Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I've been watching old episodes of Frasier recently and I can't help wondering, what happened with clever, witty comedy?  Judd Apatow and whoever was responsible for the American Pie movies have relegated movie comedy to purely lowest common denominator.  Nothing but juvenile, low brow sex and fart jokes with some drug humor thrown in.  Movies have become a race to the bottom where, I imagine, the directors end filming not with the traditional 'cut' but instead 'the Aristocrats!'.  Judd Apatow is the worst thing to happen to comedy since the laugh track.

Which brings me to television comedy.  The majority of shows seem to fall into the category of formulaic sitcoms.  Stereotypical characters (who come across more as caricatures) getting themselves into ridiculous situations followed by forced laughter from a presumably drugged studio audience.  Throw in some outlandish characters doing off the wall things (i.e. Tracy Morgan's character on 30 Rock), some characters with funny sounding names (the entire premise of the now cancelled Outsourced), and a guy with funny hair and glasses (see The IT Crowd) and you've got yourself a show.  I'm reminded of Ricky Gervais' character on the show Extras - his dreams seemingly come true as he gets the opportunity to star in his own sitcom but soon turns into self loathing as the network turns his character into a guy with a funny wig and glasses shouting catch phrases.  This excerpt from Extras between Ricky Gervais' character (Andy Millman) and his agent just about sums it up:

Andy Millman: It's bad.
Agent: It's not BAD, is it.
Andy Millman: It is.
Agent: No, "bad" suggests that, you know, it's evil or something. You know, it's not - It's poor... it's rubbish... you know, it's shit - it's a shit sitcom.
Andy Millman: It's a shitcom! Oh, we've sorted that out, thanks very much. That's the career over.
Agent: That's what one of the reviewers said!
And while I'm thinking about it, I have to throw in this clip of David Bowie on the show. 

Even shows like the Big Bang Theory which started out clever have devolved into your standard relationship jokes which have been done a thousand times before on a thousand other shows.  The main characters are supposed to be brilliant physicists, but I saw a recent episode where they spent 3 or 4 straight minutes making erection jokes.  I believe that's jumped the shark.  And I won't even get started on the steady decline of the Simpsons or the re-introduction of Futurama which has been nothing short of a disaster. 

So I guess my question is this:  is comedy dead?  Is this the fallout from the writers strike a couple years ago?  Is there some other reason behind the death of comedy?  I'm hoping for something fresh and original to come along, but instead I'll just have to settle for the resurrection of Arrested Development and hope it doesn't let me down too. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Since blowing up my knee, I have gotten terribly out of shape.  Yes, a lot of it has been that, for months exercise was impossible, and after that difficult and painful for quite some time.  But a lot of it has also been laziness.  When you are this out of shape, you have less energy and exercise requires more effort. Frequently I get home from work and can't seem to summon the effort to spend an hour in the gym.  Thus I've enacted phase 1 of my new plan. 

I've started getting up early every morning to get a half hour on the exercise bike before heading off to work.  This is difficult for me since I already have a hard time getting up in the morning, and getting up earlier is a burden.  Regardless, this plan went into effect on Wednesday, and after 3 days I thought I was going to die when the alarm clock went off.  Exercising when you're low on energy after a long day is one thing, but exercising when you're half asleep is quite another.  Wednesday and Thursday I pushed through, but by Friday I managed to spend 5 minutes on the exercise bike before I started thinking about calling in sick and going back to bed.  I'm going to try to keep up this regimen, however if it is going to be successful I'm going to have to start getting to sleep earlier which will be difficult. 

The plan is not to replace evening exercising with morning exercise, but to augment it.  I figure that getting the cardio out of the way in the mornign will free me up to focus more on weights and ab toning in the evenings.  And a second round of cardio until I can burn off enough pounds that I feel better and sleep better.  I've never been a fan of jogging - it is torment - and a bad knee just makes it that much worse.  So I've been focusing on the elliptical trainer and exercise bike instead.  I try to get a minimum of 30 minutes and 3 miles on the elliptical, or 30 minutes and 10 miles on the bike, and despite the hate I try to get on the treadmill at least once a week, even if only for a half mile. Usually I finish with a soaked shirt and a puddle of sweat on the floor. 

Ultimately the goal is to lose 30 pounds - I'm about 200 right now and it's a lot of effort hauling around that much weight.  If I can get it done in 4 months I'll be happy.  Staying motivated is the hard part.  And eating better.  I can't seem to keep a healthy diet going for more than a month at a stretch. 

On a tangent, I realized that the recent rash of injuries started after cutting my hair.  No sooner than the long hair is gone and I start falling apart and spending all my time in hospitals and physical therapy.  I never headed the warning of the story of Samson.  And what's worse, I don't get the benefit of a Delilah to pleasure me before dragging me down.  I did all this to myself.  And growing the hair back won't put humpty dumpty back together again, and I have my doubts that it will halt further crippling.  It's just going to be a slow, steady decline from here on out.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

On the eve of the Superbowl, I've realized that I truly dislike both teams. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are completely unlikeable, not to mention that thought of the most loathsome people in the world - Bostonians - celebrating makes my stomach turn. I'm not sure why I dislike the Giants, I guess because Eli Manning comes across as a bit smug and I have left over hatred from when Bill Parcells was coach.  Maybe I hate all coaches named Bill.  Come to think of it, I didn't care much for Bill Walsh either.  Where was I?  Oh yes, unfortunately both teams can't lose, so the real losers end up being America and football fans worldwide.  And so it is that I find myself think of things other than the big game.  Specifically I find myself thinking of technology - what the next step in football technology should be.

Visors have become pretty commonplace in both the NFL and college.  Maybe high school too, I don't know.

I think these visors should be combined with a heads up display to allow coaches or the quarterback to call audibles and have the play pop up on all player's visors.  No huddle offenses and two minute drills would be easier to run and more exciting.  Noise would be less of a problem, so some teams may have a problem with losing home field advantage, but this will be implemented eventually, so why fight it?  The technology exists now, so I'm looking forward to some team making this happen.  Paul Allen is a tech guy, he should outfit the Seahawks with this next season.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Andrew Luck

Everyone is fawning over Andrew Luck, and will for at least the next several months, and for good reason.  All I ask is that you please shave that horrible beard before you step on stage in front of a national audience to accept that Indianapolis Colts jersey. 

Every time I see you, Mr. Luck, I'm reminded of the creepy neighbor kid from the Burbs. 

If teams begin to suspect you have a furnace in your basement that you use to dispose of the bodies of hobos you've murdered, it might hurt your draft stock.