Friday, February 8

I Got Dumped By A Fictional Character.


Just a quick reminder that all those participating in the CDP Nationwide Mix-Tape Trade should have their mixed mailed out by Monday, February 11. Make someone's Valentine's Day all the more awesome! Any questions, comments or concerns should be sent my way immediately.

Let's move on.

Friday Night Lights, despite its slightly outlandish and borderline-sellout second season, is still one of the best shows on network television (second only to Lost, if you axe me). This is one of those rare television shows about High School and small-town life that really resonates and feels genuine, and part of its success is the outstanding cast and semi-realistic character development.

Recently completing a three-episode arc on the show was the character of Jean Binnel, played adobably perfect by breakout actress Brea Grant. Now, when I say 'adorably perfect,' I mean 'I, Ryan J. Zeinert, wholeheartedly proclaim Jean Binnel to be my single most desired female character in the history of television.'

Had I met a girl like Jean in high school, I would have not known what to do with myself. Her hair was perfect. Her glasses were perfect. The way that she smiled and looked up into Landry's eyes with nothing but awkward sweetness was perfect. She was unapologetically into Grindcore and Power Metal. Obsessed with mixtapes. She even invited Landry over to watch Mystery Science Theater 3000, which I believe is the only time in history that MST3K was mentioned in a fictional TV drama. She liked guys like me. Whoever sat down to write up the character map for Jean Binnel must be a whole lot like myself, because this girl represented everything that I could ever superficially* want in a young woman. I didn't even think she could exist in fiction.

(*My wife provides all of the core values needed to sustain a lengthy and passionate marriage. It needed to be mentioned.)

So, when Jean was ditched by Landry last week, I knew that I'd never see Jean again on my TV, which hurt me deeply. In fact, I felt like I was being dumped, too. This is a character that I've been waiting 15 years to watch, and I wasn't going to just let her up and leave me after three lousy episodes. My 1997 dream girl was walking out on me, and I needed to do something, anything, to keep her around for a minute longer.

After clicking around the Interweb for awhile, I found the official website of Brea Grant and shot her an e-mail. I told her that I enjoyed watching her on Friday Night Lights, and to keep up the good work in her future endeavors. Nothing creepy ('can I pay you to come to my house and act like Jean Binnel?'); just positive and professional. Sure, I knew that the real Brea Grant was probably nothing like the character of Jean Binnel, but it was as close as I was going to get to making a connection with the perfect projection of female awesomeness. Furthermore, she's a really good actress and deserved the praise. The fourth wall had been broken; we were officially working without a net.

A few hours later, I received an e-mail in my inbox:

Hey! Thanks for your support!
-Brea Grant.

It wasn't exactly the epic that I was secretly hoping for, but you know what? It's all good. I was happy. I also seriously thought this was important enough to warrant its very own post, which in retrospect, might have been a mistake.

Who is your most desired television character? Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your weekend.

(If you're lucky, and I mean really, really lucky, you might catch a glimpse of Brea/Jean on tonight's episode of Friday Night Lights, airing at 8pm Central time on NBC.)

Wednesday, February 6

The CDP vs. PETA.

...Not Really. They're Good People.

You probably already know this about me, but I'm a vegetarian. I've been meatless for many years now, for a plethora of different reasons pertaining to moral values, health and the advocating of animal rights. I'm proud of the decision I made, and I personally believe it's the right one.

The distinction I like to make, however, is that I'm not one of those vegetarians. I won't get in your face if you choose to eat meat, I won't preach if you choose to hunt, and I won't destroy your carnivorous arguments, regardless of how narrow your mindset happens to be. It's not in my nature, and furthermore, it doesn't win friends or convert people. I've known this for a long time now. Bitch to a meat-eater about eating meat, and they'll just want to eat more meat to shut you up. You'll probably deserve it, too. No sense in trying to change someone like that.

Here's how I look at it. I'm pro-choice on the abortion issue; mainly because I feel that my opinion should carry absolutely no weight when it comes to the choices a female wishes to make with her body and her potential offspring. My take on the issue is about as important as Paris Hilton's take on penile cancer. She doesn't deserve to speak on the issue; nor should I. Unless my sperm was involved somehow, my opinion is worth nothing, and rightfully so.

So, when I travel back to my hometown and view a radical pro-life protest in the parking lot of the Catholic church I was baptized in, it doesn't do much for my biased attitude when I see billboard-sized photographs of aborted fetuses. It just reminds me of a robotic, annoying band of exploitative assholes that I wish not to associate myself with. The argument they were trying to make is lost in the presentation. Had they hit me non-intrusively with a few facts, literature and business cards, perhaps I would have taken them a little more seriously. Or better yet, they could have just assumed that human beings were capable of making their own educated decisions without the further distraction of their guilt and shame-driven racket.

Back to vegetarianism.

It is this humble, somewhat-humanistic and non-confrontational attitude that has kept me opposed to the tactics and ad campaigns produced by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Don't get me wrong, PETA is a respected and well-known organization that gets the word out about the healthy and environmental benefits of a meatless lifestyle, along with the typically unseen horrors of the meat processing trade. What frustrates me is their standard method of gaining publicity. Shock tactics, upside-the-head brutality and public demonstrations that remind me all-too-well of the pro-life demonstrations that irk me so.

The comparison may be slightly unfair and on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but be reminded that PETA is also an organization that modeled an ad campaign after the Holocaust. Yikes. When you have a minute, do a Google Image Search for 'PETA,' just make sure you don't do it while at the office. To say that the message is lost at times is a serious understatement.

So, I'm torn. I want so badly to be a proud PETA member, but at the same time, I get embarrassed each time I turn on the news to see another publicity stunt garnering negative attention (not all attention is good, especially when you're trying to change minds through information and education). This conflict came out during my most recent interview with the Wisconsin State Journal. It reads as follows:

CDP: There have been a couple of times when I've been political or talked about pop culture where people react. I remember awhile ago I did something about vegetarianism.

WSJ: And you are a vegetarian.

CDP: Yes, I am a vegetarian. I think it's important but I don't think it's mandatory. I'm not one of those guys. I don't support PETA since I think they have a good message but their marketing is incorrect. I think they need to find a better way to convert people than these shock tactics.

WSJ: So having naked women posing with signs down on State Street is not your thing?

CDP: Well, it's just not going to convert people. It's converting people to naked women, not vegetarianism. That's not the image you want to portray. So I explained it simply to people who were thinking about it. When I first went vegetarian I had a lot of questions, I thought I'd die, I didn't think I'd survive. After awhile it made sense. I'm just an average guy, I don't work out a lot; So I just wanted to put something out there that was just an average person's guide to going meatless. I got a lot of wonderful emails.

As you can see, I didn't waver on my stance. The point that I made was the one that I always make, being that I believe PETA has a good message, but their marketing is incorrect and alienating not only potential meatless converts, but also loyal and unobtrusive vegetarians like myself. Fair enough, right?

Well, what I forgot was that the WSJ article ran nationwide, and eventually grabbed the interest of PETA; specifically one of the campaign managers. I received this e-mail a few days ago; the name has been withheld because I'm not in the business of getting sued:

Dear Mr. Zeinert,

We at PETA were thrilled to read in the Wisconsin State Journal that you’re a vegetarian and have written about 'going meatless' on your blog. However, as someone who has organized and participated in several 'naked' PETA protests, I would like to share our reasons for using 'shock tactics' in our efforts to raise awareness of animal suffering.

Before people will stop buying, for example, fur coats, they must be aware of the industry’s cruelty to animals. Getting the news out in the media therefore, is vital. Unlike our opposition, which is mostly composed of wealthy corporations, we cannot afford costly ad campaigns, and thus have to rely on getting free 'advertising' through media coverage. We will do just about anything to get the word out, even to the point of using 'shock tactics' because we have learned from past experience that the media, sadly, thrives on such shenanigans.

If I can help call attention to the animals’ side of the story in a 'naked' protest, that's a choice I’ll gladly make. We hope that you will consider supporting PETA’s efforts to end animal suffering.

It was an informative and professional letter, and I appreciate that they took the time to send it to me. It does, however, verify a few things concerning PETA and their marketing. Mainly, that they participate in shock tactics and generating confrontational images because it works and gets people talking. Furthermore, they're happy with the press attention they receive, and will do whatever is necessary to gain more.

I honestly can't argue with that. It got me talking, didn't it? At the very least, I'm glad that they actually admitted to doing what they do for the media exposure, and not as much for the intended audience. It still doesn't make sense to me from a marketing standpoint (the audience is more important than the media; regardless of all the exposure you get from these campaigns), but they were straight with me, and I appreciate that.

This was the e-mail that I wrote back to PETA shortly thereafter:

First off, thank you so much for taking the time to write me; I greatly appreciate it. I also want to thank you for explaining and defending the ad campaigns and methods used by PETA to get the word out concerning animal abuse and cruelty.

As mentioned in my interview, I've been a vegetarian and strong supporter of animal rights for many years now. The main point I was trying to make in the interview was that certain shock tactics, while attracting of a large audience, also have the polarizing power to turn like-minded people off to the message. I understand that the main goal is to be seen and heard by as many people as possible with the limited funds raised by PETA, however, certain theatrics tend to distort the overall message at times. When I said "I support their message, but I believe that their marketing is incorrect," that was specifically what I was referring to.

I, myself have brainstormed many ways to positively, intelligently and unabashedly get the word out about the detriment to our planet and bodies that a meat-fueled lifestyle entails. I know it's a difficult path, as ignorance and apathy cannot be easily reversed through a poster or commercial. Conclusively, I think that any group that makes it their goal to educate citizens on the multiple positive values of a meatless lifestyle is doing a service to our nation, polarizing ad campaigns or otherwise.

With that in mind, please accept my $25 donation to PETA (I just donated online), with my best wishes of further success to your organization.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact me,

-Ryan J. Zeinert

I believe I did the right thing. I stood my ground (still do), but made a point to recognize the work that these people do behind the imagery and struggle for media attention. I also wanted to subtly make the point that by reasoning with people on the topics at hand (ie: me), you could change the minds of those that you're overlooking with your dragnet publicity tactics. Nude protesters in a cage didn't change my mind, but personality, honesty and logic did the job just fine.

Or maybe, just maybe, it shows that I'll do anything I can to be voted the Sexiest Vegetarian in Wisconsin for 2008.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

Monday, February 4

Lost Monday - "The Beginning Of The End."

Lost Monday - The Beginning Of The End.
Season 4 - Episode 1: "The Beginning Of The End."

The first Lost Monday of Season 4 is upon us. We have much to discuss.

"The Beginning Of The End," in my opinion, was as good of a season premiere as you can ask for. No need to jump into all sorts of insane action right away; better to re-establish the characters and previous story lines, introduce a few more mysteries and set the stage for the first half of Season 4. Believe me, things are going to get crazy very soon, so a 'welcome back' season premiere is fine by me. It allows us to seamlessly get back into the swing of things while simultaneously being shown the layout for the rest of the year. You can't ask for too much when it comes to the first episode of a season, and when it comes to Lost, they've already established themselves as the best when it comes to return surprises.

In short, quit your bitching. Lost is back for the attack, and I like where it's headed.

18-1. Damn Times A Million.
(Oh look, a Patriots fan.)

The main focus of "The Beginning Of The End" was the battle lines being drawn concerning the freighter that's on the way to the island, and the flash-forward sequence that seems to suggest that the 'Oceanic Six' made some sort of nasty moral decision to get off of the island, one that the survivors are struggling with in their own specific ways.

Let's lay it all out for everyone, in the first Thick & Meaty of Season 4!

Thick And Meaty!


After news gets around that the freighter is on the way to the beach, the survivors instantly go into gluttony mode, helping themselves to handfuls of DHARMA-brand Gummi Bears and Tom Collins Mix. This is short-lived, however, when Desmond surfaces to inform everyone that Charlie has died and gone to Second-Tier Actor On Lost Heaven. Desmond lets the folks on the beach know that Charlie was warning them about trusting the freighter, but Hurley tosses the walkie into the ocean before they have a chance to radio the others. He did this presumably because the walkie wasn't food.

At the radio tower, Jack and company are waiting for rescue, each taking turns booting Benjamin Linus in the knob. Ben is honestly concerned about the arrival of the freighter, so he asks Rousseau to take Alex as far away from the beach as possible. Rousseau responds with yet another devastating knob punch.

We're Out Of Hot Sauce! Alert The Authorities!

While Jack and Kate bask in the syrup-thick sexual tension they've created for themselves, Jack lets Kate know that he will kill Locke if he sees him again. This is not only due to him killing Naomi to avoid potential rescue, but also because he stole Jack's last stick of Fruit Stripe. The freighter folks try to radio Naomi, causing Jack and Kate to lie about the knife currently lodged deep between her shoulder blades. As it turns out, Naomi isn't dead yet, and headed out into the jungle to avoid the prospect of further stabbings in the future. Can't blame her, really. Who just waits around to be stabbed in the back for a second time, besides myself in the 8th Grade?

Jack and Ben head off in the wrong direction to find Naomi, while Kate (who stole the satellite phone from Jack because she's a kleptomaniac bitch with no moral compass to speak of and a complete lack of trust for anything near her) goes the right way and finds her, almost getting eviscerated in the process. Naomi covers for the castaways when she radios the freighter, lying about her injuries and eventually dying after reconfiguring their signal to better find the island and secure a year-long subscription to the NFL Network.

How many characters have come and gone from this show within three episodes? Not that I'll miss Naomi or anything; she seemed rather dirty. Probably someone I wouldn't want to stand next to for very long.

Get Mikhail Over Here Right Now.
("Kate, it's Jack. Have you seen my right eye?")

As the group from the beach trek through the jungle, Hurley begins to fall behind and becomes due for a patented Hurley Freak-Out. Jacob's cabin appears in front of him, and he sees one Christian Shepard hanging out in the rocking chair. He then sees Jacob's cabin everywhere he turns, eventually blocking it out of his mind permanently; a sign that perhaps it was never there to begin with. On a similar note, Christian Shepard gets around more than Tara Reid and Diddy combined.

When everyone meets back up on the beach, tensions build over Charlie's final message and the overall evilness of the approaching freighter. People seem to want to choose sides, as Jack takes this lull in the action to attempt to shoot Locke in the face. Those who believe in potential rescue stay with Jack, and those who are correct in thinking that evil approacheth head off to the barracks with Locke. Still, a few travel to the barracks solely because there's a working pinball machine there. It's the Guns & Roses one that plays 'Welcome To The Jungle' when you hit the multiball.

The island story ends with a helicopter landing on the island, and a parachutist approaching Jack, presumably the one who was radio contact with him. Had the episode gone maybe ten seconds longer, it's my assumption that Locke would have blown him up somehow.

IN FLASH-FORWARDS (From Lostpedia).

I'm Here For Evil Reasons. Would You Like Some Evil?
("Hello Hurley, my name is Bob Evilton.")

Jack is seen in his Los Angeles kitchen mixing a morning cocktail when his eye falls on TV coverage of police in hot pursuit of a speeding motorist. We watch the chase from an omniscient perspective as it comes to an end. The police command the driver out of his car, and it's none other than Hurley who resists arrest while yelling, "I'm one of the Oceanic Six!"

Hurley is in a police interrogation room where he is shown a video of himself in a convenience store paying at the cash register, then "freaking out" and running out of the store. While Mike is out getting a donut, Hurley sees a vision of Charlie in his hoodie swimming up to a window in the interrogation room, which is suddenly underwater, and touching his hand to the window, causing it to break and allowing water to rush in. On Charlie's hand is written, "THEY NEED YOU." The cop enters the room when Hurley begins screaming and threatens him with incarceration in a mental institution. Hurley, however, looks relieved to hear this, and thanks the cop and hugs him.

Fat Jack In A Little Coat.
(Jack feebly attempts to cheer Hurley up with the 'fat guy in a little coat' bit.)

Hurley is now back at the Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute and apparently happy. He is playing Connect Four when the orderly gives him his medicine and tells him he has a visitor. The man introduces himself as Matthew Abbadon and claims that he is an attorney for Oceanic Airlines. He tells Hurley that he wants to upgrade him to a nicer institute. When Hurley grows suspicious of Abbadon's question and asks for a business card, the latter states that he must have left them at home. Hurley declines the offer, causing Abbadon to turn much more serious and ask, "Are they still alive?" Hurley looks startled and Abbadon continues to try and provoke him about what he knows. Thinking the man is after him, Hurley has a fit and starts to yell for a nurse. As the orderlies constrain him, he glimpses back and sees Abbadon leave.

Hurley is sitting on the grounds of the Hospital when Lewis comes over and says that a man is staring at him, he looks over to see Charlie. Hurley is shocked and starts to run away as Charlie tries to calm him down. Hurley states that he freaked out at the store because he saw him there. Charlie tells him that he really is there, and that he is indeed dead. After they talk about Charlie's death, Charlie says Hurley has to do "something" that Hurley has been avoiding, and he claims the reason Hurley ran from him was because he knew he was there to "tell him". Hurley says he doesn't want to hear any more and closes his eyes and counts to five, while he does, Charlie tells him "don't do this", and then "You know they need you". When Hurley opens his eyes, Charlie is gone.

Could You Kindly Restart My Heart?
(It's good to see the Geico Cavemen still getting work after the cancellation of their show.)

A much more in control Jack than seen in "
Through the Looking Glass" visits Hurley and plays a game of Horse with him. The two begin the game talking about being noticed frequently. Jack says the reporters are leaving him alone and only gets asked for autographs while buying coffee. Hurley is glad to see him but wonders why he came. Jack, after losing a few shots to Hurley, asks if he is "going to tell." Hurley doesn't respond. Jack decides to leave and grabs his coat. Hurley says he's sorry he went with Locke, and that he should have gone with Jack instead, but Jack says that it's not an issue. Hurley wonders if they should go back to the Island and says "it" will do whatever it takes to bring them back. Jack says he will never go back to the Island, to which Hurley replies, "Never say never, dude," as Jack exits the room.

Thanks for the flash-forward recap, Lostpedia! You're always there for me when I get sick of writing and decide to watch the Super Bowl instead. What an absolutely remarkable and historic outcome, by the way; without question, one of the greatest Super Bowls ever.

You know, the coolest part of the flash-forwards so far has been the story of the 'Oceanic Six,' presumably only 6 of the castaways made it back home, to huge attention and fanfare. Of course, it would appear as if their story isn't over, as what they did to leave the island is suspect and questionable characters and inquiries continue to mess with them long after rescue. This brings us to today's Question Of The Week.

Question of The Week.
("You all, every zombie!")

"What Secret Is The 'Oceanic Six' Hiding From The World?"

A. The remaining castaways were killed in a game of 'Apples To Apples' gone horribly wrong.
B. They were never really on the island to begin with; made the whole damn thing up.
C. It's actually the 'Oceanic Nine,' and the three others are hiding in Jack's beard.
D. The island was pretty awesome, and they go back every Summer to 'chill out.'

I'll let you think about that for the time being; let's move on, and Break It Down!
Break It Down!

4 - During the opening high-speed chase with Hurley, you can see his former boss Randy (Locke's former boss, too) trying to catch the whole thing on his video camera. Unfortunately for Randy (or for the continuity department on Lost), his lens cap was still on.

8 - Chrstian Shepard is causing me serious headaches concerning the possible outcome of this show. The 13th Mobisode showed Christian shortly before the first few seconds of the Pilot episode, his corpse was never recovered, and now we see him hanging out inside of 'Jacob's' cabin, rocking one white tennis shoe (the other which seems to be caught in a tree during the Pilot episode). I honestly can't think of a more cohesive show concerning call-backs and call-aheads than Lost.

I didn't watch the Mobisodes at first, mainly because I don't think any sort of viral marketing is conducive to the overall enjoyment of the show, nor should they be mandatory viewing to fully understand the direction of the show. However, Mobisode 13 is worth your time, if only to demonstrate how together the writers and producers are when it comes to making Lost amazing.

Jackass Returns Again, Acting Like A Jackass.
(Even for just a few frames, Randy builds enough rage in me to justify murder.)

15 - This was the first season premiere that wasn't Jack-centric, even though the beginning of the episode was seen partially through the eyes of a Jack flash-forward. It also marked the first season premiere that didn't feature a closeup of an eye. My assumption is that this means nothing, which somehow comforts me.

16 - The scene with Hurley and Charlie was interesting, in that it raised the supernatural question of Hurley actually communicating with the dead. They wanted to blur the lines of reality as much as possible, much like Desmond's flashback concerning his quick glimpses into the immediate future. Or, Hurley is insane. The jury's still out on this one. However, Hurley's friend 'Lewis' saw Charlie, too. So, is Charlie real, or is 'Lewis' a figment of Hurley's imagination?

I'm Not The Devil. Srsly.
(The world's first living, breathing, waterproof Muppet.)

23 - The Camaro the Hurley is driving in the opening of the episode is the same one that he restored with his father as a kid in the flashbacks for "Tricia Tanaka Is Dead." I sincerely hope that when this show is all said and done, we'll get a nice, comprehensive behind-the-scenes look at how the writers made all of this come together. Seriously, this is sheer brilliance on an unparalleled scale. Feel free to debate me in the comments; I'd love to hear about a more thought-out show in the history of American television.

42 - Hurley's flash-forward seems to take place before Jack's previous flash-forward. Whatever seems to be eating Hurley up will eventually bother Jack in the same way. Wouldn't it be funny if Lost went all St. Elsewhere on us and revealed that the 'Oceanic Six' are all just mental patients who made the whole thing up? Yeah, no. I suppose it wouldn't be funny at all. Sorry.

Step back, prepare for spoilers and wear protective garments, because it's time for The Preview!

Confirmed Dead.

1 - Episode 2 will be titled "Confirmed Dead."

2 - The episode will center around the flashbacks of the four members of the freighter, and their intentions for arriving to the island.

- Lock will flat-out ask Ben about the Smoke Monster this week. Don't expect an answer, however.

4 - Jeff Fahey will be a new character on the set, posing as one of the four evil folks arriving on the freighter. I don't know about you, but I love this guy. He's an awesome actor, has terrifying eyes and should make a great addition to the crew. I just had to interject this, because I really like Jeff Fahey.

(Yeah, that's Ben. Lived on the island all your life, my ass!)

5 - My favorite Super Bowl commercials are as follows:

#4 - E*Trade - "Baby Rents Clown."
#3 - Tide - "Stain."

#2 - Bud Light - "Will Ferrell."

#1 - Fed-Ex - "Pigeons."

Well, there you have it, the first Lost Monday of the season in the books. Start the discussion in the comments section, send any erotic photography to and enjoy the rest of your Monday.