First, a bit of housekeeping: I've been in a form of purgatory for the last six months or so because of problems with my external hard drive. It's how I keep myself sane here, since I prefer working from the original broadcast, and my DVR doesn't have the storage capacity for my backlog -- currently awaiting staff's upload of the new crew list. There was going to be a whole blog about my horrible experience with Dish and how it all played out, but there's no time now. Suffice it to say, if you communicated with me during that time, I was wrestling for recording space and the lack of reply was not disinterest, just necessity (especially during the February and May sweeps). My deepest apologies to anyone affected. Onward to the main event. "Certain things, they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone. I know that's impossible, but it's too bad anyway." --J.D. Salinger (Catcher in the Rye) And so it goes. While I've never been an active blogger, I've always been an active lurker. Thus I am among the apparently few of us who will miss the blogs. The thing is, I doubt I'm the only lurker here. One hopes the methodology for compiling the stats used in the decision accounted for that. Just because a blog has no commenters, doesn't mean the blog has no readers. "So do flux and reflux--the rhythm of change--alternate and persist in everything under the sky." --Thomas Hardy (Tess of the D'Urbervilles) We've been in a state of flux here for awhile. A web site has to evolve to stay attractive to casual users who, in turn, attract the oh-so-valuable advertisers and their dollars. I understand this. What's always been hard for me to comprehend -- not just here, but with any company -- is the need to toss the baby with the bath water. Even with a new communication system in development, how hard would it be to hang onto the blogs? Needless to say, the community that develops from the new system will be vastly different from the community I joined just six years ago. "Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change." --Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Frankenstein) The way most of us communicate has evolved over the years. Snail mail usage has dropped so much the US Post Office began closures across the nation recently. Email was the beginning of the end. Email and actually speaking to someone succumbed to text messaging, according to a study about which I read. Blogging, except for news and pundits, appears to have fallen prey to Facebook posts (also on the wane) and Tweets. They, of course, will fall victim to the next "big thing" that catches the collective consciousness. I have to say that the fading need for in-depth information worries me a little. "Life belongs to the living; and he who lives must be prepared for vicissitudes." --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Wilhelm Meister's Travels) So I will mourn the site's passage from a blogging community to whatever we become, even though each update cycle and the natural attrition from life and tragedy has shrunk our numbers immensely. I will miss the regular bloggers, the infrequent bloggers, the bloggers who shared inside information from productions, those who used theirs for instructional purposes, those who used them to communicate with their submitters, the staff bloggers -- I will miss them all. Thank you for stopping by this blog from time to time. I have enjoyed talking with all of you.
Ah, another scheduled holiday, another system update rolled out. Staff's time away from the site just wouldn't be as exciting without these milestones, eh? I am endeavoring to endure this update with a Zen-like attitude -- or as close to Zen as my personality allows -- and so far so good. Don't get me wrong, I'm just as angry and frustrated as all the other users who are concerned with data here. It's just that the bitterness and sense of betrayal from the last update have happily left the building. Still, I wonder how many clicks it will take to get to one's desired page in five year's time. Based on the current rate of acceleration, I figure a 5-10 minute stroll through each guide to finally land on the add cast form. Just saying... okay, the sarcasm remains. In more seasonal news, I've begun a Messiah collection. As I was running through my CD collection, determining which tracks I'd like on my iPod, I realized my classical collection was a barren desert with only the Goldberg Variations and a miserable version of Handel's oratorio I'd rolled the dice on and lost during a misguided BMG subscription. I still have my vinyl collection, but I never transitioned those to CD. There's a reason for this. The night I was pulled over for erratic driving while listening to Prairie Home Companion and the CHP officer inhaled deeply as she opened the passenger door, checking for alcohol fumes you understand, I forswore any music that might put me to sleep again when driving home from work. Things just petered out from there. The discovery of that embarrassing Messiah lit a fire beneath my resolve. This year's present order from Amazon included a present for me, too. The 1st recording on my list -- Higginbottom's 1751 version with the Choir of New College Oxford and Academy of Ancient Music. Now I just have to revise and whittle down my list of the different versions. Dublin is locked and the 1754 version as well, and I thought I had my traditional version down to two -- one of the Marriners (this one or this one) or the Rutter. Then last night, as I was driving home from the final shopping trip, our local classical station played what the DJ called the "perfect" Messiah by Davis. So another one goes on the list and I've a decision to make before my birthday rolls around, which is when I hope to knock a few more off the list. Then I can move on to other works and broadening my CD collection into the vinyl's excellence. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, etc. to all of you. For those of you who are regular contributors to "my" guides, and even the irregular ones, thank you for your valuable assistance and help in making the guides and forums here a better place to be.
I've mentioned in a previous blog that I live in Southern California. Now Cooper, the cat I've mentioned in another blog (does anyone feel as though they are in a way back machine?), has suddenly got a bee in her bonnet to be outside during daylight hours. She's grown up and gotten brave it seems. It's summer, though, and it means she's only allowed out until it gets to a certain temperature. Basically, when I stick my head out the door and say it's too hot and drag her inside. Well, the other day she clearly thought I made the call too soon. Oh, the meowing, the pacing, the sitting at the door for the first opportunity to get back out. I'd had enough of the kitty tantrum, so I went back to my bedroom and got back to what I was doing, secure in the knowledge I had prevented her from heat stroke or worse. I didn't care if I'd jumped the gun. She'd been out there from 6 am to 2 pm, more than enough time in my opinion. She is, in fact, the most spoiled cat in the universe. Now owners are notorious for anthropomorphizing their pets. We ascribe emotions to their expressions and actions, etc. But I defy any one of you to explain Cooper's action as anything other than petty revenge: when I came back out to the dining room she had deposited her latest hairball inside one of my Keds -- the first time she has ever put one in any piece of clothing. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!
For the last two weeks I have been professing to anyone who cared, and many who didn't, that you wouldn't find me near any channel broadcasting the royal wedding on Friday morning. Well, guess where I was tuned at 1 am? Right there on BBCA. A little background seems appropriate. I don't know what the coverage has been like in the UK or even internationally, but stateside it has been ubiquitous and ridiculous. It's been going on lightly for what seems like six months before the wedding, although more realistically it's more likely three to four months. It expanded to moderate coverage at about two months, and exploded to nonstop coverage at about six weeks. The truly bizarre aspect about all the coverage is that they had nothing to cover. Buckingham's PR office (I don't know its official name) did such a superb job of keeping everything secret that no one had anything to talk about except the past and what they made up about the future. It drove me bananas. The morning programs, evening news and entertainment shows were full of so-called experts talking about what the wedding dress might be, could be, should be... you get my drift. This was not news, it was as close to dead air as you could get without the FCC yanking your license. And then they descended into tacky. According to my mother, at least one morning program decided that an appropriate way to celebrate the upcoming nuptials was to do a segment on Diana's funeral. Words fail me. (Hard to believe, yes? :) ) So there I was, tuned in to BBCA, bathing in my hypocrisy. Although, to be accurate, by dint of clearing off one of my prerecorded episodes, I timed it perfectly for William and Harry's trip to Westminster and missed all the rigamarole at the beginning which landed me somewhere between 2:00-2:30 am. Even so, there were still the breaks to let everyone know which designer and/or milliner had made a celebrity or royal's ensemble :roll: (yeah, I'm weird, I don't give a rat's ass about this stuff). Luckily, by that time the Westminster site had finally let me on so there was something more interesting to while away the down time (the link is to the history submenu. Back out to the main menu if you want to see their newly posted wedding information). I do mean interesting. I think I will be ordering a book about it, because those brief paragraphs don't even begin to scratch the surface. What it takes to achieve the three-hour peal is pretty amazing as well. I won't spend time gushing over the ceremony. That's being done to death on other sites by better gushers than I. I will say that it was a truly beautiful and elegant ceremony followed by all the pageantry one could wish for in the return to Buckingham via carriages and what appeared to be all the available guards. The long-shot down the mall was an amazing sight. So, we are done. It is over. Some of us are happy or relieved. Others are currently in withdrawal, or, for the most severely addicted, beginning to experience DTs. Wherever you are in your experience, or if you bypassed it completely, I wish you a happy and healthy recovery or continued existence with no drama. I take with me one comforting piece of information. Despite BBC's superb coverage, even their man on the street interviewers could not come up with a less inane way to say, "What did you feel like during the ceremony/when they said 'I do'/when you saw the dress?" It's nice to know it's not just our reporters who are witheringly stupid sometimes. I hope everyone has a great rest of their weekend!
It's not that I had any moral issue with Mr. Jobs and his inevitable effect on the recording industry. Business is business, after all. It's just that I've been a Sony girl for decades. My new Sony Walkman with a newly made mix tape was the only thing that got me down the front side of Mt. Whitney after a perfectly horrific backpacking trip in the early 80s (someday I may share that story with everyone). I've always had one at work to keep the other half of my brain occupied, and my low boredom threshold meant that my model included the TV option. And that, in a nutshell, is what has kept me in analog these past few years. I seem to be the only one who wants to listen to TV :D. What forced me into the digital world was something as simple and as heinous as country music (as always my apologies to any country fans out there, I realize I'm in the minority with my hatred). Recently I had to undergo some minor physical therapy and the company runs music overhead, presumably for the patrons' benefit. Benefit is in the eye of the beholder. It sort of depends on the time of day, and the whim of the person who has control of the player. They have good mix CDs and bad mix CDs, and every now and then whole blocks of country music. Country music and I don't get along. I have a very visceral reaction to the first twang. The first time I heard a twangy tune I warned my therapist, but she didn't believe me. Now the thing about PT is that they want you to relax as they manipulate your body parts. The next time I was in they were playing another batch of country, and I was all tensed up. After a very unproductive session, now the therapist believed me. So out of self defense I decided to purchase an iPod, which will be my Christmas and birthday presents to myself this year. Actually, since I had to replace the POS headphones that came with it, it's probably my St. Paddy's day gift, too. Why not a Sony MP3? I'm already running iTunes on my PC. I think I'm the only holdout left in my family -- everyone else has an iPod in one form or another. It was just time. (I did like the specs on the Nano as well. It wasn't just a subjective decision.) True to form, I picked the one model which has no accessories, but the Nano 6th gen gives me my FM radio at least. I have a feeling that AM radio and live TV are a speck in the future, if ever. Now begins the stultifyingly boring work of uploading my CD collection, more on that another time, maybe.
Yes, I'm mixing my farming catchphrases a bit... The customer complaint line forms on your right, gift-wrapping to your left. The network nabobs (I do use that satirically, and a wee bit for the alliteration) have performed a feat this season I've not seen in years. There are whole nights with only one or two episodes to watch. It's sort of like a mini-vacation. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays I can work on guides, catch up with friends, heck, if the spirit moves me, I can even leave the house to see a movie (gasp). All courtesy of a terrible pilot season and the brilliant programming wonks who usually leave me with horrific three-way programming choices -- "Which one do I cut? I can only record two." Speaking of courtesies, thanks to HBO and AMC, Sundays are jam-packed, Wednesdays are full because of my Top Chef fetish, and Fridays are just a fun-filled pleasure ride of no responsibility. So here's where I bore you with my viewing choices :D: Sunday: Boardwalk Empire has grown on me. It lacks the intensity of Deadwood, but on the plus side, the viewers will likely be rewarded with a final season. My personal surprise was the Walking Dead. So far the writing has been tight, the action good, and the direction superb. BBCA's Luther is almost done, although the whole of it is still waiting for me in the DVR, plus PBS has been busy lately with their various Masterpiece skeins, some I just watch, some to which I try to contribute here and there. Then there's Family Guy and American Dad. These have become almost a habit which I need to break, I think. American Dad was never that funny and Family Guy has gotten a little spotty. Maybe I'll begin the weaning with Dad. Monday: In Treatment has returned, but I missed the first week and have weeks two through four waiting in hopes that HBO reruns week one at some point. Well, House soldiers on, and as disgusted as I am by the whole "Huddy" debacle, it's still being recorded every week. I haven't figured out if this was a real creative choice or the writers bowed to outside fan pressure. If it's the latter, they all need to be fired. Lie to Me is probably just because I like Tim Roth and it's a fun hour of television with no responsibility. Continuing to watch it meant I gave up the Event (sorry, Paula), which, if it survives, will be picked up in reruns. Because I'm such a drama queen (well, I'm that, too, but I'm talking TV) I added Mike and Molly because I like Melissa McCarthy and I have to have one or two comedies on the schedule to break up all the seriousness. The night ends with Chase and Castle. Chase because I figure I better watch it while I can, and Castle because of Nathan Fillion. I have a long history of watching crap shows and movies (True Blood anyone?) because of actor loyalty or crushes. Although I have to say, this season Castle has improved a lot, along with Fillion's weight. I find myself caring about the mystery now, instead of just his interactions with his mother and daughter. Once Chase is gone I'll likely switch to Hawaii Five-0. CBS finally found the perfect place for O'Loughlin -- their pretty property who can't act. Tuesday: Tuesdays are a ghost town since I don't watch the NCIS franchise. I'm reduced to watching Glee during the season, and really, that show is better as summer reruns. I only watch for the musical numbers; the narrative is abysmal. I tried to watch No Ordinary Family, and I only managed to last two episodes. It's just dreck. Not even my affection for Chiklis and Benz could get me past this drivel. The Good Wife continues its pseudo-intrigue. One of the few surprises of the fall season was Detroit 1-8-7. I've only watched a couple of the episodes (the rest are waiting for me), but they were well on their way to a solid cast with good back stories and the casting was phenomenal, some of the best I've seen since Grey's Anatomy. No lazy falling back on a "star." No, this cast is a fine group of character and stage actors that some thought was put into, and you can tell the difference in the performances. I dipped into Running Wilde a couple times, but I've never been a huge voiceover fan or one of Keri Russell's, for that matter. Wednesday: Top Chef in one form or another is usually running now that there are two franchises to go with the original, although I'm only involved in two of them. (Be proud of me, I exercised great discipline with a friend's encouragement, and did not grab that third iteration.) Psych has begun its winter run, the Closer and Eureka will run some holiday episodes as well (which will be on Mondays and Fridays respectively). Then the evening rounds out with Criminal Minds, Law & Order: SVU, and Law & Order: LA. There's a spin-off for CM coming, as well. I've been impressed with LOLA. Once you get past the tiresome comparisons to the mothership, it stands on its own quite well. Wolf has brought back into the fold some writers who left the mothership such as Debra J. Fisher of Criminal Minds fame. Both Molina and Howard are excellent, but somehow the writers have really keyed into Howard's character and are writing for him very passionately, and Howard is delivering the lines quite nicely. Thursday: This is my other comedy night with the Big Bang Theory. Then there's Bones, of course, with everyone hoping that Hannah leaves town soon. Even my mother, who usually doesn't care about such things, said that they're messing with the point of the show which is the potential of the romance between Booth and Brennan -- not that she wants it to happen, you understand, that would ruin the show, too. Grey's Anatomy, which has taken some interesting plot turns this season. I dip into Private Practice every now and again. The Mentalist is just fun. I tried so hard with $..! My Dad Says, it just stinks. The only cast that's worth watching is Shatner and the waiter-cum-maid. The two sons stink and the daughter-in-law lives in the city dump she stinks so badly. I don't know who did the original casting for the show, but they ought to be shot. The writing is horrible; the story premises are unbelievable even in comedy world. Yeah, I hate this show. Nikita was interesting the couple I saw before the season started, so it's been flagged for reruns. Friday: The WB did me a huge favor by moving Supernatural to this night (I'm sure this was their sole reason for the move). There's no longer a conflict with Grey's, so I can watch it in season, rather than waiting for the reruns. The whole night is just throw-away fun shows for which I have no responsibilities, and it's a nice start to the weekend with the final season of Medium, a PBS Masterpiece and Bluebloods. That last one has been interesting. If they keep to the procedural part, it's a solid show. When they delve into the "conspiracy" part it becomes infinitely weaker. Saturday: Since the US Networks effectively gave up on this night; BBC America has filled in the gap nicely with their supernatural and sci-fi shows. Not always with the best programs, Demons was terrible after all, but Saturday usually had something to view. Recently, though, BBCA has been falling down on the job. This may be subjective, but it doesn't seem as though they are churning out the Matt Smith Dr. Whos as fast as the David Tennant's. Once Being Human wrapped, we descended into Star Trek: TNG reruns (who thought that was a good purchase?) or "Brit" movies which this month have included the execrable Robin Hood with Kevin Costner (I never forgave them for not casting Pierce Brosnan). I mean, please, at least Morgan Freeman attempted an accent. Costner was too good to even try (read incompetent). I'd be happier if they'd fill in this time with programs we've missed that for some reason they refuse to ship over here. Are you there? Have you fallen asleep yet? If not, there you have it. My somewhat reduced schedule this year and all the opinions you could ask for. Oh, you didn't? Whoops. My bad. It will be interesting to see if the mid-season replacements bring any improvements. I hope everybody has a wonderful weekend!
Well, since I spewed all sorts of invective and negativity in my last blog I thought I would redress the karmic balance a little by telling a story on myself. We'll see how this goes... A couple weeks ago I had to spend a week in a hotel with my cat because of work being done on the condo in which I live. This was a first for Cooper (the cat), who is the original fraidy cat and pretty much only likes to go out at night because she blends in better. I was a little worried, but we'd moved three times in the first year of her life so I put my faith in her adaptive skills. The first night was torture because she spent most of it wandering the room yowling her unhappiness. Even though I had brought as much of her paraphernalia as possible to ease the change, she was still deprived of two major comforts. The ability to hide underneath the bed, and being able to roam at will in the wee hours of the morning. A little concerned that we might be evicted or I'd have to board her somewhere, which would be even more traumatic because she's never had to play well with others, I had what I thought was a flash of genius and stopped at the pet store on my way to babysit my niece and nephew for the evening. My plan was to take Cooper for a walk on a leash when I got back to the hotel (please, hold all laughter until the end. Although I suppose a knowing snicker here or there will be acceptable). Now you have to understand, the hotel was on a hotel row, along with a bunch of restaurants, but it was on an extraordinarily busy street, and the cross street had an entrance to a freeway. At this point Cooper hadn't eaten anything, so she didn't associate that hotel room with anything except me, and she wasn't too happy with me at the moment. My biggest fear was that if she got out she wouldn't return and couldn't get home because I've brought her up so freaking sheltered. I know, excuses and rationale will only get you so far. The end result is that I purchased a cat harness and one of those retractable leashes. I am now just one step removed from those owners who dress up their pets (which is fine, they are cute, but it's so not my personality, or Cooper's). So, at around 2:00 am I arrive back at the hotel and figure now is as good a time as any to try this out since the parking lot is deserted. On goes the harness and the leash, and out we go to the parking lot. It began so well, it really did, but then I pushed too hard for her to keep walking around. Suddenly, the plastic case holding the retractable leash snapped out of my hand leaving a rope burn on my right fifth finger (the pinky), and off she goes. Now this is not the nice gliding run you usually see, this is the serious hind leg rabbit run, and she's tearing around the lot under cars dragging the leash case behind her until it catches on a car tire. At which point I have to untangle her, dragging her through the oily water on the ground from the irrigation system. Every time I loosen the case she's off again until she tangles herself again. This continues until she tires enough that I can grab her and take her back upstairs. Then I must move quickly, because she will begin licking herself momentarily, and God knows what's on the pavement here. So, into the tub she goes. And I have to tell you, that may have been the second bath of her life and she was NOT amused. I have the scratches on my back as she was trying to gain purchase as proof. Clearly we both survived. She substituted the space behind a drawer for under the bed, and our adventure that night took care of the wander bug for the rest of our stay. Although, towards the end as she got comfortable she visited an evil sort of revenge on me if I went to bed early: she would spend the time until she was ready to go to sleep walking over me repeatedly to get to the bedside table. I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!
So, this would be a full-bore rant. If you live in the area, I am sure that this does not involve you, because you are a competent driver who paid attention in Driver's Ed class/training. If this does involve you, it might be wise to click to another screen now. I mean, right now. There are two main arteries that get you to Los Angeles from the Inland Empire and parts east. It just depends on what part of civilization you want to visit (I know, it's relative. To some, the suburbs are civilization). If you want to go behind the Orange Curtain, you are stuck on the freeway from hell, California's State Route 91. The other freeway, Interstate 10, while it has its issues, is still more of a commuter freeway. The drivers know where they are going, want to get there as quickly as possible, are not freaked by inclement weather for the most part, and don't care about the scenery -- it hasn't changed since yesterday. Enter the 91, the 10's polar opposite. I swear to God these people drop 20 IQ points the minute they get behind their wheel. The whole concept of driving efficiently in heavy traffic is beyond them, the Anaheim Hills send them into a frenzy of such braking on the mild decline that you'd think we were in the mountains (to be clear, the Anaheim Hills are a stretch of freeway made up of gentle rolling hills that are so low it's almost embarrassing to call them hills). Seriously, these people can't even merge two lanes to one without it going dangerously off track. This is how inept (some of) the people of Orange County are. These barely functional morons also think it's funny to plant themselves in the far left lane, supposedly the "fast" lane, and block traffic for miles. I do not exaggerate. I have never passed on the right as much as I do on this freeway because of loathsome stupid drivers. And this is the truly bizarre thing about this freeway. You will be in stop-and-go traffic, but the radio will report nothing wrong. If you can maneuver yourself around the running roadblocks, there will be miles of empty freeway in front of them. In my younger days as a consultant I could drive upwards of 200 miles a day, although it usually averaged between 75-100 miles, so I became intimately acquainted with road rage, and likely caused some myself. A few years of driving city streets made me a better and more mature driver, and I lost the anger on the freeway. The 91 puts me back in touch with it in a flash.
Has anyone else found him- or herself in competition with staff for submissions to guides? This seems to me a slight abuse of power. The least they could do is wait until late the second day after the announcement before assuming no one will make an update. I hate racking up my rejection ratio for other than my mistakes. If they're that desperate for work, here's a suggestion: the scut work of logging the Emmy nomination data that is rarely entered.
Absent a Forum to journey toward (fairly scarce here in SoCal, though we do have a coliseum), we'll just call these random travels: Corporate Malfeasance (or, does the left hand know what the right is doing?) CBS apparently hasn't kept their Watch! magazine columnists up-to-date with the company's recent acquisitions. Odd, since other parts of the August 2009 edition highlight several different sites that were part of the CNet purchase. Nominated for most clueless employee of the year with a symbolic demotion for mentioning TV.com's only real competition: Marianne O'Leary of the "Ask Mo" column (I have to admit, I got the most evil glee from this one): Q: Guest star credits at the end of programs go by so fast. Is there someplace I can find out who played a character? Mo: When I see a familiar face I can't quite place on my favorite programs, I'll try the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com). It lists not only all of the regular performers on a series along with their other credits, but also the same information for the guest stars for each episode. Perhaps she should also lose a month's salary for wildly overstating reality. Proof That Water/Talent Rises To Its Own Level Miley Cyrus, yet another pop sensation with no rhythm or discernible musical talent, has inked a clothing deal with Walmart. Yes, Walmart. A corporation with a miserable history of mistreating its employees, obliteration of small businesses, and a feudal view of America where Walmart plays royalty despite its place at the bottom of the shopping hierarchy. Best Forum Response Ever "Dude, don't be gooey chocolate chip cookie." You Did See Who Ordered, Yes? I stopped at a Del Taco (think Taco Bell but with better beans and fries) on the way home from the airport the other night. When I got to the window the girl asked me if I wanted ketchup, but didn't ask about the hot sauce. I didn't worry about this, because usually, if they don't ask my preference, they just take one look at my pale gringo face and load me up with mild. I got home to find two handfuls of "Del Inferno" in the bag with my food. Now, I ask you, really? I'm Not Sure How I Could Have Been Clearer While checking out at the grocery store, the girl who was bagging my purchases asked whether I wanted paper or plastic. I asked for paper. Imagine my bemusement when she loaded my paper bags, each lovingly bagged in its own plastic bag, into my shopping cart. Last, but Not Least The New York Times had an amusing and clever editorial on the battle over the origin of haggis. The full article can be read here if you're interested (it will probably require a free registration), but I thought I'd share the final lines that recommend the best way to eat haggis. You gotta love a dish that requires hard liquor to mask its taste :D : "Never heard of haggis? Never tasted it? Try it on your next visit to Scotland, or even England. It is best taken with mashed turnips, which, incidentally, were invented in Scotland, and with a shot of whisky. The whisky is to neutralize the taste of the haggis, and the turnips are there for health reasons. Highly recommended." I hope everyone has a great weekend.