Saturday, September 25, 2010

Obligatory Saturday Grab Bag

I woke up today thinking I really had to make sure I made time for the SGB so that I could keep the blog on schedule this week. Then I remembered that I already blew it by taking a sick day on Thursday. But, since I'm here ...


So as mentioned, the inspiration for this week's rollout of a quasi-official daily programming plan was the new fall TV season. But of course I haven't talked about tv all week. Some quick highlights:

- Caught How I Met Your Mother on Monday and it was encouragingly good, not instant-classic fantastic but amusing enough that we will probably continue watching it more often than not.
- I think we just ended up watching baseball on Tuesday, even though the new Biggest Loser premiered. "We" rather than "me" because my wife was home early thanks to The Bug. The Bug also left her feeling so drained that she couldn't handle the blatant emotional manipulation of TBL, which they do lay on pretty thick in the first episode because it's all about these people who realize they are walking physiological Superfund sites but have yet to do anything about it. We did actually flip over for about five seconds to watch a guy our age weeping openly about how his own dad died young from obesity-related complications and he didn't want to do that to his own son. And that was enough of that.
- I half-watched Modern Family on Wednesday whilst laid low by The Bug and waiting for my wife to get home. HIMYM-level goodness, too, but I usually have plans on Wednesday so I probably won't catch very many episodes.
- Thursday was the evening we had been anticipating all summer, and it did not disappoint. Well, Outsourced was disappointing in every aesthetic sense, but we were prepared for it to be atrocious, so by that reckoning, meh.

Let's go to the clip!
I do happen to think pretty much every episode of Community is a fantastic instant-classic, which means sooner or later I'm going to start buying the seasons on DVD even though I've already seen them all, because I will be jonesing for bonus features. Plus the season premier ended with a Toto/Africa joke which ... I don't know if you guys know this, but that's worth immeasurable extra credit where my wife and I are concerned. 30 Rock did what it does best, which is walking the line between modern-work-life relatability and wacky live-action cartoon. I'm sure some people found the gag about Pete enjoying relations with his sound-asleep wife distastefully over-the-top, especially because they cut to the ickiness twice, but if I may play the apologist for a second, what you may not have noticed if you were busy flinching and averting your eyes and howling "oh no WHY???" was the moment between the two cutaways where Pete says to Liz something along the lines of "Think of it again!" Which means both cutaways were not literal Pete-perspective flashbacks but all in Liz's imagination. Which means Pete may have been exagerating, or lying outright just to mess with Liz. Or telling the truth. I know that's a weaselly way of trying to have it both ways, but at the very least it was a deliberate attempt to make the too-far-over-the-line stuff a little bit layered. Anyway ...

And The Office is still The Office, and since the season finale back in May didn't have too many cliffhangers that needed major resolution, we got a season premier that jiggled things a little bit but could very easily have been dropped into the middle of any past season. Michael make a bad managerial decision, Jim and Pam prank Dwight - the details were new but the formula was classic. Which doesn't really faze me, because for me The Office passed into Hang Out Entertainment territory a long time ago and doesn't have to be groundbreaking on my account. And let me just make this appeal one time for the record: can we all please stop carping on sit-coms, specifically, for plot advancement or lack thereof? Lost, what have ye done? If you want your mystery-based serialized dramas to offer one little clue or hint of resolution every week, fine, that's fair. But sit-coms? Really? Do we have to get all up in arms whenever HIMYM doesn't directly move Ted one step closer to finding his kids' mom? What really set me off on this was a review of The Office I read in which the reviewer lamented the fact that the season premier did not in any way shape or form address the fact that this is Steve Carrell's last season on the show and if The Office keeps going at least one more season (and it will) then Dunder Mifflin (a division of Sabre) will need a new regional manager. Apparently the reviewer wanted every single episode of this 22-ep season to play out the storyline of Michael Scott deciding to leave and his replacement being found. To which I say OH MY GOD ARE YOU KIDDING ME COME ON. That sounds boring enough to make me claw my own eyes out. You want to know how many episodes it should take to introduce and resolve the idea of Michael leaving? Six. TOPS. But I suppose we shall see.


I didn't have time for the SGB last weekend, which was a shame because I wanted to point out what a David Foster Wallace kind of week the prior one was in my world. I finished reading The Broom of the System, which was more or less my back-to-school fiction novel for September. Good stuff, and well-timed, too, because the last thing I had read by DFW prior to that was a collection of essays and articles, and those are usually designed to have some kind of meaningful closure to them, whereas his novels tend to be more blatantly defiant of notions like traditional narrative structure and endings. So I was well primed when the news broke that week that DFW's final work is going to be posthumously published in April 2011. Normally I'm against that sort of thing, because unfinished work should just be left alone, but since DFW has that kind of incomplete, life-is-messy quality at its best, I'm more than ok with it. Looking forward to it, in fact.

Of course things come in threes, and as is often the case with me the third instance that week came in the form of My Guilty Pleasure on NPR. The subject was David Lipsky and his guilty pleasure was Runaways, which is a comic book series that falls into the rarest of categories: it's published by a Big Two company (Marvel) and is set in their super-hero universe but it is a critical darling. It is in fact a series I keep meaning to go back and check out but never have, which is something I feel guilty about in my weird obsessive way, but Lipsky called it a guilty pleasure not only because of the cultural baggage that still attches to tights-n-fights comics but also because if you buy the collections you most likely buy them in the most commonly found format, which is digest-sized and almost indistinguishable from romance manga, because Runaways has some strong chick appeal. Anyway, DFW never had a huge investment in superheroes so the connection here seems tenuous at best, and in fact as I was listening to Lipsky's piece I wasn't thinking about the connection at all, and then they ID'ed Lipsky afterwards as the author of Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself which is about a five day road trip with ... DFW. To which I could only say, of course, of course.


It was 98 degrees yesterday in DC. Remember the guy who nailed up a sign over a snow bank this past winter saying CO2 HOAX? I so want to punch that guy in the throat.


OK, so now I apparently have to make a roadtrip to Jersey in the spring:

Press Release

Twist my arm.

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