Archive for January, 2012
I’m a nerd. There are very few ways to avoid that fact. Sure, I try to publicly disguise that fact by writing a cool pop culture blog for The Local Q. I don’t go up to complete strangers and tell them how much I love “The West Wing,” “Firefly,” “Dune,” Battlestar Galactica,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “Star Wars,” “Skyrim,” random trivia, puns or going to school. I at least try to delay the obvious fact that I am a nerd through self-restraint, maintaining an operational knowledge of sports, and (I would like to think) functional interpersonal skills.
Sadly, my days of outwardly masking my nerdhood are at an end. I have glasses now.
I’ve always been on the cusp of needing corrective eyewear, but in the past I have always opted against glasses because of the cost, inconvenience, and I didn’t want to be called “four eyes.” However, this summer when I took the basic eye exam to get my driver’s license renewed, I could barely read the letters (please, nobody tell the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles). That is when I began to realize I actually need glasses.
Now I have glasses. I like them a lot more than I imagined I would. Even though it’s a minor correction they really help my eyes. Everything is crisper and sharper looking. Plus I get complements like, “wow those really make you look smart.” I guess I didn’t look very smart before.
I guess now that I have glasses I can do dramatic things like take them off when I’m delivering important news or throw them down on the table in frustration. While this has taken some time to get used to I don’t think it will change my life considerably, aside from the mocking taunts of “four eyes,” which strangers walking down the street have started to hurl at me.
Also, I would really appreciate it if no one stole my lunch money.
I finally got caught up on AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” an all-around terrific show. I missed the first season, but I watched it on DVD. I missed the first six episodes of the second season, but I DVRed them. Now, I am all caught up and ready for the season to start again.
Being “in” on a TV series is fun. You get to look forward to weekly episodes. You can chat, speculate, and go on about each episode with your friends who are also “in” on it. There is a special kind of excitement knowing that every week you get a new slice of regularly scheduled entertainment. It’s awesome.
The only problem is that to be part of the in crowd on these shows you have to have seen it from the beginning. Picking up a show mid-season, unless it’s a sitcom or episodic drama like “Law & Order,” is very, very hard. If you are watching it by yourself, you typically have no idea what is going on. You need an “in” person to explain it to you, which means frustration for both of you. You want to know what is happening, and they just want to watch the show.
If you want to enjoy an ongoing series, it means you need to get caught up. Catching up is a process that takes time, money and commitment. Time because you are trying to compact one season — or two or three — into a normally unhealthy amount of time. Money because if you want to get to watch multiple seasons it means either buying or renting previous seasons of the show — unless you are fortunate enough to have friends who already own them. Commitment because the path to enjoying the fruits of being caught up is fraught with obstacles, peril and mortal danger. Maybe that was an exaggeration. But whether it is renting seasons, watching online episodes, DVRing, or — heaven forbid — using a VCR you will need to invest an embarrassing amount of effort into the process.
Here is an example. The Fox serial drama “24” came out in 2001. Because of its format — every hour-long episode represents one hour in a day — it is almost impossible to miss an episode and have any idea what is going on the next week.
My older brother and I started watching episodes from the first season in the summer leading into my sophomore year of high school in 2005. After purchasing four seasons (for more money than I would care to admit), recording one season every week, and 120 hours of watching Kiefer Sutherland blow stuff up and yell orders at people, I was finally able to watch one season live. It was my junior year, season six, in 2007. Then in 2008, while I anxiously awaited season seven, the writer’s strike happened. It was another year until I was able to watch more wholesome goodness of hourly televised action. By the time season seven eventually rolled around I was a freshmen in college and because of night class, I couldn’t watch the weekly shows. I tried keeping up with streaming video, but sadly I had lost the spark and stopped watching.
After all that effort I will think twice about getting caught up on a show again.
Here are some of the shows that I have gotten caught up on:
- The Walking Dead
- Game of Thrones
- The West Wing
- The Wire
Here is a list of shows (past and present) that I’d like to see but I lack the willpower to get caught up on:
- The Sopranos
- Breaking Bad
“Well it wasn’t as good as the book.”
This phrase has plagued my movie going existence for years. I like to read, and I like movies; therefore, I typically see movies that have been adapted from books. The result: disappointment.
This past Friday, I finally got to see “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” a film I have been looking forward to since this June when I read the spy novel by the same name. The book was terrific; an old-school, Cold War spy novel from the 1970s. I loved the book, and while I was reading it, I found out that it was being made into a feature film. Needless to say I was thrilled. I knew this was destined to be one of the best movies of the year. The book had everything that a blockbuster needed, yet it contained enough character development and highbrow suspense to be a commercial and critical success.
Friday, I saw the movie. (Friday was the first day it opened back home in Peoria). Now I sort of want my money back. I should clarify, the movie wasn’t that bad. It was pretty good. The pacing was slower than it needed to be, and the major plot points weren’t well signified, but on the whole, it was a pretty good movie. The problem for me was my expectations were way too high. I had been building this movie up in my head for over six months. My level of great expectations probably couldn’t have been met, at all.
Therein lays the key to the disappointment felt by fans of a book that is adapted to the silver screen. If we really liked a book, then there is an overall elevation of expectations, which are frankly unrealistic. Whether it is because of the limitations of film (time, commercial viability, or technological ability) or the nature of the written word, a film typically satisfies the unfettered expectations of an unrealistic fan, like me.
I had similar feelings for a lot of other film adaptations; however, there have been some exceptions to the overall trend. I read the “Harry Potter” books as they came out, and I devoured them, but I never really watched the movies. I saw the first when it was released and was disappointed. I kept reading the books but refused to watch the movies. Then this summer, I was convinced by my friends to watch the film series. I did and I enjoyed them. They were very entertaining, and I didn’t have that big of a problem reconciling the film with my memory with of the books.
The reason, I think, why I was so thoroughly entertained was the fact that I didn’t have insurmountable expectations to deal with, and I was able to enjoy the movies as complementary to the books, not a visual transcription of the book. This approach of restraining my nerdy expectations should be extended to other movies as well. “The Dark Knight Rises” comes out this summer. I need to start reining in my hopes of this movie being as good as I expect it to be. If I can do this, only will I be able to limit the chances of disappointment. If I can go into a movie with low expectations, then there is only room to be surprised.
Monday was very exciting for Hockey fans throughout the United States. The Philadelphia Fliers hosted the New York Rangers in what is debatably one of the NHL’s most brutal rivalries. The NHL’s annual Winter Classic, this year, was held at Philly’s Citizens Bank Park.
Earlier this year, Brendan Shanahan, veteran forward from Hartford Whalers, Detroit Red Wings and later the New York Rangers, was appointed the position Director of Player Safety. Shanahan has become the disciplinarian of the National Hockey League and has suspended many players this year for illegal blows to the head, including Raffi Torres and Jody Shelley.
Hockey has become very physical over the last decade. The players are bigger, faster and tougher. Injuries are more intense than they were. Listening to four HBO documentaries this past week gives the listener a different perspective.
On TV, you don’t hear Ranger’s coach John Tortarella drop one F bomb after the other in the locker room nor do you hear the Fliers bench taunt New York’s goalie Henrik Lundquist or the team captain Ryan Callahan about being insignificant or jeers of “Go back to the entry draft.”
Jeers can be lighthearted or not. These teams play physical. It’s not personal though. This is business. Darren McCarty said that years ago when he was playing for the Red Wings.
I think back to my little league baseball coach who used to make me run laps after games when I didn’t make big plays or hits. That’s at least the way it felt at the time. I was smaller than most kids my size and couldn’t hit nor field the ball as good as other kids my age. This was frustrating. Do I look back and respect my coach for making me run laps? No, absolutely not. I resented it then and I resent it now. He should have been working with me one on one to improve my game. He would not. Why is that important to the NHL Winter Classic?
Discipline, albeit not a good way to discipline a player unless you’re going to initiate some sort of positive reinforcement. These are elite players and many NHL players play in the Olympics nowadays. The best of the best. Six or seven years ago, these two teams were nowhere near contenders for a Stanley cup victory. Today is different. Philadelphia has forward James Van Riemsdyk and Chris Pronger. The Rangers have Marion Gaborik and Ryan Callahan.
Remember two years ago when the Chicago Blackhawks won in a surprise victory in an overtime win with Patrick Kane shooting the game winning goal in OT? The Fliers stood there in shock. The Fliers were, at the time, struggling to make the post season. After three post season rounds, clinched the Eastern conference. By the way, Chicago’s Marián Hossa is the first player in NHL history to appear in three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals with three different teams, having previously made the Final with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008 and again with the Detroit Red Wings in 2009.
Recap of the game:
Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who signed a nine-year, $51 million contract this past year, didn’t have much of a game and the was sent to the bench. Sergei Bobrovsky filled in when coach Peter Laviolette called him up but couldn’t hold an early lead front of tens of thousands of Fliers fans.
The game without Jaromir Jagr, the Fliers forward who played only a minute in the second period before leaving the game with an injury. The 39-year-old Jagr, a former Ranger, said after the game he injured his left leg and expected to return soon.
Brad Richards who was one of the summer’s top free agents (behind Rookie Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent Hopkins) is in his first season with New York. Richards scored the game winner knocking in a rebound making it 3-2 Rangers for his 14th of the season.
Its great to see the former underdog teams like these on top again!