Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Saturday, May 31, 2003

Retaining the Seven Seas

Well, Leah and I promised a brief tag-team synopsis of What We Did At WizWorld East Today but we're both wiped, generally suffering more body aches than are acceptable to discuss in mixed company (hence the not-so-subtle title), and she's talking to her sister on the phone so I'll just give the run-down.

I did pretty near bupkiss at the convention itself. I think I spent more time at Casa Adezio and the highly-recommended Reading Terminal Market than in the convention center. It was like every time I walked into the exhibition hall the energy drained right out of me and my feet started throbbing. Touched base with a few more friends, most of them New Yorkers whom I always seem to see more often at out-of-town conventions; lugged my camera about but only took a few couple pictures (including one of 6-month-old Caroline David so at least it was worthwhile for that); and attended part of a Marvel X-Men panel. I was only partially conscious during much of it, but I do recall an audience member asking when the books would be more female-friendly. I thought the question kind of weird in that the panel included Chris Claremont, who has a longstanding rep for having written strong female characters for years; and Phil Jimenez, who draws lovely, logical idealized men and women. But I was pretty sympathetic to her question, as I'd been asking variations on the theme of many comics publishers and professionals for years. Thing is, if you want to impart to folks that you'd like to see more female-friendly comics, you have to either clearly define your terms or make your points through references others will easily get (such as pointing to gender-based trends in other kinds of entertainment and comparing those stories to what you'd like to read in comics). Otherwise, the reaction you're liable to get from the all-male panel of 9 or 10 is likely to range from politely dismissive to outright defensive, which is more or less what happened in this case. Still, it's better than not having the subject raised at all.

We had a lovely dinner this evening in Chinatown, only a few blocks from the convention center, with Peter's wife Kath (while he wrote and cared for Caroline) and Nick Cardy, his niece and her mother. Mr. Cardy is a classy and witty gentleman, eager to share stories of his many years in the business, and it was neat watching Kath bond with Leah's kids over this stuff that I don't even pretend to understand.

Oh, and Leah's Link o' Silliness today is... The Lord of the Peeps. Just, just go. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Greetings from the Cutting Edge of Snarkiness

Man, I'd forgotten how weird it was using a dial-up connection on a laptop without a mouse. But Leah Adezio is kind enough to let me blog from her house, so I can more than make do. (You'll meet her in a minute; her guest co-blogging tonight and tomorrow will be distinguished by italics.) The journey down was comfy and uneventful, and we only spent a couple hours in Philly at the first day of WizWorld East, pretty much locating our friends and particularly those who also know Leah, to make sure everyone was aware of recent events. If you're reading this and thinking of taking in the con, it's large enough to keep you interested but small enough that you can do the circuit of the exhibition hall/artist alley in maybe an hour and a half. DC has its usual respectable-looking booth, CrossGen has a biiiig booth, and Marvel has a signing area. Oh, and Patty Jeres' hair looks amazing; I want her stylist!

We then hopped another train out from Market East Station (amazingly easy to navigate, and right between that and the convention center is the Reading Terminal Market where doubtless I'll be spending a few hours tomorrow) to meet up with Leah, do a bit of food shopping, hang out on her patio and schmooze with neighbors, etc.

And now that we've had dinner and gotten a bit mellow, I'm going to let Leah introduce herself...


Hmmm....where to begin. Well, if you've been reading Elayne's blog prior to this, I guess I'm The Friend To Whom Sucky Things Happen. My universe changed at 1:31 am Wednesday, May 21, 2003. My husband David went into cardiac arrest in the aftermath of a seizure and could not be revived.

So now, I have to circle a new letter on all those forms that one fills out in the course of one's lifetime -- you know, the one where you circle 'S' for 'single', 'M' for 'married'? Yeah, that one. But now, I get to circle (or underline, depending on the form, I guess) 'W' for 'widow'. Ew. And may I say again, ew.

What an odd word 'widow' is. It doesn't apply to me, does it? Widows are lovely elderly ladies in their 70's who surround themselves with grandchildren and cats, right? Right? (Elayne just said to me, widows are like the 'Hell's Grannies' in old 'Monty Python' sketches....and although I do have an umbrella..........)

Widows suggest spiders. Big, icky spiders. Widows also connotate the idea of the scheming 'black widow' of 40's film noir cinema.

Now, I do have children and I do have cats (and the aforementioned umbrella)...but I'm not a spider and I look much better in color than in black and white.

But I am a widow. I'm 42 years old. Except for laugh lines that are admittedly growing deeper (but hey, they're laugh lines and damn it, I like them), I don't even have wrinkles yet. The face has not yet collapsed, thank you very much.

I'm not supposed to be a widow. David and I and our sons had just moved to Pennsylvania 6 months ago and we had just started to look for a house to buy. Tuesday night, as we sat out on the patio furniture that we'd just bought the night before having dinner, he promised me a whirlpool bathtub...and besides storage space and a place to draw, all I really wanted in a house is a whirlpool bathtub.

If that happens now, it'll be up to me to make it happen. woo freakin' hoo.

Do I sound snarky? Well, this is The Cutting Edge of Snarkiness, after all. It's okay. Elayne says I'm often on the cutting edge of snarkiness, hence today's title. Works for me.

To steal a line from my friend Peter David (link at sidebar; go there. have fun), but I digress.

Back to the 'widow' thing. I've only been able to say it twice. I don't even try to think it. Life as I know it is just too surreal to even contemplate it. Just nod at me, smile and let me be a river in Egypt, okay? Eventually, I'll come around.

I apologize if this sounds too irreverant. What else can I do but laugh? Become a quivering puddle in a corner somehwere? Sorry, I just don't have the time. I have two teenagers to whom I now have to be both Mom and Dad. I have to go to work. I have to pay my bills, deal with the attorney who is going to establish David's estate, write thank you notes, do laundry.

Above all, I have to survive and make sure my sons survive. I want to make sure they go through the rest of their lives defining themselves by other events than 'My Dad died when I was 17'; 'My Dad died when I was 13'.

They will have significant events in their lives. My youngest will make his Bar Mitzvah this year; my eldest will graduate high school and begin college. Hopefully, they will eventually find loves of their own and have families and then I can be the elderly widow lady in her 70's with the grandchildren and the cats. But I don't want to be that today.

If I were accepting an Academy Award (insert little TM thingy here), this is where I thank my family and friends for their love and support. I'd thank my wonderful co-workers, who have been amazing in their expressions of sympathy and kindness. I thank my sons, who have been simply magnificent as we begin this strange journey together.

But it's not. It's just my life. It's my life where I have to learn how to move forward without David -- and for the record, this upcoming Monday, June 2nd, is, to be crass, going to suck. It would have been our 18th wedding anniversary. There will be no more. If only I'd known last year's would have been the last one we would spend together....but I didn't and I won't speculate on it further, for that way lies madness. I may be snarky, but I'm not mad.

So I'll just step back and say 'Thank you so much'.

And let that phrase lead you to today's Link 'o Silliness: Opera Baby.

I know it's made the rounds for awhile, but darn it, I like it. It's cute, it's easily filk-able (we have a version about the cats and their litter box) and the Opera Baby's even polite.

Go, check it out and have fun.

Oh. One more thing. If you have someone you love in your life, make sure you kiss them tonight and tell them you love them.

I'm glad I did last Tuesday night. Even though my future is uncertain, having done that, I have no regrets about my past.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.


I continue to be absolutely floored by Leah's wit and facility with language, and now y'all can see why. We plan to switch gears a bit tomorrow and do a tag-team review of the convention. As Leah says, "Errors will be made; others will be blamed."

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Sites of Note

My mind's already halfway to Philly, where Robin and I will be attending WizWorld East for the next three days (while I scramble looking for an Internet cafe so I can keep my "posting every day from now on" streak going), and my work stuff is pretty well in order, so I'm trying to play catch-up on all my online reading, particularly on the comics boards since I'm going to be seeing a lot of these people during the weekend. And I caught this great interview that Heidi MacDonald did with Micah Wright which I highly recommend. Wright has been on the ball for awhile, and brings up a few interesting points I haven't even seen in the progressive blogs, like the fact that mainstream radio now isn't a Clear Channel monopoly as much as a Clear Channel/Radio One duopoly - I mean, nobody ever seems to mention Radio One! - and the conjecture that Aaron Sorkin didn't leave The West Wing of his own accord but was forced out for political reasons. A terrific interview; kudos to both Heidi and Micah!

Also worth checking out is this article by Howard Zinn in the latest Progressive, which pretty much sums up the reaction I have every time I see a nasty "love it or leave it, asshole" sign or bumper sticker.

See (some of) you in Philly, I hope!

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

What a Card

Before Bookworm came along, my favorite computer game time-waster was probably Solitaire, and I still love me them nickel poker machines in Vegas and AC. Playing cards have always fascinated me.

And as NewsMax reminds us, the US military was following a fairly long tradition when the Defense Intelligence Agency created the "Deck of Death" (aka "Iraqi Most Wanted") cards issued by CENTCOM to our boys and girls in the Gulf. The article mentions a few examples, such as the WWII Spotter Cards and even a 2-set deck made during the Civil War which featured Union and Confederate military leaders. Of course, the article also serves as a lead-in ad for NewsMax's own odious "Deck of Weasels" card set, "depicting the 54 worst leaders and celebrities who opposed America and were key members of 'The United Nations of Weasels.'" (Doubtless this is related to Fox News' Traitors of America cards.) Creepy how opposing an unjust war translates once again in some perverse minds into "opposing America." (Even creepier how a news channel abandons all pretense of objectivity to purvey something like this.) And recently Texas Republicans printed up playing cards with the faces of the Democratic legislative "fugitives."

But of course, "our side" gets in its licks as well. One of my favorites is the Republican Chickenhawk cards. The GOP "Most Wanted" deck seems to have been around awhile, but IWR keeps adding to it. PA Senate candidate Jim Capozzola (link at sidebar) mentions a Freedom French company that's released a deck of cards it calls "Les 52 plus dangereux dignitaires américains." And lest we forget, the 2000 Politicards deck seemed to rib both sides of the fence somewhat equally.

Have I missed any? Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, place your bets in the comments section!
Pulled Both Ways

Look, I'm tired of pundits, even the ones who write well and sensibly, saying over and over that "Most people, even most liberals, are complacent. They don't realize how dire the fiscal outlook really is... when will the public wake up?" on the one hand, and on the other hand reading how one blogger after another is going on hiatus or talking about burnout from trying to fight the good fight. There's a difference between ignorance-complacency and powerlessness-frustration-exhaustion. I think the majority of thinking Americans - and by golly there are a lot more of us than we give ourselves credit for! - are "guilty" far more of the latter than the former. We're not dumb, we're not dismissive, we're just up against a lot of government power that's rewarding the rich and punishing us and at this point it's all many people can do just to stay afloat. The last thing we need is to beat up on ourselves over our inability to exert greater influence over a rigged game. The power players are beating up on us enough as it is, okay? I mean, I'm just saying.
Bug Fixes

Blogger templates are operational again, so anyone else out there who had the same problems as me (and that's, um, everyone on Blogspot) can now go to it and make your changes. 'Course, the bugger is still loading like molasses. And on a personal note, I spoke with my primary care physician and she allayed a number of my fears about the medication my ob/gyn prescribed (see yesterday's entry), but also said there are better ways to control glucose sensitivity such as - surprise! - exercise, as well as green tea, whole grains, etc. So if I decide to take the medication it'll be strictly as a fertility thing, and I'm used to fertility meds screwing with my body short-term anyway so nothing new there. Meanwhile, under Robin's supervision I'm starting on the stationary bike again, only for 10 minutes daily to build up my stamina to do 20+ minutes (when the bike actually starts doing some good in terms of burning off the bad stuff); and on my shopping trip this evening I'll be buying some whole grain bread (bye rye!) and brown rice, as well as green teabags to make "sun tea" which will take the place of my beloved Tetley iced for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Choiceless

Well, I hear the College World Series was a real nail-biter yesterday, with UCLA pitcher Keira Goerl throwing a no-hitter to beat defending champs California in 9 innings (2 innings over regulation play). I only found this out on the website. I wanted to actually watch the game as promised, but ESPN and ESPN2 apparently found it more urgent to run news shows with the same features every half hour, or means-nothing-at-this-stage-of-the-season Major League Baseball games, rather than showing the CWS. They didn't even report on the score! It's not like the NCAA was completely ignored, mind you; the men's baseball regional team selections were announced; the news even showed the score of the men's lacrosse championship, complete with highlights. But if you wanted to know anything about women's sports on ESPN yesterday, Serena Williams was pretty much it; and if you wanted to know anything at all about women's collegiate sports on the championship level, forget it. What, you thought you had a choice? Anyway, congrats to UCLA.

Speaking of having no choice, I've been told by my doctor that I have insulin resistence (metabolic syndrome X, according to WebMD) and will have to go on medication. The medicine they want me to take seems to be contra-indicated for people who've had liver problems, like my formerly-elevated ALT levels, so it looks like they'll have to slug it out with my PCP (that's Primary Care Physician in modern med-speak, not the angel dust drug) before I actually ingest anything. Meantime, I'm going to try to cut out the white rice with the sushi (i.e., eat more sashimi!) and drink more green tea and see if that helps too.

Now, the usual recommendation for this type of thing - in fact, for everything remotely related to possible diabetes - is to lose weight, which advice many fat activists know is about as practical for some of us as losing height or eye color. And which advice never seems to be given to thin people with insulin sensitivity or diabetes, but never mind. I now have to seriously think about going on a prescribed diet-and-exercise regimen of which 95% do not work and often incur gaining more weight afterwards, or just leaving things be with the sensible diet and increased exercise that I've already started plus a medication that could cause all kinds of lovely side-effects. As I get older and my body starts betraying me, I get very resentful of these rock-and-hard-place situations.

Monday, May 26, 2003

SNABU

I've been fairly well Bloggered today. I can't add my rac* friend Augie DeBlieck to my blogroll yet because I can't call up my template at the moment; and I couldn't check the blog for entries I made earlier this month because the archives weren't working properly, and when I tried to republish they all disappeared. Ah well, what do I want for nothing, a rubber biscuit? Update: Well, at least the archives are back (I was hoping that posting an entry would refresh the blog at least that much, and it did), but my template's still MIA. And hey, how about that Veronica Nelson 2-run homer yesterday? I don't know what I'm looking forward to more, Clemens pitching against Boston in the rain (hah! I have my doubts that game will be played today) or the "Wish They All Could Be California Girls" College World Series final. No, I know what I'm looking forward to more. :)

Sunday, May 25, 2003

The Real Definition of High-Definition

So I was beefing up my Amazon wish list (see sidebar) with some musicals, since the cable system we have doesn't provide the channels that play musicals more often than once or twice a year and I never bothered getting most of these on video (or I taped 'em off the TV back when they were shown more often, and those videotapes are warping fast), and Robin remarked that DVD was probably on the way out by decade's end. I was confused; I know our tech-crazed society hasn't nearly reached the pinnacle of kewl overpriced metallic toys to appease or entice the relative few who still have disposable income to throw at them, and the many others who go into debt pretending they can achieve this dream of immediate self-gratification through shiny impersonal appliances. But I figured, hey, most people are pretty happy with DVDs. They're the most quickly accepted format ever!

Ah well, Robin says, they'll look positively grainy on a high-definition television. So what? I retort. There's tons of people aren't going to want to buy HDTV. A television is a major purchase for most folks! They're fairly content to stay with what they have. They're not necessarily salivating for digital TV. Heck, there's people of little means still squinting into old beat-up B&W TVs with makeshift coat-hanger antennae to pick up broadcast TV! And he responds, Not for long.

You see, a few years ago the FCC (see any number of very good media awareness blogs) followed Australia's lead and made it mandatory that every television must be digital by 2006. (It's since become 2007.) Notes the Washington Post, "The ruling will affect most directly the approximately 15 percent of U.S. consumers who do not subscribe to cable or satellite systems and who rely on over-the-air broadcast signals -- using rabbit ears or outdoor antennas -- for their televisions. With some exceptions, those broadcast signals must be converted from analog to digital by 2007. About 99 percent of the nation's 265 million TV sets are analog. With an average lifespan of seven to 10 years, many of those sets will outlast over-the-air analog signals. To watch over-the-air television afterward, owners of such sets will have to buy a digital television set, at a cost of at least $800, or a digital converter, which costs at least $400 today. All parties agree that the prices will drop by 2007." (Emphasis mine)

Oh, I'm sure they do. Why, how much would a little add-on like that cost in four years, once it's been mass-produced and can retrofit any-- what? It still won't work on older TVs? Heck, who cares, it's not like anyone's complained about not being able to hook up DVD players or cable systems to older TVs.

But see, this is more than that. This is your older TV not working at all as a stand-alone appliance in four years because there won't be a broadcast signal for it to pick up.

Oh heck, let's look on the bright side - all those people worried about the consolidation of the airwaves can breathe a sigh of relief once the airwaves as we know them won't even exist any more!

An NAB spokesman is quoted as saying, "Our position, and that of most broadcasters, is that HDTV is going to be the driving force behind digital television. Once people see HDTV, they are going to want nothing less." Way to create a need then fill it, National Association of Bilkers! We all love HDVT, especially those of us who profit from it!

Now, maybe this is me taking offense on behalf of other people; after all, I've had cable for about five years, and I got rid of my bedroom TV with the dials and the rabbit ears and no remote control at least a half dozen years ago. But it's also me being pissed that the government has once again made it obligatory for people who can't afford something to buy it if they want to have a hope in hell of staying informed or being entertained.

So back to DVDs - what happens when we don't want to play our old ones because they look too grainy? Well, on the horizon are HD camcorders and VCRs and D-VHS tapes and guess what that means?! That's right, our old VCRs (around 290-300 resolution lines per screen, if they're good) are being replaced by DVDs (480 lines) which in turn will be replaced by HD VCRs (1080 lines) - and remember, to all intents and purposes, this time it's mandatory because of compatibility issues! So by decade's end, doubtless we'll all be sold a bill of goods called High Definition Digital Video/Versatile Disks. Better start saving up now, folks.

But you may ask, Should I wait before I buy a new TV? What are you, French or something? Why are you even questioning the need to buy right away in the first place? Expect a visit from Ashcroft's crooked-nosed boys any day now...

Saturday, May 24, 2003

On Leagues of Their Own

Robin informed me today that Annika Sorenstam missed the halfway cut at the PGA Colonia tournament. Depending on your choice of bias, she either leaves a hero having proven her personal goal of gender integration, however briefly; or she breaks just like a little girl. Says the latter site, "She shrugged, smiled and threw the ball to the fans. She knew the race was over. So she turned the stroll up the 18th fairway into a victory parade, as applause, cheers and wolf-whistles provided the percusssion." Cheers and wolf-whistles? We've come a long way, baby.

Now, I've professed in past entries (see April 5 and 6) to be in favor of gender integration in sports, not just at the beginning levels (like Little League, where it's already happened) but right on up to the pros. And I still do think that the lack of experience and encouragement at all these levels help keeps major sports from being gender-integrated. There's just something that strikes me as horribly biologically-deterministic about the argument that even the best female pro at some sport is only going to be as good as an average male pro, even with the continuing evidence in support of it. Because male pro sports are by and large still considered the Big Time, the only "real" sports - as opposed to "they just do it for the fun of it" sports, which usually translate into "you're not going to make a living doing this, girly!" And that's a lot of it for me, wanting to see women compete for big purses and green jackets and championship jewelry without, you know, having to buy them at Macy's.

On the other hand, if women's sports is starting to attract attention on its own at the professional level, I don't see any conflict between supporting those efforts and still hoping for more gender integration. Integrated leagues aren't for every woman; there's something cool about having a female safe space on the field and in the dugout and in the broadcast booth. Today I watched ESNP2's coverage of a game in the 2003 Women's College World Series that, looking at the website, was actually played yesterday. The site supposedly lets you follow the live games, but I can't seem to call one up even though they're presumably playing right now at the ASA (Amateur Softball Association) Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. Anyway, I really got a kick out of it, there was the slugger named Veronica who has the same body type as me, and the phenom pitcher named Kari who pitched sixteen innings in one day (I didn't see the first game, I guess it must have been extra innings because softball only has 7), and the avid fans in the bleachers (the stadium draws over 45,000 spectators to watch this tournament every year) and just the pure heart and triumph and tragedy and all the wonderful things played out on those young and eager and real-looking and not-in-it-for-the-money faces. And as much as I think women's sports deserve and merit attention and live coverage and the wherewithall to afford players a way to make a living, I also found something very attractive about the lack of pretense. The whole thing had a very community feel to it. The women didn't even wear hats in the field. Don't get me wrong, they were fierce and edgy competitors and all, but they weren't there for the endorsements or the airtime or anything else that smacked of over-commercialization. And if that's the kind of feel that women's sports can engender, as much as I believe it ought to be blindingly obvious that talented women deserve to make a living at it, I also like the idea of leaguing it out on one's own. We've already seen it happen with basketball and golf and a few other big-money deals, let's hope it continues into sports I actually care about. :)

Oh, and after 40 years I finally came up with the only possible answer that would ever have made sense every time my father saw a talented woman Olympian or opera singer or pianist on television and asked me somewhat accusingly, "Why can't you do that?" Ladies and gents, if this ever happens to you, the proper one-word comeback is "Genetics."

Friday, May 23, 2003

Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!

Today is a wholly day for Discordians everywhere. "Discordianism is founded upon the belief that all of the worlds ills are caused by imbalance towards Order over Disorder and a mistaken belief that Disorder and Chaos are the same thing. This is not so, Chaos is transcendant and liberated from the duality of Order/Disorder. Order and Disorder are both gifts given to us by the Chaos, which Discordians call Eris." To put this modern terms: Order is what the Bush administration tries to impose on citizens of the world through its policies; Disorder is often the result of this flimsy house of cards; and Chaos is blogtopia and all who continue to question official lies.

The Principia Discordia has been online for awhile. I'm mentioned in the intro done by Kerry Thornley, who was one of my INSIDE JOKE staff writers. "Elayne was just some broad with a funny bone until she read the Principia and asked the question that led to my great definition of theology. 'Why,' she wanted to know, 'is the Discordian Society, which worships a female divinity, so male dominated?' Recalling that more women than men are devout about Christianity with its male God and His male Son, I decided that people like religions that blame reality on the opposite sex. So let that be a lesson to us males. Behind every great idea there is a broad with a funny bone." Probably one of the nicest things anyone's ever said about me.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Holding the Center

For any of those curious, Leah and her sons seem to be holding up well, thanks in no small measure to their wonderful support system I mentioned yesterday. If you're lucky enough to be a friend of hers as well, and I haven't yet sent you the particulars of the arrangements currently being made, please e-mail me.

And speaking of wonderful friends and support, I apologize that I haven't been doing much blogroll visiting and commentary of late. Busy boss days, as I noted on Tuesday. Hope to achieve equilibrium again sometime this weekend. Thanks for understanding.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Things Fall Apart

We're such fragile creatures, wedded to such fragile machines and bonding to each other for strength. And it takes so little to upend that. The evening started out optimistically, with a Buffy finale worth sustained applause, full of empowerment and hope. "Every one of you, and girls we've never known... they will have the strength they never dreamed of. And more than that, they will have each other."

Then it sunk a bit as the Smallville season-ender featured more pain and far less resolution than I'd care to deal with in my escapist fictional entertainment. Then real life began to seep in, as Robin's monitor went bye-byes for good (fortunately we have enough saved this month to afford a new one).

And then there was the devastating 2:30 AM call from my closest female friend, Leah Adezio, telling me of her husband David's sudden passing. He was a gentle, loving man, and he shall be terribly missed. But I know this: Leah has a strength that these fictional shows can never begin to touch, a strength that perhaps she's never dreamt of. And she will prevail beyond this sorrow as she has before. And more than that, she and all her family and friends and support network, we will have each other. Please send your good thoughts towards her in this time. Per her express wishes, Robin and I will still be visiting Leah and her sons the weekend after next (see yesterday's post) if anyone would like us to convey anything in person.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Corrections

Seth Finkelstein e-mailed to remind me that he's not the same person as Seth Friedman (see my May 13 entry), but I may remember him anyway from the both of us having been on rac* during my Usenet days, so even though it's not that closed a circle at least he is someone else I know. :) Apologies to both Seths!

And I returned to the office this morning none the worse for wear (we hit all the spots we wanted to in Central Park yesterday, as well as getting a blood sugar test done, supporting the French by eating brunch here, taking in a movie, and doing the All You Can Eat Sushi thang for dinner, so I'm tired and a bit itchy but quite happy and refreshed) to find that not only had my boss flown back early from his most recent business trip, which means he'll be coming in today, but he'll be cancelling his trip this week as well, which means I'll see him tomorrow and Thursday too. So much for any plans to get out of here at a normal quitting time this week. Makes me feel even better that next week's only three work days long, what with Memorial Day and taking Friday off to go to WizWorld East and visit my friend Leah again. But it looks like I'll have to go through short-term hell before I get to that little piece of heaven...

Monday, May 19, 2003

Oot and Aboot

So I went to the Food Fest yesterday, which all told took a little over an hour. Probably the fastest time I've ever shot through the thing, and I'd intended on it being a fairly leisurely stroll up 9th Avenue from 34th (where the crosstown bus let me off after I took care of some errands on the east side) to 60th (where I turned to get the train back to the Bronx around the southeast tip of Central Park). I had my shark kebob (I passed on the gator-on-a-stick because last year I had trouble, um, passing the gator), stuffed quail, corn on the cob, water with a little lemon in it lemonade, chicken satay, a lovely garlic sourdough twist fresh from some oven somewhere, baklava, lamb on a stick and Thai iced tea. Fifteen bucks total. Passed on the mozzarepa this time, as well as the ubiquitous King of the Candy Apple stands, funnel cakes, crepes, etc. etc. Once again no sushi in sight. But cute little girls doing a song and dance on the stage at 43rd or so, the song filled with bad food puns; a very decent xylophone player; a homeless guy to whom I said "I'm sorry" when he accosted me (I could have done far worse, like peeling off and giving him one of the many flyers adorning the police barricades advertising a 2BR 2Bath apartment overlooking the river for only $3200 a month); and petted a mounted cop's horsie. My hands still itch like crazy (I don't know what airborne allergen affects me so but I'm glad I wore my jacket or my arms would be similarly affected) and the stupid big toe on my right foot is still giving me problems, but that's not stopping me from taking in Central Park today. Unfortunately our friend can't meet us but I'm determined not to "waste" a vacation day. With any luck we'll hit here and here and here, and maybe take in a movie as well, but we'll see.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Finger on the Pulse

As I mentioned yesterday in my "Public Services" entry, if you know the title of a NYT article you can probably get it on Google's News section without having to go through the Times' personally intrusive registration process. Here's the one about blogging from today's "Fashion & Style" section. Does the NY Times "discovering" blogging mean it's now time for the next big thing? As usual, the thing that tends to amuse me the most is that bloggers are shocked, do you hear me shocked, to find out that if they use their real names and blog about job details, their coworkers might find out about their bitching and they could get fired! Duh, what part of "online public diary" isn't quite clear to these folks?

Saturday, May 17, 2003

The Slush Pile

Woke up too late, with the weather looking too cold, to venture out to today's Food Fest alone. Tomorrow for sure! So I'm spending the day catching up on reading, both blogs and comics. Been through almost all the Marvels I bought this past week, noting with some dismay that almost every one of them has ads out the wazoo - literally, if you use "rectum" as a synonym for "wazoo," as the ads fill up the rectos just about every time you turn the page. I was under the impression it was more expensive to print books when the ads are spread out like that than grouped or tipped-in. In any case, it makes it easier for me to read the comics folded over with the staple to the right, knowing I only have to flip them over once or twice. One exception was the adless second issue of 411, which suffers from almost no introduction or explanation of what the miniseries is about (see my April 10 entry) save a brief bit on the back cover (which also has a lovely illustration by Tony Harris and his son Enzo). It also contains, in my opinion, only one story this time clearly about taking non-violent action. But it's a good one - written by Brian Vaughan and rendered in pencil and ink-wash by Leonardo Manco (with spot color here and there), it deals with a Congresswoman's decision on whether to vote for a war resolution whose passage is a foregone conclusion anyway. Shades of Barbara Lee? Try Jeannette Rankin, to whose bravery this story is a tribute. However, $3.50 is a bit steep for just an excellent 10-page story and back cover, so you may wish to flip through this in the shop before deciding whether to buy. Now, back to my mounting pile of unread comics (goddess bless the DC comp box)!

Friday, May 16, 2003

Public Services

A brief follow-up to my March 13 post about fake news stories (no, not Jayson Blair); I'm hoping to make this a regular feature on this blog, I get a kick out of media gullibility. Yet another item now turns out too wacky to be true - the Tunbridge Wells superhero story was a hoax. Via Neil Gaiman (link at sidebar). My husband is sure to be heartbroken.

Also a reminder to anyone who doesn't want to create a fake e-mail account solely for the purposes of lying to the New York Times (no, not like Jayson Blair did) or revealing any personal information in order to get to their online articles: If you know the author and particularly the name of the article in question (article titles work best as keywords), chances are Google's news section can get it for you wholesale. For instance, Tom Tomorrow (link at sidebar) recommended Paul Krugman's latest opinion column, Paths of Glory. The link I just put up is to (persumably) the same op-ed carried on a non-NYT site. Enjoy.
Idiot Boxing Again: Part Six

See previous posts. Breaking up The Pitches (TP) and My Highly Opinionated Snap Judgements (MHOSJ) on the networks' new fall series by day yadda yadda. All times listed are Eastern and PM, and TP quoted verbatim from the nets. Thanks for sticking with me this long. No new shows listed for Saturday, but lots for...

Friday

ABC: Back to Kansas (8:30) - TP: In Tom's marriage to Susan Kelly, everything is relative. Tom, an only child, quickly learns that Susan's family is not only larger-than-life... it's larger than most. Tom and Susan moved from New York to Kansas to be closer to the quirky, tight-knit Kellys. The in-jokes, the family quirks... every get-together tests Tom's nerves, but nothing compares to his worst nightmare - game night. From befriending Susan's weird, bug-collecting brother to schmoozing with her smug, condescending uncle, Tom tries to become one of the family... whether he likes it or not. From exec-producer Brad Grey (The Sopranos, Just Shoot Me) comes a family-sized comedy with a super-sized heart. MHOSJ: You know, if game night is your worst nightmare, I'd say you're doing okay. If this show were done by middle Americans rather than left- or right-coasters, I might be more attracted to it. Then again, the fish-out-of-water premise worked well for Rob Morrow (although I think the appeal of Northern Exposure lay more in its magical realism).

ABC: Hope and Faith (9:00) - TP: Stay-at-home mom, Hope (Faith Ford), leads a busy, family-centered suburban life with her husband, children and live-in father. Her celebrity sister, Faith (Kelly Ripa), has been living the high life in Hollywood as a daytime soap opera diva. But when Faith's character is suddenly killed-off on "The Sacred and the Sinful," she flees Tinseltown and the relentlessly inquiring minds of the tabloid press, and seeks refuge in suburbia with Hope. Hope & Faith is a comedy about what happens when the fast lane collides with the carpool lane. It's about the moments that make you want to hug your sister... and the times you want to write her out of your life. MHOSJ: How stupidly precious is it that the actress named Faith plays the character named Hope rather than the character named Faith? And Kelly Ripa??? I'm wincing already. But I kinda want to like this one, so I hope it pleasantly surprises me. Seems like a good pairing with its lead-in (another middle-America show presumably written by people who don't live there).

CBS: Joan of Arcadia (8:00) - TP: Not your typical family show. Not your typical family. Will Girardi (Joe Mantegna) is the new police chief of Arcadia, California. Helen, his smart, tough wife, is trying to get their 19-year-old son Kevin, who was disabled in a car wreck a year earlier, to take an interest in life again. Luke, their other son, is a nerdy 15-year-old who thinks he has it all figured out. And Joan, their 16-year-old daughter, is a typical teenager oblivious to her treacherous surroundings. But family life in the Girardi household has just become a bit more complicated: God has decided to talk to Joan. And that's not something a teenager wants to handle. Joan of Arcadia traces the overlapping lives of the Girardis as it focuses on the family's evolution and on Joan's now even more interesting journey toward womanhood. God help her. God help the Girardis. Academy Award® winner Mary Steenburgen costars, with Amber Tamblyn as Joan. MHOSJ: It's so crazy it just might work! And I love the little register symbol the pitch uses after "Academy Award."

CBS: The Handler (10:00) - TP: Joe Renato (Joe Pantoliano, The Sopranos) is a handler, an FBI agent who trains street operatives and prepares them to go undercover. Deep undercover. The Handler follows the way he supervises his team--including Lily (the rookie) and Darnell (the veteran)--while giving us a psychological portrait of a man who manages the lives of his agents as he interacts with the law-enforcement bureaucrats who need his services. MHOSJ: Oh look, another cop show. (See previous posts.)

TheWB: Like Family (8:30) - TP: Holly Robinson Peete and Amy Yasbeck return to The WB in the realistic multi-ethnic comedy Like Family. When two families - one black, one white - share the same house, they discover that their differences are definitely more than skin deep. Tanya (Peete), Ed and their teen kids are a middle-class African-American family who open their doors for an old friend who is down on her luck. Newly single Maddie (Yasbeck) and her 16 year-old son Keith just need a place to stay until they can get back on their feet. What sounds like a perfect arrangement soon becomes non-stop tension (and laughs) as the two families argue about everything but skin color! An autobiographical take on family from creator Dan Fogelman with executive producers Rick Wiener & Kenny Schwartz (Mad About You), Warren Littlefield (Do Over) and Warner Bros. Television. MHOSJ: Crossover appeal? They sure seem to salivate over that possibility. Although in saying "they argue about everything but skin color" you do realize they're emphasizing even more that this a show about skin color. I'll probably watch it once or twice if I remember it's on.

TheWB: All About the Andersons (9:30) - TP: The WB is proud to welcome comedy sensation Anthony Anderson (Barbershop, Me, Myself & Irene, Big Momma's House, Life) in an all new multi-ethnic comedy. Anthony plays a struggling actor and single dad trying to provide a stable environment for his son, Tuga (8). No sooner has Anthony moved back into his parents' home than he suddenly remembers why he left in the first place. His mother is always understanding and supportive, but his cantankerous father hasn't changed a bit. He tells Anthony to abandon his acting hopes and get a "real job" working with him in the family beauty salon/barbershop. To complicate things, Anthony's old room is being rented out to a medical student - which leaves Anthony alone in the garage. Torn between teaching his son about determination and providing for him, Anthony decides to give up his dreams until Tuga reminds him that besides each other, their dreams are all they have. A semi-autobiographical comedy about fathers and sons from Warner Bros. Television. Executive producers Adam Glass, Anthony Anderson, and Marco Pennette, with executive producer/director Jamie Widdoes. MHOSJ: See, this is one where they say "multi-ethnic" but it actually seems to mean "black." In any case, it sounds cute and I like the idea of setting a TV show in a barber shop, but what I really want to see is the inevitable show set in a nail salon. I mean come on, every neighborhood shopping district seems to have at least one nail salon per block (more if it's a working-class neighborhood). I smell sitcom premise!!

Happy viewing, all.
Idiot Boxing Again: Part Five

See previous posts. Breaking up The Pitches (TP) and My Highly Opinionated Snap Judgements (MHOSJ) on the networks' new fall series by day yadda yadda. All times listed are Eastern and PM, and TP quoted verbatim from the nets.

Thursday

ABC: Threat Matrix (8:00) - TP: Our nation is a target. An attack could come at any time, from anywhere around the globe. Against this rising threat, the Homeland Security Agency has created a highly specialized, elite task force trained and equipped to counter anyone or anything that threatens our nation. The head of this super-secret team is Special Agent John Kilmer. Working with cutting-edge technology, this clandestine team fights the many faces of terror to keep America safe. The one wrinkle in Kilmer's dream-team is his ex-wife, Frankie. She's as beautiful as she is fearless and lethal. Together they've averted disasters of all kinds, except their marriage. MHOSJ: Again, not enough digits to count how many ways this premise offends me, but by now if you don't know my feelings about the Homeland Security Agency, glamorizing spooks just because they're Our Spooks, the seemingly obsessive need to add a physical descriptor like "beautiful" whenever a female character is mentioned but never for a male character (excuse me, 99% of all Hollywood actors are "beautiful," okay?), and the idea of exploiting and sensationalizing real-life fear and tragedy just to make a buck - heck, even the offensiveness of the title itself (combining a scare word with a misleading association to a hot movie franchise) - I'm afraid no explanation is possible.

NBC: Coupling (9:30) - TP: Let's see if we have this straight... Steve's with Jane but he's suddenly hot for Susan who met Steve through Jeff whom Susan used to go out with though she's just dumped Patrick despite the great sex so Patrick's asked Sally out which bugs Susan since Sally is her best friend... Based on the outrageous British hit series of the same name, Coupling concerns love and lust among six thirtysomethings who are either involved, formerly involved or looking to become intimately involved -- often with each other. The result, not surprisingly, is a very involving comedy filled with eye-popping situations and equally jaw-dropping one-liners. The comic possibilities for pairings appear as limitless as the characters' desires for Coupling. Wild comedy... Insatiable laughs. MHOSJ: True confession time: My husband loves the "outrageous British hit series of the same name," which runs on a local public TV station every Friday night at 10:30, at which time I usually walk pretty quickly out of the room. I don't see either of us getting into the American knockers knocked-up knock-off.

TheWB: Steve Harvey's Big Time (8:00) - TP: "...people of all ages in this country can do incredible things and that's missing from television. All you need to know is how to get their stories out of them. If you can do that, viewers will be amazed at what they'll be watching." - Steve Harvey From television to film to his hit syndicated radio show, America can't get enough of Steve Harvey! So we're teaming up with the award-winning comedian once again to create a primetime talk/variety show in the tradition of the golden age of television. Showcasing Harvey's stand-up talents and inimitable quick wit, the show will forego celebrity interviews and instead spotlight everyday people with extraordinary and humorous gifts. One of "The Original Kings of Comedy," Harvey has shown an uncanny knack for bringing out the very best - and the very funny - in regular people. From executive producers Steve Harvey, Rushion McDonald (The Parent 'Hood) and Madeleine Smithberg (The Daily Show, Late Night with David Letterman) in conjunction with Telepictures. MHOSJ: I guess, once again, I'm not part of America, because I can certainly get enough of Steve Harvey. (See previous "little going a long way" comments vis a vis John Larroquette and Whoopi Goldberg.) Although I do like his quote about good stories, and I like that it's a variety show (although it's labelled on the WB's site as a "reality" show!), so I'll probably watch this. (Of course that's what I said about Wayne Brady... is that show still on the air?)

TheWB: Run of the House (9:30) - TP: Sally, Kurt, and Chris are three perfect examples of "The Boomerang Generation," which, as the name implies, refers to kids who grow up, leave home for college, and then come right back to the nest. For their younger sister, 15-year-old Brooke Franklin, the sociological phenomenon is a lifesaver since her parents are always away on vacation. Left to fend for themselves by their globetrotting parents, the four create an unusual surrogate family marked by the usual sibling rivalries and power plays. Somehow they manage to overcome the pettiness, however, in a uniquely genuine attempt to create a nuclear family in the absence of one. Realistic, funny, and hopeful, this is a family comedy from Tannenbaum Co., with creator Betsy Thomas (My So Called Life), executive producers Rob Sternin & Prudence Fraser (The Nanny), and director David Trainer (That 70's Show) for Warner Bros. Television. MHOSJ: Cute premise, sounds fairly winning and harmless. And it's got Mo Gaffney and Joey-- 'scuse me, Joe Lawrence in the cast.

Concluded above...
Idiot Boxing Again: Part Four

See previous posts. Breaking up The Pitches (TP) and My Highly Opinionated Snap Judgements (MHOSJ) on the networks' new fall series by day yadda yadda. All times listed are Eastern and PM, and TP quoted verbatim from the nets.

Wednesday

ABC: It's All Relative (8:30) - TP: Bobby's a bartender - the only son of gregarious, salt-of-the-earth Irish Catholic parents from Boston. His fiancée, Liz, is a toney Harvard student and she's Protestant (no, that's not the problem). Liz has two dads, not one, and they're a worldly pair of well-heeled gay men. The moment Bobby popped the question to Liz, they knew their families would have to meet. And the first time they brought his Mom and Dad together with her Dad and Dad... well, things did not go well. Aside from the obvious, there's a culture gap between these in-laws-to-be that makes the Grand Canyon look like a seam in the sidewalk. From Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, acclaimed producers of the Oscar-winning "Chicago." MHOSJ: "Aside from the obvious"?? So we must naturally assume that any time you have straight parents meeting gay parents "things do not go well," because it's obvious! It sounds like a bit of a train wreck waiting to happen but curiosity will probably get the better of me, as it does with most new sitcoms, and warrant a peek or two.

ABC: Karen Sisco (10:00) - TP: Karen Sisco is a United States marshal on Miami's Gold Coast. In pursuit of dangerous fugitives, Karen must pick her way through the dark underbelly of South Beach nightlife and the sunshine and glitz of Palm Beach highlife... while she struggles to win the respect of her supervisor and fellow officers. The only man she truly trusts is her father - a retired marshal with a wealth of life experience and street smarts. He's Karen's confidant, counselor, confessor - and her rock when her confidence waivers... which it does every time she tries to connect romantically with a man. Based on the character portrayed by Jennifer Lopez in Elmore Leonard's Out of Sight, Karen Sisco is that rare combination of action and character-drama, with a fresh and original young lead. MHOSJ: Whose name, as with all the ABC new shows, isn't mentioned. Oh, sorry. Ahem. A cop show - how unique! See previous posts. I might actually watch this one if they moved Marshall Sisco to Antarctica and paid Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber a bundle of money, but apparently the movie beat 'em to it. (Besides, Whiteout was more a murder mystery than a cop drama.)

CBS: The Stones (9:30) - TP: Winston Stone (Jay Baruchel, Undeclared, Almost Famous) and his sister, Karly (Lindsay Sloane, Bring It On), wanted to throw their parents, Barbara and Stan (television veterans Judith Light and Robert Klein) a surprise anniversary dinner they'd never forget. But when their parents announced at supper that they were getting a divorce, it was Winston and Karly who had the shock of their lives. Now these two twenty-somethings must adjust to their parents' decision. Winston sees it as the end of the world, while Karly is troubled but feels she may have seen it coming. But neither one knows how to deal with it, especially since Barbara and Stan seem happier than ever. MHOSJ: This has my vote for most interesting-sounding sitcom premise, and on the basis of that alone I'll sit through Judith Light and Robert Klein.

CBS: The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H. (10:00) - TP: He made his way from real-life lawyer to Emmy-winning writer on "L. A. Law." Then David E. Kelley went on to redefine television with hits that included CBS's Picket Fences and Chicago Hope, as well as Ally McBeal and The Practice. Now Kelley returns to CBS with THE The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H., which focuses on the families of three brothers in that small town, one (Hank) the sheriff, one (Garrett) the mayor and one (Waylon) still looking for his calling. Local heroes in their youth--they were high-school hockey stars--they are now tackling grown-up problems such as the local economy, their children's educations and their growing families. But, as in most families, the Shaw brothers know they'll always have each other to help weather the storms of their changing lives. And, of course, they'll always have David E. Kelley. Randy Quaid heads the cast, with Mare Winningham and Elizabeth McGovern costarring. MHOSJ: I'm not an especial Kelley fan, but I like the cast members mentioned so I might check this one out.

Continued above...
Idiot Boxing Again: Part Three

See previous posts. Breaking up The Pitches (TP) and My Highly Opinionated Snap Judgements (MHOSJ) on the networks' new fall series by day yadda yadda. All times listed are Eastern and PM, and TP quoted verbatim from the nets.

Tuesday

ABC: I'm With Her (8:30) - TP: Writer Chris Henchy's real life marriage to Brooke Shields is the inspiration for this fresh romantic comedy. On the day that would change his life, Patrick Owen is drinking his mid-morning latte when he's bitten by love. Literally. The gnashing jaws belong to the puppy of movie star Alexandra Young. When she tries to apologize, he's awestruck, dumbstruck, and so very charming. Alex sets her sights on Patrick, but he's unprepared for the add-ons that come with this little flirtation. His anonymity and privacy go up in the flash of a hundred paparazzi cameras. All of which makes him wonder if it's possible to find true love in the hot spotlight of the media. From the producers of "Smallville" comes a unique look at a guy dating out of his league. Way out of his league. MHOSJ: Sounds like a bit of a winning premise, but the cast picture's too small for me to see if I recognize any of the actors, which probably means they're relative unknowns or else they'd be mentioned in the pitch, right? (Then again, see the Las Vegas pitch in my previous entry.)

CBS: NCIS (8:00) - TP: For eight seasons, JAG executive producer Donald Bellisario has brought us the inner workings of the United States Navy's office of the Judge Advocate General, exposing its behind-the-scenes courtroom secrets and procedures. Now he shifts his focus to the team from the Navy Criminal Investigative Service, the government agency that investigates all crimes involving Navy personnel. A civilian robbery with a naval cap found at the scene? A murder on an overseas base? Sailors who've bolted from a crime scene? They're all part of the job for NAVY CIS leader J. P. Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and his squad. Michael Weatherly ("Dark Angel") costars. Get a clue and come aboard. MHOSJ: Let alone that "Get a clue" sounds like an awfully condescending pun, my interest in military agency shows is slightly less than my interest in cop shows. And this sounds like it's both. Dang, I miss Bellisario's crowning achievement.

NBC: Whoopi (8:00) - TP: A smart and sassy new comedy that lets Whoopi be Whoopi! Grammy Winner. Emmy Winner. Oscar Winner. Oscar Hostess. And now headliner of her own NBC comedy. Whoopi Goldberg stars as Mavis Rae, a proud, opinionated lady who owns and runs her own small, downtown New York hotel. Keeping things lively around the place are Mavis' older brother Courtney, Iranian handy man Nasim and Courtney's girlfriend Rita. But the real star of this hotel is Whoopi as Mavis, who keeps the zingers flying with her unique brand of topical humor. Just what you'd hope for from the producers who have so expertly tailored TV comedy roles for the likes of Roseanne, Brett Butler and Bill Cosby. Now is the time and this is the role for America to celebrate anew the brash, bold and unabashedly funny Whoopi Goldberg in all her glory. MHOSJ: Well, it's Whoopi, innit? Only it's not, it's Whoopi playing "Mavis Rae" as Whoopi, or something like that. I like the idea of an Iranian character (played by cast member Omid Djalili), but I think this is going to be majorly writing-dependent too. And a little Whoopi often goes a long way.

NBC: Happy Family (8:30) - TP: It's what happens when the kids move out... but never leave. Comedy fans will be delighted to see two Emmy Award winners now united in one very relatable new series. John Larroquette and Christine Baranski star as Peter and Annie Brennan, soon-to-be empty nesters who couldn't be happier about it. Youngest son Tim is ready to graduate junior college, son Todd is getting married and daughter Sara is a big business success. Yep, their kids all turned out great and Peter and Annie can't wait to have the house to themselves. Not so fast. Tim is flunking out and shacking up with their 35-year-old neighbor, Maggie, who happens to be Annie's best friend. Meanwhile Todd's having an affair. And straight-laced Sara just turned up at the doorstep, three sheets to the wind. Seems now that the kids are grown up, mom and dad are seeing more of them than ever! MHOSJ: Now see, this, on the other hand... I just go "It's Christine Baranski, sign me up." Of course, I said that with Bonnie Hunt and was disappointed, so who knows? And a little Larroquette also goes a long way.

TheWB: Fearless (9:00) - TP: "There are four basic human emotions. Joy, anger, grief and fear. They say, of all those, nothing clouds your reason like fear. I've never had that problem." -Gaia Moore From the executive producer of CSI and Without a Trace, this ensemble crime drama uncovers the FBI's best kept secret: the Y Unit. Society is breeding a new class of young criminals and it will take an elite division staffed with the finest young agents to infiltrate and apprehend them. The Y Unit requires a special kind of operative to succeed - much less survive. Born with a genetic defect, Gaia, 21, lacks the basic instinct her partners Ryan and Harmony must fight to control: fear. Whether Gaia's handicap is an important asset or a deadly liability for the unit remains to be seen... From writer/executive producer Jeremy Littman (Law & Order, Profiler), writers Vincent Ngo & Evan Charnov and Jeremy Carver with Jerry Bruckheimer Television and Warner Bros. Television. MHOSJ: Yeah, it's another federal agency cop show, so I probably won't go for it, but it also gets my vote for best premise. A genetic defect that eliminates the primal instinct for fear - heh. Just don't tell me the WB is now going to claim her as a positive role-model for the differently-abled.

Continued above...
Idiot Boxing Again: Part Two

See previous post. Breaking up The Pitches (TP) and My Highly Opinionated Snap Judgements (MHOSJ) on the networks' new fall series by day for easier reading and because I talk a lot. All times listed are Eastern and PM, and TP quoted verbatim from the nets.

Monday

CBS: Two and a Half Men (9:30) - TP: Charlie is a very successful jingle writer who in his 35 years has never worried about anyone but himself. And he likes it that way. But his seemingly perfect setup looks as though it's about to crumble: Alan and Jake have moved into Charlie's Malibu beach house. Alan, Charlie's soon-to-be-divorced younger brother, and Jake, Alan's 10-year-old son, are about to turn playboy Charlie's world upside down. That's something Charlie feared would happen once he agreed to the arrangement, but he realizes that he and his polar-opposite brother now have something in common: Jake's best interests. The real question is whether the brothers will be able to make a good home for Jake without wanting to divorce each other. Charlie Sheen stars, along with Jon Cryer. Blythe Danner plays their mother. MHOSJ: The first of many non-traditional nuclear family "wacky" comedies on the new fall lineup. This is one I'd watch once or twice for the stunt-casting alone, but I think it's going to live or die on the writing.

NBC: Las Vegas(9:00) - TP: Fast. Furious. Fun. You can bet on high stakes and high-speed action in this adrenaline-fueled drama from the writer of The Fast and the Furious. Big Ed Deline, former CIA, runs the best surveillance company in Vegas. Big Ed's best employee is Danny McCoy, an ex-Marine and Vegas native, who loves living life in the fast lane. Mike Cannon, head valet, keeps track of who's coming and going. Mary Connell, Danny's childhood friend, is a high-class escort who has a knack for learning people's darkest secrets. Danny's best source just might be Jane, the savvy new casino host. Both exude a seductive style -- a lot like the city itself. MHOSJ: Boy, does this pitch sound way too full of itself, or is it just me? It would have been nice if the pitch mentioned that "Big Ed" is played by James Caan (or is Caan no longer "a name"?) Does a surveillance-company drama count as a cop show? Is "shows set in Vegas" becoming a subgenre?
Idiot Boxing Again: Part One

Two excellent posts yesterday on the always informative and entertaining blog of Mark Evanier (link at sidebar), one about how the news continues to distort the Jessica Lynch story, doubtless for purposes of propaganda and a ripping good TV movie; and the other about the proposed new fall lineup on the major TV networks. I spent way too much time early this morning reading up about these shows from the link Mark supplied. Fox and UPN haven't provided show details to the site, but the other nets have, so I thought I'd do a "scan and pan" of 'em, but I'll do the entries one day at a time for easy reading. All times listed are Eastern and PM, and pitches are quoted verbatim from the networks' own preview sites (ABC, CBS, NBC and TheWB).

Sunday

ABC: 10-8 (8:00) - The Pitch (TP): Brooklyn bad boy Rico Amonte was sliding into a life of crime. Then his policeman brother caught him in the act - and hauled him off to Southern California to get him on the straight and narrow. Two years later, Rico is a graduate of the Los Angeles Sheriff's academy - a Deputy Sheriff trainee about to hit the streets in uniform, and with a gun and a badge. This edgy, humorous and very real take on the lives of rookie cops is based on the experience of Sheriff Paul Pietrantoni. My Highly-Opinionated Snap Judgement (MHOSJ): A cop show - how unique! At least it's got that whiff of "hey, the real-life guy was Italian, let's make this one Latino!" demographic greed about it. Have fun, kids; I don't do cop shows.

CBS: Cold Case (8:00) - TP: At Philadelphia's police headquarters, known as the Round House, Detective Lilly Rush (Kathryn Morris, "Minority Report") is the only female member of the homicide squad. She and her partner handle "cold cases," unsolved crimes that have stayed that way for years, by supplementing the original detective work with information uncovered by present-day science. Cold Case, from the creative team behind CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Without A Trace, explores such issues as why a case goes cold, why witnesses are reluctant to come forward and why unsolved cases become solvable after all these years. MHOSJ: A cop show - how unique! See above. I gather that police procedural shows are a bit different than beat shows, but there has to be some other interesting profession out there. Isn't the world outside becoming enough of a police state without us having to see yet more of it on TV (way disproportionately to the number of citizens who actually work in law enforcement)? Yeah, I know, the more cop shows on TV, so goes the theory, the more accepting viewers will be of police intrusion in their own lives... it's all kinda like Commercials for Cops!

NBC: The Lyon's Den (10:00) - TP: When the managing partner of the prestigious law office of Lyon, LaCrosse & Levine falls to his death under mysterious circumstances, an unlikely candidate is chosen to replace him -- Jack Turner (Rob Lowe, The West Wing). But Jack's passion is operating the firm's tiny, inner city law clinic, taking on the impossible cases LL&L never would. Plus, there's an undercurrent of treachery which seems to permeate throughout the entire law house. Yet, because it's his best hope to keep the clinic open, Jack reluctantly accepts the job. Now he's at the center of an ominous ensemble of conspiring fellow attorneys, ambitious paralegals and the system's most secretive and powerful players. A man has to be careful in this Lyon's Den, or he'll be next to take the fall. As if Jack didn't know that already. MHOSJ: A lawyer show - how unique! :) Seriously, I'm a little tiny bit more inclined to watch lawyer shows than cop shows, if only on the strength of very fond memories of The Paper Chase (which, to be honest, was a classroom drama rather than a law drama and besides, I would have followed John Houseman anywhere and I had a major crush on James Bridges), and boy howdy, has Rob Lowe redeemed himself or what? (Great quote from R. Kelly in that linked article, by the way... heh, "whiny little bitch"...) I might give this one a look-see.

TheWB: Tarzan and Jane (9:00) - TP: Tarzan and Jane reveals a part of the saga that has yet to be told. Flash forward two decades from the day young John Clayton was left for dead in the heart of the jungle. Today, robbed of both his birthright and his adopted home, Tarzan fights for his life in the glass and steel canyons of another jungle - New York City. From his rooftop perch, Tarzan protects the city with the primal morality that proclaimed him king of the jungle. His only human bond is Jane Porter - a beautiful and dedicated police detective who must battle her conscience as well as the criminal element. Engaged to another member of the force, Jane is torn between love, duty and her powerful attraction to this wild and dangerous vigilante. A Warner Bros. Television production, in the tradition of Smallville, from writer/co-executive producer Eric Kripke, director/executive producer David Nutter (Smallville, Without A Trace) and executive producers Laura Ziskin (Pretty Woman), David Gerber, P.K. Simonds (Party of Five). MHOSJ: I don't have enough digits to enumerate how many ways this sounds soooo wrong. Some icons (like Superman or vampires) are "updateable" or "teen-ifyable" to modern times and some (like Tarzan or the Lone Ranger) just aren't, and if you can't understand the difference, well, you probably work in network TV. (Besides, didn't this premise work far better as Beauty and the Beast? Yes, fairy tales can be updateable if you do 'em right.)

Continued above...
Faulty Premise

Have you ever noticed that Today Show news segments don't actually consist of the on-air personalities questioning their interview subjects as much as setting the scene for them? It's more like "Here's how we're going to frame things, and we'll lay it all out in a few run-on sentences and present them to you pretending that they're actually a question so the stage is set for you to agree with us before elaborating, and this will leave sleepy viewers with the impression that you, the 'expert,' have actually said this when it was our premise all along. Don't you agree?" So Matt Lauer begins his interview today with Bill Richardson (who seems to have a pretty good resume and even knows a thing or two about nukes) by saying, "South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun came to power on a very anti-US platform. Now he's standing shoulder to shoulder with Bush because he needs our help." Emphasis mine, of course. When you live in a world where the US does whatever it wants, meeting with their leader isn't a sign of needing help so much as a realization that, if it's going to bully your neighborhood, you either decide you want to try to have some input on what happens or you ignore the bully and face the fallout (let's hope that's not literal). The Korean peninsula, on the whole, seems to feel it would do much better without any US "help" (like, you know, removing our troops?), thank you very much. It's not like the two Koreas haven't been talking to one another anyway. Let me guess: Next Monday Matt's going to be reporting from the portion of the DMZ where some of our landmines (and goodness, there are a lot of them there!) have just been removed, right?

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Change of Plans

Still haven't caught up with my blogroll, too wiped from yesterday and spent much of today following up on all that work anyway. Tomorrow for sure! Meanwhile, Robin's not coming to the Food Fest with me this weekend, it's not really his thing, so if there are any NYC-area bloggers into this sort of thing, please e-mail me right away so we can make plans. Nobody should have to eat a shark kebob alone. And our out-of-town friend balked a bit at the admission price here (can't say as I blame him), so we're meeting him here instead on Monday, which suits him just fine 'cause he's a fan. Also meanwhile, Christian from upstairs continues to be, appropriately, a blessing, and we rode the bus together from the subway to the bottom of the hill this evening chatting about our building, his family (his son loved the comics and, boy howdy, will we be giving him some more!) and so forth. As Robin came to meet me, the three of us were joined briefly by a local dog-walker who admired my Firesign 25th anniversary tour jacket (one of only six in existence, so I was told at the time by the tour promoter, who had one made for himself as well), so that'll be something to tell the guys at chat tonight... Oh, and might as well throw in a brief comic recommendation; everyone go out and buy Scooter Girl, it's great fun!

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Debriefed

Sorry, preoccupied with strange pains in my right foot (cramping, mysteriously bruised big toe, etc.) and an 11+ hour day at the office today, almost none of it spent online (other than work-related e-mail). Did anything happen in the world today? Ah, I thought not.

So just a brief and dog-tired opinion on some cult TV shows from yesterday and today. Nice to see a Buffy episode that was fairly predictable in a somewhat positive way for a change; I'd almost forgotten what it was like to switch the station to Smallville without wanting to slit my wrists. And Allison Mack and Michael Rosenbaum continue to be the only actors who really sparkle in the latter show (although Mack's character is way too smart and on-the-ball to keep angsting over Clark like that, even if she is a teenager), which had some good moments and lots of really contrived ones. Speaking of contrived, The West Wing's seams are showing just a tad [Spoiler Alert] - "aha, they had to get the VP out of the way somehow and create another personal catastrophe for Martin Sheen so they could bring in the plot about the Republican Speaker temporarily taking over the Presidency." But hey, if that Speaker's played by John Goodman, I am so there. I still don't really regret not introducing myself to Goodman at that Firesign party a few years back when I had the chance, but dang, I really wish I'd had something of value to say to him so I could have worked up the nerve. He's so primo. (Nothing to say about Enterprise, BTW, but based on last week's travesty I think I'm grateful that I worked so late I didn't get to see it.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Fun and Stupid Stuff

Because every now and then, with all the fresh horrors induced by not-so-fresh horrors, you need something to take your mind off things. And goodness knows you ain't gettin' it from most late night shows (with one exception).

Via Tom Tomorrow (link at sidebar), my old acquaintance Seth Finkelstein (inheritor of Factsheet Five from Mike Gunderloy, who in turn claims he was inspired to create FF by my INSIDE JOKE among other zines, so there, another one come full circle!) has debunked the recent "Klingon Language Interpreter Needed" story that's probably run in more papers than have been fooled by Republican astroturf campaigns. Like the Weekly World News story that circulated a few weeks back about the time traveler busted for insider trading that was picked up in far too many places, there are just some stories that We Want to Believe, y'know? And I hate to break it to you, but the iLoo story's a hoax as well. People, people, people. God made Snopes for a reason; the least we can all do is click on their new entries every couple weeks or so.

On the other hand, via Mark Evanier (link at sidebar), this one's factual: the Pringles plant in TN has been shut down by the recent tornado and P&G has suspended shipping any more. I get the feeling the Riggs household is making a run on local supermarkets shortly.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Infotainment Overload

My fever from yesterday seems to have broken, but it's almost 10 AM and I'm starting to feel woozy again. I covered myself by letting my boss know about my illness when he called in, so I may leave early if this gets worse, but I'm not sure my morning commute helped very much. Some of the tree branches which have been blocking the sidewalk at the edge of the park (making walking up and down that hill a bit tricky without a machete) have fallen onto the sidewalk, and the light at the bottom of the hill was out, so I had to dodge (fortunately light) traffic twice to get to the bus stop. But before the commute I watched the first half hour of Jay Leno sitting in for Katie Couric (while she subs for him on the Tonight Show) and putting on his "serious face" to lob softball questions at Colin Powell, not even coming near stuff like this. And of course the warmongering network spoke about another supposed WMD "smoking gun" in Iraq ('cause, you know, they had an exclusive) which will doubtless be debunked quietly with little to no media attention in a couple days like all the other "smoking guns" have so far, in the same way current skepticism is buried at the bottom of many news articles. And after the commute I spotted a fellow selling these at the corner of 35th and 7th, leaving me not only to wonder what ties Mohammed Kamal's Liberty Playing Card Company in Arlington, TX has to the Bush administration but why the vendor wasn't positioned closer to the 35th Street kiosk profiteering from the 9-11 memorial t-shirts (which are now tastefully arranged right next to the "Welcome to NY, Now Die Muthafucka!" t-shirts featuring a picture of a gun). Yeah, that's the kind of morning it's been so far...

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Lies of Our Times

"Hey, Jayson Blair, how dare you take it upon yourself to plagiarize and fabricate articles for four years - without our permission?"
Mother of All Peace

Both Elaine of Kalilily and Jenny (links at sidebar) remind us of the origin of Mother's Day in this country as a day of peace, a call by Julia Ward Howe (who also wrote the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" which inspired Beth Osnes to pun the homonym and rewrite the lyrics as the "Battle Her of the Republic") in 1870 for women to wage a general strike against war. Naturally, this isn't even recognized in most mainstream accounts of the holiday's origin. (I should note that Mothering Sunday in the UK is not the same as Mother's Day in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand; the former is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, and was March 30 this year.)

As the biological determinism of Howe's argument went, We women of one country / Will be too tender of those of another country / To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. I'd like to think there's a whole mess o' men who feel this way as well nowadays, but as Geov Parrish of Working for Change notes, "Women, even more so now, are the primary sufferers of warfare." So Howe's words ring now as truly as ever they did:

From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says, "Disarm, Disarm!"
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice!
Blood does not wipe out dishonor
Nor violence indicate possession.


Parrish also notes that "Around the country, her original Mother's Day Proclamation will be the basis this year for parades, remembrances, and other events that try to reclaim the holiday's original spirit in a year when the United States' (male-dominated) government talks seriously not of avoiding war, but which ones to start next." Here's one link to things going on today. Something tells me Israel may be excepted.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Opening Up the FloodGates

So Bill Moyers interviewed Bill Gates on the installment of his program NOW which ran yesterday, all about how he's giving away 95% of his wealth to help fight infectious diseases and help with family planning issues in the Third World. This has created a weird schizophrenia among a few lefty bloggers. It looks like Jeanne d'Arc (link at sidebar) started the ball rolling by saying, "My Microsoft-hating son will never forgive me for saying this, but I love Bill Gates." To which a blogger calling himself OneMan responded at length, with more whiplash-inducing "but"s than Patty and Selma's ashtrays. The whole thing reminds me of some fanboys' reaction to an issue of a comic that didn't read the way they expected it to regardless of whether the story worked: "How dare the writer do this when he should be doing that?" An example: "Gates refuses to even address, let alone challenge, the political conditions in which poverty, disease, and poor pre- and neo-natal care are rooted." Why do I get the feeling that, if Gates were to decide to run for office, this same person would be the first to protest the intrusion of wealth into politics? I mean, sure it's annoying that all computer roads seem to lead to Gates, but he's giving back. Big time. And I may feel empathetic towards the workers he's said to have exploited (hell, I feel like I'm exploited too, okay? most office peons are) but I agree with Salon, that's bupkiss compared with the millions of kids this money will help. Ninety-five percent of $43 billion. I'm sorry, I have very little patience for people whose main point seems to be "how dare this rich person do things out of enlightened self-interest" and harp on and on about the self-interest part rather than the enlightened part. "If you're going to do good it should be entirely altruistic or don't do it at all" is a lovely pipe-dream but pretty damned unrealistic and utterly unhelpful. As Steve Bates (rhymes with... well, never mind) notes in his response, "If Bill Gates should offer the charity on whose executive committee I sit a large amount of money to pursue one of its undeniably worthy projects... even if that project somehow indirectly benefits Gates... I'll take his money without a single twinge of conscience, and write the thank-you letter myself." (As he's a contract software developer I wouldn't be surprised if he gets the old "but they're responsible for your household income" whine that I've received sometimes when talking about DC Comics with fans.) So then OneMan comes back with another blog entry: "I'm not against charitable giving per se, nor even large-scale philanthropic giving at Bill Gates' level. Rather, I am concerned with the issues of power around such giving..." I suppose it's nice to have luxury enough to sit around and debate these philosophical issues rather than, you know, fighting for survival and accepting charity graciously from one of the too few people inclined to give same. To bring this 'round again, Jeanne posts this follow-up. Update: Check out Mac Diva's comments on this as well (link at sidebar).
Machiavellianation

Via Mark Evanier, link at sidebar, Robin found this fascinating website which he spent all morning reading. It's all about what President Bush was doing the night before and the day of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. I haven't read the whole thing yet, but it discusses everything from a foiled assassination attempt on September 10, 2001 to interpreting the look on Bush's face at the Brooker School as he found out about the second plane hitting the WTC tower to wondering who knew what when. A little on the conspiracy-theory side, as is this page to which it linked, but it's hard to put anything past the manipulative cabal currently running this country so I wouldn't be at all surprised if all of it leaned more towards truth than speculation. Update: Tom Tomorrow, Lisa English and Jeralyn Merritt (links at sidebar) mention this as well.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Social Calendar

Still too mentally tired from work to think that creatively, make pithy political observations or suchlike, and there was a bit more noise upstairs than we'd have expected earlier this evening, although it stopped about 8:30. I wonder if I'm not also tired from reflecting on my actual going-outside life this month, which couldn't have come at a better time as I'm feeling way more sedentary (and achy as a result) than I'd like. This is my time of year for 3-day weekends, and so far I'm managing to space them out pretty nicely. Last Friday and Saturday we were here. This weekend (the normal 2-day variety) we're just hanging. Next weekend I'll be hitting the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival in Hell's Kitchen (yeah yeah, home of this guy, so they say), probably on both Saturday and Sunday (hey, gimme a break, I wait all year for my shark kebobs and stuffed quail and baklava and funnel cakes and corn fritters and... well, just about everything but sushi, actually). Then on Monday we're meeting a friend over here, somewhere around where this is, although I wouldn't mind seeing him either, and maybe even this - well, in any case, between all of that and this I imagine I'll be doing an awful lot of walking. On Memorial Day weekend we'll probably hide, but the Friday-through-Sunday after that we hope to be here even though they don't have Rob's name here yet. But you know, it's nice to be able to swing the admission fee if we have to, not to mention transportation costs. And of course, as these things engender, we'll be walking a lot there as well. Pass the linament, my friends!

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Still in Work Hell...

Didn't even get to peruse my blogroll today. Hope you're all well. Robin wanted me to know he saw the Naked Cowboy today in Times Square, on his way from DC Comics (where he dropped off the remaining pages and got his check for Justice League Adventures #22 or, as I like to call it, "the June rent") to my office where, sooner or later, we're going to dinner at Monster Sushi to celebrate another job well inked. Let the record show that I'd rather have that Naked Cowboy in the White House than the one we have now.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Burnout Apology

Ten hours straight in front of a computer at the office left me a little too groggy to blog straight, sorries all around. Go read Jeanne D'Arc writing about Nigeria, Darren Madigan writing about Buffy, Emma writing about airport security, Anne Zook and Cyndy Roy writing really well about darn near everything and, most importantly, read the return of Iraqi blogger Salam Pax. Links at sidebar. I'm going to go watch the Yankees and Mariners again.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

The One Cool Thing About William Bennett...

...is that his wife spells her name correctly. :)

In speaking of the whole hypocritical-Bennett mess, one blogger (can't remember who at the moment, as I'm very sleep-deprived; Christian went somewhere in a taxi at 3:30 AM and Jenny got up at 6:45 AM and, as relatively quiet as they are compared with the idiots who lived upstairs before them, any movement in the wee hours will always wake me up) mentioned surprise that rich people even bother to play the slots. He shouldn't be astonished at all. My parents are fairly well off (not Bennett level, certainly, but retired in comfort), live in Vegas in the wintertime and near Atlantic City in the summertime so they're at the casinos fairly often, and it's almost exclusively nickel poker and cheap buffets for them. Now okay, they're not gambling addicts, they just do it for fun, so maybe it's unusual for a rich addict to indulge in the penny-ante stuff. But as someone who's been dragged to just about every different kind of nickel poker machine (okay, and a few quarter ones, but mind you only the ones that "pay well"), I can affirm that they don't just appeal to the lower-income bracket.

Monday, May 05, 2003

Five By Five

Given this history of Cinco de Mayo, I fear it may lead to even more French-bashing in our current atmosphere. Oh, and speaking of French-bashing, please check out yesterday's Doonesbury and the English translation thereof. Okay, "conquer monkeys" is a bit mean-spirited, but not nearly as much as bashing an entire country just because they disagreed with our policies. I'm really pouty over this, I miss bashing them just 'cause they're French and not having it mean anything other than a stupid joke.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Relatively Immoral

As I suspected, I'm still too tired to blog much today, but I want to keep my "new content daily" promise to myself. Just wanted to relate a conversation that Rob and I had today about moral relativism. It's hard to imagine that we once lived in a world where, 33 years ago today, most people - including the media - were horrified that National Guardsmen fired upon college students, killing four young Americans whose only crime was to protest what they considered an unjust war. (Thanks to Cyndy Roy at Mousemusings, link at sidebar, for reminding me of the Kent State killings.) And today nobody bats an eyelash at the National Guardsmen stationed throughout New York City (we spotted a few fresh-faced lads yesterday at Columbus Circle) who would cause far more civilian havoc were they ever to employ their rifles. (But of course they're not there to protect as much as intimidate, on the theory that a fearful population is a docile one.) And nobody seems the least bit surprised at Bush's characterization of millions and millions of citizens throughout the world as a "focus group" to be disdained (when his reactions to actual focus groups for moneyed interests is in reality quite the opposite) when they protest what they consider an unjust war.

I have trouble getting a handle on the 21st century, maybe because I remember what life was like before Reagan and Thatcher began the downward spiral which still affects so much of the world. I remember when at least lip service was paid to the idea that the disparity between rich and poor was too great and ought to be remedied, not worsened. I remember the outrage when people who needed serious mental help were left to fend for themselves, and the subsequent hardening of the populace's hearts against these now homeless people, years before lack of pity (which perhaps masked secret shame) turned into actual glee at their plight. Heck, I wasn't even reading comics until '85 or so but I still remember when the point of writing and drawing superheroes was to portray them as, you know, heroic. I remember back before irony and satire became crudeness and meanness. I feel like the world is becoming more curmudgeonly and I'm the naïf left behind, blinking and bewildered.

There's a saying that even the most evil person doesn't see him or herself as evil. (Another failing of many slot-A-into-flap-B written superhero comics today - that the heroes are assholes and the villains are one-dimensional cookie-cutter.) But you know you're in trouble when the people you consider the most amoral and callous are the very ones who don't even question their own actions, who seem to have no thought behind what they do. There's moral relativism and then there's the absolute lack of any moral clarity at all. I can kind of understand the former, even if I may not agree with someone else's scale, but the latter just infuriates me. Nobody should be that damn sure of themselves, particularly when their policies can affect much of the world. It's bad enough to be shrewd and calculating and Machiavellian, but to be cocksure and smarmy and arrogant about it... I mean, it not only makes you look evil, it pretty much makes you evil. Of course, I'm sure that was only true under those old, outdated moral codes, conceived of in a time when heroes were heroic.