Archive for the '36 Posts for 36 Months' Category

Post #36 of 36: 2005 TV: The Finishing!

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

We’re done! Woo-hoo!

Man, next year, if I even think the words “48 Posts”, just come shoot me.

Besides, it took me WAY too long to do those … what was it, eight days? Nine?

The old me was would have knocked it out of the park in three.

There were extenuating circumstances, okay?

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Anyway: Here are my areas of interest for 2006:

1. Music
2. Career (see previous post)
3. Video ( ” ” )
4. Continued genealogy/heritage study
5. My blogs

I’ll be specific at some other time, but for now I need to start on #1.

Post #35 of 36: 2005 TV: Career Detour

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

I’ve spent much of the holidays stressing over how often I’ve been having to miss work (though it wasn’t a large total number of days), and how secure my job is, especially with a New Boss in Training and an impending move.

Well, today I got good news … which turns out to have some not-so-good news piggy backing on it.

The told me we’d be having a meeting in which I’d be offered a “new opportunity”. I thought maybe they would be wanting me to do my tech support guy thing full time, seeing as that was 80% of my workload last week.

That was wishful thinking.

The “opportunity” turned out to be heading up a new Documentation Department … except I’d still be doing all my old duties, and I wouldn’t be getting an official title for a while, or supervising any more people, and I’d have to prove myself at it before the pay got better too.

Oh joy.

Now, remember, I don’t mind extra work — I’m a blogger, for Pete’s sake; the work is nonstop.

Last year when I had to produce (i.e., write, direct, film, narrate and edit) some training videos on top of my regular duties, I was ecstatic, even though it was lots of work.

I mean face it, a shot at adding video production to my resume, and it was dropped in my lap like a hot potato, because nobody else had the insight to covet the opportunity.

In a world designed by me, my fellow office drones would get into fistfights over a plum like that.

Except that in that world I wouldn’t be one of those drones.

Anyway: Since I took on that assignment so gleefully, the Higher-Ups apparently see no difference between Video Production and Documentation “Gatekeeping”.

But anyway: Maybe I’m reading too much into it, and maybe it really is a promotion … of sorts … eventually.

And at the very least it’s a motivation.

Post #34 of 36: 2005 TV: The Also-Rans

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

Now that we’ve finished my picks for the top TV of the past year, let’s look at the stuff that almost made the list:

Numb3rs — It breaks my heart to leave this off the list, but the show has stumbled in its second season. For one thing, the crimes are starting to look like they were hobbled together out of various math problem illustrations. Another problem is the writers’ tendency to fall victim to Instant History Syndrome; an prime example was when a foreign VIP was a target for assassination, and suddenly we find out that Math Genius Brother is suddenly an expert on the subject of assassination, based on one consulting assignment he once did with the NSA — and which we’re just finding out about.

Sorry, that just felt too pulled-out-of-a-hat for me. Besides, the whole premise of the show has always been that Charlie is good at only one thing: Advanced Math. He crunches the numbers, and the crime experts make the real-world applications. It ruins the mystique when he suddenly becomes a database on criminal behavior.

Mostly though, I fell out of love with this show when they dumped Sabrina Lloyd and replaced her with some droll, thatch-haired scarecrow. This changed has served to hollow out the heart of the whole series.

Besides, dumping co-stars pretty much never solves a show’s problems, and always create more.

Prison Break — Threshold, Invasion, and Surface get all the attention, but this was the first series to really steal from Lost — that is, to use that show’s technique of bunches of complex characters and an over-arching storyline that keeps peeling away more layers as time goes on.

The character list along is mind-boggling: The wrongly-accused assassin; his super-genius engineer brother, who helped design the prison who got himself sentenced to that same prison to break his sibling out; the feisty female prison doctor (who happens to be the daughter of the governor); the gruff but fair warden (Stacy Keach); the sinister vice president (Patricia Wettig), who arranged the murder of her own brother in order to further her own political and financial ambitions, then pinned it on Engineer’s brother, and who is pushing for his speedy execution to cover up the truth; the two bumbling secret service agents who are helping the V.P. try to keep a lid on the conspiracy, leaving a trail of bodies (including an anti-death-penalty bishop) in their wake; and of course the endless assortment of criminally insane thugs inside the prison who are helping or hindering the planned breakout according to their own agendas.

The main reason I left this series off my list, aside from the fact that it regularly stretches believability past the breaking point, is that we have enough shows (and games and movies and music) these days that are romanticizing prison and pimp culture, until the thug life is starting to seem like the norm, and not the aberration.

Otherwise, it’s a fascinating show, because of all the various plot motivations that ricochet back and forth.

G4TV — A year ago, this video gaming channel would have easily made my list, but lately it’s begun to show signs of heading straight down the drain.

The focus used to be on fun, quirky, self-produced shows that talked about video games and related issues, but in the past few months they’ve been buying the reruns of lots of existing show, like Fastlane and The Man Show, in an apparent attempt, as one message-board writer put it, “to become Maxim Magazine”. Even some of the last few original shows, like the cars-and-strippers group known collectively as The Whip Set, are geared the adolescent male demographic and have almost nothing to do with games or computers.

An even stranger move is that this month the network will begin airing reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation — hardly the only channel to do so, and a move that doesn’t seem like it’s aimed at either the old or new demographic.

What the heck is going on over there??? Whatever it is, expect the channel to be greatly weaked or gone by this time next year.

Joan of Arcadia — Another definite Top 10 in its first season, it begin to stink in its second (too many hints that Joan wasn’t seeing God, she’s just insane) and is now gone.

Hey, Hollywood: Quit screwing up the good things you’ve got — we’re trying to help you succeed, but you’re making it damn difficult!

Post #33 of 36: 2005’s Top TV Show

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

Now the moment we’ve all been waiting for: My pick for favorite show of 2005 is …

My Name is Earl.

All the reviews talk about how funny and well-written this show is — and they’re right, it is, but that’s not what propelled it to the top of my list.

The quality that gained it my top spot, my highest regard, is the ongoing plotline: That Earl, a lowlife white-trash who has never done anything but bad his entire life, becomes convinced that doing good with come back to him and good (he shorthands his theory down to “Karma”), and thus he embarks on a quest to right his past wrongs and make up for the harm his miserable life has caused.

What really sets this story apart is how his quest started out motivated by selfish reasons — doing good only because it benefitted him — we can see Earl developing a real conscience, and beginning to, more and more, actively do good because, for the first time in his life, doing bad feels bad.

It should also be noted that in some ways Earl is still Earl — slow-witted and uneducated — still his crusade of good deeds is transforming his, slowly but surely.

My Name is Earl is like Pay It Forward meets Blue Collar TV, except that it’s ten times better than both of those.

Seriously, check this show out if you haven’t already.

It’ll be good Karma for you …

Post #32 of 36: 2005 TV Top 10: #2

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

And my Number 2 show of 2005 was:

Lost — Some people ask “What does it all mean?” I think they’re missing the point. The quicker we find out what everything on this show “means” — why all the weird things are happening — the quicker the thrill will be over.

Don’t fret too much about the real answers: Just speculate as best you can, and otherwise sit back and enjoy the ride: The “cursed” numbers; the supposedly dire consequences of not pushing the button in the hatch every 108 minutes; the fact that The Others were harrassing the Tailies a lot more than the front-of-the-plane people; the mysterious drug=laden Nigerian aircraft; and all the characters’ tortured pasts.

The pieces will fall into place eventually; until then, just go with the flow.

Post #31 of 36: 2005 TV Top 10: #3

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

The countdown continues:

#3. The Boondocks — Leave it to the most controversial comic strip in the country to provide us with the freshest, most shocking new show of the year — and on Cartoon Network of all places. Expect lots of whitey-bashing and lots of the N-word, but the show is also critical of many in the black community (R. Kelly got a whole episode dedicated to his insane behavior).

The most amazing part is that they got Regina King to do the voices for both the kids — junior black revolutionary Huey, and his little brother Riley, a gangsta thug in training.

If you like a show with lots of “I can’t believe they said that!” moments, this is your show.

Post #30 of 36: The Home Stretch

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

Our 2005 TV countdown will continue after this landmark:

Thirty down, six to go!

Holy cats, this has taken longer than I expected — about 50 percent longer than the six days I had originally set out.

I’m not having a problem coming up with subjects about which to rattle on and on; what is in short supply is the time in which to do that rattling. What with the holidays, and work, and the movie yesterday, and taking down decorations today, it’s taking a while to make all this stuff up …

… so let’s facilitate matters and move on the the next post, shall we?

Post #29 of 36: 2005 TV Top 10: #4

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

We’re closing in on my top shows of the year:

#4. Hurricane Katrina news coverage — When the hurricane was over, we thought it was, well, over — but the worst part was just starting. TV is full of shows that try to fabricate drama, but nothing spells the real thing like the near-decimation of a major city, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. Regardless of what Time magazine says (naming Bono and the Gateses as People of the Year — what’s up with that??), this wasthe biggest story of the year, maybe of the decade.

It was a real-life disaster movie, a real-life soap opera times a million. It was hard for me to watch anything else when Katrina aftermath coverage was on TV.

Post #28 of 36: Calendar Boy

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

While we were at the mall yesterday going to the movies (which is about the only reason we ever go to the mall any more), we stopped at the calendar kiosk. Due to all the junk that’s happened in my life in the past month (on top of my usual procrastination), I had failed to buy any 2006 calendars at all.

I’m big on calendars: Each year, for the computer room, we get two doggie calendars — one for pomeranians, and, starting last year, one for shelties. But the kiosk was out of both, although the clerk said he had just seen a whole stack of pom calendars, I just got an Ireland calendar, as has also been my personal tradition, for my wall at work.

He gave use a coupon for Calendars.com, though, so we could get free shipping, so I ordered those today.

The website didn’t have any Iceland calendars this year, and I really wanted one, since I’m finding out that that’s where my genetic roots are.

Fortunately I was able to find one online, at an Icelandic gifts site, so it should be on its way too.

I’m big on wall calendars because they’ve usually got great pictures, and they change every month. You might not be able to get away with, say, ripping a nice picture out of a magazine and tacking it to the wall, stylistically speaking, but calendars are different: Their utilitarianism justifies the existence of the pictures, and they’re printed on nice slick cardstock, which makes them more decorative.

Me, I just like the pretty colors — well, that and the statements that they make.

Post #27 of 36: 2005 TV Top 10: #6 & 5

Sunday, January 1st, 2006

We now join my 2005 TV countdown already in progress:

6. America’s Funnies Home Videos — This show gets a bad rap, but it’s been one of my favorites from Year One, even before they got rid of The Yammering Idiot. Lots of TV shows have people falling down, and kids and dogs doing crazy things, but all those things are thought up by writers and performed by actors and stuntmen and trained animals. AFHV is about these things — or whatever else happens — occurring spontaneously and being captured on tape. These are events that result in real embarassment and property damage. More importantly, for a long time (at least before the Internet came along), the tapes shown on this program were the only access point that everyday non-show-business people, and non-show-business reality, had into the national media stream.

A great democratizing of the media is going on right now, and this show was the pioneer.

5. Desperate Housewives — Say what you will about this show, but there’s never a dull moment. And unlike a lot of shows that set the characters’ circumstances in stone, only changing when they’re desperate for a ratings boost, DH has their characters’ lives constantly in flux, each making a wide in the course of three or four episodes.

Like the best shows with long-term storylines, each episode involves a mini-plot that each character has to get through to advance in their own story. This keeps the viewers involved in The Big Picture — the overall story of the series — by breaking down the problems into smaller, digestible bites.

And its working.