Nirv Center

I hope you’ll forgive me as I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus with this little gem of a blog. The holidays, combined with building a new house, and resurrecting my opera career (yes, I’m a classical/opera singer) has left me less than motivated to keep the NIRV up and operating.

Also, in speaking with occasional NIRV contributor and Aiepathy for Technology blogger Wolfman, I’ve thought that perhaps my focus has been too broad. Covering all of entertainment is a daunting task for one guy, especially when I’m not particularly interested in ALL aspects of entertainment. Nor are you, I should think.

So, the idea here will be to focus. Dwindle the topics down to those I am truly interested, in the hopes of attracting readers and commenters of similar stripe. Simply put, entertainment geeks.

So, I’m gonna attempt to be your one-stop blog for the following subject areas and topics:

Movies: Sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero films
TV: “Lost”, “Battlestar Galactica”, and “Heroes”
Games: XBOX 360 news and reviews
Books: Sci-fi/fantasy genre

Along the way, I hope to add to this list (depending upon your interests), as well as occasionally talk about my personal life down here in sunny Houston.

I welcome and cherish each and every hit and comment I get here at E-NIRV. I think it has the potential to be a little something special, a filled niche for the genre lover in all of you.

Thanks for listening!

— RebRob, Editor-in-Chief


Today begins a new Friday feature on E-Nirv…the E-Top. Each Friday we’ll check out a different realm of our entertainment sphere and attach some meaningless numbers to them. Frankly, the fun part of rating things is always the discussion it drums up.

You’ve probably done these before, but lists change over the years. I know mine has. It’s more of a snapshot of where you are today. I won’t be knocking on your door five years from now asking if The Matrix is still your #1 sci-fi film. Not to worry.

So, to get things rolling, here are my top 10 Comedy Films (I fear I’ll be leaving something out, but oh well), complete with best line from each:

10. Wedding Crashers – Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson turn romantic comedies on their ear with this look at how truly pathetic we guys can be. While these guys are hysterical in every way, some of the biggest laughs come from Isla Fisher, who plays Vaughn’s psychotic nymphomaniac girlfriend.

Best line(s):
[Kathleen Cleary walks into John’s bedroom, unbuttons her blouse, and shows John her boobs]
Kathleen Cleary: I just had my t**s done. You like ’em?
John Beckwith: [shocked] Those… seem like lovely t**s.
Kathleen Cleary: William doesn’t give a s*** about them.
John Beckwith: Darn him. But Mrs. Cleary, this is very sudden…
Kathleen Cleary: Oh, you been playing “Cat & Mouse” with me ever since you came here.
John Beckwith: Mrs. Cleary, I don’t…
Kathleen Cleary: Call me Kat.
John Beckwith: Okay, Kat.
Kathleen Cleary: Call me “Kitty Kat.”
John Beckwith: Okay, Kitty Kat. This feels…”borderline” inappropriate.

9. Back to the Future (1985) – This movie redefined comedies in the 1980s. Until that point, American comedies of the 80s were mostly lame bachelor party-esque-show-women’s breasts snoozefests. Robert Zemekckis’ 1985 mega-hit was not only smartly written, it had Americana written all over it. Combining sci-fi with 1950s nostalgia, Spielberg directed Michael J. Fox to one of the best comedies ever.

Best Line:
Dr. Emmett Brown: Don’t worry. As long as you hit that wire with the connecting hook at precisely 88mph the instant the lightning strikes the tower… everything will be fine.

8. Finding Nemo (2003) – This is the first but not the last Pixar film you’ll see on this list (there are, in fact, three). Pixar’s genius is combining a simple story, drop dead amazing computer animation, a sense of humor that coalesces with the story and develops the characters, and best of all, a moral that doesn’t shove itself in your face but is no less meaningful. Ellen Degeneres and Albert Brooks make a wonderfully unlikely comic pair in a story about protecting kids while allowing them to experience life.

Best Line(s):
Marlin: [Dory and Marlin are in pitch darkness looking for the mask] Dory, do you see anything?
Dory: Ahh! Something’s got me!
Marlin: That’s just me. I’m sorry.
Dory: Who’s that?
Marlin: [exasperated] Who’s that? Who else would it be? It’s me!
Dory: Are… are you my conscience?
Marlin: [sighs] Yes, I’m your conscience. We haven’t spoken for a while. How are you?
Dory: Eh, can’t complain.
Marlin: Good. Now, Dory, do you see anything?
Dory: [angler fish’s light approaches] Yes, I see… a light. Hey, conscience, am I dead?
Marlin: No, I see it too.
[they swim up to the light]
Dory: It’s so *pretty*.
Marlin: [mesmerized] I’m feeling… happy, and that’s a big deal… for me.
Dory: I want to touch it…
[she does; the light bobs quickly away]
Dory: Oh!
Marlin: Hey, come back. Come on back here. I’m gonna get you.
Dory: Come here.
Marlin: [singing] I’m gonna swim with you…
Dory: I’m gonna get you. I’m gonna get you.
Marlin: [singing] I’m gonna be your best friend…
[a big scary fish looms into view]
Marlin: Good feelings gone.
Marlin, Dory: AHH.

7. Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983). Classic bits about the progression of life from birth to death. Brilliantly written lunacy, often set to music, somehow the Brits can crystallize philosophy into a few minutes making it poignant and hysterical at the same time. Best parts – “Every Sperm is Sacred”, Man in Pink’s “Whenever life gets you down, Mrs. Brown”, and of course the classic “Building Pirates” movie before the film actually even starts.

Best line(s):
[Large corporate boardroom filled with suited executives]
Exec #1: Item six on the agenda: “The Meaning of Life” Now uh, Harry, you’ve had some thoughts on this.
Exec #2: Yeah, I’ve had a team working on this over the past few weeks, and what we’ve come up with can be reduced to two fundamental concepts. One: People aren’t wearing enough hats. Two: Matter is energy. In the universe there are many energy fields which we cannot normally perceive. Some energies have a spiritual source which act upon a person’s soul. However, this “soul” does not exist ab initio as orthodox Christianity teaches; it has to be brought into existence by a process of guided self-observation. However, this is rarely achieved owing to man’s unique ability to be distracted from spiritual matters by everyday trivia.
Exec #3: What was that about hats again?
Exec #2: Oh, Uh… people aren’t wearing enough.
Exec #1: Is this true?
Exec #4: Certainly. Hat sales have increased but not pari passu, as our research…
Exec #3: [Interrupting] “Not wearing enough”? enough for what purpose?
Exec #5: Can I just ask, with reference to your second point, when you say souls don’t develop because people become distracted…
[looking out window]
Exec #5: Has anyone noticed that building there before?

6. Toy Story 2 (1999) – Second Pixar film on the list and the only sequel. In many ways, TS2 is a better film than the first. The second volume has Woody once again separated from his owner Andy and the rest of his fellow toys, this time falling into the hands of an evil toy collector, bent on selling the cowboy doll to a Japanese businessman. Buzz Lightyear leads the charge to rescue Woody, who at times thinks he might just be better off going it on his own. What makes Pixar films so great is that they are watchable over and over again by both adults and kids.

Best Line(s):
Woody: Here is the list of things to do while I’m away. Batteries need to be replaced. Toys in the bottom of the chest need to be rotated. Oh, and make sure everyone attends Mr. Spell’s seminar on what to do if part of you is swallowed. Okay? Okay, good, okay.

5. Toy Story (1995) – The original feature film by the folks at Pixar ranks a shade above its sequel because its the first of its genre, a genre that has gone on to earn a few billion dollars, basically allowing Pixar Studios, once a division of Disney, to basically turn the tables and call the shots at the Big Mouse Ears. Tim Allen and Tom Hanks lend their perfectly cast voices to this film about what happens to toys when their owners are not around. Again, Pixar masterfully mixes in a little lesson as it shows us the difference between confronting the reality of just who we are with being complacent about it.

Best Line(s):
Woody: Tuesday night’s plastic corrosion awareness meeting, was, I think, a big success. We’d like to thank Mr. Spell for putting that on for us, thank you Mr. Spell…
Mr. Spell: [mechanically] You’re. Welcome.

4. The 40-Year Old Virgin – If you saw this trailer a few years back, like I did, you might have thought…ug. Here comes another sex comedy with a few laughs and little plot. Boy was I wrong. 40 is a master’s thesis on how to write hysterical comedy for people who have a brain as well. Steve Carell (in his first of two appearances on this list) stars as Andy, a 40-year old…well, virgin. He works at an electronics store and is a comic-book afficionado, collecting thousands of dollars worth of geek products. When his friends first discover that Andy has not experienced intimacy, they immediately make it their goal in life to get him over that hump, so to speak.

And here we come to the proverbial fork in the road. Do the writers take the traditional road? Make fun of Andy’s virginity for 90 minutes, escorting him from one meaningless tryst to another while making genital jokes? Or do they take the road less taken?

The answer is B. Thankfully.

They trick us into it, though. They start poking a bit of fun and setting him up, but then they turn it on its ear. They show us why Andy is the way he is, why he’s made the decisions or indecisions he’s chosen. All of this gives this film a tremendous amount of heart. While you’re occasionally laughing at Andy, you’re also feeling for him. What he really wants is what we all want deep down, to be close to someone. Sex for him is never the means or the end, it’s part of true love. I know this is beyond sappy right now. Rest assured there are genital and sex jokes aplenty. The movie gets downright raunchy at times. Truly, the best part of the film is that it combines both sides seamlessly.

Best Line(s):
David: Dude, you look like a man-o-lantern.

3. Little Miss Sunshine – This movie hit me out of nowhere. I’d heard a few people mentioning it at work. A little “art house” film, they called it. What I found when I watched it was the best comedy film of the last 30 years, in my humble opinion. It’s the story of a dysfuntional family on a road trip to a beauty pageant. Greg Kinnear plays Richard, a motivational speaker with a self-help plan he’s trying to sell but no one wants. Toni Collette is Sheryl, Richard’s beleaguered, at her wit’s end while trying to please everyone wife. Alan Arkin plays Grandpa, a raunchy “dance” coach not afraid to shoot up a bit of heroine. Steve Carell is Frank, Sheryl’s gay brother who has just survived a suicide attempt. Add into the mix Paul Dano as Dwayne, Richard and Sheryl’s teenage son, filled with adolescent angst to the point of taking a vow of silence. Finally, there’s Olive (Abigail Breslin), the young daughter who dreams of being a beauty queen.

Circumstances force the entire family to make the trip to the pageant together in a run-down VW van that has a little problem getting started.

I won’t say any more except to say it had both the most sidesplitting humor (the last 10 minutes) and tearjerking moments I’ve seen on film in a long time. I cannot recommend this film enough.

Best Line(s):
Olive: I’d like to dedicate this to my grandpa, who showed me these moves.
Pageant MC: Aww, that is so sweet.
[Audience applauds]
Pageant MC: Is he here? Where’s your grandpa right now?
Olive: In the trunk of our car.

2. The Music Box (1932) – Many of you, I’m sure have not heard of this movie, though you’ve probably seen it.

I have a soft spot for Laurel and Hardy. I’ve got fond memories of watching old Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello movies every Sunday morning growing up. This film is simply the best of them all. Stan and Ollie play….Stan and Ollie, two down-on-their luck entrepreneurs who decide to open a delivery service. Their first job? Deliver a music box (player piano) to a house at the top of a huge hill. That’s all that need be said about the plot, and it’s what makes L&H sheer delight for me. I can absorb myself into one of their films and be transported, what I think truly good movies can do for all of us. It’s a quick film, only 30 minutes, but well worth your time. If you’re interested, you can usually pick it up for 5 bucks at a Best Buy-type store.

Best Line(s):
Nursemaid: And not only that, he kicked me.
Policeman: He kicked you?
Nursemaid: Yes, officer, right in the middle of my daily duty.

1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) – This is a no-brainer. No other movie (with the possible exception of The Godfather) has as many quotable lines. It’s Python at their best. It’s the ultimate movie to put on at a party, even though most people seem to lose interest as it goes on…which is exactly what the Pythoners seem to do themselves. Wanna really have a good time? Play the Holy Grail drinking game. You can find it by clicking here.

Best Line(s):
I know, I know…everyone quotes “It’s just a flesh wound”, but here’s MY favorite:

King Arthur: I am your king.
Woman: Well I didn’t vote for you.
King Arthur: You don’t vote for kings.
Woman: Well how’d you become king then?
[Angelic music plays… ]
King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.
Dennis: [interrupting] Listen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

Dennis: Look, you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.

Dennis: Oh but if I went ’round sayin’ I was Emperor, just because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me, they’d put me away.

King: Will you shut up! I say, shut up! (grabs peasant)

Dennis: Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! I’m being repressed!
King Arthur: Bloody peasant!
Dennis: Oh, what a giveaway! Did you hear that? Did you hear that, eh? That’s what I’m on about! Did you see him repressing me? You saw him, Didn’t you?

I apologize for my recent absence here at E-Nirv. Growing blogs isn’t easy, and I’d be lying if I said I’d been putting forth my best effort of late. I hope to change that in the coming days.

Still, I’d like to share a bit of news with you about my personal life. Last week, my father died from an extremely short bout with cancer. The entire process of him initially checking into the hospital complaining of nausea and weakness, to the eventual diagnosis, to his death was less than one month.

When something this monumentally devastating happens to you, there certainly is a lot of sadness to go around. But with that sadness came moments of levity, love, and most of all, peace.

Below I’ve pasted an e-mail that I’d sent to friends and family several hours before he died. I hope you will get something from it and pass it on….

“I want to first apologize for any rambling I may do in this e-mail. I’ll try to keep this short, but people usually say that just before they launch into a Tolstoy-esque correspondence. I’m writing mainly because I feel a need to say something to the family and friends who I have had the fortune of being part of my life. If you feel like moving on to the next e-mail, undoubtedly some spam about earning $250,000 a week, I’ll understand.

To put it succinctly, I’m here with my family in my home town area of Rochester, New York. I’d like to say that the first family reunion we’ve all had in about 3 years is a happy occasion. Sadly, it isn’t. My father is dying of cancer. He is on hospice care at the hospital and could go at any time. He is being heavily medicated and closely watched, so he isn’t in pain anymore.

This all happened very quickly. While on vacation in Hawaii, my wife Nicole and I phoned my parents to see how they were doing. My mother let us know that my father had gone into the hospital complaining of weakness and nausea. He soon went home after a couple of days, and we thought a visit to the doctor and a change in medication were all that were required.

Upon our return home (literally 45 minutes after we sat down), Nicole and I received a call from Mom saying that Dad was back in the hospital with the same symptoms, yet much more severe. We drove up from New Jersey that night.

The following couple of weeks were as difficult as any I’ve experienced. We discovered that my father’s liver was covered with spots and full of cancer. There were many ups and downs, which for brevity’s sake I’ll leave out, but we were soon given the final diagnosis, my father would pass in less than four weeks.

He took the news hard, as we all did. Feelings of anger co-mingled with guilt, sorrow, anguish, and grief. From the initial call to my Mom on May 25, here we sit on June 22; and I have no reason to think that he will be alive tomorrow.

It hasn’t been all sorrow. We’ve had some moments of levity, time for reminiscing, visits from old friends, new friends, and family long thought to have drifted out of our lives.

Losing my father at only 63 is tough. He had retired and was waiting for my Mom to do the same in less than 2 years. They had many plans and dreams they wanted to accomplish together. Those things aren’t to be.

I tell you these things not to elicit sympathy, well-wishes, or prayers; though those are certainly appreciated.

I want to tell you how happy I am.

I’ve been given a wonderful gift. The gift of time.

Although this has only been a month, and the end is coming very swiftly now, we as a family have had the invaluable chance to say our goodbyes. I can’t tell you, as draining as it has been, how great it has been for each of us to tell him what he means to us, as well as each other.

Not everyone gets that chance. Accidents, crimes, or any of the other infinite circumstances of life so many times take away that opportunity, prevent that moment.

Ok, so here it is. The reason I’m writing (typing) to you all.

Tell your loved ones what they mean to you. Tell them every day if you can. Tell those who’ve drifted out of your life for whatever reason that you care, even if the sentiment isn’t returned.

The long and short of it is I know we can all think of a million reasons why we don’t need to do it, why we should put it off, why it somehow won’t make a difference. There’s only one reason to do it, but that one trumps the other million a million times over. It’s the reason we’re here, to love those around us, especially those closest to us. I have to catch myself sometimes when it seems as though I occasionally treat strangers better than my family. I somehow think, “well, they know how I feel,” or “they’ll still be here, they’re not going anywhere”. Perhaps you know what I’m talking about, maybe you don’t. Maybe you make it a point of hugging your husband every day, kissing your son or daughter and telling them you love them, calling your Mom or Dad every week to catch up or say what an impact they’ve had on your life. If so, I look forward to learning from you, as I hope some of the rest of us will.

The small things don’t matter. The petty disagreements are just that, petty. Meaningless. If we’re lucky, we live 70+ years. That seems like a long time, and it is. But it passes in the blink of an eye in many ways. They say our perception of time quickens as we get older. Where an hour seemed interminable when we were six, I can now lose my train of thought and misplace the better part of a day.

I’m sorry for the rambling (though I did warn you). I’ve made it a point not to bring religion into this, though if you are a person of faith, that can help immeasurably as well.

There’s nothing as precious, yet sometimes as punishing, as time and its passage. It’s there for you right now, use it.

I’ve lost touch with many of you, for any one of those million reasons. I hope you’d like to reconnect; if so, write back. If not, thank you for being there. I hope I was there for you too.

If you feel led to pass this on to others, feel free. If this hasn’t connected with you, I apologize. If it has, please use the gift of time to share your love with those you care about.

Thank you all for listening.