Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Winter Wallow

If you read this blog regularly, you would get the impression that I do nothing but travel to exotic places, dine at fine restaurants, see Broadway shows, and read highbrow literature. And while I do do these things as much as possible, some days I just park on the couch and wall in front of the tube.

Here is what I managed to catch in a single ten hour boob tube marathon:

Georgia Tech vs Duke. Final score: 71-67. Two hours of college b-ball is a great way to spend an afternoon. Especially if your team beats the most hated team in the ACC. Go Jackets!

Five episodes of Parks and Recreation. I DVR the entire NBC Thursday comedy night (which would by definition excludes Jay Leno). As I find time, I watch in order of importance 30 Rock, The Office, and Community. Clearing off old shows from my DVR, I found that I had a backlog of nearly a half dozen episodes of Amy Poehler's Office rip-off. The premiere episode of this series was nearly unwatchable which kept me away for nearly a season. It's still the weakest of the four shows, but watching several shows back to back helped catch the rhythms of the show and nuances of the characters. Poehler's Leslie Knope is still a poor man's distaff Michael Scott, but some of the other characters are coming into their own. Mark Brendanawicz in particular seems to be the one sane person in the nut house. It's still wildly uneven show, but at least it is now tolerable.

Margaret Cho Beautiful. I recently realized that as part of my FiOS movie package I had Showtime On Demand. I scanned the offerings and settled on a Margaret Cho special filmed just before the 2008 election. She hilariously explains that she was too over-the-top for the Obama campaign. Her raunchy stream of consciousness riffs on her rather active pan-sexual personal life redefines Too Much Information. Very little of her routine can be repeated in public unless you know your audience really, really well. As obscene as she is, she is also rather funny and painfully truthful.

Kevin Nealon: Now Hear Me Out!
As a Weeds watcher and a fan of his stint on Saturday Night Live, my next On Demand choice was a stand-up comedy special from kevin Nealon where he explains that he is not the pothead he plays on television. Well, nobody could be. The jokes and routines are very yeomanlike and funny. I find myself laughing outloud even when I see the joke coming a mile away. About 45 minutes into it my cable connection goes all wonky and I lose the signal. After a few miles, it works itself out, but at that point it wasn't worth it to restart the show. I'll never know how it ends, but I bet it was plenty funny.

Mac Break Weekly. I am a regular listener to the This Week In Tech TWiT-cast hosted by Leo Laporte, the former star of TechTV's The Screen Savers. And if you understood that last sentence, you are at least as big a geek as me. Congratulations. In English, Leo Laporte hosts computer related talk-shows on the internet. These shows were once audio-only, but he now tapes the video as well. Recently his shows have become available on the Roku. Just to see how the shows look, I navigated the rather easy menu and landed on Mac Break Weekly, his show devoted to discussing everything Apple. Which this week meant spending most of the show comparing the new Google Nexus One phone to the iPhone and speculating wildly about if and what the forthcoming Apple tablet computer would look and act like. Watching four guys in a studio argue computers is not the most compelling television, but the video quality was excellent considering it was filmed in somebody's basement and streamed across my wifi connection to a hundred dollar video box. While the TWiT shows are uneven in quality, he is a pioneer and what he is doing is the future of television. Someday a lot of shows will be independently produced and distributed on demand.

The "Time Warp" from Rocky Horror Picture Show. All this time, I had been websurfing and blogcommenting and somehow the topic of Rocky Horror Picture Show came up. In high school I knew some serious RHPS fans that could Time Warp at the drop of a hat. To relive old times, I found the number on Hulu. Since tinny computer speakers can't do the song justice, I hooked up the laptop to the flatscreen so I could crank up the volume and jump to the left at a tap to the right. Pull your knees in tight and pelvic thrusts. After three replays, I was taken right back to midnight shows in 1981.

Four Paramore videos.
Recently a client mentioned that he had taken his daughter to a Paramore concert. This band I had never heard of also recently won a People's Choice award. YouTube is a great way to check out new bands since you get to hear the songs and watch the band in action. As best I can tell, Paramore is some sort of emo-ish teeny bopper version of Garbage all the way down to a scary looking lead singer of random hair color. Can't say they are my cup of tea, but I can see why all the kids dig them.

Saturday Night Live. It's axiomatic that Saturday Night Live had been on an exponential decay in quality ever since Chevy Chase abandoned the show he could pursue a career that would ultimately land him a role as second banana on an NBC sitcom. While my own theories are complicated and contradictory, I think the show still has its moments. This weekend's was not one of them. When I saw Charles Barkley hosting, I had to check the listings to make sure it wasn't a repeat from 1988. Unfortunately Sir Charles proved himself no more adept at reading cue cards with a straight face than Horatio Sanz. I powered through until at least Weekend Update which is my benchmark for the dividing line between the funny sketches and the filler. Since the playoffs ran late, SNL was now running past the DVR window I have programmed for it, so I will never know if there was any funny stuff after I fell asleep. Somehow I doubt it.

So there is my wallow on a cold wintery day. Just don't judge.

ReturnOfBlatantCommentWhoring™: What did you watch this weekend?


DemetriosX said...

Sometimes I think I'm the only person in our generation who just doesn't like Rocky Horror. I get it, but it just doesn't do anything for me. It's one and a half decent songs (Science Fiction Double Feature and Hot Patooties) padded out by mediocre acting (despite the quality of the actors in it), something that only vaguely resembles a plot, and deliberate yet very poor attempts to be outrageous. The only way to really enjoy it is to turn your brain completely off and be absorbed by the mob. Or as Simon Pegg put it in Spaced: "It's boil-in-the-bag perversion for sexually repressed accountants and first-year drama students with too many posters of Betty Blue, The Blues Brothers, Big Blue and Blue Velvet on their blue bloody walls."

yellojkt said...

There's a reason it's a 'cult' classic. Without the audience participation, it is a pretty bad movie. For a real stinker, hunt down the sequel 'Shock Therapy' that doesn't even have the good actors or the one-and-a-half decent songs.

Now I have to see Spaced. Sounds like it is full of insights.

A Free Man said...

We've recently become addicted to Weeds and one of the reasons is Kevin Nealon's character. Reminded me just how good he is.

DemetriosX said...

Spaced is totally awesome, though the first season is a little better. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Almost every scene is a film reference. It's a major geek fest if you know what you're looking at, otherwise non-geeks also find it hilarious (my wife, for example). You'll probably want to go back and watch the first episode again after seeing the first season, just so you can really understand it. (Hint: The 2 people talking having a conversation are not talking to each other.)