Archive for December, 2009

Curveballs and Reality

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

I’m not big on spoilers, so don’t worry.  I’m just going to be talking in generalities here.  I only watch a few reality shows anyway.  I love Top Chef, I used to watch every episode of every Survivor, and I love the Amazing Race.  What I don’t need are the curveballs.

Have you ever played poker with wild cards?  You take a game where luck plays a part anyway, and then you trade off a big chunk of skill for even more luck.  That’s what all these reality shows eventually do.  I don’t know if they’ve lost confidence in the same formula that had me hooked for the previous four seasons or what.  I can’t even name all the changes Survivor’s made over the years.  The hidden immunity idol is a big one.  Isolation Island.  Trade in your buffs.  Wait, uh, no, uh, trade in your buffs again.  Hey, welcome to the island, yeah, but yep, two of you suckers go home ’cause you weren’t picked and uh, trade in your buffs, and wanna know what you’re playing for?  Actually, I love that last one.

It’s not enough that these shows purposely pick morons and non-athletes, but they have to junk it up with changes.  The Amazing Race was great, until the producers got involved.  Uchenna and Joyce beat Rob and Amber because an airplane came back to the gate.  It drove back to the gate to pick up a couple of late arrivers.  Then they started adding in Yields and whatnot.

The only show that does it anywhere close to right is Top Chef.  There only real curveball is, “Hey, you’ve got to cook more.”

“What another course?”

“Oh, yeah.  You have to cook more.  More than you thought you would.”

Just don’t tease me with the winner Top Chef.  Don’t tell me is not the Top Chef.  Don’t say a name as if they’re the winner and then send them home when they’re standing next to two other contestants in the final episode.  My four seconds of suspense aren’t worth ripping someone’s heart of their chest for.  That’s low, man.  Low.

Committed

Monday, December 21st, 2009

You have to be committed to every joke you tell.  More than half the comedy of a joke is in the delivery, so you can’t falter, you can’t waver, you have to stand and deliver.  The thing is, when you’re committed to a terrible joke, you just make me angry.

Saturday Night Live had a special last week called A Very Gilly Christmas.  What they did was take a bunch of classic holiday sketches, pepper them with some okay new ones, and then wrap it all up in this totally irrelevant, ridiculous, substance-less crap about the frizzy-haired, say-nothing Gilly character.  Instead of finding coal inside your stocking, it was like a stocking made of coal, so that no matter what was inside the stocking it was now covered in coal dust and totally ruined.  Don’t watch it.  Don’t even think about this special after this post.  Buy, or Netflix, or Red-Box, or rent the SNL Christmas special on DVD.  Minus Gilly.

And it’s not that I don’t like comittment.  (Ladies.)  But, don’t forget, I’m comitting to you as well.  You’ve got to earn my commitment.  (Ladies.)  Like Family Guy, for instance.  Last Sunday they had this episode where Lois’s Dad dresses up like a Swamp Monster to chase Peter from his company.  But then, another Swamp Monster shows up.  Right then, I turn to my friend, Kevin, and say, “Oh, two swamp monsters.  Well, start your timer.”  He didn’t laugh.  But he wasn’t laughing for the next forty minutes either while this Swamp Monster chased around Lois and her dad.  Family Guy really takes some bad jokes, too far.  But they take all their good jokes that far, too.  They are committed, and they’ve earned the right to do so.

SNL on the other hand?  They lost the right.  SNL has been bad.  Real bad.  I know there’s talent out there, I just don’t know why they can’t find it.  We should all just watch 30 Rock instead (which hasn’t been as good this year either, but they’ve definitely earned my committment).

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

I have just enrolled for improv classes at Chicago’s Second City.   At 10am on January 9th, I will be starting down a path that will make me fair game for all the people I will inevitably insult through this website (though their work has probably insulted me first).  Wish me luck, or break a leg.  If you haven’t already.

The Reporter Type

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Since when did America value homogeneity over individualism?  Where did reporters get the idea that we want our news read to us by a caricature instead of a person?  I was watching Comcast sports and the Chicago Bulls reporter was making a worthless report about nothing.  So I was sitting there by myself, but I had to make fun of this guy.  Out loud.  As he signed off, I talked over him, saying, “It’s comforting.  To have a reporter. Who sounds, like a reporter.”

He was bad.  Nobody talks like that.  And then there’s the ladies that whistle all their ‘S’s’ so instead of sounding like an ‘S’, they shound shimilar to a ‘Sh’.  They kill me, too.  They’re trying to be so eager and professional (all ‘they’, not just the women), the way they stare into the lens and nod at the camera for emphasis.  They’re trying to be ultra professional but come off as pretentious.  And there’s a time and a place for professionalism, right?  The local guys on Sports Radio get it.  It’s not like they can’t add a little gravitas to their program for the sad stories, like Chris Henry, but they talk to people, not at them.  Those reporter-types, the reporter stereotype.  You can keep it.

Bart’s People

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

I don’t watch local news, the reporters are too reportersey and the stories are more depressing than a Jewel 10-cent sale commercial.  Actually, as much as I read, hardly any of it’s news.  I’m one of those people who scans headlines in a non-personalized Google News and closes down the browser if the articles I try to read load too slow.

But, with all this against me, I read an article today that I loved.  Two teenagers found a baby on a doorstep on their way home from buying cigarettes about 20 years ago and now that baby girl is in college and she Friend Requested her saviors on Facebook the other day.  Here’s a link to the story from the Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2009/12/16/ST2009121604383.html?sid=ST2009121604383

One of the cool things is that, while it’s a 4 page article, the writer wraps everything up at the end of the first page.  This is a guy that really gets the internet, you know?  He’s like, well, there are three more great pages, but if you’re just too impatient, I’ll leave you with a cozy conclusion so you can feel like you’ve accomplished something today.

And this all reminded me of that great Simpsons episode where Bart gets on Kent Brockman’s station and starts the Bart’s People segment where he puts up empty, heartwarming filler on the evening news.  I would have been a sucker for Bart’s People.

The Moonwalk is Hard

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

I feel like I’m getting a hang of this Moonwalking thing.  When Michael Jackson died, my younger brother Justin called me three times just to tell me to watch the YouTube clip of Michael doing Billie Jean at Motown’s 25th Anniversary.  Talk about a star at their absolute peak, just amazing.  He nails the Moonwalk, twice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATo833rP6OU

I don’t have a rhinestone glove, but I do have an internet connection.  I Googled, “How to Moonwalk,” the other day and now that I’ve got the principles down, I think I can really do this.  Plus, I have hardwood floors in my apartment and all I have to do is throw on a pair of socks to get a good practice surface.  The only thing is, I spilled 90% of a Dunkin’ Donuts large coffee in my room yesterday (yeah, coffee in my bedroom) and instead of making the floor sticky it  turned it into an ice rink.  Dangerous conditions for any Moonwalker.