Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How I Got Over Myself and Learned to Love Community

Confession time. I didn't like Community when it premiered. Not because it wasn't a good show, it's quality was never an issue with me, but because I actually teach at a community college. This show was invading my home turf, and I didn't appreciate it. Just from the promos alone, I knew I would hate it and spend all my time pointing out to whoever would listen that "real" community colleges aren't like that at all. (I can be insufferable like that.) So rather than waste my time with an inaccurate portrayal of my workplace, I smugly ignored it.

Some of you want to smack me through the internet, don't you? Don't fret, I did not remain in the Darkest Timeline.

After some soul searching and introspection (and one of my favorite shows referencing it in their opening titles) I realized that I may have been mistaken about Community. Perhaps my pride got in the way and I dismissed what would have been a fun television experience because they didn't get it "right." I decided to borrow the first season from the public library (thanks, taxpayers) and watch an episode that everyone was talking about: Modern Warfare, the legendary paintball episode. If I liked it, then I might like the show.

Twenty-two minutes later I was a diehard fan.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

There's Never A Final Showdown

The evil Empire has a space station that can destroy planets. The Joker is about to poison Gotham City's water supply. The Dark Lord's armies are about to crush the Muggles. Things are bad, and all seems lost for our heroes. But just as the darkness is about to close in, a hero will rise and face down this evil. The hero and villain have a final showdown, and in the end, everyone is saved.

It's the same story since Beowulf. A great evil plagues the land and we need a hero to stop it. That's the appeal of the Hero's Quest, from Star Wars, Batman, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, quite a few fairy tales, and every other epic adventure. We love it for several reasons, not the least of which is we identify with the hero, imagining ourselves as the most important person in the realm, if not the galaxy, because we're the ones who vanquish evil forever. All it takes is a few good moves with a sword, wand, or light saber, and the day is saved.

That's the other draw. How does the fairy tale end? "And they lived happily ever after." In these tales, all the troubles in the land are caused by this one supreme evil. When that dastardly villain is beaten, all is right with the world and there is peace and prosperity throughout the land. I can definitely see the appeal of these stories.

Monday, January 21, 2013

How I Met Your Mother: "Ring Up"

Quick Review: It's like the series forgot that this is supposed to be a love story between a man and his future wife.

Episode Synopsis: Barney believes it would be in Ted's best interest to continue dating his much younger, much more uninhibited girlfriend, despite having very little in common with her. Meanwhile, Robin adjusts to the powerful dynamic of wearing an engagement ring. -tvguide

As usual, there are spoilers ahead, so you might want to watch the episode first. And, while you're at it, Lord of the Rings. It gets referenced quite a bit, and while the gag has been done before, it still works. Besides, if you haven't seen Lord of the Rings, you really should. You don't even need to see the extended editions, but if you can, you really should. There's so much more added to the story. Then, if you're feeling like it, watch the Star Wars trilogy again. Because why not. It's the Star Wars trilogy. And if you think I'm talking about the prequels, let me assure you, I'm not. I'm never talking about the prequels.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Why we need a Back to the Future remake


I know what you’re thinking. There are too many remakes already, don’t give Hollywood any more ideas. Normally, I agree, and I’d hate to see most of my beloved 80′s movies remade. To be fair, they did a good job with Footloose, but the less said about Red Dawn, the better.

Most of the time I’m ambivalent about remakes, but this is one case in which a remake is a good idea. I know, it sounds sacrilegious, but hear me out. This is not another case of Hollywood being out of ideas, it's Hollywood having a very good idea.

Besides, it’s not like we’ve never had good remakes before. Some of our most beloved movies are remakes. Ben Hur, Wizard of Oz, and The Muppet Christmas Carol are fantastic remakes of previous films.

Each was more than just a cynical cash grab; it was either an improvement over the previous version, or it added something new the original lacked. That’s the key to a proper remake: there’s a good reason for it, and Back to the Future has a very, very good reason for being remade.

Monday, January 14, 2013

How I Met Your Mother: "Band or DJ?"

Quick Review: For better or worse, it all ends in four months.

Episode Synopsis: Despite having already popped the question, Robin insists that Barney seek her father's permission before the couple can announce their engagement. Meanwhile, a conflicted Ted throws himself into the planning of the their wedding. -tvguide 

Spoilers ahead, and I'm not kidding around. You not only want to watch this episode before reading my review, you'll want to have watched the entire series up to this point, because I'm bringing the spoilers. That's right, there's a spoiler here, a spoiler there, it's like Oprah's Favorite Things and her favorite things are spoilers. You get a spoiler and you get a spoiler. That's why this isn't just red, it's bolded. That's how serious I am about warning you. I will spoil just about everything in the following writeup. Some things I might not have needed to spoil, but I did it anyway. That's how I roll, but at least I do you the courtesy of a warning. Other people would just let loose with the spoilers without warning you, but not me. I'm courteous. I spoil politely, as is proper in civilized society. In fact, I believe that even Miss Manners has attested to the need for spoiler alters in polite company. That's right, I just name-dropped Miss Manners. Deal with that.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

This Open Letter to the Spider in my Car

Dear spider in my car,

I won't ask how you got into my car. You are an engine of pure evil and hate, forged from my every nightmare, of course you'd get in there. I should be asking what took you so long to find me in one of my most vulnerable spots. It's the perfect place for an assassination attempt, which is why I presume you were there. I'm in traffic, belted to the seat, a literal captive audience. What about that setup isn't perfect for you?

Was it too easy? Did you find the lack of challenge boring? Because let me tell you, my terror was real. I pride myself on making sure that my face is not within four feet of any live spider. To see you crawling around on my visor was not what I expected when I flipped it down to shade my eyes. I was expecting to see better without the sun in my eyes. And I did. I saw all too clearly the terror that skitters on eight legs.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

This Relationship Corner: The Major Procedure

What's the difference between a minor and major surgical procedure? The major procedure is what happens to you. That's how I feel when I have to go to the doctor or when my wife has to endure anything medical at all. A while back she went in for an outpatient procedure at the hospital. She was in and out that day, but it was still pretty major in my book. Fortunately everything went as well as it could have, and she is feeling so much better now.

This is a moment that can be a proving ground for relationships. I've written before about caring for your significant when they are sick, but that's nothing compared to supporting them through a surgical procedure. If there is one big rule in relationships, one commandment that should be written in stone, it's that when surgery is involved, you first priority is your partner.