26 October 2006

TV not for Nick: Project MyWorld

Project MyWorld
Starring Renee Intlekofer, Shaina Fewell, and Taryn Southern
Created by Renee Intlekofer and Shaina Fewell
Monday, 6pm DirecTV Channel 101

In an awesome bit of synergy, Rupert Murdoch is spreading the oversaturated name of MySpace via one of his other holdings, DirecTV. On Channel 101, not the indie video site but the DirecTV "exclusive" station (from which certain shows are recorded automatically into the "Showcase" section if you have the DirecTV DVR), you can catch the three girls as they traipse about Europe on a mission: bringing MySpace to real life. Renee is looking for "Mr Right" by perusing MySpace profiles and meeting up with these people. Taryn is apparently along for the ride. And then there's Shaina, the rock 'n' roll brunette musician with an absent father. Yes. Anyway, she's looking for bands.

"So, oh my God, you guys." You expect this to be said before every staged confessional. And I know that most reality television confessionals are staged and done in multiple takes but at least the editors and "participants" provide the illusion. But the production values aren't on trial. It's a reality show and that genre pretty much as their style down. What horrifies me is watching these girls bounce around Europe, flitting around from guys and musicians and totally embarrassing America. No wonder everyone hates us. I know a lot of countries don't agree with our foreign policy (neither do a lot of Americans) but I would hate us, too, if I had to deal with these girls as US Ambassadors.

Yes, the girls are perpetually annoying. Yes, it's like watching a giant train wreck take place in several exotic locations. The only thing that really saves this show, however, is being able to see these places in Europe that wouldn't necessarily be shown on travel programs because they're "partying with the natives." If those milksops could be removed from the program while leaving everything else in tact, you know, like the music scene and local activities and such, this show might be okay.

I kind of look at this program like Linkin Park: the production is solid and the music isn't horrible, but then the the rapper comes in and ruins the whole gig. But since Mike Shinoda is the producer, he really kind of has free reign so you either have to take it or leave it.

I leave it.

17 October 2006

TV for Nick: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Starring Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Bradley Whitford, D.L. Hughley
Created by Aaron Sorkin
Monday, 10pm NBC

I love TV, I mean real TV. I have a satellite but use very little of it, staying within the confines of ESPN, Comedy Central, some various other channels showing reruns of great shows, and my tried and true (and ever-expanding and contracting -- hello, CW) broadcast channels. I watch more on NBC than any other network and always have: from Seinfeld and Mad About You through (guiltily) Friends and Scrubs. I lived and died by the first couple seasons of Ed and even caught more than a few episodes of the promising but disappointing Providence. My late night is Conan and my hope for the future is the Thursday night block of My Name is Earl/The Office.

Needless to say, I caught my fair share of The West Wing but I was probably going to anyway: you see, I'm an OG Sorkin fan, back when he was on that other "_BC" with Sports Night though my exposure during its first run was somewhat limited. When Comedy Central breathed new life into the series in reruns, I was hooked on the dialogue, the situations, the intelligence. It was a coherent show looking at actual problems. They didn't waste time on the melodramatic soap opera storylines trapping most dramas nor did they sink to sit-com lows. The characters, though far more clever, eloquent and light-hearted than anyone in real life, were real and tangible. This became Aaron Sorkin's style, a style he seems to have refined in the past eight years.

Studio 60 is the grand mixture of the quick-paced, meticulous production in Sports Night (the details on that show were mind-boggling sometimes, right down to the continuity of monitors in the background) and the storyline/character/dialogue refinement cultivated during The West Wing. What we get is a series of characters we care about in situations we feel for speaking in such a way that we know isn't real life but we almost wish it were. Combine that with a cast specializing in delivery (Matthew Perry, DL Hughley, Bradley Whitford) with an immense sharpness and suddenly this show is a monster waiting to happen.

Also, I like shows that feature behind-the-scenes at a TV show. It's neat

So catch the show. It's worth watching for sure. If Monday night doesn't do it for you, record it and watch it instead of ER on Thursday. You know ER: it's that doctor show with Uncle Jesse.

01 October 2006


Cadbury among the great texts of Dante Alighieri

Cadbury, a Rabbit of Taste and Scholar

Look at this picture. It's adorable. You may also recognize this little guy from the front page video on my barely functional, perpetually under construction, stagnating site. But instead of being in one of Erica's extra rooms, this cute little guy is sitting in my locker of Dante books (locker #153). There's a reason for this and it goes thusly.

Let me preface by saying I've never really been a big fan of Erica's dog, Yogi. It's not necessarily Yogi's fault but he has a lot going against him from the beginning: (a) I'm not a dog person, (b) I don't like big animals for pets, (c) I usually don't like dogs that don't act like my family dog (now passed -- rest comfortably, Niya) and (d) I don't like animals that seem afraid of me for no reason. I'm a fairly easy-going person that moves relatively slow. But Yogi has had a rough life, living on the streets for years and, most probably, in an abusive home at some point, so he's very skittish around me. He races around the room with any slight sudden movement I make, pacing in such a way that I'm not sure if he's sizing me up or if he's so scared he's not sure where to go to be safe. He also likes to take small dumps ("nervous poo" we call it) when I come in to take care of him while Erica's on vacation.

Yogi is just one of the animals in Erica's zoo: she also has two cats, another dog (her first, Maeby), now a foster dog (Parker -- please adopt Parker), two cats (Bo and Jangles) and she used to have two rabbits (Cadbury and Smooshface). The list of importance to me of animals in the house: (1) Cadbury, (2) Bo, (3) Smooshface, (4) Maeby, (5) Jangles and a distant (6) Yogi (Parker doesn't really count since she's not really Erica's).

Smooshface was a cute rabbit with all white fur and a small, flat face (hence my clever, clever name). She was adventurous and bold, a rebel. She raced around wherever she wanted, flipping over plastic igloos with reckless abandon, pooing wherever she felt a pellet of feces was necessary, caution to the wind ... a true devil-may-care attitude. Cadbury, a normally cautious little guy, rode the wave with his roommate like so many other movie clich├Ęs featuring a more-or-less boring male protagonist and the new fly-by-the-seat-of-her-tight-pants girl in his life (see Dharma and Greg and Forces of Nature for examples). But it was certainly Smooshface's bold curiousity that would lead to her demise.

Erica was outside when Yogi found a way into the rabbit room. I imagine the rabbits both hid but Smooshface was the first to come out and check out the scene. Yogi barked wildly before attacking then mauled her so fiercely she was somewhere between catatonia and seizure when Erica found her. But she was still alive. Erica rushed to gather her things to get her to an emergency animal vet but Yogi found his way back in and finished her off.

When we buried Smooshface I couldn't even look at the body. Erica called me at work to tell me, sobbing, of what happened. And, I kid you not, I was probably more affected by Smooshface's untimely (and gruesome) death than I was when my mom told me the family dog, our pet for ten or more years, walked into the light. When Erica relayed to me the events through tears and short-breaths I had to sit down. And the burial, in a plot behind her house beneath an old climbing tree, was emotional.

I didn't cry or anything but it was certainly sad.

I've never had a real pet of my own. I had hermit crabs for a while but it's not like they're all that snuggly and, seriously, I don't really think they understood my existence outside of the giant's presence coincided with new food and clean water. But I've never really wanted a pet. Dogs are too needy; cats are too much trouble. Both could possibly kill me. If I were going to get a pet, it was going to have to be one I could understand. I don't get dogs, unconditionally loyal and rough ... and the barking. Oh, the barking. Cats I get better but tend to be self-serving to the point of distraction. Rabbits, though. Rabbits I get.

What other animal combines the great parts of a cat (self-cleaning, quiet, adorable, trained to poo in its own little section of the world), the adventurousness of a dog while maintaining a sense of autonomy? Everytime I went to visit the Rabbits when Erica was away I understood that they would allow me to stick around but didn't really care whether I was there or not. Really, they had better things to do like sniff the floor, eat hay and gnaw on everything.

The thought of Cadbury ending up in Yogi's hideous maw was too much for me to bear so I offered Erica a new home for the small creature. And now here he is. Cadbury and I have been happy roommates for almost two weeks now. I feed him a salad of assorted vegetables each morning (which means I also have to eat more "rabbit food" since he doesn't eat nearly as much as I have to buy), make sure there's nothing horribly dangerous for him to gnaw on/jump into/knock over in my room and he's free to roam wherever he wants. I'm not sure how much he cares that I'm around (especially since he grunts at me sometimes when I invade his space -- yes, rabbits grunt ... and honk) but we get along fine. And the allergy? Well, it's there, of course, but not nearly like cats or dogs. Some OTC Clariton or a refill of my Zyrtec should do me just fine.

And sadly I've become one of those guys that talks about his pet as if the people around him care. What an equally joyous occasion for saving a life yet horrible fall from social grace and conversational content this is.