Thursday, May 27, 2004

Off-Season of Our Discontent

With the finales of 24 and American Idol, the TV season has pretty much come to an end. And with the new seasons of 24 and Alias not starting until 2005, this loss of new episodes is more significant than the normal season's passing.

True, the networks, particularly Fox, seem to be experimenting with running new series over the summer. Unfortunately, I have not a whit of interest in any of them. (Is it just me, or are Method & Red and The Simple Life 2 just different sides of the same coin?) And since Fox traditionally waits to premiere its Sunday-night block until after the World Series concludes, it looks like I'm only getting new episodes of Scrubs and Smallville between now and November.

There is one bright spot among this, however. Due to its efforts to end their regular seasons earlier, Fox has leftover episodes of Arrested Development and The Bernie Mac Show that it's airing next month. The season finale of AD is scheduled for June 6, and a new episode of Bernie Mac is due on June 15. Don't miss 'em.

The Star-Spangled Spectacle

One of the better performances on tonight's "American Idol" finale was Tamyra Gray's rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner. She kept the riffs to a minimum, and although the ending was blown completely in an attempt to sound diva-like, it was otherwise a great performance.

I was annoyed, however, by the audience during the song. When Tamyra held a particularly long high note (I believe it was "rockets' red glare"), the audience cheered and applauded. At the song's conclusion, the audience again roared for Tamyra. And to me, these responses, particularly the former, felt inappropriate.

In times past, when the national anthem was sung at a public event such as a baseball game, it was a communal event. One person may have led the singing, but each person in attendance would put his (or her) hand over their hearts, and join in. It didn't matter that the song is rather difficult to sing; everyone sang anyway. It created a sense of community, of nationality. It was simple patriotism, without the jingoism of slogans or the ease of merely posting a flag. It brings the audience together, if only for a moment, and reminds us that despite our differences, we're still all Americans. When I sing along with our national anthem, I can't help but smile.

But we don't have communal singing of the anthem anymore. Instead, the event trots out an individual, and the audience rises to listen to that one person sing into a microphone. It's as if the national anthem must be performed under a spotlight. (Just imagine the Pledge of Allegiance delivered the same way.) There's no sense of community to such a performance, and many people don't pay attention to the song at all. It is just one more pre-game thing to wait through. Why is it still sung at all? Inertia, I imagine. Events have simply always had it. Only now it is a moment for an individual to get attention, rather than the nation.

That is why the audience's reaction during Tamyra's performance irritated me. The Star-Spangled Banner is the preeminent hymn of our American civil religion. And hymns are not to bring glory to the performer, but to God. This is why applauding is often frowned upon in church. But last night, the audience interrupted a beautiful rendition of our hymn to America to cheer *the performer* of the song. That's not the way the anthem should be treated.

When I attend events where the anthem is sung, I still sing along, even though I'm not asked to do so. I would encourage all others to do the same. Then listen to that wealth of voices streaming from the crowd, each different but all American, and try to tell me that that sound isn't more touching than any mere soloist on the field.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Gettin' the Word Out

Joshua Claybourn, whose blog I read regularly, linked both to my campaign site and this blog today. So I'm frantically trying to fix all the coding errors on the site, and improve on some of its faults. If anyone has any tips or suggestions as to how I could improve or add to the site, please let me know.

And many thanks to Josh for the good word. I only wish my blog could be as erudite as his.

The Fox Network's Fruit Basket Turnover

Fox, opting to reject traditional network scheduling models, has announced its new year-round schedule. I watch five shows on Fox, only one of which ("The Simpsons"), actually gets treated normally.

"Malcolm in the Middle" and "Arrested Development" get juggled around Sunday, but thankfully always remain in a 1.5-hour block with Simpsons. Fox gets my gratitude for renewing AD, though.

"The Bernie Mac Show" gets shuffled between two nights and three time slots, none of which are the slots it held this past season. And it's paired with "Method & Red," which I doubt will be a terribly family-friendly companion to Mac's show.

"24" moves to Mondays, which is good for me, since I have nothing to watch that night. But following ABC's lead with "Alias," the season won't begin until January. Does it occur to network execs that maybe we like having our shows spread out over the year? It's not like they're giving us other shows worth watching. If nothing else, maybe this means that the plotting for next season will be a little tighter than these last few.

"Legally Blonde"

Since I just finished law school, it seemed like as good a time as any to watch the GenX version of "The Paper Chase," "Legally Blonde." I'd heard mostly good things about it over the past couple of years, but it mostly disappointed.

I could complain about the smaller leaps of logic in the film (e.g. first-year students assisting on a major murder defense), but I'll let those fly. And although I thought Elle's boyfriend was a jerk from the moment he dumped her, I'll let that issue go to. And while the subplot with the manicurist was mostly pointless, it didn't hurt anything.

No, my chief two problems with the film were these. First, Elle's performance on the LSAT. When we see her taking a practice test, she gets a 143. That's a pretty middle-of-the-road score. The next scene has her getting her final score, a 179. One point shy of perfect. That was some miraculous studying inbetween those scenes. And yet that score never gets mentioned again, despite all of the talk of her vapidness.

Second, Elle's performance in the courtroom is, I suppose, to illustrate her unexpected intelligence and grasp of the law. But she hardly said or did anything legal at all. She recognized a hair-care error in the witness's story (I know virtually nothing about hair, and even I saw the problem immediately), and then the witness broke down and gave an on-the-stand confession. And then everyone praises Elle for being a legal genius. If that's all it takes to be a legal icon at Harvard, maybe I should've gone there instead of staying in-state.

The film had its moments, but for legal comedies, I'll stick with "My Cousin Vinny."

Taco Bell's Canon

Taco Bell is running a contest encouraging you to "Share Your Sauce Wisdom." If you win, your words of wit could see print on one of those little Taco Bell sauce packets.

But check out the rules for entries: "The message should be short (no longer than 70 characters), simple, left of center and about the little things in life..." Left of center? I guess Taco Bell just isn't in the market for conservative quips.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

"Alias" on Hiatus

ABC has decided not to begin the fourth season of "Alias" until January 2005, opting instead to air a new show, "Desperate Housewives," in the Sunday slot in the fall. Such treatment doesn't bode well for the network's faith in the show, or its long-term prospects.

And to think that the 3-week gap between the season's penultimate and final episodes was irritating. Now we get an eight month wait after the inevitable season-ending cliffhanger. At least that will give me time to watch the first two seasons on DVD.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

DC Solicitations for August

Let's see what piques my interest for the month following the bar exam. This isn't everything I'll buy, nor am I necessarily buying everything listed,


I'm not a Devin Grayson fan, and I won't be buying any installments of the "War Games" crossover. But this, this is only 12 cents. I won't, however, be buying 100 copies, like I did with the 10-center.

Thankfully, GC's not tying into "War Games."


No "Superman Red/Superman Blue"? No "For the Man Who Has Everything"? Hmm. I haven't ever heard of some of the stories included here, although the ones I recognize are indeed good choices.


Millar's run on this title was very hit-and-miss for me. Mostly miss. I wish they were collecting Scott McCloud's run in digests, instead.


I hope they keep Van Sciver on covers instead of Turner. And I look forward to Johns' treatment of the Turtle.


I want to read this series, but at $4 an issue for 7 issues, it's a pretty steep crossover story. And while a tpb is inevitable, that's not the ideal format for a serialized murder mystery.


If I decided to take over Bob Ingersoll's role as comics' legal commentator, I suppose I'd have to add this to my list. I wonder if it would be my "Vigilante"?


Sales on this title are not strong. Please, oh please, let it survive.


It's always a good month if this is on the list.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

The Graduate

I'm through. After twenty whole years of schooling, I've finally reached the end. It's a good feeling, although frankly, I don't feel much. I suspect this lack of emotion is a combination of 1) Only having class on Mondays and Wednesdays this past semester; 2) Having been completely done with class for three weeks; 3) Having two empty months before me as I prepare for the bar exam; and 4) Not having a job yet. In other words, my life right now, and for the next couple of months, won't be much different than it's been the last few. In fact, given the lack of an internship, I'll be more free.

But at the same time, it's definitely the end of an era. I have been in school since the age of six; three if you count preschool. For as long as I can remember, my life has revolved around school for nine months a year. I don't know another life. College was just high school away from home; law school was just college with more reading. Now I'm facing a radically different lifestyle, one that won't shift every four months, and which also won't let me sleep until 9 am, and probably not until even 8. That is, once I actually have a job. Part of me feels like I should be experiencing more stress than I am. But another part of me is willing to believe that things will work out for the best in the end, and I should just be patient. So I'm taking it pretty easy for now.

There is one thing I can say that I particularly like about graduating at this time. When I'm older and refer to my graduation from the UGA Law School, I can say that I'm a member of the Class of Ought-Four. It has a nice early-twentieth-century ring to it.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Food for Thought

Tonight was my last meal on the UGA Meal Plan. For seven years, I've eaten my meals during the school year in one of the three campus dining halls. For five and a half of those years, I was on the 7-day plan. There are only a handful of people I know of who have been on the meal plan longer than I. It's actually become as aspect of my character, especially during the last two years.

Could I have eaten cheaper during those years? Certainly. But I wouldn't have eaten as well. When the food is set out before you, buffet style, it's easier to choose a diverse diet. Plus dessert with every meal. There was no preparation, and no clean-up. Given all of that, I'd say the price is a bargain.

But now I have to learn to feed myself on a regular basis. I see a lot of sandwiches, soups, and cheap microwavable meals in my immediate future.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


Michael Jackson's new attorney, Thomas Mesereau, had this to say after Jackson's arraignment last week:

“This case is about one thing only. It’s about the dignity, the integrity, the decency, the honor, the charity, the innocence and the complete vindication of a wonderful human being named Michael Jackson.”

Funny, but I count seven things there, not one. Should Jackson be worried that his lawyer can't count?

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

"24" - 9pm to 10pm

When Chappelle died, I predicted that Jack wouldn't survive this season. After tonight, I've changed my mind: Tony is going to take the eternal celestial dirt-nap. He certainly can't return to CTU after what he's done, and simply having him lose is job is undramatic. Maybe he'll die a hero, maybe Saunders will simply have him killed in some fashion. But Tony is worm food. And Michelle's probably getting scarred, at the least. If only Tony had hung up on Saunders when he called the first time, or at least refused to visit the website. If only.

I am confident, though, that the series could continue on without Kiefer. He was onscreen for relatively little of tonight's episode, but it didn't suffer for a lack of him. Granted, his presence made for some darn good moments, and his absence would leave a void that would need to be filled by a new face, but it could work.

Also, with just a few weeks left, it's nice to see some of the season's dangling plotlines finally getting tied up. The Presidential debate, Milliken's death, Sherry's manipulations; all of these seemingly forgotten subplots are finally bearing fruit. Granted, I'll be surprised if we hear any more about Chase's baby or Anne's ex-husband's suicide, but those are minor compared to the ones cited above.

Season Finales

"Scrubs" had its season finale tonight, even though it doesn't appear to have been advertised as such. (It doesn't even say so on the NBC site.)

"Friends" ends on Thursday. "Enterprise" ends tomorrow. "Arrested Development" is already over, as is "Tru Calling" and "Will & Grace." And I'm sure there are more that I'm not remembering.

(A variation on this theme is "Alias," which doesn't end for three weeks. Of course, ABC isn't airing any other episodes between now and then.)

Didn't TV seasons used to last longer into May? May is, after all, a sweeps month. I'm especially surprised by the early ending of "Friends," as I thought they would've wanted to air more than one new episode in May. What's going to fill these empty slots for the next three weeks?

At least "24" will last through the end of the month.

Monday, May 03, 2004

A Wrinkle in Time

I'm surprised I hadn't caught word of this earlier, but next Monday on ABC is a TV movie adaptation of Madeline L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time". There don't appear to be any really big names involved, so maybe that's why it hasn't generated much buzz. I can only hope that this won't be another victim of network tampering with classic material (see: NBC's "Brave New World").

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Loren of the Rings

There are now about a half dozen formal candidates for Georgia's 4th District Congressional seat. None of them, to my knowledge, have a campaign poster anything like mine:

LC for Congress Poster

Now I just need to find an appropriate place to put it on my website.

"You've Got GMail"

You are currently using 0 MB (0%) of your 1000 MB.

Isn't it great to see those last two words in your e-mail account? Google's right; if their program works, I'll never need to get a new address.