Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Closer - "Sudden Death"

One of the best things The Closer has going for it is the stellar supporting cast. One of the weaknesses of the show is how they handle the members of the squad that aren't Detectives Flynn or Provenza--Gabriel's usage has sure slipped this year. Gina Ravera's Det. Daniels is probably treated the worst on the average "words per episode" scale, beating out Raymond Cruz' Det. Sanchez by a good measure. Frankly, I could live without Daniels--she brings little to the screen aside from being the only female not named Johnson (Willie Ray or Brenda Leigh). But I'm always wanting more Sanchez.

This week's episode was perfect for me. No Daniels screen time (that I noticed, anyway) and plenty of Sanchez. I don't want to get into the details, because I know not everyone has seen it yet, but WOW. Cruz earned his paycheck this week--everyone did, really. Even those players that had few lines nailed it--the way they stood, the looks they gave--every little detail fit just right in this tense story.

Not sure that this one matches Season 3's "Ruby," but "Sudden Death" stands as one of the best episodes of the show, most likely the strongest of the year.

Fall Previews

One of those posts where I let others do the work for me:

Alan Sepinwall, who frightens me by writing down what I'm thinking about 95% of what we both watch, previews the Fall TV season.

And be sure to check out Ken Levine's Fall Movie Preview in parts 1, 2, and 3 is here. Snarkily funny as usual.

Pot Shots from the Grave's a couple who know how to carry a grudge.

A Brooklyn couple slain in their home last month spoke from the grave in drafted last wills, leaving a bizarre legacy for unloved ones they detested in life.

"To my brother who I know hopes to be in my will, well, here you are," chided Mark Schwartz, 50, as he bequeathed nothing to his estranged sibling, Robert, in an unsigned April 2006 draft.
not to be outdone, the Mrs. got digs in at her family--both past and present
She then took an apparent shot at her first husband, James, leaving him no cash but decreeing that a "gift" of $10,000 be made in his name to a battered-women's shelter.

Her ex declined comment last night.
The wills get stranger from there. These must have been vewy, vewy intewesting people while they lived amongst us.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

For Your Listening Pleasure

...a new Really threw this one together in no time (I tend to spend wayyyy too much time on these), but noticed today (thanks to one faithful reader) that it'd been since May 5th since I'd updated it. tunes for your surfing pleasure, hope they work for you.

Sometimes You Just Can't Win

conversation from this morning:

Mom: I can't believe my baby's starting Kindergarten next week.
Arnold: I'm not a baby. I'm a kid.
Mom: Sorry. I can't believe my littlest kid is starting Kindergarten next week.
Arnold: I'm not a little kid. I'm a big boy.
Mom: oookay. I can't believe my youngest big boy is starting Kindergarten next week. [Pause for comment, which doesn't come] Am I getting old, or what?
Arnold: You're getting old.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bug Day

The Newton clan attended "Bug Day" at the Idaho Botanical Garden Saturday. The Garden's one of those places I've always meant to go to, but haven't quite gotten around to it. The Garden was much more impressive than the Bug Day festivities.

Most of the volunteers were there because bugs (or, oddly enough, Master Gardening) was their thing--not because they were a. good with kids; b. interested in teaching kids. Some were rude, some arrogant, some too busy talking with parents to bother with the kids the day was supposed to be for, some clueless. Those volunteers who were good, were very good, tho.

Kids learned a little, had a lot of fun. And we got out of the house--something we intend to do a lot more than we do on the weekends.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Help Wanted

Hey, faithful readers and people who meant to be reading something else. I'm having a rash of BSOD's lately with my WinXP desktop unit, I've never had a Windows issue with this thing before, so am a little worried.

If any of you are able/interested in trying to help, leave a comment/pop off an email or something.

Thanks :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Some Friday Fun

Is Mariah Carey a Calvinist?

(H/T: Turretin Fan)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gratuitous Kid Picture

The Princess posing with Cinderella (obviously pre-Fairy Godmother) at the Starlight Mountain Theatre

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

There's a Motivational Poster to be Made from This

National Geographic's Photo of the Day today is quite the uplifting image, isn't it?

Seriously, that is a typically great picture (click the link above--or the pic) to see a larger version)--just not sure it's really one of the first things I wanted to see today. I loved the first line of the caption:
A remote-controlled "carcass cam" captures an inside view of a gray wolf fiercely guarding its meal at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota.
"Carcass cam"--hmmmm, just what every serious photographer needs--right Micah/Grace?

Incidentally, in case you're tempted to say the name of that Minnesota town, it's pronounced E-lee, not E-lie. I just learned that, and for some reason, am pretty sure that's a bit of trivia that's going to stick with me.

(I'll try to remember to update this with a permalink as soon as Nat'l Geo moves it off the main photo of the day page, but until I do, you want to hit the "Previous" link 'til you get to Aug. 20)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

That time of year again...

Our homeschool P.E. classes started today, GRTF schools in the area start tomorrow, and we should be done with our '07/'08 coursework next Thursday, enabling us to start '08/'09 work on the following Tuesday. (I don't know what my parents are so distressed about when it comes to our schedule--look, the kids get a whole 4 days between 'school years').

The air seems filled with possibilities, plans, hopes, aspirations--actually, I guess it's mostly expectations. Which gives me the chance to use one of the many great lines from The Phantom Tollbooth, which we started reading at lunch today.

Expectations is the place you must always go to before you get to where you're going. Of course, some people never go beyond Expectations...
As they say: it's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there--I plan on enjoying my two-week stay in Expectations, before I let the Whetherman hurry me along to something beyond Expectations.

Monday, August 18, 2008

One Part Madness and One Part Genius

gives you pure awesomeness:

(H/T: The Watcher)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Clean Up on Aisles 2 and 3

For those who care, I've edited, added, deleted, folded, spindled, mutilated, lathered, rinsed, dried, etc. the sidebars over there --> . New links are there, dead links are gone, plus a new widget to spruce up the place.

Too Many Mistakes

GQ interviewed Aaron Sorkin recently in commemoration of the 10th Anniversary DVD set of Sports Night, which is in my personal top 5 Sitcom list. Yup, it's been 10 years since that great series was aired and then cancelled prematurely by ABC.

The interview spent far too little time on that great series, if you ask me. What I found most interesting was what he had to say about Studio 60, his latest series. A couple of snippets:

Why didn’t Studio 60 work?
I made too many mistakes. I would give anything to go back and get another bite of that apple. Basically, to use a sports analogy, you can have the best team in football playing the worst team in football. But if the best team in football throws four interceptions, they’re not going to win.

That sounds a little arrogant.
I’m helped by a staff of people who have great ideas, but the scripts aren’t written by committee. I was too angry when I wrote Studio 60. The show became like the cover of Abbey Road. Everybody was trying to figure out who this character was in real life or what that incident was trying to be. But the anger—it was a post-9/11 anger. We were going through a time when the television networks were so sensitive toward appearing patriotic. And patriotism was just being questioned all over the place. It just seemed like the wheels had come off our national culture.

Do you feel guilty about Studio 60’s failure?
I felt like I had let so many people down—from Warner Bros. and NBC to the cast and crew. You live and die with these things. It is a feeling that you can’t look these people in the eye anymore. Someone like Matt Perry.
"I made too many mistakes." That's a heck of an understatement, Mr. Sorkin, sorta like, "That Phelps guy sure can swim fast." I can imagine it'd be hard to look Perry (or most of the cast, or most of your fans) in the eye, but y'know what? Like most of your fans, I'm more than willing to come back for your next shot at a series.

The interview was worth it just for this line:
[The Internet]’s a bronchial infection on the First Amendment. Nothing has done more to make us dumber or meaner than the anonymity of the Internet.
One last thought, in case anyone in the gift-giving frame of mind might have missed it--the link to the DVD of the 10th Anniversary edition of one of my very favorite shows, with all sorts of cool bells and whistles, is right here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"I recall, Central Park in fall..."

Probably the most iconic scenes of my favorite John Hughes film meets performance'd be a blast to take part in it:
Artist Mina Karimi is looking to pull together "a large performance art piece that requires 6-8 hundred people recreating the parade scene from Ferris Bueller at the Deitch Art Parade in Soho." She says she is "recruiting secret agents in the audience of the parade to mimic the extras in the movie as my Ferris float approaches. In order to fully reproduce the spirit of the scene I will need at least 100 agents on each block of the parade to get the Ferris joy-ball rolling."
(sadly I'm gonna have Wayne Newton stuck in my head for the rest of the shift at least)

(H/T: Alan Sepinwall)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I was about to post something about the trip we took over the weekend, with pictures, etc. But I just realized that I can't post pictures right now (see below). So, um...not sure what to post for today. Will try to come up with something.

Ugh. Just came up with Plan B...which is, naturally, another photo-heavy post. Sigh.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Please Do Not Adjust Your Set...

We are experiencing technical difficulties...please stand by...

what a shame it is that my kids will have no idea what I just quoted....

Okay, so what's up with the graphics, etc? I'm apparently having some domain issues. Friday morning at work I went to renew my domain, and noticed that it said the domain had expired 8/2007. Figured it was just a glitch--a disturbing glitch, but no biggie. I mean...the thing had worked for the year since then. (and yes, I had renewed it back then)

Then I go through the entire renewal process and the last screen tells me it doesn't work. Huh.

So I hopped into a tech support "live chat" with someone who just didn't seem to understand I what I was asking. "You need to renew your domain." "Yes, that's my's not working." "Do x, y, and z." "Did that...and it didn't work, 'tis why I'm talking to you." "Did you do what I said?" ARRRRGH!

30 minutes later, I received the auto-generated email saying my 2008 renewal had worked.

30 minutes later, I got an email from the tech support guy saying that we seemed to have been cut off (we hadn't been cut off, I told him I was just going to wait until I could call someone), but he'd be willing to help.

And sometime after I left for vacation, the domain went away. Am not really sure what's going on at all. Bear with me...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's been a few years since I bothered to buy a SCC album--but for many years I gobbled up everything he put out. And like so many others, couldn't help but be moved at the news of his daughter's tragic death a few months back.

Good Morning America, being the good vultures they are, interviewed the family last week and they were able to provide the clearest testimony of their faith that broadcast TV can allow. Real grief, and real faith. May God continue to bless this family.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Gone Fishin'

By this time, TLomL and I should be on the road for our first weekend away that doesn't involve a conference, debate, class, meeting since, um...ever. I don't think I've done something like this since 1995 (the inaugural TomFest). I've got some scheduled posts ready to go so my posting stays regular (thanks to a slower night than usual at work), but I won't be responding to any comments, emails, pokes, whatever 'til at least Monday. See ya then.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

One More Quick Sports Note

There are a lot of athletes out there who are good at their job, but are simply jerks (see the last post for one potential nominee). For example, A-Rod is quite possibly the best player in the world, but between the way he treated his team last year, his wife, kids, charities, you name's pretty clear the guy's a prick. Manny Ramirez is another prime example, as the Yankees Chick put it recently:

Manny Being Manny - "Manny being a difficult, ungrateful jackass" is a more appropriate catchphrase
Thankfully, there are some athletes who in addition to being stellar players seem to be genuinely nice guys. Joba Chamberlin seems to be one of those guys--a dynamite pitcher, a model son, and an all-around good guy. Which makes it all the worse to see him on the Disabled List. Loved watching him come out of nowhere last year, was excited to see him move out of the 'pen this year, laughed myself silly over the controversy over his fist-pumps...and now this? Blargh. The kid deserves better. Get better soon, Joba.

Can We be Done with This Now?

I've given up political talk radio for Lent--or 'til the end of this election cycle (whichever comes last), I just can't stand to hear anymore about the squabbles between the liberal pretending to be moderately conservative and the communist pretending to be a liberal. So a co-worker has got me listening to ESPN radio, which can be quite interesting even when they're discussing sports I care nothing about. But I'm about to reach my breaking point with these guys, too...the last few weeks (seems like months) one story's dominated every show, every host's imagination. As one Jim Rome listener-submitted haiku put it yesterday:

Favre Favre Favre Favre Favre
Favre Favre Favre Favre Favre Favre Favre
Favre Favre Favre Favre Favre
I watch a maximum of 19 minutes of NFL football each year, never been inclined to care about the Packers for a second, and I have a deep, abiding, passionate position on whether this almost washed-up glory hog should retire or not. And I don't want to have a position--it's all because of the non-stop coverage.

It's August, fer cryin' out loud! Could we get a little MLB coverage? Every division race is heavily contested for a change--well, except the AL-West, that is, seems the Angels (official name: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, USA, Western Hemisphere, Earth, Third Planet from Sol, Western Spiral Arm of the Milky Way,
the Universe) have got that one locked up.

Now that Favre has been traded, I'm hoping things'll start to die down on this story. Sure it'll take awhile, but I've got my fingers crossed--here's hoping they can find 40 minutes to talk about the World Series in October.
official name: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, USA, Western Hemisphere, Earth, Third Planet from Sol, Milky Way, the Universe.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

"Please Don't Throw me into the Briar Patch!"

from The Idaho Statesman:

A Boise woman was detained briefly by security agents and police officers while protesting in Tiananmen Square Wednesday.

Brandi Swindell, national director of the activist group Generation Life, was among three Americans that spent about an hour criticizing Beijing’s handling of issues ranging from forced abortions to the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement to pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989.

The trio also set up a banner in the square that said "Christ is King" and knelt and prayed.

"It's so shocking being an American ... to see the blatant oppression," Swindell said.

The small group said plainclothes security agents and police officers tried to block the banner with umbrellas and started shoving the group when they tried to walk around the square.

The agents eventually pushed them out of the area and made them sit nearby for almost an hour, checking their passports, before letting them go, Mahoney and Swindell said.

"It was important for us that there be a clear voice speaking out against the Chinese government's abuse of human rights," Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington, said in a telephone interview.
Maybe Mahoney's opinion is right, maybe it's not; I'm not particularly sure how important it is for outsiders to speak out on that front. Not for a second do I think China's a human rights paradise, I'm just not sure how vital it is that Americans go over there and talk about it. (frankly, don't think anyone should've showed up to the games at all...but that's neither here nor there). I do think it's important that those speaking out be honest about what they expect to happen. It's inconceivable that they expect anything to change. They have to expect to be treated at least in a manner similar to the way those three were.

Swindell says "it's shocking" to see the kind of oppression that she was protesting?!?! And Renault was shocked to find gambling at Rick's. Puh-leez.

I sure don't think being harassed by the Chinese authorities (or any authorities for that matter) is a walk in the park, but exactly what was this "blatant oppression" again?
security agents and police officers tried to block the banner with umbrellas and started shoving the group when they tried to walk around the square.

The agents eventually pushed them out of the area and made them sit nearby for almost an hour, checking their passports, before letting them go
They tried to block their sign with umbrellas (quelle horreur!), shoving (so they could've been third graders); made them site (on the other hand, they could've been parents!); checked their passports (oooh, nasty bureaucrats!); and let them go after almost whole hour (the brutes!). Am pretty sure that's a regular day at the office for a pro-life demonstrator in the U.S.A. Not fun, no doubt, but nothing out of the ordinary. Certainly nothing shocking.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Monday, August 04, 2008

So, how was my weekend?


Penelope starring Christina Ricci made its way to the top of my Netflix queue weekend, and I'm glad it did. This modern-day fairy tale was practically perfect--witty, charming, playful, with a decent moral (one you can see coming miles away--I guessed at the moral five minutes into it, and was almost right).

Great acting all-around: in the interest of full disclosure, Ricci stole my heart as Wednesday Addams, and hasn't let go yet--but I think I'd have been won over by her performance regardless; James McAvoy was as solid as always; Catherine O'Hara was lights-out great; Richard E. Grant gave the subtlest and best performance I've seen him in (am so used to seeing him play cartoony characters I spent the entire film debating whether it was him or not); Peter Dinklage (who I can't seem to go a month without seeing lately) was at his best (which is saying something); Reese Witherspoon shocked me (not just because she weighs about the same as my 8 yr old).

The only problem with the movie (not unlike, say, The Truth about Cats and Dogs) is that Penelope was too cute. Sure, her nose was plenty strange--and supposedly under all that hair, so were her ears--but she wasn't that hideous. The reactions of those who were initially exposed to her deserved something more grotesque. She was supposed to be (at least somewhat) hideous...but really, just odd looking--mildly attractive, really. Nothing to jump out of a second-story window running from.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

"Inglorious" Sure Fits

Well, just watched the newly released DVD of the 1978 film, Inglorious Bastards and well, all I can say is:

Really, Quentin, Really?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Obama Facts

Some months back, girlfriday started a series of posts called, The Case Against Barack Obama, which seemed like a good idea, and am really looking forward to the third installment of it sometime in mid-2009 at the rate she's going.

But then again, maybe she's just too awed by the greatness that is the presumptive Democratic nominee and world traveler. A good buddy and professional funnyman, gave me a link to a wonderful website today: Best Obama Facts, which describes itself thusly:

When even Obama's official campaign is forced to launch a fact-checking website to keep his runaway aura under control, you just know that Obama's public persona has developed a life of its own and is resisting efforts to catch it and put it on Ritalin. We thought that the best way to take control of the situation would be by using Obama's own patented method of hopeful approach to reality. So we built a radically different website: it looks like Obama's fact-checking site, only instead of chasing cowardly facts and arguing old truths that are tarnished and tedious, we invent new,sparkling-clean truths that are exciting and heroic. The beauty of this approach is that when new truths become old and tarnished, they can be easily thrown under the bus and replaced with newer and better heroic truths, ensuring Obama's glorious march towards a higher metaphysical plane of unstoppable service to humankind.
In the face of all these facts, the only sensible reaction is to deify elect this man in November--if not sooner.