31 March 2009

Underneath It All

While thrashing around in search of a suitable topic, I recalled an exchange I've been having via email with A Proper Bostonian regarding undershirts. She mentioned that her husband's undershirts are getting old and need to be replaced.

I find that somewhat interesting, because I've always taken care of that sort of thing myself and I have a hard time imagining the Mrs. buying undershirts (or any other item of clothing, for that matter) for me. But everyone's different; APB's spouse is a busy guy, and so he's lucky to have someone to worry about such things for him.

My stance on undershirts is that I consider them to be more or less disposable, and therefore I buy them as inexpensively as possible. Same goes for underwear bottoms and socks. That doesn't mean I buy the cheapest ones I can find, because that's almost always a bad idea. Saving a couple of bucks doesn't do you any good if the things fall apart after a few washes, or shrink to child size, or stretch out too much. You need to find the right balance between thrift and value.

Most of the time, a multi-pack or two of Hanes or Fruit of the Loom T's is all you need. You can easily find these at the local department store or mega-discount emporium of your choice, and nowadays a lot of CVS and Walgreens stores carry them too. In my case that doesn't quite fill the need, because most of my undershirts are gray rather than white. As with so many other things, I have to be a bit of a contrarian about my undershirts; I do have a few white ones, but I prefer gray, and it's harder to find those in multi-packs.

For the past couple of years I've been buying them at Old Navy. For whatever reason they come in packages of only two, so I wait for sales and buy a couple of packages, adding them into the rotation and disposing of any that have gotten too ratty. But at the moment they are also selling basic T-shirts that are slightly heftier and come in an array of colors. The quality of these is surprisingly good, and are currently on sale for $5 each (regular price is $8.50, still fairly cheap), making it an excellent time to stock up. I got two in dark gray and two in a heathery cream that is typically called oatmeal. These are good colors to have when you want to wear something other than basic gray or white. They also come in black, navy, red, and a few other colors.

I take a similar approach with briefs, which I also prefer in gray. Several years back I discovered that the late, lamented Filene's was carrying something called Hanes Ultimate. Of course this was just marketing spin, but I hadn't seen them anywhere else and they were on sale, so I decided to try them out, and I liked them so much I bought several more packages. When Filene's closing was announced, I ran all over the metro area, buying up as many of the briefs as I could find in my size, and I still have five or six unopened packages tucked in a corner of the closet, so hopefully I'll be set for a few years yet.

As for socks, you get the idea: multi-packs of black, gray, and khaki athletic-type socks with extra cushioning for comfort. I have some socks in other colors, but they were bought in pretty much the same way, and in one or two cases I have another package of the same socks in reserve for when the others wear out. I wear white socks only in the summer with white sneakers, either the short ankle-high kind or the no-show kind. (I recommend the Macy's house brand, which are nice and plush, amply cushioned, made in the USA, and can sometimes be found on sale.)

Practicality, comfort, and value, with the least possible amount of fuss, are my primary motivations.

29 March 2009

This Week in Awesome (3/29/09)

Or perhaps in this instance, it's more accurate to say "awesomely bizarre": once again courtesy of The Soup Blog, we are presented with an ad for something of questionable usefulness... but who am I to decide such things? Watch the clip (approx. 1:30) and make up your own mind.

Also, this week's episode of 30 Rock was completely jammed with laughs, and was perhaps their funniest episode yet. The only problem with that? It sets the bar awfully high. I couldn't single out just one clip, so you can watch the whole episode here, if you're so inclined.

26 March 2009


Ha! You probably thought I was going to talk about the basketball tournament. Screw that noise, because I couldn't care less. When I heard that some of the games were going to be played here in Boston, my first thought was, "Great, traffic and crowds--stay away from the Garden this weekend." Now that might seem harsh, but there's no point in being dishonest about it: basketball just doesn't interest me.

The brackets I'm referring to are the ones the dentist put on my teeth six weeks ago. For the most part things have been fine, except for two that refuse to stay attached. I went back the day after they were first put on to have them redone, and they came right off again. I went back the following week, and that time they lasted three days. After that I didn't even bother calling or going back; I decided I'd just wait until this week's visit, the main purpose of which was to change the wire to a slightly thicker one.

I thought eating was causing the brackets to dislodge, but the dentist said he could see that the adhesive was still on my teeth, so the failure was between the adhesive and the brackets. On my way home from his office on the T, approximately 30 minutes later, I felt one of the troublemakers pop off, and the other one did the same thing about an hour later. So I've dutifully put in the call to the office, and I'll probably have to go back in a couple of days. Fortunately the office is only a 20-minute walk from where I work.

Otherwise, the braces are doing what they are supposed to do. He compared my teeth to the models he had made before the braces went on, and said that my upper bite has widened slightly more than 1.5 millimeters in the past six weeks, which is right on target for expected progress. It might seem hard to believe, but I can feel the difference, and my sister, who works for a dentist, said that she thought she could see a slight difference. In six more weeks the lower braces will go on, and I'll have another progress report.

24 March 2009

Back to Work

Well, the Mrs. is going back to work this week. She found herself a real job again, almost a year and a half after quitting her previous one due to dissatisfaction, stress, and all those other things that tend to make people want to quit jobs. She's been home the past two months after finishing a five-month temp job, so having a steady income again will be welcome.

Of course, given the state of the economy some compromise was inevitable, and she will be making significantly less money than before, but it's full-time work in her chosen field, work that has meaning for her and helps others, and an opportunity for her to gain valuable experience in a more administrative role.

In any situation like this, it takes a week or two to adjust to having to get up and successfully execute a morning routine after an extended period of leisure. But I think the dog is going to have to undergo the biggest adjustment: her favored person has been home with her nearly every day, and now she's abruptly going to be left alone for most of each day. She spends most of that time asleep, so it's not quite as traumatic as it might seem.

21 March 2009

This Week in Awesome (3/21/09)

Last weekend we were away, so I didn't have a chance to post another edition of This Week in Awesome, but I think this will make up for it.

This is kind of the mash-up to end all mash-ups. This guy who goes by Kutiman collected a bunch of YouTube videos of people playing instruments, and edited them into songs. It must have been a lot of work, but the results sure are impressive. I really hope some record company executive has the sense to sign Kutiman to a contract.

So, I hope you enjoy ThruYou.

18 March 2009

Maybe Next Time...

One thing the Mrs. and I share is a love of sweets, treats, and goodies. We have been known to structure a Saturday around a trip to the Flour Bakery down near the waterfront, or to Lyndell's in Ball Square.

We've heard from several people that we have to try the cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich Village. On our visit last summer we attempted to do so, only to find the line out the door, around the corner, and a good way down the block. It was around 8:30 on a Saturday evening in June, so it was definitely prime post-dinner walk-around-and-get-a-cupcake time, and we probably should have known better.

This time we decided to try again on Sunday evening, hoping the place wouldn't be quite so mobbed, and we did in fact make it in the door, but just barely. Just ahead of us there was a cluster of maybe five mewly, bratty kids squirming around with a couple of bored-looking downtown moms. Then I noticed that the trays of cupcakes were set out in the window, the idea being that you're supposed to make your selections and then wait to pay. I started thinking about how many of the cupcakes those kids might have touched, and suddenly I didn't want a cupcake anymore.

16 March 2009

Overheard: Available Only with a Prescription Edition

We just got back from a few days in New York, and while we always enjoy the people-watching, we also enjoy people-listening. It amazes me what people say when they don't realize (or care) anyone else is listening. I think it's partly because so much of our communication today takes place on cell phones, and it's kind of an automatic tendency to raise one's voice, especially when talking outdoors, in an effort to be heard.

Saturday night at a restaurant in Tribeca, we were treated to two young ladies discussing all sorts of things about their families and significant others. They were sitting two tables away, but the restaurant wasn't too busy and we could hear just about everything they said (which the Mrs. likes to refer to as "dinner and a show"). Just as we were getting up to leave, one said, about her live-in boyfriend, "He only takes them once in a while, so it's not like they're habit-forming. And besides, he writes so much better when he's on Ambien."

12 March 2009

Good Shows, Bad Networks, Part 4: A New Hope?

Well, I guess I got a little carried away. I didn't intend to go on so long about this stuff; it started as a simple post about the cancellation of a TV show I like, but the ideas kept coming and I had to divide it up. This is it (for now)...

The broadcast networks need to stop looking at each pilot as the next potential number one hit show, and expect it to be so five minutes after the show hits the air. Statistically it isn't going to happen, and often the shows that end up becoming hits don't look like hits early on. Now-revered shows like Seinfeld, The X-Files, Everybody Loves Raymond, and even CSI took a year or more to really catch on with viewers.

While they're at it, the broadcast networks also need to acknowledge that too many shows outstay their welcome. ER is finally going off the air in about a month, after how many seasons? 15! (I had to go look that up, as I stopped watching it years ago.) From what I've read, the critical consensus is that the show should have concluded four or five seasons ago, but like Detroit's automakers, NBC didn't have a plan for the future; instead of investing in finding another tent-pole drama to supplant ER as the big draw on Thursdays, they chose to milk as many seasons out of the show as they could. What now, NBC? What if you had been willing to end ER in 2004 and start airing Lost on Thursdays at 10 PM instead? The two shows draw about the same number of viewers these days, but which one has had more buzz over the past five years?

I became a fan of The X-Files as soon as I made its acquaintance in the fall of 1993, but even as a fan of the show who stuck with it all the way to the end, I feel it stayed on the air probably two seasons too long (Doggett and Reyes just weren't the same as Mulder and Scully), and when it finally ended I think most fans were relieved. Last year's poorly-received and poorly-reviewed movie indicated that the franchise has probably run out of gas, which is sad, because I'd like to think that an entity as special as The X-Files was at its peak could sustain itself in some form for a while longer.

For a long time British TV networks have developed limited-run, closed-end shows developed to play out over the course of a couple of seasons. This approach to programming gives show creators a framework on which to build a story with a beginning, middle, and end (the original UK versions of The Office and Life On Mars ran this way). Another BBC template is to introduce a central character or set of characters in a movie- or miniseries-length program like Prime Suspect and revisit those characters every year or two. CBS is currently doing this with a series of movies featuring Robert Parker's small-town sheriff Jesse Stone. The reviews are positive, and the fans look forward to each new installment.

Speaking of Lost, it started out as a show without a known end date, but during its third season in 2006-7, its creators took the unusual step of announcing that they had a plan to end the show after three more seasons. They were justifiably afraid that the onus of stringing the many strands of its extremely complex plot through an unknown number of additional seasons would weaken the show creatively; indeed, some argue that the show did weaken creatively during that third season and that's precisely what brought them to their decision.

Lost's creators also opted for shorter seasons that would run uninterrupted each winter and spring, which allowed the storytelling to thrive without the inevitable gaps necessitated by spreading out the episodes over a full eight-month season. So not only do the fans get more sustained doses of their beloved show, but they know that their investment is going to pay off by the spring of 2010, when the show is set to conclude. And let's give credit (for a change) to ABC for airing Lost in the first place, but more importantly, for agreeing that these were the right creative choices for the show.

Miniseries flourished in the 1970s, and there's no reason they couldn't do so again. CBS (again, hmm) has a self-contained program starting in April. Harper's Island is being billed as a 13-week "mystery event." It's basically Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None updated to the 21st century: a group of guests arrives on an island for a wedding, and soon the bodies start to pile up. Knowing the story has a finite structure makes me much more likely to watch it, because I know I won't have to wait more than a couple of months for the answers.

I think the approach to advertising and sponsorship needs to change as well. People have been skipping commercials since VCRs came into common use 20-some years ago to record programs to watch later. You can even program a button on your TiVo remote to skip ahead 30 seconds each time you push it. The networks' response to this is to try to develop ads that show up on top of the program being fast-forwarded and that cannot be avoided or turned off. This is exactly the wrong thing to do, as it's likely to alienate viewers further. Another network response, stepped-up product placement, can be even more bothersome, as arguably more viewers have experienced it than have a mandatory fast-forward ad. Personally I hate product placement, mainly because it always feels phony and it breaks the suspension of disbelief.

Fox is experimenting this season with two shows, Fringe and Dollhouse, that have shorter "pods" (the network term for commercial breaks). When the show goes to commercial, the screen says "(show name) will be back in 60 (or 90) seconds." Two or three commercials air, and then it's back to the action. Even if you use a DVR, this is more palatable because there's the added benefit that you get more show, about seven or eight minutes' more program than on a typical one-hour show. Naturally, FOX is charging more for the ads in these shows; they are telling their advertisers that viewers are more likely to remember ads when there are only two or three in a pod. Who knows if that's true, but I suppose it could be; more importantly, I give them credit for being willing to try a different approach.

Another related idea that I think deserves some consideration is to revisit the concept of single-advertiser sponsorships of programs, like in the 1950s. Some of the NBNs have used such sponsorships to present commercial-free season premieres of anticipated shows. I think this works best when it's presented as a sort of badge of prestige, i.e. only the better-quality programs are deserving of such an arrangement. I'm in favor of this sort of sponsorship, as long as the sponsor doesn't get any undue control of program content.

Either the threshold of expectations must be lowered, fundamental ideas about how to program need to be altered, or the Big Four should just stop bothering with new shows, because they appear to be unwilling to give them a chance to develop an audience. Ironically, ABC (the network I was directing my initial anger at) seems to have more new shows on tap for this spring than any other network, but I doubt I'm going to watch any of them.

Jingle Mind Control

I'm feeling oddly drawn to that strange song in the McDonald's Filet-O-Fish commercial. It's irrational, I know, but I kind of like it. And I'm not alone; the traffic guy and the weather guy on NECN busted out singing it this morning. It's insidious...

09 March 2009

Good Shows, Bad Networks, Part 3: Rebuilding the Beast

But wait, there's more... I could probably keep going like this for a week or so, but I want to pull back a bit and (at the risk of getting carried away) look at the bigger picture and, instead of just complaining, offer some ideas. If the broadcast networks hope to remain even slightly relevant in the future of TV, they need to examine how their competition is doing things, and how that compares to how they have been doing things for decades.

Many of the non-broadcast channels (i.e. anything that isn't ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, or CW) are producing top-quality programming, and not just pay channels like HBO and Showtime: FX, TNT, TBS, USA, SciFi, AMC, even ABC Family are following the path of the pay channels and are now in the original-programming game for real. They have reached a point where the quality, variety, and year-round scheduling of the shows they are producing represent a real threat to the hegemony of the old guard.

I don't feel any special allegiance to the traditional broadcast networks. It makes no difference to me what network a program airs on; if I like the show, I'm going to watch. In fact, NBNs (non-broadcast networks) understand that their audiences are inherently smaller due to their somewhat more limited availability, so they have lower expectations and are more likely to give promising shows the time needed to develop and flourish, in addition to having fewer restrictions on content. Many TV writers and producers now feel their ideas are better served by NBNs.

The "big four" networks are no longer quite as big as they used to be. (Merging the WB and UPN into the CW may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it's never going to amount to more than an also-ran so I don't count it as one of them.) The majority of Americans have cable, satellite, or fiber coming into their homes, and many shows (though not all) can be watched online as well. In fact, if you really set your mind to it, and are willing to accept being a little behind on the watercooler talk, a Netflix subscription and a broadband internet connection can provide you with a happy, satisfying TV existence without watching TV on TV at all. That really scares the crap out of the networks.

The networks need to acknowledge that the television landscape has changed irrevocably over the past decade or so and, to appropriate a well-used phrase, ten million is the new 20 million (viewers). The days of a top-rated hit show consistently drawing 20, 22, 25 million viewers a week each week are long gone, simply because the television landscape is now far more fractured. The most popular scripted programs on broadcast TV are currently averaging around 18 mIllion viewers per week, and even that is more of the exception these days. (Even that singing show is down in the ratings this year.)

So, let's play armchair network exec: what to do? First of all, the notion of a season that is eight months long (roughly mid-September to mid-May) but only has 22 weeks of new, original programming is as dead as Chuckles the Clown and needs to be discarded. The corollary, that a season must be 22 episodes long, is also past retirement age.

Back in the 1970s, the three broadcast networks had what amounted to a captive audience, making it possible to sustain viewer interest over the course of an entire season, plus shows tended to produce more episodes in a given season, meaning fewer weeks when repeats were needed. Today there is plenty of programming available elsewhere, and NBNs offer fresh programming year-round, so broadcast networks dumping a stinking pile of juvenile, insulting reality shows on viewers each summer is not going remain tenable as any kind of long-term strategy.

For most of its seven-season run, The Shield aired its new episodes January through March or March through May. And when summer rolls around, I look forward to new seasons of The Closer, Burn Notice, Mad Men, and now Leverage, which just completed its first season on TNT and will begin its second season this summer. These are not deeply intellectual shows (well, you could make the argument that Mad Men is at least thought-provoking) but all of them have two things in common, besides being highly entertaining: they all air on NBNs, and their seasons range from 13 to 16 episodes, which tend to run uninterrupted.

But not always. USA started the "split season" a few years back with Monk, and now uses it on most of its original shows; Burn Notice (also on USA) and The Closer (on TNT) did the same thing this past season. Basically, the season starts in the summer and goes for X number of weeks, then picks up again in the winter for another batch of episodes that concludes the season. I'm not a fan of this approach, but it does have some merit. Even if the season is conceived to run this way, I think it breaks the momentum of the major story arcs. On the other hand, waiting nine months between the end of one season and the start of the next is worse, and this way TNT can remind viewers that "The Closer will be back in June," which is now less than three months away.

07 March 2009

This Week in Awesome

Time for some fun... these are the three four most awesome (unrelated, but still fun) things I've seen this week:

4. Sneaking in just under the wire, this is not your everyday limo. (Jalopnik)

3. The uniforms for these pizzeria employees in San Francisco are the most brilliant bit of snark I've seen in ages. (Consumerist)

2. This TV station in Cincinnati has an interesting approach to morning traffic reports. Just click and you'll see, and be sure to watch all the way to the end (the clip is only two minutes long), when the anchor delivers a pretty good punch line of sorts. (The Soup Blog) This was going to be number one until I saw...

1. ...Jon Stewart rip CNBC about a dozen new assholes on Wednesday's Daily Show. This one runs eight and half minutes, but it's so glorious you have to watch it.

06 March 2009

Good Shows, Bad Networks, Part 2: Vampires and Swingers

No, I'm not done griping about TV yet. On Wednesday I singled out ABC for its recent record of puzzling/annoying/stupid programming decisions, but ABC is certainly not the only network guilty of handling shows poorly.

CBS's vampire drama Moonlight started promisingly in the fall of 2007. It came back after the writers' strike and completed 16 episodes. CBS held off on a renewal announcement, and for a while things were looking hopeful, but then yoink! Was there closure to the story lines? I'm not sure, because at the time I wasn't watching, but SciFi is kindly running the whole season in order this winter, on Friday nights at 9 PM (not so coincidentally, its time slot when it was on CBS). It's no Buffy, but I'm liking the show (with the exception of the reporter character, who's really annoying) and wishing I'd watched it the first time around. My mother did, and although our TV tastes are considerably different, I should have listened to her on this one.

For a while there were whispers that another network would acquire rights to the show and produce new episodes. SciFi was most frequently mentioned, but nothing came of it. Once again, I find myself wishing a network had been willing to show enough respect for its fans to just let a show be. For one thing, Friday at 9 isn't exactly a super-competitive time slot these days. Since it's Friday, let's take a little detour over to the TV Guide web site and see what's playing tonight at 9, shall we? (Keep in mind the sort of folks who are likely to be at home on a Friday night.)

Our friends at ABC have two hours of 20/20, featuring Siegfried and Roy's reunion/farewell performance (well, um, there's really nothing I can add to that); on NBC there's a new episode of Friday Night Lights (the show has been critically lauded from the beginning, but I have never been able to muster an ounce of interest in watching it); Fox has Buffy/Angel/Firefly auteur Joss Whedon's new scifiish-actionish series Dollhouse, which is still sorting itself out (only three episodes have aired); CW has two hours of America's Next Top Model (zzzzzz....); and over on CBS, in Moonlight's old slot, is Flashpoint, a Canadian import about a critical-incident/hostage-rescue team that I've seen about five minutes of (it reminded me of the old show S.W.A.T. that was on briefly when I was a kid, but I guess it kind of matches up well in terms of potential audience with Numbers, which follows it at 10 PM).

I should also point out that Flashpoint was not the show CBS originally had in mind to fill this slot after canceling Moonlight. That distinction went to The Ex List, an Americanized version of an Israeli show about a woman who is told by a fortune teller that a man from her past, someone she has already dated, is her soul mate and future husband, and that she has one year to figure out which ex was the one or she will never find true love. CBS had high hopes for this one, looking to draw female viewers with complementary programming that would match up well with Ghost Whisperer, which led into it at 8 PM, but it lasted for only four episodes back in the fall before they pulled the plug and all the Moonlight fans went, "Dudes, you canceled our show for that? Lame."

Flashpoint was a summer show that CBS acquired (relatively) cheaply through a production partnership with a Canadian network. I don't know whether or not they expected it to become part of the regular-season schedule, but after The Ex List tanked CBS had a hole to fill. A lot of times a network will fill such spaces in its schedule with reruns of its other hit shows. (that's pretty much what's happening on all the broadcast networks on Saturday nights these days) and that's what CBS did for a short time. I imagine they were already thinking about bringing Flashpoint back, and just moved up its return so they could charge more for the ad time (ads in reruns are cheaper, and therefore bring a network less revenue).

Which brings me to Swingtown, another 2008 summer show and recent CBS casualty. I liked Swingtown, a serious, adult show about changing social and sexual attitudes in the mid-1970s, and I blame Flashpoint for Swingtown's cancellation. Both shows started around the same time last summer, Swingtown on Thursdays in the 10 PM slot after reruns of CSI, while Flashpoint was put on Fridays, borrowing the Numbers slot. But after a few weeks, Flashpoint was drawing much better ratings than Swingtown, which was expected to draw better numbers because CSI tends to repeat well and they figured people would just stick around for something that wasn't a repeat.

CBS then flipped the two shows' time slots--Flashpoint to Thursdays, Swingtown to Fridays--thereby pretty much guaranteeing Swingtown's ratings would get even worse, which of course they did. At least CBS aired all 13 produced episodes. Then, as with Moonlight, there were months of speculation as to whether the show would return, or perhaps might find a home on another network. Maybe its provocative themes scared off some viewers; maybe it belonged on a non-broadcast network where it wouldn't be subject to FCC rules and could explore those themes more provocatively.

In January, CBS officially announced that Swingtown would not be returning anywhere, though Bravo bought the rights to rerun the episodes. So CBS gets a show that draws decent ratings in the time slot, but it's about the most generic show imaginable. And even though I didn't need another reason not to watch Flashpoint, I got one anyway.

04 March 2009

Good Shows, Bad Networks: Another One Bites the Dust

ABC has announced the (inevitable) cancellation of Life On Mars. It was one of the more intriguing TV show premises to come along (even if it was a copy of the British show of the same name), and I have definitely been enjoying it: a New York detective gets hit by a car in 2008 and wakes up in 1973, where he finds himself still in New York and still a detective. Good writing, great cast, and a nostalgic, authentic look to the show thanks to New York location shooting.

Supposedly the show's creators will be able to craft an ending to the show that hopefully will resolve Sam Tyler's time-travel mystery. Forgive me for being skeptical, but ABC hasn't had a good track record with canceled shows recently: Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone. And if you go back a couple of years, ABC also mistreated The Nine and, worse, allowed Invasion to run for a whole season that ended with multiple cliffhangers, then didn't renew it (which, now that I think about it, was certainly a foreshadowing of the current mess).

After their strike-shortened first seasons in the fall of 2007, ABC made a big deal about bringing back Pushing Daisies (which I loved) and Dirty Sexy Money (didn't watch it, but I know others enjoyed its juicy soapiness). Then both shows were yanked off the air a couple of months into this season, along with Eli Stone, which premiered last spring, found a modest audience, and was also renewed. Later ABC announced that all three of these shows had been canceled.

That was about three months ago, though in mid-January ABC did announce that the shows would return this summer to, in the charming parlance of the TV business, "burn off" their remaining episodes. Daisies creator Bryan Fuller, who has gone back to Heroes (where he worked during its first season) to try to resuscitate its recent lackluster performance, was quoted as saying that Daisies' major story lines, which will mostly still be unresolved by the end of the completed episodes, would eventually be concluded in a comic book.

A comic book? Wow, thanks Bryan. That's exactly what I was looking forward to. Look, I know ABC hasn't treated your show and the others the way it should have, but as much as I love Pushing Daisies, I have zero interest in tracking down a comic book. However, if you or the network were to make this comic available to read on the web, say via a Flash player, then I might make the effort to read the end of the story.

But Bryan Fuller isn't really the one to blame here, ABC is. Why go to the trouble of renewing these shows in the first place, only to then cut them off at the knees and then make things worse by mistreating the loyal fans looking for an ending? If a show really bombs and is canceled four or five episodes into its first season, that's one thing, but if a network allows a show a full season, it owes to viewers and producers alike the opportunity for closure, which simply means, if you're not going to invite 'em back, at least have the decency to make the decision known in enough time so the show can provide some answers to the viewers... which isn't going to happen with Pushing Daisies.

As I wrote in a comment in the Boston Globe's TV blog, "It's getting to the point where I will have to think twice about getting invested in a new show if it's going to air on ABC... Memo to ABC: Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives are already past their freshness dates, and eventually, people are going to get tired of the dancing and the nanny and the bachelors and bachelorettes. What will you do then?"

03 March 2009

Winter Ain't Over

Yesterday turned out to be more of a snow day than I expected. I knew I would have to shovel us out before heading to work, so I emailed my boss Sunday night to say that I expected to be in the office by late morning. But I didn't finish shoveling until almost noon, and I probably wouldn't have made it to work until 1:30 or so. At that point it seemed not worth the trouble, so I ended up taking a personal day. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching stuff off the TiVo and generally doing nothing, which is what a snow day should be.

After it almost hit 60 last Friday, I wanted winter to be over as much as anyone else. I wanted to believe it was over, but I knew it wasn't. On February 11th I said in an email to a friend, "I'm sure we're going to get at least one more snow storm." Because that's just how things go around here. I'm not ready to put away the shovels yet.

Yesterday's storm left about nine inches at our house, putting us somewhere north of five feet so far this winter, which doesn't come close to comparing with the winter of 1995-96, when we got a total of over eight feet of snow through the entire winter. At least this time the snow had a chance to melt before we got hit again, though in our back yard and on the curbs in front of the house, it just finished doing so on Friday, just in time to start over again.

Back in '96 on our little dead-end street in Somerville, we literally ran out of places to put the snow because it just kept coming, storm after storm, until we ended up throwing some of it over the fence into the back yard of a house on an adjacent street that backed up against our place. Those neighbors weren't too happy about that, which was kind of ridiculous given the circumstances. And they weren't exactly ideal neighbors themselves; these were the same people that would do yard work starting at around 7:30 AM on Saturdays in the summer, inevitably waking us up with either their constant bickering or the growl of their lawn mower.

Anyway, it's supposed to get up into the 40s by Saturday, so maybe this batch of snow will melt a little quicker. The Mrs. and I are heading to New York for a few days on the 13th, and we're really hoping the weather isn't sucky. We went in March back in 2002, and aside from being cold it was all right. Another storm would seriously spoil the fun.