Category Archives: television

“The Office” Rules

Jared, the kid, and Ricky show their Office alter egos.

Jared, the kid, and Ricky show their “Office” alter egos at last Saturday’s Senior Serve.

Three years ago when it was our older son’s turn to participate in his high school’s Project Graduation dinner and silent auction (aka Senior Serve), he had utterly no interest.

The sign is held up by paper clips!

The sign is held up by paper clips!

Fortunately, his little bro bought into the concept and had two of his besties, Jared and Ricky, on board. The seniors think up themes for their tables and then do their best (with a lot of their parents’ help, of course) to carry them out with decorations and costumes. At first, the boys wanted to do Beowulf.

Why? Why not!

Jared’s mom, Mary, borrowed her work’s office supplies.

Even the tablecloth is paper.

Fortunately, they came to their senses after realizing how hard that would be to pull off. Thus came Plan B: “The Office,” which is one our favorite TV shows (well, the early seasons when it was funny).

The table’s centerpiece was reams of copy paper and a dead laptop.

The table’s centerpiece was reams of copy paper and a dead laptop.

My younger son quickly decided to be Michael Scott, the character he likes best. Ricky was tabbed as Dwight Schrute, because sometimes he wears glasses. That left Jared to be Jim Halpert, who he definitely favors with his lankiness and laid-back style.

A novel idea for a tip jar!

Cool beans: A novel idea for a tip jar!

The boys practiced a couple skits to perform so they could earn tips (which go into the ProGrad coffers). We set up a mini desk (a card table) for them to use complete with official-looking phones and our three office chairs. On game day (aka last Saturday night), they were ready to go and highly amusing.

Sidebar: For me, the best part of the process was bonding with the other moms, Julie (Ricky) and Mary (Jared). We had a blast brainstorming ideas with and without our sons and then helping them make these special memories.

Our cake had a lovely presentation.

Our cake had a lovely presentation, thanks to Mary.

The kid made a credible Michael Scott (despite his lighter hair color), complete with a faux suit (a new-looking blazer we bought at Goodwill for a mere $15), World’s Best Boss mug, and a wristband that read “Support the Rabid.” He, his buds, and the parents had a great time at the event, which featured a lot of other wonderful themes, including the Bachelor, Duck Dynasty, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and even a carnival.

I’m sure it was tough for the judges to pick the three top tables, which won a bunch of the coveted Bulldog Bucks that the kids use to buy prizes at the June 8th ProGrad.

Katherine, Kristen, and Brittany are coming up roses!

Katherine, Kristen, and Brittany are coming up roses!

In the end, though, the table next to us, Garden Party, won as best theme. It smelled as good as it looked!

Too bad there wasn’t a prize for the table that had the most fun with the cutest guys. Ours would’ve won that hands down!

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What’s In a Name?

Do you remember the name of Pamela Anderson’s character on “Baywatch”?

This weekend when the Mister, the kid, and I were dining at Buffalo Wild Wings, a trivia question was posed:

What was the name of Pamela Anderson’s character on the TV show “Baywatch”? After successfully answering several questions prior to this one (such as what fish is lox made from . . . most Jews know that it’s salmon, duh!), I had to bow out, because I had never watched the program.

The Mister, who had seen “Baywatch” a time or two, but obviously not because of an interest in David Hasselhoff, thought he had her name on the proverbial tip of his tongue.

“I think it’s a boy’s name,” he said. “I think it starts with the letter ‘C’.”

Imagine how much we laughed when the answer finally was given:

Our very own bathing beauty

C.J.! Which is the kid’s name.

And he’s definitely a boy . . . although at first a certain portrait studio didn’t think so.

Not Ready for Prime Time Players

My younger son shows off his mad skills for Bobby and the camera.

We’re pretty much down-to-earth people in our household. We don’t seek out the spotlight. Some might even call us humdrum, even if they’ve never heard us hum or drum (which is a shame, because we’re all pretty good at both of them).

Marcus’ pretty putt is captured digitally.

But when our pal Marcus told the Mister and the kid that they could help him hype their favorite sport of disc golf on TV, they started singing a different tune. One called “Celebrity.”

Bobby gets up close with the disc and basket.

We took the limo Honda Odyssey to Missouri City’s Community Park disc golf course, ready, willing, and able to help. I came along to document the event, using two Nikon lenses with my Nikon D700: My 24-70mm for wide-angle shots and my 105 for close-ups. This photo scout was well-prepared for a change!

Steve sails a putter towards the basket.

As the guys played and I snapped away on a beautiful Saturday, Bobby, the big-shot TV producer, videoed the action. It was a fun nine-hole round filled with the usual friendship, teasing, and awesome play by Marcus.

Marcus sinks a putt.

Bobby made a great decision in using Marcus and Eric to explain how disc golf works and to describe the play during the round. The former is a witty, brainy Rice University grad who can make the complicated seem easy, and the easy seem complicated.

Bobby films one of Eric’s short putts.

Eric, another funny and smart guy, brings an engineering bent to his conversational approach. He also might have a future in disc golf play-by-play commentary . . . assuming he likes not making any money. I’ll bet Bobby had fun editing the video.

The Mister shows off his style.

Speaking of which, we all can’t wait to watch the Disc Golfers Gone Wild in Mo City (or whatever it’ll be called) on TV. Should you be looking for it on ESPN (or ESPN–DG)?

Actually, online public access in the form of Missouri City TV is its final destination. But major channel or YouTube, it’ll be fun to watch local disc golf.

I’m just glad that my guys were there to help drum up support!

“Glee”ful Decluttering

Some of what I was supposed to be working on.

While the Mister and our younger son were in Rochester, New York, last week for the Amateur World Disc Golf Championships, I had one main goal: Finish decluttering that son’s bedroom.

We finally got rid of the too-tall captain’s twin bed that he and everyone who slept on it hated, opting for a Tempur-Pedic full-size mattress set. My #2 son suffers from insomnia, so we hoped the better bed would help extend his 40 winks (and it has!). But that meant we had to get all the junk out of his room so we could fit in the bigger furniture.

When they left, I only had a few more boxes to look through. I so wanted our little big guy to come home to a more-peaceful sleeping environment.

Where have you been all my life?

Instead, I became a Gleek. Am I late to the party as usual?

The addiction started innocently enough, as it usually does. With Netflix raising its prices, I wanted to see if it would be worthwhile to keep the streaming part of the service (I already knew we liked getting DVDs in the mail). Last Friday afternoon I fired up the Apple TV and looked for something to watch. What should pop up as a possibility? “Glee.”

I had seen one episode on Fox but never got hooked on the series, probably because it airs at the same time as other shows we like to watch. And even though I loved “High School Musical,” I wasn’t sure that I wanted to invest time in a Disney wannabe.

“Glee’s” cast features nice diversity.

I’m sure glad I pushed those apprehensions off to the side. “Glee” rocks! I like how the songs fit so well with each show’s theme. It was easy to get fully invested in the characters. I also enjoyed most of the song covers; the cast is full of great singers. However, there is a little too much of that Auto-Tuning going on. I wonder if that device would make even me sound good! Probably not.

“Glee” made me think back to when I was in high school; timely thoughts considering that my reunion is looming next month. I could relate when Finn said, “We’re all freaks . . . but we’re all freaks together.” As a full-fledged dork way back when, I can truly identify with some of the things the “Glee” kids experience.

My favorite show was the final one when the kids sang “To Sir With Love” to Mr. Shuester, and he reciprocated with one of my all-time favorite songs, “Over the Rainbow.” I had tear stains on my Old Navy shirt!

Netflix is a great way to catch up on a season’s worth of TV shows (in this case, 22 episodes). There are no commercials to disturb the flow. It doesn’t take long to get through a season.

But Netflix does make it easy to just sit on the couch, glued to the big-screen Samsung. I endured a marathon session over two and a half days, finally finishing the first season with enough time to complete the decluttering before my older son and I picked up our weary travelers at the airport yesterday afternoon.

Now to start watching season two!

Surviving “Survivor” Minus One

The start of a new “Survivor” season in Nicaragua

“Survivor” started its 21st season last night. As I’ve written before here, here, and here, we’re huge fans of this CBS reality show and have watched every season together as a family.

As usual, I’ve been looking forward to this edition, which is set in Nicaragua, a country whose name I can’t pronounce. However, one thing has put a damper on my enthusiasm (besides the pronunciation problem): For the first time ever, only three of us are watching “Survivor” together.

My #1 son is at college, and I definitely missed his quips and wicked sense of humor last night as we observed the old (ages 40 and older) try to best the young (ages 30 and younger).

What did happen to contestants in their 30s?

Fortunately, my older son texted me several times during the episode. But it’s just not the same as having him with us in our family room hearing his spontaneous commentary. It’s just another one of those pesky “new normals” that we have to adapt to.

Maybe sharing “Survivor” via text messages will be old hat by the 22nd season.

Some “Survivor” thoughts

Marty (left) strategizes with Coach Jimmy Johnson

After watching the first episode, I know that one contestant I won’t be rooting for is Jimmy Johnson (the coach, not the race car driver). I don’t care how personable or how good a player he is, one fact stands true: He coached the hated Dallas Cowboys to back-to-back Super Bowls. If he somehow gets humiliated, all Houston Oilers/Texans fans will cheer.

Dalton Ross, who writes the excellent http://ew.com “Survivor” analysis column every Thursday, agrees with me.

So who am I pulling for?

Here’s hoping Chase Rice wins!

Chase Rice! A member of the young tribe, the 24-year-old North Carolina native is a pro race car jackman . . . and he’s easy on the eyes, too. But the best part? Check out his name: He sounds like my “third son,” Chase, who attends Rice University. Hey, he’s a natural choice!

Jack’s Eye Has Closed

Christian Shepherd’s casket is finally back in the United States.

“Lost,” one of my family’s favorite TV shows, ended last night. Well, we think it ended . . . there may still be a commercial or two left for us to watch!

Kate fulfills her promise to get Claire back to Aaron.

The four of us thoroughly enjoyed the finale, but the commercials (except for the “Lost”-themed Target ones) drove us crazy. Why didn’t ABC find one or two sponsors to underwrite the episode so it could be virtually ad free? It almost ruined the experience for us. The networks shouldn’t treat hour-long-plus shows like they’re the Super Bowl.

Hugo/Hurley finally becomes a hero when he decides to stay on the island.

I’m not going to critique, recap, or review the finale. Others (ha ha!) do a better job, particularly Nikki Stafford and her equally brilliant commenters. But I do have some thoughts about the end of a television show that took our emotions and intellect on a ride for six seasons.

Sawyer leaves the island a changed man.

I loved the story-telling device for the main Oceanic 815 survivors in what’s considered the “sideways” (off-island) world remembering their island lives by touching someone or something meaningful. The connections were so powerful! The best one was between Sawyer and Juliet at the vending machine (darn those stuck Apollo bars!), as it brought full circle their final on-island conversation before Juliet died.

The fake Locke barges into Rose and Bernard’s idyllic island world.

I especially liked how “Lost” brought almost all the survivors back. It was great being reminded that Rose and Bernard still lived blissfully on the island with Vincent. We see Shannon and Boone in the sideways (off-island) world. I do wish that Nadia had been Sayid’s connection instead of shallow Shannon; Nadia was his true love. Charlie, Charlotte, Daniel, Eloise Hawking, Pierre Chang, Sun, Jin, Juliet . . . hail, hail, the gang’s all here!

Eloise Hawking was right: The island wasn’t done with Desmond.

Mr. Electromagnetism, aka Desmond, was the key to most of the connections. Was it because he was special? Or was it just one of the many questions that didn’t get answered.

Richard has a gray hair! He finally can age and move on.

The finale can’t be all things to all viewers. “Lost” was an intellectual show from the get-go. Thinking was required. I’m sure everyone has taken something different from every episode over the last six years. But here’s what I believe is the core of “Lost”:

Lapidus survives the sub explosion and flies the Ajira plane off the island.

Oceanic 815 crashed on an island, and there were survivors. Jack said, “What happened happened.” The island is the survivors’ real world. It represented redemption, because all of them were flawed and needed to be fixed before they could come to terms with their lives.

Juliet and Jack “had” son David in the sideways world.

The “sideways” world that was introduced this season that showed Jack with a son, Sawyer and Miles as detectives, and Kate still running from the law? It’s each character’s own purgatory where they reconcile what’s happened in their lives. It wasn’t a real world. Once all the survivors finally died (either on the island, which was protected by Hurley and Ben during their lifetimes, or back in the U.S.), they gathered in the church, connected once again, and all moved on together.

What’s the message after six years? That no one dies alone. That it’s best to love and be loved, to have friends and be a friend, to resolve your father issues and not let them fester. Connections are important in life, so make them positive ones.

Farewell, Jack!

Thanks for the ride, “Lost.” It’s been a blast!

Outsmarting Others Makes for “Survivor” Losers

Russell, Russell, Russell!

Does any of us really like being outsmarted? Oh, we might admire someone for getting the best of us, but usually it just makes us mad.

Consider this season’s “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” jury mad . . . at Russell Hantz, the villain people either love or hate. Even though it can be argued that for the second straight season he did what “Survivor’s” motto says the game is all about—outwit, outplay, outlast—once again he finished without the title he covets as the sole Survivor.

Even worse, the other two in the final threesome—eventual-winner Sandra Diaz-Twine and runner-up Parvati Shallow—pitched a shutout against Russell. He received no jury votes. Ouch!

The line seemed blurred between heroes and villains.

Russell had a big advantage going into Season 20: None of the other players knew what he was like. “Heroes vs. Villains” was being filmed while “Samoa” was shown on TV. Russell was a wild card. Yet, as Rupert Boneham said, he had to have made quite an impression in Samoa to have been casted as a villain. Oh, yes, Rupert, he did!

An a-mazing final challenge!

Playing back-to-back seasons seemed to take its toll on Russell, though. Near the end he was irritable and not very sharp. This remark when he mocks Rupert (who also wasn’t as likeable as during Pearl Islands) was telling:

Russell: “You’re such a dumbass, Rupert.”

Note to Russell: You’re not going to get Rupert’s vote.

Blindfolded Parvati and Russell try to exit the maze.

Russell should go down as the best strategic player in “Survivor” history. No one has been better at finding hidden immunity idols (although it can be argued that they’re way too easy to find). No one has been better at convincing people he’ll stay aligned with them until the end. Gullibility runs amok when Russell is in the house.

Sandra pleads her case to the jury.

But Russell’s weakness is his ego. Arrogance gets you zero points—and zero votes—with the jury members, who still aren’t happy that you helped kick them out of the game. You might be a great villain, but you’re a loser in the eyes of the jury.

If I had to choose, though, I would take Russell’s superior game play to Sandra’s weak ride-those-coattails strategy any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Even though she played a better game than in Pearl Islands, especially engineering the ouster of Coach, she’s a no-show in challenges. Here’s her strategy: “As long as no one’s voting for me, I’m good.” Personally, I’m not a fan of passive game play.

So that means that Parvati should’ve been crowned the sole Survivor. She won the most challenges, always had a target on her back as a huge threat, and played a good social game. It’s too bad that certain jury members saw her alliance with Russell as a negative; they should’ve been able to separate the two.

Poor Russell and Parvati!

Jury members tend to hold grudges. Especially against players like Russell and Parvati who outsmarted them.

Maybe “Survivor” needs a new logo: Outwit, outplay, outlast . . . and outsmart!