times,” INXS and Jimmy Barnes’ smoking hot remake of a tune by the Easybeats (yep, the “Friday on My Mind” guys, which gives us an idea for another Friday Video piece). Recorded for the soundtrack to “The Lost Boys,” which featured quite a few covers, though only half of which hit the mark (Echo and the Bunnymen nailed “People Are Strange,” while Tina Turner saxman Tim Cappello had difficulty making the Call’s “I Still Believe” his own), “Good Times” didn’t crack the US Top 40, but it didn’t miss by much, peaking at #47. (The band would score a #1 hit a few months later with “Need You Tonight.”) Listen to it now, though. Damn, what were we listening to that prevented this from being a smash? You know what, don’t answer that. It’s better that those artists remain forgotten.

Parting shot: “Good Times” was co-written by George Young, the older brother of AC/DC’s Angus and Malcolm Young. Nice.

  

Bullz-Eye Parties It Up at the Playboy Mansion

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(Photo of the Bunnies courtesy of Marylou Coyle)

As a writer / editor with Bullz-Eye.com, I’ve seen and done some pretty amazing things, from traveling to Ireland solely for the purposes of sipping whiskey to watching Snoop Dogg blow up an armored car in the name of Mafia Wars, but even as jaded as I perhaps ought to be by this point in my career, I immediately turned into a 13-year-old boy again when I got the word that one of the first parties of this summer’s Television Critics Association press tour was going to be taking place at…the Playboy Mansion.

Given all the amount of hype it’s been receiving, it would be reasonable for you to presume that this was an event being thrown in conjunction with NBC’s new drama, “The Playboy Club,” which premieres this fall. In fact, the party came about through Playboy’s own network, Playboy TV, which made their TCA tour debut back in January, courting couples to watch their new programming. But while there’s little question that this evening’s goings-on resulted in plenty of journalists writing about their experiences – I’m living proof! – it must be said that, even though there were several TV screens running trailers for Playboy TV programs on a loop, the function ultimately did more to promote the Playboy brand name as a whole than the actual network. I did walk out of the event with screeners for a couple of Playboy TV's new shows, however, so you can expect a write-up on those at some point in the future.

For now, though, here's the big thing I'm here to write about: I went to the Playboy Mansion.

Was it everything that 13-year-old me had imagined it to be? Read on and find out...

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