Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ramblings (Happy Halloween/Writer's Strike Eve Edition)

What's happening kiddies? Do you have a bunch of people meeting together to see if you have to come into work? I do. They call it negotiations. I'm probably going to be a little disappointed if there isn't at least like two or three days of a strike. I've psyched myself up so much I'm sort of looking forward to some time off as long as it's only a week or two. Any more than that and I'm no longer keen. It's also a little funny how people's attitudes have changed slightly as the contract deadline has approached. Used to be a lot of joking about it mixed with a little concern. Now there are a lot more people with the "Shit! This is really gonna happen!" look on their face. There is a nice undercurrent of panic flowing through the lot. It's a little weird. My personal stance on this whole strike things is: Screw 'em. I know I'm a little bias since I'm pursuing the writing profession. Still the producers have come across like such bullies during this whole ordeal. They concede parts of their proposal that had no right being there in the first place, and then act like they have made a huge concession by removing it. I'm just tired of this whole mess that it seems a group of logical people could have figured out in a week.

Coinciding with the most job stress I've had in the last few years, I quit smoking on Monday. There are a couple reasons why.

First, I had to quit so that the impending back surgery will have a better chance at success. Second, it's cheaper not to smoke.
Third, I'm tired of being associated with the second worst group of people on earth. If you were to do a poll on what groups were considered the worst type of people it would probably come out a lot like this:

1. People that club baby seals
2. Smokers
3. Republicans
4. Democrats
5. Soccer Moms
6. Terrorists

I get more dirty looks walking around with a cigarette than I would walking around with a bloody axe.

Speaking of bloody axe, I got my Guitar Hero 3 in the mail Monday. First off, the new wireless guitar is fantastic. The buttons are much better, and the guitar just feels great with its added heft. I found myself hitting a lot more runs than I could with the old guitar. Second, the song list is pretty fantastic, and more than half of the songs are from the original artists, and not cover songs. The game though is a little more hardcore. The Hard difficulty is a bit more difficult than in II, but the Medium difficulty is about the same but easier because of the nicer guitar. This leaves with a bit of a problem of one difficulty being too easy and the other too difficult to be enjoyable. The bonus songs you unlock also aren't as enjoyable as in Guitar Hero 2. The core of Guitar Hero though is firmly intact with a better main songlist and better wireless guitar.

Hmm...anything else?

I have no idea what I want for Christmas.

The office is addicted to Scrabulous.

Ah, screw it. I've got nothing. Nothing. This whole town is about to shut down and that's all everybody is thinking about.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ramblings (Kids, Santa Might Not Be Coming This Year Edition)

First off it's really creepy outside today. There's a visible breeze but you can't feel it. The weather is not your normal California warm. Smoke from all the fires has cast a strange smoky haze over the coast. Oh and I had to worry that I should run home and close my windows because of the ash falling from the sky.

For those who live outside Los Angeles, or don't read Variety, or live in a world where reason and sanity exist, you might not know that there is a writer's strike just on the horizon and is approaching at speeds up to 90 mph. I'm not going go into detail of what the Writer's Guild wants and what the studios and networks are offering because that will exceed the boredom factor of even this blog. All I will say is that it sucks...big time. When this strike happens thousands of PA's, writer's assistants, and other help staff are going to either flood the employment market or take a few unemployment checks and hope the strike doesn't last long. For the record, the last strike happened in 1988 and lasted 5 months. Oh, and you dear viewers can expect a flood of reruns and reality programs sometime around early to mid January. Maybe even reruns of reality programs. In between work and late afternoon rounds of scrabulous, the strike has dominated office conversation. Heck, even the old guy writers that work on Boston Legal keep mentioning it to me during smoke breaks. What are you going to do? How far can you go on your saving? What about you no longer having health insurance? Wouldn't it be nice if there was an assistant union? What would all the producers and writers do if they had to get their own lunch and coffee, or work a photo copier, or learn how to send an email? What really sucks is that it's that Holiday season, and I love giving, and now perhaps I might not have as much to give. On to more enjoyable things...

Mandy, have you seen the geektastic chumby?

Somehow some eleven year old somewhere figured out how to get the Guitar Hero III demo online so you can simply download it, burn it onto a DVD, and play it on your 360. That means last night I got to rock out to some new tunes without having to buy another Tony Hawk game. One week from Sunday the full version will be released. My one hesitation is that the bonus tracks won't include some of my favorite bands from Guitar Hero 2. In Guitar Hero 2 you had lesser known bands like Valient Thorr and personal fav Bang Camaro. Come on they have 20 lead singers singing at the same time. Now that Harmonix is out and doing their thang with Rock Band, we aren't going to get these bands in Guitar Hero 3. Still, rocking my toy guitar to "Rock You Like a Hurricane" sure does bring a smile to my face.

Yes, I'm tempted to ask for Rock Band for Christmas or maybe a Chumby.

Speaking of nerd things I only care about, back in the early 80's my Mom signed me up for a computer class. In that class, I wrote a program that drew a picture of a bear. Later on I would try to write my own Zork computer games on my Mom's old IBM. First of all, big ups to Mom for seeing how important computers would be even at that time. Second, why didn't I keep up with this? It wasn't like music lessons or something. Also, where would I be if I did keep up with that? Would I be living in some retro cool town house in San Fransisco? Perhaps I'd just be living in someone's basement among Taco Bell wrappers, playing Warcraft, thinking I could've made this game.

Sunday, my brother Sam and I played Halo 3 co-op. Over twenty years ago we were taking turns playing King's Quest or Vanguard. Now, we are simultaneously playing the same game with one continent and the Atlantic Ocean separating us. Sweet technology, how I love you.

Went to my second Reading to Kids a couple Saturday's ago. It went even better than last time. I had a better partner, and the group was smaller. I'm hoping that in the upcoming months I can become a favorite. When the kids all get in line and wait for the readers to come out, I want the kids in my row to be thrilled. I want kids in the other rows to try to swindle their way into my row. At the very least, I'd be happy if they remembered me from the week before.

Ohio State's first real test of the season happens this weekend when the play Penn State at Happy Valley. Anne Marie, would you like to come over and watch the game in glorious HD?

The Tottenham Hotspurs this season are simply awful. The games have ranged from abysmal blowouts to dominating leads given up in the last minutes of injury time. Twice they had commanding leads over Fulham and Liverpool only to give up tying goals in the last minute. It's like watching the 2005 Cubs. It's just painful.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dillon, We Have a Problem

So the season two premiere of Friday Night Lights has come and gone. I'd be lying if I wasn't a little bit concerned. I also know I'm not the only one. Were there still some outstanding moments in the show? Absolutely. There are the two montages set to Wilco's "Muzzle of Bees." There's Tyra asking Landry to lotion her back, Coach Taylor telling Seracen not to stand by and let some Swede win over Julie, and there's Julie telling her father, Coach Taylor, her fears of ending up like him and her mother. The greatest scene was when Coach Taylor had to tell his wife, Tami, who gave birth a couple days ago, that the university needed him back early. It showed the distance has silenced this once communicating couple. Coach begs her to say something, but Tami can only try to keep herself composed till he leaves. Then she simply breaks down. If that scene couldn't win you over to Friday Night Lights, I don't know what else will. So what's the problem? Well, let us just say that the episode ended on such a whopper that I think it's going to scar the show. You perhaps have seen the promos, and had a suspicion of what was going to happen. Most likely you've already heard people complaining about it. (Big Spoiler If You Care).....

The lovable outsider Landry does in fact kill the guy that assaulted Tyra last season. He follows her all episode and then attacks her at a local quick stop. Landry comes in to her rescue. The attacker swears he'll come back for her, and Landry hits him in the back of the head twice with a lead pipe, and you know what? The scene is extremely well done. Jesse Plemons (Landry) and Adrianne Palicki (Tyra) act the hell out of that scene. The build up to the moment to their decision to dump the body once they realize he's dead. It all works. I just don't think it works for Friday Night Lights. This show is about the interactions of people in a town where football is religion, not murder. I was happy with the progression of Landry and Tyra's relationship. It was perfect having to outsiders, though for different reasons, come together and rely on each other. Was Tyra ever going to feel for Landry the way he did for her? No, but watching him make attempts and her decision to ignore them made for great moments of levity. Now that's all thrown out the window. Friday Night Lights is still excellent television. I'm just really concerned about this huge albatross the writers have hung around the show's neck. I did though like that the body was dumped near the same spot in the river that Lyla was baptized in, but I'm a sucker for that kind of thing.

You know I will probably look past it if we keep getting scenes like this:

Thursday, October 04, 2007

September's Heavy Rotation

The end of another month, and another playlist. A couple songs of note this time. We start off with Vampire Weekend who showed up last month with a little bouncy piano ditty. Here it's like they cover an outtake from Paul Simon's The Rhythm of the Saints. Which isn't a bad thing. The rest is enjoyable indie rock. I'm really looking forward to Cheyenne's album of power pop but that's just me. The playlist ends with another Link Wray song which I would like to discuss a little. Now I knew of Link Wray as the influential guitar instrumentalist who did the song "Rumble," and his other instrumentals have been in numerous soundtracks. I didn't know that in his later years he went and recorded a few albums on his farm in Maryland where he actually sang. I've been really enjoying these albums, and am upset that these were never pointed out to me. Also, just based on "Rumble" alone shouldn't he be in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame already?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Couple Baseball Notes

First off, last night's Padres-Rockies game was a prime example of what makes playoff baseball great. It was simply incredible. It has a grand slam, extra innings, controversial calls, extra innings, numerous lead changes, and player redemption with Matt Holliday. What also made it great was the crowd. I got goosebumps listening to the radio announcer being drowned out by crowd as Matt Holliday scored. Part of what makes playoff baseball great is the crowd's awareness that every pitch, hit, and error could end or extend your team's hopes to move on. I admit there can some mundaneness occurring through parts of the regular season. 162 games is a lot. Just take a chance this week to watch a little bit of the playoffs. I would recommend the Yankees at Cleveland, Colorado at Philadelphia, and Arizona at Chicago. Cleveland, Philly and Chicago have loyal fanbases that are so desperate for a championship that those crowds will be ridiculous. There is though one problem for you HD viewers out there...

MLB is run by bunch of morons. They sold the rights to air the first round of the playoffs to TBS. Then TBS was given the NLCS to air as well. I understand Fox wants the Boston and Yankees series, but you tell me they aren't kicking themselves a little now that Chicago and Philly are in the playoffs. First of all TBS have compiled a wonderful assortment of on-air talent that ranges from incompetent to mind numbingly boring. Second, TBS rolled out their HD channel on Monday, as in yesterday. So how many people have TBS HD? I don't. I don't know anyone in the LA area that has it unless they have Direct TV which is something nobody can get if they live in an apartment. TNT has an established HD channel so why not air it on there? Why wouldn't MLB make sure that they sell to a station that reaches the largest audience?

The one thing I'm hoping is that with TBS airing all the National League games we won't be subjected to the Bartman game during every commercial. Because we all know Fox beat that into the ground every chance they got.