Monday, September 15, 2014

2014 Fall TV Preview: Dean's Cable Essay

It’s been a running tradition for David to write up a Fall preview for the various broadcast shows. In the last few years, I've provided a corresponding preview for cable (and streaming, but henceforth I’ll just say cable)[1], because I watch too much TV, and want all of you out there to watch what I watch.  But this year, I must do something different.

In part because cable doesn't respect the traditional Fall/Spring release date of the broadcast networks, and in part because the Fall shows I’ve either pitched to you before look kind of terrible. So instead, I will give a general overview of the state of cable television today, which will surely go on too long and represent way more thought than anyone should give to something that appears on a glowing screen in your living room.[2]

I’ve divided my thoughts up into Drama, Comedy, and Animation, so you know, skip whatever doesn't interest you. Or skip the whole thing, it’s not my blog. I won’t be offended. I won’t even know.[3]


Cable drama is in trouble, mostly. Its critical darlings are winding down or gone (Breaking Bad, Mad Men) and those that are rising up to replace them (True Detective, Fargo, the Leftovers), I find tiring. These shows all revel in being grim and mostly humorless. This holds true for the less critically acclaimed series as well [Sons of Anarchy has mistaken shock value for solid storytelling for at least 3 seasons. It learned the wrong lessons from The Shield, which was never shy about going for shock value, but always (well, OK, mostly) in the service of a larger story. Game of Thrones, a show I unabashedly love, has never met a situation that couldn’t get worse.  There is not a single happy character on Masters of Sex. I’m told the funniest parts of The Walking Dead tend to be unintentional (but that it’s gotten better?  I don’t watch it, so take my grumbling here with at least a grain of salt.)][4]

It’s not that I need or want happy, happy, happy all the time, but there needs to be some light in the darkness. Some reason to hope things will get better, rather than progressively worse until everything breaks. I’d love to see a drama on one of the bigger cable networks with a sense of fun and humor. Something like what Leverage used to do, or Castle (if I may intrude on David’s turf for a moment[5]) does now (maybe Monk is the originator of this specific style?). Even then the creators often forget what makes their shows tick and turn down the farce and up the grim.

These episodes are always the worst. I know I could turn on TNT or USA for an episode of Suits or something, but I’m not even sure if I have that programmed into my cable box. (Someone somewhere is yelling at me that I only have myself to blame for not tuning into these shows, but I also blame the AV Club. I set my schedule by their “What’s on Tonight,” and if it’s not there I won’t remember to DVR it.)

Of course this all ignores the glorious exception to the above: Orange is the New Black. How is a show about people with the least amount of control over their lives and the fewest options  the most optimistic, the most likely to find an unexpected laugh instead of finding another way to punch you in the gut (although it’s certainly not going to pull a punch if it comes to it)? Rectify is another show that breaks this pattern to an extent. It’s not going to make you laugh…ever. But its characters at least act human, and although their circumstances aren’t pleasant, they’re all working toward making what they’ve got better instead of tearing everything around them down (except in the episode Daniel tears down his mother’s kitchen, but that is not the point and stop pointing out flaws in my arguments).[6]

Another show that is good at mixing jokes with the more serious business is Justified (Just watch it David. It’s the final season. It won’t hurt you.) If you don’t believe me, tell anyone who watches it that Dewey Crowe has four kidneys and see how they react.[7] Also it managed to make Patton Oswalt hilarious and believably badass. (There is no way to describe his character without using that word, all other synonyms are inapt.)

And no essay would be complete without a final reversal. Sometimes adding lightness can go wrong. Levity is good, silliness is not. Which is why I finish this segment of the essay with Doctor Who. Steven Moffet is a very funny man. He brought the world the sock gap and the giggle loop. But the weakest parts of these shows are when they go too broad and veer into the silly (I’m looking at you first half hour of Capaladi’s premiere).[8] I could also throw in True Blood into this, but that’s maybe not silly so much as dumb. So in summation: Lighten up cable dramas, just, you know, not too much.


Whereas I’m down on cable when it comes to the overall state of its dramas, I have no such hesitation when it comes to the comedies. In fact I’m just going to list all the comedies I can think of that I’ve watched this year (that haven’t been canceled, although for some of them there is no news about yet) and then tell you something good about them, with one (quite notable) exception.

Archer: “This is how you get ants. “
Broad City: [Ed. note: Click this link to learn whatever it is Dean wants you to learn. And no, I haven't previewed it.]
Children’s Hospital: Clowns are a race on this show. So if you find them unsettling that makes you a racist.
Community: It’s on cable now! It’s been fixed from season 4! Donald Glover is gone! (Wait, that last one is bad. Come back Donald Glover, we love you!)
Cougar Town: RIP Big Carl
Girls: The latest season of Girls fixed some of the issues of the previous season, and also made me laugh.
Ground Floor: I think this one might be dead, but Briga Heelan is an absolute delight and John C. McGinley is an absolute pro when it comes to yelling at people.
Inside Amy Schumer: I find Amy’s willingness to make herself the butt of every joke endearing, especially since the jokes are so funny.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Dee looks like a bird.
Key and Peele: I hope they don’t bring back Luther the Anger Translator. I do hope they bring back A-a-ron.
Kroll Show: Nick Kroll specializes in parodying the exact type of show I do not watch. I still find his parodies to be hilarious.
Louie: I might be done with Louie. As it’s gone on it’s gone from side splitting comedy with occasional dramatic moments to a drama with all too fleeting comedic moments. I might quit this show and it makes me sad.[9]
The League: Batman Chalupa
Nathan For You: Dumb Starbucks: it’s exactly like Starbucks, but everything has dumb in front of it so parody law protects it.
NTSF:SD:SUV: I love that we got to see under Kove’s eye patch.   
Portlandia: Portland is a city ripe for gentle, loving, skewering and this show delivers. They need to fluoridate their water though. Also, they probably don’t vaccinate their kids as much as they should there. Get your vaccinations folks. Herd immunity is important.
Red Oaks: Technically this is not a show yet, it’s only an Amazon pilot. You should watch it and rate it on Amazon. I thought it was hilarious. It’s kind of Caddyshack the TV show (plus it’s got Paul Reiser who is making a welcome comeback to our TVs. )
Review: Pancakes, Divorce, Pancakes was the funniest single episode of TV I’ve seen all year.
Rick and Morty: “Look at me, I’m Mr. Meseeks!”
Silicon Valley: While Review had my favorite overall episode, this show had the single funniest set piece I’ve seen all year. I would describe it, but it’s a) incredibly profane and b) half of the joy in it comes from the visuals. I will say a scientific paper by actual scientists was published on this scene. (Warning: Both math and profane topics at this link.)
Sirens: I couldn’t tell you why this show made me as consistently happy as it did, but I was always excited to watch an episode. It has a special sort of charm to it.
South Park: You know what you’re going to get with South Park, so I’m not going to waste my time thinking of something clever to say about it.
Veep: In Dean-runs-the-Emmy’s world, Veep won Best Comedy (Orange is the New Black was runner-up for Best Drama after Breaking Bad because it’s a dramedy, and dramadies go in the drama category under my iron-fisted rule).
You’re the Worst: “They’re everyone’s stars.” This line made me tear up a little. It was the saddest line. This show will probably not come back--no one is watching even though it’s by far the funniest thing on TV right now and it’s not even close--but its last episode is Thursday so there’s still time to catch up. It’s hilarious and also somehow makes you care about some awful people. Also there was a really emotional moment involving a food processor of all things. Really this show is the best.

ANIMATION (or rather kid-focused animation)
Cable is a gold mine for quality animation. Between The Legend of Korra, Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Gravity Falls there are four cartoons adults can watch with their kids and still be entertained. (Be forewarned all the shows contain scenes that may be too scary for younger viewers.)  These shows are all great and I recommend each without reservation. The only issue with cable animation is that the people who schedule these shows are some sort of madmen who schedule these shows on some sort of time table known only to them. Gravity Falls just began its season and has taken a random break after only three episodes. Nick stopped airing The Legend of Korra halfway through the season and began placing them online only.[10] You’d have to be a haruspex[11] to keep track of when new episodes air (or trust your DVR to sort new from old, which is beyond my DVR’s capabilities and wouldn’t work for Korra either way).

So, to sum up for those who saw a wall of text and just skipped to the bottom: Dramas: too dark, not enough light; Comedies: a cornucopia of riches. If you’re not watching any, pick one from my list and give it a shot; Animation: Great, but frustrating in its own right.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

2014 Fall TV Preview: The CW

We're going in alphabetical order with the networks this year, so after CBS comes The CW. What shows does this mini-network have in store for the Fall TV season?

The Flash (premieres Oct. 7): You're probably not surprised that this is my most anticipated show of this network's new season. I've been watch Arrow for a few years now on The CW and this is a spin-off of that show from a character introduced in the course of last year's episodes. And surprise, surprise, this is one of Entertainment Weekly's best shows of the season. (But that may be due to the fact that nerds and superhero fare drives so much of mainstream programming these days?) Anyway, I'm hopeful that this can be a decent show--and importantly, a more bright and cheerful superhero story than Arrow tends to be.

Jane the Virgin (premieres Oct. 13): This show tells the tale of what happens when an "inexperienced" young lady who loves telenovellas mistakenly gets artificially inseminated during a visit with her doctor. Now her views on life are thrown out of whack and the conflicting views of her mother and grandmother pull her in different directions. I'm not sure why this show feels less racially insensitive than some of the other shows offered on other networks. Maybe this is because this is an Americanized version of a show that has already been run in another country?

And . . . can that really be all the NEW shows that The CW is launching this Fall? That seems amazingly slight, even for this networks. I mean, last year they had Reign and The Tomorrow People  and The 100 and, maybe The Carrie Diaries? Was that new last season? Ah well, I guess I shouldn't act too surprised. I tried The Tomorrow People for a while last year and just gave up. It never gained any traction with me and I just couldn't keep it going. And in the past few years, the only show that I've liked and stuck with was Arrow. (So, I guess you can now see why I'm hoping that The Flash turns out to be something to watch.)

The CW does list some show called iZombie (premiere "Coming Soon") but I shudder to even speculate what THAT show might be about and I definitely won't be watching it.

Oh . . . alright . . . I looked to see what the show was all about. And, oddly enough, it seems a bit like the premise of Jane the Virgin. Well, if you swap out the TV-show loving Latina good girl for a driven, pre-med student named Olivia Moore. (Liv Moore . . . right? OH PLEASE TELL ME YOU GET IT!!!!!) And you flip the "accidentally got impregnated through medical mistake" with "unfortunately got bitten by a zombie hoard at a med school weekend party". Well, then you can see the parallels, right?

Anyway, Zombie Liv is somehow not totes a zombie yet, so she can somehow still "pass" as a breather, so . . .  um . . . wait is THIS ANOTHER WEIRD RACIAL SHOW?!!!

No . . . calm down. I've already put WAY too much thought into this show that doesn't even have a premiere date. I just went down this road because I wanted to help fill out the post length because the number of shows to consider was so slight. (And, apparently it is based off of an existing comic book story.)

So . . . yeah. That's it for the CW. And I've already stated that the only other show I'll be tuning into on this network is Arrow, which premieres on October 8.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Football Counter-Programming #3

For week three of the Football Counter-Programming offensive, I'm going back to my roots a bit. Nothing directly new in the sense that I'm creating something off of the cuff today. But rather, I'm falling back on two common themes throughout this blog from its beginning just over ten years ago.

Anyone who takes a look at my tag cloud to the right of the screen will see that my two most written-about topics are FAMILY and TELEVISION. And that is what the source of today's post is all about.

First, we took a trip down the road to Lynd's Fruit Farm. We've gone there most falls to get some apples and spend the morning wandering around. This time Grace and I wandered around in the corn maze which was cut with an LotR theme. The map led you through various mazes paths shaped to evoke The Shire, Mordor, Lorien, Gondor, Rohan, and the rest. Grace and I were down in the maze for quite a while and didn't make it through the whole thing. But it was fun. Now we've got LOTS of Honeycrisp apples to eat and enjoy for weeks to come.

The OTHER theme for you today is that of Television. And if its Fall, that means I (and some of my willing friends) are writing posts for the Fall slate of new TV shows. In the last couple of days I've written some thoughts on ABC and CBS.  And if those items don't interest you, I've also added a new entry to my LOST Rewatch thread. (I'm still working to finish up season two. I've VERY far behind.)

So, why not ignore the football for a little while today and read about some other television programming.

2014 Fall TV Preview: CBS

The Fall TV Preview is underway for 2014. You can find the other 2014 posts here, along with the other posts I've written on the subject in past years.

In this post, we're going to take a look at CBS.

Wait . . . hold on. Am I reading this right? Are there only three new shows in this Fall season for CBS? Can that possibly be right? If so, then these three new shows are NCIS: New Orleans, The McCarthys, Scorpion, and Stalker. Oh, hold on. That is four shows. That's better . . . I guess? Or am I just not finding the correct listing of shows for CBS?

But why would that be hard? Is the trend for broadcast TV so downward that they can't even be bothered to promote their shows? Or is CBS so confident in their #1 mainstream status that they didn't green light lots of new shows because their old shows are relatively strong?

So many questions.

Well, let's take a look at these discovered new shows and then maybe I can find something else as I dig around.

NCIS: New Orleans (premieres Sept. 23): Police procedurals are the gifts that keep on giving year after year. They are the Swiss Army knife of television shows because they can fit anywhere and you came make them "fresh" by moving them to a new city and throwing together a new cast. This cast is centered around Scott Bacula. I can't think of anything witty to say about this show because it is not interested in being witty or flashy or different. Much like this paragraph, NCIS: New Orleans is content to simply take up space.


The McCarthys (premieres Oct. 30): Now, what do you think this show is about? I haven't done any research on it yet, so I know as much as you might. Let's make some guesses based on the photo that the Web site provided. Obviously . . . the dude standing up is the main focal point of the show. Let's suppose that his name is Ian McCarthy. And from the looks of it he and his dad, his (long-suffering) wife, his boorish (younger?) brother--and his wife, and their . . . um . . . work neighbor that lives nearby? Well, they all like to get together and watch . . . college football every weekend. And judging from the green shamrock (not pictures in the screen cap) to the left on the main page . . . they are Irish? Notre Dame fans? Living in Boston?

Let's see if I got ANY of that remotely close.
Well, I guess wrong about who was the main character and I didn't anticipate the homosexual angle. And I mixed up the mother by identifying her as a wife (I guess I misinterpreted older for long-suffering. AND . . . I got the relationship of the brother and sister wrong by making them husband and wife. BUT I did guess Boston and gathering for sports periodically correct! So . . . 30 imaginary points go to me.

Now . . . I'm not going to watch this show because ethnic humor is usually as tired and stereotypical as the semi-racist humor that was backed-away from in my ABC Preview. But, I'm wondering why this show is not premiering until late October? Is CBS broadcasting the World Series this year and I'm not aware of it? Anyway, let's not spend more time worrying about it.

Scorpion (premieres Sept. 22): Before you really start reading through this write up, click on the link to this show's page and take a hard look at the main photo. I recognize that trying to sum up a brand new show concept in a static image like this is challenging--as was proven by my previous exercise with The McCarthys. But WHAT is that lady in the background doing with the sparking electrical extension cords? Is she an electrician? A magician? WHY would you choose that pose as her defining moment to an unfamiliar public?

As to what the show is about? Well, as the chalkboard full of equations may suggest, the show collects several people of high IQ together to work for the government solving difficult cases. Maybe the government doesn't know how to fix their electrical problems? So, yeah .. . CBS is locking DOWN the police procedural corner of broadcast television.

Stalker (premieres Oct. 1): If you like one-word, S-construction names for you TV shows then CBS is for you! But if you like feel-good shows with uplifting messages this show is most-likely NOT for you, as the main image on the show page is a hoodied figure with no visible face. (Honestly, given the image resonance this has with Trayvon Martin I'm a bit surprised by that. But I guess that was a few years ago. Maybe I'm too sensitive.)

Based on some simple one-line statements on the show site, Stalker seems to be like a watered down version of an Arkham Asylum breakout or an amped up police procedural show. There are detectives (Dylan McDermott and Maggie Q) facing off against criminals. But the criminals seems more elaborate than just the sort of guys that get jailed on Castle each week. There is a definite horror element to the show. Maybe CBS learned something from FOX's Sleepy Hollow success last year?Speaking of learning from other success . . . hey CBS, do you like female-themed political shows?

Madam Secretary (premieres Sept. 21): Tea Leone is not Julia Louis Dreyfus. But Leone has been around the TV block several times like JLD and even has some experience in the television comedy. But I don't get the vibe that Madam Secretary is trying to be funny. If it were, the cover image would show a cast of wacky aides with ties askew, perhaps trying to prevent a tourist from spilling a soft drink on the Declaration of Independence. Rather, Madam Secretary looks more like CBS' version of The West Wing, a character-driven platform to allow the creators to speak about American foreign policy and such. And my supposition is definitely made more solid by the fact that the show is scheduled to be on Sunday nights--America's most serious night of television.

And so, I think that may be it for new Fall Shows. Another smallish bunch. But CBS has lots of solid stuff to keep its numbers up. There is Football on the weekend--both college and professional. And they've got critical favorites like The Good Wife and Revenge and Scandal coming back. And of course they've got The Big Bang Theory chugging along and racking up numbers and nominations every season.

As for me? On this network, I'll be looking forward to the return of Elementary and The Big Bang Theory. But what are your favorite shows on the Tiffany Network? Do any of these new shows look good to you? Do you think Stalker might become some sort of hit mid week? And how do actors like Dylan McDermott keep getting shows like clockwork year after year after year? Let me know down in the comments.

Friday, September 12, 2014

2014 Fall TV Preview: ABC

Do you feel that bite in the air? Summer is going and Fall is returning and that can only mean that I am going to rapidly type up some hasty thoughts about this year's Fall TV lineup for the major broadcast networks.

I've been doing this since my blog began back in 2004--and I even forgot to commemorate my tenth year anniversary back on August 12, so very bad job by me. But I've realized that mistake now and have updated my header tag accordingly:
. . . but that is not why you  are here. You are here because I have actually  already started the posts for 2014 back at the start of the calendar year. Back when Dean guest blogged about the winter season shows worth caring about. And then Angie chimed in with her own thoughts on which returning post-Christmas shows you should continue watching.

But I'm here to talk about the NEW shows on broadcast. Are there any that are worth your time this year? Have you given up on mainstream TV as much as the major networks have? Is cable and Hulu and Netflix and Amazon Prime the only places to get quality entertainment beamed at you? Most critics have been saying yes for many years. And since I'm no professional, who am I to argue against people who are paid to watch TV for a living?


Let's get things started with ABC--because it comes first in alphabetical order!

Selfie (premiere Sept. 30): I want this show to be funny and watchable mostly because I really like Karen Gillan. She played my favorite Companion on Doctor Who (Amy Pond) and I really like her beautiful red hair. (I HOPE that is the most shallow and useless thing that I mention on this series of posts.) Also, Karen is Scottish and that is great as well. But she won't be using her natural accent in the show--which is strike 1.

She plays Eliza Dooley (get it?) who has lots (less than 300,000 is lots?) of social media followers and decided that she is shallow and needs to change herself into a more well rounded person (are you getting it?). So she hires John Cho--of Harold and Kumar & Star Trek fame--to help her remake herself (really, honestly . . . are you GETTING IT?)

Can't I just enjoy watching Karen Gillan again?!!!!

Sigh . . . probably NOT.

Manhattan Love Story (premiere Sept. 30): The conceit of this show is that you are experiencing the unfiltered thoughts of people as they go through their days and knowing what they know . . . but won't say. You remember the other times this premise was done with overwhelming success, right? [Really, please . . . click on the first link. And if you are too young to know what that is, click here. I find it unfathomable that it lasted for four years?]

But, more about Manhattan Love Story. It just seems very cliched and stereotypical. It's lazy writing hung on a tired concept.

What's next? Well, if you were a fan of Ringer from a few years ago. And if you thought The Fantastic Four was a better comic book movie than everyone says it is. And . . . . if you thought what the world needs now is some sort of mash up between Dexter and The Vampire Diaries, then this next show is maybe for you? Fair warning, though . . .  there may only be ONE of you out there.

Forever (premieres Sept. 22 AND Sept. 23): Taking the concept of inexplicable immortality to new heights, this new show will premiere on two back-to-back nights. Ioan Gruffudd brings his many vowels to ABC to depict a doctor with a secret. He.Can't.Die. Which makes him so dedicated to his craft, as he tries to figure out what makes him different.

Perhaps the best thing about this show will be the character of Abe, portrayed by Judd Hirsch. He looks exactly the same as he did when portraying Jeff Goldblum's dad in Independence Day waaay back in the 1990s. Same rumpled hair, graying beard, slouchy clothes. Maybe, HE'S the immortal one?

And I love that his character is only identified with one name. Its like ABC is saying: "Let's see . . . clothes, hair, yeah. We know exactly who this dude is. No one needs to think much about him. So he only needs one name."

And speaking of not putting lots of thought into things . . .

Now I'm going to back away from these shows very quickly and try to forget that they are there.

How to Get Away with Murder (premieres Sept. 25): seems like a much better show. It's certainly a much more familiar show, so that is probably a good thing.Viola Davis is a reliable actor and Shonda Rhimes knows how to put together a reliable show. So . . . I guess this is the Ole Reliable of this season for ABC. And why not? It's a crime procedural, involving murder, and lots of dialogue. Feels like Castle to me.

And that is ALL for new shows with a hard premiere date. Other new ABC shows such as American Crime, Astronaut Wives Club, MARVEL's Agent Carter, Secrets and Lies, and The Whispers are all Coming Soon. Maybe they will premiere after Christmas, when some of these shows have been dropped? Or maybe they just aren't ready yet. Without looking at them any further and going by title and image card alone, I might further investigate Astronaut Wives Club, MARVEL's Agent Carter (a definite Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D spin-off that I would put on a very short leash), and Secrets and Lies 

(I have no evidence of this but the imagery of this just makes me hope it is atmospheric and weird like Twin Peaks. But that is probably only wishful thinking.)

As for returning shows that I am interested in . . .  there isn't much on ABC. I only regularly watch Castle and MARVEL's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But some people might want to see how new seasons of The Goldbergs or The Middle or Modern Family are progressing. Or--heaven forbid--you are still watching Grey's Anatomy. I know people that enjoy watching Revenge and Scandal so maybe you might want to check those out? But they aren't for me. And if you really are watching The Neighbors, I don't have much to say to you.

For further investigation on your own for all the shows I have mentioned and many others I completely ignored, you can visit the ABC Web page and click around on your own.

So, now  . . . talk back to me? Which shows are you interested in that ABC has to offer? Anything look good? What looks especially terrible? Leave a comment, why don'tcha?

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

LOST Rewatch: The Whole Truth

When we last left the LOST Rewatch efforts, we were here. And yes, that was a LOOOOONG time ago. How long? Well, check your AppleWatch to help you determine the passage of time. (There, future digital anthro-historians . . . now you can accurately calibrate the cultural moment when I sat down to write this blog post in the early 21st century . . . when digital technology was still important and before we had implanted digital wetware into our biological systems. Funny how we joked about the "Resistance is futile" line from Star Trek: The Next Generation, but failed to recognize how futile was our own resistance to the coming digital singularity as engineered by our corporateConstitutional masters at Apple Computers? And how we scoffed at the Borg's own choice to digitize themselves in the search for perfection? When we didn't realize that we would soon begin to sell off our redundant organs to join the the Cult of JIves? Those were simpler, more organic-based times.)


AndbutSO. . . LOST, season 2.

When last we left . . . Henry Gale was still manipulating John Locke and Jack Shepherd and nursing their seething inner insecurities. He's also messing with Sayid and getting him all riled up. But he continues to maintain that he's just a simple hot air balloon enthusiast from Minnesota. (And we all know that Minnesotans are famously insidious and devious.)

And speaking of devious . . . how about an episode featuring Sun and Jin? Those two NEVER tell each other the truth, amirite? She's speaking English behind his back. He's going goonish dirty work for her father than he never owns up too. And who's dog IS that anyway?

But everything looks above board at the start of the Flashbacks. Certainly the slinky lingerie that Sun is sporting doesn't leave much fabric to hide anything . . . amirite again? But Jin ruins the SexyTimes by getting all clinical. I guess he'd much rather only enjoy marital relations with his beautiful wife if there is the guarantee of procreation involved. Or is Jin lying AGAIN about something else? We may never know because Mr. Thermometer has definitely ruined the mood. Sun is taking her satin nightgown and is going home.

As the Flashback progresses, we learn that the Kwons have consulted with a fertility doctor. The doctor informs them that Sun is infertile, so they won't be having any children anyway. This further drives a wedge in their shaky marriage and helps drive Sun to meet up with her former suitor, hotel heir Jae who is spending time with Sun teaching her English.

In news on the Island, the fun times of present-day Jin and Sun continue. She is trying to find relaxation and motivation in her garden of plants. But Jin is worried that she'll again be abducted by "the Others" (but really Charlie) and rips up her plants. The Island is full of other types of suspicion as Locke asks Ana Lucia to use her cop interrogation skills to investigate the veracity of Henry Gale's claims as to who he is and where he comes from. In the course of Ana's interrogation, she gets a map to where Henry claims his balloon is located. And so she and Sayid (and also Charlie--who as you may remember has been on the outs with everyone lately), head off to follow he map and see what they can see.

And so the episode ends with Henry Gale out of the gun locker cell, due to some sort of calculation of good behavior that he sold to Locke.  But Jack is also there with John and both of them are splitting time between giving suspicious side eyes to each other while also keeping a careful eye on Mr. Gale. But their careful gaze doesn't prevent them from giving Henry a nice bowl of Dharma Flakes to enjoy in the Hatch kitchenette.

Oh and yeah . . . that map that Henry gave to Sayid and Ana? It absolutely was just proof of his identify and his hot air balloon location. It definitely WAS NOT a prelude to a Other-driven trap on some secluded spot of the Island. Promise, you guys!

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Football Counter-Programming #2

A few days ago, I got tagged to list some books that have influenced me in the past. And so I came up with the list that you see. I thought that looking at this list a bit more carefully would serve as this week's anti-football post.

So, put down the remote, stop trying to understand what Cover-Two Defense means, and read up. It's this week's Football Counter-Programming!


I listed these numbers in approximate chronological order to when I first read them. So take that into account. (For whatever that is worth, I guess.)

1. The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
I knew that picking a volume of the Narnia books would be on the list. But I chose Magicians rather than The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for a few reasons. First, I try to be iconoclastic when I can manage it. I also LIKE that book the best. But most importantly, I like that this book serves as a flashback that explains the origins or Narnia and how it all came to be. For, you see, my 1980s edition of the Narnia boxed set placed The Magician's Nephew at the sixth book in the seven book series. So, when I read it, it truly served as a FLASHBACK, semi-time travelling story that illuminated the history of Professor Kirke, the building of the wardrobe itself, the creation of Narnia, the "planting" of the lamppost, the arrival of the White Witch and everything else. It might have served as my first childhood mind-blowing moment. And it probably set me up to love all J.J. Abrams-related time-travel episodes and every other use of flashbacks ever.
I hear that most newly published editions of the series put The Magician's Nephew first now. And for all of the self-serving reasons listed above that makes me sad. It is a missed opportunity for surprising revelations for today's new readers.

2. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
As with #1, I had to choose between  The Hobbit, the LotR series as a whole, and The Silmarillion (which is more and more my favorite as I age). But if we are going with the Facebook rules that I choose influential books, then I have to pick the first one that I read. If I hadn't liked The Hobbit, I might never have tried to read LotR and who knows what OTHER books and influences might have changed in my life as a result? Maybe I could have learned to whittle or might have learned to catch a football? Maybe I'd be an accountant with a head for numbers? We'll never know . . .

3. Watership Down by Richard Adams
This completes my childhood trilogy of English fantasy novels. This is the one that swaps hobbits tramping across mythical downs with rabbits that hop across the hilltops. But I'm (also) a sucker for novels that include a glossary in the back. [I could have included Frank Herbert's Dune on this list, but I decided to keep it at ten titles. That is also why Carl Sagan's Cosmos isn't on the list.]
My parents gave me a first edition of this book for my 18th birthday. One of the nicest, most thoughtful gifts I've ever gotten.

4. Magician by Raymond Feist
Other worlds, magic, castles, pretty princesses and unrequited love with the overlooked orphan boy. My middle school/freshman high school self LOVED this stuff. It spoke to the fearful part of me that was afraid to be authentic and bold and show myself to everyone else. It fed the prideful part of me that just knew that there was more to me than anyone else could ever guess. All you nerds who are disgruntled and afraid and inarticulate . . . give this book (and its sequels) a try.

5. The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Let's give my high school self a moment of congratulatory applause for stepping outside of the fantasy cycle and reading something set in the real world for a change. (In this case 1960s Charleston, South Carolina . . . the Citadel military academy to be specific.)
Equal parts memoir, mystery, expose The Prince of Tides represents that period of my young reading life when I was trying to read more Southern literature--traditional stuff like Gone with the Wind, the John Jakes North and South Civil War series, Ferrol Sams, and some others. But I think I've liked Conroy's book the best. It is a really engaging and mysterious story about the military, the Southern culture, racism, and Conroy's own family tortures. I've read some of his other books, but this is his best. The move that also came out during these years was seen after I had read the book the first time and it wasn't as good.

6. A Supposedly Fun Think I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
I've written on WWYG?! many times about my appreciation of DFW and this book in particular. It was my first experience with his writing and easily the most accessible for a newbie. In fact, I've always liked his essay volumes more than his novels. They are more bite sized, more varied and engaging and infinitely more approachable.
This book also sort of marks the reemergence of fiction reading in my life, after many years of college-based nonfiction reading. I desperately wanted to enjoy reading again. And I'll always honor Wallace's book for helping me remember the variety and unexpectedness of fiction.

7. House of Leaves by Mark J. Danielewski
Again, if you search in the archives of WWYG?! you'll see me mention this book again and again. This was another book that helped reawaken my interest in fiction reading. And the story is mysterious and completely original, and just a trip to read. The book is formatted to come alive as you read it and it really excited my imagination and my admiration for the novelty of the work.

8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
You KNEW I'd list a Potter book on this list, right? But which one? Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is my actual favorite of the seven, with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows an extremely close second. In fact, I've said publicly before that OotP is one of my LEAST favorites. So, why. . . ?
Well, Year 5 represents my entrance into the HP fandom as a real-time participant. Prior to the summer of 2003, I was hearing about the series, reading news stories about it, hearing recommendations from people I trusted and borrowing previously published books from friends.
But Order of the Phoenix was the first one that I preordered, eagerly anticipated its mail arrival, and then devoured it in a matter of days. And it sparked my entry into the internet Web pages and podcasts and everything else that also shaped how I later became a fan/consumer of LOST and many, many movies during the early 2000s.
So, it may not be my most favorite STORY . . . but it was the most influential to my experience.

9. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs  by Chuck Klosterman
I enjoy Klosterman's writing because it is interesting and it is humorous and it speaks to many of my direct life experiences (or, really, events that happened contemporaneously to my life experiences).
But, to be really honest with you for a minute. I also like reading Klosterman because it makes me feel cool somehow.
I realize that that is an embarassing thing to say and you area all free to judge me for being idiotic and hopelessly naive. But go back and reread some of the things that I wrote about book #4 above.

That stuff never really goes away entirely, you know.

10. Looking for Alaska by John Green
One of John's books was for sure making it on this list and logically it had to be this one for all the same reasons that I picked The Hobbit over The Silmarillion.
Had I not liked LFA, I might not have tried to read An Abundance of Katherines or Paper Towns or Will Grayson, Will Grayson or  The Fault in Our Stars. And I might not have similarly enjoyed Maureen Johnson's Suite Scarlett series or her Shades of London series or enjoyed all of her tweeting.

Anyway . . . that's it.
Maybe you know a bit more about me now? And that was untimately the entire point of the exercise.

What books did YOU like as you grew up? Put some titles in the comments!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Football Counter-Programming #1

As promised on Tumblr this morning I am attempting to provide some type of entertaining diversion during the Fall Saturdays that doesn't involve football. History shows us that this is a fool's errand--both because football has been popular for over a century in this country and because I never fulfill my blog-related promises.

But hey . . . Tide's gotta Roll, Buckeye's gotta Script, and David's gotta blog.

Now, don't assume that I hate football. I don't. I'm just not committed to it. I've never successfully scheduled my weekends around it. And while I keep up just to be conversational, I don't understand it or consider myself to be equipped to converse in it. But, I keep up appearances and do my best, much like an American travelling abroad. I try to exchange meaningless pleasantries in the local language to acknowledge the prevailing culture.


So. . . what to talk about instead? How about books?

I try to keep up with some interesting reading now and then. I usually have a stack of books in various degrees of completion near my bed. And last weekend I finally sat down long enough to finish two of them: a Barnes & Noble combo publication of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Anansi Boys stories and David Foster Wallace's posthumous The Pale King.

Both of these books had been sitting on my bedside table for faaaarrr too long. I'd picked up the Gaiman book on a whim during a trip to B&N (probably when I was buying a Christmas present sketch pad for Sarah last season or even the year before that). Previously, I've always meant to read some stuff by Gaiman--especially his Sandman comics. But I've never gotten around to it. And someone suggested that I try American Gods. When I first tried to read it, it just didn't click. So my attempts faltered. But this next time around I pushed into the story and found that it was pretty interesting.

Probably because I get Gaiman mixed up with Michael Chabon (who wrote The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay) I thought American Gods was something about real-life superheroes in America. Rather, AG is literally true to its title. It's about gods in America and how they deal with modernity and technology and increasing secularism. But it's more dramatic and Percy Jackson-esque than that. I enjoyed it, even if it wasn't what I originally thought it might be.

The other half of that book, Anansi Boys, is something like a companion piece to AG. (Sort of how The Jeffersons was related to All in the Family, if you know what I mean. The roots of similar ideas are shared, but Anansi Boys is more down-to-earth and personalized, less grand in scope than the story American Gods tried to tell.) In many ways, I liked Anansi Boys even more.

David Foster Wallace's The Pale King is something else entirely. (I've written about DFW several different times on this blog. Use the search feature to find more random thoughts.) The Pale King was in progress when Wallace committed suicide several years ago. His publisher cobbled together the unfinished manuscripts and notes and scraps and tried to organize the story into something that might be what Wallace intended. All that was certain was that The Pale King was intended to be a story crafted around boredom and the possibility of achieving some sort of enlightenment through tedium.

Reading the book is certainly an exercise in tedium, to be sure. Wallace is always a challenge, even when reading a book he fully wrote, edited, and approved. I admit that I cling to reading Wallace because I want to be smarter. And I think that grappling with his stuff might make me smarter--or at least feel that I am smarter. (It's very hipster of me, for sure.) I've read through Infinite Jest more than twice, trying to piece it all together. I'm still trying to finish The Girl With Curious Hair. I've happily read his essay collections. And I've finally made it through TPK.

Does the finished book achieve some sort of examination of boredom? Maybe? It's just hard to read and some of it is hard to piece together. As usual Wallace ignores linear storytelling and throws multiple threads at you simultaneously. Are they supposed to all link? Maybe they do . . . but I might have missed it because I was only skimming those pages. Or maybe the linkage was in that footnote I chose not to read? I do know that focusing much of the book on the inner workings and bureaucratic struggles of an IRS office in Indiana was a good choice for a meditation on tedium. And Wallace's authorial choice to indulge in many digressions on the legality of tax code changes certainly fit the bill. The most obvious storyline that hit the boredom as enlightenment theme was near the end when two IRS agents were unwinding at an after work bar. One female agent began a very long and rambling discussion of how she met and married her husband when she was a teenager. Her story was told to a socially awkward colleague that presented as a borderline Asbergers candidate. As she force fed her story to him, pausing only to underline parts of her life story that she was sure he would not be able to understand, the Asbergers fellow began to slowly and imperceptibly levitate an inch or so above his bar stool.

Boredom as enlightenment, get it?

As you can see. . . I only got it because it was the most obvious part of the whole book. There's probably a lot more there, if I ever get up the gumption to open it up and try again.

So, now that those two books are off my table, I'm picking up the last in my trio of ignored novels--Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is not an exaggeration that I have been trying to finish this novel for five years. And I'm only slightly more than halfway done. It turns out that a novel about the resurrection of English magic, written as if it was being transcribed by the 19th centurians themselves is NOT Harry Potter 2.0.

There are parts of it that grab your attention and I do intend to finish reading all 782 pages. But it may get sidelined again for the foreseeable future. You see, Sarah's language arts teacher has assigned a parent/pupil project where she has to share the reading of a book of my choosing and then write a report on it.

My choice? It was easy really. Richard Adams Watership Down. Another favorite book of my youth--and one that she hasn't read yet. It has all the best elements of a fiction book--set in England, tells a journey story, provides a mystery, centers around a mysterious population, AND it has a glossary of unfamiliar terms in the back. (Tolkien and Herbert would certainly approve.)

I'll save thoughts on how that reading is going for another Saturday in the future.
Until then, here's hoping that none of your field goals are Wide Right.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Playing "What's In My Mouth"

The video is fairly self explanatory.

Some fun post-dinner fun to break up the endless stream of ice-bucket challenge videos.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

A Suburban Afternoon in the WVL

Sometimes my friends give me static because of my staid suburban life. I don't live in the hip areas of OTE or in the neoUrban areas around the Short North and [insert your favorite ethnic] Village. Nope, I live faaaaar away from the heart of it all in the northern suburb of Westerville. And what is exciting about that?

Well, HERE'S what is exciting about that . . .

After church today, I gathered up some of the kids and we set out to do something that I've been dreaming about accomplishing for months and months and months. We crossed the brand new bike/pedestrian bridge that spans County Line Road. I've been watching the construction of this bridge for so long and once the actual span was set above the road in May, I've really been hopeful. But still the construction drug on, ensuring safety and beautification and all that sort of thing. But on Friday, the ribbon cutting was done. And while I didn't fulfill my dream of being the first civilian to bike across the road, I did manage to enjoy my time walking up the bike patch to it this afternoon with Sarah and Hannah and standing up above the road and cars drove underneath.

It was a nice day--as so many nice days have been this summer. And we enjoyed our walk down the bike path, from over near Emerson school, through and behind industrial buildings and residential houses. And as we got closer to the bridge; as the bike path began to rise upward, my excitement mounted. Surely this was JUST as much fun as riding the Ferris wheel at the Ohio State fair? Surely nothing else that I might choose to do today could match this level of excitement.

So, yeah . . . we made it to the top of the bridge and I stood right above the double yellow line of the road. And I exulted in my achievement. And I wasn't the only one to realize the impact of the moment. As we walked, more and more bikers approached the span. And I knew from their shining eyes that they were also feeling the glory of the moment. And even when we were up there, other families stopped to see the achievement that we had all accomplished.

The Official Hat of Summer achieved another milestone today, high atop County Line Road.
After Sarah and Hannah and I calmed down from that achievement, we went over to the library and Hannah played a bit on the playground there. Sarah and I chatted about high school and stuff. It was good. After we got home, I finished reading American Gods and maybe I'll start reading Anansi Boys later tonight.


While I was walking around, I thought that if I had skill, I should have taken the opportunity to make a Thoughts from Places video about walking along the bike path and what I saw there. But I don't (yet) have the video making skills to make that happen. So I just took some photos and promised myself that I would sit down and blog a bit about it instead.

Some of the better images I decided not to wait on and threw them up on my Facebook page this afternoon.

And so then I saw some other things that were interesting during the rest of the day. Like these tree stump remnants that were growing in and amongst parts of a chain link fence. It probably would have been cooler if the tree itself was still there, but even so seeing these bits of tree suspended in the fence still kind of neat.

And after all of that, I came home and then we decided to order some pizza for dinner. And the girls wanted to try out Dough Boys Pizza in Uptown, a place we haven't been to before. So I drove over there and waited outside while they made the order.

The view was nice and the day continued to be great. Even though the pizza itself wasn't the best one I've ever had, I enjoyed the opportunity to try something new, support local people, and stretch out just a bit in a new direction.

Maybe I left just a little bit of my boring routine on the top of that bridge this afternoon? We can only hope so.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What DOES Felix know?

credit: lberghol, from deviantart

I've been listening to the audiobook recording of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince again the last few weeks. And today I hit upon something I'd never thought of before . . . the role of the Felix Felicis potion in the Ron + Hermione and the Ginny + Harry relationships.

Now . . . I know what Rowling said about Ron and Hermione earlier this year. And I can't really disagree with the spirit (and much of the substance) of what she observed. Ron and Hermione definitely look at the world in very different ways and I can absolutely believe that they might have to struggle though some difficult moments in their married life together. But I do not subscribe to the suggestion that Hermione might have been better off with Harry rather than Ron. I fully support Harry and Ginny (no matter moments of disagreement on that relationship that I have discussed in the past).

So, what is my issue this time?

Well, as I was listening to the audio, it struck me how influential Harry (under the guidance of the Liquid Luck potion) was in providing one of the final links that helped cement the start of both relationships.

Let's break it down, shall we?

Harry has decided he needs to use the potion to persuade Prof. Slughorn to give up his unaltered memory of the Horcrux conversation he had with Tom Riddle back in Riddle's sixth year. So, up in his dorm room, alongside Ron and Hermione, Harry takes a swig of the Felix felicis and then decides to go visit Hagrid's hut (much to R & H's surprise). Harry dons his invisibility cloak, heads down the stairs, and crosses the Gryffindor common room unseen.

Because he is unseen--which was part of Felix's influence (as Harry had made no suggestion prior to taking the potion that he wished to be sneaking about and because going to Hagrid's required him to sneak out of the castle after hours), the crucial dominos begin to fall.

"What were you doing up there with her?" shrieked Lavender Brown, staring right through Harry at Ron and Hermione emerging together from the boys' dormitories. Harry heard Ron spluttering behind him as he darted across the room away from them. [Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic 1st American edition, p. 478]

Lavender sees right through Harry and jumps to the wrong conclusion about what Ron and Hermione were doing (alone?) in the boys dorms. And due to this assist from Felix . . . it is the final straw in the faltering relationship of Ron Weasley and Lavender Brown. The two kids get into an argument over Lavender's assumption and Ron finally finds a way to worm out of the relationship that he had wanted to end for weeks.

Ron had been struggling to find a way to stand up to Lavender's single-minded focus on their relationship, but his fundamental insecurity was making that very hard for him to accomplish. He couldn't find a way to break it off and might have limped along for the remainder of the school year in an unhappy pairing. And who knows? It might even have continued through the summer? He couldn't find a way to break up with Lavender during the Christmas holidays either, even though there were signs that he was having some second thoughts. (The "My Sweetheart" bracelet that I don't believe he ever wore and the beginnings of the Won Won nickname began at this point in the school year.)

Hermione, for her part, was not going to actively do anything to drive the final wedge between Ron and Lavender. She has too much pride and inner self-confidence to intervene. In her head* she surely was calculating how long it would take Ron to chuck it with Lavender and come to his senses. So Felix helped them confirm their relationship before things went completely nuts in Year Seven.

Now . . . what about the other couple that Felix affected as Harry departed Gryffindor Tower? It was none other than his own future wife, Ginny Weasley. A girl that Harry had known for six years and all throughout this year at school had been nursing a growing affection for. But he was always talking himself out of it because of his concern that Ron would disapprove (as Ron clearly had done with every other boyfriend that Ginny had dated). And so, Regular Harry was similarly stymied by indecision and hesitancy.

But Felixed Harry knew what to do. Just as Felix felicis told Harry to mysteriously visit Hagrid that evening rather than directly stroll down to Prof. Slughorn's office, the potion made him take a particular path out of the portrait hole just as Dean and Ginny entered.

Getting through the portrait hole was simple; as he approached it, Ginny and Dean came through it, and Harry was able to slip between them. As he did so, he brushed accidentally against Ginny. "Don't push me, please, Dean," she said, sounding annoyed. "You're always doing that. I can get through perfectly well on my own . . ." The portrait swung closed behind Harry, but not before he had heard Dean make an angry retort. . . . [Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic 1st American edition, p. 478]

He didn't skirt around them (as I surely would have done if I was under the Invisibility cloak), but Felix felicis nudged Harry directly between them, ensuring that Ginny would mistake his slight touch as another push by Dean.

Why was Dean pushing her? And why had he done this many times before, according to Ginny? This strikes me as odd, since Ginny has long been described as an accomplished Quidditch player, which must mean that she has solid body control. And Rowling would surely have made it clear if Ginny was something of a spaz--which she always did when it came to Tonks' clumsiness.

So what was Dean up to? Maybe it was nothing?

I know that when I get into a argument with Lynda or the kids, I often over-exaggerate the situation to hammer home my point, no matter how ill-conceived it might be. So clearly Ginny was just taking this annoyance that she was already feeling toward Dean and magnifying it. And we know from previous books that Ginny had always harbored a crush on Harry. So, it is not as if Felix felicis was required to ensure their relationship began.

But I still find it curious that the potion went out of its way to move both relationships along when the principle actors in our story could not find a way to get it going themselves.

And if . . . IF they had NOT found a way to come together in the end, then most of these guys wouldn't have "existed."

* How interesting would it be to hear the Harry Potter story as narrated by Hermione? (Though I imagine there are several fan fictions doing that already?)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Party Month/Work Week

Credit: me; Our office good-luck totem gets some Major League-related snark during the stress of Texas review week.

Traditionally, the end of June through most of July is known as Party Month around the Martin house. We begin with Grace's birthday, slide through Lynda's birthday, our anniversary, and into Sarah's birthday. It's a busy time filled with plans, gifts, and all that stuff there.

This year's version was made more intriguing by the additional fun of a big family visit by the Thompsons in Georgia (both parents and brother-in-laws family). And when we have family visits, we go all out and do stuff that we never both to do for ourselves when we are alone.

So we went to Zoombezi Bay. We went to a Clippers baseball game. We went to COSI. We went swimming. We hardly ever stayed still except at night. And we ran our visitors ragged probably, driving them here and there and everywhich way to show of the city and find exciting ways to have a good time. (There is probably a reason why vacations only come around once a year, as they can certainly tire you out.) But everyone said that had a good time and politeness abounded--as it always must when the house gets more crowded with people. But it is good for us to stretch ourselves and shake off the routine and appreciate the many things we have and enjoy--even if we don't really stop to enjoy them as much as we might.

Oh, and did I mention that the run up to Party Month was also "enhanced" by a complete overhaul/remodel of our kitchen? Which we desperately wanted to get done before all the company arrived . . . and which is mostly did. (There are still some wall painting items that are needed to be finished and some other minor bits like that . . . but at least all the cabinets were hung and the floor was replaced and the backsplash and molding was fit and the water was turned on.)

So . . . after all of THAT the normal Party Month festivities got into gear. Grace's 11th birthday was centered around the movie How to Train Your Dragon 2, which we all enjoyed and agreed to be a much better movie-centering party than the LAST time (when Sarah wanted to see the terrible Avatar: The Last Airbender movie). Sadly, Grace did not get a letter to Hogwarts. But there is still hope that Hannah will get one in five more years.

Lynda and I combined the celebration of her birthday and our 19th anniversary into one nice date. And we really had a good time relaxing together and reminding ourselves of our abundant blessings.

Up next is Sarah's birthday . . . which is still a few weeks away. But interposed within the fun of Party Month, I've faced my own Work Week of Hell as my textbook project rubber hits the road of Texas review and evaluation. (In fact, I'm writing this post at the office at 11:30 pm while I want to button up the last few changes to my response document that goes back to the Texas Education Association review panel.)

This project has had its fits and starts, to be sure but if we can get past this major approval hurdle tonight and tomorrow, then a huge roadblock is removed and the possibility of success becomes that much more possible. I surely hope so, as the team has put up with a lot to get the program this far.

I hope it'll all be okay.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Winner of #OfficialHat2014

Unveiling this Summer’s Official Hat. Thanks to everyone who participated in the voting. Here’s hoping you like the choice, because it is the only hat you’ll see me in the rest of THIS summer.

Monday, June 09, 2014

#OfficialHat2014 Update #2

I really want you to vote. PLEASE!!!

This year's original video showing all of the acceptable candidates for the Official Hat of Summer 2014 can be seen here.

To cast a vote, comment on this post, send me an email, comment on my Twitter, shout at me while walking down the street, talk to me on Facebook, pull me aside during church, spell out your choice with condiments while eating a burrito, or interrupt me during a meet at work. Just make your  voice heard.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

#OfficialHat2014 Update

Here is an update on the Official Hat of Summer 2014.

The voting will remain open until the Summer Solstice, so you still have several weeks to cast your vote as many times as you are so inclined.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, here is this year's candidates video. And if you need further explanation, this Playlist might shed some light on the subject.

Here are the standings as of right now:

Reds hat--4 votes
South Georgia Seniors hat--3 votes
OSU visor--1 vote
OSU hat--1 vote
Braves hat--1 vote
Apple hat--zero votes

Make your voice heard. Make my head shaded! Vote.

Monday, May 12, 2014

2014 Official Hat of Summer Voting Now Open

It's your favorite time of year! The voting for the Official Hat of Summer is now open to you.

Your choices--

Ohio State baseball hat

Ohio State visor

Cincinnati Reds hat

South Georgia Seniors hat

Atlanta Braves 1974 hat

Apple hat

The voting is open until the Summer Solstice. Happy voting!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

. . . I can't tell ya, who to sock it to.

Photo location:
I have many things, little quirks that might seem charming, I guess . . . but probably drive you nuts if you have to put up with them all the time. I'm sure if she has the time and the inclination, Lynda can fill you in on many of them and provide lots of insight into how these traits drive her crazy.

Just now I was confronted with another one. Getting an apple from the refrigerator, I fought off the impulse to dump all of the red and green apples out of their mesh bags as they sat within the plastic drawer. Why? What does it harm anything to have the apples remain in their mesh bags? But, I say internally, Why should they say in the bags while simultaneously sitting in a plastic drawer of a refrigerator?

Does the fact that the drawer is clear plastic have something to do with it? Is there a visual conflict that I see the bags through the plastic drawer and that bothers me more than if the drawer were opaque? Or is it far more likely that somewhere in my life, I saw a refrigerator in a photograph or an advertisement or on a television show and liked the way that one looked. And so I've been spending part of my life trying to recapture that Platonic idea of REFRIGERATOR to my own twisted satisfaction?

Really it simply doesn't matter.

What does matter is that I am now convinced that I hear water dripping behind me and when I turn around and wait very patiently, I see and hear nothing?

See . . . I just did it again . . .


(Is the basement gaslighting me? Or is my computer chair trying to drive me insane?)

WHAT the HELL is that NOISE?!!!


I didn't take the apples out of the bags. I wanted to (and sometimes in the past, I have.) But I didn't do it this time. I talked myself out of it because I thought it might offend someone else in the family. How and for what reason, I can't begin to articulate to you right now. But that is why I stopped.

Figure the rest out for yourself, because I clearly have no good idea why I do most things.


As I was preparing to come downstairs to write this, I had a half-mug of microwaved coffee and a plate of apple slices. But then I was confronted with the basement stairs.

What to do?

Proceeding down the stairs with the plate of food in one hand and the coffee mug in the other was clearly not going to be possible. Most downward staircases give me a slight psychological pause these days anyway, and negotiating one with both hands full was not going to be a good choice.

So, I tried shifting the plate of apples from my left hand and combined that with my coffee mug. But it wasn't working very well and besides, the handrail is on the right side. Okay then. put the plate down on the table, transfer the mug to the left hand. Only hold the mug with a strong index finger curled in the handle.Balance the plate on the stacked curls of the middle, ring, and pinkie fingers. Place the thumb on the plate rim as counterbalance. Does it work? Pause, shift?

Nope. The strength of the index finger isn't holding the mug stiffly enough and it might begin to lean. And if that happens, then your hand muscles will begin to compensate and what might that do to the plate full of apple slices? What if this begins when you're halfway down the stairs? Even holding onto the hand railing, you just aren't sure what your body might try to do to hold it all together.

So . . . you sigh. You admit defeat.

Put the plate of apples down.
Go down the stairs and set the coffee mug on the desk.
Come back upstairs.
Grab the plate.
Return down the stairs.
Sit, type, eat, accept.

Try to forget so that next time, you can just go downstairs like any old body.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Shouting into the Void

Man, today was a . . . DAY.

But, looking back on it, I'm proud of how I eventually found ways to work my way through the problems and (hopefully) set a course that will navigate me through the next few days of issues and come out happily on the other side with satisfaction.

Soon, today will just be another grey area in the spotted mosaic of this project. From 50,000 feet, who will be able to identify one crisis from another? Who will care to remember WHAT was causing WHOM to be upset about WHY? Just finish and move on.

I'm like a cubicle shark . . .  always moving . . .

But it's still frustrating because all of that crisis work today prevented me from doing OTHER work. And I just don't have the mental energy to do more work tonight.

But I think fate has provided a (sort of) answer. Sarah is leaving for her school trip to WDC tomorrow and I will need to drop her and her luggage off at the school by 6:15. So why not justify the lack of work tonight (when I'm mentally fed up) by pushing it off until tomorrow morning when I can get into the office even earlier than usual and then only be physically exhausted?


This is how we do it.


Honestly, I want to be talking about THIS . . .

Click for past playlist videos
. . . but I can't because the friggin' cord that connects my video camera to my laptop's USB port is no where to be found and I can't find the right sort of replacement on the internet and it is delaying me from getting ideas executed and I just don't want to wait and I'm trying to be creating and it is making me unhappy and grrrr.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

LOST Rewatch: The Whole Truth

It's been a while, hasn't it my friends? How have you been over the last few months?

As I mentioned a little while ago on the blog, the LOST Rewatch experience ground to a halt unexpectedly one Friday night. I was watching "Two for the Road"--a critical season 2 episode that I haven't yet summarized here yet. And I was watching it with Grace. And some unexpected things happened--which I won't describe here as that is to come when the episode recap is written.

But Grace didn't react well to these events. And so Lynda strongly suggested that we stop. And so we did. I didn't want Grace having nightmares. But I didn't want to rewatch these episodes by myself either. So, things hit PAUSE for an undetermined amount of time. And . . . well, just in the last few weeks, Grace said that she wanted to start up the Rewatch again. I was quite happy with this idea, but my blog was busy with some other stuff that some television watchers might have been interested in.

So, I had to wait until Dean was finished with his guest blogging duties. And Grace and Sarah and I committed to a once-a-week, Friday night schedule of episode watching. And, here we are.

Now . . . as last left things, the Lostaways were mixed up with all sorts of turmoil because of the arrival of Henry Gale. Our mystery balloonist was being held captive in the Hatch's armory by Jack, John, Sayid, Eko, Kate, and Sawyer. The inner cadre hadn't made it widely known to the rest of their "friends" that this Man from Minnesota was being interrogated, detained, and under suspicion by their Leaders. In the most recent recap episode, however, the show has shifted to other topics--specifically Claire's concern over Aaron's fever.


But in "The Whole Truth" we shift to Sun and Jin with another glimpse into their tumultuous marriage pre-Flight 815. And on the Island Sun is trying to determine whether to tell Jin that she fears she is pregnant . . . which is odd, since the Flashback tells us that Jin was sterile.

(Not the the Korean fertility doctor admits to Jin publicly that he is the one with the problem. Because Jin works for Mr. Paik and the doctor is seriously worried about getting his practice destroyed by the vengeful industrialist. Oddly, however, it doesn't seem to be a problem to publicly state that Mr. Paik's daughter is infertile, even if that is not true. I guess Mr. Paik won't be emasculated by the fact that he has an infertile daughter? Which won't drive him into some sort of doctor-destroying rage? Patriarchy . . . amirite?)

ANYWAY . . .strike four or strike five for Sun and Jin's marriage, I guess.

Sun is already getting involved with Jae, the smooth-talking (and smooth-headed) son of a hotel magnate. He is teaching her English and hoping to teach her some other things as well. But for now, they are developing a deep friendship. Maybe they don't know the English word for infidelity yet?

ANDBUTSO . . . if these two kids can't have a baby, then why is Island Sun fighting morning sickness and keeping her suspected condition from her husband? Might the baby actually belong to Jae after all?

In the end, the answer to that is no . . . because, as we viewers know, the Island has some magical healing properties. It has already reanimated Locke's legs and eliminated Rose's cancer. So, it should be no problem at all to bring Jin's moribund sperm back to life, or widen his vans deferens or whatever. The Widmore-brand pregnancy test that Kate acquired from Sawyer's stash indicates that Sun is definitely pregnant. Hurray! (Because Claire and Aaron need to get taken down a peg or two.)

What else is happening?

Well, Locke has decided to get Ana Lucia involved in the Henry Gale party. He asks her to use her police interrogation skills to see if the prisoner's balloon story is full of hot air. So, she arrives and gets the same story about Gale and his wife crashing on the island and he even helpfully provides a map to the location of where his balloon is (and where he buried his wife). Sayid and Ana and Charlie follow the map to Henry's indicated spot and begin to search. What will they find, I wonder?

The episode ends with one of my favorite moments . . . Henry is having a morning bowl of Dharma Flakes with Jack and Locke. When Henry learns that Sayid and Ana have used his map to go searching, Henry muses that it sure is a good thing he's not a bad guy. Because if he was, then sending some people off to a mysterious location might be the best place to set an ambush, right?

Bemused smile, munching of cereal. Hey, can you pass the milk?