The Cheese Fry Hot 7 (Manhattan D.A.'s office version)

1. Serena Southerlyn
2. Kim Greylek
3. Connie Rubirosa
4. Abbie Carmichael
5. Casey Novak
6. Claire Kincaid
7. Alexandra Borgia

The Cheese Fry Endorses...

Esquire magazine recently devoted an issue to endorsements, offering its stamp of approval on select people, places, and things to help its readers make more informed decisions.

Now it's the Cheese Fry's turn.

We proudly offer our endorsement to...

* Newcastle Pale Ale
* green left turn arrows
* Cambria, California
* Wired magazine
* avocados
* CBS' Monday night comedies "How I Met Your Mother" and "The Big Bang Theory"
* Sugarland
* Sirius Satellite Radio
* Galveston, Texas
* the Arclight Hollywood theater
* the end of the George W. Bush presidency
* The Onion
* Chili's "Bottomless Chips and Salsa"
* Amy Poehler
* Dazed and Confused (the movie, not the song)
* Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher
* Tivo
* "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"
* Ikea
* The Stand by Stephen King
* Barack Obama
* Apple
* the slant pass
* Jack and Coke
* Madonna's "Into the Groove"
* Han Solo
* central air conditioning
* Wikipedia

Knee-jerk review: "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist"

1. It's really more cute and sweet that laugh-out-loud funny.
2. You've already seen the funniest bit in the movie: "It's not a cab, my friend. I promise you."
3. The chewing gum bit is disgusting, but funny. Especially the toilet part.
4. Michael Cera's soft-spoken stammering persona may get old eventually, but not yet. The guy is gold.
5. Although no way do we buy him as a bass guitar player. Sorry, dude.
6. Do New York City high schoolers really walk around Manhattan all night like this?
7. The Cheese Fry has always been unimpressed by the whole underground indie music scene, especially that air of smug superiority you see in those who love to follow no-name bands no one's heard of. The kind of person who, once a band gets big, suddenly brands that band an uncool sell-out. Do you like the band or do you like impressing people by saying you like the band?
8. Does anyone really still make mix CDs?
9. Another reviewer made a good point: how could Michael Cera's vanilla shlub ever have developed a relationship with Alexis Dziena's trendy bitch? The answer: he couldn't.
10. The Supercuts joke is a good one.
11. It's trying hard to be a cool, hip teen romance. May be trying too hard.
12. It's fun and breezy, yes, but also fairly forgettable.


Knee-jerk review: "W."

1. Well made, of course. But what was the point exactly? Why make it?
2. There's a number of interesting moments in W's early years, especially the turbulent relationship with his father and the tension surrounding George H.W.'s favoring of W's brother Jeb. That all works fairly well. It's practically Shakespearean.
3. But the movie also spends a good chunk of time dramatizing events of W's presidency in the run-up to the Iraq war. We all know how that turned out. We also know how wrong W and his merry band of cabinet members turned out to be on Iraq. Those scenes can't shake a lazy "been there, done that" vibe.
4. Josh Brolin is uncanny in his portrayal of W. It's not an impression, but it's very close. He's far better than the material he's been given. In many ways, Brolin's W seems more human and charming than the real W.
5. The one person who comes out looking awful is Condoleeza Rice. The way Thandie Newton plays her, Rice seems like a empty-headed piece of furniture, eagerly nodding and cooing her assent whenever needed.
6. Bruce McGill is always fun to watch, huh?
7. Can Dick Cheney really be this transparently reptilian? One can't help but wonder if things might have been different if Cheney didn't have the ear of W.
8. Conversely, could Colin Powell really have been this wise and prescient on the problems with invading Iraq? Hopelessly trying to be a voice of reason in a room full of short-sighted fools, all he needs is a halo.
9. Oliver Stone could have probably done a much better job if he'd just waited until 2010 to make this movie. Distance would have likely added more definition to the characters and events. Everything feels half-baked here. It's too immediate, too close.
10. And of course, there is no ending. Real life isn't so neat and tidy. The movie doesn't know when (or how) to stop. Might have been better to just end with W's 2001 inauguration. We all know the rest of the story (see #3 above).
11. It's the more poetic, more cinematic moments that pop, like Bush leading his cabinet on a hike in Crawford and getting them all lost. Or an aide offering his resignation for being so wrong on WMDs in Irag while surrounded by equally guilty cabinet members who refuse to join him.
12. More a novelty than anything.

Mayday, mayday. This team is going down.

The Dallas Cowboys, a Superbowl favorite as of late August, will now be lucky to drag themselves across the finish line with a playboff berth.

People, this is what they call a Texas-sized train wreck.

A cohesive, selfless team maybe could perhaps stand losing its quarterback for a month, suffering the embarrassment of off-field fistfights and indefinite player suspensions, grappling with a Swiss-cheese secondary lacking veterans, squinting in the glare of HBO cameras, or the dubious high-profile signing of another boderline malcontent receiver.

But this is not such a team.

The Dallas Cowboys have lost all of their swagger and confidence. They play with sloppy inefficiency and an abject lack of discipline. Turnovers, penalties, false starts, blown coverage, sideline tantrums, and - worst of all - denial that they're mediocre at best. Someone forgot to tell these guys that you have to actually win games to make it into the Superbowl. Showing up isn't enough to earn a W. The teams you're playing? They want to beat you. That means you have to kind of, like, try to beat them.

There's blame to go around, but the Cheese Fry would like to single out head coach Wade Phillips. When he was hired two years ago, anyone who knew anything about the Cowboys' awful history with nice-guy coaches should have seen this coming. Phillips is not a disciplinarian. He's one of those stupid-ass "player's coaches." Players need iron leadership, not soft-focus grinning companionship. This guy doesn't even wear a headset on the sidelines and by now he seems incapable of getting the Cowboys ready to play on Sundays. Whatever he's been doing, one wonder if maybe they should doing the exact opposite. The last time the Cowboys had this kind of coach was a horrific streak of three 5-11 seasons under the guidance of grandfatherly teddy bear by the name of Dave Campo.

The Cowboys have now lost 3 of their last 4 games. You'd think with each loss that they'd have some kind of epiphany, that these embarrassing defeats would serve as a textbook "wake up call" to get it together. So far that hasn't happened.

We're not sure it will.

May 8, 2009

The Cheese Fry is so there.

Previously, we discussed the best episodes of "Next Generation" and memorable dialogue from The Wrath of Khan.


"I need a CBC and chem-7, stat!"

It's been a long 14 years since NBC premiered a gritty little hospital drama called ER in September of 1994. Over three hundred episodes later, it's difficult to remember what couch potato life was like before the show became a Thursday night staple. While a smash success in its time, winning Emmys and big Neilsen numbers alike, the show has not aged well. Mercifully the proverbial plug will be pulled next spring amid much fanfare from the NBC promo people.

If you've caught ER in the last few seasons you'll see that it's very much stuck in the 1990s. You haven't missed much.

It's not the show's fault. There are only so many stories you can tell in Cook County General's emergency room (especially when you're juggling at least four subplots in every episode for 15 seasons) and this show has told them all.

Several times.

* Co-workers sleeping together and then breaking up, then getting back together.

* Doctors under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, which leads to Difficult Questions for coworkers regarding whether or not to blow the whistle.

* Ugly bureaucratic politics as unpopular doctors get promoted while the truly skilled doctors get the finger.

* Movie stars making a guest appearance to play a patient dying of a terminal illness. The hope for an Emmy nomination is painfully obvious.

* A very dire situation involving a lack of resources, whether it's beds, blood, or staff.

* Shootouts, explosions, virus outbreaks... in the hospital lobby where no security guard has ever proved useful.

* Train crashes, plane crashes, car crashes, all of them bringing in mass casualties and the frantic shout "We have to shut the ER down to triage!"

* Extreme weather that Makes Things Even Worse, from blizzards to heavy rains to heat waves.

* Messy domestic situations for the main characters, particularly those involving dying, crazy, addicted, or pushy parents. Immature siblings and bratty children also count.

* The tragic, unexpected (and ideally quite gory) death of a major character, typically in sweeps weeks. This is an emergency that has surely been marked with a gypsy curse.

* The miraculous recovery of a hopeless cause, reminding us that You Have to Have Faith...

* ...and the sudden demise of a seemingly simple case, reminding us that You Just Never Know.

* Patients in adjoining rooms that Share a Dramatic Connection (rival gangbagers, drunk drivers and victims, parent and child, husband and wife). Hopefully, one is worse off than the other so the one who's still conscious can look over through the glass doors and see the frantic, hopeless work being done on the other.

* Difficult personal choices involving mutually exclusive dichotomies (work-vs.-personal-life, following-hospital-rules vs. saving-the-patient).

* Dangerous procedures that have to be performed immediately (there's no time to get the patient to the OR) by a doctor who's Never Done This Before.

* An underage girl who's pregnant and can't tell her parents, the boyfriend, or both.

* The administering of a central line. Or the bungled administering of a central line.

* A strange object impaled somewhere strange.

* The arrival of a new doctor, who immediately rubs everyone the wrong way because of his/her A) incompetence or B) arrogance. Even better, this new doctor will be someone's new boss, thus adding to the friction.

It all sounds so familiar, huh?

Even the more shocking elements of the past have been recycled recently out of necessity. The 2002 twist in which Dr. Romano lost one arm in a freak accident thus becomes the 2007 "twist" in which poor Dr. Barnett's loses both legs. (I see your arm and raise you two legs.)

It's impossible to pick the best episodes, not out of a list of 300. But we can think back and remember the more memorable episodes, those that still stick out.

"Love's Labor Lost" (1995) - The one where Mark really screws up a baby delivery and the mother's dies. Still the best episode of the series.

"Hell and High Water" (1995) - The one where Dr. Ross finds some redemption for his self-destructive ways by saving a kid who's drowning in a culvert pipe during a flash flood.

"The Healers" (1996) - The one where Shep's paramedic partner suffers fatal burns.

"Ambush" (1997) - The gimmicky one that was shown live and had Dr. Ross watching a baseball game on TV in real time.

"Fathers and Sons" (1997) - The one where Mark Greene and Doug Ross go on a road trip together and deal with their strained relationships with their fathers.

"Night Shift" (1997) - The one where Dr. Gant dies and the only way they know he's dead is that they page him for help and the beeper sounds on the mangled patient on their gurney.

"All in the Family" (2000) - The one where perky little Lucy Knight dies on the operating table of her stab wounds moments after Dr. Romano actually shows some real emotion and promises her she'll be fine.

"Such Sweet Sorrow" (2000) - The one where Carol reunites with Doug and viewers get to see a special surprise return by George Clooney in the last shot.

"Damage is Done" (2002) - The one where Abby tries to help a battered neighbor and gets herself beat up by the abusive husband... which leads Luca to beat the hell out of him in a pool hall.

"On the Beach" (2002) - The one where Mark Greene dies of a brain tumor while sleeping in a bed in Hawaii.

Notice that none of these moments occurred after 2002. The death of Mark Greene is without a doubt ER's jump-the-shark moment. It's been all downhill from there. Just look at the character of Dr. Morris, the kind of goofy knucklehead that Ross and Benton would have taken out back and beat to hell had he dared to show his face in 1999.

That's not say the show was perfect pre-2002. With so big and sweeping a show, there were always imperfections. Case in point is the irritating surly character of Dr. Benton, who never met a patient or fellow doctor he didn't loathe. Special mention goes to the interminably tedious storyline involving his dying mother and his romance with nurse Jeanie Boulet.

And so the Cheese Fry bids a fond goodbye to ER. When it was good, it was great.

Now if you'll excuse us, we have a CT and C-spine to order.