Okay... Because I didn't realize the Yahoo! poll requires you to be a Yahoo! member (stupid internet comglomerate), I've decided to post the poll here... Vote away!
In response to the fact that there are more "appropriate" (read: Halloween) outfits for Danica to wear, be advised that she is already scheduled to wear her Halloween outfits on Monday, October 30 and Tuesday, October 31. The outfit you are choosing will be worn Sunday, October 29.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Posted by Steve at 8:22 PM
Very quickly – yes, I watch a lot of TV, but it’s mostly due to the fact that I’m home with my daughter a lot (I’m “working” from home) and because of the lovely TiVo my extraordinary wife picked up for me for my birthday. We mostly just watch things we’re interested in now... we don’t channel surf that much anymore. Besides, because I have a young child who I’m trying to keep off television, we’re trying to have the TV on less.
I covered the new shows last time, so I’ll go back through the line-up and get back to the shows returning from last season. There really are just a few shows from last year that I’m still watching.
“Desperate Housewives” (Sundays at 9 PM, ABC)**
Okay, so everybody complained about a lackluster and relatively directionless second season, but they seem to be back on track in terms of putting the desperation back into the housewives’ lives. The season is definitely structured into acts, with these first few episodes setting up just enough for the rest of the season. It’s just a guilty pleasure.
“Prison Break” (Mondays at 8 PM, FOX)**1/2
Last season, this was the most compelling show on TV for me (remember, I don’t watch “Lost,” nor do I continue to watch “24”). Driven by Wentworth Miller’s quiet portrayal of Michael Schofield, the man who plans for everything, last season was one long tease. Every episode had you guessing about how they were going to pull off the coolest prison break-out ever.
This season, it’s become more difficult to match the magic. I think Fox’s decision to split this show into two halves (one in the fall, one in the spring) is contributing to the odd pacing of this year’s episodes. It took a year to get out of prison, and three days to find the long-lost money of D.B. Cooper? With as much publicity the eight have had in breaking out of Fox River Penitentiary, they can still round around 4 or 5 at a time in oddly mismatched clothes? There have been a few too many close calls and absurdities this season for my taste.
Still, there are few shows that can match Prison Break’s intensity and pacing within each episode. While the season feels disjointed, each episode seems to work on its own. It’s having to know what’s going to happen and the intensity with which each episode is filmed that’s keeping me around. I think the show will pick up again once they get past this lost-treasure nonsense. The spring should bring a more interesting story arc as they move to resolve the conspiracy that surrounds Lincoln’s imprisonment.
“Gilmore Girls” (Tuesdays at 8 PM, CW)**
Okay, so “CW” stands for “Columbia-Warner,” two of the biggest entertainment conglomerates in the world, but it’s still a stupid name. Even dumber was the decision to retain “7th Heaven” as one of the CW’s initial shows (after having the “series finale” air at the end of last season?!). But worst of all was probably the decision to let Gilmore Girls creator/producer Amy Sherman-Palladino go over a contract dispute.
Granted, I think that Sherman-Palladino was looking to set the CW up to fail last year with the unusual storylines that ran through the show, but at least you could count on her wicked sense of pop-culture banter that pitter-pattered its way through the show. While the first few episodes of this season have cleaned up some of the messes, without Sherman-Palladino, the heart of the show seems to be in arrhythmia. Characters seem to be washed of most of last year’s detritus, but it’s almost like when Bobby came back on “Dallas.” You feel like the characters you love are back… but it’s not quite right. It’s like the CW erased part of who the characters were to start again. We’ll stick around, but I think it’s the beginning of the end for this show.
“House” (Tuesdays at 8 PM, FOX)***
I admit it… I want to be House. Who wouldn’t want to be a doctor, speak their mind, get away with almost killing a person two or three times a week, and yet still always be right. It’s like watching my dream come true. The mysterious-disease-almost-kill-a-patient-but-ah!-I’ve-got-it formula of the show is getting old, Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of House makes it worth watching every time it’s on. Too bad those MLB Playoffs are cutting into the doctor’s screen time. At least it’s not as heavily serialized as many of the other shows on this list.
“My Name is Earl” (Thursdays at 8 PM, NBC)***
I admit it… I want to be Earl. Who wouldn’t want to be a lucky s.o.b. who wins $100,000, hangs out at a motel with his brother and their hot maid friend, was married to Jamie Pressley, and only has to go around doing the best he can? Last time, I gave this show two stars, and now after watching a few more episodes, it’s got three.
Last season, I didn’t quite know what to make of this show. Was it smart and insightful or just plain stupid fun? This season, I can definitely say that it’s both. Jason Lee and Jamie Pressley are hilarious, and the flashback sequences are priceless. Earl’s quest to right the wrongs of his life is captivating and oddly compelling. Makes me want to wonder what I’ve done wrong that I can correct to get this karma monkey off my back.
“Grey’s Anatomy” (Thursdays at 9 PM, ABC)**
McDreamy blah blah blah. My wife would watch an hour of Patrick Dempsey eating a sandwich. While the show has some interesting characters, I just want to slap Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith. Talk about whiny and self-absorbed. She was sooooo much hotter in the movie “Old School” than she is in this show. I think they titled this show Grey’s Anatomy because everybody’s had a shot a Meredith.
The first season was better when you were focused on the lives of five fresh interns. You got to see them react to the same situations in their own ways, while wondering how they were going to get along. Now, they’re so separated, you wonder how they’re going to integrate the five back together. At least Katherine Heigl and T.J. Knight do a great job as the show’s hearts.
“ER” (Thursdays at 10 PM, NBC)*1/2
I still remember the first episode of ER that I watched, a videotaped episode in the fall of 1994. It was so moving and real, I knew I had to watch it, because it had a chance to be great. Its characters were compelling and the situations they faced, while set in the frantic world of the ER, felt like something that could happen to you. It was a great show, for a few years, until it hit a lull about three seasons ago.
With the original leads gone, it had to find new characters and a new direction. The show kind of wandered for the past three seasons, but I’m more drawn in this season. They’re still settling in on the characters that will drive the show, but I think they’ve done a good job focusing on Goran Visnjic, Maura Tierney, Mekhi Phifer and Parminder Nagra this year. While there’s not the heart there was with Anthony Edwards, Noah Wyle and Juliana Marguiles (I know, I know… but George Clooney didn’t contribute to the warm-fuzzies), they’ve at least found a relative direction and have tried to create stories around a more limited cast. The first couple of episodes of the season were a bit rushed, but the last couple have seemed promising. The next few episodes with the addition of John Stamos (a good casting move, with a questionable character) could set the table for a fully rejuvenated ER, or they could signal the continuation of the slow spiral to the end.
“Numbers” (Fridays at 10 PM, CBS)*
Being a geek who likes math, I was excited when CBS debuted this show last year. Admittedly, it’s not the most compelling show with the most compelling characters, but I do like the fact that it puts math up on a pedestal, basically saying that you can do anything if you have a few numbers. The math is a little more than Calculus I, but it is always nice to see something thought of as geeky put into a better light. I don’t know why this show is on at 10 PM, since the theme seems to revolve around accepting math into our lives and the crimes aren’t any more gruesome than on some episodes of Law and Order.
Anyway, that’s a round-up of the stuff that I watch these days. You’ll notice that there’s a bunch of shows that are missing: CSI (in all incarnations), Without a Trace, Law & Order (again, all incarnations), The Wire, and every reality TV show out there. I think that I enjoy shows about relationships, which all of these shows are based on. I do catch CSI in syndication every once in a while, and I’ve heard that The Wire is excellent, but since I’ve started back to work, I’ve had to cut back on what I’m watching, especially with basketball season approaching.
BTW, I did watch the pilot episode of “30 Rock” (Wednesdays at 8 PM, NBC) with Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, and Tracy Morgan. It was average at best. I love the actors in it, but it almost seems a parody of NBC’s other show about late-night TV, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” Granted, it is supposed to be a parody, but aren’t parodies supposed to be funny? Alec Baldwin is great, Tina Fey is subtle, and Tracy Morgan is a little over the top. I didn’t feel like it covered or stabbed at anything new, and it was sluggish in terms of its pacing. The jokes stretch from Alec Baldwin’s hammy overacting to Tina Fey’s quiet jabs at the everyday absurdities that surround us. It was a pilot, so it might get better. It just needs to go more over the top.
One last thing – since “Heroes” is a hit, I’ll push you to watch the other two shows I really enjoy right now: “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” and “Friday Night Lights.” I don’t know why “Studio 60’s” ratings are falling, but they shouldn’t be because it’s a well-written show with a lot of heart that’s well done.
I know that “Friday Night Lights” isn’t reaching the audience it should because people think it’s only about football, but I assure you that’s not the case. It’s a show about the pressures of life and the relationships we use to get through them, set in a football context. Besides, the New York Times likes it.
Posted by Steve at 8:20 PM
Thursday, October 19, 2006
The United States is rapidly approaching 300 million in population. This is a growth of 100 million over the span of 39 years (1967-2006), which is 13 years faster than the previous 100 million jump (1915-1967). Birth rates and immigration have contributed to the population growth, and the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the 300-millionth American might not be a newborn – he or she might be an immigrant.
Of course, there’s only one real reason I’m discussing this: Did you know that the 200-millionth American was a HUGE story back in 1967? So huge that Life magazine detailed his birth and followed him for a number of years. His name? Bobby Woo! Well, Robert K. Woo, Jr. (I didn't know that Asians named their kids after themselves. Hmm...). He’s a Chinese-American who was born and raised in Atlanta and speaks with a slight Southern accent.
Of course, being Asian-American, he had to follow some stereotypes: he’s a lawyer, married to another lawyer, and has two children. Oh, and he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard (B.A. in the History of Science?!), with a J.D., cum laude from Harvard as well, serving as an editor on the Harvard Law Review. On top of that, his work as a litigator for King & Spalding (Atlanta, GA) now involves pharmaceutical and medical device cases. Gee… Lawyer from Harvard with a B.A. in something dealing with science whose work involves medicine and married to another lawyer. Raise your hand if this is the life your mother wanted you to lead. *Hands waving furiously*
By the way, just in case you were wondering, he said that the line, “Hey, I’m the 200-millionth American!” does not get you laid.
Just in case you wanted to get in touch with him:
Office: (404) 572-4940
Posted by Steve at 8:20 AM
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
For those of you who don’t know, Kindra teaches special-needs kids in grades 6-8. She has to deal with this on a daily basis:
One of her students, a little Asian girl we’ll call “Kellie,” needs help using the pencil sharpener (it’s a hand-crank sharpener). Kellie asked one of the aides to sharpen her pencil for her, which the aide promptly did. Upon receiving her pencil back, Kellie held it up to eye-level, thought about it for a second and said:
“It’s okay... Maybe it’ll grow back.”
Posted by Steve at 4:51 PM
Friday, October 13, 2006
Capitalism + Possibility = Staying up late for crap that I may or may not need.
What is it about having to be the first? What is it about having to get the best deal - on anything, whether I need it or not? What is it about sitting in front of my laptop, constantly refreshing a web page to see if the newest deal item has popped up? Even if it's a Snap Sights 35mm Waterproof Camera ($7.99 + $5 S/H)?
That's what I get for living in a world that allows a commercial website to, for one 24-hour period, post deals on questionable products one after the other after the previous product has sold out. Questionable in two respects: 1) quality of product, and 2) actual need for said products in my life (or anyone else's, for that matter). Now, obviously, not every product is questionable, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this. The kicker is that you have to wait and wade through a dozen or so questionable offers to find an item that may actually be a bargain. As to whether or not one actually needs that item... Well, that's another question.
The sad thing is, I absolutely HAVE to see what's next. It's ridiculously addictive. Like heroin addictive. There's no quitting cold turkey, and there's no coming down. Because what if I came down at the wrong time? What if, during that period of time when I wasn't rolling or tripping or whatever the hell the kids call it these days, what if I missed that not-quite-what-I-wanted-but-will-settle-for-this-anyway deal of a lifetime (or, at least, the next week)? What if I missed that GREAT DEAL! on a SanDisk 256MB MP3/WMA Player with FM Tuner and Voice Recorder!?!?
And again, the worst part of it is... I don't even need it. Any of it, really. I have so much crap in my home, but I just a little addict who needs to keep spending money I don't have because... IT'S A GREAT DEAL. Come to think of it, it's akin to being hammered at the club. You know sure as hell you don't need another drink, but oooo... the lights... the music... the hormones... "Yeah, okay... Ah'll have anudder... Bring me a drink, damnit! Whoo-hoo!!! Oooooohhhh... I'm gonna be sick. *Gulp* Where's that drink?"
In fact, to be honest, it's 12:42 AM, and I'm writing this blog while waiting for the Kensington Wireless Convertible Pocket Mini Mouse (It's a desktop mouse! Pop it out of the shell and it's a laptop mouse! It's wireless! For only $7.99 + $5 S/H!) to sell out so I can pick up... whatever's next. I just need to find a deal. A good deal. On something. Something that I need. Sort of. Maybe. Shhhhh... Don't tell my wife.
Argh... goodnight. Maybe. Just one more... Yeah, that's it... Just one more.
Crap. I just found out that this thing could go on from 24-72 hours. HOURS.
Posted by Steve at 1:01 AM
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Living in Orange County, California, there are only two ways you can truly tell when fall starts: 1) the average daytime temperature runs in the mid-70's, and 2) there are a bunch of new shows on television. Unfortunately, that's also how you kinda tell when spring starts. Regardless, it's definitely fall.
Now, I've always been a pop-culture guy who gets sucked in by the multitude of ads in newspapers, magazines, on television, and online, so it was inevitable that I would sample many of the new shows that have been popping up. Of course, things have gotten markedly easier for me since my incredible (INCREDIBLE!) wife got me one of the best birthday gifts I've ever received, not to mention one of the greatest inventions ever, the TiVo (but that's a whole other post).
Since recording and watching shows is now easier than ever, I've been able to sample a number of the new shows, and I like a lot of what I'm watching. The down side of this is that drawn-out, serialized shows are the current rage in television, so, while I'll never miss an episode (assuming recording goes as planned), I'm on pins-and-needles both watching and waiting for each show. At least I can fast-forward through the commercials, and we've eliminated the ridiculous number of video tapes that I would've needed (though my wife will be quick to point out that I still have a ridiculous number of video tapes... if anybody wants to pitch in on another DVD recorder for me and then come over and convert everything for me, you'll have Kindra's eternal gratitude and, probably, the rights to our next child).
With more time on my hands since the recent demise of my career, I tried a lot of shows that I probably wouldn't have, since serialized shows tend to create a great deal of anxiety for me, because I always have to know what's going on. As a side note, I'm probably the one person in the nation who does not currently, nor has ever (that's EVER) watched an episode of "Lost." I know I'd be into it, but with all the hours I'd been working over that last few years, I just couldn't afford to get sucked into a show that I know would drive me nuts. I also do not follow "Smallville," which is probably some comic-book geek crime that I'm committing, but I'm waaaaaaay behind after watching the very first two episodes five seasons ago (besides, the teenage hero cameos are starting to worry me - Oliver Queen, okay... Green Arrow? Questionable). Anyway, I'm watching a bunch of shows now that are going to drive me nuts.
Because I know me, and I know that I'll take my sweet time discussing each of the shows, I'll just give a quick rundown now so that you, too, can jump on the bandwagons that I'm currently riding. Here's a list of the shows that I currently watch (organized by the day and time that they are on, rated by stars, 1-4 in terms of what I really watch):
Desperate Housewives (9 PM, ABC)**
Brothers and Sisters (10 PM, ABC)*
Prison Break (8 PM, FOX)**1/2
Heroes (9 PM, NBC)****
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (10 PM, NBC)***1/2
Tuesday (a.k.a. Quite-the-dilemma Day)
Gilmore Girls (8 PM, CW - which might surpass "UPN" as dumbest station name)**
House (8 PM, FOX)***
Friday Night Lights (8 PM, NBC) - no rating because there's only been 1 episode
The Nine (10 PM, ABC) - again, just 1 episode
My Name is Earl (8 PM, NBC)**
Ugly Betty (8 PM, ABC)*
Grey's Anatomy (9 PM, ABC)**
ER (10 PM, NBC)*1/2
Six Degrees (10 PM, ABC)1/2
Numb3rs (10 PM, CBS)* - by the way, does this show merit a 10 PM slot? It should at least be a little juicier.
Off day - actually, there are a number of animated shows in the morning and one in the evening.
Here are some quick rundowns on new shows:
Best New Shows
"Heroes" (Mondays at 9 PM, NBC) ****
I'm biased to this show. No bones about it. I'm a comic geek, this is about real-life superheroes, with art by comic artist Tim Sale, and executive-produced by comic writer Jeph Loeb... The pilot episode was incredible (though the climax could've been handled a little better), but the next couple of shows have been uneven. I'm a little skeptical about whether or not they can pull it off, and they might have designed a better villan, but I'm really excited every time it comes on. Besides, it has the best new character on TV - a real "Super Hiro!"
"Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" (Mondays at 10 PM, NBC) ***1/2
They had high expectations for this show, and I think it's reaching them. Aaron Sorkin, the creator, who also created "The West Wing," lives up to his billing. It's a well-written, complex, fun ride, though the last episode was a little weaker than the first three.
"Friday Night Lights" (Tuesdays at 8 PM, NBC)
There's only been one episode so far, but it's right there with "Heroes" for best pilot. Now, I haven't seen the movie nor have I read the book, but the pilot was produced, acted and filmed excellently, despite the cliche twist towards the end of episode. If it continues to explore its ground with the same kind of intensity and thoughfulness, it'll definitely be up there. My only issue is that I'm biased towards a TV show about sports, coaches, teams and underdogs. But it is nice to have high school kids who sound like high school kids.
"Brothers and Sisters" (Sundays at 10 PM, ABC)*
To be honest, I've only watched one full episode of this show and that was the second one. The pilot almost turned me off completely in the first 10 minutes, after throwing out 12 characters in a hurry. I thought that it originally had too much going on, but that is the way it is with big families. I did like the second episode, so I'll keep watching. If it evolves past the superficial storylines that it's begun wth, it could be a contender.
"The Nine" (Wednesdays at 10 PM, ABC)
The pilot was well-done and set up the intertwined storylines well (in fact, just a little behind "Heroes" and "Friday Night Lights"), but again, the payoff is the issue. Can the writers pull it off? Can the actors convey the necessary emotions? It's easy enough to set up something interesting. It's another to finish it. Also, how far can you take it? It's about nine people trapped for fifty-two hours with two bank robbers. Can you stretch it past this season? Eh, it's got "Lost" leading it, so who knows? I'll probably be drawn into it.
"Ugly Betty" (Thursdays at 8 PM, ABC)*
So after two episodes, she's still ugly and not getting any cuter (physically). The pilot was uneven, if funny and endearing, so we'll stick around. It is funny contrasting the regular Betty and the unreal fashion world she lives in. It'll be interesting to see how it catches on with TV audiences.
"Six Degrees" (Thursdays at 10 PM, ABC)1/2
Interesting concept. That's sort of about it. Hopefully, they'll just need some time to develop, but the characters and storylines are relatively banal. This is my problem - no matter how average the story, I have to know the end.
Well, that's enough for now. I'll go into a bit more detail on my viewing habits as well as the shows. There are still a few shows debuting this week, most notably (for me, anyway) NBC's "30 Rock." Set your TiVo (or get one if you don't have one!). I'll be wasting away watching them in the meantime.
Posted by Steve at 7:45 PM