Saturday, September 10

The CDP Fall TV Preview.

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Don't know what shows to check out this fall? Here's a rundown of what the CDP will be watching. The TiVo will be smoldering every night during that all-important prime-time hour (7-10pm), and your best bets are right hither.

NOTE: Friends, family and work will do nothing but get between you and your precious television, so don't let them tell you otherwise. If they got the chance, they would kidnap and murder your TV just as soon as look at you. Protect and nurture your television. After all, look at all the wonderful things it has done for you. The moon landing, Lee Harvey Oswald, Cop Rock. It's your only true friend, and it will never leave you for another. Keep it dusted and shiny, free of fingerprints and CBS. Love your TV like it loves you, and never let it go, not even for a second.

(The selected shows are mostly milked directly from the 6-network teat, with one or two cable shows sprinkled within. All times central.)


7:00 - Arrested Development (FOX) (Starts 9/19)
8:00 - Monday Night Football (ABC) (Starts 9/12)
9:00 - Cheap Seats (ESPNC) (Starts 9/19)
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You have to hand it to FOX. They're not making too much money with Arrested Development, but after an Emmy win and a rabid fan base, they're giving it the lead-off spot on Monday night. Season 3 will pick up right where season 2 left off: complete freakin' chaos. This is the smartest, funniest, most well-written 30 minutes on TV; certainly the best since Seinfeld. If the cast of Arrested Development did a cameo appearance on the island with the cast of Lost, my brain would explode.

Al Michaels and John "Complete Drunk" Madden return for the 94th season of Monday Night Football. The fact that they air this at 8pm means that it always runs until midnight, so it's sort of a pain to have a Packer game on a Monday night. Fortunately, nobody cares but me.

Saying that Cheap Seats is the most popular show on ESPN Classic isn't really saying much. In fact, a lot of you are saying, "Do I even get ESPN Classic? Does it really exist?" All you need to know about Cheap Seats is that it's like Mystery Science Theater 3000 with bad sports programming instead of bad sci-fi movies. After a shaky second season (which featured a terribly unfunny live studio audience), the Sklar brothers return to mock sporting events like the Scrabble championships, spelling bees and arm-wrestling tournaments. It's funny, it really is.


7:00 - Cops (COURT) (Starts 9/13)
8:00 - House (FOX) (Starts 9/13)
8:00 - My Name Is Earl (NBC) (Starts 9/20)
8:00 - Supernatural (WB) (Starts 9/13)
8:30 - The Office (NBC) (Starts 9/20)

9:00 - Seinfeld (TBS) (Starts 9/13)
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Put on your favorite mustard-stained wife beater and settle in with an hour of Cops at 7. These are just reruns, but it's really the best thing going for that time slot.

House returns for a second season of being an ass and saving people's lives. Hugh Laurie was nominated for a Best Actor Emmy, and I think he totally deserves it. If anything, for that convincing American accent. House left us last season with the return of his former fiancee', which will no doubt give us some sexy results. Apart from that, this is a good show to jump right in to, because you don't have to really catch up on anything important. If you haven't seen this show yet, now is a really good time.

Going up against House at 8pm is My Name Is Earl, starring Jason Lee. This may or may not suck, but I'm willing to give this brand new series a shot, because I enjoy the work of Jason Lee. Through a stroke of good fortune, loser Earl decides to repent for all the bad things he's done over the years. Hilarity ensues.

Another new show that's competing against House is Supernatural. The CDP has never watched anything on the WB before, but this ghost-hunting, X-Files-esque drama actually looked pretty scary from the previews. If you can only choose one show, however, watch House.

Once again, The Office comes in at 8:30, when most of us will still be watching House. If you're not aware of the American re-make of this British series, don't bother watching it, because you won't find it funny. I'm sure there are plenty of things on CBS right now that you'll find knee-slappingly hilarious. The American version stands perfectly well by itself, and is a shining example that American comedies are starting to catch up (rip off) to the Brits.

Your best bet at 9pm is an hour of Seinfeld on TBS. This was the funniest non-animated show ever, and I can only see Arrested Development even coming close to de-throning it. You'll be amazed at how current and funny it still is.


7:00 - That 70's Show (FOX) (Starts 11/2)
8:00 - Mythbusters (DISC) (Starts 10/5)
8:00 - Lost (ABC) (Starts 9/21)

9:00 - Invasion (ABC) (Starts 9/21)
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I am completely and totally convinced that the new season of That 70's Show will suck out loud. Why wouldn't it? The last two seasons were awful, and with Topher Grace gone we're left with nothing but a funny accent to generate laughs. However, I continue to watch this show because it showed so much promise in the first few years on the air. Besides, any time that Tommy Chong can find acting work makes me happy.

Mythbusters is the best show on cable television, and this season might be their destruction. Why? Well, most of the people who watch Mythbusters watch Lost. Now that Lost is being bumped up an hour to 8pm, most people will gladly choose against Adam & Jamie. Nonetheless, Mythbusters is a show where they scientifically test out popular Urban Legends to see if they could actually hold up in reality. I go out of my way to tell everyone I know about this show, so check it out, and don't be afraid to be entertained by science and folklore.

The addictive, completely out of control ratings explosion that is LOST returns with a new time slot, and about a million unanswered questions. My next post will be devoted completely to this show, so I'll save the obsessive analysis until then.

Due to the massive popularity of Lost, there have been a lot more "supernatural" shows hitting the airwaves this season. One such knock-off is Invasion. This show takes place in the aftermath of a hurricane, so ABC hasn't been airing previews for this show anymore out of respect for the victims of hurricane Katrina. After the storm hits, things start to happen, and the brain-sucking aliens come out of the woodwork, or something to that effect. Personally, I'm not incredibly interested but I'll give it a shot, because I didn't think I would be interested in Lost, either.


7:00 - Not The O.C. (FOX) (Starts 9/15)
8:00 - Night Stalker (ABC) (Starts 9/29)

9:00 - Cheap Seats (ESPNC) (Starts 9/15)
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Kick off your Thursday night by not checking out the new season of The O.C. If you want action, romance and plot-twists galore, then I strongly recommend not watching this huge FOX hit. Last season left us with a lot of cliff-hangers, so not watching the premiere is certainly a must. If you want to catch up, I suggest you not purchase the DVDs.

Once again hoping to cash in with the success of Lost, ABC gives us yet another supernatural, ghost-hunting thriller. I think the only show Night Stalker is up against is WWE Smackdown! on UPN, so maybe it will drawn in some viewers who have nothing better to do. Like myself.

If you're into the new season of Cheap Seats (Monday), finish off Thursday night with an hour of said show's reruns. See what you missed, and go to bed knowing that watching ESPN Classic at 9pm does NOT make you the most depressing human being on the planet.


7:00 - Bernie Mac (FOX) (Starts 9/23)
7:30 - Malcolm In The Middle (FOX) (Starts 9/23)
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Teetering on the brink of cancellation for a year now, Bernie Mac returns through nothing short of a miracle. Will it recapture the intelligence of the first season, or will it become as stale and unfunny as the second season? Only the lord Jesus Christ knows for sure; and so will you if you watch it.

Malcolm in the Middle is the most underrated comedy on television. Every week now for 6 years, they throw everything in the book at you, complete with an amazing cast, Seinfeld-esque plots and absurd climaxes. No matter how weird things get on this show, it all seems possible, due to the strong acting and unflinching seriousness portrayed by the cast. I'm glad that it was finally separated from the "Animation Domination" lineup, where it can be appreciated by a different, more intelligent audience. People have always said that Malcolm was like a live-action Simpsons, and I can definitely see that.

After Malcolm, the airwaves turn into an all-night crapfest. Go out with friends or drink in the corner alone, just do something that gets you away from the television. I won't tell you what me and the Missus do together on Friday nights, but let's just say that it involves sleeping. Actually, we just sleep.


7:00 - Cops (FOX) (Starts 9/17)
8:00 - OPEN
10:30 - Saturday Night Live (NBC) (Starts 9/17)
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For their 17th straight season, Cops takes you back into the crack-whore infested nooks of America, emerging with great television to boot. The city of Madison was very excited to hear that Cops would be filming here this fall, but the deal fell through at the last minute. Nevertheless, this is a great time to see places and faces that make you happy to not be an addict. The best episode last season was "Tazed & Confused", which featured takedowns that all ended with someone getting tazed. Brilliant.

From 8 to 10:30, step away from the TV, go to the bathroom, put on a clean shirt and enjoy the evening. Drink a box of wine, kill a bum, anything that gets you out in the beautiful autumn weather. You won't miss anything on TV, I promise.

Saturday Night Live is back, and that's always a good thing. No matter how bad it gets, you'll still watch it. When I was younger, I was voted "Most Likely to Host SNL One Day." This will probably never happen, but I was admittedly a lot funnier in the 4th Grade. Hey, if Nancy Kerrigan can do it, I sure as hell can.


6:00 - America's Funniest Home Videos (ABC) (Starts 10/2)
6:30 - King Of The Hill (FOX) (Starts 9/18)
7:00 - Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC) (Starts 9/25)
7:00 - The Simpsons (FOX) (Starts 9/11)
8:00 - Family Guy (FOX) (Starts 9/11)
8:30 - American Dad (FOX) (Starts 9/11)
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(This picture is so funny, I used it twice.)

Start your night off early with the 14th year of watching grown men getting racked in the groin with baseball bats. I don't care what humor level you function at, AFV always makes me tear up with laughter. It's the idea of catching people at their most vulnerable, exposing their weaknesses, and having them be okay with it that really make me enjoy it.

King of the Hill is like a Golden Retriever. Loyal, dependable and always there when you need it. For a while, King of the Hill was consistently funnier than the Simpsons, priding itself on an animated show that could be shot live action with little to no changes. The anti-cartoon, if you will. Mike Judge is a genius, and he shows that with incredible subtle dignity on this show.

Ty Pennington is contractually obligated to take his shirt off every week on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Watch as him and his crew of whining crybabies build an amazingly beautiful home for someone who will be dead in six months anyways. Nah, I'm just kidding, I really like this show. Mainly because they really do build some great houses. Every time I'm done watching it, I always spend hundreds of dollars at Sears for some reason.

The Simpsons is a new animated series in the vein of Family Guy. It'll never last.

Family Guy & American Dad round out the evening, although I personally will not be watching either of them. They do exist, however, so they're there if you want them.

Now, shut off the TV and go to bed; you've earned it. An entire week wasted.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Serious Concerns? Sound off in the comments section.


Thursday, September 8

Checks Will Not Be Honored.

First off, here’s what happened during my weekend. I think it’s condensed; I’ll let you decide. If you don't care what happened, scroll down to "Now, the important stuff" for just the important stuff. Thanks.


Some acquaintances and I saw the Architects on Saturday. They played at a Christian coffeehouse in Madison, although the only Christians on the bill were the headliners (Number One Fan). You can tell if a concert venue is Christian by the floor. If they have carpeting, it’s Christian. There's no alcohol, no cigarettes, and sometimes no shoes. I like those shows, although I went to a Stavesacre show at a church when I was 16, and got my ass beat. I seriously have never been roughed up more at a show in my entire life.

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The opening act was Awesome Car Funmaker, Madison Area Music Award 2005 winner for best rock band. They were a blast to watch, combining catchy guitar-and-keyboards rock with amazing stage presence and overall silliness. I picked up their CD and waited for the Architects to take the stage.

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Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong for these guys. They almost got their van towed, a circuit blew out all the power for a bit, and Awesome Car Funmaker had to play in the dark for at least ten minutes. Once the Architects started playing, though, they blew the place apart. Their new material is straight-ahead, brick to the nose rock and roll, and Brandon has never sounded more energized. His microphone kept getting rocked right off the stand, so me and Ben had to stay close to jump up and fix it when needed.

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When the show was over, we met up with the band outside, and started chatting. We’ve known these guys for years now, and we actually played a couple of shows with them (when they were previously known as the Gadjits). They shared some stories from the road, and discussed married life and creeping maturity. I asked Brandon when the new album was coming out, and he said “Do you want to hear it?” I said “absolutely”, and before you knew it, me and the kids were all cramming into the Architects van with them to check out their latest demos from the studio.

The tracks sounded really fantastic, and before you knew it, we had to file out, say our goodbyes and hit the road. This was due mainly to my parking meter being up. With three minutes left to spare, we left downtown Madison and headed home. Me and the Missus were done for the night, but we dropped off the kids for an extended evening of finding new and creative ways to abuse their livers. Good for them.


Me and the Missus met up with Lindsay and Anthony at the UW-Madison Union to see Of Montreal. We had been waiting a long time for this show, and it certainly did not disappoint. The crowd was large, but respectful and civilized, something you normally don’t see on campus. The first act was the Management, who was described by Kevin as “A modern-day version of Wham!” They lived up to it, mixing 80’s pop with electronic beats and sickly sweet harmonies. It was funny, but too good not to be taken a bit seriously.

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(I can't get the photos off my phone, so this is the best picture I can get of these guys.)

Kevin Barnes was in full rock star mode, as Of Montreal rocketed through most of the Sunlandic Twins and Satanic Panic in the Attic, leaving no time to stop the white-boy dancing and hand-clapping. They were amazing, the new tracks sounded great and they closed with “Jennifer Louise”, quite possibly the greatest pop song ever written. All my thoughts about work the next day, about money and responsibility disintegrated as I watched Kevin dance around like a damn shirtless fool. They made my night.

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(Not my photo. You get the point.)

Afterwards, I (very) briefly talked to Kevin, reminding him that I was the one who had done the interview and write-up for the show. We grabbed a new t-shirt, and were in bed by 11pm. Perfect.


I don’t think I sat down for more than 30 seconds at a time on Tuesday. I had a lot of work to do, and no time to do it. This was my first “official” day with my new jorb, and I was tired and bleary-eyed to boot. After a full day of non-stop running and catching up, I was out of the hole and satisfied. I went immediately to Best Buy and picked up the Lost Season One DVD. The retail price was $60, but it was $40 at Best Buy, and $35(!) with my Rewards card. Not only that, but there was an exclusive eighth DVD sold only through Best Buy, loaded with more features and whatnot. It was a steal, and not the bad kind, either.

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So I took it home, and we watched the final six episodes, thus completing our duties to ABC Television and Bad Robot Productions. We watched 90% of the extras last night (interviews, bloopers, audition tapes, tons of deleted scenes and flashbacks, on-location stuff and a horde of Easter eggs), and plan on watching the entire series over again in preparation for the September 21 premiere. I will devote an entire post to Lost: Season 2 very soon, so look for that.

Now, the important stuff.

Last night, before I went to sleep, I was kicking around ideas in my head concerning writing. I thought about how I wanted to write, how I’ve been writing, and how I used to write. Frankly, I was getting quite bored and disgusted with myself. I thought about what I had in mind when I started doing this, and took a peek at where it had gone wrong.

The simple fact of the matter is this. My life isn’t incredibly exciting or worth documenting. This is through my own choice, mind you. I was never skilled (or adequately enthused) when it came to writing about the things that I’ve done shortly after I’ve done them (see above). I never kept a diary when I was younger, because I never thought I had anything worth saying or keeping. It was at that younger age when I realized my talent was in the concept of creativity.

So why am I not doing it now?

I can understand (and support) the idea of talking about interesting things that one comes across in the course of a day or weekend. In recent weeks, however, I’ve been talking specifically about nothing in general, and I feel as if I’m becoming creatively stunted; stuck in a sea of self-absorbed laziness. When life doesn’t throw you a story arc, you can either autobiographically shoe gaze, or you can actually do something about it.

I’m so sick of talking about myself, I could spit. In fact, I just did. I get nothing out of it; it’s a chore to rehash memories from two or three days ago, and NOBODY CARES, including myself. It’s a waste of time and effort, and everyone (including myself) deserves better.

Of Montreal frontman Kevin Barnes used to write fictional songs, with fictional places and characters, because he was worried about putting himself on the line. He thought that if he stayed in a fantasy world, the criticism wouldn’t hurt him as much. Eventually, he learned to be true to himself and write as he pleased, allowing himself to get more personal and in touch with his feelings.

I’m going in the opposite direction.

When I think about the best stuff I’ve ever written, it never has anything to do with my own personal reality. My earlier posts reflected this, but somewhere along the line I got a bit self-absorbed, thinking that what I currently had to say was actually important. It’s not, it really isn’t. I want to do more things that not necessarily challenge me writing-wise, but just do something that I can enjoy, something funnier and more non-sequitur. I’m not writing fantasy or anything (I can’t stand the genre); I just want to take a huge step away from the diary business. That way, when I actually DO have an interesting piece of autobiographical drivel to share with you (and I will, trust me), it will be…well, better.

Look, I’m still me. I’m still an egotistical nightmare, I’m still an anxious basket case, and I’ll never stop injecting everything I write with my personality and (limited) life experience. I just find myself completely separating myself from what makes me happy when I write. When you touch a hot stove, you learn a valuable lesson, and when something isn’t fun anymore, you tend to stop doing it. I’m not there yet, and hopefully I’ll never be.

You’ll like what I plan on doing, I promise. So, from here on out, the CDP will be offering you 75% less me in almost every post!

If that’s not a selling point, I don’t know what is. Later.

Monday, September 5

Talk Nerdy To Me.

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(This is what I have to wear to make money. It's humiliating.)

Very, very soon from now, you will be treated to a massively entertaining and lengthy post about my extended Labor Day weekend. There will be pictures and stories to share concerning the Architects show on Saturday, the Of Montreal show on Monday and everything in between. No doubt, I'll also be wetting my pants in delight over the release of Lost: Season 1. I'm actually looking forward to reading that post myself.

Until then, to tide you over, here are some phone pictures that you've never seen before. They have recently been discovered deep in the CDP photo vault, and are being unearthed for the first time right here.

Or, I was having problems with my phone, and I couldn't get them to you until now. Either way, it is specifically designed as filler, and fill it will. Enjoy these hunks of blurry goodness for the next day or two.

"The Motel."

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I think this photo, shot in January of this year, captures the stifling depression of a Wisconsin winter. Motels like this don't exist too much any more, and for a good reason. I'd like to know how many people killed themselves in one of those rooms. For the record, this particular establishment greets me every morning on my way to work. It's much less depressing in the summer.

"The Blur."

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A few months ago, I had long hair. I also took shaky pictures of myself at work. Those days are behind us now. I was getting sick of clogging my shower drain with 8-inch long strands of black hair, and having my immovable curls laugh in the face of even the most hardcore of straighteners. A change was in order.

"The Trim."

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The Missus shot this photo of my final follicle resting place. You can tell that I go to a very high-class salon by the capri pants and flip-flops that my stylist is wearing. I think she was 18, and wouldn't stop talking to me for any reason.

I soon realized that when getting a haircut, you can't really end a conversation early and leave the premises. If you were to do so, you'd be toddling down the corridors of the mall with half a haircut, leaving a trail of clippings and wearing that foolish cape. Nope. You have to listen to every angstrom of what this woman wants to say to you, no matter how inane the topic. If you decide to tell her that you'd rather not engage in conversation, she may stab you in the brain stem and pour barbicide into the gaping wound. No thank you. Give me the boring conversation any day of the week.

"The Flight."

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This is what an airport looks like in the middle of the night. We were there to pick up a friend who was coming in from Minnesota, and the flight was running a bit behind. Something like, 8 days behind.

For my money, nothing is more depressing than an airport. Everyone there is either saying hello of goodbye to someone, they're always crying and are usually holding a sad novelty mylar balloon. Worse yet, some people have nobody to say hello or goodbye to, which is in another league altogether. There's absolutely nothing to do but sit and wait (there's no arcade at an airport), the bar's never open when I'm there, and there aren't enough people around to play a game of "spot the terrorist". It's a game I invented where you look at the people around you and determine how they would take down an airplane. For legal reasons, I cannot share with you how I would do it.

"The Rory."

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Here's a shot of Rory from the Communique show a month or so ago. As you may remember, I was still reeling from the interview I had written before the show, more so concerning how the editors sort of chopped it up (read it in the writings section!). I tracked down Rory after the (fantastic) show, and asked him if he got a chance to read it. He told me that he had and enjoyed it, which made me happy enough, regardless of if he was lying to me or not.

So, there you have it. Another dip into my very soul. Again, the Labor Day weekend post will be here in record time, and don't forget to check out the new articles in the "Writings" section. They are the only things on this page that pay my bills, so support is always appreciated.

What did you do this weekend? The conversation continues in the comments section.