Tag Archives: 30 rock

Goodbye, New York

It’s been five days since I left New York, and as is the case with week-old nostalgia, I often find myself thinking about the city.  I’ve always loved the vibrancy of New York, the energy, and even the street meat smell.  Since I left, I have found myself missing those aspects of the city: the pavement-pounding commuters, the holier-than-thou coffeeshops, the 3 AM chicken and rice.  Most of all, though, I miss the people.  I miss the tour guide in Midtown who attracts customers by telling people his name is Kofi Annan (“Really? I’ve totally heard your name before.  You’re a famous tour guide!”).  I miss the crazy (and perhaps sight-challenged) men who would hoot at me in the mornings (“Hey baby, you’re looking fine in those Old Navy dress pants.”).  I miss the friends who came with me, during my last week in the city, to visit a heralded NYC institution–the Olive Garden in Times Square.

While I lived in New York, I had my complaints too.  For me, the city was expensive, crowded, and dirty.  Rats were everywhere, as if the Pied Piper had settled in Manhattan.  Over the last four months, I lived on the Upper East Side, where Juicy-Couture-wearing poodles would be juxtaposed with the pigeon-poop-lined sidewalks.  I’d dodge feces of all kinds (dog, rodent, fowl) as I walked to work.

But as nostalgia goes, all my complaints about New York are now forgotten.  The good memories are the ones that remain: dancing with kilted Scotsmen at Gatsby’s, table-searching in the basement of 30 Rock, discussing pedophiles on Wednesday nights, finding the best fajitas in town (still Zarela’s), Zog Sports football, Central Park, 24-hour diners, even Joshua Tree.

I think that anytime something ends, there is an afterwards period of great reflection and self-doubt.  If I were in an early-90s TV show, I’d be sitting next to a bay window now, a single tear streaming down one cheek, watching the rain fall outside.  Am I doing the right thing?  Am I just being crazy?  Who chooses LA over New York??  Where did my stoic, hardened, East-Coast-is-the-Beast-Coast mentality go?

Well… I don’t know the answer to that right now.  But with regards to the city of New York, I’ll quote the modern-day, muscled bard of California: I’ll be back… perhaps.

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Corporate Retreats to Move Forward

Last Monday, I arrived in upstate New York to attend a week-long corporate retreat. Similar to 30 Rock’sRetreat to Move Forward“, the event featured an overabundance of acronyms, workcest, and drunk people talking about synergy. There were two distinct employee types at the retreat: those who had drank the Kool-Aid, and those who had kicked the Kool-Aid man in the legs. The former spent most of their time fawning to the speakers and chanting “Cash is king”, while the latter gorged themselves on free food and made hand puppets out of the course materials.

kool-aidKool-Aid drinkers or not, all of us had been invited to the retreat as “future leaders” of the company. So throughout the five days, we went through the leadership curriculum specifically designed for twenty-something professionals: we built balloon furniture, ran paper fish races, and wrote poems about our values. We spent three hours discussing five simple principles of time management. We drew stick figures, reviewed the most potent action verbs, and learned that conversations are shaped like triangles… naturally.

While we constructed haikus and had serious discussions about the Snuggie, by Friday, our company’s stock had fallen 10%. Perhaps Wall Street was concerned that the company’s future leaders were bad poets with non-triangular conversing techniques. Or perhaps, it had known that “corporate retreat” really meant “costly company-sponsored drinking in a mostly futile attempt to indoctrinate employees with propaganda.”

balloonchairBut in defense of corporate retreats, by the end of the week, the Kool-Aid drinking employees and the tequila-drinking employees could both agree that we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The company suckups were excited by newly-learned elevator speeches, synergistic terms, and reinforced business pillars. The corporate degenerates were content to count the layers of fat that they had accumulated over the five days of sitting, eating, and boozing. In both cases, one could argue that the retreat boosted employee morale, and in some cases, even productivity.

So, if that increased productivity is enough to justify the $56 billion in corporate training spent in 2008, then I’m down for more Retreats to Move Forward in 2009. If not, well, at least I can build some balloon armchairs to fill up my living room. It’s a recession after all.

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Best All-Around: Damages (10 pm, Wednesdays, FX)

Now that awards season is upon us, it’s time to reflect on the past fall’s TV lineup and welcome the spring slate of shows (new and returning) that will ease our winter hibernation. While American Idol will likely win its 8th “Most Popular” title in a row, here are some television superlatives, high school-style, for your viewing pleasure:

MOST POPULAR: American Idol (8 pm, Tuesdays, FOX) The crazier Paula Abdul gets, the better ratings the show receives… That’s a good combination for FOX, since that woman is straight up insane, and Simon’s getting a bit boring.

tim-rigginsBEST LOOKING: It’s a toss-up between Simon Baker on The Mentalist (9 pm, Tuesdays, CBS) and Taylor Kitsch as Tim Riggins of Friday Night Lights (9 pm, Fridays, NBC). Given that Riggs is actually in high school, perhaps he deserves this award. On the other side, I’ll let the guys decide who they prefer on Gossip Girl (8 pm, Mondays, CW): Blair or Serena?

MOST CRAZY (IN A GOOD WAY): Tracy Jordan and Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock (9:30 pm, Thursdays, NBC)… This is why 30 Rock won 5 Golden Globes.

MOST CRAZY (IN A BAD WAY): Mrs. B as a crazy mom on the reality show, Momma’s Boys, which had its season finale on Monday night. Her poor son Jojo (who, by the way, was looking for love at the ripe old age of 21) tried to win over girls after his mother’s racist speech, declaring all but white Catholics suitable for her darling son. Jojo may need to try the priesthood now that this show has aired.

Layout 1BIGGEST TRAIN WRECK: I will nominate the entire cast of Grey’s Anatomy (9 pm, Thursdays, ABC) for this award. Let’s see, George has slept with 3 of the female leads, Meredith has had two ridiculous near death experiences (hand in bomb, ferryboat accident), and now Izzie is sleeping with the ghost of her dead ex-fiance (whom she accidentally killed). I used to watch this show religiously… these days, it’s lucky to get DVRed.

SAD FOR HUMANITY: There are a whole host of shows that fall into this category–Tool Academy on VH1, Rock of Love 2 on MTV, Nip/Tuck on FX (how fast it’s fallen)–but the runaway winner is MTV’s A Double Shot at Love, with the Ikki Twins. I think it’s pretty easy to justify how this show is sad for humanity; if you Google “double shot at love,” the first link leads to this proclamation: “OMG! i love a double shot at love even know im 10 years old i stull love you guys you guys are buteyful.” Future of America…

KILL IT NOW: We like watching fictional rich girls live out melodramas on the Upper East Side, but we don’t like watching melodramatic rich girls live out fictional storylines in The City (10 pm, Mondays, MTV). Spare us the misery of watching Whitney attempt to be interesting. I’d almost rather watch Bromance on repeat than sit through another episode of The City… well, almost. In both scenarios, death would be a welcome alternative.

damagesBEST ALL-AROUND: Speaking of death, I wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of Glenn Close as Patty Hewes on Damages (10 pm, Wednesdays, FX). Why is it that Glenn Close always plays crazy so well? With the best cast, the best plotlines, and the best stony looks on television (thanks, Rose Byrnes), Damages is my new favorite show (FNL is a close #2). And you know it’s got to be good when you need to keep a light on while watching.

WHAT I’LL BE WATCHING THIS SPRING: (suggestions, comments, insults, and digs always appreciated)

Monday:

8 PM: Gossip Girl (CW)

9:30 PM: Samantha Who (ABC)

Tuesday:

8 PM: The Biggest Loser (NBC)

Wednesday:

9 PM: Lost (ABC)

10 PM: Damages (FX) / Top Chef (Bravo)

Thursday:

9 PM: The Office (NBC) / 30 Rock (NBC) / Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)

Friday:

9 PM: Friday Night Lights (NBC)

And on occasion: Bones (8 pm, Thursdays, FOX), Without a Trace (10 pm, Tuesdays, CBS…and the only CBS show I’m watching), House Hunters and Property Virgins (HGTV), Iron Chef America (Food Network)

They’ve got potential: Some new shows with promise… Kings (8 pm, Sundays, NBC), Lie to Me (9 pm, Wednesdays, FOX)

 

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The Best Shows on Television

My favorite TV shows (current):

#1: Friday Night Lights: One of the best shows of all time…that no one watches. This show has actually made me want to visit Texas in search of Tim Riggins. Gritty, real, heart-wrenching… any show that prominently features Applebees has to be high on one’s list. FNL is currently airing its 3rd (and likely last) season on DirecTV, although it will be re-aired on NBC in the spring.

#2: 30 Rock: With the emergence of Tina Palin’s new uber-celebrity, hopefully people will start watching it now. One of my favorite clips below… Coming back Oct. 30 on NBC Thursdays.

#3: Grey’s Anatomy: Our protagonist, Meredith, is whiny, neurotic, and somehow still likable. Add in floods, flesh-eating bacteria, and McDreamy, and this makes it a can’t-miss.

#4: The Office: The show that has made “that’s what she said” into an automatic, kneejerk reaction whenever you hear something like, “It [the test] was pretty hard,” or, “It [the shirt] was a little too long.”

#5: Lost: It’s kind of been out-of-sight, out-of-mind… When it comes back in January, it may catapult up this list.

Honorable Mentions: Gossip Girl (needs a longer track record to make this list), Damages (same as GG; needs a second good year to build off its first amazing season), Heroes (I’ve stopped watching this season… should try to pick it back up again), Project Runway (this cast has been kind of blah though), The Biggest Loser (always fun to watch other people work out while struggling to reach the remote from my place on the couch), So You Think You Can Dance (…dance, dance, dance)

Other shows I enjoy: Bones, Monk, Samantha Who, Jon & Kate Plus 8, The Amazing Race, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Designers Challenge, and most everything on the Food Network

Favorite TV shows (no longer airing):

#5: Dawson’s Creek

#4: Alias

#3: Frasier

#2: Will & Grace

#1: Friends

Honorable Mentions: Saved by the Bell, The Cosby Show, Fresh Price of Bel-Air, Cheers, Golden Girls, Mad About You

Shows I’ve never seen (or only saw a few episodes), but are on the to-watch list:

#5: Flight of the Conchords

#4: Brothers and Sisters

#3: 24

#2: The Wire

#1: Arrested Development (on DVD, I suppose)

Shows that make me sad for America: (ironically, all reality shows)

#5: The Moment of Truth

#4: The Real Housewives of Orange County

#3: A Shot of Love with Tila Tequila

#2: Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader

#1: My Super Sweet Sixteen

Honorable Mentions: Paris Hilton’s My New BFF, My Super Sweet Sixteen presents: Exiled, I Survived a Japanese Game Show

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You Just Don’t Mess With Must-See TV

With the return of television’s hottest heartthrobs like McDreamy, McSteamy, and Michael Scott in a fat suit, TV is officially back from its eight-month hiatus. During the next few weeks, network execs are undoubtedly waiting to see if audiences will also come back…especially after enduring a long summer of repeats, Japanese game show knock-offs, and Deal or No Deal.

While some may have enjoyed a continuous helping of Howie Mandel as a placeholder for quality programming, I am slightly skeptical that viewers will come running back with open arms to their favorite old shows. After all, to put it in economic terms, TV is a normal good with plenty of substitutes. When the writers strike halted production earlier this year, viewers naturally altered their behavior. Instead of installing themselves on the couch for 30 Rock every Thursday, people may have gone to the gym, read a magazine, or, God forbid, even had conversations with their families during dinner. Plus, some Americans are probably still ticked off about the strike itself; instead of watching our 401ks plummet, it would have been nice to have a quality show on TV to distract us.

So now, even if viewership returns to their normal levels, is this necessarily a positive development? For everyone who does NOT work at a television network, the answer may be no.

To illustrate this point, I have included a graph which shows how substitutes to television (like reading, exercise, and family time) may have crept into our daily routines… and how such activities may be preferable to Project Runway marathons:

  • Lower TV consumption = High literacy, healthy kids, more time with family = Not so bad?
  • Higher TV consumption = Low literacy, rampant obesity, excessive Paris Hilton exposure, remake of Knight Rider = Armageddon?

Then again, if 30 Rock gets canceled and I never find out what happened to Liz Lemon’s baby quest, someone’s gonna pay… and it might be the woman on the neighboring elliptical at the gym. I’ve got a lot of aggression.

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