Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Maybe she gave me a soul

I got on the train this morning and noticed a single empty seat. I was one of the last people at my station to board, and several people were standing, and my first thought when I saw the seat was actually What's wrong with it? There didn't seem to be anything unseemly on it, nor anything amiss about the people on either side of it (they weren't even spilling over their own seats, as is so often the case).

I had a very full and heavy backpack on, and my laptop case over my shoulder. I stood by the seat and put the laptop on the floor between my feet, and the backpack was halfway off of one shoulder when a short middle-aged white woman wedged herself between me and the seat. Instinctively, I stepped a bit closer to the seat as I slipped my backpack strap the rest of the way off my arm. "Excuse me," I said.

"This my seat," she said in some kind of Eastern European accent. "I was here." What, had she gotten up to look around the subway and then come back? Was the MTA selling popcorn now?

"Um, no you weren't," I said.

"This my seat!" she said, and she pushed me, but not hard enough to move my feet.

Without touching her, I sat down, as I said "Ma'am, I was here first, I was just taking off my bag so I could sit down." This would have been clear to anyone. Including me, had the tables been turned. There's a definite dog-eat-dog mentality to the subway at rush hour, but within that is usually a willingness to admit when you've been beaten. You concede the seat or the prime spot to those who are faster or ruder than you are.

The woman bent down and looked me in the eye, and said, shaking her finger, "You have no education, and you are never a gentleman!" With her Slavic accent and piercing stare, I had the unshakable sense that I was being placed under a Gypsy curse.

Rather than tell her about my excellent education, or that I am often a gentleman, I smiled and said "Thanks," as she walked away. I kept looking around for her, partly out of concern but mostly out of fear, but she seemed to have disappeared. The train wasn’t that crowded and I assume she got a seat elsewhere.

I can't argue with her that a "gentleman" would have simply given her the seat. But would a "lady" have shoved me? If she'd been more polite about it, I probably would have given her the seat. I've always considered chivalry, in the traditional sense of the word, to be a sexist concept. The idea of men holding doors and giving up seats for women implies that women are incapable of opening doors or standing. This is not to say that I don't believe in being polite; I hold doors for all sorts of people all the time, and give up seats for anyone who needs them more than I do. While I have no rules about not hitting women, I do have rules about not hitting anyone. And I know plenty of women who could beat the crap out of me if they chose to.

The Gypsy Queen wasn't old (though she was older than I), wasn't carrying anything heavy (as I was), and clearly wasn't infirm if she was willing to pick a fight with me. I had as much right to that seat as she did, perhaps more as it got me and my gigantic bag out of the way of other passengers. And I did get there first.

In the end, I felt a little guilty anyway. But by then it was a matter of principle. I wasn't going to let her shove me when a simple "Excuse me," would have gotten her what she wanted. So I sat for the entire ride. I was afraid the entire train now thought I was an asshole (well, a bigger asshole than I deserved to be thought of as), but took comfort in the fact that the woman's outburst had also made her look like a complete nut-job.

I suppose the up-side is that a Gypsy curse would give me something to blame for all the stuff that goes wrong normally.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Proofrding

The main headline on Playbill Online this morning read "Elia Kazan, Inflential Stage and Film Master, Is Dead at 94." Then, the first line of the article, slightly differently structured, started "Elia Kazan, the inflential and controversial stage and film director...."

INFLENTIAL????

I mean, this is a headline. Big, bold letters. I took one look at it and knew something was wrong, even without being sure what until I really read it, and it's both before 8:00 and before breakfast. So how on earth did someone whose JOB this is not notice that there was an entire syllable missing from the top of a web page that has thousands of readers a day? And presumably, someone had to type "inflential" TWICE.

Hopefully by the time you click the link it'll be fixed. But this the kind of thing that makes me crazy, and I suspect it will bug me all day.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Sunday Premieres

So if you're a government agent and your house burns down and you're believed to be dead for 2 years but then you show up in Hong Kong with no memory of your time away, does the CIA buy you a new wardrobe?

Alias didn't disappoint. An edge-of-my-seat excitement and suspense that I haven't felt all summer. I'll say no more because I know some people have taped it and I don't want to spoil anything.

The Lyon's Den, on the other hand, is incredibly dull. Too bad, since I really like several of the actors. Not that too bad, since as the season goes on I find I'm actually liking the idea of watching less TV this year. Oh God, what's happening to me?

You are the Weakest Link...Goodbye!

Wow, that show lasted all of five minutes, didn't it?

Anyway, I've done my first major overhaul of the links in the sidebar. Check it out!

Saturday, September 27, 2003

More belated Emmy commentary

I'm so glad Jennifer Garner got to present with Victor Garber this time and not with Mickey Mouse. This may be a weird show but at least it's not as embarrassing as the Oscars.

Yay, Debra Messing!!

Boo, Debra Messing's gown!!

Okay, yay Debra Messing again -- she's so cute!

I suppose I should say something snarky about the speech by the president of the Academy, but I'm just going to fast forward through it.

God, he's even boring on fast forward.

Aw, Walter Cronkite is cute on fast forward. He looks lke a Muppet.

Ooooh, a 24 commercial! They've kept a tight lid on the new season, so that was exciting!

Martin Short has an Oscar? Seriously? That's a joke, right?

I've always liked Tony Shalhoub, but I've never seen Monk and probably never will, so I'm disappointed anyway.

Where did Henry Winkler's neck go? Okay, no snark, he's doing a John Ritter eulogy.

Oh, God, I hate the Death Montage. There are always people I'd forgotten had died. This year it's Nell Carter and Lynne Thigpen. It would have been nice if they'd spent a little more time on a tribute to Mr. Rogers (I realize you have to pay for the full article in that link, but I guarantee it'll make you cry if you grew up in the Neighborhood).

I don't really have anything to say about Marg Helgenberger, I just like saying "Helgenberger." Helgenberger, Helgenberger, Helgenberger!

Oh good, Steven Spielberg won an award. He doesn't have enough of those.

Hm...the DVR has officially let me down for the first time. The Emmys ran over and I didn't record it. Oh well. That's the end of my Emmy commentary then!

Friday, September 26, 2003

Another one bites the dust

Miss Match is fun, and Alicia Silverstone is adorable, but it's definitely not appointment television for me. I'll watch it if I'm home and have nothing better to do.

At this rate, I may actually have to get a life.

At least they know...

According to SiteMeter, someone else has found me by Googling "kim bauer cougar." This amuses me greatly. I took a look at the search results myself out of curiosity and found this article, in which the writers of 24 acknowledge their mistakes with Kim last year. And since I always like it when people acknowledge their mistakes (I try to do it myself as often as possible...not that I ever make mistakes, of course!) I thought I'd share.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps

So the American Coupling doesn't suck completely, but the whole exercise seems kind of pointless to me. I suppose if I'd never seen the original it would be fine, but I have and there's just something not quite right about the new version. Especially the actor playing Jeff. No one can possibly match the brilliant oddness of Richard Coyle.

Plus, they cut my favorite jokes from the British pilot: Jeff's definition of unflushable, and Sally's unwillingness to smile and "lose elasticity" for anyone but single men. At least they left in porn buddies. Fortunately, BBC America ran the original pilot last weekend and it's stored away on my trusty DVR.

On a happier note, as the NBC season continues, Friends and Will & Grace both gave me several out-loud laughs (plus half-naked Will and Jack), and the first post-Sorkin West Wing was quite good.

What Can't Brown Do For You?

So I had a package from Amazon delivered via UPS a couple of weeks ago. Only it wasn't actually delivered because I was never home. And I couldn't go pick it up, because while my local warehouse isn't a bad walk from my apartment, it's only open Monday through Friday from 9 to 5.

Now, this is something I will never understand. Most people in this country work Monday through Friday from 9 to 5. So why on earth would you have a service that involves going to people's homes (or having people go to a place near their homes) that only operates Monday through Friday from 9 to 5?? I'm not saying they should work all day, but how about noon to 8? How friggin' tough would that be?

This is also a problem I find frequently with national companies not really understanding the geography and culture of New York City. We don't, in general drive. Nor do we, in general, work all that close to where we live. So going to the UPS place isn't a lunch-hour activity. When I lived in Inwood (the northern tip of Manhattan), my "closest" UPS warehouse was in the Bronx. I suppose on a map this looked very close indeed. But what I couldn't explain successfully to the nice lady on the 800 number who I believe was in Texas, was that there was actually a river between me and the Bronx, and the only way for me to get to this particular area would be to take a subway 8 miles in the wrong direction, then another to get to the East Side, then another back north and into a section of town I was entirely unfamiliar with. Round-trip this would take at least four hours.

Still, I suppose "most people," even here, can have things delivered at work, but since I'm a short-term temp I can't. But what if my package were big and heavy? Isn't this why we have big burly professionals to deliver things, so we don't have to schlep them home on the subway?

Anyway, after the third delivery attempt I got a postcard saying my package would be returned in a week if I didn't call an 800 number and deal with it. I dutifully called right away, and was told that if a fourth delivery attempt failed, that was it, it would be returned to the sender no matter what. I asked why the driver hadn't simply left the package with my super, and they couldn't answer that. I said I had to call them back.

A few weeks ago, I cat-sit for a friend who lives a couple blocks away. I called and asked her if she'd mind taking this delivery at her office and then bringing it home for me (it was not, in fact, big and heavy) to return the favor. She agreed, so I called UPS back and gave them the new address. This was on a Thursday. They said the package would be delivered the next day, which sounded suspicious to me, since I knew it would first have to go from the Queens warehouse to the Manhattan one.

On Friday morning I got a call from the Queens warehouse directly, telling me the package would be delivered on Monday. Great, I said, thinking it was all settled.

A week later, nothing had arrived at my friend's office, so I tracked the package online. It had been returned to the sender. I immediately called the Queens people (knowing that the 800 number people are in a different state and probably wouldn't be much help) and asked them what had happened. They had no record of a delivery address change. How is this possible, I asked, since you called me to confirm it?! They didn't know. And as far as they were concerned it wasn't their problem anymore, since they couldn't just go get the package back. I was furious.

So I emailed Amazon, who informed me that there was "a problem with [my] shipping address," and that they therefore couldn't re-ship the package, they could only issue a refund and I was welcome to re-order. Oh, and the refund wouldn't include shipping charges. I fired back that there was no problem with my shipping address, the problem was with the UPS people being morons, and that the package had already arrived at their warehouse so give me my refund now, please.

They emailed back, somewhat sheepishly (part of the problem is that their customer service emails all go to one generic customer service address, even if you're replying, so I never heard from the same person twice) to confirm that the order had arrived at their "returns center," (is it a bad sign when you need an entire center to handle people's complaints?) but it would take a few days to process my refund. Fine. And since the shipping had been free, I was only grumpy about that on principle.

I didn't work on Monday, and happened to receive another package from UPS (this one is the happy end to a good customer service story, but those are boring). When I opened the door, the driver said cheerfully, "Hey, you're home!" And I said, "Yes, well, I usually work," all happiness at the box I was collecting washed away in a sea of snark by this guy trying to be funny with me and acting surprised that I might actually leave the house during the day sometimes. I should point out that this same UPS guy has, in the past, left packages at my door, downstairs by the mailboxes, and with neighbors whom I had never met. (Falling into the last category was my DVD player, which was shipped in the manufacturer's box and clearly labeled "DVD Player.") As theoretically insecure as all those delivery methods are, every one resulted in me actually receiving my merchandise. Why was he now being a huge pain in the ass?

"Listen," said the driver in slightly broken English, "I come here usually late afternoon, so when you come home and see slip, walk over to 43rd or 42nd Street and look down the block. If you see truck, come find me, I give you package. I sometimes there 'til 8:30 or 9."

Hm. An interesting solution, but can I just point out again that this is not my job? I signed for my package and slammed the door in his face. Well, okay, I actually said "Have a good night" and closed the door gently, but in my head I was slamming it.

The sad thing is, I won't stop shopping online. You get better deals, the shipping costs are low or free, and you usually don't have to pay the exorbitant NYC sales tax.

I think the real moral of the story is that I need a steady job soon so I can have stuff delivered to work like "most people."

Karma Chameleon

I swear I'm not trying to copy or trump MAK's enlightening post about Margaret Cho today, but I've just discovered (thanks to this site) that Boy George has a blog!

I'm usually pretty immune to celebrity worship...or at least star-struckness, working in the business we call show as I do. I'm sure if I were working on Taboo I would be totally cool and professional with him.

But I'm not working on Taboo, and dude, Boy George has a blog!!

He seems to have similar views to mine on stupidity, rudeness, and customer service. He's also a David Bowie fan, but I suppose that shouldn't come as any kind of surprise. He also, though British, spells judgment without the extra e.

This is the most exciting thing to happen all week.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Man Overboard!

After being totally bored by the whole phenomenon since the first week of Season Two, I watched Survivor last week because I was intrigued by the cruelty of throwing the castaways overboard and springing the start of the show on them when they were all dressed up thinking they were going to a photo shoot.

And I'm completely hooked.

My entire value system is crumbling.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

The Season Continues...

So I just watched 8 Simple Rules... for the first time, and I really regret not watching it sooner. Not, clearly, like I need to watch more TV, but it's really surprisingly good, and Ritter is fantastic. Which made me sad.

I love Teri Polo. I really wish her show were better. It could definitely be much worse, but I don't think it's a taper.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Cable, Vinegar and Cookies

Sometimes my convictions last a very long time. Like that Peter Gallagher hang-up. Or my assertion that Boy George is the most underrated popular performer of the Twentieth Century (seriously). Sometimes they don't last very long at all. Not two months ago, the Boy told me he'd considered getting me TiVo for my birthday, and I said, quite sincerely, that that was okay, since I didn't like the idea of paying more per month than I already do for cable, and I already watch too much TV anyway. Not two weeks ago, I said right here on this blog that any TV-viewing I couldn't handle with my trusty VCR was more than I should be allowed to handle anyway.

Then I realized I'd forgotten to tape The West Wing twice last week, and had totally forgotten that The Reality of Reality even existed, and I'm never aware enough in the morning to think to tape Ellen's new talk show (oh how I hate working days!), so I swapped my digital cable box for Time Warner’s new Digital Video Recorder.

My other arguments for not wanting TiVo were price, lack of space to put another piece of equipment, and the fact that I don't have a phone line (cell and broadband only for me).

Lest there was any doubt that Time Warner is an evil, evil organization, they've managed to destroy all of these arguments in one fell swoop. This thing replaces my cable box, so it's not extra stuff, and it doesn't cost anything since I don't technically own it. It gets its data through the cable, so it doesn't need a phone line. And the service only costs a few dollars more than my digital cable did.

So of course it was too good to be true.

Last Friday I brought my trusty little cable box to work with me. I kept checking on it under the desk and feeding it scraps when no one was looking. I don't think it had any idea I was giving it away. Poor thing, it made me sad. I stopped by the Time Warner center (is that what you call it? it's not really a store) on 23rd Street on the way home, grabbed my high tech take-a-number ticket, waited about half an hour and walked out with my new DVR box. (They promised me my old box would be given a lovely new home in the country with fields and trees and other cable boxes to play with.)

The DVR is about twice as big as a dTV box, and much heavier, so it already had the perk of giving me an excuse not to go to the gym on the way home (it wouldn't fit in a locker). So I went straight home and set up my new toy and played for a bit. It worked really well and was pretty much the coolest thing ever.

Until around 11:15, when Joey froze in the middle on Monica's living room.

The new box looks a lot like my old one, so I figured it would reset the same way. It did, and I got my signal back, but none of the DVR features worked. All the timers I'd programmed in the guide were gone, and I couldn't access the "List" (where it shows the stuff you've recorded and all your timers and preferences) at all. So I called tech support, and felt really fortunate to be connected with a man who spoke English as his first language. Oh wait, no he didn't. He had me reset the box again, even though I told him I'd already done it. Then he had me kill the power, then he sent some sort of signal through the cable...basic things you'd do with any kind of electronics that aren't working. (I should point out that this thing came with no kind of instruction manual.) It was pretty clear that he was completely unfamiliar with the new technology and was just going through the motions of helping me. Finally he said, "I think something is wrong with that box."

"Oh, ya think?" I said, trying to keep a sense of humor but instead coming out extraordinarily bitchy. No matter, because English not being his first language, Tech Support Guy missed the sarcasm completely and said "Yes, I do. You have to go get a new one, or we can schedule a service call."

Well, I had TV plans for Sunday (catching all that stuff on Bravo I'd missed during the week, and the rerun of the PBS documentary on the building of the World Trade Center, which I'd also managed to forget was on), and while the box was able to tune channels it wasn't able to change channels magically the way regular cable boxes can (the DVR actually never does that, it just records things to its little hard drive) so I wouldn't be able to tape anything if I wanted to, you know, leave the house. Which I do sometimes. So I didn't want to wait for a service call and besides I really can't afford to take off work for this sort of thing. So I said I'd just swap the box out again.

Surprisingly, after snarking at the guy on the phone (it's not like it was his fault, but it pissed me off that he so clearly didn't know what he was talking about) I wasn't crabby at all. Boy had to get up early on Saturday so I got up with him and schlepped the DVR back in to Manhattan. After waiting 20 minutes for a 7 train (with no announcement as to why it was delayed), I had a fairly pleasant experience back at the cable place. I didn't have to wait long, I was helped by a very sweet woman who was very apologetic about the error

She got me a new box, and told me that you can only exchange a DVR box once. Apparently, because the technology is so new, if it doesn't work for you twice, chances are the problem isn't with the box, but with your cable set-up, so they need to send someone to the apartment to look at it. This was not a good sign.

I had much better train karma on the way home, arrived in time for my shows, and plugged in my new box.

Which didn't work. To make this process even more fun, it was a whole new kind of not working. Now I didn't have the guide or any program info or some of my channels. I called tech support again, and this time got a woman who did speak English, but was no more helpful, really. At one point she said, "Reset the box and tell me when the clock comes back up...wait, does it have a clock on it? I've never actually seen one of these." At least she was honest about it, but how hard would it be for the Powers That Be to show their staff a picture of the new and apparently highly buggy equipment they're giving the public?

Tech Support Lady said I needed a service call. I said screw that (only I said it more politely) and asked her to put a note in my account saying that I'd be back on 23rd Street in an hour or less to get my old digital box back. I'm sure by now it was starting to miss me. And clearly, my first instincts about TiVo were right. I was not meant to have it.

So, back in the shopping bag, back on the 7 train (brought a magazine this time!) and back to the counter for my high tech take-a-number ticket. 327. I walked over to the counter and saw, to my horror, that they were Now Serving 211. I scanned the room and saw masses of people, sitting on the floor, leaning on walls, every chair filled. Lots of them had dTV boxes, and I suspected they were all here for the DVR. They have a few computers hooked up to the internet, and 4 TVs with remotes in the waiting area, and people were starting to come to blows over them. I looked at my ticket again and saw the awful words, "Estimated wait time: 1:45." I almost started to cry. I went back to the front desk and explained that I was on my second DVR box in under 24 hours, I had already been here today, and I just wanted to switch back to digital, was there any way I could do that without waiting for another 2 hours? He told me to go to the "window" and ask for a supervisor. I turned around and realized the only window was the billing center, and all the tech people sat at a counter. I turned back to ask him which window he meant, and he was gone. Literally, vanished in to thin air. In his place was a mean-looking woman in a security guard's uniform. Near tears again.

So I just headed towards the billing people and got on line. A minute or so later, the woman at the end of the non-billing counter by where I was standing finished with her customer. I approached her meekly and told her that the man in the front had told me to come ask for a supervisor.

"Why," she asked, without looking up.

"Well," I said, trying to figure out how to be brief, "because I'm really pissed off."

Not the right approach. "Sir, everyone in this room is really pissed off about something. You're gonna have to wait."

Sass is perhaps not the best customer service approach, but it works for me, and I decided I liked this woman. That wasn't actually helping my situation, but I tried to stay calm. I've worked customer service jobs and know how much they suck, and I know that none of my problems were this woman's fault. Still, she had the power to fix them.

"I'm on my second DVR box since last night," I explained again. "I was already here this morning to get this one, which doesn't work either. I just want my old box back, please, and I don't think I should have to spend my entire day here to do it, since you guys keep giving me faulty equipment."

"Okay, wait over there," she said sweetly. Then, as soon as I had gone back towards the huddled masses, she yelled "212!"

Played! The bitch totally played me! I got back on the line for the billing people so I could ask for a supervisor. The woman (I'm gonna start calling her Wanda because she needs a name and kind of reminded me of Wanda Sykes) saw me there and said "You're just going to have to wait your turn."

"The guy in the front told me to see a supervisor," I said. "Are you a supervisor?"

"I'm one of the supervisors here, yes," she said.

Fuck.

"Look," I said, raising my voice just a little, and fighting back the urge to cry again. "This DVR thing does not work." I was banking on the fact that almost everyone in the room was waiting for their own DVRs, and thought if things got bad enough I could start yelling about how shitty the service is and cause some trouble. I wasn't there yet, but I was hoping she'd catch on. "I understand that I need to wait my turn, but I've already done that once today, and I really don't think it's fair for me to have to lose an entire day of my life because you guys fucked up!" I'd gotten louder and felt a little bad about cursing at her, so I pulled it back and said "Look, I know this isn't your fault so I don't mean to yell at you, but I'm really frustrated by this process."

"I didn't even take it that way, sir," Wanda sassed as she got up to get something for her other customer. I started to think that she didn't take anything any way, because she wasn't really listening to me at all.

I'd meandered off the line during that last monologue, and I decided to just stay where I was. I didn't want to make the new customer uncomfortable, so I hovered a few feet away from Wanda's desk, but clearly waiting for her and watching her. She came back and looked at me and said, again, that I'd have to wait, and then went back to #212. I started eavesdropping and heard Wanda trying to explain to 212 that the package she was offering her would cost 212 less money for more stuff, but 212 was convinced she was being scammed. My affinity for Wanda returned; She was clearly having a bad day.

Then, as if she'd read my thoughts, Wanda suddenly looked up at me, interrupted whatever 212 was going on about and said, "Wait, did you say you were already here today?" I knew it! She hadn't really been listening at all! Affinity gone, pissed now.

"Yes," I growled. "I was here last night, that box didn't work, and I was here again two hours ago, and now this box doesn't work."

"You were here today?" Wanda tried to confirm.

"Yes. Last time I checked, two hours ago would be part of today!"

"Oh. Give me a minute." Wanda finished with 212 (who never grasped the concept that Wanda was trying to help her), and she waved me over. You have no idea the relief I felt sitting in that chair. "Give me that," Wanda said, indicating my ticket. She looked at it, shook her head, and threw it away. My anger at the fact that she hadn't been listening to me before went away and didn't come back until I told this story to the Boy hours later. For now, I felt like we were in on something together.

Wanda was clearly having a bad day and her filter was off. "I was trying to help that woman," she said to me, "and she just wasn't getting it." Now I felt a little bad for being an asshole, but hey it had gotten me what I wanted. Well, I was still there, not home watching TV, so I thought it would pay to start being nice again.

"I know," I said, "I couldn't help overhearing. I don't envy you your job. You have to deal with morons like her and assholes like me all day."

She laughed. "I like my job," she said, "it's just crazy in here today. I think I just need to eat lunch." It was 2 or 3 o'clock now and I don't think Wanda's break was anywhere in sight.

Without really thinking about it, I said "Do you want me to bring you something when we're done?" Wanda looked at me like I was insane. "Seriously," I said, "you just let me cut over a hundred people. If we get all this straightened out I'll be happy to get you a sandwich." And I meant it too. It's not like you can tip most customer service reps, and even though it had taken a little ranting, I was really grateful to not be sitting on the floor for an hour and a half.

"I just need some sugar. I need cookies from Subway."

"Done," I said, and we got down to business. I told her the whole story again, and she apologized and turned in her chair to get up and get me a regular box. Then she turned back and looked at her screen again as she noticed what was wrong.

Apparently, they have different boxes for Manhattan and Queens. It seems I'd been given a Manhattan box earlier in the day. Wanda explained that the woman who'd helped me earlier in the day usually worked in Flushing, where they only carry Queens boxes (because why would anyone schlep all the way out to Flushing from Manhattan) so she must not have realized. The she said with a smirk, "Oh you need to go yell at her. And if you have any more problems, go on out to Flushing and see her."

I didn't know what to do. I couldn't bear the thought of going through all this again, but I also didn't want to leave empty-handed. Wanda and I had formed a bond, and I felt like I could trust her. "Look, tell me honestly," I said, "have you been seeing a lot of problems with the DVR?" She told me no, not like this. She said it was still new but most people seemed to be very happy with it. "Okay," I said, "I'll try one more time. But please make sure I get a brand new Queens box."

She got up and headed off, I assumed to get the unit. But then she came back with the woman who'd "helped" me earlier, who apologized profusely. I'll say this for these ladies, when they screw up they do try to make up for it. Wanda got me a new box, showed me the "Q" in the serial number that means it's programmed for Queens, and threw in an extra remote (I hadn't brought that back) "for your trouble."

I'm sure she thought she'd never see me again, but five minutes later I returned with six cookes -- 3 chocolate chip, and 3 white chocolate macadamia -- from the Subway down the block. I set them down on her desk without a word so as not to interrupt her new customer, who looked confused. Frankly Wanda looked confused to, and something else that might have been grateful but might also have been scared. I didn't wait around, anxious to see if this thing worked (and still have time to get back before they closed and swap it again if it didn't), but I hope she ate the cookies and wasn't afraid I'd poisoned them or something.

I've taken so long to blog about this mostly because I was afraid of the power in writing these words: Everything seems to be working fine now, and I love my new toy. I'll do an update on actually having it soon.

So what have we learned, kids?
1. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but sometimes flies are stupid. In which case a little vinegar goes a long, long way.
2. When you're mean to people, and then they're nice to you, get them cookies.
3. And if you're a Time Warner Cable customer in NYC, and you self-install DVR, make damn sure you get the right fucking box for your borough, and pray you don't have to call tech support.

A running commentary on the Emmy Awards

Tyne Daly?? Tyne fucking Daly???? I mean, I like Tyne Daly I guess, but Lena Olin, Lauren Ambrose, Rachel Griffiths and Stockard Channing were ALL robbed.

What the hell is Wanda Sykes wearing?

Jon Stewart is my hero.

Should I know who this guy playing Schwarzenegger is? I'm 30 minutes in and I'm already tired of California governor jokes.

Am I the only one who just doesn't think Wayne Brady is funny at all?

I was doing okay with the orchestral versions of everyone's theme song until they got to American Idol. That just doesn't work with a brass section.

Victor Garber was robbed. He and Lena Olin should form a super-secret evil spy group, have a daughter together, dress her in kick-ass outfits, go steal a bunch of mystical artificats, and use them to get their Emmys.

The Angels in America commercial gives me chills every time I see it.

Jon Stewart is my hero.

Oh, that's Darrel Hammond playing Donald Rumsfeld. That's who was playing Schwarzenegger. He's still not funny. I think it's time to start fast-forwarding.

I love that Allison Janney can pull of a dress that pink. She rocks.

Okay, this is just getting less and less funny. I think it's a sure sign that I should get off my ass and do some laundry. More later.

I'm blind!!

Short shorts and a baggy tank top have their place in an aerobics class, but perhaps someone should tell Richard Simmons that they are not appropriate attire for a talk show.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Something strange has happened

Several friends have commented that I seem to be blogging more than I originally intended. I don't think this trend will continue for very long, but since the blog is new I can safely spew about whatever I think of without fear of repeating myself, and the amazing mind-numbing, soul-crushing life of a temp certainly lends itself to lots of navel-gazing and writing.

So that's not the strange thing. Now that I have a blog of my own (and now that I have a complex about how many people are reading it and how often and how they get here) I've tried to explore the blogging world a little more. Not like I'm making a big project out of this (and see above re: the need to entertain myself at work), but I've been checking out some people who've linked to me (hey, thanks!) and randomly clicking on the recently updated links on Queer Filter. And what I'm finding, to my surprise, is that there are a lot more smart and funny people out there than I'd thought. Go figure. Not like I thought I was special (cranky gay man bitching about pop culture...not exactly original), I just figured the good ones would be harder to find.

So check out the links list on the right as it grows...just promise you won't decide you like them better and not come back.

The continuing battle of the missing E

Yesterday I received this e-mail from MCM:


So, I need to join a gym. There's a Crunch just six blocks away from my
office, so I made an appointment to go get the spiel, get a tour, etc.
tomorrow. That was all well and good... until I actually walked by said
Crunch last night on my way to dinner and saw their big sign: "Crunch - No
Judgements".

And then I was sad.


I know she expected a certain amount of support from me, but I think this just proves my point that judgment looks weird without the e. A quick glance at Crunch's website suggests that they're pretty good at proofreading, so I did what I should have done last week and went to dictionary.com. Apparently, judgement is an acceptable alternate spelling.

But I'm not going to change the title of the blog, because I don't want to make MCM or Faustus cry. Especially since they make up about 40% of my readership.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Joe Lame

So Fox just revealed the "shocking new twist" to the new Joe Millionaire: All the women are foreign and therefore have never heard of Joe Millionaire.

Fox, oh Fox, that is not a shocking new twist. That is lame lame lame. I hope one of these "international women" reads People and is playing them all.

On the upside, the new "Joe" is much much much better-looking than Evan. Hopefully he'll be smarter too. Though I guess that won't make for very good TV.

Return to Sender

Last night I left my apartment around 11 (Thursday is bowling night), and I had with me a check to mail to the bank for deposit. There was a group of about 10 kids hanging out on the corner. I say "kids," but really they could have been anywhere from 15 to 30 for all I knew. I'd love to use a word like "hoodlums," or "hooligans," or perhaps "street urchins," "ne'er-do-wells" or "layabouts," because those are all fun words, but I know my neighborhood pretty well and these guys are harmless. We're not talking Jets and Sharks here. Though it would be totally cool if they danced.

Anyway, one of these "punks" (hee) was sitting on top of the mailbox. I was talking on my cell phone, so I only had one hand free and was mid-conversation, so I just held up the letter and tilted my head at him. He got it and said, "Oh, sorry...." And then didn't get off the mailbox.

He spread his legs.

It seemed pretty gay for a young "miscreant," frankly, so I was a bit taken aback. I also had to get this check in the mail, so I called his bluff. Using my one free hand, I reached between his legs, opened the box (the mailbox, sickos) and dropped in the envelope, then casually went on my way to the subway, bracing myself for catcalls of "fag" that never came.

All things considered, it's probably for the best that my hot pink bowling shirt was in my bag. And a little bit of a shame that the "scamp" wasn't cuter.

This post brought to you by Thesaurus.com.

Blow Winds

So if I have to go home because the building is making me seasick, I should get paid for the whole day, right?

Seriously, I don't mean to whine about this. The tropical storm (as it was by the time it got here) barely grazed NYC last night, and was over much faster than expected, leaving a beautiful blue day behind. Well, beautiful, blue, and wicked windy. The minor creaking of ceiling tiles in the office yesterday has given way to full-on Pirates of the Caribbean sound effects, most of which I'm pretty sure are coming from the support column next to my desk. I've spent much of my life in tall buildings and have never experienced anything like this. I'm not concerned for my safety or anything, but I genuinely am quite queasy.

Last night at Boy's office there was a rumor that some glass had fallen off the upper floors of the building and landed on the sidewalk. We strongly suspect that rumor wasn't true, but it got him out of work an hour early anyway.

I keep listening for a crash or a splash, but so far no luck.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Just when I thought nothing would make me cranky enough to post today...

I am working on the 37th floor of a fifty-something story building next to the East River, right off of New York Harbor.

There is a hurricane approaching.

Now, I understand completely the physics of why skyscrapers are designed to sway in high winds. I am not the least bit afraid of heights. I know that we will only be seeing the tiniest edge of this hurricane, and even that won't be until tomorrow.

Still, all things considered, I'd really prefer if I couldn't hear the building creaking.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

On a happier note...

So just because I'm not doing a diary-style blog doesn't mean I'll never reveal anything personal here. So I feel I should explain that my boyfriend (known here as Boy) is also named Adam. For some reason, this baffles people. I mean, Adam was one of the most common baby names of the mid-70s, and we're both boys, so these things happen. It's not like we did it on purpose to fuck with people (though I sometimes wish we had).

The most common question is, "Doesn't that get confusing for you guys?" Um, no. If we're talking to each other, it's pretty clear that we're not, y'know, talking to ourselves. And I'm continually surprised when people who know me pretty well but don't know the Other Adam, listen to me tell stories involving him and think (sometimes for days) that I'm talking about myself. (Not that my stories go on for days, but days will go by before they realize what I meant.) When have I ever referred to myself in the third person without being utterly facetious about it?

One friend of mine told me that while she never gets confused when she's with us or talking to either of us, she recently discovered that it's hard to tell stories about us, especially not knowing the Other Adam's last name. I'll buy that. In groups, whichever one of us is newer to the group of friends gets the Other Adam moniker, and if we're with people who met us together then we're known as "The Adams." We thought we'd heard every variation on that ("The Adams Family," etc.) until the other night when the hostess of a party said to a new arrival, "These are my friends Adam."

Anyway, today is our 2nd anniversary (which in gay years is like the 10th) and every day I'm surprised he still puts up with me. So it seemed like a good excuse to talk about him a little. For the record, he keeps me much warmer than my Buffy tapes, even when he's not around.

Love you, Boy. :-*

Why why why?

Somewhere way deep down in my subconscious, I must believe that I've done something terrible in my past and deserve to be punished. Why else would I have watched Whoopi again?

The Iranian character is afraid of Asians because he thinks they all carry SARS. See, and it's funny because Americans think all Iranians are terrorists... it's funny...fu-- heh...heh...hoh, jeez...

The good news is that watching NBC for a while gave me a chance to see the new Coupling commercials. It seems the summer teasers that I had judged so harshly weren't actually scenes from the show (though they were bits of the same dialogue). The new spots are much better, so I think I was a little hard on the (perhaps under-rehearsed?) actors when I compared them to high school students doing Shakespeare.

Still, the whole thing seems redundant. If you're going to clone the original in every word and movement, why not just watch the original?

Kindred spirits

There are so many reasons why whomever wrote this is my new hero.

Deep-ish thoughts

My second professional theater job was as a production assistant on a workshop of a highly-anticipated new musical. I wound up not working on the full production (I was young and star-struck and thought (incorrectly) I knew everything, and I realize now, having had young, star-struck PAs who think (incorrectly) they know everything work under me, that these are not people who get rehired) and that production, in large part because of how highly-anticipated it was, failed spectacularly (no, I'm not suggesting it had anything to do with my not being there -- I will suggest it has a great deal to do with many theater critics being assholes).

Last night I attended a concert reading of this piece, and was astonished that I had forgotten how good it was. I mean, it's really fucking good. Hearing this score, I felt as excited as I had felt six years ago, sitting in a rehearsal room thinking of all the other shows that had rehearsed there, all the famous people who had sat in the same chairs, and knowing that I was present for history, hearing something electric and great for the very first time. It made me sad to think that I haven't really felt that kind of excitement about anything since.

Then I realized something very important: I haven't been 22 and stupid since, either, and never will be again. And while in almost every conceivable way that's a good thing, it saddens me a little that now when I sit at a table read, even at my most enthusiastic, instead of thinking about my place in theater history, I'm thinking I hope this runs a while so I can pay the rent and I hope [mildly famous person] doesn't turn out to be a bitch.

The flipside of this is that I'm grateful to have worked enough for these things to have become commonplace and a little bit dull. And also grateful that while I may be a little bit jaded, I do still love what I do. I've got a long way to go before I get jaded enough to really complain about it.

I'm Trendy!

The "Shaw Report" in this week's Entertainment Weekly (aka, The Bible) says that Judging Others is "in," Judging Yourself is "five minutes ago," and Judging Amy is "out." Who knew I was so trendy? (Or that Judging Amy was ever in?)

I realize, actually, that this blog has so far not made very good on the promise of its title, being very TV-centric, and somewhat light on the actual judging of others. In an odd and entirely unforseen turn of events, no one has really pissed me off much in the last couple of weeks. And I certainly never saw that coming!

This morning (spurred (credit where it's due!) by both a reading I saw last night, about which I may blog a little later, and by a correspondence with ME), I've been pondering the fact that, while it's fun for me to spend so much time contemplating the fall TV season, it would actually be much nicer if I didn't have that time to spend.

Strange routes

I just looked at my Sitemeter stats for the first time in a few days, and learned that people have visited my little baby blog via Google searches for "clay aiken," "john ritter," and of course my favorite, the highly specific "kim bauer cougar."

I find that very odd, and also oddly satisfying.

Whomever you are, I hope you found what you were looking for (I assume this wasn't it!) and will come visit us again soon. I have no doubt we'll touch on all those topics again. Welcome!

Monday, September 15, 2003

Adventures in Advertising

So I caught this commercial late the other night, in which a perky blonde woman introduces us first to a brunette woman who has a roll of toilet paper mounted above her kitchen sink. The brunette is "washing" dishes using only the toilet paper. The blonde says that you'd never wash your dishes like this, right? Cut to a naked man (from the waist up, of course) in a shower stall, with a similarly incongruous toilet paper holder. He is trying to scrub something brown from his face and body with the paper, without much success. The perky blonde appears in the bathroom and explains that you'd never try to bathe like that. "Of course not, you need water!" The shower turns on, and the man looks more relieved than Matt Damon hearing that the wedding is off (think about it).

The ad is for this. And while the product itself seems like a pretty good idea, I'm dying to know who thought that the man with his entire body covered in shit was really the best way to sell it.

Off to a good start

I won't say too much because I know not everyone will have watched them yet, but I was very pleased by the Sex and the City season finale, and by the Carnivàle series premiere. Both quite stylish and engaging (in their own vastly different ways, of course!).

A good start to the fall season (I'm just going to pretend that whole Whoopi thing never happened).

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Speaking of reality tv...

If you like reality television and cruelty (and as you know, I enjoy both), you need to check out The Joe Schmo Show. The basic premise is this: Average Joe goes on a highly unoriginal reality show called The Lap of Luxury. Only that show doesn't exist, and he's the only contestant. Everyone else is an actor, enlisted to play reality show stereotypes: the Virgin, the Asshole, the Gay Guy, the Grizzled Veteran, the Rich Bitch, and so on. And they play with this poor guy who thinks it's all real.

Now, I say "poor guy," but part of what makes the show fun is what an idiot he is. I mean, it's hard to second-guess the psychology of anyone on a reality show -- there are so many factors we'll never get to see. And until recently (and who knows how long ago this was taped), reality show contestants had no reason to assume that they were being duped. But this thing is like a Christopher Guest version of a reality show. In the room where they do the eliminations, Survivor style, they have plates with each of the contestants' picture on them, and when someone is sent home, the Smarmy Host smashes the plate in the fire and says, "You're dead to us." It's pretty ridiculous.

But I can accept that Matt (Joe's real name) wouldn't necessarily catch on to all that, especially if it's being edited to look even more ridiculous for the audience's benefit. But no, if Matt had a reality show cliché title, I think it would be "The Doofus." There's one on almost every show, at least the ones involving a house, and Matt fits the role well. When a challenge involved a special guest porn star (seriously), he not only recognized her, he shouted about how he recognized her, and then basically said "Yay, boobies!" It was pretty much all one take, and there's really no way to make that up. In a series of interviews in the first episode, he talked about how he wanted to "get with" every single woman in the cast, and talked about his "chemistry" with them. I kind of root for him 'cause he seems like such a nice guy, but then I enjoy watching them play him because he's just so easily played, and seems to have so little sense of his own self.

Lest it get too mean for poor Matt, the other fun part of the show is watching the actors screw up. They have a huge task, improvising within a pre-established character for so many hours a day, with no chance for "re-shoots" with Matt. if they screw up and he catches them, it's all over. Of course Matt, being Matt, is unlikely to ever catch them, but it's fun to watch the actors contradict themselves and forget their backstories, or come up with new stuff and then suddenly realize they'll have to remember it.

In the end, I would love it if the final twist were that Matt is an actor too, and it was the rest of the cast being played the whole time. But somehow I suspect I'm over-thinking it.

Unreality

So I'm watching this Reality of Reality TV show on Bravo, and I can't figure out if it's so uninteresting because there is nothing interesting behind-the-scenes of reality shows, or if it's because they're not allowed to reveal any of the good stuff.

Oh my goodness! Situations are manipulated? They edit "scenes" out of order? They get them drunk on purpose in the hopes they'll embarrass themselves? Scandal boosts ratings? Shocking!

I guess the sad thing is that a lot of people really don't know all that.

Indulging my secret desire to be a TV critic

It's taken me about a week to write this post. Bastards kept expecting me to work at work. I realize it's a wee bit long, but it's the sort of inconsequential pop culture fluff that is this blog's raison d'etre, so I've decided to leave it that way. I won't be offended if you skim.

This is an exciting time for our nation. The air is filled with promise, hope and creativity.

I'm speaking, of course, of the fall television season.

I watch a lot of TV. I daresay not an excessive amount of TV, but certainly above-average. And this may not even be true, but it certainly feels true, because my TV watching requires some thought and engineering. Because I generally work nights, I have to tape prime time. So this means I'm not just a "I'm bored, let's see what's on" TV-watcher. I have to plan ahead. There are cable boxes to program, VCR timers to set.

Adding to the logistical nightmare, for the past seven years I've kept a collection of Buffy on tape. (This started before you could get every series ever made on DVD (seriously, didn't Blossom and It's Your Move just come out??) and I just kept it up. Besides, it's way cheaper than a box set.) The problems with taping something for keeps are that you can't tape anything before the show you're keeping, or else you wind up with, say that Seinfeld rerun sandwiched between two Buffies forever (and that's an image I didn't really mean to conjure); and if you tape something after the show you're keeping, you have to make sure you have time to watch it before the following week when it will be recorded over. At least, these are the problems when you're as anally retentive about these things as I am.

The problem this year is that I'm taping reruns of The West Wing on Bravo. I love the show, and came to it late so on top of collecting these early episodes, I'm seeing them for the first time. But, in syndication, West Wing is on four nights a week. And that's just complicated.

People tell me I should just get a TiVo, but I can't really afford it, I'm inherently nervous about bringing machines into the house that think they're my friends, I have nowhere to put another piece of equipment, and I've just been generally resisting the idea that I need one. Most seasons I only wind up with one or two hours a night (and Friday and Saturday are usually clear because very little good stuff for adults is usually scheduled then). I don't feel like this is excessive, and I can usually manage it with tapes. (There's a story to come about DVR, but for many reasons I've planned my season as if I'm just using a VCR.)

This year, two of my long-standing addictions are gone (Dawson's Creek (I didn't want to wait for that show to be over, but I started watching back when Kevin Williamson and Greg Berlanti did all the writing and it didn't suck, and I felt like I should see it through to the end...two years of my life I'll never get back) and Buffy (at least I'll have my tapes to keep me warm at night, sniff)) and I thought this would make things easier this year. But the beginning of a season is always flush with possibilities. And I'm a sucker for good ad copy. I usually hope a new show or two will suck so I can take them right off my list after the first week or two. Though clearly, quality doesn't necessarily determine whether a show will hook me. (Five years of Dawson's Creek, people. I'm just sayin'.)

Anyway, where I'm going with all this is (drumroll, please)...
My Plans and Snap Judgments for the Fall TV Season:


  • Monday

    Joe Millionaire (8:00 Fox)
    Ah, what a wonderfully embarrassing place to start. The thing is, I like my reality TV lowbrow. The lower-brow the better. And a little mean. Witness my complete lack of interest in Survivor or The Bachelor, and my rabid obsession with Boy Meets Boy, Mr. Personality, and High School Reunion (I consider makeover shows their own genre, and Fear Factor an icky game show). And my fascination with this subgenre I'll call Trash Reality began just a few months ago with the first Joe Millionaire. I mean, it was just so brilliant in its badness. How bad a liar Evan was. How all the girls bought it so completely (but really, why wouldn't they? Before Joe, people on reality shows just assumed they were being told the truth about things!). How I rooted for Zora, because she was the smartest and really needed the money, but at the same time thought she was way too good for Evan (that observation seems to have proven true). And not since rats and snakes (okay, I watched one season of Survivor) has there been something as quotable as when Melissa M., after showing that she had never set foot in a kitchen and turning her nose up at the (admittedly crappy-looking) dinner Evan had made for her, said, "I want to go to a third world country and, like, bathe their children. Because I'm a mercenary kind of person." And Evan didn't notice.

    I assume the magic will be gone for round two. But since finding women outside of Amish country who don't know about the first one is impossible, the producers have promised a whole new show with a whole new twist. I hope it's not lame. Or maybe I hope it is lame, so I won't have to watch this crap. Nothing will beat the SNL spoof, "Joe Not-A-Rapist" anyway.

    Skin (9:00 Fox | TWoP)
    The commercials for this look pretty cheesy, but I'm a sucker for Romeo and Juliet, which is basically what this is. Juliet is the porn king's daughter, and Romeo is the son of the DA who's prosecuting him. The kids meet at a Latino Leadership Conference gala in place of the masquerade or the dance at the gym. I do worry that it will all come off as a second-rate rip-off of Baz Luhrmann's phenomenal R+J film, but we'll have to see how closely it sticks to the original story. One thing I won't let up on though: If, at the end of the series (be it this year or ten years from now), Adam and Jewel don't kill themselves, I'm gonna be pissed.

    Sex and the City/Carnivàle (10:00 HBO2 | SatC TWoP | C. TWoP)
    I know they say "Sunday Is HBO," but due to conflicts I get my fix on Monday night instead. Not much to say about Sex.... I'll be sad to see it go, but I suppose it's time. For the record, Miranda is my favorite, and I want her and Steve to get back together!

    As for Carnivàle, it's gotten mixed reviews and I think it might bug me. There's this thing that's happened since Twin Peaks where shows try too hard to be "weird" and "mysterious," and wind up being too quirky for their own good. Hell, even Peaks became odd for oddity's sake at the end. But I'll watch it because I love Clea DuVall from The Faculty and the "Invisible Girl" episode of Buffy, and Michael J. Anderson, an underused actor (but then, how many roles are there out there for dwarves...dwarfs...dwarves?) best known for, well, Twin Peaks, but whom I'll always remember for his wonderful performance in Julie Taymor's short film, Fool's Fire (it's tough to find, but if you can get it, watch it!).


  • Tuesday

    24 (9:00 Fox | TWoP)
    After being blown away by the first season, I have to confess I wasn't that thrilled with last year's 24. It had been so groundbreaking with the real-time format, and so good at throwing twists I didn't see coming, and last year I felt like the writers had no idea where they were going, and as a result they kinda forgot that the whole season was supposed to happen in, y'know, one day. And then there was Kim. In the first season, her kidnapping drove the entire plot, and somebody apparently decided that Kim-in-peril was essential to the show as a whole. But they couldn't very well have her get kidnapped again, so some new, strange bad thing happened to her every week. In other words, every hour. It wasn't just Kim, there was just a lot I didn't buy. But then there was that cliffhanger, and I knew I'd be back for season three. It's also some of the best acting on television, from Kiefer Sutherland, Penny Johnson Jerald, Dennis Haysbert and Sarah Clarke. And, according to Entertainment Weekly, the producers have promised no cougars. I keep my promises; let's hope they keep theirs!

    I'm With Her (8:30 ABC)
    I don't usually pay much attention to sit-coms and almost never bother to tape them. I figure if they're good they'll be on in summer reruns, and make it to syndication. I doubt that that will happen here, so I want to check it out while it lasts because I really like Teri Polo, ever since her stint on Sports Night.

    Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (10:00 Bravo)
    I'm sure I would have watched this show eventually, because it's become such a hit and I try to be up on all things zeitgeisty, especially if they're gay. But I tuned in originally because I'd done a show with one of the Fab Five, and wanted to see him. Happy as I was for Jai to be on TV, when he told us about the show before it aired, I thought it would be terrible. Who knew it would be the megahit of the summer? I'm unapologetically hooked.

    The Joe Schmo Show (12:00 SpikeTV)
    Remember when I said I liked my reality TV trashy and a little bit mean? Well it don't get much trashier and meaner than this, an entirely fake reality show set up for the benefit of the one guy in the "cast" who thinks it's real. I actually feel a little bad for "Joe," but it's totally fun to watch the actors screw up.


  • Wednesday
    It's All Relative (8:30 ABC)
    Another sit-com I don't think will last, but I want to support the gays. It's produced by the guys who produced the Chicago movie, and that recent spate of Disney TV movies of classic musicals. It's about a white-collar girl with two dads (and I'm not talking Paul Reiser and Greg Evigan) who's in love with a blue-collar guy with straight parents. They're calling it All in the Family meets Will & Grace. I remain skeptical, but curious.

    The West Wing (9:00 NBC)
    West Wing is one of my favorite shows. I like it for a lot of reasons: It's smart, it's educational (I don't know a whole lot about politics) though it never stops being entertaining, it's a chance to see my personal fantasy administration in the White House (that can actually get kinda depressing), and it's got some of the very best acting on television. It's also got some of the sharpest writing anywhere, and it's developed a signature style, so I was nervous about what would happen to the show with creator Aaron Sorkin leaving. But the article in EW's fall preview issue is encouraging. John Wells, who's been the executive producer since the beginning, is taking over, and they say they're not planning to change much. They do plan to expand the role of Republican characters on the show, to get some more debates going. And as liberal as I am, and as much as I wish Jed Bartlett were the real President, I have to think that will make for better TV than preaching to the choir like they've been doing. So hopefully they'll keep the quality up while they're at it, and we'll all be happy. And maybe CJ can date someone who doesn't die stupidly?


  • Thursday
    Tru Calling (8:00 Fox | TWoP)
    I can't decide if I think this show will be good or not. But the thing is, I'll watch Eliza Dushku in anything. I wish it were Faith the Vampire Slayer, but I'll take what I can get.

    The O.C. (9:00 Fox | TWoP)
    Thanks to a "summer preview," I'm already totally hooked on this one. It's been called the successor to 90210 and Dawson's Creek. I'd like to say it's better written than those shows, better acted, that the actors playing teenagers are actually somewhere near being teenagers, but we all know none of these things are true. In the acting department, Adam Brody is damn good (and cute!) as the cool nerd, and I really enjoy Peter Gallagher, which is strange because I've disliked him ever since his dull-as-dirt performance in Guys and Dolls on Broadway. Guess I'll have to stop holding that grudge.

    Coupling (9:30 NBC)
    The original British version of Coupling is, in my opinion, the best sit-com ever. I have yet to see an episode I didn't like, or for that matter that didn't make me laugh out loud (to be fair, this may be helped by the fact that English seasons usually run 6-12 episodes, not the 20-24 we get in the States...but then, there've been some clunkers on HBO too). The writing is smart and smutty at the same time, and the ensemble of actors is incredibly skilled. It is, to be fair, a Friends rip-off, but they've taken the formula and made it sexier and smarter, and the characters more likable.

    This is why I am certain the American version will suck. The clips in the commercials don't inspire much hope. Which is especially odd, because they're using the exact same scripts as the UK first season. But there's something inexplicably off about it. Like the syntax is wrong. I feel like the American actors are struggling not to do British accents. It's like watching bad high school Shakespeare.

    But I'll give it a chance. I'm not one of those purists who's all don't mess with my stuff! If I like a book, I'll run to see the movie. If I liked the movie, I'm always interested to see someone else's take in a remake. So I will give Coupling a chance, if I can figure out how to deal with it being on opposite The O.C. And if it blows, I can always buy the BBC DVDs. If you're lucky enough to get BBC America, I can't recommend the original highly enough.

    Friends (8:00 NBC)
    I love Friends but never make much of a fuss over it because it'll be on in syndication forever. But I'd kinda like to see the final season as it happens.


  • Friday
    Miss Match (8:00 NBC | TWoP)
    I probably won't enjoy this show, but I like Alicia Silverstone.


  • Sunday
    Alias (9:00 ABC | TWoP)
    I don't know what to say about this show that hasn't been said better elsewhere. It's just so fucking good. Great acting, and one of the most amazingly complicated (yet comprehensible) plots ever. It always keeps me guessing, always holds my interest, and even when crazy plot twists come out of left field, I feel totally confident that J.J. Abrahms knows exactly what he's doing and it will all make perfect logical sense by season's end. Plus, I'll watch Victor Garber, Ron Rifkin and Lena Olin do anything, and Michael Vartan couldn't be yummier.

    The Lyon's Den (10:00 NBC | TWoP)
    I haven't made up my mind about this one, but I like Rob Lowe, and I like legal dramas, and it seems sort of West Wing-ish.

    Arrested Development (9:30 Fox)
    Has anyone even heard of this show? It's so under-the-radar. But Entertainment Weekly (if you haven't figured out by now, sort of my Bible) calls it the best new comedy of the season, and it sounds wonderfully weird, dark, and twisted. And Jeffrey Tambor, Portia deRossi, Jason Bateman and David Cross is a bizarre cast combination I have to tune in to see. Though it's on opposite Alias, so that may be a problem.


It may surprise you to learn that I don't watch Angel. As big a fan of Buffy as I am, I could never got into it. I watched whenever they did a crossover between the two shows, and was always disappointed. And since it's on opposite The West Wing, which so rarely disappoints, it loses. I also haven't been able to get into Smallville, though it's so clearly my demographic (kinda geeky with hot boys). Sadly, it's also really boring. I'll be avoiding Tarzan, because it looks bad but also like the sort of thing I'd get hooked on anyway and I just don't need that. There are plenty of other places to see shirtless Calvin Klein models without having to watch them try to act.

So that's my unnecessarily long post on what I'll be watching this Fall. Hyper-critical updates to follow shortly!

Friday, September 12, 2003

The post that keeps on giving

Also on the news this morning was a story about some morons who tried to steal an ATM (yes, the whole machine) from a deli that they had broken into during the night. This is dumb for many reasons, first and foremost because it makes a lot of noise, and wakes the neighbors, who then call the police.

While the deli owner said "ATM machine" in his interview, I was very pleased that the reporter did not say it once, sticking to the abbreviation alone.

But I'm over it, really. I mean, I could care less.

John Ritter, 1948-2003

I was very upset this morning, just after waking up, to hear on the radio that John Ritter had died unexpectedly last night.

I never got into Three's Company, but became a John Ritter fan more recently, mostly through his less slapsticky (and often quite dark) guest work on Buffy, Felicity, and Ally McBeal, and on Broadway in The Dinner Party. I caught a M*A*S*H rerun recently, and there was a very young Ritter as the Heartbreaking Wounded Soldier of the Week. He was very good.

I have friends who worked with him on The Dinner Party who had only wonderful things to say about him. They were impressed by his warmth, humor, and professionalism.

TV won't be the same without you.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Check it out now, the funk soul brother

According to this website, my soul is worth £26,213. At the current exchange rate that's about $41,723. Apparently, only 36% of people (and by this I assume they mean people surveyed) have a purer soul than I.

I'm really quite pleased. I thought I'd do much worse.

(Thanks to MAK, by way of K, for the link.)

Political correctness run amok

Today I got my lunch from the hibachi bar in the deli across the street.

I say "hibachi bar," because I find the term "Mongolian Barbecue," as the deli actually calls it, vaguely offensive.

Seeing as how I'm a white jew from New York and not, you know, Attilla the freakin' Hun, this doesn't really make any sense to me.

Validation In Needed Defense In Case Adam's Too Intense On Nagging peeves

Okay, lesson one for today: It's extremely hard to make an acronym out of vindication.

I got an email this morning from a friend from high school (from elementary school too, actually) who said the ATM Machine thing drives him nuts too. It's nice to know I'm not crazy. Let me rephrase that: It's nice to know I'm not alone in my craziness. I wonder if this is something they did to us in school.

No, I still think my mother is to blame, but perhaps my mom and his mom were in a cult together and never told us.

A 9/11 post that isn't really about 9/11 at all

This too is a little more personal and cheezy than I'd intended to be on here, but whatever.

In October, 2001, I moved to Sunnyside, Queens, a lovely neighborhood just across the East River from Manhattan. Before then, I never gave much thought to the skyline, having always lived in it. But now, every day, from my elevated subway ride, I get a fabulous view of the skyline. Of course I was conscious of the recently altered part of the skyline to the south, but by then (this was late October) I was much more interested in the Empire State Building. I can also see it as soon as I leave my building, right in the middle of 47th Avenue as if it isn't miles away across a river.

About a month later, I was on 34th Street on a foggy afternoon. I looked up at the building, and the top had disappeared into the clouds. But the sun was setting behind me, and had peeked out beneath the clouds, casting a golden stripe across the building's side. I wished I had a camera, and am still annoyed at myself for not thinking to run into K-Mart and get a disposable.

Thus began my minor obsession with the Empire State Building.

From the way they look on postcards I imagine this is hard to understand for anyone who hasn't spent a lot of time in Manhattan, but as big as they were, some weird quirk of geography made the Twin Towers only visible from a relatively small part of the island. And since I never spent much time downtown, the Empire State has always been my landmark of choice. With its central location, you can see it from Midtown all the way down to SoHo, and get your bearings. The Empire State is a product of its time, just as the World Trade Center was. It may lack the grace of other 30s towers like the Chrysler Building (a close second for my fave), but it has a, I dunno, strength in its art deco lines that I've always found strangely beautiful, day or night. (My clumsiness with adjectives is why I don't usually write stuff like this, but I hope you get my drift.) And that central location on the island also make its observation deck, if not the tallest, the most panoramic.

So that fall, getting to look at it every day, and I suppose thinking about how it might not be there the next day, I started taking pictures of the Empire State Building. Not obsessively, but regularly. As the seasons and the light have changed and it (thankfully) remained a constant, I've kept taking pictures, and kept looking at it every morning on my way into the City.

Here are the best of those photos to date. I am not, by any means, a professional photographer. Of course you've all seen similar or better photos of this overexposed landmark hundreds of times. But these are mine, and I want to share them. Feel free to share yours as well: E-mail pics to me and I'll gladly post them.

A note about Snapfish: If you don't have one already, you'll have to create an account to view these photos. They seem to be pretty good about not spamming, but I understand if anyone's uncomfortable with that, and I apologize, but I just don't have room to host them anywhere else.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

We think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are

It looks like I won't have time to write the post I'd planned for today, but I have a promise to keep, so here goes...

Kim Bauer walks into a bar with a cougar under one arm, and a two-foot salami under the other. The bartender says, "I guess you won't be needing a drink." Kim Bauer says, "Oh shiiiiiiiit!" as the cougar devours her.

"Man," says the cougar, "and Kiefer Sutherland thinks this was the longest day of his life? Try listening to that bitch whine for 24 hours, in real-time. I will be needing a drink, my good sir. (burp)"

Okay, that wasn't very funny, but I do try to keep my promises, and we were overdue for a Breakfast Club reference. See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

The pain has begun...

I really like Whoopi. But boy, do I hate Whoopi.

I hate it even more when I actually laugh. Because then I kinda hate myself.

Karma is on vacation

I didn't really watch it, but I followed along out of morbid curiosity, and I've just learned that the guy on For Love Or Money 2 chose the girl over the money, after she, on For Love Or Money 1, chose the money over the guy.

I'm mad at Karma.

A serious post: Read at your own risk

I debated long and hard before posting this, because it's not the sort of thing I really want to get into on this blog, which I'd like to keep light and fluffy and non-political. And also because I suspect I'll get a lot of flack for it. But ultimately I thought, what's the point of having a soapbox if you;re not going to get up on it. So if you're not looking for politics, just skip this one, and come back tomorrow for a funny post about Kim Bauer and a cougar.

So here goes...

Or actually, not. A small but very heated argument has sprung up on another blog I read (which shall remain nameless) from what began as a very innocuous 9/11-themed post. Now, I like a good argument as much as the next guy (and can even be said to have caused the one over there), but it's not what I want this blog to be about. Unless we're arguing about when Buffy jumped the shark, or how many grammatical errors trump a good bagel.

Anything about 9/11 is going to be emotionally charged, both in how we write it and how we read it. And while a blog is all about the blogger's personal opinions, after much thought (and some sage input from The Boy) I've decided to keep mine on this topic to myself this time. Because no matter how well thought-out my post was, or how kind I tried to be about it, it's bound to piss someone off, and it's ultimately too personal for this particular blog (see my mission statement at right, and my first post).

To those of you who read this post while it was up and commented on it privately, thank you. To anyone who is just joining us and is insatiably curious and would like to read the original post offline, let me know and I'll email it to you.

And to the dozen or so of you who didn't get the reference, y'all need to start watching
24!!! Kim Bauer is Kiefer Sutherland's character's daughter, and perhaps the most ridiculous moment on television last season (and I'm counting all the reality shows, and Clay Aiken claiming he's straight) was when, as the writers ran out of ways to put her in jeopardy, she was menaced by a friggin' cougar. In Los Angeles.

I may be a little somber tomorrow, given the day, but tune in on the 12th for a zany hootenanny (it's chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny).

Edited by Adam875, 9/10/03 @ 10:00 PM


M+M -- I used "zany" and hootenanny!!! Hee, can we start calling you M+M now?

Monday, September 08, 2003

Regretting my choice of title

So here's the thing: judgment is a weird-looking word. Especially if you stare at it for more than a minute or so on a bright orange background.

I really want it to have another e in it. Judgement. Doesn't that look better? Where did the e from judge go? It must be lonely and afraid.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Okay so this one time? On Frontline? (6/7/02)

I went to the gym after work today. Actually, the Y, I'm poor. It's actually relevant because there were two kids in the locker room getting ready to leave as I was coming in, and I assume they were wrapping up a day of summer camp. Kid #1 was sitting on the bench with his shirt off slowly getting the rest of his things together. I'd say he was about 10 or 11 years old, and everything he said came out like a question. We'll call him Band Camp.

Kid #2 is larger, rounder, but around the same age. "My ears are wet!" he says, sounding none too happy about it. Now, these are lower-class city kids, and maybe they've never been to camp before, but it stands to reason that one's ears would get wet in a swimming pool. Or, y'know, a SHOWER. So we'll call Kid #2 Dumbass.

It seems these two haven't known each other for long, because Band Camp says to Dumbass, "What's your favorite music?"

"Rap," says Dumbass.

"Why?" asks Band Camp.

"I dunno. Um. Because it's cool."

"Cool," Band Camp says thoughtfully. "That's the word everyone keeps using today."

Dumbass grunts.

"I was watching this documentary today?" What? "On Frontline?" What?? "On PBS?" What what what?? "They were talking about how 'cool' defines us? And how consumer culture? Is spreading internationally? And is making a new world? Not a very good one."

Dumbass grunts.

Oh, this kid! He's in for a lifetime of beatings, I think. He's also my new favorite person. I feel this pressing need to protect him from the bullies to come. And also to make him watch The Powerpuff Girls.

He lost some points a minute later when Dumbass commented on his Yankees flip-flops and he said, "I don't even like the Yankees. Or the Mets. I just got these because they look cool." Oops. Who's part of the consumer culture now??

It's easy to regain my affections though, and he did so when Dumbass called him slow and threatened to leave without him. "I've got my shirt on?" Band Camp said, still packing his bag. "That's progress? I'm just more organized than you," he said, suddenly question-mark-free. " Watch and learn from the Master of Organization."

Ah, my young padawan, you have much to learn. But on the right path you are.

Maybe if I see him again I'll slip some tape flags into his locker.

Hey you over their! What do u think your doing with those too apsotrophe's?

I suppose that since I mention it in my mission statement on the right, and since my first real post is about it, I should talk a little bit about my weird grammar hang-up, and maybe a couple of other things that piss me off, which you'll probably be reading more about soon. (About which you'll probably soon be reading more.)

I'm not actually all that bothered by bad grammar on the whole. I can watch Snoop Dogg's TV show with nary a twitch. I am, however a collection of shockingly minor pet peeves.

I understand the differences between conversational and written English, between casual and formal writing, formal writing and very formal writing, business letters and legal documents, and so on. I often don't use capital letters in e-mails, and almost never in instant messages. I use slang liberally, and have programmed my spell-checker to stop flagging fake words like gotcha, wanna and kinda.

The tone of this blog is meant to be conversational, so while I had an urge to correct the last clause of the first paragraph, I did so only for comic effect. People -- smart, educated people -- talk like that, and it isn't a national tragedy. Besides, the corrected version sounds dorky as hell.

But here's the thing: Use punctuation incorrectly and I will be on your ass faster than a drunk Boy Meets Boy contestant. The worst offender seems to be the misused apostrophe. If something is plural, it doesn't get an apostrophe. And I can't think of a language where this isn't true, so I don't know why it confuses people so much. Bagels Plus. There are multiple bagels, plus more! The "more" is implied, and since it's the name of a store that's fine. We are not talking about an anthropomorphic bagel who owns a plus sign and doesn't like to share it.

A close runner up is the quotation mark. Why do people feel the need to put things in quotes that don't belong there? Is it for emphasis? Use italics, underlining, bold, a different font, asterisks if you must, but why quotes?? I recently looked at a packet of Emergen-C and realized with horror that it contains Twelve times the "Vitamin C" and 16% of the calories of orange juice. So, what, it's fake vitamin C? It's something else you're just calling vitamin C? The hell?

One more that requires no explanation: Get your homonyms straight. There, their, they're. Your, you're. Too, two, to. Hear, Here. Its, it's (damn that apostrophe). These are words most of us learned in first grade. If you're a native speaker, there's really no excuse.

Lastly (for today), I have this bizarre problem with redundant acronyms. Or rather, people who use perfectly good acronyms and then make them redundant by adding words that are already there. For example: The M in ATM stands for machine. So when you say "ATM Machine," I think you sound really stupid. Come on, say it with me. "Automated Teller Machine Machine." See, it's dumb. The same goes for PIN Number, ISBN Number, UPC Code, and many more. This is a silly thing to get worked up about. My boyfriend hates when I correct him, and I've had to learn to get used to "ATM Machine" as it's printed on signs in the window of almost every bodega in the city.

I'm not sure how I got this way, but I feel pretty safe in blaming my mother.

Can bagels own things? (12/14/02)

In New York, one of the greatest things you can accomplish is to become a regular at a store or restaurant. It's a very small-town idea, and New York is a very large town. So it was very exciting when the woman at the bagel shop down the street from my apartment started to recognize me, then say "Salt bagel, lox spread, Diet Coke?" when I approach the counter, and finally to say, not to me but to the guy who makes the sandwiches, "Salt bagel, lox spread, Diet Coke!" as soon as I walk through the door, even if there's a line of customers ahead of me.

I'm tempted to get a toasted pumpernickel with mayo or something one morning just to fuck with her.

But seriously, the bagels are great, they're cheap, the language barrier is lower than in much of my neighborhood, and I'm a regular. There's just one problem. I recently had a conversation online with my friend Faustus about it, and since he's much funnier than I am and an even bigger grammar queen, I thought I'd just post it all:

Adam: Have I told you about my bagel place?
Faustus: No.
Faustus: Tell me.
Adam: It's called Bagel's Plus.
Adam: And I love the bagels and the people so I'm willing to overlook that apostrophe staring at me off of awnings and menus and t-shirts every time I go there.
Faustus: Well, maybe they meant it on purpose. Like "Bagel" is a god or something and this is his temple?
Adam: Maybe. But now they've reinvented themselves as "Bagel's Plus Sports Cafe," which mystifies me because they've done no remodeling and there's no sports theme and no TV...it's just a name change. Yet no one corrected the apostrophe in the process.
Faustus: That's very strange.
Adam: And it came with the new tagline: "Feel Like At Home."
Adam: i feel like i'm eating breakfast in the Sanrio store. Which is especially strange because they're not Japanese.
Faustus:Is there an accent in "Café"?
Adam: I think so.
Faustus: Okay, that's just too mixed up.
Faustus: Feel like at home, since I live at a sports café.
Faustus: An ungrammatical sports café.

Faustus had to go, so I didn't get to tell him about my favorite feature of the Bagel's Plus Sports Café, one that dates back to those simpler days of Bagel's Plus. On the big menu behind the counter, above the section with croissants and -- come to think of it, I think it's just three lines of different kinds of croissants -- is a header that reads "TASTY OF FRENCH." And I'm so wonderfully amused by this that I don't even think about how many things are wrong with it.

So the question is, how many grammatical errors trump a good bagel? Because one more and I may have to seek my breakfast elsewhere.

I can't believe I'm starting a blog. Somebody shoot me.

I don't understand the whole blog craze. I just don't have the time or inclination to basically read someone else's journal. Except maybe my little sister's. And I don't have a little sister.

The thing is, most people are boring. I'm no exception. But recently (and this has a lot to do with the fact that I've been temping), I've come across some really good ones. Some are by friends. Some are by people I wish were my friends. (All can be found among the links at right.) These people are, for the most part, no less boring than me. What they are is smart and funny. And smart and funny get you really far with me.

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, as smart and funny as any of these people. At least not as regularly. I suppose I have my moments though, and every once in a while I feel like spouting off about something that pissed me off, or made me extremely happy. Usually something that pissed me off. I like a good soapbox every now and then. I've also been temping for the past couple of months (did I mention that already?) and that soul-sucking enterprise has left me wanting a creative outlet of some kind. I've been posting a lot on the Television Without Pity forums (primarily Boy Meets Boy -- hi, guys!) and I've been getting some positive feedback, so I figured what the hell?

So here's the deal: I am not going to post every day. I am not going to post something just for the sake of posting something. Check in once a week, maybe once a month. This isn't a diary.

That said, I've been toying with the idea of doing this for a while, but my fear of sucking at it has kept me from actually posting. But I've written a few things that I'll post now, with their actual dates in the title. So I'll probably be unusually prolific for the first week or so. Don't be confused by that.

As I get better at this (assuming I actually do), I'll be adding links, tweaking the design, and hopefully changing to a better comment client.

I'm not arrogant enough to believe that more than three or four people will read this. If you're one of them, welcome! I'm so glad you care! If you don't care, well, stop reading, it makes no difference to me.

That's really the beauty of this whole blog thing. Even the most boring of us will get some kind of audience. And the extra-boring will probably stop writing when they realize they're alone. So very, very alone.

I promise I'll be less self-deprecating next time we meet. I just don't want to get anyone's hopes up.