Monday, August 30, 2004


My fourth part, all about FOX, is below. Read it and weep--assuming that you are interested in quality television.

Fall TV preview, part 4

Tonight, we are watching Fox.

Already Fox has me worried, and all I've done is look at their home page for a few seconds. Why is this a problem? Because the first things that I see are two promo boxes for shows called Trading Spouses and something else called Renovate My Family.

So what is the problem here? Trading Spouses sounds exactly like ABC's show Wife Swap. AND if it blatantly trying to rid the coat tails of the TLC show Trading Spaces. So, even if Wife Swap is ripping off someone else's idea, they can't even be original in naming the show.

So, what is Renovate My Family a ripoff of? It seems sort of like a combination of Extreme Makeover and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, with some of this spouse swapping stuff thrown in for good measure. Frankly I am tired of all of these shows that tell you "Hey, you've got problems. Why not let television solve them for you?"

Of course, it wouldn't be a fall network schedule without YET another ripoff of NBC show The Apprentice. What is Fox's version like? Its called "The Billionaire: Branson's Quest for the Best." Fox will probably shorten it to The Billionaire, but you'll never get the REAL name out of your head now, will you? Starring Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group of Companies (calm down . . . it's not what you think), this guy with money is just itching to give it away to some deserving competitor.

I mean what would Andrew Carnegie have to say about this trend? Whatever happened to working and earning your money? At least the people on Fear Factor have to swallow ink and other horrible stuff like that. I am just tired of it now.

If millionaires with itchy trigger fingers are also boring you and you don't have many plans to swap out your spouse, then what else can Fox offer to you that is new? There is always The Swan 2, everyone most disturbing reality show of last season, but lets assume you don't hate yourself that much.

A new show "House" is described this way:
"a new take on mystery, where the villain is a medical malady and the hero is a cantankerous doctor who trusts no one, least of all his patients. DR. GREG HOUSE is irreverent, controversial, devoid of bedside manner and wouldn’t even talk to his patients if he could get away with it, but he is brilliant diagnostician and only the most dire cases come his way. House and his hand-picked team of experts will do whatever it takes – legal or not – to make the diagnoses that will solve these medical mysteries and save lives."

Sounds great, huh? No? Well, there are the old reliable sitcoms--Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle, Bernie Mac? Okay then . . . the absolute best new show of the entire last season--Arrested Development. Please watch this show.

Or maybe you'd like to watch Method and Red . . . a new take (further ripoff) of the fish out of water formula gone hip hop that made Will Smith a star in "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air." Or you could try a new show called "The Complex." It pits couples who think the have style, flair, and design cred against other couples with similarly hubristic notions. All are placed in a fancy condo complex in Malibu and each must renovate and design their condo--racing the judges and other designing couples.

Some day we will realize that the world is designed out and we can't find another place to put a tchotchke. But sadly, that day is not today.

If you don't want to design, but would rather beat up other people to release stress, then maybe you can watch ANOTHER reality show called "The Next Great Champ." People compete with other hopefuls in actual boxing matches--under the tutelage of the prettiest boxer ever, Oscar de la Hoya--to become the actual boxer that fights for some title. Further proof that the sport of boxing is corrupt and sad. And why isn't Sylvester Stallone involved in this?

Of course, there is Fox's breakout hit of last season, The O.C. Its back and proably better than ever, but I never got into it much. If they would focus more on the adorkable character played by Adam Brody then maybe I would, but as long as they insist on talking ad nauseum about the "troubled loner dude" and the "willowy troubled gorgeous gal" then color me uninterested.

OR you could try Tru Calling, where Elisha Dushku tried hard to escape the success she had on Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. This season she is assisted in that effort by Brandon Walsh himself--Jason Priestly! Will his return to the scene of his triumphant glory days on 90210 help his career? I doubt it.

But in all honesty, I have to give Fox some credit. While their website is not condusive to making hypertext links for you--so you will have to do your own clicking here--I am pleased that for once, Fox is thinking outside the box a bit and going to something like a year-round programming schedule. It is premiering some shows this fall, then releasing some other shows in January and then doing other shows in the summer.

Are the executives really admitting that they are not talented and creative enough to develop decent shows that last for a full season? Maybe . . . after all, I still haven't forgiven them for killing off Firefly. But maybe they are trying to do something new. For more information on that idea, check out this good commentary from the writers at teevee.org.

Anyway, my synopsis of the Fox season? Watch on Sunday nights to catch the Simpsons and Arrested Development. Tune in during the week for That 70s Show if you can make yourself care anymore. And tune in during the New Year January season because that is when 24 begins again. I don't watch, but I hear that Jack Bauer is damn near cracking at this point.

Next up in my sights? Let's go with UPN, okay? Great.

Sunday, August 29, 2004


Can't get enough of my awesome tv thoughts? Of course you can't! If you want to know what I think about CBS's upcoming offerings . . . "It's All Here."

Fall TV preview, part 3

Now it is time for CBS. As I noted in the review of ABC, CBS is now the second best network, thanks largely to the strength of CSI (and its weaker cousin CSI:Miami) plus the unending Survivor. CBS also has Big Brother, which didn't start well but has gained viewers every new year. The best reality show that CBS has? Most will probably say the Amazing Race. While I have never watched it, the show has a strong, devoted following and the critics always love it. So, CBS is a mixture of drama and reality, with its traditional news strength of 60 Minutes and the newer 60 Minutes II.

What is CBS contemplating for this coming year?

Most things aren't changing. Shows that did well enough last year, such as Navy NCIS (a double ripoff combination of CBS's own JAG and CSI) are still around. Two and a Half Men, though not though of highly, is still there, and Everyone (still, apparently) Loves Raymond--for probably another year and then that's it.

The show that I am most interested in is CSI:New York. It has to be better than its mediocre version in Miami has been, AND it features Gary Sinise, so lets hope it does well. I am a big fan of the original CSI and think this version will be well done. William Peterson, who stars in the original CSI and also acts as executive producer has been very outspoken of his fear that they are diluting the talent with all of the spinoffs, but I think that Sinise, at least, will do a good job. Unfortunately for me, it is on Wednesday night at 10, a night I am ususally watching pubescent superheroes, so I am have my own mini-dilemma.

The other most intriguing show for CBS is Dr. Vegas. This stars everyone's favorite West Winger Rob Lowe. It is appropriate that he arrive at CBS since he himself pulled a Caruso when he left WW at the height of its popularity and hasn't done anything worth mentioning since. Caruso, you see, did the same thing by leaving NYPD Blue many years ago and is trying to right that wrong on CSI:Miami right now. Anyway, Lowe is the aforementioned doctor who left behind ER medicine to become the in-house, always-on-call doc at a Vegas casino. He is friends with the owner, and you can guess where this is going. Lots of quirky injuries, occasional backdoor help for injured mobsters, etc. And the Doctor will certainly practice his bedside manner on a certain blackjack dealer who is going to college during the day and earning her keep (while probably trying to stay pure) in the dark of Sin City. (I sure hope she has a young son and that she is a single mom trying to start again . . . don't you?)

That's all I feel like talking about on CBS right now. I have never been a big fan and blatantly use the network for my own purposes. I watch CSI but feel no obligation or appreciation of the network--other than their rigid and constant use of the color blue in every possible situation. By all means, if you are a fan of next year's Survivor: Vanuatu, or habitually watch the Amazing Race, if you like Cold Case or King of Queens (a show that I do admire), then check out those shows for yourself here.

I, however, am going to stop here and plan my next examination. Why not Fox? See you then.

Saturday, August 28, 2004


My thoughts on the upcoming ABC fall season is below. If you enjoy it, then come back for part three. If not . . . then I am extremely sorry.
 Posted by Hello

Fall TV preview, part 2

Well, tonight we will examine ABC to see if it has a solution for being the network doormat, the position that it has held for the last several years.

You might recall that while NBC has consistently been the #1 network for many years now (on the strength of its comedy lineup) ABC was a decent second for a good while. Its strength was hour long dramas. CBS was a distant third--committing itself to the older demographic of television viewers.

But then CBS hit the TV jackpot with Survivor and its many spinoffs and it followed suit with the edgy drama CSI, which eventually replaced ER as the #1 drama program. During all this change ABC could not figure out what to do. It has for several years now struggled to create a reliable sitcom and its dramas did not have the staying power of ER--probably ABC's best drama, The Practice, finally gave up at the end of last season. While Alias is one of my favorite shows, it has never been a ratings lock.

ABC improved its fortune briefly by reintroducing America to the game show. Who Wants to be a Millionaire was a genuine phenomenon--for a few months. But ABC decided to grind it into the ground by putting on about 10 nights a week. Plus, everyone else tried the gameshow thing too and America got tired of them fast--remember the Weakest Link?

So, now ABC is facing another year of new programming. Can something in this crop be good? Let's take a look.

ABC can still rely on Monday Night Football--it's always a ratings winner. But now ABC is leading into MNF with The Benefactor. Sure, its really a very transparent rip-off of NBC's idea for The Apprentice, but TV knows one thing--rip off other people's good ideas. But is Mark Cuban--outspoken owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks--as interesting and in your face rich as Donald Trump? Every time I ever see Cuban, he's wearing a t-shirt. That doesn't say RICH to me. Does he have gold giltwork all over his office like Trump? It seems to me that unless your rich TV mogul figure is willing to act like Midas with a bad toupe, America will take a pass. (Plus, MTVs ripoff of is better--Andy Dick is crazy in The Assistant.)

So, what else? Tuesday night is ABC's sitcom laugh night. Yes, I know that According to Jim is located on that night, which would seem to negate what I just said, but this is what ABC is planning, not what it is accomplishing. There is a new show called Rodney, but I wouldn't get your hopes up that it is about Rodney Dangerfield--a good idea that is not being accomplished.

Wednesday is ABC best chance probably. It is anchored with The Bachelor. But I think the luster is off of this show now. I am somewhat excited by the show starting at 8pm--Lost. J.J. Abrams is involved, and if he can bring some of the fun of Alias to this show, it might be cool. Plus, it features Dominic Monighan (that's LOTR's Merry Brandybuck to you). The other show on Wednesday is the creepy Wife Swap. Go to the link for more insight on that one--the less said the better I think.

So, what about Thursday? Well, there is life as we know it, but I don't know much about this one really. It has a pretty good pedigree--some good writers who worked on previously good shows, but the ideas sounds a bit like cramming My So Called Life together with Thirteen (but about boys). It will probably be a hit with the critics, but I don't think people will schedule their nights around it.

Friday night is ABC's TGiF night. So the rest of the sitcomes go there. I've liked Less Than Perfect in the past, but it doesn't bode well that they are putting it here on Friday. Plus, Andy Dick was the best thing about that show and now that he is doing well on MTV . . . a bad combination.

Nobody watches anything on Saturday, so lets skip that and go to Sunday--which has kept ABC alive the last few years. First, I will point out my anger that Alias isn't premiering until JANUARY!! I know that some of you say that this is done to ensure that there will be a continuous run of new episodes, eliminating the annoyance of two weeks of reruns in the middle of important stuff. But really, we've got to wait until January! The only way to make up for this in my mind is to do what they did last time and use the Super Bowl as a great lead in and put Sydney back in an airplane with a whip. You know what I'm talking about!

The other show on Sunday night is Boston Legal. Please don't call it The Practice II or anything like that. Just because The Practice imploded last year and the only thing left standing were the two focal characters (played by James Spader and Bill Shatner [KHAN!!]) who just happen to be t he main characters of this show . . . . Well, anyway, who doesn't love David E. Kelley? Right? He is obligated to have a show of his SOMEWHERE each year right? Otherwise Boston has nothing going for it except sports teams and John Kerry--which means its got nothing going for it but sports teams.

Where was I? Oh, right . . . we have to wait for JANUARY to watch Alias?!!

So, in conclusion . . . ABC is ripping off other peoples ideas, recycling characters from dead shows into new ones, swapping wives, not giving us Rodney Dangerfield, STILL paying Jim Belushi . . . and then there is JANUARY when all will be right with the world. Will it all work? I don't think it can get lots worse, so let's be optimistic, okay?

******
Next up . . . CBS.

Family Caricatures #1


We took the girls to their old daycare to have a party with their old friends Friday evening. They had a caricature artist that drew some really cute picture of the girls as well as Tegan and me. Here is Ruth is all of her cute 14 month old glory. Posted by Hello

Family Caricatures #2


Here is the caricature of Tegan and me. I think the artist did a pretty good job with Tegan but i think he nailed me. I really do look that goofy most of the time. Tegan is MUCH better looking than this, but its a caricature--what do you want? Posted by Hello

Family Caricatures #3


Here is the drawing of Ariel (in the middle) with two of her boy friends. The one on the right is named Jacob--and she always has a thing for boys named Jacob. Posted by Hello

Thursday, August 26, 2004


My NBC Fall TV preview is found below. Posted by Hello

Fall TV preview, part 1


Tonight, its NBC's turn.

A lot has been said about the steady growth of reality TV and the resultant decline in original, scripted programming. A lot has also been said about the decline of NBCs dominance and the end of Must See TV. Since NBC hasn't been consistent in replacing its dominant comedy sitcoms of the past twenty years (Cheers, Cosby, Mad About You, Frasier, Friends), people have predicted that this is the year that NBC falls from grace and ceases to be #1.

The question is, will anyone else step up to take NBCs place? The other networks haven't really been churning out new sitcoms that spark the viewers imagination. Everybody Loves Raymond will be done after this year, I think and CBS puts the rest of its money in dramas like CSI, CSI:Miami, and the new CSI:New York. ABC can't do anything right, and Fox, UPN, and the WB are simply filling the niches of African American programming, and much greater (they want to call it envelope-pushing? broadcast embarassment.

So, we are back to NBC. Since ER ceased to be relevant years ago and the West Wing is declining steadily, probably the tentpole show for this network continues to be The Apprentice. Expect to see lots of promos for it and I assume it will be their ratings giant this season, anchoring Thursday night at 9 pm--going against CBSs Survivor, I think.

The new shows for NBC are interesting in two ways--their either weirdly daring or they just want you to watch to see if it will fail.

Father of the Pride falls into the first category. Set in Vegas, animated, focusing on the stunt animals of Siegfried and Roy. Stop and read that again. Do you think it will work? Neither do I. It's not going to be the absolute trainwreck that was last year's Whoopi, but it still won't work. Add to the fact that it's on Monday night, competing against Monday Night Football and you might as well tell the creators of Shrek to go back to Hollywood. I'll give them quirky concept, but I won't expect it to last.

The show that falls into the second category--everyone will watch to see if it stinks--is, of course, Joey. Can the "lightning in a bottle" of Friends translate at all when people are thinking, "Hmmm. 1 out of 6 ain't bad." I wonder if Matt Leblanc was able to transfer his latest salary from Friends over to this program. It might work, but it very easily could be the next spinoff that never worked. But, nobody thought Frasier had a prayer, either. It's on Thursday night at 8. I suppose that NBC thinks that the viewers have been adequately trained over the past decade to automatically turn to NBC on Thursday nights at 8 pm. As long as they see one familiar face, they won't change the channel. (Personally, the brainwashing would work better if they also got the Rembrandts to record the theme song, but I don't think that happened.)

As for the rest of the schedule? Well, there are all the returning dramas--Law and Order (now with Dennis Farina replacing Jerry Orbach. "Who," you ask? Exactly. And there is Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, etc, etc.

ER is still hanging in there, but really, who cares? The new dramas are LAX with Heather Locklear and Blair Underwood. I don't know much, except that it is in the Los Angelese airport. If Steven Speielberg and Tom Hanks couldn't successfully make stuff about airports interesting, do you think they will?

The biggest question for me is (say it with me now) SCRUBS!!!

In its boneheaded wisdom, NBC has decided that now it will be on Monday nights at 9:30. So it gets doubly hammered by having the shaky Father of the Pride as its lead in and it must compete with the half of Monday Night Football that people actually stay up to watch. Simply disasterous.

NBC tries to combat this by introducing Heather Graham as a new cast member. I assume she is full time, to justify the expense and the relentless promoing. But, this won't work because the entire strength of Scrubs is its ensemble nature. You don't just drop people into it and expect things to go well--unless they are great actors, and I don't hear lots of people saying that about Ms. Graham. So, unless NBC decides to make Heather Graham's character a nudist, she won't play much of a factor and Scrubs gets abused by NBC once again.

So, there is it in a nutshell. It's not scintilating programming, but do any of the mainstream networks pull that off anymore, if they ever did? I admit that most of the shows I watch aren't Masterpiece Theater, but you get to care about the story and the characters after a while--unless they are good writers involved (such as with Seinfeld and the best years of Frasier). I don't think I have much incentive to develop a relationship with these shows.

Some of these shows premiere next week, once NBC gets done with the Olympics. So, check out websites, ready Entertainment Weekly, decide for yourself . . . is any of NBC worth your time?

(Next time I think I will tackle ABC).

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


Hey girlfriends! It's us--Nolee, Chelsea, Madison, and Delancey. Where's Barbie? Probably regretting that muffin she ate for breakfast!

See more about us below. Posted by Hello

Hey Girlfriend!

"You're, like, one of the luckiest girls EVER! You've been chosen to get a sneak peek of our brand new movie, Masquerade Madness (TM), on DVD! It's an ultra-cool story of five best friends (named--sadly--Barbie, Chelsea, Madison, Delancey, and Nolee) living in the big city! It's got fab costume parties, crushes on cuties, and ooh . . . the drama!"
"After the show, hang with us at myscene.com! We'll show you the NEW My Scene (TM) Masquerade Madness (TM) dolls! Plus, we've got tons of fashion 'n beauty games for you to play, and cool shows for you to watch. So ask your mom or dad to help you log on to myscene.com! See you there!"

Your friends 4-ever
The My Scene(TM) Gang!"

**********************
Well, given these blandishments, what more could any self-respecting "super-hip girl" ask for? I decided to check out their scene and experience the Masquerade Madness of the gang. Tremble now as we follow the convoluted story of Chelsea, the fashion designer who is failing math; Nolee, the Asian girl who is in touch with her spiritual side and (gasp!) excels at math; Barbie, the confident unofficial leader of the gang; Delancey, the one who can't keep a secret, and Madison, the one who isn't Caucasian.
So, the gang has luckily managed to convince their school to let them all work together on the same community service project--helping put on a fashion show for them, their guy friends (Hudson, Sutton, River, and Ellis), and their pets, in order to help raise money for the animal shelter. We don't want to be responsible for euthanizing the unwanted and dirty pets, now do we? It would totally ruin my scene.
But, don't forget . . . the drama! Chelsea, the one responsible for the costume-making, is failing math. She won't tell the rest of the gang that, because it makes her feel like a total loser. But she is secretly enlisting the help of crushable Hudson to help her. To maintain the deception, she asks him to pose as her boyfriend--which he is TOTALLY willing to do! (Squweee!) ALSO, the rest of the gang is secretly planning a surprise birthday party for Chelsea, whose ACTUAL birthday is more than two weeks away. She'll never suspect if they throw it early! But don't let Delancey spill the beans. You know she can't be trusted to keep a secret, right?!
And, the gang have the perfect place for the party--at Madison's dad loft! It is the coolest place, totally hip, and there are NEVER any parents around anywhere!
So, all plans are progressing. But Chelsea is struggling to maintain the charade with Hudson, find time to study, make the costumes, and squeeze in time to shop for hip clothes and makeup. Harsh! (She might also have to make her own dinner and earn her own money, since there are never parents around . . . bummer!)
Chels' is so stressed, she tells the gang she will have to drop out of the fashion show--but she won't say why!! (remember . . . the drama?) Finally, Hudson explains what is really going on and quick as a wink, Nolee and her computer like, yoga-sittin', aura-cleansing, vaguely Asian brain arrive to make Chelsea see that it's okay if you aren't good at math. Nolee reminds her that she is ACTUALLY great at math--she cuts out clothing patterns all the time, right? It's just that she doesn't recongnize the similarities between the fashion and the math theory when its in a textbook (its ALWAYS the textbook's fault, right gang?).
After a brief, animated musical montage of study, costuming creating, and other stuff, Chelsea has realized that like all modern girls, she can and MUST do it all! Which she does with aplomb. The fashion show goes off with nary a hitch and the gang successfully surprise her with the surprise Masquerade party at the bitchin' (and totally parent-free) loft!
It's great to be a Mattel product, and I hope that someday, my two daughters will ascribe to the motto of these girls--"My city, my style, my scene."

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Because it wouldn't be a workday w/o an entry

It's late August!
Do you know where your Fall TV is?

That's right . . . the second annual (first blog-tastic) Fall TV breakdown is coming soon.
As you can guess, this is simply a teaser . . . because I like to tease.

But, you can expect something like this: I'll hit the highlights of many (but certainly not all) of the new programming being offered up by the various networks for this coming season. If you read any entertainment media, you are probably already seeing some of this, but I will promise to give it to you in my own way, which is to say, I will place it on my site and a certain percentage of it will be my own thoughts and opinions. Which percentage? You might never know.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Political scandal and other things . . .

I didn't carve out enough time this weekend to delve "in depth" into the further mysteries of mass-marketing DVD's. I did give it a quick once over (with friends--more on that later) but this DESERVES a careful review and some thought. So, more TK . . . I promise!

Anyway, this may be old news to people out there, but I find it surprising. (I got these links from memepool.com.)

Both the Kerry and the Bush camps provide guidelines on how to write letters to the editor, supporting their own candidate. Kerry's guidelines are here. The Bush camp's form, however, is even better--because it provides the text for you! See here.

What is the result (at least for the Bushies?). Attack of the (letter) Clones!

******************
If stuff like that has you worried, and you think it might signal the coming of the End Days, then you had better hurry out and purchase one of these Quantum Sleeper Units. You might think that it looks like the bed berth in a fancy, Republican-style yacht, but it really is your ticket to post-apocalyptic survival. Just in case you aren't chosen in the Rapture, this might be your only hope--along with a 50 gallon drum of drinking water.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Confronting the mysteries of tween girls

My oldest daughter Ariel is 4 years old. She is not yet old enought to start dressing like Kirsten Dunst or (God-help me) Christina Aguilera. She doesn't yet know who Lindsay Lohan is or have an opinon on the Olsen Twins.

So, I am lucky . . . for now.

But the dangers that await me reared their ugly head in my mailbox a few days ago. There was a rectangular package underneath the bills and coupon flyers. At first I thought it was another marketing CD by AOL. But it wasn't for me or for Tegan. It was addressed to "the hip girl at . . . "

As I said, Ariel is only 4 and to my knowledge, has not yet appeared on any mailing lists (probably a foolish assumption). So, I suspect the mailers were really targeting the previous owners, who lived at our address until the beginning of this summer. They had, I believe, a girl old enough to be considered "hip" by direct mail mass marketing.

I did not, however, throw this away. Being a good consumer/observer of mass culture, I wanted to know what constituted "hip girlitude" in today's world. Nevermind the fact that I am a thirtyish year old male, neither hip nor girly--except in the eyes of my coworkers.

It turns out the package contained a free 32 minute animated DVD all about some cartoons girls. I don't know the age of these girls, but the whole concept is based on a doll line called "My Scene." I have seen commercials for the dolls, but here, in my hands, was an open door into the marketable world that my daughter will very soon be facing.

I have not watched it yet. Maybe I'm afraid . . . but I hope to sit down and watch the 32 minutes (including commercials) this weekend.

Rest assured, I will let you know what I discover.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Mysterious synergies in the blog-o-verse

Well, I didn't get to add anything last night because our regularly-scheduled bible study group was moved to Wednesdays. By the time we got home from Hilliard and got the girls in bed it was already 10 pm and I have been feeling tired lately, so we stayed up in the bedroom and watched Good Eats on Food Network before going to bed.

This morning I checked out the Damn Hell Ass Kings as I often do, and found that one of the writers was quitting her job. Now, I don't know Shack personally, but I have read many of his/her (?) recaps for Television Without Pity.

The interesting thing about all of this is that it sounds like she is quitting her journalism job to move to L.A. and pursue the chance to write for television. How is Shack proposing to do this? It appears s/he is trying to enter the content recently announced by Bravo to be part of their new reality show Situation: Comedy. The idea for the show is people submit scripts for 15 minutes of a sitcom they create and compete with others for the chance to get a job writing sitcoms for real for a year.

How does this connect to me? Well, my coworker Dr. Actually brought in a newspaper clipping about this show last week and jokingly suggested that I should try to enter the show. Now, I am not really in a position to do such a thing--having a wife with a successful job and two young girls--but it DID motivate me (in some strange fashion) to begin this blog. So, in some way I feel a deeper connection with Shack (whom I have never met and am not even sure of Shack's gender) than ever before.

I would go into more detail about how this site actually came to be, but that will have to wait for another day and another post . . . my office's computer drives will allow me access eventually and I won't have a good excuse to further avoid working.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

My theory on circular conversations

Around 11:45, I did my usual thing and started rounding up the Lunch Bunch. Lulu and Raisinette were talking in breathless tones about the Australian swimmer, Ian Thorpe, aka "The Thorpedo." You know, the guy with the size 17.5 feet.

So, these two were carrying on about the size of his feet, the size of his hands, his amazing lung capacity. I stopped listening, lest I blush from embarrassment.

Anyway, lunch was purchased and consumed and we all headed back upstairs. In the elevator, Lulu and Raisinette again started talking about Thorpe and I think Raisinette made the comment that the conversation had gone full circle.

This made me remember that I once developed a working theory on this very phenomenon--long before Seinfeld and M. Night Shamalyan's Signs made it popular.

I developed it, as I did with almost all of my most important realizations--during my years in the marching band.

Every summer we all went to band camp, where we learned and began practicing our halftime performance. It was always in August, held at a community college close to home. We lived in the dorm rooms, ate in the cafeteria, practiced our maneuvers and music in the hot sun on the asphalt parking lot. Being a committed band geek, I loved it.

Anyway, at nights before falling asleep my roommates and I would talk about all sorts of things, but I noticed that we often circled back around to the same stuff we began talking about. Eventually I came up with a theory as to why . . .

You see, we were in a bland, closed dorm room, sometimes in the dark and sometimes with the lights on, but the scenery didn't change. So my thought was that since our surroundings didn't change our brains didn't have new data with which to spin off into new directions and begin an unending series of topics. I think I had developed a more elaborate way of explaining it then, but that was the gist of the theory.

Looking back on it now, I suppose it was more likely that my friends and I had limited life experiences, a certain set of things we wanted to talk about, and not much else to say. We were high school band geeks living in south Georgia, you understand. Our field of lifestyles was pretty limited.

How does that explain what happened today? Is it that my friends, despite their claims of "living life" (compared to me), have similar limitations? Or is it that Olympic swimmers can reduce educated women of the world to high schoolers?

Thank you Fametracker for all that is good on the internet

Fametracker's Ten Least Essential Fall Films, 2004

Once again, Fametracker provides their warnings on what not to watch this fall.

Oddly, it disagrees with Entertainment Weekly, who put at least one of these films in its 10 Films to Watch This Fall list (or whatever they called that list).

So, go if you want, but remember, you have been warned by others. Of course that didn't stop some of you from going to see Van Helsing, now did it?

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Newsweek's Summer movie reader survey

According to the August 23 issue of Newsweek online users of their website have rated the 5 best and 5 worst movies of the soon-to-end movie season.

#1 with almost 30 percent of the vote is "Spiderman 2." I am rather partial to this movie, so I heartily concur--plus I admit that I have only been to a few of the movies this summer, this being one of them.

#2 is interesting; "Fahrenheit 9/11" won 20 percent of the vote to secure the second spot. What may be more interesting is that Newsweek described the movie this way:
"The most relevant, emotional, courageous--and necessary--movie of the summer. .
. . It fired up an important dialogue. Disne wouldn't release this, but it would release 'The Alamo'?"
I don' disagree that the movie has relevance, is emotional, and requires courage. But is it necessary only when compared the the likes of "White Chicks" and "Van Helsing" or is it necessary because it brings dangerous actions to light? Newsweek should clarify itself a bit here.

What were the worst movies?

#1 . . . "Catwoman!" I can't see a reason to disagree, but I wonder if the had to make press release on this story before "Alien vs. Predator" was screened.

#2 "Fahrenheit 9/11." Described as:
"What a load of crap this movie was. As if his noxious, bilious Oscar speech
wasn't enough, Michael Moore had to subject us to this patently biased,
misleading hate-fomercial aimed at unseating George Bush. We'll pick our own
presidents thanks,"
See what they did there? I had reasoned arguments to raise and then I realize that the magazine played me for a sucker.

Oh well, I'm going to bed. But not before I tell you that "Van Helsing" did make the list at #5.

Our recent trip to Chicago

A few weeks ago the family went to Chicago for a family reunion.

The whole crew--Tegan, Ariel, Ruth and I--enjoyed our visit. I had never been to Chicago proper before and had an enjoyable afternoon at Navy Pier.

My main goal, other than visiting with in-law family members, was to go to Frontera Grill which we got to do. I ordered and enjoyed the Quesadillas NorteƱas - flour tortillas folded over melted Amish handmade cheese and grilled shrimp with smoky, spicy chipotle peppers. It was served with black beans and young greens. A nice meal that tasted good but wasn't INCREDIBLY good or anything.
I don't remember what Tegan ate, but she did like it. We sat outside during Chicago lunch hour and relaxed a bit without the kids. We finished it up with the Chocolate Pecan Pie, which was topped with homemade Creme Fresh and was probably better than the meal.

I have been watching Rick Bayless' cooking show for several years and really wanted to eat at his restaurant. It was good, but wasn't a 1000 times better than less famous Mexican restaurants I have been to. That, of course, doesn't mean it wasn't good, it just wasn't overwhelmingly great.

Scrabble freaks

Good morning to everyone out there.

I just read a brief Slate article on the national Scrabble tournament that is going on now.

It made me think of odd things that I do in my head and I wonder if others do similar things.

I don't construct anagrams internally and certainly not in the situations that the author is describing, but I do semi-automatically break down words into their proper alphabetical order.

You know, when I see the word McDonalds on a highway sign, I'll twist it around in my brain to be acddlmnos. Maybe for kicks I'll even try to pronounce it (in my head).

Is that odd?

Some slight updating

I have made a few stylistic change to the page tonight, some easy and some not very easy.

I was finally able to follow the instructions to download the Hello program that lets me post picture on my page. See the gloriously awful image from the upcoming movie Alexander for proof of image creativity.

Unfortunately, I can only log into the program at home. Whenever I try to do it at work (during my lunch break of course) I am unable to sign on and am therefore unable to do picture posting while eating my lunch sandwich. So, I'll have to do more image stuff at home, which is a shame since my computer speed at home ain't that great. But eventually I'll add a classic DTM picture to my page and you'll all be happy that I put forth the effort.

I also added the newly-offered navigation bar at the top of the page. So now you can search within my site to find important phrases like work sucks, meme, Entertainment Weekly, television, or other phrases that I might likely use. Just don't expect such phrases as I love spinach, I hate Alias, or other unlikely word combinations. Feel free to suggest your own phrases that I would or would not type.

To do this, you can use the handy comment feature, which caused some problems last week, but I adjusted it and now is available to everyone. I am trying to use one of Blogger's not-so helpful sets of directions that will allow me to change the way comments are displayed on the page, but it involves changing HTML codes, which I am not comfortable doing. I am sure that I would screw something up and all of the valuable work that I put forward on this site (all 4-5 days of it!) would get screwed up. Maybe someone can help me or maybe I'll learn to live with it as it is.

Monday, August 16, 2004

That Oliver Stone movie about Alexander


I am almost speechless with the image that Entertainment Weekly served up on their webpage listing 10 movies they are anticipating for the fall movie season.

LOOK AT THIS THING!!!

So many things wrong. First Colin Farrell looks more like Wham-era George Michael than any educated guess on what Alexander himself looked like. And is that Val Kilmer back there? I at first thought it was Kevin Kline.

It just looks awful.
Posted by Hello

Another of my favorite things

Slate runs an occasional article on advertising, which is another of my favorite things. I just ran across this article on Skippy peanut butter's new ad campaign. I haven't seen the ad yet, but for the entire article, click here.

The ad sounds intriguingly bad, but the best part of the article is here:

"Skippy is targeting stoners. I think this is by far the most plausible explanation. My friend (who may or may not have been stoned himself—I make no assumptions) says he saw this ad at around 2:00 a.m. on the Cartoon Network. And I found a chat-board post about the ad from someone who says he saw it at 3:30 a.m. during a Conan rerun. First of all, why show the ad at these hours if the target is children? Second, I ask you this: What do high people love? Late-night television. What else do they love? Snacks. And? Freaky animation with talking animals, like Fritz the Cat and stuff. Finally, where does dancehall come from? Jamaica! See what I mean? If Skippy signs Harold and Kumar, we'll know for certain. And we'll also know what Trish Zenobi means by "pure, unadulterated fun."

The jury is still out on the sound business practice of this kind of marketing. I also particularly enjoyed the pathetic way that corporate people try to sound hip when they are composing press releases that they somehow assume teenagers are going to read.

**************************************************

In other news, I have been informed that R.E.M.'s next album, entitled Around the Sun will be released in the U.S. on October 5. The band has released a snippet of the first single, which will probably be out in some radio areas this week. The song is entitled "Leaving New York" and doesn't sound great in my opinion--though I've only heard 25 seconds one time.

I, to this point, have no idea why the album was named thusly, nor why the single is called that. One may hope it is not some misguided paean to the victims of 9/11 or something like that.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Things that make you go hmmm at the Olympics

I was watching Mulan down in the basement with Ariel so I missed the first hour of the Olympics from Greece.

I did turn it on just as the "operatic" part of the Opening Ceremonies were ending and right before the boring, but fashionable Parade of Nations segment of the nights entertainment. So, I missed most of the Cirque de Soliel allegory stuff . . . but I did get to notice a few things.

1. The Athens Olympic Committee wasn't kidding when they warned that the venues might not get done in time. There was a huge puddle of water in the middle of the stadium! How are they gonna do the high jump when they can't run?

2. I did get to see the weird ET phone home moment at the end where the pregnant lady's uterus begins glowing. I think Bob Costas said something about how this was supposed to represent the possibilites for the future, but I am not sure how he said it without supressing a huge laugh. Then to make matters worse, all these bright lights started swirling around and whammo, a DNA double-helix! I am sure that the family of the late Francis Crick is gratified for the Olympic shout-out, but still . . .
Aren't there strange political/abortion-rights implications in all of this or have I been living in the United States for too long? Don't worry though . . . Katie Couric ensured the viewing audience that it all had something to do with the unity of mankind.

Do you hear that al-Qaeda? We are ONE! The DNA confirms it!

Tom Cruise takes a holiday

Another of my coworkers, Flipper just alerted me to some sad news. Julia Childs has died at the age of 91.

I felt close to Julia because I watch cooking shows and I have made coq au vin once. I also feel sad that, according to CNN.com, her publisher, made the announcement. That bothers me, that a human being with at least some family somwhere, leaves it up to the business partner to let the world know of a death.

But, the real news here is to further my theory that Tom Cruise is a killing machine, not only in his recent movie Collateral, but in real life also.

My theory goes something like this:

1. Tom and Nicole divorce.
2. Nicole fairly quickly wins an Oscar, driving Oscarless Tom crazier than normal.
3. Tom begins his quest to become the most dominant force in Hollywood by systematically killing off all of Hollywood. (Remember that several months ago, a new celebrity was dying almost every week? Sure many of them were old, but Tom was new to the killing game and he is pretty short.)

So, did Cruise kill Julia?
No . . . why would he?
My money is on Jacques Pepin as the killer. He was tired of being the French chef living in Julia's shadow.

what the . . .?

Yesterday I noticed something at work that made me double-take.

In the bathroom, there was someone on their cell phone while "multi-tasking" (if you catch my meaning).

I mean, really . . . are you that important that you can't give yourself and the person on the end of the line the courtesty of a brief pause? (I hope and pray that the individual in question was only checking voicemail or some other suitably anonymous task.)

But, this is one reason why people hate cell phones.

And speaking of people who hate cell phones, check out my coworker Lulu's freshly minted blog. Though she did it specifically to hack me off and spout her opinions, I am honor bound to reference her site.
She did it for me, you see, but I was kind enough to provide a handy link.

Slate says GDP is economic destiny

(Slate) Economists predict who will get the gold in Athens.

To further the theme of the Olympics today, see the article linked above from Slate.com.

I want to know what the Bush administration is doing to ensure America's Olympic supremacy?
Someone sick Dick Cheney on the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Iraq wins . . . and other stuff

(ESPN) Blood, sweat and cheers: Let freedom ring

So the Olympics have started and here is one of the first salvos arguing that the Games are more than sports. Are they a weird combination of sports, national pride, and global unity? Or are they a media-event controlled by aristocrats and corporations?

I wonder if President Bush will use this soccer victory to justify the war?

Speaking of Bush . . . on "The Daily Show" last night, one of the authors of a book calledAll the President's Spin was on. He also works at the website spinsanity.com. John Steward absolutely LOVES this book. Check it out on Amazon or request a copy from your local library. The claim is that the Bush team has combined the Reagan administration's skill at creating visual photo ops with the Clinton administration's ability of rapid response spin and created the ultimate method to overwhelm and control the daily media message. Interesting, but the book sounds like an interesting read.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

some thoughts on Scrubs

One of my favorite websites is teevee.
Recently the writers there wrote an open letter to one of my favorite shows--Scrubs.

I have not yet been able to understand why NBC has treated Scrubs in the fashion that it has. It seems pretty clear, based on evidence that the network has, for many years now, struggled to successfully develop new television programming. This is not only NBC's problem, certainly, but it is particularly glaring at NBC because they have been successful for many years. ABC would love to be in NBC's shoes right now, development troubles or not.

Anyway, Scrubs is one of NBC's few bright spots over the past few years. The show has a good cast that meshes well together. But the Peacock has insisted on moving Scrubs around and around, from night to night, so that no one knows when its going to be on. Or the network puts the show on mini-hiatus for weeks while they force "super-sizing" Friends on an unsuspecting public.

Well, NBC executives had better watch it, because Zach Braff (Dr. John "J.D." Dorian) is beginning to get his own little career started. I haven't seen his debut film Garden State yet, but I have heard many good things--good acting, good soundtrack, etc.

I am not arguing that Braff is the straw that stirs the "Scrubs" drink, but if NBC doesn't start treating the show right, Mr. Braff will move on to something else and then the rest of the cast will go elsewhere also.

That would be a shame, because NBC would probably replace the show with Donald Trump hosting a contest between salesmen competing over who can sell more peanuts to elephants.

Up and Running

It's day number one and I've already made a mistake!

Creating my blog, I chose the wrong title at first. Luckily I hadn't posted anything yet, so no harm done and I am sure that no one read the first post that was quickly yanked into oblivion as the first blog was deleted.

But now the ship has been righted and everything is fine.

If anyone ever reads this, I'll someday explain the title, which leads into many different explanations of many other things.

But this is only day one, so I had better pace myself.