It's Bullet Sunday in the middle of Winter... except the sunny days and complete lack of snow makes if feel a lot more like Spring. I'm seriously starting to wonder if we're ever going to get a winter. Hope everybody in the Valley is fond of water shortages come Summer.
• Doodle! The "Google Doodles" are always interesting, but the Charles Addams birthday doodle from yesterday hit it out of the park...
The original cartoons were genius. Still are. And this was the perfect tribute. If your only experience with The Addams Family is the old television show and the Barry Sonnenfeld movies, then you owe it to yourself to check out the original cartoon collections. Not only are they funny as hell, but the artwork is absolutely beautiful. Even the most simple drawings have lush details and textures...
Besides, who doesn't love Uncle Fester?
• Taco! As the Doritos flavors keep getting more and more "extreme" I find myself liking them less and less. Nacho Cheese Doritos are so caked with cheese powder that you can barely taste the corn anymore. Which is why I'm such a big fan of the "retro" re-release of the original-flavor 1960's Taco Doritos. I thought they were going to be a temporary thing, but they keep showing up at the grocery store...
The flavor is nicely "taco-like" but not at all overwhelming. You can still taste the corn chip. They also make an incredible topper to a veggie taco salad. I have my fingers crossed that they continue to be popular so Frito-Lay will keep making them.
• Ojo! I've worn glasses for what seems like forever... but it's the "vitreous floaters" that are the real problem with my eyes. For those lucky enough not to know what "vitreous floaters" are, they're tiny particles floating around in the goo that's in the middle of your eyeball. They cast shadows on your retina which makes little blurry spots that move around your field of vision. Most of the time I don't notice them. But, as I get older, more and more of them are forming. This makes them more noticeable more often.
Every once in a while, I do an internet search to see if there's any new technology for dealing with the problem. Maybe they've found a laser than can vaporize the floaters. Or maybe there's a new medicine that can disintegrate them. But, alas, no. The only solution seems to be to suck the goo out of the middle of my eye and completely replace it with saline water. It sounds horrific. And dangerous. And I'm not nearly desperate enough to let somebody suck goo out of my eyeball. At least not yet.
But now the reality is setting in that one day I may actually be that desperate.
• Firm! I'm a fan of nearly all the early John Grisham books. They're not deep by any means, but they are darn good entertainment. The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Runaway Jury... all good fun. But it's The Firm (the first Grisham book I read) that I like the best. It was a really good story that had some genuine suspense built-in. Sure the Tom Cruise movie fucked all that up, but I still always wondered what happened to the characters in the book. Instead of that, I got this...
NBC Television has a new series called The Firm which picks up ten years after the FILM ended (not the book). And, despite starring the talented Josh Lucas, it's kind of a mess in the way it bounces around. Mitch McDeere is no longer on the run... he's just a lawyer with a sketchy past doing regular lawyer stuff (like most every other lawyer show on TV). In other words The Firm has become boring and unoriginal. Sure there's hints that things are going to ramp up, but in a totally redundant way. Mitch is involved with yet another evil law firm! Not enough of a retread? Oh yeah... here comes the mob. Again. What the hell? Oh well. It's not like I had time to fit a new show in my television-watching schedule anyway.
• Debate! The Republican Debate last night was... interesting. You get the sense that the candidates reeeeeally don't like each other. At all. Indeed the only thing they seem to hate more than each other is President Obama. I guess this is understandable, but they blow it way out of proportion. I'm not Obama's biggest fan by a longshot, but the level of blame they lay at his doorstep is categorically absurd. In many respects, President Obama is practically a Republican, so it's kind of senseless too. But I guess they gotta play to their voter base however they can, and demonizing Obama is a quick and easy way to do that.
The debate itself was pretty lame... but also a bit enlightening. Mitt Romney comes across as a huge dick when he fails at being clever, which is often. Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum bounces between being a disgruntled idiot and a whiny baby. Newt Gingrich is just plain bitter all the time. Rick Perry is just fucking stupid. Ron Paul is entertaining, but not always in a good way.
And then there's Jon Huntsman. The only current Republican candidate I can even fathom voting for. He's got Conservative sensibilities. He's got loads of experience in the international arena. He's personable and inspiring. He's smart, quick on his feet, and not overly-reactionary. In short... I honestly believe that he's the only GOP candidate that could move independent voters in a race against Obama. And yet... his own party seems to hate him. Probably because he's not Conservative to crazy enough extremes. It's a real shame too, because nobody else on that stage is going to woo the much-needed middle ground. If things keep going like they are, I guess we're getting four more years of ObamaNation.
Annnnd... I'm spent. Sometimes bullets can really take it out of a guy.
I first became a fan of Betty White while watching reruns of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Her character of Sue Ann Nivens was about the most beautifully messed-up thing I had ever seen on television, and any episode where she appeared was guaranteed to be a laugh riot.
This led to me watching game shows where Betty might appear, and her guest-spots on Match Game, Password, and many others became the stuff of legends.
After that, Betty became a bit of an obsession, and I'd watch anything she'd appear on. And yes, this included 180 episodes of The Golden Girls plus twenty-some-odd episodes of The Golden Palace. Probably because of all the things Betty has done, playing naive and innocent Rose Nylund was the most bizarre. It was not only opposite of what Betty White was like in real-life... but it was also opposite from most other characters she had played. The easy route would have been for her to take the role of man-obsessed sex-fiend Blanche Devereaux (which she was originally offered), but instead she went for the role that would be more of a challenge.
Though, I dare say that playing one of the sweetest, kindest people on earth wasn't too much of a stretch. Betty's tireless efforts on behalf of animals and other worthwhile organizations sets the bar for others to follow. And despite her having always been a bit raunchy, the fact that she is so widely known to be incredibly kind, caring, and generous makes it easy for me to be a huge, huge fan...
As you can imagine, I was very happy when she made such a huge comeback in recent years. Though, in reality, she never really went anywhere (as her massive IMDB page will show). To see legions of people loving on Betty as I had for decades is pretty amazing. That this newfound popularity led to even more fantastic appearances... such as her groundbreaking guest-hosting gig on Saturday Night Live... not to mention a new television show with Hot in Cleveland... is a Betty-fan's dream come true.
So Happy 90th Birthday to one of my favorite people on earth!
Here's hoping for many more birthdays, and many more years of doing what you do best... entertaining the world in a way few people have ever done!
If you want to help her celebrate, I can think of no better way than cruising YouTube for Betty White videos. That can bring a smile on even the worst days!
THE SNOWPOCALYPSE IS UPON US! SNOWMAGEDDON IS HERE! Grab that special someone and bundle up tight, because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Depp! People can say what they like, but nobody in cinema amazes me like Johnny Depp. The guy is absolutely talented... absolutely fearless... and absolutely brilliant. He can disappear into a role unlike anybody else, and owns any character he takes on. And this time it's yet another Tim Burton collaboration where he will be playing Barnabas Collins in the movie adaptation of Dark Shadows. This one image that's been released is enough to make me want to see this movie...
Just like it only took one image for me to want to see these movies...
I'll be the first to admit that not every film Johnny Depp signs onto ends up being great. But his performances are always interesting. It's hard to ask for anything more than that, so I'm always looking forward to his next performance.
• Sniffle! I tend to look at everything as a learning experience. Even having a cold. This time around I learned about a new tissue... COOL TOUCH KLEENEX...
It is awesome on a sore nose because it is, in fact, cool to the touch. And it feels great on your nose. I think it must be some kind of scent-free menthol-like substance that is body-heat activated. Or not. But however they make it happen, it's a pretty sweet advance in tissue technology, and the only tissue I'll be buying from now on.
• Must-See TV! I have to say, I am loving the new FOX television series The Finder, and that was totally unexpected given that it's a spin-off of Bones, which is a show I can't stand...
I could tell you what a terrific, quirky character Walter "The Finder" Sherman is (played by Geoff Stults) and how entertaining the stories are, but all I really need to say is that it has Michael Clarke Duncan in it. If you're looking for something a little different to watch this winter, this show may be worth a look. You can catch the last couple episodes streaming on the official FOX site.
• Netflix Streaming Movie of the Month! Lately I've been on a foreign movie binge and discovering some real gems. The latest is a wonderful French film called The Grocer's Son now streaming on Netflix...
After his father has a heart attack, a guy living in Paris returns to his family home in the countryside to help his mother with their store. His job is to drive a grocery van to small villages and remote homes so that the elderly people there can buy foodstuffs. After a while he begins to form a bond with his customers and his outlook on life starts to change. If you're looking for some "comfort cinema" this sweet story is worth watching.
• Netflix Streaming TV Series of the Month! The contemporary re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes by Steven Moffat and the BBC is currently streaming on Netflix. It is beyond brilliant, and I highly recommend giving it a look if you haven't already...
Like most shows from across the pond, Sherlock has stories, acting, and production values that are leagues above what typically passes for American television. Probably because each series only has three episodes. They put all their good ideas into small number of shows rather than trying to stretch everything out over 22 episodes like they do here.
• Cinematic Anticipation! There's been a movie hovering on the horizon that has me pretty excited. Now Robot and Frank has been unleashed at Sundance and the reviews have been pretty great...
I mean, come on, it's got Frank Langella playing a retired cat burglar who is given a robot to help around the house. But Frank discovers a much more interesting use for his robot pal... crime. As a premise, it doesn't get much better than that!
Annnnnd... scene. I need toast and jam.
After having a meltdown over the latest disgusting crap flying out of Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum's mouth, I decided to step away from the internet and watch some "safety television."
Usually this is old episodes of Veronica Mars or Friends or Buffy The Vampire Slayer... but Animal Planet was airing episodes of Too Cute! which is about as adorable as television gets...
AWWWWW! A baby sloth and his Teddy bear!
AWWWWW! Baby sloths hanging around!
AWWWWW! A baby sloth has a bath!
AWWWWW! A baby sloth goes for a walk!
AWWWWW! A baby puppy looks around!
AWWWWW! A baby newborn kitten tries to open his eyes!
AWWWWW! A baby puppy playing in the leaves!
AWWWWW! A baby puppy chewing on a pumkin!
AWWWWW! CUTE BABY PUPPIES!!!
AWWWWW! Baby kitten takes a walk!
There! All better! How can I not feel all warm and fuzzy after watching cute baby animals for hours!
So go fuck yourself Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum!
Time to grab your bullet-proof vest, because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Fool. I am not a fan of "April Fools' Day." Most of the pranks are pretty lame, stupid, and usually too obvious to "fool" anybody... especially the ones you find online. But Google has once again hit it out of the park with not one, but two amazingly well thought out and executed joke videos. Sure it's unlikely that anybody is going to be fooled, but they're still genius if you haven't seen them already...
• Leyner. I am not a fan of audio books. If I'm going to invest time in a book, I want to read it myself instead of having somebody read it to me. But I had a friend who was addicted to them, so every time we'd take a road-trip, he'd bring a bunch of them. I was never impressed enough to pay much attention. Except once. That would be the time that he popped in Et Tu, Babe by Mark Leyner into the cassette player and blew my mind. It was the single most awesome and bizarre thing I had ever heard...
After that, I was a diehard Mark Leyner fan, and kept up with all his genius that I could get my hands on... Tooth Imprints On a Corn Dog; I Smell Esther Williams; The Tetherballs of Bougainville; My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist; and now his latest... The Sugar Frosted Nutsack...
It's pretty insane... even for Leyner... but I still liked it. There's just nobody out there doing what he does the way he does it. But here's the thing... YOU HAVE TO GET THE AUDIO BOOK! Leyner reads all his books himself, and half of what makes his stuff so damn funny is his performance of the material. The shame is that Et Tu, Babe, which remains my favorite, is not available anymore. I keep hoping that Audible will add it since I only own it on cassette, but it's never shown up. Leyner is absolutely not for everyone... the guy is crazy-ass bizarre... but if you're looking for something different... really different... then the audio book might be worth a listen at your local library.
• Amazement. The season two debut was everything I was hoping for and more...
And if you're a fan of Tyrion Lannister on the show, you need to read an interview with the actor who portrays him, the amazing Peter Dinklage, in the New York Times.
• Eggo2. For the person who said Eggo Waffles were "gross" after I mentioned them yesterday, I would have to agree. Usually. Except... the NEW "Thick & Fluffy" Eggos that just came out are an entirely different animal. The honest truth? I prefer them to a lot of waffles I've had in restaurants...
So delicious. So not kidding. If you like waffles, give 'em a try.
Annnnnd... SCENE. No more bullets for you!
It's been a tough day. It's been a tough series of days.
And everybody knows that when the going gets tough, the tough get going... so I'm going to get going on this bottle of Jägermeister.
But before we start drinking:
Am I the only one who thinks that President Obama should consider himself very, very lucky that he met up with the Regular Universe Uhura instead of the Evil Mirror Universe Uhura?
She would cut a bitch for reals.
I have to admit... I love having a cool guy as president. Regardless of how I feel about Obama's politics, the idea of going back to having a wooden, tense, socially awkward president fills me with dread.
And I suppose that's my cue.
Drink Jäger and Prosper my friends.
For a long flight, my first concern is always comfort. With my 6'2" height, it can be a pretty big deal to be cooped up for 10-1/2 hours in a steel tube being hurled across the Atlantic Ocean when my legs are cramped up. But my frequent flier status allowed me a nice upgrade with plenty of legroom, so this wasn't an issue.
My second concern is time. 10-1/2 hours has to be spent doing something and, since I can't sleep on planes, it ain't going to be sleeping. Usually I just watch whatever movies they have available, but they were all films I'd already seen or wasn't interested in. Fortunately, I had purchased some iTunes programs to occupy my head during the trip.
And here's where I go bananas over television shows.
The Dutch Bitch and I were watching The Daily Show when Ricky Gervais was a guest. I'm a big fan of his, so I was really looking forward to his interview. Turns out he was there to pimp two shows... The Ricky Gervais Show and An Idiot Abroad. Much to my surprise, The Ricky Gervais Show ended up being animated. They took funny podcasts that Ricky made with his friends Steven Merchant and Karl Pilkington, and made them even funnier by turning them into cartoons...
Now, here's where things get interesting. The show does not really revolve around Ricky Gervais. It is totally centered around Karl Pilkington. And this frame from the intro tells you absolutely everything you need to know from the show...
Ricky and Steven get Karl to start talking about something, then wait to hear what hilarious things comes out of his mouth. And while Ricky and Steven waste no opportunity to tell Karl how stupid he is for how he thinks about stuff, I can honestly say that Karl Pilkington may be one of the most intriguing thinkers on the planet. His every word transcends logic to reach a level of genius that is absolutely mind-boggling...
I can't tell you how many times I had people staring at me because I kept busting out laughing at the show. It has to be one of the funniest things I've ever seen, and is easily one of the most entertaining shows ever made for television (well, not television, HBO).
I bought both seasons iTunes had available. The first season is gold. The second is even funnier. They are a steal in Standard Definition for $20 each (Hi-Def is a waste, as the cartoons are low-res). If you'd rather spend $0 to get a taste of the show, you can subscribe to The Ricky Gervais Show Podcast. New episodes from the third season start airing on HBO come this Friday.
But The Ricky Gervais Show was just the beginning.
Turns out that Ricky and Steven also created a travel show for Karl Pilkington where they send him around the world to see stuff so that he can "broaden his mind." The first season is all about having Karl visit the Seven Wonders of the World...
And here's where I get confused, because Karl Pilkington is exactly the kind of traveler I usually hate. He complains about everything and isn't happy with anything that isn't the same as it is back home. Ricky and Steven take full advantage of this by getting him into situations they know will freak him out. That's where the funny bits happen, though sometimes I just end up feeling sorry for the guy. Because even with the camera crew following him around and taking care of him, there are times he is clearly out of his depth. The culture shock is overwhelming to him, and forcing him into more and more crazy situations seems almost cruel. Like force-feeding him something he just can't fathom eating...
While he was in India, Karl got to experience something I long to see... the day of Holi. It's a remarkable Hindu festival of sheer joy and celebration that I have been dreaming of for decades. Brightly colored powders fill the air, and people of all ages, social status, and wealth join together in a giant two-day party. If I had a bucket list, Holi would easily be in my top five.
Karl, of course, didn't like it at all...
Instead of focusing on what a unique and amazing experience he's lucky enough to get to join in on, he focuses on his £70 trainers (sneakers) getting ruined. This immediately pisses me off, because people like this should just stay home. Stop traveling, because all you do is make it hard for the rest of us who love it.
All the complaining, disparaging comments, and idiocy would ordinarily turn me off in a big way. It's the reason I fucking hate the show The Amazing Race. But I find An Idiot Abroad to be absolutely fascinating. Karl Pilkington may be a crotchety Englishman who sums up his entire time in India by saying "I hated it"... but he's also decent, kind, and caring at heart. He so obviously doesn't mean to be offensive or irritating that it's hard to stay mad at him. There are several moments throughout the series where you catch glimpses of Karl trying his best to give it a go and embrace the culture, and it's what has me loving the show so much. In the afore-mentioned Holi celebration, people are pelting him with colors while he protests. But then you see a little girl who can't reach him, so he bends down and lets her dump color on his head...
I am guessing that there are a lot of moments like this but, since they aren't "funny," they get edited out of the show. Yet somehow they manage to keep just enough of Karl being a decent bloke to keep An Idiot Abroad from being a total disaster.
And then there's the sights...
On the flight home, I devoured all of Season One plus half of Season Two, and the time (literally) just flew by.
I give both An Idiot Abroad and The Ricky Gervais Show my highest possible recommendation...
And so ends my week of vacation and the wonderful thing that was Bitchsterdam 3.
I'm droppin' bullets like Benjamins, yo, because Bullet Sunday starts... now.
• Bitchsterdam. An overdue thank you to The DutchBitch for an awesome Bitchsterdam 3 blogger event. I've been to the Netherlands many times, but she managed to find some fantastic touristy stuff that I've never seen before... including a visit to the amazing Keukenhof gardens. Easily worth a ten-hour flight. Here's hoping she can be convinced to have Bitchsterdam 4! If, for no other reason, than I can attempt to use words like "geesteswetenschappen" in a sentence again...
It apparently means "humanities"... OR DOES IT?!? You just don't know!
• Superiority. And speaking of DutchyLand... I fully accept that the United States of America is the greatest country in the world and all those other freedom-hating backwater countries don't matter and have nothing to contribute. I mean... I kind of have to don't I? The minute an American even implies that other countries are relevant to world affairs and have wonderful cultural contributions to be made, FOX "News" will brand them an American-hating traitor. And heaven forbid that you happen to be the president and have an appreciation for other countries' contribution to the planet. That's enough for FOX "News" to demand your impeachment!
Call me a traitor if you must, but creamy and delicious Dutch mayonnaise is so fucking superior to the gelatinous glop we call "mayonnaise" here in the U.S. that it's not even funny. This trip I checked a suitcase, which meant I was able to bring home a bunch of the stuff. So now I can fry up some fries for PATATJES MET at home...
PATATJES MET!!! Amazing. Whoever decides to market a superior Dutch mayo here is going to make millions. Millions!!
• WHAT?!? And speaking of fries... have you heard that browning potatoes creates a cancer-causing chemical called "acrylamide" that makes them deadly to eat? Can you believe this shit? Why is it that everything that tastes good ends up killing you? This is so not fair. PATATJES MET OR DEATH?!? I can't answer that.
• Earth! Ooh! It's Earth Day! That one day out of the year where people pretend to give a shit about our planet! Including me. Despite it being 82° out today, I rolled down my window instead of turning on the air conditioner in my car. That totally counts, right?
• Television. Kind of gutted that two of my favorite new shows, Awake and The Finder are not getting the ratings they need for renewal. Instead they'll be cancelled and replaced by a reality show or some other stupid-ass crap that doesn't require thought from the American viewing public. And who knows what's going to happen to Fringe, which had a game-changing episode on Friday. It's almost to the point where I'm afraid to get invested in good television anymore...
And, on that sad note, I've gotta go tempt death by having another plate of PATATJES MET!
Was Diane Keaton frickin' high on "The Colbert Report" last night?
Because that had to be the single most awkward and embarrassing interviews I've ever seen. Despite numerous efforts by Colbert to get her to talk about her damn book, she just would not stop being a complete jackass. I don't know if she thought she was being funny with her bat-shit hostility or what... but holy crap...
The fact that Colbert managed to keep the interview going... and stay funny under the onslaught of Keaton's insanity... speaks volumes as to his talent...
I really don't know what I'll do once Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart decide to retire. It seems as though The Colbert Report and The Daily Show are the only "news" programs I can stomach now-a-days.
Remember back in 1999 when religious leader Jerry Falwell declared that the purple member of The Teletubbies was a homosexual role model for children because he was carrying that red handbag everywhere? Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but he was totally serious about it.
Since that time, other religious leaders and groups have been in an uproar over things they consider to be bad role models for children... and, more often than not, it's because they are gay (e.g. Chris Coffer on Glee) or assumed to be gay (e.g. Tinky Winky and SpongeBob SquarePants)...
Whatever the case, these morons honestly believe that even the mere sight of something they perceive to be gay will causes kids to embrace homosexuality.
And what can parents do when their child has been infected by The Gayness? According to Pastor Sean Harris of the Barean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C., you beat the gay out of them, of course!
"So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, 'Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, because that is what boys do,' you get out the camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female and then you upload it to YouTube and everybody laughs about it and the next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed."
"Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch, okay? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male. And when your daughter starts acting too butch you reign her in. And you say, 'Oh no, sweetheart. You can play sports... play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.'"
Who is this sadistic moron?
And we wonder why gay youth are committing suicide in record numbers.
I'm straight, but heaven only knows I'm not the most masculine guy in the world. I most certainly wasn't the most masculine kid in school. And because of that, I should have been abused and beaten just to be sure any non-masculine behavior wasn't a sign that I might be "turning gay?"
When the furor over Pastor Sean's remarks hit earlier this week, I started writing a long rant about how we're quickly becoming a society that is hostile... sometimes fatal... to children who are even a little different than what is considered "normal." But as I was re-reading it, I decided that it would do more harm than good, and tossed it.
Then today I read where Pastor Sean is retracting his statements of persecution and violence, but not really. He still feels totally justified in telling people to beat their kids based on scripture that he obviously doesn't understand.
And now I'm wishing I hadn't tossed out my rant, because I concluded it by calling Pastor Sean "a fucking asshole that should be arrested for child endangerment who then gets the shit beaten out of him in prison so he can fully understand the violence he is advocating."
Some would say that such a wish for violence against Pastor Sean makes me no better than the asshole himself. They would be right.
But then I think back to the child I was. The child who wasn't good at sports, who didn't like hiking or fishing, who wasn't popular with girls, who loved art and music, who wasn't like most of the boys... and I say "fuck it." He would have advocated my getting beaten, so it's only right that he be on the receiving end of the same sentiment. Eye for an eye and all that.
And since I'm pretty sure I read that in The Bible somewhere, it's totally justified, right?
Happy Mother's Day! And word to your mother, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Bank! The Avengers just blew past ONE BILLION DOLLARS at the worldwide box office. Not bad for a movie built for comic book geeks. The only way things could get much better would be if Marvel could get some cooperation between the various movie studios that have the rights to their characters. It can only benefit everybody involved. A cameo appearance by Spider-Man in an Avengers flick would only raise interest in Spider-Man's movie, for example...
But the meeting I most want? X-Men vs. Avengers. Not the cheesy, shitty X-Men from the crappy original trilogy... but the real X-Men we saw in the X-Men: First Class movie. Because the current Avengers vs. X-Men comic book is killing it, and that would make for one incredible flick. But nobody ever accused movie studios of being very smart, so it's probably never going to happen. Such a shame.
• CS6! And so Adobe Creative Suite 6 was unleashed this week. So far... I'm kind of digging it. As somebody who shoots a lot of wide-angle photos, the new "Adaptive Wide Angle" correction filter in Photoshop is worth the upgrade alone. Illustrator gets variable-width strokes and some really nice gradient tools. InDesign gets some really cool layout tools. And everything seems to be a bit snappier thanks to their new "Mercury" graphics engine. I also like the "pro" interface overhaul (even though it doesn't utilize the "full-screen" feature of OS X, which is just stoopid). Overall, a pretty decent upgrade.
Except for the cost. I bypassed Adobe's insulting and absurd CS5.5, so all my pricing is for upgrading "CS5 Design Premium." Except there is no "Design Premium" any more, so I have to get "Design & Web Premium" to get everything I previously had. Price? $749. Bullshit. In 2010 it was only $599. So I guess I skip "Premium" and get "Design Standard" for $549. It only has Photoshop (NOT Extended), Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat... which is lame bullshit.
The high prices are meant to push people to join Adobe's "Creative Cloud" offering, which gets you everything they make for $50 a month. This would be a bargain if I actually used everything they make. As a previous customer I get a year at $30 a month (introductory price), which is still too pricey for what I end up using, but it will give me time to figure out what I'll eventually end up buying. Hopefully Adobe will realize that people don't want to pay for what they don't use and offer an option without the video production tools at a more reasonable cost. As it is, "Creative Cloud" is more a rip-off than anything else.
• Iconic! I've written before about the carousel of progress that's been the evolution of Adobe Creative Suite icons. It went from an inexplicable WTF? in CS2... to a nice white on tone in CS3... to a very classy black on tone in CS4... to a pleasing tone-on-tone in CS5. And now in CS6? I don't even have an opinion...
Except to say that they feel clunky, amateurish, and look like shit in my Dock...
Not even color coordinated? Really? Pathetic. And the document icons are even worse. I'd be embarrassed for Adobe, but it's not like they'd give a crap. They're the only game in town now and they know it.
• DVR! Back when I had satellite television, I had a TiVo DVR. It was heaven. The best possible way to watch television. But I had to give up satellite for cable because my location wouldn't let me get HD channels by satellite. Unfortunately, Charter Cable doesn't have TiVo. I was stuck with a HEINOUS PIECE OF SHIT called a "Moxi" DVR. It was a poorly-designed, constantly-over-heating, featureless, stuttering pile of FAIL! It had to be replaced twice. Then the third one died this past week. So Charter gave me a generic Motorola DVR that's a heck of a lot better than MOXI, but still a featureless piece of shit (you can't even hide channels you don't get!).
Which begs the question... Why is TiVo the only company who can make a DVR that's worth a damn?
Charter Cable has been promising TiVo to their customers for ages. It was supposed to arrive next month. Now the rollout has been delayed. Who the hell knows if it will ever be released. What I do know is that I am sick and tired of the sub-standard DVR bullshit they keep shoving down my throat. Maybe it's time to ditch cable altogether and buy all the stuff I want to watch with AppleTV?
• Hooray! From the television up-fronts we now know that Person of Interest, Revenge, Castle, Suburgatory, Happy Endings, Scandal, Raising Hope, and Grim have all been renewed for another season. In somewhat good news, Community, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, and Fringe got partial final season orders for them to finish up their shows. While better than a flat-out cancellation, this still sucks pretty hard. Community is essential television viewing.
• Crap! The Finder and Awake... two of my favorite shows were canceled. Awake I kinda get. The show was a bit esoteric and didn't have a huge amount of mainstream appeal with the whole "two worlds" concept. People aren't that smart. But The Finder?!? Such a frickin' amazing and entertaining show. I simply do not understand how it failed to build a huge audience. To add insult to injury, they ended the season with a massive multi-character cliffhanger. I can only hope that Hart Hanson will use a couple episodes of his other show, Bones, to wrap things up. Damn. Fucked by FOX again.
And now? I should probably back-up my laptop now that I've added a bunch of crap. That's a good Sunday project.
Okay... Okay... Okay... THREE EPISODES of Community tonight?!?
The first of the three was my favorite episode to date, which is really saying something considering the slew of frickin' amazing episodes that came previously. Not only did they faithfully represent the Age of 8-Bit Video Games perfectly, the characterization of each cast member in pixels was flawless...
The fact that the show is only getting a paltry 13 episode order next season is a travesty. But I suppose they have to make room for what ever shitty reality television crap they've bought to stink up the airwaves come Fall. I know that television is a business, and ratings and ad revenue are the only factors that really matter... but come on. Given the quality, critical acclaim, and rabid fan base of the show, NBC owes it to humanity to at least get Community up to 65 episodes so it can be syndicated.
But the network seems intent on killing it off.
And speaking of premature deaths...
This morning I got an email from somebody who stumbled across my blog from a Google search and wanted to thank me for writing about whatever it was they were looking for. It was a really nice note, and it's good to know that this blog has useful content squeezed in-between all the stupid crap I usually write about.
The interesting bit came at the end of the email when they said "I hope you've made arrangements to keep you blog around after you're dead because it would be a shame for it to disappear."
To which I replied "Nope. My guess is that Blogography will die shortly after I do, but thanks for the kind words!"
Then I got to thinking about how I really should be more distraught that nine years of my life will soon evaporate if I get hit by a bus tomorrow. But I'm not. Not really. I've toyed with the idea of deleting my blog a half-dozen times in the past, so why should I care if it happens after I'm dead? I suppose it's a little depressing to think that a domain scalper will undoubtedly come along and grab "blogography.com" so they can use it to link to a bunch of websites selling "generic viagra" or something. But that's life... and death... on the internet for you.
Eventually I'll be gone and forgotten just like 99.9% of everybody else on earth, and that's probably how it should be.
Unless somebody wants to finance that monument to my greatness I so totally deserve...
Put down those eclipse specs, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Goodbye. I was sad to learn that Robin Gibb passed away. Make fun of me all you want, but I always thought The BeeGees were musical geniuses. So many of their unique songs couldn't have been made by anybody else, and it's a testament to this talent that they were so successful for so long. And as if the idea of not getting any more BeeGees music wasn't bad enough, I'm betting we won't be seeing any more Barry Gibb Talk Show skits on Saturday Night Live either...
Rest in peace, Mr. Gibb, and thanks for the music.
• SNL. Surprisingly, Mick Jagger made for a funny guest-host on the season finale of Saturday Night Live. The episode itself was a farewell to Kristen Wiig and her seven seasons with the show. I had read somewhere that Andy Samberg and Jason Sudeikis were also leaving, but you'd never know it, because it wasn't even hinted at. What's most disappointing is that we didn't get a final "Two A-Holes..." sketch with Wiig and Sudeikis, which I was absolutely expecting. As close as we got was them dancing together while everybody sang their goodbyes...
Oh well. I suppose it could happen upon Kristen Wiig's inevitable return hosting engagement. Until then, I guess there's always Hulu clips...
• TED. Despite being almost painfully obvious, I've never heard this argument presented in such a compelling way...
Apparently there was some controversy over this clip. TED originally thought it too partisan to unleash upon an unsuspecting world... or something like that... but I'm not seeing it. Furthermore, how can you hope to solve a problem without approaching it from every conceivable angle? Even if Hanauer's belief is entirely wrong, discussing it may lead to worthwhile conversation. When you're desperate, nothing should be off the table, and I hope to see more of this kind of talk from all sides in the future.
• Avengers. I had purchased The Art of Marvel's Thor after seeing the movie. Production design on the Asgard sets and costumes were really well done, and I wanted to see how they were developed. The book was pretty amazing, which made me regret that I hadn't purchased the two Iron Man books. They were out of print and cost a fortune on the secondary market, so I gave up on getting them. Fast forward to the The Avengers, which was production design on an entirely new level, and I simply had to own The Art of Marvel's The Avengers. It did not disappoint. The book is a stunning chronicle of bringing the comic book to the big screen. Then I discovered something very cool... Marvel had assembled books for the previous four Avengers movies (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America, and Thor) in a boxed set... The Art of Marvel Studios. SCORE! All the books are fantastic...
If you wanna take a look inside, JamesTalkALot has a video on YouTube for the Art of Marvel Studios set. He also has a separate video for The Art of Marvel's The Avengers. If you have even a passing interest in these movies, all the books are highly recommended.
Annnnnd... I'm spent. Did I black out some time this weekend? Because it doesn't really feel like I got a weekend at all. Such a bummer. I should probably get my crap together so I can go to work in the morning. If there's any justice, I'll black out again through the entire work week so I can have a real weekend.
Let's get ready to rrrrrumble... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Dawson. Game show host, game show player, and actor Richard Dawson passed away. While best known as the host of Family Feud, I remember him best for his funny appearances on Match Game. And, of course, as one of the most genius film role castings ever... Damon Killian from The Running Man...
Ahnold says "I'll be back!"
A movie that was "The Hunger Games" before there was The Hunger Games, and far more entertaining. Rest in peace, sir! You'll be back... in reruns.
• Joosten. Continuing the sad news, Kathryn Joosten, who played Mrs. Landingham so brilliantly on The West Wing has also passed away...
West Wing fans know that killing off Delores Landingham at the end of the second season was one of the most memorable and emotional moments from the entire series, and nothing was quite the same after she left. This was all due to Joosten infusing her character with a charm and dry humor that never ceased to steal any scene in which she appeared. Though I wasn't a fan of Desperate Housewives, I was looking forward to seeing Joosten in another series after it ended. You will be missed.
• House. As the primary European airline partner for Northwest Airlines (later merged with Delta), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines got a bit of my business back when I was flying to Europe regularly. On one of my trips, I was bumped to "World Business Class" and given a gift... a miniature Dutch house filled with gin. I thought it was kind of cool, but gave it away when I had forgotten to buy a gift for my (then) girlfriend. I think it was this one...
Photo taken from KLM Dutch Houses
What I only recently found out was that KLM has been coming out with a new house every October 7th for 92 years! The house I got was not a one-time event for the airline, but a tradition that had been going on for decades. On top of that, each house is based on a real house somewhere in the Netherlands.
You can read all about the 92 houses that have been released on KLM's website... but the coolest way to explore the collection is by getting the KLM Houses App for iPhone. With it you can even get a Google Map with directions to the actual house that the miniature is based on.
Something else I learned today, "KLM" stands for "Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij"... which is Dutch for "Royal Aviation Company." Try saying that ten times fast.
• Fresh. Speaking of DutchyLand... TULIPS!
Hard to believe this was taken just 50 days ago.
• Fresh. Congratulations to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee and 60 years on the throne...
One of the most hauntingly beautiful portraits I've ever seen... by Annie Leibovitz
NOW can I get my knighthood?
And... time to pack my suitcase. It's going to be an interesting week...
So this is what the weather is like at End of Days.
Since Saturday we've been flipping between gorgeous blue skies one minute... followed by thunder showers just minutes later... followed by gorgeous blue skies again soon after. And while the changes are shockingly rapid, they're actually really cool to watch. Today on the way to work I watched a rain shower crash down from the mountains like a wave. As I was driving home I saw a thundershower retreat to the horizon like smoke in the wind. It's weird. It's wacky. It's wonderful in a way that only Mother Nature can deliver.
Which leads me to...
The Newsroom premiered Sunday on HBO. It's weird. It's wacky. It's wonderful in a way that only Aaron Sorkin can deliver.
Remarkably (for HBO anyways), they've just made the first episode available on YouTube in its entirety. Because of Sorkin's near-flawless run on The West Wing, his totally-flawless run on Sports Night, and his mostly-flawless run on Studio 60, I had no choice but to give it a watch... despite the rather shocking number of poor reviews it's been pulling.
Unsurprisingly, I really liked it.
Partly because it stars Emily Mortimer, whom I love more than chocolate pudding, but mostly because Sorkin's commentary on the state of "news" in this country mirrors my own to a scary degree.
Not to say there aren't problems. First of all, this first episode felt exactly like the first episodes of Studio 60 and Sports Night. Twice on the opening similarities I could forgive... but three times feels like Sorkin is fresh out of ideas on how to start a new show. Second of all, too many situations go too dramatic too fast. Not every little thing in life has to end in high drama (except if you're Aaron Sorkin, apparently). Lastly*, the show takes place not in present-day... but back in 2010. This means every show is going to be re-living news that already happened (starting with the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster this episode). I can only guess that this is due to Sorkin wanting to run the news as it really went down instead of approximating news events that are currently going on. Yawn. The West Wing handled a kind of "faux current" reality so beautifully, why is The Newsroom stuck in the past? I'm hoping this doesn't end up boring me.
Regardless, I'm just happy to have Sorkin back. Nobody writes television like he does, and anything he's involved in is bound to be worth watching. You can decide for yourself by clicking over to YouTube.
*Well, not lastly. "Lastly" would be that The Newsroom is so overrun with placement advertising for Dell Computer that I have to wonder if Michael Dell is secretly blowing Aaron Sorkin in addition to handing over sticky wads of cash. It's downright embarrassing, and a huge distraction.
Put down that beverage... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
Or maybe not. Maybe you should pick up that beverage again and order another. That's what I'm going to do. Right after I edit out all the nastiest bits of this nasty Bullet Sunday in an effort to make it be not-so-nasty. I've had enough nasty for the week.
• Rewarding Failure. Despite being a total Mac Whore, I don't hate Microsoft.
• Unfathomable Stupidity. I've never hid my disgust and loathing of Rush Limbaugh as everything that's wrong with this country. He incites hatred by telling lies to a huge audience who never questions the bullshit he's peddling. This week he hit an all-time low by calling a near-twienty-year-old Batman villain, Bane, a conspiracy by the filmmakers behind The Dark Night Rises to undermine Mitt Romney's presidential bid by reminding people he worked for Bain Capital.
• Darkest Night. The horrible tragedy in Aurora, Colorado is a horrific reminder of the world we live in.
• Chik Chuck. When a successful company proudly announces that they support organizations which fight for inequality, bigotry, and hatred... you kind of have to wonder why they're a successful company.
• Political Animals. Sigourney Weaver is one of my favorite actresses because she's appeared in so many of my favorite movies... Ghostbusters, Galaxy Quest, Alien, Aliens, Dave, Paul, The Cabin in the Woods, and WALL-E to name a few. So when I heard she was going to be appearing on television(!) in a new show called Political Animals, nothing could keep me from tuning in. And I wasn't disappointed. Such a deliciously good show with a really good cast.
• Two Birds. My favorite email client is called "Sparrow." It is beautifully simple yet very powerful, which is everything you want when it comes to your software. Unfortunately, Sparrow was bought out by Google, who promptly stopped development on the Mac and iPhone apps. While I can't blame the developers for taking the Big Google Payday, I'm still a little bitter about it. Just like Gowalla before them, it seems as though surprisingly little consideration was given to all the customers who got them where they are.
• Michele Bachmann. Surprise surprise. This weeks' installment of bat-shit crazy comes courtesy of the Queen of Bat-Shit Crazy.
Annnnnd... I want a fresh start in a fresh week now.
Time to put down that Olympic remote... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Negative. When it comes to living in the USA, I cannot help but question the society we have evolved into when there's this incessant need to tear people down. This was made very clear to me as I watched NBC's continuing shitty time-delayed coverage of the Olympic games yesterday. Ryan Lochte had just won the gold in a swimming event with a very impressive performance. But this wasn't the focus of the coverage. The focus was on how Lochte had just "delivered a beating" to reigning Olympic champion Michael Phelps, who came in fourth. Once I heard this "beating" mentioned for a third time, I had to turn the channel.
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
Just four years ago, Michael Phelps won 8 out of 8 gold medals in the 29th Olympic Games in China. He was America's pride and joy and the media couldn't gush with praise often enough or fast enough for "the greatest swimmer of all time." And now? The media is using those 8 medals around his neck to strangle the guy by pointing out what a disappointment he is for not getting another medal. And, putting aside how crappy it is that they are so horrible to Michael Phelps... how shitty is it that this is how Ryan Lochte's friends and family watching at home get to experience his moment of triumph?
And why? Why? Why? Why? How hard would it be to say "Congratulations to Ryan Lochte for winning the gold, and way to go Michael Phelps for a terrific effort in snagging fourth place!" Because, seriously, even putting aside his Olympic championship status... out of all the athletes from around the frickin' WORLD, Phelps came in fourth! That's still an amazing achievement. And what the hell have you done lately?
But this, apparently, is not what the American public wants to see or hear. They want Michael Phelps humbled and humiliated. Building somebody up is great, but tearing them down is better. Yes, it's surprising that Phelps didn't medal. Shocking even. So say it's surprising and shocking... don't "give a beating" to somebody who trained hard and did their best. Even if it is somebody as accomplished as Michael Phelps, who still has a bunch of Olympic medals back home.
• Clarkson. And, speaking of tearing somebody down, this happened on Twitter...
Now, as a massively huge fan of Top Gear, I should post a disclaimer which says that I am a massively huge fan of Jeremy Clarkson. He's a total bastard in the best possible way, and one of the most entertaining television personalities ever.
So when he tells Mitt Romney to "fuck off" it would be easy to write this off as Jeremy Clarkson being Jeremy Clarkson. Except... Mitt Romney made a disastrous visit to the UK where he pretty much had his head up his ass the entire time. First he tells London that he didn't think they were ready to host the Olympics and questioned whether the Brits can "come together" and celebrate the games properly... then a quote from his book No Apology was widely circulated in the UK press: "England is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn't make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn't been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler's ambitions." Nice. Not only does he show he's fucking ignorant about the country ("England" is not an island. "Great Britain" is an island that includes the countries of England, Scotland, and Wales) he seems to think the way to make the United States look good is to put other countries down. What an asshole.
So yeah, tear somebody down and you deserve to get torn down in return. I guess that works.
• Hey Jude. And speaking of something that England produced that nobody wants...
In my alternative history fantasy world, the Beatles reunited for the first time in 42 years to perform at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
As happy as I was to see Sir Paul McCartney close out the Opening Ceremonies... the mega-Beatles-fan in me will always want more...
• BILL! BILL! BILL! There's a funny YouTube video making the rounds called Mr. Wizard's a Dick! that compiles a bunch of snippets from the 1983 revival of Don "Mr. Wizard" Herbert's television show which shows him...uhhhh... being a dick...
I was never much a fan of Mr. Wizard, but I was a big fan of Bill Nye The Science Guy. And now there's hope that he might start making new episodes of his awesome science show straight from the horse's mouth via Reddit...
Yeah, I really should be too old for a children's science program... but I would totally watch that show.
• Rotten. Let's recap my recent experiences with Apple, shall we?
So, basically, over the past week I've had more horribly bad experiences with Apple than I have had over the past 35 years. This hurts. It physically hurts me.
And now... time to see if I can un-brick an iMac...
With apologies to Nathan Adrian and everybody else in these United States, I was not rooting for us to take the gold in the 100-meter Olympic freestyle competition. Not that I am unhappy he won... far from it... many happy congratulations to Adrian and Team USA. It's just that I had a different favorite for winning the race.
Two months before I landed in Sydney last September, James "The Missile" Magnussen had become the 100m Freestyle World Champion at the FINA competition in Shanghai. This made him a very popular fixture in the world of Australian sports, and a lot of predictions for Olympic gold were already being talked up...
James Magnussen World Champion 2011, Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images AsiaPac
One evening while re-packing my suitcase (in Cairns, I think?) with the television on, I caught some kind of documentary/interview with the guy, and he was everything you'd want a world champion to be... kind and generous with his words, brilliant in his skills, and extremely confident in his abilities.
But the thing that struck me most is how it was repeatedly stressed that he was the best hope for the Aussies bringing home 100m Freestyle gold, which hadn't happened since Michael Wenden won it 1968. Not even the "invincible" Ian "The Thorpedo" Thorpe could manage it in 2004.
That's when I stopped packing for a minute, and tried to fathom how a 20-year-old guy could sit there with the hopes of an entire country heaped on his shoulders and not crumble on the spot.
How does one even deal with that being in their head?
And so I wanted James Magnussen to win gold, just so the lofty expectations set for him... and by him... would be fulfilled and maybe he could have a short time without all the pressure he usually has to endure.
Unfortunately Team Australia didn't medal in the Freestyle Relay earlier and, even more unfortunately, Magnussen didn't get a gold medal in the 100m Freestyle tonight. He lost to American Nathan Adrian by one-one-hundredths of a second...
So now I was even more worried for the poor guy. He missed his dream by - literally - less time than it takes to blink an eye. Though shattered, he was taking it as well as one could expect... "It hurts. I did my best tonight and and it was not quite good enough. To lose by that amount stings but I've had a lot of great support the last few days from people from back in Australia."
I hope so.
He's young and he'll be back in 2016 at the height of his game (and with Olympic experience!), so that'll be something to look forward to...
In the meanwhile, the press is having a field-day with tearing Magnussen down, just as Phelps before him. If I have to read one more "The Missile was a Dud" headline I'm going to scream. The guy is still a World Champion swimmer. He has a silver medal from the Olympic Games. If that makes him a dud, then the rest of the world might as well give up right now.
As for me? I'm just going to get some sleep.
Stop your melting and embrace the heatwave... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Heat. I wasn't kidding. It was so hot today that the air conditioner couldn't keep up. Which means that even with the unit on MAX COOL and turned to COLDEST it was still like a sauna in my home all day. Even now the temperature is 100° outside... and it's 5:30 at night! Unless you live in the San Francisco Bay area, looks it's going to be another scorcher tomorrow...
Not a good day to be living in the pink.
• Landing. As I have written before, I have a terrible tendency to attribute human qualities to inanimate objects. Especially robots. It's always been a problem but, after watching WALL-E, I'm pretty much a hopeless case for looking a little robots as something more than "just machines." I was a wreck when I heard that the Mars Rover, Spirit was stuck and couldn't move around the Martian landscape any more. All I could picture was a little robot trapped and all alone far from home...
So, as you can well imagine, the impending "drop" of a new Mars Rover named Curiosity is making me pretty nervous. The landing procedure is scary as hell, and I'll be glued to my MacBook tonight to hear if he makes it so I'm not worrying all night...
Damn. Good luck to you, Curiosity!
UDATE: So happy to know he has landed safely and his cameras are operating! Here's hoping everything else is working properly and he can start rolling around Mars soon! WAY TO GO, NASA!
• Fairies. I hate television commercials. Hate them. 99% of the time they are stupid, loud, annoying, and disruptive pieces of crap that make me want to kick in my television screen. Which is why I don't usually watch live television... I record it on my DVR so I can fast-forward through them. But there are rare exceptions. Like Direct TV's series of "Football Fairies" commercials starring Deion Sanders and Eli Manning. Really smart, well-done, and funny as hell...
Genius. If all commercials were this entertaining, I wouldn't want to fast-forward through them. On top of that, this commercial makes me wish I could have Direct TV. I hope the agency that came up with this is getting some serious bank for their efforts.
• Album. The initial reviews for Linkin Park's fifth album, Living Things, weren't very positive, so I held off buying it until I had a chance to give it a listen. I was not a big fan of their previous effort, A Thousand Suns, which made me hesitant to rush out and buy something new...
And then I caught the video for BURN IT DOWN and liked what I heard...
Then I was finally compelled to buy it after previewing the tracks on iTunes Music Store. Turns out I really like it. It's kind of a return to classic Linkin Park via a new kind of 80's-influenced sound direction. If you're an LP fan scared off by the bad reviews, I recommend giving it a listen. Even though every track title is SHOUTING AT YOU IN ALL-CAPS, it's a really good album.
• New New 52. Last year DC Comics cancelled all of their comic books and rebooted their "Universe" to start over from scratch with the "New 52"... so named for the 52 comic titles they released at launch. Overall, I consider it to be a success. I'm still reading 18 of the titles, which is more comics than I've been reading in a long time. Eventually, some of the books were canceled due to low sales (including OMAC, which I loved) and replaced with new books. The two most interesting involve Earth-2, an old "alternate earth" concept that DC abandoned back in 1985...
Surprisingly, World's Finest and Earth-2 were immediately put on my "Top 10 Must-Reads" list... and World's Finest (Starring The Huntress and Power Girl) is vying for the #1 spot. It's just great comic book fun! I love the writing (by Paul Levitz), and it features two of my favorite artists, (George Peréz on the "current" story thread, and Kevin Maguire on the "flashback" story thread). If you're a fan of all those great comic team books from the 80's, before everything took a turn towards being all dark and all gritty and all confusing all the time...I highly recommend giving these two titles a look!
Annnnnd... it's 9:30pm and just one hour until Curiosity starts his seven-minute descent. Now I'm wondering if I can bear to listen to the broadcast...
After hearing that KOMO 4 News co-anchor Kathi Goertzen died after a long battle with brain tumors, I tried to think back to a time before the news had her in it.
I couldn't do it.
Tonight when I got home from the airport, I found out why. I didn't start watching the local news with any seriousness until Mt. St. Helens erupted on May 18th, 1980. After that I was glued to the television, wondering if lava was going to start rolling down my street. Coincidentally, this is when Kathi Goertzen joined KOMO 4 News. I probably skipped around all the local channels at first, but it was Kathi that I liked best, and I've been a KOMO 4 fan ever since...
Which has not been easy, because I positively loathe Ken Schram, a commentator on KOMO 4 whom I've wanted to punch in the face more times than I can count (he became a nationally infamous douchebag when he compared breast-feeding to public urination).
But thanks to Kathi Goertzen, her co-anchor Dan Lewis, and the coolest weatherman ever, Steve Pool, I've stuck with KOMO 4 through good times and bad...
Over the years, I got a sense of just how amazing Kathi Goertzen could be. Not only was she astoundingly talented and professional at her job, but she was a genuinely good person. She worked tirelessly to support her community and the many charities which touched her heart. She even started a foundation to help others who were diagnosed with brain tumors. Kathi was much-loved by a lot of people, and I can't fathom anybody watching her on television who didn't come to love her as well.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you so very much to Kathi Goertzen for her courage and dedication. As somebody who can't remember what the news was like before she came along, I'm greatly saddened by her passing, and my thoughts go out to her family, friends, and co-workers at KOMO. Rest in peace, and good night.
And, just like that, Shark Week is over.
I have to say that this year was pretty amazing. Discovery Channel pulled out all the stops for Shark Week's 25th Anniversary, giving us six new shows about the world's most elegant and fascinating killing machines. The only disappointment was the inexplicable choice for this year's host... Philip DeFranco?!? I mean, yeah, he's a funny guy and really popular on YouTube... but hardly the star caliber deserving of Shark Week! I mean, IT'S SHARK WEEK for crying out loud!
You know who would make an awesome host for Shark Week? George Clooney. Clooney would totally rock Shark Week, and give it the EXTREME clout it needs to be one of the year's premiere television events.
Maybe next year.
And maybe next year Discovery will come up with an iPad app that has more content than advertising. Because while I liked having extra info while watching Shark Week programming, and think the potential here is monster, the app was mostly chum to lure you into watching a bunch of shitty ads. So not EXTREME.Looking forward to 2013!
Turns out that bullet points are not as rare as a blue moon... because yet another Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Astronomy. Considering how amazing the news, the official NASA press release appeared relatively boring... there are millions of supermassive black holes hiding behind a veil of dust that's mucking up the universe. Other news sources decided to take the NASA news and make it pretty. Forbes ran the story's talking points alongside this photo...
Unsurprisingly, this stunning image is from NASA.
I could look at stuff like this all day. Fortunately, NASA has a site for that...
Again, this stunning image is also from NASA.
I swear... every time the latest Astronomy Picture of the Day hits my web feed reader, it makes me glad I'm not in charge of the US budget. Because, if I were, I'd give NASA more money than they could spend. I'd be rolling up dump trucks full of cash to Jet Propulsion Laboratory and every other division that NASA has. I'd shower them with such massive loads of funding that they'd have to reach into their wildest dreams to find ways to spend it all. I'd probably be branded a traitor and shot for spending public money in such an egregious and irresponsible fashion... but I wouldn't care. As the stunning success with the Curiosity rover has shown, nothing can inspire quite like the USA's forays into space. Alas, reality dictates we have to put the bulk of that money elsewhere, but I can dream. NASA makes it so damn easy.
• Holy Crap. If you're not watching Breaking Bad, you are seriously missing out on one of the most depressingly brilliant shows ever to air on television...
I was a latecomer to the show... I didn't start watching until half-way through season two. But now that the show is on its fifth and final season, I am trying to envision life without it. Especially when I turn the channel and see the utter shit that's splattered across my television. And speaking of amazing television...
• Toby. Even though I just finished making my way through all seven seasons of The West Wing six months ago, I started in again last night (IT'S TOTALLY BLAIR'S FAULT!). I enjoy the show. And, at a time when politics on both side of the spectrum are so dismally disappointing, it makes for better background noise while I work than the news. The only problem is that I HATE HATE HATE HATE the character of Toby Ziegler with the burning passion of a thousand suns...
I know how you feel. I know exactly how you feel. Starting with you.
He was an arrogant asshole from his very first appearance on the show. It seems like creator Aaron Sorkin intended Toby to be some kind of "moral center" he could use to inject his personal politics into a story where they otherwise wouldn't fit. And it was a good idea... except Toby was a total condescending dick most of the time. I don't think actor Richard Schiff is totally to blame, but he certainly didn't infuse much likability into his character that I could ever find. Even when he was being likable. And so now any time I watch an episode, I cannot help but think of how much it would be improved if Toby weren't in it. Or how much fun it would have been to be a writer on The West Wing and kill him off.
• Charlie. On the other hand, with each new viewing of The West Wing, I appreciate the subtle genius that Dulé Hill brings to his role of Charlie Young...
When people talk about how astoundingly well-cast The West Wing was, I think that "Charlie" is often-times overlooked, and this is a shame. The character had a very fine line to walk, and the more I re-watch the show the more I am convinced that Dulé Hill is one of only a handful of actors that could have pulled it off. This is made even more apparent when I see the complete 180 he did when he jumped into the role of Gus on Psych. And while I still like Psych, I admit that I'm very interested to see where he jumps next.
• Eat. I want nothing more right now at this moment to eat a really good pizza. Alas...
And... I should get to bed since I'll be working on Labor Day tomorrow. I guess for me it actually is Labor Day, whereas for most everybody else it's No-Labor Day. Or something like that.
Several years ago a chef at an upscale restaurant asked me what kind of cheese I wanted on my fancy sandwich. I said "Oh, I dunno... American is fine."
I got yelled at. "AMERICAN IS NOT A REAL CHEESE! IT CAN BARELY EVEN BE CONSIDERED A FOOD!"
Which was confusing, because the American cheese I always buy says "cheese food" right on the label.
But even so, I was embarrassed for having been so classless and ignorant as to have asked for "American cheese" on a sandwich, so I stopped eating the stuff. Instead I started buying cheddar cheese at home and always asked for cheddar, swiss, or whatever "real" cheese was available when eating out.
Because I'm classy and smart like that.
But then the recession happened and I started buying groceries not based on what I wanted, but what was on sale. If it isn't on sale (or I don't have a coupon), I don't buy it unless I absolutely have to.
And last week it was Kraft brand American cheese food that was on sale...
I had forgotten how much I absolutely love the stuff. I don't care if it's chunks of cheese that's been blended with fat, milk, and artificial chemicals and crap... it's creamy, delicious, and melts over a veggie burger like a dream. So now I'm undergoing a kind of "American Cheese Renaissance." I'm eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And snacks. I can't help myself.
And now I'm keeping an eye out for a sale on White American...
I'm not trying to sound racist here, but I'm thinking that White American is probably better to eat than "regular" American because it won't have any stuff in it to make my insides turn orange. Unless... you don't think that they add bleach to American to make it turn into White American? That wouldn't be a good thing at all.
And now a piece of sad news concerning a black American... Michael Clarke Duncan, a wonderful actor I came to love in his role as Leo Knox in The Finder, passed away this morning at the age of 54...
Such a horrible loss. Michael Clarke Duncan was a truly amazing talent who could steal any scene with one flash of his million-dollar smile... or one word from his wonderful voice... which means that he stole every scene he was ever in. And I can't overstate my love of his character on The Finder. Leo Knox was achingly real while still being endlessly entertaining. I always hoped that the cliffhangers left when The Finder was cancelled would be wrapped up in an episode of Bones, where the show originated. But that will probably never happen now. How could they possibly wrap up anything without Leo? I'm just crushed. Rest in peace, Mr. Duncan, your work made me very happy at times I needed a little happiness, and I will miss you.
They say that even a stopped clock is right twice a day, but in my case it's just not true.
The batteries in my Mickey Mouse wall-clock at work died at 7:28 while I was in Chicago. And since I arrive both after 7:28am and before 7:28pm I don't see the clock being correct even once. And since I don't even know if my office exists when I am not there, I'm not going to make assumptions about what happens when I'm gone. Logic would dictate that the clock does indeed read correct at 7:28am and 7:28pm, but I'm not going to drive to work to find out.
Because I have more important questions on my mind...
Which means nothing has changed, because that's what I'm going to be doing right now.
Well, that... and planning a trip to Bahrain.
Be sure all loose items are securely stored under your seat and remember there's no flash photography, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Halloween! 'Tis the season for "Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party" once again. Taking place after the normal park hours, the party has a special parade "Boo to You!" and a really nice fireworks show in addition to trick-or-treating throughout the Magic Kingdom park...
It seemed a lot more crowded than the last time I did Mickey's Halloween, with the trick-or-treat lines being absurdly long. So totally not worth waiting 15-20 minutes for a handful of the cheap candy they're handing out.
• Star Tours! The last time I was in Orlando I didn't have time to do the whole Disney thang, so I missed seeing the "new and improved" Star Tours ride. Much to my surprise, it actually is "new and improved!"...
You get a completely randomized experience every time you ride. Two different openings (Darth Vader and Millennium Falcon), three different adventures (Kashyyyk, Hoth, and Tatooine), and three different endings (Coruscant, Naboo, and Death Star 2)... which makes 54 different possible combinations. I kept riding until I saw all the pieces I wanted to see. The only two I didn't experience were the pod race on Tatooine and the Trade Federation battle on Naboo (since I don't give a flying fuck about the shitty Star Wars prequels. Overall, very well done and a lot of fun!
• Safari! Even though I went on the much more extensive and interesting "Wild Africa Trek" through the Animal Kingdom savanna, I still managed to get in a ride on the canned "Kilimanjaro Safari" they offer. Much to my surprise, the "ride" has changed. No longer is there a story element about chasing poachers and rescuing a baby elephant... that's all gone! Instead, it's "just a safari" where you may (or may not) see many interesting animals. The poaching story was kind of lame, so this is probably a smart move... but it was still kind of shocking that the ride wasn't the way I remembered it.
• Beignets! No trip to Walt Disney World would be complete without a trip to Disney's Port Orleans' Resort for breakfast beignets!
• Dining! This trip I was sure to eat at two of my favorite Disney restaurants... both located in their Hollywood Studios park, both of which I highly recommend (assuming you can get reservations or manage to get in without them... they're really popular). First up is the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant, which simulates an old-time drive-in theater playing crappy old sci-fi movies and tables shaped like cars...
Next up is the 50's Prime Time Cafe, which is set up to look like a house from the 1950's, complete with sassy waitresses bringing out "mom's food" and reminding you to "KEEP YOUR ELBOWS OFF THE TABLE!"
A new restaurant to me this time was "Via Napoli" with authentic Naples pizza. Their White Pizza was amazing, and I will definitely be back...
And, of course, there's always Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney, which makes the best sandwich you will ever eat...
It's surprising that I don't gain 50 pounds every time I come here. I spend most of my time eating.
• Hunter. One of the best shows nobody ever saw was called Oh Grow Up! which was a short-lived comedy by Alan Ball (of American Beauty, True Blood, and Six Feet Under fame). I was a huge, huge fan, which is why I was very sad to just now learn that Oh Grow Up! lead actor Stephen Dunham died back on September 18th. His character of Hunter Franklin was not an easy role to pull off... but Dunham managed it flawlessly...
Oh how I wish they would honor Dunham by releasing Oh Grow Up! on DVD or even iTunes download!
Annnnd... I could probably shoot off another dozen bullets here, but I've got to be able to get caught up on sleep sometime!
Find your happy place, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Debate? I thought I was missing something by being in an airplane during the first presidential debate. Now that I've seen it, I realize I didn't miss much at all. President Obama was uninspiring, passive, and boring. Mitt Romney was artificial, creepy, and a dick. Neither was looking very presidential tonight... though at least Romney seemed to have some passion to him. That being said, I don't think either of them changed any minds. The biggest loser of the night had to be moderator Jim Lehrer, who couldn't moderate wiping his own ass. Pathetic. The next person who puts him in charge of moderating a debate should be shot. Then fired. I guess downsizing Lehrer is one thing that Mitt Romney and I can agree on? I just don't think that Big Bird should go with him...
Given the dearth of stupid shit on television for kids, I'd say that supporting entertaining educational programs like Sesame Street is essential for the survival of future generations. Especially when you consider that Big Bird gets 1/100th of 1 percent of the congressional budget (PBS as a whole gets less than 1%). So, yeah, that'll make a fucking dent.
• Maries! If crack cocaine and mayonnaise had a baby, it would be Marie's All-Natural Salad Dressings. For the longest time I ignored them on the shelf because they were too expensive compared to the other salad dressings available. But last month I was bored and decided to try one. It was so frickin' amazing that I've been slowly working my way through every flavor available. Now that I've tried them all, I have narrowed my favorites down to Chunky Feta Cheese and Asiago Peppercorn...
Anything that can make lettuce taste this good is worth every penny. And so now I'm going to be poor because I spend all my money on salad dressing. If you're looking for a pricey but delicious way to liven up your salad, I highly recommend giving Marie's a try.
• Television! Ooh! New TV shows! As a total television whore, this is a happy time for me. At least it was until I realized that there have only been four new shows worth watching out of all the stuff that looked intereting to me so far this season...
It will be interesting to see how Arrow, Nashville, and Chicago Fire fare, as I think they're the only new shows left that I want to see which I haven't seen.
Annnd... apparently I can't post this because my internet just went down. Guess I'll be late. Again.
Brace yourself for an October Surprise... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Elysium! Back in 2009, The Pet Shop Boys released Yes one of their best albums in decades (and contains one of my favorite tracks ever, The Way It Used To Be). Now they've released their 11th studio album, Elysium, and my expectations were very high. Probably too high. It's a good album that has more hits than misses, but the misses really grate on me. Ego Music and Your Early Stuff are about as tedious as music gets, and I can't fathom why they were included on the album when they'd barely be interesting enough for B-sides. What remains doesn't include any of the throbbing dance-pop that made PSB famous, but it does have some remarkable tracks. Far and away my favorite is Memory of the Future, which is an achingly beautiful song that hasn't left my head since I first heard it...
Overall Elysium is another really good album that presents the Pet Shop Boys in a softer, more thoughtful light. Well worth checking out.
• Elementary! As a bit of a Sherlock Holmes purist (the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories remain among my favorite fiction) I've been pleasantly surprised with how much I've been enjoying both the Robert Downey Jr. movies and the Benedict Cumberbatch BBC series. I anticipated not liking the Johnny Lee Miller American series which takes place in New York and has Watson played by Lucy Liu. But then I saw the premiere and was again pleasantly surprised...
No hat. No pipe. No magnifying glass. No problem.
But now after having seen three episodes I am definitely digging it. I was already a big fan of Miller and Liu, and they've got some good chemistry together. But, more important than anything else, the mystery stories have been really good. Elementary has quickly become my favorite new show of 2012, and is well worth checking out.
• Arrow. And speaking of television that's left me pleasantly surprised...
I guess the ladies will be tuning in...
Now, let's get something clear... this is not the Green Arrow we know from the comic book series. They have radically changed many of the fundamentals in an effort to make "good television." And have somehow succeeded. Millionaire playboy Oliver Queen is the lone survivor of a shipwreck who arrives at a mysterious island. While there, he crafts weapons to survive, and spends five years becoming the deadliest man alive with a bow and arrow. Eventually he returns home to "Starling City" to right some wrongs and free the city from the criminals who have taken over... dressed as Robin Hood. Anyway... the show is basically a Batman clone now, which is probably why I like it so much. Well worth checking out.
• Do Not Call. On Friday night I got a political action call from the National Rifle Association... an organization I used to respect, but have seen steadily degenerate into an organization resorting to fear-uncertainty-doubt to terrify people into doing their bidding. They send out scare tactic press releases against President Obama, even though he has repeatedly said he supports the 2nd Amendment and introduced no significant gun control legislation during his first term. But he said he supports keeping assault weapons off the street, so he's been branded anti-gun. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, who actually DID introduce an extensive assault weapon ban when he was Governor of Massachusetts, gets endorsed by the NRA for president! They even go so far as to say he's the "only hope" for firearms freedom! If the NRA were truly an impartial organization fighting for the interest of gun owners, they should have informed their membership about both candidates. But it would seem they're so far in the pocket of the Republicans that Romney's gun-control past gets forgiven while Obama's gets him crucified because he's a Democrat. I guess that's politics for you. Or maybe I'm just pissed that somebody would dare call me during dinner.
• That Derek Zoolander is so Hot Right Now. Tonight's autism benefit show by Comedy Central... Night of Too Many Stars... opened with an appearance of one of my most guilty of guilty pleasures, Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander. Rumors of a movie sequel have been leaking for a while, and this appearance would seem to verify that it's happening. But the biggest question? When will we know if Will Ferrell will be reprising his role as one of the best movie villains of all time, Mugatu?
Zoolander without Mugatu wouldn't be much of a film. Hopefully Will Ferrell and everybody involved in the project agree.
And... time to retire early. I think my cold is finally breaking, and a couple extra hours rest might do the trick.
Before you start celebrating that I finally made it home, you might want to chill for a minute... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Hostess. I haven't eaten anything from Hostess in decades. They use disgusting LARD in their products, so once I became a vegetarian they were scratched off my shopping list. But, as a kid, I loved Hostess products. Lemon Pies. Ding Dongs. Cupcakes. Twinkies. And Ho-Hos... oh how I loved Ho-Hos. Everything they made was magic...
So you can imagine how the news of their impending doom is a conflict for me. On one hand... who gives a rat's ass that people won't be able to buy their unhealthy crap any more? But, on the other hand... Hostess's unhealthy crap is an American childhood right of passage! Not that I have any doubt somebody isn't going to buy out the production rights for all those classic Hostess products... it's only a matter of time before people can buy Twinkies again. But something will be lost in the process. It always is.
If I'm lucky, it will be the lard that's lost.
Because, seriously, who the fuck eats LARD these days?
• Elementary. As I've said before, I did not have high hopes for yet another reimagined Sherlock Holmes. Especially when they moved it to New York and cast Lucy Liu as a female Dr. Watson. But, much to my surprise, I liked the show. And yet... the bigger surprise was yet to come. The show keeps getting better with each new episode. The mysteries have rapidly evolved into some of the best-written, most clever, least gimmicky, stories I've seen on the small screen. And, of course, Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu are fantastic...
If you're not watching... I urge you to reconsider. This is some seriously great television.
• Five-0. Speaking of amazing television... I watched the Hawaii Five-0 reboot off and on when it first started, but the show didn't hook me enough to become a regular thing. Sure it had pretty scenery and the stories were okay, but it just seemed so "by-the-numbers"... like the cast weren't interested enough to make it feel "real" or whatever.
But something happened in the middle of the second season. The characters started clicking. The writers seemed to finally figure out what made everything feel "real." And now? Hawaii Five-0 is can't miss television for me. I love this show. And the biggest part of it is the chemistry between Alex O'Laughlin and Scott Caan. The smartass banter between them ranges from amusing to hilarious, but there's a warmth there that feels absolutely genuine...
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
And now we're in the show's third season where every episode has been gold. Seriously some of the best-scripted action on television, and well-worth your time to tune in.*
*Assuming that completely obvious non-stop Microsoft product placement doesn't drive you insane. Seriously, Microsoft must be providing free blowjobs and millions of dollars to all the producers and writers of this show.
• Maps. When Apple released their replacement for Google Maps, I hopped on the bandwagon to declare them a bad move. But most of my criticism came from the botched 3-D renderings and missing places I ran across (or didn't run across, as it were). Things just seemed so half-assed and "un-Apple-like."
But then I started using their turn-by-turn navigation just to see how goofy it was... and was floored to discover that Apple Maps provides better directions than Google Maps. My favorite thing about Apple's directions? They consider what side of the street your destination is on. Google regularly leads you to places while not giving a shit what side of the street it's on. This means you sometimes have to cross over traffic on busy streets... if you can cross at all. Apple? They provide a route that puts your destination on the right so there's no fighting to turn across the street...
So, yes. Apple Maps have some problems. And their navigation isn't perfect (I hate it when Siri says "KEEP LEFT" only to send you into a left-turn-only lane or something), but the more I use the app, the more I love it. And don't get me started on the beautiful vector maps. They load very quickly and are cached MUCH better than Google. Losing your internet connection in rural Georgia isn't nearly the tragedy with Apple, because your maps still work... they just cache so much of the area because the vector art is so small and efficient. Google turns the screen grey if you venture into a new location without internet. Not the best solution. So if you've been avoiding Apple Maps because of the negative hype... you might want to give them a second look. You might just be pleasantly surprised like me!
And... I'm going to have to cut bullets short, because I'm falling asleep as I write them. It's been a lonnnnng week.
There's few things I love in life more than LEGO.
And it's not just the bricks and toys... the LEGO video games are mind-bogglingly entertaining. I've played them all, and haven't been disappointed yet.
Last year I found a new LEGO surprise quite by accident. I was channel-surfing and happened upon what I thought was a video game advertisement. It was actually a trailer for a LEGO Star Wars cartoon special from Cartoon Network.
Enter LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace...
It. Was. AWESOME.
Smart writing, beautiful animation, and funny as hell. I absolutely loved it, and was dying for more.
Little did I know, Cartoon Network released a second installment this past summer. But I only found out about it today... again, quite by accident.
Enter LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out...
Genius. Yet another LEGO triumph.
I really wish that Cartoon Network would come out with these more often. They're not exactly Star Wars cannon but, in many ways, that's the best part because it frees the writers to be even more adventurous in the stories they can tell. If you haven't seen them yet, I highly recommend checking out Cartoon Network to find out when they're playing again. And the original special, Padawan Menace is still available on Blu-Ray and DVD.
Beware of stray casings... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Chips! Chips Ahoy! is not a cookie brand that I enjoy very much. When it comes to mass-produced bags of chocolate chip cookies, I'd rather not go there. And, if I have to, I'd rather go with Famous Amos. But then I saw that Chips Ahoy! has a new Holiday version that I had to try...
They're just like regular Chips Ahoy!... with the addition of candy-coated chocolate chips. They're crunchy and delicious. As are the cookies. If you see them in your local store, they're worth checking out!
• Killers. Forget The Walking Dead... the scariest show on television bar none is a series on Biography Channel called Killer Kids. This highly disturbing mess features documentaries on, you guessed it, killer kids. As in kids who kill their entire families and stuff like that. It is mind-bogglingly, unbelievably horrific, and I accidentally came across it while channel-surfing the other day. If you want nightmares, by all means please tune in.
• Split. Speaking of The Walking Dead... remember the good ol' days when there was no such thing as a "Mid-Season Finale?" Well, it's more and more common now to break up a television into two chunks, airing the first half when the TV season starts in September/October... then withholding the remaining shows of the season until February sometime. It sucks. Especially when The Walking Dead just aired their mid-season finale and now we have to wait until NEXT YEAR to see what happens. Booooooo!
• w00t! And while I'm talking about television, I would be remiss not to mention that the BBC is going to adapt an amazing book by Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, into a six-part series...
The story is about a kind of alternate history where magic existed, but died out. And now its back as the Napoleonic Wars are heating up. What ensues is more than magic, and one of the best reads you'll happen across.
Obviously, I love this book. So this series could be a very good thing. Or a very, very bad thing. Director Toby Haynes has worked on some nice episodes of Dr. Who, so I have high hopes. All I can say to the BBC and all involved... please, PLEASE don't fuck it up. This chance won't happen again.
• Twain. I've had zero interest in taking in any of the big Vegas shows that have taken up residence on The Strip. Celine Dion? Pass. Cher? Pass. David Copperfield? Pass. Donny and Marie? Double Pass. Barry Manilow? Oooh... Pass? I've come very close to flying down for a Penn and Teller show a couple times, but ultimately decided against it. But now Shania Twain is playing at Caesar's and I can't help but be intrigued. I'm not a big fan... and I really don't like Country music... but I've always been fascinated by Shania and have enjoyed her music...
Shania "Still the One" show photo by Getty Images.
What I don't know is if I like the idea of attending her show enough to spend $55 for crappy tickets... $250 for decent tickets... let alone the cost of a hotel and airfare. Apparently I've got two years to make up my mind, so I guess I won't stress about it.
Annnnd... I'm spent. Another very busy week awaits.
Time for my annual wrap-up of my favorite TV shows this year.
Despite being a total television whore, I didn't seem enjoy it as much as I had in previous years. Partly because there wasn't as much great television airing to waste my time on... but mostly because I am just getting burned out on TV. Even so, lucky for me, I still watch entirely too much of the stuff.
THE TWELVE BEST...
#1 The Finder
I loved this show more than I thought it was possible to love a television show. That hasn't happened in a long time. Which means it was a show destined for cancellation which, of course, it was. Then Michael Clarke Duncan died, dashing any hopes for a reunion movie or some kind of conclusion written into Bones. And so I re-watch the old episodes, wondering what could have been.
The fact that I ended up liking this show was a bit of a shock, given that I'm a bit of a Sherlock Holmes purist. The fact that I enjoy it more than the more faithful BBC series is surprising. The fact that it is now my favorite show on television makes no sense at all. And yet... here it is. The casting of Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock and Lucy Liu as Watson is genius. The stories are well-written and make for good mysteries. Everything just works.
Well slap my ass and call me Sally. I had no hope for a television show base on the Green Arrow comic books. And yet... it is perfectly realized for the small screen. The plot is solid. The stories are entertaining. The casting is excellent. What changes they made to the source material serve the medium well. It's not the Green Arrow of the comic books, but it has the feel of a Green Arrow comic book. I couldn't ask for more, and I'm enjoying the show quite a lot.
#4 Raising Hope
Remains one of the best shows on television. Funny, charming, smart, entertaining... everything you want in a series. I had thought that finally getting Jimmy and Sabrina together would be the death knell for the series, but it strengthened it in many ways. Here's hoping they know how to keep things fresh for many more seasons.
Consistently the funniest show on television, and one of the few series which likes to innovate in new and fascinating directions. Unfortunately the latest direction is the firing of show runner Dan Harmon and the eventual departure of Chevy Chase. Marry that to NBC consistently shitting all over the show, and one has to wonder how much longer it can last. Enjoy it while you can.
In many ways, this is the best show on television. But the genre isn't really my thing, so it's not at the top of my list. And yet, it's such compelling television that I enjoy it just the same. The writing has not faltered since the first episode, but it's the way the cast brings the words to life that makes the show such a must-see.
#7 Breaking Bad
If you're not watching the show, you really should check it out. Preferrably from the beginning. Now that we're in the final stretch, things are bound to get even messier. Which is exactly what has made Breaking Bad such a hit with its fans.
#8 Happy Endings
This show has yet to recapture the magic from its awesome first season. But it's still funnier and more entertaining than most of the crap on television, so I keep watching. The problem being that my interest is waning more and more. If they can't find a way to make things interesting again, it may drop off my radar completely.
#9 The Walking Dead
The second season was a bit of a mess after what had come before. Not so surprising considering visionary director Frank Darabont was fired. But then things seemed to come back together in Season 3. Characters that had outlived their usefulness were eliminated... kickass new characters were introduced... and the threat level started to grow. I don't know if Season 4 will continue to improve, or if we're due for a setback, but I plan on watching so I can find out.
#10 Sons of Anarchy
This show seems intent on shaking things up more often than not, but sometimes what gets shaken isn't very effective in the long run. This season it felt as though the writers had no intention of going calmly into the night, and made radical changes that left SOA fans reeling. Deep down, everybody knows where things are ultimately headed with the show... the question has always been "Will the writers have the guts to take us there?" Now we know the answer is unequivocally yes, and I can't wait to enjoy the ride.
#11 Hawaii Five-0
This show had me, then lost me. Then I started watching again and was amazed at how well it had progressed. The chemistry between McGarrett and Dano is some of the best on television... and funny as hell. The stories are uniquely Hawaii and pretty good crime drama as well. Unfortunately, every episode has a fucking Microsoft product demo crammed into it, which brings everything to s screeching halt each week. But if you can ignore that, it's a show that might surprise you.
For the longest time, this show was kind of treading water and didn't seem to have the ambition to do much more than that. Then, almost without warning, things escalated very quickly. By the time we got to the last episode of the season, it was if the writers were throwing everything they could think of to take the story to maximum thrust. I like the cast. I like the concept. And now I'm liking the story. If they have the guts to keep running at this pace, Season Two Three is going to be some excellent television.
A DOZEN MORE WORTH WATCHING...
This modern version of Murder She Wrote still has terrific mysteries every episode. Even better, they've pushed the show forward by finally having Beckett and Castle hook up. As if that weren't enough, the supporting cast is wonderfully competent and vital to the series.
The show may be coming to an end, but it was a staple of my 2012 viewing schedule. Tina Fey can do no wrong in my book.
Rules of Engagement
Getting tired, but's still funny and worth watching.
The New Normal
Surprisingly funny television, even though most of the humor relies on tired stereotypes.
Keeps. Plugging. Along. Fortunately, Shonda Rhimes knows what makes good television, and is constantly shaking things up to keep viewers interested. The airplane crash that took out two popular characters couldn't have been an easy decision... but it was critical in keep the show fresh and moving forward though yet another season. But what happens to keep things interesting next season?
2 Broke Girls
Yeah, it's rude, crude, and isn't very smart... but it's also darn funny. Why they keep clinging to the pretense that the broke girls will eventually dig themselves out of their financial troubles is beyond me. That's the end of the show.
This show is so far under the radar that few people even know it exists. That's a shame, because it's a crime drama that's worth a look.
Hot in Cleveland
By now, I'm over this show, but the constant presence of Betty White cannot be ignored. She is as hilarious as ever, and that alone is enough to keep me watching.
I kind of waffle on this show. It's funny and well-cast, but never seems to reach much. It's the same problems and misunderstandings each episode... but with different people and situations. Oddly enough, it kind of works, and I find myself watching more often than not.
I'm going to be crucified for mentioning this show because everybody I know seems to hate it with a passion... but I think it's funny. Sometimes charming even. Not so much for brash and abrasive Whitney Cummings, but instead for Chris D'Elia, which somehow keeps the show on-track. Yeah, it can be annoying at times, but it's got real heart beneath it all, and that's what keeps me coming back.
This show is not my cup of tea, but it's so incredibly lush and smart that it can't be ignored... even when the drama reaches ridiculous levels. Dame Maggie Smith has just been the icing on the cake.
I am still not 100% sold on Matt Smith as The Doctor, but the show has such fantastic writing and production values that I don't dare ignore it. I'm also in love with Amy Pond, so there's that. Now that she's left the show, I'm a bit worried about the show, so only time will tell if my television future in 2013 will include Doctor Who... but Amy & Rory's replacement, Clara does look promising...
IT'S NOT TV, IT'S PREMIUM CHANNELS...
Game of Thrones
Continues to impress. One can only hope that George R. R. Martin figures out a conclusion to the books before the TV show catches up.
Rarely does a show inhabit such a fully realized environment as Boardwalk Empire. Even if the writing were shit, I would still probably tune in just to look at it.
The Big C
While Laura Linney's character grows more unsympathetic with each new episode, I have to say she's as fascinating as she's ever been. This is in direct contrast to Dexter where I just can't find him interesting any more. Since the next season of The Big C is the last (and oddly abbreviated to four 1-hour episodes) it remains to be seen where Cathy will end up. All I can do is hope that it's worthy of what she's had to face over the past three seasons.
ANIMATION WORTH YOUR TIME...
Continues to be brilliant, relevant commentary on pop culture and society in general. I hope it never ends.
Probably the most bizarre show to ever air on television, and I love every minute of it. I fully realize that the stories of Jake the Dog and Finn the Human are not going to be everybody's cup of tea... but they really should be.
The ultimate spy series, but oh so wrong. How they manage to get away with something so raunchy is a mystery to me. Probably because it's so bloody witty and brilliant.
Burn Notice — Even though I still like the characters, the stories are built on a premise which has grown very tired. I've hoped for a couple seasons now that they will wrap up the show before it gets bad... but I'm starting to lose confidence.
Revenge — The first season of this show was utterly brilliant. Emily Thorne picks a new target each week and then destroys her enemies in clever and darkly humorous ways. This season? Corporate finances and coincidences. How a show so delicious could devolve into something so pathetic and boring is just beyond me.
Modern Family — How many times can Phil Dunphy do something stupid and it still be considered funny? I dunno, but we've long since passed that point.
The Big Bang Theory — Adding Amy Farah Fowler was a stop-gap necessity to keep the show from going stale and repeating itself over and over again. Except now the stop-gap is getting tired.
Parks & Recreation — The show used to be funny because it was so tightly wound. But now it's so expansive, scattered, and decentralized that the laughs are fewer and far between.
Fringe — I still like watching this show, but not nearly as much as I used to. The thrust of Fringe was always the alternate universe. Then that got unceremoniously dumped for a future world which seems so disconnected from what we've known that it doesn't even feel like the same show.
Grimm — The monster of the week aspect of the show is just so tired. There are baby steps made to expand on the mythology of the Grimms, but it's not coming fast enough to save this show from seemingly endless repetition.
American Horror Story — The first season wasn't great, but it was so different from anything else on television that I was compelled to watch. This second season doesn't have that advantage, and seems to be treading water rather than forging out in a brave new direction.
Being Human — At first I resented this show as a poor American copy of the British original. But it quickly grew on me because it had a "voice" that was evolving into something different. But now it's just kind of settled into something that's not nearly as interesting. Yes, they try and pop in some big events to shake things up, but the net effect isn't change enough to keep me watching.
Go On — I really want to like this show because I've been a big fan of Matthew Perry's work in Friends, The West Wing, and Studio 60, but it's just not anywhere near that level. I suppose Perry is okay, but it's too hard to like his character and the supporting cast isn't helping.
How I Met Your Mother — Worn out its welcome years ago. Just reveal the mother and get this over with.
Psych —Probably because of syndication concerns, this show just doesn't seem to grow. Nothing really changes. Even big events like Shawn hooking up with Juliet is played to minimal effect so you barely notice it. As a result, brand new episodes feel like they could have happened in the first season. Something drastic needs to start pushing the show forward or they should just pack it up.
White Colar — Yet another USA Network show that doesn't want to evolve. It seems as if the characters are just caught in a loop so that the episodes can be syndicated more easily. Boring.
Suits — I really enjoyed the first season, but cannot seem to get into the second season for some reason. The characters are ultimately one-note cut-outs that don't engage. Maybe this season I just started to notice that?
SNL — More misses than hits this year. But every once in a while... a surprise that makes it all worthwhile.