Cat Friends

At work I idly suggested to a colleague, “What if the cast of Friends were all cats? It would be called Cat Friends.” (Yes, this is the kind of ridiculous train of thought that I experience all the time.) (No, I am not on drugs.) I posted my astounding suggestion to Facebook, where it got a couple of comments became a phenomenon. Naturally, I had to apply some Photoshop magic to the results. I had to.

Thus I present to you the cast of next season’s hot new sitcom: Cat Friends.

Jennipurr Aniston

Jennipurr Aniston as Rachel Cream.

Fleasa Kudrow

Fleasa Kudrow as Fleebe Buffay.

David Sphynxer

David Sphynxer as Puss Gellar.

Catthew Purry

Catthew Perry as Cat-handler Bing.

Catteney Cox

Catteney Cox as Monicat Gellar.

Catt Le Blanc

Catt le Blanc as Joey Kibbleani.

Thanks to Cam, Bink, Rachael and Jono for several of the purrific cat puns!


Do movie characters exist in a world without movie stars?

Ocean's 12

Julia Roberts playing a woman who looks like Julia Roberts, next to George Clooney playing a man who doesn't look like George Clooney

So you’re watching Hollywood Movie, starring, say, Male Lead Played By Well-Known Actor (for simplicity’s sake, let’s say Steve Carell) and Female Lead Played By Well-Known Actress (say, Amy Adams), and Actress’s character comments on her crush on Tom Cruise, to which Actor’s character responds that Angelina Jolie is way more bangable.

What’s really going on here?

Obviously Hollywood Movie is fictional, but scenes like this happen in films all the time, where recognisable actors refer, in character, to their real-life Hollywood peers. What are we to make of these moments?

One assumption is that Hollywood Movie is, in fact, set in an alternate reality where the actors Steve Carell and Amy Adams don’t exist (or at least, where they’re not Hollywood stars); however, a couple of regular, ordinary, non-famous characters who happen to look exactly like our reality’s Steve Carell and Amy Adams do exist.

Alternatively, we can assume that Hollywood Movie is set in our reality, and is about a couple of regular, ordinary, non-famous people who happen to look exactly like the film stars Steve Carell and Amy Adams. The problem with this assumption, though, is that you then have to wonder why none of Hollywood Movie’s other characters (played, presumably, by yet more well-known actors and actresses) ever notice Male Lead and Female Lead look awfully like Steve Carell and Amy Adams. Or why Male Lead and Female Lead never notice every significant person in their lives also looks like a Hollywood actor((Steal this idea: a comedy about a town whose residents do realise they all look like Hollywood actors, and open some sort of impersonation theme park! Charlie Kaufman, are you available to write this thing?)).

The only film I can think of that explicitly addresses this conundrum is Ocean’s Twelve, which has Julia Roberts playing Tess, a woman who looks exactly like Julia Roberts and impersonates her to gain advantage. Yet this just raises more questions – why doesn’t anyone remark on Danny Ocean’s resemblance to George Clooney? Or on Rusty’s resemblance to Brad Pitt, or on Linus’s resemblance to Matt Damon, et cetera?

It seems Ocean’s Twelve is a clumsy mishmash of both of our earlier assumptions: it’s set in an alternate reality where Clooney et all don’t exist, but in which Roberts does exist.


Which members of the Glee cast are likely to stay famous when the show finishes?

Glee superfans – those pale, shivering types who rabidly defend the series as “whimsical” and who are plotting to assassinate Steve Levitan because Modern Family stole the Emmy last year – will no doubt answer the question posed in this post’s title with a sugar-coated “All of them!” Oh, Glee superfans! Your optimism is painfully naive! The sad truth is, many members of Glee‘s young cast will disappear into permanent obscurity when the series ceases to be profitable even faster than the pop-culture machine got sick of Lady Gaga.

Here is a (completely subjective) ranking of which Glee cast members will remain in the limelight, from most likely to least likely.

Jane Lynch. Have you seen Jane’s pre-Glee resume? The lady had parts – ranging from “bit” to “recurring” – in damn near everything. She will continue to land parts in damn near everything long after Glee, I hope! No matter how annoying and one-note Sue Sylvester becomes, Jane will forever remain awesome.

Lea Michele. Lea has at least a couple of guaranteed film roles coming up in the next couple of years – if she doesn’t play Elphaba in the inevitable movie adaptation of Wicked, I will eat my pointy black hat. (Admittedly, the endurance of Lea’s fame is directly related to whether or not she can shake off that “Rachel Berry” persona. If every character is all fluttering eyes, pouty staginess and a vague sense of is-this-girl-going-to-shut-up-or-what, her best-before date will advance several decades.)

Naya Rivera. Yes, Naya Rivera! In early episodes of Glee, her character Santana is hardly featured at all. But! Its writers obviously cottoned on to her awesomeness quickly, because by the second half of season one she was getting to sing and everything, and by season two she earned her very own storylines! I think Naya has the potential to play much more than bitchy lesbian cheerleaders. I think she will be starring in a mix of romantic comedies and serious dramas in future years – think a non-white, non-goodie-two-shoes version of Anne Hathaway.

Jayma Mays. This may seem like a surprising choice to put so high up the list! But Jayma’s most notable pre-Glee roles, in Ugly Betty and Heroes, demonstrate she is a pro at playing both innocent ingenues and catty sweethearts. She should keep doing that! (Prediction: in the not-too-distant future she will play the kindly, non-threateningly attractive mother in every TV pilot ever.)

Cory Monteith. Cory will never be a huge star. He’s too everyman for that – handsome, but not memorably so; talented, but not memorably so, et cetera. However. Can’t you totally picture him playing the kindly doofus older brother/cool young uncle/kindly dad in TV sitcoms for years to come?

Dianna Agron. I interviewed Dianna once, and let me tell you, she is one of the most stupendously beautiful women I have ever laid eyes on. Seriously. Quinn Fabray-on-TV is a fug machine compared to the high-wattage dazzle of Dianna Agron-in-real life. Fingers crossed she will parlay her beauty and ability into a film career, snaring the “Blonde Lead” role in a string of predictable Hollywood rom-coms (kind of like what Katherine Heigl attempted to do, only Dianna won’t be as hateful).

Heather Morris. Here’s what I can’t figure out: is Brittany S. Pierce a surprisingly hard role to play (thus making Heather a super-talented actress), or she a pretty simple, effortless role to play (thus making Heather a so-so actress)? Maybe it’s the former? But I’m not entirely sold on that? Either way, Heather is beloved by Glee fans, ensuring her longevity as a Cult Star for decades’ worth of TV and pop-culture conventions to come! (Plus: damn, girl can dance. If someone were to cast her in a show which was basically just her dancing in various situations, she would immediately shoot to the top of this list.)

Matthew Morrison. I realise Matthew is trying to launch a solo career as a musician. Which is good for him (so long as he never tries to rap ever, ever, ever again), though he’s a bit old to play the “Justin Timberlake” market. However! His marketing team has hopefully realised there is a great deal of potential (and disposable income!) in the “approaching middle-age sexpot mother” demographic. Those ladies could keep Matthew’s albums and tours afloat for years!

Chris Colfer. Maybe it’s only because I don’t like Kurt, but I can’t see Chris playing any other roles which aren’t prissy, annoying gay clones of his Glee alter ego – I hesitate to describe Kurt as “iconic”, but the character is almost too iconic (is there a watered-down version of that word?) for Chris to ever move past. But! Apparently he is a burgeoning television mogul. So there’s that.

Amber Riley. It would be awesome if Amber to remained a superstar – insert praise of her voice here! – but realistically, I can’t see it happening. How would she be marketed? (If the dark god of marketing can’t jam you up into your own tidy, specific box, you are doomed, and pop-culture’s designated spots for Black Divas are already taken by Beyonce and J-Hud. Sad face.) (And, c’mon, the show made her sing a song called ‘Hell to the No’. Damn, that shit is whack.)

Chord Overstreet. I guess Chord could have a solid career as one of those really famous country-music singers who no one else in the world ever heard of. (He sure has the name for it.) Or he could be an underwear model! Other than that, bzzt.

Harry Shum, Jr. Hey, someone’s got to fill the casts of all those Got to Step Up and Street Dance movies, right?

Mark Salling. Though he plays a 17-year-old on television, Mark is approaching 30 (and he looks it, too. Least convincing TV teenager ever since Luke Perry). Everyone knows that once you turn 30, you stop being famous. Yes, I’m sure there’s one or two examples that contradict my argument, but don’t bother correcting me on this.

Kevin McHale. Fortunately, Artie was a member of a boy band in his pre-Glee days – and I’m told said boy band had a tiny but devoted following! (I know, right?) So maybe all those weirdos will keep following him around, or something.

Jenna Ushkowitz. Has anyone else noticed that Tina has had, like, zero storylines in season two? I get the feeling that if Glee‘s budget were suddenly dramatically reduced and several cast members were cut, Tina would be among the first to be shipped off to boarding school offscreen.


There was never any such thing as a pterodactyl

Pterodactyl T-shirt

I definitely need this pterodactyl T-shirt

What does a pterodactly have in common with a brontosaurus? Neither of them ever actually existed:

There is (was) no such animal.  The term “Ptero-dactyle” was first coined by French Naturalist/Zoologist Georges Cuvier in 1809. Around that time, science had been turning up some bizarre fossils with beaks and large, wing-like structures. For some reason, to Cuvier, a hyphenated name beginning with a silent P seemed like an awesome way to describe these organisms. Eventually, “Ptero-dactyle” became “Pterodactylus,” and every fossil with wings that looked like a dinosaur was tossed into the old metaphorical Pterodactylus bucket in the corner. However, the term Pterodactyl stuck in the vernacular because the public, for one, had had enough already and just wanted to see the exhibit and go home.

Eventually, science got its act together and renamed the entire group of flying reptiles “Pterosaurs” (from the Greek meaning “wing lizard”). Each was then given a proper scientific name. Today, we recognize only two Pterodactylus species: Pterodactylus antiquus and Pterodactylus longicollum. And just FYI, knowing this simple fact officially makes you a nerd.

Long story short, there is no “Pterodactyl”.

Well, that’s disappointing.



Book review: Perdido Street Station, China Mieville

I’d say finishing Perdido Street Station feels like finishing a marathon, except I generally hate running and I didn’t hate reading Perdido Street Station at all.

This book, though, is big. Wow is it big. I ordered it online and when it arrived in the mail it was in a package the size of ten books. And unless you’re a supercomputer or have the luxury of spending hours reading without interruption (darned lucky hospital patients!), it will take you a while to complete this intimidatingly thick thing ((That’s what she said, yadda yadda.)). But don’t let the size put you off. This is some fine reading.

Considering the book’s density, its plot is surprisingly straightforward: Isaac, a charmingly bonkers scientist who’s in love with Lin, a woman who has a giant scarab for a head (more or less), is approached by Yagharek, a bird-man who’s had his wings cut off. Yagharek is desperate to fly again, and he asks Isaac to find a way to make it happen.

So while he’s investigating all manner of flying creatures, Isaac comes into possession of a rainbow-coloured grub which matures into something nightmarish. Literally nightmarish. Now Isaac and his friends must find a way to end the terror that’s spreading across their city, the ancient and crumbling metropolis New Crobuzon.

Giant spiders, super-intelligent sentient computers are all thrown into the mix. Rad!

The book’s length, I guess, comes from the sheer level of detail that Mieville pours into his work. New Crobuzon, to me, still feels like a fictional place, but it feels like a real fictional place – Mieville goes off on tangents about this unreal city’s history and its people and the effect is a story that’s deep, and rich, but rarely self-indulgent. Like I said, there’s still a touch of artifice about Mieville’s creation (you know how when you watch Leonardo DiCaprio in a movie, you admire him as a powerful, but you can see him Acting? Mieville, in Perdido Street Station, is a bit like that for me; I can feel him Writing), but I’m blown away by the intellect he’s propped it all up with.

The ending is bleak – a little gratuitously bleak, in the case of one character – but it fits with the cynical, almost nihilistic (but absorbing) world Mieville has spent thousands of words crafting. After I finished his more recent book The City and the City I wanted to read more of his books, and now that I’m done with Perdido Street Station I want to read even more of his books, so.