In this the third episode of the sixth season of God’s own TV show, Community, it opens with Annie, having successfully organized her to-do lists, received troubling information and assembles an emergency meeting of the Save Greendale Committee to, well, save Greendale. Apparently dogs can get college degrees. Events ensue.

A few high points

“Hank” Hickey

hickey

I guess publishers were interested.

Annie has some fun names in her phone. Apparently Hickey still roams the earth. Damn I loved that character.

Jeffrey, Best friend of dean

best friend

You’re so sweet in text.

The best running gag in this episode.

Drunk Diarrhea?

diarrhea

Apparently Britta has just crapped herself.

I wasn’t aware drunk diarrhea was a thing.

chang

Hanh! Hanh! Eehhh…

I think Chang might be the real star of this season. Perhaps the slogan of this season should be “insanity replaces heart” as Chang has become the only real source of heart… but he’s also insane. More on that later.

The moment I thought it was going to take off

britta

I felt like my brain was being ripped open right here.

I really thought this was the moment the show was going to rip it off the rails. But this amazing sequence just ends.

Goliath’s Rant

goliath

“It was easier to be unimpressed back then.”

Oh my god. I need more of this style of Community in my life.  I love when it almost turns on itself with its own post-modern indifference. Oh, and because this actor, no matter what he does with his life, will always be the voice of Goliath to me, that’s how I think of him. No matter what, he is Goliath.

You might be a genius

genius

“You might be a genius.”

It’s amazing watching Abed be amazed by Chang’s filmography. Simultaneously, it’s horrifying to think about what Chang filmed. And then to think that he screwed it up (and himself, I guess) so badly that he has to redo it. I think this was the highest point of the episode. Except for maybe…

Post credit sequence: many yes

tokyo

“In your eyes I am the enemy because I am the edge of your world.” Unexpectedly powerful.

It’s so weird and unexpected that the part most packed with meaning is the throwaway ending sequence. The father discovers the son has been playing pranks and cranking out huge phone bills. The whole bit was so beautiful and aching, and somehow that made it funnier than the rest. I’m not sure what kind of magic is being tapped here and when Goliath rants about how much easier it used to be unimpressed, but there’s something almost enlightening in seeing these profound moments happen in the midst of people trying to discredit a dog’s bachelor’s degree.

Low Points

Britta

What the hell’s happening with her character? I love her. I truly do. This episode doesn’t seem to know what to do with her, so it just shits on her, almost gives her something to do (when things get psychedelic), and then she just falls asleep. So disappointed.

Hope

hope

Hope – that and $1.79 will get you a candy bar.

This whole exchange: maybe it’s an expression of my own cynicism, but I hate conversations about hope in TV shows. I mean, will the outcome ever be Annie saying, “Wow, you’re right! Hope really screwed me over!” I honestly wish it would. I feel like hopelessness is, ironically, funnier (think It’s Always Sunny, or Arrested Development). Hope deferred is rich comedic soil.

No heart

Not having Troy or Shirley is really creating drag on the show. They were both so pure and naive that it gave the show heart, and replacing Shirley with another Annie type is bogging this episode in so much analytically minded stuff that it feels like something we might have seen in the year of the gas leak.

By the numbers

The fact that two of the protagonists have this conversation of the hope automatically pigeonholes the episode: there’s only one place it can go, and it’s not going to be the direction in which we learn hope is a lie only fool’s believe. Of course Annie’s values will be reinforced.

Predictions

A home for Goliath

When I learned Goliath was on the show, Jesus wept. I love this guy and everything he and his magnificent voice have been in. But we’re three episodes in, and one of the core characters have yet to justify why they’re there. His big contribution this episode was asking, “Oh, were you close?” when Annie leaves the room in disgust. Which is funny, but I still don’t understand why this character is needed yet (other than de-whitening the cast a little bit). So… yeah… my prediction is that this guy is going to have to justify himself.

pants

Eventually, all pants will have poop in them.

word.

I was not impressed by this episode. Chang tore this bitch up, and is easily the funniest character now. But this episode was formulaic, a little short on the laughs, and didn’t really feel like it added anything. I think this is my least liked Harmon-episode. If it weren’t for the year of the gas leak, it’d probably get at least a D, maybe an F, but because that season set the bar so high for garbage, I give this episode a C.

 

Well, would you look here. A new blog. Haven’t done one of those in awhile. At any rate, we have business we need to get down to, so stop goofing around.

I was browsing through the internet, as I’m given to do, when I stumbled across a list of “101 strange beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” I’m not exactly crazy about the jay dubya, might even say that they exhibit certain cult like behavior, but I don’t particularly not like them either. At any rate, this is a list compiled by a couple who were formerly JW, and now Evangelical Christian. So, from one kind of crazy to another. This list was too much that I couldn’t not comment. This post (series of) might even be viewed as petty and small minded, but I’m willing to accept that as a valid criticism. But you might agree with me. Or not. On with the show.

A final note is that I’ll be viewing this from an un-church view. I’m not antagonistic (towards either side really), but I’m certainly not viewing the alleged strangeness of this list with religious eyes.

1. God is not a Trinity; the doctrine is inspired by the Devil.
This one is something that Jews, Muslims, and many Christians worldwide might even agree upon. I wouldn’t go as far as to say devil inspired, but I do think it’s a misguided theology.

2. Jesus is not to be worshiped or prayed to-he is only an angel (a.k.a. Michael the archangel).
I wouldn’t necessarily call this weird. No more weird than saying that a man is God, or God incarnate.

3. Jesus Christ is a “created being,” who at one time did not exist.
I actually have to agree here.

4. The Holy Spirit is not a person but is “God’s active force” i.e. gravity, electricity etc.
Makes sense.

5. Heaven is hope only for select Jehovah’s Witnesses. The majority of JWs hope to live on “paradise earth.”
What a strange and mind bending thing to hope for.

6. Heaven is limited only to 144,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses.There are only 9,105 alive today (2006 figures).
First off, pretty much every religion (or most) believe that heaven is reserved only for their particular followers. Once you accept, or deny, that, whatever sentence follows is pretty irrelevant. Either way you or aren’t getting in.

7. Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only “true Christians.” All churches and denominations are considered “false religion.”
Pretty sure I know Christians that believe their doctrine denomination is, on the generous end, most correct, and on the sever end the “true” version. Also, Catholics are going to hell.

8. There is no Hell or eternal judgment (“Hell” is simply the grave).
Since none of use currently living have experienced hell, we can’t really say one way or another, can we? Once again, if you accept the premise, then you’ll accept the conclusion. I’ve seen good intentioned and intelligent Christians argue (and very convincingly) against the concept of hell as a place for eternal punishment.

9. There is no life after death except for the 144,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses.
This isn’t crazy, per se, but it does sort of conflict with the other JW’s that hope to live in “paradise on earth” up there in number five. I guess you could argue it’s crazy, or at least self delusional, to hope for something that you’ll obviously not experience in your lifetime knowing full well it’s unlikely to happen. It also seems like a huge detractor to have to be fastidiously moral and wear funny undergarments if you’re only going to cease existing once you kick the bucket. Seems kind of a lot pointless.

10. Salvation is earned only by being a loyal Jehovah’s Witness.
Most religions believe this. This is like number 7. Of course the only way to get into heaven is by being a good (insert religion). Any religion that encouraged otherwise is sabotaging itself.

This is the first ten. I plan on going through the whole list, and you guys can tell me what you think. Or not. I don’t want to be unsympathetic to these people. After all, they did write a book called “They Wanted Our Baby to Die!” which I scanned through. Essentially, their daughter needed a blood transfusion, which is a no no as we’ll see later, so they left the JW (government stepped in and legally forced the transfusion), and some other Christian church stepped in and provided food and whatnot. Moved by the friendliness of the Christian church, they decided to jump on board. Presented with a similar decision, I would have acted similarly. The JW elder did say that he hoped the kid got hepatitis to prove it was wrong. That is a pretty big asshole move. And this list was compiled in February of 09, so it’s very recent.

I guess the reason for this list is to look at how Christians fall into the same logic, or share similar beliefs as things they call cults. Really, I should specify “Christians.” I could just say people, but in this particular instance, the contrast is between JW and Christian. I wanted to stress that when I cite crazy on either side, it’s not because I hate/love one over the other, but because each side is equally susceptible to crazy and favoritism.

Next, part 2.

Steve and Lauren hosted another mouth-watering Slow Food weekend a few weeks ago, and Steve posed the question, “What would it take to get people involved in the Slow Food conversation?”

That really tripped my wires and I’ve been thinking about it a lot. See, when I think “people” I think of the families I work for; single-parent families who rely on CCAP to pay for their childcare, and work a minimum-wage job when they’re not trying to finish a degree at Metro. Time and slowing down is something far out of their frame of vision. Slow food for me and Cuyler is much more attainable, and we cook at home, from scratch, about five nights a week. Why? Because I love it and he’s along for the ride, although his personal reading and cooking journey is becoming very meaningful..ask him about Fast Food Nation (and the amazing soup he made).

I learned to love cooking in college, before I knew about the “movement”. It’s a stress reliever for me as a process and certainly it tastes better! Grilling a steak, simmering a sauce or a curry, making a salad with a glass of wine that slowly increases my feeling of warmth as the food slowly cooks…I absolutely could not live without it now.

So, okay, it’s great for me. How, and WHY, do we convince people with no time that Slow Food deserves a place in their lives..a place that would certainly have to be carved out by eliminating something else?

I don’t know the final answers to that question, but I know what they would ask.

1. What for? What’s in it for me? Why should I rearrange my very busy life to spend a few hours cooking every day when I could just order a pizza?

2. How can I afford it?

3. How can I make the time?

I only have very vague ideas of how I would answer these questions, but here’s the gist of it.

1. Health benefits, family bonding time, better-tasting food, and knowing what is going into your body.

2. You might not be able to, but cooking at home with cheap ingredients will be less expensive than eating out every time.

3. Making the time is where is really cuts. In the life of a single parent, getting home at 6 or later, dog-tired, is exactly how normal goes. Homework for the kids, dinner, bed; there’s no room for relaxed cooking in there. The only place you might be able to carve out the time is television. If there’s any kind of tv happening in there, there’s at least 30 minutes that could go into a meal.

But….the kids will pitch a fit, they definitely won’t help cook (kids of single parents often run the show because their parent either feels too guilty or too tired to step up and discipline) and do you really want to deal with all that?

There’s no question that life is hard for the minimum wage earners of America, and all the “time saving” options helpfully offered by the television and convenience food industries only make everything worse. We live on over-processed crap, visual and edible, because we are too tired to make anything better for ourselves…we are too busy working that awful job to pay the rent and buy the Lunchables and soda, we don’t have time to cook.

The TV is largely to blame, in my opinion, because it is the voice in every house that says “Faster, faster” All The Time. If we could silence that voice we might have both time to cook and the space to slow down.

SO essentially, you’d have to convince families that there were real benefits for them in learning to cook; then that the only way to make space for it is to shut off the tv and get the kids in the ktchen helping.

That would have positive effects too, since the next generation would grow up knowing how to feed themselves to some extent.

My heart aches for the kids who stumble, bleary-eyed, into my classroom at 7:30 am, clutching a Pop-tart and a can of Pepsi. I know they have a Lunchable in their bag and I sincerely doubt that dinner will be a lovingly prepared, balanced meal. Food is an expression of love to me, and although I know that these parents love their kids, I wish I could see a clear path to helping them give their kids a piece of bread instead of a snake or the equivalent breakfast pastry.

I was just thinking. I had forgotten the final resolution I’d made that year when I made my more successful ones. It was to not hide my personality behind a fake personality. I feel it’s served me well. I think it’s worked out better for me than when I used to put up a public veneer. My real personality is perhaps not the most elegant tool, and the veneer is certainly less harsh, but it’s kind of bland. Showing off my personality has been sort of a freeing practice. But it’s kind of hard. Some days when I’m not paying attention, when I’m being a little lax, when I’m trying hard, I’ll accidentally slip back back into that veneer.

Along those lines, I’m going to stop giving milquetoast answers. “What it is I mean by this?” you might ask. For example, when people ask, “so, what church you going to?” and I saymumble that I’m not, and they ask why (very shockedly I may add), I will simply say, “not interested,” instead of the white lie method I’ve knee-jerk developed of saying that I just haven’t found one yet. It’s true I haven’t found one, but that also implies I’ve been looking. Which I haven’t.

I was actually thinking about this while watching Steve Jobs give the graduation speech at Stanford. He said the thing about how he woke up every morning and thought, “if I were going to die tomorrow, would I want to do the thing I’m going to do today?” A statement like that king of actually means something coming from a guy like that. But instead of thinking about what I am doing, it just kind of made me think that I often say things I don’t mean, or at least in ways I don’t mean it.

If one is interested, one can find the speech nyahways.

I just sort of realized that I could have also titled this blog, “So You Want a Resolution.” But I didn’t. Be grateful I didn’t.

‘ve not really ever been much into resolutions, making or keeping them. And by use of extrapolation, I haven’t been much for breaking them if I haven’t been making them. I’ve only ever made them once before, and that was at the the 06/07 switch over. I had resolved, or resoluted as I would prefer to say, to blog (I think) 3 times a week, write a certain number of times a week, and then have a serious romantic relationship by the end of 07, and married within a year of it. I kept the first two for the first half of the year, which is pretty impressive by most standards, I reckon, and I completely made a goal point with the third one. “Nothing but net,” I believe they would say, or perhaps, “from downtown.” Not only did I have a serious romantic relationship by the end of 07, but I was married within six months. Take that resolution!

I didn’t make any for 07/08, but if I had, it would probably have been something like, “don’t mess up, don’t mess up, don’t mess up,” and I think I would have done pretty ok at it. But I didn’t, so I didn’t. And did. At the same time.

Shannon said to me that it would be nice to make creativity an objective for this year. Which I agreed with. As such, she has stuffed her Etsy full of stuff that you should buy, or tell your friends to buy, and started a brand new blog with which she can pimp her Etsy warez. It’s been really cool watching her go to town on this stuff. I really admire her talent with yarn and fabrics. She’s amazing. Now if only she would make me my ManHood (I can’t hyperlink you yet, as it doesn’t actually exist. That’s right, I made it up).

I decided to start a new blog as well. This blog that you’re reading is supposed to be a joint effort. Things that either we both do, or effect both of us. Something like that. The reality is probably something closer to, “sit and collect dust.” At any rate, whether or not it was active or inactive, there are things I want to talk about that I kind of think would violate the spirit of this blog. Mainly things of a media and entertainment nature, which is why I am now Not Quite Cultured (A Blog Of Cultural Implications. Almost.). This blog represents one aspect of my share in the New Year Objectives. The other two big things I want to do are to write a sort of spiritual memoir-in-progress, and some sort of fictional book. The spiritual book is based on the premise that my beliefs have changed considerably from when I was first able to structure them, and continue to change, and it’s simply me nothing those changes. The fictional book’s content I’m uncertain of. There’s a song called Nutopia by an industrial-metal band called Pigface, and it seems conceptual. It’s about a woman living in a city that’s super segregated by false technological barriers. The sound of the song is very futuristic, and semi-nihilist, but it gave me an idea for a sort of sci-fi book that I think could be quite compelling. Plus, it’d have a song as its source of inspiration. How rad would that be. Very is the answer. The other idea I’m kicking around is a zombie story. It’s kind of an unorthodox zombie story, but I don’t know if I would be able to actually finish it. Mostly because at this exact moment I’ve hit something of a zombie phase thanks to The Walking Dead and World War Z, and I don’t know how long that will last. To be fair, I guess you could say I hit something of a sci-fi phase about 15 years ago, and I also don’t know how long that will last, but odds are good that it’ll be longer than the zombie one.

Perhaps a lighter more secondary (quaternary/tertiary) objective would be sculpy. I discovered I have a talent for this stuff, and I think it would be good to try to refine that talent. But I would have to work small, and I don’t think it’ll be a major focus for quite awhile yet, as I don’t have Shannon’s ability to pull images out of my mind and make them exist.

To recap:

Dear Santa,

You may have noticed that I have been almost unbelieveably good this year. In fact, I can’t remember ever being so good.  I have not stolen any cookies, hit my brother, lied to my mom, or neglected to do my homework.

The great thing about getting older is that the list of things that are naughty is suddenly much smaller. All the rules put in place to train you are removed, and you are left on your own to decide what constitutes a good life.

Here is all the good stuff I did this year:

Graduated from college.

Got married to a nice boy.

Paid my bills.

Got a job as a kindergarten teacher and did well at it.

Here’s what I didn’t do so great at:

Patience, kindness, selflessness, controlling my temper, self-denial, gratitude and avoiding gossip.

So  the big stuff is still there, I guess. Always will be. I can accomplish stuff that makes my parents proud, but that isn’t what really makes me feel I’ve progressed. the only progress I feel I’ve made is the tiny handful times I managed to control myself in any of the above-mentioned ways without the threat of a spanking to reign me in. I did it myself.

All that makes my list seem silly, now. Still, in the spirit of kindergarten priorities and since I’ve got my list for what I’m making for everyone else all prepared…

For Christmas I would like A GIANT SQUID. squid This one is neat too, although not quite as neat:octopus

A robot that cleans things, like this: robot
A robot that wakes you up: robot

I would like a kitchen timer shaped like something amusing, like this: timer

I would like a sewing machine like this: sewing machine

I would like this amazing book: book

I would like this squid shadow puppet: squid
A necklace like this: necklace

An i-dog: dog
The Octonaut books: book
Edward Gorey books: book

A french coffee press that makes extra-good coffee: coffee

A pink deer lamp (gawd help us) deer lamp

A cookie jar that looks like a cupcake: cookie jar
And I would like a puppy. A Bassett or a Dachshund. I know I won’t really get one, but I thought I’d ask anyway.

Love,

Shannon

So, I know it’s really late for a political rant of any sort, but your comfort is one of my highest priorities, which is why I had to talk about it sooner or later.

The thing that bugs me about every election ever is the way both sides work themselves up into an animal frenzy. I remember it with Clinton vs. George Bush senior, Clinton vs. Bob Dole (I like Bob Dole himself, but despise their family’s business practices), W vs Gore, W vs Kerry, and now in the latest line of bull, McCain vs. Obama. Sides absolutely polarize and turn the other candidate into the anti-Christ. In particular, I’ve read on 3 or 4 blogs, and heard from several different people that, (quote)This is one of the most important elections of our generation(end quote). I think the assumption here is that once Obama is elected, the devil (Republicans in general, all Republicans specifically) will be thrown in the fiery pit, and the 1,000 year reign of Ombama (Christ) personified will begin. And because we all know Jesus wasn’t really black, the Republicans will simply refortify the boundaries against those freakshow homos and their selfish desire to get married.

Seriously folks, this election isn’t “one of the most important of our generation.” It’s like all the others, and specifically, all the others that were “one of the most important of our generation.” Unless it’s Godzilla vs. Mothra for the white house, it’s probably not going to be all that important. Congress will block the president at every turn, as Congress is given to doing, some people will blow the golden trumpets and slay the fatted calf, others will rent their clothes and bath in ashes.

It occurs to me that that was an excellent stopping point, but it also bugs me that none of the other presidential candidates (Bob Barr, Nader, McKinney, Charles Jay, Alan Keyes to name a few) ever get invited to the presidential debates. There are other people out there besides the big two, and even if they don’t win (have a snowball’s chance in Tuscon), people should get to hear them speak right along side the others.

Local politics never gets any coverage, ever. You have to do some relatively hard research on local stuff to get information. Which seems ridiculous, because as a general rule, the stuff decided at state level will effect me more than the stuff decided at a federal level. Unless it’s a constitutional amendment or casual Friday.

Lastly, I’m tired of hearing people talk about Bill Clinton as if he was the appetizer to the thousand year reign, John to Obama’s Jesus. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people praise him with glowing accolades like, “except for the cheating on his wife thing, he was the perfect president.” Right. Which is why he lied in front of the supreme court. I really don’t care if he cheated on his wife. On a personal level, that’s a real bitch and hurts like lemon in the eye, but it doesn’t really mean a whole lot when it comes to leading a country. Thomas Jefferson and Kennedy both had mistresses to name two off the top of my head, and look what they did. Infidelity is an issue between the Clintons, and while I would have voted to impeach them at one point, now I would not. The thing is, however, he lied in front of the impeachment hearing, and that’s why he should have been impeached. Also; 400 dollar hammers, 1200 dollar toilet seats. It seems like I’m the only person in all of existence that remembers those. And to answer your inevitable question: no, the white house wasn’t really buying 400 dollar hammers and 1200 dollar toilet seats. These were misappropriated funds used to buy themselves hundreds of pounds of lollipops and gallons of mint julep. That is to say: who knows what they bought, but they didn’t buy what they said they did.

So, I hope you enjoyed this little talk. I feel like we’ve grown closer for it.

So, many of you might think to yourselves, “I really want to make an indy movie, but I just don’t know how!” Well, that’s why I’m here. Perhaps you just feel overwhelmed by the deceptive enormity of such a project, or perhaps you’ve never given it much thought. If this is your first time or last time, it’s guaranteed to be a great time if you follow these five simple guidelines!

  1. Quaint is good. In the indy (short for independent to those in the business) movie business, you want your characters to be really flat and plain. A good rule of thumb would be: the quainter, the better.

  2. Awkward is good. In the indy movie business, awkward is better. Try to minimize the amount of “chemistry” (how well the actors naturally interact with each other) present between your actors. This way, when the awkwardness comes (and believe me it will), it will feel more natural, and will relieve a burden of acting from your actors (related; seek actors with no innate acting ability). Some suggestions for awkward scenes would be as follows: long stretches of silence while you pan across the character’s faces, prolonged dinner scenes with no sound except forks clacking against plates (optional is face panning, with the actors looking, naturally, bored), and finally, perhaps most importantly, is just simply awkward conversation. A true indy film writer will make Seinfeld look like Emily Dickenson poetry. And the best way to make sure that your movie truly embodies the spirit of the awkward indy movie, monitor your audience’s reaction. Check for signs of self consciousness and physical discomfort.

  3. Use atypical compositions in your filming. A good example would be to have people off of camera center during the scenes of awkwardly panning from face to face. Shaky camera syndrome is really effective as well. Try loading the camera man up on barbiturates and pain killers. I dare him to be able to stand steady! Remember: in the indy film, no camera technique is wrong, so experiment and go wild!

  4. Art. Some people say that art is a window in humanity’s soul. If this is true, you want people to assume that humanity is a retarded 7 year old when they look through your window to humanity’s soul. “What do you mean retarded 7 year old?” you might (and should!) ask. Let me stop being esoteric: throughout time, people have been artistically creative, slowly over time being capable of representing human experience and emotion more and more accurately, with greater levels of detail and drama. Do away with all of that. The fewer elements you have, the better off you’ll be. Do away with things like Basic Human Anatomy, and an Understanding of Structure and Layout. Pretty much, you can just wing it, and you can’t go wrong!

  5. This is the final and perhaps most important element of the indy film: crappy music. Remember that to be truly indy, you have to have music by bands that no one has heard of, and chances are that the fewer number of people that have heard of the band, the worse they are. A few things to listen for are an acoustic guitar with simple, detuned, repetitive “melodies,” and a singer who doesn’t know what a “pitch” or a “melody” is. If emo kids think it’s genius, by Jove, you’ve gotta have it in your indy movie, because it’s guaranteed that no one else will!

Indy film makers have been getting rich for years and weaving whole wardrobes made from dollar bills by following this simple formula! So just remember to be quaint, awkward, utilize the shaky camera, have sub par art direction, and terrible music and people will be flocking to see your movie just to prove their own totally unique and independent indy pride!

Cuyler is taking a Sci Fi Lit class, and came up with an amazing idea for a final project based on this: (WARNING: contains very disturbing images and….well, it’s pretty much totally disturbing)

A Demented Love: The Story of Carl von Cosel’s Obsession

The story will be revealed as we go…for now, call it an alternative ending to this very sad story.

1. Finish my CO teaching certification.

2. Send my resume to all surrounding school districts.

3. Be a doggy foster parent.

4. Weigh 120 pounds.

5. Submit a design to a magazine.

6. Finish editing and writing memoir-ish stories.

7. Own a garter belt.

8. Convert back patio into garden, and raise a successful garden using actual gardening knowledge involving pH and so on.

9. Teach in another country (Nepal?) for a year.

10. Do photo comic with husband.

11. Write and illustrate Edwin book.

12. Write thank you notes.

13. Finish putting photo albums together.

14.