Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mad Meh, Stand Your Ground, and Golf

A Little Language Usage Complaint
I'm not sure how you would define the phrase "Stand Your Ground," but to me it doesn't mean "seek out people who seem threatening, chase them down, confront them, and then shoot them in 'self-defense.'"  But maybe I'm quibbling about nuance...

Oh golf. You're so nice to look at.
What High Definition Was Made For
This past weekend The Colleague was visiting friends in San Francisco, where rather than party it up and lose her purse, as has happened before in that town, she took the time to muse about motherhood and social responsibility, which you can (should) read about here.

But while she was there I had The Shack to myself, and for the first time in several years I sat down and watched a round of golf on television. Now I know most people think watching golf on TV is the equivalent of whatever else they find boring and pointless, but I love it. And in high definition on a big TV? Oh yeah. That's the stuff.

It's also true that golf is just more fun to watch when Tiger Woods is playing. Yeah he's a dick and he screwed his life up pretty massively. I would have been surprised if he didn't. He's really, really fun to watch play. And if we keep watching long enough, he's going to finally snap and murder someone on the course for taking his picture during a backswing. Set your DVR to CBSHD, the Masters is coming up.

Pete Campbell going dark? I'd watch that.
The Colleague and I sat down to watch the first episode of the new Mad Men season. Not live. On DVR. We're not cave people.

I don't know if we just weren't paying as much attention last time the show was on, but since their long hiatus, they seem to have gotten sloppy. Every couple of minutes we would look at each other as if to say, "Did you just see that?" I had a running list of grievances in my head as we watched. An awkward voice dub here, poorly delivered lines there, sloppy editing everywhere. And really lazy writing. Really. Lazy.

The "return" episode was slotted for two hours, so they had about 1:45 to work with. But they didn't need it. There were at least a dozen unnecessary cut scenes or speeches that seemed only to be there to make sure a character had a certain amount of screen time. And nothing happened! In the few opportunities the writers had to create some drama or conflict, they backed off, and the result was that the whole episode just sort of flat-lined its way along. Yawn. The only saving grace for me is that Pete Campbell (played by Vincent Kartheiser) is emerging as the most compelling character on the show. If the writers don't start using his character to give the show its dark edge back, they are missing out on a golden opportunity. Honestly, he's the only character I find interesting on a show that in its first two seasons was full of cool characters. There's hope that Betty (January Jones) will come back (she wasn't in episode one at all) and continue to devolve into insanity. Does anyone else think she is a rather terrible actor? Or is that just me? I digress.

This is season five of the show, and I have a bad feeling about it. My theory is that shows like Mad Men have a good three season window and after that the wheels start coming off. Compare Deadwood (three total seasons) to The Sopranos (six seasons). Deadwood ended before it lost its momentum. The Sopranos beat us about the head and neck with blunt storylines and dream sequences, long lost relatives, and all sorts of crazy shit. Season 4 was questionable. It became unwatchable in season 5.

For the record, I loved Deadwood. The Colleague never liked it. So use that information before you go out and buy the DVD set. Also for the record, the production value of both shows is far and above what we get on Mad Men. Deadwood was downright stunning to watch.

So for Mad Men, when the writers run out of their planned character arcs and start killing people off or bringing in long-lost relatives and whatnot, you will know they are sliding. I expect this season to slide into melodramatic crap. But I'm willing to give it a shot because...well it's Mad Men.

I'm also willing to give it a try because our harshest household critic, The Colleague, made a solid point after we finished watching episode one. After the long hiatus, the writers had to treat this episode much like a pilot, reintroducing characters and story lines, but they also had to skip ahead in time while keeping some continuity with where they left off. No easy task. The Draper kids have grown, history has moved along (which they tried to show with the inclusion of race riots and protests), and characters have matured since we last saw them. So the staff had a big challenge on their hands. I think they messed it up. But time will tell. They have at least one more season of Mad Men cocktail parties to support.

All Toenails Go to Heaven
The only long term injury I suffered at the Chuckanut 50k was one dead toenail on my right foot. Well, that and whatever damage I am doing to my relationships by spending so much damn time running in preparation for my next event...

One Way Winter is Better than Spring
There is no way you can convince me that a "spring beer" is interesting. Winter beers I can get onboard with. Spring beers? What the hell is a spring beer? Most of them are Nut Brown Ales with some sort of catchy name (Red Hook's apparently defunk "Mudslinger" was a decent name for a terrible beer).


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