Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fang’s very very bad, no good day

It’s been so long since I’ve sat down to write a blog, I’ve forgotten how to even begin. Let’s see if I can remember… uhmmm... “That goddamned W, just today he…”

Yeah, now it’s all coming back.

Only today, it wasn’t W that stuck it to me, though. (Not that I know of, anyhow...) It was a wide-ranging assortment of disappointments, set-backs and unpleasant surprises, both big and small.

First, the Man Cub is laid up with his first serious stomach flu, has been for four days now. Puke, puke, puke, everything is puke. He can’t keep anything down, so he doesn’t want to take anything in. Crackers and small quantities of milk seem to stay down, everything else is just in gastronomical limbo, waiting to be stinkified then re-released back into the world.

I’ve been lucky in terms of not getting any directly on me (if by lucky you mean having lightening-like reflexes as well as a Tupperware bowl nearby specifically to catch any hurl that might occur), but The Missus, the carpet in my office, the new used car – everything but me that doesn’t move has been honked on in the last few days.

Tonight, I had a ticket to Neil Young’s annual Bridge School benefit show for autistic kids up in NorCal – to make it, I woulda had to have hit the road by 2pm. At 2pm, we were at the emergency care facility in the Big City down the road being told by the latest in a long line of bored medical professionals that what our child had was nothing to worry about and would pass in its own time. Gee thanks, Mister Wizard!

But it wasn’t just a Neil Young show I missed – it also included an eclectic collection of artists including Metallica, Eddie Vedder and (sob!) Tom Waits, too. I didn’t used to think there was anything that could keep me from a Tom Waits performance that I had tickets to, but parental panic is a motherfucker of a priority rearranger.

So since the concert of a lifetime had just been squashed like a bug in front of my eyes, we decided to go monitor shopping. We’re buying a new Mac laptop because my principal employer wants to me to use an application upgrade that my current laptop doesn’t have the processing power to run. So we gotta make the leap. We deliberately waited till Apple launched their new operating system last night, so our new investment would ship with the latest OS. It all makes so much sense on paper, doesn’t it?

Anyhow, the new lower-end of the line of Mac laptops that we can afford, the monitors are short and wide – they’re like a stick of wood, a 2x4, a surfboard for leprechauns (see doctored photo, inset). I make broadsheet newspapers on my computer – the new widescreen 13 and 15-inch slivers of screenspace would be a disaster for me. Thus, we ended up having to go monitor shopping.

Which actually went well. Found an Acer 22” widescreen that is just awesome and clearance-sale priced. Saved a bundle and got me a bigger monitor than either one of us thought was in our price range.

Before that, though, we had lunch. Lunch, then monitor-shopping with our sick 2-year-old in tow. What could possibly go wrong? By the time we were backing out of the box store parking lot with the new monitor safely in the trunk, the boy was making with the spew again in the back seat. I will spare you the gory details mainly because I don’t want to have to think about them anymore. He had a little bit of everything for lunch, though…

So we get home and I’m depressed as all hell about missing the Neil/Tom show, a little less worried about the boy in spite of his most recent Technicolor yawn, and psyched about my new kick-ass monitor.

After putting the woman and the boy to bed for their afternoon naps, I sit down at my 3-year-old iBook G4 to finish my weekend’s regularly-scheduled crushing workload, and suddenly stuff isn’t working. Haven’t even hooked up the new monitor, haven’t changed anything. I decide to restart, after all it’s been a few days. These old puppies get tired, and it only needs to last me another couple of weeks till we order the new hardware from Apple.

Computer restarts, and suddenly, the “Classic” environment isn’t working at all. Just plain won’t start. I build all my papers in the classic version of Quark. Panic. Wait, I have an uninstalled copy of Quark 6 for OSX that’s quirky, but it should let me open the existing Quark docs and work on them. I try to install Quark 6, and OH HAPPY DAY, my computer no longer recognizes me as the administrator, and informs me I don’t have the privileges necessary to install new applications.

Right back to panic. I drag The Missus in and she creates another user identity, complete with admin privileges, and we can’t install new software from that either. I’m totally, completely fucked. Except I’m not, because I have an even older Mac that is still OS9 native and completely not connected to the internet. Not wired in, no wi-fi, and it still runs my shitty older version of Quark. So now I’m doomed to at least a week of splitting up the various facets of my work over two computers, and swapping files endlessly back and forth via a Firewire external hard drive that has to be manually unplugged from one machine and plugged back into the other. Like my job isn’t front-loaded with enough time-wasting redundancies already.

I immediately develop my “Evil Pulse Theory,” which is basically that when Apple launched its new OS last night, it generated an Evil Pulse (via the internet) that disabled “Classic” mode on any computer running it from within OSX. A contention buttressed by the fact that one of the caveats of the new operating system is that, on it, the Classic environment will no longer run. Also supporting the Evil Pulse theory, the one computer that didn’t get all fucked up between last night and this afternoon is the one that’s completely disconnected from the internet.

But that only explains my inability to run Classic versions of apps. Why the fuck doesn’t this piece of shit recognize me as “admin” any more? Something is very wrong in MacLand, and I’m beginning to feel like a fool for not taking up my employers’ offer to buy me a PC for my home office.

I say “fuck it,” let’s order the new laptop NOW, online, and get it here asap. Once we do that, we’ll have all kinds of access to Mac Support that we don’t right now. So we do. Order it right up with all the bells and whistles we can afford and tell them to ship it in the next 24 hours. Time is crucial. Gawd, this set-up is unwieldy and this week is gonna suuuuck.

In what I hope is the final twist of the knife today… our piece-of-shit credit union just called up to verify our Apple purchase; of course, The Missus is on a Target run for Pedialyte for the boy and my name isn’t on the card she used to buy the goddamned computer, so my tech salvation may have just been put off a couple more days till the local credit union office opens Monday.

And The Man Cub hasn’t gone to bed yet, so there could still be more puke. And I’m a day behind on my work and I missed a Tom Waits show I had tickets to and we have to miss The Last Boy Scout’s kiddie Halloween party tomorrow and I’m not sure if the boy will be well enough to go to day care Monday which is an insanely busy day when all my tech isn’t in full revolt and my son isn’t sick.

I have a sinking feeling there will almost certainly be at least a few more very very bad, no good days in store for me before the next Good one.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Best Thing I'll Ever Do:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Let the eagle soar!

Just caught this headline on Can Colbert actually get on the ballot?

(It’s on their “ticker” page which is constantly updating or I’d provide a link.)

The lead paragraph reads:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — He made a splash with a surprise presidential announcement Tuesday, but can Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert actually get on the primary ballots in South Carolina?

And then it goes on into financial stuff and practical issues and ZZZzzzzzzz, but it occurs to me – if Colbert can milk this gag long enough, he just might be able to make an impact on whoever he throws his support to at the last minute, after some elaborately-staged excuse to withdraw.

Plus, can you imagine if he manages to actually get into any of the South Carolina debates? I think Colbert might be able to generate the kind of numbers to make that happen. Besides being likely terrific TV, what would that say about our country’s continuing troubled experiment in democracy? The fact that the basic-cable TV host playing an ironic character is making more sense than anyone else on a presidential debate stage?

The mind reels, but so far I’m enjoying the ride.

Caption Contest!

(Posted here only because Mark had to pull his blog down because he’s looking for a job)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

“I’M Spartacus!”

The Missus went back to one of her Alma Maters in the Midwest for four days this week to a college reunion thingie, leaving me in sole charge of the one item we both care equally about – The Boy. I’ve never soloed for four days before, and was certain I was not going to be up to the task.

The first couple days were easy, as he spent most of them at daycare. The weekend worried me though, as that’s kinda the peak of my work week. Even after we booked a sitter for half the day (a miracle of its own), I was filled with a creeping dread that I would fuck everything up after she left and he would learn what a fraud I am, parenting-wise, and hate me forever.

Instead, The Man Cub and I had a blast today. Very little time was spent bending to his will (unless you count book readings, but I’m thinking mainly of his beloved arts&crafts stuff which I hate); instead he followed me around and drew at my side while I worked, and danced and drew some more, then we watched part of the first new “Star Wars” film on HBO, with the little kid actor and all the CGI-muppets and the pod race (which dazzled his tiny reptile brain!) and danced and drew some more. He didn’t each much dinner though, so after dinner I sat down with some crackers, and he wanted some of those. Then I sat down with some grapes and he wanted a lot of them, then he wanted some of my York Peppermint Patty... I’m sure it’s not the most nutritious meal he’ll ever eat, but at least he finally ate something. Breakfast and lunch efforts bore little fruit, eating-wise.

Oh yeah, he also has a single Sharpie dimple in the exact middle of his chin. I’m waiting till after I can shoot it in morning light before I try to scrub it away. It looks fairly hilarious. “I’m Spartacus!”

Tomorrow I’m going to take him to Safeway and get one of their already-cooked chickens, which so far have never failed to meet with his culinary approval. Gonna get come Green Giant corn and we’ll finish off the Ruffles and we’ll have a feast fit for kings before I put him down for his nap, watch my taped Sunday morning news shows and finish the rest of my work before we go pick The Missus up in the afternoon. From here, everything looks good.

He’s a different animal at night. The explosion of energy just before the big crash (“Dancing, Daddy, dancing!”), the complicated negotiations regarding horsies [ManCubspeak for his pajamas with horses on them] (”No horsies Daddy.”) and bunnies [his stuffed crib companion] (“Bunny? ...[thinking about it]... No, no bunny...”). The little thing he said that I couldn’t make out after I had tucked him in and was creeping out of the room... Really, I’ve had a great time since The Sitter left. I’m sure at least some of it was due to the fact that I’m so caught up on work obligations, it freed me up to really be In The Moment and check the boy out like I haven’t had the opportunity to in too long a time. And of course, The Sitter was totally charmed. At one point when she was here, he was getting agitated wanting something and not being able to articulate it. So I gave him my hand and said, “Show me what you want. Take me there.” And he took my finger and led me right to the cough medicine I had just been saying it sounded like he needed, then pointed to it. We’ve gotta be careful. He understands more than he’s letting on!

Anyhow, I was skeered this weekend was going to be a horrible nightmare, but not so! and I think it’s all gonna be gravy till The Missus returns tomorrow and reassumes the primary parental responsibilities.

Because even though I did better this weekend than I expected to, I’d be the first to admit I’m no Spartacus. I’m just her wing-man.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

In Defense of Government-Funded and –Run Programs

I don’t know anything about this S-CHIP health care coverage for kids legislation that Dumbleyou is about to veto except that all the right people are for it and all the wrong people are against it. Starting with President Bush, author or facilitator of most of the country’s bad ideas since he got the job.

I mean, come on… it’s about insuring kids whose folks can’t afford medical insurance because medical insurance is crazy expensive. What kind of fucked-up political calculation could drive a person to vote against that? Jesus, even the Human Political Calculator, Hillary Clinton, voted for it.

The government mandates we insure our cars, but not our kids. You suppose that’s because the Insurance Lobby throws a lot more cash at Washington lawmakers than the Lemonade Stand Lobby does? But I digress...

W’s ostensible argument is that he doesn’t want “the government” to run health care because he doesn’t trust the government to run anything without creating graft-generating, Orwellian bureaucracies. It’s the classic Conservative small-government argument but it’s occurred to me recently…

Isn’t his beloved military a government-funded and –run program? How can you make a blanket assertion about government-funded and –run programs while you’re constantly throwing laurel leaves at one of the biggest, most expensive ones there is? The argument’s inherent inconsistency reveals its total bogusness!

Speaking of bogusness, isn’t his own administration a government-funded and –run program? Who pays his salary? We do! For that matter, isn’t his stacked Supreme Court a government-funded and –run program? I don’t hear him belly-aching about funding the Supreme Court. What about the post office? I can move physical property 3,000 miles across the country for less than 50¢ by dropping it in a box on a street corner in my home town and count on it to get where I want it to go almost every time.

That’s a pretty fucking efficient government-funded and –run program. Of course, none of W’s cronies are in positions of authority at the post office. Hmmmm…

We don’t have to run the SCHIP program like we run FEMA. We can run it like the post office and have a lot less poor kids forced to wait till they become critically ill using the local E.R. as their primary physician.

As usual, Bush is wrong on tactical, fiscal and ethical grounds. What a fuck-up.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I Love “Life” (the new TV show, not mine per se)

Attention shut-ins and people without lives: The new network TV season is here, that magical time of year when a thousand awful new shows are launched. I usually like to sample around the first few weeks; every once in a while, you get rewarded for it. I watched “Lost” since the first episode, for example. Caught every episode of Michael Madsen’s “Vengeance Unlimited” till those craven creeps over at ABC cancelled it. More often than not, most seasons I’m rewarded with a crapfest of shows that can quickly be dismissed. And this season is mostly crapfest, or average shows that don’t suck but also don’t merit 30 or 60 minutes of my life every week.

Since I’m writing this to kill time while I wait for work-related materials to make their way to me, I’ll grab my copy of TV Guide and cover the new offerings on a night-by-night basis. The only real ground rule I have for sampling new shows is no reality shows. My life is already passing me by, I don’t need to waste more of it watching other peoples’ pass them by too. Also, I tend to avoid sitcoms because I can’t deal with laughtracks. It’s surprising to me how many shows I liked as a kid that I can’t bear to watch now for the canned laughter.

These are only the shows that I’ve sampled and/or have an opinion about. There’s plenty of crap out there I’m not even giving the benefit of a first glance. I don’t think anyone I know watches TV anyhow. Fuck it.

Well, Sunday night TV-viewing lost all meaning when “Big Love” went on another extended hiatus recently. “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill” are back, which is cool, especially in the case of “King...” It’s one of the best-written, most keenly-observed comedy-dramas out there. It pokes fun at its characters’ buffoonery without making buffoons of them. That’s writin’. As opposed to, say, “Family Man” and “American Dad” which follow on Fox. Man, did I give those shows the benefit of the doubt for a long time. I wanted to like them real bad, but no go. They’re like cartoon versions of the old Vaudeville comedians who used to bounce out on stage and tell 30 rambling, unconnected jokes in ten minutes then get off the stage for the fan dancer, who everybody had come to see anyhow. That ain’t writin’, that’s attention-deficit-disorder.

I just discovered “Curb Your Enthusiasm” over on HBO which we can’t afford and shouldn’t be splurging on between seasons of “Big Love” and “The Wire,” but I digress. “Curb…” is like Seinfeld As Grownups. If Jerry and the Gang had grown up, moved to LA and gotten wealthy in the entertainment biz, it would be this show. I haven’t seen this kind of squirm-inducing comedy as skillfully executed since “Arrested Development” went off the air. Good stuff. And now I have a bunch of back seasons to plumb!

I feel like I should give “Shark” another try (can’t believe it was picked up for a second season), just because of how much I love James Woods, but in its freshman year, the first two episodes were awful, so I bailed. Overwritten, over-acted, over-everything. It was just BAD.

Finally, “Dexter” is back for season two. I recently ran through season one on DVD and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The first episode almost sunk it for me, it was so gory. It was gross, and if the subsequent episodes had proved to be equally repellent, I woulda bailed on it right quick. I’m glad I didn’t. The gay brother from “Six Feet Under” plays a medical examiner by day, serial killer by night. And of course he only kills his fellow serial killers. Whatever. I’ll bet it was still a hard premise to sell. Anyhow, the first season is a pretty cool rental, where they kind of introduce you to Dexter and his world, his backstory. Season two, based on the first episode, seems to be setting in motion about a dozen subplots, all of which place the eponymous hero in active jeopardy. It looks like it’s gonna be a pretty great season, but I only saw the second season premiere because Showtime gave away a free weekend last weekend. Showtime we don’t splurge for.

First, a returning show, “Prison Break.” I saw season one on DVD and thought, well, good show but now they’re out of prison, the titular break has come and gone, so I did the same. I bailed on season two till I caught up with it recently on DVD, and was surprised at how much improved it was from season one. For instance, I kept thinking how much better it was than last season’s “24,” which we steadfastly allocated valuable TV time to for 24 tedious weeks. “Prison Break” is totally the kind of show that works best in 2-3 episode blasts, and you just can’t do that till it comes out on DVD. In spite of which, it’s one of the few shows to make the new To-View To-Do List. Caveat: I would be remiss if I were to fail to mention that the star of “Prison Break,” one Wentworth Miller, can’t act. His range runs from the gamut from glower all the way to grimace. I suppose he’s a handsome bloke, but he’s such a leaden presence I can’t see how it could matter. Fortunately, he’s part of a big enough ensemble that he’s rarely counted on to carry scenes by himself. He’s more a reactor than actor. I can imagine his creative process goes something like this: “Uh, let’s see… glower or grimace? Shit, which did I do last time?... Uh oh, that old guy’s yelling ‘cut’ again…”

NBC starts their night with “Chuck,” a slight action/comedy with a likeable lead about a computer geek who accidentallly downloads every national security secret into his brain, making him a person of very great interest to agents of both the NSA and the CIA. Liked the show okay, but I’ll probably pass. Might tape it and watch it while I work. NBC ends the night with “Journeyman,” which seems to be making a hash out of what could have been a cool time-travel conceit. The lead (who I liked just fine in HBO’s “Rome”) is miscast and the writing is lazy. Pass.

This brings us to “Heroes.” This is a show that I should like a lot more than I do. It’s all about superheroes, and so am I. A+ production values, some engaging performances, but where this show suffers is the writing. The plotting is cool; the overall storyline is great. But the episode writing is like General Hospital with super-powers. Everything is exposition and spelled out and repeated then there’s an action beat, then back to re-repeating rehashed exposition. Fuck! Here’s an example. In this week’s show, they’re following two new characters, a male and female Hispanic trying to get into America on the sneak. At one point, they meet character #3, who says, [paraphrased here] “Oh, I haven’t seen you in forever! The last time I saw you you were being born, first you so-and-so, then a moment later, you, the-other-new-character!” I thought, oh hey, they’re twins. Well, that’s cool they didn’t spell it out in neon letters ten feet tall. A few scenes later, these characters are back, and another character greets them with this line: “Twins!” See what I mean? The writing is dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, and it seems to be working in the ratings. Nor is it keeping me from watching, but it is keeping me consistently disappointed between the action scenes.

The Missus likes “Weeds,” but we don’t have Showtime any more.

Haven’t seen “Cavemen,” can’t help you there. We’ll see if it survives. I just don’t like the idea on principle. If we start turning TV commercials into TV shows, the mind boggles at what we could be in for. God I hope “Cavemen” bites it.

Been watching “Damages” over on FX. Don’t really care for Glenn Close’s performance in it, but Ted Danson’s turn as a Ken Lay-type corporate malefactor is a revelation. It came on when nothing else was on this summer, and it got me hooked.

The only new Tuesday show I’ve sampled is “Reaper” on the CW, starring another likeable young actor whose computer-geek protagonist is suddenly thrust into the life of an action adventure hero through unlikely circumstances. It also had a very zippy pilot directed by “Clerks’” Kevin Smith, and an ongoing star turn by Ray Wise of “Twin Peaks” and “West Side Story.” This one’s on the bubble for me. It’s another one I’ll probably tape and “watch” while I work.

“Boston Legal” is back, and despite its storylines and shenanigans by now being predictable as hell, is held together by star performances from the likes of Bill Shatner, Candy Bergin, James Spader and now John Laroquette. Episodes also usually include at last one left-wing rant closing-argument that wins an impossible court case essentially by jury nullification. I’ve also stuck around for the episode-ending scenes where Shatner’s character and Spader’s sit together on a balcony, smoking cigars and being friends. “Boston Legal” is, at its heart, a love story between Shatner’s character and Spader’s, and that’s not predictable.

We also usually watch “House,” not for the Medical Drama of it – every week, they school us on some new medical horror with which we had previously been blissfully unfamiliar; BFD – but for the lead performance. That British dude playing House is pretty good at being an American asshole! Also easy to watch while I work, since it’s mostly dialogue.

This fucking post is getting way too long. I feel brevity coming on…

“South Park” is back with new episodes. ’Nuff said.

NBC’s new “Bionic Woman” reboot seems to want to be “Alias” with super-powers. Thanks to last year’s runaway success of “Heroes,” (see diss, above) almost every new action/adventure show this season features someone/some people with a super power or two. No show will benefit as much from this trend as Thursday night’s “Smallville,” but I’m getting ahead of myself in my eagerness to wrap this up.

“Bionic Woman” works the reluctant-hero working for a shadowy black-ops organization theme competently, and gets points for casting; anything with Miguel Ferrer (“Twin Peaks,” “Robocop”) in it gets a closer look from me. And the members of the “Battlestar Galactica” rep company appearing herein (most notably the kick-ass blond chick who plays Starbuck on BSG and the ‘first’ bionic woman here) are welcome familiar faces inbetween seasons of the sci-fi soap opera. On the other hand, I don’t know why they’d give gay-bashing thespian Isaiah Washington a new TV home. There’s got to be a lot of actors in Hollywood who haven’t shoved their foot in their mouths as often as this guy has lately. Ultimately, I’ll bail on this one and probably catch it on DVD if it goes the distance. Right now, it’s just one more middling action/adventure show. With super-powers.

“Pushing Daisies” on ABC had a very well-crafted pilot from the creator of “Wonderfalls,” but I bet Barry Sonnenfeld (the “Addams Family” movies, “Men In Black,” “Get Shorty”) isn’t going to be shooting every episode after the pilot. Another show about a guy with a (yawn) super-power, this one involving raising the dead for 60 seconds each, has an appealing cast and a flexible premise, but again, doesn’t look like it’s going to become appointment (or even TiVo) television. Too much “Wonderfalls” whimsy and not enough “Men In Black” pizzazz.

This brings us, at loooong last, to the season’s best new show, “Life” on NBC. Starring Damian Lewis of HBO’s magnificent mini “Band of Brothers” as a hero cop unjustly imprisoned for 12 years before being cleared by DNA evidence, this show gets along on insightful writing and the lead performance of Mr. Lewis. Like “Monk” and “House,” plot is not the point here. In both episodes I’ve screened so far, I’ve figured out “Who Done It” by the first commercial break. Like “Monk” and “House,” this series stands tall on the shoulders of the nuanced, charismatic performance of its lead actor. Of all the new shows I’ve sampled this season, “Life” is the one I’ll go out of my way to watch every week. And as far as plot goes, it looks like it’s taking a page from the successful serialized dramas of the past few years (“Lost,” “Heroes,” “Prison Break” etc.) in presenting fully self-contained individual episodes while working a season-long storyline where Mr. Lewis’ character pursues the frame-up that sent him to jail in the first place. Now if only Mr. Monk could nail the bastards who took his beloved Trudy from him…

Thank god that brings us to Thursdays, the last night of the week the nets are making an effort to draw in new viewers.

“Law & Order, Criminal Intent” has been relegated to NBC’s basic cable red-headed stepchild USA Network for its first-run episodes this season, which is half a crying shame. Another show anchored by an amazing star turn, this time by Vincent D’Onofrio (also from “Men In Black,” as well as “Full Metal Jacket”), the show now alternates weeks with episodes led by Chris Noth as some other detective. I wish I could figure out how to TiVo just the Vinnie D’Onofrio episodes, but it looks like I’m going to have to try to remember to videotape this one old-school every other week. Mr. D’Onofrio is just that good. The episodes without him could be any cop show ever.

“Mad Men” on AMC is drawing raves from every corner, but I just can’t watch AMC since they went commercial-supported. It’s a principled stand, which like most principled stands, means I’m cutting off my nose to spite my face. Just the same, I’ll wait for the DVD to catch up on the alleged wonderfulness sans commercial interruptions.

Several former favorites are back (“My Name Is Earl,” “Without a Trace,” “30 Rock”) but constraints on my free time being what they are, I’m gonna have to wait to catch them in repeats in my dotage.

The most promising returning Thursday night show is CW’s “Smallville,” which for the past couple seasons has been hit-or-miss for me. Whenever Lana Lang appears on screen, I am overcome with the overwhelming urge to go to sleep. It was best in its early seasons when the focus was on the relationship of future arch-nemeses Clark Kent and Lex Luthor. Like “Boston Legal,” it was kind of a love story between two men; a star-crossed (literally) love story every comic book fanboy knows is destined for failure. Those days are gone, alas, as Lex begins to explore his dark side and Clark his extraterrestrial heritage. The show was also hamstrung by a “no flights, no tights” rule in its early years, which thanks to “Heroes,” appears to have been abandoned this season. Maybe this is the year Clark stops being such a doe-eyed pussy and starts bringing on the super. Already, we’ve been introduced to his mega-hot Kryptonian cousin Kara (above, left) played by some chick apparently pre-fabbed by the same genetics-engineering organization that supplied the late WB network with all its ersatz teen leads, who is definitely into both flights and tights. I think the show is finally ready to take Clark Kent from super-boy to Superman, and it’s about damn time.

And since the nets have totally given up on Saturday nights (apparently even shut-ins and people without lives have better things to do than watch TV on Saturday nights – video bingo, anyone?), that brings us to Friday:

This one is easy: Bill Maher on HBO. I don’t know how much extra we pay for HBO every month, but until the new season of “The Wire” debuts in January, Bill Maher is the only reason why we do. Great writing, great guests, and every show Maher skewers the same bullshit that has been pissing me off about politics that week. It often seems like he’s read my blog beforehand, then rewritten it better and put it on TV.

Otherwise, Friday night is a dumping ground for family-oriented swill and bottom-feeding franchises like “Las Vegas” and “Ghost Whisperer.” I may have to Netflix “Friday Night Lights”’ first season, just to see what I’m missing, but for now, there’s nothing but Bill Maher to recommend watching on Friday nights.

And that, happily, brings us to the end of the least significant, most casually researched post (note the complete lack of links, or even in most cases, the names of the talent involved) it’s ever been my unpleasant duty to pinch out. Maybe next season, I’ll only review it if there’s more than one new show worthy of my ever-shortening attention-span.

Bottom line: Make sure to check out “Life” on NBC on Wednesdays before the Suits and the numbers-crunchers have their say and kill it in its crib.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Why I still love Bill Clinton

(Besides the fact that he gets to hang out with Bono and Nelson Mandela…)

Put simply, he still enunciates what I believe as well as or better than I could.

He did the Sunday morning news shows last weekend, ostensibly to do P.R. for his new tome “Giving.” (Getting published is the easiest thing in the world if you’re an ex-president. I’ll bet even Dumbleyou releases a ghost-written memoir of his years as master of all time, space and dimension after he is escorted out of office by a grateful populace in January, 2009.)

Of course Mr. Clinton’s book-tour stop was only the window dressing; he was there to campaign for his wife. That’s what politicians do, especially politicians as adroit as former president Clinton. Fish gotta swim, ducks gotta quack…

Anyhow, I forget which show it was – it was either Tim Russert on Meet The Press or former aide George Stephanopolis on ABC – that hit him with the now-famous torture question and answer from the last Democratic debate, when Russert told the candidates about a former Meet The Press guest’s endorsement of torture as a means of ‘intelligence-gathering’ in a ticking-clock, Jack Bauer-type scenario, then asked Hillary if she agreed with it. After Mrs. Clinton carefully outlined an anti-torture position contrary to the example set forth, Russert hit her with his “gotcha” moment – the Meet The Press guest had been her husband, Bill Clinton!

She responded with the signature sound-byte of that debate, “Well, he’s not the one standing up here.” Booya! I don’t know if the response was off-the-cuff or if she’d had it waiting for the right opportunity to unveil, but she nailed it. She looked smart and tough and not beholding to anyone else’s opinion, not even her former-president husband’s.

It was a great moment of political theater, but not what I sat down to write about.

Last Sunday the TV interviewer played Mr. Clinton the clip, then asked him to clarify his position on torture as American Intelligence policy. And I thought the answer he gave nailed it; ie, it conformed precisely to my own long-held opinion on the subject.

He said that the policy of the United States government must always be no-wiggle-room anti-torture, and he checked off the list of reasons why. But then he said, in the face of an imminent-annihilation-scenario such as Russert had laid out for him on Meet The Press, if an agent in the field makes the decision that torture is the only chance to extract vital information in the compromised timeframe outlined, then that agent must proceed knowing that if he or she (let’s not forget Sydney Bristow!) is successful in extracting the information and averting the catastrophe, he or she will be held to full legal account of their extra-legal actions in defense of the country.

Nailed it! The government must not condone or endorse torture, but if it’s really, absolutely the last card in the deck, and if an agent in the field proceeds with torture as a last resort, he or she must do so in the knowledge that he or she is committing a crime and – should western civilization as we know it survive – be expected to be held to account to for it afterwards.

It was masterstroke of triangualtion. He took neither his former position nor Hillary’s current one, and offered an explanation that embraced them both. It gave me damn goosebumps, and not just because he was saying on TV what I have privately believed all along. After suffering though the embarrassingly unintelligible sentence constructions of so many recent Dumbleyou press conferences, and with grim memories of the marble-mouthed campaigns of John Kerry and Al Gore, it was a thrill to watch a political master at work, still at the top of his game and more importantly, pitching for our side.

As a matter of official policy, the government of the United States must stand firmly opposed to any and all forms of coercive interrogation; but if you absolutely, positively have to have the information by tomorrow, you’d better be prepared to suffer the consequences.

After all, that’s what presidential pardons are for...

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Man Cub’s latest masterpiece:


Sept., 2007