I got a puppy! His name is Dexter! I got a puppy!


I am trying to break your blog

Some pics from the recent travels...

Most romantic corncobs in the world, yes?

Searching for the Dark Knight.

Welcome to Nebraska! Hotels feature
reasonable rates and charming window treatments.



Top Squander

So the pundits on the internets have already pretty well established why Top Design was a boring, poorly judged, joke of a show. I agree with all of these assessments, but in the name of thorough research, I watched anyway.

What I've not read much about, though, is the criticism that this show was a colossal waste of money. Constantly designing, constructing, and furnishing unlivable show spaces, Top Design really is conspicuous consumption on a grand, televised scale.

Consider this: the show began with twelve contestants, with one eliminated each week. For their design challenges, the contestants designed and executed various rooms, with budgets ranging anywhere between $1,000 to $30,000 dollars. Usually the budgets were in the 5-digit range. With a few small exceptions, each design was executed at the Pacific Design Center and was never meant to be constructed for or actually given to the "clients" the designers worked with. Now, I'm no mathematician, but that's a lot of wasted dough. I imagine some of the furniture and bedding could be donated or resold, but somehow I doubt that those $10,000 dining room tables and $800 vases made it much past the offices and bathrooms of Kelly Wearstler and Todd Oldham.

The final challenge was something else entirely. With individual budgets of $162,500, finalists Matt and Carisa each had to design and execute loft spaces (in the actual lofts, not the PDC) for the ultimate client: themselves. Who says interior design is self indulgent? Did I mention that neither Matt nor Carisa live in L.A. where the lofts are located? Did I mention that getting to keep the loft was NOT one of the prizes for winning? Did I mention that at $100,000, the prize for winning the whole show is actually less than the final challenge budget? Strange things are afoot at the Circle K, my friends.

It would be one thing if the show acknowledged the gross spending of the design challenges. It would be one thing if the show made at least a vague attempt to explain where the furniture and assorted chochkies were going after each challenge. It would be one thing if part of the prize was getting to live in an expensive loft that had undergone $162,500 in renovations and decoration. But Top Design don't care, mmm-K?

I guess I'm not offended by the gross expenditures nearly as much as by the producers total lack of concern over how such wasteful spending would be received by their audience. It seems to me that a Habitat for Humanity Challenge or some type of "design for the needy"-type gesture was in order so that the producers could acknowledge the gross wastefulness of their project. Please ease my conscience for watching this drivel.


The Ax-Man Cometh

Well, it's that time of year again. While most normal people wait in cheerful expectation of spring or hunkered down doing midterms, for the last few years I've spent March occupied with one very serious concern: Nielson ratings. Somehow my shows always end up on the bubble, and this year is no exception. In fact, the same show is on the bubble. Again.

Veronica Mars has ended each of its three seasons uncertain of its future. I presumed that the show's last success, the transition to the new CW network from the WB (after the network's merger with UPN) meant that the show had finally proved itself to TPTB. But no, the show was tweaked in its third season to appeal to a younger, Gilmore-y audience, and the romantic plots became central to the show's marketing. But whatever. It was still on.

But, yet again, here we are.

Rumors of Veronica Mars' cancellation have littered the message boards and fansites, and there seems good reason to be nervous. Kristin Veitch of EOnline! claims that while nothing will officially be announced until the upfronts in May, there are three possible outcomes: renewal, cancellation, or reformatting. In terms of the show continuing to air, the reformatting option seems to be the most viable. In this scenario, the show would keep (for now) only Kristin Bell, fast-forward four years, and follow Veronica as a full-fledged FBI agent. This is not my first pick, but whatever. I don't get a say. Or do I...

Every year, EOnline! (I love the exclamation point too much to omit) facilitates a "Save One Show" Campaign, in which readers vote for a show that is in danger of cancellation, and the E! website and cable channel funnel their energies into saving the show that receives the most votes from users. The SOS campaign successfully saved One Tree Hill last year (a gross misappropriation of power, if you ask me), so there really is power behind the winner. Of course OTH is back on the bubble this year, so hurrumph. But for now, here's what you should do:

You should vote for Veronica Mars. I said VOTE damnit!


Is Anyone Watching The Black Donnelly's? Yeah, Me Neither.

OK, so that's a lie. I can't live like this anymore. I feel like I can be honest with you, and the truth is this: I have watched The Black Donnellys. Twice.

And it's terrible.

The Donnelly boys may be Irish, but as The Departed taught us this year, a wiseguy is a wiseguy, right Marty? And it's a good thing too, because it seems like creator Paul Haggis has quite literally left (in) the gun and taken (out) the cannoli. The show might be full of shamrocks and drinking, but it's clear Haggis spent one bleary-eyed weekend watching The Godfather movies with a clipboard and checklist.

But before I claim there are no differences beyond chianti and Guinness, let me admit that there are four Donnelly boys, in contrast to the three Corleone brothers. First there's Tommy, the reluctant criminal but fierce family defender (Michael Corleone). Then there's Jimmy, the hothead getting everyone else in trouble (Sonny). There's the sweet and somewhat dim brother, Kevin (Fredo). And lastly there's the sweet and somewhat dim youngest brother, Sean (Fredo). The only difference I've managed to find in the two Fredos is that Sean gets the snot beat out of him in the first episode, and thereafter remains a bloody pulp confined to a hospital bed, acting more as a cause or a plot device than a character.

But the show doesn't suck because it's unoriginal. Plenty of good television is unoriginal. No, the real problem here is something I'll call the "Grey's Anatomy Method". What Grey's does, better (or worse) than anyone, is tug--no, make that yank--at those heartstrings. But the problem is that the emotions the show asks its viewers to experience aren't earned; they're cheated with the latest song by The Fray or cutely-designed watercooler phrases like "McDreamy" and "she's my person." The emotion is laying right on the surface, out where everyone has easy access to the very deep feelings those wacky docs of Seattle Grace are constantly feeling. It's like storytelling in all italics.

Thus is the case with The Black Donnellys. The atmosphere is just painted on the walls, with the characters awash in the green light of the neon shamrock hanging in the bar window and in the scenes that miraculously are all shot on wet pavement in the dark. Tommy Donnelly is our sympathetic protagonist, not because we relate to his dilemma or understand his character, but because he has sweet doe eyes and a chiseled, handsome face. In the world of shorthand storytelling, only the ugly people are bad. But unlike Grey's, melodrama has no place in the world of the Donnelly boys.

Grey's Anatomy knows it's a primetime soap opera, and is completely unapologetic. That's its shtick. It's a show that does ferry crashes during sweeps and has subplots about passing syphilis. But The Black Donnellys, with its Paul Haggis pedigree, aspires to something else. The show quotes Yeats and attempts to engage questions of moral grayness. But the quotes are always puzzlingly detached from the plots and the closest interrogation of loyalty versus culpability is typed in all caps right on the black and white poster: FAMILY ABOVE ALL. It's a show trying to tell ambitious stories with a frustrated language, and the result is, well, frustrating.


Silence of the Lamb (That's a spoiler if ever there was one)

Blue Steel

Rest in peace, Don Lamb, it was a bummer way to go. I mean seriously, clubbed to death by Richard Grieco? You can't make that shit up. You'll be missed for your chiseled abs and piercingly blank stare. For your crime fighting skills? Not so much.

"These pants are tearaway."

But seriously, I've been wanting Keith to be reinstated as Sheriff since the show began, but what a bittersweet reason to put the uniform back on. And telling Mindy O'Dell to call you "Sheriff Mars" like 800 times? Kinda tacky. I mean, fine, you thought she was a black widow spider and wanted her to respect your authoritah, but geez, do you need to act like you're loving the soft feel of the brown polyester quite so much? And what's with "reflexively"? She's supposed to respond "reflexively" to your meanie remark that all the men in her life are either dead or headed to electric chair? I love ya Keith, but lay off the power trip.

Crocket & Tubbs

As for LuckyTim and Veronica's team sleuthing, that boy fooled you good sister! He's all "I'm bad at field work" and you're all "yeah, I noticed" and all the time he's playing you! When you catch him breaking into your office and tell him smugly that he's "trying to come up with a lie, failing, and reluctantly telling the truth"--you're dead wrong. He does come up with a lie, and you buy it. Hook. Line. Sinker. It's a good thing that, in the end, you were not left handed. You bested him in the end with your unfailing sleuthiness. It was Professor Plum in the Conservatory with the revolver!

"Hey, can I ask you an awkward question that
can only
be answered in the affirmative?"

And finally, no Logan, backing Veronica into a corner by asking her permission to date Parker is not informed consent. She can't say no without sounding like a bitch, so her permission means nothing. And minus points for only asking after Parker cut you off. Geez, for somebody who's been laying around lovelorn for weeks, you really don't get girls at all.


The Heroes I Have Lost

So, it seems like I've kind of fallen down on the job of talking about Heroes and Lost. Both have been good-ish, but to be honest, I'm not feeling them lately. It's not them, it's me. I swear. But more than not enjoying them ('cause I kinda am), it's that I just don't want to write about them. And I think I've figured out why: secrets.

It's just hard to have something to say about a show that's entire premise is built upon keeping secrets and revealing itself slowly. I enjoy Heroes--I look forward to it and am excited to learn more of the mystery each week. The same used to be true for Lost, but it's been losing me this season. But I don't want to get too deep into my analysis of them, because I feel like the knowledge I have to ground myself in is so limited. I might find out next week that the cheerleader is an alien or that the island is made of marzipan, and that makes me hesitant to make strong pronouncements this week.

So, like I said, it's me, not them. I don't blame them for being unpredictable or surprising. It's just that I want to enjoy these shows and not analyze them. Huh. Maybe I'll check out Ugly Betty instead.