Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Opening Day

I'll write about it at some point. Check out some of the crappy pictures I took with my cell phone over on the right.

My head is bright bright red from the massive, nuclear reactor meltdown level sunburn I got, but it was worth it.

P.S. Comcast still sucks.

Dear Comcast

Dear Comcast,

I pay you a lot of money each month. A lot. More than I should. I would greatly appreciate it if you could keep your fucking DNS servers online for more than 1 day in a row. My high speed internet becomes less useful when I have to remember the IP addresses of sites in my head. Especially since those BitTorrent porn sites keep changing IPs on me.

Your pal,
Ryan

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Some Random TV Thoughts

-Has any tv show ever peaked at such a high level, then declined to a nearly unwatchable level, only to nearly regain the heights of the original peak? That's what The West Wing has done over the past 6 years. The first 4 Sorkin-written, mushroom-fueled seasons were probably some of the best written/acted/directed television in history. Then Sorkin left, John "ER" Wells took over, and drove the show into the suck. Something happened between seasons 5 and 6, as this season has had some great episodes, great storylines, and writing that, while not Sorkin-level, at least aped the style of Sorkin that is so recognizable. I'm really looking forward to Season 7.

-Has any tv show ever peaked at such a high level, then declined to a nearly unwatchable level, add in a bunch of fantastic writing talent, only to reach mediocre levels? That's what Alias has done over the past 4 seasons. The first two seasons were great. The over-the-top missions and pseudo-science, the great great characters, and the wonderfully plotted twists. The end of season 2 left Sydney two years in the future in one of the great cliffhangers.

Then J.J. Abrams abandoned the show to work on some new stuff (like Lost) and the show just drastically changed. Gone was any of the lightness and enjoyable subplots surrounding Sydney's homelife and her friends. Replacing them was the absolutely cringe inducing, interminable relationship between Sydney and Vaughn. Season 3 wasn't bad bad--it was still at least worth watching, but it wasn't really good. J.J. Abrams preached a return to the early style. The writing staff added ex-Angel and Buffy writers Jeffrey Bell (responsible for the best episode of TV last season, the series finale of Angel) and Drew Goddard (who also wrote some fantastic Whedonverse episodes). Their work in season 4 has been good. The rest of the staff? Not so much. The success of Lost has left Alias in the lurch, though it has started getting better recently when they finally decided to introduce a multi-episode story arc. We'll see how they finish out the season. Oh, and can we please ditch the new title sequence? It blows.

-The American version of The Office has been better than I expected. I didn't really like the pilot, which was pretty much a shot-for-shot, line-for-line remake of the original British pilot. The humor was all wrong; the timing just seemed off. But the second and third mostly original episodes branched out from the British series enough to set their own tone and pace. I like it. It's not as good as the original, but that would be hard to do. But they've nailed the key to the show--those long, awkward pauses after someone says something uncomforable. The Scrubs/The Office pairing is a fantatic hour of TV.

-The only problem with the Scrubs/The Office hour is that it airs opposite Veronica Mars which is probably just below Lost as this year's best new show. Witty, well-written, well-acted, and well-plotted, UPN actually gained my respect by already renewing it for next season.

-A show that probably shouldn't be renewed for next season, at least not without a new writing staff, is Saturday Night Live. I really have loved the Tina Fey era, for the most part, but the writing simply hasn't been able to overcome the losses of folks like Molly Shannon and Will Ferrell, or even Jimmy Fallon who was extremely versatile (if incredibly smug). There just hasn't been a really stellar episode this season, or even any sketches that really stick out as extremely funny. Even the normally reliable Weekend Update has been very hit or miss. Surprisingly, Kenan Thompson (yes, of Kenan and Kel fame) has been the moderate breakout star and has been somewhat amusing. Seth Meyers, Chris Parnell and Will Forte are both very strong (ok - the real gems this season have all been Forte playing Zell Miller, which is the greatest thing since Ferrell impersonating Harry Caray).

But the writing has been just awful. I mean, really awful. It used to be that I could count on SNL for at least one really funny sketch a week, with a handful of good ones, and then one or two bad ones. Now if I get one decent sketch a week, I start to consider it the best show of the season.

There are so many good comedy writers out there. Look at the stuff getting churned out by the folks at The Daily Show with less than 24 hours notice. Look at the stuff Conan's crew churns out. I'm not an expert, but I have to imagine that there are writers who could come in and give the show something fresh.

-Speaking of Kenan Thompson, his former cohort Kel Mitchell is the co-host of Dance 360, which is now the greatest show of all time.

Head-to-head! Head-to-head! Head-to-head! Tag-your-man! Tag-your-man! Tag-your-man!

Monday, April 04, 2005

April Mix

So, I got bored and wanted to create a mix cd of stuff I've been listening to. Some of it is cheesy, but hey, you don't have to listen to it.

1. Since U Been Gone - Kelly Clarkson

For whatever reason, I really dig this song.

2. My Heart is a Ghetto - Dear Leader

Dear Leader rules. "You promised me the world, handed over Luxembourg, but it felt generous in your arms"

3. I Predict a Riot - The Kaiser Chiefs

British people are funny.

4. Thinking About You - Ivy

Ivy's a band that's hard to get into because their music is just very atmospheric. This is about as power-poppy as they get, which is cool.

5. Dead Disco - Metric

Canada rules. Fun, electro-alterna-rock.

6. Extraordinary Machine - Fiona Apple

This song and the whole Fiona album have been talked about all over the web. It's good. And a nice break after a run of very high powered songs.

7. Heavy Lifting - Ambulance LTD

The self-titled album from Ambulance LTD is a pretty good little rock album, mixing lots of different styles and sounds. This is all mashing guitars. It's good.

8. Goodnight Goodnight - Hot Hot Heat

Just because.

9. We Will Become Silhouettes - The Shins

I like The Shins version better than the original Postal Service version.

10. I Don't Care - The Roots

I'm a mid-20s white guy who listens to indie music. Of course I was going to have The Roots or Jurassic 5 on here.

11. The Dark of the Matinee - Franz Ferdinand

I think this song is either about masturbating in a theater or trying to get a girl to perform her services in a theater. Or maybe I just don't get it.

12. Beverly Hills - Weezer

Probably the worst Weezer single ever. Yet I completely love it now. Sometimes repetition works.

13. Lullaby Lucky - Kay Hanley

"I'm not your mom, I'm a fucking A-bomb"

14. Golden Touch - Razorlight

The free iTunes music samplers can come in handy.

15. Portions for Foxes - Rilo Kiley

Probably my favorite album of 2004 and my favorite song of 2004.

16. Miracle Drug - A.C. Newman

Everyone praised the crap out of this album, so I bought it. It's good, but I'm not completely enamored with it. I really should buy The New Pornographers stuff since I loved "The Rules Have Changed" single that got some airplay a couple years back.

17. Walking With a Ghost - Tegan and Sara

Another example of repetition working.

18. Memorial Day - The Perceptionists

Akrobatik and Mr. Lif representing Boston hip-hop and dropping a line like "Would Donald Rumsfeld back me up with the chrome"

19. My Love Has Gone - Josh Rouse

Josh Rouse went back to his old sound on his latest album. This is a nice, mellow song. He writes great hooks for songs that don't seem hooky.

20. TKO - Le Tigre

I just wanted to put some Le Tigre on here and this is the song I had.

21. Spitting Games - Snow Patrol

Snow Patrol has blown up since I first heard them on the soundtrack to MVP Baseball 2004. This is probably my favorite song off of the album.

22. Since U Been Gone - Ted Leo

Nice symmetry to the mix. And he busts into Maps at the end of the song when the guitar riff is stolen directly from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. So I felt smart for noticing that.

That's it. Snicker away.

Dewey's House

For the 12 of you come here to read about my wonderful thoughts on baseball, you're going to be in for a bit of a change. Jeff and Sully at The House That Dewey Built have asked me to write for them full time. As Red Sox blogs go, there's might just be the most respected. At least it was before they added me.

My wonderful little spot here will stay active, but focus more on the pop culture/tech stuff I love to write about. For instance, I'm still working on getting the Orb software to work. I've been getting mucho CDs lately and will likely post the track listing of a mix I made because I'm that big of a dork.

The baseball stuff, however, will be at Dewey's. So bookmark it or snag the RSS feed.