Now Being Entertained

Mar 25, 2010

Now Listening

I’ve been listening Dave Matthews’ Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, jamming away in the truck while I travel to work and back again.  This album is their best work in quite a while.  “Shake Me Like a Monkey” is my favorite song of the past year or so and, one day, I’ll learn “You & Me” on the guitar.  I just have to. 

I also need to see them in concert, again.  That’s scheduled for the summer.

Now Playing

I’m playing a lot of God of War 3, which is as brutal and maybe predictable as you’d expect.  I don’t think I mean predictable in a bad way.  Kratos simply noticed that several heads are in need of removal.  I’m not surprised he’s the man for the job. 

I remain pretty happy with the formula, especially in a game that starts this fast and looks this incredible.  But the formula is incredibly obvious if you’ve ever touched one of these games before.  This is my fourth (I count the PSP game).  Next time I’ll be looking for something a little different.

Now Watching

The wife and I are watching a lot of American Idol and Survivor, the latter of which is aging better than the former.  I’m not exactly certain what’s wrong with American Idol.  It certainly has something to do with a weak lineup of contestants.  Maybe they’ve played with the format too much.  Maybe I’ve gotten too good at using my DVR.  Maybe I miss Paula.  No, it can’t be that last thing.  It can’t be that at all.

Survivor, however, remains a pretty good show where they eventually eat bugs or something similarly vomit inducing.  The villains and heroes thing feels contrived – after all, it is — but, somehow, the show remains entertaining.  Jerks and Rob will soon merge with the nice guys, however.  I’ll be happy when we get down to individuals.

I’ll be happier when I find more time to watch The Fringe.

Now Reading

I recently began the “Song of Fire and Ice” series of books penned by George R.R. Martin in an effort to fill a gaping hole in my fantasy library.  I know.  I can’t believe I waited so long either.  I’m sorry I waited, even as Mr. Martin does terrible things to characters he first made me love.  I’m well into “A Clash of Kings.”  I’ll finish reading the series, at least when George bothers to finish writing it.

I do have to say it’s been both a fantastic and terrible addition to my Kindle.  Getting the first two books for just over $6.  Awesome.  Not knowing I just purchased about 2000 pages of reading material.  What is this, Harry Potter?

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Dec 8, 2005

I recently purchased the fourth season of the Sopranos from a friend and just wanted to mention how much I enjoy consuming television in the DVD format. No commercials waste your time, the pause button is as accessible as the one on my TIVO, and, most importantly, the next episode is just a click away. No waiting. I can’t stress how important that is.

Collecting a whole season of TV on just a couple of disks is where the action is at. Sweeten the pot with a complete ignorance of the series and I get some true entertainment from my couch. The wife and I completely missed the first two seasons of the Sopranos. It only took us about two months during the winter lull in the television schedule to catch up.

The weather might call for snow and my TV might call for repeats, but I have some boob tube watching to do. The wife is rather anxious to get through that first season of Desperate Housewives she received for our anniversary.

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According to the On-Demand menu of my digital cable box, the going rate for porn is $11.99 for just a six hour window. Wives worldwide may be pleased to know that their presence alone may actually be adding pennies to the piggy bank.

As for why I was browsing that particular listing, I have no particular excuse. I am simply interested in economics.

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Sep 27, 2004

I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately. The fall season is in full swing. My TIVO is back from its summer vacation. The wife and I often settle down for the evening and catch some rays from the boob tube. The only odd thing about this is that I’m often watching alone. The wife is there in body but not in spirit.

She’s mailing in her attention. After a day of carrying around quite a sack behind her belly button and chasing the previous contents of her uterus around the living room, she’s ready to relax. This relaxation normally includes her eyelids. I can’t blame her. I’m glad I don’t have a bowling ball clamoring around in my insides. I only worry about the content of the TV she watches. It’s incomplete and, in some cases, disturbing.

For example, Monster House is a show we watch a lot. To me, it’s a home improvement show with a guy’s twist. To her, the show is about a group of contractors that start an ambitious project only never to complete it. What a mess these folks make! At least they could clean up.

Her vision of CSI is even more disturbing. Apparently, CSI is a show about horrible crimes that forever remain unsolved. Heinous acts are committed and no one ever figures out what happens. The nightmares must be awful.

The thing is she doesn’t care. Only my compulsive desire to watch more TV than is healthy and my compulsive need to see everything to completion drives TV to a realm where it might be considered important. She’s just happy to find any place and any position that allows her even the shortest moment of shut-eye. More power to her.

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May 14, 2004

I can’t believe I’m still watching Survivor. Like millions of others, I dedicated my Sunday night to watching the finale of this season’s Survivor. Somehow I’ve managed to see them all. I’m almost ashamed that I enjoy the spectacle of it all so much.

But I do. The harsh conditions, the interesting cast of characters, and the emotional turmoil that results is entertaining. And let’s not forget the bug eating. Yum.

It’s a guilty pleasure made worse by the fact that each season tends to end the same. A bunch of grumpy jurors with major chips or their shoulders confront two finalists that used nefarious means to get to the top. It’s a classic setup, in that the favor of the disgruntled losers plays a very big part in the eventual winner, and I’m very much surprised that everyone hasn’t gotten the memo.

This is a game. In fact, it’s a game about betrayal. Your exit from the tribe is never going to end anything but badly. You didn’t want to leave. You were forced out, not only by the two folks in front of you but by everyone to your left. Don’t look so dismayed. I know you want to place blame. I understand that you might want sympathy but quiet the sour grapes.

I believed that this season, being the one with the cast of all stars, would be different. A second visit would surely clear these details up. I was wrong.

Lex couldn’t believe a friend could betray him after betraying two of his own buddies, throwing his tribe into a losing spiral in the process (oh, the irony). Cathy couldn’t believe good old Boston Rob would sell her out. Look around. You weren’t the only one. Tom couldn’t imagine that he would be set up. Surprise, surprise.

But the spectacle still bemused me, enough so that both the wife and I voted in the contest for the second million (I should note, that my vote went to the winner of this second bundle of dough. Now go buy another shirt.). Maybe I should compete. I’d love my chance at a finale speech. Put away those self-serving glares. I’m here because I lied, cheated, and betrayed; I played the game. Any questions?

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Ross & Rachel

May 7, 2004

All things are right in the world. Ross and Rachel ended up together. We always knew they would. Friends could end no other way. Friends couldn’t end any other way. The final episode left things just as they should be.

Still, I can’t feel a little bummed. Good television shows are dropping like flies. Almost half the shows I regularly watch won’t be coming back around for another run at my TV.

First, it was Ed, my favorite show of the last few years. While it isn’t entirely official, Stuckeyville looks like it will be an empty place from now on. It’s a shame, really. While it stuck around for four years, it never really grabbed a huge audience outside of the wife and I. By far, this is the show I will miss the most.

Then it was Sex in the City, one of my wife’s favorite shows. Both the wife and I were late arrivals to the City, at least in the sense of watching it on a regular basis. I’m normally in charge of the TV watching in our house but this was one show that turned the tables. The wife will miss Carrie more than I. After all, I have Deadwood to take its place.

And now, it’s Friends which, in my opinion, was one of the most consistently funny shows for its extended lifetime. An author over at the Slate used the term soapcom to describe it. That sounds about right to me. The soap style relationships and ongoing storyline is what I believe made the show special. It’s a model that I’m surprised hasn’t been copied more, or with at least more success. Scrubs is probably the closest thing to Friends on TV right now in that sense. It’s no coincidence that it’s one of my favorite shows. I only wish that NBC would give it Friend’s old time slot.

With Frasier closing up shop this year, I’m losing a fallback option and there really isn’t much left. Outside of HBO’s new content, not much has grabbed my interest. There’s only so much CSI I can watch. There’s only so much reality TV I can stand.

Don’t get me wrong. My TIVO is in no danger of drying up for content (I am, after all, 4 episodes behind in this season of 24). It’s just that the departure of so many shows leaves a gaping hole in the quality of my TV schedule, particularly in terms of staying power. I’m more than pleased with all the happy endings but I guess I’m a touch wistful about saying goodbye to old friends, particularly when I have to do it all at once.

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Idol Missteps

Jan 23, 2004

I’m so ashamed. Along with the wife, I’ve watched the first three episodes of American Idol. Sadly, it was no accident. I actually meant to do so. My excuse centered around the fact that I wanted to see the beginning of the competition. That’s when all the really, really bad singers show up. I thought it would be hysterical. I was not disappointed.

Some of these folks were downright awful. I mean horrible. The biggest train wrecks are by far the most entertaining. Scat girl gave an interesting interpretation of, well, something (dobedowah). The favorite performance of both my wife and I was a rendition of Elvis’s “Faaring in ruff with rue.” It’s just a classic.

Simon, who’s job is to annoy, did it well. He mentions that he feels it is his responsibility to give folks a reality check and he does, in his own signature way. I started the show disagreeing with him. There’s no need to stomp on someone’s hopes. There’s no requirement for him to throw a wrench into someone’s dreams. But then I watched a little more.

Some of the folks need the whipping — need the sarcasm. A lot of contestants are adamant of their ability even though their performance leaves no doubts about their lack of talent. Mom and dad may have you convinced that you are good, great, and wonderful but stick with us here. You aren’t in your living room. You aren’t singing along to the radio. Yikes! And what the hell is with the M.C. Hammer dance?

In any case, I don’t think you can call me a fan of the show; the good singers don’t particularly interest me. However, while these embarrassments are featured I might continue to tune in. You know, just for the giggles.

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Nov 20, 2003

My TIVO is overflowing with unwatched television but I may soon have to clear some room. The Family Guy might be coming back and I’m just thrilled at the prospect. Little Stewie can again complain about his Uteran prison. Brian the dog will get to drink yet another Martini.

The show won’t be returning because of public outcry or because of the giant holes in Fox’s lineup. The DVD sales are through the roof. In this strange case of backwards distribution, the tail just might wag the dog (sorry Brian — trust us). The guys with the suits understand dollars and cents. They are hoping that popularity proven in the video store translates to the television screen.

I’m hoping too. A new season or two of one my favorite shows of the last couple of years would go wonderfully next to my copy of seasons 1 and 2 of Peter and family. Well that and season three. Christmas is coming, you know.

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A funny thing happened to the wife and I on the way to see Finding Nemo. We went to see the Hulk instead.

I couldn’t argue with the kind stranger who surprised us in the movie theatre parking lot. “You want to see a movie? Here.”

What are these? Free tickets to see the sneak preview. Wow. Let’s go see some green.

It’s not every day I go see a sneak preview; Tuesday night isn’t exactly when you expect to the latest new release. A large section of seats were reserved for the press. The theater was packed. The wife and I found the last pair of open seats that were actually placed next to each other. I wonder if all those people were as disappointed as I.

The Hulk is a movie with an identity crisis. It can’t decide if it is an action flick or a dramatized play. Is this the story of a child’s green monster or the dark tale of a disturbed man. The first hour of the film goes by without one sighting the big green guy. Hulk. Smash. Get on with it.

You can see Ang Lee‘s touch on the film. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a love story with some over the top action sequences. The Hulk comes off in a similar fashion. It’s a dark, foreboding story with a not so jolly green giant.

The problem is that the story didn’t really need to be there. We didn’t need to hear the ravings of Bruce’s father. We didn’t need to know about his father at all. It should start with the smashing. It should end with the smashing. Everything in between should just be a reason to get to the smashing.

Speaking of smashing, a lot of people had issues with the special effects. I was not one of them. Aside from the believability of a tall green monster parading around San Francisco, I thought they looked great. The movement of the Hulk, especially when tossing a tank, crushing walls, and, well, smashing was right on. The sight of him leaping from place to place brought back memories of the comic.

Unfortunately, the rest of the movie did not. I wouldn’t take my kid to see it; the story is just too dark and disjointed. I’d take him to see Finding Nemo. Next time that’s where I’ll take myself as well.

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TV Review

May 31, 2003

Way back in October,
I took some time to
the television I was watching, or planned to watch, in the coming season. Now,
that all the season finales have passed and television has become a wasteland
of late night Three’s Company reruns, I thought it might be fun to run through
my personal list again, comparing what I thought then to how I feel
things really turned out.

For those that still have some shows queued up in the TIVO, watch out. I
can’t promise that there won’t be some spoilers ahead. Travel your
unwatched shows with caution. Here goes.


The Sopranos
I started the season noting that the pace of the show had slowed
a bit. Just wait, I said, things will pick up. Well, they did
and they didn’t. The crescendo that ensued resulted in a pitched
battle between husband and wife, with far less body bags to wade
through than a normal season of good ole’ Tony. It’s still one
of my favorite shows but I can’t wait to see all the folks that
have been playing with fire finally get burned. It should be
a short, two year wait before season five allows me to do so.

Curb Your Enthusiasm
This silly little comedy gave me just what I expected: a silly
little comedy. It doesn’t pretend to be something that it isn’t.
The final episode of the season, which featured an impressive
burst of profanity, made me howl. I don’t remember the last time
a half hour of comedy made me do that.

The Simpsons
The Simpsons was a late season addition, largely brought on by
a Christmas present from a friend. The DVDs of the first season
reintroduced me to the show I always wanted to watch but never did.
I’m glad. The old ones are classics. The new ones will be
classics the moment they age. The love the creators have for
these characters shine through, even after all this time.

Fox recently signed the papers for two more seasons of Homer,
making Simpsons the

longest running
comedy series ever. That’s a whole lot
of DVDs I’ll have to buy.

Malcolm in the Middle
Malcolm is a show I’ve followed from the beginning but somehow missed
the cut in October. My VCR is more than happy to keep recording
long after the Simpsons is over and I’m more than happy to speed
through its commercials. I still enjoy this one, even as the
main character quickly passes puberty by.


Drew Carey
I’m sad to say that Drew jumped the shark by jumping all the
way to the sad graveyard that is primetime Fridays. Kate ran
off to one of my favorite shows, Scrubs, and you get the feeling
that the writers are just out of juice. Maybe a summer relaunch,
which will move it back to Wednesdays, will do it good. I have my doubts.

Whose Line is it Anyway?
This show also got caught up in Drew’s midseason move. As a result,
I don’t remember the last time I saw an episode. It’s
too bad. I miss it.


I predicted that once 24 began, I’d have trouble finding the time to
watch Frasier. It was a good prediction. I haven’t seen an episode
since. Oddly enough, it was the cancellation of the show after it,
Hidden Hills, that really took Frasier off my schedule. It hardly
seemed worth it to tape just a half hour of television.

Hidden Hills
I was sorry to see her
go. I mean it go. And the shows that replaced it are sad. Not that I’d
know personally. I’m on strike from its timeslot until she – I mean it – returns.
I can only hope that the phrase “Returning Soon”, which can be found on its
web site, mean that it, in fact, is returning….soon.

The best suspense show on TV came to the end just a week or so ago.
Some say the first season was better. Some say the second. I
call it a draw. It did feel a bit more uneven, though, with some
episodes far outpacing the others. I hope that they leave Kim
home for the next one. Her adventures, which included being nearly
killed no less than six times this year, get harder and harder to swallow.
I thought Jack had a bad day.


My Wife and Kids
I said that I rarely fit it into my viewing schedule and that trend
continues. While I don’t know if it will ever make my ‘A’ list,
I’ll catch it now and then, particularly during the summer of reruns.

Will it be cancelled or won’t it? Ed, my favorite show and
a fellow victim (see Drew) of a midseason move to Fridays,
had its season fall under a shadow of renewal doubts.
Thankfully, it will be around for another year, making
the season finale, which wrapped up all sorts of loose
ends just in case, all the more interesting. Let’s see
how Carol and Ed do now that they are together. And,
come on people, watch this show. Do it now. Don’t make
me come over there.

The West Wing
Another strong season of a quite likable and (obviously) fictional
democrat reign, which ended with way more questions than answers.
I enjoyed the season although I’m sure you could hear the head
slapping when 24 beat them to the punch with their use of the,
previously unknown to me, 25th amendment. Two replaced presidents
in one season of television is two too many, if you ask me.
You didn’t? Well let’s move on then.


I’m just not down with the whole Rachel and Joey storyline.
I suppose part of me still has her attached to Ross, regardless
of the fact that he has moved on. I also thinks it makes her
a bit more of a ho; she’s quickly making her way around her circle
of friends. They have one more season to correct it, though.
I’ll be watching. I always am.

The new time slot for Scrubs was both a blessing and a curse.
The blessing came in the form of ratings; they were spectacular.
The curse came during sweeps when NBC, in a fit to give us
as much Friends as we could handle, preempted the show on
a regular basis. Come on, NBC. You are going to need
something to carry the torch once Friends has finally
flamed out. It should be this show. Give it some respect.

The episodes of this season – the last of which still resides on
my VCR – displayed a marked improvement over the last one.
Cleaning out a lot of old cast members – including good old Mark Green –
seemed to give them the opportunity to take more chances, rather
than rest on their laurels. I’m glad. I’m still a viewer.
I didn’t think I would be.

My guilty pleasure still manages to entertain me. I imagine
the tribe politics is what intrigues me. Maybe I should have
tried my hand at psychiatry.

I mentioned that the premiere was typical. I can’t say the
rest of the season was much different. Thankfully, typical
is still pretty good with regard to their approach to a crime
scene. It still feels different, particularly because its the
only show of its type that I watch.

Push Nevada
The odd, drawn out storyline of this one put it right where you expect:
the trash bin. It never got a chance to tell its story. I don’t
really care. That tells me all I needed to know about it.


Did Firefly make it past the first episode? If it did, it didn’t
make it much longer. I never made time to watch it and neither
did anyone else. Ever get the feeling that we’ll never get to see
a decent science fiction show that doesn’t include the Star Trek license?
Me too.

John Doe
Is this one still around? I wouldn’t know. I only
caught the premiere. The concept – a man that knows
everything but who he is – doesn’t sound like it would
work over the long haul. I’ll never know.

This show, which was a midseason addition for me, earned my
trust because it was unapologetic about its content.
Here’s some boobs. Here’s some fast cars. Here’s some explosions.
We’re not going to bore you with any kind of storyline. And you’ll
always have Tiffany to look at. I say was because
it has basically been cancelled. How can this be? It should hit the
sweet spot for the lonely guys that spend
their Friday nights in front of the TV.

That’s it. No Saturday. I need some time to myself.
Technically, I don’t watch anything on Sunday either. I just
make good use of my VCR.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad season of TV. I am a bit worried
about next season, though. More and more shows that I like
quietly disappear from the network lineup and aren’t replaced
with anything too interesting. At least NBC
renewed Ed
and I have a PVR just aching to record something. All hope is
not lost.

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