30 September 2009

The Middle (on ABC)

So the "remake fever" that has totally infected the Hollywood Big Screen (isn't almost everything a remake lately?  Creativity has pretty much died) has now H1N1'd its way onto the small screen.

We watched The Middle tonight on ABC.  Wow, what a piece of cr@p. 

But it's only that bad because its a direct rip-off of Malcolm in THE MIDDLE ("MitM") that ran on Fox from 2000-2006.  In almost a hat-tip to Malcolm, the writers have the Mom's name on The Middle is named FRANKIE (Malcolm was played by actor Frankie Muniz).

Is the American viewing public that stupid?  Oh, yeah, we are.  Feel free to click on the links of the actors names that follow and even see how their headshots look alike to a point.

The youngest child on MitM was Dewey (nice name, wrong spelling) but awkward kid with big ears.  The Middle has Rick, who they call Brick and who is an awkward kid with big ears.
The new "twist" for The Middle is that there is a daughter who is a collosal failure at everything but the show doesn't focus on her, as it does for Malcolm.  The show basically focuses (at least in the Pilot) on the Mother since frankly, she's making the most money out of this cast given her Everybody Loves Raymond success.

Appearances by SNL alums Chris Kattan and Brian Doyle-Murray don't help save this show.  There WERE funny moments, but I can't get MitM out of my head when watching this, its just too close that's pretty weak from ABC.

While I'm at it, Modern Family (also on Wednesday Night ABC) is looking like it's going down the Arrested Development (also showed on Fox) route already.

If I'm Rupert Murdoch (and thank god I'm not) I'd make sure the viewing public knows that these are just a tad too similar.  Although even Rupert can figure out that these shows should be showing up in Seattle Grace's ER with barely a sign of life in the next 5 weeks.

27 September 2009

What bad economy?

Gas prices dropped to $2.399 today near my house.  To say it was a little "thick" with vehicles around the pumps today would be an understatement. 

Because I participate in the Speedy Rewards program, I also had a coupon for $0.50 off per gallon PLUS, if you used your Speedy Rewards card, you got $0.05 off (only on weekends in September).  So yes, I filled up for $1.849 today, and I was almost on fumes so 20 gallons to boot

Party like it's 2000, woo hoo!!!

The other week, the Federal Reserve was all but calling this "recession" to an end.  Wow, I remember when economic swings lasted for years, not "months".

So I'm wondering if the economy is following some sort of reverse version of a Moore's Law trend.  Do we continually recover from economic "dings" in double the amount of speed? (err, in half the time from the previous ding)

I'm still greatly concerned for our country.  You can't just blame Obama.  For the last 20 years we've slowly turned from a country that produced a huge portion of what we, and the world, consumed into one that mostly just consumes what other countries are providing. 

No amount of bail-out, financial support, or printing of cash is going to change that tide.  "Buy American" is a nice rally cry, but alas, what is there to buy anymore that IS American?  Yes, I know there are some things (frankly big ticket items like cars, Real Estate, and US tourism), but the everyday consumption has slowly eroded.

No matter which political party you support (and wouldn't it be nice if there were more than two??), you cannot feel comfortable with the course we're on.  Tax & Spend or Spend then Tax, they are both wrong.

13 September 2009

Passing on Tradition

I'm sure everyone has this sort of story, but I'll share mine.

There is something visceral when sharing certain experiences with your offspring. Usually the ones that hit you right in the gut are those that you probably shared with your parents or grandparents and involve deep emotional feelings.

On Saturday, we brought Aidan to his first Cubs game and although this is at an age MUCH younger than I attended MY first game (he's 21 mos, I was 6) the emotions I felt at times had me on the edge of tears. I'm sure that when we take him to more games as he gets older some of these feeling will resurface as he'll be talking more, understanding more, asking more and enjoying more.

We have the typical shot of us in front of the big Wrigley sign and something that no one could have shared back in the day, a picture of him on his official Wrigley brick!

Although many things have changed at Wrigley, the basics still remain. You don't walk through turnstiles anymore and your ticket doesn't get ripped, but with him in my arms walking through the main entrance at Clark and Addison, I did flash back to walking through that same gate with my Grandfather throughout the early 70's.

Getting there early enough to watch some part of batting practice never gets old. Once we settled in and found our seats (we weren't in our normal season tickets as we only have two seats and we needed more), I grabbed him and walked down, as close as we could get, to behind the Cubs dugout. The Reds were taking batting practice.

As we weaved our way down we did come upon a very elderly lady who was an usher (they were Andy Frain's back in the day) who saw Aidan and pulled a Cubs sticker out of her kit and gave it to us. Totally nice effort and since he loves stickers, well, made him all excited, and kudos to Mary Kay for getting the pictures of this from a distance!

We couldn't get all the way down to the wall, but we stood there for about 10 minutes and watched. I pointed out the ball coming off the bat and could see Aidan following it after he sort of figured out what was going on. One of the Fanfoto people came by and asked to take our picture. These people didn't exist back in the day and frankly, after looking at their prices, I'm amazed that they exist now. Talk about highway robbery, jeesh.

Holding him, I did flash back to about 1972 when I have a picture of me standing down on the wall, with Ernie Banks behind me. With the autograph hounds of today, those pictures are pretty difficult to arrange, plus, now that most all games are sellouts, well, you just fight a bigger number of people to get there. 1972 wasn't a bad year for the Cubs (finished 2nd in the East but 11 games back!!), however, after the disaster of '69, the average attendances were down overall and you could move pretty freely around the park.

It'll be fun at some point watching Aidan stand against the wall (or fight his way in) to get a look at whomever is in the Cubbie blue at that time.

Well, Aidan's experience had to be relatively typical so he had a little bit of hot dog, some cotton candy and some ice cream in a helmet-bowl. It was the first time he ever had cotton candy and the expressions on his face and his reactions were once in a lifetime types of things. He squealed with excitement as it liquefied on his tongue and he found out that everything sort of turns blue when eating it, from hands to mouth to drool.

We took a trip down to the gift shop where he got his first mini-bat and official ball. He really wanted to play with them however we knew it wouldn't be long before he threw the ball or hit someone with the bat, so we had to stifle that until later.

He did hit a wall though by about the 6th inning. He was very tired and as the Cubs mounted their comeback from five runs down, as the crowd yelled, he got a little scared. I just looked at him and told him that it was "happy happy" and he seemed to process that pretty well although he was scared a little bit.

We stood and sang the 7th inning stretch, which was performed that day by The Fray. It didn't matter who was singing, just holding Aidan and singing it while he sort of swayed back and forth in my arms was worth a million on its own. The singing must have worked a little bit as the Cubs got two more runs to tie it up in the bottom of the 7th.

Unfortunately, Aidan faded as fast as any of the arms in the bullpen and we were outta there in flash during the 8th inning. Thankfully too, as Carlos Marmol blew it with 2 outs in the top of the 9th letting in the deciding two runs from the Reds. Aidan probably would have heard bad words from Daddy at that point.  But isn't that sort of the true Cubs experience?  Of course only followed by the phrase "We'll get 'em tomorrow".

The whole day went by so fast and as he crashed in his carseat and fell fast asleep on the way home, my insides felt all warm and gooey. It was fun, but admittedly this first time was more for Mommy and Daddy to bring him.

Until he's a bit older and can truly understand it, it probably will continue to be for "us", but I firmly believe that you are shaped by the experiences you have in your life. For this not-yet two-year old, well, he's had a hell of a year of experiences and this just rounded out that list for now.