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one sad ending

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I had high hopes for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I really did. The previous series by creator Aaron Sorkin, The West Wing, is at the top of my favourite TV show list, even surviving Sorkin’s departure, lasting a full seven seasons. Studio 60, on the other hand, was cancelled after just one season. As with The West Wing, Ireland is not far behind the USA; there, the last episode went out about ten days ago, while I’ve just seen the penultimate episode here. The following might be considered a “spoiler”, so stop reading if you expect to see it later.

There is still one episode after tonight’s episode K&R Part III, and I’ll watch it, but it’s over for me. It was refreshing to see a Christian character on a prime time show who was not some holier-than-thou stereotype, the character of Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulson). With Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet) in surgery after pre-natal complications, and Danny Tripp frantic in the hospital waiting room (Bradley Whitford, another West Wing veteran), the show was already treading uncomfortably close to soap.

That was only half the drama, because the brother of show star Tom Jeter (Nate Corddry) is being held hostage in Afghanistan, and the press are camped on the studio doorstep, prompting colleague Simon Stiles to launch a Quixotic rant in their direction, and almost lose his job as a result.

Enough drama? Not quite: in this episode, the aforementioned Harriet pushed the “no atheists in foxholes” button I had hoped the show was canny enough to avoid. Danny is tearing out what remains of his hair, as Jordan suffers complications of her complications. What does Harriet do? She offers to “teach him how to pray”.

Why do I find this offensive? It’s a modern Hollywood clichĂ©: treating religion as a “down home” value, something “real” in comparison to the “glamour” of modern life. It encourages the kind of religiously-intrusive behaviour I’ve seen for myself: preying on people in their time of need, offering delusional comfort and a distraction from their immediate concerns.

And Lo! Jordan doesn’t, well, “cross the Jordan”. She pulls through, and all is right with the world. To me, this was Studio 60’s Jump The Shark moment. If you follow the link, you’ll see how many other reasons other have to say it Jumped, but for me, that was it. I just cast my vote against “Harriet”.

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Written by brian t

July 11, 2007 at 10:45 pm

Posted in atheism, humour, television

rated arrrrrrr

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What's My Blog Rated?I’m dangerous!
(Image courtesy of Mingle2‘s Blog Rating Tool.)

Why? They’re doing some keyword matching, and the reason given was:

  • bomb (4x)
  • dangerous (2x)
  • drugs (1x)

All the “bomb” references must be those in my recent post slagging off the bombers, which was about another plot to bomb London, after the July 2005 bombings. Indeed, the front page (today) has two uses of the word “dangerous”: the first examining the risks of capture that terrorists expose themselves to, in their drive to publicise their acts; the other was regarding the religious indoctrination of children.

The drugs? Well, if I’ve passed all the tests, I will be engaged in a trial of a new Multiple Sclerosis therapy, FTY720 (fingolimod). I also have some other plans in the pipeline, but (like the trial) it’s too soon to talk about them here.

The trial is an unnecessary risk, strictly speaking, as are my other plans; way to live dangerously, dude! I don’t believe I say anything here that is unsuitable for kids, but then I wasn’t brought up in the USA, where kids would grow up totally unprepared for the real world, if their parents had their way. (Not that they always do – YouTube has many examples of failures of parental control.)

No, I’m British, from a previous generation, and all is not lost there, either. This year, the winner of the prestigious Galaxy Book Of The Year Prize was The Dangerous Book for Boys; designed to get them out from behind their computer games and out in to the world, climbing trees, fighting battles, falling into streams, and generally acting like healthy boys should. The book has just been released in the USA, with some modifications: baseball instead of cricket, General Grant instead of Lord Nelson, etcetera.

Can you tie a Reef knot? I can, but that’s about all I remember about knots. A Bowline was about as far as I got, and (I recall) the Sheepshank defeated me utterly. Granny knots, on the other hand, are not a problem. 🙄

Written by brian t

June 22, 2007 at 1:18 pm

Posted in blogging, books, culture, humour

aisles of bile

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bible superstore A strange sight from Fort Collins, Colorado, on my walk last Saturday. I didn’t go inside the “Bible Superstore”, out of respect… who am I kidding? I didn’t go in because I knew I’d be at risk of falling down laughing, and making a fool of myself. How could there be such a thing as a Bible Superstore? I can just imagine the layout:

  • Aisle 1: Bibles
  • Aisle 2: Bibles
  • Aisle 7: Bibles
  • Aisle 8: Bibles
  • Aisle 9: Bible Study
  • Aisle 10: School Books (Intelligent Design)

On Sunday I moved to Denver from Fort Collins, and on Monday I took a flying visit to Colorado Springs by Greyhound Bus. From the bus station I grabbed a cab to my company’s offices; the cabbie looked like Jerry Garcia, and we got talking about Colorado Springs, since it was my first time there. When I asked about Springs’ reputation as a very Christian town, with churches visible everywhere, it was like setting a fire under him. He was what you can call a pantheist, meaning he had a general belief in a “universal power”, but he’d given up on organized religion many years before that. The recent scandals in the town, involving Ted Haggard of the 14,000-strong New Life Church, had made world headlines (such as CNN), and to the cabbie this was just the latest confirmation of his opinion that organized religion is morally bankrupt.

I spent the day with my North American counterparts and their manager, who are about the only people left in a cavernous office floor. Cubicle after cubicle of beige and brown, desks gathering dust, chairs upended, the carpet in the aisles grubby and faded. It was a beautiful day outside, so we all walked down the hill to a barbecue joint, where I had another huge but tasteless sandwich. (If the bread, meat and cheese have no taste, no volume of condiments can make a great sandwich!)

My presence seemed to bring out the worst in my colleagues, in a good way – if that makes any sense. They had a new face to pour out their troubles to, all the while keeping up a brave sense of humour that would not be out of place in a Dilbert cartoon. I got even more of the same from their manager, who took me back in to central Colorado Springs and joined me for dinner and a beer. (I had a nicely microbrewed oatmeal stout and a huge “Chicken Gringo” concoction, with cornbread and potato wedges, that I couldn’t finish.)

As I Twittered in from the bus station, on the way back to Denver: it was one of those days that confirms your suspicions and fears. My US colleagues feel just as threatened as we in Europe do, and as isolated and frozen out of the “career path” in my company. For most of the day I was just someone to talk to, a role I’m happy to play if it helps, and this time I’m sure it did. The manager treated me as an equal, and clearly needed someone to help him make some sense of what is going on.

My qualms about the my employer’s plans seem to be well-justified. I am not going mad, and neither are those colleagues of mine with similar concerns. I can’t really say any more, but what I can say is that there are changes coming my way this year. I’ve learned things I might not be supposed to know, but the effect will be to give me more time to prepare.

The last couple of days in Denver were a mix of gonzo walks and lazing around in my nice hotel room. I will say some more later, but right now I have an ice hockey game to go to, so I need to get my skates on.

Written by brian t

March 15, 2007 at 12:04 am

Posted in america, humour, religion, work

flogging a dead donkey

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Sometimes a writing idea takes on a life of its own; that is what happened earlier this evening, when I read about the Contrarianism Blog-A-Thon underway at Jim Emerson’s Scanners blog. Jim is a veteran writer and film critic, whose position as editor or RogerEbert.com means he is filling in while Ebert is away recovering from illness. Those are mighty big shoes to fill, so I’m surprised he has time for this. 8)

A few hours later, my Contrarian Contribution is called jackassism: a revisionist re-interpretation of MTV’s Jackass show and its spinoffs as a modern instantiation of the Situationist International, with added Method acting.

It’s as loony and contrarian as it sounds, but reflects my overall position on modern art and culture: there may be madness in the method, but the results can transcend the expected, especially in relation to the intentions of the creator. When there is a direct correspondence between the intentions and the results, it lessens the overall effect. Interesting things can happen in the space between idea and application, between thought and deed, between question and answer.

The link is on the right, under “culture”. If you’re tempted to reply that there’s more culture at the back of your fridge, I’m not going to argue…

Written by brian t

February 17, 2007 at 2:18 am

Posted in culture, humour, movies

gayband! gayband!

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News just in: a Christian website has published a list of “gay bands”, here. Besides the grammatical error – some are solo artists, not bands – the list makes for hilarious reading. The author appears to be listing bands submitted by readers, without further examination.

There are artists on the list who are gay, and bands that have gay members, which is to be expected: Erasure, k d lang, Judas Priest, Depeche Mode. Others listed are completely off the mark: Motörhead, Eminem, Björk, Jay-Z, Nickelback. I’m surprised AC/DC aren’t on the list; the least gay band in the world, formed in suburban Sydney, Australia, by teenagers completely unaware what that name meant in the red light district.

Now, while I’m not a fan of “camp”, of the type displayed by the Village People, Erasure, and more recently the Scissor Sisters, I’m still not convinced that has any influence on the listener’s sexuality at all. In other cases, you wouldn’t know an artist was gay unless he or she pointed it out. Certainly, people had suspicions about Rob Halford for years, given his fondness for leather and studs on stage, but I would never have outed k d lang, a singer I quite like, since her music isn’t anywhere near as risquĂ© to my ears as that of her fellow Canadian, Joni Mitchell.

It’s all a little pointless, and a particularly American view of the world. I wish all these Yankee moralizers would stop and read their own country’s Constitution. Take particular note of the part guaranteeing all citizens, of any particular curvature, the inalienable right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Written by brian t

January 29, 2007 at 2:18 am

Posted in humour, music

money walks

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I work at an IT company with multiple divisions that are subject to ongoing reorganisations and reshuffles. They also, apparently, in competition with each other. This year the effective result is that the people in the division I belong to are being given a bonus half the value of that given to the people in other divisions. Poor financial results are to blame.

Never mind that my division, through the work we do, subsidises the other divisions. We provide support to customers even when there is no lucrative contract involved, sold or prospective. That translates to better sales that appear on the bottom lines of the other divisions, not ours.

The bonus will be hitting my bank account just before Christmas, and while I don’t know the exact amount yet, I have a rough idea, and it’s already accounted for. Travel costs for my upcoming trip are a large part of it, along with the phone I bought last month and a couple of other things.

At least I’m not in debt: the reason I’m thinking about money this evening is the following page on b3ta.com: debt pr0n. Various people tell their stories about debt problems, and while most are humorous – it’s that kind of site – there is still something horrifying about the blasĂ© attitude shown by some towards huge debts. I counted at least three who ran up huge student debts and absconded, to Spain or Australia.

On a more serious note the news, here in Ireland and in the UK, carries regular warnings on the levels of debt people are getting in to: this story from BBC News is one example. It’s even becoming a political issue, with the Conservative Party encouraging fiscal responsibility by telling people to “ignore the tosser in you“.

I’m in the best financial shape I’ve ever been in, which makes it doubly ludicrous that I’m a long way from being able to afford a permanent residence in Ireland, at least not in a place that I could actually travel to or from. More debt I’m in no hurry to take on.

I have a roof over my head at the moment; whether I do in a few hours time is a question of a different order. The weather forecast here, tonight, predicts storm force winds of up to 80 mph. Should be quite a blast.

Written by brian t

December 2, 2006 at 11:00 pm

Posted in humour, life, work

demotivations

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flight #1

flight #2

gravity

It’s the return of the PlaneMash! More will be uploaded, I just need to convert some images to JPG format.

Written by brian t

August 30, 2006 at 11:47 pm

Posted in humour, internet