Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Life as a Television Fan

I have an interesting relationship with television.

My viewing habits are not the same as most people, primarily because I don't actually own a television. I haven't purposefully seen a broadcast since the early episodes of this season, and that was because I happened to be in a place where it was on.

I love television. It is, by far, my favorite visual medium. Movies are great, but there's only so much you can convey in a two-hour movie. A typical season of an hour-long television show allows nearly 16 hours (not including commercials) to convey the heart and message behind an idea, the characters have time to stretch their legs and breathe, and stories have time to have nuance and finally come to a logical conclusion.

I don't watch television as an intellectual escape, nor do I turn it off to drown out the silence. As a result, I am not attracted to shows like "Two and a Half Men" or "According to Jim," but I am drawn to shows that make me laugh because they earn the joke and shows that make me think because they earn the thoughtfulness. They don't go for the easy laugh or the obvious one, nor do they use false sentimentality or underhandedness to trick me into caring. When they do, I check out; I stop caring. I don't have room in my life for anything other than sincerity.

There is a line in Aaron Sorkin's ill-fated series "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" in which the head writer (Matt Albie, played by Matthew Perry) says to the female lead of the show-within-a-show (Harriet Hayes, played by Sarah Paulson) about why a joke didn't work in dress rehearsal when it did during the table reading.

Harriet: What did I do wrong?
Matt: You asked for the laugh.
Harriet: What did I do at the table read?
Matt: You asked for the butter.

I want my shows to ask for the butter, not ask for the laugh. And like Harriet, they're far more likely to get the laugh if they don't beg for it, but let it come.

When I find a show that works, I tend to devour it. I don’t always keep track of series when they’re on the air, but I will find a show years after it has started or even after it has completely ended. I discovered “Arrested Development” after it was finished and burned through the seasons on Hulu as fast as time would allow. There are similar stories for “Lost” and “House.” Even “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly,” crown jewels of geeky cult classics, were lost on me until after they were off the air.

I wish I could be the person who instinctively knows what is going to be worth watching. I can sometimes get lucky, like I did with “Life” and appear to be with “Community,” but those times are rare. I am unable to support a show while it is on the air because I don’t know it’s worth watching until it’s already been well established. “The Office” or “30 Rock” are perfect examples of this.

I can’t afford to spend all of my time looking for the cream of the crop, I just have to hope it rises in time for me to enjoy it. If you’ve found the cream, let people know about it. Talk about television; what you saw last night, what you’re looking forward to, what you hate. Nearly everyone can relate to television, and you can discuss it with anyone from snobs like me to people watching the most base of reality shows. If they can’t, you probably don’t want to be talking to them anyway.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Glee - Musical Comedy or Comedic Musical

I love musicals. There's something about a rousing musical number that I just can't get enough of. In recent years, there have been far too few examples of quality musical for me to partake of. The remake of Hairspray, the movie version of Rent, and a few musical episodes of TV shows are pretty much all we've had for a while.

We've also had quite the drought of good television in recent years, especially when it comes to new shows. The Office and 30 Rock continue to please in the 30-minute category, Lost and Chuck are both good but on hiatus until after the Winter Olympics, and Jay Leno has destroyed NBC's entire 10pm block. That's why Glee is such a breath of fresh air.

Glee is the tale of a high school teacher (Matthew Morrison) taking over the glee club after the last sponsor (Stephen Tobolowsky) is forced to leave. He recruits a ragtag band of vocally-talented misfits including an exceptionally talented and annoyingly driven star-to-be (Lea Michele), the quarterback of the football team (Cory Monteith), and a wheelchair-bound musician (Kevin McHale).

Glee is one of those rare shows that are genuinely funny while integrating music. Jane Lynch is hilarious as the champion cheerleading coach out to destroy the glee club, and each of the other characters have their own funny idiosyncrasies scatter in among their character development. My only real complaint on that point is that the fake pregnancy of Mr. Shu's wife Teri (Jessalyn Gilsig) has lost its charm, but that is the only part of the show that lacks charm. This show has definitely made it to my regular rotation.

Watch it on Hulu.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm a Winner!

Yahoo Awards Center

Yahoo Awards Center
124 Stockport Road, Longsighted, Manchester M60 2DB - United Kingdom

This is to inform you that you have won a prize money of One Million British Pounds (£1,000,000.00) for 2009 Prize promotion which is organized by YAHOO, AOL & WINDOWS LIVE every (2) yrs.

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WARNING!Do not tell people about your Prize Award until your money is successfully handed over to you to avoid disqualification that may arise from double claim.

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Yahoo shall not be held responsible for any loss of fund arising from the above mentioned. PLS SEND YOUR REPLY TO YOUR CLAIMING MANAGER EMAIL ADDRESS

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

General Update

I find myself on the verge of a new chapter in my life, one that has be scared out of my mind. Starting tomorrow, I will be moving to Richmond, KY. Home of the EKU Colonels, Lake Reba, and now, Nathan Adkins. Money is tight and stress is high, but I still feel good about the whole thing.

I start at Best Buy on Saturday, which will be pretty awesome. I'm looking forward to being around computers in a work-related way on a regular basis. I lost my edge while at Walmart, but I'll be back up to speed in no time flat.

One of the things that is going to be interesting about this change is keeping myself fed. I would like to keep a log of the things that I eat and how cheaply I am able to do so. Should be fun. I have several recipes I would like to try out once I get the financial situation in a bit of control.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Julie & Julia

Over the weekend, V and I went to see "Julie & Julia" at the local Cinemark. First off, let me say this: theater chains are completely corrupt. The reason movie attendance is down is not because of the evils of pirating, nor can it be blamed (solely, at least) on the sorry state of our economy. The reason, by my completely arbitrary and unreseached estimation, is that going to the theater is expensive. On our trip, we bought too non-matinee tickets, a small popcorn, a large drink, and some SweetTart dots, to a total of about 30 dollars. Had we been seeing a 3D movie, the total would have been $5 dollars more for the two tickets. It's outrageous.

Now, once my heart had settled a bit (okay, to be fair, that's hyperbole; I expected it), we sat down to enjoy the film. I had the benefit of having seen no trailers and only one movie poster, so my preconceived notions of what the movie was supposed to be were fuzzy at best. I knew Meryl Streep was playing Julia Child, and that there was theoretically someone involved named Julie, but that was about it.

The film tells the story of an almost-30-year-old woman and her goal to cook her way through "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in a year's time, and blog about it the entire way. It also tells the story of Julia Child becoming who we remember her as. The two stories are told in interchanging scenes as related events happen to the characters.

Meryl Streep is excellent as Julia Child. Now, that may be because I have no idea what Julia Child looked or acted like, as I have no attachment to her. Either way, Streep performed to her usual excellence. Amy Adams stars as Julie, the blogger. I'm a fan of Adams, but this performance didn't seem like her best work. Maybe I just can't separate her from her bubbly "Enchanted" self. This is not to say that she was bad in the role. I thought she was very good, just not as great as she has been in the past. All the supporting characters were good, but not quite as much so as the hilarious Jane Lynch. Her portrayal of Julia's sister was fun and funny.

My only real complaint was that the movie didn't seem to have an ending, but that's an issue you occasionally have with true stories. Real life doesn't always have an ending at all, let alone a happy one.

All in all, it was a fun biopic, and a great date movie. If you aren't bothered by a few less-than-perfect moments, it is highly recommended.

Monday, February 16, 2009


I saw "Push" last week. Its the story about how precociously street-wise Dakota Fanning is, and there's something about powers thrown in too. She can apparently see the future, but she kinda sucks at it. Also, she gets drunk. How adorable.

In all actuality, it wasn't that bad. It was no cinematic feat, but I've seen much worse and enjoyed movies much less. There were a few interesting powers, though I could have done without the "Bleeders," these really annoying guys who yell like punks and make your ears bleed. I don't see why they couldn't behave like respectable Chinese characters and use martial arts to make you bleed. It would have been twice as cool, and 30 million times less annoying than that stupid yelling.

Final score: See it if you like superpowers and have super low standards. If you're still watching Heroes, this is a movie for you. (For the record, I still watch Heroes.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dual Movie Review - Bolt and Inkheart

In a year with "Wall-E" and "Kung-Fu Panda," it's easy to overlook a movie like "Bolt." Disney's most recent venture sans Pixar finds a dog who has been led to believe he is actually the superhero he portrays on television. When he accidentally finds his way from Hollywood to New York, he must return home to rescue his person.

This is standard Disney fare. Blah blah blah friendship blah blah blah love blah blah blah be yourself. It's all pretty standard, but its wrapped in a shell that is just fun enough to be entertaining. The colors are bright and crisp, which seems to be a theme in the new non-Pixar Disney movies, if "Meet the Robinsons" is any indication. The voice acting was excellent, as well. Within a few minutes, I had forgotten that I was listening to John Travolta and was instead listening to Bolt. With a distinctive voice like his, that's a pretty big feat, one helped a lot by the pacing of the story and the visual effects.

I don't think "Bolt" would rank any higher on my list that any Pixar movie, even a weaker showing like "Cars," but it is an enjoyable film that kids will love and an adult will enjoy while its on.

"Inkeart" takes us to a world where Brendan Frasier's character has the power of the "silvertongue," which causes the things he reads aloud from a book to be transferred from the book into the real world. When one of the villains he accidentally read out wants him to do some more reading, Frasier and his daughter have to save the day.

You may notice that I didn't put the name of any of the characters above. That's because I forgot them, which is really representative of the entire movie. It is mostly forgettable. With that said, there are some cool aspects. The visuals were pretty spectacular, with the exception of the minotaur. All the animals in the menagerie of half-read animals were realistic looking, but the minotaur looked like an oversized muppet. The CGI was impressively decent, given the quality of the rest of the film.

On the other hand, it felt like the movie could never decide what tone it wanted. There were little comedic bursts awkwardly placed throughout what was mostly a dramatic second and third acts, and the prostestations of the great-aunt were over the top most of the time. Of course, some of this can be forgiven since this film seems largely made for children, but the issues are there all the same.

This is a movie that I should have loved. I love books, I love reading, and I love all things "Wizard of Oz" (which in this movie includes flying monkeys and the twister). Unfortunately, it could never find its legs and present anything memorable. I don't think it was a particular waste of time, but it sure wasn't a good use of 90+ minutes.