Friday, September 30, 2011

Rock 'n roll fantasy (or something)

Some of the happiest moments of my life have come while playing music. I was never a particularly good musician, but for the few years I was the drummer in a garage band with some friends (back in the '90s) I could at least keep a beat. I was never motivated enough to devote the time it would take to be really good at it, but it was about having fun, not about being able to quit our day jobs. Also, lugging a full drum kit to gigs is a pain.

That doesn't stop me from having little fantasies about having a band where I'd be good enough and motivated enough, typically while I'm brushing my teeth. Nothing makes songs pop to mind like being at the bathroom sink with that toothbrush in my mouth.

Let's not dwell on that statement.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

R.E.M.'s fall did not fall on me

R.E.M. broke up last week, and I must admit I wasn't that dismayed by the news. Don't get me wrong—I do like much of the music produced by those guys from Athens, Ga.; I owned all of their albums up through 2001's ho-hum Reveal; I saw them in concert back in the late '90s at what I recall was a good show. However, if I'm being brutally frank, to my ears their best days had passed them by.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Preparing for the future direction of the U.S.

We cannot get our country moving in the right direction because: a) we cannot agree on what the right direction is, and b) a lot of people in power are willing to ruin everything as long as it thwarts what the other side supports.

Stock up on canned goods and fresh water, ladies and gentlemen, and get a "Mandarin for Dummies" book to read in your basement or bomb shelter. You'll need to be able to converse with who's around when you emerge.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Maui: The photos conclude

A few weeks ago I directed your attention to pictures from our recent Maui trip over on the photo site. I've posted a few more now, but it occurs to me that between the previous mention and this one some other posts went up without notice, so just for the record, if you click over you can see photos like...
Ohe'o Gulch
Banyan tree on Pipiwai Trail
Bamboo forest (also on Pipiwai Trail)
This butterfly.
Waimoku Falls
Over on West Maui, Nakalele Blowhole
Offshore on South Maui, a waterproof camera got shots of this giant sea turtle.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Not paying close attention to the news...

So, this week, Netflix announced it's splitting into two companies and that brought down a satellite. Also, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was discontinued by the U.S. Armed Forces, inspiring Facebook to continue their policy of not asking whether people want change and not telling people when they're going to change. And the president's job's plan killed off Charlie Sheen's character on Two and a Half Men.

That's what happened, right? 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How I stick with How I Met Your Mother

Note: This post is recommended for fans of How I Met Your Mother. But if not and you have some time on your hands, I certainly encourage you to read on anyway.

On the latest Talking TV podcast* they discussed the state of How I Met Your Mother. Contributor Maureen Ryan recently wrote a piece over on her AOL TV blog about the show, and her "trust issues" with it given the way the show keeps putting energy into the played-out "mystery" of the identity of the eponymous mother, and now how the show is creating a sub-mystery by flash-forwarding to Barney's wedding but not revealing who he's marrying. (It's going to be Robin, by the way, but let's not digress to that.) It strikes her as a contrivance that was interesting in earlier seasons but now is merely annoying; I fully concur the strength of the show is the characters, not the framing of the narrative, and any focus on the latter can result in taking away from the former.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Surviving Contagion in the theater

They've seen how this post ends.
Over the weekend we did something we haven't done in a while: saw a movie in the theater. It wasn't so much that we had an overwhelming desire to see something that's out at the moment; we had some passes (so it wouldn't cost anything) and that vague sense of missing the experience of going to see something on the big screen—something that years ago we did with regularity. Perhaps it's some subtle nostalgia for an era in our lives when we weren't so busy, for when going to the local Cineplex every other weekend seemed feasible. In any case, it worked out that this past Saturday we considered ourselves to have those hours to spare.

That didn't necessarily coincide with the availability of a film about which at least I was excited to see, and as my wife had some interest in Contagion (and I didn't object) that's for what we exchanged our passes for tickets. (The other one of mild interest: Drive, with Ryan Gosling.)

The movie came out a week earlier, and was (at least in my little realm of what I pay attention to) a significant topic of conversation last week. A couple of the pop culture podcasts to which I listen (Culture Gabfest, Extra Hot Great) discussed it, replete with disclaimers about spoilers. I listened nonetheless, not realizing at the time I'd be seeing the film in a matter of days. But the thing about Contagion: There is no spoiling it. That's not saying it's a worthless waste of time; it's merely a movie where you can know exactly what's going to happen and your enjoyment (or lack thereof) will be the same as if you went in knowing nothing.

Of course, knowing nothing is not realistic; these days if you see a movie you probably saw at least trailers for it ahead of time. It's so unlikely that one wouldn't have at least a modicum of expectations from what one saw on billboards or ads on TV prior to getting in the theater.

And with this film in particular, there's no big secret that could be revealed that would spoil it. I'd argue that if you know what you're getting better than what you'd get from those trailers, you're better off.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Too up for Up All Night

I know someone who, due to her job, sees the pilots for new shows well before the fall season starts, and thus the first episodes of those shows she watches to see whether they left the pilots intact or reshot them in the interim. I watch going in having heard her assessments to color my expectations.

Wednesday night NBC premiered Up All Night, a comedy that she liked from what she'd seen in the preliminary version of the pilot. However, the episode that aired was significantly changed from that original she'd seen, and even partway through she commented, "It's not as funny." I found myself less than impressed—it wasn't horrible, but it wasn't something that made me pay full attention after the first five minutes (so the remainder of the episode it was competing with the laptop). It was something of a letdown.

The show after it, Free Agents, looked hideous from the previews I'd seen, and from the preliminary pilot she saw a while ago that was her take as well. That I started watching only because I didn't change the channel, and it proved to be about what I expected (which was not much). And thus that show was not as much of a disappointment, and in a way, I find myself feeling a little softer toward Free Agents than toward Up All Night, even though clearly it was worse. I doubt either will end up making it into my list of shows I look forward to from week to week, but the latter (by virtue of having less of a high bar) presents me with less disinclination to watch it if I'm really bored on a Wednesday night.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11 from the vantage point of 9/12

Hey, apparently yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. How did I not hear about that? You'd think the media would make a big deal of it…


Our internet connection was out much of last week, and that may have been somewhat fortuitous, as it prevented me from posting any thoughts during those days leading up to the big event. I assure you: That was for the best.

Even after getting our connection issue resolved Saturday morning, I intentionally did not post anything over the weekend. While I understand the impulse to reflect on September 11, 2001 and what one was doing that day, and those who wish to share their experiences are more than welcome to do so, the reality is I have no interesting story about that day; they closed the building before I got to work, and so I turned around and rode the train back home, then watched CNN all day with a friend. Even I cannot muster any justification for boring anyone with blathering on about that (and given some of what I've posted, that's saying something).

Monday, September 05, 2011

Maui: The photos commence

Over on the photo site I've started posting pictures from the recent Maui vacation, including sites such as:
Honomanu Bay
Wai'anapanapa Park


(More coming soon.)

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Chopped at the Panda Express

If you have ever been to the Chinese ("Chinese") fast food restaurant Panda Express and seen the chopsticks next to the forks, napkins and soy sauce packets and found yourself wondering, Who uses those to eat at freakin' Panda Express?, I have found such a person.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Little League: the last time everybody wins

On one of the sports shows this morning they debated (which is to say that two guys sat and offered their particular opinions) about whether they were more excited about the start of the college football season or the NFL season. The one who grew up in Queens, with two pro teams nearby, not surprisingly favored the NFL, where he also noted that the inclusion of pre-season gets the teams better ready for their first game; the early college games (which have already started) tend to be ridiculous blow-outs where good teams tend to schedule markedly weak opponents as essential warm-ups. The other panelist, having grown up in Oklahoma, had an affinity for the college side.

But all seemed to agree that going to a big college game was a better experience, because the way people feel about their alma mater cannot be matched by the emotion toward a group of overpaid professional athletes.

Not that the major college programs are much purer than the pros, of course.

This got me thinking about the recent Little League World Series—where the final game is literally between the best U.S. team and the best international team, making it more of a "world" series than the series that decides the MLB champion each autumn. We did watch much of the title game between the U.S. representative, from California, and the team from Japan.