Tuesday, March 31, 2009
First, Neal once pointed out to me that Ohio is weirdly boring, in that it has no "thing"--you know, a particular hook or cliche that everybody associates it with. You think South Dakota, you think Mount Rushmore. You think Wisconsin, you think cheese.
This question is twofold: does Ohio have a "thing" that we're just missing? (I really don't think it does. One of its handicaps is that it has no principal city. Illinois can hang its hat on Chicago, but Ohio has three big ones that all start with C and also Toledo. This also means it doesn't have one major sports team that you can pin on it. Also, it has quite a few native presidents, but they're all boring.) The other fold is this: is there any other state without a thing? Molly and I unsystematically tried to think of one, but we thought of a thing for every state we tossed out. What do you think?
Here's the second and altogether unrelated question--I came across an internet discussion about how the movie Watchmen has not been very successful at the box office. People were putting forth different ideas about why that was--length, reviews, the end of the comic book movie boom, or that it's a dark, dystopian movie and these days people just want escapism. However, my thought was that it wasn't any of those things, it's that Watchmen does not have any mainstream cultural cache.
I had never heard of Watchmen before I started hearing about the movie. Is that just me? Should I be embarrassed? If it's not just me, is it everybody besides hard-core comic book nerds? The graphic novel Watchmen was put on Time's 100 Greatest Novel list, so you would think not. So here it is in specific question form: had you heard of Watchmen before hype for the movie started? If so, have you read it? If not, do you know people who have? Finally, did you go see the movie (or do you plan to, if it's still in local theaters)?
Neither are Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or the Northern Mariana Islands.
This has caused me to realize three frustrating things:
1. Where am I going to put these? Has anybody made up a 57-spot quarter book?
2. I still don't have all my state quarters! In the middle of writing this post, I went to scour my change cup to see if I'd missed any and, lo, there was an Alaska! However, I still don't have Hawaii. I'll admit that this may be because I don't use cash very much, but I really think I have bad luck with state quarters. I'm sure that well over 50% of the quarters I do have were given to me by my mom. (Thanks, Mom. . . . Do you have any Hawaiis laying around?)
3. I don't know anything at all about the Northern Mariana Islands. This one is probably the most easily remedied problem of the three.
(Dorky postscript: when I went through my change cup, I sorted all the state quarters and this is what I found: 3 of the 5 1999 states are represented, but I'm 0 for 5 on the 2003s. I didn't have more than 3 of any state except Wyoming, of which there is a shocking preponderance.)
(You can tell it's late, because that's when I start casually tossing out words like "preponderance." I don't know what it is about being loopily tired that makes me use big words, but it came in handy during many a paper-writing all-nighter.)
Monday, March 30, 2009
William the Conqueror (1066-1087)
I like to think that William was sitting around one day, thinking "Man, I hate being called William the Bastard. What could I do to get a really cool nickname? Hmm . . . ."
To be fair, he thought (or at least claimed) he was just taking what was his, since he insisted that Edward the Confessor had named him as his heir. So when Harold Godwineson (man, they had awesome names back in the day [Godwineson, obviously, since we still have Harold and it isn't all that awesome]) decided he was king after Edward died, William was all "Nuh uh." And he launched the last successful invasion of England and, as you probably surmised, conquered it.
Of course, no one can keep his youthful, trim, conquering figure forever. This wouldn't have been a problem per se, if only his funeral directors had designed his stone coffin in the appropriate proportions:
William then returned to France, where he died in 1087 after being seriously injured in a fall from his horse during an attack on Nantes as part of a campaign against Philip I. He was buried on 12 September in St Stephen's Abbey, Caen. His unfortunate mourners left the building gagging after the king's fat and decomposing body burst its sarcophagus, emitting a stench of rotting flesh.Charles Phillips, Kings & Queens of Britain
It was probably less embarrassing than getting stuck in a bathtub, if only because William was no longer alive to be embarassed. And this has been your Monday Monarch Moment.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
A. I have just added a blog roll.
1. Craig and MacKenzie have one
2. And so does Will
3. I finally realized they're pretty cool, so it's down there under "About Us."
B. I'm taking the poll down.
1. Answers to my question about fake 80's videos seem to have petered out
2. The final tally was seven for "Pop! Goes my Heart" to just one for "Let's Go to the Mall," an impressive showing for Hugh Grant.
C. Don't miss my Friends, Season Two post just because I also wrote a letter to Billy Gillispie today.
1. I worked much harder on the Friends one.
2. To be honest, I take my Friends-blogging a little too seriously.
II. I wanted to share my Weird Observation of the Day
A. Today while I was walking to campus, I saw a young woman, probably in her late twenties.
B. She was smoking a pipe.
1. It was pretty weird because she was a young woman
2. It was at least as weird because she was walking--don't you imagine pipe-smoking as a sedentary, contemplative activity?
Hey, man. I'm sorry you got fired.
I'm not going to pretend I'm heartbroken, or anything, but I do feel fairly bad for you. I want to let you know two things:
First, it's going to be OK. Even after everything (and by "everything" I just mean you leaving A&M for Kentucky, even though we LOVED you. We loved you)--I still believe in you. For whatever reason--I don't know if it was the crazy pressure you were under, or that highly-recruited Kentucky kids don't take to your strict discipline like underdog kids do--you did not tear it up at Kentucky.
But I still know that you are a good coach. A really, really good coach. Maybe you just need the right type of program, but I am confident that at your next job (which you will of course get, although I don't know at what level), you will go back to excelling. I know it.
However, the topic of your next job, whatever it may be, brings me to my second point:
You have got to change.
My hunch is that you didn't really need the boosting that I gave you a couple paragraphs up. You know you're good, or else you wouldn't have wanted so badly to bolt from A&M in the first place. So this is the more important point: starting acting right.
Kentucky probably would have given you more of a chance if anybody there liked you. And it's your fault they don't, buddy. Change 1: you've got to be less of a jerk, at least until you really prove yourself. People will tolerate a jerk if he wins. Until you get comfortable and successful at a job, hide your tendencies.
Change 2: in the "hiding your tendencies" genre, maybe try to scale back the drinking and skirt-chasing? People do pay attention to what you do, so you should really tone it down in that area.
Change 3: play zone every once in a while. Geez. (I remember your stubborn commitment to man-to-man losing us a couple of games against Tech, but apparently you do not.)
Change 4, and this might be the most important: get over whatever your bizarre deal is with not signing contracts. That's so weird, dude. I really think you have some sort of phobia or irrational hatred of the things and let me tell you, it does not do you any good. It makes you seem slimy and, again, even if/though you are slimy, you shouldn't make it so obvious.
Again, I want to emphasize that this is friendly advice. Good luck on the job market. I'm sure I will continue to follow your career with interest.
I don't claim to know how Friends did in the ratings in any particular season, but content-wise, this show did not have a sophomore slump. There are a few misfires, particularly early in the season ("The One Where Heckles Dies" is a particular un-favorite of mine [and, not coincidentally, hearkens back to first-season corniness]), but pretty much every great, loveable aspect of the show can be found in this season. The characters are full-fledged without coming close to being the caricatures they would someday become.
Moreover, plot-wise a whole lot happens. Ross and Rachel kiss for the first time, Ross and Rachel start dating, Monica loses her good job, Monica eventually gets a terrible new job, Monica starts dating Richard, Monica breaks up with Richard, Susan and Carol get married, Joey gets his job on Days of our Lives, Joey moves out, Joey loses his job on Days of our Lives, Joey moves back in, Phoebe first sings "Smelly Cat," Phoebe gets a record deal for "Smelly Cat," Phoebe first meets her half-brother, and Gunther speaks. There's a surprising amount of huge, series-defining events.
Little things that drive me crazy:
Monica's bangs. They look greasy and terrible during the whole back half of the season.
A strange continuity thing: in season one and season two, it gets mentioned that Phoebe slept with Monica's ex, Jason Hurley, an hour after he and Monica broke up. That would be great continuity, but that Monica is shocked by the revelation both times. Why bother to use the same name and everything if it still isn't going to make sense?
Rachel's hatefulness to Ross's girlfriend Julie, while Julie is a total sweetheart. We're supposed to be on Rachel's side because we know her better, but Julie is awesome, so it makes Rachel look pretty bad. In my opinion, anyway.
Little things I love:
So! many! great Chandler lines:
- "Why yes, Ross, pressing my third nipple opens the delivery entrance to the magical land of Narnia."
- "This must be so hard. 'Oh, no, two women love me! They're both gorgeous and sexy. My wallet is too small for my fifties, and my diamond shoes fit too tight!' "
- "The world is my lesbian wedding." (upon Joey's complaint that he was surrounded by women but could do nothing about it)
- "Can open, worms everywhere!"
- Joey: "We never said we were going to live together forever. We're not Bert and Ernie." Chandler: "I'm aware we're not gay puppets."
- "So when I woke up, he had stolen all the insoles outta my shoes!" (telling his friends about how crazy his roommate Eddie is)
- "This is not out of the blue! This is SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BLUE!"
- Ross: "Over my dead body!" Chandler: "And I'll be using his body as a shield."
- "Think: what would Jack and Chrissy do?"
Eddie, particularly his fish-related hijinks.
Phoebe's romantic lobster metaphor.
In the scene where Monica breaks it to her parents that she's dating Richard, Ross is mostly in the background. However, he is quietly responsible for: removing a crystal glass from his mother's hands, taking a baseball bat out of his father's hands, and rounding up everyone at the party to come into the kitchen singing to cause a diversion. Well played, Ross.
Let's talk about Monica:
In the second season, the writers decided to stop making Monica haplessly unlucky in love (which is good, as I felt that was a hard sell). For this--this is the season that she dates Richard. Sure, the age difference can be awkward, but they're so good together it's easy to ignore the sketchiness. And sure, they ultimately break up, but for such a good reason! She needs babies, but he doesn't want to have more babies. (It's hard to blame him. According to their conversation on their first date, he'd have at least two grandkids older than any kids they would have together.) But Monica's just so happy with Richard. It's nice to watch.
They do trade lovelife loserdom for job loserdom, however. She gets fired from a nice restaurant (right after getting promoted!) for accidentally taking a kickback, then she's unemployed for quite a while, then she has to start working at the '50s theme diner which, while it is a comedic goldmine for us and for her friends, is quite a blow.
The second season also marks the first flash-back appearance (in "The One with the Prom Video") of Fat Monica, who may well be my favorite character in the whole series. She's such a sweetie! It isn't my favorite appearance by Fat Monica (that happens in the fifth season), but she gets established well here. She goes to prom with a guy who'd seen Star Wars 317 times! ("His name was in the paper!")
On top of that, second-season Monica is not at all shrieky and obsessive. Her cleaning quirks come up, but not in every episode--by a long shot. It shows up infrequently enough that it makes her plot in "The One with the Chicken Pox" plausible: she and Richard have been dating for half the season, but she is only just then reveals her crazinesses to him. Since the crazy is not her whole personality, we can buy it--heck, that's what allows to buy that a great guy like Richard is even with her.
Basically, this is a season that makes it all right that people compare me to Monica. A woman who's a little quirky, who's not always put together career-wise, who needs her some babies, who's capable of having a solid relationship with an awesome guy, but who is above all a nice person and a good friend? I can totally live with that.
The A plot in "The One with the Bullies." It's just so stupid. It renders the whole episode practically unwatchable for me.
Best plotline in an otherwise lackluster episode:
When Joey works at Chandler's company and decides to play the character of Joseph the Processing Guy. Chandler's reactions to Joey's imaginary wife and kids are gold; it's too bad it's buried under Phoebe and Charlie Sheen in "The One with the Chicken Pox."
Honorable mention episode:
"The One After the Superbowl [sic]": this one is pretty epic (Ross discovers that Marcel has become a corporate mascot, crazy Brooke Shields stalks Joey, Chris Izaak gets Phoebe a job singing for kids but she ruins it by singing overly truthful songs, Rachel and Monica date Jean-Claude Van Damme [not, in this case, a character played by Jean-Claude Van Damme--they date Jean-Claude Van Damme] , and Julia Roberts dates Chandler but only as a way to trick him into getting stranded in a restaurant wearing nothing but her panties) and very funny, but it's a little too cartoony and outlandish to be one of the top episodes.
Top six episodes:
"The One with Ross's New Girlfriend"
or: "The One with Joey's Tailor" or: "The One Where Phoebe Cuts Monica's Hair"
"The One Where Eddie Moves In"
or: "The One Where Phoebe Gets a Music Video" or: "The One Where Ross and Monica Fight (Like When They Were Kids)" (I know that last one is cumbersome, but I couldn't think of anything pithier.)
"The One Where Dr. Ramoray Dies"
or: "The One Where Eddie Gets Weird" or: "The One Where Richard Sleeps Over"
"The One Where Eddie Won't Go"
or: "The One Where Eddie Gets WEIRD" or: "The One Where Joey Moves Back" or: "The One with Be Your Own Windkeeper"
"The One with Two Parties"
sums it up.
And the total classic:
"The One with the Prom Video"
or: "The One with Chandler's Bracelet" but who cares? It has the prom video!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Why? Because they product-placement it all the time on The Biggest Loser. And it worked.
I'm so ashamed.
(It is pretty good gum, though.)
Bobble Billy quickly became one of my most treasured possessions, what with my fanaticism and all. He sat on top of Nancy's TV in our apartment in College Station. He came with me to Wisconsin, and I brought him with me to serve as good luck when I watched the Aggies on TV. Sometimes the luck worked, like when I took him to Chanda's house to watch the Ags' first ever win over KU (he wasn't entirely welcome, either, since Chanda and Mr. Chanda are hardcore Jayhawks fans). Sometimes his luck wasn't enough, like when he came with me to my least favorite bar in Madison to watch the Ags lose (as they too often do) to Texas Tech. (Seriously, what's with the Aggies losing so much to Texas Tech, especially when Tech is a significantly worse team? It's like they're kryptonite!)
But then, of course, the unpleasantness happened. Flesh-and-blood Billy walked out on A&M for bluer pastures in Kentucky, and one of my first concerns was what that would mean for his bobbleheaded counterpart.
I couldn't bear to take out my frustrations with Human Billy on Bobblehead Billy (some people did--I didn't save a picture I often saw in those days of a bobble Billy in a urinal), but I couldn't have him around like I used too, either.
I toyed with the idea of finding some Kentucky fan (since Neal is related to several) who might take Bobble Billy in and give him the good and loving home that I could no longer provide. Unfortunately (read: hilariously), Billy has done poorly enough at Kentucky that nobody there likes him, and his firing may be imminent. Poor guy (again, read: hilarious).
OK, I'm being unfair to Much Larger (But Still Rather Small in Grown-Up Man Terms) Billy. Honestly, my most noticeable feeling about his failure (failure in, of course, University of Kentucky terms) is befuddlement. I know I keep telling people this, but: it is impossible to overstate the change he wrought in Texas A&M's basketball program. It was just terrible, and then he came along, and now it's one of fewer than 10 programs in the country that has made the tournament and gotten to the secound round four years in a row. Yeah, it's not Duke, but it's more than respectable, which is amazing if you compare it to how much less than respectable it used to be. (Example: when I was a freshman at A&M, I didn't know much about college basketball, but I knew that we were terrible. One day on Rudder Plaza, some people were handing out men's basketball schedules, and I wouldn't even take one until they added that it was a magnet. Since my roommate and I loved plastering our mini-fridge with magnets, I then accepted it.)
What was I saying? Oh right, it's amazing how much Billy accomplished with so little to work with. He made it to the Sweet Sixteen starting Chris Walker and Marlon Pompey. Now, I love those guys, but Billy made it to the Sweet Sixteen STARTING Chris Walker and MARLON POMPEY. For those of you unfamiliar with those lads, let me just say--neither would ever, ever come close to riding the bench at a place like Kentucky. So how is Billy not succeeding, given his proven abilities and the recruiting and resources of Kentucky? I will never figure this out.
But back to Bobble Billy. He ended up in the back of my closet in my old apartment, but he got shuffled around when I moved in with the 'sband. Our closets are pretty full here, but we do have copious cabinet space (especially way up high, where we can't put anything we use regularly because I can't reach up there without clambering up onto the counter, and that is not becoming for a Grown Up Married Lady [read: I totally still do it sometimes]).
So Bobble Billy is behind the bag of surplus sugar that doesn't fit in the canister.
It's quite a demotion from the old days, but it's where he shall stay indefinitely.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
"Let's Go to the Mall" from How I Met Your Mother
"Pop! Goes My Heart" from Music and Lyrics
Oh, yes, it was The Fabled Sixth Episode. And it was pretty good. It flipped the formula by being mostly about FBI Guy, and just a little about Echo and her assignment of the week. There were two upsides to this: FBI Guy finally had something worthwhile to do, and there wasn't all that much Eliza Dushku (it's harder to notice her not-so-good acting when she does less of it, although admittedly she did pretty well with her material this week). The episode also gave us some answers about things (mostly Dollhouse inner-workings) while bringing up more questions (for speculation funtimes!).
Oh, and it's called "Man on the Street" because it's peppered with man-on-the-street interviews for a news story about the urban legend of Dollhouse. Some of them were trite or boring, but one was genuinely hilarious. This device was also a nice way of mixing up the storytelling.
From here on out, it's all spoilers.
So, it turns out FBI Guy's neighbor, Sad Girl (who kept trying to get him to please notice her! by plying him with Italian foods) is actually a doll, planted in his building to (unknowingly, of course) spy on him. That was not a huge surprise overall, although they did do a good job misleading us within the episode. (I figured once Head Dollhouse Lady called her a "civilian" that she wasn't a doll after all.) And she's a pretty cool stealth doll, with an implanted hypnotic suggestion that allows her to go Super Ninja. That was awesome. I like Sad Girl. (Sad Girl got attacked by Jerk Handler, whom I'll talk about in the next paragraph, and I was really nervous they were going to kill her off. Since I watched it on Hulu yesterday, I was able to go find a spoiler that she was a doll instead of dead meat--which ruined it a little bit, but not as much as I would have thought it was ruined if poor Sad Girl had been murdered.)
There was a sub-plot where it turned out that Sierra (Echo's friend-doll) had been getting raped by her handler. It was supposed to be a surprise that that was who it was instead of the boy-doll, Victor (whom we already knew has a crush on Sierra, even though that's not supposed to happen in blank slate mode), but I saw it coming from the moment Jerk Handler came onscreen. He's always been hateful, so it was pretty cool that Sad Girl killed him. (Head Dollhouse Lady sent him there, ostensibly to kill Sad Girl, after he was found out by Echo's handler, Boyd [yay, Boyd!], but whoops! She's a ninja.)
The real speculation-friendly part of the episode was went Echo met up with FBI Guy and they fought, but then! She told him that she had secretly been imprinted by a mole inside the Dollhouse to tell him that, well, there's a mole inside the Dollhouse. She told him that he needed to back off for now and make the Dollhouse people think that they had won. She also said that the mole would communicate with him again, through her, so that they could take it down together, because it's much too large and powerful for him to destroy by himself. Then she set him up to make it look like he shot a cop (which she said she had to do so that the higher-ups would think she'd completed her mission). At the end of the episode, we see him turning in his badge and gun, since he's been suspended because of the hijinks, and Head Dollhouse Lady (who, by the way, is not really the head of Dollhouse, just the manager of the L.A. branch) smirking about it.
Here's what I think: there is no mole. I honestly just assumed, as Echo was giving her spiel to FBI Guy, that the mole story was purposely put in there by Dollhouse to mislead him. Let's compare:
If there is a mole, then Dollhouse's plan was just to have Echo attack and frame him and to attack his neighbor/new girlfriend. This would have resulted in his suspension, but also in the absolute confirmation of the existence of Dollhouse and that they are out to get him. He's not very smart (see: telling his neighbor all the details of his case), but he is dogged, which they know. Simply (and perhaps temporarily) stripping him of the authority and resources of the FBI is not going to stop him, which they should know. This scenario doesn't do them a whole heck of a lot of good.
If there is not a mole, then Dollhouse has just effectively put themselves in control of FBI Guy's future actions. Echo told him to back off for a while, so he's going to. Heck, they can have Echo tell him to do whatever ("You know what? You should go to Mongolia. The mole says that's where Dollhouse HQ is. Have fun!"). As long as they allow him to feel like he's making a little progress every now and then, she could tell him what to do indefinitely. (Again, he's always been much more determined than intelligent.)
Of course, if it were me in charge of Dollhouse, I'd probably just kill him. Wouldn't that be easier than either of the abovementioned scenarios?
Friday, March 20, 2009
What drove me to bite the bullet and get it cut was that it was taking so long to dry my hair, and I hate drying my hair. It's boring and loud. I skip it altogether when I can, but it's not really possible to just sit around with sopping hair during the Wisconsin winter. Even indoors. It stil takes a while to dry. According to the girl who cut my hair (who I'm going back to next time, on account of her correct hair-parting), it takes so long because my hair is so healthy that it absorbs a lot of water. I now sometimes wonder, usually as I dry and dry and dry my hair, whether I should bleach and/or perm the heck out of it. It probaby wouldn't be worth it.
I've started letting my gray hairs grow out. I've had a few grays for several years now, but I used to pluck them. At some point, I decided I should just suck it up and accept them. The weird thing is, I only have about a half-dozen or so gray hairs, but they're all in the same small area. It was Neal who pointed out to me that this means I'll probably end up with a stripe. If I'm lucky, it will be a Stacey London-type stripe
and not a Bonnie Raitt shock
Or, heaven forfend, a pre-makeover Wendy Pepper debacle.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Nobody cares that you posted first.
Not the person who put up the original article/entry/video/whatever, not the other posters, not even your mom cares that you posted first.
You could travel the world, from Canada to South Africa, from India to Norway, from New Zealand to Ecuador, and still never find a person who cares that you posted first.
You could travel the universe--in all four dimensions--and you would never find a historical figure, a fictional character, a member of any alien race, or any of your future descendants that will be born before the sun expands into a red giant and swallows the earth, who has ever, would ever, or will ever care that you posted first.
Monday, March 16, 2009
I didn't particularly care for this one. The stand-alone plot of the episode was ungood. It involved Echo infiltrating a cult (without, of course, realizing that she was planted there). However, the cult itself was very poorly fleshed out. Was the cult leader a self-conscious fraud or not? Why were the cult members following him, in particular? What did they think their purpose was? All of these questions (and more!) go unanswered. Also, the characters related to this plot were either given no discernable characteristics, or were huge jerks for no known reason.
Plus, it touched on one of my TV pet peeves, the Simpleminded Christian. I know this isn't quite fair, because they were dealing with cultists, not mainstream Christians (it's kind of like Mormons complaining about Big Love, a show in which LDS Mormons are the normal populace that the polygamists hide their lifestyle from). Still, I hate the treacly, unrealistic dialogue that this show (and other shows) put into the mouths of people who believe in God. It always proves that there aren't religious people in these writers' rooms, so they don't know how religious people actually think.
One other slight problem is that the idea of the Dollhouse staying a secret gets less and less believable. This week, Echo worked for a federal agency. (They got the job through some Senator who "helps them avoid government entanglements.") She didn't interact with the Feds, but Boyd did. And he had no logical explanation for why Echo was doing what she was doing or why her eyes were cameras that they could see through. C'mon, a room full of federal agents and nobody questions this guy's really vague explanations any further?
On the other hand, the overarching plot moved forward considerably. Even this, though, fell victim to sloppy writing. (Consider the rest of this paragraph spoileriffic.) Lawrence, the jerk blonde guy with close-set eyes who is a Dollhouse higher-up, demonstrated his earlier hinted-at dislike for Echo, when he snuck off to the cult showdown to try to kill her. However, he did a terrible job. The cult leader was about to shoot Echo when Lawrence shot him instead, saving her. Then he just smacked her unconscious with his gun instead of, you know, shooting her with it. Or, if he didn't want her death traced back to him, shooting her with the cult leader's gun. Or, hey, letting the cult leader kill her in the first place. It was not intelligently handled, either in-story or by the writers. Echo is apparently getting closer to her "composite event" where she'll stop forgetting her programming, but this seems like an excuse to have Eliza play the same old full-of-moxie girl that she always does, undercutting the premise of the show.
The FBI-dude-who-is-tracking-Dollhouse plot moved forward a smidge this week, but he still seems dumb and incompetent. Also, if he uncovers Dollhouse, how is there a show anymore?
Next week is the fabled Episode 6, which Joss and Eliza have promised will begin the awesomeness. Also, it guest stars Patton Oswalt. Huge nerd cred for that one. I have to say, though, if it doesn't live up to the hype, I might give up on this show. The ratio of how much a criticize it to how much I enjoy it is not a good sign.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Most importantly, we have the Aggies. And it's weird, dudes. Just like last year, the Ags have a nine seed. Just like last year, it's the nine seed in the West Region. And just like last year, the eight seed against whom the Ags are matched up is BYU. I really like to know if, or how often, that's happened before. (Maybe I should email the Big XII blogger. Hmm.)
(OK, I just emailed Tim Griffin at ESPN.com. I'll check back every now and then to see if he replies.)
I don't think the Ags are going to win the BYU rematch. I just don't think they've been very good this year--I'm pretty surprised they got a nine seed, since it was unsure they'd even get in as recently as a couple weeks ago. That said, I'm still going to pick them to win in my brackets. Heck, it's not like BYU is going to get past UCONN, so it'll just cost me a point to pick with my heart.
OK, other than that, I don't have much to say. I haven't been following college basketball well this season, which was made abundantly clear to me when I had to guess my way through my Facebook brackets. (Seriously, I have no idea what to pick.) I bet Memphis will get pretty far, if only because they're the only high seed I dislike, and I'm usually thwarted in regards to teams I do not like. For instance, I would like for texas to get upset by Minnesota, so I bet they won't. We'll know I'm cursed if they beat Duke in the second round, though.
It's really just shocking how bad the Aggies have been--this year and historically--in the blasted thing. Three games ever, people. In the twelve year history of the conference, the Aggies won one game in '06 and two games last year (bright side: that means the Turge has won twice as many conference tournament games as Billy). '07 was particularly frustrating, as the Ags came in with a #2 seed and, therefore, a bye round, and immediately lost to a desperate Oklahoma State team.
As usual, I didn't get to watch the Ags play on Wednesday night. However, it's easy to be frustrated just from watching the score--how do you squander a 20-point halftime lead? To Texas Tech?
It's fairly disingenuous for me to say I hate it, though, because given the chance, I'd love to go see it in person. It's one of my long-term goals.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Well, tonight's game was not the greatest, as far as the Aggies playing goes. However, the bottom line (as Dave South [whose autograph I have, by the way] pointed out on the postgame radio show) is that we won. And that JoJo scored 35 points. (Holy crap.)
But, besides the actual basketball of the basketball game, this one was pretty sweet. First of all, tonight was my 12th stamp. So I got a t-shirt! (Is there anybody who doesn't love free t-shirts?) Secondly, they were giving away coupons for a free cookie at Kroger. Free cookie! No strings attached!
But perhaps most importantly, whilst I was getting my 12th Man Reward t-shirt, a guy asked me and Marlis if we wanted to do the free throw contest! So we did!
Marlis shot the red ball, I shot the blue one, and some nice freshman girl was green. Let me just point out that I was in the middle, giving me something of an edge, since I didn't have to shoot at an angle. And I totally won! It was a contest involving hand-eye coordination, and I won! I got a letter entitling me to a free large pizza from Domino's (whoop!) and a poster of Billy Gillespie/Gary Blair. Marlis and Freshman got posters, too.
And, as another consolation prize, Marlis got to shove me in front of thousands of people after I won. Thanks and gig 'em, Marlis.
I Had a Dream Last Night
I was at Reed Arena (but on the left side of the student section, not the right--that was weird) and I was watching the A&M-t.u. game. The clock was down around a minute, and the Aggies were down by one. We got the ball, and either Acie Law or Josh Carter took a 3-point shot, but missed it. Then the sips took it down and scored a 3-pointer, and the shot clock was turned off because there were only 22 seconds, and they got the ball somehow, and all that was left to do was watch us lose. And we did, 62-58.
Then I woke up, and was really relieved that it was only a dream, and went back to sleep.
And then I woke up for reals and thought, "Whoa, that was really detailed. And since when can I do math in my sleep?"
The point is, well, there are two points. 1: I am thinking way too much about this game. 2: If the score is actually 62-58, sips, tomorrow, I will be disappointed but also PSYCHIC!
Saturday, March 14, 2009
(I realize that creating the possessive of "Denny's" is, itself, a problem.)
They have all these commercials about "serious breakfasts," as I assume you have seen, but I will offer exempla:
Complaint 1: As Neal pointed out, Denny's is applying the irritating truck commercial shtick to . . . pancakes. You know, the terrible truck commercials best exemplified by Howie Long demeaning the manhood of anyone who drives a truck of a competing brand. Basically, it's the mentality, "You should buy our brand. Otherwise, you're a weak little girl."
Complaint 2: Have you seen the one (which I couldn't find on YouTube, though "nanerpus" and "nannerpus" combined have 247 listings) they show during almost every Wheel of Fortune with a grating, terrifying music-box-style song playing over a stack of pancakes that's being covered in a frightening, viscous red fluid that threatens to drown chaotic sprinkles and an actual twirling toy ballerina (and then there's an inset with the same thing except it's a boy ballerina)? For me, that terrible seven seconds of grotesque music is a nauseating experience. It makes me feel like there are spiders crawling over me, or perhaps inside of me. I can't explain why, but it is viscerally hideous. I'm sure they intended to make it unpleasant, since that is the sort of thing they are against, but I feel it goes too far.
Complaint 3, and this is the most annoying one: Who are they making fun of? This applies especially to the nanerpus and ballerina ones--who does that? Who makes the pre-parody version of those pancakes? Does IHOP have a reputation for putting toys on breakfast foods of which I was unaware? Is it Village Inn? I don't understand! At least Howie Long makes obvious reference to which truck brand will leach away your very masculinity. Denny's is battling some weird, whipped-cream obsessed straw man.
Again, I ask you--what is Denny's' problem?
Sunday, March 8, 2009
So here we go with the first season.
This a pretty good season. It is not the best season. It's the cutest season, but that's because it's much too cute. There are lots of forced moments that hit you in the face with "AW! THESE ARE THE BESTEST FRIENDS EVAR!" It's also in the little things--for instance, the guys casually touch each other much more than is believable. Overall, the promise is clearly there; it just needs to be grown into a bit more.
The characters develop as the season goes along. In the pilot, Joey is pretty much a blank slate with leather clothes, Rachel is generically helpless, and Ross is unusually Woody Allen-y, speech patterns and all. Only Chandler springs from the first scene fully formed. First Season Monica is definitely meant to be a Lovable Loser. It's good that they drifted from that in part: latter-season Monica still has a mother that hates her, but she's much more successful with men. First Season Monica's biggest trait is being unlucky in love, which is fairly unbelievable for a woman that looks like Courtney Cox. First Season Phoebe is a little weirder, but a lot sweeter than she would get later. Her non sequiters are more frequent and funnier--I love First Season Phoebe. She's a hoot.
The other distinct thing about the first season is that they date some startlingly ugly people. It's pretty clear that the show did not have much of a guest star budget. Sure, Ross got to date Jan from The Office (albeit Jan with bad hair and frumpy clothes), but Joey was really into that woman who now plays Generic Mom in, like, all commercials. And don't get me started on Phoebe's psychologist boyfriend (although IMDB tells me that actor dated Michelle Pfeiffer, so what do I know?)
Little things that drive me crazy:
Mr. Heckles. The writers thought that character was way funnier than he actually was.
The cameo appearance by the women from Mad About You (in "The One with Two Parts"). Specifically, upon seeing Phoebe at the coffee house, they not only assume she is Ursula (which is understandable) but that she is working there as a waitress, since they know Ursula in her capacity as a waitress (which is stupid and strangely classist).
The way-too-cutesy things, in order from least to most barfy:
Joey makes a metaphor for Ross comparing women with ice cream, saying Ross needs to get out there and try new flavors, so later after Ross asks Rachel if maybe he can ask her out sometime, Ross tells Monica, "I grabbed a spoon."
Rachel looks lovingly at her friends, referring back to a Jack and the Beanstalk metaphor from earlier, and gushes, "I've got magic beans!"
Right after Ross' and Monica's grandmother dies, they look through some of her old pictures and find one of their grandma in her youth with her pals and some kind of soda shoppe or something.
Little things I love:
This conversation about the different powers of men and women, particulary Phoebe's line.
Joey and Chandler on a double date--Joey: "How do I look?" Chandler, looking intently: "Oh, um, I don't care."
The cold opens where it's just them sitting around having a conversation. These mostly got dispensed with later in favor of just starting the plot, but a lot of good lines come out of them.
The first cold open that's not a coffee-house conversation, though, is Joey is Freud!, which is well worth it.
When Chandler convinces an unsuspecting Joey to choose "Joseph Stalin" as his stage name. With hilarious results!
One cute thing that does work: when the Gellars are waiting in the hospital when Nana is about to pass away, Ross and his dad sit the exact same way. It's a nice little touch.
Let's talk about Ross:
This season is the one with all the cutesiness, but even more so, it's the one with all the Ross. Almost all the dramatic weight of the season rests on Ross: Ross has just gotten divorced, and he's sad and misses his wife; Ross is an expectant father and trying to figure out how to be a good dad, especially when he doesn't get to be married to the mother anymore; Ross is secretly in love Rachel and can't figure out how or whether to pursue her.
Oh, and he has a monkey for a while.
Ross, in the first season, is the soul of the show. It's odd to realize that from the perspective of later seasons, when Ross would be shunted into mostly irrelevant, often pathetic, stereotypically "sitcommy" plots. What is more obvious is that it's weird for Ross to be likeable. In later seasons, he's petty, whiny, angry, and pretty much just socially inept. For Ross to be the anchor of the show doesn't work when he's like that--Season 1 Ross, even with his nerdiness and sad-sackity, is--for the most part--loveable.
Why did that go away? Did they run out of story ideas for Ross by deploying so many so soon? Did he just get boxed into being a cliche of his character traits sooner than everybody else (because they all did by Season 9 or so)? Did Schwimmer annoy the writers, who then retaliated with metaphorical character assassination instead of making Ross fall down an elevator shaft? The world may never know the answer, but it's certain that Season 1 is the high point for Ross.
One last thing about Ross: there's a scene in "The One with the Candy Hearts" where Ross and his ex-wife Carol end up together in a restaurant on Valentine's Day. Their conversation is easy and fun, and it hits Ross all over again that she is the woman he loves and wanted to spend the rest of his life with. He tells her that he still loves her and they should be together, and here's the thing: the scene is mostly played for laughs. The pace is pretty quick to keep it light, but had it been acted or directed differently, it could have been a beautifully heartbreaking scene. My pet theory is that since it was just the first season, they didn't want to risk putting anything too heavy in their fun sitcom, which is a shame, in my opinion. Seriously, if you happen to catch that episode, imagine it played with a little more gravity, and see if it would't have been just the saddest, sweetest little conversation. I think Schwimmer could have pulled it off.
Top four episodes:
"The One where Underdog Gets Away"
or: "The One with Joey's VD Poster", or: "The One where Ross Sings to the Fetus"
"The One with the Candy Hearts" (I've always thought this episode was poorly titled--it refers to a throwaway joke about Janice getting personalized candy hearts for her and Chandler [right before he re-re-dumps her].)
or: "The One with the Ex-Boyfriend Bonfire", or: "The One with Ross's Date with Carol" (see above)
"The One with All the Poker"
that totally sums it up.
"The One with the Birth"
Saturday, March 7, 2009
First, quick thoughts on the last two weeks' episodes:
(Fancy Hulu embed!)
The pilot was so bad that I was only going to give the show one more chance, but the next episode was good enough to earn more viewing weeks from me. There's a twist in it, so don't read the next paragraph if you don't want spoilers.
Supposedly, Echo has been hired to be an outdoorsy girlfriend for some dude (the dude tells British boss lady about how jaded he's become by lousy women before, giving a little bit more credibility to why he'd be hiring a "perfect" Doll). But then! It turns out that he wants to hunt and kill her. At first, I thought he was just doing it for sport, like on that episode of Gilligan's Island, but apparently he was part of some larger, mysterious plot against Echo.
The best thing about this episode was that it focused on the relationship between Echo and her handler, Boyd. As it turns out, Boyd is AWESOME. Boyd is now my favorite. They also flashed back to how Amy Acker's character got her scars, which was nice if surprisingly quick.
The best thing: Echo and Boyd saving and trusting each other. Awwww.
The stupidest thing: Maybe just that they showed this episode so early--the order has been messed with, and it really seems like this one should have been later on, just because of how many questions it seemed to answer and the development of the promised "Echo starts to remember stuff" element of the show.
This has been my favorite so far. There was finally a reasonable motivation for somebody to hire a Doll: someone is trying to kill a famous, diva-y singer. Her manager wants to protect her, but she hates having bodyguards all up in her business. He goes to the Dollhouse and gets Echo, who is programmed to be a backup singer, but she also has programming that makes her fiercely protective of the singer. The singer doesn't realize Echo is a bodyguard because neither does Echo. That's kind of brilliant.
The best thing: Echo hits Fake-yonce with a folding chair. It was great.
The stupidest thing: Fake-yonce's terrible, heavy-handed speech about how she has no real personality of her own and that she was just created by a factory. WE GET IT. HER LIFE PARALLLELS THAT OF A DOLL.
And, this week, Gray Hour.
This week was not as good as last week, but it was still all right. Spoilerish: Echo leads a team that robs some sort of art museum (or something) but then! In the middle of a cell phone call to Boyd, she hears some weird interference and it wipes her programming. That means she's ina high-intensity, dangerous situation as Blank Echo, who's totally innocent and useless. That element was pretty interesting.
It was still beset by too much heavy-handed dialog about identity and stuff. This keeps happening. It's kind of like how everybody on House keeps telling House that he hates people and he's miserable. In both situations . . . well, for one thing, we get it. For another thing, nobody would ever talk like that.
The best thing: Echo's Doll friend Sierra getting programmed with Echo's robber programming so she could try to fix Echo's mess. It was fun to see both actresses playing the same character.
The stupidest thing: The episode began with Echo as a midwife delivering some baby somewhere with no explanation of who these people were or why they used Echo instead of a real, much less expensive midwife. Nothing to do with anything. Ridiculous use of a Doll.
Overall, Eliza Dushku is still not the best actress (in the world or even on this particular show. The woman who plays Echo's friend Doll, Sierra, is actually pretty rockin'). She's gotten better at playing blank Echo, but pretty much all her programmed characters are . . . Eliza Dushku.
Another problem is that there's this other storyline about some FBI guy trying to expose the Dollhouse. You notice I didn't mention this FBI guy in any of those episode summaries? That's because he adds nothing to the show (well, some ladies apparently think he's grade-A eye candy. He's not my type). All of his scenes feel like they come from a different show, and not a good one. He's not very interesting, and he's not very smart (one week he went to a sketchy location alone and--surprise!--got shot by some Russian mobsters. He should have seen that coming. Moron). I don't root for him and I don't see a reason to.
Finally, the premise is still fairly shaky. However, as I had hoped, the stories that the premise produces can be entertaining enough that I'm willing to suspend my disbelief. As long as that keeps happening, I'll keep watching.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
In fact, Laura Prepon is an important element of an idea I've been developing: The Actress Scale. I wanted to think of a way to describe how good/not good Eliza Dushku is in Dollhouse (I said a 4.5 to a 5 at the time, but she and the show have gotten better since the pilot--FYI. She hit a girl with a folding chair last week, and I laughed and laughed.) It's not quite enough just to say, "On a scale of 1 to 10." So I figure each number should have an actress assigned to it to make it easier to pinpoint other actresses.
(Obviously, this could apply to/there could be one for actors as well, but that happened not to be the context in which I conceived of the idea. So there you go.)
Let's say a 10 is Meryl Streep--maybe there's a better example, I'm not sure. I think I'm still impressed by a clip I saw of Doubt on some late night show. It was a scene with her and Amy Adams; it started with Amy Adams being all emotional and trembly and clearly acting her little heinie off. But then Meryl spoke up and made Amy look like a moron, because Meryl wasn't acting, she just was a grumpy old nun.
The value of 0, I believe, should be assigned to that horrible blonde ADA from Law and Order: The Mothership. You know--"Is this because I'm a lesbian?" That woman is an acting-free zone. Just nothing going on in there.
And that brings us back to Laura Prepon. Based on her work in That '70s Show, I'd make her the representative of 1. She's incrementally better than Terrible Blonde from Law and Order, but not enough better to make it all the way to 2.
Anyhoodle, I haven't bothered to come up with anybody else for the scale. Do you have any suggestions? Any hopes that Laura Prepon has gotten better and won't ruin Monday's episode of HIMYM?
Stevie Wonder has anosmia--he has no sense of smell! That's just not fair! I mean, for a three-sensed person, he's better off than Helen Keller. But then, Helen Keller could fully appreciate bacon.
Monday, March 2, 2009
This is something between a list of suggestions and an itinerary.
State Capitol (check)
Wisconsin Historical Museum (check)
Chazen Museum of Art (check!)
University of Wisconsin Geology Museum
Wisconsin Veterans' Museum
University of Wisconsin Arboretum
Ice Age National Scenic Trail (not all of it, unless we get real ambitious)
Olbrich Botanical Gardens
Vilas Zoo (check)
Outside Madison (this list is a lot shorter than it could be, but these are things I've been told I should go to):
The House on the Rock
New Glarus Brewing Company (check)
Cave of the Mounds
All right! We will have to see if Neal and I A) manage to do some of these things, and if we do B) remember to take pictures, so as to C) keep them for cherishing memories and D) post them on the ol' blog. Adventures!
1. Massachusetts: I was born there but have no recollection of it. Neal says it counts, though.
2. New Hampshire & 3. Maine: ditto on the not-remembering. I've been told I went on a trip to Maine (via New Hampshire? I'm fuzzy on the details) and did not enjoy it. I don't know if I'm missing any other travel-through states that I do not recall.
4. Kentucky & 5. Tennessee: We lived in Kentucky when I was wee, in a town on the border with Tennessee--which is where the hospital in which my sister was born is. (I've renewed these recently in Neal-family-related trips.)
6. Kansas: what up!
7. Colorado: I have been to Colorado countless times. It's always great.
8. New Mexico: we went on a trip there when I was in high school and saw Carlsbad Caverns (caves are awesome). To get there, we drove through
9. Oklahoma: lots of driving through this one, since it's on the way to
10. Texas: college! And during college, I took trips to
11. Pennsylvania: I got to walk on streets that John Adams strolled down with Thomas Jefferson (before the unpleasantness) when they were in the Continental Congress. (I have to assume there were fewer homeless people at the time--total, if not [perhaps] per capita.) From Pennsylvania, we walked to
12. New Jersey: The best part about walking to New Jersey is getting to say "I walked to New Jersey." Obviously, I still get a kick out of it.
13. Louisiana: I visited pre-Katrina New Orleans. There were mimes, high taxes, rude waitresses, cute architecture, and delicious beignets. I'm sure those things are there again/still.
14. Arkansas: I went on a couple of Spring Break church trips there. Let me tell you, Arkansas is not pretty in March.
It was still fun, though.
15. Maryland: Maryland was OK. The real attraction was
BONUS! Washington D.C.: I bet that happens to Maryland a lot.
16. California: And you know what? I did have fun, fun, fun!
17. Illinois: I still need to tell you guys about when Neal took me to see Wicked in Chicago. I went to the top of the Sears Tower once,but it wasn't a pretty day.
18. Michigan: It was real cold. Then there are those states that I've driven through instead of to, such as
19. Indiana, 20. Missouri, 21. Iowa & 22. Nebraska: Sorry, guys. I rather enjoyed driving through Nebraska--very specific road signs and lots of places to stop on the interstate, instead of signs indicating there's something at the exit which is really two miles away from the exit. (I'm looking at you, Iowa.) Similarly, there are my airport states
23. Minnesota: I got a connecting flight there. (I did like that the St. Paul airport had moving sidewalks everywhere!) And 24. South Carolina: on the way to D.C., our plane had to wait for weather, and it waited in South Carolina. I didn't leave the plane, but again, I checked with Neal and he votes that it counts. That leaves
25. Wisconsin: I live there! (For now.)
UPDATE: According to my dad (see the comments), I have also been to (through) 26. Connecticut and 27. Ohio. Over 50%, baby!