Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Jeff TV

Thanks to the magic of TiVo, I'm able to watch a shitload of TV. Here are the programs I watch and even a few that I don't. Enjoy. You're suggestions are welcome in the comments.

Shows I Watch and Like

Prison Break (Fox)
I started watching this show from the very beginning. The premise drew me in and the intense twists and turns kept me along for the ride. The great thing about this show is that they consistently kept everything moving forward and they weren't afraid to live up to the show's name. The first season ended with them breaking out of prison and for the entire second season we didn't see a prison at all. It still rocked.

The first two seasons were awesome and intense. It was probably my favorite show on television for those two years. The third season has been a bit of a let down, though. It's still good; just not as good as it used to be.

House (Fox)
I've often heard this show called "the best show on television" and it just might be true. I came a little late to the party but I've enjoyed the past couple seasons quite a bit. They had a bit of a rough patch when they tried to interject that cop who was trying to bust House for his abuse of painkillers, but quickly resolved it and went back to doing what they do best.

Boston Legal (ABC)
Interesting, clever, quirky, intelligent, hilarious and poignant - in every single episode. The characters are quirky and interesting while still being believable and they've managed to continually rotate people in and out of the show with great success. The relationship between William Shatner and James Spader's characters may be the most interesting relationship on TV.

Drawn Together (Comedy Central)
This is another show that I feel has lost its mojo a little bit. The first couple of seasons were hilarious almost without fail, but this season has been just okay. Don't get me wrong, it's still funny. If you've never seen the show, I recommend renting the first season to get a real feel for what this show is about.

Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
I love the whole Law & Order series of shows, but this has to be the most consistently great of the three. Each week they have clever and interesting cases and there is always a twist and turn that you never expect. Great drama.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)
This is another show that I didn't discover until recently despite repeated recommendations by some of my most twisted friends. Prior to this season I bought the first two seasons on DVD and was not disappointed. The first two seasons are some of the most original and clever television episodes I have ever seen. My favorite episode has to be "Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare". Also check out "Charlie Has Cancer".

South Park (Comedy Central)
This show just keeps trucking on. They are always at their best when they have an issue to address - the Scientology episode, for example - and continue to be funny while making a point. You know all about this show so I'll move on.

SNL has been up and down over the years but they always come back. Right now they are in one of their upswings, but haven't yet reached the top. Every week they have about one or two really funny sketches and most of the rest kind of fall flat. Weekend Update is pretty consistently funny and the Digital Shorts have been a lifesaver. The most frustrating thing about this show is that they get the first crack at writing sketches for everything and I've had to scrap a bunch of sketch ideas because they got to them first.

The Office (NBC)
The funniest show on television. If you don't agree, you don't have a sense of humor. Or you are an idiot. It's been hilarious from the beginning and it continues to be hilarious. I've never been disappointed by this show.

30 Rock (NBC)
This show is becoming the Arrested Development of the past two years. The critics love it but it doesn't seem to be getting the viewers that it deserves. Alec Baldwin is hilarious and the writing is great. I'd say that this show is underrated, but everyone says that so I don't think it's overrated anymore. It's properly rated and hilarious.

Dirty Sexy Money (ABC)
A brand new show this season and it's my favorite of the new shows that I've seen. I love the premise of a guy working for a rich and famous family while trying to figure out who killed his dad (who used to work for the same family). This is another show that manages to span genres and be dramatic, funny and intense all at once. The first three (or four, I don't remember) episodes have been great and shown all of the different places this show can go.

Nip/Tuck (FX)
Dee got me hooked on this show. I remember originally seeing the ads for this show and thinking that it would probably be terrible. However, I immediately got hooked. It's dark and twisted and they constantly find a way to get hot chicks on the show. They really know how to write a good drama.

Family Guy (Fox)
Family Guy has become a bit of a cultural phenomenon and everyone has seen at least one or two episodes of this show. Funny and clever and random. It's at its best when Brian and Stewie are playing off each other.

Simpsons (Fox)
The grandfather to all the cartoon comedies that are on TV right now. I've only seen one or two of the new episodes this season, but they've still got it. This season's episode where Homer and Mr. Burns fly to Chicago was very funny.

Lost (ABC)
I have a love-hate relationship with this show. The second season drove me crazy because they didn't move anything forward and it felt like a big waste of my time. After that they sucked be back in with some really great episodes where they actually resolved a few things and treated us like intelligent viewers. I liked the way last season ended but I'm going to reserve judgement until I see a new episode.

My Name is Earl (NBC)
I don't actually TiVo this show but I usually end up catching it because I'm watching the shows before or after. It's a show that definitely has its moments and I've laughed out loud a few times, but it's not so good that I'm willing to add it to my TiVo list. I do love the show's style, however. It feels like nothing else on TV.

Entourage (HBO)
Every time this show ends Dee always says, "It's too short!" I agree. I'm always left wanting more which is a good thing. Ari and Johnny Drama are the real stars of the show even though most of the action focuses around Vince and E. Even the worst Entourage episodes always have some laugh-out-loud funny moments. This last season wasn't up to par with the standard they set, but I have every confidence that they'll recover next season.

Flight of the Conchords (HBO)
I didn't get to see the first two or three episodes of this show, but once I did I fell in love. I hadn't heard anything about this show prior to seeing it, but once they broke into song I was hooked. Sometimes the show drags a bit, but they always recover with one of their hilarious songs. I even bought their mini-album on iTunes. Check it out.

Psych (USA)
I applaud USA for running their original programming during the summer when everything else is in reruns. It gives me something to watch when I'm outside. Anyway, Psych is another funny and clever show in a long list of funny and clever shows that I like to watch. I enjoy James Roday and Dule Hill and think they have good chemistry. I could see how Roday could annoy people, but he doesn't annoy me. Probably because the show is well written.

The 4400 (USA)
This show is a cross between X-Men and Heroes. Actually, I shouldn't compare The 4400 to Heroes since The 4400 came first. There is no doubt in my mind that Heroes got the go-ahead because of the success of The 4400. Anyway, the premise is that 4400 people suddenly appear in a ball of light on the shore of a lake in Seattle. These 4400 had been "missing" from various times since 1950. Of course, they are all returned at the same age as they were when they were abducted. They also have special powers. You can guess how it goes from there. It's pretty cool and clever.

Project Runway (BRVO)
This is my one reality show guilty pleasure. I really enjoy seeing the stuff that the designers come up with and they do a good job of focusing mostly on the work the people are doing and not just the drama. My favorite part is when they give them a challenge like making a dress out of trash.

Shows Don't Watch but Probably Should

Heroes (NBC)
I watch and enjoy The 4400 and it seems like I would like this show, too. However, I just haven't set my TiVo and I feel like I need to rent the DVDs of the first season before I can watch this season. Maybe I'll Netflix it soon.

Pushing Daisies (ABC)
I have a couple of friends who are very high on this show. They tell me it has a Tim Burton look to it. The only Tim Burton movie I've seen is the one Batman movie that he did. I haven't seen any of his other animated movies but certain people seem to love them. I saw part of an episode of this show but didn't see enough to get a good feel for it. Maybe I'll give it a try.

Chuck (NBC)
The promos I've seen for this seem like it would be a fun show. I always get sucked in by spy-type shows, plus it seems like it has a decent amount of humor.

Friday Night Lights (NBC)
Everyone on every sports site raves about this show, but it's another one of those shows that almost got cancelled. I love me some football but I'm always skeptical of any football movie or TV show because it's hard to pull off realistically. I don't care how much people tell me to watch this show, I'll probably never see it. Unless someone lends me the DVDs.

Scrubs (NBC)
I've only ever seen this show in syndication and I've always enjoyed it. I had no idea that they had still been making new episodes until I went to the NBC website. That's probably why I've never tuned in.

How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
I've been told by quite a few people that this is a show I would enjoy. My response is always, "Would I?" Then I forget about it by the time I get back home.

Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC)
I like his sense of humor and the stuff I've seen on Youtube is pretty clever. However, I'm never up late so I don't see it.

Big Shots (ABC)
I've read about this show and it seems like this is the TV version of Jerkology.

The Wire (HBO)
Everyone says this is best show on television. Some people have even said that it is the best show of all time. I'll watch it on DVD.

Rescue Me (FX)
Another show that gets rave reviews. I just forget to tune in.

24 (Fox)
I watched the first season and loved it. I saw the second and third seasons on DVD but haven't seen anything since. I'll have to Netflix this as well.

Weeds (SHO)
I watched my first episode of this last night. It was good, but I was a little confused by what was going on. I don't think I'll ever really get into this.

Dexter (SHO)
The premise of this is pretty cool - a serial killer who only kills criminals - and it's getting good reviews. Seems like a dark, twisted show I'll enjoy.

Californication (HBO)
I've heard good things and had many people say, "You'd really enjoy Californication." Oh yeah?

The Sarah Silverman Program (CC)
I've always enjoyed her sense of humor, so it follows that I would enjoy her show.

Shows I've Seen Once or Twice

Las Vegas (NBC)
This show has an interesting style because it seems to go back and forth between serious drama and light-hearted comedy but never in the same episode. I can't make my mind up about this show.

The Daily Show (Comedy Central)
Okay, I've seen this more than once or twice and I always enjoy it. One of my favorite TV moments of all time was when they did the report on the New York Councilman who was trying to get the n-word banned. Hilarious.

Monk (USA)
Another great show by USA. A fantastic character from which they can mine endless comedic possibilities. I'm pissed at myself for not TiVo-ing this.

Shows That I've Seen That Suck

Private Practice (ABC)
Holy shit. They created a spin-off of one of the most overrated TV shows of all time. And it sucks. Wow does it suck. Nothing interesting happens and you don't give a shit about any of the characters - especially Kate Walsh's character. Ugh. I hate it so much.

Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
Quick, name me a likable character on this show. Meredith Grey is a miserable, whiny bitch. Izzy is a pitiful, self-absorbed idiot. George is a spineless little twit and everyone else is just good-looking and boring. Someone cancel this show. Please.

Dancing with the Stars (ABC)
Booooooor-ing. I hate that Dee loves this show. I have to find something else to do while she watches it. Like stabbing myself with a pencil.

The Bachelor (ABC)
They are still making this fucking show? There are enough vapid idiots on TV already. The last thing we need is another dumb hot guy trying to pick from a bunch of dumb hot girls.

This show is like Johnny Carson. When people mention it, you're not sure if it's dead or not. Luckily, I think this is the final season.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Semi-Random Thoughts on Notre Dame Football

In no particular order:

1) I know I'm fooling myself when I think that an upset this weekend is possible, but I just can't help it.

2) I don't care who plays quarterback for the Irish so long as the guy on the field gives us the best chance to win that day.

3) No matter the outcome against USC this Saturday, Charlie absolutely has to win the next four games to keep people from calling for his head.

4) Even if they lose one of the last four games Charlie won't be fired.

5) I don't think any of the transfers that have happened this season are cause for alarm. In fact, I think it's a sign of a healthy program that talented players are leaving because they can't beat out other talented players. Look at USC the past few years. It happens all the time.

6) I hope James Aldridge isn't injury prone. He had a knee injury last year and now has a high-ankle sprain.

7) More Robert Hughes, please.

8) Robert Hughes sounds like he should be one of those old-timey southern blues guys who played with Leadbelly.

9) Charlie has very little margin for error with his recruiting classes. Given the poor performance of the team this year, we can't expect the team to be great next year - only better. In order to be competing for a National Championship two years from now he need to have almost every last one of his highly-touted recruits live up to their potential and get a few guys who exceed expectations. Otherwise, he'll be looking for a job.

10) Next year's schedule will be a refreshing change from this year's.

11) I bet I still won't get any tickets in the Alumni Lottery.

12) I hope the young guys are learning from Trevor Laws and Pat Kuntz. These guys don't know how to quit and play their butts off on every down. Talent will win you the easy games but you need heart to be a champion.

13) I'm starting to sound like Lou Holtz.

14) Have I mentioned that I love Lou Holtz?

15) It's encouraging to see that Charlie is learning from his mistakes. This team will be more prepared for the opening game next year.

16) I think Duval Kamara is going to be very good.

17) I worry about Darrin Walls. He has flashes of brilliance, but teams are obviously picking on him. Hopefully this will only make him better.

18) Kerry Neal and Brian Smith (both Freshmen) are going to be studs.

19) I do not condone the wearing of the green jerseys this Saturday. Even if it wasn't predetermined by Adidas that they would be worn in honor of the 1977 team that beat USC, the green jerseys should be nowhere near this game.

20) By no means does that mean that I don't think we can beat USC.

21) In fact, I'm predicting an upset.

22) No, I'm not.

23) I'm a big fan of guys over at The Blue-Gray Sky but I'm embarrassed by their pre-season predictions.

24) Regardless, The Blue-Gray Sky is required reading for ND fans.

25) Go Irish!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Baseball and Technology

I tuned in to Fox at 8pm CDT tonight expecting to see Prison Break. Unfortunately, I found the Red Sox-Indians baseball game. Did someone forget to tell these guys it's football season? Why are they still playing? Seriously. Didn't they start playing in April? Time to hang it up, fellas.

Anyway, I didn't change the channel because the other television option is Laming with the Lames (Dancing with the Stars). So I caught pieces of the game as I was folding my laundry and saw the manager of one of the teams come out and argue a call. While he was arguing with the ump, they showed the replay of the play and it was clear that the runner was safe. This led me to wonder why baseball hasn't yet instituted the use of instant replay review on close calls. Why hasn't this happened yet? (Aside from the fact that baseball is run by a bunch of idiots. See: Steroids, everyone.) I can't think of any arguments against it. First, you get all of your calls right. Second, it will have absolutely zero effect on the pace of the game since baseball is the slowest game in the world. If you try to argue that it will destroy the purity of the game, you are insinuating that there is still some purity left. Steroids, remember?

Once again, I'm smarter than baseball.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My Other Football Team

Since the Irish getting off to a 1-5 start is a pretty rare thing, it's been getting most of my attention here on the ol' blogaroo. In the meantime the Defending Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts are off to another 5-0 start. In fact, they look even better than the Colts team that won the Super Bowl last season. Of course, the 2005 Colts team looked better than just about every team in NFL history until they met the Steelers in the playoffs. I'm excited but I'm not counting my Lombardi Trophies just yet. There's always the Patriots. Especially this year. They look pretty invincible. We'll see. The Colts looked pretty invincible in 2005.

The end.

5 Years of pH

On November 14, 2002 I performed in pH's very first pHrenzy at what was formerly known as Frankie J's (now The Spot). It was pH's first show of any kind and we played to a sold out house - in fact, we set an attendance record at the time. pH had been in existence for about two months at that point, but we had just been rehearsing. This performance was our first true test.

The show was a spectacular success and pH was officially a theater company in Chicago. We had to wait until January to do our second show and eventually found a home at Wing & Groove Theater in Bucktown. Since then we have done shows at a number of venues around Chicago and we've done shows for folks in New York, Toronto, Miami, Providence, Austin, Milwaukee and a few others I'm sure I've forgotten. Now we call Stage Left Theater home and it will be our home as we celebrate our fifth anniversary.

To mark our fifth year in existence, we will be holding a pH Birthday Bash that will be open to the public. The ticket price is free, though we do hope you'll kindly make a donation (we're a not-for-profit corporation) to help us survive another five years. We'll be doing small bits of our shows, handing out awards and thanking everyone who has ever helped us. Plus, there will be booze. So clear your calendars on November 12 from 7-10pm and come join us at the Lakeshore Theater (Broadway and Belmont) to help us celebrate our 5th year.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Finally, a Win

For the first time in a very long while, I had to worry about how I was going to get to see a Notre Dame game. When the Irish are it home, it's no problem; they're always on NBC. Their road games are usually televised on ABC or ESPN, but they are also usually playing decent football. Since they were 0-5 and playing UCLA in the Rose Bowl, the game was only being telecast to the west coast and South Bend. Fortunately, the Internet stepped in and saved the day. I was able to watch the game on ESPN360.com. For streaming video is was surprisingly good quality and there were little to no issues with the feed. I think it may have skipped once or twice, but never during a play so I didn't miss a thing - even the same crappy commercials over and over.

Luckily, I was distracted enough with just figuring out how to watch the game, that I didn't spend a lot of time worrying about how well the Irish were going to play. UCLA was a 21 point favorite and the Bruins' players were trash-talking all week about how they were going to destroy the Irish. I didn't really have much hope that Notre Dame would be able to do much to keep that from happening.

The offense came out and struggled once again, but the defense looked fired up and was making the UCLA offense look a lot like ours. At halftime the Irish trailed 6-3 but they had knocked out UCLA's quarterback leaving them with a walk-on taking the snaps. In the second half, the defense stepped it up a notch and forced about 55 turnovers - Maurice Crum was personally responsible for 50 of those. The Irish scored 17 points in the third quarter - one touchdown scored by the defense, the other set up by an interception deep in UCLA territory - and put away the Bruins for good. In the fourth quarter the offense went into clock-killing mode and pretty much ran the ball on every play. Unfortunately, this didn't result in much yardage but the Irish never turned the ball over and just played a field position game to hang on.

Final score Notre Dame 20, UCLA 6.

All I have to say is: 'Bout damn time! We knew going into this season that the Irish had a brutal opening schedule (Georgia Tech, at Michigan, at Penn St.) and would probably start out with more losses than wins, but everyone pointed to the Michigan State and Purdue games as ones we could win before we got past USC on October 20th. When we didn't win those, 0-8 became a distinct possibility. I even began to discuss the possibility of losing to one (or more) of the last four teams on our schedule (Navy, Air Force, Duke, at Stanford). The season looked to be worse than we could have possibly imagined. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. A very, very dim light, but it's there. The Irish managed to pull together to win a game they weren't supposed to and gain a little confidence in the process. I'm not saying that the Irish have saved their season - because there's nothing to be saved at this point - but I do believe this is a sign that this team still has life and can rack up a few more wins before the season is over.

Next week the Irish face #4 Boston College in South Bend, followed by #10 (really?!) USC. The last time Notre Dame was #1, BC managed to stroll into South Bend and knock the Irish off of their perch. Maybe the Irish can return the favor on Saturday. USC just got beat at home by Stanford (suddenly that final game doesn't look so easy) and definitely has it's flaws. Plus, the last time a heavily favored USC team came to Notre Dame, they needed the Bush Push to beat the Irish. Sure, both of these games could turn into three touchdown blowouts but if the breaks go the right way the Irish could keep them close enough to pull out a miracle - especially if the defense is able to play the way they did against UCLA.

Of course, I'm probably just on a high from the win. Or maybe the win just gave me hope. That's all we really have, right?