Thursday, October 27, 2011

Knowing when to say goodbye (Chuck and the Simpsons)

On the latest Talking TV with Ryan and Ryan podcast, critics Ryan McGee and Mo Ryan discussed the final season of Chuck (which starts Friday night). Both are fans of the show, and were on the one hand pleased to get a fifth season (they'd seen screeners for the first three episodes at time of recording), there was still that extent to which everyone was surprised that NBC had renewed the show at all.

The ratings have never been great, and it's only through fan outpouring that it lasted as long as four seasons. Given the way the fourth season concluded, with resolutions for the major character situations, it seemed pretty clear that the producers figured they needed to wrap it up; there was little interpreting that they expected a fifth season. And as such, the show did a good job of wrapping it up.

Let them go, Chuck fans.
Ryan mentioned how fans have already asked if there was any chance that NBC might extend the season from the 13 episodes that were ordered. At that, McGee admitted he hoped that didn't happen; conceivably the writers came up with an outline for where to take the season, knowing that they had 13 shows and a definite ending, and to reconfigure that to come up with another ending or to pad out the middle ultimately might not be what was best for the show. As he put it, at some point the desire for more episodes (while understandable) becomes merely selfish.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An open letter to Jason Segel

Mr. Segel,
My wife and I are fans of you as an actor. We liked you in Freaks and Geeks. We enjoy you on How I Met Your Mother. We thought you were charming  in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and appreciated the different sort of character you played in I Love You, Man. We are looking forward to your upcoming Muppets feature film and likely will go see it opening weekend. In short, we are on the Segel bandwagon.

For that reason, I must ask that you please exert some discretion in the roles you accept to play. I think we deserve that.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Over the weekend we were at the LA County Museum of Art and in the modern art collection there were a couple of sculptures by Picasso (whose birthday is today).

Of course, when I was looking at them, I couldn't help but think, He never got called an asshole.

I'm so freakin' cultured.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A strawberry from the beginning

Over on the photo site, I've resumed posting some shots from the garden (remember this?), starting with this subject:

In case you don't recognize it, this is the early stage of a strawberry. See what came of it here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Occupied with the Occupying

A couple weeks back I talked about my direct experience with the Occupy L.A. protests, and that topic clearly has only gained more traction in the public consciousness...

Tuesday's The Daily Show includes this genius piece where John Oliver covers the Occupy Wall Street protests and how the protesters that were get the most attention were the freakishly dressed ones rather than the rational-looking ones, and how that undermines the message in the media.
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At the end he sits in a bar with some people of (what we'll call) regular appearance who discuss the topic in a calm manner. They all support the movement, but when Oliver mentions they are the sort who should be the ones down there at the protest getting the attention they all note how they had to get home to the kids, or to work, or just home to watch the Jets game.

And I think: Such is the problem with the 99%: We don't like what's going on with the financial sector or the government, but we have lives and cannot camp out in a park for weeks on end.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I don't pretend to know the solution to the homeless problem. Where I live and, even more so, where I work, I encounter them with some regularity, and typically I address the situation by not having any change on my person as I'm walking, so if I get a panhandler soliciting any "spare change" I can reply honestly that I don't have any change. Consider that a chickenshit technicality if you wish.

I'm not saying that I've never given such a person some coins if I happened to have some in my pocket, however. I am fully aware that doing so is not really doing anything more than enabling their pitiful circumstances and it's rewarding the wrong behavior, but there are moments when it's not easy being the complete asshole it takes to have no empathy for someone who probably slept on a sidewalk the night before, especially when I have those coins jingling in my pocket.

But I'll tell you what makes that easy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reading the past

If I could go back to myself some 20 years ago, I think the one thing I'd try to encourage my college-aged self to do would be to actually read all the books assigned in my university courses, not merely get through them just enough to get the paper written. It seemed okay at the time, especially given that I was working full-time to put myself through school, so I had limited time for reading that wasn't for pleasure, and because I read slowly and couldn't keep up with the pace assigned in most classes, and I always got the gist well enough to get good grades on the papers. I'm not apologizing for that.

It's not so much that I'd necessarily be any better off in my life now, but I'd avoid the minor regret that I didn't make better use of the time in my life when I might have actually read these books.

I mean, it's merely having done what I was supposed to have done; I doubt it would have changed my destiny in any significant way, and thus not thrown off the timeline that led me to where I am. That's what I'd want: to avoid making a change that would significantly alter the likelihood of ending up married to my wife.

Which involves little reading, I should admit.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Considering the tragedy in Seal Beach

Wednesday a heavily armed man went on a shooting spree in a hair salon where his ex-wife worked, killing her and seven others in the shop. What made that more of note for me than other such senseless tragedies was this occurred in Seal Beach, a place I've visited many times (and which would only be a little over a ten-minute drive from where we live), but it wasn't merely a local story; it garnered attention on the national news because of how unimaginably awful it was.

This is the sort of event that unnerves everyone, whether or not one knew any of the victims or was a patron of the salon. There is obvious empathy for those who lost loved ones in what, by all accounts, appears to be the crazed act of a madman. (Early speculation suggests he may have been upset over having to share custody of their 9-year-old son with the ex-wife. Well, he won't have to worry about that anymore, but he also won't have any custody of the son, as undoubtedly he'll be in prison or an institution—perhaps for the rest of his life, or at least well until the son is grown.) But beyond that it's all about putting yourself in that scenario and imagining how horrific it would be.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Welcome to the Occupation

Last Thursday I went to lunch and found myself amidst the protesters who'd assembled in downtown for the "Occupy Los Angeles" event. I didn't realize that was happening before I left the office, but as soon as I noticed the presence of security personnel outside each of the nearby buildings I put together what was happening before I actually saw the protesters.

By the time I was walking back from lunch they'd pretty well taken over a good portion of the Bunker Hill part of downtown, streaming across streets and marching in front of the entrances to buildings with the large letters spelling out "Wells Fargo" and "Bank of America" at the top. They carried signs and chanted "Make banks pay!" as they marched. I don't know how many there were but it was easily hundreds just from what I could see.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Breaking up with 2 Broke Girls

Really, girls--it's over.
It's Monday and I know what I won't be doing tonight: watching any more episodes of the new sitcom 2 Broke Girls. Now that I've given up on the show I must admit it is comforting.

Going in to this fall's TV season I was flummoxed about how Whitney Cummings—a comedian whose act I did not care for—could be involved in creating her eponymous sitcom (which looked hideous) and the aforementioned one (which seemed like it could have potential, although that was mostly due to the actress starring in it, Kat Dennings). The incongruity of this was subconsciously troubling.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Politicians aren't talking to me

I don't think of myself as wildly out of the mainstream in my views but I grasp politicians don't cater to me because my views are somewhat complicated (and perhaps not even such they are ideologically consistent), and not easily wrapped up into an easy demographic picture.

And thus I am a freak on the political landscape.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Waxing non-nostalgically about the future of nostalgia

A recent Chuck Klosterman essay on Grantland touches on nostalgia, with a start that questions why we feel nostalgia (specifically for music) and whether it's really nostalgia for the song or merely for the time in our lives with which we associate a song. Further he suggests that the nostalgic appreciation of a song may be more a matter of repetitive exposure—of having that expertise with the material—than of anything else.

He then talks about how that experience that facilitates this nostalgia is, itself, something for which in the future we'll only be able to feel nostalgia.

Monday, October 03, 2011

The story of Pizza Man and the Train

Friday evening's commute home on the train was cut short by technical problems. While already on the train we heard an announcement that there were issues with the overhead electric lines and at one station short of the halfway point on the line the train would have to stop, and would turn around and go back north to Downtown. Buses would be provided to shuttle passengers down to a station past the problem area.

Having ridden the train for 12 years now this was not the first time I'd run into such a scenario. I knew that there'd be some delay in dispatching buses, and then even after they arrived passengers would cram into them like sardines (and waiting for latter buses would be no better, as more southbound trains would just keep coming and depositing more stranded passengers). So I immediately pulled out my phone and called my wife, with the hope that she was still on the road driving home from her job and that she could swing over and retrieve me.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

English majors in action (perhaps)

If you ever wondered if English majors who end up getting jobs in the software industry ever get to use those multi-syllabic words they fancied in their technical writing, allow me to offer what I saw while installing the drivers for the new Canon printer/scanner/copier we bought recently.

Hovering over the option called "Solution Menu EX" the description of that option displayed at the bottom of the screen.