News to Me

Feb 14, 2003

I’ve found that I no longer have the patience to watch the news.

It’s not immediate enough. I don’t care about the miraculous rescue of some man’s poodle. I want to hear about the impending war and I want to hear about it right now. Don’t push me off to Sally or Rod for a sidebar. I don’t respect their opinions. Their knowledge of canines is surely lacking. A kitty at home does not count.

The internet has me spoiled. Not only can I pick and choose what news I want to hear, I can pick specific angles or writers. Related information is at my fingertips. If I want hear what others are saying, I simply pick a new site (like
here, here, or here), unafraid that the news I desire has already been covered and the station has moved on to other material.
Often I filter out the noise right from the start.

I’m particularly bad when it comes to the weather. Why should I wait twenty minutes into a broadcast to hear that it is snowing outside? I can find what I need in seconds along with radar maps and satellite feeds if I want them and only if I want them. Put the pointer down, Bob. I just want to know if I should wear a coat.

More and more, I find myself searching for news with a mouse in my hand, not the remote. Fact finding missions leave me staring at the search screens of CNN or MSNBC. Waiting for clock to strike 11:00 pm or for Larry King to leave his desk is a thing of the past.

My son will never know that there was a time where you had to sit through the fluff to get to the information you want. He may think of the television as an extension of the internet, rather than the other way around. Heh — I thought it changed my world.

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Jan 31, 2003

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve lived in Middle-earth. Yeah,
I know. You may have seen me around. You may have talked to me
on the phone. A keen observer would notice that I’ve posted
a couple of blogs during that time. No matter – that’s where I’ve
been. The commute has been killing me.

The long distance charges are starting to pile up. You wouldn’t
believe how hard it is to find a decent internet connection in
the Shire. All these Hobbits want to do is eat. Their furry
little feet scuffle here and there, off to fetch a morning meal or
afternoon tea. No I don’t want a pipe or early supper.
All I want is an ethernet port.
Maybe I’ll talk to Gandalf. He should be able to help.

The world of Middle-earth has me enthralled.
I’ve spent some time with Mr. Tolkien’s creations directly.
I’ve begun to read the series once again, starting with
The Hobbit.
Bilbo has had quite a journey thus far.

I’ve also spent some time peering at Middle-earth through the
keen camera lens of Peter Jackson.
The 4 disk set of The Fellowship of
the Ring
has to be the best DVD set I own. I’ve spent weeks
sifting through the extra material available on disks 3 and 4.
Each disk contains about 3 1/2 hours of footage, along with
galleries of art and photos. Somehow, it’s all quite interesting
and worth the time to watch. All future DVD sets
will be judged by this one. It is the new standard.

This weekend, I finally got around
to watching the extended version of the film, introducing
my stepfather to it in the process. One day I’ll try to tackle
the four included full-length commentaries.

Thursday, I returned to the theater to drink in the Two Towers once
again. I’ve already
gushed about this movie once. I have
no need to do so again except to say get to the movie theater now.
Right now!

To be honest, no one is more surprised than me that I’m not totally
sick of Middle-earth. To say that I’m overexposed is certainly not
an understatement. Heck, I even got giddy to find out that one
of my favorite bloggers, was
recently exposed
to the world of Orcs and Goblins and, much to his chagrin,
loved it. It’s fun to experience the world once again for the first time
through another’s

The only sad thing is that one day I’ll have to leave. I must
return to the “real” world and my everyday problems. I’ll leave
that to the future. I can’t go anywhere until Frodo finally rids
the world of that ring – that darn ring.

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Towering Above

Dec 31, 2002

After meandering about and, finally, repurchasing the books,
I finally gave in to another temptation. Saturday we arrived at the
theater to see one of the big ticket movies of winter, either
The Two Towers or
Die Another Day.
The newest Bond flick wasn’t showing, leaving only the
movie I desperately wanted to see but also desperately wanted to
avoid. After all, I haven’t yet cracked the books for the second time.
Curiousity got the best of me and, with
impending shut down of
my personal life, I thought it best to fill up my schedule sooner rather than
later. So the wife and I went to see the second episode of the Lord of the Rings.

There are certain movies that must be seen on the big screen, where
you can be surrounded by speakers and taken away by the picture
that encompasses your field of vision. Sometimes the urge to be
first in line makes you walk to the ticket booth. Sometimes it’s the fact that
sad acting can be better ignored behind the glitter of the
flickering lights. Sometimes a movie is just so damn good you
must see it in all its 10 foot glory, where a wall of speakers can make
your seat shutter. The Two Towers was definitely one of the latter.

Before Saturday, it was high atop my personal list of must-see-on-the-big-screen movies. Just about any action flick can make
the list –
Bond movies,
any movie with
in it. Pretty explosions is usually a requirement.
This year, the second
episode of Harry Potter
made my list; a dark movie theater might make its magic just a bit
more magical.

I’m glad The Two Towers found itself on the top. It was incredible.
It was epic. It’s the best movie I’ve seen
this year and one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. I was glued to
my seat. My very pregnant wife jostled a bit in hers but stayed right where
she was.

The first movie was good. It was better than good. I’ve spent about $60
on the
two versions of the DVD. That soundly places it high on my short
list of great movies. The second movie, like the second book,
was better. Braveheart and Gladiator will have some company on
my DVD shelf. I can only hope that Peter Jackson is kind on my
entertainment budget this time around.

The first movie made me think it. The second movie made me say it.
The Lord of the Rings is the
Star Wars of this decade.
Peter Jackson has picked up the ball that George Lucas dropped. The
second movie even reminded me a bit of
The Empire Strikes Back.
It was much darker than the first movie and let the history
established in the first flick of the series take on a life of its own in the second.
The best part is that I have no fear that Ewoks will enter the picture
for The Return of the King. We have our cute little creatures and
these hobbits carry swords.

I have only one question for the director: how about adding a fourth movie
to the mix?
I’d love to see the adventures of the original Hobbit, good old Bilbo
Baggins, in big screen form. That’s where it all started. It would be
a great place to end.

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A Week of TV

Oct 2, 2002

A new season of network television began about mid-September and, as
normal, I’ve been watching. I’ve been checking in on old favorites,
attempting to see which got better and which
jumped the shark“.
I’ve also been looking for that new show that can sink its hooks
into me and not let go.

What follows is a quick run down – show by show – of what I’ve sampled
over the last couple of weeks and what I thought about each. It’s high
time I have an entry that delves a bit into pop culture.


The Sopranos
The star show of HBO and for
good reason. Season 4 has started a bit slowly but that’s par for the
course. The first three shows have been happy to present conflict after
conflict. However, nearly none of those problems have been resolved.
I like the relaxed pace of the show, season after season. Turn on the
heat, bring the water to a simmer, and then, and only then, let the fireworks
begin. I have no doubt that when the water boils, I’ll be watching.

Curb Your Enthusiasm
A lighthearted comedy about the “real-life” trials of Larry David, the
creator of Seinfeld. It’s quirky and the only show from the Seinfeld
crew (the shows from the individual actors were unbearable) that
is (or was in the case of those other shows) noteworthy. There is
a healthy dose of Seinfeld humor here (Larry himself shares a lot
with Seinfeld’s character George – there’s even an episode about
that fact). From what I understand, there’s is no set script
for the actors, just simple situations. The somewhat improvisational
banter lends the show a different cadence, one that no doubt kept
it from public TV. Oh well, it will have to do as the funniest show
on cable.

The Practice
I haven’t seen this one in a year. I just wanted to waive goodbye to
and old favorite that just doesn’t fit into my time schedule anymore. Buh-bye.


Drew Carey
I still like Drew’s little show but somehow I feel it is on its way down.
It used to be outragously funny, with cute little dancing numbers and
fun little nuances. Now, it’s just good. I hope the trend does not

Whose Line is it Anyway?
This is one of those shows that I’ve always had trouble finding time
to watch but always enjoy. This season is no different. Its one of
the few comedies where I actually laugh out loud. I can’t imagine
saying anything nicer.


Frasier is still a good, solid comedy. I don’t know if I’ll always set aside
time specifically to watch it but, when I do, I know there will be something
for me. 24, a show that got my
award for best new show last year (you know the wonderful Kensies) may
have something to say about my Frasier viewing schedule when it begins
competing for my time in late October.

Hidden Hills
A show I’ve watched only because it follows Frasier. Ok there’s one more
It’s surprising cute, with the second show being better than the first. That’s
a good trend.


My Wife and Kids
This is another solid comedy, and one that I rarely fit into the wife and
I’s viewing schedule. Everyone seems to associate this show with the
Cosby show because both families are African American. The association
should be made because both are really great comedies for the whole

My favorite show after the Sopranos. A quirky town with some
very quirky characters that reminds me a whole bunch of
Nothern Exposure. If you haven’t watched this show before,
do so. You really don’t know what you are missing.

The West Wing
Despite the fact that I’m a republican, I really like this show. Heck,
it features a democrat as president that even I’d vote for (yep,
only in Hollywood is this possible). I think it has something
about the fact that he has a pair of balls. Maybe Al Gore should
look for his. In any case, I was bit worried that recent events
would make any fictional topics basically irrelevant. I hope
(and so far it seems) that fear is unfounded.


Another solid start to the most consistently good comedy of the last decade.
I won’t likely miss an episode for a while but, jeez, Ross and Rachel
get together already. C’mon guys, you know you wanna give us
one more season. You know you do.

One of my favorite new shows from last year (and now one of my
favorite shows, period) returns for another season in a much better
time slot. Hurrah. Maybe this show will get the recognition that
it deserves.

The last couple seasons of this one seem to define the phrase “jump the
shark” (maybe it should be jump the GSW). Most of the main characters
have spent the time jumping ship (I still don’t understand how they
can turn down the weekly paycheck), leaving little in their wake. The first
episode of this season
was great, though. They better keep them coming if they want the wife
to stop nodding off in the middle.

Another group of whiners left in the middle of nowhere to fend for themselves.
As the seasons wear on, I feel more shame for enjoying it but I still do.
All reality shows should take an extra cue from this one.
Eating bugs = drama. Take that to the bank.

The premiere was a typical episode – maybe too typical.
Nonetheless, I grew quite fond of the show last season. Neat take
on an interesting premise equals a modern day mystery.

Push Nevada
Odd, odd show. The story, or really all the stuff they don’t tell you,
is intriguing. Lots of odd stuff is going on and the main character
knows nothing. I may stick with a while; I may not. I’m mostly
concerned that I won’t know any more weeks from now than
I know right now. Stop drawing it out and get to the point already!
Unfortunately, the current ratings may never allow the mystery
to be revealed. Now that would be a bummer.


Mix the some old west bandits with spaceships. It was surprisingly decent,
as these types of shows go. I wouldn’t mind catching another episode but,
given that it’s shown on Friday night, I may never do so.

John Doe
The episode I caught (which was the first) was pretty decent. The only
problem is that it looks like a show you may need to follow to fit the
pieces together. Like Firefly above, its timeslot virtually assures
me that I will do nothing of the sort.

For those wondering how I could possibly watch all this stuff, I wonder myself.
My poor VCR gets quite a workout. Let’s just say that we don’t watch much
miscellaneous television. There’s always too much waiting on tape.
It’s about high time I get myself a

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Sep 26, 2002

Can you return a faulty Kleenex
box? Really, can you? The Kleenex box
in the bathroom stopped working properly a couple weeks ago and
we wait it out, hoping for the arrival of the bottom of the box. Why?
Well, because its just Kleenex.

The tissues no longer poke their head out of the top, just tempting
their use. No, our box now forces you to rummage to the bottom, grabbing
at the thin paper hankie with your finger tips. Is there no justice in this
world? Would the cashier not laugh in derision if I brought it back
for a refund?

The last week has been pretty normal, as normal times go. Saturday was
spent celebrating my father-in-law’s birthday with a
dinner at home and a viewing of
Monsters, Inc. Sunday was relaxing, filled
with a trip to the mall with a friend and his offspring and a viewing of
the newest episode of the Sopranos.

Speaking of Monsters, Inc.,
it’s another brilliant stroke by
a company that just can’t seem to release a bad movie. Each and
every movie is a lovingly crafted sundae, covered in technical syrup for
the geeks among us and topped with wonderful story jimmies for
everyone else. The excellence carries over to the
which is just bursting with sugary extras — commentary, a tour of the studios,
a making of, you name it. Don’t miss the little short with the
birds. It’s just another example of their talent.

Speaking of the Sopranos, the show is just heating up.
Trouble is brewing and Tony’s on the prowl. This season looks
to be bit darker than the last three. The kids are growing up and
calling dad on what he is. The gang isn’t a solid or stable as it
was. The conflict within will surely breed another great series of
shows, a series that displays the best television has to offer. I can’t
help but think that the freedom
HBO offers is a breeding ground
for artistic talent (see
The Wire and
Curb Your Enthusiasm
for more examples). HBO has become well worth the price of admission.

I greeted the rain of today with just a bit of joy, an emotion that any
rain near my house would be unfamiliar with. The land is thirsty
and I think I miss the change in weather that the rain brings.
As a big admirer of the sun, I’m no fan of rain; but the break in
a week or month that a spout of rain can bring is sometimes refreshing.
Maybe it makes the sun shine brighter. If nothing else, it makes
the grass shine greener.

Jeez, look at me getting all sappy. I better go get myself a

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