Friday, May 1, 2009

Loving and Hating ‘24’

Pardon me while I go off on another topic for a moment:

This season was supposed to be different. Or so we were led to believe. Either the formula or the crisis would be different, and the writers took the extra time off to re-tool the series. But in the end, we’ve been fed little more than a regurgitation of past seasons. And I have to confess, I’ve enjoyed quite a bit of it. But first, let’s take stock in what has been different about 24 this season:
• We’re in Washington DC instead of Culver City, CA. Finally.
• It’s the FBI instead of CTU. That adds a little punch to it.

I think that’s it, other than the 2-hour opener which was pretty cool. Let’s see what’s been the same as most other seasons of 24:
• When there’s a crisis threatening our nation, there are only about 3-4 agents in the entire country that we can turn to
• Jack never needs to eat or use the restroom (and I think I’m generally okay with this, but just once I’d like to see them cut back to Bauer at the FBI just as he’s returning from the lieu)
• Jack nearly dies in an awfully slow and painful way
• The President is either completely noble or completely insane
• The President’s family is completely insane, and yet he/she insists on hiring them and consulting with them during the nation’s most trying moment
• The President’s family is embroiled in scandal and murder, tangentially related to the crisis itself
• There is a mole, followed by another mole, followed by another mole - I'm just waiting for them to bring Nina back before this season ends
• The enemy isn’t a Muslim extremist group, but instead is a bunch of rich white American dudes
• Some innocent Muslim will be wrongfully punished, either by the gov’t or the real bad guys

When you tally it up, 24 seems to be just one big con job. It’s almost the same thing every season, with maybe a few new characters and a new President. How do I continue to fall for this? I guess I fall for it because it delivers so well on a few things, the same things that have carried me this season:
• The issue of torture. I mean, they probably wrote most of the show several months ago, but they hit a bullseye on reflecting our national dialogue over this issue. The best exchange this season was between Agent Moss and Agent Bauer:
Moss: “The rules make us better, Jack”
Bauer: “Not today”
This is the exchange I hope takes place if/when the next 9/11 comes to our doorstep. We all hope that, right? Rules are great and all, until we find out some terrorist group has a plan to kill us. Then we take a temporary moratorium on the rules, right?
• Jack’s escape from the FBI, about episode 5 or so. Pretty awesome stuff. 24’s action scenes are movie-quality.
• Chloe

And finally, this season's biggest weakness, and probably the main cause for my disappointment: Tony Almeida. I guess he's the anti-Jack Bauer now, kind of like the black Spiderman. We can't trust him, his loyalties are all over the place, blah blah blah. I never liked the actor, never cared much for the character, and now they've robbed our trust by bringing him back to life from a few seasons back. Yeah, it's a commonly-used old TV trick, and frankly I hate it. Because on a show like 24, I now have to see a character dismembered before I believe he/she is really dead. Thanks 24 writers, I no longer trust you. I guess we should be prepared for Tony's annoying wife to return in the near future.

Anyway, I’m too invested at this point to cut out, but I’m pretty sure it’s my last season. Who’s with me?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Unfair Advantage?

When I was two weeks old, the doctor that delivered me identified an abnormality in one of my kidneys. Upon closer inspection, he discovered that I had a deformed kidney, and that it had to be removed immediately. So I've gone 35 years now on one kidney. (Which reminds me, I remember when I was preparing to go to Argentina for a couple of years in the mid 90's that I had a routine X-Ray of my upper torso, and the technician pulled me aside to inform me that I was missing a kidney. So I can confirm there's still vacant territory in my lower left abdomen).

Anyway, I bring this up in full disclosure to say that it's POSSIBLE that having one kidney might mean that I have a slower metabolism as far as processing liquids goes, and that this blog should be renamed to something else. Amazing But Slow Kidney?

On the other hand, maybe the one-kidney thing is an independent issue, and in fact I really do have an amazing bladder. I hestitate to say that it's a large bladder, I'm not aware as to where it fits in the human distribution. If there is ever a doctor or medical student that reads this and decides that having one kidney is playing a role here, than maybe I'll cut my airmiles in half or something. Meanwhile, let's press forward with the assumption that this is all still an "amazing achievement."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Are you Joey?

Joey (adj.):

1. behaving in a manner slightly more serious than the situation calls for.
2. to be overly earnest, interested, and/or involved in a subject, lifestyle, or endeavor.
3. displaying sincere and often comical reverence towards a particular subject.
4. the event that a song, phrase, movie, or any other object can exhibit a state of being more serious or reverent than is probably necessary.

First conceptualized under a different name in the late 1970’s by the Willard Family of Tucson, Arizona, and revived in the mid-1980’s, “joey” has enjoyed a phenomenal rise in usage over the last two decades. Frequent and appropriate use of the term was practiced by 4 people during the first years of the ’80’s. Now, roughly 20 years later, the term is used correctly by at least 100 people, and incorrectly by as many as 17.

“Joey” came to being while the Willards spent their pre-teen years in Boy Scouts. Ever a breeding ground for Joey activity and Joey traditions, Scouting provided for the Willard boys a few clear models of what Joey is about. Unbeknownst to many of the other Scouts involved, we often referred to those who knew all the rites and customs of Scouting as “Joe Scouts”. This included the attainment of many merit badges, wearing the merit badge sash at Scout meetings, and knowing every rope knot that is needed in a pinch. A Joe Scout would often show up at the most informal of gatherings dressed in the proper Scouting garb.
From this experience stemmed many other uses of the term Joey, or the prefix Joe. One could be Joey in just about any form of hobby or endeavor. There are Joe Accountants, Joe Statisticians,and even Joe Skateboarders. Provided one’s behavior matches the criteria specified in the above definition, they could be accurately accused of Joey at just about any time. This is not to say that Joey is necessarily an undesirable state, although the accusation is most often meant as such.

From Los Angeles to New York to as far away as Mexico and Mozambique, “joey” is establishing itself as an indespensable term for either mockery or empirical identification. It is the hope of the creators that this term will soon enter into the universal lexicon with its intended definition and usage.

At a very early age, my friend Brett (shown left) was about as joey as you can be.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Opening Post

I have never used an airplane lavatory. On a recent flight back from Oakland, I told this to a co-worker of mine who was flying with me. His reaction, in a Spanish accent (he's from Spain), was: "wow ... that is an amazing achievement!" I was struck by that word - achievement. Is it? You be the judge.

That's what this blog is about. I will expound on this in future posts, but for now just know that I have flown to the following places from the southwestern United States:
* Buenos Aires, Argentina
* Managua, Nicaragua
* Tahiti
* Lima, Peru
* Cancun, Mexico
* Hawaii (twice)
* New York (5-10 times)
* Chicago (10-15 times)
* Miami (3-4 times)
* Seattle (3-4 times)
* Portland
* Austin
* Lubbock
* Denver

I can't remember any other long flights, but mix with that probably another 30-50 flights between Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, San Jose, San Francisco, etc. I repeat, at no time have I ever used an airplane lavatory. My knowledge of airplane lavatories is limited to that scene in Tommy Boy.

Consider this a blog about my lavatory-free travels, though I may chime in on other issues occasionally. I'm thinking about keeping a tally of airmiles, or maybe just the number of flights while holding successfully. We'll see.