September 28, 2007

September 28, 2007

TV Shows I Love: #1 – 30 Rock

I’m scared for 30 Rock. I’m afraid it’s too smart. Too funny. Too fast. It absolutely has the highest laughs-per-minute ratio of anything airing right now.

I’ve already blogged about how much I love this show. Should you need more convincing, 30 Rock won the Emmy for Best Comedy. Still not enough? It stars Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey. More? Jerry Seinfeld guests on next week’s season premiere. And, really, if all of that isn’t doing it for you, I’d suggest taking a long, hard look in the mirror.

30 Rock premieres October 4 and airs Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c on NBC.

My Thoughts on Last Night's "The Office"

I took notes on last night's series premiere with the intention of transcribing them into a coherent and witty summary of the episode. After looking over them, though, I think they might best be enjoyed in their original, unaltered state (you can click to enlarge). I'm sorry the handwriting is so bad; I was barely keeping up. Also, enjoy the doodles. Not sure why I felt like drawing a house and tree; though I enjoy my happy Toby face and pizza. (For an actual professionally-written summary, click here.)

Sadly, I went on to a second page (hey, it was an entire hour):

So that's what I thought. What about you?

September 27, 2007

September 27, 2007

To My Power Company, After a 3-Hour Outage

Dear We Energies,

Aw you know, 22,000 customers on Milwaukee’s far south side (what I would call my “hood,” if I had a modicum of street cred) experienced a power outage last night. Thankfully, most of said outage occurred before the prime time hours. As it was, Top Model had already started panel by the time I was able to tune in, though I was able to catch Dirty Sexy Money in its entirety. And listening to Back to You while walking in the moonlight was definitely different.

But I digress. You see, We Energies, the official cause of the outage was attributed to some sort of transformer failure. Yet the weather yesterday was perfect. And the outage lasted over 3 hours. I can only conclude that your technicians were attempting to while away the hours, perhaps by flinging objects at the transformer.

Unfortunately, they picked a bad day to screw around. We Energies, last night was known by some (and by “some,” I mean “me”) as Office Eve. Lest you be confused, that is no tribute white-collar peons everywhere. It has rather to do with the fact that three of my favorite television shows, including one The Office, premieres tonight. This is an event I have been anticipating for weeks. There will be pizza involved. And Jim Halpert.

In short, this is no time to be testing the infrastructure. The quality of my evenings between 7 and 10 is depending on it.


TV Shows I Love: #2 – The Office

I recently watched the British version of The Office. It was amazing, and yet made me realize that the American version is the rare homage that actually improves on the original. The show itself is pretty omnipresent in the cultural zeitgeist, so you probably have some idea of what it’s about: the daily workings of a paper-selling company set in Scranton. Totally screams hilarity, I know.

No, it’s really about the characters. And the fact that we all know these types in real life. The clueless boss. The power-tripping underling. The adorable slacker. The put-upon receptionist. In my office alone, I have a Michael, a Stanley, and a Phyllis. (As we all know, what I really want is a Jim. But I digress.)

The Office is about awkward humor. It’s in no way a typical sitcom. There’s no studio audience or laugh track. More often than not, you’re simultaneously cringing and laughing. The laughs-per-minute ratio, though, is probably the second-best of all current tv shows (see tomorrow’s blog entry for #1). The brilliant Steve Carell somehow makes you feel sorry for his idiot character while shaking your head at his lunacy.

The Office’s fandom is scary. There’s a convention in Scranton this October completely of, by, and for the fans. It sold something like $50,000 in tickets the first day online sales opened. I myself have a small Office shrine in the corner of my cubicle, mostly featuring items from Target’s dollar bins. (It’s a convergence of cheapness and television—two altars at which I worship.)

I can’t imagine that you’ve not seen at least one episode of this show. I think half of YouTube is Jam videos. But in the odd case you haven’t, and you’re not one of the ones I’ve made a personal plea to, please consider this your invitation to join the world of Dunder-Mifflin.

The Office premieres TONIGHT and airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.

September 26, 2007

September 26, 2007

TV Shows I Love: #3 – Heroes

There are plenty of reasons for me not to like Heroes. I’m a girl. I own exactly zero comic books. The one superpower I covet (telekinesis) is rather boring.

Luckily, this show has a lot more going for it than against. The basic premise, in case you are living under a rock and/or not a TV Guide subscriber, is that some people, all over the world, have evolved superpowers. Whether this is through natural or artificial means is currently unclear. There’s a cheerleader who can regenerate. A politician who can fly. An office geek who can freeze time. You know, your typical X-Men kind of stuff. The ensemble cast is great, and I’m a sucker for great ensembles (see: The Office, Lost).

The first season introduced us to the characters and slowly gathered them together to fight Sylar, the superpowered baddie. Along the way, we found out there’s much more going on, including a sinister company sinisterly tracking the Heroes for sinister purposes. The current season promises to follow the now far-flung Heroes as well as reveal a previous generation of mutants.

The geek quotient is pretty high, so you may want to acclimate yourself by playing some video games, doing a little calculus, or reading anything featuring hobbits. Then dive into season 1 on DVD and see what you think.

Heroes premiered on September 24 and airs Mondays at 9/8c on NBC.

September 25, 2007

September 25, 2007

Thoughts on Last Night's "Heroes"

Sadly, my lack of self-control and an abundance of spoilers meant nothing in "Chapter 1" surprised me. I actually swore at my TV Guide yesterday when it revealed the big death. (The magazine did not swear back, in case you were wondering.)

Things that I liked, in ascending order:
3. Hiro bowing to the frozen-in-time Kensei. I didn't think Hiro could get any more adorable. Then they turned him into a rabid fanboy.
2. Any scene with Parkman. When did he turn all "Bad Boys"? And how cute was he with Molly?
1. West. Smart alecky...vaguely Jewish...entirely too verbose...I believe I've found Seth Cohen's replacement for my age-inappropriate boy crush.

Also, what was that thing with Nathan and the mirror? I thought I'd flipped to Phantom of the Opera there for a minute.

TV Shows I Love: #4 – Lost

On the most superficial level, Lost is about the social dynamic of a set of attractive people marooned on a desert island that looks suspiciously like Hawaii. It’s like Ultimate Survivor without the smarmy host. (Sorry, Probst. You jumped the shark.) There’s the all-American doctor, the cocky Southern outlaw, the strung-out rock star, the comedic fat guy, etc. A yearbook of stereotypes. It doesn’t sound like much, but it got enough of us to watch the pilot back in fall 2004.

But then…oh, but then. Then we learned about the Numbers. I’m not good with numbers. They confuse me. Sometimes I think they’re evil. Lost has numbers that actually are evil, though: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42. And those numbers are just the tip of the iceberg of mysteries that form the narrative core of this show. Terms like “Dharma Initiative,” “the Others,” and “Widmore Industries” hint at industrial and/or scientific scheming. A strange smoky monster kills people at random (or is it?). The island itself may have healing properties. Dead people come back to life. People who should be nowhere near the island show up.

If you’re not a fan of mysteries, or pretty people, or sand, watch for the soundtrack. The music for each episode is composed fresh and recorded by a house orchestra. From sweeping strings to meditative piano, the music is amazing. I know. I play instruments. Really well.

The producers have already told us there will be only 48 more episodes, so there’s a definitive endgame. It’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon; though I’d recommend watching the previous seasons first to acquaint yourself with the characters. And the numbers.

Lost premieres in spring 2008 and airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on ABC.

September 24, 2007

September 24, 2007

TV Shows I Love: #5 – My Name Is Earl

The premise is simple: guy learns about karma, makes a list of bad things he’s done, and tries to right the wrongs, one at a time.

The main character is lovable: Scruffy, flannel shirts, porn-star mustache, work boots. Vaguely southern accent. Devoted younger brother.

The execution is magnificent. Earl’s a loser, in every sense of the word. But you root for him, because he’s doing his best to make amends. Even when he’s being chased by a one-legged woman. Or repeatedly stung by bees. This show turns from sentimental (but never sappy) to hilarious without warning. It’s both sweet and amusing. Like flavored oatmeal.

And lest you think it’s just a man with a list, don’t forget about his crazy ex-wife (played by the Emmy-winning Jaime Pressly), her current husband, “Crabman,” the maid at the motel where Earl and his brother live, Patty the Daytime Hooker, and the afore-mentioned one-legged woman, among many others.

And there’s something comforting about watching a show and knowing you’re smarter than every single character.

My Name Is Earl premieres September 27 and airs Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC.

September 22, 2007

September 22, 2007

TV Shows I Love: #6 – CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

I’m not gonna lie: CSI is probably best watched on an empty stomach. It’s gross. It’s gory. There are occasionally limbs flying hither and yon during the crime solving, as if Michael Bay had decided to make a Sherlock Holmes movie. That’s not why I watch. I watch for the team. And the science. And the Vegas

The team is led by Gil Grissom, who makes his fascination with bugs seem almost cool. (Yeah, “almost,” because I’m a girl and bugs are gross.) He’s freakishly and intensely smart; the kind of guy with whom you play chess or debate the social mores of Victorian England. The second in command, Catherine Willows, counters Grissom’s coolness with angst and family drama (she’s like a little Dawson’s Creek all in one person). And an alarming amount of cleavage. The rest of the team, as well as the beloved yet maligned lab techs, add your typical office personalities (Nick, the charming frat boy! Sara, the ambitious overachiever!) to the mix.

The science puts Bill Nye to shame. I think watching this show makes you smarter by default. You got your weird diseases. And your odd natural phenomena. Last season gave us the “Miniature Killer,” who took crafting to a sinister yet fascinating level. (I believe that may have been the first time in history the words “crafting,” “sinister,” and “fascinating” were used in the same sentence.)

Sure, CSI: Miami is sexier. CSI: New York is grittier. But the original has Vegas. And if there’s one thing I know about Vegas, it’s [statement removed for legal reasons].

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation premieres September 27 and airs Thursdays at 9/8c on CBS.

September 21, 2007

September 21, 2007

TV Shows I Love: #7 – 24

Of the shows I’ve written about so far, 24 is probably the first that most people have heard of and many watch. You know about the real-time concept. You know about the conservative leanings. You know about the product placement (that means you, GMC).

But do you know about Jack Bauer?

Okay, you might argue that no one can ever really know Jack Bauer. Because, seriously, they’d probably end up dead. However, after the scene last season featuring Jack hanging off a freaking helicopter as it flew away from a flaming oil platform, I realized I want him as my In Case of Emergency person. (Unfortunately for me, I don’t have his phone number. And also, he is fictional.)

Jack Bauer has killed a man with a pen. A PEN. What have you done with pens lately? Jack Bauer can remotely fly a drone without any practice. I can’t even make macaroni and cheese without practice. Best of all, Jack Bauer can go 24 hours without eating, sleeping, or using the bathroom. He is hard core, my friends.

The only bad part of 24 is the wait. ‘Tis many moons before I again shall hear that ticking clock.

24 premieres in spring 2008 and airs Mondays at 9/8c on FOX.

September 20, 2007

September 20, 2007

TV Shows I Love: #8 – America’s Next Top Model

I feel a little bad about being an ANTM fan. Yes, it's on The CW. And it's very superficial and trashy. In my defense, it’s the only reality show I watch. And I learn a lot about fashion. Also, host Tyra Banks (hereafter referred to as “Miss Tyra”) exhibits increasing amounts of drama and eye makeup with each passing year.

I should perhaps summarize a typical season (or “cycle,” as Miss Tyra calls them):
Auditions. We get introduced to such typical contestant types as the ex-pageant girl (often from a southern state), the serious fashion student (usually with smart-girl glasses), and the barely-above-poverty single mother. Once they’re all in the hotel, it’s like college orientation, but with hair weaves and attitude.
First photo shoot. After the 12 (14? 13? it changes every year) contestants have been selected (and lots of crying), the girls have their first photo shoot. The trend in recent seasons has been towards baptism by fire. So we’ve seen nude shoots, outdoor bikini shoots in December, etc. At least one girl will break down. She is very likely, however, to pull it together long enough for a stunning photo.
Makeovers. Possibly my favorite episode of the season, because for every girl who responds with “Oh, you want to cut my hair and dye it red? Cool!” there are two girls who will turn into blathering idiots at the thought of changing their “signature look.”
The trip. When only 4 or 5 contestants remain, Miss Tyra flies them all to a fashion capital. We’ve been to Paris, and Milan, and Tokyo, and London, among other places. You think models have trouble navigating America? Plop them in Tokyo with a map and cab fare. *evil laugh*
Final runway. The last 2 contestants face off in a runway show. There will be at least one fall. As well as a wardrobe malfunction. Sometimes both at once.

In all seriousness, you do learn a lot about the fashion industry watching this show. And the judges (Twiggy—so charming! Nigel—also charming!) are a convivial lot.

As Miss Tyra would say, it’s fierce.

ANTM premiered September 19 and airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

September 19, 2007

September 19, 2007

TV Shows I Love: #9 – NCIS

NCIS is CSI: Lite. Diet CSI, if you will. There’s a lot more banter and a lot less severed limbs. Don’t get me wrong; I love CSI (it’s much higher on the list). But sometimes it’s nice to cleanse the palate. (I was going to make some sort of cheese metaphor here but decided against it on the rewrite.)

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is an actual federal agency, so there’s all kinds of great inside-the-beltway jurisdictional wrangling. Even my mom laughs at the anti-FBI stuff, and she works for them. Plus, NCIS investigates military crimes, so men in uniform are always showing up. This is never a bad thing. Ever.

I’m pretty sure I read once that the average age of an NCIS viewer is approximately 60. That’s right: 60. I suspect many of those are women enamored of Mark Harmon. I can (pretend to) see that; having been born after the Cold War, I prefer Michael Weatherly. (Fun fact: he was once engaged to Jessica Alba. Not so fun fact: it didn’t work out.)

Come on, how many shows provide eye candy for both you AND your grandmother?

NCIS premieres September 25 and airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS.

September 18, 2007

September 18, 2007

TV Shows I Love: #10 – Everybody Hates Chris

Ironically, I started watching Everybody Hates Chris because of a magazine. As a “loyal Entertainment Weekly subscriber,” I got the pilots of Chris and How I Met Your Mother mailed to me. Totally randomly. But I’m not one to look a gift DVD in the mouth. (Note to self: that metaphor works better with horses.)

Everybody Hates Chris is like my new Malcolm in the Middle. But set in 1982 Brooklyn. Honestly, the retro time setting makes it better. The clothes…the music…the furniture…just the whole attitude. It’s loosely based on creator Chris Rock’s childhood, so there’s that whole “this really happened?” thing going on, too.

Plus it’s one of the very few shows I can watch with my parents with a minimum of awkwardness. (I believe any 4 minutes of The O.C. would probably have done them in.)

Everybody Hates Chris premieres October 1 and airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.

September 17, 2007

September 17, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s finally Fall, my favorite time of year. I love Fall for three reasons (in ascending importance): the weather’s fantastic, my birthday’s coming up, and the new television season is starting. That’s right. You know it’s all about the shows.

So, for my own amusement (like any part of this isn't, I know), I’m going to present an apologetic for the shows I watch regularly. Because, really, this blog is nothing if not a public service. I should start doing weather and sports. Maybe get a sock puppet.

Anyway, before I start a series on something as near and dear to my heart, though, I should point out a few things:

-I will only include shows currently airing. Sadly, I watch enough tv that I can fill a list just with stuff I follow faithfully at the current time.

-I will not include anything on cable. I refuse to pay for television because it’s un-American. And because I’m cheap. It’s probably more for the second reason, actually.

-I will not include anything on PBS. I’m a big fan of PBS; I seriously believe that most of my intelligence is due to the fact that my very early formative years were spent watching college-level educational programming on PBS. You really can’t get too early a start on algebra. And any time Mr. Rogers showed us how something was made, I was transfixed. Pink erasers, I knew ye well.

So please, sit back, grab a Diet Coke, and enjoy. Maybe you’ll even get inspired.

(If you’re one of my friends who doesn’t even own a tv, you should probably take the next couple of weeks off. And, also, why are we friends, again?)

September 15, 2007

September 15, 2007

My Emmy Picks

The Primetime Emmys, my third favorite awards show, are tomorrow night. I’ve got my ballot printed and a vague idea for snacks (I’m thinking French bread pizza). Now I just need to find the replica Oscar I bought from Suncoast eons ago; I like to pretend it’s good luck for my nominees, who this year are:

Drama Series: Heroes
Actor, Drama Series: Kiefer Sutherland, 24
Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Michael Emerson, Lost
Comedy Series: 30 Rock
Actor, Comedy Series: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Actress, Comedy Series: Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Rainn Wilson, The Office
Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Jenna Fischer, The Office
Reality Show: Antiques Roadshow
Variety, Music, or Comedy Series: Late Show with David Letterman

There are several categories (like Miniseries) in which I have no favorite. Yes, even I have limits.

September 14, 2007

September 14, 2007

Charity Begins at Home

I caught a new-to-me repeat of Peyton Manning's SNL episode last Saturday. My favorite sketch was "ESPN's NCAA Tournament Pool Party," in which Amy Poehler played a chick who defends her bracket picks with statements like "I don't like orange" and "Bulldogs are cute!" I have a similarly non-scientific method. For example, I choose Gonzaga in the first round because I like saying “Gonzaga” (got that tip from my friend Julie) and Maryland in the first two rounds because I think the word “terps” is hilarious.

Alas, I couldn't find video of that sketch (shame on YouTube), so here's another good sketch. It involves Peyton Manning throwing footballs and swearing at kids.

September 13, 2007

September 13, 2007

To My Favorite NASCAR Driver

Dear Jeff Gordon,

So the chase field is set, and you’re in the commendable second position. “Front row, outside,” as we might say. Well done, getting all those bonus points for victories. That #24 Dupont Chevrolet team really knows its stuff, huh? But I think you and I both know it’s time to step up your game. These top 5 finishes have been great and everything, but they won’t get you the shiny trophy.

You see, Jeff, your winning the championship is really the only way I can justify my continuing NASCAR fanship to myself. I’m well-educated. I wear shoes. I have all my teeth. In other words, I’m not the typical fan. I have no use in daily life for the terms “aero push,” “tight off the corner,” or “dropped a left rear.”

Neither am I sure why I picked you as my favorite driver (no offense). I mean, you sponsor is DuPont. I don’t even know what they do—something with Teflon? Not exactly sexy, is it? You don’t do victory backflips like Carl Edwards, or have the piercing blue eyes of Kasey Kahne. Jeff, in the ice cream freezer of drivers, you’re vanilla. (And not the fun vanilla, with flecks of bean in it. Just the regular one.) But I love you anyway. Because you got skills.

So I’d appreciate it if you could finally get serious about that “Drive for Five” thing for both our sakes.


P.S. - Loved you on Letterman last night. Your delivery was a bit rushed, but #2 is always tricky.

September 12, 2007

September 12, 2007

An Orgy of Office Goods (or, A Surplus of Schrute)

I found out from OfficeTally yesterday that Target has a variety of Office-related goods for only $1. And it’s not just crap, either. Well, some of it is. But there’s good stuff, too. I tried to spread the word as best I could, and had people in several states heading for their local stores.

After consulting with my friend Amanda, I went to the store closest to my house. Unfortunately for me, I only knew where it was in theory. So I turned too soon and found myself on a back road heading towards what I thought was the store. Then I saw the “No Outlet” sign and realized I’d been the victim of a Target mirage.

I finally got into the store itself and was sorely disappointed. The completely-empty bins labeled “Office Memo Cube $1” and “Office Notepad $1” just about broke my heart. All that remained were some stress balls and coffee mugs. So I bought two “I (heart) Jim” ones and a “World’s Best Boss” one. But I wasn’t going to give up this easily. One store? What if FDR had stopped after one term? If Chanel had stopped after No. 1? If they’d given up after Preparation A?

Unfortunately, I had an even vaguer idea of where store number 2 was located. It also happened to be in a semi-shady part of town (ironically, the neighborhood in which I spent my first 9 years, now turned trashy). These difficulties aside, I was rewarded with a better selection of goods, including magnets (purchased: 3 sets), list pads (1), magnetic notepads (4), and mousepad/notepads (4). I guess white trash doesn’t go for The Office. Shocking. They do go for $180 in baby clothes and paper towels, though, if the woman who checked out before me was any indication.

So, I’m curious: what did you get? Will you go back? Try other stores?

September 11, 2007

September 11, 2007

Go, Pack, Go

This is the first of two sports-related posts I'll be making this week. Disturbing trend? Sinister priority shift? Who can tell?

Wisconsin’s proliferation of churches, temples, and other houses of worship aside, Sunday from September to December are about one thing: the Green Bay Packers. Most people here don’t mind dedicating a little time to a higher power, as long as there’s still time for a brat or two before the coin flip.

I watch the games, yeah. Though, to be fair, I actually flip between the Packers and the NASCAR race while the seasons coincide. (Never underestimate the lure of men driving really fast.) And while I’m not as ardent a fan as some (I own nothing made of foam cheese), I love the Packers and think you should, too. Why? Because we have the Ironman of quarterbacks. Sure, Tom Brady is cuter. Peyton Manning has more endorsements. But Brett Favre has been starting at quarterback since I was in the third grade. That’s just insane.

Thus season tickets are passed down through wills from one generation to the next. A disturbing amount of green and gold body paint is sold. Cheese evolves from food to apparel. And the eyes of a hopeful Packer nation once again turn to one man.

Game on.

September 10, 2007

September 10, 2007

In My Opinion: 3:10 to Yuma

While I’m pretty ardently against chick flicks, I’m not necessarily a great admirer of guy movies, either. All the abs in 300 couldn’t draw me to it. I pass on war films. And just about anything with Bruce Willis in it.

So I was just as surprised as anybody at how much I liked 3:10 to Yuma. As soon as I saw the blurb in my (random name check alert!) Entertainment Weekly Fall Movie Preview, I was on board. I mean, you’ve got Christian Bale and Russell Crowe in period clothing shooting things. Yes, please.

For those of you looking for a review not accompanied by girlish squeals:

The Plot. Christian Bale plays a Civil War veteran turned family man in desperate need of cash to keep the farm afloat. He agrees to put his sharpshooting skills to good use transporting a noted outlaw (played by Russell Crowe) to the town of Contention for $200. In Contention, Crowe’s outlaw will be put on the 3:10 train to Yuma prison. Hence the title.

And while I guess this would be categorized as a western, I prefer to think of it as a psychological thriller set in the West. You got all the horses and the guns, but also great mind games.

The Cast. Amazing. You knew Bale and Crowe were going to bring the goods—I think I’d even enjoy my finance classes if I could get either of them to read me the textbook. But the supporting parts were also well-cast, including a small roles by Luke Wilson (love those Wilson boys) and Alan Tudyk (Wash! From Firefly!).

The Action. I have a weakness for explosions, and I was fortunate enough to get a couple. And there was of course a lot of shooting. And also, many violent deaths. So if you can’t handle gaping chest wounds, copious bleeding, or point blank executions, you may want to hit whatever Anne Hathaway's in these days instead.

The Cinematography. Yes, it’s set in the arid West. But you’d be surprised what they can do with blue and brown these days. Almost too many claustrophobic close-ups, but that probably goes along with the whole psychological thriller thing. And, of course, they were mostly of Christian Bale and Russell Crowe. So it’s all good.

I very rarely see something the first weekend out. I hate badly-behaved movie patrons THAT much (oh, the stories I could tell). But this was completely worth it.

Check it out. There's a Gatling gun.

September 8, 2007

September 8, 2007

In My Opinion: The Bourne Ultimatum

The things I loved about The Bourne Ultimatum can really be divided into two categories:

1. Matt Damon
2. The Other Stuff

The Other Stuff involves exotic locales, tense action sequences, cool espionage, and whatnot. But enough about that; let’s talk about my boy.

How amazing was Matt Damon in this? And while I loved all the fighting and biking and jumping through windows, my favorite scene actually just involved talking. It’s the one in which he’s directing Simon Ross around the train station. Because yes, Jason Bourne is a man of action, with incredible training and skill. But he’s also wicked smart, and his instincts are dead-on.

Though, the whole jumping-through-windows thing? Not too shabby.

September 7, 2007

September 7, 2007

In My Opinion: Evan Almighty

Going into this movie, I was not at all on board (no pun intended). A PG almost always turns me off, and I never saw Bruce Almighty. The one thing it had going for it was Steve Carell, whom I shall always see as Dunder-Mifflin’s best Regional Manager.

I started watching, though, and absolutely loved what I saw. The Washington, D.C. stuff drew me in immediately, of course. The animals were good without being too intrusive (though the scene with the birds in the office toed the line a little). And the sacrilege was manageable (totally called the gopher wood thing, btw).

And let me again state for the record that Steve Carell cracks me up, whether or not he’s shilling paper.

"I now issue a new commandment: Thou shalt do the dance."

"I love you!...I mean, I think we should hang out socially...I have a new ping pong table."

September 6, 2007

September 6, 2007

In My Opinion: Crash

I should start by pointing out that I live in one of the most segregated cities in America. There have been actual studies. But despite not having to deal with them every day, I know that race issues are what most would call a Big Deal. But how do you fix race relations? Are they even fixable?

Serious, I know. I like to occasionally throw in a thought-provoking movie among my elves and explosions, so I recently watched Crash. I liked it a lot, though it made me really uncomfortable. And I think that’s probably why I liked it; these kinds of issues, presented realistically, should make you a little uneasy.

When it comes right down to it, I think everyone’s a little racist. Whether it’s human nature, or the result of millennia of conditioning, we tend to gravitate towards people like us. But just because someone’s a little (or a lot) racist doesn’t make him or her a bad person. Look at Matt Dillon’s police officer. Yeah, he blatantly violated the woman at the traffic stop. But he later on also heroically saves her life while risking his own. Sandra Bullock’s character treats her maid like trash, but ends up realizing she’s got no better friend.

It’s a complicated movie, yes. But sometimes it’s good to think on these things.

September 5, 2007

September 5, 2007

Pissarro: Catch It While You Can

Allow me to be pretentious and arty for a moment.

If you’re anywhere near Milwaukee and haven’t seen the Pissarro exhibit at the Art Museum, please go. Now. It ends on Sunday, and it’s really good. I’ve written about it here, when it first opened and I attended the preview night.

In case you’re like my dad, who confused Picasso and Pissarro (hard to believe we’re related, but that’s how it goes sometimes), allow me to enlighten you. Camille Pissarro is considered by some to Father of Impressionism. And while I’m more a fan of Monet (as anyone who’s seen my dorm room, bedroom, or cubicle can attest), I can’t deny that Pisarro’s got style. This is my favorite painting of the exhibition:

A great use of light and color, immediately evocative of the scene, and even more impressive in person. We’ve got a lot of woods in Wisconsin, so I can relate. Seriously, the state’s, like, 80% trees. Anyway, that’s just one of about 40 paintings in the show. And a lot of them are similarly gorgeous landscapes.

I’ve already gone twice and am going one last time tomorrow after work. Shall I expect to see you there?

September 4, 2007

September 4, 2007

The Good Old Days

I got my Patron Guide to the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre’s new season last week. I love that because I’ve gone to the Rep twice in my life, I’m considered a Patron. I want to get little cards printed up with my name and the word “Patron.” How confusing would that be?

Anyway, the guide contains information about hotels near the theatre complex, for people coming from out of town or whatnot. (Which, if you’re anywhere nearby, you should think about—the upcoming season’s got some good stuff in it). One of the hotels discussed is called Hotel Metro, described thus:

Walk through the doors of Hotel Metro and return to an era where the Spirit of Hospitality thrived. Additional amenities: fitness equipment in suites, CD player/CDs in suites, mini bars, some suites with fireplace and Internet access in suites.

I’m not even gonna touch that last phrase; I’ll assume the proofreader, um, died before finishing. No, what I found amusing was the evidence proffered of that old-fashioned “Spirit of Hospitality.” Because nothing says Days of Yore like Internet, treadmills, and $4 Snickers bars. I’m sure it’s just like walking into a time machine.

September 1, 2007

September 1, 2007

Hallows & Horcruxes (An HP7 Review)

Note to Readers: This entry contains SPOILERS regarding the seventh and final Harry Potter book. Read on at your own risk. Don’t even think about whining if you see something you didn’t want to; blame your own lack of self-control. I gave you enough time.

As I ‘m sure many of you did, I sped through the last Harry Potter book on July 21, spending a little over 7 hours swinging between joy, relief, and horror. Since then, I’ve re-read the whole thing, taken some notes (2 pages, actually; yeah, I’m THAT girl), and tried to organize my thoughts into something cogent.

The theme that stuck out most to me was that of becoming an adult. One by one, Harry’s ties to childhood were severed: he left Privet Drive, Hedwig died, his wand was snapped, etc. We probably should have expected this; Harry came of age in this book, after all.

Also part of becoming an adult: realizing your mentors aren’t always what you thought they were. Remember when you were little, and you thought your parents were the smartest people, like, EVER? Eventually, you wised up. In Book 7, Harry (and by extension, us) found out a LOT about Dumbledore, and it wasn’t all good. Still, Harry on numerous occasions wished he’d taken better advantage of the time he’d had with Dumbledore, and I believe that’s pretty realistic as well.

As I reached the end of my first page of notes, I realized I could categorize them according to an old wedding-related saying. Never one to shy away from quaint and slightly-annoying humor, here are the four components of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that I found most notable:

Something Old. I loved, loved, LOVED the shout-outs to things in past books. Some were pretty obvious, like the visit to old places (e.g. Gringotts) or references to old characters (Umbridge, anyone?). Others, I thought, were a bit more hidden, as when Hermione says, “Are you a wizrd, or what?” to Ron (p. 651). My mind (and maybe I’m the only one) immediately went to Ron’s “ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?” to Hermione when they’re trying to escape the devil’s snare all the way back in Book 1 (which, when you pick it up now, feels rather underweight). I thought Rowling did a great job of tying the series together in this way; I liked remembering things like Sneakoscopes and wingardium leviosa.

Something New. Because this was a story about finishing (your childhood, your mission, the series), we didn’t get too much new material introduced. Still, I thought the Taboo was pretty cool (not just a board game, folks), as was homenium revelio. Fiendfyre struck me as a deus ex machina, though certainly an interesting concept as well.

Something Borrowed. Okay, am I the only one getting eerie parallels between Grindelwald’s regime and the Nazis? Think about it. Both were controlled by a leader that fell around 1945. Both appropriated a symbol that was forevermore tainted (swastikas weren’t always bad). Both had a disturbing concern with genetic makeup. They even both have some sort of salute of greeting (unless that was just me adding a mental “Heil” to Snape and Yaxley’s hand raising on page 2?).

And as creator of this list, I’d be remiss not to mention that the importance of a weighty changed object that drains the wearer and the description of a woman as “beautiful and terrible” made me half-expect a hobbit to show up at some point.

Something Blue. (Okay, this one’s a pun. My bad.) What up with all the people dying, J.K.? Seriously? I count 65 at least. And for the most part these weren’t people no one cares about. You killed Fred. Not okay. You killed Mad-Eye. Not okay. You killed Remus and Tonks. As Uncle Vernon might say, NOT EFFING OKAY. I was quite angry with you, until I finished and saw that not only didn’t you kill Harry, but you also let him end up Happily Ever After. Good move; I may have committed irreparable harm to my book, myself, or both had Harry died.

So it’s over. I was surprisingly okay after I finished, my membership in the Facebook group “After Harry Potter 7 Comes Out, I Won’t Have Anything to Live For” notwithstanding.