Thursday, September 27, 2007

And the verdict is . . .

I don't have a good ultrasound picture to post here, but I can tell you that yesterday Lynda and I took the girls to "Tiny's" 20-week ultrasound.

Grace and Sarah were into it briefly, but this ultrasound is more detailed than most--lots of bone measurements, skull circumference measurements, heart development inspection, etc. And since the ultrasound has a less than picture perfect quality, the kids began losing interest at the beginning. I was trying to pay attention, always judging the tone and demeanor of the doctor, trying to anticipate the discovery of a problem of some kind, wondering what that imaginary problem might be and how she would begin describing it to us.

Luckily, the development of Tiny is going well and there are no problems to report.

Of course, for parents, one of the main reasons for this ultrasound is to determine gender, which we did want to know. The doctor took her time examining things and, in the end, determined that we will be having a girl.

I heard this news and immediately began thinking about how to announce this news, always with an eye for the way in which my announcing it will affect people's judgement. When you say "We're having another girl," the another implies a diminishment which I don't want to imply..

So, we're having a girl! And her name is Hannah Maria.

Sarah and Grace are both happy. They both said they wanted a sister. Lynda and I both thought it likely that Tiny would be a girl. In fact, Lynda told me that Grace had asked her the other day that if we found out that it was a boy, she would ask God to make it a girl. So, Grace has powerful friends.

Anyway, I need to get back to work. (I've got lots of weddings to save up for . . .)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Happy Anniversary Flight 815?

Calendar wise, Oceanic Flight 815 crashed into the mysterious unknown three years ago this past Saturday.

To commemorate, please enjoy this montage video that combines all of the flight footage we've been given through three seasons of episodes--all sequenced together in what (we can only guess) is the correct order.

New episodes of Lost begin in February--but a new podcast from the show's executive producers is available here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

CW Fall TV premiere

I'm trying to get the energy up to do justice the the last network that I'm going to report on--the CW. The network, which was a combination of the WB and UPN last year is on the second year of it's new experiment. As with last year, the shows that are keeping the network up and running are it's old favorites--"Smallville" (a personal favorite of mine, naturally) and "America's Next Top Model" (which I'm told is a show full of fierceness and not much in the way of dead eyes.

But, there are some other shows on the CW this year that just might make people pay attention. Hopefully I can shake off the lack of energy I'm feeling after driving to Chicagoland and back in two days and get this last network review done and move on with my life--especially since Premiere is now upon us and I've been waiting until the last minute to get this all done. Thanks for sticking around with me and I hope my paltry reviews can give you some help in determining what new shows you might give a chance to this year.

(As always, you can catch up with my previous reviews of NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox.)

Reaper (Tuesdays @ 9 pm)--You know what we need more of on television? We need more Satan. Sure, you could say that one of the Devil's finest moments was persuading some NBC executive to greenlight "Whoopi" a few years ago, but since then, the Prince of Darkness hasn't had much of a presence on the Boob Tube (though I bet he watches a lot of "The Girls Next Door." Anyway, Beelzebub is coming back onto television, in a stylish new show called "Reaper." In this show, a 21-year-old slacker discovers that his parents sold his soul when he was a baby, which explains why they never seemed to care much that he was always an underachiever. So now, he's in a weird position of being Satan's bounty hunter and now Satan has to try and whip this lazy kid into evil shape. I've heard a bit of good buzz about this show--probably centered around Ray Wise, the Hey It's That Guy! actor that plays the Devil. Who wouldn't want to play the Devil, right? Fun!

Gossip Girl (Wednesdays @ 9 pm)--Nobody knows more about using a blog to dish the dirt on the rich, famous, and influential than I do. I know things about people that, if I choose to publish it, could blow the lid off several small groups of people for at least a few minutes. But, I choose to use my power and knowledge for good rather than for evil. Of course, I never lived a privileged life of a hipster preppy at an exclusive private school. If you take the insider voice overs of "Heathers" and the snobby lives of the Sarah Michelle Geller version of "Dangerous Liaisons," you're getting close to what "Gossip Girl" is all about. This is another show that the critics seem to be in love with. I've read that it brings back the guilty fun of watching Beverly Hills 90210 (another show I never watched). But, expect a lot of good looking kids in fancy clothes, acting nastily and privileged.

Online Nation (Sundays @ 7:30)--if you don't want to watch football on Sundays, this show might be mildly diverting. But, VH1 and E! have sort of cornered the market of these shows that televise the zeitgeist's most amusing new clips and web-based stunts.

Aliens in America (Monday Oct. 1 @ 8:30)--I'm really afraid that this is going to be another "Perfect Strangers." It sounds like it could be spectacularly bad.

Life is Wild (Sunday Oct. 7 @ 8 pm)--This show looks and feels like "Wildfire" and some other basic cable shows that feature hard to handle teens in exotic locations. I'm not interested, but I want to give you readers all the shows available for your viewing pleasure or rejection.

So, there you go everyone.

For better (and much worse) you've got this year's Fall TV Preview posts. If you want more, better information on all that's new and all the returning shows that I didn't touch, check out Entertainment Weekly's helpful graphics.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

FOX Fall TV Preview

For the other networks that I have reviewed so far--NBC, ABC, CBS--there haven't been too many new shows coming during the fall season. But Fox is different. As I begin preparing for this post, I log into the Fox website and noticed that they have a great deal of new shows, which I am going to try to review while not being sucked into the awfully manipulative "Kid Nation." (For more on "KN" check you the CBS preview that I posted last time.

NOTE--Fox has already started their shows, so I am giving you the regular night and time.

"Back to You" (Wednesdays @ 8 pm) features the return of former stars on new shows. Kelsey Grammer ("Cheers" and "Frasier") plays a TV anchor who tried to make the big time, failed by saying a curse word on the air, and had to slink back to the small town news. His co-anchor is Patricia Heaton ("Everybody Loves Raymond"). So, he's pompous, she's brittle and long-suffering. Both roles sound familiar to what they've done before. It might be funny, but it might be ordinary.

"Kitchen Nightmares" (Wednesdays @ 9 pm) follows the continuing anger management issues of Chef Gordon Ramsey. His previous show "Hell's Kitchen" was a reality show that boiled down to him yelling at a group of chef-wannabees when they scorched the soup. But in "Kitchen Nightmares" Ramsey brings his brand of cheffing into the actual functioning kitchens of actual restaurants. He'll still yell, but will the chefs on the receiving end of his British snit accept it with good grace or toss him out like last night's leftover salmon?

"K-ville" (Mondays @ 9 pm) is a police drama set in modern-day New Orleans--hence the name "K-ville" which is current slang for Katrina-ville. The focus of the series is the dedicated, understaffed, overwhelmed police force that is trying to bring order back to the the chaos of a major city destroyed by a hurricane. The police characters are various in their temperaments and personalities, but they have cool nicknames like "Glue Boy" and "Love Tap." If I was a hipper individual, I'd know more about who they were based on those intriguing clues.

"Nashville" (Fridays @ 9 pm) is a "docu-soap" following the professional ups and downs of a group of young people trying to make it in the Nashville, TN music scene. Some are recently signed to music deals and have their friends there helping out or hanging on. There are some that experiencing career slips and are determined not to give up on their dreams. Etc. If you like country music and you have enjoyed shows like "Laguna Beach" this show might be right up your alley.

"The Next Great American Band" (Friday Oct. 19 @ 8 pm). Think American Idol but for a band.

Other shows that are listed as Fall TV shows, but are actually COMING SOON--

Anchorwoman--ex model and ex-WWE diva Lauren Jones is given a real job as a real news anchor in real town Tyler, Texas. (I actually know people that recently moved there. Wonder how they feel about having their news organizations hijacked for "entertainment" purposes?
Canturbury's Law--another lawyer show, notable for the acting skills of Julianna Marguilles ("ER").
New Amsterdam
--sounds a lot like a mashup of CBS's "Moonlight" (eternal life) and NBC's "Journeyman."
The Return of Jezebel James--Gilmore Girls writer, creator, producer Amy Sherman-Palladino returns to TV with a show that asks if two estranged sisters can get along when they live together . . . and oh, yeah, one is carrying the other one's baby. Fun!
Unhitched--It's a show about dating, but I LOVE the description on the website, so please forgive me while I cut and paste: "Dating is like going to the farmers market – if you get there early, there’s plenty of fruit, all ripe, juicy and yours for the taking. That’s dating in your 20s. But if you get there at closing time, it’s a completely different story. What little fruit is left has been sitting in the sun all day. It’s been dropped, squeezed and handled by a thousand different people. That’s dating in your 30s." Produce metaphors!
The Sarah Connors Chronicles--Yes, it's that Sarah Connors. If you've ever imagined what she did in the cracks and holes left from the three movies, well, now is your chance to agree or disagree.
When Women Rule the World--What might be the most intriguing show on Fox is hard to decide when it'll be on the air. It's a reality show where women are put in charge of men who are used to being in charge. (What man isn't, right fellas? Fellas? Hello?) But really, the men are in competition to be the last man standing. Whomever acceded to the demands of the ruling women the best will (presumably) be the winner. I'd think of something snarky to say here, but . . .

So, Fox is confusing. What shows are in rotation and which one's aren't? Are the coming soon shows waiting in the wings to replace failures? Did Fox just have lots of money to spend? I'm not sure, but since I don't watch Fox hardly at all, I don't think I'll worry that much.

Next up . . . the CW.

Monday, September 17, 2007

CBS Fall TV Preview

Well, with a week to go until most networks begin showing their new shows for the Fall TV season, I guess I'd better get on with it.

If you're coming in late to this series of posts, you can read my take on NBC's and ABC's newest shows before you read tonight's thoughts on CBS.

While I'm waiting for you to review the previous posts, let me say a few words about CBS in general. Of the major networks, it has always been third place for me over the years. It always seems to program itself a decade or so older than me. I dabbled with "Survivor" early on, but I've never been a committed fan by any stretch. I did watch "CSI" for several seasons, but something turned off in me last year and I simply didn't watch. Right now, the only show on CBS that I am interested in is "How I Met Your Mother," which is going into it's third season. I have not watched the show consistently, mostly because it comes on at 8 pm on Mondays and I never get done with my parenting duties in time to watch. So, I am catching up on Netflix and have enjoyed it. I recommend that show to you, but for the rest of the Returning show, I haven't got much to say.

If you're all caught up, let's get to it.

The new show for CBS on Monday night is "The Big Bang Theory." (Monday Sept. 24 @ 8:30 pm) This show is about two geek roommates that know lots about quantum mechanics (natch) but don't know anything about girls. Will their super hot female neighbor--getting over a breakup herself--teach these dorks about love? Having watched 30 seconds of the preview video, I can report that the two geeks are named Sheldon and Leonard (sigh), that when the inevitable hook up occurs between the hot chick and one of the dorks, it'll be with Sheldon, because he's taller. (Johnny Galecki's Leonard exists to be the "angry nerd" with a height complex and a bit more worldly wisdom.) And, of course, the nerds have an Indian friend, but he's not named Kumar. Any further thoughts about "The Big Bang Theory" being a double entendre is best left unsaid.

If you like your new TV to do down a bit more mellow, might I suggest "Cane" (Tuesday Sept. 25 @ 10 pm). This is CBS's big attempt to get star power into their lineup because it's the return of Jimmy Smits to television, a fact that is the first point the network makes on it's preview video. Smits is the head of a sugarcane family that uses that white gold to make rum. Smits proclaims that "rum is the new oil" in such a way as to give vague overtones of a Corleone family man. (I might agree with him if my car could run on rum or I could heat my house with rum.) But, being a (seemingly) ruthless patriarch of a agribusiness isn't enough. He also has the sorts of family problems that we all face. So, he's probably down to earth also.

The CBS show with the most buzz going into it's premiere has to be "Kid Nation" (Wednesday Sept. 18 @ 8 pm--THAT'S THIS WEDNESDAY). This is a reality shows that describes itself, rather pithily, as "40 children, 40 days, no adults. Can they do it? Can they build a better world than grown-ups would?"

So, what do you think? Should we kick the adults out of Washington and let the kids take over? Or should CBS be vilified for this show concept?

"Moonlight" (Friday Sept. 28 @ 9 pm) is about as far from "Kid Nation" as you might care to get. It follows the travails of Mick St. John, a private investigator who once had a bad honeymoon sixty years ago. But St. John is not some grizzled old P.I. like a aged Jim Rockford. Nope, St. John is a vampire and he became a vampire thanks for a fateful bite from his bride when they married back after World War II. (I guess the dame had some great gams to go with those fangs?) So, St. John straddles the gritty world of a private eye and the moldy world of the undead. And he's in love with a mortal woman--who probably doesn't know that he's a vampire, but if it survives to sweeps week, she might be finding out. It's on after "Ghost Whisperer." Can you feel the synergy?

Finally, there is "Viva Laughlin" (Sunday October 21 @ 8 pm). This show is an Americanized version of a British show I've never heard of called "Viva Blackpool." The idea is that our hero is trying to live the American Dream, which to him entails building and running a casino in Laughlin, Nevada. Lloyd Owen stars as Ripley Holden (Hold'em?), former "Twin Peaks" alum Madchen Amick as the wife, I think . . . and Melanie Griffith as someone unfortunately named Bunny Baxter. But what you really need to know is that 1) the show is executive produced by Hugh Jackman, 2) he has a recurring role as a guy named Nicky Fontana, and 3) the show is described as "Part drama, part thriller, part musical (!!)" Count me out.

So, that's it for the new Fall shows. If you want more information, check out the official CBS website.

Next, up . . . FOX.

Swingset, final

We finished the swingset on Saturday morning, just in time for the first breath of Autumn to roll into our backyard. The picture above is Friday night, when I still had a few items to finish. I got those installed the next morning in the morning chill. That's why the kids are wearing coats in the video below.

I am glad it's over. The three to six hour project took Lynda and I seven days of intermittent work to complete. I am guessing that it lasted around twelve to fifteen hours in the end, but I am happy.

As you can also see below, the kids and I have reached an agreement about what is expected of them.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Swingset, part three

It's hour 12 or 13 or who knows what hour of the "three to six hour" project that began on Labor Day.

Things are progressing, as I hope you can tell. I've attached vertical slats to the inside of the observation tower and Lynda and I added the plastic canopy to make it weatherproof. You can't see in the twilight, but I have hung the two swings and even attached the plastic "climbing wall" that provides access to the observation tower deck.

Once it started to get dark and the mosquitos began to threaten, we went inside to get the kids to bed. And then Lynda and I spent the next two-and-a-half hours attaching the two halves of the slide together.

We had about half of the bolts threaded and secured before we noticed that the nuts were being pulled through the pre-drilled holes connecting the bottom and top half of the slide. So . . . what were we doing wrong? Turns out, we needed to place two washers on either side of the bolts. So, we had to undo all of the bolts we'd already completed and recomplete them.

It was hard and I am tired.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

# of the Beast!

FINALLY, I have discovered why I am valuable when the Apocalypse comes.

But first, a bit of background . . .

My lunchtime colleagues and I sometimes play a game, discussing what each of us will do when The Apocalypse comes and why we will have special skills to contribute to the safety of the group. For instance, Perk (before he moved to Utah and doomed the remaining to starvation) always had large stores of non-perishable food in his basement. We were either going to maintain a solid friendship with Perk to ensure that he would distribute said food among his family and friends (us) or we would good-naturedly raid his food stores when the time was right. Lulu was/is? building a homestead off the grid in the Plains that will be a good home base and isolated enough for good planning and preparation.

But, what about me? My best skills (television criticism, internet viewing, blogging, podcast-listening) are all electric dependent. I'm moderately funny, but could I keep up the humor long enough to prevent everyone making me lunch when Perk's stores run out?

Well, thanks to my pre-Apocalypse hobby of podcast listening, I now have a creditable post-Apocalypse skill that is valuable.

I know the TRUE Number of the Beast! (And no, it's NOT 666.)

Now that I know this, I will be armed with knowledge that can keep my friends and family safe from the roving bands of demonic zombies and hell spawn that will surely infect a post-Apocalyptic Earth.

How do I know this? According to Radio Lab, a podcast that I have mentioned before, archaeologists who dig through ancient trash dumps have uncovered a scrap of ancient Greek, a copy of segment of the Book of Revelations that refers to the number as follows:

"Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six." (Revelations 13:18, New American Standard Bible)

Well, the RadioLab story claims that this number isn't the original. I quote from the podcast, directly here--

Jad Abumrad [host]: Derek showed me a piece of papyrus that he found in the dump, about the size of your palm . . . a copy of precisely that passage in the New Testament where the number is stated. Now here's the thing. This little scrap of papyrus that Derek turned up is the earliest known copy that we have of that passage. He showed me the three numbers that are smack in the middle of the papyrus--chi, iota, stigma--should say 666 . . . but in fact chi, i0ta, stigma DON'T say 666.

Robert Krulwich [co-host]: They don't? What do they say?

JA: 6 . . . 1 . . . 6.\

RK: NO! Really? Does that mean ALL the bibles are wrong?

JK: Maybe. All we really know is that the Number of the Beast had versions . . . and that 616 may be the original.

So, there you have it. And, no . . . you can't use this to usurp my post-Apocalyptic power. What if I didn't tell you the truth?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fall TV mea culpa

I know that I have teased all you faithful readers out there with two entries in my Fall TV Preview posts.

But, after discussing NBC and ABC I ground to a halt.

The fact that I've been trying to complete my swingset is not, I know, a valid excuse.

I should be working on my CBS preview now, but instead I spend my time telling you about my lack of completion.

So, I'll try to get back on it tomorrow, I promise.

CBS is up next . . . so get ready for some thoughts on Kid Nation and other stuff that doesn't involve Two and a Half Men.

While you wait, go backwards and reread the NBC and ABC previews again. It'll be just as fun and insightful the second time around.

The eye's don't have it

This past weekend, Lynda, Sarah, and I had eye exams. I was supposed to have mine a few weeks ago, but I had to reschedule to accommodate some child care duties.

So, we headed to Worthington to do all the eye measurements, prescription verification, and basic checkups that we go through every year.

My eyes have a long and sordid history of crapitude, which I might have mentioned before at this space. For many years as a kid I experienced double vision but I honestly didn't think that much about it. My brain managed to merge the images into one and I simply didn't think that much about it. But when I was about eighteen, my ability to manage the split images seemed to get worse and I wasn't able to cope with it well. So, I told mom and dad about it. After they got over their surprise, we went to Macon to see a specialist. He explained that my ability to compensate for the double vision had worsened as I had aged and so he suggested that we try surgery to reposition my right eye. (My right eye was the source of the problem, since it doesn't point straight ahead, thereby creating two angles of sight--hence the double images.) The doctor thought that by repositioning the muscles that move the eye, it might pull the right orb into the correct position.

It turned out to be a in-house type of surgery, something that didn't require hospitalization. It was literally done in the exam chair, with local anesthesia. It felt something like that creepy scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruise's character has his eyes replaced by the scuzzy Russian doctor. Of course, my experience was much more hygienic and safe, but looking back on it, it seems a bit off. Anyway, the surgery didn't work--which the doctor had warned was a likely possibility.

So, ever since then I've been managing the problem with a prism in my right glasses lens, which helps bend the light downward, cancelling the different angle of my eyeball. It isn't a perfect solution, but it has helped--though I still experience double vision, especially when I'm tired or stare at something for a long time.

So, anyway, that's one of my eye problems.

But on Saturday, I found out that I've got another one . . . a cataract is developing in my right eye. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens that sits behind the iris and focuses the light onto the retina. Naturally, it is not common for someone of my relative youth (35) to be developing cataracts, but it's me, right?

For now, the plan is to combat the gradual fuzzing of image quality (when it becomes noticeable, which isn't yet really) with more prescription adjustments and other mechanical means. It might be necessary some day down the road to resort to surgery, removal of the faulty lens and replacement with an artificial lens. It's a very common, very safe, and pretty simple surgery, so I'm not worried. Who knows when the time for that will come. It is likely years away, but it's coming.

But don't be surprised if my post's someday look like this.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

More about the swingset

Lynda and I continued to work on the swingset this afternoon, but we didn't get it completed like I'd hoped.

By the way, the instructions claim that you can construct the entire structure and get all the doo-dads up and ready to play in three to six hours.

I estimate that I am at least on hour six by now, day two, and can only say that the entire main structure is built and connected together.
I STILL have to 1. build the climbing slope (which will go on the left side up to the deck), 2. attach the climbing net and other climbing wall (which are jutting out from the left side into the back or are attached to the back of the tower, 3. attach the slide, 4. connect all of the vertical slats that enclose the observation deck, 5. hang the swings, 6. build the canopy cover above the tower . . . and then it'll be done!

I figure that'll take me another three to six hours? I guess you have to be a master carpenter to get it done in the time allotted? While I (and Lynda) are certainly not that, we have stuck in there and made admirable progress. Yesterday's efforts were, admittedly hard, but I attribute a lot of that to the heat and humidity. It was a bit (just a bit) cooler today once the mornings rains left. I am hopeful that by next weekend, all will be finished and the kids will be playing their hearts out.

And, in case you wondered whether we know what we're doing, check THIS picture out!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Swingset . . .

Well, I started work on the swingset project today.

I didn't think I would get a lot done since it was supposed to rain, but the bad weather held off nicely until it was getting dark and it was time for me to go in for dinner anyway.

But, I managed to construct the tower and the mid-level deck today, which I hope was the most complicated part of the project.

Here is the completed tower, in place where the old swingset used to be. Tomorrow I'll finish the side rails on the tower and start putting together the swing apparatus and the A-frame joist on the opposite side of the tower. Then there are all the accessories to attach like a steering wheel, a climbing net, a rock wall to put together, etc, etc.

And here is a fun video to give you a flavor of what I'm like when I'm struggling with drills and screws and 90+ degree weather with stifling humidity. (There is a bit of salty language here, so kids . . . "earmuffs!")

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dylan wants you to!

(Of course, Bob Dylan cares nothing about WWYG?! But, that won't stop him from promoting me!)

Labor(ing) Day

My Labor Day weekend was a social one.

I threw a bit of a party for some lucky coworkers and friends on Saturday. We stayed outside almost exclusively and greatly enjoyed a large amount of fine food and wonderful breezy, sunny weather. The girls were, as always, excellently behaved and my party goers were kindly indulgent to their desire to show off and be a part of the fun.

On Sunday, we were unexpectedly invited to a church friend's house for another cookout and spent another day hanging out in a backyard, enjoyed grilled food while the kids played. Good times indeed.

Yesterday, we decided to buy a fancy wooden swingset/playset to replace our 1970s era swingset that we inherited with the house. In order to save $450 we (rashly?) decided that we (I, to be clear) would be able to put this thing together. Please note that we bought the one where all the wood was precut. If I had to do the precise cutting beforehand, we would NOT have considered the option of self-assembly.

So, after three trips to Andersons--one to purchase and realize we didn't have enough room in the back of our stationwagon, one to bring home the three boxes of wood and doo-dads, and one to bring home nine 4 x 8 posts--we spend the rest of the afternoon dismantling the old swingset and taking it's disassembled carcass to the curb. (We discovered this morning that scavengers came by in the night and took all the tubes and the swings, and I say bravo. I'd rather someone use it than have it pile up on a garbage heap.)

So, now I need to start measuring, drilling, and assembling the new play set. Don't worry. I'll keep you all posted on my progress--with pictures, but probably not with audio, since you don't need to be subjected to the cursing that is certain to occur.