Fri, January 28
This is ancient and utterly meaningless, but I've been thinking about it a lot lately, so I decided to dig it up and share it. I sent the following to Arksie in August of 2002:
I was thinking about Jane Leeves.
I think she needs to do a guest spot on "Buffy," where she dates Anthony Stewart Head. Here's why: so far on television, she's dated a Miles and a Niles. There aren't many other opportunities out there.
Anyhoo, I thought you'd enjoy that.
I kind of miss when my mind was sharp enough that it was coming up with entertaining things like that all the time.
Wed, January 26
There's no justice with the Oscars any more. Maybe there never was. Maybe I was just a green rookie who couldn't – or wouldn't – see through the sham. (Read more.)
Thu, January 20
As a web browser, Firefox is a far cry better than a kick in the teeth. That may not sound like much, but compared to Microsoft's Internet Explorer, a kick in the teeth would be a welcome holiday. (Read more.)
Wed, January 19
That was close!—2:37 PM
I've been tracking some packages which I'm hoping to take delivery of this week, because I want them to go with me on my trip to Boston this weekend. I still use the ancient pH7media start page to do my online delivery tracking, because the "recent searches" feature will store my package tracking numbers and allow me to reuse them if I'm logged in.
Anyway, the packages are here! (Yay!) And, today when I went to load the page, it was blue instead of yellow the way it usually is. For a second, my heart skipped a beat. Had the Homeland Security department really downgraded out Terror Threat Level? And, on the eve of the inauguration? Wow, I guess they really were just using fear to control the populace, and now that the election is won, they can let their guard down.
Then I visited the DHS site and realized no, the Threat Level is still yellow. They just redesigned the site, so the sneaky little way I was determining the color is outdated and must be re-coded. All is right with the world.
By the way, I was thinking about the Bushies' use of the vague terror threat as a means of control, and the whole gay marriage amendment controversy, and I realized: as stupid as the color-coded Terror Threat chart is, it's a sublimely twisted piece of Machiavellian genius. In one stroke, they created a way to perpetuate ambiguous fear without specific details and they co-opted the rectangular rainbow – basically the logo of the homosexual community – and tied it to Osama bin Laden. Surely I'm not the first to make this connection, but I haven't heard anyone else saying it.
My God, Why?—2:28 PM
During lunch today, I was watching last night's episode of Scrubs on TiVo. The local NBC affiliate scrolled an announcement across the bottom of the screen, which at first I disregarded because I assumed it was another mudslide warning or something. But then I looked more closely. It was an offer to win two tickets to the first-ever Scrubs taping before a live audience, coming up later this month.
I really hope this is a one-time thing. If the extended absence of Scrubs is to be taken as a sign that NBC is tinkering with it – and they're going to turn it into a multi-camera, live-audience show... well, that's just awful. How would they even do that? Shoehorn some bleachers into that hospital in Alameda where they film it? What a fundamentally terrible idea.
The other thing I learned by watching Scrubs (or, actually the tail of The Biggest Loser, which was on the beginning of the recording): the host of The Biggest Loser was Caroline Rhea. I hadn't realized! But, really, that's just about perfect. I can't think of anyone better to host a show called The Biggest Loser – and if it's about fat people, all the better!
Mon, January 17
Re: Its time to Rethink TV—11:25 PM
DirecTV president and CEO Mitch Stern (or, lackeys acting on his behalf) sent out a jolly e-mail message to me and other DirecTV subscribers, detailing their exciting new plans for 2005. Among them was the new DirecTV DVR without TiVo that we've been hearing so much about in the press. I took the opportunity to reply, with my objection to the TiVo-killer concept that the media has been forecasting. (In the interest of politeness, I didn't take Mitch to task for his misuse of "Its.")
For those of you DirecTV subscribers (and I know at least three of you!) get motivated and send something similar via the feedback page at DirecTV's website.
Thank you for your e-mail message about DirecTV's big plans for 2005. I'm excited to be and remain a loyal DirecTV customer. One item on your list of upcoming improvements troubles me, though: the new DVR. I've been a loyal subscriber for over three years and I'm personally responsible for converting three new households to your service with my glowing recommendations. But I joined up with DirecTV because of TiVo, and not the other way around. We've been hearing a lot in the press about DirecTV's plans to "go it alone" with its DVR service and "leave TiVo behind." While technologically I agree that it's exciting and profitable for DirecTV to pursue new advancements in DVR functionality, I would sincerely hope that from a marketing and customer service standpoint, DirecTV will continue to acknowledge its long-standing and successful relationship with TiVo and TiVo's loyal (some say, fanatic) subscriber base. Please, let's prove the hysterical media prognosticators wrong: don't cut TiVo out of the loop when you can successfully coexist. And please don't decrement functionality for "DirecTiVo" owners as you move forward with other offerings. As your subscribers, we count on you to provide the best television experience available. Your pricing, your service, and the choices you provide to your customers all contribute to that excellence - and I sincerely hope that you will continue to excel in each of these areas. Thanks for your attention and thanks for the astounding service you provide - I look forward to an exciting 2005!
Fri, January 14
Count Me Blue—3:54 PM
Tired of yellow? Too straight to wear pink? Another color has taken the insanely popular imprinted silicone bracelet market by storm: blue. Now you can proudly remind the world that you think Bush is an asshole – just in time for inauguration day!
(For those who still have their heads up their asses: Color Me Red is also available. To each his own: America's a melting pot!)
This is a cute idea, and I hope Kerry (who was seldom photographed without his yellow Livestrong bracelet) will be wearing one. But the real reason it appeals to me is that after driving around in Florida for a week and a half, inundated with bumper stickers championing W or demanding support for our troops, my idea was to come up with a bracelet that read "WWOTD?" for "What Would Our Troops Do?" as an update to the "What Would Jesus Do?" bracelets of the '90s. Since we all know our troops are more important and more deserving of our respect than Jesus, anyway.
After all, our troops have the mystical power of transferability. You can support them and simultaneously not support them. For example: don't support Bush? Then you don't support our troops. Don't support a doctrine of preemptive war? Then you don't support our troops, or any war they might fight in. Don't support the Iraq war? Then you don't support our troops and you're a deluded pacifist who would rather have the King of England come over here and push us around than allow a single bullet to be fired in a foreign theatre of combat. And you're a traitor. And probably a terrorist.
You've got to admit, our troops have achieved some pretty impressive things in the area of jingoistic metaphorical cover for any area of dissent. If that's not worthy of memorializing in a cheap plastic doodad, then I don't know what is.
"...you go to war with the intelligence you have, made up to look like the intelligence you want."
You know I love to beat a dead horse, but when it comes to the Bush administration, the Iraq war, the WMD thing, the presidential campaign... sometimes it's less depressing to just leave it alone.
I realized this week, that's exactly their strategy! Let this nonsense fester for so long that we tire ourselves out yelling about it like the Scavo kids pulling that sled across the yard in Desperate Housewives. Then, when an investigative panel forces them to admit two years later that their entire pretense for the war was as false as we've said all along, we're too exhausted to care any more. As an added bonus, lots of long-haired protesters in Birkenstocks have been seen on TV saying the same thing over the same period, so the vast, soggy midsection of red-stater America (when they stop taking potshots at queers from the back of their pickup trucks long enough to tune into Fox News) have completely discounted the "no WMDs" argument as the lunatic ravings of a bunch of hippie crackpots. It doesn't make a dent in their love for Bush to hear these claims validated; if anything, it strengthens their belief that he's being persecuted by an unchecked media with a liberal agenda, and they'll defend him more staunchly than ever.
Okay, that's enough. My dead horse has now been beaten so completely that it's reduced to tiny, airborne subparticles like in the Itchy & Scratchy version of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."
I'm just glad BC04's gold-plated, fur-lined inaugural committee has skipped the bill on security for the inauguration of that sick, evil fucker. Maybe DC will balk at paying for extra snipers, and we'll get to see a real show next week!
Thu, January 13
Do it ironically!—2:36 PM
I'm a big fan of doing things ironically. It's a great way to provide cover for enjoying things you know you should be above enjoying. Like, "I'm too cool to watch Antiques Roadshow. I'll watch Antiques Roadshow ironically." (What's funny about this is that I'm not cool enough to be too cool for anything, which means if you think about it, I do things ironically... ironically.)
So, the over-glitzy tongue-in-cheek style of Las Vegas allows me to watch it ironically, and the soundtrack to A Mighty Wind allows me to listen to folk music ironically. Stuff like that.
Another thing that's fun to do ironically is instant-messenger acronyms. If you've spent any time on IM, or watched any show on the WB, you've seen IM acronyms. LOL is "laughing out loud", IMHO is "in my humble opinion," and so on. They're unbelievably stupid.
But my friends and co-workers (and ex-co-workers) and I are on IM constantly. So, we've come up with a few abbreviations that we can use ironically: they're dopey enough that the point of using them is to call attention to how dumb it is to use IM acronyms. It started with YATP which stands for "You're A True Pal," and was very quickly augmented to the superlative YARTP ("Really True Pal"). Along the way, we've added other phrases, like NIGI for "Now I Get It." Years ago, Andy and I had a whole conversation using nothing but acronyms. Like:
Me: IDK. W? BK?
Which is: "Do you want to go to lunch today?" "Where are you thinking of going to lunch?" "I don't know. Wendy's? Burger King?" "I guess Wendy's would be OK." (It's not that hard to do when you know the context; we had virtually this exact conversation every day around 11:40, so it makes it a lot easier to guess what letters stood for.)
Anyway, recently I came up with one that I'm relatively proud of, and I'm doing what I can to make it catch on. When Rush (you know him as "Anonymous Coward") heard about it, he encouraged me to "make sure to blog this; that way you can take appropriate credit." Which is not only a good idea, but since I refer to this site as a blog only ironically, it seemed like a perfect fit.
Here it is: help me circulate it. FSOS - it stands for "for sake of same" which you might use thusly: "I can't believe they're making me redesign this website just for the sake of redesigning it." Instead you could say: "They're making me redesign this site FSOS." Isn't that awesome? (Aw, c'mon. Work with me here. Even if you have to do it ironically.)
Wed, January 12
By popular demand, I present the story of my most extravagant foray into wildly tasteless humor: inserting myself into the well known 1968 photo of Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a prisoner, then pissing off a bunch of snooty, PC New York babies with it. (Read more.)
Wonderfalls on DVD!—3:13 PM
Coming next month on DVD, the entire series of Wonderfalls, ignorantly canceled by Fox before people even heard what night it was on.
Fox, like most networks, has no idea whether a show is good or not, thanks to the fact that all television programming executives are mean, stupid morons. In many ways, it's astonishing a show like Wonderfalls ever got the green light. But they did everything they could to kill it after that! It moved nights twice (in four episodes) and had very little promotional support – and what it had was misguided. Just because the marketing team doesn't understand a show doesn't meant it's a bad show. And if it fails because they couldn't sell it to an audience, they should be fired first; the show should be canceled second.
Anyway, the weasels at Fox pulled the plug way early, but the bean-counting weasels twenty stories below crunched the numbers and realized that the network could recoup some of its production costs if they charged viewers to watch the show on DVD rather than trying to charge advertisers to support the show on television. (Isn't that what TV networks are for, though? I'm envisioning a future with 500 channels of static – or Turbie Twist ads – and if you want to watch a TV show you have to just wait for it to come out on DVD.)
So, join me in subsidizing the moronic practice of canceling a viable show and then charging for it at Best Buy. Pre-order Wonderfalls. You'll be glad you did.
The best part of the Amazon description of this DVD set: "All 13 episodes, including 9 that never aired" FUCK YOU, FOX PROGRAMMING WEASELS!!
Messing with the locals—1:00 PM
I'm not sure why, but I just thought of this today for the first time in a long time. I remember a family vacation years and years ago, when I decided it would be really funny to cause a little scene. I begged my father to participate, but he refused.
The plan was: I thought it'd be hilarious to walk into a restaurant, and when they seated us at a booth by the window, I'd slide in so I was next to the window. Then, I'd just kind of behave oddly for the next few minutes. Nothing too wild, just kind of seeming uncomfortable, just enough so the waitress would notice and wonder what was going on. Then, after that had gone on for a few minutes, my dad would lean toward her and say, "You'll have to pardon my son. He can't see through glass."
I thought it would've been a riot, but Dad was never on board.
The other thing I dreamed up but never tried was to belt out, right after entering the place, "Oh, Dad. I left my jacket in the Ferrari. Can I have the keys?"
Sun, January 9
Lava in the Afternoon—6:04 PM
Today I braved the deluge and caught one last screening of The Incredibles at El Capitan before it leaves on Wednesday. (Ah, the beauty of digital projection... the film looked exactly as flawless as it did opening night.) This meant that I had to take a break in my Alias marathon, right as Season Two was really coming to a head.
And, since they were piping the Incredibles score into the theatre lobby – and the Disney Store next door where I scored some amazing going-out-of-business deals – and I had the score on in the car for the drive over (natch), this meant that I haven't heard a single note of music all weekend that wasn't composed by Michael Giacchino. (Except for 30 seconds of Merv Griffin during a Jeopardy! break on Saturday. Who doesn't know the Basques? I mean, other than me.) Not that I mind, of course. Mikey G is quite a whiz, and I'm falling in love with his Alias music all over again. Now that I'm familiar enough with the Incredibles score to practically be able to hum it all the way through, I've been able to realize how many of the same themes have been available on Alias all along. Giacchino seems kind of new, but he'll give W. G. Snuffy Walden a run for his money, I'll bet!
"Blind Justice"—12:26 AM
I received e-mail from the "Entertainment Weekly" Front Row Panel, which is basically a shoddily managed online market research effort. Every so often they send out a note and ask for some reactions to products or advertising. In addition you can vote in the Critical Mass, in which readers' responses to new movies are tabulated and displayed alongside critics' scores in the magazine. I usually only vote for movies I've seen, but movies that need torpedoing like Shrek 2 or Christmas with the Kranks get an F vote from me sight unseen. You're welcome, America.
Anyway, today's note was to respond to the trailer for a new ABC show called Blind Justice. (I shouldn't say "new ABC show" – I should say "potential ABC show" because I could really see them not airing this one.) In it, Ron Eldard plays a policeman who loses his sight in some sort of on-duty shootout and becomes a blind policeman. It looks really corny (and Bochco's name is on it, so there), but I adore Eldard from the Men Behaving Badly days, plus a particularly good appearance on Dinner for Five – and let's not forget The House of Sand and Fog. Still, calling this Blind Justice is like calling Martial Law Martial Law. Except in the case of Martial Law it was supposed to be stupid and punny because it was a stupid, tongue-in-cheek show. In this case, it just removes that tiny glimmer of a chance that the show could be taken seriously at all. In the survey (sign up at frontrowpanel.com and maybe they'll let you take it!), I said I might watch Blind Justice if I happened across it, and I said I'd never recommend it to a friend. They asked why not? Here's what I said.
To be honest, the title. I think Ron Eldard is a really underrated actor and I like his TV work a lot. From the events in the trailer, the show could go either way: be really interesting and thought-provoking, or be very formulaic and a little silly with the "got something to prove" angle and the way he seems to just be a regular cop like anyone else until this incident and then afterwards he's the most virtuous cop in history. But any benefit of the doubt that Bochco might actually deliver a show with a well rounded, interesting character is shot by the stupid punny title. I might TiVo an episode to see where Eldard takes the character, but if I were to recommend "Blind Justice" to any of my friends, they would laugh in my face.
Sun, January 2
To the Garber Go the Spoils—1:40 PM
"I don't sell airplane parts. I never sold airplane parts."
So it's begun. With the premiere of Alias season four just around the corner, I've at long last begun my marathon catch-up session, starting with season one (which I've seen) and continuing through two (saw about an episode and a half) and three (who's that blonde girl?). At present, the plan is to start season four on Saturday the 15th. For one thing, Alias was never meant to be a mid-week show, ABC is just getting cute putting two Bad Robot shows back-to-back. Plus, I always preferred Alias in two-hour blocks, so there's no reason to kill myself trying to be ready by this Saturday. (By the time I found out that the premiere is two hours this plan was already in place; sue me.) Who knows if I'll make it, but the point is, I'm watching Alias again and dear God do I love Victor Garber! As soon as he popped up on the screen, I literally yelped with delight. Garber!
I'd forgotten so much about why I love this show. Which was partly the point of my sabbatical in the first place. The show was just too good – I had to delay it, let it breathe, then really savor it. Watching it again, starting with the kickass pilot (among the kickassiest of all pilots), I'm impressed again with how good it is. Even watching it for the fourth time, I still get chills when Taiwanese Jon Voight comes through that door and starts making threats.
It's striking, though, how much the show reeks of 2001. From the few microseconds of footage that I've been unable to avoid seeing from seasons three and four (damn on-air promos!), it's clear that the style of the show has grown up a lot. Not that I've ever had any problem with the style – its slick, filmic feel was an expensive and groundbreaking choice at the time, and I simply eat it up – it's just really interesting how something so young (relatively) can still have a very definitive vintage to it. Fantastic show, though. It's a shame the college-student-as-secret-agent thing fell away so quickly, but I understand why it had to. The double agent/family struggle element needed more space. And then there's the unrequited/semi-requited romance (Don't tell me anything! I already know too much!), which, in my opinion is unnecessary here as it is in Crichton's new book State of Fear. (Further review forthcoming, but keep in mind that's "forthcoming" in the onebee sense, which means possibly coming soon and being excellent but just as possibly being forgotten forever.) Still, just like Lost, Alias is so good that it can have a few imperfections and still qualify as flawless in my book.
And, isn't Jennifer Garner amazing? Garber is so mesmerizingly sublime that I often forget that Garner holds her own quite well. Even in just the pilot, there are two or three moments when she's carrying the entire weight of the fledgling yet-to-be phenomenon on her shoulders, and she pulls it off with poise and grace. There's a reason the show has become such a cult hit, and there's a reason she's doing quite well for herself in the movies – and she's a big part of both. (Let's just hope she can survive her current choice of boyfriend.)
Also, I know everyone maligns Marshall, the Kevin Weisman character who blends James Bond's Q with Woody Allen's Fielding Mellish – but I think he's excellent. Weisman does a fantastic job of carrying all the comedy in those scenes: the timing, the delivery, everything. He's up there alone without a net, and to my mind, he does a superb job. And let's not forget fantastic music, by Michael Giacchino, who's also scored Lost and The Incredibles – beat that track record!
All right, that's it for now. I've got to get back to Alias because already I can't wait for that moment in the second- or third-to-last episode when a newly unmasked Bradley Cooper intones, and I quote, "WHAAAOAOAHAAAAAH!!!" (Plus, Sarah Shahi! Yum!)