Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Saturday in the Park

Chicago came on my iPod this morning. It was the song Saturday in the Park. I can't hear Chicago without thinking about the community pool I went to when I was a kid. It was in the community of Greenbriar in Northern Virginia. We lived on Majestic Lane (4313 to be precise) so we were within easy walking distance from the pool and Greenbriar East Elementary School where I attended 1-4 grades.

The pool was a lot of fun because, in my memory anyway, we seemed to spend practically the whole summer there. They always had the radio on loudspeakers and it was tuned to WEEL 1300 AM which was a top 40 station back in the day. For younger people, top 40 radio used to be just the best of music from all the different genres: rock, pop, R&B and even country. Anyway, it seems like that station played every Chicago song every recorded so whenever I hear Chicago, I think of the pool because they would have that station on all day long. Another song that reminds me of those days is D'yer Mak'er by Led Zeppelin.

The summer before my fourth grade year, my aunt and uncle and cousins came to stay with us. At the end of the stay, us kids decided it would be cool if we could get my cousin's parents to let them stay another couple of weeks. We realized that in two weeks, my mom was going to take us to West Virginia anyway so we might be able to talk them into letting the cousins stay. We asked but they were non committal. So we hooked a microphone up to my dad's guitar amp and started doing "commercials" to let our cousins stay with us: "Sick of those kids? Why not get rid of them for a couple of weeks. Send them off to scenic 4313 Majestic Lane. They'll have a pool, a park and someone to play with." We did this for what seems like an hour. We had various themes, but they always ended with "a pool, a park and someone to play with." Much to our surprise and amazement, our aunt and uncle agreed and the cousins got to stay with us.

That began a tradition of summer visits that carried on for several years. That year, my brother Doug, my cousin Randy, my cousin Steve and I spent part of every non-rainy day at that pool. The most fun was when we stayed long enough for it to start getting dark and we would get to see the lights come on under the water.

One day, my mom had to go to a hair appointment or something. It was raining that day so we didn't go to the pool, but she let us all say home alone. We played all day long with our Legos, Fort Apache, Hot Wheels, Army Men and some Freakies cereal figures we collected.

It was one of the best summers ever.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

TV Redux

So the Heroes finale met my expectations. I was thoroughly pleased. 24 didn't suck as badly as it had the rest of the season so that is actually a good thing (talk about damning with faint praise). They better do something for next year or I won't be watching.

Tonight is the Lost finale. Lost has been a mixed bag this season. The first part of the season sucked pretty hard, but the last few episodes have redeemed it somewhat. We'll see what happens tonight.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

TV is pissing me off ..

I'm pretty fed up with television this season. Only a few shows (Heroes, The Office and 30 Rock to name three) have been consistent. 24 has been a chore to watch this season. Is there any plot line they haven't recycled? Terrorists infiltrate CTU? Check? VP attempt to usurp the presidency? Check. Jack Bauer arrested? Check. This has been the worst of any of the seasons so far. Their problem is they have killed off all the interesting secondary characters (David Palmer, Tony, Michelle). The producers have forgotten the importance of cast chemistry.

Plus, this notion of killing cast regulars, which used to be shocking, has become a cheap way to attempt to emotionally manipulate viewers. It's the same trap JK Rowling has fallen into with her Harry Potter books. She thinks she has to kill someone for impact. What happened to, I don't know, good writing?

Lost has certainly done this too. This last part of the season has been a lot better, but they still try to use cheap emotional tactics to manipulate us. Lost pissed me off early on this season because of the lies told by the shows creators that the first part of the season would be a self-contained mini series that would wrap up and set up the second half of the season. Not only did it not resolve the story, it really didn't go anywhere once we learned the others had built mini suburbs on the island. Let's face it, those guys (Lost brass) just got greedy. They wanted to milk this franchise as long as possible.

Even my new favorite, Heroes, has fallen victim to this notion that main characters must die in order to be considered high impact.

Finally, I'm fed up with the season ending cliffhangers. Come on. If you have a good show, we'll keep watching. You don't need to end every season with a cliffhanger.