Thursday, August 13, 2009

So I’m back after an inauspicious six month absence. Which I personally see not as a commentary on my dedication to this blog, but as a commentary on the last six months...I will sit here and maintain that in the last six months, the most significant cultural event we have had is Stringer Bell making a guest appearance on The Office. Since then, nothing. Not even MJ’s passing could inspire me to sit down at my Macbook and give my thoughts. Until today...

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive. ~Gilda Radner

I’ve been traveling a lot lately. Since April 10th, I have visited 15 major American cities. I’ve seen cities that are obviously amazing (New York,) cities that are depressing (Cleveland,) cities that surprise you by how cool they are (D.C., Austin.) Of all of the cities I’ve been to in my work travels, Philadelphia always ranks consistently high. Good people, good food, exciting nightlife, great TV show set there, it’s really a quality city. However from a sports perspective, I have decided that I officially hate the city of Philadelphia.

It started out with Shane Victorino being selected to the All-Star game over Pablo Sandoval. At that point, I was annoyed with Philly. Then I saw the Giants play the Phillies at home a couple of weeks ago. This was an important game to me, my girlfriend is moving to the Bay Area and it was her first Giants game, I wanted her to see a win. Instead she got to see Cliff Lee throw a complete game to stifle the Giants. I was fuming at anyone from Philadelphia. But then today, was the last straw, I turned to, like I do 50 times a day, and I saw the headline:

Vick, Eagles agree to 2-year deal

I now vow to never root for another sports team from Philadelphia.

I was a fan of Michael Vick, even back at Virginia Tech. During the 2000 Sugar Bowl, he was damn amazing to watch, and his team got destroyed that game. In high school, when I played Varisity football and we were picking numbers, when the number I wanted (#2, Charles Woodson’s number at Michigan, Deion Sanders’ number at Florida State) was taken, I looked at #7 and said, “Sweet, Michael Vick.” He was an easy guy to be a fan of.

The news that Vick got re-signed today really made me address how I felt about what he did. I had kind of chosen to ignore it for a while. Upon his release, I made jokes: I posted on Facebook an Onion article that joked about Vick wearing a coat of dogs to the meeting with Roger Goodell. I was reacting to his crime by being hyper-morbid. My initial reaction to the signing was of puzzlement (My Facebook Status: Will Vick be in Madden 2010 when it’s released tomorrow?) But then I thought about it, could I really support Michael Vick being in the NFL again...

I’m typically not one to let off-field discretions get in the way of letting me root for them on the field. In 10th grade I wrote a paper for English class about how the media irresponsibly covered the Ray Lewis case and created a false image of guilt that could adversely affect his trial. I vehemently support Barry Bonds who is known as a prick off the field and a “cheater” (I put that in quotes because I believe it’s subjective, is it cheating if everyone does it?) on the field. Usually, if I am a fan of the guy, I will remain a fan, regardless of character flaws. When I watch sports, I’m not looking for saints. I don’t want these guys to marry my daughter, I want to see guys who are electrifying athletes and entertaining to watch.

But with Vick I just can’t do it.

The man financed a dog fighting ring. He profited from the exploitation and torture of countless dogs. Not only that, but when dogs didn’t perform, he executed them in bizaare and disgusting ways. Why is it necessary to electrocute an underperforming dog? Why not just shoot it like it’s Old Yeller? That tells me that either he got some sick pleasure out of it, or someone in his circle did, and he was just too much of a coward to do anything about it.

It is beyond my scope of reasoning as to how or why anyone could willfully partake in the slaughter of dogs that way. I think back to my beagle Honey (My sister named her.) For all intents and purposes she was a terrible dog. She barked, after six years she was never fully house trained. Once during one of many times she escaped from our house, she snuck up behind my mom causing her to break her leg. She was so inbred she just couldn’t learn basic commands and coaching. But she was MY dog. I loved that dog, and she loved me back. When she was so ridden with sickness that she didn’t recognize me anymore I STILL didn’t want her to be put down. I just couldn’t bear to see her go. I selfishly didn’t want to see her die. Vick selfishly saw over 70 dogs die. I just don’t understand it.

The consensus amongst most of my friends who are football fans is that they are glad Michael Vick got another chance. And from a broad perspective I agree with them. This is America, Michael Vick paid his debt to society, he does deserve another chance to practice his craft. Too many ex cons don’t have the opportunity to return to their old professions upon release. Thanks to Tony Dungy, Michael Vick is the American Dream embodied. Good for him.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to root for him when he steps on the field. I hope for his sake if he doesn’t perform that Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb don’t electrocute him.

Friday, March 20, 2009



That was my reaction four weeks ago when my geekish Wikipediaing of Idris Elba revealed that he was going to be starting a six episode arc on The Office as a new corporate liaison for Dunder Mifflin who is set to clash with Michael Scott. If Prison Break is the equivalent of going home with the skanky friend of the hot girl, then having Stringer Bell join The Office is the equivalent of the hot girlfriend who loves sports, is a great cook and one day says, “What do you think about bringing another girl in on this?” The unreal amalgamation of awesome factors that you think will never come true, but did.

What a piece of inspired casting! Stringer was basically Executive VP of the Barksdale Pharmaceutical Corporation, so having Elba play a tough no-nonsense corporate manager is a perfect fit. While I don’t think Charles Minor is going to be hiring Brother Mouzone to deal with Michael Scott, he was definitely laying down the law. His character reminded me of FRANK GRIMES from The Simpsons episode “HOMER'S ENEMY”, the character who seems to operate in the real world and calls attention to all the craziness of the universe of the TV show. Adding this type of character was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Sorry if I’m gushing, but I’m just so damn happy to see my man Driis back on TV!

What do you think fair readers? Were you as happy as I was to see Stringer back? Or do you think that he “sucked the humor” out of every scene like some lady from Newsweek said? Are you as bummed as I am that we only get 6 episodes of Driis?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why I Love Battlestar Galactica

It’s rare that I ever say this: You were right Mom, Battlestar Galactica is the best show left on TV.

For as much as I hassle my Mom on this blog, she and I are always talking about TV, and we have very similar taste. Back in January, I was mourning the lack of quality programs on TV. The Wire and The Shield had finished their run, we were months away from new episodes of Mad Men and Rescue Me, and I had been forced to watch episodes of Prison Break to get my serialized TV drama fix. Going from watching The Wire to watching Prison Break is like going home with the skanky, less attractive friend of the hot girl in the bar: an enjoyable experience, but you feel dirty for doing it and you know that you deserve more. As I was whining about this dearth in exciting programming, my mom insisted that Battlestar Galactica was worth checking out, that it was the best show left on TV; I immediately began to mock her.

When I thought of Battlestar Galactica fans, I didn’t think of erudite TV connoisseurs like myself who crave intriguing drama, like Bubs craves his next fix (if you don't get that reference stop reading and put every season of The Wire in your Netflix queue right now.) I pictured a bunch of guys who play too much World of Warcraft, unglueing themselves from the computer for an hour every week, to watch a cheesy space drama about douchebags in space fighting some other douchbags in space, only the second douchbags were wearing too much makeup because they were playing aliens. At the time I had been exposed to Battlestar Galactica only through references to the show by two TV Characters: COMIC BOOK GUY from The Simpsons and DWIGHT SCHRUTE from The Office, and those guys do little to fight my internal stereotype of Battlestar Galactica fans as losers. At the time my only argument against watching the show was that I was too cool to watch Battlestar Galactica. However, at the time Six Feet Under was the next selection in my Netflix queue, and I was not ready for a show that depressing,so I decided to give BSG a shot.

I almost didn’t stick with it. It seemed at first to be the show I was expecting it to be. Something about robots being created by man, the robots rebelling, and now the robots look like us. Granted, there were a couple of hot chicks on the show, but what show gets made without hot chicks? My initial thought was “Oooh boy, another Matrix/Terminator/I,Robot-story about machines killing their masters, how original.” I was already prepping for the ultra-cerebral, pretentious blather of Six Feet Under (Stay tuned for my Why I Love Six Feet Under Blog, coming in July 09!)

But before I knew it I was hooked, this was not your average sci-fi show. What was different? The writers had taken the traditional machine uprising story and used it as a vehicle for exploring contemporary political issues ranging from the Iraq War, to Abortion, to the limits of Executive Power. It would be simple to say that the humans represent America and the Cylons (Robots) are terrorists, but that’s not always the case. The show handles different topics in different ways: Abu Ghraib was explored when two human soldiers attempt to rape a Cylon humanoid (a robot that looks like a person) prisoner. However, these roles are flipped when the humans attempt to settle a newly discovered planet and are subsequently invaded and occupied by massive Cylon army that believes that they are doing God’s work by invading the human’s territory (Additional mindfuck alert: The humans practice polytheism while the Cylon’s believe in one true god...what?!?!)

Conservatives may fear that any product of Hollywood that touches on political subjects is going to be hyper-liberal. However the show deals with all subjects in an incredibly fair and even handed manner. Example: a season two episode deals with abortion, and while merits of pro-choice are expounded upon, the pro-lifers end up winning the episode's ideological battle.

Season four of BSG arrives in my mailbox on Friday, the same day that the series finale is scheduled to air on the Sci-Fi channel. I am incredibly engrossed by this show, but I am haunted by the fact that once this show ends, I will yet again have to deal with the lack of top notch dramas on TV these days.

Oh well, there is always the final season of Prison Break. Going home with the skanky friend is probably more action than the average BSG fan gets anyways.

The Battlestar Galactica series finale airs Friday March 20th at 9:PM on Sci-Fi.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Ramblings are back....

"When's the next blog? Mr. Deriv, when's the next blog?"

Rob Hulsman (Sarcastically)

All right, so it has been a while since I’ve written anything...I’ve been flaky I know. What can I say? At least my off time was productive, I edited SEAN PATRICK THOMAS’ wikipedia to read that he was related to my friend ESE. It was up there for about three weeks, I was pretty proud of that.

Before we get to my ramblings, a couple of shoutouts....

Check out my sister’s website:, a really great website that provides gourmet food and wine recipes on a budget. Her site is getting A LOT of buzz. I'm really proud of her. Make sure to check it out, I guarantee you will like it

My friend Ronny started two blogs: and his “Lost” blog:, both worth reading.

Last shoutout is to my organization Moishe House. We are an upstart Jewish non-profit that supports community building for Jews in their 20’s around the world. The men and women living in these houses are doing AMAZING things. Please go to to learn more, see event photos and calendars, and most importantly, DONATE! Thank you so much.

All right, now that that’s out of the way, hear come the ramblings:


Ever since the finale of The Shield I have been waiting for something to fill the void. Mostly its been comedies, The Office is great, as is 30 Rock, but NBC has inconsistent viewing schedules, which annoys me. Flight of the Conchords is back on HBO and has been great so far. I used to not be a fan of the musical sketches, but they have been hysterical this year. They are doing a lot of Hip Hop which I like and it’s been hysterical. Check out THESE THREE CLIPS. To fully appreciate the last clip, check out the music video to SAME GIRL by R. Kelly and Usher, the Conchords did a spot on parody.

HBO has another new comedy Eastbound and Down starring Danny McBride of Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder. It has potential, but after three episodes the quality appears to be dipping a bit. They’re just trying too hard.

No drama has really been able to step up and fill the voids created by the departures of The Wire and The Shield, and I doubt anything will be doing so anytime soon (although Rescue Me is back in April); those shows set the bar very high. Lost has been inconsistent this season. I frankly enjoy reading JEFF JENSEN'S LOST RECAPS, more than I enjoy watching the show, because he so thoroughly explores the mythology and researches the references that are secretly hidden in the show.

Friday Night Lights is the best show on television. The cast is stellar, the problems seem based in reality, and it’s engaging. Plus some football is thrown in.

But I most confess, I am most engrossed by Battlestar Galactica. I know, I know, it’s a geek show, it’s a cult show, it's DWIGHT SCHRUTE'S favorite show. I resisted as long as I could, but I had been hearing good things about it. When I finally gave in and put it in my Netflix queue, I was determined to have a bad attitude about it. I almost didn’t stick with it, but it’s actually a damn good show. I'm really not into sci-fi, but with BSG. if you are willing to look past the fact that the characters you are watching are currently in space and in the future, and that they are at war with alien robots, it is actually an engrossing show that deals with a lot of current political issues in a fairly neutral way. Plus, the women on the show are amazingly hot.


I mentioned in my last ramblings that Lil Wayne could do pretty much anything at this point and I would listen to it....that was before I heard PROM QUEEN...that song is GOD AWFUL. Stick to the basics Weezy, bring it back to the CARTER II.

A lot of the people who I talk about music with didn’t like UNIVERSAL MIND CONTROL, Common’s new album. I absolutely love it. Besides the fact that every track is beautifully produced, you can just hear in Common’s voice that he is having fun on this album. The best track is GLADIATOR.


It may be Schadenfreude, but I am happy that Benjamin Button got all but shut out at the Oscars. That movie was terrible and I want my 3 hours back. I also was happy that Slumdog Millionaire and Heath Ledger won too...

I could not have been more disappointed with Notorious. This was supposed to be Ray for my generation, instead we got a cartoony, glorified Behind the Music episode. It was just so bad.


Is fucking stupid.


In my ill-conceived Mr. Derivative List Challenge (It was a really stupid concept, I wrote that one in about 5 minutes, I’m sorry) , I listed the Top 10 Simpsons quotes of all time thusly:
1. "Crisitunity!�
2. "Mmmh...Floorpie!"
3. "....That Dog has a Puffy Tale!�
4."They Taste like....BURNING!
5. "I am so Smart! SMRT!"
6."You can run...BUT YOU CAN’�T GLIDE!�
7. HEY...There’s a NEW Mexico!�
9. Marge: Kids can be so cruel. � Bart:We Can?� Lisa:OWWW! CUT IT OUT BART!!�
10.”C’mon! It’s Time for a Change!�

Which is evidence that I rushed that blog: I forgot so many of the classics: “Save me Jeebus!”, “I like my TV Loud, my Beer Cold, and My Homosexuals, Flaaaaaaaaaaaaming!” and countless more. Picking the best Simpsons quote, is like picking the worst episode of Two and a Half Men, there are too many to pick from.

Until next time fair readers, I leave you with THIS...happy viewing