Entourage 8.5 – Motherfucker

After last week’s mostly uneventful episode, I was starting to get worried that this final season might end up being just a whole bunch of filler. But thankfully, there’s plenty to talk about tonight, starting with the latest development from the Vincent Chase career rehabilitation saga. Though it wasn’t totally surprising that Vince would botch his interview with the Vanity Fair reporter once he realized that she was smoking hot, I expected much worse to come from all his flirting. Instead, Vince took it upon himself to make things right, and though he did successfully smooth things over by giving a good second interview, he still had the urge to hit on her again when it was over. Vince claims that he’s in love, but this has happened too many times before for anyone to seriously believe that it’ll end any differently.

And as one Chase brother attempts to put his career back together, the other is coming dangerously close to tearing his apart. Then again, can you blame him? While Drama has tried to stick it out after Dice’s decision to walk from the show, his new replacement has become insufferable to work with, even going so far as to criticize his performance in the recording booth. Desperate to get Dice back at any cost, Drama makes the unselfish offer to give him the difference in his pay so that they would be making the same amount. Dice graciously declines, however, stating that if anyone’s going to pay him, it’ll be the network, and is confident they’re going to give in to his demands soon.

But Phil doesn’t think that’s the case, letting Drama in on the secret that the network is so pleased with his work that they’re planning to tailor the entire show around him. Granted, I thought that’s what they were doing this whole time by making a cartoon called “Johnny’s Bananas,” but I digress. Drama feels that if the network really believes in him that much, however, that they would be willing to do anything he asks, so he decides to walk from the show in an attempt to convince them that the cartoon will only be successful with Dice’s involvement. That would have been a pretty boneheaded decision a few weeks ago, but now that Drama knows what he does, it’s his best chance of saving the show. It also proves just how much he’s matured over the last eight seasons, because I don’t think a younger Drama would have done the same.

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Breaking Bad 4.6 – “I am not in danger, Skyler. I *am* the danger.”

It’s deja vu all over again as we start this week’s episode once more in the back of a Los Pollos Hermanos van. Just because Mike took down the last dudes who tried to hijack a shipment, don’t think that’s scared off the cartel: they’ve gotten smarter, gassing out Gus’s guys and taking what they came for. The container of meth-laded chicken batter makes a return appearance later in the episode. First, though, it’s time to pop back in and see how our man Walt is doing after his drunken escapades at the end of last week’s episode.

After Walt’s wine-fueled eruption at dinner the night before, Skyler’s reflecting on Walt’s “I love you” message on the answering machine and realizing that the words were uttered more out of fear than anything else. He’s got a well-deserved hangover and claims limited recall on the previous evening’s goings-on, but she’s not going to let that stop her from getting some answers about the whole Gale situation. Moreover, she wonders if perhaps his outburst to Hank might not be some sort of subconscious cry for help. The mere idea that she sees him as unable to handle the situation infuriates him. “I am not in danger, Skyler,” he growls. “I am the danger.”

After he takes a quick shower to relax and, apparently, shave his head, Walt finds emerges to find Skyler gone, so he decides to head over to the car wash to take care of the final transition of ownership. The discussion between Walt and Bogdan felt a little heavy-handed, what with the unabashed parallel between being a boss at the car wash and being a boss in the meth operation (or, for that matter, in his own marriage), but the scene was worth it for two things: the nasty little comment by Bogdan to Walt about how “if you can’t be tough, you can always call your wife,” and the way Walt got his revenge by playing the hard-ass and not only refusing to let Bogdan keep the first dollar he ever earned from the car wash but, indeed, spitefully using it to buy a coke. That sucked…yet it was kind of awesome, too.

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Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to September

September is typically a pretty laidback month for movies. After being bombarded with big budget tentpole films over the summer, it’s the calm before the storm that is awards season. But this year, Hollywood is kicking off the fall movie season in style with big names like Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt all starring in films that could make an appearance at the Oscars next year. Throw in a couple of cool genre flicks and you’re looking at one of the most promising Septembers in recent memory.

“A GOOD OLD FASHIONED ORGY”

Who: Jason Sudeikis, Leslie Bibb, Tyler Labine, Lake Bell and Nick Kroll
What: A group of 30-year-olds who have been friends since high school attempt to throw an end-of-summer orgy.
When: September 2nd (limited)
Why: Though I’m still not convinced that Jason Sudeikis is the star that Hollywood seems to think he is, this raunchy sex comedy could finally be the film that changes my mind. It doesn’t hurt that he’s surrounded by such a funny ensemble cast, including actors like Tyler Labine and Lake Bell, who are always good for a laugh The real test, however, will be whether the film has the balls to go all the way or if it will chicken out at the last minute, because you shouldn’t joke around about an orgy unless you mean it.

“CONTAGION”

Who: Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Laurence Fishburne
What: An action-thriller centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease and an international team of doctors contracted by the CDC to deal with the outbreak.
When: September 9th
Why: When Steven Soderbergh puts together a cast this good, it’s hard not to stand up and take notice. But even with four Oscar winners, three nominees, and a three-time Emmy winner at his disposal, the real star of “Contagion” may end up being the story itself, which has the potential to scare the living shit out of audiences in ways that most horror films could only dream of. How Soderbergh manages to tap into our inherent fear of disease will be key to its success, but if the movie is anywhere near as good as 1995’s “Outbreak” (which also had an amazing cast), we’re in for a pleasant surprise.

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Infiniti Etherea Concept at Pebble Beach Concours

I’ve seen tons of beautiful cars, old and new, this weekend at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It’s an amazing celebration of the automobile, and this morning we found ourselves on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach as Infiniti introduced its Etherea Concept for the first time in North America. It was a little cloudy and chilly as you can see from the photos, but the view was spectacular. Tomorrow morning we’ll be back for the Concours as some amazing classic automobiles will be on display on the same spot.

The Etherea Concept is very impressive and is worthy of such a prestigious location for its introduction. I love the lines on this car, and the suicide doors punctuate the bold design. It’s clear from this vehicle and the JX Concept introduced yesterday that Infiniti will continue to be aggressive in its styling. The Etherea is an “exploration” of a future model so it will be interesting to see the final product, but they’re definitely headed in the right direction.

You can learn more about the Etherea Concept and the JX Concept at the Infiniti Facebook page.

  

Woodward Dream Cruise: Day 3

These past two days, we’ve looked into Chevy and the Chevy small block’s past and present, and between these time periods and products is a singular emotion. What joins the creation of the small block, the history of General Motors, and events like the Woodward Dream cruise is passion.

Passion is not merely performance numbers, fuel economy, or just design alone. It’s the melding of the three parts by groups of people to create great products that they are proud of. On top of that, it then appears with the customer and how they interact and love the product. You can’t engineer or design a passionate car on purpose, just like you can’t create a perfect spouse. It’s all about the process. A car that elicits response from owners and passerbys is one that was created with a genuine care for the result. It is the result of this continual effort that creates the story of these cars and makes them more than just pieces of metal.

You see this passion in the creation process when you visit GM’s Heritage Center. Surrounded by the significant cars of the past, you see the thoughts and dreams of car designers that ended up in the final process. From a design and engineering standpoint, you can feel what their creators and teams were thinking when they created these pieces. You see a visionary mindset that is not stuck in the past, but it always pushing through to the future.

These designers and engineers were not only looking for performance, but also at fuel economy and evocative design as well. For instance, the 1953 Firebird concept used turbines in an attempt to get both performance and fuel economy. Plus, it was stylized like a jet. It was not a dowdy economical box to suffer in while you squeezed out every drop of gas. Fuel economy, to the designers and engineers, was just another boundary to push the envelope like performance, and it was another tool to capture the buyer’s attention.

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