Monday, October 24, 2011

About That Promise of Blogging Today

Something has come up. Likely will continue hiatus for a bit. Hope your day has been wondrous.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I Will Blog Again. . . Promise

But the week that I've been really bad at blogging also happened to be one of my more productive weeks for getting things lined up for long term writing work. So, I am not terribly apologetic about my absence. I've just got a little more work I need to do on a few projects and then I'll resume back to my usual blogging schedule. Definitely will be back on Monday, and depending how I feel, maybe even tomorrow.

For now, go out and enjoy your Saturday. That is why they were invented.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Permanent Fall of Gaddafi

I took a short break from the salt mines to discover a pretty huge piece of news. Muammar Gaddafi, the recently ousted dictator of Libya, died from gunshot wounds shortly after being discovered hiding in a sewer drain. It is a rather symbolic end for a man who has been known for his horrible treatment of his people and his constant support of several terrorist attacks on numerous countries. I'm not one to rejoice in the death of a man, but I also don't have a lot of good to say about this tyrant who is now dead.

I think his death in some ways may be even more significant than the death of Osama Bin Laden. Bin Laden's death was a significant blow to Al-Qaeda, but the operation still moves along without him. While Gaddafi's death is the official end to his 42 year reign of terror in Libya, and I'm sure his supporters have lost a significant amount of momentum (because unless The Walking Dead is a documentary, I don't see him able to run the country anymore). I am not naive enough to say there isn't going to be insurgents, but I do feel this will be a pretty major victory for those fighting against the tyranny of Libya.

There is already talk about actively moving forward with democracy, and putting the policies in place that were desired back when Gaddafi was ousted in the summer. Canada (and other countries) has also frozen several Libyan assets, and many other actions are quickly being pushed forth. It looks like we'll be witnessing some major changes in that nation and we'll soon find out if they'll be good.

It has been a revolutionary year in the Middle East. Literally. There has been several uprising, and a few led to removals of leadership. The success in Libya may inspire even more to stand up, and start making radical changes. The end of a 42 year dictatorship is a massive thing, and shows that the Middle East is reaching a significant turning point in its history. Now, we just find out if it really will lead to democracy and liberty and freedoms.

I really hope this marks the end of massive bloodshed in Libya. The media has made it seem that Gaddafi was the major force for all the guerilla attacks and recent onslaughts. Now, we'll find out if he has enough followers that want to carry on even if their leader has been killed. It's a blow that will damage them significantly, and the talk points to a belief it is time to move forward.

I may or may not have more to say as the news comes out on this. I am sure this will have a far reaching impact beyond just Libya, and the days will show what type of impact that will be. For now, I'm going to return to the work that has consumed my last week or so. But I really wanted to chime in with my thoughts, because I believe this to be a pretty significant event.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Yes, My Hiatus Has Been Too Long; So Have a Video of My Cat

Because watching a cat work hard to clean my dishes are exactly what makes up for my absence. Look it up, it's the universal form of appeasement used by writers when they unexpectedly disappear.

Yeah, I've been incognito this week, and I've stretched my hiatus way past the promised 4 days. I've been trying to finish up some projects that should lead to long term work. And since work is sort of the way I plan to care for my family, this is a very good and important thing. I'm hoping to wrap up the intense stuff real soon, and then I can go back to my usual procrastinating on this blog and my other favourite sites of distraction.

How has your week been?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Quick Weekend Sports Thoughts

I'm still trying to finish up the very things that put me on my short blog hiatus, but I wanted to chime in with my thoughts on one some of the sport events of the weekend.

Now, last night was what I wanted to see out of my Chicago Bears. For the second straight week, my favourite football team got one of the nationally televised prime time spots. Unlike last week where they got stomped by the Lions and didn't look like a team that only a year ago was in the NFC Championship, they looked magnificent against the Minnesota Vikings and laid down a rather delicious clobbering. In a pretty huge game between two NFC North Division rivals, the Chicago Bears pulled off a major 39-10 win. I realize the Vikings are currently dwelling in the basement of the NFC North, but Bears would have had to share it with them if they lost this week. That is a hard pill to swallow when only a year ago they clinched this division, and were just a game away from playing in the Super Bowl.

It was a great game if you're a Bears fan, because they really showed vast improvement compared to the disaster that was last week. The offensive line actually remained awake and did a pristine job of protecting Cutler. Cutler continued to show that he really is one of the better QBs in the NFL by performing marvellously once again (with the added bonus of actually getting time to do his magic). Devin Hester had an amazing night scoring two touchdowns. One of those touchdowns was a 90 plus yard kick return, which was guaranteed highlight reel material. Forte wasn't used as much this week and this is a good thing, because you can't rely on one man to give you over 40% of your offensive output. Though, I still hope the GM turns around and offers Forte the money he wants, because the Bears need the man in order to go far. The Bears made some key changes after last week's loss, and looked really strong this time out. I have some confidence that things can be turned around, and the Bears still have a shot at a playoff spot (it's going to be tough with the Lions and Packers pulling away from the pack).

Speaking of tough, Game 6 was a tough one for both Brewer and Tiger fans. The Tigers and Ranger series was a real delight to watch and brought some exciting and competitive ball. The Tigers fell apart in Game six, and they were trounced by the Rangers. It was a rather disappointing finish on what had been a close series up to that point. The same goes for the Brewers-Cardinals series, which had been extremely close until the final game where Cardinals cruised to the National League Championship.

I liked the idea of the Milwaukee Brewers battling the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, because it really is two cities that need a huge break (it'd be nice to have them both get a shot at finally having a championship). I am also at peace with a St. Louis Cardinals-Texas Rangers World Series. It is still a really fresh match up. I have grown to become a pretty big Rangers fan (I always had a soft spot for them, but I love the energy this team has showed the past two seasons). I love Ron Washington, and how excited and passionate he gets during the game. I can't wait to see how he will respond if his boys actually bring home the big championship this year. I also think it should be a really good World Series. Both the National League and American League Championship were competitive series if you discount the final game blow outs. I'm looking forward to a high energy and extremely competitive final series.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

High Ate Us

And here I always thought it was going to be a thousand ton lizard that emerged from the ocean that would do us all in.

On a totally separate note, I'm feeling incredibly overwhelmed by my business at the moment and feeling I need to play a serious game of catch up. In order to do that, something needs to get cut, and since this blog does a horrible job of paying the mortgage, I'm taking a very short hiatus.

The plan is to take a few days off from the blog and catch up on everything that needs to be caught. I'll then return on Monday where I'll be sufficiently whelmed again.

To make up for my four day absence, here is a delightful picture of two cute but tired animals.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Quick Wednesday TV Thoughts

Quick Wednesday TV Thoughts

I caught a few things on TV after slogging away in the salt mines (I've dropped a few grains of salt in my keyboard).

American League Championship: I've really been digging this series, and I'm becoming a bigger and bigger Texas Rangers fan by the day. I just love the passion of the team, and I think it is impossible to not love head coach Washington. But I really hope Texas doesn't win tomorrow, because it has been a wonderful series and I'm not ready for it to end.

Once again the game went 3-3 in the 11th, and once again Cruz smashes a huge homer to cement victory for the Rangers with a 7-3 win. It was another super dramatic win, but this time you didn't get the same atmosphere since it was in Detroit. I'll take this as a small measure of revenge against that city for their football winning on Monday night.

I liked last season, unlike many others, but I have to say this season is shaping up to be much more intriguing and unpredictable. There isn't one person controlling the game, but there does seem to be many individuals that believe they’re controlling the game. So, it makes for a pretty fun and twisty kind of ride.

I loved the blindside on Elyse, because you know it will cause a raging and suspicious Ozzie for next week. I love watching the tribes slowly implode. I am sure Lil' Hantz will continue to break down as well, and cause more damage to that tribe. We didn't see much from him this week since his tribe won immunity, but you know Mikayla doesn't trust the boy.

I have to say that I am not a fan of that 'ripping off meat with your teeth challenge.' It is stomach turning, and I am pretty sure it will haunt me in my nightmares (I prefer the dream where my baby is birthed as a toddler). Despite having the grossest challenge ever this week, it was a really great episode. I love the planning between Jim and Cochrane, and I hope it continues to shake things up. I am standing by the fact it will blow in the face of Jim and he'll be seeing Redemption Island soon (either him or Ozzy may end up next). I also love how Coach got really upset about being called Benjamin and claiming even his parents call him Coach. The man also seemed confused over if he really was running the tribe or not. I really think this season is better due to neither of the returnees being strategic powerhouses but being valuable enough to be kept around. It has been a good season for many new players to take the spotlight. Except for Cowboy Rick, who I think said about 5 words this week.

Modern Family: This show has been on an amazing role this season. Way too much funny to recap here, but so many moments that I'm sure I'll look back on and continue to laugh. I like the Claire running for councillor story line, and even more so with David Cross as the opposition (give that man an ice cream cake). It was also a good episode to remind us why the world still doesn't have too many stay at home dads. The whole scenario with Cameron wanting to chase down the hit and runner, and then leading to all the men tracking down the kid who stole Hailey's money was jammed with comedy. Like I said, there is too much to recount here, and it was one of those episodes that shows how much Modern Family is way above every other sitcom.

I also saw way too many Footloose ads. Was this really a movie that had to be remade? Damn, all these '80s remakes make me feel really old. I'm fearful a Gremlins or Weekend at Bernie's re-imagining is on the way. But the trailers of Footloose make it seems like almost the exact same movie as the original, which is enough reason to inspire me to save my money.

On the other hand, I caught a peak of the new Avengers trailer, and against my better judgement, I'm actually pretty psyched about seeing that next summer. What can I say; I'm a sucker for mass destructions of metropolises.

The Continuation of the TV Fall Premiere Reviews

I've offered up a couple of reviews on some of the premieres that have been trotted out this TV fall season, and here is a look at a few more shows I've been able to catch.

Person of Interest: The TV landscape is littered with crime dramas, and I often find the distinctions between each show fairly superficial ('Hey look, this one stars a female and is set in Chicago!"). This is one of the few crime drama/action series that stars Jesus. Well okay, it stars the actor, Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in Passion of the Christ. So, I wouldn't expect too much water turned to wine, but maybe the show will have a crucifixion.

The real twist that made this series stand out and cause me to want to watch it, was the concept where there was a computer that would be able to uncover planned out crimes and then John Reese (aka Jesus) would use all his ex CIA agent superpowers (just like the son of God would) to thwart the evil crime. It is a very similar concept to The Minority Report, which I thought was a pretty underrated film (it's also a Phillip K. Dick short story -- seriously how many films and TV shows have stemmed from this man's works?). The idea is that after 9/11 the government wanted a way to be able to uncover any other possible mass terrorist attacks on the country, and so they enlisted a billionaire genius, Mr. Finch (Michael Emerson) to create the supercomputer that can do just the thing. It ended up being far more effective than expected, because it was also able to catch smaller scale travesties like kidnappings or murders. This all eventually leads to Mr. Finch having access to the all the small scale crimes, and using Emerson to try to put a stop to them.

The show has potential to explore the whole idea of liberties/privacy vs. security. It is a world where the government has many cameras all around and is patrolling our daily lives in order to keep us safe. It is scary close to Big Brother (as in George Orwell's 1984 not the reality show). Unfortunately, the show keeps all that as a background thing, and instead focuses on the crime fighting aspect.

The show does have some layers, and has some clear long term story lines and twists in store. For example, we know that Ermerson and Finch both lost loved ones, but we've only been given a small piece of what happened. There is also the idea that both these guys are essentially dispensing vigilante justice, and so they're trail is being followed by a cop. It also has been made clear that the NYPD has some rather crooked individuals, and I am sure it will lead to many more major issues in the future. It looks like the series has potential for some intriguing long term stories that will help keep the show different from the other crime dramas.

The biggest issue is the show is pretty cliché at this point. Many of the scenes, lines and elements were snagged right from your typical action films. Even the vigilante being chased by the honest cop is far from a new idea, and has been used by countless prior films, comics, and shows. The idea of the computer predicting the crimes is pretty different for a TV show, but the next few weeks will decide if that concept is enough.

I really enjoyed the first episode, and it had a good deal of action and twists. It can be a formula that will become predictable if they try to always 'surprise' the viewer. The long term story lines either have the potential to be really compelling, or risk ending up being far too predictable. I liked what I saw the first time around and the acting was good enough, and I'll stick around to see if the show can veer from falling into the usual tropes and formula. The show's ratings are pretty solid, and so it doesn't look like you'll be wasting your time if you want to stick with it for the first season.

Pan Am: It is the second '60s era show that is clearly inspired by the success of Mad Men, but I am sure ABC is hoping it fares far better than The Playboy Club. It looks at air travel when it was at its apex and the Pan-Am airlines that was a major part of the culture. There is a focus on the Pam Am stewardesses that not only were sex symbols of the time, but also could be considered a symbol of female empowerment. I know today we wouldn't necessarily label the flight stewardesses of the time as the epitome of the feminist movement, but it needs to be remembered women didn't hold a lot of powerful jobs. Being a stewardess allowed women the freedom to travel the world during a time you'd have to be fairly well off to do it, and it was a job that was almost borderline celebrity for some.

Of course, the Pan Am airline's impact on the 60s culture and the feminist movement could be properly chronicled by a documentary. So, the purpose of the show isn't necessarily to be a history lesson, but rather provide some exciting '60s themed drama. Pan Am definitely kicked off the series with some interesting storylines in the premiere, and several of them will be a driving force for most of the season (and maybe series). In the first episode you've got a stewardess wrestling with the discovery that she unknowingly played a part in an infidelity, another stewardess involved in Cold War style espionage, the pilot wondering where his girlfriend (also a stewardess) has disappeared to, some delightful sibling rivalry, and some other hinted at tensions that will be revealed over the season. The cast is fairly large and there were several intersecting stories, but it was handled well enough that you never lost track of what was going on. It was left open enough so that you can look forward to the following episodes, but it resolved enough for you to be satisfied with the premiere.

The atmosphere of the show is excellent thanks to great sets and costumes. The show is also full of small little touches that play tribute to the time period. There was an ongoing story throughout the show where people would notice one of the stewardesses being the same person on the cover of the latest Life magazine cover, and also talk between stewardesses about how she is a celebrity now. Life magazine may not mean much now, but it was a massive institution in the '60s, and played a huge part of shaping that decade. I also enjoyed the scene where they showed how regimented and strict the company was over the appearance of the stewardesses including the dress and figure. In the scene, they had the stewardesses weighed and each was reminded of the necessity of a girdle. The first episode even made reference to major events of the time period including the releasing of prisoners at the Bay of Pigs. I got a chuckle during the Bay of Pigs scene when one of the pilots mentioned how Castro's days as leader were clearly numbered. As a history buff, I appreciated how it captured the mood of the time, and tried to insert many references to major moments of the time period.

The acting is strong and the story telling isn't over the top. There weren’t any real moments that I felt were too farfetched based off the time period we were looking at (the espionage story worked considering the Cold War hysteria of the time). The stories were understated and allowed time to grow. It looks like the show has some key plans in the place, and will allow the time for them to properly build up. Of course, my fear is the ratings aren't where they want them, which could mean they start rushing the stories and try to 'soap' them up a bit. I really liked the start, and felt it was one of the much stronger series premieres this season.

New Girl: I decided to give this one a look after it was getting rave reviews and ended up being one of the first new shows to get renewed for the whole season. Its premise is essentially a girl finds out her boyfriend was cheating on her, and as a way to rebound she moves into an apartment with 3 guys. I've heard of weaker and more farfetched premises, but sometimes you just ignore the silliness if the actual show turns out strong.

Zooey Deschanel has lots of charisma and charm and she is diabetic inducingly sweet. I am pretty sure her current lofty status in pop culture is driving the popularity of the show. The characters for the most part are caricatures and don't resemble someone I actually know. The situations are about as unbelievable. Despite saying that, the show does have its charm. I haven't figured out if repeated reviewing is going to lead to me needing insulin shots.

I didn't find it outright funny, but I did smile at parts. If you're into your relationship stories, they're clearly doing a slow build between Zooey's character Jessica and one of her roommates, Nick. They actually seem to have pretty good chemistry, though shows like this work better with the build up towards the relationship rather than the actual relationship. I'm not sure if today's shows have the patience to pull a Moonlighting or Cheers where they successfully waited years before finally uniting the main characters. I haven't decided yet if I like the show enough to stick around to find out which direction this goes with the potential love birds.

Suburgatory: I was shocked with how much I really dug this premiere, and it is definitely my favourite of the new sitcoms I caught this season. Essentially, after her father finds a condom in her drawer, a New York girl is ripped out of her comfortable surroundings and forced to move to the suburbs. The place where everyone seems to have an orange glow, most spend countless hours texting or shopping, and the women are more plastic than a Barbie doll. The show is really over the top and is a massive parody of rich suburban life. The only characters that aren't depicted in a ridiculous way are the main girl, her father, and her best friend. This is clearly intended in order to make them come off as the more grounded characters in this world that resembles Stepford Wives.

Jane Levy is the star of the show, and I really think she has huge potential to make it big. She has the girl next door charm, where she is really cute but still seems approachable. She delivers her witty and snarky lines well, and doesn't have any problem making a fool of herself. She does really well with the material given, and helps the whole show come together.

It is quirky and silly, but that is exactly what it promises. Unlike some of the other sitcoms, I actually found myself laughing out loud and continuing to chuckle long after watching the episode. The shopping for clothes scene was a great parody of the culture one expects from suburbia. I also liked the reference to people being so dependent on texting or the mom's trying to be all buddies with their girls. I also got a kick out of the scenes with the guidance counselor who is desperately trying to help Tessa fit in, but just makes it worse.

That is the latest batch of new shows that I've recently caught. I probably won't have time to keep up with all this new programming, which means some trimming will be happening rather quickly. It is always fun catching all the new batches of shows that arrive every fall, and then predict which ones will be annexed by Christmas.

Here Have Another Music Video

This time without a banjo playing frog.

I initially didn't like this song, and would try to tune it out when it came on the radio. But AWOLNATION's "Sail' has endeared itself to me, much like a fuzzy little mouse that nuzzles up against me after eating through my box of Cheerios. Yes, I was once annoyed, but it won me over with those beautiful mouse eyes. Except AWOLNATION doesn't have mouse eyes, and there music video isn't cute. Actually, it's kind of spooky.

But the song is catchy, and is perfect to listen to on your Wednesday work day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday is a Perfect Day to Listen to a Frog Sing

Or more specifically listen to Kermit sing 'The Rainbow Connection." This is from the original The Muppet Movie, which would also be a perfect thing to watch on a Tuesday. This was one of the first films I ever saw in the drive-in (it was during a re-release since even I was too young to appreciate cinema during its original release in 1979). True story, this song was actually nominated for a Best Original Score at both the Academy Awards and Golden Globes (it lost out both times to "It Goes Like It Goes" from " Norma Rae), and it also was a huge radio hit when it first came out.

Sadly, Kermit never got to enjoy a true music career where he toured stadiums throughout the 80s, made a failed comeback as a grunge act in the early 90s, wrote a tell-all book in the early 2000s that reveals his addiction to flies, made a gritty cameo on CSI, and then re-launched his career by being an open parody of himself.

Despite never doing any of that, I'd say his career turned out okay. Anyway, I promised you a song.