Something I did today

I watched an episode of Saved by the Bell. Never actually watched one before.

Any curiosity has now been sated. I need never do that again.

Published in: on August 29, 2009 at 9:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Are NASCAR sponsorships worth it?

How much would you pay for three-and-a-half minutes of a currently-loved president happily hanging around your billboard?

Published in: on August 20, 2009 at 6:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

What I'm watching

With the summertime rolling, what am I watching? Well, I’m bringing in a lot of cable originals, some of which I might forego if the schedule was more crowded. I mean, really, Rescue Me went anywhere it had to go seasons ago. Leverage is silly stuff that’s not as fun as it wants to be (the most fun to be had in the most recent episode came from the ads, with a lap-band ad with a misspelling of “procedure” in it followed by a bizarre Nancy Grace promo in hte midst of an episode that was ripping Ms. Grace to bits). Saving Grace has maintained its quality texture, and perhaps now that the end-date is known, it can actually go somewhere. The first episode of this last season of Monk started with a sign that they would be treating it as the last season — a woman’s car blew up — but then they failed to tie the arc of the show (Mrs. Monk was killed in a car explosion, her killers never caught). Waiting to watch this week’s new Mad Men.

I’ve stopped bothering to record The Philanthropist, I record episodes of  Gary Unmarried (not great, but great casting), The Mentalist and Flashpoint that I missed the first time but don’t always get around to watching them. I’m catching The Goode Family, for all its imperfections. Rewatching in rerun How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Two And A Half Men, 30Rock, New Adventures of Old Christine.

But with Mrs. Nat’s TV home for a few weeks, there’s a lot of sitting around the couch taking care of the new member of the Nat’s TV family. So thanks to Netflix, we powered quickly through season 1 of Barnie Miller, a show that absolutely holds up. Now, I’m enjoying seeing Jack Soo and especially Abe Vigoda acting not like characters that are saying something funny, but are actually people telling jokes – taking the pause to formulate it, telling it in their joke-telling tone.

And thanks to Netflix instant streaming, we’re doing Kate & Allie season 2. Definitely the pacing of its time, but that’s kind of a pleasure. And Jane Curtain… many comedians can play zany effectively, but Jane’s unmatched in her ability to get real laughs out of “straight” characters. It was true before then, it was true then, and it’s true now. (And oddly, literally as I was first typing her name in this paragraph, she popped up on my TV screen, in a movie I hadn’t known she was in, I Love You Man.)

Meanwhile, Kate and Allie’s youngest star, Frederick Koehler, seems to be popping up all over the place. Kind of nice to see him doing well, doing nicely with downbeat characters (and keeping an income going with the Fiber One commercials.)

Published in: on August 17, 2009 at 9:51 pm  Comments (2)  

Meatloaf log: the one with thrice-cooked chicken

Well, the in-laws were staying in town for about a week, supporting us with the birth of Ben and bringing in a lot of take-out food. Which means that it was time for a meatloaf, to help empty out the fridge from the stray little bits left there.

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz of ground turkey, in the form of turkey burgers; on sale, 32 oz of turkey burgers cost a penny more than 20 oz of ground turkey.
  • 12 oz of extra-firm tofu, chopped
  • about a pint of leftover white rice
  • about three ounces of chicken that had already been cooked twice. It came from the Chinese place steamed, then I had woked up with a mix of sweet-n-sour sauce and what I think was a ginger sauce, both left over from the Chinese food order as well. The mixing of these two sauces had a notable effect – it left the cooked chciken almost exactly the same color pink that raw chicken normally has, which meant that eating it required fighting off some deep-seated alarms. Chopped up, and included a couple chopped peapods and one broccoli. (Ate out the pineapple pieces during prep.)
  • two half-pints of differing mysterious sauces left over from the Chinese order, one mixed into the loaf, a somewhat spicier one used as topping.
  • About a dozen raisins, because that’s all we had.
  • A little plastic thing of salsa, left from a Baja Fresh order
  • An even littler plastic thing of parmesan cheese, from Presto Pasta, the only drive-thru pasta place I can recall ever seeing (and even then, only one of their five locations has a drive-thru.)
  • An almost indetectible amount of crouton dust.

Forgot to add my usual egg, which helps hold it all together. Also remembered too late where the rest of the salsa packets were. Couldn’t find my loaf pan, so it’s all in a circular casserole dish, cooking uncovered.

Results: pretty good, I’d say. A bit rice-heavy; one could argue this was actually Rice Helper. But pretty good, hearty. The top was a bit spicy, too spicy for Allison, but all quite food.

Published in: on August 15, 2009 at 7:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

John Hughes, RIP

Movie writer/director John Hughes has passed away.

I’m of the right age for his films to have hit at about the right time. The Breakfast Club is by far the important one to me. It may seem obvious, but it works. Still works, it seems, having talked to people decades younger than myself who have watched it. Stuff like Ferris Beuhler and Planes, Tranes, and Automobiles have strong value, of course, and much entertainment in some of the films he put together for other directors – Home Alone, Pretty in Pink, and so forth. But in the end, it’s The Breakfast Club that justifies it all, creatively.

I’d find myself thinking about Hughes from time to time, because he was gone from the scene. Hadn’t done a new produced screenplay in quite some time. I wondered if he just decided to get off the spinning wheel, or if perhaps he had early Alzheimers or some other debilitation that kept him out of the game. Certainly, a loss. I doubt Hollywood just dumped him. I mean, he may not have always had hits, but one Home Alone makes up for a lot of Baby’s Day Outs and Career Opportunitieses.

I also wondered when folks would be smart enough to do a stage version of The Breakfast Club. It seems too obvious. Simplest thing in the world to stage — really, it’s one set, a small cast. Plenty of bases for musical numbers, if you want to do a musical of it. And the audience for whom it’s iconic is now of the age to afford Broadway prices. Also, it would have a long life in local theater.

The death isn’t an art tragedy. He wasn’t producing, to the best of my knowledge. But…

Well, he was 59 when he died. Young to die, but not monstrously young. Still… if I die at that age, my new son will be fatherless at age 15. It’s hard not to see things in that context this week.

Published in: on August 6, 2009 at 11:23 pm  Comments (1)  

HawthoRNe

One of the thing about the basic cable channels is that I’m not alway checking them for new shows. If  I’m not watching anything on TNT, then I’m missing the ads for the new shows on TNT. So while I’d heard somewhere out there that something called HawthoRNe was coming up, I missed its premiering (and, for that matter, the start of a new semi-season of Saving Grace.

Now I’ve tried a HawthoRNe, and, well, I’ve survived it, but I don’t feel the need to choose more (even in these lack-of-new-fiction-TV days). It seems to be Upbeat Hospitable Drama 101. The episode had three storylines:

  • One patient-related drama that focused on the emotional relatioship of the patient, rather than the medical details.
  • One nurse-dealing-with-bad-patient, it’s-hard-not-getting-respect storyline
  • One lead-character-and-her-kid storyline, not particularly tied to it being a hospital show

None of it is particularly dark or particularly subtle. And in a way, the lack of darkness is a relief. After all of those years of dark hospital dramas, really, everything after St. Elsewhere (which could be dark, but leavened it with other color ranges), and most notable the 300 pound dark gorilla of E/R, seeing anything without a dark heart is a nice novelty. And it also didn’t show any sign of ongoing storylines. Really, if five years from now you run into a rerun at 3 AM on Lifetime, you won’t think “oh, no, I can’t watch that.” You won’t have to watch it, but if you’re awake, it  will be an acceptable option.

I have to say, though, that the show’s lead – Jada Pinkett Smith as the titular nurse – felt a might weak. Every delivery was over-perfected, over-slick, like she was playing a business slickster giving a PowerPoint presentation rather than a human being. I’ve not seen Ms. Smith in much else (nothing comes to mind, although I’m aware of her existence), so I really can’t tell if this is her general style or just a poor choice by actor or director.

And it was followed by a new Saving Grace, which seemed to confirm that the show isn’t really going anywhere… but its enjoyable texture remains largely in place.

Published in: on August 5, 2009 at 9:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Why posts may be more irregular or focused elsewhere

Eight pounds, eight ounces of excuse

Eight pounds, eight ounces of excuse

Published in: on August 5, 2009 at 9:20 pm  Comments (4)  

Defying Gravity

Defying Gravity is a new series about a manned trip to Venus. Well, probably to Venus. There’s some mysterious additional force involved. A mixture of Blatant Mystery and frequent flashbacks to the years preparing for this trip might lead one to suspect that this is supposed to be Lost… in space! Perhaps.

It stars Ron Livingston as the experienced astronaut who finds himself involved in this new mission in ways more complex then he’s aware of. Ron’s a good choice on several fronts… including the fact that his looks are so strong and chiseled, it doesn’t bother you that his character looks the same a decade in the past as he looks now. Ron himself has aged since Office Space., but not in that “ohmigod he’s aged” way.

Last night’s airing was actually two episodes. The pilot episode, in which the ship set off on its journey, was rather blatantly laden with “here is this character, and here is their source for later complications aboard the ship.” This guy has a drinking problem, that woman was once pregnant by this guy, and so forth. The second episode is more of an emotional establishing piece for a couple of the characters. It was not quite compelling, but its watchable, absorbable. They’ve got enough that something could be built here. Im not convinced that they won’t get caught too much in a problem-of-the-week mode, nor that it won’t be too much “everything happens because of the mysterious thingy which we can’t tell you about yet.” But I’ll at least graze through this for a while.

If the “space mission with mystery” spin reminds you of the recent failed pilot Virtuality, here’s the good news: this is better. Yes, there’s darkness of content here, and perhaps a bit less ambition, but it is not so overlayed by an unending Atmosphere Of Darkness.

Published in: on August 3, 2009 at 3:14 am  Comments (2)  

People I want to be reincarnated as, #1

A friend of mine just let me know she’s going to be in the area in a couple of weeks.

At the Playboy Mansion.

Helping paint “clothes” on naked women for a big $700-a-ticket charity party at the mansion that night, which she then gets to attend.

Published in: on August 1, 2009 at 5:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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