Showing posts with label television. Show all posts
Showing posts with label television. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

NaNoWriMo: day 3

Well, it's Tuesday and I'm getting set to work on my novel some more. I wasn't able to yesterday as Mondays are generally quite long days at work and my wife and I watched Dr. Drew and Tool Academy instead last night. I did, however, reread the 40-odd pages of the book I've got so far and I was struck by a couple of things.

1) The story reads a lot faster than I remember. This is curious, since it is literally chock full of real-life science concepts from quantum physics.

2) The dialogue isn't as bad as I thought it was. I often have more trouble with dialogue than any other part of a story, but this time it seemed at least smooth and unobtrusive to my mind.

I'm also going to confess to a certain amount of giddy excitement over this whole thing. I made a grocery store run this morning specifically to pick up the sorts of food I like to eat while I write, including of course my white cheddar cheese and orange juice. I also threw in some thick-cut bacon as well, for good measure. Add to that the short list of new iTunes songs I downloaded Sunday and I figure I almost cannot fail.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Stewie talking about how much Matthew McConaughy sucks.

"You are just awful."

Friday, June 20, 2008

And the Tony for Best Director in a Play goes to...

My brother in law's sister, Anna Shapiro!

I can almost already see what the fourth of July is going to be like:

Me: So, how's your summer going? Do anything fun?
My wife: Yeah, we took John to the beach and went to the pool a bunch of times.
My brother in law: I've been following the PGA.
My nephew: I went to see the new Indiana Jones.
Anna: Uh... I won a Tony.

(In all seriousness though, we are enormously, surreally proud of Anna. It couldn't have happened to a harder-working, more deserving person.)

Fun fact: Anna is also my only relative to ever make the homepage of MSNBC! (hence the pic)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Why Flight of the Conchords is the funniest thing HBO ever put on TV

Oh come on, if there was a law against funny this would be Public Enemy number one:

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

It goes like this

Me and John watching Jason Castro's rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" on YouTube. If you watch closely, you'll see that right at about the last third of it John starts singing along.

(The original video)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Where's the 'Ka-Boom"?

There's supposed to be an Earth-shattering "Ka-Boom!"

One of my old favorites.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

To the Douchebag in the Skokie Best Buy who tried to convince me to spend $220 on an HDMI cable:

I had started noticing on the HD channels of our new television that we were getting a strange sort of horizontal color banding that alternated pink and green and scrolled upward through scenes where it was mostly closeups of people talking. Some channels it was less visible than others, but on HBOHD, the signal was so strong that it was distracting me from the show and all I could see were the lines. I had thought about this and tried wrapping the cables through the ferrite cores that the TV came with to cut down on interference, but it still didn't make them completely go away. The fact that re-cabling everything and moving my old TiVo out and away from the television seemed to improve it, paired with the fact that even when paused the scrolling lines could be seen, led me to believe that I probably had a bad component cable. The one I was using had been provided by Comcast, and was clearly a no-frills generic cable.

Now anyone who has ever been soaked by one of these things knows that these cables are retardedly expensive to begin with, but especially so in places where they assume a certain level of stupidity from their customers. I walked into Best Buy anticipating prices that were unrealistically inflated, but I was completely unprepared for (1) the fact that the salesdork in the home theater section was going to be an unapologetically dishonest asshole, and (2) the cables would be marked up 1000%. As I learned later, this is something that people have come to understand about Best Buy in particular, but I learned it through a rather blunt and exasperating conversation with possibly the lowest form of working human being imaginable. Here's how the conversation went:

Best Buy Douchebag: Can I help you?

Me: I'm looking for an HDMI cable.

BBD: What size display do you have?

Me: A 42" plasma. Where are your reasonably-priced cables? I've seen these online for $20.

BBD (with a sneer): You get what you pay for.

Me: Yeah, I'm not paying $200 for a cable.

BBD: I've seen them online for $20, too. You get what you pay for.

Me: That's funny, I've heard exactly the opposite. (This is true, by the way, and this advice came from my technophile friend Austin, who -among other legitimizing factors-actually owns and listens to a MiniDisc player and claims to be able to tell the difference between high-end audio heahphones. He specifically forbade me to spend more than $60 on cabling for the TV.)

BBD: If you use a crap cable you'll get a crap signal.

Me: Don't you have anything in the $30-50 range?

BBD: How long do you need it?

Me: (indicating a length of approximately two feet)

BBD: About four feet?

Me: (nodding my head and trying not to roll my eyes)

BBD: You'll be looking at about $80 minimum, even for cheap cables, there's just no way around it.

Me: (walking away in disgust) Whatever man.

Good old Radio Shack came through when Best Buy screwed the pooch on this one. Gold plated HDMI cables: $50 with a lifetime warranty. As you can see from the links above, even $50 is probably inflated past the point of reason, but I wanted the cables in a timely fashion and I wanted some that had decent signal shielding and wouldn't snap off in my HDMI ports. I liked the price so much I bought a component one for my DVD player too, so I can take advantage of the Progressive Scan feature.

Nevertheless, this whole experience with this careless moron has proven to me that I really have no need to ever shop there again. It is inconcievable to me that someone who knows I just bought a high-end TV thinks I would be dumb enough to spend $200 on a single cable. I have almost never been so insulted or felt so flatly lied-to by a retail employee before. Apparently, Best Buy and some of the other chains are known for gouging the living hell out of the prices on stuff like this, under the assumption that they can dupe idiots into buying cables on a 400% or more markup. Links:

Guess who won't by buying anything from Best Buy ever again.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The blur, the Grinder, and the new TV.

Well, it certainly has been a record-setting stretch of no meaningful updates to, a fact for which I feel appropriately guilty. Tonight, though, I'm happy to say that it's 9PM, Beth and John are asleep, the groceries are bought, the bottles made, the chores (mostly) done, and I'm settling in to get caught up. So here goes.

Someone told Beth and I recently that this time after the starting of a new family when the newness and shock wears off is called "The Grinder", and I'm here to tell you they're right. Between work and home and chores and running around for seasonal things like continuing education and visits from family and friends, I haven't even had time to contemplate how tired I am most of the time. Even Beth, who is usually detail-orientated even more so than I am, has begun to occasionally forget things and we both just look at each other and shrug as if to say "Yeah, I guess at some point someone said something about that, but it must have been at least a million years ago." Generally I am an impeccable speller; the other day I misspelled "definitely", and after Beth pointed it out, I did it again. If nothing else, all this relentless activity has given me a huge appreciation of my own parents and what I now know they went through to raise my sister and I. If you're reading guys, thanks! I have always been one of those sorts of people who likes to live life like they're driving a Ferrari at 200mph, but as a parent I feel like someone has strapped a jet liner engine to my hood and the tires no longer even touch the ground most of the time.

So, by way of an explanation about why I haven't posted in a while, my life has been an incredible blur lately. With Beth taking on additional work from her online teaching, it has been all hands on deck every minute of every hour at home, sometimes into the late evening, in order to get everything done. We were glad to get the extra section of classes, however, because within two weeks of each other our television was hit by a power surge in a lightning strike and blew out, and our gas stove ceased providing flame in the oven portion. With a little guy at home, and our propensity to eat most of our meals at home, neither of these problems were something that could be let go for any significant length of time. So, a marathon trip to ABT electronics and appliances concluded with us coming home with a brand spanking new gas burning stove and (to my surprise and delight) a 42" Samsung plasma TV.

Initially we had intended to replace our old 27" tube tv with another like it. The pathetic tubes that remain in electronic stores, however, go for around $500, and still look like crap. For a modest, but still budget-bending, sum, we got the New Hotness instead. In the store, it looked like just another slightly smaller panel compared to the gigantic home theater rigs that they had set up, and I felt a slight twinge of disappointment at first that it was this instead of a 50"-er with halogen backlighting. When I got the TV we have home, however, I felt a sense of giddy relief, as the 42" we have not only had a better picture than the DLPs I was looking at, but it is almost too big for our living room as it is. This is our TV, and the picture of it really doesn't do it much justice.

Size is so deceptive when you buy these things. Our TV is best viewed at distances that are almost greater than the depth of the room we have. It's seriously the size of a cellar door and despite being only about four inches thick it weighs almost 100 lbs. It took me about four days of looking at it in wonder to realize that it was actually MY television. I know by now that everyone in the universe has one of these things, and that large flat-panel TVs are really all anyone buys anymore, but still... I remember when you wouldn't even see these things in the homes of rich people. Beth and I figured our Christmas expenditures for each other would approximately cover most (some) of it, and as people who don't get to go out much, it almost seemed like necessary gear to have.

Yeah, right, sorry... I just coughed on my own rationalization.

Anyway, a lot more has happened in the last three weeks, not just this, but that was the biggest thing, I guess. We had visits from two of my favorite people, and I have a bunch of new pictures and music and random otherness. More to come!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Why I love Gordon Ramsay

This guy is one of my heroes. I aspire to be half the badass he is.

Monday, June 25, 2007

HBO is really screwing the pooch.

Deadwood: Cancelled
Carnivale: Cancelled
Rome: Cancelled
Sopranos: (shiver) Yeah, let's not talk about that
Lucky Louie: Cancelled
The Comeback: Cancelled


The Wire: On typical 2-3 year hiatus.
John From Cincinatti: Greenlit, somehow.
Big Love: Soldiering on, pointlessly.
Entourage: A tiny 30 minute pinprick of talent all alone in a world of suck
Extras: British people are just not that funny to me

Seriously, HBO... Flight of the Conchords? What the fuck? We gave up Deadwood and Rome, hell, we gave up Carnivale for this shit? You've got to be kidding me. Unless Ian McShane suddenly makes an appearance in John from Cincinatti, I think you can consider my subscription cancelled. I can fucking RENT Entourage and Big Love, but unless there's a show I've just "gotta see" on Sunday night, I see no point in continuing this abusive relationship. David Milch is looking a whole hell of a lot like David Chase right about now. What sort of lightning bolt of bad taste hit him that he would give up probably the best show that has ever been on television, one even to eclipse Sopranos and Six Feet Under, in favor of a badly-written, badly-acted bullshit college fiction class lesson about surfer dudes and "aliens".

So I google "John from Cincinnati" and I get a whole bunch of hits talking about how HBO is deleting the threads on the message boards where people talk about how awful the show is.

Some things I know and some things I don't, HBO. I know that Deadwood was perfect and John From Cincinnati blows.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sopranos Finale

You know, I realize now that the show is over that I will never be able to look at the word Soprano again without imagining the "r" as a pistol.

I've held off commenting here on the finale, even though people have been asking me at work about it for days. I read something that said David Chase seemed to be saying: You want Tony whacked? YOU write that ending. Imagine me saying this in a bitchy, petulant auteur voice.

To that I respond: Fuck you, David Chase. You started this whole thing. I didn't write the characters into existence, craft one of the best televisions shows in the history of the medium, change what people thought quality TV WAS, and then phone in the last three seasons and fizzle out with an eye-rolling, pooch-screwing cliffhanger ending. Don't blame your lack of imagination, inability to embrace the boundaries of the genre you chose, and unwillingness to fight for something lastingly-profound in your work on me or on the public's desire to want closure from your story arc.

Stories with a beginning, middle, and end aren't a creation of post-Baby-Boomer comsumer culture, they're an expectation that has been around as long as Western Civilization. What could have been part of the canon of entertainment culture forever is now just an embarrassing footnote about what NOT to do with your creative work. They teach you not to do shit like this to your audience in the first ten minutes of INTRODUCTORY writing classes.

Never mind this foreshadowed "fade to black whack" ending that everyone is whining about, I'm going to pretend that the Sopranos ended after season three when Jackie Junior got shot or season four when Adriana was driven into the woods. I like to think of Uncle Junior/Corrado singing an Italian song at a family gathering rather than rotting away a mindless radish from Alzheimers that no longer recognizes his own family. I like to think of Meadow as a struggling and partially aware mob daughter rather than a stuck-up, oblivious Beamer-driving lawyer. The only character that improved this season was AJ, and I would almost have settled for having the entire thing told from his point of view.

Ah, David Chase. Try, just try, to do anything else with your career after this pathetic and disappointing cop-out. After years... that's YEARS... of foreshadowing and subtle nods to the other canonical mob-fiction, there's nothing to show for it except this meaningless, masturbatory, furrowed-eyebrow of a finale. I feel very similar to Chase now as I did toward Stephen King when he utterly ruined The Dark Tower:

Nice job, dipshit.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

I KNEW they existed!!!

OK, so anyone who has spent enough time around me when I'm drinking will know that I have a bizarre long-standing tradition of talking about one of my favorite things from the 80's: Muppets. I used to wax philosophical about their virtues in comparison to the drek that is today's children's programming, and inevitably, I would bring up the "Yup-Yups" from Sesame Street. This is the point where even my stoned friends in college would look at me and say "naw, man, you're making that up." I swore I could remember these hilarious, bewildered "yup-yups" and no one else seemed to. Well, through the magic of YouTube, I bring you, straight from when I was 4 years old: the "Yup-Yups"!!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Who the Hell is Lukas Rossi?

This is probably too obscure for most of the people who read this page, but if you happened to catch this past season of VHI's Rock Star: Supernova, you know exactly who I'm talking about.

For the other 99.9% of the world for which there were better things to do, I'll fill you in. VHI has been running a show called "Rock Star:____" for a couple of years now. The first season's objective was to find a replacement singer for the band INXS. They did so, and discovered a fellow who brought his own original song entitled "Pretty Vegas", which was a moderate radio hit. The judges were the actual remaining members of the band INXS, and they chose who they wanted from a pool of 20+ applicants, American Idol-style. The audience got a vote, but the final say went to the band.

Well the most recent season was to find a lead singer for a new group called "Supernova" which consists of members of several other bands. Most notably Pamela Anderson's ex-husband Tommy Lee (formerly of Motley Crue), Gilby Clarke (formerly of Guns'n'Roses) and Jason Newstead (formerly of Metallica). In their quest to find a frontman for their new super-group, they discovered this an unlikely-looking fellow named Lukas Rossi who sang like he had sand in his throat but as you can see in the videos here, he ended up being every bit a rock star. His performances were so much better than the other hopefuls that I knew halfway through the season with utter certainty that he would win. There were still 8 possible winners left when he sang a version of the Killers' "All These Things That I've Done" that I thought was better than the original.

Additionally, he performed a song that he had written himself called "Headspin" that I think was as good as anything on the radio at that time.

I challenge you to watch these videos and NOT be impressed by this guy's stage presence. He sings like someone's going to take him out into the street and shoot him afterward. He's like a strange combination of Freddie Mercury, Meat Loaf, and Green Day. And this, somehow, is a good thing.

At the end of that last clip, there's a hilarious moment where the host (Jane's Addiction guitarist, and husband to Carmen Electra) Dave Navarro pokes fun at reality TV by suggesting to Lukas as he walks off the stage that he should "grab his torch and head back to camp."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Reading: Introduction to Limited Radiography, Memories of Another Day by Harold Robbins.
Listening: OAR - "Heard the World", Augustana - "Boston", Snow Patrol - "Chasing Cars"
Watching: New season of Battlestar Galactica. The best yet. This show reeks of awesomeness.
Fetus is Craving: Baby education classes. Look up "vernix" and "meconium" on Wikipedia. It will be eye-opening.

Sadly, my ipod finally crapped out on me. It was one of the original white ones that was like $400 new, and ended up being an early birthday present that I paid part of. I'm able to turn it on, but I can't upload songs, so my listening lately has been largely the tinny little radio in the Sentra on the way to work. I've got a birthday coming, and maybe (just maybe) I'll get a replacement. I kind of want one of those Project Red nanos from Oprah and Bono's project to get AIDS drugs to sub-Saharan Africa. I know, I know... Oprah. But still, the red color is pretty sharp.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Wire

I've been watching the first three seasons of HBO's The Wire. A show which several people assured me was terrific and worth watching. For some unknown reason, I put off watching any of it until now, just as the fourth season starts. Let's just say it was entertaining enough that in the past week I've watched 27 hours of it. I joked with my wife this morning that if I watched them any faster, I'd need to snort them directly up my nose. Happily, the first two episodes of the fourth season are waiting patiently on my TiVo for when I finally get caught up.

My favorite character from this addictive little police drama is, of course, Omar. Omar, the "stick-up boy" who makes his living by robbing and/or killing drug dealers. This hilarious loose-cannon somehow brings this whole show together. There's something fittingly whimsical about a trench-coated, kevlar-vested gang-banger with a double-barreled shotgun striding into the middle of drug-turf in broad daylight. Played ably by Michael K. Williams who has an utterly bad-ass scar across his entire face that looks like someone chopped his head in half with an axe and stitched it back together.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Why Muppets will always be hilarious

Anyone who has spent enough time around me when I'm drinking will have gotten an earful from me about how great the old-school Muppets were. The YouTube revolution has given this love of mine a second life, and now I'm able to share with you a little slice of my sense of humor. The first inadvertantly hilarious Muppets clip I have for you is of an actual episode of the Martha Stewart show where Oscar the Grouch is a guest star. The content itself is not particularly humorous, but the looks on the google-eyed Oscar's face as he emotes in reaction to Martha's dry delivery... priceless.

Then there's the Dave Chappelle Sesame Street parody that's arguably the funniest Dave Chappelle bit ever:

And of course there's the classic Sesame Street clip called "One Way" that has literally haunted me since I was a child. Not because it's frightening, but because I do not remember a single time I have EVER seen a "One Way" sign and not thought of this silly little song. Whenever I tell people about this, they can never remember this bit. Here it is:

Animal playing "Fever" with Rita Moreno. This is still funny thirty years later.

Buddy Rich vs. Animal on the drums. Can anyone picture this happening in modern prime-time programming? This was quality TV...

From the second version of the Muppets in the late 90's called Muppets Tonight, a classic scene where the Mousketeer roll-call is filled with "Stu" and "Mi (clicking sound) To-Bollo."

Kermit and Debbie Harry from Blondie singing "The Rainbow Connection"

And who can forget Alice Cooper and the monsters singing "Welcome to my Nightmare."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Diabolical Sabotage

One of my favorite episodes of the old Loony Tunes cartoon was when Bugs Bunny is reading a book called "Victory Through Hare Power" during WWII and he reads a passage that says "Gremlins are responsible for wrecking planes with their die-a-bow-LICK-al, sa-bow-TAY-gee. I googled "Diabolical Sabotage" and sure enough, the third hit was a link that took me right to the episode. These five minutes will bring you back to a day when cartoons were made to be timelessly funny. I still laugh my ass off at these. Now more than ever, in fact, do I appreciate the pre-1950 snarky Bugs Bunny attitude.

Click to play.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Reading: Demian by Hermann Hesse. It's every bit as good as I remember it.

Listening: Kanye West - "Gold Digger" (this was one of those songs that I just didn't get at all until I heard it played very loud with lots of bass. Then suddenly it all made sense) Elton John - "Someone Saved my Life Tonight" Beth and I watched an old SNL the other night with Elton John as the musical guest when he was in his late 20's. Sir Elton is such a caricature these days, almost a living joke like Madonna or Michael Jackson. But it's easy to forget why he's famous. When he was younger, Elton John was THE SHIT. That re-run of some awful 80's SNL episode was literally the best SNL live show I had ever seen, and it was two songs that I never even heard before.

Watching: The finale of Hell's Kitchen. Glad Heather won. Not glad I have to wait an entire year for more Gordon Ramsay. He reminds me of what my conscience sounds like inside my own head.

Working: On a whole lot, thanks to my wireless little buddy here.

Fetus is craving: Meat before bedtime.

If I had known how lovely it would be to take my daily hours of computing away from my desk, I would have bought a laptop a LONG time ago. Right now, it's about midnight. My wife is sleeping soundly in the bedroom and I'm sitting on my back porch in a leather glider-chair and listening to the sound of the nighttime crickets through an open window. Tuesday morning being my morning to sleep in, I have the luxury of staying up till midnight.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Reading: Silverthought submissions
Listening: U2 - "Beautiful Day", Beck - "SexxLawz"
Watching: Project Runway, oh wait, no I'm not because my FUCKING TIVO DIDN'T RECORD IT. WHAT IS YOUR FUCKING PROBLEM, TIVO?
Working: Homesteading, setting up shop, nesting, all that. Cleaning house, showing those I work with how versatile I can be so they can turn my job into the inevitible jack-of-all-trades-hey-can-you-fix-my-printer unpaid tech-support guy position.
Fetus is Craving: Strawberry pie and potatoes (yes, really).

Round 2 of Mark's New Job Selling Other People's Stuff on Ebay:

Waterford Crystal, Hummel figurines, and Duncan Miller glassware. Hey, did you know that the little figurine of "Girl in Apple Tree" sells for $50? I bet you didn't! I bet you didn't even care!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Ebay-ing like it's my job

Reading: Fyodor Dostoevsky: "Crime and Punishment"
Listening: Pearl Jam, Mandalay, Pink
Watching: Hell's Kitchen, So You Think You Can Dance
Working: Selling things on Ebay for fun and profit. Anyone need a really nice 6' hardwood office desk? I've got one for $300 I'll sell you.
Fetus is Craving: Daddy's singing. This evening's set included Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer" and Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man".

Missing my friends a little, like I always do this time of year. Had a lot of fun when Sara came to visit. Wishing DJ and Jeramy didn't live so #@$*&^ far away... Oh, and AUSTIN OIE, if you're reading this, send me your email man, I lost it.

The people I work with now are having a good influence on me. They've talked me into getting back on the old weight-loss train and starting to work out with them. Since at least one of them is a certified personal trainer, I am interested to see where all this ends up taking me.

Little Baby Brand is on the way, and I'm starting to feel the anticipation building. And you thought I got a little cagey when I was waiting for something from Amazon to arrive...