February 28, 2007

February 28, 2007

March Madness

Tomorrow is the very first day of March. Also, I think the first day of meteorological spring. It's supposed to get all the way up to 40 here, so I'm pretty sure I'm gonna break out the spring coat.

There's a famous saying about March. It comes in like a something and goes out like a something else. I never remember which is the lion and which is the lamb. Or how any of that applies to the month of March.

I hope to start Geraldine Brooks' March tomorrow. Yes, I'll be reading March in, wait for it…March. Ah, kismet. Anyway, in case you've been living in a cave, March is Little Women from the dad's perspective. As long as it's not too heavy on the battle scenes, I think I'll enjoy it. ("So, these little women…how little are they? Scary little?") I like behind-the-scenes stuff. You know those videos Mr. Rogers would have that showed how stuff was made? I was all about those.

And finally, I know why the March Hare is called that. To wit:
"'Mad as a March hare' was a common phrase in Carroll's time, and appears in John Heywood's collection of proverbs published in 1546. It is reported in The Annotated Alice by Martin Gardner that this proverb is based on popular belief about hares' behavior at the beginning of the long breeding season, which lasts from February to September in Britain. Early in the season, unreceptive females often use their forelegs to repel overenthusiastic males. It used to be incorrectly believed that these bouts were between males fighting for breeding supremacy."

Yeah for Wikipedia. And for Lewis Carroll. He was pretty cool, for a mathematician.

February 26, 2007

February 26, 2007

We’ll See Who Falls First

Once I determine to do something, it's very hard for me to let it go. Recently, I found out that a major retailer is offering a limited number of free, customizable t-shirts every day at noon. You just have to be one of the first ones to log on to the website.

Well, theoretically, anyway. According to the retailer (whose name you will not find in this entry, because I don't want to be competing for these shirts with you, my vast readership), the quantity of shirts available each day is "extremely limited." And since I have tried for several days in a row right before, at, and after noon and found that they're already out of shirts, I suspect that "extremely limited" is code for, like, two.

But, despite my suspicion of the whole deal, I am determined to get a shirt. I continue to delay my lunches and set my Mozilla calendar alarm. (Well, I forgot today. In my defense, it was ridiculously busy—two people were out. But I shall resume tomorrow.)

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one that can't let this die. Really, I'm thinking anyone seeking to cripple American society could use this to their advantage.

The path to anarchy is paved with free crap.

Oscar Observations

Scariest Hair: Will Ferrell
Scariest Hair, Runner-Up: Jack Nicholson

That dance group kinda freaked me out. How did they DO that? Seriously.

When Alan Arkin won, I screamed a little bit.

Lots of women in Hollywood are scary tall.

Most enjoyable presenters: Abigail Breslin and Jaden Smith (True to form, the boy messed up and the girl had to hold it together.)

I thought Ellen did a good job. I mean, it's gotta be intimidating, trying to be witty in front of a billion people. I have trouble enough when I'm on the phone with just one person.

Leonardo DiCaprio—still cute. Loved when Ellen mentioned him just because she thought the ladies would like to look at him. We did, Ellen, and thank you.

Both The Departed and Marty win…and no Matt Damon? Where my boy at?

That "In Memoriam" thing gets me a little choked up every year. And I don't even know most of the people who died. How will I be when the people dying are ones I actually remember?

Note to self for next year: Don't try to brush your teeth during a commercial break. You're going to miss something.

Can Dreamgirls accurately be summed up with the word "sparkly"?

The French lady who won for costume design was dressed in something hideous. It's like when you get a haircut, and all the hairstylists have really weird hair. Apparently, being an expert in something means you don't have to apply it to yourself.

February 23, 2007

February 23, 2007

“A” Couples and “B” Couples (Week of Sadness, Day 5)

While watching Sports Night the other day, I realized that it has an A Couple and a B Couple. The A Couple is Dana and Casey. The B Couple is Natalie and Jeremy. Both have the tension, complications, and other good stuff we watchers love.

I realized that a lot of the shows I enjoy have had A and B Couples. Ross and Rachel vs. Monica and Chandler. Ryan and Marissa vs. Seth and Summer. Jam vs. Dwangela. While the A Couple has the sort of transcendent romance that most people only dream of and that tells you they'll either end up together or miserably apart, I find that the B Couple is almost always more interesting. ("Almost always" because, well, Jam forever.) It may not be a match made in heaven, but there's a lot less drama. (Books have A and B Couples, too. My favorite part of LotR is the scene in "The Steward and the King" in which Eowyn finally realizes that Faramir is, like, ideal.)

Maybe it's just that I'm pretty sure I'm not destined to be part of an A Couple. (If I were, I'd probably know it already—they're usually a life-long sort of deal.) Maybe it's that the guy in the B Couple is usually just the right amount of quirky and amusing. Regardless, while I wish all those A Couples well, I'll take a B Couple any day.

February 22, 2007

February 22, 2007

How They Did It in The O.C. (Week of Sadness, Day 4)

Tonight marks the end of an era. The O.C. airs its very last episode at 9/8c. The sound you hear immediately after will be me and millions of 14-year-olds quietly weeping.

The O.C. was my guilty pleasure show. It came along right after Dawson's Creek. Both had the same sudsy vibe. And cultural awareness. And great music. And compelling characters. And whip-smart dialogue. The O.C. took me through college. I spent more than one night listening to the local Fox affiliate's radio simulcast of the show because even though I was taping the show to watch over the weekend, I was too impatient to wait.

A few of the things I'll lament:
Sandy's schmears
Seth and Ryan
Julie Cooper's schemes
Taylor Townsend, the ultra-strength version of me

I know most of you don't understand the love we fans have for this program. We don't ask you to. All we ask today is a little patience and some understanding. Someone earlier this week compared it to the passing of a friend. In a way, it is. Never again will I spend Thursday night with the Cohens.

California, there we went.

February 21, 2007

February 21, 2007

The Year of the Pig (Week of Sadness, Day 3)

The Chinese New Year began on Sunday, so it is now the Year of the Pig. According to my Mom, Korean women are feeling a lot of pressure to have children this year because it's supposedly very lucky. I'm sure Chinese women are feeling similar pressure, though their child birthing system is pretty screwed up anyway.

So, I did some quick Wikipedia work and found out that I coincidentally was also born in the Year of the Pig. This shouldn't have been a surprise, I guess, since there are 12 animals and I turn 24 this year. But math has never been my strong suit. (Just ask anyone who talked to me while I was struggling with my econ homework on Monday. I was ready to kill myself.)

Despite the fact that people reading astrological stuff just take the stuff that applies and discount the rest, I found some characteristics of Year of the Pig people eerily familiar:
· "They are a modest, shy character who prefers to work quietly behind the scenes."
· "This type of person is reserved with those they do not know too well, but as time passes and they gain confidence."
· "The people of the pig type are conservative creatures of habit."

In the interest of full disclosure, I also found one thing that definitely doesn't apply:
· "They love nature and are never happier than when they are out somewhere, far from the city." You take me away from mass transit and tall buildings and things turn sour pretty fast. Part of why I love Washington, D.C.—Metro.

So does this mean 2007 is my lucky year? Because 2006 was a big one, and 2008 will be, too. I was just going for a holding pattern in '07. Maybe I'll have to rethink that plan.

February 20, 2007

February 20, 2007

Lent (Week of Sadness, Day 2)

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Lent. For some, it's 40 days of deprivation. For others, it's 40 days in which to mock those suffering from 40 days of deprivation. Alas, I am going to do a little gentle mocking here, so those of you who've given something up for Lent should perhaps stop reading here.

Lent, to me, is like fasting. The general principle being that you're supposed to devote the time and energy you would have spent on the thing you're giving up to praying and whatnot. And that's why I don't give anything up for Lent (well, that and the fact that I'm not Catholic). Because I'm pretty sure I've got the drive to refrain from most things for 40 days (the main thing I can't do without being television, not whatever your dirty mind was thinking about). But I honestly don't think I would replace the time with anything worthwhile.

So, no, I'm not giving anything up for Lent. I know someone who's giving up liquor (but not wine) and another who's giving up the internet (but no blogging). Both cases seem to me a little like cheating, but who am I to judge? I'll be drinking and interneting away. (Well, not the drinking part. But that's another blog entry.)

February 19, 2007

February 19, 2007

That's a Wrap (Week of Sadness, Day 1)

My tastes tend to be pretty pedestrian. I like popcorn movies. You know, the ones where lots of stuff explodes and people drive really fast and steal stuff. I read popular literature. The Da Vinci Code? I was all over that. I get the new Harry Potter books on the first day they come out. I like songs that have such mass appeal that they're often used in advertising campaigns. Or movies.
So, long story short, the things I like are usually successful things. Things that will be around for awhile. That's why the demise of Studio 60 is so disappointing. I read an article recently that noted it had been one of the season's most-hyped shows. I mean great cast, powerhouse writer, intriguing premise—what's not to like?

I don't like committing to new shows, because we all know I watch enough tv already. But I decided to go out on a limb this year on Mondays, since I was intrigued by the NBC lineup (and since 24 didn't start until January). And while Heroes has tapped into the cultural zeitgeist like I'd hoped, Studio 60 never got there. It never even got close.

I'm not sure why not. Maybe it was too smart? Too insider-y? I mean, I love that kind of crap…30-second pages, upfronts, the whole bit. But are there that many pop culture obsessees out there besides me? Apparently not. Or, if there are, they're not inviting me to the meetings.

Alas, tonight is the last scheduled airing of Studio 60. NBC has stated it will return on a date "to be determined." That's pretty much code for "you will never see this program on television again." I know this because I'm still waiting for the final episodes of Joey. Which, come to think of it, was also on NBC. Huh.

So this week of sadness begins with the premature demise of one of my shows.

February 17, 2007

February 17, 2007

Sports Night

Since I was (and am) very impressed with Studio 60, and since I've had several friends recommend other Aaron Sorkin shows to me, and since the one thing my life is missing is television (I can't even type that with a straight face), I've decided to try a little program called Sports Night.

Let me start with the fact that it's quite good. Perhaps not "thumbs-up Jeff Zucker" good (I miss that Jimmy Fallon impression), but good nonetheless. I like Felicity Huffman and Peter Krause, so that helps. And I of course love the witty banter. Honestly, television has so hyperinflated both my vocabulary and my ability to banter that talking to most people is a bit of a letdown. Thankfully I have a few incredibly verbose acquaintances that keep me in bantering form.

However, Sports Night is like a Whopper for me—I have to pick off the tomatoes and onions, which in this case is the laugh track. Maybe I'm just spoiled by the fact that none of my current sitcoms (and I have four, but that's a whole other issue) have laugh tracks, and I adore them. Maybe it's that I'm so used to the laugh trackless Studio 60. I don't know. But when the first canned laughter came on during the pilot, I was like, "Why are there people laughing? What is that?" As I Seussically text messaged the friend that recommended this show, "Sports Night has a laugh track? What the frak?" (And it honestly took me about 10 minutes to get that text message all typed out. Foolish things confounding the wise, indeed.)

I'm not necessarily against laugh tracks per se—Friends had one, and we know how I feel about that show. Seinfeld had one, too. I'm not sure why it bothers me in this case. I think it's the fact that I see this as a smart people show, and I don't think the smart people need that psychological indicator that says, "Hey, you there, this is funny, you should be laughing like these people."

You don't need to point out the funny. I know the funny.

February 16, 2007

February 16, 2007

Valentine's Day, Texting, and Physics

I actually did something fun for Valentine's day this year. I went to Medieval Times.
If you've never been there, well, it's basically a dinner theatre where you eat medieval food (chicken) in a medieval way (with your hands) whilie watching guys riding horses and swordfighting and stuff. It's kinda expensive, but I hadn't been for a couple of years, so I enjoyed it.

While I was there, I tried text messaging my friend Hayley (also a fan of Medieval Times) that I was actually in the building. Alas, my phone fills-in the word it thinks you're trying to type, and so the "I'm" of "I'm at Medieval Times!" kept becoming "him." Also, "hi" turns into "gig." I don't understand why this is. What programmer thought that people would be texting the word "gig" and not the word "hi"? Is there some floor of the T-Mobile offices in which people go around greeting each other with, "Gig, how are you?"

But on to something I'm weirdly excited about. The book I'm reading right now (because I left Watership Down at work [and it's been confirmed--Watership Down is just Lord of the Rings with rabbits]) is totally upping my smart girl cred. It's called The Elegant Universe. In case you haven't seen the kickass NOVA special, The Elegant Universe talks about this thing called string theory that involves a lot of weird physics and quantum mechanics. Scary, I know--even I hated physics in high school. The book, though, gives a lot of cool practical examples.

The best thing about reading The Elegant Universe is that you can use terms like "Heisenberg's uncertainty principle" and "electroweak force" and actually sorta know what you're talking about. So, as my public service announcement for today, I implore you to pretend to think about reading this book. Yeah, the one whose picture is below. Because it's a non-pretentious smart book. Unlike that salt one I tried reading a few years ago. That ended badly. I gave it my best shot, but books about minerals don't do it for me, alas.

February 13, 2007

February 13, 2007

Mirror, Mirror

In preparation for the release of the last book, I've been rereading the first six Harry Potter novels. Other things keep popping up, so I'm still in the middle of SS. Last night, I read the chapter about the mirror of Erised and it got me wondering…what would I see in the Mirror? I'd like to think I have some idea, but can you really know for sure? I mean, Harry didn't expect to see his family. Ron didn't expect to see himself as Head Boy. I know later on Harry can manipulate the Mirror into showing him what he wants to see, but it's that very first look that I'm interested in.

I guess my question is: do most people really know what they want…or just think they do?

(I know the Mirror isn't real. Trifles, people. Trifles.)

February 8, 2007

February 8, 2007

Swept Away

It's February, and for people who have an unhealthy relationship with television (*raises hand*), that means one thing: sweeps. You people who only watch normal amounts of tv should probably just stop reading now.

I recently learned that there are actually four sweeps periods, but the fourth one is in the summer and no one cares about it. It's like the middle child. Or Preparations A-G.
While I myself am partial to May sweeps (season finales! deaths! drama!), February ain't bad (evil twins! pregnancies! earthquakes!). February sweeps also include the Oscars. And that football game. Oh, and the Oscars.

And, this year, February sweeps include the demise of one of my shows. I'm not going to name it here--isn't that a Jewish custom or something, not naming the dead? I'll probably post on February 22 to give the show its proper due. For now, all I'll say is: Taylor Townsend, we hardly knew ye; Marissa Cooper, we knew ye a little too well.

I'm not saying I won't have other things to watch. In fact, Thursdays at 8 was my busiest hour all week--I had to watch one show and tape two others. Gotta get a TiVo. I'm sure this is karma's way of easing my schedule.

But, karma? Couldn't you have done it without taking away Julie Cooper?

February 7, 2007

February 7, 2007

Lost is Found

For the past few months (since November 8 or so), my life has been free of mysterious smoke monsters, The Numbers, Hurley, and one super-hot doctor.

Well, all that ends tonight with the return of Lost. Granted, it's not what it once was. No longer the darling of the cultural zeitgeist (as Seth Cohen would say). But still a pretty rockin' show.

Now, if you're not on the Lost bandwagon, well, that's unfortunate. However, not as unfortunate as you people who started watching the show and stopped around the time it got weird. Yes, there's a lot going on. Yes, it's frustrating. But there are places to go to for help--recaps, websites, um...me. And it's not like the Lost PTB aren't trying to get you back. They're working on an endgame. They're airing a recap show at 9/8c.

So if you've ever expressed even a smidgen of Lostphilia, spend some quality time tonight with Jack and the gang. You owe it to yourself.

And, hey, you might even see me there.

February 5, 2007

February 5, 2007

Intermission: The Pops Concert

Because I'm a glutton for self-punishment (someone else's words, not mine), I'm trying to teach myself Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Which is an awesome piece. And by awesome, I mean "3 pages of really cool-sounding stuff and 28 pages of ridonkulously-hard stuff in keys no one uses." I managed to master the 3 good pages pretty easily, but the other 28, not so much.

When I found out that the MSO was going to have a Pops concert including my little piece, I of course got a ticket immediately. And by immediately, I mean "after pondering it for a little while, since I can't even decide on an entree without reading the entire menu." Kismet? Karma? Something else beginning with k? You make the call.

And now, allow me to posit seven of my observations about the concert:
1. Someone needed to tell the guy next to me that cargo pants only count as okay attire for an orchestra concert in the universe ruled by Old Navy. Which is, uh, not this one.
2. The stage looked exactly the same as when I played on it. (Two years in the Youth Symphony. Wow, back in the day.)
3. If you have a seat near the end of the aisle, don't sit down until right before the concert. Because the people who haves seats in the middle will enter and leave the row repeatedly. And you will want to accidentally/on purpose trip them EVERY TIME.
4. I totally need to marry a concert pianist. Because we could have two pianos and play duets and stuff. Apparently that's what I'm looking for in a relationship--musicality.
5. During intermission, I somehow forwarded AIM to my phone without realizing it. For someone as smart as I am, knowledge of my new cell phone is like my short term memory: non-existent.
6. [insert technical musician-y ravings about the piano soloist's use of pedal and other crap that no one else cares about]
7. The vocal soloist took a week off Broadway to come to Milwaukee for the Gershwin concerts. We all felt sorry for her. And hoped that she wouldn't get shot while she was here. Because a bullet wound is not exactly the kind of souvenir most people look for.

So it was good times. And it didn't totally discourage me from trying to learn Rhapsody in Blue. I mean, I know it's probably not gonna happen, but I think I can at least make it passable. Yep, good times.