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In Memoriam: Waldorf Van Buren

His name wasn’t Waldorf, obviously. It was Brett Fauver. And if you only knew him from his work here at Suburban Panic, then you only knew a very small facet of his life. Brett was a writer, an actor and a director, a graphic designer. He was also a husband, and father to three wonderful boys. And for the better part of a decade and a half, Brett was my friend.

I won’t try to sum up our entire friendship in this small space. We were sometimes rivals, sometimes collaborators. We shared an apartment at one point, and we disagreed as often as we saw eye to eye. He made me laugh as consistently as anyone ever has, and he challenged me in ways that I didn’t always realize until many years later.

Brett and I did share one conviction that I’m sure of, and that was the belief that this life, this existence, is the most important. Brett believed that the love of his wife and sons, the fellowship of his friends and the joy that he brought to people through his work in the theater, was far more precious and valuable than any possible reward he might receive after this life was over.

He had the type of cancer known as Hodgkins disease for about seven years. Through two bone marrow transplants, half a dozen remissions and recurrences, Brett never stopped fighting, and he never stopped planning for the work he wanted to do when he finally beat the disease, as he always expected to. He was always putting together his next big project, and even when his schemes were derailed by his illness, he never allowed anyone to believe that it was permanent. He was determined to make the most of the life he had, and I can say with some certainty that, while his life’s work was far shorter than it should have been, its effect in terms of the lives it touched was immeasurable.

It is a small thing, but an important one, I think, that we’re clear about how he died. It was not the cancer that killed him. Brett was undergoing chemotherapy, preparing his body for a planned third bone marrow transplant. When his immune system was at its nadir, beaten down by the treatment, he got an infection. It rapidly overwhelmed his weakened body, and ultimately took his life.

In the end, he was felled by an outside invader, and not the uncontrolled growth of his own cells. He was determined not to let cancer beat him, and he succeeded. While he died because of the cancer, and the treatments he needed in order to try to fight it, he didn’t die from the cancer. Again, it is a small distinction. But it would be, I think, an important one to him.

I often think of each life as a trajectory, like a comet falling through space. As we pass other objects, our paths are altered, sometimes subtly, sometimes radically. My path had occasion to cross Brett’s many times over the years, and I like to think that the changes he made to my orbit were almost all for the better. I will miss you, my friend, and I will always remember your passion, your energy and your determination. Thank you for everything. If there is a world waiting for us after this one, I’m sure you’re already changing the blocking.

Originally published at Suburban Panic!. You can comment here or there.
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Click to Support Fair and Impartial Courts

While I was in law school, I worked as a co-op student at Pennsylvanians For Modern Courts. PMC is a small non-profit that does education and outreach on court issues, including increasing juror education and participation, and advocating for a merit selection system for appellate judges in Pennsylvania. They do great work, and like most non-profits, they do it on a vanishingly small budget.

Chase Community Giving is offering $25,000 to 100 small non-profit organizations that receive the most votes. Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts needs YOUR VOTE!

If you are on Facebook, here’s all you will need to do to vote:

1) Click here:

2) After clicking on the link above, Facebook will ask you if you want to “Allow Access” to Chase Community Giving (CCG).

3) Click the “Allow” button (note – you can always remove the application from your account after you vote, but it is not an annoying application, as some can be).

4) This will bring you to our page on the CCG Facebook site.

5) In order to vote, you must click the “Become a Fan” button. This will make you a “fan” of CCG.

6) Vote for PMC by clicking the “Vote for Charity” button with the handprint image.

To learn more about PMC, visit or

Originally published at Suburban Panic!. You can comment here or there.

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Chemotherapy and Holistic “Medicine”

Recently, there has been a spate of deaths related to cancer, such as Mary Travers, Farrah Fawcett, and Patrick Swayze to name but a few of the most prominent cases.  The Patrick Swayze case is remarkable in that he survived the fight against pancreatic cancer for so long.   Pancreatic cancer does not have a very good track record with or without treatments, and unfortunately the life expectancy is only about 5 to 8 months.  However that number is a statistic that needs to be reexamined in light of new treatments.  ( That Mr. Swayze survived for twenty-two months with the disease is promising, though I do not know what treatments he may or may not have received.  Suzanne Somers, who also had a struggle with Breast Cancer, offers that Mr. Swayze was poisoned by chemotherapy.  If chemotherapy was indeed used, and the probability is very high, then yes, he indeed was poisoned.  That’s what chemotherapy is.  That’s why there are side effects.  To say that chemotherapy should not be used is irresponsible at this point until further non-chemical alternatives can be found, tested, and approved.

I know very little about pancreatic cancer, except that it affected my family doctor, one of my uncles, and countless other people around the world.  Personally, I lucked out in the cancer lottery by only getting Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which is supposedly easy to treat and cure comparatively (though I’m on my fourth recurrence and the “cure/treat” claim has yet to be proven to me).  I know about toxicity and toxic effects of chemotherapy drugs, as well as the detriments of radiation therapy.  I haven’t had any major surgeries, just minor ones to grab lymph nodes.  I know how the drugs made me feel, and I know what the drugs did to my body.  I am still alive after seven years thanks to the chemotherapy drugs and the skilled doctors who performed countless procedures on me.  My lungs and heart are weakened, my eyesight has degenerated, my bones more brittle, but those have not only to do with the countless drugs but also the effects of aging, albeit that aging process has been sped up.  However, if you put aside that, I know that I am alive and I thank chemotherapy for this opportunity.

I do not love chemotherapy.  In fact, I dread sitting in the comfortable leather chair with the liquid poison entering into my system.  Cancer needs to be defeated once and for all, and while there are effective weapons to do it, it creates a “scorched body” as it eliminates all reproductive cells.  Research has been going on for years to find better ways to cure the body, and I do agree with the Holisticators out there that natural means are needed to keep the body healthy, I do not see those natural means as any thing but a placebo right now.  It is important to stay healthy and eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of filtered, clean water.  Don’t put any more toxins in your body than necessary (which makes breathing, eating, and drinking in our world fairly precarious).  New methods, however, are being tested daily.  Doctors are increasingly searching for ways to lessen the toxicity while maximizing the effectiveness.  Vaccines, immunotherapy, monoclonal antibodies (also immunotherapy), stem cells, ways to boost the immune system are currently expanding and making huge exponential steps.  The treatments in the seventies have become third tier options, and the options of two years ago are being replaced with newer, more effective drugs or treatments.  However, holistic medicine is not anywhere near the top of board-certified doctors’ lists.  They may encourage use of these therapies as adjutant or complementary therapies, but by no means would a reasonable, logical, or sane person suggest that they be used alone.

During one of my previous recurrences, I was advised to “heal myself” with no other explanation.  I was also advised to bring more lavender into my life.  I am not sure what lavender would do other than possibly unblock a chakra or two, and I’m not entirely sure which chakra is connected to my lymphoma.  I HAVE meditated.  In fact, I meditate as much as I can.  I do believe that Eastern Medicine and sagacity of the mystics has its place in healing and as preventative measures, but the facts are firmly in Western Medicine’s corner for the curative aspects when dealing with life-threatening disease.  You can have it both ways if you deal with it in a logical fashion.  Pray all you want, but not for a miracle.  It doesn’t happen that way.  If it did, we wouldn’t need doctors at all, and health insurance would rely on how powerful your deity is.  However, I’m not saying don’t pray, either.  It’s as good as meditation for preventative medicine.

So while Suzanne Somer’s particular point of crazy is true, Patrick Swayze WAS poisoned by chemotherapy, as true to its purpose, but coffee enemas, juicing, and jumping on a personal trampoline are not ways to cure or treat cancer.  Crazy is not a treatment. Neither is placing a crystal over the affected area, applying oils, or meditating on a cure.  It’s a surefire way to increase your odds of dying a drawn-out, painful death.  Don’t accept one doc’s diagnosis, either, go to a second doctor for options, but be sure to know quackery from medicine.  Holistic medicine might not be as bad as snake oil, but the way it’s pushed it sure does resemble it.

Related articles:</p>

You can follow me on Twitter @derylykt.  Waldorf’s other blog, which contains some other things but is mostly just reposts of his Suburban Panic junk, at  It’s not nearly as exciting there as it is here, though.

Originally published at Suburban Panic!. You can comment here or there.

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I’d Like to Ruin Television for You 2009-2010: Saturday/Sunday

I’d Like to Ruin Television For You: 2009-2010 Season: The Weekend

The weekend, to me, doesn’t matter, except it means I get to hang out with my friends who work for a living and I get my kids all day and all night until sitter/school on Monday mornings. So I don’t have much time for Television, much less anything else. However, I have researched what to watch, what to DVR, and what to avoid for the Saturdays and Sundays of lonely nights alone, warming your hands by the blue heat of the television.

Saturdays are lean on the original programming side, because execs understand that normal people go out and do things on Saturday night, so they don’t try to lure us in with Touched by an Angel or Covington Cross. Well, they don’t anymore. Saturdays is for Football and Reality TV. ABC is no exception as it gives us Saturday Night Football. College football, which is way more exciting than Professional American Football, so says I. Being a Buckeyes fan, I have a feeling I won’t have a good time watching any college football this year.

CBS is all about Crime and milking the cow until she’s dry, bleeding the turnip, and getting water from that rock. Crimetime Drama, as they so pluckily call it, consists of RERUNS of procedural police dramas, such as CSI, CSI:NY, CSI: Altoona, etc. They then follow CRIMETIME DRAMA with REAL crime with 48 Hours Mystery, a documentary of true crime in a 48-hour period. It helped usher in the age of the Reality program. I’m not knocking any of the programming, except, that in one sense, I am. It’s nothing new or original or exciting, just the bland leftovers of yesteryear.

FOX shows TWO episodes of COPS (holy crapola, that’s still on?), with America’s Most Wanted at 9:00 PM. Nothing new, borrowed, or blue; just old.

NBC gives us a documentary news program with Dateline NBC, which I watch when I remember to watch. Usually pretty good even if Stone Phillips’ voice makes my ears bleed. Just kidding, Stone. You keep doin’ what you’re doin’. They then give us ENCORES of shows they played earlier in the week. Trauma and Law and Order:SVU. I didn’t watch them earlier in the week, what makes you think I am going to give a shit about them on Saturday? Except to DVR Trauma. . . perhaps. I’ve been wrong before (oh have I), so maybe I will give Trauma a watch or two. I feel I will have to if my wife has anything to say about it (she also watches Ghost Whisperer and Two and a Half Men, so I am stuck).


Oh, Lord, on this day of days to rest (if it were actually the day of rest, which it isn’t), please give me some of that sweet sweet pap of Sundertainment. And. . . Dammit!

ABC vomits out the same garbage as before, starting with America’s Most Horrible and Embarrasing Injuries, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (does it come with a fake Sears’ card?), Desperate (for ratings) Housewives, and Brothers and Sisters. And I watch none of them, neither should you. While DH used to have pretty sharp writing and wit, it has declined over the years. While last season did have some perky moments, it couldn’t keep my interest past five episodes.

NBC has NFL football, and unless the Pittsburgh Steelers (yeah, I’m one of THOSE!) are playing, I won’t be watching.

CBS shovels out 60 Minutes, which is still a great show despite Andy Rooney. On top of that is the Amazing Race, which used to be novel for a reality show, and is no longer. Follow it up with a helping of Three Rivers, a medical procedural drama in a fictional transplant hospital in Pittsburgh. I can see the titles now, “Kidney Beens”, “I Need a Heart from San Francisco”, “Give me my Spleen, Please!”, etc. I would not like it in a boat, on a moat, or with a goat. CBS caps off the night with Cold Case, which, again used to be a novel way of telling a story, but has grown somewhat stale – As with most network programming. However, creatives do face the trickiness of changing a show by adding more characters, creating implausible scenarios, or changing the structure of a winner, and by doing, taking a jump over that mighty shark.

FOX finishes up its NFL Sunday with a recap of the days highlights and immediately dives into Animation Domination, as it was called a few years ago. It sandwiches The Cleveland Show (a takeoff from Family Guy in which we follow the loveable Scrubs) between an ancient, toothless The Simpsons and the beat-a-dead-horse Family Guy. The Simpsons is probably my all-time favorite show. Of all-time. ALL-TIME. I used to be able to quote with the best of them. Alas, either I grew up (NEVER!) or the show declined in sharpness (say it ain’t so!). I believe that a mixture of both with a great heaping of competing with the faster paced LCD comedy of Family Guy did it in. Well, not did it in as in killed it, but accelerated the decline to what we have today. While it might never reach the heights it did in seasons two through six, it is still the smartest, funniest show on Sunday night. Oh yeah, American Dad also runs.

That’s it for this season, except for a quick rant I will do about midseason replacements, coming soon. I hope you enjoyed, or at least tolerated, this year’s I’d Like to Ruin Television for You.

You can hear a poorly produced audio version at

Originally published at Suburban Panic!. You can comment here or there.

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I’d Like to Ruin Television for you, 2009-2010 edition: Thursday/Friday

Previously, on ER. . .

ILRT4Y readers would know what just happened.  What comes in this installment will be a bit of a softer side of the Waldorf/Brett persona, if only for a fleeting second or two.  Most of the “good” television (for major networks) displays during the evening hours of Thursday evenings, where armies of demons battle against strange time traveling events, dna evidence, and Michael Scott.  It’s truly a battle for the hearts and minds of the television viewing audience, and why they couldn’t have done this for a Tuesday or a Wednesday I have no idea, but I am sure some savvy marketing guru with a finger on the pulse of demography knows his shit very well.  All I have to say is Thank Hitchins for Hulu, Netflix, and the availability of some shows n Network Websites.  If I did not have these resources, my DVR would commit suicide with so much pressure with the options of what to record.  That’s silly, robots don’t have emotions, except for the few angerbots on talk radio, of course.

ABC, 1-2-3, baby you and me. . .  Give us the goods.  We get FlashForward, a mind-bender I think, based on the novel of the same name by Robert J. Sawyer.  It seems kind of “Lost-ish”, which could work for it or against it.  The premise is that a simultaneous event occurs, blacking out everyone for a period of time where they see their lives six months in the future.  During the blackout, people who are controlling things let those things go out of control, like planes, trains, and automobiles.  And monkeys.  Anyway, a lot of death occurs in the blackouts and the survivors are looking forward to seeing if those moments will really come true.  It would be cooler if we blacked out for 8 years starting in 2001, but what an incredible shock we’d wake up to today, although I don’t think there would have been as much of a mess.  Good cast, decent premise, I’ll give it a go and keep you posted.  At 9 and 10, ABC delivers two more shows that I won’t watch – Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice.  Or Young Doctors in Love.  Let’s just say that an episode of Spongebob Squarepants has more plausible plotlines than these two cockamamie meditations on doctors being in love.  If it weren’t for Kevin McKidd, who was wonderful in both Rome and Journeyman, two shows that ended before their time, I’d pan completely.  But I won’t, because it’s not the CW.  Lost comes back to us midseason, and if the rumors are true, I can’t wait to see the redesigned skylons and sleestaks.  Sounds like a greasy meal from Waffle House.  “I’ll have the Skylon and Sleestak Special.  Smothered and chopped, please.”

CBS is feh/meh for Thursday.  Survivor:S’morea is more of the same, only in the land of chocolate.  CSI gives us another year of living in the crime filled Vegas.  Good thing so many of the vics and perps spew their DNA around everywhere.  Hey, what happens in Vegas, can usually be picked up by intense UV light.  The Mentalist is good and funny, but I think the novelty has worn off and I suspect that this could be the year for Psych to really hit it big, much like Pepsi-Kona.  Overall, 2/3 ain’t too bad, but they are mostly around for the nights when the other networks are showing repeats and it’s too damn cold/lava-filled outside to do anything else but vegetate.

Okay, I will pay attention to you now, The CW.  You have my attention with The Vampire Diaries and the waxing of Supernatural.  Kevin Williamson returns to the small screen.  He’s the guy responsible for Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Dawson’s Creek.  Yeah, that guy.  The guy responsible for the pairing of Cox and Arquette.  GET HIM!  It’s about twin vampires, one good and one evil.  Okay, I’m bored already.  Lemme guess, they are named Cain and Able?  No, actually they are named Stefan and Damon Salvatore.  Not like the Salvatores from The Great American Family Road Trip or whatever it was called, but close as in they were monsters, too.  The show has Ian Somerhalder and Steve McQueen (the grandson of Steve McQueen – the badass who can cross Europe on a motorcylce in five minutes), so. . . I don’t know what that means.  DVR it?  Sure.  A prelude to Supernatural’s possible last season.  I love this show.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s the music.  Maybe it’s the whole mythology of monsters, angels, and demons.  Maybe it’s the weird twists it takes.  Sure I can do without the campy episodes and the Linda Blair guest roles, but overall, I do like the show.  Yes, I know, it does have a degree of cheese and melodrama, and sure it IS just as bad as a daytime drama at points, but it knows that and it makes fun of itself, which is always a plus in my book.  They may not always get the mythology of certain creatures, creations, or legends right but that’s sort of the fun, the twists and turns.  I believe you can catch previous episodes online, Netflix, or even Hulu, so you might want to try to catch up a little bit.  Good news for Mischa Collins fans, he’s no longer recurring and is a regular.  More good news – Mark Pelligrino has been cast in a very cool role.  He’s that character actor who always seems to play a somewhat normal fellow with a psychopathic edge.  While I will probably be out getting my groove on or puking in a bucket thanks to chemotherapy on Thursday nights, I will give The CW priority.

Fox gives us the creaky old Bones, a show that jumped the shark two seasons ago, and Fringe, the non-X-Files show.  Meh and feh I say.  Meh and FEH!

NBC, the little network that abused us with bad shows on the promise of its past promises us funny Thursdays.  Can we forgive them for Boston Commons, Buffalo Bill, Madman of the People, Jesse or Stark Raving Mad?  My logic and reasoning screams at me not to, but my heart says yes, after NBS has reconciled its faults with the delightful ensemble comedies 30 Rock, The Office (which I daresay is as good, if not slightly better than Ricky Gervais’ original).  Parks and Recreation tries to capture the same spirit as The Office but sadly falls flat.  Community looks promising, though, without me explaining or giving any evidence.  I am going with my gut on this one.  And it’s a big gut.

ABC’s got nothing of interest for me.  The Supernanny can bite me, I am raising my little monkeys just fine and I don’t care how others raise their children, just keep them quiet at the movies, the restaurant, and Walmart.  I don’t want to see the process, I want to see the freakin result.  Ugly Betty is still wearing those damn ugly glasses, and while slightly amusing, it’s not worth an hour of my time on a Friday night.  I’ve got important stuff to do.  Very important. . . stuff.  Where was I?

CBS is still trying to revive a dead show in the name of Ghost Whisperer.  I don’t even want to think about that damn show.  Until those ghosts are chasing Shaggy and Scoob through an abandoned mine shaft, I’ll pass on the James Van Der Pragh “reality Fiction” based bullshit nonsense.  Instead I’ll watch something on SyFy, which has just as much credibility as GW.  It makes me want to skip Medium, which moved from NBC’s ever shifting scheduling to CBS’s craparama Friday nights.  While I have a bit of a mancrush on Jake Weber (mostly for his turn in the remake of Dawn of the Dead with the running zombies) and on Patty Arquette (True Romance), I find the plots a little numbing, but not always.  It’s worth the space on the Tivo/DVR.  Then it’s NUMB3RS.  I get it!  There’s a number in the name!  So it’s actually pronounced NUMBTHREERS, like the movie SE7EN should have been pronounced SESEVENEN.  A cop and a mathemetician walk into a bar.  The bartender asks what can I get you?  The cop says a beer, the mathemetician says Pi!  HARDEEHARHAR!!!  LAFF RIOT.  Okay, so the show has nothing to do with that bad joke, but I thought I should ass it in anyway, for sake of nonsequity.

FOX brings in Brothers, starring Michael Strahan (former NFL “star”) and Daryl Mitchell with CCH Pounder and Carl Weathers.  Annnndddd, that is the extent of my knoweldge on that show.  ANYhoo, it comes on before FOX tries again with ‘Til Death.  Fox, come here, I want to tell you something.  There’s nothing you can do at this point.  I know, I know.  Under ObamaCare I am required to talk about end-of-life care, and it’s just ‘Til Death’s time to go.  We’ve done all we can.  We put it on hiatus, we juggled the characters, we added a token “funny” African-American character, we got rid of the annoying couple next door, we tried everything we could possible do to make it work, but the patient is terribly terribly ill, so we just need to say our goodbyes and try to make the sitcom feel as comfortable as possibly, mmkay?  In a surprise move, Fox greenlit another season of Dollhouse.  I’m surprised.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Dollhouse and most things Whedon.  I stuck through the first few episodes, waiting, like everyone else, for the good ones, and I’m glad I did.  I do want more Alpha, though.  Not as an occuring every week type of villain, but as a menace that lurks, kind of like a phantom.  Only not sucky.  Anyway, kudos to FOX for allowing Dollhouse to grow richer and develop into the show it should be.

NBC is Law & Order and Southland, two shows I wouldn’t watch with YOUR DVR.  Pheh.

Yeah, I know I skipped CW Friday’s, but with Smallville and America’s Next Top Model, there isn’t much substance, which is quite like this blog post.

I hope I got my quota of geekchic pop culture references in.  I know you’ll tell me

Originally published at Suburban Panic!. You can comment here or there.

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I’d Like to Ruin Television for you, 2009-2010 edition: Tuesday/Wednesday

bad receptionPreviously, on Battlestar Galactica. . .

We previewed, however quickly with such cursory glances, the Monday night schedule for Television during the 2009-2010 “season”. (It’s TV season, get out yer guns and blaze away at those fleeting plasmas!). In today’s episode, I try not only to make sense of Tuesday night for you, but also Wednesday evening, and I plan on doing it in ONE post! I know, I KNOW! You can scarcely believe it, you say you need EVIDENCE! Oh, ye of little faith. . .

If Monday night seemed to be a less than pathetic waste of time, then Tuesday night will enable us to conserve energy by not turning on those devious appliances at all (though DVR’s and TIVO’s may be useful – but not for regular network programming). I shall start with ABC. They bring about a rehash from last season, Shark Tank, where budding entrepreneurs are subjected to the greediest, heartless investors known to man. Having lived through this embarrassment in real-life, I do not wish to watch even one minute on television, except perhaps, for a slight bit of shadenfreude. It’s like Dragon’s Den, or Tycoon, or any number of related series. However, it is only airing until November, when it is replaced by another rehashed series – V. The thought of this re-series simultaneously thrills and disgusts me. The thrill is that the original MINISERIES was very good, and made Marc Singer and Michael Ironsides household names (okay, that’s just a lie, and a bad one at that). The SERIES, however, didn’t die a quick enough death for me. I’m talking 1984 terms, too, when I was. . . twelve. Even I was savvy enough to know that the Visitors needed to have the reverb throat thingy. The producers simply blew it and I have been wounded ever since. Now that I am older and more “mature”, I find myself hedging, thinking it MIGHT be a good series, and I MIGHT give it a chance. On Tivo. I’ve always thought that remakes should be reserved for bad movies, and well, the 1984 V: The Series was as bad as it got (except for Cop Rock). So, in the spirit of forgiveness and of remaking horrible things, I will give it a few episodes. Of course, ABC will lose me with another hour of Dancing with the “STARS”, and I won’t return for the hour of Christian Slater squinting as an amateur detective trying to piece together crimes in ANOTHER Jerry Bruckheimer produced crapfest – The Forgotten. ABC can pretty much cram Tuesday night’s where the sun don’t shine, despite the possible stong offering of V (which includes Morena Baccarin and Alan Tudyk, both of Firefly “fame”).

CBS gives us the Mark Harmon NCIS, coupled with NCIS: Los Angeles, with Chris O’Donnel and LL Cool J. It’s like regular NCIS (which is an acquired taste) only in LA, with edgier, hipper NCIS agents, like the loose cannon Chris O’Donnel and the ultra-cool LL Cool J, investigating military crimes and misdemeanors . . . in LA. However, offsetting the ultra-cool and loose cannon we have Linda Hunt, the fantastic Elven actress from so many movies it’s impossible to name them all here. So, CBS gives us a full two hours of same-yet-different on Tuesday night’s, though I doubt any of the characters will utter anything as cool as David Caruso’s Horatio Cane. Ever. They then drop the ball with The Good Wife, which is about the wife of a jailed politician trying to make her own career with the baggage of that bastard hanging over him. It MIGHT be good if it weren’t for all of the true stories where this is really happening.

Fuck if I am going to say anything good about the CW’s Tuesday Nights. Since they did so well with 90210 last year, they brought it back with a re-envisioning of Melrose Place. I’m sure the skanky and crazy will be quadrupled due to inflation. Just do what I requested last year and give us two hours of new Firefly and Jericho. . .

FOX brings us two hours of So you Think You Can Dance, which was obviously inked by the studio that produced So We Fired All the Writers.

And NBC, in perhaps the biggest omen of their ratings for Tuesday night brings us more fatsploitation in The Biggest Loser. I’d rather watch David Hasslehoff eat a burger off of a sentient car. Feh and meh, I say.


So, while reading and scanning the lists of new shows on Wednesday evenings, I noticed I was becoming more and more depressed. I don’t know why, except that the “quality” of television programming has gone horrendously downhill, and I’m just talking about crap from the 80’s. As lame as it was “Buck Rogers” was still awesome for the time, as was Dallas, The Cosby Show, Cheers, Diff’rent Strokes, Night Court. . . I admit, there are some programs still worth watching, but I don’t think you’ll find them on Wednesday night craparama. Really, do yourself a favor and go check out the latest comedy by your local theatre troupe. Not only do you know where the money goes, you will undoubtedly have a better time than sitting in front of your 56” LCD screen, letting the electronic gremlins steal your soul.

ABC is having it’s way with sitcoms and leaving them cold and wet on the floor without so much as a reacharound. Okay, that was a little rough. But they aren’t even giving us tripe, they are giving us substitute tripe. They start off with another Kelsey Grammer snorer (Hank), claiming that he’s BACK (yes, because that FOX show meant nothing). He’s a bigshot exec in New York who suddenly needs to relocate to a small town in Virginia closer to his hee-haw family. HI-larity. Why yes that WAS sarcasm, thanks for noticing. They follow that formula with another formula of Patricia Heaton as a Midwestern mother of three living in Indiana in The Middle. Makes me want to vomit a word rant, but I shall not do that here, where space is limited. The saving grace of ABC’s Wednesday night schmaltz and crap smorgasboard is Modern Family, filmed like a documentary by a Dutch film crew. While I admit it looks enticing, so does dog food after a bout of starvation. It seems a bit like the Arrested Development style, which might be refreshing or horribly, horribly boring. Cougar Town stars Courtney Cox as a MILFY 40-year old divorcee on the prowl for some fresh, young meat. Yawn. Finally ABC brings us ANOTHER rehash of something old, Eastwick, based on the film The Witches of Eastwick, based on the Updike novel of the same name. I sense that it will be as tempting to watch as eating cherries after watching the 1987 film.

CBS gives us more of the same with The New Adventure of Old Christine, which I assume is what Cougar Town is based off of, Gary Unmarried, or Gary Unfunny, followed by more Criminal Minds still without Mandy Patinkin, and CSI: New York, which has Gary Sinise without the Horatio glasses or one-liners. So, with CBS Wednesday’s, it’s simply the same old thing, but to be fair, every other network seems to be doing it, too.

The CW can suck it with America’s Next Top Model and The Beautiful Life (TBL). I refuse to write a single word more on this topic. Just do what I requested last year and give us two hours of new Firefly and Jericho. . . (Yes, I admit it’s a ploy to get more internet traffic and links by the rabid)

Ugh, how infuriating. FOX give us more So You Think You Can Dance, followed by “the surprise hit of the summer”, Glee. Glee seems to be about singing, and high school students singing. From the advertisements and promos, I would think it to be a rip-off of High School Mucousals. However, I could be wrong.

NBC, please please save us from the mediocrity of the night! Please! I implore you! What? Mercy. . . A hospital drama. . . set in “Mercy Hospital”. . . How. . . inspired. (yes, that was sarcasm again, very good of you to notice). Wow. Well, what else do you have? Oh, really? Law and Order: Family Court? No? Just Law & Order: SVU. . . Followed by the Jay Leno canned goods. . . I’m. . . nonplussed. I’m also full of ellipses. What I’m not. . . is impressed. . . by anything on Wednesday nights. It looks like my TIVO and TV can get a rest and I think maybe I will read a book or have a family game night. Thanks, execs, for bringing our family back together mid-week! I’m beginning to realize the true impact of the writer’s strike.


Originally published at Suburban Panic!. You can comment here or there.

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My Big New Project, Part 2

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I’d Like to Ruin Television For You, 2009-2010 edition: Monday

It’s that time of year again! The official listings are out for the new Television season, and if you’re anything like me, then you are simultaneously frothing and salivating over the garbage and secret delights coming in over the transom. My job here, as the guy who ruins TV for you, is to give a quick rundown of the best and worst that TV is offering we few, we happy few, we groundlings of the idiot box. I haven’t seen any of the new shows, but if there is one thing I know, it’s that the Large Hadron Collider won’t destroy the Universe™ anytime soon — that and what’s bad in entertainment.

First up, I begin our venture through the boob tube land by visiting the “Monday Night Lineup”. It doesn’t seem too much different from last year’s appalling dung-heap of LCD (Lowest Common Denominator) funny business. ABC gives us another round of the mindnumbingly number of the mind Dancing with the “Stars” (quotes mine), with some “Stars” I’ve never heard of, nor care to see Foxtrot across my new TV screen. Tom DeLay. . . Really? I’ve already seen his soft-shoe and his tap-dance and I wasn’t impressed then. Perhaps his prison stint has loosened him up, so to speak, but it still won’t get me watching that crapulated mission to fucktacular nonsense. Hmm. I think I should trademark that phrase. Anyway, it’s more of the same shit, different season. If I want to see a politician sing and dance, I’ll watch Charles Durning’s turn as the Governor in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Ooooooh, I love to dance a little sidestep!) A whole two freakin’ hours of that inner-taint-ment (okay, I promise no more ridiculous and awkward punnage). It’s followed by Castle, which has my semi-approval if only to keep Nathan “Cap’n Tightpants” Fillion’s career alive. The woman that is in the show with him is pretty cute, too. However, that’s not a reason to watch the mostly formulaic rehash of Moonlighting. Yes, yes, I know it’s not Moonlighting, but it might as well be – although they’d never be able to pull off Taming of the Shrew.

CBS continues its trend of mediocre to good comedies, starting with another season of Ted Moseby (Josh Radnor) trying to find “The One” that he speaks of in Bob Saget’s voice to his uninterested children in How I Met Your Mother. It’s actually a quite good show, despite being a comedy of situations, and the ensemble is strong. It also helps that I have a crush on Neil Patrick Harris (mostly for Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long blog), Alyson Hanagan (the whole Willow thing and, well, things she’s done with a flute), and Cobie Smulders (what’s not to love?). Josh Radnor reminds me of a good friend I had during Elementary and High School, and Jason Segal reminds me of one of my college roommates. So they’re both cool with me, too. On after HIMYM is a new comedy featuring Greg and Dharma’s enjoyable Jenna Elfman in a role not suited to her. The whole premise is highly convoluted about her getting pregnant by a friend and moving in for a platonic relationship but her party girl friends don’t want her to settle and she’s also being pursued by her ex and that friend she had the accidental kid with is still a kid himself. It’s really a mashup of bad ideas, much like most other CBS sitcoms. It would be just thirty minutes of wasted time waiting for the next funny show to come on, but it is followed by the Charlie Sheen-Jon Cryer show Two and a Half Men, so it’s much longer than that. In last year’s “I’d Like To Ruin Television for You”, I managed to say that it was actually a funny comedy, and I know I lost points with some of you on that. After watching a whole season, I retract those statements and renounce the show. . . except the end title cards with Chuck Lorre’s bits of wisdom. One thing I can assure you, in HD they are more readable, and when they are more readable, they are 76% funnier. It almost makes up for the lost 28 and a half minutes that precede the cards, but oh well. CBS does redeem itself at 9:30 PM with The Big Bang Theory. It is a pop culture geek phenomenon that I willingly and most assuredly rate as last season’s funniest show, as well as the best of all shows last season. Looking over the microwaved meatloaf and coagulated mac and cheese that the execs call new, I can prematurely proclaim them to still keep that title. If you haven’t watched, do yourself a favor and Netflix the first season. If you don’t think it’s even remotely funny, then you probably are not doing yourself any favors by reading my tripe, either. CBS plunks down its Monday night anchor with Horatio Cane taking off and putting on sunglasses in CSI:Miami. The most unwatchable of the three.

Fuck if I’m even going to mention CW’s Monday night schedule.

Fox gives us another season of HOUSE, followed by another season of HOUSE with Tim Roth. Oh, and Jennifer Beals is on the show. I’m kind of beyond House, now. I’ll watch it in repeats, but I won’t bother to DVR it. Lie to Me*, the House with Roth, appeals as much as plantar’s warts and reflux. So, Fox is a skip for Monday night.

NBC gives us another installment of Heroes. Honestly, if it weren’t for Greg “Grunny” Grunberg’s sexuality, his incessant cries of “Yowsa!”, and his underplayed, (and unfortunately underutilized character), I’d give up entirely. I’m extraordinarily tired of the Petrelli good/evil plotlines, the Sylar good/evil plotlines, the Hiro losing his power plotlines, and the Claire-Daddy issue plotlines. I guess I am tired of the tired old plotlines. The most interesting story line they played was one that never played out – with the alternate version of the future. That dystopic look was awesome and they should have gone balls-out with it. Instead, they wimped out. I’ve pretty much given up on Heroes. I don’t know if I can swallow another volume. Sorry, Grunny. If it turns out to be good, I’ll get it on Netflix or On Demand or something, but I won’t waste my Monday DVRing on it ever again. I’ve been duped too many times. I think there is another show on after that – yes, Trauma. Trauma is a drama (hah) about paramedics. I think I saw this before – it was called Emergency! or Third Watch or something like that. Really, I have no use for that show. If I want to see real heroes I’ll go talk to some firefighters or volunteer EMT’s in my own town. They are far more entertaining anyway. I’d also include Jay Leno’s show in the Ten spot, but I refuse to acknowledge his existence until Andy Hallet is properly honored.

So, that is the schmaltz and shit filled Monday evening, and by this blogger’s reckoning, Monday night is owned by CBS, but barely. My advice is to tape/DVR the two best things on that night (and my vote goes to How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory) then go out and dump some money into the economy or volunteer at a soup kitchen. Either way, you are in for more entertainment and excitement dodging H1N1 than sitting on your couch wasting your brain on TV. My brain is fired just talking about one day of the new season, so the next six will have to come in installments. I know, you’re quivering with anticipation. . . like Jell-O™ (brand gelatin).

NEXT: Tuesday Night belongs to the Visitors. . .

Originally published at Suburban Panic!. You can comment here or there.

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My Big New Project

So my estimation that I would return here after the bar exam was slightly exaggerated. Fortunately for you, this isn’t the standard “OMG I’ve been so busy” post, where I list all the various things that have been distracting me, and make vague (and finally fruitless) promises to start blogging again. Instead, I’m going to regale you with tales of my new “big project,” which is – unlike almost every idea I’ve ever had – actually taking off.

It’s called Grassroots Skeptics. It’s a volunteer organization to help skeptics find, start and manage groups of reason-minded folks at the local level.

In case you’re new here, I try my damnedest to live a life grounded in reason and critical thinking. I try to understand arguments, weigh evidence and research things, instead of relying on kneejerk, biased opinions (my own included).

The idea behind Grassroots Skeptics is to take that philosophy and turn it into outreach. Rather than sit around patting myself on the back for being super smrt, I want to use my energy to help people understand why reasoning skills are so necessary, and how they can learn to think critically a little more often.

There are a lot of local skeptics groups meeting all over the place, providing social support for skeptics, and conducting outreach and education in their communities. But most of them are kind of operating in a little geographic bubble. My big – and hopefully not insane – idea is to get them working together a little bit more, sharing idea and strategies, and making it easier for them to connect to new members. If they can get advice and guidance on how to tackle a particular issue, instead of starting from scratch, maybe we can make their outreach a little more effective.

It’s a lot of planning and coordination and information gathering right now, but we’re getting a lot of positive feedback. The response has really been gratifying; now, I just have to turn that into useful action.

Our first big milestone is the rollout of our new website, at We’ve got a sad little placeholder site right now, but we’ve got a shiny, feature packed version (almost) in the tubes and ready to launch. The new site goes live on Friday, September 4th. If you’ve got any interest in the future of mankind, or if you don’t hate babies, swing by next Friday and take a look.

In the meantime, you can hook up with Grassroots Skeptics on Twitter and Facebook, and get more information through our sign-up sheet, or by email to

So I hope you’ll come check out the site next Friday. And forgive my lack of blogging activity. I’d love to say that I’ll be back soon, but I think we both know that’s not true. Don’t make me lie to you, baby.

Originally published at Suburban Panic!. You can comment here or there.

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(So Many More) Collected Observations

These little interstitials are about the only thing keeping me from hijacking a bus and driving it through the front window of a dynamite factory, so you’re going to have to put up with them, at least for the next week or so. After that, I’ll either have time to put together a proper post, or I’ll be curled up in a ball somewhere trying to figure out how I’m going to pay my student loans by begging for change at the bus stop.

  • I think I’ve discovered a heretofore unrecognized pattern in my behavior. Stress makes me apathetic. The more tense I get about something, the harder it is to give a rat’s ass about it. I think my brain has a built in “who gives a fuck?” valve, to prevent me going apeshit.
  • There is no easy or convenient way to move from one house to another, short of setting all your accumulated stuff on fire and starting over. And replacing it all gets expensive.
  • Things law school has taken away from me, #703: the ability to skip a software license agreement without feeling guilty. Nobody actually slogs through the entire End User License Agreement after downloading the newest version of iTunes. It borders on the physically impossible; by the time you’ve finished reading the last EULA, a new version of the software will be ready to download. But after three years of law school, I can’t help feeling a little ashamed of myself when I skip the text and click on the button to (falsely) indicate that I have read and agreed to abide by the onerous terms.
  • It’s amazing what a difference 20 minutes can make re: the density of assholes and elbows on a morning bus. When I take the 7:30 bus, it’s packed all the way into Center City. This morning, I dragged my swiftly sagging ass out of bed earlier, and made it onto the 7:10. There were half a dozen of us. I was able to read my outline without holding my bag on my lap, or worrying about socking somone in the kidney when I turned a page.
  • I had a dream the other night that consisted entirely of reading emails from a Twitter friend with whom I’ve never actually exchanged email correspondence. They were entirely mundane and unexciting, and yet the whole thing was the emails on the screen. I neither looked away from the monitor, nor switched to another task. Which is how I know it was a dream; IRL, I’m switching between windows like a hummingbird with a meth habit.
  • At the urging of dispensary owners, the city of Oakland is planning to tax medical marijuana. Hopefully this will vindicate the claim that taxing marijuana sales would provide a significant boost to government budgets. Not that this would be enough to get this country to abandon its insane prohibitionary fervor, but it might be a start.

Originally published at Suburban Panic!. You can comment here or there.