May 27, 2010

Good TV from Glee

With LOST now gone, it's time for me to come up with a new favorite show. Right now, the leader in the clubhouse comes from an unexpected source - Glee.

If the writers of the show, which is more often than not extremely light-hearted and campy, continue to slip in scenes like this one from - of all sources, Mike O'Malley - the Emmy nominations are sure to come flying their way.



Maybe it won't stand the test of time, but that scene did what most good television should do… cause the viewer to have a visceral reaction to what they see and hear. 

It got me thinking, and here are some of the other sequences off the top of my head that made me an active participant in what I was watching, rather than simply a passive observer. I look forward to your comments and suggestions for others to add to the list. (I've limited the list to one scene per show, and not included shows that are strictly comedies.)
1) Twin Peaks - The sequence that starts with the Log Lady appearing at the police station and goes on to show us Maddie being killed is still, to me, the greatest fifteen minutes of television ever filmed. From the innovative use of the camera to the sheer violence of the murder, and a haunting score underneath, I still can't take my eyes off the screen when watching.


2) The Prisoner - The "opening credit" sequence of the very first episode is a master class of how to take what most shows today would use three seasons worth of exposition to get through and get the whole hypnotic and confounding series rolling in about three minutes.

3) My So-Called Life - The final scene of this underrated series has only gotten better with age. After Krakow tells Angela that he, in fact, authored the love note that Jordan Catalano gave her, she still gets in the car and drives off with Jared Leto. Then the show was canceled, leaving viewers forever wondering what was going on in her mind at that moment and what the fallout of this revelation would be.

4) Lost - From the pilot, the aftermath of the plane crash sucks the viewer right into the engine, and sets the standard for how a series can hit the ground running.

5) Buffy the Vampire Slayer - So many brilliant episodes to choose from, but for my money, the episode "Hush" in which there is no dialogue for nearly the entire episode is the best in terms of requiring you to pay complete attention to the screen. And what you saw when you did was not always pretty.

6) NYPD Blue - The episode where Jimmy Smits' character, Bobby Simone dies was one of the most gut-wrenching and real things I've ever seen on television. No gunshot wounds… no explosions… simply a slow and anguishing withering away in a hospital bed as a result of heart disease.


7) Journeyman - This was a show that deserved a better fate, as it was canceled just as it started to find its way. Forget all the mumbo-jumbo of the "time travel" abilities of the main character. 

As a relatively new father to a son myself, I was simply spellbound by a scene where Dan returns home from a "trip" to discover he and his wife no longer had the son he left, but rather a daughter who he has never met. 

Determined to go back to correct the mistake, his wife - who in this "reality" only knows her daughter - is equally adamant he does no such thing. A powerful moment from two parents who are both 100 percent justified in their position.

8) St. Elsewhere - MASH did dream sequences better, but the episode where Howie Mandel's Dr. Wayne Fiscus has a near-death experience and ends up touring both heaven and hell was sheer brilliance, especially when God appears to have a chat with Wayne and looks just like Wayne. "I created you in my own image. How else would you expect me to look?"

9) Star Trek: TNG -  For all of the Borg battles, the most impactful episode to me was called "The Inner Light" where a mysterious probe sends Picard on a journey that, to him, takes decades - he has a family, children, and even grandchildren - but at the end of the episode, when the probe runs out of energy, he is returned to his "real existence" where only a few minutes has passed. 

Yet, for Picard, the loss of this second life, which was very real to him, is one he'll never truly recover from. 



10) Fringe - In the post 9/11 world, use of the image of the Twin Towers needs to be handled delicately. However, there was no better way to symbolize that we had entered an "alternate universe" than to have the camera pull out to reveal that William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) had an office in the World Trade Center, untouched by terrorism. 

Bold? Yes. Powerful? You bet.

May 25, 2010

Flashback to LOST


 Locke, Jack and No Smoky Monsters

Commenting on some of the comments from my LOST finale summary

To Ron, who complained that LOST was "a show that arguably raised the bar for action on network television" and lamented that much of the finale was "two and a half hours with everyone smiling at one another" - 

I respectfully disagree. If you watched LOST for six seasons, you'd know that every season finale had more walking from Point A to Point B than an old Roger Corman sci-fi snooze-fest. Action was limited to small spurts, such as the actual physical confrontation between Jack and Faux-Locke on the cliff (which I would agree looked far more like an old-school Star Trek slugfest between Kirk and the Gorn than anything fresh and exciting.

You're not the boss of me, Jack!

To Bernard, who complained that the finale "proved to me that there was no overarching plan from the start" and cited the fact that Michael Emerson was original only signed for three episodes as proof of this -

The creators themselves have always said they only sat down to hatch a plan after they got picked up for a second season. Having said that, your particular example isn't proof that they didn't. They had already introduced the Others, and presumably they had a "leader." The fact it turned out to be a guy named Ben masquerading as Henry, rather than a guy named Ben we met two episodes later doesn't change the planned finish line, just the details in getting there.

Got milk?

To Ryan, who said "I would've loved anything more on (Widmore) and his involvement, (Dharma), Walt's powers, how Ben moved the island, why (Jacob and Smokey) were different, why the (Smokey) didn't have a name"-

And Ryan added many more unsolved mysteries, as did Bernard who wanted more about why the "numbers were what they were" and why women couldn't have kids on the island.

I think the point is that even if they did answer questions, some people would have been disappointed. For example, they DID answer the question "Where did Jacob and MIB come from?" and people then asked, "Where did their 'Mother' come from?" and if they explained that, we'd probably have twenty more questions. 

I would have been happy with simply having there being a magic glowing force at the heart of the island. Once we actually saw Desmond down there, I agree with Ron that it looked like a rejected Sigmund and the Sea Monsters set. 

Which one of you is the candidate?

Most questions you can make an educated guess at the answers anyway - women were infertile as a result of either the bizarre side-effects of electromagnetism on the island, or the fallout from the bomb going off, or a combination of both. Does it really matter? 

The question posed by the show in the pilot was summed up by Charlie, when he said "Where ARE we?" They answered that - a strange magical island. Then they posed the question of what is in the Hatch? They answered it. Desmond. Then they posed the question, who are the Others and how did they get there? They answered it. We saw the origins of Dharma. 

Most of these major questions were answered along the way, and some of the lesser ones slipped through the cracks, or didn't prove to be as ultimately important as we thought. After all, does anyone really care if Hurley's friend Dave was real or not? 

Remember me? I was on Sex and the City!
 
Some other questions are simply McGuffins. Does it really matter why turning the wheel teleported you to Tunisia, and not, say, Los Angeles? No. Could the writers have come up with a scientific explanation for teleportation that you would have accepted? Probably not. So let's just take some of these as given, and move on. I say better to not have answered these type of questions. 

In the end, LOST was groundbreaking simply because it presented us with a storytelling format we'd never seen before. It also would not have seen nearly as off-track if they had known from the get-go that they had X number of episodes how long they had to tell their tale.

If the networks were truly to learn from this example, they'd go to the BBC model, and give shows a 13-episode order. If they're successful, then maybe they get another order in a year or two. If not, they simply go away. In either case, the writers get to tell a complete story with a beginning, middle and end - the story they want to tell. 

Viewers don't feel cheated in the process. 

Take "Happy Town" which was recently promoted up the wazoo by ABC. This show was being billed as the "next Twin Peaks" and was going to be a season-long mystery. It aired twice, then ABC announced it was canceled. Well, why would a show like this get viewers if experience has taught us that this is how quickly the plug gets pulled? Who wants to put in the emotional commitment to new shows if they might disappear as quickly as they appear? 

Who is the killer? The network.

It's simple. Buy a show. Give it three months of consecutive airings. Let them finish out a complete story arc. If it hits, buy three more months. If not, bring in the next show. Lather, rinse, repeat. 

In the end, we should all simply be thankful that LOST wasn't canceled a few episodes into the run, like say FlashForward. For once, even if you hated the finale, we all ended up winning here.

From Beer to Eternity

For those of you with a free hour on your hands tonight, since there's clearly no new episode of LOST to occupy your viewing schedule, may I suggest you take a few minutes to check out my good buddy Sam's new series of videos entitled, From Beer to Eternity.

In his own words: "As a comic, I started seeking out brewpubs whenever I was on the road.  Often, over frosty mugs, glasses, steins or yards of heavenly brew, I began to wonder: who are these mad, geniuses making this beer?  Where are their lairs we call 'craft breweries?'  And what is the alchemy in these sacred labs that makes these beers so special? So I’m hitting the highways and backroads to find out and I’m’s taking you with me. I’m going to travel…. From Beer to Eternity."

So, grab a brew, take a look at his fine work, and be sure to spread the word.


May 24, 2010

Last of the LOST

 RIP LOST
 
So, the final episode is now a thing of the past, and the biggest thing I now realize is: the vast majority of people in the world are miserable, idiots, or a combination of both.

Looking at some message boards and comments on Twitter and Facebook, the feedback from the finale tends to come into three categories. 

1) "Thank goodness LOST is over. I never watched it --or I watched it in the first season then stopped -- and I'm sick and tired of people talking about it. Good riddance!" 

To these people, I say, what's your problem? It's a television show meant to entertain people. If you didn't watch it, then why do you care one way or the other about it coming to an end? Your life is no different today than it was yesterday. 

The only reason to be so angry is that you're jealous that other people were able to take enjoyment out of something and that clearly you need to find something in your own life to get excited about. 
Yes, some people take fandom a bit too far and may become obsessive about shows like LOST, but that's still no reason for someone who doesn't watch the program to develop such hatred for it. Indifference I get, but anger? Get a life, will ya?

2) "Huh? What the heck was that ending? They were dead the whole time? WTF? These writers suck!"

Some of these comments come from people who didn't watch the series on a regular basis, and simply tuned in to "see how it turned out" so they could be part of the water-cooler chatter this morning. I'll dismiss those. After all, you can't be expected to take a 300-page novel, read the first chapter and then the last three pages and expect to "get it." 

But for those who actually watched the series on a regular basis and still don't understand the ending… I don't get you

Spoon-feed me the answers, please.

No, they didn't all die in the plane crash in the pilot episode. How do I know this? Because Jack's Dad actually said so without any equivocation in the coffin scene with Jack. He explained that everything that happened on the island actually happened. 

He also clearly stated that everyone there is dead - because everyone eventually dies. He also added that some died before Jack did, and some died long after he did. The Flash Sideways may well have been a sort of "waiting room" or Purgatory, but the whole six seasons of the show were real.

I have no issue if you didn't like this "final reveal" or didn't understand HOW this alternate universe was created. But if you're going to yell at the show's writers for "wasting six years of your life because they were dead the whole time" when the show spelled it out so clearly that's not what happened, then you really should stick to shows like "Two and a Half Men" where piped in laughter and other audience cues can fill in for your own listening skills. 

3) Finally, we get to the last, rational group of comments - the "I liked it" or "I hated it" opinions, all of which are valid, so long as your sole reason for not liking the ending is that they didn't answer every single question they posed along the run of the series. 

What series finale could answer every single question an audience might have? Take M*A*S*H* for example - yes, the war ended and everyone got to say their goodbyes and go home. However, Klinger was staying in Korea to search for his bride's parents. The show didn't tell us if he ever found them. 


Similarly, we don't know how any of the characters lived their lives from that point forward. Does Hawkeye ever see B.J. again? Does he go crazy? Does he become chief of surgery somewhere? Who knows? The point is, reunion movies and spinoffs aside, either a show ends in "everyone is dead" or we fade to black and the rest of the characters' lives remain mysteries to us. 

So, yes, they are all dead in the church. However, that's not a "cop-out ending" in my opinion. We don't know what happens to the gang on the Ajira flight. We don't know how long Hurley and Ben stay on the island and what they do there. That's not a deal-breaker for me. The show can't go on forever, so at some point, the story has to end.

Emotionally, I think the episode was incredibly fulfilling. We got to see all the characters reach some sort of closure in the alt-universe and each "spark of recognition" was well done and appropriate. From the main plot standpoint, we did achieve resolution of the battle between Jack and the Man in Locke, though I certainly wasn't expecting the "cork in a bottle" metaphor to not actually be a metaphor, but an actual cork in a bottle. 

I wish that we got a better understanding of exactly how the Purgatory was created and a little more explanation as to Desmond's gift and what exactly the "rules" of Jacob and Smokey were and why they were what they were… but in the end, this was always a show about the characters. 

 Mom always said not to push Brother into the magic shiny fountain.

We watched together to see them live together, and in the end, the writers decided that none of them would die alone either.

I think we can all live together with that.

 

May 21, 2010

Plenty of Grey Area

Well, AJ, what were you expecting?

I watched the season finale of "Grey's Anatomy" last night. Here's the thing about the show… it's not great by any means, but here's where I give the show it's due respect -- as preposterous as some of the actual events that take place may be, at least it stays true to the internal logic of its own universe. It's a melodramatic medical drama, and doesn't try to be anything more.

Case in point, as you may have seen in the previews for the finale, a shooter is loose in the hospital and people will die! Now, at first I thought this was a bit over-the-top, but we learn early on that the shooter in question is an elderly, grieving widower who sued the hospital after they pulled the plug on his wife. He's been on the show a few times this season, and therefore, his motivation for the killing spree is at least plausible. Had it simply been some random act of violence, then I would have cried foul. 

Unfortunately, because we know far too much about the contracts of the stars of our television shows today, we can't truly be surprised when it comes down to which characters will be killed. Going in, both my wife and I correctly predicted that the "pixie" and the "arrogant jerk" would be the likely body count, and even though two of the big stars were indeed struck down by bullets and required emergency surgeries, they both pulled through with flying colors. No need to change the opening credits for next season. Now, if Katherine Heigl hadn't already been written off the show, her character would surely have been added to the death count - but we also would not have been surprised in the least.

While I cannot stand Ellen Pompeo in the slightest, there certainly is a ton of solid acting on the show. Sandra Oh and Chandra Wilson are more than deserving of the Emmy nominations they've earned over the years. But as for the quality of the writing in terms of plot? It's just laughable.

Gimme a rewrite - STAT!

A shooter is on the loose in the hospital, and fairly early on, the police are called in and they set up a SWAT team outside and the hospital is placed in lockdown - which of course, means nobody can get in or out. In spite of this, the only real defense against someone entering the hospital is apparently, "Hey, you! Get back here!" as twice characters we know simply enter past the line of police simply because they need to be inside for scenes later on in the episode. 

This old man then takes a leisurely stroll throughout the hospital for the next two hours, killing people willy-nilly. The police know who he is and that he is acting alone, since the doctors are all over the calling of 911 on their cellphones. The climactic scene at the end of the first hour comes as the gunman stares down Dr. McDreamy, the man he blames for his wife's death. They are standing on a walkway between two wings of the hospital in front of nothing but glass windows. How lame must the sniper presence be to not be in position at this point to take the old man down? 

Nope, no open shot here.

Fine, McDreamy gets shot and the old man wanders around some more and in one of the most puzzling maneuvers of all time, ends up in the operating room with a gun at the head of the doctor attempting to save McDreamy's life. How he got there, I do not know as there seemed to be only one entrance into said room, and two other characters were sitting in front of what should have been the only door in and they never saw him. 

OK, I don't watch shows like this expecting LOST, but come on, guys. At least work a little bit harder at the realism. When the octogenarian assassin suddenly starts to bend the rules of physics on your little hospital soap, you really drop the ball. 

Just saying.

May 19, 2010

LOST - Down to the Nitty Gritty


And then there was one...

Just a single episode left before we say farewell to one of the most engaging television shows in the history of the medium. I'll save my overall commentary about the way the writers chose to end the series until the mega-finale airs, since this penultimate episode felt a whole lot like the first part of a three parter. However, a few thoughts until then:

*The parallels to the Pilot episode are brilliantly done, from the opening shot of Jack's eye to having him be the one to stitch up Kate. Hoping for more...

*Love the Danielle line about kidnapping Ben. That's how you reward fans who have watched from the get-go without having to resort to grainy flashbacks.
 
*Miles and his "survival instinct" is pretty much the most realistic character trait on the show. None of this tacit acceptance of the mysterious goings-on or any need to know the answers to these mysteries. He just wants to get out of harm's way. Love him.

*They could show Michael Emerson reading a newspaper for the last two hours of the show, and I would be rapt. He puts on an acting master class each and every time he is on the screen.

*So far, the Lost "formula" for season-enders is being followed to a tee: all the characters are as far away from where they need to be by the final sequence as possible, and slowly but surely fate brings them all together at the right place at the right time. Consider me very optimistic for the farewell.

 So you say it's like I'm trapped in a bottle?

So how will it end? 

I still would love to see them all back on Oceanic 815 one last time just as they were in the first episode -- only this time with complete awareness of all they had been through -- all except for Jack, that is, who sits all alone on the beach looking skyward. The silence is broken by the appearance of his father, who sits beside him and asks him if it was all worth it.

May 17, 2010

The Probst-Game Recap


Survivor just wrapped up its 20th season, Heroes versus Villains, and for the first time since the show went to its current "three people in the finale" format, I was actually unsure of the outcome going into the vote. However, in the end, my gut proved right, and Sandra ended up taking home the million dollar crown.

Russell, the evil manipulator, cared so little about the social aspect of the game that he had no problem making sure that every single member of the jury hated his guts before making sure they knew he was the responsible party for their ouster from the game. His ability to work alliances to his advantage was unprecedented in the game, yet because the final vote comes from within the game itself, and not from any impartial observers, the only way he could win is if both of his two fellow finalists were equally unlikeable and hadn't won any challenges. Otherwise, the jury will find any reason to give one of the other two the prize. 

Parvati was indeed equally as unlikeable to many players, but because she had won immunity time and time again, she was far from weak and wasn't going to fall victim to the "riding coattails" argument that usually befalls the "second bananas" of a power couple in the jury's eyes. In fact, it didn't even come up in the final Tribal Council that Russell saved her by handing her a hidden immunity idol earlier in the game - an event that probably would have signed, sealed and delivered the check to Russell in most seasons. 




The problem was this wasn't a normal season - it was made up of veterans of the game, and Russell thought that meant they'd respect his strategy, and also that they would be hesitant to award the top prize to someone who had already won (both Parvati and Sandra won in a prior season). In a way, he was right. Juror after juror tried to get Russell to simply apologize for going a little overboard in his "evil" but he was so self-centered that he couldn't take a step back, cut back a bit on the persona he'd created for himself, and earn a few votes. 

Parvati's mistake was that she didn't distance herself from Russell enough. Rather than take the angle that she simply let him do what he was going to do and stayed out of the way, she basically played the "poor me" card that she had such a huge target on her back from being a prior winner (which was true) she simply had to join forces with Russell, the only player who would have her. In essence, she painted herself as a helpless victim, and the jury was only going to give her the money because she was strong. She dug her own grave with any undecided voters here.

Meanwhile, Sandra was indeed pitiful in the challenges, but she was not only honest to a fault, she was able to win because she had a weapon in her arsenal that Russell forgot to consider. She had the juror's own guilt on her side. They didn't want to vote for Russell. They hated the fact this person that had so little respect for was sitting there in the final three. Sandra was honestly able to say that she had tried to get Russell out of the game for weeks, and every time she approached the Heroes about switching sides and voting him out, she was unable to get them to see the light. 

Sandra gave the jury an "out" and she knew it. By not making any major faux-pas in the final Tribal Council, she was able to parlay "I hate Russell" into a million dollar victory. And this was not a passive strategy, but an active one made by an incredibly under-the-radar shrewd competitor. How else can you explain the fact she took Russell's hat and "secretly" tossed in into the fire hours before the final vote? She wanted Russell to be upset about it. She wanted Russell to make a stink about it in front of the jury - because she knew that when she finally fessed up, the jury would have been so delighted, she probably would have won unanimously. 

Sometimes the jury does get it wrong, as I believe they did when they didn't give Russell the top prize in Samoa. However, this time around, they got it 100 percent right. The best player won, hands down.

May 14, 2010

Post Haste

Follow!

Fridays are always the busiest days for me, with several article deadlines at ESPN.com, so I apologize for the lack of any meaningful post today. Instead, I thought I'd take a moment and give a shout out to my buddy Kendall B. of the KS 107.5 Morning Crew in Denver.

If you're in the Rockies, why not give him a listen? And if you're not, you can still listen online.

Have a great weekend one and all, and we'll be back on Monday, hopefully with some decent reading material for you.

May 12, 2010

LOST at Sea

 We'll call this hand "half-empty"

Sigh. I so wanted to be positive about this episode. I didn't want to join the chorus of people who cried foul at the answers the LOST writers shared with us as the series headed towards its swan station -- er -- song. 

And yet…

I give the writers credit for winking at the audience, having Mother Nature tell us that with so little time left we should stop asking questions because the answers will only lead to more questions. I once again applaud them for playing with our assumptions, and showing us that all this time the Man in Black, thought to be Jacob's brother, was indeed so -- but has actually been dead for many centuries. 

Yet the episode left me empty because it merely gave us glimpses of an answer without any real substance. Jacob has to protect the magical underground glow of the island? What is he -- a leprechaun keeping the Dharma Initiative from stealing his gold? And as for his brother, who they not only refused to give a name -- but took great pains to set up nine million different points at which normal people would have used his name, and still wouldn't go there -- "What are you two boys doing? Jacob! And you!" -- not clever, just lame.

Did the story fit into the mythology as we know it? Absolutely. In fact, it was very clever to have Mother Nature with two sons or "candidates" that she couldn't kill herself, and that she was only able to die at the hand of "He who we shall not bother to name" AFTER she had found her replacement… and that she was grateful to finally be done with the island. But the whole Adam and Eve retrofit with the black and white stones? 

Maybe I would have been fine with it if they had left it to the smart folks in the audience to realize that they were the skeletons the gang had discovered way back in Season One. To actual beat us over the head with it via flashback? That seemed more like a way to puff up the collective chestitude of the writing staff, saying "see, we had a plan all along" and I don't think that rings true. 

 Jacob. You look a bit under the weather.

Finally, just because you showed us that "HWWSNBTN" was standing there with the pre-frozen donkey wheel claiming that the folks he'd been hanging with for 30 years were quite smart and figured out that this was the way off the island… that neither means you've actually answered the question of its origin nor made any realistic explanation of why anyone in their right minds would make such a conclusion. 

It's not like we're all sitting there slapping our heads going, "Of course! How could we not have figured out that by attaching a wheel to the hidden underground shiny light, we'll suddenly be able to magically transport ourselves to Tunisia. Which reminds me…honey, did you call the wheel guy and make an appointment for this weekend? We're making that trip to Somalia next week and I want to make sure we don't encounter any problems."

 We're plumbers and know a ghost when we see one. Can we be of help?

Two episodes left… and now, a lot more work to do than I thought they'd have to make me feel good about this final season.

May 6, 2010

LOST in Thought

Surprise! We're from the future! No, not buying it?

Now we are nearing the moment of truth, as the next episode of LOST, to me, is the most crucial one of the series. 

"Across the Sea" is supposed to explain the backstory of Jacob and the Man in Black. These two characters, who we did not meet until well into the run of the series, have been posited as the puppet-masters of the entire plotline of the show. Now, with a precious few episodes remaining, the motivation of their "little game" will make or break things for me. 

I don't need to know the answers to all the questions that have been posed over the course of the series. I'm fine with leaving some of the mysteries of the island up for grabs, as it were -- even important things like why Desmond is so different than everyone else. But when the whole reason for Jack and company to have arrived to the island in the first place has been given such epic importance over the course of the show, then you have to give us that answer -- and it has to make sense. 

Don't get me wrong, I still think LOST has been one of the greatest television shows of all-time, and I won't feel I have wasted time watching it for so many years if it turns out that the explanation of Jacob and the Man in Black turns out to be lamer than lame. But the reason this show captured my interest from the get-go is because it's always been about setting up the audience to make assumptions about the characters, and then to reveal new information -- consistent with the previous storylines -- that completely blows up what we thought we knew. 

So, when it comes to this last, biggest reveal -- they'd better do that again, and not pull one of these cliché sci-fi "we've always been here" good versus evil showdowns out of their rears. I expect to have my assumptions blown up one more time, but perhaps I'm simply assuming the writers are that good. Maybe that's the assumption they'll destroy instead. 

Fingers crossed…

May 5, 2010

Completely Made up Stats of the Day

El Shaq

Percentage of adults in Arizona who will find a way to get themselves to a bar today to drink some Corona and have some nachos, simply because it is "Cinco de Mayo" - 75%

Percentage of those adults who are in favor of the state's new Anti-Immigration Law simply because of their belief that America should be home to Americans and that the influx across the border is hurting American culture. - 35%

Percentage of those who recognize the inherent irony - 0%

May 4, 2010

Tour-onto

You gotta love any group of guys willing to go that extra mile for the love of the game -- even if they don't really mean it. Enjoy!

May 3, 2010

20 Random Thoughts


1. As much as I’d like to believe that children are our future, how can I get behind any philosophy espoused by that nutjob Whitney Houston?

2. I have seen one of the Sweathogs naked… sadly, it wasn’t Barbarino… and it wasn’t pretty.

3. I have always found it far easier to write things down rather than to say them out loud. Maybe this is why I’m far better at keeping in touch with old friends than I used to be before the internet and e-mail became so omnipresent in our lives.

4. Having said that, I probably should write my wife a lot more love notes than I do.

5. I hold the record for the highest score on MTV’s “Remote Control” not to win the game. At least I got to “Sing Along With Colin” and take home some kick-ass British Knights as a parting gift.

6. I have been trying to get a book published, and have a very supportive literary agent who is as frustrated as I am with the response thus far. “Great writing… but a little too niche,” we recently heard. This astounded us coming from the same publisher who just released Keith Hernandez’ treatise on the 2008 Mets. Yeah, I’m sure there are millions clamoring to read about the time Marlon Anderson got a headache.


7. The night that “Melrose Place” premiered, I was in a hotel room with my friend Ron on an Indian reservation… I believe we were in Oklahoma. Ron went out before the show to pick up some liquid refreshment for the occasion, and I still remember his fury upon returning, around an hour later, about having to drive fifteen miles to the nearest liquor store, screaming “How can you not sell beer here? You're supposed live up to the stereotype!” Good times.

8. Of all the things about my son that I envy, and there are many things (youth and innocence, just to name two) – what I’m most jealous of is his sponge-like ability to retain information. He can recall the exact outfit he was wearing on an uneventful trip to the supermarket six months ago. I can barely remember what TV show I am watching once it goes to commercial.

9. I never even considered trying sushi until my wife introduced it to me. Now, if I don’t eat it at least once a month, I get cranky.

10. I have seen the Mets win a World Series, the Giants win Super Bowls, the Rangers win a Stanley Cup and Syracuse win an NCAA basketball championship. Yet nothing short of the US Men’s Soccer team winning the World Cup will ever match the feeling of watching the US Hockey Team beat the USSR at Lake Placid… which is why I’m so passionate about the team. I want to feel that feeling one more time.

11. I think my philosophy of life can be summed up in three simple words: Kids love monkeys.


12. If there was one invention from science fiction that I wish was “real” and in widespread, affordable use, it would probably be the transporter. I’d love to be able to hang out with my friends far more often than I do, but the actual “travel” involved is the biggest obstacle to that.

13. I used to think it would be awesome to discover a time machine so I could go back in time and make a few changes in the choices I have made. However, now that I am happily married to my best friend and have an amazing son to boot, there’s no way I’d risk going back in time and changing anything.

14. One of my camp counselors growing up was Larry Rudolph, who went on to become Britney Spears’ manager. Knowing that now, I’m a bit peeved that back then he didn’t seem to care too much for the demo tape we made at Hershey Park.


15. I took some French in school from 4th grade all the way through high school. When my wife and I went to Montreal just after our son was born, we couldn’t find the restaurant we were looking for. I asked a local proprietor for directions in French and got us there. Who says you never use the stuff you learn in school?

16. I’m willing to put up with a lot of unbelievable plot points in order to enjoy a movie, so long as the movie-makers do their best to stay true to whatever zany universe they’ve invented. However, that completely goes out the window as soon as the name “Sandra Bullock” appears in the credits.

17. I am convinced there are no six words in the English language more disturbing to hear when attending your favorite band’s concert than the following: “Ladies and gentlemen, Sir Elton John!”

18. Back in junior high, when my friend Jason and I would walk home from school, there was this small sitting area with a narrow gate we had to pass through. Each time, we’d alternate who went first, just like the credits of “Cagney & Lacey” alternated Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly each week. That’s not an obscure reference… that’s the actual rationale we had for doing it.


19. I don’t know where I’m going… but I sure know where I’ve been. Sorry. There I go again, thinking I’m David Coverdale. What is wrong with me?

20. There's not a television show on the air right now that couldn't be made a little bit more interesting with the addition of one simple plot twist… Dinosaurs!

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