Tag Archives: television

“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!

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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!

There Oughta Be a Law!

Faux Locke might be amused, but I am NOT!

Tuesday was election day. Now I’m all for voting and democracy. It’s all fine and dandy.

Sayid seems skeptical . . . about the election?

Except when it ruins one of my favorite TV shows! All that red, white, and blue among the jungle scenery of “Lost” is so wrong. Almost takes the scariness out of not-really-John Locke! It’s just as bad as those endless robot phone calls that we get from candidates.

“My fantastic acting performance is ruined by those results, Flocke,”

What difference does it make for us to know local election results with only five percent of the vote tallied? Or even 100 percent? Can’t everyone just wait for the 10 p.m. news to find out who wins? Why distract us with this nonsense?

“I don’t want to share my screen time with you results! Be gone!!”

Part of our Texas election process was voting for several propositions that eventually could cause changes to the state constitution. Here’s one proposition that should be on the next ballot: There should be no disruptions of “Lost” or “Survivor” or any TV shows I want to watch. Ever! Election-result scrawls would be deemed illegal.

Fortunately, “Lost” wasn’t interrupted by the election. If that had happened?

Don’t mess with this former Iraqi torturer!

The penalty would be unleashing the deadly smoke monster on our local ABC affiliate!

Whew, I’m glad that the election is over!

Random Winter Olympics Snippets

German Magdalena Neuner wins the 10K individual biathlon pursuit (as shown on my little TV).

Sometimes it seems like I can’t get enough of the Winter Olympics. I really enjoy watching the Games on our family room’s big HDTV. But when I need to get things done in my office (mostly Photoshopping), I turn to the next best thing: My little Haier portable TV. I got a great deal on the 7-inch digital wonder via Amazon.com at the end of last year and knew it would be a mainstay in my office (it does sport a rechargeable battery).

At first I tried the TV as is with its regular antenna, but I couldn’t get Fox or ABC. So I sprung for an external one, and that’s pulled in lots of other noncable channels as well as those two. I’m glad I have my little TV right by my side!

Oh, and I actually use its remote, even though the TV is an arm’s distance away. How very “guy” of me!

Love these Olympic mittens!

Here are some random Olympics thoughts so far:

• I love the official Olympic mittens, especially the maple leaf!

• I loved that Wayne Gretzky, aka the Great One, was the final torch bearer. Very appropriate. It was a shame that part of the indoor cauldron was on the fritz, though.

• I love that former Olympic athletes and coaches commentate on their sports. Not only do I appreciate their expertise, but I love their enthusiasm. They truly can empathize with what the athletes are going through. We’re partial to Scott Hamilton, who reports on figure skating. He also was a favorite when he won the Olympic gold medal in 1984.

• I love the P&G commercials, especially the one where the little kids are Olympians. That tagline, “P&G—proud sponsor of moms,” gets me every time!

Alexander Bilodeau won the first gold medal for Canada.

• I loved that when Alexander Bilodeau was awarded Canada’s first gold medal (and the first they’ve won as a host country), the Canadians at the venue sang “O Canada!” with such fervor and pride.

• What I especially love about the Olympics is that these athletes compete for the love of the sport. Any of them can be a star, gaining fame that will last them at least until the next Olympics.

But as much as I love the Olympics, when I had to choose between watching the Winter Games and “Lost” last night . . . .

Ben Linus (played by Michael Emerson)

There was no competition! What a great Locke/Faux Locke-centric episode!

“Lost” No-Spoiler Zone

Jacob, the spiritual center of the mysterious island—he has beautiful, blue, mesmerizing eyes

This has been an amazing week for our family so far: The #1 son’s birthday was yesterday, and the final season of “Lost” started Tuesday.

The #2 son watches intently.

Watching “Lost” is a wonderful family tradition for us. We really enjoy discussing what’s going on during the commercials (thank goodness there are so many of them, she says sarcastically) and anticipating what to expect next week.

Jack

Last year in this very blog I analyzed every “Lost” episode. It helped me to get my head around what was going on, since all Losties know how complicated the series is. By the way, all that confusion that fills our days contemplating the “Lost” conundrum? We have none other than the show’s creators and writers, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, to thank for that.

Kate

“We’ve always felt that one of the compelling elements of ‘Lost’ is the intentional ambiguity,” Cuse says. “The fact is it’s open for interpretation and discussion, and we feel like we would be doing a disservice to the fans and viewers to say, ‘No, you must only look at this in one way.'”

Sawyer

Or it could be that they don’t have a clue about what’s going on either!

Hurley

Now the new season has begun, and I’ve decided not to do any “Lost” analyses until the season finally ends. Why? Mainly because of my friend Karen K. She’s a London transplant right now, and she told me that “Lost” is a week behind in the UK. She would appreciate it if I didn’t spoil “Lost” for her in my blog; otherwise, she won’t be able to read it.

Bogus Locke

Fair enough! I’ve decided to be content with taking photos of my TV with my trusty Nikon D700 and 50mm lens and posting pics that won’t give away any of the plot. Happy, Karen?

I will say that based on parts one and two that aired Tuesday, this season is going to be another edge-of-your-seat roller coaster ride every single week. I loved the new storytelling device and can’t wait to see what happens next.

If you’d like to read great, insightful “Lost” analysis, check out Nikki Stafford’s Nik at Nite (even the comments are eye-openers), Doc Jensen (“Entertainment Weekly”), and Doc Arzt’s “Lost” blog. All three will help you connect the dots and discover nuances and hidden meanings that will enhance your viewing enjoyment.

Oh, and Karen, spoiler alert! Please close the page. I have to note that whiny, obnoxious Neil (aka Frogurt) had a small role in the season opener. I knew it was him the minute I saw him despite the sleep mask that he was wearing. It was fun watching him be whiny and obnoxious yet again.

“Lost” seems to be coming full circle. Let’s hope that really will be true after the season finale on May 23.

Who Was the True “Survivor” Winner?

See that “Survivor: Samoa” logo above? It reads “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast,” which has been the “Survivor” franchise motto since the first edition 18 seasons ago.

Someone needed to tell season 19th’s jury that awarding the title of sole Survivor isn’t about having your feelings hurt because you got voted out. This isn’t high school. The winner should be the person who has played the best game outwitting, outplaying, and outlasting the other competitors.

Russell, the evil, little pirate

“Survivor: Samoa’s” winner should have been Russell Hantz, a good, old boy from Dayton, Texas. He found two hidden immunity idols without the benefit of a single clue, and he was busy strategizing from the first second of the game. He was a great player! Instead, it was Natalie White, who Russell tucked under his wing and carried to the finals. Sure, she outlasted almost everyone, but she didn’t outplay or outwit anyone.

Erik, the tribe has spoken!

Well, except for Erik Cardona. She did engineer his blind-side ouster, which turned the game in the outnumbered Foa Foa’s favor. That was huge. Ironically, at the final tribal council last night, Erik championed Natalie’s cause by arguing that her strategy of flying under the radar and playing a good social game was just as valid to crown her champion. He probably convinced a few of his fellow jury members, who were all part of his former Galu tribe except for Jaison Robinson, that Natalie was worthy of winning “Survivor.”

Natalie helps her team win a reward challenge.

Now let me give Natalie (or “Ratalie,” as Erik humorously wrote down in paying homage to her rat-killing prowess) her props. Our family has watched every episode of every season of “Survivor,” and one thing plays out every time: A social game is more important than a strategic game. “Survivor” really is a social experiment under hardship conditions. Players bond in unique ways leading to trust factors that can make or break alliances. Natalie played a better social game than Russell; she was much more likeable than the evil, little pirate (who was both hated and loved by the audience).

That being said, I have a hard time respecting players like Natalie who use competitors like Russell as a shield to win. Her smartest decision was to ally with Russell, a choice that netted her a million bucks. If the jury members had voted with their heads instead of their hearts, Russell would have been a unanimous winner. However, emotion plays a huge part in the jury’s final decision of who they want to give the money to. Not who really deserves to win.

Mick and Russell bookend the winning Natalie.

When the votes were read at last night’s reunion show, Russell was shocked and upset that he lost 7-2 to Natalie. In fact, he was visibly disappointed the entire program. It never had occurred to him that he might lose! He totally underestimated or didn’t understand the importance of Survivor’s social game, especially how the winner needs to be able to sway those s/he voted off. I really don’t think Russell played for the money as much as for the title. He so wanted to be proclaimed the “sole Survivor.”

Fortunately for Russell, the fans vindicated him by voting him Player of the Season in the Sprint competition. That was worth $100K and some assuaging of his hurt feelings. Thanks for making the season so enjoyable, Russell!

Random “Survivor” snippets

• Once again, the third-place finisher (Mick Trimming) received no votes. It’s time to go back to a final two, which is more interesting.

• I really liked how upbeat Shambo (Shannon Waters) was. If you go to cbs.com’s Ponderosa videos (http://www.cbs.com/primetime/survivor/video/?pid=MYn2tzMIyUVmHha_t5tLG4FqYtFxhhey&vs=Ponderosa&play=true), you can check out her philosophy. By the way, watching Ponderosa (where jury members stay) videos is a great way to get to know some of the competitors.

• The 20th season, which starts on February 11, is called “Heroes vs. Villains: Return, Revenge, Redemption.” Here’s hoping that Russell comes back, no doubt on the villains side, and proves once and for all that he really is the true sole Survivor! We’ll be watching!