Saturday, October 4, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
So, what's your expected cultural consumption for this weekend? I'd like to see Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, but between a trip to NYC tomorrow to visit my new nephew and Sunday's Philadelphia Eagles-Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons game, I'm not going to have any movie time, so it's more likely that Jen and I just continue our run through the Mad Men DVD instead.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
- Whether one can stop an avalanche as it races down a hill.
- Whether one can stop the motion of the ocean or the sun in the sky.
- Whether one can stop a river as it rushes to the sea.
- Whether one can stop the hands of time.
Sorry, lost control there for a sec.
I think I can think of only two brands that can do no wrong: Pixar and
Yes, this episode suffered from the season premiere malady that manifests itself in inflamed exposition and arrhythmic pacing. Yes, there were contrivances (Tami, whose educational and job history is mysterious, going from unemployed to guidance counselor to principal in three years; Tami just now noticing that the football team is better funded than the school's educational mission). Yes, there are retread plots (the star QB from out of town coming to take Saracen's job; the question of whether Smash will get a scholarship).
But you know what? Any hour in which Tyra Collette delivers a smack-down, a withering stare, a spin-and-walk-away, and a despite-herself smile is a good episode. Plus, it's possible that the greatest college essay of all time would be entitled "The Time I Dumped My Attempted Rapist's Lifeless Body in the Creek."
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Edited at 11:20 pm to add: So, what'd you think? I thought parts of it worked better than others -- not sure about the whole Lucy Liu thing, for example, but will reserve judgment until she's got something else to do. I thought the bookended party scenes were superbly done, am wildly glad to have misanthropic Brian out of the church ("that was fun"), miss Juliet, didn't like Nick's hair, think Donald Sutherland is a treasure, and am on the fence about Karen. But I really do love this show, and am hoping its return will be well worth the long wait.
- Cleaned up transfers and new menus.
- 8 Commentary tracks (on "Pilot," "Six Southern Gentlemen of Tennessee," "Small Town," "Sally," Eli's Coming," "Kafelnikov," "The Local Weather," and "Quo Vadimus")--featuring in various combinations 4 of the 6 principal actors (Huffman and Guillaume do not participate), several recurring actors, Sorkin, directors Tommy Schlamme and Bob Berlinger, and editor Janet Ashikaga. (The two I've listened to are both great--in the Pilot commentary, Sorkin reveals he used to bartend with Peter Krause and Camryn Manheim--that's a bar I'd like to go to.)
- Gag Reels
- A featurette with new interviews with the whole cast except Sabrina Lloyd.
- A featurette profiling the similarities between Sports Night on CSC and SportsCenter
- A separate interview with just Sorkin and Schlamme.
- A booklet with an episode guide, trivia, and the plan for the show's very complicated set.
Even if I didn't know that Sepinwall is raving about the step forward the show has taken this season, I would say that Chuck is exactly the kind of TV that we need right now. There's a lot of heavy stuff on TV, from the apocalyptic Heroes to the jittery Fringe to the dyspepsic CSIs. Even the lighter fare is kind of a downer: Gossip Girl is angsty and navel-gazing; The Office is melancholy slapstic; 30 Rock reruns are sharp-elbowed and caustic; and even HIMYM gets me down because so much of it is shot at night or in cramped, poorly-lit places. And don't get me started on the news. I'm not opposed to the indulgently serious -- I love Lost, for example -- but sometimes you need some sorbet to cleanse the palate.
Chuck is loose, nimble, and good natured, and it never takes itself too seriously. The season opened with a deft meta joke: A bad guy hangs Chuck by his ankles out a window and asks a pretextual "who are you" question so that Chuck can deliver a previously-on-Chuck monologue that is pure exposition, but we never find out how Chuck ended up hanging out the window in the first place. An hour of fighting, bantering, and blowing-up later, Zach Levi can still play up the show's central conflict -- Chuck is trapped in a life he may not want -- without compromising his everyman charisma. No, the show doesn't always make sense, and yes, it would be nice for there to be a sense that the show is moving toward something, rather than enjoyably standing still, but I'll take an hour of Chuck over an hour of Dan and Serena and Blair and the Duke any day, and I have the DVR season-pass amendment to prove it.
Incidentally, I haven't watched last night's Friday Night Lights premiere, but I will tonight and will report the results in a similarly untimely manner.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The fundamentals we use to measure this Phillies team's strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this city great - a promise that is the only reason I am typing here tonight.
Because in the faces of those young players who came up from Scranton Wilkes-Barre and Reading, I see Garry Maddox, who was traded over here from San Francisco for Willie Montanez, marched in Ozark's Army, and was rewarded by a grateful city with the chance to go to the playoffs six times in eight years.
In the face of that young college student (wearing a t-shirt saying "College") who sleeps just three hours after attending a night game, I think about my dad, who grew up a Yankees fan but raised my brother and me in the red and white, who once turned to reluctant support for Ricky Jordan but was still able to keep our partial season ticket plan through the years so that we are now attending half this year's playoff games.
When I listen to another fan tell me that Kyle Kendrick was shut down, I remember all those men and women in South Philadelphia who I stood by and cheered with a decade ago when it was Matt Beech, Garrett Stephenson and Carlton Loewer we were complaining about.
A city of boo-ers? Tell that to the proud fans of 1986 who, 20 games out of first, kept showing up every day and cheering as hard as ever when the Mets came into try to clinch in September, because we knew there was nothing that would suck more than seeing them celebrate on our artificial turf. (And we swept them.) Tell that to the fans that suffered through 1964 and didn't see a playoff game between 1950 and 1976, or 1915 and 1950. These are not boo-ers. They work hard and give back and keep going. These are the Phillies fans that I know.
It's not because Bob Uecker doesn't care. It's because Bob Uecker doesn't get it.I don't know what kind of lives Bob Uecker thinks that Phillies fans lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I will be cheering my ass off to keep the promise alive as a Phillies fan.
What is that promise? It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to boo whenever we want, but for whatever reason always treat Pat Burrell with dignity and respect no matter how badly he slumps.
It's a promise that says that beer prices at Citizens Bank Park can keep going up, but that the organization has an obligation to make said beer plentifully available, and with a decent selection too.
Ours is a promise that says Pat Gillick cannot solve all our problems, but what he should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from overpriced middle relievers and provide Jamie Moyer a decent pension; keep our outfield healthy and our stolen base attempts safe; invest in young arms and young ballgirls and young fans in the next generation.
Our team's ownership should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure playoff seats not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every fan who's willing to camp out.
That's the promise of the Phillies - the idea that we are responsible for our behavior when they lose, but that we also rise or fall as one city. We are the franchise of Schmidt. We are the franchise of Carlton. We are the franchise of Tug McGraw. So don't tell me that Phillies can't win in October. Don't tell me that Phillies won't win tight games and close out leads. The Nick Leyva-John Felske-Larry Bowa managerial policy squandered the legacy that a magical run from 1976-1983 had built, and we are here to restore that legacy. Phillies in four.
Monday, September 29, 2008
[Not that I'm not wishing good things for everyone else, of course. But the rest of y'all don't care about what happens at sundown tonight.]
[And until then, I don't know whether today is more like Speaker Pelosi shouting Turn those machines back on! or America demanding Sell, Mortimer, sell! And, yes, FCOJ at a three-year low today.]
Beckett is hurt, Lowell is hurt, and Drew is hurt. Big Papi has been hurting all season long, as has last year's star of the playoffs, Jacoby Ellsbury. Jed Lowrie, thrust into a key role in mid-season, has been showing obvious signs of fatigue. Varitek is no longer an elite catcher and let's just say that Kevin Cash is no one's idea of a good backup at that position.
The Sox do have a strong run differential, but they have struggled mightily all season long against that team from southern California with the comically long name.
Yet when I look back on this season, I have a feeling of delight, thanks largely to the extraordinary season of Dustin Pedroia. He is truly an amazing and inspiring player.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
So. We've got somewhat creepy New Yorkers, a somewhat creepy sibling team and a pair of nerd teams seeking our favor. And we need a good name for Team I'm Sorry I Cheated, But I'm Even Sorrier That I Thought Brazilians Speak Spanish. Andale!