Now that is one happy cat.
January 30, 2005
Neat-o! I just found that my piece on NBC’s version of The Office has been posted at Blogcritics’ “real world” network of sites, this one specifically Cleveland.com, which exposes it, and my writing, to a much bigger audience than Blogcritics can. Especially surprising since I thought it was a pretty poor example of my writing, but if that’s what the people wants, that’s what the people gets.
January 28, 2005
You know the score, but if not: Ipod/mp3-player o’ choice, hit shuffle or equivalent, list the first 10:
1. XTC: “The Meeting Place” [Skylarking]
2. Mike Keneally & Beer For Dolphins: “I, Drum-Running, Am Clapboard Bound” [Sluggo!]
3. Ween: “Hey Fat Boy (Asshole)” [Pure Guava]
4. The Beatles: “Two of Us” [Let It Be]
5. David Bowie: “Survive” [Hours]
6. Trash Can Sinatras: “I’m Immortal” [I’ve Seen Everything]
7. Super Furry Animals: “The Teacher” [Guerrilla]
8. The Flaming Lips: “Are You A Hypnotist??” [Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots]
9. TV On The Radio: “Don’t Love You” [Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes]
10. Matt Pond PA: “Close Maps” [The Nature of Maps]
Since I skipped last week (due to laziness,) you get not 10 but twenty this week.:
11. The Beatles: “The Inner Light” [Past Masters, Vol. 2]
12. Slayer: “Mandatory Suicide” [South of Heaven]
13. Wilco: “Less Than You Think” [A Ghost is Born]
14. Joey Baron: “Mr. Pretention” [Tongue in Groove]
15. U2: “Mofo” [Pop]
16. Anthax: “Belly of the Beast” [The Greater of Two Evils]
17. Rush: “Where’s My Thing?” [Roll the Bones]
18. The Smashing Pumpkins: “Pennies” [Zero disc of The Aeroplane Flies High box]
19. El-P: “Please Leave (Yesterday)” [High Water (Mark)]
20. Tenacious D: “City Hall” [self-titled]
Oh boy. I just saw the US version of Britain’s The Office (found via Metafilter) and . . . it’s not very good. No surprise, really, but my hopes were up after seeing reports that brilliantly funny Office-creator (and actor) Ricky Gervais approved of it. There’s always a concern that memories of the original will cloud your judgement on a remake, but this just isn’t the case here – nearly everything about the US version of the Office is just plain wrong, and instead of making something genuinely unique and intriguing, they’ve just created bad TV.
When I saw that Steve Carell was involved, well, my hopes sunk a little. I like Carell a lot due to his work on The Daily Show and in smaller roles in films lately. While I find him to be one of the more gifted comic actors we have right now, he is just not right for the role of the boss. He is simply too much for this character. He’s taken it from a realistically inept boss to a slightly zany sitcom character. As for the others, well, the “Tim” character is too angsty, too apathetic, both in ways too overt to be very real feeling. The “Dawn” character, strangely, is actually the strongest of them, but, of course, she’s not the focus of the show, so that doesn’t really mean anything. The “Gareth” character is too weird . . . in a sitcom way, again . . . he doesn’t have that desperately odd quality, he’s more self-consciously weird. The biggest problem is that all of these actors look like they’re acting and not just being themselves. There are none of the nervous glances at the camera, none of the awkward silences that come with discomfort between people. When they attempt an awkward moment, such as when the boss reveals the truth about the awkward “you’re fired” joke he’s just cruelly played on his secretary, it’s played off exactly the way you’d expect to see a sitcom to do it – by extending the post-joke reaction for far too long and using it as a segue to another segment of the show. The pacing of the actors’ reactions is terrible – it’s not subtle enough to feel real, and it’s not exaggerated enough to truly be funny. They’ve made the show more sitcom-y with regards to the timing and flow, and it just ruins what worked perfectly on the original. It just does not feel like the documentary it’s trying to be. What’s the point of filming and editing it like a documentary if you aren’t going to have the actors not “act” so much?
The biggest problem outside of the pacing is that, sadly, the actors and the script in general just seem like they’re trying too hard. They tried to follow the original too closely in some places and it comes off as forced. What they didn’t follow comes off as undeveloped. That said, there was actually a few genuinely funny moments, even a couple that were not in the BBC version. However, the reports are that it’s only this first episode that stays this close to the original’s script, so maybe if they can get away from what we know worked so well on the original it can flourish. As a first-episode, this will make a terrible first impression on the uninitiated, and it will turn off fans of the original. No one will come back for more after seeing this and, unfortunately, might be even more reluctant to give the hilarious original a chance. No one wins here.
January 27, 2005
The whole turbid-water hoopla we endured for two days has managed to make it into the annals of internet stupidity: Fark. The headline there says it all: “Morons freak out when they can’t get their lattes after water contamination closes all Starbucks in Phoenix. ‘I’m desperate. I don’t even care about the water, I’ll sign a waiver.'”
January 26, 2005
Alissa and I went to the doctor today expecting only to get to hear the heartbeat, as the doctor suggested last time we saw her . . . Imagine our surprise today when, instead of just getting to hear the heartbeat we got to see our little future-baby!
This was, without a doubt, the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced. Having seen lots of those baby shows Discovery Health likes to show, I figured we’d just see some little blobby shapes sitting there – because all you ever see are static images from ultrasounds, but I was shocked when this little shaped kicked and flipped around! It’s one thing to think about something that will eventually be a baby growing and living inside Alissa, but when you see it moving around and fidgeting in its little bubble of amniotic fluid, the stunning realization hits that small as it may be (one inch long right now) it’s a little tiny person, and right in the middle of that tiny little body is a fluttering white spot that could be only one thing – a miniscule heart pumping rapidly away. There’s a relatively big head at lower left, then just up from there are two whiter areas that are vaguely stick-like in shape – those are the arms, and up at the upper right are two little stubs, which are the folded up legs. Everything the baby will have when its born is already there. The months until the end of August will be spent filling everything out and perfecting everything.
I already see a resemblance . . . it’s short and round, which pretty much sums up my description too.
January 25, 2005
I thought I was going to throw a fit when I saw that Paul Giamatti was robbed, again, of an Oscar nomination for his role in Sideways (a truly wonderful, but subtle movie that has popped into my head over and over since seeing it – it takes on greater meaning with time.) But, because I’m a little down the cold or whatever disease is passing through everyone this month, a muffled “errg!” had to suffice. This after having to turn down the new, much-wanted Adrian Belew album because the friggin’ store is gouging – they know they’re the only place in town with it. Oh yeah? We’ll see about that. I can wait a week to save a few bucks. Feel the burn of me ordering off CDUniverse, Zia Records. Oh yeah, you’re hurting now. Nevermind that I bought Archer Prewitt’s Wilderness instead.
Undoubtedly the word of the day around Phoenix has been “turbidity.” Run off from some heavy storms the past few weeks has caused our fresh water supply to become . . . messed up . . . and this word “turbidity” is being thrown around. In case you didn’t feel like clicking that link, the term refers to heavy sedimentation being stirred up in water. Gross. I liked my interpretation of the word better, which was “spinning water.” You know, “turbine,” “turbidity.” Sounds logical to me. Regardless of what it means specifically, that, in addition to two water treatment plants being offline for repairs, another offline ironically due to water damage, and one clogged up with mud from these runoffs, that leaves the entire Phoenix area with only one water treatment plant. And because it’s overloaded, and there’s turbidity going on, bacteria might manifest itself in the grossness of the water. (Read more if’n you want.)
So all day they’ve been saying “don’t drink the water, don’t bathe in the water, don’t wash your dishes in the water, don’t this, don’t that. Blah blah blah.” No water means no ice, and no ice means an unhappy me made even more unhappy because I happen to have some stupid little cold bug that’s dragging me down this week. I want water, I’m thirsty, my throat is sore and hot. I want cold, ice cold water, all the time. I want soda in nice environmentally unsound styrofoam cups with lots of ice. Instead I’m drinking soda out of the can, and after a few minutes the soda gets warm, and warm soda is almost as gross as turbidity, so I hear. So when Alissa and I got off work tonight, the first thing we did was pick up a bag of lovely crushed ice and a couple one-gallon bottles of water. And let me tell you, ice and water are wonderful things.
Now they’re saying that everything’s basically safe, but, you know, just to be on the safe side, still continue to not do the things you weren’t doing. You don’t realize how frustrating that is until you think about how often you – hopefully – use water, like simply for washing your hands after, say, going to the bathroom, or handling raw chicken. You don’t know how strong the urge was to go to our favorite pizza place for dinner tonight, but the realization that they, too, wouldn’t have ice and so we’d be drinking warm sodas that we paid for out of crappy paper cups pretty much snuffed out that idea. So chicken on the grill it was, and I was ultra careful to not get any chickeny bits on my hands so as not to have to wash them. There’s a balance there, you know – is the bacteria that could possibly be on the chicken worse than the bacteria that could possibly be in the water? This is a stressful thing to figure out when you’re just home from work starving and a bit grumpy from being sick. Of course, not too much later it was announced that the water had continued to test negative for any dangerous lifeforms, but to be on the safe side continue being careful with water – but it was now safe to wash dishes, take showers, etc. At this point, it all began to seem a little ridiculous, because, since our dishes and utensil would ultimately end up touching food we would eat, the water can’t be too dangerous a risk at this point.
I’m pretty sure that Simon and Garfunkle originally wrote their famous song as “Bridge over Turbid Waters,” but confusion arose as to what, exactly, “turbid waters” really were, and they decided to just simplify with the more enigmatic “troubled waters.”