Credit where it's due

Regarding last night’s post on quarterlife: I should note that the observation that “Dylan” was not an age-appropriate name came from Mrs. Nat’s TV, and the statistics to back it up came from the handy and cool-looking NameVoyager.

Published in: on February 28, 2008 at 9:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

quarterlife – not a capital show

So, I had hopes for quarterlife, because there are some folks with some good track records behind it. Although I admit, that I never got around to watching its original web version, because I’m not that fond of watching longform video on the web.

Anyway, there’s a scene in the first episode of this series about creative young folk (and we know they’re creative because they hit us over the head with them telling each other how creative they are) in which two young filmmakers are at a car dealership (a product placement, we should note) and are pitching the dealer on having them do an ad. They’re talking about how the dealer’s existing ads don’t have anything for young folk like them. And that really seems to encapsulate this show, only the two guys doing the pitching are Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, two men in their mid-fifties. The show feels like a careful manipulation toward a target audience, with being all blog-gy and internety and with sexy young things falling into all the wrong romantic combinations, and new and edgy in some hard-to-look-at ways.
Want to know how bleeding edge it is? The lead character? Her name is Dylan. Yeah, that’s a cool, hip name now… for babies. In 2004, 474 out of ever million American baby girls was named Dylan. But before 2003, the number drops to … zero per million. This gal must be younger than she looks.

Herskovitz and Zwick achieved verygoodness two decades back with thirtysomething and greatness a decade back (with lots of help from the talented Winnie Holzman) with My So-Called Life. Let’s hope they have something else to bring us in this decade.

Published in: on February 28, 2008 at 2:07 am  Comments (2)  

TV Ketchup

Yes, yes, I’ve fallen behind in the key point of the blog — reviewing new TV shows. I was a little lagged, and dealing with Gerber’s death didn’t really encourage me. But TV waits for no man.

  • The biggest one is, I suppose, the telemovie pilot for the new Knight Rider. Now, some reviews will probably tell you that this is a shallow, silly action piece. Yes, it is. And that’s really exactly what Knight Rider should be! Dadgummit, we need something basic and silly and that the whole family can watch if they choose to. Of course, I will not choose to… but I’m much happier seeing this as it is rather than seeing the overt attempts to take things that worked in their straightforward form and make them ornate intertwined serious drama pieces. Witness Bionic Woman and Kolchak – in making them modern, did they really make them more interesting to the modern viewer than simply doing the basic action silliness with today’s production quality? Yeah, yeah, I know. Battlestar Galactica works with the heavy dramafication. But this is a talking car show.
  • Amnesia is a quiz show where people are quizzed about details of their life… which means it’s a quiz show where you can’t reasonably try to answer the question, losing much of the fun right there. And they must be running out of people to host these things, because they dipped down to Dennis Miller — once a respectable comedian, evolved into a shrill conservative commentator whose wisdom never reached the level of his wit, even as the wit waned. But as embarrassing as he was to watch for a while, he seems even more embarrassed to be here, reading stiffly from the teleprompter. This is the sort of thing that will make both the network and audiences glad that the writers are back. (Mrs. Nat’s TV’s response was a) Who Cares? and b) Too Much Information!)
  • Welcome to the Captain hits one of my sore spots – it’s a show about a TV writer. Writers: if the only thing you can write about is a very literal version of yourself, it’s time to see the world and learn about other people. Having said that, this does actually have some basic solid sitcom structure behind it – underexposed young man moves into an apartment building with odd friends and wacky characters. And using Raquel Welch as the sexy older lady and Jeffrey Tambor as the experienced gentleman – in this case an older sitcom writer – both please me. It’s got sitcom-level schemes but plays it a bit quieter than some, and all in all is not vital but watchable.
  • For various reasons, I’ve yet to catch Lipstick Jungle. I don’t feel terribly put out by this

Yes, yes, a shallow bunch of reviews. But I feel like I’ve done my duty for now.

Published in: on February 23, 2008 at 11:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Inflection matters

The other day, on the NPR news, I heard a statement which was obviously supposed to be read:

This weekend, Barack Obama said “too often, it’s business as usual.”

But thanks to the miracle of a cold read and an incorrect inflection choice, the newscaster said

This weekend, Barack Obama said too often “it’s business as usual.”

Published in: on February 19, 2008 at 8:47 pm  Comments (1)  

A not-very-experimental loaf of meat

The supermarket has ground turkey on sale, $1.97 for 20 ounces… and I have (non-doublable, alas) coupons for $1 off each pack. So for under $2, I can get enough turkey for a meatloaf and have some left over to boot. As such, it’s meatloaf time.

Alas, we don’t have any fascinating or intriguing leftovers, and I didn’t score any interesting spices or sauces to experiment with. So this meatloaf will be:

  • Ground turkey
  • Two ground-up taco shells
  • Some ground up Crater Chips, which are pretty light and really aren’t likely to add much. I should try Fritos some time
  • One egg
  • One packet of taco seasoning, which Allison helped me shaken in (this is my excuse for the line of taco seasoning running down my pants leg and onto my shoe)
  • Raisin bran
  • Jasmine rice made just for this meatloaf — it feels like such a violation. Usually, leftover rice is an excuse for meatloafing.
  • Tomato-and-basil spaghetti sauce
  • Sweet corn
  • French-style green beans
  • Some old minced onion from a shaker that we probably had when we got married
  • Raisins
  • 14 ounces of soft tofu, bought with good intent for using it for something else, and then not

This is really quite a big pile of food — the addition of the tofu really added up. Overflows my meatloaf pan by a fair bit; I had to remind myself that meatloaf doesn’t rise, so this should not be a problem. The missuz and I both had the silly thought of turning the excess into meatloaf cupcakes. As I type this, I’ve put it into the oven for whatever-temperature-the-oven-gets-to- when-we-set-it-to-360, which is prob’ly about 400 degrees, and I’ll let it sit in there until it looks to be done and doesn’t look red when I cut into it.

Conclusion: reasonably tasty and edible, but not amazingly distinctive in any way. Took a long time to cook, and even then it was a bit of a guessing game (the tofu left it very moist, the spaghetti sauce made parts pink, so it was a little hard to tell from being underdone.)

Published in: on February 18, 2008 at 11:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Tough room

Just off of CNN.com:
Roger Clemens questioned by lawmakers on steroids
I thought Dianne Feinstein has looked a bit pumped lately. Don’t these lawmakers know they are role models? Soon we’ll have to deal with ‘roid rage at student council meetings in every high school in the land!

Published in: on February 13, 2008 at 11:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Guest stars aplenty

Today’s Boston Legal had Scott Bakula, Alison La Placa, and even the great George Wyner! Somebody likes me, and most of these folks I’ve not seen in a while. The show may be utterly disposable entertainment, but …

Oh, wait, I just realized, they have La Placa and Laroquette … its a The John Laroquette Show reunion!

Published in: on February 13, 2008 at 2:15 am  Comments (3)  

Pleasure in my pain

On the long drive back from my appearance at the Schulz Museum, I listened to the audiobook of writer/lawyer Scott Turow’s fine non-fiction work on the death penalty. And at the end, a voice came on and said “We hope you enjoyed the Ultimate Punishment.”

Published in: on February 10, 2008 at 10:26 pm  Comments (1)  

Soda find

I like drinking weird soda. Folks who have been to my parties can tell you that I usually have an assortment of oddments. Rose petal soda, Kickapoo Joy Juice. Classic stuff like Moxie (which proves to be vile), or Dr. Pepper made with cane sugar. Various root beers. Coffee sodas, mint sodas, candy corn flavored sodas. Cheerwine and Bubble Up.

Some of the flavors seem to be novelties, and most of those are good only for novelty value. Jones Soda, now the most visible of the odd brands, is good at this. While this is to be expected with their aggressively-novelty holiday sodas like Thanksgiving gravy soda, the sad truth is even their more day-to-day sodas tend to be merely aggressively sweet and not that tasty.

But every once in a while, I find something that would seem to be a novelty but is actually really good. The latest find, a true surprise is Mr. Q. Cumber, billing itself as “the original cucumber soda”. The pitch is not misleading – it truly does taste like cucumber. And as surprising as this may sound, that works. It’s tasty and sweet enough that it’s good for drinking on its own, and yet it’s not so overpowering that you couldn’t have it with somewhat subtle food.

So, where can you find this odd drink? Danged if I know. I did a web search, and there are exactly zero references to this soda on the web. The bottle has a web address on it for the manufacturer, but the website is just a holding space. I’ve found references to a couple other drinks from the same manufacturer (including the first sugar-free carbonated milk beverage in the USA — i.e., a soda-like product designed to be acceptable in school vending machines). I’m lucky enough to live relatively near a soda specialty store where I can find stuff like this.

But if you do see it, give it a try. At the very least, you’ll have something to tell your pals about. And at best, you’ll have a new good soda to drink… whenever you can find it.

Published in: on February 8, 2008 at 1:26 am  Comments (1)  

Nat to Santa Rosa

I tend not to cross-post things around my various blogs, but I thought there might be some Nat’s TV readers up in the Santa Rosa, CA area who might want to meet me. I’ll be appearing up at the Schulz Museum this Saturday.
More details here.

Published in: on February 8, 2008 at 12:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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