The Comeback

Not a deep post about rebooting one’s self. Just a confession that I’ve become addicted to Lisa Kudrow’s overlooked 2005 gem “The Comeback” during my final, furious code marathon. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a treat you can see via Amazon Prime.


Arrested Development Season 4 Mr. F references (MINOR SPOILERS)

I didn’t pick these up during my first run-through of the show. In my grief, I get one spoiler alert. Ok, three. But I won’t reveal what these characters have to do with Mr. F or the Featherbottom legacy. I’ll give the episode, though, if you want to look for them.

Episode 8: Red Hairing

Hey, it’s Herman and Featherbottom!

Episode 9: Smashed

What is Tommy Tune doing on Arrested Development?

Episode 12: Señoritis

Maeby is her father’s daughter…and her mother’s daughter…


I’ve got DIRECTV back. When I first moved to my current address, I had DISH, as there was already a DISH satellite attached to a poll rising six feet in the air from my front roof. My most visited blog post remains DISH Network Sucks. I think I may have “cut the cord” briefly but then tried Time Warner Cable…for about a day. The installation process was a disaster. I had heard DIRECTV was better. So didn’t stick with TWC. I went to DIRECTV, and it was terrific.

But then I decided I’d cut the cord again. I took a hiatus. Then I reactivated with a more stripped-down plan. Then I took another hiatus. Then I quit. Initially, I was trying to save money. Later, I decided that all of the TV options were too much of a distraction, and quite a bit too much money. However, I would’ve been receptive to the right deal had the cancellation rep offered it.

So I’d been one of those people who was too cool for cable or satellite TV for about a year-and-a-half. But lately I’ve been wondering why I deprive myself. I’m not happier watching good shows nine months after they’ve aired. I’m not happier only having the option of watching The Daily Show on my laptop…I don’t like watching it on my laptop. I WANT to watch breaking news on the TV when it happens. I LIKE to watch live sports. I don’t like 95% of what’s on, but I can afford the $70/month right now, so, damn it, I’m not going to deprive myself anymore.

I wanted to go back to DIRECTV a couple of weeks ago, but the rep I spoke with would not give me the new customer deal since I had not been an ex-customer for at least two years. Thus, I had another flirtation with Time Warner Cable, whom, as I recently posted, failed to win me over. Today, I visited the vendor selling DIRECTV for Costco. He told me that I should be able to get the new customer deal as long as I didn’t mention the whole being-a-recent-customer thing. In fact, the DIRECTV rep who confirmed my order via phone simply asked if I was currently a DIRECTV customer.

It will be re-installed on Wednesday. 3 free months of HBO and Showtime. (And Cinemax, but, WTF is on Cinemax?) I can watch Mad Men with the rest of the country. I can watch Game of Thrones even if I don’t know what the hell is going on. I can catch up on HBOGO…or I can just read some summaries on the internet. I actually did watch a fair amount of Season One during my last engagement with DIRECTV.

So I’ve missed essentially two entire Duke basketball seasons now. On one level, I haven’t cared at all. Truly. Being a fan just hasn’t been that important. Yet…on another level, I miss being a fan. Being a fan is a lot of fun, and it does take you out of your decrepit life for a couple of hours here and there. (I don’t mean your decrepit life; I mean mine. And I don’t mean my life is decrepit. It’s just the random adjective that popped out).

On that note, I’ve gotten a subscription to MLB Extra Innings for what amounts to something like $5/month. I truly did love major league baseball when I was a kid. I haven’t loved it in at least 20 years, but I feel like giving it a try.

The moral of the story is…let yourself be entertained for Pete’s sake.

Stuck in the YouTube ’80s TV theme and credits vortex

This would’ve just been a Facebook post, but then I remembered I had a blog.

Wow…Jeffrey Tambor played Mr. Hart on the short-lived early 80s sitcom version of 9-to-5. If only this knowledge could get me places.

Now, this show I remember. Another Arrested Developer, Jason Bateman, had his first starring role here after stints on Little House on the Prairie and Silver Spoons.

I remember this one, too. I liked this one. Katey Sagal’s younger twin sisters starred.

And this one, too. How did I enjoy these shows? I cannot possibly have understood this. Any credit sequence with heads in boxes looking around at each other is a winner.

I’ve had my fill. These are all 30 years old. Sick.

Satellite TV Round 4?

I just came perilously close to signing up for DirecTV for second contract, where my first run with them lasted three years which included two viewing spans and two hiatuses. Prior to that, I was satellite-less for about a year, had canceled Time Warner Cable before it started due to a terrible installation experience.

Before that, I had Dish, but got rid of it because it only worked with the ridiculous dish-on-a-pole erected on the roof in the front of the house. It had been put there by past tenants, so I inherited it upon renting the house six years ago. Since Dish requires a higher clearance angle than DirecTV, there was no viable location for the dish, so I dumped it. My 7-10-07 post “DISH Network Sucks” is the most-viewed and most-commented-on post I’ve had. Google “dish network sucks” and…well, I used to be on the first page of search results; now I’m on the second. People post their stories. I don’t even read them. But it’s amusing.
So this would be my fourth round of satellite TV service in this house…if I signed up. I’m on the checkout screen. Factoring in the second 12 months’ rate hike as part of a 24-month contract, the various rebates, the Costco cash card, and taxes, I would get what I want, on average throughout the 24 months, for just $54.

And what I want is specifically:
– MSNBC (for shows like Rachel Maddow)
– CurrentTV (for 24/7 liberal Kool Aid)
– AMC (for maybe 1-3 shows)
– FX (for maybe 1-3 shows)
– ESPN (for the occasional sports I care about)
– Comedy Central (for Stewart and Colbert, which I don’t bother watching on the Internet)
– TNT (for maybe 1-3 shows)
– Other (for maybe 1-3 shows that may arise on some other channel at some point)

All of the rest is distraction. And this is what is preventing me from going ahead. $54 is a pretty good deal, I think, for the contentment I will get from having what seems like not a whole lot of television. Still, it is inevitable I’ll watch far more. I don’t have to have a DVR, but it’s free with this deal, and I will inevitably record network programming that I wouldn’t otherwise keep up with now. I’ll find other stuff.

Watching current TV programming can both keep me better connected to the world, not just current events but entertainment that other people are also currently enjoying. On the other hand, watching all that programming gives me more excuses to hole myself up in my house and avoid trying to connect to the world in more meaningful ways.

I imagine I might cancel Netflix streaming, so that would save me an extra $10 a month. I wouldn’t need to spend $1.99 to watch same-season episodes of Mad Men and Dallas, which I’ve done in recent months.

There’s the principal of living without cable/satellite.

Then there’s the live-is-short principal. Why miss out on stuff I enjoy?

I’ll sleep on it.

New York: A Documentary Film

A quick entertainment note. I just finished the 17 1/2 hour epic New York documentary by Ric Burns. (I watched it streaming via Amazon Prime.) It’s first seven episodes were produced in 1999 and aired in 2001, with an eighth episode produced in 2003 chronicling the history of the Twin Towers. Watching that eighth episode in not a happy way to spend a Friday night, or any three hours, for that matter. Some of the video footage zooms in much closer than what you may have seen before.

Anyway, the first seven episodes cover 1605 to approximately 1980 (it zips through the last couple of decades of the 20th century.) It’s fascinating. So, I highly recommend it, if you don’t mind a 1000-minute documentary that occasionally stops to linger on a pivotal event for 20-30 minutes at a time. And most of the story of New York is pretty bleak. Burns doesn’t delve into topics of leisure. You want see or hear anything about theater or sports or television. Up not for attempting a full-scale review–I never am, because I just don’t write such things very well.

Let me see if I can quickly rattle off a few of topics that I especially fascinated me:
– The original topography of Manhattan
– The destruction of most of what was Manhattan during the Revolutionary War
– The exponential population growth in the second half of the 19th century
– The explosion of skyscraper building in the first half of the 20th century
– The almost-maniacal building of highways, bridges, and residential “urban renewal” projects by the all-powerful Robert Moses
– Early photos from the mid-19th-century
– Early Edison Kinetoscope video from the late-19th-century (I suppose those would be “motion” pictures)

I’m done. It’s 1:23 AM. I spent 17 1/2 hours doing something, so I figured I should record it. Ironically, I also just finished a very famous book that takes place in New York City. Not sure if I will give that a blurb in here or not.

Vote AGAINST N.C. Amendment 1

Amendment One is not merely “the gay marriage amendment”. But the impetus for the amendment, its sponsors will tell you, is the word of God, and God’s condemnation of homosexuality.

I don’t study the Bible. Fortunately, President Bartlet does.

Things I Did On My Summer Vacation #4 Mad Men

52 episodes in 39 days, says my Netflix instant watching activity. That includes 8 episodes watched on Labor Day, in a successful attempt to finish before I returned to work.

Mad Men is perhaps the best television drama series I have seen. You’ve probably heard this praise from others. The Television Academy of Arts & Sciences thinks highly of it, having awarded it three four consecutive Emmys for its first three four seasons. Next weekend, we’ll see if Season Four picks up the top prize, too. I had heard Mad Men was good, but I didn’t have any more of a desire to see it than I did The Sopranos. I still haven’t see a single episode of that. And I still haven’t seen an episode of The Wire.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Six Feet Under. My list of great televisions dramas that I’ve seen every episode of stops there. (I’ve seen plenty of pretty good ones…L.A. Law and various similar David E. Kelley shows…if I think about it longer, I can come up with a pretty good list of pretty good television dramas.) I may have seen every episode of Dallas, but many of its 357 episodes weren’t very good, and I was too young to get a lot of what I was watching. Speaking of Dallas, I have a few more thoughts on that iconic show. Later. Back to Mad Men…

I’m not adept at writing full-scale reviews. So I’ll just be succinct. Mad Men puts me in a different time and place in a more authentic way than anything else I can recall other than maybe a Saving Private Ryan. It may even be a stylized version of a narrow subset of early 60’s America, but it’s endlessly fascinating. There was not a single episode where I felt it was okay to leave the room, leave the show running, and return a couple of minutes later. All 47 or 48 minutes need to be watched. Those opening credits…I loved seeing and hearing the opening 52 times, setting the tone for the show. And then the closing credits were always an integral part of the episode. Whether there was a period song or the haunting score of David Carbonara.

The stories…the advertising campaigns…how the characters can fleshed out over four seasons….how humor gets inserted

Acting…Jon Hamm…you hear a lot about him…because he’s that good. And he hasn’t won an Emmy yet. The show has won every year, but no won has won for acting yet. I love, love, love Elisabeth Moss. I mean, I shouldn’t love actresses I know nothing about, other than that she was terrific as Zoe Bartlett on The West Wing (and she was briefly married to SNL’s Fred Armisen?) Her character Peggy Olson experiences the most growth through the four seasons. From the naive newbie secretary to Don to the confident indepensible contributor who has won Don’s respect and friendship. Give Elisabeth Moss an Emmy.

The showrunner Matthew Weiner seems intent on making every single scene a work of art in itself, and I rarely get that sense from a television program and only occasionally in film.

And time is up on this blog entry. I’ve just started on Breaking Bad, and I can tell that Bryan Cranston is certainly deserving of his Emmys.