Tuesday, December 27, 2005

5 TV shows to watch marathon-style on DVD

I love TV shows on DVD. The world's few great TV shows are best appreciated in 12-hour marathons. Also, watching TV shows on DVD provides maximum flexibility--even if you're not sure you have the time or attention span for a 2-hour movie, you can probably manage a 22- or 44-minute tv show. If you find that you're in the mood for more, you can watch another. Before you know it, you've wasted your entire weekend. Awesome.

So, when you're ready to put on some lounging clothes, order a pizza, and settle in for a few dozen hours of lazy happiness, here are my suggestions for what to watch:

1. Sports Night. This 2-season comedy/drama about the staff of a Sportscenter-style show was great. It's an Aaron Sorkin show, and it has the same complex and witty dialogue and the same earnestness as the West Wing. Somehow, I like it even more than the West Wing, despite my love of politics and hatred of sports. Everyone involved in it still talks about it as one of their greatest experiences. Watch it.

2. Profit. This show aired for 6 episodes or so in 1996, but people have been talking about it ever since. It's about a deeply disturbed and evil guy who screws people over as he takes control of a huge corporation. He's a terrible person, but he's so charming and smart that you root for him anyway. It's very dark, and it probably would have been more successful had it aired on HBO or Showtime. It was ahead of its time.

3. Newsradio. Probably the best sitcom ever, certainly the most underrated. Great ensemble cast, especially Phil Hartman and Dave Foley. The first set (seasons 1 & 2) has commentary on almost every episode.

4. Kids in the Hall. The greatest sketch comedy show ever (or at least since Monty Python.) I watched it with my friends in college, and half of our conversation was conducted in Kids in the Hall quotes.

5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This was the first show I ever watched for the first time on DVD. I'm not much of a sci-fi/horror/fantasy/vampire lover, but the supernatural backdrop increases the intensity of the soap opera elements, which I do love. Also, Joss Whedon has a flair for entertaining dialogue. Seasons 1, 2, and 3 are nearly perfect. Seasons 4 and 5 are good. Seasons 6 and 7...well, once you've watched that far, you're going to watch them. And season 6 has the brilliant musical episode.

Honorable mentions: Corner Gas, Freaks and Geeks, The West Wing, Queer as Folk (U.S.), Soap.

Happy watching!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Happy Boxing Day!

It's December 26th, and it's Boxing Day in the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. My U.S. readers may not know that Boxing Day exists. Even some Canadians may be vague on the details--when I was in Vancouver near Christmas a few years ago and asked a Canadian about it, he said he didn't know much about it except that department stores had Boxing Day sales. So I did a little research.

Basically, Boxing Day originated as a day on which to give money or stuff to the less fortunate. According to one theory, it began as a tradition of giving boxes of food to servants as a sort of early Christmas tip. According to another, it comes from the tradition of opening the locked box of church donations for the needy on Christmas, then distributing them the following day.

Today, Boxing Day is celebrated with after-Christmas sales, sporting events (particularly in England), acts of charity, and gatherings with friends and family.

I think Boxing Day sounds just swell, and we in the U.S. should start observing it. I particularly like the idea that, after you get a bunch of stuff for Christmas, you turn around and give a bunch of stuff to people who need it more than you do.

This site gives you five steps to celebrating boxing day. The Wikipedia article about Boxing Day is here. This site explores some myths about Boxing Day and some different theories of its origins.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Adoptee rights revisited

A woman who gave up her child for adoption 18 years ago recently commented on my Adoptee Rights post. Her perspective is interesting, and not one I see brought up often; I encourage everyone who was interested in the issue to check it out. Also, she addresses adoption and birth parent issues on her own blog, Musings of the Lame. Thanks to her for her personal perspective.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Am I getting too close to the truth about chemtrails?

I just noticed that someone from the United States Government (domain "senate.gov") came to my blog using the search terms "chemtrails & first" and stayed on my blog for 2 minutes and 54 seconds. What's going on here? Am I under surveillance?

If you're from the government and you're watching me, please read this: I don't really think you're spraying us with mind-control chemicals. I posted that because I thought it was ludicrous. And if you are, more power to you. I'm sure you know what's best for us. Also, I don't really think George Bush is a reptilian shapeshifter. But if he is, that's just great too. Whatever.

Next Blogs of the Week: TV blogs

In a recent trip around the NextBlogosphere, I came across two notable television-related blogs.

The first is Give Me My Remote. The author watches TV and blogs about it. I was drawn to the site because she, like me, has a bit of an obsession with The Office (US) and, in particular, John Krasinski (Jim). She also seems to be more in the know than your average blogspotter, because she has scored an interview with one of the show's stars and is asking readers to submit questions. She also likes Lost, Prison Break, and Veronica Mars.

The second is TV Oracle. The author blogs about TV but is planning to expand to other forms of pop culture as well. TV Oracle has daily TV highlights right on the front page, so you'll never miss important events like the premiere of "Superstar Weddings Gone Bad." They also have some TV show reviews--and they do not like The Colbert Report.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Worst Christmas Song Ever

I have recently heard the worst holiday song in the history of holiday songs. It may be the worst song in the history of songs, period. It's called "The Christmas Shoes." Here's the chorus.

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size

Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time

You see she's been sick for quite a while

And I know these shoes would make her smile

And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight

That is just so wrong. Wrong. Ick. Why would you want to hear that, ever? Yet I have heard it twice in the last two days on the Christmas station. Horrible, horrible, horrible. Want to hear the whole, horrifically depressing story of this kid and his dying mom? The full lyrics are here.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Pen testimonial

I have found the greatest pen ever, and I want to share my joy with you.

I have trouble with pens. Ball-point pens are nice because they don't have wet, smeary ink, but you have to press down hard for them to work. On the other hand, gel pens are very easy to write with, but they are very smeary and messy. I realize that more expensive pens might solve this problem, but I have a tendency to lose them, so I'm sticking with the disposable ones.

This week, I found the answer to my pen problems: The Uni-ball Jetstream. It claims to have a "new hybrid ink" and to be "smooth like a gel" but "quick drying like a ball point." And those claims are 100% true! I will never use anything else.

Unfortunately, I've already lost the pen. If you find it in the law school, let me know.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The War on Christmas hits home

Fishfrog has recently posted about the supposed "War on Christmas" here and here, so it' s been on my mind. I used to think that the idea of a War on Christmas was stupid. If your religion's big problem is that Target clerks don't mention your holiday as explicitly as you'd like when you buy toilet paper, you don't have much to complain about.

But now I realize that the War on Christmas crowd has a point.

As I said in my last post, I'm a big fan of Christmas songs. Specifically, I'm a fan of traditional Christmas carols, because they are awesome; I generally find modern pop-holiday songs annoying, because they are. While listening to the all-holiday music station for three hours yesterday, I heard only ONE traditional song, Hark the Herald Angels Sing. However, I heard each of the following songs at least twice: Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Sleigh Ride, Winter Wonderland, and Jingle Bell Rock.

What is going on here? I thought I lived in a Christian country! What good is electing the religious right if I have to listen to ACLU-sanctioned, secular crap like Hilary Duff singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" on the public airwaves? I'm being oppressed, and I'm not going to stand for it.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Holiday Song Poll

I love Christmas songs. I'm sitting here listening to the all-Christmas-song radio station, which I love, even if I question their decision to play "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney every 15 minutes.

I am waiting and hoping for them to play my own favorite songs. What are they, you ask? Here they are:

Traditional: Joy to the World. There are so many reasons to love this song. It's easy for most people to sing, so it sounds really good even in a group of untrained singers. Its message and tone are happy (joyous, even). It's also very satisfying to play on the piano, with lots of big slamming chords that are easy but sound cool. Also, I know all three verses.

Nontraditional: Baby, It's Cold Outside (Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald version). This is not even remotely about a holiday, but it's about cold weather, so they play it at this time of year and it counts. It's an a duet between a couple about whether the girl should go home at the end of the evening. ("I really can't stay..." "But baby, it's cold outside.") The singing in this version is really beautiful and charming. It's also incredibly fun to sing.

So what are your favorite holiday songs, traditional and nontraditional, and why? This is not a contest, but if you pick awesome songs or reasons, I will compliment you.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Earthquakes, actual and predicted

Just over 15 years ago, a pseudoscientist named Iben Browning predicted that on December 3rd, 1990, a massive earthquake would hit the New Madrid fault in southeastern Missouri. The prediction caused mass hysteria. People bought earthquake insurance, news stations did stories about standing in doorways, and many of my classmates stayed home from school, "just in case."

The prediction, while silly and baseless, did bring something surprising to the attention of midwesterners: the largest earthquakes ever to hit the contiguous United States occurred along the New Madrid fault.

In 1811 and 1812, three earthquakes believed to be over 8.0 on the Richter scale occurred with epicenters in or near southeastern Missouri. They are said to have caused the Mississippi River to run backwards and were felt as far away as Massachusetts. Seismologists predict that another large earthquake will hit the area in the next few decades.

Want to read more? This is a site with a brief description of the New Madrid fault and links to eyewitness accounts of the 1811-1812 quakes. This is an article by a guy reflecting on the 1990 prediction hysteria. Want to read a lot more about Browning's prediction? The USGS will mail you a free 248-page report (!) about the incident.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The secret to getting more blog traffic

Of the last 100 visitors to scarlet panda, ten got here by doing google or msn searches. The searches are listed below.

genetics calico cats
dissecting a fly
body temperature of panda
jewkraine (the author of the "My Heart is Like Glass" blog I posted about last week)
fahrenheit 0 solution
reptile DNA and the Illuminati
secret reptilian members
david icke shape shifting reptilian humanoids
reptilian shape shifters (2 times)

The moral of the story: if you want more blog traffic, liberally add references to shapeshifting reptiles.