We’ve been fans of the beautiful Joy Bryant since she appeared in “Antwone Fisher” and we’ve enjoyed watching her have a successful career in Hollywood. Now she’s taking on a new project with “Across the Board,” a new web video series produced by Reserve Channel, an original YouTube channel. It’s an action talk show hosted by Joy where she dives deep into conversation with celebrity guests while they board around. In the episode featured below, Joy invites her “Parenthood” co-star, Erika Christensen, for a day of paddle boarding and girl talk. The duo discuss Christensen’s beginnings as a child actor, her role as a teenage drug addict in “Traffic,” being a curvy woman in a pencil-thin business, and her faith as a Scientologist.
We were sold on this as soon as we saw the two of them in bikinis, but the interview is excellent as well. We think Joy is onto something here. Check it out and look for new episodes as well.
It is time once again to return to the twisted, hilarious and wildly original world of Brad Neely‘s “China Illinois,” home of the Professor Brothers and Baby Cakes. This time, let’s take a look at the four-part miniseries named after the fictional town, which brings the characters from those other two series together for one continuous storyline, a first for Neely which in turn spawned a full-length, actually animated series on Adult Swim.
“China Illinois” begins with gentle giant Mark “Baby” Cakes in his usual mode, telling stories to his diary in his customarily idiosyncratic way. “Dear diary,” he says, “today me and Dad tried to clean our insides out, with plant hairs, tree ejaculates, and leafy-weafs.” “Tree ejaculates” are, of course, Baby Cakes’ unique way of saying “fruit,” just one of many phrases this character has coined that should obviously become part of the standard English lexicon immediately, for the sake of a more interesting future. When the unsatisfying meal is done, Baby Cakes comes upon “a lonely little pursey, with a pink diary hanging out,” completely failing to notice the bloody car accident adjacent to the lost purse.
The plot thickens when it is revealed that the owner of the purse was a professor at the local community college Baby Cakes attends, and that she was in an unhappy relationship with the self-absorbed Professor Frank, who romantically proclaimed to her, “You’ll never want to be anything more than the thing I am in.” Like his forbidden romance with his Dad’s girlfriend in “Baby Cakes Diary #4,” Baby Cakes becomes furious with Frank’s poor treatment of his newfound beloved, only to ultimately reconcile his feelings in a typically strange way by the end of the series.
Both Baby Cakes and Professor Frank are prone to expressing themselves through song, which, along with Baby Cakes’ poetic wordplay, brings an odd poignancy to an otherwise silly and very funny series. It’s surprising that an animatic cartoon that refers to Helen Keller as “history’s most famous little caca-faced animal kid” can strike deeper chords about the meaning of life, but that is a special ability Neely shares with fellow crude animation genius Don Hertzfeldt, and it is what makes “China Illinois” such an enduring creation.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced the release of several exciting new products today, including new desktops and notebooks for both professionals and consumers. Continuing in the direction in which the company has been going, these new models are sleek, stylish and equipped with many advanced features, such as Beats Audio, HP TrueVision webcams and a choice of Intel or AMD processors. Let’s take a look at some of the innovations HP has in store for the near future, beginning as soon as late October.
The HP Spectre is a very nice looking ultra-thin all-in-one desktop with a 23-inch flush glass display, 3rd Generation Intel processors and an optional solid-state drive. Perhaps most impressive of all, it features near field communication (NFC) technology that allows easy wireless sharing of photos, contacts, websites and more, all with a simple tap of the touch-sensitive screen. In fact, the Spectre can be used in conjunction with a user’s smartphone or tablet, which then becomes like a remote control for the computer’s operation. The Spectre is expected to be available in the United States on November 14, at a starting price of $1,299. The HP ENVY 20 and ENVY 23 TouchSmart PCs and the HP Pavilion 20 All-in-One PC also feature this technology, and will be available in the United States on October 23, at even lower starting prices. These devices are all a step up from traditional non-mobile units in that they provide connectivity with mobile devices the consumer may already have.
Some of the most impressive new devices announced by HP today are its notebooks, the HP ENVY m4 Notebook, and the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 14 and 15 PCs. The latter are especially nice-looking, in sparkling black or ruby red finishes, with super-slim, lightweight design. They each weigh under four pounds and measure only 21 mm thick, and at a starting price of under $500, they offer many of the same features as most $1,000+ models.
The HP ENVY m4 Notebook, on the other hand, features faster renders and more powerful graphics than the Sleekbook series, as well as a few very innovative HP exclusive features. CoolSense is a new development from HP that keeps the exterior of the notebook cool during extended use, and SimplePass is an extraordinary new security technology that uses fingerprint identification instead of typed passwords. In fact, each of a user’s fingers can be programmed to a different website, if the user so desires. For example, your index finger could bring up Facebook, while your middle finger accesses YouTube, etc. With these and other cutting-edge devices, it is easy to see why HP remains on top of the game for both professional and consumer electronics.
Taking modern technological paranoia to its logical next step, the Bryan Singer-produced digital series “H+” takes an interesting, non-linear approach to its apocalyptic future storytelling. Created by John Cabrera, best known for his work as an actor on the popular television series “Gilmore Girls,” the series takes place in a near future in which 33 per cent of the world’s population has opted to have a device implanted into their bodies that connects their minds to the internet 24 hours a day. When a mysterious virus crashes the system, large portions of the world dies instantly, and the series primarily follows a few desperate survivors in an airport parking garage, while simultaneously cutting back and forth in time to various points before and after “it happened.”
“H+” is designed to be watched in any order, as each episode takes place in a different time and space, allowing viewers to stick with the mainstoryline in the parking garage first if they choose. This storyline begins with Julie Martin (Nikki Crawford) and her husband driving to the airport “5 minutes before it happened.” As they are making their way out of the parking lot, all hell breaks loose as the system crashes and people begin dropping like flies, cars and planes crash, and the automated sprinkler system goes off all over the garage. Only Kenneth Lubahn (David Clayton Rogers) seems to know what’s going on, telling the others they should be safe so long as they remain on the lower level of the garage where the signal is out. Med student Francesca Rossi (Lela Loren) works with him to save Julie’s husband, who has also fallen victim to the virus despite being in the same underground area as the rest of the survivors.
Meanwhile, the series flashesback to Helsinki, Finland, “7 years before it happened,” where Digital Crime Unit officer Topi Kuusela (Samuel Vauramo) begins to fall for Manta (Hannah Herzsprung), a mysterious target he has been assigned to follow. It is unclear so far what exactly her connection is to H+ Nano Teoranta, the company that manufactures the implants, but with an estimated 48-episode run, it is clearly just getting started. The first 14 episodes are available now on YouTube, with new ones premiering on Wednesdays. It’s hard to tell so far if “H+” will live up to the promise of its premise, but its high production values, mysterious time-jumping narrative style and intriguing, multinationalsubplots make it seem well worth watching to find out.
Few things are more ripe for satire than reality television, especially of the competitive variety seen on shows like “Survivor” and “The Bachelor,” and The Onion has boiled the format down to its essence with the web series “Sex House.” Combining the strangers living together format of MTV’s “The Real World,” on which all subsequent reality TV shows can be blamed, with the competitive dating games of so many other trash TV staples, “Sex House” skewers the artificiality and coercion involved in creating so-called “reality” programming.
The series focuses on six strangers brought together in the seemingly posh house for the sole purpose of having sex with one another. Each of them is a conveniently pegged type: Jay (Boyd Harris) is described as a “bro,” a “trim-seeker” and a “sex lover,” and his personality would not be out of place on “Jersey Shore”; Jay’s obvious female counterpart, Tara (Ashley Lobo), is a “sorority princess,” “proud skank” and “maneater”; Erin (Fiona Robert), an 18-year-old virgin, is “naive,” “clueless” “jailbait,” while Alex (Lea Pascal) is an “alt-punk” “polysexual princess”; Derek (Chris Boykin) is the show’s only gay guy, so he is described as a “sexually promiscuous” “flamboyant fireball,” but the show’s real wild card is Frank (Jesse Dabson), a 45-year-old “big daddy” who won a Tombstone pizza contest to get on the show.
The first few episodes progress as might be expected, with the desperate Alex trying to have sex with anyone and everyone, while Jay admits that “Tara’s pretty slutty, I get it,” though he is more interested in deflowering Erin, who is “totally smokin’. I’m like, ‘I’m tryin’ to have sex with that!’” The gang plays a disastrous game of “Sexy Truth or Sexy Dare” and receives pole dancing instructions in the third episode, “Get on That Pole!” Meanwhile, the males are given some “bro lessons” by Danny Vullmer (Chris Meister), a hacky comedian who makes dated references to Urkel, En Vogue and Roseanne Barr. Things get more and more disturbing after that, as “Erin Bares It All” in the fourth episode with a shocking announcement that changes everything, and the show’s participants begin to revolt against its creators, including the “asexual” and very creepy host (Chris Agos).
In its most recent episodes, “Sex House” has gradually become more like a horror film, which only makes it funnier, beginning with the disgusting “Banana Sex Olympics” in episode 5 and continuing with “Dr. Sex” in episode 6. By the most recent episode, “Sex in a Bottle,” things are looking decidedly grim for the malnourished prisoners of Sex House, and the preview for episode 8 (which goes live today) makes it clear that it’s only going to get worse. New episodes go live every Thursday on The Onion’s YouTube channel.