Saturday, July 31, 2010

Steve hates moving, edition 10.

I hate moving.

While the new place is always something I've looked forward to, it doesn't change the fact that the actual process to moving is always a horrible, horrible thing. Every time I'm about to move, I promise myself that this time, it'll be different and easier, but this is seldom the case.

I was actually semi-good for me this time. We got permission to move into our new place on Wednesday, a couple days earlier than what I thought, which was Saturday. So, I moved a couple boxes over Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

However, despite this early progress, I'm still left with a whole bunch of crap. Sigh. At least it is a bearable 77 degrees, as opposed to my past couple of moves, which were in 90-degree heat. (Note: That type of stupid coincidence takes more than dumb luck. Rhode Island doesn't get 90-degree heat EVERY summer, yet the last three moves I had done, it was that hot each day. I have a talent for planning important things on bad days.)

Anyway, I think I have two trips left, and then I'll be completely moved out. Wish me well, folks!

The picture is from this site that tries to hook up geeks with women. Oh sweet irony!

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Baggage Game: Friday, July 30

Ah, tonight's contestant is BJ, which is always a silly name for a person. He's a pilot and looking for his co-pilot, and BJ doesn't want a deadbeat in his cockpit. (teehee.) Hopefully, he's a bit of a better dude than the last pilot who went on a nationally-televised dating show.

The daters are April, a fitness instructor from Houston who is poured into a slutty, ugly dress; Stephanie, a medical assistant from Tulsa who wants to travel to Transylvania, and has an ugly Suzie Orman-like haircut; and Olivia, by far the foxiest of the three, a dance studio owner from Ogden, Utah who "likes to perform in public." In addition to being the easiest on the eyes, Olivia seems like the best person from her initial 30-second interview. And also, she's from Utah, which isn't normally where you go if you want a wild and crazy life.

First Round

April: I keep the hair from my bikini waxes.
Stephanie: I bring my own sheets to hotels.
Olivia: I eat fast food twice a day.

April says, "I like the way it looks on the wax strip. It looks like salmon swimming upstream." This is quite possibly the most insane thing I've heard on this show yet, and I just threw up a little bit in my own mouth. ugh. Stephanie's "baggage" actually seems like a normal, reasonable thing to do. And Olivia is really fit, so I doubt the fast food thing is not much of an issue. (Then she adds in that she doesn't cook or clean, and that she's not his mother, which seems a bit worrisome. What do you do then, just dance all day and wreck the house?)

Second Round

April: I was stopped for speeding six times in one night.
Stephanie: I have Jesus tattooed on my back.
Olivia: I'm still dating my ex-husband.

Wow, as far as baggage goes, this is a pretty good round. The speeding thing is the least worrisome to me; it's speeding, meh. The ex-husband and Jesus thing are neck-and-neck with me though. The ex-husband thing would win out though, since it suggests an indecisive personality. However, BJ eliminates the Jesus girl, which is Stephanie. (This isn't really that surprising, since Stephanie has a huge tat on her thigh.)

Olivia turns out to be the one dating her ex-husband, so I would have eliminated her. Sorry about that, Olivia! April explains her speeding problem by saying that she was trying to get to a bachelorette party, which seems reasonable. April also has a mouth like Jenny from Flippin' Out, and looks roughly like her. Olivia then dances for the crowd, followed by April awkwardly trying to dance and work-out in her way-too-slutty dress. (Some FCC operator probably just had a heart attack.)

Final Elimination Round

April: I have five over-protective dads.
Olivia: I was kicked out of college.

Olivia says she went to a very religious college and she got kicked out for being in a guy's room after hours. Since she's in Utah, I imagine this means she was at BYU and got booted, like that Mormon girl from The Real World. Meanwhile, April just seems like a complete trainwreck, between the waxing and dads. BJ shows that he has a brain and eliminates April. "It's too bad BJ, because you and I could have had a lot of fun in your cockpit." (I'm glad I'm not the only one with a silly mind.) Anyway, BJ's baggage is one of these three things:

- I spend my vacations on a nudist retreat.
- My first love was my second cousin.
- I've been arrested 22 times.

Of the three, the nudist thing would bug me the most, although the arrest thing would be a very close second. Sadly, the cousin thing wouldn't bug me as much, provided there had been a buffer of several years after the cousin-fucking. BJ's baggage is the arrest thing, which shocks Olivia, because she's never been arrested. BJ admits that he used to work on a morning radio show, and thus, he would get arrested while doing pranks. However, Olivia accepts him anyway. Awwww.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Movin' on up... And why Steve dislikes bikers (the cyclist kind).

I apologize for the delayed posts the past couple days, but I'm moving out of my parents' house and into an apartment with my friend Becca in a nearby town - woohoo! It's been far too long for me, and it almost feels like escaping prison. It's almost hard for me to imagine life out on my own again, but yet, I'm excited to give it a try. Becca and I have known each other since seventh grade, and we're not dating each other, so I don't think it'll be awkward at all.

Anyway, I also don't really have any pictures yet. I don't have a proper camera, and I always forget that my cell phone has one, so I haven't snapped any photos. Since I know y'all are probably naturally curious, the above picture is the Google Maps satellite image of the new crib. If you want to get super nosy, you can look it up yourself - 657 Dry Bridge Road, North Kingstown. (Feel free to mail me money or delicious cakes and cookies as well. No poison or stalking though.) We have a super-huge backyard, which is actually a huge collection of local farms, so that's nice. The parking situation is less than ideal, but still, there should be plenty of room for BBQs and other fun stuff.

Between work and frantically packing and trying to move out by Saturday, I have tried to sneak in some basketball. However, this is a surprising pain in the ass because the court closest to me, Crandall Field in Ashaway / Hopkinton, is constantly stalked by a roving gang of kids on bicycles.

They aren't as bad as The Warriors or anything, but the park has developed a reputation as a place for bikers and skaters to go. As a result, nobody plays hoops there anymore. The town finally managed to get rid of the black spray paint that said "Die kikes!", but they don't do much in terms of keeping the bikers off the court. They constantly drag a picnic table and a nearby trash barrel on to the court and then try to jump over them. (Note: This small bit of vandalism and graffiti is odd for the field, which is otherwise inhabited by a nice, big playground and friendly families.)

So to you punk kid cyclists there, Old Man Greenwell shakes his fist at you. Hopefully, there are less of you in North Kingstown.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

At The Commercials: ohmygod Apple please stop with the iPhone.

These commercials for the iPhone 4 make me feel really uncomfortable, especially the one above. First off, the girl looks REALLY young. Like, in the 14 to 17 range, with that silly haircut of her's. That tone of voice probably doesn't help, and her boyfriend sounds like a skeeve. "You look really, REALLY cute. Now call me daddy..."

Second, the commercials are eerie because there is no background sound, and for the most part, very little sound. It is odd and unnerving - like we're eavesdropping on a private conversation. The worst, eeriest voyeur feeling definitely comes from the "I'm pregnant!" commercial they. Why am I a fly on the wall for their most private moment???

Sigh. According to Apple's website, which doesn't work for me in terms of actually playing the commercials, there are five in all. The only one that is mildly cute to me is about the girl getting braces. She comes off as cute in it, but like haircut, her "dad" seems creepy and maladjusted:

The Baggage Game: Wednesday, July 28

Today's contestant is Shane, a business owner from the silly named Defiance, Ohio. When he gets on the stage, he says he's not worthy to Jerry and bends down on a knee, which makes me immediately dislike him. He also says that he wants a woman who is filled out in the right way. ick.

We have Krista, a busty blonde dental hygienist from Milwaukee. There is Jen, a blonde and brunette nanny from Tustin, California; she looks a bit too mom-ish for this show. Then, we have Debra, a brunette teacher from L.A., who is definitely the cutest of the three contestants. She has a great smile and laugh, both of which are bright as heck. (Rough approximation provided by the girl to the right, which I got from this dental website and Google Images.)

First Round

Krista: I have been to 32 Donny Osmond concerts.
Jen: I drive 15 miles per hour under the speed limit.
Debra: I'm obsessed with serial killers.

From just reading these, Debra's baggage sounds the most ridiculous, but she explains it more as of love of shows like CSI and Forensic Files. (Phew, the hot girl seems normal, at least through one round.) This is a pretty "meh" round to me, since I've dealt with variations of all three of these personally. (However, please note that I totally pegged Jen as being a mom, and sure enough, she drives like a mom.) Hopefully things pick up in the second round...

Second Round

Jen: I buy panties at the $0.99 store.
Krista : I have a bowel movement every two hours.
Debra : I read self-help books every day.

Shane freaks out about the panties thing, which surprises me. As long as they're new, who cares? However, he acts as if he had been told that the woman had AIDS. The bowel movement issue seems more worrisome, since she would constantly be need pit stops and what not. The self-help book issue seems like a positive, like they're constantly working on bettering themselves. However, Shane chooses to eliminate the $0.99 store panties, which turns out to be Jen the Mom.

Anyway, Krista explains that she likes to eat a lot of all-natural food and fiber, so she has regular, non-smelly poops. (Shane expressed regret that his house would smell bad. Classy guy.) Debra said, as I guessed, that she likes to improve herself.

Final Elimination Round

Krista: I get paid to be naked at parties.
Debra: I'm on probation.

Holy heck, these are two surprising reveals! Krista explains that she gets paid to be nude and to wear a "body paint" outfit. And Debra's story is really minor - She tried to evade a parking meter maid. Awwww. That just makes her even foxier to me! Oh, la and LA. Meanwhile, Krista is just a glorified stripper (as Debra points out).

Unfortunately, Shane is a tool, and picks Krista. I'm guessing it is because of her giant fun bags, because they immediately hug and have their paws all over each other. ick. Anyway, Shane's baggage is one of these three things:

- I've had three serious girlfriends at one time.
- I have 61 ventriloquist dolls.
- I'm banned from entering the state of Florida.

Right off the bat, I can't imagine that the Florida thing is true. Florida is the most fucked up place in the United States, with the possible exception of Alaska. What the hell would you have to do to get banned from the state? Did he rough up Goofy or Mickey Mouse?

I'm right on the money with Shane the Tool, as he reveals that he had three serious girlfriends at one time, which is the biggest baggage for Krista and myself. (Heck, at least the dolls, I'm assuming he would make some money.) Shane said he's past that point of his life, but she doesn't really believe him, and sends him packing. (She seems vaguely broken up about this.)

Now that he's eliminated, Shane is all snotty about Krista being a nude model. However, with his ridiculous baggage, I doubt it would have mattered if he had chosen on of the other women either.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Inexplicable Music Review: The Ting Tings, perfect for summer consumption.

I've previously established that I don't have much musical taste, between what I consider "cool" music and because I'm a 26-year-old guy that likes Ke$ha. (So sue me! There is just something so raw and filthy about her that somehow also makes her attractive. I can't properly explain it.)

Anyway, one band I'm into that is perfect for summer consumption remains The Ting Tings. You've probably heard a lot of them recently - The above music video for "Great DJ" is used in at least one commercial, for some Garner Fruitis shampoo, and it is frequently used as bumper music for shows. (You can thank me later for finally identifying it for you.)

Basically, I'm very much into accessible, listenable techno, and The Ting Tings seem to be the latest permutation of it. This genre started with some of the 1980s hip-hop beats, and gave way to early to late 1990s "big beat" techno like The Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim. The audience for both bands eventually decayed, but acts like Daft Punk still remain pretty popular. Now, I think you can clearly hear that techno kind of influence in the drums of The Ting Tings and the production value of most Kanye songs.

There are a couple other factors that certainly help The Ting Tings' success:

- The female vocalist, Katie White, is cute as heck. She's clearly hot, but she is jussttt a bit thick and chesty, which makes her seem more "normal" than most pop sensations like Katy Perry. Sure, she styles her hair over her eyes like she is a bit emo, but her hair is gorgeous and in general, she looks pouty and dreamy. I've joked in the past that I'd like to marry her, since she's roughly my age, and I'm only half kidding. (Watch, someone will produce a picture of her smoking, like they did with Piper Perabo, and totally kill my dreams.)

- All of their music videos are pretty solid. As my friend Michael noted about the one up there, it probably cost about $100 to make. It's just them making the same dance move throughout the video as the colors throb behind them. However, because it's so simple, and because the music and lyrics seems to sync with the video, I'm a big fan. There isn't a lot of innovation going on in music videos today, as most bands are content to just be filmed singing, so I like anything off the beaten path.

Similarly, the band's other videos are examples of this minimalist but neat, eye-catching style:

- I don't think The Ting Tings take themselves too seriously, which is important in my book. Like the DJ behind Girl Talk, they just seem content to make some good, catchy music. They're also fine doing goofy stuff, like singing the "Happy Birthday" song on Yo Gabba Gabba. This adds to my impression that Katie White is a sweet girl I can take home, as opposed to a nasty sex freak. (That's what Ke$ha is there for, anyway.)

- This final reason is kind of silly, but I like that the male lead of The Ting Tings, Jules De Martino, looks like one of my favorite wrestlers, Christian Cage. Good for them both! I also have no idea if Jules is straight or gay, but hey, whatever makes him happy and producing hit records make me happy.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Inexplicable Book Review: My Teacher Is Not Bruce Coville

Back in the day, there were a bunch of nifty horror series for kids. (I say this as if they don't exist now, but since I'm 26, I don't really hang around in the kid's lit sections of book stores, since I don't want to have a good, long chat with Chris Hansen.) Of course, R.L. Stine's Goosebumps and Fear Street series are the most famous, but there was also the softcore porn-esque writing of Christopher Pike and the Scary Stories anthologies with freaky illustrations.

A subset of this was kinda-goofy series, like the ones written by Bruce Coville. The one I remember best had the catchiest title - My Teacher Is An Alien. According to Wikipedia, it came out in 1989, when I was five. However, I first stumbled across it in third or fourth grade, at one of those Scholastic book fairs that came 'round the school every couple of months. The other books are My Teacher Fried My Brains, My Teacher Glows In The Dark and My Teacher Flunked The Planet.

The plot of the four-book series was pretty simple: Super nerd Peter Thompson likes cute girl Susan Simmons, but there is a bully, Duncan Dougal, in the way. Oh, and also, their teacher Mr. Smith is actually an alien named Broxholm, who has a wife who is also an alien masquerading as a teacher, who uses a device to unlock Duncan's inner brain power. You know, your typical sort of stuff.

The series morphs from what seems to be the typical "oh my goodness, my teacher is an alien stuff!" to a bit of a morality play on humanity itself. The aliens observing Earth are worried about the destructive powers of humans, with the atomic bomb foremost among their concerns. They don't want the humans to corrupt the rest of the galaxy when they eventually get out into the rest of the galaxy.

It's an interesting thing to ponder, and as a kid, I always resonated more with books that skewed toward grey-ish morals and surprising outcomes, like My Teacher Is An Alien. Also, there was a light little romance hinted at in all the books. So, as an awkward fourth grader first discovering that girls were pretty and not always cootie-faced, I always liked books and video games that hinted at something like this.

Anyway, if you're interested in the series, it's widely available. From a casual glance on eBay and Amazon, the individual books go for $0.50 to $2. Most library networks also have all four books.

The picture of the series is from this nifty interview with the creator of the series, Bruce Coville.

The Baggage Game: Monday, July 26

Today, we have Steve on, a spa owner from Tulsa. (Seriously, "spa owner" is a valid profession in Oklahoma? Isn't just standing out in the sun like stewing in a spa in Oklahoma?) He's a bit older than the typical guy on Baggage, probably closer to 50 than 30.

The contestants are Jillie, a paralegal from Delano, Minnesota that talks like a phone sex operator; Marilee, a "free-spirited" songwriter from Grand Rapids; and Priscilla, a marketing rep from Beverly Hills, who is unfortunately nowhere near the same ballpark physically as the other two. Jillie is incredibly attractive, and also clearly the youngest, while Marilee is a busty, blonde and in her mid-30s, roughly. Think a bustier Beth Littleford, who's picture is from this blog.

First Round

Jillie: I never leave home without make-up.
Marilee: I'm obsessed with The Rock.
Priscilla: My boobs are two different sizes.

None of these are dealbreakers to me. Priscilla's baggage leads to the best Jerry line of the round, "Well at least you know they're real." (Steve also makes a motorboat sound, showing that he is a classy, classy guy.) Jillie is quite firm that she NEVER leaves without make-up, but she is a really hot blonde, so this isn't concerning to me. Marilee's baggage is sadly appealing to me, since I love professional wrestling The Rock. Jerry quips, "They used to call me the pebble."

Second Round

Jillie: My four psychics guide my life. Priscilla: I live with two men. Marilee: I shave my entire face.
The physics thing wins by a landslide, since the men and shaving thing are relatively minor issues. The shaving thing... Hey, at least she cares enough to shave! And I'm living with my female friend Becca, so I don't view the men thing as an issue. But FOUR physics? Wow. The other Steve (you know, the one on the show, not me) agrees and eliminates the physics.

And of COURSE, ultra-hot Jillie is the one with the four psychics! Sigh. Marilee seems like a decent human being though, and I instantly like her because she hates camping. Also, she apparently bakes great muffins. Priscilla notes that she is a girly-girl and likes to drink beers with the guys (which is really obvious, to sound mean and catty for a second).

Final Elimination Round

Marilee: I want to adopt five kids.
Priscilla: I won't have sex until marriage.

Steve remarks, "Oh hello Angelina!" to Marilee's baggage, which makes me hate him even more. He adds that he's not sure he wants children. What an ass! When Priscilla reveals her baggage, Marilee cackles a bit, which makes me like her even more. Priscilla says, "I'm a prize, and good things come to those who wait." Unsurprisingly, Priscilla gets the boot. Anyway, Steve's baggage is one of the three:

- I've had sex with a man.
- I have a tattoo of my ex-wife.
- I was married to two women at the same time.

Marilee said her biggest problem would be if he was into other dudes. I find all three to be dealbreakers, but hey, to each their own. Steve reveals his baggage to be "I've had sex with a man," which I knew a while ago because The Soup used it as a clip. He mentions that things just got out of hand at college at one point, which is a bit of an understatement; I've gotten drunk but I've managed to avoid getting... Well, let's not go there. Steve gives an angry interview after the show, proving that Marilee was probably right to eliminate his sleazy ass.

(Note: This is the premiere episode of the show, actually, and thus, the only one available fully on YouTube. Sorry!)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A wacky day of TV: An inexplicable Mel Gibson mini-marathon and the real Buffy

This always hilarious photo is from here.

- Yesterday, for some reason, they were showing several Mel Gibson movies on TNT. At 2:15, they played Payback, followed by Braveheart. I'm not sure if they had planned this for months and couldn't change the line-up, or if they actually thought the movies would be more in demand because of Mel's... problems.

I will say that I actually enjoy Payback, and it reminds me of why Mel has gotten so many chances in Hollywood. The dude can act, even if he is a horrible alcoholic and racist. He basically plays a bad, clever motherfucker in Payback, and he's the good guy. It predates stuff like Sin City and Kill Bill by a couple years, but it's a gritty, not-as-good "revenge" movie in that same vein. Mel and some of the supporting characters (James Coburn and Kris Kristofferson and vampy Maria Bello) in the movie have some really strong performances, as he is trying to get back the $130,000 $70,000 owed him.

More importantly, it is the perfect sort of movie for a lazy Saturday afternoon. It has lots of violence and explosions, and enough decent acting to keep you interested; it follows firmly in the footsteps of fare like Falling Down with Michael Douglas and Roadhouse with Patrick Swayze. (Also, Ebert is a big fan, if that helps persuade anyone.)

- Also on Saturday was the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer, of which I am the only remaining fan of. While the WB / UPN / whatever show has many, many more fans, especially among people who write fan fiction, I like the original movie for a couple reasons.

First, it doesn't take itself nearly as seriously as the series does. Kristy Swanson is goofier than Sarah Michelle Gellar, and the movie as a whole is very tongue in cheek. It's like the difference between Gremlins and Gremlins 2, with the movie Buffy being more of a spoof and exaggeration of horror movies. It was pretty odd for the time, considering that Buffy came out in 1992, four years before Scream.

Second, Swanson is much, much hotter than Gellar. I realize this is a scandalous statement to some, but take a look at that picture of her doing gymnastics and try to argue otherwise. Sure, she fell off the cliff into the Abyss of Non-Celebrity almost immediately after Buffy, but her peak is much, much higher than Gellar's. Although Gellar is undeniably cute, I never really viewed her as a major sex symbol like Swanson, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Denise Richards or Neve Campbell.

For those reasons, I was quite glad to see Buffy The Vampire Slayer pop up on VH1 Saturday afternoon. Congrats!

- And finally, ESPN's programming is just odd sometimes. Instead of showing any number of Major League Baseball games, they instead showed... a men's softball championship. Seriously, ESPN? Sigh.

Notes on Baggage - Because I don't write about it enough.

Thanks to Kristi's comment on this post, I've noted that more people than just myself are obsessed with Baggage. Poking around the web a bit...

- Here is a really great, exhaustive article on the show. They've even tabulated some stats on it, such as how likely men and women are to accept the other person's baggage. I highly recommend it! The picture for this entry comes from the site.

- Baggage now has a Facebook fan group. Nice! You can access it here. According to the group, they are currently doing casting calls in Vegas for the second season, which will start airing Aug. 16. Sweet! (I hope I still have GSN by then...) Side note: The casting director for the show is a stone cold fox.

Anyway, the next post for The Baggage Game will be tomorrow at 11 a.m. I'm going to stick with the current schedule, which has me doing three posts about it a week, until I either 1) run out of episodes or 2) lose Game Show Network. After that, I do have another game show to fill the void, thankfully, so no worries.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Greatest Comic Ever Ever - V1E01

Note: Click for full-size.

Moral: Sometimes, when you make sexist jokes, a Revenge Dinosaur bites your arm off.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Baggage Game: Friday, July 23

Ah, time for another edition of The Baggage Game! For those unfamiliar with it, check out the debut of the game here. Tonight's dater is Patricia, a busty, brunette with curly hair from San Diego, who looks kind of like the girl to the right. She's a flight attendant - Oh, la and LA! From her initial chat with Jerry Springer, she seems super-cereal, in the words of Al Gore. The daters are Harry the bartender, Tony the systems technician from Munich, and Clayton the contractor, former Golden Gloves champion and Marine from Houston. (Holy crap, who invited the ringer?)

First Round

Harry: I keep love letters from my ex'es.
Tony: I count my girlfriend's calories.
Clayton: I pee in the shower every morning.

Wow - Tony jumps into the "creepy obsessive" lead right away by counting his girlfriend's calories. (Not surprisingly, he is a gorgeous bastard, because an ugly guy doesn't get away with that shit at all.) Harry's answer is also... concerning... but at least he's doing it for semi-sweet reasons, mentioning that he wants to be able to show his kids the letters someday. (Jerry nails him by questioning why he has them from all of his ex'es.) I've covered peeing in the shower before, and meh, that's not really that big of an issue to me.

Second Round

Tony : I've paid for a "happy ending" massage.
Harry: I must be alone after sex.
Clayton: I'm a 36-year-old grandfather.

Holy craappppp, that's some ridiculous stuff going on! Patricia eliminates the happy-ending guy, which I actually find the least concerning... and then Tony reveals that he got it in Bangkok of all places, making it twice as worse. But holy hell, the 36-year-old grandfather thing would worry me the most. Clayton says he accidentally got his high school girlfriend pregnant, but doesn't really explain how his son then magically got someone else pregnant. The sex thing, ugh, but I feel like I could work on it, and it's not as bad as the grandfather thing.

Final Elimination Round

Harry: I use my 22-year-old son to pick up women.
Clayton: I'm a male stripper in Las Vegas.

Wowwwww. Where the hell did they find these people? How do they all have kids? #1 is definitely much, much worse to me. #2, meh - it's sleazy as heck, but at least he's getting paid for his sleaze. Patricia doesn't really seem that thrilled about either guy, but she sends Harry packing, which I would have done as well. Anyway, we progress to her secret:

- I dumped my finance on our wedding day.
- I was thrown out of a theme park for having sex.
- I forged a check to a charity.

Compared to what Clayton has going on, Patricia seems like a saint regardless of which thing she picks. The charity thing is the most worrisome thing to me, and Clayton as well, whereas the other two things are... moments of passion. Patricia reveals that she dumped her fiance on her wedding day, because her life "flashed before her while she was there" and she doesn't have commitment issues. However, Clayton is okay with this, and they get to go out on a date together. aw.

The picture of Bizarro Patricia comes from this site about hairstyling.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Steve At Work

Have you ever wondered, "Hey, what does Steve look like when he's working?" Well, thanks to the obtrusive nature of television news, you can now find out by clicking here. I'm in the background of both of the videos on that page, wearing the green polo shirt. For the fuller version of that story though, I recommend my paper's articles on the court case, which can be accessed here (today's hearing) and here (the background).

I'll admit that it is kind of odd to be in the background, working, while someone else is working, if that makes sense. It happens to me pretty frequently though, since I have the courthouse beat. Earlier this week, I believe I made it into some broadcasts because a crooked lawyer was sentenced to a year in jail and I was there working. I'm also in this YouTube video about historic flooding in Rhode Island, albeit briefly.

Here is the sad part - My brief appearances on television always elicit more of a response than most thins I actually write for the paper. Here is a rough hierarchy of what events cause me to get the most feedback:

Being in a background shot of a television story > reporting a major story in print > writing a column with a head shot > a normal news story

Anyway. I'll add that I've never been on television for a legitimate reason. I was interviewed once by The Providence Journal because a fraternity at URI stole a bunch of our student newspapers and burned them at their house. However, I think that story ended up on the bottom of A-1 or B-1, and it represents the peak of my Z-level local celebrity.

The picture of Dusty and Robbie is from this site here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Piper Perabo and Covert Affairs, you disappoint me :( And you too, Burn Notice.

After just two episodes of USA's Covert Affairs, I'm about ready to tap out. Sure, it's a spy show, and it's meant to be goofy and far-fetched. However, the show functions as a sort of Bizarro Burn Notice.

See, on Burn Notice, the main character of betrayed secret agent Michael Westin as portrayed by Jeffrey Donovan is boring as eff. Donovan is wooden and has the same reaction to just about any situation he's put in. The rest of the supporting cast - Bruce Campbell and Gabrielle Anwar - aren't too shabby though, even though they don't have a lot to work with. The first two seasons of the show, which deal with plausible spy issues delivered by Donovan in a dry monologue, are pretty solid. After that point, when the show has to rely on him to actually act, the quality rapidly degrades.

On Covert Affairs, Piper Perabo is stunningly awesome as CIA newbie Annie Walker. She is glib and charming, and she glows in every scene. She really is stunningly attractive, and someone smartly decided that because she is a CIA operative, she should be in hot dresses and business suits a lot. Whoever the wardrobe designer is on Covert Affairs should get a nice raise. (Even if it does look like she's using a Bump-It in some scenes [right].)

However, everything else on the show is pretty silly. In the pilot, we find out that Annie:

- Has an ex-boyfriend who dumped her in the middle of the night.
- Has a CIA handler that is blind.
- Her immediate boss and the head of the agency are married.
- She gets setup on a bad date by her well meaning sister.
- Of course, she bumps into that bad date on her first assignment.
- She has a long chase scene in which she somehow manages to keep pace with a trained assassin, even though she is wearing three-inch heels.
- Said ex-boyfriend is also a rogue spy who surfaces to save her at the end of the episode.

Jesus. I'm not sure what cliche they're missing, and it's only the first one-hour episode. I suppose they could have had her saving a kid (but they save that for episode two, seriously).

Speaking as a dude here, I will say that the cast is very easy on the eyes. Outside of Perabo, there is Anne Dudek (formerly of House) as her sister, and the icy blonde cool of Kari Matchett as her CIA boss. Wikipedia notes that Matchett "is probably best known for her role as Mariel Underlay on the cult TV series Invasion and as Kate Filmore in the science fiction movie Cube 2: Hypercube." This is a nice way of saying, "She hasn't really been in anything, sorry."

Among the male cast, there are two surprises. One, Peter Gallagher brings his eyebrows to the show as the husband of Matchett's character, and also the director of the CIA. He is very much like Peter Gallagher in this role. (Let's be honest, it's not like he's going to play an emo guitarist or a heroin addict.) Second, Sendhil Ramamurthy, a.k.a. Mohinder "The Hulk Ripoff" Suresh from Heroes, stars as a rising agent at the CIA. He is OK in this role.

Anyway, Perabo is awesome as Annie Walker, but anything not involving her feels jagged and awkward. For every scene that features her glibly bluffing her way through a difficult situation, there is another that is just campy and cringe-worthy.

And beyond that, there are also shockingly intense fight scenes, at least for a cable drama. You know, like Piper getting the shit choked out of her:

These fight scenes are really good - They could legit belong in a decent action movie. However, they seem out of place, since 30 seconds before Perabo was shucking and jiving with her blind CIA analyst friend.

Since Burn Notice just got picked up for a fifth AND sixth season, it wouldn't surprise me if Covert Affairs eeks out a couple of seasons. However, just realize it is on the second tier of cable shows, as opposed to the first tier with Psych, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Justified. (Hey speaking of that...)

(p.s. Also, since I can't seem to escape The Wire lately, I'll note that Lester Freamon guest stars in the pilot as Annie's college languages professor. She knows six, of course. He's good, but if I was him, I wouldn't bank on this earning him an Emmy or anything.)

The Baggage Game: Wednesday, July 21

Welcome to day two of The Baggage Game! Please, please... Hold your applause. No, no, no - Thank you. You don't need to go on.

.... No really, thank you.

Anyway, today's contestant is Johnathan, a bar manager from New Rochelle, New York. And actually, he is the sleazy guy I noted in my first entry about Baggage! The three contestants are LaChelle, Soraya and Melissa.

First Round

LaChelle: I pee in the shower to conserve water.
Soraya: I only stay in four-star hotels.
Melissa: I sleep with a mouthguard.

The four-star hotel thing is DEFINITELY the worst to me. The pee thing? Well, I think a lot of people do that in the shower... Uh, at least, I hope more than just me and her do it... And the mouthguard thing, while I'm sure it's an inconvenience, I bet she has worked out a system of some sort. Next round.

Second Round

LaChelle: I still take vacations with my ex-boyfriend.
Soraya: My man must wait on me hand and foot.
Melissa: I dated a fugitive.

As I've lamented in the past, Jonathan picked the fugitive one (Melissa) to eliminate, which is the least worrisome of the three to me. The second one would be my biggest cause for dismissal, whereas I would chalk the vacation thing up to it being an old relationship or them remaining good friends.

Final Elimination Round

LaChelle: I've never had sex... and probably never will.
Soraya: I poured bleach all over my ex's clothes.

Both of these are very concerning to me, for completely different reasons, of course. I would probably chose as Jonathan does though, and eliminated Soraya - I'm cocky and I figure that I'm a decent enough guy that the sex would eventually happen. And if I'm going to break up with someone, I'd prefer to do it because of a lack of sex, as opposed to getting bleach dumped on all of my clothes. His baggage is one of the three:

- I slept with my boss to get a promotion.
- I've earned zero dollars the past three years.
- I've been in seven adult films.

LaChelle has the biggest problem with the seven adult films. My biggest problem would have been with the zero dollars thing. He trumps us both by revealing it to be the boss thingy, which I would consider sleazy, but not too much baggage depending on what else has been put on the table. She dumps him though, which I'm okay with, since he looks gross and sleazy. The end!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Wire, The Baltimore Sun and Journalism

One of the main story arcs in the fifth and final season of The Wire is about the dysfunction present throughout the management and reporters of The Baltimore Sun, which is regarded as the chief paper of the city. With less revenue coming in, the upper-level management of the paper has laid off experienced reporters in favor of younger kids fresh out of journalism school, and the product has suffered as a result. Since my profession is reporting, I had a couple thoughts on the whole presentation of the paper. You can also read a past entry I did about my experience(s) with journalism here.

- The clueless upper level corporate management is something I've heard horror stories about, and it's completely accurate. On The Wire, they call all of the staff into the room to announce that because revenue projections weren't met, they would have to begin another round of buyouts.

At one of my first journalism stops, I actually saw this happen. It was one of the most painful things I had to sit through, especially since the meeting was held at a swanky yacht club. (Newspapers are wonderfully duplicitous like this.) The meddling nature of executive editor James Whiting (Sam Freed) I have definitely seen firsthand, and I cringed whenever he mentioned the "Dickensian" aspect of a story. I thought to myself, "What the fuck does that even mean?", a sentiment probably shared by the characters of the show. Managing editor Thomas Klebanow is portrayed as a sleazy mouthpiece of management as opposed to being concerned about putting out a good product, which also echoes for me.

There still is an emphasis on stories that elicit an emotion from a reader, as opposed to actually being about anything relevant. The best example is normally stories about animals. I've done plenty of these, and they always get a good reaction from readers, because hey, who doesn't like a story about a cute pet? However, almost any issue involving an animal is normally small fry as compared to what's going on with the budget or tax situation.

Also, with the now constant pressure of a 24-hour news cycle at some places, and as executive editors attempt to run newspapers like television stations, there is less opportunity to just breathe and stop (in the words of Q-Tip). A deep, investigative story should be the bread and butter for newspapers. Now, they're seldom done except around award time, just like the portrayal of the editors of The Baltimore Sun regarding the Pulitzer Prize.

- I've dealt with shifty reporters when I was the editor of The Good Five Cent Cigar, the student newspaper of the University of Rhode Island. As a result, I immediately had my suspicions about the BS reporter Scott Templeton (Thomas McCarthy) was spewing about the handicapped kid outside of the Baltimore Orioles game. In fact, shortly after I saw that scene, I sent an e-mail to my buddy Tom about it:

As his editor rightly notes, Templeton's stories are too good. Speaking as someone who talks to and quotes people for a living, almost no one is that well-spoken in an interview, unless they talk professionally for a living. While some light clean-up of a person's words is allowed at some shops (i.e. removing excessive "ums" and "uhs"), Templeton was obviously doing wholescale cribbing and plagiarism.

However, I do understand the reluctance of editor Augustus "Gus" Haynes in calling Templeton out on it. It's a serious allegation to make against a reporter, especially when he's the golden boy of the paper as in The Wire. I think people have a desire to want to believe a story - whether it be of a hotshot reporter or the homeless guy who's secretly a classical musician or millionaire - without really questioning it.

- The Baltimore Sun doesn't really come off that well in the show, but I think you could substitute any non-super local paper in its place and see similar problems. At least from the conferences and what not that I've attended, papers like The Providence Journal and The Boston Globe, and even The New York Times and The Washington Post, are all dealing with problems when it comes to market share and revenue.

David Simon, the creator of The Wire, mentions in interviews that the show is really about illustration how corruption taints organizations, whether it is the police force and drug dealers in seasons one through five, the shipping union in season two, politics in seasons three through five or reporting in season five. Or, as one of the characters so eloquently puts it on the show, "Shit rolls downhill."

Likewise, I think you can trace the decline of journalism to the corporate ownership of newspapers. At a certain point, newspapers became a commodity to be owned by a larger company, and expected to produce and expand like any other product. This always struck me as folly. If you're producing a Providence paper, then most editions simply aren't going to resonate with a reader in California.

It also didn't help that many reporters and editors simply refused to accommodate new technology intelligently. Giving away every story for free on the Internet was a stupid decision, however, using the web for photo slideshows and expanded coverage? That's an effective use of resources to me, especially if you're going to actually make the shitty sales people do something smart, like aggressively marketing those photos and making packages and what not that can be marketed.

- In a completely random note, the best pro wrestling blogger in the business writes for The Baltimore Sun. Check out Ring Posts by Kevin Eck here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Baggage Game: Monday, July 19

I've decided to start ripping off borrowing the drama of Baggage for my blog. If you're unfamiliar with the game, you can read my description of it here. How am I going to adopt it for the blog? Simple - I'll share the baggage of each round, and then comment on all of them. And, feel free to add your own remarks in the comments! To not completely bogart Game Show Network on the show, I'll add that these are delayed by three days.

Today's game features three men vying for a statuesque redhead waitress, Emily. (That isn't her to the right, it's apparently a hot photographer, but still, same sort of ballpark.)

First Round

Brian: I refuse to fly.
Ray: I only spend $10 on a date.
Chris: My dog is my number one priority.

Of these, the $10 on a date thing would be the most worrisome to me. Seriously, $10 buys you almost nothing, and plenty of restaurants have good meal deals now for couples. (i.e. Two dinners, an appetizer and a bottle of wine for $25 to $40.) Refusing to fly is troublesome, but a reasonable fear, plus it would allow for some neat cross-country road trips. And having a love for pets? Ain't no thang!

Second Round

Chris: I don't let my girlfriends meet my parents.
Brian: I left a six-figure job to start a band.
Ray: I talk to my mom at least five times a day.

The third one is definitely the deal breaker to me, and Emily agrees with me. Woohoo! Sorry, but I'd rather have someone absent from their family (option 1) as opposed to way too into them (option 3). The band thing is concerning, but it would matter a lot to me whether the band was any good. And the mom guy is ALSO the $10 date guy, so he's really screwing the pooch.

Final Elimination Round

Brian: I dated a porn star.
Chris: My ex's eyes are tattooed on my back.

The eyes thing is definitely worse to me, since it's permanent. Chris (tat guy) even takes off his shirt, and it's worse than it seems, since the tat is HUGE, with a big dagger between the eyes! Holy smokes. She sends Chris home. This leaves us with Emily's reveal, which is one of the following three things:

- I was in a lesbian relationship for three years.
- I've served hard time.
- My heart still belongs to my ex.

She reveals that her baggage is... my heart still belongs to my ex. Brian said this would be the biggest sticking point, and it would be for me as well. But, he accepts her baggage. Personally, I wouldn't - That's a pretty big thing to be dealing with, and I prefer to start with a clean slate.

Note: I could also use a neat header for this feature. Anyone want to make me one in Photoshop or Paint? My skills with it kind of stink, so if you're game, feel free to e-mail me your design at

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Inexplicable TV Review: The Wire (will possess your television and life for a week)

Note: Significant spoilers throughout this entry.

So, I managed to steamroll through five seasons of The Wire over the past week. It's not as sad as it seems, since there are only about 12 to 13 episodes per season, as opposed to LOST, which took me a couple weeks last summer and has sprawling seasons.

However, the shows do have one important thing in common - A large ensemble cast. LOST kind of lost its way (sorry) when it started focusing more on the "stars" of the show, like Matthew Fox (even though I loved him) and Evageline Lilly (meh) and that guy who plays Sawyer (maybe someday, he'll be known by his name as opposed to his character name).

In contrast, The Wire keeps the focus spread out, and it remains fascinating through five seasons. The quality level varies from a low of "really good" (the first half of season two, most of season five) and downright incredible (all of seasons one, three and four). Because of the show's focus on a large ensemble cast, it allows for multiple interwoven stories each episode. There are always some long, multi-episode arcs, mixed up with shorter arcs that are resolved in one episode.

The large ensemble also allows for different personalities to shine through. Touching on my favorites, Lester Freamon is quite possibly one of the coolest detectives ever. All he does is solve crimes, convince a stripper to drop that lifestyle and marry him, and carve miniatures that sell for hundreds of dollars. Lucky bastard. "Cuddy" goes from drug muscle to a boxing trainer - dude looks so much like Kimbo Slice that I looked him up on IMDB to make sure it wasn't him.

If the show has a "star", it's probably Domenic West as asshole detective Jimmy McNulty. The stress of the job normally has him destroying his personal and professional relationships in order to assert his own superiority. In fact, one of the best scenes of the show's run comes in the otherwise subpar by Wire standards fifth season. McNulty has made up a serial killer in order to get the police department more resources, an outlandish plot point in an otherwise ultra realistic show. However, the FBI does a profile of the serial killer, and it matches McNulty's character 100 percent.

Let's talk about the seasons, or specifically, why two of them are sub-par. Season two takes a bit to get going - The awesome unit from the first season has been disbanded, and it takes the story a couple episodes to get them back together. However, the final half of the season is awesome, as the shipping union tries to cover up its crimes, as Ziggy finally gets thrown in jail for being an asshole, and as we learn more about The Greek and his organization.

Therefore, it's definitely the last season that is the biggest letdown. McNulty going completely insane and fixing a case seems like such an outlandish step for his character to take. Also, seeing him bed random women and what not seemed like a step backwards, into the mess of the first two seasons. I think they should have just had him and Freamon doing an illegal wire without the mess of the homeless killer. Some of the other aspects - like the financial crisis in the department, and Marlo killing at will - also fell flat to me.

However, even a bad season of The Wire is still gripping to watch, and I have to admire the bravery of the show's creators and writers to not pull any punches when it comes to the characters. Just as you're really starting to like someone - Omar, Bodie - they get shot. Marlo Stanfield, the entire reason why McNulty and Freamon become ex-police, is a free man. The show is overwhelmingly cynical, but there are jussttttt enough satisfying moments to keep you interested. You know, like when Slim Charles kills the arrogant Cheddar in the final episode, or when Michael gets the jump on Snoop and kills her. (I totally agree with Steven King's write-up of the fourth season - Snoop and Chris Partlow are terrifying modern villains.)

So yeah. The Wire is definitely the strongest start-to-finish television drama of the past 30 years, with the caveat that I still have to watch through Homicide and The Sopranos. If you haven't seen it, prepare yourself to clear out plenty of free time to watch it, since it is addictive as hell. And tomorrow will be my entry about The Baltimore Sun and its presence on the show.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Delay, delay, delay! (Or, Steve struggles with technology.)

So, I actually drew the comic today. Of course, the scanner isn't working. Sorry about that, folks. In return, I'll be doing entries about The Wire tomorrow - One focusing on its depiction of The Baltimore Sun and another about the show itself. I'm classy like that, you know.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Inexplicable Book Review: The Angel Park All-Stars (because Mormons write sweet books)

Over on the swell Literary Crap by Alison, I lamented about her recent post on The Babysitter's Club. See, as a teenage boy, I didn't really have an equivalent series to read. Except for a notable exception, most books fell into one of two categories:

1) Fantasy series that didn't have people living in the present day. I loved The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander and the Star Wars follow-up trilogy by Tim Zahn, liked The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and sludged through the archaic writing of J.R.R. Tolkien. However, while all of them had some teens and younger characters, none of them were set in the present and dealt with real issues.

2) Detective books or mysteries with loose continuity between books. Encyclopedia Brown and the Hardy Boys and R.L. Stine, I'm looking in your direction on this, and I imagine Nancy Drew had the same thing going on, although I never really read her. I like a detective story as much as anyone, but it wasn't really the same thing as a continuous series with the same characters.

The one thing I read that didn't really fall into either category was The Angel Park All-Stars, a series of fiction books about a Little League in California. I got my hands on the first installment when I was about 10, which was the perfect time for me to read about hot-shot rookie Kenny Sandoval, the new star shortstop of the team, despite his modesty.

Kenny's dad was a patient, former Major League Baseball player, and he made the team with his two best friends... who's name I can't remember. Uh, one was a big clumsy kid who played first base, and the other was a pesky little runt who didn't hit much and mostly sat the bench and played outfield. (In reflection, I could commiserate with all of them: I started my Little League career as a shitty outfielder, becoming a Doug Mientkiewicz-type first baseman, and then, oddly, moving to shortstop and second base my final year.) Some of the other players had better nicknames, like "Burner" Bunson, the hot-tempered fastball pitcher, and Jimmy "Running" Waters, nicknamed so because he always had to go to the bathroom.

The series starts with the boys making the team, and follows them as they win some games in the Little League all-star league they were apparently in. I'm guessing this was some sort of thing that happens when you live in an actual city - Once our Little League season was over in May or June, you were lucky if you played more than a couple All-Star games. Of course, they're pretty successful as a team, because otherwise how do you have a 14-book series?

Which brings me to a problem I had with it - The books were hard to find! I bought the first three when I was at a bookstore with my Aunt Maureen, if I recall correctly; she would bring me to them, since we both loved to read. I was able to get another couple from the library system, but even they only had about nine books of the series, and they weren't all sequential. To this day, I haven't read all 14, and I haven't read any of the spin-off series, Football Stars and Hoop Stars. Even eBay surprisingly doesn't have people offering all 14 books for sale, just scattered one to three book packages. There are only two copies of #14 for sale, for $7.63 and $55.48. ack!

Also, in researching this series, apparently author Dean Hughes is a big-time Mormon. His official website is either dead or down right now, but I picture him living the clean life with a super hot wife in Utah, laughing his way to the bank as he lives off his Angel Park All-Stars money, and caring naught that millions of young boys across the United States have only read a portion of his saga.

(Dear Dean, if you're reading this... Send me the entire series and all will be forgiven. Promise, buddy, pal. All pictures for this entry from Amazon listings.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Holy hell, MTV makes decent shows again?

"You're talking about a cattle
prod in your ass, Warren? Really?"

I'm sure you remember when MTV as awesome - Heck, the whole reason the Internet exists is for people to complain about how much better MTV was when they were a kid. Even now, there are microscopic cells in your sexual organs that will someday turn into your future children, and these cells already have one basic encoding: To someday, somehow dislike MTV when they mature fully.

But hey, just realize that there is finally some decent shows on the network again. I'm specifically talking about the comedies Warren The Ape and The Hard Times of RJ Berger. I mean, they're no Rock N Jock basketball with Chris Mullin, Bill Bellamy and Dan Cortese, but they're both swell shows and give me hope that the future generation will grow up with some taste.

Each episode of Warren The Ape opens up with Warren going through a therapy session with Dr. Drew, who's playing it straight. You know, even though Warren is an ape sockpuppet. However, don't let the helmet fool you - He has a dignified British accent and sophisticated tastes. (And also, hey, doesn't Judy Greer [right] clean up real nice from playing Kitty on Arrested Development?)

Well, you know, between the drugs and cheap whores. See, Warren is in rehab because his acting career is in rough shape. As a result, he finds himself in tricky situations, like trying to frame another puppet for a sex scandal so he can get a television commercial instead, or getting Greg the Bunny into trouble. It's all wonderful, subversive stuff. You can check out clips here and here.

The other show, The Hard Times of R.J. Berger, is more typical of modern MTV... but it's still funny. The trailers and commercials for the show make it seem like it'll be a slapstick show about a nerd with a huge dong. Which, to be fair, it is. However, because he is a nerd, there are some tender and sweet moments.

I will note that every woman on the show, except for R.J.'s incredibly annoying stalker, is impossibly attractive though. The ladies to the left are his girlfriend Claire [top] and his fantasy crush [bottom]. First, Noureen DeWulf (Claire) is actually 26 and a shockingly hot and busty model, considering that she is playing the nerdy Indian girl who likes comics on the show. Second, Amber Lancaster is THIRTY, and you cannot tell it in the slightest. She's playing 16 on the show, yikes!

Even RJ's mom, Beth Littleford, is very easy on the eyes, and she turns 42 on Saturday. (Happy early birthday, Beth! Uh, I still like Craig Kilborn more, even if he is a sexually-harassing jerk, but you fly too. You keep eatin' that Laughing Cow cheese, it doing you good.)

Anyway. Despite all of the foxes roaming free on the show, as "Funny" Dave Dameshek would say, its heart is in the right place. Give it a shot. The Hard Times of RJ Berger and Warren The Ape are both on Monday nights.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The duplicitous actors

Above, you see Amy Ryan from The Office. She plays the love interest of Michael Scott, and over the past couple years, she's been the best of all of his dates. You know, the sort of wacky, insane female match to his utterly insane character. However, in addition to playing Michael Scott's love interest on The Office, she also plays a harbor patrol cop in The Wire:

It reminds me of another actor, Omar Gooding. He first came up as a super colorful host of Wild and Crazy Kids:

And he progressed from that and roles on Hangin' With Mr. Cooper to being a drug-snorting nephew of Snoop Dog on the ultra-inappropriate ESPN show Playmakers:

Anyone else have some celebrity acting doppelgangers they like?

The first picture of Amy Ryan is from this site. The second picture is from here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Steinbrenner and Kill Bill connection

One of my favorite scenes of Kill Bill: Volume 2 is when Budd, Bill's drunken brother, is questioning Elle Driver in his shabby trailer. Elle has come because Bill has (apparently) killed The Bride, the trained assassin getting revenge on the crew that crossed her. Elle expresses regret that Budd, a drunken lout, has killed what is essentially her greatest rival.

Budd: So, which "R" you filled with?

Elle Driver: What?

Budd: They say the number one killer of old people is retirement. People got a job to do, they tend to live a little bit longer so they can do it. I've always figured that warriors and their enemies share the same relationship. So, now that you're not gonna have to face your enemy no more on the battlefield, which "R" you filled with? Relief … or regret?

Elle Driver: A little bit of both.

Budd: Horseshit. I'm sure you do feel a little bit of both. But I know damn well that you feel one more than you feel the other. And the question was, which one is it?

Elle Driver: [pause] Regret.

I feel somewhat similar about the passing of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. When he owned the team and handled the day-to-day operations of it, I hated the miserable old bastard. Every year, the Yankees didn't hesitate to snatch the prime free agents right out from under the Red Sox. By all accounts, he was a mean, angry bastard who demanded that his teams win, and he was twice suspended by Major League Baseball for his attempts to bend the rules to win.

However, because he was such a tyrannical figure, it made him the perfect villain and adversary. Steinbrenner was easy to hate, and ever since his sons took over the day-to-day operations of the team, the Yankees have become (dare I say?) a more respectable organization. This disappoints me as a Red Sox fan, since the ALCS victory and eventual World Series championship in 2004 - in seven games, down three games to none, against the Yankees - was the sweetest possible comeback of all-time, and Steinbrenner's gigantic presence helped.

Therefore, I'm saddened by his passing today. One of the worst things to happen to professional sports in the past 30 years to me has been the increasing corporate culture and atmosphere surrounding all of them. Sure, the analytical nature of the Red Sox has helped them to a couple World Series titles, which I'm grateful for.

However, I think that could have happened anyway without the passing of the larger-than-life figures like Steinbrenner into the mists of history. With him gone, only the NBA's Mark Cuban is left as a guy who consistently rocks the boat, although I'm hopeful that the Bond villain who bought the New Jersey Nets will contribute as well. Steinbrenner didn't give a shit about profits or payroll - that cranky old bastard wanted to win. Every sports league needs more owners like him, as opposed to billionaires who care more about sticking it to the unions.

The picture at the top comes from this site.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Getting hooked on The Wire (and McNulty and Freamon and Greggs)

Friends have been getting on me for months for not watching The Wire. I finally took the plunge last night, and immediately devoured six episodes. It is filling the hole in my viewing (and heart) LOST finally being over and done with.

Sure, it's only about eight years late. But still, it's a fascinating show because all of the various angles covered by it. Although the first season focuses mostly on the police and the police politics, there are also great scenes with the drug dealers and two addicts. The whole show is clad in layers of murky, morally ambiguous gray.

I'm trying to race through episodes as fast as I can, between work and other obligations - I'll be done with the first season in a couple days, hopefully. And at this rate, I can probably finish the show in about two weeks.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A show I'm unusually excited for - Covert Affairs

I will admit that I have had a minor crush on Piper Perabo after seeing her in my teens in Coyote Ugly. Now, the movie really wasn't what I was expecting as a 16-year-old male, but I thought she was quite pleasant in it as the cute blonde singer who has to be coerced a bit into joining a ridiculous bar where the staff dancers for money, but they're not strippers or whores. From the previews, I was expecting Cocktail minus Tom Cruise and plus hot chicks, but it wasn't horrible as far as romantic comedies go.

Note about Coyote Ugly: It has cameos from some surprising people. Johnny Knoxville in a pre-Jackass role? Alex Borstein (Lois from Family Guy and a regular on MadTV as a bidding auction lady? Tom Brady's baby-momma Bridget Moynahan? Kaitlin "Sweet Dee" Olson in a minor role???

Back on to the topic of Perabo though, she's starring in a new USA drama, Covert Affairs. It premieres Tuesday, and it looks like the perfect, breezy sort of show that USA has become known for.

Perabo plays Annie Walker, a young CIA employee that has recently been promoted to a field operative. The commercials for the show present her in a great light - She is equal parts plucky, sexy and vulnerable. Yes, I'm basing my thoughts of Perabo a lot on her appearance, but I've always thought of her as a mixture of all three based on Coyote Ugly and her appearances on late night talk shows.

Since there is the CIA element at play, one of my friends described Covert Affairs as Burn Notice with a female lead. I said that would be nice, since she can act, as opposed to the guy who plays Michael Weston. (Sorry Jeffrey Donovan, but Bruce Campbell is the only reason to watch that show now.) I'll be watching Tuesday night though, and hoping that Covert Affairs can live up to my expectations.

Steve tries to see what Mrs. McGillicuddy saw

I've been trying to get back in the swing of reading, especially since some of the blogs I like to regularly read focus on books. I'm referring mostly to Dibbly Fresh and Literary Crap, although there are others that I follow, so I apologize if I've overlooked you!

Unfortunately though, I've misplaced by library card. While I'm enough of a regular at my local library - the excellent Cross Mills in scenic Charlestown, Rhode Island - that they'll let me take books out by just using my license, it does mean that I can't put books on hold. Similar to most state library systems, in Rhode Island you can use the computer system to request books from any state library, and they'll be delivered to your local library. The system also has VHS tapes, CDs and DVDs, making it a great way to see some classic flicks as well.

So, I had to settle for grabbing a book from the stacks. While I love detective shows like Criminal Intent, I haven't read many detective stories. The only Agatha Christie book I've read before is And Then There Were None (12 Little Indians), so I checked out What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw (also known as 4.50 From Paddington). I'm only a couple chapters in, but it's interesting so far, although a bit slow-moving. Also, I'm quite pleased that everyone is so prim and proper. Smashing, really!

Anyway, I'll give a full book review when I'm finished reading. Sure, the book came out in 1957, but that's no reason to deny it a proper review! I'm also planning a future entry on the stunning revival of MTV's programming schedule, thanks to Warren The Ape and The Hard Times of R.J. Berger, and an entry on The Boondocks cartoon, and the new Loveline host Psycho Mike, and Dave Dameshek's podcast Daves of Thunder, and Columbo and Top Chef, and Justified...

... heck, I have a lot of stuff to write about.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Uh, whoops! Cartooninating.

Note: Click for full-size.

I know that my long-awaited return to drawing was supposed to happen today, but unfortunately, I lacked some foresight on this - I have no pencils! Therefore, because I don't want to compromise my high, high concept art, the strip will be delayed until next week. Try to still your rapidly beating hearts.

I will give a few hints though, and say that the dinosaur from last week's entry - the Largeasaurus - will feature prominently into the strip. Like Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, I believe there is always room for a dinosaur in everything. Even if some of them, like points out, had big manes of feathers. (Note: Be careful with that site. Like Wikipedia, I can go on sickening reading binges on Cracked. You've been warned.)

To hold you over until I get my act together, have y'all been reading Pearls Before Swine? It's probably my favorite actual comic, narrowly edging Get Fuzzy, although I have to read it online since my local paper doesn't carry it. I normally peek at this LiveJournal community, which posts the comics almost every day.

Also, because I don't waste my time on the Internet enough, I still check out Homestar Runner from time to time. Sure, most of my friends stopped visiting after the few months it was popular for us in college. But I'm still a fan. One of the better skits was Strong Bad's take on techno music, which you can watch on YouTube here. If that piques your interest, the site itself is accessed by its snazzy name here.

Friday, July 9, 2010

On small style changes and Criminal Intent

Since I'm running late tonight, y'all get a two-for-one entry! Try to hide your burgeoning affection and appreciation for this. Well, unless you're a classy, attractive lady. (hey. callll me.)

- As you may or may not have noticed, I am trying my best to get this blog in line with the features you see on most other publications. Last night, I took the plunge and added the Link Within widget to my blog. Now, all of you new readers will be able to read glorious past entries that I've done, such as surveying the late night scene, and asking Comedy Central not to suck, and about lions and dogs with sweaters in Rhode Island.

(I wonder if me writing about Linked Within will cause my blog to explode though, like a supernova caving in upon itself. It's a risk I'm willing to take.)

- In completely unrelated news, I'm kind of digging Law and Order: Criminal Intent, even though the show no longer has Bobby Goren and Eames (a.k.a. the nice lady from The Mighty Ducks 2). Those two had always been the standout characters of the show to me, followed closely by Captain James Deakins and Assistant District Attorney Ron Carver.

However, the new detectives are pretty solid and provide a new dynamic for the show. There is a bit of blatant sexual tension and flirting between Zach Nichols (Jeff Goldblum) and Serena Stevens (the foxy Saffron Burrows), which is refreshing, considering that most Law and Order shows just tease romance or portray it as an impossibility (Eames and Goren, or Benson and Stabler). Having Nichols and Stevens hook up would take the show in a bit of a new direction, which I would enjoy, as long as it didn't become the sole focus. (Special Victims Unit became unwatchable to me when it started to become more about the detective's back stories.)

Is Criminal Intent as good as the first five seasons, which had Goren, Eames, Deakins and Carver? No, but it's still good in a different way. It remains focused on weird criminals and detective stories, in grisly details, as opposed to the law quirks of the main show or the technical mumbo jumbo of a CSI or NCIS.


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